Friday, March 29, 2013

Classroom decorations to brighten your room...

I thought I would share a few fun ideas that have helped me brighten up my classroom.

These cute little creations make my boring black computers come to life! They were super easy to create,  I used scrap pieces of bulletin board boarders and construction paper to make the eyes and mouths.  My students love them and have even come up with names for them each year!

Here is my chalkboard, where I write my objectives our learning.  I don't like chalk so when a friend showed me liquid chalk, I was sold!  It is colorful and BRIGHT and stays bright until you clean it off.  You can clean it off with a magic square, baby wipes or a wet papertowel.

After I got permission from my principal, I decided to paint a few walls in my classroom last summer!  Here is a picture of how it looked before I painted.  Boring!!! 

I found the paint on sale at Walmart! It took me one day and two coats of bright blue paint and it was totally worth it!!

Here is the finished product!  I added some clouds using white fleece fabric stapled to the wall.  My friend gave me a cool idea to put some stuffing under the fleece so the clouds are actully puffing out from the walls.  It looks really cool in person!   The palm tree was created using an old carpet tube (donated from Home Depot), brown paperbags, an umbrella frame and some green fleece. Pinterest and SkitGuys have some good instructions on how to make your own palm tree!

This is awesome window is in my friend's classroom.  She decided to paint a window on her wall to brighten her classroom! What a great idea!!

 Thanks for stopping by, I hope you enjoyed peeking into my classroom! 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Giveaway Link Up!

Hi, I am very excited to be linking  up with Marcy from Saddle Up for Second Grade.  She is offering her first GIVEAWAY to celebrate having 100 followers!  She has put together 4 different giveaway opportunities for grades K-5 with 45 products by different TPT sellers!  Head on over for a chance to win!  

My Kindness Unit is being given away in group 3!  This Kindness Unit great for teaching and promoting kindness in your classroom!  I know in my classroom, this time of year I start to see some not so nice behavior.  This is a wonderful way to remind students how to treat each other with kindness!  The unit includes 10 Keys to a Kind Classroom posters, 2 different author’s message student response sheets, Kindness follow up worksheet, List of books that promote kindness, and an Acts of Kindness class book.
Have fun and good luck!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Math Workshops - The Center Based Classroom

How do you teach your math block?
As you probably know by now, I am all about small group math instruction.  :)  I can not say enough good things about teaching small group math!  In fact, I blogged about small group math and my Math Stations at the beginning of March but when I ran across a blog post on The Center Based Classroom, I just had to share!

My new bloggy friend, Michaela, over at The Center Based Classroom explains her math workshops in a clear and concise way! In her 80 minute math block, she starts with a 20 minute whole group lesson and then has small groups rotate through 4 math centers (computers, teacher led group, math games and practice work).  It is the perfect formula and she does a fantastic job of explaining how each of her centers works. 

If are on the fence about trying small group math, you need to hop over to her blog and read all about it, she even has a link to an excellent article from Scholastics which will give you more ideas and some excellent reasons to try teaching math this way!  I call this small group math, Math Stations and Michaela calls them Math Workshop but whatever you call it, IT WORKS!  Students are engaged and learning for the whole block and I feel less stressed as a teacher because I know I am reaching every student's math needs everyday!

Thanks for sharing, Michaela!!  Happy teaching everyone!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Shout Out for

Thanks to some of my TPT friends, I found this great teacher website called Donors Choose. is an organization that allows people to donate to teachers in public schools in the United States.  The website was created by a teacher in 2000 and has since had $121 million dollars donated to teachers and their students.  Teachers create projects that fit the needs of their students and anyone can donate directly to their project.  Often other organizations will match donations dollar for dollar so teachers' projects get funded by direct donations along with corporate matching. 

I have been reading about all of the wonderful projects teachers are able to get funded through this amazing website!  What a great idea!!  This week, I decided to create a project for my own classroom and give a shot!  My project is requesting 4 Kindle Fire tablets for my classroom.  I have used my own tablet in guided reading and math lessons before with great sucess, but want to have a set so that everyone in the small group will be able to access the resource at the same time.  Feel free to check out my project !  Anyone who gives to my project by March 26  will have their donation doubled thanks to the Board of Directors! Just enter the code INSPIRE on the payment page and you'll be matched dollar for dollar.
If you are not sure, and want more information please feel free to contact me and I can share all that I have learned about the process.  The DonorsChoose website is also a wonderful place to go to gather inspiration and information!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Kevin Henkes Craftivity & Spring Linky Party

Happy Spring everyone! 

This week in class we have been reading books by one of my favorite authors, Kevin Henkes!  I just love his stories and all the cute mouse characters!  In addition to helping my kiddos work on their story elements, these stories have opened up some wonderful classroom discussion on friendship! 

Please hop over and check out my new Kevin Henkes author study unit at my TPT store! 

If Kevin Henkes hasn't gotten you in the mood for all things Spring, hop over to Educasong and check out the Spring linky party!!

I hope you enjoy all the goodies!!  Thanks for stopping by! 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Time spent on pinterest SHOULD equal professional development hours

I found this great linky party that is all about some of our favorite pinterest finds!  I LOVE pinterest and just had to join in the fun!  I can really lose all sense of time when I am on pinterest, just ask my family!! 

Here are a few of my favorite finds from this week:

1. This simple idea from What the Teacher Wants is super cool!  I tried it in my class this week and kids were really excited about writing on a plate.  The best part of this was how it helped them visualize both addens before they added them together! 

2. Just today I found this cute idea of using plastic Easter eggs to teach compound words!  Right after spring break we are going to start compound words and you bet I will headed to Target after Easter to buy myself a discounted set of plastic eggs!!

3.  Finally, I thought I would share a cool classroom organization pin that I found last week!  I have all my bulletin board letters in big gallon zip lock bags by colors but everytime I want to use them I have to lay them all out on a table to find the right letters.  This clever teacher uses a binder with CD holders to organize the letters!  I'm totally doing this, maybe when I go to Target for the eggs I will get a few CD holder pages.  This is a perfect project for one of my awesome parent volunteers!

Here is the linky party with bunches of other blogs that will be highlighting some favorite pinterest finds!  Enjoy! :)

Feel free to come over and check out my pinterest to see the full extent of my pinterest adiction.  Thanks for stopping by!!

Birthday Giveaway!

Hi all,

I wanted to share an AWESOME giveaway that is happening now!  My bloggy friend over at First Grade Friendly Frogs has a huge giveaway to celebrate her birthday.  The giveaway is running until March 24th.  Hop over and check it out!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Math Center Ideas Linky

I love math centers!  As you might know from my previous post, I have small group math everyday!  I could not do it without having a bunch of engaging math centers for my students to practice with everyday!  So, when I saw this linky party over in Miss Martin's Classroom, I just had to link up!

Here are a few of my favorite math centers from my TPT store, but please hop on over to Miss Martin's Linky to check out tons of other great math centers!!

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Inspiration Monday

Let's get inspired! I'm linking up with Fun in 1st Grade for Inspiration Monday.

Here are a few things to inspire you as you start your week!

This is a link to a YouTube video of Will I Am singing with Sesame Street friends!  The song is called What I Am and my kids love it!  It is all about never giving up and working hard to get stronger everyday!  We listen to it every Monday morning and have even come up with some of our own dance moves to go with the song!

I love this quote by Carl Buechner!  I have it posted in my classroom right near my desk as a reminder for those moments when I have less patience than I would like to!

Here are a few inspirations for me personally!  I love teaching but I also love spending time with my family AND I love the beach!  This picture inspires me to keep going and give me something to look forward to; Spring Break and a trip to the beach with my family where I can relax and rejuvenate!

I especially like this picture because it is a path, and there just seems to be something inspirational in that small path leading to a big wide ocean. 

We never know where our paths will take us, but hopefully we are finding time to enjoy the journey!!

Have a great week everyone!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Small group math

How many of you are already teaching math in small groups? I made the change 2 years ago and don't think I could go back now. I love teaching math in small groups.
Basically, I begin math each day with a short whole group lesson that either reviews a previously learned skill, or introduces a new one. Then we move into math stations which rotations us through 4 stations in a 60 minute block of time. Each station lasts for 12-13 minutes with a 1 minute clean up time between each station. 

Station 1 is guided math with me.  We review the whole group lesson and do a follow up, or exit card together. Doing this allows me and to see what each student needs and I can continue to reteach or provide enrichment.

Station 2 has targeted games that provide students with the opportunity to practice previously learned skills. I typically keep 3 or 4 games in that station box so students have a variety of choices.

Station 3 is a computer station and students are able to go to practice math on various websites. AbCya  is one of my favorite choices for them because it has so many targeted games at each grade level. Last year I only had 1 student computer, so station 3 was full of games as well but I made sure those games had follow up worksheets with them so students would have a more accountability. 

Station 4 is my math journal station where students work independently on one page of their journal at a time.  They bring their journal to my when they come to station 1 and I review and give them immediate feedback.   Math journaling is new for my class this year and it has been a great addition to Math Stations.  When they finish their journal page they can read one of the math books that is in the station 4 box.

I created a powerpoint slideshow to help me keep my center rotations on time each day.  The slideshow is set up with my student groups and automatically rotates the groups through and has a special sound alerting us when it is time to clean up and change to the next station.  I have 2 different math station slideshows available in my TPT store; plain and monster themed.   If you like those, please check out my guided reading powerpoint slideshows as well!  They are great for orgainizing your reading language arts centers and will even work for a variation on the Daily 5!

Monthly math journals are also available in my TPT store, so feel free to jump over there and check them out as well.
These are my math station boxes!  I have one that has a number 3 on it but I don't use it this year because I have 4 computers in my room and that became station 3!  These boxes are a great way for me to organize the games and keep everything together. You can also see my monthly math journals here.  As mentioned above, when students finish their journal entry they go into the station 4 box and read a math book.

 My friend over at Carrie’s Classroom has written all about small group math instruction and even has a great unit to get you started. 

Thanks for stopping by! Have a great weekend!!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Investigating Science!

Science is so much fun!  Today I thought I would share some ideas and pictures about all the fun we have in science!

One of my favorite science units this year has been our study of magnets!  Students learned so much and were totally engaged with each activity! That is the beauty of science, it keeps everyone actively engaged! 

At the end of our magnet study my kiddos completed this fun book all about magnets!   They loved completing the 5 magnetic experiments on their own!  The magnet book is availabe in my TPT store.

A few years ago I ran a home based summer camp for my own children, neighborhood kids and friends.  We called it Spy Camp (hence the title of my blog)!  Spy Camp became a summer tradition and for years we spent our summers investigating Science, Art, Nature and Fun! 

The liquids unit was always a favorite of mine and the kids!  Check out this great Liquids Science Journal in my TPT store!  It is filled with engaging activities for your students.

For even more fun science ideas head on over to Cynthia at 2nd Grade Pad!  She is having a fun giveway and Mad Science Linky Party!  Be sure to check it out!

As always, thanks for stopping by!