Friday, November 30, 2012

I will be organized!!

One of my MAJOR goals this year is to be more organized. I thought I was doing well with this goal when I first got my classroom. I purged A LOT of things then and again this past summer. However, I kept a bunch of miscellaneous, I might use this, items.  Whenever I have a few minutes I try to pick an area and do what I can to organize it. I had a bunch of comprehension cards hanging around and in a moment of sheer brilliance (they don't happen often, lol) I realized they would fit perfectly in greeting card boxes, YAY! (Now what to do with the greeting cards...)  

Anyway, this has worked very well and I can use them in reading groups or the kids can grab them to use during buddy reading. The cards pictured are included in my Roald Dahl unit but I will be making an additional set that is more generic and offering them in my TPT store as a FREEBIE :)

HOLY MOLY my photography skills are terrible! I can't even blame it on the camera, yikes!! Sorry about the blurry pictures!

Monday, November 26, 2012


TPT  (Teachers Pay Teachers) is having a huge CyberMonday sale (and bonus Tuesday.) Just enter the code CMT12 to receive your discount. Discounts of up to 28% are available so its the perfect time to stock up :)  After my chicklets go to bed I am going to be filling my cart, happy shopping!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


We are wrapping up a unit on the human body and I wanted to end with a super fun, hands on activity that my partner teacher told me about.  To learn the parts of an animal cell I had the kids first make one out of paper and later in the day they made a three dimensional cell using jello, baggies, celery and black olives. The kids responded very well to all cell activities, I will definitely be doing this again!
  We started by first discussing each of the parts- what they look like and what their job is. 
I used both pictures (above) and words (below) in our discussion and had the kids read along with me. This lent itself great to a discussion on labeling (its hard to see by my cell -the yellow blob- is numbered and the cell parts are also numbered accordingly.)  At this point I had the kids do a vocabulary matching paper. It matched vocabulary to devfinition. They were allowed to use the poster and any other resource they needed and I told them they would be doing the same paper later in the day as an assessment.

It didn't take long before the kids were ready to dive into their own cell creation.  We started off by drawing the cytoplasm on white-ish paper and cutting it out. 

 They then glued their cytoplasm on the cell wall and traced around that paper to make sure the membrane was visible and larger than the cytoplasm.

One they had their membrane drawn on the paper, they cut it out and glued the cytoplasm and membrane together.

The next step was to add the mitochondria, 

and then finally the nucleus. 

 After lunch, I showed them the jello, baggies, celery and black olives and had them guess what each one represented. They then came up to the table and grabbed a membrane (baggie), filled it with cytoplasm (jello), tossed in 4 or 5 mitochondria (celery) and one nucleus (black olive.)

They were so pleased with their creations. I took pictures of them holding their cells for their portfolios and their smiles were so sweet. We definitely ended the day on a wonderful note. It was a good reminder to me to do more hands on, kinesthetic learning.

Now came the final assessment time! They had been discussing the cell parts all day and what their responsibilities are so it came as no surprise that they all did very well on their final vocabulary match up.
It was a wonderful end to a wonderful (brief) week. 
Happy Thanksgiving!!! 


Monday, November 19, 2012

These are a few of my favorite things

Tis that time of year to start preparing Christmas lists and I always end up asking for things for my classroom. While thinking of things I would like to add to my classroom I thought I would share all of my favorites.
I ADORE these markers! They make the poster creation process a delight! I only have the set of 12 and am seriously hoping for an upgrade this Christmas.  Not that I make a habit of smelling markers, but they are deliciously aromatic. LOVE!

This is a fun comprehension game that comes with the CUTEST little brief case. This game promotes inferencing and using hints/clues to answer questions. Win!

I am not a big fan of worksheets and using these cubes has enhanced my reading groups greatly. I keep a binder of important information/forms with me for reading groups and keep track of comprehension as the students answer questions. The red cubes are for use prior to reading, blue are used during and green are used after reading. The kids like the change in pace these cubes provide and rolling them is just way too much fun.

I use these pens/markers all the time and I even have my students addicted to them. They are an amazing cross between a pen and marker. I love using them for correcting or adding color in small spaces where my Mr. Sketch markers would be too big. I had only ever seen them sold in smaller packs so seeing them as 12 was way too exciting for me to pass.

As I consider what to add to my list this year I would love to hear what your favorite classroom items are. What is it you just can't live without?? 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Frames and more frames

I have a third set of frames available on my TPT store :) These were a lot of fun to make! I didn't realize how easy it is to create clip art like this. I love how these frames add personality to worksheets and newsletters. I am done with frames for now and moving on to a winter writing unit I am SUPER excited about!!
Here's wishing you a peaceful teaching week!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Another give away :)

I have these cute frames for sale in my TPT store but will offer them free here for the first five people to comment. Be sure to leave your email address so I know where to send them! I love using these frames to snazz up student worksheets.

Happy Weekend!!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

My first attempt at clip art

Good morning bloggy friends. While recovering from a sinus infection, I have banished myself to the couch and wanted to try out my new sketch book app. While trying to create clip art I have tried out various methods: drawing, scanning, editing, drawing in an app, etc and finally found a great program (i.e. its easy for novices like me to understand).  I have basic knowledge of photo editing and after playing around for a bit I think I've got it. This cute little guy is free to you, I had to share him right away. (I am not patient enough to wait until I have made the whole monster family.) Comments are welcome! Its hard for me to judge if he/she is cute or if I am just blinded by my mama love for this guy, and perhaps delirious from my nasal issues, lol. My plan is to create the rest of this monster family after playing around a bit more with the program and taking any suggestions you would be kind enough to provide. Thanks as always :)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

30 Days of Thanks

My fourth graders have been having a blast with writing in November. In addition to the regular writing lesson, they have also been writing thank-you notes everyday. Each day I introduce a new way of writing a thank you. We started with the standard friendly letter, a card, and list, and then I asked them to draw a picture to give to someone they are thankful for. They were asked to use words and pictures in their thank you.  We have also written acrostic poems, stories and today we tried our hand at song writing.

I have been soooo impressed with their writing! They have been eating this up. When we wrote the acrostic poem they were running around the classroom tearing through dictionaries, checking their thesaurus, referring to posters in the room, and constantly checking in to make sure their words made sense. It was so exciting because sometimes writing can be a bit, well,  zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.  There was so much vocabulary usage, it was a very wonderful writing time. Writing the song was also a great experience. As they worked today I could hear tunes from all over the classroom as they tried out their new songs. This definitely wasn't for everyone and I got some funny looks when I asked them to write a song, but they tried it and some were impressed at how easy it was. 

Now that I have introduced each type of writing, and they have tried them all out, they are free to pick the ones they would like to use for the remainder of November. The kids have been delighted to receive  thank-you notes from their peers, and a few moms and dads got some very nice notes as well. Writing my thank-you notes has felt great, I love sneaking into rooms and leaving them for the recipient to find. 

Now, what to write about for December?!?!?

Thursday, November 8, 2012


I am new to the blogging world and am having a blast sharing my stories and ideas and I have also enjoyed reading other people's blogs. Tonight I created my first clip art. I have been looking for borders with white backgrounds and have had some trouble finding what I am looking for so I chatted up the computer technology teacher at my school and asked him how hard it was to turn drawings into clip art.  Turns out, its not that hard (if you have a scanner that doesn't have a meltdown half way through scanning, lol). I am so excited I can't contain myself and thats why these frames or borders (whatever they are called) are free to the first five people to comment on this here blog. Just leave your email address and I will get them to you :)  Happy Friday!

This is available at my TPT store and I can customize orders if there is anything specific you want :)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Every so often a lesson goes, well, perfectly. It doesn't happen everyday or even every week but it happened yesterday! I have been working with my fourth graders on multiplying two digit by one digit numbers for about a week. They first learned the distributive property and multiplied using expanded form, the area model and partial products. (Fourth grade brains have to work so hard!)

After a few days of this strategy they really had it and were ready to try something new. Onward we went to multiplying with regrouping (you know, the way we all learned when you multiply by the ones then the tens) and holy moly, they LOVED it and more importantly GOT it!!! YIPPEE! We have been multiplying up a storm. Today there was a bit of review and then busy, busy pencils!

I love that they have more than one strategy to rely on! If I had gone straight to regrouping I don't think they would have been so openminded to learning the area model and as a result would have missed out on using the distributive property.  Tomorrow we move on to multiplying three and four digit numbers by one digit. I am holding out hope that this goes as well :)

In the meantime, I am working on organizing my guided reading group "area" which is quite the embarrassment.  I have so many great tools but the way they are stored isn't working. Stay tuned for pictures of before (yikes) and after.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Daily schedule

When I got the good news that I would be hired for my current teaching position I was overwhelmed by all of the stuff in classroom. There was so much to go through and I had NO idea what I would need or use. In the spring I organized as best as I could to get the classroom ready for summer cleaning and when I came back in the fall I did what I could but needed to spend more time getting things ready for students. This year I have tried to spend more time organizing and that includes my daily schedule. I started off last year by writing the schedule on the board. That didn't last long because I can't stand to have the mess left behind after erasing and felt it necessary to clean the board every time I needed to change the schedule. I ended up making schedule cards that were boring black and white, laminated them, stuck magnetic buttons (love) on them, put them up on the board and called it good. It certainly took care of my erase mark problem, lol. However, some of my darlings like to help change the daily schedule and we have somehow lost Monday (who likes Mondays anyway, he he) so I needed to revamp the schedule, and calendar.

Here is what I came up with and I can't wait to put these up in my classroom. You can download them from my TPT store. I need to make the dreaded trip to Walmart to pick up some more magnetic buttons since I used the last of them on the name tags last week.  I also left some blank ones because something funky always comes up and I want to avoid having to write on the board where I keep the schedule.

Now to find a safe place for them... Last year I kept them in a container and the kids and I were always hunting for them but this year I have them all stuck on the board under where I keep the calendar/schedule.  I will get a picture of the old ones (ick) and the new ones :) this week. Hurray to the new and colorful cards!!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Reading with Roald Dahl

In fourth grade, I am responsible for doing two author studies, one of which is Roald Dahl. Exciting!! I am a big Roald Dahl fan and love how he combines fantasy and humor. The first time I read about whizzpopping from The BFG I  laughed hysterically and knew the kids would find it funny it as well (and boy was I right, lol). I did some searching and found lots of lesson ideas but not exactly what I was looking for. I have my kids split up into four reading groups and the books they are reading are Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, The Twits, and Esio Trot. During reading groups they were responsible for answering comprehension questions and reading aloud. I kept track of those two things using a table with their names and a space for each category. I used comprehension cards (love) with the students who were responsible for picking one card from the pile and competing the task or answering the question.

I ended up creating my own worksheets and lesson plans for the kids and was able to incorporate a lot of the writing and language standards from the Common Core State Standards. I really like connecting our reading and writing together and find less resistance from the students this way. 

You can find and download these lessons at my TPT store

I have also read aloud The Witches (which I got them all for Christmas from Scholastic Book Clubs for only $1) and The BFG. We are also working on Dirty Beasts which I give to groups that finish early. They work together to practice fluency and expression as well as look at sentence structure and word usage. I haven't found a book that the kids (and I) don't love. I am dragging my feet about moving on to something else in reading already!