July 13, 2017

How to Yard Sale Like a Boss: A Teacher's Survival Guide

You need cool things for your classroom, but you don't want to break the bank. Have you tried yard "sailing" for some great bargains and interesting finds?

I was introduced to flea markets and yard sales at about age 7. The kids across the street always had "new" and interesting toys to play with that their parents picked up at yard sales. I had so much fun playing at their house. I remember that one time the family even took me to an auction and bid on a box of toys that they gave me. At the risk of dating myself, I must say that I was one happy camper driving home in the back of their station wagon! My mom caught the flea market bug, and we started a weekly trip with my cousins. Talk about fun times and memories! Our trips to the flea market expanded to yard sales, and as I got older they were a teacher's dream come true. I've picked up some tips over the years that I'd like to share. If you have never tried yard "sailing" before, grab a friend, and give it a try!

Here are some of my latest yard sale finds. I hit the jackpot when I found a teacher who had recently resigned to stay home with her own kids. Once she found out that I was a teacher, she was practically giving her stuff away!

Fun Stamps for Stamp a Story

Brand New Markers

Prize Box Items

Math Station Game

Magnetic Labels 

Emoji Stamps

Here are some steps to follow:

1. Find out when and where the yard sales are. Some are still published the old fashion way in the local newspaper, but I usually use sites like Garage Sale Finder. (Not an affiliate!) You can also look for signs around your town. My favorites are church yard sales and neighborhood yard sales as there is usually great participation and selection. Don't overlook estate sales! You may think that everything is the old and collectible type stuff, but many people who are simply downsizing have estate sales too. Most sales are held on the weekends.

2. Plan your route to make the best use of your time.

3. Get up early, and head out!*

4. Smile and greet the seller. This sets the stage for good communication. They may ask you if you are looking for anything in particular or mention some items and prices. The last sale I was at, the seller said, "Books and stuffed animals are free!" What?! Just in time for updating my class library!


5. Consider stating that you are a teacher. I have gotten many good deals this way as sellers are usually delighted that their items will have a new life with your students.

6. Negotiate prices. You are not being cheap...sellers expect this! For example, if the price on an educational toy is $5.00, you might say, "Will you take 3 for this?" The worse the seller can say is, "No." Usually, sellers accept reasonable offers. Sometimes, they might counter an offer back like, "How about 4?" So go ahead and make offers.

7. Pay for your items, say thank you, and head to the next sale!

*Hint: Heading out early gets you the best selection. Arriving later tends to get you the best prices. After all, sellers don't want to have to put this stuff away!

If you've already tried yard sailing, what was your favorite yard sale find?

November 26, 2016

TpT Gift Card Giveaway!

You can still enter even if you already follow Fourth Grade Frenzy! Just say "already a follower" when asked for a number. Go ahead and enter...it's easy!

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November 12, 2016

3 Sister Mosaics

These 3 Sister Mosaics are a huge hit every year with my class. So what are the 3 Sisters? Native Americans considered 3 crops to be most important: corn, squash, and beans. These crops not only provided a healthy diet, but also kept the soil fertile.

These mosaics are easy and inexpensive to make! 

Various colors of 5" by 5" construction paper squares
6" by 6" neutral color card stock squares (I used dollar store file folders!)
Dried pumpkin seeds
Dried corn seeds
Dried bean seeds
Small cups to hold the seeds

1. Students glue their construction paper onto the neutral card stock background.
2. Students make a design with their seeds, and glue them in place.
3. Allow to dry overnight.

Are you studying about the Lenape? LENAPE LIFEWAYS is a website designed to teach middle grade students about this fascinating culture. Their videos are quite informative, and the students find them interesting. The video titled Gathering and Cooking mentions the 3 Sisters, and I use it as an introduction to the 3 Sister Mosaic activity. 

You can click HERE to get to the site.

You may also like additional Lenape activities that are great for integrating comparing and contrasting skills.

This resource includes a sorting activity that is perfect for small group use with a Hula-Hoop Venn Diagram, a Venn Diagram recording sheet, a sample compare and contrast essay, and essay writing paper.

You can click HERE to get this resource.

How will your class celebrate the Native American culture?

July 31, 2016

The Best of Teacher Entrepreneurs Marketing Cooperative

What The Best of Teacher Entrepreneurs Marketing Cooperative Means to Me......

I joined The Best of Teacher Entrepreneurs Marketing Cooperative about a year and a half ago on a whim. I loved TpT from the start, but I needed some connections...something beyond the forums. I got the membership on sale that day thinking that I would try it out and just see how things go. I never looked back. Membership in this group has helped me break free of my comfort zones and take my store to the next level. The group members are supportive, and Vicky is always available for individual help and guidance. I feel like I have my own TpT personal trainer! Although my original purpose for joining this group was to learn some serious marketing strategies, it has turned out to be so much more. I now collaborate with teachers from all over the country! Some of us even met in person in Vegas and Orlando. Not only have I improved my TpT marketing, but I have also made friends for life!

If you have any questions, feel free to email me at monicam8084@gmail.com. I can earn a referral credit if you join and mention my name (Monica) and store Fourth Grade Frenzy which is not required, but appreciated! 

You can join HERE!

TpT Gift Card Giveaway!

Enter below to win a $10 TpT gift card!

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July 19, 2016

Author Visit!

Have you always wanted an author or illustrator to visit your school?
Finding an author to visit your school may be easier than you think! 
The following list contains the steps that I followed for our author visit. It may look like a lot, but it's really just broken down into small, manageable steps.

1. Start by Googling children's authors in your area. Make a list of possible visitors. Searching out of area is fine too. Some may travel.
2. Narrow down your search to a few that appear to be grade level appropriate.
3. Go to the local library or book store to browse the authors' books. Keep the authors on your list who appear to be a good match.
4. Contact the author(s) directly by email or phone to get details about price and availability. (Those in your area may provide a discount because no travel is involved.)
5. Discuss your plan with your administrator. It's always good to keep him/her in the loop!
6. Arrange to obtain funding. I applied for a grant from our Educational Foundation and won! You can also check with your PTA or local American Legion to see if they would be able to help.
7. Once you have funding, set the date for the visit. The hardest part is over!
8. Order some books by the author if funds are available.
9. Email the staff a Save the Date for the visit. You know we are planners and like to know everything ahead of time! I simply sent out a brief email stating that an author would be visiting and approximately how much time should be allotted for their students' experience.
10. If you order books, distribute them to classes when they arrive so that teachers and students have access to them prior to the visit.
11. Make a schedule. I grouped grade levels together in 3 meet and greet sessions. Plan what works for your school and the author's schedule.
12. Plan details. Our author/illustrator offered to sketch 10 reluctant readers/writers between sessions and to have lunch with 10 other reluctant readers/writers. I had each grade level chose students to participate, and had the names emailed to me. I then made a master list for the sketches and the lunch.
13. Contact the author three to four weeks prior to the visit, and finalize details such as equipment needed.
14. Secure the equipment and facilities needed within your building.
15. Send out final schedules to the staff one to two weeks prior to the visit.
16. Confirm with the author one week prior. Go over any last minute details.
17. On the day of the visit, greet the author. You may want to have a few students with you for this greeting!
18. Have fun and take pictures!

*Some authors may provide order forms for signed copies of books that students may purchase.

Here is author/illustrator Michael Dooling. He visited our school this past spring, and the reviews from both staff and students were two thumbs up! We all learned about the process he follows when he writes and/or illustrates a book. Would you believe that he begins the process in an actual library?! He makes sure the kids know that it is ok to make mistakes. The experience was a huge hit. He is local to my area, but I believe he travels!

Here is a picture that one of my students helped Mr. Dooling draw:

Didn't she do an awesome job?!

Check out his site HERE.

Do you know any great authors or illustrators who visit schools?

July 1, 2016

Boosting Staff Morale at School

There's no doubt about it....teaching is stressful!

Here are some fun and easy ways to raise the spirits of your staff or colleagues:

  1. Have random drawings at staff meetings for free and inexpensive prizes such as a preferred parking spot for the week or a new set of markers.
  2. Distribute bubble wrap during testing week or other stressful week. Include a note saying, "Pop 3 capsules every 4-6 hours or as needed for stress."
  3. Place a bowl of fresh fruit in the teachers' lounge.
  4. Write positive notes, and slide them under classroom doors.
  5. Plan and implement a staff member exercise group.
  6. Have students sing happy birthday to each staff member on their birthday.
  7. Check with local businesses for donations of coupons towards freebies and discounted services and products. Distribute in mailboxes or at meetings.
  8. Have a jeans day just because.
  9. Compile and distribute a list of businesses that provide educator discounts.
  10. Have a staff shout out board! Read the shout outs at monthly staff meetings.

Click HERE to get started for FREE!

What other ways can you think of to keep colleagues positive and upbeat?