Sunday, August 31, 2014

September Days and Classroom Tour Part 1

 Wow! Where did August go?

I'm posting a look ahead of the September National Days. There were a few days that didn't really have much that was usable in the classroom for students.

*VOTE* Look at the calendar and let me know if there are days you would really like to see me feature here on my blog. I am trying to only feature days that would be fun and/or meaningful to celebrate in the classroom and I usually only cover the days that fall on a weekday. I try to find freebies and fun ideas from around the web for you to use that day. I sometimes even create a special freebie!


Our first day back-to-school (with students) was on Tuesday. This week we have a BBQ and an informal Open House to welcome back the students and parents. The classrooms are open and the parents can see what we've so far (in a little over a week!). There is always the pressure to have some wonderful things finished and displayed, but I think parents understand that we've barely even started. I always tell my parents at Orientation that the year starts out slowly as far as difficulty level. We're reviewing many of the things that they learned in Kindergarten and may have forgotten over the summer. This is definitely helpful when they are starting off with basic math pages that have you color a certain number or reading sentences that have about 3 words. It progresses quickly though and before you know it we'll be zooming through new material!

I'm still setting up some things in the classroom and working on a display for the hallway (Our 1st & 2nd Grade Neighborhood). Here are a few pictures that I have to share with you now.
1) Our Best Work Wall - The supplies are all from Wal-Mart. I used the scrapbook paper pack that was shown. I did have to a black/white (numbers) page that I had from somewhere. You may need a few packs to have a good mix of the styles that you want to use. I put the mini duck tape over the top of the clothespin and hot glued a tack to the back. I am still going to add a small picture of each student to the clothespin so we know who did the work! :) I made the letters and used a variety of paper backgrounds that coordinated with the paper. 

*Here are the words: Our Best Work

2) Noodle Pictures - The first day of school we read the book, The Night Before First Grade by Natasha Wing. In the story, the students make pictures our of noodles and both girls (the new friends) make noodle poodles. I haven't had anyone ever (successfully!) make a noodle poodle, but we make a unique creation with a variety of noodle shapes. They have fun and it gives them something to bring home on the first day.
3) This is a little decoration that I made for the door. I don't have this one ready to be shared. I still need to add credits to the file and then I'll list it as a free or paid product. I wanted a silver background (like a baking sheet) and thought wrapping paper would work better than aluminum foil. The good news is that it went over the door very easily. I just had to tape it to the top and let the roll gently down. I then used double sided tape to underneath. You can see a seam to the right. The roll of wrapping paper basically only covered the left side (I had a little leftover, but not enough to finish the door) so I had to buy a 2nd roll. My husband bought the 1st roll (from Wal-Mart) and I was shocked to see that this fancy Hallmark paper cost nearly $6. So, 2 rolls was a bit pricey! I do have leftovers that I can use for wrapping. I even thought about salvaging the paper and doing some other cookie themed doors (Christmas cookies, etc.) but I used double sided tape to attach the pictures so they are not moving at all. That is why the lettering in the middle isn't centered - there was no way to get it to budge without tearing the paper. Live and learn! :)
4) An apple for the parent - The poem is a TPT freebie by Bethany Miller. The adorable ribbon is from Wal-Mart (surprise! it's the only big store that is really close) and it only cost $1 a roll. You'll probably need 2-3 rolls. I left this on the desks for Parent Orientation meetings. 

5) Picture props! I made a poster for my 1st graders to hold on the 1st day and then emailed the parents a copy. They really enjoyed it. This makes a special memory for the parents. I made them for preschool and PK-5th grade. It's a free download here at TPT. 

Well, that's all for now! I'm off to enjoy some family time on our holiday weekend. Enjoy your day!

Friday, August 15, 2014

National Lemonade Day ~ August 20th *Freebies, charity & entrepreneurs

Nothing says summer like a refreshing glass of lemonade! So, why is this day celebrated as my summer is ending and I am going back to school? Cruel irony!

Actually, National Lemonade Day isn't about the drink. It's about kid entrepreneurs. There is a website,, that will help you learn more. Here is how they define this holiday: Simply put, Lemonade Day is about providing kids of all ages the opportunity to EXPERIENCE entrepreneurship by planning, starting, owning, and operating their own business:  a lemonade stand!
Another important organization to recognize on this day is Alex's Lemonade Stand. Alex Scott battled cancer throughout her short life. Not long after she turned 4, Alex voiced the desire to start a lemonade stand to raise money to help other kids who are sick. She had this thought as she was in the hospital courageously fighting her own battle with cancer. Later that year, she did have a lemonade stand and earned the first 2,000 for this cause. She lost her battle with cancer when she was only 8 years old. Word had spread about her lemonade stand and many had contributed. Children around the world were starting their own lemonade stands to raise money. By that time, her little lemonade stand and those of others around the world, had raised over 1 million to help find a cure for childhood cancer! ALSF (Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation) has chosen to celebrate National Lemonade Days in June and thousands of events and lemonade stands have fundraising during those days. You can have a lemonade stand anytime and support this effort. Just check out all the resources on their page and register the dates for your lemonade stand. You can watch a video of Alex's story here or click on the picture above to purchase the book from the gift shop. Here are some really cute free printables to host your own lemonade stand to donate to ALSF. If you love all things lemon, you may want to follow this Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation pinterest board, which is full of yummy looking recipes.
As you head back to the classroom, you might be interested in these refreshing lemonade freebies!
1) Read and Sequence worksheet for making lemonade by Snippet's by Sarah
I love Sarah's creations and use her monthly centers every day in my 1st grade classroom. I'm always delighted to find a freebie by her! This one has super cute clipart by Creative Clips, too. :) You can download this worksheet for free at Sarah's blog. While your there, follow her blog and even leave a comment to let her know you appreciate the free page.
2) Lemonade Time Scoot by Mrs. Humphries Class
My class has so much fun with Scoot games (I have several of them in my TPT store) and this game has time to the hour and half hour which will be a perfect review for my firsties at the beginning of the year. Score!! Thank you, for this great freebie Mrs. Humphries! The clocks in the middle of the lemons are super cute. :)
3) The Lemonade Stand, a thematic reading mini unit by Creative to the Core
Wow! This is a wonderful freebie! It has a list of books about lemonade stands, 3 graphic organizers, writing stationary, a writing booklet and comprehension questions.
4) Lemonade Math Centers by Buggy for Learning
This one is geared more towards second grade, but there are some things I can use with my first graders now or I could save it for the end of the year when I could use the whole pack as review activities.
5) Lemonade Graphing by Brooke Eagerton
This pack was made to go with the book Lemonade for Sale by Stuart Murphy. There are a few colorful graphs that correlate with the book and then some task cards. It's great to find some free graphing activities!
6) Lemonade Digital Papers by Ashley Hughes
If you're looking for some bright and sunny digital papers then don't miss this freebie by Ashley!

Coming soon....
Enjoy your weekend! Don't forget to drink lemonade next week - you have the perfect excuse! :)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Cooking up a Great Year ~ 2 Giveaways & Tips for School Lunches

Carla at Comprehension Connection has brought together 25 teachers to serve up some ideas for a great year! This blog hop is full of food related freebies, book reviews and giveaways!

Since this blog hop has a food focus, it makes sense for me to write about food today!! :) It just so happens that this is something that I need to focus on. I have such a hard time keeping up with meals during the school year. It's especially hard to make healthy choices when I am so busy! I'm trying to get organized to make better choices this year.
For breakfast, I will eat a veggie "omelet" that is cooked in this ceramic cooker that I LOVE (check etsy for something similar), fruit & yogurt, an Erin Baker cookie OR Special K cereal.
Many nights I work late, so I don't have much (if any) time to prepare anything when I get home. One day a week, we have to come home early from school so we can get the boys to church choir that night. So, for that night we always pick up a pizza. My boys aren't really into sports that much, but we've tried to encourage them to join a team. So, if there is soccer or basketball (or both!) on the schedule this year that takes a good deal of planning. Plus, there is usually about 1 day a month where there is a special evening event at school (reading night, fundraising auction, BBQ, etc.) and the teacher events of report card prep and/or conferences that will often keep me at school late. So, you can see the trouble with preparing dinner. I've already shared about the menu board (with QR codes) that I made earlier this summer. Hopefully that will make a difference with dinner time during the school year.

After dinner it's time to make lunch for the next day. The Smart Ones frozen meals (usually the ziti marinara one) have been my stand-by for the last several years. They're easy, but I'm tired of them and would like to try to have more filling & nutritious choices. I'm hoping to make lunches for the whole week and have them mostly put together on Sunday night. I will make the same thing and just have it every day for that week.

Here is MY PLAN for healthy lunches this year!

Step 1: Stock up on containers. You'll need divided containers, deep containers for salads, little containers for sauces, etc. I was so happy to find this little pack of sauce cups at Target for a good price (about $2). I've bought the huge pack from Costco before, but this little pack is just right.

**Ignore the Babycakes! That is not part of the health plan. :) My son wanted that to make mini doughnuts so I gave it to him on his birthday (April) and he still hasn't made any doughnuts. I think I'll remind him about it tomorrow. :) 
Step 2: Find a cute lunch bag. I love this one from Bed, Bath & Beyond. It's big enough to fit some of those containers. :)
Step 3: Prepare for the week. This is where I fall apart. I'll buy in bulk with every intention of making a bunch of meals. Then I completely run out of time. Sometimes, the result is throwing away food in bulk! I just really need to make this happen this year. I don't even mind if it is the same meal each day for a week. I might even throw in 1 or 2 extra lunches for times when I'm not able to eat the family meal (pizza night or a night that I'm working late).

Lunch Ideas:

I'm trying to go low carb, so these ideas will focus on limited carbs. I'm also just including things that I like. :)

Veggies ~
*carrots - I find them boring, but I can handle the crinkle cut ones
*celery sticks
*cherry tomatoes
*sliced peppers
*green beans
*small red potatoes - You can make a bunch of these at once - directions here. I'm going to see if I like them cold.
*edamame - this steamable bag from Pict Sweet is my fave. The salt from the pod gets on your fingers as you eat them so you have a slightly salty snack. I'm going to try to steam a bag at the beginning of the week and try eating them cold with lunches during the week.
*microwavable veggie cups - by the canned foods
*single serving frozen vegetables
*Israeli salad - the basic idea of this is a chopped cucumber salad with a little olive oil and lemon juice. I add a bit more! I don't usually measure anything, but here is the basic recipe that I use: 2 large cucumbers (or 3-4 small ones), 1 red pepper, 1 green pepper, 1 orange pepper, l lemon squeezed over veggies, 1/4 cup extra light olive oil & a sprinkling of salt (I use a sea salt grinder for a coarsely ground salt). Mix together.
*green beans

Fruits ~
*sliced oranges (I like to slice them so they are circles - they're easy to peel that way)
*sliced apples
*fruit cups
*grapefruit (I like the big jar of grapefruit - then I can scoop some out)
Other snacks ~
*laughing cow light cheese wedges
*cottage cheese
*treats - try using the portion cups to keep a small treat in your classroom. Perfect for when you need just a bit of sugar or chocolate to make it through the day! :)

Lunch ideas ~
*grilled chicken with a red potato or other veggies (if you're out of time, use rotisserie chicken)
*omelette - I've thought about buying another egg cooker to keep at school. That way I could make egg beater omelettes in just a few minutes. I like to add chopped peppers and a little bit of pepper jack cheese.
*taco in a lettuce leaf - leftover taco meat can be used to make yummy taco wraps
*sandwich meat & cheese in a lettuce leaf ~ just put some meat and cheese on a lettuce leaf and add some pickles. Wrap it up for a tasty lunch.
*Quinoa & Kale Chicken Patties (from Costco) - That is what is hiding under the Pepperjack cheese in the photo above. It is really tasty, but rich so a little goes a long way. I thought it was perfect wrapped in lettuce. I would even skip the cheese -the chicken patty has so much flavor.
*Onion, red pepper & zucchini frittata 

Salads ~
*add grilled chicken
*add peperoncini
*add mixed veggies
*put your salad in a piece of pita bread for a treat
*Oriental: Add sliced almonds, green onions, mandarin oranges (those little snack packs work great!) and water chestnuts. Use Panera Poppyseed dressing ~ you can find it at Target. Serve with grilled chicken. I was eating this at home, so I just put it in one dish. For a school lunch, I would put the toppings and chicken on the side so the lettuce doesn't start to wilt. This was delicious!
*Greek: Add artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, tomato, red onions & a small amount of feta cheese. Mix a little olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to make a dressing.
*Mediterranean Steak Salad - Delicious!

I've started a pinterest board for Healthy Lunch Ideas. Follow the board to find even more healthy lunch ideas!

Here's your chance to win! The blog hop contributors went together to offer some great prizes. You can win an adorable apron or a gift card! Enter the giveaway below and then scroll down just a bit more to enter a giveaway from me!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Do you teach nutrition in your classroom? If so, check out the nutrition and My Plate resources in my store.
*Enter to win the Food Group Sort - Just leave a comment and go to the 2nd rafflecopter giveaway and click enter! :)* 3 winners will be chosen. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
This blog hop is full of recipes, teaching ideas and giveaways. Make sure you keep hopping! BTW, if you see our posts about the giveaway on facebook, please let us know that you entered. :)  That will keep up encouraged to do more of these! TIA! The next stop is Emily at the Reading Tutor/OG. Click on the chef hat below to see what she has in store for you!
If you're stuck on the blog hop, you can always return to Carla's page to go to another blog. Just click on the image below:

Monday, August 11, 2014

It's Shark Week! Click here for freebies, lists & more!

Are you ready for shark week? I've never watched shark week on Discovery, but I always hear about it. Even my first graders talk about it! I'm going to try to watch some of it this year. I won't watch scary (Jaws type movies) or strange (Sharknado??? What??). I like the real movies and shows. I've watched the movie Soul Surfer (the true story of Bethany Hamilton) which was so inspiring. I would love any educational documentary type shows - like Disney's Planet Earth. I watched a clip on Discovery about a fishing team discovering a whale that had been bitten in half and about the possibility of a gigantic shark. Even that type of programming is interesting to me. However, I do want to be able to sleep at night!

Will your students be interested in sharks? Absolutely! Do I have some resources to share with you? Of course!


1. Sharks! A Vocabulary Activity by Teacher Treasure Hunter (me!)
I created this pack as a way to preview one of my animal vocabulary packs. I currently have spiders & bald eagles as my other vocabulary packs like this (they are both paid products). I have a few others that I need to finish - pandas, snakes, etc. The paid versions have more cards and a writing page.
2. Shark Attack! 11 underwater themed printables for 1st-3rd grade by Primary Punch.
This looks great! It's a variety of ocean themed pages (not just sharks), but there are some really good activity pages.
3. Shark vs. Fish Venn Diagram Materials by Megan Mitchell at First Grade Roars
I love this set! I'm a big fan of Venn diagrams and Megan has provided the cards already for your students to sort. I usually have the kids come up with their own information, but having pre-printed cards will make this activity a breeze. Your students will learn about fresh vs. salt water and even denticles! Be prepared to do some teaching and vocabulary development as you complete this activity.
4. Sharks and Whales Close Read for 2nd -3rd grade by Kennedy's Korner
I love non-fiction material like this and I have several of my own that I have written and posted in my store. I've written mine so that they are accessible for 1st graders (some need a bit of help). These ones are for 2nd & 3rd and most of my firsties would struggle with this (especially at the beginning of the year!). I'm still going to keep this resource. We may use it as a whole class activity or perhaps one of my advanced reading groups will use it sometime.
5. Ocean Life Shark Freebie by 1st Grade Hip Hip Hooray
This is one of my favorite finds! It is a non-fictional easy reader and also includes a true/false assessment. I'll use this one for sure!
6. Shark Acrostic Poem Template by Amy @ Step into Second

Other things you might need for shark week!
*Shark fin ice tray on Etsy - This would be so much fun!
*Shark soap on Etsy - Maybe not a classroom item, but is sure would be a fun stocking stuffer for a little one!

1/2 off for shark week!
I just listed this Shark Attack Pack and it is 1/2 off all week!  It focuses on ar & sh words and also has some information text reading! It includes: 
*Shark and fishes card game (sh words)
*Shark make-a-word sliders (3 sliders: sh- initial words, -sh final words & ar words)
*Word search (ar & sh words; 16 words)
*3 mini-books (ar word book; sh word book & Shark Fact book)
*Shark poster for recording words
*Graphic Organizer (color & B/W)

*Shark Book List

Happy shark week, friends! Stay safe! :)

Friday, August 8, 2014

Craft Giveaway ~ Creative Teacher Giveaway ~ Win a Book Clock

When I decided to participate in the Crafty Teacher Blog Hop again this summer, I thought I would choose a super easy project. I saw some cute books that were made into clocks and was inspired. I would just find a popular children's book and put in a clock kit. I almost felt guilty for not putting in more effort.

And then the project began. I felt like a mix between Amelia Bedelia and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day! Thankfully, I didn't make any accidental calls to Australia. I was however so exhausted during this time that I MAY have fallen asleep one night while talking to my mom and she might have had to call me back and ask what happened!
After much effort and stress, I do have a completed project for you! You can choose between the Owl Moon clock which is made to be set on shelf and opened slightly so it stays standing. The other choice is the Trumpet of the Swan clock. It is made to be displayed in a closed position. You can add a hanger to the back and hang it on the wall or use a little picture or plate display to hold it up. You could also prop this one open a bit to get it to stand. Both of the books are used and have a bit of wear. The Owl Moon one has a name written on the inside cover and some browning (from age) along the front of the spine.

So, how to complete it? Well, I can tell you what I learned. :)

1) Book choice - Buy the clock kit & numbers first. I bought mine at Michael's Craft Store. Lay them out and see how much space you need for the hands to circle. For me it was about 5 and a half inches. Keep that in mind when you are buying the book. Then think about where the numbers would be. If you are shopping for a book to use, you could even bring along a little protractor so you easily see where the numbers will need to be. I tried to avoid books where the post of the clock (the middle section) would be right in the middle of a face or other important part of the image. I also tried to avoid covering the author's name with any numbers. That eliminated many books.
2) Measure and mark where the numbers will go. This looks all precise in the picture. The reality was after many attempts to glue on the numbers (more on that later) most of the stickers had come off and I was guessing by my final attempts! I used stickers because I was was hoping to not add any extra marks to the books.
3) Drill a hole for the post of the clock. The drill bit that I used was 9/32. Try to keep the hole as clean as possible. You can wiggle a pencil in there to try to get out any extra bits of paper and make it smoother. Take all the pieces (the hands and washers) off the clock base. Add the rubber washer (the black thing in the picture above) to the clock base and push the post through the hole so that it is sticking out of the front of the book. You'll have to exert some force to get it. You want the battery compartment to be flat against the inside cover. At this point, I was feeling great. This was going to be a pretty easy project. And then came the hands...

4) Add the hands - The directions for this clock were terrible - just this diagram. When I got to the minute hand, I realized that the opening was rectangular instead of round. I tried every which way I could think of to get it on the post. It was just not working. I did some research and thought that the kit was was defective. It seems that a hand with a rectangular opening would go on an "i" post and this was obviously round. Back to the craft store I went! It was another craft store and I was going to buy a different branded kit. I looked at it and was dismayed to see it was just like the other. What???  I asked one of the workers and they were so great and knew exactly what I needed! (Thank you, Hobby Lobby) She pointed out that if you look at the post very closely there are 2 smooth (flat) parts on the edge of the round post. You need to put the hand on so it fits onto the flat parts. That would have been very helpful information to include in the instructions! OK. I think I'm set now. I'll have this finished in about 10 minutes, right?
5) Glue on the numbers. Glue is not my friend. I knew this and yet I had hoped this time I would triumph. I can handle a glue gun, but that's about it. I won't bore you with all the many glues I tried or how much super glue is currently attached to the ends of my fingers. I will tell you the 2 glues that I used on the final projects. One isn't quite dry yet, so if I have to use another glue then I'll come back and update this post. I used some model glue (Testor's) for one of the books. It's the black bottle in the top right. The plus is that it has a tiny little applicator so it is easy to apply a thin layer and it is clear. The negatives are that it is strong stuff. I would advise not getting any on your fingers! Also, when you put the piece down, it moves around a lot and doesn't seem like it will stay. However, in about 45 minutes it was dry and it was not going anywhere! For the other one I used a clear tacky glue (from the package that is showing on the right side of the picture). It worked great and would be my first choice. It was safe to use, dried clear and was easy to re-position. My only fear is that it won't be a solid hold. I'll know in the morning!

6) If you are using a thick book (not a thin picture book like Owl Moon) you may want to cut out pages to nestle the clock mechanism inside the pages of the book. That way the book can be closed and hang on a wall. Trace around the clock mechanism onto the pages. Then use an exact knife to cut out a section of the pages. This is what I did for the Trumpet of the Swan book. I also taped down the dustjacket so it wouldn't slide around.

It's time to win!

1 winner will be randomly selected. The winner will choose which book they want.The winner must be a classroom or homeschool teacher and must live in the contiguous US (because of shipping). You will be contacted if you are the winner and will have 5 days to respond to give mailing instructions or an alternate winner will be chosen. All entries will be verified.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be sure to go to Sebrina's blog next. I saw a sneak peek of the item that she created and it is really cute.
Have a wonderful weekend! :)


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