Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Found the Gold Freebie Hop!

Welcome to the next stop on our freebie hop! If we all managed to link and sync correctly, you've come over from Julie at First Grade Critter Cafe. I'm so excited you're here! Thank you, Julie, for sending everyone this way!
My Sparkie peeps and I wanted to do something fun and FREE for all of you! So, we're putting out some *limited time* freebies for you as we all try to recover from the shenanigans of St. Patrick's Day. As a new mama, my shenanigans consisted of getting my taxes done and snuggling with my favorite little leprechaun. Not very shenanigan-y, I know. :)

I've got a sampler pack from my newest math pack for you! This set of printables is from one of my Collect 4! set - {Fractions on a Number Line and Improper Fractions}. They work beautifully with the game and as a stand alone group of printables. We used them for a differentiated work period, but you could also use them over the course of several days or as homework and classwork.

Just click the image below to grab it from Dropbox

I hope it's something you can use!

This sleepy teacher mama is going to send you on to The Crazy Schoolteacher.

I can't wait to see what Whitney has up her sleeve today!


Monday, March 2, 2015

Top 10 Blogger Products at EdExpo 2015!

Oh. My. Word.

My head is still spinning from all of the awesome games, gadgets, and gizmos I saw last weekend at EdExpo 2015! I actually left the expo on Monday afternoon and drove straight to my school for a staff meeting. Afterwards, I cornered my principal and immediately started talking a mile a minute about all of the things our teachers are going to HAVE TO HAVE.

One of the things the EdExpo folks asked us to do was walk around the expo hall and make a Top 10 list of products we loved. There were 50 of us there for the weekend - elementary, middle, high school, and even a few homeschool bloggers! They took all of the lists and made a Top 10 master list. I'll be back with my own Top 10 later this week, but I wanted to share the group list today! I also have to thank Sherron for inviting us to participate. I had a blast and I'm so thankful for the opportunity to work and collaborate with lots of other bloggers!!

I'll link to each company within the pictures below, but make sure to checkout EdMarket to search for a dealer near you to find out how to grab any of these products in your own zip code!

Our list starts with a tie!
Your kiddos will love creating and constructing with Kapla blocks! 
There are several different classroom or home kits available.
After you choose a puzzle card and lay down any necessary rings, you add in the green connector pieces to find your way from start to finish. You'll know you've found the right answer when your circuits connect and the trail lights up!
These sketchbooks are great! 
You could have your kids create their own picture using the circuits and add in a writing piece to go along with it!

I know my classroom teacher peeps will appreciate these self-correcting pencil grips. I love the way the different grips help the student progress towards independence as they begin to master holding their pencils correctly. I think I'm going to start sprinkling these around my school! :)

Oh, how I wish I'd had these in my classroom for the last thirteen years. 
So many kiddos with a need to fiddle and fidget can do so quietly - they just need one of these! I love the variety of fidgets to choose from as well.

You know your students love wearing those rubber bracelets... now they can learn a new set of facts while they make a fashion statement. :)  Each band contains the answers to a different set of multiplication facts. We try to think of new ways to make a tedious task a little more fun - I think Learn in Style has made fact practice a little better!

Where was this empty number line when we were teaching fractions on a number line not too long ago? Or subtraction strategies in 2nd grade? Or decimals and mixed numbers in 4th grade? For real - if you are a math coach, you need to get these for your teachers. Yesterday. :) 

We have another tie for 4th place!

These fidgets were one of my favorite products! I love the simplicity - a marble in a small mesh pouch - and the effectiveness. Kids will be able to burn nervous energy quietly and focus on the lesson or task at hand!

These blocks are designed to draw girls into building and creating!

This game was a BIG hit all weekend. I love that each game is grade-level specific. You could have multiple sets in your classroom to differentiate according to your students' ability levels, but still keep all students working on the same skill - sentence construction.

This is another product that made my teacher heart happy. The Reading Game is designed for one-on-one instruction for early OR struggling readers. I'm already hard at work on a follow-up post for this one!

I think I spent 30 minutes at this booth. These kits are SO cool! The apps are free, but they work with the letter and number kits. Your kiddos will LOVE manipulating the pieces to build words and numbers! 

Are you excited?? I'll be back later this week to share my personal top 10 with you, but in the meantime you can visit the website links in the pictures above AND hop on over to EdMarket to find a retailer for any of these near you!


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

My Teacher Hero

My little man is napping, the dishes are done, and the laundry is rolling around in the dryer so I thought I'd make the most of this snow day and join in the AMAZING link-up my sweet friend Jenny has started!

I sat down to write this post thinking I would write about my own third grade teacher, Mrs. Williams. She was warm, kind, funny and compassionate - qualities I needed in a teacher after a very unpleasant 2nd grade experience.

However, when I started thinking about who has had the biggest impact on my own teaching career I kept seeing the same face pop into my head --- my dad's.

A very young Papa Bookworm. I remember Daddy wearing that hat ALL the time during football season!
My dad is a band director, and has been teaching for almost 40 years. He will retire at the end of the year and I cannot wait to celebrate him. He was my high school band director and my AP Music Theory teacher. I have never met anyone who works harder than my daddy.

For the last several years, he has gotten to school early to practice with his jazz band kids. He brings them donuts for their early efforts, coaches them through new pieces of music, and has them off to class with a smile on their face before the first bell rings.

He has given up his weekend more times than I can count to take kids to band clinics throughout the winter and the spring. He's driven from North Carolina to Pennsylvania to get instruments repaired by just the right guy or to pick up a new one. Instead of one week of band camp, he had two or three - one for freshmen, one for colorguard and percussion, and one with the full band. He didn't have to do it that way, but he knew that the extra time would give him better results on the field.

He will never accept less than 110% effort. He is loud. He is in your face. He does whatever it takes to get you to do your absolute best. You will hate it, but you will know it's worth it when you see him beaming with pride behind his podium or on the sidelines grinning from ear to ear. Or even better, when he winks at you and gives you a simple, "Good job, kid." :)

He is compassionate. He has opened up our home to students more times than I can count. He has always done whatever he can to make sure than kids who want to participate in music education can have the opportunity to do so. If they needed a ride to practice, he picked them up. If they needed a ride home, he dropped them off. If they needed a meal, they were sitting at our dinner table. If they needed a place to stay, he had us make up an extra bed for the night.

Papa Bookworm is one of a kind. He is brilliant. Creative. Passionate. Innovative. Mischievous. Hilarious. A definite force to be reckoned with.

People. My dad dressed up like an ELF for his middle schoolers this year.
My heart fills to bursting every time I hear someone talk about the impact my dad had on their life, how he was their favorite teacher, or how much their community will miss him when he retires in June. I hope one day I'll be able to hear some of the same things when my former students and I run into each other. I try every day to be a little more like him.

TpT is also celebrating teacher heroes with a SALE! Use the code HEROES for an extra 10% off. Lots of stores (like mine!) are also on sale for 20% off. Make sure you add the code for a total of 28% off!

Do you have a teacher hero? Link up with Jenny at Luckeyfrog's Lilypad! Scroll down below to see more teacher hero stories. I love reading all of these stories!!


Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Spark of Inspiration Blog Hop

My *SPARK* peeps and I are so excited about this blog hop! We are in love with our new design, and we're pumped to share some of that love with you! :) We're giving away a ton of freebies, a $100 Visa gift card, AND a $50 gift card to TpT!

If you're coming over from Julie's blog for the first time, I'm so glad you're here! Don't forget to keep hopping through to grab all of your freebies and entries for the AH-MAZING Rafflecopter down below!!

I've got a freebie for you that's perfect for wrapping up the month of February. We used this as a review activity in one of our Reader's Workshop centers last year and I'm excited to share it with you! Just click on the picture below to grab it from Dropbox.

I just set the cards and the recording sheet out on a table and let the kids work in pairs or on their own! I hope it's something you'll be able to use!

Hop on over to see Whitney at The Crazy Schoolteacher and grab your next freebie!

But wait!! Make sure you keep scrolling to enter our awesome Rafflecopter giveaway! Happy hopping!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Monday, February 9, 2015

EDExpo 2015 - Coming to Atlanta!

I am really really excited about the EDexpo event that's coming to Atlanta on February 22-23! In a little over two weeks, principals, superintendents, curriculum directors, and lead teachers will pay our Peach State a visit to get a some great PD and a sneak peek at the up-and-coming classroom tools for 2015-2016.

I'm one of about 50 lucky bloggers to get in on the exhibit floor to see all the new technology products, Common Core materials, games, teaching aids and more! I cannot wait to see some of my sweet bloggy friends in person!! Even better, I can't wait to share the new "must-haves"with you all! Come back soon!


Sunday, February 1, 2015

Making it Back After Maternity Leave

Please don't look at the title of this post and think that I have figured out the secrets to happily returning to work once your maternity leave is over. There are still tearful mornings and I am still counting down to Friday every week when I can spend 2 whole days with my little man. But you can believe me when I tell you that I do understand how hard it is to leave your sweet smooshy baby behind and go back to work.

I know why you've asked your husband to drop the baby off at daycare or the babysitter's house in the morning because you just. can't. do. it. I've been back at work for 2 months and I still can't do it.

I often remind myself that he spends most of his day sleeping.

This IS a collection of tips and tricks I've discovered since I've gone back to work myself. And I do hope they make it a *little* easier for you.

I swear the minute we got home from the hospital our mail carrier started dropping off Shutterfly coupons. I put them all in a drawer and pulled them out about 3 weeks before I went back to work. I proceeded to order a katrillion pictures of my little man so I could plaster the walls of my office with his sweet face. When I'm sitting in there during lunch or a pumping break I can't help but smile and be a in fabulous mood just looking at him. His pictures are also the first thing I see when I walk in each morning when I'm missing him the most!

This was great advice from my "work wife" and former teaching partner. My first day back would have been completely disastrous if I'd waited to send him to his babysitter's house for the first time that day. Start with your post-partum check-up. Drop your little one off while you go and if you're brave, meet a friend for lunch. Experience the joy of running in to pick them up and the big smiles on their little face when you get there. I also had a practice week just before I went back. I dropped Little Man off for a few hours each day - some longer, some shorter. This helped me to get a peek at different parts of his day at the babysitter's. I also liked being able to go get him whenever I wanted for a week. :)

As a nursing mama, I have the appetite of a 13 year old boy. Seriously. In order to keep myself from getting "hangry" with my students, I keep snacks with me all week long. I discovered the glory of Graze boxes and I am a happy mama!!

I get one box (4 snacks) delivered to my school every week (you can adjust the frequency of your deliveries) and I love it!! I have yet to get a snack I didn't like at all. I love that I can "trash" some of their choices before they ever make it into a box as well. This is a great feature for people with food allergies!

If Graze doesn't seem like your thing, think about a different kind of delivery service - like Ipsy or Birchbox! I've also found that having something to look forward to at work has made heading back in each Monday a little easier. :)

My last tips are for my fellow nursing mamas who are pumping at work.


I love nursing my little one, but I will not miss that dag-gone pump!! It makes me feel like a moo-cow. For real.

The two things that have been the most beneficial to my pumping sessions at work are:

1. podcasts and
2. a really good pumping bra!!

Let's talk podcasts. Mamas, pull out your iPod/iPhone/iTunes on your laptop. Sometimes, the rhythm of that pump drives me nuts. I needed something else to listen to!! I found several that I love and I'd love to tell you a little bit about them! 

1. Serial : Serial is an offshoot of This American Life, another radio show and podcast. Each season will tell a different true "story." The first season followed the story of Adnan Syed, a high school kid who was arrested for killing his girlfriend. Next season is already in the works and I can't wait!!

2. Doug Loves Movies : This one is my husband's fault. :) Doug Benson is one of our favorite comedians and this podcast is part game show part talk, but it's all about movies. It can be a little nutty to follow sometimes, but it's a fun way to find new comedians and Doug does a good job of talking about new movies as they come out. 

3. Passion City Church: Louie Giglio's church is here in Atlanta and if you're ever in the area on a weekend I really recommend going. Worship at Passion City is amazing. Louie makes Jesus real and relatable, and they also have an amazing set of guest speakers that pop in occasionally. I also like to keep my own church's podcasts on my devices so I can still feel plugged in on weeks we aren't able to go.

4. The Longest Shortest Time: Love this podcast. Just real talk about parenthood - the good, the bad, the lovely and the ugly. This was a favorite during the middle of the night feedings, but now it's one of my favorite pumping podcasts. :)  

Finally, the most important part - the pumping bra.

I did some serious research on this and I'm happy to tell you I love the bra I bought. It's not the cheapest, but it is the best quality for the price. And when I was shopping, I did find the best price for Simple Wishes on Amazon.

The Simple Wishes hands-free pumping bra has been a game changer for me at work. I can check email, write lessons, put materials for the next day together, and eat while I pump! It has also cut my pumping time in half which makes a HUGE difference when I need to step out for a pump break. I also love that each size is adjustable so you can make sure it fits you properly as you um, grow and shrink. ;)

I hope you've found a few bits and pieces in here to help you. People kept telling me, "It'll get easier." I don't know that I agree with that statement. :)  I don't miss him any less during the day, but I've learned to find ways to smile through it. I hope you do too!


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Getting Spooky with Brain Breaks!

I've got a fun post over at A Classy Collaboration for you!

I gathered up some of my students' favorite not-so-spooky brain breaks that are perfect for this time of year! If you already use Symbaloo, you can easily add this webmix to your own collection. If you don't use Symbaloo, this is a great time to learn!

Just click on the picture above to see what I've put together!

If you're interested in more (and mostly free!) spook-tactular resources for the month of October, make sure you're following my October: Classroom Resources board on Pinterest. Click through the picture below to take a peek!

Happy Thursday! :)

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