Saturday, June 30, 2012

Versatile Blogger Award!

After a relaxing five hour shopping trip this afternoon with my mom I came home to see what blog-hopping I could fit in tonight before I crashed.  I was honored when I logged on and saw that Primary Possibilities had given me the Versatile Blogger Award!  My first one ever! =)  Thanks so much Primary Possibilities!

I'm honored to receive this.  I love that I can share ideas and experiences with other teachers all over the world.  Our profession can be quite lonely, where we can go days sometimes without seeing some of our colleagues.  The world of blogging has opened so many doors to communication with other teachers, and our students truly benefit from our collaboration!

 Here are the rules of the Versatile Blogger Award:
1.  Thank the blogger who nominated you.
2.  Include a link to their site.
3.  Include the award image in your post.
4.  Give 7 random facts about yourself
5.  Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award.
6.  When nominating, include a link to their site.
7.  Let other bloggers know they've been nominated.

Seven Random Facts about Can't Make This Stuff Up: Adventures in Teaching:

1.  I married my high school sweetheart.  My husband and I met and started dating when he was fourteen years old, and I was sixteen! (Typing that out really makes me feel old! lol)

2.  I grew up always wanting a dog, and my father would never let us have one.  Last summer I felt like I completed my "rebel phase" ;)  when as an adult we went to a shelter to adopt our puppy.  It was totally an "I'm an adult and I will get a puppy if I want to!" moment. =)

3.  I am TERRIFIED of spiders.  Bad.  Like, wake up in the middle of the night screaming because in my dream they are attacking me.  Thank goodness my hubby is so understanding!

4.  I am a book-a-holic.  Seriously, it's a problem.  When I go shopping I always get that look from the hubs that says "Please do not buy any more books Heather!"

5.  I was a TERRIBLE driver until about age nineteen.  (Did I really just admit that?!?!)  My first car was a 1985 Buick Skylark, and there was a reason that we nicknamed it "The TANK."  Also, I have no sense of direction, which I blame mostly on the fact that I had my nose in a book during every car ride straight through age 16.  Once I had my learner's permit I remember my parents saying I could drive to my grandparents house.  My reply?  "Awesome!  Just tell me how to get there...????" (true story!) 

6.  I used to despise cooking.  As in would avoid it like the plague.  My poor hubby, he learned quickly that if he wanted to eat, then he better cook!  I am happy to say that that has definitely improved over the years, and the chore of cooking is definitely more evenly spread out now. =)

7.  My two sons are the greatest blessings I have ever received in my entire life.  They are my world, and I could not imagine life without them. =) <3

Now it's your turn!  Here are the 15 fabulous bloggers that I'd like to pass this award on to!  

Mandy's Tips for Teachers

 No Monkey Business

Buzzing with Ms. B Button

 Mrs. Lirette's learning detectives

 Third Grade Bookworm


 Ladybug's teacher files


 3rd Grade Gridiron

 Teach 123

 A Cupcake for the Teacher

 Bunting Books and Bainbridge


 Teachers Pay Teachers

 Thanks for all of the wonderful ideas, resources, and inspiration!  =)


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Where are the days going?

Summer seems to be flying by, I can't believe June is almost over!  In two weeks we'll be going on our vacation to Lake George, NY, and the boys are getting so excited.  I'm excited too.  We're going to visit Fort William Henry while we are there.  My oldest is really into all things military, and will love to check out the fort and their weapons display.  Bonus for me is that they also run their ghost tours on the weekend at night, so we're going to do that too! =)  That is right up my alley!  Along with a planned visit to the Great Escape theme park, a camp site right along a river, and white water rafting, I am looking forward to roasting smores and reading the stack of professional books by the campfire.  Until then though, we are definitely keeping busy around home.  We started our day today with my oldest son and I taking a 2 1/2 mile long walk with our pup, Doc.  Doc is a Harrier, Beagle, Chow, mixed mutt (lol), and he is very difficult to tire out.  He's like the energizer bunny, and keeps going, and going, and get the idea.  Today must have been overly exciting for him as we took a different route than usual.  We also ended up going by one of my son's friend's houses, so he was able to also meet another dog, which is always exciting for him.  After returning home and re-hydrating we went for a short ride to pick up my youngest from soccer day camp.  Back home, and now this:
He is officially one pooped out pup! =)  Which means that I can look forward to a quiet, relaxing afternoon of blog stalking, reading, and creating more things for my classroom.  I've been quite busy lately.  When I started the summer I made a goal to create at least one new game for my students to use.  I decided on making a memory game for them to use to increase their fluency.  I have used similar games during guided reading groups, and also in reading workstations.  I have had this adorable clip art on my computer for some time now, and just had to put it to good use.  So, I created my "Monster Mash Memory" game for my class to practice high frequency words.  I've included words 1-300 from Fry's list, and hopefully later on this summer I will have another game made with at least the next 300 words.  When I use these with students I will not have them working with more than fifty came cards so that they don't get overwhelmed.  This will also make it possible to have more students practicing at the same time by splitting the card sets in half.  Here's a sneak peak at the adorable game cards:

See what I mean about the adorable clip art?  I just love it!  It's by KPM Doodles...I love her stuff! The adorable frames that go along with it came from the 3AM Teacher who I love as well.  You can get this game which has 39 pages of memory game cards for your students to practice with.  Just print on card stock and laminate, and you're ready to go!  You can check it out at my TpT store if you are interested.  Right now it's for sale for only $2!

I have so many different ideas kicking around my head at the moment, and I'm hoping to be able to get more things finished up so I can share them with you.  Some of what I'm creating for my classroom will be to go along with my new color scheme.  I've decided to go with a nice teal blue and black color base.  After the fabulous tip from:
Mandy's Tips for Teachers
 I decided to purchase flat bed sheets rather than yards and yards of fabric.  Walmart had these great teal colored flat sheet, and for less than $5 each! Yippee!!

So, I was able to pick up four, enough to cover all of my boards, for less than $20, which made the hubby happy. ;)  Now I just need to make up my mind on which border I'm going to go with.  Maybe you all can help me decide?  I know that I am for sure going to use this somewhere in my room:

And I want to go with at least one of these four, however, I seem completely incapable of making up my mind!  So, if you would be so willing, please leave a comment and let me know which you like the best.  I am definitely leaning more towards the first one below, but I like them all...HELP!  ;)




 Okay, so there you have it.  Again, I'm leaning more towards the first of these four, but let me know what you think! =)  Sorry this post ended up so long by the way! ;)


Saturday, June 23, 2012

No Monkey Business and my own little slice of heaven...

The fabulous Michelle over at No Monkey Business is celebrating 300 followers with a fabulous giveaway. 
Stop on over No Monkey Business to reveal which "suit" you are as a teacher...and it really is hard to pick just one! =)
We have had some really hot, and disgustingly humid days the past few days up here in the northeast.  Last night we had a bit of rain that passed through, and it appears to have taken some of the humidity with it.  It's a warm 82 degrees with a gentle breeze, and I am able to bring you this post from my own little personal slice of heaven:
This is really my first time this summer that I have been able to just sit out back on our deck and enjoy the peace and quiet.  For a few moments at least the pup is content to lie under my chair on my feet and just veg with me...we'll see how long this lasts!  Happy Saturday everyone!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day Dads!

What a beautiful weekend...the weather has been gorgeous!  This is my first official weekend of summer vacation, and I am loving every minute of it!  We went yesterday evening to visit my father and have a little cookout for Father's Day.  This was the start of my clumsy weekend.  First my husband tripped and fell in a divot in the grass.  Later when we were leaving I completely missed a stair on the steps going down to my father's driveway.  Talk about landing palms and face first on the pavement.  A twisted ankle, smacked knees, and a sore wrist later it was definitely time to head home!  Then this afternoon while making soup for lunch for my youngest, I completely tipped the bowl the wrong way.  Boiling hot soup broth poured all over both of my hands...ouch!  So, I don't know what's going on with the clumsy stuff, but I'm hoping there's no more of it this weekend!  Fortunately for me, the books that I have ordered for my summer reading have mostly arrived, and you can't get too injured when you are camped out on the couch with good books right?  Right?!?! ;)  On my list for this summer for professional books are: 

So far the only one that hasn't arrived yet is the Guided Math book, but I've got more than enough to get me started! =)  For enjoyment reading this summer I think I'm going to see what everyone's been talking about with:

 I hope that all of the fabulous dads out there have an amazing day! <3

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Hello Summer Vacation! =)

It was so nice to wake up this morning and know that I didn't have to go anywhere if I didn't want to!  I love that feeling.  I was actually able to slowly wake up, check my email, and check out Pinterest all before my first cup of coffee!  That's definitely a luxury!  After all of this early morning relaxing I spent my day working in my classroom.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I went into school to work on cleaning/sorting/organizing etc.  I've been following Clutter-Free Classroom all spring and I had high hopes, but to be honest with you, I'm just glad I got to the point where I am now at least.  Two years ago I switched to my current school from another school in our district.  Today I spent hours really working on rearranging where I store my things so that I can better access them when I need them.  I was also able to unpack three boxes that have been just sitting since the move.  On top of that I did a lot of purging.  In the almost seven years that I've been in my district I've taken rooms where a teacher has retired.  That adds up to a lot of left behind things.  I always feel so guilty getting rid of something that still has life left in it.  This year I did a better job with that.  I have a whole locker outside of my classroom filled with stuff that was left behind that I have never touched.  There is a lot more that I am sure I will sort through and get rid of when I go back into school at the end of the summer to set up for the new school year, but for now the only other task I plan to tackle are my three ridiculously over packed filing cabinets.  That will be tomorrow's task.  Today I'd like to share with you a cute little freebie that I made for my students.  They are owl themed sticker charts.  I have found sticker charts to be a very inexpensive way to reinforce positive behavior in the classroom.  You can find them at my store at TpT

I hope you enjoy it! =)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Would you like to learn about the BEST PENCIL SHARPENER EVER???

I happened to be reading Mrs. Bainbridge's Class's blog one evening and she was talking about "The Best Pencil Sharpener on the Planet."  I was doubtful at first, especially since I have spent money out of pocket on expensive sharpeners in the past that claimed to be fantastic, only to have them do a mediocre job at best.  Over the past few years it seems like the quality of both pencils and sharpeners have been going down the tubes.  When I followed the link to Classroom Friendly Supplies I will admit I was still skeptical.  I clicked on the link to learn about free sharpeners and said "what the heck?"  The response from the site was very quick, and my sharpener was shipped to me almost immediately.

Unfortunately for me, when the sharpener arrived I needed to be heading right out the door to pick my mother up at the airport.  I couldn't resist opening that package, and needless to say, I ended being almost an hour late getting to the airport.  Why was I late?  That would definitely be because I had opened my "junk drawer" in the kitchen, and went to town sharpening any and all pencils that I could get my hands on.  I have never used a manual sharpener that cranked so easily, or quietly!  I also love the feature of the sharpener that holds the pencil perfectly in place and feeds it into the sharpener itself as you crank.  That feature will be excellent for students.  Even my third graders will stand there at the sharpeners shoving their pencils in as far and hard as they can, and then they wonder why they don't work anymore.  The holder/feeder feature will eliminate this problem completely.  (That is if I can bear to let a student use it instead of me!)  In the words of my 11 year old son, "You are just having way too much fun with that thing Mom!"  lol  I highly recommend purchasing a sharpener, or two, or three...from Classroom Friendly Supplies.  I will definitely be picking up  a couple more when we head back to school in September!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Hmm...what are those things called again?

Oh yeah, REPORT CARDS!  I cannot believe that it is 3 1/2 days before we are done for the summer, and I just this evening thought to myself, "Hmm...what's that thing that I need to make sure I get done asap?"  Ugh.  Now I definitely know what I'll be getting done, getting a great start on, attempting to do tomorrow during my prep time, (instead of trying to organize the disgusting mess that is my classroom).  Today was a great day overall, which to me is precious considering that this time of year tends to get pretty nuts.  This morning our students visited the AR store where they were able to cash in their earned points for prizes.  My group this year has not been motivated to reach their AR goals at all, I had six students who were waiting outside of the "AR store" because they hadn't earned any points towards their goal this last term.  I know what you're probably thinking, and yes, I've been doing whatever I can to motivate them, encourage them, etc.  And it's not that they don't enjoy reading, they genuinely do.  They just aren't motivated to work towards their AR goals.  I should add that some of my students really are motivated, and do try their best on their goals.  It was quite frustrating for me this year though.  I even stopped sending home a reading log a few weeks into our third trimester because certain parents were just signing the form and having students fill in that they had read whatever, when they weren't really reading.  I decided to stop wasting paper at that point.  After talking with a colleague at school I think I've decided that next fall their AR goals are going to be tied into their report card grades.  The schools in our district emphasize AR reading differently, and in the past I had worked in a building where AR was encouraged, but it wasn't part of their reading grades.  In my building now many teachers count students' AR reading as part of a reading test grade towards their report cards, and I think this is something that I will try out when we come back in the fall.
     After the AR store visit we had about an hour and fifteen minutes before recess/lunch before our 3rd grade Jr. Olympics (field day).  I had read on some amazing teacher's blog earlier in the year (I can't for the life of me remember whose it was =(, sorry!) about the idea of having the students have a "Reading/Writing Marathon."  Basically what I did was give each student a 12 X 18 sheet of white paper, and had them fold the paper so they had eight boxes.  After all students had a book that they would be able to read for an extended period of time we settled in to read.  I set the timer in our classroom for ten minutes of silent reading, and when the timer went off we set it again for ten minutes of silent writing/drawing about the books that we were reading.  I also took part in this with my students, and it was cute to see them keep peaking over to see if I was really reading with them.  I have a group of 22 very active, very conversational (read can't sit still/can't stay quiet for more than 15 seconds) students.  In our classroom this morning, on this exciting day that they've been looking forward to for weeks we had over an hour of SILENT READING AND WRITING!  I'm serious, even my boys who normally moan and groan about independent reading settled in and did an AMAZING JOB!  I was so happy for them, it was such a pleasant experience for us to have at the end of the year.  It also left me wishing that I had attempted it earlier in the year, but now I know right?  We went on to participate in our Jr. Olympic events after lunch and our class did a fantastic job.  We came in second place over all out of our five third grade classes, and they were so proud of themselves.  Best of all for me was being able to see students who have struggled with teamwork and cooperation all year long working together to achieve a common goal and enjoying it.   Definitely a good day! =)
3 1/2 days to go...

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Upper Elementary Linky Party and some pictures!

I was SUPER excited to see that Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies started an upper elementary linky party...I just had to hop on board!  I love checking out other teachers' blogs, especially similar grade levels. =)  Head on over to link up your blog and find some new bloggy buddies too! =)
It's definitely going to take me a while to check out all these new blogs!  =)

I also wanted to add the pictures of our Take a Bite Out of Summer writing project that I posted about yesterday.  (For some reason it wasn't letting me upload the pic.)  The color doesn't stand out as much as I'd hoped, crummy cell phone camera...
Here is the other project that we worked on, their math mystery pictures, they really love making these! 
 5 1/2 days more to go!!! =)  We are in the home stretch!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Sorry it's been so long!

I cannot believe how long it's been since I've been on here...well, I take that back, I can believe it.  I have been completely tied up in end of the school year insanity.  We have been working for weeks on finishing up our class projects for Pride Night.  At our school, Pride Night is basically an open house in the spring for families to come in and check out all of our hard work, and to visit the 5th graders living museum presentations.  The students all work so hard, and are so proud of what they have accomplished!  In our classroom we've been hard at work on completing our space books.  We also created Space Mosaics using different dried beans.  They loved making these, and they came out so nice!  (I was shocked there wasn't much mess this year from them either.  Usually I find many stray beans on the floor!)  After they created their mosaics we created original space poems to go along with them.  Everyone did such a nice job writing their poems, and many continued to write them after they had published their selected poem. 
They really put their best effort into their work, and I am very proud of all of them!
Another project that we worked very hard on this year was creating our own fable books.  We started with students using the wet watercolor painting technique.  My class was very puzzled as to why we were starting by bathing our paper in water before painting, but once they saw how the watercolors spread and blended when we began painting they loved it.  We later used our paintings to create our hard covers for our fable book pages.  When we made the book pages themselves we used a secret room book page technique.  My class loved that when they reached that magic page in their books and gently pulled on it their secret room opened up, and the morals to their fables appeared.  This is a student's version of the fable The Tortoise and the Hare.  He worked so hard on it! =)
 The rest of the projects that we had on display were our ABCs of the American Revolution posters that we completed during our unit of study, as well as this summer writing craftivity, "Take a Bite Out of Summer" that I got from the fabulous A Cupcake For The Teacher.  I love her blog and products, and my students had a BLAST working on these.  I love one of my little darlings who wrote "I love the summer!  I look forward to going to the vineyard and riding the carousel, and having ice cream.  It is sensational!"  That's sensational writing coming from a third grader! =)  
They all also enjoyed working on mystery math pictures, where they had a coordinate grid and coloring directions to create a mystery picture.  I got this great activity from a teacher friend at school, and I'm so glad she shared, they keep asking to work on new ones!  For some reason I'm unable to post the pictures of their Take a Bite Out of Summer projects and their math mystery pictures, so I guess that will have to be a post for another day. (Tomorrow hopefully!)  Happy Monday!  (8 days left of school!)