Two Weeks and Counting

It's Sunday night.  You have two weeks left.  How will you ever make it?

Wow.  It's like I just read your mind, right?

Here's a little Christmas blog flashback for you--a few of the ways I know to just make it until the Christmas holidays.

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I have a give a little, get a little philosophy at this time of year.  Meaning, I'll slow down the pace some academically if you can mostly keep it under control.  One of the things I switch up are our stations.  We do one a day for the last 15-20 minutes of class.  Sort of a Weekly 5 thing instead of the Daily 5.

Independent Reading & Buddy Reading

I put out a big ole basket of holiday books for these.  Love their squeals of delight!

Word Work

Finding smaller words in holiday words for the first week, and building words from scrambled holiday words the second week.  You can download the activities here.  Both activities are two sided.


Normally, we use whole class journals for this, but we set them aside for these last two weeks.  The first week, we do a holiday traditions writing.  The second week, we write about a gift.  You can download the activities here.


Shannon over at Technology Rocks. Seriously. has a seriously rocking post with a million holiday games together on one Google Doc.  You can read the post here.

We also do my most favorite writing activity of the year during this time.   I read the class the book How Santa Got His Job.

Then, we brainstorm together what a Santa help wanted ad would need to include-the requirements, the duties, and the benefits.  After we brainstorm as a class, they brainstorm on their own for an elf help wanted ad.

The next day, they write their ad.  Although this is a really fun activity, it's also a great chance to talk about commas in a series and varying sentence beginnings.

On the third day, they create their final copies.

Five on the Fifth

Hold the presses! I’ve already posted twice this week.  That’s because it’s time for . . .
I’m mixing it up a little bit by bringing a little Instagram style to Five on the Fifth.  I was an Instagram hold out for quite a while.  I guess it seemed like a redundant Facebook, but I was oh so wrong.  Imagine getting little peaks into other teachers’ days.  I hope this post convinces you to take the Instagram leap if you haven’t done it yet!  

Five on the Fifth even has its very own Pinterest board.  You can follow it here.

First off, an Instagram find from Joy in the Journey.  You can find her here on Instagram.  What a fun way to get kids excited!

I pray you never have to teach the distributive property for multiplication.  However, if you must, More Time 2 Teach shared a fabulous idea called Distributive Doctor.

Collaboration Cuties has one of the most helpful linkies around.  The Mentor Text linkies create a collection of lessons that begin the way all good things in elementary school should--with a book.  Missed out on these?  Don’t worry.  The have a Mentor Text Page.  You can find all of their linkies in one convenient location.  Lucky you.  

Swoon, swoon, and double swoon.  I am in LOVE with Ladybug’s Teacher Files’ Grammar Morphology posters.  You math teachers feeling left out?  Don’t worry.  She has some for you, too.

Technology Rocks. Seriously. was the first teaching blog I ever found.  I didn’t even know there were such things.  Just though she was a cool lady to have her own website.  Flash forward a couple of years and she’s still super cool.  One of the cool lady things she does is create Google sites with collections of themed games.  You’ve got two and a half weeks to go people.  Let these sites help you make it.

Do You Turtlehead?

I've been working with several fourth grade groups for math, and we recently hit 2 digit multiplication. I asked my sweet friend Diane from Teaching with Moxie for some tips, and she showed me Turtlehead. Say what?  Maybe you’ve seen it before, but I’ve lived in language arts land for the past 4 years and hadn’t seen it.
First you draw your turtlehead.  This is to help them focus on the first round of multiplying.

After you complete the first round of multiplying, your turtle lays an egg and you give it a collar.  This is to help them to now NOT focus on the first number they were using to multiply.
**If you have to regroup, once you add the number in, you can turn it into eyelashes, so you don't accidentally add it again.  The eyelashes part was for fun.  My boys did not participate in that step.  ; )

Then finish up your multiplication problem.

I just want to know where turtlehead was when I was in 4th grade????

p.s. How cute is that little turtle? It's from My Cute Graphics.

November Favorites

December is almost here! Yikes!  I’ve got a quick post for you tonight with some of my favorites from November.

So this guy joined us this month.
Our poor old lady dog, Judy, went to the dog park in the sky some time ago.  I was not convinced we needed another dog as the one we still had is 60 pounds of love.  My husband insisted Ruby needed a buddy, and he was right big time.  While there is a little difference in size (understatement of the year), they are best buds and the perfect match.  We our loving our little Murray.

I love a good pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks, but my waistline does not.  My mom introduced me to this, and it is awesome.  I'm already panicking because it's a seasonal item.  Wonk wonk wonk.

This coat.  Awesome.
I wanted something warm but still cute.  This fit the bill perfectly, and at 40% off, the price was right.

No, I did not just discover Mr. Clean.  I did discover a new use for it that has rocked my world.  See that big black dog above?  She sheds like crazy all over my couch.  I used to take the cordless vacuum to the couch and call it good.  We got a new couch, and for some reason, her fur sticks to it like velcro.  We were using those roller things, but it would take 5 or 6 every time to clean the fur.  Gross.  A damp Magic Eraser wipes that fur right up.  It’s the little things like a defurred couch that make me happy.

This snuggly sweater scarf from Eddie Bauer is my new favorite.  We’ve had some unusually cold days for Texas in November.  This scarf was more than I like to spend on a scarf, but it matched 4 of my puffy vests, so I new it would be put to good use.  I was right.  I’ve already used it a bunch.

Hope you had a wonderful November!

Home Mom Failure

So, I'm kind of failing at the stay at home mom thing right now.  I quit teaching full time this year.  The plan was I'd sub a couple of days, work on blog designs, run after everyone, and maybe do a load or two of laundry.

I was offered one of the tutoring position at my school but said no.  It's actually an awesome job.  Four days a week from the beginning of October to the end of April, 3-5 kids at a time, no meetings, conferences, etc.  Not teacher pay, long term sub pay, but it's still a great job.

They haven't filled the position yet.  Seems strange, but it's hard to find someone willing to work permanently for sub pay that you're willing to turn your weakest babies over to.  So, I took it the job for two weeks until they found someone.  Until.

Fast forward, the two weeks were up, no one had taken the job yet, so I agreed to continue 3 days a week until they found someone.  And I'm loving every minute.

The "dark side" of tutoring is that you get a tiny planning period.  30 minutes a day is not a lot for Kindergarten, 2nd grade reading, 3rd grade reading, 3rd grade math, 4th grade reading, and 4th grade math.

That's why I love having this resource so much.  I first found it when I taught fourth grade.  I use it with my ARI groups.  It's hard to find something that struggling readers are excited to read.  (Can I get an Amen?)  But they love these and continue talking about them long after we're done.Which makes this worth it's weight in gold.

Presenting . . . .

Each box is $20, which is steep, but you're getting four weeks worth of lessons.  Each box contains 4 articles, with 6 copies each.  The folders the articles are in are for the teacher.  There are vocabulary words with definitions and parts of speech, prereading questions, questions for during reading, more questions for after reading, and a graphic organizer.  I supplement with some STAAR type questions are we are golden.

Here are some more pictures from Lakeshore's website:

Buried treasure, a blind guy climbing all seven summits (for real, awesome!), poisonous snakes, they will be interested.  I love this resource and feel so lucky to have it read to go each week.

Do you have any small group go to resources you love?  I'd love to find more!

October Favorites

October’s almost over!  Here are some of my favorites from this month.

How cute is the button?  It’s from a kit by Valerie Wibbens.

1.  Can’t make these often enough.  So so so yummy.  Stick them the batter in a mini muffin pan and you’ve got deliciousness in under 20 minutes.
2.  I'm reloving Loft.  I went in the other day because they were having a 50% off sale.  I noticed they had a basket of Loft Loves Teachers cards.  Their teacher discount of 15% always aggravated me because it was off full price items.  No thanks, people, I'll just wait for a sale.  But this time, they gave me the discount on top of the sale.  And it was awesome.  One of my favorite items was this floaty blouse.  I wore it with a gray cardigan, black pants, and my copper snakeskin Tieks.   Sassy!
That's a real life picture of me.
Okay.  That's not true.

3.  Loving these sweet girls.  This snuggle time never happens because the one on the right is a cranky old lady.  Bless her heart.

4.  Encouraging Wednesdays
Wow.  Wow wow wow wow wow.  Encouraging Wednesdays is a series brought to you by Jenny from French Press Morning.  Her work is so beautiful.  I want to crawl in her brain and have those ideas in my head, too.  That's not creepy, right?

Look how gorgeous:

She offers 4x6s as free downloads on her blog.  Want something bigger? Visit her store.  I haven't bought anything yet because choosing not the entire store is proving to be a little difficult.

And Then One Day I Taught Kindergarten . . .

I can’t even believe I’m writing this, but today I’m sharing some kindergarten resources I used recently.

For real.

I’m subbing this year and was asked to be a tutor at my school.  I said no because I didn’t want to commit to 4 days a week.  That kind of defeats the purpose of quitting your job to be more supportive of your family.  They hadn’t found someone yet, so I agreed to do it for two weeks.

That was on a Friday afternoon.  I started on Monday.  No biggie, I’ve taught 2nd/3rd/4th before.  Cruised through my attic and found enough stuff to make it for two weeks.

Favorite reading apps for kindergarten
Around 7:45 on Monday morning, I learned that one of my groups had been switched for a Kindergarten group.  I had zero point zero minutes to make an alphabet chart and site word cards, so I turned to my best friend-my iPad.  There are some seriously great beginning reader apps out there.  The upper elementary teacher in me is very jealous.

I’m sharing these resources in the same way that I share everything.  It’s just a hey, here’s what I found, not a statement of expertise.  I am the last person in the world that will claim to know anything about kindergarten.  I’m still surprised every time I type the word that there isn’t a d in it.  Anyway, here are some of the apps I found:

ABC Magic

Site Words


Sound Beginnings

I’ve also pulled some Joy Cowley books.  As wonderful as apps are, readers need to read books.  However, I’m loving these apps because they’re good and the kids are so engaged while we’re using them.  Also, there is one little boy who doesn’t make a peep outside of reading the book or saying a letter/sight word, but that sweet little face lights up when the Lakeshore app chimes and tells him “Great job!”