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November 29, 2012

Traditions Book (Writing)

This time of year I really start thinking of traditions.  I personally love them.  I love the special routines surrounding a certain holiday. So, the time between Thanksgiving vacation and Winter break I have my students create a book that includes all their special family traditions.  

Last year I had the idiotic idea of trying to have them do the entire book in a 2 day span to be able to submit it to Student Treasures on time for our publishing date.  
click to go to their website
Student Treasures is a company that publishes student work into their own hardback book.  It's a free service, they just include a note that asks parents if they want to order additional copies.  They were beautiful when they came back and we wrapped them up in Christmas wrap as a gift for their parents.  But it was absolutely nuts of the hours upon hours of creating rough drafts and final drafts for those days, plus then hauling it to UPS to be able to mail it off.... nervously waiting if it would be delivered in time.

So I'm going back to my normal routine this year, and saving the Student Treasures hardback books for a later date - perhaps an end of year memory book?   

Anyhow, below is the breakdown of the book.  
The students are writing one page per day about their traditions.
They create a rough draft, edit, and do a final draft on just plain lined paper (copy paper with lines printed on it) that they then illustrate with their family traditions.  I start with Thanksgiving since it's fresh in their minds.

New Year's Eve and Day

Valentines Day

St. Patrick's Day


Mother's Day and Father's Day

4th of July



Christmas and Hanukkah


So, 10 pages in total.  When they are done with everything inside their book, they will create their own personal cover and a dedication page to their families (with their cute little cum picture on it).  Then I stick everything into 6 sheet protectors (back to back pages) and use red & white ribbon through the holes to call it a day.  Their own little personal books to give as a gift.

I'll take a picture when it's done for this year.  :)  

Hope you had a great day!  

November 28, 2012

End of Unit Review, Ordering Owl Pellets, and I WON!

This week we are finishing up the end of Unit 2.  Every Monday the kiddos write their definitions and draw pictures that go with each of their vocabulary words for that week's story.  They each have their own composition book.  It's nice and neat.  It's a routine.  

This week is the end of the Unit and they are getting ready to take their Reading Lions vocabulary test tomorrow.  Yesterday they created vocabulary cards for the entire unit - all 34 words - this was to reinforce for those visual learners that really need to see the definitions one more time.  They did so willingly because of the promise of using them for a game today.  
Now, I tend to become indecisive at times when it's "game" time.  I really couldn't make a decision between Charades, Pictionary, and Hangman - so I let them choose how they wanted to practice.  It was organized chaos, but it was wonderful to watch.  One side of the room held the kiddos using their cards and their whiteboards to draw pictures with a partner.  They took turns going back and forth.  The other side of the room also had kids with their cards and whiteboards and partners, but they were guessing with the typical hangman fashion.  Then in the front of the room, there were groups of 3's and 4's acting out the words.  They also had their cards.  Each child could be heard guessing the words, and then they had to say the definitions for their partners to hear.  Small groups allowed the students to have numerous turns.

Sometimes it pays to be indecisive.


Okay - onto the next thing... Last year I bought Owl Pellets and my class loved them.  This year the money has been extra slow rolling in, so I used it as incentive to have students try to donate something to help our class.  Since we now finally have enough for our field trip, it was time to order.  Since I bought from the company last year, and it was a great product, I wanted to share it with you. 

There really is a website for everything out there.  This is a family owned business that operates out of Washington.  I bought the Individual Bargain Bags (16 packages of them - $1.05 each) instead of buying standard or premium pellets (more $).  It's a bag of a lot of "stuff" and each bag has a ton of different bones to sort.  Last year I had 4 students share a bag and it worked, though it was a lot of hands in a small area.  This year I want them to work in partners and each have their own amount to take home.  Shipping is very reasonable.  They have a ton of pictures on their website, as well as bone sorting charts, and FAQ.  Check them out!


Last for today - I WON Tara's giveaway.  :)  That made my day yesterday, and it kept me smiling throughout today.  What did I win?
So many word-building options, so little time!
Then, as if life couldn't get any sweeter, she surprised me 
with her "Be Merry" banner!  Super cute!    

"Be Merry" Banner      

Life is good!  I've laminated about 80 sheets of all my goodies from TPT, and just bought 3 more packages of laminating sheets from Amazon.  They are on sale for $9.88 each at the moment.  

 3 Mil Clear Letter Size Thermal Laminating Pouches 9 X 11.5 Qty 100 (UNV84622)

November 26, 2012

Thinking of Teaching - Follower Feature

Beth picked me.  

That makes my day.  Click here to go visit her and read about me.  :)

Hope you have a great Monday!  It was SO hard to get up this morning... 3 weeks until Winter Break... but whose counting?!?


November 25, 2012

Elf Task Cards (Freebie)

I finally made something cute.  
Well, with a lot of help from Melonheadz and Kevin & Amanda.

Here is a freebie for you.  It's a set of 8 Elf Task cards.  

My classroom has been filling buckets since the first day of school and I wanted to incorporate a little Secret Santa type of thing during the last 2 weeks before vacation.  8 cards that as a class we will do together before we reveal our secret identities to each other.  Everything from verbal compliments, to written ones, to creating artwork, to learning about each other, to playing together at recess.  Just ways to get my students thinking about someone else...

Hope this helps someone!

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Did You Enter? Part 2

The other day I mentioned a bunch of giveaways that I've entered, but I messed up royally since I forgot about even more of them!  Yes, I've been going a little crazy between entering giveaways, buying stuff online from Black Friday, and getting ready for Cyber Monday...not to mention all the mom stuff and house stuff that I've been trying to accomplish around here.. Vacation you know... These end tonight!!  

Tara from 4th Grade Frolics is having a giveaway regarding Tri-Words.  
So many word-building options, so little time!
Amanda from Teaching Maddeness is onto Day 7 of her week long giveaway.  Today's prize is your choice of units.  

Chrissy B. from Buzzing with Ms. B is hosting her One Year Blogiversary giveaway.  She has so many prizes!

Good luck!


3, 2, 1 - Week #3

Last week my 3 goals were to get prepped for December, to clean out the home clutter, and make good food choices.... Well, as of this moment my school bag has yet to be opened for the past week, but my home has been cleaned out, and I'm happy with the decisions I made.

I did have a wonderful week of vacation.  Of course I did.  I love vacation!  It was an eventful week.  We took the boys to Chuck E. Cheese to play the games, had a ton of movie nights, did build a fort, we painted toast for breakfast, and I did make Cranberry Orange bread.  We did decorate for Christmas - this year I went through the boxes before we stuck everything up and ended up clearing out some clutter in them as well.  I love how my house looks.  :)

Yesterday was a pretty awesome day too.  Well, not in the morning... our car battery died and it cost $120 plus tax to replace it.  We didn't know exactly where that extra money was going to come from - car issues are never in the budget.  Later on in the afternoon  I took the dog and my 6 year old for a walk in our neighborhood and found $130 on the sidewalk.  I took it to the nearest home and knocked.  No one answered.  Took it home and later on my husband went to also knock.  Still no answer.  We're taking it as a blessing.  God met our needs.

Okay, onto this upcoming week...

3 goals

*School goal - This week I really do want to make sure I'm all planned for December.  We only have 3 weeks until our next LONG Christmas vacation.  

*Home goal -  I hope to be able to finish Christmas shopping.  We are so close to being done. 
*Personal goal - I need to remember to drink all my water this coming week.  When it gets cold I don't think about it.  I'm barely getting 3 to 4 glasses a day (compared to the 12 I drink when it's warm.)  Just something for me to work on.  

2 things I'm looking forward to

*Writing conference this coming Friday!  It's a 4 day week for me! :)  I'm excited to spend time during school hours learning something new.  We don't really have much of a writing curriculum in our district, everyone does their own thing.  I'm glad to get new ideas.  

*I'm excited about helping my parents decorate their house for Christmas next Saturday.  Even with the past decade of decorating our own house, it's still fun to help my parents.  That feels like tradition, and I love traditions.  So many of their decorations are the same ones that I've seen since childhood.  

1 thing I want to try
Easy Button for the Classroom - Where to get it and ways to use it
Laura Candler has a blog post all about using the easy button in her classroom.  Click the button above to head to her website.  I picked one up during break for school.  I'm excited to put it by the computers so the kids can press it once they pass AR tests or get 100% on their regular tests.  After years of seeing them, I had no clue that it could talk.  Good to know!  

Have a wonderful week!  

November 23, 2012

Did you enter?

It's the last day to enter Tori's 5 days of giveaways.
Today's gift is...  
Jessica at Mrs. Stanford's class is also having a giveaway - connected to Donor's Choose.  Go check her out too!MrsStanfordsClass 

Amanda at Teaching Maddeness is having a week long giveaway.  She posted yesterday about Brag Tags, but she has other prizes as well  
including today's talk bar from Learning Resources.

Tonya is giving away her Monthly Writing Prompts to a lucky reader.  All you have to do is comment and she will pick someone on Saturday. 

Updated:  I found another week long giveaway going on with Charity at the OCB.  Today she's teaming up with: 
and tomorrow will be with 
...and yes, by blogging about it, I sometimes get another chance at the prize. :)  

Hope you are having a wonderful day!

Day after Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving was a success.  Family time, thankful time, eating time... it was all good.  I was in a little food coma when we headed home at 6 pm... had to head home to let the dog out or else a little nap would have been perfect.  Then the fun of online shopping really started.  Picked up some good deals at JcPenny, Target, and Amazon.  Not as many as last year, but that's okay - I don't need to spend a lot to still have that satisfaction of getting a good deal.  I think we are basically done with shopping.  That's a good thing, right?  

Now it's today, and I just feel old.  Friends went out last night and were up all night hitting the stores, and instead I got my beauty sleep.  I can barely make it past midnight most nights... oh well!  Every year I say that I will go out, and then I don't.  I think that perhaps I need to face reality that I'm not an all-nighter type of girl.

The tradition of Black Friday in our house is a PJ day and pulling out the Christmas decorations.  The Christmas music will go on in a bit, and somehow everything will be transformed into Christmas.  I've already moved a toy collection thing upstairs to one of the boys' rooms to make room for where the Christmas tree will be placed.  

Over this vacation I've also been spending a bit of time on Pinterest.  Here are some of my favorite Christmas pins on my Christmas board and my Winter board.  Then I have a Gift board that might help you as well.  

At this moment in time, I'm considering having my students either do this activity 
Come Together Kids: Artwork Candles
Click to take you to Pinterest


I had my class make the trivets for Mother's Day last year.  They were nice and inexpensive (16 cents each).  If you click the trivet picture it will take you to my home blog where I walked through the steps.  

Happy Friday!    

November 21, 2012

Every-Day Edits

Today I cleaned.  The house is clean.  The boys are relatively clean.  The clothes and dishes are clean.  Hopefully everything will stay in its place until after we see the rest of the family tomorrow.  :)  

As I'm sitting down completely exhausted from cleaning, I've been thinking about the things that I love using in my classroom.  You know, the things that I'm grateful for...  I decided to try and organize my files a bit more on the computer and I ran across my folder of Every-Day Edits.  

Do you use these too?  

The stack I use comes from Education World.  They have made it so easy for me to find everything on there.  The students need that extra practice in editing.... don't we all?  They provide a non-fiction paragraph to edit, and it's sorted by real dates in history.  I call it our treasure hunt time when we tackle it together in class on Mondays.  If we don't do it in class, the paragraph goes home for homework.  It's that important to me for them to do it.  Since they have 2 per page, I can easily justify the amount of copies.  

Education World has a ton of other stuff as well, but that's all I really wanted to share for today.  It's a free resource that I am grateful for.  Click the link above to head on over so you can check it out yourselves.  This resource is more for the intermediate grades, but they also have something similar for primary students.

Happy Thanksgiving! 

November 20, 2012

Blogging Thankfulness

Can you tell that I love November?  I also love all the thankfulness that is going around. :)

Today, I am linking up with Stephanie over at Teaching in Room 6 to share what I'm thankful for in Blogland. (Yes, it's a place similar to Disneyland but without the lines and overpriced food.)  
There is so much to share!  

It was last year that I really started noticing all the teaching blogs out in Blogland.  I found Charity's The Organized Classroom Blog over on Facebook and realized that there were many many teaching resources out there... and that got me going.  I started googling resources (since the stack of teaching books in my cupboards actually meant that I would have to go through a ton of teaching books in my cupboards) and that led me to find Kristen at Ladybug's Teacher Files.  Since moving back to 4th grade (after 4 years in primary), I felt the need to locate supplemental resources.  I pinned basically everything I could from her just so I could remember.

Then I found Stephanie at Teaching in Room 6 - another huge help with moving to the intermediate grades.  She had so many ideas and resources that were easy for me to implement.  I started checking other 4th grade blogs of Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies, Fancy Free in Fourth, 4th Grade Frolics, and Oh Boy 4th Grade on a daily basis, and everyday I found more blogs that I had to add to my bookmarks.  Learning more and more, I was sharing more and more, and my dear friend and coworker told me that I really should start my own blog.

So I did when summer started, and in the process of time I have kept growing in my learning.  The linky parties let me run into more and more super smart teachers out there.  I realized this past summer about that fun feature that allows you to "follow" blogs. :)  So my list in my bookmarks bar turned into a list of teachers that have become my colleagues, my role models.  Thank you for teaching me.  Thank you for all the resources.  Thank you for all the professional development that really should be counted toward something... 

Thank you for helping me learn the ins and outs of being a blogger.  Thank you for putting up with me.  Thank you for the encouraging words.  Thank you for answering my questions, and talking to me on FB.  Thank you for making this journey fun and exciting.

Happy Thanksgiving!   

November 19, 2012

Christmas Bookmarks (Freebie)

Here is a freebie for you!  During this week of vacation I am creating a little gift for my students for Christmas.  I ordered a class set of books from Scholastic during that huge bonus point sale at the beginning of the year.  They are all getting the book My Life as a Book.

I wanted to make them a new bookmark since they are still 
using the ones that I gave them on the first day of school.
With these bookmarks I am laminating/hole punching them and using yarn on top to attach one of these cute little ornaments.
The tiny ornaments are from Target's Dollar Spot (16 per pack).  I will also give them a packet of hot chocolate mix and then will stick everything into a brown paper bag.  

Click the bookmark picture to take you to Google Docs.

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday
Click above to take you to the other freebies over at Classroom Freebies!

Hope this helps someone!

November 18, 2012

3,2,1 - Week #2

Well I did it!  

Last week I had 3 goals - one personal, one home, one school, and I tackled them all!
I was able to get the paperwork off my desk before vacation started, I was more on top of meal planning, and I made time to take care of me (which meant that new batteries are now in my food scale and on the stationary bike).  I did take the dog for a walk on the days that it was possible, but the days it wasn't I got on the bike.

I had all these fun Thanksgiving activities planned and we did complete almost all of them.  It's exhausting adding so much to an already packed schedule - but I think it's important to have fun in the classroom too.

The thing I wanted to try this past week was using the now!board with my mission booklets.  That didn't work out the way that I had planned.  My projector decided to stop working during a lesson and it threw me for a loop - no now!board, no ladibug...  I told the kids that sometimes we just can't rely on technology so much.  So, we did things the "old fashioned" way - using the whiteboard and markers. :)

So, here's my new list for this coming week...

3 goals

*School goal - I'm on vacation!!!  My goal this week will be to make sure to get all my planning for the "extra" December fun ready to be prepped.

*Home goal - I really want to tackle the cupboards, closets, and toys this week.  We went through the boys closets last weekend, but there are more things to clean out and donate before Christmas.  

*Personal goal - This week I'm just hoping to make good choices with all my favorite Thanksgiving foods.  I love me some turkey and sweet potatoes... hoping that my brain will be thinking as much as my stomach wants to.

2 things I'm looking forward to

*I'm looking forward to family time.  I'm looking forward to having fun with my little boys and getting a chance to make some memories.  9 days of playing and reading and play dough and movie nights and building forts and painting and baking (need to remember to not bake...).

 *The day after Thanksgiving we ALWAYS start decorating for Christmas.  I'm so excited about getting all the decorations out.

1 thing I want to try 

Pumpkin French Toast Bake, Yum!! Great thanksgiving morning recipe!
I want to try making this for Thanksgiving morning.  It's the Pumpkin French Toast Bake from Minimalist Baker.  Of course I saw the picture on Pinterest.  Now I just have to brave the store to go get all the ingredients.   

November 17, 2012

Stuffed Linky Party

I'm linking up with Lyndsey over at A Year of Many Firsts 
to share  what I'm thankful for.  

I am thankful for my husband.  I know I've shared it before, but he really is the rock in the family.  He remains calm when the chaos of raising 3 boys and teaching full time becomes overwhelming.  

 I am thankful for my oldest son.  I can't believe he is already 8 1/2 years old.  He just grew out of his "new" shoes in the past 2 months.  I'm having issues with him getting older.

 I am thankful for my middle son.  I can give him credit for the majority of gray hair on my head.  The past 6 years have been a blessing.  He is so independent!   

I am thankful for my little guy.  He is about to turn 3, and the time has flown since he was born.

I am thankful for my class, coworkers, and school community.  I am thankful for the roof over my head and the food on the table.  I am thankful for technology and the ability to learn from so many other teachers out there in Blogland.  I am thankful for good friends and laughter.  I know I can complain with the best of them (I'm working on it), but I'm thankful for the life God has given me.  I am blessed!