Saturday, May 3, 2014


I am such a slacker!  I really do have good blogging intentions, I swear!  But, when I get home from work my girls are so excited to spend time with me, I have a terrible time telling them no!  Mommy problems.  :)  I am so thankful to have two beautiful little girls to play with!  May is going to be a crazy busy month for us.  My oldest daughter turns 5, 3 field trips, assessments, Mother's Day and a traveling husband.  I figured I better let you know now, before I forget that I will be participating in TPT sale on May 6th and May 7th!  
I have two new products up and posted just in time!  

I have a Silent E Bingo game that also has some cvc words and some words with blends.  It aligns to unit 12 of Fundations if you follow that program at your school!
Silent E Bingo
(click on the picture to be taken to the product)

I also recently completed a write the room for math!  There are 16 clock cards with time to the half hour and time to the hour.  
Time to the Half Hour Around The room

Have fun shopping!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Box Cars and One Eyed Jacks

If you have never hear of Box Cars and One Eyed Jacks, you do NOT know what you are missing.  BCOEJ is a hands on game based approach to practicing math and literacy skills.  Dice, playing cards, dominoes, and letter tiles are used regularly in this program to reinforce skills already taught.  About 5 years ago the principal at my school brought in the owners of Box Cars and One Eyed Jacks to our school for a workshop.  It is by far the BEST professional development I have had, ever.  It is practical and exciting.  The kids love the lessons.  I was extremely lucky because our district full on implemented BCOEJ  the next school year so I got a whole kit of dice and letter tiles to use in my daily lessons.  I have had the privilege of having Jane and John Felling, the owners, come into my classroom and teach lessons.  I have helped at a conference that John was presenting at. 

I think one of my favorite things about BCOEJ is that they make it so easy to differentiate based on student ability and the students never realize they are doing something different from the other students.  It also lends itself really well to Guided Math, which I have not quite been able to master daily in my classroom. We do guided math occasionally.  I teach first grade and my math block was placed right after my guided reading block and the students have a difficult time going from reading centers to math centers and staying focused.  We do it when we can.  Hopefully next year my schedule is set up differently and I will try again. 

Anyway, the whole reason for writing this post was to talk about my adorable 4 year old and my mommy guilt!
 My daughter is unable to attend preschool and this is something that I have struggled with for two years now.  I don't think I will be okay with this until she begins kindergarten in the fall and I know she is doing well.  She is a smart cookie, she knows her letters and her sounds and counts to 13, skips 14 & 15, and then gets to 20 (who needs 14 & 15 anyways right?).  She has a great vocabulary.   I know she is going to be fine, but there is that little nagging voice that every now and then gets me thinking that she should be in preschool.  I would have totally sent her to preschool if I had a way to get her there.  She has an awesome daycare provider, who she loves, that has been amazing the past four years.  Natalie gets social interaction there and we work on academics at home.  This is where Box Cars comes into play.  I swear, my four year old knows exactly what to do to push my buttons and lately doing "school work" at home has become more of a chore and less fun.  It has been a constant struggle to get her to sit down and focus on the task at hand.  I do realize she is only four, but I am talking two minutes in and she is pretending to be a cat licking her arm clean.  We took a break for a week or two and I did some searching on Pinterest on how to get her excited about learning again, while all along, the answer was sitting on my desk at work.  I had an epiphany one day last week when I got a new student who desperately needed to work on letter formation.  I picked up my Box Cars kit, got out my letter dice and made a game for her to play to practice forming those letters.  That is when it hit me!  I will borrow a letter dice and play this game with Natalie.  BEST.  IDEA.  EVER.  Not only is she back in the swing of things with doing "school" at home.  She is BEGGING to play!  I'm talking "Mama, if I clean the toy room can I play the dice game?"  Music to my ears I'm telling you!  The game is so simple, basically the child rolls the dice, and writes the letter.  I brought home an uppercase die so she can roll an uppercase letter, but then she writes the lowercase letter.  The more she is seeing both forms of the letter, the better!  When a letter reaches the top of the graph, that letter wins.  To save paper, I give that letter a sticker and then we keep playing.  This game is great for letter formation, and letter recognition.  Of course, the teacher in me, throws in "and what sound does that letter make?"

Here is the letter die I brought home:
This is an uppercase one, but they have lowercase dice as well.  The star is wild, so of course that is Natalie's favorite thing to roll.  You can order them on the Box Car website for $1.50 each, but there is a minimum purchase requirement of $23.95.  I would have no problem spending $25 dollars on their website, but if you wanted to just get the letter dice and nothing else, I found a four pack of the lower case letter dice on Amazon for $4.80 plus shipping
Here is a picture of Natalie playing roll it and write it:
A few variations of the game:
*Play with number dice:  you can get thirty sided dice with the numbers 1-30 and ten sided dice on the Box Cars website and on Amazon as well.  Our local teacher store also has them available.
*If you are unable to purchase the alphabet dice, use one sided flashcards.  Put the flashcards in a coffee can or other container and have the child draw the cards out.  (I have some paid and free sets in my tpt store here)
I have the Roll it and Write it public on my google docs.  Hopefully this works!  Click here to view, print, or download!  If you try to to retrieve the doc, and it doesn't work, please let me know!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


I asked my four year old to pick a number between 1 and 6.  She picked 8.  Silly girl!  So then I asked my husband and he picked three.  Since Danielle entered twice on accident, that made Misty S.  the third eligible comment.
Congrats Misty!  Check your email!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Spoonful of Sweetness!

One of my favorite books to read in my classroom is Spaghetti In A Hot Dog Bun.  It is a great book that shows children that being different is okay!  I love this book!  I was honored when the author, Maria Dismondy, picked me to review her newest book. 
Spoonful of Sweetness is a board book aimed at children 0-3 years old.  Perfect for my youngest!  While it is short and sweet, like most board books, this one hits home for me.  One thing that I focus on a lot in my classroom is manners and positive character traits.  I have found that the longer I am in the classroom, the less children know their basic manners.  It is a struggle every day to get my students to say hi when someone says hi to them in the hallway.  I really think that it is just an oversight.  There are so many other things we are trying to teach our children, that sometimes we forget to teach them to be good people.  I also think we expect the kids to "just know", but if no one takes the time to teach them, they are not going to "just know".  It is nice to know that I am not alone in feeling this.  As I was corresponding with Maria she had this to say "It is my effort to incorporate early intervention, encouraging parents to teach simple character traits in the book from the very start of their child's life. It is my hope that if we can start young, children will be equip with important social and friendship skills to use when they enter school."  Spoonful of Sweetness and other delicious manners  takes the thinking out of introducing manners and positive character traits to your young child.  While the book is aimed at ages 0-3, my 4 1/2 year old enjoys the book also.,204,203,200_.jpg
*Click on the picture to be taken to Amazon to purchase Spoonful of Sweetness for $6.99.
To learn more about Maria Dismondy and her AWESOME books, check out her website! She has a book trailor and activities to go along with all of her books.  I really can't wait to see what Maria comes up with next.  Maria's blog is:
If you would like to win a copy of Spoonful of Sweetness, leave a comment below with your email address!  The contest will close at midnight on January 20th.
The contest is now closed!  Congrats to Misty S.  Check your email please!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

I'm Back!

Whew!  When I first sat down to start blogging about my teaching adventures I really thought it was going to be something fun and easy to do in my spare time.  Now when I think back to how na├»ve I was, I giggle.  See, I have a two year old a 4 year old.  What is spare time?  I'm not real sure.  I made a decision a while ago that my girls needed to be my first priority.  I didn't want to be that teacher that spends her home time doing school stuff.  I put blogging and creating for TPT on the back burner. Sure, the little bit of extra cash every month was nice, but not at the expense of my daughters and our relationship. I made the effort to not bring school work home with me and for the most part, I have been able to stick to that pledge.  I am really lucky that at our school we get quite a bit of prep time and I have started using my prep much more wisely.  I am constantly going at school so when I get home I can give my attention to my girls.  Here is what I was doing, when I wasn't blogging!

We went to the Apple Orchard and we went camping!  Natalie got to go "surfing"!

We went to the Pumpkin Patch!
My youngest daughter turned two, we got A LOT of snow, and enjoyed being outside to play in it!
On New Year's Eve, my oldest daughter got to be the flower girl in our good friends wedding.  Not only did she do a great job walking  down the aisle, she amazed me the entire day.  She was well behaved, charming, and absolutely beautiful.  I am so thankful she had the opportunity to be a flower girl.  I'm pretty sure she will never forget the day!

My goal for 2014 is to continue to spend as much time as I can with my girls, but I also want to blog more again.  I didn't realize how much I missed it until I stumbled across some plans I had for blogging.  My goal is going to be to blog two times a month.  Fingers crossed, that isn't biting off more than I can chew!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Behavior Plan

When I began the school year with 15 (no joke) students I was rejoicing and thinking to myself how easy this school year is going to be.  15 kids, that is every teachers dream!  WOW, while I am grateful for only having 15 students, I think they are going to give me a run for my money and keep me on my toes!  I love every single one of them, and appreciate their differences.  But this school year will be far from easy! :)

I realized quickly that Whole Brain Teaching in theory sounds great, but is not for me.  I am using bits and pieces of it, but I was feeling more like a drill sergeant most days than a teacher.  I noticed that my students were missing some of the spark I have seen in the past.  I may try again next year, but for now I am going back to my own crazy fun way of doing things.  Since switching back, the aura in my classroom has improved greatly.

A question I frequently get from other teachers and parents is how do you handle behavior in your classroom.  My classroom has three simple rules:
1. Be Responsible
2. Be Respectful
3. Make Good Choices

The way I see it, no matter what a child does it falls into one of those three categories.  I don't really like public displays of misbehavior (clip charts, flipping cards).  It just isn't for me.  I had a second grade teacher who was very public with disciplining children and I was terrified of getting in trouble.  I promised myself I would never do that.  My first 4 years in kindergarten I had a flip chart where students would flip their card for misbehaving, I made it okay with myself because they could also flip to positive colors.  I realized that my students were more worried about what color OTHER students were on than themselves.  This was totally defeating the purpose, and quickly reminded me of second grade.  AAAAAHHHHHH what was I doing!!?!?!? I realized I needed to make a change, quickly.  Last year I was very lucky and had the same students for first grade that I taught in kindergarten.  Essentially I looped with them for one year.  I thought it was the perfect time to make a change, the students knew my expectations.  I loved the change I made last year but was a little nervous that it would not work very well with students who had not already had me for a year.  22 days into the new school year and I still love it!

Basically, the students are responsible for reporting to their parents how their day went.  They rate their day a 3, 2, or a 1 based on their behavior and they write it in their assignment notebook.  We made a rubric together during the first week of school and it is hung in my classroom.

3 - I made good choices and followed the rules ALL day.
2- I made good choices and followed the rules MOST of the Day.
1 - I will work harder tomorrow to make good choices and follow the rules.

Notice there is no zero on my rubric.  I believe that every child can find at least SOMETHING that they did well, even if it was writing their name on all of their papers for the day or lining up quietly one time.

Each student has a behavior punch card that they are responsible for.  If I agree with the number they put in their assignment notebook I initial it and punch their card with my super special star hole punch.
The students get 2 punches for a 3, 1 punch for a 2 and 0 punches for a 1.  When they get their behavior card filled up, they get to pick out of my prize binder.  All of the prizes in my binder are FREE!  They don't cost me a penny!  Some of the prizes include:
1.  Stinky Feet Day (take off your shoes and relax while we are in our classroom)
2.  Line Swap (swap line spots with anyone but the leader)
3.  Bodacious Book (bring in a book for me to read aloud during snack)
4. Show and Tell
5. Zoo Day (bring a stuffed animal to school)
6. Wear a Hat in the classroom

I got this idea from a fabulous first grade blog (First Grade Fever) and adapted it fit my needs.  She already has the catalog and reward cards made for you. The best part is, they are FREE!!! Click HERE!

Click HERE for a copy of my Zebra behavior punch cards.  The zebra clip art is from Scrappin Doodles. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Patriot's Day

September 11th is always a difficult thing for me to talk about in the classroom.  I never know how much information to give the kids and what their parents really want them to know.  Today I basically gave them the large very brief overview.  We then talked a little bit about heroes.  I quickly realized that these kids had no idea what a real hero was.  All they knew was Batman, Spiderman, Superman etc.  I explained to them how firefighters and policemen and EMT's were heroes that day.  We made a venn diagram or super heroes verse real heroes.  It was fun to hear the kids talk about some real heroes they had in their own lives.  After that discussion we talked about why America is a great place to live.  We made the hearts below!
I found it here on TeachersPayTeachers!