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March Madness!

Anyone who knows me knows that I won't be confused for Sporty Spice any time soon. I've never really been a big fan of playing, watching or talking about sports. I spent 4 years marching in the high school band and I learned how to pretend to be excited and sad at all the right moments by watching the crowd instead of the players! So when my friend Adrianne Meldrum from Kids CogWorks offered to guest post about sporting up some March lessons I was super excited because goodness knows y'all weren't going to get that from me!  Enjoy, my friends!


In my home, I am surrounded by the male species. There is my husband and then my three sons. As you can imagine, March around here really is "Madness". Everyone in the house enjoys basketball (any sport) except for me. I can't wait for summer to come when sports simmer down a little. But as you know, there is always something! Sports can keep boys attention longer than most things. How can you use this to your advantage with students? I say, step out of your comfort zone and think about what is appealing about sports. Here is my short list: 1. It's active! You get to move and jump. No holding still while playing sports. 2. Super fun...most people can't help but smile when playing with their friends. 3. Sports are real! No scripted drama here, real people playing a real game. You don't have to be an expert to incorporate sports into your classroom! I encourage you during March to have sports books in your reading corner. Non fiction books about basketball are a great resource too. Choose books with detailed pictures and diagrams. Here are a few basketball suggetions: The Everything Kids Basketball Book Salt in His Shoes: Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream J is for Jump Shot: A Basketball Alphabet Slam Dunk: My Basketball Book Little Basketball (Rhymes and Riddles) Basketball: How it Works Let students do a report on sports. Even girls could enjoy this! Have a themed sports week or basketball week for March Madness. I made the readers of Sunny Days a freebie to show you just one way you could incorporate basketball in your classroom. Click on the picture below to get yours!
Adrianne Meldrum has a degree in Elementary Education. She currently tutors struggling readers and middle school math students. She is the author of Kidscogworks.com and creator of Brain Tower . Adrianne is the wife of an engineer and a mother to three very handsome boys.
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Put Those Paint Samples to Use!

I am reading THE cutest book with my kids - Clementine by Sara Pennypacker. Know it?


This is the second year I've read this book and sadly, I still haven't come up with great activities to go along with it. But Im starting now! I actually just found this great free teacher's guide written by the publisher. Woot! In the book Clementine is a precocious little girl in third grade, who is sent to a gifted class, but is disappointed because there are no gifts! She is always in trouble for not paying attention, but she swears she IS paying attention (but to all the wrong things, like egg stains on her teacher's shirt or the birds outside the window) This book is incredible as a mentor text for voice and word choice, among other things and it's such a sweet story about friends and family relationships. Really, I could go on and on about this book - it's just freakin adorable and the lessons just pop right off the page.

In one part of the book, Clementine talks about how the most exquisite words are found in the bathroom. Like mascara, fluoride and laxative! With a name like Clementine to match her orange hair and a black cat named mascara, a lesson on word choice is begging to be taught! I have been hoarding collecting paint samples from Home Depot and this was the perfect way to use them. Just do a search on Pinterest for paint chips and it's easy to see I'm not the only one!

I passed out samples to small groups and had them investigate the names of the colors. I found that Glidden paints had names that were most kid friendly like Cool Cucumber, Sandy Feet, Bubblegum, Banana Cream Pie and Mint Shake (except for sexy pink which slipped past me. oops!) They loved reading them and comparing the colors, choosing favorites and discussing which ones they would use to paint the classroom if they could!

Then we discussed the colors a bit and talked about how some people actually have the job of naming paint colors, nail polish colors and crayon colors (how do you land that gig? I could totally be an OPI rockstar!) Then we took out our writer's notebook and created a few samples of our own. They were very intense in guarding their new paint names. I was told to stop giving examples because I was taking all the good ones! lol! I forgot to take pictures of the drafts in their writers notebooks. darnit.

The next day we used this little printable to publish our final version of our invented paint color.  Click {HERE} to download a copy.  Creative kids, huh?

Seriously, Fire to the Rain?? They don't even know about my girl crush on Adele! Yes, now the song is going through my head too...

It's a shade of girly pink...love it!

Funny Dirt, Weird Dirt, Garages...this is boy territory.

It's so "earthy!" I may even use it for MY indoor atrium! lol!


Mixed up Madness. I do love a good rainbow after a terrible storm.
This might be my favorite. It's James P. Sullivan from Monsters, Inc.! Of course in his writer's notebook it was
James Pee Soloman...nothing a little editing can't solve.



Even if you're not reading Clementine, you can certainly use this great lesson on word choice with the paint chips that you probably have stashed away somewhere (I'm not the only one, right?). Another great mentor text for this lesson would be My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss - super easy to fit in during your Seussapalooza next month. Have students make connections between colors and feelings, how different colors set a mood, convey a tone, etc. You can also try The Mixed Up Chameleon and discuss the way the chameleon associates colors with different attributes (strong and white like a polar bear, handsome like a pink flamingo, etc). Of course there's always I Love You the Purplest which is great for Mother's Day.

There are also some great lessons to be had here about sentence fluency. One of the descriptions is actually a question and the other has a touch of alliteration. Depending on what skill you want to target and how deep you want take it, this lesson could span one day or an entire week.

Feel free to make it your own! I'd love to see what you do with it :)

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P.S. Before you go, be sure you've read this post about the crazy awesome Pinterest contest!

Win $200 to Amazon.com!


If you had $200 to spend on Amazon, what would you buy? Well, my friends, start making a list because two people will each win a $200 Amazon gift card in this very Pinteresting contest!



Charity Preston of the Organized Classroom Blog is the mastermind behind this very special event which is sponsored by Marygrove College and eleven teacher bloggers (including yours truly!)
Here's how you can enter to win:
  1. Click to go to Charity's Pinteresting Teacher Blog board where you'll find a dozen "Pinteresting" teacher blogs. 
  2. Create a board on your Pinterest account titled "Pinteresting Teacher Blogs" and repin all twelve pins from Charity's board onto your own board with that title.
  3. Complete the entry process by filling out and submitting this Google Doc form before 10 p.m. EST on February 26th.
That's it!  Follow those three steps and you'll be entered to win a $200 gift card! That's a seriously awesome prize. Am I right? If you're anything like me, Pinterest has become a daily habit anyway, so you might as well enter while you're there!

If you need an invite to join Pinterest, just leave your email address in the comments and I'll send one your way.


P. S. Thanks to all the blogs who joined with me to sponsor this event including Marygrove College MAT blog, Sunny Days in Second Grade, Technically Invisible, Sub Hub, Teaching Resources by Shelley Gray, Cooperative Learning 365, The Organized Classroom Blog, 3rd Grade Gridiron, The Lesson Plan Diva, Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies, and The Cornerstone for Teachers!
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Is Your Classroom Sub Friendly?

I am so pleased to welcome guest blogger Rachel Friedrich from Sub Hub to the blog today. Leaving your students in the care of someone else can strike fear in the heart of even the most veteran teacher. Time and time again, I've heard (and said) it's just easier to go in sick than have a sub take over. Well, today Rachel is here to share some insights from a sub's point of view. With her advice and the help of some of her FREE emergency sub plans  you'll be able to stay home and not worry about anything besides having enough hot tea and tissues!

Making Your Classroom Sub Friendly
By Rachel Friedrich
I know it’s happened to you at one time or another. You had to be out and have a sub, but when you came back, your classroom looked like World War III had struck. I know you thought, “What did that sub do?” (You probably used a few other choice words as well, and your students told you all sorts of horror stories.) I know. I have seen it happen on more than one occasion. Sometimes this happens because you got one of those subs who just does not belong in a classroom. But sometimes, the situation could have been avoided with a bit more advanced planning. Making your classroom sub friendly will have benefits for the sub, and for you upon your return. The great thing is that many of these tweaks will translate into a more successful overall classroom as well.

Be Organized.
Everything should have a labeled place. Your sub plans and materials should be in in one place like a sub binder or a sub tub. Have all those items you use daily like nurse passes, hall passes, sticky notes, pens, etc. in one place as well. You want everything a sub would need to be handy, just like would want it to be for you.

Have Consistent Classroom Management
If your classroom management is consistent and visible, the students already know how to play the game no matter who is in the classroom. And a sub can just step right in and continue your system.

State Your Expectations
Make sure you have talked to your students about your expectations when a sub is there. This discussion needs to happen well in advance of when you actually need to be out. Then if it is a planned absence, all you have to do is remind. If it is an emergency absence, the students will already know the expectations.

Over Plan
Yes, when I sub, I enter the room with my own bag of tricks for those times when the lesson plans don’t work, supplies are not available, or there is just some extra time. But not every sub knows to do that. So, write your plans and have some extra activities for those “just in case” times. It is always better to have too much to do than not enough. Busy kiddos tend not to make as many poor choices.

Get to Know the Good Subs
If you see a sub in the hall doing a good job, ask for their contact information. Ask other teachers at your school who the good subs are. Keep a list of all those names and numbers at school and at home, and try to schedule one of those if possible.

Be Specific
In your lesson plans, make sure you specify as much as possible. Put yourself in the sub’s shoes. They do not know your classroom, your students, or your way of doing things. They may not even know your school. If you provide very specific instructions, much confusion can be eliminated. Please, never write, “The students know what to do.” I have seen even the best students develop severe cases of sub amnesia. Arm your sub with knowledge, and don’t have them depend on the students.

Make Your Plans Meaningful
Students and subs know when you have just left busy work. And believe me, it makes for a tough day when the students know that. I can’t tell you how many times students ask me, “Is this for a grade?” I try to answer ambiguously, but it’s pretty darn obvious that a teacher will not take a grade on busy work. Do your best to leave meaningful work, but also keep in mind that many subs are not certified teachers. I know, that’s a tightrope to walk, but it's for the benefit of everyone.

I guarantee you that if you think of these things in advance, it will be much less stressful for you be out… much less stressful for you, your students, and the sub. Then those good subs will be crossing their fingers that you call them when you need to be out, and you will not have to worry.

~Rachel Friedrich is the creator of Sub Hub, a blog for helping teachers and subs learn the art of substitute teaching. She has been a sub herself for four and a half years.
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Little Pocket Sort Review & Giveaway!

When my new blog BFF Brandi over at Really Good Stuff asked if I'd be interested in reviewing a product and hosting a giveaway, it took me about a millisecond to answer, "Yes, Please!" I'm sure you're familiar with Really Good Stuff, but if you're not, be sure to visit them. I've been a longtime fan of RGS because they have such unique and creative resources that you won't find anywhere else.

I got a chance to use the Little Pocket Sort for Cause & Effect. Cause & Effect is one of the toughest skills for my kids to really grasp, so I was super excited to try this out. First of all, how cute are the little folders?! They're about a quarter of the size of a real folder.  Shrink something down and its cuteness factor multiplies, am I right?
So beyond the cuteness, these little folders actually serve a great purpose. Students choose two cards that have the same picture on them. Then they flip them over, read the sentences on the back and decide which card has the cause and which has the effect. They put the cards in the respective pockets, then go on to two more cards. There is also a great helper card that the students can use to help them decide. I used it in a small group for the first time and that little helper card was really a fantastic addition. It also came with the sturdy little denim envelopes you see below. You can use them to hold the cards before you sort them and you can even put certain cards in a pocket to differentiate or organize for small group work. I took my own pictures, but this one straight from RGS really does a much better job of showing you everything you get in this really great product.


There's also an answer key card so the kids can check their work which makes them a great partner activity. Have students take turns choosing a set and adding them to their folder. Then when all the cards are gone, partners can use the answer key to check each other's work.

The whole thing came with a sturdy plastic bag for storage. The only problem is now I MUST have the rack that they sell to hang these on! I've been looking for a solution for storing some of my games and independent activities and I think these racks will do the job nicely. They're really reasonably priced and I deserve a little classroom treat!

So, now on to the giveaway! One lucky reader will get the Cause & Effect Little Pocket Sort that I reviewed. Yay RGS! To enter, you must use RAFFLECOPTER below. When you click on Rafflecopter to enter, it will tell you that you can earn two bonus entries for leaving a comment or spreading the word about the giveaway. So, if you choose that option, just leave a comment or spread the word after you enter on Rafflecopter and you'll automatically be entered twice! For the foreseeable future, I'll be using Rafflecopter for all of my giveaways. It's completely random and I don't have to count up comments :)  The winner will be announced right here on the same Rafflecopter graphic that you're using to enter today. So check back on Saturday to see if you're the lucky winner! (Be sure to click on the "read more" link if you don't see Rafflecopter)

Low Tech Wonders

I have a class of very tech savvy kids who have the latest of everything. Kids in my class had iphones when I still had my pink razor phone. They can navigate around the computer pretty well and have just about every new game, gadget and gizmo on the market, but I have noticed an interesting trend with these little modern nuggets of mine.

It started with an old Etch-a-Sketch in my big box of games that I only pull out on Fun Friday. It's been long ignored because most of them bring in their own games or ipods or DS's. One little guy didn't bring anything one week and ventured over the the box and pulled out the Etch-a-Sketch. By the way he looked at it and held it by one wheel I knew he had no idea what to do. "What IS this thing?!" he called across the room. He honestly had never seen or played with one. Wha?? I'd say about half of the kids kind of knew what it was and the rest of them had absolutely no idea. How is this possible?

Then to add to the old-school vibe, I won a Magic 8 Ball at a party. Naturally, I brought it to school (which is what I do with most stuff I can't figure out what else to do with) and just kind of put it on the counter. The other day I saw a kid pick it up and examine it like it was something totally new and different - because it was! They don't know what a Magic 8 Ball is either! I had to come up with a system for when they could shake it and ask a question because they all wanted to get their hands on it!
I ended up putting it right next to the finished work basket and now they can pick it up and ask one silent question when they turn in a paper.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. On one hand, I'm glad that they know and have access to the latest and greatest technology because that certainly is their future. I also think it's fun to introduce them to some things that I loved from the days before swipe meant more than just taking something that didn't belong to you. On the other hand, I worry that we're raising a generation of kids who will not know how to function should they be without their digital devices. I recently heard a story about a girl who was hysterical because she couldn't get into her locked car because the unlock button on her keychain wasn't working. She didn't even think to put the key in the lock! Have you seen this video with an infant (infant!) who can effortlessly work an ipad and then gets frustrated with a real magazine because it doesn't do anything when she tries to swipe and pinch it? Wow.

So what's the plan? Honestly, I have no idea. I do embrace technology in my room wholeheartedly, but I also make sure that I have a variety of hands-on low tech activities for them as well. I created this math center that I was afraid my gifted second graders would find unappealing, so I held off on putting it into the rotation.
There are task cards for using buttons, pennies, an old school cell phone and calculators and other ordinary objects like markers and paper clips.  Let me tell you - I have to give them lots of reminders to clean up when it's time. They love digging through the button box! Mine has lots of buttons from my husband's grandmother, so there are probably buttons from the 30's in there. They love to examine them and they point out the detail that exists on some of the older buttons compared to the plain plastic buttons on most things they own, especially those humongous buttons that obviously once adorned a heavy winter coat during some harsh New York winters. That gives me a little spark of hope that even though these kids are definitely digital natives, perhaps they won't completely abandon the "olden days" when you actually had to wait for a picture to be developed before you could see it. Time will tell!

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"Really Good" Guest Blogger!

I am so crazy excited to be blog swapping today with Brandi Jordan from The Teachers' Lounge which is Really Good Stuff's blog! If you're covered in snow today, hopefully our posts will help you think ahead to the first signs of spring! Enjoy Brandi's super cute recycled flower idea and then head over to check out my Lucky to be a Family St. Patty's Day project!


Recycled Flower Craft by Brandi Jordan

Spring, with its warmer weather and bright colors, cannot come soon enough after winters dull browns and dreary grey skies.  It is the perfect season for sparking children’s imagination and seeing wonder light up their eyes when they see that first tiny  flower shoot making its appearance.  Unfortunately, spring is also filled with rain that, while it makes the flowers grow, can also lead to restless students (and teachers!).  On those days when you cannot go out to explore the flowers growing on the playground, bring a bit of spring sunshine into class with a recycled craft that is perfect for the new season.

I am a big fan of flowers and love flower-related crafts, because they are an instant pick-me-up.  It is rare to see someone grumpy over flowers!  This craft turns ordinary paper strips into a flower with the help of a bit of glue or tape.  To conserve materials, I used old scrapbook paper that I had from a previous project, but strips from old magazines, leftover strips of construction paper from paper chains, or the pile of not-copied-quite-right papers in the copy room would work well.  The more colorful you want the flowers to be, the more colorful the paper should be, so keep that in mind when selecting materials.

You Will Need:
9 strips of paper per flower - approximately 1.5” wide by 11” long (the length of whatever paper you are using should be fine)
Strong Glue Stick or tape

Getting Started:
1.   Start by separating the paper strips into two piles.  One pile should contain the 7 strips that you want to use for the flower petals and center.  The other pile should include the strip of paper that you want to use for the stem and leaf.
2.  Make a circle out of one of the petal strips and glue or tape it to the end of the stem strip.  Make another circle for the center of the flower and glue or tape it to the opposite side of the same end of the stem. 
3.  Continue making circles with the paper and taping or gluing them around and to the center circle on the flower.  There should be enough room for about 6 petals including the one that you attached first.
4.  After the petals are on, create a circle for the leaf and glue or tape it to the opposite end of the flower stem. 
5.  When the glue has dried completely* and the flowers are done, hang them on a bulletin board or send them home with a Mother’s Day or spring message.

*Tip:  If you are having trouble getting the end of the paper to stick together, use a paperclip to hold each juncture in place and remove it after the glue has dried.

What are some of your favorite spring crafts?  Do you have one that you do year after year or do you alter your craft projects for variety? 

About the Author


Brandi Jordan is a mom, teacher, wife, author, and expert multi-tasker.  She is the Managing Director of Really Good Stuff’s blog, The Teachers’ Lounge, and her newest ebook, A Teacher’s Guide to Using Social Media and The Internet in the Classroom, was just released for free download.  Follow her on Pinterest and chat with her during #TeachChat every other Wednesday night from 9-10pm EST.


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Blogger Threaded Comments Fix!

When Blogger introduced threaded commenting a while back, I was so excited. It basically meant that could reply directly to a comment left on my blog. However, when I did what I was supposed to do, it did NOT work. I could see the and use the reply button from my phone, but not the blog. I tried just about EVERY "fix" I found online and nothing worked.  I am SO happy that I finally got threaded comments to work!!   If you've done all the normal stuff you're supposed to do and it's still not working, try this {Huge disclaimer alert! This worked for me without changing my blog and it should for you too, but I'm not responsible if it doesn't. Capiche?}
I was nervous that it would change up stuff on my blog and I'd go back to a blank template and I'd have to redesign all my cuteness all over again, but I was so desperate for it to work, that I just crossed my fingers, hit save and voila! The only thing that changed was that the reply feature was now working! Yahoo!! So now I can reply to peeps who are nice enough to leave a comment instead of writing a whole new comment myself! So loving that!

For more technology tips head over to my friend Fern's linky!


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You Know You're a Teacher...Linky!

Hey Friends!

Just popping in to join a fun little linky being hosted by my friend Jeannie over at Kindergarten Lifestyle!

There are just some things that only other teachers understand, which makes me REALLY super glad I'm married to another teacher! Well, that and the fact that we're rolling in the dough with our two awesome teacher salaries! Oh wait, that's not right... anyway, here is mine. It actually truly happened to me once. My doctor (who I love and reminds me of an old fashioned country doctor, but is also about to retire which makes me so crazy sad) asked me what time I eat lunch so that he could plan out when I should take a new medication. I replied 11:07 without hesitation and he just looked up at me and said, "Oh, you must be a teacher." Proof that I'm not the only one who's done that!

Feel free to share, pin or join the linky! Have a fantastic Sunday and be sure to eat your Wheaties on Tuesday because as only teachers know, Valentine's Day is not the sweet, calm, no prep holiday where we feel showered with flowers and presents while little bluebirds of happiness circle your head as you walk down the hall. It's more like chasing after 18 sugared up seven-year olds who think it's hilarious to shove the entire box of conversation hearts in their mouth at one time. Oh joy.


PS You can get the graphic {HERE} to make your own & link up!
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Hundred Day Hoopla!



Well, it's 100th day for me, how about you guys? I hope yours hasn't passed yet so you can use what I'm going to share with you today. There's a good freebie way at the end, I swear! I was fake-watching the Super Bowl with my hubs and casually surfing Pinterest to dig up some 100 day ideas when all of a sudden all of the ideas kind of swirled together into one big mass of OMG I HAVE TO DO ALL THIS STUFF FOR TOMORROW! And guess what? I totally did. And I rocked it out. That's right! Uh huh! Ok, now I just look like one of those cocky football players after they finally make ONE decent play.

You would think that after a bajillion years teaching, I'd just open my cabinet and pull out the 100th day box and be ready. Honestly, though, up until a couple of years ago the 100th day just wasn't a second grade thing. K and 1 did it up big and then we kind of said, "Hey kids! It's the 100th day! Now open your math books." I'm not sure when the tide turned, but now I kind of like it. I think I've figured out some ways to make it more age appropriate than bringing in a bag of 100 things or making a shirt with 100 googley eyes on it. So, after last night's whirlwind last minute brainstorm, I think I've got it really down. Honestly, I think these ideas are usually hanging out in my brain, just out of reach of my every day consciousness and then just when I need them they get sucked into the forefront. But I dunno, that's just a theory.

First, I decided to make tickets for my kids to wear around during the day so they would know which centers they've already been to. This was a HUGE departure from my normal teachery self. I  am a centers girl, but in a very organized, very structured way. We have charts to follow and set times and a smooth transition and it works - but it's also something I worked out over weeks and years, not during the second half of the Super Bowl but it actually worked really well. I think it was because I had so many places for them to go and they were all fun activities. After they finished one of the activities they would show me and then I made a hole punch next to it on their ticket. They just moved around the room like this until they completed each activity. It seriously took ALL day!
You can see the list of activities on the ticket. Most of them are self explanatory, but I'll elaborate a bit more on some. I set up each activity in a different spot in the room and left a direction card and all the stuff for the center there. Of course I gave an overview before they started too. Here's an idea of what a station looked like. This was the estimate jar activity:



I raided my kitchen and emptied a bunch of perfectly fine old spices so that I could fill them with random objects that I raided from other parts of the house. I put a number on each bottle and they had to record what was inside and whether they thought the amount was greater or less than 100. I also had them make an estimate. At the end of the day we went over the results together. See that itty bitty jar, #8? It held 500 pieces of rice! They freaked over that one.

We also made a googol (which is a 1 followed by 100 zeroes). I hung out at that station most of the time. They wrote the googol on adding machine tape with the help of a friend and then I taped it to a popsicle stick and wrapped a rubber band around it to take home:


We made 100 gum ball fingerprints thanks to the printable from Making Learning Fun, and the super cute I-Spy activity came from this awesome freebie from Teacher's Chatterbox!

Ok, I think I credited all the super generous shares I found (where else) on Pinterest. Oh wait, there's more! If there was a time when too many kids were at one center, they could go use the bingo markers to decorate a folder with 100 dots, and we ended the day with this awesome 100th Day News you can find here thanks to Teaching Heart :)



I just barely had time to squeeze in a read aloud of The 100th Day of School from the Black Lagoon (SUPER cute book, btw - lots of figurative language that I would have discussed more if I wasn't racing out the door as I was finishing it)




Ok, if you would like the ticket & signs I put out at each center, just click {HERE} to download them from Google Docs. The recording sheet for the bottle activity is {HERE}. Even if you just use them for inspiration for your own stuff, I hope they come in handy!


PS The sheets for the dice rolls, coin flips and homework are in my TpT store. I feel bad, but those were one of the very first things I listed on tpt last year. I went back and forth about making them free, but I felt bad about all the people who already purchased them. If you're interested, those are {HERE} for $2, but feel free to recreate them yourself. I hope all the other freebie stuff makes up for it!

Now I think I deserve a 100 minute nap or 100 chocolate chips or a 100 minute massage...
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Currently in February

It's that time again! Here's what I'm up to currently :)
Head over to Oh Boy 4th Grade to link up!



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Friday Freebie in honor of Pam

Today the teacher blog community is honoring the loss of one of our own, Pam Woods of The Vintage Teacher. Pam was a passionate educator, loyal blogger and enthusiastic supporter and friend of so many. One of her favorite blog events was her weekly Five Friday Freebies round-up. I remember being so flattered as a very newbie blogger when Pam first contacted me to ask my permission to share a freebie. It was her intention to spread the love of teaching and blogging to as many as possible. I, for one, will never forget her kindness.



So today, you may see her blog button pop up all around the bloggerverse. When you do, please send a little love to Pam, who is surely resting peacefully and watching us all from above. Her family has requested that her entire TN and TpT stores be made free to all teachers. Teachers Notebook has honored that request. You can visit her store here and you can also leave a message for the family on Pam's last blog post here.





In honor of Pam, here is a Friday Freebie for you. It's a Valentine edition of my Weekly Word Wizard activities, just click on the picture to download.  Enjoy and hug your loved ones just a little bit tighter tonight <3. We miss you, Pam.
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Spelling City Review & Giveaway!


I have been so excited about sharing this news with you guys! I was recently contacted by Vocabulary Spelling City to see if I would like to try their premium membership AND offer one to my blog readers. Um, yes please!

I've actually been using Spelling City for about three years, so I agreed without hesitation. I have been a big fan of the site mainly because the students love it as a homework option. I can't tell you how many times parents have told me that the the night students can choose Vocabulary Spelling City is the only night that they don't have a homework hassle. That alone was enough for me to love the program.

If you're not familiar with the site, it is a wonderful resource. You can type or import your spelling lists online and then your students can practice by playing highly engaging games with your word lists. That alone is fantastic, but there are so many other things I love. Now that I've been using the site for a couple of years, all of my word lists are already imported and saved. It literally takes me two clicks to publish my new list at the beginning of the week! I got smart and started saving my lists by week number instead of the skill, making it even easier for me to find the right one quickly.

I had the pleasure of meeting Nancy from Vocabulary Spelling City at the Florida Educational Technology Conference last week. She showed me some features of the free membership that I did not even know about. For example, most of the games on VSC are also available in a printed version for your students who may not have computer access. I'm thinking that those printable games would also be great for a word work activity or even to leave with your sub plans. You can also print out handwriting practice and sentence writing practice pages. You can see those {HERE}.

As a premium member, I've been spending some time learning about all of the new resources available to me now - and wow! I can track how much time each student has spent practicing and which games they play. One premium feature I especially like is that I can assign activities to certain students as well.  Kids won't often practice the areas they really need help with without a little push to do so. I can also now also generate reports on each student and you know how important data is! With a premium membership you can even assign different lists to groups in your class, making differentiation easy. Another great benefit is that there are no ads on the premium site.

Did you know that you can check out the premium games without even being a premium member? If you're curious to see what you're missing, just choose a pre-made list from the teacher resource page and you & your students can access all of the games, even the premium ones!

The VSC site itself is really very user friendly, both for the students and you.  There are even free training videos that you can check out {HERE}. If you haven't signed up for their newsletter, click {HERE} to check it out. They are always short and sweet but packed with lots of good information.

So, let's get to the goodies! Vocabulary Spelling City has generously offered a one year premium membership valued at $49.99 to one of my blog followers! Very cool, right? Enter below via Rafflecopter and I'll announce the winner here Monday, February 6. Good luck friends!

Groundhog Goodie & Love Bug Bump

I have never really been one to "celebrate" Groundhog Day. It's kind of a strange holiday and it seemed like K and 1 pretty much had it covered. Well friends,  I think I've converted to Groundhogism! This year I have found some of the cutest stuff! Today was our monthly Tasty Tuesday and we made these yummy little cuties:
I found the inspiration for this on Pinterest. The groundhogs have seriously taken over there too! It's a pudding cup with a crushed up Oreo on top to make dirt. The groundhog is made from a Nila Wafer. Its ears are almond slices and he has mini-marshmallow teeth. We used these candy eyeballs and they really made all the difference! I mean seriously, don't they just bring that little groundhoggie to life? The kids actually liked the way they tasted too, they said it reminded them of a candy necklace. I'll be adding this to my Tasty Tuesday Teacher Guide on TpT (anyone who has purchased this will be able to download the updated version too)  I always have the kids pose with something seasonal for their picture. This is actually an otter Webkinz, but today he played the part of a groundhog. I think it works. The kids didn't seem to notice!
I also found a great free set of printables from Dawn at The Teaching Resource Resort. Click {HERE} to check it out. Her blog is super cute and I think the printables are perfect for second grade.

And finally, to celebrate the start of February, here is the monthly version of Bump! It's called Love Bug Bump, but I purposely tried not to make it to cutesy and girly. Click {HERE} for your copy.
I'm still trying to get my feet on the ground after being away for almost a week. I came back to a data meeting, finishing all of my running records and report cards in two days, oh and actually getting some teaching in there too. I *think* I'm back in the groove, but that is totally subject to change at a second's notice. At least tomorrow is pajama day. Love me some jammie time!
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