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Monday, October 13, 2014

Custom T-Shirt Giveaway from Freebielicious! Get All of Your Students Their Own Class Shirt!

Every once in a while,  the girls at Freebielicious discover a really awesome product for classroom teachers that is so amazing, we just have to share it with you! Today is one of those days! Get ready because we are hosting a super cute giveaway for custom classroom t-shirts from We will be giving away a class set* of custom t-shirts to THREE lucky Freebielicious fans! Isn't that amazing?

These are NOT your average t-shirt designs. The people at ClassroomFaces are so creative, they found a way to print a collection of drawings from every child in the class on the set of t-shirts, to create a truly custom design! Nobody else in the world will ever have a t-shirt exactly like the one your class designs. The website may be called "Classroom Faces" but there are SO many more options for children to draw than just their face. Sample designs on the website show creative ideas using student handprints or drawings of the school mascot.

Since the Freebielicious girls are such good friends, we designed our very own set of Classroom Faces t-shirts. We enlisted the help of our talented friend (and fellow Freebie gal) Nikki from Melonheadz to create custom drawings of each of our faces. The finished t-shirts were absolutely ADORABLE! I absolutely love my new custom Freebielicious t-shirt from Classroom

About Classroom Faces

Creating a class set of t-shirts featuring your students drawings is easy. Each child just needs to create a simple drawing. To create t-shirts with one-color ink on a solid colored t-shirt (like ours) each child needs to draw their picture using a fine point black marker. The ClassroomFaces website has downloadable templates that you can use to guide your students. Full-color illustrations on a plain white t-shirt are also possible. Look how cute these t-shirts are!

Extra Savings for Freebielicious Fans

Freebielicious fans that order a class set of tshirts can save $1 on each tshirt and receive 1 free teacher tshirt with their order using promo code FREEBIE14. Orders must include 15 or more paid shirts to qualify and must be postmarked by December 31, 2014

Enter to WIN a Class Set of Custom Classroom Faces T-Shirts

Now that you have seen how ADORABLE these t-shirts are, it's your chance to try and win a set for your classroom. The wonderful people at ClassroomFaces are graciously giving away a class set* of custom t-shirts to 3 lucky Freebielicious fans! Each set is valued at over $250. Stop by the Freebielicious blog for your chance to WIN! 

*Up to 24 tshirts will be included in each prize pack. Winner can choose to order a class set of traditional single-color tshirts or tshirts will full-color illustrations. Additional t-shirts can be purchased for $11 or $13 (depending on t-shirt size and style). Shipping is free for winners that live in the US. If a winner requires shipping outside of the US, the winner is responsible for shipping costs. (Shipping to Canada costs between $5-$20 depending on weight and location). 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Cheap and Easy Spinnning in My Classroom--FINALLY!

Some of you may have tuned into my last blog post about the difficulty of the new year getting started...I am happy to announce that....wait for's getting better!  This was the year (just like every one before that "it really wasn't happening")....but, it is! We kicked off Daily 5 and had 3 THREE round days that went relatively smoothly....I will be sharing a post about that later...

I just wanted to quickly share a quick management tip that many of you probably already have done for years, but is a BRAND NEW thought for me.  I've always loved the fact that writing expo markers over permanent markers will erase it off any and every smooth surface you've (or maybe one of the kids did "on accident").  I have used this tip I learned years ago for many purposes: my calendar board's "permanent" things are written in permanent marker and writing students' names and/or concepts they are working RIGHT on their desk/table area so they can never lose their nametag are just a couple of ways I can think of off the top of my head. 

Well, I LOVE spinners because they provide so many different learning opportunities and are easy to differentiate with... I've watched bloggers blogging about them, teachers teaching with them and I've had it on my list to make them for probably 2 years, I have finally come to terms with the fact that I am probably not going to be one of those teachers with fancy, fun spinners in my room.  BUT that doesn't mean that we still can't be spinning in C-21!  As a single mom and full time teacher, time is precious and, although they won't be anything fancy, my students are going to be spinning  A LOT this year because look what I found:

Ten of them for $7.00 what??@@!! Yup, that's a steal! I have not tried this kind, but it says it is laminate coated, which I am pretty sure will work with my technique, but can't guarantee it.
Now, you need to know how I make them into something useful in my classroom, right? And, in pure MMMB fashion, it is QUICK and EASY-just the way we like (need) it:
You write whatever options you want your children to spin to with a permanent Sharpie marker.

When you are ready to change your stations, you color over the permanent marker marks with an expo marker. 

 You use a paper towel (or your finger like I do--its even quicker and not all that messy!) to wipe off
the spinners.
Now you are ready to write your next options for your students for their new workstations.
I am not claiming this as my idea. I have always used expo erasers to erase permanent marker from whiteboards, desks, etc., but just recently thought to use it on spinners!  I am sure there are many of you out there who have done this forever, its just a new concept to me! :)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Mo Willems and his Naked Mole Rat (GREAT beginning of year read with a FREEBIE or 2!)

We've been working on a Mo Wilems' author study (we LOVE his books, BTW!) and it just wouldn't be complete without the Naked Mole Rat book because we all know how much students crack up at anything having to do with nakedness and underwear (and this book includes a semblance of BOTH-double score!). The lesson in this book is great for the beginning of the year--you don't all have to like or do the same things to be friends and have a great time and it's okay to be different. But, if you want to extend it (and really gross them out at the same time!) show them pictures of REAL naked mole rats:O
My students love the "draw and respond" work we do so much, I just had to create a Naked Mole Rat one.  This is going to be part of a kit with the whole Mo Willems' clan, but, for now, I'm giving a sample version to you FREE to try in your classroom!  The kits include many options for you to choose from, but I just provided a blank one that you can write a question, model a sentence for students to copy OR whatever else you might have up your sleeve to get your students writing about Naked Mole Rats!
My students were so interested in the naked mole rats, I took it to the next level (gotta love student driven teaching!) and went on a search for an informational text for them that I honestly didn't think I'd find...low and behold, I found a mini book created by a teacher on TpT that was PeRFECT for them.  It was a one pager that you fold into quarters... I knew it needed to be larger for my babies, so I enlarged it onto 11x17 copy paper and voila! they all had an informational text for their book box! Click here if you would like to extend your reading of Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed with this FREEBIE! Ha ha!  Thank you for this fabulous resource Learning in Wonderland!


Here is a quick snippet of a video that shows naked mole rats in all their glory (um...grossness), but they are very intriguing as well!

You can also check them out LIVE with the Washington Zoo's Live Web Cam here:

Saturday, September 20, 2014

This Thing Called the Beginning of the Year Will Get Better, Right???
I love ANY project that includes student photos.  Next year, I will definitely enlarge these shirts onto colored paper instead of having kiddos color them.  But, they are cute nonetheless! Don't you just love the arms and hands they had no pattern for?

So, we've been just hanging around in our classroom for about 3 weeks now ....I certainly don't want to jinx myself, but I think we may be getting into a routine of some sort and finding our way.  Even as a veteran (am I really considered that now--oh lord??) teacher, I find myself doubting my ability to bring "this" group  to the levels they NEED to be by the end of the year every single year.  So, with the encouragement of one of my blogging besties, Crystal Radke, from Kreative in Kinder, I wrote myself the following letter to look back at at the end of the year and, again, every fall, to remember that this group is no different than any other in the sense that I WILL be able to break through the many beginning of the year challenges and make sure they are successful.  I encourage any new teacher or any other teacher that may have had a tough start to the year to read this (as well as the others linked up at Kreative in Kinder) and I also encourage you write a letter to yourself (even if you don't share it with the world like we are!).
Teacher blogs are kind of like Facebook in the sense that everyone typically shares their greatest parenting/family/teaching moments because that's what everyone wants to see.  But, I think this provides a false sense of what our lives and/or classrooms are really like.  Bloggers are not perfect teachers....we are just like every other teacher across the country, learning with new experiences every day.  Failing, succeeding, sharing, learning, collaborating, being challenged, etc...we just happen to share our successes in case it may help others out is my letter to myself that I hope to visit, revisit and visit again YEAR after YEAR:
It hasn't been the greatest start to the year for me...but, when I came home in tears earlier this week, I gave myself a little pep talk and did exactly what I always tell other teachers when things are tough:
"You need to evaluate what is going on in the room...what is the challenge? What (that is in your control) can you do to help improve the problem?"
Yes, I am BIG on self, instead of feeling sorry for myself and my students because of the day we had had...I made some new plans, prepared for some changes...and, GUESS WHAT? the rest of the week was as perfect as a 3rd week in school can possibly be *which we all know includes bumps and curves every half hour on the hour, right??  There are ways to fix problems
and the fixes I made were easy ones that didn't take much time or thought, but made HUGE differences in the struggles we were facing in my small classroom with 20 kiddos!
So, one of the things that is so daunting at the beginning of the year is the thought of the end of the year skills that our students need to be capable of...So, instead of fretting about it, I start working on them slowly and steadily.  Take for example our students' needing to be able to build constructed responses by the end of the year....Well, they need to be able to first restate a question in a response, so that's where I start!  But, doing that on a plain piece of would be super boring, so we use my Guided Drawing with a Literacy Twist's modifiable page and I put a simple question: Do you like to eat apples?  They were amazed that there was barely any stretching out words needed for this activity...showing them how easy it can be right away really works to a teachers' benefit, I'm telling you!  (Oh and it also fit into our short a learning target as well--love to integrate when possible!).  Starting next week, these guided drawings with easy response questions will become one of my students' must dos during Daily 5, but we had to practice it whole group launch Daily 5 in all its greatness in my room, so, stay tuned to hear how (ahem) great that goes! :)  I know, I know, eventually it will be!
I tried to make all of you a video on how to make this adorable newsletter template featuring all of your kiddos...but that is going to have to be a project for another day. #screencastfail
However, if you work in PowerPoint, it is VERY easy.  Import ALL pics of your kids (or maybe even activities you've done throughout the week?) and DO NOT CLICK THE SCREEN once you are back at your blank piece of paper, that way you can resize and frame them all at the same time!  Choose the frame you want and it will frame all of them if they are all still selected.  Also, choose what style you want the photos' frames.  Then you just move them to create a border around the page (the latest version of power point even helps to make sure you line them up PERFECTLY-score!).  Enter a text box in the middle and you have an editable newsletter template to use for the year, or at least until the next students move in or out!  I'd love to see your creations when you finish them!
My friend's husband painted this tray with chalkboard paint to use (and reuse) throughout the year.  These pictures looked GREAT in black and white.  Next up: My Best Writing: for them to hold and me to hang the pictures above their clips that will hold their best writing for the year to display! So excited about that one!

This collage was made on an awesome app for iphones called Pic, seriously, soooooooo EASY and QUICK...just my style... Just a little FYI! :)
I'd be remiss if I wrote this long blog post about the beginning of the year if I didn't include pictures of my two favorite boys in the whole wide world!  I can't even believe how much they've grown...and, if I do say so myself, they are growing into fine, young boys....I just love them sooo much (but, did I really need to say that???).  These amazing boys are what I live for day after day..
So, until next time, enjoy! :)