Classroom Lighting Alternatives

I detest fluorescent lights...and as a result I create children who do too!

When I worked as a pullout teacher in computer lab, we would shut them off everyday. Mostly because we were all staring at computer screens and the lights just made it too bright. As the year wore on my 3rd, 4th and 5th graders would just know to shut them off when it was time for their Intervention groups. I was out one day and the sub was not pleased when they shut them off...perhaps I should have mentioned that in the sub plans!

Now that I have my own class this year, and due to the fact that the projector is running all day, the no lights policy has started yet again! We tried just shutting off one set each day (they are panel lights) but no matter which set we tried it was just too bright! Shutting them all off was a solution on bright sunny days, but when winter started it became too dark.

I have two small lamps
that I got last year from Walmart, but they only use 40 watt bulbs, so that is not very helpful!

I went on an endless quest scouring the internet and I finally found these!
They are at Bed Bath & Beyond and cost $39.99. I love how the shades are on arms that let you move them around, and I truly love how each one uses a 60 watt bulb! You can have all five lights on, or just two or three depending on how you turn the switch.

I bought one to start with, but ended up getting a second one a few days later. I put them on either side of my chalkboard and they are amazing! Now it is bright enough that we can have the lights off!

I tried to snap a few picks before I left for vacation but in my haste they came out too blurry! I will share some when I go back. I am so thrilled with how well they are going to work! For now I have the Instagram pic I took in my room when I set up the first lamp!
What kind of lighting do you use in your classroom?

Student New Year's Resolutions

My students and I have been having a lot of discussions about resolutions and goals for the new year. The biggest areas we need to focus on are being responsible for your work and cleanliness.

I have a few students who always go above and beyond to clean our room, but most times it isn't even their mess they are cleaning! Of course I, like all teachers I am sure, have several students who misplace work or frequently forget to pass in assignments.

Rather than just having my students brainstorm a goal, I decided to make a pack that would help them to organize their thoughts and self-assess to see what areas they need improvement in.
There are two checklists in this set - one for school goals and one for home goals. First they will read through and check off any goals they have already met.
Next, they choose 1 goal that they did not check off. If they have more than one, they will look closely to see which is the most important at this time.


Included are 2 graphic organizers, one with a sentence starter and one without. 
Lastly there are 2 writing templates; 1 goal and a 2 goal. I like to differentiate writing assignments by giving my class the option of completing a graphic organizer, or a writing paper for their final copy. 

I made the organizer and the writing paper coordinating, so they can be displayed on a bulletin board with the 2014 sign! I think this will be a great way to help my students to narrow down the areas of school and home that they can improve on. 

If you are interested in purchasing this item you can find it in my shop here, or just click on the pictures above!

I will be giving one of these sets away, using the random number generator, to anyone who leaves a comment below telling how it will help their class. Don't forget to include your email address! I will choose a winner this Saturday!

Student Christmas Craft

I truly adore those glitter ornaments that are all over Pinterest during the holiday seasons. I especially love them because the glitter is only on the inside. Whilst I am smitten with all things glitter, like everyone else, I detest when it ends up everywhere.

I wanted a simple craft to make with my students this year. Something easy that they can give to their families on the holiday. I figured I would give these a try!

Here's what you need:
Ornaments - I got these plastic balls at Michaels for 70% off! I love the flattened circle look!
 Glitter - I went with Martha Stewart's, it is so fine and sparkly!!
 Pledge floor care, so the glitter has something to stick to!
Clear bags and iridescent star garland to wrap them up.

I made my sample last night and it was wicked easy. All you have to do is remove the top of the ornament and pour in a little bit of the floor care.

Then, I covered it with a paper towel (the mouths on these ornaments are a bit wider than the traditional ball shape, but I love the style of these!)

I swirled the liquid around until the entire ball was coated and then drained the excess back into the bottle.

Next, I poured in the glitter and rolled/shook the ball until it was coated. If you have any excess glitter you can pour that back into the container too. I did mine in small bits, so I didn't have any extra.

Here is my finished result!
I would recommend letting them dry for awhile before putting the top back on. I put mine on a bit too soon and it scratched off a bit of the glitter near the tip.

I wanted to keep the wrapping simple since they are so fabulous looking!
My sister Kristen suggested the stars to tie them off and I must say, as usual she has fabulous taste! They look so cute, I know my students and their families will love them!

What is your craft project for your class this year?

Nail Art - Christmas Lights!

I decided to be brave this year and try Christmas lights. I was obsessed with all the pictures I saw of them on Pinterest last year, but I never thought I could make it work.

I chose to do it on my left hand only, my right hand was red with a red and green statement nail. I knew I had a chance of painting the lights using my right hand - but there was no way would it work with my left!!

For this manicure I used: (click for links)
Zoya Ornate Holiday Collection 2012 - Ziv, Blaze and Logan 
Maybelline Color Show - Porcelain Party
Maybelline Color Show - Onyx Rush

I used art brushes for the cord and my dotting tools for the light bulbs. After I put on a drop of the red, green or gold, I just dragged the dotting tool down a teensy bit to give it a bulb-ish tip.

Today I am going to give the Reindeer another try. I really loved how it came out last year.

What's on your nails this holiday season?

Nail Art - Nude with Glitter part 2

I have been a bit lazy about my nails lately. My new job has kept me busy - so I have been taking the easy way out most weeks. As in a lot of crackle and statement nails!

This week I wanted to try out loose glitter again. I adore sparkly nails, but, like everyone else I am sure, detest removing glitter polish! It takes way too long.

Last time I tried loose glitter it lasted the whole week and was extremely easy to remove! I decided it was time to give it another try.

For this manicure I used: (Click the name for links!)
Maybelline Color Show - Canary Cool
Loose ultra fine glitter from Michaels

I loved how the glitter came out this time, and I finally found a way to be a lot neater when using it! I put a teeny bit in the cap I store my glitter in and then shook it over each nail. It was much easier to control how much glitter came out and a lot less messy!

What's on your nails this week?

Word Study Opening = Word of the Day!



Now that I am teaching 5th grade, I have been getting a lot of use out of my Word of the Day set. We have Intervention prior to Word Study, so they are straggling into class over the course of a five minute period. This activity is a great opening for our Word Study block each day!

My students record the word each day in their Reader's Notebook as soon as they come back from Intervention. This keeps it from getting too chaotic when they all return. First they write down the word and the definition, then they create their own context sentence.

Once everyone has arrived we read over the word together. I choose a different student for each part (one for the word, one for the definition and one for the context) and many students like to share out their context sentences too. This allows almost everyone to have a chance to participate throughout the week. I have found that by creating their own context sentences they are forming a better understanding of what each word means.

I created a free template that can be used to record these words each day, in case you would rather record them on paper than in a journal.
If you are interested just click the picture or the link down below!

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxaPW-0r5sRPMmZNMFl0S3Vpejg/edit?usp=sharing

My Word of the Day set is available for a new low price!

Have a great weekend!

Class Dojo Point Perks!

When I found out I was going to be teaching 5th grade this year, I immediately knew I wanted to try out Class Dojo. I've read all about it on everyone's blogs and I love how it focuses on the good behavior, rather than just pointing out the bad.

I introduced it on the first day and my students were smitten! They loved how they were able to personalize their own monsters and they are obsessed with the sounds it makes when the gain (and lose!) points.

At first the system was going great, but suddenly some students amassed a ton of points and began asking for rewards. I was a bit stuck as to how to reward my students without going broke!

Then, I had a solution! We have 4 tech devices in our class, an ipad, laptop, desktop and a kindle. We also have five seating options:
2 zebra cushions (Staples) 2 Chevron pillows (Society6) and one bean bag chair (Walmart.)

At the beginning of the year I made a weekly schedule assigning these items to a student for one day. Then my numbers went from 21 to 26 and this became way to much to manage!

My solution was this: each Monday during morning meeting we gather to "trade in" our Dojo points.

25 points = line leader, chevron pillow or kindle for the week.
50 points = zebra chair, bean bag or tech for the week.
75 points = choose your own seat.
100 points = free homework pass!

I must say this is way easier for me to manage and a lot more rewarding for my students. Now they want to earn points because they know they will have a week long reward if they do! 

I do wish that Class Dojo let you subtract a large number of points at once, rather than having to reset students to zero and add points back one by one. I did email them about this and I am hoping it is a feature they might add in the future!

What do you use for classroom management? 

New Job!!

I am officially a fifth grade teacher at the school I have been working at for several years as a part time Title 1 teacher!! :) :) I have been with the class since the start of the year, but I wanted to wait until everything was official before I said anything.

I absolutely love the school I work at and could not be more excited!! I took a ton of room pictures to share, but alas, they are a bit blurry! However I am so excited I shall share two anyway!

My whiteboard! This was a yucky green chalkboard but it has now been converted to an amazing wonderful whiteboard by one of my colleagues! She is the best! I tried a new kind of whiteboard paper this year and it is a lot easier to put on. However,  it needs to meet at the seams, rather than overlap. That is where my awesome friend came in. I couldn't get it to line up right so she fixed it for me while I worked on this:
My updated dry erase tables, sans zebra duct tape. I went with 2 inch electrical tape for the edge this year. This just keeps the contact paper on securely. The duct tape was way too difficult to remove by the end of the year.

Have you ever tried building your own whiteboards?

All links are affiliate links.

Things I Love - August Edition and Giveaway Winners

Here are some of my latest loves for the month of August. Links will be at the end of the post!

Flip Flops

I adore these flip flops by Reef and I will miss wearing them dearly when I am back in school next month! Please excuse the sand on the silver ones, I had just gotten back from the beach!!


Rings
I have added a few new rings to my collection this summer! I found this adorable fox ring on Etsy. I needed a ring for my right hand that wouldn't be too cumbersome since I am a righty.
These are from a stacked ring set I got from Macy's. There were four rings in the set, but I am not feeling the fourth. It was way to pointy for me to wear daily!! I must admit I am totally infatuated with the zipper ring. It is beyond cute!

My new purse!! -
Back in July I blogged about handbags I dreamed of buying. I am really trying to stick to my budget - which is pretty much a no shopping at all budget!!! However the other day I was out at Marshalls and I saw it. It is one of the bags I blogged about last month!!

Originally it costs $70, the one I blogged was on sale for $44.95. But Marshalls had it for......$29.99!! However it gets better! I still had $15.01 leftover on a gift card my sister gave me for my birthday awhile back. So, I managed to snag the handbag I had adored for months for $14.98!!

For your shopping pleasure - links!
Reef flip flops
Fox ring - rose gold (it also comes in gold and silver.)
Material Girl - two-tone stackable rings
Urban Expressions - Le Petit Mini Satchel (mint)
Lastly I have the giveaway winners for the Ending Blends Games! Congratulations to Wendy and Lori! I will be emailing you ladies a copy of the game tonight!

So tell me, what are you loving this month?

Ending Blends Games


I have always noticed, that when working on blends with my students I tend to focus on the beginning ones the most, when the ending blends are just as tricky!

If I Wasn't On A Budget...Dresses & Winners

I adore dresses and these are the ones I have been coveting lately!! Click the dress names for links!
1.  Ellen Tracy - Sleeveless Pleather Tweed Sheath
2.  Trina Turk - The Birds Dress
3.  Calvin Klein - Sleeveless Faux Leather Trim
4.  Belted Houndstooth Dress
5.  Evan Picone - Cap Sleeve Printed Faux Wrap
6. Anne Klein - Short Sleeve Printed Sheath


Next up I have the Sight Word of the Day Pack Winners!! 


I will be sending the file off to you lovely ladies today!

Now, back to the fashion!

If I could choose any two I think it would be numbers 3 and 4. Though I do adore number 6 too! Which two (or more!) would you choose? Let me know in the comments below!




Nail Art - Feather Manicure and Last Day of BTS Sale!

I finally mustered up enough bravery to try a feather manicure before I went on vacation a few weeks ago! I bought these feathers from Michaels:
I chose a tiny striped and polka dot feather to start with. I knew I was only going to do one nail on each hand since it was my first attempt!

Here we have my left and right hands!
For this manicure I used: (Click the name for links!)
Maybelline Color Show - Canary Cool
OPI - Mauve-Lous Memories

I like the way the pink compliments the brown in the feathers a lot!

Now for the feathering. I painted my nails and let them dry completely. Then I applied a clear topcoat and placed my feather on top. Next came the tricky part, trimming off the excess feather. This is incredibly difficult to do to yourself, especially if you are a right-handed person cutting left hand!!


I could not get my feathers trimmed as close to my nails as I preferred them to be, at least not with scissors. I attempted to use nail clippers but was a bit scared about wrecking my manicure. The feathers were just too soft and fluffy to cut!

I gave up temporarily and applied a topcoat. That made the bit of feathers at the tip of my nail harder, so I was able to cut and file them away later.

Overall I love how they looked, but I think next time I will cut my feathers to nail size before I start. Even if it means that they will be a bit small for my nail, I think it will be better than having all that excess!!


Don't forget tonight is the last night of TpT's Back to School Sale! My entire shop is 28% off when you use the promo code: BTS13
Tomorrow I will be picking a winner for the Pre-Primer Sight Word of the Day giveaway! Click here if you would like to enter!
 Have a great night!

Sight Word of the Day Pre-Primer Set

I love using the Word of the Day with my 2nd - 5th graders. It is a great way to build vocabulary and explore new words! I wanted to incorporate a daily word challenge into my first graders routine too, but I decided sight words would fit their needs the best!

This set has all 40 of the pre-primer words with context sentences. The sight word is green in each sentence to allow students to isolate the word in each sentence.

Each day I will choose a new sight word to hang underneath the display sign. I like to use these words in the opening when my students are settling into Intervention.
I wanted to include a challenge portion as well to increase sight word exposure. There are two ways to complete this challenge. The first is the whole group tally chart. I am going to laminate these two charts and hang them next to the daily sight word.

Each day I will write the new word on the line. I think I will velcro a dry erase marker on the wall, so it will be easy to access when they find a word. Each time the students find the word they may add a mark to the tally chart. During the closing we will count up how many words they found!
If a whole group chart does not work well for your students, I also included individual tally books. These books are 41 pages including the cover and measure 3.8 x 5 inches. Each word has its own page so students can conduct their own search. I wanted to make it small for several reasons; it will not be in the way on their desks, and it will fit easily into book bags or bins!

We send our Intervention groups back to their classroom teachers with a bag that has books we have been reading together. This tally book is small enough for them to carry in the bag as well, and then they can continue the search throughout the day!

I think this increased exposure to these words will help to familiarize my students with these tricky sight words!

This set is available in my TpT shop!

Digraph Games with Short Vowels




Digraphs are always a tricky thing for my little ones, especially when they appear at the end of the words! Then there is the dreaded ch and sh confusion! I wanted to isolate individual digraphs in this set, allowing my students to focus on the sound each digraph makes.
This set has 7 game boards:

The 1st game board has ch beginning words: (ex: chip, chat and chunk.)

The 2nd game board has sh beginning words: (ex: shred, shack and shop.)

The 3rd game board has th beginnings: (ex: thing, thrill and thud.)

The 4th game board has wh beginnings: (ex: when, whiz and whack.)

The 5th game board has ch endings: (ex: lunch, switch and match.)

The 6th game board has sh endings: (ex: hush, dish and flash.)

The 7th game board has th endings: (ex: path, moth and filth.)
I included a score sheet and a sample score sheet that can be placed in the center to help students understand how to fill it in. I give my students 1 point for each word they use correctly in a sentence. This helps me to quickly see if they are understanding the words they are decoding.
Gray scale copies of all the game boards, rules of play, and score sheets are included as well!

This set is available in my TpT shop!

Nail Art - Needle Drag


Needle drag is one technique I have wanted to try for awhile, but I was never really sure how to go about it. Then I saw this photo on a nail website (click here to see her picture) and I was amazed at how easy it looked!

First you paint your base color and let it dry all the way. Then you choose your swirl colors. I went with a purple base then coral and green for my swirls. All the names and links will be at the end of this post!
After my purple was dry I place two big dots of each color on my nail, then I got my "needle."
I guess you could use a real needle, but I like this brush because of its long handle. You can't really tell from the picture but it has a long, skinny metal tip and no bristles. So basically a really long needle with a less pokey tip!

Then you drag the needle through the two drops of color until you get a pattern you like! I did have to add a bit extra polish on some of the nails if I didn't like how the pattern was going.
I kind of wish that I added a darker color into the mix - or maybe I should have swirled those three colors on a white basecoat. I think it may have helped it to pop a bit more!

I was surprised by how many days it lasted without chipping too! I was afraid the heavier layers might chip easily, but with the Insta-Dry and a topcoat it lasted for a long time!

For this manicure I used:
Rimmel Lasting Finish - Wild Orchid
Sally Hansen Insta Dri - Snappy Sorbet
Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure - Grass Slipper 

What's on your nails this week?