Thursday, December 13, 2012

Liebster Award

Mandi over at MOORE Fun in Kindergarten nominated me for a Liebster Award - given to small blogs (less than 200 followers) to encourage them and keep them writing.  Here are the rules:

Rules to follow:
1. You must post 11 random things about yourself.
2. Answer the questions that the nominator set for you.
3. Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.
4. Choose 11 other blogs with fewer than 200 followers to nominate and link them in your post.
5. You cannot “tag back” the other blog (oops, too late), but leave a comment on this post with the URL of your Liebster post so I can learn more about you & see who you nominate.


Random Facts:
1. After being born, I have never been a patient in a hospital, never had surgery, and have never worn a cast.
2. I was raised as an only child until I was 10, but I have 6 half brothers and sisters.
3. I've never had a pet that wasn't a cat or dog.
4. The first food I learned how to cook on the stove was scrambled eggs.
5. I still have all my Beanie Babies.
6. I have sung in Carnegie Hall.
7. I once skipped school and stood in line outside at 4 in the morning to see the band Hanson perform 3 songs inside a mall.
8. I think being a twin would be so cool.  My childhood imaginary friend was an imaginary twin sister named Amy, and I want to have twin girls very much, but twins don't run in my family.
9. By third grade, I knew all the words to Bohemian Rhapsody 
10.  I sleep with my feet sticking out of the covers
11. I have never had to share a bedroom in my life, not even when living in the dorm.     
1. What was the first blog you started following?
The first teacher's blog I started following I think was A Cupcake for the Teacher.  I had considered calling my blog that, so I looked to see if it was taken.  Honestly though, I don't think I can remember what blog I started following way back during the genesis of blogging movement - probably something goofy like Stuff White People Like, or maybe a blog of an author whose books I love.

2. What is your favorite thing to cook?
Tortilla Soup - it's healthy, it's tasty, and I just throw everything into a pot and let it simmer for a while.

3. How many years have you been teaching?
I've only been a graduated-from-college, certified teacher since May, but I began working in preschools at 17, so 10 years.

4. What is your favorite website to shop at?
Old Navy for basics that never go out of style, but I recently discovered the dresses on eShakti - they are so cute and vintage-looking!

5. What is your favorite app?
Shazam - I'm the worst at hearing a song and thinking it's someone else when it's not, so I need this.

6. What was the name of your first pet?
I am a dog person.  I like cats too, but forced to choose between the two I pick dogs every time.  By the time I was nine, we had already had 5 dogs - Brandy, Spunky, Shad, Kasey, and Tessa.

7. What is the one thing you would like to have with you if stranded on an island?

Do all of my books count as 1 thing?  I mean, if the island has a supply of food and drinking water, all I need is something to read.

8. What do you like to do in your spare time?
See question 7 - I am a voracious reader.  I'm talking get a new book and finish it in a day, set calendar reminders when favorite authors have a new book coming out, wish I could get locked in a Barnes & Noble overnight kind of reader.  Aside from that, my hobbies are shopping (I am a fierce bargain hunter) and on a smaller scale, crafting and making things for Teachers Pay Teachers.

9. What is your favorite time of your school day?

Since I am a substitute right now, it can vary depending on what class I'm in.  In general, I feel like the clock runs slower between 9 and 10, but maybe it's just because I'm not a morning person and I don't really feel awake and on my game until about 10:30 or 11.

10. Do you do Daily 5 or literacy stations?
Our school (and when I say that, I mean the one at which I currently substitute and at which I wish to get a classroom position more than anything) does Daily 5 in K through 2nd.  I love the way the Kinder teachers especially have theirs set up.  They have created boxes for Word Work and Writing, and when a kid chooses that station, all they have to do is get out the box, and put everything back in when they're done.  It means there are a set number of students who can work at those centers, which helps to control everyone choosing the same thing.

11. Which celebrity would you love to meet?  (Living or deceased).

Audrey Hepburn.  She was beautiful and glamorous, but she also had a huge heart for giving, and wanted a family more than anything.  A kid-friendly biography of her is currently on the list of books nominated for a Bluebonnet Award, and I have been trying to get the 3rd through 5th graders to read it and vote for it.


A word on nominees - I have no idea what I'm doing.  I *think* I'm doing the right research to find people that don't have too many followers or haven't been nominated before, but I may make a mistake, and if that's the case, my bad! 

1. Tim's Classroom Musings - we could definitely use more teacher blogs from a male perspective
2. Delighting in Him
3. Hope in Pain
4. Okay so guess what happened today
5. Miss Lynch's Class
6. Peace, Love, Learn (a fellow Hanson fan)
7. Landing in K
8. Becca
9.  Educating the Child
10. The Classy Teacher
11.  The Loop

Questions for Nominees:
 1. Why do you blog?
2. What is an issue facing education that you are passionate about?
3. Take the letters of your first name.  For each letter, tell something you like/a favorite thing.
4. Do you have/want any class pets?
5. If you're a Pinterest person, have you ever completed something you found?  A craft, a recipe, etc.?  Was it a success?
6. What are 3 of your favorite smells?
7. Favorite children's book?
8. What's your go-to, "I don't feel like cooking tonight" restaurant? 
9. Do you have a favorite meme?
10. Where would the Sorting Hat put you?
11. What super-power do you want?      

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Artistic Visions

I will be the first to toot my own horn and say I have great ideas.  I will also be the first to bring my inflated ego back to reality by reminding myself that my follow-through rate on my ideas is woefully low.  Were I more versed in sports, I could express it as a depressingly low RBI.  Sometimes, though, the clouds part, the chorus sings and I get an idea and enough time to put it down on paper (electronically speaking).  I was substituting a couple weeks ago and the kids were working on map skills, so I thought of an activity that 2nd graders could do to use those map skills on the higher levels of Bloom's, such as creating and analyzing.  I typed it up, saved it, and today I turned it into a product on TpT.

I like creating things for Teachers Pay Teachers - I think it's a great site with a great mission.  Problem is, while I've got the ideas, I've never been very artistic.  My documents are just Word documents, my graphics are just clip-art that someone else has made.  I have steak but no sizzle.  Professional TpT'ers like Clutter-Free Classroom, Miss Cupcake, Amy Lemons, etc...they all have mad graphic skills to jazz up their products and/or someone who contributes the artwork.  I'm jealous, I hope someday to have someone to collaborate with on things like this.  It's not that I'm interested in the money - I don't think it'll ever be more than a hobby/side-project.  It's that this is a community of awesome people and I'd like to be a part of it.  Also, if I'm going to devote time and energy to something, I want to be learning and improving while I do it.

I'd also eventually like to collaborate with someone on a more polished look for my blog.  What I have now is just me spending a lot of time carefully customizing the template that Blogger provides.  Someday I'd like something more personal, professional but still fun, and all my own.

Monday, December 10, 2012

12 in '12 Linky

I'm doing the 12 in '12 Linky Party, brought to us by A Teeny Tiny Teacher and Miss Kindergarten.

12. Favorite movie you watched:
The Lorax

11. Favorite TV series:
How I Met Your Mother - this year I have watched every episode in order twice.

10. Favorite restaurant:
On the Border - I am in love with their stuffed avocado, and their tortilla soup is the best (besides my own)

9. Favorite new thing you tried:
Adventures in decorating - painting my bedroom, putting up a 12ft. curtain rod, building my desk

8. Favorite gift you got:
I received the gift in 2011 but I didn't use it until 2012 - a cruise with my cousin!

7. Favorite thing you pinned:
A recipe for Wassail - took me back to high school and really made it feel like the holidays

6. Favorite blog post:
If I'm picking from my own posts, I only started this blog this year, so I don't have enough posts to pick a favorite.  If I'm picking my favorite from someone else's blog, I would say it would be a tie between every single one of Clutter-Free Classroom's Classroom 360 series.  They got me SO PUMPED to have my own classroom someday.

5. Best accomplishment:
Graduating College!  

4. Favorite picture:
3. Favorite memory: 
 The great time I had driving my grandma to and from a family reunion - it was real quality time.

2. Goal for 2013:
Organization, preparedness, and a thicker skin

1. One Little Word:

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Stuffed with Thankful Thoughts Linky


First of all, I'm thankful for this linky party, because October and November have been crazy busy and I haven't had a reason to sit down and write on this blog in some time.

I'm not kidding when I say crazy busy.  For three days this week, I was at school from 7:30 am until 6:00pm.  That's the length of time a lot of my kids in the after school program are at the school, and I have a new found appreciation for how they must feel at the end of the day.  My bedtime of 9 o'clock can't be much later than theirs, either.  I am going to miss working in the after school program so much that it already hurts to think about it, but getting to leave school at 3:30 and having time to run errands while it's still daylight will be kind of nice.  But I'm thankful for the opportunity to show the staff and admin how dedicated I am to my job, and I'm very thankful for the paychecks working this hard has afforded me.

Here are a few other things I'm thankful for:

1. God's timing
Had my plans at 17 come to fruition (getting into A&M, living with my best friends, etc...), who knows what I'd be doing now.  Instead I spent a few years at community/junior college, transferred into a university later, took a job that I started out loving and then ended up hating and finally came to the after-school program.  The timing worked out perfectly to put me at this school with these kids that I have grown to love as if they were my own brothers and sisters or nieces and nephews.  I know I'm where I was meant to be.
(Without God's timing, I wouldn't have had these kindergartners back in '09, who started me on a 4 year adventure that has led to right now.)

2. My family
We are loud, we speak our minds, our boys aren't making the best life choices but I love my mom, grandmas, aunts, brother and cousins.  I also love my "weekday family" of my wonderful roommates and puppies.

3. God's provision
God has given me more work opportunities than I can even take sometimes, but He's helping me get to be completely self-supported, and I am so grateful.

4. Friends, new and old
I treasure my alone time, it's true, but I'm so thankful to have friends to teach me the aspects of social conduct that I still don't get sometimes (small talk is it's own circle of Hades, I'm sure of it), to listen to me whine and to bounce ideas.

5. Kids
So many jobs are boring, or routine.  Working with kids never is, and for that I am thankful because they keep me out of a rut.  They continue to challenge me to try new ideas.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Halloween & Thanksgiving

It is my favorite time of year - the season that lends itself to cozy sweaters, warm, sweet drinks, and craft projects galore!  I absolutely love October through December, even if the Texas weather does tend to disappoint me on the wardrobe front.  I had 3 great activities planned, but now it looks like I may not get to do one of them because I am sick.   This is the craft we did this past Wednesday.

Collage Jack O'Lanterns

You will need:
  • Magazines
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Construction Paper
Step one: I drew the outline of a pumpkin on my kid's papers because they're not so good at "free-form".  Show them how they will fill in the pumpkin with pictures of orange things.  They should use green or brown pictures for the stems.
Step two:  Turn the kids loose on the magazines.  I make sure to have more magazines than kids so if a kid can't find what they're looking for, they don't have to wait to switch with someone else.
Step three (optional): I don't know about 4th or 5th graders, but my 2nd & 3rdies didn't really understand trimming the picture edge so it fits inside the pumpkin I drew.  I had them cut the pumpkin out so everything had a nice curved edge, but if you go for something more abstract they can leave it as is.
Step four: Have the kids go back to the magazines and look for black pictures that they can use as eyes, nose, and mouth to turn their pumpkin into a Jack O'Lantern

When I say I'm sick, I mean 'prescribed-an-antibiotic-and-steroid, talk-of-taking-chest-xrays' sick.  Its bronchitis that they are afraid could turn into pneumonia.  As a child, I had frequent stomachaches and a sinus infection every time the weather changed, but I have never been this sick.  Instead of spending Friday through today cutting out paper squares approximating 1cm squared, I alternated between bed and coughing up a lung.  Fever's gone, but I think the steroids are giving my brain a strange feeling.  Compared to Friday, however, I've gone from feeling like a 2 to a 6 and that's a good start.  I just wish I'd have gotten the squares cut out so we could do Fraction Pumpkins on Wednesday.

Fraction Pumpkins

You will need:
  • A whole bunch (I mean a ton, start cutting a week in advance) of approx. 1cm squares in orange, with a slightly smaller number in green
  • Black marker
  • Glue
  • Construction paper
Step 1: If your kids haven't yet learned about mosaics, briefly intro the term and show how it is a picture made up of tiny squares.
Step 2: have your kids make a mosaic of a pumpkin.  It doesn't need to fill up the entire space of the construction paper if you don't want, but it should be at least as big as their hand
Step 3 (optional): If they would like, they can go back over some of their orange squares with the black marker to make a Jack O'Lantern face.  Tell them they need to fill in the whole square.
Step 4: Have the children count their squares.  Tell them to write their total squares with the black marker somewhere on the page.
Step 5: Have the children count just their orange squares.  Show them how to write it as a fraction of the whole.  Repeat with green and black squares.
Step 6 (optional): If your kids are old enough to have learned about reducing fractions, ask them to see if they can reduce any of their fractions to a smaller one.

It's ironic in a way, because I was sick a lot as a child and relished the idea of missing school.  I even faked it a lot just so I could get out of it.  Now, 4 days away from my kids and all I want to do is run back up there and hug them (but I won't, I don't want to infect them).  It made me realize how thankful I am for a job and kids that I love, which brings me to my Thanksgiving Craft:

Thankfulness Wreaths

You will need:
  • Leaf Stencils (I don't buy, I make my own using leftover file folders)
  • Construction paper - red, orange, yellow, brown
  • Sandwich/Lunch bags for each child
  • Paper plates
  • Glue
  • Yarn
  • Pencils
  • Pen/Thin black marker
  • Notebook Paper (optional)
The first and last days are the most "craft intensive"  The days in between are short, and just about writing one or two sentences a day.

Day 1:  Your students will need to cut out enough leaves to have one every weekday between the first day of November and the last day before Thanksgiving Break.  Every day, they will reflect upon something in their lives they are thankful for.  They should put all their leaves in a bag with their name on it.  If you want them to be spontaneous, they can think of something new everyday.  If you want them to plan ahead a little, they can make a list on notebook paper of things they are thankful for and fold it up and put it in the bag with their leaves.  They should start right away with their first leaf - name on the back and 1 to 2 sentences on the front.  I like "I am thankful for _________ because _________."  I want them to build the habit of explaining their answers.  They should write in pen or black marker so it's easier to read.

Days 2 through Last: Every day, have the students take out a leaf and write something.  Since November starts on a Thursday this year, Thanksgiving comes pretty early so they will only have 12 leaves.  If you'd like them to do more so the wreath will look more "filled", go ahead.

Last Day: They should each get a paper plate and cut a large hole in the middle.  The ring only needs be about an inch or so wide.  Invite the children to think about how they are going to arrange their leaves and then they may glue them on - name side down, thankful sentence up.  When they are finished gluing and the glue has had a little time to set, help them tie a piece of yarn where it won't show between 2 of the leaves (or glue on the back, but yarn is hard to glue) so they can hang it up on the wall.  Talk to them about how they aren't just thankful on Thanksgiving Day, but that they should be grateful for what they have every day of the year.

So far, I am thankful that getting sick fell at a time when I didn't need to cancel any substitute jobs, that I have a wonderful parent who will take care of my poor pathetic self and make me feel loved and comforted, that even though I don't have health insurance, I can afford a trip to the doctor, and that my fever went away.

Oh yeah, I'm also thankful that in 2 days I get to start listening to Christmas music!  (Yes, I am one of those people who start the music right after Halloween, but I don't decorate until after Thanksgiving.)

**UPDATE - It occurs to me that if we can't do Fraction Pumpkins, perhaps we can do Fraction Turkeys - we can use a pattern for the bodies and the squares can make up the tail feathers!**

Thursday, October 18, 2012


I have a child this year who is particularly difficult.  Like, the most difficult child I've ever dealt with, and that includes twin boys in a preschool who had to be restrained so they wouldn't use naptime as an excuse to throw toys at their sleeping classmates' heads.

The other day, he did something cruel to a younger child and I felt very angry.  This child had something he prized, and my student just took it from his hands and ruined it.  He didn't seem to feel remorse, which was what bothered me most of all.

I did not bring this child before God to ask for guidance.  I did not openly pray that God soften my heart towards this child (I thought it, or rather, I thought that I *should* do it.)  I complained about him to my roommates and fellow instructors who witnessed the behavior.  I allowed my emotions to stop me from seeing that this is a child of 8 years old and instead saw him as a hassle and a problem.  I didn't try to find the good in him.

Today, God showed me the circumstances in this boy's life.  He has things in his life that most of the kids in this school have never even thought about.  I am humbled beyond belief, and am rebuking myself for forgetting that children are not miniature adults.  This child is not a burden, he is a child.  I am one of several people in his life right now who will help shape him into the adult he will become.  I can't expect him to have total self-control, I have to help him learn it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Democracy in Action?

My kids come to school in all different ways - car, bus, walking.  Some of them ride their bikes and some of them ride their skateboards or RipSticks.  The problem is that they come down to the after school program with their method of transportation in hand and think it's a toy they and their friends can play on.  We're big on safety in my program - I don't even let my kids do cartwheels or hang upside down on the monkey bars, so I definitely have a problem with kids riding on moving things.  I've told them over and over that they can't do it, and I went so far yesterday and today as to actually take their boards away from them until they leave to go home.

Today, the kids decided to take action.  They consulted the Preamble to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights (cleverly located in their school agendas) and they all got together and signed a petition asking me to let them play with their stuff.  They were respectful about it at first, and we talked about how these rules apply to what the Government can and can't take away from you versus what the school or Ms. Wendy can and can't take away.  I even used the example that we have the right to bear arms, but that doesn't mean we can bring guns to school.  The were a little insistent that they had rights, but I had to shut them down with a firm, "No."  I was proud of them for trying to get involved and get the rules changed in a respectful way instead of just complaining and whining, but I couldn't capitulate.

Speaking of the government, I've been trying to decide the best way to handle a "Mock Election" lesson.  I think I'm going to do like we did when I was in 2nd grade (The year Clinton was elected, go ahead and do that math) and have the election be on books/authors.  Each grade was given a choice of 3 authors, and the classes campaigned for these authors and then voted on election day.  I remember my class was in charge of campaigning for Marc Brown, but I went against my 'party' and voted for Dr. Seuss.

Problem is, I don't have a classroom, so I have no place to hang up campaign posters.  I have only one class of 22 kids, not 3 or even 6 classes so as to get a wide spread of votes.  Some of my kids are advanced enough to get into Harry Potter, while some still prefer picture books.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

What are you going to do in your class for election day?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Birthday and Remembering

Eleven Years Ago,

I was sitting in English class - my first class of the day with one of my favorite high school teachers.  The day was going normally, but then she got a phone call from her husband.  She didn't usually take calls during class, so we were curious.  As we watched, her face began to fall.  She told him she loved him, hung up, and then turned on the TV.  We watched, horrified, as the planes went into the towers.  I had just been to NYC for the first time 5 months ago, and I was still deep in my infatuation for the city.  I knew right away that things were going to be different.  I threw a hissy fit in my 2nd period class (gym) because the coaches wanted us to dress out and walk the track like everything was normal.  Why didn't they understand?  All I wanted to do was go to a place I felt safe (most definitely NOT gym) and watch the news and try to understand what was happening.  I wanted to go home, hug my mom and grandma and watch the TV, knowing that this event was to my generation what the Challenger explosion or the Kennedy Assassination was to others.  Did I mention that it was my 16th birthday?

One Year Ago,

I was student teaching, in a 5th grade classroom.  None of them were old enough to remember a world before this had happened.  I told them that story, and I showed them a book I put together in the aftermath of this - I took a red folder and some lined paper and I asked my classmates to write down how they were feeling.  I felt like I needed to document this for future generations, just what regular students felt.  Perhaps I missed a calling as a reporter.  Either way, it felt good to bring it out, 10 years later to open up a little bit of the past for a new generation.


I subbed in 3rd grade.  Because I was subbing for the Math and Science teacher, I didn't get to read books like "September 12" or "Fireboat" to my kids.  But I'm glad to know that these kids have resources if they want to know what happened.  For one day, besides July 4th, these kids have a deeper understanding of what heroes really look like, and are proud to be Americans.

On the Birthday note, my kids made me feel so special.  One child's mom brought me flowers.  A few made/wrote me cards.  One even made me cookies!  They swarmed me in a giant hug as soon as I walked into the gym.  One of my girls made me feel so great and she doesn't even know that she did it.   Three of my 2nd grade girls, normally BFFs, were arguing on our way back from the playground.  I was at the front of the line, so I only heard part of the conversation, but I heard a 3rd grade girl tell them that they needed to work out their differences.  She said to them, "Ms. Wendy will always be here to solve your problems.  Talk to each other, talk to Ms. Wendy."  I wanted to cry, it felt so nice to hear that she felt she could (and others should) depend on me.  After a full day of subbing AND the afterschool program, with another full day of subbing AND the afterschool program awaiting me tomorrow, it helps with the exhaustion to be reaffirmed that I am doing a good job.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

September Currently

Listening - I've been watching all the seasons of Friends in order since summer started.  I'm at the end of Season 9 and I don't know what I'll watch after it's over.  Hopefully I'll be too busy substituting to care.

Loving - Meal Planning.  Today I made a calendar and planned out all the meals I'm going to cook for dinner for the next week.  Breakfast is usually something from the microwave, and sandwiches/Lean Cuisines are fine for lunch, but dinner is where I usually fall victim to restaurants/fast food.  I kept it super vague so that I didn't feel locked into something I didn't feel like, but this way I know what I need to buy from the grocery store.  I'm gonna try to cook a little more - maybe try one new recipe every month.

Thinking - I'm back at the job I held during college, and it's starting to feel like I've outgrown it.  My boss agrees - she says she doesn't want me to leave but that she can tell I've moved on.  If I can get enough sub jobs just at my school, then maybe next semester I'll open myself up to a few more schools and substitute every day instead of working the after-school job.

Wanting - a haircut and mani/pedi.  If I had enough money for one luxury service to be provided every day, I'd realistically choose a chef to make me dinner every night, but in my dreams I'd pick someone to wash and style my hair every day.  For someone whose always been tender-headed, I love having a trained professional mess with my hair every day.  After spending a year and a half growing my hair long enough for Locks of Love, I now relish regular haircuts and I crave them.  The mani/pedi just goes with a day of pampering.

Needing - a way to work out.  Now that I'm not in school I don't have free access to a fancy-shmancy Rec center.  I could get an alumni membership, but the idea of trying to find a parking space on campus JUST to work out sounds very unappealing.  I also don't live at a student apartment complex packed with amenities like a work-out room.  I don't have the money for any sort of gym membership, so I'm thinking about walking the track around the playground after work, but soon it will start getting dark earlier.

Favorite things - my bestie Brittan gave me a present with a ton of fun stuff, including the Girl Scout Cookie flavored Lip Smackers that I have been coveting but have been too proud to buy myself.  There's Thin Mint, Trefoil, and Samoa.  I've also loved waking up early enough in the mornings to enjoy a cup of coffee.  It's really a peaceful ritual.  Pretty soon there will be a crisp fall breeze in the air and I can enjoy my coffee (with pumpkin spice creamer) on the back patio in my flannel jammies.  I can't wait!

Link Up! 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

First Week

Well, I survived the first week.  Only 35 more to go.  I'm working after school, so I only get my kids for 2-3 hours instead of all day.  I got back on the sub list, and after I turn in a transcript showing that I graduated, I can get on a higher pay rate. Some highs and lows:

High - I LOVED seeing all my kids again.  The amount of hugs I've gotten has been astronomical.
Low - I'm already having trouble with a kid who assumes he gets to follow a different set of rules than anyone else.
High - I already got asked to sub, the teacher said, "We all need subs but I wanted to call early to make sure I got you."
Low - Have a new kid with ADHD, trying hard to have patience with him.  Any tips or tricks would e appreciated.  I think I'm going to give him some sort of "Fidget" so he's not constantly talking over me.
High - Had a parent tell me their kid was so glad to get me as their ESD teacher this year.
High - the daily affection I get from my little boy with Downs.  I missed the way that kid hugs you and latches on like a monkey =)

How was your first week back?  Anyone who doesn't start until after Labor Day?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Freebie Friday

I'm so super new to making things on TpT, and without having a specific classroom and grade to work with, I haven't had as much inspiration to create new things.  One of the things I'd like to do the next time I go home (my grandma's house is always home) is grab my binder from student teaching and try to recreate the things I made while I was doing that.

But it is Teacher Week and it is Freebie Friday, so I'd like to share with you my normally free item from my store, as well as one item I'll make free for a 24-hour-ish window.

The Boggle Bakery Cupcake Letters

Boggle Bakery - Cupcake Letters (Uppercase)
I know that whatever age my students are, I want to feature a Boggle board in my classroom.  For kindergarten, it may be a simple 4X4 board without the less common letters like X or Q.  While I won't go completely overboard with the cupcakes in my classroom theme, this felt like a nice way to include them in one small area.

Because these letters are used for Boggle, I don't have a separate Q.  It's combined with a U just like the real game.  

Cupcake Clip Chart
Classroom Management - Cupcake Clip Chart
While I have mixed feelings on the Clip Chart (see my post about classroom management), I have seen them in action to know that they do work for many classrooms.  I thought this was another place where cupcakes could be included without taking over the entire room like curtains or a wall border would do.  I have also seen a chart similar to this used on young students as a tool for them to evaluate the quality of their work. (We did our best work, we would rate ourselves at sprinkles.  If we did good work but maybe not our best effort, we'd rate frosting, etc...)

As the newest product in my tiny little TpT store, I'm offering the Cupcake Clip Chart for free from now (around 4pm) until tomorrow around the same time.  PLEASE don't forget to leave feedback for any item you decide to get! 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Therapeutic Thursday


I wish I was one of those people for whom "down time" still meant getting something accomplished.  You know who I'm talking about, the people who say "Doing dishes relaxes me."  Even crafters have a product to show at the end of their "me time".  Work out during your free time?  You've probably got a great body to show for it.  For me, the only thing I accomplish when I want to wind down is taking things off of store shelves and putting them in my home.  Shopping is my cardio, and my happy place.  It doesn't matter if it's clothes and shoes, dishes and wall art, or even office supplies - I like the thrill of hunting through the clearance section and finding the best deals, or finding something that is unique and will garner a lot of attention.  My go-to place is Target, but I also love discount stores like TJ Maxx and Ross.

The other place I spend most of my money feeds another habit - Barnes & Noble.  I've mentioned this before, but I am always in the middle of a book.  Sometimes I'm re-reading an old favorite (Harry Potter, stuff by Jen Lancaster or Mary Kay Andrews) and sometimes I'm in this place of waiting for one my "my" authors to come out with their newest and I have to try out new people.  That's how I ended up reading every. single. book. written by both Kristin Hannah and Elin Hilderbrand.  I didn't like all of them, but both ladies have at least one book that has joined my permanent collection.  I love the library where I live because they're great about ordering new books and getting them on the shelves really quickly.  Currently, I'm re-reading the books of the Cousins' War series by Philippa Gregory (she of The Other Boleyn Girl fame).  The fourth just came out, so I bought books 1 and 2 (already owned 3) and am starting at the beginning.

My last favorite activity?  Sleeping.  I am a world-class sleeper.  I have sleep apnea, so the sleep I get is not always top quality, but I can sleep for hours and hours if you'd let me.  I'm talking like, sleep in until 11 AND take a nap AND go back to sleep at 11.  Weekends, I am probably asleep more hours than I'm awake.

You may notice there's a big one missing that a lot of other people will say - TV.  TV is not always relaxing for me.  I get emotionally invested in the characters, and I'm not watching TV so much as I'm checking in on people's lives.  These people just happen to be Spencer Hastings or Sheldon Cooper.  The only kind of reality TV shows I like are the ones involving houses (HGTV) or where people get makeovers (What Not to Wear, How Do I Look).  I enjoy TV, I do, but if I've had a hard day and I need to unwind, the TV is not the first place I'll go.  

Are you one of those annoying (I say that because I'm jealous) people who get stuff done when you relax, or are you satisfied just converting Oxygen into Carbon Dioxide?  Let me know and link up!


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Where I Teach Wednesday


I don't have a classroom of my own yet, so I'm going to wax poetic on my dream classroom.

Room: There would be space enough for the tables (not individual desks) for all the kids, floor space for "meeting, and a nice sized library/reading area/loft.  There would be a lot of natural light from all the windows.  It would have a SmartBoard.  It would have generous storage space and lots of cabinets.  It would also have a ton of bulletin boards.

Furniture - a loft, bookshelves under the windows, with a window seat.  Maybe balance balls instead of chairs - it would be interesting to do action research on something like that.  I'd like a nice wide teacher's desk with lots of drawers.

Technology - I already mentioned the smart board, and at least 4 student computers.  A document camera, and maybe a classroom iPad or Nook.

Classroom theme - I'm planning on using cupcakes in many places, but sticking to a color scheme like brown, pink and blue more than anything else to make a cohesive look.  I might incorporate polka-dots because they remind me of sprinkles, but only in those colors.

Organization is key for me.  Everything needs to have a place, and they need to go back in that place when they're done.  I can't stand a cluttered desk, messy cubbies, and drawers that are so stuffed with junk they barely open.  I'd like it if someone comes into my room and asks to borrow something, and I can respond within 3 seconds whether I have it and where it is.  

My library will be well stocked - but I'll probably do what a lot of teachers do and not put every book I own out at once, but rotate them so things feel fresh.  The books will be leveled, and there will be a book hospital.  There will also be a bulletin board for book reviews.  I have a ton of book buddies - thanks to Kohls and Barnes & Noble, I have a whole cast of stuffed animal book characters.

Now, I know that there is no perfect classroom.  I know what the classrooms at the school I love are, but every building, every room is different, and I will have to make the most of what I have.  Most of all, I want to have a room that makes the kids feel safe and excited to come to school.  I want kids to want to be in my room.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Technology Tuesday

Well this one is a little harder - I don't have a lot of tips, technology-wise, because I'm new to so much of this.  I can't give any help on making your blog look nice because I just use the editor tool in Blogger.  I've only made a few things for Teachers Pay Teachers, and I do them all using MS Paint and Power Point, turning them into PDFs.  I get my free fonts off of Pinterest.   I suppose I could just tell you about some of my favorite scholastic-related websites.

If you don't know about WorldCat, let me introduce you.  WorldCat is an online library catalog that can help you find what library in your area has a particular book.  School district libraries are not included, but city and college libraries are.  Often times, teachers are eligible for a TexShare card that allows you to check out books from many of these libraries.  Talk to your local librarian about the card.

I. LOVE. LOGIC PUZZLES.  I got hooked on them in Eureka (that was our elementary school G/T program), and this website has some great ones.  I think I've done almost all of them, and some of them are easy enough for 4th and 5th graders.

Came across these lit-circle extensions projects while looking up something for a Language Arts class.  I really like a lot of them, especially the "Jackdaw", I think it could be a really neat, abstract group project. 

I was trying to get more into writing on my personal blog, and I turned to these creative writing prompts.  I'm actually pretty proud of the story I wrote from prompt #4.  They're not all winners, but there are some good ones.  I really want my students to try the ones where you have include certain words (like prompt #11).

Monday, August 20, 2012

Off to see the Wizard

Lately I've been thinking a lot about self-esteem.  I've been thinking about getting kids to believe in their value and see the value in others so they treat them with respect and kindness.  You know that thing Aibileen Clark says to Mae Mobeley in The Help - "You is kind, you is smart, you is important."  Each of those traits matches up with a character in The Wizard of Oz - Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Lion.

You is kind - you have a heart to love and you deserve to be loved.  Your heart wants to love other people, it doesn't want to hurt them.

You is smart - you have a brain.  You have thoughts that are your own, and they are valuable and worthy of being shared.  Other people's points of view are valuable and worthy of being considered.

You is important - if you believe that you are important, than you can find the courage to stand up for yourself and make your voice heard.  Other people are important, and you shouldn't put them down anymore than people should put you down.

Each trait then has an icon that matches it - a heart, a light bulb, and a medal.  You can talk to the whole class about these traits and have them displayed somewhere in the room to refer back to.  When a student shows these traits to others, you can give them a little award shaped like that trait.

Maybe it's a little sappy, a little corny, but it's been stuck in my head ever since I saw someone's blog that had a Wizard of Oz theme and featured those three symbols.  I feel awful that I can't remember whose blog it was, but I have looked at a LOT of people's classrooms lately and it's all jumbled together.  If you think you know what blog I might be talking about, let me know so I can link to them. 

Must-Haves Monday

It's Teacher Week over at Blog Hoppin', and that's a great thing.  Why?  Because ever since I didn't get the job, it's been hard to come up with motivation to write, and this gives me a whole week of prompting from which to work.  Here are my Monday Must-Haves!

Coffee and breakfast - whether it's the almighty Starbucks, McDonald's or just a cup from my one-cup coffee maker, caffeine is key.  Since I am in Texas, there are days when even early in the morning it's just TOO hot for coffee, so I opt for a giant vanilla Dr. Pepper from Sonic instead.  I pair it with something small that's chock full o' protein to start off my day.  I love breakfast foods, but the earlier I wake up, the less I want to eat, so I force myself to have something (usually a microwaved breakfast sandwich) with meat and cheese because sweet stuff is out of the question.  I'll snack at some point in the morning to get me through until lunch, and that's usually my biggest meal of the day.

Calendars - I am terrific at remembering random facts, song lyrics, a piece of information that someone gave me in a seminar 3 years ago.  I stink at anything involving a number, so important dates fall right out of my head.  I keep 3 calendars - a dry-erase, month-at-a-glance calendar on my desk (for seeing the whole month), a purse-sized calendar in some pretty pattern (this year's model is from Barnes & Noble, but I am so in love with the Erin Condren ones), and my Google Calendar to provide me with reminders in my phone and my inbox.  During my methods classes, I would color code my paper calendar by class, Math being blue, Language Arts being purple, etc...  Organization is absolutely essential to my day, and it made those weeks where I had a major project due every day look a little more cheerful.

Books for Pleasure - I need to always have something to read.  There's generally a book in my purse, at least 2 or 3 in my car, probably even one in my "teacher bag".  When I am not in the middle of a book, I feel a little stressed because I have no escape from my day to day life.  Problem is that I am a crazy-fast reader and finish a book in less than a week (when I'm super busy) or even a couple of hours (when I have nothing to do).  I often illustrate this point with the story of how we went to San Antonio for my best friend's birthday the same weekend that the 7th Harry Potter book was released.  We drove to a San Antonio Barnes & Noble to wait in the midnight release line, but the other half of our group ended up finding the book at an HEB (we need those in Dallas, stat) without having to wait in a line.  Despite the trips to the River Walk and Sea World and all other birthday festivities, I managed to finish that book before we checked out of the hotel on Sunday.  This was an extreme case, if it were any book but HP I would have waited until the weekend was over.  I go through books fast and am reluctant to try new authors/series on the recommendation of someone else.

Brother PT-1090
My last Must-Have is a label maker.  I actually don't have one right now, it broke a while ago and I've been too busy/broke to replace it.  I love to file things and put things in boxes with lids and store them out of everyday sight, but I need to know that I can find them quickly.  I could hand write labels, obviously, but I like the uniform look of the label maker.  Plus, you can print a label inside of an alligator!  How cool is that?

What are your must-haves?


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Mea Culpa

I didn't go crazy and tell everyone when it happened, but last Friday I had an interview for my school, the school I've been at for the past 3.5 years in some capacity - after-school program/observing/subbing/student teaching.  It wasn't a classroom position, they were looking for someone to be a teacher's Aide for two little first grade boys who need one all day, every day.  One of the boys I know well, from the after school program, the other I don't know at all.  I was excited, because it was a foot in the door - the lady who did it last year got her own classroom this year.

However, nearly a week has come and gone with no word.  The school had staff development today, so that pretty well tells met that they decided on someone else.  I'll be going to back to my after-school job and substituting during the day.  I'll make enough money (though I won't have benefits) and I'll still get to see all my kids, which is what I wanted.

I've never been great at saying goodbye to people.  I've never been great with change, period.  I like to settle down, put in time and effort, and form long-lasting bonds with people.  I think it makes me very dedicated to this school and these kids, but it came at the cost of me getting a job.  The fact is that the thought of working at any other school and saying goodbye to my kids made me sick to my stomach.  I didn't apply elsewhere, I didn't send out a million resumes and email principals because I wanted to work at this school and be with these kids more than I wanted a classroom of my own.  I didn't see how I could go on interviews and act like I wanted to work somewhere else when that wasn't true.  Not to mention, it would have been so hard for me to turn down a job if I had been offered one.

The fact that I don't have a job somewhere else is my fault, because I was cowardly, and I accept that.  I'm going to do whatever it takes to support myself, I can go as far as working 3 jobs (substituting, after-school, my old night job) plus babysitting and house-sitting on the weekends.  I'm going to be alright.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Cupcakes for Sale!

Teachers Pay Teachers is putting on a sale tomorrow and Monday!  You can get all my products for 20% off, and then another 10% off that with the code BTS12 - a savings of 28%!  You can get 5 out of my 6 products for less than $1.00!  Stuff like:

Cupcake Word Wall Letters
Cupcake Word Wall Letters in my TpT store - $1.00
The money for my classroom economy - Cupcake Bucks
Classroom Currency - Cupcake Cash $1.00
and my Cupcake Clip Chart for classroom management

Classroom Management - Cupcake Clip Chart $1.00

Thursday, August 9, 2012


So the day that I decide to make a 'Lined Paper' Tee is the day that I see a Linky Party about Teacher Fashion.  I don't believe in coincidence, so call it anything but that. 
1. Tell me your favorite store(s) that you like to get your "teacher's fashion".
I love Old Navy for basics (my favorite khakis come from there), and I browse the Target clearance racks pretty much weekly.  Beyond that, I love Torrid for super cute "Wow" pieces in larger sizes.
2. What are some of your favorite accessories?
I'm not huge on accessorizing, maybe a long necklace and my watch.  I do, however, end up with a lot of things hanging from my lanyard - a funky pen, a ring from the top of a birthday cupcake, a beaded bracelet that can only fit on someone smaller than 4 ft tall.  As far as bags go, I LOVE the cheerful, bright prints on Lily Bloom bags.  My last 3 purses as well as my big "Teacher Bag" have all been by that company.
3. What type of shoes do you teach in? (i.e. heels, flats, wedges, etc.)
I'm all about flats.  I keep thinking I'll be brave enough to try a whole day in wedges, but I have yet to do it.
4. Do you have a "go-to" item in your closet? (i.e. sweater you wear weekly, shoes you wear daily, etc.)
Target has these "Boyfriend V-Neck" tees with the little pockets and "Long & Lean" ribbed tank tops - I own about 7 different colors of each, and when I can't figure out what to wear I make some combination of the two of them.  The tees fit nicely in the morning, but by the end of the day that V dips pretty low, so a tank underneath is necessary for me.
5. Have you ever had a fashion "uh-oh" at school? (i.e. heel broke, button popped off of blouse)
During student teaching, I realized halfway through our Valentine's Day party (at which several parents were present) that my tattoo (a simple shooting star) on the back of my left shoulder was completely visible, thanks to the type of shirt I was wearing and the fact that my hair was up in a ponytail.  If anyone else noticed, they didn't comment.