Tuesday, November 22, 2016

20 Questions

In my very spare time, I really enjoy scrapbooking. It's not something I get to do often enough. I go on a retreat twice a year... and that's about as much time as I get. Other than the Project Life app on my phone. I am trying out the digital Project 365 (366 this year) format this year and am hoping that by the time the year is done Becky Higgins will be printing bound books directly from the app. That's my hope!
A few years ago I created "20 Questions" books for my girls. I can't find the original source, but this certainly was not my original idea. I typed up 20 questions and used an 8x8 album. I prepared 10 years worth of questions for my girls, for ages 3-13. 
Now each year around their birthday, we sit down and I write down their answers. Now that my oldest daughter is old enough to write her own answers, she takes great pride in writing out her answers.
I then have an 8x8 inch photo printed at Costco and insert it on the left side of the album across from her answers for this year. Costco seems to have the best prices, and an 8x8 is only $1.79 each.
My girls look forward to filling out their questions each year. They also LOVE going back and reading what they wrote when they were younger. 
You think you will remember these things when your children are young.... but you won't! Why not document your kids favorites year after year? If you'd like to try out a 20 Questions book for your little one, here's a free printable you can use. You can simply print the PDF format to use the same questions I did, or you can edit the questions in Power Point. 
I created these books a few years ago and couldn't find the original document for you, so I've made a new one with a title page.
Have fun! You won't regret starting this with your kiddos!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Monday Made It- August 1st

What?!? August 1st? How the heck did that happen? I am not ready for August yet. We only have two weeks before school starts again and I am so not ready.
Today I'm linking up with Tara over at 4th Grade Frolics for Monday Made It! I always love checking out all the creative things people are making/doing for their classrooms.

  I'm seeing all these fun teacher planners out there and loving them! I checked out ordering some stickers for my new planner and they just didn't fit my needs. I needed more of this and less of that. So.... I stretched myself and figured out how to create my own! Oh I am one happy girl now with a happy planner! I did some online research on how to print, scan and then cut out the stickers. I wasn't about to hand cut all of these cute stickers! No way. So after a few attempts I figured out those sweet little kiss cuts and offset lines and I've got my very own custom planner stickers! Whoop!

I shared them on Instagram and by request, I've added them to my TpT store! If you are looking for custom made planner stickers that match your district's calendar and needs exactly, then these are for you! AND they are on sale right now with the big TpT sale! You can check them out here.


I am excited to say that I finally finished my curriculum development class last week! Yahoo! I focused on sight word development for my deaf/hard of hearing students. 


For extra enrichment, I made a new sight word game crate! I took all of these ideas I found on Pinterest and made 20 sight word games for my students to play this next school year. We focus a lot on sight words, so I know my kiddos will love these activities. 

In order to incorporate some more hands-on sight word activities, I plan on playing a sight word game at least twice a week. To make it more exciting, I made some craft sticks with all of the sight word activities.  We'll randomly pull a stick to choose the game. 
If you'd like to make your own sight word game crate/box.... here's a little freebie for you. Grab your own sight word game sticks here. 
All of the ideas for my game crate came from these awesome pins here on my Sight Word board on Pinterest.
Have a great week everyone! 

Friday, July 29, 2016

Minds Under Construction

This was year number two that I taught summer school and once again, it flew by so fast! I just love the half days and the fact that I get to make my own schedule. I don't have to worry about kids coming and going from mainstream. Everyone is there at the same time and we can just do our thing. It was easy peasy! Here's a few highlights from our summer school program.

We did a construction/STEM theme this summer for some fun hands-on learning. The kids loved using their own imagination and creativity to build everyday. I set up 16 STEM tasks and each day they picked a different box to build with. I snapped a photo each day and then they would write about their building creation the next day in their STEM journal. (Which I forgot to get a photo of.) I had them writing and they didn't even realize it! =)
For literature we focused on Iggy Peck the Architect. We had a lot of fun with this story. The kids thought it was hilarious. Our second book was Rosie Revere the Engineer. They love it just as much! Many of our summary skills and vocabulary revolved around these two books for the summer.
When the day is full of activities the day just flies by! Our last hour always flew by with our centers time. I set up 8 different centers and the students rotated three times for 20 minute centers. By the end of the week they had visited each center and been to small group with me. Engagement is the key and keeping them busy! Due to the large range of kiddos I have (from kindergarten to sixth grade), I had to put out several different centers that would hit everyone's needs. That's always fun finding materials to reach everyone!


So in order to really target those sight words for the kindergarten students I created these Construction Sight Word centers to get us through the summer. If you're interested in four different construction themed centers, you can find them here in my TpT store

For art, we made some Lego blue print stamp painting. I collected various size Legos from my daughter's stash and the students just dipped the bottom sides into the paint and stamped them on the construction paper. I hung up their art work for a cute display during summer school. Then at the end of summer school I used their Lego art as a folder to send home all of their work from summer school. 

While learning about architects, I had one of our teacher's husband come in and talk to the students about his job as a construction estimator.  He brought in actual blue prints and tools for the students to check out. He was so awesome with the students and they had a million questions for him.

During summer school we're not supposed to take any field trips. It's a pretty lame rule... but it was made due to those that just want to walk up to 7-11 every Friday to kill time. Well, I was able to write up a proposal and show the educational benefit of our field trip and it was approved! So during our third week of summer school we went to Home Depot. The staff was fabulous! They arranged a tour with their mascot Homer so the kids could see each section of the store. We saw everything from how they mix the paint to cutting a key. The kids were so into it! Homer gave them each a flag and a goodie bag.

Then we went back into their training room and they each got to make one of their Builder's Workshop kits. (You know you can take your own kiddos to Home Depot the first Saturday of the month? They put on a kids Builder's Workshop for free.) The students made a little Ice Age 2 bowling game. They were in heaven! That morning one of students were shocked that they were actually going to *use* a hammer all on their own. She was so proud of her creation!

So, overall we had a great hands-on summer of learning! The students were rarely absent... which tells me they enjoyed it as well!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Summer Survival Bag Giveaway

Summer is in full swing. Ahhh. I am loving it! Lazy mornings. No schedule. Time to relax and recharge. To celebrate summer, I am teaming up with a group of bloggers to bring you this adorable Thirty-One bag and a few summer goodies! Enter to win below.


Prize: Thirty-One Summer Survival Bag (Thirty-One bag, sunscreen, flip-flops, beach towel, and cup TOTAL VALUE - $70)

Co-hosts:  Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher), 

Rules: Use the Rafflecopter below to enter. Giveaway ends 7/28/16 and is open worldwide.

Are you a Teacher Blogger or Teachers pay Teachers seller who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your store and social media?  Click here to find out how you can join our totally awesome group of bloggers!

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

End of the Year Camping Theme

Even though it's summer time, I've got some catching up to do here on the blog with all of the activities we did at the end of the school year. So file these ideas away for next year. 
During the last week of school we had a different theme each day. Yes, it was a lot of work for me. But it was so worth it! The days flew by and the kids were engaged and having fun the entire time. 
Typically the last week of school seriously drags.  Not this year! My kids were shocked to walk into the classroom and find the desks and tables were missing. In their place was a tent, camping chairs and even a little camp fire. Camp Read-a-Lot was ready to go!
 I made up some little 'Adventure Passes' for the students. They had to complete all six centers in the morning in order to make s'mores in the afternoon. Talk about motivation!  I used this free set of camping clip art to label our buckets and to make the adventure passes.
 I downloaded the center activities here and they were perfect for my kiddos. I also found some little freebies here and here that we used. I quickly prepped the centers and our whole morning was filled with learning and kept everyone busy. Well worth the work during that tiring last week of school!

Before lunch we turned out the lights and read by flashlight. The kids got a kick out of that. My classroom does not get very dark, but we made the most of it.

In the afternoon we were ready for a little treat. We used this sequencing and writing freebie to talk about how to make s'mores. We went step by step using the graphic organizer to build a s'more. Each of the students made their own (in the microwave) and it was just like we were in the great outdoors. After enjoying their s'more, they wrote their "How to make a s'more" paragraphs and made the little craftivity that went with it. Perfect end of the day activity!

This theme day is for sure a 'keeper' for next year! The students had so much fun and didn't even realize they were learning right up until the end of the school year!


Monday, July 4, 2016

Monday Made It- July 4th Edition

Hey! Hey! It's summer time!
Well.... for me summer school is still in full swing and I have not official started my summer quite yet. But it's coming very soon. I cannot wait!
Today I'm linking up with Tara over at 4th Grade Frolics for my first Monday Made It of the summer!
 I found a little down time this weekend to make our Summer Bucket List board. 
First off, I found a frame at the Goodwill. I took out the glass, spray painted it black and added some mesh chicken wire to the back. Then I realized our tiny clothes pins were not going to fit in the mesh, so I tied on some bakers twine in order to clip on our cards.

 My girls and I sat down and thought about all the things we'd like to do this summer. They wrote on some Project Life tropical theme cards that I found on clearance at Joann's. My girls are 8 & 6 and I adore their little kid writing. I started to write on the cards as they dictated, but heck, why not have them write them out!?! I added the date that we completed that event at the bottom of the card. I think at the end of the summer I might make a little summer album with pictures and these cards. Super cute!

We clipped them onto the bakers twine. We didn't even have enough space for all the things they'd like to do! Apparently our summer is going to be pretty darn full!
I have been pretty busy working on my Curriculum Development class for some extra units this summer. No rest I tell you! So I'll share a few things I've done for my class.
I am working on putting together a sight word curriculum for my little guys moving up to my class. All of my students are deaf/hard of hearing so we don't spend very much time on phonics. =) It's all about sight words in my class. 

 I'm using Lavinia Pop's sight word readers, flip books, homework, and writing centers to create weekly sight word activities. I've paired them with nonfiction readers from Scholastic to also do some interactive reading. I was able to get all of my lesson plans done and submitted for my class. Boom. Done.

I found some ready to print Read Every Day homework folder printables here. I've got my envelopes prepped and ready to go for the new school year along with my parent letter. Check that off the to-do list.
Happy 4th of July everyone! I'm off to spend it with my family!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Win a $75 TpT Giftcard!

 Ekk! I am super excited to be apart of this huge giveaway! Who doesn't want $75 to spend on all those Back to School goodies you know you're going to need for your classroom next year? Okay, okay. Some of us aren't even done with the school year yet. But you know you're already thinking about next year. Who couldn't use some extra money to pay for all those goodies just waiting on your wish list!?! Well, now is your chance! 

Check out all these awesome bloggers who are bringing you this big prize! All you have to do is enter below! Easy peasy.

Prize: $75 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card
Giveaway organized by: An Apple for the Teacher
Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter.  Giveaway ends 6/13/16 and is open worldwide.
Are you a blogger who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your blog?  Click here to find out how you can join a totally awesome group of bloggers!

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Good luck! I hope you're the lucky winner!

Monday, May 23, 2016

You Rocked the Test Celebration

Back in the fall, I threw a little "You Rocked the Test" celebration for the teachers at my daughter's school. You see, this was the first year that the SBAC test scores were released in the state of California. It turns out that my daughter's school had the highest test scores in the district. This is a pretty big deal. It's a complete underdog story. My girls go to an amazing school with staff that are dedicated to helping their students succeed. It's not even our "home" school. I purposely chose this elementary school knowing that the staff there really "get it". Sure, they could go to the school I teach at, or their home school, but I truly believe the school they attend has an amazing culture where kids really do come first.  It happens to be a Title I school with the highest percent of EL and special ed in the entire district. But their years of looking at learning in a different way with RtI and addressing all learners seriously paid off!

When I found this out, I just knew that the PTA needed to celebrate all of the staff and their hard work! Finally all the work truly paid off and now everyone knew what ROCKSTAR teachers work at this school! I made invitiations and put them in all of the teachers/staff boxes inviting them to the celebration breakfast. 

I went to every thrift store in town looking for vinyl records.  I scored at the Goodwill with sets of 4-6 in one box for 50 cents! I bought a red/aqua digital paper pack and printed all the papers with my new HP Instaink. I cut out tons of circles with my circle cutter to cover up the middle of the records. My patient husband drilled holes into all of the records so I could hang them from the ceiling with fishing line.

For centerpieces, I cut out stars on the Silhouette machine.  I wrote all of the teacher/staff names on each of the stars that were glued onto wooden skewers. 

 I also made a Congratulations and You Rocked the Test banners to hang. 

 For the table runner, I used mesh wreath fabric to run down the center of the table. I added single records all the way down the table with a disco ball I also found at Goodwill.

For the food table, I typed up a note for the teachers/staff thanking them. I also found some old candle stick holders that I spray painted black and hot glued records to the top. The PTA provided bagels, coffee and juice from Panera Bread. 

 This theme was a huge hit with the teachers. PTA was delighted to provide the teachers and staff with a special celebration. It was exactly what they needed... surprise celebration to recognize their hard work.  A little thanks goes a long way.