Who's Your Teamie Linky Party

Happy Sunday to all of you and a very special happy birthday to my momma!  She turns 65 today and we had a great party for her last night!  I feel tired . . .  :)

I can't believe all of the people entering my giveaway.  This is SO exciting!  I love it!!!!!  I love all of the comments especially the ones that include talk of Big Brother, The Help and The Hunger Games.  You are my people!!!! :)

I was blog stalking this morning and saw a really fun (and charming) linky party hosted by Monica at The Schroeder Page.  It's all about your teamie!  I LOVE my teamie so I had to join.

10 Teamie Questions about Laurie. 
#1 How long have you and your Teamie been teaching together?
We have been at the same school for 10 years now but we have taught first grade next door together for the last 5 years.  Before that, Laurie taught second grade with a . . . how do you say . . . different kind of a partner.  :) 
#2 What is your Teamie's best quality?
There are so many.  It's hard to just say one.  HmmmmShe is very level headed and can see both sides to a problem, situation, difficulty, etc.  This comes in handy when I have the occasional freak out. 

#3 Who will retire first?
We will retire on the same day.  She may be a few years older than me but she started teaching later so we're kind of neck and neck.  I don't want to teach without her so we MUST retire on the same day.
#4 What makes you two an awesome pair?
We're uh-mazing.  :)  Ha!  I don't know.  We just work really well together and bounce ideas off of one another . . . We both work really hard and often say, "Do they want our blood, too?"  :)

#5 Do you both have any rituals that get you through the day or a hard time?
We have to have George Winston playing in the morning before the kids arrive.  We both love Excedrin.  We stand outside our open doors to "discuss" things during class time.  And if it's THAT kind of a day, we will leave our "brought" lunches at school and "run down the hill" (this is a common saying at my school - we are actually driving when we say this) to get fast food or a yummy sandwich from a yummy deli.  :) And we always share a bag of chili cheese fritos.  (I never said we were the healthiest teamies)
#6 What is a word that describes your Teamie?
#7 Is your Teamie in the blog world?  If so...what is their blog? (Don't forget to link it:) If not...will this post push them in?
No, she's not.  :(  And I don't think this will push her in, either.  She likes to claim that she's not computer savvy but she's TONS better than she thinks she is.  (And a lot smaller and skinnier, for that matter, but she never believes me)
#8 What is the funniest thing that you and your Teamie had to face at school?
I'd say we usually get the giggles when we're stealing taking butcher paper from the Instructional Resource Center.  They only allow you to take so much and we need WAY more than the allotted amount.  One time the worker person asked me if I was WALLPAPERING my classroom!  I mean, really!  Is it any of her business if I saw something on the DIY channel and wanted to try it in my classroom?  Laurie and I try to be really sneaky and end up getting the giggles.  We also tend to get the giggles when we're at a Staff Development thing or workshop, or even during Staff Meetings.  I think that when you get the giggles when you are not supposed to is high-larious!!!  And this happens a lot with Laurie.  :)
#9 Complete this sentence...I would not trade my Teamie for a $1,000 gift card at the Dollar store  because...
Well, for one thing, she was with her other partner for 5 years so this coming year, I am about to beat that record.  I'm dying to beat that record.  AND . . . she's worth way way way more than a $1,000.  I wouldn't trade her.  No way, no how!  So back off!  :)
#10 Add a special tribute to your Teamie:)
Her laugh is loud and infectious - I love when I am at school in the morning before she arrives because I can hear her coming.  :)  She is only a few years older than me but she likes to "baby" me.  She would drive me everywhere (if I let her) and lift every heavy thing that ever existed (if I let her) and run anywhere to get me something (if I let her).  Simply put, I love her.  She is my best friend and I feel so blessed to be able to work with her every day.  I was traveling the first two weeks of summer vacation and when we were FINALLY reunited and had talked each other's ears off for hours, she later said at dinner, "I missed you!"  AWWWWWW!!!
PS  I chose purple for my answers because it is Laurie's favorite color.  :)  And I have a bit of a problem with purple but I sucked it up!  Ha!

Now it's your turn!  Be sure to link up with Monica at The Schroeder Page to tell us all about your teamie.  I love reading these!  And you still have until midnight Pacific Standard Time to enter my giveaway.  :)  Have a FAB DAY!


My First Giveaway!

Hi friends! Thank you so much to all of my peeps for helping me out with this giveaway stuff AND supporting me in my Big Brother obsession by agreeing with me that Brachel, Brenchel, Rachen, WHOEVER are horrible! And, by the way, in case you didn't know, "ain't nothing coming between me and my man!" Ha ha!

BIG NEWS! I am having my first giveaway! Woot Woot! Woop Woop! Hoop Hoop! Hooray! I am thrilled that so many of you have decided to follow me and this teeny tiny blog that is mostly about teaching with a little bit of Reality TV thrown in. I feel like I should really talk about some of the books I am reading (might make me sound smart!) . . . but then I just get off topic because now I'm thinking about The Help and how I can't wait for the movie to come out! If you have not read it, go and get it! Or put it on your Kindle or whatever - it is awesome. And don't even get me started on The Hunger Games! See? I should really just concentrate on one thing at a time.

But this kind of goes together because my Giveaway is a $20 GIFT CARD TO BARNES AND NOBLE!
I wanted it to be for "A Blogger" or "A Teacher" but this was the closest I could get. So you can either go get The Help or The Hunger Games OR . . . go get some new books for your classroom! I have my eye on a couple . . . Fran at Kindergarten Crayons talked about the Knuffle series (which I love but I only have one) and a new one (to me, anyway) called Adventure Annie. I also need to get this book by Leo Leoni:
It shows the kiddos how letters make words which then make sentences, etc. I NEED this book!

So here is how you can enter. I'm going to make this real simple because it IS my first rodeo.
1. Leave me a comment and tell me that you are following me. And if you're not following me, then follow me and leave a comment to tell me that you are now following me. :)
2. Leave me a comment that you put my blog or button on your sidebar.
3. Leave me a comment that you blogged about my giveaway.

That's three chances to enter and you really don't have to do very much, right? I mean, if you're already here, you're probably doing number one already. So that's already a great chance. You're good to go!

You have until midnight on Sunday, July 31st (my momma's birthday!) Pacific Standard time to enter. I will announce the winner on Monday, August 1. Please read the fine print below.

**Must be 18 or over to enter.
**Must be a teacher to enter.
**Must be on summer vacation to enter.

JUST KIDDING!!! But I did want to put a little note that the winner and I will discuss how they want the gift card delivered. We can exchange the little numbers on the back of the card or I can send it to you through insured mail. You'll know why I'm a little freaked out if you read my previous post.




Hey all! If you watch Big Bro like me then you're happy that Jeff and Jordan are still safe! :) Can't wait to see what happens tonight with the new HOH competition. Seriously - am I the only loser one who watches this show?!?

Question for all of you who have done giveaways with gift cards . . . How does it work? Do you mail the gift card to the winner? This worries me. One time (at band camp) my parents sent my aunt a card with a Home Depot gift card inside for when she first got her house. The Hallmark card arrived BUT NOT THE GIFT CARD. The envelope had been slit open, the gift card removed, and then the Hallmark card carried on. TRUE STORY. So can someone please explain how gift card giveaways work?

I would appreciate anyone's help. Especially if you were the recipient of a gift card in the mail. It IS true that my family tends to travel around with a black cloud above us. So maybe it's just us. :)

Thank you!



Well, I just got back from the Orange County Fair. And now I smell like smoke from all of the BBQ. New treats for you to consider: fried frog legs, fried Kool-aid, and something Paula Deen may want to try -- FRIED BUTTER. Seriously. Also, they have breakfast -- a Caramel Bacon Sundae Shake. Doesn't that just sound like a good way to start your day?

I (still) can't believe it that people are following my blog. 300 followers kind of snuck up on me! All I can say is . . . THANK YOU SO MUCH! I hope you have been able to find something for your classroom! I can definitely say that I have learned so much from all of you -- which I keep sharing with my team and now I've got one of my co-workers addicted to blog stalking, too. I feel better now. :)

As a small way to say thank you, I have a freebie for you. And, just in case you're new to my blog, I wanted to share some of my other freebies, too. My very first day of blogging, I shared my beginning of the year color worksheets. This was before I had a handle on google docs, so they are over at my TpT store. You can get the COLOR WORKSHEETS HERE. And you can get MIXED PRACTICE WORKSHEETS HERE. I also shared some rhyming cards that you can use whole class and/or in a center. Grab the RHYMING CARDS HERE. And if you need a recording sheet, you can get it HERE.

My little freebie for you today is just another cut and paste. It's on Digraphs so you may not need it for awhile.
Just as a reminder, I always copy the pictures on colorful copy paper and the recording sheet on white. It's an easy way for students to get the materials they need. I hope someone can use it at some point. You can get your copy HERE.

Watch those kiddos with scissors, though! Last year (my 14th year in first grade) was MY first experience with one little boy cutting another boy's hair. The first boy was angry and just grabbed his hair and CHOPPED. Lucky for the victim (and me) he had a mop top and you could not even tell. Mom was really nice about it. (PHEW!) The felon (smile) got into a lot of trouble and a few days later, cut his OWN hair and blamed it on someone else. I KNOW!!!! I think he is destined to be a hair dresser. I mean, really!

Well, THANK YOU again for reading what I have to say. It's really nice. Please leave me a comment if you grab any of the above. I appreciate it!

Hooray for BIG BROTHER tonight! :) *I* will have to cut off Rachel's hair if she even THINKS of back dooring Jeff and Jordan. Just watch me! :)


Stencil Writing

Did anyone watch the Real Housewives of New York Reunion Show, Part 1 (that's a mouthful) last night????? Talk about JUICY!!! I also watched the Bachelorette (I did admit to being a reality TV junkie here) and I'm still Team J.P. I just wish Ashley wasn't who he would end up with. :)

Okay, so I know for sure that I got this *brilliant* idea from my friends Susan and Christina. Thank you, girls!

Stencil Writing is so simple (and many of you may already be doing it) but my kids love it every year. It is ALWAYS a popular center - lots of cheers and ooohs and aaahs no matter how many times they have already done it. I am pretty sure this would work for all of you Daily Five people, too, from what I've read on Kelli's post about Work on Writing over at Castles and Crayons.

Here's what I'm talking about:
All you need is cardstock (or file folders would work too) and die cuts. Our district's instructional resource center has millions. When I first did this, I laminated the cardstock, cut it out, and cut it in half. That was one trip. Then I went back and punched all of the die cuts. Once I had those, I made a word bank for each one in sharpie marker. Since then, I have set up a word document in landscape, made a couple of text boxes, and typed my word banks according to the stencils I already had. Then laminated, cut in half, punched the die cuts, etc. I'm a visual person so I'll show you what the kids do. Pardon my drawing. My kids think I'm amazing but I don't think adults feel the same! Ha!

At the beginning of the year, I'm happy with ONE sentence: I like school. But as the year progresses, the kids write more and more. I probably have close to 75 stencils including astronauts, Santa, baseball gloves, sharks, monkeys, etc. Something for everybody! I don't have a "freebie" for this. You're going to have go do all of the die cutting on your own. :( But I CAN send you the stencil writing paper that I made if you want it. But I'm figuring a lot of you have that. Just let me know! :)

So tell me . . . do you already do this?? Do you have a better idea or sequence of steps to complete it? Do you like this idea? Do you think you might go make it? Would this work for all of you D5 peeps?

My twin arrives tonight!!! HOORAY! She found out yesterday that she missed her flight. But she had no idea that she missed her flight because she thought her flight was TODAY. UH OH. $825 later, Kerry and her three kids are taking the same flight that she THOUGHT she was on today. YIKES! Money schmoney, right?? All that matters is . . .she's on her way!


Bug Noise

This is my last official week of summer vacation. We're allowed back into our rooms a week from today. Gasp. Clutch chest. Wipe sweat from brow. I have got A LOT to do.

But look what I found while blog hopping yesterday!!!!! How CUTE is this??
You can get your own FREE copy from Katie at Little Warrior's. She also has signs to go with it (in the shape of stop signs!). You can choose from ocean, frogs or bugs using that link . . . OR grab a pirate themed one HERE or a jungle themed one HERE.

A noise level volume poster thingy was on my to-do list and now it's done! I grabbed the bug one and now I just need to laminate it! :) If you do not know Katie yet, you've got to go visit her. Thank you, Katie!

One last thing: Thank you to all of my peeps who offered advice on how to find all of the blogs that I've been following. Apparently, before I began blogging myself, I signed in as . . . I don't know what. I don't remember. And then when I started my own blog, I signed in as . . . well, that's private. :) Ha! Anyways, only the ones I've been following since I started my own blog are showing up on my dashboard and my Reader is only allowing me to view THOSE (my Reader is not just lazy - he's also stubborn. Maybe he needs a raise? A coffee? A burrito?) So I spent a lot of time yesterday following a lot of you AGAIN. Some of you have the distinguished honor of having me follow you TWICE! Seriously. I am. I'd fix it but I don't know how. The good news is that you're showing up on my dashboard now and my Reader has welcomed you with open arms! Everybody wins!

Happy Monday! I am super excited because my twin and her kids are coming out from TX for a visit tomorrow! 24 more hours!!!

PS Did anybody watch Big Bro last night? Does Brachel make you sick? Ugh. They are both the biggest babies. I can't stand it! I loved how The Hoff loved Jeff and Jordan. Who doesn't? :)



Okay, I have a confession to make. And I'm a teeny tiny bit embarrassed. Deep breath. Or as we say in my school where we teach the Second Step program, "Smell the Soup." Then you blow on it to cool it down. That's a deep calming breath in and then a deep breath out. Believe me, I have stopped my whole class and told them that on the count of three, we're smelling the soup. It works really well for students who may be having conflicts with others and they're agitated or upset or crying or whatever.

Oh, look, I'm avoiding my confession. :)

Allllll rigggggghhht. So here's the deal. I follow many, many, many blogs. I love it. If someone new comments on my blog, and if they have a blog, I go over there and follow them. My problem (my confession) is that I have no idea how to manage all of the blogs I'm following. And I know that several of you have talked about your Google Reader. Do I have a google reader of my own? I logged on but it says I'm only following 14 blogs. Ha! That's a laugh. Which leads me to believe that my reader is a little bit lazy or something. I used to bookmark my blogs but I wasn't consistent. NOW I'm following blogs by email which I think is the coolest thing. I'm alerted when there is a new post so it's super convenient and I am always happy to receive THAT email. I have joined some blogs that I want to go back to but I have no idea how I got there in the first place! I may have been on so-and-so's blog, clicked a link that took me to another's, and so on and so forth. It's like I need a GPS for my blog hopping. :)

Can someone please help me figure this out? I would be so grateful!!! I have a freebie for you, too. I shared a short vowel cut and paste with you HERE and now you can download the next one HERE.
Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated! Thank you! :)


Dr. Jean and Some More Claps

I printed out all of the Dr. Jean "Cheer" cards the other day, laminated them, and just finished cutting them out a little bit ago (which means there are tiny bits and pieces of laminate all over my bed and floor). Fran over at Kindergarten Crayons got to meet Dr. Jean at a conference and took a picture with her! Lucky! Thank you, Fran, for the link. (I act like I know Fran. She has a million followers and won the Really Good Blog Contest. She has left me a comment or two so that's why I feel like we're friends but we've never met which is really too bad) Anyways, I got a lot of new claps that I never did (Parrot Clap and Snap, Crackle, Pop, for examples) but I also use claps that were NOT on the website. I'm sure they are Dr. Jean claps or inspired by her claps or something. I have no idea where I picked them up but most likely, I saw a friend do it with her class and then took it back to my class, etc. You know how it goes. The bottom line is that I am NOT taking credit for these claps and if you know where the REAL CARDS are, please tell me. In the meantime, I whipped six or so up for the claps I didn't have cards for.
You can download them HERE. Please leave me some love if you take them! :)
Wow - I'm really proud of myself because this may be my shortest post yet! I kind of fooled everyone with the teeny tiny name -- nothing about my posts tend to be teeny tiny! So this may be a record but as I continue to type, it's getting longer, so I'm stopping now.

We are off to walk Sidney. It's REALLY NICE OUTSIDE TODAY!!!! :)


The Mall School

I went back today! To the school inside the mall! And I took pictures! Check this out and then I think you'll believe me! (yes, those exclamation marks are necessary because I can't help myself)

This is where we parked. See? THE. MALL.

These are the doors that we went through. Which, when you're there in person, if you look straight ahead, and not to the right or left where you can see store signs, it could actually appear as if it might lead into a school. No? Well, you have to have a good imagination.

And, no jokes or me trying to be funny, this picture is taken from the door of her classroom. I am STANDING IN THE DOORWAY and looking OUT. INTO. THE. MALL. And YES, that is a lady on the bench that is taking a break from her shopping. And no, you are NOT seeing things. That's a CAROUSEL. A CAROUSEL!!!! Which makes complete sense because the mall's name is THE. CAROUSEL. MALL.
I am fascinated by this Charter School, if you can't tell. I'm mad at myself, though, because we worked all day and her classroom looks ADORABLE. And I didn't take pictures of that and I don't know when I'm going back! :( Maybe when I go shopping for my first day of school outfit?? Hee hee! Seriously, though, she got BRAND NEW furniture, computers, book cases, etc. The classroom itself is normal except it doesn't have a sink. And she has a connecting door to the classroom next door and THAT'S the door that the kids and parents and she will have to use. The other door that leads into the mall is supposed to be kept locked. FOR OBVIOUS REASONS.

One thing Alyssa made were crate chairs! Remember this amazing idea from Rachelle at What The Teacher Wants? Rachelle got the idea from someone else who got the idea from someone else and so on. I hope I'm not breaking any blogging laws by not going all the way back up the family tree to link to the original creator. Anyways, Alyssa put a little spin on it. She has no time to actually make the crate seats right now. But she wants to eventually. So for right now, she came up with this:
She just flipped the crate over and tied a chair cushion to it! She really does want the storage but for right now, she just wanted some cute seats. So if you're in a pinch, you could try this idea. All of the mall school teachers LOVED them.

Really quick - I wanted to say thank you to all of my peeps who left comments on my carpet spot predicament. I liked A LOT of the ideas!!! I have a lot of thinking to do! :)

I am off to watch Big Brother. If you're ANYTHING like me, Rachel must have really ticked you off last night! GRRRR. She really gets under my skin and I do a lot of yelling at the TV!!! How about you?



Carpet Spots and Thoughts

Okay, so after what I did yesterday, I am SUPER THANKFUL for my job at my wonderful school and I am SO HAPPY it's located in an amazing setting. Here's a pic:
Really nice, right? Yesterday, I spent the day with my best friend/teaching partner and her daughter because her daughter JUST GOT HIRED AT A CHARTER SCHOOL IN FIRST GRADE! And we went to help her set up her classroom. Except . . . um, well . . . how do I say . . . the school is in a mall? at a mall? inside the mall? The mall is slowly dying out but stores are still open and it's . . . we walked through the mall to get to her classroom. I have no words. Except that I am SUPER THANKFUL for my job at my school which is not anywhere close to a mall (but is close to Target and Michael's and Staples).

We talked school talk all day and I need your thoughts on Carpet Spots! I have always assigned my kids a spot on the carpet. I feel that wiggle worms need to be close to me so that I can poke give them love taps to re-focus them. I like to put my higher level, responsible, tuned in Melissa Sue's (this is a reference to Jon Antonetti's workshop. Anybody know what I'm talking about? LOVED it and I'm a Melissa Sue) in the back. Then I sprinkle the other lovelies in between. So here's where I need you. I don't have that rainbow rug where every kid gets their own square. I don't really have a rug for that area of my room because it's already carpet and I just don't. I don't foresee myself buying one of those rugs either because I have priced them out and I'd much rather have IPods for the kids or maybe a clothes shopping spree for me!!! I have used masking tape in the past to "mark their spots" but this tends to come up and/or they play with it. I really want something that MARKS THEIR SPOT. It is constantly running around in my mind -- what could I use?? Keep in mind, I can have up to 32 kids! Last year I had 5 rows with 6 kids crammed in each and then I think I squeezed 7 up on the front row (it was THAT kind of a class - more Bubba's than Melissa Sue's).

I'd love to hear how you do this. Or if you do this . . .

Again, I am SO SUPER HAPPY about where I work that I am sharing an easy little center for you. It's black and white so you can just copy it on the copier . . . the kids have to "read" the pictures to really distinguish between short a, i, and o vowel sounds. The other two vowels will come later, I promise. I always run the pictures on colorful copy paper and the recording sheet on white. You can download it HERE.

By the way, a quick recap of the Bachelorette. I was not surprised about Ames. Is it just me or is he odd interesting??? I think he would have needed to be on my front row if he was a first grader in my class. :)


Teeth Talk

Once again, let me thank Christina for this fab idea! And for those of you who actually know me, this "losing a tooth stuff" makes me feel very ill. But I shall power through!

Last year, I made these adorable tooth badges using clear plastic badges and lanyards from Staples. I hung them by my meeting area and the kids could go grab one if they'd lost a tooth the night before or on the weekend. They didn't have to ask and then when I would notice that they were wearing one, I'd ooh and aah and ask to see their window (the spot where the tooth once was). And, of course, if they lost one during our school day, I'd make a BIGGER fuss, give them a cute certificate, and they could wear a badge. But honestly, it just grosses me out when they are wiggling their teeth and/or they have one hanging by a thread. Am I alone in this? Don't get me wrong - I LOVE when they are missing teeth. They are super cute but it's the PROCESS that bothers me.

You can download them HERE. Mine are for 3x4 sized badges so if you need to tweak them, you can download the non-PDF format HERE. I have a graph that I hang up near the badges and students color a square in the appropriate month. You can do all sorts of graphing activities with it at the end of the year.

You can download the graph HERE. And if you need to play with the months, you can get a non-PDF format HERE.

I also suggest making 2 sets because the package comes with 10 badges. Last year, I had some kids that destroyed ruined accidentally ripped the lanyard through the badge. Badges. Plural. But that's neither here nor there. Bygones.

This badge idea has endless possibilites - I saw some in the Oriental Trading magazine that had "pre-made" badges for bathroom passes. Or how about star of the week, math wizard, good friend, etc?

If you like this, please leave me a comment. Thanks again, Christina! :)
And it's Monday so you know what that means! BACHELORETTE! Let's hear it for JP! :)


Sight Words/Listening and Speaking Update

Happy Sunday to you all! As I read through some of my comments, I thought I should give a little update. My posts tend to be so long-winded (see number 5 in this post) , I honestly can't believe I forgot to give certain details!

1. Listening and Speaking - I use the Dr. Jean claps and cheers after each child has shared. We use the cheers at other times, too, but it is absolutely mandatory after each child shares. Believe you me, they remind me if, heaven forbid, I accidentally forget! The kids just love it! Fran over at Kindergarten Crayons just posted about this! I had all the cheers typed out and stapled inside my Sharing Folder but you can go HERE to print off a set of already made cards from Dr. Jean's website. TOO CUTE! She suggested putting them on a ring but I may keep them in a "card style" fashion and let the student sharing "pick a card" to see what cheer we'll give them. LOVE IT! I already printed my set and now I just need to laminate them! :) I love new stuff that was old stuff but then it's new again because of all of my blog stalking!

2. Sight Words - our District had a team of teachers come up with these words over a long period of time. They used every popular list or program out there and compiled it into what I now have. They tried to make it fit in with our Houghton Mifflin curriculum, as well. I just received an email that they are changing the order that we'll be teaching them in. Plus, our kids will be assessed on different lists during District testing. So I have a lot of work ahead of me . . . Don't you just love change?? NOT!!! (This is coming from a girl who has taught in the same grade going on 15 years now.)

I meant to include one more resource. I took all of those words from all of those lists and alphabetized them so that students can use it as a tool when they are writing. I have a copy in their writing and homework folders, plus I made a poster for our classroom which hangs up by our writing center.
You can download your copy HERE. I had to play around with the margins to make everything fit and then my Mac and I kind of got into an argument (which almost never happens - I was quite shocked) and I ended up having to trick my Mac by saying that I was putting this document on legal sized paper. You do not need to print it on legal sized paper. Just print it on letter and you're good to go.

Okay, I think that's all I needed to update. I am off to church where I will try to focus on the sermon and not think about how I am going to have to fix all of my sight word stuff. :)

Have a happy day!


Sight Words

Hi everyone! I am avoiding cleaning the house. We may or may not have friends coming over after we go out to eat with them. I feel like the house should be clean, just in case, but I am procrastinating. I almost NEVER procrastinate on classroom "to do" lists but when it comes to cleaning my house, I'm the worst. I should probably start a "to do" list on what I need to clean but I think I'll do it later. :)

Do you have a Sight Word Take Home program? It's huge in our school and begins in Kindergarten. My original version came from Susan and Christina (thanks, girls!) but has been revised on several occasions because our District changes its mind quite a bit. I love the take home part of this - it's a joint effort. You can do all kinds of rewards. My kids earn gold tags (my behavior management plan) when they pass a new list. I used to have parent volunteers listen to the kids who brought back lists, but then the parents became competitive and I had to stop. (lots of "did you know that so-and-so is ONLY on List such-and-such? OR did you know that so-and-so is ALREADY on List such-and-such?). SO! When my class size went up, I needed help! I was stressed for time to hear the kids read the lists that they had brought back. So last year I had a 6th grade student (she used to be in my class) come on her lunch recess to do it. SHE LOVED IT. HER MOM LOVED IT. MY KIDS LOVED IT. MY PRINCIPAL LOVED IT. I LOVED IT. I will continue that this year!! :)

Here's a sample:

I have an introduction letter and I assess kids before P.I.N. so that I can have each child's individual list in their packet.

If I have a kid (or two or three) that can READ all of the sight words, then I send home a letter requesting that they learn how to spell them as a challenge. Also, when students finish reading all of the lists, I send home the challenge letter.

I keep the lists in hanging file folders all nestled inside of a cute crate. I wish I could take a picture of it but it's at school. It's very organized with little tabbed dividers for each list. I also have a cute little basket with a label (sight words) and students know to put their list in it when they bring one back. That way, they are not chasing me around the room (that drives me crazy!) or asking to read the words to me. They know that once it is in the basket, either my student helper or I will get to them some time that day.
If you are interested in this at all, you can check it out {HERE}.
Do you do something similar? Please share! :)
I guess I should go clean. But first, I may look at a blog or two . . .
Happy Saturday!


Songs in the Classroom Linky Party

Hadar over at Miss Kindergarten is having a linky party about songs and I had to join in because I just LOVE her blog! She posed this question, "Do you sing songs in your classroom?" and then asked us to link up.

YES. YES. YES. I sing the whole livelong day. I use songs for transitions, learning, and getting the wiggles out. If the kids and I aren't singing, then I have Baroque, Beethoven, or George Winston playing in the background. Having an IPod Touch in my classroom has changed my whole teaching career!!! But I also sing songs that are not on my IPod and I can't help myself whenever I tell the students that we'll be doing something tomorrow. I inevitably break out into the song "The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow" from Annie. If only I could carry a tune . . .

Here's a song (not on my IPod) that I love to use for learning AND as a transition because eventually the kids' voices turn off (hooray!) and they kind of have to follow a clapping rhythm. It's to the tune of "And Bingo Was His Name-Oh" but it's called "There Are Five Vowels In Our Alphabet". I have no idea where I got it! But if it's yours, please take the credit by commenting on my post.
You can get your copy HERE. Do YOU sing songs in your classroom? Be sure to link up with Hadar at Miss Kindergarten!

Listening and Speaking

I never posted last night after my big planning/shopping day because I was busy reading other blogs all night! :) Well, I did watch Big Brother and I don't feel sorry for Keith. He had NO GAME! And I'm happy Jordan won HOH. She's too funny!!

I have to confess that I did not bargain shop and have no $1 finds to share. I swear, our local teacher supply store's prices went up!! Does $3.00 for a dozen birthday pencils sound expensive to you?! GEESH!

During planning, my friend and I revised our Sharing dates. I got the idea of Sharing from my friend, Christina, who I have mentioned before. She should really start her own teacher blog but I think she is going to start a blog of a different kind. I'll let you know when she begins because it's very exciting . . . and unusual! :)

Sharing is the program that we use for our Listening and Speaking grades, or Oral Language, as it's called in our district. But there's just something about the word "oral" that I don't like. (eeew) Basically, it's show and tell but with a FOCUS. We have a year long list of topics and students have an assigned day to share. They get up in front of the class with their item and tell all about it. My kids stand beside me so that I can whisper prompts if they need help and I also record how they did in my Sharing Folder and write notes. When the student is finished sharing, they get to pull a stick for a comment, compliment, or question from our audience. We used to pull two sticks but when my class size went up, Sharing was taking TOO long so I had to cut back. My team tied in our Step Up to Writing program with Sharing so that students start to use transition and conclusion words in their speaking, as well. It involves a stoplight to help them organize their thoughts but you could also use the Hamburger method or whatever you're used to. It is a BIG HIT every year. Parents tell me that even though their child is deathly ill, they wanted to come to school because it was their Sharing day. :) Gotta love that!

I talk about Sharing at P.I.N. so that parents understand the expectations, such as, the item should FIT IN their backpack. I learned this one the hard way when the topic "Something with Wheels" came up and I got a phone call from the office saying that so-and-so's bicycle was up there!!!! FOR REAL!! I also tell parents it should not be something SO SUPER SPECIAL that they have to drop it off in the classroom before going down to the playground. And, of course, it should be school appropriate (no weapon-like toys).

Here's a peek of last year's cover page:
And if you're interested in seeing the whole thing, you can download it HERE. I hate how my fonts and spacing don't stay true in google docs if it's not PDF, but at least you get the idea.

Please leave a comment if you check it out and/or let me know if you do something similar. I LOVE new ideas!
Happy Friday!


Blog Mixer Linky Party

It's a new day and I'm going to get out of the shower and put on actual clothes instead of pajamas! :)

I'm starting this day off with a Blog Mixer Linky Party that Yearn to Learn is hosting. This is a great way to find some new blogs that you might not know about!

Here's what you need to find and list. This reminds me of a Scavenger Hunt - I must win!

1. A blogger who is a "New Kid on the Blog"
(Let's say someone who has blogged 2 months or less and has less than 200 followers)

2. Post a blogger in your same grade level

3. Post a blogger in a different grade level

4. It's all about the button. Find a cute blog button and post it.

Ready, Set, Go!

1. My kid blogger is Kristin at All I Really Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten. She is so new that I literally became her first follower a minute ago. She was following me and YES, I picked her because we have the same name and spell it the same way!!!! I hope you'll go give her some love.

2. I love all of the first grade blogs. Hmmmmm. I'm going to go with Rachelle at What the Teacher Wants. (She also shares the blog with Natalie, a 5th grade teacher but don't worry about that. I don't think I'm cheating) I reached out to Rachelle at the very beginning of my blogging adventure and she was quick to reply! Thank you, Rachelle! Plus, she always has great stuff to share and a million followers so you know she's good!

3. I am addicted to the Kindergarten blogs and they all make me feel like I want to teach Kindergarten! I love Hadar over at Miss Kindergarten You should definitely check her out if you don't know her . . . but somehow I think everyone does. It was her birthday recently and blogs were celebrating everywhere. Seriously! Plus, she highlighted some of my free worksheets which I think made people come visit me! :)

4. I LOVE Kimberly's button. She is amazing and always responds to emails and introduced my blog. She is also short - we are both 4'11" !!! Although my driver's license says I'm 5' so I would appreciate it if you wouldn't mention my real height. Thanks!
Isn't it adorable??? And I love the alliteration of her blog name.

Now it's your turn and you better hurry because I think I'm winning! :)

Go link up with Yearn to Learn and start hunting around for those blogs to spotlight!

I may be back later with some more free stuff but first, I am off to plan with my partner, have a loooooong lunch at the Olive Garden (can you say breadsticks and alfredo sauce!?) and then shopping at our local teacher supply store, CM. See you later!


Over 200 Followers

I can't believe I have over 200 followers. I just started this blog a week ago . . . WOW! That's absolutely incredible to me. Especially the fact that the majority of the followers are not my family members!!! :)

I really wanted to go through all of my files and find something amazing for a freebie. But we had to put our dog, Foster, to sleep yesterday. I know this is not the place to talk about personal stuff, but his loss is weighing heavily on my heart and I just can't concentrate properly. If you want to see what a cute boy he was, click on my "about" page. I can't bring myself to take the picture down. :(

Anyways, I did find one of my simple, fun, beginning of the year math centers for you. It's a "roll the dice" game which helps familiarize students with number patterns. A picture code also ensures that all kids are successful. You can download it HERE. Or at least I think you can . . . take that, Google Docs!

Please leave me a comment if you download it! And if you're not following me, please do! The more, the merrier! :)

I am going to watch other's people drama now and catch up on Teen Mom. And here's something else for me to look forward to: Big Brother and The Challenge are on tonight!


P.I.N. Treat Bags

I am still going through my beginning of the year files and I tackled my P.I.N. project today. In my district, Parent Information Night is the same as Back to School Night in other districts (or at least I think so). We have two sessions so that parents with more than one child can attend both. And I have to present two times. This doesn't work for our families that have three or more children but generally the parents split up. None of that matters to me. What matters to me is that I am ON. The parents aren't coming to look at their child's work (that's what we call Open House, which I LOVE, by the way). The parents are coming to find out about their child's TEACHER and what my policies are and blah blah blah. I have to do all of the talking. Normally, I'm fine with that, but there is just something about the parents sitting in the little first grade desks with all of their eyes on ME. It's STILL stressful and I'm about to do it for the 15th time! I tend to use humor to lighten the mood and I talk so much that there is very little time for questions. Ha! I also use treat bags to make a good impression!

I used to give out apples with a little tag that said "Parents are teachers too". Then I upgraded the cutesy factor by making treat bags with Hershey's Treasures candy and Extra gum. The treat bags were clear and the tag said something like "I will TREASURE your child and make this year EXTRA special". Well, I have to say that the parents ate it up! LITERALLY! (which also makes it difficult for them to ask questions because their mouths are full) But last year when my class size went up to 31 first graders (yep, still harping on that), I couldn't afford all of those treats! The treasures candy is really hard to find and it's expensive. Grrr. But feel free to steal any of the above ideas. Or . . . here's what I do now.

So last year, my team and I put our heads together and we came up with a semi-cost effective treat bag. I got the littlest clear treat bags that Michael's makes. I don't know how much I paid because I got them last summer but you get 100 so I didn't have to buy those again. I also got ribbon from their sales section and it was only 50 cents a roll!!!! I still have left over ribbon, too! I went to Walmart today and got Hugs candy for $2 and I got 3 bags (I also hit up Target but their Hugs were $3.49). I made tags that say "I look forward to a rewarding year with your child. HUGS, Mrs. Oldham". I would LOVE to share these with you at Google Docs but we have still not made up from our earlier fight. Seriously, can someone explain to me why I am having such a hard time with it????

So this is all you need:

And here's a small sample of what I put on top of the packets that I put out at P.I.N.

If you want the Hugs tag, click {HERE}.  The Treasures and Extra Gum tag is {HERE}.  Both versions are non-PDF so that you can add your own name.  I no longer have the apple tag because that was before I even knew what a computer was and my teaching partner made everything for me.

I'm happy I get to cross this off my list! :) Do you give out treats at P.I.N. or Back to School Night? Please share your ideas - I'm always looking for something new!

The Bachelorette is back on tonight! I am not a fan of Ashley's but the drama is fantastic! She is always crying!


Parent Notes

I've been going through my beginning of the year files and I thought I would share this note that I give to parents on the first day of school. I wish I could take credit for the idea or at least give credit to the right person, but I can't remember where I got this (Susan? Niki? Christina?). Thank you anyway!
What I have learned is that parents LOVE talking about their children. I have sent this home for about 10 years now and it really came in handy last year when my class size went from 20 to 31. Yes, 31 first graders! (This is off topic, but what is your class size this year with all of the budget cuts?) Anyways, these notes really helped me get to know my kids a lot sooner than I think I would have. One mom described her son as a St. Bernard (not a bull) in a china shop -- because he was playful and big, and hadn't grown into his size yet. CUTE! I have to warn you that you will inevitably get that ONE letter. You know what I'm talking about. The note that says their child was talking by 3 months, reading by 6 months, and was a published writer by the time they were one! THOSE notes are HILARIOUS to read and I'm always tempted to read them to my partner teacher. Instead, I bring them home and read them to my husband in a Thurston Howell the Third voice. It's always a bonus when you read a few that say how happy they are to have YOU as a teacher! :)
If you'd like this for yourself and don't want to retype it, click {HERE} for the version in color.   I also have a black and white version {HERE}.  Both versions are non-PDF so that you can make any changes, add your name, etc.  I think it's helpful to attach an envelope to it - I always put a cute little label addressed to ME. :)
I'm always looking for new ideas or an update to this so please share!



Seriously? 162 followers? I am SO HAPPY! I can't say thank you enough!

I thought about what to give away all night (after Big Brother - am I the only one who watched?!!? They brought back Rachel and Brendan. EEEEW!) and I think I found something SOMEONE could use. I have my rhyming cards over at my TpT store for FREE. I printed two sets on cardstock, laminated them, and cut them apart. Then I used them whole class AND as a center activity. I thought maybe first grade teachers could use them at the beginning of the year and maybe kinder teachers towards the middle. ??? Last year, my team was really surprised when our first trimester district language arts assessment included rhyming, as in "please tell me two words that rhyme with boat". WHAT? This wasn't in our pacing guides and we were used to seeing it SECOND trimester. I threw a little fit (but that was BEFORE I took my vow to be upbeat and positive no matter what the district throws at us!). :) So this year, you can bet these cards are coming out IMMEDIATELY. You can't fool me twice! When I use them whole class, we do partner work -- think Kagan or Think, Pair, Share. My kids love finding their partner and ask to play over and over again. Once we've played whole class, they're ready to go into a center.

So go check these out over at my TpT store! You can get them HERE and the recording sheet is HERE. I hope someone can use them. By the way, most of my stuff will be free because I love DJ Inkers but she won't let me sell my stuff with her clipart. I wish she would give in already and become my business partner!

As for me, I'm going to go help a friend move. This reminds me of the Friends episode when Ross is moving and asks Pheobe to help. She says, "I really wish I could but I don't want to." Ha! This can be used in other situations, too, such as "Can you move into the portable?" "I really wish I could but I don't want to." Or "Can you come to my tupperware party?" "I really wish I could but I don't want to." Try it!

Thanks again for all of your support!! And let me know what you think of the rhyming cards or if I should go back to the drawing board for a better freebie. :) Happy Friday!



I am speechless (not true, that never happens) overwhelmed! I went to bed last night with 12 followers, woke up to 62, ran some errands, went to the dentist (we will not talk about THAT), tutored, and now I have 100 followers! That is CRAZY!

I have to say a BIG THANK YOU to Kimberly at Funky First Grade Fun for introducing me to everybody. Thank you Kimberly!

I know that everyone does FUN FREEBIES for 100 followers but I don't have anything prepared because this is so unexpected! I promise to think about it and come back tomorrow with SOMETHING!

As for now, I am BEAMING (or at least I think so . . . my mouth is still numb). Thank you to all of my new followers!

And it gets even better . . . the Season Premiere of Flipping Out was on last night and it did not disappoint! And now - hold on to your dignity - the new season of Big Brother airs tonight! Who's with me?? :)


10 Things About Me

I am joining my first linky party. WooHoo! Rachel at Go Fourth! with Mrs. Owens is hosting the party and I just had to join in the fun.

10 Things to Know About Me
1. I am an avid reader. I can’t read a book without knowing I have another one in line, ready to go.
2. I love dogs. I like the way their paws smell. I know!
3. I am a twin. I love you, Kerry!
4. I am anal and organized. I drive myself crazy sometimes!
5. I talk. A LOT. I get loud when I'm excited.
6. I love reality TV. All reality TV. It’s a little embarrassing but I don't care.
7. I love my husband. He is my best friend.
8. I love my church and my small group.
9. I am short. It took me a long time to be okay with it but this past year I started wearing flip flops without any heel at all. This is growth but a different kind!
10. I don’t need to eat meals. I’m fine with junk food.

Now it's your turn! Be sure to link up with Rachel at Go Fourth! with Mrs. Owens



I am so excited to start my own first grade teacher blog. I have been stalking blogs for a few weeks now and so many of you have inspired me to start my own. I hope to link up and make lots of connections with all of you amazing teachers out there.

First, I have to say a big thank you to Diana at www.customblogdesigns.blogspot.com for designing my blog for me. I LOVE it. She is super easy to work with and FAST. I highly recommend her to anyone wanting a new blog or a makeover. Thank you, Diana!

Next, I can't believe all of the goodies everyone has been sharing. I have been printing stuff like crazy and can't wait to use all of my new stuff. I just set up my TpT store and put a couple of beginning of the year color worksheets there. I use these every year and have to give a big shout out to my friend, Christina, for thinking of them in the first place. I use one each day by putting them out on the desks for students to work on first thing in the morning. The kiddos are successful, don't need help, and you can take care of all of the lunch money, notes from home, parents at your door (or is that just my school??), and maybe even one or two cryers. It also helps us get into the routine of Morning Work, which I'll talk about on another post. You can check out the color worksheets here.
I also have some mixed practice here. They are both FREE and I hope someone can use them. All I ask is to please help me get started with some FOLLOWERS. Can you please follow me and leave a comment? Thank you so much - I really appreciate it.

That's it for now. I hope to hear from you!