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12 in 12

I'm linking up with Miss Kindergarten and A Teeny Tiny Teacher for the 12 in 12 linky party!  Click the picture below to link up too!!

My 12 favorite things!

12. Favorite movie you watched: 21 Jump Street - I think movies should make you laugh

11. Favorite TV series: New Girl & The Mindy Project

10. Favorite restaurant: Mogul's - a local Indian restaurant - SO good!
9. Favorite new thing you tried: Teaching a self-contained classroom instead of resource room...I LOVE having my kids all day, even the days they suck all the energy out of me!

8. Favorite gift you got: My new humidifier: 
It's the round white thing...Waffles was not pleased that there was steam coming out of it.

7. Favorite thing you pinned:
soooo cute!
Probably gave me inspiration for making my own bulletinboard adorable!

6. Favorite blog post: My Favorite blog post(s) are the Peek at My Week posts...I should probably do them more!

5. Best accomplishment: Finishing Grad School!!!

4. Favorite picture(s):

My two new neices!

3. Favorite memory: Road Trips this summer with Dave

2. Goal for 2013: Have more fun!

1. One Little Word: Relax

2, 4, 6, 8!

I've been dreading introducing multiplication to my class. I have been using Touch Math in my room...well by "using Touch Math" I mean I printed off some packets from the touch math kits.  I only taught the touch points to 2 students.  I told the rest of the class to just ignore the touch points and add like they usually would.  They didn't listen.  As I walked around, I noticed that EVERYONE was using the touch points without me teaching them!  When it was time for subtraction, I let them choose which packet they wanted - touch points or no touch points.  They all picked touch points.  One day instead of doing math, we just talked.  I asked them why they wanted touch points, because all but 2 of them could add without them.  Their answers surprised me....the touch points took the anxiety out of math for them!  They said things like: "I don't need a number line now" "I lost my place on the number line" "I don't have to think as hard".  They LOVE touch math.  

I decided to go find the upper touch math kits to see how they teach multiplication.  They use skip counting...students have to skip count by 9's to multiply by 9.  To me, that seems incredibly hard BUT last year, I had a student who learned to multiply that way.  He taught himself to skip count insanely fast.  So I figured I would focus my multiplication instruction on skip counting and see what happens! 

As I said in previous posts, I am starting centers when we get back from break.  Since I'm also starting multiplication, I decided to make some simple center activities (and posters). 
Here is a sample of the posters (Sorry the edges are cut off a little): 

 Here are some center cards...students can either skip count and put the cards in order (2, 4, 6, 8) or match the problems to the answers. 
I made 2 different sizes for these cards...below is the larger version: 

Finally, I wanted to give my students the visual of hopping over numbers down a number line so I made cards with numbers 1-100.  I also included a frog game piece that students can make hop by 3's (or whatever number).  

I have a few other activity ideas for these cards but I'm saving them for when I can take pictures of them in my classroom.  If this is something you could use in your room, check it out here!  Remember, everything in my store is 20% off until January 1st!!

New Pinterest Boards

Hello Readers! 
I hope you all are enjoying your time off, I know I am!  I don't think I ever stop thinking about school.  I decided to start centers the day we go back to school for both reading and math.  I've been pinning ideas like crazy for my reading centers so I decided to create some new boards specifically for center ideas.  Tonight I worked on a word work center board and a listening center board.  There are soooo many materials out there, most of them free!  I am not going to spend my time reinveting the wheel and you shouldn't either. Go check out my new (and old) boards for ideas for your centers!  I will post more about the centers as I set them up and actually implement them.  
Also, follow me on Pinterest if you don't already...I'm VERY good at keeping up with pinterest (unlike the blog lately).  
I'll leave you with a few items from my pinterest boards: 
fishing for letters
Use an inflateable pool (or a large cup or bowl) to "fish" for letters to make words. 

Reading response mat...uses all different reading skills and strategies.  Kids love them because of the vis-a-vie marker.  (explanation on blog...sign up to get a free sample)
Make listening center folders with response sheets in page protectors or laminated.  This way students can write on them over and over again.  Collect their folders once a week, check their work, and have them erase everything.  It cuts down on the amount of copying you need to do.  

P.S. Don't forget about my sale...ends January 1st! 

Grad School Sale!


Here are some items available in my store all at 20% off: 
Math Work Stations

Science Journals

Prompting Guide

Readers Notebook

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!  Enjoy your few days off :)

Work Drawers & Sale

The most common question I hear from teachers is "What do your kids do while you are meeting with small groups?"  As a resource room teacher, I didn't have to worry about that.  However, now I have 9 students with special needs at 9 different levels who need customized work while I meet with each of them 1 on 1 or in pairs.  My biggest reading group is 2 students.  I started the year with individualized work folders.
You can read about those here.  Basically, I was printing individualized work for all the students every day...a lot of books from Reading A to Z.
Here are the bins.

Inside each crate, each student had a folder for Monday-Friday.  

My principal has limited our paper and ink supply so I had to come up with a new plan.  It was also a lot of prep work to make that many books and packets a week.  My new plan was to use work drawers.  I inherited a cabinet full of games and activities.  I assigned each child a drawer (a few students share a drawer but again, no more than 2) and loaded it with games and activities that target the skills the students are working on.  I now change the drawer contents once a month.
I bought dry erase labels from Martha Stewart at Staples for the drawers.  I recommend writing with wet erase markers because as the kids touched the drawers, the writing started to come off.  
Each morning my students had to complete a checklist before going to their work drawer.  The checklist changed a little but it was something like: 
Journal Writing
Spelling Page
Sight word flash card practice
Sight word book (2 pages)
Phonics book (3 pages)
As the students worked, I pulled my reading "groups" over.  
I really like this system because it is very low maintence and the routines are easy to teach.  The drawers also served as my "When I'm Done" work.  My biggest problem with it is that so many of my students need adult support to read the directions and make sure they aren't practicing wrong. The other problem is that during times like the week before Christmas, it was slightly too unstructured.  The kids were bouncing off the walls (some literally jumped on walls).  Maybe I'm the grinch but I like a quiet, structured classroom so starting after break, I'm going to attempt centers (again). 
 Any advice as I work on setting centers up over break? 

Also - I'm going to have a Sale from December 26th to January 1st in my store to celebrate finishing Grad School!!

Silence for Sandy Hook Elementary


Guided Reading Plans

I am not a fan of writing lesson plans.  I love teaching and thinking of ideas but actually writing plans down is not something I do well.  I keep changing my plan format because I need something easy to fill in but comprehensive.  I decided to search in my new favorite search engine {pinterest} and found this format:
Guided Reading - go to TN store for levels L-V and cool schedule cards
(Click the picture to be taken to the product)
I like it for a lot of reasons.  First, it is so easy for a sub to follow which is important! Second, it is pretty much a checklist so it's easy to fill in but I have room to write in discussion questions, vocab words, and my own teaching points.  I will also add an assessment and objective to the plan.  Third, the format follows the guided reading routine that I use in my room which is nice :) Finally, I needed a plan format that isn't super "cookie cutter" like many checklist formats.  This one changes for each reading level (I'm assuming she used Fountas and Pinnell's contiuum of literacy to make this) so it is customized for each students level.  
The pack also includes a sheet for observing behaviors at each level so it's easy to track progress.
I bought the A-N pack for $5 and am very happy but in my search, I also pinned a bunch of plan formats so head over to my pinterest boards to check them out if you're interested!  

Candy land

Did you go black Friday shopping?  I did but I didn't go early this year because I didn't really want much.  One thing I did get was Candy Land which I turned into letters and letter sounds candy land :) 
I simply wrote letters on all of the cards - capital and lower case.  I also labeled all the pieces and box with the number 1 because I may make different games too.  

To play, students will have to identify the letter before moving.  You could also have them identify the letter and letter sound or a word that begins/ends with that sound. 

I bought four candy lands (I figured I'd come up with a ton of ideas if I only bought one).  I'm thinking about writing sight words on one set AND making a place value one.  Students could round the numbers or write them in expanded or word form.  You could also do math facts and whoever answers first can move to that color.  The possibilities are endless!  Please comment with your ideas!!  

Update: Mel from Seusstastic  has a bunch of Candy Land ideas!  Thanks Jennifer for letting me know!

I'm Thankful For

I am thankful for all of my followers and all of the teacher bloggers out there who are sharing wonderful materials and ideas.  I feel like I say this a lot here but your blogs and products have been a life saver to me! It is not easy to keep up with a blog while teaching so thank you for your time and dedication.  If you are like me and you sitting online looking for some fun filler ideas for this short week, I have a freebie for you!  

Click on the picture to download the writing paper.  There is a black and white version too.
Have a great short week everyone! 

Pumpkin Book Reports

This week my littles worked on their pumpkin book reports.  I used this amazing file from Hope King for all the materials.  My students LOVE to read.  Just as a reminder, I have 7 second and third graders who are reading between non readers and level F.  I let them choose whatever book they wanted but I did pull some easier readers out for students who wanted a smaller selection to choose from.   I did book talks for the books I pulled out.

Once the books were chosen, the students read them with me or an aide - several times.  Not all at once, but throughout the two weeks.  I wanted to make sure they knew the story extremely well.

Then we had hurricane days so instead of spreading this project out over a few days, we did it all on Halloween.  Here is our hall display:

I have more pictures but they all have my students in them. 

Every.Single.Teacher stopped in to say how adorable these pumpkins were.  If you haven't done this project, you should!  

Book sale

Every year, my area has a giant book sale. They open a huge warehouse filled with books. Anything $10 or less becomes $1. $13 -$10 is $2 and so point is everything is super cheap! Look at what I got for $36:


That is 13 hardcover Patricia Polacco books! I was freaking out everytime I saw more and throwing them gently placing them in my bags.  Here are the other books I bought as well:

And finally, I bought 2 baby books.  2 of my 3 siblings are having babies this year (one was just born :D) so I grabbed these adorable baby books for them.  I actually bought the same one for myself the last time I went to the book sale haha.  

Tomorrow, I will post the super cute pumpkin book reports we made during our fall party!  

Calendar Time

Calendar time has changed a lot in my room this year, as I expected it would (as well as everything else!).  I think I keep changing things because I want everything to run as smoothly as possible.  I don't want to change my calendar every day and update all the little calendar journal pieces. Until I figure out my dream set up, things will change!  It may change again but here is what I am doing currently: 

This is the interactive calendar from .  My students used this in their K-1 room so I thought, why not continue to use it!  It doesn't cover everything I wanted  needed it to but it is a set calendar routine that I don't have to do anything for.  The students can run calendar time because they already learned the routine from the previous teacher.  

Here is how I'm supplementing the calendar: 
This is a calendar journal that I got for FREE at Eberhart's Explorers.  Click on the picture to be taken to her post & freebie.  My lower level students will use this journal.  It is fairly simple, doesn't require a lot of writing, and it provides repetitive practice of the basics.  

For my higher students, I just purchased this: 
I wanted my higher kids to work with addition, subtraction, time, and money daily as well. Click on the picture to go to the item on TPT ($1.50 - and it came with larger sheets to make a calendar wall).

I'm always looking for different calendar journal/number of the day sheets.  What do you use?

Peek at our...Month

This was a crazy week Month!  There was no school on Monday (Columbus Day).  On Tuesday, the local fire department was there all morning.  They did a 45 minute fire-safety presentation and then K-2nd grade classes went outside to check out the fire trucks.  The kids got to sit in the back of a truck and go in the ladder.  They LOVED it.  

After the fire safety assembly, the students wrote thank you letters that we put together into a book: 

*Morning Work*
I hate doing morning work.  Most of my students eat breakfast at school which takes up a good chunk of time and then nobody finishes their work at the same time.  It's also another piece of paper that I have to differentiate and go over and either grade or send home.  I've decided to do sensory tubs each morning instead.  Later in the year, I'll add math manipulatives.  The kids love rice bins but I have a student with Prader Willi (he is always hungry but has a very slow metabolism so he may eat the rice if he isn't watched carefully).  I looked up a way to color the rice so it looks less like food.  

The end result looks like sprinkles (especially all mixed up) so my goal of making it look not like food didn't work so well BUT we used vinegar to dye the rice and I made everyone smell it so they would think it's not something to eat.  

To make it, you will need rice, noodles, or corn (not pictured), white vinegar, food coloring, and ziplock bags. 

 I let the students measure 1 cup of rice or noodles and pour it into a bag.  I poured 2 tablespoons of vinegar into a small cup and let the students add food coloring.  Pour the colored vinegar into the bag, seal it, and let the kids squish it all together.   
We laid it out on lunch room trays to dry.  I left the rice in opened bags and just flipped them occasionally.  The noodles I took out of the bags because they don't absorb all of the liquid like the rice does.  
I mixed all the rice together and added magnetic letters and numbers to it.  I added Halloween erasers to the noodles.  The kids like finding the different objects in the bins but their favorite sensory activity is playdough. The corn is soaking this weekend, we will see what it looks like on Monday!  Now I'm off to prepare for Sandy!!  

I've been Boo'd!


I've been Boo'd by Kara at Sped-ventures!  I absolutely love her blog.  She recently posted about how she made Henry and Mudge workbooks in her classroom which is something I am definitely going to have to try!   
Thank you to Cynthia at 2nd grade Pad for hosting this linky! 

Here are the rules for this linky:
1. Choose a fellow blogger that has MORE followers.
2. A blogger that has about the SAME number of followers .
3. Someone that has LESS followers.
4. Highlight their blogs with links to encourage others to check them out.
5. Don't forget to let your fellow bloggers know that you shared about them.
6. Lastly, leave them some love by offering them a goody from your store as their "treat."

Here are three blogs that I find myself going to a lot lately: 

More followers than me: 
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Hope from Second Grade Shenanigans always has the cutest activities in her room.  She is unbelievably creative and shares all her her ideas on her blog.  We are doing her pumpkin book reports this week and I can't wait to share them! 

About the same amount of followers: 
Ashley from The Resource Room Teacher made her resource room look so warm and inviting!  My room never looked that cute as a RR teacher!  She also made some great fidgits for her students that I really want to make! 

Less followers than me: 
Kelli from Tales from a Traveling Teacher has great printable math journals that I just started using with my students.  The kids like them better than doing worksheets and since most of the journals cover a variety of grades, I can differentiate for my class easily which is very important to me! 

Daily Work Folders

Here's a little update since I have been MIA for a while.  It has been CRAZY as I'm sure it has been for all of you too.  I started the year with the plan of having my students working in center stations while I work with small groups.  That did not go so well...all the movement and activity in the room was over stimulating for my kids.  I talked to some coworkers and found out the the previous teacher did work folders while she worked with small groups.  I decided to try it and so far it's working!  I'm not a fan of having the kids doing a TON of worksheets all day but they needed it, at least to start the year. Hopefully soon, they will be able to use their reader's response notebooks. 
Here is how I have my work folders set up: 

The reading box has a folder for each student for each day of the week.  I load the folders for the week Friday morning (after they finished their Friday folder).  So far, I have not graded any of the work in the folders.  I staple everything together and put a smiley face on it (or have them correct mistakes first), and send it home!  In the back of the crate, I have extra hanging file folders for each reading group I see.  Lesson materials go in there.

The math folders are set up the same way. Their text books are in the back of the crate.  I taught the students to put their folders away when their work was finished.  I have them put it behind all the other folders so the next days work is always the first folder.  

In the middle, I have my writing crate.  Different types of writing paper are kept in here.  Large primary writing lines go in the red folders, small primary writing lined paper is in the yellow folders, and blue folders hold the single lined paper.  

Part of the new teacher evaluation system in my district includes a rubric which really focuses on differentiation.  These folders aren't the most exciting but it makes it really easy to differentiate for each kid.