Chalkboard Freebie!

Last year I added some black chalkboard décor to my classroom to tone down some of the many bright colors I had going on. I firmly believe in a bright and cheery classroom but I think I had gone overboard with all of the colors and it was becoming a crazy over stimulating mess! The black really did tone it down and made those bright colors pop like I originally intended.  If you are into the Chalkboard décor, I would like to offer you my Chalkboard Color Word Posters freebie!  Click on the picture below to grab your copy! Don't forget to follow me on TPT and leave some feedback love!
If you are happy with these, you may want to consider purchasing my Chalkboard Alphabet Posters.
...or my Classroom Leaders/Helper Jobs Chart.
Hope you are having a wonderful summer break!
Be Blessed!

Got Lunch?

If your students must enter a lunch number on a keypad you may be interested in the letter below that asks parents to help their child learn their number at home.
Click on the picture to download it for free!

Project iPads

Thanks to several grants, I  currently have 5 iPads in my classroom. Since introducing them into the classroom, I have used them in small groups and in independent learning centers.  However, it didn't take long for my little smarties to figure out how to download non-educational games and videos to play when they were supposed to be on learning games.  So now I am on a quest for ideas for iPad projects that will keep those little darlings engaged in learning activities using the iPads as a tool rather than a toy.

Here is one idea that I found that kept them on task. Students worked with a partner or two using our jumbo magnetic numbers (flashcards will work just as well) and went around the room creating sets to match each number using objects they found in the classroom. As evidence, they had to take a picture of their sets and include the number in the picture.   

Once the students finished their number sets, I let them exchange iPads with another group to share their number set pictures and check to see that the other group had the correct number of objects in their pictures.

How have you used iPads in the classroom?

Decorating Mayday!

One of my favorite things about being a kindergarten teacher is creating a cozy and fun classroom that is super kid friendly and conducive to learning.  I love using bright primary colors with the little ones but somehow over the years I have gotten carried away and all of the bright colors became too "busy" and overwhelming. An easy solution I found was to add in a black chalkboard theme to tone the colors down a little and I loved it! Here are some pictures of my former classroom that I found that show some splashes of the black.




I love that our walls were painted Concrete Gray because it offered a neutral background for all of those colors and the sink storage cabinets and trim around the doors was red.
Well, now that I got a job in my top choice school, its almost time to start thinking about getting the new classroom ready! I haven't actually seen "my" classroom yet. There are 3 classrooms to choose from but I have only been able to see 1 so far because the floors were being waxed and carpets cleaned.  However, I did take some pictures to start getting some ideas. I was absolutely blown away to find out that all of the classrooms have a teacher office in them! A big office! With lots of storage cabinets!
So this is where I need your help! I LOVE the huge classroom and office but I am not very fond of the colors on the cabinets and cubbies. They were popular colors from the late 80's and early 90's...dusty mauve and hunter green! Not primary colors at all!  Ugh!

Look at that huge classroom and office! I'm in love!
But what should I do? Go ahead with my black chalkboard and primary colors and just hope the pink and green cabinets & cubbies under the windows blend in? Or do I change my color scheme all together and try to go with something that centers around the cabinet colors?  I'm not sure I should ask if I can paint least not yet.  My former principal didn't care what we did to our classrooms as long as the school looked kid friendly....(paint furniture, shelves, file cabinets, wall murals, curtains, etc). Fortunately, he trusted the teachers and as a result, our school had a great reputation of being very well decorated, inviting, and kid friendly.
Do you have any ideas for me?
How about your school? Do you have freedom to paint and/or decorate as you wish?

Cleaning out the Cobwebs!

Anyone out there?

Let me dust these cobwebs off of my little blog and explain how this place has become such a ghost town!  If you have time, grab a cup of coffee or bottle of water and sit down and take a little journey with me! If it gets too lengthy, feel free to take an exit out of here but I just feel the need to share the highlights of the last 5 months of my life! It has truly been unbelievable!

As you probably remember, our lives turned upside down last September when our 16 year old, Logan had a car accident and spent a month in the hospital and 4 more months recovering at home & doing home bound school.  Praise God, he is now completely healed and back to a normal life!

After those stressful months of being stretched to my limits, I felt like I had been isolated and going through a depression. I went from round the clock nurse, teacher, mom, cook, etc. to having my life one needed me. I just felt lost! I knew God was doing something inside of me but I didn't know what. Little did I know, He was just preparing me to shake my life up a whole lot more!

You see, the wonderful man that I married 24 years ago grew up in Florida and has always wanted to move back. But before we knew what hit us, we were married, had good jobs, 3 little boys, a mortgage, and roots! We had planted our roots in the same hometown where I was born and raised and life was good!  Just like I always dreamed of.

Now, fast forward 24 years and you will find us getting close to entering the "empty nest" stage of life. Our oldest has moved out to go to college, the second son just graduated high school and the youngest is in middle school. We have been blessed beyond measure!

Now the important part that I left out is that over the last 10 years or so, the ocean has been calling to my hubby and he has reminded me many, many, many times that he is ready to go back to Florida. I’m not sure exactly how many years I have ignored his request but in the last couple of years that request has become more of a desperate plea and longing. To be completely honest, I truly worried that he would disappear one day and head south without us. He never gave me any valid reason to believe that he would but I began to prepare myself financially and emotionally to be a single mom…“just in case”. Looking back I realize that was selfish on my part just to ignore him and not even consider talking about it for so many years. I just didn’t want to uproot our boys and take them (or myself) away from my family & life as we know it.

Well this past February, hubby was again saying he was ready to move and our youngest began crying saying he did not want to move. For some reason, this time it just irritated me and in frustration, these are the words I said....

“There is no reason to cry!
I don’t want to move to Florida either so if that is what God has in His plan for us then He will open our hearts & minds to the idea and He will change our desires. God loves us and won’t take us kicking and screaming so there is no use in crying about it.”
Why didn’t I just keep my mouth shut?!?!
Within 1 short month, I had applied for and received a Florida teaching license, began preparing our home to sell, searching for a home in Florida, and applying for teaching positions! Now it is the beginning of July and I am packing the last few things and will be making the big move in just a few short days!
You might wonder how did so much change from February until July? The only answer...God!  (Me and my big mouth!) He began changing my heart and answering my prayers literally within minutes and hours of praying! It was completely crazy and actually became quite comical at the number of answered prayers I received.  My coworkers came in each morning asking what God had done to get my attention in the last 24 hours!  Here are just a few examples...
Miracle #1- An open mind and change of heart in me was the first miracle but I'll spare you the details of how that happened! Lots of tears and tissues involved!
Miracle #2- Hubby went to "Sea School" and got his Charter Boat Captains license and has dreams about beginning his own chartering company. So one morning while praying, I asked God how could I let him follow his dream, but yet still give our family stability (his health insurance coverage is now a must for Logan's future complications from car wreck) and a steady income. When hubby woke up 15 minutes after my prayer, he told me that a coworker had told him that there was a job opening in Destin, FL doing his exact same job with his same company!  No loss of benefits or financial security and he can begin the charter boat business on weekends and evenings until it grows and takes off!
Miracle #3- The following morning I was praying again & telling God that we can't move...we have a mortgage on a home that will be paid in full in just a few short years! We can't just walk away from that! Again, 15 minutes later, the hubs woke up & told me that a neighbor stopped by the night before and said "hey, if you ever think about selling your home just let me know because we need a bigger home & yours would be perfect." Ummm, we had told NO ONE we were even discussing a move AND he has never even been inside our home!
Miracle #4- I can't leave my oldest son! He will be a senior in college, will marry someday and have some grandchildren for me. I don't won't to live far from my future grandkids! This one took about 8 hours for an answer... that evening, our oldest sent me a text asking how to get in-state tuition for Florida State University!  When I questioned why he was asking, he responded that he had been considering a change of scenery & fresh start somewhere & FSU had a great business department and a paintball team!
Now by this time it is getting pretty hard to convince myself that these are all just coincidences. Just for good measure (and to "test" God) I decided to write a wish list for what I wanted in a new house. I love my home so He is really going to have to show off to make me happy with a new home. Just to be difficult and a bit of a spoiled brat #1 on my wish list was to be close to the beach (for me!) and/or the bay (for the hubby's fishing pleasure).  I'll post that wish list below...note the highlighted items...those are things our new home has! Looks like I will be putting up my own fence!
I have always doubted if I was hearing from God or not so He made it VERY clear to me that this is His will for our lives.
And the miracles continued! 
Among some of the other answered prayers...

  • I got a job at my first choice school in my first choice grade (kindergarten) AND it is just 1 short mile to the beautiful beach and 1 mile from my new house!!! Did I mention that I found out that I have a 3rd cousin that works at this school?!? We haven't seen each other in 20 years & I had no idea she had moved to Florida!  Small world!
  • My husband did interview for and received a job transfer with no loss of benefits and a few added perks.
  • My little one that always cried at the mention of moving... he now says he will be disappointed if we don't move!
  • BIG MIRACLE! We were able to pay our current home mortgage off IN FULL and also have money for a good down payment on our new home! 
  • The new home was a model home and wasn't available for us to move into until end of November so we walked away without signing a contract and told them we would have to pray about it first. Twenty minutes later we got the call to name our closing date and they would make it happen!
The list can go on and on but I guess this peek into the last 5 months of my life explains my absence and slow responses to TPT feedback and questions. I am certainly not telling you all of these events to boast or brag...I give God ALL of the Glory!  Trust me, I have asked God "why" many times. The only answer I hear is "watch and see". I can no longer doubt that this is just His plan for my life and my steps are ordered by Him!
Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us. Ephesians 3:20 
May I suggestion you write down your wish list for your life?!?  

Chocolate Bunny Egg Hunt

Just in time for Easter week, I put together a couple of math activities to keep my little darlings busy while still having fun!

One of the activities uses plastic eggs and the other just need 2 or 3 dice.

Hope you find these useful!

Where's Spring?!?

Spring Break is coming to an end and I am sad to say that it hasn't felt like spring at all! This has been the craziest weather ever! One day we were enjoying the beautiful sunshine and then in just a few hours....SNOW! East Tennessee...where you can get sunburned and frostbite in the same day! However, being cooped up inside means that I did get some spring cleaning done so all is good.

Don't get me wrong....I do love snow and snow days but I have had more than my share of cold weather and snow for this year. My poor little tulips are just begging to bloom and I am ready for the beautiful spring colors to return to my flower garden! 

All of this dreary weather makes me even more excited for our seeds, plants, and flower unit next week. If you need a little spring cheer, check out this FREE mini flower unit. Its one of my students' favorite units.
While you are there downloading this unit, please remember to "follow" my shop so you can be kept up to date on other new products.

Spring Cleaning!

Oh my, Spring Break is finally here but all I have managed to do is clean & organize! Guess that is what happens when you have cold dreary weather on spring break!

I guess I should start by cleaning the cobwebs off of my poor, little neglected blog. I just wanted to show you my neat little iPad holder that I found at Target. This little jewel is actually a pot/pan lid holder and has sturdy, non slip feet. My 4 iPads fit perfectly (even while in the case) and there is room for 4 more! I have a power strip outlet attached to the back of the shelf so the chargers are always there waiting.  For only $8, it does the job well!

Student Led Conferences

This past week we had our very first Student Led Conferences ever and they went great! I had some really great ideas but after trying to get back in a routine after missing 9 days for snow, 3 field trips in 1 week, Dr. Seuss dress up day, report card testing, and many other things going on I just had to go into survival mode and make it easy this time.

I set up stations and the kids got to play the part of the teacher and take their parents through the stations. 

At Station #1, they "popped" their balloon on the Promethean Board and then played a couple of easy games with their parents to show off their reading skills & let the parents see how fun the board can be!

At Station #2, they completed a simple math task with their parent so they could see how we do math in our math journals each day.   
At Station #3, they looked through their Data Notebooks with their parents and talked about their learning goals & wrote about what they felt they needed to accomplish In order to be ready for 1st grade. 
Their answers were great....
"I need to behave better."
"I need to learn to tie my own shoes."
"I want to read better."
"I should pay better attention more."
...and one little confident one said "I'm ready now!"
At Station #4, there were some easy readers that they could read to their parents using our snake reading pointers.
At Station #5, there was a school climate survey for the parents to fill out & offer feedback about the Student Led Conference vs. Parent-Teacher Conferences.   

Overall, I think our first ever Student Led Conferences were a success but I will definitely be looking for new ideas for next year! Comment with any suggestions please!

Snow Day Sale!

Home again with another 3 snow days and things are so quiet around here! What better way to liven it up than with a Snow Day Sale?!?! You better hurry because the sale will only last as long as the snow does!

Click the banner below to go to my TPT store!
I need a little distraction since my little doggy got out this morning and has been gone for 3 hours! We have searched everywhere with no luck. We are hoping someone has taken him into their home to get him out of the snow & sleet because that did happen one other time. Say a little prayer please!

Don't forget to enter my giveaway while you are at my TN store!

100th Day Mania

Whew! We FINALLY got to celebrate the 100th day of school...a week late....due to 5 snow days. Here is my amazing kindergarten team and I in our cute 100th day shirts! 

We had so much fun! The kids rotate through all 4 classrooms to do a 100th day activity in each! In my class we did the traditional Fruit Loop/Cheerio necklaces by making groups of ten. One of the little darlings from another class couldn't remember my name so he started calling me Mrs. Ten! I was hoping he meant I was a perfect 10 but it quickly occurred to me that every time he put 10 Fruit Loops on his necklace he would ask "am I finished yet?" to which I replied... "choose a new color and do 10 more!"
Yep, Mrs. Ten was very fitting!
I think the kids' favorite activity was our Hershey Kiss Scavenger Hunt. I put numbers 1-100 on the bottom of kisses and then hid them all over the classroom. The kids were told to go find just 1 kiss and then bring it and put it on the 100 chart and then they could go find another. This actually took about 30 minutes to do and they had a ball! When all 100 had been found, we shared them equally.
Speaking of the 100 Chart, the kids enjoyed going on a number hunt to find a hidden picture. Click on the picture below to download your free copy!
I just love the 100 year old Me & Bucket List they completed in Ms. Mason's class. (I think the idea originated from Deanna Jump)
Some of their Bucket List items were so funny!
Ride a skateboard
Have a Car

Make little bracelets
jump out of an airplane
Make MineCraft videos
*Marry a boy...I want to!



Marry a girl
drive a car
be a dad
Overall, the day was a great success and we have 100 days behind us and only 72 more to go! We can do this!
Be Blessed!

Post Office & Mail Unit

Ahhh, February! The month when I truly get to see how much my little one's writing skills have improved since the beginning of the year. I kick the month of February off with a Mail Unit and introduce a Post Office in our classroom as a way to get the kids ready to read write their own  Valentine notes and show off their writing skills.

I purchased a cardboard mailbox like this one from a teacher supply store for $20 about 15 years ago and I have certainly gotten my money's worth out of it. The cute Mail Person dress up costume came from Lakeshore Learning. 

Each morning the kids come in & write a letter or postcard to a classmate. They have to pick a name from a bucket for the first letter of the day to ensure every student gets mail. After all names have been picked, they can write to anyone they choose. When they are finished writing they bring their letter/postcard to me and I have them read it back to me before giving them a "stamp" (flag stickers) to mail it. This helps emphasis legible writing, spaces between words, making complete sentences, punctuation, spelling simple words and sight word fluency. During center time, my postal workers sort the mail by boy/girl and then deliver the mail to individual students' mailboxes. For mailboxes, I have used everything from cereal boxes, empty soda can cartons, and students' cubbies.

 Near the end of the day, we have Mail Call when I set aside time for the kids to check their mailboxes & read their mail. Again, this encourages children to read their own mail by looking for sight words they know and sounding out most of the words. I also make sure to send them each a small piece of mail every day, which they love!

My favorite part of this unit is when they ask me to read their mail for them & I remind them that it is their mail to read and I have them read as many of the words as they can with very little help from always amazes them at how much they truly can read! 

If you are interested in setting up a Post Office in your classroom, you may want to check out my Mail & Post Office Unit by clicking on the pictures below.
Unit also comes with 3 literacy centers that have students reading CVC words (real & nonsense). 
There are also 2 Write the Room Activities included!

Pucker Up for Froggy!

Looking for Valentine's Day Party ideas?  I saw this idea in a Mailbox magazine many years ago and have played it with my students every Valentine's Day since. We start by reading the book Froggy's First Kiss by Johathon London and then take a vote & graph who would or would not kiss a frog. After all of the votes are in, I give each child a set of kissy lips and we play Pucker Up for Froggy which is played like Pin the Tail on the Donkey.

Click on the picture below to get your free copy!

To play: Laminate Pucker Up for Froggy gameboard and print enough copies of the kissy lips for each student to have one.  (I laminate mine to reuse each year). Students are given a pair of lips that have double sided tape attached to the back (I have magnets on mine to use on my magnetic board). Students take turns being blindfolded & spun around 3 times. When he/she is dizzy, I face them towards the frog and have them attempt to give Froggy a kiss. The kids love to see who can get the closest to Froggy's mouth! 

 When everyone has had a turn, I tell them that
now Froggy has a kiss for them!

A Hershey kiss!