Sunburns and Magnets!

What an awesome weekend! My husband's company hosted a food show at the Wilderness of the Smokies Resort & Indoor/Outdoor Waterpark in Pigeon Forge at the entire family was invited to tag along. The weather was perfect and we had a blast and have bright red sunburns to prove it! I had great plans to relax and get some reading done and work on some projects I have started but I had so much playing with my boys in the indoor wave pool and on the huge tube slides that relaxing didn't seem so enticing after all!  On the way home I did find a few minutes to finish up the Magnet Science Stations packet that I was working on. I have done these magnet stations with my little ones for years but when i saw this adorable Magnets clipart from Scrappin Doodles I knew I just had to redo my Stations! I usually demonstrate what to do at each station and my students then spend 5-10 minutes at each station and rotate through all of the stations.  This is a great rainy day recess activity or end of year activity on those days when  planning time gets cancelled & you have no more tricks to pull out of your hat. 

Check them out in my TPT store here!

Test, test, test! Ugh!

Until next year, our kindergarten has been fortunate enought to not be required to take the TCAP (TN state standarized test). I feel so bad for these poor teachers and students that are completely stressed out over this once a year, week long, crazy test that "determines" if the teachers are effective teachers and/or the school is making adequate yearly progress, or if the kids are mastering the required material. In our state and district it is a very big deal and the source of much stress.
Last year the pressure was really on so one of my coworkers suggested we give each teacher (& test proctors) a little treat each day of the testing week to encourage them & let them know we were thinking of them. Did I mention that THEIR students' test scores now affect OUR pay?!?! Now if that doesn't get you to praying for your coworkers, I don't know what will!

They loved the treats and were so appreciative that we were thinking of them and had pity on them. This year I "cute-sied" them up with owl clip art and reworded them so that they can be given to teachers and/or students. Get them here for free! 



Now I wonder that since kindergarten will be giving "THE" test next year, who will encourage us with candy?!?

I also finished a 20 page Pirate themed flipchart for ActivBoard to review many of the skills that we learned in kindergarten. It would also be a great review for the beginning of first grade. Check it out at my TPT store!

Subtraction Bowling

How did I not ever think about teaching subtraction with bowling?!?! I was searching the internet for new subtraction ideas because my little ones just weren't getting it and I came across this idea that was posted 7 years ago. So I borrowed bowling sets from my PE teacher and then created a recording sheet and oh boy did we have fun! They loved it and I think they finally "got it"! Get your free copy here!

What are some of your great ideas for teaching addition & subtraction?


Snakes Are Great!

Please tell me that you have days when your little ones just have NO interest in reading!!!I dread those days when my students lay across the reading table because they are "too tired" to read or ask "is this the right page?" to which I reply..."umm no dear, that is the front/back cover of the book." So what do you do to keep guided reading groups fun & engaging for those uninterested little darlings? Have you thought of using snakes?

One day I was browsing in my favorite teacher store, The School Box, and found these great little snake finger puppets for $2 for a pack of 10.  Now I am certainly not a fan of snakes, but I thought about using them as pointers for my beginning readers. Turns out they are fantastic! The snakes have their tongues sticking out so they make great pointers. You should hear those little ones begging to read now!

OK, so I am sure some of you may say "No way will I have snakes in my room!" I can understand that! So on another little visit to my favorite teacher store around Halloween time, I found these little monster finger puppets. We use these to have the monsters "eat" the new sight word before we read our new books.

Then guess what I found at Easter?!?! Little Easter Bunnies and Chick finger puppets. Turns out that those bunny ears make great pointers also! Now the chicks aren't as great but as long as the little ones are reading I can tolerate them. 

In this picture you will also see Magic Wands ($2 for a set of12 at Target in party section) that we use as pointers and "Whisper Phones" that my precious husband made for me using PVC pipes, PVC "elbows" and a $10 PVC pipe cutter. A total of $30 and he had made enough for the entire kindergarten, 1st & 2nd grade classes!

So these are a few of my "magic" tricks for keeping my little darlings engaged & excited about reading! Now please, pretty PLEASE share some of your "magic "tricks by commenting on this post! Even better...if you are a blogger, check out Charity Preston's challenge to become a 5 star blogger here!

Be Blessed & Share Your Blessings!

Cheater, Cheater, Cheaters!

When I teach my students color words and number words at the beginning of the school year, they often get overwhelmed with so many new words! My solution is what I call "Cheaters". These are little strips of paper glued to construction paper or printed on cardstock and laminated and kept in a central location in my classroom. I then tell students that when they are learning new skills they are not expected to know them without a little help and I am going to let them "cheat" by using my Cheaters while they are doing their seatwork or working in literacy stations. As I notice a child no longer depending on the cheaters throughout the school year, I make a big deal of how smart he/she is by saying "Look at how smart Caleb is! He doesn't need a cheater any more!" And if you have ever been in a kindergarten classroom, you will understand that means that the competition for a compliment is on!!! In just a matter of a few days most of the students are telling me how smart they are and didn't have to look at how to read/spell red or orange, etc. Before you know it, they are no longer using the cheaters and just in time to be tested for mastery of reading these words! 
Get them FREE right here or by clicking on the pictures below!

As a side note, I do have the color and number words posted in my classroom but some students that are easily over stimulated with visual aids have difficulty looking around or up at the wall and then quickly finding their place on their paper once they look back down.

Highway Letters, Numbers, & Shapes

Yikes!!! I am excited and embarrassed right now!  I recieved an email from THE Dr. Jean and she very sweetly let me know that the Highway Letters and Numbers I had on my blog and TPT store were created by a teacher in Copperas Cove, Texas about 7 years and have been made into a book from Creative Teaching Press.

Oh my word, I want to bury my head in the sand!

If you want to download them for free please go to  to download. Like I said earlier, it involves a bit of copying and pasting but is so worth the trouble.


if you love things already done for you AND "cutesy" like I do, go check out the book and/or eBook! The pictures are colorful, ready to use cards and include starting points for forming the letters/numbers correctly. It even has lots of ideas from Dr. Jean for using them! I will definately be buying these soon to replace the black & white free version I have! 

I was fortunate enough to go to two, yes 2, conferences in November & December of this past year and it was at the Dr. Jean session that I found out about the website to download the highway letters/numbers...I must have missed the part about a book coming out with them in it!  So anyway...go buy the book!!! 


Freebie, Teaching Tip, and Home Living Center idea!

Freebie Alert!

I threw these together this afternoon because my kiddos need more work with reading AND writing simple CVC words and this is what I came up with. Of course they are not as cute when copied in black and white but they still do what I need them to do! Click on the pictures below to find them in my TPT store!


Just a random teaching tip...

When I first began teaching I was always afraid that I would give a student my original worksheet by accident and lose the worksheet forever! I kept extra "back up" copies of everything until my filing cabinet was ready to bust and I discovered this handy little tip. I use a yellow highlighter & write "original" on MY original copy. When the worksheet is copied the highlighter does not show up! How awesome it that?!?! This makes it so much easier to keep my original copies safe and sound! It also helps my parent volunteers keep the originals seperated when they are making copies for me. ALWAYS test the highlighter brands in a small area first because some of the cheaper brands will show up a little bit when copied. Yellow seems to be best but some of the other highlighter colors work as well. 

And now time for a new Home Living Center idea...

I'm sure that this isn't a new idea to most of you but when we study identifying the coins, I turn the Home Living into a store. Yep, I take all of those empty junk food boxes and tap or/glue coin amounts on them (1cent, 5 cent, etc), add a toy cash register filled with play coins, and a few paper bags. Students can then write out a shopping list and then "buy" the items from the store. Their partner will then be the cashier and collect the correct coin for each item. They love this and it is so cute watching them correct each other if they try to pay with the wrong coins.  


Well I have procrastinated doing my graduate class homework so it is time to get to work on that and stop playing school now! Do you have any good random ideas to share? If so, leave a comment below... 

Have a wonderful week!

Never Ending Laundry

I have been on Spring Break this week and while my friends have been living it up at the beach and/or at Disney World or taking their mini vacations I have been super busy with Spring Cleaning! Yuck! I have spent the entire week cleaning out closets and weeding out all of the clothes that my boys have outgrown and washing all of the dirty clothes I found hidden in their rooms and in closets. Boys!!! Well the results are in and so far I am up to 9 garbage bags and 2 boxes of things to take to Goodwill with only my husband's closet left to go. Where did all of this "STUFF" come from?!?! Normally I would hold on to it all until the neighborhood yard sale but there is just too much stuff to store in the garage & I want it GONE!

So with all of the laundry theme consuming my Spring Break, I decided it was time to redo and put my Laundry Day Learning ideas for a Home Living or HouseKeeping center on Teachers Pay Teachers. Click on the picture below & get it quick because it won't be free for long! I'm in a giving mood today!

If you download these, please be so kind as to leave positive feedback and it would also be awesome if you could share with others by pinning it on Pinterest! Thank you & Enjoy!

Are You Having An Un"Bear"able Day?

So the end of the school year is near (Praise the Lord) and it is the time of year that I begin to think of all of the things I can't wait to do better or differently next year. The one thing that has been a constant for me in all of my years of teaching is my behavior system....the Bears! All of my former students ask me if I still do the bears & say they loved the bears...that's what they remember most about my class?!?! Really?!?! So here is how it works....


Each student has a set of 4 die cut teddy bears in a pocket chart labeled "Who is Having an Un'Bear'able Day?" Everyone starts with brown on top and then the colors of a traffic light... green, yellow, & red.  If someone breaks a rule (rules are posted close by) they have to pull the brown (warning) bear and put him in the back. If another rule is broken then the green bear is pulled and the student misses 5 minutes of recess or play time. Yellow bear is next and 10 minutes of playtime is lost. Notice the brown bear's smiling face gradually turn to a sad frowny face....just like Mrs. Young's face!

If a students gets on red bear, they get a Sad Red Bear note sent home for the parent to sign and return. They will also lose half of their playtime. During this time they can sit or stand in time out or walk the walking track that goes around the playground. This is a picture of the Red Bear note that goes home...I don't know where this poem & picture originated but I have put in a request with my clip art lady to make me a new sad bear so I can redistribute it.  

Brown Bear- Way To Go
Green Bear- Oops! That's OK!
Yellow Bear- Oh No! Be Careful!
Red Bear- Oh No! Your Behavior is Un"bear"able!

The poem on the Sad Red Bear note says...

Many days I try real hard and do the things I should. 
But today I wasn't trying, my behavior wasn't good.
My teacher thinks I'm special but she doesn't like the way
I kept the class from learning when I misbehaved today.
So maybe if we talk it out, tomorrow will be good
Because you helped me to remember to do the things I should. 

The parents enjoy getting this "gently" worded sad note & it reminds students that everyone makes mistakes. Over the years I have tried other Behavior management plans but none have been as effective as this one. I hate that it is so big and takes up such a large space on a wall (althought it is over an AC unit that I can't put anything in front of anyway) or on a door but there is something about it being public that encourages the students to be on their best behavior since they can monitor their bear color. At the end of the year I send the bears home in a memory book that I make for each child. Those that never pull bears love getting them and the parents of those well worn bears get a kick out of seeing how worn out their child's bears are.

What about you? Do you have a behavior management plan that you absolutely love?

Have a "Bear-y" Good Day!