Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Product Revamped - Candy Awards

One of my first products when I began my TPT store about this time last year were my Candy Awards. I had seen some that were cute, but they weren't exactly my style. Plus I wanted more options. So I made my first big seller (and when I say "big seller", I mean I sold about 10, which was awesome, especially right after I opened the store).

I've learned a LOT about making products look their best since then (the biggest being that Powerpoint is WAY easier to work in than Word), and I've been meaning to breathe new, more colorful life into these awards. Well, the end of school is coming quicker than I realized, and I've noticed these have started picking up in sales again. So I made it my mission to finish the upgrade. What do you think?



It's amazing how a pretty background and border came make a world of difference! I kept most of the images the same, but it needed an extra umph to make it stand out. I'm in love with them all over again!

Now if only I could motivate myself to finish my next set of literacy centers - anybody a fan of camping?

Monday, April 29, 2013

Instagram, oops, and random other

I have a little bit of free time before I head home, so I thought I would update quickly.

Have you heard about this? I started instagram a while back, but I'm not the best at using it. This sounded like fun, though! Now I just need to remember to take pictures while at school.

Follow me: @dalton_gang

So my sweet hubby reads my blog, and he was very disappointed with me last Saturday. When I posted about him finishing grad school, I made a big mistake. He graduated from the University of CINCINNATI, not Connecticut. In my defense, I've never been to either location and they both are long names starting with a "C". Still, Cincinnati is #3 for their Criminal Justice program, and he is very proud of that. 

I did know that their logo looked like this and that they're good at basketball. I just got the places mixed up. Sorry, babe!

In other news, I'm so excited that May starts this week! We'll be busy, but it's time for fun busy. This week we're having a yard sale, then every other weekend to the end of school is full of some kind of celebration/relaxation. Plus I only have 2 1/2 more weeks of teaching before SOLs start. We test May 16-31 because everything is online and we only have 3 labs. The nice thing is that every grade has a break before they take another test. The downside is that's a LONG time to test. After testing, I will help with running records for the end of the year while packing up my classroom for the summer. Still 33 days left for us, but that number is dropping quickly. It seems like last week I was saying 49, but obviously it wasn't!

Friday, April 26, 2013

All kinds of goodness rolled into one

I thought this week would be calm, but I was sadly mistaken. So here I am at the end of the week posting everything that's happened so far. I decided to just make one big post AND to focus on the positives. We all know this time of year can be stressful. I don't need to remind you.

I thought about doing Five for Friday, but not much happened this week other than Tuesday when the  Reptile Man came! We have this assembly every other year, and I live for it! The man has been coming to our school for over 30 years, and he's hypotizing - something about his voice. Our assistant principal described him as a "happy Eeyore", if you can imagine that. This is the only thing I took pictures of all week, and they're not the greatest because I was in the back, but this was SO much fun! If you live in Maryland or Virginia, see about trying to get him to come to your school. You won't regret it.

This snake's name is Lipstick, and we got to pet her at the end. 

Moving on to the linkies that I am participating in: 

At Home: Steven finished his Master's degree on Sunday, and his graduation was earlier today. We didn't go because he was a distance learner with University of Cincinnati, but I'll have to make sure we celebrate. This means that we will have a lot more family time (and he can keep his job next year when he's teaching college level classes)! I'm so proud of him!

At School: I've been really focusing on test-taking skills recently because we're 2 1/2 weeks away from the start of ours (that's not the "something good"). Anyway, I've been so pleased with how well my kids are doing with highlighting to prove their answers! I've been complimenting them so much, and hopefully they can remember to apply that to the actual test and not burn out. I think they've got a fighting chance, though!

For this sweet linky, I decided to share a book that I discovered last year after my librarian recommended it.

I know I've mentioned it before, but it's so good that I want to shed light on it again. Our school has a VERY high special education population (like we think there might be a sign on the interstate - there are about 17 in 4th grade alone), and I had the inclusion class for a few years. This book is about Patricia when she was in school (Did you know she was dyslexic?) and how her teacher showed them that everyone is important and has a purpose in life. Be ready to cry! I used this book to work on questioning because it does make the kids stop and think about so much. I found a very simple thinkmark (don't remember where - please let me know if you've seen it) that you can download here. Students simply write the page number and their questions. Then we talk about them later.

If you work with students who have special needs, this is a must-read. Even if you don't have students with special needs, it's so important for all of our kids to realize that different doesn't mean you're just a "part of the junkyard".

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tried-it Tuesday - Painting Class


Two weeks in a row! I'm so proud of myself. Last week, I shared about my first attempt at clipart, and I need to put together another post soon explaining how I got rid of the white background. Super easy, and I'm so excited that I now know how.

But what I want to share for Tried-it Tuesday this week has nothing to do with teaching. I've been seeing friends of mine from other places go to these classes where they all paint the same thing and get to take it home, and I've wanted to do it ever since. 
This is just a random cute example from Spirited Art - Richmond

The problem was how to find those places. (FYI, googling painting class doesn't work very well). Well, a few of my co-workers found one a while back, and I've been eyeing their website ever since trying to find the perfect class for me. If you live near Richmond, Chattanooga, Huntsville, Little Rock, or Scranton, check out Spirited Art! It was $35 a person (and considering you'd pay at least that much for a piece of art, that's amazing), and then you can bring food and drinks to enjoy while you're there. The one in Richmond is attached to The Wine Loft, and they served flatbreads, sliders, and wine. Then they also had cupcakes from Frostings which I wish I had gotten. They are YUMMY!!

Anyway, you choose what night to come based on the pictures and schedule which is posted online. Then you come, and an artist walks you through the steps to make a beautiful painting. I went with the girls from my small group and we were thrilled to learn we got to trace our crab before painting (that doesn't always happen) because none of us are great artists by any means. I think our paintings turned out really cute, though! I'm going to be hanging mine in Keagan's bathroom. It goes perfectly with the colors, and we already had a nautical theme going on anyway.

From left: Kelly (The Caddell Family), Liz, Grace (The Whitlock Family), and me

Kelly and I had Entertainment books and were able to use BOGO tickets, so we actually only paid $17.50 each, which is a steal. Then Grace (a former fourth grade teacher - taking a break with her 2 adorable kids) actually won another free class! I think we need to make another trip, don't you?

This is actually only half of the class - sold out night. So glad we reserved our spots ahead of time!

If you've never done this, I highly recommend it! And you really don't need to be an artist to come home with a decent piece of art to hang in your house.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Product Swap #4


I believe this is the fourth product swap, and each time has been a very different experience for me! This time I was paired with Kristy from 2 Peas and a Dog. She is an 8th grade teacher and was very helpful to work with.

2PeasAndADog Blog

When I began to browse her store, I saw that she had a variety of book reports for different genres. Since I'm not a regular classroom teacher, I don't actually assign book reports. However, I saw potential for using the realistic fiction reading assignment in class with my kids. Here's a thumbnail of the item.

Realistic Fiction Reading Assignment Book Report

Now, let me note that this was created for middle school. Since I have grades 3-5, I did not use this assignment the way it was intended. We did the activity as a class with a picture book, and we did not write a paper, at least not yet. I will say that using the format, I believe even my third graders could come up with 4 basic paragraphs. Honestly, we just didn't have time to do all of that with testing coming up.

Here's the book we used. So sweet!

Reading the book with my adorable 3rd graders - I don't know what my face is about. It was actually a very pleasant day!

The assignment focuses on 4 R's: Retell, Relate, Reflect, and Review. Kristy directed me to a freebie that is related to this packet found here. I used a graphic organizer in this packet to help students organize their writing. In the first packet Kristy sent me, there were instructions on how to guide students through each section. After we read the book, students began to fill out their graphic organizers. They were able to do this with very little instruction from me past the quick explanation once they began each section.

Working diligently! 

We need to work on handwriting and spelling, but I think he did a great job with the 4 R's!
Another sample: Why DOESN'T the old woman name her purse and clothes? For the record, he decided she should name the purse "Lorraine". How funny! Oh, and Rex is the cat he kept feeding.

I loved how this assignment covered four very important areas for reading, and I feel like this is something you could use for multiple genres. Plus the kids enjoyed it! They were very excited about sharing their reflections and connections.

Alright, go check out Kristy's blog, and then follow the linky party to see what products other people are reviewing! I can't wait to find some more new treasures!

Friday, April 19, 2013

It's finally finished!

I'm not doing Five for Friday today because I'm tired and lazy (well, not too lazy because I'm about to do Insanity since I slept in this morning), but I wanted to let you know that my Cinco de Mayo clipart is finished, white box free, and posted on TPT for sale!!

It includes all 21 of the items pictured above PLUS 10 blackline masters for people like me who want/need to print some things in black and white.

I will be posting a tutorial later explaining how to get rid of that annoying white box, but that's it for tonight. I have my product swap post scheduled for tomorrow because I'll be busy all day with a baby shower AND pageant. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Writer's Workshop - My Favorite Minilesson

I'm participating in my first Workshop Wednesday to talk about my favorite mini-lesson for writer's workshop. I have made attempts to start writer's workshop before, but I could never quite devote enough time to make it work. However, I have a great writing mini-lesson that I really enjoyed!

I had to buy this book when I was doing my Master's, and it's become a go-to book for writing. TONS of great ideas. You really do HAVE to have this book!

Anyway, one of the ideas in there is to show students this poem "Love Song for a Jellyfish" by Sandra Hochman (I found a link to it here, but it's also in the book. I typed it up in a flipchart to show the kids). After we read the poem, we discuss how strange it was that the author chose to write a love song to a jellyfish. Then we use the poem as a model to create our own "love song". I challenge the students to pick an object (I'm very firm that they cannot pick a person, and I prefer that they avoid pets as well), something that cannot love them back. Then I model brainstorming using a web and listing descriptions, characteristics, uses, etc. that show why or how I love this item so much (i.e. my favorite book has many dog-eared pages and discoloration. If I wrote about an eraser, I would write that it fixes my mistakes.) I spend a lot of time walking around and helping students brainstorm because that's the BIGGEST part of this. I stress that if they can't come up with anything, they should probably choose another item that they feel more strongly about.

After students have enough ideas to move forward, I don't give them rules for how to organize the writing. Most follow the model of the Jellyfish poem, but some have made acrostics. I even had a child one year change it up and write an apology to a jack-o-lantern. I WISH I had a copy of it to share with you. Actually I wish I had any to share, but we did this about two months ago in one of the classes I push into. The students never cease to amaze me with how creative they can be and what interesting poems they make. It's a very fun lesson, and I've done it with 3rd and 4th grade.

Follow the link to Jessica's blog to check out more ideas for writing minilessons!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tried it Tuesday - Clipart

Wow, this week has just begun and it already has become difficult. First, Keagan woke up with a swollen  eye and gunk yesterday morning, but we thought it was just allergies. When we dropped him off at the sitter, we learned that another boy had pink-eye. After his eye ended up getting worse, my father-in-law had to pick him up. I stayed home with him today to take him to the doctor. Hopefully it will be cleared up tomorrow so he can go back to the sitter. Otherwise tomorrow will be another day at home. We'll see!

Then I get home yesterday and learn about the tragedy in Boston. I am not and have no desire to be a runner, but I have met quite a few through my weight-loss journey (mostly online). My heart goes out to all who were affected, and I am praying for their friends and families as well. Prayers that no more lives are lost!


My sweet friend, Holly, has been running this linky for a few weeks. I have done it once, but I just can't seem to get it together enough to join most weeks. Since I was home today, I decided I should at least make a short post about what I actually tried today (and next week's may be about what I'm trying tonight!). Yesterday I mentioned that I was going to try and make my own clipart since I couldn't find anything I liked for Cinco de Mayo. I'm still working on it because I can't figure out how to make the white background go away. Anyone that can walk me through that?

Well, I drew it by hand since I was testing yesterday and left my book at home. Then I scanned it and copied each item into paint to color. That's as far as I've gotten so far, but I think the items are looking cute! I'm going to share one with you as a free sample, and if anyone can tell me how to make the background transparent, I'll give you the whole set for free (that's 31 items - 10 black and white, 21 color)!!

Isn't he precious?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Skittles Game

Time for my Monday link up with Latoya. This week, we're playing the Skittles game. She assigned a topic to each color of skittles, and we'll share about them.

Here is the code:
Red - Favorite ice cream flavor
Orange - Favorite memory from college
Yellow - Favorite sports team
Green - Favorite fast food place
Purple - Wild card (tell anything about yourself)

My favorite ice cream is chocolate from Coldstone Creamery. No mix-ins. I know I get one for free, but why mess up a good thing? I'm so glad to see that other people are purists like me! 

There are SO many fun memories from college. I had a blast the four years I was there and only wanted to graduate so I could get married and move to VA to be with Steven. I guess my fondest memories had to do with my friends I met through BSU (Baptist Student Union). We were kind of like our own little fraternity (without the dues and stuff)! We spent hours every week hanging out at our favorite local coffee shop which closed last year much to my heart-ache. We would play ultimate frisbee late at night and then go out to Steak 'N Shake for a late-night snack. I could go on and on...

Go bears!

New Orleans Saints. I grew up near New Orleans and have always liked them, but it was especially sweet when they won the super bowl a few years ago. Plus Drew Brees is GORGEOUS, and his family is absolutely adorable! I have my jersey now to support them!

I've mentioned this quite a few times on here, so it was a no-brainer: Chick-fil-a!

Hmm...I'm not very good with wide-open questions. When I do my Zumba DVD and they say "freestyle", I always freeze. Anyway, I guess I'll share my special something I decided to do today while I was testing kids (since I forgot my book at home). I'm trying my hand at making my own clipart! I was browsing for some cute clipart for Cinco de Mayo and couldn't find what I wanted. So we'll see how it turns out!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Five for Friday, late again, but I have a freebie!


I'm late again. I know! I almost didn't even link up this week because it was literally the most boring week of teaching I may have ever had. Pretty much all I did was test for our third nine week benchmarks. And then in about 4 weeks, I will do it all over again for the actual SOL tests - for three weeks. Then I'm done (except for helping with running records) for the last two weeks of school.

Anyway, I may not be able to come up with five things, but here was my week (without picture because Steven had my camera all week, and what pictures could I have taken from testing, anyway?):

Monday feels SO long ago, but I did actually get to pull groups and push into classes! With most of my groups, I reviewed making a brain plop since they were preparing for tests. Do you do these with your kids? I try to get them to the point where they know EXACTLY what to do with the scrap paper on the day of the test since I can't tell them what to write. I've done one for math for years (make a multiplication chart, place value chart, and list ANY measurement conversions that you can remember), but last year was the first time I had them start making one for reading. I even posted it as my first freebie on my TPT store last year. You can still get it for free here. I know a lot of you are beginning state testing, so please feel free to pass it around to whoever you can think of!
I have been trying to read this book since before spring break and just never had the time.

I even took it with me on spring break thinking I would surely have some time to read it, but I didn't even read in the car. So I decided to bring it with me to school this week since I would be bored to tears while testing small groups and individuals. I was able to finish it Wednesday night. Such a good book! Now I'm about to start one my mother-in-law passed on to me.

Have any of you ever heard of this book? It's been compared to The Help, so my interest was piqued! I'll have to let you know how it goes. Love that I'm able to read at least a little more for myself with this new job. Usually I have to wait until summer to start ANY books for me. I still have tons of books waiting on my shelf to read, but at least I'm making some headway before summer gets here!

The weather has been PERFECT all week, and I'm so excited that we've been able to grill outside and let Keagan play in our yard some (although the yard needs a lot of work, and we're in search of a playhouse to buy for him). I actually did take a few pictures on my phone while he was playing. The boy could stay out there all day and be perfectly content!

We had small group again Wednesday night, and I was so happy to start back up! I've probably mentioned my group on here before, but I really enjoy the time we spend together. There are four couples (although we actually had another couple come visit the group this week), and we've been together for about 2 years now. All of us have kids 5 and under who enjoy playing together (actually, three of us were pregnant at the same time and had our kids within 6 months of each other).

Here's a picture a month or two after Emmy was born when we got together to hang out

And here they are last Saturday at a little birthday party for Maggie's older brother. Too bad I couldn't get one of all of them looking at the camera!

I always look forward to Wednesday nights with the group! The girls are actually going to have another night out this Tuesday. We're doing one of those painting classes. I'm so excited, and I'll have to make sure I get pictures to share!

Oh, one more thing to add. My sweet bloggy friend, Jivey has reached 300 followers and is having a giveaway! There are prizes for K-1, 2-3, and 4-6, so go enter!

Enjoy your weekend!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Stranded on an island?

Today was the first day back, and I am tired! Feels like the perfect time to link up with Latoya!

This week, we each have to come up with three things we would have to have with us if we were stranded on an island. I'm going to cheat a little and assume that my family is stranded with me because I wouldn't travel without them, right?

LOTS of sunscreen! Not only does this girl fry, but now I have created an equally pale little redheaded dude to lather up. Oh, and did I mention that our dermatologist (because the hubs and I both already have one we go to regularly) deemed Steven a "high risk patient" for skin cancer? Yes, sunscreen please! Actually, we might just buy stock in Coppertone!

If I'm not going to have electricity or WiFi to fill my computer obsession (unless I happened to be stranded on Key West - please?!), then I will need books. Anything by Elin Hilderbrand, Jodi Picoult, or Emily Giffin will do! 

If we're going to be stuck for a while, we will need some kind of tool to cut down trees for shelter or open coconuts. And since my wonderful hubby will be with me and I don't touch sharp objects because I'm too much of a klutz, I think it would be perfect to bring a hatchet. Obviously it will be in some protective case for me Keagan. After all, that's all Brian (from Hatchet) needed to survive in the wilderness. We should be good, right?

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Last day of break and a giveaway

I'm loving this beautiful spring weather today, and right now I'm ignoring the fact that I have to wake up early and go back to work tomorrow. Someone did count out the remaining days though: 49. I can do that.

These next two weeks are going to be kind of weird for me because it's time for 3rd nine weeks benchmark tests. Does your school test every nine weeks? It takes up SO much instructional time! I'll be busy helping test students in small groups or individually, so I will barely meet with my groups at all. Did I mention we have about 5 weeks left before SOLs? Eek!

Anyway, I wanted to let you know about a great little giveaway you should check out over at The Frizz in First Grade. I'm offering winner's choice of one item, plus there are 14 other bloggers donating to it. She's so sweet, and I hope you will go check out her blog! I was happy to help out.

It's WAY too pretty of a day to be cooped up inside, so that's all for now (plus I don't have much else to say). Time to enjoy the weather some more with my little man!

Doesn't that happy face just melt your heart?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Five for Friday, or Saturday - Spring Breakin'


I know, I know. It's Saturday! But I was on the road all day yesterday trying to get home from GA, so there was no time to blog then. Today will have to do. Don't hate!

1. This is Keagan's second Easter, but he was so small last year that we didn't do anything special (he couldn't even sit up on his own yet). Our church did their annual Easter egg hunt on Saturday, and Keagan loved it! He had so much fun picking up the eggs and only dumped them out once. Unfortunately (for me), we learned that my boy also loves Reese's eggs. I was very sad. I was hoping to steal them all!

2. It was my Spring Break week, so we headed down to see my family in Savannah. They thought we were getting in late Sunday night, but we woke up at 2 AM and drove through the early morning to make it there in time for church. My parents were SO excited, and my mom practically ran to the nursery after church was over to pick up Keagan.
Doesn't he look adorable in his little suit?

3. While we were in GA, we decided to go visit my best friend in my college town (Mercer University in Macon). We spent Wednesday touring campus because a LOT has changed since we graduated from there. They're even starting football up again after a 70 year hiatus. I almost bought a shirt that said, "Hibernation is over. The bears are hungry!" A little back story: Mercer was really good, actually undefeated their last season, but during WWII, they lost too much of the team and just never started back up. I know it won't be a great season, but I'm so excited to cheer for them in something other than basketball. I also learned that the team that beat them out of March Madness this year was none other than FGCU, the big Cinderella team this year! How cool is that?

Anyway, there's this statue of Jesse Mercer in the middle of campus, so we had to take Keagan to see him and rub his head. He wasn't so much of a fan, though.
"I've got my eye on you, dude..."
"But I will pat your head if mommy holds me!"

4. So, my friend Amanda is also a teacher (we were roomies and classmates all through college) and has recently started her own blog!

She's still just starting up, but I taught her a few tricks while I was there and could walk her through it a little easier. Go pay her a visit and leave her some love. She teaches 1st grade and has some great ideas!

Teacher at the Wheel
And isn't her button so cute? I made it for her!

5. Today is going to keep with the pace. We're going to a birthday party later this morning, and then I'm going to the Bizaar Bazaar here in Richmond. I've never been, but everyone says it's awesome! There are lots of local shops, and prices are supposed to be really good. I can tell you more about it when I get back. Now I should get ready for the day though!