Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Christmas in July & NEW Clip Art

We went shopping in Hobby Lobby the other day, and they were putting out Christmas decorations.  My little Emma (age 4) walks straight up to a life sized Santa statue, gives it a hug, and says, "Santa! Thank goodness you're back!  And I see you've brought me presents..."  Oh dear!  We are missing Santa already at our house!  ;)

Even though Hobby Lobby is a little crazy for putting out decorations this early...I think it's the perfect time for a little Christmas in July Sale!  My friends over at Blog Hoppin' are all joining in on the fun.  Every couple of days, until July 26th, each of us will put a new item or items for sale in our TpT shops.

 I have started a new little adventure into creating clip art!  I have created 6 new sets (one is free--all school stuff!), and FIVE of them are on sale for my first sale of "Christmas in July"!

Fall will be here before we know it...Apple Guys & Apple Pies has funky mod trees, and swirly apples that make me happy:

I was really random with these "retro-ish" doodles:

I created the stick farm set and love the silly look of the animals.  They are silly because I can't really draw animal legs.  So they are stick legs.  Haha!

And these Cute Pie kids would be cute for helper tags, or new year decorations, or just for fun:

And my FAVE so far:

Check out my calendar below to see what I plan on putting on sale in the upcoming days...

Monday, July 14, 2014

Create Magic: Crash Course Book Review

"...all children have gifts and talents, and when they are put in the hands of dedicated teachers, magic can happen."  
-Kim Bearden

Crash Course by Kim Bearden has stolen its place as my favorite teaching book of all time. I am just about to enter my 8th year of teaching, and even though I love my job, I needed a reminder of why I started teaching in the first place--and it's not for standards or test scores.  Reading this treasure of a book, I laughed, cried, and spent a lot of time in reflection. As Kim shared her incredible, and sometimes heartbreaking stories, she reminded me of how lucky I am--that each day I can create MAGIC for a room full of little faces.  I still need to take time to let them use their imaginations.  Let them play and wonder.  Let them be little.

This book also challenged me to develop meaningful relationships with my students.  I have struggled with this aspect of my career.   There are many days when I’m speeding around, trying to prepare for the next fun learning activity.  In my rush to prepare, I lose the time to sit and get to KNOW my students, hear their struggles, and even just listen to them share their happy moments.  In the book, Kim shares how developing those essential relationships help her create imaginative, yet powerful lessons that help her students relate to what she is teaching.

Kim’s heart for children and faith in Christ shine through each page of this book.  I won’t share her last quote of the book, because I want you to go out and read it for yourself, but the last paragraph of her book—y’all, let’s talk about chills.  I just LOVE it. 

Thanks to reading her inspiring words and stories, I am ready for a new year.  I am going to take the time to create relationships.  I am straight up READY to create some magical learning experiences.  We are going to play and have fun learning.  I am going to be so thankful for these little lives entrusted to me this year.  Thank you, Lord, for new beginnings, and for the students I haven't met yet. I can’t wait.

You can grab a copy of the book here! I promise you will be inspired!

Kim Bearden is the co-founder and executive director at the Ron Clark Academy. Most importantly, she is also the language arts teacher. 

Kim has received numerous awards for her creative, dynamic, and rigorous teaching styles. She was selected from over 70,000 nominations to be honored as the Disney American Teacher Awards Outstanding Middle School Humanities Teacher. Along with countless other awards, she was also chosen from among 7,000 teachers as Teacher of the Year in Cobb County Georgia. 

Over the past twenty-three years, she has been a teacher, instructional lead teacher, curriculum director, school board member, staff development trainer, and middle school principal. 

For someone that has accomplished so much during her career, Kim is by far one of the most humble and down to earth educators. Her life hasn't been perfect, and I love that she is so transparent in her book as she shares her experiences as an educator. 

Instead of telling you, I will just show you! Here is a little clip that shows who and what the Ron Clark Academy is all about! The best part? You can actually come spend a day…or two…at the school! Be sure and follow the Ron Clark Academy on Facebook {HERE} to receive special updates and events! 

If you would like to visit RCA and participate in the RCA Educator Training Experience, visit the website {HERE} to register! It is truly a training unlike anything you have ever experienced before. During this training, you will get to meet the students of RCA and observe Ron Clark and Kim Bearden's unparalleled instruction in their 5th grade classrooms. You will also spend the day in classroom observations and workshops that will enhance your instruction in any grade level. And of course, you will end the visitation becoming "slide certified." 

2014-2015 Training Dates:

I am so excited about teaming up with some of my favorite bloggers to share our review of Kim's book. Click on any of the links below to see what they think...

Win a signed copy of Kim's Book!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Win a free visitation to the Academy! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Few Doodles.

I love to doodle, and found a cool app called Sketchbook Express that makes it so easy (and fun) to create clip art doodles!  I had a blast drawing today, and just wanted to share a few of my doodles with y'all!  You are welcome to use these in your classrooms or in secured teaching products, but I do ask that you please credit me! I would love to eventually begin offering some more clip art sets, and would love to hear some suggestions for clip art that I could work on for you!  

{Click the picture below to download these 5 doodles for free!}  
I hope you can use these little guys!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Chapter Books and The Chicken Squad

One of my favorite times in my classroom is chapter book read aloud time.  I always turn out the lights, so that only our string of white lights is glowing.  The kids find their cozy spot on the rug, and when it's quiet and calm, I begin to read.  And sometimes act.  {It's impossible for me to read any book aloud without doing the character voices and sometimes acting out what the characters are doing.}

As far as read alouds go, I have several that are my old favorites--that I just can't stop reading year after year.   My must have chapter books for first grade:

1.  Junie B.  Jones First Grader (at last!):  Um, this one should be a given, due to the name of my blog!  ;)  Junie B. is one of my favorite book characters ever.  I think my book character "acting skills" are multiplied times 100 when I read this book.

2.  Mr. Popper's Penguins:  read this every winter!  I wasn't so sure about it the first year, but it has become an old favorite.  I want a little penguin shipped to me in a box from Antarctica.

3.  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory:  a classic!  Such an imaginative little book of adventure and great for discussing character.  AND... it gives us a wonderfully fun excuse to watch the movie and snack on chocolate.  Yes please.

4.  The Mouse and the Motorcycle:  just a cute little tale of friendship between a boy and a mouse.  We also HAVE to watch the movie for this one--the kids FLIP when seeing Ralph drive around on his little motorcycle!

Which brings me to my newest chapter book find, by one of my favorite authors, Doreen Cronin:

{click the book to take you to amazon to purchase!}

5.  The Chicken Squad:  a hilarious tale of four adorable little chickens:  Dirt, Sugar, Poppy, and Sweetie, who are on their first crime solving adventure.  A panicky squirrel sees something mysterious in the backyard and its up to the Chicken Squad to crack the case.  This book is also full of fun illustrations that I know my students will adore.  I found myself chuckling in the bookstore while reading it--always a good sign.  Can't wait to share this new book with my class this year!

I would really love some new chapter book read aloud suggestions!  Please leave me a comment with your absolute favorite chapter books for your class!

If you are a blogger, link up with Deanna for her book talk linky party by clicking the button below:

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Apps, Mascara, and Movies--Sunday Smorgasbord Time!

Time for a little random.

I'm linking up with my friend Michelle from Fabulous in First for her Sunday Smorgasbord summer linky party!  {Many of my random shares this week are coming from photos or ideas I've already shared on Instagram--you can follow me on Instagram by clicking HERE.}

1.  Must have apps: Sandra Boynton interactive books!  These are by far the coolest interactive books I've seen yet.   The ones we love the most:  Moo, Baa, La, La, La and The Going to Bed Book.  My little girl loves the music and all the fun surprise things that move throughout each of the books.

2.  I'm planning out summer fun days on my adorable new pink apple planner from Minted!  I couldn't resist that cute little apple.  Plus, I love that it comes with stickers for special dates and such.

3.  Um, my favorite book of all time is being made into a movie!  With Steve Carell.  AHHHH!  Can't. Wait.

4.  I love new products.  I went a little crazy in Sephora the other day, and came out with many new goodies.  My favorite new purchase is Cannonball mascara by Urban Decay.  LOVE.

5.   We gave a "Relax by the Pool Kit" to Emma's teacher for teacher appreciation week--but I wanted to share because I think it would make a good teacher gift for the end of the year, too! 

If you're a blogger, join in on Michelle's Sunday Smorgasbord by clicking the button below:

Friday, June 6, 2014

Freebie on a Friday: Station Basket Labels

My literacy station baskets are something that ALWAYS change every year.  If I'm being completely honest, I keep changing it because I still haven't quite found a system that is exactly what I am looking for--and I will probably add to my baskets this year, or I might just change it completely again.  But I wanted to share my basket system and labels with you, because you may be just like me--always searching for new ideas, and looking for ways to make literacy stations more organized, engaging, and purposeful. 

Why I liked my system this past year:
1.  My room looks organized and fairly "clutter free"--everything needed for a particular activity or station is kept underneath my class library, in the green baskets.  The kids take the baskets to a spot in our classroom to work.  For cleanup, everything gets placed back inside the baskets and stored away--out of my face.  {Sidenote: it DOES take LOTS of practice to make the kids understand that we don't just throw everything in the basket and run away, because that's how materials get smushed, scrunched, and ruined!}    
2.  The picture clues on the front of the basket are helpful at the beginning of first grade, and the "I Can" lists are great reminders for the middle of the year and beyond.
3.  With the variety of baskets, I pushed myself to be a little more creative with station choices--I especially loved the scientist station basket-- integrating our science unit of study with literacy was F-U-N.
4.  I like cute labels..."And I cannot lie..."  Melonheadz clip art.  Enough said.

A few of the basket labels are shown below:

I hope my station basket labels are something you might be able to use, or that they inspire you to create a new station system that you love!  Click on the picture below for your freebie!  What fun things do you add to your literacy stations?  Have any suggestions or new ideas for me?  Leave a comment or a link!  I would love to read all about it!  


Monday, June 2, 2014

My Book Talk is Fancy.

I know most of you teachers out there know the Fancy Nancy series of books, but what you may not know is how magical it is to meet the author and illustrator of them--so I can't wait to share my experience as part of my first book talk of the summer (thanks to Deanna Jump's "Let's Talk About Books" linky party)!

My little girl Emma loves the Fancy Nancy series of books so much.  There was a point when we were reading the original Fancy Nancy every night for 3 or 4 weeks straight.  And, although it was a little daunting to read the same book again and again, I also realized that at only 2 years old, this was the first book she ever loved that much.  I loved the way she watched my face when I would make the sad voice when Nancy trips and drops the tray of sundaes.  I love that she could retell the story in her own words--but that it sounded just like when I read it-- all theatrical & dramatic.  For Emma's 3rd birthday, we even had a Fancy Nancy "soiree"--we all dressed up in fancy clothes. It was a little ridiculous.  And she loved every minute of the girly-ness.

I was beyond excited when just about a month ago, I learned that Jane O' Connor would be visiting our local bookstore.  I picked Emma up early from school, and "fancied" her up.  Because...you can't meet the author of Fancy Nancy without being fancy.   When we pulled into the parking lot, my teacher heart leaped for joy.  Sitting there in front of my face was a fantastically fun Fancy Nancy tour bus-- with illustrations of the newest book, The Wedding of the Century--plastered all over it.  My mind was racing--"OH, the photo opportunities!!!"

After I took the picture below, a guy stepped out of the bus and told us that after the book signing we could go in the tour bus.  You mean, we can really go in there??? {At this point, I *MAY* have been a little more excited than my kid.}

We had to wait over an hour before the book signing started...so I kept Emma busy by buying her a sprinkle sugar cookie the size of her face.  Everything is better when you have cookies.

After one giant sugar cookie, half an apple juice box, posing for several selfies, and 4 Frozen books later--Jane O' Connor made her appearance.  And y'all.  She is precious.  She shared that Fancy Nancy was inspired by her as a little girl.  It was so much fun when Robin Glasser, the illustrator--was escorted out in full fancy wedding attire.  Jane O' Connor read aloud The Wedding of the Century, and then had the little girls come up to help decorate and "fancy up" her outfit for the wedding...

Then they had everyone practice balancing bananas on their heads.  
This was Emma's favorite part.

Robin Glasser doodled a little butterfly on her hand.

After getting our books signed, we headed back out to explore the Fancy Nancy tour bus!
The couch.

The little table/kitchen.

The fancy bedroom--her face says it all in this picture!  :)  So magical.

The bus even had a fancy shower.  

It was definitely a day we will never forget.  If you ever get a chance to see Jane O' Connor or have her at your school, I know you will just love it!  

Click the picture below if you'd like to link up with Deanna Jump to share your favorite book(s) of the week!  

Sunday, June 1, 2014

I'll get by...with a little help from my teacher friends.

It is hard to believe I just finished my 8th year of teaching.  They say time flies when you're having fun.  And how lucky am I that I can say that of my career?  (And, truth be told, it's not always rainbows and unicorns...but I really do enjoy what I do...most days.)  

In these 8 years, I've been blessed to teach alongside several teachers who have made me a better person and a better teacher.

I've been thinking.  When you teach, there is really no one else who truly understands what you go through day to day than other teachers.  You can try to explain it to your husband, your parents, your best friends, and they will listen with open ears--but, unfortunately, they will never have any idea how incredible, heartbreaking, exhausting, challenging, wonderfully inspiring, confusing, frustrating, overwhelming, and AMAZING this "job" can be.  It's only those teaching beside you who understand.  And they are the ones you run to and celebrate with when one of your little ones can FINALLY read that little book, or pass the phonics test, or write a sentence or even write a WORD--because they know how hard it was to get them there.  They know the hours you spent planning, listening to the struggle, and wearing a smile when you really want to just want to cry or bang your head on the table.

Those teachers are the same ones you go to when you've had a bad day, and you feel like you just can't do it anymore.  And they are there to encourage you, lift you back up, and tell you that--yes, you are a GOOD teacher, no--you are NOT messing everything up, and they reassure you when they say that they've had days just like yours, too.   Then you realize that you can do hard things, and you will get by with a little help from your teacher friends.  :)

And those teachers are also there to TEACH you.  I can't tell you how many wonderful ladies who have dropped everything--to answer my questions, listen to my worries, show me how they do something, and share ideas with me.  When I moved from teaching 4th grade to 1st--a huge jump--my mentor teacher spent a day walking me through how to plan and teach guided reading groups, since I had never done it before.  (Yes, seriously. Don't judge.  I promise, I know what I'm doing!)  Anyway, she literally played teacher--I was the student, and she was the teacher, and she did a little reading lesson with me.  That year, she taught me how to be a reading teacher.  It wasn't easy, and there were many days I went to her with questions and worries, but she helped me no matter what kind of day she was having.

In 8 years, I've learned from the incredible ladies alongside me.   One inspires me to become a better writing teacher--because she has such a love for it, and she passes that love to her students from year to year.   One is so organized and structured--something that I strive for, but can't quite get there, not just yet!  One has an incredible positive outlook and spirit about everything.  Her positive attitude brightens everyone's day--I mean, I want to BE that kind of positive!!!  (I'll admit.  I sort of have a complaining problem.  I'm working on this.)  One has the sweetest teacher voice you've ever heard (you know the kind--the teacher who doesn't really have a "teacher voice" to get her kids to listen to her, because her voice is so magical), and she is so incredibly patient!  One of them shows so much love.  She loves her students and really gets to know them as little people.  And one has such incredible balance--as a mom and teacher, she somehow knows how to do it all, and do it well.   I am so, so lucky to call them friends, and to learn from them each day.  So although many of you reading this are strangers, and you don't know them, I just wanted to share this because I think the best teaching happens when you work with a team that helps you to be better.  And I just wanted to thank the people I teach with everyday. Thank y'all for being those teachers I look up to.  Thank you for sharing, listening, encouraging, inspiring.  Because of you, those exciting days are more fun, and those hard days aren't so bad.

Now excuse me while I go sing the Golden Girls theme song.
Much Love,


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