I'm linking up to a great collection of fall books and activities hosted by my friend Ashley from The Teacher's Treasure Chest. Here in South Florida fall is pretty much non-existent, but we join in on the fun anyway. Growing up here I have vivid memories of sweating off my halloween make up and planning the costume with the least about of fabric possible. Writing this post sent me on a wild internet goose chase to find one of my childhood Halloween costumes. Anyone remember these? They whole costume basically consisted of a blow up decoration you tied to your head, a tube of face paint, and a plastic cape. I remember the make-up just dripping off of my face and the blow up spider slipping off with it. Ahh, Florida Halloweens...

Fun trip down memory lane! Now back to business at hand - Ashley's linky par-tay!

I sometimes obsess over things that really have no business occupying space in my brain. One year it was the theme for my Just Say No door decorating contest. Yes, really. The thought for my door popped into my head over the summer and I was just busting to put it up! It actually did come out pretty cute AND I won first place ThankYouVeryMuch! Just thought I'd share with you in case you're searching for something similar. Here's the winning door...drumroll please...

Don't Get Wrapped Up In Drugs! Cute right? Each kid made a mummy using a plastic spoon and a popsicle stick. The stick was broken in half and stuck to the spoon with glue dots to hold it in place. We had some help from a parent volunteer for that part. Then each stick/spoon combo was wrapped in toilet paper. To age it a bit, we used a small brown ink pad and dabbed it on the toilet paper. Add some googly eyes and a red ribbon - and there you have it! We brainstormed things we could do for fun instead of drugs which is on the speech bubble. I can't share the lettering I used for the title because it's against the terms of use for that site. Really, the mummies are eye-catching enough that any cute font would work.

Speaking of mummies, my friend and teammate Mrs. H made THE cutest storybook character pumpkin that I HAVE to share! Every year each class decorates a pumpkin and we display them in the main hall. We've all now started using the craft pumpkins because carved pumpkins in South Florida, well, let's just say they don't last very long and our creepy crawlies find them quick! Here is her display based on the book Where's My Mummy? By Carolyn Crimi.

Love all the details from the story! The little green blob, skeleton and Dracula are all characters from the book. There's a creepy tree to represent the setting and there's a little mouse in there too! The whole thing is balanced on some styrofoam pieces. I love, love, love it! This has me re-thinking my No, David pumpkin. I'm going to have to step it up a notch now!

Speaking of Halloween - feel free to check out my latest TpT unit. I finally created something to accompany MY personal favorite Halloween book - The Hallo-wiener. Click {here} to preview the unit.
I love this story so much that I almost forgive him for writing Captain Underpants!

Check out some other great fall books and activities by visiting the blogs below:

I always like to give my team a little welcome back gift. Most of us have been together for many years, so it gets a little harder every year to come up with something new! This summer while searching Pinterest I came across this idea, originally posted at Blossom Bunkhouse.
This one was thoughtfully made as a gift to the teacher from the class but I thought it would also make a great gift for my team. It was pretty easy to make. I bought the letters already painted black from JoAnn's, some ribbon and I hot glued it together. The back wasn't so pretty, but no one will see that. I hope.

I bought some Deco Color paint pens and we all had each kid in our class sign them.

I hung mine on the door with a command hook, and so far so good! The first grade team leader did the same for her team, so this lovely little monogram is hanging outside every door in our building. It's such a nice welcome and really sends the message that our class is like a family. It will also be a very sweet memento of this class for years to come.

Now behind the door, we've been busy, busy, busy! Lots of pictures from our first week coming soon - as soon as I can catch my breath! Whew, these first weeks really tire a teacher out!

Today I'm so happy to have one of my blog besties here guest blogging. You are going to love her ideas! 

Hey! This is Ashley from The Teacher's Treasure Chest! I am so thankful my sweet friend Denise let me stop by! 

Through blogging, I never expected to become SUCH good friends with the other bloggers. I talk to them more than I do my "real" friends. We laugh together, cry together and talk about life together. We really care about each other. It's amazing how close we've all become. 

Now for the REAL reason you are here! I wanted to talk a little bit about Math Stations. A lot of times people think that centers are just for reading. So NOT  true. Students need to use engaging, hands on activities to truly learn mathematical concepts. Of course, you need to use paper-pencil activities as well. It's a balance, and you have to find the best way that works for you and your students. 

I typically use about 6 math stations a week. Four of the stations are directly related to the skill we are learning that week. The other two are typically reinforced skills, or previously taught skills. This gives students a chance to continue working on the skills through out the year.  One skill that you can ALWAYS use in a station, is place value. Place Value is usually one of the first topics covered in the year. I use several resources for this, but one of my favorites is my Place Value Work Stations! This activity gives students a chance to actually build the number. I use this station set AFTER the concept as been thoroughly taught and modeled. No matter what subject, stations can not be given to the students without previous instruction. It is so important that the student has a strong foundation before we start practicing on the skill. Here is a little preview into that station packet...

You can take a better look at it here

Depending on your grade level, pattern blocks can also be a great math station. I love "killing two birds with one stone", so this activity from First Grade Blue Skies is just great! She combines the pattern block activity with learning sight words! My students LOVE this. I think second graders can benefit from pattern blocks, especially when they promote higher order thinking skills. 

Another great
station that you can use throughout the year is this Time Packet.

I use binder rings  for SO many of my stations! It's a easy way to keep up with things and to make sure cards do not magically disappear...we all know that happens sometimes :) 
I also have several of Denise's activities! One of my favorites for Math Stations is Measurement Task Cards! This is another great station, that you could even store on binder rings (haha,I'm slightly obsessed!!)  Denise does a wonderful job with this product. I like it because quality measurement activities are limited and this one really promotes higher order thinking skills...and our students need that so much!!! 

I wanted to end with a list of some of my favorite FREE Math Stations! Thank you for stopping by and be sure to head over and check out my BLOG!!!

Free Math Stations:






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Welcome Everyone!!

         Are you ready to have some fun??
                                              ....Play a game?
                                                              .....Win  prizes and cash?

I have teamed up with 65 AMAZING blogger buddies to put together the ultimate Back to School Linky/Giveaway!!!

Each one of my blogger buddies submitted a cute childhood photo & generously donated something special from their online TpT shops for this occasion!! We have included a fun game for you to play for a chance to win over $300.00 in prizes and a BONUS  CASH-PRIZE raffle you can enter at the end of this post!! 


The game is easy to play....

 Your job will be to try and match each blogger with their childhood photo!!! With over 60 childhood photos and bloggers to match up, this might get tricky!! As I mentioned above, each blogger has generously donated one awesome prize from their TpT store. Successfully match a blogger and childhood photo, and you win the prize offered from that blogger!!! The more you matches you make, the more prizes you win!!! 

Check out some of the prizes you could win!!!

but Wait....
That's not all....

ONE lucky follower will win a $125 Amazon Gift Card!! Scroll to the bottom & follow the directions in the Rafflecopter for a chance to win $$$

The link below will open a form that will allow you to submit your answers for the match up. 

Use the blogger links and numbered images to help you along the way!! Each childhood photo has been assigned a specific number. 

Once you open the form, use the drop-down menu beneath each blog button and select a number that corresponds to a childhood photo. 

The form results will be collected throughout the week. At the end of the week, each submission will be "graded" and you will receive a prize for each blogger and photo you successfully matched up!!

The game closes on Friday, August 23rd at midnight (Arizona Mountain Time). Answers will be announced on Saturday, August 24th. Winners will be notified through email throughout the week. 

Use the blog links below the photos to search for clues!!
Click HERE to Play the Matching Game!!


Follow the directions in the Rafflecopter for a chance to win a $125 Amazon gift card!! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you so much for participating!!! Good Luck!!!

If you would like to post about this linky/giveaway, grab the special image below to display in your post and link up below!!! Make sure to use the link to the actual post.

You would think that after doing this for 20 years, I'd be able to get my room set up in a day or so. But nope, two weeks later and I STILL have little odds and ends to finish up. It's ok. It's my home away from home for 9 months, so I don't mind the time investment. I want it to be bright and cheery and homey for me and most importantly for my kids. I think I'm just about there...

Here's what I walked into. Pretty typical - mish mashy furniture on this side and all my boxes piled up on the other side. Love my vinyl decal trees that live in my library (via Target).  Those were the start of what I call my "Accidental Owl Theme". I never really had a classroom theme, but you'll see that owls and birds just kind of slowly invaded my classroom, so I'm rolling with it but I really don't want to be the crazy owl lady who gets a ton of owl gifts because everyone thinks I have a thing for owls...

This is the view walking into the room and looking right. My little library. That rug was my first Donor's Choose donation. The baskets are from Dollar Tree and holding up way better than I expected!
The little green stools are from Ikea. Directors chair from Pier One.

The little bookshelf with the vine decals on the side was in my grandmother's house from before I was born. I inherited it when she passed. My book baskets fit in there perfectly! It's nice to have such a sentimental piece in my room...

Lamp and decals from Target, solar lantern from Ikea, library labels from me (but I can't share them because they have images that I don't have permission to share. Sadsville). I added a basket for scrapbooks and yearbooks. Kids love to look at those and it's so much better than letting them become dust collectors on the shelf <--the scrapbooks, not the kids...

My new clip chart from Pink Cat Studio on tpt with washi tape covered clothespins -tape from Downtown Tape.  (I'm starting to see why setting up my room is taking so long...)

Our Behavior Bingo is just below our clip chart.

This wall needs some love. That chart is our our schoolwide Sunshine Math program. It needs a title or something. Next to the bathroom door is my birthday poster, also from Pink Cat. I still have to finish adding the names. The bins are from Target and I use them to hold extra supplies once the kids bring them in.

 My student work bulletin board that I LOVE. It's from the Boho Birds collection from Carson Dellosa.
 I used glue dots to adhere thumbtacks to the back of the clothespins, and then added a bird to the front. Changing out student work is super simple!

My computer corner, which looks a lot more impressive than it is. I'm pretty sure those computers are older than my students, but we make it work...

My task card bulletin board and brain beads wall. You can read more about that here.

I use this big book stand that I rescued from the trash(!?) to hold my Zoobooks. I can not say Zoobooks without thinking of this video...

This is part of the open shelving that runs along one wall of my room. I'm so thankful for the storage, but I kind of wish it had doors although it's easy to grab things this way. Those craft bins need a serious cleaning out but I just haven't had the time. So many of my amazing parents want to come in and volunteer already that I'm thinking this might be a good job for them :)

My horseshoe table from Donor's Choose with Marius stools from Ikea. The pink chevron basket is from Lowes and the pink organizer is from The Container Store. Each desk also has one of those for supply caddies.

I found this little stationery organizer in Home Goods a while ago and almost threw it out when I realized it would be perfect to hold these little goodies!

This is my new super favorite area. I've had these buckets from Dollar Tree for a few years. They were just stashed away in my closet almost ready to hit the "Free to a Good Home" pile, when I realized they'd be great for holding these manipulatives. Easy to grab and pass out or for the kids to go and get what they need. I made those labels in Powerpoint. You can download them here from Google Docs. There's a little note on the first page about how to customize them.

And how awesome are these fabric cubes in the shelves? I loooove that they fit so perfectly. I still need to make some labels. I have cubes for legos, pop cubes, math games, literacy centers, geography games...some are storage for me, some are for the kids to grab and use. Definitely my new favorite addition.

You can see I used ball chain keychains to attach the labels. This just makes it so much easier if I want to change things around. Plus I just like the look. I'm also loving my new extra crayon drawers. You can grab the labels from Google Docs here.

My work/copy baskets which are in serious need of a makeover but I love the color and size. Next to that is Cheer-up Chicken and my mondo collection of read alouds and mentor texts.

My desk...it's massive and I hate how much room it takes up. I do love my Tiffany blue computer case from Kuzy.

This is our gathering place. Easel from Ikea, ottoman from Walmart. Adorable Daily 5 posters ready for the first day thanks to Lori at Teaching with Love and Laughter. You can grab those here.

My Smartboard which hasn't worked right in about a year and a half. I'm about to ask them to take it out. It's so sad, but I'd rather have whiteboard space to write on than that big honkin board that just takes up space. I'm hoping they'll finally be able to fix it soon.

Love these clocks! Got them at Walmart for about $4 each. They're set to the times for lunch, specials, and recess. I need to make new signs for them that match a little better and also have the digital time so that they start to recognize the analog and digital times. Below that are my free Mazano level of understanding posters, which you can grab here.

Almost done! I didn't get a good full-on picture of this area. Those little tables are also from Ikea. That's a magnetic curtain rod for holding anchor charts on the board. Next to that is my 9-cube cubby from Lowes that perfectly hold my book boxes! If you look closely under my whiteboard ledge, you'll see racks of coat hooks. Hubs installed those for the kids to hang their backpacks. One of the best things I've ever one!  There's my impulse buy duck that really has no purpose, but I love him anyway. I also bought a new calendar from Really Good Stuff this year that has the days printed on it! No more changing the days for me every month! Yahoo! It also has a fun fact of the day and came with stickers for birthdays and holidays. Loving that! There's my Magic 8 Ball. Every year the kids love that thing! No joke. This year at meet & greet I had a whole gob of kids all grouped around something and when I went to check it out, it was the 8 Ball! Not the ipads, not the computers, not the games, not the Cheer-up Chicken...it was the old-school shake it up Magic 8 Ball!

This is the last corner. That sign was from when I was teacher of the year for the Miami Herald in my first year of teaching. I guess I peaked early. I only keep it up there because everyone gets a kick out of my 80's do. I should probably add my more recent T.O.Y plaque there too. The sign above that is a little canvas I saw at Walmart.

This is a full view from the front door. It looks like a giant room, but the picture is deceiving. It's not tiny, but it's not as big as it looks here.  I went to tables this year instead of desks and I love how much more open it looks! I put one of my crate seats at each table to store their books. I also ordered seat sacks from Chair Pockets on Etsy so that each kid has a little place of their own for their pencil case, writer's notebook, etc.  I'm really groovin' on the idea of flexible learning spaces right now, and my new principal totally supports it! Anyone remember the movie Weird Science, where the kids build their perfect woman on the computer and then she comes to life? Well, that's kind of how I feel about my new principal, seriously. For real. Don't hate me, I've waited 20 years for a principal like this. I have had other great principals, but there's just something different going on here now that I love.

For meet and greet each student got a little goody bag. It just makes it so much easier to make sure everyone takes home what they're supposed to!

This is what was inside: My Ready Confetti poem, magnet with our class blog and other contact info, school brochure, and their very first brag tag from Imagestuff.

I came up with this poem last minute and just printed it on cardstock. I'm hoping it saves me from having to attch 18 of them to backbacks myself, plus it explains what it is a little. I'm pretending that soon and room rhyme (poetic license & all that).

Two more little tidbits for you. Did you see that Pinterest has a set of  boards just for teachers? Here's the whole scoop, but in a nutshell, the boards have a few collaborative pinners chosen my Pinterest, who then gathered up some responsible pinners to join them. We stick to one theme and don't promote paid products or product posting, just great classroom ideas. I'm lucky enough to pin to the Classroom Decor and Classroom Management boards. Check it out!

And...in case you haven't heard, the big Back to School sale on TpT is this weekend. My wish list currently has 196 items on it. I think I better narrow that down a bit...

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