Sunday, November 29, 2015

TPT Cyber Sale! Click. Save. Smile.


It's time to fill up your shopping cart! The Teachers Pay Teachers Cyber Sale is this Monday and Tuesday! Use the promo code "SMILE" to receive up to 28% off throughout the site. My entire store will be on sale at the full discount, so this is a great time to stock up on lapbooks and interactive kits. Happy shopping!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Unexpected Dinner Guest

"Nearly all the best things that came to me in life have been unexpected, unplanned by me." ~ Carl Sandburg

On Thanksgiving morning, my table was set beautifully for 18 guests.

Then the phone rang. 

My little sister called to tell me that she would be bringing a guest to dinner this year. This would not be just an ordinary guest. This special guest would be one of my former students!

Those who know me well can now laugh at the thought of me running around the house frantically trying to prepare for an extra place setting and make everything perfect.

Let's just say that on a scale of 1 to 10, I am a 10 20 in terms of anxiety when company is coming. According to my husband, this is what I act like in the hours before a party. I completely disagree. This is not at all what I act like.

Click video for a good laugh

Okay. I admit it. I have a problem. I do *kind of* look like that, even when my guests are not former students.

Once everything was in place and my blood pressure had returned to normal, I was able to appreciate the beauty of this unexpected circumstance. 

Let me tell you about Colby. Colby was a second grade student in my very first class, back in the 1997/1998 school year. I found this picture in a box this morning. It shows his smiling face exactly as I remember it when he was seven years old. We were putting on a Jack and the Beanstalk play. There I am standing behind the beanstalk. I was 21 years old and fresh out of college.


I remember Colby like it was yesterday. I can still remember the big, round curves of his second grade printing. I bet I could still identify his handwriting in a line up.

Colby was full of spirit. He loved to tell stories and make us laugh. He was curious and impulsive. Lucky for him, he had those big, brown puppy dog eyes that saved him every time.

He was the kind of kid that all the teachers knew. He was that cute little kid that made everyone smile just walking down the hall. You know the kind of kid I'm talking about.


And here is Colby today at the age of 26! That is my sister in the picture with him.


How strange but wonderful it is to reunite with a student after 18 years. The young child I once knew so well was now suddenly standing at my front door as an adult! We greeted each other with a hug and I just had to stand back and stare at him for a few minutes in disbelief. How did the years pass by so quickly? His eyes were exactly the same, but the beard and tattoos took a few extra minutes to absorb. 

Adult Colby was just as cute and sweet as I remember him from my first year of teaching. We reminisced a bit about his second grade bowl haircuts and penny loafers. He told me that he remembered (and still has) the books he published with me in second grade. We celebrated Thanksgiving with a delicious meal and played a dice game together. He still has that same laugh and smile.

What an unexpected blessing I received this Thanksgiving. You just never know what surprise awaits you around the next corner. It could be the 19th guest at your dinner party. If you had the opportunity to reunite with a former student, which one would it be? Has this ever happened to you?

Friday, November 20, 2015

Noodles and Turkeys

Hello Friends! How many of you are planning a Thanksgiving feast at your own house on top of Thanksgiving festivities in your classroom? It is definitely a lot to juggle. I'm actually hoping that some small miracles will happen this weekend in terms of house cleaning and material preparations. :-) Maybe the dust bunnies will hop away and the turkey will brine itself. You just never know.


One special craft that I like to make with my students at this time of year involves colored noodles. Do you know the trick for dyeing noodles with such vibrant colors? The magic ingredient is rubbing alcohol! Just pour your noodles in a large freezer bag, sprinkle in some rubbing alcohol, and add some drops of your favorite food coloring. Shake it up until everything is coated evenly. Then pour the noodles into a single layer on some newspaper to dry. In just a few hours, your noodles will look amazing! I never measure the rubbing alcohol. I just sprinkle some in the bag until the noodles are damp and it works beautifully every time.


Now for that craft I had mentioned. A few years ago, I was inspired by these handprint turkey banners from the Yesterday on Tuesday blog.  I loved the idea of using burlap to bring a unique texture to a traditional project. Burlap is fairly inexpensive to buy. I paid $2.99 per yard at my local fabric store.  It only took about one yard to cut the 24 pieces that I needed for this project.

To make the handprints, I had a helper paint the hand of each student and carefully make a print on the burlap. The kids smiled and giggled at the sensation of wet paint on the palm of their hand.

Some years I have used paper bags from the grocery store for the backing, but this year I just used some brown craft paper I already had available at school. I put some clear packing tape at the top of each banner to reinforce the holes for hanging. A hot glue gun worked great to attach the burlap to the brown craft paper.


Next, we practiced some cursive writing for the "Happy Thanksgiving" piece and glued it to the top of the banner. The kids used permanent Sharpie markers to add eyes, beaks, and legs to their turkeys. Of course, they also added a red gobbler. Then they used regular Crayola markers to make colorful patterns around the edges.


I suspect that parents will look back and smile at those precious handprints one day.


Finally, it was time to use those colorful noodles! Each student strung the noodles on a pipe cleaner. We attached the pipe cleaners to the holes at the top of the banner for easy hanging. Then, we finished it off with some raffia on the handle for a nice, natural look.


And there you have it! That's one special Thanksgiving craft to cross off the school list. Now I am off to write a grocery list and make eighteen special name tags (with my real kids) for our home Thanksgiving table. I hope you have a wonderful, restful holiday! Be sure to kick your feet up and relax a bit once the work is done.

Here is another one of my favorite Thanksgiving activities! I teach my students about the history of the first Thanksgiving using this bag book. If you are looking for something more historical, this is the project for you!


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Thanksgiving Bag Book Tutorial, Plus an Awesome Giveaway!

Hello Everyone! Sorry for my absence. You know how some school years are just more draining than others? For many reasons, this is one of those kind of years for me. I wanted to pop in briefly tonight to let you know that I am still alive and kicking. I'm actually kicking very hard to keep my head above water if you know what I mean :-)

We are gearing up for Thanksgiving in my classroom. The baby food jars are arriving daily for our annual butter making activity. The burlap turkey banners are in progress. Parent conferences are in the air.

I teach my third graders about the history of the first Thanksgiving using a bag book. It is jam-packed with historical information that is appropriate for upper elementary students.


I recently made a video tutorial about how to make a bag book. The video walks through all of the parts to my Thanksgiving bag book in case you are interested. If you are new to bag books, this tutorial will help you get started. You can really take any of your own favorite units and present the information in this format. Kids love them!

Click on image for link to bag book tutorial

Also, I wanted to tell you that my friend Melissa Dailey is hosting an awesome birthday giveaway. Melissa always finds the very best things to give away on her blog, Mrs. Dailey's Classroom (soon to be The Husky Loving Teacher).

I mean, come on. Everyone needs a pair of these Hunter boots! At the hefty price of $150, it sure would be nice to win them for free!



Happy Birthday to Melissa and special thanks to all of the sponsors of this giveaway!



Now, here is your chance to enter! You have until Monday 11/16 to submit all of your entries. Good luck! I hope to find you sloshing around in mud puddles very soon!

a Rafflecopter giveaway