Saturday, March 28, 2015

Epic Spring Teacher Blogger Meet up in Review! TONS of PICS!!!

A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to get to take a little time for myself and spend the weekend in Indiana with some of my most favorite people in the world!!!! My blog buddies!!!! I don't get to see them very often, so when I do, it's a BIG deal!!!

To start our weekend, I met up with a good friend of mine, Erin Mullet from Erin's Ink. We used to work together and both taught Kindergarten at the same school for a couple of years. I just LOVE her!!! We hit the road and drove the 3 1/2 hours to French Lick, Indiana. A teeny, tiny town in the middle of nowhere with an AMAZING hotel and resort!!! It was just beautiful!!

The only thing was, when we got there, we found out that we were on the dreaded 6th floor!!!!!!!!!! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!!! French Lick Hotel has been there for nearly 170 years and the 6th floor was said to have been HaUnTeD!!!!!!! WhoOoOoOoOo!!!!

Later on that evening, we met up with some of my favorite friends for Dinner!!!!!! Megan and Kim from KinderGals, Deanna Jump and Deedee from Mrs. Will's Kindergarten!! Kim's daughter-in-law, Ginny also joined us! Sweetest thing ever!!!!

Then, around 2:30 A.M. (It's a looooooooooooooong story) my beautiful, wonderful, bright, happy and smiling friend, Crystal Radke from Kreative in Kinder arrived!!! We have been roomies many times before and it was soooo good to see her!!!

We had sooooooo much fun being roomies!!!!

And, don't worry!!! Those ghosts didn't scare us!!!!

The next day, it was time for the meet up!!! We started off by making these letters to decorate the hall. Each table took a letter and had to decorate it with tidbits about themselves! It was so fun getting to know each other and hearing where everyone was from, what grade they taught and a word to describe themselves! We left our word up for the entire weekend! It was just the PERFECT word to describe this event!!!!

I mean, seriously!!!! Doesn't get much more inspirational than this......

The room was just packed with teachers from all over the country!!! And it was sprinkled with the perfect amount of decor from Schoolgirl Style!!!!

After lunch, we had a Teacher Tool Gift Exchange!!! It was so, so much fun exchanging little gifts and telling why they were some of our favorite teacher tools!!! I got lots of new ideas on stuff that I need to go out and grab for my own :) is the Kindergarten group. We were the biggest group by far!!

Then, we broke into little sessions and talked about all kinds of things from TPT to RCA to Engaging all of your students. Here we are listening intently to Deedee and Deanna <3 #moreinspiration
 And then, of course there was the teacher SWAG!!!!!!!! We got so, soooo many fabulous goodies!!! There are sooooo many companies out there who are all about THE TEACHERS!!!! Here are some of the goodies that we got:

A beautiful bag from Vera Bradley
Markers, stickers, and pens from Scentos!
Goodies from Go Noodle!
Prizes from Teachers Pay Teachers
A bag from Lakeshore

AND...........OMG!!!!! EVERY. SINGLE. TEACHER there got a Teacher Planner from Erin Condren!!!! It was seriously an Oprah moment!!!! We felt like we just won the lottery!!!!! Seriously! You should have heard the room EXPLODE when Holly announced it! (See her pic below....she said "and a planner for you, and one for you and you.....") Hahahahaha!!! I swear I saw one girl crying!!!

It was just so FUN!!!!!!

There were also thousands of dollars of products that were given away in drawings! It was amazing! They gave away over $12,000 in Teacher SWAG that day!!! INSANE!!!!
After we were loaded down with an insane amount of goodies, we dispersed for dinner.

AND then.......................

OMG!!!!!!!! This P.J. Party was EPIC!!!!!!! It was so, sooooo much fun!!!! Thanks to TPT and GoNoodle for sponsoring it!!!!

We Pop See Ko-ed the night away!!!!

Check out this video captured by my sweet friend, Brenda from Primary Inspired!!!! Seriously hilarious!!!! We LOVE you GoNoodle!!!!

PHOTO BOMBS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Watch out!!!!!!!!

Check out these little tables decorated to look like beds!!! So cute!!! We had to take some pics!! The beds were also stocked with pillow cases for us to decorate and take as souvenirs!!!

Have you checked out Deedee and Deanna's Guiding Readers units??? The "Lazy e" clipart was drawn by my girl, Erin!!!! So, Deanna had Erin decorate her pillow case with "Lazy e" on it!! Soooo cute!

So. Much. Fun.......

But, seriously, the BEST part of the weekend was just being with all of these amazing, wonderful teachers!!! These ladies ARE THE best of the best!!!! People who LOVE their jobs and give it there all!!!! What an inspiration!!!!!!!!!!

Oh, you thought we were going to be serious?!?! Ha!!!! Almost!!! Take a look at the zoomed in picture!! :)

This ENTIRE, AMAZING weekend was was planned and organized by my dear, adorable, giving, selfless friend Holly Ehle!!!

With the help of another amazing lady, Brittany Banister!

So, maybe you didn't get to make it this year....well, we STILL have 3 teacher SWAG bags to giveaway!!!! Here's what you get!!

Just enter using Rafflecopter below!

You can read about everyone else's weekend by clicking on the links below!!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Counting BORING???? Not Anymore!!!!

Yep. As a Kindergarten teacher, you know that you have to practice counting to 100.....a lot. We do it just about every morning. The kids are bored of it. Some won't even participate. I have to gets old!!! But, we HAVE to do it if their counting is going to be fluid, automatic and without error.

Well, I've been focusing this year on how to get ALL of my students more engaged ALL of the time. I've been researching Whole Brain teaching. I LOVE sooooo many of the ideas in this program, but just don't think that I personally could implement it entirely into my teaching. So, I've been trying out ideas and thinking of ways that I can make it work for ME and my kiddos in my classroom.

Counting was definitely one of those things that I knew I needed to improve on. So, I started thinking of ways that I could get all of my kiddos to actively participate and have fun with it!! I came up with counting voices. You can check out the Counting voices sticks in my TPT store by clicking on the picture below.

I know that I'm probably not the first person to think up this idea. Ha! It's actually a pretty obvious way to help make it fun and get the kids involved! Whyyyyy didn't I think of it before???

I made these little counting sticks to hold up so that the kids know what voice to use. I just laminated the sign and hot glued it to jumbo craft sticks. The direction cards can also be printed, laminated and hot glued to the back of the stick so that anyone can come in and know how to lead the kids in counting with their voices :)

Here is a little video one of my parents took of us counting! We are new at this and have only done it a couple of, we aren't perfect yet!!! But, you can get the idea! Ha!!! In this video, the voices we use are: boxing, turtle, sheep (my favorite), Elvis (the kids fave), pig, runner, mouse, fish, kisses and air writing.)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Book Study!! Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites: Chapters 3, I'm a little late with doing this post. But, I just LOVED chapter 3 and hadn't gotten a chance to post!  So, here I am :)  Chapter 3 in Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites is all about Field Trips!!  So, I'm linking up with Deedee at Mrs. Wills Kindergarten who is hosting this chapter!

Like many of you, a few years ago, our field trip money was CUT!!! No field trips!?!? Boooooooo!!!! Luckily, we have our field trips back this year! But, if you don't, don't worry!!!! DON'T let it stop you! There are sooooo many ways to BRING the "field trips" to your kids for FREEEEEE!

What's the big deal?? Why are field trips important, you might ask?? Because kids need to have REAL LIFE experiences!!! The authentic experiences are the ones that stick. Field trips bring all of the learning together and make it real and more genuine. That's what the kids will remember. It's so much more meaningful that way!!!

I LOVE bringing those experiences into my classroom every chance I get!! How do you do it with NO budget??? Well, you'd be surprised what you can get when you tell people you are a teacher! ;)

I've always felt like if you do a pumpkin unit, YOU NEED a pumpkin patch!!! Well, when I started here, the other teacher said that we get one field trip and we take it at the END of the year! So, since we couldn't GO to a pumpkin patch, I brought a pumpkin patch to my kids and I've been doing it ever since.

I always find someone to donate our pumpkins! (I live in IL, so there are PLENTY of farms and fields!) You see a pumpkin field, you go ask. Usually people have waaaaay more pumpkins then they could ever use. So, they are happy to donate to us. I just get little pie pumpkins and set them all outside. If it's muddy, we do at least part of the activities on the blacktop :) Then, after we pick our pumpkins, we sit on haybales (that we usually borrow from local farmers) and have rice crispies and apple cider (that are donated by the parents)!

So, see!!! ABSOLUTELY FREE!!!! You just have to do a little work finding everything, getting it to school and setting it all up. But, man!! Look how much fun! They LOVE it!!! The kids are obsessed with pumpkins for WEEKS after this! ;)

O.K. So, this next one is about as close as you can get to real life...but without a farmer or a real cow! Ha!!! We do this during our Farm Unit!

First we meet Farmer Jack and he teaches us how to milk a cow!! (on Youtube)

Then, I bring out our cow!!! She is just drawn on paper and laminated :) But, I fill a surgical glove with a bit of white tempra paint and water and attach it with a string. Poke a whole in the end of one of the fingers with a pin and you're ready to go! The kids HAVE TO use the same technique that farmer Jack taught them. If they don't do it that way, the "milk" will NOT come will go back up into the "udder".

Here's a video of one of my kiddos milking!! So fun!

For our Wild West unit, after learning all about Cowboys, we invited a local "Real Life" cowboy to come to our class!!!! He showed us his saddle, his tools and what he has to wear when he is in a rodeo. He also showed us all of his big belt buckles that he had won from riding!! (Again, this was a man that had graduated from our school district several years back and was happy to donate his time to us!! Totally free!)

Every February, our local dentist and hygienists schedule a time with us to come and talk to our Kindergarten classes about Dental Health and they do such an amazing job! This is the PERFECT wrap up to our unit!!! And, you guessed it! Totally Free!!! I bet your local dentist would do it too! Just ask!!

Sometimes, on a nice spring day, the kids just need a change of scenery!! Why not take them outside for a lesson?? Here we are during our garden unit around Earth Day planting our terrariums!! 

And, this one is from St. Louis Children't Hospital!! We are sooooo blessed to live just 30 minutes from some of the BEST rated hospitals in the entire country! Everything that St. Louis Children's Hospital does is pretty great! And this program, Safety Street is NO exception!!! It is an absolutely amazing, interactive program that show kids how to stay safe and handle real life situations! And, the best part is it's TOTALLY FREEEEEEEEEEEE and they bring it to any IL or MO school in the Metro area!

Safety Street features an interactive, life-sized cityscape to help children learn important safety lessons! All they need is a big area to set it, the gym might be off limits for a day or two.

You can learn more about Safety Street HERE!!! And, if you'd like to see more pictures, you can read my previous blog post about it HERE!!

Don't live in the St. Louis Area? It wouldn't hurt to research and find out if any hospitals near you have similar programs offered!

Don't forget to hop over to Deedee's blog to see what others have to say about field trips!! Just click on the image below!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Five For Friday

This is what March 1st looked like in Southern Illinois! We had a SUPER FUN snow day!!! Check out our igloo!! But, I'm sooooo over the ice and snow!! Come on, Spring!!! It's supposed to be in the 50s tomorrow! Whooohooooo!!!!!
Gray and I both had Wacky Wednesday at our schools!!! I got to wear my "Oh, the Places You'll Go" shirt AND my Lorax Chuck Taylors!!! Dress up days are my FAVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 The kids and I so love doing all of my lift the flap centers!! This one is a subtraction one using eggs! They count the eggs on the outside and lift the flap to see how many eggs have broken on the inside. Then, they write the number sentence. So fun! You can find this center in my Super Silly Centers Pack!

 P.S.  Check out these perfectly cute eggs that my friend Erin from Erin's Ink made for me!!! You can grab them for FREEEEEEE here!!! She has some other super cute freebies to snag too!!!

 We got to try out our Super Silly Cat Pattern block Puzzle this week!! It comes in 3 different levels of difficulty and has 4 response sheet options! You can find it in my March Pattern Block Puzzle Pack!!!

And, check our classroom doors that my Kinder Partner and I decorated together!!!! See that little paper hanging at the top? We won "Best in Show" for our school! That equals a popcorn party and FREEE books!!!! Ha!!! So fun!!
Have a great weekend!!!!!