Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Back to School linky...

Back to school is always my favorite time of the year! Everyone comes back re-energized, goal oriented and looking sharp in their new threads and tans! Plus classrooms are bursting with sparkling, new decor (that surely won't stay that way for long)! Well, for the second year in a row, Jodi at Fun in First Grade has just created an awesome linky just for this time of the year! It's all about your favorite back to school activities. So, here's a little about what going on in my neck of the woods....

Of course I read The Kissing Hand. I usually do this as one of the first activities in the morning. Since I'm at a VERY small private school, most of us already know each other. However, it's still reassuring for those who are a little timid about having a new teacher. Then we trace our hands and form them into the sign language "I love you." We draw a heart and glue it in the middle. Sorry for the poor quality photo!

This is a picture I took of the memory books I make each year. I save this hand and glue it to the cover so they can remember their first day of school.

One of my other favorite back to school activity is making this...

The kids and I get together and talk about what we want to learn this year. This is one of my first opportunities to see what they're interested in, which is always useful information!! As they participate in our discussion, I pass out some paper and a cloud template. I try to keep this conversation very informal. I REALLY want everyone to be honest and not just repeat what their friends have said. Once everyone has had a chance to share (remember, my class size is teeny) I ask the students to trace the cloud. I did try having the kids draw their own clouds one year, but I found they would tend to draw too small. Then they would have a difficult time fitting everything inside. After they trace, they are asked to finish the sentence frame "This year I want to..." and draw a picture. There's absolutely nothing fancy about this activity. All you need to do is make some cloud templates on cardstock and cut some construction paper. I love it because I'm learning about each student in so many ways: how they write, draw, color, trace and cut; what things they're interested in; if they're able to stay on task; who is sharing and who isn't; and if they're comfortable participating in class conversations. And in case you're interested, I use this as a segway into talking about rules and why they're important... We need them so we can accomplish the things we want to do. Otherwise, there would be chaos!

This year, I'm going to be trying something NEW! I've spent the summer creating center after center to use in my class. Again, being in a private school presents a unique set of challenges. Our students tend to be VERY DEPENDENT. One way I try to promote independence is by integrating centers into our routine. Believe it or not, last year was the first year I did this. The result was well worth the time and effort it took me to put them together. Now that I have a small clue as to what I'm doing and how I want it to help, I'm really working on creating! So, if you're interested in a few back to school centers, you should check these out.

As I mentioned in a previous post, these centers are almost identical. The main difference is, of course, the graphics. Other than that, the owl pack includes one additional math center. As a reward for you patient readers who stuck with me and made all the way to the bottom, I'll (again) be emailing the first 5 commenters a free copy of their choice. Please don't forget to leave me your email and tell me which pack you prefer.

So, what are some of your favorite back to school activities? Link up and share!

Best wishes,

Monday, July 30, 2012

Made it Monday and more...

Let's begin with a picture...

This is what my desk looks like. No, not my desk at school. My desk in my bedroom. Can you guess how thrilled my husband is?! This may not look like much, but I can assure you, it is! Plus there's another pile beside my dresser and somehow my baking station (yes, I have a baking station! You don't??) has somehow become my crafting station. I have never bought/made so many things in one summer before!! I'm counting down the days until I get to go back to school and unload all of this crap these goodies!

So today I put the finishing touches on a pinterest inspired (shock) mailbox for myself. My students are ALWAYS writing notes to me or drawing me pictures. And I truly love them all!! The problem is that they put them on my desk.... everywhere.... all the time! I'm hoping this box will become a collecting place for my student made treasures.

I'm not too happy with how my name turned out, but hey. Whose perfect? And I know pink isn't in my polka dot/red/owl theme this year, but it is my favorite color so I had to sneak it in!

All this crafting has even started to rub off on my hubby. He actually wanted to go to Michael's with my this week! I know!! I could hardly believe it either ;) He decided while I was making my mailbox, he would make a bed for our cat. Our cat is strange. Really strange! But in a cute way! He's ADDICTED to cardboard boxes!!!!!! If we bring one home, the second it goes on the floor, his 6th sense kicks in immediately and he comes running into the room. He'll hop inside and play there, scratch at the corners and eventually fall asleep. See, I told you he was strange! Anyways, my dogs usually comes around sooner or later and rips it to shreds (which is so fun to pick up, let me tell you). So my hubbs decided to buy a wooden box. Genius!! And since he was a Marine, he had to paint it camouflage. I think it turned out pretty darn awesome...

I tried to bribe my cat to get into the box, but he wasn't going for it.

When I wasn't busy painting, I was working on my Back to School centers this week. I originally decided to go with a frog theme and call it Leaping into Learning. So that's what I did. BUT, I've had such a great response (thank you) to the owls that I just had to do that, too!

These centers are almost identical. Obviously the graphics are different. There is also one more math center in "Whooo's Ready for First Grade." As always, you can pick these up at my TpT store. Or, the first 5 followers to comment will get the packet of their choice for FREE! PLEASE DON'T FORGET TO LEAVE ME YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS!!! I'm a lot of things, but a mind reader is not one (although that would be cool)! 

Happy Monday friends! What did you make today? Link up and share!

Best wishes, 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Another one?? You're all so sweet...

I've been taking a small break from blogging this past week to focus on, well, everything else. Seems like life takes a bit of a backseat when I'm sucked in to Blog Land! My poor house is cluttered with craft supplies, cat fur, and laundry (don't worry, it's clean and folded, just not put away). During that time, many of you have kept busy leaving comments, shopping at my TpT store and passing on awards. I'm so thrilled to be nominated for The Lovely Blog award.

Thanks so much to the following lovely ladies for recognizing my lovely blog :)

Cyndi at Lacy's Letters

And thanks to Dreamlike Magic Designs for making it so stinkin' cute!!

Now I'm going to take Cathy's advice and nominate 5 others (15 is a little daunting) for this award. I tried my best to really search out some diamonds among the numerous new teacher blogs. So, without further ado...


I want to sincerely thank everyone for your support during this exciting new adventure. I know we can all learn from one another and really impact our students!

Before I go, I would like to say one last thank you to everyone who has visited my TpT store. I've been receiving such positive feedback. It really keeps me going!! Creating materials for the classroom has quickly become a new passion and reenergized me like you wouldn't believe!! 

Next week, if I can manage to tear myself away from the Olympics, I plan of hitting my curriculum hard and getting the kinks out of my pacing guide. Why is it that as hard as I plan, I never seem to get through all of my units?! Am the only one?! What do you do to help keep you on track?

Best wishes,

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The home stretch...

I can't believe July is almost over!! It's hard to believe i've already been out of school for a month. The good thing is I've already accomplished so much! Last night I put the finishing touches on my new calendar and classroom labels. I can't wait to get back into my room and set it all up! If you're going with an owl or polka dot theme, check out what I created. May I introduce the Owl and Polka Dot Calendar and Classroom Super Pack (what a mouth full)...

These are just a couple of items! This packet is 125 pages of goodies to use in any classroom. It includes a calendar with all the trimming, alphabet, number line 0-20, daily schedule bulletin, birthday mini bulletin headers, lost tooth poster, reward/incentive chart, color chart with weekly tracker for students, word wall (letters) headers, classroom helpers mini bulletin, OWL student binder cover, and a "Welcome to 1st grade!" pennant banner. There are also blank labels for each in case you need to add something. I hope you'll enjoy these just as much as I am. It's the perfect finishing touch! I've listed it for 5 bucks, but you can grab it until Friday for only 3!

On a TOTALLY unrelated note, I was nominated for another award!! EEEEEEEEE!!!! Thanks to Tina at Laugh Live Love Learn for this beauty...

The 5 blogs I'm nominating for this award are...

The First Grade Scoop (she has super cute freebies you should check out) 
And my absolute new favorite blog... Classroom Couture

Lastly, I just want to say how amazing it feels to have so much collaboration going on. It truly pushed me to keep creating and reinventing new ways to teach old things. I don't know if I would love teaching as much if I hadn't found you all! So thanks! BTW, for those of you who made it all the way to the bottom, the first 5 to leave a comment guess my favorite animal (gee, that's a hard one) will get a free copy of my calendar super pack!

Best wishes,

Monday, July 23, 2012

Oops, I did it again...

I spent waaaaay too many hours blog stalking last week and not enough actually working. This addiction is really overwhelming at times. Hmmmm, maybe I need to go to bloggers anonymous meeting or something. Anyways, besides surfing the web, I did a little shopping for my next Made It Monday. I bought material, styrofoam, candy, a flower pot, some canvases and crayons. This is what I did with them all...

Curtains to hang along my "teacher shelves." My friend helped my since I didn't have a sewing machine. We made 4 curtains. It will be a nice change from the ones I have previously used for 6 years!

After we finished the curtains, there was still a bit of material left. I didn't want to throw it all away so I decided to make some pillows for my reading corner. By this point, my friend was already all sewed out, so I got to make these all by myself! I was so proud!! Hehe

I know we have all seen these before. My classroom is going to me so heavily decorated in black and white polka dots with a hint of red. I thought this sign would add a much needed pop of bright color! I'm not 100% thrilled with how some of the wax leaked under the tape so I may try it again. However, I'm definitely keeping the work try. So many of my students like to say they can't do something before they even try it. Drives me bonkers! If you make this, here are a few tips: 1. make it somewhere that can get dirty or be easily cleaned (I choose my kitchen counter since it's in the middle of a remodel) and 2. use Crayola crayons. I used to cheapies and the wax seemed a little too runny.

This little beauty is another one we've probably seen plastered all over pinterest. However, I liked Rachel's addition of the sign at the top. So, I painted a flower pot, added polka dots and stuck a bunch of dum-dums into a styrofoam ball. Then I created a sign at the top, printed and cut it, and glued it to some straws. Easy peasy! In my class, red is the highest color on the color chart. At the beginning it's pretty easy to get there. I want all students to have the feeling of success. As we get farther into the school year, my expectations rise making red a little harder to achieve. At the end of the day, I reward those on red with a treat. It used to be otter pops, but this year I'm making the switch to dum-dums. Otter pops were awesome and the kids loved them, but they were not given on cold days and sometimes getting to and from the freezer was a task. The dum-dum tree can sit right in my class. Love it!!

So, what did you make??

Link up and show off!

Best wishes,

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Drum roll please...

And the winner is... ME!! Yay! Thanks to the wonderful Ashley at Inspire, Dream, and Create, I have received The Versatile Blogger award! See...

I'm thinking about printing it out so I can hang it on my wall somewhere. Maybe I'll create a frame for the next Made it Monday...

Anyways, thanks again Ashley. It's so awesome to have such a supportive group of teachers out there!! I may be new to blogging, but I have been teaching for a little while now. I wish I had all of these resources when I first began. It is such a please to be able to share my trials and errors in hopes that someone (including me) can become a better teacher.

The fun part of this award is learning some random facts about those nominated.  So, here's a little bit about me :)

1. I can touch my tongue to my nose without using my hands (hey, it said RANDOM).
2. Whenever I paint my nails, I ALWAYS peel the polish off within a couple of days.
3. I have a french bulldog names Boris who I'm pretty convinced is part piglet.
4. I have tattoos, lots of them, and no one at school knows!
5. I love flowers, but can't seem to keep anything alive.
6. I love, love, love baking.
7. When i first met my husband, I told him I would never marry him because of his last name. 

The best part about this award is being able to pass it along to others! The blogs I have nominated for this award are:

Second Grade Nest who, by the way, has a giveaway going on!

Alright folks, I'm off for the night. Can't wait to wake up tomorrow and do it all over again!

Best wishes,

Friday, July 20, 2012

Newbie Bloggers Blog Hop...

Hiya friends! During my daily blog stalking I can across a linky party that is perfect for me and probably many of you! It's for new bloggers!! A way to meet other teachers in your same boat. So, here's to making new friends...

    1.  what state you are in

    2.  your current teaching position
    3.  your teaching experience
    4.  when you started blogging
    5.  share a blogging tip / blogging resource

1. Sunny California
2. First grade (and parts of second grade... long story)
3. 7th year (9th if you count student teaching and a year of substitute    teaching)
4. I tried briefly last year but wasn't committed. This time around, I've been going strong since June of 2012. Go me!!
5. Set a timer!!!! I can't count the number of times I've spent all day/night on here hopping from blog to blog. I would always say, "Just one more..." Now I decide how much time I can afford to spend stalking and I set a timer. When it goes off, I stop. It takes some discipline, but I now have time for the other necessities. Best of both worlds!!

Hope you'll link up so we can get to know more about you! And thanks to Janis at Grade Three if For Me for creating this linky!

Now I'm off to continue working on my calendar and other classroom labels! 

Best wishes,

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

look what I found...

First of all, I want to make a confession... I did it. Yup, that's right. I, Rebecca, jumped on the owl band wagon (obviously, LOL)!! For those of you who haven't, kudos. I don't know how you resist. Since this new obsession has taken over, I have been picking up everything even slightly owl related. Even my husband is bringing things home for me :D So when Erica posted an ADORABLE owl picture on Facebook, I knew exactly what I had to do... Drive around to EVERY Big Lots in the area until I found it! 4 stores and 285 miles later (relax, I went out of town yesterday and they happened to have a Big Lots by the hotel. I'm not that crazy)... ta-da!

If you follow Erica on Facebook, then you probably saw the picture she posted. It was this owl, one other, and a lot of colorful boxes. I assumed (yea, yea, i know. Assuming makes an... I won't say it) the owl was a box, too. The picture was kind of small and I couldn't tell! So when I went to the first 3 Big Lots I was looking for an owl box. I kept finding the colorful boxes that were in the picture with the owls, but not the owls. Then last night when I was on my 4th and final try, I decided to look around the whole store. And there they were... in the jewelry section. Turns out it's a jewelry holder, not a box. I have no idea what I'm going to use it for. I just had to have it!

While on my walk, I also spotted this little gem of a find. It's a school bus shaped box full of 540 motivational stickers... for $2!! I recommend it!

The last thing I found is a giveaway. I know what you're thinking... A giveaway?! On a teacher's blog?!  No way!! BUT it's true! My friend Cassandra over at Adventures in Room 5 has reached 100 followers and is celebrating. So hop on over and show her some support. You may even win a prize! Happy blogging!

Best wishes,

Monday, July 16, 2012

Made it Monday...

I'm so excited ladies! It's my first linky party!! Hope I'm doing this right...

So I've been sitting back for weeks watching all of your overachievers produce adorable homemade goodies while I attempt to resist the urge to learn how to pin things on pinterest. This morning when I rolled out of bed, I realized today was Monday (funny how summer time throws me off so much. The other day somebody asked me what day of the week it was. I said, "July.") and I was going to make something! After milling around Wal-Mart and Michael's for HOURS, I remembered the "read" signs so many of you had made. So, that's what I choose. I bought paint, brushes, glitter, wooden circles and band aids (just in case) and got to work! I even used my husband's saw... all by myself! After a lot of squinting and bending over and wiping, this is my finished product!

I can't wait to hang it in my room! BTW as I was trying to figure out how to join a linky party, I found even more projects that I want to do!! I wonder how long Michael's is open...

Lastly, you should definitely stop by Rowdy in Room 300. She made those adorable burlap signs to hand on her door. If you're not crafty to attempt one yourself (like me), then enter her giveaway! She's giving away 2 personalized signs!! Good luck!

Best wishes,

Saturday, July 14, 2012


September is one of my favorite times of the year for many reasons! I love going back to school and getting to meet my new kiddos. I love the weather. My birthday is on the 8th. Labor Day means yummy food at the Street Fair in Orange. AND we get to learn about apples in class! This is the first time I get to invite parents in to see what we do and lend a hand. We first begin with a KWL chart. I really like the colors Cara from The First Grade Parade used in hers and I plan to do to same this year.

If you click on the link, you can see how she teaches about apples and get some cute freebies!

I also send a letter home to parents asking for apple donations of all colors and sizes. Once we have the apples, we really get to work! We investigate them with our 5 senses, taste them, make patterns, use them as stamps, measure them and much more. We read apple books and make one of our own. The culmination of our apple unit is always making apple sauce! This is one of the days the kids talk about all year long! 

Here are some pictures from the past few years...

Measuring apples on the balance.

Measuring the circumference of the apples with string and writing in their apple shape books.

Peeling apples wearing aprons and chef's hats!
Apple taste test with graph.

Adding ingredients.

Stirring the applesauce. Smells so good!!

Smushing apples with the potato masher.

I have gathered all of my apple resources and assembled them into one unit. It is 35 pages full of centers, worksheets, templates, graphs and more! If you like the sound of these activities, please check it out at my TpT store. Applelicious is on sale for only $1.00 until Friday! The first 15 (since I have 15 fabulous followers) people to comment below will get it for FREE!!

One last suggestion! If you're looking for an apple craft, visit Mrs. Nelson's Class. She created a free template to go with her apple art. Isn't it cute?!

Best wishes,