Thursday, July 31, 2014

Math Mania Giveaway!

As much as it kills me, I think summer is coming to an end... and I have kind of been in denial about the fact that I'm changing grades because I am so unprepared... so you can imagine how THRILLED I was when the darling Gina from Third Grade Tidbits asked if I would be interested in reviewing her new "Math Mania" packet for third grade??  UMMM, YES please!! As I've said before, as much as I love to create things, why reinvent the wheel, right??  This was one thing that I had been looking EVERYWHERE for, and just couldn't find something that I loved.... Until now!

Math Mania consists of 36 weeks of math practice for your 3rd graders.  Each weekly page has 20 problems, and follows pretty much the same format from week to week, so once you do it with your students a few times, they start to get the hang of it.  I used something similar with my 2nd graders last year, and was surprised at how quickly they caught on.  After a few weeks, they were able to do the whole assignment on their own.  Now as I'm moving into third grade, I think this will be perfect for their weekly math homework... I'm going to try it with them in class for the first few weeks and see how it goes, but I think they will be fine!  In addition to the 36 weeks of practice, there is also an answer key for each week, which makes this packet perfect for emergency sub plans as well as self-starts, centers, homework, fast-finishers, or any other time you need something to enhance your math instruction.

Gina is offering two lucky readers a chance to win a copy of Math Mania... and if you stop by her TPT store, you can download a free preview and see what the first 2 weeks look like up close!  Ready to win??  Use the rafflecopter below to enter.  It closes Sunday at Midnight and the winners will be announced on Monday... along with another announcement that you won't want to miss!  Thanks for stopping by :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, July 27, 2014

2 Stars and a Wish {a back-to-school blog hop!}

Hi Everyone! I'm so excited to be participating in a fun back-to-school blog-hop this week... though it makes me sad to think that school starts in less than a month *sniff*.  I'm going to keep this short and to the point today.... the purpose of this hop is to share with you two tried-and-true "star ideas" that have worked well in my classroom, along with one "wish", or something I "wish" I were better at.
Numbering your students for a successful year:
This picture shows my mailboxes and cubbies with
their numbers printed in vinyl.
My first star idea, although definitely not my own original idea, is to always number your students!  I know it seems so simple, but it's AMAZING what a difference it makes to number your students.  Example: as a brand new teacher, I had a student get sick during recess, and was being checked out.  The secretary called into my room and asked me to send his backpack down to the office.  Ummm, seems easy enough, right? Well, his name was not written on his backpack! I had 29 students and many of the hooks on my coat rack were I had coats and backpacks EVERYWHERE. It was such a hassle to figure out which backpack belonged to him (and of course, EVERY student wants to help out, which only makes it worse)... fast forward to the end of my most recent school year... one of my students broke his arm at recess.  The secretary came to me and said she needed his backpack... I walked over to hook #8, grabbed his backpack and all the papers out of his mailbox, and just like that, he was on his way.  No classroom disruption, no scavenger hunt, just a few quick seconds and I'm back to teaching.  Numbering your students is also helpful for things like lining up for lunch, recesses, dismissal, assemblies, or anytime you need them in a line.  I got so tired of my boys fighting to be the LAST one in line almost as much as I got tired of girls fighting to be first... there's no more pushing and shoving when they are lining up, and no more scraped knees as they all race to get the coveted spots in line (I also rotate "line leaders" and "door closers" so that everyone gets a chance to stand in both places in line throughout the year, but that is the only exception to my number rule).  In first and second grade, I would also do things like "even numbers line up" or "numbers between 10 and 20 line up".... great basic number skills reviews as we get in line (and a quick way for me to see who understands even/odd and who doesn't!). Also, my students know that they are to write both their name AND number on every assignment, and I organize the papers in number order before correcting them... then the papers are in order as I enter scores in my gradebook.  The possibilities are really endless when you number your students, these are just a few of my favorite reasons to number them! (ALSO, I don't give my students their "official" number until around the 2nd week of school, especially if a few kiddos that are on my list haven't shown up yet... it never fails that a child will move in or out the day AFTER I number them, so I usually wait a week or so while the dust settles on the new school year).

My second star idea is to let the students grade themselves.  This is especially great for meet-the-teacher day, back-to-school night, or whatever you have at the beginning of the year.  I have blogged about my student-friendly reports before, and you can read more about them {HERE}, but seriously.... this is one of those things that after 9 years in the classroom, I wondered "why didn't I think of this before now?!"  This has been a great help throughout the year, and my students think it's soooo fun to make their own report card every time they come to a parent-teacher conference.  The parents also like that their child has to fill it out themselves, and set goals that they want to work on during the upcoming term.  This product is my featured freebie on TPT, so click on the picture to check it out in my store.

 My wish right now is to be more organized..... seeing as I am switching grades, I have NOTHING prepared... Denise @Sunny Days recently posted her long-range plans for the year, and I was green with envy!  I NEED to get more organized... I NEED to figure out some long-range plans... or any plans at all for that matter!!  If you click on the picture below, you can go read all about her awesome organization for the upcoming year, and even download a free template to get you started.... here's to hoping I can someday be as organized as she is!

If you enjoyed this star idea, please consider joining me on Facebook and Instagram for more great ideas.

For more star ideas more than 40 different bloggers, please browse through the link-up below and choose a topic that interests you. Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

3rd grade CCSS Objectives Posters

Welcome back to part two of the longest post ever :) I promise to keep this one short... so yesterday I mentioned that I am switching to 3rd grade... once reality set in, panic erupted... I have SO MUCH STUFF for 2nd grade... and nothing for 3rd... this is just one of the many reasons I am SO THANKFUL for TPT.... as much as I love making things, I really don't have a lot of time, so I am happy to  buy things to get me started... Don't get me wrong, I definitely have a few things in the works, I just don't have enough time right now (well, I suppose I do, but the swimming pool is only open until Labor Day, and winter is just so long and miserable, so I want to soak up the sun as much as possible while I can!)

Okay, enough with the rambling... as soon as I knew for sure that I would be teaching 3rd grade, I decided that one thing I was definitely going to make was objectives posters similar to the super darling ones I had been using from Denise at SunnyDays (click here if you don't know what I'm talking about....this is one of my all time FAVORITE purchases ever!!)  Denise's posters are actually part of an assessment pack, and I hope to make something similar in the future, but right now, I don't have time.

NOW, let me just say... I know that I am NOT the first person to make objectives posters, and I'm sure I'm not going to be the last person to ever make them.... I just have this little problem with fonts and clip art now that I'm making things on TPT.... I'm a bit of a font & clip art's a real thing, people!  So instead of settling for something that I didn't LOVE, I set out to make my own.... and let me just say, HOLY MOLY, the 3rd grade CCSS is confusing.  I feel like making these posters was mostly for my benefit because I learned SO MUCH in the process... {pssst... keep reading... there's a giveaway at the bottom!}

Not gonna lie, I am kind of in LOVE with how they turned out. These posters are going to make my life so much easier!! I am required to post my objectives each day, so I designed these posters to be displayed on my board at the front of the room. As soon as I can get into my school, I will take pictures of my objectives in action.... But for now, here's a little glimpse of what all is included in the packet...OH, one more important thing... someone asked on TPT about the size of the posters.... these have been saved as a PDF and can be printed on a full-size sheet of paper (standard 8.5 x 11)... You can make them smaller and print 2 or 4 posters per page by adjusting the print settings in adobe acrobat (I plan on doing 2 per page to save both paper and ink; 4 on a page might be just a little bit too small for the purpose of displaying your objectives)... these posters can also be enlarged at your local print shops (fedex-kinkos has an online uploading tool)... not sure that these would need to be enlarged seeing as there's so many of them, but I suppose if you have a burning desire to have jumbo posters, it is possible :) Now, without further ado, I proudly present to you my 3rd grade CCSS posters:

CCSS English Language Arts posters: includes a total of 58 posters!  Click on the cover to view the full description in my TPT store.
Here's a Language Arts poster - notice the kid-friendly language and graphics, as well as the "we are learning" and "we can" statements clearly printed at the top of each page.

Sample of one of the reading posters
Sneak peek at a few of the posters!

CCSS Math posters: includes a total of 34 posters! Click on the cover to view the full description in my TPT store.

Here's a math poster - again, all written in kid-friendly language with examples and hints to help clarify the CCSS standard being taught.

another cute math poster :)

I can't even handles the cuteness! These turned out even better than I pictured in my head!
both packs include two CCSS checklists... a student version that you can use to track data on each individual student, and a teacher version that allows you to track either the DATE you taught the concept, or the LESSON that covers the concept, if you have a required text to teach from... principals LOVE these!!
Click on the photo to buy the bundle (you save 25% when you buy them as a bundle!)

Still with me?!  I would LOVE to give a few packs away to some of my awesome readers... use the rafflecopter below to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Where have I been?!

Hello everyone! Sorry I've been MIA for so long.... I went to Hawaii for spring break, and I think I caught a severe case of island fever! I long to be back in the sun, enjoying the beauty of the Kauai Island, eating coconut pineapple ice cream and shave ice while listening to the sounds of the ocean.  I do plan on posting pictures soon, but first I want to catch up with you!!

here's one picture from my trip... I promise to post more soon!  How beautiful is this waterfall?!

This past year I took a few weekend technology classes and started looking into getting an endorsement in educational technology. The week I returned from Hawaii, my district announced that they were starting an ed-tech program in the fall.... I was sooooo excited.... I got my nomination turned in, then got the bad news that they were only allowing 3rd thru 6th grade teachers to participate (insert super sad face here... I may have shed a few tears).... I emailed them, pleased my case, but got nowhere. Second grade teachers were not allowed... The. End. They told me if I wanted to even be considered, I had to switch grades....well, in an amazing twist of fate, just a few days after this whole ordeal began, not one, but TWO third grade positions opened up in my school. I was at a training that day, so I quickly emailed my principal and asked to have one of the spots.... I wasn't guaranteed anything in regard to the ed-tech program by switching grades, but in order to apply, I HAD to be a 3rd grade teacher. Now, let me just explain.... I began 9 years ago as a 1st grade teacher.... I did 1st for one year, then moved schools and began teaching 2nd.... I immediately fell in love with 2nd grade and have been there ever sense (I have taught second grade at 3 different schools now, and have always said I wouldn't move unless I could teach 2nd!) I have now been teaching second grade for EIGHT years and have TONS of materials for 2nd grade.... I had even worked for a few years as a math specialist for second grade...  This was a tough decision to make.... But I feel so passionately about technology as the future of education, that I was willing to make the change and see where it led.

The next few weeks were torture.... I submitted my application and had an observation looming over my head (they didn't make appointments or tell us when they were coming, just that they would be out during the week)... I waited, and waited some more.... Sometime around mid-May, I finally got the news that I had been ACCEPTED into the ed-tech program!! I was soooo excited! This two-year program includes a smart board for my classroom, and a class set of chrome books for the students.... So you can imagine just how excited I was..... Except, that my excitement was quickly replaced with a bit of panic along the lines of "What have I gotten myself into?" And "I don't know how to teach third grade!" So that's why I've been MIA lately.... The last 2 months of school were just pure "survival mode", followed by 2 weeks of training for 3rd grade common core (which kind of scared me!!)

Still with me? Sorry for the novel!! Anyway, so I am now home from all my vacations and can start focusing on third grade. Holy moly, there is SO MUCH to learn!! Between teaching a new grade, and doing the ed-tech endorsement, I really can't make any promises right now for how much I'll be around or how much I'll be creating. I have a list a mile long of things I would like to do, but right now, my top priority is figuring out my new grade and integrating technology into my classroom.

 With that in mind, I am so happy to share with you my latest project....except, wow, this post is already huge and you’re probably bored… SOOOO…. Come back tomorrow to read all about my latest product (annnnd, there might just be a little *giveaway* if you come back… just sayin’!)  If you follow me on Facebook and Instagram, you already know what I’m talking about.  Ok, see you tomorrow :)  I'm off to see WICKED with my mom, aunts, and cousin tonight.... EEK! I LOVE me some Wicked!!

Sunday, July 20, 2014


** Warning: Prepare for picture overload :) **

This past week I went to Las Vegas for the first ever TPT seller conference and all I can say is WOW! I am still in awe of all the amazing people I met and all the great things I learned. I appreciated hearing everyone's stories and their TPT journeys... It was great to be surrounded by others who share the same passion and vision and to see that we're all in different places in our journey, and that's okay. As Deanna Jump said, it's all about quality, not quantity (though we all got a good laugh when she first said "it's all about quantity, not quality!" LOL!!!)  I would rather make one great product than five mediocre ones.

One of the highlights I enjoyed was finally MEETING so many of my "friends" that I've made through TPT and blogs.  I have to admit that it was a little overwhelming to be at a conference with 743 other TPT'ers (yes, TPT Amy knew the EXACT count of how many attendees there were!) but it a was such a great week! There was also a teacher-blogger meet-up on Wednesday sponsored by the darling gals at "What the Teacher Wants" and it was a blast! 600+ teacher-bloggers visiting, socializing, taking pictures, and being starstruck by the all-star bloggers in the room!  Oh, and did I mention we all got free scentos markers and pens?? That's right!!  
helping put swag bags together for the #2014vegasmeetup
Top left: Me, Lory, Rachelle; Top right: Mel D.; bottom left: Corinna; Bottom right: Sally, Tanja
Top: Utah bloggers (thanks @whattheteacherwants for the great photo), plus the one and only DEANNA JUMP, who jumped into our photo at the last second! Bottom: some of the darlings from "The Primary Chalkboard"; top right: Christina, middle: Corinna (again... guess I just love her a LOT!); bottom: The fabulous Greg, aka Kindergarten Smorgasbord 
This was a shot of the crowd on Wednesday night.... Oh. My. Word.  It was so crowded and overwhelming, but awesome!!

Here are a few of my photo highlights from the week :) (and to all the sellers who I didn't get a chance to meet or visit with, I sincerely apologize... I seriously get so overwhelmed with large crowds and sometimes it was more than I could handle!! But I love and adore all of you and look forward to meeting even more "friends" next summer!!)

Disclaimer: Lory would like you to know that she doesn't wear purple cowboy hats everywhere... only in TPT photo booths :)

Me with Paul Edelman, the founder of TPT.... such a nice and humble guy! (and a good sport to pose for photo after photo after photo!!)

The LOVELY Jen Jones from Hello Literacy... I *adore* this gal so much, and was so sad we didn't have time to sit down and chat :( Please come to Utah and visit me!!  I LOVE everything Jen makes... her graphic organizers were a staple in my classroom this past year!

Selfie time: Top left: Kimberly Geswein, right: Deanna Jump (couldn't resist a selfie with her!); bottom left: Marie; right: Shelley Gray

In addition to attending the TPT conference, I was able to enjoy some good old Vegas sight seeing and pool time. Here's a few of my highlights.
if you're following me on Instagram, you may have already seen this photo.... our first day altogether, and what do we do??  Play on our phones, of course!!

M&M World... you could just SMELL the deliciousness...

I saw this in the Margaritaville gift shop and had to snap a picture.... I wish I were living my life in flip flops, but after breaking my toe TWICE this summer while wearing flip flops, I have put mine away :( dang broken toe!!

the only kind of "shots" Lory and I did while in Vegas.... Coca-cola tastes of the world... Very interesting to say the least.  I think my favorite was Pineapple from Greece and Kiwi Mango from South Africa.  Don't worry, we bought some good ol' American Coke too while we were there!
Swimming at the Palazzo pool... working hard, or hardly working?! (notice the cute tote bag we got from TPT when we picked up our conference registration materials... these are my school colors, so I might use the bag this year!)

Fun times sight-seeing and meeting new friends :)

I also fulfilled one of my childhood dreams by attending my first ever New Kids On the Block concert. That's right. Be jealous!! It was so much fun.

We were a *little* bit tired at this point... it was Friday night AFTER the TPT convention and our "wild" night on the strip... But still SO worth it!
Big shout out to my wonderful roommate Lory... Be sure to check out her blog and store... Everything she makes is amazing and I am always in awe of her talent!

to all my new friends.... a message from Elvis, and Nikki, aka Melonheadz!
I'm already looking forward to #tptvegas2015 :) who's with me?!


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Feeling "positively radiant" with Aveeno!

Today I want to quickly talk to you about skin care. I have the most sensitive skin on the planet.... Even my dermatologist is amazed at all the problems my poor skin has, and how easily it can break out in a rash from the most mild skin care treatments.

Anyway, one of my sweet bloggy buddies recently invited me to become an "influenster" and I was so excited when I received my first #voxbox (have you seen these things on Instagram?! I swoon with jealousy every month!)  I received a free sample of Aveeno's positively radiant targeted tone corrector which is designed to even your skin tone. I spend a LOT of time at the pool in the summer, so I knew this would be perfect for my skin! I have been using this twice a day for the past week, and can already see some changes with the dark spots around my eyes. I put it on each morning before using any other moisturizers or makeup, then put it on again at night after I wash my face.

Be sure to follow me on Instagram to see my before and after pictures, which I will be posting later on this month, and follow other bloggers by searching #RadiantWithAVEENO on Instagram and facebook.

So talk to me.... What is your one must-have skin care item?!

Stay tuned for my recap of #tptvegas2014 as well as a few new products I'm working on.

Disclosure: I received this product complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.