Sunday, August 11, 2013

Who Doesn't Love Fun Mail?

To add a little more fun to my summer, I participated in the Back to School Blogger Exchange from Covered in Glitter and Glue and Adventures of Ms. Smith! I love, love, love fun things like this, so this was a delight and a half!

For this, I was paired with Britney at Tailor-Made Teaching. I was so excited to see my package sitting next to my mailbox at school!

Here's a quick, not-so-artistic snapshot of my goodies! 

Of course, I kept the duct tape, cute Thank You stamp, chevron washi tape and Scentos marker at school! I can't wait to pretty-up some clothespins with the chevron washi tape! The nail polish (although I may or may not have painted my nails at school once) and the lotion made the trek home with me! Yay!

Thank you, thank you, thank you to Britney for my super cute collection of goodies! 

And, a thank you to the two lovely hosts for all of their hard work with this!  I hope we do it again next summer! 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Oh Boy, Oh Boy!

Are you sitting down? Well…I have some news.

This girl right here was just nominated for a Liebster Award! Yes, you read that correctly. My simple little blog operation just "won" its first award! Yay! I'm both honored and excited.

The Liebster Award is for blogs with less than 200 followers. The purpose is to show appreciation for newer blogs and to gain new readers. I am grateful for the nomination from Courtney at Mrs. McBride's Kinder Cakes.

So…in order to accept the nomination (which I do!), the nominee must complete a few quick tasks:

1. Link to the person who nominated you.
2. Answer questions from your nominator.
3. Give eleven facts about yourself.
4. Nominate five blogs with less than 200 followers.
5. Pose questions to your nominees.

Okay, let's get started!

1. Link to my nominator:

I did this above, but I'll do it again! That's how grateful I am! My nomination came from Courtney at Mrs. McBride's Kinder Cakes.

2. Questions from my nominator:

  • How long have you been teaching? 

Next week, I'll begin my second year of teaching first grade. Prior to that, I was an instructional assistant in my school's computer lab for two years.

  • Where did you go to college?
I graduated from Purdue University in 2010 with my Bachelors in elementary education. Go Boilers! In 2012, I completed my Masters Degree in curriculum development and educational technology from Ball State University.
  • Name one accessory that you cannot live without.
I cannot live without my cell phone. I know, I know…how pathetic. But, I feel lost without it. In fact, I've caught myself looking for my phone to text or call someone to tell them that I don't have my phone. Yes, it's a problem. Oh, well. 
  • How many minutes does it take you to get to school in the morning?
I live exactly one mile from my school. Literally…one mile. Unfortunately, the mile consists of a left turn onto a busy street, one stoplight and two roundabouts. So, it takes me about five minutes to get to school. I'll take it, I suppose. 
  • If you were not a teacher, what is one profession that you could see yourself loving?
I would absolutely love to be a sports journalist. I'm obsessed with baseball and football, and every time I read a great sports story or see a reporter on the sidelines, I get insanely jealous! 
  • What is one thing you have to have to get you through tough days? 
My teammates joke that, when they see me with a regular Coke (rather than Coke Zero), they know I've had a rough day!
  • What is your guilty pleasure? 
I always chuckle at this question. I enjoy a lot of things that others may consider guilty pleasures. But, uh…I'm not guilty about any of them! I love, love, love The Real Housewives of New Jersey and Atlanta. I was also quite partial to soap operas (my stories) and am still mourning the loss of the original All My Children and One Life to Live. Oh, and I may or may not be a bit addicted to Candy Crush…don't tell anyone.
  • What is your favorite hobby or pastime? 
I am always in the middle of a book. I love reading, and I bounce from book to book when I'm not suffering from a book hangover. You know, when you can't start another book because you're so in love and still wrapped up in another? 
  • Name one movie that you've watched more than five times.
There are so many movies that I've watched more than five times! My favorites are Say Anything, Zoolander, A League of Their Own, Vegas Vacation and Forrest Gump.
  • What is your greatest blessing? 
My family, by far, is my greatest blessing. I have the world's best parents, and my sister's okay, too. I am lucky enough to have a wonderful extended family, as well. I'm one lucky, lucky girl! 

3. Give eleven facts about yourself. 
  • I am a huge Atlanta Braves fan. If I could, I'd have season tickets and go to EVERY game. EVERY.SINGLE.ONE.
  • I teach in the same school district where I attended elementary school, middle school and high school. 
  • If given the chance, I could probably eat my body weight in chips and salsa. 
  • I'd rather have a Coke than an alcoholic drink of any kind.
  • I laugh at anything and everything.
  • I am a huge *NSYNC fan. Seriously.
  • I believe that everything in life can be related back to an episode of Friends or Seinfeld.
  • I am a proud font snob. Life is too short for Comic Sans.
  • I am also a condiment whore. This is a phrase I coined several years ago because of my tendencies to use more than two different types of condiments during a meal. I also fit into the category of "I put ketchup on my ketchup."
  • I don't go anywhere without hand sanitizer.
  • I am container-obsessed. As my dad puts it, I have containers for my containers. It's to the point that, during The Container Store's last Teacher Appreciation Sale, two teachers from my school left a voicemail letting me know about the sale. 

4. My nominations are:
  • Whitney from The Crazy Schoolteacher  — She's my very best friend and the reason I finally started my blogging adventure! 
  • Heidi from Secondgradealicious — She should win every award, just for her blog header alone! Her blog and her ideas are always super cute! 
  • Nicole from All Things Apple in 2nd — I met Nicole at the Indiana Blogger Meet-Up, and of course I want to give a huge shout-out to my fellow Indiana friends! 
  • Ciara from I Plead the Fifth — I came across this brand new blog, and she already has some really cute ideas! 
  • Meg from Kicking it in First — Meg is also brand new, and she loves first grade, just like I do! 

5. My questions for my nominees:
  • What is your favorite part of your classroom?
  • What are your favorite school supplies? 
  • If you found $3 in your pocket, what would you do with it? 
  • What is your favorite season? 
  • How long have you been blogging?
  • Who is your favorite clip art artist? 
  • What time do you wake up on school mornings? What time do you get to school? 
  • What are three things that are ALWAYS in your teacher bag? 
  • What's the best teacher gift you've ever received? 
  • What is your biggest pet peeve?

Yay! Have fun! Don't forget to answer the questions, give eleven facts and then nominate five other blogging friends! 


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

It's So Pretty!

Hi, friends! 

Do you love my new look as much as I do? Oh, my! I am so grateful for Erika and Misty from Honey Bunch Blog Design. They were so patient with all of my indecisiveness and contradicting thoughts. 

I'm so excited to have a pretty blog like all of the big kids now! 

If you're in need of a design, run over to Honey Bunch! They're amazing! 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sunday Smorgasbord

How fun! A whole linky dedicated to randomness! 

Sunday Smorgasbord from Fabulous in First

If I had one word to describe this weekend, it's PRODUCTIVITY, baby! Yes! 

Random and productive—here we go! 

All summer, my sister has promised that she'd come to school to help me put up my bulletin board paper. In my classroom, every inch of wall is horrible gray carpeting. The only places that aren't covered with the ugliness are taken up by cabinets and windows. So, there's  A LOT of floor-to-ceiling papering to be done. Insert tall wheely ladder and agile baby sister. I finally got her to school this weekend, and she even agreed to help me change every board, rather than the few that I originally promised. I completely changed my color scheme, and I'm IN LOVE. Lime green, teal and navy blue. They are happy colors. 

The only problem with a new color scheme? Shopping for new borders. Oh, Lakeshore. You get me every time—$30 later, and I'm armed and ready with new matching borders! 

While I was at school before my lovely sister arrived, I was organizing a few different areas of my room. I came across my writing area, and I decided that I wanted to have a variety of papers (colors, sizes, etc.) for my publishing group. During last year, I saved a very, very used paper sorter from our teacher "free table" in our workroom. I just couldn't let it get thrown away. It's been shoved in a cabinet since. But, I had an idea! Using some fun chevron duct tape that I couldn't pass up at Target, I attempted to make the paper sorter cute. The pictures aren't perfect, but hopefully you can see the improvement! I'm ecstatic—it's not perfect, but for where it is in the room, it's so much fun with the bright chevron colors. I love it! 

While I had a productive weekend, yesterday was a sad, sad day. During the school year, I visit the public library weekly to switch out my read to self and read to someone options, as well as books that match our phonics pattern and other learning topics. Every week, it seems like I get 2,347 books from the library. I ripped several reusable shopping totes during these endeavors. I finally stole one of those old lady carts from my grandma. I promise she wasn't using it anymore, and she said I could have it! This cart (while ugly and frumpy) became my best friend during the school year. Yesterday, in the pouring rain and only a few steps from my car, the cart decided to fall apart. Now, I know what you're thinking: "Oh, no. It cracked." Friends, this was more than a crack. All at once, the entire bottom fell out and one side snapped off. Books everywhere. In puddles. In a parking lot. Bad news bears.

So, I'm on a mission to find a new one. When I do, I know it won't be cute. Does anyone have any ideas how I can make my new cart cute? I'm tired of the black and gray look. It doesn't work for me.

This weekend, I also spent time cutting lamination. One of my very favorite things that I laminated is my new mini-posters for spelling patterns! Thanks to the fantastic Whitney from The Crazy Schoolteacher, I finally found a way to display our phonics learning throughout the year. As with many programs, our literacy curriculum outlines a spelling/phonics pattern each week. This past year, I really struggled with an idea to display these bits of learning in a cute, but meaningful and useful, way. So, I'm super excited for these little beauties! First of all, they're CUTE. Second of all, they match my new color scheme (priorities, right?). 

Here's my plan: 
Use the mini-poster to introduce the phonics pattern. Then, throughout the week, we'll come up with words that fit within this pattern, as we normally do. I plan to create some sort of back drop where we can record our words that we think of throughout the week. Then, I'll slap it up on our big literacy bulletin board and refer to it throughout the year. In first grade, I've learned that it's so important for the kids to see the patterns and relationships between these parts of words. So, I'm hoping that by keeping these up all year and adding on, it'll really help with their phonics development. It's also something that they help to create, rather than a pre-made phonics poster. SCORE! 

Two random, quick, non-teacher tidbits: 

Sweet corn! Yay! I finally got around to freezing some of this deliciousness this weekend. My mom and I worked together to freeze three and a half dozen! Woooo, boy. I love having this all-year round! 

I fell in love with these headbands! I bought them from The Little Gypsie, and they are just the cutest! She makes such amazing products, and they are all handmade! I seriously want one for I can't wait to add them to my cute teacher wardrobe! 

Okay, friends…if you made it this far, oh my, you're a trooper! 

Have a wonderful, wonderful week! 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Too Legit to Quit (hey, hey!)

Happy Sunday, friends! 

Okay…umm…big news. Big, big news. HUGE news. 

My TpT store is LEGIT. I officially uploaded my first product! Oh, boy! I'm excited.

These games are quick and fun, and the kids love them! My little friends always choose these games to play when they have a choice during Daily 5 word work. 

Here's how you play: 

In pairs or groups of three, students take turn rolling the die. Then, depending on the number they rolled, they write a word that falls within the specified blend category. For example, on the game board above, a student could write "stars" if he or she rolled a 1 on the die. They take turns, use different colored dry-erase markers or whatever you decide, and everyone's happy! 

I love using the wipe-off mats for activities like this. They're cute and colorful, and the students can wipe them off to ready the game for the next group! Right now, Lakeshore has these beauties for $14.99 for a set of 10. I also saw them at Wal-Mart for $1.97 each. Sometimes, they're in the Target Dollar Spot, too! They're wonderful! 

Okay, so…now it's your turn. Make me the happiest teacher in the world—hop on over to my newly upgraded TpT Store and download these games for FREE! 

If you download this, and you have any feedback at all, I'd love to hear it! 
Thank you, thank you, thank you! 

I stumbled upon Lucky to Be in First's Fabulous Freebies on the 15th link party! So, here I am linking up my Sunday (pretend it was a Monday!) freebie. Yay!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Indiana Blogging Fun

Good morning, friends!
When I started my blog last week, I crunched it in so that I could attend the Indiana Blogger Meet-Up and be an actual blogger at the time. Being quite a self-conscious person, I was very nervous to sit and meet new people. Give me 100 kids to meet, and I'm the peppiest, most energetic person in the building. Give me three new adults, and I have a minor panic attack. Lucky for me, we met at a Mexican restaurant and my old pals chips and salsa were there.
But, thanks to The Crazy Schoolteacher, I went. I'm thankful for a friend who forces encourages me to step out of my comfort zone. We had a lot of fun. It was so nice to meet and chat with women who were in the exact same place as me--teachers who LOVE their work and want to share it with others. We talked and laughed, and you wouldn't believe the ideas and stories flying around. I am so grateful for the opportunity to meet these amazing people. A huge shout-out to Heather from Teaching Through Turbulence and Ciera from Adventures of Room 129 for all of their work to plan such a fun day!
Highlights of the day:
These adorable frames were waiting for us upon our arrival, thanks to Ciera! I'd seen this image and thought to frame it for my teammates as a back to school gift. And, apparently, great minds think alike! I LOVE mine. But, I can't proudly display it in my classroom yet because I don't want my teammates to see it! I snapped my photo of my frame before I decided to be picky and switch my yellow for a navy! So, I stole this photo from Jenny at Luckeyfrog's Lilypad. I hope she won't mind!

We played a fun little white elephant-ish game. But, of course, it was even better because it was TEACHER SUPPLIES! Seriously--if you're a teacher who doesn't get excited about school supplies, then you need to find a new career path. Now.
I walked away with these exciting gems from Run Teacher Run. The game on the left is a "I Have, Who Has" with fractions and decimals. Because she knows I teach first grade, she offered to send me something more appropriate! How sweet! The game on the right is a "I Have, Who Has" coin counting game! Yay! Perfect for my first grade friends! These are super cute, and you should definitely head on over to her TPT and see her other goodies!

Wow, wow, wow! Umm..can I just say for a minute that this was like meeting celebrities? How is it that Hilary Lewis is a real person that had a conversation with ME!? And, she invited me to observe her classroom. Seriously? Oh, boy!

Left to Right: Whitney from The Crazy Schoolteacher, Hilary from Rockin' Teacher Materials, Jenny from Ignite Learning and Jenny from Luckeyfrog's Lilypad

Super cute photo of all of us fantastic Indiana bloggers!
Thanks to Jenny from Luckeyfrog's Lilypad for the cute photo!

What an exciting day! We must make this a regular event! If you're an Indiana blogger, check out Teaching Through Turbulence's linky with all of us!

Well, I'm off! Have a lovely weekend!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Weekend Giveaways!

This weekend was full of fantastic giveaways perfect for someone (like me) new to the blogging world. I've followed countless blogs, but I did so haphazardly and with no real pattern. Through two fantastic giveaways this weekend, I was able to really buckle down and force myself to organize my BlogLovin' account and finally follow other teachers on TPT.

The first is I'm Lovin' Lit's summer giveaway scavenger hunt! Through this scavenger hunt, I was able to explore blogs and TPT pages that I'd seen before, but also explore others that I'd not seen or heard of. It was perfect! All you have to do is hop over and complete the scavenger hunt for any (or all!) of the four giveaway packs, and you'll receive the packs within 24 hours! What a deal! I just opened my email with the two packs that I chose, and I couldn't be more excited! Just with one pack, I'm already itching to start my new Word Wall design, and my mind is racing with a few classroom management possibilities! So, don't wait—go now!

 **If you go right now, don't forget to come back and read the rest of this blog post!**

The second fun weekend giveaway comes from Learning 4 Keeps in honor of her ONE YEAR blog anniversary and 500 followers on Facebook and TPT. Yay for her! First of all, she starts her blog post by warning us that she will use lots of exclamation points in her post. WHEN is that EVER a reason to apologize!? Never!

She's giving away so many fantastic resources, so head on over and enter to win! With a lot of the entries, there's a chance to explore new blogs and follow new people. Go, go, go!

Have fun! 

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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Hi, I'm New Here...

For two years, I regularly perused other teachers' blogs, TPT pages and Pinterest boards. Many times, I thought, "Well, I think I could be good at that." But just as I thought that, I was once again amazed at these teachers' creativity. How could I ever compare? Why would people care what I think? Are my ideas really that great?

After some not-so-subtle coercing from my very best friend (insert shameless plug here), The CraZy Schoolteacher, I'm finally here with a blog of my very own. I'm excited. I'm convinced that I'll be addicted.

To start things off, I've decided to hook up with Flying into First's Let's Get Acquainted Linky Party! I figured, hey, what better way to start than with a quick getting to know you session.

Topic- Tic Tac Toe

How it Works:  Look at the graphic below.  It is a Tic Tac Toe board filled with different categories.  You will post about three of these categories but they have to make Tic Tac Toe.  For example, you can choose to write about 3 topics that go vertical, or 3 topics that go horizontal, or three topics that go diagonal.

Share About Your First Year of Teaching

I just concluded my first year of teaching, so this seems like a logical choice! I could not have asked for a better first year. I was terrified. I'm a perfectionist, and as I'm sure every teacher knows, it's impossible to plan and perfect everything in the classroom. So, I put my very best patient hat on and tried my best. I had the most wonderful class, even the parents! I'm not sure how I could ever top the curiosity and love of learning from the students and the willingness and understanding from the parents.

In addition to having the school's town's state's WORLD's best class, I learned a great deal about myself as a teacher and a person. I learned that yes, I can do this. I was made to do this and only this!

I'm excited for my second year. I can't wait to take what I did and make it even better.

My Favorite School Memory as a Kid
I have a lot of wonderful memories of school. I was one of those kids who followed the rules and loved being at school. In fact, I'm still one of those kids. Who am I kidding?

The best memory, though, falls within my kindergarten year. You may be thinking, "Woah. Kindergarten? It didn't get better after that?" Hear me out. My dad works very odd hours as an air traffic controller. Throughout school, he was never available for Meet the Teacher Night or evening poetry reading performances. He was, however, my kindergarten room parent. This is my very favorite memory of school. I can still picture my dad standing in the back of the room cutting construction paper for a much-anticipated art activity. We occasionally tease him about this, but I couldn't love it more.

Thanks, Dad!

Books I'm Reading

I am always in the middle of a book. Always. But, in the summer, I become a reading ninja and slash through books like nobody's business.

This weekend, I finished Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple. This book is quite quirky, so of course I loved it!

I'm currently reading Seeing is Believing by Erin McCarthy. Forgive the cheesy cover, please! Mindless, typical female summer beachy read. Disclaimer: not quite PG-rated at all times. But, whoever said there's something wrong with a little summer lovin'?

Okay, well…I did it! My first post! This is quite exciting. My mind is already spinning with ideas for a second…and a third…and a fourth…

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