Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A HUGE Giveaway

Great news!  My bloggy friend Erin is having a great big, ginormous, 100 follower giveaway!  Erin from the sweet blog, Sample’s Superstars, has hit the 100 follower mark and she is giving away a TON of a*w*e*s*o*m*e products to celebrate. 
Having you been eyeing up by Parent Teacher Conference Packet?  If so, enter Erin’s giveaway for a chance to win.  Click the pic below to head on over to her cute blog.  Be sure to spend some time checking out her awesome blog.  You may remember I participated recently in the magical product swap and was lucky enough to be paired with Erin.  She rocks!
Giveaway Button

Saturday, January 26, 2013

We’ve Hit the Halfway Mark!

It’s all downhill from here!!!!  Tuesday was the 90th day of school, which is officially halfway through the school year.  Hooray!  To celebrate, we had Halfway Day in our little classroom all day long.  I started this celebration last year and my littles just L*O*V*E*D it (~their teacher did too~).  This will definitely be a celebration I continue throughout the ~many~ years I have ahead in my career. 

Here’s the banner that greeted my firsties, and lots of surprised, too tall adults, on Tuesday.


The previous week, I sent a letter home asking parents to help their students create a project for halfway day that shows the concept of one-half.  This year’s projects were great.  Some of our projects included half of a hard boiled egg, half of a bar of soap (the box it came in was cut in half too:), half of a baseball, half decorated cupcakes, etc.  The students had to complete a questionaire about their project as part of the assignment. 

Once we were proudly displaying our projects, we had a gallery walk and chose our favorites and asked questions of their creators.    We did lots of other halfway day activities too.  We planned and carried out a design for half of a decorated cupcake and half of a cup of juice.  We read books about one-half.  We completed a fun center called, “Will that be Pick-up or Delivery?” which as you can guess was all about pizza. 

You can check out all of these activities and more in my new packet.  Just click the picture below to check it out.


Now it’s only 7 more school days until we celebrate again for the 100th day!  Wow!  It may seem like a lot of days full of fun (also educational) activities, but during the long, cold, snowy months of January and February, sometimes we need a little nudge to get us out of bed and excited about school in the morning! 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Meeting my Goals & Improving Positive Parent Communication

I have to start by shouting from the rooftops that I am feeling so organized thanks to the changes I’ve made so far in 2013!  My first goal was to have all planning and prep work done by Friday for the following week.  Yay!  Last week, I finished every.single.thing. on that list.  It felt incredible to leave on Friday know I was prepared for this week!  It’s only Monday and I’m already almost finished with Tuesday’s to do list.  What a great feeling!

My second goal was to better organize the way my students hand in their completed written work.  I created a system of labeled baskets and switch these throughout the day according to subject area.  It has been an amazing transformation!  I anticipated a little confusion on my students’ part, but I wasn’t giving my little sweeties nearly enough credit.  They caught on right away and even had a little chuckle when I mentioned I needed a new system. Ha!  I left school every day last week with all work corrected!  What a huge change from having a cluttered pile of papers on my desk with absolutely no rhyme or reason.  Again, it’s such a good feeling to leave at the end of the day without that mountain of paperwork weighing on my mind. 

This week’s goal is to increase positive parent communication.  I feel that I communicate with parents rather regularly through both a weekly report card for each student as well as the weekly newsletter I send home.  However…I feel that the only parents that receive unplanned notes or phone calls are the ones whose children experience some sort of problem throughout the day.  I feel that ALL parents should hear about what their children are doing well throughout the week.  I want to start a system in which I can keep track of these notes and phone calls and can tell at a glance who could use a positive note or phone call.  Here’s what I came up with:

Parent Communication Log

I will keep a new log each week (but I’ll save the old ones so I can refer back to them) to track how and when I communicate with parents.  My goal is to improve positive communication with ALL parents.  I’ll tally the number of communications I make each week.  For each communication I make, I’ll tally whether it was a note or a phone call and whether it was positive or negative.  Click on the picture to head to google docs for your free copy. 

The adorable border is from  Creative Clips Button

Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Swap with Sample’s Superstars


Hey there!  Recently, I was lucky enough to be paired with Erin Sample of Sample’s Superstars for a product swap.  For this swap, Erin was given a copy of my product, Digraphs and Blends Literacy Center Bundle Pack (To celebrate this fun swap, it's on sale through Sunday night for an additional 20% off). Click the picture below to check out her blog and her review of my product.  Be sure to become a follower of her blog while you’re there.  Since I’ve become one of her followers, I’ve even been lucky enough to win one of her giveaways!!!!

As a swap, I was fortunate enough to receive Erin’s fabulous resource, “Over 30 Writing Mini Lessons and Bulletin Set-Common Core.”  Wow!  I am so impressed by this packet and by Erin as a teacher/blogger/TPT creator.  I had so much fun exploring this A*W*E*S*O*M*E packet!!!
I chose this packet because vocabulary is a huge focus in my LFS district.  I’m always looking for new ways to introduce vocabulary in my classroom.  My students certainly lack a variety of vocabulary in their writing and this is the time of year that I really increase my focus on this skill while we're doing kid writing. 
I happily downloaded and printed this 124 page packet.  As I printed, I noticed that much of this packet focuses on encouraging students to use *sparkle* words.  Well you know me, once I saw the word *sparkle*, I was hooked!  After printed, I laminated the pages that I just knew would get used many times over by myself and my students. 
Here’s a brief overview of Erin’s packet, directly from her product description:
In this bulletin board set, there are over 30 mini-lesson ideas to use with your students to give them meaningful experiences with vocabulary in order to apply their new learning into writing. The mini lessons use arts integration,literature, writing and even science connections to build vocabulary.
There are also many other options if you choose not to make the bulletin board set. You could put the pages into page protectors and make a portable word wall in a binder. You could also put the words and labels on rings. Just make sure the words are accessible to students and they are encouraged to use them.

Erin gives a few ideas for how best to utilize and display these materials.  Ultimately, I wish I could display them on a large bulletin board and keep them up all year, but I am limited on classroom wall space, so I decided to three-hole punch all resources and put them in a binder in the order they were in the packet.  This orders the resources with the bulletin board materials first, followed by lesson plans and ideas.  However, I really like Erin’s idea of making a portable word wall in a binder for students and as I teach these words to my students, I will add them to a second binder to create a portable word wall to be kept at my writing center.
Erin has organized this packet by the type of words you will focus on teaching your students.  These are all called *sparkle* words.  Her 15 sub-headings for her sparkle words are color, size, shape, emotion, taste, sound, better than “said,: better than “cool” or “awesome,” smell, touch/texture, made of, pattern, position, time, and action verbs. Because of the wide variety of vocabulary she introduces, this resource is perfect for differentiating for high and low students alike.  Students in all primary grades would benefit from this vocabulary instruction.  I can think of many of my high-flyers who need to increase the variety of adjectives and verbs they use and at the same time, I need my lower students to simply start adding adjectives to their writing.  This packet will help me meet all of their needs.  Check out a picture of some of the color and pattern words below.  Love these!!!

Not only are the materials to make a bulletin board full of these words included in this pack, but there are mini-lessons for each type of word!!!! I love how Erin included suggestions for authentic children’s literature throughout the mini-lessons.  It helped me to quickly see how I could easily tie it into my existing curriculum.  She often refers to the way she uses this in her classroom, which makes this pack sooooo user-friendly.  The colorful graphics will please the eyes of students and teachers alike.  I adore the clip art she chose for the borders and backgrounds.  Many of the lessons also include reproducible worksheets and activities for students.  Check out some of my faves:

Once I took a chance to really look at this program I realized what a comprehensive unit it is! 
A-MAZE-ING!  I CANNOT wait to start using this program in my classroom.  I will use it year after year as I encourage my littles to expand their writing and speaking vocabulary.   I feel that it will really improve my students’ writing and speaking vocabularies.  I am so glad I had the opportunity to review this product for Erin.  I LOVE her products and will be a loyal blog and TpT follower (and customer)!

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Frosty Friends Winner and GO IRISH!!!!!

1 We have a winner of my Frosty Friends Addition and Subtraction Math Centers Packet!  RNG 1-7-13 Congratulations to Angie Henry!  Check your email, Angie.  Your copy of Frosty Friends will be in your mailbox soon!  Thanks to everyone who entered for helping me surpass the 100 follower mark!  What a blogging milestone for me!
And really quick, before the big game…
GO IRISH!!!!!!!
The mister and I are settling in for a night of nail-biting football.  This is beyond HUGE in our house.  Go Notre Dame!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Conquering the Clutter Chaos & Crossing the 100 Threshold!

           Corrected work basket label 1corrected work basket label 2 First I have to say, thank-you to my 100th and 101st followers. And to the 99 followers before that! I'm so glad to have you following my blog. If you are a follower, be sure to comment on my previous post to be entered into the giveaway of my "Frosty Friends" packet. You can check out the packet in my TpT store here.  If you’re not a follower, go back to that post, follow my blog, and comment to be entered!!!! Remember, I’ll pick a winner tomorrow night. My goal for 2013 is to s*p*a*r*k*l*e* in all that I do. Last week I was working to improve my planning. This week I am trying to
Conquer the Completed Work Chaos On my desk, sits a basket of papers the students hand in and it constantly looks like this 004 This is where my students put EVERYTHING!  Morning work, notes from home, PTO papers, math papers, center papers, and the list goes on and on.  There are at least 100 papers in that baby right now.  It is such an annoying pest, staring at me all day long, showing me how much work I have to do!
I’ll be the first to admit that I do give my students a little more written work than some of my colleagues.  To hold them accountable, I do like to see and correct most of this work (another difference between my colleagues and I).  I believe that if I’m expecting them to do the work, I should take the time to look it over.  So instead of only correcting tests and other graded papers, I pretty much collect everything and I don’t plan on changing that any time soon.
So, what’s a girl to do about this cluttery mess on her desk?  Well, instead of one basket, I’m upgrading to several *LABELED* baskets.  I will have a basket for homework and other notes from home, a basket for reading, a basket for math, and a basket for centers.  That will make it easier for me to quickly find what I need and prioritize accordingly.  I’m sure it will take a little time for my students to adjust to this new way of handing their work in, but as with all we do, they will learn with practice.
Here are the cute labels I came up with
Corrected work basket label 1corrected work basket label 2
You can click on either picture to head to google docs for your free copy.  I left one label blank so you can use it as you choose.
I’m hoping this new way of organizing the many papers I get each day will help me this week.  I am going to try to correct all completed work before I leave my classroom each day.  I’ll pop back in later in the week to let you know how it’s going.
The font came from  That girl has the best FREE fonts around.  Check her out!
For the labels, I used clip art from:

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Did I Keep My Resolutions + Who Wants to be #100 and maybe a winner?

Don't hate me, but this first week (well, 3 days) back after winter break was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. The anticipation of going back was way worse. So, if this is your last weekend on break, think positive thoughts and tell yourself you'll be right back in the swing of things the minute you walk through your classroom door.

Hopefully you caught my post earlier this week about my resolution to s*p*a*r*k*l*e* in 2013. If not, you can check it out here. This week's mission was to get all of my planning and prep work done before I walked out the school door on Friday afternoon. I worked super hard all week to meet this goal and using my fun rainbow checklists made it easier. They also gave me that nice feeling of satisfaction each time I checked off one of my planning chores. If you haven't downloaded your free copy yet, click here to head to a blank set and here to go to the personalized set I'm using.

So, now for the moment of suspense, did I get all my planning and prep work done? Take a look at my completed checklists below.


So, mission accomplished??? Well, the short answer is no, not quite. That pesky guided reading binder is sitting on my kidney-shaped table with only scattered plans written in it. But here's the long answer. We all know about the long answer right? Don't we all have that one student who has a long answer for everything and somehow avoids saying yes or no? I know you're probably thinking, "Just stick to the facts, ma’am.” But sorry, here's the long answer. The long answer is that I believe I would've gotten that last bit of planning done if we had a full week of school this week. Since we weren't in school on Monday or Tuesday I had to get both of those lists as well as the rest accomplished in 3 short days. So really, if I had those two extra days I'm sure I could've tackled guided reading along of everything else. Let's just say the true test will come next week, when it's a full week, with MAP testing thrown into the mix, DRA's starting, and meetings several days after school.

Even though I left school yesterday with guided reading still weighing me down as far as planning goes, I have to say it felt SO GOOD to have everything else ready for next week! Now when I walk into my classroom each day I won't feel overwhelmed with the prep work I need to do for that very day. I can breathe a little and maybe tackle some other projects.

Here's a glimpse at some of the activities we did during this short, 3-day week.

We made New Year’s resolutions with these cute craftivities.  This came from:


We love using our sparkly star pointers when we’re on a word hunt in our guided reading books.  I got these adorable magic wands in the party favor aisle at WalMart.


We’re also loving our Frosty Friends math centers from my TpT store.




This packet of strategy-based addition and subtraction centers is available in my TPT store.  Click the picture below to check it out:


So, I’m sitting at 99 followers and I’d love to surpass 100!  Please help me by clicking on the join this site link on the right side of my page.  Leave a comment that you are a follower, even if you’re not #100.  From all the comments, I’ll choose 1 lucky winner to receive a free copy of my Frosty Friends Math Centers.  I’ll pick a winner Monday night.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a new goal for next week and free printables to go along with it.  

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Sparkling in 2013!

2012 was a great year for me.  My sweet little guy turned 1, the Mr. and I celebrated our 5th anniversary, I started my 12th year of teaching, and it was my rookie year in bloggy world!  Wow, when I get it all out like that it's no wonder that I am exhausted!   I tried to enjoy every minute of 2012 and upon reflecting I did have a bit of an epiphany.  Being a mommy, wife, teacher, and blogger is HARD WORK!  (I'm sure you're thinking, "duh!") It feels like in order to do one of these duties well, the rest get completely ignored.  I think I need balance...but I also need to jazz it all up a bit.    ` 

Will 2013 be my lucky year?  Join me on my quest to balance it, family, blogging.  Follow my blog to receive updates and freebies as I embark on this journey to s*p*a*r*k*l*e in all that I do.  If you're looking for sparkle, you've come to the right place.

My first step is to always be prepared.  Sounds so simple, especially when technically we start each week with lesson plans. you ever have lesson plans that could've used a little more tweaking?  Or do you ever get to school in the morning only to realize that you don't have the copies you need for the day?  I'll be honest.  This happens to me.  Too much.
So, problem-solved.  I have a new plan of attack to stay on top of the planning and prep work that goes into teaching.  I've created daily, PRETTY checklists that I'll use to keep track of what I need to do to prepare for the following week.  My goal is to leave school on Friday afternoon ABSOLUTELY prepared for the following week.  Check them out!

One set is personalized for my needs (and just maybe they're your needs too!) and the other set is blank for you to personalize. Click on either picture to head to google docs for your own set.  If you do download, I ask that you please follow my blog by clicking on the join my site link on the right side of this webpage.  The lovely graphics are from  

 I'll check in later this week to let you know how this is working out for me!  I'm motivated to really s*p*a*r*k*l*e in all that I do.  I truly want to be the mom/wife/teacher/blogger who doesn't just do it all, but who does it all with glitter.  Follow my blog to join me on this journey and receive weekly tips, printables, and plans all for FREE!  I'd love to hear your comments about how you plan to s*p*a*r*k*l*e in 2013.

Welcome to those of you who found me through the awesome freebielicious linky party!