Saturday, November 3, 2012

Mock Election

With the upcoming election on everyone's mind, I took a moment to speak to the children about the actual election process.  We talked about how to vote, voter's rights, and why every vote counts.  I also made sure to remain as neutral as possible when speaking about the candidates.  I did not want to have some lovely parent emails waiting for me later. :)

The children were really fascinated with the process and to my surprise our conversation about the process lasted well over 30 minutes.

After we talked, I we held a mock election so the children could practice this process.  Our voting topic was Favorite Pet.  If I had more time, I would have created a voter ID card for each child.  I saw a cute idea about that on Pinterest.

We then held a secret ballot on my iPad, using the app TallyPad.  It is a great app to help keep track of class votes, surveys, game scores, etc. I covered the actual numbers so the children couldn't see the count.  They went into the "voting booth" and cast their vote. 

And the winner was.....
However, cat was a very close second.  I took that as an opportunity to discuss how close this election is going to be and reiterate the importance of everyone voting and making sure the votes are counted properly. 

Good luck to both candidates on Tuesday!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

TPT Sale!

I recently added some new products to my TPT store and wanted to celebrate by having a sale.  I am offering 15% off today only! Be sure to check it out!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Teachers Pay Teachers

Well, I finally did it.  I started selling some items on Teachers Pay Teachers.  You can visit it here or on my side bar.  I have a ton of old freebies on there including a Thanksgiving Venn Diagram that you might want to check out!

I am hoping to add some more items very soon, so be sure to follow me on TPT to get my latest uploads. :)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Book Pumpkins

Many of you may have seen this before.  If you haven't heard of it before, the basic gist is that you read a book with the class.  Then you and the class decide how to turn a pumpkin into a character or representation of that book.

We used to do this as a school project at past schools, so I spoke with my librarian this year and she was totally on board with trying it out.  I am not sure how much it will catch on though since it turns out that third grade does this as a book report every year (oops).

This year we decided to do Bunnicula.
"Ah, ah, ah" (in a spooky dracula voice)

The kids were so proud of it and love the fact that the whole school gets to see their hard work.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Fire Safety Week

This week, as many of you know, was fire safety week. 

In our class, we did the usual fire safety talk and I read one of my favorite books for fire safety: 

At the end of the week, I was able to convince my brother who is a NYC EMS/Firefighter to Skype with my class so they can ask him questions.  My kids came up with some great ones and of course I was proud of my little brother as he spoke with each child and answered their questions. 

It's amazing how technology allows things like this

to bring our worlds just a little bit closer together.

Saturday, September 29, 2012


We said goodbye to our Monarch friends last week.  We enjoyed watching them form their chrysalis, emerge and then begin their journey to Mexico.

Before leaving, I was able to feed a few of them.
This one was VERY hungry. :)

While enjoying our monarch caterpillars, our science teacher also found a few of these little guys munching on parsley in our raised beds out back.

Tiger Swallow Tail Caterpillars!

She told us that they will winter in the chrysalis stage and then emerge in the spring.  So cool!  We can't wait to see these beautiful butterflies emerge!
Science Rocks!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Painted Teacher Stool

After seeing so many cute stool makeovers on Pinterest, I just HAD to make that my summer project.  Here is the basic tutorial I used from Hooty's Homeroom.

I took my regular old classroom stool and sprayed it with a base coat of Krylon primer.  I then sprayed over that with Krylon black gloss.
I did 2 coats of black and then let it dry for 24 hours.   I cut out a fabric circle and using my homemade modge podge:

(Recipe:  50/50 elmer's glue/water  Be careful not to make it too runny)
Thank you Pinterest yet again...

I slathered on a coat on top of the stool.

I then placed the fabric over the top and did two coats of modge podge on top.

(Don't worry.  It dries clear.)

I let that dry for 24 hours and then sprayed the whole thing with a a gloss coat.
Ta da!

I love my new stool!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Monarch Eggs Hatching

My daughter was struck with strep today so while she is resting I can finally pay attention to my badly neglected blog.

This past week we finished up our Back to School Night, this included introducing our new grading system, new online math textbooks, new progress report, and breaking the bombshell that our county has a new abilities test that it is using to help identify AAP students.  Needless to say there were a lot of questions from some pretty overwhelmed parents.  It made for a very long week, so although my poor girl is sick, I was not too upset when I had to take the day off.

On a lighter note, we had three monarch butterflies emerge in our classroom yesterday.  It was very exciting.  We actually do a very large Monarch unit in the spring, but it is always fun to start the year out with these little guys too.  This year my students were able to see some video I captured of a few Monarch eggs actually hatching.   Here is a short video I put together for it.

I am always amazed at how small they are!
Hope you have a wonderful fall weekend!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9/11: We're Still Standing

I forget each year just how much time the beginning of school takes up.  My little blog defintely was put on the back burner these past 2 weeks!

However, on a day like today, I just have to take a moment to remember the terrible series of events 11 years ago.  My post last year said much of what I personally felt/experienced on that day.  You can read about it HERE

This year, I just wanted to share a poem I saw that was written by a student named Hannah Schoechert.  She was in 7th grade at the time.  I thought her poem beautifully captured the emotions of that day.

We're Still Standing

Those twin towers
Standing tall with pride,
Fell with grieving hearts.
Stunned, America cried.

But we’re still standing.

Bin Laden tried
To crush our land,
But we stood our ground
With our flag in hand.

And we’re still standing.

Red for valor
And the blood that fell.
White for purity
Our heroes tell.
Blue for the justice
That will be done,
Proving once more
These colors don’t run.

And we’re still standing.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Writing and Reading Checklists

I have created two checklilsts that your students can use in their writing and reading response journals to help monitor their own assignments before bringing them to you.  I don't know about you, but I often find that they say they have done something but actually haven't.  This will help them be more accountable for their entries.

I am going to have a basket with copies available of each.  I will probably have my Lit. Circle groups glue it in their book before leaving to go read.

Click on each picture below to save a copy.

Not sure why the pictures are so light, but the regular copies are fine.  Hope you can make use of them. :)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Therapeutic Thursday

I wasn't able to join in on Wednesday's "Where I Teach" since we haven't gone back yet and my classroom looks like a construction site.  However, I am more than happy to join in on Therapeutic Thursday. 
Today I am sharing a Pinterest inspired item that I created for my students this year.  It is a Meditation Bottle.
It was SUPER easy to make.

Here's what you need:
1 empty bottle/jar (I chose a water bottle for safety reasons)
3 TBS glitter glue (add more or less depending on the size of your jar)
Warm Water

I poured the glue in and then filled the rest of the bottle up with warm water.  (The warm water helps dissolve the glue a little better.)  Close the cap and shake.  Note: I crazy glued mine closed

A very cool meditation bottle!  Thanks Pinterest!!!

This is perfect for those students that need to take a "brain break" or need a "time out" for themselves.  It takes about 3-5 minutes for the glitter to float to the bottom.  When it is done, they can come back to whatever they were doing again. 

I just wish I had this for a little guy I had last year.  This would have been perfect for him!  In fact, I actually made one for him to possibly use this year if he wanted.

I also ended up making one for each of my own children at home.  For my daughter, it will be more for "meditation."  My son?  His will definitely be for Time Outs.  The terrible twos are hitting us hard over here.  Hopefully this may help distract him a bit. :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Technology Tip Tuesday

I'm linking up with Blog Hoppin' to participate in their Teacher Week.

Today is Technology Tip Tuesday.  I don't know if you have had a chance to check out some of my buttons above, but I have links to some great teacher and student websites as well as some iPad apps that I use in my classroom.  Be sure to check them out!

Here are a few other websites that I will be using with my students again this year.
I was able to set up a classroom twitter account last year for my students to use as a way to update their parents about their day.  I made my account private and only accepted my classroom parents as followers, if they wished.  I ended up having 19 followers, which I thought was pretty good for participation!

After that was set up, I started the year with teacher led tweets.  You can read about that HERE.
Once the children felt comfortable using Twitter and understood what my expectations were, I allowed groups of 5 tweet about our activities each day. I made sure to make heterogeneous groups of students that way my higher kids could help my struggling ones.  I posted a calendar at the back of the room that let the children know when their day was. 

They really enjoyed this and loved when it was their "Twitter Day."  I think many of the parents enjoyed this as well.  I also loved the fact that I could tweet out pictures of the children as we went about our day.

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 or screen.  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.  I chose to use it for positive behavior.

Another nice feature is for Ipad users.  You can use your Ipad to award points remotely while you walk around your room. 

The only downside for me last year was that we don't have mounted projectors.  This made it hard to have Class Dojo displayed throughout the day.  However, we are FINALLY getting mounted projectors this year so I may try using this a little more often throughout the day.

Finally, I wanted to share a past link I posted about using Mimios in the classroom.  It is a cheaper and more portable alternative to Smartboards and Promethean Boards.

Mimio(Interactive Board)

Hope some of these sites and resources help you out!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Manic Monday

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday
Time to share another Freebie for you all!
At the beginning of the year, I sit down with the children and teach them how to "Shop for Books," using these great book bags that they keep on the back of their chairs. 

 (I got them from the Steps to Literacy site.) 

They choose 5 books to keep in these bags at all times. They can then use them during Independent Reading, Free Time, or any other time that they would like.
One of the things I discuss with the children is how to pick books that are "just right" for them.  (You know how they desperately want to read books that are not on their level.)  We talk about how reading "Just Right" allows them to work on their fluency and understanding and it may not help reading something that is too difficult because they are too busy trying to figure out the words.  However, that doesn't mean they can't use the other books as well.  I call these the "For Fun" books.  They can choose to use these to work on reading harder words, read with partners, or just enjoy the pictures.

After our talk, I display this poster near my classroom library to help remind them about "Just Right" books, as they go shopping. 

Click on the image to download a copy for yourself.

Hope it may help you in your classroom too. :)

P.S.  I promise I will have a fresh *new* freebie for you all next week.  I was kind of side tracked this weekend with some fun flooding in our basement! 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Meal Prep for Back to School

I still have a little over 1 week left before we have to go back to school.  I have been wanting to get freezer meals organized so we aren't tempted to order out on those very long first days back. 

I hit up Pinterest and found a bunch of recipes and ideas to use.   Here is what I pulled together and created today.  It took 4 hours, but I now have 18 meals prepped and ready to go!  I figured I would share them with you all in case you are tempted to try some yourself. :)

Shopping List
(Some items I already had on hand, but I wanted to list everything that was needed.)

Fresh Produce:

(2) heads of garlic

(3) Green Peppers

(1) small can mushrooms (I used fresh cut up half and saved the other half for a future meal.)

(1) Red Onion

(2) Bags of Onions (you need about 12 onions)

(1) Large Bag Potatoes (I bought Red from Costco) (You will need about 14-16)

(2) Large Bags of Whole Carrots (Baby Carrots would work also if you don't feel like chopping- 2 bags of baby carrots would work)

(1) Bunch of Celery


(1) costco bag of Chicken Breast (I bought the tenderloins)

(3-4) lbs of Beef Stew Meat (I got my pkg from Costco)

(3) lb Chuck Roast (Costco again)

(6) lbs of Ground Beef (1 or 2 costco ground beef packs did the trick)

Other Groceries:

(1) 20oz cans of Chunked Pineapple

(3) 15 Oz Cans Tomato Sauce

(1) box wild rice w/seasoning packet

(1) bag shredded cheddar cheese

(1) 8 oz cream cheese (not fat free)

(3) can cream chicken soup

(1) can cream of mushroom soup

(1) 30 oz bag of frozen hash browns (I used 2 smaller bags)

(1) can tomato soup

(3) 6oz Cans Tomato Paste

(1) 28oz Can Diced Tomatoes

(1) large bottle of v8 juice

(1) small box Tapioca

(2) Boxes Beef Broth (I buy low sodium)

(1) 32 oz chicken broth

(1) bottle Teriyaki Sauce

(1) bottle Worcestershire Sauce

(1) Box Stove Top Stuffing

Red Wine

Balsamic Vinegar
Steak Rub (I had grill mates in my cabinet)

(1) Bag Frozen Cut Green Beans (you will need 2 cups)

(1) Cannister of Bay Leaves

(3) Boxes of Gallon Freezer Bags

Once I had everything organized, I started the chopping.  As I chopped up certain vegetables I added them to bags so I could begin to assemble recipes.  Here are the recipes I worked from.  Some were from Pinterest and some were old recipes of my own.


Teriyaki Chicken (2 Bags)

 About 6 carrots between the 2 bags

 Cut Red Onion into Large Chunks and split between the 2 bags

 (1) 20oz can pineapple in each bag (undrained)

 (3) Garlic Cloves chopped per bag

 (6-8) Chicken tenderloins in each bag

 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce in each bag

 *Add 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce to mixture. Cook on HIGH for 4 hours or LOW for 8 hours. Serve over Rice.

Beef Soup (2 Bags)

 Chop (1) Onion and Chop (3) Cloves of Garlic and Brown with 2 lbs. Ground Beef- once cool divide mixture between bags

 (3) whole carrots chopped per bag

 (2) celery stalks chopped per bag

 (4) Red Potatoes chopped per bag

 (1) cup v8 split in each bag

 (1) 28oz can diced tomatoes SPLIT between bags

 (1) cup frozen green beans in each bag

 (1/2)TBSP Worcestershire per bag

 (1/2) cup Beef Broth per bag

 (1) TBSP Parsley per bag

 (1) tsp Basil per bag

 (1/2) tsp Thyme per bag

 (1/2) tsp salt per bag

 (1/2) tsp pepper per bag

 (1) TBSP Sugar per bag

*Place in Crockpot with 1.5 cups of water and 15 oz Beef Broth. Cook on LOW 8 Hours.

BBQ Chicken (2 Bags)
 (2) Green Peppers Cut into Slices split between 2 bags

 (3) Onions Chopped and split between bags

 (8) Red Potatoes Chopped and split between bags (you can also use Sweet Potatoes)

 (5) Garlic Cloves Chopped, Split Between bags

 (6-8) Chicken Tenderloins Split between bags

 (1/2) TBSP Quick Cooking Tapioca per bag

 (1) 15 oz can of Tomato Sauce Split Between bags

 (1) TBSP of Brown Sugar per bag

 (1) TBSP Worcestershire per bag

 (1) TBSP Mustard per Bag

(Note:  In place of the above four ingredients,  you can also use about 1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce.)

 (1/4) tsp Salt per bag

* Cook on HIGH for 4 hours or LOW for 8 hours. Serve over Rice or Egg Noodles.

Beef Stew (2 Bags)

 (1) Green Pepper Chopped split between bags

 (1) Chopped Onion per bag

 (3) Carrots Chopped per bag

 (3) Chopped Garlic Cloves per bag

 (3) Ibs Beef Stew Meat Split Between Bags

(1) 6oz can Tomato Paste per bag

(3) Bay Leaves per bag

(1) cup Red Wine per bag

 (2) tsp Paprika per bag

 (1/4) tsp Black Pepper per bag

*Cook for 4 hours on HIGH or 8 hours on LOW in a slow cooker. Add (1/2) Cup of Sour Cream about 10 minutes prior to serving. Serve over Egg Noodles.

Pot Roast (2 bags)
(2) boneless chuck roast

(1-2) TBS steak rub
(2) carrots per bag

(2) celery stalks per bag

(2) large onions, peeled and thickly sliced (per bag)

(1) cup beef stock

(1/2) cup balsamic vinegar

(1/2) cup V8 juice

salt/black pepper to taste
Rub meat well with steak seasoning and black pepper. Place on top of all of the vegetables in the bag. 

*Cook on low 6-8 hours.

Goulash (2 bags)

(2) lbs ground beef

(1) can tomato soup per bag

(6) oz can tomato paste per bag

(2) cups uncooked elbow macaroni per bag

(2) Tbsp Italian seasoning (more to taste)

(1) can (15oz) corn, drained split per bag

(1) tsp garlic powder each

(1) tsp onion powder each

(1-2) cups shredded cheese (depending on your “cheesiness” preference) (placed in a seperate bag to be added to the top of the casserole when it is cooking time.)

1. Brown Ground beef with onion powder and garlic powder. Drain.

2. Cook noodles according to package, drain.
3. Combine soup, tomato paste, Italian seasoning, noodles and ground beef and corn in bag.

* When it is time to cook, thaw and transfer to an ungreased 8X8 baking dish and top with cheese.
5. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes until heated through and melted cheese.

Potato Soup (2 bags)

(30) oz bag of frozen, shredded hash browns (I bought the smaller bags because there was a 2 for 1.)

(32) oz container of chicken broth, split

(1) can cream of chicken soup per bag

(1/2) cup onion, chopped per bag

(1/2) tsp pepper per bag

(1/4) tsp garlic powder per bag

(8) oz cream cheese (not fat free, it won't melt in)

In a large freezer bag, combine everything except cream cheese. Double up on your freezer bag and squeeze out any air to avoid freezer burn. Label it and put a date on it.

* Thaw soup and place mixture in crock pot. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours. About 1 hour before serving, add in the cream cheese and heat until thoroughly melted.

Chicken and Wild Rice (1 bag)

(1) box wild rice with seasoning packet (4.3 oz)

(1) can cream of mushroom soup

(1) can cream of chicken soup

(1) can water

(1) small can mushrooms, drained (I used fresh mushrooms)

(6-8) chicken tenderloins

Mix together rice with seasoning packet, both cans of soup, and water. Stir in mushrooms.

*Thaw and place in 8X8 dish. Bake uncovered at 350 for 1 hour until chicken juices run clear and rice is tender.

Stove Top Meatloaf (2 bags)

(2) lbs. ground beef

(1) box Stove Top Stuffing Mix

(4) TBS Ketchup

(I also snuck in some of the leftover V8 Juice.  Shhhh)


In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients together.  Split the meat in half and add to each bag.  Form them into a loaf shape while in the bag.

* Thaw and bag at 350 for about 30-40 minutes.

There you have it, my labor of love.  Good luck to everyone already starting school!