Image Map

Monday, December 7, 2015

My Pet Reindeer

Hi Friends!

Are you counting down the days until winter break? Me too #about15togo

As much as I cannot wait for a solid two weeks at home, where getting dressed is purely optional, I really do love this time of year at school. It's like holidays 24/7 for all of December for teachers. I mean there's books upon books dedicated to the holidays and we get to decorate our homes and our rooms! Okay, that's not always the funnest for some of us :)

I'm here today with a sweet little creativity unit I whipped up just in time for winter. It's all about adopting a pet reindeer, so it's tons of fun for Christmas, but it's also a lot of fun if holidays are a no-no in your school, but you still want to sprinkle a little cheer in your room!

In this unit, students adopt a pet reindeer and write all about it! There are tons of different writing papers and prompts to appeal to students of all ages, but the funnest writing activity comes in the form of a pet manual. You have to love the activities where students don't even realize they're doing work because they're having so much fun.

And if they get to use their imagination? Well, I'm ALL OVER THAT!

We're just getting this little unit started in my pull-out groups. Because I only have them for small periods of time a few times a week. I have to really break up the lessons.

We started by adopting a class reindeer we named Bernie. We talked about all the ways we could describe the way Bernie looked on the outside. Then, we read "Olive, the Other Reindeer". We talked about what skills and characteristics Olive had that made her a good reindeer.

We went back to our chart and added personality traits. I also asked them to think about their pets at home. How would they describe their personalities? We added a few of those suggestions to our cart as well.

{{Sorry our chart is a little wrinkly. I had an overzealous volunteer grab it for me!}}

That's as far as we got last week. This week we will use our characteristic planning sheet to plan out our own reindeer's personality and appearance. We'll use them to make our reindeer and finally to fill out our pet manual.

Lastly, my students will receive adoption certificates and they will officially be reindeer parents!

Here's a closer look at most of the components of "My Pet Reindeer"

This unit includes tracers for the pet reindeer. I plan on only giving my students tracers for the reindeer heads and possibly antlers because they need help with scale, but I want each students' reindeer to look different and be reflective of the characteristics I gave them.

I will post pictures once we finish them! I'm so excited to see the final result!

You can grab this little unit from my TpT store by clicking the cover image below:

Happy Holidays :)

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Halloween Round-Up: Freebies & Favorites

Hi Friends!

Just stopping in to share a few of my favorite Halloween activities for the Halloween week ahead (aka SURVIVAL WEEK)

The good news: they're all fun & educational
The great news: many of them are free!

First up: a freebie of my own made to accompany everyone's favorite Halloween book (okay, at least one of your favorite Halloween books): Room on the Broom.

This freebie features comprehension cards, sequencing, and cause and effect activities. Read more about what's included and grab it here.

Practicing dialogue with your kiddos? I have this fun freebie for a ghostly greeting bulletin board:

Okay, this one isn't free, but it's HANDS DOWN my students' favorite Halloween center that we do...and I do Halloween BIG in my room. Costume Clues is so much fun that your students don't even realize they're practicing their inferring skills (unless you tell which case they'll still have so much fun).

Honestly. I wouldn't lead you astray...grab it here.

This fun activity from Jamie at 2nd Grade Stuff is also a crowd favorite:

Wanting some Halloween math activities?

I have a freebie or two for you:

This ghost bump is too cute. I seriously love this ghost clipart and look for a reason to use it every year:

And this freebie is fabulous for building number sense. So many options for how to use it:

I hope I was able to help you stock-up for this week of craziness! And remember, drop lots of hints about your favorite candy to your students...they'll bring them in to share with you. You deserve them for getting through this week :)

Sunday, October 11, 2015

New Look, New Name, New Giveaway!

Ok, can I start by just saying "SWOON" to my new blog design? I am in love with the new look. And it's all thanks to Becca over at Jumping Jax Designs! She actually designed my last blog too, but with a new job and a new blog focus, I felt change was in order.

So the new look: again, SWOON.

The new name? It's subtle. You probably didn't notice when you were admiring my new design, but I dropped the "in 2nd Grade" part. This is mostly because I don't just teach 2nd grade anymore. And also because I plan on bringing a little more of my "outside the classroom life" into my blog. For such a long time, I held back on writing about something that happened in my personal life, or talking about new things I found for my home, or a new recipe I tried b/c I felt like I HAD to focus on teaching. And while more personal things seeped into the blog, I was still limiting myself. Now I feel like I don't have to do that anymore.

Plus, I'm not just teaching 2nd grade anymore. My new position has me teaching language arts to grades K-2. That means more resources and lessons across a broader range of ages, grades, and abilities. I don't want someone who teaches kindergarten to come across my blog and turn away because it says 2nd grade. I'll have ideas for that person too now! Soon, I hope!

The general idea is that a great idea {or a laugh, or a what not-to-do} is across the hall. I hope you'll come along for this next step of my blogging journey.

And I FINALLY updated my "About Me" section. It was a just a tad bit outdated. Check it out while you're here.

Now to the good stuff:

In honor of my new name and my new look, I'm having a new giveaway!

Two giveaways actually!

The first is easy to enter, right here on the blog. Use the rafflecopter below to win $25 in resources from my TpT shop. It's super simple and super-fast!

The second giveaway is also really easy to enter. I'm hosting it over on instagram. I want to send you a few of my favorite things in honor of this blog now focusing on my life outside of teaching.  You can win...
*a THANKFUL banner from Target
*an adorable coffee mug from Target
*a Starbucks giftcard
*adorable days of the week pencils
*super-cute pumpkin candle from Target

Click the picture below to head to instagram and see how to enter there.

Both giveaways end on Saturday, October 17th!

Good luck, and thanks for following along!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 14, 2015


September is a month of new beginnings for many of us who head back to school during this month. But, boy, has September been a month of change for me a few years running.

September 2013: I was teaching second grade in the district I had worked for since I started my career as a teacher. No big changes other than a new class and a new superintendent.

September 2014: We welcomed Ella Grace into the world and EVERYTHING changed {for the better}. I put teaching on the back burner and became a stay at home mom for the entire school-year.

September 2015: I started a new job, in a new district, with a new title. {and my baby became a toddler...sigh...where does the time go?}

That's right, if you follow me on Instagram, you *may* have seen my subtle announcement that I have accepted a different position in a different district and I am pretty darn excited about it!

I will now be teaching Language Arts to grades K-2 as a pull-out teacher. My position is pretty new to the district and school where I now work. Because of this, I'm not quite sure what my responsibilities will be, what programs I will be using, etc.

I'm not quite sure what lies ahead, but I do know I made the right decision. I had contemplated not going back to work at all, and actually, for about two weeks over the summer that was the case. I resigned my former position without having anything else lined up. We were fine with me staying home a for a few years, but there was a small voice in my head telling me I wanted to be back in the classroom sooner rather than later. I started searching for part-time teaching positions and I found the posting for the district where I now work.

I am hopeful that my new position will offer me a deeper understanding of literacy and language arts in the primary grades, which will in turn lead me to creating resources for a variety of grade levels.

I am also hopeful it will create the work-home balance I was searching for when I applied for the job. Because the job is part-time, I get to devote more of myself to my family, friends, and home. I am excited to hopefully have the best of both worlds.

Because of these changes, my blog is undergoing a little bit of change as well. I will of course be blogging about all the things my new position entails: lessons, funny stories, products, and pictures. And I also hope to blog a little bit more about my personal life as well: parenting a toddler {again, sigh}, house/home/decor, favorite things, and just any little thing I want to!

I hope you will want to follow along :)

Keep an eye out for the new look, soon!


Monday, August 17, 2015

Looking to Revamp Your Morning Work?

I've been teaching for 7 years now. I think back to how I started off: excited but unsure, eager yet apprehensive. It's amazing how teaching can be both extremely exciting and daunting at the same time. Especially for the fresh-faced college grads.

Looking back, I'm amazed at how many teaching practices I've kept since I started. I think this is mostly because I researched the heck out of routines, procedures, homework policies, reward systems, and morning meetings before I even had a classroom of my own. This was before Pinterest and teacher blogs, mind you. I was a big visitor the the A to Z teacher forums as well as Education World.

Remember those? They still exist, actually!

Anyways, something I've kept mostly the same for the last few years is Morning Work. Of course, every year it's been tweaked, but the general idea is the same. And it's probably because I absolutely love how we do morning work in our classroom

I guess I should mention now that I've had access to a SMART Board or projector since my second year of teaching, and I do morning work that way, but my routine could be adapted to your classroom if you're lacking that kind of technology.

I should also mention that this is nothing ground-breaking. I just took a pretty popular morning message idea and adapted it to the needs of my own classroom. {You know...what teachers have done since teaching began... :)}

When my students walk in our classroom in the morning, my morning message to them is on the board.

Students unpack, place their homework books and take-home folders on the back table, hang up their coats and bookbags and get to work. {I do not call them by group, they do this on their own time}.

Ok, so like I said, the morning message is on the board. Students read the message {with blanks} to themselves and then take out their Good Morning Notebooks. The message generally lets them know what we will be learning about that day and any important announcements {birthdays, special visitors, special events, etc}.

There are always a few blanks in the morning message. Students write the answers to those first. One answer per line to keep it neat. They DO NOT rewrite the whole message. #aintnobodygottimeforthat

What you do need time for: modeling, modeling, modeling. I'm not going to lie. This monring work routine does take a fair amount of work up front but it totally pays off. Just like anything worthwhile :)

This is one of my lower friends, but he has the most beautiful handwriting so I made a big stink and took pictures of this notebook!

The blanks are usually in place of days of the week, names of specials, and sight words. Sometimes I have a blank with a skill or concept from the day before so I can gage how well they remember the term {examples: compare/contrast, mental math, strategies, etc} For those kind of words, spelling is not important, but for days of the week, teacher and special names, and sight words, students correct their spelling when we go over the message.

Once students fill-in the blanks from the message, they move on to "below the line". I'm sure you could come up with a fancy term for this, I just never did!

"Below the line" is often just an extra question or task they need to complete before they are done with their morning work. It might be a set of math problems. It might be something they need to search for in the message itself {example: find the synonym for kind}, or it might tell them to grab a worksheet off the back table.
The "Below the Line" here asked students to write a sentence and draw a picture about what scientists do.
Here "below the line" was triple-digit addition problems.

What I love about "below the line" is that it allows me to be as flexible as I want to be regarding the amount of time I have to give for morning work. Say it's Monday morning and I need to check for Friday Folder signatures. I know it's going to take me a little longer than usual to go through their folders, so I come up with something a little more involved for morning work.  Say we're headed to an assembly 10 minutes after school starts and I need to squeeze in a morning meeting before we go, "Below the Line" for that day will be a really simple task so we can all move on quickly.

I'm not ever tied down to giving the same thing for morning work each day, yet my students still have a routine that allows me to get what I need done without fear of any disruptions. That's why I love it!

After a majority {or all on a good day} of my students finish their morning work, we head over to the carpet for morning meeting. When we head back from morning meeting, we fill out the morning message together. First, I choose a student who will read the morning message aloud. I do this first because I want them to have time to read it to themselves in their head so that when they read it to the class it's the smoothest read possible. I didn't do it that way when I first started doing morning work this way and reading the morning message could sometimes take FOREVER. I also call on students to fill in the blanks. They are allowed to pick whatever blank they want/is left when they get to the board.

Later in the year, I started adding a third component to morning work. I chose a clipart character to give the students a quick, additional task.

Like I said above, students are responsible for correcting sight words, names, months,and days of the week in their notebook. This gives them a reference to use when they are unsure of the spelling {something we talk a lot about at the beginning of the year}.

Do you differentiate morning work? Easy! Just give separate tasks for "below the line" work!

Think this kind of morning work routine would work well in your classroom? You're in luck! I'm providing you will a free morning work template to be used on your projector. It will be a Powerpoint file so that you can edit it. I won't be offering it in any other format at this time {sorry}. Click the picture below to grab it.

I also have a PDF file for you of the labels I use to put on the front of my students' "Good Morning Notebooks". You will need to print them on Avery shipping labels {6 labels to a sheet} or sticker paper. Click the picture below to grab them.

If you were looking for a way to switch up your morning work, I hope this helped!


Saturday, August 1, 2015

All About: Making Students Feel Special

Good Morning!

To me, teaching is about so much more than reading, writing, and math. It's easy to forget that in today's world of data tracking, state testing, and teacher accountability. But it's so important to remember that we have responsibilities as teachers to model compassion, empathy, confidence, and more.

I always want my students to know they are valued and important. I do this a variety of ways, which I'll be highlighting soon, but one of my favorite ways to do it is by having an All About Student.

Maybe you call it Star Student, MVP, or VIP.

I like All About because I want to learn all about my students and because when they are the All About Student it really is ALL ABOUT them.

We do it up big in my classroom during a student's All About Week! I'd love to share with you just how we do it.

The Friday before a student is our All About student, I send home a parent-letter and survey for my students to fill out {or mom and dad to fill out for them}. This way, when they bring it back on Monday, we can display their answers for the whole week.

Here are some of the categories from the "Stripes Edition"
I try to come up with categories that will really help us get to know each other. 

Here's another display option

Students share their answers during a short presentation on Friday. I love how it builds speaking and listening skills all year long.

We go over good audience guidelines a lot at the beginning. And I always present first to model what good speaking looks and sounds like.

I also give opportunities throughout the week for students to share more about themselves. They can pick a read-aloud book for me to read the class or bring in a special show and tell item.

"All About" letter and reminder notes

My favorite part of All About though, is the parent letter. I love hearing more about my students through the eyes of people that love them the most. Through parent letters, we get to learn about students as babies, and see how they may be different at home. I've had parents, grandparents, step-parents, and older siblings write some really beautiful letters. And the glow from the All About student, as I read them...priceless!

The students need to get in on the action too! I want them to experience the joy of making others feel special. I always have my students write a letter to the All About student. I also made booklet and list options that I might use as a time-saving option this year.

I've created three different themes for All About to match a variety of classrooms.

There's the Primary Edition. It doesn't have any cursive fonts {besides the cover}, and features adorable scrappy kids illustrations and colorful backgrounds:

There's also a Stripes version:

And an ink-saving Black and White version:

Want to add an All About routine to your classroom? Click here to purchase the unit from Teachers Pay Teachers! It will be such a beneficial experience for you and your students!


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Every once in awhile, there are those blog giveaways that I really, really, really, really want to win.

The Owls are hosting one of those giveaways right now. But I'm not eligible to win. And that makes me all sorts of sad.

But you can win! And that should make you all sorts of happy!

We want you to be ready to head back to school. True, it's hard to leave beaches, pools, rafts, lazy days, and fruity drinks behind, but we're giving away so much good stuff that it should help ease the transition a little bit :)

First up, you can win one of three gift cards to help you get your back-to-school shopping done over at the Owl-ways Be Inspired blog. One winner will win $100 to Amazon, a second winner will win $50 to Target, and winner number three wins $25 to Walmart.

I'll provide the link at the end of the blogpost, because I think there's a few things here you'll want to win as well...

I love bright new borders and crisp construction paper as much as the next girl, but what I really need to head back to school is coffee. And lots of it!

I'm giving away a $15 Starbucks gift card to fuel your mornings and an ADORABLE {as in, my most favorite travel mug ever} coffee mug to house your latte with an extra shot of expresso. And in case you overslept, despite the coffee in the cute travel mug, I'm giving away $15 to my TpT store for any last minute back to school resources you might need!

To enter to win, just use the Rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And don't forget to enter over at the Owl-ways Be Inspired blog to win one of three gift cards AND to see what other fabulous prizes the other ladies are giving away. SERIOUSLY. It's GOOD STUFF!

Giveaway ends at midnight on Saturday, July 25th!

Good Luck!


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Goal Setting in the Classroom Freebie

Just a quick post today to offer up a freebie based on one of my most popular posts from a little ways back...

During the 2013-2014 school-year I was fortunate enough to be a cooperating teacher for a student in a local university's certification and masters program. Because she was obtaining her masters at the same time she was getting certified to be a teacher, I had her with me in the classroom for pretty much the whole year.

I feel like this was such a gift for everyone involved. For her, she got more "hands-on" time than most student teachers do and was really able to grow and be confident because she was with the same students for a longer period of time. I was blessed with someone who I worked really well with, which really helped take a load off of me as far as teaching stress goes. And ultimately, the students benefited because they had two teachers with similar styles. Win-win-win!

As part of her experience, she had to do a case-study of sorts. She chose to do goal setting in the classroom for this. I cannot say enough what a huge impact it made on student performance and self-worth.

Each week, we helped students choose a goal to work on. At the beginning of the project, they needed a lot of guidance, but towards the end, they were choosing spot-on goals all by themselves.  A few goals students chose were:

-using capitals and ending marks
-completing morning work
-completing homework
-raising their hand in class more frequently
-raising their hand to be called on {as opposed to calling out}
-playing with different friends at recess {this applied perfectly to a student who wanted only to play with her friend who expressed interest in playing with other students}

There were many more, but those are a few I can remember at the moment.

Students chose their goals, worked on them during the week, and at the end of the week, they conferred with myself or my student teacher and we decided if they achieved their goal. Again, at first, everyone said they did {some were less concrete than others}, but over time students became more reflective and answered honestly.

Students who achieved their goals were given a certificate and also permitted to join in during Minute to Win It at the end of the week. We rarely had a student who didn't accomplish that week's goal.

Since that post, I've had a few readers of my blog request the goal-setting sheets and certificates. I made a few and have made them a freebie to encourage goal setting on your classroom, no matter the grade you teach.

Click here to grab the freebie.

You can also read more about how my student teacher did our goal setting program by clicking here.

I hope you will try goal setting in your classroom this year! If you do, how do you execute your goal setting program?


Friday, July 10, 2015

the Growing Main Idea Bundle is here: Win It!!

I finally took the leap and posted the growing bundle for my main idea resources!! Have no idea what I'm talking about when I say "main idea resources"? Allow me to show you...

Since December, I've been releasing monthly main idea units. Each mini-unit features posters, 6 original passages to be printed and laminated and/or displayed on a projector, cut and paste worksheets {2 versions for differentiation}, and passages and printables to be used in interactive notebooks, or again, for differentiation.

I created this resource to introduce main idea to my students and it worked so well that I decided to make it a monthly product to use for review and reinforcement. We started in October, and by February, I was using the resource solely in literacy centers because my kiddos were just that good ;)

Here's a few snapshots:

This is a preview of the posters that you can print or project.

Here's an example of one of the printables in the pack used in an interactive-notebook. You could also print the sheet on regular ol' paper and have the students fill out the squares like worksheet-style.

This printable also includes an "Extra Time" section at the bottom. PERFECT for early-finishers. The Extra Time box has students perform an extra task involved with the story they just read: making a text-to-self connection, writing sentence or paragraphs, illustrations, lists, and even comic strips!

See below:

My students loved the Extra Time options and offered work hard to afford themselves time to work on it. I was teaching my students time management without even knowing!

Cut and Paste printables make-up yet another part of the product. There are two options for these guys as well. The option pictured above has students finding and writing their own main idea and supporting details.

The other option has the main idea and details already listed and students have to decide which is which, and then paste them in the appropriate spot.

Easy differentiation!

Now that I have your attention, you may be wondering...

So, how does a GROWING bundle work?

You will pay a hugely discounted fee up-front to receive all finished Main Idea mini-units. Currently, December-August are completed and included in the bundle. August-November, as well as non-fiction, will be added by January 15, 2016. The calendar below is included in the bundled download:

August is now included! And a week early at that!
The price for all units purchased separately would be $44. The bundled price will be $36. The GROWING BUNDLE price is starting at $26, and will grow each time I add to the bundle.

To purchase the growing bundle, click the picture below. 

If you have already purchased multiple copies of "What's the Main Idea", but you are interested in the discounted bundle please email me {}, so we can work something out! You can also email me with any questions or clarifications!

I really, truly believe this bundle is such a great investment to keep your students on track with main idea. They love the seasonal passages, and once I made this a center, they were IN LOVE!

Want to win the growing bundle as part of my Summer of Fun giveaway? You have to be fast! Enter below using Rafflecopter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway