Monday, December 31, 2012

Currently: January

Happy 2013!

When I lived in NYC, I went to Times Square for the big ball drop and it was amazing! This year, I am resting at home with a sacked out toddler and, although it couldn't be more different, it's the perfect way to ring in the new year. I am super excited for 2013!

I am linking up with Farley for this month's Currently:

Clearly, I need to finish this bathroom project. I am so excited- I am using curtains for shower curtains instead of a traditional shower curtain and I think it's going to look amazing! Our main bathroom is so tiny, but it is already making it seem more spacious and luxurious. We are repainting it and I am dreading all of the detail that's required in that part of the project- I am more of a roller kinda gal :)

My OLW is something I found on Pinterest and I lovelovelove it:

Happy 2013 to all of you and have a very, very wonderful rest of your break!!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Year's Resolutions!

I'll be honest, I am excited to see 2012 go! It had its many highs, but also its lows and I would love 2013 to be a bit more stable and predictable because I would love to just relax for a bit, ya know?

I am linking up with Jen at The Teacher's Cauldron for her "It's a New Year!" Linky:

In Blogland:
Probably my worst flaw as a blogger is not leaving comments on other's pages- there are so many wonderful and amazing ideas out there, I really want to let you all know how much I appreciate them! I am also working on organizing my posts, chats, freebies, products, all that jazz a bit more. I am concocting a pseudo-blogging plan-- nothing set in stone, just a monthly "big picture" view of what's happening so I can be a bit more purposeful with my time, my blog, and my store.

At School:
Ohmagoodness, I am currently obsessing over Daily 5 Math/Math Workshop/Guided Math/all that good stuff!! Holy moly- I am so excited to dip my toes in the water jump in feet first when I get back! I have been not feeling too jazzed about math instruction this year-- and I am someone who loves math! Since Daily 5 rocks my socks, I am hoping that system in math will, too! I will definitely keep you posted on this little journey of mine :)

At Home:
Ok, I am not gonna lie-- being home with my little girl these past few weeks has been totally and completely wonderful... sigh.... I oftentimes wish she and I could just hang out all of the time and dance to Disney songs and eat mac & cheese.
She was soooooo happy on Christmas morning, I died :)
I would love to really work on balance, balance, balance-- I love being mom and want to not feel so bogged down with errands, to-do's, chores, and the like. I want to really focus on being present with her, letting a lot of that other stuff go, and enjoying the ride :)

Source: via Steph on Pinterest

What are your resolutions for 2013? Be sure to head over to link up with Jen. Oh, and any tips for Guided Math or advice on finding balance are greatly appreciated in the comments below ;)

Happy New Year, my friends!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Best & Brightest of 2012!

I am linking up with Christina at Bunting, Books, and Bainbridge for her awesome "2012 Blog Best & Brightest" Linky Party!

Looking back at this time last year, I could have never imagined that today I would be blogging, selling on TpT, and have a whole new group of the most inspirational friends in bloggy-land! So, I guess you could say that 2012 pretty much encompasses all of my best moments, but I will try to narrow it down :)

I love that my most viewed posts are some of the original inspirations for getting involved in blogging and TpT- they are my tried-and-true products and class systems:

Class Rules & Gestures: These have really changed so much about my class management system and have become a staple in our class on a daily basis. Based on Whole Brain Teaching, these 5 gems are a bit different, but fit my teaching style so well.

Brain Breaks: These are also my #1 seller on Teachers Pay Teachers and the post is my #2 most-viewed (it's a close tie with #1). These were my first items to post for sale on TpT and they have helped keep both my kids and I energized or focused all day.

One my proudest moments was when my #2 TpT Top Seller was featured by the 2 Sisters (of Daily 5 & CAFE fame) in their weekly newsletter. I also was flabbergasted to see my RACK Tracker on NBC News being used by a fellow third grade teacher to help her kids cope with the Sandy Hook tragedy. It helped to know that we, as teachers, help each other out so much- not just with lesson plans and class management, but also while coping after unspeakable events. This is such a wonderful community of educators and I am so proud and thankful everyday to be a part of it!

I am not even kidding when I say that I have at least 500 bloggers to thank for being a daily inspiration! I will definitely say that the one who sticks out the most is the lovely, kind, and amazingly inspirational Kristen of Ladybug's Teacher Files.

Also, Rachel is the one whose Whole Brain Teaching video totally changed the way I thought about lesson delivery and design and re-energized this very tired new-mom teacher ;)

So thank you to everyone for making 2012 memorable and wonderful for so many reasons :) Head over to Christina's blog to link up and share your bestest and brightest from this year!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays!!

Wishing you a wonderful holiday filled with love, laughter, and plenty of R&R!

If you are in need of a good chuckle, here's our little girl's picture with Santa this year. Hopefully the goodies he leaves for her under the tree tonight will change her mind about him :)

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Staying Green During the Holidays + A Freebie

Have you noticed how much waste we accumulate during the month of December?

Our school is eco-friendly and it is such a wonderful value to teach our kids from preschool on up. My kids even compost in the lunchroom- it's pretty cool :)

I thought this quick lesson would be a nice refresher about how they can continue their "green" habits into the holidays, both at home and in the classroom.

First off, there is a super-cute video from the Magic School Bus all about recycling that is set during the holiday season. I think Dolly Parton is even the voice of Miss Frizz's cousin! Here's a nice copy online with no commercials:

I think I will definitely be showing this ASAP because, as it always goes this time of year, I lost my voice this afternoon.... sigh :( Miss Frizz to the rescue!

I made a short and sweet worksheet to go along with this, too:
Fonts and Borders by Jen Jones, Scrappin' Cop, and Kevin & Amanda; Clip Art by Scrappin'  Doodles #58112
I will plan on making a class chart of things we can reduce, reuse, and recycle this time of year using the kids' ideas and some of these resources to help:
Note: Some of the sites above also have some interesting facts about holiday energy/resource consumption this time of year, although I am always cautious about sharing a lot of those stats because I don't want my thirdsters to feel guilty about having their decorations up or lights hanging outside- we instead focus on how we can be kind to our planet by starting new traditions :)

After we brainstorm some ways as a group, I plan on having them fill in their own ideas and color this sheet to take home and share.

If you are interested in this worksheet, I have it on Google Docs HERE or on TpT HERE. Enjoy!

Do you have eco-friendly systems in your classroom or school? Have any good holiday tips?? Leave a comment below, I'd love to try out some new ideas this season :)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Pinspiration: Snowman Soup for Your Students

I hope that you all had a good day back at school. I am sosososo glad we stared RACK Week in our classroom because it was a perfect connection to a Mr. Rogers quote that's been floating around:

Love :) I think this has really helped my thirdsters feel like they are part of the bigger picture of doing good and they have been sosososo excited to "RACK" this week and spread kindness- yay!!!

I wanted to share a fun treat I will be giving my kids on Friday as a part of their holiday gift: Snowman Soup!

I was inspired by this pin, but couldn't find its original source :(

If someone knows the source, please let me know so I can give proper credit :)

This is seriously the easiest thing to assemble and all of the ingredients are super-cheap and easy to find this time of year, so it's a win all around!

Here's what you'll need:

  • mini-marshmallows 
  • Hershey kisses (I chose the holiday ones to make them colorful)
  • hot chocolate packs
  • candy canes (they were out of mini and these are sort of medium-sized, so they still fit in the bag)
  • clear baggies (I used clear Ziploc and they aren't as cute as the inspiration, but they did the job just fine)
  • Snowman Soup tags 

Into each bag goes:

  • 1 packet of hot chocolate
  • 2 kisses (1 red & 1 green)
  • 1 candy cane
  • 10 mini-marshmallows
After I zipped the bag closed, I stapled the tag to the top and voila, Snowman Soup for each kiddo!

I will be giving these to the kiddos on Friday along with mini-books I received from Scholastic last year in a book order (love Scholastic!). I can only assume the kids will have eaten the candy cane, marshmallows and kisses by the end of the day, but at least they look cute now, right? ;)

You can pick up the Snowman Soup FREE Tags on Google Docs. Enjoy!

I hope your week is going smoothly and I am sending out lots of hugs to each of you, my wonderful teacher friends everywhere!! {{xoxo}}

Friday, December 14, 2012

Getting Ready for RACK Week!

If you have been reading blogs recently, I know you have seen so many fabulous and inspiring examples of RACK: Random Acts of Christmas Kindness!

Check out Farley at Oh' Boy 4th Grade's post HERE.

Cara Carroll has a beautiful RACK advent calendar for her family HERE.

And my personal favorite, Judy at Kindertastic's HERE.

It is actually Judy's work that I am using this year for our class' RACK Week-we still have a full week to go before Winter Break, so I needed something to keep us kind and in the holiday spirit for the next five days :) Note: I teach in a public school and we have lots of diverse celebrations, so I changed the "Christmas" to "Classroom" :)

We started talking about this today by thinking about each of the words separately and also by brainstorming lots of ways we could practice Random Acts of Classroom Kindness both in and around our school. The kids were awesome at this and we linked it a lot to bucket filling and how, when we fill someone else's bucket, it fills ours up as well!

I then used Judy's awesome Google Docs to not only download her PDF, but to adjust her Word doc to make some that my kids brainstormed- specifically, writing notes and cards to our office staff, school nurse, custodians, bus drivers, principal, and more.

You know me, I love my buckets, so I made a quick bucket label and laminated the slips of paper to make sure they can be used over and over again.

Next week, starting on Monday morning and going through Friday, as soon as Morning Meeting is over, I am going to have kids pull a RACK idea from our bucket to do that day. They will then record it on their "RACK Tracker" and try to complete it by the end of day. Of course, if they want to do more, they absolutely can, and if they pull a duplicate one from a previous day, they can re-choose. I'm not going to be too strict and force them to do a RACK they don't want to do!

Here's a shot of the RACK Tracker that I'm going to copy onto green paper to feel more festive ;) I am having them do this just to keep their RACK in the forefront of their mind throughout the day and really work on intentionally practicing a different form of kindness each day.

Click the image above to download your free copy from Google Docs
It's pretty simple, but it should do the trick and I am so excited to get this underway!

If you are interested in RACK in your classroom, be sure to check out all of the links above and, if you are thinking you may want the "Class RACK" bucket label and RACK Tracker, download them for free from Google Docs HERE.

Happy Friday and I hope you have a wonderful weekend :)

**Update: I posted this morning not knowing how this day would end... who could have ever imagined? My heart goes out to all of the families, teachers, staff, students, and first responders in the Connecticut tragedy :'(

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Experimenting With 7 Habits of Happy Kids

This post is all about yet another reason why I love the teacher blogging world!

While browsing on Pinterest all summer, I came across a very cool program: 7 Habits of Happy Kids. I instantly fell in love, especially with the very first habit of "Being Proactive"-- aaah, music to my teacher ears!

This program is under the larger umbrella of Leader in Me and was developed my the Coveys (of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People fame). This program features similar habits, but in more kid-friendly terms that are both concrete and effective- I {heart} them all! If you are a part of a Leader in Me/Lighthouse School, do you like this program school-wide? Please let me know in the comments below!

The 7 Habits of Happy Kids are:
  1. Be proactive
  2. Begin with the end in mind
  3. Put first things first
  4. Think win-win
  5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood
  6. Synergize
  7. Sharpen the saw
Some of these may seem a bit odd at first, but the great thing is that each of them come with a tagline and also countless bullet points and descriptors that help kids (and teachers) address the many aspects of each habit.

There are sososososo many resources out there, and I wish I could include them all, but I will highlight a few here and also provide you with some of the links and tools that helped me the most. If you have more, please-pretty-please leave them in the comments! I am still so new to this program, I would love to add more to my collection!

Of course, if you have been reading my blog for a while, you know I am obsessed a fan of gestures with everything, so you can imagine my delight when I came across a YouTube video that put movement to each of these habits:


And then, of course, I had to make posters that fit these gestures (she uses language a bit different from the Covey's and I like it more-- for example, for Habit #4 "Think Win-Win", the original tagline is "Everyone can win", but she changes it to "I win, you win, we win") and included all of the taglines and descriptors.

These are available for FREE on Google Docs.

There is also an accompanying book that is from the Coveys and tells the story of woodland animals showing (and not showing) the habits in their lives. It's a nice starting point and it does have some nice questions at the end of each story for parents, so using it as an at-home resource is a great idea!

Click to see it on Amazon
But, of course, the BESTEST of all resources come from teachers in blogland and TpT :)

Bridget of Little Lovely Leaders has ah-ma-zing resources-- I passed out her bookmarks on Parent Night so they could be in the know about the habits, we have used her sorts for each of the habits, and she has lots of ideas on her blog about how to implement these habits across the school year, including awards and classroom jobs.

The other resource I have loved using is from Jodi at Fun in First. She has a wonderful worksheet set in two versions for each of the habits that is a great way at the end to see if kids grasped what we learned, but also challenges them to come up with their own examples.

This is just the beginning of a program that I know must be incredible to use school-wide!! Even though I only use it in my classroom, I have seen a great improvement in how kids take responsibility and actually know what it means to have a plan and set goals, or be responsible and proactive. So that's the good news about this program- the lessons they teach are so universal, you can do it in your class and it doesn't conflict or usurp any other character ed program you school may be using.

I always try to reinforce the language of the habits when we do read-alouds or when I ask kids to "clip up" for taking initiative or thinking win-win, for example. I hang these posters in the back of our class along the bottom cabinets, as well as near our door with the habit we are focusing on for the week:
Click the picture to download for free from Google Docs
I will then hang the poster of the habit below so kids can see it as they come and go throughout the day. Lots of exposure never hurt, right?

There are so many more possibilities I would love explore both this year and going into next, like read alouds that continue to highlight the habits, more projects, and even role plays to help kids generate ideas and solutions to conflict using the habits as a guide. Leave any ideas in the comments and thank you so much in advance!

I will now leave you with a funny example of how kids can "Be Proactive"- I showed this to my group this year and we just laughed and laughed, all while yelling at the screen :)

3rd Grade Thoughts - Widget
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