Saturday, August 27, 2011

Pattern Blocks, Site Words, and Pinterest

While pinning, I saw an idea for practicing sight words using pattern block pictures at First Grade Sweet Life.
My classroom contains hundreds of these pattern blocks, so as soon as I saw this idea I thought to myself  "This is going to work like a charm for both Math and Literacy...YAHOO!"

I am going to print on cardstock (Micheals has a big sale on right now!), laminate and add to our Word Work Station.

 I have searched and searched for printable pictures. VOILA-here is an amazing resource to use. PreKinders has asked that her designs are not shown directly on other blogs/websites. Instead, she has asked that a link to her site be provided and HERE.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Meet the Teacher Monday

I am linking up to the Blog Hoppin' party! This post is a day late, so I may have two posts in one day (to catch up)...

Tell us a little something about you...
I am thirty-something and have been married for fifteen years. We have three wonderful, bright, happy kids; Elizabeth (15), Abbigayle (13) and Logan (8).  We live in rural NorthWestern Ontario (nowhere near Toronto) and love it. Yup, I am CANADIAN! Our nearest neighbour is 1/2 km away and happens to be my brother and his family. I have five nephews and zero nieces. We don't travel but someday I hope we will...this summer we are going to Minneapolis (which is only a 6 hour drive south). 

How long have you been teaching?
I graduated in 2002, supply taught for one year and was hired permanent full time in 2003. I feel very blessed to have been hired so quickly-some teachers wait years before they get perm. f/t in our area. I have taught grades 2, 5, 6/7, 8 rotary and 2/3. Most of our classes in our board are split. I have been teaching 2/3 for the past three years and am staying put because I love it!

 You might not know...
Hmmm....I have a smallish (lol) addiction to online shopping :)  I love (not .ca) (not .ca), Tpt, Kijiji, and now Etsy. I think it drives my husband a little crazy, but I have saved lots of money this way. I also have many, many projects on-the-go...and plan on finishing them up soon.

What are you looking most forward to this school year?
I cannot wait to try out the wonderful ideas that I have hijacked from the wonderful worlds of Pinterest and teacher blogs. I am getting a little overwhelmed and really need to sit down and figure out when to introduce what, but I am excited. I am going to try the Butterfly Project that my awesome Aunt Allyson (k teacher in BC) has told me about and am looking forward to it.

What do you need to improve?
First, organization. I am kinda all over the place. I really need to work on that...
Secondly, not taking on too much. I have been lucky to be part of three action research projects and on different school committees, but am looking forward to concentrating on my class this year by taking a step back...

What teaching supplies can you *not* live without?
Markers, binder clips, clear packing tape and a colour printer. I love markers-they are wonderful and make charts look so pretty. My kidlettes use EXPO markers for whiteboard work-which they love. 
Binder clips. Love them. I use them for Agendas, keeping work together, student boards, to hang sentence strips...I have the black ones and fancy ones from the dollar store. 
I use clear packing tape to cover Journal covers etc...kinda like cheap laminating. It has worked wonderfully well. I also use it to tape down nameplates and number lines.
My colour printer. I discovered an uber cheap seller on eBay who sells 4 cartridges (2 black, 2 colour) for $20 including shipping to my home. Can't beat that.
Don't know if it's a teaching supply, but can't live without my Smartboard. Enough said.

Thanks for reading...I hope I wasn't too rambly...loved linking up to this party.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Welcome Back Prezi

Here is a short (but sweet) Prezi welcoming the kids back to school. It didn't take too long and Prezi has improved some of their features. For example, you can search for an image directly from the Prezi site instead of opening a new window and doing it through Google images.
I plan on showing this on my Smartboard and letting the kids ask questions as we go. Last year, I didn't teach them how to make a Prezi, but I may this year.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Spell with Flickr-FUN with Names

Spell with Flickr is an ultra cool site that Ms Jones from Hello Literacy (100% recommend checking it out) has bookmarked. What a fun idea! All you have to do is type in a word and the site "finds" the letters. The word can then either be saved as a jpg or the html code can be embedded into a blog, website etc.  So many creative possibilities for the classroom...try it out...
 letter K    letter E    letter L    L    letter Y


My example was embedded into this post  : -)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Cranium Club Challenge

Awhile back I blogged about my new initiative, Mrs Kelly's Cranium Club, based on Jack of all Trades Brainiac Club. In a nutshell, Mrs Renz, a fourth grade teacher, created a Mastery Club for her class for all of the early finishers and kids who need that extra challenge. She made 84 questions in different categories including Math, Literacy, Science and Social Studies. She also invited teachers to make their own clubs and now has a few thousand links. So, I decided to give it a try...especially after being inspired by Jack of all Trades.
I used the questions that other teachers posed as a starting point but changed them so that they reflect Ontario curriculum expectations and Canada (ie provinces instead of states, some spelling).
I plan on printing my Cranium Club Challenges on cardstock, which I purchased from Michaels at 3/$10 (cannot beat that) and posting them by my computer station. Kidlettes can complete the challenges on their free time or at home but MUST be able to recite the answers without reading them out of their Cranium Club Notebook. I am using Hilroy notebooks (the uber cheap 4/25 cents ones) for the answers and am in the process of designing a cute front cover. I am also going to shrink the challenges and glue them into the books so that the kids can have the questions with them at home, in the library etc. I haven't included links to sites on the cards because many kids in my class don't have computers, are on dial-up or aren't allowed to use them at home. I plan on showing the kids how to research using the computer lab at the school and will keep a list of links available in the classroom as we "find" them together. I think that showing them how to research is extremely important.
So, a huge THANK YOU to all who have inspired me to do on the picture to go to the document.
Grid to keep track of progress...a sticker or stamp will be added to corresponding challenge as it is successfully completed.
My Math Challenges
The person who started it all, Mrs Renz.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Pinterest Linky Party

I have been pinning away and neglecting my blog :) So much to do so little time. We go back to school on September 7 so I figure that I have pin. lol
I am joining up with Amanda from Plumdoodles (love the name)  Pinterest Linky Party. She is asking that we reflect/share some of our favourite pins, boards, ideas etc. Here are some of the pins that I have made over the past month or so...

1. German Pancakes
These. look. delicious.  My kids looooove pancakes, strawberries and sugar. This recipe reminds me of my Yorkshire pudding recipe so I am extra excited to see how they turn out. I am thinking the first day of school?  Admittedly, I am more of a bleary eyed, Eggo and orange juice mom in the morning BUT I have the best intentions. Perhaps breakfast-for-dinner on the first day of school is a more attainable dream.

2. Magic Playdoh
Well, first off  it's MAGIC. What more can I ask for? Like many of you, I give the kids a little welcome back package on the first day of school. Usually, it consists of  a poem and matching items (choc. kisses, eraser, Smarties, etc). This year, I was looking for something different (new provincial guidelines=no treats). When I saw this idea, I just KNEW I'd have to try it out. I make the playdoh, add a dash of food colouring to the middle of each small individual ball, put them in baggies and attach the poem. Let the fun begin!!

3. Bulletin Board Showcasing Each Student
I am definitely not a good bulletin board person. I find them quite challenging and spend loads of time stalking blogs looking for ideas. When I saw this idea, I thought BRILLIANT-I may have even shouted it out. I have lots and lots of borders, free bristol board and two teens to be bribed help me. My plan is to make one for each kid, which will include their name and photo. We have a laminator at our board office so I can laminate them in Sept. I also have a big bb in the hallway that I plan on hanging these on for the school year to showcase each piece of work. YAHOO!

Btw, I 100% encourage you to check out her blog by clicking on the picture-Victoria has sooooooo many awesome ideas!

4. Last One...
I would like this bedroom. We are in the process of redoing our bedroom and I would like it to turn out like this one. On a budget. With no time to spend on it. Tomorrow.


Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Listen to Reading Solution

Last year, while implementing The Daily 5, I had to rethink my Listen to Reading rotation.  I have a standard 6 person listening centre, but really wanted something more portable for the kids to use. MP3 players to the rescue! I bid on 4 Mickey Mouse MP3 players on Ebay and got all of them for $40 including shipping/handling. 
Brand new MP3 players!

Next, I had to figure out how to get more books on cd so that they could be added to the MP3 players. Hmmm...Scholastic Book Clubs. Each month, they offer at least one book for between $1-$2 so I ordered the specials for a few months. Perfect, now I had books.

My next task was to record someone reading the books so that they could then be put on the MP3 players. Audacity is a free, highly recommended program that can be used for recording. It even includes special features (which I didn't use).  I bought a $12 microphone from Staples and was ready to go.

Lastly, and key to the whole process, the kids were asked to practice one of our new books so that they could record it onto Audacity. This worked really well. Kids practiced until their reading was perfect. We then recorded it, changed the recording into a MP3 format (super easy) and then put 5 books on each MP3 player. Each MP3 player was numbered 1-4. Books that went with the player were given matching numbers and then each set was put in a sturdy Ziploc bag. 

The kids absolutely loved this whole process. I ended up buying cheap headphones for the kids so that each of them had their own.  We also used Leap Pads, computers and 3 Discman's that I purchased from Kijiji for $10/each. This year, I plan on having my fellow teachers read poems into audacity to then burn to cd or put on my MP3 players. The poems will be kept together in books that I bind myself using my binding machine.

What do you do for Listen to Reading in your class?

Monday, August 08, 2011


Top 3 Things Linky Party

Becca at Simply 2nd Resources is having a Top 3 Things linky party. So, what three things am I going to concentrate on this year?

1. Math
Our school board has been concentrating on Literacy for the past five years or so. Our Literacy scores have increased significantly and now I feel that Math needs some TLC. I've noticed that many teachers have been blogging about Debbie Diller's new book, and I am going to buy it! I am also going to go through the new resources that have been purchased by our board (ie read alouds) to supplement.

2. Poetry
I've had an incredibly hard time teaching poetry. I admit that it is one thing I REALLY have to work on this year. I have purchased a Unit from TPT on poetry and am looking forward to using it. I also have to find more poetry browsing books and am on a mission.

3. Start a Book Club
I have been inspired by the online book club for "The Book Whisperer" that has been going on this summer in Blog Land. Therefore, I am starting a book club at my school with my coworkers. Yes, you guessed it, the first book we are going to read is "The Book Whisperer." I hope to do one evening every couple of weeks and take turns hosting the club meeting. It will be a chance to get together, eat appetizers, and chat while reading a wonderful book. SO EXCITED!

It's going to be a very busy year! What are you going to work on? Link up and share.


Saturday, August 06, 2011

Advice for New Teachers

Cindy from Fun in Fourth Grade! is having a linky party where we are sharing words of wisdom to help out new teachers. What piece of advice do I have that may make a new teacher's first year a little easier? Hmmmmm....
1) Sounds silly, but get a good night's sleep. The first year I taught I stayed up past midnight planning, planning, planning so that each day would be perfect. What happened? Well, life got in the way. Things do not go according to plan 100% of the time and when something happened that I hadn't prepared for it was rather difficult to deal with (since I was TIRED from all my planning).

2) Be flexible. This kind of goes with the above tip. Roll with the paunches, so to speak. If life gives you lemons, make lemonade...

3) Make friends with your colleagues but not your students. Teaching is an isolated profession. Make sure that you spend some time everyday touching base with your coworkers.

4) Make time for yourself. Go for a walk, have a manicure or read a non-teaching related book. This is REALLY important so that you don't overload or burn yourself out.

So, hop on over to this linky party and share the advice that you have for new teachers!


Thursday, August 04, 2011

New Look~Same Blog

As I was perusing blogland, I noticed that a member had the same blog as me. Whoops-she has been blogging longer so I changed mine up. This time, I mixed and matched so I hope I avoid this faux pas in the future. Also, wanted to say "Welcome" to my new followers. I have to admit, however, that Leea at Set this Circus Down made my week! She very kindly featured my blog and is encouraging others to check it out. Thank you x 1 000 000!!
I have two of my besties visiting this weekend so don't know how much blogging I'll get done BUT I'll be back on Monday...or sooner (probably sooner as I love blogging).  :)

Before I sign off and get cleaning (lol), I thought I'd show a website that my kidlettes LOVED. It is part of the New York Zoos website and is called "Build Your Wild Self." Kids have an opportunity to add different body parts to a person to make a new "animal"-self. What I especially loved about this site is the description the kids are given at the end. A short paragraph about each chosen animal part is included as well as a new, made-up animal name. The image can be printed or copied and saved. I haven't yet figured out how to save as a jpeg as the site saves in a different format. As soon as I figure it out I'll update. I used this as a centre activity the last week of school and had two kids on computers at a time (that's the number of computers I have in my room). Kids then printed them and included them in their year-end scrapbook. FUN!

Baringo Giraffe horns - The Baringo giraffe is one of the largest giraffes in the world. Sometimes the horns of a baby giraffe are flexible and can be bent. It can take months for the baby horns to straighten out.

Fossa Ears - Your fossa ears are a hunter's best friend. They can help you track down your favorite snack...lemurs.

Giant tree frog arms - Your sticky fingers are actually giant tree frog toe pads. They help you cling to trees and climb vertically anywhere you want.

Siberian tiger legs - You are a very hairy tiger. Siberian tigers have thicker and longer hair than most tigers because they live in Siberia, where average temperatures get as low as -5ºF. Good thing you have a warm coat.

Monarch butterfly wings - Your monarch butterfly wings can beat five times per second. Can you flap your arms five times in one second?

This would be a fun writing prompt or jumping off point as well. The website is FREE and user-friendly.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Currently I am...Linky Party

Farley at Oh' Boy 4th Grade is hosting a think-write-share linky party. This is a great opportunity to share what we are all thinking about and doing right now. Hopefully, she will host these each month!

Whoops-STALKING got lost somewhere on my computer! Here are the three blogs I am stalking:
1) Meet the Dubiens (non teacher)
2) The Teacher's Lane
3) Love 2 Teach

Fun idea, Farley! Thanks for hosting this linky party. Please click my list (above) to go to the linky party!


Tuesday, August 02, 2011

HUGE Sale at Staples Starts Tomorrow

Well, in Canada-fingers crossed it's also in the US. Two pocket folders 10 cents, Hilroy coil notebooks 15 cents, Crayola pencil crayons 1.25, 4 pack lined notebooks 25 cents etc
Be still my beating heart :)

Ways I use pocket folders:
1) Math-kids make title page and glue it on cover, I include hundreds chart, math terms, success criteria and then laminate them
2) Social Studies-same as Math folders
3) Cut in half along spine, laminate, use in Writer's Workshop binder for Edit, Prewrite, Draft, Publish (different colour for each)
4)Supply teacher information-***NEW this year
5)Cut in half along spine, posted with Graphic Organizers for kids to use in Reader's Workshop, Writer's Workshop & Math Workshop

I purchase sets of pencil crayons and crayons for my group "Toolkits." I also make sure to have scissors, glue sticks, EXPO markers (I purchased magnetic whiteboards from Menards a few years ago for $5 each) and erasers in the Toolkits for kids to share. I'd like to include sticky notes, pencil sharpeners and markers this year (depending on sales).

I may not be able to sleep tonight!