Monday, December 31, 2012

Bringing in the New Year with a Resolution & a BOGO

Happy (almost) New Year!  This year I'm linking up with DeeDee at Mrs. Wills Kindergarten for my Fitness Resolution.  It was a toughie for me to decide which one!  I wanted it to be a resolution I actually have a hope of keeping.  I figured technology is not going to be it (much as a I love technology, my current school doesn't even have functioning computers in the classroom, let alone all the other great stuff I love).  Downtime is much-needed, but I doubt it will be available much as a first-year teacher and first-time homeowner.  I do really badly NEED to get more organized, so that will probably be my secondary resolution!

In the end, I decided to go with fitness.  I'm sure many teachers can relate to working while going through college, working through your field experiences and student teaching, drinking excessive amounts of caffeine through it all, and then finding that teaching consumes your life and you need still more caffeine!  Wake up one morning (after four years of sleep deprivation and caffeine abuse) and find out you're a good fifteen (or thirty) pounds heavier than you were before- yikes!

This year my husband is helping me out.  We are going to try using the Atkins Carb Tracker app on our phones to eat healthier together starting in January!  We heard this app works great from some friends and are very excited to try it out.  It comes with lots of great features and is free, so we'll see!

My kiddos also made some resolutions this morning.  We talked about how a resolution is a special wish that people make on New Year's and work on all year long.  Here are some of theirs:

In other news, I've been sitting on this exciting news all week and I just have to get it out:


(Please excuse the excessive capitalization and exclamation points.  It's just so exciting!  And yes, products as in plural!  Yay!)

So to celebrate my first sales and bring in the New Year, I'm having a Buy One Get One Free Sale on all products at my store!  (Of equal or lesser value, of course).  I just reduced prices so this is a fantastic time to grab my Valentine's and Winter Digital paper packs, as well as some new items I just rolled out:

This sale is only running today and tomorrow (January 1st) so head over fast!  After purchasing your item, email me at and let me know the item that you purchased and the item that you would like to receive for free.  I will email it to you pronto!  Click on either of the two products above to be directed to my store.  

Hope everyone has a wonderful and safe Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Welcome Winter Sale!

Like many of my fellow friends, I'm throwing a sale!  Still haven't finished my winter centers pack (working on that...) but I did create some cute Winter and Valentine's Day themed digital paper sets.  Check them out by clicking on the pictures below!

And, because I got this out so late, I'm extending my sale to run through Wednesday, December 26th.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Holiday Customs & Belated Friday Freebies

Saturday is here and Christmas Break has begun!  Well, in my case it's a 4 day weekend, but I'll take it.  I confess I am very jealous of my peers right now that get a two week break.  But I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and a good break, and I can't wait to see the exciting stuff you create!  :)

What a busy week it has been!  Between practicing for the Holiday Song Program, doing the Holiday Song Program, recovering from the Holiday Song Program, I'm not sure how we accomplished anything at all!  But accomplish we did, and largely thanks to you, my wonderful fellow blogger teachers!  I am so thankful for the great resources you make and share, they were a lifesaver this week for sure!  Here's a look at our week of Holiday Customs Around the World:


Snowflake Craft Stick Ornaments (Parent Gift)

These turned out so great!  I poured some craft (tacky) glue a bowl and they used Q-tips to place glue onto their gemstones.  Then, they put the gemstones onto the craft sticks, which I had previously glued together in the shape of a snowflake.  I attached some cute ribbon so it could hang from the tree and voila!  12 cute snowflake ornaments ready to go!  :)  I found this idea from Thrifty Fun via Pinterest.  There is also a button version of the craft- check them both out here.

They also made hand print Christmas tree cards for their parents.  We used glitter glue sticks to decorate the trees and glittery foam star stickers.  (Note: I do NOT recommend getting your glitter glue sticks from Dollar Tree.  Normally, I love that store, but it seems every time I try to buy highlighters/glitter glue/dry erase markers, they are always dried out.)

Hand Print Menorahs

We made these after reading Runaway Dreidel by Leslea Newman, which was a fabulous book!  We looked through the book and compared the similarities and differences between Christmas and Hanukkah.  I have to say, my kiddos were stuck on eating fried pancakes (latkes).  They thought that was just the strangest idea!  :)  Most of all, though, we focused on how each holiday is a special time for family.

Shape Wreaths

We also made these shape wreaths as a combination math/art activity.

Present Boxes

These are so adorable!  We made present boxes made out of rectangles.  After they glued the shapes together, my kiddos picked a bow they would like on top and I attached a picture of their faces to peek out of the box.  You could also have students draw a self-portrait.  Now these little cuties are spicing up our coat hook and name tag wall!  :)


Rhyming Words

Almost every book we read this week was a rhyming book.  We spent some time identifying the rhyming words, and then generating more.  Here are some words my class came up with after reading Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson.  I also (subtly) suggested that perhaps some of them could try using rhyming words when they write books, so we'll see how that invitation turns out!  :)

Rhyming Mittens

Many thanks to Julie Van Alst at Make, Take & Teach!  I purchased this fabulous activity from Teachers Pay Teachers (which you can find here) and my kiddos loved it.  I have groups of 4 students each, so I gave each student 5 pairs of mismatched mittens to sort and find the rhyme.  Some students preferred to spread them all out at the same time, others preferred to put one mitten down while they looked through the rest in their hand for the match.  With my lower group, I really encouraged them to say the words out loud and listen for the rhyme.

I am considering adapting this activity to be a Memory Match game next week- flip over two mittens and if they rhyme, keep the pair!

P.S. That's my crown.  :)  I started wearing it during Fairy Tales & Legends as a visual symbol for when I'm with a group and cannot be interrupted.  So far it's worked out really well!  We practiced quite a bit what their options are when I am busy: ask a friend, wait, or (in the case of conflict) use words and if that fails, walk away.


I cannot think of a WORSE week to introduce a new topic!  And this is supposed to be the only week we spend on 3-D shapes.  Are they mad?  I am going to use next week to review 3-D shapes, especially considering that half my class will be gone, so it would be pointless to introduce patterns anyway.  This week I introduced 3-D shapes and we read this cute poem daily to help us remember them.  Again, many thanks to Marlana at Lil Country Kindergarten for her post with this cute poem freebie!  I had to adapt it a little since we aren't learning about prisms, but it worked out great.  My kiddos wanted to change the bouncy ball line to basketball or soccer ball, so we changed that as well.  :)

3-D Shapes Poem

Dramatic Play

North Pole

This week my little elves were busy at work building, repairing, and wrapping toys!  I got the wrapping paper from the Dollar Spot at Target and it was the PERFECT size for little hands, no way could they have managed a full-sized roll.  They loved it!  Next year I really want to go all out and integrate literacy too, perhaps by having children's written toy requests to Santa... and maybe some visual directions for blocks on how to build toys... Hmm...


Christmas cookie lacing cards!  Yay!  :)  You can grab these cuties from Karen at PreKinders for FREE by clicking here.

Other Shenanigans

We made our first snowman... (he was very small, due to the absence of packable snow!)

We made our first gingerbread house... (don't laugh!  I am so domestically impaired it's a miracle it stayed up at all!)

And we played an adorable version of Christmas Bingo that Vicki Johnson, over at Green Eyed Girl Crafts, emailed to me!  My cards don't look as pretty as hers do (didn't have time to color them in yet).  Check out her blog post here to grab yours!

We also had our class book exchange.  We played pass the present with one of the presents our elves wrapped this week to Christmas music.  Whenever someone got out, they went to the gift table and grabbed a wrapped book.  The only rule was that it couldn't be your own present!  :)

Here's a look at the great books we read or had available at the Listening Center and Library this week:

Merry Christmas everyone!  I hope you have a wonderful holiday with your family and friends.  Don't forget to grab my Valentine's Day heart background freebies while you're here!  :)

Grab all the other great Friday freebies too!

Freebie Fridays

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

My Thankful Heart {Valentine's Day Freebie}

Nothing like walking into your room on Monday morning to a fresh batch of Christmas cookies and goodies because I'm "the best teacher ever".  :)  I am so blessed to have such a wonderful class!

I have to admit that I'm feeling guilty about posting today.  There are so many families and teachers who do not get to laugh with their children this Christmas, who never get to hug them again.  All I can do is pray that God brings His incredible power to this place and brings healing to all our broken hearts.  It's so terrible, I don't even know what to say or think or do.  I can't comprehend that we live in a world where I have to wonder if my kiddos and I are safe.  All I can do is pray, and pray, and pray.

I am so thankful for my class and their supportive, caring parents; my colleagues and my friends (especially the teacher support I have found from the blogging world) and my wonderful husband and family.  I've been trying to creatively work out my feelings and I put together this heart-themed backgrounds freebie for you all, just to say that I'm so thankful for you and the work you do in the world.  I hope you can use these for your Valentine's Day creations and I can't wait to see the differences you make and the love you spread!  :)  Please click on the picture for your freebie!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Signs of Winter & Friday Freebies

Okay, let me ask right off the bat: is your class going crazy a sign of winter?!?!

Speaking of more signs of winter, it SNOWED this week!  Yay!  Loved teaching my kiddos how to play Fox and Geese in the snow.  It's a shame it wasn't sticky enough to make a snowman, but we did follow these animal tracks all over the playground and had lots of fun speculating what it might have been.  My favorite guess is that it was a baby camel!  :)

Crazy unusual behavior aside, most of this week was wonderful!  We did so many fun and creative things I can't wait to share with you.  Here's a look at our art projects, math, science, and writing center activities, plus great books we read this week.  Here goes:


Snowy Bear Scene

I LOVE how these turned out.  On the day we learned about animals that hibernate, the kiddos cut out a bear and cave that I had traced onto construction paper.  I was a little hesitant about the bear, but I decided to let them go for it and I'm so glad they did!  I can't believe how much their scissor skills have grown this year.  Anyways, then they glued the bear and cave onto a blue background and dipped Q-tips into white paint for the snow.  So cute!

Pine Cone Bird Feeders

On the day we learned about migration, we made these great pine cone bird feeders to help hungry birds on their way south.  :)  We used vegetable shortening in lieu of peanut butter and bird seed.  After they covered their pine cones in Crisco, the kiddos put their pine cone in a Ziploc bag of bird seed and shook it around.  Ta da!

Symmetrical Snowflakes

Forgot to snag a picture!  Anyways, this art project fit in nicely with learning about symmetry.  We used coffee filters to make snowflakes that were symmetrical!  I'm sure everyone's seen how to make these, but if you're a visual learner like me this blog post really helped.


Letter B

We spent some time with letter B this week, doing the usual sky-writing and letter practice formation.  Would have made a bear racing handwriting game but I was so tired this week, I never got around to it!  You can find this worksheet from First School WS by clicking here.

Writer's Workshop

This week during writer's workshop we really worked on the concept of a title.  Somehow during the beginning of the year when we established the concepts of a book, my kiddos missed the notion that a title is just a few short words, not a sentence!  This week we have been focusing on the titles in the books we read.  We have been making predictions about the book will be about based on the title, and I've explicitly pointed out each time that the title gives you a HINT about the book.  We've still got some ground to cover with this concept, but my favorite work from this week is featured below.

I am so proud of this author!  He really struggles with any fine motor activity and at the beginning of the year did not like to write at all.  This week, he worked for nearly twenty minutes on the story below (unbelievable!) because he kept going back to add more details to his illustrations (and yes, he calls them illustrations).  Love it!

The Cow Lost His Home
(originally entitled The Cow Lost His Home and Then He Found It)

Once the cow was going to take a walk on the grass.

And then he was on the grass and he walked so long and he lost his home.

And then he was happy he found his home!

Science & Sensory

Snow Sensory Table

Yay for instant snow powder from Hobby Lobby!  My kiddos loved making snow by pouring water into the powder.  We explored this snow all week in our sensory table in a variety of ways, including for dramatic play with dollhouse people.

Another one of my friends used polyester fiberfill and cotton balls with winter animals in her sensory table.  So fun!

Winter I Spy Alphabet Bottles

Possibly my most favorite science center activity yet!  I made these Winter I Spy Alphabet Bottles using foam letters I found at Rite Aid for $1, Ocean Spray Cranberry Grape Juice plastic bottles, and white tinsel garland.  The four bottles were marked on top with a different color, which corresponded to which capital letters of the alphabet were inside.

Red: A through F

Green: G through M

Blue: N through T

Yellow: U through Z

The kids loved this activity!  They took a color-coded alphabet recording sheet and got to work using their "scientist eyes."  When they found a letter, they stamped it on the recording sheet using these cute snowflake stampers I found at Mardel for $2.  Get my first Friday FREEBIE and grab your own snowflake color-coded recording sheet by clicking here.

I love using this to combine literacy and science!  I was able to assess a lot about their alphabet recognition from this activity.  For example:

Yeah, she's got it down.

This one also has got it pretty much down.  C could very easily be mistaken for G (especially considering the foam letters I had), but I'm not sure where Z came from!  Maybe it was the M looked at from a different angle?

I am thinking I am going to re-do these in Gatorade bottles, because I want to use some different letters that can't fit down the cranberry bottle opening!  Vanessa at Pre-K Pages has a fabulous I Spy Beginning Sound discovery bottle activity, which is where I got this idea from and you can find by clicking here.


Symmetrical Sticker Sort

This was great!  For math journals this week, we did a symmetrical winter-themed sticker sort.  I found the Christmas shapes foam stickers at Target, and grabbed some other flat winter stickers because nearly all the foam ones were symmetrical.  My kiddos used a piece of yarn that we call "Mr. Line of Symmetry," who helps us figure out if shape is the same on both sides or not.  This was such a great independent activity for my kiddos to reinforce symmetry AND get some more fine motor practice in to boot.  You can grab this second Friday FREEBIE and access this free math journal page by clicking here.

Monster Mountain Math Game

We also played a fun game in our math curriculum, in which there is a game board and students roll a cube with different shapes on each face.  They move their pieces the number of sides that the shape has.  It was great practice for 2-D shape recognition before we move onto 3-D shapes next week!  

I really want to make a cute winter themed version of this game for my Winter Math & Literacy Centers Pack (which I have now begun to despair of ever completing).  There's just never enough time to do what I dream of doing!  Speaking of what I dream of doing, I really wanted a big box for my kiddos to use as a bear den in dramatic play, but nobody in the city seemed to have one.  What's that about?  I found like seven refrigerator boxes in October.  Strange...


Mitten Lacing Cards

This week I added a new item to our manipulatives center: lacing cards!  I made these cute mittens in about ten minutes.  First, I free-hand drew a mitten onto different colors of card stock.  Then I cut them out, laminated them with contact shelf paper, cut out again and hole punched.  Easy peasy and so cute!  I got the cute Christmas and snowflake themed shoe laces for only $1 at Rite Aid.

Here are some of the great books we read this week or had available at the Listening Center:

Have a great weekend everyone!  Don't forget to check out everyone else's amazing Friday Freebies to help you through the holidays!  :)

Freebie Fridays

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

12 in 12!

Happy Tuesday everyone!  Wow, has this week been busy or what?  Feeling rather jealous tonight of my teacher friends who actually get a winter break!  I could definitely use some down time to recharge (and get my Christmas shopping done... why do I always procrastinate about that?!?!)  

Well tonight I'm linking up with A Teeny Tiny Teacher and Ms. Kindergarten for their 12 in '12!  Don't forget to link up too and fill us all in on your year!  

12. Favorite Movie You Watched

Have you SEEN this movie?  You must!  It was so inspiring.  I cried so much at the end, even though I knew what was going to happen.  :(  I can't imagine what it would have been like to personally know such a great man.

11. Favorite TV Series

Favorite book series of this year as well!  :)

10.  Favorite Restaurant

Which, my husband informs me, is not a true restaurant but oh well!  I think I have a salt deficiency or something, because lately I've been getting the Wisconsin Mac & Cheese and adding soy sauce to it.  Yup.  I'm weird like that.

9.  Favorite New Thing You Tried

Teaching PreK!  I was so nervous, especially since I walked into my classroom the Friday before school started.  All year long I feel like I've been playing catch up, but it's been such a wonderful adventure.  I'm so glad I stepped out of my comfort zone with the older grades!  I think now I want to be a PreKinder or Kindergarten teacher for life.  My kiddos amaze and inspire me every day!

8.  Favorite Gift You Received

My new laptop!  Many thanks to my wonderful husband for the early Christmas present.  Love it!

7.  Favorite Thing You Pinned

This is a toughie.  I'm such a Pinterest addict!  I seriously browse through pins for about twenty minutes each morning.  I love getting fresh ideas and it helps my brain get moving.  Unfortunately, I also find so many awesome ideas I keep changing my plans mid-week to try to accommodate them!  So I just don't know, I have so many!

My current favorite pin is actually not even teacher-related.  It's about how to make repeating background patterns in Photoshop, which is my current obsession!

6.  Favorite Blog Post

Well I don't have very many to choose from yet, but I suppose my favorite so far is Fun with Fairy Tales.  I loved teaching this unit, particularly because I saw so much growth in my kiddos during writer's workshop this week.  And I like the snowflake backgrounds I made for a freebie, too.  :)

5.  Favorite Accomplishment

Buying our first house!  It's so nice not having to walk up fifty million steps with groceries and being able to park in the garage!

4.  Favorite Picture

I want you to imagine, for a moment, a giant pegboard taking up the wall above the stove (no cabinets, no microwave) with kitchen utensils hanging on it like tools.  Yes, the prior owner was a bachelor!

3.  Favorite Memory

I have so many good ones from this year!  I guess my favorite teacher-related memory is when a former parent of my summer school-age class told me that her son had actually gone up DRA levels from the end of last school year to the beginning of this one, and that he had such a good summer and she was so grateful.  I love knowing that I make a difference!  :)

2.  Goal for 2013

I suppose I should carry on my goal from last year, since it didn't really happen... Give up soda!

1.  One Word


Hope everyone is having a great December!  See you Friday!