Saturday, August 16, 2014

Bright Ideas for Back to School Fun!



OMG! Summer is over!!!! Time to head back to school and hit the books!  Students start on August 25th in my school district and teachers officially start on August 18th, however, as you already know,  many of us have been busy attending staff development and making things for our for months now.

Today I thought I would share with you some of my tried and true first day of school activities.  They are favorites of mine and my students and a great way to start off the year.....  Puzzle Races and Saving Fred.

First the puzzle races.  All you need to do is to divide your class into groups of 4-5 students and you need some puzzles.  I set up my student desks in in groups of 4-5 students so that is how I decide my groups. You can find inexpensive puzzles at the dollar store and even Target's dollar spot.  Of course you should pick a puzzle size that is appropriate to the age of students you have. I buy 100 piece puzzles and its perfect for my 4th graders.  I always buy the same puzzle for each group so no one can claim that their group's puzzle was harder or easier. :)  The puzzles I am using this year are pictured to the left.  I bought them for a dollar each at Target a couple of years ago and they are still good to use. No lost pieces!
 I give each "team" a puzzle and tell them they must work together to complete the puzzle before the other teams finish theirs.  The conversations that go on are priceless.  You will learn a lot from your students by just watching and listening.   Once every group has completed their puzzles we have a talk about what some of the groups good strategies were.  I've heard everything from "we did the border of the puzzle first" to "we didn't get bossy with each other".


Now for the Saving Fred.  For this fun activity you will need: a gummy worm, a gummy ring, a plastic cup, and paper clips per group.  You can do this activity in partners but I prefer to do it in small groups.  In fact, I like to use the same groups that did the puzzles together.  I also usually do this activity the second day of school and do the puzzle race on the first day.

To set this up you will need to but a ring on the desk with the plastic cup upside down over the gummy ring and put a gummy worm on top of the cup.   The story is that Fred (the gummy worm) can't swim so he always has to wear a life preserver (the ring). However, his boat (the cup) capsized/flipped over before he put on his life preserver.  It is the students job to work together to get the life preserver on Fred and the only rule is you cannot touch the Fred, his boat, or the life preserver with your hands. Hence, the paper clips... the only "tool" the students can use is the paper clips. Talk about team work and strategies!  This is a great activity for both!


I hope you enjoyed the bright back to school fun ideas and even try them with your class!  I would love for you to join me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as well.

For more bright ideas from more than 100 bloggers, please browse through the link up below.  Just find an idea or grade level that interest you!

Happy First Week of School!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Fabulous Finds!


Today is my official last day of summer.  Starting tomorrow, I will try to wake up early and go to bed at a decent time.  I will START thinking about school, well I kinda started thinking about school this evening knowing there is a Teachers Pay Teachers sale starting tomorrow.    Anywho, tomorrow I will consider my summer over and start getting in back to school mode, slowly but surely!

Instead of my usual Vera Bradley or Thrity-One Gifts school bag I decided on an adorable  bag to represent my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers!  While shopping for this tote I found this frog that was just calling my name... so I bought him!  I bought both here (on sale by the way) at Fanatics.  You can check out any sports team by clicking on the banner.
Shop the newest Dallas Cowboys fan gear at Fanatics!

I did get a new Vera Bradley purse and some new Vera Bradley prescription glasses (both regular and sunglasses) so I think Vera will forgive me for getting a different school bag. :)

I saw this saying floating around the internet and had to make a shirt with it!  No, the guys isn't included! :)
You can get this shirt any time before August 15th by going  here and ordering it.  It's only $15.90 plus shipping.  I am hoping my whole grade level gets one. I think they are adorable!



I haven't received mine yet, but April from A Modern Teacher, has created a masterpiece! It's called the Teacher Life Map.  It's the PERFECT planner for teacher's who do their lesson plans online.  Read about it here. She has different covers but the one pictured is the one I chose. By the way, it is not something you have to print out.... this is a hard good that will get shipped to you.  I should receive mine next week and I can't wait!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Here are some FABULOUS FINDS that you can get during the TPT sale!  These are some things on my list.  Don't forget to use the code BTS14 when you go shopping on TPT!


I had this on my wish list but I happen to win it this past week! WOOHOO! This fabulous resources is a must have for any Texas 4th or 7th grade teacher.  It comes from my friend Alyssa who blogs at Teaching in the Fast Lane.  Her TPT store is the first one I go to when I need any Texas history resources.
This Texas Revolution Complete Unit is absolutely FAB!  It has so many activities including a powerpoint, I Have Who has, Task Cards, stuff for Interactive Notebooks,  and Vocabulary.  It's 180 plus pages of awesomeness and even includes an answer key!
Another one of Alyssa's products that are on my wish list is her Regions of Texas bundle.  Actually I really want her Ultimate Texas History Bundle that has a zillion trillion activities!!!!  It sounds like all she creates is Texas history stuff but she doesn't...she has a bunch of super sensational resources so check out her store!

I know this post is getting long but to wrap things up here are some more items on my wishlist at TPT.  





These are from another couple of friends, Rachel Reyna and Louis Fisher at Fisher Reyna Education


I need this Currently in your Classroom!    from my friend Farley at  Oh boy 4th Grade     

      








And the last wishlist item I will post tonight is the Incredibly Iconic library decor!  I love everything my friend, Kristen does but these are just plain ol' cool!  Visit her site at Ladybug's Teacher Files







Here's to a great year my fabulous froggy friends!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Currently in August.... what, August?


I can't believe it's August already!  The summer flew by but I enjoyed every second of it!  You know I love me some Farley and participate in her Currently linky every month!  This month my currently doesn't need much explaining but here's a brief summary....

Listening:  I'm watching the weather lady telling us it's going to be hot! Duh, I know, I live in South Texas!

Loving: I love being a Jamberry Nails Independent Consultant.  I originally joined just to get the discount because I love the wraps and wear them all the time but I've made enough money to buy lots and lots of goodies for my classroom this year plus earned a ton of fabulous new nail wraps!  It is no work at all! The only parties I have had so far are facebook parties (in my pjs) and have been pretty successful.  If you are interested in joining my team the month of August is the month to do it because Jamberry is offering an awesome bonus!   Just shoot me an email if you want to know more or would like a sample to try it out.

Thinking: Yup summer is basically over, time to start thinking about school!

Wanting: I want to start meal planning.  I see so many people doing it and preparing meals ahead of time.  I am going to look into it this week and see if I can make it work for me.  We "drive thru" way too much! 

Needing: to start thinking about school.... everything from my schedule to school clothes to going back to self contained after only teaching ELA last year.

I'm officially back on contract August 18th but I have some staff development next week and will go start setting up my classroom the week after. I'll be sure to post pics when I set up the classroom and post them here.

Here's to a Fabulous School year my Fabulous froggy friends!

Friday, July 25, 2014

YAHOO! YIPPEE! E is for Enthusiasm!


Uh Nooo, I don't want to know what's under your cape in a creepy flash your trench coat type of way. Get your mind out of the gutter!!!!

What's Under Your Cape?  is a superduper, frogilicious, fantastical, (yup, they're real words) resource for teachers to use to integrate Character Education in their own classroom.  Barbara Gruener, the author of this book, who is also a friend, and a superhero herself, shares her knowledge of having  positive characteristics of  SUPERHEROES on her own blog, The Corner on Character.

Some of my blogging buddies were talking about doing a book study on What's Under Your Cape?  I didn't even have the book when I said I wanted to participate.  Well, yes, I partly wanted to participate because I don't like to be left out of stuff but I knew the book HAD to be absolutely FABULOUS since I was already a big fan of Barbara's!  

I picked a date that corresponded with a chapter and it happened to be E is for Enthusiasm! Coincidence?  I think NOT!

 
Those of you that know me in person would probably say I am very short, loud, slightly obnoxious, crazy, real loud, full of .... energy, real real loud enthusiastic, especially when it comes to teaching!  I have such a passion for making a difference in student's lives and I am equally enthusiastic about teaching!

So what is enthusiasm?  Watch this little clip and see if it helps you define being enthusiastic.
Barbara starts out the chapter by saying "Let's face it; enthusiasm ignites greatness." (p.65) When I read that line I want to scream, "Hell ya" but that wouldn't be nice so instead I gave it an "Amen sista"! Barbara also states that she saw this claim on a poster once: "A healthy dose of Enthusiasm is like passion on steroids". That's it!  Enthusiasm is being excited and passionate about whatever you are doing!
I show enthusiasm and excitement everyday in the classroom!  How can my students be excited and happy to be in school for most of their day without me, their teacher, showing enthusiastic passion for learning. I can confidently say that if you asked the kids who have been in my class throughout the years to describe me they may not use the word 'enthusiastic' but would definitely say I am crazy about learning, fun, happy, and perhaps silly.  I love going to work and seeing my kids every single day.  My students know it and FEEL it!  Don't get me wrong, I still count down the days until Thanksgiving break (only 17 weeks by the way) and enjoy time off like everyone else but when I am with my students I share my enthusiasm, not just for school but for life.  Happiness and eagerness breeds happiness and eagerness..... ooh, that's getting so philosophical, huh?
Imagine how your students would react if you came taught with as much enthusiasm as this guy has? 


They would not only think you are the coolest teacher EV-VA but they would feel your positive vibes and try to emulate your enthusiasm.  My students learn that even if something goes wrong in my day or I get in a bad mood, I will stop and change my attitude until I am positive again.  I wasn't born this way, and my mom and sister will agree.  In fact, my husband and kids will tell you that I am not always this way at home.  I can get pretty grumpy and irritable with the best of them but I have learned in my 46 years of life to change my negative attitude about situations into positive ones and do whatever I do with enthusiasm and a good attitude just like this little guy...


Sorry about the video overload but they really do share my feelings and help me explain my thoughts!  

In this chapter Barbara shares book titles and questions to ask yourself and your students.  She shares songs and ideas to use in your classroom but I will let you discover them when you read it.  She even suggest to reflect on some our favorite inspirational quotes.... I have a ton of quotes printed out on pretty paper posted all over my classroom.  I need those reminders daily and so do my students.

As most of you know I can get pretty wordy (yes, in real life too!) so I am going to leave you with one last thought (before you leave me for being too wordy - LOL!).  Enthusiasm, passion, a great attitude, and positive thinking is not something that is innate, or we are born with.  It is something we deliberately and purposely have to make part of our day, every day. 

I challenge you to show enthusiasm and positive thinking to your students every day. It will become a wonderful habit for both you and your students. I promise you with passion, enthusiasm,and a great attitude you will have a wonderful atmosphere in your classroom and a terrific year no matter what age you teach!

Our next Chapter will be R is for Responsibilty 
 



Enthusiastically yours! ;)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Back to School Bonanza!


As much as I am enjoying my summer break, the truth is, it's time to think about Back to School!  I am not back on contract until August 18th but I haven't done ANYTHING school related this summer.  Starting Monday I will start thinking about school again, which means I will start thinking about curriculum, lesson planning, and schedules. YIKES!   However, I don't want to rush things so that I why I am starting off slowly.... with this post and a Back-to-School giveaway (that you can find at the bottom of this post).

First I want to show you these FABULOUS Jamberry Nail Wraps I created in Jamberry's Nails Art Studio. I was inspired by the just as fabulous, Christi Futlz, from Ms. Fultz's Corner.  I purchased and use her Back to School digital papers (also seen in the blog post pic above).
You can be the coolest teacher in the school by having the cutest nails eva!  You can purchase them by clicking the BUY NOW button.  



So we took care of  Back-to-School fashion and how about the all important Back-to-School Snack?  HA!  The last thing I should be thinking about are snacks but the companies, Cosmos Creation and Sugar Bowl Bakery,  have sent me some yummy snacks to try.  YUMMO!  

The Sugar Bowl Bakery sent some yummy desserts that would be perfect for any parent to serve their kiddo when they got home to school,  to serve at a faculty meeting, or even to serve parents at Meet the Teacher night!  My favorite is the cookie in the middle called Petite Palmiers.... they are so flaky and sweet! The first cookie pictured is called Madelines....perfect with my coffee.  My son happened to devour the brownie bites before I could blink.  You can find all these desserts at most major grocery stores including Kroger and Wholesale stores like Costco.
Cosmos Creation sent me a box of HEAVEN... yep, I said Heaven!  This is the first time I tried these little morsels of sweet, crunchy goodness! It's the best flavored puffed corn snack you will ever eat!  They have a ton of flavors such as Salted Caramel, Crush Sea Salt Vinegar with Pepper, Coconut Crunch, and more! Dare I say, I like a healthy snack?  Those of you that know me personally know I don't do healthy.... I should but I don't. These snacks have ingredients that you can actually pronounce and DO NOT have gluten, hulls or kernals and is non-GMO.  You can learn more by going to their website or facebook page.

You can purchase this snack (that I now nicknamed "heaven in a bag") at Sam's Club nationwide as well as other retailers such as The Fresh Market, TJ Maxx, and Marshalls.  

Cosmos Creation not only sent me samples to try but a prize pack to give away to one of my readers!  YAHOO! You will get a bag full of yummy different flavors of "heaven in a bag"!!!! I will also be giving away a $20 Amazon gift card so you can buy yourself some school supplies to start your year off right!  




Good Luck!