Friday, July 25, 2014

Who Wants An OCR Freebie? Raise Your Hand and Hit Download!

My district has not purchased a new reading program in many years. So I am faced with the challenge of implementing the Common Core while using the Open Court Reading program in my classroom. Over the years I have worked hard to make this program effective but now I have some new knowledge and will change it to reflect best teaching practices.
The Letter-Sound cards used in this program are quite large and I will not have the wall space necessary to hang them up. What's a teacher to do? Make them smaller and a little bit cuter! I am so happy with the results and decided to give them away as my first BTS Freebie. Does that make you jump up and down?

These cards can be hung up in rows but need to be visible to your students as you refer to them. The best case scenario is to hang them where your students can reach them and use them as an anchor when sounding out words. Some of you might prefer punching 2 holes in each card and stringing them into a banner using brightly, colored ribbon. I would break them up into a few rows if you decide to do this. Cute, right?
You might want to make more than one set of these cards and let students use them in literacy centers. If you are interested in having this freebie you can download it here or click on either picture to access it.
Here are just a few ideas for using these cards:
1. Hand them out to students at your opening. Start singing the chant for these cards and as you sing about each letter the child holding it pops up to show their card. ( Thanks Meredith for this fantastic idea.)
2. Place them within the reach of your students and let your child of the day point to each card as you go through the alphabet.
3. Use these cards for phonemic awareness games recommended in your manual.
4. Hand out the cards and have students line up in alphabetical order.
Make these interactive and students will stay much more engaged!
Stay posted and look for other OCR freebies as we head back to school. If you download these I would really like you to leave a comment and follow me. I hope this helps any new teachers who are getting their classroom ready

Friday, July 18, 2014

What's In Your School Supply Cart?

So yesterday I wanted to make special clips for my classroom and headed for Walmart to grab a couple of boxes of crayons, after my workout. They are on sale for fifty cents. Later in August they are usually even cheaper so you might want to hold out. However, in the craft section they have all kinds of chalkboard signs for less than $2.00 and they come in a variety of shapes and sizes. I grabbed a bunch for my classroom and can use a white paint pen to make my signs! So adorable. Obviously you can use chalk to remove it when necessary. The easel was a bit more but still reasonable and I could not resist. 

Next stop was Joann's and I was going to get some ribbon for a banner I am making for the classroom but their school supply section was all on sale and not much was left but I am so happy with this adorable ipad cover that was originally $14.99. Deal!  The word tiles were originally 9.99 and the Fiskars holders had been 10.00 each. I am not too keen on the color so I might spray it something else. They are perfect for kids to use to move supplies around so I grabbed what was left. That was a real bargain.
My last stop was Office Depot again and the Sharpies were pretty much gone but the clearance section in the back of the store has some cheap deals that I was thrilled to throw in my cart. I love all the gorgeous colors that post-it notes come in and rarely do I see the lined ones on sale. Each pack has a variety of beautiful shades. The Sharpies were so cheap that I was just greedy. Now the Post-It Note Holder comes with a subscription to Evernote and you can make the notes digital. I will check that out and get back to you!
What's in your shopping cart? Have you found anything I should be buying? Share please.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Back to School Bargains for the Week... don't miss Fran's picks

It is way too soon for me to be thinking about going back to school but as I cruise around I cannot resist picking up a few million things. I love the Dollar Spot in Target but I try to be selective about my purchases. The file tote bag is a must have for three dollars and I could not pass it up. It is perfect for files you need to carry. I might get a few of them. They could be "cutified" for teacher gifts with a label and some adorable file folders.

The mini pocket charts are back and I love them for the kids to use at literacy and math stations. I bought the crayon banks because they will be adorable in my room and we collect pennies for community service and counting to  100. The banners were only a dollar and match my room to perfection! I cannot wait to use them. I can even trim a bookcase with these since they are small!

It was time to buy new mini buckets for each student and they had them in just the right colors. I was jazzed to get them and now I just need to make labels. I was dancing up a storm over this find! Woohoo I love containers. Stop judging. I get it.
My husband actually picked up the two sets of puzzles for me when he was in Target. Boy do I have him trained. I didn't ask for them but he gets it now! I can give you tips on this if you need some. I don't need these but he was so thrilled with his purchase that I was extra enthusiastic. Do not ever turn down a husband buying you things for your room. Trust me.

This bargain was a hot one to say the least. I walked into Office Depot with the ad in my hot little hand and asked where the scissors were. I was bummed because they were so crummy so this cute, young girl came over to help me get over my disappointment. Well first she realized I was a teacher and told me I had no limit on quantity. I resisted throwing me arms around this total stranger. Now I was a little more interested. Nothing was grabbing me until I hit the Sharpies and asked in my best teacher voice if  all of them were a quarter. She said probably not but she would adjust them. Holy Guacamole! Sharpie has come out with their version of paint markers that are great but not cheap. I had visions of using them on black chalkboard items to make signs for my room. I bought a few zillion and felt like I won the lottery! Woop! Woop! She told me the glue sticks were great and to grab some. I was not about to argue with this chick. She also grabbed twistables for me for a couple of dollars off the clearance rack. Life is good.

Next stop was the Dollar Tree and I loved these trays for students to use in work stations to hold their materials. They also had some cannisters that will be perfect for holding supplies. Once again they went with my decor so I was all over these. What's a dollar or two or three?

Costco has always been a dangerous place for me to shop. It should be called the Hundred Dollar Store. Who leaves with just one thing? I salute you and respect your control if you do. Naturally I hit the aisle with school supplies and flipped when I saw this set. I love binders in every color. White ones depress me. I know I have a problem? I am making a binder (or two) for each month of the year to hold my stuff. I need to be better organized... right?

By the way my whole room is going to be done in Pete the Cat decor. I am making it all so stay posted. My kids adore him and I am giving them what they love the most. That's why everything will be red, blue, and yellow with a hit of green. What are you buying and how are you doing your room this year. Leave a comment cause I want to know.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Did I Meet You In Vegas? I Sure Hope So!

I just got back from a week in Vegas at the I Teach K Conference.  I will continue this saga for a few days as I try to clean  up my house and do about a bizillion loads of laundry. 
We live in Southern California so my husband spent the entire morning loading the car with so much crap stuff that it's amazing that we had room for us! Somehow he packed it all in and off we went.  He was super excited to get away from real life and was all about setting up the Kindergarten Crayons booth. I was chewing my nails worried that we would not sell a thing and who needed the anxiety? Right? This is what greeted us when we hit Vegas in the 108 degree weather. Why would anyone live here?

We got up at the crack of dawn (vacation?... not so much) because vendors had to set up by 7:00. The poor man brought all our stuff up by himself and set up the booth. I was busy screaming, crying and hugging my friends. I was also drinking coffee and getting the lay of the land. It was fantastic to see old blogging friends and meet a billion new friends.Some are hereos in my teaching world so I gushed all over them.  Meanwhile the husband was working his buns off while I am in the middle of party central. I never even checked on him. Don't judge. I am a horrible wife. Note to self: check on the man who is slaving to make your booth at the I Teach K Conference beautiful. He deserves a break and some lunch...Let's just say I was not exactly on my game. Classes were so much fun and I filled my notebook with brilliant ideas I cannot wait to try.

When I finally decided to check on the poor man and help with the booth I ran into one of my favorite bloggers, Erin Anderson from It's Owl Good In Kindergarten. She is teaching transitional kindergarten this coming year so I sent her to Palma Lindsey's presentations. She loved them and I got a chance to hang out with her while the husband actually worked and sold packets. What can I say. I will do better next time. Check out Palma at KFundamentals if you want some adorable projects to do with your young kinders. 

Once I stopped hugging and screaming I started to help in the booth and met so many amazing kindergarten teachers. Michelle was precious and I loved her personality. When she talked about her kids her whole face lit up and made me realize how magical teachers really are.

I saw lots of my Southern California girls and had to grab a few pictures of them because they are the best in the west. Here is Hadar from Miss Kindergarten and her partner in crime is Kristen from A Teeny Tiny Teacher. They are smart, talented women who are so much fun to be around. If you don't know their blogs go check them out because I love all that they do! Why wasn't I that smart at their age? I also had the pleasure of sitting in on Greg Smedley's class and had a blast listening to him. He is such a sweetheart. You would love him too. His blog is right here and is filled with great teaching ideas. I finally met Terri Izatt from Kinder Kapers. We have been internet friends for several years and I loved meeting her and chatting. It is always so much fun to meet a friend in person and hug them!

Here are some of my friends who I hang out with on FB. They are talented women with busy lives and a whole lot of skills. When we see each other we feel like old friends. I think we have been meeting in Vegas for about three years. Check out their blogs when you get a chance.

The food in Vegas was fabulous and we went to so many great restaurants. After classes and working in our booth it was nice to treat ourselves to delicious food. It was a real treat.

Here is a picture of my sweet friend Sandy Welch who sold these adorable aprons that are like mobile pocket charts. She is so talented and sold out of all her gorgeous aprons in a single day! Can you believe that? She was shocked but I was not surprised at all. This is a fantastic product and I am thrilled that she sent me one during the year. Otherwise I would be whining up a storm! Please go on her blog here and check out this apron. Do not get jealous that I already have an adorable one and now I want another one. Her principal, secretary, and teacher friend came to help her at her booth. Read that again... her principal. They believe in her and came to support her. That's what teachers do for each other.

I am going to end here for tonight with this adorable blogger Mary Amoson. I loved meeting her and attending her session. No one loves kindergarten more and Mary can make anything fun. She was one of the best parts of this trip to Vegas. Go over to her blog and tell her I sent you. I know you will fall in love with her. Sharing Kindergarten is the name of her blog and this southern mama has a lot to offer kindergarten teachers!

That's it for now. I have to fold laundry, put away groceries, and unpack my suitcase. I will add other pictures since these are just a few. If you purchased something from me I deeply appreciate your faith in my work and I hope it is useful. Thank you for coming over to my booth and I hope we chatted for a few minutes. I love the work that you do for children. I love kindergarten. It was a week filled with memories that will keep me warm until next year. Did I meet you? If not, let's promise each other we will do it in 2015!
Much love to you,

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A Huge Freebie Cause My Bags Are Packed and I'm Getting Ready to Go...

Raise your hand if you are headed for Vegas for the I Teach K conference and blogger meet-up. Woohoo!  I am so excited to be going again this year! I love the presenters and my big focus is on Common Core. Yup, obsessed but need to learn as much as I can! This is my 5th year attending but there is one big change. I have a booth this year. The hubs had so much fun selling at the California Kindergarten Conference that he is all over this one. Fingers crossed that I sell something (chewing my nails from stress) so he isn't crushed.

My house is a train wreck with stuff everywhere as the husband puts all his bags and boxes together. Is there any order to this madness? I'm not too sure but ya gotta love his enthusiasm. He is way into this. I think he should have been a salesman and not a dentist. It took him three days to find his Kindergarten Crayons tee shirt so wish him luck! We have binders of my products in a big bin (who made all this crap) woops-powerful education material and piles of cards, tape, ipads, signs...  Yikes. The piles are everywhere.

As he is jumping around prepping for the big event (no I am not even presenting this year) I decided to be organized and make my annual notebook with customized pages to carry around with me when attending classes. Now I am offering it to you as a freebie. Yes you can hunt me down and thank me with a giant hug and a little gushiness (not a word trust me). It's pretty darn cute if I say so myself.

So here is the deal. Run off the pages you need and make more than one copy of the notes page or any thing else that suits you-whatever. I ran off the handouts for each session too and included those in the back. Does this make any sense at all ? Finally, I took this hot mess to Staples and had them bind it for $5.00 with a clear cover on the front. It looks impressive. I feel smarter. I'm not but don't tell anyone. Click on any of these pictures to grab this or you can just click right here.

Now here comes the good part. Stop at my booth (it will make the husband so happy) and chat with me and let's take a picture together! How cute is this little number? I made it last night when I should have been sleeping. I used black chalkboard paint and just ran the letters off and cut them out. Easy-peasy I pinky swear. If you want to buy something we will become new BFF's. See you in VEGAS...

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A New Journey... Where I Have Been and Where I Am Going

Two years have flown by for me. As most of you know I love my kindergarten classroom and took on a new challenge as a Common Core coach. What a huge learning experience for me. It was filled with new learning and many challenges. 
I was sent to a small, inner city school under the leadership of a well loved principal. I had no idea of what to expect and was filled with excitement mixed with a little  massive amount of anxiety. The only familiar faces were my kinder teaching friends that I have trained many times over the years.
It was an amazing experience for me. Teaching at a small school is very different. They are like a big family and most of these teachers worked here for their entire career! They are best friends and even travel together in the summer. The principal and office manager eat lunch with the staff every day. There is no drama. Yup, I said there is no drama. Teachers support each other, raise their kids together, and look out for each other.

I will never forget these two years. Teachers welcomed me into their classrooms. They shared their triumphs and challenges with me. Often we talked about helping the kids socially and emotionally. They supported me and cheered me through all the Common Core PD. We laughed together and cried together. I am filled with so many memories but leaving is bittersweet for me. 

I was showered with beautiful gifts at the staff breakfast where we shared a meal together for the last time. At the end of the meal the principal stood up and talked about me. The words almost washed over me because I wanted to hold it together. He was the best part of this experience for me. He is the most talented administrator I have ever worked with and is passionate about children and meeting their academic needs. He was patient with me and guided me as we explored this massive CCSS learning curve. I tripped and fell many times but he learned with me and guided my thinking.  We talked about each topic and went through the PowerPoint together. He asked hard questions and I worked hard to find the answers. 

The staff reminded me to come back often. My school is nearby. Will it be the same? No. I will have to adjust to another big change. I will go back for the celebrations and support when they need me. 

What was the best part of this ride? I was given a surprise luncheon and voted their support teacher of the year. I was shocked and overwhelmed by the love of this staff. Follow me on the road back to kindergarten. In the end, that's where I belong.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Camp Common Core: The Next Chapter

This is a new packet I created for the summer months ahead. It does not use any colored ink and can be run off quickly and easily. This version of Camp Common Core: Part 2 focuses on Language Arts with lots of engaging activities. The prep is simple. Grab a binder to store the pages, a baggie to hold the necessary supplies and you are ready to hit the road and head for the beach.  
This can also be used for summer school instructors or tutors doing intervention work. 

I hope this is something you have use for. The Table of Contents gives you the Common Core standard that is being addressed and includes an answer key. This is chock full of interactive activities that students can review and practice to prevent "summer slide." Click on any picture or here to find this in my TpT store. The theme is camping which makes it just a little more fun!
I only have a week to go and then I pack it up to go back to the classroom! Woohoo!
Happy summer friends,

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Remember This? Father's Day Throwback Freebie

I work in an elementary school where I am rolling out the Common Core K-5. This has been a real challenge for me this year but I have been told by my upper grade teachers that older kids are just bigger and they still love cute worksheets and anything that allows them to draw. Who knew? I decided that they needed a "pick-me-up" after the state testing and made them a special newspaper for Mother's Day. This was such a huge hit across the grades that I am bringing in a similar activity for Father's Day. I wish I had taken pictures of their completed work because they were spectacular. I forced my principal to stop working ( he was crazy busy) to look at them and he started reading them. Kids really expressed their feelings and gave you a window into their lives that was so touching. One child wrote that he loved his mom because she kept him safe and another child talked about his mom always telling him to do his best on the hard tests he had to take at school. Another child wrote that her mom loves to spend time with her and they dance together while she gets dinner ready. Students often have lives where they are faced with poverty and poor living conditions but they can always write about their love for their parents. It made me stop and realize that we offer them a safe haven and bring stability to their lives. If you would like this feel free to click here to download. Leave a comment and tell me any great ideas you have for this holiday. Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Summer Reading: Fran's Picks!

I admit it. I am a reading junkie. I love books of all kinds and I would never admit how many I have purchased on my Kindle. Don't judge me. I love books of all kinds and crazy as it sounds I love professional ones too. Here are my top five suggestions that I have already purchased:

So now I have my hot little hands on these and I can barely contain myself. I know-crazy. I have really searched out the best reads for primary grades since I am a kindergarten teacher. I have been a Common Core coach for the last two years (k-5) but the grant is over and I am returning to kindergarten.  I am so excited to have a class again! This has been a long and valuable journey but my heart is still with students and their families. So now I need to get on top of my game! What are you reading this summer? Other suggestions?

I hope this has been a good year for you with implementation of the Common Core. Remember to forgive yourself if you didn't always get it right. This is hard and will be an ongoing process. We can help each other as we travel down this road. Look out for road blocks!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Summer Fun... On the Run With

Summer is almost here and parents, summer program leaders, and tutors will need materials to help maintain the skills of kindergarten students who are getting ready for first grade. This is a packet of Common Core activities that should keep your little ones engaged and still make learning fun! If you are on the road this summer just pack a few supplies and toss them in a bag. You are good to go! Literacy and math activities that your students need to review have been provided. The work has been done for you!
Not sure what all this Common Core hoopla is all about. This little packet will show you what it looks like.

Flashcards can go on your key chain to practice when you are hanging out in a grocery line or Starbucks. All of these activities can be run off on a copier, put into a binder, and used throughout the summer so your students or children maintain all the skills they acquired over the school year. Prepare this ahead of time and your days will be sunny! Grab this in my TpT store by clicking each picture or right here!
Are you interested in joining my club?