Sunday, December 30, 2012

What's Ahead in 2013 Linky

Happy Sunday!

I am joining Michelle at Making It  As a Middle School Teacher for a Linky on What's Ahead in 2013.  There seem to be quite a few Linky Parties out there right now (that's what happens when you get close to December 31 - lot's of parties happen!). 

I'll comment on a few of my notes:
- I love the book Stone Fox because I am a dog lover, and last year my third graders couldn't get enough of it!  This piece of literature also provided the focus for many lessons.  It's an oldie but a goodie!

-I'm slowly working my way to 100 followers - it may be time for a give-a-way.  Any suggestions?

-I have moved classrooms a couple of times, and my closets are stuffed with the things I brought, along with the items that were already in the classroom.  I just need time to sort through it all.

-I would love to set up a webinar sharing session with the third grade teachers in the other 16 schools in my district. I have done a couple through NSTA, and they are so cool!

-I just started Bruce Springsteen's biography that was written in 2012.  I am a big fan of the Boss!

Hope you'll join in on this linky!

Thursday, December 27, 2012


I am posting twice in one day!  I have come across another linky party in my blog stalking today and wanted to share it with you because there are some great prizes involved.
In this very clever linky you can share photos from school or home, and win great prizes from Miss Nelson, at Run - She's Got the Camera fame.

I just created an Animoto video from some photos I took during our class gift exchange last Friday.  I love Animoto because you can easily make 30 second videos from photos with music for free!  You can upgrade to a longer video (which I did) for $5 a month.  I then send the link to the videos to my students' parents through e-mail, or post them on our Edmodo site.

View our video here:

Bluster iPad App

Hope you are all enjoying the holiday week!  I am loving the time spent with family and friends, the eating, the sleeping, and time to do whatever! 

I've been wanting to share some of the iPad apps we've been using in my third grade classroom.  I do small group stations during our WIN time - which some of you may know as RTI time.  The WIN acronym stands for "What I Need" - I know, kind of lame, and not sure who in our district came up with it.  Anyway - one of my stations is always computer, and use of the one iPad I have is part of that station. 

I assign various apps to use each week, and one that I have used is called Bluster.  It is put out by McGraw-Hill, and reinforces literacy skills.  It is FREE! There are options for grades 2-4 and I have my third graders use all of them. 
In this game, students have to group words with similar suffixes.  Once they have sorted all the words in this level, another group of about 15 words comes up to sort.  I do wish there was an audio button to pronounce the words.  I would ask the students to read them as they sorted.  My groups have a splitter attached to the iPad so that more than one child can work on these games at the same time.
There are explicit directions on how to play, and students can play alone or with partner.  It's called Bluster because there is some weather that comes in as a "disruptor".

I would love to hear about any apps you're using in your classroom.  I got quite a few iTunes gift cards this year to purchase apps for the classroom.  For more great ideas, go to Kathleen's website at Growing Kinders for this link party!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Nice Parent Gift!

We had a snow day (yay!) on Thursday, but it really put a crimp in my parent gift preparation schedule.  My students were on fast forward on Friday finishing them up, and I even had to deliver one to a student's house today because it hadn't finishing drying by the end of the day yesterday.  I think the gifts turned out quite nicely, if I do say so myself.

On a shopping trip to Marshalls in early December I found a decorated Christmas box that I just fell in love with.  It became the inspiration for a wall hanging that we made for the parents.  My practice one kinda looked like one of those Pinterest fails but I tweaked a couple of things so the student ones turned out better.

Here are the steps:
1. I spray painted the edges of a 8 X 11 artist canvas.  I found these in packs of ten at Michaels.  They were on sale for $14.99 and I used my teacher discount for an additional 15% off.  Also, I had asked each of the students to bring in $2 for Christmas crafts.  The spray paint I used was a gold glitter color.

2. Then the students used white acrylic paint to cover the middle part of the canvas.  I created a stencil to cover the top outside edges so they remained gold.
3. Next I used a gray fabric paint to make a border right along the edge of the white paint.  The students used gray paint to sponge a tree in the center of the white.  I found a tree shape online and adjusted the size to fit on our 8 X 11 canvas.  After the sponge painting was dry, I used white glitter glue to make lines criss-crossing the tree to represent strings of lights.

4. Last, the students decorated the canvas with round silver and white glitter stickers, stars, and snowflakes.  I had found these items at Michaels, Hobby Lobby, and JoAnns - all on sale, of course!
The Final Product!  The picture really doesn't do it justice  - they turned out so cute!
Here is a picture of the box that was my inpiration -

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Snow Day in the Little Apple, and Gifts for Students

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!  We currently have about 6 inches of the white stuff on the ground, and the skies are gray and filled with fat, fast-moving flakes.  We have a blizzard warning people.  And you might know what that means.................snow day!  They even called it last night - which is a rare occurence. The powers that be usually wait until the morning of, in case it's a hoax.  :)

Snowblowing - Round 1
I had to do some quick planning on Wednesday - we are still in school this week, and we had been working on a gift for the parents (which I will post this weekend).  The gift project involved painting, and time was needed in between layers for drying.  So, some of them are done, but there are minor details and wrapping that still have to be taken care of tomorrow.  Geez - I hope the blizzard works its way on out of here so we can finish things tomorrow before the break.
This morning I was able to put the students' gifts together. Right before school started I happened upon a great deal at Office Depot - the white plastic pencil boxes were on sale for 1cent - that's right - a penny!  So of course I scooped up 28 of them for my third graders.  I had some polka dot duct tape I had purchased at JoAnn's for less than a dollar, and then added a label with their names written in cursive.  Inside the pencil box I put some candy, and a $5 gift certificate from Scholastic that was sent for free in the most recent book order.  I am also giving them a Christmas joke book obtained with Scholastic points. 
What are you giving your students? 

Monday, December 10, 2012

12 in 12 Linky Party

Hey - I'm finally creating a post!  I am joining Miss Kindergarten and The Teeny Tiny Teacher for their fabulous year in review, know as the 12 in 12 Linky Party!
12. Favorite movie you watched:
Hmm - it seems like I haven't seen many movies this year, but I would have to say Hunger Games.  I really want to see that new movie that is out, called "Playing For Keeps".
11. Favorite TV series:
I have a few favorites (including Survivor, The Amazing Race, and Parenthood) but my current top fave is Nashville!  I love the mix of music and drama in that show.
10. Favorite restaurant:
There is a local Italian place that serves yummy food, and has a quaint outside eating area.  It's called Cannova's.
9. Favorite new thing you tried:
Hand's down (literally) - it's my iPad.  I wrote a grant for it last Spring and my students use it everyday. I take it home on the weekends to play around with it.  I did an update this weekend, and now Siri is on it! 
8. Favorite gift you got:
I've gotten some nice gifts this year, but a gift that means a lot to me is the work my neighbors do for me.  I had a really busy Fall season, and I came home at least three times to find all the leaves cleared from my yard, and the lawn cut and trimmed.  I told my neighbor he is my "Yard Angel"
7. Favorite thing you pinned:
I pinned an end of the year gift for parents that matched our Camp Learned-a-Lot Theme.  So cute!
6. Favorite blog post:
The post about the border I used on my math board - I've seen it floating around Pinterest, and am so proud and honored. 
5. Best accomplishment:
I was one of two teachers from Wisconsin selected to attend the Mickelson/ExxonMobil Teachers Academy this past summer.  It was an all expenses paid trip to the NYC area.  I met so many inspiring teachers that I now call friends.  I wish I could relive the experience every summer!
4. Favorite picture:
A friend and my niece joined me in NYC following the Teachers Academy, and we had so much fun in the Big Apple.  Here is a shot my friend took of my niece and I as we explored Central Park on rented bikes.
3. Favorite memory:
All the fun we had in NYC - this is a pic of my friend Jenny following a woman in Chinatown.  We were going to buy purses - shhhh!
2. Goal for 2013:
Balance school life and home life.  We've had so many changes to our curriculum this year so I've spent even more time than I usually do on school work.  Sometimes you just have to let things go, and trust that it will be okay.
1. One Little Word:
Music - I want to use more music in the classroom, and I want to go to more concerts in the coming year!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Liebster Award

I am lucky to have been recognized by both Colleen at Fun and Fearless in First and Kathy at Third Grade Doodles for a Liebster Award.  This award is for those blogs that have under 100 followers, and I was first given this award in the summer, so I have been like the Little Engine That Could in picking up followers.  My goal is to get to 100 followers by January 1.

Anyway here are the answers to the questions that Kathy posed for me:

1. What is a recipe that you are famous for making.
  I make a great blueberry torte.  A big group of us meet for a weekend at a friend's cottage in the summer, and there is always a request for me to bring it.
2. Why did you start a blog?
To connect and share with other great teachers.
3. What is your favorite subject to teach?
Hard to choose, but currently it is science since I attended the Mickelson Academy this past summer.
4. What is a favorite website that you use with your students?
I use Edmodo often with my students, and they love it!
5. What is the hardest thing about teaching?
Meeting with students to help them individually with reading and writing (I have 28 students)!
6. If you could go anywhere, where would you go?
I love San Diego - I would go there in a heartbeat.  It looks pretty good after a Wisconsin winter.
7. Describe in a sentence or two, your ideal classroom.
An ipad for every student, and the class size would be no larger than 20.
8. What is a favorite teaching theme or bulletin board idea that you've used?
I taught a science inquiry unit on Bubbles that the students raved about.
9. Who is your favorite music artist?
I love lots of kinds of music but I'd have to go with The Boss - Bruce Springsteen.
10. What is your morning poison? (i.e., coffee, tea, sugar, etc.).
I am a tree drinker, and just had some delicious decaf green tea with pomegranite.
11. If money were no object, what one thing would you buy for yourself? For your classroom?
I would buy season tickets for me and all my friends to the Packer games!  For my classroom, I would purchase more assistant time.  I only get para-pro 3 days a week for 20 minutes.

Today I made a sign to post in my classroom to help students remember the difference between a b and d.  I think there are others like this floating around Pinterest.  I tried to draw a b outline in Paint but the line was wiggly.  Can anyone help with how to draw a curve in Paint?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Teaching Tip Linky - Challenge Box

It seems the only way to get me motivated to post something is when I see a linky.  I am hooking up with Hadar, also known as Miss Kindergarten, for this linky on Teaching Tips.

I taught Gifted and Talented students for about 5 years, and made this box to add an extra option to challenge those students that needed it.  When I went back to the regular classroom I kept the box as a choice for those who finished their work.  I put challenge worksheets, as well as tangrams and puzzles, etc. in the box. 
As you can see, I currently have some math sheets in the box - at least those are the ones on top.  Sometimes the kids dig through the sheets to find one that appeals to them.  They have been told that they must be able to complete the sheet on their own (i.e. READ THE DIRECTIONS).
Here is the poster that I recently did that explains the choices to pick from if work is done.  The background poster is from an extra I had from VistaPrint.
Hope you are having a good week!  And thank you to our brave veterans! 

P. S. It snowed here today for the most of the day - yikes!  Luckily none of it stuck. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Currently - November

Well I, for one, am glad it's November because our conferences are done and we've made it through a horrendous couple of months in my school district.  We've had what seems like a zillion curriculum changes and we're finally getting into the groove.  I may even be able to post more often on my blog (stay tuned).

Here's my version of the November Currently:

And....the Packers just scored! So we are on way to what I hope is another win.  Don't you just love Aaron Rodgers?  The announcers just said that his stats are "staggering"!

I loved sleeping in - need I say more about that extra hour? 

We start state testing this week so there will be little time for spelling/word work.  My plan is to review some of our third grade "No Excuse" words in the little time we have, and I am sending that list home to the parents.

Do you ever get that itch to move?  Well - it has hit me, and I did some dangerous realtor blog stalking yesterday.  Of course I found a house not too faraway that is probably way out of my teacher price range.  A girl can dream can't she?  Sigh...

I have a museum of computers in my clasroom.  I have a 1980s era Apple IIe, a 1990s era Mac, and two PCs from the 2000s.  Oh, and I now have an old laptop and an iPad.  Anyway, our IT department refuses to support any of the relics, so I took one of the PCs to a local computer dealer for some work this weekend.  It was fixed for a mere $20 - so we are back in business. I use these during my small group station time for the students to review skills, and the kids are motivated to use them all. 

The music my classes consistently love is a little diddy from the Dole 5-a-day website.  I actually got a cassette tape free from their site years ago and continue to use it.  The students hear about healthy foods to eat while they dance to the fun music.  You can hear the music by clicking on the link and then scrolling down to another link below the words to the song.
Dole 5-a-day Song (also known at the SuperKids Song)
You can join Farley in this month's Currently here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Year One Bloggiversary

Happy One Year Anniversary...

to Michelle at The 3AM Teacher!  I used one of her borders in an item I have on TPT, and it is my best selling item (actually I've only sold a few, but technically it's still my best selling item - I don't have that many in my store!).  I think she is so talented, and generous with her creations.  Please check her out.
As part of the linky party in honor of her bloggiversary she has asked fellow bloggers to share highlights of their first year in the blogging world.  I am still in the midst of my first year, but I've already had some happy dance moments!

1. Winning a splitter for my iPad from at Keri at Teach~Play~Smile!  I have entered many contests and was picked to win this little doo-dad that is used daily in my classroom.  Thanks Keri!

2. Joining up with Amanda at The Teaching Thief for Fiction Friday.  Every Friday during the summer I jumped on her site to get book suggestions to use with my third graders.  Check her out - she's awesome!

3.  Discovering on my stats page that people have found me through Pinterest, and through someone else's blog. What an honor to be recognized in this way!  I am still gaining followers, and it always puts a smile on my face to see someone new on my little list.

4.  I have been teaching a LONG time, but continue to learn from my teacher buds in the blogging world.  :)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

I've Been Booed!

This is a fabulous, fun linky hosted by Tori at Tori's Teacher Tips (you must pay her a visit and sign up as a follower if you haven't already). So here goes...
Maybe you've seen or heard of this fun "game" in neighbourhoods or even at your school... but let's try a blog version! Here is how it works:
If you've been booed, copy and paste the above pic and these "rules" into your post.
1. Give a shout out to the blogger who booed you and link back to their site!
2. Share 3-5 October activities, books, products (yours or someone else),
or freebie(s) that you love!
3. Share the Boo love with 5 bloggers- make sure you check this link to make sure you don't boo someone again:
And don't forget to tell them that they have been BOOED!
4. Link up here so that others can find you and read about your October ideas! And while you are there... check out the other great blogs!
So - here is a fun activity that I used in my class last week:
I had a Halloween Readers and Listeners station.  The listeners wore animal ears while the readers (who also wanted to wear the ears, and this was allowed because they were listeners, too) read a story.  I have all different kinds of animal ears (cat, panda, bear, bunny, giraffe, etc.) which I found a couple of years ago at a Halloween store. You can find an October Book Log my students used for recording books they read at my TPT store here.
Also - a great activity I used last year can be found at Sunny Days in Second Grade.  Denise has tons of great ideas, and I love looking at the pictures of her school's storybook pumpkins.  She's got some creative people at her school!

Check out the blog of my wonderful Boo Buddy - Sue at SOS - Supply!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Currently - October

It's October - one of my favorite months of the year!  While walking my dog today the leaves were fluttering softly to the ground - it was a beautiful late day walk.  You can join Farley and friends with your version of "Currently" here.
I love the book Arthur's Halloween from Marc Brown.  It has a good message for children about seniors that might live in their neighborhoods.  We do character studies at this time of the year and the Arthur books are great to use because the students are so familiar with Arthur, D.W., Buster, Binky, and the rest of the gang.