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Friday, March 29, 2013

Giggle Moments Linky Party

Whenever you think your day is rough, imagine that poor newbie substitute who steps into an inner city kindergarten classroom ...

I always try to leave detailed plans for my substitutes.  Several years ago the substitute left a detailed note for ME.  It was a shocking note to say the least.  The gist was that he was considering being a teacher but thanks to this experience, he realizes that it wouldn't be a good idea.

Days later, I was still finding crayons in places crayons should not go... 

You could even link up any products that have silly written all over them...

Five for Friday (Good Friday 3/29)

I'm linking up with DoodleBugsTeaching for another Five for Friday!

1.  Spring Break is almost over!  I've enjoyed time with my family, working on my blog, and not feeling "rushed."

Please check out my end of the year class yearbook at my TpT store.  It really is a wonderful activity and the end of the year just sneaks up.  It is a big hit every year with the kids.  I am so excited to use this updated version.

2.  Three years ago, I was in California on Good Friday.  It was the last time I've been "home."  Even though I left CA at 21 and since lived in two other states, I still think of myself as a California Girl.  I was born in the valley after all, like totally. :)  On that same trip, I visited Arizona (my favorite place).  This is the view I miss more that I can put into words.  I love the mountains.  Even though the sun has not come all the way up in this picture, I know that the sky will soon be the most brilliant pinks, oranges, and purples.  It's the anticipation of the beauty to come.
3.  Yesterday I spent the day at my daughters daycare/school.  It was so fun.  She is not even a year old and had an egg hunt and a party.  I got to see the teacher do "line time" with six one year olds and almost one year olds.  They started with a song called, "Today is Thursday."  She read a short Bible story.  They sang the alphabet song and she signed it (just like I did when I taught Kindergarten). She read a book on the colors and a book with counting.  The kids were well behaved and were participating.  It was wonderful to see!  After that it was unstructured play for awhile.  She met with them again later for line time and read more stories and sang songs.  The kids knew the routines and I feel even better about sending her there when I go to work.  I still wish she could be with me all day.  I don't think that will ever change but at least I know that she is learning and is cared for.

It was interesting to experience the egg hunt and party from a parent perspective.  I was so nervous going to volunteer.
4.  Tomorrow I will tackle the huge bag of school work that I brought home to work on.  Where does the time go?

5.  Next week I will have to hit the ground running at school.  Only 8-9 more weeks left and testing is just around the corner.  This year has gone too fast.  I need more time with these babies.  Since I can't slow time down, I will will have to plan well and use every second.  Time management is oh so important!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Free 2015 April Calendar

FREEBIE!  (for the time being...) 

Updated April 2015

I've included two April calendars. They can be used in many ways. I like to track weather, record homework, or color in the square to show behavior. (Blue-Outstanding, Green-Good, Yellow-Needs Improvement, Red-Unacceptable)

You can even use the calendar to keep track of AR points, set goals (in reading or other subjects), and record minutes read. The possibilities are endless!

On a side note, I sell on eBay and promote other sellers.  If interested check out my eBay Store: Lowery's Loft.  My username on eBay is GroovyEducator (just like this blog).

Star Reader Reading Log

This is my newest product.  Even if you choose not to purchase this one, I've listed some ideas on how reading logs in general can be used in the classroom.

For $2.00 I've enclosed a few variations of the same reading log so that you can choose the version that works best in your classroom. 

!. You can use this form in class to hold your children accountable for reading during independent reading or center time. At the end of readers' workshop or independent reading, collect the reading logs and briefly question the children about the book/books listed. I usually draw the names of 2-3 students. (I have them written on popsicle sticks in a cup.) You can ask a quick question like who was the main character in the book? How do you know? Or what was your favorite part and why?

2. The reading log can be used to track Accelerated Reader (AR) points. (If your school participates in this program)

3. It can be used to document time read with parents at home or with a volunteer in the classroom. This works well if you participate in the Book It program.

4. You can even have the children practice rate the books they read. This can guide your discussion during reader's workshop.

I hope you find these reading logs helpful in your classroom.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

20% OFF SALE (Ends 3/26)

I am throwing a sale to celebrate Spring Break.  

Almost EVERYTHING is 20% off now through March 26th!

This is a great time to get the Class Yearbook (memory book)!  April is right around the corner and then May!  I like to plan ahead.  Purchasing this item now gives you time to look through the worksheets, decide on which ones you will use, make the copies,  and laminate the cover (optional). 

My Mad Minute is also on sale! (This rarely happens...)

The only product not on sale is my brand new item. - Star Reader Reading Log

Feel Free to grab my sale button! :)

Five For Friday!

I just love linking up with DoodleBugsTeaching for this Linky party!

What a week, what a week... (If you read only one of these five things, please read #5.)

1.  I have been sick since Saturday!  Yes that's right... A WHOLE week!  I still do not feel a hundred percent. :(  I had to miss THREE days of school this week due to the fever. :(  This is a nasty virus (sore throat, fever, cough, headache, stomache ache, etc).  BUT it afforded me the time to start not one but TWO LINKY PARTIES!

2.  We had our Egg Hunt at school and the kids were so sweet.  They had a BLAST! I just love my class.  They all brought in stuffed eggs earlier this week.  I counted them all up and checked them last night.  Some parents came to help me hide the eggs while the little darlings were at P.E.  Each kid had to find fifteen eggs and then sit on the bench until everyone was done.  They were not allowed to open the eggs until we got back to the classroom.  They handled that well!

When we returned it was a free for all!  I had drawings for some prizes as well.  Everyone won something.  I let the kids pick one egg to take with them to lunch.

We did projects and watched an introductory video on the solar system.

I felt guilty because I was still sick and the egg hunt wore me out.  Our day was not jam packed and was rather relaxed.  We will have to do a lot of catch up when we come back!

3.  Yes, I said it, when we come back!  I am on SPRING BREAK!

I know I should be more excited than I am.  I need this time to catch up.  My house is a disaster and needs major straightening and more baby proofing.  We are going to have my daughter's first birthday here next month.  She started WALKING!  (I guess this is number four but I'm clumping it with three.)

Aside from the house, I need to catch up on grading, writing report card comments, filling out checklists, and whatever else I lugged home in my bag. :)

4.  Smile moment:  The kids know how I love cows.  One was so sweet and brought me in a moo cow because I have been sick.  It poops candy!  I need to take a picture and put it on here.  Too funny!

5.  Just a reminder to always send your students off with them knowing how much you care because life changes in an instant.  Thursday, I called one of my sweeties up to have a quiet talk because he was making a series of poor choices.  We discussed how to turn his day around.  Usually at the end of the day I touch base again about "our talk" to remind the sweetheart that tomorrow is a new day and to learn from what happened today.  With that said, I did not touch base with this child and went home thinking about doing it in the morning.

The next morning, he's super quiet and his mom comes up to conference.  I'm expecting to discuss the talk I had with him the day before but instead she is apologetic about his homework and then goes on to tell me something that really hit home...

His sister was playing in her room the night before and somehow had her old (clunker T.V.) fall on her.  She is only four years old.  The paramedics were in my student's living room trying to save his sister's life.  His dad was not home and he was brave by being strong for his mom and his sister.  He had to witness the trauma.  His family spent most of the night at the ER.  Luckily his sister is fine.  She is sore, but she is fine.  The T.V. almost crushed her lung.

He still came to school ready to work the next day.  I told him how proud of him I was.  He made smart choices in a crisis.  He was an angel for his mama.  We shared what happened with the class.  I made sure to catch him being good.  At the end of the day he came up and gave me a big hug.  He said he did not want to go on Spring Break without doing that. (My eyes are welling up right now...)

His actions, his story, reminded me to send each child off at the end of the day with no regrets.  He reminded me that life changes in an instant.  We, teachers, do not know everything that is happening at home.  We need not assume and should treat poor choices with respect.  What I mean is that we should know our students the best we can by taking time to find out the why.  Ask what is going on?  Ask is everything okay?  I cannot tell you how many times over the years that a student broke down crying when I called him/her up to my desk and said, "I'm concerned.  You are making some poor choices today.  Is everything okay?"  I just wait and LISTEN.  We can't fix everything but we can show we CARE.  An extra minute of our time can make a world of difference in the life of a child.  Make sure to catch each child being good at least once a day! (Sorry for the ramblings...I just keep thinking what if it was my daughter?)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Linky a la TpT! (Newest Products)

Okay...perhaps it is because I am still sick with this flu/cold/sinus/thing-a-ma-bob OR perhaps it's because I am enjoying My First Linky Party so much that I am starting another one!  IT'S LINKY MADNESS! :)

Please link up your TpT Store or newest product so that you can advertise and share.

You can also link up with Educasong for an April Linky Party!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Mommy as Teacher

I've been home sick these last TWO days!  It's so frustrating!  I did sneak in my classroom at 6:30am Monday to make sure the leprechaun visited and make sure plans were in order.

Can you believe I had over a 100 degree fever Saturday, Sunday, and Monday?  Today I woke up drenched (luckily no fever) with a straggling sore throat that will not go away.  Luckily my husband was off and he took care of our soon to be one year old sweetie pie.

I slept and I slept and I slept.  I forgot what that felt like because it's been so long!  In the moments that I wasn't sleeping, when my teeth were chattering, I looked up ideas for my baby's first birthday.  It is sneaking up so quickly.

I feel so guilty that I wasn't grading papers!!!  It's so hard to find balance now that I am a mom.  I feel guilty when I am doing school work because I want to give my daughter 100% and I feel guilty when I am doing mommy jobs because I feel my other babies need 100%.

I can only do what I can do...I suppose...

It looks like her birthday will be at our house with a baby Minnie Mouse theme.  I wanted to do it at a community center because there are no pets and there is a park for the other kids to play at...but they cost the same as some party places.  I guess it makes sense with it being her first birthday to be in a place where she feels comfortable.  It looks like Spring Break next week will be Spring clean, clean, clean.

I need to do that in my classroom too...

How to find balance???  Any suggestions?  Any suggestions on first birthdays?

Friday, March 15, 2013

Favorite Blog Post Linky Party
Welcome to my first linky party!  Please submit a link to your favorite blog post.

There is a wealth of information out there.  I would love for everyone to share their best work/ideas in one place.  Please link up to make this a valuable resource to reference.
TBA's Ultimate Linky Party

On a side note, I sell on eBay and promote other sellers.  If interested check out my eBay Store: Lowery's Loft.  My username on eBay is GroovyEducator (just like this blog).

Five for Friday

I am linking up with DoodleBugsTeaching for another fun Five for Friday. 

1.  Last Sunday, my daughter had her picture taken with the Easter Bunny.  It was an experience.  She is normally a super friendly little darling...

When she saw the Easter Bunny, her eyes bulged and she let out a blood curdling scream right there in the middle of the mall.  She was dressed to the nines but my husband and I were not.  We all ended up in the picture.  It's interesting.  I know we will laugh about it in the years to come.  

We were not expecting this because she loved Santa.  She brings us so much joy.  Every moment is a learning experience around her.  I see the world with new eyes.

 2.  My class made Leprechaun traps today.  Since St. Patrick's Day falls on Sunday we did this activity today and will have a treat on Monday.  I had the children develop a plan and draw out a draft before commencing.  Their materials consisted of a handful of popsicle sticks, scrap paper, and yarn.  They could also color the sticks if they wanted.  I am definitely doing this activity again!  They were highly engaged!

 After completing the trap, they wrote a letter trying to convince or persuade the leprechaun to visit their creation.   Each child had an opportunity to explain the thought process behind the trap and read their letter.  Everyone had such creative ideas.

This example illustrates how one student used the yarn to create a rope for the leprechaun to get up on his desk.  He hung the rope over the side.  Once the leprechaun gets on his desk he will be attracted to the color green, go inside, and get trapped.

In this example the student uses scrap paper to trick the leprechaun.  He said that the leprechaun will play in the paper, go inside, and get trapped.  (His wood model is underneath.)
This last example shows a model where the child made a house.  He said that the leprechaun will like the house he built for him so much that he will stay in there until Monday.

Before I left on Friday, I made a MESS.  I tipped over chairs, spread out papers, dumped book bins, put glitter on their desks and inside some of their pencil boxes.  Monday morning, I plan on stamping green baby feet (leprechaun feet) on their desks and projects.  I am going to leave a note for us to find from the leprechaun stating how much he enjoyed their clever ideas but he was too sly to get caught.  He will leave the class a surprise treat.

3.  My husband's best friend visited from New York.  It was a whirlwind this week.  I am sad that he had to go because it is always so fun to hang out.  My parents babysat our daughter so my husband and I could go to a movie with our friend.  We saw OZ and it was WONDERFUL.  I enjoyed so much.  I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a movie so much.

4.  I was unable to access the seller's forum on Teachers Pay Teachers for most of the week.  It drove me bonkers.  I didn't realize how much I am getting into that site.  I need time to make more products for TpT.  I hope to make some over Spring Break.  (It is the week after next!)  I still have to clean house and plan my daughter's first birthday party.

5.  Here are a couple of funnies!!!  I call them funnies because every time I think about these comments I can't help but chuckle.

ENTHUSIASTIC student comment at lunch:  "I figured out what color the Cheeto really is!  White.  It has orange SaySon on it!

SERIOUS student comment while lining up:  "I know how it feels when you put your finger in your eye.  It feels like a volcano!  It burns."

Student Tattle:  "A kid in your class is putting dog poop on the soccer ball."  --- This is not really funny but it kinda is.  How often do you hear it?  NEVER :)

OKAY I guess I have a 6 for Friday this week!  I started my first Linky Party!  It's where you can post your absolute favorite blog post!

Sunday, March 10, 2013


As I mentioned in a previous post, I've decided my classroom theme is going to be stars.  I keep going over sayings and I am reflecting on future bulletin boards.

One idea that popped in my head is a bulletin board entitled We are STARS!  Each kid could have their picture on a star and the following message could be on a mega big star...even a 3-D pop out star.

S-Students who
T-Try their best
A-Always finish their work
R-Read Everyday and
S-Start each day ready to learn

Right now this is just an idea that's developing...I'm sure it will evolve several times...

Any thoughts?

Friday, March 8, 2013

Five For Friday (March 8th)

I am so excited to link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for another Five for Friday!

A couple of my items are more personal and not school related this time.

1.  My baby girl WALKED!  I mean she took five steps carefully and didn't fall.  She is almost 11 months old.  I am so excited.  She has done this a few times this week.  It never ceases to amaze me how much she has learned in such a short time.

2.  In my quest to get healthy, I attempted jogging!  It felt good to do more than I thought I could.  Whenever I undertake something challenging, I try to look at it from a kid's perspective so I can be empathetic to their struggle at times.

3.  On a sad note, a friend's cancer came back full force.  She is in the hospital.  Please pray for peace and relief from the pain.  Life is a gift and circumstances can change quickly in either direction.  Times like these make me realize that life is unpredictable and that we need to cherish the small moments.  Before a child leaves my room I want to make sure he/she knows that someone cares about him/her and that he/she is important!

4.  On a lighter note, I saw a mega egg at Target for $3.00. I thought it would be fun to buy it and place a mystery object inside.  The children can use it for several writing activities.
They can use their senses to predict what might be inside.
They can write about how the mega egg could be used.
What animal lays mega eggs?
How would you get out of a mega egg?
How many cubes fit in the egg?  Explain how you can find out?
What would you do if you saw an egg this size hatching.

Oooo this could be a fun writing center!  It could be called the Mystery Egg Center

5.  I am liking how I changed my groups so I can meet with everyone every day.  I have three groups.  The groups are teacher, technology, activity.
With me we work on our reading skills.
Technology includes use of the ipad, ipods, and computers.  I would like to also pull in the smartboard.
The activity center changes everyday.  Monday it is poetry; Tuesday it is writing (great time for the egg activity), Wednesday is a response to literature or seasonal activity, Thursday is read to self.  Friday is choice if we have time to get to stations.

Oh dear... I am nodding off!!!  Where does the time go???  As always I would love your feedback.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

An Idea

I just had an idea this afternoon that I am debating on doing next year.  I would appreciate your thoughts...

While grading papers, I was thinking about how far the children have come since the beginning of the year.  I was also reflecting on the common core standards and the first grade mastery checklist that I need to fill out again this quarter.

Wouldn't it be nice if every child had a testing binder to document their progress?  Now I'm not talking about the regular assessment file or data notebook each teacher usually keeps on each child but rather their classroom tests (reading tests, math chapter tests and checkpoints, science tests, etc.).  Each folder could have tabs for each subject.  Whenever a test is completed, I could add it to each kids' binder and the parents could sign off on it.  There could be a sheet at the front to document.  It would go home on Friday and come back on Monday.  It would be a great study guide to review what we have learned AND it would be a wonderful tool for filling out those checklists...

Just a thought...

Monday, March 4, 2013

Favorite Advice

I am linking up with Dragonflies in First to share the best advice from mentors/peers.  It is hard to choose because there are so many words of wisdom that have been so helpful.  If I had to choose one it is based on what a current first grade coworker shared with me one day...

Assign each child a number and have them write it on all their papers.  This makes filing a dream (especially if you have a helper).  It facilitates writing grades in the grade book, checking out books (inventory) , and it lends itself to this catchy tune I created.

Number, name, and date.
Number, name, and date.
isn't it great to write your number, name, and date.

Tune:  Farmer in the Dell (I believe)

We sing this song before every activity.

Each child having a number can be used for a multitude of things including mailboxes and lining up.  The possibilities are endless!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

March 2nd is Dr. Seuss' birthday.

This year my class did a home project-Book Reports!

On Friday the children shared their reports with each other during our first Book Talk and Walk and then with the class.  They did such a nice job!

We also made Cat in the Hat pictures and hats.  Here are the steps on how to make the cutest Cat in the Hat hats ever!


18x24 inch white paper.
18x24 inch red paper
12x18 white paper


Measure each child's head with the 18x24 inch white paper.  (These hats are tall!)  Staple to hold in place.

Cut 18x24 inch red paper in half.  Fold it so that there are four long, skinny straight strips.  Cut or have children cut.

Have students glue red strip to top of had and then leave a white space, glue another red, etc to make a pattern.

Brim Directions:

Trace circle around base of hat.

Draw a 2-3 inch larger circle around this circle.  Inside the circle draw tabs.  Cut out the middle.  See picture.

Cut and fold up tabs.

Tape/glue tabs inside tall part of hat.

Ta Da!  You did it!

Celebrate today by taking a picture with Cat in the Hat!

Five for Friday (March 1st)

I am so excited to link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for another Five for Friday!

1.  Since Read Across America day falls on Saturday this year, my class did our first Book Talk and Walk on Friday.  March 2nd is Dr. Seuss' birthday so to celebrate my class did book reports on Dr. Seuss books.  For the Book Talk and Walk, each child walked the track and shared their book report with two partners.  I chose their partner the first lap and they chose their partner the second lap.  

This activity was a hit!  The kids loved it.  Next week I plan to do a Book Talk and Walk on our reading story (just one lap).  This is such a neat activity because you can use it in just about every subject.  We might even do a science talk and walk to prepare for the test.  The best way to hold the children accountable is to do a quick check where they share what their partner said OR write what their partner said. 

2.  Our unit is Homes so we began our model of a room in our home.  I had the children brainstorm using Step Up to Writings T-Chart.  They make a plan for their walls, floor, and furniture.  Then I gave them a precut file folder to make the room model.  

3.  This must have been project week because we made room models for our Homes unit and Dr. Seuss hats too!  See my new post on Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss to see how to make them.  They turned out cute!

4.  I started my FIRST give away.  It's so exciting to learn new things.  I plan on doing more as I learn what works and what can be improved.

5.  My husband and I had a date night and I got to see a movie!  Since we had our darling daughter we have not had a night with just the two of us.  I take that back I think we may have had one.  It was so fun to dine downtown and then even have time to catch a movie.  It felt like high school.  I was so giddy!