Friday, November 30, 2012

Freebie Friday Gingerbread Style!

Thursday was day 4 of Gingerbread Week! We did The Gingerbread Cowboy which was actually a gift from the Arizona governor a few years ago when I taught out there in the desert...random fact, I know. The kids just can't get enough of gingerbread week! One kid asked if he could bring his gingerbread train to share as a snack. Sure! I love that idea! Why not?!

Next we made a chart to compare the different features of each gingerbread story (who made him, what was used to decorate him, who chased him, and who ate him/her if anyone).

The other day I posted this freebie, but not the craft that went with it. So here is a pic of our project, plus a repost of my gingerbread freebies this week in case you missed them.

Here is the *freebie* shapes/counting page that went with it.
I also posted this little goodie on Monday if you missed it. It works for K-2 and all my students benefited from it, even the older ones.
Image from fabulous KPM Doodles
If you'd like the rest of my kinder gingerbread stuff, you can find it in my TPT store. It has 2 emergent readers, 2 matching sequencing activities, 2 character maps (gingerbread and fox), and a coloring/following directions page.

My extra little tidbit of the day was teaching capacity. My little guys were given 1 cube and asked to predict how many of them it would take to fill up various measuring cups, and real cups. I even stole a cup from a kid's lunch box so I'd have a big one to use for the activity. Hehehe. He loved using his own cup. My kids were rocking the academic vocabulary! Estimate, measure, compare... They got it! Yay! I love kindergarten sponges! They learn everything!

PS~ Thank you to all of you who made my TPT store a big success during the big sale! I'm almost to 100 TPT store followers!

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Lisa and the Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day!

Today was one of those days where you think it just can't worse, then it does! Be warned, there will be venting in this post! Plus some very loveable kid reactions to my bad day.

First I woke up at 4:00 am with a migraine...the kind where I should call in sick. But of course I didn't. I never call in sick because it's too much work. I had a shadow (potential student since I'm at a private school) and I didn't want to miss it and have them add a crazy kid to my class without me there to argue it. I took double meds and went to work anyway.

My shadow made my worst student look like a saint! He literally spit in my face! Thankfully I was at a reasonable distance, unlike my buddy the school counselor who even got kid spit in his own mouth. Eww!! Let's not forget the screaming, tackling me over a glue bottle, and flicking the lights on and off excessively. Oh and running away! Did I mention I went to school with a MIGRAINE?! I sucked it up and pretended everything was fine. I gave my regular students tons of praise for their awesomeness and went on with my day when he left before lunch time.

Then came the next twist... I got a cryptic email from my mom and asked another teacher to cover my class for a minute while I placed a call. I found out my mom lost her job again. She was out of work for 3 years when the economy crashed and I moved home to help her. This new job was a chance for her to get back on her feet, and me to get out on my own again. And then today happened. I was in tears! We live just outside of San Francisco and two people on a teacher salary here sucks. Doable, but sucks.

When I got back to class one of my little sweetie pies could tell something was wrong. He gave me a big hug and asked if my head was hurting really bad. I lied and said yes, that's what's was wrong. I told him his hug made me feel better and he gave me another. Such a sweetie!

I brought mom some Cold Stone Ice Cream after work. When I got home, I realized I left the thing I REALLY needed to laminate at school! Looks like I'm bringing my laminator to school in the morning! I changed into sweats, and was happy the day was over. And yet, it wasn't...

I'm house sitting for my sister and taking care of her dogs. I went to go inside and realized I don't have her key! I presume I left it on my table at work along with the things I really needed to laminate thinking I wouldn't forget them if they were with my key. I was freaking out and began crying...again.

Thank goodness I'm friends with all my sister's friends and was able to call them all to find out who had the other spare key! I drove to her friend's gym in the pouring rain so the dogs wouldn't starve tonight.

The day is finally over and I'm now sitting with ice cream, wine, and relaxing music. Thank goodness tomorrow is Friday! Oh, and I'm getting my haircut and I adore my hairstylist, so that will be a very nice end to a terrible week!

If you are a super loyal follower and read all the way to the end of this terrible venting post, THANKS!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Gingerbread Week Day 3 with FREEBIE

Today's book was The Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett. The kids loved it, and started to see the pattern of the story having little "windows" in the margins to see what else is happening in the background of the story, such as the boy making the gingerbread house.

When we were finished the kids read my emergent reader "Gingerbread Friends" and the corresponding sequencing activity. I love that they are getting to be such great emergent readers that I can walk away and get something else ready while they read together. So much progress since the first day of school when the youngest ones couldn't read a single word!

Next we made our own gingerbread man out of construction paper and foam shapes (squares, circles, ovals, etc.). The kids traced the gingerbread outline onto brown construction paper, then cut it out. Next they put on foam shape stickers to give it a face, feet, etc. I saw this on Pinterest, but I couldn't find the printable, so I made one! When the kids were done, they had to count each shape and label write the number on the correct line. If you don't have foam shapes, you can draw the shapes on the board as examples, then have the students draw them with crayons or markers. I'll take pics of ours tomorrow. I was rushing out the door today. You can download the freebie below!
Gingerbread Man image from KPM Doodles
For those nice enough to nominate me for a Liebster... I got nominated 4 times I think, maybe even 5 ;) I'll work on answering more of your questions this weekend! It's nice to have so many people think of me for the nomination!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Gingerbread Girl Day! Meeting Sensory Needs in Fun Ways!

I tied a kid to a chair today... only in a SPED class can you get away with this and not be in trouble! I've dreamed of doing this many times... this was the first time it was actually justified (i.e. I won't get fired for it). LOL! See the story below.

Today was Day 2 of my gingerbread unit! I'm loving it just as much as the kids! Today my kids chose The Gingerbread Girl because one boy had already heard the story and the other kids were excited to hear the twist and figure out how she doesn't get eaten. They were very giggly at the idea that she tricked the fox this time.

Then we did a Venn Diagram AKA Double Bubble to compare The Gingerbread Boy and The Gingerbread Girl. I was happily surprised at how well my youngest ones understood the graphic organizer. One of my kindergarten boys was actually better than my second grader when it came to figuring out what to put in each section. The kids were really excited to help me fill out the chart.

Lastly, the kids all drew themselves as a ginger-person. I gave mine blue hair :) We also drew our gingerbread houses and decided what creatures were chasing us. I was chased by a hungry zebra! There were also gorillas, and lions! Oh my!

One of my little guys is starting to learn how to make better choices. I've been working on teaching him to meet his sensory needs in good ways instead of troublesome ways (touching/grabbing people, squealing,, etc.). One thing his OT sent to school was a resistance band. I put it on the legs of his chair, and he kicks it with his feet. This really seemed to help him stay in his chair, and he didn't touch his peers as much either.
Sorry it's a little blurry- Red Resistance Band on bottom
The next thing we've been working on is teaching him how to ask for tummy time. He gets to lay on his tummy with a clipboard on the floor to do his work instead of being stuck at the table. He surprised me by remembering to ask for the weighted blanket during today's tummy time. I laid it on his back and he was SOOO focused! This kid really struggles with sitting still, and he was completely motionless with the exception of his pencil writing!

Later in the day he started to get wiggly again, but I could have him do tummy time when he was sharing materials with his classmates. So I tried something silly...but it worked and he enjoyed it, so that's all that matters!! I strapped him to his chair with Velcro! HAHAHA!

I should explain...I reminded him how awesome he did when he used his weighted blanket earlier in the day, and ask if I could try something. He began to giggle when he knew I was up to something. He agreed, so I put the blanket around him while he sat on his chair and connected the Velcro! I learned long ago the blanket is too big and heavy to keep from falling off a tiny lap. Don't ask me why my blanket has velcro... I inherited it that way.

The results: The kid did awesome! He stayed on task (a small miracle!), asked super-duper politely anytime he wanted something out of his reach since he couldn't get up, and it was far less distracted by his peers than he normally is.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Gingerbread Boy Activities in Action! Cyber Sale Thanks!

The Gingerbread Boy was the story of the day! My favorite kid quote: "So if the fox ate the Gingerbread Boy, does that mean he's going to poop him out too?!" Despite the giggling, I'm fairly certain that little 5 year old was completely serious because he seemed a little annoyed that I didn't answer him. Too funny. There were lots of giggles!

We are doing some serious book work with the Gingerbread books. There are several books and several fabulous concepts to pull from them. We will do one book a day, along with my mini unit of related gingerbread activities.

The Books:
  • The Gingerbread Boy (don't remember the author, but it's the 1975 version at Barnes and Noble)
  • The Gingerbread Man
  • The Gingerbread Girl
  • The Gingerbread Baby by  Jan Brett
 The Fantastic Teaching Points:
  • Sequencing
  • Compare/Contrast
  • Character Map
  • Summarizing/Retelling
Yesterday I posted my brand new Gingerbread set of emergent readers and sequencing activities. They were all a huge success!! I was shocked at how well the kids figured out the character maps because we've never used them before. The kids instantly understood and I hear them using words like "describe" in context without prompting. I might have done a little skip and a jump in cheer! You can pick up the Gingerbread activities here!

The kids were also super excited to see the author of their emergent reader was me! They felt like the most special kids in the world when I told them I wrote a book just for them. I really like how well it worked and I am able to implement the sight words I want to go with our themes/reading units each week. I think I may be writing a lot more of them soon! I see a Santa book coming very soon. Is there a theme or set of sight words you'd love to see in an emergent reader? Just let me know! I had a lot of fun making these books!

Below are pics of our character maps (located in the gingerbread pack), or yesterday's post for the free gingerbread boy.
They came up with all the ideas, I just helped on the spelling

My fox on the whiteboard, not too shabby!

Cyber Monday was a HUGE hit in my TPT store! This was my best selling day ever!! I've never sold so much in a single day! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!! You guys rock! If there is anything you'd like to see added, just send an email to

Tuesday is the last day for the big sale! Don't forget to enter the code CMT12 for the extra 10% off on top of my 20% discount on everything!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Gingerbread Man Mini Unit with FREEBIE! My Big Sale!

I was a busy teacher tonight! I spent my evening making a new mini unit! Every year I spend 1 week on each December holiday (Hanukkah, Kwanza, & Christmas), but this year we have 4 weeks after Thanksgiving instead of three. I decided to begin with a Gingerbread week before jumping into the holidays. I made some activities for my little guys that I thought you would enjoy.

They are now available in my TPT store just in time for tomorrow's big sale!! Please let me know if you would like to see anything added to the collection. I also have these images in color, but I thought black and white would make for cheaper and faster printing.

My biggest pet peeve is when I can't make an emergent reader double sided! I made sure these readers can be printed on both sides to save paper. Just print, cut in half, then place the pages from the top half on top of the pages on the bottom half. Then staple it all together. These 8 page stories only use 2 sheets of paper!

This set includes:
  • 2 emergent readers I wrote
    • 1 original "I see" story
    • 1 gingerbread boy simplified story with basic sight words
  • 2 cut & paste sequencing activities to match the emergent readers
  • 1 following directions coloring page
  • 2 character maps (gingerbread boy & fox)
Here is a little freebie for you from the set!

Gingerbread images from KPM Doodles!

Here are some new items in my stores, plus some popular favorites! These links will take you to TPT, but they are also available on TN!

 Kinder and 1st Common Core Math Records are shown, but K-3 can be found in my stores. I also have Common Core Language Arts Records available for K-2. All use "I can..." statements

Click the buttons below to go shopping! 

30% off at my TN shop, plus an additional 10% off!

20% off at my TPT store, plus an additional 10% off!

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Saturday, November 24, 2012

My 30% Off Sale Starts Now! I bought a Cameo to Prepare!

With all these fabulous blog sales happening, I had visions of excessive amounts of cutting in my future. My hands were starting to have nightmares... even my best squishy handled scissors are no match for the amount of holiday centers I'll be laminating this month. So I realized Black Friday was the best time to take one last look at the Cameo prices, and whadaya know?! They are the cheapest ever!! So I bought one on Amazon and thanks to Prime, it will be here on Tuesday!

Now what you've all been waiting for...My biggest sale ever!! Everything in my TN Shop is 30% OFF!!! Added bonus: TN is chipping in an extra 10% off on top of that! Ok, I teach kindergarten so I'm not swearing by this number, but I'm pretty sure it works out to 37% off everything in my store (their discount is applied to my reduced prices). Just click the image below to go directly to my shop!

 I made this banner using graphics from KPM Doodles, just one of many amazing shops on Teachers Notebook!

Two *NEW* items in my shop:
Social Skills Reminder Posters! Full Color and Black & White included for 30 different posters! That makes 60 in all!
 Beginning Money Centers! Great way to start learning money for K-1, or review for 2nd grade.
Most Popular Items:

Kindergarten and 1st Grade Common Core Math Records. These have always been a big hit! They are available for K-3 in Math, and K-2 in Language Arts. These are checklists of all the Common Core standards written in easy-to-read "I can..." statements. Great for showing parents what the kids can do. I like to use them each quarter to show progress over time.
Kindergarten Common Core Math Record

1st Grade Common Core Math Record
 Social Skills Reminder Cards: These are a mini version of my new posters. They can be used individually or placed on a ring for students to keep on their desk.
Social Skills Reminder Cards
 Do you prefer to shop on TPT? All of these items will be on sale in my TPT store starting Monday. Be warned, my discount drops to 20% off if you wait until Monday! Shop early to save more! Click the image below to go straight to my TPT store.
 Button by Ashley Hughes

Friday, November 23, 2012

Updated Kindergarten & First Grade Common Core Math Checklist! Liebster Award!

I got a super sweet message from a parent this Thanksgiving! A student's mom sent me a message telling me how thankful she is that her son has such a wonderful teacher! Love it!

I just updated my Kindergarten and First Grade Common Core Math Records! They now include both the original simplified checklist and the new, super detailed checklist! Now these look just like the 2nd and 3rd grade checklists I have posted in my store. These checklists have been my biggest sellers by far and I wanted to make sure you had my best quality products. If you have purchased either of these items, please download the improved (super awesome!) version now!

While I love the simplicity of my original version for myself, I know some customers wanted to see a more detailed checklist. These were my very first products I ever posted on TPT. I never thought people would actually buy the things I was already using in my classroom! Since then, I've learned a lot about making quality work that everyone can appreciate. These changes were made based on your wonderful feedback and patience while I was learning the ropes of being a TPT seller. I have amazing followers! You guys rock!!

If you would like to buy these, you may want to add them to your wishlist now, and buy them during the super sales!
Teachers Notebook:
Saturday-Monday everything in my shop will be 30% OFF plus an additional 10% off by TN!
Teachers Pay Teachers: 
Cyber Monday-Tuesday Sale! Everything in my store will be 20% off plus an additional 10% with the promo code CMT12.
I got nominated for of Leibster Award by Mrs. Leeby! How fun!

The Liebster Award is given by bloggers to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. It is to show new bloggers that they are appreciated and to help spread the word about new blogs.

The rules:
- You must post 11 random things about yourself.
- Answer the questions that the nominator set for you.
- Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.
- Choose 11 blogs you love (with less than 200 followers) and link them in your post.
- No tag back (but please leave me a comment on this post with the URL to your Liebster post so I can learn more about you)!
11 Things About Me:
1. I've played soccer since I was 5
2. I make yummy homemade pasta!
3. My dream is to go to Italy one day
4. I've become obsessed with blogging!
5. I have one sister
6. I'm a great aunt x2 before turning 30
7. I was on the diving team in high school
8. I do CrossFit and I can deadlift 190 lbs!
9. I'm obsessed with Criminal Minds and other killer mystery shows.
10. I can still do a handstand
11. I crochet scarves on cold winter days. 
Questions by Mrs. Leeby:
1. Do you play an instrument?
Nope. I played the flute in fourth grade and wasn't very good.
2. Where have you traveled?
Ireland! Mexico! In the US: Hawaii, Florida, Oregon, Arizona, Seattle, Georgia, Chicago, Colorado (and I'm sure I'm forgetting a few).
3. What is your favorite thing to cook or your favorite recipe?
Italian! I love cooking pasta from scratch including tortellini and ravioli (all by hand, a pasta maker is on my Xmas wishlist!). I also love to bake!
4. How long have you been teaching?
This is my 7th year (3 general ed, 4 special ed)
5. What's your zodiac sign?
6. Camping or hotel on a beautiful summer weekend?
Both! I really like camping, but sometimes a relaxing hotel weekend is just the ticket! 
7. Most embarrasing blogging moment?
The obsurd number of typos I've made!
8. Bath or shower?
Bath to relax after a long day, but shower for the normal day-to-day getting ready
9. Wine or beer?
Usually wine these days, but on a hot summer afternoon I crave a beer or a hard cider (I blame Ireland for that last one!)
10. Real or fake Christmas tree?
I LOVE real trees! Sadly, it's often a fake tree since my mom is allergic to the real ones :(
11. Is bloggging taking over all of your free time?
Yep! But I'm balancing it out with Book Club taking over the rest.
Questions I'm asking my nominees:
1. How long have you been blogging?
2. Favorite food?
3. Best thing you've learned since becoming a blogger?
4. How many siblings do you have?
5. Who was your favorite teacher?
6. Do you play any sports? 
7. What music do you play to put you in a good mood?
8. Who was your first roommate?
9. Did you leave your home state to go to college? How far did you go?
10. Favorite thing about being a teacher?
11. Favorite form of take-out food after a busy day?

Blogs I'm nominating:

Thursday, November 22, 2012

NEW!! Money Centers! Social Skills Posters!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!! Before you think I'm not spending time with my family, I must family is weird! We do Thanksgiving breakfast instead of dinner (my sister is vegetarian and couldn't care less about a turkey, and we have tiny family). So we were done with our family stuff by noon! I've already had my fair share of waffles, ham, country potatoes, and coffee with Bailey's. Yum!

I know the word is spreading like wildfire... both TPT and Teacher's Notebook are having HUGE sales! In celebration of this event I've been working hard on *brand new* items for my stores! For my Teachers Notebook shop it will be 30% OFF plus the additional 10% off sponsored by the website Saturday through Monday. That's my biggest sale ever! On TPT I will have all products 20% OFF on Monday and Tuesday with an additional 10% OFF from TPT with the promo code CMT12!
Cyber Monday

My Social Skills Reminder Cards are continuously one of my biggest sellers. I decided it was time to turn them into beautiful posters that can be displayed in the classroom. I was thinking these would be great to use for "focus skills" each day (or week). We often teach social skills, but kids need to hear some things many times for it to stick. My class this year is thriving on my posters! I love watching them run to look at their color words, ABC formation and social skills reminders displayed around the room. I'm starting to run out of wall space... I've learned to trade my posters in and out depending on their needs.

This Social Skills Poster set includes 30 social skills in both full color and black & white versions (60 posters in all!).
My kinder kids are going to start learning about money before Christmas break so I decided I should get a jump on making their learning centers. I have TONS of money activities for the older kids (1st/2nd) but very few that are easy enough for my littlest learners. I created this set of 5 centers to get them going on their first round of money madness.
This set of 5 centers is designed for the earliest learners as they begin to grasp the concept of money.

Meets common core standards for counting K.CC

Set includes:
1) Piggy Bank Match- Students count coins and match them to the correct piggy bank (up to 20¢)
2) Money Identification- Students match the coins, names, and amounts
3) Money Puzzles- Cut apart on the lines and laminate. Then have students put the puzzles together.
4) Dime Time! Skip counting by 10’s to match the dimes to the amounts
5) Give Me Five! Skip count by 5’s to match the nickels to the amounts (up to 55¢) 
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