Hey Friends!
I did a little bit of spring decorating, inspired (of course) by Pinterest. What the heck did I do before Pinterest? I have a large window that takes up most of one wall of my room. I love that it lets in so much light and I like to dress it up a bit for the seasons. I've been seeing lots of pennant banners that look super cute so I combined that idea with some symmetry eggs and butterflies I found here. The AC vent blows on that window so it makes the butterflies flutter a little. It was just a quicky activity but the kids had fun with it and it cheers up the place a bit.

Tomorrow night one of my bestest, oldest friends is coming in to stay for the weekend and I'm going to help her start her own blog. I'm so excited because she is an incredible guidance counselor with so much to offer to other teachers. Now, I normally get ready in the guest room (which may be the secret to a happy marriage) and in the process of getting the room ready for her I decided to clean out my makeup bag. This is what I found.
I have been on an impossible mission to find the best mascara. I've even resorted to mixing and matching brushes with different brands, primers, plumpers, expensive to cheap and I was never satisfied. But, that is all a distant memory now that I have found this little beauty:
It's got a different kind of brush with really small bristles, but I am seriously diggin it. Just figured I'd share in case any of you have also been on a quest like me. I'm a pretty simple chick, but mascara and Kerasal ointment are my two beauty must haves. (No compensation from Cover Girl and Kerasal. I just love the products!)

And speaking of feminine products, I'll leave you with this funny story that really, truly did happen just a few days ago. A student of mine came out of the lunchroom (among the mob of 200 other students who all exit at the EXACT same time. really). She tells me that her  lunchbox is leaking. The conversation went something like this:

Kid: My lunchbox is leaking!
Me: Go run into the hallway bathroom and get some paper towels!  we never ever use this bathroom, I'm not sure I've ever even been in it before since we have our own bathroom in the room
Kid goes into the bathroom, comes right out with no paper towels.
Me: Where are the paper towels?
Kid: I don't have fifty cents.
Me: What?
Kid: They're charging for them now. They're 50 cents and I don't have any money.
Now times are tight and budget cuts are severe, so I make my way through the crowd of kidlets and open the bathroom door and see (you guessed it) a big ol' sanitary napkin dispenser on the wall!! And sure enough, "napkins" are 50 cents!

I reassured her that she didn't have to pay for napkins (yet, anyway) and we just dripped down the hall until we got to the free paper towels in our own room. Although the ones they sell in the hall bathroom are WAY more absorbent!

Hey Friends!
I am so excited to bring you today's giveaway from Learning Resources. Of the three great products I got to review, this is by far my favorite. It's the Luna Interactive Projection Camera!

source: Learning Resources
I have a document camera in my room and I use it every single day. It's a basic, low-end workhorse kind of doc cam - nothing fancy and fraught with limitations that have always bugged me. One of them being that the fixed arm does not allow me to show an entire piece of paper at once unless it's something printed on landscape. It also doesn't really show colors very well, it's supposed to, but it doesn't. I also can not use something on my document camera and then interact with it using my Smartboard tools.

So imagine my delight when this little baby showed up! It does all of the things above that my doc cam doesn't.  The Luna is very different from most document cameras that I've seen. This one actually connects directly to your computer with an included USB cable, which supplies the power as well. The included software actually shows the image on my computer screen. This enables me to project onto my Smartboard so that I can use my markers to write over things or highlight important areas. This is a MAJOR plus for me!

It also has a long, flexible neck that allows me to project any size page I need to, including open picture books. I can also display real objects for the kids to get a better look, like math manipulatives or science experiments. The colors show up so much brighter too! This has been great for displaying examples of finished projects.

You can see in the picture below that the Luna has a nice small footprint too. It takes up much less space than my other doc cam. Sounds great right? Well, it gets even better. The Luna actually takes pictures AND video WITH audio! You can save these right to your computer with one touch. The long, flexible neck makes it easy to rotate it to film or snap pix.

One of the best things about this amazing device is the price. It's hard to find a document camera that does less than the Luna for $600, a really good one is easily $1,000. The Luna sells for just $199! And here's the very best part, you have a chance to win one of your own! You know how this works by now, just enter via Rafflecopter below. {click read more if you don't see it!}

I've been shakin' it up again, my friends! I had a little nudge from a fabulous reader (hi Becky!) and came up with this Springtime Compound Shaker! This one looks a bit different from my other shakers {click HERE and HERE for those} because instead of a Trop50 bottle, this one is made from a Voss water bottle. My next door teacher neighbor was drinking from this most awesome shaped bottle and I'm sure she thought I was a loon the way I was staring at her. And I'm sure it didn't help matters much when I asked if I could have the bottle when she was done! All's well that ends well though. She started saving them for me and now I have several in my plastic pile o'crap that may one day overtake my house.

This shaker centers around 15 compound words. Half of the word is in the shaker, half is on the students' answer sheet. There are also a couple of extension activities on the answer sheet as well. This should make a fun word work center for next week. The download includes everything you'll need, except the rice and water bottle. You'll have to stalk your friends yourself for that.  The label is the same size as the other labels so it will fit perfectly on the Trop50 bottle if you have some of those saved up. Click {HERE} to download the project from GoogleDocs.
Here are some helpful tips that you might find useful based on my past posts on the shakers:
•Be sure to click on the links above to read about the first ones I made. They explain in a bit more detail. And if you didn't get the set the first time around, there's no time like the present!

•To dye the rice, put it in a gallon ziplock bag. Add a couple of tablespoons of alcohol and food coloring. Mix it up until you like the color. Spread it out on a sheet pan to dry. It dries fast! Go ahead and dye a 5 pound bag. It keeps forever. I dye it in different colored batches and mix it together.

•Yes, glue the lid on. Use hot glue or my favorite E-6000

•I lift the edge of the original label off of the bottle with a razor blade and get off the remaining goo with Goo Gone

•I laminate the label and use my Xyron machine to turn it into a sticker to attach it. (I have three different machines and love them all! I  should get in touch with them about a giveaway!) If you don't have a Xyron, you might want to invest in an ATG tape runner. Both are great adhesives. Spray adhesive works well too. Glue stick - NotSoMuch.

And finally - Weekly Math Magic set one is finally posted on tpt! Sets 2-4 are written & they're getting the finishing touches. Click {HERE} for another freebie and {HERE} for set one. Psst...Jenny, Haley and Maureen: email me at ShopSunnyDays@me.com so I can send your free set!

See you tomorrow for Giveaway Monday! It's a really good goody from Learning Resources!
Happy Spring, my friends!

In celebration of the first day of this great new season,  I have my seasonal Bump game ready for you all! I love, love, love that I've gotten quite a few emails asking me if I was planning on a new version of Bump for spring! And the feedback on TpT is enough to make my heart sing! It's an amazing feeling to know that things that I've created and shared are being used in so many classrooms across the globe.

I have gotten several requests for different kinds of Bump games, including higher level addition and multiplication, fractions, subtraction and even phonics! What I've done to help those of you who would like a different version is to include a blank board in this download. Now all you have to do is print it and write on it to make it fit your needs! Due to copyright laws and graphics licensing agreements, I can not send you an editable version. Click {HERE} to download your copy of all three games!


Welcome to Giveaway Monday!

Today's tech toy is one your kids would literally love to get their hands on. It's the Easi-Speak Microphone from my friends at Learning Resources!
Source: Learning Resources
Just like the HearAll Assessment recorder from last week's giveaway, there are no batteries required and you can easily transfer recorded data to your computer for data collection or to share with other teachers or parents.

The difference with the Easi-Speak, is that this one is designed to be used by the kids. The minute they see it, they'll know just what to do with it. They instinctively want to pick it up and talk into it! It doesn't actually project their voice as a real microphone would, but rather records their voice.
Source: Learning Resources
It's a very sturdy, child-size, child-centered piece of equipment. I'm sure you can already think of the great ways this could be put to use in your classroom. Imagine giving this to your reluctant readers. I bet they'll be very motivated to read all of a sudden with an Easi-Speak in their hands! It can be hard to explain to a child what fluency "sounds like", but when they can hear their own voice immediately after reading a passage, it becomes very clear to them. You can keep recordings over time to share and celebrate their progress.
In my class, we're starting a reader's theater adaptation of A Bad Case of Stripes (which I found here for free).  Today I had two students practicing together using the Easi-Speak. It was great for them to play it back and hear if the inflection and emotion they were trying to practice was coming through in their reading. Interestingly one of my girls was over-enunciating and adding a bit too much inflection and the other little one was speaking so quickly she was hard to understand. They had a ball recording their parts and playing them over and over until they decided they liked the way it sounded. I was wishing I had about five of these for all of the groups to practice with at once! This is such a cool little tool to have and I'm sure it will be in heavy rotation in my room.

The Easi-Speak sells for $69.99, but thanks to Learning Resources, you have a chance to win one for free! Enter through the Rafflecopter gadget below (if you don't see it, be sure to click read more)
For every task you choose to complete, you get one additional entry. So enter once or as many times as you wish. Good luck, my friends!

Man oh man, making these has been quite the undertaking! I seriously underestimated how long it was going to take. I'm really trying to be sure that they spiral up and the difficulty level increases with each set. I'm also trying to find multiple ways for the kids to practice each skill so they're used to it being asked in different ways. I am working my not-so-tiny hiney off, but it will still be a little while before I have them posted. It's my main focus though, so not too much longer! Thank you to each and every one of you who took the time to offer such insightful feedback. It has helped me more than you can imagine!

It was super hard to choose, but the three most helpful/encouraging comments were from Jenny (LuckeyFrog) Haley (Following Optimism) and Maureen. As soon as I'm done, the first set is on me ladies!

Here's another sneak peek. I hope it's worth the wait!

And just an FYI - if any of you used Picnik for photo editing for your blogs or personal stuff, you know by now that they are closing up shop. I was seriously bumming hard about that one until I found PicMonkey! PicMonkey was actually started by former Picnik engineers and has a very similar vibe to it. So far, I'm loving it and it is a great replacement for me. Click {HERE} to check them out.

I'm heading back to work after an amazingly wonderful spring break. This is not going to be my favorite Monday. And speaking of Mondays...have you seen this new trend on Pinterest? Muffin Tin Mondays? Apparently moms go all kinds of crazy fitting themed foods into muffin tins for their kids. Do real people really have time for this? Are any of you guys Muffin Tin Moms?  Mondays are kind of a giant pain in the rump just doing my normal junk, I can't imagine running around trying to make a Dr. Seuss themed muffin tin meal. Maybe I'm just mad no one is making a muffin tin meal for me tomorrow.
I am back from a few fabulous days of sun and fun with the hubs. What's better than hanging poolside with an adult beverage and your honey? Already looking forward to the next getaway...

But for now, it's back to reality! Thank you all so, so much for taking the time to leave your feedback and comments on my Weekly Math Magic. I value each and every comment and I will definitely take all of it into consideration as I make the full sets. Tuesday's post was just kind of a prototype to get an idea of what's coming. I'm going to do my best to have the first set ready by the end of the weekend. More details soon! In the meantime, if you didn't get a chance to check it out, click {HERE} and leave a comment for a chance to win a full set as soon as it's ready! (I'll choose those winners by Saturday night!)

Now, on to some other super exciting news! My friend Yvonne over at Sassy In Second was kind enough to include me in a fantastic St. Patty's Day Giveaway! So hop on over to read all of the details by clicking on the picture below - good luck, my friends!

Speaking of giveaways, Congrats to Melissa who won the HearAll Assessment Recorder from Learning Resources. There are two more great giveaways from LR coming so be sure to check in on Giveaway Monday (thanks to Camille for that idea!)

Our spring break fell during the week I'd normally do my St. Patty's stuff, so I'll be skipping over most of it this year, BUT I must share this cute cute cute fantastic adorable craftivity created by The Teacher Wife. Click {HERE} to visit her beautiful blog and download the activity. Can you believe that I did not know I could run regular ol' construction paper through the printer? Sooo much better than having the kids color it in!
Seriously, what did I do before Pinterest?! Although I could do without all of these St. Patty's minty food recipes...I'm not a big fan. Minty foods make me feel like I'm eating toothpaste. I'm a weirdo. I know.
Ahh...Hello Spring Break! This is not such a bad view to wake up to. Am I right? One of the advantages of living in Florida is that you can hop in the car and drive to some great little getaway spots in  just a couple of hours. Today's lovely view comes to you from Sanibel. Enjoy your moment of zen:
Speaking of zen, how is that NOT a word in Words with Friends?
That ruins my zen every time I have a Z.

Before I head down to the pool, I have something to share. Almost as soon as I started to post my Weekly Word Wizard activities on TpT, people were asking if I had a math version. I have no idea why, but I was having the hardest time making one! I guess inspiration and clarity were brought on by the sea air and I finally found my groove.

I present to you <insert drumroll, please> Weekly Math Magic! Ta-Da!!
A few important notes. This is the one and only page I have done so far. I will be working on a full year's worth in 9-week sets, just like Weekly Word Wizard. However, unlike WWW, I will have to make these starting a bit easier and then get progressively more involved as the year goes on.

Now that I have a format that I like and I've figured out how and what skills to include, I think I'm ready for you to test drive it! Before I create any more, I would love for you to download this one {HERE} and let me know what you think. Feel free to use it with your class too. I'm thinking this level would be good for around this time of year and would most likely be included in the third nine-weeks set. It does cover almost every CCSS for second grade as well as many from first and third.

If you download it and look it over or use it with your class, come on back and leave me a comment with suggestions or ideas to add or change. I'll pick the top three most helpful comments to receive the first set free when it's ready to go.

Thanks for the help! Now, where's that sunscreen...

I was contacted recently by Learning Resources about reviewing some of their newest items in a line of affordable technology products. Being the techy chick that I am, I happily accepted, so check back each Monday for the next three weeks for a chance to win some fantastic resources. The first one I'm going to share with you is the HearAll Assessment Recorder. The HearAll allows you record students who are working in groups or partners while you are working with other students in another part of the room.
Source: Learning Resources
My first reaction to the HearAll, was that I couldn't believe how lightweight it was. I was afraid that might be an indication that it was an inferior product, but I could not have been more wrong. It turns out the HearAll is exceptionally sturdy and of great quality. Being so lightweight was an added bonus. It traveled back and forth to school with me for days and I didn't even notice the difference with it in my bag. You can see the relative size in the picture below. It's actually just slightly larger than my iphone, but noticeably lighter.

The HearAll has 4 omni-directional microphones that do an incredible job of picking up sound while reducing background noise. I used the recorder while my students were at centers and I was working with a small group in the back of the room. The first time, I didn't set the recorder in the middle of a specific group, I just placed it on a table in the middle of two groups who were working on different tasks. I couldn't believe how much I was able to hear from all of the students! The second time I used it was during a buddy reading session. I placed the recorder between one pair of students to hopefully just capture their voices. Again, the HearAll amazed me. I could hear the two students exceptionally well with just a hint of the background noise of the other students reading.

Imagine the possibilities with this little gadget! We often have parent volunteers complete fluency checks with students. As much as we trust our parents, we often wish we could also hear the students as they read. Now we can just by leaving the HearAll with our volunteers! There is an LCD display on the device that adds to ease of use (although I wouldn't suggest letting students use it in that way).

A fun little by-product of the HearAll was an increase in on-task behavior! I did tell my students that we were using the HearAll so that I could hear how well they were working together. The next day, I left the recorder on the table in the same spot, and even though I didn't turn it on, they assumed I did and were sure to be on their best behavior!

The HearAll is just out of sight on the table. Look how closely the students are leaning in to talk and staying on-task. A huge improvement just because they knew the recorder was there!

The HearAll does not use batteries, it actually charges through an included USB cable connected to your computer. The charge lasts about 4 hours, which is more than enough time for normal classroom use. There is no software to install and is ready to use right out of the box. You can also store the sound files on your computer and email them to other school personnel who may work with your students.

This great little device sells for $99.99, but Learning Resources has generously offered to let me give one away to my readers! Again, I'll be using Rafflecopter. Each task you complete is worth one additional entry. Be sure to click "read more" if you don't see the Rafflecopter gadget. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

When I wrote about my super big love for Babbling Abby's inferencing unit many of you commented that you were also having a tough time teaching the skill. So today I'm going to share some of the other resources I added to the week to really drive that skill home.  After we spent time as Inferencing Investigators, I wanted to give them some more targeted practice, so we used a combination of task cards and a great game posted on the Florida Center for Reading Research website. (Keep reading for links to all of this free awesomeness)
The game from FCRR is fantastic. The kids read cards and infer something about where the person is or what they are doing. Above is a close up of some of the cards and half of the game board and below you see some kids playing. I upped the fun-factor with some Smarties. I had them start by placing a candy on each circle and letting them eat that piece if they got the right answer. Here is the game in action:
Click {HERE} to download the game and click {HERE} to visit FCRR for more great content.

Next up were the task cards. I placed each set in these adorable paper boxes from the Target Dollar Spot. In each box I also added a small plastic container with 4 sets of 10 centimeter cubes.
Each student took a pile of same colored cubes and then if they answered a card correctly, they put one of their cubes back in the empty container. The first one to use all of their cubes was the winner. I wrote the answers on the back of each card to make them self checking.
I did not create the task cards below. They were created by some amazingly talented generous soul over at ProTeacher. She didn't include her name on the file, but if it's yours please tell me so I can give you proper credit and a super big THANK YOU! I highly encourage you to check out the forums there if you haven't already. The teachers there are amazing! Click on the pix below to download each set.

Now I'm going to leave you with something that's been on my mind a bit. I have been given the incredible opportunity to do reviews and giveaways from some outstanding companies lately, like Really Good Stuff, Scholastic News and Spelling City. I also have three great tech products to share with you from Learning Resources staring this week. One of the primary reasons I accept these offers is because I really, truly believe in the products. The other is because I feel great about offering the same product to one of you guys to use in your classrooms. I've been feeling so torn lately because it seems like all of these great opportunities seemed to happen at once! I really don't want my blog to be a constant giveaway stream. You'll notice I don't even have ads on my blog because I really want the focus to be the content. So, I guess what I'm asking is - How do you all feel about the reviews and giveaways? I don't want them to be something that makes you roll your eyes and think, "Geez, another giveaway!?" So, leave me a comment below and let me know what you think. (I hope I'm just over-thinking this. I have a tendency to do that!)

I'm breaking the unwritten rule of blogging more than once a day, but I think this is worthy. Crystal over at Kreative in Kinder is hosting a link-up for anyone willing to help the teachers who have lost everything in the recent tornadoes. I'm on spring break right now, but when I go back to school I know I have lots that I can donate. I am going to start with sets of novels that I read when I taught the upper grades,  along with shelves of resource books and duplicate math manipulatives. I'm going to ask other teachers at my school to join me as well.  I'd also like to donate products from my tpt store as soon as I know how that will work.

What can you do to help? Click the heart below to link up and pitch in!

Before I invite you into my yard, I have a  funny story I must share. Our district is starting a program enabling the kids to sample fresh fruits and vegetables periodically at lunch. This week it was blackberries. When they made the announcement about it, I tried to get them excited about tasting them. It went a little something like this:

Me: Oh, blackberries are so good! Make sure you try some today at lunch (feeling like a total hypocrite because I can't remember actually eating one myself)

Kid: I've tried one before!

Me: Really, did you like it?

Kid: Yeah, it was alright, but then my dad got an iphone.

I totally cracked up, I couldn't help it. I asked him if he thought they were actually going to let them try out cell phones at lunch and he looked at me and said, "Well, what is it?" I guess this program is not such a bad idea after all.

Now on to a great math project to really reinforce the idea that there are three feet in a yard. I learned this at county training a couple of years ago and it made the entire week-long training worthwhile. It's a pretty simple project too, which is even better. First, a picture so you can see what the heck I'm talking about. Exciting details to follow:

Three feet in a yard, get it? First, students hot-dog fold an 18 inch sheet of green construction paper and cut it in half on the fold. Then I have to help tape them end to end to make one long "yard" that is 36 inches long. They can't overlap or it won't fit the feet. Then, the kids decorate the yard with some details that you'd have in a yard - grass, a cat, bugs (one had dog poop...for real. Oy, that's what I get for asking).

Students then trace three feet on black paper and glue a paper inchworm 12 inch ruler on each foot, glue them end to end in the yard and voila! An amazing visual reminder that there are three feet in a yard! Then we use these yardsticks to measure all kinds of things around the room.

This is one of my very favorite math projects. They really remember the concept after this lesson. I let them take the yardsticks home to measure things around their house and to use for the homework in the math book. You can click {HERE} for patterns for the foot and inch ruler if you want to make your own yards. Maybe next year I'll add a blackberry bush or some other fruit trees to make this a bit more thematic ;)

The nuggets and I have finally ventured into a new Big Idea in math. We've waded through place value and double and triple addition and subtraction with regrouping which felt like a slow climb up a roller coaster and now we're enjoying the fun ride downhill. Seriously, after struggling with chapters that ranged from ridiculously easy (which I'm not allowed to skip over) to chapters and questions so hard I actually had kids in tears, moving into measurement feels like a breeze! Math is fun again, yay!

We've been using our rulers and handmade yardsticks (directions and pix HERE) to measure all kinds of things all over the school. Even after we really understood how to use a ruler and got an idea of the length of an inch and a foot, we still had some trouble deciding when to use each one. So, of course I made a game to practice!

In this game students play in pairs and decide whether they should use inches or feet to measure a given object like a newborn baby or length of a car. Directions for play are listed right on the game board.

Click on the pic to download your free copy from Teachers Pay Teachers. Thanks so much to those of you who have already stumbled upon it and took the time to leave a sweet comment!

Turns out that a few of my blog buds also had some great measurement freebies to share, so check out the links below to visit them and grab some more great goodies!

Enjoy, my friends!

I've been a huge fan of Scholastic News and I've been using it for years in my classroom. We are pretty lucky that our amazing PTA purchases a magazine subscription for every teacher - and I always go with Scholastic News. So when I got an email from the editor of SN offering to send me some issues to use with my class, I happily replied that I was already a subscriber and gushed over my love for the magazine. And then guess what she did? She went and offered to give a full year subscription to one of my blog readers! How awesome is that?

One of the main reasons I love SN is because it fills the gap in our Social Studies curriculum. Our actual Social Studies textbook is over 10 years old and it is not exactly a stellar resource. I'm always supplementing it with my own content, like SN. Sadly, I think Social Studies is completely pushed to the wayside in lieu of more time devoted to tested subjects, which is so sad. But, using SN is a great way to incorporate that all-important skill of non-fiction reading without losing out on great Social Studies content like current events, maps, historical figures, community helpers and more - all on a kid's level with amazing, engaging photography and graphics.

Hi Crush!

Every subscription comes with incredible online resources. I have a Smartboard this year, so I've been using the digital issue component and it really, truly brings the magazine to a new level. I usually have the kids come to the carpet with their magazine on their clipboard as we explore the digital issue together. Throughout the issue there are small video clips that bring the story to life and really activate and build upon prior knowledge. We recently read about sea turtles and when I clicked on the picture of it in the digital issue, it came to life and swam across the screen for a minute. I can zoom in on an article, make it pop out on the screen, highlight text, write on the pages and complete activities together with the interactive whiteboard-ready tools. If you don't have a Smartboard (big sad face) you can let students explore the digital content on a classroom computer. You can also see the entire issue in Spanish at the push of a button! How awesome is that?
The entire magazine, digitized on my Smartboard.

Zoomed in on the turtle article, some text highlighted by me.

No Sweat Test Prep, made interactive!

Aside from the actual issue being digitized, there is bonus content to explore, like web links, additional videos and games!  Laine from SN has provided preview links for you to check out some digital content. Click HERE to watch a video about the life of Dr. Seuss and click HERE to play Flower Power, a game to increase comprehension of an article in the March issue.

Besides all of that awesomeness, you will have access to printable skill pages that relate to the articles. I've had great lessons on using a timeline, map skills, graphing, persuasive writing, biographies and of course, reading comprehension (aptly called No Sweat Test Prep).

Some printables for this month's issue, also whiteboard ready AND available in Spanish!

I've also found Scholastic News and its accompanying printable lessons to be so thorough that I can leave it for a substitute and know that the kids will have a productive day and the sub will have plenty of real content based material to work with.

It's easy for me to go on and on about Scholastic News. I really, truly believe it brings amazing relevant content into my classroom in a unique and engaging way. I can't tell you how happy it makes me to be able to bring this great resource into one of your classrooms for a whole year! All you have to do is enter using Rafflecopter below. For each task you choose to complete, you can earn a bonus entry. If you are already hooked and want to subscribe, you can click HERE.

Be sure to click "read more" if you don't see the Rafflecopter gadget! Good Luck!

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