Saturday, December 31, 2011

And the Award Goes to...

I would like to take a moment to publicly thank my three young children for awarding me an excuse to be in my jammies by 8:30 and snoozing by 10:00 p.m. on this Rocking New Year's Eve.

Because if truth be told, I stopped being fun long before they were born, but they make a nice out for leaving the house or feeling like I need to have some form of plan other than kicking it couch potato style. The way I see it, as long as I'm not rocking a Forever Lazy then I'm not doing too bad.

Anyhow, I'm here today to close out the year with a "Best of 2011." I suppose "Best of" is false advertising because there was no official poll or really even any competition for the title other than my other posts each month. However, the posts described below represent the most popular (based on number of views). I had intended to document the whole year, but silly ole me forgot that this here blog didn't make it's debut until Memorial Day weekend. So I suppose I should alter the title to the Best of (the 2nd half of) 2011."

I attribute it to the popularity of Jersey Shore, but y'all love you some leopard print and zebra stripes. This also happens to be my most popular post of the entire year. ROAR!

I do love my writing center so I'm glad this one took the title.

I typically list products only after I have tested them out myself, but my math board went up at the start of the year and quickly became a favorite. I'm thrilled to say that I've been using it in my classroom all year and LOVE it.

This has always been a favorite annual activity in my class so I'm thrilled that so many of you had fun doing it with your classes too.

Ah yes...the magic button. And now I am so looking forward to the "Magic Month" of January through March when the kiddos as oh so focused.

The photos of this classroom are what inspired my own hanging lanterns.

Ironic that we end the list and the year with that one. :)

Once again thanks for an AMAZING 2011. I'll be back tomorrow to share with you my plans for 2012. Happy New Year friends!!!

Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the FreebiesClick here to access a collection of Teacher Tips or tour my Classroom Makeover here.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Year's Resolutions Writing Kit for Grades K-5

I uploaded a New Year's Writing Project to my store this morning. 

This kit was created to be used by teachers in grades K-5. The materials were designed to make modifications easy within your classroom.

I recently completed this activity with my third graders in school as well as my first grade son at home. The differentiated pages and templates that are included made it a perfect activity for both.

This is a great activity for the month of January as it focuses on resolutions or as I referred to them with my class...goals.

After editing with the teacher, the students wrote their final copies. I always try to culminate our writing projects with a simple art project. These pages include adorable colored clipart, but I opted to print them in black and white, photocopied them and let the kiddos color them in. We then mounted them onto construction paper and glittered the edges (because I'm fancy like that).

Included in this 15 page kit you will find the following New Year's-themed items:

-a primary brainstorming page to collect ideas
-an intermediate brainstorming page to collect ideas
-a 3 detail web to organize writing
-a single detail web to organize simple paragraph writing
-primary-ruled draft paper
-intermediate-ruled draft paper
-primary-ruled final product paper
-intermediate-ruled final product paper
-a simple sentence activity page with space to illustrate for our -youngest learners

This year I hung them on my classroom door because I had some adorable owl writing to put up on my bulletin board in the hall. I displayed them as is, but the past few years I've done the board shown above using blowers and party hats. I've also taken photos of the students wearing party hats and using the blowers to display with their writing which is super cute too!

Happy New Year Friends!

Are you making any resolutions?

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Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the FreebiesClick here to access a collection of Teacher Tips or tour my Classroom Makeover here.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Pink or Blue?

Have y'all seen this yet?

It cracked me up.

But was also very timely.

My son is six and has always had tool benches, trucks, cars, Legos, blocks, and other "wee little manly" toys.

And then we had twin girls.

At first they played with the typical babyish toys and puzzles which are fairly gender-neutral.

But now they are two and Santa loaded up the sleigh with an abundance of girly-girl type toys for them. Among the loot found under the tree was a dollhouse, dolls, aprons, a new kitchen (big brother had one, but it was certainly more of a bachelor pad mini-kitchen whereas girlfriends now have a deluxe pink monstrosity), tea cups, etc.

And do you know what?

My son has had a blast this week making pretend cupcakes, joining his sisters for pretend tea parties, and hanging in the doll house. I'm wondering if it is because it is new and different or if he's been missing out.

As I've purged and reorganized all the toys in the house I'm finding that the twins are loving the bat cave, the Hot Wheels and the tool box.

It got me thinking about school. I like to mount the kids' work onto construction paper when I display it. I had always avoided using pink or even purple for the boys. This year my "alpha male" LOVES pink and requests it whenever there is an option. This has made all of my other boys hope on the pink bandwagon and made me realize that I need to be careful about gender stereotyping.

As we enter indoor recess season, I find that my boys always gravitate towards the Legos and pattern blocks while my girls pick fuse beads, gimp, and art activities. I think I need to mix things up a bit and encourage them to pursue different choices once in awhile. I'm wondering if they are making their choices based on their likes and interests or if peer influence and society play a bigger role.

What do you all think? Do you do anything in your classes to encourage children to break gender stereotypes?

Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the FreebiesClick here to access a collection of Teacher Tips or tour my Classroom Makeover here.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Oh My Goodness.

I'm giddy people.

You all know how the song goes, "It's the most wonderful time of the year..."

And it's true.

I'm not talking about the holidays (though they were lovely).

I'm talking about the annual spotlight on organization and storage containers and containerizing and color-coding and tips on being more Clutter-Free in the New Year. While I heart organizing year round, I love that there is so much attention brought to it at this time of year. I had tiny little tears in my eye as I glanced at the weekly flyers as I walked into Target this morning and saw this.

My heart skipped a beat when I spotted the worker bees in khaki and red discounting Christmas tchotchkes and pushing glorious storage containers into the coveted seasonal spots.

Swoony Swoon Swoon.

And if seeing my darling Nate Berkus gracing the pages of a magazine with tips on getting organized last night wasn't thrilling enough, you can imagine my glee when I tuned into his show today and discovered his guest was Peter Walsh whom I've adored since his Clean Sweep n TLC days.

Ah yes, the kids can have Christmas. I'll take the dorky New Year's Organization Hype days that follow it.

I've been busy preparing for the New Year and all those resolutions to "get more organized."

This year I'm super-duper excited to be kicking off the New Year with the plans I've had in the works for awhile now. The countdown continues...

Just 5 more days. Clutter be warned!

In the meantime, I'm tackling the nooks and crannies of my house this week.

How are your vacations going? Have you taken on any projects or are you relaxing as you should be?

Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the FreebiesClick here to access a collection of Teacher Tips or tour my Classroom Makeover here.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Countdown is On

Is it me or is it hard to believe that 2011 is wrapping up?


I've been feverishly working on something big for 2012 and am super excited to get started in just




You'll have to stay tuned, but what I will say is that if one of your resolutions for the New Year is to be more organized, efficient and effective in the classroom then you have come to the right place. I have planned out an entire year of tips, tricks, and ideas to help you make that goal a reality...with oodles and oodles of FREEBIES along the way.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and are taking time to rest and relax and recharge.

If you aren't already a follower, please click on the little link in the top left corner that says, "follow" or add your email address to the "follow by email" form over on the right. In addition to keeping in the loop of the organizational goodness that is about to rain down, it would make my day.

I'm just 10 followers away from hitting the 2000 mark and while I'm not overly concerned with statistics and numbers, I can't help but think it would be way cool to hit 2012 followers by 2012. I'm a geek like that!

Now go munch on some leftover Christmas cookies and put your feet up because that is what this vacation is all about. :)

Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the FreebiesClick here to access a collection of Teacher Tips or tour my Classroom Makeover here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Just Genius ~ Glitter Clean Up Tip

I have a love / hate relationship with Pinterest.

I certainly find oodles of inspiration there, but...

More often than not it makes me feel like a slacker.

I high five myself when I use a Christmas tree shaped cookie cutter on my kids' sandwiches when packing lunches in the morning.

And then I stumble upon someone who has whittled a 3D tree out of a block of cheese and decorated it with wee little pepper pieces and I feel like I've let my offspring down.

But alas, there are the days when I spot something on there that doesn't cause me to go all Martha Stewart and I simply get to enjoy a "why didn't I think of that moment."

And since it is glitter season in classrooms nationwide.

And since I tend to loathe glitter because of the mess it leaves behind and I know many of you feel the same way....

I present you with this Pinterest-found treasure:

Seriously awesome!

Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the FreebiesClick here to access a collection of Teacher Tips or tour my Classroom Makeover here.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Oh so True

I have an AOL account.

It dates back to the "check out this new internet thing that just came out" and "have you heard about electronic mail" days.

Gosh that makes me feel old.

I don't access the account often, but every once in awhile I check it.

The problem is that I always ALWAYS get sucked into whatever headline is on the main page.

Usually because it is celebrity gossip of sorts and I simply can not turn my back on a good celebrity gossip piece.

Today, however, I was lured by a link reading, Children's Books Parents Either Love or Hate.

And I found myself nodding my head and wanting to high five the author for publishing what I've been thinking for years.

My opinions have been silenced because, as a teacher, it just feels wrong to knock Shel Silverstein, Robert Munch of Dr. Suess. But, today I feel empowered to get this off my chest.

The article included my top three book fiascos.

Taking the Number 3 Spot: The Cat in the Hat

I enjoy "some" Dr. Suess. Some of my favorite quotes from my Theodore Geisel. I like the whimsy. I love me some Grinch every December. I think it makes a great classroom theme.

On the other hand, I find many of the books to be annoying. Granted, I am not a famous children's author so I shouldn't criticize, but I find it hard to applaud his work as "creative genius" when he is rhyming nonsense words. I too can write poems if I am allowed to simply make up words to rhyme with each other. Watch:

A giant mamloosa was riding a llamaloosa through the land of Oopaloosa.

See that was easy.

In the Number 2 Spot we have: The Giving Tree

Face it. The book should be titled, "The Selfish Kid and the Tree that Couldn't Stand Up For Itself." Enough said.

And in the Number 1 Spot: Love You Forever

This won by a landslide in my mind. I can see how some might find the first few pages to be endearing, but halfway through the book it screams out, "Help me Dr. Phil!" There could easily be a few extra pages added to include the men in white jackets restraining the woman who had crawled through the window and was found sleeping on her adult son's bedroom floor and taking her off to the home. It creeps me out.

So...what children's classics do you take issue with?

Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the FreebiesClick here to access a collection of Teacher Tips or tour my Classroom Makeover here.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Dinner Table Conversation Starters

I seriously can't toot my own horn loud enough about my Family Dinner Conversation Starters Holiday Gift for Parents.

Humble, huh?

But, here's the thing. I always test out my products before I list them and won't list them unless it is truly something I would use in my own classroom or with my own children at home.

We've been using this at our dinner table for a couple of weeks now and I am in love with the positive effect it has had on my family. I have a six year old and two year old twins. Previously we had a nanny at home, but this year the girls are at a Montessori school.

Our days are hectic and it feels like hubby and I are constantly passing through a revolving door. I go to work. He drops off the kids at 2 different locations. He leaves work at 3:00 to pick up the girls. I leave work at 3:10 with our son. He meets me in the parking lot at school and we trade cars. He takes the cool SUV back to his office and I navigate the dorky minivan full of tired kids back to the house where I attempt to cook dinner, monitor homework, referee fights over toys and correct papers.

All at the same time.

Hubby comes home at 5:10. I often go back to school or to class after dinner. Some days my son has sports. Hubby often needs to go back to work after the kids go to be. It's crazy...but, it's also what life is like in most of our students' homes as well.

Dinner is when we are able to sit and connect. For the past few months I've really struggled with the fact that I don't feel connected to all of the details of my kids' day. These cards have made dinner such a special time and I once again feel in tune with what they are doing and who they are doing it with. My son loves picking the card and reading it to the table. We each take turns answering the questions, listening to each other and asking questions that lead to elaboration.

I designed the questions to be open-ended and so that they could be used each and every day. They would also be great to put by the bed and share at bedtime if we aren't able to eat together.

I'm so very excited for my students to make these for their families and I truly hope that each family uses them as we have. I love them so much that I am going to make a few for friends who have children.


I'm giving away FIVE copies of this kit. I'll email the kit to the first four readers who post about this product and include a link to the product either on their blog or on a message board. Simply, leave me a comment with a link to your posting. If you aren't one of the first four to leave a comment with a link, you can win a copy...

I'll draw a winner from the remaining comments on Sunday night (12/3).

The video below shows how easy it will be to put the product together. Click here to purchase: Family Dinner Conversation Starters

Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the FreebiesClick here to access a collection of Teacher Tips or tour my Classroom Makeover here.

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