Sunday, November 27, 2011

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

I'm beginning to panic. I have this feeling that the Christmas Season is just going to fly by and I'm not going to get in all that I want to do. I don't know why I'm feeling this way. I literally know how many days I have to teach before the holiday break, but I can't help this feeling of not having enough time.

I am just going to have to start planning RIGHT NOW and prioritize exactly all of the things that I want to do before my break begins. It seems like I had all of these high hopes for the last two holidays, and I really didn't get to do all of the activities that I planned for. This time, I'm not going to plan as many activities and choose to do things that I can get done with the time I have allotted.

I know what my biggest obstacle is: FUNDATIONS. 
Losing an hour everyday to phonics lessons is killing me. However, I can't do anything about it. Gotta do it. I just need more time!

Today, I went to my classroom (my usual Sunday routine.) I combed through my room trying to find all of my Christmas lessons, books, nick-nacks, and decorations. I found a lot, but I have a feeling there is still another box somewhere. Since I am VERY limited on wall and shelf space, one of my favorite ways to decorate my classroom for the holiday season is to go up!

I DO plan on removing those Thanksgiving charts and tree soon!

It doesn't look like much from this perspective, but you really feel the change when you are in the room. It makes the room feel a bit magical and definitely Christmassy.

I love it so much, I kinda wish my house had ceiling tiles (but not really!)

This is an easy way to decorate your room for the holidays. I purchased garland, cut them up, and attached a pipe cleaner to the end of it. I chose to add silver ball ornaments at the end of the silver garland to make them stand out. 

AND they are easy to store when it isn't the holiday season!
We always need more space to store things.


Now, on to something completely different.

I need some help. PLEASE make me feel better and tell me that I am normal!

Okay, here I go:
Our school collects Box Tops for Education to get money back into our classrooms. I send home those cute little pages provided by the company where the parents can affix the boxtops and send them back into me. Some parents are great about collecting these tops and usually send in more than the paper will hold and are enclosed in a sandwich baggie. This is awesome and really nice of them to do for our school.

Here's the crazy part: I will sit for about 8-10 minutes (each time) and cut these tops again so they are cut perfectly on the dotted lines.

I really don't consider myself a Type-A personality person OR a control freak, but I feel compelled to do this every time I get a baggie of Tops handed over to me. I even do it at home when my husband doesn't cut them perfectly!!!

This is what I need from SOMEONE out there in blog-world:
 Let me know that y'all do this, too!

Have a great night and I can't wait for tomorrow! Lots of great sales!!!!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Taking Some Thanks Back

Alrighty folks, I try not to project my snarky side too often, but it can get bad --- REAL BAD. Think Julia Sugarbaker (You know, 'Designing Women.' The TV show from the 80's. Please tell me I'm not aging myself right now!) Okay, for those of you that were born in the later 80's/90's, I'll think of someone you may know from 'Nick at Night' reruns: Claire Huxtable. When I get fired up, y'all better watch out!

So, when I saw that Jennifer, from First Grade Blue Skies, is hosting a Not Thankful Linky Party, I felt compelled to join in.

I'll keep the list to five. Don't want to depress people (or myself.)

1. Hearing and Not Listening
I can't stand it when people (or children) will act like they are listening to me, but then they open their mouth and all of this garbage comes out! Especially, when I'm giving directions. The directions have been told, modeled, practiced, and questioned and then someone will come up to me and ask what to do. Are you kidding me??

2. Not Returning Shopping Carts 
How truly difficult is it to return a shopping cart!!!! Target usually has shopping cart homes all over their parking lots. I am not thankful to hit a cart with my car door because someone couldn't walk the 30 feet it would take them to return it to its home!

3. Not Picking Up Your Feet When You Walk
I am not thankful to hear shuffling. It is SOOOOOO lazy! It sounds like a bunch of cavemen wearing their first ever pair of flip-flops. By the second week of school, my students know to pick up their feet around me. I can't stand it!

4. Washing Your Hands After You Use the Bathroom
If you are a man, please wash your hands after you use the restroom. Do you want to know why??? Because if you don't, my husband will tell me. Every single time Scott returns from a bathroom, he'll point out the guy who didn't wash his hands. Even when we are at a restaurant. Super Gross! I'm sick and tired of hearing about these disgusting men. Wash your hands dudes!

5. Using the Passing Lane ALL OF THE TIME
It's a passing lane people! You are suppose to use it when you intend on passing someone. Not for the entire length it takes you to get somewhere. Geez! And if I'm flashing my lights at you, get out of the passing lane. I need to PASS you.

Seriously, that's all that bugs me. I am thankful for everything else!
Please join in the fun, CLICK {HERE!}

Happy Turkey Day!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Giving Thanks

Well, I certainly have broken my Pattern Blogging habit ... By not blogging at ALL! Ha! I have no one to blame but myself. Most of the awesome activities we've done in the classroom have been ideas I stole from your wonderful blogs. So, I didn't feel they were blog-worthy since you have probably seen them to death. Or, maybe, I was just lazy. OR, maybe, I'm just resentful because I have to work today, tomorrow, and Wednesday. Which I totally am, by the way. Jealous and Resentful! Not that I don't LOVE teaching and my cuties. BUT you know we're all itching for a break right about now!
And wouldn't you know I had the "Fidelity Police" come pay me a visit today??!!

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I need to stop whining and start thinking about the true meaning of this holiday. I'm linking up with Rachelle and Natalie at What the Teacher Wants' "I'm Thankful" Linky Party.

Here we go:

1. What are you thankful for in your classroom?
I am thankful for a lot in my classroom. I'm thankful that it is large enough to fit my kiddos and them some. I thankful for a working bathroom and sink. I'm thankful for the door that connects me to my awesome teammate, Susan. I'm thankful for the bookshelves, cubbies, and other storage (because you know it is all full!) However, if I were to pick what I am MOST thankful for in my classroom, it would be without a doubt these two pieces of equipment

My document camera and my projector (they go hand and hand, of course.)
I use them both everyday, all of the time. I would cry huge, giant, crocodile tears if one of these two things was broken.

2. What person are you most thankful for?
One person??!! NO WAY! I cannot choose just one person. I won't do it, I just can't.

First, I am most thankful for my sweet husband, Scott. He is my everything. He makes me laugh, makes me cry, and I love growing and learning with him. (Even when we fail miserably. Hello, dead grass!) I want to go on adventures with him forever. He also gets mad crazy Bonus Husband Points because he is taking ballroom dancing lessons with me!!! Say what! What's even better? The dancing was his idea, not mine. Love this man!

Also, I am so thankful for my parents. They are the best. They hang out with us for dinners and visit my classroom all of the time. They support me in everything (even the silly things.) Plus, I know they will ALWAYS take care of me when I need them.

Can I add my sister, too? She's so awesome (even if she thinks I'm a huge dork!) Which she totally is, not me!

3. What 3 blogs are you most thankful for?
 The First Grade Parade was the first blog I discovered and read faithfully week after week. Cara is amazing! Her classroom is to die for, her lessons are too cute, and her love for everything is contagious!
 I wish I could be a student in Deanna's class. I bet her kiddos just love her to death. She is an inspiration and the teacher I want to be.
If you don't love Abby to pieces, then you are a crazy person! She is too funny and keeps it real! That is what I like about her the most. Her blog is full of great ideas and helpful teaching hints for every teacher young and old. Also, her TPT units are fabulous! My kids love all of the lessons I have taught that Abby has created.

4. What guilty pleasure are you most thankful for?
'Nuff said.

I LOVE candy!

5.What are you most thankful for?
I am most thankful for my health. Long story short, I have the potential to be very sick and I'm not. I have my family to thank for this. They have supported me and have helped to keep me well. Life is precious and short. I cherish all good, healthy days!

Now head on over to What the Teacher Wants, check out the other entries, and start one of your own!
Love to you all this Thanksgiving Week!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Pilgrim Venn Diagram

I've just diagnosed myself with a serious problem. I am going through {what I have cleverly penned} as "Pattern Blogging."

Here, I'll describe the symptoms: On Monday, I'm super pumped at reading and writing blog posts. On Tuesday, I'm still an eager beaver and I will read and {most likely} write blog posts. By Wednesday, I'm not writing any blog posts, but I'll read some. And then by Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, I'm so exhausted or have too much work to do that I barely look at my computer for pleasure reading and/or writing.

I really need to break this pattern. But how? Is it due to the time change? Maybe. Or maybe the teaching profession has just gotten REALLY TEDIOUS AND PAPERWORK heavy??? Huh, huh, huh? Do you think that could be the reason??

So, how does this change? Dunno?? But I really wish "in the classroom" educators were making these mandates as opposed to businessmen or politicians who aren't in the classroom and don't have a clue as to what best practices are!!

It's stuff like this that can really bring a girl down! I've said this a bunch of times: My days are not ruined by the kids, it's the ADULTS!

Ugh, ANYWAY! We did a have fun activity today. {Shh, don't tell anyone.} I had seen a few Venn Diagrams on the inter-webs for 'Kids Then and Now' and I really wanted to do this with my class. Thank goodness, April from ChalkTalk shared her print-ables for this exact activity!!! Woohoo

I made a few adjustments so that the kiddos would complete their own venn with a buddy before we did the large one together. It worked out great!

First, I paired the kids up and gave them a baggie full of phrases and one Venn Diagram.

Using my document camera, I showed the teams how to display all of the phrases on their papers, so that we could have a good look at each one.  I walked around and made sure no one had the phrases in a pile, upside down, or on the floor.

* Also, we noticed that it is really hard to pick the tiny phrases up with our fingers (Thanks a lot, Ms. Monroe!) One of my students showed us that it was easier to move the pieces with the eraser end of our pencils. {Goodie, someone took their smart pills this morning.} If you wanted to redo this activity, you could make it on a larger piece of paper and then it would be easier to move the phrases. But it really wasn't too bad.

Next, I would slide over one phrase and tell them to find that phrase. I would ask them to decide, with their buddies, which part of the venn diagram that phrase should go in. I would give them some time, walk around the room, and spy listen to their conversations. A few teams just guessed, however, most teams used their words and put a lot of thought into their choices. Plus, I know they were thrilled with me allowing them to talk!

We would go through this same procedure for each and every word phrase until all of the phrases were gone.

Afterwards, I told them to look over their final diagrams and make any changes.

Then, I revealed the correct answers using my Power Point Answer Key slide. We discussed the reasons why each phrase went in that certain spot and I gave them some time to fix their team venns.

When they fixed their venn diagrams, I went around and used long strips of tape and taped down their phrases. Most teams wanted to keep their venn diagram, so I am going to make a copy for them to take home tomorrow. {Aw, I'm sooooo nice.}

One teams completed venn diagram
Now, we all met on the rug and completed the large venn together. Do you think they remembered where each phrase went? Oh, yeah! Learning at work, people!

Okay, so drawing large circles is really hard!
I have a copy of the sheets I used for y'all to download. Rather than lock-it in Adobe, I kept it in the Power Point format so that you could change the phrases, clipart, or font if you wanted to. 
However, if you'd rather just have the one I used, e-mail me, and I'll send it your way.

Pilgrims Now and Then Venn Diagram

THANKS to everyone who reads my blog and cares to comment. I really appreciate it!!!

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pilgrim Writing

Boy, am I glad to be home! I have one little guy who has been off his meds for the past 5 days and I am exhausted. I know there is a lot of debate as to whether or not meds are the end all be all, but this kid NEEDS his meds. Plus, since he is out of sorts, it sets off some of my other guys who are normally under control. It's so sad because he is such a sweetie and he can't help his impulsiveness.

Anywhoo, I saw this writing activity on Cara's blog last year after Thanksgiving, and I was sooooo bummed we didn't get to do it. Not gonna happen this year, I tell ya! I made sure to do it this week before time ran out and I am glad I did. They are sooooo cute!

Here are my teacher models:


Here are some of my kid's finished products:

What I like about this activity is the students have to think about the differences between today and long ago before they write. I've had a few kids who were stuck and weren't sure what to write. Then, we had some really good discussions about pilgrim's lives and our own lives. They are thankful now!

Here are my tracers:
FYI: I had the boys use scrap yellow pieces for the buckle instead of making a tracer.

Pilgrim Tracers

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Shout Out!

Last week, Tammy at Live, Love, Laugh Everyday in Kindergarten shared a great *Freebie* that went with the story book, The Great Turkey Race.

I knew my kiddos would love this activity because they LOVE this book! It is one that never leaves the listening station all year long. Actually, they like Steve Metzger's other books just as much, too.

We listened to the story a-g-a-i-n, of course, because we couldn't miss out on another opportunity to listen to this one! And then we discussed all of the other places our turkeys could go.

Here's a few of their finished products:

I'll have to add Lilleigh's tomorrow when she finishes it. It is too funny!

The kids really enjoyed this response activity.
Thanks, Tammy!

Y'all better go and check it out!
Click {HERE}

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Currently {November}

It's a new month and it is time to link up with Farley from Oh' Boy 4th Grade.

The rules are simple:
Write down what you are currently -

So, here's mine ...

Stalking Links:

1. Teach it With Class, is written by Randi and she is awesome! Plus, she has an affinity for Pigeon and anyone who loves Pigeon is pretty cool in my book.

2. Pinterest, not a blog, but it is my go-to site right now. Seriously, the ideas are endless! I've pinned a lot and I've also made quite a few things I've pinned. Which makes me so proud of myself because I am finally entering the "crafty" world. Also, I've found a TON of Christmas ideas and I CAN'T wait to start marking some of those!!!!


So, I went to work in my classroom today. Fast forward five hours later and I am still bringing home work with me. What is up with that?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

My Little Trip

Oh boy, y'all! What an amazing 24 hours I just had! It all started with this letter I got in the mail a little over a week ago:

Woohoo, I won something!
This is kind of a long story, but I'll give you the shortened version. I entered a contest to win a free sleep-over trip to Busch Gardens through the Florida D.o.E and I didn't win. Sad :( Then, a couple of weeks later I received an e-mail that I HAD won. Oh Yeah!

Fast forward to yesterday and there I am on my way to Tampa with my sister {Kindergarten teacher, who also won the pass - thanks to moi!}

*A little background information about what I won. It is a Busch Gardens educational program for teachers and is held after the park closes at 6 pm and lasts until about 10 am.

When we arrived, we signed in, got our camp t-shirt, enjoyed a lovely dinner and socialized. On a Friday, after a long week of Halloween madness, this was a much needed break. Plus, teachers are the nicest people ever! We were sharing, laughing, commiserating, eating, and drinking from the second we arrived. Never a dull moment...


They offered us beer and wine. SO NICE!!

Kelly Seay, from the Florida DoE, she made this night happen!
So, here's a little view of our adventure!

We met some cool new animal friends:
Carlos the 2 toed sloth

I was right next to her - SO AMAZING!
Rescued Owl

Cutie pie Serval

Our sleep mates: the tigers

We learned about some cool lessons for the classroom:


Echo location

Create an animal

Then, we spent the night at the Tiger Lodge. FYI - Tigers in captivity don't need to conserve a lot of energy, which means that they pace A LOT!

We were all jammed packed together in the Tiger Lounge.

If you are a light sleeper (like me) you won't get a lot of shut-eye here. I think I got about 4 hours of sleep last night. I woke up around 4:30am and I just couldn't get back to sleep!

SAFARI - First thing in the A.M.

We went out on safari in these trucks. Very rocky!!

I learned that zebras are jerks. Now I can tell my kiddos to stop being a zebra!

Ostrich and Rhinos

And then there were the GIRAFFES!!!!!

The following pictures are extreme close-ups because giraffes were that close to us!

The giraffe is a two year-old boy named Captain. He was so sweet and very hungry! I bet the smile on my face was huge. I was feeding and petting him for what seemed like forever. This was the best ever!

After the safari, we had a yummy breakfast, listened to our sponsors, and ended the event with a few words from our State Educational Commissioner. Wow, I didn't expect all of this! Thanks Kelly Seay and Busch Gardens!!
Gerard Robinson and two big teacher nerds!
The lesson of this blog post: Check your state DoE's website for giveaways, don't forget to enter, and it doesn't hurt to ask for something!

Changing gears, I'm a proud auntie.
Here's a picture of my cutie-pie niece, Molly, and her trainer's horse Bindi tebowing. Yep, that's a verb folks!
Molly and Bindi
Check it out {here}

Happy Saturday!