Friday, August 31, 2012

Back to school freebie and a FLASH SALE!!!

Hey everyone!  If you are back to school... did you survive?? I am LOVIN' this school year so far!  Don't you just love when you finally get a class that is actually NICE to each other?  Ahhh it's so refreshing :)

We've been having so much fun building a community of learners who work together.  I am so thrilled that I have my desks in teams this year.

The lanterns organize my desks into teams of kids.

 I have the desks in groups of 4-6 depending.

If the "team" is ready with their materials out, they get to fill their team bucket with a "puff" ... this is a HUGE motivator and I love seeing the kids help each other out.

We spent the last two weeks doing a lot of get to know you activities.  My favorite is "Math About Me."  This gets the students thinking about numbers that relate to their lives.  For example, my numbers are:

Curious what they mean?  Yeah, the kids were too! :)
4- the age of my son
7- the number of years I have been married
14- the number of years I have been teaching
22- the number of students I have this year!

Here are some student examples:

Isn't second grade sooo cute??!!  I love that Lizzy wanted to just draw and Marc ventured into sentence land!  We had fun sharing our "numbers" and I learned about numbers in relation to teeth, sports, birthdays, family members and so much more!!

This super fun paper is in my back to school pack (with tons of other cute papers just like this!!)  You can take a look by clicking {here}

We also spent a lot of time talking about what it means to be a good friend.  We read stories, wrote about friendship, and we even did a super fun making word activity where the "mystery word" was friendship.  I love to do this activity every year.  It is so easy to differentiate this activity for all your students AND the kids who figure out the mystery word first are usually the ones to challenge through out the year.  You can grab this GREAT freebie by clicking the pic below:

***Ok so BIG NEWS*** I will be picking random items all weekend for a flash sale.  Each day a few "mystery" items will be marked at ONLY $1!!!!  You have to stop back to check what is $1 and if you spot it... pick it up because It won't last at that price for long!!  This will begin RIGHT NOW and will happen all 3 days this weekend :)  hehehe... what's it going to be??

If you are here... go find out....


Oh yeah... and because I HEART my followers SOOO much... the first two people to comment will get my back to school pack... FOR FREE!!  Must have your email and be a follower! :)

Linking up to a fun linky!
Happy 3 day weekend!!!

(ps... 400 giveaway COMING SOON!!  Still looking for anyone who would like to join my giveaway!  Email me or leave me a comment! :)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Tired! (and a freebie!!)

I will need to apologize now... trying to find the balance between... teacher, mom, wife, and blogger has been very hard!  I loved the summer when I had more time to blog every day.  It's killing me though because now I'm back at school with a TON of ideas to share and I don't have the time (or energy) to post! :(  boo!  As soon as I find my groove... I promise to be back on as often as I can ... sharing as much as I can!!!

With that... I just have one quick share...

Today we did a fluency lesson (for you CAFE people... this is a good one!).  We talked in great deal what a good reader sounds like.  I LOVE to use this poster to help me model what it sounds like to read fluently.  It is a GREAT visual:

For #1 I show them that it. can. sound. like. a. robot. if. you. stop. after. every. word.
It's amazing how quick they catch on to this one!

#2 sounds better. but if I. stop after. every few words. I can still. sound choppy.

#3 I am getting better but. I am not confident enough to read it all at once.  I tell my students that if you are here you are doing a great job and are on the right track!

#4 This is when you sound just like you talk.  I make sure to tell the students that not only are you reading smoothly but also with EXPRESSION!

After we talked about what it sounds like, I then send them off to listen to their reading.  I am a HUGE fan of my fluency phones (or whisper phones)

I got these from a retired teacher so I can't even tell you how to make them other than it is PVC piping that just fits together.  They seem really easy to make if you can get it cut to size.  The kids LOVE them and really take it seriously when you ask them to examine their reading....

If you would like a copy of the above poster you can grab it by clicking {here}

I'd love to hear some things you do to teach fluency!  Stop back because I have a lot more! :)

Still getting closer to 4-0-0!  Let me know if you'd like to be a part of my giveaway!!!!

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Classroom tour...and more!

Wow what a week!!  I forgot how tiring that first week of school is!  I was in bed asleep at 9:50 on a FRIDAY night.  I guess i'm getting O L D! ;)  I am SUPER excited about my class this year... such sweeties!  The week went so well and I can't wait to share some of the great things that went on... but I wanted to first share my room.  So let's take a little tour...

 This is the window/door area just outside my classroom. My mom made the adorable curtain :)

 This is also just outside my classroom.  I have as many parent helpers as I can get and this is their area.  They work from the writing, reading, and math "club" baskets.

 The room as you enter from the door.

 The room from the opposite side. 

Another angle of the room.  
Here are some close-ups:
Love my new lanterns!

 My reading area from the door.

 Another view of my reading area (that couch was mine growing up :)

 My rules and clip chart (thanks to the fabulous Lori).  The small cards are a place that we keep track of our outstanding clipper-uppers! 

 Our book boxes.  Had to settle for plain ole' white this year.

 My wall of Daily 5 and CAFE.  Oh and more books :)

 Our writing table and the calendar area.

 The carpet area/smart board.

 My daily schedule, passes, choice board... oh and of course my "first thing I do" poster!

 The Math Workshop board... it's a work in progress.

 CAFE board!

 The back of the room... my guided reading area and the word wall.

This picture turned out terrible!  This is SOOO cute in person!  Each student decorated their face and they signed our Promise Poem.

 My desk and mess!  

 I love all the windows and counter space I have!

 I am in love with the numbers above the door... they are from my hero... Amy Lemons! :)

 Light bulbs, bucket filling, class cheers, and brain bubbles! (I'm the QUEEN of gimmicks!)

 Turn in and homework bins.  I love how the "stop" sign turned out!

 There's that FISH again! :)  This is our team building buckets and clip-up fish!  Oh and our brain break flowers.

 How I organize the materials for Daily 5 word work and math games for Math Workshop.

 Our listening center area.

Guiding reading materials, baskets, and files.

Phew!  Wow, I had no idea I took that many photos!  Well if you made it to the end ... thank you! :)  Oh and a special thanks to Monday Made it... without that I wouldn't have all my cool things this year! :)

I am getting C L O S E R to 400 followers (c'mon last 10 or so!!).  I'm planning a giveaway and would love for you to join me!  Please let me know if you want to help out!!  Thanks!!

Have a great rest of your weekend and an even better week!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Teacher Tips Tuesday!

Hey everyone!  I am thrilled to have Patti here from Primary Pizzazz!  She has a great blog that is growing and growing!  Please stop by and say hi!

Hi!  My name is Patti and I am thrilled to be a guest blogger for Tori on Teacher Tips Tuesday!  I’ve been teaching in Indiana for 35 years mostly in first grade but now in second.  Finally, got promoted after 30 years!  Slow learner, I guess! J

Well, onto my Tuesday tips for you!  Guided reading seems to be the buzz word (words?) this summer!  Lots of book studies around the Daily 5, CAFE, etc.  I’ve done the Daily 5 in my room for the last 6 years and have dabbled in CAFE.  Love the strategies, just can’t let go of my guided reading groups! 

In my literacy training, I was taught that each guided reading lesson should begin with a short 2-3 minutes of word work.  Here are some of the tools I use.
This is my absolute favorite!  My teaching buddy, Amy, introduced me to it after a workshop she attended. It’s hard to see in the picture but the shape of the letter is under the magnet.  Pass out the sheets and voila!  Easy word building!  If double letters are needed, I have a box handy in a nearby crate.

I’m not sure why it took me 30 years to figure out the next tip—must be that slow learner thing!  Put these handy-dandy tools in a seat sack on each chair at the table.  Soooo easy for kiddos to get quickly.  Aren’t those little Lakeshore erasers the cutest things!

Speaking of cute—how about these mini word whackers from Crystal Springs Books??  These are by far the kids’ favorites.  Perfect to play a game of Whack a Sight Word, a vowel sound, a (you fill in the blank!)

Castanets from the Dollar Store can be used to count sounds, syllables or words in sentences.  Another kid fav!

Now after the word work, of course, there’s reading to do!  My last tip is probably not a new one  but if it helps one…

The whisper phone!  I keep a set of six of these at my table.  I don’t use them for all groups but you always have the group that CANNOT read quietly.  Pull out the phones and enjoy!

Thanks so much for letting me share today!  I hope you found a new idea or two!  If you have any questions, feel free to email me at Please come visit me at my new blog, Primary Pizzazz.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE these ideas!  Thanks so much for sharing Patti!  Please stop by her cuteness blog and follow along! :) 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Brain Breaks, Class Cheers, Freebies and MORE!

***Update... I'm linking this post up with Tara's Monday made it!  I want all those folks to get in on the goods too :)
I cannot believe I'm in the final stretch! I have a new student/parent meet on Monday (along with meeting with my team), meetings all day on Tuesday, and kids come for a FULL day on Wednesday.  I put full in caps because this will be my first year ever starting with a full day on the first day.  Normally we start the school year with 2 hours... get the kids in... unpack supplies... and send them on their way. The thought of a full day is daunting to me!!

Anyway... I've been frantically cutting, gluing and creating to get ready!!  So, I posted a few weeks ago about my scratch cards {here} and so I spent the day making them!
I hope the kids like them! As soon as I get some pics taken of my room I'll post my complete behavior plan (which I'm super excited about!!).  It does include these cards :)  Click the above pic to get these cards and instructions on how to make them!!

So on the cards I mention "pick an Energizer" and "pick a class cheer"  Well I plan to make an effort this year to take breaks (quick ones!) AND celebrate more often!  So first up... I made these "brain breaks" (I will change energizers to brain break):

I call it "stop and smell the flowers- Brain Breaks"

I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out.  I actually wrote on the stick BUT I have a complete set FOR YOU that has the label to print out and the description of the activity.  I searched the Internet and compiled the ones that I knew I could do very quickly that wouldn't take too much time.  I think the kids will really like doing this!! (oh and how are those flowers standing so nicely in the container you ask??  S A N D- I know.. unconventional but pretty awesome!)

Click {HERE} to get this!  Container is from Target $1 spot.

So onto "class cheers."  This is something that I wanted to incorporate last year, but frankly, I had a class that left it hard to cheer (if you know what I mean).  I'm hopeful for this year!!  I found these in blog land (I am SO sorry that I can't give proper credit!!  If you know PLEASE let me know!!) They are SUPER fun and amazing!!  I plan to just pick one when we need to celebrate something great in the classroom- and I will also incorporate this also into my behavior plan.  They look like this:

Because I am not the original creator of this great item I don't feel comfortable posting it for all... but if you would like it, I will email it to you!  Just leave a comment stating that you want a copy with your email and I will send it to you!!

Finally, I am getting some "gifts" ready for my teammates, office staff, janitors, principal etc!  I snatched up some great stuff from the Target $1 spot and made these for my teammates:

I also wanted to share a cute idea...again.. not my original but I created one to share.

Fill a bag with tootsie rolls and attach this cute label:

I plan to give these to all staff members that I work closely with... as they say... don't forget the TWO MOST IMPORTANT members of the school...the secretary and the janitor! (they will be getting extra candy! :)

Click {here} to get a copy of the tootsie roll labels! 

I hope you all roll into the new school year with ease! Thanks so much for stopping by!!

***And if you have made it this far... I am ALMOST at 400 followers!  I'd like to do a big giveaway and am looking for anyone to help me celebrate!  If you are interested in donating, please {EMAIL ME} or leave a comment below :)

ps... in case you missed this cute freebie... here it is again... click pic to grab it!