Thanks to Allyce for tagging me in this fun quiz.  Here we go...
The Rules

1. You must post the rules.
2. Post 12 fun facts about yourself on the blog post.
3. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post, and then create 12 new questions for the people you tagged.
4. Tag 12 people and link them on your post & let them know you've tagged them!

12 Fun Facts
  • I am currently working three and a half jobs, plus finishing up grad school.  Yes, I am totally crazy!
  • I have huge feet... size 11!  I'm a tall girl, so I guess they are proportionate but it is definitely a little harder to find shoes.
  • I met Bill Clinton when he came to the restaurant I worked at in Maine.  He gave me a suggestive wink!
  • Speaking of presidents, I was so blessed to see Barack Obama give the commencement speech at my baby sister's graduation from the University of Michigan in 2010.  No matter what your politics are, I promise that listening to him will give you goosebumps.  He also talked about kindergarten kids at the beginning of the speech :)
  • I was born in Michigan, raised in Maine and am now definitely a Boston girl.
  • My boyfriend and love of my life stood me up on our first date!  I listened to my gut instead of being stubborn, and here we are almost four years later.  Don't worry though... I definitely made him work for it!
  • My New Years Resolution was to start saving money by couponing... and a month in I have a huge binder filled with coupons, a small stockpile in my basement and have saved tons of money!
  • I am totally addicted to Dunkin' Donuts coffee.  If I don't get my fix in the morning I am a verrryyy grouchy teacher!
  • I can't wear dangly earrings... they drive me nuts and make me feel like they are going to rip my ear.  Maybe I have weirdly thin earlobes?
  • I LOVE to bake.  The lady we bought our house from left us a KitchenAid mixer and I am in high heaven!  She also left us a crib, but I am so not ready to even think about that one yet!
  • If I could go anywhere in the world, I would pick Thailand or Italy & Greece.  Someday I will go to both!
  • My best friend in the whole wide world and I started a blog a few weeks ago.  We hope you will check us out at The House Fairies!

Questions from Allyce
1) What technology do you wish you could have in your classroom?
I am so lucky to have gotten two new computers and an ELMO document camera this year.  Usually we don't get anything fancy!  I would LOVE to have a SmartBoard one day.
2) What is your favorite grade to teach?
I have taught regular kindergarten (which we call K2) and pre-K (which we call K1).  Both are great but I definitely love K1 a little more! At least in my district K1 is a lot more developmentally appropriate and thematic.  The poor K2 babies are expected to do a WHOLE lot and don't have a lot of chances to play.  I also student taught in second grade and loved that, too!

3) Do you eat in your staff room?
Yes!  I need a little break from the little ones and sneak a little adult time in.
4) How many elementary schools are in your district?
125!  We were also the first school district in the country!

5) What is your favorite way to spend a day off?
On a beach with a good book in one hand and a margarita in the other.  If I had to be realistic, I would say going shopping, grabbing lunch or dinner with a friend and getting a mani pedi would be FANTASTIC.

6) Where do you go when you need to think? Or just completely relax.
Home!  Is it weird that a lot of my best ideas happen in the shower?

7) Do you use standards based grading at your school?
I don't at my grade level, but other grades do.
8) What is your FAVORITE dessert?
This question is SUPER hard!  I am a huge smore lover, cheesecake lover, cookie lover, brownie lover and ice cream lover.  Sorry... there's no way I can pick just one!

9) What is your guilty pleasure tv show?
Any of the Real Housewives shows.  I hate to admit it, but if they are on I am glued to my couch watching all of the drama unfold.
10) Do you play a sport?
I used to play basketball.  Now I don't play sports, but I do go to the gym whenever I can fit it in.
11) Pets?
One adorable little Irish kitty cat named O'Brien. Look at that little face! 

12) What is your very favorite childrens book?
This is literally the hardest question you could ask me.  I am definitely a children's book hoarder aficionado.   I guess if I had to pick just ONE book, it would have to be Miss Rumphius.  This is an inspirational story of a girl who grew up in Maine and changed the world, which was read to me when I was a little girl growing up in Maine.  You can find more of my very favorite books {HERE}.

Sorry, but this post has taken me WAY too long to write and I have to go do tons of homework, so I won't be tagging anyone.  If you want to participate, definitely go check out Teaching and Life at the Beach to answer her fun questions!

Exciting Announcement!

I have been DYING to tell you all that the amazing Miss Kindergarten (aka Hadar) asked me to co-author her amazing blog My Fabulous Finds!  I am so excited, and wanted to just blab this news all over the internet but I had to wait until I indeed found a fabulous find.  

Click {HERE} to see how I used this cookbook stand to save TONS of desk space, all for less than $5!

Valentines Themed Reading Log FREEBIE!

At my school, we have a great reading program that rewards children who read every week.  Each classroom received tons of great books, and we could set up a borrowing program in whichever way worked best for us.  I like to make my reading logs super fun to give kids (and parents!) a little extra push to fill out those logs.

You can download this cute little log for free from my Teacher's Notebook or TPT Store.   Enjoy!

Clip art is from DJ Inkers and Digi Web Studios.

The Snowy Day & a Freebie!

The Snowy Day is one of my most favorite children's books of all time.  It is so colorful and just so magical.  I am pretty sure that any child who has ever seen snow immediately relates to and loves it!  Here in New England, ALL of my students are obsessed with playing in the snow.  

Luckily, The Snowy Day is also a key read aloud in our Wind and Water unit.  Every year, I try to wait until the first big snow to read this book.  To make it a little more magical, I scoop up a snowball from outside right before reading (we are lucky to have a door right in the classroom that goes outside) and put it in a clear container.  While I do the read aloud, we watch and see what happens to the snowball!  Hint: I may or may not strategically place my illegal handy space heater to aid the melting process a bit.  I also stop right after Peter packs his snowball and write down the kids' predictions about what will happen when he goes inside.  Sometimes they come up with some pretty hilarious answers!

Here are a few worksheets that I whipped up to go along with the book.
  1. Illustrate and write about their favorite part of the book
  2. Stop reading after Peter makes his snowball and have students illustrate and write about their predictions.  When they are finished, they share briefly and then you finish the read aloud.
  3. Students trace the vocabulary word, then illustrate each word.
When you download there are more lines and the formatting is better... I don't know why it doesn't show up when I embed it!

Snowy Day Freebie Clip art in this document is from and

Snowy Sand Table Fun... FREEBIE ALERT!

A few days ago I had a flashback to an amazing classroom that I was lucky enough to visit during my first year teaching.  She had a snowman center in her sand table.  The kids dressed up in a scarf and hat, read a snowman poem then set to work making a little snow creature together in the sand table.  SO CUTE! 

I was so inspired that I went out and bought some felt, and set about cutting a bunch of cute accessories for the snow people.  I also grabbed two 4 pound cartons of Epsom Salt (for less than $2 each).  Mix the Epsom Salt with a little water and VOILA!  Fake snow that is fun to play with.  My kids will work together to make a snow mom, dad, kid, cat, ballerina, etc, then draw and label their creation using clipboards that I strategically placed right next to the center. 

Here is my demo Frosty.  I had him all ready when the kids arrived this morning, and they were AMAZED that he didn't melt!  All of the little accessories are on the blue tray.  It's hard to tell but there are scarves, mittens, different types of hats, different shapes for noses and eyes, pants, skirts, shirts and more.  I had a request for a tutu and "ballerina shoes" today so I will be whipping those up tonight.

We read Snowballs by Lois Ehlert, which was the perfect book to encourage a little creativity with this activity!  I will eventually add some natural objects (like the popcorn kernels) that they can add as well. 
Snow Person
*Clip art by Digi Web Studio

A Day in my Shoes

5:40 am
Alarm goes off.  Groan and stumble out of bed into the shower.  Stumble around to get dressed, make coffee, grab lunch out of the fridge and make coffee to drink in the car.  Spray gel in hair and cross fingers that frizz hasn't taken over.

Leave house.  Run back inside to grab whichever one of my 6 schoolbags I have forgotten.  Drive to work.

Arrive at work if there was no traffic.  Sign in, do photocopying before there is a line.  Clean classroom, take down chairs, set up centers, write morning message, set out read aloud books and do whatever other things are on top of the mountain of paperwork otherwise known as my desk.  Check school & personal emails if I have time.  At 8 I set up breakfast at the lunch table in the hallway right outside my classroom.

Little ones arrive!  We sit around and read books until most of the kids have arrived.  I LOVE this time of day... they are so sweet all in the library together reading.

Breakfast & bathrooms.  I sit and eat with the kids and make conversation with them (this is part of our NAEYC accreditation).

Morning meeting.  We have a daily greeting, then read the morning message and fill in the blanks, fix any "mistakes" or fill in a graphic organizer on the white board.  Next, the "star of the day" does our calendar.  We quickly talk about the day, week, month & year, then sing a song about the day of the week.  The star of the day picks which language we will count in before singing.  So far we can count to at least 5 in French, Spanish, Vietnamese, Polish and Cape Verdean Creole.  Love this! This is when we introduce any new centers and activities that reinforce our theme.  At the end of morning meeting I pass out each child's picture so that they can pick there center.  See {HERE} for more on our center board... my favorite classroom management tool ever!
Center time.  I LOVE this time of day.  Ms. C and I circulate around the classroom, do activities with the kids, help with any he's hitting me!  she's not sharing! social issues, develop oral language and help set out additional materials as necessary.

Small groups.  Ms. C and I each take a group to do a guided activity that relates to our theme.  It could be anything from science to math to art, although usually it is literacy related.  

Read aloud.  My other favorite time of day.  The book is usually one that our curriculum suggests, although I will also pull in other books if they are high quality and relate to our theme.  One of the most important goals in read alouds in our classroom is to develop vocabulary since almost all of the kids are ELL.

Sing, dance, set up for nap time and get ready to go outside.

Recess.  We love to go outside to play, but if it is too snowy, rainy, cold or icy we have a variety of indoor recess activities.

Lunch!  I check my email (again!) and escape upstairs to the teacher's room for a few minutes of grown up time. 

Nap.  I am SO LUCKY to have this time to prepare activities, test kids who are awake or fill out paperwork.  I try not to move around very much so that they can rest without being distracted.  I also usually have to go yell at nicely ask the big kids to quiet down and stop waking the little ones up.
Wake up, clean up, bathrooms

Specials!  We have art, science, computers or phys ed depending on the day.  I use this time for prep or planning, and once a week we have a team meeting.

Pick up the kids, do a quick math mini lesson and break into math centers.

Clean up, pack up and say goodbye to each other.

Dismissal.  I either bring the little kindergartners out to the busses, or dismiss the walkers (we rotate dismissal duties every month).

Tutor third graders after school.

Go home, go to the gym or go to my other tutoring job.  I have class on Thursdays and a few Wednesdays a month.  Yuck!

Make dinner, tidy up the house, pick out clothes for tomorrow.

Collapse on the couch completely exhausted, watch trashy tv if there are no yucky sports games on, plan, blog stalk, do little projects for school, check email compulsively, blog stalk some more, pin about a million things.

Get in bed, read for awhile and pass out!  Wake up & repeat : )

Winter Wonderland Pinspiration

I am SO enjoying having this beautiful, FREEZING COLD day off.  I have been spending my day watching Intervention & the Real Housewives of Atlanta, doing a bajillion loads of laundry, cleaning and cooking.  Love it!  I have also been all over Pinterest, of course, where I found tons of ideas that might actually help me enjoy the artic tundra outside (otherwise known as winter in New England).  Here are a few pins that inspired me:

How freaking cute is this polar bear?!?  He is made out of a paper plate, shaving cream, glue and an Oreo nose!

Mitten suncatchers.  So adorable!  These are made with contact paper and tissue paper.  I might try them out with some leftover laminate.  Do you think it would work?

Snowman brace map with labels.  This is perfect for all of the labeling we have been doing lately : )

Snowman glyphs... perfect for teaching little ones to analyze data while doing something super fun.

 Adorable snowman letter matching game.  I just printed this one up!

Snowman salt letters.  I love that there is another use for the cards, and that the kids will love how the salt looks like snow.  Perfect for tactile learners.
Also, Ms. C found {THIS} amazing website with tons of winter activity ideas and printables.  I especially love the animal track playdough center, ice science activities and super cute snowman letter sounds bingo. 

Quick, Easy & Fun Math Center

I was super inspired by this literacy center that I pinned a few days ago.  I decided to start with a simpler version to get my little ones used to the idea of sorting on a table.  Also, I have to admit that math is not exactly my favorite thing to teach.  One of my goals this year was to jazz up our math curriculum by adding fun new centers.  This is definitely a good first step!

Here is the original idea that I pinned
Here is the math center that I created by simply taping number cards to the table with clear packing tape.  I love these cards because they have both the numeral and dots on a ten frame for immediate differentiation.  The best part was that it took about five minutes to set up the center!

 Math center before any little hands touched it.  I used wooden number cubes/beads that are usually untouched in the math center

Close up

 After it was all sorted :)

A close up of the numeral and ten frame card

Today we tried another version of the number sort.  We used magnet numbers and the kids liked sorting this way even better.  Probably because they are colorful, bigger, easier to manipulate and more fun!

Another idea I had was to use manipulatives and have children place the correct number of manipulatives next to each card.  It would be cute to use thematic manipulatives like little snowmen, marshmallows, hearts or whatever else you could dream up.  Of course I will eventually add more numbers once they get used to the idea of sorting.

Acts of Kindness for Tornado Victims

Have you seen the sad story about the destroyed schools in Joplin, MO over at Mrs. Wills Kindergarten?  Sweet DeeDee is encouraging all of the bloggers out there to donate a TPT/TN unit or two to help out the teachers who lost everything in the tornado.  Can you imagine how terrible that would be?  I just sent over three of my units.  Check out Mrs. Wills Kindergarten for details.

All About Labeling & Freebies

I was super inspired by a couple amazing labeling posters that I found on Pinterest.  We did a few labeling lessons a few weeks ago, and the kids were crazy about it.  I was suprised by how fast they "got it" and by how engaged they were.  If you are wondering "Why is she doing labeling in December?" please remember that most of my babies are still four!

Here is my "pinspiration":

First, we used invented spelling to label a different animal each day on our morning message.  We later did one on an anchor chart for future reference.  I am SO not as artistic as these ladies were!

Then, during our small group time, I worked with groups of four to label their own drawings.  I used my favorite drawing book, Follow the Directions & Draw it All by Yourself! to teach a step by step guided drawing lesson.  Then, we stretched out the sounds and labelled.  It sounds like a lot but it only took about 15 minutes.  If we were done early, we did a little more guided drawing on the back.

I was so impressed by how well my foursies did with this activity!  How freaking cute is that turtle?  Next up: labeling other animals independently.  Download the freebie below to snag a copy of elephant labeling, tiger labeling and the labeling sheet I used for guided drawing.  I also created a new tab up on top of my blog so that you can locate ALL of my freebies super easily.  Enjoy!

Labeling Mini Unit

Currently January

In terms of my "one little word" I chose simplify because I have WAY too much stuff and WAY too much stuff going on.  I want to stop and appreciate all of the little things and prevent premature gray hairs all at once!

PS. Check out my girl Kendra's post {HERE} about redesigning everyday items into new, beautiful and amazing things for your home!

These are a Few of my Favorite Pins!

Do you like my terrible play on my favorite song from The Sound of Music?  Since my stubborn phone is REFUSING to let me upload any of the awesome pictures I have taken lately, I decided to show you a few of my latest "Pinspirations" instead.

DIY light table!  Can be used to make connections to books, explore shapes, science experiments and more.  How much would they LOVE using this?  The best part is that it is made out of a plastic container, a tube of lights and some mylar.  Cheap and magical!

Amazing letter sorting table.  You could use it with magnet letters, letter tiles, foam letters, letter puzzles... just about anything!  I know my kids would love this one, and it's super easy!

Fine motor in the sand & water table.  They will LOVE using tongs to scoop up the pom poms or anything else you could dream up.  This could also be used with containers labelled with numerals to practice counting and one to one correspondence.

The world's best bubbles.  Three ingredients.  Enough said!

FREE and adorable ABC tracing pages.  I used these in my homework packet this week, and the kids are loving it.  The clip art is SOOO cute!
What are your favorite pins this week?

DIY Meal Planner

I just wrote my first post over at my BFF and my new blog The House Fairies.  

You can check out how I made this super cute meal planner in about 10 minutes {HERE}.  I hope you check it out!

Blog Design Help!

SO my best friend in all of the whole wide world convinced me to start a blog with her.  Okay, to tell the truth it doesn't take much convincing.  She is a magical photographer slash home decorator and organizer extraordinaire.  I am a baking slash crafting slash deal finding freak.  We make a pretty good pair, and our new blog with be a smorgasbord of all of those things.  Fun, right?

Since I already blog and feel pretty comfortable with it, I offered to set it up and do the header.  Easy peasy, right?  Wrong!  It is all screwed up and I can't seem to fix it.  If you can figure out why (after 75 billion header resizing and reconfinguring) there is random blue stuff behind the header and it is all fugly looking, I will be forever grateful.  In fact, I might even give you a little gift!  Click {HERE} if you are interested in helping us!

Coupons and More Coupons

You may have read my new years' resolutions.  One of them is to save tons of money through couponing.  I started yesterday, and have already saved over $60 and started a small stockpile.  I do NOT want to be one of those insane ladies who fills up three carts and stands in the checkout for an hour, only to pay $3 for the small mountain of items she doesn't technically need.  I just want to save money on things I would buy anyway.  I have also found my new Coupon Bible.  Check it out, if you have a couple of extra HOURS and reams of paper to start printing out all of your new coupons!
Here are a few coupons that I will be using:

Who doesn't love Staples?  I just bought my 2012 planner there and I wish I'd had the coupon!

They have revamped their Organized Teacher program.  Instead of a consistent discount, they have special promotions for teachers who signed up for their program.  I just signed up and they sent me 10% off. 

New Years Resolutions

It seems that I have an absurd amount of resolutions this year.  I am sharing them on my blog in hopes that it will help me stick to them!  I would love to hear everyone else's resolutions.  I would also love help with my #3!

  1. To be the best teacher/girlfriend/friend/sister/daughter I can be.
  2. To exercise at least 3 times a week.  I want to be in killer shape for my best friend's wedding on July 1st!
  3. To save lots of money, especially by couponing.  I have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to couponing, so any advice or resources would be greatly appreciated!  Do I need to sign up for the Sunday paper?  What is the best way to keep them organized?
  4. To find fun & free (or cheap) dates with my boyfriend.
  5. To be more organized at home and at school.
  6. To make some awesome new units for TPT/Teacher's Notebook.
  7. To give away more freebies on my blog.
  8. To meal plan every week to eat healthy, save money and not be wasteful.
  9. To learn how to garden & make our yard look fabulous this spring.
  10. To earn my masters degree and earn additional credits from taking classes.

Is it crazy to have that many resolutions?  Maybe, but I really, really think I can do it!  
What are your resolutions?