Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"Fishin' for Addition"

One of my favorite ways to reinforce a concept is through games. I feel kind of sneaky when I use a game...my students are so focused on having fun that they don't realize they are learning! {hehe}

I love sharing almost as much as I love creating! {HERE} is a link to one of my most favorite games I have created! It really is not complicated, and it is a {snap!} to set up! You can use these cards for so many different concepts. The matching sheet included is for addition. I would have students find matches that added to a specific number. It was played like "Go Fish," but instead of asking for a duplicate number, they needed the other addend to reach the specific sum.  The title of my game was "Fishin for Addition." Enjoy! I look forward to getting to create other games to share :)

Monday, July 25, 2011

New Year's Resolution Linky Party

Another one of my favorite blogs Clutter Free Classroom is hosting a linky party to share your new year resolutions for your classroom. I so enjoyed browsing other's resolutions and coming up with some of my own! It is a great activity to get yourself mentally prepared for the upcoming school year.

As a brand new teacher and a brand new mom, my resolutions are really geared to getting me through this first year!

1. Start organized and stay organized! I am potentially the most unorganized person in the world; but dream of being so. I always begin with the best of intentions, but end up failing when it gets hectic. I truly believe that part of me surviving this year depends on me staying on top of organization both at school and at home. I am already taking steps in this direction by getting the classroom and Rylan's nursery in order.

2. Manage my time. This goal will probably be determined by how well I achieve my first goal. As an almost mom, I already feel incredible guilt about spending time away from my little man. I will be going back to school only 11 short days after having Rylan (that is if he comes on the day of my induction.) That is one of the reasons I am working so hard to be as prepared as possible. I want to be the best mom and teacher I can possibly be.

3. Watch my classroom spending habit. As a college student and student teacher, I spent an exorbitant amount of money during my internships. At one point I was spending upwards of $50 a week on my school store as part of my behavior system. I often felt guilt and the need to provide for my low SES students. (My school has 98% of our students on free or reduced lunch). Part of my learning experience was learning that my time and love means more to my students than the material things I can give them. I plan on setting a certain amount of money per pay period aside for classroom expenses, and NOT going over that amount. I also plan to sign up for Donor's Choose and try to get my classroom adopted by a local business. One foreseen expense is going to be paper. Unfortunately I only get one case of paper a year and am expected to make a LOT of copies in the form of test prep for the FCAT...

4. Try my best NOT to get scared of the FCAT. Florida is ALL about the high stakes testing; and 3rd grade is one of the most affected grades. If my students don't pass the FCAT, they don't pass 3rd grade. This is a LOT of pressure on myself, my students, and my administration. Our curriculum is designed by our curriculum coaches in the county. Everything we teach is decided by someone else. This year our school has adopted a schedule for each grade. On this schedule, we are told what to teach, when to teach it, and how to teach it. When I first saw this schedule I wanted to cry. There is NO room for creativity or deviation from the schedule. So...my goal is to do my best not to get scared. Yes I have to use this specific textbook at this specific time...but who says I can't use white boards to answer the questions? Who says I can't use foldables or manipulatives while I use our "strand attack" materials? No one...yet.

5. Handle all things with prayer and a smile. This may be the hardest for me. With less than 6 days until I meet my little man, I am already having anxiety attacks about leaving him. I am scared that I will spend my days counting down the hours until I can hold him again and hurt my students by being ineffective. I am also worried about being the "new kid." Yes, I interned at this school last year for a semester, but being an intern and being a fellow employee are two different things. As of July 1, Florida no longer offers tenure to their teachers...those who have it, have it. One of the positions filled at my school was to cover a teacher on maternity leave and was listed as "temporary." However, the girl hired for that position will NOT be temporary (I went to school with her...she is amazing). A total of 4 people from my program were hired at my school. That means at the end of this year, one of us must go so the tenured teacher can come back. I am the only 3rd grade hire (the grade so harshly judged by the FCAT). With 19 days before school starts, I am already concerned about my position for next year. So...I will handle this the only way possible- with prayer. God never promised life would be easy, but He does promise that His plans are to prosper us and give us a hope.

The Most AhhMazing Giveaway Yet!!

Ok so those of you that follow Mrs. Farley's adorable blog Oh' Boy 4th Grade know that she has shared some wonderful things! Her current giveaway could be the most ridiculously ahhhmazing giveaway I have ever seen!

Here is the info...

That is right... over $850 worth of digital scrabooking goodies from the equally ahhhmazing ladies at ScrapDelicious!

I hope and hope and hope that I win!! 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Thinking Like the Hare, Moving Like the Tortoise

 What a whirlwind this past weekend was! Between packing for the hospital, last minute nursery prep, and my extreme nesting urges, I am one tired almost momma!

Open house is August 19th and I still have so much to do! I have a million ideas running through my head (and Pinterest board) but seem to be completing projects at terribly slow pace!! I did manage to get a few things done...

I started with this and a package of clothes pins...

After several third degree burns...

I will use these on a rope to display student work in the
hallway.

I can't wait to fill this thing up with pictures of my little family!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Pinterest and Post-Its! (&& a Linky Party too!)

Hi, my name is Ashley and I am addicted to Pinterest.
Wheww! That felt good. The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, right?
I really do have a problem. It starts with a "quick look" and ends up 4 hours later with 20 new pins and a million new ideas! Pinterest is a great place to find ideas for the classroom. I personally have found several anchor charts and bulletin board ideas. The only problem with Pinterest is the fact that there are SO many great ideas... I often feel like I can't pull them off or that I don't have time to be as crafty as I would like. 

Today I decided to take some of my pins of posters and duplicate them for my classroom! I tweaked the posters to fit my needs. All posters were made using Post-Its! The bright colors of the Post-Its goes perfectly with my color scheme of my room. 

Here is what I made: (Please excuse the orange print at the bottom of the pictures...that would be my {VERY} large baby bump!)


I will use this to keep track of my student's AR goals, as well as the class goals. Each student will be assigned a number. 


I love this poster! Students will use Post-Its to recommend books to one another!




This is such a cute poster. After laminating, I will attach velcro dots next to each level. I will use a black arrow to point to the level that I expect my students to use.














After writing this post I came across an awesome linky party and giveaway about Post-Its!! Join the fun over at Create Teach Share (an adorable blog with tons of ideas!!)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Mailbox Finds!



Whoo! Today when I opened my mailbox I was shocked to find it packed full of packages and envelopes! Here is what came in today:



2 {FREE} packages of Similac Formula AND $20 in coupons!!

$5 off Bounty (This was a FB giveaway- this will make a 6pk {FREE})



{FREE} Cotonelle Roll Extender (For those mega rolls...)



A $35 coupon booklet from P&G and a Publix coupon booklet!



{FREE} samples of an expensive shampoo, conditioner, and styling cream.




 I make a habit of checking out All*You's website daily to sign up for their free samples. I have gotten a lot of free samples and gifts this way!!

This also came in the mail. Not free but worth the $0.87 for the $60 in coupons inside!!

This was a great day for mail!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Waiting...

It seems everyone that is pregnant has had their babies! Everyone except me... Why must my child be so difficult already? Doesn't he know that we are MORE than ready for him to get here? All this waiting is driving me insane. 
My little guy...
On the positive side, I am getting a lot of work done for next year. I am creating vocabulary picture and definition cards for the entire FL Treasures reading series for 3rd grade. I am also creating math vocabulary cards for FL's Go Math series. I will share when I am done :) 

Meanwhile, I am also trying to think of a community building activity to complete during the first week of school for my kiddos...any ideas??

Monday, July 18, 2011

{Yay} for Freebies!! (and a little of my opinion...)

I have yet to blog about my "New Hobby" as indicated in my blog title! I got into couponing back in March. Since then I have experienced highs and lows like no ones business; I wrestle with the amount of time it sometime takes to prepare and shop and wonder if what I am doing is even worth it. Finally, I seem to have it together. I have seriously stripped down the time it takes me to prepare, as well as my expectations of what it truly means to coupon.

Like many, I got interested in couponing thanks to TLC's show. Many regular couponers seem to think this show is the bane of their existence, I now see why. The purpose of couponing should NOT be to get everything you don't need for free, rather it should be consistent savings each week. "Shelf Clearers," those who show up when the sale starts and take the store's entire stock, are quite annoying. There is really nothing more frustrating than spending time planning your trips just to find that there is nothing in stock! The people on TLC usually take more than they need (remember the episode where the woman had a massive amount of diapers, and no baby?? What about the one with all the cat food, and no cats??) Yes, some of them donate, but I still have a problem when they take everything in the store and leave nothing for the rest of us. I must admit Matt and I do have a small stockpile of hygiene items and diapers, which will come in handy when I have very little time to shop with a baby in tow. But this stockpile has grown slowly and steadily, and I NEVER take more than my share at CVS or Walgreens.

Now off of my soap box...
Some of the greatest deals I have scored have not come from coupons at all! In fact, they have come from Facebook! Simply by "liking" a company you can get lots of amazing deals and freebies! For instance, ETA Cuisenaire hosted what I thought would be a random drawing to receive 10 sets of their fabulous VersaTiles. All you had to do was comment on how you would use them! Imagine my surprise when I woke up this morning to their most recent status: I

"After a random drawing (using http://www.random.org/) of all who participated in the 10 Pack of Versatile Answer Cases, the Contest Winner is..... Kim Ryan Walter. Well, for the big set anyway. The remainder of you will get a 10 pack of the Versatile Minis (a smaller version). EVERYONE IS A WINNER! A HUGE THANK YOU to all who contributed."

I had to read it twice...YES! I too would be getting 10 FREE sets of Versatile Minis!! YAY!! I am so excited!



Other great deals I have scored on FB are: $5 off Bounty (which has the potential to make it free), 2 (10) packs of Tide Stain Release, a NettiPot (for my darling Matt's sinus issues), and several coupons to restaurants. In my experience, FBing is a great way to get some deals!!

Friday, July 15, 2011

OH How I {Love} Target (& Office Depot)

Check out Ladybug's Teacher Files hilarious and {true} blog post about shopping for your classroom! I have totally done everything she admitted to! Her post is also a linky party to show off your recent classroom finds! As a new teacher and coupon-er, there are few things I love more than shopping for my classroom while saving money! Here are some of my recent deals:

Target- If I were to marry a store, it would be Target. No other store makes me as happy! Even though the nearest store is 45 minutes away, I still manage to go several times a month! I recently saw a post where someone found pocket charts in the Dollar Spot! I knew I MUST find some! (In my school we have to display 3 weeks of vocabulary at one time, FCAT {insert blehhh here} words, and each week's spelling words). My darling Matthew happens to work semi-near a Target and offered to stop and pick up some for me! After going wayy out of his way to go to not one, but TWO stores, he only found one :( Luckily for me my shop-a-holic grandmother and aunt (who happens to be an amazing teacher) decided to take a random Wednesday night trip to Target (this one was an hour away). I went for pocket charts, and left with so many great finds!! Here is a summary...

1. I will use this bucket as my "turn it in" tray.
2. This book is filled with quick and easy science experiments! As a person who wholeheartedly believes in learning through exploration, I can't wait to use these!
3. This dry erase time mat will be used as part of my "When I'm Done" materials. Each week I will have various activities that go along with our focus of the week for those students who finish early.
4. Probably my favorite find!! These dry erase sentence strips are PERFECT for class games or whole group lessons. Dry erase boards are SO expensive. These strips allow enough room for students to write AND cost $0.25 a piece!
5. I love these little erasers for the dry erase boards.
6. TA-DA! My pocket charts!!
7. Table top pocket charts with dry erase board! (even at $2.50 they are a find!)

Again, my {obsession} with Target is well founded!

I also feel like I need to mention the awesome deal I got at Office Depot this past Sunday. There are no pictures, as I have already stashed the stuff in my classroom. (One of the benefits to living/teaching in a tiny town...I have a gate/building key and can get in anytime I want!)
Office Depot has an amazing reward system for teachers called "Star Teachers." Not only do you get a percentage back in office supplies and 15% off of copying and laminating, they also have special deals on a regular basis. This week they are running a special where you get 100% {yes, as in ALL} back on several items. I purchased 2 12pks of Mr. Sketch (those delicious smelly markers I seem to have an unnatural affection for), a NICE stapler, and a 100 pk of file folders...all of which I will get back in the form of an Office Depot gift card! Yay!

In a side note...I began having cramps yesterday at 10:30, after 12 hours I began to get worried. We decided to drive the 30 minutes to the hospital I will be delivering at to be on the safe side. 1 hour of monitoring later, I was sent home. Apparently I am having contractions, but they are not strong enough to do anything :( Looks like I will be having an induction! My womb is too hospitable!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Blog Mixer Linky Party! (Fun, Fun!)

Yearn To Learn is having a linky party to help spread the word about some amazing blogs!
Here is what you put in your post:

1. Find a blogger who is a "New Kid on the Blog"
(Let's say someone who has blogged 2 months or less and has less than 200 followers)
2.  Find a blogger in your same grade level
3.  Find a blogger in a different grade level
4.  Find a cute blog button and post it.



I love linky parties almost as much as I love finding new blogs!!

Here is my contribution...
1. One of my recent finds and favorite blogs (who doesn't love cupcakes??) is Mrs. E at The Sweet Life of 3rd Grade. She is having a classroom library linky party! Check her out!

2. Ms. Durbin has an adorable blog at 3rd Grade's A Hoot. Definitely worth adding to your favorites!

3. One of the most amazing and inspiring blogs to me is Mrs. Farley's blog Oh' Boy 4th Grade! She has some of the best ideas! (As well as one of the cutest blogs I have ever seen!)

4. Courtney at Miss Third Grade has such a cute button!! I would post her button but I don't really know how to do that yet... Oh the frustrations of a new blogger!!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Parent/Teacher Communication

I believe that parent/teacher communication is vital to a successful school year. In my internships I saw what lack of communication can lead to...scary!
In order to prevent that I created a weekly communication tool. I have seen behavior calendars that either the teacher or student fills out, but I wanted something that had students take responsibility for their behavior and work habits in the week AND allowed the parents and I to write comments if needed. I whipped up this little form! I am quite pleased :)  I plan on copying this front to back and slipping it in a pocket protector that will go in my students' homework folders (ahh another thing on my "to-do" list). {HERE} is a copy of my creation! Enjoy!
What do you use for weekly communication?? I would love new ideas!

10's Of Me!

Mrs. Owens at "Go Fourth With Mrs. Owens" is having a "Top 10 Things To Know About Me" linky party!! Visit and link up {HERE}


Here are 10 things to know about me:
1. I am first and foremost a Christian. Ask me about it :)


2. I am in love with the most amazing guy. He is a keeper! He made it possible for me to follow my dreams of becoming a teacher. I am so lucky!

Matt and I


3. I graduated from USF in 2011, but am a DIE HARD Gator fan!

4. In 2007 my aunt adopted the cutest/sweetest/most amazing kid in the world from foster care. He is my obsession! 
Here he is on his adoption day!

Here is is now!
5. I am expecting my first child in a few weeks. Matt and I are so excited for Rylan Walker to join our family!
6. I am obsessed with Pinterest. Follow my boards {HERE}.
7. I am a terrible procrastinator. 
8. I love crafting, but have a hard time finishing my projects. (As evidenced by my messy craft room).
9. Caffeine Free Diet Coke keeps me going.
10. I {LOVE} Fancy Nancy! I frequently break out my tutu for special occasions.


Classroom Management Clip Chart

I have debated for so long about how I would run my behavior system. In my final internship I implemented a PBS system where students were rewarded for good behavior with "Panther Cash" that they could spend at our "School Store" on Fridays. This became incredibly expensive for me. With a baby almost here, there is no way I could pull that off this year. I still believe in the power of PBS, and will still use the "Panther Cash", just on a smaller scale.
I decided to go with a clip chart, I have seen this on pinterest several times as well as on other teaching blogs. I wanted a chart with cute colors and fonts so I decided to create one myself! Click {HERE} to get it! I will post pictures of the finished chart soon!

UPDATE: I decided I was not in LoVe with my chart...so I tweaked it and made a new one! Click {HERE} to get it! Enjoy!

Extreme Classroom Makeover! (The Beginning...)



Over the past few weeks I have been slowly moving into my classroom. This is no easy feat!! Less than three weeks to induction + a second floor classroom = one tired momma! Even though this is only the second year my building will be occupied (it was built just in time for last year), I will be the third teacher to be in this room. This means A LOT of organizing and cleaning. Thank goodness for my sweet Matthew! He has been such a big help! From scraping the (yuck!!) glue dots left behind on every surface, carrying my massive collection of bins and boxes, to organizing my mountain of math manipulatives, he has been amazing!! Here are some before shots of my classroom.

Future classroom library location.

Back cabinets (see the glue dots?)

It's hard to see, but there is a long green counter that stretches the whole length of the wall... I don't know how I feel about this yet...

The front of my room.












































I forgot to take shots of my amazing closet! It is HUGE and connects my classroom to that of another teacher (who just happens to be the person I did my final internship with) but is full of leftover things from the previous occupants- mostly math manipulatives!