RCA...Disneyland for Teachers!

It's t-minus 19 hours until I am Ron Clark Academy bound with some amazing friends. This has been on my bucket list for awhile, but I often wondered if it would come true. 

Let's rewind to the spring of 2016 when some of my friends and myself went to Florida for the Get Your Teach On conference with Deanna Jump from Mrs. Jump's Class and Hope King from Elementary Shenanigans. We came back to school filled with tons of amazing ideas and a renewed drive to spread joy to others. 

In August 2016, a bunch of friends and myself were on another adventure to a conference sponsored by Ashley Schroeder from Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd. Ron Clark was the guest speaker at this wonderful conference. The car ride home was spent searching for grants, looking at our school calendar, looking at the RCA calendar, and researching flights to Atlanta. At one point during the drive home, it got very silent in the car because the thought of "what if we can't figure this out" began to set in. However we were determined this was going to work. 

That brings us to September 2016...we bought tickets to Atlanta not knowing whether we were going to be able to find funding to go to RCA. We decided even if we didn't get funding, we would be going to Atlanta for the weekend because the tickets were to good to pass up. We finally found a grant that was focused on social and emotional learning. We thought professional development at RCA fit that grant criteria perfectly, but then it was the waiting game to see if our application would be granted. We waited and waited (and secretly from each other we kept checking the RCA website to see if October 21st was still open). The good news finally came that our application was accepted. My phone began dinging as the text messages flew from our phones to each other. We were over the moon excited.

Fast forward to t-minus 19 hours... I have checked in for my flight, suitcase is packed, and tons of thoughts are flying around my head. What will it feel like when I enter RCA? Is RCA really like Disneyland for teachers? Will I (a kindergarten teacher) be able to take back any useful information to my classroom from a middle school? What relationships will I build while at RCA? I have 7 1/2 hours of parent-teachers conferences tomorrow and then I can begin my teacher field trip (which is how I explained it to my students). 

I Spy...Giant Googly Eyes!

Fall is one of my favorites times of the year. There are so many different occasions that intrigue students during the fall months...apples, pumpkins, firefighters, Halloween, etc. All of these themes provide a great motivator when trying to teach academic standards.

The words Common Core are words that people either love, hate, or tolerate. It does not matter how you feel about the words Common Core because our job is to teach. I teach in a state that uses Common Core. I have no choice in the standards I am told to teach, but I have tons of choice in how I deliver that information to my students. I choose to make learning fun so Common Core is fun. 

As I was looking over my data, I noticed that my students were struggling with either naming letters or isolating the initial sound in words. After looking over my data, I just happened to wander through Dollar Tree where they had giant googly eyes. Who can resist giant googly eyes?...not this teacher that's for sure!  And I just might have bought this Frankenstein bucket after Halloween last year because it was on sale and cute! 

Voila! Some Silhouette vinyl letter stickers, some alphabet clipart, 13 packages of giant googly Dollar Tree eyes, and 1 Frankenstein bucket....I Spy Frankenstein Letters was created. My kiddos loved saying "I Spy" and then flipping over a giant eye to name the letter or say the letter sound. I played it in small group to teach my kiddos how to play. Now it is in the word work center to practice letter naming or isolating initial sounds. 



Here are the differentiated recording sheets to go along with I Spy...Frankenstein. Click here for your I Spy....Frankenstein Letters freebie.

Classroom Reveal

I am a little late with my classroom reveal, but since it is still September I wanted to share my home away from home with you. At my school, we have an office space and a small bathroom hallway connecting two classrooms. This makes for some unique corners and bends in the classroom. My classroom also has another unique feature because I have a full sized refrigerator and oven in it as well. 

I enjoy the connected classrooms with the shared bathroom hallway and office space. Teaching can be an isolating career, but with the shared hallway between the two classrooms it lessons the isolation.
I know I always have another adult to give that "look" to when struggle city is happening during the day or when something amazing is happening.

I have spent the last 10 years of my career in this classroom so room 109 is truly my home away from home. Come on in!

This is entrance to my classroom. I love that my cubbies are inside my room and not in the hallway. They are not fully in my classroom which gives more space too. The storage above the cubbies is a blessing as well.
My writing center and student boxes. The student boxes hold a writing folder, sight word cards, guided reading books, pencil box, and free choice journal for each child. I have portable supplies because my students sit or stand anywhere in the classroom as long as they are working. 
My writing center, dramatic play, construction center, and word work centers. I have these centers together because my students use the dramatic play table for the writing center. The construction center rug (excuse the chairs) is used for my students to complete the work work activities.  Notice the writing center has changed spots from the picture above. 

The view from my small group teaching area. I can see the cubby hallway, bathroom hallway, and every corner of my classroom. I took these pictures after school or those bath mats folded in the white clothes basket would be spread all over our floor. 
My whole group teaching area. My computer center is hiding behind my moving easel. 
My language arts and math boards display the literacy center and math center jobs for each group. The shelf with the blue buckets is my puzzle and games center. I use portable CD players for my listening center so those are housed on the top.
My exploration center (green buckets), sensory table, art easel, and art center. The small opening between the sensory table and easel is the bathroom hallway that connects my classroom and my teammates.
My paint easel, art center, my  office doorway and the think time table.
It's only been 15 days and I have already changed my classroom around a bit. (I flipped construction center and dramatic play) I have 22 active kinders this year and some spaces were just not working. However, I change my classroom around a lot but never the procedures so my students can function in our classroom all the time. They typically shake their heads and say "She did it again." I hope you enjoyed my home away from home.

Besides my classroom, my blog also got a makeover this past month. Thank you to the amazing Tenille from Designs by Tenille. I knew what I didn't want my blog to look like, but was struggling with what I did want it to look like. She worked her creative magic and created exactly what I had in my head. 

Until next month...


It is hard to believe that summer vacation is over. I begin my 12th year of teaching tomorrow. I am not ready for the summer to end because this has been the best summer yet. I found this quote at the beginning of the summer by Ralph Waldo Emerson and was determined to follow his words this summer.

#1 Be Silly: Koo Koo Kanga Roo
I am not a dancer by any means. I am usually the girl who is standing on the outside watching everyone dance. This summer was about being silly and stepping out of my comfort zone. In July, I went to see Koo Koo Kanga Roo. Neil and Bryan came to an elementary school in Baltimore and played a free show. Some of my amazing friends and colleagues joined me in being silly. The best part of the night was meeting Koo Koo Kanga Roo.  Not only did the guys perform a fast paced, silly show for over an hour, but they made sure to interact with all fans after the show. Great way to get energized for the year! 

My teacher tribe  posing with Koo Koo Kanga Roo.

#2 Be Honest: Ron Clark
Ashley Schroeder from Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd sponsored the Penn State Altoona Education conference in August. Guess who headlined the conference....Mr. Ron Clark from The Ron Clark Academy. He spoke about his life and how he came to write his book Move Your Bus.

If you are looking for honesty, Mr. Clark will give you a good dose of honesty with tons of laughter in between. He spoke of building relationships with your colleagues and students. He described the role of educators as runners, joggers, walkers, or riders on the bus of teaching. His words to all of the educators were to "Do Something" this year.

After his empowering, honest talk, Mr. Clark took time to meet with everyone. He smiled and chatted with us as if were were the only ones in the room. Ashley Schroeder from Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd and Chris Pombonyo from Famous in First (now Fourth) also shared ways to make changes and inspire your colleagues and students. It was a day of honest, productive conversations to better myself as a educator and person.
Let me just tell you when Mr. Ron Clark tells you to "Run!", people you "RUN"! 
My friends, Amanda from Primarily Penguins, Jessica and myself meeting the amazing Mr. Ron Clark.

#3 Be Kind: Maryland Teacher Meet Up
I have been so envious to see all of the amazing teacher meet ups around the U.S. I just wanted one close to me on the east coast so I could begin meeting other teachers. It was just my luck this summer that 4 sweet teacher bloggers in Maryland took on the challenge. Thanks to Susie from Shafer's Shenanigans, Caitlin from Cait's Cool School, Michelle from Pocketful of Primary, and Ashley from The Sassy School Teacher for a wonderful Maryland teacher meet up.

We had a delicious brunch buffet at Langermann's in Canton, amazing giveaways from many generous people, great conversations and laughter while new friendships were formed. I was incredibly lucky to win some great giveaways. Check out my awesome prizes!
A gift basket from Brittany Cooper (Perfectly Posh), gift card to Apples and ABC's TPT store, and a GoNoodle Maximo is my spirit animal t-shrt.

I was able to share the kindess shown to me with Michelle from Pocketful of Primary. She really wanted the Maximo t-shirt, but the organizers didn't put themselves in the drawing. Well after realizing the t-shirt wouldn't fit, I gladly passed it on to Michelle. I was glad to give back to such a caring person. 

I e-mailed GoNoodle because I wanted to buy my own Maximo shirt. Erin from GoNoodle  e-mailed me back to let me know that they are not selling these shirts in their store yet. However GoNoodle showed kindness to me by sending me a Maximo shirt because I showed kindness to Michelle. 

So after the Best Summer Yet....I am making this the Best Year ever. Teachers Pay Teachers is helping by having a Best Year Ever Bonus sale on Monday, August 22nd. My store will also be on sale. Use the code: OneDay to get 28% off your purchases. That's not all! I am giving away a $10 gift card to Teachers Pay Teachers that you can use during the sale. 

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Guess Who's Turning 1?

Wow! I cannot believe that it has almost been a year since I started this blogging adventure. I had been talking about wanting to start my blog for such a long time, but just had not felt confident to do it.Thanks to my great friend and colleague Amanda from Primarily Penguins, I found my confidence.

Last summer, I spent tons of time researching how to create a blog and figuring out a name. After many suggestions and polling of my friends and family, I finally decided on a name. Then, I had to figure out how to create a blog. It was nice to reach out of my comfort zone when creating my blog. However reaching out of my comfort zone meant tons of questions and "what am I doing?" moments. My friend Amanda and a work session at Panera Bread came to the rescue. Amanda was probably tired of all of my questions as I sifted through all of the information.

I set a goal of blogging once a month along with my usual teacher duties. Blogger fail....What was I thinking? This was my first time as a blogger and a new school year was right around the corner.  Year 2 bring more realistic goals for myself.

Boy...birthing a blog is sure hard work, y'all! Many lessons learned and almost one year wiser in the blogging world. It's time to celebrate! Make sure to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below to win this First Day board from Target.

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Giant Uno for the WIN!

Imagine my surprise and delight as I was wandering around Target on a Friday afternoon (what else is a teacher to do during summer break?) to find Giant Uno cards. My teacher brain began making a running list of all the uses for Giant Uno to help me rationalize my NEED to buy this game. Reason #1 Hope King from Elementary Shenanigans and Deanna Jump from Mrs. Jump's Class told me too. Well maybe I should start from the beginning...

In March, I was able to attend the Get Your Teach On conference in Orlando, FL with some amazing friends and co-workers. The conference was put on by Hope King from Elementary Shenanigans and Deanna Jump from Mrs. Jump's Class. I was lucky to spend the day in Deanna's K-1 session. It was a whirlwind of a day filled with tons of ideas and takeaways for me to use in my classroom. 

Now fast forward to the end of June with me wandering around Target on a lazy summer afternoon. A few of the quotes I heard from Deanna Jump and Hope King came rushing back to me. Some of the things I heard most often at the Get Your Teach On conference was "What's Your Hook?" and "Get off Your Seat and Move Your Feet." 

After reflecting on my experience at the Get Your Teach On conference, I know that my "hook" is games. I love a good board or card game so I try to transfer that to my classroom. Children love to play games, and when you can connect learning to a game it makes everything 10 times better. 

Here are some ways I play to get my kiddos off their seats and on their feet while learning this school year with my Giant Uno:

Getting to Know You Uno - Great way to break the ice at the beginning of the school year. Ex. Green cards could be favorite things. If a student selects a green 4, he/she would find 4 friends to tell his/her favorite things too. You can make the categories whatever you determine appropriate for your class.

Uno Math Addition and Subtraction - I would use the cards in a whole group activity before placing them in a center for students to use.

Uno Movin' and Groovin' - Great way to stretch the muscles and brains of your students. My kiddos loved playing this game last year with small regular Uno cards. I can't wait to add to the excitement with these Giant cards. Health is important for all (teacher and students). I make sure to play with my students.

Grouping Students - Students can select cards and then group themselves according to the color or number on the card.

Another great way to utilize these Giant Uno cards is to just PLAY UNO! Games are a wonderful way to build and teach social skills in students.

What's Your Hook?

Teacher Treasures!

Happy Teacher Appreciation week! I cannot believe that I have been able to celebrate being a teacher for the past 11 years with all of my teacher buddies. It is truly a blessing to work in such an amazing profession as teaching. The light in a child's eyes when they grasp a concept is worth the endless hours of prep and paperwork. Thank you to all of my teachers for instilling the treasure of learning in me. Many thanks to all of my teacher buddies (blogging friendships and real life friendships) who inspire me every day to become better at my craft.

After attending the amazing Get Your Teach On conference by Deanna Jump and Hope King, I was challenged  by some of my teaching buddies to find the treasure in my teaching. I realized that revamping board games found at Goodwill or yard sales was one of the treasures I bring to my students.

Games are a great way to bring the fun and excitement to a new learning concept. Board games were such a HUGE part of my childhood.  In my classroom, I use board games as the spark for learning a new concept.

 One of my favorites games as a child was the game Don't Break the Ice. It was just my luck to find one of these games at Goodwill this weekend. I knew that playing Don't Break the Ice would be fun for my students, but I needed to find a way to increase the rigor. I have spent the majority of the third marking period teaching addition and subtraction, but didn't want my students to forget these skills as we begin to work on new skills. Therefore "Icebreaking Addition and Subtraction" was created. 

I enjoyed transforming this board game in to a math center; however my students gave me the best treasure today. As I was facilitating this activity during small group math, some of the comments I heard were "I love this game.", "This one is a keeper.", and "Can you put this in math center?" 

The goal of this game was for my students to practice adding and subtracting. After finding the sum or difference, the student uses the hammer to hammer out the ice cube that reflects the sum or difference. If there is not an ice cube with the sum or difference of the problem, the student has to solve another problem. Challenge – Give the students both the addition and subtraction cards to allow them to practice reading and applying the skill needed for each math symbol.

Click here for your free copy of the "Icebreaking" Addition and Subtraction cards. 

What is your treasure in teaching?
Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!