Saturday, November 30, 2013

Eek!! It's Friday?! Well, not anymore...

I've been enjoying my first vacation from school so fully that I didn't actually realize that it was Friday (with only 3 minutes left to go, so I probably won't finish in time). This will be quick because I need to get to bed soon. Not that I have anywhere to go, but you know...

It's gotten REALLY cold here, so we had to pull out the big coats. Keagan isn't exactly a fan of them, but he cracks me up with it! He'll keep saying "I tuck, I tuck" and try to get it off. Sunday morning, we looked in the back and saw this precious face! He never said anything, just gave us his grumpy old man pout. Bud, I'm right with you...winter is not my favorite time of year!

We did have some school this week: Monday and Tuesday for us. I spent time with two of my groups finishing up our Turkeys on Strike writing activity that I blogged about earlier this week. If you want to read more, click on the picture.

Steven's brother and his family live in TN, so we don't get to see them as often. They got into town Wednesday afternoon, and Keagan really enjoyed spending time with his cousins. I think he actually wore them out!

Can you tell I'm loving the Beautiful Mess app that's FINALLY on Android?!

Thursday morning, we had to start the day with the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Keagan LOVED all of the music and bright colors. It will definitely continue as a Thanksgiving tradition! Later we went over to Steven's parents' for a fantastic meal and more time with the cousins. We were all worn out and slept in this morning.

How many of you went out shopping this morning? We didn't start until 10, but I did most of my shopping online this year (especially with Ebates and how I can get cash back on purchases)! I'm sure you've already heard, but TPT is having a HUGE Cyber Monday (and Tuesday) sale. Be sure to enter the code "CYBER" at checkout! And since I haven't been home to set up any sales, everything in my store will be 20% off all day tomorrow (well, actually today) for Small Business Saturday. Sorry, no graphic. If you want to go ahead and get some planning done, this is a great opportunity to catch some early deals while you have time to relax a little more!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Cyber Monday SALE and a Christmas freebie!!

Did you hear? Teachers Pay Teachers is hosting a Cyber Monday AND Tuesday sale!! Many stores (including mine) are offering 20% along with TPT's 10% sale if you enter the code "CYBER" at checkout. I will be filling my shopping cart so it's ready Monday morning. There are so many goodies I want to buy!

And if you need any ideas for some great Christmas products, here are a few of mine:

Christmas Literacy Centers - Comprehension and Word Knowledge

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever literature unit

The Great Christmas Crisis - Elf Writing Craftivity and more

And a freebie!
Create your own Night Before Christmas
Happy Thanksgiving! I will be spending all week hanging out with family and doing some shopping!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tried-It Tuesday: Writing

I'm actually linking up with Holly again for Tried-It Tuesday (as I dump some pictures from my phone)! Today was my last day before Thanksgiving break, and I know a lot of you have been off since Friday, but I still wanted to share this particular activity. Maybe you can add it to your list of things for next year!

Turkeys on Strike - a Thanksgiving Writing Craftivity

Obviously I've done writing in my class before, but I will admit that I'm not very good at teaching it. Now that I'm in a Title I reading room, we do even less because we focus more on reading. However, I really wanted to get my kids to do my Turkeys on Strike craft to go with my door. Let me say that it has been a mess, but I'm fairly pleased with the final products overall.

Here's my journey:

I originally figured this would be something fun for my 3rd grade students, so I showed them my door and we talked about what it meant to go on strike. Then we brainstormed a few examples, and I let them choose the one they liked most. Surely that was enough to write five focused sentences, right? The writing was atrocious! And not only was it bad for my third grade students, it was terrible all the way up to 5th. So I tried to meet with the kids and discuss how they could stay focused on one topic. It just wasn't coming with my third grade kids, at all. We ended up switching to "My favorite food for Thanksgiving", where they mostly saw success and could give me five sentences on one topic.

For my fourth graders, I had them write it in a main idea graphic organizer. They chose their topic and then gave three examples. Then I showed them how easy it was to convert those into sentences. It was basically all done except for their closing sentence, and they were very excited!

With fifth grade, we stepped it up a notch. They had the same Main idea/Detail graphic organizer (just a simple big box with three columns underneath), but then they had to give three details under each detail. For instance, if they said that turkey was disgusting, they had to come up with three things proving how disgusting turkey was. I didn't make them write a whole introductory paragraph this time, so they just wrote a topic sentence and three paragraphs. But the writing was leaps and bounds better than the first! And once again, the kids felt successful and were excited that all of the work was done. A few mentioned that they wanted to use my format for essays in class.

We just finished today, so they won't get to stay on the wall for long. Still I'm proud of where they are. Could they be better? Absolutely! But these are kids who are terrified of writing, and this is a step in the right direction. I'll take it! Here are some pics of the final products (sorry for the poor quality):

What have you tried recently?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Teacher Fitness Thursday - "Healthy" Recipes

I'm SO excited for this month's Teacher Fitness linky because our topic is something we all love (although it really gets us in trouble this time of year) - FOOD!! For me, I love carbs and chocolate, so holiday time is my downfall. I mean, how can I turn away from all that yumminess that my family makes? So PLEASE share any great recipes/tricks for making yummy food healthy.

When I was looking at my Pinterest board, a lot of the foods I had pinned were desserts that may not have actually been as healthy as I hoped (or it was too expensive/unreasonable to make it "skinny"). So I went through one link and found this amazing website full of ideas - Have you been there? Tons of great ideas, and it lists portion size, calories, points, carbs, etc. I love it! Here are a few favorites of mine:

Recipe and picture from

Maybe I'm weird, but my FAVORITE Thanksgiving food might actually be mashed potatoes. I know I can have it any time of the year, but I love good mashed potatoes. I could fill an entire plateful of just that and be happy! I've seen where you use cauliflower instead, but I don't like cauliflower and think that tastes awful. This recipe for Skinny Garlic Mashed Potatoes only contains 159.6 calories for almost 3/4 cups AND it uses the best - Yukon Gold potatoes. Most recipes are well over 200 calories for 1/2 cup, so that's a few calories saved right there!

Low Fat Peanut Butter Pie

And of course, I HAVE to share a dessert. My favorite for this time of year is the peanut butter pie! When I read the recipe, I got a little discouraged because it calls for Better n Peanut Butter, which is $43 on Amazon - yikes! Ain't nobody got time (or money) for that! But I went back to Pinterest and found a few people who used alternatives, like PB2 or other reduced fat peanut butter. Now, that I can manage. Then make sure to get a reduced fat graham cracker crust (mmm...) and maybe leave the whipped cream off the top entirely, and you have a yummy pie that will only be about 220 calories!

Okay, I can't wait to read what you found!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Five for Friday with a Thanksgiving FLASH FREEBIE

Wow, it's been almost two weeks since I posted! Sorry for the absence. As usual, things have been very busy lately. I can't wait until Thanksgiving break so I can sit and catch my least for a day or two!

This weekend was really nice, so we actually headed down to the beach on Sunday after church. Keagan didn't understand that the water would still be cold, so he kept pulling me closer trying to get in. We did let him sit and throw sand for a while! 

I made a new Thanksgiving craft to go with my door theme:

Right now, the kids are still working on their writing (we're having a hard time focusing on one topic), but I hope to share them soon! This craft is FREE in my store until later tonight as a thank you to all of my wonderful friends and readers. I have guests coming for dinner, and I will be changing it to paid after they leave, so be sure to grab it. AND PLEASE LEAVE FEEDBACK!!!
Turkeys on Strike - a Thanksgiving Writing Craftivity
Click on the image QUICK for your freebie!

Interactive Reading Notebooks ~ FREE Bonus Lesson! Context Clues

I'm LOVING Erin's creations, especially with my 5th grade students! We are working on context clues right now, and I was thrilled to be able to use this freebie with them. Here's a sample of what's inside. It really is great for helping them realize the types of context clues, and there's another great activity that goes along with that.

She also has an awesome pack for Thanksgiving related activities that I may be purchasing to use next week. 
Let's Talk Turkey! A DIFFERENT Thanksgiving ELA & Reading

Last night, I was SO excited to finally meet two wonderful VA bloggers that I have become "virtual friends" with over the past year. Andrea (right) from Reading Toward the Stars has become a good friend of mine after I found her two summers ago when doing a "reading specialist" search on blogger. She lives across the state, and we've been trying to get together for over a year now. She and a co-worker (I can't remember her name, but she was SO sweet) came to Richmond for a conference yesterday, and we decided it was time! We also met up with Nikki (left) from Teaching in Progress. Nikki's a hoot, and we had a blast at Cheesecake Factory talking and hanging out! I think we could have stayed there all night if Andrea and her friend hadn't had a 3 hour ride back that night to get to school this morning. I just barely missed Courtney from Polka Dot Lesson Plans who made the SIX hour drive to Richmond, but she had to leave after the conference to see her sister. Next time, Courtney!

And finally, just a reminder that next Thursday is my monthly Teacher Fitness linky party! This month, we're going to share yummy "skinny" recipes that we can make during the holiday season. I know this is the toughest time to eat right, so I'm looking forward to some great options that won't bust my calorie goal for each day!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Currently November?!

I'm late to the party, but that's okay! I'm just going to jump right in and then explain.

Listening: Did anybody else watch this show growing up? I remember "watching" it, but I was too young to really remember much. I had no idea until a few years ago that it's apparently set in Mississippi (or maybe Memphis, so almost MS). Being that I grew up there, it's really sad/strange to watch now. Still, it's kind of fun watching these older shows on ME TV now that we don't have cable.

Loving: We had our entire house painted, and it took over one week. I'm not a neat freak, but having all the blinds, wall decor, and everything else all over the floor for that long was driving me nuts. They finished Friday, and my wonderful hubby put all of the blinds back up this weekend. Now we've got to decide how we want to redecorate! Although maybe we should just start pulling out the Christmas decorations. Yeah, we're those people...I don't skip Thanksgiving, but I LOVE Christmas!

Thinking: Since our living room was covered with blinds, boxes, etc, I couldn't work out but one day last week (I don't do the gym because of Keagan, so my workout videos are all I have). Plus we've been doing a lot of eating out and some celebratory eating AND Keagan's Halloween candy. You get the picture. I really shouldn't weigh myself for a little while...

Wanting: On the bright side, I still have lost enough weight that my jeans are WAY too loose on me! It actually looks pretty bad. This weekend, I finally got smart and wore my jean capris I bought this summer (that were still a little loose, but closer). I mean, I'm wearing boots anyway. Who knows how long those pants are?

Needing: With a December birthday (2nd - can you believe it?) AND Christmas AND travelling to MS for Christmas, I need to really start making a list and checking it twice. We're going with a train theme for Keagan's birthday, and I've started pinning ideas. Praise God I had a REALLY great month in my TPT store (I mean, not like top seller or anything, but it was almost twice what I made in September, which had been my best sales month) because I've got some shopping to do!

Yummy Pin: I have SO many, and I haven't tried almost all of them. Let's be honest. I don't cook. AND I have a little one = not much free time. These are probably the sweets I most want to make, though. Someone made them at my baby shower over two years ago, and I'm still thinking of them!

Oreo Balls  -oreos + cream cheese, dipped in chocolate
Note: I couldn't find the exact location, but if you click on the picture, it will take you to a recipe that matches. It may even be the original - Kraft recipes. They look simple enough that I could probably handle it on my own!

Oh, and speaking of recipes, I'm thinking this month's theme for Teacher Fitness Tuesday (November 21 this month) will be sharing a "Skinny" food recipe.

You know we'll need lots of great ideas for eating yummies while not over-doing it! I'm really excited about it and may go ahead and do my post early. And I may have to share a few good ones. Tell your friends!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Five for Friday - Halloween Style

I'm EARLY!! Well, actually I did this yesterday and then scheduled it to post so I would be on time. Aren't you proud?

I've been meaning to share some of the fun things we do on Fridays in my room. It's my rule that students can have game day on Friday if they focus and do what they are supposed to for the rest of the week. They get excited, and I know that it's really just more reading review in a fun way. One of their FAVORITE games is Plinko. Most of the questions have short paragraphs. I laugh because they always want to land on "Diagrams, Charts, and Tables" because those are "easier" since they don't have to read. What they don't realize is that some of those are harder than any of the others.

I mentioned in an earlier post about how we were doing test-taking strategies. We read about bats, made "headlines" for each paragraph, and then went back to the text to highlight where we found answers. They definitely still need practice, but we're getting there.

Fifth grade continued working with The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. On Wednesday, I told them that Ichabod Crane had suddenly reappeared 30 years later. They had to pretend to be newspaper reporters and write a short article about him. Bear with me. I promise these were the best, but we didn't do any real proofreading because of time constraints, etc. I know there are A LOT of things to work on before the Writing SOL in March, but I thought the ideas were pretty decent.

I was excited to be asked to help carve pumpkins in my third grade class yesterday! The teacher had a glyph for animals since they have been studying ecosystems in Science. Each group was given an animal, and they had to decide where it lived (forest, ocean, rainforest, etc), what adaptation it used (migration, hibernation, or something else), and if it was a carnivore, herbivore, or omnivore. Then they drew the eyes, nose, and mouth based on how they answered the questions. I carved from there (and thanked God it wasn't whichever would have had a star nose), and then each group used the glyph to try and guess the other groups' animals. Fun!

And I think I did a pretty good job carving (ours was a bear, btw)!

And of course, last night was Halloween! This year was SO much more fun with Keagan because he's more aware of what's going on (although it took him a while to get the hang of things) and enjoyed it! His favorite part was ringing the doorbells, though.