Saturday, December 24, 2011


Wow! I've been on a pinning binge! Lots of new pins and and boards. I've also included a board for all the blogs I'm following, so be sure to check it out. Pinterest is addicting, so be careful and make sure you have time to spend looking at all the wonderful ideas. You can view my boards at If you need an invite, just request one in the comments below or on my FB page.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Milk Carton Reindeer

Merry Christmas! I hope everyone is on break and is enjoying their time with family and friends. I know I am! If you're anything like me though, you're already looking for crafty ideas for next year's class. Here's one I did at the last minute this year and it was a huge hit!
My class was going to make gingerbread houses with our 4th grade buddies, but due to a last minute behavior nightmare, that was cancelled. None of us were happy about it, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do. Anyway, I was sitting there after school looking at all the empty milk cartons my class had saved for the activity. I couldn't let them go to waste, so I hopped on the internet and looked up milk carton crafts. Surely there was something that was not a gingerbread house. Thankfully I came upon this cute little reindeer (and don't call me Shirley).
Below are step by step photos on how to make this cute little fella that I plan on putting my gift to my students next year. It's a twist on the back to school bags.
Merry Christmas!
Take a brown paper bag and cut it open. You can throw away the bottom panel.

Once you have the bag cut open and laying flat, cut the bag in half. Then cut off the pleated side panel. Save it!

You should have just the flat front panel (and  the back panel) plus two pleated side panels.

The side panel, milk carton, and flat front panel. Ready to go!

The flat panel is exactly the same height as the milk carton. Just lay the milk carton down, fold up an end, and glue it to milk carton. The number on the bottom of the carton is their student number, so I know who it belongs to.

Another view of gluing the bag to the carton.

Keep rolling the carton in the paper bag, gluing the bag to each side as you go along. It doesn't take a lot of glue.

When finished, stand carton up and staple folded side panel to inside of carton to make a handle. 

Add reindeer pieces and voila! The cutest gift basket ever!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Holidays....on the Loop

Looping with  my class has proven to be a wonderful experience! I have seen so much growth in my students and it has truly been a privilege to be with them another year. There have also been a few challenges...namely, finding new holiday activities to do with them! All of the crafts, stories, activities that I'm used to doing this time of year I did with them last year, so I've been looking for new items to fill the need.
A huge thanks goes to my team who gives me a copy of everything they have in their files. I would be pretty  lost without them. Even more so than normal! Yet my independent spirit won't let me rely on them for everything, so I went hunting on the web and found some really cute ideas. My favorite is using water bottles to make snow globes. I'll be making my "prototype" tomorrow to find out all the glitches before we make them on Friday.
I don't do a big food party at the end of the week. In fact, there's very little food at the party. I couldn't stand watching all the food be thrown, chips, candy, was too much. So I have an arts & crafts party. There's one big craft and several smaller crafts. This year, the spotlight falls on the snow globes (prayers for smooth sailing please) and the smaller crafts are:
Icing their own sugar cookies (the sole food item)
Holiday Graph Art
Felt Mice Candy Cane Holders
Foam Ornaments
Parents are welcome to come and help with the crafts. The students always have a fun time and don't miss all the food. They love taking home a bag full of presents to give to their family. In the past, our crafts included:
Beaded Candy Canes
Candy Cane Reindeer
Bag of Reindeer Food
Icing the sugar cookie
Jingle Bell Bracelet

I was also a little stumped about what I would give them for a gift. I usually write their name on an apple ornament and give it to them after it has been hanging on the class tree all week. I thought it would be weird to give that to them again, so I went hunting.... again. I came across the "Student Survival Bags" that most teachers give out at Meet The Teacher to welcome students back to school. I thought, "Why not for Christmas?"  So, this year my students are getting a Christmas Treat bag from me that includes:

Ball: Rolling into a new year with exciting and interesting things to learn.
Bookmark: A reminder to read.
Crayon: You color my world with happiness. I’m glad you’re in my class
Eraser: It’s OK to make mistakes. That’s how we learn.
Hershey Hug: We all need hugs, if you need one let me know. I LOVE hugs.
Lifesavers: To remind you to help each other.
Gum: Always “chews” to do the right thing.
Pencil: This pencil will help you start the year off WRITE!
Smilie Sticker: A reminder to smile because life and learning are worthwhile.

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. Not sure what the blue is, but this sums up what looping with my class is all about. 

New Award :)

I've been awarded the Liebster Award! The goal of the award is to spotlight up-and-coming blogs with less than 200 followers. Thanks Laurie! 

Visit her very cute blog, Chickadee Jubilee. I especially liked her post on 3 Types of Readers :) 

Now for my top 5 picks:
1) My Second Grade Journal
2) A Teacher's Bag of Tricks
3) A Day in the Life of Ms. Kranz
4) Live, Laugh, and Love to Learn
5) The Teacher's Cauldron

Take a hop over to the blogs above and see what you've been missing :)

Monday, November 14, 2011

I know I've been neglecting my blog....but I've been sharing lots of links on my FB page! Don't forget to check it out! There's a great Turkey Scoot Game to play this week, a mini water cycle demonstration that's oh so easy to set up in your science center, and lots of freebies to celebrate the Organized Classroom's 500 fans!

In other news, I have the 6 baby food jars needed to make butter with my class on Friday. Don't know how? Visit eHow for the simple instructions. The students really love to watch the cream turn into butter. I also bring sliced bread to spread it on for a snack. It tastes so good!

Before you know it, we'll be planning for Christmas / Winter parties. I have an arts and crafts party in my classroom. Since I looped with my class, I'm looking for new and easy crafts for them to do this year. what are some of your quick and easy favorites?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Linky Party for Cancer Awareness

Know someone who has cancer or survived cancer? Chances are, you do or you will. I've linked up with Mandy to help spread the word about cancer awareness. Want to link up too? You can by clicking on the ribbon below.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Daily Five

The Daily FiveLots of talk about this book recently on several blogs. I've implemented parts and love the changes I'e made. Does anyone use it in 2nd or 1st grades? What modifications, if any, did you have to make in order for it to run smoothly?
By the way, if you are unfamiliar with the book, Stenhouse Publishers provide an online preview. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

181 and Counting

So, tonight I was looking for FB friend  # 50 and ended up with over 180! I still can't get over the response. Thanks to Sub Hub and The Organized Classroom for helping spread the word. To celebrate, I will be putting together a Freebie-palooza! I'm gathering files from my school laptop and favorite downloads into Google Docs for all my wonderful new friends. Look for the link in the next few days.

Monday, October 24, 2011

New Blog!!

Incredible new blog from Charity Preston, creater of the Organized Classroom. In Charity's own words, "It is a network of websites that contain blog rolls specifically for each grade level, AND they include Pinterest boards to match as well!" What are you waiting for? Head on over now!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Follow me on Facebook

I may not have been posting on the blog, but I have been active on Facebook! Sometimes it's just easier to pass on a link or an idea on my Facebook page, so why not follow me on Facebook and not miss a thing!
Second Grade Two-Step

Monday, October 10, 2011

Where Have I Been?

It seems I've been gone forever! I thought that as I got into the swing of things at school, things would settle down a bit and I would be able to post more often. While some things have settled down, other things have been kicked up and swirled all over the place!
I'm so happy I decided to loop with my class. If you ever get the chance to do so, go for it!! The beginning of the year was so easy! Instead of teaching my class my expectations for behavior, turning in classwork, jobs, etc...I only had to review and remind them. Same thing with the parents. Plus all my reading groups were already set up and most of the stuff I spend hours putting names on was already complete! What a time saver, and I needed every minute!
Work Stations for Guided Math are up and running and I plan to meet with groups (the way I'm supposed to) this week. Same thing for Guided Reading. This may seem like a late start, but with all the beginning of the year assessments that had to be completed, I feel like I'm right on schedule. TPRI, IRI, Math tests, admin meetings, name it!
All in all, this year has had a great start and I'm so excited for the rest of it! The days go by so fast, I hope I can keep up.
What have been your successes so far? What have you struggled with? What do you need help with?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

LOVE this idea!!

Walked into my team mates room and what do I see? The greatest marker storage ever!!! I couldn't stop smiling after seeing her clever way of storing student markers. take a look....

It's an ice cube tray for making ice to go into water bottles! She has one tray for every 4-5 students. I definitely have some shopping to do this weekend. Thanks for sharing Christi!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Thank You Sub Hub!!

Rachel Friedrich of The Sub Hub has named me one of her Top Ten blogs!! I'm super excited! I love reading every else's blogs and all the wonderful ideas. Here are the top ten that inspire me...
Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies

Guided Math


The OC Blog Button

Leelou Blogs

Friday, September 2, 2011

Desk Arrangements

Tired of putting desks in rows or tables? What else is there, you ask? Just check this site out An amazing collection of ways to arrange desks. The plans are even sorted by how many students you have! Just click on the Number of Students headings along the top and be ready to be amazed! I had no idea there were so many ways to arrange desks. The hard part? Which one to try!

Classroom Jobs Linky Party

I'm back! What a great first two weeks. Looping with my class has been an awesome far! It's nice not having to explain everything, we just get right down to business. Like classroom jobs; they already know the jobs and how they're to be done. But that doesn't mean there's not room for improvement. Check out the classroom jobs ideas at Mrs. Dillard's 1st Grade Linky Party. I love her management chart and all the jobs! Lots of other great posts too.
I don't have a job for every student but I do have a boy and girl of each of the following: line leaders (girls lead to / boys lead back); door holders; paper passers; messengers; and helpers. This means about half of the class has jobs one week and the others are "off". I use a small pocket chart with each child's name on a small sentence strip and use clothes pins with the names of the jobs on them. I just move the clips down one spot each Friday. Simple and effective :)
How do you set up classroom jobs in your classroom?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Give Away Apalooza!

WOW! I can't believe all the giveaways that The Organized Classroom has put together! Visit the OC blog to find out how to enter, I know I'm looking forward to (hopefully) winning!!
The OC Blog Button

I'm Back!

It's been a while, but I'm back! Between workshops, setting up the classroom (with no AC), and getting my kids ready for school, I haven't been able to post much. Never fear! I have lots of wonderful ideas to share, so make sure you check out the classroom corral for activities and resources I will be using this year.
At our staff meeting on Monday, we had a really cute ice-breaker that my team decided to use with the class. The original activity used M&Ms, but since we're not allowed to give food to the students, we changed it to colored tiles, unifix cubes, centimeter squares, or other non-edible item. Each student receives a bag of colored tiles: 1 brown; 1 red; 1 orange; 1 blue; 1 yellow; and 1 green and the following instructions: 

"Open your bag and choose 3 colored tiles. Share the following information with your group based on the color of the tiles. If you have 2 or more of the same color, choose more tiles until you have 3 different colors.
Brown = How did you keep cool over the summer?
Orange = What was the best movie you saw this summer?
Red = What is the most interesting thing you did this summer?
Blue = What is one thing you will miss most about this summer?
Yellow = What is the best book you read this summer?
Green = What is one reason you are excited about coming back to school?" 

You can also have the instructions posted in one spot for everyone to read. The students always want to talk about what they did over the summer, and this lets them do just that. 
What are some of your ideas for sharing summer memories?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Neat Feature for Your Blog

If you're like me, your blog is acquiring quite a  list of buttons from other blogs. Reduce the amount of space being used by adding a scrolling widget. It's really neat and can be used for buttons, lists, links, whatever you have too many of on your blog!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Why Didn't I Think of That??

Ever have one of those moments when all you can say is "Why didn't I think of that?"  That's all I could say when I saw my team mate sticking little felt pads to the bottom of the legs on the student desks. A whole lot cheaper than tennis balls and they keep the desks from making that awful noise when pushed on the floor. A pack of 48 is only $5 at Wal-Mart. I use them all the time at home (chair legs, cabinet doors) and starting tomorrow, I will be sticking them to the legs of the student desks. Thanks Melissa!!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Great Site!

During a workshop on Fluency today, the presenters told us about The Florida Center for Reading Research. Click on Instructional Materials for Teachers on the right side to access a wealth of lessons and activities.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Dinner Dilemma

This is not a teaching idea, but it does solve the age old question "What's for dinner?"  I just finished planning all of our dinners for the month. Not making them, just planning them. It seems like a huge undertaking, but it's really quite simple and the time it took to do it will save me plenty of aggravation later. 
This is what I did: I sat down and listed all of the dinners we eat. I made a list of 31 entries. Ok, the list was actually 30 and I doubled up on one. Anyway, the list is 31 dinners in all. Next, I went into Google calendar and created a Dinner calendar where I entered all the dinners. I paid attention not to have tacos, spaghetti, or whatever two nights in one week or too close together. 
Now, I won't come home and stare into the pantry wondering what I'm going to fix for dinner. It's already done. What are some of your organizational tips for the home?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Sweet Give Away

As we get ready for school, it's important to remember to take some time for ourselves (vacation is over yet!).  Mrs. Shepherd has this in mind and is giving away a gift card to Bath  & Body Works. Mosey on over to her blog, My Second Grade Journal to enter.
Taking some time for ourselves is important during the school year too. My favorite escape is reading, especially historical fiction. I can curl up anywhere with a good book. Some of my favorite authors are Diane Geist and Cathy Marie Hake.
I also like to exercise to work out the stress from the day. Did I really just say that? It's true. A quick ride on the bike, zumba, or a kettle bell workout is a wonderful stress release.
So, how do you "get away form it all"? Share your ideas here and lets help each other have a less stressful year!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Clip Chart :)

I've been using a clip chart for behavior management for years now and it works great. This is a great spin on the typical chart. I love how the students move up or down and it's all based on intrinsic motivation and rewards. I will definitely be giving this one a try this year. For more info and photos visit Best. Thing. Ever. at Clutter Free Classroom.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Teacher Discounts

Thanks to Jennifer at Empowering Little Learners for posting this link to stores that give teacher discounts. I had no idea about the clothing stores! Go to Gift Card Granny for more info.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Overwhelmed By The New Of It All

As the beginning of school approaches, I've started getting things ready for the first day / week. And it dawned on me how much was new. Not just new school year kind of new, but brand spanking new. Let me give you an idea:

  1. New grade level
  2. New grade level team
  3. New classroom
  4. New grade level of both the new math and reading adoptions
  5. New curriculum
  6. New schedule
  7. New procedures (HW, guided math, math stations, etc...)
  8. Oh, and the regular new school year kind of new
About the only thing that isn't new is my class. 

While I'm very excited about everything, it can get a tad overwhelming. What's a girl to do? I've just been tackling one thing at a time and enjoying my last few weeks before things get really busy! Can a blog become therapy? I think so. Oh, and chocolate helps :)

Friday Freebies

WOW! I'm amazed at how much free stuff there is on Fridays! I just came across this really cool freebie on Check it out!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Looping to Second

This school year I've been given the wonderful opportunity to loop up to second grade with my class. There are times that I forget this important detail and then it smacks me right on the head....I'll have the same group of kids! How I forget this, I don't know, but I do. Must be the summer heat.

Second Grade is where it all started for me. I did my student teaching in 2nd and loved it. When I was hired on at my first campus, I was placed in 3rd and stayed there for six years. It was a great time, but I was ready for a change. Bigger than I first expected as I changed campuses and grade levels. I taught First Grade for the next 6 years, and am now heading back to where it all began.

So, what have been your experiences with looping? What is a good "get reacquainted" activity the first day of school for a class that already know each other?

Here Goes Nothing

So, I've been watching my friends create blogs and thought, "Hey, I can do that!"  I thought about it and thought about it and wondered what in the world would I write about? And all I did was think about it until I came across the blog Kids Just Write (written by my incredibly talented friend) where she simply said to "just write!" So, no more thinking...I'm writing!