Sunday, 30 March 2014

Swap, Share, Give: A blog linky from Down Under!

I'm super excited to be a part of an awesome product swap linky and GIVEAWAY!, brought to you by a bunch of very talented Aussie bloggers that I am very lucky to call friends! 

At the bottom of this post you'll find a link up featuring everyone who participated in the swap... do yourself a favour and make sure to read all the product reviews because I know you will find a few that you must have for your classroom. :)  To make it even better, enter the giveaway for your chance to win ALL of the products that we have swapped!
Frog Spot Blog

I was very, very lucky to have been paired up with the amazingly talented Mel who is the creative mind behind From the Pond as well as Graphics from the Pond... honestly, she is a one stop shop for classroom resources or graphics to create your own.  I literally felt stressed choosing a product from her store, there were so many great ones that I didn't know what to choose!  I finally decided on her Sentence Maker pack!

This product immediately appealed to me for a number of reasons:
1. I teach Prep (Kindergarten), and the confidence my kidlets have with writing can sometimes be very low.  This pack lets them experience success every time!
2. By using either the cut & paste, copy or write versions of each worksheet you can scaffold children towards independent writing.  No more throwing them in the deep end!
3. Each sentence reinforces sight word recognition... bonus!
4.  Same task, 3 ways = easy differentiation!
5. As soon as I saw the pages in this pack I knew they would be perfect for my Writing Corner.  A few of my kidlets are desperate to spend time there independently working on some writing, but they just don't have the skills necessary to successfully write a sentence (or more) by themselves.  As soon as Mel sent me this pack I printed a bunch of the pages and popped them in my Writing Corner... instant hit = happy teacher!

Because this was a new format for my kidlets, I introduced it in Literacy small groups.  Each 'team' completed the task based on their own ability levels.  Some cut and glued, some traced, some copied!  I only had to explain the task once, which was a bonus. :)  We worked on the 'I see a mouse' sentence, because that fit perfectly with the sight words we learned this week!

I love that there's a bit of cutting practise involved in this task... my kidlets this year need it!

Assembling sentences is very serious business! 

Holding your breath and wearing funny glasses while tracing sentences is not necessary, but does make it more fun. :)  And yes, we are working on this poppet's pencil grip.

I am so glad that I got a chance to use this product in my classroom, because now I'm not sure how I ever went without it!  Keep an eye on Mel's store because a little birdie tells me that there's plans for a few Sentence Maker packs with different themes - but I bet I snap them up before you do!!

Because Aussies are such kind and caring folk, we thought it might be nice to share with you a freebie or two that you could use in your classroom.  I'm going to share 2, one from me and one from my product swap buddy!

If you've read any of my previous posts, you'll know that I am a huge fan of sensory play experiences for kidlets.  I put together a collection of my favourite recipes for easy and fun sensory play in the classroom.  Perfect to give to parent helpers to make at home, or for your own easy reference.  Simply print and pop in a display folder!

Click here to grab it for free!

Match Me! is a freebie that I use in my classroom all the time!  Mel provides ideas in the product pages... but most recently I used the cards as an awesome whole class activity.  

I shuffled the numeral, dot and word cards and handed them out to my kidlets.  They then had to silently organise themselves in to groups of 3 according to the number they had. Of course, as I was handing the cards out I made sure that each child had a card they could decode.  This task was perfect for a group of cherubs who struggle with a) keeping quiet and b) being problem solvers. :)

OK, now time for the giveaway!!  For a chance to win Mel's Sentence Maker pack, leave a comment on this post!  I'll choose a random winner.  Easy peasy.  Even easier - for a chance to win ALL of the packs featured inn this linky, enter the Rafflecopter below. :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Not sure about you, but I'm off to check out all of the other bloggers who have linked up to share about some awesome products.  I hope you find lots that you can use in your classroom! :)


Saturday, 29 March 2014

Five for Friday! Mozart, Caterpillar Maths, Fashion Funnies & Big Giveaway News!

Friday again?  That means it's time for Five for Friday!


Friday morning saw my outdoor classroom area transformed into an Art Studio!  The kidlets were let loose with glitter, fabric, crepe paper, cupcake wrappers, raffia, paper shapes, stickers and a tonne of other crafty treasures.  The result was a clothesline full of gorgeous collages.  My favourite part of the day was Mozart playing in the background, and the very serious looks on the little artist's faces. :)


After struggling through some pretty horrible back and shoulder pain this week I ended up taking Thursday off to try and rest a little.  After a tough physio session that ended with me covered in sports strapping tape (which helps with the pain a lot!) I spent the rest of the time at home.  I dug out some Easter bits and pieces... how cute is this bunny?!

It's amazing how a bit of relaxation can make you feel productive!  I cooked up a big pot of vege soup for dinner, just to top off a perfect day at home. :)


This week and last our focus book has been 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar'.  To tie this in with the ordinal number work we started in Maths, I stole an idea from my friend Stef's Instagram.  We cut and glued the fruit the Hungry Caterpillar ate to match them up with 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th labels.  Add a few more bits of card and you have a super cute Very Hungry Caterpillar hat! :)


I've been LOVING! this product from Marsha over at A Differentiated Kindergarten. Her I Can Do It Myself: Segmenting Fun pack was perfect for my kidlets to do some independent phoneme segmentation practise.  Each card is clipped closed so that only the picture is visible.  Kidlets place down 1 counter for each phoneme they hear.  The card is unclipped for them to check their work!  I took a tonne of photos of this pack in action... but none of them turned out!  You'll just have to believe me that we had lots of fun, with lots of learning too. :)


Soooooo.... in a week or so I am heading to Canada for a quick trip back to my home-away-from-hometown, Calgary.  I've been thinking about what I'll pack for the 'Spring' weather (still snow and ice there!) and have been checking out my Pinterest fashion board for ideas and I actually own a lot of similar stuff that's in some of the outfits:

But, instead of looking like this...

...I always feel like I end up looking like this: 

Anyone else feel the same?! :)

Be sure to come back tomorrow for a big giveaway!  A few of us Aussie bloggers have teamed up to swap and share some awesome products, and you'll have a chance to win all of them!

Happy weekend, friends. :)


Wednesday, 26 March 2014


Because I know we're friends, I'm happy to admit to y'all that I'm not a good online shopper.  I'm a fantastic online window shopper... but when it comes time to 'check out', 9 times out of 10 I baulk.  What if it doesn't fit?  What if the colour isn't the same? What is the quality is terrible?  I didn't have that problem snapping up a class set of SitSpots, though!  I read about them on Kristin's blog and knew I had to have them.  I'll leave her to explain how awesome they are - go and read her post!

I usually wouldn't suggest that you go and shop for something that I can't personally provide a review for... but I'm sharing today because there's a discount code that you can use! Thanks to Teeny and friends, if you enter the code CALIGALS14 you can grab 25% off your SitSpots purchase, but only until the 31st March!

I'll be back as soon as my SitSpots arrive to give you a product review.  I've got 25 circles coming my way!  Fingers crossed that they help my wigglers and look more beautiful than my horrible old carpet. :)


Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Five for... Something! Shapes, Snakes, Segmentation and Sensory Paint!

Hmmm... I'm almost so late to the Five for Friday linky that I should perhaps just wait until the next one!  But since I have a spare moment or two I wanted to share some of the fun we've had in the past week or so. :)

1. We've been learning all about 2D shapes in Maths!  

We counted and graphed with this Piggy Shape Graph (a freebie from Kinderglynn!).

Then we cooked up a storm by making Shape Pizzas.  I know, I know... the base should not be white.  But we flat ran out of time to paint them a more pizza-y looking colour!

2. Here's a super quick round-up of the Literacy activities that have been keeping us busy:

Our focus book was 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar', so we worked on some fine motor skills by hole punching a leaf to make it looked like it was nibbled... our paper chain caterpillars!  This guy needs his antennas put on! :)

We played ABC Ninja - works on letter recognition in the same style as the Fruit Ninja game.  Lots of fun!

We searched for pictures in shredded paper to sort into the pocket chart.  This week the pictures revised short vowel sounds.  Shredded paper is a free and fun sensory element!

We continued to use Spring into Phoneme Segmentation to practise sorting words by the number of sounds they have.  This activity is super cute sorted into little flowerpots, but I like to have it laid out like this so that while they are waiting for their turn kidlets can be looking over the pictures and thinking about why they were sorted the way they have been.

Another free and fun activity - sight word painting! All you need is a paint brush, some water and a patch of concrete. :)

I just love this photo.  One of my kidlets independently reading a big book that we had previously used as a shared text.  He was so pleased with himself when he got to the end!  Nothing like success to motivate readers.

3. Our painting last week had a few extra sensory surprises!

Sand in the finger paint...

...and scented colours to paint ice-creams!  We added vanilla, peppermint and coconut essences to the paint.  Our phonics focus was long i, so we let them free paint an ice-cream and enjoy the yummy smell.  Although, one kidlet thought that the paint smelled more like an ice-cream that had been left out in the sun than a tasty treat! How rude. :)

4. Snakes alive!

One of my treasures found this snakeskin in her backyard and brought it in for Show & Tell.  It was about 2m long so was not too big.   The kidlets loved it, me not so much!

5. Holidays on the horizon:

Two more weeks and I will be in Canada with my lovebird!

Have a great week everyone!  I promise not to be so late with my next Five for Friday. :)


Monday, 17 March 2014

Some Sunshine for a Monday!

The lovely Paula at Paula's Place has very kindly nominated me for a Sunshine Blogger Award!  This cute idea is about recognising blogs that bring a little bit of sunshine into your day, so I'm very flattered that she thought of me. :)

I need to share 11 random facts about myself, answer Paula's 11 questions for me and then nominate some blogs myself.  So, here goes!

Random Facts!

1. I am a super procrastinator.  Seriously.  If there was an Olympic event in procrastinating, I'd win it!  But not now, maybe tomorrow.
2. I {heart} reality TV. Any Real Housewives franchise, anything to do with weddings, any model competition, The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Teen Mom... the trashier the better!
3. I live by the beach.
4. I have the world's cutest nephew. His name is Mack and he's 4.
5. I took a year off from teaching in 2012 and lived in Canada selling jewellery.
6. I love cheese... my fave is Triple Cream Brie.  Serve it with some nice olives and I'm in heaven!
7. I love to travel!  So far I've been to Europe, the UK, Canada, the USA and Vanuatu.  Someday soon I'd love to head back to Europe.
8. I don't understand why people scrapbook, sew, knit, make cards etc. I think it's because I don't have the patience for it!
9. My favourite Saturday night activity is a nice dinner, a glass of wine and a DVD. The thought of a big night out makes me feel exhausted. :)
10. I don't like high heels.  I own 1 pair and never wear them.
11. My Canadian lovebird, Chris, is younger than me!  That makes me his Sugar Mama!

OK, now for the 11 questions.

1. What is the best part of your day?

Coffee on the couch when the house is still quiet and I've had a sleep in!  During school days it would be when I crawl into bed! :)

2. Is their a child who you remember most? Why?

There are a few, of course!  One in particular I taught just last year.  She really stole my heart with her affectionate, loving nature and they way she made everyone around her happy.

3. Have you taught at the same school or moved around?

When I first started teaching in 2004 I worked at a School of Distance Education with a class of homeschoolers, travellers, children who had been excluded from mainstream schools etc.  It was essentially a big office building and all us teachers taught by phone and internet.  I was there for a few years, and then moved to my current school, a private P-12 school, where I've been since 2007.

4. Your fav thing to teach is......?

Umm... I don't think I have a favourite thing to teach!  I love those moments in the day where the kidlets get choice, get to interact with each other and get to explore their creative side.  So whichever subject/s that happens to be in each day.

5. A teacher you had that stuck in your head and why?

My Year 1 and 2 teacher always stuck with me.  I went back and did my 3rd year uni prac with her - at my old school, in my old classroom! 

6. What has been the most important PD you have ever gone to?

I went to one last year on Differentiation with Kathleen Kryza.  If you ever get a chance to hear her speak, do it! Changed my teaching.

7. What is challenging about what we do?

Balancing curriculum pressures with little people who sometimes just need you to spend time with them, listen to them and make them feel important.  

8. Do you have a blog plan?

Nope. :)

9. What started you blogging?

When I was in Canada I stumbled across teaching blogs and read them for hours on end, collecting ideas for when I came back to the classroom.  Towards the end of that year I thought, hey... I could do that!  So I did.

10. What is your fav time of the year? Why?

Christmas!  I love our Summer Christmases because of all of the memories I have attached to them with my family, but I love white Christmases overseas because I can pretend I'm in a Christmas card as I sit by the fire!

11. Do you cart things home only to cart them back without looking at them?

Every. Single. Day

My turn to nominate!

1. I is for Inspire
2. A Differentiated Kindergarten
3. Mrs. Stowe's Kinder Cottage
4. Growing Kinders
5. Teachable Moments

And my questions for them are:

1. Why did you decide to become a teacher?
2. What's the moment in your career that stands out above the other?
3. Are you friends outside of school with the teachers you work with?
4. What's your go-to teacher outfit?
5. If you could dedicate as much time as you wanted in the school day to a particular subject/activity, what would you choose?  Why?
6. If you could take your kidlets anywhere on a field trip, where would you go?
7. What's been the best thing about blogging for you?
8. Aside from TpT'ing, blogging etc. what do you do in your spare time?
9. If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?
10. What's your favourite quote?
11. What's your favourite thing to pin?

There we have it folks!!  Happy Monday to you all. :)


Saturday, 15 March 2014

Five for Friday! Quotes, Tim Tam slams, monsters and more!

Stopping by for a very quick Five for Friday today!  Link up with Doodle Bugs to join in on the fun.


This week has had lots of ups and downs, my kidlets are giving me a run for my money and to be honest I'm feeling a little flattened by school.  I was looking through my Pinterest board of quotes the other day and came across this one:

Teaching kidlets in their very first year of school is so rewarding and fulfilling... but at times it is also draining and things happen that can make you feel so disheartened.  This week I had a moment of 'you know what, maybe I won't spend so much time, money and energy working on resources and planning activities for school' - and in the next moment looked into the eyes of one of my little treasures. I realised that whatever happens, my kidlets are the reason I teach and they deserve for me to give all I can.  So I'm very glad it's the weekend... a few days of sleep, food and relaxation and then right back into it on Monday!
(If you're a quote hoarder like me, come and follow my personal Pinterest boards!)


We played a super easy sight word game this week that my kidlets went nuts for! All you need is a pocket chart (but you could also blu-tak the words to a board and it would work just as well), cards with sight words on them and some little pictures of monsters (or anything really - at this time of the year it might be cute to use leprechauns!).  Hide the monsters (I hid 4) behind the words and have the kids search for them.  I used this as an opportunity to reinforce some oral language skills, so I had them ask "Is there a monster behind the word _____?"  I then just flipped the word to see if there was or not! We played this more than once every day this week and they never grew tired of it. :)


Speaking of sight words, I spent my evenings this week making a game themed to The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

At the moment it's the M100W version using an Aussie font, but the Dolch version is coming very soon! :)  So excited to use it with my kidlets next week!

(I must have been feeling super productive this week because I actually finished 2 products!  You can read about Spring into Phoneme Segmentation! in this post.)


I made the mistake of buying a pack of Double Coat Tim Tams last weekend because my Mum and Dad were coming for afternoon tea.  Of course most of them were leftover, so I've been forced to eat the rest with my coffees as a Tim Tam Slam!

If you've never done a Tim Tam Slam before it's very easy - just bite the corners off (diagonally opposite each other) and then dip it in your coffee. Quickly use the Tim Tam like a straw and suck the coffee through it!  It will melt, so you need to pop the whole melty, warm, chocolately biscuit in your mouth straight away! :)


My plans for the rest of the day involve a massage appointment, some time in the sun and an outdoor movie night by my friend's pool.  We're going to watch Frozen and eat frozen treats!  We are wishing that there was a Wendy's nearby so we could go get a Frosty - or even a DQ for a Blizzard but unfortunately we don't have either in Australia!

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!  


Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Phoneme Segmentation Fun!

This teacher is feeling super lucky to have had a whole day out yesterday on a professional development.  Because it started later than I usually leave for school I had time to grab a coffee on the way, and what a treat it was to spend the day chatting with lovely friends and enjoying not one but TWO breaks.  Lunch in the sunshine looking over the golf course was a little bit of heaven. :)  I always feel that days like these are little holidays disguised as work!

It was full steam ahead back in the classroom today though, where we have been practising phoneme segmentation and blending as part of our phonemic awareness skills.  I use lots of kinaesthetic activities with my kidlets - and the Sound Waves program we use is great for that because it includes actions for each sound.  We hop through Elkonin boxes, jump up and down to show how many sounds and feed the alphabet monster pictures that begin/end with specific sounds.  At the moment we haven't introduced any graphemes (letters) to represent the sounds - our work is done with pictures and spoken words.

I wanted to share a product I've been using with my kidlets to help them practice their phoneme segmentation.

I love using hands on activities because some blossoms just need to touch and move things to learn best!  In this pack, kidlets take a flower card and count the phonemes in each word (represented by a picture). 

The flowers are then sorted by the number of phonemes.  You can either use the headers provided, or grab some cheap'n'cheerful flowerpots and sort into them:

Please excuse my dodgy photos - the printer is low on ink and the lighting is terrible in my lounge room! :)

There's worksheets, too, for kidlets to 'show what they know'.  One requires cutting and pasting, one writing numbers.  Use either or both!

 If you think this might be helpful for your classroom, pop on over to my store to find it. :)

I hope you are having a wonderful week!  We're halfway there - the weekend is the glorious light at the end of the tunnel. :)