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9/30/2015

DIY Magnetic Letter Wall

So I've mentioned my magnetic letter wall before, and have every intention of eventually showing off my entire playroom, but for now I thought it was about dern time I shared this fabulous project. I AM SO IN LOVE WITH THIS WALL! It was a bit time consuming and not cheap, but it was easy to do and I am just so happy with how it turned out! We asked for our letters as a first birthday gift from Nana & Papa!



For this project you will need:
- 6 foot metal strips: We used 4 but if I were doing it again, I would use 6. When you go to Lowes, take a magnet with you to test and make sure they're magnetic!
- Spray paint in whatever color you'd like your strips to be. We chose white
- Bolts & Washers: 4 of each PER strip. We used 16 of each.
- Wood Alphabet Letters:  When you're looking, aim for something sturdy enough to withstand your kiddo(s) but as lightweight as possible. This is SUPER important!! You can find the ones I used at Walmart here or Amazon here. If you find lighter ones (that are still sturdy!!), that's EVEN BETTER!
- Scrapbook Paper: One piece for each letter (unless you use smaller letters). I chose 5 colors and then a couple prints of each color and alternated. Here's a hint! I had recently painted my playroom and saved the paint samples to take to the store. This way, I could make sure the colors I chose matched the rest of the room. 
- Craft Paint & Paintbrush: In whatever color you want the sides of your letters to be. We chose white.
- Exacto Knife: (like this) or Sharp scissors.
- Modge Podge: I use this kind. 
- Foam Brush: Like this.
- Magnet Strips. Like this. I think they're much cheaper in store at Walmart. 
- A REALLY Strong Glue. I used some special concoction epoxy I found in my husband's garage. Hot glue WILL NOT WORK for this project.
- A drill

Step 1: Paint your letter edges.
The paper will not cover the edge of your letters, so you will want to paint them, unless you're cool with the wood showing.


Step 2: Organize Your Paper
I laid out my papers in the order I wanted them first, to make sure that I had them in a pattern I liked. I wanted the colors to alternate and to have my different patterns spread out evenly (no stripes next to stripes!).


Step 3: Modge Podge Your Paper On
DO NOT CUT YOUR PAPER. First, spread an even layer of modge podge over the front of your letter. Then lay your paper on top & smooth it out evenly. 

Step 4: Cut the Paper to size
Use your exacto knife to trim the edge of the paper to fit the letter. I tried this with the letter facing both up and down, and think I like cutting from the top down better. I got less tears in the paper. This is a tedious process. Pull up some Netflix. 

Step 5: Modge Podge the Front
Once you've cut your paper down to the letter, spread a thin & even layer of modge podge over your letter, making sure to smooth your edges down. 


Step 6: Glue Your Magnetic Strips
Measure 1/3 or 1/2 way down each letter and mark where you want your magnets to go. You want to make sure the letters are even when they're hanging on your wall! Peel the back off of the magnets, and then glue them on with something SUPER STRONG. It takes quite a few strips of magnet to get this bad boys to stick to the metal strips, so you'll want to cover as much space as possible. I made the magnet section just as wide as two of the magnetic metal strips put together. 

Step 7: Spray Your Metal Strips
You'll want your strips to have a clean, bright look to go along with your letters. I considered not spraying mine (because I'm impatient) but I'm so glad I did!


Step 8: Hang Your Strips
I hung two strips together to make sure that there was enough magnetic space to hold the weight of the letters. Before you hang the strips, test what height will be appropriate for your kiddo now, but also as he grows. Then test to make sure you're hanging your strips spaced far enough apart (vertically) to fit your letters. If I were doing this again, I think I would hang three strips so that the letters have more space to spread out. When they are all on the wall, they are kind of squished.


Step 9: Enjoy Your Wall!
I love playing with this wall with my son! I hope you enjoy yours too!!


To see some of what has inspired my playroom, check out my Renovation:Playroom Pinterest board!
9/29/2015

Tot School: Fall Y'All

Are you loving Tot School?! I've had such great feedback and ideas from Mommies & Pre-School teachers everywhere! If you haven't jumped on board yet with your littles, I highly recommend giving it a try. I LOVE having specific topics and activities to explore with my little man (22 months). And while the idea may seem intimidating, Tot School is really just about making time to be intentional with YOUR kid in a way that suits YOUR family. Do what works for you!

If you're just joining us, here are a couple notes to catch you up on MY Tot School journey:
- Beckett is currently 22 months. Around 17 months we started being more intentional about teaching letter names. You can read more about how I taught the alphabet here.
- We started Tot School Last month with a few specific goals in mind, including a lot of flexibility! You can read about the start of my journey here.
- September's theme was "Things That Go." You can read more about that plan here. Or just go ahead grab my materials pack here. 
- Tot School is about doing what works for YOU and YOUR TOT! So take what works for your kiddo, and leave the rest behind! Make sure you're having fun with it!

So last week I briefly introduced my October Tot School Plans! Later in the week, as I was completing my packet, I decided to make some revisions! So today I just wanted to show you what's in my October Tot School pack, which is TEMPORARILY FREE in my store! Grab it here!


The first change I made was to the vocabulary words. I decided I wanted to add a few more and take away the colors (which I would be working on anyway). There are 12 total cards in the set. Remember to do what works for you though! If you feel like 4 is enough, stick with those! Check out this post for some interactive games to use with your cards.


I plan on using the "ball" card instead of the "football" card, but wanted to include both for those tots that can handle the more complex pronunciation.


When I'm choosing my words, I'm also looking at beginning sounds. I want to focus on about 4 letters per month and have cards to go along with those letters. 


Remember to use the cards for whatever skills are appropriate for your Tot! You could focus on names, sounds, blends or word families, writing, etc. The letters for this month are A, B, P, & S. For each letter, I've included two letters cards with the appropriate photos.


Just like last pack, I also made these plain letter pages for each of our focus letters. There are a lot of ideas for using these other than just coloring! Get creative! Hopefully I'll get a chance to share some of mine with you too. Last month, we used our dotter, which Beckett adored!

New this month are these spelling cards. The pack includes 6 total cards, with 3 and 4 letter words. We plan to use these with our letter beads. I'll make sure to share anything else we come up with!


Finally, this month I decided to add in some number cards! Last month we touched on counting a little, and Beckett did great! In my October materials pack, I included these cute leaf cards. 


If you head over and grab my Fall Cards Pack, you'll have the option of apples or pumpkins too! Or mix them all together!! 



While you're working on numbers, don't forget to grab my FREE counting mats!

What do YOU have planned for your October Tot School?! Do you have any fabulous activities that you'd love to share? I ADORE hearing from other teachers and mommies out there. If you've got a Tot School blog post you'd like to share, please link up!


9/21/2015

Fall Y'All: October Tot School

This week, I'm continuing my Fall Y'All adventure with my plans for Beckett's October Tot School! Of course, the theme will be "Fall Y'All!"


Fall is my favorite season so this will probably be my favorite unit! I've already got playdates and outings planned, have been stocking up on new books, and have a list of activities way too long to fit on this page!


Here are the list of activities I plan to do this month, with links to the inspiration! 


Some of the activities here are my own ideas, too! Stay tuned for our adventures with the following:
Number Card Activities
Vocabulary card matching
Name practice

You can grab my fall bucket list (freebie) here. All of the songs came from here


To see what's inspired my Fall Tot School Lesson, Check out my Fall Tot School Pinterest Board!


This week I'm hosing a Fall Y'All Linky!! If you're a blogger and have a fall themed post to link up, we'd love to have you! Remember to grab the button and link back here!




It's FALL YA'LL!

Welcome, welcome!!! I'm so excited to kick off my Fall Y'all Linky Party! This week is dedicated to all the goodness of FALL! I'll be bringing you some fabulous freebies, a fun fall sale, and a giveaway EVERY. DAY!! You're welcome. ;)


I could list a million bazillion reasons why I love fall, but I will not. Instead I will just present you with this loveliness.



This summer, Beckett and I had a Summer Bucket List. It was LONG and we didn't finish EVERYTHING on it, but we did a whole lot and it was a BLAST! I loved having the list hanging in my kitchen, reminding me to be intentional with creative activities for my kiddo.

But NOW. Now we get to go into Fall: The Holy Grail of Seasons. I'm in GO MODE, y'all! Fall soaps and scents are out, decorations are in the making, October's Fall Themed Tot School is planned [and going live TOMORROW!], and now we've got a week of Fall Y'all Goodness coming to the blog! To start this week off with my own little version of a Fabulous Fall Celebration, I bring to you this trifecta of goodies:

1. FREEBIE!
You can download the bucket list (above) for FREE, in my store. Just click here.
Along with the printable bucket list, you'll find this cute addition! Perfect for brainstorming with your preschooler or primary kiddos.



2. SALE!
I have LOTS of fall goodies in my store. I've been working to give all of my fall products a face lift so if you already owned a fall product, make sure you head on over and download the update! If it still looks like the old school version, stay tuned! The update is on the list! I've also added several NEW goodies this year. Every single fall product is ON SALE in my store for the rest of the week! Check each one out below by clicking on the picture.



3. GIVEAWAY!

I'm giving away ANY fall product from my store! WOO! :) Pick any item from the grid above, comment with that product in the Rafflecopter below, and I'll email you the product when the giveaway closes on SATURDAY!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Happy Fall Y'all!
Are you a blogger with some Fabulous Fall Goodness to share? Feel free to Link Up! Just grab the button and link back here! For more info on my Fall Y'all Linky, click here.


9/20/2015

Flash Mega Sale on My Growing Bundle!

I'm loving this growing bundle so much! I'm working on the next SURPRISE set, and wanted to give my Sunday planners a special treat before the next set hits and the price goes up! My growing bundle is priced at 50% off today!! Grab it TODAY ONLY for $12!! Grab it here.


This set is going to be huge and I’m so excited to be sharing it in my very first Growing Bundle set. ☺ By buying this as a bundle, you’ll save BIG on the entire set! AND BUY EARLY!! I may be adding some SURPRISE sets & the price will go up with each! ;)



Here’s what it includes:
- 12 months of Primary Informational Text Packs
- Random SURPRISE packs with more specific themes.
- 6 Informational Texts Per Pack
- 3 Comprehension Questions per Text
- 2 Formats (Multiple Choice & Fill in the Blank) of each set of questions, for no-prep differentiation. 



The sets included in this pack SO FAR are:

August: The US Flag, The Pledge, Summer, Bus Safety, Schools in the US, & Dogs 

Fire Safety SURPRISE PACK!: Firefighters, Dalmatians, Fire Trucks, Calling 9-1-1, Bunker Gear, & Fire Hydrants

September: Labor Day, Johnny Appleseed, Football, Apples, Rosh Hashanah, & The Constitution

October: Harvest, Fall, The World Series, Deciduous Trees, Christopher Columbus, & Leaves. 


9/15/2015

Tot School Q & A: Alphabet Order

This week I had a fabulous new Tot School Mommy ask me what order I teach the alphabet. I've had this question a couple of times before, so I decided to go ahead and share my personal experience. Let me just say that am in no way a "What Order to Teach the Alphabet" expert, but I do have thoughts! :)


So if you wanted to be all researchy (yes, a word) and technical, there ARE well-researched theories on the most effective way to teach the alphabet. I've seen several different orders used in Pre-K & Kindergarten classrooms. Guess what? They all worked. The kids learned their alphabet. If you're interested in checking out some more researched methods, here are a few sites I found that had a more science based method to their madness. (Just click)


My personal method was less based on science and more based on my kid! Beckett is 22 months and is not super well spoken yet. He still struggles with forming sounds and pronouncing MOST words. When we started learning the letters (around 17 months), he barely said anything, so my approach had to be one that worked for him!


We started by just playing with the alphabet a lot. I talked about all of the letters as we played. Then when I was ready to be intentional about him identifying & repeating the letters, I started with A. I had no rhyme or reason, other than it's at the beginning of the alphabet!

From there, we continued to play with all of our letters, but focused on the letter A, asking him to repeat it, identify it within the toys, etc. 

Once he "mastered" the letter A, I followed is lead on which letters to learn next. As we played and talked, he would attempt to repeat various letters. When he was able to say one fairly well, I focused on that letter next. 


Five months later, Beckett is able to identify all of his letters, and tries to pronounce all of them. One of the letters he still struggles to pronounce well is S (he says, "eh.")  For us, none of the "researched" methods would have worked, because S is the FIRST letter they recommend. 

So my recommendation on letter order for your Tot? Do what works for THEM. You may try one of the reserached methods, but tweak it to fit your needs! That is the glorious perk of being at home and one on one with your fave!

For more details on how we learned the alphabet, check out this post!:


9/14/2015

Using Exit Tickets to Meet Student Needs

At the end of a lesson, how do you know what your students have learned? Do you give an assignment for every lesson? Do you ask each student a question individually? Do you have group discussions? Do you ever bother to ask your students what THEY thought of a lesson? 

Once you've evaluated, what do you do with the information you've gathered? Do you just jot down a grade based on how well the students kept up? Do you modify the next lesson based on how far your students have come? Do you ask yourself if your approach is effective and consider making minor changes to the next days' plans? Hopefully your answer is "ABSOLUTELY!" But if it's not, don't be alarmed, you're not alone!

I think a lot of teachers get in a habit of making a plan (and an awesome one at that!), and plugging through those plans, hoping their kiddos get the concept by the end of the lesson or unit. But are we really meeting student needs?


Exit tickets are one simple way to evaluate an individual lesson. They are low-pressure for the student and allow them to give honest feedback on the classroom experience they just had. You can ensure that your students feel free to be honest by not requiring a name. This way, they can tell you candidly if they have no clue what just happened, if they thought the lesson was only worth 2 stars, etc.


Once you have this information, you can tweak your next lesson accordingly. Did 70% of your students totally miss the point? Did MOST of your students decide they were confident and ready to move on? Use the information to guide your planning. Review a particular point in the next lesson, change your approach, pull small groups for extra help, etc. 


Another great thing about exit tickets is they are quick and easy! They'll take a few minutes at the end of class. Your students can hand them to you or drop them in a basket as their ticket out the door. They are simple to fill out, but provide a plethora of information.


Here are some other tips for using Exit Tickets in the Classroom.


Exit tickets are super easy to make. You don't even need anything fancy! You can just jot a question on the board & let your students scribble their answers on a corner of notebook paper. VOILA!

Or you can grab my Exit Ticket Pack for only $1 in my store! This pack includes exit tickets with six different questions, plus a blank ticket to add your own questions! It also includes the How To pages you see above. 

Let me know what you think!

9/11/2015

Five For Friday: Sep 11


Happy Friday Everyone! Welcome to Five For Friday, where I get to share five random things from my week!


Today is 9/11. (You knew that). I know most people are as in awe as I am that it happened so long ago and the memories are so vivid. It also is crazy to me that my kids will only learn about it in text books the way that I learned about my grandfathers' historical events & wars. Crazy talk.


The memories of this and the photo here hit a little closer to home now that my baby brother is a fire fighter. I can't imagine knowing he was in one of those buildings. My heart physically hurts just thinking about it. Sending prayers to the families still affected. The youngest kiddos would be in high school now. 


I have LOVED working on my newest project: primary informational text packets. This week I just finished October's pack! Fall is my favorite, so it was really exciting to know that it's time to work on all things October & Fall!


If you own my growing bundle, it's been updated with this pack and is ready to re-download! If you DON'T own my growing bundle, here's a big ol hint! There maaaay be a surprise pack added this month! When it hits, the price will go up, so grab it now!



It's time for fall everything. Including my #FallYall Linky, coming up in a couple weeks. Mark your calendars and link up! I'm so excited!



I've been reading Jen Hatmaker's new book, For the Love
It's. SO. Flippin. GOOD.
Go grab it now. Now. Right now.




This little girl is almost 3 weeks old now. GAH! How did that happen? She's sleeping decently enough, eats like there's three of her, and has the sassiest, most entertaining, laugh out loud facial expressions.


Nana & Papa are taking big bro to his great grandparents' house for the weekend so it's just the girls! I'm excited to snuggle this one, and get in some MUCH NEEDED time to regroup!

And that's five!! Happy weekend, all!