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11/06/2013

Veteran's Day

Happy Almost Veteran's Day!

Since 9-11, and with the ever changing & evolving political mess overseas, I think that our military have been given more attention than I remember them having before. Still, however, I think that we still struggle to give them the respect, admiration, and gratitude they truly deserve. I love this country, and what it stands for, in spite of the drama and politics we wrestle with daily. I look at it like a family - we're crazy and messy and have those members that just can't get it together, but it's the only one we've got. I love em. :)

Anyway! My dad was Air Force yet, sadly, I still don't remember ever really having a sense of utmost respect and admiration for our military. I hope it something we can continue to strive for and teach our children. On this Veterans Day, I hope we all remember how and why we live in a free country, and help to instill a grand respect in our students & children.


Below are a few activities that I've created, as well as some ideas for other creative activities you can do in your classrooms or at home.

{KWL}
Spend a little time learning about our military and the importance of Veterans Day. Some ways you can do this are by watching videos, reading books, or inviting a guest speaker to come in. Use a {KWL Chart} to structure the day & track your learning! KWL Charts are super easy to make, so create your own, or download one of my packs:

My Veteran's Day KWL Pack includes two of my {KWL+Evidence Graphic Organizers!}, with a fun Veterans Day theme for your visual learners. Each of the two charts is available in full color or in black and white. 

My recently updated KWL pack includes three variations of my KWL+E graphic organizer, made to suit any grade or ability level, K-12. Each variation is provided in blackline format and with a color border option for more appealing dispays!
{Research}
There are a TON of great ways to research Veterans Day. There are passages & websites all over the place that have great reading on Veterans Day. I particularly like Wikipedia. The government also has an {Official History of Veterans Day} page. Consider allowing the students to watch videos (independently or whole group), read books & articles, or prepare an interview for guest veterans. Most students could find a friend or family to interview at home as well. Compile the information with {Graphic Organizers} and turn them into a writing project! I also have a great pack with reading comprehension pages that I designed specifically for this special day!:



{Writing}
Of course there are always great ways to challenge students to write on special days like this. Consider thank you cards to a military person you know, informative pieces on what they know or learned about the military, or opinion pieces on why our military is so important. To add a dash of creativity to the assignments, use some of my {Freebie Veterans Day Writing Paper}.


Or, download my entire {Veterans Day Writing Center Bundle}.



Creative Ways to use Worksheets!

Worksheets can be amazing. They're already prepared for you, they do the important jobs of practice & assessment, and they require little to no prep work! What more can a teacher ask for? Well, we all know what more we could ask for: something that the kids also ENJOY. So, here I've compiled a few ways that you can use the same old worksheets, in more creative and unique ways your students will think are AMAZING!



{Buzzers}
Additional Materials: Varies
Basic Instructions: Have students make buzzers out of whatever materials are available. They can beat two markers together, make a noise-maker out of rolled up paper, stomp their feet, etc. Then, review your worksheet just like you would normally... except it's not normal! As you ask a question, students "buzz in" instead of raising their hands!
Even More Ways to Mix It Up: 
- Call the questions out of order so students don't know which question is coming next.
- Keep score; Give additional points for being able to thoroughly explain their reasoning
- Put students in teams



{Convince Me}
Additional Materials: None
Basic Instructions: Students complete a worksheet independently. This works best with multiple choice. As you review, designate a spot in the room for A, B, C, or D. After reading each question, students will stand in the section of the room that represents their answer. After every student is in place, each group discusses the reasons they chose this answer. Then they groups try to convince the other groups that THEIR answer is correct. After each group has had a chance to speak, give students a  chance to change places. After students have changed places, ask one or two students why they chose to change. Sometimes they realize they were correct to begin with!
Even More Ways to Mix It Up:  
- Give points or candy for correct answers
- Use toy microphones for the speakers


{Dice Game}
Additional Materials: A die, {Dice Game Poster}, Other materials vary depending on the challenges you choose.
Basic Instructions: Instead of handing out the worksheet, just have one to display on a SmartBoard or Elmo. You'll need something to cover up the rest of the worksheet so you only reveal one question at a time. Then split students into teams. Assign each number on the die a special challenge. You can use one of the posters in my {Dice Game Poster Pack Freebie} (below) or make up your own. Each team takes a turn rolling the dice and following the special challenge in order to complete the question! This game makes more sense once you check out the poster. In my pack, I have two versions: one that requires no supplies and one that requires several supplies.
Even More Ways to Mix It Up:  
- Allow students to study the worksheet, individually or in groups, for a certain amount of time before getting started.
- Assign the worksheet for homework the night before, then collect it before playing the game.
- Assign the same worksheet for a quiz or homework AFTER playing the game.
- Give additional points for being able to thoroughly explain their reasoning.




{Highlighter Heaven}
Additional Materials: Highlighters
Basic Instructions: Instead of answering the questions outright, students must go through the reading and highlight where they find the answer. Then they must label in the margins which number question this passage answers.
Even More Ways to Mix It Up: 
- Partner students and give them two separate worksheets. Have them work independently to highlight them. Then have the students trade. Time the students to see how quickly they can answer the questions with the reading already highlighted for them!


{Movin' & Music}
Additional Materials: Music & a Timer
Basic Instructions: Simply allow students to sit anywhere in the room. They can sit under desks, in special chairs, on the floors, stand against walls, etc. Then just play music and tell the kids they'll have to switch every minute. Play music & set a time. After a minute is up, the kids find a new place in the room to sit. This works best with worksheets that don't require a TON of concentration on one question for a long period of time. I would not recommend it for reading comprehension. The purpose is to just keep their attention, let them move, and get some oxygen flowing to those brains!
Even More Ways to Mix It Up:  
- My second graders LOVED this. We used it with fluency practice readers. Every time they switched, they started reading their passage over again, hoping to read more in a minute each time!
- You may need to set a time limit on how long they have to choose a new spot. 10-15 seconds should be PLENTY.





{Pass the Q}
Additional Materials: None
Basic Instructions: {This game is similar the the Rotation Activity below, except the students don't move}. Cut the worksheet up and hand out one question to each student. Have student number a separate paper. Remind students to pay attention, because they won't all start on #1. Set a timer, and go! Students work to answer their question. When the time is up, students pass their question on to the next person. If they're not ready, they pass anyway. Continue until each student has had each question.
Even More Ways to Mix It Up:  
- Play music


{Rainbow Worksheet}
Additional Materials: A plethora of colored pencils, crayons, or markers
Basic Instructions: 
Students get to use colored pencils to do their worksheet! Here's how I do it: Students choose any shade of blue to complete their worksheet. They work individually to complete it. Then they switch to a shade of green and partner up. With their partners, they discuss each answer. If they choose to make any corrections/changes, it must be done in their shade of green. Then students choose a shade of pink/purple. Together, we go over the worksheet. We discuss each question. I ask students for their opinions on the question, and why they feel that way. I make sure to target students with green on their paper: "Why did you change your answer? Tell us your thought process." As we go, we don't give ANY final answers, but students are allowed to make more changes. Then at the end, we choose a shade of red/orange to correct the paper together. With all of these colors, it adds a bit of fun and variety. Plus it allows me as the teacher to see the though processes and evolution of thinking. I can get students talking about their thought process and answers, and focus on those that have made several changes.
Even Ways to Mix It Up:  
- Obviously, use whatever color pallet you prefer!
- Have student write reasonings for why they changed their answer.
- Stop after the partner discussion & just turn the pages in.


{Rotation Activity}
Additional Materials: Paper & Pencils, Timer
Basic Instructions:
Cut the worksheet up and place the questions around the room, playground, etc. Each student starts at a question. Have them number their paper before they get started. Remind students they all won't start at #1, so pay attention! Set a timer, and go! When the timer goes off, the students move to the next question in the rotation. If they're not ready, they have to move anyway! Continue until all students have been to all questions.
Even More Ways to Mix It Up:  
- Play music
- Make students do silly moves as they move between questions (walk like a duck, spin twice, hop like a bunny, etc).



{Train Game}
Additional Materials: Tape. You'll also need to do some cutting prep work.
Basic Instructions: 
This can work in one of two ways:
- With a reading passage: Cut the questions corresponding with a reading passage. Then cut out the section of the passage where you'd find the answer. Tape one question on each student's back, and then give each student an answer/section of the passage. The students' goal is to find the question they have the answer to, and stand behind that person. They will eventually make a train.
HINT: You'll need to do some thinking in advance & ordering to make sure students don't get the answer to their own question and that the train doesn't turn into a ball! :)
- Any other type of worksheet: Use the same method, but you'll need to write/type the answers or cut them from a copy of the answer key.
Even More Ways to Mix It Up:  
- Don't allow talking. Play music instead.



11/04/2013

Thanksgiving Emergent Readers Literacy Bundle

I'm so excited that Thanksgiving is near. I'm still working on fun activities for those kiddos! This pack is for PK-1 and includes three emergent readers, plus additional activities and flash cards to practice vocabulary, reading, and writing!

FOLLOWERS' FREEBIE BONUS! As a special treat for my blog followers, I'm emailing out one piece of this pack for FREE! Just {Follow By Email} and then comment below or email me privately and I'll send you any piece you'd like!

{Thanksgiving Emergent Reader & Literacy Bundle}



The full pack includes {and my Followers' Freebie choices}:
  • Emergent Reader “I see a [Thanksgiving Vocabulary Word].” Provided in color and in black & white. Includes a cover, 6 pages of reading, and one “write your own” page.
  • Emergent Reader: “I can count [Number words 1-6] [Thanksgiving Vocabulary Word].” Provided in color and in black & white. Includes a cover, 6 pages of reading, and one “write your own” page. Pages are not numbered, so order them sequentially for predictable reading or mix them up for an added challenge!
  • Emergent Reader “The [Fall/Thanksgiving Vocabulary Word] is [Color word]. Provided in color only. Includes a cover, 8 pages of reading, and one “write your own” page. Pages are not numbered, so order them sequentially (rainbow color order) for predictable reading or mix them up for an added challenge!
  • Thanksgiving Read Write the Room
  • My Thanksgiving Vocabulary Cards
  • Thanksgiving sort: food/not food, alive/not alive,
  • Thanksgiving themed Sight word cards: I, see, a, the, is, & can. Provided in color and in black & white. Both sets also include a blank page of cards for adding your own words!
  • 5 Thanksgiving Read, write, cut, & paste pages, based on “I see a” Emergent Reader.

11/01/2013

Beckett's Nautical Nursery Reveal!


Ladies & Gents, we are so proud and excited to finally post the official reveal of Beckett's Nautical Nursery!

A little background: While I was researching nursery ideas (themes, projects, organization, must have items, etc) I found a TON of these nursery reveal videos on YouTube. At first I thought they were a bit cheesy. But actually, they were fun to watch and VERY helpful for this first time mommy. Plus, after spending WEEKS putting together our own nursery, we most definitely want to be sure our family and friends get to see it! :) So, without further ado, we introduce to you Beckett's Nautical Nursery:


For you mommies out there, or for anybody just curious, here are the details on the details, in order of reveal:

#10 - {The Organization}

The Closet Curtain Doors
When we bought this house, there were no doors on ANY of the closets. For Beckett's room, we decided to add some fun print by using IKEA curtain panels instead of buying doors. To create this look, you will need:
- The KVARTAL hardware for hanging the rail. We used 3.
- The KVARTAL top & bottom rails for hanging the panels. We used 4.
- Fabric of your choice for each panel. I used 23 inch by 7 foot panels. You can buy them from IKEA or make your own.

The Closet Tags
I got the tags from {Sew Sweet Stiches Baby} on Etsy. She has a ton of different designs. I love the quality of her work, and she even customized mine a bit for me. Later, I contacted her to buy the fabric directly from her because I couldn't find it and wanted it for a Boppy Cover!

Cube Shelf
The shelf came from {Target} and the cubes came from {Home Depot}. We printed the tags on our home computer. 

The List
Our cubes are organized into the following categories: Hats, socks, swaddlers, receiving blankets, shoes, diapers & wipes, toys, carriers, & sheets. 

#9 - {My DIY Projects} 

The Boppy
With virtually NO sewing experience whatsoever, (I started using my sewing last week for the first time in 14 years) I made two boppy covers that I LOVE. They were cheap and match my theme and I get to feel accomplished. There are several tutorials, but I just printed the pattern and followed the instruction on the pattern. Some of the tutorials were overly confusing to me. Here are the instructionsHere's the pattern.




#8 - {Birth Announcement}

I've seen a TON of these on Pinterest & {Etsy}. You can buy them for $20-$30 or you can design one yourself! I used Photoshop to put this one together. I plan on adding scrapbook paper behind the final product. The one here is my prediction of Beckett's birth statistics. Brian has his own predictions too :) Winner gets a free pass on the first five dirty diapers.



#7 - {Crib & Dresser}

We got the crib & dresser from {Target}. We LOVE this set. The crib was a gift from Nana & Papa. Plus we got an awesome deal on it: It was ON SALE for $50 off, plus if you bought it Labor Day weekend, it came with a FREE Simmons Mattress. On top of that we had been told we would receive another 20% off for registry fulfillment. I hadn't gotten my coupon, so Target went ahead and marked it down for us. Then we had another coupon or Cartwheel (I don't remember) and THEN if you use your Target Red Card (they have debit now!) you can get an ADDITIONAL 5% off! :) Talk about great deal. 

#6 - {Diaper Stockpile}

As a #MomInTraining, I've been working on my couponing skills for a couple of months now. Check out my tutorial on {How I Stock Piled Diapers}.


#5 - {Bench}

We registered for this bench at {Target}. I love the size and cubes but, not the tan cushion, so I decided I'd just cover it to match the room! I couldn't find a tutorial on a bench cover, so I used {this blog} as a starting point instead. I just changed the measurements proportionately (I estimated) and used the exact same steps! 



#4 - {Signature Frame}

This frame was the brilliant addition of one of my shower hostesses at the first shower we had. I took it to all three showers and had my friends & family sign it. However, the frame was black, which didn't go super well with our nursery decor. So I used {this cutie chick} as inspiration for redecorating the frame. Basically, you cut strips of fabric and then wrap it around the frame! A few tips:

   She used modge podge. I decided to go with hot glue instead. I chose this because it dries instantly and has a strong hold right away. I did a lot of tight pulling and think modge podge would have been a hot mess.
   Fold out all of the clips that hold the glass in. That way you don't accidentally wrap them in the fabric. 
   Choose a thin fabric. It was hard enough with the super thin fabric i used to get the glass & backing back in.
   I was intentional about wrapping the fabric in different directions. You may or may not want this look.



#3 - {Glider}

We got the glider from {Babies R Us}. Remember to order EARLY (10-12 weeks minimum) if you want to customize the fabric! However, toward the end of your pregnancy, you'll get a 20% off coupon for ANY item (even if it's on sale!). So pair this coupon with your on sale glider and you've got a great deal! :) 


#2 - {Beckett's Name Sign}

My Mom and I made this ourselves! :) You can see that "How To" post {here}.


#1 - {The Paint}

The Polka Dot Wall
I used the lid of a Lowes bucket to trace dots onto the wall with a pencil. Then I just used a brush and small roller to fill them in. They're not perfect, but that's ok with me :)


The Stitched Sailboat Painting
Brian and I decided that we wanted a sailboat silhouette painted on the wall. Then my bff suggested the stitched look instead. We LOVE IT. It was super easy peasy. Here's my blog post on {How to Make a "Stitched" Image on your Wall!}.


This whole room was so much fun to put together. I hope you've enjoyed it and gotten some inspiration! Feel free to let me know if you have questions.

#TeacherMom

How to Make a "Stitched" Image on your Wall!


1. Find an image you love. I searched a bunch and ended up sketching my own because they all had aspects I loved, but none were perfect. When you find the image, sketch or trace it onto grid paper. I just printed mine from printablepaper.net.
I decided on the purple boat.
2. Measure out your wall, and mark the major points of your image using an imaginary grid on your wall. My wall is 8 feet tall, and my boat was about 4.5 feet (using each square as 1ft). I started at the bottom and marked the bottom corners of the boat 2 feet from the floor and 2.5 feet apart from each other. Then my hubby free-handed the bottom curve line. From there we made the top corner points, about 1 foot up from the bottom corners and about 4 inches out. We free handed the lines in between. Then we made the bottom point of the mast. It was centered between the two points we just made (the top corners of the boat) and about 3 inches up. Then we made a straight line 3.5 feet up. Just keep going like that, marking your major points, using your imaginary grid lines, and free handing the rest with a pencil! It doesn't have to be perfect!


3. After your sketch is complete, use a sponge brush to dab the stitch lines into place. You want to just dab the very end of your brush into the paint.

Then dab the brush onto your pencil lines. I think this was a 2-inch brush. I used the brush width to space the stitch lines evenly apart. So after each stitch, I held the brush in the empty space to identify how far apart my stitches needed to be.

You may consider using more than one color paint. We used grey for the mast and boat bottom, and white for the flags. You can barely see the difference, but it helps to define the parts, I think!



4. When you're finished and the drawing is dry, use a wet paper towel, or a baby wipe, to wipe away any pencil marks! And you're done! :)