Thursday, June 27, 2013


Hi, Friends!  How are ya? It’s Thursday…time for another installment of Throwback Thursday! I absolutely bloggy *LOVE* Cara Caroll! She is the absolute sweetest! Her posts are always fun and completely crack me up!

I cracked open my copy of The Next Step in Guiding Reading yesterday and flew through the first chapter  with highlighter, sticky notes and pen in hand! I absolutely LOVE teaching reading and my literacy block is my FAVORITE time of day! It’s the kid’s favorite too! As I read the first chapter and saw how it aligns so wonderfully with The Daily Five, I thought back to how much easier stations became this past year after incorporating D5. Talk about….take a load off! Whew!


One of the concepts mentioned in Chapter One of the book was providing students with individual book boxes, sooooo I thought for this Throwback Thursday, I’d share with you what we kept in ours this past year.  It was a pretty popular post. I hope you find it helpful. 

It was originally posted October 2012.  Enjoy!

As we’ve moved into week 7 of school, we’ve practiced and launched all of the components of Daily 5.  One thing my kids love the most about it…….??? Their book box! They carry those things around from spot to spot like their lives depend on it! 

Well, except for a couple that just leave it sitting any old where! Their book boxes just may come up missing! And then we’ll see how well they keep up with it! Ha!

photo 1

Our little $1 boxes are holding up well and the kids are filling them with lots of goodies! They’ve become a real important piece to keep our day running smoothly.  They’ve also helped me to keep the copy cops at bay because we use them as part of our morning work routine too.  No more worksheets…..well, at least not as many.

Each morning when students come in, they put their personal belongings away.  Their Take Home folder goes into a bin.  They indicate their lunch choice for the day and then…..and then….and then? They grab their book box! It’s the first and last thing we use each day.

They get their book box and head to a “read to self” spot also known as the pieces of blue painter’s tape stuck around the room on the floor! It helps to spread them out, so no one is sitting too close to anyone that might break their stamina.  Works like a charm!

photo 2

After finding a comfy, cozy spot each student reads a book or two (of their choice) from their book box.  Once they’ve finished reading, they each move to their desk to write about the book that they read.  This is done at their own pace, so some may be reading while others are just getting unpacked.  Some may be writing or completing a writing from the day before.  Everyone is busy becoming a better reader or writer.

Inside of each friend’s book box is a leveled reader, a decodable reader, a reader’s notebook, 3 “good fit books of their choosing and a folder.

On Friday afternoons, we swap the leveled reader for a new one for the following week and return the 3 “good fit” books back to the classroom library.  The decodable reader stays put for the entire 6 weeks because it contains many stories that follow the phonics patterns of our main story each week.  Can you imagine how much these repeated readings will help to build their fluency by year’s end? *LOVE*

photo 3

On Monday mornings, students are allowed to visit the classroom library to “I-PICK”  3 new “good fit” books. 

photo 5

Inside of each kiddos folder is their personal coaching sheet.  This sheet is a handy reference tool for “reading to someone”.  If a friend should get stuck on a word, they’ll have the strategies that we’ll be using during shared and guided reading to help each other read words.  Rather than simply tell the word, we want to help our friends to offer either coaching or time {to figure out the word}. 

Sooo, if you’d like to toss one into your student’s book boxes too, click the pic below to grab one!


I’d love to know…..What’s in YOUR book box?


Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Hi, Friends! How are ya? Thanks so much to the friends who left a comment on my last post. It’s reassuring to know that I’m not the only one who obsesses about their closet! There may be a pile here or there in other places, but for someone (like me) who hits the snooze button waaay too many times….I’ve got to be able to get in there and find what I’m looking for FAST!

Polished Teacher, Yvonne, and Danica….check your email! There are some goodies headed your way!


…and for the rest of my friends click the pics below to grab a couple of freebies that I’ve created to “complete the look”. The decor in my room is usually pretty minimal because I like for student work to be the foreground.

I think this cute little chevron set, using primarily the neutral gray, is going to set a peaceful tone with our freshly painted lemon colored wall!

This will be our behavior clip chart.  It’s intended to be hung vertically with the 3 sheets of paper connected by a pretty touch of ribbon. Purple, blue and pink on top…yellow, orange and red on the bottom.

Chevronbehavior clip chart2013

Adore the Daily 5? Use the CAFE board in your classroom? Click the pic below to grab the coordinating CAFE menu!

Chevroncafe menu blog2013

Enjoy the freebies! Here’s a little peek at what I’m working on completing NEXT….{this is the font on the freebies above}….*LOVE*!!!

photo 2 (Font by Tanya Dwyer:  TD aplusfirsties)



Saturday, June 22, 2013

Five for Friday~Am I the ONLY one?

Hi, Friends! How are ya? Enjoying summer? Yep! Me too….so much so that I’m beginning to lose track of what day it is already!


Am I the only one that does this? Surely not! Between the extra naps, scoops of ice cream, and lazy evenings chatting out under shade trees, I’m sure those of us who’ve just gotten out of school REALLY don’t care what day it is, lol!!!

A friend of mine and I were talking about how we organize {or don’t} organize things and she told me I was just a little weird! The nerve! Heheheeee…’s why….


….because I keep my shoes in the boxes after I buy them. Ha! Am I the only one that does that? I’m pretty thrifty when it comes to clothes. I’ve yet to meet a clearance rack that I didn’t like, but my shoes are a different story. I don’t mind paying for comfort. After I’ve bought them, especially if they weren’t on sale, you’d best believe those little boogers are hanging out in their little box homes until I need them! If they come in a box, they’re staying in a box….=)

Another of my little quirks, esteemed qualities {smile} is that I love rainbow order! Like BIG PUFFY HEART *LOVE*…..Blame it on ROY G. BIV.  He’s one of my favorite book characters! My first few days of break were spent organizing my closet…


Don’t leave me hanging! If your OCD is on the same level as mine, leave a comment, show a little love before I really do begin to believe I’m weird! Ok….now, after I got my closet all organized, I hit the net for a little inspiration for my classroom decor.

I love the story ‘The Dot’ and initially planned to use it as a theme, until I found some cute little birdies on a branch over at Sonya DeHart’s. I fell in love with them and began incorporating them into my decor and 97 pages later came up with a little of this….


…and that…..


….AND THESE….!!!


Sonya even had some beautiful blossom clipart that matches my book boxes perfectly! Again…organization *LOVE*! After printing, prepping and checking to make sure the pieces of my little pack of goodies would fit their intended purposes, I am so happy with it! Chevron, birds, blossoms, chalkboard…..oh my! What’s not to love?  I CAN wait to use it, but will absolutely LOVE it when it’s all in place!

With that in mind, mind if I share it?!


Leave a comment below sharing one of your favorite ways of organizing or simply let me know that you obsess about keeping your shoes in the boxes or color coding your closet too, so I know I’m not alone! I’ll use random number generator one day early next week…say Tuesday~ish (06.25.13) to choose 3 winners. Sound like a plan? Feel free to pin away…….GO!

See ya on Tuesday!


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Throwback Thursday…Linky Parrtay!!!

Hi, Friends! Just as I was thinking about maybe getting up off of the couch, the fab Cara Caroll posted an invite to a weekly linky! I just *LOVE* her and all of the wonderful ideas she shares! Soooo, instead of moving from my comfy spot, I grabbed the laptop to link up! Hopefully, you’re enjoying a lazy summer morning and will take a few minutes to link up too.

The idea for the linky is simple….grab one of your previous posts to share again! What’s old is new again! Bam! Done! Sweet, simple and a chance to possibly share something old with new friends.

This little post was originally shared on August 6, 2012. Hey, I can’t throwback too far, I’ve only been blogging just over a year, lol! Thanks for joining in the fun. It’s been the best year ever! I’m not quite sure how I taught BEFORE blogging after having the opportunity to collaborate with soooo many fantastic teachers around the globe! Enjoy……….again! =)

Hi, Friends! I’ve been asked that question several times this summer as I’ve shared my excitement for implementing the Daily 5. We have an amazingly fun time in my classroom! I am really big on structure and routines. My absolute favorite time of day is literacy workstations and over the years, I’ve tweaked and tweaked and developed a system that has worked really well for us.  Teachers sometimes walk by and peak into the room just to see if we’re actually in there because the room is generally quiet (during our literacy block) with kids involved in meaningful work stations and literacy activities.

Our Math block is whole ‘nother story! Let me just say….manipulatives and firsties does not equal quiet! Hehehe!  Over and over I’ve been asked….what you have in place works so well, why change it?

AND here’s why. The answer for me is pretty simple. It’s because I have personally made a commitment to improve (continuously). I will never see anything in my classroom as perfect with no need of change. Every year, every class is different and I want my teaching and what is in place in my classroom to evolve, challenge, differentiate, and go deeper. I want it to be responsive to changes in research and to meet the rigor of what I know students will face as they continue on their individual journeys of life long learning.

photo 1
I’ve used Debbie Diller{ish} stations for the past 3 years and they’ve worked wonderfully! What I will be doing this year, will not be entirely different, it will just be more focused on the 5 specific areas that students need most in order to become successful readers.  My biggest challenge has been wrapping my mind around allowing the students choice, BUT then I had two HUGE epiphanies!
1. I don’t want to be told how to teach all day long! I want to be told what to teach and left alone to create and implement instruction that will best benefit my students.  
2. When I taught Pre-K, I DID allow my students choice in their learning stations and trusted them to be responsible for their learning. Guess what? They chose and they were! AND some of them were only 3 years old! ANNNND many of them left my classroom as emergent readers!

Now, if I enjoy having choices as a teacher and if I can trust a 3 year old to choose a station, why did I think I had to TELL my firsties where to go AND what to do? {LIGHTBULB!}

So, I’ve put the stations chart away. I’ve put up our CAFE menu with Daily 5 choices and am going to build stamina as the year begins. We’ll move to choice when my students show me, through their actions, that they are ready.

{Deep breath……} NOW, if I get a group of “what THE what”, we’re going right back to that stations chart, lol!!!

For now, I’m letting go of some of the control and trusting that through modeling and practice (then some more modeling and some more practice), my students will rise to the occasion and be responsible for their learning. With our standards being setup in a workshop model, the Daily 5 will be PERFECT and fit beautifully! I’m excited about the changes in instruction this year will bring!

To that end, I’m prepping and getting the details of our room ready! What could make them even better? Sharing them with YOU, that’s what!

 My little bloggity blog is growing and slowly ticking towards 400 followers! What?!! You guys are fantastic! The feedback, conversations, and exchanges that I’ve shared with all of you is greatly appreciated and will undoubtedly help to make me a better teacher! Wasn’t that why we started blogging in the first place? It’s been great seeing so far out beyond the 4 walls of my classroom!

Soooooooooo, instead of a giveaway to celebrate, let’s start a frenzy! A FREEBIE frenzy!

Tune in every day this week for a freebie to get geared up for the new year! I’m not quite at 400 followers yet, so FB this little cutie, G+, Pin It, Tweet it…..share it ‘til your heart’s content! My goal is to reach 400 followers by Friday. With fab followers like YOU, I know it’s possible……THEN the race will be on….to 500! I’ll be calling in reinforcements for that one!  Anywhoooo, here’s your freebie for today!
Click the pic to grab them and I’ll see you tomorrow! Same bat channel, same bat time….with another fantastic freebie! Thanks for following!

 See ya soon, Raccoon!
  Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

If you're interested, the freebie is still available. Just click the pic the download and grab it! Now, hop over to Cara's to check out some of the other fantastic Throwback Thursday posts! You can click the linky pic to get there....See ya there!


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

My teacher always says…Linky

It’s summer, so you know what that means! Bring on the linky parties! I’m linking up with Tammy from Forever in First to share a few of the funnies that I hear trickle out of my mouth on a pretty consistent basis. Of course, this is only a sample…there are soooo many more!

So, let’s get started, shall we? =)


Cut right to the chase with that one, huh? This is a biggie! We have lots of discussions about whether or not the words we’re using are tattling to get someone in trouble or telling to ensure everyone’s safety. Usually, the answer to this question requires a little thinking and often leads to kiddos deciding on a solution for their problem without my help. Love it!


If the first one doesn’t work and the “Can I tell you something?” actually does turn out to be a tattle, the next question I ask is…. “Who are YOU {emphasis on YOU} responsible for?”. Results…..kid sighs, says ME…smiles…and walks away.

We spend a LOT of time at the beginning of the year establishing classroom expectations as a little school family. Because I involve the kids in establishing the expectations, I absolutely hold them responsible for them. Soooo, when I see wackadoodle behavior, I simply ask the question above which usually results in either a big whopping smile or admittance and self-correction.


Now, this one I usually hum under my breath on days when I need a little help, lol! Hey, (in my Uncle Si voice…) who better to call on when you need help to make it through a tough day? When I’m humming this little diddy…run, don’t walk…..RUN in the opposite direction!


After I’ve taught a sight word or phonics pattern…I expect my kiddos to use their “tools” to spell the word correctly….so if they ask me how to spell it, I usually turn it around and put it back on them to take ownership of their learning.


Have you seen Despicable Me? This one you HAVE to say in your “minion” voice! Surprised? Shocked? In awe….this is your go-to response. BUT you have to remember to use your minion voice and watch the giggle fest begin. If you haven’t seen the first movie, you’ll get another chance very soon. Despicable Me 2 comes out July 3rd. I’m thinking your minion voice will be pretty popular this year!


Each and every day…I tell my kids that I love them {because I do} especially when they do something their proud of. For 9 months we spend our entire day together, working, learning and becoming our best selves. I love them to pieces!

I’ve been told I express a lot more with my face, than I say verbally….so, “the look” is pretty effective for me too, but its kinda hard to type that one in a text box! Ha! I know there are a few phrases you can think of that you use all the time. Head over and link up with Tammy to share them! I bet we’ll find that we all have a few in common!

Happy summer to my friends already out…enjoy the linky fun! To my friends, still wrapping up the year…chin up, almost there!



Friday, June 14, 2013

Five for Friday~1st Week of Summer!!!

Hi, Friends! Hopefully, by this time most of you are enjoying your first few days of summer! This was our first week out and its been a busy one! Both kiddos have been involved in summer activities so this mama has yet to meet a morning without an alarm clock!


With them both having to be up and out of the house by 8, I’ve had a little time all to myself. THAT is absolutely unheard of….I am next to never without a kid by my side, so while I enjoyed it, it felt very strange! It seems like I’ve been a mama my whole life, lol….and most of the time my kids are with me. These few hours of alone time allowed me some time to reflect over the year we just wrapped up and squeeze in some much needed naps!

One of my sweet little wigglebottoms came to school every day of the last week with a note and picture for me. His mom later told me that he insisted on carrying a notepad everywhere just in case he decided to write me a letter. So sweet! It’s good to know I chose the right job! That little note is all the teacher evaluation I need, lol! *LOVE*!


By the time we got around to the last day, I was spoiled rotten with a lot of my favorite things! It always amazes me how attentive kids REALLY are. Even when it looks like they’re not paying a bit of attention, the truth of the matter is….they are. They notice everything! They notice what we wear, if our toes are painted, what our favorite colors are, what we snack on…if we feel well or not. AND most of all, they notice when we genuinely show concern for and build relationships with them.

I know I’ve said it a million times, but I love my class! They’re each a little reflection of all the reasons why I chose this profession and are uniquely special. A few I’ll always remember for being wigglebottoms, some because they’ll certainly grow up to be teachers, others for their wonderful smiles and loving nature, others because they challenged me to grow as a teacher. BUT each year, there’s always a kid….or two….that just get you, you know? Your personalities just mesh perfectly and you can just look at each other and have an entire conversation that no one else is in on except the two of you. Yep….I love my class and I’ll miss each one of them! The year may be over but they’ll always be one of “my kids”.


I’ll also miss them because I will be changing campuses next year. This meant I had to pack up ALL of my personal things to take home. {Insert…OMG, what?!!----------->here!} Yes, I had to pack up all of my personal teacher stuff. You know what that means….what started out with a little neat pile ended up looking like this…..


…..and MORE! The purple bins are still in the same spot, they’re just surrounded by LOTS of stuff. AND that’s not all, so when I got a chance to peek at my new classroom, I wasn’t worried one bit…


…about being in need of anything because I’ve got an entire classroom stored in my garage right now! I have also quietly admitted that I should probably be banned from Lakeshore Learning. I have just as much school furniture as I do home furnitire!

I’m beyond excited about the possibilities the new year will bring….{AFTER ENJOYING SUMMER BREAK}…..the room was used for storage this year, so most of what’s in there will be getting the boot come August. Did you notice how much wall space there is?! {Content sigh…} Thank you, Lord…I’ll have walls again! Walls to display our learning and walls that I can staple to create a warm, welcoming environment for my little school family. Walls that I can push a table up next to for stations work…walls that we can use for pocket charts to encourage independence…walls that….oh, you get the idea! I’m excited to have access to actual walls, lol!

As I prepare for our environment…here’s a sneak peek into what I’ll be reading to prep for learning….

Happy summer, y’all!



Sunday, June 9, 2013

End of Year Wild Things

Hi, Friends! It seems like its been since my last blog post! The last few weeks have been crazy busy, but alas the tick tock of the clock has signaled the end of another year! That makes lucky number 13! WOW!  I wasn’t sure that this year was ever going to come to an end, but once it was finally here, it was definitely bittersweet and a bit surreal.


One thing I love about the last week of school is how the pace of things slow down just enough for enjoying each other to be the priority over squeezing everything in, testing, or gathering data. Now, let me just keep it real and say…….. my class was ready to go their separate ways by the last day of school because the {sibling} tattle tongues were running rampant! Lol! Nevertheless, our last week was all about having fun and enjoying our few remaining days as a little family unit.

Our Kinder friends stopped in to get a quick preview of what first grade will be like. We let them sit in our “big kid” chairs at the desks, and each student read one sentence to tell why 1st grade will be the best grade ever!


We read, we sang, we laughed and they left reassured with a smile!

For W Day of our ABC countdown, we created our wild selves. Have you ever used this little site? It’s super easy, informative and the kids *LOVE* it! We wrapped up the year in science learning about different habitats so this was the perfect, fun culminating activity! After the first friend shared how to use it, kiddos were sent to the computer station in groups of four to create their wild selves. What was the rest of the class doing?

Wellll, that’s where classroom management a.k.a the “quiet game” comes in! It is amazing how quietly friends will sit, in order to be the friend who gets to build their “self” in front of the whole wide world! After the friend at the laptop finished, they got to go over and choose a friend following rug rules to build theirs. The friends at the computer station did the same thing.

Unless we’re completing an assessment, I don’t feel like my whole class absolutely has to be doing the same thing at the same time. This little project had three steps and as long as they were engaged in completing one of them, I was one happy, happy, happy teacher.

After building their wild self, they illustrated it and wrote about what they would do as the wild self they built. With the inclusion of so many different animal parts, the activity lent itself to some fun, creative writing and an opportunity for students to share what they had previously learned about habitats.


Behavior during the last week a little wild and crazy, you say? Don’t fight it! Channel it…build your wild self, push back the desks, work on the floors, let students pick their seats, allow them to work on projects together, write the room, work together, sing, read, chat {with a purpose} and most of all have fun! Afterall, they may never see some of these friends again. It’s a very special time of year.


Annnd, pull a little something new out of your bag of tricks. I had been promising my kiddos…all year long…(time flies when you’re having fun)…to add a clock to our classroom floor. FINALLY<-------------THEIR WORDS, NOT MINE, lol, I added one during the last week to review telling time in a fun way. We used Jack Hartmann’s ‘Hip Hop Around the Clock’ to play “musical chairs” with the large clock on the floor.

Students walked around the clock and stopped as he gave a specific time during the song. As he gave the time, the student closest to the hour for the time stood on it and got a sticker. The person who got the sticker, then moved to the carpet with a small Judy clock to show the time from the song and sing to cheer on those still in the game. I was dizzy as I don’t know what watching them go ‘round and ‘round the clock, but they were so happy that it was definitely worth it ANNNNNNND it started my wheels turning for next year!

ANNNNNNNNNND guess what? I made some REAL numbers to put down on the floor to match the color scheme of my new classroom! Yep! I’m one of those crazy teachers who just got out and is already thinking of what I’ll do differently for next year! Cray, cray, I know….


I’m going from a dark purple accent wall to a sunny yellow one, so 2013-2014 is literally going to be so much brighter! If you think you might be able to use these little babies, click the pic to download them! Can you tell what my color scheme is going to be? Chevron *LOVE*….



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