Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Teaching Tip Linky Party

Well awhile back (actually two weeks) I saw a Teaching Tip Linky Party all about providing teaching tips. I thought this was a great idea and planned to link up later in the week and then completely forgot about it.  Tonight I finally remembered, and I know I'm late to the game, but I thought I would link up anyways with Miss Kindergarten (what a fun blog name!). Now since I have been a teacher for only a short while, I feel a bit silly giving out tips but I guess I'll give it a try. I feel like as I get more experience, I see what does work and what definitely does not work and I learn a lot of this (mostly good) by observing more senior teachers. I have not had time to read through all the teaching tip links so I'm not sure if it's been mentioned, and I fully realize that this tip is not original by I still feel like it deserves mention. So here goes. My wonderous, mind-blowing tip is . . .

Have a class website.

I am in no ways a tech expert but I have seen how beneficial this can be for students, parents, and teachers.

I feel like I am in a point form mood, so that's how the rest of this post is going to go.


1) Students are able to take responsibility for their learning. They can no longer go home and say they don't know if they have homework, if there is something due the next day, etc. because they can be sent to the computer to check those things.

2) Busy parents can keep up to date on the classroom happenings on their own schedule.

3) Busy teachers can refer students/parents to the website for basic classroom happenings.


1) Basic classroom schedule (important especially if this changes from day to day).
2) Homework/Assignments.
3) Upcoming Field Trips/Special Events + any important information about them.
4) Contact information for the teacher and school.

Obviously classroom websites can be anything from basic to complicated, with fantastic daily updates of classroom happenings, but the important thing is to KEEP THEM UPDATED. I am sure there is nothing more frustrating for a parent/student to check for updates and find a site that is weeks (or months) out of date.

So that is my fantastic, mind-blowing, never-before-heard teaching tip for the day. I look forward to reading all the other teaching tips and learning some new stuff!

Friday, 23 November 2012

A New Unit and a Sale

Well now that (American) Thanksgiving is over it is just a straight line into Christmas. Thankfully I feel like I am finally, slightly ahead of schedule with the creation of my new Christmas-themed Math unit which contains 10 Math Centers for primary students. These centers follow closely to the 2nd grade Common Core Standards and are best suited for 2nd and 3rd grade students. Click the picture or HERE if you would like to check this unit out.

I think I mentioned this before, but I just get so excited over the holidays. I feel like it makes an exciting environment in the classroom and makes normal tasks seem extra special. For this new unit, I tried to incorporate fun elements, of course involving Santa, his reindeer, elves, presents and candy, while still aligning the activities to the Common Core Standards to make the activities worthwhile and beneficial.

I am also just in time for the huge sale that will be going on this weekend at Teachers Pay Teachers! If you intend to do any shopping, make sure you do it on Monday and Tuesday (November 26th & 27th) during the Cyber Monday + Bonus Tuesday Sale in which a ton of TPT sellers (including myself) will be participating. Make sure to use the Promo Code: CMT12 to get up to 28% off!

Check out Blog Hoppin'

or The 3am Teacher to see other sellers/bloggers participating in the sale!

If you're looking for other winter units/ideas, I've also got my Winter Daily Math for 3rd and 4th grade students up in my store, click the pictures to check those out too:

As December quickly nears, I would love to hear what will be happening in your classrooms!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Giving Thanks to Teachers Giveaway

I know I am late to the game, as this started yesterday, but I couldn't resisting posting about this fantastic giveaway that Charity Preston is hosting. Each day from November 17th to November 25th, freebies will be provided by a number of participating blogs. Such a fantastic idea, make sure to go check it out!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Here Come the Holidays

Well am I the only one surprised that it is November already? The months keep flying and the holidays keep coming. I believe the last time I posted it wasn't even Halloween, though I was counting down the days, and now here it is, almost Thanksgiving (well, American Thanksgiving). I've been so busy creating new units, but I always seem to fall behind. I've got a new Thanksgiving math unit for primary students. Click on the picture to check it out:

I have also been meaning to make a similar unit for intermediate students, as well as a literacy unit, but the time has really gotten away from me.

I must have been really busy lately because I just looked at my Thanksgiving Pinterest board, and I only have ten pins! I wanted to have something turkey-ish to share, so I guess this bulletin board picture from Pinterest will have to do:
Via Striving To Be Bold
I always love meaningful bulletin boards and this would look fantastic, while tying in the holidays.

I have a ton on my to-do list, but I am really hoping to update some of my freebies (especially my Place Value Mystery Number Cards) as well as begin offering them on Google Docs, as I know not everyone can access them on TPT.

Here's hoping I'll have something worthwhile to share before Christmas!

Monday, 22 October 2012

Here comes Halloween!

Well I have had Halloween on the brain since September but now I suddenly feel that it is coming on too fast and it will be over before I know it. I think I am finally ready though.

I have my Halloween unit ready to go:

Plus two Halloween word problem units (one for primary, one for intermediate):

And I just got this new (though I fully realize it is far from new, it is still new to me) book (+ CD) in the mail:
via Amazon
I also have an Art project to share, though I don't have pictures from when I did it (though I probably do on some camera somewhere . . .):
Photo via A Faithful Attempt
All students have to draw is trace a picture in pencil on black construction paper. Go over pencil line with white glue and let dry overnight. Students can then use pastels to colour between the glue lines. These look best when completely coloured in pastel, with only the glue lines showing.

I have seen so much pumpkin art lately and it just seems to be getting cuter and cuter!

Hope everyone had a great Monday!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Just Journal Writing

I don't know how well this post is going to go (though it does have a point) because I am exhausted (tomorrow is Friday, right?) and have a million things running through my brain.

The topic I had planned to write about today is Journal Writing. I have two reasons for this.
1. I have a new unit that I want to share
2. I am really curious how other teachers handle journals in their class.

I am a big fan of a once a week (usually Monday morning-ish) journal writing. I like Mondays because hopefully the students have done something over the weekend that they can discuss. What I don't like is when I hear "I did nothing." or "I have nothing to write about." Usually I'll say something like, "Then tell me what you ate for dinner, tell me what TV show you watched." etc. because I really want the students to just start writing. I fully realize that writing can be hard and writing with no inspiration can be extremely difficult, but I also think that it gets easier if you just START WRITING!

To help with students who have no idea where to begin (especially in younger grades), I like to provide prompts or sentence starters. So this is where my new unit came in. I created 40+ Journal Prompts for beginning writers (1st & 2nd Grade). I created both general and seasonal/holiday prompts with writing paper in the hopes that it would help beginning writers get the grasp of writing by providing them with a starting off point. Click the picture if you'd like to check out the unit:

So how to you incorporate journals in the classroom? Would love to hear any ideas or suggestions.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Art is Important (and a Haunted House)

I had an epiphany today. Art IS important. I have never been an artsy, creative type and in all honesty I probably dreaded Art in school. This attitude has slightly inserted itself into my teaching attitude, though I don't let it show (I hope!) to students. I've realized though, that my attitude probably stems from my lack of artistic skills. You see, I really, really, really want to be a good artist, but I just can't seem to get it together. Whenever I have to draw in front of the class, my doodles always turn out as stick people or stick animals and I have to explain what I am drawing. For some reason though, today everything clicked and I realized that Art is important. And I don't mean cookie cutter, boring art. I mean really teaching students about different art styles, techniques, and materials. Kids need to grow as artists, otherwise they are going to be adults doing the same doodles that I try to pass of as people and animals.

A second thought - I also LOVE it when an idea or project ties together multiple subjects (hello cross-curricular!). Since it's October - and I have Halloween on the brain - I am reminded of a lesson I reviewed for my Art course in university, but have not yet had the option to try. I would love to credit the idea but I have no idea which Art journal I got it from. The lesson ties together art, language arts, and today I thought of a way to incorporate math.

Photo via Creative Juices

The project would work best for older elementary school and lasts about a week or two. At the beginning of each Art period, teachers begin by turning off the lights and reading scary stories about haunted houses (I would have loved this as a student!). The students then use pieces of cardboard to construct their own haunted houses. As the days progress, students add details (shutters, doors, fence, ghosts, pumpkins, whatever) and on the final day, the houses get spray painted black or gray to complete the haunted house formation. Just stopping here, I think the houses would make a fantastic hallway display. Students can then write stories about their haunted house, and post those alongside their haunted house display. To incorporate math, I would have students measure the height, square footage, etc. of their house and find out who constructed the tallest house, the biggest house, etc. Not only do I think this lesson sounds fun (AND gets me excited about Art) but it incorporates 3 different subjects and great skills.

So this may be the direction I need to go in the future. More Art projects that incorporate other subjects and get ME excited about the Art, so I can pass that onto the students. After all, Art is Important.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

October Books: "Book of the Month" Blog Hop

Who doesn't love a good holiday/theme/seasonal book? For some reason, it always seems so exciting to have those books that you only pull out at a certain time of year. Well I was just thinking that I needed to find some more October/Halloween books and then I happened upon 1..2..3.. Teach With Me's blog hop for books for the month of October, how perfect? I've already found some books that I'll have to check out.

So here is my October/Halloween book list:

All images via Amazon

1. Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman - A cute little Halloween story about a big pumpkin and all the Halloween creatures you need - witches, bats, vampires, mummies, you name it.

2. Halloween Night by Marjorie Dennis Murray - This is a new purchase for me. It is set to the tune of The Night Before Christmas and thus is great for rhyming.

3. Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich by Adam Rex - Another new purchase for me. It has a bunch of short stories/poems with a Halloween/monster theme.

4. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz - These are perfect for older students and hold a special place in my heart because I remember reading them in elementary school!

Do you have October favourites? Go link up with Tammy to list yours!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Fonts, Freebies, and Fun Halloween

Well this post has an agenda, so here we go.


I get the cutest scrapbooking fonts at Free Scrapbook Fonts! kevinandamanda.com/fonts

When I first started blogging/making more of my own products I would always see so many cute fonts and I had no idea where to find them so I always used old reliables (Times New Roman and Comic Sans - I would emphasize those by putting the words in the fonts I'm talking about but, well, I don't know how to do that). Then, I can't remember how it happened but I found kevinandamanda.com and between their Fonts for Peas and their Scrapbook Font, well I had found EVERYTHING I needed font-wise. They are 100% still my go-to fonts, I use them in everything I make and because there are so many fonts, I am always finding new favourites. If you have not checked out their fonts, you MUST!

Graphics From the Pond

I've also recently found that Graphics From the Pond has been giving away free fonts, just check out the Free Fonts button on the website sidebar.

Rowdy in Room 300

Finally, I recently found out about a set of free fonts provided by Rowdy in Room 300. They are so cute I have already used them in my new Halloween unit (more about that later).


I recently blogged about my Mystery Number Card Freebies and after some requests I added two new sets, 2-digit and 5-, 6-, & 7-digit numbers. Check them out if you're interested.


Finally, since it's almost October all I have been thinking about is Halloween. I finally finished my Halloween unit, which contains fun printables, Halloween-themed math, and writing prompts. Click on the picture if you're interested.

I think that's all I have to say for now, didn't the teacher in you just love the alliteration in the title? Have a great week, October will be here soon!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Here Comes Fall

Well I did not realize that after only a week back at school I would be so exhausted. I thought I was going to need a nap this afternoon!
As the nights and mornings get darker and the day gets shorter it is definitely beginning to feel like Fall and thus a question enters my mind - when can I start talking about Halloween? I always love incorporating any holidays/special times into the classroom to keep the kids (and myself) engaged, but is September too early for Halloween? Don't answer that, I already know the answer - yes (YES), it is too early (well in my opinion). I think I'll have to wait until the second week of October (or so). In the meantime I will continue working on my Halloween unit, which I hope to have up on TPT soon (well when I'm not napping).
Following the Fall theme of this post, I just saw the cutest Fall art project on Pinterest:

It kind of follows a pointillist idea, like I talked about HERE and I think it would be a good project for getting students to focus and take their time.

Is the weekend here yet?

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Back to School Books

Well I can never resist anything book related so I have decided to join up with Blog Hoppin' for the "Back to School Books Linky Party and Giveaway!" School has still not started for me, but I only have a few more glorious summer days before it is back into the classroom. I know there are a million fantastic books I could have chosen, but I decided to narrow it down to 3:


I was actually introduced to this book at the end of last year, and I read it to a Grade One class who absolutely LOVED it and requested it over and over. It goes with the ides of excitement and also patience, which are important to cover on the first day.


Along with excitement, I think the first day should also touch on the worries that most students (and teachers!) are probably feeling. I think this is a classic book to open up that discussion for students.


To finish off the list, a little humor. This book opens up a discussion about classroom rules, and does so in a humorous way for students.

So there are my 3 Back to School book picks, what are yours? Link up with Blog Hoppin' and you could win $50 from The Clever School Teacher (which ,if you do not know, is a fabulous online store where you can buy booksets to coincide with author studies, comprehension strategies, writing traits etc.).

Here's to the last few days of summer!

Saturday, 25 August 2012

A Little Freebie

Well it feels like just yesterday I was counting down the days until Summer and now here I am, one of the lucky few, counting down the days until school starts once again. The weather is still quite nice here, so it doesn't quite feel like school should be starting in just over a week. I don't know how much work I would ever get done if I worked in a warmer climate!

I was working on some new units the other day and suddenly I had a new idea pop into my head. I had to stop what I was doing right then and made up this freebie to share. I love the idea of making basic skills (such as place value) fun in any way possible and for some reason, I always think adding the idea of mystery makes things a little more fun. So here are my "Place Value Mystery Number Cards." These can be used in an independent math center, or as a quick assessment. I am always for any kind of formative assessment and these can be used as just that. Give each student a card and an assessment ticket, and get a quick idea of which students need some help with the concept of place value.

Click here to go check out this freebie.
Hope everyone is having a great start to the year!

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Huge Sale!

Thanks to Amy for making the graphic

That's right, I'm having a sale! I will be joining in with a gazillion other TPT sellers for the "Back to School" Sale. Everything in my store will be 20% off. Make sure to use the Promo Code: BTS12 to get an additional 10% off your purchases. Some to the Back to School items you will find in my store include the following:

Back to School Daily Math for Third and Fourth Grade:

Back to School Units for Primary and Intermediate:

Make sure to head over to Blog Hoppin' to check out other sellers who are joining the sale!