Saturday, June 30, 2012

Guest Blogger: Tanja from Journey of a Substitute Teacher!

It is day 2 of my absence. Have you noticed? I'll pretend you have.

Today we are superlucky again.

Tanja from Journey of a Substitute Teacher is guest blogging for me and she is going to show you how to do something that I know you want to do. 
I want to do it.
I've seen these flower pens everywhere. We even had a bunch on our conference room table, but I think somebody took them. Or anyway, they're gone. I can't imagine someone sneaking out with a bunch of flower pens. 

-What's that you've got there?
-What's what?
-That bunch of flowers.
-Oh. These are mine. I carry them around sometimes. To make me happy.

That's actually the benefit to these pens. They are super hard to steal. It's almost as good as when you go to the restroom at a gas station and they give you a key with an entire hanger attached to it. Or a tire. Or a hobbit. Except these are pretty.

Anyway, here's the low-down on how to make some pretty pens. And stay tuned, because there's even a freebie. Tanja knows how to be an awesome guest.

Hi all, this Tanja (Ms. T) from Journey of a Substitute Teacher! I'm so glad to be guest blogging for Chrissy!

While she's off having fun, I'm here to share a project that is fun, cheap, and easy. It's flower pens! I first saw one of these at one of the schools I sub for. Too many people were stealing  not returning pens and so they created flower pens which are unique.

My favorite pin of these pens is this one:

The sign says "Thank you for helping me 'bloom and grow' this year." Obviously for teacher appreciation, but you could make a variety of tags to go with the pens if they are for a gift. I love that they are in a watering can!

Materials needed:
  • Pens
  • Floral tape
  • Hot glue gun
  • Plastic flowers

I had scissors for the tape just in case. I ended up using them for the pens a lot.

First decapitate, I mean remove the flower from its stem.

Pop off the top of the pen(this was the hardest part of the whole process for me) and hot glue the flower into the top.

Wrap the pen with the floral tape.

Stick the cap back on. Or you don't have to, but I want the pens to last a bit. 

And the final product..a beautiful bouquet in a vase, finished off with a ribbon!

You could put the pens in vases, water cans, flower pots, etc. I already have a few requests by friends to make these!

And since I'm guest blogging, I brought along a freebie! Labels to go with the pens :) Labels say mom, teacher, and "Out of the bunch, I picked the best one" for generic :)

Frames courtesy: The 3AM Teacher

Frames courtesy: Mel Stampz

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Nagging II

So I've loved everyones' nagging suggestions. It seems like teachers have perfected the art of nagging nicely. It's the difference between saying,

"Don't forget to exchange your swim trunks."
"Hunny, I know you've been busy, but have you had a chance to swing by Sam's and exchange your trunks? If not, we can go after work today."

But the second one just takes soooooo long. So it only happens sometimes. I tend to offer a disclaimer. "Hunny, I don't actually think you're going to remember to exchange your swim trunks, and then we'll have to eat the 15.00 I spent, plus whatever billions of dollars it will cost us to buy a pair on the ship, so I'm going to nag you about it daily until you exchange them and I don't care if it makes you mad."**

**actual transcript of conversation with my hunny**

He'll be all right.

Anyway, I just wanted to brief you on the upcoming weeks. Because I'm gonna be out of the loop (yay no phones) I've arranged for some lovely guest bloggers to post on the days that I'm away! I'm so excited because there is such a variety of posts coming up - more varied than one person would do!

Stay tuned in the upcoming weeks to read posts from these great guests:

Heather from Peacocks and Penguins

Tanja from Journey of a Substitute Teacher

Natalie from Teachery Tidbits

Krista from The Second Grade Superkids

Casey from Second Grade Math Maniac

Jackie from Third Grade's a Charm

Simone from Busy as a Honey Bee

Also, don't forget to enter my Scientific Method Posters & Word Wall Giveaway at Teacher's Notebook! Why not? It's free!

Or buy them now at TPT or Teacher's Notebook!

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012


So I've been running around like a nutjob trying to get a few things squared away for this cruise. I've become a nagger. As in,

"Hun, did you exchange your swim trunks for the right size?"
"Hun, did you find some shoes to wear on the beach?"
"Hun, what else do you need for this trip?"
"Hun, did you get your birth certificate?"
"Hun, ___fill in blank with mundane task that he hasn't done yet______"

I think if I preface it with 'hun', it's not nagging. It's gentle prodding. It's just being nice so he doesn't have to walk naked and barefoot in the hot sand.

I did set up a giveaway, though. Something to last you until I come back :)

Head over to Teacher's Notebook to enter my Scientific Method giveaway.

You can win my scientific method pack of 11 posters & 11 word wall words for your classroom!
Don't want to gamble today? Just grab them at TPT or Teacher's Notebook.

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Saturday, June 23, 2012

That's a good question: The Scientific Method

So I've been in a sciency mood lately. I guess it makes sense. I've spent many days pondering some very sciency questions.
  • How much cookie dough can I eat and still fit into my swimsuit?
  • Where is my swimsuit?
  • Can I afford a new swimsuit?
  • Why do I have such a headache?
  • Is it because I'm addicted to coffee now?
  • Why haven't I made any coffee today?
  • How long will it take for my headache to go away once I've had this entire, enormous mug of coffee?
  • How many episode Bridezillas can I watch before I become a selfish, hateful bridezilla myself?
  • How many more episodes of Bridezillas do I actually want to watch? 
  • What else can I watch, now that I've decided to stop watching Bridezillas?
I know some of those questions aren't exactly testable, and some don't include variables (although the cookie dough - swimsuit question includes some variable pound gainage) but I still feel very scientific.

I guess that's why I put together this Scientific Method poster & word wall pack. Cause I'm so sciency.
Aren't these little science guys supercute?
You can get them at TPT!


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Friday, June 22, 2012

What's the Matter? Matter!

Do you like my horribly cheesy joke? Oh well. It doesn't really matter.
MATTER! Get it?!


But what does matter is I have spent a week working on this new pack and I'm super excited about using it in the classroom next year. Physical Science always seems so difficult for my kids to understand. I think it's because it's all so abstract - tiny particles they can't see doing things that they don't understand to make states of matter that they don't care about. A lot of factors are playing into this, I guess.

This is also one of our first major science units, and kids are still getting into the swing of being in a new grade level and learning things at a different level, so they have always seemed to have a hard time with it.

To improve their understanding, I try to do as much hands-on stuff as I can to get them to 'see' what's happening. 

I heart foldables, by the way. And it seems that the one I hear the most is the flapbook. They're just so useful. So I want to make this one next year with the kids to represent the different properties of matter and then have them hunt through magazines to find pictures to illustrate them.

I've made this foldable several years in a row to help students organize information about solids, liquids, and gases. We used punched-out circles from a hole punch to represent the molecules. 

One of my favorite investigations to do is the Density Lava Lamps investigation. Students use basic household materials to make a 'lava lamp' that actually demonstrates the property of density. Superfun.

Grab it at TPT or Teacher's Notebook!

And grab my two-page freebie from TPT! Properties of Solids, Liquids, and Gases chart & Sorting Properties of Matter!

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

I Heart TomieDePaola *Freebie!

Yay for me: this is an actual post about school stuff. You may get some value out of this post.
However, I am definitely noting that my Lord of the Rings post received the most comments, so maybe you're not interested in school. Maybe you're more interested in Legolas and Aragorn, because they're hotty hot hot.

I blogged a while back about Tomie DePaola and how I use his books to help my students write personal narratives. It involved a lot of reverse mapping, a lot of character relationships, and a lot of great stories! This year, at the end of third grade, I wanted to read a novel as a shared reading to prepare kids for the experiences they'd have in fourth grade.

I chose, as a culminating text to our Tomie DePaola unit, 26 Fairmount Avenue. 26 Fairmount Avenue is about Tomie's family and their excitement leading up to their new home. It includes the characters my kids had grown to love in the other DePaola books because it is a memoir of his youth. 

I know this book isn't a challenging book for third graders. However, I had such a mixed group of kids that I wanted even my most struggling students to be able to go back into the text to find evidence for their responses. To that end, I chose a book that was independently readable for the majority of my students. I also knew that their interest in the text and Tomie DePaola would help them read.

A few of my students had read this book last year. At first, I was dismayed. I know it's a second grade book, really, but I was worried they wouldn't get much out of a reread. My fears were unfounded. On the first day, as we predicted, one of my students says, "Yeah, I read this book last year, but there's one thing I don't know. Why is it called 26 Fairmount Avenue?"

Ummm.... cause that's the address of the house.
The house that is being built throughout the whole book.
The house that they finally move into in the last chapter.

So I figured that they would get a lot out of it, because they didn't really get it in the first place!

We did a ton of stuff with this book. We (and I'm so sorry because I didn't take pictures of this - bad teacher bad teacher) sequenced the events of the book on cards and glued them onto a sentence strip. Then the kids illustrated the events.

We also spent some time with vocabulary and comprehension. My kids really struggle with answering specific questions that require inferencing and sequencing, so I wrote a set of questions for each chapter. We also worked a lot with context clues to infer the meanings of new words. The vocabulary of this book isn't very complicated, but there are words scattered throughout the text that are unknown to my kids.

Then we made these: Open Mind Portraits.

I have a couple of artists in my classroom this year!

On the inside, students completed the statements about what is in Tomie's brain: 
I love..., I am happy when..., I wish..., and I don't like...

I have a couple of artists in my classroom this year!

Of course, I cram in eighteen thousand things at the end of the year. I just run around saying, "They're not ready! They're not ready!" and I do as many things as I can to 'prepare them' lol. Anyway, this is one thing I didn't have time for boo. It's a craftivity for students to write inside of. 

You can grab it all at TPT or Teacher's Notebook

Grab this freebie from TPT:
Character Relationships Map

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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Books books books

I'm a reader. I love to read novels, mostly (not the biggest nonfiction reader, except for blogs, I guess!) and I can't imagine my life without a love of reading. It can be hard for me to find books I love. For example, 50 Shades of Grey? Really? I'm sorry, but I picked up the book in Barnes & Noble after so many people recommended it. I thought it might be something.

I read the back. And I threw up in my mouth a little.

Anastasia Steele? Seriously?! Grey Whatevertheheck his first name is?! Can't do it, people. Too barfy for me. A friend of mine bought it and said that she can't handle it, either. She let me read a page. I read the words 'inner goddess' and was thankful I didn't spend the $$ at Barnes & Noble. I wish I could read that stuff. But it's just not possible. (I bet this is gonna tick somebody off lol. Sorry in advance.)
Related idea, yet unrelated:

I love to read novels with my kids. I wish I could spend more time on it, but it can take soooo long to read a novel if you spend any time talking about it and working with it. I can usually only fit in about two a year in fourth grade. In third, the kids' stamina didn't really lend itself, so I was only able to do one. We had to spend a lot of time working with shorter texts.

26 Fairmount Avenue
I put together a pretty nifty novel unit, but I still need to try one thing before I can post it to TPT.

It's important for me to do these as shared readings. I want students to have copies of the books and be able to go back and find evidence to support their responses to text. In order to get enough copies, I buy them when they're a dollar at Scholastic! I'm not sure if you do Book Orders (I thought everybody did, but I showed it to my sister-in-law and she said no one at her school knew of them!!) 

Scholastic Book Orders are the bestest. Of course, it's a great way for your kids to get books at a reasonable price, but one of the best things is that for every dollar parents spend, you get a bonus point! You can get bonus bonus points at different brackets, and for specials and stuff, too.

So that's how I get my book sets. I either buy them when they're a dollar, or I use my bonus points to get them. (I also use bonus points to buy the kids a gift book at Christmas) 
You can go here to sign in to Scholastic Book Clubs online!

These are books I love to read with kids in the fourth grade:


Nick is a little boy with big ideas. One day, after learning from his teacher where words come from, he decides to call a pen a 'frindle' and it takes off.

Because of Winn-Dixie
Opal lives with her father. She finds a dog and her relationship with the dog helps her belong in her small town.

Walk Two Moons
Sal searches for her mother who left her and her father. The story unfolds a little at a time.

Love That Dog
Prose style. Jack doesn't want to write poetry, but Ms. Sugarberry convinces him through reading great poets.

Esperanza Rising
Esperanza's rich family loses everything and become migrant workers. Beautiful story.

These are the books I've used the most with kids. Which books do you love love love to read with your kids?

Also, check out my new Good Readers Strategies poster pack at TPT and TN

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Saturday, June 16, 2012

6 Reasons Why Lord of the Rings is Awesome

This may be a very unpopular post. It was definitely inspired in an odd moment. Yesterday, we had this horrible dust storm. One minute, I was sitting on my porch swing, appreciating the warm breeze, and the next minute a huge swarm of dirt caught up in a high-speed wind surged down my street, carrying my garbage can with it. I ran out and dragged it back up against the house, and darted inside...

to find my power off.

I live in a desert, people. Deserts get hot. And no power=no air. So I went to my hunny's house because he didn't lose power in our horrible dust storm. *Also, no power = no internet, so boo for that!

I found him halfway through a Lord of the Rings marathon. Now, I am duly unqualified to comment on this. I'm not part of any fan club, don't have a costume in my closet (well, I was Arwen for Halloween one year, but that was a while back), and I only read The Hobbit and the trilogy. But sometimes, you get a notion, and it shows up in your blog. 

Not only that, but I can totally quote Galadriel: "Not dark, but beautiful and terrible as the dawn! Treacherous as the sea! Stronger than the foundations of the earth!"

So here we go.

6 Reasons why Lord of the Rings is awesome.

1. Hobbits are little.
This might not sound awesome. Little things aren't expected to be that awesome. But the hobbits are little and awesome. They're the best in us - they do the things that take heart and sacrifice, and they're unlikely for the job. The others sacrifice, too. Their commit to protecting someone who is almost destined to fail. They stand up for somebody. That's what we all want in us. 

It's highly quotable. 
Fly, you fools!

3. Viggo Mortenson is hot stuff. 
This one doesn't need much elaboration. He's dirty, and he's scraggly, but he's got an accent and he kicks butt regularly. 

4. Orlando Bloom is pretty.
Again, self-explanatory. He's not dirty, and he's not scraggly, AND he has an accent and he kicks butt regularly.

5. There's so much literature behind it that it would be impossible for me to read it all.
I'm, like, super impressed with JRR Tolkein. He's such a prolific writer, interweaving entire subplots and stories as if it's our own history. The companion literature alone is staggering. The languages, cultures, and backstories blow my mind. To put it simply, he's way smarter than me.

6. Elves.
They're so cool.

What is your opinion on The Lord of the Rings? Do you think it's as amazing as me? Or, I guess I should say, as I do. It's way more amazing than me lol.

I asked my hunny, "Give me another reason Lord of the Reason is awesome." He said, "I don't know." Dud.

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Monday, June 11, 2012

Devil Rolls and Pinterest Linky Party!

I know I mentioned that I'm going on a cruise soon. Unfortunately, I'm a bit of a tub-o. It's genetic. Also I really like tasty stuff. And the worst part is that my hunny is an enabler. He loves food. And he also loves sitting on the couch. So I'm having a few issues about putting on a swimsuit and romping around like a dorkus. I don't mind curves (those aren't going anywhere!) but I would like to have a few less curves in certain areas.

Yesterday, my hunny's godfather took us to dinner. We went to my hunny's favorite place: Texas Roadhouse. If you've been to Texas Roadhouse, you know that there are two things on the table before your meal arrives. There is a bucket of peanuts and there is a basket of fluffy, doughy, deliciously smushy rolls.

Well, I had just spent the whole day trying not to think about the frozen cookie dough in my freezer. I didn't plan it that way - I bought cookie dough from a high school football player when he came to my door about four months ago. Then I forgot about it, because it never came. On Thursday (my first day of summer break), the little football player arrived at my door with two tubs of frozen cookie dough and an apology that it took so long. So I stuffed them in the freezer and tried not to think about them. Because I heart cookie dough.

So after a day of trying to keep the cookie dough from shoving itself in my face, I was super hungry. I had tried to deter my craving for tastiness with the pin below about Greek yogurt, but it's no substitute for cookie dough. I had a plan, though. I was going to let Fernie and his godfather eat the rolls while I ate peanuts.

I sat at the table, and the waitress placed our bowl of doughy goodness in the middle. I looked around...

and there were no peanuts. I panicked for a second. I looked around helplessly. I saw other people enjoying their peanuts.

And I saw other people enjoying their fluffy puffy balls of baked dough as well. Oh dear.

Hunny! I said. Where are the peanuts?!

He chuckled. He knew what I was doing, so he found me some peanuts. I proceeded to shove them into my face at a rate that would impress a circus elephant.

They finished the rolls.

Then the waitress came back. "Oh!" she said. "Do you need some new rolls?"
But she didn't just ask it, people. As the words were coming out of her mouth, tiny little horns popped out of her head and her voice dropped several octaves. She grew little fangs and proclaimed it in an evil voice while little flames danced in her pupils. "Yes." said my hunny.

I will refrain from  making a comment about his supportiveness here.

I summoned the power of Greyskull and magically, no rolls entered my person. However, I did shell peanuts like a squirrel. Yay for me.

These are my pinterest finds that I have tried or want to try this summer, and I'm linking up with Amber at Adventures of a Third Grade Teacher.

To try to fill myself up without lots of calories, I've been having Greek yogurt for breakfast with just some walnuts in it. I unfortunately love ice cream. I thought this might be a good middle ground.

Mine were not as pretty, but they were tasty!

I like these B.E.E. books: Bring Everything Everday. It can hold homework, agenda, notes home, etc.

I really liked these little birthday straws - I even bought the straws already!

And this one is just a really bad idea. But I love pink lemonade, and I love margaritas. So how can Pink Lemonade Margaritas go wrong?

I think four is enough. to commit to. I don't want to be overzealous.
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