Sunday, July 31, 2011

Back to School Sale

     Good new for those of us who have a lot of items on our TPT Wishlists (I have 27- yikes!)  The first newsletter of the new school year is coming out in the morning and there's a 10% off code (B1T1S) for the site's big Back to School Sale which begins tomorrow.  In addition, many sellers are offering up to an extra 20% off, adding up to savings galore!  I'm going to avoid the crowds at the teacher store and the Target dollar spot and shop from home in my jammies in the morning (ahhh... jammies...)
     If you have your eye on anything in my store, everything's an additional 20% off through the 4th - just click on the picture to take a peek.

Carolyn from the Wise Owl Factory was nice enough to do the graphics for the sellers who are offering additional savings.  Click here to see the full list of great stores to check out!

Have a great night!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

My "Golden" Class and Starting from Scratch

     My former principal, Dr. Flanagan, used to say that teachers will get a "golden" class once every 7 years.  The kind of class with kids that are all super responsible, really good to each other, eager to learn and think your jokes are the funniest thing they've ever heard.  You know the kind?  Well, I just had a golden class.  By June they were editing each other's writing, playing peacemaker for their friends, happily chirping, "That's OK, maybe next time!" when they didn't get a turn and giving each other advice like, "Maybe you should clean up those legos before you go play with the cars."  Truly golden!
     Now, I understand that according to Dr. Flanagan's odds, the chances are not in my favor of having another "golden class" this year.  But heck if I'm not going to try!  I'm going to keep my expectations high, arm them with the social and academic tools they need and hope for the best.  It's a little overwhelming to think about the difference between my golden "ready for first-grade" bunch that left me in June and the "we just came from preschool" crew hopping into my classroom in a couple of weeks.  So, I'm gearing up to start from scratch.
     You know the drill for setting up rules, procedures and expectations in the beginning of the year - teach, reteach, teach again - over-teach 'til you're sick of hearing your own voice. With that in mind, I've been working on tweaking my "Good Choices" posters that I made to hang in my room.  I turned them into a book for shared reading, pocket chart cards for a class activity and a cut & paste student sort (teach, reteach, teach again...)  I thought I would share in case you think they might be helpful for your back to school plans.  Wishing you all a "Golden Class!"

Friday, July 29, 2011

Giveaway Winners

Just a quick post to announce the giveaway winners.  I'm headed to the vet for a follow-up visit because of some dicey lab results.  Keep your fingers crossed for my sweet Beagle, Sally.  The five winners are pictured below.  If your comment was chosen, send me a quick email ( and tell me which 5 items you'd like from my TPT store.  Congrats!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I'll Meet You at the Top of the Coconut Tree

     I faced reality today and acknowledged that summer is going to be wrapping up soon and it's time to start thinking about the first few weeks of school.  Like many kindergarten teachers, I like to use Chicka Chicka Boom Boom as a springboard for beginning of the year activities.  It's a book most kids are familiar with, the illustrations are engaging and the rhyme and repetition make it perfect for shared reading.  I've done a gazillion of the favorite activities floating around out there - alphabet matching, counting coconuts, decorating giant letters with band-aids - and I've noticed that the kids always love the band-aid activities.  (What 5 year old doesn't love band-aids?)  So, I came up with this short little book to use for shared reading.  A handful of letters each show their band-aids after their fall from the tree. "P has a band-aid on its foot."  After the shared reading, the kids can make their own version, coloring in the letters and putting real band-aids on them.  They LOVE this! (There's a little picture clue to remind them where each letter needs its band-aid.)  The teeny tiny band-aids are perfect for this project - you'll need 6 for each child.  If you're planning on starting the year with Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and you think that your class might like this book, click below the pisture for a copy of the full-color shared reading version and the black/white student version.  What are some of your favorite Chicka Chicka activities?

Don't forget to enter my "Blog-iversary" Giveaway.  The winners will be chosen tomorrow at midnight.  Enjoy!

Let there be light!

Good Morning!
     The sun is shining and my power is back on - hooray!  We had horrible storms here last night which left me with a terrified puppy and a fridge full of spoiled food (which I am totally avoiding by doing this instead.) The silver lining is that it cooled things off and gave me a good reason to crawl into bed early and snuggle with my petrified pooch.

     I thought you might these practice cards, I use them to introduce and reinforce the concept of one to one correspondence.  The kids simply point under each picture and “read” it, moving across the row.  They’re especially helpful for kids who point to a new word for each spoken syllable. (You know, the ones who point to three separate words when the say umbrella and then run out of words on the page) The cards reinforce that they should point once for each word they say.  I photocopy the cards onto cardstock, punch holes on the left side and then slip them onto a binder ring.  They’re great for a warm-up activity for beginning of the year guided groups.  Some cards have all one syllable words, some have all  two syllable words and the trickiest have a mix of 1, 2 and 3 syllable words.  Enjoy - I hope you can use them. Off to clean out the fridge...

Monday, July 25, 2011

Pete the Cat at Dollar Tree & Today's Freebie

    After reading so many blog posts about "Brain Bubbles," I decided that I absolutely have to make some for my classroom this year.  How I'm going to make them kindergarten-friendly is dilemma for another day...  So, I headed to Dollar Tree this morning to get the infamous 10-packs of plastic "bubble" containers that I'm going to need to start the project. I've also read a lot about the teacher section, so I was excited to check that out as well. (Boy, blog hopping is expensive inspiring!) Well, I found the containers. (Actually, the incredibly helpful manager found them. In the back room. In the fifth box he tried. At the bottom. Thanks, Mike!)  I was embarrassingly exuberant (I stopped short of hugging him) when he came out with them, but what really had the Dollar Tree employees looking at me like I was a nutball was when I all but shrieked when I saw this bulletin board border:
Could it be any more perfect for Pete the Cat!?!
     Sadly, they only had one pack and the strips are short and I don't think they will go all the way around my bulletin board. I'll have to hit up another Dollar Tree for some more 'cause the cuteness is just too much!  If I can find enough, I'm going to get an extra pack to cut apart into cards for a Pete the Cat Pat matching game or a "making patterns" center.
     On to today's emergent reader.  This one steps it up a notch with three word phrases and introduces color words. I usually display a color chart on the SmartBoard when the kids are working on the mini-books so they have a reference to help them with the color words. (The clever ones will realize they can look on the wrappers of their crayons, but that's a little tricky.)  Don't forget to enter the Blogi-versary Giveaway if you haven't yet. Enjoy!

Another Blog-iversary Freebie

     Thanks for all the great emails and comments about yesterday's emergent reader freebie.  I'm glad you like the little pointing fingers under the text.  I find it really helps establish the concept of  a word as a unit.  Once we really get down to business, I use these creepy Martian Fingers from Oriental Trading Company and the kids love them!
     Here's today's emergent reader.  I hope you enjoy it!  Don't forget to enter my Giveaway for a chance to be one of 5 winners who will each win any five items from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  (Go to the original post to enter!)  Have a great night!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Who Doesn't Love Shoes?

Last chance to pop over to Another Day in First Grade to get Mrs. Tabb's free Shoe Unit - too cute!

A "Blog-iversary" Celebration - Giveaway & Freebies

     With my 1 month "blog-iversary" just 5 days away, I'm having a giveaway to thank everyone for all you've given me over the past month. (See yesterday's post for my slightly sappy ramblings.) I also just hit 500 followers - WooHoo - so I 'm going to celebrate the milestone with 5 freebies - 1 a day for the next 5 days. (With all these 5's floating around I should play 555 in the Lotto...) So here are the details:
     5 winners will each win any 5 items from my TPT store. (I figured I might as well stick with the "5" theme I seem to have goin' on here.)  I have a lot of cute Back-to-School stuff posted so I think everyone can find something useful, even if you're not a kindergarten teacher. I'll pick the winners on Thursday. To enter, leave a separate comment for any/all of the following:
       1. You follow my blog
       2. You follow my TPT store
       3. You blogged about this "Blog-iversary" Celebration
    It's so tricky to find books to put in the hands of our kids in the beginning of kindergarten. Many of them have limited literacy skills but I really want them to feel successful as readers right away. Since there's really not a lot out there that floats my boat (Ask anyone who knows me - I'm so freakin' picky...) I've been making my own series of emergent readers to use during the first couple of months of school.  They are SO basic that kids of almost any skill level can "read" them. Each title has a large, full-color shared reading version and a smaller b&w student version for the kids to put in their book boxes. (There's nothing quite like that "OMG! I can read every book in my book box!" smile.) With beginning sight words and picture clues to use their "reading fingers", they are a great way to introduce independent reading and Readers' Workshop routines and I thought I would offer them to you as a "thank-you."  There will be one a day until my "Blog-iversary" on Thursday, so get them while you can! Here's the first one - just click below the picture.  I hope you can use it!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Down the Rabbit Hole, Alice! Giveaway & Freebies

     Although I consider myself to be pretty computer savvy, I've just recently joined the "Land of Teaching Blogs." (Sounds like something from Alice in Wonderland.) This past spring I started a classroom blog - mostly because I was spending WAY too much money printing my photo newsletters at home.  As expected, posting updates, pictures and classroom happenings on the blog was faster, easier and cheaper than the "old-school" way.  What was unexpected however, was how much I enjoyed it.  As I "blog-hopped" to get some set-up tips and tricks, I was fascinated by all of the amazing teaching blogs I discovered.  What a "Wonderland" filled with talented and creative teachers - I had no idea!

     Well, I was inspired to join this newly found cyber-community so I made it my summer project to create my own teaching blog. (Down the rabbit hole, Alice!)  Once "Peace, Love & Learning" was up and running, I began to really see what a supportive and generous kinship there is amongst blogging teachers.  The generosity, creativity, collaboration and encouragement is astounding! I've been teaching for a little while now and have lately been feeling the need to dust off some of my old tricks and find some new ones.  I LOVE teaching and I think I'm pretty good at it, but I think I was in need of a little rejuvenation. Mission accomplished!  By allowing me to peek inside your classrooms, borrow some of your ideas (Smellies? Who knew?) and benefit from your experiences, you have truly inspired me to be a better teacher.

     So, as I head into the new school year armed with my Target pocket charts, stash of Lip Smackers and a copy of "Pete the Cat", I want to say thanks. Thanks for sharing your brilliance, for supporting a "newbie" blogger and most importantly for rekindling my spark. You guys rock! Really. . .

     Check back in tomorrow for some great freebies and my first giveaway in honor of my one month "Blog-iversary!"

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Less Scary CCSS Part 2 - 1st & 2nd Grade

Hi Gang!
     I'm so glad everyone enjoyed the Kindergarten CCSS guide I posted earlier in the week - thanks for all the emails and comments.  I hope it makes everyone's life a little easier!  I got a bunch of emails requesting 1st and 2nd Grade versions and since I am currently holed up in the one room of my house with an air conditioner (holy heat, huh?!?) and it happens to be my computer room, I decided to go for it.  Like the kindergarten version, they're "user-friendly" and can be used either as a teacher resource or a parent handout.  Click the pictures to find them.  Stay cool!

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Less Scary Common Core

     I've seen some blog posts popping up about the Common Core State Standards and there seems to be a mixed bag of feelings about them.  I've become pretty familiar with them as part of a curriculum committee and I agree that they can be a little intimidating at first glance. Once you get to the bare bones however, I think the standards will really help teachers focus on what students need and ensure that they are challenged. Earlier today, Marlana over at Lil' Country Kindergarten was looking for a basic list of kindergarten standards without all the padding and background information.  I have a version that I created to hand out to parents after a bevy of questions about the standards (I thought I would hand it out at Open House.)  I'm going to send over to her, and I thought some of you might like it too.  I made it "kindergarten-y" in the hopes that it would inform parents without scaring them to death.  If you think you could use it as a parent handout or just as a resource for yourself, help yourself to a copy.  Have a great night!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Back to School with Miss Bindergarten

     Every summer I have such grand plans - I'm going to clean out my garage, plant new shrubs, finish that new unit for school...  Then, all of the sudden, it's August and nothing is ticked off my list.  (I know you know what I mean!)  But this summer will be different. Really. I mean it.  Well, I still can't get into my garage and the yard is barren but I finally finished my "Back to School with Miss Bindergarten" unit.   The unit has over 80 pages and combines math and literacy and is a great way to introduce teamwork, whole group games, and center activities.  I just posted it at TPT store and  if you grab it tomorrow  in the Christmas in July sale, you'll get 20% off.  Click below the picture for a preview of what's included!

Merry Christmas (in July!)

     It's here!  The big sale that everyone in "Teacher-Blog Land" has been buzzing about starts at midnight tonight.  Everything in my store is 20% off!  Just click on the image above to take a peek.  As an additional "Thank You" to all the great followers I have, if you buy 5 or more items from my store, you can choose any item from my store that's $3.00 or under as a Christmas present from me.  Just post a comment with your TPT name, your email and the product you'd like and I'll send it to you right away.  Be sure to check the links below to see what all 34 sellers have on sale.  Happy Shopping!