Thursday, April 23, 2015

Mother's Day Project! The Best Gift EVER!

Hey friends! What are you all doing for Mother's Day gifts this year? For the past two years, I took a break from my favorite project to try out a few new ideas. They turned out SUPER cute but somehow, they just did not have that sweet *I made this special project for you by myself and Mom, you're going to CRY when you see it * feeling. You know what I mean? So this year, I'm going back to the one I love best! 

Here's a little history behind my all-time favorite Mother's Day gift:

When my son was in second grade, he took ME to work at HIS school. I was also in second grade! My child's amazing teacher, my scrapbookin' friend, Kathy, suggested we make a lunch bag book for our Mother's Day craft. She had seen them in a magazine and fallen in love. I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about... but I went with it!

We had no patterns, NO CLUE, no materials and so the creativity began! Together, we came up with some sweet sentiments about moms, rounded up cardstock papers, scrounged around for ribbon scraps and tried making an example. After some trial and error, we had created an adorable project and the students LOVED it! 

Because I knew what I would be getting from my child as a gift, I worried that I might have to practice my excitement over it for Mother's Day. They managed to keep it a secret from me though, so I never saw the finshed project until that special day. He was so proud to give me that little book that fit perfectly in his tiny hands. It was so sweet!

Of all of the gifts my child ever brought home from school, my very own, made with love, lunchbag scrapbook is my most cherished. Why? Because we finished it together at home and made another happy memory. 
In it are all of my favorite reminders of him at age 7. 

I have to confess that I'm not into scrapbooking at all. I never had the time or patience for that sort of thing. I never made even one for my child. It sure was easy enough for me to add my favorite photos of the two of us like this one from our amazing trip to Mexico.

The bag book has a few journaling cards inside the pockets. I jotted down some cute things that we used to say to each other like I love you more than you love me! Somehow, I thought I'd always remember those little things, but time makes you forget. There are all sorts of other things in there too like zoo passes, movie tickets, and more reminders of our fun times together. 

I still love to look back at my darling little scrapbook every once in a while. I had it displayed on a small easel for many years, but recently packed it away for fear that something might happen to it in one of my wild cleaning frenzies.

Kathy is now happily retired, but I have continued our lunch bag scrapbook tradition with lots of classes over the last 10 years. I even made one for my OWN mom! 

Thanks to technology, I was able to redesign the patterns, and add instructions so other teachers can enjoy making it with their kiddos too.

 It is now new and improved and cuter than ever in 2015!
 I hope you like it too!

It breaks my heart knowing that some kiddos we teach do not have a mom to celebrate with on Mother's Day. The file also includes alternate pages so those children are able to participate and make a book for their Grandma or an aunt.

This  Mother's Day Lunch Bag Scrapbook was one of my first items available at Teachers Pay Teachers! Many sweet teachers have written to share how much their students and parents loved it! That makes my heart SO happy!

 If you have already purchased this craft, be sure to go back to download the *new version* under your purchases. It now includes pull out tabs with adorable fill in the blank pages and cards for the kiddos to illustrate! There are new tracer patterns that can be photocopied too to make prep even easier than ever! 

I can't wait to get started on this project with my class next week! I plan to share some photos of our beautiful masterpieces as we complete them!

 This year, I am collecting 2 dollars from each student. I bought some really pretty things to decorate them with that the Moms will adore. The kiddos have to do some chores to help out and earn the money. Yes, there is a note for that in the file as well!

A Little Giveaway
If you are still on the fence about a project for  Mother's Day, you might like to try this scrapbook keepsake out. You may even like to have it for your own children to make for Grandma! Just leave me a comment with your email and next week, I'll choose THREE to try it FREE! 

Have a great finish to your week! Set a reminder and be sure to check back here on Saturday and Sunday! There will be some super duper posts from the Weekend Warriors bloggers and a few other surprises you won't want to miss! 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Big Reveal, FREEBIES Galore and a Giveaway!

Did you see the cute little hints about a big surprise on my Facebook page? is the day we have been waiting for! It's finally time to BLAB the great news, share some FREE items and tell you about an amazing giveaway my teacher friends!

I'm SO excited to announce that Educents is opening a BRAND NEW place to shop for digital product downloads and printable resources for teachers! It's called the Educents MARKETPLACE! Oh, I can't wait for you to see it!!! This is HUGE! Right now, there are over 500 shops set up, including some from your favorite bloggers!

For the grand opening, Educents is giving away a 50 dollar store creditYay! 
With the great prices there, you can really fill up your cart with 50 bucks to spend! 
But that's not all...keep reading!

I just opened a new Creative Lesson Cafe shop there too! Click {here} to pop in to see my new storefront at Educents. While you are there, be sure to grab these FREEBIES!

When we return from spring break, I will be working with my class on written story summaries. This is a skill they need to master before our end-of-the-year DRA reading assessment. I created these spring-themed practice worksheets to use to help get our ideas down on paper in an organized way. There are pages for kiddos at all different levels. The packet includes practice for both fiction stories and nonfiction selections.

 This subtraction task card/Scoot set might be great to have for your classroom! My kiddos use it and love it! It's a FREEBIE at Educents Marketplace too!

 I hope you like them!!!

If you do download the freebies, I'd REALLY love and appreciate your support as a follower with this new adventure! Just CLICK ON THE HEART when you get there! :)
That would make me so happy!

 Here's a little preview of just a few of the other items at my Educents store:

For a short time, you can grab everything on sale! I have many more products to add yet and brand new items in the works, so check back often!

The Giveaway!

I'm teaming up with a fabulous bunch of teachers for this promo, so while you are there at Educents, remember to browse around their stores too for some great resources and grab some more amazing FREEBIES from each seller!

All of the sellers have worked very hard to make their storefronts look fantastic and to post their FREEBIES, so be sure to show them some LOVE too!

To ENTER TO WIN the 50 dollar credit, click on the link below!

 Good luck everyone!

Educents Marketplace $50 in Edubucks Giveaway #7 - Second Grade Stores

Then, go check out the rest of these shops in the link up!!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Experiments, Manipulatives, Models and FREEBIES! Strategy 7

I'm really excited because today, I am linking up with Deanna Jump and other bloggers at Mrs. Jump's Class for my FAVORITE chapter in this Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites book study linky! It's all about manipulatives, experiments, labs and models! I could go on all day about this one! Read on to see how I use this strategy in my second grade classroom! This post is heavy on the pictures, but I hope they will give you some great ideas! You can also pick up a few FREEBIES along the way!

When I think of manipulatives, experiments and models, science and math come to mind most often. These two subjects are perfect for incorporating strategy 7!

I like this quote from the book: 

When learning is active and hands-on, the formation of neural connections is fascilitated and information is much more readily remembered than information learned from an abstract viewpoint, where the teacher is doing the work, while the students watch. (Gregory & Perry, 2006)

In math, I try to begin each new unit with some concrete work with manipulatives to build the foundations before moving on to any pencil/paper tasks. The use of manipulatives and models also creates interest and gets students motivated to learn more! When a worksheet is necessary, I like to also have the students model with manipulatives at the same time

Comparing handfuls with greater than and less than symbols using counting bears.
Making ten- addition sentences with Skittles on a ten frame mat.
 Judy clocks to model time while using task cards.
Partitioning shapes and modeling fractions of a set of 12 jelly beans.

Making the transition from observing and identifying coins with play money to the paper task- using coins on top of the worksheet.

I am fortunate to have a classroom FULL of manipulatives and models to use as teaching tools. When I model concepts, the students can model along with me!

We made pipe cleaner number racks for subitizing and fact practice.

  These are just a few of the models and manipulatives we use and those that I could easily find a photo of for you!
What are your favorite math manipulatives? 

 Science is my favorite subject to teach! I try to bring hands-on exeriments and inquiry into our themes every chance I get. As with anything, I wish there was MORE TIME! Here are some experiments that my class just loved! 

We planted amaryllis and paperwhites this winter. It was really neat to see the roots and the bulb. You don't have to have a green thumb for these. They grow without any TLC. This came as a planting kit and they had already sprouted without soil or water!

We do lots of experiments with candy and other fun seasonal items. Be sure to click on the links to grab some FREE lab sheets! Yes, they are a worksheet in a sense, but it is helpful for the students to draw and write their observations and conclusions. It grows more dendrites! 

Gummy bears experiment and lab sheet.

Candy hearts experiment and lab sheet.

At Halloween, we also experimented with candy corn. You can grab a copy of the lab sheet too for next year!

In some subjects it is also possible to build your own models! Talk about growing dendrites. Creating is at the top of the taxonomy!

 We built Oreo spiders as we learned about the body parts!

When studying landforms, we build salt-dough models on pizza rounds, paint them and label them.

The best of all worlds for me is combining both math and science concepts with models, manipulatives and experiments into a great STEM activity like this one!

Penny rafts STEM challenge.

My big TAKEAWAY from this chapter was that I need to keep doing more of these types of activities. I hope to work the same ideas into other subject areas. As you can see, language arts is not represented here. 

 Thank you for stopping by! I hope you enjoyed this post and can take away some new inspiration for implementing ideas for strategy 7 in your room! 

I did have to miss out on a few chapters in Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites. LIFE happened and so did other blogging commitments but I hope to come back to them when things slow down and fill in the gaps!

Link up your post or head on over to the linky to see more ideas from some amazing teachers!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Easter Projects

Are you looking for some cute and easy Easter projects for your kiddos for the upcoming week? I found some great ideas and creative cuteness you could prep quickly if you are running short on time! 

Last week, we made this cute egg-shaped bunny project to hang from the ceiling clips. At the time, we were out of white cardstock, so our bunnies are brown eggs instead!
 Don't you just love him and his overalls?

Give the bunny a cotton ball tail if you hang him in a way that the back side shows! 
You can find all of the patterns for this cute FREEBIE craft from Kathy Goosev Howell {here}!

 I also found this cute chick in an egg craft! 
Is that just the cutest thing EVER?!

All you need for this one is some spring-patterned scrapbook paper and yellow, orange and white cardstock or papers.
This one I am leaving for my sub next week!
You can grab this FREEBIE {here} at Brinca into Bilingual Mrs. Nicolau's store!

These are easy peasy and so adorable! 
I hope you can use these ideas with your class too!

Have a great start to your week!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

7 Tips for Dealing With Teacher Stress: Weekend Warriors

On a scale of 1-10, how stressed are you at work?
Wish you could STRESS LESS?

Teaching can be SO intense! How well we handle stress can make all the difference in the classroom and in our personal lives. The Weekend Warriors and I are here to share some great ways we have found to deal with all of the teacher STRESS that comes with the job!

 I try really hard to avoid getting stressed out in the first place, but it happens anyway. Here are seven simple things that help to LOWER my stress level during the day, so I can be the best "me" at work and when the day is done. 

1. Talk it out and let it out. Fellow teachers are our ultimate support system. When I have a stressful "situation", the very BEST thing to do is to confide in my teaching buddies. Most times, we end up sharing funny stories and have a good crack-up over it. Laughter is good for the soul!

2. Just breathe. When I was having a stress attack the other day, my teaching partner reminded me about relaxation breathing. It really works!

 Count to 7 while you slowly inhale and then to 7 again as you exhale! Try it now!

3. Keep a special treat handy. I often reach for some secret stash in my desk drawer! It used to be dark chocolate, but my latest fix is Starburst Jelly Beans! I'm not normally the type of person that turns to food when I'm stressed, but a sweet treat is sometimes enough to give me a little lift and distract me from my worries! I'm sure a piece of fruit or some other healthier choice might be a better solution, but for now, I'm all about the candy!

4. Try an herbal tea. Aveda has a very soothing peppermint tea. They call it Comforting tea. One sip and it really does have a relaxing effect. I bought a small coffee pot to keep in my room so I just add some leaves to a coffee filter and brew away! 

5. Give yourself a break. A favorite break spot of mine is the staff restroom. :) That's all I have time for! I donated some nice soaps and lotions for all to share. I use the scented lotions and hand cream instead of the school soap. Doing that one simple thing gives me a NEW ATTITUDE! It's like a mini-spa!

6. Find a little escape and get back in touch with reality! It's so easy to lose sight of ourselves as people when we are so devoted to our role as teacher. On sunny days, during my lunch, I may go sit in my car with the sunroof open and turn on some music. It's nice to get away and have a change of scenery even if it's only for a few minutes. 

7. Exercise during the day if you can. It helps ease tension and stress. It gets the "feel good" chemicals in our bodies going! Our playgrounds have a nice long walking path all around them. While I supervise recess, I take a POWER walk! Sometimes the kiddos walk with me! 

My stress doesn't disappear completely with any of these tricks, but they definitely help! When the bell rings, round two begins. My job as mom, laundry queen, cleaning lady, cook and all of the other hats I wear can be stressful too. How I deal with that will have to be another post! :0 

 After work, I cannot wait to get home and put on my lazy lounge clothes like my new Weekend Warrior sweatshirt! 

How do you manage your teacher stress?
 Leave us a comment and we can all learn some new tricks!

I can't wait to stop by to see the ideas the other Weekend Warriors are sharing.  
Click on the links below to read more from my sweet, stress-free (ha!) friends!

Friday, March 20, 2015

TGIF! Five for Friday!

Happy first day of spring my friends! Good things are on the way! Welcome to Five for Friday! I'm sharing a little peek at the week in our classroom! You know the saying, "my plate is full"...well, mine has spilled over onto the floor...wait till you see the combination platter that was my week!

For St. Patrick's Day, we tried to keep things low key this year, but is a party day ever easy? Our parents donated all kinds of fun green food items and treats for our celebration. We even enjoyed some traditional Irish soda bread!  My little leprechauns listened to some toe tappin' music and  tried to do some Irish step dancing for brain break. It was a blast! 

The kiddos were so good and calm for me. I think they knew teacher was STRESSED!

By the end of the day, I looked green (maybe from scarfing down three green Rice Krispie treats?) and had the biggest bags under my eyes that makeup just was no match for. 

 It also happened to be report card day. In the rush of it all, I almost FORGOT to hand them out! The bell was ringing and we were scrambling to put them in folders after backpacks were already packed up. 

What would the end of a party day be without a little more excitement??!!

We had two exhausting days and nights of conferences. It's so hard to be away from home two nights in a row. I always have a hard time coming down off of the rush and didn't get to sleep until VERY late on those nights. 

This was my display table for conferences. I went with a theme even though it was after the holiday. I also set out one class book, and some mints (that were eaten by some little munchkins who helped themselves)! One thing I always like to do is to have the parents write their child a little happy note. The children are just so delighted to get their special letters! 

There were munchkins around at conferences because the PTO has our Scholastic book fair set up for shopping. We had a chance to preview it this week. While we were there, I filled up my wish list bucket. I got quite a few books as gifts that I am SUPER excited about. One is all about candy experiments. Oh Yeah! :)

 We have been inviting in some mystery readers! I asked the parent readers to provide some clues about themselves and we try to guess who it might be before our visitor arrives. This child thought her mom was headed out of town on a business trip so was very surprised when she popped in to read on the way to the airport! SO SWEET!

As a reward for the end of the trimester, we always have a snuggle up and read day. It gives the teachers a chance to get the room back in order from conferences and to plan a little for the next week.

 It was a perfectly relaxing way to end our week.
We all had a half day off today WOO HOO!!! so I got some errands done and wrote this post!

Thanks for joining me today for Five for Friday friends! 
You can link up your post or read more at Doodle Bugs Teaching!
 Have a great weekend!
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