Saturday, November 30, 2013

GIVEAWAY TIME! Blog Redesign Celebration!!

I am very excited to announce my very first giveaway to celebrate my blog redesign! I've been waiting for a momentous occasion to have a big giveaway and this was the perfect thing to have it for. I absolutely love how everything turned out and it fits my style (and theme) wonderfully! And wouldn't you know, this is my 100th blog post, too! Now... on to the good stuff! What can you win?!
I've teamed up with 5 other amazing teachers who have all so generously donated a great product from their TPT stores for this giveaway: Jennifer from Rowdy in First Grade, Angeline from The First Grade Scoop, Edana from Color Me Kinder, Meghan from Lovely Little Designs, Jamie from Laugh Love Learn, and myself! You also have a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card and a $10 TPT gift certificate! I've included my all-time best selling product, Shapes Galore for the Common Core, and my Christmas pack, Deck the Halls {12 Math and Literacy Centers}. All of the other incredible products donated by my fellow teachers are things you'll definitely want to have just in time for the holidays! Scroll down through all the pictures below to see all the great prizes you can win!
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Enter the rafflecopter below to earn up to 27 entries in the contest! Good luck!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Christmas in November Giveaway from Easy Teaching Tools!

Good morning! I hope you've had a great start to your Thanksgiving week... I have the day off today and I am loving it! Just peeking in for a quick post about a giveaway I'm participating in over at the Easy Teaching Tools blog! You can win one of 26 great products just in time for December, including my Deck the Halls! {12 Christmas Math & Literacy Centers} pack! Click on the picture below to go straight to Kristen's blog and enter! Good luck!

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Friday, November 22, 2013

Five for Friday November 22nd Edition!

It's Friday!!! Better yet, the last Friday before Thanksgiving break! We only go to school for two days next week and then I am off. I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for this week's Five for Friday.

1. First, I have a new, much needed blog design! I love how it turned out! A huge thank you to the fantastic Jennifer from Raspberry Road Design on Etsy for the adorable personalized, custom design. She was quick to complete my design and even fixed a few things within minutes of me requesting some minor changes. It was exactly what I was looking for! You can see some of her great work by clicking on the banner below:

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2. I am determined to lose 5-10 pounds by the end of the year, despite all the holiday chowing-down I will inevitably be doing between now and then. I started watching what I was eating, logging my food diary into the My Fitness Pal app, and getting up and the ungodly hour shown in the photo below to work out three times a week using the Nike+ Kinect Training game on XBOX. It's a great workout program... hopefully I can keep sticking with it! (You know how it goes).

3. We have a new little candy/novelty shop that just opened up in the huge plaza next to the Phoenix Coyotes arena called "It's Sugar". It has a ton of fun stuff in there, but my most exciting find was a 4-pack of these finger lasers for a mere $3.50! I snatched up a pack and thought they'd be perfect to use during my small groups in reading. They couldn't get over them, and neither could the kids who were supposed to be at their literacy stations... they kept not-so-subtly walking past my table to get a sneak peek! So fun.

4. I had about 3 bags of candy corn left over from our kindergarten fall festival back in October, and since I absolutely loathe the taste of candy corn, I wondered what I was going to do with it all. I whipped up this Candy Corn Count response sheet to go with the pumpkin math mat from Kindergarten Crayons and candy corn cards from somewhere in blogland (tell me if it's you so I can give you credit!) and the kids used the leftover candy as math counters. I put a huge pile of number cards in the middle of their table and they picked a card at random, counted out the matching number of candy corn pieces, and recorded it on their paper. They loved it!

5. We had our annual school Thanksgiving feast this past Thursday. It's a huge family event where everyone comes to lunch at school and the band plays, the choir plays, and the entire cafeteria is decorated courtesy of the K-2 classes. To add to the festivities, my students made these "I'm Thankful" hats to show one thing they were thankful for. I love how this kiddo's turned out. Most kids wrote about their families, me (awww), or friends... but one said they were thankful for money. Haha!

It's been a great week, but I'm looking forward to having a break next week! And keep an eye out for a big giveaway in the next week or two to celebrate my blog redesign! You'll be able to win some gift cards and some fabulous products from TPT sellers. Can't wait!!!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Time Savers! {Blog Hoppin Linky} ... with a time saver FREEBIE!

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I'm linking up with the fabulous ladies over at Blog Hoppin' for Thankful Week! The theme today is "Time-Savers" and I'd love to share a few ways I (try!) to help me save some time.

We all know that there won't ever even begin to be enough hours in the day for us teachers to get everything done that we need to. I feel like no matter how long I work or how many weekends/nights I put in, everything will never be completely finished. So I figure, if I can get a few things in order to make my life a little easier, it's worth it!

One of my goals this summer was to get. my. classroom. ORGANIZED! And it was worse than ever after this past school year -- on the last day of school we were informed that our classrooms were being cleaned for the summer beginning the very next day. Well, seeing as my classroom still looked like students were coming the next day, I literally had to shove everything into whatever basket, container, or cabinet I could find; shove all my classroom furniture to one side, and then crawl into a corner and cry about it. Okay, maybe the last thing isn't true, but I sure felt like it. ;)

As soon as we could get back into our classrooms over the summer, I started the long organization process. One of the first things I did was buy a huge plastic drawer set to organize all my student supplies. Here's the before and after!

It's a huge time saver for me this year because I don't have to go digging around in a huge pile of things for the one supply I need. I realize this time saver isn't exactly revolutionary, but you know how organizing always gets pushed further down the to-do list after school starts!

Another huge part of my classroom organization process was creating labels. I made labels for all different shapes and sizes of containers so that I knew exactly what was in them. This also saves a ton of time for me because I now know exactly where everything is!

The 5-day organizational filing tool from Lakeshore is a huge time saver for me. After I do my lesson plans, I stick every copy, material, etc. needed for that day in the bucket that matches that day of the week. That way everything I need is right there at the front of the classroom, easily accessible, when I need it. I don't have to go hunting around in piles around the room for the copies I need.

My last time saver project is still an "ongoing process". I decided I needed a new way to organize all of my math and literacy stations, so I bought a plastic hanging file tub, hanging files, and 3M Sticky Tabs to label and sort all of the different categories of centers I have. I've got labels made for Write the Room, Rhyming, Alphabet, Ten Frame, Brown Bear, etc! I put station materials and one copy of the recording sheet in a big Ziploc bag and stuck the sticky tab to the front with the center/games' title written on it. I'm kind of organizing them as I use them, but next year it will be SO wonderful to have them all right in this one spot. So, not really a time saver this year, but it will be!

Now for the freebie! If you want to use my classroom labels to save yourself a little time and get your classroom organized, you can download them for FREE in my TPT store! Just click on the picture below:

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And, like I noted in the product description, if there is something you'd like for a label and you don't see it in this pack, leave a comment either on this blog post or a comment on the product in my store and I'll create one for you (to the best of my ability) and add it to the freebie! Just let me know and I am happy to do it.

Hope you'll join in on the fun this week over at Blog Hoppin'! Can't wait to see everyone else's ideas!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Teaching the Teen Numbers!

We are officially all in on working with the teen numbers in kindergarten. My students are absolutely loving all of the activities we've been doing. They've actually picked up on these number concepts pretty well and I could not be more proud!

We've been going through numbers 11-19, one number a day, for the past couple of weeks. We got into a groove with our numbers routine so that now, the kids know exactly what they need to do.

First, to introduce the numbers, we watched this great video from Harry Kindergarten on YouTube. Not familiar with his videos? You should be!!! He has created such amazing videos and songs for practically every kindergarten learning concept you can think of. First up... Numbers in the Teens (They Start With a 1!):

We used this one to remind ourselves how to write our teen numbers. It reminds them, "Numbers in the teens, they start with a 1!"
We also love his Numbers in the Teens Have a Group of 10! song:

The first time we watched the group of 10 song, I wanted my kids to have a deeper understanding of how the numbers are made. We talk about numbers as much as we can during our daily routines such as calendar time. I'll often say teen numbers as "One group of ten, and ___ left over." For a little hands on practice with these place value concepts, I pulled up the Houghton Mifflin website where they have some great online math resources. To get to the teaching tools, click on Mathematics - HM Math 2007 - Grade (K-6) - Teaching Tools - E-Manipulatives. (Apologies if the names are different depending on what state you live in!) I used the digital connecting cubes math mats to model while the students had their own real cubes and whiteboards to follow along. First, the students drew a big circle on their whiteboards and put ten cubes inside.

Then, to make the number, I'd ask them, "How do you make the number 12?" And we'd say "One group of ten, and two left over. Then they put the "2 left over" outside of the circle to show both parts of the number. We used mini-whiteboards to then actually practice writing the number we made.

Here's another example of using the digital manipulatives where we made the number 19:

We did this activity for 3 days, doing 3 teen numbers a day. Then we'd launch into our number of the day. Every day we completed these FANTASTIC number booklets from Growing Kinders' Fun With Numbers Part 2 pack. She has a book for numbers 11-20, and my kids love them! They've gotten so much better at number identification, writing tally marks, representing numbers, etc. as a result of Kathleen's unit. So if you ever read this.... thank you Kathleen! My students adore your activities. :)

We've also done a ton of practice with tens frames, which give the students a great visual of how numbers are made. I picked up this awesome giant magnetic ten frame set from Lakeshore and I love that I can easily leave it up on the board every day.

We also made use of these great double ten frame mats from the blog Primarily Speaking (seriously... she has 4 different 10 frame mats for free... and they are great!) My kids used different kinds of manipulatives to practice making different teen numbers. Their counting has improved so much, especially on those tricky 11-13 teen numbers. They always seem to have the most trouble with these 3 numbers year after year because they don't actually say the single-digit number in the number name like the others do. Does that even make sense? Oh well, it did in my mind... ha!

We will finally get to the number 20 tomorrow. The kids can't even wait. They were practically giddy with delight that we were going to get to... TWO GROUPS OF TEN! Ha! We are having a blast in math! What ways have you found success with teaching the teen numbers to your kiddos?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Currently November!

Where did October go? No, really? It went by SO fast. I'm linking up with Farley over at Oh Boy 4th Grade for her fabulous November Currently linky!

{Listening}: I got the new Anberlin (one of my fave bands!) album Devotion on Amazon mp3 for $4.30. Seriously. 31 songs for that price. And it is so good! "Other Side" is one of my favorite songs.

{Loving}: Cooler Fall weather. It's hard to come by in Arizona. I actually had to wear a jacket for a few mornings this week. Of course this weekend our weather is going back to the 80s, but I'll take it! Love this time of year!

{Thinking}: One of my friends posted a picture of their red cup from Starbucks which means only one thing in my mind... my favorite drink ever is back at Starbucks for the holidays! I love their Gingerbread Lattes... not sure my wallet will agree, though.

{Wanting}: The Ninja Ultra Kitchen system from Costco. And it's got a rebate this month so it's only $119 for all this! It's $100 alone for the Nutribullet I was planning on getting! Wasn't gonna splurge, but at that price, I think I have to! See all the fun stuff I would get?

I blame The Pioneer Woman for this, because before I found her blog I didn't even know I needed a food processor.... ;)

{Needing}: I have done exactly 1/2 a day's worth of lesson plans for next week. This week was just too crazy! I had my school fall festival, Halloween, formal observation, Coyotes game, etc etc etc filling up the entire week! So needless to say, I have to get down to business this weekend.

{Yummy Pin}: I'll stick with my Pioneer Woman theme and share a YUMMY dinner I made from one of her blog recipes - bowtie chicken alfredo. It was one of the most delicious meals I've ever eaten. I may have even eaten a bit straight from the pan. Here's my pin:

And click on the picture to go to Ree Drummond's Pioneer Woman food blog below for the yummy recipe!

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Hope you'll link up this month, too! Happy November!