Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Vista Print!

Holy cow... I have just spent the last 5 hours lost on Vista Print (in between cleaning the kitchen, doing 4 loads of laundry, and taking care of a husband who got his wisdom teeth out this morning...)! I've pinned a few ideas from other teachers in the past, but hadn't found the right deal to pursue making anything.

On Sunday night I bought a Groupon for Vista Print where I paid $20 to get $80 worth of product; and I got an email this morning from VP reminding that they are having a huge clearance sell that ends tonight! So, I decided that it was as good of time as any to use my Groupon. And, can I just say: I had a hard time finding $80 worth of product to purchase because the sales were so great! So much of what I got was FREE or under $5.00! The prices that are listed by the products below are after my Groupon discount. I spent $25 extra so that I could get free shipping ($28 in shipping, or $25 in more product!?!). I'm an addict now! Here's what I got:
Inspiration: Ms. Nobel's Class
250 Business Cards = $3.58
I liked the idea of rewarding students by giving them money towards a new book. I'm not sure exactly how I will use these, but I think it will be something that I just hand out when I see something I like!

250 Business Cards = $3.58
This one I know that I will use frequently! Just a quick way to reinforce actions and behaviors without giving food/candy.

Inspiration: Caffeinated Conclusions
30 Business Card Stickers = $2.11
We use technology A LOT and each student has a Google account in my district. This started last year, so I made these stickers to go inside their planners so they can access Google Apps at home successfully. I am so tired of "my computer wouldn't let me sign on last night!" What kind of excuse is that?!? Hopefully this will help them and their computers! :o)

Dr. Seuss Poster 18"x24" = $2.10
I love this quote! This is going to go in my classroom library!

30 Thank You Note Cards = $2.99
Always good to have on hand!

50 Small Business Magnets = $3.58
In my first couple years of teaching, I used to assign specific jobs to specific students. Teaching the older kiddos, I just have two helpers who do anything I need them to do. Last year, I had a tropical theme so I made the helper names using the fish dicut, but this year I didn't know what I would do to match my theme. I plan to write the students' names in the middle of this square and then keeping them on the white board.

And then, after each order I made, they have items already put together or that match the theme I just used and there were a couple of items I couldn't resist!

Notepad = $0.63

Sticky Notes = $FREE$

Notebook = $1.78

I also order a couple of personal things, but they were under $5.00 as well. In total, I paid $47.45 for over $150 worth of product! I'm SUPER happy!! Now I just have to wait 14 business days for my goodies to arrive.......ugh!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Another Award!

Yesterday, my husband and I cruised down the PCH from LA to San Diego, moving from one hotel to the next. While we were enjoying the warm sunshine and a little sand in our toes, I was nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award from two different people! :o) A huge thank you goes out to Vicky at Keep Calm & Imagine and Cathy at C is for Cookies, Cakes, Children, Classrooms, and Crafts

For this award, here are the rules:  
1. Follow the person who gave me the award.  done :)

2. Link back to the person that gave me the award.  done :)

3. Pass to 15 new bloggers and then let them know they have received the award. 

Here are the awesome blogs I'm passing this award on to:
*I'm trying to find 15 blogs... but here is what I have so far!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday Made It - Birthday Bags

Getting back into the swing of things, I've been working on setting up my classroom. Of course, the first year (in five!) that I haven't had to change rooms, I decide to switch my theme! Last year I had a tropical theme and decided that I wanted to go more simplistic and chic - teal & lime green. More pictures of my classroom to follow.

One thing that I did accomplish this week are my Birthday Bags. This is something that I picked up from somewhere along the way and have been doing for a few years. Personally, I like birthdays! I also want to celebrate my students when it is their birthday, but I find that if I don't have something ready to give to them on their special day, then I forget. 

At the beginning of the year, I put together a brown bag for each student that has a couple of inexpensive "treats" inside. Each year it varies depending on what I am able to gather, but I try to make it simple, cheap, and easy.

After searching the isles of the Dollar Tree, this year I put a mechanical pencil (because I am SO tired of students getting up a thousand times a day to sharpen their pencils!), robot eraser, free homework coupon, and a celebration horn (just for fun!). In past years, I've put Scholastic books that I've saved throughout the year into the bags and students seemed to like that; I also usually put some piece of candy, but this year I was trying to be healthier by not including sweets. Here is a copy of the homework coupon I made:
Once all the bags are put together, I write the students' name and birth date on the outside of the bag. This year, I wanted to match my theme, so I created a half-sheet that went on the outside.
Finally, when all the pieces are put together, I staple them onto one of my walls so that I have a daily reminder of each student's birthday. The conversation on the first day is usually buzzing about what is inside the bag and students swarm the first birthday kid as they open their bag to see what is waiting inside. Here is what my wall looks like this year:
The Happy Birthday banner is something else that I made this week using my digital scrapbooking software, some ribbon, and a hot glue gun! I just printed a 4x6 photo with the colors and letter I wanted, then trimmed it into the flag shape.

I'm very pleased with the way that my birthday bags turned out the year! :o)


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Aurora Tragedy...

So, I want my blog to be all about teaching... but I have to take a moment to reflect upon the tragic event that happened in my city yesterday.

This morning, my husband and I worked in the yard - he was mowing the grass while I pulled up some pesky weeds. As I tugged at the roots, I noticed how some of the plants looked like they bled when I pulled the stem instead of getting the entire root.
Now, I realize that I am an emotional person to begin with, but I actually started tearing up when I saw this! It made me so sad to "kill" this living thing that is just minding its own business, doing the thing it was created to do. This weed is part of our ecosystem! And here I am, some human, coming along and destroying it all because it "looks bad" in my yard!

As I was wiping away the tear that fell down my cheek, I kinda chuckled out loud because I just shed a tear over a weed! A WEED!! But, I think my sadness fell deeper than this lonely plant. It makes me sad to think that a human being is capable of taking away the life of multiple people. It makes me sick to think that a person has an agenda to kill, just for the sake of killing. 

My heart goes out to all of the families who have been affected by the Aurora Theater Shooting. I cannot even begin to imagine the heartbreak and loss that is felt by those people who were there or knew someone who was. I absolutely cannot understand taking life of another soul. 

Psalms 30:5 Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Versatile Blogger Award

WOW! What a day! I got the Versatile Blogger award from two different people today! A huge thanks to Kelly at Kelly Teach and Mrs. Goodwin at I live 2 Learn, I love 2 Grow for the honor! :o)

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 5-10 other bloggers, include their link, and let them know.

Seven Random Facts About Me:
1. I love reading! Especially young-adult fantasy romance!
2. My husband and I grew up across the street from each other.
3. I am addicted to Pinterest and spend WAY too much time pinning!
4. I LOVE Goodwill!!! I buy all my classroom books there... and maybe some new clothes!
5. I am afraid of moths!
6. I love to go new places - but I hate flying on planes!
7. I love to ski in the winter!

The blogs I nominate for this award are... 

I will nominate more when I come across sites that don't have the award yet! :o)

Newbie Bloggers Blog Hop

As I am new to the blogging world, I'm trying to get my blog out to other people, so I'm connecting with Janis at Grade Three is the Place for Me in her New Bloggers Blog Hop. 
1.  What state you are in?
I teach in Colorado.
2.  Your current teaching position? 
This year I will be teaching 5th grade, which is my FAVORITE age group to teach! The content is so much fun and the kids are at the right age - I can tell a joke and they actually get it!
3.  Your teaching experience... Boy, has my teaching experience been crazy! This is the start of my 6th year of teaching - the first two years I was in a two-year contract teaching 5th grade. Even though the job was a great fit, my principal decided to give my job to a woman who had tenure... So, I scrambled to find a job and I did... the day before school started! I taught 6th grade math for a year, but it was a one-year only contract. Then, I moved to a new school and taught 3rd grade. I was able to stay at that same school last year to teach 5th grade... and now I finally have tenure (whatever that means)!! I know that my long journey was just preparing me for the job I have now! I love my school and my team! It was all meant to be!!
4.  When you started blogging? 
Two weeks ago! :o)
5.  Share a blogging tip / blogging resource...
I'm so new that I don't have a blogging tip.... I just look to see how everyone else is doing it! For now, I am totally a follower... do you have any tips for me? :o)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

July Currently

My first Currently linky! I always love reading about what people are up to and now I'm able to share! Thanks to Oh' Boy 4th Grade for making the festive currently!

Hope all is well with you!

 ~ Ashley

Monday, July 16, 2012

Name Tags

So, at the beginning of the school year, my to-do list is too long and my wallet is too thin. Of all the things that need to be purchased each year, name tags are at the top. The variety of name tags that are offered at the different teacher stores are overwhelming, and in my first couple of years I bought the ones that had a cursive line and multiplication tables and geometric shapes on them for students to use as a reference. Not only do they cost a lot more, but I had to take them off and put them back on when we take our state standardized test. 

Last year, I wanted an activity to fill up some time during the Meet the Teacher session on the last day of school, but I wanted that activity to be meaningful. I decided that it would be a great time for students to make their name tags for the year! And I really loved the idea that they had ownership for their tag! After doing a little brainstorming, I decided that a ransom-note style would be super cute! 
I dug through some of my old magazine, cut out large-sized letters, and organized them into bags of individual letters. 
Because the letters were organized, the activity didn't take very long - maybe 10 minutes. It was fun for me to watch the kids pick out their letters and choose their desired color scheme. Below is a picture of the name tags that my students this year made.
I will write the students' class number on each name tag before I laminate them. I was impressed with their durability throughout the year last year. This name tag took a lot of time (cutting out the letters), but it didn't cost me anything, and I really believe that they are proud of the work they did!

~ Ashley

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Summer Reading Log

On the last day of school, we have a "Meet the Teacher" session, where we get to meet our upcoming students. It's a fun 30 minute meeting to tell a little about yourself and get to know them a little bit.

In my class, reading is very important, and I wanted to warn my upcoming students about this in a fun way. I started the conversation by telling them that, for me personally, I use summer to get my "fun" reading done and that they should too! To encourage summer reading, I wanted to give them a little something. I looked on Pinterest and found a couple of ideas on Simple As That & Creative Mamma blogs, but adapted them to be my own.

I gave each student a Reading Log for them track information for each book that they finished throughout the summer. Of course this is an optional activity, but I encouraged them to bring back the reading log with as many books as they can read and I would reward them for their hard work. I think I'll make a "Free Homework" pass to give to the students who chose to participate. Here' a copy of the log I gave them:

And, because just a piece of paper isn't enough... I gave them some Summer Bookworms! I went to Wal-Mart and got the biggest bags of sour gummy worms and put 10 worms into separate zip bags.

Then I made and stapled this label to the top of each bag. This label I found on Creative Mamma, but I put my name on it.  I really love this quote by Dr. Seuss about reading!
I know that doing this little act probably won't change some student's attitudes about summer reading... but one of my students said, "I'll eat one worm for every book I read!" and that comment made me feel like it was worth it! We will see how many kiddos turn in their list at the start of the school year!

 ~ Ashley

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

End of the Year

Being that it is summer, I'm not really sure where to start with my posts. I thought I would share what I did for end of year gifts for my students. I like to give some sort of something to my class at each of the holidays so they remember me, but I didn't really have anything specific for the end of the year. Looking on Pinterest, I found a teacher who gave a crazy straw and a Kool Aid packet and I loved that idea! It was simple and inexpensive! Here's how they turned out:

On the card I put a poem on one side and my "Crazy Kool Summer" message on the other. I found the poem on Pinterest as well, and I just liked how positive and upbeat it was! I used curling ribbon to attach the card and Kool Aid packet to the straw.

I would say that these gifts were a pretty big hit! The kids seemed to like them and I think they were different than anything else they had received in the past. I'm defintely doing this one next year!

~ Ashley

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Beg, Borrow, Steal...and Share!

Teaching is what I have wanted to do "when I grew up" for as long as I can remember. I love working with children everyday, to help them learn and grow in all ways. Besides being with the kids, I love the creativity that I get to tap into when creating lessons or decorating my classroom. 

My motto for teaching is "BEG, BORROW, & STEAL".... but also SHARE! I live by this motto for two reasons: 1. teaching requires a lot of time... so much time that there aren't enough hours in the day sit around creating the most perfect lesson plan for each subject for each day; 2. two heads are always greater than one - I love how a group of people can approach the same activity in a group of different ways! At the same time, when I have the opportunity to create something I think is pretty great, I want to share it with anyone who wants to hear!

When I first jumped on the Pinterest train, I would stay up late into the night jumping from one teacher blog to the next. I felt like I had just hit the JACKPOT! There were so many lessons, activities, organizational strategies, management strategies, I could go on and on... that people were sharing for free! I would dream late into the night about what I was going to do the next day in my classroom, and when I successfully implemented my own activity, I didn't have any place to share with others. 

So... here I am! Starting my first blog! I want to share some of the things that I am doing in my classroom everyday. I will try my best to stay up to date with my posts, but I know that the school year will get hectic. I appreciate your support and time checking out what I have to share! :o)


~ Ashley