Tuesday, March 13, 2018

St. Patrick's Day Fun

Top of the evening to you, lads and lassies!

I LOVE to celebrate holidays in my classroom, but with the demands of a pretty ambitious pacing guide AND state assessments looming around the corner, they can easily get pushed to the back burner.

Here are a few quick and easy ideas for incorporating a little St. Patrick's Day fun into your classroom without sacrificing time spent on academics.

For the wee little folks, my leprechaun-themed review packet is filled with skills that have been taught throughout their third grade year. It would be great for morning work, homework, or any time you need students to be working independently. That being said, it could also be used for high-flying second graders who need a bit of a challenge, or for fourth graders who need a bit of reteaching.

Here are a few things that are included:

Six math sheets with LOTS of problems to practice on each page...

Six ELA pages that review important third grade skills..

Six creative writing pages with prompts...

And a map of Leprechaun Island to practice map skills...
Head on over to my TpT store to find out more about this fun resource!


I also LOVE to have cute, seasonal notes to use in my classroom throughout the year. I use them to write messages to students, parents, and other teachers. My students love to use them to write notes to each other, and it's a great way to integrate meaningful writing experiences. Here are the notes I'll be using in my classroom for the month of March:

St. Patrick's Day Classroom Notes

These fun, punny notes are available here.


Last, but certainly not least, is the tried and true word search that my middle school students have always loved to do after they finish their daily work...

This puzzle is also a great hit with adults! You can find it in my store here.

However you decide to celebrate the wearing of the green, I hope you have a terrific, memorable day!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Upcycled Coffee Containers

Top of the Tuesday morning to you and yours! I decided to take a little break this summer and get my craft on...

If you're like me, you have hundreds of little odds and ends that need to be contained in your classroom. I happened to inherit a bunch of craft items from my predecessor that I just didn't know what to do with last year. No matter how many times I organized that little makerspace, it just looked messy. I finally decided that part of the problem, at least in this adult-onset-ADD mind, was seeing all the "stuff" in the clear plastic containers. It was just sensory overload!

I decided to go with an "out of sight, out of mind" approach and look for uniform plastic containers that weren't transparent. After scoping out the local stores and some online, I concluded I was too cheap to fork out the kind of money to do the job right.

Hmmm....what to do, what to do.

Then I happened upon these babies...

Apparently, I feel a need to hoard hold onto empty coffee containers...or any container, really. I either inherited that tendency from my mother, Queen of the Margarine Tubs, or it possibly came with my teaching certificate.

But I digress.

Gazing at that FREE source of containers made the wheels of my mind start to turn. I didn't want to use them as-is, although you totally could. I was hoping for something a little more polished looking. 

And then I recalled seeing something on Pinterest about spray painting these little jewels to look more upscale. 

The game was on!

I headed to the kitchen and started removing labels...

I'd like to publicly thank you, Folgers, for making my life easier by just having one strip of adhesive to deal with.  Have y'all ever tried to peel the label off a jar before? Not fun!

Being the delicate creature I am, I can't use anything like Goo Gone--it makes my heart race--and not in a good "Oh-look-it's-George-Clooney!" kind of way. Instead, I've learned to simply swab some vegetable oil over the adhesive, wait a little bit, sprinkle some baking soda over the oil, and scrub. Any remaining residue can be taken off with a Brillo pad. 

Anyway, after washing and thoroughly drying the containers, it was time to head outside!  I broke out a can of ivory satin spray paint and the fun began...

We happened to have this can in the garage, leftover from another project. Whatever paint you decide to use, make sure it is formulated for plastic or it will just flake off.

I gave each container two or three coats to totally cover the red.

While the paint dried, I went through my label stash and found this package...

I think I got these from the Walmart craft department a couple of years ago, but obviously you could use any labels you have on hand.

Once the containers were completely dry, I put the lids and labels on, and voila!

That's all there is to it, folks! A farmhouse inspired craft that requires you to drink coffee...or at least befriend people who drink coffee...and people who drink coffee are the best kind of people, in my opinion. Totally a win-win in my books!

Whether you decide to get your craft on or just sit around drinking coffee today, I hope it's a terrific Tuesday for you!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Yield the Field

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding."

The irony of encountering a yield sign right next to an alfalfa field was not lost on me. I'm still learning to "yield the field" to Him.

I hope your Sunday is full of rest, relaxation, and meaning. 💗

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

God Bless America!

Did you ever have a memory from long ago that popped into your head for no apparent reason? A memory that sat dormant in your mind for decades without any recall whatsoever until some minor thing triggered it?

That happened to me this week.

Perhaps it was all the Fourth of July decorating everywhere or the patriotic magazine covers at the grocery store. Maybe it was the blazing summer heat that set it off. But when I recently heard someone say, "God bless America"...

I suddenly remembered.

I first met him on the first day of my freshman year in high school. Oh, I'd seen him before, everybody in the building knew who he was because he had such a presence about him. 

I can still see him now in a light blue leisure suit, a patterned butterfly collar folded out from under the top of the jacket. With his slicked back hair, long sideburns, zip-up boots, and tinted glasses, he made quite the lasting impression. 

But it was his voice that was most memorable.

"All right you bunch of hoods! That's the bell--get to class NOW!"

He was Mr. Jones, our typing teacher, and he scared the snot out of me.

I know I made quite the impression on him, too. That first day of my official high school career, I dressed for success. I got up two hours early and curled my newly permed hair a la Farrah Fawcett, and ever so carefully applied my baby blue eye shadow. I don't mean to brag, but I had. it. going. on!

For about five minutes.

And then life happened...specifically my life.

My Farrah hair had wilted in the August humidity (curse you, Aquanet, and your empty promises!)

My seven coats of Maybelline mascara had somehow clumped together and I had to open my eyes WIDE to pry the lashes apart.

The pleated full skirt of my dress-for-success dress was horribly wrinkled and unbeknownst to me, see-through. Apparently, at my last stop in the ladies' room, my slip had conveniently gotten tucked into the back of my pantyhose and was quite the conversation piece...

But the conversation was about to get even better.

Mr. Jones's class was my last class of the day and it was located on the third floor. The third floor of a very hot building with no air conditioning. The third floor of a Mount Everest to a young girl with melted hair, goopy eyelashes, and sore high-heeled feet.

A girl who couldn't get the combination of her locker figured out and thus had to carry every. blessed. book from the whole day up those three flights of stairs.

I had missed the warning call of "All right, you hoods..." and everyone was already seated when I entered the room.  In desperation, I frantically looked around and spotted an empty seat in the far corner. Between my terror, my gooped up eyes, and my tall stack of books, I didn't see the box fan in the middle of the room...

Until I fell over it.

Books flew across the floor, my full skirt went over my head, and a collective gasp filled the room.

And then I heard it.

"God bless America! Are you okay, Gracie?"

Slowly, with my face on fire, I picked myself up off the floor and whispered, "Yes, sir, but my name's not Gracie."

"It is now, " he replied. "You earned it!"

And yes, I was Gracie for the entire year. I would also discover that he would ask God to bless America for most of the time we were with him.😉

It was God bless America! when somebody dropped her chewing gum into the keys of the electric typewriter during a timed test.

He had God bless America when we complained that our pinkies couldn't push the keys on the manual typewriters.

It was definitely a God-bless-America moment when somebody's onion skin paper got tangled around the typewriter roller and Mr. Jones got carbon paper ink all over his suit trying to free it.

Why, we must have been the most patriotic classroom in America that year! :-)

During the course of the year, we learned that Mr. Jones had been in the military (shocker!) and had never married (double shocker!).

We learned that he could easily type over a hundred words a minute...which put our measly 8 wpm to shame.  I can still see him standing at his roll-around cart demonstrating his typing skills...while talking to all of us...and chewing gum...and walking around.

We learned how to look at a document while typing and not the keyboard.

We learned how to count letters in titles and backspace to get perfectly centered titles.

We learned that strict is not the same thing as mean.

And probably most importantly of all, we learned that first impressions aren't always correct.

Years later, I was in the grocery store with my baby daughter. We were strolling through the cereal aisle when I spotted him. Tentatively, I pushed the cart over to him and quietly said, "Mr. Jones?"

He looked over at me and said, "Why, Gracie! Who do you have here?" 

He admired my baby, and I told him that I had become a teacher and that I still used my typing skills every day.

He smiled and told me he was proud of me, and then we both turned to go. I said to him, "Could you say it just one more time for me?"

He laughed and in his sternest voice said, "Okay, you bunch of hoods, get to shopping! God bless America..."

This Independence Day may God truly bless America.

And may God bless you, Mr. Jones, wherever you are.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday to you, folks!

After being out of school a couple of weeks now, I finally feel rested enough to be doing some productive things...and some completely useless just-because-I-want-to things, too.

After all, isn't that what summer is all about?

Or perhaps that's just the Hokey Pokey. I tend to get things confused when it is so hot outside. Holy heatwave, people, it was almost 100 degrees yesterday! 

One. hundred. degrees. WITH humidity.

One hundred degrees with humidity, and it's only the first full week in June! What's July going to be like?!?

Or *gasp!* AUGUST?

But I digress.

This morning as I have the time to stretch and yawn and sit in my pj's contemplating life, these are the things I'm loving at this particular moment:

This kitchen towel...
Is it wrong to be so in love with a piece of cloth? I mean, what's not to love? It's thick and absorbent, it's festive, and let's not forget, patriotic. 

I found this baby at Walmart, and it had me at "I cost less than $2.00."  Sold!


Speaking of kitchen stuff, I'm also loving the time to gaze at the ever-growing collection in my hutch as I sip my morning coffee.
Most of this is milk glass, but there are a few distant relatives, twice removed. (As in they're not the real deal, but I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings. Shhhhh...)

For the record, I am NOT a morning person. I like to wake up s-l-o-w-l-y as I sip on a pot cup of coffee.  Because it looks so simple, clean, and crisp, this little grouping just makes me smile as I start my day.


Next up on my favorites of the week was what I made for supper last night--Simple Pork Roast.  

Simply take your favorite type of pork roast and add the following ingredients...

Throw it all in a crock pot and cook on low for the day. The complete recipe can be found here.

I know what you're thinking. Didn't I just complain about how dagblastin' hot it was? But hear me out. The baby is home from college this summer, and he is a meat and potatoes kind of guy. If I have any hope of keeping him full and out of the cupboards, it's going to have a pretty substantial meal.

Plus the leftovers are to die for, folks. We're going to have roast and veggies one more time for lunch today, and then the leftover meat is going to be magically transformed into BBQ pork for sandwiches. No cooking for supper or lunch the next day! Whoo hoo!


Finally, I love having time to create during the summer. Instead of painting, knitting, or scrapbooking, I like to make things like this...
Fun FREEBIE! Pirate Mini Unit. Perfect for 3rd and 4th grade summer review!:
from freebie unit found here.
During the school year, I craft things to go along with the units I teach my middle school students. And for the most part, I really enjoy doing that.

However, my secret passion rests with creating things for younger kiddos. I student taught in third grade twenty-some several years ago, and those cutie patooties still have my heart. I've thought about moving down to elementary again, but I also enjoy teaching older kids, too. Creating things for my Tpt store offers me the best of both worlds.

Edited to add this little tidbit of helpfulness: If you are unfamiliar with Teachers Pay Teachers, don't be confused by the name. You don't have to be a teacher to use the site! In fact, there are thousands of FREE resources in addition to very reasonably priced educational products. So, if you're a homeschooling parent, or if you just want some fun educational resources to keep the kiddos from the dreaded summer slide, make sure to check it out!

You will have to set up an account to download resources, but it's absolutely FREE and no salesman will call. LOL

I'm currently working on a mapping unit since this is my most popular pin on Pinterest...
FREEBIE! Cardinal direction practice and beginning map skills are just part of this fun mini unit!:

It's from my free pirate mini-unit found here. Coming up with the different types of maps and using cute clip art just puts a spring in this girl's step, I'll tell ya.

What can I say? It doesn't take much to make me happy...after I've had my morning caffeine, that is.

So there you have it, beautiful people. If you're looking for me today, you can find me happily sorting through darling clip art, snacking on a BBQ sandwich, staying out of the heat.

My hope for you, dear friends, is that you get to spend the day doing what you love as well. 

Have a fabulous weekend!

I'm joining the fun over at Friday Favorites.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Summer Fun for Third Graders

Well, I see that I am not likely to win the "Most Consistent Blogger" award this year, but blogging is definitely on my summer bucket list.  

Creating new products for my Tpt store is also on my list. Is it technically considered a store if I currently have only three products listed? 

Perhaps "Micro-Shoppe" or "Demi-Depot" would be more accurate.

Hmmm....something to definitely ponder.

Anyhoo, as I muster up the gumption to accomplish the two things on my summer bucket list thus far, I thought I'd share two fun summer resources for third graders. Second and fourth graders may enjoy these activities as well.

And yes, they are currently available at my Tpt Micro-Shoppe. J

First up, we have quite the little treasure, mateys!
Third Grade Skills -- Pirate Theme
This pirate themed mini-unit includes:

Pirate Pun -- multiplication riddle
Quotient Quip – division riddle
In Search of Rich Writing – two-day writing activity
Treasure Map – students color by following directions listed
My Treasure Map – students create a map of their own backyard.

All of this wonderful review fun for the low, low price of ...FREE!

Yep, you read that right folks--FREE!  What could be better than that?

Next up, is a lengthier review packet which just has to mean twice the joy, right?
Third Grade Summer Vacation Station

This resource features:

*A reading log to keep track of summer reading
*Reading List of 40 titles recommended for 8 and 9-year-old readers.  (Includes        Grade Level Equivalent, Lexile, DRA, and Guided Reading Levels for each title.) 
*Fiction and Nonfiction practice
*Compound Words
*Plurals for words ending in –y
*Descriptive Writing
*Comparative and Superlative Adjectives
*Types of Sentences (Declarative, Imperative, Interrogative, Exclamatory) 
*Telling time to the minute
*Elapsed time problems
*Review of multiplication facts for automaticity
*Review of division facts for automaticity
*Equivalent fractions
*Scorekeeping with tally marks
*Counting money
*Money word problems
*Doubling a simple recipe

A total of 28 student pages with full-size answer sheets, reading list, reading log, and a summer bucket list!

By the way, THAT summer bucket list has 20 suggestions of  things kids can do to make summer more enjoyable.

Yeah, it's a little more complete than my personal list of two items.

If either or both of these look like something that a kiddo in your life might enjoy, please hop on over to my lil' Tpt shoppe (it looks fancier spelled that way, don't you think?) and pick one up today!

I hope your summer is off to a fabulous start!

Y'all can follow me on Pinterest here. I'd love to have your company! J

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

That Time I Saw Jan Brett

Folks, what would you do if you knew you could not fail?

I have asked myself this question for at least the past 20 years, and the answer is always the same: Write a young adult book. The tough part is to actually sit down and DO it!  I can talk myself out of anything or so it seems. What if I spend all that time writing it and nobody likes it?  What if there isn't a market for the type of book I write? I think the "what if's" plague most of us at some time or another.

Every week I discuss books with my junior high students, but I feel like their current choices are so limited and SO depressing!  Take a look at the offerings the next time you are in Target or Walmart. They all seem pretty bleak, dark, and intense to me.

I remember being a teenage girl and wanting to read an innocent love story. Boy meets girl, girl likes boy, they go to the school dance and have a great time!  Nobody eventually became a vampire or a werewolf.  Neither one was implanted with a computer chip that tracked all thought and movement. The government wasn't out to get them, reprogram them, or Heaven forbid, destroy them! Nope, just a simple little romance, that was enough for me.  I liked to read a story that made me happy and that would be my goal as a writer as well.

Almost two years ago, I was fortunate enough to "meet" a woman who lives out a similar dream. Although I didn't get to visit with her personally, I did get to listen to her fabulous presentation and it truly inspired me.  This renowned artist, writer, and speaker was none other than Jan Brett.  If you have teach primary grades or have young children at home, I bet you're familiar with some of these beautiful books:

Free online copy of this book and a free activity and printable to accompany it.:

Gingerbread Baby story with a Gingerbread Baby Lapbook and activities, with printable resources.:

Ms. Brett does a beautiful job of telling and illustrating stories, and she was gracious enough to come to our little town to do a presentation and book signing.

Her tour bus was a work of art all on its own! It appears that the artwork is changed every year to promote Jan's newest book.  That year, she was in town to promote Cinders: A Chicken Cinderella.
A close-up of the phenomenal artwork!
She even brought some of her chicken "models" on tour!  I assure you, these aren't like the chickens found on farms around here!
Not only can she draw exquisite, detailed pictures, she can draw them AND talk at the same time. You should ask my students about what happens when I try to talk and write on the board....yikes!
Here she is with the final product.... 
 She gave lots of great advice for artists and writers of all ages.  Jan Brett is truly a class act, and I would love to get the opportunity to see her again.

She was so inspiring, and it was wonderful to see someone living out her dream.


That brings me back to my original question:

What would YOU do if you knew you could not fail?

The New Year is quickly approaching...make it be YOUR year to dream big!