Saturday, October 22, 2016

Hoods, Hacks, Hoots, a Sequel and More

Okay, so Happy Friday again! This is another post, the real post, for this Friday. You know with me it either NEVER rains, or it POURS when it comes to blog posts. Oh, to be one of those bloggers whose life never interferes with their posting schedule. Thanks to Kacey at Doodle Bugs for Five for Friday. Here's five.

1.  I have often said that I should have been born an octopus. Between needing to rein in hold little children and carry seventy two LOTS of things to school everyday, I could always use more arms. Here's me coming to school the other day.  Can you relate?

2.  The day I was schlepping all that stuff was my teaching assistant's last day. She was only there to help launch the school year.... waaawwwww! I wish it could be all year. The kids and I made her some special little momentoes– the kids made cards and I put together a piece of special artwork... I use the term artwork loosely. I wanted the kids to be featured. I share it to give you some ideas for your own goodbye gifts.

Yes, it took a while to cut out all those little heads, but I think it turned out pretty cute, and she loved it. It will hang in her home office. We miss you, Chris!

3.  Did you see my earlier post about my Paint Drying Rack Hack? You can see and read about how it works if you click the picture.

4.  Okay, now this is the REAL purpose of today's post– a new favorite book review! Amanda Noll and Howard McWilliam teamed up again to create Hey, That's MY Monster!

Hey, That's MY Monster is a companion to I Need My Monster and furthers the adventures of Ethan and his monster, Gabe. This time Ethan's little sister Emma joins in the fun.

What is going to happen when Gabe has to make somebody else go to bed? Everyone needs their own scary monster to help them go to sleep, but why does it have to be Gabe??

Great illustrations accompany this monster tale, from cover to cover... I mean LOOK at this fresh crop of end paper monsters... monster drawing lesson, anyone?

And look at the adorable little sister...

There's just the right amount of shiver to hook five year olds right in. We read it fifty seven many times, with "Again!" following every reading. I am always interested when books strike just the right note with the Littles and this one does. Going to bed in the dark, with monsters or without, is a fear that is pretty much universal, and this story helped the kiddos deal with that fear in a lighthearted way.

You can read two posts on the first book, I Need My Monster here and here. The posts contain a freebie to use with the kids and a link to a neat video.

Some classrooms do monsters only at Halloween, but in my classroom, monsters are regular characters in our daily drama. Our favorite monster puppet Ten-Ten Twenty helps us do math (click to read previous post) The rest of the monster gang provide good sports when we need to act things out– little monsters CAN be naughty, you know, SORT OF like five year olds.

I highly recommend both I Need My Monster and the new Hey, That's MY Monster. I thank Flashlight Press for sending me the review copy. I can honestly say it is adored by my monster loving kidpeople AND their monster loving teacher, too!!  You can check out both books at your favorite bookstore and Amazon. You can see a complete list of Flashlight Books by clicking below. They are a consistently high quality publisher and every teacher should know about them.

5.  Last but not least, it's time for

So my kindergarten colleague and I were sitting on the teacher bench at recess when one of her kiddos came up and gave her a truly beautiful, red maple leaf. She thanked her little person and said,

"We've been learning about all sorts of leaves in our classroom, haven't we? Can you tell me what kind of leaf this one is?"

Her kiddo was thoughtful for a moment then said, "Dead."

A quick, gleeful glance exchanged between us two adults said it all, "The kids are the best part of this job!"

Click on back to Doodle Bugs for more teacher news.

And if you hoped over from Small Victories, take a leap on back to continue reading this week's favorite posts!

Small Victories Sunday Linkup

Hope you got a grin or two this time. Have a TERRIFIC fall weekend! Oh, and do check out my new wink below... that husband of mine...


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Paint Drying Rack Hack!

Happy Friday! Here's five details for a Paint Drying Rack Hack! Thanks to Kacey at Doodle Bugs Teaching's Five for Friday for giving me opportunity to share!

My kidpeople LOVE painting and we do paintings of all sorts. There is one little glitch to painting joy, though– where to dry all those works of art? Drying racks are big and expensive. Even foldable clothes drying racks take up a lotta space and get in the way. So, look what I did...

That is an undershelf hanging basket, the kind that just slides on to a shelf and is sold in shelving or storage departments... pretty much like this one. And it's only about eight bucks on Amazon.

Click it to see it. 

In the photo it is is full of wet paintings hung with clothes pins from the basket grid. I can put my arm into the basket area to easily pin the artwork on.


Tip! I learned the hard way to number the clothespins so it is easier to find the two pins that will hold one piece of paper– Number One pin on the left aligns with Number One pin on right, Two with Two, etc. Without the numbers, I wasn't clipping corresponding clothespins and was losing hanging capacity with skipped pins.

I keep my "drying rack" hanging from the cabinet above my sink. This is particularly handy because any paint drips go right into the sink.... paint drips? Did I say paint drips? Naw, there aren't ever any paint drips... If we use bigger paper, I attach the clothespins on the short side of the paper, as opposed to the long top side shown in the photo. This particular basket has enough grid wires to allow for eight paintings to hang at once. If the paper is not completely soggy too big, another painting can lay down in the basket itself. That is usually about as many paintings as we can produce in a day.

Idea! On this particular day my kiddos were doing science art and I only gave them primary colors of red, blue, and yellow on their pallets. Their assignment was to mix the paints to make the secondary colors of purple, green, and orange... SOME got it, though we had quite a few mucky browns, too... practice will make them color experts..

The cabinet door has to stay open slightly to allow for the basket brackets to slide onto the shelf– as you see it is barely noticeable.

When empty the rack is pretty unobtrusive, so I leave it out all the time. With space at a premium in my new classroom, necessity really WAS the mother of invention for this hack! I give it a double thumbs up! Whoot! Maybe it will work in your classroom, too!

Click on back to Five for Friday for more tips!

So glad you stopped by! Sorry I've been awol for a while– change of classroom and new program really beat my bum this season! See you next week, I hope!

p.s.  Whatcha' think of the new winking Kath? Hee.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Start of School FREEBIES You Want

I don't know about you but I love cute and useful Freebies! Since today is Show and Tell Tuesday I'm going to show and tell you about three Start of School items that I made and that you might very well want, too, especially as they're FREE! Thanks to Stephanie at Forever in 5th Grade for the linky party!

1.  I posted about this one a few weeks back, as it is new this year.

This is a present for teachers to give their incoming students BEFORE school starts. You include it in a mailed home packet or give it out at Meet the Teacher Night, which most schools have now.

The freebie comes six to a page, in color or B&W, which you print and cut apart.

Then you add a glow in the dark star, easily found at most toy stores. A packet of stars is usually less than five dollars and that gives you enough for a whole class, and probably enough for next year's class, too. Put the star on the card with a little poster putty, which the kids use to put their star up in their room.

 I include a sample letter in the freebie that tells kids and parents what to do.  I'm going to put the card, star, and instruction letter into an envelope like this, and let the anticipation build.

After kids put their star up, they and their parents read the poem and make the wish, hopefully dispelling any nervous jitters in a fun, happy way. And by just changing the word "first" to "school" the wish and star can be used every night for the school year. Easy, peasy, and FUN! Click on the image below to grab it for free on TPT!

2.  My second show and tell is one for the first AND last week in class and is a fun way to see how much kids grow in the school year. It makes for a great end-of-year gift to parents that is sure to go in the "keeper box" at home.

Print this Freebie out on cardstock. It includes two poems– one about the string you use to measure the student's height at the beginning of the year, and one for the string that you use to measure at the end of the year.

The Freebie packet includes easy directions so just one teacher can measure each student. The poem comes in three versions– preschool, kindergarten, and first grade. In the coming weeks there will also be a Young 5s and Transitional Kindergarten versions- follow me to see notice of that TPT packet update. Click on the image below to grab it for free on TPT.

3.  And last, but not least, I share the ULTIMATE parent info card. (I didn't name it that... honest... my district kindergarten colleagues did when I shared it!) I include this in the packet that goes home before school starts (along with the Wishing Star) and ask parents to return it to me on or before the fist day of school.

This card asks for all the usual information and MORE– sibling names, who can and can't pick up kids from school (if parents put a "can't" that prompts me to ask about custody papers), expectations for the school year, preschool experience, and anything "unique" to their child or family– eating guidelines (vegetarian, kosher), two household living schedules, toileting issues, fears... info that teachers want and need, but that sometimes doesn't come to us for weeks into the school year.

It all fits on one half piece of paper, front and back. I copy them on bright green cardstock and carry them in my school bag... they have proven invaluable to me over the years. To make things easy, it is COMPLETELY editable in the basic font of Chalkboard, so you can tweak it as you like. Click on the image below to download this freebie.

ULTIMATE Parent Info Card Freebie from Kidpeople Classroom

If you would like more Start of School Tips click on the image in the right sidebar of my blog. You'll find out about Work and Mingle Night, the First Minutes and Day of School, and more.  (That photo is of my two daughters on their first day at our new school alooooong time ago... the years fly when you're having fun. They were carrying flowers to me, their teacher-mama.)

If any of these freebies are valuable to you I'd love to hear below, and I'd love for you to PIN! Click on back to Forever in 5th Grade to see more Show and Tells!

Have a great day, whether at school or prepping for back to school. Thanks for stopping by and see you next time!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Randomness, Recipes, and Real Bloggers

Truly Random. That is what you could call today's post. Might bring a chuckle or two, though. Thanks, Kasey, at Doodle Bugs Teaching for the ever popular Five for Friday link-up.

1.  First of all, does anybody else find this "new" typewriter ironic??

It is a regular, old-fashioned, gotta hit each key like you mean it, non-electric typewriter. The blurb says it will help you do "retro style" invites, and lend a "vintage air" to your office. Crack. Me. Up. When I saw the ad and saw they were two hundred dollars– good grief– I laughed and laughed. What goes around, comes around... although I don't remember any of the originals available in pink!

2.  And in the same vein, do you remember these?

Yep, that's a ViewMaster. It is still for sale, or maybe I should say, back for sale, and apparently all the rage. It costs TWENTY bucks and only comes with three disks. I have FIVE original equipment ViewMasters in a special collector box in my classroom with about 50 disks. Maybe I should put them on ebay and make back some of the money this classroom move has cost me, eh? No, the kiddos do love them and get them out for free choice. But twenty bucks?? They used to be five. Who woulda' thunk. I can recommend them though- if these new ones are just like the old ones they are very hardy. Mine have seen a lot of kid use, and most of mine came from garage sales so had already had a round of kid play.

3.  Did you see the super cute and good-for-kids Fine Motor Take Home Kit that Marsha McGuire posted on Differentiated Kindergarten? The FREE kit, I should add?
I think it is a terrific idea to send the kits home with kiddos for fine motor practice. Here packet comes with a lot of ideas, some activity cards, a parent brochure and a neat tag. I have gathered all the items for the activities and will be introducing the kits to parents on Curriculum Night. I like to build connections between home and school and I think this will help– kinders love taking things home from school. It also gives parents a chance to see what their child can do. I'm going to send two kits home with two kids each Friday, and make them due back on Monday, unless the kidperson is really into it. In that case they can keep them at home until Wednesday– just need them back in time to send home with the next lucky kids. You have to gather the stuff to go into the kit but the printables are a freebie and you can get them by clicking on the picture above and going to the Differentiated Kindergarten post. Thanks, Marsha!

I think my kits are going to travel between home and school in these adorable monster bags. Target's Dollar Spot had the CUTEST monster themed stuff this year– drawstring bags, pencil cases, notebooks... I got myself a new lunch bag. LOVE.

4.  I had a package of chicken in the fridge the other day, but when I remembered it there was only an hour or so before dinner. Who likes plain boneless, skinless chicken breasts? Boring. So I rummaged around in the fridge, then poured a little soy sauce, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar into a flat bottomed bowl, adding to that some crushed garlic and pepper. Sorry I don't have exact measurements. I've been cooking long enough to just sort of wing it when it comes to amounts. I usually only measure when I'm trying new recipes... with marinades... naw.

Ingredients I had on hand.

I stirred, then added the chicken breasts to it, sliced quite thin and punctured many times with a fork.

Chicken in marinade before going into the pan.

I covered and placed it in the fridge, turning them over after half an hour. I then put them in my new ceramic saute pan (LOVE!) and cooked them on top of the stove until they were no longer pink, which didn't take long as they were thin slices. I served them over rice and some chopped veges. Oh. my. gosh. SO good. SO simple. SO fast. I highly recommend! Sorry I don't have any pictures past the marinade stage– I was busy cooking and eating. Didn't think about pictures again until the kitchen was cleaned up. Rachel Ray has nothing to worry about as I just can't cook in front of a camera :)

5.  Teachers are terrific! I FINALLY got to meet some fellow Michigan bloggers. FUN!! We had a blast! One of the real perks of blogging is the people you get to "meet." I had a grand time chatting, learned some new tips, got some neat swag, and won a great prize, too... It is a Ellison Super Star machine that does die cutting. Here is a picture I pulled from the internet because I haven't opened the box yet.

I also won two set of dies that cut out a little boy and a little girl with various clothing options. I'm sure I and my colleagues (because it just seems like a thing for sharing) will put it to good use in the coming year, and I'll post about what I do with it. I will also post more about this meet up in the coming weeks as we'll have some follow-up photos and info to share. I want to especially encourage any Michigan teacher bloggers or TPTers to come to next year's meet-up. Sending off words and ideas into the black hole of the internet can be a little lonely. It is always good to put faces and personalities with the people behind the blog or TPT store. 

Hope you enjoyed my randomness today. Click on back to other Five for Friday posts. Thanks Kacey!

Now I'm off to get ready for a family wedding. Have a great weekend, especially those of you who were back at school with kids this week... my first week is fast approaching! See you next time.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Limited Time Target Funding

Well, this is a slightly odd Monday Made It, but I think I need to spread the word. Thanks, Tara for your special Monday Made It linky!

I wrote a Donor's Choose request last week on August 1. I got notice that Target was doing some special project funding... for the life of me I can't find that email and don't remember if it was from Target or Donor's Choose or an educational site I follow. There were specific guidelines for requesting Target money, but in a nutshell, Target is interested in funding projects that promote health and nutrition for kids.

I have been after Kore Wobble Chairs for several years now. I know five year olds need to move to learn, even when they are doing seated activities. Flexible seating is a truly wonderful concept and one that I believe in and have been doing in various ways for a loooong time. You can see one of my very earliest posts from this blog from years ago about how we do standing centers. Click on the photos below if you are interested.


I wanted Wobble Chairs but quite simply didn't have the funds to purchase six for a small group's worth, so I applied to Donor's Choose and Target. And. I. got. it!!!! Full funding from Target in only four days! Whoot! Here are the chairs that will arrive in a few weeks!  Six of them!

Wobble Seats have a slightly curved ergonomic base to allow kids to wiggle back and forth a bit, yet they are tip proof. They not only allow kids appropriate movement, which so many kids need to stay focused, they also strengthen core muscles while kids sit on them. Click on the image above to read more about all the ways they are good for kids... well, and grown-ups, too, as they come in many sizes.

Another small bonus to me as a teacher as I set up my space, is that they take up less room in the room and allow for better traffic flow as kids go about their daily activities... so important as my new classroom is smaller and kids need space for all sorts of movement, even just getting around the classroom! 

So, no, I didn't make the Wobble Chair, but I did write the proposal. And Donor's Choose and Target did  Make. My. Day!!  Yippee! As Nacho says:

It you've never made a proposal through Donors Choose you may be curious as to how much effort it is. First of all, DC has really made it as easy as can be, keeping teachers' busy lives in mind. You'll need to complete background info on your student population– leaving off specifics like school name. Then you'll write why the items/project will benefit your students and how you're going to put it into action with your class. And you then "shop" for the items right from the DC site. You can post the project to your social media and share with parents and friends. The more you get the word out, the faster and more likely you'll be funded. When your project reaches it dollar goal DC will let you know. There are various ways you and your class will thank the donors. Your items will arrive in the mail. It does take effort, but so worth that effort when you see the project benefitting your students. Everything is very clearly laid out on the DonorsChoose site, complete with examples of what other teachers have done. It is hard to go wrong.

I hope your wheels have been turning as you've read this post and you've come up with ways you could help your kids live healthier lives through movement and nutrition. Target wants to hear your ideas. You can always write a proposal to Donors Choose for anything, but the Target healthy funding is only available for a limited time. So, make your fingers run, not walk, to the Donor's Choose site by clicking below and check out the Target funding. When you go to Donor's Choose you'll see the Target banner across the top. Click on the Get Started button and you're off!! They are funding 5 Million Dollars in projects! Good luck to you and your project!!

Thanks, Donor's Choose! Thanks, Target! Target is great... but then you already knew that... you're a teacher!! 

Click on over the Tara's Fourth Grade Frolics and find lots more Monday Made Its!

Happy, happy Monday! See you next time!

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