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A Back to School Story & Win a Giveaway!

A little back to school story and then I will give you info about the giveaway.  I must say I am not typically an emotional eater, however this first three weeks back to school has led me to eat almost an entire container of Haagen Dazs Caramel and Cone ice cream in one sitting.  Our school consolidated with another, and we moved into a new building.  I have sorted and unpacked 50+ boxes of books and math manipulatives that were stacked as high as a human tower of Jenga.  The space that I now have is about 1/6 of the size of the space that I moved from.  We have some new staff members, completely new principals, and I have a new job description (but the same title).  This has been a lot to take in.

One of the things I have found solace in besides ice cream is the familiar children’s faces, and the not so familiar faces, too.  I spend most of my mornings before school begins trying to learn students’ names in the gym.  One particular morning after asking for a name, I met “Darius”.  He was a large 4th grade boy with smiling eyes.  He had on a red polo shirt.

I saw him later in the hallway and he said, “Do you remember my name?”

I thought for a moment and said, “Darius?”

He smiled and nodded.  I told him he had to keep wearing a red shirt, so I could continue to remember his name.  The next day I saw him sitting and eating breakfast.  This time he had on a navy blue shirt.

I smiled and said, “Darius.”

Then I inquired, ” So what do I get?  I remembered your name and you didn’t even have a red shirt on.”

He thought a moment and said with wide outstretched arms, “A hug?”

I said with a chuckle, “I’ll take it!”

Sometimes all it takes is a caring soul to make your day :) !

Now about the giveaway!!!

Take a visit to the following link to win a giveaway.  The giveaway will last until midnight Tuesday, and the winners will be announced Thursday in the Tech Thursday link.  Just click the picture below to register to win.


Back to School Sale!!!

Come on over to check out the Teachers Pay Teachers BOOST back to school sale!  Just in case you missed out on your fabulous items on the previous back to school sale, you get one more chance to get all of those items on your wish list!

Square Boost Sale Advertisement


Encourage Good Character with This Easy Incentive

Last school year we brainstormed things we could do to encourage kindness.  We wanted to recognize good character instead of bad character.  After brainstorming about this, our counselor created the Kindness Tree.  The Kindness Tree was one of my favorite things about school!


Whenever any staff member saw a student doing something kind, then that person could place the student’s name on a colored heart and put it into the Kindness Jar.  The Kindness Jar was stored in the library for staff members to drop the heart into.  Then on Friday the counselor would announce the students’ names who were in the Kindness Jar, and they could come to the office to get a prize.  Each heart went on the Kindness Tree the following week.

As you can see, the tree has all different colors of hearts.  That is because each month the counselor would hand out a different color of hearts.  For example, we received orange hearts in the fall, red hearts at Christmas time, and pink hearts in the spring.  The kids LOVED the tree and wanted to know if they could put hearts on the tree, as well, if they caught someone being kind.  Because students wanted to participate in the Kindness Tree , I thought it would be a great idea if each classroom could have a tree and students could manage putting hearts on it when they saw someone being kind.

Hand Sani Causing Dry Hands? Try This!

Does regular hand sanitizer cause you to have dry hands?  Hand sani causes this problem to me especially in the winter.  My hands get so dry and cracked.  While you are out buying your gallons of hand sanitizer before school starts, you may want to hold off and try Zylast.  I was recently introduced to this new hand sanitizer.

   IMG_1252It lasts for 6 hours on your hands if you don’t wash them within that time.  I know all of you teachers don’t have every moment to run to the bathroom to scrub your hands or even to put on hand sanitizer. Every little bit of germ protection helps!  

When you put the sanitizer on, it is creamy like lotion or conditioner for your hair.  Zylast has no fragrance, so it won’t clash with your perfume!


A little dab will go a long way.  In fact I probably squeezed a little too much out in the picture above.  When you spread Zylast on, it feels creamy and is invisible when you rub it into your skin.  SEE…


This is a great alternative to regular hand sanitizer and I will definitely be using it a LOT in the winter time when my hands get so dry!

The good news about Zylast is…

It reduces:

  • ·         Illness outbreaks by 90%
  • ·         Student illness by 38.9%
  • ·         Teacher illness by 23%

It increases:

  • ·         Student days by nearly 4 per year
  • ·         Teacher days by 2 per year

A small bottle like I have costs $3.79 and an 8 oz. pump costs $11.28.  To me buying an 8 oz. pump for my whole class seems steep because it would be used up quickly if you let children near the bottle.  However, it may be something you consider using when it is winter time and there are a lot of sick children so that you can keep everyone healthy.  I would purchase a bottle for myself just because my hands get so dry, and use it on occasion with my students.  If your school has money to supply Zylast for each teacher, then I would definitely buy this for year around!

You can purchase Zylast here if you would like to order some.  To help with the cost here is a 10% off coupon code!  TBS10

Back to School Sale!

What does “back to school” mean to you?  The smell of new crayons and various other school supplies? OR most importantly a back to school SALE!!  Make sure you head on over to stock up on a few back to school items on Teachers Pay Teachers!  All items in my store will be 28% off!B2S14SaleBanner

T-shirt Giveaway

I’m giving away six T-shirts with shipping paid in the U.S.  They are American Apparel shirts like the ones below and very comfy cotton.  If you want a shirt comment on my Facebook page here with the size you want. Then email me at with your mailing address and the size you want.

The sizes I have available are:

  • 1 small
  • 2 medium
  • 2 large
  • 1 XXL


Oooooh! Look at all the school supplies!

So I went into Office Depot the other day to pick up something I had printed…and then…I noticed the school supplies!  I just can’t help myself!  I walked deeper and deeper into the school supplies until finally I found the tape.  Colored tape, patterned tape, duck tape, masking tape, etc.  Do I need tape?  NO!  But I muuuuuust have some!  Pink tape, polka dotted tape, chevron tape, mustache tape, striped tape–they are all calling my name!




Then I showed some restraint and thought…what would I do with all of this pretty tape?  I had absolutely no idea!  So I left it there :( , but I’ve still been keeping my eyes opened for ideas.  Then I happened across this blog post from Peace, Love, and First Grade.  She shows lots of ways to use pretty tape in your room.  Also, I found My Own Twist on Things did adorable makeovers to her bookshelves and file cabinets with tape and contact paper!  I’m so inspired!

Las Vegas 2014 Conference!

I must admit I was a little nervous about flying somewhere ALL BY MYSELF where I knew NO ONE, but everything turned out great!  I met lots of new people and passed out business cards like a school girl passes out Valentines.  I met Deanna Jump in person.  She is absolutely precious!  I love how she said at the end of her presentation to STAY HUMBLE and STAY GRATEFUL.  I truly think being humble and thankful with the mix of hard work is the secret to achieving just about anything in life.  I am glad she is the “poster child” so to speak for Teachers Pay Teachers!  I also met Paul the founder!  The staff of TPT seem like truly good people!

I saw Jen Jones in person, but didn’t get to meet her. She has all those wonderful fonts which I have purchased!


I also saw Rachel Lynette.  Her practical advice and common sense suggestions really helped me know how to improve my TPT store!  She presented her advice in a very witty way.  My newly made Canadian friend said, “Oh! Isn’t she a firecracker!” I don’t think I could have put it any better!  Rachel expressed that you need to evoke the emotions of your reader to keep them reading your blog with humor, sadness, happiness etc.  Thank you, Rachel!


I also saw Erin Cobb, who was so generous and helpful!  The one thing that she solidified with me is that success is out there, but are you willing to work hard enough to go after it.  I think many people think that TPT is a get rich quick scheme, but the folks who are successful are VERY HARD WORKERS!   I didn’t think to take a picture of her :/!  Hey, it was after lunch!

When we registered for the conference we also got these super nice teacher goodies that I am going to show off this upcoming school year!  I am forever taking a thermos bottle to work so this one will work out great!  The durable canvas tote bag will definitely come in handy when I need to take things home from school.  We also received a very nice teacher pin and bumper sticker.

VegasTrip-8 Here is an up close image of the teacher pin.VegasTrip-9

I also came with goodies of my own.  I had business cards, but I also handed out pens because I figure that people may throw away business cards, but they won’t most likely throw away a good pen!  Plus, imagine the distances a good pen will travel especially in a school!


So my order of gray T-shirts came in or shall I say “asphalt” like the store calls them.  I loved them and they were very comfortable throughout the trip.  Lots of people gave me compliments on them.  I will be giving some shirts away later this month like promised.  I feel so disorganized right now after the trip that I just need a little time to tuck  small chunks of myself back into drawers and closets:)!


This is the hotel the conference was in…well, a small portion of the hotel–the Venetian Pallazzo..   When I asked for directions to the “Pilazzio”, I was quickly corrected by the bell man–”pah-lah-t-zo”.  I had never been to Las Vegas and must say I have never seen such a large hotel.  The only one I can think of that rivals this is the Opryland Hotel in Nashville (a must see), but that doesn’t even come close.  This hotel has a mall, food court, casino, and hotel all rolled into one.  Not to mention it has beautiful architecture, enormous fountains, and gondola rides!


The one touristy thing I wanted to do was see the Bellagio Fountains, so that is what I did.  They ARE a beautiful must see!  I strolled by an alien, Marilyn Monroe, a transformer, a guitarist, and other various street performers along the way but eventually saw them!


I am so glad for the opportunity to have made new friends and to have seen Las Vegas!

My New T-Shirts!

Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh, ya’ll!  I’m so excited because what came in the mail today but my first T-shirt order!  I had no one to show at home when the package came, so I tried to get my dog to look at the shirt in my excitement.   She sniffed it and realized it wasn’t food, so she couldn’t figure out my excitement.


I also placed an order for some “asphalt” or dark gray ones which I think I will like better.  I wasn’t too impressed with the quality of this shirt, so I am glad I only ordered one.  The gray ones are supposed to be a lot better and, guess what?!  I ordered some so I could give some away on the blog later this month.  If  you like this super cute design come back in a couple of weeks to check out the T-shirt giveaway!

Math Work Stations Experiment Part 2

Finally, onto Math Work Stations in a first grade classroom.  Now remember we explored using stations during the last few weeks of school, so they are lacking in beginning of the year meticulous cutesy-ness!  We set the stations up similar to the way we set them up in 3rd grade.  We had several colored tubs arranged in a shelf like organizer.  (I rescued this out of an old junk room which is the catch-all for teachers’ unwanted items.)  This organizer had eight tubs, and that helped us get started.  The teacher also found some tubs she had that she put with these extra tubs.  We placed this in an easy traffic flow area near the wall.  All the materials needed for each station are stored in each station’s tub.


I must say that the above tub organizer was not the best for stations even though it is what we used–it is what we had to work with at the time.  There was a problem with fitting folders or books into the tubs without them bending when placed on the second or third shelf, as you can see in the picture.  Next year, the teacher is going to use tubs on a bookshelf instead like the 3rd grade teacher.

Because first grade uses literacy centers, the teacher just used the same pocket chart to organize students’ names for math  work stations (remember we are making this simple with only a few weeks left in the year).  Unlike literacy centers which name the station, she chose to just number the stations for the students on the wall and on the tub.  This is what Debbie Diller suggests.

Brightly colored numbers are also placed around the room to guide students into going to the correct place in the room for their math station.  You can see the bright yellow number below.


 Now originally when we put the stations together, I told the teacher I would write the “I Can” statements on the bottom of the tubs.  I did this with illustrations.  Now, Debbie Diller’s book has the “I Can” statements written on the lids of tubs, and a math coach I work with also has the directions labeled on the tub lids.


However, after the first grade teacher saw what the third grade teacher had done by putting the “I Can” statements on the inside of the folder, she, too, opted for putting the “I Can” statements and directions in folders.  She numbered the folders only.  This way the inside of the folder can be switched out without having to buy new folders.



So here are some of the stations and games that we put into place for the 1st graders.  Again,with first grade the target of the stations was fluency with number facts and with counting.

Station 1 was simple and easy–Reflex Math Fact Practice–addition, of course, for 1st grade.

MathStations1stgrade-01711 copy

Station 2

I already showed you the “I Can” statements for Station 2 above in the blue bucket with Ten Sly Piranhas.  Kids could read the book, they could act out the book on the mat with the cubes, or they could write their own Piranhas word problems.  The alligator on the work mat is just something I found on Google images and cut out.


Station 3

This station revolves around counting and number patterns.


One choice the students have is to read 100 Days of Cool by Stuart Murphy.  This book is about counting to 100.  The second choice they have is to use one of four different colored sets of number cards and fill the pocket chart in.  The colored numbers are differentiated to suit both high and low learners.  For example, the white cards span the numbers from 21-120, the green cards span the numbers from 121-220, the orange cards span the numbers from 221-320, and finally the turquoise cards are the most challenging and span the numbers from 921-1,020.  Students select the cards that will best suit their needs.



Above are some cards that the students were filling into the pocket chart.  I chose this picture because the students soon self corrected and noticed that 309 and 318 cannot be in the same column.  Looking at this picture, I am just now realizing that the kids will have to move the numbers down because the rest of the numbers are less than 300.  The kids can grapple with this and figure it out.  However, I’m thinking that writing what number to start with on the baggie would be a better idea.

The above number cards came from a product I made when I realized students cannot count past 100 with a hundreds chart.  The last time I checked the number cards that are sold commercially only go to 120 now.    I’m posting a link to the number cards I made below in case you would like to save yourself the time from making them to fit your chart just right.  The cards come in red on white, white on red, and black on white so that you can make the cards any color you want (like above).

Screen Shot 2013-09-22 at 3.42.47 PM

Finally, the last choice for Station 3 is for students to put together number puzzles which are basically just 100′s charts that have been cut apart.   First, you could try out these whole class (shown below) which are on TPT before having students do them independently in the math station.  For a station, I recommend that the chart be cut apart already because students won’t have time to use scissors in a math station.


Station 4

Station 4 reinforces adding and subtracting one from a number with the story Ten Flashing Fireflies.  The students could read the book, act it out with yellow cubes on the jar work mat, or write their own story problems about Ten Flashing Fireflies in their work station journals.



I got the jar clip art from…you guessed it…Google images.  I think there is an actual jar picture in one of the Math Solutions books, but it was just quicker to find a jar on Google images.  This book is one of my favorites in which the fireflies are being gathered one by one in the jar from the night sky.  The illustrations are compelling.

Station 5

In stations 5 through 12 we included the same activities with the intention to change them out later if the students became bored with the activities.  These stations dealt with adding and subtracting sums of 10 and sums of 20–namely, where we needed the most work, fluency.


The first choice students could work on was “Sums of 10″.  Their second choice was Differences and Dice.  Both of these games can be found in Debbie Diller’s Math Work Stations book in the section about Addition and Subtraction stations.  Also, students had the choice to play Close to 20 which helps them become fluent with larger sums.  The Close to 20 game and score sheet came from a TERC math book.  However, you can easily find Close to 20 instructions and score sheets on the internet in multiple places.  In Close to 20, students  pull out five number cards and try to build a sum as close to 20 as they can.  Close to 20 can be easily differentiated to Close to 100 or Close to 1000 for advanced learners.  The wonderful thing about this station is that every game uses number cards 0-9.  There are also other games that could be incorporated in this same station such as Tens Go Fish, which uses number cards as well.  Later on after math stations were established, the teacher did incorporate the Tens Go Fish Game (another TERC math goody) into this center.  If you plan on doing math centers at any level, number cards are a great thing to have on hand.

MathStations1stgrade-01722The first grade teacher also decided to go with spiral bound notebooks for the students to carry around if they had any writing to do at a math station.  Above shows a student’s recordings of the Close to 20 game.

After experimenting with Debbie Diller’s Math Work Stations at the end of the year, both the 1st and 3rd grade teacher opted for journals that students could carry with them as opposed to community journals.  Also, both teachers next year will include the “I Can” statements and game instructions inside of  paper folders.  My goal in general for our Math Work Stations is that we improve differentiation in each center for low, average, and above average learners.

I hope you can use some of these content ideas for stations in your classroom next year!

You may also like to read this post about our 3rd grade math station experiment:


or this addition/subtraction freebie for math stations…

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