November 26, 2015

Feeling Thankful

As usual, I've been MIA during the first few months of school. It always takes me some time to hit my stride and to get into a routine that allows me some time (and the energy) to blog. Lately, however, when I've had a free evening, I've been putting on my PJs and watching Bravo from the comfort of my warm bed. I just can't help myself, now that the weather in Maryland has turned chilly! But, since I'm off for five glorious days on Thanksgiving Break, I thought I'd catch you up on everything that has been happening at home and in the classroom. Warning: this post is guaranteed to be a little random!

As hard as it is to believe, Princess A and Deedle started second and first grades this year, respectively. I'm not quite sure how that happened, but I do know that I am incredibly grateful that they both have outstanding teachers this year.

Deedle with SpurDog, one of THE most amazing first grade teachers I know.

 Princess A with one of my good friends and former teammate. Princess A is so lucky to have her!

The three of us on the first day of school. Getting Deedle to hold still long enough to have his picture taken was more than a notion, but we got it done!

I've also been fortunate to have another group of amazing little firsties this year. I didn't think it would be possible to have another class like the one I had last year, but somehow, it has happened. 

One of my sweet little ones, working diligently on a writing assignment during the first week of school.

My kiddos love some Go Noodle, and I was extremely grateful for it during the first few weeks of school when they were still struggling to get through the day.

This was my third year, incorporating the Daily Five into my Language Arts small group rotations, and I'll tell you, it gets easier and easier every year. My little guys took to it like ducks to water!

Check out that EEK position! Nothing makes my heart happier than engaged readers.

Check out this adorable little guy, using finger spaces in Work on Writing!

Thankfully, we were able to get Accelerated Reader up and running much earlier this year than in previous years. And, my grade level finally has an iPad cart to call our own!

It's been so great to see my students so excited to read!

 I love this picture! Nothing better than reading new books outside on a beautiful fall day.

This year, we've also started using PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support) school-wide. Does anyone else out there use PBIS? I think it's so great to use a consistent behavior incentive that all of the students and staff have "bought into". We've had two incentive celebrations this year, and both have been a huge hit (even though our October celebration had to be held inside, due to rain).

Ice pops, free play, beach volleyball, and twins. What could be better?

At our October celebration, the kiddos got to finger paint, color, play limbo, and have a go at a game of Human Hungry, Hungry Hippos. This is Princess A with one of her friends. Love those smiles!

Last week, as part of American Education Week, our school had a Dress as a Professional Day. 

Bet you can't guess what this little cutie wants to be when she grows up. We're twins!

And since it is the time of year to be thankful, I had my firsties write in their Olweus bullying journals about what they are thankful for. 

I adore this picture. This little friend is quite the artist!

As for what I'm thankful for, I am thankful for:

1.) My patient, generous, and secretly hilarious husband (who, I might add, has been putting up with my antics for the past ten years, as of October 16th).

2.) My unique, talented, kind, creative, quirky, healthy children.

My kiddos had perfect attendance during the first quarter! How the heck did that happen?

3.) Fantastic, dedicated, innovative coworkers (and, more importantly, friends!).

This girl inspires me, every single day. Did I mention that she's getting married in July?!?!?!

4.) Running. In the past two years, running has become my absolute favorite thing to do (besides binge watching Bravo, of course, while eating every variety of Angie's popcorn that I can get my hands on). I've run two 10Ks this past year and more 5Ks that I can keep track of. I am planning to attempt my first half-marathon next spring.

Earlier this month, I ran the 10K Across the Bay. It was, hands down, one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had.
5.) Seasonal beer, Kindle books, yoga pants, Chai tea lattes, a clean house, flannel sheets, new shampoo, our Border Collie, and Zenni Optical. To name a few.

If you like hard cider and pumpkin beer, you have to check out McKenzie's Pumpkin Jack.

And now, I'm off to finish up Thanksgiving dinner. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families!

August 19, 2015

Room Reveal

Welp, the inevitable happened...summer ended and I'm back to work. We returned yesterday, and thankfully, we were given the entire day to work in our classrooms (thank heaven for administrators who "get it!"). So, I thought I'd give you a little tour around my classroom!

This is the view to the right when you walk into my classroom. Every year, I frame a collage picture of my kiddos on their first day of school, and the pictures sit on top of my cubbies,

This is the view to the left. I like to put all of my professional knick knacks, awards, and certificates here, along with my favorite teaching quotes.

Here's as much of my classroom as I could fit in the frame. This year, I arranged my student desks in groups of four, and I'm really loving the new setup! 

I'm still waiting for this awesome rug to arrive. No more bickering over the seating arrangement on the floor!

My math manipulative bins always sit on my back counter so that they're accessible whenever the students need them. I include the following in them: Unifix cubes (in sets of ten), counting chips, student clocks, small hundreds charts, and number cards. 

It was super bright this afternoon (I love having a classroom with lots of natural light!), so it was tough to get a good picture, but on the left, I have my Daily Five baskets (with the exception of my Listen to Reading is by my listening area). On the right, I have my Completed Work basket, complete with number clips (so it's easy to keep track of students who forget to write their names at the top of their papers!).

Here is my calendar area, and below it, are my math manipulative bins. A few years ago, I loaded up on Dollar Tree's generic Gladware containers, and I organized and labeled all of my math manipulatives. It has made life so much simpler!

These are the cups for "warm fuzzies" (notice the bag of pom poms on the left). In the past, I challenged each table of students to earn colored counters for making great choices. I decided to mix it up this year. Now, they need to work together to earn "warm fuzzies." The table with the most fuzzies at the end of the week wins a prize from my (much coveted) Prize Box.

This is the cleanest my desk will look all year, so I'm trying to enjoy it while I can.

Here is my back table, all set up for our Get Acquainted conferences. These will take place on Friday and Monday. I used Laura Martin's Meet the Teacher pack, and everything looks AWESOME!

Phew! So, that's my classroom! I'll leave you with a few pictures from the carnival that KShaf and I took the kiddos to last weekend. Nothing says "summer" like a good carnival!

That's my Deedle, with a fresh haircut, enjoying cotton candy...for dinner (yep, I was that parent).

My sweet girl, indulging her sweet tooth.

Somehow, Deedle and Princess A talked us into taking them on the Ferris wheel. I forgot how much I hate Ferris wheels. That is sweat and fear all over my face in this picture. I had to save face, though, in front of my Deedle, who after being strongly encouraged to "Stop rocking the flippin' seat!," turned and said with irritation, "But, Mom! It's supposed to be fun!"

Good luck to all of you who are beginning the new school year in the next few days!

August 11, 2015

My Summer is Just About Over

WAAAAAHHHHHHH! This time next week, I will be back to work and my kiddos will be at daycare. I have such mixed emotions at this time of the year. On one hand, I am so, so sad to see the lazy days with my kids come to an end. But, on the other hand, I'm super excited to start a new school year with a brand new group of sweet little firsties.

In anticipation of starting school in two short weeks, I have been spending the past few weeks, trying to get myself organized and back into the "school groove."

This is what my work bag looks like right now. I should clarify: this is just one of my work bags. My other bag is full of binders. Dear me...

I wanted to give you a peek at some of the projects I've been working on. First, I picked up these two-for-one pocket folders with prongs at Dollar Tree. I was super excited to find them for so little money!

I really wanted to start using writing folders in my classroom this year, and I purchased this fantastic resource from Frogs, Fairies, and Lesson Plans to use with them.

I've also been getting ready for our Get Acquainted Conferences that will be taking place next Friday and the following Monday. I've said it before, but I'll say it again: being given the time to have these conferences each year is FANTASTIC! The conferences help to alleviate a lot of anxiety (for everyone!), and it gives everyone the opportunity to get the school year started on a positive note. Last year was the first year we have held these conferences, and while they went well, I was determined to make sure that they go even better this year! So, I invested in Laura Martin's Meet the Teacher Pack, and I cannot say enough wonderful things about this product! Not only is the resource everything that I had hoped it would be, but when I messaged Laura to ask a specific question about a font that she used in the pack, she responded promptly and politely.

I love the step-by-step signs that Laura created to help guide parents through the whole process!

Aren't these adorable? I'm excited to have a wish list for my parents this year. Parents are always asking what else I need at Meet the Teacher (I know, it's a great problem to have!), and this year, I'll be able to give them specific items that we'll be needing in the classroom.

As I was making labels for my classroom supplies buckets (which, by the way, I got for a steal on Amazon!), I got to thinking about how many stinkin' pencils I bought last year for my students. So, I did what any teacher would have done: I jumped on Pinterest and hunted for ideas! 

At the beginning of the month, each student will get two new pencils with his/her number on them. If a student still has his/her pencil at the end of this month, he/she will get to choose a prize. We'll see how it works! It might save me a trip (or seven) to Dollar Tree.

Finally, I have a reputation, both among my school peers and my county colleagues, for being really (and I mean, REALLY) bad at long-term pacing. Now, don't get it twisted: I'm a natural planner. Just ask my husband. But, when it comes to planning a month at a time? It's just not my thing. I get caught up in the day-to-day fun of teaching, and as a result, I find myself falling behind my teammates. Somehow, I manage to get done what I need to get done, and my students perform well. But, like I said, I get a bad rap. So, I created this simple pacing calendar to keep me on track.

As you can see, I haven't finished mapping out all of September, but I'm further ahead at this point than I usually am! You can grab the blank calendar freebie here.

I still have TONS to do, but I feel like I have a pretty solid headstart. I'm planning to head into my classroom later this week, and once I have my classroom set up and looking purty, I'll be sure to share pictures.

July 29, 2015

Assess Me Linky

Today, I'm linking up with The Tattooed Teacher for her Assess Me! Linky.

Assessments usually get me down, but this is so quick and easy...I had to join in the fun!

So, here goes!

1. I talk constantly, but not to myself.

2. I'm not at all superstitious. The logical part of me won't allow me to be superstitious.

3. I have cracked my knuckles since I was a teenager, and I have the manly hands to prove it.


4. I'm always hungry. I wake up hungry, and I go to sleep hungry. I love food. I finished dinner less than an hour ago, and I'm already thinking about what I'm going to snack on later this evening.

5. My husband and daughter are playing NBA Basketball on the Wii. She is freakishly good at this game.

6. I had my wisdom teeth taken out when I was a teenager. All I remember about the experience is that I was totally knocked out, and when I woke up and tried to walk out of the office, I almost passed out. My mom bought me a chocolate McDonald's milkshake on the way home from the dentist's office. As soon as I walked in the door at home, I promptly threw the entire milkshake up, along with all of the blood that I had swallowed during surgery. It was disgusting.

7. Yes! I actually showered today! It's a mid-week miracle!

8. I've never been to Disney. And, though this may be shocking to some, I have no real urge to go. 

9. I've worn glasses since I was nine years old. My first pair was a tan plastic-rimmed pair, and they were the ugliest things I'd ever seen. Thankfully, glasses have gotten a lot more fashionable over the years.

 One of my fave pairs.

10. I am a life-long Marylander. I love my little state.

Go link up! It's fun and easy!

July 28, 2015


I just looked closely at my calendar for the first time all summer, and it suddenly dawned on me that my summer is quickly coming to an end (for all of you who have already returned, you have my sympathy!).

So, to help you get ready for the craziness that is the Back to School season, I've decided to throw a SALE!

My ENTIRE store will 20% off from August 1st-August 4th, including all Classroom Decor Sets and Teacher Binders. I'm also planning to revamp a few of my best sellers. Is there anything else that you need that I can create for you in time for my sale? I'm feeling creative, and I'd love to make something that will help you out! Just leave me a comment below, and I'll see what I can do!