November 19, 2017

Kindness Bulletin Board

This kindness bulletin board was very easy! I chose a black background and white border. I cut out the words on our Ellison Machine using pastel colors and white.  Then I had my students write motivational messages on pastel colored sticky notes and stick them all over the board. Finally, I sent out an email to my colleagues asking them to join in by bringing their class to the board where they would take messages to give away. I also invited them to have their kiddos add some of their own motivational messages. Here is just a sampling of what the kids came up with on their own:

All month long students would grab sticky notes to give away, but the board was always full because more sticky notes were added. This board was a fun way to encourage kindness! My heartwarming surprise was when students would take messages to give to me and other teachers. How sweet is that?!

October 9, 2017

Lining Up Math Problems with Ease!

I don't know which I say more....
"Line up your numbers!" or "Show your work!"

Students who struggle to keep their numbers straight may benefit from this simple solution. Take a plain piece of lined paper, and turn it so that the lines are vertical. Students write each digit in their problems between the lines and solve. TADA!

No need to print out grid paper! As you can see, this little trick works well for the 4 basic operations. Now the kids will be less likely to make errors due to misaligned numbers. Then we can focus on that math talk where students explain their thinking!  Let me know if this hack works for your kiddos!

September 10, 2017

Patriot Day for Kids

The 911 events are not easy to teach to our middle grade students, but at the same time, most of us want to be able to discuss this day in a way that is age appropriate. I searched and came up with few ideas....

I will be showing my kiddos this YouTube video titled: What Happened On September 11, 2001? The site indicates that it is appropriate for ages 9 and above, and I would agree with that rating. However, you know your kids, so be sure to watch it for yourself before you decide to show it to your students!

Open in YouTube:

After we watch this YouTube video, we will complete some of the FREE activities created by Top Floor Teachers on TpT. I am so very grateful for this resource as it will save me an incredible amount of time! I plan to extend the letter writing activity a bit and invite some of our local fire fighters into our class during fire prevention week. The kids can read their letters out loud to the firefighters if they wish.

Here is a link to this wonderful FREEBIE:

Some teachers I know are showing the BrainPop video titled September 11th. I think this video is a little too intense for my kiddos, so I am not going to show this one tomorrow, but if your school has an account, you may want to check it out.

Here is the link to the BrainPop video:

September 11th is a day to remember our heroes of yesterday and today. I am grateful for the police officers and their canines, fire fighters, first responders, the medical community, The US Military, and all the volunteers who put others first. You are appreciated! 

August 12, 2017

The Last Week of Summer

There's one thing I NEVER do the last week of summer....and that is...go into school!

I make it a habit to have my classroom ready or nearly ready before the last week of summer...well you know...Are we ever really 100% ready? There's always something else we could do.

I save the last week for me! Some of the things I do are organizational so that the first few weeks of school go smoother. Some of the things I do are just plain fun!

Here are some things I do the last week of summer.....

1. Stock Up

I stock up on just about everything. You know how it goes. You are getting ready for school or should I say trying to get ready for school when your little one spills,  your other kid drops his toothbrush in the toilet, and you have used the last of the conditioner (even the adding water to the bottle and swishing it around to get the last bit part). You're now running late, and you have to be at 2 soccer games and a meeting after school. You have no time to stop to pick up household items on your way home! But if you stock up the last week of summer, you will breathe a sigh of relief knowing that you have everything you need in the back of the cabinet.

Here are some things I like to stock up on:

Make up and Toiletries

Keep them hidden if you can. That way they won't mysteriously disappear. Your teenagers may find that extra body wash and start using it well before the one currently in the bathroom is used up.

Paper Products

Hide the paper towels. Significant others take lots of these. I have no idea what they use them for, but somehow they have a way of making them disappear. No need to hide anything else. You are the only one who knows how to change the toilet paper anyway.

Cleaning Supplies

No need to hide any of these. If someone in your family decides to use the cleaning products, consider yourself lucky.

Poster Board

And if any of your own kids are in middle school....poster board. Yep, stock up on poster board. Even in this digital world, the night will come when your middle school child declares at 10:00 pm that he/she needs poster board for a project that is due tomorrow.  Take my word on this. If you have a middle schooler, buy poster board.

2. Get the Clothes Ready

You probably already did the back to school clothes shopping thing, but maybe the clothes are still in bags. It's time to get them out, cut off the tags, iron if necessary,  and prepare every outfit for yourself and your own kids for the first week of school. 

Why? Because after that first PD day, you will come home with a headache as you wonder to yourself who thought up these new procedures, how on earth are you ever going to get it all done, and when are they going to fix the laminator? On their first day of school, your own kids will hand you a stack of forms to fill out, and tell you that they will get a prize if they are returned tomorrow. You will be glad that you do not have to worry about clothes. They are in the closet already lined up for the next day. Do this for yourself and your kids.

3. Prepare and Freeze Some Meals

Honestly, I don't go overboard here, but do a little of this to save your sanity.

4. Have Fun!

This is my view from my kayak. My county Parks and Rec runs a program where you can rent a kayak or canoe for $5 an hour, life jackets included. It is incredibly relaxing, not to mention cheap. My kids usually come with me and rent their own kayak. Sometimes we pack a picnic lunch and hang out for awhile in the adjacent park. Our tax dollars at work!

Start a tradition with your kids or even for yourself. Our tradition is a day down the shore, just me and the kids. (Jersey girl here!) We throw a football around, read, walk, chat, and ride the waves. Yep, I'm the oldest one in the ocean on a boogie board! I think I scare the living daylights out of my kids by doing this!

We also do the boardwalk. The Jersey boardwalk is full of shops, games, rides, and places to eat...

Did I mention that on tradition day, there are NO rules about what to eat? That's right! The kids are allowed to eat whatever they want, whenever they want all day! Of course, if one or more of your kiddos has dietary needs, you will need to modify this rule to make it work for you. We eat pretty healthy on a regular basis, so this one day is a fun treat! And's just one day out of the year. Your kids will wonder if you have lost your mind upon hearing this one day rule, but will not question your judgement. My older kids still love this idea, and I actually look forward to this day of pizza, ice cream, cotton candy, and fries!

Those are just two of my fun days. The idea is to do something that you enjoy for fun!

5. Watch To Sir, With Love (or your own favorite teacher movie)

I have watched To Sir, With Love before going back to school for nearly all my teaching years. It's an oldie but a goodie starring Sidney Poitier. You will laugh, you will cry, and most likely be reminded of just why you became a teacher. 

So, as you get ready to go back to school, I want to wish you all the best! May you have understanding administrators, cooperative colleagues, delightful children, and days full of learning and discovery. 

And as the butterflies turn in your stomach as they do each and every year on that first day of school, just remember this.....Summer will be back! 

July 27, 2017

Best Field Trip Ever!

"Best field trip ever!" declared nearly all 96 Fourth Graders as we trudged out of the quarry....

For the first time since its opening, our grade level/school/district secured a coveted time slot to visit Rowan Fossil Park in Mantua, New Jersey. (Recently renamed Edelman Fossil Park)

After months of planning, a glorious fall day presented itself for our one and only field trip of the year.

Students spent the first hour of our visit rotating through stations learning about fossils in general and the specific types of fossils that have been discovered at Rowan Fossil Park.

Finally, it was our turn to head down into the quarry!

And guess who we met down in the quarry?! A real live paleontologist!

Dr. Lacovara told us that if we were alive 66 million years ago, we would have been standing in the ocean!

Then Dr. Lacovara set us loose to go and dig for our very own fossils! We were even allowed to sit and dig in the mud! No worries about getting wet and muddy....we all had a change of clothes back at school.

The best part of the trip was that we could take home all the fossils that we found! How cool is that?!

We are so very fortunate to have Rowan Fossil Park right in our back yard! We are grateful to Rowan University for making this educational experience possible.

Best field trip ever?....Yep!

Sound interesting to you? They hold events open to the public...but sign up for their emails because the slots fill up very quickly! People from all over the world have visited, and plans for expansion are underway. I am not an affiliate, but I have volunteered at the Fossil Park!

Edelman Fossil Park Website

What awesome field trips have you taken?

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!

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