Saturday, January 31, 2015

SecondGrade Smartypants are TOADALLY Awesome!

A few weeks back, I teamed up with Melissa over at Jungle Learners 
for her second PRODUCT SWAP.
(Click image or HERE to find out about more products)

I took part in her first one; I was so fortunate to meet Monique over at More Than Math by Mo and get to try out her Sight Word puzzles AND printables

This time around, I got the opportunity to swap with Katie and Lisen over at Second Grade Smartypants! 
(Click image or HERE to visit Second Grade Smartypants)

These two ladies have so many amazing products in their TPT store was honestly hard to choose just 1 product to try out. 

After some consideration, I opted for their Valentine's Day Craftivity Unit!
(Click image or HERE to purchase)

These two gals made craft and writing templates for 5, yes 5, different valentines. 
...and a boombox.

I was planning to have several students, from the local elementary school, pick out their favorite templates and then gather up all the supplies and let them create valentines for their teachers. 

BUT BLIZZARD JUNO had other plans. Namely, creating 3 days of snow and restricted traffic (yep, RI banned driving for all except emergency vehicles and plow trucks). 

So I went with option B...gather up some friends' kiddos (plus mine) and stick to one template: I TOADALLY Love You Toad

Katie & Lisen's crafts are made with construction paper which is what I had planned on using, but closed stores made that slightly impossible. Another option is having students color the templates. It works, but it does require more time and you need to remind students to CUT first then COLOR (I didn't and so they colored the sides with labels...oh well). 

Also, if you're going with the coloring option, I suggest using card stock (I did) and it makes cutting easier for those younger kiddos. All of the templates have thick black outlines so even if your students haven't mastered the art of perfect cutting yet, their final products won't be too far off!  

After all the coloring & cutting was complete. These "toadally" awesome kids assembled the pieces (with gluesticks) and made the cutest lil' frogs you might ever see.
I really appreciated how simple the assembly process was! And I didn't even make an example for them to see, I just verbally walked them through the steps. 

The older girls used the writing template to tell their parents why they TOADALLY love them. 
You want to win this awesome unit in time for Valentine's Day?
Enter my giveaway for Second Grade Smartypants' product.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Katie & Lisen selected my CONSONANT COMBOS: INITIAL BLENDS, DIGRAPHS, & TRIGRAPHS pack. Head over to their blog to read how they used it and enter to WIN IT!
Now, go see what other teachers swapped and enter to win more giveaways!!!

Friday, January 23, 2015

I've Been Missing Out ( might be too)

The other day I was puttsing (or spelled putzing, depending on your accent) around on Facebook and noticed that I wasn't seeing a lot of posts from the FAN PAGES I've LIKED (a.k.a. become a fan of). 

Don't get me wrong, I don't want my Facebook newsfeed to be overrun by ads for big brands, but if there is a sale or a small business from my community posts, I wanna know about it. I like seeing what my fellow blogger/teacher-authors are promoting/sharing. 

But, I wasn't seeing any of it! 
The mice started turning the big ole' wheel and my fingers started typing. 
Oh Google, how I love thee. 

Yes! I had made one of the common errors of Facebook users!
I had not told Facebook that 
"HEY! I actually wanna see what those Fan Pages post"
...apparently "LIKING" the page isn't enough. 

So, here's 3 quick suggestions for all those people who may not want to miss what's happening with the pages you've shown interest in. 

1.) Go to the Fan Page, click on the LIKED tab and click on GET NOTIFICATIONS. 
(This tells Facebook "I wanna see what/when they post stuff."

2.) Every so often, click on PAGE FEEDS (left hand side on your HOME screen) and scroll through just the posts made by the FAN PAGES you've LIKED.

3.) The more you interact (like/share/comment on FAN PAGE posts), the more likely you are to see those pages show up in your newsfeed. 

There you have it, friends. 
A simple solution to making sure YOU DON'T MISS OUT.
Because, lets be honest, I've missed quite a few Flash Freebies, quick sale promos, and opportunities to enter giveaways. 
As Rob Lowe says, don't be "this me".

Friday, January 16, 2015

You Oughta Know: Letter School

Happy Weekend friends! 
I'm linking up with Jasmine over at Buzzing with Mrs. McClain for 
After reading about what I think YOU OUGHT KNOW, click on the links below to read about what other fabulous bloggers think YOU OUGHTA KNOW about too. 

My little guy is in Pre-K and has really taken a liking to all things letters. 
He's all about identifying letters and telling me their phonetic sounds. 
Over the past several months, he's started chunking sounds together to make words. 
Friends, this makes my "teacher heart" sing! Watching your own little one embrace the joys of learning to read is beyond words. 

So, I wanted to share with you a great little app that we purchased
awhile back for him to use.
This handwriting app is only $4.99 and is well worth the investment. 
{Click HERE for the iTunes App}

First off, let me clarify that this app is NOT just about letters, it covers numbers 1-10 as well.
Kids are able to explore uppercase letters, lowercase letters, and numbers through various interactions with proper formations, name identification, and phonetic sounds. 

After choosing a particular letter or number, kids are exposed to and interact with letter/number formation by performing one of the following options:
TAP - tap the dots (in the correct order) for the letter/number to appear.
TRACE - use your finger to drag the lines from dot to dot. If done correctly, a fun image retraces the letter/number.
WRITE - free-write the letter/number (reminders are given if necessary).

All the while, kids are earning stars and there are 2 levels of challenge for each letter (upper and lower) and number. 

Want to give it a FREE trial run?
Try Letter School Lite and get a sample of what you can experience with Letter School full version.

Hope you pick up some great ideas this weekend.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

New Year, New Look least for some of my products. 

Truth be told, I'd quit making New Year's resolutions because 
On average, my resolutions (in the past) have latest all of about 3-5 days before I quit whatever it was that I had resolved to do. I think the reason I've failed so much in the past is because my goals were never really that realistic. 

Not this year! I've made a pact with myself to follow through with a 
VERY MANAGEABLE resolution - 
giving my current TPT products the upgrades they so desperately need. 

When I began this TPT journey a couple years back, I didn't really know what I was doing. I wasn't wise to the ways of amazing clipart, copyright laws, and stretching my creative limits. As I've journeyed with other ah-inspiring teacher-bloggers, I've learned so much and knew that I needed to go back to the beginning and breath new life into some of my first attempts at being a teacher-author. 

In 2014, I gave this little number a facelift by adding B/W versions 
of the original practice pages.
This year, it's undergone a COMPLETE OVERHAUL . 
(Click on image or here to purchase)

I kept the original game (Let's Get Speedy) but revamped it by changing the name (See-Read-Repeat) and dressing up the flashcards with color and clipart. The effective method is still the same (don't worry), but the colorfulness adds an attention-grabbing element.

To beef up the variety of the cards, I added corresponding picture cards to create a fun game called Pick(ture) the Sound. This listening game can be played in pairs or in whole group, with or without the blend/digraph/trigraph cards, as a literacy center or a time-filler/exit slip...the possibilities are endless. 

My sweet boy and his buddies LOVE the guessing game 
HedBandz by SpinMaster.
Sound Crowns is a play on that great game!
Students slip on easy-to-assemble crowns and insert 
BDT (Blend/Digraph/Trigraph) Art Cards.
In small groups or whole groups, students ask describing questions about the image on their crown before guessing what picture they may be wearing.
 Additional paper strips are provided to insure crowns fit students' heads. 
However, I love this idea of attaching (2-3 staples) elastic headbands so crowns can be fitted to several students without readjusting. 
OR you could use extra large rubber bands. 
This same crown fit perfectly on several heads in my house and never ripped.
In the classroom, I'd definitely laminate the crown first before stapling the elastic headbands/rubber bands . 

To wrap up the renovation, I reworked the practice pages (Write & Highlight) to include simple borders, better spacing, and cleaner fonts. Additionally, I added 2 extra pages (This or That? and Creative with Consonant Combos) to extend the versatility of the practice pages.

For Write & Highlight, students fill in the missing blend/digraph/trigaph to complete the word associated with each picture. I have students use their highlighters to identify each consonant cluster.

This or That? is a great way for students to demonstrate understanding of the difference between blends and digraphs/trigraphs. There is some confusion as to which consonant pairs are which so this helps my friends clarify what constitutes a blend and what the letters need to do in order to be a digraph/trigraph.

And to appease my authors and illustrators, I enjoy including an activity (Creative with Consonant Combos) where their creative minds can come to life on paper. 

 Upgrading the first of many products in my TPT store was so gratifying and I'm feeling accomplished! I think I'll stick with this year's resolution...

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