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!