Monday, December 31, 2012

Falling Into 2013-- It's a New Year!!

Happy New Year Friends!! 

2012 is officially on its way out  today and 2013 will soon be taking its place! With it comes a flurry of all the New Year promises...err "resolutions" that we are hoping to uphold. Some of us do better than others. If you're anything like me you can easily come up with a list that stretches on for miles and miles. But a quote I caught wind of early on in 2012 was, "You can do anything, but not everything." And I thought- touche!! So I'm keeping my list short, sweet, and to the point this year.

My friend Jen from The Teacher Cauldron is hosting a little linky to share these short list items. She asked us to share one personal resolution and one specific to blogging. So here goes...

*My personal resolution is to start making breakfast and lunch*

I despise waking up early. The morning and I are not friends!! As a result, I tend to sleep until the last possible second before I have to run out the door and I'm lucky if I grab a smoothie on the way. This also results in lots of fast food lunches or on the go frozen meals. Neither of which are the healthiest or the most filling. I have PINNED all these deliciouslooking recipes    on my I'm An Eater Board and my Breakfast Board. So my goal is to start preparing home cooked breakfasts and lunches at least 4-5 times a week. 

*My Blogger resolution is to Blog-Plan AND begin a weekly feature*

(I know I know, that's two -- but the list is still short and manageable in my book!!)

I hate to admit it, but I'm finally coming to terms with the fact that I am a need to write it all down kind of gal. I like to think I can just be carefree and file things away in my mental filing cabinet. But the problem is, it doesn't seem to work so well that way. If I write something down, the odds of following through with whatever plan, thought, workout, or deadline I have increases astronomically. Blogging is no exception so I've decided I need to start scheduling and jotting down my blog post ideas in my planner. That way I can hopefully break the cycle of {Eek! It's already Friday and I haven't blogged all week and now I don't know how much I should try to cram into one post!?} and hopefully begin churning out posts on the regular. And quite frankly, blog-planning sound waaay more fun than and other type of planning that I find myself doing- except for the occasional vacation planning!

The second one is a new and exciting thing for me this year. I will be hosting a weekly feature called:


Every Tuesday I will be hosting a topic or question and inviting the blog world to link up with their thoughts and pictures so we can compile as many ideas on that topic as possible. To all my bloggy friends, I hope you will link up often and join me in this new adventure. Readers, this one is really for YOU. I hope you will find a ton of new ideas from it every Tuesday!! And even if you're not a blogger, your comments are also an invaluable resource where you can share your thoughts and get in on the fun. I will also be turning to you to get some feedback on what topics you'd like to see.

So there you be. My short and Optimistic list for 2013!!

What are your resolutions this year? I'd love to read more about them. 

So go join Jen and LINK IT UP :)

Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Year, New Shopping!!

Holy moly does time sure fly!  I hope you all had the most wonderful of Holidays with your loved ones this past week. I'm spending the next few days of my break in NC with a group of my very best friends to ring in the New Year together!! It's hard to get away from work sometimes, even when I am away. In the back of my head there are always ideas floating around about what needs to get done. I spent a good portion of my plane ride out thinking about them. Something about January screams "New Possibilities" even at work. Its a chance to re-group, re-organize, and try new things to make your pre existing routines even better. And sometimes, bringing a few new items into your room is just the kick start needed to put some of those things into place. Enter MPM School Supplies! I was contacted by a sweet representative at MPM School Supplies around Thanksgiving, asking me to pick a few items in their store and do an honest review of their products and the overall online shopping experience.

Two things I knew I wanted were some bright and fun letters that would match up with my Owl n Dots Classroom Theme Set. I also wanted to give my calendar a face lift. (If you haven't already noticed the brighter the better with me!)  So I purchased some the letters and calendar pieces above, in addition to the Month headers below.

Here is a peek at my December calendar. Not only do I love the fun pieces, but you may notice they create a pattern for the month too. Each monthly set creates a new pattern that my kiddos look forward to uncovering.

MPM was truly  wonderful to work with. They sell almost any item I could imagine for my classroom- at a discount! I have a local teacher store that sold these calendar pieces for more money and didn't sell these letters that I was wanting at all. So that scored MPM mega points in my book right off the back.

I also really love their search engine filters. I could search by category and then narrow down my colors which makes sifting through endless borders and letters much simpler when I know in advanced I want all the bright neons!! My first clicks below were to pink and turquoise :)

Shipping was quick and I had my stuff in less than a week of ordering. I'm an online shopping kind of gal but I hate waiting more than a week for anything, so quick shipping is top priority for me!!

Overall I was completely happy with my experience and excited to find a new vendor for my classroom shopping needs. I feel very confident about recommending them to you all! MPM School Supplies was also nice enough to offer 10% off to the first ten readers who shop with them from my blog. Click the link below to take advantage of this special offer, or just do some window shopping on your own to see what you can find. I went for fun decorative pieces but there is SO much more on their website. All organized accordingly as shown in the screen shots above:

As always thanks for stopping by friends!! I know it's a busy time of year for everyone but your visits and comments are always one of the brightest spots in my day!  I hope you all enjoy your last few days of 2012 and are staying away from the workload just a wee bit longer like me. I've got some fun new thing in store for the blog and all my readers for 2013 -- I look forward to sharing them with you all very soon! :)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Snow Dough & Ornament Factory

Second to last day before break! Today was our ornament factory day. We began mass production first thing this morning, and ended with final touches & wrapping this afternoon.

Over the years, I've updated the tag a bit! :)

First, we do the hand prints. Then hang them up to dry. This drying rack has been with me since college. It's been in my life longer than my husband! HA! But it still works like a charm for this project every year.

Then after lunch when they're dry we bust of the sharpies and turn them into five little snowmen.

 Add the tags. Wrap them in lots of paper towel to help add some extra anti-break insurance.

And then put them in the most boring wrapping ever. Ok, so in all fairness I usually have the kids decorate the bags however they want. But today we just ran out of time. But at least nobody can peak right? (This photo is mainly just to show that sometimes keeping it real wins over cute)

Now onto a little factory work of my own. Last night, my kitchen became the Snow Dough factory.

It was my first time making Playdough. I can't get over how simple it is.

You will need the follow ingredients per batch:

2 cups Flour
1 cup of Salt
2 TBS of Cream or Tartar
2 TBS Vegetable Oil
2 Cup Water
LOTS of Sparkly white Glitter

 To make mix all the dry ingredients in a pot. Then add and mix in the liquid ingredients. Put on the stove top on medium heart for about 7 minutes continually stirring. I have to admit, about 4 minutes in it just looks like goopey paste and feels like it will never actually turn into dough. When you feel that way, you're about 2 minutes away from magic, haha.  I promise you, it happens!!

Once it's done take it out and let it cool. Then, add a generous helping of glitter. Or Five generous helpings!!

Then I put them into these cutie little individual containers I found at Walmart. And put them in the fridge.

Originally I was going to give it to my kids as a gift from me. Now, I think it's going to be a gift from Snowball the Elf before his departure back to the North Pole. And suddenly it won't matter that I threw them an Amazing Polar Express Party and filled their Stockings with little sweet treats, because the elf is delivering snow from THE NORTH POLE ITSELF. 

Yup, totally going to be shown up by the Elf.

Polar Express Party Essentials for Tomorrow Include:


Lots of Swiss Miss brewing in the Crock Pot and my favorite PJ's. :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Honoring 26 Angels + Snowman Ornament Freebie

So I made a pledge Sunday night and shared it with my friends, family, and Facebook followers. I joined many bloggers in a day of silence on my blog in honor of Sandy Hook, but I would still like to share with you all what I said: For those of you who will be entering your classroom tomorrow with a heavy heart, remember these words. My plan tomorrow is to go in and have as much fun with my little ones as I can. I want this last week before break to be filled with fun in our classroom because I am thankful for the opportunity to still be able to do that with them. It's the best way I know to honor the 26 angels from CT and not allow one man's actions to take any more away from us. 

 This is how I truly feel in my heart of hearts. So this week, I remind myself how blessed I am to share this week with my kiddos, and  continue to teach them the best way I know how.

Yesterday we started my Christmas Celebrations Around The World unit with our very own, America. The craft in my pack for this particular country is a stocking. We made them in about ten minutes flat so then we went on to also make the stockings in this super fun Stocking Stuffers freebie created by. Susan from TGIF. In the past I have had my kiddos paste stocking templates onto brown paper bags so that I could drop little treats inside of them. But the template Susan had for her stocking was even cuter than mine, so I decided to combine the two ideas. I love the end result!

Susan also included a template for notes to write and stuff in the stocking. My kids would write notes to each other all day if I'd let them. But instead I'm letting it be their morning work all week. This is my plan to ensure that everyone in the room is getting some love:

Monday- One note to anyone they want
Tuesday-Everyone writes a note to everyone at their table.
Wend- Everyone has to write a note to everyone at the table across from them.
Thurs- Everyone writes a note to Snowball (class Elf)
Friday- Notes to anyone they want-!!

On Friday the kids will also find a treat from Snowball AND Deeno The  Desk Dino in their stocking!! :)

We also did a little Just Dance Kids - Jingle Bells via Youtube. My kids and I LOVE doing these. (Yup, I get right in the middle and do them along with them) They make an excellent brain break activity!!

And tonight I'm preparing for my favorite annual Holiday gift making session. I help my kiddos create a Five Little Snowmen ornament for them to give to their families every year. I SO wish that I had some examples to show you from previous years. Forgive me. I wasn't a blogger this time last year. And even though I know I have pictures SOMEWHERE, that USB stick is currently MIA. I do have this picture of the ornament I made with my friend's little guy who was only about 4 months old last Christmas. We decided we didn't need to make him draw little snowmen hats and faces on his ornament with permanganate marker like I do my first/second graders. But you still get the idea :)

The little tag that I attach is a sweet poem that really tugs at the heart strings.  I didn't write it. Or originate this idea. It found them  both floating around the internet when I first started teaching and have been doing it in my classroom ever since. But I did give the little poem tags that I created in the past a face life this year. If you think you might be able to use them, click the image below to download them for {FREE}. I made them in traditional Christmas colors as well as bright blue and pink!

{Font by Kimberly Geswein and Graphics by Scrappin Doodles & My Cute Graphics

I will be back tomorrow to share with you another Holiday gift I have up from my sleeves for my kids,  and how I'm about to get upstaged by Snowball the Elf....

Friday, December 14, 2012

Many Prayers

I gave each of my students an extra tight hug before they walked out the door today. I'm sure their families were eagerly waiting to do the same. Sending many prayers to the Sandy Hook families tonight, particularly the ones who lost their babies today. My heart is devastated for them.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Polar Express Day

There are only eight school days between now and Christmas Break!! Not that I'm keeping track or anything. There are still so many festive activities I want to squeeze in between now and then! Tomorrow we begin our unit on Christmas Celebrations Around The World. But at the moment I'm trying to get all my ducks in a row for our last day before break which is our Polar Express Day. In preparation, I've bundled up a little Polar Express fun for my classroom :)

I can't wait to make my train and the little mini books included in this pack with my kiddos!! Polar Express Day is a tradition I look forward to every year. The kids wear their PJ's, we read the story, sip on Hot CoCo, and do a variety of activities all related to the book.

**Here's a little peek into our day in action**

Beginning, Middle, End story re-tell books!!

Polar Express Craftivity!!

A nice chocolatey mom made those chocolate lollipops for everyone!!

And the BEST part of the whole day was when my principal surprised our class (and this teacher) with a frozen package delivered straight from the North Pole!!! You should have seen the looks on their faces when we opened up these bells- still frozen inside. Priceless!!!

I will randomly select someone to send my Polar Express pack to. Just comment below with one of your favorite Holiday Classroom traditions to enter!

Congratulations Marie!! Check your inbox! :)

Monday, December 10, 2012

12 in 12 Linky

Incredibly random and weird fact about me. My favorite number is 6. Don't ask me why but I came to this decision years ago, when I  seven, and decided that six had been hands down the best year of my life!  And it stuck. So by default, I'm partial to increments of six too. Ya know, 12...24...36... 

All this random info to tell you that I am ALL OVER Hadar and Kristen's 12 in 12 linky going on right now!!

12. Favorite movie you watched: 
If we're being truthful I hardly saw any new movies this year. So this is a tricky one. But I guess I will go with The Hunger Games since I ate up all three books and was not disappointed by the movie.  Although Magic Mike is a very close runner up. (Yes the plot was terrible. The dancing was not.)

11. Favorite TV series:
Still Grey's Anatomy. Yes, I'm still watching Shonda, but I'm mad you killed off Lexie & Sloan!

10. Favorite restaurant:

The Cheescake Factory!! The closest one is 40 minutes away and I still go. This was my birthday slice!

9. Favorite new thing you tried:
Ziplining in Costa Rica-- I'd do it again and again!!

8. Favorite gift you got:

This wall. The hubs had it installed in our bedroom  for my birthday...
{My Wall}

...after I this one in a model house below and fell in love!!
 {Similar wall in the model home}

7. Favorite thing you pinned:
centsational girl kate home office 

6. Favorite blog post:

It was my first time ever in Sin City. I went with my mom and we had a blast-!!  I also met a room full of  amazing bloggers in real life, which also led to some new friendships :)

5. Best accomplishment: 
 Opening my TPT shop & starting my blog was a huge accomplishment for me this year. I jumped into both head first the same week after I had  hemmed and haw'd about doing it for awhile because I felt a little intimidated putting myself out there like that.  If anything, I wish I had signed up sooner. I am so proud of the work I have put into both and blessed by the friendships I have made and knowing that they have made me a better teacher!!

4. Favorite picture:
Sunset in Costa Rica <33

3. Favorite memory:

{Three of the best friends a girl could ever have}
Dancing the night away at my best friend's wedding with some of my best friends!

2. Goal for 2013:
Getting into the best shape I've ever been in. Cliche I know. But here's hoping. Although one thing is for sure, I won't be running any marathons along the way. 

{Ps. My SECOND favorite Pin of the year..hehe}

1. One Little Word:

Friday, December 7, 2012

The ELF Has Landed :)

Alright Pinterest, you got me. I finally caved. I got THE Elf for my classroom.  Except I guess it's not actually "THE" elf. It's that elf's softer, slightly larger, TOO CUTE to say "no" doppelganger elf. He arrived in our classroom this Wednesday.  I know, I know, it wasn't exactly December 1st. But there are THOUSANDS of teachers and families around their world who requested a special Elf from The North Pole this year. My class knew this and so they were just lucky to have been sent one at all :)

When he arrived he was sitting on top of the Smart Board holding this letter rolled up in his arms that I read aloud to my class.

{Click HERE to grab a free copy of this letter. There is one for BOY elves and GIRL elves}

His name is Snowball. He was almost named Tony Hawk. But Snowball won the tie-breaker vote.

    {Day Two}  

They were particularly thrilled to discover Snowball on day three. He opened and started playing with the brand new iPod Touch Devices that arrived from our recently funded Donors Choose Project. He had already activated one and everything!!

So the real reason I finally caved on the Elf? One of my favorite things about teaching 1st & 2nd grade is they still believe in Magic. Even the ones who might not actually believe still have enough imagination and sportsmanship to play along.Kids seem to grow up really quickly these days. I for one would like to see them hold onto the *magic* in their lives for a little bit longer :)

Run! Miss Nelson's Got The Camera and Seusstastic Classroom Inspirations are both hosting linkys to share pictures of where the Elves are popping up in classrooms across the country!!

Happy Elf-ing :)