Monday, January 28, 2013

Super Sales!

Both Teachers Pay Teachers and Teacher's Notebook are having SUPER SALES for Superbowl weekend!

All my products in both stores will be on sale.  :)  If you are a TpT shopper, you can save up to 28%.  Teacher's Notebook members save a little more. :)  Be sure to check out both sales this coming weekend.  Also, Teacher's Notebook has announced that their site will be down on January 31st in order to bring us new, better, and bigger changes! 

I'm excited - I already enjoy the "friendly look" to their site, so I have to wonder what exactly they're going to do?

So, be sure to check out both sites.  I plan on going in sometime before, starting up a "wish list" and TRYING to control my spending.  Hah!  (Good thing the hubby never checks the paypal account!).

I have no idea who is playing the Superbowl this year - I know the Ravens and someone else, from the 2 sports fans in the house.  I just watch for the commercials.  Still lovin' this one though from a few years back.....hate to admit it, I had a job like that once.....

Enjoy and happy shopping!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Whew! Finally Finished!

Okay, so maybe that should've been my first few words, but it's how I feel right now!  At looooong math investigations vocabulary cards for my math focus wall are DONE!  I don't know why, but this set seemed to take the looooongest time to complete!

Of course, now I have to print them at home (no color copier at school), laminate, and stick a magnet on the back of them, but considering we're still hanging around unit 5 (hope to be finished by next week!), it wasn't quite a rush for me.

I had several requests though, which excited me.  I mean, people who WANT me to make things.  It's like the little glow I get every time I get a comment on the blog or a positive comment at one of the teacher stores.  It means woo hoo!  I'm doing something right! :)

Three of us were talking today because (sadly) we were at school because it was open (good thing after two snow days and a state rep coming in to observe on Monday!).  Isn't it funny how teachers, who (if you're like us) continue to get paycuts, but here we are - working weekends, extra hours, etc.  

My husband always wants to know why I can't use the same units year after year.  Well, for one, I explain to him, my classes are different every year.  This year, even though I had the collab class last year, the kiddos I have this year are a bit lower and I can't quite use the same things.  That, and I'm weird and can never follow "scripted" units....even my own!!!!  Its one reason I love Pinterest and teacher blogs - I'm always getting good ideas and like a chipmunk, storing it away till the right time!

He, of course, then just shakes his head and when my daughter declares she's going to be a teacher when she grows up, he leaves the room.  Hah! :)

Anyway, back to these cards.  I've noticed a lot of vocabulary is repeated over the units so I tried to make the pictures slightly different.  I mean, these ARE the end units - they've had some of these terms since Unit 1!  So, hopefully if you've been following me with these cards, you'll like these just as well.

I've also decided to bundle the whole nine units together and sell for one price, as well as keep the individual ones that people have already bought.  

Here's a peek:

Click on the pictures above to link to TpT or click {here} for Teacher's Notebook.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Abbreviation Call Out and a Blogiversary!

It's another snow day.

I think I'd have more enthusiasm if it wasn't that after a 4 day weekend, my kids are not going to be their best and brightest at 9am in the morning when we have reps from the state coming in to visit.  Little bit of panic mode!

Well, that and our 100th day keeps moving.  Now it's next Wednesday (was originally today!).  And, we're in the middle of PALS (reading) testing and today was our day to test.  It's rescheduled for, you guessed it - Wednesday. *sigh*

Good news - I got to sleep in.  :)  Always a treat!

Better news - I finally got my "Abbreviation Call Out!" activity done!  I described it in the last email and promised a picture.  Took several pictures (and of course all my students wanted to pose!)...and murphy's law, the camera didn't have a SD card inside and my cord school. 

Knowing that I could not find any more speech bubbles at Walmart :( and figured you might not be able to as well, I created a center for you to use!  It's over at my teacher's store BUT since I realized that January 14th was my actual "blogiversary" I decided to offer it to my followers as a thank you! ;)  I have LOVED discovering the world of teacher blogging and it has really changed my way of teaching!  Well, maybe not changed, but definitely enhanced! I still get giddy every time I see a have a new follower!!!!

So, here it is.  Click on the picture to take you to Google Drive to download. :) I'll keep it available as a freebie till the end of the month! :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Back to Work!

I shouldn't say this - I really shouldn't, but.....a 4 day weekend was almost too much.  It was super hard for me to get motivated on Monday night to go back to school.  Maybe it was because it was so close to Winter Break.  I don't know.  I just wanted one more day.  However, it was good to get back into the swing of things.

It also didn't hurt that my kids LOVED the ideas I did today for abbreviations.

Also that we are still ongoing with our Polar unit.  Today was the last day that we were "in" Antarctica.  Tomorrow we head north to the Arctic Circle!  Bye bye penguins, leopard seals, and Southern Ocean!  We ended our time there looking at Discovery Earth.  Neat place to visit.  If you haven't been there, it's definitely recommended!  They have video clips about the different areas of the world.  

We also did a science experiment I got from "Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears." (see previous post).   It's about how the snow compacts to ice and that even though Antarctica only gets 3 inches of snow a year, because it never gets above never melts.  Each year the previous year's snow gets compacted (pressed down) into an icy layer.  You can do this experiment with snow.  Our snow has melted.  We did it with marshmallows.

I wish I would have thought to taken pictures!

Let's just say that 10 mini marshmallows flattened (10 years of snow) gave the kids a good impression of what it's like!

So, on to abbreviations.  Everything seems to have a polar theme, doesn't it?  I love it when themes go together so well!  I am still loving this unit!  

I had these speech bubbles I bought at Walmart at the beginning of the year, knowing I'd find a use for them.  Well, I did today!  I made a "master list" of common abbreviations, including math ones I knew my kids would get to later this year, and wrote each one on a speech bubble.

I handed out the speech bubbles at random.  The kids had to look at their bubble so if I said a word and they thought it was their abbreviation, they were to stand up and silently (like a cartoon) show their speech bubble like they were talking.

It's the quietest I have EVER heard my class!!!!

Again, not thinking and not taking pictures.  I will try to take some tomorrow (they want to play it again) and add it to this post!

The next big "hit" was playing an "I Have/Who Has" game with abbreviations called "Shh! Don't Disturb the Sleeping Bear!" (Teacher's Notebook)

You can click on the picture to find it on TpT.

I'm introducing this one tomorrow:  "Waddle It Stands For" (Teacher's Notebook link)

I'm hoping it's just as big of a hit.

Click on any picture above to take you to my teacher store to download.  I am trying to work on the speech bubble idea and get it finished so I can add it to this post as a freebie!  Make sure you check back later this week when I *hopefully* will have it up!

Friday, January 18, 2013


Woo hoo!  In central VA, I have to tell you - ice gets us out of school more than snow.  However, we had a BIG storm (for us) come our way yesterday afternoon, which resulted in a 1pm dismissal and...well, originally a 2 hour delay than a closure for today!  Wow!  I thought as I got the final call around 8ish this morning.  I'll put it to good use (and of course, immediately went back to sleep until my diva woke me up asking where her snow gear was from the night before!).  

As you can tell, it's already starting to melt...even though the temperature is barely above freezing!

I am TRYING to use my time wisely.  Of course, I also find working from home VERY distracting.  I mean, the house is a mess (it usually is with 6 people in our household, but I am usually too tired to deal with it), so of course some sweeping and cleaning was in order.  I tried to multi task and think of things as I was scrubbing a sticky part of the floor where (I think) pineapple juice was spilled the other day but of course, no one remembers doing it!  Then of course there was the mad dash looking thru the house for boots for my son, snowpants for my daughter (the boots are now on the Walmart list - found some hand-me-down snowpants for both of them)....then of course, I get caught up in this show called "Catfish" on MTV where they help people meet up in person who've met on the Internet.  Of COURSE they're running a marathon on it today...and I've never seen the show before!  

Does this sound like your life?

So now I kinda have some peace and quiet.  Kinda.  The 12 yr old has two friends over and after playing in the snow, they're up in his room playing/watching Xbox.  My daughter is busy trying to annoy them, despite my best efforts to distract her.  Currently it's watching Brave on DVD on the "big" TV and offering popcorn. :)  Sort of working.

So....I didn't post last week.  I always try to at least once a week.  I still crack up that when I look at my archives, I blogged more last February (the shortest month) than any other month!  Speaking of which, I have a "blogiversary" coming up soon!  

I will tell you the truth - I have been up to my ears in foxes, polar bears, leopard seals, and penguins - and LOVING it!  

Our next 3 Science units are on habitats, life cycles, and animal adaptations.  I decided this year to incorporate it with a polar animal unit.  I also have the added bonus of introducing Antarctica, the equator, and the Arctic Circle for our upcoming map skills later this Spring!  There is a TON out there about penguins and polar bears.  Lots of teachers seem to do polar animal units around this time of year (and who can blame them!) and they seem to center around those two animals the most.

But of course, I wanted more.

Found this great website created by (students?) Ohio State University called "Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears."  GREAT RESOURCES!  Nonfiction texts (in all levels), e-books, science experiments, ideas, and more!  

I created two wiki sites on Antarctica and the other on the Arctic Circle.  It's kind of grown into a monster (the unit).  I'm still creating as I go.  I think I'll be posting it sometime in February or March when it's finally done! :)  I wanted to include leopard seals...and there is NOT a lot of kid stuff out there about leopard seals.  I also wanted to include arctic foxes, since our mascot is the fox, and other animals as well (narwhal, walrus, etc).  We also looked at Mt. Erebus (because a volcano in Antarctica is pretty fascinating!) and the different poles.  

I have had the best time researching and creating - and I can't seem to stop!  I think it's the nerd in me. :)  I mean, we'll be covering camouflage, animal adaptations, migrations (with the whales), life cycles, creating are/have/live charts, labeling the different parts of the animals....I even created a Google Earth "tour" of what we're studying!

So, as you can tell, I'm keeping myself busy!  Be sure to check out the Beyond Penguins and Polar Bear site - we'll be doing the blubber experiment as well as the glacier/iceburg experiments as well!

Off to get "snowed in" again! :)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

New Years and January Currently

It's hard to believe it's already 2013...and we return back to school in a few days!  Yikes!  My "to do" list didn't quite work out as well as I thought....

This year for New Year's, my friend gave me a really cool idea to do with my kids (think she found it on Pinterest).  Normally, our New Years consists of myself and my two kids and we sing, dance, party, and have snack food and sparkling cider (it's my son's favorite holiday, he tells me!).  My husband, who is a drummer in a swing band, is normally at a gig.  This year was the first he was able to join us - so I have to admit, I toned down my craziness.  What is it about having other adults around that just makes us less silly?

Anyway, back to the idea.  My two kiddos and I sat down and filled in activities on slips of paper and placed them in balloons, blew them up, then labelled them with each hour.  So, on that hour, we had to pop that balloon and do the activity!  It was fun with what they came up with!  My son is heavily into "Minecraft" so we had a "class" on everything Minecraft!  My daughter had us drinking hot chocolate, playing with "Jingle" (which she used her money to buy after Christmas half price), and playing "Just Dance."  I put in a few things for playing games as well as doing some new year's exercise - 2012 (2 pushups, 0 running, 1 sit up, 2 jumping jacks, etc.) and 2013!  We also were told to bake cookies, get snacks ready, and put on our pjs!

 I thought it would be fun to do something similar on the 100th day of school!  However, I probably would come up with the strips but still place them randomly in the balloons.  What a fun way to celebrate that special day!  My kids, who are 6 and 12, thought it was the best idea EVER, so I figure my 2nd graders will eat it up!

So, on to January Currently, where I'm linking up with Farley at Oh Boy Fourth Grade!
Most of it is self-explanatory.  However, my OLW for the year is "organized!" (with exclamation mark!).  It goes along with my "need" about putting my life in order.  Now, normally, I AM an organized person (or at least try to be). However, there are areas that need tweaking!

My husband and I have decided to get rid of our debt that was having us live paycheck to paycheck (and then we'd get ahead and boom! something would happen that would wipe us out again!).  So, we're now doing the "Dave Ramsey" program.  If you haven't heard of him, you should definitely check him out!  A lot of what he says is common sense and I honestly did years ago - pre kids, pre husband.  

However, we should be debt free (minus the mortgage and car payment) in two years!  We started this in December and have already paid off two credit cards (you start with the lowest balance)!  I'm too embarrassed to mention how much we are in CC debt, but it's a lot!  There's been a lot of things that have happened this past 5 years to "justify", but it's time for it to go.  Leave.  Adios.  The other great thing about it is there is a kids program that now my two are learning about saving, spending, and making good economic choices.  Bonus!

Another reason for "organized" is both the appearance of my house and classroom.  I'm starting out the year with my desk looking like this:
If you saw my earlier post, my desk did NOT look like that!  Granted, there will *always* be something in my wire basket there (what teacher doesn't have a "to do" basket???), but right now, it's mostly holding pattern strips and activities for my next math unit!  (Check out the trash can!  I need to go thru and recycle my paper - but it was much easier and more satisfying to just "toss" at the moment!).  

My biggest problem is that I just don't have time to clear it off each day and things pile up, get lost, etc.  If I can get my classroom in order, I'm hoping to spread it over to my house (too embarrassed to post pics of that!).  We're working on it, though, especially with the new chores the kids have to help out!

I won't even mention how I need to get my body organized!  Hah - nice way of saying I need to lose weight!  Time organization - as in time to get back on Zumba! :)

So, what is your OLW for the year?  

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Ringing In the New Year with a Look Back

or the subtitle might be "Creating an Autobiography."

Our county creates a pacing guide each year with teacher representatives from the different elementary schools (we have 4).  Somehow, though, (because I can't imagine a teacher deciding this!), we are to teach nonfiction the entire second semester.  Yes, that's right.  Fiction for first semester, nonfiction for second.  As in, your every read aloud and reading group better be reading nonfiction for the rest of the year! Yikes!

I don't even think we have that many nonfiction texts in our reading room!

I love teaching nonfiction - don't get me wrong.  I just think there would be a better way to put it in during the year, even if we "flip flopped" back and forth between that and fiction each nine weeks. *Sigh*

So, I decided to make the best of it (sneak in a few informational books) and create different units.  We're starting with biographies.  Of course, there is definitely a lack of biographies under Guided Reading Level "H", but I am trying to make do with our read aloud time!  To culminate the unit, I wanted the kids to create an autobiography.

So, knowing I wanted something with a cute template and possibly planner, I went searching.  I found some great nonfiction and biography material.  Really cute, as in "interview each other and create a biography of your classmate/teacher/etc."  However, it wasn't quite what I had in mind.  After pinning way too many other things that popped up on Pinterest (happened to you too?) and searching on some of my favorite blogs, I went to the teacher stores.  Sure, they had some things, but I have to admit - I am way too picky! 

Knowing that my kids would struggle with some of the older and more complicated looking templates and formats, I finally went searching for some cute frames (have I said before how much I LOVE  She never fails!).  After over an hour of downloading clipart (I kept telling myself - one more, and I'll stop!), I had my cute frames!  I don't know what it is about those squiggly frames that just seem to make everything cuter. :)

So, in my pickiness, I created my own autobiography pack.  Okay, so I'm adding a little fiction to it - my kids are going to predict what their future is going to be like and write it like it's already happened.  I'm sure to have a few ninjas and jedi knights, but hey - it could happen! :)

We'll be working on these later next week, when the kids return the week of the 7th, so I'll be sure to post if they were a success :) or utter disaster :(.  I'm hoping they'll be so good, we'll be able to use them for our class published book we do each year!  Fingers are crossed!

Meanwhile, you can check it out at my teacher stores. Here's a quick look!