Monday, December 17, 2012

Welcoming the holidays with a freebie and reflecting on Sandy Hook

Friday started out as a pretty good day - it was the last day of school for us for a three week (!) holiday break. After school, I stopped by the office and heard about what happened at Sandy Hook. At the time, I think I was just in shock, and since then, I have had a hard time NOT thinking about it. As a mother and a teacher, I cannot fathom the terror those children, their families, and their teachers endured on Friday. My heart goes out to those affected in Newtown, CT and it makes me incredibly grateful for every second I have with my own children.

(My kiddos seeing Santa... I couldn't get my daughter to sit on his lap!)

On a lighter note... We are now off on break and I'm enjoying a little bit of R&R! The last few days of school, I tried to keep things as academic as possible although the kiddos were CRAAAAZZZZYYY! One of the activities we did was graphing holiday M&Ms. The regular M&Ms this year are just two colors - green and red (weren't the greens a light green and a dark green in the past? Maybe it's just me...). However, you can use mint M&Ms (yummm...) or these:

Here's how they turned out!

If you'd like your own FREE copy, just click below!

Off to snuggle with my sweeties... Have a happy Monday!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

I'm BAAACCCKKK!!!! Plus a giveaway and a TpT sale!

Okay, so I have been gone over two months.

Agh! I seriously logged in and cringed when I saw my last post date.

Things. Have. Been. Crazy.

That's the long and the short of it! If it's too early to make a New Year's resolution, oh well - mine is to be a more dedicated poster.

Despite my blogging absence, I've been working on a few projects. One of my newest products is a little goodie called "Mad About Science."

It includes an info sheet for kids and parents on the steps of the scientific method, a little assessment, and blank experiment recording sheets that are appropriate for any experiment. This file goes for just $2.00 in my TpT store, but the first two posters to comment on this post and include their email addresses will receive it FREE!

Also, my entire TpT store is on sale now through Tuesday. Use code CMT12 at checkout Monday and Tuesday for an extra 10% off!

Have a great week back from Thanksgiving!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Freebie labels!

Is anyone else OVERWHELMED with the year so far? I am! My room isn't quite how I want it to be yet, and I'm trying to get ahead (okay, who am I kidding? CATCH UP!) on planning and such. Our school day was extended this year, and while I'm LOVING the extra time, it's wearing me out a bit.


Well, folks, these are probably superduper late for many of you, but maybe they'll be helpful for some of ya!

I've created six labels to label notebooks/folders for your kiddos, plus a bonus label for birthday books. (I give my students a book for their birthday. Many of my students don't have books at home, so I try to give my kiddos books for their birthdays, holidays, as rewards, etc.)

Click on the picture below to grab yours!

(Note: These can be printed on 4x3.33" labels. Make sure the page sizing is set to "none" so the labels print correctly.)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Revamp Your Classroom - FOR FREE!

Oh boy. That about sums up the past few weeks. Things have been CRAZY around here. We are already in week 4 (!) of school, and I won't lie - I'm still trying to get things ready for the year. Long story short - we've had major changes in the length of the school day, how preps work, and all the Common Core fun we're all adjusting to. Let's just say - I'm exhausted! ANYWAYS... I felt inspired to post because I had a DonorsChoose project funded today! Woo hoo!
Math game organizer... Yippee!!!
To those of you who are unfamiliar with DonorsChoose, it is a website that links donors to classrooms in need. All US public school classrooms are eligible to post projects. You request materials you need or want for your classroom from a variety of websites (Lakeshore, Quill, and Best Buy are my faves), write a short essay about why your students should receive donations, and VOILA! Within a couple days, the project is posted and ready to get donations.

In five years, I've had 38 projects funded, almost entirely by strangers. We've received awesome donations, like whisper phones, BOOKS, a field trip to see a Mo Willems play, netbooks... Great essentials and fun things I could never afford to buy myself.

Here are some tips for getting funded:
1. Keep your requests small. DonorsChoose recommends less than $400... But really, I think less than $200 is best (ALL of my requests under $200 have been funded). So if you can request items in smaller sets, do so.

2. Time your requests with corporate partnerships. Sonic is donating hundreds of thousands of dollars this month, so it's the perfect time to post a project.

3. Write really awesome thank you notes. Bind student thank yous, or create a neat presentation for them. Many donors will come back to help you with future projects.

4. PR! Use Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest to share your project with family and friends.

If you've used DonorsChoose, what have you requested? Do you have any funding tips to add?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Back to School Sale!

Okay, these blog posts are getting so super short... But we officially go back with kiddos tomorrow! I am trying to squeeze as much work as possible into nap time, knowing that I'll be up late tonight (but I always am the night before school starts - I still get nervous)!

Anyways, I am having a SALE in my TpT store! Everything is 20% off, and if you enter the code BTS12 at checkout, you save an extra 10%! What a great way to stock up on goodies for your classroom!

Many stores, including {MINE!} are participating. Click the picture below to go to Blog Hoppin' for their full list of participating stores!

Super cute image courtesy of Amy Lemons

Monday, August 6, 2012

More Binder Covers!

I had a request for more binder covers that go with the black and white freebies in my TpT store, so I added more! There are three new ones:
Benchmark Assessments
Staff Information
Student Information
Grab them {HERE}.

(So this is ridiculously short, but I am in minor panic mode... Scrambling to set up my room + Open House on Thursday + kids coming Monday = AGH! I'll post more this week - hopefully with PICTURES of my finished classroom - and some more files for ya!)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Freebie Behavior Charts for Parents

Well, summer break is officially over as of tomorrow... Teachers (in my school anyway) have to go back tomorrow for PD. Three days this week, three days next week... Then kids come on August 13th. Summer FLEW by (maybe having a baby and getting no sleep has contributed to that... Ha!).

Soooo... My to-do list has 183,672 items on it, and this was one of them... Behavior charts that match my clip charts!

My plan for these is to print them on white cardstock each month. I will probably print in color (since it's not that much color... the squares are tiny), although the file includes all the same pages in black and white that the students can color in if you desire. We have hard plastic homework folders with prongs, and I typically put three or four page protectors in the prongs to hold the school-distributed calendar, prep schedule, and other important info. (Side note: I also put in a zipper binder pouch to hold notes and money for book orders, field trips, etc... It works wonderfully!)

When I go to Lakeshore this weekend, I'm going to pick up these:

Here's my thinking: At the end of the day, as students are writing homework and packing up, I'll call kids by table (or maybe by color they end on?) to meet me for a stamp (using the Do-A-Dot stamper) on their calendar. You'll see on my behavior chart I've included reasons why a student may have clipped down... I'll mark those on the chart before stamping. The paint/ink dries fast, so I don't think I'll have much of a problem. Bonus: The pink is in a separate pack that is allegedly glittery - so fancy for my kiddos who reach the top of the chart!

Interested in grabbing the behavior charts for yourself? Click {HERE}.

I linked up with 4th Grade Frolics for Monday Made It!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Spreadin' Some Blog Love :)

I'm so happy to be able to have a teeny tiny bit of time to blog this summer and also to check out other teachers' awesome ideas on their blogs. I want to send a big thanks to First Grade and Fearless for awarding me the Versatile Blogger Award!

Now it's my turn to nominate some great blogs!

Versatile Blogger Award:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
  2. Include a link to their site.
  3. Include the award image in your post.
  4. Give 7 random facts about yourself.
  5. Nominate 5 - 10 other bloggers, include their link,  and let them know.
 7 Random Facts About Me!
  1. Before I entered teaching, I actually wanted to be a doctor and had been in physical therapy school. After a trimester I got my act together and started taking education courses. Best. Decision. Ever!
  2. I have never been west of St. Louis, with the exception of Hawaii. Maybe I should add traveling to my bucket list!
  3. I love to read young adult lit. My absolute favorite series ever is The Hunger Games. Divergent is a great book that is much like HG if anyone is interested!
  4. My first year of teaching, I taught 8th grade science. Not quite my cup of tea. I'm going into my sixth year of teaching first and I'm SO happy with the young ones!
  5. When I was in kindergarten, my dream job was being a magician. 
  6. I love me some cupcakes. We have a lot of great cupcake shops around here, which is both a blessing and a curse! I like 'em plain, too... Vanilla cupcake with vanilla frosting!
  7. Seven is my lucky number... I was born March 7 at 7:07am!
Who else should receive this award??
Teaching in a Nutshell

Go check 'em out!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

More black and white stuff - a {FREE} clip chart!

So, I know I posted another clip chart previously, but I thought I'd make one in black and white to coordinate with those of you who do a black and white theme.

I also made the top two and bottom two levels smaller to make a shorter chart.

Just click {HERE} to download for free!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Newbie Blog Hop

Grade Three is the Place for Me! is hosting a Newbie Blog Hop! I'm just getting started on this whole teacher blogging thing so I thought I'd join in!

    1.  what state you are in  Illinois

    2.  your current teaching position I teach first grade and love it!
    3.  your teaching experience My first year of teaching, I taught 8th grade science (GULP!) in a middle school (YIKES!). I am now going into my sixth year of teaching firsties and I LOVE it!
    4.  when you started blogging I had VERY casually tried out blogging last year, but started getting into it more just this April.
    5.  share a blogging tip / blogging resource PINTEREST! Okay, I'm mildly obsessed, but you can search for teacher blogs there and also follow some fave bloggers as well.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

MORE {FREE!} Binder Covers and Spines!

I've gone through and added some more binder covers and spines in the black and white theme. They're two separate FREE downloads in my TpT Store.

The covers/spines include:
Lesson Plans
Teacher Binder
Substitute Binder
Student Data
RtI Documentation
Parent Contact
IEP Information
Common Core

Just click {HERE} for the the lesson plan, gradebook, and teacher binder covers/spines. Click {HERE} for the sub binder, student data, common core, RtI, parent contact, and IEP covers/spines.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

{FREE!} Black and white binder covers

Just a quick update... I have made new binder covers! In the past I've had a teacher binder that contained ALL my important info (calendar, unit plans, lesson plans, gradebook, meeting notes, etc.), but it was ENORMOUS! This year, I'm moving to three separate binders (lesson plans, for unit and daily plans; gradebook; and a teacher binder for meeting notes, grade level forms, IEP info, student data, and other important info).

So I redid my binder covers. Here they are! I've also made a page with spines that you can trim to fit the size binder you'll be using.

The PDF you download won't have the annoying spelling squiggly line!

Go to my TpT store {HERE} to download your free copy!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

FREE Classroom library bin labels

Just a quick post to share my classroom library bin labels!

Last year I changed my book baskets to the large, clear bins from School Specialty (although Lakeshore and other stores carry similar ones), to better show the covers of some of my larger picture books. Therefore, I redid my labels to the ones you see in this post.

I printed and glued each label to black cardstock, then attached a colored sticker (I buy mine from, which is a library supply store) with a number for each bin to the right side of the label. All the books that belong in that basket have the matching color/number sticker in the top corner. (I'll update this post later once I'm back in my classroom and can take some pictures of my book bins and books!) Fiction books have yellow stickers, series/author books have green stickers, nonfiction books have blue stickers, and chapter books have pink stickers. You can see my library organization below (I have this sign posted in the classroom library area):

Click {HERE} to download my library organization list.

My library bin labels are in two downloads due to size:

Click to download:
Library Book Bin Labels Set 1
Library Book Bin Labels Set 2


Friday, July 6, 2012

Ending the nameplate dilemma

Over the years, I've struggled with the best way to label kids' desk spots. I love those huge 18" nameplates that have space for the name plus all the reference information (letters/pictures, number grid, shape words, blah blah blah). So I usually would go buy something like this:

In a feeble attempt to get it to stick down for more than two seconds, I tried masking tape, contact paper, packing tape... You know the drill. But at least the kids were stuck with their own peeling nametag if they chose to destroy it.

Then a couple years ago, we got tables. They are FABULOUS! No room for my hoarders to stuff random papers. However, NOTHING stuck to them, until I found these at Lakeshore:

(So apparently, they're discontinued now... Oh well!)

They worked okay... They stuck down alright, but the kids would peel up the top clear plastic layer. You could slide nametags out, which was nice for moving kids at tables, but then kids who destroyed their nametag sleeve left behind a peely mess for the next kid.

I racked my brain for what to do for next year. Then I realized, why not make PLACEMATS, not nameplates, that could a) have the kid's name and b) all the important reference info but c) be moveable - kids could grab it if they need it, put it away if they don't, and - get this - keep the tables NEAT, CLEAN, and PEELY-FREE!

So I made this:

(Okay, so ignore my lame-o fake name... I didn't want to use a real name of a kiddo. I am so uncreative!)

The file is two pages. On the left, there's a nametag-looking space for the kid's name and number (if you use that). There's also an alphabet chart with letters and sounds.

On the right, there's a page with basic key info... Color words, number grid to 120 (love Common Core!), left/right hands, 2-D shapes, days of the week, months of the year, and number words 1-10.
I used a file folder, but you could also use 12x18" construction paper. Because I am a little Type A, I trimmed down the margins on the paper a tad so that each page would fit entirely into the folder. I also put a blank address label on the tab for the kid's name. I'll laminate these without a name written on them, then write the names on them after the fact with Sharpie. That way I can hopefully reuse them year after year by just using dry erase marker over the Sharpie to erase the permanent marker (love that trick!). My plan is to have a small file bin with one hanging folder per table. The table captain will pull those out at the beginning of the day, and kids can get them/put them back in their table's hanging file folder as needed.

If you want a copy of this for yourself, go ahead and click {HERE}. It's only $1.50 in my TPT store! But because I want to spread the love, the first two comments on this post (with email addresses) will get a free copy!

Have a great night!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

It's award time!

So I know this is a humble ol' blog... But I got a little boost from Nikki over at Teaching in Progress in the form of an award!

Woo hoo!

Thank you, Nikki, for brightening up my week!

So, to spread the love, here are the 3 steps to follow:
1. Follow the person who gave you the award. (Done!)
2. Link back to the person who gave you the award. (Done!)
3. Share the love! Pass the word along to 15 new bloggers. (Drumroll please...)

 First on the list... Over the 1st Grade Rainbow. Check out her awesome idea for recycling a good ol' Panda Express plate! (Too smart!)

Next - KinderKids Fun. Check out her behavior calendars for all of you who use clip charts!

Check out Blissful Days in 2nd Grade. Her basketball themed unit is too cute!

Bright Concepts 4 Teachers has some AWESOME common core math vocab cards in her TpT store. Check her out!

I know she's already gotten this award, but I wanted to give a shout out to From Blood to Books! She started out in healthcare and switched to education... Much like I did!

I'm continuing to blog stalk this summer and will add more to the list. But for now, my littler munchkin calls! Have a great one!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

First Grade Common Core Math Assessment

After quite a bit of intensive labor, my First Grade Common Core Math Assessment is complete! Phew! Our district is focusing on implementing reading and writing CCSS this year, and will move to focus on math as this year progresses. However, I wanted to have an assessment that I could use to group students into guided math groups and for monitoring my students for RtI.

It includes:
*Instructions and materials needed (just some basic classroom materials like counters and a whiteboard)
*A comprehensive assessment tool with ALL first grade math standards, and space to use the assessment five times per year (beginning of year, then after each quarter or trimester)
*Areas for notes about misconceptions and strengths
*Class Assessment Data tables to gather data across the class to aid in forming guided math and/or intervention groups

Get your copy (for just $3.00!) by clicking the picture below!

Monday, June 25, 2012

{FREEBIE!} Polka Dot Clip Chart

Slowly but surely, I'm revamping things for my classroom this summer. On that {extremely long!] to-do list? Redoing my clip chart!

Last year I used a vinyl clip chart I made using VistaPrint (a freebie banner with the file uploaded and custom printed), but it just didn't hold up as well as I hoped. So this year, I have a new set of polka dot clip chart signs and a colorful header. I'll be gluing these to black posterboard (and leaving a small border - it makes things stand out so well!) then laminating that bad boy at Lakeshore. I'll hang it from Command hooks and book rings (thanks to Cara at The First Grade Parade for that idea!), and attach my clothespins on. I like to put my students' numbers on the clothespins instead of their names... It keeps the color a student is on a bit more private. When my kiddos reach pink (the highest color), they get a little rhinestone on their clothespin. Five rhinestones and the student gets to keep his/her clothespin, and they get a RED one instead! (I continue on like this... Five rhinestones, new color clothespin, and so on...)

I'll be making a calendar for marking where the student ends up on to keep in their homework folder... Last year I just noted it on the Friday folder (if they did very well or not so great), but I'd like to have a daily "note" to parents this year with behavior codes. I'll post it when it's ready!

If you'd like to snag this little freebie, go to my TpT page HERE.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Daily 5 for Firsties!

I've used Daily 5 in my first grade classroom for the past four and a half years, and I must say I absolutely LOVE how it really encourages independence among my kiddos. It takes quite a while to establish (usually about 5-6 weeks), but once it is up and running, it sustains itself. (Okay, so there's usually a few times a year - particularly after breaks - when we need to review expectations, but hey, that's to be expected with six and seven year olds!)

If you have not yet read The Daily 5 book, I would HIGHLY recommend it! It's a quick and easy read. I'll be posting some documents this summer to help with planning and implementing D5 in your classroom, including a guide to the first few weeks of school and corresponding books that work well to teach CAFE strategies (if you choose to integrate CAFE and D5).

Anywho, I thought I'd post a file you might find helpful - a Daily 5 choice recording sheet!

Click {HERE} to download!

Before each round of Daily 5, I call the kiddos to the rug, tell them which reading group I'm meeting with during that round (I use color groups - red group, orange group, etc.), and I quickly mark a "T" in the square for that round for the kids in my reading group (a T for TEACHER since I'm meeting with those students). I then alternate between starting at the top, middle, and bottom of the list of students. I list the students in alpha order by last name, so starting at different points in the list allows students the opportunity to have a chance to choose earlier in the selection process, increasing the likelihood they'll get their top choice.

It takes a bit of practice, but the students get VERY good at calling out their choice - I can typically get through the class of 30 students in less than two minutes. As I'm calling names and writing choices, I keep track mentally of how many listening students there are (since we have a limited number of computers and Tag Readers). I also track if we have an even or odd number of students doing Read to Someone. After I've called all students to pick their first choice, I call students who are doing Listening to move to their choice (this clears some kids off the rug and allows time for students to make sure they can log into the computer and get started before I start meeting with a reading group). Then I call all students who chose Read to Someone, then the remaining three choices. 

As I'm finishing my reading group, I clap to signal time to clean up that activity, we meet back at the rug, and we repeat making our D5 choices. I don't allow students to choose the same choice two days in a row, which means that every other day, students are doing ALL the choices. (This year, I only did two rounds, but next year, with a longer school day, I'll have the chance to take three groups and thus three rounds of D5. So my most proficient students, who I meet with less, will probably repeat one choice every other day. Not too bad.)

PHEW! Okay, that was an unnecessarily wordy explanation. I'll post more soon with more files, including the calendar/organizer for the first few weeks of school!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

We All Scream for Ice Cream! {A Back to School Craftivity}

Well, I thought I would have posted by now, but things have been a bit more than busy! My sweeties have both been sick, and sleep in this household has been scarce at best!

Anywho... I have a new little craftivity I've been working on for my firsties to do the first week of school!

This ice cream-themed craftivity integrates writing (two different prompts - what the students did this summer and what students expect to do during the new school year) and math (graphing favorite ice cream flavors). If you're interested in snagging this fun little craftivity, click the picture below!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

What I'm Reading This Summer

This summer, I am hoping to catch up with a lot of reading! I got a Kindle for Christmas (just the cheapie version), but I L-O-V-E it! Anywho, this is what I plan on reading as my "fun read":

I LOVED The Hunger Games series, and I read Divergent (the first in this series). It's along the same lines as THG, but the characters in it have to choose which personality trait they'll have. It takes place in sweet home Chicago, so that makes it even more interesting (to me, anyways)!

For professional reading, I plan to reread Comprehension and Collaboration.

I've had the chance to see both Stephanie Harvey and Harvey Daniels speak, and they are AMAZING! We used this book in a study group at my school, and now that our school day is being extended, I'm hoping to have an inquiry workshop during the day in which students work on inquiry projects. So I'll be rereading this for inspiration!

What are you reading this summer???

Friday, June 8, 2012


So I've been working on my newest project... My Sub Tub Binder!

I was out of the classroom several times this year for professional development, doctor's appointments, and now my maternity leave. Typing out the same routine procedures over and over each time I was out got old. FAST. Now, all my sub materials can be in one easy place!

This file has information for your sub about classroom and school procedures and routines. Mine is in a 1" binder along with emergency lesson plans for three days of being out. All the copies I need for a sub in an emergency are in hanging folders in a small, open-top file box, along with this handy little binder.

(I'll post pictures once I'm back at work!)

You can get this file by clicking the picture above. But it can be your lucky day! The first FIVE followers who ALSO comment on this post will receive my Sub Tub Substitute Binder FREE! Make sure you follow this blog AND comment (with your email address so I can send you the file)!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Where have I been???

It has definitely been a LONG time since posting! I told myself I'd be better about posting to this new blog, but things have been CUH-RAZY here!

In addition to trying to prep for the end of the year (the students are at school through next week), cleaning my room up, completing assessments of kiddos and all that jazz... THIS new little guy has kept me busy!

Declan came about 2.5 weeks early... And he's a little sweetie! I forgot how much newborns sleep, so I've actually been able to get some stuff done while my toddler, Avery, is at school. She got to spend time at Nana and Papa's house while I was in the hospital, so she was in heaven. :)

Needless to say, I won't be back at school through the end of the year! SO.... I know this is late but here's what we had been working on:

First of all, I LOVE (yes, all caps!) the Fraction Action unit by Cara Carroll of The First Grade Parade! In the past my kiddos have struggled with the concept of fractions, but with many of the activities in this unit, they've really done quite well! Here is a fractionpillar made by one of my sweeties:

Excuse the really bad iPhone photo!
I tried using Do-A-Dot stampers to make each of the body parts, but I tell you, those kids got a bit overzealous and went very stamp-happy! AGH! So when I was at Target, I saw they had THREE colors of those little dot stickers you might use to price things at a garage sale. VOILA! The kids could do this much more independently, they weren't too dot crazy, and there was zero mess. I'll definitely remember this for next year!

In science, we wrapped up our plant unit. We read Flip, Float, Fly: Seeds on the Move and did written responses about what the students would do if they were seeds.

We also observed seeds in avocados, kiwis, apples, lemons, and limes (which ended up having the teeniest seeds ever...).

These activities and more are available {HERE}.

What's on my to do list for this summer?
  • RELAX with my own kiddos! :)
  • Reorganize my sub tub materials - that would have made my sudden maternity leave a lot easier!
  • Get together my beginning of the school year materials to post on TpT
  • Try some Pinterest recipes (cookie dough dip... yummmm....)
What's on your to do list for your break??

Sunday, May 13, 2012

First of all, HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to the all mommies and soon-to-be mommies out there! I had a great weekend... Brunch and an Eric Carle puppet performance (which was AWESOME!) with my husband and daughter, then Mother's Day and a surprise baby shower with my fam today. Love it!

My kiddos have been working on synthesizing the past two weeks, and we'll continue it next week as they make synthesis posters in small groups. I'll be posting student work samples as they finish. I tried it last year as a major leap of faith and my students did an AWESOME job, and I know my students will do great this time as well.

I'll be posting more soon... Finishing plans for the week awaits! (Sigh!)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Teacher Appreciation Week - A SALE on TPT! In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, I am throwing a SALE on items in my TpT store, in addition to the sale offered by TpT. I will be running a 20% off sale on all my items, in addition to the 10% off that TpT is discounting items. That means a savings of 28% off all my items! The sale runs from May 6-8 with the code TAD12. Enjoy!
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