Monday, January 28, 2013

SNOW DAY! Freebie

My daughter thought this birdhouse's hairdo was pretty funny!

I was happily surprised by yet another SNOW DAY! What is better than a Snow Day? A Snow Day on a Monday. I'm looking forward to playing games, updating some TPT items, and perhaps venturing out to do some shopping at my favorite store...Barnes and Noble!

Last Friday my class and I finished up a project to share with other classes around the country. SPOILER ALERT!! If you are participating with the Winter Wonderland Exchange Project at First Grade Carousel, you may not want to read on! These are the projects my class decided would be fun to send to my friend Maria who organized this fun exchange. We put A LOT of glue in a zip-lock bag and then added wiggle eyes, a carrot nose and three buttons. We sealed it and attached a song to sing as students look for and arrange the snowman parts to look like a snowman! Only one bag broke on us and I hope that the ones we sent all arrive in good condition to Maria! Thank you Maria for organizing such a fun project...I can't wait to see what everyone else did.

What ever the weather where you are...I wouldn't trade! I love my Michigan!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Whole Half-Day and a Give Away!

I can hardly wait until tomorrow when my owlets bring a brown bag to school with half of something in it. I'm still trying to decide what I will bring. Their mission is simple...Put half of something in a brown paper bag and write three clues on the bag so we can guess what it is. PARENTS: I WAS VERY CLEAR THAT THEY SHOULD ASK YOUR PERMISSION BEFORE CUTTING SOMETHING IN HALF!!!

We have made it to the "Half" day of school.Eon't you think "Half-Day" should be half a day of school? It happened to fall on a whole day! We are half past first grade. It came at a perfect "time" since we were studying and practicing keeping track of time. I've added times to the daily routine so that they become more aware of times passage and they love to tell me when we run out of that precious commodity, especially if it is cutting into their lunch or snack time. In order to celebrate we spent a "whole" lot of time talking about and cutting things in half...including ourselves.

You don't want to waste any more time here. Rush over to Liv to Teach to enter her amazing Give Away. You will be amazed at half the items being given away and wowed by the other half!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Saturday Sayings

Guess what? No, not chicken butt! I had a student say that to me this week. It was really hard not to laugh hilariously. I had to tell him that some things are funny at home and some things are funny at school. I even told him that has been one of my favorite jokes since I was a kid. My little sister even has it on a T-shirt. Anyway, he apologized and I haven't heard it again.

Guess what? When I walk through the door Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday it isn't about me. It is about the owlets in my nest. Period. They think I'm beautiful. When I don't wear make-up, I'm still beautiful. When I wear socks with holes they don't care.  Their smiles, hugs, laughter and learning are what matter to me when I get to school. Any problem that may have reared its ugly head at home is forgotten. I must give my whole heart to these learners, so they  in turn can trust me to do what is right for them.

Some of our students may not have had breakfast. They may have to listen to parents fighting night after night or listen to worries about how they're going to make the money stretch a little further. Do they really need to hear about my bad day? Do they really need to be quiet because I'm going through a rough time? Nope! They need to know that I'm going to be the same today, yesterday and tomorrow. They need to trust that when I greet them at the door they are walking into a room where they are loved and valued.

I heard a speaker at the beginning of the year who gave some great advice. When a teacher starts to complain about a particular student, say, " I love that kid!"
Honestly, you probably do love that kid. If he's having a hard time at school, he needs you to love him. Even if he isn't in your class, you can change his world by loving him. You know the sad looking kid walking down the hall avoiding any and all eye contact. Make a point of seeking him out each day and watch his countenance change. Show him the love in your heart...He probably needs to see it. That's why I chose this Carole King song as my Saturday Saying...

I love this Carole King song. I wake up singing it many mornings! Don't say, "Oh! It's easy for her to say!" It isn't always that easy. I battle depression. I've had my share of sadness. I've had struggles.  Life is full of disappointment. The things that have been the hardest things for me to live through are also the things I've grown most from. Hardships can solidify our character either good or bad. Choose today to become more loving, more empathetic and more approachable! Be the teacher that shows love to EVERY student.

Head over to Forever in First to see some more Saturday Sayings!

Too bad the kid hadn't said, "Guess what?  OWL butt!" I may have to allow that one!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Snow Day Calculator! Snow Day Freebie!

The Snow Day Calculator redeemed itself this morning! It has been WRONG  about 100% of the time until...Today! I am thrilled to tell you that  I have a Snow Day. I think it is more about the frigid air than the snow. The temperature is hovering just above zero  and there really isn't that much snow out there. So, here I am with the whole day ahead of me. I've had my second cup of coffee and I'm going to sit here watch birds and read all day. I'm about to shut off my computer and bake cookies, put together a puzzle and get reacquainted with the laundry equipment. It is going to be a great day!

Before I go I want to share the activity that my students worked on yesterday during the Daily Five. This was in the Word Work Station. I read The Snowy Day before letting them get down to work. They loved the book and I put it in the Read With a Partner Couch Box. I'm always excited when I see partners EEKK up together with a book I've just read to them. Don't you agree that re-reads are important for first grade owlets?! I hope you might be able to use this FREEBIE in your class, too!

One other thing.  I just got a sweet Circus packet from a new friend of mine. I especially love the Peanuts for Sale Place Value section. Maria is new to blogging, so go show her how friendly we all are! I wish it wasn't a Snow Day so I could be at school right now sharing the fun, but here's always tomorrow...

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Saturday Sayings: Routine

I love routine. I follow the same routine every day. Coffee. Granola Bar. Check e-mail. My Saturday morning routine is pretty much the same, but more fun because it extends longer into the morning in my pajamas. If something happens to change my morning routine I just feel off all day. 

Routine is a wonderful way of organizing learning. Have you ever skipped or forgotten a part of your daily routine? Who notices first? It is always the same student in my room who pipes up with, "but we didn't do calendar today." Routine reduces stress and brings comfort and assurance to children. In a world of constant change and sometimes even turmoil children need the comfort of routine in their lives. 

Busy parents may find it difficult to establish routine at home but the benefit to their children is worth the effort. I have seen the effects that routines have had on students who struggle with learning disabilities or with ADHD first hand. Though it is difficult to be consistent with routine for a parent who may also struggle with undiagnosed ADHD, it can benefit the long term relationship of the parent and child, as together they are able to build a firm educational foundation to carry them into the future. 

Back in the classroom, routine is the rhythm of the classroom music that students look forward to each day. We get to be the composer of a world of learning. What kind of music are you composing? Is it a lullaby or a jig? Hopefully it is a little of both or something in between! 

Until last year, I never posted my daily schedule. I have found writing it on my white board and erasing each activity helps students anticipate what comes next and gives them a sense of time. My owlets are becoming expert clock readers. They know 10:00 because of snack and 11:30 because that's lunch time! 
How would environment show a child they are valued? The time and thought you put into each piece in your classroom are a reflection of your thinking towards them. As you carefully place anchor charts, posters, students work and learning tools into place they say that you care about your students just as creating an inviting Family Room show your family you care about them!

My classroom sometimes looks a little chaotic to outsiders. My students know where all their "tools" are. I encourage them to use the Word Wall, the number chart, the calendar, math manipulatives, and of course books! My goal will always be to try to be more organized, but I accept my desk as it is a little like my brain sometimes cluttered to overflowing, sometimes messy, sometimes even neat and tidy!
I love Saturday Sayings. Thank you, Tammy for allowing me to join you this month! I can't wait to come to your place to find out what you are saying today!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Pinning and a Freebie!

I remember talking to my mom about getting pinned. When she was going to nursing school, getting her pin meant a great deal to her. Each nursing school presented their pin to their graduates to welcome them into the nursing profession.  She had to work hard to get her pin and was quiet proud of it. I was always very proud of my mom, too. She was a wonderful nurse and an even better mommy! I miss her very much, but feel blessed that she gave me some amazing siblings to remind me of her and we all look like her more each day!

Hasn't pinning taken on a whole new meaning?! I like getting pinned, too. I feel a sense of pride when someone says, "I pinned your idea"! Usually "my" idea came from a pin I saw on pintrest! With so many great ideas to be found on pintrest, it's hard to keep up with all of the different ideas and recipes I've pinned! I am making an attempt to try at least one pin a week in my classroom and in my kitchen.

These dish racks have worked beautifully in my very small room! I can quickly clear of my tables for center activities or for cleaning. The pencils, highlighters and scissors fit will in the silverware drain. Students can easily grab a book to read any time of the day. Individual marker boards fit so nicely in the rack, too! It has really helped keep my room much neater!

I love this book, too! Benny and Penny are a brother and sister who act
in a very typical brother and sister way. It is written cartoon style and easy
enough for my youngest readers, but written well enough to keep
my high end readers engaged, too!
I modified the pin I found for dice to work well in my room. I used to misplace my dice often. These magnetic shakers have worked very well! Dice don't roll all over the room, even "on accident"! They can be quickly put away by placing them on my storage metal storage cabinet. I love the way these have worked out, too!

I keep thinking this is Friday, but it is only Thursday! It has been a long week with a sick husband and sick daughter. The flu has now hit everyone in the family, but me! I'm hoping that shot I got will be my ticket to staying healthy. I must say, they make sick look like a lot of fun! They get to spend the day watching videos and reading books! 

I have managed to put together an aMAZE-ing money packet. It has helped my students identify different coins. I'm always amazed at how quickly some students learn to count money and how hard it is for others! If you would like to get this money pack for free, it will be available on TPT for free for one day! Click the picture below to get to it. You can e-mail me for a free copy, too! Please let me know if you see a blatant mistake that needs fixing! Most of it has been tested on my owlets already! 

I hope this post finds you healthy and warm, but not feverishly warm! 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Frustration Free Math Guest Blogger, Stacy!

Frustration-Free Math

Today’s guest post comes from Stacy, an 8th grade English teacher, Stacy has written articles and blog posts for multiple online publications and has designed curriculum and assessments on nearly every subject for teachers and educational publishers. You can often find Stacy writing for As the mother of two, Stacy is also committed to learning ways to help her children learn and develop.
Most students enjoy basic counting, addition and subtraction, but as math moves into multiplication, division, fractions and more complex concepts it can become frustrating. To help avoid the frustration, teachers and parents must move beyond the traditional way of looking at math. By incorporating non-traditional teaching strategies to appeal to students who do not have logical brains and helping them understand the relevance behind the math they are learning, math can become less of a frustration.

Playing Games to Learn

Turning mathematics instruction into a game makes it more appealing to most students. Games that simply require students to solve equations or answer basic questions before taking a turn can be effective. However, games that incorporate problem-solving and other basic math skills directly into the game play are even more effective. For example, students could be required to count out money to make purchases in a game or solve an equation to determine how many spaces to move. They may play a game which requires them to devise a method to determine the volume of a pitcher or determine how many items around the house they must measure to come up with 100 feet.

Real-Life Application

Many of the games students will find most enjoyable and most effective when it comes to learning math involve real-life application of basic math skills. Students who struggle with math often do not see how it is relevant to their daily lives. In addition to playing games with real-life connections, point out connections to math in a students’ daily lives. Ask them to locate shapes and angles around the house or open up a pretend restaurant in the kitchen. Cut up a cake to teach division and percentages or group items into equal sets to learn about multiplication.

Writing about Math

The more ways you present mathematical concepts and skills to students, the easier it will be for them to understand them. Having students write about math is one way to get them to look at it differently. With math journals, students are forced to put into words what they learned in math class and think about the difficulties they encountered. A sample entry may say “Today, we learned how to multiply positive and negative numbers. I had trouble with this because I could not remember that a negative times a negative always equals a positive. I do not understand how that can be.”
By writing about math, students can also tap into the real-life application of basic math concepts and skills. They can write stories where characters use the skills to solve problems or interact with the world around them or create poems to represent key facts they need to remember. Writing about math offers  students a way to put what they are learning into their own terms and help improve their learning.

Thinking Outside the Box

Frustration-free math is all about thinking outside the box. When a student does not understand how to multiply or divide, giving him worksheet after worksheet or rehashing the process over and over again will not help the process. Instead, you must think of creative ways to represent those concepts, either through games, real-life application or by connecting the concepts to other subjects, such as writing.

I hope you have enjoyed this guest post. I was excited to offer something different to my followers. I hope you take time to follow the links. When I followed the links, I found yet another wonderful resource for teachers! I posted some of my resources there including this freebie! Enjoy!!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Saturday Sayings: Community

Saturday...A day by any other name doesn't smell as sweet! Who can resist the smell of coffee and bacon wafting through the house? Who doesn't love to stay in their pjs at least an hour or two longer than usual? If you are like me, Saturday is a chance to catch up on some of my favorite blogs and check out some new ones, too! I look forward each week to Saturday Sayings for some food for  thought for the week to come. I am so excited to be sharing my

Thank you, Tammy for inviting me and others to join you! I'm honored to be in your company! Click HERE to go see Tammy's Saturday Saying!

Sometimes I think more learning takes place at my community gathering time than any other time of the day. As my owlets gather together in our nest to sing, play and discuss the day that lays before us important things happen. We learn to be kind and considerate of others feelings. My students ask questions in a place where they feel completely safe and loved.

How do you build community?  I believe that without a strong tight bond between community members children do not learn as well or as deeply as they could. Community allows children to take risks with out fearing failure. It allows students the ability to ask questions that no one will laugh at. It gives each child purpose, meaning and comfort without anxiety or nervousness. I build classroom community the following ways:

Classroom celebrations:  We celebrate new learning in different ways. This week we celebrated twice. Monday we celebrated the New Year with a New Year's Eve party that ended with the ball(s) dropping to the floor and counting how many times they bounced.  We celebrated learning antonyms this week with a bubble bursting game you can watch below!

Spontaneous Silliness:  I find taking a break from the normal in surprising ways to be very important. We have had a very horrible, terrible, very bad winter so far. No snow. Yesterday we had a snowball fight. All morning I warned my owlets it was coming. They tried to guess what we would use for snow. They didn't guess correctly and were so happy when I pulled out a bag of material labeled  "SNOW"! It was the most fun I've had all year! I wish I had pictures of our "fight", but I was so busy playing that I didn't even think about snapping any pictures!

Classroom rituals:  Singing the National Anthem, saying the Pledge of Allegiance, and praying together have all been rituals that children insist on doing together every day. I have a couple of students who are late most days. I am always happy when they get there and we always wait to do our song/pledge/prayer/sticker together.  Saying, "ding dong" when someone knocks on the door, and our daily Lego mini-figure sticker book are some of the things that keep kids coming back for more! 

Expect Respect: I expect students to treat one another with kindness and respect. It's a learning process. Relationships take work and being packed into a classroom for hours at a time can sometimes be difficult! Learning how to work through difficulties one problem at a time Real world problem solving is an important life skill.  

Hello/Goodbye:  Each day I greet my students as they come through the door. I want them to know how happy I am to see them. At the end of the day they choose...A hug a highfive or a handshake. It is usually a hug, but some of them like all three.

So, my friend, I'm glad that we are in the same community! I love learning about your classroom celebrations and rituals. I love your spontaneous silliness and the warmth of each comment. Please leave me with ...

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

ADD Cheat, Lie, Steal!

I don't know if I told you this before...I have ADD. Attention to Date Disorder! Dates just confuse me. I get ideas that things are one time and then they turn out to be another. I showed up at my nephew's High School Open House on the wrong DAY! When we got there I was sure that it was a good thing we showed up because no one else was there. Now another person might get some kind of premonition showing up to a house where there are NO cars in the driveway on a party day. Not me. I'm pretty sure my husband even said, "Are you sure this is the right day?" I probably laughed and tried to get to the door first to see some of my favorite people in the world. "Where is everybody?" I asked. No one at the house understood my question and they wondered why we had driven an hour to stop in at their house. If I had been by myself I would have made a good story up about being in the area and thought I would stop in for a cup of coffee and walk in the woods. I was not alone....I could feel the eyes of four glaring holes in the back of my head. I can't recall specific times I've made these mistakes, but I know they happen because I remember my attempt at nonchalance when people have brought up this mistake at choice times of yet another ADD disturbance.

Here is my latest ADD moment...I just spent HOURS writing a chapel message for our weekly chapel service tomorrow. I haven't had one yet this year...I mean last year...I figured it must be my turn tomorrow. AFTER I gathered my ideas and put them on paper, I checked the schedule. You know it...I'm not on! I'm not on next week either, or the one after that! I'm three weeks early with my message! Do you think the end of the month is too late to talk about New Year's resolutions? I thought so, too!
I added this picture because I thought this post could use a picture!

Are you in the need of a message? Here is my message for chapel tomorrow. Maybe it will bring you some needed time in God's word!

2 Corinthians 5:17
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here!
There are some new things that I love. Here is a short list of them:
New crayons
New clothes
New birds to add to my bird list
New shoes
New coffee mugs
New Fabric
New Years!
Yep…I love new years. A new year is a fresh start to the rest of my life. It’s the perfect time to change things I don’t like. The changes that I and other people  make are called “resolutions”.  

1.    res·o·lu·tion  :  Noun  A firm decision to do or not to do something.
A resolution is a promise one makes to one’s self; a promise that puts a person’s desire to change into a formal statement.
When making a resolution to change a person might begin by saying, “I resolve to…” and then they would say what their resolution is.
What are some things that you might resolve to do?
allow time for students to answer.
The apostle Paul made a resolution. It is in the Bible. His resolution is, “For I resolved to know nothing ....except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:2
Here are my resolutions for the New Year:
I’m going to make it right here in front of you all…I resolve to
cheat, steal and lie more!  You heard me right …I’m going to cheat, steal and lie more. Listen carefully…You may want to make this same resolution, too!
When I say I’m going to cheat it means I will:
Cheat failure.  I won’t be afraid to try something new because I think I may fail.  It is through failure that I’ve learned very important lessons. I can’t fail if I don’t try and just trying means I’m not a failure. It means I’m a try-er! It means I will be trusting that God will guide and protect me through life’s try-als.

I resolve to LIE more. God has told me not to worry. That means I can relax more this new year.  I can live a little more without having to worry about it because I trust my awesome God.

I resolve to STEAL! I’m going to steal more time away to be with God and enjoy the time I can spend with Him in His word the HOLY Bible!

In the year 2013 I resolve to cheat, lie and steal more than I did in 2013! With the help of God I hope you do, too!
Cheat failure
Lie down in green pastures
Steal time with God!
Prayer: Dear God, help me to keep my resolution to cheat failure and to lie down in the green pastures you have given me. Help me to remember to steal some time with you each day so that I may grow in faith and grace
In Jesus name, Amen!

If you would like the Chapel-Home Connection click HERE!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Best Day Ever and a Linky

I love this Emerson quote...

"This is the best day ever!"
Do you have a student who says that every day?! I never get tired of hearing her say it! I hope those positive vibes stay with her all her life! The excitement in the room today was wonderful. My classroom family was so happy to see each other and it didn't take long for them to get reacquainted with me and each other. A couple of times during the day I longed for my PJ pants and book, but I was as happy to see my owlets as they were to see me. I feel so blessed to be a part of these children's lives!

We spent the whole morning in anticipation of "midnight". This was the beginning of our math unit on time and calendar. We've been doing time and calendar daily, so we'll fly through the curriculum! Anyway, at midnight(11:00 am!) we dropped our balls and watched them bounce around the room! We used our noise makers and welcomed in 2013 with joy!

I was filled with lots of inspiration from my blog hopping over the Christmas Vacation. With all that inspiration I could hardly wait to get back to the classroom, so I wanted to link up with Growing Firsties and Teacher to the Core for this great linky...

I have to give a shout out to Mrs. Carroll from The First Grade Parade. She has a packet on TPT full of FREE New Year games and activities. I wish we had more time in the day, so I could actually finish everything I plan for a day!  Her blog is full of ideas that I have enjoyed reading about and pinning. She has over 6,000 more followers than I do! You probably already follower her! Check out what she's up to these days!

A blogger who I would vote for sitting down and having a cup of coffee with is Kimberly. She has a couple followers less than I do, but will soon have more. She's funny. She's smart. She's real. She says what she thinks and she has big thoughts! Her blog is one I check daily for inspiration. I know that someday she'll have a book published and I will be first in line to get it signed. You see, that's why I love her blog, because I love her style of writing. Follow her journey at

Want to link up? The rules are simple and it's a fun way to let others know you are thinking of them! Here are the rules:
This Linky Party has 3 components:

1. Link a post where you have given two shout outs to two bloggers that have inspired you. One blogger with fewer followers and one  with more followers than you. This seems obvious, but please make sure you give links to those inspiring posts/blogs so others can be inspired, too!

2. Please let the two bloggers you are shouting out know that you're doing so. Leave a comment on their blog - maybe on the post that inspired you or on their post dated closest to when you link up. They'll most likely want to know what it was that inspired you to give 

them a shout out. :)

3. We love Farley's "Rule of Three" which means that once you link up, please comment on the posts of the two previous bloggers that linked. Then, come back later and comment on the post of the blogger after your link.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Day of Balance and Dino Freebie!!

My first day of living a balanced life was great! I was able to eat, watch birds, hike through the woods and make a dinosaur subtraction puzzle activity packet. I even watched Karate Kid with my daughter

This bird got me pretty excited. I hung this feeder in hopes that he would show up!
Common redpoll! He isn't common around these parts!
I was so excited when he showed up at my feeder. I had left my camera at my
sister's house the first time he showed up! I didn't mind driving an hour to visit with her
at all. I almost left with out my camera again!

I've been trying to get a picture of a chickadee for my friend Laurie! Those guys are almost impossible to get. All I got were these footprints...

Click the picture above if you'd like a copy of my Dino-Subtract puzzles. I've also got them at my TPT store if you want to buy them!!