Sunday, November 22, 2015

All I Want For Black Friday!

It's time for The Primary Pack's 2nd Annual ALL I WANT FOR BLACK FRIDAY Linky! We're so excited to share and giveaway one HUGE bundle of our most wish listed TPT products. We're also sharing with you what's on OUR wish lists, both in the classroom and in our personal lives!

Keep reading for details, and be sure to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway at the end!
I'll admit -- I LOOOOOVE Black Friday! I'm sure my husband would beg to differ, but I just can't help a good deal! This year it was so hard to decide what's on my Black Friday wish list. My husband and I are taking a Christmas cruise in the Caribbean, so there's a handful of items I'd like to get before we leave. I figured I'd just narrow down for you the 3 places I'll spend most of time shopping for the following items:

1.) Luggage - Never underestimate the value of good luggage. It may sound lame, but our current luggage situation is ROUGH.

2.) Books!!!!!! You better believe I'll be buying quite a few books to take with me to read on the beach! Any good recommendations? (I'll be honest, I'm a junky/romance/girly book lover...) I'm going to try to read for MYSELF, not for school!

3.) Clothes - A vacation of course means I need all new dresses and swimsuits and cute clothes, right? Right.

I also have a few classroom/TPT items on MY wish list for my 6th graders...

1.) I love EVERYTHING from Teaching With A Mountain View, so of course I need a bundle of her Advanced Reading Task Cards.

2.) Text Structure Concept Posters from Runde's Room - I have her Math Concept Posters and just LOVE them, so I know these will be equally as awesome for my 6th graders.

3.) Argument Writing in 6th Grade resource pack from Appleslices - We start argument writing in January, so I know this will be perfect!

4.) Christmas Coordinate Graphing Mystery Pictures from Kristine Nannini - I purchased the Thanksgiving pictures and they were a HIT, so I'm sure these will be, too!

1.) Main Idea Mysteries - This is one of my FAVORITE resources I've ever made. It's full of engaging activities, printables, short main idea reading passages for 1st & 2nd grade!

2.) Let's Talk About It - I love this pack because it TOTALLY gets your students having meaningful conversations about text!

3.) Grammar Posters - Over 45 colorful grammar posters for your focus walls! I love to print these 4 to a page (directions included) and put them on a binder ring for small groups!

Drumroll please.... Check out this HUGE giveaway package you can win by entering below! There is a resource from almost everyone in The Primary Pack, perfect for all primary grades!! Good luck, friends and happy shopping!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now It's Your Turn To Join The Fun! 

Just a few rules to follow and your on your way:

  1. Download the images above!
  2. Add your personal holiday wishlist to the image titled "My Personal Black Friday Wishlist"
  3. Add your favorite sellers products from your TPT wishlist to the "My Classroom Black Friday Wishlist"
  4. Add your own products to the "For Your Black Friday Wishlist"
  5. Link up below to share your Black Friday Wishlists!
  6. Don't forget to enter our fabulous giveaway above AND visit others linked up below!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Great European Challenge

One of the geography standards for my sixth graders requires them to have a broad understanding of the countries and capital in Europe and the Americas. As I was planning this, I had a few things I needed to figure out:
   1. What does a broad understanding look like?
   2. Do I start with Europe or the Americas?
   3. How can I make this engaging?

I decided I'd share with you all a few ideas I'm implementing as I'm teaching this standard. To really kick-off this standard, I made a HUGE hype out of it. I came up with THE GREAT EUROPEAN CHALLENGE and ran around the classroom high-fiving students.

And they were all like, "What is WRONG with our teacher?!?!" But whatever.

I decided to narrow down the countries in Europe to 24... I figured I'd pick 24 of the major countries & capitals and call that a "broad understanding." We're taking one month to study all of these, and each week we're taking a quick map quiz to see how many we can name.

So here's some ideas you could use in case you're working on some similar geography (whether its states & capitals or other countries):

1. Give the kids a crazy challenge name & kick off the challenge with a bang - You HAVE TO GET INTO IT!

2. Learn WITH your kids. I knew I didn't have all of the European countries and capitals memorized, and I TOLD my kids that! I'm learning right along with them!

3. Let your kids create different ways to learn the material. My students came up with a variety of ideas including: flash cards, online games/quizzes, dry erase maps using sheet protectors, fun phrases - I was quizzing a student on her flash cards and she had trouble coming up with Dublin, so I told her, "It rhymes with bubblin'..." It made her laugh, and now over half the class remembers it because of that. WHATEVER WORKS!

4. Kahoot! When we were coming up with different ways to study, a group of students said, "Can you find us a Kahoot to play for this?" YES. DONE. There were so many public Kahoots that I didn't even have to make one.

5. Today's Country & Capitals -- Because I used to teach primary, we always had sight words all over the room, and we even had a Sight Word of the Day... I figured, why not have a Country & Capital of the Day? If I post it all over the room, they HAVE to learn it, right?!

My students still have 3 weeks until the end of the challenge, but even after just one week I'm seeing HUGE gains. Students who couldn't find a single country in Europe can now name over 10. Some can even name almost 20 of the 24. AND WE'RE HAVING FUN!

What are some ways you teach these geography standards?

Monday, October 5, 2015

Differentiating Your Math Centers... Made Easy!

As a primary teacher, I LOVED math centers. I love that I can meet with small groups while all of my other students were engaged in center activities and games. However, as I'm sure many of you can relate, when I prepped my centers for each week, it became very clear to me that some of my students would NOT be capable of doing the on level center activity.
Now, while you're probably thinking, just give them a different center, I couldn't do it. Seriously, there's always one or two centers that seem to be the highlight, and other students can't WAIT until they get to play it... until they don't... because I gave them a higher or lower leveled center.


I LOVE that my students LOVE math centers, and the last thing I want to do is kill their enjoyment because they're missing out on an activity some of their friends got to do. When your friends are doing an activity that's cool, you want the chance to do it, too!

So that's why I'm releasing a series of DIFFERENTIATED, ready to use ANY TIME of the year, MATH CENTERS. Each themed pack includes five centers, and each math center included is designed in TWO levels -- one geared to a 1st grade level and another geared to a 2nd grade level.
Let me walk you through my first set of Monster Mash Math Centers that I JUST released this weekend!

Here's one of my favorites included in this monster set... Telling Time Dominoes! I knew this would be one of the centers that EVERY KID would want to do, so I made TWO versions: one with time to the hour & quarter hour, and another with time to the five minutes.
Another center included in this pack: Scary Skip Counting -- In this center, students look at a skip counting pattern & determine whether it's skip counting by 2s, 5s, or 10s. They can use a clothespin, bingo chip, or fun eraser to mark the pattern.
Version 1: Skip counting to 120     Version 2: Skip counting to 1,000
Here's a peek at few more centers included in this pack --

Potions & Missing Numbers:
Version 1 - missing numbers up to 10, Version 2 - missing numbers up to 20
 Slimy Subtraction Facts: determine whether a subtraction sentence is TRUE or FALSE
Version 1: subtraction within 10, Version 2: subtraction within 20
I know the value of having centers you can pull out ANY TIME of the year, so I'll be releasing more of these differentiated center packs. Each themed center pack will include FIVE centers, and each center will have TWO versions.

Be on the lookout for the more ANY TIME themes including tasty food, pirates, and camping... Coming Soon! In my TPT store now: Monster Mash Math Centers - click the picture below to grab your copy!
Happy Teaching!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Book Promotion Ideas

As you know, I've started my 5th year of teaching this year in a BRAND NEW grade -- SIXTH! One of the aspects I've been MOST excited about are all the books. I've spent a ton of time this first month of school teaching students about finding good books for themselves. I want them to find books that they love, and I think it starts with me sharing my reading life.  This past weekend, I finished the book Because of Mr. Terupt. It was AMAZING.
One of my students watched the book trailer for this, and before I knew it, she read it, finished it, found the sequels, AND convinced me and numerous other students to read the rest of them. She also convinced the librarian to order more copies so that her friends can read them!

S today I figured I'd share with you today a few ideas of how I'm teaching my students about promoting books to others.

First and foremost, one of my favorites (and my students' favorites)... SHELF TALKERS!
We think of these as movie posters... only for books! Students make them on blank index cards after they've finished a book. They add colorful illustrations, cliffhangers, and short summaries to promote them. Then, we tape them on the shelf right under the book basket where students can find the book.

Our second favorite idea... Genre pins! I actually bought an editable pack of resources from The Sweetest Thing where these are included. It's quite simple... When students finish a book that they want to share, they fill out a genre pin. The genre pin includes: who's recommending it, title & author, what it's about, why you should read it, and where you can find it.
Last, we've started a reading blog on our classroom website. I can't share with your our class website, but I took a screenshot of one example. Students sign up for one day each month where they are in charge of posting on the blog. Throughout the day, students go to our website to read and respond to their classmates.
We're still working on making these a little meatier (so to speak), but the fact they are writing and excited about sharing them is a win so far!

Next up for my students... book trailers! We've been watching them and sharing them with each other, and now my students are eager to make their own. I'll post about that someday when it's finished! :)

How do you involve your students in promoting books to each other?

Monday, August 31, 2015

Sixth Grade vs. First & Second Grade in a Nutshell

Well friends, I've officially made it one entire month with sixth graders.
This man right here has made the transition so much easier. Thankful for his love & support.
Let me share with you some quick thoughts on how this is TOTALLY different from 1st & 2nd graders...

Sixth graders: They know technology better than I do, and they've taught me a thing or two five!
1st & 2nd graders: They can take 30+ minutes just to log in to the computer.

Sixth graders: They either LOVE you or HATE you. There is no middle ground.
1st & 2nd graders: They mostly just love you.

Sixth graders: They get your jokes and sarcasm.
1st & 2nd graders: *Crickets in the room* - They don't get it.

Sixth graders: They're smelly. After recess time is ROUGH. Holy cow.
1st & 2nd graders: Still smelly, but not nearly as bad.

Sixth graders: Cut things out in lightning speed (or so it seems in comparison)
1st & 2nd graders: They'll cut things out... and mess up a million times and cry about it not being just right.

Sixth graders: They can read independently for 20 minutes on DAY ONE.
1st & 2nd graders: We're lucky if we get to 1 minute of independent reading.

Sixth graders: They have preteen hormonal attitudes BIG time.
1st & 2nd graders: All the tears.

Honestly, most days I am enjoying my new adventure in sixth grade. It's definitely challenging me in SO many different ways, and I am surviving. I have loved, loved, LOVED building a community of readers and hearing/building their excitement about books. While I did still enjoy that in 2nd grade, there's just no comparison when you have such great novels at the intermediate level.

If you know much about me, you know that I LOVED teaching math at the primary level. Now, even as I'm teaching sixth grade, I'm noticing some foundational skills that I spent so much time focusing on in 1st & 2nd grade. I'll save that for another post, but let me leave you by saying PLEASE DON'T JUMP TO STANDARD ALGORITHMS! (I have sixth graders borrowing like crazy because they can't do things like 20-8 in their heads)... I'll stop now. But OH MY WORD.

Both primary & intermediate have their ups & downs. I'm thankful for this challenging, growing year in my career. My husband even high-fived me after week two because I made it all week without crying once - that's pretty big for me. I'll leave you with what the Lord's been speaking to me through Daniel --

Happy Monday,

Friday, July 24, 2015

Addition Detectives

Hi everyone!

I'm so excited to share with you one of my newest products that I've just released. Let me start with how I came up with idea. And I'll be honest -- it was not cute. No clipart. No real theme. Just pure content and high levels of thinking for the small group of kiddos I was working with. That's what's important anyway!

I came up with the idea when I was working with a small group of my first graders. It was the end of the year and I wanted to make sure we were using up every second we had with valuable instruction. And let's be real... At the end of the year, it better super engaging or these kids are not going to want to have anything to do with it. So I decided to turn everything into CHALLENGES. I chose activities where if they completed it correctly, they got to "level up" and move on to the next challenge.

And really... the activities were extensions of things we'd previously worked on in the year, but whatever. You tell the kids there are challenges and levels involved and they're on board.

So anyway, one day they had to use a given set of numbers to make addition sentences. For example, if I gave them the numbers 4, 7, and 3, they would make 4 + 3 = 7. For some kiddos, it was more difficult. I'd give them something like: 2, 2, 5, 9, 4 and they'd make 25 + 4 = 29.

But seriously. When I did it with them, I had index cards cut into small squares where I wrote numbers on them and addition, subtraction, and equal signs. Some kids were ready for more challenging problems, so I just kept cutting up more cards than I had planned on using! Let's be honest: Real Life Isn't Always Laminated! (click for the blog post from Blair Turner).

Now, when I did the activity with my small groups, it was a bit chaotic because I had squares of paper ALL OVER MY CARPET. So that's when my lightbulb went off -- JUST MAKE IT. AND GO ALL OUT WITH THE THEME AND THE KIDS WILL LOVE IT. So here you have...
 The idea is simple: students still use number cards to make addition sentences true. With the product, I made four different levels, so as they complete one level, they move up to a more difficult level. Each level begins with a mystery like the one below.
These little intros to the four mysteries just add an element of engagement. :) Once students complete the ten problems, they can read the card that tells how the mystery was solved. 
Students use fingerprint number cards to move around and make addition sentences true. The problems shown below are from level one (addition to 10). 

If students are struggling with a problem, they can pull out the TOP SECRET FILES (aka - CLUES for those friends that may need a bit of direction).

These clues will tell them where ONE of the numbers in the addition sentence is located. Included in the product is also a recording sheet for them to record the addition sentences they make. Once they complete a level, they can color in the thumbprint on their DETECTIVE ID card.

When they complete all four levels, you can reward with a CERTIFICATE!

Want to try this out with your students? You can head HERE to grab your copy!

Happy Teaching!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

I've Been Absent... I'm Sorry.

Friends, I've been MIA in the blogging world here recently. I know, I know, I rarely blog anyway (BUT I'M TRYING TO BE BETTER). So I figured I'd let you know what's going on over here at Simply Creative in Kentucky.

WHAT?! Yep, I crossed out "in Kentucky" and I'm still pretty sad about it. I'm now... Simply Creative not in Kentucky... because I moved to Indiana... yep. The hubby and I moved to Indiana at the end of June and life has been BUSY! Let me give you a little recap. :)
Enjoying a little Bible putt-putt (because that's a real thing in KY, no joke) before the big move!
For those of you who don't know, I actually grew up in Indiana, went to college in Kentucky, fell in love (with my hubby and my job), and we stayed for awhile. However, as the Lord would have it, we prayed and prayed and made the decision to move to Indiana after my husband got into law school! While leaving Kentucky and my school family was SOOOO difficult (just imagine puddles and puddles of tears -- not even kidding), I'm overjoyed to be back. We are living much closer to my family, so it's been wonderful to be able to spend more time together. When I told my dad back in the spring that we were moving back home he actually cried on the phone. He's precious and I love him.
One of first days exploring our new hometown!
I'm happy to say that after tons of applications, resume editing (over & over & over), emailing, phone calls, a Skype interview (YUCK - seriously, those are for the birds), a face-to-face interview, dealing with the Praxis people to transfer my scores (THEY ARE THE WORST. I MIGHT TELL YOU MORE LATER BUT TRUST ME ON THAT FOR NOW)... I'm employed as a SIXTH grade teacher! What the WHAT!?!
I may or may not be wearing my school shirt from my previous school on the day I took my hubby to see my new school! 
I've been busy transforming this space right here to make it work for the BIG kiddos. Here's a little peek into my room, but I'll show you more at another time!
Adding lots of color, getting organized, and making it functional for BIG kids!
Yes. I'm absolutely terrified. I'm used to the little people. The ones that come up to you and hug you for no reason. The ones who still think school is THE BOMB. The ones who come up to you with a little bump on the arm and you make a joke about chopping it off and all is better in the world... I'm going to miss the little people.

But the Lord is preparing me. I know that for sure. Each day I get a little less worried and a little more excited. The big kids will challenge me. I will probably be stressed out and surely cry once a week (but I'll be honest, I cry that often anyway)... But I will do everything I can to be the teacher the Lord has called me to be for them.

Monday, June 15, 2015

TPT Seller Challenge - Week One

Hey! I'm linking up with Third in Hollywood, Sparkling in Second, Teach Create Motivate, and Peppy Zesty Teacherista to complete the week one of the TPT Seller Challenge! This week the challenge is to update a product and its cover. I knew EXACTLY which product I needed to update--- my Kindergarten Word Problem Book! It's one of my top selling items and packed full of great kindergarten word problems, but the cover... man, oh, man... I KNEW it needed some TLC!
Here's the old version... it was BORING! I'm pretty sure when I created this as a TPT newbie I hadn't actually invested in clip art, digital papers, borders, fonts... all of that makes a HUGE difference! Now I've invested in tons of KG fonts, Melonheadz illustrations, Graphics From The Pond clip art, and so much more -- it really does help to invest in these things!

So here's the brand-new version...
Seriously, it's so much better. The colors are bright and stand out. My font choices are so much more appealing, and the quick details I wanted my buyers to see are on the cover and stand out.

Here's a look at the two side-by-side.
I think this new cover my actually be one of my new favorites of all the covers I've designed!

I did edit a few details on the inside.
Throughout the word problem book, I updated the fonts so that they are much more Kindergarten friendly. I added primary writing lines and Melonheadz clipart so that it matches my product cover. When I look at the before image, a little part of me cringes. Why did I have so much white space?! It just did NOT all look good together. Click the cover below to check out the full product!
So, what do you think?! I'm pretty sure I'm ready to go back and update my word problem covers for first and second grade now too!

**UPDATE** It's only a few hours later and I just couldn't stand it one more second to not have my first and second grade books updated! Look how cute they turned out! All word problem books are on sale for the rest of the week!

A huge thanks for hosting to these wonderful four ladies -- I can't wait to read all about how others update their products, and I'm excited to hear about our next challenge during week two!
Sparkling in Second
Peppy Zesty Teacherista

Monday, June 8, 2015

Get Organized For The Year!

Hey Everyone! I'm SOOOOO excited to share with you all my NEWEST organizational LIFESAVER... Seriously, it's jam-packed FULL of organizational goodies that will help you keep track of your curriculum, units, small groups, student data... ALL OF IT!

We as teachers have soooo many things to remember. I don' know about you, but I can't count the number of times I've found a neat idea and said, "I'll remember that for when it comes time to teach ____!"

And then... I forget. The unit is over. I forgot about that awesome idea. FAIL.
I decided that I needed a few quick, one-page templates to write down my thoughts, ideas, anchor charts, plans for assessment, etc for my units. That's why I decided to create the Curriculum Organizer!

There are SO many great templates in here that I'm going to take you through a blog post FULL of pictures (it's better than my ramblings anyway!) I should also mention-- ALL templates are available in an EDITABLE PowerPoint file, too!

First up... Let's plan the YEAR AT A GLANCE starting with LONG RANGE PLANS!
On a quick, two-page spread, you can plan your year and find your units at a quick glance in ALL subject areas!
Use the one-page monthly "At A Glance" templates to dive into a little more detail about what you're teaching in ALL  subject areas.

When you're finally ready to begin your next unit, use these one-page templates to help you remember all of your fantastic ideas (or those ideas you stole from someone else), write down your anchor chart plans, objectives, ideas... I could go on!
For those of you that like to get really detailed, use these WEEKLY SNAPSHOTS to show a quick plan for your week.
I've included small group plans, conference notes, checklists, and SO MUCH MORE for reading, writing, and math! 

I divided my binder up into FIVE sections: Year At A Glance, Student Data, Reading Organizer, Writing Organizer, & Math Organizer. (I couldn't fit all of the covers/sections in one picture, but you get the idea.)
Here's a peek at the READING organizer (not all templates shown).
 Writing Organizer... (not all templates shown).
 Math Organizer... (not all templates shown).
A peek at SMALL GROUP organization...
 Some helpful STUDENT DATA checklists...
So there we have it! The CURRICULUM ORGANIZER! Click on the picture below to purchase your very own organizer -- it's also EDITABLE for those of you wanting to customize it!
Happy Organizing!