Promo Box 1

Promo Box 2

Promo Box 3

Word Work: Is it too much work for you?

I love using Daily 5 in the classroom! If you haven't read that book-- I highly recommend it!

One of my favorite aspects of Daily 5 (other than "Read to Self"-- who doesn't love the sound of children reading?!?) is "Word Work". I have tried Word Work in many different ways, but my favorite way is by using tubs.

Here is how Word Work works in my classroom:

I have 6 tubs (those 6 qt. shoebox tubs with lids from a store like Walmart). Inside of the tubs I include all types of word work materials. Here is an idea list:
  • markers
  • crayons
  • pencils
  • chalk
  • letter stamps/stamp pad
  • letter stickers
  • letter magnets
  • colored pencils
  • Play-Doh
  • sight word flash cards or games
  • a choice chart (this is one of my favorites!)
  • pipe cleaners
  • beads
  • snap cubes
You also have to decide what kinds of "words" will your students work on. I have mine work with spelling words (because it's not something we usually make time for during the day) or vocabulary words. Younger students might work with sight words.

You can always trade materials out on a weekly or monthly basis. Here is an example of a planning guide that I made:
I like it because it insures that I don't let my kids do the same activities over and over again. If I rotate items in & out then they never get old! (Plus it helps you maintain their quality!)

I color code items to match their tub label. So if something is in the "red" box-- I put a red sticker on it. For this I use the colored stickers you can find in the yard sale/boxing area of Walmart. Here are my boxes all labeled and ready to be filled!
You also need to train your students to use the boxes. Go through the right and wrong way to use boxes. Let students model. Observe them the first couple of times they use it. If you hold them accountable, then they will be more responsible.

Here is a picture of some of the items I might leave in the box year-round. These all came from my "blue" box-- so I tried to find a blue expo marker and pencil!

How do you do word work with your kids? I would love to learn about other strategies and styles!
If you want a FREE word work planning guide-- click the picture below!
Lastly, if you want the labels that are on my tubs-- you can find them in my TPT store for only $1. I have also added purple, light blue, black, and rainbow labels!
 Thanks for stopping by!

Paper Problems: How Do You Stay On Top of It All??

Some days after school I just sit at my desk and look around at the stacks of papers. I have some to grade-- some to send home-- some to keep and file-- and then some!

So my question for you is this: What is your paper management style? How do you stay on top of it? What is your favorite organization strategy?

Here are some tips I use. You may also find them useful:
  1. Have students write their class numbers on their papers (especially if you use a paper sorting "mailbox" like I do!)
  2. Grade every day. I know this is a toughie. But even if I skip one day-- the papers will pile up and I will most likely continue to ignore them until it's out of control!
  3. Go through papers as a class. Not ideal-- but sometimes we go through our papers and check our work-- then I walk around and glance over shoulders at scores. You can also "trade and grade"-- but don't do this all the time or parents might get upset. If we go over it as a class then that's less work for me at the end of the day.
  4. Give less worksheets. Shocking, right? But there are many other ways to assess students. Search Pinterest for "formative assessment ideas". Or try here or here for some better ideas!
  5. Invest in a 3-drawer paper tray. There are FREE labels on TPT for "grade", "copy", and "file" drawer labels! All you have to do is print, laminate, and tape/glue! 
  6. Invest in a quality "mailbox" for student work. And I'm not just talking about the cardboard mailboxes you get at the teacher store (You know the ones I'm talking about-- I know you do!) Not only do the ones from the teacher store cost a lot-- they are CARDBOARD. Don't get me wrong-- if you like to spend your hard earned money on cardboard, that's fine. But if you want it last more than 3 years-- consider upgrading.
Now let's talk a little more about these "mailboxes"! My first year of teaching I really, really wanted one. I saw one for  around $50... Well I was so dissapointed because I didn't even have a paycheck-- how was I going to afford one? Lucky for me I had wonderful parents who decided to buy me one as a "classroom warming" gift! I set that baby up-- and it lasted me 4 years. 4 is pretty good, right? By the end of this last schoolyear it was dented, marked on, bending, and scruffy. Time for a new one!

I did a little research and found this "Storex" paper sorter-- made of plastic-- on Amazon. The reviews were mostly by teachers-- and they were amazing! So I made a splurge and bought one! It arrived a few days later-- and I easily snapped the pieces together. I highly reccommend it. I think it's going to last much longer than the cardboard one.

I know the price on Amazon says $98-- but when I bought mine it was $78. So I'm sure the price goes up and down. Just keep an eye out and put it on your wishlist if you want to wait for a better deal. But I'm telling you, it's totally worth it.

Here is how I use my mailbox (very simple):
  1. Each student is assigned a class number at the beginning of the year. Usually based on ABC order by last name.
  2. At first students write their numbers on their papers to help me sort. As the year goes on I can memorize numbers.
  3. I train 2-3 students who love to help (everyone has those kids!) and they memorize all the class numbers. After about a month of school I never have to put papers away myself! The students LOVE doing this-- and it's even become a class job!
  4. If it's a paper I want to keep secret (test scores, etc) I will put them in myself. Or hand them directly to the student and have him/her put the paper away in the mailbox. 
In order to match my classroom color scheme (navy and yellow) I made labels for each slot.

You can download these labels FREE on Teachers Pay Teachers-- and they are even editable if you want to type in student names instead of using numbers!
If you are looking for some in a different color, please let me know and I will work on it!


Date Night Jar (plus free printables!)

My husband and I are the type of people who get stuck in a rut (and we're usually ok with that)-- but I decided I wanted to make something that would encourage us to do something new! Thus-- our "date night" jar.
Here are the materials you need to make your own "date night" jar:
  • Jar (you can also use a jar with a lid or a vase-- really anything you want to be your date idea holder)
  • Spray paint-- 1 color (and 3 different colors of acrylic paint)
  • Twine (or ribbon)
  • Date ideas (these are easy once you start to make a list)
  • Popsicle sticks (or long slips of paper)
  • Sharpie or paint pen
  • FREE date night printables
Sorry there are so many "or" options! This is such a great idea because you can really tailor it to fit your personal style and needs!

So let's make it!

1. Take your jar (or vase) and paint it the color of your choice. I took an old mason jar (bought at a thrift store for like $0.50 and spray painted it a matte pink:

 2. Choose a color scheme for you popsicle sticks. You can paint the entire stick-- you can paint only the tips (which is what I did)-- or you can even dye sticks! The options are endless. I decided to use purple, blue, and green acrylic paint. Choose 1 color to be cheap or at-home dates. Choose the other colors to represent slightly more pricey and expensive/dates that take planning.
3. Download a free copy of the "date jar" printables-- print and cut out your favorite. I've also included 3 lists of date ideas and a blank page to write down your favorites!
4. Once your sticks are dry you can use a Sharpie or paint pen to write down your date ideas.
5. Finish your jar by using twine or ribbon and attaching the "date night" logo.
6. Color in your pricing guide and adhere to the jar (I used tape-- you could also Mod Podge or hot glue)
7. Put sticks in the jar and you are ready to go!
Hope this inspires you and your significant other to have a new perspective on boring, old date night! Enjoy!

Also, if you'd like some more ideas check out my post below:

Five for Friday (Linky Party)

I haven't done one of these in awhile-- and since I'm trying to get back into my blogging habits-- I thought I would participate! Click the pic at the top to be taken to ALL the other fabulous "Five for Friday" blog posts!

This week I made myself a promise that I would try and work on something for my TPT store every day. Even if I didn't get it finished-- or I only worked for 5 minutes on something. I've gotten a LOT done this week! I love making strides! Here are some of my finished products:
This little cutie is one of my favorites! I love dogs-- and anything dog related-- so this baby is packed full of dog-themed games, printables, and MORE! Here are a few previews:

I also finished up a new Journeys Product:
Click the product covers to find out more! :)

I've been obsessed as of late with new school supplies (go figure). I've bought myself the cutest little erasers at Target:
Also-- Amazon has AH-MAZING deals on packs of Ticonderoga Pencils (Like 96 for $13) and 16 assorted Expo markers for $12. I had to get me some of those!
I've been trying to start running again! My goal is to finish a 10K-- but I don't have a running partner. Only my dog. Who happens to have short legs... So is it mean to make her run that entire distance? So far I'm up to 25 minutes at a time-- which is good! My Nike Run app rolled over 500 miles this week-- so that also made me happy!
I finished some crate seats this week. Totally been on my to-do list for 2 years. I just never had enough $ to be able to afford the materials! I made a few-- and I love them already!
I love Donor's Choose! Occasionally I hop on the site and see if there is a project that lacks a small amount of funding- which maybe I could help supply-- before their time limit runs out! If you haven't been to the website-- you should check it out. And if you live in a high poverty area then you should figure out what your students need the most and start a project. I had one funded about 3 years ago for leveled reading books and book bins. It was amazing and so touching to know that people cared!

Not much else-- summertime and the living is easy!

Crate Seats (I'm so behind the times)

 Remember when the idea of making crate seats came out and it was all the rage? Me too. However, I am way behind the times!

I decided that this summer was THE summer I was going to do some cool things for my classroom. One of my pet peeves is students having to drag their chairs back and forth to the small group table. A fellow coworker had made some crate seats about 2 years ago-- and I have decided to join the crate seat bandwagon!

I like to keep it simple (and cheap)-- I made 6 seats for easily under $90.

Here is my supply list:
  • 6 black file crates (or any color you want! Or you can always get spray paint for plastic and paint them!) 
    Pink, anyone?
  • 2 sets of foam (4 pieces per package-- found near the fabric in Wal-Mart)
  • 2 large pieces of 1/2 inch thick plywood (bought at a local lumber store-- I set the crate on top and figured that each piece would make 3 toppers-- so 2x3=6! Yay! 3rd Grade math!)
  • Staple Gun (a carpenter one)
  • Scissors (both fabric & paper)
  • 3 yards of fabric (whatever color tickles your fancy)
Now for the fun part! (Or as I like to call it-- "the part that hurt my hands and knees because I may be getting too old to sit on the floor and do projects"!)

Gather supplies
I opted for slightly pricier foam for comfort reasons :)
All right! Here is how I made them (easy peasy):
1. Measure and cut wood boards to fit just inside of the crate (there is a little lip inside where the file folders would "hang"). I know you can get them cut at most lumber yards (bring the crate with you!) I had a coworker's husband cut mine! 
2. Lay foam on wood pieces (My foam was too large-- so I used my scissors to trim it down) and cut to fit. 
3. Lay out fabric (if you own a dog, vaccum first!) on floor-- then place foam and board on top. 
4. Cut around the board so that you leave a 3-4" border around. 
5. Fold fabric up and use staple gun to staple pieces. Fold corners under. Staple, staple, staple (and pull to keep it tight!)
6. Flip cushion over and put into crate! 

Here are some more pictures:
My classroom colors this year are navy and yellow-- so I bought those colors in fabric. Here is a finished seat:
Yay! Do you have any DIY ideas for the classroom? Or have you done this before? I'd love to read other ideas and tips-- so please leave me some info in the comments below!

Make your Masterpiece (Plus a GIVEAWAY!)

So this week the #TpTSellerChallenge was a great kick to my procrastinating side! I would love nothing more than to sit around and watch reruns of "The Amazing Race" allllll daaaaaay looooong. But this week's challenge required me to make something and then swap products with a fellow seller.

It was just the motivation I needed.

My product is for 3rd-5th grade-- and it focuses on the U.S. Constitution! I loved making it. I have a very similar product already in my store for the Declaration of Independence-- and I've been wanting to work on my government stuff and grow that area!

Here is the finished product:
Click the product cover below if you want to purchase it!
Here are some preview pages:

I teamed up with Kim Solis! She has some great items in her store-- check it out HERE! Her product was made for 3rd grade common core math-- and it focused on the skill of rounding to the nearest 10's and 100's. I loved her packet for many reasons:
  1. It was practical. If you're hoping to save on colored ink but still get quality-- this is it!
  2. It had a variety of practice options for the kiddos (task cards, number line rounding, etc).
  3. It included super cute little rhyme notes that you can cut out and give to your kids to help them remember the rules of rounding.
  4. It was very well put together! 
Here is her product cover-- click on it to see it in her store:
Rounding to Nearest Ten & Hundred- 3.NBT.A.1 **50% OFF**
 Perfect for advanced 2nd graders and on-level 3rd graders!

Now-- here is the best part-- we have decided to give our products away! So be sure to enter our giveaway and don't miss out on this awesome opportunity!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hope you're having a blessed week! 

Red, White, & Blue Celebrations

I saw these super cute cupcakes on Pinterest-- so I decided to have a go at it.
These cupcakes are not only festive, but super yummy! 
And mine:

Of course, mine came out looking nothing like these-- but they still felt festive! I'm not sure how to get that red color using food coloring-- it seemed like no matter what it just stayed pink. There must be a trick I'm missing...

Anyway-- Here is how I made my version of the cupcakes:
1. Buy a white cake mix. I didn't want mine to taste quite like a boxed mix-- so I added 1 extra egg, a few TBSP's of sour cream, 2 Tsp of vanilla, melted butter instead of oil, and milk instead of water. 
2. Mix everything in the mixer.
3. Separate into 3 equal portions. Die 1 portion red & 1 portion blue. Leave the other white.

4. Some people reccomend using icing bags to put the batter into the cupcake liners. I found it easier to just add one color at a time and tilt the pan around. Of course, it never came out as clean as the lines of the one on Pinterest (go figure)

5. Bake (follow time on box)
6. Let cool & Frost

For my frosting I kind of made up my own recipe:
1 stick room temp butter
4 cups powdered sugar
1-2 tsp vanilla
a little bit of milk (it's really touch and go because you don't want the icing to run)

Simply put the butter in the mixer for a minute or 2, add in the vanilla, and then add the powdered sugar and milk a little bit at a time.

I put mine into icing bags and piped it on-- then added some fun sprinkles.

 Lastly, to celebrate the 4th I am putting my entire TPT store on sale until July 6! So be sure to stop by and see if there's anything you can use in your classroom! Click the picture below to check it out!
Got any big celebration plans for the weekend? Feel free to share!
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