Monday, August 10, 2009


I'm having a BACK TO SCHOOL SALE at 
There are many BRAND NEW and gently used teacher resource books to choose from and most are more than half off the retail price! This sale is good until Friday 8/14/09 or while supplies last.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

No Shopping For Me

Let's all be honest.  The best thing about teaching is having the summer off.  Yeah, yeah I know..."making a difference in the life of a child" is right up there in the top three, but if I'm being completely honest it is ranked number three.

I love having the summer off to recharge, reenergize and just frolic in the goodness of sandy toes, ice cream and the lack of responsibility.

What ranks in the #2 spot you ask?  Why shopping for back to school clothes of course.

In addition to the perfect newness of unopened boxes of Crayolas and unsharpened pencils comes the optimism of a new school year wardrobe.   Each August I envision myself made over with smart new clothes, a stylish haircut, perfectly manicured fingers and make-up.  I make resolutions about my new put together appearance and hit the mall in search of some designer duds to help fulfill my new role as "teacher fashionista."

I have a favorite shopping buddy who comes to visit and we help each other validate our purchases.  One "First Day Eve" I pick out my outfit and lay it out for the morning with great excitement.  I look good.  I feel good.  It's a new me.  

Then a few weeks go by.  The clothes start to get spots of tempura paint and marker from the overhead on them and my hair finds itself in a ponytail for practical reasons.  Still the back to school shopping is fun.

This year I'm excluded from the fun.

I'm hoping to make it to the first week of school, but have a scheduled C-section planned for the following Monday.  My back to school wardrobe consists not of a stylish fall wardrobe, but anything that is capable of keeping my twin baby belly and the rest of my important parts hidden from the world.  I debated going with a Greek theme this year so that I could validate wearing a toga to school.

My back to school shopping will come in December when my maternity leave ends.  Surely I will need  a makeover more than ever by then. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Back to School / First Week Activities

I love "Back to School" time.  Well, I don't love trading in flip flops for 'sensible' shoes and I certainly miss the freedom of summer.  However,  I love the excitement and newness of the start of a new year.  I make resolutions the way some people do annually on December 31st. I admire the freshly sharpened pencils and the perfectly pointy Crayolas.  The kiddos are always so adorable with their sun-kissed skin in their new clothes.  I especially love the "getting to know you" activities that help to build a community.  

I've compiled some of my favorite activities for the 1st week of school to create a collection of "Back To School Printables" for grades 2-5.  There are elements that could be used for grades K-1 as well (illustrating, self-portraits, handwriting samples, handprints) and you could scribe for the little ones if you wanted, but these are designed for 2-5 to do independently.  

I have two versions now available in my store ( and you can click on the title of each below to order either.

EMAIL / PDF version: This one will be emailed to you within 24 hours (usually less as I am attached to my laptop and check in often throughout the day).  All you need to do is print the PDF files and copy as needed. ONLY $3.00

SNAIL MAIL / PRINTED version: This is the exact same thing as the email version.  The only difference is that I print and mail them to you.  This version is $3.00 + $2.50 for s/h.

The unit includes:

1. Teacher Guide

2. All About Me 
This is a 2 page set. It includes a lined paper titled, “All About Me” and a drawing page titled, “This is Me.” Students use these pages to write about themselves and/or illustrate a self-portrait. These activities are great to do at the beginning, middle and end of each school year as they really show the progress the child has made as a writer and artist. They also make a quick and easy bulletin board display.

3. Bio Poem 
The students complete the cloze activity to create a bio poem about themselves. The pages can be kept as is or they can be used as a rough draft. These are beautiful keepsakes when they are typed and illustrated by the children.

4. Classmate Bingo
Each student begins by completing the sentences at the bottom to tell about themself. The student then cuts that part of the page off and gives it to the teacher. The teacher provides the class with a list of student names (either reproduced individually or written on the board to be copied) and the children write one name in each box. If there are more boxes than names you may consider asking specialists, the nurse, the custodian, or the principal to fill out a paper as well. To play: pick one info page from the collection and read the sentences out loud. See if anyone can guess who it is before reading the name at the end. Students then mark that space on their bingo board (pasta makes a cheap and easy marker if you do not have bingo markers). 

5. Getting to Know Me Gazette
Students use words and/or pictures to complete this personal newspaper about themselves. You can use the completed pages to make a bulletin board display or bind them into a class book that is sure to be a favorite throughout the year.

6. How I Spent My Summer Vacation
This is a 2 page set. It includes a lined paper and a drawing page that are both titled, “How I Spent My Summer Vacation.” Students use these pages to write about and/or illustrate the highlights of their summer. ou can use the completed pages to make a bulletin board display or bind them into a class book that is sure to be a favorite throughout the year.

7. I Am Poem 
This is a 2 page set. It includes a graphic organizer for branstorming ideas and a cloze activity to create the poem. The cloze activity can be the finished product or it can be edited for spelling and then published as a final draft. These look beautiful when you add a photo of the child and create a display. They are also cherished keepsakes and make wonderful holiday gifts for the families.

8. K-W-L About My New Grade
This is a 2 page set. It includes two KWL charts. The first is formatted in narrow columns and the second has been created with wider columns. This is a great way to introduce or review what a K-W-L chart is. Start by having the students brainstorm a list of things they already know about their new grade level (or classroom or teachers). Then have them generate a list of questions about their new grade level. Bring the class together to share their lists. You may want to compile them into a master list on poster paper or using an overhead projector. At the end of the 1st week of school have the sudents complete the last column by recording some things they have learned about their new grade. 

9. Math About Me
The students begin by completing the sentences using the numbers that apply to them personally. Next, they create a collage of those numbers. To create the collage you can either have them write the numbers using markers, crayons or colored pencils or you could have them cut those numbers out of magazines and newspapers and glue them to the page.

10 My Picture is Worth Many Words
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. To complete this activity attach a photo of each child to the center of the page (or have each student draw a 
self-portrait). Next, have each child brainstorm a list of words that tell about themself. This is a nice opportunity to discuss nouns and adjectives or even introduce a thesaurus. Have the children count the number of words they wrote and write that number on the line in the title. Cut out the box, mount onto colored paper and either display the finished products individually or create a class book.

11. New Classroom Scavenger Hunt
This activity can be done individually or in pairs. The students explore their new classroom and record something that fits into each category onto the chart. They can either use words, pictures or labeled illustrations to document their findings.

12. Squiggle Art
This activity shows that everyone is unique and that people often see things differently. The black squiggle is the start of a picture. Encourage the children to use their imaginations and incorporate that black squiggle into their own drawing. There are lines below the drawing box to write about what they drew. This makes a fun display or a class book. It is also a nice activity to do at the start and end of a school year to show personal growth in each student.

13. Time Capsule
This is a 5 page set. You may elect to do any or all of the activities. The idea is for the students to complete the activities at the start of the year and then revisit them at the end of the year. This set includes:
-a self-portrait
-a handprint (either painted and stamped or simply t
-a handwriting sample (perhaps the alphabet or a 
dictated sentence)
-a list of things the student hopes to learn about that 
-a collection of favorite things

After the students complete the pages you may want to seal them all into one box or else create individual time capsules using Pringles can. If you keep portfolios for your students then you could also use these as the first pages.

14. Who Am I?
Have the students complete each sentence starter to tell about themselves. Staple the top of the finished paper to construction paper so that the page can be lifted from the bottom. Attach a photo of the student underneath so that people can guess who it is and lift the page to check. These are especially fun for open house nights as parents love “finding” their litle darling.

Monday, August 3, 2009

My Poor Little Lefty

My son turned 4 last week.  That means next summer he will turn 5...just 6 weeks before starting Kindergarten.  I know firsthand how big the age spectrum can be in K since the trend is to "hold back" the kids with the summer birthdays.  This means he'll be in class with children who are an entire year older than he is.  The age span typically balances out by 3rd, but it can make for a rough start for the little ones.  He's fortunate in that he seems to be pretty bright.  He loves to learn and retains things. He's also had the benefit of an amazing preK experience and will have one more year at his preschool.  I'm doing what I can at home to help prepare him for school.

He loves to write letters and does a decent job. However, I've notice he will often start them at the bottom or else make the lines out of order.  In an attempt to prevent bad habits from forming I decided to do some "formal" handwriting lessons with him and even bought this neat dry erase board book from Lakeshore.

I was excited to use it.

He was excited to use it.

We started using it.  

He worked hard.  He was focused.  He was attentive.  He was determined.

He carefully made a letter...and then the next...and then the next.  He stood back to admire his work and it was gone.  All he had to show for it was a purple hand.  You see my poor little guy is left handed and as he wrote from left to right with his left hand it erased his hard work.  I'm right handed and when I try to do hand-over-hand activities it is a challenge.  

Luckily it's summer and my purple-handed lefty will come clean in the pool