Sunday, December 17, 2017

Easy Elf Adventures

After a busy week, we needed two quick adventures for our elf:

The teddy bear was a gift from a student.   The marshmallows were left behind in the teacher's lounge and were stale, making them perfect for tic tac toe.

The next day involved some lights and a banner:

One more week of elf adventures!


Measuring, Elf Style

We used Snowflake to review mapping skills this past week.

Since my handwriting is quite noticeable, I had Mr. R write instead.

Ms. P made this map of our classroom:

She also bought candy canes, which we hid in the treasure chest:

We used the opportunity to review legends, scales, measuring accurately, following directions, and how to use meter sticks.


December Blues

My oh my was last week a tad crazy.

I spent most of the week helping with the kindergarten ESGI testing.  It's a one-on-one computer based test that each kinder kiddo gets.  There are 44 tested standard, each with between 3 and 100 questions. Understandably, it takes a while.

I also planned a baby shower, a surprise party for Ms. P for her last day, navigated parental concerns (as always), and planned the games for the staff holiday party. 

For the past eight years, school has always let out around the fifteenth.  Due to {contract changes}, we are out December 22nd.  Yes, you read that right.

We go back the 8th of January, but still.  

Next week will be rough. The kids will be all over the place emotionally. I have end of unit tests to give, computer practice for upcoming tests, big preps, and spirit days. 

5 days until winter break.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Elf around the world

Yesterday's elf on the classroom shelf was internationally themed.

A friend from college was recently in Portugal and asked if anyone wanted a post card. I jumped at the chance because it was such a great opportunity for my students.

The post card came in a few days ago, so I went to the library to find books on Portugal.

It's hard to tell from the picture, but we set the elf up to read about holidays.

My third graders are loving the elf's adventures and it's nice to sneak in learning opportunities.  Plus it's December and I need all the help with behavior management that I can get!

Field Trip Fun

This week we braved our first field trip of the year to the Discovery Children's Museum.

It was a first for my mentee and my student teacher.  It was a first for one of my students.  It was of course, the first field trip for our elf as well.

We found a way around the "no touching the elf" rule with a plastic bag. Naturally, it's a magical bag:

Ms. P was super excited for her first field trip. 

She led the kids on a sing along on the bus.

We had some amazing chaperones and the kids had a great time doing some hands-on learning.  The museum staff was helpful and attentive.  

They even replied on Instagram, which made my class super happy.

Post field trip plans? We made thank you cards for our chaperones, worked on our essays, began typing, and silently read.  

After school I had tutoring, decorated for a baby shower, and then went to buy paper goods for the shower. I got home around 7 pm (after picking up Taco Bell for dinner), ate quickly, and passed out.  Field trip days are rough!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Elf, day 3 & 4

Snowflake has been quite the busy elf!

Yesterday, she got caught reading:

We passed out book orders and gave them a few minutes to pick out the books they wanted.  We also reviewed the no touching Snowflake rule.

Today she was under the weather:

We used it as an opportunity to unofficially introduce idioms and figurative language. Many of the kiddos already had background knowledge, which was great to see.

Tomorrow, she's off to a field trip! 

It's cheesy, but it's keeping the kids focused in December. 

Monday, December 4, 2017

Elf on the Shelf, Day 2

Today we read the Elf on the Shelf story, compliments of one of my students.  She has an elf at home and happily brought in the book to share with us.

We made it into a reading lesson by writing down a list of main ideas about how to handle an elf visitor. 

Our elf Snowflake decided to jump into reading today:

Their excitement about our elf is contagious! 

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Elf on the Shelf, Day 1

The innocence of third grade means I can do Elf on the Shelf and they still believe in the magic of the season.  The elf is not tied to any specific religion and I clearly stated that she is the winter elf.  As a public school teacher, I can't endorse any religion and there's a very fine line between the separation of church and state.  

Our elf will teach about Hanukah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa.  Our elf will teach about holidays around the world.  

But first, meet our elf:

I purposefully selected the larger, plush elf from Target just in case the elf gets thrown because it won't hurt if it hits someone.  Again, I hope this doesn't happen but it's good to be prepared.

As a class, they named her Snowflake.  This was a natural opportunity to embed some civics skills.  I took student suggestions and wrote them all down:

Students picked their top three favorites and then voted a second time, settling on Snowflake.  

We talked about expressing our opinions, respecting others, and respectfully disagreeing while still being friends. (If only government officials could sit on these lessons.)

My student teacher Ms. P created this amazing sign for our door:

We wrote a letter to the class:

We set up our first day set up:

We discussed the most important rule: No touching the elf or she loses her magic. 

Ms. P and I planned out the rest of the days for the elf, so stay tuned!

I tried...

With all good intentions, I set out on the Thankful November challenge.

I mapped out what I'd share each day.  Then life happened...and I really shared maybe half of what I planned to.

So, here's the rest:

Day 13: Kids. I am thankful for my niece, nephews, and friends' kids. I'd love to have my own some day.  In the mean time, thanks friends and family for procreating and letting me snuggle your kiddos. I will still pass on the diaper changing offers.

Day 14: Snack sized treats. Especially when I can get them on sale after Halloween.  

Day 15: Harry Potter universe and specifically the house of Ravenclaw.  It's a part of my childhood. I embrace my sass. 

Day 16:  My in-laws. They're generous and loving. I appreciate them.

Day 17: Younique make up. It covers my imperfections and lasts ALL day.

Day 19: Dr. Teal's Bubble Bath. It creates great foam bubbles and the large bottles are only $5.  Plus they're available at Target.

Day 20: The dollar spot at Target.  Okay, it's more like the $3 spot, but still. I found these cute cards for my students:

Day 21: Okay, Target in general.  I do my grocery shopping there. A bulk of my teacher wardrobe comes from there. I find most of our house decor from there. It's my happy place.

Day 22: Mr. Sketch Markers.  These are my go to markers for making anchor charts. I don't share them with students. I'm not ashamed of this choice.

Day 23: Candles.  Specifically the {DW} brand I've found recently at Marshalls & TJ Maxx. They are extremely fragrant and the scent lasts the entire duration of the candle.  Sometimes some candle brands are fragrant for the first or second use, but then lose their scent.  Not these!  They come in pretty jars and have pineapple scented ones.

Day 24: My students.  Fifth grade was wonderful, but I'm really loving third grade.  There are less students, which means I can better reach each of their individual needs.  They are still little kids and with that comes a sweet innocence.  They all believe in Santa. They believe they can be anything they want. They aren't jaded or hormonal and still love learning.

Day 25: Best friends.

Day 26: Craft time.  Especially when other people are paying for the materials.

Day 27: Sunshine Committee.  I am in charge of showers (baby & wedding ones) at work. I get to decorate and make things pretty.

Day 28: Naps.

Day 29: Girls Nights. Sometimes we get dressed up and go out dancing. Sometimes we go to dinner and a movie. Sometimes we paint and drink wine.  Sometimes we make gingerbread houses:

Day 30:  Second chances.  I didn't do so well with following through on the November challenge.  Luckily December started and with it, Elf on the Shelf (for the classroom).

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Cyber Monday Sale!

So...I threw a Cyber Monday sale on TpT...and forgot to post about it.

So, round 2!  Visit my {TpT store} for 20% off savings on Monday, December 4th and Tuesday, December 5th!

Friday, November 24, 2017


day twelve: Takeya Water Bottle (Costco)

This is my new favorite:

It keeps my water cold all day long.  More importantly, the ice doesn't melt all day.  As a teacher in a rather warm climate, that's super important.

These water bottles are at Costco in a 2 pack for under thirty bucks.  The hubbers snatched the navy one, but I'm fine with shiny silver.  My student teacher said she'd vinyl my name on the side (which is great because several of my teacher friends have the same one).

Tuesday, November 21, 2017


 eleven: My husband

A  year in, that still feels weird to say.  

He makes every day better.  He's not perfect, but neither am I.  He's my favorite person to tackle all of life's adventures with, whether it's navigating the grocery store right before a holiday, tackling home improvement projects, or frantically finishing a show on Netflix before it goes off line, I'm grateful for my rock.

He helps me laugh at things and not take everything so seriously.  He's truly the opposite of me in so many important (balancing) ways, but at the end of the day, we agree on what matters.

He doesn't complete me.  I am complete as a person.  Instead, he compliments me and challenges me to be the best version of myself. He comforts me when I need it,  encourages me always, and lets me know (politely) when he thinks I'm wrong (on the rare occasion it happens).

I'm thankful for a friend's birthday party that brought us together.  I'm thankful for the relationship we've built together over the past (almost) five years.  I'm thankful we got through the first year of marriage! I'm thankful that the adventure continues and the best is yet to come.


ten: my pets (and by default, adoption rescues)

After I earned my masters degree, I adopted my two cats (Chloe and Crookshanks).  I went in for one (Chloe) after seeing her picture on adoption websites, but after seeing her curled up with her sister, I couldn't leave one behind.

So, I adopted both.  This is my greatest buy one, get one for half price deal ever.  (It was $150 for one or $200 for both to cover vet bills, fostering, vaccines, and a donation to the no kill animal shelter.)

(I adopted the cats from Happy Home Animal Sanctuary, one of the Petsmart charity shelters.)

Flash forward several years and I found myself purchasing a home with my (now) husband.  Now that we had a yard, we wanted to expand our family by four paws.  We were looking at one puppy in California, but couldn't justify the drive when there were so many adoptable pets here.  We decided to adopt over the summer so I could be home to supervise the cats and puppy interactions as well as crate train.  

We looked online, found a baby girl mutt that we wanted to meet, and headed out to Petsmart one Saturday morning.  It was love at first sight and we left with our new pup (Waffles) that day.

While they cause me great headaches some days, I couldn't imagine life without my three fur babies.  I am thankful not only for the opportunity to own pets, but that adoption rescues were an option. #adoptdon'tshop


 nine: cardigans.  

It might seem silly, but I am super grateful for cardigans.  They turn any top into teacher appropriate attire and add an extra layer of coziness.  I can toss one over a plain shirt and jeans, but look instantly dressed up...or at least, dressier.

I don't like full coats (which is good because I live in a warm climate where they aren't necessary), but cardigans are just enough coverage for my arms on chilly mornings.  

Target's Merona brand is my favorite, but since there are retirement rumors (say it isn't so!), I've got to find a new inexpensive brand to love.  Lularoe has a long cardigan with pockets, but I refuse to pay full price ($70) for one. I've snagged a long gray one, but for half off (because that's more budget friendly).  

However, I can't just buy Lularoe, so any suggestions blogging world?


eight: grade level teams

In teaching, there is simply never enough time to accomplish everything.  This is the sad, unfortunate reality.  However, grade level teams can make things better and for them, I am thankful.

This year, my work wife Ms. H and I are planning reading for the grade level.  Not everyone uses our plans or copies, but that's okay.  Two other teachers plan/copy math while 2 more tackle writing.  It's nice to share the work load and bounce ideas off one another.

I'm also thankful that my work wife understands that unfortunately, sometimes this planning needs to happen outside of contract hours.  Tomorrow, on the day before Thanksgiving, we have a lunch date at Panera to crank out the next few weeks worth of reading plans. 

Beyond having other people to plan with and share the copying fun, it's nice to have a team where we can share ideas and strategies.  We are within a few days of each other in terms of plans, so it's nice to be able to give one another a heads up about what math lessons the kids struggle with or share strategies that really seemed to click for students.

As an added bonus, 4 of the 7 third grade teachers are in my pod, which means help is literally right next door.  I am thankful for grade level teams.


seven: raspberry green tea lemonades

I'm trying to reduce my soda addiction and drink more water.  However, I fully admit I have a weakness for Starbucks' raspberry green tea lemonades.

I discovered this gem by accident when the barista told me they were out of peach flavoring, thus rendering my staple peach green tea lemonade impossible.  Not just out for the day, but that Starbucks had stopped carrying peach syrup.  (I since learned that this is not true, thank goodness!)  He offered to swap in raspberry flavoring and ya know what, it was even better than my go to PGTL. 

This by no means can be an every day indulgence, but when I do find myself with a Starbucks gift card, this is my new favorite drink.  (Unless it's December, in which case, I'm a sucker for peppermint hot chocolate!)


six: Rick Riordan

 While no author will ever replace J.K. Rowling, Rick Riordan is coming in at a close second.  Not only have his books been on the NY Times Best Seller List for the past nine years (yes, years), they are highly engaging for my students.  As an adult, I find humor in his writing style and despite not being the target demographic, still enjoy the stories.

He tends to publish two books a year (May and October), so I'm savoring this one:

It will be a few months before I can get my hands on the next one. 

Saturday, November 18, 2017


Eighteen: Lofthouse Cookies

Before you laugh, let me explain:

Yes, they are delicious.  Yes, I could eat several in one sitting (but don't).  Yes, they have different colored frosting depending on the season. Yes, I think the pink ones are the best.

I'm thankful for them because they are made in a nut and peanut free factory.

As a teacher, this phrase means that I can safely pass them out to my students at class parties without fear.  Not all my students with nut allergies have an epi-pen (or similar medication) at school.  This is one of the safe foods that I know I can buy at the grocery store and pass out to my students without fear of a nut/peanut allergy situation.

(None of my students have reported gluten allergies.)