Tell All Tuesday: Summer Flashback


Welcome back for Tell all Tuesday, hosted by the fabulous Teach Talk Inspire and My Day in K. This week's focus: Summer Flashback!!!!

Let's head back to a simpler time, shall we? Back to when the kids were sooooo little and the biggest decision they had to make was what flavor of ice cream to get. 

That time was summer 2008. The kids were going into 1st grade, kindergarten, and big kid undies. No body was cornering me with "growing up" questions or rolling their eyes at me, and if they were having a temper tantrum, I could still pick them up and move them to a quiet spot. We are so past all of that now. 

That year was the year we were able to go to Disneyland. We didn't tell the kids where we were going, just "vacation." Hailey, the oldest at 6-years-old, was convinced we were going alligator hunting and climbing mountains. This child does not do well with change or surprises, so even though we were in the "Happiest Place on Earth," she was still mad at us for the first 2 days because she wasn't prepared for it. 

See how little they are?!

We went all out beforehand and got them new pajamas and clothes from the Disney store locally. (Because it's expensive to buy stuff there, y'all!) And I surprised the girls with princess costumes that they wore the whole 2nd day.

There are smiles in these pictures but Little Miss in pink was in a MOOD! 

We ate dinner at different character places and they were so excited to hug everyone of them. 

And this little guy's favorite was…

this guy! 

We watched Cars everyday for the first 5 years of his life. I can quote it. He was only 2.5 when we went, but he still remembers seeing Lightening McQueen and Mater. 

But, y'all, they were so tired! At the end of each day, they crashed and we had to wake them up again in the morning. They refused to nap while we were there so we tried to fit in as much as we could all handle. 

Overall, it was the best trip ever. If I could, I would take everyone back again. Ben's kids haven't been yet and they're all big enough now to ride just about everything. Taking everyone is definitely on the bucket list. 

So how about you? What are some of your favorite summer memories? Share in the comments below or link up with us. Thanks for swinging by and I hope you make some great summer memories this year.

Make Your Masterpiece! Week 3

It's week 3 of the #tptsellerchallenge and this week's challenge is so much fun!

Well, I had started this blog/social media planner to keep track of all the "stuff" that goes along with blogging: scheduling posts, topics, link ups, Facebook, Twitter, Bloglovin', Pinterest… It's a lot to keep up with. And the focus of the challenge has been to shake things up a bit in order to grow our numbers. So…I just uploaded my Blogger Planner and Social Media Calendar to TpT.

Each month is a 2-page spread, with space to write info on blog posts and check off social media posts. Also included is space for link ups and notes.

 The pages look like this:

And they can be bound together as a notebook

The whole month together

Now go stop by our coordinators of this challenge and see what other amazing things have just been created! 

GoNoodle Linky

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Raise your hand if you know about GoNoodle. Now raise it again if you know all about Camp GoNoodle. Holly at Mrs. Ehle's Kindergarten Connections has lots of great info to get you started if you're not sure. I love GoNoodle in the classroom and they have extended the fun for at home summertime moves and grooves. Some of my favorite GoNoodle things are: 

Link up with us and share your favorites. GoNoodle has some fun prizes for a special winner, so link up before the 4th for your chance to win!

Must Read Monday: Math Books


Happy Monday! It's summer so I hope no one has a "case of the Mondays." I'm partnering up with the Kindergarten Connection and Kindergarten Planet to bring you another edition of Must Read Monday. This week's focus is on math books.

In kindergarten, we spend a LOT of time on number recognition and counting. Some of my favorite books to introduce these skills are:

I usually read Chicka Chicka 123 the same week we read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and we do a little comparison of the texts. 123 Peas is another cute intro to counting. And The April Rabbits is out of print (I think) but there are a few on Amazon from independent sellers still. In this book, the main character sees one rabbit on the first of April, two on the 2nd, 3 on the 3rd, and so on. On the last day of April he doesn't see any rabbits, anywhere. BUT, a hippo follows him home. Dun, dun, DUN...

I found this super cute book, Pick a Circle, Gather Squares,  about shapes we see in the fall. We read the book together, then made these super cute fall shape trees. The back of the tree has the number of each type of shape used (8 circles, 17 squares, etc)

We do activities like this throughout the year. We've made shape scarecrows, shape turkeys, shape sandcastles, etc. Thank goodness for die cut machines! 

If you haven't seen Math Start books yet, you should definitely check them out. They have books to cover nearly every topic. 

I was luck enough to have inherited a set from another teacher. They have topics for counting, adding, subtracting, the 100th day of school, capacity, size, time, etc. And they're not seasonal, so when the curriculum map changes, they can still be used! 

I hope at least one of these book is new to you or gives you some ideas. Swing by next week for books on cooperation. Now, head over to the Kindergarten Connection and Kindergarten Planet for more great math books!

Rock Your First Year of Teaching!


Are you new teaching? I remember my first year, I was in my classroom as soon as I could to start setting up. I know if I could do the decorations and room arrangement before PD started, I might actually have time to do all of things I didn't know I wouldn't know to do. (Does that make sense?) There is JUST. SO. MUCH. at the beginning of the year. But you can do it. We've got your back.

There is a whole community out here to help you get started and we've teamed up with tips for you to ROCK your first year of teaching. I'm linking up with Teaching with Crayons and Curls to bring you a few pieces of advice.

Over Plan Everything: I mean everything. If you have downtime, things get chaotic. That being said, if you do suddenly have downtime the first week or so of school, practice procedures, read aloud a favorite book, or review material. Plan on doing things like practicing how to get out and use markers, how to line up, how to hold scissors. Assume they know nothing (especially in primary) and plan to practice everything. 

Make sure you have a plan for what to do if lessons finish faster than you anticipate. It takes time to learn how long a lesson or activity will take. The longer you teach, the easier this will be. Early finisher tubs are great ways to keep the ones who ALWAYS finish early occupied and learning. They can also read (or look at a book for younger kiddos) independently or write/draw quietly. I have an arsenal in my classroom of "extras" just in case. 

Be Flexible: There will be surprises, teachable moments, an assembly you didn't know or forgot about, or you may have to call a class meeting. Always be flexible. Sometimes you may have to stop a lesson, go back, and start over. Sometimes you may have to address something important with you class. Sometimes someone throws up on the rug and the cleaning machine the janitor uses is so loud and distracting you can't carry on with the lesson. Be flexible. 

(If the throw up things happens, and it's bound to happen sooner or later, I've done several things. If it's close enough to recess, we may go out a little early. We may take a restroom break or color/read quietly at the tables. Have a plan. You just never know. Can you tell I've had this happen a time or two?) 

Listen to More Experienced Teachers: Usually, other teachers want to help you succeed. They may do things differently than you do and that's okay. But their experience has driven them to do things a certain way. Listen to and learn from them. They do things for a reason. 

Ignore Advice: Other teachers genuinely want to help you. You don't have to do everything everyone tells you to, but don't ignore it either. It may or may not be your style, but people give advice for a reason. Think about it. tweak it if you need to, but don't ignore it. 

Try To Do It All Your First Year: Teaching is like juggling 30 balls at once. I'm not trying to scare you—you've got this—but I want you to be prepared. Don't try to do it all your first year. Focus on engaging lesson plans, forming relationships with your students, data collection, documentation, and meeting your deadlines. Some schools require teachers to serve on committees their first year, some don't. Please don't sign up for every committee or event your first year. Focus on getting the hang of teaching while maintaining your sanity, then add in extra duties. 

Trust Your Gut: You will get advice from everyone—even non-teachers. You are a smart, educated teacher. There is a reason the state granted your certification. Trust yourself and your gut instincts. Do what you feel is right for your students. Not every new idea, strategy, or technique will work for you and your students. You know your kids better than anyone else in the school. Do what is best for them. 

My first year of teaching, I got advice from everyone and their mother. And none of it was the same from person to person. One person would say, "do this", another would say, "oh never do that!" That's the fasted way to confuse and frustrate someone right there. When I threw out all their well meaning advice and did things the way I knew my students needed it to be done, we started having a blast. I was more relaxed and less stressed, which meant the whole class was happier. I was focusing on what worked best for them and me and we were ALL so much happier. And guess what? They were still learning! 

Trust me, you've got this. You have people out here more than happy to help you out. We ALL want to see you succeed. If you ever need a pep talk, just let me know. ;) Plan, be flexible, listen, and trust yourself. 

Now stop by Teaching with Crayons and Curls to see what other wonderful teachers have to say about rocking your first year. 

3-2-1 Weekend Warriors (Teacher Bio)


Hey there, y'all! It's time for Weekend Warriors! This is my first time linking up and I am so excited to share this month's theme: Teacher Bio!

1) As teachers, I think we all love colored pens. I have a collection at home, at school, in my purse, in my bag, in my suitcase…and no, my own children can't use them. They have their own!

2) I have worked with kids in some capacity for 15 years (daycares, church, special ed, soccer teams), but I have only "officially" taught kindergarten for the last 3 years.

3) At the end of the year this year, our schedules were so jam-packed that I brought back an oldie but goody: DEAR time. (Drop Everything And Read) For those of you youngin's this is essentially Read to Self, but with one key factor: EVERYONE in the class stops and reads, even the teacher. By doing this, teachers model good independent reading time by showing good independent reading. It took a little bit,  but they soon figured out that if I was reading, I would not stop and answer questions, or tie a shoe, or listen to their story about what their puppy did yesterday. We were ALL reading. And they LOVED IT. With all the craziness the end of the year brings, being able to drop everything and read was comforting to all of us. And they loved that I did it too.

1) We have five kids at home. Yes, five. We are a Brady Bunch with him having 2 and me having 3. They are all really close in age (14, 13, 12, 11, 9) and when we go places, we tend to bring the party with us. If they're hyper, we can be really overwhelming. And don't get me started on the after school schedules…

2) I just have to sing along with the radio. I can't just sit in a car and listen quietly, or not have music at all. I think I would die. I love car trips by myself because I can turn it up and belt it out in my off-key, terrible singing voice. (And I don't have to censor the songs with the bad words :) )

Travel anywhere really. I've seen most of the southern half of the U.S. and parts of the east and west coasts, but I would LOVE to go overseas and Europe is stop #1. I'm not picky, I'll go just about anywhere. My dream would be to visit London, Italy, France, Greece, Germany, Spain, you name it. With the Mr.'s job, we can fly free almost anywhere in the U.S. but not abroad and those ticket prices are a bit much for us right now. Someday we'll make it there. 

So that's me. Now it's your turn. Link up with us and share your 3-2-1 bio by grabbing the images below and adding your blog link!

Spotlight Saturday (6/27/15)


Welcome back to Spotlight Saturday! Our host for this weekly linking is Miss Erin from Kindergarten Dragons. If you haven't heard yet, Spotlight Saturday is where we spotlight some of our favorite products and resources for our classrooms. 

This week, I want to share out about our little classroom friend: the Wordapillar. I saw this online and I had to make one for my class. This is a super fun way to practice sight words—no yucky flashcards falling on the floor or being misplaced. The kids can grab a pointer between daily five rotations, or when the phone rings during a lesson, and the whole class can practice together. They don't even need me! They can run this whole thing on their own! :) 

We start off the beginning of the school year with just a head (don't worry, the actual file has his antenna, it just got cut off in the picture) and, each time we introduce a new word, we add it to his body. By the end of the school year, he's quite long and windy but the kids are pros at reading them. Every once in awhile, I like to rearrange the words so they don't get in the habit of memorizing them. 

And while we're beginning to think about going back to school (sorry, I know some of us just finished), let's talk early math centers. I love using play dough for number and letter formation, counting, making shapes, and anything else I can think of. So…I made these play dough mats for making numbers 1-10. You could use play dough, counters, coins, or those cute little erasers at the Target dollar spot—whatever you want! You can get them for FREE in my TpT store. Just click on any of the pics below. 

I hope you enjoy this little freebie. Stop by next Saturday for another Spotlight session and swing by Kindergarten Dragons to see what other resources teachers have found. Have a Happy Saturday!

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