Mobile Coupons!

Did you know that Michaels and Hobby Lobby will take mobile coupons? I have used both this weekend and both were accepted, no problem at all.

Both coupons are for 40% off one item and can be found directly on the Michaels and Hobby Lobby websites. Just find it on your mobile browser and show it to the checkout person. Easy peasy!

Here’s what one of them looks like on my phone. Btw I’m posting this from the WordPress app on my phone, so hopefully it will work!


Happy shopping!

Categories: Crafts, Summer Work | Leave a comment

Adventures in Crafting

I attempted 2 crafts today. One was a fail. I think the other is kind of a success.

Craft 1 was based on something like this from Pinterest:

I do plan on doing something like this with my clipboards, which are covered in 4th grade graffiti. But the clipboards are buried in a box somewhere (probably in my new classroom), so I decided to try something similar with the cookie sheets that I use as magnet boards.

EDIT: I found the Pinterest link to the cute cookie sheet magnet board. Here’s the inspiration pic:

First, I spray painted the back and part of the front. FYI, Krylon works better than Rustoleum and dries far faster. It covers well, but is easy to scratch off. I got a spray enamel to use after I’m done, which hopefully will make it a little stronger. However, I might end up having to use spray primer before the spray paint.

Here’s what it looked like with the spray paint:

The middle didn’t need to be totally painted because I was going to cover it in paper. I tested a magnet to see if it would work through the paper, and it worked great. Here’s what it should look like with the paper:

I used a spray adhesive on the paper and on the cookie sheet. Here’s what it looked like after I put the paper down and tried to re-position it to be straight:


A new layer of spray paint is drying right now. I’ll re-attempt this later.

Craft 2 was a bit better. I saw this done on a blog somewhere.  Basically you just cover a binder in fabric to make it look pretty. I used spray adhesive. It looks ok, but I’m not sure it’s going to stay adhered. We’ll see.

Categories: Crafts, New Classroom, Summer Work | 5 Comments

It’s Book Project Time!

One of the things my team did during our first meeting was map out when we would cover book genres throughout the year.  Every class will do a book project on the same genre at the same time, but everyone has the freedom to do different projects. My assignment is for students to read their book, make a sock puppet of one of the characters, their puppet to the class, and read an excerpt from the book out loud.

The first genre is Fantasy or Science Fiction. Previously, I had called this book report “Fantasy or Animal Fiction”. I’m going to attach the document as Fantasy/Science Fiction, but if you want me to attach a Fantasy or Animal Fiction form, just let me know in the comments and I’d be happy to do so.

Year after year, parents tell me how much their kids loved the book projects throughout the year. I’ve done these projects for the past 7 years (altering them a bit each year), and this particular assignment is one of students’ favorites. They love making a sock puppet!

Basically, the kids choose their own fantasy or science fiction book to read. The rules are that it needs to be close to their independent reading level (not too hard or too easy) and needs to be a book that the student has not read before.

The purposes of book projects are:

1. To encourage students to read a variety of books at their level throughout the year
2. To develop their creativity and project completion skills
3. To think about the stories and characters in new ways
4. To improve basic reading skills (fluency, comprehension, etc).
5. To provide an opportunity for families to work together. I think it’s an extremely valuable experience for families to talk about books and work on projects together.
6. Public speaking and presentation skills are a HUGE part of the new common core standards! In each of these assignments, students will present their project to the class. I always either take pictures or videotape the presentations and put them on a class DVD that goes home before winter break and at the end of the year.  You can also invite parents to the book project presentations.

If you google “how to make a sock puppet”, you will see tons of ideas that you can share with your students. Here’s a cute video from 1969 with Jim Henson about making a puppet:

There are also books about making puppets, like this one:

I have to give credit for this project to my friend Kay. When I started working with her 7 years ago, she shared these book projects with me. I’ve changed them a little, but the ideas are all from Kay. She is amazing!

Here’s the PDF. It includes the project information, grading checklist, and book selection form.

Fantasy/ScienceFiction Book Report



Categories: Book Projects, Reading | 1 Comment

Curriculum Mapping

At the beginning of the year, I always have the best intentions to map out my curriculum for the year. It usually gets about 1/3 done and then I get busy with other things and never go back to it, never look at it again, and just follow the plan in my brain. I was also pretty much my own team because I taught in the gifted/talented program and didn’t have plan time with the other teachers in my grade level.  I did a lot of vertical planning with the g/t team, but that’s quite a bit different than horizontal planning.

This year, I’ll be on a real live team! Yay! To keep us all organized, it would probably be a good idea to complete a curriculum map that we actually use and refer to.

I’m not good at making that sort of thing. I get mad at Excel. Fortunately, my former teammate, Emmalee, lives for that kind of thing. She makes amazing Excel documents and doesn’t even scream at her computer like I do.

EDIT: I just realized I had included the wrong curriculum map, and it wasn’t blank. This one is blank:

Curriculum Map – Blank

UPDATE: To make this a more useful document, we copied and pasted it to Google Docs so everyone could view and change it. It didn’t look as pretty, but was a much more workable document for a team. I definitely recommend doing that!

Categories: New Classroom, Planning, Summer Work | Leave a comment

The Clip Chart (in about a million words)

Last summer, I looked into classroom management programs. I used to use a ticket system, where students earned tickets for making good choices. They used those tickets at class auctions to buy trinkets.

The ticket system actually worked pretty well, but I was “over” this system for a few reasons:
1. It focused too much on extrinsic motivation. I wanted to find something that focused on intrinsic motivation.
2. It was expensive to buy all that stuff.
3. It took a long time to get through the auctions.
4. It was run entirely by the teacher.

Thanks to the good old Internet, I found out about the clip system. I heard it was “magic!” and that kids loved it. It sounded good to me, so I decided to try it. I LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!!!  Here’s what it looked like in my classroom. (Yes I mixed up the rainbow colors. I’ll fix that this year!)

From the top down, it says, Outstanding, Role Model, Showing Pride, Ready to Learn, Thinking About It, Lose 10 Minutes (of reward or recess time), and Contact Home.

Everyone starts the day on Ready to Learn. Students clip up or down according to their choices. You can have the whole class, small groups, or individual students clip up or down.

If I student makes it to Lose 10 Minutes, then he or she had to sit out at our second recess (NOTE: I would not recommend having younger students miss recess time if you only have one recess per day – I’d probably choose a different consequence or have it say “Teacher’s Choice”).

If a student continues a poor behavior choice after the first consequence, then he or she has to clip down to Contact Home. Some teachers have those students write a letter home, some have them fill out a form, and some will email or call the parent. It’s totally up to you.

Everyone starts with a red clip. Students who end the day at “Outstanding” get a sticker on their clip. After getting 5 stickers, the kids get the next color clip! The kids LOVE THIS!  Last year, they saved their clips, attached them to their backpacks or the sides of the desks, etc. They were so proud of themselves when they “clipped up” to the next color!

After getting to the top pink clip, students could then earn Bronze, Silver, Gold, Ruby, Emerald, and Diamond clips.

I bought the clips at Walmart. 100 clips are $1.88. I also bought spraypaint for red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and pink clips. Here’s what it looks like when you spray them:

For the glitter clips, I covered one side in glue and then spread glittery on it and let it dry. I left the other side free for the stickers. For the diamond clip, I bought some cheap sparkly bling from Michaels and hot glued them on the clip, which was painted silver. I also displayed all of the clips on the side of the clip chart with fun names like “Responsible Ruby” and “Polite Pink”. The kids loved looking at the clips and having a visual reminder of which clip they would earn next.

Some tips on using the clip chart:

1. It works best when you focus on the positive! Instead of jumping right into, “Clip down, Sally”, have the kids who are making the right decision clip up! About 8 times out of 10, the kids who aren’t making the right choice will quickly get the hint!

2. When clipping down, some teachers have kids clip all the way down to Thinking About It, even if they were on Outstanding before that. Personally, I don’t think that’s fair. The student earned the clip-ups, and my opinion is that one clip-down is appropriate in most instances. I will make an exception only for very serious mistakes, like hitting someone or something like that. I make it clear that school rules are still in effect, and referrals will be given for major incidents. (FYI, I think I only had to write one referral last year.)

3. Some teachers don’t use the colored clips, and students just keep a plain-colored clip for the whole year. It seems to me that these classes don’t have as much success with the chart. Part of why it works is because students are motivated to get that next clip and are so proud of themselves for earning it.

4. I put student numbers on the clips instead of names. At the end of the day, it didn’t matter. The kids knew who had which number by the end of the first week of school. I’m not sure if I’ll do names or numbers this year.

5. I was a bit of a control freak about the clips last year, but I think I’ll have the kids be in charge this year. I had the kids take over more of it by the end of the year, and they did a great job. The kids can absolutely put stickers on the clips at the end of the day, move everyone to Ready to Learn, and hand out the new clips. I’ll probably make it a class job for 2 students each week.

6. If you have a classroom theme, you can personalize the clip chart to your theme! I’ll post my new clip chart sometime in the next month or so. 🙂

7. Some teachers make a contact home form for students to fill out if they get to that. On the other end of the chart, some teachers make stickers or little “I had an outstanding day!” forms for kids to have. It’s up to you!

I love everything about the clip chart, and highly recommend it!

Categories: Classroom Management, Summer Work | Leave a comment

My New Classroom: Before

The thought of starting from scratch with a new classroom is exciting, but daunting!  I have always changed my classroom each year, and I really think it has gotten better each year. However, I have never switched classrooms, so the basic layout stayed similar from year to year.  I’ve started thinking about how to arrange things, but I haven’t decided much yet.

Here is my starting point. The size of the room is great and it has some wonderful storage! It also looks a bit like a prison cell ,and it’s going to need some TLC. (BTW this is with one set of lights on. The room does get brighter.)

I really like the accent wall. It’s a nice calm color, and will work with my theme this year (more on that later!). I also love all the built-in storage!  I’m thrilled that I’ll be able to hide away all of my teacher’s books, craft supplies etc. There’s also a built-in teacher’s desk, which is nice, with file drawers right next to it. I might be able to get rid of the additional file cabinet.

The walls are definitely a blank slate! In a way this is good, but do you see that tiny little bulletin board? that is the ONLY one in the room, and it’s small!  I’m going to have to figure out what to do about that because I definitely want an area to display student work, and I need more space than that.  Also, note the mounted projector! *SQUEE*

Yes, there’s a smartboard. I haven’t used one in a couple years, so I’m definitely going to have to brush up on my skills!  It’s driving me crazy that the white boards are different sizes. They’re also really small! I’m going to have to come up with some different ideas on how to post the daily schedule etc because I don’t want to take up white board space with that.

More white walls and a few tiny windows. Unfortunately, those windows just look out into the hallway. I have no outside windows. Honestly, this is going to drive me CRAZY!  I’ve never worked in a classroom with no outside windows! Maybe I’ll find a webcam that shows what’s going on outside and project it on the smartboard. The window in my old classroom wasn’t great, but at least it looked outside. This is bothering me more than it should.  I’m sure I’ll adjust soon enough.

Unfortunately, there are some important things missing:

1. Rocking chair. I’m going to have to figure this one out pronto. I really love having a rocking chair to use when the kids sit at the floor, and the kids love having it too. I might need to hit up IKEA or garage sales.

2. Bookshelf. My principal said that she’ll purchase bookshelves if needed. There are a couple small ones in there that currently have other things on them, but I have waaaaaaaay more books than will fit on those! If the school can’t buy one, maybe I can figure out a way to turn that big storage unit into storage for my classroom library.

3. Bulletin board. I can make one with paper or fabric and trim, and I guess I’ll have to do that. That does leave a ton of holes in the walls though. I’ll have to figure something out.

4. I love the accent wall, but the other walls are super boring. I’ll fix that right up!

5. A rug where the kids sit on the floor would be nice, but isn’t completely necessary.

6. Computers. There are laptop carts to check out and a computer lab, but the technology teacher said I can have a few classroom computers too if I want them (which I do).

Hopefully the “after” pictures will be much more inviting and cozy!

Categories: New Classroom | Leave a comment

A Little About Me

I love baking. This is a cake I made for my mom’s birthday.

This is me on a pretty good hair day.

My dog, Cookie, is the sweetest dog ever!

I love going to concerts with my husband. This is us at OMD.

I love eating at Snooze. Mmmmm.

I love playing Words with Friends. This was one of the few occasions I’ve been able to beat my husband!

Categories: Personal | Leave a comment

Hello world!

This is my first post on my teaching blog. If anyone is reading this, thank you for visiting! Hopefully I’ll be posting a lot on here as I get my classroom ready for a new school year as well as throughout the year.

I’ve been teaching for a while now. I started in 2001 as an aide in a severe needs classroom for one year. I then worked as a co-teacher at a private school for gifted and talented students for two years as I worked toward my master’s degree in education. After that, I was a student teacher at a high school. Unfortunately I sucked at it, and quickly realized that as much as I loved teaching language arts, I was meant to be an elementary school school. I graduated with my master’s degree and teaching license in December of 2004, and worked as a substitute teacher for one semester. Fortunately I was offered a job for the 2005-2006 school year teaching a 2nd and 3rd grade combination class in the gifted and talented program.  I was there for 7 years teaching 2nd-4th grade.

I’m so excited to start a new adventure this year! After seeing things go downhill quickly in the school district I was in, I started seriously looking for a new job in the spring of 2012. On the last week of school, I was offered a position teaching 4th grade in a fantastic school in what is probably the best school district in the state.  I’m so sad to be leaving a school I love, but I’m excited about the new opportunity!

Look for more posts soon as I start planning my new classroom. I’m also going to post links to some assignments on

I’m excited to join the blogging community!

Categories: Personal | 1 Comment

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