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Sunday, September 7, 2014

Teachers pay Teachers Gift Card Giveaway!


I’m so excited to be teaming up with my favorite freebie-friends for a BIG giveaway to help get you going this school year! Over at our Freebielicious blog, we’re giving away a BIG, GRAND PRIZE (scroll down to the bottom of this post to read all about it!) and right here on my little blog, I’m giving away $25.00 to my favorite store to go school shopping: Teachers pay Teachers!

Teachers pay Teachers is my favorite place to shop for all the clip art, fonts, border, and digital paper I need to help me create my classroom activities. I also shop there for products that I need for my students. I used to shop at my local teacher store, but Teachers pay Teachers has definitely put an end to that. I'd much rather buy from other teachers and help support the teaching community. 

If you're needing to do some back to school shopping, I've got you covered with a chance to win a $25.00 gift card to Teachers pay Teachers! Woo hoo!

Please enter, with integrity, using the rafflecopter below.
I'll choose a winner a week from today.

Congratulations to Latoya!
You won my giveaway!
I just emailed the gift card to you!
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But, wait! That’s not ALL!
The Freebielicious ladies know how much of your own hard-earned money goes into buying supplies, tissues, books, and classroom décor to get your classroom “kid-ready,” and we want to be able to put some of that money right back in your pocket. Over at the Freebielicious blog, we are giving away a $300 Visa gift card! 

YES…YOU READ THAT RIGHT! $300!!!

To enter the BIG GIVEAWAY, click HERE or on the button below!

Also, while you are there, be sure to check out what the other Freebie-ladies are giving away. Be prepared for some AMAZING prizes. Take a peek at some of them below!



Sunday, August 31, 2014

Using Seat Sacks Efficiently and a HUGE Seat Sack Giveaway!

This new school year brings with it lots of exciting changes in the way I teach. The use of interactive notebooks has really been a plus and I couldn't be more pleased with how engaged my students are when we all work together to learn a new skill or revisit one already taught. They are not distracted, disinterested, or asking me how long until it's lunchtime! LOL! You can read my 9 helpful hints to successful interactive notebooking here

At first, I was a little nervous as to where I was going to keep my student's notebooks. I don't have any built in shelving units in my classroom and it is a challenge to find room for all their textbooks, workbooks, notebooks, etc. 

When the school year began, I was keeping the children's notebooks in this mailbox unit. The children used the unlabeled slot next to their name. It was working out well, except for one thing. There was a lot of time wasted while I called each table to get up, walk to the mailbox, get their notebook, and sit back down. I had to do this for all four tables. And then, we had to repeat it when it was time to put our notebooks away.

I spent a lot of time thinking about what I could do differently. How could I store my students' notebooks so that we didn't waste quality learning time retrieving them and putting them away? Over and over again!

Then it hit me!


I cannot begin to tell you how these seat sacks have completely changed my school day. Seat sacks are literally, the answer to my prayers.

They have many different colors to choose from. I chose red, yellow, green, and purple, because those are the colors of my tables. See how pretty they look? Everything matches!




My students use their seat sack from the minute they enter our classroom in the morning, right up until they pack up to go home. When they first arrive, they put their take home folder in their seat sack. I used to collect them every morning and then hand them out in the afternoon. I had to find space to hold them all day and then waste time handing them out. Not any more!

My students keep their interactive notebook and their reading workbook in their seat sack, as well. They are incredibly durable and roomy. More books can easily fit inside, but that is all we have in there for now. Take home folder, marble notebook, and reading workbook.


Each seat sack comes with a blank label to write the children's names, which is inserted in a clear vinyl pocket. I decided to make my own name labels on my computer and the children colored them in. When they switch seats during the school year, they will just remove their name and put it in their new seat sack.

When it's time to work in our interactive notebook or reading workbook, all my students have to do is reach behind and grab their book. No more sitting quietly, waiting for each table to go to their mailbox to get their book. And then wait again while the books are put away.

At the end of the day, I no longer have to pass out take home folders. My students quickly and easily grab their folders from their seat sacks to color in their behavior calendar. Then, they empty their mailbox and pack up. This is all done in 5 minutes. 

I kid you not when I tell you that these seat sacks have really helped to eliminate wasted time. My day runs very efficiently. And, as an added bonus, my classroom looks bright and beautiful. The seat sack colors are gorgeous! 

If you would like to try seat sacks, I highly recommend these from The Original Seat Sack Company. They have many different colors and sizes to choose from. If you order the Seat Sack Classroom Pack, it also comes with a few other goodies, like a Read-n-Go Book Bag and a Hand-e-Sack Stick and Store!
I am incredibly pleased to announce that The Original Seat Sack Company is allowing me to give away a Seat Sack Classroom Pack to one of my VERY lucky followers! The winner will receive...

 25 seat sack chair pocket organizers

1 Read-n-Go Book Bag

1 Hand-e-Sack Stick and Store

25 Name Tags

This contest will run for one week. 
Please enter with integrity, using the rafflecopter below.

And the lucky winner is...
Kauni! 
Congratulations to you!
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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Interactive Notebooks for Little Learners...9 Helpful Hints to Ensure Success!

Where have you been all my life, interactive notebooks?
It's only been two weeks since I've been back in school and I am already in love with interactive notebooks. If you are not doing them yet, I urge you to stop what you're doing and give them a try! The level of student engagement is at an all time high. In all my years of teaching, I have NEVER seen ALL my students so ENGAGED the ENTIRE time they are working. From start to finish, they are hanging on to every word I say, and trying their absolute best to have the neatest, nicest, most accurate notebook!

My first graders have completed several activities already and we've learned some neat tricks along the way. I'd like to share them with you!
Before the children cut anything, have them color the tabs that are glued to the notebook so they don't accidentally cut them off. 

While cutting, remind children NOT to cut off the colored tab. It's easy for them to see what they should NOT cut off since it is colored, but a helpful reminder (or two!) is a good idea. 

Have children keep the paper on the table while they apply the glue to the tab(s). If they lean on their notebook page, the notebook page will get sticky, resulting in flaps that may not open and close because they are glued shut.
Glue the tab(s) down before making any cuts. It is easier to glue the paper to the page while it is still intact. If they make cuts first, the flaps are moving all over the place, making it difficult to glue the tab(s) onto the page.
See how easy it is to make the cuts now?
Have children color while waiting for the others to finish cutting and gluing. This keeps them happily engaged and occupied while your slower cutters and gluers finish up. Then, you can all work together on the actual lesson.

Always use the left side of the page for the children to apply what they have learned on the right side of the page. Eventually, the children can come up with their own way to explore connections to what has been learned (I hope!) But, for now, I am helping them along.


Keep scrap bins at each table so students can easily and quickly dispose of their scraps. Assign table captains to put scrap bins and glue and scissor caddies on the table and to put them away when they are finished. The rest of the children can use a wipe to clean off the table. 
Have students number each page they work on, so you can ask them to turn to a specific page when you want them to refer back to a previous lesson.
If you are thinking that you want to give interactive notebooks a try, but you are worried about how to fit it in to your already packed day, just remember this...Interactive Notebook activities should be used INSTEAD of other activities, not in addition to them. 

And, there you have it! 9 helpful tips to ensure that your interactive notebook activities are always successful! So, what are you waiting for? Jump right in and join the fun!

Feel free to check out all my interactive notebook activities!
Just click each image!








Saturday, August 23, 2014

First Week of School in Review and a Bin Giveaway!

Back to school is in full swing!
This past week was all about getting used to routines, learning to listen and follow the rules, and just having fun.


My first graders worked on a little craftivity called

Each child shared a word that described themselves and I wrote them on the board. Then, they chose six of their favorite words and wrote them in the boxes. They also drew a picture of themselves in the frame. I always do this activity during the first week of school because it's easy to do, fun for the children, and they look so pretty hanging up in the classroom.

Right click the photos and click open link in new tab to make the photos larger.




I have a similar activity in my teaching store for free. 
You can check it out here.

We spent a lot of time learning the Whole Brain Teaching Classroom Rules. Saying the rules, along with the gestures, has really been such fun. The booklet below was sent home so the children can teach their family the rules, as well. I am only using four of the five rules. Looks like I neglected to snap a picture of rule 3! LOL! You can find this booklet here.


We also began assembling our Journeys Interactive Notebook. We decorated and glued on the cover and started adding the sight word pages. Each week, the children will highlight the words to know for the week.


I read one of my favorite books!
Afterwards, the children completed their first book review.


I modeled how to do this and the whole class wrote the same sentence. I don't want you to think my first graders are writing this well, on their own, already!

We'll be doing lots of book reviews. I have book reviews for every season, holiday, and theme you can think of. You can find the one above here.

All in all, it was a great first week of school for my first graders. Since I taught them last year, as kindergartners, we are already very comfortable with each other and they quickly caught on to the first grade rules and procedures.

Kindergarten was a whole different ballgame! 
They will need a few more weeks of training before I show you anything truly productive! LOL!

Here is a fun name writing activity we did.


We also started the Aa page in our alphabet/handwriting book

I didn't snap any pictures though.
We brainstormed words that began with Aa and I modeled how to write capital A. I ran out of time before we got to practice writing lower case a. It's very easy to run out of time with kindergarten! But, they did enjoy it, so we'll finish it up on Monday.

Check out these beautiful bins from Steps to Literacy!



They come in many fabulous colors and are incredibly sturdy.
They are just the right size to hold books, notebooks, teaching supplies, and just about anything else you usually put in bins.

Steps to Literacy gave me 8 of these awesome bins to try out in my classroom. I am using 6 of them to hold my books, tapes, and CDs for my listening station. I am using the other 2 to hold my Social Studies Workbooks for kindergarten and first grade. They are each holding 18 workbooks!

Steps to Literacy knows that every teacher needs lots and lots of bins to help organize and display important classroom materials. They are so generous, that they are allowing me to give away a set of 8 bins to 2 lucky teachers!

Here is a picture of the 8 bins each winner will get...


The set includes 4 fun colors and 4 primary colors.
If you want to enter to win these bins, just fill out the rafflecopter below, with integrity. 

And the lucky winners are...
Jess and Linda!
Emails were sent to both of you!

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Scholastic Teacher Book Wizard