Friday, July 25, 2014

Blog design...getting help and piecing it together.

I've had this blog now for just about 2 years and it's been a long journey learning how exactly to create, improve and maintain it!  I wish I had somebody sitting next to me showing me the ropes but I've learned a lot just by looking at other blogs and researching with Google.  

There are so many cute teaching blogs out there and sometimes it gets me down that my blog doesn't look as cute as theirs but I just remember that this blog truly started because I was walking through my mother's garden and marveling at her beautiful flowers and connecting it to my students.  So flowers and nature need to be represented....gotta keep it real!

My mother's peonies are INCREDIBLE!

So tonight, as I sit at Starbucks with my headphones in, working on blogging and business stuff, I have FINALLY redone my blog banner and I'm so happy with it. So I need to give credit to my two sources:
Click here for an article on how to make your blog header.
This is the web based editing site that you use to create your blog header.

If you're a fellow teacher blogger, I would LOVE to know about other apps and/or web based sites you've heard about or used for your blog!

School Supply Lists

Today my 1st grade colleagues came over for lunch and to talk shop.  We did make your own salads and had a great time talking and planning.  The one thing we really wanted to accomplish was to come up a with a 'first grade' school supply letter to have available at registration next week. 
Krista Walden clipart....she's awesome!
I teach in the Anchorage School District, which has 60+ elementary schools!  A few years back, the district adopted a generic list for all K-6 schools.  The problem is two-fold: 1) Not everyone wants students to bring in those exact things and 2) Each teacher has things they do want but aren't on the list and we end up asking for those extra supplies later.
The extra items that we all would like but are NOT on the generic list range from cleaning wipes to Ziploc bags.  I have an "extra school supplies" letter that I give out at Open House and hope that kids bring in those things.  But that means I would get about 20 boxes of Ziploc bags and 20 cans of cleaning wipes.  One of my colleagues had a brilliant idea to avoid that: specify on that letter 1 item for a family to bring in and which item that is depends on the first letter of their last name.
An excerpt from the letter I give to parents.

I would love to know about YOUR school supply letter!  Take a moment to leave a comment below :-)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


I love rocks!  I love to collect rocks, throw rocks, play with rocks and climb on rocks.  My two favorite places to go exploring and climbing on rocks are the North Shore of Minnesota and La Cote de Granite Rose in France.
My husband and I just celebrated 10 years of marriage by having a night away at our favorite little resort on the shore of Lake Superior, sans children.

We first went up to a beautiful state park to explore and climb on rocks.  Looking around in the gift shop afterwards, I again stumbled upon a wonderful book that I just HAD to have.
written by Peggy Christian and illustrated by Barbara Hirsch Lember

On each page of the book, a type of rock is described (i.e. skipping rock, resting rock, wishing rock, etc.).  I love the simplicity yet complexity of the text and, as usual, thought of a writing extension to go with it.
I collected a bunch of interesting rocks (the ones you see surrounding the book in the first picture above) on our evening exploration and plan on letting students either choose their own rock or blindly choose a rock and then write about what kind of a rock it is.  All of these pages will become a class book!

And last night my daughter and I went for yogurt at a build-your-own place and guess what I sprinkled on top of mine?  Chocolate rocks!  Okay, I'm a nerd...

Monday, July 7, 2014

Book Talk Linky

I'm republishing this post from last week because I just stumbled upon a neat linky party where teachers share great books.  This linky party is being hosted by Mrs. Jump!

I was in a local bookstore last week, perusing the shelves hoping something would jump out at me when I found this beautifully illustrated gem:
This book has very simple text but beautifully striking illustrations.  When I finished the book I immediately thought of a writing extension for Kinders, 1st graders and 2nd graders.

Take a look at this example book I created and how I've differentiated it for K, 1 and 2.  I hope you'll think about incorporating this book and writing activity into your upcoming school year.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Back-to-School FREEBIE!

I love the Fourth of July...well I guess I really love the time leading up to the Fourth of July more because it's summer and I am not thinking about Back-to-School in any way, shape or form.
But once it's over, summer is half over and stores start advertising Back-to-School stuff.  Part of me is sad because I know my time off is coming to an end and part of me is excited for the start of another year.  It's a double-edged sword I guess you can say.

So here is something I got an idea for the other day because one of my goals this year is to create way more class books with my students.
Wordles are a super fun, easy, visual expression of writing.  Not sure if that made sense, but here's an example (the words under my picture):
Wordles can be used throughout the year for thematic studies, science, social studies and even math.

Here are some more Back-to-School goodies to check out as well:
Smartboard File: $
Now go check out all the other fun FREEBIES over at 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Great picture book about perspective...

There's a cute little library in town that we like to visit when we're back home in the summer.  I quickly perused the picture book bins last week and found a real gem!  As I've taught my students to do when they are choosing a good book to read, I also used 

Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Tom Lichtenheld is a simple, funny book about perspective: what you see may not be what another sees.  I love the idea behind this book and the funny dialogue!  I will purchasing this book and putting it in our 'Read with Someone' book basket.  I really hope these authors write more books in this style!

This book could also lead to some great writing!  I'm thinking of creating some doodles and pairing kids up to write their own books in this style.  We can publish them so they can also be part of the 'Read with Someone' basket.

Can't wait to get this book and try out the writing activity!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

I love letters!

Take a look at this photo and notice how the words 'Kaladi Brothers' (a local Anchorage coffee company) are spelled out.
Each letter is made in a totally different style and together it looks awesome!  I've wanted to do this on the wall outside my classroom forever and saw two cute sets of letters that would be fun to try.  I found them at Hobby Lobby.

You could get super creative with this and the possibilities are endless!  This would also be a fun classroom or homework project for the beginning of the year with kids spelling out their first names in some artistic fashion.