Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Ones and Tens...Valentine Heart Style!

I won't even begin to waste time saying how long it's been since I last blogged or explaining why.  In a nutshell, being a full-time mom and full-time teacher is a "full time" job. Who knew?! :) Even though my daughter is almost a year old, (seriously?!)  doing the working mom thing is still not easy for me.  I don't think it ever will be. I struggle with it...a lot. Those of you that make it "look" easy...  I'm in awe! 

 Truth be told, there are STILL more mornings than I'd like to admit that I cry on the way to work and every afternoon is a struggle between wanting to run home to my family and staying at work just "5 minutes longer" to get things ready for the next day.   

Having said that, there are still moments every day that I LOVE my job and know that I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing.  I seriously miss blogging more and I know that eventually I will find my way back on a more regular basis, but for now I'm not going to worry about it and just blog and share when I can (like when I get 2 snow days in a row! yippee!).

This girl gets her "love" of cold weather from her momma, I do believe!

But we did enjoy our snow days for extra cuddling!  How is she 11 months old already?

If you follow me on Instagram, then you already saw the obscene amount of candy hearts we used last week! Seriously...these things taste disgusting so I KNOW teachers are the only people keeping the lights on in the candy heart factories.  Am I right?

We did probability, estimation, graphing, place value, and dissolving experiments with our matter unit so I got my money's worth out of the hearts!  I kept some "clean" for the kids to eat and we just used the rest for all of our activities.

Every year, some kids struggle with the one more/one less/ten more/ten less concept.  Since we are a little (gasp!) ahead in math this year as of now, I wanted to incorporate candy hearts into some extra practice.  I found these little dressing cups at Target (100 of them for 1.99!) and pre-made groups of ten to use.  We use ten frames and base ten blocks all.the.time.  and I just like for them to see these important concepts in a lot of different ways. 
Plus...I am a firm believer that a little novelty goes a long way!
By the way...We are not playing Race to 100, I just accidentally pulled these mats out instead of my regular place value ones! Pretty sure the ones pictured are from Cara Carroll's fabulous place value unit.

This activity made it easier to "talk" math and see who was still struggling because we could say "Do we need to change the number of CUPS or the number of hearts?"  I even had a few inquisitive minds ask if they could count the hearts in their cups to MAKE SURE there were 10 in each one.'s like they've seen me make mistakes before or something. ;)  I also made one large tupperware container with ten of the "groups of ten" cups inside as a visual for what 100 looks like.  I forgot to snap a picture.

Even my little friend who doesn't speak any English was able to get in on the action and count some "ones" with his partner! YES!

I did an activity very similar to this that I blogged about here last year if you are working on this concept and it's NOT Valentine's Day. However, I really liked  having a visual "group of ten" so if I did this again I would probably use the little disposable cups again with groups of 10 M&Ms instead of the pretzel rods. Plus, the cups were fun to stack!

Do you notice a theme here with my math instruction?  FOOD! 


If you are looking for more place value and number sense activities, check out my "Making Sense of Numbers" resource HERE.

Happy teaching to you!


Monday, August 18, 2014

Teacher Week - The Who!

I'm linking up with Blog Hoppin' this morning for teacher week!  I'm going to keep this post short and sweet because after my return to the blogging world post yesterday, you already heard more than you probably ever wanted to about me! ;)
My name is Amy and this is what my life looks like these days. 
Well, except most days I'm wearing milk-stained yoga pants and the bed is not made.
I have a sweet husband, a giant dog, and a tiny daughter.
 My husband, Andy, and I are madly in love with our daughter, Zoey, who will be 5 months old on Wednesday.  We also adore our "firstborn" son, Sawyer.  It's been so fun to watch him become the patient, gentle, precious big brother that I knew he would be.
The fabulous Amy Lemons shared her template for 10 random facts (Thank you!) , so here they are:
But when you wake up to this face...
you just thank God for trusting you to be her mommy and you don't care how much sleep you got or will ever get again! Am I right?
Link up with Blog Hoppin' this week!
Happy teaching to you! Especially those who are heading back today!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

I'm back.

My last post was in December.  Yes. It actually says 2013.
Ready or not...I'm back. I've missed you. Really, I have.
December seems like many years ago and yesterday all at the same time.  When I last blogged, I was very pregnant and very unaware of what was about to happen to our little family. 
 To make a very long story (somewhat) short...I took a step back from blogging because I could.  I couldn't stop teaching my precious first graders. I couldn't completely neglect my home and husband.  I couldn't stop preparing for my baby girl aaannnnddd I couldn't stay awake past 8 pm, so something had to give. ;)  I reluctantly chose my blog and TPT business to go on the back burner. 
We got some troubling news about my pregnancy in December and the remaining months of my pregnancy were exciting, but always accompanied by an annoying whisper of worry and fear. We truly didn't know what to expect. I had to start seeing different kinds of doctors several times a week and doctor's appointments became very much like a part time job....ya know...except for the getting paid part.  I cried a lot and prayed even more.  I thanked God every day for the ROCK that is my husband and for family, friends, and strangers who prayed for my little girl.
I left school on a Friday in March thinking that I was going to a regular doctor's appointment and wound up in the hospital. I didn't get to say goodbye to my school babies and it broke my heart! I had to BEG the doctor to let me go home just for one little minute before I checked in to the hospital. I mean, I had to pick out my pajamas (goodness knows what my husband would have picked out) and shave my legs (priorities!). 
 I wasn't due until the end of April so the doc assured me it would just be for a night to monitor some things and then I'd be on my merry way home to finish my sub plans and decorate my baby girl's nursery and do the 12 loads of laundry on my bedroom floor.
Well, that night in the hospital turned into a very long week of scary news and emotional roller coasters.  Every day started with a "you might have to have an emergency C-section today."  Umm...what?
And did you know that when you are on standby for an emergency C-section they don't let you eat?
Mmm Hmm. I can't talk about traumatic hunger disorder.
After almost a week, my spunky girl decided she couldn't wait a second longer to make her debut and we welcomed sweet Zoey Rae 6 weeks before her due date.  (Patience is still not her strong suit. ;))
She was tiny (3 pounds 15 ounces) and perfect.
She was in the NICU for the longest 17 days of my life and then...
she was home.
And ever since, our home and our lives have been filled with more smiles, love, diapers, laundry, the color PINK, and pure joy than I could have ever imagined. 

She is almost 5 months old and she is still a teeny tiny thing but she is as strong and determined as she can be.
  We adore her.
  I went back to work for 2 weeks to finish out the school year.  It was tough.  I start back to school for a brand new school year next week.  It's going to be even tougher.  I am gearing up....mind, body, and soul!
I just wanted to say hi and get this first post out of the way.  I'll be back to all things first grade very, very soon!
Happy teaching to you!

Monday, December 2, 2013

A sale, a freebie, and HAPPY December!

     Happy December!  I hope you had a Thanksgiving full of blessings, laughs, family, friends, and lots of yummy food!  I was feeling most thankful for my maternity jeans after all the food I ate this weekend.  Yikes!    (I am still trying to figure out why all pants are not made with those glorious stretchy waistbands.)
     My long weekend was extended an extra day because I am patiently awaiting my ultrasound appointment in a few hours to *hopefully* find out if our little sweetie is a boy or a girl!  You could say I'm just a taaaddd excited!  I may or may not have already checked out some cyber Monday deals online so I can do a little pink or blue shopping this evening. ;)
     I think we got our fill of all things TURKEY last week in first grade,  and now it's on to hard to believe!

 These scrapbook paper turkeys turned out to be one of my favorite projects we did. Adorable! 

If you are getting an early start on Christmas projects like we is a little freebie to get you started.  We are participating in the Macy's "Believe" Campaign as a school.   We are all sending letters to Santa to support the Make a Wish Foundation.  Our local paper also publishes their our deadline is soon.

Here is a template for your Santa letters.  Click to download.

We are working on asking vs. telling sentences this week so in our letters, we will TELL Santa something, make two wishes, and then ASK Santa something. We also talk about *nice* ways to ask for something so it's not an I want, I want, I want letter. ;)

Here is an example from last year...

Dear Santa,
I am in first grade now and I lost two teeth!  I would like a Monster High doll.  I would also love to have a stuffed kitten with blue eyes. How are your reindeer doing?
a first grader :)

Do you have this book??

It is a precious read aloud to use when you are ready to write your Santa letters!

I am participating in the big TPT sale today and tomorrow!  20% + 10% off....yes please! 

Here are some Christmas & Winter math stations, games and activities galore to get you going this holiday season.  Click the images to check out the free previews!

Don't forget to use the code CYBER for an EXTRA 10% off from TPT on your purchases!

OK...almost time to head to my appointment! Yippee! Fingers crossed that our little booger cooperates (and his/her legs are NOT crossed!) ;)

Boy or girl?? Any guesses??

Happy Monday & Happy Teaching to you!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Forgive me!

Wow.  It's been a while.  A long while. I promise I have a very good reason for being completely absent from this little blog for the last few weeks months.  In fact, it's the best reason I can think of...

 It's true! We are expecting a little one on April 30th.  The hubs and I are thrilled.  Sawyer is...undecided. ;)

In all seriousness, I have missed blogging and all of YOU so much.  I truly am sorry for not getting back to those of you who have reached out, asked questions, and sent sweet e-mails.  Truly.  I feel so out of the loop.  I'm telling ya...even blogstalking in the evenings has been too taxing. It has been straight to PJ's, fuzzy socks, and naps after school.  Thank the Lord for a fabulous husband! I feel incredibly blessed that I have not been terribly sick or any of that nonsense....just plain ol' worn out. 

 So long story (kind of) short....the first trimester and the beginning of a school year with 21 "spirited" first graders combined...just really kicked my tail.  I hear wonderful things about you, second bring on the nesting and the energy!

I was hesitant to tell my students about my pregnancy too early...but one of my cuties began to question what (and how much) I was eating each day at lunch because of my growing I decided to tell them after our field trip to the pumpkin patch.

They gasped and broke out into applause.  It was pretty special...and downright adorable.  I felt like I should stand up and bow.  They immediately began shouting out names.  They came up with "Sparky" and "Pumpkin" (which may have been due to the fact that we spent all day at the pumpkin patch and were eating pumpkin ice cream at the time).  In any case...we're going to keep thinking.  I'm not sold on either of those quite yet. ;)

In fact, now that I think about it....all of the names that they have come up with so far have been better suited for a dog rather than a child.  Maybe they think I am going to give birth to a golden retriever rather than a human. Hmmm.

Our classroom has been a busy place despite my exhaustion, I promise!  I will be back very soon with pictures.  My kiddos are making so much progress.  Our school is doing Action Based Learning labs in the morning and I really see it making a difference in some of my babies who struggle the most. 

Are you familiar with Action Based Learning?  It has a lot to do with brain research and crossing the midline. It's really fascinating to see and hear about the connection between some of these fine and gross motor skills and academic performance. 

To *try* to make up for my blogging absence...I'm going to throw a little sale in my TPT store...20% off everything!

And lastly, here is a fun Thanksgiving freebie to work on "adding two."  We are gearing up for a big unit on addition in my classroom!

Happy teaching to you!  It feels good to be back!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Teacher Week 2013: Tips & Tricks - Make a Fabric Bulletin Board from "scratch"

I'm back for a quick post on the last day of teacher week!
I've gotten a lot of questions about the fabric "bulletin boards" that were in my classroom pictures earlier this week.

 Example #1 - blue polka dotted board beside the Smartboard

Example #2- yellow chevron board above community supply shelf

Example #3 - hot pink board above (soon to be blue shelves) for math manipulatives

The truth is they are not bulletin boards at's just plain ol' fabric on my painted cinderblock walls.  So, I figured I'd go ahead and make that a quick trick to share.  I think I've finally mastered the easiest (and quickest) way to put fabric on the walls after several years of trial and error.
So, first things first.  You need to meet my hot, new BFF.
Here she is.
Isn't she beautiful?
This is a cordless glue gun.  I've borrowed one from one of my coworkers for going on 7 years now so I finally broke down at bought my own (at JoAnns).  It's fabulous.  You can use it for quite a while before putting it back on its base to heat up again.  I'm sure you could do this without a cordless gun but this makes it way easier.
I put up almost everything in my room with hot glue because it's the only thing that stays all year.  Most of the time it pops right off of the wall with no problems but every now and then you'll get a glob that doesn't want to come off without the paint. 
Soooo...I figured out a different way to hang things instead of putting the hot glue directly on the wall. 
Painter's tape!
Just put the tape wherever you want to hang something and the hot glue goes on the painter's tape.  If you need to take it down, you just peel the painter's tape off and there is absolutely no mess or damage!
You can also put painter's tape on whatever it is that you are hanging so that it won't be damaged if you want to take it down or move it but I didn't do that with my fabric because I figured by the time I wanted a change, I would be ready for new fabric.
The best part is this makes the whole process go super duper fast AND helps you get your fabric straight on the wall!
More tape and the fabric is on its way up!
*Notice the purple hot little bff can be kind of feisty sometimes.  We have somewhat of an unhealthy relationship.  She burns me.  I say bad things to her and then I forgive her and love her once more.  Sigh.*

If you need a little extra staying power for a larger board...this stuff works great and wipes off the wall with a Clorox wipe pretty easily.

 It works fine without anything except hot glue around the edges, though!

Then, you can put your border up the same way OR hot glue your border straight on the fabric.

Now you have a brand new bulletin board and less ugly cinderblock wall!
Please excuse the hot mess below the board.  It is going to be dealt with soon. ;)
Happy Friday!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Teacher Week: Taming the Wild!

I didn't get a chance to link up yesterday because vacation got in the way.  Sad story, right? :)

I'm back bright and early this morning, though, and I promise I do have some posts lined up to show you lots of instructional organization so just check back in the near future.  I am especially excited to show you my new organization for word study sorts!

But "taming the wild" day! Ha! Love it!  Classroom management is one of my favorite topics and (I think) one of my strengths.  I believe in setting high expectations for behavior and I find that my kiddos usually follow.  When everything is under control and everyone is being NICE...then we can have FUN and be silly!

Here are some of my tips and tricks for classroom management.  I usually keep a few things in place all year and just add in some others when we need something fresh and exciting...or when I find something on Pinterest that I have to try! ;)

Our guidance counselor is pretty much AWESOME and supports a school wide bucket filling program to go along with this book.
I seriously love this book.  I'm sure you've seen it...but if, by chance, you haven' is a MUST read!

Any time I want to reward the entire class for good choices and "bucket filling" behavior, I put marbles in their bucket. Our counselor takes care of awarding stars for full buckets and rewarding them in small ways.

I'm going to focus my post on what I do in the classroom.

First of all...I only have 3 rules in my classroom.  I can fit anything under one of these rules!

Check out this post to find our more about my rules and grab a free copy of them.

I pass out these tickets from Creative Teaching Press all day long for good behavior. Especially at the beginning of the year...ANYTHING positive gets a ticket.

And I mean anything.   The kids collect these tickets (cute container pictures to come!) and each week...if they have 10 tickets, they get to trade in their 10 tickets for one of these red tickets and they write their name on it and put it in our "raffle basket."

Each month, we do a big raffle drawing with the red tickets for prizes.  The prizes range anywhere from Dollar Tree junk treasures to "lunch bunch" and "bring a stuffed animal to school day" coupons to free books from Scholastic bonus points, etc.

I have just collected ideas from YOUR blogs and Pinterest for ideas that will work in my classroom for the drawings.  My kids' favorite things to win are things that don't cost me any "stinky feet" coupons where they get to take their shoes off all day in the classroom.  Works for me!

I think they key to this kind of classroom management system is to be very liberal with the tickets at first and make a HUGE deal about it when they are dispersed.  They really like earning tickets and keeping count of them. I keep some in my pocket to hand out, but I also have them loose in a basket near my desk so if I'm working with a small group and see one teeny tiny little sweet soul doing what they're supposed to be doing while the rest of the class acts like wild hyenas...I can very sweetly say "! Look at Austin sitting quietly and setting up his math game for his partner.  Austin...go get yourself a ticket.  THANK YOU!"

And I don't have to get up.  Which is good.

 I also LOVE the math that I hear going on as they collect them too.

"I have 6, so I need 4 more to make 10."


I know you're wondering...and YES, I do take the tickets occasionally for negative behaviors.

'Cause I'm a big fat meanie.

I don't take them often, but sometimes it's absolutely necessary...and sometimes I'm in a bad mood.  There. I said it.

The other thing I like about this kind of system is that their whole day isn't judged by where they are on a chart or what "color" they landed on at the end of the day.  That totally works for a lot of classrooms and I have been itching to make a cute clipchart and give it a whirl...but if it ain't broke...don't fix it...right?? And this works for me!

So what else can my little darlings do to earn tickets?

Wellllll....check out this post to get more info on "Mystery Walker" and "Secret Student" AND to get your free copy of these posters for your classroom.

Both of these ideas work basically the same way.  One is for hallway behavior and the other is for any ol' thing.  I've even used "secret student" for school assemblies and field trip.

You choose a student's name and don't tell anyone who it is.  You watch that person closely...and they only get their ticket if they did a PERFECT job on whatever task you were watching.  

And lastly, a NEW thing I'm trying this year are "quiet critters."  I'm sure you've seen a version of this on Pinterest, and I have no idea where the original source came from...but if you search for "quiet critters" on Pinterest you will find tons of ideas!  I can't stand constantly saying "Shhh" but sometimes it's important that my kids work silently...especially if I'm doing testing, etc. with another student.

Most of the pictures I've seen on Pinterest use little pom poms for critters...but I found these ADORABLE little plush monsters on Amazon that I am going to use.  Click the picture for the link.

I'm going to use these little monsters for times when the kids truly must be silent.  Everybody gets a quiet critter to start with, and if they make noise...bye bye monster.  Sad!

At the end of the activity, whoever has a monster left on their desk will get a ticket.

I will let you know how this works since this is new for me...if anyone else has tried does it work?

OK...beach time!

Happy Teacher Week!  Can't wait to read up and find some new ideas. :)