Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Holiday Gift Giving Ideas

The clock is ticking. Time is running out. What in the world am I going to get for everyone on my list? I don't have time to scour Pinterest. Amazon won't ship my items in time. What's a girl to do?

Have no fear! Here are a few quick and easy ideas you can throw together in no time!


Salt Dough Snowman Ornaments: These are always a HUGE hit with families. You need a couple days to complete this project. I suggest making the salt and flour dough at home. I worked with small groups of 2-3 students to make the ornament shape. Then, I took them home to bake them and painted them the next day. 

2 cups of flour
1 c of salt
1/2 c water
*This recipe make 8-10 ornaments depending on how large and thick you make them.

Paint Stick Snowman Ornament: You need: Paint sticks (free at your local home improvement store such as Home Depot), white, black, and orange paint, google eyes, and scrap material for the scarf.

SUPER Easy Snowman Ornament: This year time was of the essence. I was on a budget and needed a quick gift idea. I was at Michael's for what seemed like the 100th time in a week, and I looked over to find these plastic ornaments on sale! I think they were 70% off! I grabbed a class set before they disappeared! A few shelves over were bags of mini snowball fill and ...TADA! My mom came into class to help fill the ornaments and tie ribbon to the top. Then, I had each child draw the nose, eyes, and mouth on with permanent markers. Wrap them in pre-printed bags. Add a tag, And you are done! This was all completed in one school day!

If you want to get a bit fancier with the wrapping, you can always use festive clear wrapping paper and tie it with a pretty bow.


This year I thought ahead and picked out books from Scholastic for each of my students for the holidays. Even if you haven't planned ahead, you can use bonus points and at the books shipped to you in about 2 days!

I ran out of red and green tissue paper. And no other teacher had any for me to borrow.... I had used all my cute Santa plastic bags to wrap their parent gifts in.... SO... I decided to go out of the box and use brown lunch bags as my wrapping. I created personalized bookmarks for each student. I laminated them and used them as the tag on the outside of each bag. Now when they open their present they will have a special bookmark to go with their brand new book! 

1.Treat Caddie: I saw this idea on Instagram and/or Pinterest. These crates are from the Target Dollar Spot. Fill it with a few special treats and add a tag with ribbon and you have an instant awesome gift to give!

2. Lottery Ticket: This might not seem like much but it could be worth thousands of dollars! Give each colleague a scratch off lottery ticket as a gift. Add a tag that says. "I won the LOTTERY with you at our school" or "I wish you a LOTTO happiness this holiday season". Everyone loves to play the lottery, but may not buy a ticket for themselves. This gift will surely be a hit.

I would love to hear what you give as gifts to parents and colleagues. Please share your ideas in the comments. Happy Holidays!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Thanksgiving Linky, Giveaway, & FREEBIES, Oh My!

November could not arrive fast enough! I love the cooler days, leaves changing colors, and the extra special time with family and friends.

With the holiday season just around the corner, I decided to join a few of my blogging friends to bring you a linky full of freebies and a giveaway you are going to want to gobble up in a hurry!

One of my favorite activities to do with my students is to teach them about Pilgrim life, their voyage on the Mayflower, and how the first Thanksgiving came to be. I love to bring these concepts to life through the Scholastic First Thanksgiving website. There are several videos to choose from, depending on the age of your students. They do a great job bringing the content to life for my students. If you haven't checked out these videos, head over now! You will love using them.

After we watch a couple of the videos, I like to complete a follow up activity about main idea and details. As a class, we brainstorm ideas for a main idea about the voyage on the Mayflower. Then, we chart all the details they can remember about the voyage, which support the main idea we generated together. The children use the turkey template below to show off their skills. They write the main idea on the body of the turkey and an important detail on each of the feathers. You can also choose your favorite Thanksgiving story to use, if you decide not to use the videos.

This activity makes a festive display in our classroom, all while integrating social studies and language arts skills! You can grab your FREE template HERE!

I also like to share stories about Pilgrim life with my students. They always find it interesting to learn about how Pilgrim children lived long ago.

After we read one of our Pilgrim books, we create a flip book to go along with it. The children focus on the characters, setting, and plot of the story. We create a chart, as a class, with their ideas. Then, they work in pairs to complete their flip book.

Each student also creates a Pilgrim boy or girl to display with their flip books. These make for a great writing display too!

This is another fun activity I like to do with my students to review math skills. We are usually working on place value and addition and subtraction skills during this time of the year. I have my students complete these word problems during our morning warm up time. Next, they color and attach the turkey and add feet to the bottom of their page. They love seeing their working hanging all around the room.

Now that you have a few festive FREEBIES to use, how about a chance to put some TpT cash into your pockets? We are giving away FIVE TpT gift cards worth $25 each! Make sure to use the rafflecopter below to enter for your chance to win. Then hop on through and visit some more of my blogging friends and grab their wonderful freebies as well.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Array City: Ideas to Integrate the Curriculum

This week I introduced arrays and repeated addition to my second graders. I explained rows and columns and how arrays help us to count things faster. The first day, I gave them stickers and they created their own arrays on index cards. Today we built a city! Read on to find out how...

I originally saw this idea on Pinterest and followed the link to Resources From the Hart. I just knew I had to adapt the lesson for my second graders. If there is a way to connect math to art, writing, and more, I am all for it!

Each student started with the following items: one sheet of black paper per student, colored construction paper, glue sticks, scissors, black felt tip marker, and a white crayon or colored pencil.

I modeled a sample array city for them. I showed them how to cut different size buildings. I explained that every window does not need to be the same size. I stressed the importance of lining the windows up into rows and columns to clearly model their understanding of what an array should look like. I also told them they could not repeat the same array. Each building needed to be different.

Students worked at their table with their partners. They needed to check each other's work, before any windows could be glued down.

After the windows were glued, they needed to write how many rows of windows there were on each building and how many window were in each row. This showed their understanding of rows and columns. Then, they needed to write a repeated addition sentences to connect their understanding to arrays.

When they were finished, their partner checked their writing and made corrections where needed. Then, each student traced over their writing with a black marker to "seal the deal." Finally, they used their white crayon to add a night sky to their city. Below is the finished product!

I extended this even further and had each student write a word problem to go along with their Array City. Tomorrow, during math, we will pass out the word problems to different students and have them solve them and share their answers with the class.

If you are looking for some other ways to help your students learn and understand multiplication strategies, here is a FREEBIE for you:

Multiplication FREEBIE
Array Task Cards

I hope you can get some inspiration from this project and adapt it for your students too. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Back To School Ideas

Back To School is in full force! And we all know, there is no tired, like teacher tired during the first month of school. I am going to share a few time saving tips with you that will help ease your stress levels and help you relax a bit during the beginning of the school year.

Are you required to post student learning standards each day? I was spending WAY TOO MUCH time writing the CCSS out on the board each day. It took up valuable learning space on my board and I was getting frustrated. To solve this problem, I created kid-friendly standards posters I could change out easily and quickly in a pocket chart. The front of each card has the standard, in kid-friendly words. The back of each card, has the actual standard written out with the standard number and strand.These are available for all the ELA and MATH standards grades K-5. Now, when I have my admin, a parent, etc. come into our classroom, they can easily see what skills we are working on throughout the day.

Do parent conferences stress you out? Do you hate prepping for them or don't know how to organize all the information you want to tell them in 15 minutes? I have the resource for you! Getting organized for conferences has never been easier, since I started using this personalized conference binder. It has all the forms and information I need at my fingertips. 

All the forms are editable, which helps save time too! This pack includes:

1. A conference note to send home with the date and time of the meeting. 
2. A reminder note
3. Sign in sheet
4. Missed You At Our Conference note
5. FIVE conference checklist options
6. Personalized binder cover

This is, by far, a new favorite in my classroom! Be the coolest teacher on campus with this Back To School bulletin board. Bridging the gap between school and social media will make you a hit with your students and their families. Each student will create their own Instagram page with a personalized picture, comment, and hashtag. This is a great student center bulletin board that you can leave up all year! I emailed the parents and asked them to email a picture of their child doing a favorite activity, on a summer trip, or just hanging out. They kids were so excited to see their faces up on the board as each picture was sent in. It is a great motivator and they love reading what each caption says.

Do you get frustrated always having to stop your teaching to help a student log on to a website? Are you looking for a way to organize their user names and passwords? I have the resource for you! And the best part....it's FREE!

I was getting so frustrated every time we went to computer lab and I would always have several little kiddos tell me they couldn't log on to a site because their password didn't work. Nobody has time for that!  To solve this problem, I created individual student password cards! This was a game changer for me. Just write the student's name, user name, and password on the card. Then, laminate them and hole punch so you can put them on a ring. Each time I go to the computer lab, I grab the appropriate password ring and off we go. Ta Dah! Problem solved! You can grab this FREEBIE by clicking HERE.

I hope these back to school tips have given you some ideas that you can use in your classroom. Best of all, you can start implementing them immediately! Enjoy!


Saturday, August 13, 2016

Teaching Resources By Oriental Trading

Today, I am super excited to share some incredible teaching resources I found through Oriental Trading. When I first started teaching , Oriental Trading was my go to source for everything prize related in my classroom. Now, I still use it for that... BUT it has SO MUCH MORE to offer teachers! 

My eyes bulged out of my head when I saw these... I have made my own tens frames and laminated them. But they needed a face lift. I love how these dry erase math boards are DOUBLE SIDED! There is a 120 Chart on one side and ten frames and number lines on the other. These are going to be PERFECT for my kiddos during math time!

I have never had a complete class set of number lines for my students to use! These dry erase number lines will be perfect to use all year long. I am sure we will wear these out during skip counting, addition and subtraction strategies and so much more!

I also got a class set of sunglasses. I know that might sound strange BUT I give them to my kids every year with this little label. Sometime I give them at Back To School night at the beginning of the year. Other times, I wait and give it to them at the end of the year at Open House before they move to the next grade level. Either way, they are a HUGE hit!
 Beach balls???? Yes, please! I love using these for math facts practice, sight word recognition, and even as a way to call on students. It is something different that keeps my kids engaged and ready to learn.

I love these pencils! They say "Happy Birthday, From Your Teacher!" I use them to create my birthday bloom display. You can grab this freebie by clicking HERE.
Finally, I grabbed a class set of white paper bags with handles. I use these several times during the school year for special events. I have the kids decorate them and then put all of the small items they collect inside them so they don't get lost. 

One of the best new features at Oriental Trading is their classroom Wish List! That's right! All you have to do is go to their website, start shopping, and add the items you love to your wish list. Then, share that wish list with the families in your class and BAM all your wishes may be coming true! How awesome is that?

Now is the time to head on over to Oriental Trading! Get your classroom stocked up and ready for all those sweet kiddos headed your way!

*Disclaimer: This post contains information about products that were sent to me by Oriental Trading for review. However, all opinions and classroom ideas are my own.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Back To School Blog Hop!

It's hard to believe it is already Back To School time! Where did the summer go? In order to make the transition from summer to school starting a bit easier, a few of my blogging teacher friends and I have joined together to bring you something to get excited about!

How do gift cards and freebies, sound to you? Well I have not ONE but TWO freebies for you to grab! I hope that news makes you a bit giddy! 


1. INSTACLASS: Be the coolest teacher on campus with this Back To School bulletin board. Bridging the gap between school and social media will make you a hit with your students and their families. Each student will create their own Instagram page with a personalized picture, comment, and hashtag. This is a great student center bulletin board that you can leave up all year! I can't wait to get into my classroom and start gathering pictures from my students so I can get this board up right away!

2. BACK TO SCHOOL BASICS FORMS: I like to have all my students' information at my fingertips. I never know when I am going to have to contact a parent, look up how a child gets home, discover food allergies, and more! I love using these forms to keep the lines of communication open with my families. 

3. STUDENT PASSWORD CARDS: How many times have you gone to the computer lab, only to have a couple little darlings tell you their password doesn't work. Hello??? User error!!! Nobody has time for that. I created individual student password cards to solve this EXACT problem. Just write the student's name, user name, and password on the card. Then, laminate them and hole punch so you can put them on a ring. Each time I go to the computer lab, I grab the appropriate password ring and off we go. Ta Dah! Problem solved! You can grab this FREEBIE by clicking HERE.

4. BIRTHDAY BLOOMS: I love to celebrate birthdays in school, but with 24+ little kiddos, it can get very expensive. At the beginning of each school year, I create our class Birthday Blooms. I attach the "flower" to a special birthday pencil and create this display. When it is a child's birthday, they get to pick out their pencil, get a birthday sticker, and a homework pass. It's very low cost. Each child feels super special and it makes an adorable display. You can grab this FREEBIE by clicking on the picture below.

Now that you are organized and have a few FREEBIES to use, how about a chance to put some Teachers Pay Teachers cash into your pocket!!! We are giving away, not one, not two, but THREE $50 TpT gift cards to three lucky people. Make sure to use the Rafflecopter below to enter to win! Then hop on through to visit some more of my blogging buddies and grab some more fabulous freebies!

a Rafflecopter giveaway