March 2012Tales from Outside the Classroom: March 2012

Page Backgrounds and my Giveaway

Happy Saturday!!  I spent this morning working at our Easter Egg Hunt with the local nonprofit I'm involved in. It's one of my favorite projects we do each year.  I used to love egg hunts as a kid and I love seeing how happy and excited all of the kids are.  It was a bit cold and the grass was wet so my feet ended up soaked.  I've been sitting under the covers for the last hour or so trying to get warm.  It hasn't worked yet.

As I have been sitting here on my computer I decided to share my page background frames with you.  Now, I am totally not a graphic designer.  I will never be someone who sells clip art and such.  But, I do usually make my own backgrounds for my cover pages for the items I sell.  I thought I'd share them with you to see what you think.  You can download the picture and save it just by right clicking on it.  Easy peasy.  Please let me know if you like them and you'd like me to share some more.  Pretty please.  With a cherry on top.

And one last call for our blog hop and giveaway.  Tomorrow is the last day to enter.  All you have to do is follow my blog and TpT store for one entry on each blog.  For each additional blog & store you follow, you can earn an additional entry on each blog.  Click on the image below to head to the original post to enter.

Spring break is almost over.  I'm supposed to spend today cleaning and doing laundry.  It's almost 2 pm.  I'm not so sure it's going to happen.  

Math Fact Wheels

Spring break is almost over!  I have barely done anything around the house and that was my big plan for spring break.  I just can't seem to find the motivation.  Everything else is so much more fun!!  Like creating these math wheel centers!

And to thank you all for following me, I am giving a few of them away for free!  There are two of each skill so it meets the needs of nearly every elementary classroom.  Click here to download your freebies!  Make sure to go into the settings to download the pdf.  Google Docs make the backgrounds a bit wonky.
Click on any of the pictures to head to my TpT store to download them.  They're $4 a set.!

I'm linking up at Laura Candler's Super Math Centers Link Up.  Check out other great math centers.

Woo Hoo Wednseday!

Welcome to my second edition of Woo Hoo Wednesday!  This is a special one because I'm on spring break (at home) and am excited about that in general.

  • Woo hoo!  I was best seller #76 on the TpT top 100 list last week.  Thank you to all of you for that!
  • Woo hoo!  It's spring like weather again today!
  • Woo hoo!  Lots of you have signed up to win in our blog hop and giveaway.  If you missed it, check it out here.
  • Woo hoo! I created a newsletter.  Does anyone want to subscribe to it?  It's in the sidebar or you can sign up here.
  • Woo hoo! I got a 30% off coupon from Kohl's on my catalog.  They have a 50% off sale going on today too.  Looks like I get to do a bit of spring shopping!!
  • Woo hoo for you!  I'm having a 15% off sale in both my TpT and TN stores.  Click on the links to head over and pick up the few things you've been waiting for.
Have a fantastic day!

Guided Reading and my Newsletter!

First things first.  (Is that even how you write that?  I'm not sure I've ever actually seen it in print)  I decided to take the plunge and create my own newsletter.  My plan is for it to come out monthly.  It will feature some of my products.  More importantly, I want it to contain some very specific tips I've used in my classroom or seen used by great teachers.  I will also include a freebie that's exclusive for subscribers.  You can sign up here.  It will also always be in my sidebar.

Speaking of exclusive freebies, did you know that I offer exclusive freebies for my Facebook followers?  I have a photos folder that's called Free Items.  A picture of the item is in there with the direct download link.  If you aren't following me yet, head over to grab some freebies!

My Common Core math standards review packets have been crazy popular.  I've had a couple people ask if I was going to do E/LA ones.  I've tossed this idea back and forth for a few weeks. I'd love to get some feedback from all of you.  I was thinking if I made them, it would include some grammar, revising sentences, and maybe phonics.  Maybe.  I was thinking though that there are already so many DLR and DOL books out there that there wouldn't be a need for something like this.  What do you think?  Would you like to see me make something?  What would you like to see in it?

And now for the goodies.  I posted the Guided Reading observation form we use a while back.  We make lesson plans and store them on index cards so each teacher can share them.  This form is for us to record specific things we notice as we are working with each child.  It helps when you are trying to identify specific skills to work on with students.  Click on the picture to head to that post.
The hardest part for me with Guided Reading has always been the scheduling.  I still want to meet with my high kids at least twice a week.  Sometimes I settle for once, but I'm definitely not one of those people who don't plan to meet with that group at all.  But it always seems as if as soon as I get it all figured out and everyone gets comfortable, I have a few kids who are ready to move to different groups and I end up with a new number of groups and it throws everything off.  And then I spend a half hour every. single. time. trying to figure out how to make everything work.  I decided to create a reference file that I can use when I reach that point that I need to restructure everything again.  There are 5 different charts.  There are charts with 3 and 4 different time slots, and 4-6 groups.  I hope you find it helpful!  Let me know if there's a different arrangement you'd like seen and I'll add it in.  Click on any of the pictures to download the file.  I also have it in my TpT and TN stores as well.

Have a fantastic day!

Weather and Giveaways Galore {closed}

Our kinders are beginning their Weather unit when we come back from Spring Break.  As we were planning, their teachers asked me to create a journal where they record what the temperature was each day, write a sentence about the weather, and draw a picture to show what it looks like.  I love the way it turned out!  Click on the picture to download this individual one for free.

It's also part of a larger, updated unit.
There are 4 different journals: Butterfly, Ladybug, Plants, and Weather.  This covers the topics we cover in science this spring.  Each journal is formatted the same: date, place to record (life cycle, temperature, or measurement{US or metric}), space for writing, and space for a picture.

Each journal also comes with a scaffolded writing set.  The scaffolded writing is set up so you can differentiate by student need, or so you can build into paragraph writing.  The pages range from sentence starters {First, my plant}, just transition words {First,}, just broken up into fourths, and then a paragraph.  This set is great for building students into paragraph writing.  It's also a great piece that can be displayed for teachers, parents, and administrators because they will be shocked by your students' writing.

Just click the picture below to head to my TpT store to check it out.  It's in my TN shop as well.

I'm a member of a great group of relatively new bloggers who decided to come together for a great giveaway. But giveaways are more fun if they have a little twist. So, we've also made this one a blog hop. Each blogger will be running the same giveaway on their blog. So after you enter here, head on over to each of the other blogs and comment to enter there as well! 

Here's what you'll win:
1. From me: Captain Cool, which practices addition and subtraction in function machines.

2. Ms. Fultz’s Corner: Egg-citing Math Bundle, which practices addition, subtraction, and multiplication.

3. All that Glitters in First Grade: Shape Fun, which practices the basic shapes circle, hexagon, octagon, oval, pentagon, rectangle, square, and triangle.

4. Ms. McDonald’s Fourth Grade: Decimal War, which practices decimals from tenths, hundredths, thousandths, and mixed decimals.

5. Young and Lively Kindergarten: Growing in a Spring Kinder-Garden Learning Center Games, which practice beginning sounds, color words, rhyming, number words 0-14, counting 1-20, real/nonsense words, reading CVC words,punctuation, & Time to the Hour.
Here's how you enter to win:
3. Follow All That Glitters in First Grade's blog and TpT store. {1 entry}
4. Follow Mrs. McDonald's blog and TpT store. {1 entry}
5. Follow Young and Lively in Kindergarten's blog and TpT store. {1 entry}

Leave me a comment with your email address for each one of the 5 possibilities above.  This means you can get up to five entries here and up to five entries each by commenting on the other blogs as well. That's 25 chances so go get yourself entered to win! Entries will end on Sunday, April 1st at noon CST. Winners for each blog will be announced that night.
Other Easter Blog Hunt Pages:

All That Glitters in First Grade

Young and Lively Kindergarten
FultzCorner Button
(Whew, did you make it all the way down here?!?)  Finally, I have items in giveaways in two other blogs.  If you haven't entered, hurry!  First, is Jeannie at Kindergarten Lifestyle.  Second, is Karla at Life in Special Education.  

Happy Saturday!

First, I'm on Spring Break!  Yahoo!!  I have so much planned to do in the next 9 days.  I really think I should make a list so I can cross everything off as I do it.  Chances are, I won't even get half of what I want done.  That's usually what happens.

Second, I went and saw The Hunger Games last night.  I haven't read the books yet.  I've wanted to, and I own them, but I just haven't taken the time.  I want that to be a goal for spring break but I'm a little afraid that's all I'll want to do and I'll spend 3 of my days reading the books.  So, maybe towards the end I'll let myself start.  Also, for any of you that haven't read it yet either: I completely followed the movie even though I hadn't read it. There was only one thing I was uncertain of, a symbol a character made, but you could figure out enough to know what was going on.  I thought the movie was great and highly recommend it.  With that said, it was pretty violent and I wouldn't recommend it for youngsters.

Third, have you entered the giveaway I'm in at Life in Special Education yet?  You have until Wednesday to enter.

Last, I just posted a Easter themed CVC game freebie for my Facebook followers.  I also posted a status that tells you how you can get a personalized version of the game for your students practicing a phonics or math skill.  Click on the picture of the game to head to my Facebook page to download the game board, or to let me know what skill you would like me to create a game for.  Hurry, though, I'm only taking information until tomorrow, 3/25!

Woo Hoo Wednesday

I know that themed posts are popular so I thought I'd try it out.  Please let me know what you think!

I think we all need to stop and recognize our happiness and successes every once in a while.  Too often we get brought down with everything going on.  I am completely guilty of this!  So I thought I'd start Woo Hoo Wednesdays.  I promise you it won't be every single Wednesday.  I'm not that organized and I'm just too busy.  But I'll try to do it often!  Each post will be celebrating little things with all of you.  And I hope you all comment and celebrate your happiness too!

  • Woo Hoo!  Spring Break is next week!!!
  • Woo Hoo!  We've had seven days in a row above 80.  In March.  Seriously.
  • Woo Hoo!  Our first major round of testing is over.
  • Woo Hoo!  I'm participating in a giveaway.  Head on over to Life in Special Education to enter.  You already have a headstart if you're already following me!

2nd Grade Common Core Math Standards

Oh. My. Goodness.

Friday night I uploaded and blogged about  my K/1 Common Core Math pack.  I made it for my kindergarten team based on feedback from them, and didn't really think many people would want it since it spanned two grades.  I was wrong. Just plain wrong.  I got lots of great, positive feedback both here and in my TpT store.  And then I had requests for a second grade common core math review pack.  I said I would oblige, but it would need to wait until spring break.  Who am I kidding?!?  People are asking!  So, of course I put off the laundry and the cleaning to get it done.  Plus, making it was so much more fun than cleaning would ever be!

I uploaded the full file and a 4 page sample in my TpT store. Teacher's Notebook decided it didn't want to work so I'll get to that at another time. If you want to download the full thing you can do it here. If you want to download the free pages to try it out in your classroom, you can do it here.

Should I keep working on a few more grades?  Someone said they'd like 3rd and so I may do that.  I only work K-3 so I would have completely spanned it by then.  Are you interested in having something similar for E/LA?

As I was working on this today, someone mentioned to me that North Carolina has unpacked the standards.  I wasn't sure what she meant but I Googled it.  I've found some awesome stuff on North Carolina's site before and this just makes it even better.  Check out this site for everything Common Core. It's awesome.  I've always said I'm going to move to North Carolina and I think this just made that fantasy worse.  Keep in mind that I've never been there so I really have just built these fantasies in my head.  Well, and Mr. Nicholas Sparks does a pretty good job of convincing me that I should go as well.

Ah, well, I'm off to dream about North Carolina....

Dolch Easter Egg Sight Words

This post was a little bit early for Easter but I got a ton of positive feedback and saw pictures all over Pinterest.  As teachers, I'm sure many of you are OCD plan-aheaders like me :) so you were just fine with getting these Easter pages early.

If you missed downloading them click on the pictures to head to that post to get your free copy.  
When I created those, I used the word list our kindergarten students follow and I thought it might not align the best with all of you.  So, I decided to create another one.  This one follows the Dolch primer word list. 

You can get these from my TpT store for free.

I hope you enjoy these quick little freebies :)

Math Warm Ups

I spent my evening getting my math warm up packet blog ready.  Meanwhile, I had an eye and ear on college basketball on the t.v. Lehigh just beat Duke.  Duke.  Duke, who beat my beloved Butler Bulldogs two years ago.  Duke, who has never lost in the first round of the tournament. (I'm sure that fact is not correct) Duke.  I'm all kinds of excited.  A teeny tiny team beat the big guy.  The big guy that happens to be Duke.  They stomped on their toes and stuck their tongue out beat them.  Go Lehigh!

This math warm up pack was created for my kindergarteners.  They do both the K and 1 standards each year. We're full day and have a long day and it just works for us.  So, this packet is a review of standards from both grades.  I realize that may not work for everyone, but it's what works for us and I thought I'd share it anyway.  I also did something a bit different with it.  I created a free sample with 4 of the pages as a separate item.  I think more people could find it this way, and it may make it easier for you to try it out and see if you like it.  Let me know what you think about having the items set up this way.  Feel free to comment on this post, and thanks!

You can download the free sample pack that includes the files shown above plus one more in my TpT and TN stores as well. Click here to get it your freebie file!

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The 40 page pack is available for $5 in my TpT and TN stores.

I'm one tired cookie.  I wanted to get this posted tonight so I stayed awake, but I think it's time to hit the hay.  I'm so glad it's the weekend and I get to sleep in tomorrow!

Lalalas, Math review, and a Giveaway

This is my favorite time of year.  Why?  Well, because I get to destroy my teachers' rooms.  Bahahaha!!!

I love my kindergarten team.  They are creative and do amazing things with their students.  Last year, I loved that they had leprechauns (except you can't say that word or they come out) come visit and wreak some havoc on their rooms.  They did things like hide everything green, leave them little treats like pencils, leave green footprints everywhere.  They also destroy the room.  Chairs are flipped over.  There's stuff everywhere.  And their teacher has been with them the whole time so they finally know it couldn't be their teacher doing all of those things.  So, I couldn't wait when I got to play leprechaun all over again this year!  Yesterday when the classes were on a hike, I paid them a visit.

Did you see the mistake?  I just now saw that.  Whoops!
My first grade team is going to be keeping the tradition going (love them too!).  It looks like I may get to play leprechaun again!

I've been working on a math review packet for kindergarten or first grade.  Our kindergarteners finish their standards so early in the year that we go through the first grade standards as well.  However, we've also found that their little minds tend to forget things if we just leave them go.  This packet will be a review of all of the things we've taught so far this year.  Here's a free preview for you.  The cute ladybugs are from Graphics from the Pond.  It's a picture but you can download it and save or print it.  Let me know if you have any troubles with it.  The math review packet will be coming out very soon- with more freebies I'm sure! :)

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Finally, have you heard about the HUGE giveaway over at Crisscross Applesauce in First Grade?  She's got a new blog layout and decided to throw a giveaway partnering with tons of awesome bloggers. Click on her badge to head on over and enter for yourself.

New sites

Lately I've been sharing with you a few sites that I contribute on.  A while back I shared Classroom Freebies Too which is absolutely fabulous because everything is free!  Yesterday, I shared The Lesson Cloud.  Today, I'll share Simply Centers.  I love this site because I love anything centers.  I think centers, no matter how you structure them, are a fabulous way to free you up to be able to meet with students from all levels.  You should also check out my Centers and Small Groups Pinterest board.  It's a collaborative board so lots of centers ideas are posted on it.  Make sure you follow it (and me!) while you are there!

Finally, Jenn at Best Practices 4 Teaching opened up her blog for me to guest post today.  I loved having the opportunity to share my ramblings with other people.  Check it out here and feel free to browse around her blog and follower her as well.

Have a fantastic day!

St. Patrick's Day Magic E and The Lesson Cloud

Are you a little sluggish this morning with the time change? I am! I have been trying to convince myself I need to start cleaning my house but I just can't seem to quite make it off the couch. I promise I'm going to do it as soon as I make this post. Er, well, shortly after I make this post. :) I've had a few people ask how they can get started on TpT. It's really quite simple. You can just change your buyers account to a sellers and upload your first product. I promise that it's addicting! But I think it's a great hobby to have. Here are links that you can use to sign up to TpT or TN if you'd like to get referred through me.

Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th - Balanced Literacy, Reading, Math -

I am staying in the St. Patrick's Day spirit but have moved onto some word work.  This game can be played in centers or at anytime throughout the day.  It can be played in partners or with small groups of students.  All you need to play are counters and dice. Easy peasy! It works on Magic E words (note: I didn't include any digraphs or blends.  It's truly CVCE).  I've also included a recording sheet if you'd like your students to also write the words.
Click on the picture to head to my TN shop to download your copy for free.

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While you're there, take a look around my TN shop.  I tend to not always post the same thing in the same place.  Sometimes it takes too much time for me to post in both TN and TpT so sometimes I just post in one.  TN is a lot quicker and easier to post in so I tend to do that sometimes.

Finally, do you know The Lesson Cloud?  It's a great collaborative blog that has 100 different authors.  I'm a new collaborator on there.  Check out my post from Friday on subtraction.  The Lesson Cloud is going green this week.  You'll find a lot of green themed posts.  Stop by and check it out.

Have a fantastic Sunday!!!