Sunday, December 30, 2012

Discovery Kids world map

I was at bed bath and beyond today and they had this great fabric map for sale. It was normally 19.99 and was half off. I just tested it out and it looks like it will work great in the classroom. It has a ton of pieces for the kids to identify countries, oceans and even put animals in their proper locations. They sell it online but it's much more expensive. Hope you can find it at your local store!

I noticed one other deal in the paper today - Staples has sharpie (black or assorted colors) 12 packs for $3.00. I'm convinced that teachers cannot have too many sharpies!!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Arctic Animals & A Giveaway!

I've just finished adding some animals to my Arctic Animals Research Pages Unit!  It now has 24 animals.  These are research papers that are written in an easy-to-read format making it easier for our beginner readers.  My kids do an Arctic animal research paper every year and I was having such a difficult time with teaching them how to look for information while not finding the basic information in multitudes of books and the students having difficulty with the reading level.  It still is a challenging task, but these papers make it easier!  We actually begin by having all the students write a mini report about the polar bear.  This one is easier because we are all learning the information together.  Some of them freak out when they hear they have to write it twice!  They don't like the idea of a "rough draft" much!  Then each student chooses an Arctic animal.  The way I do this is I put everyone's name in a bag and draw a name.  That person then gets to choose their animal.  I have all the animals pictures (included in this kit) printed out and placed on a board.  I just put a sticky note on the animal once it is "taken".  Before they choose, I tell them an interesting fact about each animal.  There really are an abundance of fantastic animals in the Arctic.  I stress that they all are interesting animals so there isn't a bad choice.  If you have more than 23 students, you would need to let them choose an animal more than once.  I have a small freebie for you from this unit.  It is the research paper and the polar bear page.  Click here to download.

The entire unit can be purchased at Teachers Pay Teachers:
Click here to view this item at TPT
I also want to share with you a HUGE giveaway by Jessica at Second Grade Nest.  My Arctic Animals Research papers are part of the giveaway set #4.

I hope you are having a wonderful holiday break!  I don't know what I'd do without these big breaks during the school year.  I have so many things to get done around the house!  Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Sandy Hook Elementary Memorial Project

There are no words at this time.  As we think about heading back to the classroom, I'm sure you are all thinking about what to say to your students.  I'm not going to bring it up to my firsties, but I feel pretty certain that at least a few of them will have heard and will have questions.  I've been looking at what others advise saying and I am planning on saying that
"yes, a bad man hurt some people.  He can't hurt anyone else now. There are some amazing teachers, policemen and pastors who are there to help the people.  We will keep them in our prayers."

I am planning on having them complete this Sandy Hook Memorial Project which has free instructions at
Pinned Image

I'm not necessarily going to focus on why we're doing it, but just how important each person is to God and that we need to show kindness. 

Tomorrow, I'll be joining in a teacher blogger day of silence in memory of these precious little ones.

Praying for God's peace in the midst of this darkness.

Love, Melissa

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Books for Boys

We just finished conferences (yeah!!!) and I was talking to one of the parents about good books for boys.  Specifically, books for accelerated first grade readers.  I told him a few of my favorites (Spy Guy, A-Z Mysteries, Nate the Great, Capital Mysteries, Bad Kitty, Stink, Magic Treehouse) and am compiling a list.  So, this linky party from Swimming into Second caught my eye:


My own boys have always been a good resource for me to find books that were interesting.  Now that they're getting older, I'm going to have to do more looking on my own!   As I was browsing, I saw that there are a lot of book series out for boys that I want to preview (Frankie Pickle, Dragonbreath, Ninjago).

I'm going to submit Capital Mysteries by Ron Roy as a good series for boys.  I like that they have some
history and geography built in and they have plenty of action.

Capital Mysteries #1: Who Cloned the President? (A Stepping Stone Book(TM))
Amazon link

I also found this great blog post at Funky First Grade Fun.  She talks about the book Best Books for Boys by Pam Allyn and gave some pointers on adding materials to your classroom library that will appeal to boys.  I found lots of great ideas like using baseball cards!  I'm also thinking I need to bring in my boy's subscription to the lego magazine.  It's free and I know that they also have a classroom version, but I found that one not as interesting.  I'll have to see if I can sign our class up for the regular version.  Anyway, click on the above link to read more of Kimberly's suggestions!

On the subject of books, I wanted to share a fun technology tool with you!  Your Next Read is a website that generates book recommendations.  You just type in a book title and it will give you several book suggestions in a graphic organizer format!  I love the visual aspect of the site!  When you click on a book cover, it becomes the focus book and other similar titles are shown.  The focus book is also linked to amazon reviews for that title which are shown on the side.  It makes it super easy to see a few reviews and decide if it's one you need to read.  It seems to do a better job at matching content than reading level.  A magic tree house book about pandas quickly linked me to some books for older readers that had a a similar panda theme.  Regardless, it's a fun way to browse for books!


Happy reading!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

My new BFF & Reading for fun

So, this week was conference week.  In the midst of all the busyness and long days, I woke up on Wednesday to find the nicest email from Patricia saying that she downloaded one of my free Christmas Math worksheets (Mrs. Claus' Workshop) AND that she posted some pictures to her blog of her kids using them!  It was the A-MAZE-ING to see my items being used by someone else.  I felt like a proud parent!  You can see the post here.   So, thank you my new BFF, Patricia, for making my week!

I am SO ready for Christmas break!  My to-do list is very long, but I'm hoping to actually have some time to read books for me. Not that I don't love children's books, but occasionally I feel the need for some variety!  If you are looking for some free kindle books to download for the holidays, I have a few sites to share with you. 

Inspired Reads - I just found this one today!  It has free and discounted Christian Kindle books.

Books on the Knob Blog - This is one I've used for a while.  Advance Warning:  They post every type of book!  Definitely not a site for kids!  I wish I didn't have to sort through junk, but they really cover the deals on kindle and also for the Nook.

Overdrive - Your local library!  Don't forget that you can download free kindle books from most (all?) public libraries.  If you want a popular book, you might want to login now and put a request on it so you can possibly get if for the school break.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

'tis the season for giving!

As the holidays quickly approach, I have a few giveaways to share with your and free e-books from Teacherspayteachers!

Last year, TPT put out a holiday e-book with 50 free holiday items.  Well, this year TPT has grown so much they decided to put out 3 books and divide it into various grades.  Teachers had to submit items for consideration into the book.  We knew the competition for the PK-2 book would be tough.  It turns out that they had a hard time deciding and decided to choose enough for 2 books at this level!  Yeah!  So, there are LOTS of freebies in this e-book collection!  I submitted Mrs. Claus' Workshop - 11 Math worksheets and Christmas Cactus - a compound word game.

My products are in the 1st-2nd grade edition.  Here are the links to the 4 TPT e-books:

PK-K Edition
1st-2nd Grade-Edition
3rd - 6th Grade Edition
7th - 12th Grade Edition

BTW, if any fellow bloggers are looking to post pictures side by side, I'll share a tutorial I found.  I was so glad to finally find one that had easy to follow directions and pictures!  This is the "magic" code:
<table border="1" width="150"><tbody><tr><td>FIRSTPICTURE</td><td>SECONDPICTURE</td></tr></tbody></table>
You place this in the html section and then click on insert a picture.  You'll cut and paste ALL of the picture code that is generated and replace the FIRST PICTURE text.  Repeat for second picture.  I've found that if you want to type under the pictures you'll need to start typing in the html screen and then after a few words you can go back to the compose screen (WYSIWYG - what you see is what you get).  If you try to type in the compose screen it's difficult to get past the pictures to start typing.

How to Post Side by Side Pictures - A Crafting Journey

Last, but not least, I'm a part of 2 fantastic giveaways! Math Coach's Corner is having a huge giveaway to celebrate a million views of her blog!  Congratulations, Donna!  What an amazing accomplishment!  Mrs. Jones' Kindergarten is having a fun holiday giveaway.  Wow!

Click here to enter!

Click here to enter!

Whew! This is a long post, but I really wanted to share these opportunities! I'm off to check out the TPT e-books and start some serious downloading! Enjoy! ~Melissa

Sunday, November 25, 2012

TPT Sale Linky!

Terry at Terri's Teaching Treasures is having a linky party for sellers who are throwing a sale on Cyber Monday.  Check it out!  The items in my Teacher's Pay Teachers store are discounted by 20% on Monday & Tuesday.  Don't forget to enter the code CMT12 at checkout to get the additional discount by TPT.  This will give you a total of 28% off the items in my store.  Happy shopping everyone!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving! & Big Shopping Spree
Don't miss out on the BIG sale at!  Many sellers are discounting their stores at up to 20% off and then TPT takes another 10% off of that -- save up to 28%!  Click on the link below the picture to save at my TPT store and check out all the sales!  Happy Thanksgiving! 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Giveaway at Diving into Learning! 39 Products

Diving into Learning is having a HUGE winter giveaway!  There are over 39 teaching packs/units to be won!  She has divided it into categories so that you can enter just K-2 (for example) or you can enter all 8 prize packages.  Don't miss out on this opportunity to win some great new items for your classroom!  Click on the link (text under the picture) to enter the contest.  Good luck!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

If you were a Pilgrim...

We have had so much fun the last few weeks with our Pilgrim studies!  We started out with everyone getting a "Pilgrim" name.  Technically, these are just names of those who were on the Mayflower and they might have been separatist, "stranger", servant or crew, but we don't get that detailed in 1st grade!  I've posted a link to the google doc that lists the passenger names.  The names can be cut out and students can draw a boy or girl name.  I like to use the names on the 1st page.  The ones on the 2nd page are more complicated ---like naming your son Love!  We only have a few more school days before Thanksgiving, but your students would think it was fun to have a "Pilgrim" name.  I let them write that name on all their class work during this time and try to remember (that's one of the Pilgrim names this year!) to call them by that name in class.  One of my girls this year chose the name Humility and wasn't very happy about it.  I explained what it meant and I think she liked it even less!  She wanted to change names with someone else, but I didn't want to do that -- can you imagine the chaos that would follow!  Everyone would need a different name and of course 5 of them would want the same name!  So, one day we were doing a worksheet (Scholastic?) about the Pilgrim names and what they meant and it had little drawing of Pilgrim kids to go with the names.  Someone at her table said, "Oh, look at Humility!  She is so pretty!"  Now, the name isn't a problem.  Thank goodness for worksheets with cute artwork!

Freebie: Mayflower Passenger List

We take a pretend journey on the Mayflower and learn about how difficult the journey was.  This is at the start of our unit since the rest of it will deal with what life was like once they arrived.  The 2nd graders learn about Native Americans and so we get together with them a few afternoons to learn about the Pilgrims and Indians. 

On Friday, we had our Thanksgiving feast.  The 1st and 2nd graders both participate and the parents supply the food.  The food is supposed to be as close as we can get to food during that time (jerky, dried fruit, popcorn, cornbread, apple slices, etc.).  They get to dress like Pilgrims or Native Americans.  The parents are so creative and come up with some cute ideas.  I've posted a picture of us in our "costumes."

It's been a busy, but fun time!  I didn't even do the turkey in disguise this year.  It just seemed like it would be too much.  What are your favorite classroom traditions/lessons during this time?  

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Teachers Helping Teachers

Thanks to Pinterest I discovered this wonderful blog that has set-up a way for teachers to help teachers who were affected by hurricane Sandy.  The one requesting help fills out a form with information about where they teach and  how Sandy affected them.  The teachers who want to help fill out a form (love those forms!) giving information about products they will donate and the grade level.  I've joined this worthy project.  If you want to join, please click on the link above for more information.

Digital Student Portfolios

I just disovered an interesting (and easy!) way to create digital student portfolios. is an application that allows you to capture student work (audio, picture or video) with your mobile device and save it to your threering account.  They support droid and apple mobile devices.  I have only used it a few times and it was super easy to setup and use.  I was able to cut and paste a student list to setup the roster.  I added a few of the subjects that are frequently assessed for the category tags by typing in the name of the subject.  All of this was done through my desktop computer.  I then took a picture of a student's work with an ipad.  I went back to the desktop application later that day and added in notes which are only visible to me.  I still need to figure out how I could show the work (the image, etc.) without showing the notes.   Parents and students can create accounts and you can choose to have the work (without notes) visible to them, so I may need to create a sample student or parent account so that I can show parents.  Another user talked about taking a picture of student's work and projecting it so that they could peer edit.  This is a new product with even more features coming in the near future.  It looks like a promising addition to the classroom and did I mention it's FREE!   You can check out a video about it at YouTube or sign-up for a free account at
BTW, don't worry about the name on this paper - that is her "Pilgrim" name!  I'll tell you more about our Pilgrim and Thanksgiving studies soon!  Enjoy your long week-end!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Look Who's Been Spotted in 1st Grade!

I hope you had a great week!  We just finished Spirit Week and I must say I'm glad I have another year before I have to get to go through that torture fun-filled week again!  It is too exhausting!  It's one thing to plan for my outfits, but then I'm also preparing outfits for my 2 boys.  The most difficult day was decade day.  One of my boy went as a paperboy (Newsies style) and looked really cute.  The other one went as someone from the future.  He had fun putting together his outfit.  I decide to go as Ms. Frizzle - I figured that would work for the 90's.  I have a stuffed animal lizard somewhere, but couldn't find it!  One of my boys helped me out that morning by finding a tiny plastic lizard - not quite as effective, but at least an attempt!  Of course, I could have used Lizzie, our class gecko, but she would only stay in one place for about 2 seconds!
Here's a photo - ignore the neighborhood stray cat which has adopted us!

I thought I'd share a little display I made for back to school.  I'm sure you can come up with lots of uses for it!  It has a boy and girl dalmatian dog with a place to write the student's name.  Click on the link below the picture to download this freebie!  Enjoy!
Look Who's Been Spotted in 1st Grade!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A freebie page from my new TPT unit!

Sight Word Sillies
Hope you all are having a great weekend!  Here's a page from my new TPT package called Sight Word Sillies.  Each page has a joke for the student's to answer.  The page has a small word bank that includes some sight words.  There is a place to draw a picture.  The students solve the joke by circling letters at the bottom of the page.  They are told to circle the second, third or fourth letters so they also get to benefit by practicing their ordinal numbers!  There are 20 worksheets in this pack.  Click on the link above for the download.  Enjoy your free page! 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Still here!

Wow!  It's been a long time since I posted!  As always, school started and I have been completely and totally busy (and worn out!).   In addition to teaching 1st grade, I have 2 active young boys (8 & 11) and I am working on my Masters degree.  Never a dull moment!

A few pictures of my classroom:

Anyway, some highlights from the year so far:

1) Finally figuring out a good rotation schedule & iPad schedule!  I have 4 reading groups that I meet with each day.  My rotations are very loosely modeled after the Daily Five.  While I am reading with a group, another group is doing RTS/LTR (read to self or listen to reading), another group is doing word work centers (I've been using monthly Literacy Center Menus by Sarah Paul on TPT.  --such a time saver!) and another group is doing word work bags which are just miscellaneous centers that I've put in hanging bags (they are often ones that allow them to work with a partner which they love!).  Before each rotation, I announce what each group is doing a put cards up in the pocket chart.  The iPad rotation is also happening at the same time.  That means they are missing time from something else, but it's not long.  On the same chart, I put the names of the students who are in line for the iPad.  Each student gets 6 minutes (timer is set) and then an extra 1 minute (timer is set) to finish up.  They are currently using the Teach Me 1st Grade app so the extra minute gives them time to spend their coins.  This rotation allows each student to rotate through our 2 classroom iPads each day.

2) Collaborative Classroom Charts!  This year there is another 1st grade teacher and so we decided to work together on some apple word problems.  It was so much fun!  I'll try to add pictures later.  Each class worked on a word problem as a class and we wrote in on chart paper.  We then rolled up the chart and tied it with a cute ribbon as a "message" to the other class!  The other class solved it and sent it back.  Then we "graded" it and gave them a sticker!  The messengers loved bringing messages to the other class.  After this, we had each student write a word problem (Not including the answer!) on a large apple.  We then had them solve each others problems and write/illustrate the answer on a smaller problem.  It made a cute little display for the hallway!

3) Owls, Owl and more Owls!  The firsties had such a great time learning about owls this year.  We used most of the activities in my Owl unit that is posted on TPT.  They learned so much!  For the last few years, we have been able to have someone come from the Audubon Society and talk to us about owls.  They actually bring several "stuffed" owls (not sure what the Real term for that is!  You know -- the ones prepared by a taxidermist) that are found in our area.  I don't know if all chapters have access to those type of things, but it's worth a call to your local chapter to see if they could do a classroom visit.

Neighbor Numbers
** The Freebie has expired!  Follow my blog for more freebies!

Thank you for your patience with my starter blog!  I will try to post more faithfully!  In appreciation of your support, I am giving you my newly created Neighbor Numbers Math activity kit (adding doubles plus one) free for a limited time!  Click on the Neighbor Number caption under the pictures to download this item from google drive.  It is $3.00 on Teacherspayteachers.  I hope that you can use this in your classroom!  Have a wonderful week!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Bathroom Passes

This week is crazy-busy!  It's my last week before returning to school and I'm teaching at VBS and I have a final due for a class I'm taking.  Somewhere in between all that I need to work on school stuff!  I've been sewing a curtain for above my cabinets (we're talking VERY basic straight stitch sewing here!), working on student binders, working on orientation, etc, etc.  I needed to replace my bathroom pass holder and found this cute idea on pinterest:

I like the idea of clothespins for the passes.  I've been using the traditional passes that you buy at dollar store or the teacher store and they get SO GROSS!  It seems like the string on the pass always comes untied when that same string is soaking wet.  And then it's given to me to re-tie!  I'm telling myself it's just water from the sink the whole time and I'm desperately hoping it's true!  I even put up command hooks in the bathroom in hopes of getting them to hang their passes their.  I think they often get brought into the stalls and put on the floor.  Ewww!  

Here's my version of the bathroom passes: 

The letters are B- Boys; G- Girls; O-Office.  The circles are magnets that have the student's initials (or student number).  They put their magnet in the section below when they take the pass.  Then I can see at a glance who is in the bathroom or office.  I used a Dollar Tree pizza pan, red spray paint (I'd recommend multiple coats to prevent chipping - I will probably need to re-paint soon), acrylic sealer, white rick-rack trim, large letter stickers, button magnets from Dollar Tree, white circle labels.  

Here's hoping for no more wet bathroom passes!


Thursday, August 9, 2012

TPT Sale & What's in Your Cart? Linky Party

 **Don't miss the back to school sale at TPT!  It is a GREAT time to buy the teaching products you need.  I know a few weeks from now I'll be finding more great items I want at TPT and wondering why I couldn't have found them during  the sale.  Well, Cassandra has come up with a way to help with that!  She has organized a "What's in Your Cart?" linky party.  Find out the great products that other teachers are buying.  I'm sure you'll be inspired to add to your cart..  Also, please check out my TPT store while you're there.  I'm just starting and would l-o-v-e some more comments and followers! :)
What's in Your Cart linky party - by Cassandra @ Adventures in Room 5
1. Daily Editing Word Problems  Jennifer offered some of these free on her blog for a while.  I used them in the classroom and absolutely LOVED them.  They contain a math problem and editing!  How great is that!  My kids became SO good at finding mistakes.  They liked to laugh at the way they were spelled.  Who would spell is "iz".  The absurdity of it!  They thought it was great.  This pack seems pricy, but it has an editing problem for every day of the school year!  She points out that the published books being offered are more than that AND you'd have to buy 1 for math word problems AND 1 for daily editing.  Now is the time to buy! :)  Regular price is $15.00

2. Super Silly Monster Fun! Literacy & Math Activities This one looks like a really good deal at regular price, but why not save some money anyway!  It has 6 monster themed math & literacy centers - plus worksheets, book list, etc. 56 pages!  It looks like a good one for the beginning of the year for my firsties.  Regular price is $3.50

3. Word Work Mega Pack Part 1  This pack is loaded with activities for long vowels.  I like that the activities are repeated (i.e. - highlight the word activity is repeated - just the spelling pattern changes) so that the students quickly learn how to do the activities and can be very independent.  Plus, it's made by Abby (Babbling Abby/the Inspired Apple blog).  Her work is always so cute and just perfect for firsties!   Regular price is $5.00

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Blog Hop @ Primary Inspired - Websites for Word Work & Literacy

Primary Inspired
Brenda @ Primary Inspired is having a blog hop with teachers submitting websites for literacy or word work activities.  There aren't that many listed yet, but hopefully it will grow.  This would be a great resource!  You can just post 1.  I chose the Read Aloud Stories @ RIF (Reading is Fundamental).  The link takes you to a list of stories and songs.  These are animated and the word is highlighted as it is read (I love that feature!).  I'm including 2 links for this.  1 takes you to the RIF Reading Planet Read Aloud Stories site.  The other takes you to the index of stories.  It's not a fancy list, but it has more books than are featured on their site.  You can go directly to each story and use each individual link for your parent website/blog or for your student computers.  These are great for listen to reading time. 
RIF Reading Planet Read Aloud Stories
Index of RIF Read Aloud Stories

Book Zone

Here are a few more sites that I didn't see mentioned in the blog hop.  Feel free to add these at Primary Inspired.  Each person can only add 1.

Word Work Activities at Read Write Think:
Word Maker
What's in the Bag?
Picture Match

Clifford Phonics Activity from Scholastic:
Sound Match with Clifford

** BTW, check out my last post about a freebie for the 1st 2 people to leave a comment.  The last time I checked there was only 1 comment.


Some deals for you!

Wow!  It's been a bit since I've posted.  I'm super busy with getting ready for school, a class I'm taking and creating items for Teacher's Pay Teacher's.  So, I finally have a post for you!  I'm listing a few deals for Scholastic and a good deal on a printed poster.  I love the Scholastic Teacher Express deal -- FREE!  I really enjoy having digital editions of my teaching materials.  The poster deal may seem like an odd one to post, but I've read of many teachers printing really cute banners for their classrooms (maybe for a birthday, clip chart hall of fame, best work, etc.).  At the end of the post, there is a link to some cute Health posters I made for TPT.  They would be great for back to school or to use while teaching a health unit.  I am hoping to create lesson plans to go along with them.  I teach health in March along with nutrition and the human body.  Now that I've created these though, I'm thinking that it might be a great idea to teach the health part at the beginning of the year.  Maybe I could avoid a few of the inevitable coughs that seem to be aimed directly towards my face!  Yikes!  Germ city! :)  I am excited and nervous that school is starting so quickly.  I ran into one of my new students at Wal-Mart.  He was so excited about starting 1st grade.  Adorable!  I hope that you are getting many things accomplished so you can have a stress free back-to-school!

For any of you who like’s Scholastic “Teacher Express” here is a $5 off code.
No Minimum required.  After the coupon select the option of “No Payment Required”.
Here is the code
One per customer : Expires 08-19-2012
* Their site is down right now, so I haven't been able to test it.  Hoping it works!
50-Book Collections Grades K-2

Scholastic Teachers book Club is offering 50 books for $50. Just choose either the K-2nd Grade Selection of books [] regular price $178 3rd&4th Grade Selection of books [] regular price $178 5th&6th Grade Selection of books [] regular price $240 and then at check out apply the code "BIO". The offer is good thru 8/31 or as long as supplies last. Standard shipping is $4.50.

ShindigZ Coupons & Deals has 18"x54" Personalized Vinyl Banners for $14.99 - $13.99 promotional code VSQQR7 = $1. Shipping is $7.95. 
  1. Click Here and select a banner type
    • Valid only for item #s B1118, K1118, K1154 and B1154
  2. Select 18"x54" Size
  3. Click "Add to Cart"
  4. Enter the text you would like for your banner and add to cart
  5. Enter promotional code VSQQR7 during checkout
  6. Total should be $1 + $7.95 shipping

This is a set of 10 Healthy Habits posters.  You can find this item at my TPT store.  The first 2 people to leave a comment can get this item for free!  Make sure you leave your email address (I usually write mine with extra spaces and at instead of @ to try avoid spam - i.e., luv2harp at't know if that helps or not, but I feel better about it!).  Let me know which background you would like: plaid, dots or zig-zag.


Friday, August 3, 2012

Would you vote for my blog to get a makeover?

I just found a giveaway for a blog make-over.  I've just started and had to use some "freebies" to get this blog going.  I know there are some "quirks" in the layout because I'm still learning! :)  I would love to have someone who knows what they're doing to help me get a better looking blog and one that is unique (lots of blogs are using this layout).  I'd really appreciate a vote!  All you have to do is a leave a comment that you are voting for me.  This contest is offered by Honey Bunch Blog Design.  Thanks so much!

Grandparent's Day comes up so quickly in the school year.  I'm always looking for new books for special days like these.  I did a search on the internet and didn't find much.  There are small lists with a few lists or huge lists with books that don't apply at all and it gives you no info. about the book.  So, I created a list of my own!  It includes 75 books that are mostly in the K-3 range.  There are many that could be read to younger kids and even older kids would enjoy many of these books.  It includes the cover picture, title, author, illustrator and keywords.  The keywords are very useful.  You can search these terms to find books about grandparents that live far away, grandparent's who've died, humorous books, multicultural and more!  You can check it out here at my Teacher's Pay Teacher's store.  Thanks for looking!  Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Huge Giveaway @ A Year of Many Firsts

Lyndsey at A Year of Many Firsts is having a huge giveaway in celebration of reaching 500 followers!  Congratulations Lyndsey!   Some of the best of the best have donated teaching units/items.  It even includes $ towards a blog design and freebies from a great clip art creator.  Click on the link below to check it out!


 You can enter the giveaway here at A Year of Many Firsts.  Good luck!

New {School} Year Resolution Linky Party

Where did summer go?  As we quickly approach the first day, we are all scrambling to get done all those many things on our to-do list.  If you're like me, as soon as the school year ends you are reflecting on the past year and the things you want to change or improve for the next year.  Amanda at Teaching Maddeness is having a New {School} Year Resolutions linky party.   What a great idea!

# 1 - More parent communication - both the positive and things that need work!  I took a lot of pictures last year, but never managed to get them posted to the school site so parents could see them.  I really want them to be able to enjoy these great pics of their sweeties!  We are getting a new software system so that everything will be computerized (attendance, lunch count, grades, etc. - we've been doing attendance on paper and the secretary had to enter it into the computer!).  It will be so nice!  So, they will see all behavior problems, etc.

# 2 - Earlier lesson planning - I end up at the school doing lesson plans EVERY week!  I have a 25 minute planning period, but that just seems to be enough time to take a restroom break, eat a snack, clean up around the room (always a disaster!) and make sure everything is set up for the rest of the day.  I'm going to try a few things: 1) Don't clean up after them!  I don't know if I can do this.  Before specials (my planning time) is just barely enough time to get through reading.  Perhaps we'll have a clean up time after they come back and eat their snacks.  2) Try to be more effective after school.  My 2 boys come into my room and it seems it is often distracting - even when they're being super good.  They want a snack or 1 of their friends want to come visit.  I'm going to try to make that homework time this year -- no playing, no friends.  If we all have a "quiet" time I might be able to accomplish something! :)

# 3 - More read-a-louds - This is more of a wish than a resolution.  I have had a terrible time with losing my voice during the school year.  I am fine during the summer!  I have been to the allergist and ENT for advice.  The ENT said my voice box is scarred (probably from clearing my throat) and suggested cutting back on acidic foods - which for me is primarily soda.  I was drinking a lot of diet cherry coke!  I've tried eliminating it completely in the past and have gone a few months and then I have one and I'm back to all my old habits!  I decided this summer to not eliminate it, but not to stock it at all (home or school).  So, if I am really craving one I need to go to the store to buy it.  It has worked wonders.  I only have a soda a couple times a week at most.  I am earnestly praying that this was the main culprit and that I will be able to talk like a normal person next year!  I really need my voice!

What are your resolutions for the school year?  Follow the link above to Amanda's site to read what others are doing.

P.S.  I was excused from jury duty today!  So relieved!  I was in the jury pool for a civil case and then they moved us to the jury pool for a criminal case because not enough jurors showed up.  Thankfully I was not randomly selected for the jury box.


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Are you a Sharpie hoarder? **SALE ENDED**

Hello.  My name is Melissa and I have too many Sharpies!  But there's a sale!  I can't help myself....  LOL!  If this is you, you'll love this deal!  Amazon has a 24 pack of 80's glam (what fun!) ultra fine markers for $10.00.  Amazon's prices change quickly.  This price was valid at time of posting.  If you order $25 or more (of any eligible products - look for "free super saver shipping" right after the price) you are eligible for free shipping or if you are an Amazon prime member.  P.S.  Keep reading this post and you'll be rewarded with a freebie at the end.  Ok - Ok - If you must scroll down to the bottom without reading, I'll let it pass this time!

Since you're now shopping at Amazon (have to get those markers, right?) I'll introduce you to a couple more favs!

My BFF - the Scotch Advanced Tape Glider.   This is AMAZING!  It takes a few tries to get used to using it and I do still look up the instructions to load the tape on youtube everytime I run out of tape-- those are the negatives.  On the plus side, I use this frequently.  It is much better and easier to use than double sided tape on the roll.  I've used double sided tape for projects before and then laminated them and the tape line underneath the project was really obvious.  This doesn't do that at all!  Plus, it's really easy to apply once you learn how to use it.  So, your taping time is great reduced.  It also applies much easier than any scrapbooking tape I've used.  It's perfect for classrooms, student projects and scrapbooking.   I was excited when I saw the price on Amazon, but then I realized it isn't free shipping.  This is coming directly from a scrapbooking store so the price is $19.94 + $5.95 shipping.  I bought mine at Michael's and used a 40% off coupon.  I think it was around $20 after the coupon.

Do you love to print items from teacher blogs or TPT?  I sure do!!!  It is so much easier to laminate little pieces at home!  I have this Scotch thermal laminator.  I love it!  I've also tried the Purple Cow laminator which is sold at Costco.  That one did not work well for me.  This one gives a really nice seal and with the pouches I use it makes a nice, thick finished product.  It is thicker than the laminating that I can do with the big machine at school.  It is currently around $30, but it sometimes has a price drop.  I purchased mine when it dropped to $16.99!  I'll let you know if I see any good deals like that!!  You can also buy it at Wal-Mart.  I wonder if it's at Michaels?  If so, it might work with a 40% off coupon. 

I do not buy the name brand pouches.  Much too expensive!  I keep an eye on these laminating pouches at Amazon.  The price usually varies between about $9- $12 for a 100 pack.  There is free shipping on orders over $25 or if you have Amazon prime.

If you actually stayed with me through this LONG post then you are super reader of the day!  Here is a freebie as promised!  This is a font I created.  It is the handwriting style that we use in the classroom.  It is the first font I've created, so don't look for perfection! :)  I was looking at it as a "teacher" and wanted to circle my writing and say that the slant isn't the same, etc.!  It's a bit harder than writing on paper!  Hope you can find some good use for this.  It is for personal or commercial use (with credit).  It can be downloaded at my Teacher's Pay Teacher's store.

Thanks for reading!  I'm off to bed.  I have jury duty tomorrow.  Is it terrible that I'm hoping I won't be chosen?  I have LOTS to do before school starts!!  :)


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Puzzle Mat Word Wall Pictures & TPT Back to School

I went into my classroom yesterday and was able to get a few things done.  It's a teeny - tiny amount when I think of the mountain loads of word to be done!  Little by little - inch by inch, right?   So, I got part of my word wall up.  Here is the before (totally blank walls - just painted)

Here it is with some of the word wall finished.  I still need to add LOTS of the word cards.  I made them with magnets on the back so the kids could take them down. 

My criteria were:
  1. Interactive- I wanted it at student level and for my firsties to be able to remove words if they needed help with spelling.  I aimed for that last year, but it wasn't very good.   I used velcro and it was hard for me to even get it off without feeling like it was falling apart.  This time I went with magnets-- hoping it is more successful!
  2. Durable - Ummm...beside the velcro fiasco, I also had problems with the laminated cardstock bending at the corners.  It started to look tattered.  I'm hoping that having the circle shape (yeah! no corners to bend!) and magnets will make a difference.
  3. Flexible - I wanted to easily change words.  I printed all the Dolch words that I will use this year (pre-primer through 2nd).  I made each list with a distinct look so that I could easily change them.  I also am creating a few theme word sets (colors, numbers, back to school, etc.).  I always like to include the student names so they don't have to copy the name of their friend while hovering over their desk and distracting EVERYONE in the group. 
Here are the materials I used:
Foam Puzzle Mats (purchased from Walgreens last year)
Magnetic Tape Strips (small pack -1.97 at WalMart)
Printable word cards (the Dolch words that I used are a freebie in my TPT store!)

I also put up the student #'s by their backpack hooks.  These # cards are also a freebie in my TPT store.

I've also finished a back to school activity.  I love those "all about me" posters where the students write their "favorite" food, pet, etc.  I tried those last years and it was NOT a good beginning of school activity for my kiddos.  I tried to put lists of the most popular things on the board so they could copy it -- each person had a different favorite!  I could do "guess & go" spelling, but I wanted it to be more readable.  I also had the students ask me what color their eyes are!  And, the hair color... none of them were just brown, blonde, etc.  They had long names to describe their colors and wanted to know how to spell each.  It also took them FOREVER and many never finished.  So, I wanted to do my own version.  They get to color their hair & eye color (Yeah!).  I think I'll even have a mirror available! :)  Many of the choices are a multiple choice where they can circle the answer.  I also left the name off of the front cover.  They are going to keep their work "top secret" and then try to guess who each "mystery student" is.  It will be a fun "getting to know you" activity.  (Wow, I use a lot of quotation marks!).    I've listed this activity in my TPT store for $2.00.  If you download it, please leave feedback.  My store is just getting started so I'm anxious to get some ratings! :) 

Here's my version to give you an idea of the completed project!

Enjoy your Sunday!


Follow Me on Pinterest