Saturday, September 17, 2016

Homework Motivation and Organization

With school back in full swing, we needed a way to ensure that my teenager had all his supplies ready to go for homework.  I made a homework caddy for him and his sister!  I had to order the summer steal food caddy from Target as it was the end of the summer.  It was well worth the wait.  It is huge, and can hold a variety of items.  My brain began turning, this could be more than just a homework caddy--it could be a writing station caddy!

The caddy can fit over 6 composition notebooks, scissor, glue, crayons, color pencils, highlighters, and over 48 sharpened pencils.  

Easy to store and organize your writing center with this caddy!  

It was fun to make and buy this item for my children!  Can't wait to try it out in the classroom!  I would use it for a poetry notebook center.  Students need to cut, glue, and decorate their poems!  

I love how much you can hold in this caddy!  

Friday, June 17, 2016

Yellowstone National Park

Although Yosemite was set aside as protected land during Abraham Lincoln's presidency, it was not the first national park.  Yosemite was set aside as public land, and put under the state of California to control and protect.  But Yellowstone differed from Yosemite in that its borders covered more than one state.  In addition, Wyoming was only a territory at this time.  The lawmakers in DC did not relegate it to a state to manage as it did Yosemite because frankly there wasn't a state to care for the land.  This would be the first national park of the world.  No government has ever done that before, so this became one of America's best ideas.  President Grant signed the act in 1872.

"By the Act of March 1, 1872, Congress established Yellowstone National Park in the Territories of Montana and Wyoming "as a public park or pleasuring-ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people" and placed it "under exclusive control of the Secretary of the Interior." The founding of Yellowstone National Park began a worldwide national park movement. Today more than 100 nations contain some 1,200 national parks or equivalent preserves." (  Finally, in 1916 (yes 100 years ago), they created the National Parks System.  So one organization could control the parks.  Up to that point, many of the parks weren't protected, rather they were exploited for money, entertainment, and amusement.  

Now, this was just a beginning of a long story of how National Parks and its system came into place!  I hope to share more of the story with you!  

 My love for the national parks started young, with rangers taking me through Eleanor Roosevelt's home, to hiking around Jenny Lake in the Tetons, and even one ranger flying me over the Grand Canyon!  It was wonderful to share my love of the parks with my children.  Now I want to share it with you!  

This summer our family visited five national parks and two national monuments.  It was wonderful, and I fell in love with the National Parks all over again!   Here are some of our pictures of Yellowstone!  
 We woke up to a dusting of snow and bison grazing in the snow.  It was magical.  All the other times I went to Yellowstone (as a kid), I went in the middle of July--I didn't see as nearly as much volcanic activity as I did on this trip!  
Bison grazing in the snow

Old Faithful
We took a walk to a look out point to see Old Faithful, rather than watch it from the bleachers below.  We did see it again up close after we finished our walk through the painted pots.  

Painted Pots, near Old Faithful

After we finished our walk of the painted pots, we had lunch, then it was an amazing hike of everything imaginable.  We even saw bear tracks, but luckily no bears!  

Lower Falls of Yellowstone canyon
This was my favorite hike, except being on the edge of the cliff during a hail storm. I am scared of heights, and I kept imagining someone tripping and falling to their death. No guard rails on this part of the hike.  Not so much fun! But then the hail stopped!  

Lower Falls of Yellowstone Canyon
Hot Springs
We made a turn, then started the hike down into the valley.  And we found these hot springs!  It was nice not to walk on sidewalks, or board walks for that matter, and just be next to these wonders.

Clear Lake 
Beyond the hot spring areas, we found this beautiful Clear Lake.  I loved the colors!

Alpine Meadow!  
We walked through some more woods, snow, and then the sun came out and we turned the corner and saw this beauty.  I literally sang, The hills are alive with the sound of music.  

Now for a freebie!  A National Park Graphic Organizer

I found the  clipart from here, and am excited to make more products with the clipart!  You can get my product from my store!  Enjoy, and especially enjoy The National Parks!

Monday, June 13, 2016

National Park Tour

As soon as school let out--we left on a wonderful road trip!  We went to see some of the most amazing National Parks of this nation.  We missed many, which means we will have to go back, but it was still amazing.

This year the National Park Service is 100 years old, and as part of the celebration every fourth grader and their families are invited to come to the parks for free!  Don't worry, they plan to continue this program next year as well!

National Parks Free Pass
Just check out this site--and you and your family, or your fourth grade class can get their free pass to one of our nations greatest ideas!  I can't wait to share with you our amazing pictures of the National Parks we were able to visit--and share information of many many more that I want to visit!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Mincraft Monster School Takes the Parcc!

Minecraft Monsters take the Parcc

Monster School: Parcc Testing
        Emily the Zombie Pigman  had to take a Parcc test from Herobrine (the monster school teacher).   Harrison, the Skeleton,   and Joshua the Elder Guardian had already started the Parcc test.  Harrison was catching up on the slime.  When the Wither was about to take the test, the Zombie Pigman was writing the words!

The Silverfish needed help to write those words. Nobody wanted to help him so the Silverfish used his tail to write the words.  His keyboard got soaking wet.  Just kidding, it really isn’t a fish.

Herobrine shook his head.

When the Wither got some correct, but most of them were wrong.

Herobrine shook his head. 

The Baby Zombie Villager was finished the first question, and got it correct.  When the Baby Zombie Villager was on the second question, he burned the test and crashed the entire system.  Just kidding, he just blew up his computer.
Herobrine shook his head.

The Ghast was on the third question.  He got the first two correct, but failed on all the others. 

Herobrine shook his head. 

The Elder Guardian put a helmet on his head and plugged it into the computer and completed the Parcc Test with a perfect score with epic music playing in the foreground.  He then went for a swim. 

Herobrine clapped and nodded his head. 

Harrison the Skeleton shot his bow and arrow on the computer and it just turned black, making it impossible for him to take his Parcc test. 

Herobrine shook his head. 

Emily the Zombie Pigman got most of them correct and did her best in Herobrine’s room. 

Herobrine nodded his head,

 everyone had almost completed the  Parcc test.  It was almost over.. . . . . 

Finally, The Creeper got a hoe and used the hoe to take the Parcc test.  No one could read his answers.  The Creeper was on the eighth question and he put TNT on the keyboard. Kaboom, the computer was shut down. 

Herobrine shook his head.

The End!!!! 

 We wrote this on the Eve of Emily's first Parcc Test.  

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Squirrels Stop--WHY?--It's an instinct!

We have all seen a squirrel run out into the road, stop and hold perfectly still, then turn around.

Squirrel caught in the road

  I think, like this poster, we have wondered, WHY!!!!  It seems so silly, we even say or think  the other S word--STUPID.  Rather than being stupid, it's an instinct.  This inborn behavior is meant to protect the squirrel from its enemies. Squirrels, like other prey, use these behaviors  to protect themselves from predators.  If they hold perfectly still, the predator often moves on.  I find this remarkable, genius even.  Here is an animal, that is always on the go, can hardly ever hold still, and just one moment, it holds perfectly still. Pretty amazing!
Squirrel in the road

I love learning about this animal--incredible!  

Remember to enter my latest giveaway!  

You can win this print, 

This amazing pencil sharpener, 

Add caption
Or a great  book! 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Squirrels, Books, and Bouquet of Pencils means - a Giveaway!

You could win a print, a book,  or a pencil sharpener!

I was thinking about fall and all the wonderful things: pumpkins, apples orchards, Halloween, and then I came across this beautiful painting.  You can buy a print from Ria's Esty store, or perhaps you will be the lucky winner!

Giveaway #1

Red Squirrel

I suddenly remembered that squirrels are an important part of fall.  They are busy gathering nuts, preparing their winter nests, and of course being cute.  Well, that's if you like rodents, which I really do not.

Did you know there are over 200 varieties of squirrels?  The smallest is the African pygmy which is only five inches and the largest is the Indian giant squirrel with is three feet in length.  

African Pygmy Squirrel

Indian Giant Squirrel
So, as we explore squirrels on my blog, it made me think about exploration--which led me to announce the giveaway of this book.

Giveaway #2

Chickadees, Bumbelbeez, Pussy-Willow Trees and Two-And-A-Half, by Jeffrey Politsky, is a children’s book of adventure. It is recommended for ages 4-9.

Children love to explore; it’s intuitive. And they tend to struggle when asked to confine their activities and behaviors to our adult-imposed rules and paths. Chickadees, Bumbelbeez, Pussy-Willow Trees and Two-And-A-Half is a vibrantly and exceptionally well-illustrated adventure book meant to inspire children to follow their urges to explore and to appreciate diversity. The book starts off when “One day a little brown monkey with dazzling olive green eyes, a friendly smile, and a long curly tail asked his father if there was more to the life than just hanging around with other monkeys and eating bananas.” Before long he meets a lovely grey cat and a majestic blue pelican each on their own quests. Together, they explore a foreign island and when their journey takes them into a private swath of land, they befriend a local dog who takes them further than they ever imagined.

Chickadees, Bumbelbeez, Pussy-Willow Trees and Two-And-A-Half emphasizes several significant values, which help us subsist and ultimately thrive: learning through independent exploration, the need for friendship, the importance of respect and tolerance for other cultures, languages, and lifestyle diversity, along with a healthy understanding of the powers of mother nature. 

I loved this book--and its exploration! Then I remembered that last fall, I went to New York City.  It was amazing way to explore the parks and museums. I was reminded about a favorite quote 
from the movie You've Got Mail.  "Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies."

Well you are not going to win a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils as your give away, but you will get the best pencil sharpener!  Last year, I bought a set of three, to give to each of my children's teachers.  They loved them.  If you don't win, you can always buy one at Classroom Friendly Supplies.

Giveaway #3

 Then you will be able to make yourself a bouquet of pencils.  

Now of course you have to enter the giveaway in order to win one of these exciting items.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, September 11, 2015

Communities: A Social Studies Unit

It's been a long time since a created anything to sell on TPT.  I may have just been a little burnt out from working and mothering.  But finally, I finished a unit on communities!  The drive to create this unit was by instigated by my daughter.  I think almost anything I create is to further understanding in my own children!  It actually worked!  She came home from school not understanding anything about the difference between rural, suburban, and urban communities.  After reading the book I wrote, and doing some of the sorts, she understood!  I know the teachers helped as well, but if your kids aren't understanding communities, then this unit may help!
Communities Unit
I think this is by far one of my favorite packets I created!  I hope you it helps you and your students too! You can buy it at my TPT store.  

First in the packet is a non-fiction book.  Really simply written, but I did that deliberately to make the abstract concept of communities concrete.  Here is a sample of some of the pages in the book.

Suburban, Urban, and Rural Communities.

Second, I created a fold-able, where the students can write what the three communities are and have.  Again, this helps to make the abstract idea concrete. I love the clipart I found from Tanya Rae Designs.  Check out her store, it's amazing!

Fold-able for Community Unit

Third, I created three simple activities to compare, sort, and draw the different communities.  

Venn Diagram Communities
Finally, I created a book list of fiction and non-fiction books that can help your students understand this concept. I am sure there are many more, and perhaps this list will help you think of more books. I didn't even include chapter books in my list.  

Here are a few I did include:

Washing, D.C an Urban Community

This of course showcases a city, or urban community.  I like this series because they really introduce many concepts that are important in Social Studies.  

New York, urban, rural, and suburban
 I love this book because it shows the New York that I love.  I love the city, but my home is a small college town surrounded by rural communities.  The dairy farmers of New York are amazing people!

Duck on a Bike, a fun book about the rural community
I have always loved the book, A Duck on a Bike.  So why not share it again with older kids in the context that although fiction, it showcases many aspects of a rural environment: farm animals, farm equipment, and the peace and quiet.  

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

 Yes, I know that this is fantasy, but the family lives in a suburban community  I also love the Alex sevies by Judith Viorst to showcase a suburban community.
The Snowy Day

  Peter lives in a big apartment building in a city,  This book along with Cordory, have their characters living in an urban community.  

Some chapter books: Cricket in Times Square, Strawberry Girl, Frindle just naming one chapter book for each community.  Of course there are many others!  I would love to hear your suggestions!  

So head on over, and buy my latest packet!  I found it helpful for my daughter, so I hope it helps others as well.  

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Using Ten Frames for Addtion

I designed this game when Emily was in first grade, and by golly now that she is beginning third grade, I think she finally understands this strategy.  It was fun to see her just catch on really really fast this time around. The idea of the game, is you roll a ten-sided die, and add the snap cubes to the ten-frame.  Once added, you can visually see over and over again how 9+6=15 is the same as 10+5=15.  And who doesn't love a quick little math game to help solidify a math strategy!  

ten-frame addition strategies.
Anyways, you can grab this little freebie--enjoy!  

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Suzuki Saturday: Learning how to read music

We have started teaching Emily how to read music this summer. She is entering third grade, the grade I started taking piano lessons, so I thought it was about time.  I'm just doing this on my own, with some guidance from her piano teacher.  I decided to use three different primers, and I may add a fourth.  I chose to use three different primers because I have never taught piano, nor am I trained to teach music.  I felt if I used different primers and music books, I wouldn't miss anything!  My sons take traditional method, and their teacher uses two teaching methods and books to teach.  As she is a professional, I didn't feel I was out of place using different authors and publishers to teach music.

Primer #1: Music for Little Mozarts through Alfred's

I really like this series, especially if you are working with really young children.  Each piece has a story and characters who while telling a story, teach music notes and theory.  Emily loves it!  It moves really slowly, so I ended up moving to book three rather quickly.  They also have workbooks, stuffed animals, flashcards, that go with the books.  There are four primer books in this series.  We are currently on book three.  You can see more of the books here.  

Primer #2 Bastien Primer A

This is where my boys started.  Bastien is a well known method and liked by many piano teachers.    I have liked their choice of songs--I have been very pleased, and I think my boys have enjoyed many of the songs from the books. My oldest son especially loved Indian Life.  It has so many wonderful songs!  

Primer #3: Piano Adventures by Faber.  

This book is recommended by Emily's piano teacher because of the repetition.  I like it because it really helps the student learn how to read the music!  

I really didn't think she was catching on to the entire reading music.  She has a great ear, so she often relies on her ear.  But of course, she surprised me.  She started writing her own pieces.  It didn't surprise me that she wrote her own pieces, because she has been doing that forever, it surprised me that she actually wrote the exact notes she was playing.  Low and behold, she was learning how to read the notes!  

We are still working on Book 2 songs in Suzuki!  She is learning G Major, and I am amazed at how well she can play the song!