We LOVE our class!

I drew a faint heart on paper and had my kids all line their hands up around it!  It's not perfect, but it's kind of cool!  photo[11] post signature

App Review: TOCA BOCA!

TOCA BOCA apps are "a new way to play!"  They range in price from FREE - $2.99 and they're so FUN for toddlers to elementary kids.  Want to see a taste of what I'm talking about?  Check out my new app review HERE!
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Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

I live in the frigid Midwest and honestly, winter is a little too long and gloomy for me.  BUT, what can ya do?  Can't change the weather, but... you CAN make bright wintry art projects to brighten up the halls!  :)  It helps the Winter go by a tiny bit faster.
Speaking of- I just found out that Groundhog's Day is on February 2 because it's the exact half-way mark between the Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox!  Who knew?  We're half way done with winter!  Bring on the Spring, baby!
So anyway, I found this art project somewhere on the Internet years ago... sorry, don't recall where, but I wanted to share it with everyone because it's so simple and cheery!

You could skip this beginning part, but we started by studying snowflakes and reading the story Snowflake Bentley.  He was a real person long ago who showed awesome perseverance and courage working to take photographs of snowflakes: "his gift to the world!"  Aren't they beautiful?!  It fascinates me how unique and intricate they are, yet so tiny and temporary.
So then we talk about how to draw snowflakes... all the different ways they can look, yet they have the basic 6-pointed shape.  I give them several examples of simple ways to draw different kinds.

Then, they get a paper that has 9 really faint circles on it.  Inside each circle, they use a white crayon to draw a snowflake.  Make sure they press hard (I wish I had told my class to press harder). You can find this paper for FREE on my TpT store!

Then get out the watercolors.  I modeled this ahead of time for the kids so they knew all the steps they'd be doing and I LOVE this part because they FREAKED OUT!  You paint over the circle with a bright color of paint.  The white crayon resists the color to make the snowflake appear!  Magic!

Finally I matted them on colorful paper and hung them up to display!  


Here are a few examples of their work:




Until Spring comes... let it snow! :)
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AND we have a winner!!!

My first humble little giveaway is over!
No rafflecopter here, folks!  Just good old fashioned names in a bowl-- that beauty of being a small, new blog.  :)
 And.... drumroll....The lucky winner is.... Nikki!
Congratulations!  As soon as I post this, I'll be emailing The Mitten sub plans over to you! 

I hope you love them and they help make your life a little easier!  
I know for me, it's just such a relief to know that if one of my kids gets sick in the night... or if I suddenly can't make it to school for whatever reason... I have these plans on my desk all ready to roll!  No last minute scrambling or stress! :)

Thanks to everyone who entered and left comments!  

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Rollin to the library!

Just popping in to share another quick, fun, CUTE classroom idea today!  This one is good cause it also solves a problem!  We get to visit the school library once a week and I've handled the task of physically carrying the books many different ways:  everyone has carried their own, I've unloaded little stacks into the tiny arms of quiet kids, I've just carried them all myself in a basket... but THIS right here is the ticket, folks!  Ready?
Find yourself a little shopping cart, jazz it up a bit, and BAM!  BEST WAY TO RETURN LIBRARY BOOKS.  Hands down. Parents and other teachers will squeal with delight as you pass them in the hall. And of course the kids love it, too.  It's too cute.

I found this sturdy one at a garage sale for $2.  I'm still kicking myself for not snatching up the sweet, metal Pottery Barn Kids one I saw once for $10 at someone's sale... cause that would have been way cuter, but oh well.  Live and learn.  :)


action shot!

So there ya go- just another fun idea I loved and wanted to share with the world!  post signature

THANK YOU notes!

Thank you notes: what a fun, simple way to totally make someone's day! It's paraprofessional appreciation week here and I have three wonderful paras who make our class a GREAT place to work and learn!  So I had the kids take a few minutes and write them each a note.  They were precious... I edited these to not show the kid's names... but you can get the idea.  

Who wouldn't LOVE to get a stack of notes like that from some sweet, tiny Kindergarteners or 1st graders with adorable inventive spelling?!

I thought other people might be having paraprofessional appreciation week  and be interested in something like this, too!  You could actually use it for a W I D E variety of occasions... some ideas include: 

* to thank volunteers after a party or field trip

* to write to friend's around Valentine's Day

* for Mother's Day, Father's Day, Grandparent's Day

* for paraprofessional appreciation week

* for secretary appreciation day

* to thank school workers (custodians, cafeteria staff, principal, etc)

* at Thanksgiving time-- you could put this in a center and kids can write notes to anyone they want!

 Go make someone's day! :)
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Garlic is an AWESOME immunity booster!! Stay healthy!

You might remember a little while back I posted one of my favorite tips for avoiding the stomach flu!  Well, I'm back to throw out another one that I like even more!!

I found out about this from my nutritionist.  I was telling her about my grape juice trick and she said SHE would do garlic-- it works even better and you steer clear of all the sugar.  It naturally kills viruses, bacteria, fungus and more!  It's like a natural antibiotic that you won't develop a tolerance to.

I'm always up for new ideas so I gave it a try!  That was November and let me tell you-- I've been healthy ever since, dodging germs, colds, and all kinds of other fun stuff left and right!

So here's what I do:

  1. Grab a bulb of garlic from Target or anywhere... they're so cheap... less than $1 for sure.
  2. Peel off the paper-y layers.  Pick a clove or two and get ALL the paper off it.  
  3. Chop it up into little pieces. (I pop a mug of water into the microwave while I'm doing this)
  4. Grab a spoon and shovel it in!  It might be good to chew it a few times, but if you've chopped it up a lot, you won't need to do a ton of chewing.  You could maybe just swallow it all like you'd swallow a pill.
  5. I chase it with the warm/hot water I fixed while I was chopping the garlic.  For me, the warmer water seems to take away some of the "burn" of the garlic.  Okay, don't be scared- it doesn't really burn, but it's just kind of an interesting, hot sort of taste.  Hard to describe, but not that bad!  I'd rather that a few seconds of ICK, than a few weeks full of SICK!  Right?? :)

So here are other important tips I learned from reading things and talking to people:  

  • It's key to eat it right away after you chop it up.  If you let it sit out, refrigerate it, or cook it, it loses some of it's amazing benefits.
  • Be sure to have some food in your tummy when you eat the garlic!  Even when I do, I still sometimes have to lay down for just 2 minutes afterwards cause it feels icky (only once in awhile-- not often-- but just saying cause if this happens to you, the feeling will go away fast!  No worries!).
  • The hot/warm water is also helpful for beating down germs! 
  • Some people eat a clove or more a day as part of their daily routine-- just to boost their immunity!
  • Unlike the grape juice trick, even if you already have a cold-- it's NOT too late to try this solution!  Taking garlic several times per day can shorten or really relieve cold symptoms!

Now if you DO find yourself suddenly sick in the middle of the night, don't panic if you're a K-1 teacher because you can just whip out your "Super Speedy Sub Plans!"... YESSSS!  But here's to hoping that never needs to happen.

I'm so excited about this, I just had to pass it on!  I KNOW if you try it out, it will help you stay healthier and avoid some of those icky bugs flying around the schools this time of year!  Several times I've felt a headache or a sore throat coming on, but then I take my garlic and BAM!  All better and nothing ever comes of it.  It's too, too cool.

If anyone has any other tips for how to stay healthy or do the garlic thing- leave me a comment!  I love to learn!

Cheers to staying healthy!
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Joyful Journaling!

Hey!  I think it's so important for kindergarteners (and all kids!) to be writing everyday!  The last few years I let them write about whatever they wanted in their journals, but this year I tried giving them little prompts a few days a week and they love it!  They STILL get to write about anything they want on "Free Choice Fridays!" and also in the Daily 5 writing journal, but it's been cool to read their responses to different questions in their journals.  I love the way it's transforming their journals into little scrapbooks or time capsules-- tiny Kindergarten scribblings about who they love, what they've been up to, all their favorite stuff and more!  Parents (and kids!) are going to LOVE looking back on all this!

IMG_0729.JPGSo each day over lunch I was quickly typing up a little prompt... or sometimes I'd get ambitious and do a few day's worth to be EXTRA prepared -ha!  I kept a few in my emergency sub plan notebook, but I was mostly living day to day or week to week.... until...  FINALLY last weekend I took the time to write up enough prompts for an entire year!  Oh yea!  Over 100 different prompts!  We do "what did you do over the weekend?" almost very Monday and Fridays are "Free Choice Fridays!"  But then the other 100-ish prompts can fill in all the Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays of our school year!  I made 30 copies of each individual prompt all in one document (10 prompts on a page = 327 pages or so!)... so that all I had to do was press PRINT ONE TIME this year and wah-la!  I'm DONE and ready for the entire school year!!  No more copies needing to be made or trips run to the printer.. everything is all right there.  SO exciting to be so prepared and organized!!

If you like to give your kids writing prompts from time to time, you might find this handy, too!  It could save you tons of time and it's all available at my TpT store!  Since it's brand spankin new, I'm offering it at a nice discount so get it while it's hot!  :)  Ha!

Prompts are organized by similar topics and you can jump around in them however you'd like:

* "A few of my favorite things" (like "What is your favorite thing to do with your family?")

* "What did you do over the weekend?" (or break)

* "Write about a time when..." (like "Write about a time when you were sick." Ick, I know, but kids LOVE writing about that! Ha!)

* "That special someone" (like "Write about the youngest person you know.")

* "Wishes" (like "What do you want to be when you grow up?")

* "Lists" (like "List two things you could do to help someone today!")

* "Why?". (like "Why is it important to brush your teeth?")

Wanna see how it looks all set up?

So I just printed it up, three hole punched the pages, and popped them all in a three ring binder.

I know I'll use "What did you do over the weekend?" every Monday so I popped a bunch of those in a baggie in the front pocket (along with a few others I'm planning to use this week, all paper clipped and ready to roll).


Then just pick any prompt you want to use on a given day, rip out the pages with that prompt (each prompt is 3 pages total - 10 prompts on a page so you'll end up with 30 little strips of paper) and take a few seconds to snip them apart.  Easy-cheesy.


 Lay them out for the kids to grab (journaling could make GREAT morning work to do as they come in to class?) or I often like to stick the prompts in my pocket and dramatically whip them out as I reveal today's idea and get them all excited to write!


Finally, kids just glue stick the prompt to the top of their journal page and get writing!  Want to see how sweet they turn out??


sweet picture

Is that inventive spelling awesome or what?  So brave.

melt my heart

"a fixer"... don't ya just LOVE Kindergarteners??

Thanks for stopping by!
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Laminating aluminum foil... and displaying memories all at the same time!

I was looking for something cool to put above my lockers this year.  My school has cold, unforgiving brick walls you can't staple into or get too creative with... but I am loving this little idea and wanted to pass it on!

I love shiny... and thought what the heck- I'll try laminating aluminum foil and see how it comes out... cool!  It really is! Kinda crinkly and sparkly!  I tried to add a few black squares and make it look like filmstrip to fit my HOWYWOOD theme.  Then I spliced it up and have been popping pictures onto the "frames" throughout the year.  It's turning into a little gallery of special moments we've had.


Untitled Anyone could totally do this yet this year or definitely file this idea away for next Fall!


Happy memory making!
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Library inspiration... on the cheap and fancy!

If you're a new teacher or someone who is looking to improve their classroom library, I wanted to share a few ideas!  Not that mine is perfect by any means, but it's something I get excited about. The teacher-nerd in me.  :)  I think books are such a fun, colorful way to create a welcoming classroom and inspire young readers!

So, if you're someone who has so many hopes and dreams for making your library cool, but maybe don't have the big buck$ to just go buy everything you want, I wanted to inspire YOU to see that there are all kinds of super cool shelves are out there and you can find them-- often for FREE - if you're a little patient and know where to look.

You can see a tiny bit in the picture below (I should have snapped more pics!  maybe later...) that many of my books are in baskets with labels... but one thing I think helps make a library EXTRA appealing is using book displays that allow the covers of the books to be visible, catch the reader's eye, and yank them in!  It's all about presentation, right?

Here is a glimpse of what I have:
forgive the cell phone quality and the monkeys hanging from the ceiling- ha!

See the tall spinning bookshelf above?  I found that at a craft store in Dallas that was going out of business and selling their fixtures!  It was actually a greeting card display.  I told them I'm a teacher and they let me have it for $10.  If you see a store (ANY kind of store) going out of business, walk in, and use your imagination-- "could that hold books??"

And how about this beauty below?  FREE on Craigslist from a church bookstore that just didn't want it anymore!  Again, it was a greeting card display.  It's three big pieces and the drawers below it are heavenly for holding supplies.  My school custodian was NOT happy when he watched me hauling those babies in, but hey- sometimes we gotta take one for the team and do it for the kids, right?!  :)

 I have general fiction on one side and the far side on the other end of that writing table, is where I put all my seasonal books that I change out every month (like MLK Jr., Winter, Presidents, Valentine's, etc).  And btw, these are not flat against a wall, there is a path behind them and a place where kids have hooks for backpacks.  These big shelves hide some of the mess of that.  The back sides of the shelves were UGLY so I painted them with chalkboard paint!  It makes a perfect photo op place.  I can write stuff like "My 1st Day of Kindergarten!  September, 2012" and take a sweet picture on the striking black background!

this is behind the big bookshelves
How funny is this--  an old ugly chair from my mom's house that has a secret trap door for stashing books?  Of course, we keep the "mystery" genre in there... so sneaky, so awesome!

I've found several more shelves over the years similar to these and they're sitting stocked full of books in the "grandbaby playroom" at my mom's house, and in my kid's bedrooms at home!  I've helped my sister-teacher find several, too so I KNOW this kind of thing is out there.  a lot.  It wasn't just a lucky one-time deal I found.

Besides the $10 one, my other shelves have all been FREE, and been discovered from stores going out of business or one Craigslist under names like "greeting card display" or "magazine rack," or something to that effect.  I think oftentimes if people know you're a teacher and you're going to put the shelves to good use, they are thrilled to give them to you!  Sometimes you need to whip out the teacher card.  :)

Now about the BOOKS!  Between home and school, I probably have thousands upon thousands... too many really...  and I don't think I've actually paid full price for any of them.  I wanted to have a HUGE variety though so everyone can find something they're interested in for their book box.

Here are ideas for growing your classroom library:

1.  Ask for donations!  Often generous families love to clean out and unload their unwanted books to sweet teachers with classrooms full of kids who will get a lot of good use out of them.  It's really win-win!  Just pop it in your newsletter and see what happens.

2.  Book orders!  Yes, sometimes they can be a hassle (although not so bad now that parents can order online!) but man, you can really earn a ton of brand new free books thanks to Scholastic!  I send out orders every month.

3.  Birthday gifts!  Instead of having kids bring in treats, lots of teachers invite kids to bring in a gift wrapped book as a donation to the class library.  They unwrap the book while everyone sings, you write the date and  "Happy Birthday, _______!" inside the front cover, read the book aloud and there ya go!  What a great alternative to sugary cupcakes!

4.  Thrift stores or garage sales or public library book sales!  You can often find some really nice books here for a quarter.  You can't buy much for a quarter these days!   Some of them look like they've never even been read.  Snatch em up, teachers!

So there ya go!  Just a  few ideas about spicing up your library!

Hope that helps or inspires someone out there and if you have any other library ideas, questions, or comments, I'd love to hear em!

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Happy MLK Day!! A guided drawing, some watercolor painting, and more!

Time to take down the New Year's stuff and move on to MLK!  This gets to be such a busy, fun time of year with all the great holidays and events coming up... Groundhog's Day, Valentine's, dental health month, 100th day of school, I Love to Read Month, Black History Month... love it!

My class started learning about Martin Luther King, Jr. this week.  I love how my sweet, innocent Kindergarteners can NOT even BELIEVE that people were treated so unkindly in the past. Their little mouths drop open like "say whaaaa?":)

I wanted to share a cool drawing activity we did!  It was good for my kids because most of the people I teach them to draw are kind of "cartoon-y" with round eyes and a curved line for a smile.. you know the type!  So this was their first experience trying to draw a "real-looking person!"

So I just looked at a picture like this to guide myself:
and took them step by step through drawing him... starting with a BIG head that takes up almost the whole page, then modeled how to do football-shaped eyes, make the ears across from the eyes... and so on!  I encouraged them to draw realllly lightly with pencil so they could erase if needed.  I emphasized that theirs won't like exactly like mine or their neighbor's, but it's super cool cause they will ALL end up looking just like MLK!  And they did!

When we finished drawing, they got to add any background they wanted... a solid color or an American flag (or one girl did a Mexican flag--- LOL!) and they turned out gorgeous!  These are Kindergarteners!  I'd encourage anyone to try this with your class- K or older!  I wasn't sure my K babies could do this, but they knocked my socks off.

 We also did some cool watercolor painting on some of MLK's best quotes!  I picked 26 of my faves... you can have them all typed up and ready to go (in both a PDF exactly like mine AND an editable word doc so you can change the font and size if you want) in my Martin Luther King, Jr Project Pack on TpT!

It also includes a really cute craftivity of MLK himself, and several different writing papers they could use to write about "my dream for the world" or to reflect on the quote that they painted and what it means to them.  Check it out!  On sale this week!

Make it a great day!!

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