Saturday, February 6, 2016

February Fun Stuff Freebie Updated with Math Brainteasers

Happy February!  That pudgy little marmot didn't see his shadow and we have SUN (and only a skiff of snow on the ground) in MICHIGAN.  It's been a fantastic start to what is typically a brutal month.  Not so this year.  Thank you Mr. Groundhog!
I've been busy updating some of my freebies and just finished adding two new math brainteasers to my February Fun Stuff Freebie.  It also includes a Valentine's Day Make-Your-Own Word Find and a Valentine Candy ABC Brainstorm activity.  I find that second and third graders can talk about candy forever, so the ABC activity, although simple, is always greatly helpful as we celebrate Valentine's Day by inhaling sugar in its various forms.

If you need like the February Fun printables you can download the freebie here.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Super Bowl Football Math Freebie

Once again I've stopped paying attention to football since I have zero chance of winning any money in my Colorado teacher friend football pick 'ems.  I had 2 horrible weeks at the end of the regular season that put me out of the running.  Boo!  Any football information I receive is now from Reality Steve as I religiously read his Bachelor spoilers blog (I even listen to his weekly Thursday Q&A - oh my!) and he tends to comment on sports as a side note.
Even though I'm feeling quite over it, I pay enough attention to know that my kids love talking all things football come January.  If yours are the same and you need a freebie, check out my Super Football Math Freebie.  It's a good challenge to review addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. I've used it successfully with 2nd, 3rd, and 5th graders so hopefully it will meet some of your Super Bowl needs.


Saturday, January 2, 2016

Math Challenge Freebie & Math Contracts - Perfect for Fast Finishers, Extensions, or Homework

If you're looking for a few new math items for after the break, try out my Math Challenges & Brainteasers freebie.  I've used these in my 2nd, 3rd, and 5th grade classrooms for a number of purposes.  
Here are a few ideas for how you might use these in your own classroom:
*Use a challenge or brainteaser as a homework option for students who need a challenge, or let them replace a simple homework assignment with the challenge to show parents how well you’re differentiating.  :)

*Use a math challenge or brainteaser as a “number talk” problem to start out your daily math class. Work through it as a class or let students work in partners or small groups to talk through it and solve it together. 

*Make a pack of challenge problems for advanced students to use as a fast finisher or during certain in-class math lessons where they've already mastered the material.

*Give a challenge or brainteaser to a small group of students as one of their independent math workshop rotations or use them with your advanced small math group rotation.

*Use the problems as an independent practice activity during a unit on problem solving strategies (guess and check, work backwards, etc.) or attacking a multi-step problem. 

*Keep a stack of challenge problems in your classroom fast finisher area for any student who wants a challenge.

*Choose one or two challenge problems for the month and reward any student who can solve both. You can put these on a bulletin board or have them available as additional incentives.
Currently I'm using these as a challenge for my second graders in the form of math contracts.  I have a few super amazing 2nd grade mathematicians who are way ahead of the rest of the class.  They have the option of completing math contract work at any time during our independent math time as a replacement for the assignments given to the rest of the class.  Typically at the beginning of the year I have 6-7 students on math contracts and this dwindles to the few who really enjoy the independent challenges and are willing to work through these multi-step problems.  Usually by the end of the year I have 2-3 die hard math challenge kiddos who have stuck with the contracts all year. 

These are great to show parents at conferences, especially for those parents who want to see how their child is being challenged.  I just print out 5 of the math challenges, add a math contract cover sheet and I'm good to go.  Differentiation Complete!

If you haven't already downloaded the freebie which includes 3 math challenges and brainteasers, hop on over to my store and check it out.  I hope you enjoy!
***If you haven't already entered my New Year Gift Card Giveaway you can enter in the Rafflecopter below or head on over to the original blog post.  I'm giving away a $20 Gift Card to where you can buy a gift card over $20 worth in value.  I love Cardpool!***

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year! Gift Card Giveaway and a Great Option for Unwanted Gift Cards

Happy New Year All!
If anyone has any unwanted gift cards after the holiday season gift card exchange madness, check out a little site called Cardpool.  I discovered Cardpool after receiving a (very generous!) gift card to Pottery Barn.  After I realized I could buy only a small bag of decorative rocks at PB with the gift card I'd been given, I looked into gift card exchanges and found where you can sell as well as buy gift cards at a discounted price.  I quickly exchanged my $100 to Pottery Barn for an $80 Amazon card and bought a killer toaster for our new kitchen.  They make money and I get something I can actually use.  Score!  My 4-slot toaster is way better than a box of rocks or seashells.  :)

I always use this site when giving wedding or birthday gifts instead of choosing a card for the recipient so they can choose one of their own.  I also go through them to buy restaurant gift cards so I can get more bang for my buck.  The hubs and I just bought a $50 Cheesecake Factory card for $40.50.  It's like getting $9.50 for free! (Confession: rather than just saving the money, I bought a slice of lemon raspberry cheesecake which was SO worth the calories!)

You can purchase regular gift cards they will mail to you, or can get e-gift cards which will be e-mailed to you within 1 day (usually within a few hours).  Give yourself a little time on the e-gift cards though.  I ran into a bit of trouble with this during Secret Santa week this year when I waited until midnight to purchase a Barnes & Noble gift card for my Secret Santa recipient.  It didn't arrive until the next morning at 10 am and then I was stuck explaining to my Secret Santa friend.  Luckily she wanted the $20 from Cardpool rather than the $15 we were sworn to stick to.  I technically only spent $15, but she got $20 because of my fancy online gymnastics.  Sweet!

I'm starting off the New Year (Happy 2016!) by running a little gift card giveaway to Cardpool.  Enter in the Rafflecopter below.  The giveaway runs through January 4th - hopefully bringing a little New Year's happiness to a lucky teacher who goes back to work that day.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Happy Holidays!

Now that everyone is actually on break (kudos to you fantastic teachers who taught through Wednesday!), I hope you're all relaxing and enjoying some well deserved time off with family and friends!

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

5 Simple Holiday Student Gift Ideas for the Classroom

Are you freaking out this weekend because you've realized (like me) that unless you have Amazon Prime or pay extra for shipping, anything you need to buy for students will not be getting to you in time for the last day before break and who has time to go to an actual store and wrap 30+ items to make them look cute, plus you have so many other things to do this week anyway . . . like finding a reindeer headband, a tacky sweater, holiday PJs, and red tights for holiday dress up days not to mention Secret Santa, which in a moment of weakness I signed up for.  Gah!
If this is the holiday boat you are in, here are a few simple ideas for student holiday gifts you can make this week and have ready by Friday.  You will need ink, a printer, and a laminator (optional), but hopefully you have full access (or sneaky secret access) to something that prints at your school and don't have to do your own printing at home.  Ink gets expensive!!
Classroom coupons are the easiest FREE print and go option.  Just download the freebie here, edit the options for classroom privileges/rewards, print on cardstock and give to the kiddos.  You don't even need to laminate.  Hooray!  Along with some personalized pencils from For Teachers Only, this is my go-to holiday gift.
Top Ten Lists are FREEpersonalized, easy, and the kids love them.  These are, very simply, a list of 10 things you (or classmates) like about them.  Since you'll need to make one for every student they are more time consuming, but you can knock them out in a night.  Use the editable freebie here and customize one for every student.  If you have time in class you can have other students brainstorm character traits or interview classmates to see what others like about said students, but if you're in a time crunch you can just do these on your own.  Print on cardstock, laminate, give to students.  Holiday gift complete!
Classmate compliments are FREE, don't require color printing or laminating, and give students an extra something to do during that last week before break.  You can even use them as a writing center!  Have students decorate paper bags (we call them RACK sacks - ONE because I find the word "sack" funny, and TWO because it rhymes with RACK/Random Acts of Classroom Kindness) and put them somewhere safe in the room.  Throughout the week students are assigned or can draw names of classmates to write a sincere compliment to.  I have the kids turn these in and pass them out to RACK sacks myself to avoid any weird anonymous compliment mayhem.  At the end of the week students have a number of nice things others have written about them to take home and cherish.  :)  Holiday gift done!  These are included with the freebie above.  If you haven't already downloaded it, click here for the freebie
If you have Amazon Prime or don't mind paying for shipping, these are my cheap go to supply gifts. At my school last year students were in desperate need of school supplies so they received new crayons for Christmas and at the end of the year.  I am also a big fan of buying Composition Notebooks at the Back to School Sales and saving them to give as New Writer's Notebooks for the new year.  I also love the personalized pencil sets from For Teachers Only, but you do have to order those in advance.  If you are going to order them though, make sure you click on their site through Ebates and get cash back.  
I am also a big believer in gifts for the whole class.  A new class game or PE equipment (I love having a few sets of Speed Stacks in the classroom), noise muffling headphones (my students are obsessed with these at the moment), chapter books for the classroom library, new pillows or lamps for your reading corner, or a class picture book are great gifts for the kids and for you.  

I hope one of these gift ideas will work for you if you're in a bind and save you some valuable holiday teacher time.  

We're almost there!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Free Holiday Gift for Students - Editable Holiday Coupons

If you're feeling like a quick, easy, and free gift might be just the thing to give to your students for the holidays, then look no further!  My editable coupon freebie might save you some time, energy and money.
This freebie comes as a PowerPoint file with editable coupons you can customize with classroom privileges or prizes students can redeem after the break. It's easy to use and FREE!  Completed coupons look like the pictures below (with your info on there of course). 
Come on back in the next few weeks for more affordable, memorable, practical, and even a few more free holiday gift ideas for your students.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Fun December Printables Freebie

Hope everyone had a fabulous and relaxing break!

If you're looking to start your December copies tomorrow you can check out my December Holiday Fun Freebie pack that includes four free December printables.

and don't forget the TpT SALE starting tomorrow.  Hooray!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Thanksgiving Freebie-Thank You Grams

Are you like my Colorado teacher friends and have ALL of next week off?!  If so, then this might be too late and I am seriously jealous of you.  If you're like me and still have a few days to go before break then this freebie might be just in time.  

I use Thank You Grams every year just before the break for students to write notes to past teachers and staff members at our school.  I always LOVE finding sweet notes from past students in my mailbox at the end of a long day! 

Two full pages as well as a half page version can be downloaded by clicking on one of the pictures below. 

Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy your break!  We're almost there!!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Veterans Day November Read Aloud

It's November!  Month of falling leaves, chilly mornings, and pumpkin pie!  Hooray!

If you're looking for a fun read aloud for this week (or month) try Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine & a Miracle.  It's perfect for Veterans Day or for a Thanksgiving (so many things to be thankful for) story.  I am a giant sucker for a good animal story and this one has it all!  It's such a fantastic story of friendship, loss, love, and perseverance.      
Here's a video clip of with Brian and Nubs on The Today Show.  At one point Nubs attempts to lick himself, but it's short lived.  :)

Love, love, love Nubs! and hope your kids do too,

Monday, October 26, 2015

Popular Purple Pencil Sharpener

I'm so excited to get a chance to review for The Quietest Classroom Pencil Sharpener in their newest color - Popular Purple! (Doesn't it look beautiful next to its old friend Pinkalicious - which has now lasted 2 school years?)
Quick Review:
I've been a fan of the Quietest Classroom Pencil Sharpener for a few years now and have purchased 9 or more with my own moolah.  I am officially the teacher who purchases the packs of 3 and then fellow teachers come and ask me if I'll give them one for a $20 bill.  Every single one of my teammates who has used the sharpener has loved them as well and I will absolutely buy one every year for my classroom!  So far I've had a green one, two pink ones, three red ones, and now PURPLE.

My favorite thing about it:
My classroom pencils are sharp, I don't have to listen to the horrid noises emitted from the electric sharpener variety, and the kids love using it.

There are lots of great things about this little guy!  It sharpens new pencils quickly and makes them super sharp.  The pencils are so sharp in fact, that my (male) teammate decided to throw a newly sharpened pencil onto the cork-like ceiling tiles to see if it would stick.  It did.

The sharpener is definitely quiet, not like those annoying electric ones.  It is fairly easy to use, although a few of my students did say it took a few tries to master using the sharpener.  They also liked that once the pencil is locked in, you don't have to hold it anymore and are free to hold the sharpener while you turn the crank with the other.  I love that the sharpener comes in many colors and hasn't yet broken.  It has far surpassed any other sharpener I've had in the survival department.  I haven't had much luck with the fastener attachment, but it's no biggie.  Since the pencil locks into the sharpener, even my second graders can stabilize the sharpener while they use it. 9+ sharpeners in and I haven't had one fly off my counter top yet.  :)

Overall, if pencil sharpening has been  an issue you've yet to solve, I would recommend The Quietest Classroom Pencil Sharpener to teachers old and new.  It's gets the job done quickly and quietly and is relatively inexpensive compared to some of the electric sharpeners I've seen ($80 to $100 - yikes!) I also love that these are sold by a teacher!  Overall, the Quietest Classroom Pencil Sharpener has been a great addition to our classroom.

What color is coming next? I'm hoping lime green.  :)

Sunday, October 25, 2015

What Should My Teacher Be For Halloween? Art and Writing Freebie, Now in PowerPoint!

If you need a quick, fun, activity for the week check out my now editable and in PowerPoint "What Should My Teacher Be For Halloween?" Freebie activity.
For the last ever I've had these freebies in Google Docs, but I'm yet to master graphics and fonts in Google Docs and now don't think I ever will.

So now all three versions of this activity are in an editable PowerPoint where no one will need to deal with the ridiculousness that has been this activity in a Google Doc.  Hooray!

Want more pictures and copious blog posts about this activity?  I write about it pretty much every year.  I just think the kids' ideas are so darn cute!  You can check out the links below:
"Draw it Yourself" version - the original
"Man Hands" version - this didn't quite work out how I wanted, maybe with a bigger head? (See how I'm being reflective here?)
"Stick Figure" version - I think these turned out quite nicely, but the "Draw it Yourself" ones are still my fave.

Have a great week of Halloween.  I can't wait to watch scary movies and eat Chinese food all day on Saturday.  Hooray for celebrating in costume on Friday and enjoying the actual day at home!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

October is Here! Halloween Art, Costumes and Read Alouds

Hooray October!  I am a giant Halloween and October in general fan.  If you're as into the month of October as I am or just need some fun October ideas, check out some of these links:

Need a quick Halloween art project?  
Try this What Should my Teacher be for Halloween quick and fun art
or if you need something that will take a little longer you can try doing Mixed up Monsters with your class.  I'm pulling out Mixed up Monsters asap so I can have a cute Halloween door before October slips away.

Need a quick Halloween read aloud so you can chill out for two seconds?  
Try out Storyline Online.  There's a great reading of I Need My Monster read by Rita Moreno that the kids love.  You will need access to YouTube to watch this at school though.  I feel for you if YouTube is blocked by school filters.  I had that issue one year too. I hate it when people who've never taught are in charge of making technology decisions. Boo! (not the Halloween kind of BOO- the THIS IS RIDICULOUS and I'm going to smack someone kind).
Need a quick Halloween teacher costume?
Check out these Super Teacher iron on pattern freebies.  They come in the colors shown above.

Have a little more time to put together a teacher costume or want to dress up like a book character?
Check out this step-by-step Olivia costume.  Plus look at my cute friends dressed as Pinkalicious and Lily from Lily's Purple Plastic Purse.  My awesome teammate just had those to die for yellow cowboy boots in her closet!  
Need an October read aloud?
The Araminta Spookie series is one of my favorites!  Araminta is spunky and quite hilarious (as most of my favorite fictional characters are), plus I just love saying the words "bat sack" which you get to do quite a bit if you read the first book aloud. (It's the little things that make us teachers happy you know).  My second and third graders all loved these books and wanted to continue reading the series after we read the first one together.  You can get it at Amazon here.

Need more ideas for teacher costumes or October ideas?
Hop on over to Pinterest and check out some darling teacher costumes plus an array of amazing October classroom projects and ideas from simple (I can do those!) to way too complex for me (maybe next year - I'll pin them now just in case).

Happy October,
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