Last Minute Apple Freebie!

Hi friends! Tomorrow is my last day off before I go back to the classroom after maternity leave! I am all kinds of nervous about taking over my classroom, even though I know my sub has done a wonderful job establishing procedures (by the way, got any ideas for a gift for a sub who has gone above and beyond?!) I also hate the idea of leaving Sullivan at daycare - even though its a nice one, I still worry he's going to miss me (probably because I hold him practically 24/7, in fact he's hanging out on my lap as I type this!) And, heck, even if I DO put him down for a minute, he's immediately stolen away by one of my children or his Daddy.  I'm hoping he adjusts well to daycare though! Here's the obligatory pic of my little guy, in this one he's smiling at his Daddy:

Anyways, seeing as I haven't been in the classroom for September, I'm going to start off October with a few days of Apple activities - just because I love making applesauce in the classroom!  The smell of it cooking all day, watching the kids faces as they taste hot, homemade applesauce for the first time - its one of my favorite Fall activities! So, for today and tomorrow, my Facebook Fan Freebie is a cute Apple themed center activity - grab it before it changes on October 1st! I'll be updating the Fan Freebie frequently, so make sure you are a Facebook follower so you can grab the freebies while they're up!

I spent some time this last week working on an Initial Blends & Digraphs pack. Our Literacy 1st assessment has changed, so instead of going from CVC words to CVCE words, it go from CVC words to Initial Consonant Blends, Final Consonatn Blends, Multisyllabic closed syllable words and THEN CVCE words! Not sure if this is a good change or not, but I figure it might be since so many kiddos have trouble getting the long vowel sound for CVCE words - this new assessment gives them a whole semester to mature a bit before I teach it, so hopefully it will be easier for them to pick up Silent E!

If you'd like a chance to win my new pack, just Rustle Up a Response below with some gift ideas for my sub - she's leaving my class on Tuesday and going straight into another long-term sub position - I swear every pregnant teacher in the district tries to nab her! She's a retired teacher so she's great with the kids and she really works hard!

Series Read Alouds

I was so happy to receive an Amazon package the other day (tell the truth, Amazon boxes excite you too, right?) - but puzzled because I hadn't ordered anything from Amazon lately. It turned out that it was a book that I had pre-ordered way back at the end of the school year!

I love Mr. Putter & Tabby ! If you're not familiar with this series, the author, Cynthia Rylant, also writes the Henry and Mudge series. I always read the Mr. Putter and Tabby books aloud to my classes. They are always a big hit and my students love to listen to them - they have interesting characters, a touch of humor and great illustrations!

As I thought about adding this book to my read aloud lineup, I started to think about all of the series books that my students usually love:

Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa is always a favorite - even with my boys! Cowgirl Kate is clever, kind and hardworking while Cocoa is funny, stubborn and a wee bit lazy. There aren't very many books in this series (yet!) but my students have enjoyed all the ones we've read.

Of course I have to put Henry and Mudge on the list! My students always enjoy these - sometimes I draw them out and read them over 2 days, but more often the kids clamor for me to finish the book, so we sneak in a little extra read aloud time to do so!

Of course we always read Laura Numeroff's "If you give a..." books! We always make a class book after we finish the series and the kids are used to the sequencing too!

Although my Spanish accent is pathetic, my students still enjoy Skippyjon Jones! So far I have loved all of his adventures, but especially Cirque de Ole.

One thing I love about Curious George is that he captures the students' attention, even some of my most reluctant readers. I'm not sure if its because he gets into so much mischief, or its the novelty of a monkey pet, but whenever I pull out a C.G book I am guaranteed that even my most active boys will settle down for a few minutes at least!

My absolute favorite series though, is from Mo Willems and its Elephant & Piggie. Oh my goodness! My kiddos LOVE these! I have multiple copies of them, simply because my students love to read them together. One student will be Gerald the Elephant and read his parts, while the other student plays the part of Piggie. Last year I watched as one of my most advanced readers teamed up with her best friend who was one of my lowest readers. Each of them had a blast reading it - it held the attention of my high ability kiddo while not intimidating my struggling reader! I already have the newest book on pre-order, it comes out mid-October!

Alright, if I've missed a series that your kids love, please Rustle Up a Response below and let me know! I love finding new books/authors!


Time has been flying for me! I think missing the first 6 weeks of school due to maternity leave has to be the best thing ever! I go back in 1 week and due to having a wonderful sub I think this is going to be a great transition. I've been going into school every Monday morning, toting along Sullivan, partly to run copies and drop off lesson plans, but also to visit my class and let them get used to me a bit. I am about 30% eager to get back in the classroom and get to know all my cuties better, and 70% sad to be leaving Sullivan at daycare so soon. My students, on the other hand, are about 110% ready for me to be their teacher, if the eager greetings and hugs I get are anything to go by!

Speaking of Sullivan, he experienced his first fire drill last week when it went off while we were in the work room. Luckily the noise didn't bother him at all, and he enjoyed the brief trip outside (partly because he was passed around between teachers and our cook!) Of course I have to share a picture or two, so here ya go, here's my little man:

I thought for sure I'd be able to get so much accomplished during my 6 weeks of leave. I forgot how time consuming a new baby is! Between feeding, burping, changing and rocking to sleep, some days I hardly have time for a shower! But, I did come up with a new Apple Math Fun center pack. This one is Common Core aligned for Kindergarten and it has 9 fun activities! I printed and laminated all week - and it took me that long because Sullivan has a sixth sense about when Mama is about to start printing, cutting or laminating and chooses that moment to start fussing lol! Here are some pictures:

This is one of my favorites: Students look at the picture to fill in the graph and then complete the recroding sheet, answering questions about more than, less than and equal to. I laminate my sheets so they can be used with dry erase markers!

 I also included lots of number recognition and counting activities, including Roll & Cover with 1 or 2 dice, a number order puzzle for 1-10, 11-20 and 10-100 by 10'sand 1-10 counting puzzles!

 There's a missing number Read & Write the room too - and there are 4 different sets of cards so you can differentiate!

This one is my favorite - we play Hide N Seek with our sight words all the time (click here to see the different sets I have) but this is the first time I made a Hide N Seek for shapes! There are 2d and 3d shape cards, and the shapes have different orientations, sizes, and colors. You just hide the apple pie card behind a card and the students "seek" it by identifying the shape on the card they think its hiding behind. There are 2 count and color sheets with this one - one for the 2d shapes and one for the 3d shapes.

I also have a patterning activity with AB, AAB, ABB and ABC patterns, which is one of our "highly recommended" skills even though its not in the Common Core. I also made a cute spinner with apple goodies and the kiddos graph their spin each time - the recording sheet is printed 2 to a page to cut down on paper use too!

 Tonight only I'll have this pack on sale - its normally $4.50 but its marked down to $3.50 until midnight! Click the picture to check it out!

When I go back to school next week we are going to work on my favorite Apple craftivity - apple trees for all seasons:
I print out a simple bare tree, have the students cut it out and glue it down and decorate it for the seasons - for summer its torn paper, in spring its tissue paper flowers, and for fall and winter they use paint! I love displaying these!

Oh! and the winner of the $25 Oriental Trading gift card was Patricia Schena! I'll be having another giveaway this week, so check back to see what it is!

Blessings and a Giveaway!

I have been feeling so blessed lately. When I took Sullivan for his 2 week check-up they gave me a survey to fill out, basically to check for post-partum depression. I was able to answer all of the questions positively, and its because of all the good things that are going on in my life lately:

First up - Sullivan is my absolute joy. I'll share with you that I was extremely apprehensive to be having another baby at 40. He was definitely an unplanned blessing. My pregnancy was rough, to put it mildly, and I tried not to think about his arrival because I was certain it would throw our lives all out of whack. I thought about not being able to take vacations for a while (or having to take them with an infant in tow - not fun!), sleepless nights and endless cycles of feeding, burping, and changing a crying baby. In fact, I didn't even buy anything for him until the last week of my pregnancy - and that was only when my older kids insisted that we needed to buy some clothes and blankets for him (his bassinet and carseat didn't get purchased until the day after he was born!). I knew I was going to love him, but I also thought it'd be a big adjustment. When we got to the hospital after my water broke and I realized that there was no stopping that train, I was almost in tears, thinking that this could be the biggest mistake of our lives. Starting over at 40 did not seem like the brightest idea!

Well, the instant the doctor held him up to me and I saw his funny face (he was a bit swollen since he felt it necessary to come out with his fist pressed against his nose) I fell totally in love. Yeah, I know, that's what's supposed to happen right? But, honestly, I didn't expect it. I had felt that love with my first 4, but I still wasn't prepared for that rush of absolute, total, pure love. Sullivan is absolutely the best thing in my life. Part of this is because he's such a sweet, adorable little guy, with a mass of red hair that makes him look like a little old man (seriously, we need to give him a hair cut already!) Part of it is because he has completed our family in a way that surprises me. I didn't realize he was missing until we had him. My oldest children dote on him - volunteering to change diapers, hanging around waiting for him to wake up so they get a chance to hold him, begging to be the one who assists me with his bath etc. So yeah, having a baby at 40 is the best thing that's ever happened to me (and since I just celebrated my 15th anniversary with my husband on Friday, you can safely assume that I've had a lot of good things happen to me in the last 15 years ) God works in mysterious ways, and sometimes He doesn't send us what we want necessarily, but what we need.

Alright, I'll try to refrain from waxing lyrical about Sullivan any more - although I can't promise that I won't sneak in updates and pictures now and then, just because I can't resist sharing the cuteness.

Another blessing in my life is my maternity leave substitute. Mrs. Edwards is a miracle. She helped set up my classroom (she did 95% of the work!) and has stepped up to the first weeks of class without hesitation. She comes in on the weekends to run copies and get the room ready, she presented my behavior clip chart system to the parents at Open House, she's set up conferences with parents and admin already for those students who need a little extra help/guidance and is an all around life saver. I went into school on Tuesday and spent 30 minutes in the room, just watching, wanting my kiddos to get a little bit used to me so the transition isn't such a shock, and I was so happy to see how well she's managing everything from discipline (man, I wish I had her voice - she's soft-spoken but firm and I have a tendency to be loud, even in normal conversations) to teacing the curriculum!

The third blessing came this week in the form of boxes from Amazon. I had signed up with Reddits Gifts For Teachers program and was thrilled to be matched with a lovely family. Their son did not require any school supplies this year as he's a high school senior, so they used the money that they would have spent on him to treat my class.They sent us wipes, crayons, scented markers, glue sticks, construction paper, oil pastels AND stickers! I cannot wait to bring them into the classroom this week and show the kids - I feel a special craftivity coming on!

I was also blessed this summer by Oriental Trading Company. They sent me a gift card to check out some of their products and I had a blast filling up my cart with all things cowboy! Here's some of the items I picked:
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 These precut tissue squares are fabulous for crafts, and I can't wait to use these Western beads for some pattern necklaces!

 I got some motivational Western stickers and some Western erasers to use as math manipulatives!

 We'll be using these Western stamps to make pictures to write stories about, as well as graphing with them.

 I love these dry erase sleeves - especially since my principal wants us to cut way back on paper this year!

And of course, if you know me you'll know that I am unable to resist dice - these large foam dice will be gracing our math centers this year and I bet the kids will have a blast with them!

And, even better, Oriental Trading Company is allowing me to pass on this blessing by giving me a $25 gift card to give away to one of you! Just fill out the rafflecopter form for your chance to win!

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Thank you so much for being another blessing in my life - it makes such a difference to know that I can help other teachers and students out there - it really makes my heart happy to think that I can make even a small difference for another classroom!


Winners & Classroom Decor!

First up, thanks for all the sweet comments about little Sullivan! Here's another pic of him, just because  I love showing him off - out of all of my kiddos, this one is most like me so far - he has my hands and nose and chin and I am more in love every day!

Next, the winners of the DonorsChoose gift cards are Amy and Susan! Congratulations! I will be emailing your codes to you today!

School has been in full swing for 2 weeks here. That's 2 weeks of my wonderful, awesome, amazing sub going above and beyond for me! I nabbed her for my maternity leave back in April and I'm so glad I did because she is phenomenal! How many subs do you know that will go into work on a Saturday to run copies and get the classroom ready?! She did 90% of my classroom set up too! I also didn't do lesson plans for the first 2 weeks as she had it covered doing all the various drills and teaching my procedures! I apparently have a little behavior problem with my class and she is already on top of it - scheduled meetings with parents, admin and our BD teacher so that by the time I get back it should be resolved!

So yes, I am loving life right now (but don't talk to me about 4 weeks from now because my eyes already start to water just thinking about leaving Sullivan). I love my room because this year we went with a Cowboy/Western theme which I think is adorable. AND this year everything was created by me from my number line to my alphabet to my behavior chart etc! Love it all! I would share pics, but when I went up to school to show Sullivan off and finally take some pictures they had just had a lock down drill and the classroom was a mess since stuff had to be piled on the windowsills to block the windows and tables and desks were pushed to block the door etc. But, I will share close-up pics of just a few of the things I made this summer:

 My Western themed alphabet line came out too cute!

 I love my Cowboy Behavior Chart too - although not thrilled that 4 of my new friends ended the day on Reminder - makes me think this might be a doozy of a class this year!

 Love my Western number line too, its such a great reference for my kiddos!

If you know me at all you know that I love me some ten frames! I worked a lot this summer on different sets. This cowboy themed set is part of my Cowboys, Fire Fighters & Pirates Ten Frame pack.

I also redid my crate seats for my reading center and found a cool fabric for a tablecloth:

Now I just have to find something to put above my Lakeshore calendar - it has to hang low enough so my little shorties can reach it, but that leaves this gap at the top that bugs me....

My sub is going to be starting our classroom jobs this week too, so I am going to spend my Labor Day printing, laminating and cutting that out. Really, aside from losing ALL of my sick days, I couldn't have planned this maternity leave better - by the time I go back on October 1st my sub will have everything up and running so I only have to tweak things - I think the first 6 weeks are the most stressful, so I am glad I am missing them lol!

I hope everyone enjoys their Monday off for Labor Day (sorry to all my Canadian and Australian friends who had to work!) I am going to go start laminating now while Sullivan naps!

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