18 December 2016

Patchwork Christmas

Today it is in the 40's in Texas.  It is finally beginning to feel like Christmas!  We've had a very mild winter here in Texas, so we reallly welcomed this cooler weather with open arms!   Christmas is a week away and it is our little family tradition to make homemade Christmas ornaments.  We make a different one each year.  This year, the plan was to make a patchwork ball that I spotted on Pinterest.  Well, we ended up with a complete Pinterest fail.  After several attempts, we realized that the fabric was simply not going to stick to our Styrofoam balls.  What does a teacher mommy do when at first we don't succeed?  Well, we simply move on to Plan B.  Actually, we make up plan B on the spot!  So here goes plan B....

 Instead of using Styrofoam balls, we used cds, and it worked perfectly.  My little guy was able to create it all by himself .  He chose his fabric and just kept adding new layers of Mod Podge.

We let the pieces hang off the edge, and once it had dried, I trimmed around the cd with fabric scissors.  Them, we simply added ribbon and a few beads to the top to hang it.  I just used a glue gun to attach the ribbon.  I am glad that we ended up using the cd instead of the Styrofoam balls.  It made it super easy for him to sign his name on the back and date it.

My little elf had fun making a patchwork ornament for his grandma.  He made one for Santa too using Christmas wrapping paper instead of fabric.  I will be back with a picture of it once it dries.   If you are looking for a simple homemade ornament, this night be a perfect little craft for your own little elves.

You can make these adorable little elves by clicking here.

24 October 2016

Buddy League

I am thrilled to be working along with H.E.B. to promote kindness within the classroom not just during the month of October, but the whole year through.  H.E.B. has launched a wonderful Buddy League Program to celebrate diversity and inclusion.  I received a lovely box of goodies from H.E.B. filled with resources designed to teach little ones about being a buddy and not a bully!

H.E.B. included these brightly colored posters which served as a wonderful discussion starter in the classroom.  We had great conversations about what it means to be a buddy and my students loved sharing examples to go along with each of the posters. 

I've noticed a lot more teamwork in the classroom and my little ones are motivated more than ever to help each other out and be there for one another.  We also started sharing specific examples of students being a buddy to another child.

These stickers are the perfect way to  reward those wonderful acts of kindness in the classroom!

Cheyenne earned her Buddy League sticker today!

  We always talk about  mighty messages in the classroom, but it's neat for our students to see that businesses such as H.E.B. support and promote these very same messages.  

I would say it is super heroic of H.E.B to support education and educators!  Thanks a million for all of the wonderful programs you put together for our little ones.

22 October 2016

Nonfiction Conventions

We just finished up learning about nonfiction conventions and it's always a favorite unit of mine.  I have taught it so many ways over the last 13 years, but this year I wanted something really simple and concise.  I created templates that could easily be placed within a reading journal, so they could be referred to throughout the entire school year.  We have on going conversations about text features and are constantly referring back to our conventions in all subject areas!  We are in the process of writing All About Books, and our text features have come in super handy.

You can check out the resource by clicking below:

There is also an assessment that can be used to assess your students' understanding of the conventions.  I usually hold off until they have had lots of opportunities to explore text features.  We practice finding them in class stories, text books, and especially their library books.  My students get super excited when they are able to locate the text features in their own  library books.  They also notice which text features are missing from their books.

Quizlet is also a great way to practice matching text features to their definitions.  I created a flashcard set using the definitions in this resource that is available to the public.


14 August 2016

Monster Brag Tags

Why does summer seem to fly by?  It seems like just yesterday I was packing up my classroom, and now I'm already putting it back together again.  Each year, I try to change things up a little bit.  Last year, I gave up my beloved behavior clip chart.  I had used a clip chart for about 10 years, and I was honestly terrified to let it go.  Old habits die hard, I tell you!  I made the leap though, threw out the clip chart and never looked back.  It was the best decision I could have made.  My focus became to really encourage positive behaviors and have constructive conversations with those students that misbehaved.

This year, I wanted to take it a step further.  I wanted to find additional ways to motivate and reward students for making good choices, as well as celebrate their accomplishments.  I did a lot of research over the summer and it kept leading me back to brag tags.  Angie Olsen at Lucky Little Learners has written several great blog posts about brag tags.  If you want to read more about how to implement them in your classroom, check out her post here.

I have a monster classroom, so I was determined to find monster brag tags.  I found lots of Class Dojo resources with cute little monsters, but I struggled to find brag tags with monsters.  I decided to go ahead and make my own set of monster tags for my little MON-STARS!


Many teachers prefer to hang their brag tags on ball chain necklaces, but I opted to use binder rings.  I figured if their tags are attached to their backpacks, they would probably have a better chance of getting returned the following day.   I won't send brag tags  home everyday.   My students take their graded work home on Wednesdays, so I thought this would be a perfect day for them to share their brag tags with their families. They will be responsible for returning them to school the following day. 

I am storing my students' brag tag rings in a pocket chart designed for storing calculators.  It has pockets that are just the right size and already numbered.  

I recently updated this resource and added a few more brag tags,  I purchased this mini toolbox on Amazon to store the additional brag tags.

Here is a little explanation of some of the tags in this resource:

I have my fingers crossed that brag tags are a hit in my classroom this year.  I look forward to rewarding those homework heroes that have all of their homework complete for each six weeks.  I also hope that those little Sight Word Star tags encourage my little ones to learn all their sight words for the year.  If you LOVE monsters, then you can check out the monster brag tags here.  If you do not have a monster themed classroom, but want to give brag tags a shot, there are so many different varieties available from other fabulous teachers.

20 July 2016

Summer Tips

I am loving every moment of my summer and I'm definitely not looking at a calendar.   I love getting up late, going to bed late, and everything in between.  My little guy starts first grade in August and I love the time we've spent together reading books, playing games, exploring, and working on art projects.  Our family made a point of visiting educational places like the DoSeum this summer that offer fantastic hands-on educational experiences for children.  I am super thrilled at the growth I see daily in my little one's reading and writing.  As teachers, we know and understand the importance of working with our children over the summer.  We also know that there will be a learning loss for many of our students that return after the summer break.

I was beyond thrilled when a Houston business reached out to me about this very topic.  Precision Garage Door of Houston shared this fantastic infographic with me that is designed to help families  prevent this loss of learning over the summer months.

Please check it out below:

The graphic is filled with wonderful tips for parents.  It's scary when you read that 2.5 months of math skills can be lost over the summer, but as teachers we know that this true more often than we'd like to see.  We know the same can be said for reading.

As a teacher mommy, I know how important it is to set aside time each day to dedicate to reading books together with your children.   I absolutely love this special mommy/son time with my own sweetie.  It's not too late, there is still summer left!  Grab a book and just keep reading, just keep reading! Clearly I've seen Finding Dory a few times this summer! 

I am super excited that businesses like Precision Garage Door of Houston are standing up to support educators.  They deserve a large round of applause! 

10 July 2016

Teacher Planner/Binder

Every summer I purchase a planner for the upcoming school year.  Okay, it's not actually a planner. It's more of a calendar.  This calendar is one of the many things I carry home nightly in my teacher bag.  My teacher friends know that bag....the one that weighs a ton and sometimes doesn't even get opened once it arrives home.  In addition to the lovely calendar I just described, I always have a binder filled with basically all my important teacher forms...attendance, grades, RTI info., student info., planning pgs, etc.  In an age of everything going digital, I still manage to keep hard copies of everything.  Maybe it's my own distrust of those clouds that are supposed to keep all of our important documentation safe in digital land, or it could be the fact that anytime I desperately need a form, the internet just happens to be down!

This summer, I decided that it was time to get organized and eliminate some of the unnecessary things I carry in that teacher bag.   I didn't want to carry both a binder and separate calendar any longer.  This only added more bulk to my already heavy bag.  I did consider purchasing one of those beautiful planners that are perfectly bound together with everything included.   I tried one many years ago when I first started teaching.  It was gorgeous, but I ended up not using the lesson plan part because our campus is required to have ours digital.  That left a large portion of my planner unused.  I also found that I really needed the ability to add and remove pages to meet my own classroom needs.  Instead of purchasing a planner, I decided to go the route of a printable binder.  I started by searching my computer for all the important planning forms I've created over the years.  In my search,  I found quite the assortment of forms with different borders, clip art, fonts, etc.  I decided to stream line all the most important pages and that little giant project turned into a digital teacher planner.

I wanted to share the planner with all of my teacher friends.  It has a simple design with just a splash of color.  Several of the pages are editable.  You can check out the pics below to see if it's something you could use in your own classroom.  I'm going to include LOTS of pictures to give you a good sense of what is included.




Lol..I just love my made up class of Diney princesses, princes, and Pixar characters.


Sight word lists are also included with the planner.  The following word lists are included:
 Fry's Instant Words 1-300 (50 words per page)
Dolch Words (pre-primer, primer, grade 1, grade 2, grade 3)
Sight Word List (editable)


Not everything is pictured above, so peek at the preview below to see the entire resource. 
You can check it out in my store by clicking HERE
I'd love to give it away for free to the first 3 people that leave a comment below.  Please be sure to leave your e-mail.  
(Giveaway has ended)