Sunday, December 30, 2012

Finally! Something to Cross Off My To-Do List!

I hate having to go backwards to go forwards, but I guess that's what happens when you have to finish your projects before starting new ones, right?  So, unfinished projects:  Elf Economics unit (which honestly can be adapted to regular Economics next year we teach it in the spring - Easter Bunny as producer???), Famous Americans, and Math (Unit 4 Investigations) Graph Unit.

I polished them up, PDF'ed them, zipped up and (tried) to create pictures.  Unfortunately I can't do those wonderful unit pictures in Powerpoint I see a lot of teachers doing that shows you a little of everything for the unit.  No, I fight the old fashioned way and do the "save as" a jpg file.  Of course, I found out Word does not like that.  So much for my shortcut!  The pictures I did come up with, TpT said were too large, so unfortunately it's a dorky picture for the unit.  Teacher's Notebook came out a lot better. :)

So, without further ado....I've talked about the Elf Economics enough, so click on the picture for TpT or {here} for Teacher's Notebook.

Next up is the Famous American unit!  I always have fun with this one.  This year, I decided to throw in a bit of review for my students (especially after they had no idea who Pocahontas was for our Native American unit!) from Kindergarten and first standards.  We covered Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Helen Keller, Susan B. Anthony, Jackie Robinson, and Martin Luther King, Jr.  Reviews included George Washington Carver, Eleanor Roosevelt, Pocahontas, Powhatan, Benjamin Franklin, Betsy Ross, Independence Day, President's Day, and Martin Luther King, Jr. day.  Whew!

See my earlier posts on Famous Americans to see all of the activities it includes (paper bag books, I Have/Who Has, Crayon Box that Talks, Famous American project, etc.).

Click on the pic for TpT and {here} for Teacher's Notebook.

Last, but not least, it's my Math Graphing Unit, roughly based off of Investigations Unit 4 (I use a lot of the same ideas, but had to create an easier version for my students.  They do better when things are broken down further.  Yes, I know.).  Click on the pic for TpT and {here} for Teacher's Notebook.
Whew!  Okay, think I can start planning on January now? :)  I know I'll appreciate making sure everything is together next year or when we review at the end of the year!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Winter Break: Tales of an Addict

Yes, that's me.  School was open 2 days this week and guess who was there!  However, my room desperately needed a good organization/cleaning!  I wish I would've taken a picture of my desk - it hasn't looked this organized since I unpacked in the summer! (actually, even then, it didn't - it was piled with stuff for other places!).  So, I managed to get my little area clean as well as straighten up around my room.  Teacher workdays are next Thursday and Friday, but school will be open Wednesday.  (Hiding head). I'll be there, then, too!

Hah hah - as I type this, I'm actually with a friend at HER school since my husband and kiddos are off to Amazement Square to meet up with cousins who are visiting from New Jersey.  (If you don't know about Amazement Square in Lynchburg, VA, it is AMAZING!  If you ever visit anywhere near there and have kids, it's a must-go!). 

However, with 60 lb bag (okay, that might be an exaggeration) I have 4 math units, history unit, and basic lessons to plan (including a focus on nonfiction this semester!).  So, I am cherishing this day without interruption.  Oh, that and high speed internet and access to my school network folder. :)

Of course, today we FINALLY get some winter weather!  I know - some places have been hit hard.  However, it's missed our part of central VA until today.  I mean, my 6 year old told me on Thursday that we might as well go back to school on Monday because there is NO SNOW and it's WINTER BREAK!  (yes, she's that dramatic - the same girl who said yesterday to a friend that she didn't know why "Tuesday Morning" was open since it was Friday!).

Anyway, back to my addiction.  My husband calls it "dedicated," but I sense an eye-roll when he says it.  Either way, I AM getting some things done and thought I'd share!  I'm also hoping to clean up my seasonal items and throw a sale for the New Year - just on holiday things, so you can stock up on different times of the year!  That, and I'm approaching my anniversary of both blogs and teacher stores, so I'm starting to come full circle on some of my items.

So, what have I accomplished so far?  Glad you asked!  My kids are a little less than skilled on calendar.  I don't know why.  We do it every day.  Seriously.  So, I made a packet of monthly skill sheets that frankly, I probably will use no matter what month (heck - I don't mind doing July in January!).  Each month is slightly different with the skill levels.  Be sure to check it out at my stores!  Click on the picture for TpT and {here} for Teacher's Notebook.

Next up is a winter mix of writing and math activities.  We haven't touched on fractions yet this year, but I put a fraction game in there anyway and thought it might not hurt for my students to revisit this part of their brain!  Kind of a "sneak preview" of the next unit or so.  Other math concepts include patterns, money, and addition.  Writing activities include comparative adjectives, mitten writing prompts, seasonal paper, and a cinquain pattern.  It's all snowmen, penguins, and polar bears - perfect for the winter months!  For TpT click on the picture, for Teacher's Notebook {here}.

Well, back to work!  I'm trying to polish up some of my units as well, including Economics (including my "Elf Economics"), Famous Americans, and Graphing Unit/Investigations Unit 4.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A little elf gave me....

.....a freebie!  I needed one more center for my math rotation tomorrow and what better than a glyph!  I love glyphs.  My only disappointment is a (slap forehead) duh! moment - it would have been cute to display outside, but then again, I took down Santa letters for the Grinch....and those Grinches turned out so cute, I am going to be bummed to take them down in January! (Yes, I'm a bad girl and won't be sending them home just yet!).

Well, tomorrow is a 1pm dismissal and then 2 weeks of Winter Break!  I can't wait!  My "to do" list is getting longer and more school related (heck, I even asked the custodians which days/times they'd be in!!!), but I like the idea of setting my own schedule.  Somehow, it keeps me more motivated! :)

So, back to the glyph.  I had found a super cute website called, which has many free clipart selections, including seasonal.  What I REALLY loved as well was that many of the graphics are in black/white.  Knowing that anything I need in color is my nickel to print at home, I really appreciate that!

So, tonight I created a Christmas Glyph, featuring the elves.  We've done so much with elves this month, from earning "sparkle points" to our economics unit, that I felt they needed to be included somewhere in our holiday centers!  So, here it is.  Click on the picture to take you to Teacher's Notebook to download!  At some point, I'd like to have a collection of seasonal glyphs in one pack (add that as #143 on my list?).  Until then, enjoy!  Even if you're already out (jealous!) or seeing this a little too late, save it for next year! :)

Monday, December 17, 2012

HO HO Holiday Centers!

Okay, so I think I've finally finished "updating" my December holiday centers.  I feel like I'm a little late to the party about it, looking 'round the web, but thought I'd share what I just spent the last 3 hours doing. :)

In my last post, I shared with you some of the crafts I do in my classroom.  I added that, plus some of my math centers I created last year, in a packet.

The Roll-a-Reindeer is one of my favorites - aren't they cute?  Microsoft clipart. :) I'm also going to offer the centers individually as well.  Check out the candy cane fact family as a FREEBIE! :)

The other center I don't think I've shared with you.  It's my tribute to the "12 Days of Christmas."  It's a great way for my students to review ordinal numbers, as well as problem solving.  There's also a sheet for them to generate their own problems for their classmates to solve!  My students have been creating word problems for a while now with their number of the day.  I'm hoping this will be an easy transition for them!
I found the clipart on and knew I had to do something with it!

Click on the pictures or links to the side to take you to my store to check them out! :)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

We have stayed pretty busy this week!  Students have been working on their sparkle points to receive treats from the elves!  We also wrote letters to Santa, explored the Grinch's story and thought about ways to make him smile, and rescued Santa from being stuck in a chimney!  We also created stockings to encourage students that 'tis the time to be complimentary of their classmates!  
Thank you to Susan at TGIF (Thank God Its First Grade) for sharing this great freebie! :)  

Santa's Stuck came from Valerie at All Students Can Shine and the Grinch was modified from Dixie at Second Grade Fun's activity!  Most of these I found on Pinterest or from my blog roll from those offering freebies (and who doesn't want a freebie this time of year??).  You can check out my December Holidays board for more ideas I just couldn't fit in! :)

We also continued our study on graphs and created a survey, where we asked our classmates questions and had them vote on choices.  We took the data and created bar graphs and pictographs.  On Friday, we created questions about our graph and this coming Monday, we'll be able to have a "Graph Party" and go around the room, exploring the graphs and answering the student-created questions!  I hope to have this unit with its activities uploaded soon for you to explore!

We had a pirate treasure hunt with verb tenses using the Pirate Tweets.  Students had a great time finding special envelopes and writing answers on their treasure maps!  There were also some "Argh!" cards scattered in, where students had to perform verbs, such as dances, sing pirate songs, and bunny hop to the teacher!  If you purchased this activity, I am going to update it to include the ARGH cards, since that was a late night inspiration with the extra copies of the cards I had!  Click on the picture to download (or if you've already purchased, then to update!).

We'll finish our Elf Economics unit this week with a test on Wednesday.  The goods and services the students created were great!  Students enjoyed bartering (trading) not only their projects, but also goods that they had on special cards.  Did you know one of the bracelets was worth a chocolate cake AND a sheep? :)

One more week to go! Excitement has been building in the classroom, but we still have a lot to pack in this week!  Our school is having "Snowman Day."  We have an AWESOME resource team that puts on a seasonal day each year (each grade level gets 2 hours).  Last year was Gingerbread Day.  On Friday, we'll have a 1pm dismissal.  I saved that day of craziness to make crafts and just have fun!  Here are some of the crafts we'll be creating this year (I am not a crafty person, so I tend to do the "easier" ones!).

"Stained Glass" ornaments (using up all those old transparencies...I guess overhead projectors are antiques now?)

Holiday Craft: Stained Glass Decorations | 

Candy Cane Reindeer


Dipped Pretzel Rods

I have two parent volunteers coming in to help (whew!) so we'll probably rotate through stations.  Also that day, we'll have some seasonal centers that include both literacy and math.  I'll post more on that next week once I get them together.

I've already started a New Year's Resolution (hah!).  I just told the custodian who cleans my room I'm coming in over Christmas break, dumping everything on my desk on the floor and going through it!  I'm jealous of all those teachers who keep a clean desk.  The only reason I *might* have a space is for my laptop!  Don't believe me?  I took a picture just to put it somewhere to remind me!  My little corner space is a bit cramped!  These will be the "before" picture (see how I tried to get organized with the basket?)


My husband says it's the space of a busy, creative teacher.  Do I have him trained or what? :P

Our Hearts and Prayers Go Out to Sandy Hook....Please Join Us In This Day of Silence

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Math Investigations Visual Vocabulary Cards

At long last - they are FINALLY finished!  When I first started doing these cards, it was summer (well, the first set).  I had time.  Doing this next set - whew!  (I'm going to start the next set over Christmas break!).  

 Sorry if some of you have been waiting on them and have moved on to unit 4.  We just started the unit because my kiddos move a little slower this year.  I was hoping to have them done last week (since I was due for an observation - as my principal put it in a meeting last Monday, it had been a "long, long time since" he'd been in my room!  Not sure if that's a compliment to my teaching or not! LOL).

So, voila!  Here they are!!!!  Also, I finished my Investigations class!  WOO HOO! :)  It's been hard balancing everything and having that looming over my head!  It was nice to get other perspectives of the series.  I know in my district there are some haters that have turned into lovers, and those of us who are still a little wary of it (especially since it doesn't quite cover all our standards, and no one in my district seems to want to order the $99 supplement package that makes it Common Core compatible!).

Anyway, here they are, in all their glory (well, 2 pages out of 16!).  You can click on the image to check it out in TPT or click {here} for Teacher's Notebook.

We are doing verb tenses this week and I found some adorable freebies I'll share with you later, including a "Phineas and Verb" or you can check out my Pinterest page on it.  That inspires me to offer my lil' idea to you as a freebie as well!  Click {here} for Google Docs and my verb tense snowmen! :)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Elf Economics and Sparkle Points

Does your district do a pacing guide?  Ours does, and it's usually determined by a representation of teachers who either meet during the school year, or during the summer.  It's a recommended guideline of when/length you teach one of the standards.  We do have a lot of students who move within our county, so it makes sense.

I just don't understand why it seems to change every year.  Or the fact that we teach NO Science this nine weeks, and no History NEXT nine weeks!.  Hmmm.

Anyway, we normally do our Economics unit in late winter or spring.  Not so this year.  It's a crazy time of year.  I mean, a "is it a full moon tonight because the kids are acting crazy!" time of year!!!!  (And that was the week AFTER Thanksgiving!).  Yes, I know they're excited about the Christmas season - which was what inspired me.

Have you ever thought that an elf is actually a producer?  An elf uses capital, natural, and "human" resources (kinda - do we think Santa as "human"?).  An elf would definitely deal with scarcity, and buying gifts is DEFINITELY making an economic choice!  Throw barter and money in there, and it's a unit!

Thus was born "Elf Economics."  I've taken my unit and completely revamped it so that my students are now elves-in-training.  Seriously.  We filled out an application and everything!  Which then led to an elf visiting our room and leaving us some directions on how to earn "sparkle points" based on student work habits and behavior.  If they earn a sparkle point for the day, the elf leaves them (or the teacher to pass out) a treat each morning for the previous day's behavior.  They earned their first treat this morning - special marshmallows that tasted like candy canes!  It was a big hit with the kids.

Unfortunately, the elf leaves the scent of vanilla cookies behind, so even though he's invisible, we know he's there.  He also leaves glitter EVERYWHERE.  Red and green, of course, but after two days, we're still finding it in folders, books, etc.  My kids told me they knew the elf wasn't me because I wouldn't mess up the room like that! :)

He also left a friend behind to keep an eye on the kids.

So, we've been working our way through the Elf Training Center, which they were nice enough to leave on my wiki page.  It's a work in progress.

At some point, I'll have it all together and be able to say "voila - here it is!"  (And of course, they'll move economics to some other part of the year - but I guess the Easter Bunny can teach economics as well, right????).

Until then, if you'd like to use it, feel free to visit the {ETC} on my wiki page.  It seems to change a little each day as the elves update it.  I'll try to put the rest on my teacher store as it is completed, or leave you a link for Google Drive!  I hope to have more pics up soon!  Until then, enjoy your weekend.  We are also counting down to "Snowman Day" which our school has on December 20th - it'll be here before we know it! :)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Triangle Fact Cards and Technology: Learning Math Facts With a Twist

While I would love to say I created this concept, I have not (but I can't remember where it came from!).  However, this year, they are really emphasizing students learn their math facts and have them "fluent" (as I tell my students, it's like sight words - you look at it and just KNOW).'re probably saying.  Our school does that already - why does her school seem so far behind?  Well (sigh), it all stems from the fact that my district has whole-heartedly embraced Investigations.  Don't get me wrong - the program has its merits, but according to the program, "fluency" is where students are fluent with strategies to get to the right answer.  Yes, I do agree that students should be presented with a variety of ways to solve a problem.  I still get flashbacks of long division and third grade!  I never liked the "my way or the highway" way of thinking.

Only, it doesn't help the students learn their facts so that their able to recall them quickly.  Yes, repetition and playing games does,  but there's something to be said for good ol' fashioned practice!  My poor son is struggling with middle school math because although he has the strategies, he does not have the fluency!  We often have a multiplication chart sitting next to us during homework!

So, after introducing my students to related facts, we began using triangle fact cards.

I wanted to make this fun for my kiddos.  They really do struggle with math.  So, I searched my clipart and gave them choices.  We now have versions with Xmen, Star Wars, zoo animals, penguins, community helpers (firemen, police, etc.), Transformers, fairy tale, etc.  It was a little time consuming, but the end results was great!  It motivated the kids to start practicing their facts at home and I also put an Alice in Wonderland themed one in our BUILD Centers.  You can find these in my teacher stores, if you're interested!  I also have a blank template as well (no characters).

I also found an app on the iPod called "Motion Math:  Hungry Fish."  Now, I was gifted an iPod Touch via Donors Choose this year, and recently, received a grant from our PTA for 3 more (I'm just awaiting the Otterbox cases before they fall into my students' hands!).  Players combine bubbles to add the number that's on the fish (for example, 1 and 2 make 3 to feed the "3" fish).  
 iPhone Screenshot 1
I also have Math Ninja and a few others.  I have just downloaded the free versions, to see what I think would work best with my kids!  Obviously the paid versions have more levels, but I want to see what my kids think first!
 iPhone Screenshot 2
Do you have any apps or programs you use in the classroom that help with math fluency?  Our school also just started Pearson's "Success Maker".  Any suggestions are more than welcome!  I've also started adding apps that really help my kids on my Pinterest page as well! Thanks for any suggestions! :)