Wednesday, December 5, 2012


About three weeks ago I was asked to go to Orlando for a Common Core institute. After getting my husband to agree to play Mr. Mom while I am away, reservations were made. It wasn’t until I went to submit my sub request that I realized that the Orlando trip was directly after the only two personal days I plan to take this year.

Meaning I would be away for SIX days straight.

Meaning I had to write SIX DAYS worth of sub plans.

Then on the day before we left for our fun little family cruise the school was on lockdown for SIX hours due to an armed robbery on the university campus. My class was on our way back from a field trip at the time so we had turn around and spend the afternoon at the park.

I have the BEST parents in my class this year. I made one phone call and had 5 parents there. They brought the kids pizza and drinks. My darlings declared it was the best day ever and didn’t even seem bothered about that fact that we were at the park until 4pm.

While all ended without incident and we had a great time at the park, it meant I had no time to a) write my sub plans and b) get my hair cut. It pained me to cancel that appointment!


I had a great time on the cruise. I was nervous about cruising with the kids, but it was fantastic! We did my two favorite things: sleep and eat!

As soon as I got back I repacked a bag and headed off to Orlando. Tomorrow is day three of the 4 day institute. So far we’ve had a very disappointing ELA presenter and a pretty good math presenter. We’ll see how the rest of the week goes! We hope to be unpacking some standards – hence the title of the blog.

I miss my family terribly, but I have gotten SO much work done! I posted two more items to my TpT store (Student Self Reflection Cards and a Pirate Map Activity) and have one more in the works.  I have wanted to get that done for weeks!

I am honored to be nominated for a Liebster award by the lovely Jessica at Wild About Firsties, but that will have to be another post. I have to go convince myself to grade papers tonight before I go to bed!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Florida Fall Leaves

One of my schools traditions is the annual Thanksgiving Feast. The entire school sits down at once to eat a turkey dinner. As in everyone. They close the office and all.

The idea is wonderful. In practice, it sometimes leaves a bit to be desired. Thankfully due to some…errr…issues with our cafeteria staff this year’s feast was catered by Boston Market. Yum!

I had my Synonym Turkeys hanging in the hallway, but I wanted to make name cards with my class. We have just finished states of matter, so I channeled my inner Girl Scout and came up with these:


We started with a solid (crayon shavings), sandwiched it between layers of wax paper, and added heat until it melted and became a liquid.


There *might* have been a bit of a boogie involved as we acted out how the particles were moving once heat was added.


I’d planned to make one big one and then cut out smaller ones. It didn’t work that way. I also played with the thickness of the cloth on top and the setting of the iron. I ended up using an old men’s shirt and a medium heat to get the desired effect.


In the end I gave each student a piece of wax paper. They sprinkled a little crayon shavings onto their paper and put a matching square of wax paper on top. They watched as I ironed each side quickly. Once they were done “ooh-ing” and “ahh-ing” I let them use a Sharpie to draw the outline of the leaf and write their name.


I am thrilled with how they came out. This is as close as we come to fall leaves here in our part of Florida!  Better yet I have enough left overs to take it home to repeat the project with my favorite three-year-old.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Multiplication Array Chart

I have more things I *should* be doing than I care to admit. I taped a lesson as part of a case study last week and tomorrow I have to watch it with a coach. I created a Nearpod presentation for the lesson and took a bit of a risk. My students’ behavior left a bit to be desired. I am not looking forward to watching the video tomorrow.

I also need to write sub plans and figure out what to wear on camera.

Oh, well!

We are in the midst of our multiplication study now.  I saw this idea on Pinterest and knew I had to try it. I have the best parent volunteers ever, so I recruited help to tape together the squares of construction paper.


I wanted to color code the boxes for demonstration purposes. To fill it in I gave each student flashcards and centimeter grid paper.


The students drew the array that matched the the card and then came over to show me where on the chart it belongs.


The completed chart is posted in the hallway for all to see. I’ve heard more than one 4th/5th grade student comment about our arrays. Mostly things like, “Why didn’t WE do that last year?” and “Oh! I remember arrays!” 

I’ll take that as a good sign!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

"Who Am I?" and A Pumpkin Freebie

I was up late last night entering end of quarter grades in the online grade book and adding items to my TpT store. It is still a slow process, but I'm getting there!

 I added my back to school "Who Am I?" activity. I always do this on the first day of school and post on my bulletin board until after open house. The parents come and try to find their darling. I usually do an owl "Whoooo am I?" theme, but this year I was all about polka dots. I ended up with "Can you spot me?" I was happy with how it came out.

who am I front2


 Yesterday was a hurricane day and it lived up to expectations. It just brushed the coast so we didn't get any damage other than some beach erosion. It was a rough day to be stuck inside with two kiddos that woke up WAY too early though!

Thankfully today is a beautiful day! The sun is shining, the weather is cool(er), and the cranky children I put in bed last night woke up early but refreshed! We've already made banana bread and are making plans for the day. 

On my list of things to do today is a trip to the post office to mail some Halloween Cards I ordered with a Shutterfly coupon code a couple of weeks ago. I decided to create a little note card for my daughter to write on in each of the cards and the result is this Pumpkin Notes Freebie.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Loving my new look!

What a week! I went to Orlando this week for the FCTM conference. It was the first time since my son was born that I have been away from my kiddos! I missed them terribly, but it was a worthwhile experience. (Not to mention I had a hotel room of my own with no human alarm clocks!)

I had time while I was away to e-mail back and forth with Christi about my new blog desgn. I love it! I was not the easiest to work with, but she was great! I would highly recommend working with her!

I also posted (and sold) my first item in my TpT store! I am really excited about that! We did the Pumpkin Project last week in my classroom. My husband admitted last night that it is one of his favorite projects that I do - and he's never been there to see it. I guess my enthusiasm for the activity shows!

Then there is THE debate. My husband works at Lynn University and has been working day and night at debate events. Thankfully his parents are in town from Ireland to help with the kids.

My daughter and I went to work in my classroom this afternoon for a bit while my son was at home napping with Nana and Granda. On the way home my husband talked us into stopping by for a tour of the media center. I was dressed it sweats and not planning on a stop like that, but it was pretty neat to see! I got some great pictures of my daughter waving a flag at the debate site.

So many exciting things to come!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Road to the White House – A Virtual Field Trip

The third and final presidential debate is coming to town in just over a month. With the first debate this week I thought I'd pass on a great resource for teaching about the debate process in the classroom.


My class was fortunate enough to get to participate in the "Road to the White House" program at Lynn University in person.


(I might be a little partial. The handsome Irishman interviewed in that clip is my husband.)

The university has posted his “The Road to the White House – A Virtual Field Trip” for 3rd & 4th Grade on their website. It includes lesson plans, printables, and ideas for teaching about debates in the classroom. He has even linked it to Common Core Standards. It is worth checking out!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Seat Sacks for Under $1

I saw this link on Pinterest last year and loved the idea. I bought a few to use at my reading table and they worked well. As much as I love Home Depot though, I was not crazy about the orange logo in the middle.

This summer I bought a class set for 77 cents each.


Then I consulted my mom and grandmother for ideas. Most people would have come up with a plan first. I like to pretend I live on the edge. (Just kidding!)

I ‘d thought about covering it in fabric. I thought about spray paint. In the end I used acrylic paint and painters tape. It was in my (non-existent) budget.


It took 3 coats of dark blue to cover the logo. I also bought stampers from Michaels and added accent polka dots.


I had 20 of these things spread out all over the room and went around assembly style stamping each color.


Here is a finished product in front of my inspiration scrapbook paper. I love the polka dots!


I’m happy with how they came. I’d had this project on my to do list for months!


The seat sack is just the right size to hold the student’s independent reading book and other small items. They are usually lower on the chair because some of the students didn’t care for the knot of the apron to sit at the top of the chair against their backs.


We have to stack the chairs at the end of the day, but it is easy to slide the empty apron seat sack into the desk for the next day. I’ll count this one as a success!

Taking it Seriously

I have a REALLY long idea list saved on Evernote with blog ideas. (Many mentioned in the post below!)  I'm going to give it a go and try to post at least once a week. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Too much!

I told myself I was only going to work in my classroom for an hour or two. Then one of my friends walked by and I was showing her all the projects I have started. She kindly asked if I thought I would get it all done in time.


I hope so! After that I decided that cleaning the house could wait. My hour or two in the classroom has turned into 5 hours. I am staying until the end of nap time at day care and picking up the kids early to have fun for the afternoon. On the plus side I have almost finished my Home Depot Apron seat sacks. I have pictures almost ready to post. I'm happy with how it has turned out!

Other projects I've started:
  • Replaced fabric on boards with flat sheets so that all are the same color. (One down, three to go. As it turns out this is going to require a bulletin board shuffle. I'm recruiting help. Those suckers are heavy!)
  • Decided to use the fitted sheet to make no sew curtains. (One done, three to go. Need to buy two more tension rods and problem solve how to add a curtain to the back door)
  • Replaced cabinet doors with white board doors (I finally got the boards cut to size and just need to buy the handles and add felt pieces to the back. I love the way they are going to look. This will be a blog post of its own...someday!)
  • Painted old clothespins and sticks (Saw cute ones covered in scrapbook paper on Pinterest and had left over paint. I thought I'd try it, but now I'm not sure what I'm going to do with them!)
  • Started a "Monster Point" goal sheet for students to track their points from Class Dojo. (Still a work in progress. I love ClassDojo and am still trying to figure out how to make it work in place of the old clip chart. I'm thinking of something with graphing and goals and reflection. We'll see how it goes!)
The biggest thing left to do if paint furniture. I acquired a huge cabinet over the summer but it is a yucky mess. I need to make a date with some goo gone and paint and mod podge. The contact paper on my bookshelves has disintegrated over the last 8 or so years. It is going to take an electric sander and more paint. I know I'll be happy when it is done, but I'm still avoiding!

Oh, and I participated in a webinar this morning. You'd think I was looking for things to do. I'd tried out NearPod this summer with my summer school kids and was impressed. They are offering it again on Wednesday and Thursday.

I also registered for EdmodoCon 2012. My students LOVED Edmodo last year. I tried it out late in the year and am looking for ideas on how to do even more. It looks like it should be informative.

My sister-in-law arrives from Ireland tonight. I'm looking forward to spending time with her and the kids. Now if I could only I could get past the crazy to do list running through my head!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Where to start?

I am one of those people who will avoid starting something until I am ready to do it just right. I had a couple of hours this afternoon to work on my to do list.

  1. Start a teaching blog. (Check)
  2. Paint the second coat of chalkboard paint on the reading table. (Check)

Considering it has taken me months to finally get that second coat of paint on I thought I better not dwell too much on what to write for my first blog post! In time I plan to share pictures and such, but today I am going to focus on my to do list and enjoying time to be productive!

Summer school is over for the day and naptime at my kids' day care ends in an hour. I think there are still another couple of projects calling my name...