Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Our Many Colored Days!

Today, first grade is starting Color Day Fun, courtesy of the wonderful duo (who are also fellow Kansans!), Kelly & Diane from Made for First Grade.

It is RED day today, and we will be making our first class book, as suggested from Kelly & Diane's resource:
Click on the pic to check out this AMAZING resource in their TpT shop!

Their mentor text suggestion for the classroom book is "Mary Wore Her Red Dress".
I own M A N Y kid-lit books (just ask my colleagues!) but I sadly do not own this timeless piece.

For the last few years I've used a poem on anchor chart paper, but it was only about Mary & her red dress; it didn't include all the other fun colors and names as does the book by Merle Peek.

However, I found a YouTube video for the book!
Don't ya just love YouTube?!

It makes the book into a fun sing along, as is probably intended:)
I never knew the tune, or I would have sung it all this time!

If you want to use this video in your classroom, you should HOPEFULLY be able to view it...I'm not always great at embedding videos.
We're off to enjoy our first color day!
If you don't already do something fun like this at B.O.Y for K or 1st Grade, I HIGHLY suggest checking out this amazing packet!
We treasure it every year:)

Sunday, August 10, 2014

And it starts...I mean, BEGINS!

During our annual Back to School welcome gathering for the whole district, our Superintendent mentioned differences between the word "start" and "beginning". 
I always considered them synonyms before, but she really gave me pause to consider each word and all its meanings.

I took away from her talk that to "start" something was to give it a sense of urgency, or to do something in a hurried fashion. 
If the word "start" had a personality, it would probably be impetuous or careless. 
To do something quickly and without much thought is to "start" something.

In contrast, to "begin" something is to plan and prepare. 
If "begin" had a personality it would be relaxed, unhurried or carefree. 
You begin a new school year, because you've put a lot of time, energy, and thought into the process.

Now, I know most of us aren't really feeling relaxed or carefree as we prepare for a new group of students (or is that just me feeling really a little stressed?), but I hope we can all admit that we've had weeks of summer to plan/PIN/prepare for a new school year, in addition to resting & recuperating from the previous one:)

With that in mind, I want to share an awesome YouTube party being hosted by the wonderful collaborative team that is Primary Chalkboard.
They are handing out many fun and relevant tips and tidbits for you to have a successful BEGINNING to your school year.
Click on the image below and you can check out 6 great videos today. 

They're not very long; I watched them all in under 15 minutes...that's less time than those silly health videos your district makes you watch:)

If you watch the videos, you can listen for a code word at the end and then enter a Rafflecopter with those code words to win one of 3 fabulous prizes, like:
$100 to Amazon
$100 to TpT
or a Michael Kors purse!

I'm not much of a bag-lady, so I hope one of you wins that:) 
I'll take either of the Gift Certificates, thank you very much.

Honestly, though, the prizes aren't really the reasons to watch. 
The tips and tricks are worth their weight, I promise you! 
I feel like such an idiot for never using my teacher's desk the way Katie Knight uses hers! Genius!!!

Go watch the videos (there will be additional videos posted each day all week long) and good luck to you all, with regards to the raffle.

Have a FANTASTIC beginning to your school year:)
Mine starts this Wednesday with students. I can't wait!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Monday Made-It...wait, what day is it?

I can still use the excuse of not knowing what day it is because I'm still on summer break.
For 6 more days.
Ouch. It really hurt to type that!
Sorry to those of you already back in the school-groove. I'll be joining you very, very soon:)
I'll get on with my post now.

I was asked to make a diaper cake for a colleague's baby shower.
I have never made a diaper cake, but figured I could find a tutorial on youtube, or some kind of instructions online.
Or a pin on Pinterest.
Yeah, let's start with Pinterest.
(sneaky smile creeps across face knowing too-well the dangers of going into the abyss that is Pinterest).

However, when I searched "diaper cake" on Pinterest, I immediately became overwhelmed with the images of these huge, elaborate monstrosities!
Surely someone somewhere has downsized and simplified these things, I thought.
I typed "diaper cupcakes" and was immediately inspired.

One of the first images I saw was for a onesie cupcake.
Have you seen them??
The idea was brand-new to me, and I instantly knew I had to make those for my colleague's sweet little girl, rather than a boring & tired ol' diaper cake.

I wrote down the things I needed, went to Wal-Mart, & got to work.
Take a look at the finished product:

I know, the hairbands around the cupcake wrappers weren't necessary, but I couldn't help myself in that baby girl section!
How do all of you mothers with baby girls stand it?!
You must have bigger bank accounts than I do.
Guess God knew what he was doin' when he blessed me with 2 "all-boy" boys:)

Here is the pin I found:

The pin didn't take me anywhere, so if you know the original source of this pin, PLEASE EMAIL ME SO I CAN CREDIT THEM!
I didn't bother searching for the source because I got the gist from the picture, and didn't plan on selling them or anything.

I honestly didn't even plan on blogging about them, but they're just too cute!
I won't be using a little cupcake box like the person above.
I'll just put them on a display plate for everyone at the shower to enjoy:)
With their eyes, of course.
Though they look good enough to eat, in my opinion!

Enjoy your hump-day, friends (see, I know what day it really is) !
I'm off to lock myself in my classroom until some progress is made:)
6   more   days....:,(

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Giveaway Winner & #mybeliefsoneducation

Amanda, aka The Primary Gal, has a lofty goal of seeing this pic all over social media.

I'm doing my part to help make it happen:)
The reason is two-fold:
Not only do I completely agree with her idea (from Debbie Miller) about knowing where you stand on your teaching beliefs, and making sure your practices align, but also ---though this reason is not nearly as important---someone that links up with her will win $50 to TpT:)

If you haven't checked it out yet, my little blog has its own Facebook page!
Be sure to click the image below, and you can read all about #mybeliefsonteaching:

THEN, be sure to "link up" for yourself with The Primary Gal.

Sorry I hadn't announced the winner yet...been working to finish both book packets and they're thisclose to being completed:)
Here is the winner of the BIG giveaway!

She should be receiving her paperback books and the digital resources by the end of the week:)

Thank you all so much for following this blog, my stores, and the supporting Facebook pages!!!
Have a super fabulous week!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Down to the Wire...

Just about 7 hours left to enter my giveaway for prizes totaling $50!
Click the image below for more details:

Speaking of hours left, how many weeks/days/hours do you have left before you greet a new batch of students?

I report back on August 6th, but I don't have students in my classroom until the 13th.
It's still too soon!
I'm just not nearly as ready as I would like to be...

Other projects have taken a front seat to getting my classroom in student-ready condition, and I'm trying to put on the brakes when working on them, but I just can't stop!

After finishing my packets for EMPATHY/INNER BEAUTY and HARDSHIP/BULLYING, I decided to go ahead and start a packet that utilizes my cousin's other book: The Brave Bald Knight.

This packet will help students understand how to face basic fears and what it means to be "courageous".
I believe it's never too early to learn this important concept in building self-esteem; even Kindergartners have (simple) fears that need to be conquered by "standing up" and being brave!

Along with my cousin's book, I will pull from common classroom selections, such as:

This packet is nearly completed, but I have a very important question for all of you:

Which cover do you like better for the Bravery packet:
Knight close up OR Knight full body?

Leave a comment below with your thoughts on the cover page OR BETTER YET...
...visit my blog's BRAND-NEW Facebook Page by clicking the icon below:)

Less than 7 hours now 'til a winner is chosen! Good luck to all of you!!!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Check THIS Out!!

If you have never visited Megan at "I Teach. What's Your SuperPower?", you need to.
I mean, as soon as you finish reading my post, head to her blog.
Specifically, her "Blog, Baby, Blog" section...the woman is a genius!

People, I am not technologically-savvy.
You should know that upfront!

However, Megan is such an effective communicator that I was able to create a customized "Pin It!" button...THAT WORKS!!!

I first used her directions for the general Pinterest icon, and that was fine.
At least it was successful!
It was quick and super-easy....but blah.

Then, I thought, "maybe I can make my own Pinterest button that fits my blog's personality."
So, I gave it a try...and I was able to whip up a button THAT WORKS in less than an hour!

Megan, you are awesome!

Wanna see my new Pin-It Button?
Hover over the image below, then you can Pin my giveaway image to your Pinterest board:)

Friendly reminder: the giveaway ends tomorrow!
You can click here to read more about it, in case this your first time visiting my little blog.

And look:
Megan even taught me how to "remove" the button from an image!
If you hover over her blog button, you won't see my cute little "synonym roll" :)
Instead, you can go straight to her blog...

I Teach. What's Your Super Power?

...I'm telling you, folks...she's AWESOME!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Virtual "Friends" are some of the BEST!

Although I didn't get to attend Vegas myself (next year, Melissa!), I have to say that I still enjoyed seeing everyone's pics on Facebook and reading their blogposts.

I'm happy that many of my favorite bloggers were able to have a good time, learn new things, and celebrate our vocation with great friends and colleagues!

Today, however, I am feeling a modicum of their joy:)
And I want to share with you why:

Sweet Tiffany over at Shoe Laces & Sweet Faces gave a huge shout-out my way over at her blog.

Her words were a blessing to my soul and brought tears to my eyes.
It is because of people like Tiffany that I love this virtual teaching community so much!

In what other way would a K teacher from Connecticut (Tiffany) and a first grade teacher from Kansas (me) connect, collaborate, and become "friends" ?
Please go visit Tiffany's blog and become a follower!
She and her teaching team have FABULOUS ideas to share with you!!

I tell you, technology can be a real pain somedays....but I am so very thankful that it connects us all in ways that would otherwise be impossible:)

Thanks for reading my quick post today, and...
click the pic to go to the Rafflecopter!

...there's still time to ENTER MY GIVEAWAY if you haven't already!
Have a wonderful HUMP day, friends!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Have YOU Entered Yet???!

The clock is ticking to enter my giveaway!

YOU could win 2 children's literature books that would greatly enhance your Character Ed. lessons...
...+ 2 packets FULL of activities and book suggestions that will help you plan for the instruction and implementation of those lessons...
...+$25 to your choice: Amazon or Teachers Pay Teachers!!!

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter today!
Contest ends this Friday, July 25th at midnight.
I would just hate for you to miss out :(

Monday, July 21, 2014

How Do YOU Teach Character Ed?

Do you have a program that your school or district uses for Character Education?
Do you follow Character Ed standards your state has developed?

I would have to answer "yes'' to both questions.
And one thing I would like to do better than I have done the past three years is help my students fully understand EMPATHY.

Is that a word you use much in your primary classroom?
Honestly, I don't think I taught it as much as I used it!
Silly mistake, huh?

We elementary teachers should know almost better than anyone that you have to explicitly teach, give examples/non-examples, model-Model-MODEL, and practice in whole group & small groups any new idea/concept.

You would think I would have done that with the word 'empathy'.
It's not even a word that many adults fully understand, I think:)

I believe that explicitly teaching the concept of empathy will better help the development of my classroom community, and be preventative for any bullying behaviors that might otherwise arise.

With that in mind, I would like to introduce y'all to a couple of key Kid-Lit books I will be using to help illustrate the concept.
You've probably read posts about both these books already here on my blog...
... but there is something in it for you if you will humor me and continue to read on to the end!
 (wink, smile)
This story is a cute, rhyming biography of a little girl named Alex Scott.
Alex became the original "founder" of the Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation.
If you would like to read about how my class helped this organization, click here.

This year, I will once again be hosting a Lemonade Stand Fundraiser for childhood cancer, and sharing this amazing little book with my new group of firsties.
I can't wait until May:)
I know, that's like a year away...let's focus on the now.

I usually do a fairy tale unit in the fall.
Cinderella kinda ties into our pumpkin unit, I guess.
Well, this year, I will be adding this new, princessy read to my repertoire:
I'm a little biased about this book for 2 reasons:
   1)The story is based on the true-life story of my little cousin, Baylee. If you follow Nikki, from Melonheadz (and who doesn't?), you may have heard about Baylee.
But if not, you can click here and read all about how Nikki blessed our family with her talent!
   2) It is written by my cousin (Baylee's mom), and Baylee helped her come up with many story components, as well as influenced many of the illustrations!

I used both these stories as the backbone for my new packets.
When finished, both packets will have book studies on 6 different children's literature selections (6 stories per packet, totaling 12 different books) as well as lessons/activities for socio-emotional development for adversity, bullying, empathy, and inner beauty.
Check out the covers:

I absolutely ADORE Nikki's bald kidlettes:)
Such a talented, generous lady!!

I plan on finishing both packets and uploading them to my store by the end of the week.
Although they will each have a cost attached, I will be donating monies made from the Inner Beauty packet to my cousin's foundation: Brave, Bald, and Beautfiul LLC, and funds from the Anti-Bullying packet will go to ALSF.
I just simply have to pay it forward to both of these incredible organizations!

Like what you've seen so far?
Did you stay with me all the way to the end??

If so, you can enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win a paperback copy of BOTH books + BOTH packets shown above....+ a $25 GC to TpT OR Amazon (your choice)!!!
That's a $50.00 prize packet that should start your school year off right:)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck, and feel free to pin any images above:)

And don't forget to link up to the oh-so-fabulous Deanna Jump with some of your favorite books!

The Days are Dwindling...

How many days until you go back?

Less than 3 weeks for me!!!
I'm not a huge SpongeBob fan, but I totally get his plight here:

I have been working on books, books, and more books:)
Organizing, creating a few products (more about that TOMORROW!), and doing some curriculum mapping.
I have to do a presentation for K-2 teachers in my district on mapping/bringing our purchased curriculum together with the standards, as not all of them align, VERY SOON...wish me luck!

In the meantime, my fellow colleague, blogger-bestie, and classroom neighbor has COMPLETELY FINISHED HER ROOM!

I know.
I, too, feel a mixture of jealousy, inspiration, despair, and utter amazement.

Take a look for yourselves!
Just click on the BEAUTIFUL pic (I definitely need her to come next door to my room and help me organize!) to go to her blog and read/see more:
(pic by Mrs. B @ Mrs. B's Bright Blessings)

Saturday, July 19, 2014


Kimberly Geswein has not only influenced my computer's font book, she has also, in fact, contributed to many purchases from iTunes because of her catchy hit-inspired font names.
True story.

Sometimes I feel like I live under a rock because I really only listen to Christian music on the radio.
So when I see a new KG font, I immediately go to iTunes and type in the font's name to see if it's yet another amazing song I've never heard but now must listen to all day on repeat.

If I were going to make a list that accurately depicted my favorite fonts, it would probably be longer than your device can display without scrolling and consist entirely of KG or CC (Cara Carroll) fonts.

Bottomline: If I had all the money readily available to purchase a lifetime KG font license, I would have one:)
For products I create for personal use, hers are about the only ones I use.

Because when you are just starting out in the teacher-created product world, you really don't have a lot to spend on fonts or digital papers or clip you look for what's available for FREE, right?

Surely I am not the only one who scrounges the 'net looking for FREE digital resources!
Don't leave me feeling like a cheapo all alone here:)
Admit it. You've searched, too.

Well, in case you missed these fonts on your scouring, here are my absolute favorite FREE fonts that you can use to your heart's content on COMMERCIAL products!
That's right: these are NOT just for personal use, folks!

All of these fonts can be found and downloaded right from TpT.

Most of you have used or heard of Font Squirrel, I'm sure.
In case you haven't, it is also a great resource for free fonts, and MOST of their free fonts are usable for commercial products.

Font Space and Da Font are great sites, too...but you have to check the licensing info very carefully to know if you can use it on commercial products for FREE, or not.

I hope I have introduced you to a few new stores on TpT.
I always appreciate a fab FREE find:)

If you haven't linked up with Ashley @ Just Reed, you should!
Share with us your favorite fonts.

And please don't pay any attention at all to that Rafflecopter thing at the bottom of her page, because I'm REALLY hoping to win some KG font licenses!!!!

Okay, I guess you can enter if you want:)

Have a very restful Sunday tomorrow, my friends.
I only have about 2 1/2 more weeks until I report back!!
SUMMER, where did you go???? :(

Friday, July 18, 2014

FIRST Five for Friday!

As it states in the title, this is the first time I have ever linked up with the talented Kacey at Doodle Bugs, for her fabulous "Five for Friday."

As most of you know, this link is about 5 random (usually unrelated) things from today or the past week.
Most of my 5 will be related to my vacation this week, but there might be one or two random items:)
{HINT: Please read all the way to the bottom! I saved the VERY BEST for last!!!!)
 Here we go!
Last Saturday, my kiddos and I piled into my parents' Honda Pilot for the 5-hour trek to Branson, MO. We had a great time with family and friends at my Grandparents' Timeshare condo. We visited some great Branson sites, like:

Of course, one of our favorite places to go is SDC. 
MOST of us love the roller coasters (love you, my sweet-but-timid Aiden!), and ALL of us love the homemade goodies...especially the salt-water taffy. Yum!

A summer vacation trip to Branson would not be complete without one or two (or five...) visits to a mini-golf course. Branson has a lot to choose from, but the Pirate Cove is our favorite:)

They even donated a class set of pirate hats for my classroom this year!!!!

For the first time in my little family's history, we went to White Water park.
We had a blast on the water slides, lazy river, and wave pool.
I might have gotten a little too much sun, though....ouch!

Okay, folks!
This is the most exciting of all the randomness!
Most of you know how incredibly sweet and wonderful Nikki @ Melonheadz is.
I mean, several bloggers got to meet her in the flesh this past week in Vegas! #jealousmuch

My cousin, Brianne, a former educator, wrote a couple of children's books while her daughter Baylee, a soon to be second-grader, was undergoing treatments for Wilm's Disease.
This was Baylee's 2nd diagnosis with the age of 6!
That little girl is such a fighter!

I wanted to create some resources to go with Brianne's books, so I contacted Nikki to see if she would   be so kind as to create a FEW images with bald princesses and knights.
Boy, was I blown away with her creativity and generosity!

You can head to Nikki's blog (if you haven't seen it already) to read more about it.
But of course, you knew that, too:)

I will be back sometime before the month ends to blog about how one lucky follower can WIN a copy of Brianne's book, The Beautiful Princess.
Enjoy your weekend, sweet friends!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Book Talk Tuesday

It's time again for Book Talk Tuesday!

Just today, I attended a workshop for "diving deep" into the Kansas College & Career Readiness Standards…that's Common Core to the rest of you:)
The Sunflower State LOVES to rename things!

I have to introduce you to these awesome kid-lit books recommended today by the presenters.
In the Read-Aloud session, the presenter talked about using fiction & nonfiction books hand-in-hand.

This idea is not necessarily new to me (or even you, I'm sure) but it was nice to hear an "expert" talk about it and give the go-ahead for this kind of practice!
Here are a couple of pairings she recommended:

Obviously, these would work well for many reading & writing standards, but these could also cover Social Studies and Science standards, and maybe even math if you got really creative:)

Use the nonfiction texts to front load information that your students will need to comprehend the fiction companion, or use the fiction text as a "hook" for delving deep into the nonfiction book.

What made me HUGELY enthused was hearing every.single.presenter talk about the importance of interconnectedness among the content areas.
Ideally, it would be lovely to get away from the "science block", "math block", "writer's workshop"…and move into a seamlessly flowing classroom day filled with all content areas pertaining/connecting to a theme.

Many of you do this already, probably.

I have liked the structure of designated times for each content…but I'm looking forward to mapping the curriculum more like the presenters described.
Is it sad I'm actually looking forward to planning??!

There were also 2 professional texts recommended that I wanted to share:
These were highly recommended by 2 of the presentations I attended today.
LOVE that these presenters encouraged mentor texts for writing (something we are all doing in our classrooms, right?) and using  picture books to introduce science explorations.

Can't wait to go back tomorrow and be inspired even more!
I also can't wait to see all of YOUR suggestions for reading through Mrs. Jump's linky.
If you haven't linked up already, go now!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Letter to Me...

I am linking up today with the wonderful crew at 

Their Summer Bloggin' Series is just too much fun!
 I, personally, have LOVED the "Free Font Fridays":)

The theme for week 3's "Monday Meet-Up" was to write a letter to present-day-self from your past first-day-of-blogging self.
This took me quite awhile to finalize.
However, I'm very happy with the final draft:) 
Take a look:
I don't know about you, my old eyes couldn't read the image above:)
The gist of it is "me" telling myself it's great I got out there with my little blog, and there are definitely some things initially that I did right…but I've got a long way to go!
In my own words, "…you let the early success go to your head and now you're just playing it safe. Yes, you need to make time for your family, friends, and school-related stuff…but you need to make blogging & creating a bigger priority!"
I encourage myself to come up with a plan and SCHEDULE my blogging/creating time intentionally!

I also give props to some uber-talented "blog-Stars".
In case you're interested, here is the link to Amanda Madden's blog, Teaching Maddeness, where she showcased me as a new blogger. 
Waaay back then, my blog had a different look and name:)
That is the first blog-star reference made in my letter.
It was the first time I felt kinda "big"!

This pic is what I'm talking about: see how she takes time to plan out her products?
Click on the pic to go the post!
I'm sure this is just normal practice for most of you, but I rarely take the time to plan things out this way for my blog or TpT.
I definitely need to work on this!
Here is a product that would really help me in this department:

Leave a comment w/ a link if you know of any other fab blog/product planners!
The one pictured above is by Ashley Schroeder @Schroeder's Shenanigans.
Her stuff is AH-mazing!
Her TpT product organizer (for purchased/free digital files) has completely changed my life!
In fact, all of these ladies I've mentioned have INCREDIBLE ideas and positively PRAISE-WORTHY products!
If their blogs aren't on your list, you should go visit them right now!

Teaching Maddeness
Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd

That is all for today, folks.

 I'm spending the rest of the day in my classroom, arranging furniture and the like:) yay for me.
I'll be spending all day Tues&Wed at a Common Core workshop so I can be a little more prepared for my presentation -gulp- this fall on curriculum mapping.
On Thursday, I'm off to Tulsa to see Wicked….FINALLY!!!
Have a super weekend, friends!