Saturday, February 6, 2016

Whack-A-Word Wednesdays - GIVEAWAY!

I have a new spelling game that is MAXIMUM strength fun!  I have had so many questions about it that I decided it would make a good blog post.  I am going to give you all the tips and tricks I have for successfully implementing my new Whack-A-Skill games in your classroom.  I also think it would be terrific to give away a set!  I love giveaways!

Here is a video of my kiddos using the spelling version of the game:

How stinkin' fun is that?  So, how do you make it?  Well, there are two ways to play.  Here is the first:

We use mallets made of pool noodles stuck on pencils.  These are SO easy to make.  I bought two pool noodles at Target.  I used a serrated knife to cut them into four-five inch chunks.  I was able to make 30 mallets out of two noodles.  Next, I took sharpened pencils and stabbed them through the center of each noodle chunk.

 Students will each need their own mallet and their own mat to play.  I have made a variety of mats that go with PowerPoints.  As the PowerPoint runs, students whack the correct letter on their mat.  This is so much fun!

In the files, I have included three levels of ink usage.  I prefer to use the black and white version so that my kids can color their own mats.  It makes them their own.  To make it easier for my kiddos to find the letters on the mats, I had them color vowels red and consonants blue.

I laminated their mats and bound them in a booklet of work mats.  I have lots of different "whack-a-mole" skills, so we have several different mats.  Each student has their own work mats booklet.

Remember when I said there were two ways to use this?  The first uses mallets, the second uses large stomping mats.  To make the stomping mats, I took rubber shelf liner.  (You know, the stuff that goes in drawers or kitchen cabinets?)  I cut this into large ovals.  Next, I cut out a square window on the center of each oval.  I made the window about eight inches.

I cut about eleven inch squares of the liner and glued this to the back of the oval.  BUT, only glue it on three sides!  This creates a pocket that you can slide different moles in.  Why shelf liner?  I didn't want any kiddos bustin' their buts by slipping.  These are going to be stomped on.  We need to keep our little guys safe!  There are so many different skills that by creating pockets on the stomping mats, we can use them over and over.

I LOVE these big stompin' mats, but I honestly don't think it would be practical to make a class set of these.  They would be awesome for a center.  They could also be great for homeschooling parents or special ed teachers.  I use the stomping mats at home with my daughter and she loves them!  In this picture, we were working on whacking the vowel sounds.   Lilly loves to use the mallets with the mats.  Sometimes we play with them on the floor (like in the picture) and sometimes we put the large mats on the table.  Little changes like this add a new novelty to a game we already love.

If you want even more info, watch the video below.  I explain how it all works.  (Beware!  I was totally wearing my bathrobe when I took this video and it makes an appearance a couple times!  Eeeek!)  

My class has loved our new tradition; "Whack-A-Word Wednesday".  This is SO easy for me to use.  There is an editable template that I use to type me spelling words each week.  My firsties focus on ten words a week, but after ten words they were not ready to be done so I add the words from the past two weeks as a review.  This is set on an automatic timer.  I just turn on the PowerPoint and it runs itself for five minutes.  FIVE minutes!  Every single Wednesday, I get FIVE MINUTES to catch up on grading, conference with a student, write an email...Ahhhh!  The joys of FIVE MINUTES!

I started off telling you that I have had tons of questions about this.  Here are a few of them that I have not quite answered:

Can I use it if I don't have a projector?
YES!  This will work on any computer.  I use it at home with my kindergartner, Lilly.

Do I need to glue the pencils in?
Nope!  I just stabbed my pencils in and they hold tight.  I also like to remove the pencils for easier storage.  I can just pass out the noodle part and my kids poke their own pencils in the existing hole.

Do you have these games for math?
Right now, I am focusing on finishing up the reading bundles, then I will start to add math skills.

Aren't you worried they are going to hit each other?
Before I gave my kids the mallets for the first time, I told them that I only made 24. (That is a lie!  I made 30!  Please don't rat me out!)  I told them that our mallets are made of foam and if they are too rough with them, they will break.  If they break it, they will not get another one.  I also told them that if they hit their friends, they would lose their mallets and then they would have to practice their spelling with the DREADED WORKSHEETS!  Nobody is willing to risk losing a mallet for a worksheet!  Problem solved!

I have bundled skills according to grade level.  Here are the bundles that I have so far:
 Click here to see the Kinder Bundle!

 Click here to see the 1st Grade Bundle!

 Click here to see the 2nd Grade Bundle!

Are you ready for the big giveaway?  LET'S DO IT!!!!  I am giving away one bundle (you pick K, 1, or 2).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks for reading and good luck with the raffle.  

Until next time, 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Turkey Trot Blog Hop


Welcome to “The Chalkies” Turkey Trot! We hope you enjoy a jog through our blogs gobbling up freebies, ideas, and recipes for some holiday joy!

We have a new blog name!  We switched out the word "Primary" for "Elementary". We want to meet the needs of any teacher K-6. Our blog has been thoughtfully designed to help you find what YOU need for YOUR classroom level!

I love those grade level tabs {seen above} that help me grab what I need. This trot will also take you through the grade level blogs of your choice.

We hope you enjoy this little meal from appetizer to dessert!

Slide1 - Copy

I LOVE adding movement to lessons to make them fun and engaging.  For a special Thanksgiving treat, I have created an editable Brain Break PowerPoint so that you can easily create a fun review that is just right for your kiddos.  You can use this template again and again to create fun new Brain Breaks.  Check out this video for some ideas of how to use it:  

This special Thanksgiving version gets your little turkeys in and out of their chairs as they review.  

Click here to download this freebie and be sure to follow my store for a new freebie each month!


Thanksgiving is a time for families, so I love to celebrate our class family by creating a family cookbook.  I ask the kids to bring in one of their favorite family recipes.  We compile all the recipes to make a cookbook.  These make a great Christmas gift for parents!

Slide2 - Copy

My teacher BFF retired a couple years ago and now sells Pampered Chef. I was sad to see her go, but I have learned SOOOO many yummy recipes from her!  This spice cake just tastes like fall and it is so stinkin' cute!    

Click here to get the recipe!

slide 6

Be sure to check out some of my FAVORITE resources!  They are on sale today and tomorrow!  

Have you used my Watch, Think, Color games?  They are seriously the coolest mystery pictures on earth!  I have hundreds of designs and dozens of skills so you can find what is right for your class. The best part is that they run themselves for about 15 minutes.  Can you think of anything to do in 15 minutes?  Work with small groups?  One-on-one assessments?  Catch up on paper work?  For 15 minutes your kids will be engaged and focused while they do a Watch, Think, Color activity.  I told you they were the coolest mystery pictures on earth!

 Dolch Speed Read lets you choose which set of words you want your class to work on.  Words appear faster and faster on your board, making reading F-U-N!!!

My Classroom Management Life Savers literally save my reading groups each and every day!  These are my absolute favorite resource!  Be sure to check them out!  

Next stop on the Turkey Trot is going to be a treat!  Head over to read what Greg has to say over at the Kindergarten Smorgasbord!  

Happy Thanksgiving, Friends!  

Monday, October 19, 2015

Halloween Math - Graphing Gummies FREEBIE

Hi, y'all!  My kiddos are working on one of my favorite math concepts- GRAPHS!  Seriously, aren't graphs just the best?  There are so many fun things to do with them.  One of my favorite little graphing projects is graphing foods.  It is always fun, hands-on, and a yummy treat at the end.  I found some Halloween fruit snacks at Target.  They were $6 for 48 individual packages.  SCORE!  I made a little graphing activity to go with it and my kids had so much fun that I wanted to share it with you.

This was SO easy to prep.  Just follow these steps.

Step 1 -  Buy Halloween fruit snacks from Target.  I have done this activity in the past with Betty Crocker fruit snacks, but I couldn't find them this year.  If you want to use a different brand, you will need to be sure the shapes are the same as the ones I used.  This is what you are looking for...

Step 2 - Click here to download and print the following pages for each student.

Step 3 - Students place fruit snacks over each box to build a graph.  This is such great hands-on practice.  It makes graphing concrete for little guys and also works on one-to-one correspondence.  After graphs are built, the kids color in the boxes as they eat each snack.  Once the graph is finished, use the information from the graph to complete the addition sentences.  This can also be done before snacks are eaten if your kids need to use the fruit snacks as manipulatives.  To make this project more challenging, give students two packages of snacks so they are working with larger numbers.

What sort of things do you like to graph with your students?  Please share in the comments below.  Thanks for reading!  
Until next time,

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Checking In! - 3 things that are keepin' me busy!

I feel like I have been totally MIA lately!  Back to school has me hoppin'!  I just wanted to check in and let y'all know what I have been up to. Here are three exciting things that are currently happening:

I recently met up with the nice folks over at  When I heard all the cool features their headphones offer, I knew I needed some for my classroom.  I was so excited to get my new headphones last week.  I was really surprised to see all the things that make these headphones different from other brands I have bought in the past.  Right off, I noticed the cord.  It is covered with a really tough fabric.  This detail lets me know that these babies are going to be durable!  I know they will really hold up to my 24 firsties.  I also love that these headphones have a built-in microphone!  I have never had headphones with a mic before!  I have some REALLY cool plans for that.  I am busy testing them out in my classroom and I will let you know all about it very soon!  The headphones are adjustable and the mic easily folds out of the way when it is not being used.  What I love most is the fact that these headphones were made for students!  There are so many features that make them perfect for the classroom.   I am really excited to find new uses for them in my classroom.  I am creating a label on my blog so that you can easily stay posted about how I am using my Learning Headphones.  Just click on "" on the right hand side of this blog.  If you want to see the model that I have, click here to check them out!

2) Interactive Notebooks
I have been making interactive notebook pages for my kiddos for the past couple of years.  This year, we are REALLY into it!  The truth is, after ten years in first grade, I need a change!  I am getting so tired of the same old thing.  I am bored with my curriculum.  Notebooking is adding so much more fun to the classroom for me and my kiddos.  I have made literally hundreds of pages, but I never sell my pages because I don't feel like my whole notebook is "finished".  Today, I had a really great idea.  I am going to sell my pages as "add-ons".  You can use them to enhance any notebook that you are currently using.  I have lots of super pages that I will be posting very soon.  I am excited to share them with you!

3)  Life!
My life has been so busy lately!  My daughters are all in school.  Lilly is in kinder, Emma is in 7th and Sierra is a junior.  They are so busy with sports, clubs, and homework.  I feel like I am always on the run.  My class is so sweet this year.  I am always shocked by how young first graders seem at the beginning of the year.  This is such a huge year of growth!  The quote of the day was "I wanted to give him a taste of his own medicine, so I kicked him in the nuggets."  Oh, first graders!!!  Gotta love 'em!

I am tired, but so excited about all the things happening in my classroom and in my life.  There are a lot of cool projects in the works right now.  I will blog about them soon!

Until next time,

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!