Christmas Cheer! Holiday Fun with My Students!

This has been an exciting, fun-filled yet very hectic and exhausting week, however we made it through while at the same time enjoying the magic of the holiday season. Today was my final day to enjoy being with my students until I see them next year in 2015.  To keep my students on task and on their very best behavior, I introduced them to the elf on the shelf at the beginning of this month. This was something that I've never tried before in my classroom, but I have to say the students loved it.  I explained to the students that our elf would be watching over all of them and he would report to Santa and let him know who has been naughty and who has been nice. Each night, he moved to a new location in our classroom. Students were eager to find his new spot each morning as they arrived. I tried to keep our classroom on a typical schedule with "business as usual" as much as possible throughout the month of December. Thankfully, there were some really good days this month in which the students were very well behaved and surprised me with their very best work. There were also those days where I felt like pulling my hair out, as a few of my challenging students were just too hyped up, unable to sit for even a few minutes and focus in or follow directions. I did have to reflect on some of these difficult moments with these challenging students and implement a couple of new behavior strategies and behavior charts to keep them on track. I do have a behavior chart that I implemented with my entire class that I've used since the beginning of the year, however these students needed something a little more target specific to assist them with their needs. I believe effective teachers never stop reflecting on their student's needs and constantly make changes to help support them. I am hoping that these new changes will help support them when we come back from our holiday break.  

Today was such a fun-filled, magical day at school and I just have to share it with you. Our entire school enjoyed "Pajama Day" and students were all invited to see the "Polar Express" movie in the gym. Each student had to earn a "Polar Express" ticket for good behavior throughout the week. Hats off to all our staff members who put together and helped out with this special event. My students met their third grade reading buddy partners before arriving to the gym. We sang holiday songs and I enjoyed reading one of my favorite holiday books to all the students entitled "Dream Snow" by Eric Carle. While watching the movie, students enjoyed an intermission break and drank hot chocolate and sugar cookies as a special treat. At the end of the movie students were surprised by Santa as he passed out Christmas bells to all the students. My students enjoyed taking home the small presents that I gave them along with presents they made to take home to their families. I was pleasantly showered with some gifts from my students and their families. It is amazing to feel so appreciated. Some families are just so incredibly generous, thoughtful and kind. Each year, I let my students know that the greatest gift that they can give me is the gift of being respectful and kind and to always try and do their best. It was truly a magical day and I feel so blessed. This is such a joyous time of year and I am hoping that all my teacher friends enjoy their much deserved holiday break.      


It's the Best Time of The Year! Time to go shopping on Cyber Monday.

     I hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving break with family and friends. Can you believe it~ tomorrow is already December and Cyber Monday Sales will be off and running. Did you do some shopping this Black Friday and cash in on some great deals? This is my first year that I actually decided to stay home and try to relax after spending a very hectic week with finalizing report cards, parent teacher conferences and preparing a Thanksgiving feast for nine people. This week, I also lost my precious cat named Grover to an illness. He was only three years old. That little ball of fur brought me so much joy and it is just so hard letting him go. I brought him home from a shelter when he was just 3 months old and I loved spending every precious moment with him. My husband called me while I was in the midst of parent conferences to inform me of the terrible news. Apparently, he had a rare feline illness which caused fluids to build up and after being on a feeding tube at the vet hospital for three days, we had to make that horrible decision that no pet owner wants to make. I am so thankful for the time I spent having Grover in my life and spending time with family has helped ease my heartache. I may not have been in the mood for shopping this weekend, but I am hoping that the month of December will brighten my spirit. I look forward to tomorrow and featuring my teacher stores in the biggest holiday sales. I have a few holiday fun activities that I'm excited to share with my teacher friends. They were a big hit with my last year's class and I look forward to using them with my class this year.

In Memory of Grover~RIP

Enjoy your holiday shopping and most importantly take some time to enjoy spending time with the ones you love the most. 

You Ought Know About Tsu- The Exciting, New Social Media that Pays You

I am so excited to be linking up with some amazing bloggers for this fun blog hop full of classroom ideas. Thanks to Jasmine from Buzzing with Mrs. McClair for hosting.
This awesome poster was created by Shelly Reese. 

Can you believe that you can actually earn some cash while doing things that you would normally be doing on Social Media? Tsu pronounced (Sue) is a brand new social media that works just like Facebook. It is super easy to get started and best of all it is free to join. You can use my link
You can simply use your same profile pictures and covers that you use on Facebook.  Just like Facebook, you will have your timeline that shows your original content and the content shared by those you friend and follow. Yes, you will see advertisers on your page just like in other types of social media but this time you won't mind it as much because it is through these advertisements that you can potentially earn money. Did you know that Facebook and Twitter measure financial success in the billions for every quarter by placing advertisers near the things you post on those sites? They rely on your activity on those sites to get those advertisements out there. Are you sick and tired of the way Facebook limits your followers by seeing your posts? On Tsu, what you post is what your followers will see in their feed.  Tsu is a brand new social media that just started last month and it promises to pay royalties to users who help the company make money and grow by posting photos and other content. Tsu offers a breakdown of their algorithm that better illustrates how you would get paid on this platform. Here is the link if you are interested.

Essentially, the more interesting content you post and the more friends and followers you receive, the better likelihood you will earn some cash. It is that simple. So give it a try, you have got nothing to loose. Don't be afraid to get started. It will take you less than five minutes to get your page up and ready to go.  

 Wow! Look how fast this social network is growing and how much time people are spending on Tsu. Can you believe it?

You Ought Know About Safety Tips

As you begin the school year with your new class, it is so important to teach students ways to stay safe in school, at home and in the community. Students begin to realize the importance of classroom rules and why we have them. Children feel at ease and are more apt to focus their energy on their school work when they are in a classroom that has established routines and clearly defined rules. Students need to know that school is a safe place to be and that you truly care about each and every one of them. They need to know that if there is something that is bothering them that they can go to you and talk about it. Students also need to know other adults in the school that they can turn to in times of need. Children learn that being safe is making the right decisions and not letting peers persuade them into doing something that is not safe. 

There are so many terrific safety books and videos to support almost any grade level. Here is a list of fantastic books to get started on some great class conversations about safety in the Primary Grades. While having conversations about safety with young children, it is important to stay positive and teach students to focus on finding solutions and making safe choices rather than frightening them in any way.

"What Does It Mean To Be Safe?" by Rana DiOrio
"I Can Be Safe: A First Look at Safety" by Pat Thomas
"Arthur's Fire Drill" by Marc Brown
"Officer Buckle and Gloria" by Peggy Rathman
"The Berenstain Bears Safe and Sound!" by Jan Berenstain
"Be Careful and Stay Safe" by Cheri J. Meiners 
"Watch Out!At Home" by Claire Llewellyn

Students can share what they learned about safety by answering writing prompts on a variety of topics  found in my "Safety Tips" product. Students can share what they learned about classroom rules, playground safety, bus safety, water safety, fire safety, bike safety and more. 

If you are interested in these writing prompts on kid friendly lined paper, check out the following links.

A Fresh New Start With a Terrific Group of Students!

It is exciting to be back in school and starting out fresh with a terrific group of kindergartners who are eager to learn. My students first day was Tuesday. Yes! I do have my challenging students but I will do my best to accommodate their needs and support all my students to have a memorable, successful year.  Building classroom culture, learning the rules and establishing routines is priority. Through my years of teaching kindergarten, I've learned that you have to expect the unexpected.  "Anything goes in kindergarten." You just can't assume anything. Students need to learn in very detailed, simple, step by step directions on how to do the simplest things such as how to wash hands, sit quietly in circle, use the restrooms properly, line up quietly in the hallways and a host of other routines. Before the students walked through the doors for the very first time, I spent hours and hours setting up my classroom. The following pictures show what I've done this year to make my classroom an inviting happy place to learn.

I just love Owls and have an Owl theme going on throughout my classroom. I can't wait to hang up the student's pictures on our "Look Who's In Our Room" bulletin board.
Here is a view of the front of my classroom. I have a Mimio Board and Elmo in my class and use this technology often as I present new material. Don't you just love arriving to school with all the shiny, sparkling  floors. Our custodians did an amazing job getting our school ready! 
  This picture shows the back of our classroom where we have our meetings on the carpet.  The blue felt board will display "Words We Know" as words are introduced. You can see a center chart in which students are assigned literacy choices and calendar work.

Each table has a caddy with classroom supplies that are easily accessible to all my students. These caddy containers hold everything. I  found the wire bin holder that holds my dry erase boards on the bottom, and  three long plastic bins on the top from Really Good Stuff. This year I found smaller caddys that fit perfectly within the plastic bins to hold scissors and glue sticks. I use the soap boxes that I found from Stop and Shop for only 69 cents to store my crayons.  You will notice the yellow name tags at the tables. They are wooden paint sticks that I spray painted and added owl stickers and velcro to the back. Home Depot let me have them for free. I bet if you walked into any hardware store and asked for a few paint sticks that they would be happy to give them to you also. These name plates last the entire year and I can easily switch seating arrangements since they have velcro on the back. On the right you can see our individual bins to hold leveled books, student work, and journals.  
Here is my desk. Notice the bulletin board off to the side of it. I run off all my important schedules and calendars on different colored paper so I can easily find it. I can easily find pens, scissors, markers and other supplies as they are hung in a clear plastic shoe bin beside my desk. You can see my cones I got from the dollar store to place at tables of students doing amazing work. My green bell is used for transition time and clean up time.  

This is one of my favorite bulletin boards. Each year I hang up praise notes or post them in the pockets for students showing positive behaviors and acts of kindness. We use the PeaceBuilders program at our school and the PeaceBuilder virtues are posted. 
 Here is our lunch board/ attendance board. I use the side of my filing cabinet with colored tape to segment the different choices each day. I wrote students names on wooden cloud shaped pieces and attached magnets to the back. Students check in as soon as they arrive to school.  I did make picture lunch cards with a wide variety of lunch choices. You can find these at my teacher stores. 
I am soo lucky this year! My classroom just received three brand new touch screen computers with Windows 8. I am not used to Windows 8 and I've got a lot to learn as I program these computers for my students but I just can't wait to get started. 

Do you have a blog with pictures of your classroom as you set it up for this year? I'd love to see it. I always love to be inspired by other new creative ways to organize and get ready for the school year. Please comment below and I will be sure to check it out.

Get An Extra Boost to Your Back to School Shopping

Did you know that Teachers Pay Teachers will be doing another Back to School Sale? Teachers Pay Teachers had held their annual Back to School Sale at the beginning of August but after more data about starting dates, the decision was made to host an additional sale on August 20th. It's meant to give a boost to this new upcoming school year. So, if you missed the last sale or want to pick up those items on your wish list, now is the time to shop. Take advantage of the great savings. My store will be discounted 20% and you can get an extra 8% off when you use the promo code: boost. This includes my bundle sets which are already discounted and will provide you with tremendous savings. I will extend my sale for an additional day to provide you with 20% off on August 21st, however you will not be able to use the special promo code to get the extra 8% off.

Happy Shopping and Enjoy Your School Year!

You Oughta Know About Using Soap Boxes for Classroom Supplies

I am so excited to be linking up with some amazing bloggers for this fun blog hop full of classroom ideas. Thanks to Jasmine from Buzzing with Mrs. McClair for hosting.

You oughta know about using soap boxes for classroom supplies. I found these hinged soap box containers for only 69 cents at Stop & Shop and I just love them! You will find them in the trial sized section of your store. You can also find them at Walmart for 97 cents.  They are the perfect size for storing crayons. There is even enough room in each container to store the fat crayons that I use with my kindergartners. We all know that crayon boxes just don't last. My students work at tables and do not have individual desks of their own. The larger sized pencil boxes that you see in the major department stores and office supplies stores  seem to take up too much space on the tables and leave little room for students to work. These little boxes fit inside of the one storage bin that I have set on each table filled with other supplies such as scissors, glue sticks, dry erase markers, etc. In the past, I always had the students share crayons that were at each table, however after awhile there always seemed to be issues with not finding the right color and too many students from the table reaching in from the same bin caused problems. Students will now have to take more responsibility for their own crayon supplies. If they choose to break them, then they are stuck with broken crayons. Hopefully, students will take better care of their supplies this year. I bet teachers could use these little travel sized soap boxes for so many other things in the classroom or even at home to organize your junk drawers.The best part is the price.If you are like me you are always looking for affordable creative ideas.
Soap boxes are the perfect storage solution

I made these adorable owl chevron labels to go on top of them. Owls are all the rage and I think they came out cute. You can find these editable storage labels at my store.    

You can also use them on those popular rolling carts you find in Walmart and Target. Here is a picture of my rolling cart. I have another one that I am going to redecorate this year with these labels.

As you can see I am just crazy about owls. I just love decorating my classroom with them. I just created these adorable clipboards with owl chevron paper. Do you have those ugly brown clipboards hanging around in your class? You might want to try and jazz them up with some decorative paper and stickers or ribbons on the top. Just apply clear contact paper on top of your pretty printed paper and you are good to go. I was able to grab a small roll of clear contact paper at Dollar Tree. 


If you really like my set and you do not feel like creating your own. You can also get this at my stores and customize it with your name or whatever else you would like to put. 

While you are here, please be sure to check out my previous post on this blog for a chance to win 10.00 at my TN store. Just scroll down and enter.  It is super easy. You can enter the rafflecopter with just a few options. There are very few entries so far, so the chances of you winning are GREAT!!   

I have just a couple of more weeks of summer left, but I've been so busy getting things ready for my class. Enjoy what is left of your summer and have a wonderful school year! Have fun with the rest of this blog hop. 
There are so many great ideas in store for you. 

Sweepstakes 100 prizes******Extreme Back To School Sale******Aug. 9-12***Plus Bonus Giveaway

Wow!  Teacher's Notebook will be having an amazing sale. Don't miss out on EXTREME savings. I've discounted my entire store 30% off and you can get an additional 10% off. Can't wait to enter this year's sweepstakes for a $10.00 gift certificate. Since they are giving out 100 prizes, you might want to enter because the odds of winning are not that bad. To make this even sweeter, I've decided to have my own sweepstakes. You could win $10.00 worth of products at my store. My Giveaway starts  now and ends on Aug. 15th. It is super easy to enter. Just check out the Rafflecopter below to get started.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

BLAST OFF to Back to School with an Amazing Sale!

I am SO not ready to go back to school yet (we still have a month of summer in MA) HOWEVER this is the time to start stocking up for the school year because Teachers Pay Teachers is throwing their annual Back-To-School Sale. My store will be 20% off- the WHOLE thing, including my bundle packs. Be sure to use the promo code BTS14 to get an additional savings adding up to 28% off. Wowza! That is amazing savings especially if you are purchasing bundles which already have 20%-25 %off. You could end up getting products in these bundles for less than half price. This summer I've updated my store and added many new products and bundles just in time for Back to School. I can't wait to share them with you and use some of these products in my classroom with my kinders. Check out some of the amazing products below.

Cookie Monster Math Fun with Tissue Boxes                            Fall Bundle Pack


              Teacher Evaluation Evidence Portfolio Binder                                  Owltastic Bundle  

Enjoy the rest of your summer! Take advantage of the incredible savings as you "Blast Off" into another school year!

How To Use Free Online Animated Gifs and Create Exciting Pins

I just recently discovered the Free Online Animated Gif and I just love it. It is so easy to create a mini slide show and post. I just started using it to create animated Gifs on Pinterest to try and promote some of the products I created this summer. I am happy to see that these pins seem to be getting more attention as they are repinned more often than regular sized pins or even some of my longer style pins. Here is the link to get started.

Begin by created your product as you normally would on Powerpoint or Word and save as JPEGS or PNG's. I ususally just save them to my desktop to make it easy for me to find. Next, open up gifmaker and upload the slides you want. You can rearrange them in any order you want. I uploaded a few slides from my Kindergarten Back to School Bundle to show as an example.   Your screen will look like this.
 On the top where it says canvas slide, I just leave it at 100% 720 X 960.  Next, you will need to select animation speed. This tells how many seconds between slides. I just set mine to about 3400 miliseconds. As I count in my head, it is about 5 seconds between switching to the next slide. You can set music to the slides only from YOU Tube, but keep in mind that this music will not be playing on Pinterest. Once you are happy with the order of your slides, click create now at the bottom of the screen. Then hit download the Gif Image now. It should go directly into your picture folder. 

Next, if you want to use these images on Pinterest, you will need to open up your Pinterest page and hit the + sign next to your name. Click on upload a pin and choose your Gif Image from your files. Write out your pin description and do not forget to link it back to your TPT or TN store. 

Below is the example of my Gif found on Pinterest.  If you click on the image below, it will enlarge on your screen to even get a closer look. This is pretty cool! There are some boards on Pinterest that do not allow you to pin long pins and this is just another way to show off your products. Learning how to create animated pins was one of my summer goals. I am so happy that I learned how and now I can share this information with you. It is super easy and it only takes about five minutes to upload a great looking pin. Since I am out for the summer and these are brand new products, I do not have pictures of the kids using them as of yet. However, it is great to show slides of your products actually being used in your classroom. 

Another one of my summer goals was to create lots more products. I really wanted to have 100 products posted by August 1st. I am so excited to have reached this goal. I worked for several hours with my head buried  behind my laptop this summer to finally get there. I was even able to make a few bundle packs. Below are slides from one of the bundle packs I put together. I began created products for TPT during my February vacation in 2013. It has taken time to reach 100 products. Most of the products I posted were during my winter, spring or summer breaks. I just can't seem to be productive during the school year, since every ounce of my energy needs to be focused in on my kindergarten class. I am hoping these animated Gifs will bring some more attention to my store and I am hoping this tutorial helps you to be more successful. I learned so much from reading the forums and I am so very grateful for all that I have learned so far from some amazing teachers. Now it is time that I give back something I learned and pass it on to you. Keeping my fingers crossed that we can all be successful. Happy Pinning with your new animated Gifs! 

Happy 4th of July~Enjoy savings at my stores.

Happy 4th of July. I hope your day is spectacular. Have fun with your family and friends.  Enjoy special savings at my teacher stores today and tomorrow. I've been super busy updating products and creating lots of exciting new ones. I've only been out of school for nine days. The summer goes by soo quickly. We had so many snow days here in New England, therefore we got out of school pretty late. My summer will be cut short. This year our district will be starting a few days before Labor Day. I know for some of you that you start at the beginning of August.  I will continue uploading lots more during the upcoming weeks to help you get  prepared  for back to school. Check out my stores and enjoy these special savings.

You're Simply The Best

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! I know how incredibly hard teachers work throughout the year. Please take some time off and do something special for yourself. Take a moment to recognize all the accomplishments and growth your students have made this year. I am very excited to be a part of this blog hop as we honor  our fellow teachers and thank them for all they do.  Here is a special activity that has been a huge success in our classroom and I am delighted to be sharing it with you.

Some of the students in our class were struggling with subtraction. I decided to create a "Subtraction Bowling" activity to help support the idea of taking things away and thinking about how many are left. Bowling is a fun activity and something that most students can easily relate to. I am a hands on teacher and I love to get the kids up and moving. So I decided to purchase a small plastic bowling set at Walmart for under ten dollars. I have to admit that I was feeling a little uneasy at first as I was unsure of how well the lesson would go. I thought to myself "Oh boy, is this going to get my students crazy acting and out of control."  I explained the rules carefully to my students and let my student know that they had to sit quietly behind the lines near our pretend bowling alley to stay safe, if they wanted a turn to bowl.. To set up my pretend bowling alley, I took a long piece of colored bulletin board paper and set up the pins behind it.
At first, we just started with five pins and I let some of the students bowl. I then added more pins and let more student bowl. We kept adding pins as we went along. After each student bowled, I had them go up to the whiteboard and write a number sentence to go along with how well they bowled. You could also pass out small whiteboards while the students are waiting their turn to bowl and have all the students record the information. This activity was a BIG HIT and such a HUGE success. They all loved it, and the best part was they did not act up or act crazy at all. Students were happily cheering on their classmates and very willing to think about the subtraction equations. We followed up this activity with some subtraction bowling worksheets. After doing this activity for a few days, even my struggling students were successfully subtracting.

Check out this activity at

Continue on The Best for the Best Teacher Appreciation Blog Hop by clicking the picture below.

Check out a Rafflecopter giveaway in which you could win this activity that I just donated to you as well as 55 best selling classroom resources by some amazing Kindergarten and First grade teachers. Best of Luck!

April Literacy Centers

Me On The Map Mini Book

Egg-cellent Spelling
Noun Sort
Sentence Fences
Earth Day Activity
Bunny Bags
      Literacy Centers       
Short U Umbrellas

     Don't you just love this time of the year. All the hard work and effort that you have put into your classroom is starting to make a huge difference. I am pleased with all the gains my students have made this year. Literacy Center Time is my absolute favorite time of the day.Yes!!! Indeed, it is mighty hectic as there is so much going on at the same time. This is the chance where they get to practice all those skills that you have taught them. Here are a few snapshots of some of the things that my students are working on. Since I've been busy taking a few snapshots, I will most definitely be adding some of these to my Teacher Evidence Based Portfolio. Now that the students are used to the routines, it is much easier to take a few seconds and snap some photos.  Each week my centers include an art activity, science activity and lots of hands on literacy activities. I also have a couple of pocket chart activities that my students are busy doing. While the students are busy at their center activities, I am doing a guided reading lesson with a small group. Each center activity usually has no more than four students.We rotate activities throughout the week.The pictures shown are their first must do activity.If students do finish early, they have  differentiated extra work that is provided in their work bins to complete. 

Some of my centers explained.

Noun Sort- Students sort magnetic wooden fish onto the correct pond to include person, place or thing.

Egg-cellent Spelling- Students put together egg shells to make CCVC and CVC words.

Me On the Map Book-Students draw maps of their room, house, street, town and color maps of their state, country and globe.

Sentence Fences- Students read a sentence and decide the correct punctuation mark. (Super easy to put together and make)

Earth Day Activity- Students sort picture cards that they can reuse, reduce and recycle  

Bunny Bags- Students use some tracers and their own creativity to assemble these bags. As a special treat, I will surprise my students by putting in a couple of special treats at the end of this week. (Not candy or food)

Short u umbrellas-We did this one two weeks ago. Students made paper plate umbrellas and cut out raindrops. They were asked to write words with short u on each raindrop.  

Each of my centers include a recording sheet after they have finished the hands on activity. Hope you gained some ideas for your upcoming literacy centers. Happy Spring!!!