Wednesday, February 27, 2013

50 Likes Facebook Giveaway!!

I am truly in Happy Teacher Heaven!!

Just one month ago I was feeling so silly about even having a blog or facebook page for it because I was the only one reading it!  I knew it before, but now I am absolutely convinced that teachers are the BEST people on the planet.  Boy-oh-boy...the teacher blogging community really knows how to roll out the red carpet to make the new girl feel right at home!  

So, I want to celebrate by giving away some super-cute stuff from my TPT store!  Click the picture below to head over to my facebook page and enter to WIN!!  :)

Follow the link in the first facebook comment to my TPT store. (I'd love it if you'd follow my store while you're there!) Look through my products, and then come back and post in the facebook comments about your favorite product and why you like it. I'll pick 2 winners on Saturday morning and send you the product you chose!

I'd love it if you'd share the Facebook post with your facebook or blog followers...if I get a bunch of comments, I'll pick more (and more) winners!! :) 

I'll pick 2 winners on Saturday morning. Remember to share this giveaway with all your friends to increase your odds of winning...the more comments I get, the more winners I'll pick! :)

And remember -- leave your comment on the facebook post!! I'd love your comments here - but I'll picking the winners from facebook.  

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Geeking out...

It was just a regular old Tuesday night.
I was chillin' on the couch
still in my PJs at 6 pm
(don't was a snow day)
indulging in some Pinspiration.  

When all of a sudden, 

Yep.  That's right, folks.  The one and only
Mr. Greg of Smedley's Smorgasbord of Kindergarten
pinned MY product.

It's kind-of-a-big-deal.  

Earlier today I was pumped about getting one of my very own products pinned (by someone other than me, that is.)  But, this was a "Big Mistake Deal...big...HUGE!!"  I was more excited than a kindergarten teacher who found 'those heart dice' in the Target Dollar Spot!!  ;)

I showed my husband, but he just didn't get it.  Sigh...Tuggles (like a Muggle...non-teaching folk) will never understand.  I tried to explain that it's like a celebrity reverse...sort of.  Then I gave up and came here...queue the Cheers theme and forevermore known as "Ode to Greg Smedley".  

"Sometimes you wanna be...
Where everybody knows Greg's name,
and they understand his fame."

Smedley's Smorgasboard of Kindergarten

Anyhoo, I hope that if you don't know who Greg is, you'll pop over to his blog.  But, clear a couple of hours before you do because it is a Kindergarten Wonderland and you'll want to settle in with his "Monsters" and stay a while to make a hat... and maybe even cover it in glitter, if you're lucky.

Disclaimer:  I hope you all realize this post is just in the name of fun.  I pinky-swear-promise I'm not a stalker.  ;)  

Monday, February 25, 2013

Let It Snow & a Hall Pass

Oh, the weather outside is frightful,
But, the fire is so delightful,
And since we've no place to go,
Let it snow!  Let it snow!  Let it snow!

Another major snowstorm is brewing!!  I rushed out of school after dismissal amid a flurry of huge, wet snowflakes.  I had to hit the grocery store on the way home (yes, I'm one of those-last-minute-people) and it was CRAZY!!  I managed to snag the few things we needed, and of course, a bunch of stuff we don't need.  So, now I'm home and chillin' with my sweet little family in our cozy jammies.  Love!!  We just had 2 snow days, but I'm totally hoping for another one!!  
Pinned Image

I stumbled across this fun linky party over at Tunstall's Teaching Tidbits!  It's such a fun and creative idea, that I just had to join in!!  


So, I'm seriously diggin' my brand new creation..."Sight Word Snapshot" Sentence Writing Fluency mini-book. (It's FREE, so go grab a copy!)  I've been using a very basic version of this resource in my classroom for several weeks.  I knew it was good because there were significant differences in my kids' writing after using these little books.  They were writing more fluently, more confidently, more accurately, and with more enjoyment!  However, my journals just had a plain-jane cover with a sight word sentence frame written on it and a few blank pages stapled behind.  I had SO MUCH FUN creating this sweet little book!!  I tried out my new & improved version today and the kids and I absolutely LOVED it!!  Here are a few pictures from today.


My Small-Group corner is my favorite spot in my classroom.  I adore teaching in small-groups!!  I just love that feeling of gathering those little sweeties around me and being able to give them really targeted instruction.  I cherish being able to witness the great leaps and small steps of growth and learning that happens during small-group time.  There's just something pretty fantastic about the connections that happen between all of us in those groups.  It's gooood stuff!!
The back counter looks pretty cluttered, but I am incredibly fortunate to work in a school where I have HEAPS & TONS of support.  I have 2 kindergarten aides (shared by 4 classrooms), 10 regular parent volunteers, and Watch DOGS (dad volunteers) that work with student groups each week.  So, I keep all of their materials on the back counter organized in baskets.  It took me a while this year to get organized for all of those helpers...but I think it's finally under control!!  My super-crafty momma helped me sew all of those curtains to cover the shelves.  It was just too much visual clutter for me!!


According to our listening habits on certain days, I think this must be what my students are hearing!  haha
When I knew I was going to be teaching kindergarten this year, I went to spend some time with one of our fabulous, long-time kinder teachers. She taught me the cutest attention signal.  I use it sparingly, but it works like a charm!  We say in a sing-song rhythm, "Tootsie Roll, Lollipop, We were Talking, Now We'll Stop!"  I added some hand movements for fun and to get the kids to actually STOP and put down what they were doing before.  (URGH...It drives me nuts when they follow-along with the "attention" signal and then go right back to what they were doing before!!)

Another one that's lots of fun that I learned from a former kindergarten teacher in our building is to say (again in that classic kindergarten teacher sign-song rhythm), "Hands on your head, Hands on your shoulder, Hands in your Lap, CLAP CLAP CLAP, Drop your clap in your lap!"

However, the one I tend to use most regularly is just clapping in rhythm and the students echo the clap.  But, the first two are great to pull out every once in a while to keep the kids on their toes!


;)  Gotta love kinder-chaos!!

Yep.  :)  Sanity is a very limited resource at times.  I have to say that my incredible, awesome, creative, talented, patient, encouraging, dedicated co-workers are my sanity-savers!!  I love them dearly and consider myself so very truly lucky to work where I do.  Anytime I start to feel frustrated or overwhelmed, all I have to do is open the curtain and chat with my neighbor or walk down the hall.  Instant relief!!  :)  

Speaking of sanity, if you're looking for some fun...grab a "Hall Pass" and head on over to the linky party!!

I also linked up here:

Something New!! (FREEBIE)

It's a little ridiculous how excited I am to share this new FREEBIE with all of you!!  I've been trying this idea out in my classroom for a few weeks now, and I'm in love!  My kids have shown so much growth and increased confidence as writers...which is a BIG DEAL in my book!!  I have a whole series of these books in the works, so keep your eye on the Happy Teacher Heaven Facebook page -- I'm going to GIVE AWAY each new "Sight Word Snapshot" mini-book on Facebook!!  Click the picture below to grab your copy!

In my classroom, I often call sight words “camera words” because students should recognize them instantly!  I created this Sight Word Sentence Writing Mini-Book to help my students develop fluency writing sight word phrases.  Students will write the same phrases each day and develop a dynamic mental bank of sight word phrases, making their authentic writing more descriptive and easing the frustration often felt by emergent writers. 

Each book has a targeted sight word (like "what") and at least one sight word sentence.  The first page of the mini-book provides an opportunity for direct instruction and scaffolded practice with the focus sight word and the primary sentence.  Ideally, students will write one page per day and finish the book in one week.  

On the 2nd page, students are able to craft a personal response to the new sentence.  Students refer to the sight word wall and use phonetic spelling for any other words they select to complete the sentence.  An additional line is provided so students have the space to elaborate.  This is a very simple way to differentiate!  I typically do some guided brainstorming prior to asking students to write...  "Think, Pair, Share" and "Pairs-Square" are 2 strategies that are quick, simple, and work great as a pre-writing strategy!

Pages 3-5 are identical.  On these pages, the prompts are removed to encourage independence!  Students will enhance their writing fluency by continuing to practice writing the same sentence frames from page 2.  (I can... What can you do?")  However, the child should be writing a new personal response on each page.  I noticed that my kids would sometimes "forget" and try to write about the same topic twice.  (For example, writing "I can swim." on more than 1 page.)  It was helpful to have students read their book to a partner before brainstorming so everyone had fresh, new ideas.  In fact, hearing another student's ideas was a helpful pre-writing tool for some of my reluctant writers!  I often use the "Mix, Freeze, Pair, Share" cooperative learning structure for this partner-sharing time.  

A student-friendly writing checklist is provided at the bottom of each journal page. 
I recommend copying this book single-sided so students may use the opposite blank page to create an  illustration.  Some reluctant writers may benefit from Illustrating first to generate a topic and/or details before writing.  For some of my struggling writers, I use a light-colored marker to write the sentence (or parts of the sentence) on pages 3-5 if additional support is needed.  

If you have a "buddy class", it's fun to get together and have your students read their book to a friend.  It's awesome to see how proud they are of their writing!!

I hope you and your students love these "Snapshots" as much as my class and I do!!  If you download the book and find it useful, it would be so kind of you to leave a comment!   If you haven't already - click the picture below to download your FREE Sight Word Snapshot mini-book!!

You'll also want to be sure to "like" my Facebook page because I'll be GIVING AWAY each new "Sight Word Snapshot" mini-book on Facebook!!  

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Friday Five & a FREEBIE!!

I'm linking up with the 3AM Teacher & Doodle Bugs Teaching to share my "Friday Five" (on Saturday)!  Check out what I've been up to!!  


I'm probably breaking the rules here, but I've just GOT to feature the AMAZING snow fort that my hubs built for Son-Shine.  It's seriously the coolest thing I've ever seen!!  It has 3 different entrances, each on a different level of our deck/yard with ramps and 2 tunnels...even a "jail" room!!   If it were any bigger, we might have needed to pull a city permit before building it!  Son-shine is in HEAVEN!! 
Top Entrance & 1st Tunnel 

Lower Entrance, 2nd Tunnel & Jail
My boys look way too happy to be in jail!!

Sprinkles to Kindergarten is one of my favorite kinder blogs.  So, I don't know how I missed this AMAZING post about her "Buzz Work".  I teach 1/2 day kindergarten and T.I.M.E. is a serious issue.  I've wanted to do math tubs/stations all year, but I just haven't been able to squeeze it in.  However, I'm thinking of doing a version of this for the "morning work" time.  (I just teach PM kindergarten, so I actually call it "table activities" instead of morning work.)  I was searching online this week for some ideas and stumbled across her post - click the picture to read about it for yourself.  As soon as I get it all figured out, I'll be sure to blog about it!  
We're in the process of selling our house.  We think we're close to having an offer from some folks who've come to look at the house twice.  However, it's this weird in-between time that's stressing me out.  We've gone to look at some houses, but we're not sure if we should make an offer or not since we don't know the status of our current home.  I'll be so glad when all of this is over!!  

This is SO me...

Here's a little FREEBIE that I whipped up to help my kids practice reading and writing CVC words and sight words.  If you're trying to squeeze in some St. Patrick's Day fun before (early) Easter -- you'll love this!
Click the picture below to check it out on TPT. 

I hope you enjoy this FREEBIE!  If you download it and find it useful , please consider commenting below...each comment is like a big ole slice of soul food!!  I'd also love it if you'd follow my blog and/or Facebook page.  I have so many ideas that I'm excited to share with you!

I linked up with TBA's Freebie Friday linky...there are SO many awesome freebies linked up this week.
Be sure pop over and get 'em while they're hot!!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Rolling in the Dough! (FREEBIE!!)

The Play-Dough Station is always a favorite!!  I love that there are infinite ways to increase the depth and complexity of the tasks, while encouraging creativity and active engagement.  I'm so excited to share my version of the Play Dough Station with you and to hear about yours!  (Hint:  If you read all the way to the bottom, there is a FREEBIE for you!!)

This is my Play Dough Station table.  There is enough room for 2-3 students to work comfortably.  I'm lucky to have a classroom that is half carpet and half tile.  Of course, the Play Dough table is located on the tiled floor.  I try to make sure everything the kids "knead" is right at their fingertips!

Play Dough Storage 
I have a large Sterilite tub with a wide variety of color choices.  I love that the tub is clear, so I can quickly check to be sure the lids are all snapped in place and put away neatly.  I haven't tried making my own Play-Dough yet. But, I've been pinning recipes to try when my current supply runs out or dries up.

Sight Word Cards
My kinders are expected to master 50 sight words.  Our sight word list is a blend of Dolch and Fry words.  The sight word cards are grouped and designated by varied border designs (solid, dashed, and dotted).  This allows me to differentiate the work kids do at this station based on their level of mastery.  I separated each group of sight words into a different color bin so students can easily find the words they need to work on and can get started right away!  Gotta maximize those instructional minutes!

If you'd like a set of these cards for your own classroom, click the picture below to check them out.  I put them ON SALE for HALF PRICE for a limited time!!  What I love about these cards is that they don't require color printing.  This is good for me because my school has pretty strict limits for color printing.  I only use it when it's absolutely essential.

Box Journals
These fun box journals are dearly loved by my kids!! I beg nicely ask my friends, family, and students' families to save up their boxes and send them to me at school. I use the cereal size box for a writing journal and cracker size boxes for word study journals. I store them in the blue plastic basket so they are easily accessible.  Each student was able to pick out his/her own journal.  Because the boxes are (mostly) all different, it's very easy for Kinders to locate their own journal quickly and without frustration.  At the beginning of the year, this is a great way to practice reading environmental print!

Inside the front cover of the box, I place a red, blue, or red colored dot sticker (like the kind you use at a garage sale.)  The sticker provides a private way to help the student remember which set of words to practice.  When a student has mastered all the words for the quarter, I draw a happy face inside the dot and place the next color on their journal.

When the kids are practicing sight words at the Play Dough Station, they select a card from the assigned colored tub.  Students read the word to their station partner, form the word with play dough, trace it with their finger and spell it out loud.  Then, they write the word in their journal and move on to the next card.  Partners are working independently, but stop to coach one another on reading the words.  At the end of the center, each student reads his/her journal page to their partner before cleaning up and moving to the next station or classroom activity.

I change-up the play-dough station every 3 weeks to include letters, sight words, word families, CVC words, etc.  I have some of the Lakeshore Lowercase Alphabet Dough Stampers and my kids love to use them with the Word Work Packs from Kindergarten Works.

I created a set of colorful Color Word Play Dough cards.  Click the picture below to download them for FREE from my TPT store!  If you download them, I hope you'll consider returning the favor by following my TPT store and leaving feedback.
I'm excited to hear about how your Play Dough station works!!

A Few of my Favorite Blogs

I was pumped when I discovered that Brittany at Lovely Literacy & More posted a "Desire to Inspire" linky party.  The idea is to share your top 3 non-teaching blogs and top 3 teaching blogs.  I have been loving blogs of all kinds for years.  My Google Reader is completely out-of-control!  So out-of-control that, sometimes when I log-on to catch up on blogs, I nearly faint when I see the number of unread posts.  I have a love/hate relationship with the "Mark all as Read" button.  {SIDEBAR:  I'm a procrastinator list-maker...are you? There is something so deeply satisfying about checking-off items on the list.  In fact, I start Every Single List that I make with 2 or 3 tasks that I've already completed.  (Or 8...depending on how much reassurance I need that I actually DO get things done things from time to time - even if it's just things like "brush teeth", "blink", "breathe".  LOL!!)}  So, this "Mark all as Read" button is very tempting to me!  It gives me this false  incredibly appealing sense of accomplishment!!  Anyhoo...

There are SO many incredible blogs out there that it was difficult to choose.  But, here are a few of my faves.  I hope you'll find someone new to follow!!

I *love* me some Katie Bower!!  The girl is hilarious, creative, talented, wise, sweet, and so much fun!  I've followed her blog religiously for years.  She is so real and down-to-earth.  She blogs about parenting, home decor, crafting, thrifting, photography, and her love of bacon!  Check her out!!

Lysa TerKeurst blogs about the blessings and challenges of being a Woman of Faith.  I love reading both her blog and her books.  She is also a regular contributor to K-Love Christian Radio.  She is always open, honest, and encouraging!  I'm reading her book Unglued right now.  It is a very powerful book about how we can make our emotions work for us, instead of against us.  Lysa writes, "God gave us emotions to experience life, not destroy it!"  AMEN, Sista'!!

This blog cracks me up!!  This is the place where Pinterest Fails find their 15 minutes of fame.  :)  Hilarious!!

A Differentiated Kindergarten

I love Marsha's blog!  She has been a treasure trove of inspiration and tips as I begin my kindergarten adventure.  And, I've spent a small fortune in her TPT store.  My kids are addicted to her I Spy activities!!


The Kindergarten Works blog was one of the first that I found when I first decided to make the switch to Kindergarten last year.  I was teaching 5th grade and Leslie's clear, informative posts eased my fears and soon I found myself excited about the change!!  I have been incredibly lucky to win a couple of KW giveaways and have also purchased several products from Leslie's TN store.  My kids absolutely love her PlayDough Word Work Packs!!

Mrs. Wills Kindergarten 

Deedee's blog is a one-stop-shop for teaching and classroom management ideas!  I love that she posts her Visual Lesson Plans each week.  As a new kindergarten teacher, I get so many great ideas and find lots of awesome new products and freebies that I can use in my own lessons.  I also love her monthly writing work stations - with so much to plan each week, I love that my writing center is a cinch!

I'm so excited about this linky party!  I've already found some new blogs to add to my Reader!  Dog Shaming is just one of the new gems I found today.  So funny!!  Can't wait to hear all about YOUR faves!

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