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10/24/2014

DIY Ruler Growth Chart



There are a ton of tutorials on Ruler Growth Charts out there, I’m fully aware. I still decided to throw one more into the mix. I’m sure mine is no different than several others, but Brittany & I had a blast working on these bad boys and were so thrilled with how they turned out, I decided to share! So, if you’re interested, here’s what we did, along with a few tips we learned along the way!

Materials:
Board
Stain
Polyurethane
Paint & brushes
Stencils

The Process

1.       Buy a board. Mine is 9 inches wide.
2.    Cut your board to your desired height. We decided our kids would never grow more than 6’6” so we cut our board to 6 feet. It will hang 6 inches off the floor, allowing my ruler to go up to 6’6.” (Well, almost. You can blame my husband for the missing 1/2 inch.)


3.    Stain your board. I read somewhere that you are supposed to sand it first or the stain won’t stick. I’m sure this rule is specific to a certain type of wood. I did not sand and I was thrilled with just one coat of stain. We used this Dark Walnut stain.


4.     Decide on a stencil. We checked several stores and could not find what we’d envisioned so decided to make our own. We printed our numbers (1-6) using Century Font and sized it as big as a ½ sheet of computer paper. Then we went through the tedious process of cutting them out. If you can find a stencil you like, you’re going to save SO MUCH TIME. My advice: don’t settle on a stencil you don’t love just to save time! You’ll be glad you spent the extra time to get exactly the look you love. Your other option is to order vinyl online. There are several places you can order vinyl stickers specifically designed for this project. Just Google, “ruler growth chart vinyl.” I wanted the painted look, and also wanted to save money, so we decide against the vinyl option.
5.     Measure & mark your board. This is the important part! We are going to hang our board 6 inches off the ground, so our first foot mark was only 6 inches up the board.

First I measured each foot mark, starting 6 inches up and going every 12 inches from there. I used a piece of cardboard to make sure each line was the same length and sketched it with a pen.


Then I went back and marked the 3”, 6”, & 9” mark between each foot. I thought three lines between was enough (as opposed to 11 extra lines - one for each inch). I used the same process with a marked piece of cardboard to make sure each line was the same length, and used the 90 degree angle of the cardboard to make sure the lines were perfectly perpendicular to the edge of the board.


When it’s painted, with just three lines between the foot marks, it will look like this.

6.    Trace your Numbers. Place your stencils at the foot marks you’ve made. To make sure my numbers were evenly spaced, I folded my paper in half (horizontally) and made a mark on the fold.

Then I lined up the mark with the dashes. This way I knew the stencil was perfectly aligned with the corresponding dash.


I also used my same handy dandy cardboard I used before to make sure the numbers were perfectly spaced from the edge of the board. I lined up the right side of each number the same distance from the right side of the board. 


Repeat this step with all of your stencils!

7.     Paint your dashes & numbers. Obviously, if you have a stencil, you can just dab your paint into it and whiz through. We didn’t have this luxury so we carefully & painstakingly filled in each number and detailed each straight edge with a tiny paintbrush. IT TOOK FOREVER.

You can probably use any type of paint you have around. I used leftover wall paint from the endless renovations currently ensuing in my home. It is a high gloss bright white.

8.    Poly it! The final step will be to add a polyurethane finish. This will protect your wood & paint from scratching. Here’s the poly we happened to have laying around. {The photo above of the final product does not yet have polyurethane}.


And voila! You’ve got yourself a BEAUTIFUL ruler growth chart. This one is for Beckett’s first birthday. I can’t wait to mark it all up!
10/10/2014

Halloween Bash Blog Hop!

Me, just shy of week 1 Billion-one.
Guys! It's FALL!!!! Fall is my favorite time of year for a BILLION reasons. Pumpkin patches and hot drinks and pretty colors and boots and layers and all of the yummiest smells and I COULD GO ON ALL DAY. Fall puts me in a good mood.

Last year for most of fall, and definitely for Halloween, I was A BILLION WEEKS PREGNANT. That is not an exaggeration. I was GINORMOUS. So, needless to say, I missed out on the fun energetic happenings of fall.

This is me, two days before I went into labor, dressing for fall and pretending like playing in the leaves was fun. Really, I just wanted to sit down and pretend like I hadn't gained 80 (gasp!) pounds in the last year.

Needless to say, this year, I am making up for it! We're packing in all the fall goodness we can! And THIS year, I've got an extra little guy to join in the fun, which MORE than makes up for last year! This is, BY FAR, my favorite fall so far. Thanks, little man!

Meet Beckett.









One of the many perks to being stuck at home pregnant (other than ending up with a cute kid out of the situation), is having extra time to create goodies for you! Last year, I put together some awesome activities that I'm really excited to share with you today. So, without further ado, some treats for you!


This adorable set is my Candy Corn Flash Cards Freebie! Can you even handle the cuteness of those little candy corn faces? {If you want to implement that cute clip art other places in your classroom, you can Click Here for the free link.} How great is it that something as simple as a new set of adorable flash cards can get your students excited about an activity!


I love flash cards because they're cheap & easy to make or buy, and they are SO VERSATILE! If you're needing some inspiration on new, fun ways to use flash cards in your classroom, make sure to check out This Blog Post from last fall. It's got 16 different games & activities to use with flash cards!!

The flyswatter game has always been one of my Go-To games. The kids stayed amused and engaged and I could use it to assess almost any skill at any grade level.

My neice, Avaya (2), is learning to identify letter names.



Another fun and easy game is simply matching or categorizing with the cards. 
My nephew, Eli (4), is working on letter names & sounds.


I have several Alphabet & Number  and Vocabulary Flash Card Sets, {including some FREEBIES!} so if you're looking to spruce up your collection, or supplement a unit plan, make sure to check them out! 


Another fun favorite of mine is this Halloween Literacy Pack. It's chocked full of Halloween themed goodness to supplement your phonics, writing, and reading lessons over the next couple of weeks. It also has CCSS "I Can" posters paired with each activity.


My favorite thing about this pack is the ideas for modifying for various ability levels. We all know how important modifications are, but sometimes they can be tough to do for each center!


I got to put this kit and it's modification suggestions to the test this week with a friend's homeschool kiddos. She's got five kids between 3 and 7. PROPS, MAMA! It was so much fun to hang out with this crew and see how excited they were about these activities. 4 of 5 of them participated, and all of them used the same kit, just modified! Here are some ways we modified these activities.

Adeline (7) and Campbell (6) started with the Mummy Match word family cut & paste. 
We modified by circling the word family letter group (op, etc).





Anderson (7) was able to do the same activity with no modifications.


Anderson (7), Adeline (7), Campbell (6) and Henley (4) all played with the vocab dice & cards.
They practiced identifying the words, drawing the pictures, and writing the words.



Henley (4) focused on tracing the letters on the vocab cards, 
and then mimicking the letters on his paper.
Cambell (6) focused on using the pictures to identify the words,
and then practiced writing them with her beautiful handwriting!

Adeline started out with the word worksheet, 
but then transitioned to writing complete sentences.


While the big kids were focusing on their work, Henley (4) & I did a picture walk of our story.
We then identified the beginning, middle and end. 
Henley drew pictures of each phase of the story, and then dictated captions for his pictures.


It was a great day, and we were all pleased to be able to work in harmony on the same activities, but each with different goals!

Interested in this pack? Enter here for a FREEBIE!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ok, in celebration of fall, and the need for all things warm and yummy but also quick and super easy, I give you THE EASIEST DINNER EVER. 

I hadn't made this recipe in a couple of years. However, as fall came about here in St. Louis, I found myself suddenly craving it, so I decided to whip it out. AND YOU SHOULD DO THE SAME. I promise you won't regret it.

Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup

Ingredients:
Chicken
Canned Black Beans
Canned Diced Tomatoes with Chiles
Canned Corn, drained
Canned Chicken Broth
Cream of Chicken Soup (optional)

Several things I love about this recipe:
 1. It is SO fast. And cheap.
2. You can throw the chicken in frozen. 
3. All of the ingredients are flexible regarding proportions.
4. No seasonings!
5. It smells DELISH.

So here's what you need to know. Don't worry about how much of each. 4 chicken breasts & 1 can of each item is a starting guide, but if you happen to love black beans, add some extra! Want it to be thicker? Add an extra can of cream of chicken! Go WILD, people.

Put it all in the crock pot, on low, for about 8 hours. It will probably be done sooner.
Shred the chicken with a fork. 
Serve with your favorite toppings. {We do cheese, avocado, and plain greek yogurt.}

VOILA!




How incredible is it that this hop is FULL of giveaways?! On top of all of the great freebies & ideas, you can also enter to win one of these fabulous prize packs!! Check them out!

K - 2 Prize Pack


2nd - 5th Prize Pack

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Secondary Giveaway Pack

a Rafflecopter giveaway



10/03/2014

Tricks & Treats Blog Hop!


 Hi, teachers!! Welcome to our Tricks & Treats blog hop! I am so excited to be a part of this hop & so glad to be able to share a little trick & treat with you! We all know that good teachers can never have enough tricks up their sleeves, and there's no doubt you deserve a treat or two! 


 So my trick for you may seem incredibly simple, but I promise you it is one of the best changes we ever made in our classroom! A couple of years ago, I attended an AMAZING workshop on implementing Writing Workshops in our classroom. My co-teachers and I were crazy-excited to implement everything we'd learned. Since I am the one in the group that likes cutesie everything, I got to head up the share chair! Ladies & gents, if you don't have a share chair, this is an amazing way to get your students pumped about writing AND sharing their work!


Our share chair was just an up-cycled chair I found at an art auction fundraiser event. Then to go along with the chair I got a dollar tree microphone and snazzed it up with ribbon and tulle. I know that's a little girlie, but the kids ATE IT UP! Of course you could always make yours more gender neutral.


At the beginning of the year, when we introduced our Writer's Workshop routine, we made a REALLY BIG DEAL out of the chair. It was coveted, friends. Students were only allowed to sit in the chair when they were sharing their work.


I taught ELL, grades K-5, so we weren't sure how the older kids would respond, but they liked it too! The boys tended to pass on using the glitzy microphone, but they really enjoyed being in the spotlight and earning a chance to sit in the share chair. 


In our classroom, we did Writer's Workshop on Thursdays and Fridays, so the rest of the days, the chair was put away. That way, when students walked in & saw the chair, they knew it was writing time!


I hope you get a chance to try this out in your classroom. I would love to hear about your special share chair experiences!

Here are some other ways we made the share chair special:

The big board you see behind the chair is a foam board decorated with tissue paper and then painted. It folded in half and stored nicely behind some filing cabinets. This definitely helped create a wow-factor for our share time. (I bought the board at the same art auction as the chair).

We worked really hard on being a good audience. After each author shared, we snapped for them, like in a coffee house. :) This always made our authors feel proud of their work.

After each share, audience students were allowed to raise their hand & the author called on them. The audience was encouraged to give specific feedback & encouragement about the writing, and was also allowed to ask specific questions that may help the author clarify their writing. (We shared throughout the writing process, not just after stories were published). Giving the authors reign over the classroom, the authority to choose who they would like to call on, and the opportunity to discuss their work really gave the students pride and confidence.

During writing time, teachers held conferences with students. (We had 3 teachers in our classroom!). If a teacher was particularly excited, thrilled, impressed, proud, etc with a student's progress, she would ask the student to share.  This was a big honor! Students, however, were NEVER REQUIRED to share. They shared on their own terms, no pressure!

And that's my trick for you!

  

In the spirit of writing, I have a couple of great treats for you! 

Writing centers and tools are probably my favorite projects to work on. I have quite a few in my TPT Store and am flooded with ideas for more! (Make sure you follow me so you know when they arrive!)

This fun little ditty is a cube that I made last fall, and recently updated to include more goodness as a special treat for my Facebook Followers! Now, you can download it here for FREE! This pack includes two cubes with 6 prompts each (appropriate for about grades 3-5), as well as three "I Can" posters to display in your writing center, or in the hall with finished work! 

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B3KxvOxKYTIGTi00MW0yUDNHODQ/edit?usp=sharing

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B3KxvOxKYTIGTi00MW0yUDNHODQ/edit?usp=sharing

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B3KxvOxKYTIGTi00MW0yUDNHODQ/edit?usp=sharing

And since fall is my favorite season, and I'm definitely in a giving mood, I also want you to have the TOP selling item in my store, my Main Idea & Details + Evidence Graphic Organizer! A teacher friend of mine asked me to make this last year when she was struggling to get her students to use evidence in their reading answers & writing.  There are several different organizers in the pack. You can download the file for FREE by clicking here!

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B3KxvOxKYTIGcmdfYjJiQkFrWUk/edit?usp=sharing

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B3KxvOxKYTIGcmdfYjJiQkFrWUk/edit?usp=sharing

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B3KxvOxKYTIGcmdfYjJiQkFrWUk/edit?usp=sharing

If you like this set, you can check out other graphic organizer sets in my store, including a couple of freebies!

Make sure you grab these items now, because they'll only be available for FREE for a short time!

And that's all, folks!! Happy hopping!