Saturday, August 1, 2015

Making the most of the Back to School Sale

Have you heard the big news?  It is time for TpT's annual Back to School sale!  During the sale, everything in my store will be 20% off.  Use promo code BTS15 to save an additional 10%.

I am a serious shopper and love to get the most bang for my buck.  Here are a few of my tips and tricks for getting the most out of your TpT sale.

1)  Earn TpT credits by leaving feedback!
Go through all your previous purchases and make sure you have left feedback.  You can use your points to save even more off the sale prices.  It is easy to see what items you have not left feedback for.  Just go to "My Purchases" and then sort items by "Needs Feedback".  SO easy and this could save you big time!
2)  Go through your wishlist.
This is the time to clean out that wishlist.  Maybe you put something on there and you have changed your mind.  Maybe you put something wonderful on there and forgot all about it.  This is the time to prioritize and snag products while they are discounted.

3)  Plan ahead!  
Site-wide sales don't come around often.  Think of all the things that will be coming up...Veteran's Day, Thanksgiving, apples, and Halloween just to name a few.  This is the time to stock up for things you know you will need in the future.

I want to show you some of the new things I have in my store.  I have added some great management tools since the last sale.  If you don't have these, you should check them out.

This set is perfect for working on sustained silent reading.  Check out this video to see a preview of it in action.  

This set includes a variety of themes and I will keep adding more until I get themes and holidays for the entire year.  It currently has:
St. Patrick's 
Click here to check out Reading Stamina Timers and Tools in my store.

This set already includes 60 themes to keep student behavior on-track and it keeps growing!  I will keep adding themes to this set until it reaches the maximum file size allowed on TpT.  I use these EVERYDAY with my kids.  We use the build tools while I run reading groups.  We use the take away tools at clean-up.  These were too of the worst times of the day for me and now they are a breeze.  I can literally praise and correct behaviors without saying a word.  This is a MUST!  To read more about Classroom Management Life Savers, click here.  To add them to your wishlist, click here.

This set includes 60 games!  I love using these games while I assess students one-on-one.  They keep the whole class engaged so that I can really focus on the kiddos I am assessing.  Each game takes about 20 minutes.  Almost every day I get feedback from teachers telling me that their kids have never been as quiet as they are during Watch, Think, Color games.  I have many bundles in my store, but this set is discounted 50% during the month of August.  That discount along with the 28% you can save during the big sale makes this a KILLER deal!  Click here to check these games in my store.  

4.  Calendar Math with Interactive Calendar Notebooks
This set is brand spankin' new and I am SOOOO excited about it.  It includes everything I want in calendar activities - ten frames, tallies, graphing, patterns, number sense.  It includes a PowerPoint and notebooks for students to follow along at their seats.  If you are bored of the same old calendar routine, be sure to check this out.  It is going to be so much fun!

Thanks for visiting my blog.  I hope you have the best new school year ever!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Facebook for Parents - 5 Ways to Improve Parent Communication

I tested this idea all year and am SO excited to finally blog about it!  I always ask myself how I can use tech to make my life as a teacher easier.  It is my goal and my passion.  This year, I decided to create a Facebook group for my parents.  I announced it at my open house at the beginning of the year.  Parents seemed excited and willing to give it a try.  I made a sign up sheet to get email addresses for everyone interested in joining.  I created a group and made sure it was a closed group.  This keeps it private.  We are just posting info for our class.  We used this group all year and I was amazed how much it helped parent communication.  Here are five ways I used our Facebook group this year.
1) Homework -
Each week, I took pictures of my class newsletter and posted them.  This had all the info about current events and the spelling words for the week.  Parents were able to message me if they did not understand something on the homework.  If they lost their homework packet, they could easily go to our group page to find it.  This made my life easier because normally I have several requests for extra copies of homework that has been misplaced.
2)  Student Recognition -
Parents love to see their kids getting kudos and praise.  Every mama and daddy know that!  It was so easy for me to take pictures of kids with creative art projects or great writing and post them to our group.  I have a star student each week and was able to post their picture with a little blurb about how awesome they are.  Each week, I also have the King or Queen of Handwriting.  I give them a crown to wear for the week and let them start on light blue every day on our behavior chart.  It was so easy to take pictures of these kids and give them a little extra recognition.  My class is subscribed to Raz-Kids.  Each week, I would announce the Raz-Reader of the week.  Once I started announcing this on the group, I noticed a drastic increase in time spent on the site.  I kept a little checklist to make sure all kids were recognized and that I was spreading the love evenly.
3) Coordinating Parties and Donations -
Have you ever had three sets of cupcakes show up for a party?  By posting on our group, parents were able to let each other know what they were bringing to our party.  It really helped prevent the surplus cupcake problem and parents were way more involved.  When I was not getting donations, I just posted a picture of what I had bought and parents quickly chimed in to help out too.
4)  Pictures and Videos -
Parents love, love, love to see pictures of their kids, but some are not comfortable with their child's pictures being posted online.  This is a CLOSED group.  The only ones who can see our posts are other parents.  I posted pictures like CRAZY!  Parents loved being at work and seeing a picture of what was happening in the classroom at that very moment.  In the beginning of the year, we had a really bad storm that caused the power to go out.  Parents were worried and I immediately started getting messages.  I broke out some fun finger flashlights and we were reading with them.  Parents were so relieved to see that their kids were fine and having fun.  That was probably the day that we all loved our little Facebook group the most.  Parents also share videos with me and other parents.  I always send home a stuffed animal with the kids.  I used to send home a disposable camera.  THe problems with this are, they are becoming hard to find these days and often when I got the pictures developed there were like 12 pictures of the ceiling.  (First graders are not the best photographers.)  Now, parents post pictures of the stuffed animal visiting their home.  We get to see them right away - no more waiting for the camera to get full.  I had a parent help at field day, take videos, and post them for all the parents who could not make it.  We hatched butterflies this spring.  Of course they emerged over the weekend.  Don't they always?  I stopped by school to check on them and actually caught one on video.  I posted to our group and the kids saw it on Saturday.  They were so excited and I was happy they didn't miss it.
5)  Keeping Families Informed -
You know when kids go home and parents ask "what did you learn today?" and kids say "nuthin'"?  I would write things like "Today we learned about spiders.  Ask your child about it!" or "Tonight, ask your student to tell you how the water cycle works."  I had a couple grandmas who live out of town in my group.  This was fun because they were able to see pictures of their grandkids' classroom, know what they were learning, and feel more connected to their lives.

I took some screenshots from my group to give you ideas and let you see how I used this with my parents.

I have NEVER had better parent communication than I had this year.  It was AWESOME!!!  I will never teach without a class Facebook group again.   As you plan your new school year, I really encourage you to make a class FB group.  If you have any other ideas or suggestion for using Facebook in the classroom, please share them in the comments.
Until next time,

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

End of the Year

I can't believe the year is over!  I am so bummed about it.  My class this year was absolutely fantastic!  I hate to see them leave me.  We had a really great year together.  I wanted to make the end of the year extra special for this group so we have had a lot of fun over the past couple of weeks.  Here is a little re-cap of how we finished off our year.
Every year, when there are only 10 days of school left, I blow up 10 balloons and put a fun surprise in each balloon.  These surprises are silly and usually things that don't cost money and I don't need to prep for.  Some of the ideas I have used in the past include: sit by a friend day, sit anywhere you want for the rest of the year (this usually gets saved until we only have 4-5 days left), eat lunch in the classroom, board game day, no shoes day, movie party, popcorn while we work, everybody gets to pick out of the treasure box (this ensures that no kid leaves without ever having a chance to pick from the treasure box), popsicles at recess, and free centers.

I love reading end of the year books to my kiddos.  Here are some of my favorites:
No More Pencils, No More Books, No More Teacher's Dirty Looks!The Night Before Summer Vacation        Last Day Blues
I always make an end of the year DVD for my kids with pictures from our year together.  I have used several different brands of slideshow software.  The one that I used the last two years is by Roxio.  I always add a soundtrack with some songs we have had in our Morning Songs.  (Don't know about morning songs?  Click here to read about them!)  We always watch the slideshow on our last day together and then the kids take a copy home with them.  
Did I mention how much I love my kiddos this year?  I wanted to do something a little extra for them so this year I made them some summer swag.  I grabbed almost all of this stuff from the dollar store.  Each kid has a bucket with a note that says "I dug being your teacher", a couple books, reading logs, ideas for parents about preventing summer slide, pencils, bookmarks, bubbles that say "you blew me away", goldfish crackers "It is o-FISH-ally summer", and notepads.

 Here are some freebies and resources to make your own end of the year swag!
I used clip art from Graphics from the Pond to make bookmarks for all my kids.  There is such a variety of images that I was able to find a kid who looked like each one of my students.  I just added their names, laminated, and cut them out.  To download your own bookmarks, click here.
I also made some little printables for the buckets, goldfish, and bubbles.  To download those, click here. 
I found some terrific reading logs on TpT from Casey Hallett.  Click here to visit her store and download them.  (Don't forget to leave feedback!)
Last year, I came across the cutest idea from Read Like a Rock Star.  She had a bingo game with places to read.  I knew I just HAD to go back and find that resource for my buckets.  Click here to visit her blog and grab your own.  It is adorable! P.S. If you are not following this blog, you REALLY should be! She has so many fun ideas!
The last thing I included in my buckets was a letter to parents about preventing summer slide.  I found this letter on the Make, Take, & Teach blog. Click here to download your own letter to parents.
If you are still looking for more ideas for end of the year, check out my pinterest board.

I am still in denial that the year is over.  My kiddos will come in tomorrow morning to pick-up report cards and grab their goodies before they are off to second grade.  I hope they all show up so that I can squeeze them one more time this year.  No more balloons.  No more days.  No more first graders...until August!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

I Teach K Conference Giveaway! 4 Days, 2 Winners!

Our school year is nearing an end so we should be thinking about summer, but I am actually thinking about next year.  One of my FAVORITE ways to get pumped about the new school year, is by attending the SDE conference in July.  There are so many fabulous presenters and I always get so excited to get into my classroom and lay the groundwork for a new year!  This will be my third year having a booth in the exhibit hall and my second year presenting at the conference.  I am giving away two tickets into the conference.  Each four day registration is valued at $599 - making this one of my biggest giveaway EVER!  Woo-Hoo!

Here are the details:
The conference will be in Las Vegas, July 6-9.  It is held at the Venetian.  Have you been to the Venetian?  It is heaven!!!

Could this get any better???

Okay, we probably won't actually go on the gondola together, but I couldn't resist making this goofy picture.  If you do win (and I am crossing my fingers for YOU), please stop by and visit me in the exhibit hall.  I would love to say hi and get a picture with you.  

OK!  Finally time to enter!  Good luck!  
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Viva Las Vegas Giveaway from The Primary Chalkboard

 Can you picture it now?  YOU in LAS VEGAS? 

How about YOU in LAS VEGAS attending a one day session of the SDE conference?

Primary Chalkboard is giving away YOUR CHOICE of a 1 day session at SDE!

So, will it be Singapore Math, Differentiated Instruction, I Teach K, I Teach 1st, or the newly added I Teach 2nd? 

How fun is that?

BUT, that's not all, we're also including a $25 gift card to the SDE bookstore, CRYSTAL SPRINGS.

So, NOW can you picture YOURSELF in VEGAS?

Oh, you say you need money for airfare, hotel accommodations, or just some spending money while you are here?  Well, we've got that covered, too.  How about  
to help you out with that?!?!?

NOW, can you picture YOURSELF in VEGAS?

Here's how to enter for a chance to win.

Hop through our Facebook pages and collect a tip for your (possible) visit to Vegas.
Be sure to "like" each page as you hop through so that you can collect the tip.
Each tip will have a number on a playing card.
Add the numbers together and enter the sum  on the Rafflecopter on the Primary Chalkboard blog for a chance to win.
Be sure to add a comment and include #primarychalkboardsendmetovegas.

For an extra chance to win this, take a selfie, post it on IG with #primarychalkboardsendmetovegas 
Don't forget to tag us in your picture! @primarychalkboard

The winner will be picked on April the evening of April 5th.

A HUGE thank you to SDE (Staff Development for Educators) for their kind and generous donation!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Today was my third day back from school since spring break.  I didn't even realize how  much I missed my sweet kiddos until I saw them on Monday morning.  I have some great kids this year.  I came to school SO excited about No Worksheets Wednesday and it did not disappoint!

We are getting ready for our standardized tests.  BORING!  I absolutely hate test prep!  That is why I made a MOVE IT especially for test prep.  This PowerPoint shows questions similar to those that the kids will see on the big test.  My kiddos use dry erase boards to show me their answers.  I love this because I can do an immediate assessment and give feedback.  After we do a few questions, we get out of our seats and MOVE IT!  The theme of this MOVE IT is "Test Prep is Awesome".  Guess what?  It really is!  Brain breaks have animated timers and music.  We walk around and high five our awesome classmates and tell them "You are awesome!"  We also do lazy 8s and an elbow-knee cross crawl inspired by brain gym.  Pretty awesome, right?

This is SO-O-O-O much more fun than the boring test prep we used to do!  It took a ton of copies to prep sheets out of my old resource book.  Now, our test prep takes NO materials.  Click here to see 1st grade ELA MOVE IT and click here to see 1st grade Math MOVE IT.

In math we are reviewing geometry and are working on slides, turns, and flips.  We tossed our workbook page for a fun hands-on project.  OH YA!!!  That's what I'm talking about!   

 I gave my kiddos a bunch of pattern blocks and three sheets of white paper.  They wrote "slide", "flip", and "turn" on the pages.  Next, they traced the pattern blocks to create their own slides, flips, and turns.
I stapled the three finished pages together to form a triangle and hung them from the ceiling.  (Wall space is minimal in room 203, so we do lots of hanging art!)  I love making these triangular mobiles because they are SO easy.  As an added bonus, when the AC kicks on, they start spinning!  My firsties had WAY more fun with this project than they would have with the workbook page and got a lot more practice than they would have with the pencil and paper.

Today was a great day in my room and I am so grateful to be able to share it with you.  Thanks for reading.

Until next time,

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

3 Fun Ideas for No Worksheet Wednesday (Week 2)

Today was the easiest "No Worksheet Wednesday" ever!  I am on spring break and I was not even tempted to bust out a worksheet.  Hahaha!  Even though I am on break, I still wanted to participate in the linky.  I am going to share a new idea and a couple oldies but goodies.  Here are three fun worksheet-free ideas:

1) Interactive Hundreds Charts
I have made a bunch of interactive charts that work on your smartboard or projector.  There are a few different themes and skills, but I just made a new one today and am offering it for a limited time as a freebie in my TpT store so I definitely wanted to share it with you today.  This chart has a fun St. Patrick's Day theme.  You click on a pot of gold to make it disappear and reveal a number on the chart.  There are SO many uses for these tools and they are all worksheet free!  You can start clicking from the beginning to practice counting or start clicking at the end to practice counting back.  Click a random pot and challenge students to find the number that is 10 more/10 less and 1 more/1 less than your number.  Find patterns in the numbers and the colors of the numbers.  Can you predict what color a number will be before you reveal it?  To download my St. Patrick's Day Interactive Hundreds Chart Freebie, click here!

2) Read My Mind
This is one of my favorite math games!  Kids work with partners.  One player takes a card and holds it to his forehead (without looking at it).  The other student must give clues for the guesser.  There are lots of different ways to play this game.  I found cards to a game called "Big Fish, Little Fish" at the dollar store.  They have two-digit numbers and I HAD to have them!  We use these cards and regular playing cards.  Sometimes we play "Ten More and Ten Less".  The clues are "Your number is ten more than 47."  Place Value clues include "Your number has 3 tens and 9 ones".  We can use a regular deck of cards to reinforce tens partneres, "Your partner is 6.  What is your number?"  We use math facts.  "Your number is 6 + 3".  I like this game because it gets both partners thinking and communicating.

3)  Dolch Speed Read
I have heard many times that a creative mind means a messy desk.  I choose to believe that this is the cause of my extreme disorganization.  I love using my board because it means less STUFF in my room.  A few years ago, I tossed my flash cards and started making flash cards for my board.  This is SO much better because they are always where they are supposed to be.  Flash cards for the board can also be way more fun and exciting than traditional flash cards.  Plus, the kids can actually see them!  I made "flash cards" focusing on the Dolch words.  There are different themes for each month.  The words get faster and faster, making this loads of fun for my kiddos.  I have also used different fonts and the words appear in a different order each time.  Here is a video of my kiddos using March Dolch Speed Read.  To see my Dolch Speed Read sets on TpT, click here.

 I can guarantee you that I will be using absolutely NO WORKSHEETS next Wednesday either!  (We have that week off as well!)  I look forward to writing about more worksheet-free ideas and using them when I get back to my kiddos.  Thanks for reading and have a great week!