Saturday, August 8, 2015

Our Teaching Tribe August Challenge

Welcome to Our Teaching Tribe Blog Hop! We've traded products with other Teaching Tribe members for a product review, just in time for back to school. Maybe you'll find something new to try in your classroom!

I was lucky enough to be paired up with Katie Palmer, another 2nd grade teacher from Pop into Primary. Check out her awesome TpT store that features great Word Work Activity Books! Since I teach math, I got her See It, Solve It Stories Math and Reading Mashup, which is perfect for 2nd-3rd graders.

It's a great product that combines reading and math in one! Students read letters to a detective and solve the problems. They also need to find the caps and punctuation errors in the letters. They work on counting and adding and subtracting money too!

What I love about this product is that it crosses over curriculum areas and makes the most of your time, while engaging students in a fun mystery to solve! Once they solve all 8 problems, they use the information to get the answer to the mystery.
I can't wait to use this product with my 2nd grade students a little later in the year. I know they'll love reading the letters, looking for mistakes and solving the problems to crack the code! I will probably make a copy of the letters for students while projecting it on the Promethean Board, that way they can circle the mistakes on their own, but still get support with reading the letters if needed. I think it will be so fun for kids to try to make guesses to solve the mystery! I'm looking forward to hearing their theories!

To see more great product reviews, click the button to hop to the next blogger, which happens to be Katie reviewing one of my products! Happy Hopping!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015


It seems like I was just celebrating the last day of school and now we're heading back. I worked in my classroom for a couple hours today doing my favorite thing: bulletin boards! The rest of the room is a hot mess, but that's ok! Today is the beginning of an awesome, huge, amazing BTS Blog Hop and Giveaways.

We have 4 big prize packs for you to enter to win. The best part is that you can hop around to a bunch of other blogs and get some great back to school ideas. Special thanks goes to Heidi from Droppin' Knowledge for organizing all this awesomeness!

Before I get to the giveaways, I want want to give you 5 tips for making BTS15 the best ever!
1. This is so hard in the world we live in. We are constantly bombarded by social media pressures to be perfect. Don't compare yourself to other teachers in your building, district or anywhere! It is so easy to get sucked into what I call "Pinterest Perfectionism". The only person you should compare yourself is you! Challenge yourself to be a better you, that's all.

2. Don't try to hard to be somebody else. I'm not saying you can't have someone you look up to or who inspires you. Just put your own spin on it.
3. What I really mean is: be realistic. We all have this fantasy in our minds about the perfect first day of school. Don't try to take on too much. Spend more time getting to know your kids and letting them get to know you. Slow down and enjoy these little people.

4. You might be freaking out inside, but if you just smile like crazy, nobody will know. Chances are that you'll feel better too.

5. It's not a competition to see who has the cutest theme or bulletin boards. Don't forget why you're really here! Remember, it's their first day too and they are feeling a billion emotions and just want to know they are going to be accepted and taught with love this year.

Are you ready for some giveaways??? I know I am! BTW, I'm giving away my BTS Memory Book and First Week Activities in Prize Pack #3. Check out the full preview in my store.

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Now hop around to other blogs to get more great BTS ideas!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

First Day Tried and True Linky Party

I have mixed feelings about back to school time. On one hand, I'm refreshed and energized and ready to GO! On the other hand, I really did enjoy my lazy mornings on the back patio with a cup of coffee and my doggie. Sigh. Summer is never long enough!

Well, I'm linking up with Chrissie from Undercover Classroom and Sarah from Education Electrification for First Day Tried and True: A Back to School Linky Party. There will be tons of tips from teachers who have survived their first day (some of us over and over and over) and came out tired but smiling! Read through to the end of my post for a freebie and a giveaway!

The first day of school is 100% crazy. You have 20-something little angels looking at you with a wide range of expressions on their faces. You also have just as many parents looking at you the same way. The first day of school is always a whirlwind of supplies, rules, getting to know you activities and hopefully, lots of smiles and fun.

You have to set the tone for the entire year and it happens in the first 10 minutes! No pressure, right? I used to start with sorting school supplies and many anxious and lingering parents trying to "help". It wasn't how I wanted to start the year, but I didn't know what else to do. A couple years ago, I did something just a little radical...I kissed the parents goodbye!

Let me explain just a bit. My students are instructed to line up in a prearranged spot each morning. Of course, there are parents wanting to come into the classroom instead to talk to you and drop off supplies and make sure you know about their peanut allergy, etc. It was so stressful for me and I started the day frazzled. What I do now is to lock my door and put a sign on it that says I'll meet them in the lining up area at a certain time. I actually leave my classroom and hide out until the designated time, about 5 minutes before the bell rings. This gives me time to talk to parents and make sure the kiddos know where to go.

When the bell rings, the kiddos line up and I go down the line to talk to each one. I give a high five or fist bump to each one and tell them how excited I am that they're in my class. Then I tell all the kids to turn and look at the parents and blow them a big, fat, juicy kiss and say goodbye. This usually solves the problem of parents hanging around.

Now is my favorite part. I tell all the kids to hang up their backpacks and bags and DO NOT UNPACK them. They are to meet me on the carpet while I play a fun song such as The Happy Song. Once everyone is sitting down, I spend about 10-15 minutes just talking with them and telling them a little about myself. I also like to show pictures of my family and my dog so they see me as a real person. Then I ask them to give me thumbs up if they're excited, scared, nervous, happy, etc. and I let them know I feel all those feelings too.

Then, I pass out a few pages from my Back to School Memory Book that are very easy for them to work on while I do attendance, lunch count, etc. I also play some classical music quietly to set the tone. This is the perfect time to start sorting supplies. While they are coloring and drawing in their books, I will call a few children at a time to sort out their supplies into buckets on my small group table. This takes the chaos out of supply sorting and allows me to take note if anyone is missing any supplies, while all students are engaged in a fun activity. I always have a few buckets of crayons and colored pencils at each table at the beginning since all their supplies are still packed.

My Back to School Memory Book and First Week Activities pack (on sale for $4!!) is full of fun pages that you can mix and match to keep kids meaningfully engaged and you less stressed the first week of school. There is a student created bulletin board, get to know you surveys and graphs, and lots of pages for a memory book that makes a really sweet keepsake that I save for the end of the school year. The kids love to see how much their spelling and drawing has improved!

If this looks interesting to you, you can download a free sample here. Also, if you leave a comment about your First Day Tried and True Tips and your email, I'll randomly choose a few people to win my Back to School Memory Book and First Week Activities!

Check out other teachers' First Day Tried and True Tips: