Sunday, March 29, 2015

Spring Giveaway and Fraction FREEBIES!

UPDATE! Congratulations to the winners of the Spring in Our Step Giveaway!

$100 Amazon Gift Certificate- Cassie M.
$75 TPT Gift Certificate- Kylie A.
$50 TPT Gift Certificate- Amy D.

Thank you to all who entered for following along with us!

Spring has sprung and it is time to celebrate! Although I must admit that I don't literally have spring in my step right now due to a back injury {ouch}, I am jumping for joy on the inside over a personal goal I met this week on TPT!

Drum roll please. . .500 TPT followers! :-) Hooray! The numbers have been climbing slow but steady, and I finally made it halfway to a thousand TPT followers! Yay! I am so thankful and appreciative of every person who liked my work enough to click on that little green star.

I am very excited to announce that I have linked up with some bloggy friends to offer my readers an opportunity to win one of three terrific prizes: a $100 Amazon gift certificate, a $75 TPT gift certificate, or a $50 TPT gift certificate! Enter for your chance to win at the bottom of this post!

Also, in celebration, I have added a new FREEBIE to my store! Spring on over to get yourself a free copy of this print and go fraction game!

Plus, since spring is the time for fractions, here is another fraction FREEBIE from my store that you might find useful. It works great in an interactive notebook or as a stand alone.

Now, go ahead and enter the giveaway for your chance to win three great prizes! Then, scroll down to read about some other spring celebrations and stories. The giveaway ends on Thursday, April 2nd. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Finger Weaving

Looking for a way to keep little minds and fingers busy? Finger weaving is a skill that lasts a lifetime. You learn it once and never forget it. . . kind of like riding a bike! I learned how to finger weave as a child and haven't stopped teaching others how to do it ever since. I like to pull this activity out of my bag of tricks in the early spring when we have a lot of rainy indoor recesses and my students are craving something new and interesting. It is such a simple and fun craft that only requires fingers and yarn! My eight year old daughter helped me out with the pictures for this tutorial. She has been finger weaving since she was six.

Step 1: Turn your non-dominant hand so that your palm is face up. Insert the end of the yarn so that about four inches hangs between your thumb and index finger.

Step 2: Take hold of the yarn in the back of your hand. Pull it behind your index finger, then in front of your middle finger, behind your ring finger, and finally in front of your pinky.

Step 3: Pull the string around your pinky and then weave back in the opposite direction. This time you will pull across the front of your ring finger, behind your middle finger, and finally in front of your index finger.

Step 4: Let the end of the yarn hang behind your hand between your thumb and index finger. Now you have set up your weaving "loom". You will only need to do this step once at the very beginning.

Step 5: Pull the string across the back of your hand and then back across the front of your hand. Keep it fairly loose. It should look like one straight line across the top of all the small loops.

Step 6: Now you will pull each small loop over the straight line of yarn and drop it behind your finger. You will need to bend down your finger to get it over. Keep the yarn loose.

Step 7: Continue to pull each small loop over the straight line of yarn, working your way across to your index finger.

Step 8: Once you get all the way across, you will be ready to repeat the process. At this point, you can also release that four inch piece of yarn from the beginning.

Step 9: Pull the yarn across the back of your hand again and then back across the front in a straight line above the small loops. Repeat the process by pulling each small loop over the straight line and dropping it behind your finger like in pictures #6 and #7.

Step 10: This is what the back of your hand will look like. It appears to be a mess at first and you will probably feel like you did something wrong. Just keep weaving. :-)

Step 11: After you have repeated the process about ten times, you will be ready for the reward. Gently grab all the yarn in the back of your hand and pull!

Step 12: You can end your finger weaving at any point. Just slip it off your fingers and tie a knot. Then cut the yarn. If you pull the string at the other end, it will pull itself into a knot. My daughter wove this length in about three minutes.

One of the best parts about finger weaving is that children get to see quick results. My third grade students can easily finger weave five feet in about fifteen minutes! Thankfully, yarn is fairly inexpensive these days. :-) I hope you will enjoy finger weaving with your students! Maybe it will become a new tradition in your classroom like it has in mine. Your students will surely remember it for years to come.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


Here is a nifty little one dollar tool that has come in so handy in my classroom this year. These two-sided Tolsby frames from IKEA make terrific stands for displaying signs around the room. 

A colleague of mine (thanks Mike!) found these gems in a variety of colors at our local IKEA store, and he was nice enough to share the idea and pick me up a few!

I love how they stand on their own with a steady base. I also love how easy it is to change out the signs by slipping a piece of paper in between the plastic sleeves through the slot at the top.  
The back of each frame is exactly the same as the front, so you can display a different sign on each side if needed. They look so bright and cheery in my classroom!
So, here is a toast to nice colleagues who share and simple things that make life easier. I am so lucky to have both of the above. Happy framing y'all!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Little Green Men

'Tis the season for leprechauns in Room 222. I'm fairly certain that these little green fellas are not in the Common Core, but they have been around much longer and I will keep it that way despite the looming state test. Leprechaun traps have been a third grade tradition in my school for decades. A few years ago, St. Patrick's Day fell on the very first day of the PSSA. A colleague suggested that we get rid of the tradition, but I decided not to let a test ruin my plans. Ever.

Do you know this book? It is one of my favorites. I always kick off March with this story to get the kids thinking about leprechauns. It has a simple, yet clever plot that always makes my students yearn for more. This book also has rich vocabulary, so it lends itself nicely to a lesson in using context clues to build meaning. Some of the words that we investigated today include: ramble, piggin, brogue, hoodwinked, boliauns, and spade.

After building the excitement, I asked my students to share some of their own thoughts about leprechauns. They eagerly cut and assembled a leprechaun flip book that we will work on throughout the next week.

Today, I had them draw and color a portrait of a leprechaun on the first page. ;-) Boy, do I love that artwork.

Most of the kids agreed that leprechauns are small and that they have orange hair. Some think that they have pointy features like noses, ears, and elbows. Green seemed to be the color of choice for clothing, but we had quite an assortment of hats and hair styles. We even had some girl leprechauns!

Some of the kids peeked ahead to see that we will be writing about leprechaun jobs and houses tomorrow. I already heard discussions about caves, mushrooms, rainbows, and tree houses. I am planning to use the leprechaun flip book for morning work. Other pages include thoughts on leprechaun mischief, conversations with leprechauns, and of course a plan for a leprechaun trap! :-)

Will the leprechauns be coming to your classroom this year? If you would like a copy of my Leprechaun Flip Book, you can find it here

When my former students return as teenagers (and now even adults), I always ask them what they remember about my class. Without fail, leprechauns always come up in those conversations. That is why I choose to keep the tradition alive behind closed doors. ;-) 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

March Pick 3 Pinterest Linky

March has become one of my favorite months. Despite the unpredictable weather, I love when daylight saving time kicks in and the days get longer. Not to mention that my favorite person in the world was born on St. Patrick's Day (AKA- hubby).

I'm happy to link up with PAWSitively Teaching and Inspired Owl's Corner today for the Pick 3 Pinterest Party!

Here are my favorites for the month of March.

Isn't that beautiful? Tulips are my favorite flower, but check out those vases! I have some old mason jars sitting in the garage that are just calling my name right now. A little bit of puffy paint and some spray paint will do the trick. This might be a fun project for our next March snow day. ;-) Click on the picture for directions.

These bookmarks might just find their way into the hands of my third graders this month. I especially love the rainbow ribbon. Look out local paint supply stores. Thrifty teacher on the loose!

This little craft looks simple enough for early finishers. A basket full of pipe cleaners and some picture directions for students to read and follow will be on my classroom counter very soon. It will be a fun surprise for my kiddos. As an added bonus, this fine motor activity will strengthen those muscles for cursive writing!

If you are looking for some more March inspiration, head on over to the link up and find out what others have picked for the month of March!

Monday, March 2, 2015

My Teacher Hero: Nadine Heim

The big TPT sale is over, but we are still thinking about teacher heroes in the blog world. I'm linking up with Jenny at Luckyfrog's Lilypad today in honor of MY teacher hero, Ms. Nadine Heim.

I had many wonderful teachers in my lifetime, but I must say that one of my college professors from the University of Delaware inspired me in the most profound way. Professor Heim was a teacher of teachers and she will not soon be forgotten. I can still hear her voice. It echoes in my own teaching.

Professor Heim insisted that her students call her by her first name, Nadine. She was a toddler teacher in The Laboratory Preschool at the U of D, and also taught undergraduate courses in early childhood development to us college kids. I had the pleasure of taking a few of her classes.

My best memory of Nadine is during our very first meeting when she had all of us aspiring teachers stand on our chairs and scream out words of affirmation. "I am an excellent teacher! I make a difference," and words of the sort. I remember feeling so awkward doing that, but it is a moment that has carried with me for all these years.

Nadine had a genuine love of children and teaching and it was contagious. She was a woman who walked what she talked. For many assignments, I was required to watch her teach toddlers through the laboratory preschool windows. To this day, I don't think I have ever met a teacher with as much patience and passion as Nadine. I remember thinking that I wanted to be just like her some day.

In Nadine's class, I learned many practical aspects about teaching. We did a whole lot more than just read from a textbook. We made toys, role played, prepared lessons, and practiced teaching in her preschool class. She gave the most constructive feedback, and always did it in such a kind way.

Nadine was my teacher 20 years ago, back in 1995. I doubt that she is still teaching today. I just searched the Internet for her, but did not have much luck. If I could talk to her, I would thank her for inspiring me to be the teacher I am today. :-)

Now, I hope that you will hop on over to Luckyfrog's Lilypad to read more stories about teacher heroes. Who knows, maybe you will be the featured teacher in one of those stories!