Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Little Surprise Turns My Day Around!

Not a teaching related post, but definitely a good read for those who like those nice little stories that make you realize there are plenty of good people out there.

Here is my little story....

Have you ever had one of those mornings that nothing seems to go right?  This past Friday, I had one of those days.  I couldn't get myself out the door.  On top of the minor setbacks, I left my breakfast on the kitchen table.  I stopped by this locally owned breakfast restaurant, Martins.  (They have the BEST biscuits in the world!)  As I pulled up to the window, I handed the lady my card.  She handed it back and told me the gentleman in front of me had paid for my breakfast and simply said Merry Christmas! I couldn't believe it! I was so moved by what this man did for me. 

Such a simple little act.  Completely changed my day on small little act.  So small, yet I couldn't thank him, and he will never know how his act changed my day.   Of course I plan on paying it forward with an act of my own, but I was so  moved by his actions that I wanted to share with everyone I could.

Whoever you were... Thank you! 

To those of you reading, I challenge you to pay it forward.  One small act.  Nothing big. 

Happy Holidays!

As always,

Happy Blogging!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Getting Back into the Groove: Research Writing

After almost two months of neglecting this poor blog, I figured it was time to hop back online.  Like many teachers, I have been swamped with school work. 

Teaching children how to take notes always gives me a headache.  I am still on the hunt for the perfect lesson on how to introduce 4th graders to note taking.  I went about it a little different this year.  My goal for this lesson was getting my students to answer questions they were looking for and to write it in their own words.

I took construction paper and made it into a mini folder:

All I did was cut rectangles that were a little bigger than the index cards being used.  Then, I had the kids glue each side except the top where the cards would be inserted. 
Students wrote their topics on the front of the mini folder.  On the back of their research folder, they wrote where they got their information from (works cited).
I gave each child 3 index cards.  I had 3 questions every child had to answer about their weather topic. I placed a sticker with each question on the blank side of each index card. 

Once the students found an answer to a question, they wrote it on the back of the index card. 
It worked well, but I am sure I will tweak it again. I am not sure how sold I am on teaching fourth grade students how to take notes.  Sometimes, I feel it is too young.  Mine still struggle with writing complete sentences. Anywho, enough with the ranting.
I hope to get my next post up some time this weekend.  I am tweaking the final activity that I will be posting.
Until then,
Happy Blogging!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

TpT Back to School Sale

School is back in session and I am drowning in back to school work.  I will make this short and sweet.  I will be revealing my classroom in my next blog post! I did want to give all my followers a heads up that my entire store will be on sale this weekend!  Don't forget to use TpT's extra 10% off coupon code!


Happy Blogging!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Back to School: Tips, Freebies, & Giveaway!

Back to School

School is back and what does that mean?  Back to School Blog Hope! Before you begin to read this blog post, you might want to hop back to Christi Fultzs' Blog to hop back to the beginning of the blog hop!  Why?  A giveaway of course!  Every blog participating in the blog hop will have a fabulous freebie.  When you finish making your rounds to all of the blogs, you will have the opportunity to win products from everyone participating!

Back to school Tip

       Think ahead.  Conference week will eventually arrive.  I hated having to always scramble to find who had what siblings at our school. The worst thing is when siblings have different last names.  I also disliked having to wait for every teacher to go through the offices' files to find siblings.  Why not take care of the sibling issue at the beginning of the year when you are guaranteed to meet almost all of the parents & get all of your paperwork returned?  I am not sure what other schools do, but the plan I was using (waiting until every teacher met and looking through tons of files) didn't work.
*Keep Reading for more....*


(click button to grab my freebie!)
 So..... a few years ago. I came up with a solution.  A student/parent information form.  I give the Spanish/English for to all of the parents in my Meet and Greet folder. I ask them send the paperwork back to school with their child. Results: I always have a copy of the family contact information and their siblings.   The best part about it..........  I don't have to scramble or run to the office looking for "John's Siblings".  Enjoy the freebie, and please leave some feedback.  I update the form every year!


Confessions of a Teaching Junkie

(click blog hop button to head to next blog!)

 Hop on over to Confessions of a Teaching Junkie to find another great tip and freebie!  Remember, complete the blog hop and enter the giveaway!  A LOT of great items are up for grabs!

Thank you for hopping by!

As always, Happy Blogging!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Back to School: The Nesting Bench & Tuesday Folders

The Nesting Bench

I have been teaching 4th grade for quite some time, and one thing I have learned is that 4th graders DO NOT like to sit on the rug or floor.  So, this summer I had a vision.  This vision will hopefully be my mini lesson savior :)  I call it the The Nesting Bench. 

Look closely.  At first glance, it looks like a bookcase, but in reality it is a bench within a bench.  The first bench serves as storage.  It never moves. When the children come to the rug, they use the handles on the side, and move it back. 
When the bench is pulled back, it will reveal another bench.  The benches are sturdy enough for both storage.  When the mini lesson is over, two students use the handles and return the slightly taller bench back over the small storage bench.
These are so great, that I am returning to Home Depot tomorrow to create another bench for the other two side of my rug.  If you're interested in making these they cost about $205 without the staining. 
Materials needed to make benches:
* 2 x 10 x 16 piece of wood  (ask the home depot guy to cut it into 2- 15 inch pieces, 2 18 inch pieces, 1 3 1/2 ft board, 1 4ft board, and the remainder as shelf for little bench)
* #8 screws
* Drill
* 2 braces (for the taller bench)
* 2 x4 hardboard (backing for the tall bench optional)

Tuesday Folders

On Tuesdays, my school sends out information, newsletters, and school wide letters to parents.  They go home in a red folder called Tuesday Folders.  My math partner and I decided to save time and send their weekly work home in these folders. 
I want to share how I get everything out to students.  In the picture below are my homeroom's mailboxes.
Mine are numbered because I have a large student turn over rate.  In the past, I have labeled their mailbox with their name.  Throughout the week, I have students return papers and graded work in the mailbox (along with all of the school papers).  When Tuesday rolls around, students grab their folder (left side of mailbox) and take all of their papers out.  They go home, have them sign the page stating the parent looked through the folder and return it back the next day.  It is super easy and the children do it all on their own. 
Summer has flown by. I return to school tomorrow. Keep a lookout for back to school freebies. I predict a large list of freebies to come (within the next few days).
As always, happy blogging!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

My new love Art Studio, I made it, & New Blog Design!

I have started to dabble in an app called ArtStudio. I love to draw, and so I wanted to try my hand at clip art making.  After playing around with the app, I found it very easy to work with.  I definitely suggest using your sketches to create art, instead of doing it from scratch in the app.  Anyways, here is a glimpse of what I would possibly look like if I was a cartoon.

Once again, I have found another way to post daily objectives and homework for students. Our county provides agendas for all of ours students.   As part of their morning routine, students are required to write in their agendas.  These are super easy to make and use.  Once they're done, you can write with Expo marker and wipe off easily.

After all was said and done, the total price of this project was less than $10.  The frames are actually from the Dollar Tree.  The frames I used were the 8X10 certificate pop out frames. The other thing you need are command hooks. 

All I did to make these simple frames was find a cute little border that matched my class theme. Then I typed the title of all the sections in the agenda. After that, I printed the paper, placed in in the frame, and hung it up in my room.  I didn't post a picture of it on the wall because I need to work on getting the gunk off the left side of my board.  You can see it in the second picture on the top left corner.

I am SUPER DUPER excited to show off my new blog design!  Nancy Messenger from


 just finished (literally like 10 minutes ago) redesigning my blog!  She was so wonderful to work with! If you are in the market for a new blog design, please stop, visit her site, and show her some love.  Everything was custom designed to what I wanted, and best of all it was very budget friendly!

Be on the lookout for the next few posts.  I am currently finishing a new bilingual parent and students information page and a new idea/twist on how to get big kids to gather at the rug. 

Until then, happy blogging!

(don't you love my new, cute signature!)

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Welcoming Parents and Freebie

My school has many parents who speak Spanish. I can't count the number of times they have come to the school asking how they can help their child. I just started a series called "Bilingual School Stuff". My vision is that the set will contain across the curriculum items that we use or activities from the classroom and explain it to parents in Spanish. As I was creating the set, I was thinking of all of the various situations we have in the school. I realized I also needed to make a set that contained English and Spanish because we also have families with language barriers. The older some of the kids get the less they use their Spanish, or in most cases, many of the students never learned how to read it or speak it. I figured having both languages on the cards would help those families because the child and the parent can read the card and both understand what questions they need to answer before, during, or after reading.

Of all of my work, I am really proud of this set. I struggled with reading when I was a child. My parents, bless their hearts, tried to help, but the language barrier was such a problem. Hopefully, these cards can help a few parents and teachers out there!

Please check out READ WITH ME at my TpT store!

Here are what some of the pages look like!

Now...for all you cute template people out there! As for now I am making these free. I had so much fun making these cute, that I couldn't sell these. I have made, what I (hopefully) think, is a cute nurse pass/note set. These should make you life easier when you send a student up to the nurse with a note. Everything has been filled in and all you have to do is check the child's symptoms! I think I covered all of the reoccurring symptoms. If you happen to catch one that I overlooked, let me know and I will add it on the nurse list. Enjoy! Here is the link to my store to grab these!

Happy Blogging!


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Going on a Blog Hunt

Well as many of you know, Google Reader has vanished. Laura Candler created a fun blog game called Going on a Blog Hunt. I will admit I am having to go through and find everyone I was following on blogger and now add them to Bloglovin. This site is wonderful. If you haven't joined yet do it after you read this. It is super easy! All you do is create an account. After your account is created, all you have to do is go through and search for blogs. When you find one, click follow and it automatically updates for you. The most updated posts are in your feed for the day.

Take a moment and sign up for Bloglovin. I would love for you to follow me and go to Laura's blog and find some new blogs to follow!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Snazzy Stools!

Finally! I have come up with a solution on how to get my chairs to match my room theme! My room colors are vibrant, so my OCD self would like everything to match :) These are what I have from Ikea. They are under $6 a piece. Great deal! I have seen them around for $10 per stool.

By the way, these stools work great under tables. They save a lot of space. I have had them for 2 years and they have held up marvelously. I definitely recommend them if you teach upper grades. I have had other stools before and my 4th graders have broken them before the year was over.

I found a new spray paint that works on metal and plastic, which is great considering the stools are made up of both!

Spray paint away and the final product is a bright stool! Below are the three that I finished. I have a total of 6 in my room, but I am considering buying another set since my kids love to sit on these and they're better than pillows. They keep any unwanted critters away.

Aside from painting, I have been dabbling in clip art. I have a few things designed and hopefully within the next few weeks I will be able to get out a scribble pack freebie.

As always, Happy blogging!


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Making Interactive Notebooks More Personal & Fun

Summer has kinda kept me away (ok A LOT) from blogging. After this year, I needed a break from everything. I am back! I wish I was still in Puerto Rico on my honeymoon because we had a blast! Here are some photos from our trip. I definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a getaway (no kids). Best of all it's considered part of the U.S. ... no passports!

Bio Bay lagoon! The only lagoon in the world that glows every night.

One of MANY iguanas all over the island!

A waterfall we found while hiking the El Yunque Rainforest.

Having some fun at Senor Frogs!

Alrighty... now on to what you're probably here to read about. How to personalize a composition notebook. First of all I will warn you this does take some time, but the end product is wonderful and the kids LOVE them! Before you begin gather the following:
* wallpaper sample book (many store that carry wallpaper books will give them to you for free if you call ahead of time and let them know you are working on a project for school)
* Xacto Knife
* Spray glue Scotch Super Adhesive Spray ( I have done this for years and it has to be this brand. All of the other kinds don't stick very well)
* Composition Notebooks
* A big piece of cardboard.

One big can of Scotch makes about 20 composition notebooks. The first thing I do is use the knife to cut out the sheets of wallpaper that I want to use. Once I have a stack and am ready to spray I work outside. The smell is strong, so you may also want a mask. Take your cardboard and place it on the surface you are working on. Next lay a piece off wallpaper, design side down (you should be looking at the back of the page). Grab a composition notebook and make sure the wallpaper fits the notebook. Spray one side of the notebook and cover with wallpaper. Flip your notebook and wallpaper over and spray the other half.

Once you have sprayed let the notebook dry for a few hours. When they're done trim off the excess paper with a Xacto knife. Here is what the finished product looks like. I also add name labels to each notebook. The wilder the wallpaper patterns the more the kids love them. You will be surprised at how much they enjoy getting to choose their own design.

Hsppy Summer & Happy Blogging!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Many Thanks & Setting up Interactive Notebooks

Before I begin, I need to thank EVERYONE who took the time out to read the last post on Ruby-doo. Thanks to everyone's efforts, we raised over $3900! Thank you Thank you Thank you for your generosity! Her mother was surprised and speechless. She wanted us to share her gratitude!

The newest craze in education a few years ago was moving towards interactive notebooks.

I am only going to focus on the general notebook for the post. If you have taught at any level of elementary school, you know that children have a very difficult time staying organized. In the past, I have tried folders. Unfortunately, 4 months after school has started those wonderful folders begin to fall apart. I have tried binders because they were more sturdy. Nope, that didn't work because then I would find sheets of paper in the wrong section, paper in a desk, or even the occasional work period on the floor.

So... this was my solution to the madness!

Because I have two classes, I use different duck tape to separate the two classes. I place a strip of duck tape on the left side of their composition notebooks.

The second step is placing a label. One thing I have learned about composition notebooks is that the front cover is not very pencil friendly.

Depending on the subject, I spend the first week of school setting up notebooks. All of the notebooks have a table of contents. Table of contents are great. It keeps the kids organized, they know where to look for topics, and they are held responsible for keeping track of it.

The Table of Contents below is from Writer's Workshop. (By the way, I always model, model, model. Modeling is a HUGE step!)

In the past I have separated notebooks by topics. This year, for readers and writers, I separated the notebooks by units. However, for skills (grammar) I separate them by topics like nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.

There are many ways to separate pages. This year I used post it tab dividers. In the past I have used small Post its. To use the sticky notes, place the sticky on the bottom and write the title on the top. It works the same as Post it Tabs, except they are not a sturdy.

I have really enjoyed using these in class. My next few posts are going to be on how these are used in the class and different ways to make them special. I use these for Reading, Writing, an Grammar/Skills. It has been a work in progress, but in the end they have been the best option for keeping everything organized and together.

My next blog post will probably answer questions like: Where do they place worksheets? What about a project or page they are working on?

No worries, stay tuned, and hopefully I will answer all of your questions when it comes to use these in ELA.

Happy Blogging


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Place For Peace Fundraiser

One year ago, I lost one special little angel to Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. In honor of her, I am dedicating this blog post to Ruby.

I am not sure where to begin. It is a very difficult subject for me to talk about because I am a NO emotion kind-a- girl. It is hard to believe it has already been a year. The emotions are still raw. I have sat here for hours writing, deleting, writing, deleting, trying to find a way to express how much Ruby touched my life.

Four years ago, I was introduced to a sweet, darling child by her third grade teacher, Abby (from Third Grade Book Worm). She came with an open mind and an eagerness to learn. What I didn't expect was how much I would learn from her. Her parents welcomed us as family. I spent many "ordinary" and extraordinary moments with her.

Many people come in and out of our lives. I know Ruby had a special mission for being in our lives. Her sassy, positive attitude and plethora of knowledge and advice will never be forgotten. She will always have a special place in my heart (and many others.)

We recently learned that her parents were not able to afford a headstone for her grave. Her family is struggling to pay off Ruby's medical debts. My friend Abby at Third Grade Bookworm and I want to help give them the ability to give Ruby a proper "place for peace."

I cannot thank Abby enough for taking the time and putting this fundraiser together. Please take a moment to visit her blog for more information, Third Grade Bookworm and contribute if you feel a calling to do so.

Here's how this will work:

You donate $20 via the PayPal button at the bottom of this post.
Tell your friends, blog about it, and help spread the word.
Abby will send YOU the bundled files within 72 hours (hopefully faster!) to the email attached to your PayPal account. If you want them sent to a different email address, please note it when you are checking out in the "message" box. You can also email Abby at

After the fundraiser is over, Abby will give all of the money raised (minus any PayPal fees) to Ruby's parents. They will be able to purchase a headstone for our sweet girl.
The total value of the files donated to this fundraiser is over $120!

If you'd like to donate, please remember the following:
You must donate a minimum of $20 in order for me to send you the bundle of goodies.
All donations are going through my PayPal account. PayPal has created a code that will tell me you have donated towards A Place for Peace. This helps her to keep all of the fundraiser funds separated and it makes it easier for me to verify your donations.

She will use the email provided to me through PayPal to send you your goodies unless you send her a message at the bottom of your transaction or you email her directly at

The donation button (located at Third Grade Bookworm) will be active for 1 week: April 17th - 24th.

Once you donate, please give her 72 hours to send you the link to your goodies.
Once the fundraiser is over, she will remove the donation button and give all of the funds to Ruby's parents. We promise to let you know how much we raise and pass along any messages from Ruby's parents.

If you have made it through this long post, thank for your time!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Long Needed Break :)

Apologies for my LONG needed break. I don't think I would have survived the past few months without my friend Abby over at Third Grade Bookworm. We just finished performing Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs of the Black Forest! Hee hee... well, we didn't perform it, we just guided our students in preparing for the show. We had an AMAZING group of 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students (28 total)perform a full 2-act play. Every show sold out! Insane!!!

Here is the BIG BAD BOY I have been working on for the past 2 months...

We could not have made the show a success without many people. I need to give many thanks to the people who have made this years' play a success!

Thank you Thank you Thank to Crystal who made our Playbill cover! It looked FABULOUS! Please hop on over to her blog, The Library Fox and her store.

I think of myself as a secret blogger :) so I am sure no once will see this, but I truly am very grateful for ALL of your help.'s time for me to get all of my stuff together and update this blog with some new goodies and classroom updates.

Goodbye to spring break :(

Happy Blogging!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Freebie Anchor Charts & St. Patrick's Day Game

The testing season is slowly but surely creeping around the corner. When you combine the stress of state testing and spring fever, it doesn't make a nice combination. In spite of all the fun, I have been working on grammar anchor charts for my kids. I LOVE making these! Anchor charts are charts used to introduce a topic. They are also a great reference to look at when you review. I created an anchor chart for antonyms and synonyms. I usually print a half page copy for each child and have them place it in their interactive skills (grammar) notebooks. Believe it or not, the kids actually do go back and look at these during writing or skills block. Especially if they are working on a skill in writing that they are trying to transfer over from skills. I use my skills block time to teach individual skills. For example, if we are learning about compound sentences, I will teach in isolation what are compound sentences. Children need to know how to identify the sentence before they can create their own. Later on in Writer's Workshop, they will practice creating compound sentences in their stories. Here is a look at the antonyms and synonyms anchor chart.

GRAB this FREEBIE Anchor Chart IN MY TpT store

The free pack includes 4th & 5th grade standards anchor chart, reference pages for students, and a generic anchor chart for all grade levels.

Saint Patrick's Day Themed Parts of Speech Card Game

I have recently started working on a strategic card game for my kids. I just finished my first set. Since testing season is approaching, we are doing lots of review. The first thing we are reviewing are parts of speech. This pack includes subjects, predicates, adjectives, and adverbs. My students love this game because they have to use a strategy while playing. The goal of the game is to make a stack. The kids have to figure out the appropriate time to place the third card so they can win the stack. The game lasts about 15-20 minutes. It depends on the students and how well they know the parts of speech.

GRAB THIS Saint Patrick's Day Parts of Speech Review Game in my TPT store.

Enjoy your weekend! Happy Blogging!


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Oops.. I haven't quite figured out how to set the timer on my posts. So, it is a little late.

The time of year I dislike has arrived. The huge state test is right around the corner and I am feeling a little overwhelmed trying to decide what is most important to teach. Here's this months Currently from Oh Boy fourth Grade.

Listening: I usually have background noise of some sort. My house is a little too quiet tonight.

Loving: I am EXCITED tomorrow is "Friday"! Ok, not really. It's really Thursday, but we don't have school on Friday because it's a four day weekend. We no longer have our week long February break. Even though I am furloughed tomorrow, I'll take it. I need a good long restful week. I feel like the winter break went by way to fast.

Thinking: It is currently 11:47 PM! It is waaaay to late for me to be up. I have to wake up at 4:45 AM. I have to beat traffic in the morning. I know there's a teacher at my school that travels everyday from Ellijay. That's 2 hours from our school! I wonder what time she leaves every morning? Yikes!

Wanting: I REALLY need to finalize my honeymoon to Puerto Rico! Actually, I have gone as far as choosing the package & hotel, but when it came time to pay ... I get cold feet! I'm afraid I am going to end up in a scary, shady place. I need to just click it and be done with it!

Needing: Clearly I need sleep. Ha, Ha..for some reason I have already deleted my currently. I don't know what I was thinking. I usually save them, so that I can edit them. When I went to blog about needing, I had clearly not deleted my the copied text. So, I had to use a text box over my original text.

Pet Peeves: Agh! My husband is really bad at this. Please tell me I am not the only one who feels this way. The sound of the teeth on silverware is just as horribly equal as the sound of nails on a chalkboard. Eek, just thinking about it gives me the heebeejeebees :)

Hope everyone has a great Valentine's Day!

Happy Blogging!


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ignore the Dust!

Yikes! My blog has been collecting dust! I have been away for too long. With the large class sizes and double the literacy work with the new common core, I have been swamped! I have working on two things.

I just finished up a super cute Valentine's Day game! I can't wait to have my kids play it tomorrow. It's a spin off a math game my math partner uses.


I debated whether or not to make this a freebie. I finished it too late...Especially since Valetine's Day is tomorrow.

The other thing that has been occupying my life it this enormous Topic Sentence pack. A few months ago I realized my students weren't understanding topic sentences (from finding them to writing them. I have had to take a break because our Drama Club is getting ready to perform Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs of the Black Forest.

I apologize for the short post, but I intend to clean up the dust within the next few days.

Happy Valentine's Day :) Don't eat too much sugar!

Happy Blogging!