Tree Hugger Linky Party

Ok, so I am by no means a tree hugger, but it seemed like an appropriate title. Do I recycle? Yes, of course! My family puts 5 recycle bins out each week. It makes me cringe when I find out people don't recycle, so I usually take my recyclables home.  I am such a weirdo!

I thought it would be fun to share projects or things that we have reused in our classrooms.  What sparked this idea is my recent move from 2nd to 1st.  I keep asking myself what books will I read to them?  Will I be able to use my tissue boxes for a 1st grade project?  When I taught 2nd grade I would always read The Boxcar Children to the class.  It is amazing to me how much they love this book!  After I start reading to the them The Boxcar Children books are suddenly as hot as Justin Beiber (in their eyes)!  The librarian can't keep the books on her shelf.  Now that is what this is all about!  The first year I read it to my class I got the bright idea to use empty tissue boxes to make boxcars.  I decided to send the boxes home with a note about what the students were to do along with a list of some possible craft supply ideas.  I encouraged the parents to let the students think outside the box.  I wanted to see what the students were visualizing as I was reading to them. It was so cool to see all of the different designs.  Some used the tissue box and some didn't.  Some were completely done by parents, some were obviously done by the kiddos.  But they were all so proud of what they brought back. This project will be sorely missed. :(

I also used tissue boxes this year to make "Love Monsters".  I blogged about those earlier this year.  We used them as Valentine card holders.  I am so in love with how they turned out and I hope I can incorporate them into my 1st grade classroom.

I would love to hear about the types of things you reuse in your own classroom.  For years I saved formula and cereal cans from my babies.  I just recycled them at the end of this year.  What would you have used them for?  I know I am going to regret my decision after I read your ideas! Please link up with your favorite tree hugger idea.



Lemonade Themed Pack for Accelerated Reader

Earlier this year I blogged about what my team does for Accelerated Reader, but in case you missed it I am going to tell you about it again.  I also just created this super cute Lemonade Themed Pack using Krista Wallden's Lemonade Stand Graphics pack to go along with our fun celebration.  I thought it was too adorable not to use right away.

So onto the real topic...  My team came up with this idea before I joined, but it is really one of my favorite things that we do.  We have a monthly AR celebration to encourage the kiddos to reach their goal and more importantly... READ!  Each month we set a goal for the students to reach.  It is usually 2-4 points depending on the length of the month or breaks that we will have.  At the beginning of the following month we have a celebration to recognize the great readers.  Many things happen during this celebration.  

First, the students receive AR slips for each half point they get.  

These AR slips go into a bucket to later be used in the drawings.  

I made this bucket using the bucket art that is included in my AR pack.  It was super easy!

You need a bucket (I got my from Target for $1.99), Mod Podge, and paint brushes or a sponge.  

As you can see my husband had other plans for the bucket. LOL!

I put a thin layer of the Mod Podge down on the bucket.  Then I smoothed the picture down.  Finally I added another thin layer of the Mod Podge.  I did go around the edges of the bucket with a paper towel because I had a lot of extra Mod Podge, but I have to say for it being my first time it was SOOO easy!

We gather all of the students in the hub for the celebration.

  They look forward to it EVERY month.  We first announce the students who reached their monthly goal.  Then, we announce the Top 3 readers from every class. 

 We usually give them a free homework pass (I like to laminate these and re-use them), I-Pad time, game time, etc.  After that, we draw 3 names from the AR bucket from each class.  These students get to have lunch and a movie with the teacher of the month.  Finally, we combine all of the AR slips into one giant bin and we draw one name for the grand prize.  The grand prize is toys, free kids meals, and other miscellaneous items we have collected.  The kids LOVE it!  

Grand Prize bucket

You are probably wondering what the goal reachers receive.  Each month we try to come up with something new that doesn't cost anything or not much.  Our school has a small fund we use or we ask our Parent Organization for money.  We have done recess, game day, snacks, pajama day, and my favorite, foam-r-ators!  Follow this link to see how to make the ever popular foam-r-ators.  We start collecting Gatorade bottles a month or two before we need them.  My awesome husband cuts the end off with his saw (wish I had a pic of this).  Then we attach socks or old towels to the end with a rubber-band.  Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy!

I hope you enjoy!


Ten Pin Linky Week Two: Classroom Management

I happened across ANOTHER linky party hosted by Just Reed. Two in one day for me is an accomplishment! She is hosting a linky this week of your top 10 favorite classroom management pins.  I LOVE Pinterest and I had no difficulties going through my School board to find 10 cool classroom management ideas.  I have to admit 2 of them are mine, but they really are a positive motivator in my classroom. I am CRAZY about them!  Check out #2 or #6 to see what I am talking about! :) 

   These reward coupons seem to cool to me.  They are actually my coworker, Mel D's, creation.  She is at  

Once again this is my creation, but it is so motivating.  You move the race car each time you catch the class behaving as a whole group.  When they get to the last letter they receive a prize from the treasure box.

I don't know what it is about homework, but I can NOT keep track of who has or hasn't turned theirs in.  This seemed like a great idea!

I have heard nothing but great things about Warm Fuzzies!

5. Puzzle

I love the idea of the class working together to create something!

This is mine too.  It is the same concept as #2.

My students LOVE brain breaks.  I use these when we are doing a lot of testing or they just need to get their wiggles out.  These are two of my favorites!

Such a cool idea!

I had an "I'm Done" poster this year and I ALWAYS referred the students to that.  This seemed cuter than my poster.


I just thought these were plain ADORABLE!

I hope you enjoy some of these classroom management pins!


My Teacher Always Says...

I am linking up with Forever In First in her first ever linky party!  She shared some of the things she always says in her classroom.  I thought this was a cute idea because I think we all have those one or two sayings that the students will forever remember.  That is actually where I got the first saying I am going to share with you.

This is my favorite!  I was in middle school shop class when a student got the hiccups.  The teacher caught sight of it and asked the student if he had hiccups.  Of course the student said, "yes."  The teacher proceeded to tell the student to prove it.  Magically the hiccups were gone!  I use this SO often in my classroom and surprisingly works almost every time.  I ask the student if they have the hiccups and when they say yes I ask them to prove it.  Sometimes I have to make a big spectacle of it to kind of scare it out of them.  At first the class thinks I am crazy.  Eventually they catch on and they love it!  They even get in on the act of causing a spectacle.  The students begin to come up to me to tell me they have hiccups so I can make them go away.  I love it!  I usually only have a faker 1-2 times a year.  Try this is really works!

Once again I did not come up with this, but I can not honestly remember where I first heard it.  I use this saying when handing out birthday treats because there is always that parent who thinks it is a good idea to buy some vanilla and some chocolate cupcakes.  What are they thinking???  I always start by saying, "you get what you get" and then the class finishes it. It really does cut down on the "I wants".  I have also used this when randomly handing out different colors of construction paper.

I am sure I have more, but I just can't think of any right now.  What are some of your favorite lines?  Come check out other teacher sayings in this fun linky party!




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I'm On Facebook Now!

I finally jumped on the bandwagon and started a facebook page last night.  I would appreciate it SOOOO much if you came and "liked"  me on my page .  Gosh I feel like I am in elementary school again!  Maybe because that is where I spend countless hours of my life???  Thank you so much in advance!  I'm really looking forward to being creative this summer and that will be the first place I will talk about it.  


Friendly Letter End of Year Writing


Earlier this school year I attended a Kristina Smekens workshop on mini lessons.  It was AMAZING!  Her team is always great about recommending books to use with the students and then they have tables and tables of books for you to purchase.  Marketing scheme???  Who cares though because I love recommendations.  One book that she did not get to talk about was Thank you, Miss Doover by Robin Pulver.  

This book caught my attention because every year I have my students write friendly letters to their classmates.  This is something my team started and I LOVE the idea!  We start at the end of April and we do a letter a day.  This book seemed like the perfect opener to this project because I want their letters to be heartfelt and neat too.  When I was reading the book to the class I was reading her name just as it looks.  The only easy way for me to explain was it rhymed with hoover.  When I got to the end of the book I realized it was do over.  Brilliant!  That is what I get for only skimming a book!  This worked out better than I had expected because I am VERY particular about their handwriting and neatness.  So if there are erase marks or tears in the paper you have to do it over!  They get good at being close to perfect pretty quickly.  When I realized what her name actually was I decided to decorate a hat to wear while editing the students' letters.  All I had in my cabinet was a sailor hat from a school wide theme a few years ago.  Hot right?!  The student's cracked me up.  If I wasn't wearing it and I started editing it they would bring it over to me!  Then they started calling me Mrs. Doover.  Hysterical!  There were some occasions when my aide would edit their letters and she even wore the hat.  It seems silly, but whatever gets them excited right!

For the letters I put an outline of what I would like them to include in the letter on my ELMO and project it daily.  You can find that example hereat my TPT store.  I highlighted the parts they need to focus on or change.  I just added that now, so let me know if that seems to confusing.

 As time goes on they can stop using the outline or I found that they liked adding one or two special sentences.  I did find my slower workers needed a hard copy in front of them.  That works too if you would rather do that for everyone.  Maybe laminating them for each student would be a great idea to start with.  
Some of the letters were SUPER sweet this year.  

If the student in the one that the rest of the class is writing to then they write a letter to me.  I just love reading what they have to say about me.  It seemed like we laughed a lot together.  I think that is a good thing right?!  
It is very important to keep track of who turned the letters in, so I just made a copy of my grade sheet and put a check mark next to their name when they turned it in.  You always have those 1 or 2 students who are behind several letters.  You have a student in your head don't you!

I keep all of the letters paper clipped until I receive all of them, then I create a cover.  I glue the cover onto construction paper.  Then I use another piece of construction paper and sandwich the letters between the cover and the 2nd piece, staple it, and it makes a little book.  

I hand the letters out on the last day of school and I give them some quiet time to read all of the letters carefully.  After they are done reading I have them share some of the things that they really liked.  It is cute watching the author get a smile on their face when they are recognized for writing something nice.

The students take them home and hopefully have an adorable keepsake from their class! 



Norah's 1st birthday party

Yesterday we celebrated my daughter, Norah Gray's 1st birthday.  The day could not have been more perfect!  I kept checking and they were calling for isolated thunderstorms.  Magically when I woke up on party day the forecast changed!  I couldn't have been happier.  

So thanks to Pinterest I had grand plans on what to do for her party.  Curse you Pinterest!  No I am kidding I love it!  Needless to say, there was ALOT of preparation.  I would like to share the things I actually had time to do with 2 little ones always needing my attention.

The first thing I would like to share is the picture you see above.  I found this idea at  I bought the letters for $3.99 each at Michael's.  Honestly, I took them back when I was all done!  Seriously, what was I going to do with those letters???  I feel horrible, but hey it is what it is!  

The photo shoot did not quite go as planned.  She took a late nap.  We were going to lose daylight, so I woke her up!  Mistake one!  Mistake two was going to the pond by myself.  I know that she will always smile for daddy no matter how tired she is.  So I ended up texting him and he came right away.  He is the best!  So he at least got her to hold the letters.  When I was doing it she kept pushing them over.   She is a pistol!  All in all I am VERY please with how the collage turned out.

I am just so in love with this picture of Daddy and Norah. 

My son decided to get in on the action too!  He chose to put his head in the center of the"O" all by himself.  We were rolling on the ground with laughter!

The next thing that I was so thrilled with was her birthday ensemble!

I bought the owl patch from from bigblackdogdesigns.            
I then had a friend from work embroider the #1 and the saying, "Whoo's lookin' at my butt?" 

 My sister-in-law and I made the tutu.  We found the tutorial at  They suggest wrapping the elastic around a chair so you can easily tie on the tulle.  That did not work for us because of the size of Norah's tutu.  So my sister-in-law held the sewn elastic circle while I tied on the tulle.  We probably made the tutu more difficult because we bought yardage of tulle instead of spools.  So I had to cut each strip.  And someone had the bright idea to do pink, purple, turquoise, orange, and green strips.  Yeah, that was me!  Smart right!

I don't care though because she looked so stinkin' cute.  My husband says if I say stinkin' you know that it is extra great.  Love him!

The last thing I was SO excited about was the cake.  My son has a peanut allergy, so we are not able to buy store bought or bakery cakes.  You can read about his peanut allergy at my other blog  We visited Disney World in October and we were able to have an incident free trip.  Check it out!

So I found the CUTEST polka-dot cake on Pinterest.  The blog is  She has a great tutorial on how to achieve this adorable cake!  I can give you what I did, but I highly suggest you check her blog out!

I used Betty Crocker Butter Recipe cake mix.  6 to be exact.  My first batch I forgot to add the eggs, and I had already added the coloring gel, so I had to throw it away.  I was NOT happy.  I sounded like a truck driver. Finally my husband told me I needed to cut it out. :) After I calmed down I started over.  I mixed up the cake mix the correct way, and then I separated half of the batter into 3 smaller bowls so I could make the polka dot cake balls.

I used Wilton coloring gels to dye the batter for the cake pop balls.  This gel was AWESOME!  I added it to the batter a toothpick full at a time and the color was amazing.  So much better than food coloring! I also used the Babycakes Cake Pop Maker.  I bought it from a friend for $10, but I know Target has them for about $20.

I got better with the cake balls as time went on.  Here are some things I learned.  DON'T TURN ON THE CAKE POP MAKER until you READY to pour the batter in!  It gets way to hot and they cook too fast.  My first try it had been on for awhile and they did not turn out good at all.  They oozed all over the place.  
1) Wait to plug it in.
2) Spray with Pam or other non-stick cooking spray.
3) Spoon directly from the little bowls.
4) Fill the holes just a little below the top. 
5) Start filling from the middle.
6) Only cook them for 2 minutes opposed to the 4-5 minutes suggested.
7) Unplug the machine immediately.
8) Loosen the cake balls with a butter knife before pulling them out.

You put a small amount of the batter on the bottom of the pan.  Then you put the cake balls on top.  I would probably make more and put them closer together next time.  Then you put the remaining amount of batter over the cake balls.  My cake balls were not covered completely.  I would suggest having an extra cake mix on hand.
 So when it came out of the oven I decided that her smash cake was going to be entirely too big.  So I used a small kids bowl and cut it into a circle.  It was still too big, but I couldn't imagine if I would have left it as a square!

After I let it cool it was time to decorate!  I used a friend's buttercream recipe.  It was delicious.  I used the Wilton coloring gels to make the frosting pink.  It surprisingly didn't take much at all to achieve the color I was looking for.

We needed a family cake too.  So I made two 13 x 9 cakes and stacked them on top of each other.  They have the cake balls inside too!

I was so proud.  Thought I was all done.  I took a step back and it says Birtday!  Are you kidding me!  Oh, Welcome back truck driver!
Here is the finished product.  I did not make the fondant owl.  A friend gave it to me from her daughter's birthday cake. Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle ;)

 She kept taking bites and saying, "Yum"

I kept taking pictures and saying, "oh, that's a cute piece!"  The cake was a huge hit inside and out!

I almost forgot the decorations!  I made the banner using the Cricut and the poms are store bought.


Here are a couple of pictures of my little cuties cleaning for the party!  They love each other and helping mommy and daddy!

The party was VERY successful.  Norah was such a little princess.  I hope you enjoy reading about my daughter's birthday party.  I had a great time preparing for it and I just needed to share.  I created a board on Pinterest called Norah's 1st birthday ideas.  Come check it out!

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