Do You Need a Donorschoose Donation?

Just a quick post! I just got an email from Donorschoose giving me a $25 gift code. No one in my school has a project up, so I have no one to donate to! If you have a project up, please leave a link in the comments. I'll choose one project to get the $25 donation tonight at 9pm :)

UPDATE: Wow, I did not expect to have to make such a hard choice! There are 25 wonderful projects for me to choose from and honestly I can't decide. I'm going to let the random number generator pick for me:

So I am making a $25 donation to Allison's project for books in the Zack Files series:

Thank you so much for all of your comments and I hope all of your projects get funded!

Two Freebies and Some Game Ideas

Today is the last day of my Spring  Break :( I am planning to commemorate it with a trip to Payless to buy shoes for my son, followed by a stop at Cherry Berry which is a local frozen yogurt shop. Then I have to get my butt in gear and do some lesson planning!

In the meantime I'm leaving you with a few ideas for the season (how did Easter sneak up on us so quickly?!). These are some of the games/activities we'll be doing this week!

First up, a little addition freebie! Just click on the pic to grab it in my TPT store :)

And here are a couple of things in my TPT store

Working on blends? My students love playing I have..Who has? games and this bunny themed one is always a favorite!

Need some review with word families? Here's a fun bug themed game:

And a ladybug themed I have..Who has? game for more cvc word practice:

There's a similar game for cvce words if your students are working on Magic E!

And, for math centers this week:

And a quick color-by-sum freebie!

Hope that helps you with lesson planning this week! Have a great one!

Fun Finds, Plus Ten Frames and Sight Words!

If you are in the Kansas City area, you are so lucky! When I went to our blogger meet-up, Erica of The Eagle's Nest (she's from Joplin, MO) introduced us to a fabulous teacher store: U.S. Toy. Apparently there are other locations in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles and Orlando, so if you live near one, you need to go see it!

Here is the panorama shot of the store:

I could have spent all day in this place! As it was, I made out like a bandit on several purchases:

I bought stamps for Ocean, Dinosaur and  Insects:

I plan to use these to encourage writing - they can stamp their story and then write about it!

I also got these super cute spin top dice - how cool are these for jazzing up math center? Not to mention the fine motor practice they'll get while spinning! I'll have to set up some kind of try to keep them in - I plan on having them spin two and add or subtract them :)

Then I bought a whole slew of mini erasers - penguins, sports balls, candies and fast food:

I will use these in Math Center too - as manipulatives for counting, adding and subtracting, as well as game tokens.

I'm kind of glad that U.S. Toy is so far away - I would spend far too much money if there was one near me!

In other news, I created a new Animal Ten Frame pack! This one is for your Ocean, Farm and Zoo/Jungle themes!  

I adore these graphics, and the fact that my kiddos will know exactly what to do with the cards and recording sheets since we've used similar packs in the past. I love activities that I can switch out easily to match themes, but that don't require me to reteach the whole center!

I also made some more Sight Word card games - each one covers all 220 Dolch Words and can be played 3 ways. I also included blank cards so you can add your own words if you want! Just click on the images to check them out in my TPT store!

Be sure to keep an eye out on my Facebook page tonight for some fun flash discounts!

Silver Dollar City Disappointment!

I'm home! A day early and with lots to tell about our Spring Break! Here goes:

I had a blast at the Midwest Blogger meet-up with Kaci of Mrs. Hoffer's Spot, Elizabeth from Mrs. Hodge and Her Kindergarten Kids, and Erica from The Eagle's Nest. Shopping, talking and laughing like you wouldn't believe! If you are a KC area blogger we are definitely getting together again this summer, so keep an eye out for another meet-up, you definitely won't want to miss it! I have lots of pics to share and I want to show you some classroom goodies I bought (and introduce you to a marvelous teacher store!) but that will wait for tomorrow's post once I unpack :)

Today thought, I have a bit of a bummer of a story to tell. After the KC meet-up we headed to Branson, MO to visit Silver Dollar City for the first time. They have a good military discount, and we'd heard good things, especially about their new roller coaster, the Outlaw Run, so we were excited to check it out. Usually, I don't share much personal stuff, but I figure that all teachers have Spring Break (at least in the States) so you all might be looking for vacation ideas and its only fair to warn you.

I can sum up our visit in 4 words: "long lines" and "big disappointment"!

After parking (which was free, gotta give them thumbs up for that), we headed to the gate to buy our tickets. The park opened at 9:30am and we got there at 10am, so you can imagine our confusion when we stood in a non-moving line for over an hour to buy tickets! Sure, you expect a bit of a wait at the ticket lines, but we literally stood still for 45 minutes before they opened up more booths and we were finally able to shuffle forward a bit.

We finally got our tickets (1 hour, 15 minute wait time) and got inside the park. We headed for the measuring station because the parking lot tram operator had advised us to do this to avoid wait times at rides where our youngest would have to be measured again and again all day - far better to get measured one time and get a handy wristband so we knew up front which rides he could go on. Well, guess what? Another 25 minute wait! Yep, we stood in the measuring line for 25 minutes because they only had one employee on duty. Good news was, he was tall enough to go on every ride in the park except for the Wild Fire roller coaster!

We rode the Royal Tea Party ride which was fun for the kids, then headed over to the Powder Keg roller coaster. The line didn't seem long, so we settled in to wait some more. It took 45 minutes to get on the ride! (For those keeping track, that's 2 hours and 25 minutes of line time now). My family enjoyed the ride, and was excited to keep riding. We headed over to the Fire in the Hole ride but that line was at least 45 minutes as well. By that time it was 1:30, and we were getting hungry.

Every food booth in the park was crowded with 15+ people standing in line and no where to sit, so we decided to hit up a restaurant instead. At the front of the park they have a Lucky Silver Mine restaurant that features an all-you-can-eat buffet of brisket, chicken and beef stew. The line didn't look long from the outside of the building, so we hopped in it. Soon we were inside a mine shaft, heading down into the restaurant. Unfortunately, we were deep in the shaft when we realized this was not going to be a short line. Still, we chitchatted with other guests and made the best of inching our way forward. Ultimately we arrived at the restaurant only to see tons of empty tables. Hmm, if there are empty tables, why the long wait? Ahhh, because the waitresses were also acting as hostesses and busboys, so as you went through the buffet you then had to wait in line to be seated because the waitresses were trying to serve drinks and bread, clear tables, and write tickets, all while people were waiting to be seated! It was a 1 hour and 30 minute wait that even the good and plentiful food did not make up for!

After lunch we headed for Thunderation roller coaster which was the highlight of the trip - my family thoroughly enjoyed the ride and said it might perhaps be the perfect family ride - not too scary for the little ones, but still fun for Dad. Amazingly, this had only a 30 minute wait time!

My husband really, really wanted to ride the new Outlaw Run roller coaster, so we headed to the back of the park next. All day long we had kept an eye out, and often seen the ride not running, or running with empty cars. We figured they were still working some bugs out, but hoped that it would be running smoothly by afternoon. When we got to the back of the park the sign said it was an 84 minute wait, but it wasn't actually running. My husband checked with an attendant who said they were working on it, but it shouldn't be long. My husband and one son decided to get in line while I took the rest of the kids to the Hi Lo Silo ride where we stood in line for another 30 minutes for a ride that was literally 75 seconds long.

Next I took the kids over to the Fire in the Hole ride. This may have been more fun in warm weather, but since it was cold they had turned off the water effects, which meant it was a bit boring. Certainly not worth the 25 minute wait! Once we got off the ride I figured we still had time before my husband was done with the Outlaw Run, so we stopped for a cookie and hot chocolate break which was yummy and the prices were on par wtth other amusement parks.

Once our snack was done we headed back to Outlaw Run only to find a flood of people exiting that area. Luckily we ran into my husband almost immediately. He and my middle son were very disgruntled. Apparently, they had stood in line, watching as the staff ran empty cars and then a car with a mechanic through through the ride. As the mechanic passed the line he gave the thumbs up signal and everyone in line cheered. At that point the line started moving, and finally, after a 75 minute wait, the station was in sight! Unfortunately, there was some kind of medical issue with a passenger either on the ride or in the station, and they shut the ride down again. In order to get the paramedics to the person, they cleared the entire line out and announced that they would not reopen the ride that day. Yep, 75 minutes of waiting for nothing!

We decided to head back to the Grand Exposition to some kiddie rides in hopes that the lines wouldn't be long. Thunderation's line was only about 10 minute long at that point, so it got another spin. Then we headed to the Magnificent Wave Swing Carousel. The line was very short and after 5 minutes we were on board. And then we sat. And sat. Apparently there was an issue with the wind and whether the ride could still operate. So we sat and waited for the phone to ring. After 15 minutes total wait time (10 minutes actually on the swings), we exited the ride without riding. By this point three of our kids were begging to go back to the hotel. My youngest wanted one turn on The Electro Spin ride, so we stood in line for that one a good 15 minutes. The park had announced with was staying open until 7pm, but no one was interested in staying any later, so we headed for the exit.

We boarded a tram for our parking section and then sat and waited for more people to fill it. Then we sat and waited some more. At this point, we were so accustomed to waiting that we didn't even wonder why, it just seemed to be the modus operandi of the park. After about 10 minutes of waiting, we were instructed to disembark and reload onto another tram, as ours was experiencing some sort of difficulty.

We finally got back to the car and took stock of our day. All in all we were at the park for 8 1/2 hours. In that time we rode 7 rides and stood in lines for 6 hours! Is it any wonder that today, when we woke up and asked the kids if they wanted to head back to Silver Dollar City to use our 2nd day pass, that they unanimously said "No way!" and had no problem with packing up and heading home a day early?!

To be fair, we did talk to other guests during our wait times, and most said that it wasn't usually this busy at Silver Dollar City. One lady was flabbergasted that she had spent an hour in line for lunch at a food booth that only served hotdogs and nachos. It seems that usually the park is run much better. It appeared to be a bad case of not enough staff for a day that was busier than expected. However, considering that they opened for the season last week, one would expect them to have hired all their staff by now. It was especially disheartening to see all the "Sorry folks, no shows today!" signs at the various show locations. If the lines are this long, and the shows this non-existent early in the season, how on earth are they going to cope with larger crowds in the summer? I'm not sure if management has changed, or if the park was trying to cut costs by not hiring as many people, but there was definitely a break down somewhere in their system.

I'll be keeping an eye on the situation to see if it improves, but until I see evidence that the problems are fixed, I'd have to advise everyone to pick a different park for their vacations. It simply is not worth the time and money to go to Silver Dollar City in my opinion! My kids are eagerly awaiting the 4 day weekend in May where we will go check out Six Flags over Texas. As far as they're concerned Silver Dollar City was a big disappointment and not on their list of places to go back to!

Anyways, I am off to stock up on groceries, then I will be making some new products that I thought of while on break - love how a vacation can clear the mind and provide tons of inspiration! I will be having some flash freebies of the new things this weekend, so be sure to check back so you don't miss it  (hint, I will be posting the flash freebie times on my FB page, so be sure you like it to get the updates!).

St. Patrick's Day Celebration plus a Meet-up!

Wahoo for Spring Break! Today is an inclement weather day that we never had to take, so my Spring Break started a day early :) Can't beat that, can you?

I'm heading to Kansas City, KS tomorrow for the Midwest Meet-up! If you're in the area we'd love to see you there (no blog necessary!). I think we've decided on the Chili's restaurant, so come have lunch with us!

Then we're off to Bronson, MO to hit Silver Dollar City's new roller coaster - my husband and kids are thrilled! Pregnant me will have to sit that one out - and somehow manage to resist all the goodies while I'm waiting for them! We've never been to KS or MO, so if you know of any places that we just shouldn't miss out on, please Rustle Up a Response below and let me know! I am about to hit up the Food Network website to see if "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" covered any good places to eat in those locations lol!

Before I get all wrapped up in packing and cleaning house, I wanted to share our St. Patrick's Day celebration with you! Our classroom was all decked out for the occasion:

 This leprechaun on our door was a big hit with the kids!

 I love making our reading center cozy with a themed table cloth (nothing fancy, just a yard of fabric) and some seasonal books.

 I found this cute rug for our door at the Target Dollar Spot - the kids loved it, even though it didn't have all the colors.

Our Math wall had my Leprechaun Ten Frames on display - the kids love it when I put a new set up!

Each kiddo who made a leprechaun trap got one of these BragTags for their necklace:

Here's a collage of the various traps - I was very impressed with how elaborate they were - and my one little buddy who comes in a bit dirty, without homework and never seems to get a whole lot of interaction at home came in with one of the neatest traps - and proceeded to excitedly tell me about how he and his dad constructed it together! It really made my day to know that this little assignment provided such special time for him to be with his father one-on-one like that!

 The insides of the trap were also entertaining, especially the one with this picture inside:

How's that for leprechaun enticement?!

In the afternoon we set up all of the traps around the room:

Once everything was set up we headed for the computer room, and when we came back that leprechaun has upset all the traps, scattered shamrock confetti everywhere, and knocked over all of the green chairs in our classroom! I would have taken a picture, but I had to ride herd on the kids, who were so excited that they alerted the 2nd grade class across the hall who came rushing over to see if we had actually caught a leprechaun!

Once everyone settled down we discovered that the tricky leprechaun had gotten to our snacks! We were going to have a special treat since we finally got everyone over the first hump of sight words:

The leprechaun opened all the treats and turned them green!

We also made leprechaun necklaces (bought at 1/2 price after St. Patrick's day last year so they were $4 for the materials to make 30!)

Of course we had to tie in some writing as well, look at what my friends would do if they actually caught a leprechaun! Note, remember I'm in 1st grade this year, so this is way more than I would expect from a kinder. Also, this was a 20 minute activity - no rough draft and only minimal editing, just writing off the cuff.

 This little one has so many ideas she forgot to make each a complete sentence, but I loved her enthusiasm!

 Hmm, this one seemed to over rely on "I would" but, all in all I was pretty impressed that she was able to get this much down - and she remembered punctuation most of the time!

I see I need to do a quick lesson on "in" versus "and" as well as "git" versus "get". This one is very hard for me since I don't have the Oklahoma accent that my kiddos do. To me, the difference seems perfectly obvious, but most of my students have difficulties with their accent affecting their spelling.

 Another little one who needs a refresher on not starting sentences with "and" lol! But, I love the part about living "Happily ever after"!

Hope you enjoyed this look into our St. Patrick's Day classroom celebration!

Leprechaun Jokes and Sale Ending!

Here are a few leprechaun jokes I've found that might give you some laughs this week:

Also, just a quick reminder that the Kinderland TPT sale ends tonight! My entire store is 20% off until midnight, plus many of my Kinderland friends are also having sales that end tonight!

Here's my store link:

Kinderland TPT Sale!!

I'm having a sale on my entire TPT store this weekend - 20% off! I have a ton of St. Patrick's Day goodies, so you can stock up for this week and next :) Some other fabulous Kinderland bloggers are having sales too, be sure to check them out!

Here's my store link:

Product Swap and a Sale!

Happy Saturday! This has been a week people! Two of my kids came down with fevers, coughs, headaches! My youngest was at the dr on Monday and got a course of steroids for his deep cough, then we had to take him to the  ER last night for an ear infection! I am really hoping these kids get well before Spring Break!

Happily, I participated in a product swap with Erica from Sprinkles to Kindergarten (super cute blog, you should go visit right away!). This meant we had something new to try out in my room, and when I had to take the day off on Friday for sick kids, I knew I was leaving my sub with something fun and worthwhile to do!

I started off the week by introducing her Little Detectives Making Words pack - this set has 10 lessons, so I started off with doing one whole group, under my Elmo. My kids got the hang of it very quickly and were soon begging to do another one.

This time, I let them work on it individually, and challenged them to come up with more words than their friends. I loved how engrossed they were with this, every single one of my darlings tried very hard to come up with words - and it was great because while my sweet n lows were working out word families and onset/rime to come up with 3 and 4 letter words, by high flyers were really stretching themselves to find longer words. One of my smarties even grabbed a dictionary to help her spell words!

The other product we tested was Erica's Mini Words pack which focuses on basic sight words and short vowel cvc words. I used this with my lowest group, as a review.They loved getting to use the magnifying glasses, and I loved that each sheet has enough words that I could put them in pairs!

Both of these products provide several hours of activity, so they are a bargain! Actually they're even more of a bargain now, because we are joining up with several other Kinderland bloggers for a SALE!

The sale starts Sunday, March 10th and goes until Tuesday March 12th!

Here's the link to my TPT store:
 And here is Erica's

Happy Shopping!

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