I should totally be doing lesson plans or some such teachery-thing, but yet here I am blogging. This is after I spent a while Pintrest-ing (is that a word yet?). I seriously still feel like I'm just treading water as we start to wrap up our second week of school. I think next year I should start to actually DO some of the amazing stuff I collect all year before school actually starts. Seems to me I said this to myself last summer...

I'm really trying to be all sunshiny and focus on the good stuff about being a public school teacher, which is of course the whole reason for this here bloggin thing. I knew the budget cuts would be bad, but holy mama, bad's not the word. It's Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown bad! Ugh. I know you are all feeling the pinch too so I won't elaborate, even though there are some serious clouds getting in the way of my sunshine.

When I'm feeling down, I usually reach for a snack. {This has caused a whole 'nother problem, eek!} But since I can't share a snack with you all, I get to keep all the Sugar Daddies to myself, ha! However, I would like to share something yummy with you in the best way I can. How about a sweet little contest?

This one is as easy as pie (ba dum dum!) I crack myself up. I would love to give away a copy of my Tasty Tuesday writing program to a lucky blog reader. If you are a fairly new reader, check out this post to see what it looks like in action. I sell this on Teachers Pay Teachers for $15 and it basically includes everything you would need to have a successful Tasty Tuesday program in your classroom (including permission to share with your entire grade level!). Download the free preview here to take a peek.
Basically, once a month we copy a recipe, make it, eat it and write about it. The idea itself wasn't mine originally, but all of the recipes, forms and program tweaks are definitely my own creation.

To enter just leave me a comment on this post. That's it my friends! Just say hi, tell me why you like hanging here with me, share a good joke, funny moment, why you'd like Tasty Tuesday or anything to help keep us looking on the sunny side of things!

If you're already a follower thanks bunches. Feel free to invite some friends to the party. If a new follower leaves a comment and lets me know that you sent them, you'll both win a copy!

I'll choose a winner using random.org from all entries received before Monday, September 5 at midnight, EST.
I am so super excited to tell you all that I'm now officially Blog Hoppin'!  I know, we're all blog hoppers, but this is the real deal! I'm now a contributing author over at:
For real! The other amazing authors there include the fab Deanna Jump, Babbling Abby, Cara Carroll, Anna Brantley, Ashleigh's Education Journey & this list goes on. Excited yet? I mean, can it get any better?? I can't even believe I'm part of such an esteemed group and I'm looking forward to sharing more of my ideas there. I'll actually be posting original content there in addition to my blog here, so be sure to hop over and see what all the fuss is about.

I've added a post today about an amazing, goosebumpy teachable moment inspired by a Pinterest find.

Come on over and say hi!

If you are the least bit crafty or love to scrapbook, have I got the classroom project for you! I apologize in advance for the addiction I'm about to introduce you to, but this is too good not to share. When I first got married, I scrapbooked my heart out. 12 years later, I'm not so sure I need any more scrapbooks of just me and the hubs, so I kind of lost interest. But then, I discovered lapbooks! Today I'm excited to welcome guest blogger Tabitha Caro. Tabitha is an expert lapbooker. I discovered lapbooks last year when I stumbled upon a homeschooling website. I had an entirely new and serious respect for homeschoolers after that! I would love to homeschool, but the whole not having kids thing throws a wrench in that plan. I'll be writing a second post with links to some fabulous resources. I don't want to throw you into lapbook overload all at once! Trust me, I'm saving you from my fate. I was super obsessed and was turning everything into a lapbook project for a while! Here are some pictures of lapbook inspired projects I created with my kids and Tabitha's guest post follows:

From Guest Blogger Tabitha Caro:
 Lapbooks are file folders with informative minibooks and/or games pasted inside them. They are great for organizing information that students have researched, reinforcing skills taught in the classroom, as a portfolio assessment at the end of a unit, and so on.To give you an example, I'll explain the process of the animal lapbook my students did last year (all in Spanish since I teach in a Spanish immersion program):

1) Students chose an animal and began research on that animal. I sent a rubric home to parents.
2) Students put the basics of the file folder together (parents donated used file folders - hurray for recycling!).
3) I created a few minibooks that were required to be in the lapbook, such as habitat, class, food, etc. I allowed for some research time in class on those minibooks.
4) I also provided some blank templates that they could choose from to add extra information about the lapbook.
5) The remainder of their project they completed at home.
6) We then had a "Share Day" for the lapbooks. After assessing the projects with the rubrics, I posted them in one of the school hallways (thanks, kids, for making me look like an awesome teacher!).
For more thorough explanation on lapbooks (with links to templates and such), go to my Skidoo page at: http://www.squidoo.com/lapbooks-in-the-classroom. There I also have a video on how I organize lapbooking in my classroom.
Thanks, Sunnydays, for having me! I love to talk about lapbooks!
Tabitha, FlapJack Educational Resources

Are you on the prowl for an incredible idea? Perhaps you are looking for that next great idea for encouraging creativity in your classroom, or for how to implement cooperative learning. Maybe you are looking for great ideas for "ice breakers" or building classroom community. Well, have we got the contest for you!
The Incredible Ideas Contest is all about teachers sharing their great ideas, tips and questions with one another, because we all know that sharing is one of the things that teachers do best. And the best part is that once you share your incredible ideas, you can enter to win $100 in teaching resources from Laura Candler, Rachel Lynette, SunnyDays and Shelley Gray!
Enough talk; let's get sharing! To share your incredible ideas and enter to win your choice of great teaching resources, click here or on the image below.

I am on the fence about old fashioned spelling lists. I actually wish I could do away with them in favor of a more integrated phonics based approach to teaching spelling. I keep my spelling lists phonetic for the most part and I incorporate them into our word work centers, but it is so frustrating to see the same words misspelled on Monday that they spelled perfectly on a test just the Friday before. It seems like the spelling list/spelling homework/spelling test cycle provides a level of predictability and comfort that administrators, teachers, students and parents alike have come to expect. For now, I'm still stuck in the cycle so I have come up with the best way I can think of to make spelling homework as meaningful as possible.

A few years ago I moved toward the spelling contract instead of assigning a particular spelling activity each night. I love the fact that the contract allows students to have a choice in the way they work on the words. I have tweaked the contract over the past few years so that it contains the activities that most students seemed to gravitate to while providing choice across various learning styles. At first having so many choices can be a very new experience for the students. Every now and then I have a parent who communicates that their child has some difficulty choosing which activity to complete. I always picture my niece when I talk to these parents. That girl can not make a decision! I can remember standing in the cookie aisle with her trying to pick out out which treat we'd take with us to set up my classroom. She was just frozen in her tracks with all of those choices in front of her. I had to eventually pick a couple off of the shelf myself and make her choose between those two instead of the whole aisle. So when I talk to parents with this problem, I tell them to narrow down the choices for their child or make a game out of it by flipping a coin. Eventually, just about everyone comes to love the freedom of choice.

I've also found the contract idea to be much easier for me management wise. I have the students complete their assignments in a composition book and I walk around each morning and stamp that I've seen it with a stamp I ordered from Vistaprint that says "Spelling Contract Checked for Completion". It indicates that I saw that the homework was done, but not necessarily checked for 100% accuracy. I do catch glaring errors and can see the amount of effort put into the work, but homework is not actually graded at our school. When I know an individual student is having difficulty and needs the extra attention, I certainly check theirs more closely.

When I introduce the contract with the kids we start with a sample list of 5 words, usually ones that are synonyms for start - like new, begin, first. Then we actually complete one or two of the contract activities each day in their spelling notebook just the way I expect them to do it at home. I also have them glue the contract right into their notebook as well. Now when they take that home for homework, the students and parents have an instant resource and they'll know exactly how to complete each activity. It takes a while to go model it this way, so we usually don't start spelling homework until the third week of school.

So, where is the fabulous Spelling Star Contract, you ask? Well, it's over at First Grade Fanatics! I've shared it on their website as one of their 14 Days of Summer giveaways. So, click on over there to get your free copy and then scroll back and collect the other 13 giveaways too, there's a bunch of great freebies just waiting for you!

P.S. Today is my first day of school with the kiddies...wish me luck!

Inspiration can strike in the strangest place, like Home Depot for instance. I'm not always a huge fan this "stinky boy store" as I affectionately call it (Sears earns this distinction too. I don't really love smelling tires while shopping for some new clothes). Mostly because a trip there means doing something I'd rather not, like unclogging a drain, replacing some electrical thingamajig or staring at fourteen thousand air conditioner filters until we find the right one.  This time we were actually there to get the paint for my bulletin boards, so I was in a little better frame of mind. On the way out I saw a bulletin board meant to recognize the accomplishments of the employees and though the board itself needed some serious teacher decorating skills, it had THE cutest itty bitty real Home Depot orange aprons tacked onto it. They were perfect newborn size! In fact, if I actually had a newborn, that bulletin board may have been short one apron by the time I was in my car.

I thought about those aprons and then it hit me. How had I never thought of this before? My name, Boehm, rhymes with home. My welcome back board was suddenly a no brainer! Welcome to the Boehm Depot!

I contemplated asking for some of those cute aprons for my board but decided instead to turn to my trusty Cricut electronic cutting machine. I used the Everyday Paper Dolls cartridge and cut orange aprons from the chef kid's accessories. I actually wish I would have made the aprons bigger. I set it to cut them at 8 inches and then left the room. When I came back, they were a lot smaller than I thought they'd be, but it was already midnight so I made my peace with the mini-aprons and went to sleep. The sign for the board was just created in Pages (I'm a Mac) using a big orange square and a font called Stencil. A friend game me the canvas apron and I stuffed it with random school supplies and tacked it out of the reach of curious 7 year-olds. ( I hope!)

I also created a matching toolbox attendance file to welcome my new kiddies to Meet & Greet. They were very hesitant to use the board - I was shocked! They've never used one before, so I had to guide them a bit. They'll get used to it real fast because that board is going to be an essential component to our classroom learning environment. I moved my whole darn classroom across the hall for that board!

Click on the icon below to download a  FREE copy of the attendance file. If you like it and take a minute to leave some feedback at my TpT store I'd really appreciate it!

I actually felt kind of bad doing the Home Depot theme when Lowe's was so incredibly generous to me. I'll have to make sure NOT to get that bulletin board pic mixed in with my thank you letter to them!
I've said before that I love picture books. They are so seriously under rated by many who dismiss them as kids books. The first time I shared five of my favorites, I had lots of great feedback. I L-O-V-E that many of you were as enamored as I was! Today I'm sharing 5 more favorites. These books all have something very unique about them. Some of them I keep home, just for me. Others I've given as gifts and of course others get read aloud by me every year.

The first book is And Tango Makes Three. I first heard about this book on a morning talk show. Apparently, it was creating quite a controversy because it sorta-kinda deals with alternative lifestyles (well, as alternative as a couple of penguins can be). This is a true story about a pair of male chinstrap penguins in The Central Park Zoo who never mated with female penguins, but showed a desire to raise a chick. They tried to care for a rock and would huddle together, but of course they could not create a chick of their own. Zookeepers finally gave the pair an egg to care for and this book chronicles six years of their journey. It is truly amazing. What an incredible gift for same sex couples adopting a baby.

This next book requires some tissues. For real. Unfortunately, the situation represented in this work of fiction is all too real for many of our students. In this book,  Tight Times, a boy and his parents are trying to make ends meet under some dire economic circumstances. Mom has gone back to work so the boy spends time with a babysitter that makes him really miss his time with mom. Like any young boy, he wants a dog more than anything and feels he is finally old enough, like his father promised. Well, things go from bad to worse when dad loses his job. Now the dog is totally out of the question. When his parents send him outside as they discuss their most recent bad news, the boy finds a kitten. You'll need your tissues right about here. What happens next is so real, so touching...so honest. It's hard to read this one aloud without getting teary eyed.

Now when you need to cheer up after reading Tight Times you can turn to Walter the Farting Dog. Poor Walter. He has a serious flatulence problem. (Guess he never heard of Beano). There are quite a few Walter books now, but this one is cute to share at the start of the year when you are talking about summer vacations. Walter is banned from the beach after his, um, gas attack blows over a beach umbrella! It's silly, kind of gross, and yes, some may say it's inappropriate. But after the giggling subsides it really could lead into a lesson about how to handle it when a little farty might sneak out in class or before a lesson on the digestive system. Hey, Everybody Poops was a best seller for a reason!

This next one is just perfection. In The Other Side, a black girl and a white girl watch each other longingly from either side of a fence they were both warned not to cross over. In their innocence, they can not understand why they can't just jump over that fence and play together. Finally, one spunky little girl decides that fences like that were made for sitting on together, not for separating friends. The end is hopeful, insightful and just plain beautiful.

This last one, Unlovable,  also features a fence as a central element. But this time two pugs live on either side of the fence. One of the pugs, Alfred,  suffers from low self esteem because of the cruel taunts of a mean kitty. Alfred introduces himself to a new dog on the other side of the fence, but he says that he is a Golden Retriever! He and Rex become fast friends and share many interests. Finally, Rex digs a hole under the fence and when he sees that Alfred is not a Golden Retriever...well, it's about as sweet as it can get! What a great lesson to introduce acceptance, self esteem, building friendships on common interests, and if you like Pugs, well forget it. You'll be hooked just from the cover!

Just writing about these books makes me want to rip through my teacher book stash and find other gems I may have not read in a while <--Which I will do if I ever get one.single.minute to myself during this pre-planning week!

You know who's awesome? Debi over at Just4Teachers: Sharing Across Borders! I met Debi online this summer and it turns out she teaches in the same city at me! She's my room twin too - our school buildings are the same design and we've been comparing progress all summer. Well, Debi is a fellow blogstalker and and she saw the number one must-have item online: the famous crate seats, and decided to create some. Here are hers - super Suessy cute!

She had some leftover wood and offered it up to anyone else who wanted to make some of their own. So, turns out that Debi was getting beautified in a salon that is actually within walking distance to my house the next day (which is pretty amazing because our schools are actually a few cities over!). Debi actually brought in four pieces of wood to her hair appointment and I  met her there to pick them up. When I tried to pay her for them, do you know what she said? She said, "We teachers have to help each other out." Could not agree more! So visit my new bloggy friend room twin at her blog and stop by her Facebook page too.

Here are my finished seats:

I added a little ribbon loop to help open them  :)

I have to give a shout out to the hubs who really did all the work while I sat next to him holding down the fabric very serious-like. I went with a black crate and dark fabric to keep it clean looking for as long as possible. I'm planning on using them under my reading table. I'm hoping that it will reduce the amount of bruising I get from four sets of little legs swinging under the table! And if that freakin' fire marshall even tries to tell me I can't have them...well, let's just say it won't be pretty...

Back to work tomorrow. I wonder if I can fit in all the stuff I planned on doing this summer into one afternoon? I think I'll give it some thought at the movies ;0)

*If you're here from the Curls and a Smile linky, be sure to see Day 1 and Day 2 also!*

Yesterday's blog post was brought to you by the letter M for Mess. Well, M decided to hang around for today as well. The day started with a migraine and ended with a miracle. The migraine delayed my arrival at school until after 10:00. We're kicked out of the building at 2:00, so that didn't leave me much time to get things done. Around noon I had the sinking feeling that today's progress pictures were going to look a heck of a lot like yesterday's. Between the migraine, the late start and the mess I still had in front of me I started to get overwhelmed. But I put on my big girl panties and just busted a move and lo and behold I got a lot done in just a short time. (Hence the aforementioned miracle!). I had lots of help from some older kids that delivered the boxes of books that were polluting the front of my room (thanks Kailie & Jess!).

So, here are the Day 3 progress pictures. I'm not allowed back in my room until Monday, but I'm pretty satisfied with the head start I have now. I had some questions about the Lowe's donation, so check below the slideshow if you're interested in that...

I had a student whose father was a Lowe's manager last year. He told me that Lowe's does a lot of community donations and if there was anything I could use all I had to do is write a letter on school letter head and send it to him at the store. So, I did! I ended up getting that awesome cubby shelf, two plastic storage drawer sets, the traffic pattern rug in my library, a vacuum for the room and some foam floor mats. Incredible right? So big props to Lowe's!! I'm guessing that the Lowe's in your area might do the same if you asked. It's worth a try. I can't wait to send him a thank you with pictures of the donations in use. See, some people out there still like us teachers ;0)

I can get lost in a children’s picture book. I always take time to point out interesting effects the artists may have used when illustrating the story while I read to my students. There can be such power, beauty and often even another story woven into the details of the pictures. This could not be more true of an amazing book that I recently discovered, Red, White and Blue by Debbie Clement. 
Debbie's book started as a song she wrote just after the terror attacks of September 11th. Although there are no direct references to those events in the text of the book or words of the song, as an adult you will notice some heartwarming details, such as the pictures Fire House 10, the fire house of the first responders to the Twin Towers. Debbie is not just an amazing singer, songwriter and author, she is one of those people who exudes contagious joy. It's hard to believe this, but she quilted each page while fighting breast cancer twice!  Quilted. Each. Page! I can’t even hem my husband’s pants! What a testament to faith and healing. Knowing that about Debbie makes the book even more touching. Take a look at the beauty that is her book:

As a classroom teacher, I am sometimes leery to broach the topic of 9/11. My students were not even born during that time and I’m never sure how much they know. However, it’s nearly impossible to go through that day without hearing a reference to it in the media. This year will be even more significant as we honor the tenth anniversary of those horrific events. Now that I have Debbie’s book, I can honor the memory of those lost and commemorate the day with my second graders with just the right touch of symbolism and patriotism. 

Just looking at the book makes my teacher brain go into overdrive! The quilted pages are a perfect springboard to a math lesson on patterning. The representations of iconic American landscapes are perfect for a geography exploration. Of course the writing and art lessons that this book can inspire are limitless!
Now as if that wasn’t enough, the book comes with an audio CD of the song, which became the book! My class partners with a pre-k class and I can already see my little ones being the “big kids” to their 3 and 4 year old buddies as we sing this song and share this book together. The book shows the basic sign language that the students could use while singing and moving to the song.  I’m hoping I don’t get teary eyed as I watch these little ones dance and celebrate America with such innocence on this dark day in our history. Perhaps that is was this book will do though - help future generations remember our past but celebrate the present and work together to make a better tomorrow. See, I told you picture books are powerful and inspiring!

Now, I bet you are wanting a copy of this extraordinary book to share with your class. You can certainly head over to visit Debbie at http://www.rainbowswithinreach.blogspot.com and order a copy or you can just leave a comment here with your email address! Debbie has generously agreed to send one copy of her book to a reader of this blog! 

Visit Debbie's blog and see for yourself why this book was just awarded the Indie Excellence Award for Children's Book with Audio! 

*Update* We have a winner! Kristen left comment #9. Is she the perfect person to win this book or what!? Thank you Kristen for the amazing sacrifice you and your husband are making for all of us.

Today's post is brought to you by the letter M, for MESS! I actually got a lot accomplished, but it still looks like a disaster area. Library is finished and I cleared enough boxes to open the windows so I was happy with that alone! I also lowered the back tables so that the computers don't cover the bottom of the back boards. Why didn't I do that years ago? I also killed AND threw away a giant palmetto bug. For those who know me - that is quite a feat!

So, here are today's progress pictures. I only have one more day to work in my room before the official start day next Monday. Being team leader I won't have much time in my room so I hope I at least get things semi-classroom-like before I leave tomorrow. I better eat my Wheaties in the morning!

Today was the first day I was allowed back in my room. Was it only two days ago I was floating down the lazy river without a care in the world? This year I moved across the hall to a room with a real Smartboard and WAY better air conditioning (hope I didn't just jinx myself!!). I wrote before about painting my bulletin boards, so I thought I'd share some pix of the process along with my progress setting up this week. I couldn't have done any of this without my hubby! He is super handy and great at painting.

Here's a little peek into my room on day 1. I'll be sharing some each day to document my progress. This is the first year I'm starting school as a blogger, so this is such a cool experience for me. (I also happen to think this would be great for some other non-teacher types to see just how much we do to get the room ready for our little munchkins) So, welcome to my room & I'll see you again tomorrow!

Wish I was here...still.
I spent a glorious day here floating along the lazy river and sipping Pina Coladas...and I was thinking about school?? Yes, I'm that crazy. But I'm betting that most of you are just as crazy as me. I will say that I did get over it and manage to push school to the back of my mind and enjoy the most fun I've had with the hubs in a while. He pretty much cracks me up on the daily, so that's saying something!

As we were walking out to grab our towels and rent our raft, Radio Disney was sponsoring a totally cute poolside party for the kids. One of the activities was so awesome, I had to share it. The party hostess, who I am convinced was a moonlighting teacher {note to self: look into that gig for next summer!} had each group of kids on a towel and gave them a beach pail filled with magnetic alphabet letters. Then Little Miss. BestSummerJobEver called out a word and the kids had to work together to spell it correctly on the towel. Fun, right?

So I'm totally stealing her idea. The kids by the pool were talking and giggling and stuff because it was summer and all, and you could totally allow that if you ran one of those fun classrooms where <insert sarcasm here> no actual book learnin' takes place. Doing it like that would actually be a great ice breaker activity.

I think I might take it a step further. I was thinking of doing a round or two like that but then making it a bit more serious and telling them they had to work together as a team to spell the word I call out without talking to each other. I'm thinking it would give me a good idea of how they work together, who the natural bossy kids leaders are and who is more inclined to sit on the sidelines. And just when I thought I was done with Dollar Tree, off I go again to pick up some more magnetic letters.

I just now had a little brainstorm. You could also use alphabet pasta for this which will come in very handy if I repeat this bulletin board!

Tomorrow I'm back to my classroom for my early days. I'm excited, happy, overwhelmed and sad all at once. Pictures of the whole thing coming soon.
Yesterday, I drove the Fun Friday Bus through town and today it's making a stop at the bingo hall. I loved the Fun Friday Bus and I may go back to it in the future, but last summer I created something a bit different which simplified things. Behold~Behavior Bingo!

This little chart is laminated and mounted on the side of my filing cabinet. I used to use raffle tickets as extra rewards and collect all of those tickets in a big jar. Then on Friday we'd pull 5 tickets from the jar and those little luckies would get to go to the treasure box. Two things bothered me about that. Number one: getting, giving and keeping track of tickets. Number two: hearing kids (and parents!) complain they never get picked for the raffle. So, with behavior bingo I now pick one bingo number at the end of every day and whoever is in that bingo square gets to go to the treasure box that day. So, still only giving 5 trips to the treasure box, but once a day so it's not such a big once a week deal.

I use Behavior Bingo in conjunction with the clip chart. When a kid moves their clip up they automatically walk over and write their number in a square on the bingo chart. Sometimes I'll offer bingo numbers for things like bringing back field trip forms the next day, great hallway behavior, the team that wins a class game, etc. It just adds a little something extra to the positive reinforcement I try to maintain with the class.

The bingo jar is an old hair conditioner jar (Matrix Biolage~looooove it!). I added some matching graphics  and inside there are Scrabble tiles for B-I-N-G and O and extra plastic numbers from a math manipulative kit from 1-10. At the end of the day I pick one letter and one number from the jar. If I choose B7, the kid in square B7 trots over the treasure box and his number gets erased from the chart.

Keeping the treasure box stocked is always a bit of a challenge. So I started to use reward coupons and the kids ended up loving them way more than any little trinket in the box. Here's a sample of some of the ones I used. Click on the picture to scoot on over to Google Docs to download some for yourself.
You can easily create your own behavior bingo chart, but I do have one for sale in my TpT store if you're interested. It also comes with extra graphics to decorate your jar and directions for use. It's normally $3, but it's on sale for $2.40 from now until 8/6. Click here to take a look.

Just a few more days until I can get back in my classroom. I'm always so excited to get back in there and then I stand there so overwhelmed and wonder what the heck I was so excited about! I'll be taking lots of pictures of my progress along the way to share. See you soon, friends!

BREAKING NEWS! Our 600th follower celebration winner is Becki! 

Becki, email me at ShopSunnyDays@me.com :) Thank you all so, so much for entering and for being here with me on the sunny side of the street!
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