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Scent-sational team gift idea!

Right about now I should be in the middle of literacy block, but instead, I'm in my living room having a late breakfast and my 5th cup of coffee thanks to Tropical Storm Isaac. It's a snow day equivalent for us Floridians. Here's a glimpse of what's happening in my backyard...
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The rain bands and wind gusts have been much stronger throughout the day yesterday and all night. It's been pretty much non-stop raining for the the last 20 hours. The canal in my backyard is usually about 4-5 feet lower than it is now. It could definitely be much worse, but I'm super glad I don't have to be driving around or corralling kids to and from lunch and dismissal in this!

While I had some time, I thought I'd share the welcome gift I made for my teammies this year. I love my team. seriously. This year I gave them all my favorite Yankee Candle room spray, Beach Walk. They were on sale at about $5 each. Look online for coupons, you can usually find some. I just tucked them in a clear bag w/some shreddies and added a tag. You can download the tag {HERE} from GoogleDocs if you want to make some yourself.



I don't always love air freshener sprays, but this one is awesome! Very clean and beachy. They all seemed to like it. I keep one stashed in my school bathroom in a metal trash can (feminine disposal thing?) that never gets used. My little beachy secret...

Here's another cute gift idea. A new teacher at our school gave one of these attached to a bag of m&m's to every single teacher! Sweet, right? I don't have the printable to share, since I didn't create this one.


I hope all my Florida peeps are staying dry. Let's all cross our fingers and send hurricane moving vibes to keep Isaac away from New Orleans and everyone else for that matter...
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Common Core Kickin' Combo Giveaway!


Calling all second grade teachers!  Do you want some "Kickin" Common Core resources to help you start this school year? Then this is the giveaway for you! Saddle up and join in the fun with our ...Common Core Kickin' Combo Giveaway!  I am thrilled to partner up with three other amazing bloggers and top sellers on Teachers Pay Teachers...Yvonne from Sassy in Second and Emily and her sister Heidi from Second Story Window!  These gals have mastered Common Core and have designed resources that go beautifully together!  Here are some pics to show what all we are giving away and how you can best use all of the resources in your second grade classroom.  That is right...we will be giving one lucky winner ALL of the packets mentioned below!
Denise at Sunny Days in Second Grade
Sunny Day's TpT Store
I have designed these Common Core assessments for all second grade ELA and Math Common Core standards.  These packets provide everything a second grade teacher needs this year for formative or summative assessment. Very child friendly and right on target for checking mastery of the standards!

              Emily and Heidi at Second Story Window
               Second Story Window's TpT Store


Emily and Heidi at Second Story Window have created these amazing Common Core practice sheets for all second grade Common Core standards!  Your students will have plenty of skill practice with their awesome morning work, homework sheets, and Common Core fluency passages!  You have to see these packets to believe them!

               Yvonne at Sassy in Second
               Yvonne Dixon's TpT Store

Yvonne at Sassy in Second has created Common Core Notebooks to help with Common Core portfolios and student-led conferencing!   Included are Essential Question cards and Word Wall vocabulary to support Common Core instruction. The notebooks place students in charge of collecting their own artifacts as evidence of learning the Common Core Standards.   Math Journal Prompts for a Complete School Year are included for daily practice of Common Core math skills.
You get daily practice sheets and homework helpers to support your Common Core instruction!  These sheets are supportive of your Essential Question and Vocabulary Word Wall cards provided in the Common Core Notebook.  As your students use the morning work and homework practice sheets they master the standards.  Use Second Story Window's practice sheets to provide the evidence of learning to place in the portfolios. The reading fluency passages are coded with the standards so students can file them behind the domain cards and standards as evidence in their notebooks.
You will receive assessments for all of the Math and ELA Common Core Standards to check for mastery of skills.  These formative or summative assessments are a wonderful way to see who has mastered certain standards and to see who still needs to work on Common Core learning goals.  Once students show evidence of learning the standards, they file their assessments behind the domain cards in the Common Core Notebooks attached to an Evidence of Learning Form from the Common Core Notebook.
We are excited to give away all of these Common Core goodies to one lucky winner!  There is no purchase necessary.  All you have to do is become a follower of our blogs, follow our TpT stores,  and spread the word of this giveaway either with a tweet, Facebook, or Pinterest (your choice).  Leave your comment on Sassy in Second letting us know you've done all three things along with your email. 
We'll pull the lucky winner from comments left only on Sassy in Second on Saturday night (Sept. 1st) at 10:00! 

Good luck and thank you for participating in our Common Core Kickin' Giveaway!  
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Classroom Jobs Made Easy

For the first 15 years or so of my teaching career (which makes me sound older than dirt!) I chose and displayed classroom jobs the traditional way. I had the requisite door holder, line leader, paper passer, etc. This works. It worked for me, kinda, for many moons.

Over the years I had a few problems that irked me. First the perpetual moaning that so-and-so hasn't been line leader in forever (from both students and their parents). Then there was the fact that I would usually forget to change over the jobs until Monday when we were heading out of the room for the first time in a rush and we had no door holder. If I did remember, I was annoyed by the time it took me to pick all the jobs and move the little cards around the bulletin board. I also have limited bulletin board space and really can't staple much to the walls. All of these things were livable though. The one thing that really annoyed me was that I could never remember who was supposed to do what! I can't even tell you the number of times I would be standing with a stack of papers in my hand asking, "Where are my paper passers? Who are my paper passers? Paper Passers Please??!!" as I squinted across the room to try to read the names on the job chart.

So, in an effort to maintain my sanity and eyesight, I came up with another solution. I now have just 2 daily helpers who do pretty much EVERY job that needs to be done in a day. I choose two kids each day to be my Boehm Buddies and they get to be line leader, door holder, paper passer, errand runner, and so on and so on. Here's how we display the jobs this year:

This is on the front whiteboard. That magnetic pocket is awesome for this. I actually had it for a while and wasn't sure how to use it. I printed all of the kids names on cute little graphics and added a magnet to the back. Now all the kids who have not had a job yet live in the front pocket. After a kid has a turn at being a  Boehm Buddy, their name goes in the back pocket until all have had a turn, then we start over again.

I'm loving this set up. Last year, I had their names on little fish cut-outs that lived in this pelican. It was cute, but kind of hard to dig down into to get their names out, then I had to keep the ones already picked on top of the pelican bill which was kind of a pain.


I have also found that some kids are just not cut out for some jobs. And some jobs require some training and commitment on the part of the job holder. So, in addition to daily Boehm Buddies, I have some jobs that are permanent. Permanent as in all year or until I realize I made a horrible mistake by choosing that kid for that job.One permanent job is for 2 librarians. When my kids are done with a book, they don't return it to the proper basket. Instead I have them all put them in the book return basket. This year, it's the cute owl basket perched on the shelf. (this was before the library was all finished. Excuse the naked baskets...)

I teach the librarians how to follow the stickers to return the books to the proper baskets and they do it whenever they have a few free minutes. I make sure to pick kids who are fast finishers and seem pretty organized. I can spot my potential librarians pretty quickly.

Other permanent jobs include tables washers and floor sweepers. Each class chooses a team of 3 to stay behind the class and clean the lunch table and sweep the floor. From the volunteers, I usually choose three kids who seem to work well together and can handle the few minutes of freedom they get walking back to the classroom by themselves.

Other permanent employees include my tech team (2 kids who can turn the computers off and on and troubleshoot minor problems) and one final job is the clip keeper. That lucky little kid makes sure all of the clips on our clip chart are moved back to Ready to Learn for the next day.

Even if a nugget has a permanent job, they also stay in the rotation for Boehm Buddy. So hypothetically, my Boehm Buddy might also be my librarian.

Since I've changed to this simpler system, I've been much happier. Kids get to do all the jobs and more often than they used to. I only have to remember two kids each day, and everyone seems to be ok with the whole shebang.

At this stage in the game, anything that simplifies my life and saves my sanity is too good to keep to myself, so I just thought I'd share the idea with you. I'd love to hear your thoughts on class jobs!

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Barnyard Buzzers!

One of the  many fabulous perks of blogging is being asked to review and give away educational products from time to time. I only accept reviews for products that I think real teachers will be able to use and from companies that allow me to share with my readers. I'm picky like that. I'm excited to share that I have several reviews and giveaways lined up for you over the next few weeks!


Today I have a fun little product from Learning Resources. It's a set of 4 Barnyard Buzzers. These fun little buttons have lots of uses that I can think of.

Imagine having the kids work in groups to solve a problem and use their buzzer to indicate they've found an answer. You could also set up a game-show type review and have the kids "buzz in" with their answers. I was thinking of Scoot games. How fun would it be to push one of these and have the kids move to a moo or bark instead of you saying scoot every few minutes?  These just add a fun, little interactive element to so many classroom activities. They can even be used to signal transitions between activities or to announce the end of silent reading or group work. You can use them for games like Heads Up, Seven-Up to signal when the kids should lift or lower their heads. I'm sure you can probably think of even more fun uses for these little buzzers.


You'll need some AAA batteries and a small phillips-head screwdriver to get the buzzers up and running. I happen to keep both handy, so I was all set! I love this little hammer/screwdriver combo tool I picked up at Sears a while back. It's crazy how much I use that thing! (Great team mate gift idea!)

Once the batteries were in and the back screwed on, I got to start playing. The instant I tested them out, my kids' ears perked up! They definitely work as attention getters! The sound was loud enough to be heard over quiet table voices, but not obnoxiously loud. The animals sounds were realistic and short enough to be cute without being annoying. They seem pretty sturdy even after being used by my second graders for a quick buzz-in math review. I love that they each make a different sound. It completely takes the guesswork out of who buzzed in first. It also gave me a fun way to call on the groups. I could either call them by their animal name or the color of the buzzer.

All in all, these are a great addition to my classroom and I'm so happy that one of you will also get to have a set! To enter, just use the Rafflecopter gadget below. The winner will be announced next Monday and you will be notified via email if you are the lucky duck! (Oh, and say a little hurricane re-direction prayer my way if you don't mind. South Florida is in the "cone of uncertainty" for Hurricane Isaac. Eek!)

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a Rafflecopter giveaway


First Day Fun!

Today was the first day with my new nuggets. Man, they are cute! I think this might be one of those groups I just super fall in love with. Of course, this was just day one, so we'll re-evaluate after the honeymoon phase is over. I do tend to fall in love fast and hard, but usually it sticks, so I'm feeling pretty good!

I have an interesting schedule this year:
See that pink spot there, that's pretty much all the learnin' time I have for my new nuggets. I'm not sure how exactly I'm going to squeeze it all in, but here are a couple of things we did today. First we played the name game. We made a big circle and the kids had to describe themselves with an alliterative adjective. Then we tossed the ball and the kids had to say all the kids who came before them and then add their name. We helped each other out, it's kind of hard to remember all those names in a row! They were all giggly and silly and it got them out of their seats for a bit. Really though, that game is kind of for me. It really helps me remember their names! We had Fun Francisco, Difficult Daniel, Active Alyssa, Lazy Luca just to name a few...

Next up -  Get Ready for Second Grade Amber Brown balloon pop! I read the book and then we each took turns popping a balloon that had a comprehension question rolled up inside. (I recruited a parent to do the balloon blowing and stuffing at our Sneak a Peek on Friday). I don't have the questions to share with you all. I was just given a printed copy by one of my teamies. I'll try to scan it to share in the next few days, but really you can just type up some easy-peasy questions and cut them up. It was seriously nothing fancy - but the kids L-O-V-E-D it! Turns out their little booties were not really big enough to pop the balloons, so I may have helped them along with secretive swipe of a push pin...






The only other thing we really got to was our first day handprint puzzle. I really have no idea where this originally came from. I don't think it's anything anyone was selling, but if it is - someone please tell me! Until I'm arrested by the copyright police you can download it from GoogleDocs {HERE}.


I ordered blank puzzles from Amazon which you can find {HERE} and then we each traced our handprint and colored in the whole thing, glued the poem onto an envelope and took the puzzle apart and put it inside, sealed it up and sent it home! 


All in all, a pretty fun day. We also listened to the Indie Children's station on Pandora most of the day and they really seemed to dig it. That made me happy happy because last year's kids did NOT dig the whole music thing. They preferred to talk loudly OVER the music which just annoyed me to no end so eventually I just stopped trying. It was so nice to play it today and have the kids actually like it and listen to it and giggle to the silliness of some of the songs. Like I said, I think I'm falling in love...
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Classroom Tour 2012

Welcome to my 2012 classroom! It will probably never look this neat and organized again, so let's enjoy it now, shall we? My room is on the small side, but I'm pretty happy with this year's arrangement. It still feels kind of open and spacious even with so much stuff stuffed in it!

So, come on in!

This is my hallway bulletin board. We have a school-wide superhero theme this year:


This year we had a great tri-fold brochure for parents to take home from our Sneak-a-Peek meet the teacher shebang. So I put that along with my Ready Confetti gift, an additional supply list and the cute guide book for new second graders in a little gift bag and set one on each desk. I thought it would be easier than trying to be sure each family actually took home one of each thing.
My kids made the guide books at the end of last year for this year's class. They were a great freebie from my friend Rachel at Sub Hub. You can download the book here from TpT.




 Here's a view from the front door, looking in:

If you walk in and turn to the right, you'll see our library:



Our clipchart, crate seats and little laptop table (Ikea):


Group work table is right past the library. I've never had a table here, we'll see how it goes...

This is the back wall and the door to my neighbor's room is behind the chart stand. The other door is the potty. I use the toy bin to hold supplies.

Computer area and naked bulletin board which will become a word wall someday (soon, hopefully!):

Beyond the computers is another little reading nook with a big book stand I rescued from the trash (shhh..) another little Ikea $8 table and our Brain Builders board:


Just in front of that little nook is my horseshoe table (thanks to Donor's Choose). You can see all of my shelving is well stacked and stuffed - but pretty organized. I looooooove having all the bright natural light from my windows.

This bulletin board is going to be a student work board as soon as I change it over...

A corner of my desk...

 The front of my desk w/my shoe rack GeoSafari holder and my homemade chart stand. I got that black ottoman from Walmart. I love sitting on that when I read to the kids. I feel a little closer to them and more on their level.

Target foam clocks to show our schedule times. (Pretty sure I saw that on Pinterest awhile back)

 My little corner next to the desk. How cute is that owl? Got him at Michaels...

My attempt at the decorated Sterlite drawers.

Part of my picture book addiction collection...


Some views from my desk:


My super cute dismissal clip chart from my friend and co-worker Caitlin from Kindergarten Smiles. You can find it in her TpT store here.

And back to the front of the room. I had some random pictures from the last few years playing in a slideshow during the meet and greet to give the kids and parents an idea of what we'll be doing this year:



So, that's my room! I'm pretty pleased with it this year. And I have to say, my new little nuggets are really super cute and their parents seem so warm and supportive. I've got a good feeling about this bunch!

I'm set up for Monday, but I'm sure my brain will still be working overtime all weekend. Has anyone found the cure for Teacher Brain Syndrome yet?

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Day 1 Pictures and a Freebie!

I am officially back to work. I am officially tired. I am officially the owner of the two most sore feet EV-ER! My fingers are sore from opening boxes with my fingernails and my migraines have made a suspicious reappearance after leaving me all summer. I thought we broke up, but I guess not.  Already my lazy days of reading trashy romance novels and working on my own time feels like a distant memory... I know I'm preaching to the choir here. But you get me, right? We can be honest with each other. The first week back is TOUGH. It's dirty, hot, overwhelming, and exhausting both mentally and physically. And that's before the kids even walk in the door! Thankfully, once they do it all suddenly seems so worth it. I'm really looking forward to meeting my new little nuggets this Friday.

So, here's what I've been up to. We were welcomed back with this fantastic new teacher's lounge makeover. It's like an Ikea showroom. The pix don't do it justice. We used to have 3 round tables with mix-matched chairs all crammed on top of each other with nothing pretty on the walls, one janky old microwave I wouldn't even think of using because it had about 5 years of other people's lunches baked into it and it was just kind of blah. Looks super cute now, right? I'll get a close up of that long bulletin board in the back. They added a painted wood frame w/molding and it looks so nice up close!


Then we had a faculty meeting for about 2 hours. High points: reconnecting with my peeps & a breakfast provided by our uber generous PTA. Low points: pretty much the rest. It wasn't terrible or even unnecessary and actually shorter than I expected,  but really, does anyone love faculty meetings? These cute little placemats welcomed us to the table. I, for one, appreciate little touches like this.


So, next I went to my room. I already got a nice head start last week, so I hung up my AR Points goal banner. I love the pennant craze that I'm seeing all over, but I didn't really have room for a welcome one, so I made this one! The kids will move their itty-bitty clothespin (Wal-mart find) to the next flag when they reach that number of points. You can download it free from TPT if you think you want to use it in your room. Just click {HERE}


Then I spent way too long trying to get this ginormous sticker off of my duck which I still have no idea what I'm going to do with.


Then another meeting that I didn't take a picture of. You're not missing anything, trust me. Then I left right on time to meet one of my besties who was visiting from Michigan. No pic of that either. But she did bring me the best cupcakes in the world (Misha's for my local peeps). I ate four one when I drove got home. And then I cried a little because I miss her. a lot.


Then, I barely remember the rest. I'm pretty sure a shower was part of the rest of the night but I can't be one-hundred percent sure. Nobody stayed particularly far away from me the next day, so chances are good I did.

So, that brings you up to speed on Day 1. Tomorrow is Day 3. I'm already behind. Sounds about right...


For more freebies to start the year off right, visit the ever-amazing TBA!
Freebie Fridays



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