Cute new blog on the block Set this Circus Down is having a linky party to meet some new friends. Stop by and enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card! Don't forget our own 200th follower contest, which ends Sunday night. Just a few more followers and we'll be able to have a second place winner too! So, spread the love my friends!
P.S. How cute is my new signature??  Here's the how to!
*Check out Mrs. Miner's Monkey Business for another great Interactive White Board Linky*

Thoughts of a Third Grade Teacher is hosting a linky party about Smartboard lessons. So timely for me, as I've been glued to the couch creating new Smart attendance files for next year for the past 2 days! I actually have had the Smart Airliner for the past 5 years. While I loved it at first, once I went to the big FETC technology conference in January, I was ruined. I went back to school and begged for a real board. Times being what they are, there just isn't money to buy one right now. However, I just learned that through a weird twist of fate, I actually will have one in my room next year! So, I'm super excited!

I've been creating Smartboard lessons for a few years now. It really plays to my creative side. I think I'm a frustrated graphic designer at heart and this gives me a serious outlet! If you have any questions about what I've done to create the lessons below, just ask! I learned most of what I know through trial and error. Although I attended a lot of trainings, none of them really got into the creative stuff that I loved. Maybe I should start a series of tips I've picked up along the way...leave me a comment if that's something you'd be interested in. That would be fun if ya'll are interested!

Most of the lessons I'm sharing here are in my TpT store and a couple of them are free, so be my guest and download them! I linked most of the pictures to the listing so you can download the preview which will show you all of the pages.

Here is one freebie ~ it's called Math Mania. I loooooove this. Basically it is a tutorial for how to complete the weekly math review I created. Each page of the notebook file gives directions and an example for each part of the handout (which is attached to the file if you download it).

Another freebie (but only for a limited time) is the introduction to calendar math on the Smartboard (the first pic). I'm working on a new one for each month (You'll see Oct. below). I'm starting simple and then adding more and more skills as the year progresses. 2nd grade is a bit of a transition w/ calendar math, so this is a great way to hold on to the review of essential skills without boring them with the repetition of things they know. After they are comfortable with the format, this becomes one of my centers.

This next one was a fun one to create. It's like a little webquest. Students can click on the clue notepad and link to other pages within the notebook file or external web links. I was pretty proud of this one!

This one was done with special needs students in mind. A very visual way to learn about emotions. I had this one on the Smart Exchange for a while and I actually had a lot of SpEd teachers contact me about how useful it was for them. That made me feel all good inside, for sure :)

Another great way to use the board every day is with attendance files. This is going to be so much fun next year with a real board! Kids just move their name or number to the appropriate spot as they enter, so a quick glance of the board shows who's absent and present. (Shameless plug: These are now available in my TpT store. 20 pages for less than 50 cents each!)

I'm so fascinated with the software and how easy it is to create exactly what I need. Here are a few more pictures of some of my creations. Let me know if I can help you unleash your inner creative diva!

Well my friends, we have reached a new milestone ~ 200 blog followers! I'm honored that so many of you landed here one way or another and decided to stick around. I am enjoying blogging more than I ever thought I would and I sincerely hope you're enjoying my ramblings!

To celebrate, I've come up with a little contest. So let's get right down to business. Here's what you can win: A $15 Amazon gift card AND 5 free items of your choice from my TpT store!

Now, I'm going to sweeten the pot even more. If by some miracle I reach 250 followers by the end of the contest I will pick a second place winner who will also get to choose 5 items of their choice from my TpT store!

Here's how to win:
Each of the following tasks will earn one entry. Just leave a separate comment on THIS post for each one you choose to complete before Sunday, July 3rd at midnight EST.
  • Be or become a follower of this blog. 
  • Be or become a follower of my TpT store.
  • Download and leave feedback for any of my free items listed on TpT. Each item you download and rate is worth another entry!
  • Like me on Facebook.
  • Blog about this giveaway on your blog.
Thank you so much for being here. I hope I've made you feel comfy enough to hang around for a while.
 I visit ProTeacher and Second Grade Teachers Club A LOT and the teachers over there are super amazingly awesome.  Last summer around this time I kept seeing post after post about Vistaprint so I became intrigued and holy cow ~ an addiction was born! The secret to Vistaprint is that once you order one little thing from them, you get put on their mailing list which taunts you with some freakishly good discounts and free items. I tested the theory and bought this pen (& this pen only) for my trial run:

Almost immediately my inbox was filled with crazy good discounts that I would have thought too good to be true, had it not been for those testimonials on ProTeacher and 2nd Grade Club.  So, I just thought I'd pass along some of the things I ended up ordering. Most of them were free and some were just a few dollars. Even with shipping, I bet I spent less than $30.00 total on everything on this page. So, in order from worst to best purchase, here is my Vistaprint haul:

My least useful, kind of a waste purchase is this little tote bag. First of all, what teacher needs another tote bag, right? But this one was all cute and natural canvas and I was proud of the snarky "green" comment I designed.  I imagined myself proudly bringing my eco-friendly bag shopping,  feeling all granola-chic. The only problem is that this picture of the bag is actual size. Ok, maybe it's a bit bigger, but not much. I could probably fit a pack of notebook paper inside, but certainly not much else. So if you need a teeny tiny tote, go for it. Otherwise, I'd skip this one:

The next least useful item is this banner. It's actually a really nice quality vinyl banner. Colors are great and it came just as I ordered it. The problem with this one is that it's about a trillion times bigger than the picture. Ok, that's another exaggeration. Actually, it's about 4 feet by 2 feet. I knew the size when I ordered it, but I never quite found the right place to hang it. The plan was to have kids sign the banner when they reached the top of our behavior chart system, but sadly it ended up staying rolled up next to my umbrella all year. Maybe next year. Maybe I need to do something about my obvious problem judging measurements.


I realize I'm not being the best advocate for Vistaprint here, but it gets better. Next up is this T-Shirt. It was free, so of course I had to find some use for it. I figured this would be good for Just Say No week. Problem with this? For some reason, we didn't really celebrate Just Say No week for the first time in my 18 year career! So, not much use from this one...yet.

Next on the list would be T-shirt #2. Love the comment I came with for this one, too! I was feeling very sassy last summer, huh? I actually did get some use out of this shirt. So the list starts to improve significantly from here. It's a nice quality heather gray, much softer than the white one above. Order them a big bigger, it ran kind of small.

Moving on, we get to these postcards. They are larger than a standard postcard and great quality. Nothing wrong with these at all. I ordered them to participate in a postcard exchange that I signed up for through ProTeacher. I'm signed up for another exchange this year, but I don't think I'll use these again. The postcards we received from the other classes around the country were actual touristy postcards that were more specific to the area. So what do to with the other 50 of these I have left? Umm...a cute art project with cutout flip flops?

The next three items are in a tie. They are return address labels. The first one I used as a sticker that I attached to the kids' center response sheets  (they also got a roll of Smartie's candy if they kept up with the response sheets all week). The second one is just a label for my books. And finally, my favorite label was the conference request sticker that I would just stick in their agenda books. Our school mascot is the gator, so those worked out well.

Next is the business card collection. One was for a homework pass reward. The AR Star card was placed in their report card at the end of each quarter and were a BIG hit) and the final one is for my TpT store. I need to get better at handing those out...

This beauty is a lawn sign. I'd say it's about 3ft by 2 ft, but then again it seems that I have a serious problem with estimating measurements. It hangs over my class library. I also added some cute wall decals from the dollar store that match the flowers. I love this corner. I hope I can recreate it in my new room in the fall:

Next up is this spacey magnet. It's business card sized (yes, I'm sure) and I got 25 FREE! This was a huge savings for me. I usually print these myself and run them through my Xyron on laminated magnetic paper, which can get expensive and is time consuming. I give these out at Meet & Greet and I will definitely be ordering these again.

The next two items are self inking stamps and they got A LOT of use. I used the red one for things we worked on together at small group and the other was used every morning to quickly mark spelling homework. Remarkably, the kids are the ones who actually used the stamps and they worked all year. Durable little suckers! They are still going strong, but now I can't be without them, so I'd totally have to replace them when they do go.

And, Ta-da!! My favorite item is this sticky note pad. I just like the coffee theme and the comment I had printed on it. I've used these like crazy and still have a bunch left. But they are just so me!
I'm not one to suffer alone in my addiction, so I invite you to join me in Vistaprint mania. 
You're Welcome. 

I had to edit this to add one more picture. The day after I published this post, this was the email I received from Vistaprint. If I didn't know any better, I'd think they were a follower!

A not so sunny thing has happened in my little corner of the world. Sadly, I learned that one of my former students was among the victims of the recent Russian plane crash. Liza, both of her parents and 5 year old sister were all on board the plane and none of them survived. I had Liza in 2nd grade about 5 years ago. Her parents were wonderfully supportive and Liza was just a little angel.

Her full name was Yelizaveta. I remember looking at that name before I met her and feeling bad because I knew that I was going to mispronounce it. However, when I met her at Meet & Greet, she came with supplies labeled "Liza". Sweet nickname for this little cutie. So, I went about calling her Liza (as did the rest of the class) for the better part of a month before I met her parents at Open House. They referred to her as "Lisa". The next day at school, I questioned her about how to pronounce her name and she too said, "Lisa". When I asked her why she didn't correct me all this time she said she didn't want to be disrespectful. That's the kind of girl she was ~ sweet, respectful, a bit shy. She was compassionate and kind, a friend to all. She easily navigated between the different social groups that begin to emerge in second grade. She was a little peacekeeper, always trying to bridge differences and bring everyone together when those inevitable squabbles would emerge. Liza grew to enjoy singing, playing the piano and gymnastics. She was one of the middle school's top students, excelling in gifted classes and an accelerated math program. She was a beautiful girl, so young and innocent. It's hard not to question why something like this would happen to her, to her whole family. But the only thing to do now is find a way to preserve her memory and celebrate her short life. Rest in peace Simanova family.

Perhaps they are not the stars, but rather openings in Heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy.  ~Author Unknown

I attended a training for our new science series this week and a little thing that we did in the first ten minutes made the whole 2 days worthwhile. I think this is one of those things that I've seen before, but forgot about and I'm so glad I was reminded of it this week!

So, if I'm a little late to the party forgive me, but I thought this was a great little tip to pass along. (You may also want to get your sunglasses, this paper turned nuclear when I photographed it!) These are super easy, make in a snap journals. These happen to be for science, but you can use them so many different ways. (If you like these for science, I uploaded the covers here).

First, fold some blank paper inside the cover. Then make a slit on the spine at the top and bottom. Slide a rubber band into the slit and PRESTO! A cute little journal! No staples, no fuss, no muss.

 If your journal gets all scrunchy like this one,  make your slits a little longer or use a longer rubber band.
I loved this idea, but I prefer for my kids to have lined paper to write on. 
So, with just a little tweak, you can easily have a lined journal. 
As a general rule, putting rubber bands in the hands of seven year olds might sound a little scary, but this is so darn awesome, I just may have to take my chances! If you've used these before, leave me a comment. I'd love to hear about it!
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