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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

New Organizer from MochiThings!

 I don't do a lot of "reviews" but I felt I needed to share my latest purchase with you.  I had been seeing tons of "Pins" on Pinterest with a picture of this adorable little organizer, and dared take a look on their site.  First of all, if you love cute "kawaii style" things...beware, they have tons of adorable stickers, post-its, notepads, index stickies...all for great prices, so don't say I didn't warn you.  I may or may not have even done a little Christmas shopping for stocking stuffers!

So anyway...I kept seeing this cute organizer that can hold an iPad/laptop, notebooks, sticky notes, pens, USB drives, just about anything you'd want to take with you to a meeting, school, etc...

Well, I decided that I really needed something to keep my things together because I move back and forth from my husband's office and our house with my notes for TpT, etc...  Sometimes I meet with other people or travel, so I felt this would work well with all of my needs.

I did some research on these and saw that they had great reviews.  I decided on the smaller one that is called the Better Together iPad Pouch because I wanted something more compact, but that would hold way more than just my iPad.  It turned out to be just right for me!

Now before I get into the details, you should know there are other versions that also hold iPads or other similar tablets, and some that even hold laptops!  For instance this Better Together Note Pouch v2 can hold a 13" thin laptop (and it is currently on sale!)

I also want you to know that I paid for this myself, and I don't receive any comission from MochiThings to promote this item...I just wanted to share my joy of being organized!

Okay, so let's get to it, the first thing is shipping.  They shipped my goodies for $5 and it was a Priority 2 Day shipping, so that was a good deal in my eyes since it came from across the country.  Also, they thankfully wrapped everything they sent me in plastic and bubblewrap because another package near mine leaked some mysterious fluid which damaged my box.  However, everything in the box was untouched because of the great packaging around the I was thrilled. As you can imagine I was excited about receiving my package, and quickly deflated when I got a note in my box instead telling me to come to the post office because of "damage!"  So, it was wonderful to open the box and see everything so nicely protected.

The organizer itself is covered in a nylon type material, so water beads up on it instead of soaking in.  The outside has two pockets a zippered one in the back and a pouch in the front:

I really like having a pouch you can easily tuck something in on the go, but also the security of having a zippered one for better protection.  The zipper itself is really well made, and I was impressed by the way the zipper operates.  With some zippers the sides of the zipper curve in and sometimes you  have to flip it back out in order to zip it closed, but not this puppy.  I also like the flexibility of the material, but the stiffness of the seams around the zipper to help keep the shape.

Now on to the inside!  I love how there is extra padding on the right for the iPad/tablet.  You can see that I have a thin protective case on mine, and it still fits easily into the iPad/tablet pouch!  There is also a mesh pocket on that side to hold any small items or notes.

On the left, you have a lot of options!  There is a large pouch for a composition notebook or medium sized legal pad, a zippered pouch at the top (great for USB sticks and smaller items that may fall out), and two pouches, one with a velcro flap.  I love the velcro flap for the pens, and it can easily be tucked into the pouch above it if needed!

Also, I wanted to show you just how deep that zippered pouch at the top is, just so you know it isn't just for tiny things!  I stuck a mechanical pencil straight down into it so you could get a feel for how deep it really is.

All in all, I am very pleased with this organizer! I feel that it's well made and has a lot of options.  I automatically thought "if I were still in the classroom, I'd definitely be getting one of these!"  Especially the slightly larger version just because I always came away from staff meeting with papers or folders from vising PD instructors.

I would definitely recommend this if you are looking for a way to keep organized and always have the materials you need on hand as you move from home, to the classroom, to numerous meetings in dozens of different locations (Can I get an amen?!) and back again.  The slightly larger models also have a handle on the binding to carry with you instead of a giant bag!

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this little review.  I was just really happy with my purchase and wanted to share with you in case you were looking for a tool to get organized!

Oh and those cute little things you see popping out of my pocket?  Another purchase I made from

I'm slightly obsessed with penguins and birds, and these cute little stick-on index guys were just $2.50 and adorable.  I couldn't resist.  Not to mention, I now have a great place to store them!

Are there any things I'd change, "cons," or things you should know?

I'd say having a handle on the binding would be nice, but since it is a smaller model, it isn't hard to hold at all.  It slips into a bag nicely, or under your arm!  The larger models do have a handle.

You cannot fit a normal sized spiral notebook.  If you have a regular 8.5 by 11 sized spiral bound notebook, it won't fit in the left pouch.  A composition notebook fits just fine, but something you should know!

Hope you enjoyed reading a little about my latest attempt at being organized!  Now to download some great apps to keep my TpT ideas straight!


Sunday, August 9, 2015

Calling all TPT Sellers!

Hello all!

I wanted to let all of my TpT seller friends know that I'm collecting contributions for the Tambopata Macaw Project fund raiser.  If you haven't read my post in the forums, read below for an explanation of the project, or go to the Saving the Macaws TpT Store where the fund raiser will be running from September - October for the free download explaining everything!

If you decide to contribute, please visit and fill out the Google Sheet for Saving the Macaws, and I will contact you before the 14th with what I need from each person!  We have some GREAT contributions already, but we want to have some beefy bundles for teachers to purchase.  And sellers, even if you aren't in the classroom, we have some mighty fine clip art as well!

If you want to help even further, please spread the word about the fund raiser.  We need a lot of sellers to participate, and if they all spread the word once the fund raiser begins, we will surely be a success!

Here is my post from the forums: 

Hello everyone! 

With the awesome help of Nicole and Amy at TpT, the director of the Macaw Project, Dr. Brightsmith, and hopefully many of you, I will be hosting a fundraiser during the months of September and October! 

Let me give you a little back story...
In the summer of 2013, my husband and I visited the Tambopata Research Center in Peru.  There, researchers are helping to study and conserve the macaw population, and study the parrots that live in the area.  We got to witness the absolutely amazing event of parrots on a clay lick.  I know it sounds dull, but trust isn't!  It was like being in a National Geographic special. In fact, the thoughts in my head started to sound like David Attenborough was narrating.  It was that cool.

Anyway, a researcher gave us a presentation about their efforts to help the macaw population (which is dwindling... sad ) and the other parrots.  They also shared their theories about why the parrots eat the clay, etc...  It was a wonderful stay at the ecolodge and we made 3-4 treks a day through the jungle to observe animals and learn more about the ecosystem.

It really touched my heart and it is such a worthy cause.  These researchers are out every morning by 4:30 counting parrots at clay licks, making observations, and hauling themselves up 100 foot trees checking on baby macaws.  Not to mention hauling huge man-made nests up into the trees (since the macaws nest in old-growth trees that are regularly cut down during deforestation and selective logging.) Volunteers from all over the world go there to help with the effort.  In fact, I'm hoping to go sometime and lend a hand myself.

If the name sounds familiar, two recent discoveries were made at the Tambopata Reserve: 
The "Decoy" Spider : … stery.html
(In fact, the guy who took that picture, Troy, was the one who gave us the talk about their efforts!)

and a "Glow Worm": … vered.html
(You 80's kids can appreciate that...right?)

So, we are looking for contributions to bundles.  I am planning on making a K-2, 3-5, 6-8 (hopefully by subject), 9-12 (again, hopefully by subject), and Clip Art!

After talking with Nicole and Amy, they both agreed it would be great to try to keep most contributions to the bundles "themed" with the cause.  So, anything pertaining to animals, jungle, rain forest, biomes, conservation, general science, insects, saving the Earth, etc...  

HOWEVER, if you want to contribute, but do not have an item that fits that description, please still fill out the Google Sheet!  We want this fundraiser to be successful and we want everyone who wants to participate to be able to!

Also, I'd love to make the clip art bundle a success!  Artists, if you want to contribute just an image, or a couple images from a set just for this fundraiser, that is A-OK!  

If you have any questions at all you can email me at!

We have the store set up, Google Sheet set up, and now we just need YOU!

Thank you SO much!
 (and Franz)

Some Classroom Inspiration

*Sniff Sniff* You can smell the "Back to School" sales from here...or is that tears because summer is ending?!  Well, either way it's time to celebrate jumping into a new school year with some inspiration and a giveaway!

First, let's start with the inspiration, or should I say "Pin-spiration."

I have had a board that I've been "collecting" classrooms on. It is eye candy, that's for sure. Thing is, everyone has a different sized room, different situations and surfaces, etc... So, finding inspiration that you can picture in your own classroom can be difficult. For the last couple weeks I've been pinning some stand out rooms that I have come across, and I hope that you will enjoy flipping through them as much as I did finding all of them! I am going to continue adding to this board as I see cool classrooms, so feel free to "follow" the board if you enjoy looking at the classes as much as I do!

"Great Classrooms! Board"

Now, to help you get "pumped" up for a new year, I've collected some goodies from Target.  Some of these were from the "dollar section" and some...(like the awesome InkJoy pens from PaperMate) were not in the dollar section, but still a steal at the price!  All in all, it is about $16 worth of goodies for you to kick off the new year.

You will receive: 
A beautiful blue pocket chart with 8 pockets and paper strips, a pack of  rainbow striped border pieces (15 pieces, looks to be about half the length of a normal strip), a set of stamps for student work, a pack of colorful pencils, a divided tray for storing small items, a pack of "please sign and return" stickers, a pack of colorful star stickers, a pack of "Thank You" notes, a pack of 18 assorted color "Ink Joy" pens from PaperMate, and an accordian receipt holder for collecting small papers or receipts for field trips!  **And a cute little "To Do" pad from Staples, as seen here:

So, how do you get into the drawing?  Easy!  Just use the Rafflecopter widget below, or go to my Facebook page to enter!  All you "have" to do to enter is follow me on Facebook and Pinterest! The rest are optional, but do earn you more chances.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck to you and BEST WISHES on a new year!

*I also feel obligated to mention that I don't get any "kickbacks" from Target, Staples, PaperMate, etc...  I just saw some cute stuff and picked it up! :)

Sunday, August 2, 2015

The First Day - Building A Community

The smell of freshly sharpened pencils and anxiety....yup, it's the first day of school!  The first day can be so exciting, but feel so rushed.  School procedures, paperwork, and numerous questions can make you feel like you are drowning!

However, the focus of this time should be building a community within your classroom.  Set the tone that you are a family and are going to be on a journey together for the next 9-10 months (or more if you're year round!).  Everyone in your classroom is going to be spending a lot of time together.  Many of them will be working together at some point, and all of them will be working with you.  It is crucial to have them share things about themselves to help them make connections.  Here are some activities I have done on the first day (or throughout the first week if you feel crunched for time) that have really worked for me!

Student Scavenger Hunt: (My version is free here in my store!)
Getting the kids up and out of their seats to mingle is a great idea.  It helps get them a little more comfortable moving in their new space, and gives them a chance to really put names and faces together if they aren't familiar with their new classmates.  The best thing about the scavenger hunt is the teamwork I see happen as the activity progresses.

Now before we begin, I should mention that this has worked well with even my shy students.  They usually start by just handing the grid to another student (since everyone knows what is going on) and not saying anything, but usually by the end they are at least using phrases like, "Can you sign one, please?"  I was painfully shy when I was little, so I always try to find a way for even my wallflowers to really participate!

Okay, so each student gets a grid with statements like "has a little brother," or "loves sushi."  The students must put their name on the paper, then go around and have other students sign one statement that they relate to.  I tell them at first that their classmates can only sign one block and that I will sign one block as well.  The kids start directing each other to people who can sign blocks, which gets them talking to many different classmates.

It is great seeing the quick discussions of "Oh, I never knew you liked sushi!", or "You lived in another state?  Which one?"  The kids also get a HUGE kick out of having things in common with YOU.  This will most likely be the topic of conversation as they get in the car that afternoon.  "Dad, can you believe that Mr. Wilson plays the piano just like me?"

Now, as kids sit down with their completed grids, I start to ask people to try and sign something for the people standing so we can review.  After everyone takes a seat, we go through each statement and have everyone that fits that statement raise their hand.  Sometimes I'll ask questions like "Oh, what team sport do you play?"  Then, I'll say "Oh really, so how many of you play soccer?"  This helps the students really look around and see how much we all have in common.  We're all woven together by common threads, and this is a great visual for them and for you!  Not only will your kiddos know each other better, you will have a better picture of your class for the year.


Be sure to check out the other "First Day Tried and True" blog posts here: