Monday, May 23, 2016

Chaos to Control..the Early Years

My life has been crazy for the past week, month, year, life. I am determined to get more organized for the next school year. I am starting by looking for the perfect binder and have decided that in order to get it done right, I am going to have to make one myself. I have made several teacher binders at my Teachers Pay Teachers store, but I need to tweak those even more. I am an itinerant teacher that works with Deaf/Hard of Hearing children from the ages of 3 through high school, so some of my paperwork is specialized.

This post is super short because my mother in law fell and is not doing well in ICU. We are exhausted and my brain is not working well. But I wanted to encourage others with a Monday Freebie. It is the weekly calendar portion of my binders, and it covers two pages. It has a section for morning, afternoon, personal and notes. I added a little color, but not so much that it will eat up all the ink. Please click on the picture below to enjoy!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Where Were You Born?

People tell me I have really funny stories. I have decided that if I tell one, I want to blog it so I will remember it and perhaps make a great book for my girls. These will be random but entertaining. Today I told someone the story about trying to get through Customs after a cruise.

This was right before passports became a requirement and you only needed a birth certificate. On the last night one of my twin girls (who were 10 years old at the time) spilled coke on the birth certificates and they became glued together. I mean it was like trying to peel a cheap sticker off of your windshield. Megan's was in plain sight but you could not see any of Katie's. I was a little worried, but thought surely there won't be any problem. They're identical twins after all. Well...

When we arrived at Customs, I plopped down the birth certificates in front of the official and said, "I'm sure this has happened before." I explained the situation with the coke and demonstrated how trying to peel back the paper only made it worse. He was not amused. "No, this has never happened before." (A running theme in my life, you will discover.) He grumpily called an even grumpier man and they separated us. As the grumpier man was questioning me, I could here what was going on in the office where they had placed Katie. I heard the big grumpy officer with a gun almost yell at her "Where were you born?" Then Katie's sweet little high pitch voice said, "I don't know -- in a hospital?" At that time both of the officers laughed and let us through without any more drama. We have cruised a couple of times since then, but I still get nervous about going through customs.

Monday, May 16, 2016

It's Movie Time! Where's the Popcorn?

This is a fun creative writing activity that my students beg to do again and again. Here’s how it works. Print the character sheets on white paper, and the setting sheets on yellow paper. Cut them out and put them in a popcorn container. (I fill most of the container with crumpled paper before I put the character and setting pieces on top.) Cut the slips of paper out, then crumple them  to form individual pieces of popcorn.

Now comes the fun part. Let the children take turns picking one yellow and one white piece of popcorn. When they open them, they will have a surprise character and setting to write about.
Who wouldn’t love writing about a pirate in a fancy restaurant or a clown fish by the railroad. When you do it again, just reuse the pieces. It is unlikely they will get the same combination again. There are 16 settings and 16 characters. Just click on the picture to get your free download today!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Homeschoolers, Anyone?

I am so excited because on Saturday I am going to be a vendor for the first time at a homeschool convention in Cabot, Arkansas. I have never done anything like this before and there will be a lot of established companies (ever heard of Abeka?) there.  Here I come with my little table of goodies. I'll be sure to let you know how it turns out.

I was so blessed to be able to homeschool my twin girls during two periods of their life. They were both special needs failing first grade and non-readers, so my husband and I decided I should take a year off of teaching other children and work with my own. We went against the popular public school course of study, and focused on only reading, writing, and 'rithmatic. I think we averaged reading 2 1/2 hours a day. By Christmas they were above grade level so we added science and social studies. That is the advantage of homeschooling - you can really individualize your instruction and make the biggest impact in the shortest amount of time.

Fast forward to the second time, middle school. They were struggling some academically, but I was more concerned about the influences of peers during middle school. This is where I have seen so many children flail and not make it back to the "good" side and I did not want to risk it with my children. They weren't too excited about our decision at first but finally accepted it as we moved from 6th to 8th grade. We put them back in public school for high school in Colorado Springs, and they had the most amazing Special Education staff. My girls are now in their second year of college and doing great! I know homeschooling is a very personal choice, but I know it was the best thing at times for our family.

Both daughters have thanked me for homeschooling them, especially during middle school. They both said they plan to do the same. When that time comes, I hope they are close enough that I can at least be their substitute teacher!

In honor of those hard working homeschool moms, I have made a binder that will be a tremendous resource. It includes the basic school stuff (lesson plan templates, long range goal templates, technology lists, etc.), but it also includes things we moms need to make our lives easier (chore charts, Bible study templates, to do lists, menu planners, etc.)  It is for sale in my Teachers Pay Teachers store, but I have a sample that you can download for free here.  Just click on a picture below to get your free download!

This sample has nine pages. The final product has over 70! Check out the final product here!

I have several varieties of chore charts, boy/girl and color/black and white.

These To Do lists are my go to! I have several themes to choose from, and they have To Do lists, Bible Study guides, and a matching Notes page!

Monday, April 25, 2016

If the Floor Could Open Up and Swallow Me Now Please!

I like to think of myself as a great communicator. I give presentations and people actually clap. I often find myself the one who re-explains something to a class so they can grasp a difficult concept. I actually take pride in how parents feel comfortable reaching out to me. And yet...

I was thinking back to a time I taught first grade at the Arkansas School for the Deaf. I was known as the crafty teacher where scissors and glue were a staple at our table. We were cutting out a project when one of my girls dropped her scissors and went under the table to get it. She was taking a while, so another girl signed "I'll help," and went under the table as well. I was distracted by other students so it took a while before I noticed they had both  been under the table for a long time. Too long. Swallowing my anxiety I bent to look under the table.

Before I continue this story, you need to understand that the first little girl had beautiful blonde hair that had never been cut. It went to her seat. It was always perfectly groomed and shimmered gloriously in the sunlight. I think you may know where I am going with this...

I looked under the table and saw four terrified eyes looking back at me. Girl #2 had the fallen pair of scissors, but she also had a handful of beautiful blonde hair. It had been cut to the scalp right in the middle of Girl #1's forehead!

There is no Hallmark card for this, and they certainly didn't teach me how to handle this in college! I tried to call the mother, but thankfully she did not answer. I took the coward's way out and wrote a note to send home. Attached to the note was a baggie full of hair. I don't think I slept that night waiting for a phone call from an irate mother. It never came. The little girl came to school the next day with the cutest, very short set of bangs to accentuate her long hair. Her mother never brought the situation up, even when we met several times face to face. I sure didn't bring it up. That little girl is now a teacher of the Deaf herself and she and her mother still keep in contact with me through Facebook.

I don't know why that story came to me so strongly this week, but it reminded me of the importance of keeping communication between school and home as open as possible. To help with that, I made today's Monday Freebie!

This is a template for a newsletter to send home with students. I made a color as well as black and white version. Simply type in your class name, date, and the boxes and you are good to go! Click on the picture to get your free download today!

Do you have a memorable class experience you'd like to share? I'd love to hear it!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Grammar Resource for Students

Hi all!

I'm taking a break from the nursery rhymes this week to present a huge packet I have been working on. It's primarily for 1st and 2nd graders who need some reminders for their Language skills. Earlier I made a Math Journal (you can click here to get 20 or so free pages from an earlier post) that my students would refer to again and again. I love the independence it gave my kiddos, so I wanted to expand that to their grammar.

Here are a few journal covers...

And a black and white option to save on ink...

And a peek inside.  There are 70 charts, both in color and black and white.

The price for these anchor charts is currently $8.00, but if you leave a comment with an email address by April 15, I will give it to you for FREE! That is to make tax day a little bit better. If you missed this opportunity, you can still get a free sample by clicking on the picture below.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Nursery Rhymes - Three Little Kittens

Ahhhh, I just had a relaxing Spring Break visiting family in Nashville. I came back so refreshed and with a new drive to finish the school year strong. I also had time to finish this week's nursery rhyme, Three Little Kittens. Here are some books to go with this unit found on Amazon.


My unit has some great ideas that you can purchase at the bottom of this post. For now, though, I want to share some fun things I found on the internet to go with your unit.

You can practice fine motor skills by following this link.

Ok, now this is just adorable!

This center would work well with this nursery rhyme or The Mitten

Three little kittens have rhyming mittens!

And my unit is below!

And for today's freebie, I am including a mini book that reinforces colors with a cute kitten! Click on the picture below for your free download!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Nursery Rhymes - Baa Baa Black Sheep

I try to do my posts on Mondays because I want to give a freebie every Monday. I know Friday Freebies are the norm, but if you are like me, I need the pick me up more at the beginning of the week. This week is my Spring Break, and I am in Nashville visiting family. My dad's house has spotty internet service at best, so I wasn't able to get this online until today.

I also said I would do Three Little Kittens Lost Their Mittens, and then happily started working on Baa Baa Black Sheep, so that is what I'll share today. If you need to find some books to go with this unit, check out the books below! All of my units have two mini books and a variety of activities, but I still love going through the internet to see all the creative ideas others have that I can put to good use. I always start with reading, so here are a couple of great options:

This first crafty idea is perfect for little hands!

Cutting skills are used as well as retelling with this activity.

If your little ones are ready for some writing practice, try this sheet!

Hungry after all of that work? Look at this cute snack!

I had to share this pic. It goes perfectly with the Sheep Colors book in my unit.

Be sure to check out my unit in my Teachers Pay Teachers store!

Now for today's Monday Freebie (doesn't it make Monday a little better?)  I am giving you a page from my unit. This week is the poem Baa Baa Black Sheep. Just click on the picture below for a download!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Nursery Rhymes - There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe

As a teacher, I often feel like the Old Woman living in a shoe. So many children, and sometimes I am so overwhelmed I don't know what to do. That is why I love organized units ready to go. This series on nursery rhymes has been so much fun to make. I have a wonderful unit at my Teachers Pay Teachers store, but I also love finding things on the internet to go with the unit. I've done the research for you and found working links of great ideas to use in the classroom.  I hope you enjoy these ideas while you wait for next week's installment -  Three Little Kittens Lost Their Mittens!

To start, I found some great books to go along with this unit. Look for them in your library, or you can find them here:

And here are some fun sites I found to use as well.  Click on the picture to go to the site.

This is such a cute fine motor craft that has lots of pictures to follow.

This free simple game allows children to hold up the cards at the correct time.

OK, ok, I know this one is waaaay too crafty for most of us (including me), but it had so many great ideas I had to include it!

And finally, a blog with instructions on how to tie your shoes.

And now for today's freebie! I have a cute unit on There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. One activity from the unit is a mask for children to role play the nursery rhyme. Click on the picture below to get a copy!

Be sure to check out my unit and other great ideas by clicking the picture below!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Nursery Rhymes - Humpty Dumpty

This one of my favorite Nursery Rhymes to work with! It has soooo many things to teach in language arts, math and science. I have a complete unit in my Teachers Pay Teachers store that includes a full week of lesson plans with books and activities. It's a great resource, but I found a lot of things online that I had to share as well! To start, here are a couple of books you can buy that would add to your classroom library.  Be sure to come back next week when we will cover There Was an Woman Who Lived In a Shoe.

For today, I want to introduce my Humpty Dumpty unit.

This unit includes the poem above and a colorful ebook below.

I found some books that could be useful on amazon!

This first activity requires gentle hands, but with enough extra eggs to go around, I think it would be a great skill to practice!

This was another creative idea!

And another...

Are all these eggs making you hungry?  How about a snack idea.

And another snack for all you overachievers out there!

And finally, a great idea for a math center.

Today is Monday, so that means another freebie! I am including a page from my own Humpty Dumpty unit that is for sale on my Teachers Pay Teachers store. Just print and copy this page for each student. Let them color and cut along the dotted lines. Add bandaids to put Humpty back together again. Cute, cute! Click below to download the free page, and be sure to check out my Teachers Pay Teachers store to buy the entire unit for a steal of a deal!