Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Snowpants, Boots and Untied Shoes...OH MY! *FREEBIE*

Oh Sweet's that time of year!  We had our first "big" snow today. Granted, it wasn't much {not like my dear friends on the west side of The Mitten} but it was enough to need the whole sha-bang of winter gear.  Oh how I dread "snowpant season". 

My southern friends don't quite get this.  You see, with winter comes crazy winter gear - first grade teachers have to tack on AT LEAST 10 minutes to their morning routine and 10 minutes to their dismissal routine.  Lord have mercy on our souls. 

I've already sent three crying kids down to the lost and found for missing mittens, lent out one coat {yes, one of my little ones forgot his coat and wore a sweater to school today in our 30 degree weather}, sent another one down to the office for socks {"I forgot to wear them"}, reminded one little guy that his coat "Goes on the OUTSIDE of your snowpants not the INSIDE sweety...that's why it's so bulky" and tried to figure out whose BLACK SNOWPANTS are whose {Label, say what?} just seconds before the bell rang to go home.  AND IT WAS ONLY THE FIRST DAY OF THIS CRAZY MAKING!!!!!!!!!

So, I'm cracking my knuckles getting my fingers primed to type up my "Winter Readiness 101" for parents.  {You know number one will be PLEASE LABEL EVERYTHING with TEACH YOUR CHILDREN HOW TO PUT ON THEIR OWN WINTER GEAR  as number two}. 

Can you tell I'm worked up about this!?!?

So, while I've got a ways to go in teaching my kids how to keep track of their "stuff", put their "stuff" on, and bring said "stuff" to school - I do have my shoe tying woes taken care of....

Hubby teaches middle school.  I often say "Better you than me to deal with those hormones" and he says "Better you than me to blow noses and tie shoes". Yeah, I don't do either one of those things, thank you very much.  Because we're BIG kids {who forget to wear socks to school}...

At the beginning of the year I ask my kids who are my experts at tying shoes.  Those little slices of heaven use my handy dandy vis-a-vis marker to write their names on my shoe tying list.  This works well for a couple of reasons.  1. When somebody needs their shoes tied, they look at the list, and find a go-to person 2. It really motivates those who don't know how to learn how because they are DYING to get their name on the list.

Here it is in case you're knee deep in untied shoes...

Clipart: Scrappin Doodles
Just laminate and hang up in your classroom.  I attach a vis-a-vis marker right to it so kids can continue to add their names once they've mastered this skill.  I haven't tied a shoe in YEARS!!!!

If only my winter woes were solved so easily...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

* Daily 5 * Work With Words * FREEBIE *

Hey Sweet Peas,

Hope you are all feeling bright eyed and bushy tailed after your time off! {Or maybe you're too pooped to pop, like me!} Man, it's really hard to get to gettin' when you have to roll out of bed at 5:30.  I was so enjoying life on the couch, with my chai tea watching Kelly {Her sit-ins just aren't the same, are they?!}.  Thank goodness Ellen was her same funny self.  Isn't she good for the soul? There aren't many shows that can send me into a fit of giggles...but she sure can!

Back to business...

I am really loving Daily 5 and Daily Cafe.  We really have our groove and I'm not bragging or anything but it is going SOOOOO well.  Do you want to know my favorite part?  The sharing I'm finally able to fit in at the end.  I love to have my kids share out and discuss what they accomplished during that time.  I could never fit this in before - but now, my day just flows.  I don't really know why it's different this year from others - but it works {...and I thought I was going to HATE that 10:45 brunch - you can't call it lunch when it's at that hour!}.

Here's a new Work With Words activity I plan on introducing next week.  Thought maybe you could use it too! Click {HERE} to download.

{No worries I have some "winter fun" to share with you soon!}

Holly {Pretend like that's a cute little siggy...because that's another bit of technology I cannot master - no matter how hard I try}

Saturday, November 26, 2011

And the Winner Is......

I am so excited to announce the winner of my first giveaway!!!!  I woke up bright and early this morning to figure out how to do the Random Number Generator {Thanks Kristin for the help!} and here it is - she's a beauty, 'aint she?!?

Let me know your gift card of choice and your email address, Julia!!!!  Congrats! {I'll hop on your blog and let you know you've won!}

Thanks again, everyone, for playing ~ this was a lot of fun!!!!!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Last Chance to Enter *Giveaway* and Another Freebie!!!!

Happy Black Friday!!!

I wonder how many of you girls were crazy and went out braving the stores on this crazy shopping day?!  You might call me nuts, but I do not like shopping on a Wednesday or a Thursday or a Monday at 2:00 in the afternoon, when everybody else is, I actually HATE shopping.  Honestly, the crowds of Black Friday shopping would send me over the edge.  Hubby did go out for an hour after his 4:30 wake up call for physical therapy - he scored a nativity set for the lawn, a shop vac, and some electric screw driver dealie all at Lowe's.  He was on Amazon off and on today for their Lightning Deals and got us a new phone system and a t.v. for our bedroom.  I know the deals are hard to pass up - but I really like it better when my eye doesn't twitch.

Can I just tell you that I have checked my phone or the computer umpteen million times to see who has entered the giveaway?!?  I did play some ping pong in between...but I really need to get a life outside of this giveaway...but it's all so darn exciting!!!!!!!!!

I did make this winter word wall memory game that you might like...

The pictures are just for the "cuteness factor" ~ you only match the words!
If you haven't entered the giveaway you can click {HERE}.  9:00 pm {Eastern Standard Time} is fast approaching and the winner will be announced tomorrow...

I'm the ping pong champion {when playing against my 6 year old}...time for another match...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Don't Miss my Giveaway and a Freebie!!

Holy Toledo!

I'm mighty happy at the response - come one, come all - come and enter my giveaway.  Couldn't have come at a better time, right?  I'm sure you have some last minute shopping you have to do.  Last minute?  Yeah, you're all done with your shopping like I am - right?  Just have to pick up a few more things, right?  HA!

Since I'm so thankful for all of you I thought I'd toss a freebie your way.  It's so nice to have a first grader of my own.  He brings cute stuff home, I email his teacher asking for a copy.  Or, I recreate it myself.  The other day I asked him about Daily 5 {which his teacher ROCKS out} and how they do Listen to Reading.  My headhphones have seen better days {the foam keeps coming off, a couple of pair are bent beyond recognition} and he said one simple yet sweet little word "earbuds".  HELLO!!!!!  Get outta mean there are people out there who have been holding onto this secret called earbuds without sharing it?!?!?!  So I quickly hopped on email and asked my parents to send in a pair of earbuds for their little ones to keep in their personal bookshelves to be used with our netbooks...I just love when people are smarter than me {and I eventually hop on board}.  So, thanks Mrs. Pace for the earbuds AND for this cute little Thanksgiving book that I'll be using next year and I hope you all might be able to as well!

Clipart: Scrappin Doodles

Don't forget to enter the gift card giveaway and tell all of your friends about it too!!!!
Click {HERE} to enter!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

First Giveaway EVER!

Hey You Guys!!!!!!!!!

I have been thinking about what my first giveaway will be for a while now.  I've been creeping up on 100 followers for a couple of weeks {That was going to be the magic number}.  I've googled "blog giveaways" for something unique.  I've thought about it before I fall asleep at night. {Sad, huh?} I've asked my teacher-husband for ideas {he rolled his eyes}...

I hit 100 a few days ago...but justifed dragging my feet by telling myself that really it's only 99, since I follow myself. HA!  Then I hit 101 and I thought...I have family who follow me, they shouldn't count either because they have to follow me.  You see where this is going...

So, here it is...

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::drumroll please::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

You girls have been such a help to me - in more ways than you know.  You've provided inspiration for me when I felt like my passion was being yanked right out from under me.  You make me laugh, you make me go out and buy yet another ink classroom has never been cuter {I mean really - no more HUGE anchor charts...I now know how to create some super streamlined darling posters!!!! - and have nabbed more than a few from you!!!}.

So, what's this giveaway going to be?  You name it.  With the holidays fast approaching -  I figured if you're like me once you get the spending bug {from gift giving of course} you start to spend more on yourself {"Oh, I know my sister will love that purse because I love it"...purchase said purse for sister.  Go out two days later and purchase said purse for yourself - c'mon, you know you do it too!}.

Are you wondering when I'm actually going to get to the giveaway?  Me too., think of any place on the www that you might like a TWENTY DOLLAR GIFT CARD to...anywhere.  You name it.  If you win, you'll provide me with the URL and I'll send you an e-card {make sure wherever you choose has this option}.  How cool is that?!?!? 

So how might one enter?

1.  Become a follower {oh please} and tell me you are following. Or comment that you are already a follower {thank you!!!!}

2.  Blog about this giveaway on YOUR blog {and let me know so I can run on over to your blog and see my blog mentioned on your blog...}

3. Add my blog to your blog roll {wouldn't it be nice if you could add my button to your blog? umm, yeah - I'm still workin' on that}

So, there ya have it!  I hope more than three people enter.  That's another reason I've dragged my feet.  What if a whole whoppin' five people enter, one being me {I can enter, right?  It's about high time I win a giveaway!!!!}, my sister, my friend Barb {she does exist} and two other people who just feel sorry for me?!? Okay, that won't happen, right?  Because you're all going to enter and tell all of your friends to enter too, right? right? right? Let me hear an "Oh Yeah!"

You have until 9:00 pm {Eastern Standard Time} Black Friday to enter.  I will announce the winner on Saturday, November 26th.

Go to it!!!!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

I'm so very, very thankful!!!!

I Got You Babe...{Think: Billy Murray, Groundhog Day} that's sort of where I was at before reading everything you all are so very, very thankful for.  Life has its way of putting you in a rut...especially if you let it.  I definitely let it.  I've been a complaining fool...anybody who will listen and commiserate...I've been blathering to. 

Stop the madness.

I needed a serious attitude adjustment.  Yes, things are a little crazy around here with hubby's herniated disc.  Yes, Michigan is tossing one curve ball after another at us teachers....BUT, there is still so much to be thankful for!  That's why I'm linking up with Rachelle and Natalie over at What the Teacher Wants who are having a little "I"m Thankful For..." linky party!

1. What are you thankful for in your classroom? 

 I'm thankful that I have a crew that makes me smile daily.  Seriously, I have the best group of kiddos ever.  Sure, I have a couple that give me a run for my money, but even they make me smile because they have such a soft side too.  I'm thankful for my new netbooks that I use during listen to reading and I'm really happy with all the changes that have emerged since joining the blogging community.  I'm also thankful for my high school helper.  Rachel was a first grade student of mine and is now a senior in high school.  Way back in first grade she told me she was going to be a first grade teacher and here she is - her senior year before heading off to Michigan State...GO SPARTANS....and she's helping out in my classroom...and what a help she is!!!

2. What person are you most thankful for?

Wow, that's really hard to pinpoint one.  I'm thankful for my hubby who is the first person I call on my way home from school. I can't wait to hear about his day {he's a teacher too} and tell him all about mine.  I'm thankful for my fantastic-ly caring big sister and my sweet, kind, empathetic, strong, silly, AWESOME friends! {I was supposed to pick one, eh?}

3. What 3 blogs are you most thankful for?

Three, huh?  Well I didn't follow the "rules" for number why start now?
I'm thankful for Kristin over at A Teeny Tiny Teacher - just because.  I think she and I would be fast friends in real life.  Of course she makes me smile and she keeps it real.
I'm also thankful for Cheryl over at Crayons & Curls.  She's been so helpful to me as I figure out the whole blog scene and she leaves me sweet comments {Cuz, Lord knows comments make my day!}
Who else am I thankful for? Jennifer at Herding Kats in Kindergarten is so thoughtful...she has also helped me out a ton, given me two blog awards {Which made me one happy girl!} and her blog is full of ideas that I use with my kiddos.
Okay - just one more - Jennifer at Rowdy in First Grade has the cutest stuff, leaves the sweetest comments and just makes me smile! 
And Hadar, and Rebecca, and...and...{Am I  a major cheater, or what?}

4. What guilty pleasure are you most thankful for?

Edward and Chai Tea
{I have a date with Edward and three of my best girl friends in t-minus 10 minutes...I'm giddy!}

5. What are you most thankful for?

My health and my happiness!!!!

Happy Thanksgiving Sweet Blog Friends!!!!!!!!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunshine Award and a Freebie

Happy Sunday!

I was all smiles when I saw that Jennifer over at Herding Kats in Kindergarten had given the Sunshine Award to me!  Thanks bunches, Jennifer!  If you haven't checked out her blog, you'll want to head on over to download her gingerbread alphabet matching freebie.  It's a great activity for kindergarten kiddos- but also great for those firsties needing some additional help with this foundational skill.

The "rules" for the Sunshine award 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?  I honestly don't have a favorite - but when my firsties ask, I always say blue!
  • Favorite animal?  Dog - especially my baby girl Jetta!
  • Favorite number?  13
  • Favorite drink? Venti Nonfat Chai, please!
  • Facebook or Twitter? Facebook - blogging has sort of replaced that addiction though!
  • Your passion? Being a good mom! (And wife, teacher, friend....)
  • Giving or getting presents? I'm not gonna lie, I love to get presents...especially if it's the iPad 2 for my upcoming 40th birthday on December 16th...{hint, hint hubby-dude} but I love to give too!!!  I wish I were better at giving little "Sparkles" as my friend, Heather often does.  Just little tokens of love to let those who are special to you know you're thinking of them.  Maybe that'll be a New Year's Resolution!?!
  • Favorite day? Probably Friday - I'm more relaxed in the classroom, get my above mentioned chai, get to wear my jeans, my principal brings his dog to school, it's just more laid back. I find myself enjoying my students more than usual on Fridays.
  • Favorite flowers? Honestly, I'm not a flower kinda girl - my cat eats them, then pukes them up.  If I had to choose I guess I'd say gerber daisies or hydrangea.
Who can resist that face?!?
Now to the hard part - choosing 10 bloggers to pass this award off to.  Well, if you saw how many blogs I follow you'd know that this is darn near impossible...

Crayons & Curls
Going Nutty in Mrs. Squirrel's First Grade
Ms. Rachels Room - A Special Ed. Classroom
What's the Buzz in 1st?
First Grade Delight
Stickers, Scissors and Smiles
Rowdy in First Grade
The Resource(ful) Room!
Miss Kindergarten

So many favorites!!!!  If you haven't checked out these girls' blogs - you'll want to.  They are loaded with awesomeness, FO SHO!

I'm a koosh collector {Maybe I should have listed that as my passion}.  I don't know how it got started - but it did, and I have more koosh balls than I know what to do with.  This week, one little girl brought back the cutest ladybug koosh for our collection while in Chicago {how sweet is that, that she thought of her teacher while she was in Chi-town?}. Well, you know about the domino effect...the next day, another little girl gave me a blue elephant koosh from...the Target dollar spot!  Couple of days later, one of my cutie pies gave me a purple people eater kinda koosh.  So nice of them...but awful silly that I was using my Hallmark thank you cards...{which probably cost more than the kooshes}to thank them for their thoughtfulness.  So, I made these for any future "sparkles" my kiddos give me.  I also thought they could be used in your writing center for work on writing.  What better way to encourage writing for real purposes than writing a thank you note?!

Click on the document to download!

P.S. If anybody can help me create a signature or a blog button - or tell me where to go for a user-friendly tutorial that would be awesome!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Tony Chestnut

Happy Friday!!!!

If your kiddos are anything like mine - the holidays are bringing out the "nutty" - the "Tony Chestnut-ty" in them.  Fall in Michigan can bring lots of rain and with that the dreaded...INDOOR RECESS.  I don't know about you - but I cringe at the thought of 24+ first graders cooped up in a classroom for 6+ hours out of the day without much chance to release their "inner-wiggle". 

If you haven't heard of Tony Chestnut you'll want to click {HERE} to find out more.  I found this song years ago...and if you read my "Influential People" post that was one of the "Remember when's" that came up a few times..."Mrs. W. do you remember when we did Tony Chestnut, that was so much fun!"

This song seriously gives you a good work out - and you can't help but giggle when you do it - perfect for an indoor recess kinda day. 

The video is pretty, umm, cheesy - but you gotta trust me, it's a crowd pleaser in the classroom.  I've never seen the video before now and I'll have to admit it falls under the "wow, that's interesting" category.  We act out the song pretty much like the people in the video {a little less creepy} but we make a circle with our two hands for "nut" and when we say "Eileen" we point to our eyes and then lean our bodies over more exaggerated than in the video.  Where it says "How it ends" - there's no way I'd have my kids stick their tushes out the way they do in the video...that's just asking for trouble if you ask me - instead we put our hands up in the air like we're saying "Hmm...I dunno"...basically, you can make up any movements...

Anyway, here's the video...try really hard to look past the yikes factor and picture our kiddos having a ball!

Click on the poster to get the lyrics...

Happy weekend!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Influential People - Each and Every One of Us!

Hi Girls!

I'm a stable mable - love for things to stay the same.  Always pictured myself old and gray and retiring all donned in wooden jewelry from Room 202 at Eagle Elementary.  Boy was my world rocked when I found out they were going to close my school.  I met so many amazing kids and family at that place.  So many wonderful memories - I wonder if I'll ever stop referring to it as "home". 

I don't play favorites - not really, but three years ago I had the most amazing class.  I used to joke around that I could leave, go to Starbucks, pick up a venti nonfat chai and come back to my kids still working hard.  They were that group where somebody would do something another person didn't really like and one would say "Could you please not do that?" and the other would say "Oh, okay - I'm sorry".  They were THAT good 99.99999% of the time. 

Not only were the kids amazing - their parents were too {Big surprise - we all know the apple typically doesn't fall far from the tree and in some cases it's the nut...not that year though}.  So supportive, fun, lively and sweet.

I was SO surprised when I opened an email from one of the moms asking me to come to their Girl Scout meeting because they wanted to interview a "strong and influential woman".  Who, me?!? I was a little worried whether or not they considered me to be a GOOD or BAD influence...I mean, I have been known to do somersaults or take off my shoes and socks - and throw them out the classroom door because they "knocked the socks {and shoes} right off my feet". 

I hightailed it over to their school right after my bell rang this afternoon.  Couldn't wait to see those sweet little faces.  Oh my gosh, I pulled up to the school and the girls and their moms were jumping up and down {they really were!} and clawing at the door {literally} it was so sweet...they know just how to make a girl feel good! The minute I stepped foot in the door I was bombarded with hugs and questions and do-you-remember-when's?"...

They remembered when they needed a pick-me-up, my "twin" whose last name rhymed with my own  would come visit from "the farm" - country accent and all {don't ask - I have no idea what I was thinking that day, walked into my closet and came out with a cowboy hat} but they asked me how Mrs. W, "your twin", was doing.  They asked me if the "bear had to come out of the cave" ever - because it only had to come out of the cave one time their year.  {The "bear" sometimes comes out of its cave when little first graders don't listen} And they asked me if I'd done any somersaults lately...we laughed a lot that year....

All of these questions and our laughter and hugs made me think of this sign I have hanging in my room.  I'm sorry I can't remember whose blog I found this - but it's an awesome reminder.

Those girls were thinkers.  Asking me who influenced me the most when I was their age, what roadblocks I encountered along the way to fulfilling my dream of becoming a teacher, how I stumbled over those little bumps, and what sterotypes I faced as a child and what stereotypes I see kids facing today.  WOW!!!!!  They wanted to know how I got so strong and what Girl Scout "laws" I feel are important  in what I do.  HOLY MOLY!!!!  Those girls were, indeed, thinkers and such loves.  My gosh do I miss them.

Teacher friends, you are moving mountains each and every day...I'll never forget how this day made ME feel!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Reading Celebration

Hey Chickaroonies...

You know how I love having reading and writing celebrations at the end of each unit!!!!  I keep them simple - so they really aren't any extra prep on my part.  I saw a parent {Paparazzi} a while back at Target {where else?!?} and she told me that one of her daughter's fondest memories of first grade were our academic celebrations.  This made my day and confirmed that they are a worthwhile addition to our classroom.  Here's a copy of the note I'm sending home reminding the parents of our upcoming "Shoeless Workshop" {please pray for no evacuation drills...that would be my luck, right?  I always worry about that...}.

We've already had our first writer's celebration which was to share our "published piece" with our writing partner and then we all had an apple juice toast.  Click {HERE} to read about it and see pictures.

Have a great week!!!!!!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Daily 5 and Turkey Flake Directions

Happy Saturday Girls!

This morning I found myself thinking about Daily 5 and where I'm at with that.  If you remember this is my first year trying to fully implement it. I've done bits and pieces in the past, but have just wrapped my brain around the whole idea this year...

I'm really a chef surprise kinda girl and can't think of a time I've taken a "program" and didn't tweak it to personalize it and make it mine {I'm sure we all do that}.  It seems that almost any classroom you walk into in my school district is doing the exact same things at the exact same time.  I know this is common practice in a lot of schools but we were always given a lot of wiggle room in the past and we've become more "cohesive", I suppose you could say, but this definitely leaves me feeling like a Stepford Wife.  That's why I tweak.

So, my invisible friend Barb and I had a TNO {Teachers Night Out} a couple of weeks ago.  We started in my classroom.  Looked around, talked about what I was doing, shared a few ideas and then moved to her classroom in her school.  Can I just tell you one of my most favorite things in the world is to look around another person's classroom {and around their school}?!  I'm so bad - I'll even take my boys to play on different playgrounds in our community so I can peek inside the windows while my boys play.  I keep waiting for somebody to call the po-po.  Back to Barb's classroom - she and I are both implementing Daily 5, all of our conversations and sharing of materials has made the whole thing so much fun!!!!!

I was struggling with the whole management piece.  I'm not a person who likes to have tons of management dealies going on.  Flip this card, move this clip, make this choice....ahhhh, drives me bonkers and makes me twitch.  Instead, after some prodding from dear 'ol Babsy, I decided to let them make their choices at will.  We all start with Read-to-Self and I've told them to just listen to their body signals.  When they start fidgeting, or "pretending" to read, or chatting with a friend it's probably time for them to make a switch.  They can make any Daily 5 choice {Read-to-Someone is reserved for Fridays...remember, I tweak} they want as long as there are enough materials.

I also do Book Nooks - click {HERE} to see what cozy places my kiddos can read or work during Daily 5.  During our TNO I was working through how to manage everybody wanting a certain Book Nook {the long striped pillows are a hot commodity} or Daily 5 choice {Listen-to-Reading with the Netbooks are a class favorite}.  One of Barb's teaching pals calls a table at a time to make their choices and has a "schedule" for how she calls those tables.  To ensure everbody gets a chance to make their Daily 5 choices first I have this schedule: Monday - Table A, Tuesday - Table B, Wednesday - Table C and Thursday - Table D.  {I only do Daily 5 with guided reading groups M-TR so this schedule works perfectly}.  If you have chosen Listen- to-Reading {Netbook} since there's a lot of set-up involved: get the Netbook, turn it on, log in, get your headphones, open Tumblebooks or Starfall {Our two current listen to reading choices} you have the option of keeping it for the entire Reader's Workshop. 

Some other things the kiddos need to consider when making a Book Nook choice:

*What's your plan?
        *If you choose Listen-to-Reading you must sit at a desk
        *If you want to use clay during Word Work you won't want to choose a pillow
        *If you to sit at your desk you can do any of the Daily 5 choices

Honestly, it sounds like a recipe for disaster, but this group of kids do an amazing job being self-directed.  They stick with a choice {most of them} for a healthy amount of time and switch when they are ready.  No time keeping on my part, no record keeping for them or me, just a natural flow. 

At the end of workshop we share.  I'll ask kids who I have noticed that morning made some nice choices; with variety, to share with us what they did so they model for my "readers" {you know, the kids who hold onto a book the whole time and really do nothing at all} what smart choices are during Daily 5 and how they help them grow as a reader.

Honestly, I haven't felt this good about reading in a long time. There's a hum in my classroom.  I'm seeing kids writing songs in their writing notebooks during Work-on-Writing, I'm watching kids make word wall words with their clay and reading them {That's a big ah-ha for me this year - they MUST read the words they make and if they can't read what they made they must ask a friend...what good is making the words if you don't know what word you made?}, and I even see kids doing Read-to-Self the entire time and they REALLY are reading...the. whole. entire. time.

There was a anecdote Debbie Miller once shared and it stuck with me. How many of you are snug in your bed with a good book, come to the end and roll over to your husband and ask him for a shoebox, scissors and glue so you can work on your diorama?!?  I try to emulate real life as best I can within a classroom setting.  I'm hoping, by encouraging them to listen to their own needs as a reader, to create life-long lovers of words....rather than those who read and write on schedule as I dictate.  Do I really care if they've never done work on words?  My goal is to encourage a love for reading.  I consider one more word read, one more page turned or one more letter written a step in the right direction {We do word study and writer's workshop at other times during the day  - so I consider what they do during Daily 5 dessert}.

On a different note...

I actually had a couple of questions about something on my blog...glory be that made my day!!!!!  Here are step by step directions on how to do the turkey flakes.  Sorry, I don't have a pattern - but maybe you can free hand one by looking at the close-ups?  SORRY!

Fold a large piece of construction paper in 1/2 the hamburger way

Paper clip 1/2 turkey tracer on the fold of your construction paper (paper clips prevents slippage)

After you trace, keep paper folded and cut

Make your turkey kick its head - fold feet up to head

Draw shapes on fold line

Cut the shapes out - you'll need your finger muscles for this


Use paper scraps to make the beak and waddle - or can draw.

 Hope that helps! 

Kids are going to Granny Camp today and spending the night...can't wait!!!!!!!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Who Doesn't Love Them Some Turkey Flakes?

Hey Girlies!

Gobble, gobble!?!  That's what I've been saying to get my kiddos attention this week.  I say "Gobble Gobble" they repeat it back.  I change my octave {cool word} they change theirs to match. I say it soft, they say it soft - you get the idea.  They love my little turkeys.

It has been quite a busy week...and I'm computerless {again}.  Okay, I do have my son's computer but it's slower than molasses in January, and my fingers don't land on the right keys so I have to retype my sentences like a 1,000 times and it's driving me nuts. {Computer update: it is indeed a virus.  The Geek Squad are working on it and will need to keep it for a few days.  Hopefully we'll find out which file did the damage - is that possible?  If it is, please cross your fingers that it was nothing I downloaded...HA!}

This week in Learning Stations we played Odd and Even Turkey Trot {Here} from Sunny Days in Second Grade to reinforce the concept of odd and even numbers. Some of my kiddos really challenged themselves by adding together three dice and decided if the number they came up with was odd or even.  Super fun game!!!! 

Turkeys are flyin' around everywhere in Room 8 - it's even SNOWING turkeys.  Yes, we have turkey flakes and to top it all off...right after we made our turkey flakes we had our first SNOW of the season.  You should have seen the kids...they swear our turkey flakes made the real ones happen outside our window. So darn cute!!!!

We read and illustrated this poem:

A turkey is a funny bird,
Its head goes wobble, wobble.
And all he knows is just one word,
And that is gobble, gobble.

{I downloaded a cute copy of this from somebody in blogland - if you recognize it and it's yours - please let me know so I can give credit where credit's due!}
And then made our own wobble wobble head turkeys - they sure do brighten up our classroom.

Next week we'll dive into what Thanksgiving is all about and why we celebrate...

Gobble, gobble...

And girls, tell me what your fascination is with Pinning?  I tried this summer and I think I must be missing something.  I just noticed the search bar at the top when I went back on the other day.  Do you just search out different things and then pin the ones you like?  If it's that easy - maybe I'll succumb to Farley's "pin pressure"!! As if I need ANOTHER reason to be on this dang computer...

Happy weekend!!!!!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

SOS - Serious Stuff

I know I'm breaking blog rule #1,289 by blogging twice in one day - but this requires some immediate and serious attention.  While at my sons' school PTA meeting I get a text from hubby saying our new computer fried.  NO JOKE!!!! The kicker?  He's blaming it on my blogging.

Any thoughts on this?  I'm flipping out - he says the old computer died right after I started blogging and now this one.  Could that be???????

Desk Pals

Hey Girls!

I'm home with a sick guy today - actually, he tweaked his neck and could hardly move it.  We're putting heat on it, watching Christmas shows and eating chicken noodle soup loaded with saltine crackers....not a bad day actually {as long as he's on the mend}.

The other day I noticed what incredibly Messy Marvins I have in my class.  On a whim, after cleaning their desks, I said "You better keep 'em clean or the Desk Fairy won't pay you a visit".  HUH?  I don't have a Desk Fairy {I did remember downloading cute little tags from Mrs. Bainbridge}. Do you ever just spit something out and think to yourself "Why did I just say that?!?".  So, one little girl comes back from lunch, specials, anywhere and grumbles every day "My desk is clean - where is that Desk Fairy!?!".  The Desk Fairy better get her act together...

I would love to leave them a little "treat" but we adhere strictly to healthy only treats...hmmm...Desk Fairy tag and a Gogurt?  Just doesn't seem right.  Maybe an apple from the Desk Fairy?  Hardly think that will inspire others to keep their desks clean and I can just hear my little grumbler "I got an apple" {Think: Charlie Brown "I got a rock"}. 

Then I happened upon THIS and immediately left my little guy's side, ran downstairs and dug through our bins upon bins of stuffed animals to find my own "Desk Mouse" {or something similar}. Thanks, bunches Lindsey - LOVE it!!!!

Here's what I came up with for my classroom:


Lucky the Desk Leopard

Quacky the Desk Duck

I'm so uptight about desks.  Water bottles belong on nametags.  Water bottles must be squirt top.  Water bottles must not be any where near your mouth when I'm giving direct instruction.  Then there's the inside of their desks.  Flat things go on the flat side and not flat things on the not flat side.  On desk cleaning days I go so far as to draw a "desk" on the white board and brainstorm together what's flat {folders,fun journal, handwriting books, etc.} and not flat {pencil box, clay bag, etc.}.  Then let the cleaning and organizing begin.  It doesn't stop there - we even organize our pencil boxes.  Now, I'm not crazy uptight about this - but I do set some guidelines: one pencil, one glue stick and I like for them to dump their crayons into their pencil box rather than keep them separate in their crayon boxes. 

I'm not doing my kids any harm am I?  I think teaching organization is sort of part of my job - right? ;)

I created a little note to go with my new Desk Pals...

Happy Thursday Eve!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Mind Reader ~ Freebie ~ Meeting Update

Hi Girlies,

This is my 13th year teaching. This is probably going to date me - but do you remember Patricia Cunningham?  {Four Blocks}.  Is she still around?  Crazy to think that something hot can fizzle out...can you imagine that happening with Reader's or Writer's Workshop?  You know what they say - teaching is like a pendulum - what once was hot may vanish into thin air but be guaranteed to see it name, new packaging, but it WILL come back.

So, I pulled out and dusted off some of my Patricia Cunningham stuff {okay, truth be told, I opened one of my cabinets and things started falling out all over the place and one of those items was my Four Blocks book}...if any of my "been around the block" teacher friends remember good 'ol Patty, you'll maybe remember playing "Mind Reader".  Often times I'll play this game using white boards.  Here's how it works - after each clue they should write a word from the word wall next to that number:

1. Clue number one is always "It's on the word wall"
2. Gives a little more information but doesn't give it away, like: "It has three letters in it"
3. Again, more information but it's not yet obvious, maybe: "It has one low letter and two short letters"
4. You guessed it, narrow it down a bit more: "My word is found under the letter Y"
5. This one gives it away: "My word fits in this sentence: I like __________"  {you}

If I'm playing it with white boards, before they erase the words I have them say it, spell it, say it, erase it for each word {even if they wrote the same word more than once}.  Sometimes I like to play it on paper so they can take the words home with them.  At first, my kiddies get confused and when they hear the second clue they go back and erase what they wrote next to number one.  Don't do this...just move on and write a new guess {or you can stick with the same word if the clue fits} next to number two.

Click on the picture to grab it!

On a side note - today's meeting gave me a huge knot in my stomach.  Holy Toledo....yesterday I mentioned that my district lays off teachers every year.  Granted, we tend to bring most of them back, doesn't make being laid off any easier because, honestly, you aren't guaranteed a call-back that next school year.  Lay offs in the past were based solely on teacher seniority - again, I'm not sure how I feel about that; considering, {unfortunately} there are a few rotten apples out there who are left unscathed.  Under this new legislation teachers can be laid off if they are deemed "ineffective".  Makes sense...honestly, I can completely agree with that.  BUT - there's SO. MUCH. GRAY. {Even after the lawyer explained everything} That's why I feel so uneasy.  In my heart of hearts I think know I have nothing to worry about...but I have a principal who is fair and just and who is also very near retirement.  It's the future that I worry about. 

So, I have to just take a deep breath and do the best job that I can each and every day.  I really can't do much more than that...

{And there's always that coffee shop}...

Monday, November 7, 2011

Big Meeting

Hey Girlies,

Well, tomorrow is the {{B I G}}meeting with our entire district to discuss the changes in Michigan legislation as it pertains to teachers in this grand 'ol state.  I'm that teacher tenure has changed I just don't know what to expect.  I find myself wondering what I'm so nervous about - I teach with all that I've got...I don't have much more that I can give...yet I feel like maybe I'm not giving enough to keep my job.

My biggest question is about teacher lay-off.  I'm not sure how it works in your neck of the woods - but in the past it's always been based on seniority {good or bad - I don't really know how I feel about that...other than I'm scared witless thinking that I could possibly be laid off - my district lays off at the end of every. single. school year.}.  I know there are a good many who work without tenure or unions so you're probably wondering what all the fuss is about.  There are a lot of rumors swirling and I think my imagination is getting the better of me.

So, this {{B I G}} meeting where a teacher-lawyer talks with the entire district under one roof to explain the changes and what we should expect starts bright and early tomorrow morning. I'm hoping I leave there with a sense of relief rather than despair. 

I'm a glass half-full kinda gal...I tend to look at the world through rose-colored-Junie B. Jones, First Grader at I hope, hope, HOPE that all my worry is for nothing.  

Keep your fingers crossed...

And if I do get laid off...anybody want to open a coffee shop with me? {Barb?!?}

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Currently November

Don't you just love it when you hit the jackpot?  You click on one person's blog, do a little stalking, and find a whole slew of awesomeness?  It's like "where have you been all my life?!?"...

So, in my late night stalking {Can I tell you how many times I looked at the clock and told myself to GO. TO. BED.} I happened upon Farley's blog over at Oh Boy Fourth Grade {But for some reason it won't let me "follow"...grrmph}and I saw this cute little "Currently" fun going on.  I thought I'd join in and maybe you will too! I love checking out Farley's blog because I have a fourth grader of my own. It's neat to see what's going on in her neck of the woods and it gives me a good idea on what to expect of and for my {not so} little guy!

Another blog that I stalk a ton is Erica's over at Erica Bohrer's First Grade.  I check out that girl's blog daily.  You know how you read somebody's blog and you either think it's somebody you know IRL that is blogging undercover or you think if you knew them IRL you'd be the best teaching buddies ever?  That's Erica's blog for me - and I don't think she even knows it!!! HA! 

I'm cookin' up some turkey fun so come back soon!


Friday, November 4, 2011

Personalized Stamp Giveaway!

Hadar over at Miss Kindergarten is having an awesome giveaway but you've gotta head over there fast because the giveaway ends on November 5th.  You can win a personalized stamp from Polka Dot Parlor. Go check out Hadar's blog to see the cuteness!!!!

Happy weekend!  Hip, hip, hooray!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Guess Who? Freebie!

What a wild, wild week....

So what do you think of this conference schedule?

Monday - Halloween {need I say more?}
Tuesday - teach all day - conferences 4:30-7:30
Wednesday - teach all day {pull my hair out}
Thursday - teach all day - conferences 4:30-7:30
Friday - 1/2 day with kids - conferences 12:30-3:30

Does that seem like a funky conference schedule?  What's yours like?

On a brighter note - my conferences went really well tonight. I had some toughies but the parents were all super responsive.  Phew!

Each year we have our awesomely talented parapro trace the silhouettes {can I tell you how many times I tried spelling that word?  Still doesn't look right and I googled it...oy} of each first grader.  Then we have them write "clues" and attach.  As the parents wait for their conference they do a "First Grade Who's Who".  The parents love it and it's a wonderful keepsake. 

My phone doesn't do them justice -you should see the details - she actually uses a razor blade to get the details of the eyelashes, tufts of hair...just amazing. 

Here's a copy of the clues:

Hoping to make it through this week without developing a twitch...I feel one coming on.  Must be time for a bubble bath...
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