Monday, April 7, 2014

raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens...

It is NO secret that I am a HUGE fan of Krista Wallden and her Creative Clips clip art.  If you took one step into my classroom, you would, without a doubt, see something I have created using her clip art in the first thirty seconds of being in my room.


My sweet, wonderful husband bought me Krista's first three monthly clip art clubs for Christmas...  and I have bought myself every one since...  and again, another one of my favorite things.  I turned into a creepy stalker the past couple days as she has been gearing up to her 10,000 follower celebration.  To celebrate, she's giving away tons of clip art sets, posting daily freebies...  oh my goodness!  It is spectacular.

This morning before I left for school, I checked out today's freebie--and was SO excited to get to school and get to work on something new to make my classroom even more fun.  Awhile back, I went to the Children's Museum and saw some really cool mobiles and thought I needed to create something similar to hang about my reading area--this clip art set completely screamed to me, "YOU HAVE TO MAKE US INTO THIS!"



And it was so easy to make--I had it done in less than twenty minutes.  I printed out the graphics I wanted on the color printer, cut them out, mounted them on cardstock, cut again, laminated, trimmed, hole punched and connected them with binder rings.  Ta-da!  One push pin later, and I'm in love.


So, basically--what this entire entry is trying to tell you is:  If you are looking for an easy way to make your classroom REALLY STINKIN' CUTE, go follow Krista and Creative Clips, download some free clip art, buy some other fantastic clip art, and you are well on your way to having that classroom!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

do you come from a land down under?

March has officially arrived, and that means All School Unit for my school.  Last year, we spent the month deep in Mexico, and this year, we're heading to the land down under--Australia!  I'm actually really looking forward to the ASU this year--having one under my belt now, I know what to expect and how much I need to (and don't need to) put into it to really make it great for my kids.

This week, we had our Opening Celebration--which is spectacular.  The parents volunteer and really make learning come alive (quite literally) for all of our students, kindergarten through sixth grade.  We began our Australian adventure by boarding an "airplane" and learning about some of Australia's tourist destinations from our flight attendants.


We then traveled throughout the country, meeting Aussies in various places.  We learned about the dog fence that keeps the dingoes out, Uluru and the Aboriginal Australians, the outback, the Sydney Opera House and the Great Barrier Reef.  Whew!  We were BUSY!


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

it's a sale! it's a sale!

Did you hear?  Did you hear?


Everything in my store is on sale--and with the promo code, you will get EVERYTHING for 28% off!  WOW!  That is everything below!


And I'm also looking forward to spending some money on some fantastic purchases myself.  These are the things on my wishlist right now:



1. Creative Clips Kids Bundle - I LOVE Krista's clip art.  It's all over my classroom these days.  It's brightly colored and engaging!

2. Kristen Smith's Guided Reading Made Easy - Kristen's creations are fantastic, and I've been feeling like my small reading groups are getting a little dull lately.  I'm hoping this is exactly what I'm looking for to wake them up!

3. Kari Bolt's Christmas Around the World Australia/England Clip Art - I'm planning on using this clip art for the All School Unit in March.  I have to teach the school about holidays in Australia--definitely need some warm weather Christmas clip art!

4. Scrappin Doodles' Australian Critters - More clip art for the All School Unit.

What are you planning on buying?  Anything really great and exciting that I shouldn't miss out on?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

one hundred days smarter!

Can I be completely honest for a minute?  Confession:  This is one of my LEAST favorite weeks of school ever.  It's chaos.  Why?  It's Spirit Week.  Each day has a different, fun theme for the kids to dress up for.  Today was backwards day.  It was also the 100th day of school.  In case the kids weren't crazy enough already.

Oh well.  I bring it upon myself.  Since it was backwards day, we did our whole schedule backwards...  morning snack was in the afternoon, our afternoon P.I.L.O.T. time was in the morning and our morning meeting was the last thing we did.

But it was also the 100th day, so my friends arrived to find this on their desks:


I made them fancy pants 100th day pencils, they got to color fancy 100th day glasses and they had to countdown from 100.

It may be too late for you to make your kiddos those fancy pants pencils, but just in case it's not, or you want to save them for next year--two different versions of them are available in my TpT shop.


In addition to those oh, so exciting activities, we also completed 100 math problems and wrote down 100 words.  The 100 words is my personal favorite--I love seeing the different places my kiddos choose to find words.
(second picture from the left--check out that backward ponytail!)
I broke out the chalkboard I made over the summer and wrote "100th Day" on it and had my students pose with it for their portfolios.  Decorated the doorway, jumped 100 times...  yes.  It was crazy.

Monday, February 10, 2014

winter games and medal graphing

I am LOVING everything about the Winter Olympics this year.  I mean, they're not the Summer Games, by any means (love gymnastics...), but it is still so exciting!  I am also a huge fan of the learning opportunities they are presenting for our classroom.

We started today by introducing our class medal count.  I used predictions from the Wall Street Journal to guide my choices for countries to keep track of--I wanted countries with many, many medals.  We have a giant poster out in the hallway so we can keep the rest of the school informed!


So yes--we're keeping track of Norway, Germany, the United States, Canada, Russia and... Australia.  Yes.  Australia.  The whole school is studying Australia next month for the All School Unit--so the kindergarten teacher and I thought it would be good to tie this in with that, too.

One of my first graders thought keeping track of Australia was odd.  After I introduced each country and we had found them on the map, one of my friends raised his hand.

"Mrs. B, I noticed that all of the countries we are keeping track of are in the Northern hemisphere, except Australia.  It is in the Southern hemisphere.  Why?"

Love teachable moments--we briefly discussed the differences in climate and the reversed seasons in Australia.  The whole class is rooting for Australia to get some medals now and are super excited for March!

Before we went out to the hallway, we read this (freebie!) interactive reader from Erin Palleschi of Once Upon a Classroom to help us learn about the Olympics.  My first graders loved this reader, and we will be keeping it at school for the rest of the Olympics to read a few more times.


I also have plans of using figure skating scores to help us talk about greater than and less than (and breaking out our Number Eating Alligator) and doing some of our own versions of different events.  What are you  doing in your classroom to get into the Olympic spirit?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

what's going on in first grade

I raised over $400 running the Race for Education with my school.  I get to spend ALL of that money on stuff for my classroom.  Whatever I want, whatever will make my life at school easier for me.  I spent a big chunk on little MP3 players for my listening center, but I have been able to buy some other things, as well.  Like this impulse buy from Target.


It's like a giant pocket chart/dry erase sleeve/picture frame hybrid.  Of course, I had to buy two.

What in the world am I going to do with two of these?  Well...  this is now hanging on my classroom door.


It's now an easy way for me to communicate with EVERYONE in the school what is going on in our room.  The first window displays the unit we are studying for the month.  The next one lists our monthly essential questions, followed by this month's calendar.  In the bottom window, I have our monthly Bible memory verses.


Super easy--I print them (and I laminated all of them but the calendar to reuse next year) and slide them in.  And I still have another set of these fabulous pockets to use in my room somewhere!

Friday, January 3, 2014

2014, here i come!

It seems like yesterday that I was celebrating the arrival of 2013--looking ahead, making resolutions and getting grumpy about the end of the holidays.  It's hard to believe that it is already 2014!  I'm so sad to see the end of all of the family visits and time off with Mark, but I'm excited to get back to school and see my kiddos.

I blogged last year about my New Year's Resolutions, and I always like to revisit those and reflect on how I did.  My resolutions last year were:

1. Drink more water.
2. Finish organizing the house!
3. Stop saving drafts for the blog to "add pictures to later," and just click publish.
4. Tone my arms.
5. Keep my desk at school tidy.
6. Go to bed earlier than 11:30 on school nights.

And how did I do?
1. I drink more water!  I do...  but not nearly enough.  Especially since I started running.  One water bottle (about 16 oz.) is NOT enough while I'm at school.
2. Over the summer, I was doing fantastic.  I was motivated, I was getting stuff done... and then school started.  Major fail now.  Before the cookie party, it was a scramble to clean--and now there is stuff stashed and stuffed and put all over the house.  It is driving me up a wall!
3. Ummm...  yeah.  Fail.
4. This one did not get out of January.  Ugh.  BUT--I did start running in March, and am now slightly obsessed.  That has to count for something, right?  And I've got a chin up bar now.  It's still in the box, but I have it.
5. I'm doing a decent job at this.  I still have to spend a chunk of time Friday afternoons cleaning it before the weekend, but it's not as bad as it was last year.  But I still don't sit at it...  maybe I should try to get rid of it?
6. I would say two out of five nights I am in bed by 11:30.  This needs to be given more effort.

My resolutions for 2014 are:
1. Keep running!  I want to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon in February 2015, and in order to do that, I need to keep running and run more!  Perhaps I can add some more 5ks to my resume, or even something a little longer.

These are the fantastic new running shoes (and hot pink socks) I got for Christmas.
2. More maintenance cleaning, less waiting until a deep clean is needed.  Mark and I have a horrible habit of letting our house get to chaos and then spending an entire weekend cleaning.  I would love to spend an hour every night cleaning to maintain a clean house instead of having to create it from scratch all over again.

3. Dedicate more to TpT and this blog.  I have a few things in my shop, and I want to really begin to focus on making more things I have made for my class the best they can be and post them in my shop.  I want to share more on the blog, too.  I've learned so much from other teacher bloggers and home bloggers, I want to really contribute to that blogging world!

This is one of the most recent things I've added to my shop--an editable 2014 calendar!
Considering how last year's resolutions were all only about half done, I'm limited myself to three--and will continue to work on last year's.  Let's see what happens!