Saturday, July 30, 2011

Awesome finds....

Sorry I've been MIA the past few days! It was my baby girl's {8th} birthday and I have been some more shopping! I {heart} back to school sales - I have been finding some amazing things for my classroom! Here are just a few {well a little more than a few!}.....

I found these at the dollar tree! They are different sized clocks that you can use a dry erase markers with. I plan to break them up and make centers {check back because I'll be sharing the centers I create!} I also found a synonym file folder game.

Another Dollar Tree find... this great spinner. I'm thinking about using this to call on students. {My students are in groups of 4-5 and each have an assigned number 1-5 to each group!} I would have to ignore 6-8 though! I also found this pointer - I got it just because the teacher store is right next door to DT and they were selling these things for 6$!!!!!!!!

More dollar tree finds {it was a great day!} I found these for my treasure box. I will use the balls for a grand prize week. My students last year went nuts for erasers! I was so excited to find these bright colored ones as well as skateboard erasers!

Ok last dollar tree find. I found these adorable tubs that match the colors in my room! {Love it} I thought about moving all of my math manipulatives into them. Of course I bought like 12 of them {I wanted more though!!!}

I found these at Target so I can make those cute paperclip bookmarks that I saw on pinterest {love pinterest!} I found the ribbon in the dollar spot! The giant paperclips are on the supplies aisle! I already started making these and they are so much fun! I plan to give them as gifts to my teammates.

I found these sticker gems at the Target 1$ spot. I got an awesome idea from Tara at 4th Grade Frolics to put jewels on students' papers when they use "sparkling" vocabulary or use creativity in their writing. {Love this idea!}

Another great Target 1$ spot find! More shaped erasers {ice cream, crayons and cute hand shapes - i love you, hang 10, thumbs up} These are for my treasure box! I also finally found the mini erasers! I found them awhile back and decided to wait, then went back and they were GONE!! I plan to use them with centers!

And my coolest find is this timer {Target 14.99}! Sure it just looks like a regular timer....but it's quite the opposite. This is a giant timer {hard to tell in the picture} it's 8.5 in by 8.5 in! The best part - it's magnetic! I plan to put it on my whiteboard!!

I didn't take a pic of it, but I also found a good size rug 7ft X 5ft - with giant polka dots {and my room colors} for only 15$!!! And guess where I found it?!?! At my grocery store of all places. They had a dorm section with all kinds of goodies!

I think that is enough goodies for now!! Stay tuned, I've been working on some great printables to label your crates {should post in the next few days!}

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Pinterest..Facebook..Twitter Oh my!

As I was writing my post about making pinterest work for you and your blog...I realized I had to create a facebook page to attach to my blog, especially after telling you guys that the more you link up - the more people that can find you! You may have also noticed that I figured out how to add a pin it button to my posts! Kelsey at her blog Kelsey Creates has a super easy tutorial!! I also updated my facebook and twitter buttons!! So come follow me....

Follow Me on Pinterest

Kinder fun is also having a facebook linky party!! Come link up your facebook page!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

An Eye Opening Experience...

I am attending an amazing training this week - Stellar Summer Institute {Science for ELLs}. Today, I had a major AHA moment and it will forever be on my heart {I know it will change the way I teach!}

Let me give you a little background about me. I am bi-racial, half Hispanic and half Caucasian. So growing up, my father never taught me Spanish {it was like his secret language - he would use it talk to his family when he didn't want me to listen} I tried to learn it - I took 2 years in high school and attempted to learn in college {I failed miserably} I can pick out words here and there and usually make a good attempt to know what someone is saying. I have always caught flak from others for not knowing how to speak it {I really struggle with this}!

So today during our training we had two amazing speakers who are from UC Berkley and also help create FOSS kits. Right after his introduction, he began only speaking in Spanish. {Remember it is an ELL conference and most of the people were bilingual} At first I just sat there and tried to pull out the words I knew and attempt to piece together what he was saying. I could see everyone at my table nodding their heads completely understanding what he was saying. Then he began using a powerpoint of vocabulary words with pictures and a definition in Spanish. I knew he was giving us a science lesson and I thought I was doing ok trying to get what he was saying. As he continued to give the lesson he began to use gestures with the science materials we would be using. He modeled blowing on a piece of paper and questioning whether it would go up or down {he put his finger up and down}. I was still feeling ok with what he was presenting - I could pull out the word velocity and that he was asking us if we blew on the paper which direction would it go. Then all of a sudden he said something and everyone in my group started talking to one another in Spanish. I was completely lost! I was so uncomfortable!! Words cannot describe what I was feeling {scared, nervous, worried, frustrated, embarrassed}! I was frustrated because I was so lost in what was going on {I basically checked out}...but then I was embarrassed because I was worried that the people at my table would look down on me because I should know Spanish. I honestly wanted to run to the bathroom. I finally got the nerve to tell one of my teammates that I didn't know Spanish. She turned around and began to explain what he was wanting us to do. The rest of my group members kept talking in Spanish, but used gestures with their hands so I could understand.

The speaker then started to speak in English again and asked us to talk about the experience with our table groups. It was strange because even though I didn't know Spanish...many of my teammates were uncomfortable too! They are more comfortable with conversational Spanish, but weren't as comfortable with academic language {science vocabulary and terms}. Like me, the gestures and the pictures helped them to know what the speaker was asking of them. It made me realize some things and reinforce what I've been taught {these are just my observations and thoughts based on my experience with this activity}!!

1. Science could be its own language - there are so many terms and vocabulary for people to know and understand {it's usually foreign to all of us}. With this said - ELL strategies work well in science for ALL STUDENTS!!

2. We will have different levels of ELL students - some will be transitioning straight from a bilingual classroom, others could have mastered conversational language (BIC) , but still struggle with academic language (CALP). We need to know what type of supports our students need from us!

3. We must continue to use strategies {visual aids, modeling, repeating, etc) with all ELLs - no matter what their level is!!! I would have been so completely lost if the speaker hadn't shown vocabulary with pictures and modeled what he wanted us to do! And it sounds like my teammates who weren't as strong with the academic language also benefited from the strategies!

4. We MUST make sure our students understand our lessons, directions and what we are asking of them!! It is our job to make sure they are learning! We must pick up on their cues {checking-out or getting uncomfortable}!! If we loose them - we may not get them back to complete the lesson or worse they may shy away from future lessons!

5. Use your other students as a resource!! We always say we learn best from one another! It could also be said that students feel more comfortable asking another student for help than asking the teacher {this is how I felt during this activity - I was way too embarrassed to make the speaker stop to let him know I wasn't understanding!}

6. I feel like I have a better understanding of how intimidating it can be to be in a classroom where you don't understand because of a language barrier. I will always do my best to never make my students feel the way I did today!!

I can't put into words how eye opening this experience was for me! It's like with anything that is taught - someone can tell you and you think you've got it...then you get hands on experience and you have a deeper understanding.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Let Pinterest work for you...

While you are fulfilling those pinterest cravings - let it work for you and your blog! I only starting using pinterest about a week ago, yet it is already bringing more people to my blog than any other site {linky parties, sqworl, blog buttons, google search, etc}. Here are some tips you can do to bring more visitors to your site:

To get to your profile click on your name on the right side of the page, your image will be on the left with an "edit profile" button underneath - click this button.


*Add a blurb in the about section
Whatever you put here will show up right below your profile image. Mention what grade you teach as well as something about your blog {along with the blog url}

*Change your profile image to your blog button. There are thousands of people on pinterest - no one is going to remember what someone looks like, but if you put your cute button picture there - they are more likely to remember it and seek you out! Go to your profile to make this change

Setting up profile

*Add your website {Blog url}. Under your profile add your blog url. People can get to your blog by clicking on the world icon under your image.

See blog

*Allow your account to be searched in Google - Google is a very powerful tool...make sure you use it!!! Under your account make sure the you have "Don't search index" unchecked.

*Link up your twitter and facebook!! I am a firm believer that the more you have connected to one another the easier it is for people to find you! Note: the twitter account that will be attached to your pinterest account with the same email address. {This doesn't work for me because I have 2 twitter accts personal/teaching. When I go to link it, it picks up my personal acct} This will also be another way for people to follow you. There is an icon under your picture for both twitter/facebook.

*Create a board on your pinterest for blogs and pin your blog header/button. There are tons of people on Pinterest that don't necessarily have a blog or know about the teaching blog world. If you make a board and list your favorite blogs {including yours} this will bring more traffic. It also helps you keep organized with your blogs. Make sure to leave a description {grade level} and add little notes!

*Add a follow me pinterest button Under the main page click on about and then help, click on goodies. Find the image you would like to use. Copy the code. Go to your blog - under design - add a gadget - choose HTML/Java enter your code and save. You can move the widget around to where you want it. Again the more you connect...the easier it is for people to find you!

*Add a pin it button to your blog. You will be making it easier for people to pin your ideas - which means more people will see them and be able to go back to your blog! There is a code for this as well under the goodies section. I'm still debating where to put my pin it button - but I'm leaning towards next to my signature at the bottom of each post!

*Add your blog name to your pictures If you use an outside picture hosting site {picasa web, photobucket, tinypic, etc} instead of uploading your pictures directly into your blog make sure that your blog name is written on your pictures. Here is the problem - if you use one of these sites and someone pins one of you pictures - it links them to the picture hosting site vs your blog. This will allow people to know the source of the picture. This is very simple to do using a program like photoshop or an online program like picnik.

Picture with blog name

I hope these tips will help you increase the traffic on your site!! And if you'd like, come follow me on pinterest! Follow Me on Pinterest

Sunday, July 24, 2011


I decided to link my blog to twitter! Come follow me!

Follow SweetLifeof3rd on Twitter

Saturday, July 23, 2011

And the winner is.....

And the winner is..........

Congratulations Katie!! I hope you are able to purchase items from your wish list!! Please contact me within 48 hours with your email so that I can email you your prize!

I want to thank everyone else - I am still blown away that I have almost 200 people interested in my ramblings. And thank you so much for sharing your ideas and lessons! {I do hope that you find some ideas that you can use from my blog as well!} I am so excited for this next school year and to be able to use everything that I have learned for each of you!!

Just a reminder....

My giveaway ends TONIGHT at midnight CST!!! I will announce the winner tomorrow!

Friday, July 22, 2011


Tara at 4th grade frolic is having the sweetest giveaway yet!! She is giving away one of the cutest bracelets ever!! Go check out her site!!

Adventures of Room 129 is also having a great giveaway! She's giving away 3 different prizes! Head over there and check her out ~hurry it ends tonight!

Also don't forget about my giveaway - it ends tomorrow!!!!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Pinterest Inspirations!

The other day I was searching the area Targets to find more stickers for my multiple choice sticks. I just happened to go down the "summer stuff" aisle and saw that everything was 75% off! If there is one thing you should know about me - it's that I go a little crazy when I see the word "SALE" or "CLEARANCE or " blank % off" {ok you get the picture} I found metal tubs {beverage containers} and I was beyond ecstatic because they were only 3$ {yes 3$} I grabbed 2 of them {probably should have grabbed more!} My hubby has been wanting one for when we have get-togethers. I wanted one for my classroom because it reminded me of a picture I found on pinterest from Ms. Nichols classroom....

Like many of you, I'm completely addicted to Follow Me on Pinterest! I seriously have a pinning problems {and I just started!} I have found so many ideas {check back because I have a long list of things I'm going to make from the ideas I have found!} So I found this clipboard bucket and thought it was adorable. We do a lot of carpet work with whiteboards, yet I store my wb at the back of the room {opposite end of the classroom}. I thought this tub I found would be P-E-R-F-E-C-T to store my whiteboards, dry erase markers and erasers! Here are my before and after photos.

Bucket before

Bucket after

Want to make a bucket too? It was super simple. I took scrapbook paper and used my cricut to cut out the letters {you could also buy letters already cut out}. Then I modge podged them on the bucket {remember to do thin layers at a time to prevent bubbles and the paper raising off} I put 6-7 layers of modge podge. You may also want to spray a clear sealant once it all dries to ensure that the letters are secure. Next I just tied coordinating ribbon on the handles. I plan to put some sort of basket inside this to store all three things and keep them organized. I'll keep you posted!

What have you made that was inspired by a pinterest find? Or what are you considering making? If you are on pinterest come check mine out!! Follow Me on Pinterest

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What I'm in love with {Linky Party}

I couldn't pass up the linky party that First Grade Blue Skies is hosting - What are you in love with? What is on your wish list for next year!

{What I am in love with}

Here is my classroom from last year {before school started that's why the bb are bare}. My theme was bright colors and black. All of my bulletin boards were solid black and the borders were black with brightly multi-colored shapes {dots, stars, stripes}. I love my theme! I love how my word wall pops! But I think I want to change my borders {shhh! don't tell my hubby} I found these borders from frog street press and I think they will make all of my bulletin boards pop! {plus I'm totally diggin' polka dots right now} I will still keep the solid black background. What do you think? Too much?

Here are the borders I would use - they're great because they're reversible. These are the main colors that I've already used, {word wall, library baskets & the caddies that are on the desks} I think they would match nicely.

These are cute numbers for my calendar - they only had them in green, but I'm sure I could make my own pretty easily.

Love, love, love these letters, but I think I could make these too! {with my handy, dandy cricut}

I would also love to get some of these storage ottomans! I love the ones everyone is making with the storage crates - but you just can't beat the price of these. Right now they are on sale at Target for 15$ I want a blue, pink, and green one! Not sure what I would use them for exactly, but they are so stinkin' cute!

Come join the up your wish list!

First Grade Blue Skies

Don't forget to enter my giveaway for a 20$ gift certificate!

Looky...Looky!! Look what I made!

I was so inspired when I first saw these adorable multiple choice sticks on Tara's blog 4th Grade Frolics! I just knew I had to make them! Being in an upper elementary grade we do so much testing. {unfortunately} Of course I could have made another set of ABCD cards but these are way too much fun! {Don't you know the kids are going to love them!} I promise - super, super simple to make. It took hubby and I less than an hour to make 25 of them!! {including the drilling}

Here is what you need:
Total cost for 25 of them:
Popsicle sticks (100) - 2$
Screws/Nuts (#8) - 3$
Washers (#8) - 2$
Stickers - 5$
Total: 12$ for these amazingly cute multiple choice sticks!

Basically you drill a hole and attach 4 sticks together using the screw, nuts, and washers. Then if you'd like you can add alphabet stickers {or you could just write the number on them}. We found that it was easiest to put 4 sticks together using a binder clip and then drill the 4 sticks at one time.

I couldn't find the stickers Tara used, but I found these really cute dot stickers at the Target 1$ spot that fit perfect on the tip of the stick. They came with 5 sheets to a package {so I needed 5 of them} I also didn't use modge podge for the sticks like Tara did {I didn't have the patience - I wanted them that bad!} but the stickers were pretty secure on them. {I'm sure I'll regret it later!} I also went ahead and put the numbers 1-4 on the backside. {since I already had the stickers}

I cannot wait for my students to use these! Such an awesome, awesome idea! Again I would like to thank Tara for the inspiration and sharing her wonderful idea! If you have not checked out her blog - GO NOW!! She has so many more wonderful ideas! {definitely one of my favorite blogs!}

Don't forget to enter my giveaway for a 20$ gift certificate!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Classroom Management

In my classroom - I have 3 reward systems in place. My students can earn rewards individually, as a team, or as a class. All 3 were very effective for me!

Individual Rewards:

I use tickets in my class. I just get a roll of them for around 4$ at Walmart {I only had to buy 2 rolls all year long} The students would get a ticket for anything from on task behavior to answering questions and participating{I know reward systems should only focus on behavior, but this worked for me} When students received a ticket they would write their name on the back and drop it in my little bucket. I would pass out tickets all week long. On Fridays, I would draw one name out and that person went to my treasure box. {At the end of the week I threw all of the tickets in the recycle bin and started over on Monday} I was honestly amazed at how hard students would work for the tickets, especially knowing only 1 person would win each week {it's the same concept of why we go crazy bidding on ebay - WE WANT TO WIN!!}. I would carry tickets in my pocket everywhere we went - it worked especially well in the hallways. About midway through the year, I heard of another teacher taking this system one step further. She would pull a name every so often during the day. If the person was off task she would say, "Oh this person isn't ready to get their name pulled, let me try again." She wouldn't share the name and would just put it back into the bucket. If the person was on task - that child got to pick from a list of privileges {take your shoes off, switch seats, extra computer time, etc} then their ticket went back into the bucket for the drawing on Friday. This worked so well in my class, if everyone was off task it was a quick and easy way to get everyone to refocus {it also gave us a break to redirect ourselves} I recently placed an order at vistaprint and ordered these cards with the choices listed for them {this way I don't have to stop my lesson to ask the kids what they want - and I don't forget to give them their rewards} This system worked so well that I plan to use it next year {it also saved me on prizes - only 1 a week}! Oh and on those weeks when behavior is just naturally off {like the week before winter break} I'd have a grand prize week where I would just give a bigger prize than normal. It made those weeks so much easier!

Team Rewards:
My class is setup with the desks in groups of 4 or 5 {for coop learning}. Each group of desks is a team. I had a part of my whiteboard sectioned off for team points. I had all of the teams listed {by color but next year I'll let teams create mascots}. They would earn points for being on task, being prepared, and participating. I would just write tallies for their points. At the end of the week the team would choose a reward {they came up with their own but I could always veto it} Most would choose lunch in the classroom, no homework pass or treasure box. Not only did this work great to get the class on task quickly but it really reinforced working as a team! I would have students help other kids get ready {help them find their spiral} and would even give them reminders to be on task. I don't like to take rewards away once they are earned - however I did remove table points for teams who were off task. This too worked really well - I will continue it
next year.

Class Reward:

I learned this system from my cooperating teacher while I student taught {I just tweaked it a bit}. I had a hundreds pocket chart. The numbers are all flipped to the back. When the students earns the number they flip it around on the chart. When we get 10 in a row {horizontal/vertical} we earn a class reward {party!!}. The students earn numbers for being on task as a class or getting compliments in the hallway/specials/lunch {5 numbers if the compliment is from an administrator}. I tally the numbers and when we have a free moment I give them their numbers. I have a baggie with a hundreds chart cut up #1-100. I call students {by pulling sticks} to pull out a number from the bag without looking. Then the student flips their number over. I have a separate bag that all of the used numbers go in so I can reuse for next time. On the first day of school all of the numbers are flipped to the back. During the first week of school I introduce the system to my students and let them pick any 10 numbers {can't be in the same row horizontal/vertical}. This way the understand how the system works as well as give them motivation to work hard. The students really love this system {another lottery type thing - they go crazy when they earn numbers}. The don't realize it could take months and months to fill up a row even though they earn numbers daily. We hit 10 in a row - two times last year. My class chose to have a hot chocolate party and then to have popcorn and a movie. I love this system! It's so easy to maintain and it takes up very little space {and reinforces math skills}!

If you would like to see other classroom management strategies, check out the linky party on Miss Kindergarten blog.
And don't forget about my giveaway...12 chances to win a 20$ gift certificate!!

Monday, July 18, 2011

File Folder Games - A tip to help organize them!

Do you use file folder games in your classroom? Do they have tiny little pieces that always seem to get lost? I had this problem so I found these nifty pocket folders that had a pocket built into them {they were so EXPENSIVE}. So I started making my own. Here is a quick tutorial to make folders with a pocket to store all of your tiny game pieces.

Don't forget about my giveaway!! Because I have so many wonderful followers - I'm giving away a 20$ gift certificate!

Pouch File Folder

Saturday, July 16, 2011

100 Giveaway

I am truly thrilled {and honored} that I have 100 new friends {and I hope it continues to grow}. I was a bit caught off guard and didn't think I would be celebrating 100 followers for quite awhile. I hope you enjoy my giveaway {I was trying to find something that everyone could enjoy}

I will be giving away a 20$ gift certificate to be used in any TpT store...{I don't have a store yet...but hope to get one going soon}

Here are the details:
The winner will be randomly picked on Sat. July 23 and announced Sun July 24. Only comments will be entered into the drawing!!

I wanted this to be a fun giveaway, so I'm doing things just a tad differently. Here's how you can win - do any of the following below and leave a comment for each. {only comments that are left are entered into the drawing}

-Become a follower and leave a comment {1 entry}
-If you are already a follower simply leave a comment {1 entry}
-Blog about the giveaway {2 entries}
- Put me on your blog roll {2 entries - leave 2 comments}
-Put my button on your blog {2 entries - leave 2 comments}
-Link your favorite TpT store item inside your comment {up to 4 separate entries}
(this can be an item from your store or another store)

I hope you enjoy this little twist - I'm excited to find more things that I can buy in the TpT stores!! Thank you again for following my blog!

Holy Moly...almost 100

WOW! When did that happen? I almost have 100 followers {in less than a week!}. Looks like a giveaway is in my future......stay tuned!

Here are some hints:

*Something every teacher will love
*Very {very} handy
*The possibilities with it are ENDLESS!!!

I think that will do for now! Check back to see what I have in store! And thank you so much for following my means the world to me!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Blogging for Dummies

I've only been blogging for less than a week {and I am a total addict...but I can admit it}. I am amazed at all of the people who are willing to lend a helping hand, especially when it comes to setting up your blog...and quite honestly just the basic ins and outs {Linky Party and Pinning are foreign words to new bloggers!}

Here are a few people {blogs} who have helped me {and hopefully they will help you too!}

Ladybug Teacher Files
has AMAZING I finally learned how to start counting (numbering) my comments. I searched the web high and low and was left with just a bunch of gibberish {code}. Then I found a tutorial on her blog {why didn't I look there first?} She had a very simple and easy tutorial and I had my comment count fixed in minutes! Check out her other tutorials - she truly has a gift and she is willing to share!! She also has some pretty amazing blog templates {super cute}

Finally in First was one of the first blogs I came across. I started seeing blogs that said "Linky Party"...I was like Linky what?!?! Thankfully Jenn explained both what Linky parties are, as well as Linky etiquette {thank goodness because I would have been one of those people to link to my blog vs. my post}! She continues to have great posts about blogging including some great tricks!

When I decided to have a Linky Party I had no idea how to set it up. Of course I went to the web and found a wonderful {non-teaching} blog that had a great tutorial. Bargain Hoot showed what program to use as well as how to play in someone else Linky party!

I hope these help blogs help you too...but really I wanted to give a shout-out and thank these wonderful people for sharing their knowledge!!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Teacher Pointers {Make your own}...Easy as pie

Once upon a time...I was going to be teaching 1st grade. However I was moved to 3rd instead. {and I couldn't be happier!} I had already purchased so many things for my classroom..and it seems I forgot about a few. I have been reorganizing my office/craft/teacher workspace. I was so amazed at all of the little treasures I found. One was supplies that I had bought to make my own teacher pointers. I decided to get my creative juices flowing and make them {and I thought you might like to know how to do it too!}

What you need:
*Glue Gun
*Wood Paints in coordinating colors {these are so cheap - I got mine for .60}
*Wooden Dowels {I found mine at Walmart for less than 2$ for 16 of them}
*Cute Wood shapes {These are already prepainted! Look on the wood aisle at your craft store - super cheap around .50 each}
**Ribbon if you'd like to add a little something!

Super, super simple....
1. Paint the dowels
2. Put a glob of hot glue on the back of wooden shapes
3. Attach the stick to the back

How is easy is that?!?!? {Easy as pie...right}

You can add a little bow for a nice little touch.

Since I don't really use pointers in my classroom - I'm going to give these as a gift to a really good friend {who happened to be my cooperating teacher when I was student teaching}. I am going to make a few more and put them in this cute bucket I picked up at Hobby Lobby!!

I hope you have as much fun as I did making these!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Blog Mixer Party

I know I am a new kid on the block...but I am totally digging all of these fabulous blogs! Yearn to Learn is having a fun linky's a search and find mixer of blogs {how fun!}.

Come join the F~U~N!!

1. Dot-n-Spots is a newbie like me! She has some of the CUTEST printables!! Go check her out and all of her dots....

2. Julie at Thoughts of a Third Grade Teacher has been so amazingly helpful and I already adore her! Go check out her blog...especially the great post Blog Design Explosion.

3. Creating and Teaching teaches special education to preschoolers....and her blog has a little bit of everything! {teaching, crafts, recipes...and my fave CRICUT!!}

4. Kelli at Castles and Crayons has one of the cutest blogs ever...and an even cuter button!

Castles and Crayons