Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Years!! (Freebie!)

 Today I posted my intro over on "The Best Endings", a great new blog about books! I was thrilled to be allowed to contribute and I hope that my posts are entertaining, even though I don't read any books that would ever be in a real book club or get noticed by Oprah! It seems like it's going to be a fun venture though and I am excited to see what the New Year holds in store for it.

I have a quick New Year's freebie as I have a ton of work to do - but, I found out that I don't have to go back to school until Tuesday so I am celebrating an extra day of freedom - not to mention a short first week back to school!

Oh, and make sure you go enter the New Years giveaway I'm a part of - you get to choose files from 11 different TPT stores if you win, and there will be 6 winners from this blog alone! I uploaded a Penguin Word Work Unit over on TPT today too!

Just found a new-to-me blog called Buggy for Second. The author, Kelley, is having a giveaway to celebrate 100 followers. She's giving away a custom wreath and the sample she has is just gorgeous! So, go ahead and click over to see her super cute ladybug themed blog, but do me a favor and don't enter the giveaway, I really need a wreath for my front door since I took the Christmas one down today!

Alright, here's freebie, a fun New Year's writing paper about resolutions, hope you like it - aren't the pandas adorable?! They're from Angie Wenke at www.resaleclipart.com and she's having a sale this weekend- if you enter the code "new year" at checkout you get 50% off until Monday!

Happy New Year everyone!!!!
new years

Friday, December 30, 2011

Freebie Friday!

It's a New Year's Miracle! Okay, not really, but it is a sale at Staples just in time for going back to school! I just got my Staples flyer and they have the Endura-Glide dry erase markers on sale for just $1 for a pack of 5!!  These work just as well as Expo dry erase markers and you can't beat that price! If that's not enough of an incentive to get up early on the 1st (limited quantities people!) then check out the 12 pack of colorful Sharpies for only $3! I'm going to be starting the New Year with a new class set of dry erase markers (thank goodness - we were down to using our dry erase boards only on days when 2 or more students were absent lol!) and some new Sharpies for me to use, set down, forget where I put it, grab another one, use, set down, forget where I put it and repeat 12 times!

I got so many lovely comments on my Penguin Glyphs that I was smiling all day long! Thank you for the love! Barbara from the Corner on Character also directed me to Pre-K and K Sharing where she shared some ideas based on My Penguin Osbert, one of the books in my read aloud list. This inspired me to share a freebie with you all, because this really is a great book - and it spans a bunch of grade levels too! My kinders always liked it, but my 2nd and 4th grade sons also enjoyed it! There  are so many writing activities you could do based on this book, depending on your grade level! So, anyways, here is a fun little freebie that includes some vocabulary, comprehension questions, sequencing worksheet and a writing prompt. I hope you enjoy it!

Don't forget to enter the Ring of Blogs Giveaway - just think of all those great TPT files you could win! I will be adding more files to my TPT store between now and the end of the giveaway too! Usually I like to just give away freebies, but the terms of use of some clipart doesn't allow that, so I'll be making units to put in my TPT store in case you want to check them out. I promise to keep sharing lots of freebies though - there are still a few clipart artists out there who allow that - most notably (in my book!) Angie Wenke, Trina Clark and Kirsten McGrath.

I'm linking this post up over at TBA for the last Freebie Friday linky of 2011! Go check it out, there are always great freebies shared!
My Penguin Osbert


Oh, and I am so sorry that I somehow managed to forget to post who the winner of the My Memories Suite giveaway was! I did the drawing and had the post all ready to go and somehow managed not to publish it :( So, congrats to the winner, Erika from 2B Honey Bunch! And, if you didn't win but wanted to get the software anyways, make sure to use the code STMMMS47539  for $10 off the purchase of My Memories software AND a $10 coupon for the MyMemories.com store!


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Celebrate the New Year with a Ring of Bloggy Giveaways!


I am so exited to participate in this giveaway! I do not have very much in my TPT store right now, but I will be adding between now and the end of the giveaway! Plus you get to choose items from 11 other TPT stores too, so this is an awesome giveaway! A big thank you to Mandy at Mandy's Tips for Teachers for organizing it and including me!

 A New Year is beginning and to celebrate its arrival we are having a HUGE giveaway from a Ring of Blogs!
Twelve blogs have joined together for a MEGA New Year Giveaway!  The winners of the giveaway will be able to choose any item (winter themed or not) from any of the Teacher Pay Teachers stores listed below. 

 Nearly 100 items will be given away in this HUGE event!

Each blog will have 6 winners.
Each blog will select and post 6 winners for that blog.

Third Place: There will be THREE third prize winners that will be able to choose any (of the winner’s choice) ONE item total from any of the blogger’s Teacher Pay Teachers store listed below. 

   Second Place: There will be TWO second prize winners that will be able to choose any (of the winner's choice) TWO items (total)  from any of the blogger's Teachers Pay Teachers stores below. 

First Prize: ONE grand prize winner from EACH blog that will win any (of the winner's choice) ONE ITEM from EACH blogger's Teachers Pay Teachers stores listed below!

 Here are the participating blogs/ stores: 



  





  


How do you enter?  There are several possible ways to enter:

1. Follow my blog and leave a comment on this blog post saying you follow (or note that you are already a follower). 

2. Follow my Teacher Pay Teachers store and leave a comment on this blog post saying you follow. 

3. Blog about this contest  and leave a comment  & the link to the post here.

However, there are still MORE ways to enter to WIN
You can also follow the blogs and stores of ALL the blogs participating
 in the list above to increase your chances of winning!  
There are at least 24 chances to win even if you DON'T blog!!!! 
Remember to comment that you follow their blog and TpT store on their blog!

All winners will be chosen on January 6th, 2012 by 8:00pm Eastern time.
Good luck!  Maybe YOU will be one of the big winners!

Penguins! (Freebie!)

 I have to say, I love to teach my Penguin unit! There's just something about penguins that makes me smile! It is so easy to incorporate science and geography into this unit too (and talk about a non-fiction bonanza - this is the perfect topic to expand your nonfiction library)! I'm starting off the New Year with my Penguin unit and then incorporating a Snowman unit in there too. So January will be pretty much all chilly dudes all month long! Today I'm going to share my favorite Penguin Unit read alouds (click here to see my Snowman list!) and some freebies:

So many great books - and only so many days in January to read them!

Have you ever done the Blubber Glove science experiment? It is so much fun and so easy to do! I am really looking forward to the writing my firsties will be able to do about it!

I'm trying my hand at a penguin glyph - I love glyphs because they're the perfect way to justify something "cutesie" (is it just me or do you feel the need to justify doing a craft project with your students?) Here is a finished picture of the ones my own children completed (they are my guinea pigs :) .
  I have 3 boys (5,7 and 10) and 1 daughter (she's 12) plus I made one too!
I think they came out adorable, don't you?

Here are some close ups:

I have to tell you, making the templates for these penguins was hard! I had my daughter come up with the basic concept (cause she's way more artistic than I am!) and then my husband helped me to draw everything to scale. So I am super proud of these and would love it if you left me a note if you're going to use them in your classroom! Almost forgot to tell you, I left the age blank on the graph and recording sheet so that you could change it for whatever grade you're using it with - make sure to fill the age part in before you make your copies! 
I plan on hanging blue butcher paper on my bulletin board, adding white snow mounds and arranging the penguins so some are on top of the mountains, some are sliding down the sides and some are standing in front. Then  I will spray it all with glitter and we'll have a great bulletin board for January! Which title do you like better? "Slip Sliding Into a New Year!" or "Sliding Back to School!" ? For those of you who don't have a Scribd account, you can also grab this penguin glyph for free in my TPT store, just click here :)
Penguin Glyph

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

11 in 11 Linky Party!

Woohoo I got invited to a party! (I'm going to assume I'm one of the Jennifers that Kristin mentioned - makes me feel happy :) Kristin over at A Teeny Tiny Teacher and Hadar from Miss Kindergarten are having a linky party about all things 2011, make sure to join up!




11. Favorite movie you watched - Oh wow, looks like this linky party is designed to show how lame I am. I don't watch many adult movies I'm afraid! I'm going to have to go with the final Harry Potter movie - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. It was great - but bittersweet too knowing that it was the last one! I am really hoping that J.K. Rowling comes out with another book based on the wizarding world!

10. Favorite TV series - I am a total GLEEK! I love watching Glee, listening to the cds in my car (singing along at the top of my lungs much to my children's chagrin!) and talking about it to my teaching buddies. I knew I was going to love my btb (best teaching bud) when she pulled up Glee's version of "Hey Soul Sister" on her Smartboard after school so we could have a dance party! And, the reality show "The Glee Project" really made my summer - what could be better than getting to vote on new characters for your favorite show?!

9. Favorite restaurant: Hmmm, this is a tough one! I think I'm going to have to go with Atlanta Bread Company simply because of their Kid's Nights on Tuesdays! You  can't beat 99 cent kids meals plus I love their soups - perfect on a chilly night! Not to mention it's on my way home so when we have extra-curricular events after school we can stop for a healthyish meal without me having to cook!

8. Favorite new thing you tried: Blogging! I love it! So glad I spent my summer wisely pouring over teaching blogs and developing my own. It is my outlet and my inspiration all rolled into one! I know some of you are going to say that I copied Kristin's answer on this one - well, yeah, I did. The only other new thing I tried in 2011 was teaching 1st grade and let me tell you - I love my firsties, but I can't wait to get back to kindergarten!

7. Favorite gift you received: My fleece electric blanket. Yep, that's right,I am now the proud owner of an electric blanket and let me tell you, it is heaven! I have chronically cold feet, and I like our household temperature to be at least 4 degrees warmer than the hottest everyone else in my house can stand. So my darling husband got me an electric blanket to keep me toasty. It is soft and warm and so snugglable that I fall asleep in minutes. I'd post a picture but you really don't want to see me with all the drool and bedhead.

6. Favorite thing you pinned: My crate seats! So easy and fun and I get compliments on them all the time!

5. Favorite blog post: I'm going to have to skip this one. I know my posts aren't all that, they're just fun for me :)

4. Favorite accomplishment: I won 1st place in the Playmobil Teacher grant contest and my lesson plan is displayed on the website! I got a $500 prize and a ton of Playmobil sets for my classroom! Click here to see it - I was so psyched to win this!

3. Favorite picture: Oh my - I hope I'm not supposed to be in it, because that's just not happening! I'm going to have to go with this one I made on picnik.com, I love this quote and the picture is awesome!


2. Favorite memory: On April 23rd our house burned. We had been out at an Easter egg hunt with the kids and had ignored all our cell phone calls, so when we pulled up to the house to see fire trucks outside and firemen coming out the door it was a total shock. My first thought was for our pets and I cannot tell you how relieved and blessed I felt when I was told that all of them made it out alright - even the bunny was saved by a fireman who hauled his whole cage outside! I will never forget running up to a fireman and asking him if my dog was okay. She was my baby and I nearly cried just hearing that she was safe in the backyard.  Unfortunately Panzer was diagnosed with bone cancer during the summer but I am grateful that her last moments were with me in the vet's office rather than alone in a smoke-filled house.

1. Goal for 2012:  Hmm, how about just getting through to May? Too vague? Okay, I am desperately hoping that all of my kiddos leave my class able to read - I don't know how 1st and 2nd grade teachers do it - you guys all act so blase and inside I'm freaking out because I have to teach these kiddos to read! If I screw this up there's a lifetime of consequences for these kids! Talk about pressure! That's why I need to go back to kindergarten - I can give them a solid foundation without all the stress of 1st grade standards! So I'm really stepping up my game for the New Year - dipthongs and digraphs here I come! Man, it would be so much easier if I had a reading series or something!

Whew! Finished! I had to stop to run to the bank and Staples and have lunch with my hubby, seems like I've been writing this post all day! Don't forget to head over to the party to link up!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Linkys Galore!

Oh my! Christmas was wonderful! Everyone loved their presents and my 4 kiddos spent the whole day in imaginative play, which I love! There have been articles about the disappearance of imaginative play from our culture and ways we can jump start creative play but I have to tell you - my kids are proof that play is alive and well - at least in our little corner of the world. Between the Lego, Playmobiland action figures, my children have a whole slew of toys that activate their imaginations. Whether they're buiding houses for their Lego figures, mounting an offensive against an enemy encampment (yes, thanks to their father's profession they really use terms like that!), or making up story lines for Playmobil animals, my kids are unplugged and having a blast. We have a closet full of blankets that are often draped over their bunk beds to make forts, lots of open ended art supplies (the other day while babysitting her brothers my oldest organized a snowflake making factory at our kitchen table) and we give our kids the freedom to make their rooms messy. But, so many kids don't have this play-encouraging atmosphere at home - so we have to bring it into the classroom as well! This leads me to my New Year's Resolutions!

Tammy @ Live, Love, Laugh is hosting a linky party for New Year's Resolutions! Here are mine for 2012:

Personal:
1. Start eating at home more often - between our busy schedules, and forgetting to thaw meat for dinner, my family eats out WAY too much.  My husband and I are resolving to save the eating out for only special occasions.
2. Spend more time with my boys individualoly. I already have a "Girls Day Out" with my daughter, now I need to figure out something that each of the boys and I can do together!
3. Stay on top of the laundry - with a 6 person household this is critical for happy mornings!

Teaching:
1. Incorporate more "play" into every day! My classroom is still set up like a kindergarten classroom for the most part - tables rather than desks and lots of "centers", but I've been afraid to use my centers because for some reason I thought 1st grade was supposed to be more "serious". But, play is a great way of reinforcing concepts and motivating students, so I need to use all my goodies!
2. Stay on top of my printing/laminating/cutting so that I can USE all the great ideas I find! So many times I can't get my materials organized in time to use it all in class!
3. Stay on top of my paperwork so my desk doesn't always look like a recycling bin threw up on it!


Blogging:
1. Build my network of blogging friends by hosting more linky parties and giveaways and participating on other's blogs.
2. Keep offering freebies as much as possible (although I have some items for sale on TPT due to clip art Terms of Use, I want to offer lots of freebies to my followers!)

Be sure to head over to the party to contribute your own resolutions - I  can't wait to read them and be inspired!

My next linky party is for the Holly Bloggy Christmas I participated in over from Sarah at Kindergarten Korner and Caitlin at Ms. Preppy!
I had a blast with this gift exchange - I made my first rag wreath for my bloggy buddy and received some really neat goodies too!
My Holly Bloggy partner was Leea from Set this Circus Down. She hasn't posted in a while, but I'm hopeful that the New Year will see more blogging from her! Here's what I made for Leea, based on her favorite color being Sage green:
 This was my first attempt at a rag wreath and I hope she likes it!
 And, to add a practical touch, I got her this notepad set with pads for each month of the year!

Here's what I got to open on Christmas morning from Terri at The Creative Apple!
 Isn't it darling?!
Now I can indulge my Pepsi Max passion in style!


Go check out the linky parties at Ms. Preppy's and Kindergarten Korner to see what everyone else received! If you missed out on this gift exchange or had so much fun that you'd like to participate in another, what would you think about having a Secret Cupid gift exchange for Valentine's Day? I say let's keep this ball rolling all year long!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!!

Merry Christmas! I hope everyone has a safe and joyful holiday!At my house Santa always leaves a new set of pajamas for all the kids on Christmas Eve. Tonight he tracked in a whole bunch of ice and mud from the North Pole too! Here's my youngest in his new jammies to sing you a song about Rudolph -enjoy!




Thursday, December 22, 2011

Recipe Linky!

I am teaming up with Jennifer at Rowdy in First Grade for a Holiday Recipe Linky Party! I'm sharing my family's favorite appetizer - Crockpot Meatballs. I serve these at every Holiday meal and often during the year on "Snacky Nights" when we just make loads of appetizers and scarf them down while we watch tv :). My family really enjoys them and they are super simple to make, so there's less time in the kitchen and more time with family!

 Go check out Jennifer's blog for the rest of the recipe linky party!




Here's another recipe that I just recently tried too! We were shopping in the commissary the other day when my children started looking at all the bulk nuts. They were so excited to see the chestnuts, because of "The Christmas Song " but we had never tried them before. A quick Google of recipes found that we didn't have to have an open fire to make them so we bought a bag to try out. Here's what you have to do:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Wipe chestnuts off with a damp cloth before starting.
3. Cut an "X" in the top of the chestnut using a sharp knife or razor blade. The top is the rounded part, we want the chestnut to be able to lay flat with the "X" facing up on the pan.If you don't cut the "X" the chestnut will "pop" like a corn kernel in the oven.
My husband decided he should be the one to do the cutting - something about worrying about me losing fingers. Do not be fooled by this altruistic gesture, there's is always a catch!
 He started off using a sharp kitchen knife but wasn't satisfied so he broke out the razor blade on his Gerber.
4. Once you've scored all of the nuts, arrange them on a cookie sheet and pop them into the oven for 20-30 minutes. You'll know when they're done when they have all popped open.

Before baking:
 After baking:
 The insides of the shell are sort of furry, as one of my children put it "It looks like a hamster's trying to crawl out of the nut!"

5. As soon as the nuts are cool enough to handle, peel them quickly with your fingers - it gets harder to peel the skin off once they're cool. Be careful, they are very hot inside - "It feels like a light saber cutting off my fingers!"  was one of the comments from my boys. Serve immediately :) I have to admit that only my little ones and I really enjoyed eating these - my 10 and 12 year olds were grossed out by the texture and my husband exclaimed "Why would anyone write a song about these?!" But, that just meant that there were more for Tommy, Joshua and I to enjoy! Plus it was way cool to roast them anyways, so the experience was worth it!

Oh yeah, remember when my oh so kind husband risked his own fingers to score the nuts rather than entrusting me with the sharp knife? Ulterior motives. Yep, I foolishly told him that the chestnuts would explode if they weren't cut, so of course he cut some of the nuts very shallowly. Scared the dickens out of me when they exploded in the oven - and it made a mess!

Moral - do not trust men with sharp knives or possible explosions. Guess who's cleaning the oven?!

Don't forget to enter my giveaway for My Memories Suite scrapbooking software!
 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Snowman Freebies!

I do a Snowman Unit in January because that's usually about when we get our first snowfall of the year. And, since this is Oklahoma and we apparently can't figure out how to deal with snow, we usually get about a week's worth of snow days in there too! (I'm from Illinois and it floors me when school is canceled for a mere 6 inches!) Luckily we switched to a school calendar that is measured in hours instead of days, so by adding on 15 minutes to each morning we don't have to worry about losing time to snow days and having to make it up in the Spring. One year, before we implemented the hour system, we had school on Saturdays for 2 weeks - ugh!

Anyways, here are some of my favorite Snowman unit read alouds:


And, here are some Snowman freebies! I started with 2 quick time games, as I really want to hit that hard when we come back from break. About 50% of my kiddos are super solid on it, then I have about 35% who are getting there and then 15% who still have no idea what I'm talking about when I mention the word "clock". I am hoping Santa waves his magic wand over them during break and they come back with their little brains ready to learn (I love seeing all those light bulbs go on in January!). I will be sharing more Snowmen and Penguin stuff soon so come back to see me :)

This first game is a Memory game, or even a matching game for in a pocket chart center.
What Time Is It

Here's an "I have..., Who has...? game for digital time to the hour and 1/2 hour. My kiddos love these types of games!
I have who has time

AND, don't forget to enter my giveaway for a free copy of My Memories Suites software! Click here to enter!

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