Monday, 30 June 2014

Monday Meet Up with TTT - Things I'm Thankful For!

If it wasn't for linkies, my poor old blog would be feeling rather neglected lately! Today's link up is courtesy of The Teaching Tribune - they have been hosting the funnest Summer Bloggin' series! (Let's be honest, 'most fun' just doesn't have the same impact!)  The theme of this week's Monday Meet Up is themed around things we are thankful for - and I've included a few photos for you, too! :)

1. I am thankful for my family.  I am so lucky to have a HUGE family (something like 50+ cousins on my Mum's side) and lots of friends who are so close they are like relatives.  Just tonight I heard that the lovely Nana of my oldest friend passed away.  It got me thinking about the blessing that family is. This photo is of my cousin Emma, my cousin James, me and my oldest friend Kristy... we re-created this pic when we met in Seattle a few years ago - 2 living in Vancouver (1 with a new wife), and 2 travelling (1 with a new fiancĂ©). :)

27-ish years later + 1 fiancĂ©  and 1 wife. :)

(This is a terrible photo - but we did have an amazing time!)

2. I am thankful for my lovebird. What else is there to say?

3. 5am alarm, nose blowing, spew cleaning, hearing my name a million times a day... all worth it!  I am thankful for a job that I love.  This photo is from a lifetime ago, when I was teaching a composite 1/2 class, these were the 'big kids'.

Link up if you can to share some things that you are thankful for! Thanks to The Teaching Tribune for hosting. :)

P.S. I'm hosting a giveaway on my Facebook page - pop over to enter!

Sunday Smorgasbord! End of term randomness and holiday plans

I'm only three days into holidays and already woke up this morning thinking 'what day is it??'.  Gotta love that feeling of total relaxation... but it does mean that I'm way too late to link up for Five for Friday!  Luckily, the lovely Michelle at Fabulous in First hosts another fun linky that doesn't require me to count. :)

Our last week of term was nice and relaxed - we played lots of games and revisited some activities that were favourites!  (Click on the photos to go see the products in the various stores they are from.)

Stretchy Snake Bingo in the sun - we've moved from the kidlets just listening to the segmented word and blending the sounds together to them stretching the sounds out for their friends. 

Shark!  I put this game away at the end of reading groups and it mysteriously made it's way back out for free choice time.  I don't mind... a bit of extra reading practice never hurt anyone! :)

I Spy the -ap family.

More reading practice, this time with sentences.  I really think my kidlets love to play this game just so they can call 'Arghh!' when they find a pirate.  It's called 'Shiver Me Timbers!'

Our end of term party was 'Frozen' themed - we had lots of fun snacks and watched about half of the movie.  We ran out of time to finish it - but since the kidlets have all seen it about a million times at home they didn't mind. :)

My plans for the rest of winter break are fairly simple - this was the view of the beach yesterday afternoon so I'm hoping to do many more walks to enjoy the sun and fresh air. I have a long 'to do' list, but am hoping to balance work with something relaxing each day.  My main goal for today is to create my first bundle on TpT! I must admit I'm a little nervous. :)

I'm off to get out of my PJs in an attempt to feel motivated... but let's be honest, I could still be here on the couch in an hour! 10am on the first Monday of vacation is surely the best time to veg out?

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Two for Tuesday - 50% off some fine motor math fun!

Three more days and then I am on a glorious two week break from school!  This term has given me a run for my money, so I feel like I am running on reserve power... but I think I can make it to Friday!  Here's something to make me feel better though - The Teaching Tribune is hosting another 'Two for Tuesday' as part of their Summer Bloggin' series, so I can spend the evening stocking my cart with products at 50% off!  Keep reading to check out my two products discounted for the next couple of days - one of them is a new one! :)

Recently I was determined to find a use for the huge container of plastic-chain-link-thingys I had bought years ago and never used in my classroom. I figured they would be great to use in fine motor groups... but what were the kidlets supposed to link up with them?  That inspired me to make these two packs - now I can combine fine motor work with some maths practise and revision!

Link It Up -  Fine Motor Fun with Numbers 0-20 is perfect for recognising numbers in different forms - numerals, number names, ten frames, tallies, dot patterns and with MAB (tens) blocks.

And Link It Up - Fine Motor Fun with 2D Shapes is the same idea...'cept with ten 2D shapes and their name, number of sides and number of corners. :)  This baby just hit my store last night!

Click on the links to check them out in my store!   If you would like to get some of the little chain links to use in your classroom, you can grab them from Amazon, but anything similar (or even small pipecleaners!) would work just as well.

Don't forget to head over to The Teaching Tribune to catch all the other amazing deals this week!

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Five for Friday!

Last week, I was #1 on the Five for Friday linky!  This week I'm going to be about #90 because I've been spending time with my gorgeous nephew instead of stalking Doodle Bugs until she posted, like I did last Friday night. :)  Here are my five random moments for today:

If you're here that means that you can see my GORGEOUS new blog design!  I was so excited to work with Kerri from The Cutest Blog on the Block and she did an amazing job of designing just what I wanted.  I gave her a few ideas to start with - colours and patterns I like - and she took it from there.  The whole process was very quick and painless, if you're in the market for a new design I would highly recommend TCBOTB. :)

We're right in the middle of Winter here in Queensland.  That means the weather is just perfect for taking 'Read to Self' outside!  This week we took our book boxes with us and enjoyed the sunshine.

I've got a few new books to add to the classroom library, too!  After they've been covered these guys will be added to the collection.

Thanks Mum!

Our phonics focus this week was 'c' - spelt with c, k and ck.  We sorted words into hoops...

...made a poster...

This was my fave - she spelt the words all by herself and the drawings are just too cute!
...and made paper plate crowns.

To make these we just painted paper plates and decorated them with sparkles.  My TA used a craft knife to cut an asterisk shape in the centre and folded the triangles up.  The kidlets were super excited to wear these home to show their parents! :)

Tomorrow I'm heading out shopping to try and find some furniture for my office space.  I pinned this image and am determined to find a desk just like this one:

If you're in Australia and you know where I can find one, please leave me a comment!

I have one more week with my kidlets this term and then it's holidays!!  Although I have a tonne of things to get done, the fact that I only have to survive 5 more days is enough to make me feel really relaxed.  So tonight I'm whiling away my time watching a random movie (National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, anyone?) while waiting for 'Say Yes to the Dress' to come on!  In the ads I'm working on a product for TpT that combines fine motor with 2D shape knowledge.  I snapped a pic during my favourite part of Christmas Vacation - when Clark turns the lights on. :)

I hope wherever you are, you're enjoying a relaxing weekend!

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Teacher Tip Thursday!

I'm feeling very sentimental as I write this post.  Tomorrow morning, my blog is getting a makeover!  I am super duper excited about the custom design that you'll be seeing... but for some reason I feel sad that the design that has been with me my whole blogging journey will be gone.  When I started blogging almost 2 years ago I never would have imagined the wonderful way my life would change.  Suddenly I was connected to other teachers all over the world, a whole new universe of classroom ideas and teaching tricks would be opened up to me, I'd begin to take myself as a professional much more seriously - but most of all I would make some lovely friends that I can chat to and feel supported by.  As I was thinking all of this I saw today's post on The Teaching Tribune - Teacher Tip Thursday - and started feeling all sentimental about my teaching journey, too.

In today's linky our job was to provide a 'Teaching Tip' via a quote.  I immediately thought of these words that come to my mind often throughout the day:

I googled Rex Hudler and apparently he was a baseball player who said this quote during a Sports Illustrated interview. :)  Not sure why, but his words (since I read them on Pinterest!) have really stuck with me.  When I'm being cranky with a kidlet who is only little and learning... Be a fountain, not a drain.  When I am asked to take on something extra at school... Be a fountain, not a drain.  When one of my treasures want to tell me a story during a busy time... Be a fountain, not a drain.  And on and on.

Out of all of the literally hundreds of quotes that I have pinned and collected over the years this one has made the most impact. Maybe because it is simple and easy to bring to mind... maybe because it is something that I need to remember often.

Hope that it it sticks with you too. And as I link up today and see my paper doll button amongst the others I will think of the fountain in my life who made it for me (my gorgeous lovebird) and the way that blogging has been a fountain of love, laughter and learning for me, too. :)


Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Two for Tuesday with The Teaching Tribune!

Another Tuesday, another two products 50% off in my store... and lots of other stores too - make sure you check out the linky over at The Teaching Tribune!

Sweet Treats is my favourite sight word activity!  I just love the cute ice-cream cones that get taller as kidlets read their sight words.

News in a Flash will be a lifesaver if (like me!) you struggle to get through Show & Tell with your sanity intact.  These 10 templates will make sharing time streamlined and focused.

Both of these ditties are only $1.50 for the next 24 hours... or until I remember to change them back to their original prices. :)

What are you waiting for? Head on over to The Teaching Tribune and grab yourself a bargain or two! 


Meet my Monsters!

I thought it was about time I introduced you to the two most popular members of my class.  Please say hello to the Number Monster and the Alphabet Monster!  These guys are the star of the show any time they make an appearance, and I use them every week for teaching new concepts, revising old ones, and practicing those skills that we need to go over regularly.  My monsters have been the single best teaching tool that I have used in my classroom in the past few years - they make those repetitious activities exciting and engaging every time!  Keep reading for ideas of how to use them in your own classroom. :)

I made both of my monsters from old boxes.  The Number Monster is a baby, he was made from a Kleenex box.  I spray painted it and added some dot stickers, googly eyes and card teeth and tongue.  The Alphabet Monster was a wine glass box (!) and required a bit of cutting to make the teeth. I painted him and glued on some scrapbook paper dots.  The eyes are supported at the back with craft sticks and are made from more scrapbook paper and card circles.  I've seen other DIY monsters made from plastic bottles and little swing-top garbage bins, but I've had mine for years and they have never needed repair even though they are only cardboard.

We usually use the monsters during carpet time, we sit in a circle and I hold them as they are fed (don't tell the kidlets, but it's really me making the "nom nom nom nom nom!" noise as they eat!).  I either give each child a card/object or place them in the middle of the circle for the kidlets to choose from.  I tell them that "The Alphabet/Number Monster wants to eat..." and they choose the 'correct' food.

The Alphabet Monster eats:
*Letters during letter recognition or phonics activities - either magnetic letters, beads, or cards.
*Sight words
*Picture cards or objects during phonics activities - initial/medial/final sounds, rhyming work or based on a word family.

The Number Monster eats:
*Numerals, ten frames, dot patterns, number words - during recognition activities.
*Numbers more than/less than.
*Two numbers that add to another.

But really... they can gobble up just about anything!  I love to have a basket of 'Monster Food' (scrap paper cut into squares) so that the kidlets themselves can draw/write to make the type of food the Monster wants to eat.

The most important thing to remember when using the Monsters is that the more 'alive' you make them seem, the more engaged the kidlets will be when you use them.  Each Monster should have it's own voice and personality.  Our Number Monster is a baby, so he is very quiet and shy.  You have to be quite careful when you feed him so he doesn't get scared.  My kidlets love to give his head a pat when they've fed him.  The Alphabet Monster is much more confident, his voice is louder and his mouth moves - if you're not quick enough when feeding him, he bites!  Whenever we begin a monster activity, I always begin by saying 'We haven't fed the Number Monster in a few days, he must be so hungry!' or, "The Alphabet Monster was telling me how much he felt like gobbling up letters for lunch today!"  Then the kidlets are participating in the activity to please the monster, not me - it adds another personality to your teaching team. :)

I hope you can use this idea in your classroom, too.  Feeding monsters is so much fun, your kidlets will love it and best of all they will be learning as they smile and giggle!


Sunday, 15 June 2014

Shiver Me Timbers! Pirate themed reading fun!

Ahoy there me hearties!  Today I'm linking up with Teaching in a Nutshell for Sell It Saturday to share a fun reading fluency game I whipped up yesterday.  Last week in Guided Reading groups I played a CVC reading game with my kidlets, but it was very clear that some needed more of a challenge.  I put my thinking cap on and came up with 'Shiver Me Timbers!' - a pirate-themed game that I know my kidlets are going to go mad for! :)

The idea is simple - children take turns to choose a card from the top of the pile, searching for pirate's treasure.  If they find some, they read the sentence and keep the card.  If they find a pirate who wants their treasure back instead, they must return one (or all) of their cards to the pile!  There's an optional element, too - pirate ships can be used as 'freebies' to trade when a pirate appears to save that player from returning their cards.  The sentences have been designed to use mostly words from the first three Dolch lists (with a few easily decodable words thrown in) so your little learners will be able to successfully read them.  There's a full list of sentences included in the preview file.

When we played 'Shark!' last week there was a chorus of giggles every time someone called 'shark attack!' so I am looking forward to hearing lots of 'arghhs' when the pirate cards appear in this game. :)

If you'd like to check out 'Shiver Me Timbers' you can find it right here!

Thanks for stopping by!  Be sure to check out the other cute new products in the Sell It Saturday linky. 

I'm off to enjoy the gorgeous winter day we are having - hope you are having a happy weekend whatever you are doing. :)


Friday, 13 June 2014

Five for Friday... Gratitude after a great day. :)

Another Friday... another chance to reflect on the collection of random moments that combined to make a busy week. Thanks to Doodle Bugs for hosting! I had a great day today... maybe the best I've had all year with my tricky bunch of kidlets.  I am feeling very thankful, so my Friday Five has a theme of 'gratitude'. :)

All year I had been wanting to make some 'Whisper Phones' for my kidlets to use during their 'Read to Self' time.  I'd looked into buying the parts at my local hardware store and there was never a week that I could spare the money (who knew plumbing pipes were so expensive?!).  I ended up putting a note on my foyer noticeboard, asking if any dads/grandads/uncles were plumbers, because I had a project I needed help with.  Last Friday, one of my mums said that her brother was a plumber.  I explained the idea of 'Whisper Phones' and showed her a photo, asking her to see if her brother had some pipe offcuts I could maybe use.  On Tuesday morning, this is what she brought in:

Not only had she shown her brother the photo, but he had glued together a set of 10 made from brand new pipes!  I was just amazed and so thankful. :)  A bit of rainbow duct tape later and the kidlets are using them every day to listen to their reading.

Today I am grateful for generous people.

In our Literacy groups this week our phonics revision activity involved searching in rainbow rice for magnetic letters.  

When they found one, kidlets would say the letter name, it's sound/s and name some words with that sound at the beginning, in the middle or at the end.  They would then write the letter underneath the matching picture on their worksheet.  

The beautiful rainbow rice was made last week by on of my parent helpers, and the sensory table was given to me after it was replaced in the Library.  They had been using the centre container to store pencils and didn't even know that it was a supposed to be used as a sensory table (meanwhile I had been coveting it for ages)! :)

Today I am grateful for lovely Mummies who give up their time to help (and also those who allow me to publish photos of their adorable kidlets!), and for working at a school that provides wonderful resources for me to use to help my kids learn.

I jumped on to TpT last night and was prompted to take their survey. One of the questions asked something along the lines of "How has TpT impacted your teaching and the way your children learn?".  It really got me thinking... I stumbled upon the world of teacher bloggers when I was having a year off, working in Canada (selling jewellery) and desperately missing my classroom life.  I jumped on the blogging bandwagon and quickly became obsessed with pinning and reading blogs (as well as writing my own).  Through this, a door opened to, like, a BILLION teaching ideas that I'm sure I would have never come across (see #1 and #2 of this post, for example).  My teaching has been impacted in a huge way - I am constantly inspired and searching for the best way for my kidlets to learn a concept or skill in a way that is engaging for them - and I am proud of the resources I have created as a result.

In my fine motor groups this week I used Link It Up... the precious kidlet in the photo on the left is my bounciest boy and he was engaged for almost 20 minutes (!!) with this activity. This, my friends, is a miracle.

We played Shark! this week in guided reading and it made me so happy to hear the giggles and shouts of  "shark attack!" as each group played.  Mostly though, it warmed my heart to see the looks of pride in my kidlets' faces as they read the CVC words by themselves.

Today I am thankful for inspiration from the teaching community.

When I got home this afternoon there was the most gorgeous bunch of flowers waiting for me on the doorstep!

Today I am thankful that somebody loves me.

It's almost the end of term here - 2 more weeks and we will be halfway through the year!  I love my kidlets, but man-oh-man they are tiring.  :)  It's also report card season... and I have nothing nice to say about them!  I am exhausted...

...but tomorrow I can sleep in!  No alarm, nowhere to be, nothing (well... apart from housework) to do. I saw this picture this week and it made me wonder if Sleeping Beauty was a teacher?

Today I am thankful for silent Saturday mornings.

Well friends, that's all from me.  Today's Five for Friday was really therapeutic for me, so if you've stuck with me to the end, thank you. :)  I really appreciate the lovely friends I've made through the blogosphere. 

Happy weekend!