Long Time, No Post! What I've been up to lately.

It has been a whirlwind start to the school year!!  The days are just running into each other and my weekends are way too busy!  Here's what I've been up to lately...
Meet our class!  I saw this idea on Pinterest.  The first day of school I had students draw a self portrait.  I bought a frame for our portraits at IKEA and covered the background in wrapping paper.  Next I glued our portraits in place and this is what I ended up with.

One of the first week of school activities that I did with my class to build community was working puzzles.  I put students in groups of four and gave them a few minutes to discuss strategies for completing the puzzle.  Their goal was to be the first team to complete the puzzle.  The catch was they weren't allowed to talk.   It was the quietest 15 minutes I've ever had teaching!  My students loved it!  This idea isn't my own, I can't remember if I read about it on a blog or on Pinterest.  If you're reading this and it was your idea... THANKS!

Have I told you I love my new teaching position??  I teach a 3rd/4th grade multi-age high ability class.  There are three of these classes at my building and my team is wonderful.  The building also houses 5th through 8th grade high ability classes.  It's such a laid back but stimulating environment!  All of my students are so eager to learn and question everything.  I love all the personalities in my class!  I have a few students that are constantly taking apart or building something.  Here is what one of them did with their pencil top erasers during a social studies lesson.  I'm sure this is not what his mom had in mind when she purchased the erasers!

My weekends have been busy with my daughters' activities.  Payton's soccer team recently won a soccer tournament.  My entire Labor Day weekend will be spent watching soccer.

Avery had her first half time performance with the band and her dance team.  Here she is pre-game with a good friend.

Fellowes Laptop Riser... Every Bloggers Dream!!

I recently reviewed two Fellowes products for Shoplet.com.  The Fellowes Laptop Riser/Lift and Document Lift with Dry Erase Surface are both a bloggers dream!!
The Laptop Riser/Lift
This product is AWESOME!!  One of my main complaints with my laptop is that after working on a product or blog for an extended amount of time, my wrists are killing me!  The Laptop Lift solved that problem instantly!!  The lift has a curved design that serves several purposes.  It allows your laptop to keep cool during extended use, it enhances viewing, relieves head and neck strain, and in my case puts your wrist in a more comfortable position.  It is very lightweight and can support laptops up to 17 inches.  Here is a photo of the Laptop Lift from the front and the side.
You can see from the side view that the lift elevates your laptop a little over four inches!  It includes two tabs in the front that support your laptop and keep it in place.  I really do love this product!!

The Document Lift with Dry Erase Surface

This product is great too!  It has a 3-in-1 design.  The lift can be a document holder, dry-erase board, and a clipboard.  It can also be placed in a vertical or horizontal position.  I plan on using it at my guided reading table.  I can leave it in the stand for all students to see or remove it to work with students one on one.  It will be perfect for holding an papers that I want to display during my lesson.

Don't forget about the Teachers Pay Teachers Back to School Sale that runs today and tomorrow!  My entire store is on sale!!  Click the picture below to see my sale items.

TpT Sale Back to School Best & Most

I'm so excited for the Teachers Pay Teachers Back to School Sale!  I have so many items on my wishlist that I'll be purchasing tomorrow.  Christina Bainbridge at Bunting, Books, and Bainbridge is having a "Best & Most" linky to get everyone excited for the sale!  Here is my yearbook page of the "Best & Most" from my store...

Teacher's Pet: My pet is my Fluency Workstation Voice Jar:  I love this one most because my students love it!  They have so much fun reading in silly voices which helps with fluency and expression!

Most Likely to Help Your Students Succeed: My Writing Prompts for the Four Types of Writing for Upper Grades is a great way to help students succeed by making sure they write expository, descriptive, persuasive and narrative pieces during workstation time.  It includes anchor charts for each type of writing, along with Common Core Standards for 3-5 grades.  I also have Writing Prompts for the Four Types of Writing for Primary Grades as well.
Best Couple: Need help with reading comprehension?  This cute couple will help!  My Book Talk Jar and Book Detective Jar are both activities for students to use during workstations after reading a book alone or with a buddy.

Don't forget to head to Teachers Pay Teachers tomorrow for lots of products for back to school!

Prang Review... Woo Hoo!!

I was recently asked if I would be interested in reviewing Prang writing and art supplies from the Dixon Ticonderoga Company.  Ummm... YES, PLEASE!  Ticonderoga are my all time favorite pencils ( I wish I could insist that all parents buy these pencils)!
I reviewed the following products.
My youngest daughter was as excited as I was to try out all the products.  She did all the testing for me and told me her thoughts on each product.
Prang Classic Art Markers
This marker set comes with 10 (plus two bonus) markers.  My daughter really liked all the color choices (she was actually using the red when I took this picture).  The marker was easy to hold in her hand because it wasn't too "chunky".  She also liked the fine points of each marker compared to the competitors marker.  The markers have a long cap-off life.  Even if the cap is left off all day the marker will not dry out!

Prang Large Triangular Colored Pencils with a bonus sharpener
We both loved these colored pencils!  The triangular shape made them so easy to hold and color with.  Also, the point of the pencil is thicker so it doesn't break as easily as the competitor.  My daughter felt that the color was also darker than other colored pencils.  It was nice that a sharpener was included since the pencils are an odd shape!

Prang Oval Semi-Moist Watercolors

My daughter was most excited about the watercolors.  She loves to paint!  She liked the fact that paint was thicker than most.  It didn't take as many coats of paint to make her picture.  I liked the thickness of the bristles on the brush.  The Prang paint colors were more realistic on paper than the competitors.  The wide container made them mess free!

Ticonderaga 30ct Sharpened Pencils
I love it when parents send in Ticonderoga pencils instead of the cheap competitor brands!  They really are the world's best pencils!!  Not only do they write with a smooth finish, more importantly they do not break electric pencil sharpeners.  These pencils sharpen perfect every time.  It is really hard in elementary school to keep a pencil sharpener longer than a school year!  I also like the fact that the pencils came sharpened!  One less thing to do before the kids came on the first day of school!

As a bonus to you for reading this blog post, Prang is offering a coupon for their Watercolors!  Click on the picture below to print yours!

My Digs

What a fun week!  Today I'm linking up with Blog Hoppin' to show you my classroom digs.  Unfortunately when I was taking pictures of my class I go side tracked!  I go home and realized that I only took two pictures.  So I guess I should have titled this blog Half of My Digs!
Here is my classroom library. I still need to add the genre posters and a few things on the wall (once I find something that will actually stick and stay on the walls).
I have a wall of windows in my room.  The quote above the window came with the room.  I love it!!
Well, that's it.  Hopefully I'll remember to take pictures of the rest of the room sometime soon!

Let's Talk About Me

Today was the first day of school and I am exhausted!!  It was a great day, probably the best first day E.V.E.R.!!  I'm so ready for bed but wanted to join the Meet the Teacher fun before I go!  Here are 10 fun things about me...

1. I am a closet Elvis lover!  I grew up listening to Elvis music and movies.  Probably my all time favorite Elvis song is Suspicious Minds.  I was able to go visit Graceland for the first time last summer.  It was amazing!  Here is a picture of Elvis and me.

2. Running a marathon was on my bucket list.  I began training in 2010, ran my first marathon in 2011, ran my second marathon in 2012, and haven't been running since.  How crazy is that!

3.  I live in the house where my husband grew up. We purchased it from his parents five years ago.  It's a beautiful house and has lots of personality but takes way too much time to clean!

4. I have the best girlfriends!  Here is a picture of our last girls weekend in Tennessee.  None of them are teachers, so they don't quite get the whole "don't plan on seeing or talking to me during the month of August" thing.  However, they are very patient and know that when September rolls around I'm back to my normal self again!

5. Today my oldest daughter started high school!!  It doesn't seem possible.  My youngest daughter is now a 7th grader in the same school where I teach.  Here is their first day of school picture.
Sorry about the quality of the photo... my husband took it on his cell phone.

6.  This is my 20th year teaching.  Crazy considering I'm only 29.  It seems like yesterday when I was one of the young teachers and 20 years of teaching didn't even seem feasible!

7.  My husband and I will celebrate our 20th anniversary next year.  Here is a picture of him with our daughters.  I would show a picture of us together but unfortunately I'm always the one taking the pictures...

8. I love to change my hair color.  My oldest daughter is a blonde and my youngest is a brunette.  I try to give their hair colors equal time on my head.  Right now I'm a blonde.

9. My sister and I are 15 months apart.  She's a teacher too.  We fought like crazy growing up (sorry mom!) but now she's my best friend!  We recently celebrated my mom's 70th birthday (sorry mom!).  This is a picture of us at Wine and Canvas.

10. My 25th high school reunion is next month.  Crazy considering I'm only 29!  I'm looking forward to seeing classmates that I haven't seen in years.

If you're still with me, THANKS!!  Hope this helps you learn a little more about the person behind the blog.

Tomorrow is the big day so it's Monday Made It on Sunday!

I can't believe tomorrow is the first day of school!  My classroom is ready, plans are ready, and I think I'm ready!  I'm linking up with Tara at 4th Grade Frolics a day early for her weekly Monday Made It.  Each year I like to have a B2S gift for my students when they come to school.  This year I'm giving each student a water bottle.  My new classroom is down the hall from the nearest fountain so I thought this would keep down the number of drink breaks each day.  Luckily I found the water bottles on clearance at Hobby Lobby.  They were only 60 cents each!!  I used my Silhouette Cameo to put their names on the bottles.  I love the colors!  Gotta go and catch some zzzzz because it's going so be a long day tomorrow!

Avery Products Review from Shoplet.com

I was recently contacted by Shoplet.com to review products from Avery.  I love Avery products so much so that I named my oldest daughter Avery (not really, it's just a coincidence!).  Here are the five products that I was asked to review...
Avery Flexi-View Round-Ring Presentation View Binder and the Avery Ready Index Contemporary Table of Contents Divider:
I can really appreciate a great binder, especially with all the data I collect on my students.  This binder is made of durable plastic.  It has a stylish border and a clear cover for an insert.  The binder is easy to open.  I love the look of the table of contents divider.  It's very colorful and I was able to color coordinate the ink color to match each divider.  The dividers are heavy weight and have reinforced tabs.

Avery Round Easy Peel Labels:  I label everything in my classroom!  Generally I use your basic rectangle labels, so I was thrilled to try out the round labels.  The labels are two inches in diameter and there are 12 labels to a sheet for a total of 120 labels in all.  I used the labels to number my folders.  They are very easy to print and the labels are easy to remove from the sheet.  I also like the feel and shine to the labels.

Avery Blank Printer-Compatible Tags With Strings:  O.M.G.!!  There are so many things you can do with these tags!!  They come eight to a sheet.  Strings are included to make them easy to attach to anything you'd like.  I made happy birthday tags with mine.  Some other ideas that I came up with were tags for your classroom library baskets, tags for browsing baskets, tags to label cabinets, etc.  There are eight tags to a sheet for a total of 96 tags.  They measure 2 x 3.5.  The tags were a little difficult to tear off the page.  I really had to crease the perforations to remove with out tearing the tags.

Avery Tri-Fold Brochure with Tear-Away Cards:  These brochures are unique because they include four pre-scored tear-away cards.  My plan for these brochures is to make a back to school brochure for my team.  I will include our schedule, a brief description of curriculum, and other important information.  The tear-away cards will be business cards for myself, the principal, and the other two teachers on my team.  There are 50 brochures included in each package.  They measure 8.5 x 11.
If you would like to check out any of the Avery products I reviewed, click on the links above or go to Shoplet.com.

Vocabulary Jar for Workstations, Early Finishers or Whole Group

 I've been working on some jar activities for my new grade level.  This year I will have a 3rd/4th multi-age classroom.  I decided to make a vocabulary jar.  All of my students are above grade level readers.  Often times they can read any word in front of them but have no idea what that word means.  The words that I used are from the National Reading Vocabulary list.  There are 378 words in the download.  I also included a worksheet for students to use for each new word.  Words could also be added instead to vocabulary notebooks.  Here is a preview of my Vocab Jar...

You can find it in my TpT store.  It's on sale for a short time!