Monday, June 29, 2015

Rock Your First Year of Teaching Linky

I am SO excited to take part in this linky hosted by Teaching With Crayons and Curls and My Mommy Reads

It seems like just yesterday that I was getting my first teaching job, but that was already three years ago! This will be my FOURTH year of teaching. I have taught kindergarten, first grade, and now I'll be venturing into preschool this year! And even though I'm not a first-year teacher anymore, and I feel much more comfortable in the classroom, it's almost like starting over again when you start a new grade for the first time. So I decided to participate in this linky, not only to give advice, but to receive advice as well! I also have a sister-in-law who will be a first-year teacher this year, so hopefully this advice helps her out as well!

1. Take time for yourself: In the midst of all of the planning and decorating for your new classroom, it is important to stop and take a breather. Make sure that you are taking care of yourself, because nothing in the classroom matters if you're not doing well yourself. So make sure to exercise, eat healthy, and get plenty of sleep. Also, take time to read a book (for fun!) or take part in a hobby that you enjoy.

2.  Plan extra: I remember planning for the first day of school, as well as subsequent days, and always trying to make sure that I had enough for the students to do. Especially those first few days/weeks, you want to make sure the students are busy. So, my solution is to over plan. Have a project ready or an extra book to read aloud to the students. Plan in some extra recess time, or other ice breakers for the students to get to know one another. I know in my preschool class this year, our first few days will be spent at various centers because it is something easy to plan for, but also gives me a way to see how the students interact with others, while still teaching them the procedures for using centers correctly. Plus, it's always easier to move a lesson or activity to the next day than to have 30 minutes with nothing to do.

3. Create a sub tub: My first two years of teaching I did not have a sub tub. I was also only absent when I knew in advance, so I had time to plan. However, this past year, I had to take a day off due to my husband going into the emergency room during the night. Needless to say, I didn't make it to school the next day nor did I have time to prepare anything in advance for a sub. So this is where a sub tub came in. I had made it during the first few weeks of school. I put in a book and a graphic organizer, some math worksheets, and a fun science activity. I also had my schedule and routines printed out, so the students and sub would know exactly what to do. I felt so much better knowing that I had that tub the day I was absent! It was worth the peace of mind.

1. Don't try to do everything your first year: Try not to stretch yourself too thin with too many activities right from the start. Also, don't feel like you need to have everything perfect in your classroom. It takes many teachers, myself included, time to find out how they like things and to stock up on supplies and decor for the classroom.

2. Don't be afraid to ask for help: I remember when I first started teaching kindergarten and I had no idea how to start teaching phonics. There were so many opinions out there and I didn't know how the school wanted it to be done. So I went next door and asked for help. I was pointed in the right direction and I felt so much better. When in doubt about something, ask. Find a few teachers, make friends, and then ask them your questions!

Read professional development books: Before I started teaching, a book was recommended to me. It was The First Days of School by Harry Wong. This book had so many ideas for classroom management, running procedures, and finding success in the classroom. I then reread the book after my first year of teaching. I thought this book was very helpful. Not only that, but a few weeks into my first year, I was introduced to The Daily Five by a friend at my school. I bought the book, read it, and started the Daily Five within the week. I was so inspired by the books I read for my own professional development.

Now head back to Teaching with Crayons and Curls or My Mommy Reads to read the rest of the advice in the link-up!

Teaching with Crayons and CurlsMy Mommy Reads


Friday, June 26, 2015

Five for Friday

It's been awhile since I linked up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for their Five for Friday, but I figured I had plenty to say and plenty of time to write about it since it's summer!


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I have been working like crazy to get things printed and laminated for my new class. Moving to a new grade is a lot of work!

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My fish, Bravo, got a clean tank yesterday! Yay!

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I made my first homemade pizza the other day. It was delicious! 

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I bought these Twistables colored pencils while I was home on vacation. Because everyone loves to color! (Here are my adult coloring pages as well).

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I finally started reading this summer. My first novel is Where We Belong by Emily Giffin. I love her writing!

What are you up to this Friday? Link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching here.

Have a great weekend!


Thursday, June 25, 2015


Recently, I was reading a post over at Teach Create Motivate about her DIY curtains. I thought to myself how great it would be to make my own. I already had fabric from last year that I used around my guided reading table. I already had ribbon from a bunting I made for the classroom. All I needed was two tension rods and a bit more ribbon.

I gathered everything together, turned on Friends, and got started!

In about 45 minutes, I had created these!

Here, I put them up against my window to show you what they would look like hanging up.

I can't wait to put these in my room! Thank you, Ashley!

Check out her original post, here.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

My Dollar Tree Finds

I finally made it out to the Dollar Tree (it's not far from where I live, but with summer and all, I get very laaaaazy). Anyways, I knew that I wanted to scope out what they had for back to school. And I always prepare myself to spend some money. It's for the kids, right? Right. So I went in and walked right past the baskets. I thought, there is no way I'll be buying so much that I'll be needing one of those. WRONG. I started out small, with the new tubs and containers. But then, I went down the teaching aisle and I honestly think there is something new there every time I go! So here is everything I bought and my plans for how I will use said items.

So I started with some small orange tubs. I already have some round blue ones (my classroom theme is orange, blue, and gray). I don't have a plan for these yet, but they will most likely be used to hold small items for centers.

Speaking of centers, I found these adorable school erasers! I thought they would be great to use with my back to school roll and cover packet.

 Then, I saw these small dry erase boards. I love that I can get 4 of them for $1! Great price!

Now, I'm not sure if these letters are magnetic or not, but it doesn't really matter. My plans are to use them in a sensory bin with rice. The students can find the letters and give the name or the sound of the letter. I can also put them in a small tub for students to spell sight words. If they are magnetic, I would put them in a word work center with my magnetic whiteboard so students can make words.

Another great item for a sensory bin is these foam numbers. Again, students can search for them in the rice bin and then put the puzzle together. I already have an alphabet foam puzzle (also from the Dollar Tree) that will serve a similar purpose.

I always love finding cute games. The first game is for number matching and the second is for matching shapes and colors, both of which I'll need next year in preschool.

This is a chair cover! I thought this was adorable and a great way to celebrate a student's birthday!

These pom poms will also serve a special purpose in a center.

I saw a couple of fun activities that I thought would be great for reinforcing color recognition skills as well as fine motor skills.

Egg carton colour sorting trays

All of these are on my summer to-do list!

Did you find anything interesting at a dollar store near you? Please share in the comments below!


Monday, June 22, 2015

TPT Seller Challenge #2: Dare to Dream!

I am very excited to link up again for the #TPTSellerChallenge! It is now Week 2: Dare to Dream. This week I am challenged to blog about my great hopes, desires, and dreams for my TPT/blog business.

So here they are: my hopes and dreams!

1. Ever since my husband and I moved away from Illinois, we are always looking for ways to visit home. TPT has provided us with extra money for plane tickets to go home. Not only that, but we have been able to take small mini-vacations on the weekends as well.

2. One of my goals is to stay at home with my future children. My TPT business will definitely help with this dream of mine. It will be nice to earn a little extra on the side, even though I won't be in the classroom teaching.

3. It is also a dream of ours to move into a house within the next few years, and growing my TPT business has a lot to do with that dream as well.

4. I also plan to improve my business. When I first started this journey, I felt like I wasn't making anything because I was buying the Premium Seller account on TPT, paying for blogging school, and purchasing clip art. Now, I want to spend a little bit of money to upgrade my blog. At first, it was very difficult to spend that money because it was going into the unknown. I didn't know if my store would take off, or what the results would be. Now that I have been a Premium Seller for over a year, I believe that the initial investment is so worth it. I only wish I would have done it sooner! Now I plan to buy more clip art and a new blog design to keep improving my business. The more I do these things, the more I can feel my creative juices flowing with new ideas!

What a great topic for the second week of the TPT Seller Challenge! Hopefully it will kickstart me into blogging more {after all, that was my New Year's Resolution! Ha!}.

Thank you again to these ladies for hosting such a great link up:


Friday, June 19, 2015

TPT Seller Challenge #1: Makeover Madness!

I am so excited to participate in the #TPTSellerChallenge this summer! Updating my products was a big goal of mine this summer, and week #1 Makeover Madness came just in time! I was looking back at some of the first products that I made and I cringed. I can't believe that I put some of my products out there! There was missing information, there was incorrect information, and there were some not-so-pretty covers. Needless to say, I had a lot of work to do. I updated quite a few of my products, but will only highlight 3 here. They all go together anyway.

As you can see from the list, there were many things that needed to be changed and I am so glad that I updated it. I finally feel like these products represent me and my creative style. Here are a few more images from the inside of the packet: 

These three packets will be on sale through Sunday, June 21. They will be 50% off! Here is the link to these items!


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Mystery Pictures

I want to share with you one of my favorite activities that I have incorporated into my classroom. Mystery Pictures!! But not just any mystery pictures....addition and subtraction mystery pictures!! I had used the mystery pictures in the past where students color in the number that is given at the top. But when I was teaching end of the year kindergartners and first graders, I knew they needed a little bit more of a challenge. So I took it upon myself to create my own mystery pictures. I even made multiplication ones for those students in higher grades! My goal is to have mystery pictures, in every operation, for all major holidays, seasons, etc. That is one of my big summer projects.

Here are all of the ones I have created thus far. And the best part is....these are all on SALE through Friday, June 19!! Grab them while you can!

Mystery Picture Animals! {11 Addition Pages}
Addition Mystery Picture Holidays! {9 different activities}
Addition Mystery Picture BUNDLE!! {20 different activities}

Fall and Halloween Mystery Picture {9 Addition Pages}
Christmas Math Mystery Picture {Addition}
Christmas Math Mystery Picture {Multiplication}
Mystery Picture Animals {Multiplication}
St. Patrick's Day Mystery Picture {Addition}
St. Patrick's Day Mystery Picture {Multiplication}
Spring Math Mystery Picture {9 Addition Pages}
Spring Math Mystery Picture {Multiplication}
Mystery Picture Year Long Growing Bundle {31 Addition Pages}
And my first of many subtraction packets:

Mystery Picture Animals! {11 Subtraction Pages}

Click on any of the pictures to take you to my TPT store!

And don't forget this FREEBIE which is a great example of what these products are like!

Mystery Picture Freebie