Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Just in time for UGH-ust!

We are professional procrastinators women of our word ~ You asked if they'd be done by August, and according to our clocks UGH-ust (as us teachers call it) doesn't begin until tomorrow, so we're just in time!

Here's a quick peek at our latest Homework Helpers. 
For more styles and details, please visit our past posts
 {here} and {here}.

is the perfect Homework Helper for your lil' movie stars.  They'll walk the red carpet of homework and turn in Oscar worthy work with this shining star.
 BOO!! 
Homework doesn't have to be scary with these friendly monsters. Our Monster Mash  Homework Folder is for all your class monsters~Big and small...
We know they come in all shapes and sizes... :)

We adore butterflies (in case you haven't gathered), so when we were asked, "Do we do butterflies?" we giggled and then got fluttering. Our Butterfly Bliss Homework Folder is for your own fluttering friends. Isn't it sweet? 
Each kit includes lots of choices to create your own Homework Helpers, including both daily and weekly family letters.
We've had a few questions about color printing. We get it and totally understand that we do not all have access to color printing without breaking the ink bank.  For many years ourselves, we have printed in black and white and copied onto colored paper. It's really not about the color as much as the concepts, but we have found the kids LOVE their homework folders regardless. Parents love them too, and we love them because they give us a go to time and time again when a student or parent needs help. 

So, there ya have it...
Three more Homework Helpers just added to our TpT Shop for your kiddos! 

Now back to soaking up the last rays of July, because we absolutely REFUSE to accept that UGH-ust is tomorrow! 
UGH!!!!!




Saturday, July 28, 2012

Cool Blue Capitals

Remembering to use capital letters when writing can be tough for our little friends (Well, and some big friends we know too, but we won't go there...). No matter how much we cram, shove, beg, instruct, model or encourage, most of them just could care less forget. 

It is an area we know the teachers we pass the torch to appreciate having in place from the get go, but it is one we hear concerns about from teachers as late as 5th grade (maybe longer, we just never make it out of our elementary cave). We notice it all the time with our own kids at home (soon to be 3rd and 5th graders. tear.sniff.) too. 

When the writing gets flowin', the capitals aren't showin'. 

Our Firsties are supposed to come to us from Kindergarten capitalizing the beginning of sentences and when using the pronoun I. We are to reinforce those skills and add the capitalization of dates and names of people. These are tall orders for little ones who are just beginning to write. 

To encourage our friends to capitalize on capitals, we give our Coool Cats  "Cool Blue Capitals" pens to help them remember those large letters when writing!

Early in the year, we introduce this fun writing procedure on Cool Blue Capital Day.  We leave a pair of sunglasses and a pen at each student's desk before writing time. 

We give each student one of these blue felt pens to keep with their supplies on Cool Blue Capital Day, but any blue pen would work. :) 
We found these cool sunglasses through orientaltrading.com which we love because they go along with our ocean theme and are cool bright colors ~ very cool!  

We review the wheres and whys of capital letters and all sport our shades to drive home the cool factor. 

We can't help but channel our inner 80's valley girl voices, which was cool, back in the day. We teach them words like tubular and radical and play our favorite 80's tunes in the background, for purely selfish reasons. 

Once we're feeling cool enough, everyone grabs their Cool Blue pens for journal writing.

Each time they need to use a capital, they are to switch to use their cool blue pen. It takes some practice, but most of them get it down pretty quick. 

We have found, this physical switching of writing tools helps train their brains to use those capitals more regularly.

We know what you might ask ~ 
Does anyone ever "forget" and write their entire sentence or story with the pen?

Yes, sometimes but not as often as we'd expect.  Annnnd, as we all know every class is different. So some years we are cool as cucumbers from the get go, and other years... well we need a lil' longer cool blue training.

How do we handle those friends that over extend their coolness?
First time, we have a chat. 
It is a good assessment opportunity to see if they are truly not understanding or just displaying their own level of perceived coolness ~ Aka, I'm cooler than you teacher. Let me show you how I can use this pen in the exact opposite manner in which you demonstrated ten times.

If we have repeat offenders, then we are firm believers in natural consequences, so they lose their cool blue for the day. Not so cool anymore~
They usually don't like not having their Cool Blue, and that nips their over use and reaffirms our coolness under pressure.  :)

Cool Blue Capitals have worked for us. We use them as long as the kids need the support. Some years, we take them away and they don't notice or care. Other years, we keep them for the entire year. It just depends on what they each need, but they help the kids remember, and it keeps us cool with teachers of older grades in the lounge. :)

So, we're curious...
How do you get your students to remember to use capitals when writing?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Class Share Time & Back to School Freebie

As Moms, we know how much our own kids l.o.v.e. digging through their piles of crap toys to find the *Perfect* share item for school. Though we secretly hope they will pick that treasured souvenir from summer vacay or the family heirloom Great Grandma Betty gave them, they usually pick the one toy they honestly haven't played with in ages...BUT, they MUST share it because at that very moment it is the BEST thing they have EVER seen in the history of ALL things!

They have a very hard time choosing.
They have a very hard time choosing one item.
They have a very hard time choosing one item that is meaningful (the souvenirs and heirlooms frown). 

There are just SO many things to share Mom! 
As Moms, this is not our most favorite homework activity. 
It usually causes a mess. We're not fans of unnecessary mess-that we don't make.


Calgon...take us away!

Don't get us wrong, it's fun to find treasures at home to share at school, but besides deciding on that one special item, the pressure to come up with an eloquent story about why it is so special is sometimes tough ~ 

So, tell the class why is that so very special to you? 

"Um, I don't know." ~ Really? That's all ya got?
"Um, I don't know. My Mom told me to bring it." ~ This would be our kids. Karma!
"Um, because I got it in a Happy Meal." ~ Hmmm...doesn't really drive home the sentimental feeling we know us teachers are looking for. 

Let's just face it ~
"I found it in a bottle, floating adrift at sea. 
I picked it up and have treasured it ever since." 
Yes, that is what we want. 
Admit it!
A+ + + +
Right?


Frankly as teachers, the idea of managing a bunch of personal garbage treasure each week would send us into early retirement. 

Not to mention, the little 4 letter word we are deathly afraid could accompany some of the plush pals - l.i.c.e. 
It has happened. 
Seriously, just started itching our heads immediately. Why does that always happen?

Okay,we're not that horrible. We do let them share. Every week in fact. Still itching...

We have never done the "traditional" sharing in our class though. Instead, we use our sharing time to practice and develop beginning public speaking skills for our students. We believe practice speaking in front of a large group can never start too early.

Not only does it avoid bringing trinkets from home (yes, we have issues and yes, head is still itchy...get the Nix!), but it satisfies that need to share and also satisfies our Listening, Speaking and Writing Common Core standards that we all know and are learning to love. :)


One of our favorite class activities is our Sharing Pages Program because it gives them weekly opportunities to become comfortable with speaking in front of their peers. In addition to speaking, the pages are also a great way to practice writing components throughout the year. 

We use these pages in our class as a weekly homework writing assignment.  These pages can also simply be used in class as a single writing assignment, center work, small groups, or independent work. 

At the beginning of the school year, each student is assigned a specific sharing day. This will be their day for the entire school year. We fill in our class sharing schedule and leave it posted for parents and ourselves to refer to. 


It's a quick check in for who needs to have their pages each day and who needs to check their backpacks or come up with a quick excuse as to why they don't have it. 
Our top pick to date ~ "My cat peed on it." Thanks.so.much.for.forgetting.that.one.at.home.we.greatly.appreciate.it. 

We  divide the kids evenly by ability amongst the days and tend to put those who may need more time during the week at home to share on Fridays. As busy Moms, we'd appreciate the life ring...

We assign a class sharing page for homework each week. Though our homework goes home weekly as a packet, this is the one exception. It is to be returned on your designated sharing day. It is not stapled to the packet, but included in the folder. To see how we do our homework folders, click here.

Our home expectation ~ Parents listen to their children practice reading their page in front of them until they are comfortable doing so. 
**OK STOP**
Notice ~ NO MESS! YAY!

We take our Sharing Pages very seriously. We want our families to also. There is nothing worse than getting up in front of a group to speak and losing your place, or not knowing what to say. We know they are only first graders, but it is amazing what high expectations can produce. 


If a student clearly wrote their page in the dark and ran for the hills, they will get one of these lil' notes to take home along with their page to practice, and try again tomorrow. 



In class, we spend a lot of time teaching them:

How to stand - knees slightly bent (not locked), feet shoulder width apart, shoulders relaxed, paper at your belly button (they giggle. we're serious.)
How to look - try to look up a few times, smile, make eye contact if you can
How to sound - read in a talking voice, not yelling, not whispering. (We stand in the back of the classroom often and gauge their volume level)

And, don't think the other 22 wiggly worms on the floor aren't being judged observed. They are. Hahaha. Listening skills folks. Can they sit and listen to someone other than themselves for a few? Some can. Others cannot. We practice a lot.

We have a Sharing Pages box in our class that we collect them in throughout the week. Some weeks, we display them on their work walls, but most of the time we print covers and bind all of the sharing pages into books for the class to read throughout the year. They love them! 
Here's our collection from the school year.

On the last day of school, we have a huge class raffle and the kids get to choose 1 or 2 to keep forever and ever. It's our version of the lottery and they feel like they've won the Jackpot!

So, are you ready to try a new kind of sharing in your class? 

We've just added our
Give them a try and please if you decide to download, we'd really appreciate you leaving feedback in our store. Muchas gracias! :)

If you like them, then be sure to check out our complete Sharing Page Programs for 

September

Summer ~ Our own kiddos have actually asked for these at home this summer. Yes, they've been brainwashed. :) 

June

 May

 April
Are you scratching your head now?
September, Summer, June, May, April? 
Well, we all know summer is going way too fast, so let's just rewind! 
Just kidding. We started adding these to our TpT store last Spring and are plugging away at the rest of the year. We'll be adding the rest of the months asap.  :)

Our class share time lasts about 15 minutes each day, gives each student an opportunity to shine and allows us teachers to really hear how their writing, reading, and speaking abilities are coming along.

Grab your Back to School Sharing Pages today and keep those toy boxes closed and tidy!















Saturday, July 14, 2012

No-Reply Blogger Blues

Happy Saturday friends. Christy is off to a baseball tourney and Tammy is off to a wedding today, but before we dash out, just wanted to share a quick tip.

Our friend Lori over at Teaching with Love and Laughter posted a FABULOUS tip yesterday about no-reply blogging. 
Guess what? 
We were TOTAL no-reply bloggers and had no idea! 
Seriously, learning something new e-v-e-r-y-d-a-y. 

Quite truthfully, we were really starting to develop a complex~
The No-Reply Blogger Blues
Like the kids who get picked last for kickball or have to eat the vanilla cupcake because everyone else took the chocolates. 
We kept asking each other, 
"Are we doing something wrong?" 
"Why isn't anyone talking to us?" 
Now we are laughing, because apparently we weren't letting you!  But, now you can...and we can...And we're so happy!
Game on with chocolate cupcakes!

So, if you're not sure if you are a no-reply blogger like us {Holding finger to forehead with a capital L}, you have to check out Lori's post asap. 
Click on her button below to be cured of the no-reply blogger blues. 



Have a great day! 




Friday, July 13, 2012

Absent Friends Freebie

We can't believe we're thinking about absent students when we haven't even gone back to school yet!!!

BUT... this is summertime and we find it's the best time for dumpin' the old and preppin' the new. We just gave our old "Absent Friend Folders" a lil' facelift (they are starting to droop after 10 years and Botox wasn't really an option). 

Here's How They Work:
          We keep a set of these folders where our kiddos can access them. If they have a friend who is absent next to them, they simply go and grab an Absent Friend Folder and put it on top of their friend's desk. Now throughout the day when papers are being passed out or workbooks are being done, our paper passers just slide a copy into the folder for their friend's return. This also comes in handy when you get that phone call 5 minutes before the bell rings and it's Johnny's mom calling because he's sick and wants all his work STAT! Who has time to scramble around and collect worksheets, flip through workbooks, write directions- all the while you are frantically trying to herd the cattle calmly dismiss your cherubs at the end of the day? Simply send the folder and you're set.

Here's What We Do:
We just take file folders (you can use just plain old regular ones or there are so many fancy schmancy ones out there, that you can color coordinate and be all matchy-matchy) and glue the Absent Friend page on the front, open it up to laminate and viola!


So we are supplying you with our Botox if you're folders look like ours did, or if this is something you'd like to use to manage absent work, feel free to grab the design of your choice.




Do you have a fabulous way of managing absent friend work? We'd love to here your ideas as well as some bloggy love if you like this. 


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

What We're Pinning Wednesday





  So, when we found this Link Up with Laura over at Kinder Kraziness, two thoughts crossed our minds ~
1.  Um...yeah
and
2.  Duh

Let's just say, we LOVE Pinterest. 
Well except the spelling...we keep typing Pintrest ~ That's how we say it. :-/
And apparently spell it. :-(
Uh, oh..Summer slide?
We know it's like interest ~ you pin what you're interested in...Duh

This is by far our favorite Pin of all only because it buys us a lot of Passes come football season in our homes.
{source unknown}
And let's just be real, even Pinterest is sort of a fantasy. 
Are we really going to accomplish ALL that we pin? 
You would have to bury us in a dungeon for the next 250 years, we think.
But, one can fantasize...And we do. A lot.
922 fantasy fantastic pins and counting to be exact...
Wow, just peeked at that.
That's a lot. 
Pinaholics?

Here are a few things we've pinned lately. :)

Click the pics to see them on our Pinterest boards.

This is cuh-yute! 
We're thinking of using our class colors (greens, blues, whites)
and creating this class hand print wreath on the first days of school.  We'll see. If they can handle paint. In the first days of school. Don't want to count our chickens before they hatch over here. :)

It would be so cute hanging near our class door though! We might have to swindle recruit a volunteer to join us. {wink, wink}
We're having a hard time finding the original link on her blog, but here is the {source}

We pinned this to read later, and we're so glad we did!
Scootpad.com was blogged about here at a blog we just found (Thank you Pint-e-rest) called 
Cuh-yute blog, and Scootpad sounds like a gem of a website with new features coming August 15th.
Just in time for the new year!

If this one works, this is definitely a potential gift idea sometime this coming year. 
Easy and Inexpensive...Sold!
Love the idea of them drawing on paper first, then tracing onto the dish towel.
This one might have to be tried at home in the last morsels of summer...Um...yeah.

This one scares us a bit  a lot.
The potential is so CUH-YUTE,
but do you  think it would work?
Better question...Do you think we could do it ourselves? 
Better, Better question...Do we want to? 
Hmm...better, better?!? Summer    S
                                                        L
                                                         I
                                                           D
                                                            E
We're afraid that we will get half way through, realize we're waaayyy over our heads and end up with a floor cushion to sit on in class. Um, yeah...
But, the fantasy...


So, there you have it. 4 out of 922 929 pins that we love right now ~ Yes, we added a few as we were jumping back and forth for the links...Pinaholics, we tell ya!

If you want to join our obsession, you can follow our Pinterest Boards below:




Be sure to head back to

to hop more blogs and pin more pins.

Happy Pinning!







Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A few more Homework Helpers

Thank you!!
We cannot thank you enough for all your sweet comments, emails, and requests for our new Homework Folders. Y'all seriously made our days, weeks, lives! We have been watching them mill around Pinterest the past few days, and each pin and repin seriously makes us giddy. It is so cool!
And, you have kicked our butts into gear. BIG TIME! Buh-Bye Summer Swagger, we're gettin' our Back to School On right after this nap!

We managed to squeak out 3 more Homework Helpers this weekend between BBQs, baseball games, and well let's just be honest...a few naps...Yes, naps as in those little things that we used to cherish in our B.C. (Before Children) days! The kids left with Dad for a bit, so we took full advantage. Oodles and oodles of Laundry, Dishes, Tidying, Cleaning Resting. We got a WHOLE 45 minutes. To ourselves. Uninterrupted. It was Heaven!!! 

Plus, Pinterest said it was okay... 
Loving this!

See...it doesn't say, 
"I'm a teacher. It's never too early to get 
all your laundry and dishes done in the summertime."
Sothereyago. 
Napitwas.

When we woke up, we had a vision and we got cracking...

We had several requests for a jungle/safari theme.
Our Wild for Learning Homework Folder is a fun jungle/safari theme for your Wild Bunch!
Lovin' the lil' monkey!



Camp Learn-a-Lot is for all those campers out there. Such a cute classroom theme and one we've seen out in Bloggyland and on Pinterest a lot. We have to admit, this one started off with a lack of inspiration, but it actually turned out to be one our favorites so far. Kinda digging that leaf behind the family letter...It's the little things...Like naps...45 minute naps...



Any pirate lovers out there? We got tons of requests for this theme and we think your Lil' Scallywags might walk the plank of homework with their Shiver Me Timbers Homework Folder.




 Next on the list movies/Hollywood, butterflies, and monsters. 


We've had a few requests for higher grades. We're thinking about it...Let us know if there is interest out there and we'll see what we can do.


We've also had a few technical questions and wanted to set the record straight with a quick

Homework Folder FAQ
(Frequently Asked Questions...
We know, it's summer. We're throwing your brain a bone.)

1. Where do you get the folders?
-We wait until the Back to School Sales {they're coming...eeeekkkk!} and then stock up on them. We have found them at Staples, Office Depot, Office Max, Target, Walmart...wherever we can. :)

2. Do you use the same color and theme for all your students?
-This is really up to you. We typically use one color for everyone, but in our overzealous school shopping have ended up with stragglers over the years. We have been known to purge our hodgepodge of colors when our drawer cannot hold any more. We just throw them all on the table and make it out like they have a RAINBOW of colors to choose from. They ooh and ahh...We can't bear to tell them they are getting sloppy seconds...Don't judge...

In regards to theme, we have only ever had one, so this is uncharted territory. :) With all these themes we're obsessing about creating, we are considering offering our class a choice this year.  Everyone is motivated by different things. If Johnny bleeds pirates and Katie is a rocker chick, then giving them some "buy in" by allowing a choice of folder may set them up for successful studies.  

3. Do you prep them all yourselves?
We do only because it is something we always put together over summer. Friends that stop by have come to expect that with every cup of summer coffee talk comes a glue stick. Sip and stick gals! 
They don't take that long and we work in batches~All the fronts, then inside left, etc.

4. How do you laminate them?


 
 5. If you laminate them, how do the kids use them as folders? 

We use a razor blade, box cutter, or Exacto (sp?) knife to slice the lamination along the top edge of the folder pocket. If you drag the cutter gently, it will just cut the lamination, not the folder. 


Cool, huh? :)

 Each kit comes with thematic printables to create your own folders. They were designed so you can pick and choose the components that best meet your class and students' needs. We like choices. :)

Here's what's included in each thematic kit~
Name Plates
Weekly Family Homework Letter
Daily Family Homework Letter
Color Cards
100 Words cards
Zaner Bloser Proud Printing Cards
D‘Nealian Proud Printing Cards
100 Number Grid & 120 Number Grid
Counting Coins Cards
Number Words Cards
Letter Sounds and Spellings        


If you're interested in these or our School is Cool!, Under the Sea, or Rock the Class!!! folders that we posted about here, they are all in our TpT Store now. 
 
We're still a little groggy, so let us know if we've forgotten any details or if you have more questions.
We adore your comments and love your questions. 

Thanks Friends! 
More to come... and we'll try not to nap...


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Homework Folders that Help!

When we first began creating homework folders 15 years ago, we just thought we were putting a cute lil’ folder together to keep their crap all in one place pump our students up about their nightly studies. Little did we know, they would turn into a wonderful, motivating resource not only for our little friends, but also for their families too.

We pulled these out to prep the other day and decided Nooooo, not gonna cut it. First, it didn't have any of our new Just So Scrappy 2 clipart we purchased. Also, we are on a roll with this ocean, blue, green, white theme, so it had to match...And, it all sorta snowballed from there.

Here's our first 3 with many more to come...
We're kinda addicted in love!

Here's the one we made for our own class. 
Goes with this year's theme.
There's just something about school supplies and red and blue. 
Just makes us feel smart. 
The rebels in us needed to rock this one out. 
We have learned that many families are very willing to help their children with their homework, but are often uncertain as to how to help. 

Our Homework Helpers give students and parents a handy folder to guide them through their first years of homework. By providing parents and students with resources at their fingertips that cover many of the foundational Common Core Standards, we can provide families with multiple learning opportunities and reinforcement activities at home. Amazing what a little folder can do! 

We teach our students and families how to utilize the folder. We discuss it at our parent nights, during parent conferences, and use it in class to teach the students how to best use this first “reference “tool. 

The printables are intended to be adhered to a 2-pocket folder (not included). We often find these (in lots of colors) at office stores on super sale before school begins in August.  We print, glue and laminate the folders over the summer, before school begins.

The first 3 are in our TpT store now. Head on over and take a look. :)

We've still got loads of clipart...got any ideas for a theme? Leave us some bloggy love and we'll see what we can do...
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