Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Advent

A few years back, I started a Christmas tradition with my daughter.  Instead of popping open little boxes and finding chocolates on an advent, I figured Gabbie might have fun helping decorate two small trees while she counted down the days in December. 

I found this cute advent on clearance at Target.

Inside each door, I placed a little ornament.

Each morning, Gabbie gets to take it and add it to her trees.

By Christmas, we have two cute trees that look like this:

This was one of last year's tree.
We are going to work on s-p-r-e-a-d-i-n-g out the decor this year.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunshine Award!

So, I woke up today to an early Christmas present...a sinus infection.  Despite my misery, I was able to squeeze in some last minute fun at my brother's fire house on LI and took my kids to the beach where I worked every summer during college.

I was so excited to share my pictures that I got right on my family blog to post pictures, or at least I thought I did.  Turns out in my sinus stupor, I actually blogged about it on here instead of on my family site: Simply The Family. 

It wasn't until we were on our way home that I realized the mistake, but I decided to just leave it.  So I hope you enjoy a random taste of my "non teacher" life. :)

We finally arrived home at 11pm.  Yup, after my 6 hour drive(although hubby actually drove), here I am on my blog instead of resting and getting rid of this infection.
Guess what I found when I checked my email?   This:
I received my first ever blog award!

Thank you SO much Meghan for giving me such a nice surprise after a VERY long day.  Be sure to head on over to her website Inside the Classroom.

The Sunshine Award rules are
1. Thank the person who gave this award and write a post about it.
2. Answer the following questions below.
3. And pass the award to 10~12 fabulous bloggers, link their blogs and let them know you awarded them.

* Favorite Color? blue
* Favorite Animal?  otters
* Favorite Number? 36
* Favorite Drink? Our Homebrew (Currently: Pumpkin Ale)
* Facebook or Twitter? Facebook
* Your Passion? Drawing and Painting
* Giving or Getting Presents? I love giving presents so much more.  I can never come up with ideas for myself.
* Favorite day? Christmas
* Favorite flowers? Calla Lilies

And finally here are 10 blogs I passed this award on to:

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Kiernan and Fire Trucks

We headed over to Uncle Ryan's fire house this morning.   It has become a routine trip for Gabbie, but this was Kiernan's first time seeing the trucks.

THEN...a call came in.

We found a safe spot so we could watch everyone get ready to head out.

It was definitely an exciting day at the fire house!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Venn Diagram

We had some spare time today, so my husband's class came down to work with my second graders.  One of the activities we had the children do was interview one another about their Thanksgiving plans.

Click on the picture if you would like a copy.

The kids did a great job.  I loved seeing the older children mentoring my class.  They really enjoyed getting to know each other.

Monday, November 21, 2011


What a Teacher Wants! AND Oh Boy 4th Grade both set up linky parties sharing what they are thankful for.  Great minds think alike!

1.  What are you thankful for in your classroom?
I am most thankful for the technology I get to play with in my classroom.  I am thankful for two things in particular.
First, I am thankful for my soundfield device.  You can read a little bit more about this fantastic device HERE.
Another thing that I am thankful for is my Mimio, which makes interactive lessons a breeze.  You can read a bit more about this HERE.
2.  What person are you most thankful for?
So many family members are right up there, but I am most thankful for my husband. 

I am thankful for the fact that despite working 2 jobs, he is still able to come home with a smile on his face and plenty of love for his family.  I am thankful that he doesn't mind doing his own laundry and is better at cleaning the house than I am AND takes the initiative to do it.  I am thankful that I found someone who is my perfect partner in crime.

3.  What 3 blogs are you most thankful for?
Tough question since as you see from the side of my blog, I follow a TON!
I am most thankful for:
     1. Laura Candler's Teaching Resources  Her freebies and ideas are amazing!
     2.  Another great blog that I am visiting daily is:

Classroom freebies

     3.  And finally, one that I just get a kick out of is:

A Teeny Tiny Teacher

4.  What guilty pleasure are you most thankful for?

This little symbol is responsible for a major internet addiction of mine.  I can't say enough about Pinterest.  I have found so many ideas for my kids, crafting, the home, and school.  Since I am so visual, it is the best way for me to keep track of those ideas.  My husband just laughs at me when he looks over and finds me engrossed in my "pinning."

5.  What are you most thankful for?
I know this sounds cheesy, but I am so thankful for my family.  I have a great husband, two wonderful children, and we are all healthy and happy.  Couldn't ask for better than that!

Make sure to head on over to What a Teacher Wants! and Oh Boy 4th Grade and be sure to share what you are thankful for!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fancy Feathers

Fancy Feathers is a fun family project I do each year.  Every child receives a construction paper feather and a family letter.  In the letter I stipulate that there are only two rules, you must have a photo of your family on the feather and you MUST be creative.  That's it.  Click HERE for the family letter.
Click HERE for the feather template. (It's a little dark, but you can always retrace it.

The feathers started filtering in the week before Thanksgiving.  We then put them around our turkey in the hallway.  The turkey is always ready just in time for our parents to see it at our Thanksgiving Feast. (Post about that coming.)
(I wish you could see how cute the feathers turned out before I sadly had to defile it.  But alas, I want to protect my families' anonymity.)

It's a simple project but seeing the love on these feathers is the perfect way to show how thankful we are without saying a word.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Rainbow Garden

At the beginning of the year, my room parents collaborated with our science teacher on a project called Outdoor Classroom Rainbow Garden.  The idea of the project was to help the children plant different seeds in our outdoor classroom garden to teach them about "rainbow foods" that are good for you.
The parents came in one morning to present the lesson and then took them outside to start planting.  The class planted beet root, red cabbage, carrots, turnips, and spinach.

  This past week was harvest time. The parents came back in to review the lesson and go out to "harvest" the food.  Yes the plants were too small to eat but the children still got the concept loud and clear.  All of the children even received a carrot plant to take home.

Since those plants were too small to sample, the parents went out and bought them and prepared a rainbow plate so the children could try each item. 

I was very impressed with the project as a whole.  I am all for getting the children out of the classroom and learning.  This was a great hands on way to teach the children about growing their own food and why it is important to eat the rainbow!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Two Great Sites

For once an ad on the side of Facebook actually turned out to be something I was interested in!  I just stumbled across this site today and it looks fantastic. 

It is called Study Ladder.   This site has wonderful interactive games and activities for every subject.  A nice feature is that you can add your class and then they can access these activities as well.  I am so happy I found another great resource for interactive activities!

Another site I have been meaning to blog about is Class DOJO. (Cue gong sound)  It is a unique, real time way to run your classroom management.  

The students' names and avatars are displayed through your interactive board.  As the day goes on, you award points for good behavior or, if you choose to, take points away as well.  You get to customize the wording and can choose if you want only positive and/or negative behaviors displayed.  You can also print progress reports for your students.
Another nice feature is for Ipad users.  You can use your Ipad to award points remotely while you walk around your room.  Now, I don't have an Ipad, but what an easy way to keep the management going!

I have set up the names but haven't had a chance to try it out with the class.  There are a few logistical concerns for me. 
1.  Since we don't have a projector and computer permanently set up in our classrooms.  I would have to set this up and devote a class computer to this.
2.  Having the projector on for every lesson may be distracting since my projector is in the way at times.  Now, if only I had a projector permanently mounted from the ceiling then there would be no issues.  Ah, maybe someday.

Despite my concerns, I am still going to try this out.  Once I do, I will let you know how it is going.   In the meantime, I definitely encourage you to go visit Study Ladder and Class DOJO and get set up.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Genres Poster

One of the areas I want to focus on with my students this year is identifying different genres.  My library is already broken down by levels, so this year I decided to add the genre labels to each book. 
The following is a decoder I created to help the children identify the genres.
Click on the picture for a copy.

I then added it to my genre area in the library.  

To get my Shopping for Books Poster click HERE.
To get the Reading Buddy Strategies click HERE.

And here is our classroom library from afar. 

Now it is confession Time: 
Realizing that our library looked chaotic gently used, I went ahead and tidied up before snapping this pic.  Cue my class coming back from specials and this picture is now a figment of my imagination. *sigh*

At least it looked pretty for a little while. :)

I Won!!!

A great blog I follow:

had a giveaway to celebrate hitting 200 followers.  Yay!  She wanted to share the love with us so she was giving away 3 Target gift cards.
Well, guess who one of the winners were?   ME!  
I still can't believe it.  I never win things like that, especially a gift card to Target, which is like gold! 
Be sure to check out her site, she has some great freebies on there.  She is also a guest blogger at The Lesson Cloud, which is another great site.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

You Did What?

There are MANY incidents that have happened in my classroom through the years. But I have to say that one incident I have never had to deal with was boys kissing girls or girls kissing boys.
Now, I know it pops up in the younger grades from time to time, but you can imagine my surprise when the following conversation transpired as we drove our 4 year old home from preschool.

Gabbie: Mommy, when can you kiss boys?

Me (A little thrown off by the question): When you are married.

(Now, this is not the advice I heeded as a young adult, but she is 4 and that's when she is allowed to kiss someone.)

Gabbie: Oh (pause) The boys were trying to get me to kiss them on the playground.

Jeff and I glance at one another with a look like "Is this conversation seriously happening?"

Me: Well, you are not allowed to kiss boys at school. You can give them a hug, but no kisses.

Jeff (in a protective Dad tone): You tell those boys that your Daddy said you are not allowed to kiss them.

Gabbie: I didn't kiss them on the lips. I only pretended. I got close to their lips though.

At this point we are trying very hard not to laugh, but since Gabbie is very serious about this conversation, we hold ourselves back.

Gabbie: And then Molly hit me.
Me: Why did she do that?

Gabbie: She didn't want me to kiss the boys.

Jeff (under his breath): Smart girl.

Supressing giggles...

Me: Just make sure that if the boys do that again tomorrow that you tell the teacher. OK?

Gabbie: Ok Mommy. Maybe we can play "Transformers" with hugs instead of kisses.

Never knew that Transformers liked to kiss each other but OK. We moved on to a new subject since luckily our 4 year old's thoughts wander much like her two parents that have A.D.D. tendencies...~SQUIRREL!~

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Conferences and Laryngitis

What is the best thing to have happen to you when you have 2 days of parent/teacher conferences? 
Why, get laryngitis of course!
What are you supposed to do for laryngitis?  Rest your voice.
What is the number one thing we do as teachers? The opposite of resting your voice.

Luckily, I didn't lose my voice until this morning and the bulk of my conferences were yesterday.  I definitely could tell I was losing it, but by this morning, there was nothing left. I basically whispered my way through the last few conferences today. 

Now, let's hope that my little cherubs take pity on me tomorrow and are quiet all day long.
My one saving grace?
This magical device:

This is a soundfield device.  I have had this in my classroom for two years.  You wear the little microphone around your neck and your voice is amplified through the speaker.   It is great for helping children focus or for helping those that sometimes cannot concentrate over minor classroom noise.   It also comes with an additional microphone so students can use it when doing presentations or reading out loud. 

You can imagine why I am grateful that I have this for tomorrow!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Fantastic November Ideas

I follow Laura Candler's Teaching Resources through Facebook.  She is constantly posting great ideas.

The most recent is an activity you can use for 11/11/11.
I love the idea and will be using it on Friday. 
Click on the image to get a copy of the full activity.

Click HERE to see some other great ideas that she has shared for November.


 Oh Boy Fourth Grade is hosting another "Currently" linky party.  I love doing these, so you know I had to join in.
I have been pinning some fantastic ideas in my "Teachable Moments" so make sure to go to my link on the right to get some ideas and maybe a little Pinsperation!

I also hope you head on over to join Oh Boy Fourth Grade's linky party.

New Set of Centers

We just finished our first set of centers.  The children really enjoyed them.
Here are the new centers for this month:

1.  Writing a Friendly Letter
I got this great template HERE.

2.  Read to Someone(centers partner) and fill out a story map.
This was from a book Teaching with Kevin Kenkes Favorite Books.

3.  Beach Ball Comprehension

I found this template at Lesson Plan Diva.

4.  Raz Kids (Computer Center)

Word Study:
A.  Magnetic Spelling

B.  Scrambled Eggs (spelling words/word wall words scrambled in plastic eggs)

C.  Spell City(Computer)

D.  Sticker Story  (Use stickers to create a picture and then write about your creation.)
         Note:  I know this is more of a literacy center, but I just had to throw it in. :)

I got this template a long time ago, so I don't have one to share.