Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Better Late than Never, Right?

Hello all! So it's been a few days! (again...) The husband and I had a great weekend in Dallas celebrating our first wedding anniversary! Thanks so much to everyone who left such nice comments and well wishes :)

My husband is just fun. Maybe it's why I married him, I don't know ;) But we had such a good time shopping, eating, shopping some more...( I told you it's my favorite sport). I finally got to visit the most glorious of all stores, Ikea. 

*Sigh* It was life-changing. And very crowded. We went on a Saturday afternoon. Not recommended. It was like furniture-Disneyworld-madness-get-me-out-of-here-oh-look-how-cute-and-cheap-that-is. Or at least that's how I would describe it. I didn't actually buy anything for my classroom (shocking, I know!) and instead got two new bookcases and pillows for my living room. They look awesome! And they were super cheap, of course. I made lots of "mental notes" about future classroom purchases, though ;)

Cool little shopping area we went to Saturday night

I also got to visit another one of my favorite places, Half-Price Books. Have you guys ever experienced this place? I love it! Heck, I just love books. But anywho. I was so excited to find some awesome chapter books for my class for just $1! Whaaaa? My poor husband. I am pushing 750 books in my classroom library...but he still bought me more. He's the best :) I ended up getting some much needed titles for fourth grade (or at least in my opinion), including Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Percy Jackson, and Series of Unfortunate Events. Score, right?! I was so excited. 

So it was a great weekend! I drooled over everything at Michael Kors, Pottery Barn, and Cotton On. My faves! And ate my weight in Olive Garden, Five Guys, and Einstein Bagels. Can you tell we don't make it to "the big city" much?? Haha. 

 So I am day late to Monday Made It, but for good reason! This week (among many other random little projects) I made this Voice Levels chart for my classroom. Don't you love those frames from Krista Wallden? I love her stuff. I put it up in my room yesterday but I forgot to take a picture. This is how I assembled it though! I made it nice and big so it could be seen from every corner of my room, and used some sticky tack to attach the arrow to the wall. So simple, right?

And, as you can see, it's up in my TPT store for just $1.00! So go grab it now!
I've also made some pricing changes on several of my products. For example, both of my Spring Writing Prompts packets are just a dollar and All About Earth Day and All About President's Day are down to $2.00. So snatch these up!

Well, I'm off to work on more school stuff and get ready for another workshop tomorrow. Have a great week and head over to Tara's to link up :)

Just for "funzies", the first three comment-ors that leave their email get this voice level chart for free :)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Happy Friday!

Fridays are usually dedicated to Favorite Pins Friday hosted by The First Grade Parade. I love this linky! But this week I am posting something extra special. On Sunday, the hubs and I will celebrate our first year of marriage! July 28th is a magical day :)
To celebrate, today we are leaving for a weekend getaway to Dallas today for shopping, eating, and fun. I can't wait! 
While I'm gone (writing this in advance), I am leaving you with a preview of the gorgeous anniversary pictures we took last week!
Have I ever mentioned that I love my mother-in-law? Well I do! You tend to hear "horror stories" of MIL's, but mine is the complete opposite! She is hilarious and sweet and an amazing photographer. But most of all, she loves Jesus. What a wonderful example she is for me!
To see more of her work, check out her blog: Like Christmas Every Day
There's our baby Lewis making an appearance, of course! Isn't he getting big?!

And one of my favorites (and Lewis's!)...

What do you think? :)

Have a great weekend!


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Throwback Thursday?

In celebration of 500 downloads of my very first TPT product and featured freebie, "If We Were Helen & Anne", I've given it a makeover! Just a pop of color, some improved backgrounds and fonts (it's amazing how your tastes change in just a matter of months), and voila!

This is my little way of saying thank you to all of my followers and customers! Love you guys!

If you haven't checked out this freebie, I definitely encourage you to! It's a fun, hands-on activity that helps your students understand more about what it was like for Helen Keller and her teacher. The activity challenges to students to partner up and attempt to get their partner to accomplish a task, such as clapping their hands or kicking their feet. It's simple, but students are amazed at how hard things become when you can't speak or see! It really made a difference with my second graders when we used it.

This is a sample of some of the task cards that are included:

 Look for even more updated products from me soon :)

Updates {Read to the bottom!}

Hello all! Do you ever look back at something you've made and think What was I thinking? Well that's exactly what happened to me yesterday. I looked back at the best-selling item in my TPT store, my Learning the Continents packet, and thought....yuck. I've definitely come a long way since...when was that...February? Haha. 

So anywho, I've renovated it! New graphics, fonts, colors, and clip art all over the place. I've also made each continent packet have 4 comprehension questions (some only had three) and added an answer key. 

So if you've purchased this product from my store, please re-download it now! I promise you will like it  a lot more ;)

If you have not purchased this product, what are you waiting for? It's on sale, people! This huge packet (31 pages!!!) is originally priced at $10. Mostly because it took me forever to make. But, for a limited time, you can get it for just $7! It includes 7 packets, one for each continent. Each continent packet includes a cover page with a map, a short reading passage, fun facts, comprehension questions, and a puzzle (wordsearch, crossword, etc). Want to introduce your class to the world around them? This is a great way to get it started! Check it out here.

Looking for more geography activities?

Depending on how much time I have before school starts, I may update some more of my products as well.

And as a reward for sticking with me, the first two people to comment with their email will get my Learning the Continents packet for free!


Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday Made It! 7/22/13

Happy Monday! Can you believe there are only a few Monday's left until school starts? Our first day is the 19th, but I have a smattering of professional developments and workshops to attend before then. And guess what? I am so excited. I just can't wait to get started and meet everyone and meet my kids and just....I'm a new teacher, can you tell? Haha. But anywho! My classroom is really starting to take shape. I am itching to post pictures of it, because I am in love! I love the colors I've chosen (blue, green, orange and brown) and my massive, always-growing classroom library. But I still have a few more little things to complete first. 

For this post, I am linking up once again with Tara from Fourth Grade Frolics to talk about my "made-it" project for the week. Well actually I think I made it last week. But that's okay! Inspired by the many posts I have seen floating around the blogging world (post your's in a comment, if you have), I made synonym pockets for my classroom.

Or as I have named it, "Synonym Swap". This station in my room will encourage students that are writing to exchange their "tired" or "dead" words for a new, better synonym. I chose twenty of the words that I thought my students might need help with the most, like: funny, said, cool, good, important, very, mad, give, etc. 

Here's what I did. I started with some pockets I found in my room. I know you can buy much cuter, easier, patterned pockets at a teaching store, but these were free! They were sticky on the back (the teacher before me used them for library books). I cut out squares of scrapbook paper (still using that trusty pack I bought from Hobby Lobby...best ten dollars I've ever spent!!) and glued them on the front. Then I printed out the twenty words I chose and glued those on. To make the synonym slips for inside the pockets, I typed them up, printed them, and glued them on slips of cardstock. Although you could probably print them directly on the cardstock if it was letter sized, which mine was not. Finally, I glued/stuck the pockets onto some posterboard and hung them up in my room where my students would be able to easily reach them. And voila! A Synonym Swap!

 I can't wait to see how my students use this! Just a warning though, it took me a while to make. Lots of cutting and gluing involved! But I am so excited with how it turned out. I think as the year goes on, I will add more and more pockets to it, especially as I get to know my kids and the words they need help with.

So... Do you have a "Synonym Swap" in your room? Or something similar? If so, how do you like it? 

Also, if you leave your email below, I'd be happy to send you my "Synonym Swap" files (including the poster!) for free!
Thanks for reading! And don't forget to link up your Monday Made-It here :)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Favorite Pins Friday and a Freebie!

Happy weekend everyone! Today I am linking up with Favorite Pins Friday from Cara at The First Grade Parade.
I LOVE Pinterest. It's my go-to for everything these days...ideas, projects, school stuff, outfits, recipes, inspiration. I just love it. Speaking of, you should follow me!

Now for some of my favorites...

This pin is from Mrs. Tabb over at Another Day in First Grade. In this post she talks about how she decorated her classroom for under 25 dollars! WHAT. When I saw this pin, I just had to click on it. I wish I could say that's how much I spent on my classroom! However, I was really inspired by her ideas. For example, I love this statement from her:
"I have come to realize that if I have access to butcher paper and a color printer, I can decorate my entire room and barely spend any money."
And honestly, though I have of course spent more than 25 dollars on my classroom, this is so true. Though I did buy a few teacher-store items (Creative Teaching Press borders, Class Job Charts, Welcome poster, etc.), I have found that through blogging and TPT you can make most of the things you need for cheap! Seriously. Between my printer and a $10 pack of scrapbook paper from Hobby Lobby, I have completed so many projects. Like my Chevron Classroom Numbers and Library Labels! Just $1 in my TPT store or free for Facebook fans that comment with their email ;) I also love love her idea about using scrunched up butcher paper as border. Genius!!! Why have I never thought of this? Since reading her post, I've already used butcher paper as borders for two of my bulletin boards in my room. So unique, easy, and of course, cheap! Check out how she does it in her post. Later on, when I post classroom pictures (hopefully soon...) I will show you guys how I adapted her idea.

Another favorite pin! This one's from Eryn at Elementary Organization. Or at least that's where it took me to. I couldn't find it on her blog, so if you do, help me out! I love the idea of Log-In cards for the computer, or even having a set for my own sanity! At my last school, passwords changed a lot, so I don't know if this idea would work. Maybe a dry-erase version? (See- any excuse to laminate!) I'm thinking of making a set for my "technology technicians" once the school year gets started.
And now for a completely un-teaching-related pin...
Otherwise known as confessions of a shoe-a-holic! Haha. And that i definitely am. These beauties linked to Red Dress Boutique. Although they apparently exist there no longer :( Oh well, I guess they'll just be eye candy! But their site still had some cute things to look at (and not very expensive)!
Ahhh. Don't you love that? It's like chapstick for your soul. What a great reminder. I think I pinned this back when I was on the job hunt (not that long ago!). And God certainly answered that prayer! I always appreciate a good reminder to trust Him and His plans. 
Aaaaaaand one final teacher-y pin for the day...
These are file folder lapbooks from Denise at Sunny Days in Second Grade (Super cute blog!) Her post explains them like this: "Lapbooks are file folders with informative minibooks and/or games pasted inside them. They are great for organizing information that students have researched, reinforcing skills taught in the classroom, as a portfolio assessment at the end of a unit, and so on."
How cute, right? It's like a mini scrapbook! What a unique way to combine so  many things...assessment, research, creativity, summary, vocabulary, art....I love this! I can definitely see myself using this idea for a unit or research project. And so much cheaper than posterboard, am I right?
So anywho, those are some of my favorite pins! It was really hard to choose though. I love my Pinterest. I guess I'll just have to link up again sometime! ;) 

Oh, and I almost forgot! I posted a freebie in my store last night! I love inspiring quotes for the classroom. Especially quotes about reading and learning. So I scoured the "interwebs" (as my hubs says) to find my favorites. I typed them up in some cutesy fonts (thank you, Jen Jones) and pasted them on some scrapbook paper and ta-da! They are ready to go! After I laminate them, of course, because I'm a mad woman. But, getting to the point here, I posted the file for free in my store! So go get them and do the same!
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Chevron Classroom Labels!

Hello all! Happy almost Friday! I don't know that I've mentioned it much (I'm waiting for the "big reveal" post), but I'm decorating my classroom in green, blue, brown and orange. 
During the "decor" process I've made a lot of classroom labels in those colors. 
I love love love the free chevron frames from Erin at I'm Lovin Lit. They are adorable and come in 12 different bright colors! You can find them in her TPT store here.
Just for funzies, as I like to say, I've posted three sets of labels in my TPT store. Classroom library genre labels and two sizes of numbers. You can get them right now for just $1 in my classroom colors! 

Or if you are a fan of the Cute in the Classroom Facebook Page, just comment on my post with your email and I'll send them to you for free! Woohoo!
Also, if you really like the labels I've done (pshh...) and I really like you (just kidding) I'll make you some in the colors of your choice. 
Hope you all are having a wonderful week of summer fun and relaxation. Mine has been a good combination of productivity and laziness, if that makes any sense at all :)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Monday Made It! 7/15/13

Hello everyone! I'm excited to share my first linky for Tara's Monday Made It over at 4th Grade Frolics.
I love looking at all the awesome and creative "made its" each week, and I'm finally joining in!
My first post is not very original, and will probably be very short. I am trying desperately to rush through my to-do list for the day in time to get a little pool time in. We'll see how that goes ;)

So after much research and blog-hopping, I finally made my very own Teacher Toolbox! CreateTeachShare is the blog that started this teacher-craze, and I loved her Q&A post. It definitely helped me through the process. Check it out here.

I will tell you this about my toolbox project, it took quite a while to get started! Not living in a huge town with you know, brand name stores besides walmart (sigh). I ordered my Stack-On 22 Drawer Bin online through Walmart.com. When you do this, you actually order it from a place called Plumstruck. Anywho. The box came in (much faster than I thought it would)....but broken :( There was a huge crack in the top, one of the corners chipped off, and one of the drawers wouldn't open. I was pretty upset! So I emailed them, and they graciously refunded my money (which was about $30 with shipping). Thankfully, this past weekend we visited my family in nearby Texarkana (the big city, you know) and I was able to head to a store and get one in person! I tried Lowe's first, but the only one they had was broken. Apparently you have to be very careful with these! Then I tried Home Depot and found tons! So I would definitely recommenced buying there in person. Just to be sure it isn't broken. And it ended up being about $17, instead of $30. So I used some of that money to buy some cute spray paint, of course!
 Note: The Stack-Ons originally come in light gray or dark blue. So if those colors match your room, or you're pressed for time, spray paint is definitely optional.
I bought Rust-Oleum Painter's Touch 2x Ultra Cover in Key Lime Gloss to match my room for about $4. Sweet!

Here is my toolbox "before"....
(please excuse my lazy, unedited iPhone pictures ;) )

And here is my toolbox after! Completed and ready to be filled!

Some notes about my toolbox experience...
I used scrapbook paper and printed off labels for my drawers, then cut them to size as I glued them. I also laminated the labels, because I'm addicted to laminating and because I thought they would be easy to change out if needed. However, it was actually a little too easy! The laminated labels really did not want to stick inside the drawers. So I had to use a lot of hot glue. Hot glue is my first instinct for any project, but if I did it again, I might research I different label method ;)

Also, make sure you're very sure (if that makes sense) about what you want each drawer to be. I ended up switching out two of mine during the process (don't look to closely at the "tape" drawer...) and it bothers me that it doesn't match completely. While the larger drawers are awesomely big, the smaller drawers really are small! Smaller than you might think. So keep that in mind when creating your labels. Don't make a small label for something that's not going to end up fitting in there...like I did! Haha.

Also, I got that scrapbook paper on sale for $10 at Hobby Lobby! Don't you love it? I've been using it for everything in my room. I love the unique-ness of the papers. You'll see it pop up again in next week's Made-It, I believe :)

So anyway, there's my toolbox! I absolutely love the way it turned out. I love organizing and I love school supplies. So you know I am going to have tons of fun filling this thing up and using it in my classroom!

Off to read some "made-its" and hopefully head to the pool while there's still time! (where is summer going??)
Have a great day! And don't forget to link up your made-it here.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Liebster Award - Thankful for new blogging friends!


HUGE thank you to Allison over at Live, Love, Learn in Fourth Grade for nominating me! What a sweet thing to do! This is my first year blogging (and teaching, for that matter!) and I can truly say the blogging world has helped me more than I can say! Having never taught fourth grade, it's so nice to visit blogs like Allison's to hear about what they love and recommend, and to be inspired every single day.

To accept this nomination, I need to...
  • Link back to the blog that nominated me
  • Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers
  • Answer the questions posted for you by your nominator
  • Share 11 random facts about yourself
  • Create 11 questions for your nominees
  • Contact your nominees and let them know you nominated them
 Blogs I am nominating:
Allison's Questions:
 1. If you had to describe yourself using only three adjectives, what would they be and why? 
Crafty- I love crafts, projects, and seeing ideas come to life.
Creative- There is no better feeling than getting that one *awesome* idea for whatever you're working on, and making it happen. 
Enthusiastic- I love teaching. I love what I do. I love what I teach (literacy). And I think that really shows :)

2. What is your favorite stress reliever during the school year? 
Probably dumb television shows. There's nothing better to me than curling up on the couch after a long day and vegging out with some drama-filled, girly TV show ;)
3. Do you use reading workshops in your classroom. If so, what do you think about it? 
Being a first year teacher, I don't have any experience to go from! However, I am loving the idea of reading workshops and can't wait to use them. I heard the idea of reading WS for the first time at a teaching conference I attended last month. It totally changed the way I think about teaching reading, and I can't wait to use it this year.
4. If you could go back and relive one teaching experience you've had what would it be? Positive or Negative. 
Student teaching last year! It was so much fun. And very low-pressure, low-stress ;) Haha. My mentor teacher and I clicked so so well and it made "work" a joy!
5. What are your hobbies?
Crafts, shopping, and reading! And often times, all three of those are linked somehow ;)
6. What is your all time favorite lesson? 
Hard to choose! I really love the activity I used for teaching Henry's Freedom Box this past year. It involved the students "assembling" the body parts of the character- thoughts, feelings, actions, personality, etc. They worked in groups to study the text in depth and complete their character trait. Then, as a whole group we put Henry "back together" and learned more about how to really study and learn from characters in reading. Loved it!
7. What is your all time favorite recipe? 
Almost any recipe from my Mom! I love her cooking. When I got married, she gave me a cookbook with several of my favorites written in and ready. Including homemade mac&cheese, cheese pie, cheese dip, and vanishing oatmeal cookies. My "go-to" recipe is the Easy Beer Bread from Celebrating Home. I love to make it in my bean pot! It literally takes a minute to mix up, and it's delicious! Get the recipe here: http://www.beanpotcookbook.com/beer-bread/
8. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? 
Absolutely, definitely, completely- Europe. Specifically England and Italy :)
9. If you had unlimited money, what would you buy for your classroom? 
Oh my word...where to begin? Books, of course. New, beautiful, matching bookshelves. Rugs, pillows, curtains. Round tables. iPads. The list could go on and on and on...
10. What advice would you give to someone interested in starting a blog? 
Just do it! Why not? Get out there. Do a linky party! It's a great way to get started and find friends and followers. Most of all, share share share. Share you life, share your passion, be yourself. That's what everyone wants to read! :)
11. Are you an animal lover?
I am a lover of MY animal...Lewis. My four month old cocker spaniel that is incredibly spunky and full of life. Not so much other people's ;)
11 Random Facts About Me:
  •  I'm an Arkansas blogger! Born and raised here in the Southwest corner. It's home :)
  • I'm a first year teacher! I just graduate and May and will begin my first year teaching fourth grade literacy!
  • I'm a perfectionist. I go overboard. I'm picky. It's my thing ;)
  • My hubby and I are celebrating our one year wedding anniversary this month on the 28th! So happy and in love. And can't wait to "get away" with him for the weekend.
  • I have a HUGE classroom library. Especially for a first year-er. Between my love for books, and the books left by teachers before me...I ended up with over 700 books this year. Crazy! But I love it.
  • I love to sleep. I could take naps all day! Haha.
  • I come from a family of teachers. My Dad teaches high school history and my Mom is a kindergarten teacher. My older sister is a preschool teacher, and I am now a fourth grade teacher! Crazy, right? 
  • I love TPT and teaching blogs. They have literally changed my "teaching life"!
  • I love desserts of all kind. They're my favorite. 
  • I truly believe no teacher can function without a hot glue gun. I know I can't!
  • I love a good blanket. I keep one on me at home at all times. It's just cozy!
Questions For My Lovely Nominees:
1. What made you want to be a teacher?
2. What keeps you being a teacher?
3. Why did you start blogging?
4. What is your favorite book?
5. What is at the top of your wishlist for your classroom right now?
6. Your favorite store or website for teaching supplies?
7. What is your favorite subject to teach?
8. If you weren't a teacher, what would you do?
9. Something you bought this summer for your classroom?
10. Who is your favorite TPT seller or blogger to read or follow?
11. What advice would you give a first year teacher?

Thanks again, Allison, for the nomination! I am so excited to find new blogging friends through this :)
Oh, and happy Saturday!