Thursday, December 4, 2014

Easy Classroom Funds & a FREEBIE!

Hey all, I'm back! Two days in a row... CRAZY! :)

I have two SUPER FUN things for you today!

The first thing I want to share is a FREEBIE!! I recently hit a milestone on Facebook and promised that when I did I would post a freebie.... so I thought I would share it here too! However, it is NOT available in my TpT store, you it is exclusive to my followers to here to say THANK YOU! Click the picture below to download it from Google Dropbox!

Next, I have a tip for you on how to earn some extra funds for your classroom FOR FREE! and it's super EASY too!

It's a website called Swagbucks, where you can spend between 5-15 minutes a day (or longer, depending on your commitment and available free time) completing some simple activities that earn you Swagbucks that can be redeemed for FREE GIFT CARDS! WHAT!?

I know what you're thinking... too good to be true, right? I know I think that often... but I promise you, this is NOT! I randomly discovered this page one day, and have already earned over $100 in gifts cards to Amazon and PayPal! PayPal... LITERALLY FREE MONEY! It is awesome. You can then use the gift cards for whatever you want... but usually us teachers spend all of our extra money on our classrooms and kiddos, right?

So.. here's how you can get started and some examples of different ways you can easily earn Swagbucks and start getting free gift cards.

First.. you'll need to sign up for the account with your email address and create a username. You can click here to get started. Once you start your account, there are several simple ways to earn.

The first is to download and install the Swagbucks toolbar. It will then automatically earn you one free Swagbuck every day you open your browser!

You can also use Swagbucks instead of Google, Bing, Yahoo, or whatever search engine you use to earn Swagbucks towards those free gift cards. For example:

 Your homepage will look like this once you create your account. Simply type into the search box like I did, and your search results will come up. You might earn, you might not but the more you search the more likely you are to earn! Today, I searched for The School Supply Addict's blog so I could find a tutorial video of hers and I got 14 SBs just for searching through them! 
Next, you can complete some daily tasks. I'll show you these below, color coded by arrows.

The GREEN ARROW is your daily to-do list. Once you have the toolbar/button installed for your browser, it will automatically complete that for you and give you +1 SB. You can also answer a simple daily multiple choice question and BOOM +1 more SB. You can do the NOSO (NO Obligation Special Offers) for +2 SBs everyday. I simply click 'next' through each one, then enter the security display at the end. No more than a minute on that task. Then, the last one can be timely, but it's worth several SBs each day! It's Daily Crave. You click on it and "watch" a series of videos. Each time you click to "Crave On!" you earn SBs. I've earned 6-10 each time WITHOUT ACTUALLY WATCHING THE VIDEOS! Hence the watch in "quotation marks." I simply keep the window open, do some multitasking on other websites or documents or play on my phone until I'm done clicking through. I don't always do these though.. I usually just don't have the time or I forget. No biggie though. The screenshot of this was a day that I did do them, plus a few other things. I already was up to 19 for the day.

The PINK arrow shows you the number of SBs you collected that day. The more active you are, the higher the goal they set for you. If you don't reach that goal, no big deal. If you do, you get BONUS SBs that are awarded around the 5th of the next month. You can rack up those bonuses daily too. If you reach your first goal, they set a second one that is higher, but comes with a higher bonus too. For example, my goal on the above day was 40. If I reached 40 I would get 4 bonus bucks next month on the 5th in my account. My next goal is usaully 100 for the day and I would get a bonus of 10. But like I said, it varies based on your activity. My goal is usually 30 but because I was credited for Shop ^ Earn a day or so before that, I had a higher goal. I'll explain Shop & Earn below in a bit..

The BLUE arrow shows where you can redeem your rewards. More on that in a bit.
The PURPLE arrow is where you can see your earning history and current SB amount. I'm already ready for another free gift card! YAY! I'll redeem that now and show you your reward choices.. you'll love those :)

You can earn one more simple way .. with your phone. Of course, like everything else. There's an app for Swagbucks. Download it onto your phone from whatever store you need for a Droid or iPhone. Then, log in with your Swagbucks username like you do on your computer.
From the app, you'll be notified for the next way to earn... Swag Codes. They are simple phrases that Swagbucks releases on their various social media platforms. You had a set time to enter the phrase by and if you do, you get some SBs, anywhere from 3 to sometimes 7 or 8. Here's an example of one I just completed.

The picture on the left shows the Swag Code they posted on Instagram. I knew to go to IG because the app pop up told me to! I saw the code and the time I needed to enter it by (the app notifies you instantly though) and went to the app to type it in. This code is "SweaterSeason." You have to enter it EXACTLY as shown. Capitals and no spaces. I put it into the app as you see in the picture on the right and instantly earned 3 more SBs. There have been some special days where they release multiple codes in a day for a chance to earn 30+ SBs. Super simple. It takes literally one minute. They can post the codes in these places: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or their blog. (I just click to get to the blog from the homepage, which is the green icon right below your daily to-do list).

You can also earn by taking surveys. I don't usually meet the requirements for them, so I rarely attempt them. Your homepage also has several opportunities, some are quick and free, others are for signing up for something and may cost money. Once, I was able to sign up for Julep, got a free box from them (they are a nail polish subscription company) and got 500 SBs just for doing it! That's a free $5 giftcard!

Lastly, you can use Swagbucks when you are shopping to earn a TON of SBs in one shot! To do it, simply click on "Shop" at the top of your home page. It should be on the far right in the blue toolbar. From there, find the store you want to shop at online. It will show you if that store is eligible and how many SBs per dollar you earn by shopping there. Click the link to the store and it will take you directly to their website. I ALWAYS go through my home page so that I KNOW it opens the shopping ticket for me. From there, make your purchases as usual. I've earned from Microsoft when I bought the latest version of Office for my new laptop, from when my husband and I were traveling, and even on Amazon.

Here's how you can track your Shopping Earnings. On the homepage, go to your name and hover over it. It will drop down several selections, like this.
Click on Shop & Earn. From there it will show you the shopping tickets you have opened (it takes at least a day or so to post them). Then you can choose to see the purchases you have completed. (Again, it takes a day or two to show them). There it will show you how many SBs you earned and when you will receive them. The only downfall is they take 1 month to credit. But I usually find that they are worth it!

Here's what those pages look like:

Above are my shopping tickets. I didn't always make a purchase until I was ready (like you see for Microsoft Store)

There are my earnings through shopping. Some websites are worth more than others. You can see I most recently purchased from Amazon, but they only award certain departments and my books didn't qualify. Those departments change too, so it can be tricky to earn through them but I still always try! They recently updated this section and made it much easier to see your earnings and expected postings! SO NICE! 
Another thing about the Shop & Earns is this - you know that goal and bonus I mentioned above?? Well, your Shop & Earn SBs count for that goal the day you get them! Basically, you get some 8-10 ore SBs just because!

And now, finally, in the words of the amazing Kenny Chesney.... THE GOOD STUFF! 

Once you have 450 SBs, you are good to go on getting a gift card reward. I think with less of them you can spend them to enter sweepstakes to try to win stuff, but I never do. It seems pointless - I never win anything. If you seem to be lucky though, give it a try! 
Anyhow, the more you save up , the bigger the reward you can redeem. It's up to you and your patience level. I am not patient. ha!

So, since I have enough to redeem I'll show you the simple steps. Once you go to the Rewards Store from your home page (the blue arrow above shows you where) you can see what is available. Here's what it looks like:

You can see I can earn a $5 gift card already with my 608 SBs at the moment. Those are what I usually buy.  However, I know they have Target and Starbucks, plus PayPal as I mentioned before. You just need to save some more for PayPal. They also have differing amounts which cost more too. Look around and see what they have. Amazon works for me, but I'm sure there are tons of others!

So, once you decide which one you want, click on it. 
When this screen pops up, click the green button that says SNAG THIS!

It will then ask you to Submit your order. Once you do, you will need to verify that YOU purchased it with your email or the security question you answered when you set up your account. I usually go this route if I am doing it from my computer so I can instantly verify it.

Above, I answered the security question and it shows me right away that I am verified. It also shows my updated SB balance after the purchase. I still have 158 left. In about a week or so, they will email me that I have received the gift card in my Swagbucks account (which you access in the same way as your Shop & Earn) and I can copy the code into my Amazon account for $5 toward any purchase! THAT'S IT!

Here's a look at that page once you get the gift card. You can see I got one not long ago in November and one in October. I like to put them into my account and leave them there for Kindle purchases. That way I always have Amazon money waiting for me... FOR FREE! 

I just counted my total gift card earnings since I started in August of 2013 and so far I have gotten $125 worth just for using their website and doing the things listed above! That's just over a year I've earned that! What I have done isn't nearly what you could do. Some people do it for an hour or so a day doing several other more advanced things. Some people do it to the point the make themselves one gift card per day. They do team challenges you can join, have SwagbucksTV, tons of surveys, and a bunch of other things I just don't have the time for, but I know they also make a lot more SBs for gift cards doing so. Maybe in the summer I'll find time...... yeah, right! If I did, I would totally get the PayPal gift cards for free money to transfer into my bank account! I have done that before and let me tell you, it was great. It just takes patience to save up to 2,500 SBs..... of which I have very little to none.

WHEW! That was quite a long post and tutorial but I hope you found it helpful and that you decide to try it out and join me in earning FREE GIFT CARDS! It's super simple and you can put in as much time as you want. You can use the gift cards for anything you like, including your classroom. What teacher wouldn't love that!? Then, you can refer your friends and earn even more SBs that way! I've never really referred anyone to earn that way, but I know it can make you a lot more!

If you have any questions about it, feel free to ask! Comment below or email me at I'd be happy to help you out because I think us teachers need all the tools we can get to supply our classrooms without breaking the bank!

Have a blessed evening and Happy Swagbucking!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

SnOw Excited!

Hey there friends!
I am SNOW excited for SNOW many reasons!

First of all, we had our FIRST SNOW DAY already this year! It actually happened a couple of weeks ago in the middle of November...WHAAAT!?? I know, right?! It was crazy. I hope it's not a foreshadowing of our NE Ohio winter ahead! I told my Grandpa about it, who lives in Florida now but grew up here. He said, if it stays at this rate, I could be teaching well into July! oi! I sure hope not!

I am also excited because I got the NEW Skippyjon Jones book titled Snow What!

It is just SO CUTE! I got it about a week ago and had to share it imediately the next day morning with my kiddos because I just couldn't wait to show it to them and put it out in the library! They just LOVE Skippy [as we affectionately call him :)] and look forward to every Friday afternoon when they get to find out who goes home with him for the weekend! It bought the Literacy Bag they sell on the official Skippyjon Jones website, plus a Skippyjon Jones stuffed animal from Kohl's Cares (who can beat $5!?)

I'm also excited to show you my new door decor and bulletin board for winter! I just LOVE them both!

Here's my door:

I used teal chevron wrapping paper I bought at Target as the background. I just love using wrapping paper! Do you?? I also used Poppy Red Chevron Border from Creative Teaching Press and broke up the pattern with a plain black border to make the edges really pop. I then used those amazing KG fonts from Kimberly Geswein to make the lettering. I printed the J in white with a black outline in Blank Space Solid and make the Jesus in KG Blank Space Sketch in red. I printed them onto cardstock, cut the out and laminated them. I covered the J in silver glitter to make it stand out. (I love glitter!) The is for is the font KG Always a Good Time. I also made the Legend of the Candy Cane poster with a poem I found online. I used some candy cane clip art from Krista over at Creative Clips to add some extra flair to match the poster I made. My colleague in 4th grade saw the garland at Dollar Tree so I added that on there. Finally, after reading the book The Legend of the Candy Cane to my students, we made our own candy canes and 'Js for Jesus.' They were super simple and yes, I broke out the glitter for them! I know a lot of teachers don't like glitter.. but I just love it! :)

Finally, here is our new bulletin board for winter. It isn't quite done because we have to still do the craftivity and writing, but it's at least up and looks good for now!

I really love this board because I was able to utilize the wrapping paper and red polka dots border I put up at the beginning of the school year. I only had to take down our original board and change the top layer of border to transform it for winter. I have a HUGE bulletin board that takes at least a roll and half of wrapping paper. Plus, I love that blue and white stripe pattern and Target is all out of it, so I wanted to make it last all year! I try to do that often over the course of the school year. I'll be blogging about that soon to share with and show you how I keep that background and borders up year round!
So here's how I made it... again, I used chevron border from Creative Teaching Press, this time in gray. (It had previously been yellow for our Superhero Kids theme). I then just added some foam snowflake cutouts I had randomly around the edges. I printed some snow globe clip art from Krista again at Creative Clips and used KG fonts for my title. The 'If I lived in a" if KG Blank Spaces Sketch again, and "snow globe" is KG Wake Me Up. Again, I printed on card stock and laminated them so I can reuse them! Next week we will work on this craftivity and writing piece since we had some other things to work on this week. I can't wait to show you what they write and come up with! I am still thinking through exactly what I want the craft to look like. Here's some examples I found on Pinterest...

Aren't they adorable?! I'm not sure which one, or combination of them I will come up with. But I'm excited :) I do know I will take their pictures to put in them. They are just too cute :) I pinned a bunch of ideas on my Pinterest board Teaching [crafts] if you want to check out all my pins and pin with me!

Well, that's all of my SNOW excitedness for the moment. What are you SNOW excited about??
Happy December, friends!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Subtraction with Regrouping

Hey there!

I had a SUPER productive Saturday! I cleaned and purged like crazy all day and put out some new decorations (but not Christmas ones yet! I like to wait until after Thanksgiving!) I did several loads of laundry, went grocery shopping, and posted 3 new products to my TpT store.. whew! I am wiped! I wanted to share one of them with you, which also happens to be a FREEBIE! :)

As I was teaching subtraction with regrouping to my 3rd graders last week, I came to these 4 simple words to prompt my struggling little learners. Some of them were really having a hard time figuring out what to do next, so here is what I told them:

First, CIRCLE the bigger number in each place. 
Next, decide if you need to STOP? I teach the rhyme: {Bigger number on top, no need to stop!} If the bigger number is on the bottom {STOP, DROP, and REGROUP!}
Then, TRADE each place (or regroup).
Finally, SUBTRACT.

The words themselves prompt my students and they better remember the steps while having more success deciding to regroup or not. I made this chart as a reminder for them. You can grab it FREE RIGHT HERE!

How do you teach your students to subtract with regrouping? If you have many strugglers, maybe this will help!

Have a blessed remainder of your weekend :)

Friday, October 10, 2014


Happy Friday, friends!

So, today we have a school provided PD in-service all about differentiation. More specifically it was geared toward our Christian classrooms to answer the WHY (or the need) for differentiating from a Biblical standpoint.... it. was. phenomenal!

I have studied "differentiation" already, and it seems to be one of those "buzz words," but honestly and truly it is how God designed us to learn from the moment He created us, and it is the BEST way for us to learn.

I just had to share my excitement with everyone, and say what a great day it was. I took away SO MANY IDEAS (my wheels are always spinning, and usually at hyper-speed) and it reaffirmed a lot the what and the how of my current teaching which I think is always important. We can constantly feel the need to try to "keep up with the Jones'" but we need to remind and encourage each other that that is first, unnecessary, and second, impossible. But what we are doing IS working, it IS "correct" (if you so need to name it that way) and it IS good enough. That was a big realization for me.

God also put this thought into my head. It starts with this small anecdote:
       At our Back to School Open House & Dedication this year my administrator told us about land our school recently purchased so that we can build a new building (we are running out of space!) A local church owned 40 acres and knew that they would never utilize all of that acreage. So, when they heard we were looking for a place to build a building they called our administrator and said they would sell us 10 acres... for $1! They knew that they could not stand before God and answer "I gave you 40 acres, and you did well with the first 10 acres, but what did you do with the rest."

I told that anecdote to tell you this: If you stand before God one day and He says, "You did well, my good and faithful servant. You did well teaching those 1000 students I put before you, but what about Johnny, Sally, and Michael? What did you do for them?"

When He hit me with that, I felt convicted. We have ALL had that student (or students) who challenge us in someway. They need our love and they need our help. They were placed in our classroom for a reason and we need to do EVERYTHING we can to reach and love them all. We may just be all they have.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Happy Fall, y'all!

Hey friends!

Just dropping by real quick to show you my new classroom door decor! It's actually quite simple and will last well into fall :)

I used brown chevron border from Creative Teaching Press with a plain orange border in the middle to break up the pattern, The background is wrapping paper from Target. I enlarged Creative Clips digital clip art for the trees and pumpkins and printed out the letters using the KG Second Chances Sketch font. My students created the leaves. I printed a black-line leaf onto white cardstock. They used tissue paper squares I got at Lakeshore and wrapped them around the end of an unsharpened pencil, dipped them in glue, and stuck them on until the filled it up. It was a sweet, simple craft for a sweet, simple fall door!

Have a blessed fall, friends! :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

It's my BirThDaY! #tamsbirthdaybash

Hey y'all... I AM SO EXCITED! It's my BIRTHDAY!!! WOO WOOO!
I love birthdays!! I am no where near the age yet where I am NOT excited about my birthday in any way.. I still LOVE celebrating it and look forward to the presents!! ;)

I am also so excited for my birthday because I get to celebrate with so many AMAZING teacher friends and want to say THANK YOU for your support, love, friendship, and collaboration in this virtual & social world with a big ol' giveaway bash! My entire TpT and TN stores are on sale beginning today for 28% off!! (they will be on sale through Saturday!) I have TONS of giveaways going on over on my Facebook page through the rest of the week, with 28 total winners and 9 flash freebies for 28 minutes each! It's going to be a GREAT day and week, so make sure you've "liked" my page in order to enter!

The BIG giveaway, in detail:
I wanted to share *a few* of My Favorite Things inside and outside of the classroom... sooo, here's what they are and why they're my faves!

Papermate Flair felt pens & Staedtler Fineliners: I LOVE felt pens! I am very picky about my writing utensils, but these are the best! I especially love them for grading!

Nate Berkus paper clips: I LOVE giant paper clips! They come quite in handy when it comes to teacher manuals. These gold ones from Nate's line for Target are beautiful!

EOS lip balm: I am pretty sure this is everyone's favorite! I chose the passionfruit one because it smells soooo yummy....but the mint is also wonderful

VS Beauty Rush mascara: this is my go-to mascara! It lasts me for a few months and works wonders on my lashes. Plus, it's from VS and is no more expensive than a pharmacy brand!

Scotch washi tape: let's be honest for a minute....pretty much every teacher on IG and TpT love washi tape. So I found some awesome orange & fall-colored designs because orange is my favorite color and I love this time of year!

Ghirardelli caramel chocolates: yuummmmm!

Julep nail polish: in my birthstone color & a beautiful maroon for fall! I love getting my monthly Julep box in the mail! So many great surprises and products for only $20! Click here if you want to get your first box free! Both come in that adorable orange polka dot bag from ipsy. I just love the Ipsy surprises too! only $10 a month for awesome make-up products and samples!? yes, please!

arm candy from The Limited: I buy pretty much ALL of my clothing at The Limited. So, I included some great arm candy to dress up your daily outfits!

soooo... I've decided that my Blogger Buddies can get an *extra* entry by commenting here on my blog! Comment to tell me which of my favorite things is your favorite and what your email is to be entered here! You can also enter on my Facebook page by liking and commenting there!
Follow me on Instagram to get another entry! That's 3 total! GO FOR IT!

The winner will be announced Friday, September 26th at 5:30pmEST before I hit the road to visit my sister for the weekend!


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Erin Condren + post-its = LOVE!

So the other day I was handwriting my lessons on my gorgeous new Erin Condren teacher planner....
isn't it lovely!? {sigh}

when I became frustrated! I wrote something wrong and couldn't fix it! Plus... I am not a big fan of my handwriting and writing them out (seems to) take longer than typing them on the computer. Last year I used post-its and a daily At-A-Glance planner that I loved....

....but it just wasn't enough.

The Erin Condren planner (everyone on IG seems to have one!) is great because it is my calendar, lesson planner, attendance, and grade book all in one! But I still disliked writing my lessons.... until an idea hit me. I opened my desk drawer and found my mini post-its. I laid the stack on top of one of the spaces for a lesson in the week, and low & behold... IT WAS THE PERFECT SIZE! 

So I quickly got to work as soon as I could. I opened a file I have on my computer that has boxes already the size of the mini post-its for another use (I make my students reminders for different things to put in their binder... but I digress...)
 I copied the file and started moving everything around to see what I could fit on one page.
Since there are 7 blocks per day in the teacher planner, I put 7 of the boxes at the top of the page and 7 more at the bottom with a gap between the two to delineate the days. I duplicated the slide (I use Power Point) and added in text boxes. To help myself in the future so I don't get confused while typing, printing, and transferring it into my planner, I put titles by the post-it boxes for the subject they will go on, and labels for the day. I also wrote in (very small) the color that the post-its for that day are, just to help me remember. None of those will print onto the post-its themselves. They will be on the paper. They are just a good reference for me.

Here's what it looked like at first:
sticky note lesson plan template
then, in those gray boxes, I put my transparent text boxes with my lesson info for that day. You can format the font (any font you want!) to be bold, italic, shadowed, outlined, and any size you need! I continually duplicate my slides so everything is in the same format and I only have to change the lesson info.

Here's what a two-day page looks like all typed up:

sticky note lesson plan template

So...once everything is typed for the week, I can start printing. First, I print the blank template, which is slide 1 in the file I shared below (you didn't think I wouldn't share the love, did you!?!)

It looks like this:
sticky note lesson plan template

It is just light gray boxes the size of the mini post-its in the same place as the above slides. I print a few copies of those (so I can print faster) and put the post-its where the boxes are. As mentioned, I use different colors to delineate the days. The top 7 are one color, the bottom 7 another. I use 5 different colors for the 5 days of the school week.

Once all the post-its are on the papers, I insert the paper into the printer and all of my lesson plan info will print right onto the post-its! Then, I transfer them onto my planner, add some washi tape to show where snack & lunch are in our day, and that's it! The whole week is done! Then, when you don't get to something or need to switch it around, just move your post-its! You can also flip them up and write underneath of them, too, if you want additional notes/details, or want to write notes after you teach the lesson for future reference. It's that simple!

You could also use post-it flags for writing the date so your lesson planner is more reusable if you like. I use them under the date for notes specific to that day. and write the date in because I know I will probably use a whole new planner next school year. I use a pack I got at the Dollar Tree that come in a bunch of sizes, are transparent, and are only $1!  
So... here it is, all finished!
sticky note lesson planner

I just love the colors and the neatness of the fonts! What do you think?!

You can get the template for this here! It is a Power Point file :)

You can also view my YouTube video tutorial to see it in action!

I hope you find it as useful as I do and find that the instructions are clear. Feel free to comment or email me at if you have any questions!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Spelling Homework and a Teacher Hack!

Most of us are probably into the full swing of school now, and mean-old-teacher- me is already assigning homework! I have an organizational system I use to keep it streamlined for myself and fun for my students, so I thought I would share! How do you keep spelling homework organized??

First, I use composition notebooks. I usually purchase these for my students since they are primarily inexpensive and it also allows me to prep them before schools starts. Students must complete all homework in the notebook on the nights it is assigned (Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday). They turn it in to me the next day with their S.O.S. Binders and I check them over. [I don't give grades on homework. They do it only for practice so they can have a successful spelling test on Friday and can earn a reward by staying in the Homework Club!]

I made this cover that I have my students color and decorate to their liking. I then use packing tape to tape them on and cover them with it completely so it lasts all year.

On the inside of the cover is a page of guidelines and rules for spelling homework that I also taped and covered with packing tape. 

Next, I put the first month's spelling homework choice menu. I have different options for September to May. This year I am putting them directly in the notebook so they have their choices with them when doing their homework (they are made to fit into the composition notebook). I copied them onto colored paper so they will be easier to locate, especially as we get father back into the book. 

Their Always Good Choices include a practice test (written or verbal), writing words 3x each, writing sentences, or typing their words on the computer. I also put in an option for them to email me their spelling homework to save paper and time!

This is 2 nights of homework that one student completed already this school year. Above is her computer fun words typed and pasted in. The bottom is 3x each in her neatest cursive. I *starred* them when I checked them over with different colored pens so I knew one day was different from the other.

.....and that's it! All I have to do once they are prepped at the beginning of the year is copy the choice menus and glue them in once a month. They have their spelling words in their binder each week, and just choose how they complete their homework at night. I only have to check them over - the rest is done for me! I find it pretty simple and after three years of using this system, I have a great rhythm and love it! I couldn't imagine assigning homework any other way! What do you think!? If you like this system, you can grab it over in my TpT store! Just click the picture below :)

Now, as promised.... a TEACHER HACK!
I saw on Pinterest a great idea for hanging items when there is a lack of wall space.... specifically: anchor charts! One teacher used magnetic hooks and a curtain/tension rod to hang on a magnetic surface. What a great space-saving idea! So I was at Wal-Mart the other morning and was taking a gander at the curtain rod section trying to recreate this idea when I stumbled upon the most magical invention I have seen this back to school season......

IT IS ALREADY DONE FOR US! and ........ drum roll please....
It is only $9! SAY WHAT!? I was so excited I bought it right then, took it to school and hung these babies! Best purchase of the year! GO GET ONE!

I hope you are having a successful start to your new school year!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

SLANT box!

I LOVE being in the SLANT Box exchange! It is soooo much fun! If you don't know what it is, or have never even heard of it, or just aren't sure about it, read more about it here at my friend Jameson's blog - it's so cool!

Last month for June/July our theme was sunshine! Perfect for summer! This month we had to send each other boxes themed for Hometown Pride! I'll admit I was nervous about this one when I first signed up... I'm from a little nowhere town in NE Ohio! But while the Mr. and I were driving to Michigan at the beginning of the month, we talked through some ideas and inspiration finally hit! Granted, I had to go mainly for state pride and Cleveland pride, I still sent a pretty sweet (in my opinion!) box to my new and dear friend Leslie at A Life of Firsts! I also got to chat with and get to know the adorable Emily over at Love and the Librarian! She send me an uber cool box from San Diego I'm about to show you! But right now I'll tell you: go check these awesome ladies out!

So as I just mentioned, Emily sent me an awesome box from San Diego! Since I've never been further west than Michigan (wow, that's sad!) I don't have must experience with the west coast, so I was super excited to paired with her! She sent some really unique pieces from different parts of her town and I really felt a sense of the culture there! She explained each item so thoughtfully too; it was an awesome gift.... so awesome I felt like I had cheated my friend Leslie with what I sent her! haha

Here's the goodies:
some beautiful anchor note cards - LOVE!

a piece of the ocean.. I just love the soothing blue of this starfish!

an attention getting maraca for the kiddos!, a deck of Cali playing cards (Hubby and I love playing cards so these are perfect!) and a medal representing her husband and the active military community.... Thank you to Emily and her husband for their service to our country!

I love the pouches she sent - so unique and colorful! It looks like a great town to go shopping in :)
I also LOVED reading the postcards she sent. She wrote down a lot of information about her area, in case I ever go visit. I will definitely be holding on to those for insider information on where to go and what to see in San Diego! 

She is right! We can never have too many notepads ;) I bet watching the boats is so fun and relaxing!

Last but not least, this beautiful cross. The picture doesn't do the colors justice! I can't wait to take it to school to hang in my classroom. I have been wanting a cross to hang, but never could find one I liked well enough. Thanks to Emily, I have the perfect one and it will always remind me of her! <3

Next month's theme is Teacher Voice: ON! Umm...yes! Teacher themed goodness, I can't wait! PLUS, September is my birthday month so this will be a blast! Sign-ups are on through TOMORROW if you want to join in on the fun!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Classroom Jobs & The S.O.S Binder!

It's back to school time!! Have you started yet??
I started this Monday, but only went for two days. We close because of the local county fair that is right across the street from our school. So I go back after Labor Day! It seems strange to some people to go for just those two days, but it works very nicely - we get the kids and all of their supplies in, we discuss and practice routines/procedures, our rooms are ready, and when we go back we can jump right into the curriculum!

Well, a midst all of this crazy back to school preparation I made some changes to how I manage things in my classroom and thought I would show and share those with you!

The first thing I changed was my "theme." I have an overall colorful, chevron theme going on (with mostly gray and white chevron) but last year I used robots from CTP, the previous year I had owls, and the year before (my first year) I had stars. I wanted to do a nautical theme along with the chevron, but it just seemed like an overwhelming undertaking when I realized I needed to change all of my black accent items to navy. Just tooo much right now. Then I started working on my student take home binders, and out came a Superhero Kid theme (also thanks to Krista Wallden at Creative Clips, because her aDoRabLe superhero kids clipart helped too!)

When I got to the point that I wanted to work on my classroom jobs, I was a bit stuck. I couldn't figure out exactly what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to use the superhero kids for "Super Helpers" and wanted to have enough jobs for each child (since I would only have 15 to 16 in my class -- I know, I know, I'm lucky blessed!) Finally, inspiration struck when I saw what The Tattooed Teacher created with her new classroom jobs! She added in circles where faces should go on some super cute clip art and the effect is awesome! In the circles, you could put student faces or numbers, and BOOM! adorable job system!
So, while we were in the car heading to Michigan a few weeks ago and I saw this creation on her Instagram, I got to work!

Here's how they turned out, once I printed and laminated them!

SOOO CUTE, right!? I am so glad I found her amazing idea, because I JUST LOVE IT! I took my students' pictures on the first day. I printed an extra circle the same size as what I used to cover their faces and traced on the pictures so it was the exact same size. I cut them out, laminated them, and I will use sticky tack to put them up and change them! I can't wait to put the pictures in on Tuesday to see the final product!

Now, to manage the jobs I created something else to go along with them. I decided that I wasn't very satisfied with a weekly job selection anymore. It just wasn't wowing me. So I switched it up and went with a monthly system. I also have wanted to do a "job application" system but I knew I needed to be in the older grades for it to work. Since I get to stay in 3rd grade this year, I am going for it! I worked on a job application one night, and then to help students stay accountable to their duties, I created job descriptions for each job. I no longer have to repeat what every job is responsible for when we apply for jobs or remind students what their responsibilities are. If they forget or aren't sure, they can look through the descriptions before applying! God really gave me inspiration one night and I worked until about 2am so I didn't lose my train of thought!

Here's how it all turned out!

I laminated the descriptions and hole punched them to put them on a binder ring. I hung them on a shelf that is right next to the wall the jobs are on, and under them I added a pocket where the job applications are kept. Everything is in one space-saving spot!
I also made a disclaimer (above) that says that if at any time a student is not fulfilling his/her duties, I can remove him/her from the assigned position! I couldn't resist that little paragraph of enforcement that they are agreeing to when they sign their application! ;)

I also made a poster to remind them to do their jobs and to do their best (so hopefully I won't have to and they will get in the habit of doing them at the end of the day) and also connected it to my classroom verse: Colossians 3:23. In this verse, Paul instructs us to do our best in everything we do so as to honor the Lord, not to please men.

On Tuesday afternoon I was going over the jobs with my new kiddos and told them we would be applying when we came back from our little break. They were so excited they convinced me to let them apply then so I could assign jobs over break. I was excited about having them apply too, so I went with it! I am so glad I did, because their applications are JUST ADORABLE!

This application wants to be hired because she loves me and "wants to help"..... AHH! This group melts my heart! Several couldn't pick, so they applied for anything! Their reasons were well-written and I was so thrilled as I went through the stack. It's going to be so fun, I will be looking forward to this every month!

Now, I also mentioned above The S.O.S. Binder. It's a revamp of my Take Home Binder system I blogged about several months ago in my post "O-H So Organized." It's a way I keep my students organized and I have wanted to post the pack on TpT for a while, but just never got around to putting it all together. One day this summer the term S.O.S. came to me for Super Organized Student and I finally got to work! I was struggling with more inspiration once I had the name and title down, until I thought of using superhero kids for being "super organized." Originally I had wanted to connect into my nautical theme because of "SOS" being a rescue term, but I couldn't find clip art I liked so I stuck with superhero kids, and I am so glad I did!

Slowly, it all started to come together and I worked and worked....and worked until I had the finished product! Here's a peek of how it looks assembled for my students!

 the cover:

a clear pouch for notes/money, my welcome packet for the year,
and S.O.S. Dos and Don'ts for the students:

 descriptions and instructions for the parents and the communication log:

I just used loose leaf notebook paper for the communication log, but the pack includes contact log forms.
Next is the homework log:

I copied my homework log sheets to be double-sided, and because I don't assign homework on Fridays
one page should last about a week and a half!
Then I added in a page for my behavior logs:

my behavior log calendars. I always print them in color on cardstock to remind parents
of the color choice so they aren't confused if their child is always on red.. that's GOOD!

I then have clear page protectors in which I put our weekly spelling lists & Bible memory verse.
This is where I put other homework helpers, project information, and other items students will need.

last but not least, the take home folder! I bought plastic ones this year, in the hopes
they they won't rip out and will hold up all year!

Because I had looped with my last group of students for 3 years, most of my parents knew and understood this system; they were used to it. This group of parents had never seen a system like this before, so I made sure to lay it out in a simple, organized way and walked my students through the entire thing on the very first day. I had RAVE reviews in several communication logs the next day which warmed my heart! 

You can check out the whole pack here on TpT. Everything you see above comes in color and B&W versions and is entirely editable! I inserted text boxes on the cover pages and put my students' names on top of the burst. Cover pages have multiple options and there are monthly calendars included for the whole year (similar to the behavior logs, but those specifically are not included). Once you purchase it you will be able to redownload the updated calendars every year - so you only need to buy it once!
There are several other items also included that I don't use but that I put in by request. So there are lots of options for you and your students!

What do you think!? Do you use a binder system like this? Tell me about it below - I love to hear others' ideas and how they make it work for them in their classroom :)