Monday, March 13, 2017

What'cha Workin' On?

Hey everyone!

As you can see, the blog has had it's "redesign" and I'm still working on making it match my store and Facebook so you might see some changes there too.

In the mean time, I wanted to give you a little update on what I've been working on:

One of my latest projects (posted) was the Plant Life Cycle products and bundle including my own personal set up for growing plants in your classroom without having to buy one of the expensive "plant kits."  Thanks to some items around your house (or the dollar store...or Amazon) it can be pretty simple.  I've included links to help if you want to purchase items (including the seeds) from Amazon.  However, the items are simple and cheap and you might already have them in your closet at school!

I also wanted to let you know that after many requests I will be working on the 5th grade version of my Common Core Math series.  It will include presentations, assessments, activities, interactive notebooks, and vocabulary just like my 4th grade products.

Also, be sure to follow me on Facebook because I'm hoping to do another giveaway to celebrate hitting 1,100 followers on TpT!   Stay tuned, because I'm planning a lot more blogging, and that means more fun and giveaways!

Thanks again for visiting...cheers!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Recognizing Every Student

 I just want to put it out there...I'm not one of those "participation trophy" people.  I feel like there is so much intrinsic value in things like team sports, extracurricular activities, and music lessons.  I just think the experience is enough in itself!  However, in our classrooms, we are with these children for the better part of nine months of the year.  You learn a lot about them, they learn a lot about you, and they learn a lot about each other and who they really are.

There is an increasing push to "recognize" all students at the end of the year, and I can understand this.  Especially when they aren't on the honor roll, and caught the flu (so no perfect attendance there) but their parents took time off work to come to your class "end of the year" celebration/ceremony.

We always had a grade level awards day, usually together as a grade level in the cafeteria or other large area.  Then, we would head back to our individual classrooms to give out other awards that we didn't have time for as a grade level.  These were things like participating in Student Council, being a part of the Garden Club, etc...  But, these kids have been a community for a year, you've been a family...why not recognize things that we see as strengths in each other?

My first year teaching I toyed with the idea of superlatives.  I was going to let my kids vote, but I also wanted to recognize the kids myself.  So, I came to a compromise.  I'd let the kids vote (because that means a lot to them), but I also would stop before each award and talk about the student for a minute.  A little brag time, if you will.

I made it fun by not revealing who it was until the end.  For example, I might say something like, "Wow, this student amazes me on a daily basis.  They are always looking to help others, to push in a chair for someone, or to pick up a dropped pencil.  This student is always asking for ways they can help me around the classroom as well.  They exemplify what it means to be a good, Garrett, you are our "Helping Hands." (and I'd have them come down, give them a hug, and give them the award.

That little snippet, that little tid-bit about what that students means to you and to the rest of the room really means a lot to that kid.  It also means a lot to their parents who took time off of work to come to your celebration. I find this especially true for parents who sit through the entire grade level awards ceremony knowing that their child isn't getting honor roll or perfect attendance.  They are simply there to support their child, to lift them up for completing another year of school, and you just made their day by taking just 45 seconds to point out something great about their kid.

So, as the year is winding down, think about how you can recognize something great in each of your students.  Whether you choose the reason for recognition or you allow the students to.

You can make up your own awards, but if you do need a place to start, I have some superlative awards that are editable with a voting sheet for your kiddos.

No matter how you decide to recognize your kiddos this year, they will appreciate it so much!

Best of luck as you begin to wind down the year!  (At least my Northern Hemisphere friends!)

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Using Animal Webcams in the Classroom

...I'm back!  Again.

Seriously, I was having blog issues with my background and didn't want to do anything until I fixed them.  It has been an issue since the holidays and I finally figured out the problem, so thank you for staying with me!

Last year I did a similar post, but I wanted to remind everyone that it is the season of awesome live webcams! Also, I have extra links to even MORE cams.  There are such a variety out there now that I wanted to post again to share with you the awesome live cams that I found. In science, it isn't often that our students get to study and observe real live animals, and some animals are just not feasible to observe in real life.

One example are birds because getting a bird box and installing a web cam on it isn't cheap, and sometimes just isn't feasible depending on where you live. This is a great time of year to watch birds via live web cams and use those for your students to make observations.  Once we used one of the eagle web cams for this, and holy would have thought we were watching the winning touch down of the Super Bowl as one of the eggs began to hatch right in front of the kids.  Everyday they came in asking if we could watch a little more.  "What about during snack time?" they would ask.  "Could we watch while we pack up?"

Kids love watching animals, and they start to feel an all-too-important connection with nature at this age.  Want them to care about not throwing litter on the ground?  Show them a turtle who has stuck his head through one of those plastic soda holders.  I saw that as a kid and everytime we threw one in the trash, I got the scissors out and cut those bad boys in pieces.

These animal observations are easy, and you can choose how many you would like the students to do, or over what time period you want them to complete them in.  Also, if you do have a class that all have access at home, they could even do some extra observations at home.

There are many, many webcams to choose from, and some aquariums and zoos have them all year long.  Here are some of my favorite web cams that I have viewed.  (***Disclaimer, you never know what ads will be on the site, so I always preview the sites, and even make the video full screen when possible to be sure nothing unsavory pops up, just like with YouTube videos!)

Hanover, PA Eagle Nest Cam - Eagle web cam, even includes an IR (infrared)  camera with a second viewpoint.  There are is one chick hatched as I type this, and another egg that should hatch soon! (3/29/16)

Cornell Labs Live Bird Cams - Cornell Labs has a TON of bird cams for you to view.  My favorites are the Barred Owls (she's on three eggs right now!) and the Great Horned Owls, but there are a ton to choose from, even a live cam on a bird feeder!

Explore Live Cams - This site has everything from orcas to polar bears to eagles!  There is even an underwater cam that students can watch.  The hummingbird cam is also very cool, and students will love seeing what their nest looks like!  I also really like that it tells students the local time, location, and temperature of each cam.  This is also a great way for students to study biomes/habitats.  (the link automatically goes to their eagle cam, but click "Live Cams" and see the selection)

Mangolink Cams - This site has a huge variety!  You can even choose if you want the cam to be in the wild or in captivity.  They have them grouped by type of animals (mammals, birds, etc...) and whether it is in the wild or not, then you choose the specific animal you want from the list.  Very cool, and again, GREAT for habitats/biome study as well!

Well, I sure hope this list got you started on ideas for using web cams in your science lessons.  I wanted to be sure to remind you that I have a free product in my store with observation sheets for using animal cams in your classroom here.

I hope you and your students enjoy the web cams as much as my classes and I have!


Sunday, December 13, 2015

Easy, Inexpensive, but Thoughtful "Teaching Team" Gifts

This time of year things are just a tad bit crazy at school (and at home!)  There is so much going on, and you are hoping that your Winter Break shows up before you run out of energy!

It's also the season of giving, and so many of us have a checklist of things we need to buy or do before our break gets here.  There were many years where I really wanted to give my grade level team a little gift, but because of lack of time and money, it just didn't happen.

So, I wanted to share with you a very easy and inexpensive gift you can make for your grade level team, special co-workers at school, neighbors, or friends and family! 

The reason I like this gift is that it is perfect for teachers (because teachers are on their feet all day), it is easy to find what you need to make it, and anyone can use it (unless they are allergic to peppermint!)  Also, I've made bag toppers if you want to put it in a zipper bag (Ziploc).  I normally put mine in jars, but hey, use what you have or is easily attained! 

I have FREE jar lid labels/bag toppers in my Teachers Pay Teachers store here.

Here is my "recipe" for Peppermint Foot Soak:

2 cups sea salt (I like the fine one instead of coarse, but either will work!)*
2 cups Epsom salt
1 cup baking soda
2-3 teaspoons olive oil (or grapeseed, sunflower, or other similar oil)
2 - 3 tea bags of peppermint tea or 1/8 - 1/4 C of dried peppermint leaves (some health stores have them!)
6-8 teaspoons of peppermint extract (or 15 - 20 drops peppermint essential oil)

*You can use Kosher salt instead of the sea salt if needed!

Supplies Needed:
large mixing bowl
large spoon for mixing
jars or small zipper bags

Step 1:  In a large mixing bowl pour in your sea salt, Epsom salt, and baking soda.  Be sure to mix them thoroughly.

Step 2: Next, add in the oil and peppermint extract, stirring to mix and breaking up any clumps that you see.

Step 3:  Add in the peppermint tea bags one by one and mix.  Use your judgment on how much to put in, 2 or 3 should be plenty!

Step 4:  Before placing your foot soak into jars/bags, smell the
results.  If you feel the peppermint smell is too weak, you can add in more extract (maybe a quarter teaspoon at a time), or more tea!  If your mixture is clumping for any reason, add in more baking soda and salt.  Another fix it to add in a little corn starch, a quarter cup at a time, as needed until it isn’t clumping!

Step 5: Finally, use a measuring cup or large spoon to scoop the mixture into your air-tight container of choice.  Keep in mind that it takes about 6 heaping tablespoons for each foot soak!  Decorate, or simply attach a gift tag, and that’s it!

I sure hope you can make some of this as gifts this year!  If not, be sure to save it for later and download the free jar lid labels and bag topper here!  It is a great gift any time of the year, because our we are always on our feet!


Sunday, November 29, 2015

I'm back! TpT Sale and Freebie!

My apologies for having been absent recently!  A lot has gone on since the beginning of September including buying a new house, starting a new part time job, family illness, and a two week trip to Chile!  

Now with the holidays getting ramped up, I wanted to touch base with you and let you know that I am here!  Since we're back from the trip and Thanksgiving is over, I feel like I have time to breathe.  So, no worries!

I wanted to let you know about the TpT Cyber Sale going on Monday and Tuesday of this week!  Be sure to check out the site.  My store will be on sale, and the entire site is marked down for up to 28% off total!  So be sure to check that wish list twice, I know I'll be busy filling my cart...

I also wanted to be sure you saw my new Christmas Logic Puzzle freebie!  It's in celebration of the sale and hitting 800 followers, so be sure to grab it.  It is a great activity as a morning work, Christmas party activity, group work, or a center!  You can find it by clicking HERE or the picture above.

A Happy (belated) Thanksgiving, and happy shopping!



Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Saving the Macaws - Fund Raiser Bundle Deals!

If you have been following me on Facebook, in the forums (if you're a seller), or on here, you know that I have a passion for wildlife, and especially birds!  Right now (September - October 31st) we have a great fund raiser going on in the Saving the Macaws store on Teachers Pay Teachers.

There are bundles for K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12, and clip art!
Click each link to visit that bundle listing!

 If you want to know more about why I'm doing this fund raiser, please see the explanation here!

Thanks, and please pass on the word!  Great deals for a great cause!


Oh, and Franz says thanks too!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Shout Out Board

I know some of you have already started your school year, and some of you are gearing up for the classroom this coming week.  Either way, I had a small idea that turned into a big deal for my kiddos and I wanted to share this idea with you!

Yes, it's just a message board, but before you dismiss it, let me tell you how this board can help you with behavior management.  First off, I tried to keep an eye out for kids doing something out of their way, or just a random nice act for someone else.  It could be something they do for another classmate, or stopping to let an adult walk through our line when there is traffic in the hallways, anything!

 The great thing is, no matter who was chosen that day/week, it showed that even small acts of kindness meant a lot to someone.  This went along with the community/family idea I was trying to foster in my classroom.  They might not think that bending over to help another student pick up a couple pencils is a big deal, but I made it a big deal.  Not by immediately going over, flailing my hands in the air, yelling "WOW, you're just the best person ever!," but I'd give them a sincere "thank you so much for helping her out!"  Then, the next morning (or maybe even when they got back from a related arts/specials, the board would have a message like this on it.

Why not just make a huge deal out of it when it happens?  Well, when I was little, I was really shy (hard for anyone to believe now, I'm sure).  I didn't like someone making a big fuss verbally over something that I did (good or bad).  I was the kid who ran down the hall away from her 4th birthday party because everyone stared at me and started singing, "Happy Birthday."  I didn't want attention, but as a child, I of course loved to be praised.

I have found that this method is a great way to show them what a big difference they can make with just small, every day, kind actions.  How can this help classroom behavior?  Well, obviously you have the overall effect of students feeling good about doing good deeds around the classroom.  However, I really felt it made a huge difference to the kids that don't hear a lot of praise.  

You know that student I'm talking about.  The one that everyone asks about with a face like they know your day must have already gone to you-know-where in a hand basket just simply because the child is in your classroom?  Yup, that one.  Sometimes it bothered me when people would do this because they seemed to only see the negatives of the kid.  However, with this system, I sometimes would even point out the board to another teacher or administrator who came to the door.  Then, they sometimes would call the child over and congratulate them for a job well done.

Overall, I felt this was a great way to say thank you for those little things that we sometimes overlook because of all of the busy-ness of the classroom.  Now, you might wonder, "Wow, did you do this everyday?  I don't think I can keep up with it!"  Honestly, it depends on your room.  Go with the flow and do what you feel works for your kiddos.  Sometimes I left a message up for an entire week.  Sometimes, I changed it two days later because someone else did something outstanding that I felt needed recognition.  Or sometimes, I even wrote a "Thank You" to the entire class if they got a compliment from another teacher, or were well behaved for a sub.  Make it work for YOU!

Let's talk materials for a second...
You can use the corner of your whiteboard, bulletin board, whatever you like!  I have found that the small black dry-erase board from Expo is great and easy to clean, but I don't use the neon Expo markers.  They may have changed, but they never quite had that "pop" that I was looking for on the black background.  The markers are "chalk markers" that I picked up at Hobby Lobby with a 40% coupon (which they have every week!)  They were normally about $10 (now about $12), but with 40% off, they are much cheaper.  I bought them and used them for about three years and they still are working just fine!

I hope that you can adapt this small, simple, yet effective method in your classroom!  

Best of luck whether you have started back, or you're about to dive back in!