Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Time to start planning for 2014!

Today I started working on my plans for January!  I will be having a student teacher join me, so time to get super ORGANIZED!   

I always like to start off with having the kids do some writing about their New Year resolutions.  I am always amazed at the number of kids that have no idea what a resolution is.  Once they learn how to use the word, they try so hard to get that "BIG" word in every sentence they can. 

We are going to start out by focusing on some resolutions for school and some for home.  I am hoping that we will get two or three solid paragraphs out of this.  I made some fun writing paper for us to publish them on.  Once we finish them, I will add them to the hall display.  When we take them down, we will put them in our writing portfolios.  I like to have the kids bring them out at the end of grading period to see how we are doing on meeting those resolutions. 

I keep all of the kids writing and projects in portfolios.  We used manila folders that we decorated.  I put them in a giant plastic tub.  As we complete things to put in them, I just drop the stack of papers in the tub.  About once a month, we get them out and look at them.  I have a few kids pass out the things that haven't been put into the folders yet, while they talk with their table about how much progress they have made.  At the end of the year, we take them home.  It's a really great way to end the year and the kids have something special to take home.  If you haven't start portfolios for your kiddos yet, it is never to late!  You can do one starting in 2014!   

My 2014 New Year writing paper is my newest freebie.  Click on the picture to download the file so that you can get a jump start on your plans.

I hope that this helps you get started in 2014!

Happy Teaching!

Monday, December 23, 2013

A little Christmas Cheer!

I can't believe that Christmas is just two days away.  I thought that I would share a photo tonight to show you a part of my other life!  Yes.....  that family that is so neglected from time to time.  I follow several teacher blogs and one of my favorite parts is seeing the pictures of their families!  So I decided in the year 2014 I would make it a habit to add a little bit about my family from time to time.

The only thing my youngest son wanted for his birthday last month was a dog.  We adopted our new friend Dewey from a local shelter.  At first I have to say, that I was sure that I had made a mistake.  His story was heartbreaking.  He had to be shaved almost bald because he was covered with matted fur because the person that had him wasn't taking care of him.  So he looked a little ragged and he was the poster dog for ADHD medication!  The whole drive home I thought I have made a huge mistake.   However, after one day I quickly learned that he was the best dog ever!  I couldn't have asked for a sweeter and more wonderful dog for my family.  Here is his newest picture.
I honestly think he might have more presents than my kids!  I am so glad he picked us for his new family and I can't imagine life without him.  Here is to Dewey's FIRST Smith Christmas!

I hope each and every one of you have a wonderful holiday!

Monday, December 9, 2013

You Bet I Would Make a Great Elf!

Who doesn't love an elf?  My kids and I have been reading stories and writing about the amazing job an elf has.  We have been working so hard on our writing skills for the upcoming Discovery Ed test and writing to persuade is a little tough for us.  We have trouble coming up with more than one reason to support our idea.

To add a little fun into our writing, I decided that it would be interesting to see what the kids could come up with if they could be an elf for Santa.  They are so creative and I knew if they got to come up with ideas to get a job with Santa, they would come up with some fantastic stuff.  Who wouldn't want to work for Santa after all?

I came up with an elf graphic organizer and application so my kids can "apply" to work for Santa.  I told them about it today and they got so EXCITED!

Here it is!  I am so happy with the way it turned out.  Click on the picture to take a look at it in my TPT store.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

It is finally December!

Where did November go?  I have no idea, but I LOVE DECEMBER!  I have my box of classroom decorations already in the car to take with me tomorrow.

It's time to start planning all those fun activities for kids.  I wanted to share with you the most wonderful idea that someone has included me in on.  Each year I struggle with what to have the kids bring in to exchange for gifts.  Not this year!  Our class has adopted a kindergarten class in inner city Memphis for the holiday.  I've asked the kids to bring in pencils, crayons, markers, stickers, small toys and treats.  Each day three kids have been assigned to bring their special items to put in the gift bags for the kiddos.  My kids are really excited about the idea and I am hoping it will teach them to be more giving to others.  Just in case some of my parents decide not to participate I bought some stuff from the dollar store to give to kids that don't bring anything in. 

I've been working hard on some fun Christmas packets to do to review our skills so far this year.  You can click on the pictures to see them in my TPT store.  Don't forget that Monday and Tuesday is the CYBER SALE on TPT - all of my products will be discounted 20% and include the CYBER code for an additional 8% off!  Happy Shopping!


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Thanksgiving Fun!

Thanksgiving is almost here!  I don't know if I am more excited to be off for a few days or stand out in cold for Black Friday!

I've started gathering up some fun ideas for the kids.  We only have school on Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week, so we might as well have fun, fun FUN!

I started a new Pinterest page just for Holiday Ideas for Grades K-5.  Take a look at all of the fantastic ideas people have.  Here is the link for my new board:


Here are some of my favorites:


Click on the picture and it will take you to the Holiday Pinterest page and then you can click on the picture to go to the directions.  These are just a few of the great things I found.  I've already started pinning things for Christmas!  Can't wait!

All of these amazing ideas do not belong to me, I found them all on Pinterest and I can't wait to do them with my kiddos next week!

Happy Teaching!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Turkey Times!

We have been working really hard on our writing skills.  We seem to do really well with creative writing and they come up with the cutest stories, but we still are having trouble with writing to inform.  So I came up with this quick lesson and the kids got the biggest kick out of it.

They got to be a reporter and take notes on funny turkey facts.  Did you know that a turkey can have a heart attack?  Or that turkeys can hear but have no external ears?  Well we sure didn't and the kids thought those were the funniest things ever.

So I projected a list of turkey facts and I let them take notes from it just like a reporter.  They picked at least five that they could include in their news story.  Then, we wrote our rough drafts and had to see the chief editor (that was ME) for corrections before they submitted their final copies.  Finally, we published them on the front page of The Turkey Times!

It was a fun activity and we made it into this display in the classroom.  Click on the picture below to see the whole thing on my TPT site. 
Happy Teaching!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Dig DEEP into Common Core Reading!

Sorry, I know I have been MIA for a few weeks.  The husband decided it would be a great idea to get sick and land in the hospital for a week!  At least I used the time to get some things made for my classroom.  Nothing like coloring on one of those hospital tables.

A few years ago I had this ring of cards with a reading questions on it.  I have no idea where I got it or who made it.  All I know is that I miss it!   In the move this summer, I lost them and really wanted to make up a new set.

I loved having them in different places in the classroom so I never had to think about which question to ask next.  I even made a few sets so the kids could use them during Turn and Talk time to help them ask each other higher level questions when they got stuck.

So since I have finally given up looking for them, I decided I had to try and make them again.

Here is my latest creation! 
It has 66 questions and each question is aligned to the Bloom's Taxonomy level.  You can take a better look, by clicking the picture to go to my TPT store.

Happy Teaching!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Get Your Word Wall Verbs! My Newest Freebie!

Happy Tuesday Everyone!

I just wanted to post about my newest freebie!

Word Wall Verbs!

These are common core aligned to help the kids get a better understanding of the complex vocabulary that goes with common core.

I have mine posted above my alphabet.  I use the words as often as I can and I am seeing a much better understanding of the words from the kids.  They are actually using them when the use their Accountable Talk!  I LOVE IT!  While we did a math task the other day I heard one of the kids use one of the words while they were defending their answer. 
It made my day!

Here is a sample of the freebie.  Just click on the picture and it will take you to TPT so you can download it for FREE!

I hope everyone is having a GREAT WEEK!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Reading for some Pumpkin Fun!

As I sit here on Fall Break, I decide to make up some samples of some of projects I wanted to do with the kids in the next few weeks.  We have been working really hard on making webs and writing rough drafts from them.  The kids have done really well it and it's time to make some PUMPKINS!

Here is a picture of the outside of the craftivity I have planned for next week.  We are writing funny stories about pumpkins that try to run away. 

After we finish, I am planning to make a huge pumpkin patch display in the classroom.  With Open House coming in a few weeks, I thought this would be really cute!  You can click on the picture to go directly to the link. 


Monday, October 7, 2013

Reading Centers!

For many years I struggled to find the perfect reading centers.  Everything I put together was either too hard for the kids to do by themselves or it required so much prep time on my part I was going nuts.  I've tried so many different things and I think I have finally find the right combination for me.

It required a little bit of prep work to get them organized, but now all I have to do is switch a few things every six days.  It is mostly add some new books and notebook paper.  It never takes me more than a few minutes to change it up, so it is TEACHER FRIENDLY!

I run reading groups three days a week.  I have six different reading centers and the kiddos go to only one center while I do reading groups.   I've split the kids so that they aren't in the same reading center with someone in their reading group.  This way when I am meeting with a group it decreases the number of students in each center.

Here are My Six Centers:
Spelling Center - 6 different activities that focus the kids attention on the order of the letters - they complete one activity each time they are in the center

Non-Fiction Reading - it helps tie into the common core standards by reading and writing about a non-fiction book of their choice - I try and use books that go with our science and Social Studies topics - the kids follow a list of ten things that they have to locate and tell about in the book - the kids really love this one!

Squiggle Center - they get a blank box with a squiggle line on it and they turn it into a picture and write a story about it - great review of those paragraph skills

AR Center - it is ten to fifteen preselected books for the students to read and take AR tests on - I made a data sheet for them to record the title and their score on it

Writing Center - I pick a poem, letter, or paragraph for them to copy and analyze by answering preselected questions

Sticker Story Center - finally a use for all those tiny little stickers we have - they pick 5 of the stickers and make them into a picture and then write a story

You can see that these centers have lots of reading and writing in them.  The kids LOVE it and want to go to centers each day.  I also have an Early Finisher Folder in most of the centers to keep everyone on task.  I put a review worksheet or a book in it for those kids that finish quickly.  It has allowed me to concentrate on my reading groups and we have very few talkers because they are so involved the centers.

I made a Safari themed set for my classroom and my friend wanted a rainbow set.  Here are the pictures of some of the pages.  You can click on the link to go directly to TPT to see them.  They are on sale this week for only $4!

I hope that helps you get a few ideas for your own reading centers!

Happy Teaching!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Homework Choice Boards!

I'm always trying to think of fun things they can do for homework, but still make sure they are reviewing the skills that we are working on.  I've tried lots of different things and it always seems like it never fits all of the kids and some of them seem to forget to do homework at least once a week.  Last year I gave different homework to different kids.  It sounded like a great idea, but was hard to keep track of and it really confused my parents.  I also have given out a packet on Monday that was due Friday.  I had pretty good luck with this idea and almost all of the kids would return it.  I am always looking for something new to try and finding a great homework idea is always on my mind. 

I was working on making a choice board for my advanced kiddos to use for a science project and then it came to me!  Why not create homework choice boards?  On Monday I could give out the board and the kids could pick four things to do and turn in on Friday.  I've designed a bunch of different boards.  Some of them have activities for all of the subjects and then I have a group that are subject specific.  I made one for reading, spelling, and math.  Some weeks our spelling words are really hard, so I thought giving one just on spelling would help us do better on those words. 

Here is a sample of the packet.  You can take a better look at it
by clicking on one of the pictures and it will take you to my TPT store.


Monday, September 30, 2013

How do I do a Task? Multiplication and Division Tasks!

Teaching math is my favorite part of the day!  We usually start our day off with the number of day.  I used to use whatever number the day actually was, but this year I started using three and four digit numbers instead and it is helping them so much.  We use an anchor chart with everything from ten more, a hundred more, expanded form, three digit number sentence, write a story problem, and much more.  After just a few weeks, the kids are experts at it!

We usually do at least one tough math task a week.  We start off with a quick review of the task, but I don't give them any extra information than what is displayed on the screen.  Then, they work for 10 minutes that we call private work time.  During this time they analyze the task and write their own ideas and solutions in their math journals.  I don't talk to them or answer questions, I want them to think about the problem and solve it.  The next step is group time.  We work anywhere from 10 minutes to 1 hour.  They share journals, ideas, and come up with the best solution path.  I walk around and talk with the groups and ask them advancing and assessing questions.  The last step is whole group.  We talk through the problem and have different groups come up and draw/write their ideas.

The kids really seem to enjoy the tasks and the conversations they are having during the group time is amazing.  I see an increase in their ability to problem solve already.  Using these tasks have really built a sense of community in the classroom!

Finding the perfect task is somewhat difficult.  Even more difficult is finding a source to tell you exactly how to structure your task.  I've found searching online works sometimes, but often I end up writing my own.  Here is a sample of some of the tasks I wrote for this year.  It also includes two pages of detailed instructions on making a task work for you.  You can take a good look at them by clicking the link that will take you to my TPT store.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

AR Roar!

One of the first things on my TO DO LIST before schools started was to make an AR board to keep track of the kids points.  Two months into school and I finally got it done!  It turned out way much better than I thought.  I used fabric and my favorite printed duct tape to make the background.  Then I added ribbon and some animals to create a board I will be able to use year after year. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Oh That Commutative Property!

If you teach third grade you know that the Commutative Property is a HUGE deal!  We have done two lessons on it, made anchor charts, and talked about it a lot.  My kids totally understand it, but they never seem to reference it when they explain something in a math task that uses the Commutative Property.  They write the balanced equation that shows they know how it works, but very few of them use the words Commutative Property when they explain their answers.

We had a few minutes yesterday and I decided to make a quick foldable.  All we did was define what the Commutative Property is on one side and wrote five examples on the other.  BAM!  We did a task today and 16 kids used those words I have been waiting to read... this equation shows the COMMUTATIVE PROPERTY because....

Isn't it funny how something so simple sticks with them?

                                        Here is my proud picture of five minutes well spent.

Have a great day tomorrow!  Happy Friday!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

More Anchor Charts!

Well this week is FLYING by!  Over the weekend I found some really good ideas for anchor charts that I made with the kids this week.

My school does Mountain Math and Language.  Since I am new to the school I am still in that lay low stage!  Ha Ha!  Well long story short, the teacher I replaced left the language, but we can't find the math.  So I decided to make up something myself to take its place.  Where did I turn?  Pinterest of course!  Here is the chart that I made.  We use Number Journals to write all of our answers down and then go over when we start math.  The kids really enjoy it and I feel better that they are getting this practice everyday.  Today was our first official day of doing it and they cracked me up.  We are going over the number sentence section and I had fifteen hands fly up to give me the answer.  Boy was I wrong!

They actually wrote a sentence that had a number in it.  Today's number was 438.

" I have 438 really amazing baseball cards. "
" My family lives on 438 Sunhill Drive. "

I laughed so hard!  The one thing they learned today is that a number sentence means the same thing as equation.  Tomorrow we will do better at this!

I was reading a post by a math teacher that said that children believe that an when they see an equal sign the answer is coming next.  The more I thought about it I realized that she was so right.  So I designed this anchor chart with the help of my kids.  Now I am sure they understand what an equal sign means.

 Have a great day!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Organization at its BEST!

It is no secret that I LOVE ANCHOR CHARTS!  But storing them is a different story.  I've tried everything from boxes to rolling them up with rubber bands.  Nothing ever seemed to be perfect until......  hangers, binder clips, and a laundry stand!  I used binder clips to attach the anchor chart to a hanger and LOOK AT THIS! 

When we need a quick refresher, I just grab the hanger and hang it on a hook off the chalkboard!  

Monday, September 16, 2013

Fall Centers are finally finished!

I spent this weekend finishing up my fall centers for math and reading.  My kids this year really love to do centers.  During reading groups, I use some centers that never change like Squiggle and Sticker Story.  My math centers seem to change with the different skills.  However, I like to have some that change and who doesn't LOVE fall?  I made a list of some skills that my kids are struggling with like dictionary skills, antonyms, writing with graphic organizers and writing poetry.  In math, we are working on mastering rounding, story problems, multiplication, and fractions.  So I created this packet of 14 different easy to use centers that I only have to run copies and laminate the direction sheets.  No other prep on my part!  Can't wait to use them this week!  You can take a look at them at my TPT store, just click on the picture!

Monday, September 9, 2013


We are a little behind on our pacing guides this year, but we are finally starting landforms this week.  I don't know about you, but when I'm behind on those pacing guides it makes me NUTS!

I really enjoy this unit in S.S.  We are going to make landforms out of a box of all these random art supplies that I had in a tub.  My plan is just to let them pick a landform that they like and let them go to town to create a display that shows their landform.  Then we will try and guess which one they did.  Should be lots of fun for a Friday Project.  I will post some pictures of them over the weekend.

To go along with the S.S. book, I created a landform packet.  It has all kinds of activities like, "I Have.... Who has" Landform game, anchor charts for 17 different landforms, flashcards to help them learn them, and of course a flipbook! Here is sample of some of the activities in it.  You can click on a picture to go to by TPT store to check it out.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Putting a Paragraph Together!

We spent this week really working hard on how to put a paragraph together.  When we started on Monday I thought we might be at this for a long long time!  We worked on margins, indenting, and the hardest part putting one sentence after another.  We focused on topic and closing sentences, and then added in supporting details.  We worked through three different stories where the kids worked as a group and the independently putting the paragraph together.  By Friday, we all understood the structure of a paragraph and could correctly put the sentences in order.  Our school system added a 30% writing grade to our ELA this year, so the rubric really helped me grade their work.  Click on the pictures to take a look at the packet.  It is only $1 this week!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Accountable Talk is Live and in ACTION!

My class and I have been working really hard for the past two weeks on using Accountable Talk.  We started small with Turn and Talk.  I assigned each kid a partner for the week, a student that was right next to them.  During our instruction, I ask the kids to "Turn and Talk about....  ".  At first it was a slow, slow start up a giant hill, but now they are getting so much better at it.  Then we added Accountable Talk, or AT, to the mix.  It is so fun to hear the kids say, "I disagree with her because I think that....." or "I'm wondering if.....".  We use it for all of the subjects and they really enjoy it.  Here is a picture of the chart we made as a class to help us remember some of the starters when we get stuck. 
If you aren't using Accountable Talk or Turn and Talk in your classroom, give it a try!  Once you start doing it you will wonder why you didn't do it sooner!

Have a great week!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Context Clues Anchor Charts!

We have been working hard all week on context clues.  I found two great anchor charts that we used and it really helped the kids get the hang of it.  We started off with this one and practiced using the strategies on it. 
Then we used this anchor chart when we came across unknown words when we read some chapters from Flat Stanly's African Safari Adventures!  The kids worked in groups and decided what to write on their sticky note.  After they all put their ideas on the chart we discussed them.  They LOVE LOVE LOVE writing on sticky notes!

Hope everyone is having a great week!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Cutest Little Craftivity!

Teaching writing is always so much fun!  Who doesn't love a little craft along with it?  Out comes the THE PERFECT CUPCAKE!  My first real try at a craftivity and I think it came out adorable!  It comes with graphic organizers and all of the pieces to make a cute craft while teaching writing with time order words. Click on any of the pictures to go to TPT and take a look at this activity!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Another amazing idea on Pinterest!

I'm always searching for some fun things to do with my kids.  This week we are working on prefixes and suffixes.  I came across this picture on Pinterest and just had to make it for me kids this week. 
Here is my version of this great idea for my third grade friends!
Click on the picture to go download it.  Can't wait to use it this week!

Happy Teaching!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

TPT Sale!

Well it is finally here!  The Back to School Sale on Teachers Pay Teachers!

The sale starts tomorrow and runs through Monday!  Time to clear out those wish lists and get up to 28% off.  Almost all of the sellers will be throwing a sale in honor of a NEW SCHOOL YEAR!

Everything in my store will be 20% and when you add that to TPT's extra discount, your savings will be 28%.  Use PROMO CODE BTS13 when you check out to get the discount!
Click here to go directly to my store!

Two day sale

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Classrooms All Ready for the First Day!

Well it came and went FAST!  Today was the first day of school for us today.  My new friends are lots and lots of fun.  I can tell it is going to be an amazing year.  Here are some pictures of my organized classroom.  Yes, for the first time in 17 years my room is organized!  I can't believe it!

I used a bunch of animal print duct tape to recover some bins and organizers that I had.  So Cute!

I am going to do the BUCKET FILLERS this year!  I hung them with the calendar and I LOVE IT!
Duct tape and scrapbook paper made this over into a safari organizer!

Everything in labeled bins!  I can find anything! 

So all in all it was a great day, but this teacher is ready for bed!