Back to School Sale

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It's what we've all been waiting for, right? The TpT Back to School sale will run August 4th and 5th. Like many others, my store will be 20% off so that with the additional TpT discount you save 28%.

So, time to load up your cart with those wish list items you have been waiting to purchase. I've been putting things on my list since school got out, just waiting for the sale. When I reviewed it a few minutes ago I found a few items to delete, but most everything will be purchased next week -- can you pass up a sale like this?!

What's on your wish list?


Monday Made It: July 28th

This week I felt like I got some things accomplished! I guess it's knowing that I only have two more weeks before reporting for work :) Thank you, Tara, for this fabulous linky; without it I would have much less done.

With just two weeks left until pre-planning I am thinking ahead to Open House (the Friday before school starts). Last year I decorated my classroom with balloons on the desks, and each student was invited to take one home with them. This year I decided to make pinwheels. I purchased lollipop sticks at Michaels (stronger than straws) and used some scrapbooking paper that I had on hand to make the pinwheels. I have pretty flower pots at school that these will go in. I only have one at home, since I decided I should make them at school and save myself the hassle of trying to transport them safely!

The last few years I have made bookmarks for my students for the first day of school. When I saw these freebies from Krista at Creative Clips I knew I wanted them for this year's group! I printed and laminated and cut them out - all ready to go. Click the picture to get them for yourself - the packet has bookmarks for Pre-K - 6th grade.

And for families I made these business cards. After printing them I laminated them, cut them out, and attached magnet tape to the back so they are ready to go on refrigerators (or whatever!). They have my email and our classroom website to help with communication.

I have been using the rules from Whole Brain Teaching for a couple years, and I liked the ones made by Laura Candler at Corkboard Connections much better than what I have on my wall. They are printed and ready to go up on my wall as soon as I make a trip to school -- maybe Monday.

I learned online how to make my own chalkboard paint, so I've been experimenting with it! All you do is add some non-sanded grout to paint (I bought some $.50 bottles of acrylics at Walmart). I've made two things so far - I put a label on my jar that has treats by using painters tape to block out a rectangle, and I painted a plastic container that my protein powder comes in. I have been saving them, knowing they will be useful for all kinds of things! I am definitely going to have fun with this!


Saturday Savings: Free Books

How do you add books to your classroom library? If you are as big a fan of kids' books as I am, it can get a bit expensive. Amazon prime tempts me every week :( but I just can't afford to always buy new books. Thrift stores, yard sales, library sales and using your Scholastic book clubs points are all inexpensive ways to keep new books coming in, and I want to share another possibility with you.

A few years ago I discovered and I love it! It's a website that allows you to swap used books for free; you pay the postage for the books you mail, and you earn credits for them that you can spend on other books. According to the site, I have saved over $200 since I have been a member. Here's how it works:


There is also a CD and a DVD site. A couple years ago I decided to get rid of a large portion of my DVD collection so I began posting them. Because credits can be transferred between the sites, I was able to use the DVD credits I earned for lots more books! I love to take book requests from my students and I let them know that if I can I will add their requested book to the class library. Paperback Book Swap is my number one way to do it.

Here are just a few of the books I've added this summer:


Just click on the icon to check out this great website! Happy reading :)

Trade Books for Free - PaperBack Swap.

Fiction Friday: July 25th

So, another dystopian trilogy that lots of people seem to like. Guess I should check it out - after all, they made a movie. In fact, the movie was showing on my cruise but I avoided it since I had not read the book yet. From Amazon:

One choice can transform you. Beatrice Prior's society is divided into five factions—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). Beatrice must choose between staying with her Abnegation family and transferring factions. Her choice will shock her community and herself. But the newly christened Tris also has a secret, one she's determined to keep hidden, because in this world, what makes you different makes you dangerous.

I have to say, I wasn't loving it. It seemed like kind of a chore to read, but I didn't want to hit pause too soon. And then, the story hooked me in. I stopped reading my other books so I could finish this story. I think it is the character of Tris that grabbed me; she is such an interesting heroine. So, when I finished it I immediately downloaded the second book, Insurgent, which I have just now finished. I enjoyed that one too, now I have to see if Allegiant is available (I have been getting them from Overdrive through my library and reading on my iPad). NOTE: I just checked and had to put it on hold. Hopefully it will be available soon!

Meet Beatrice, a nine year old who has never made a mistake! That is the premise of this charming picture book by Gary Rubinstein. I read this book a couple years ago, and used it as a read aloud on the first day of school. It's a great story to spark discussion with your students about how to handle imperfection -- the reality that they will all make mistakes in your classroom! Apparently I forgot about it last year, 'cause I never read it. Probably because I have the Kindle version - it's easier to forget when you don't see a physical book! I was reminded of the story this summer, and it is going back on my first day plan. I really love the way Beatrice handles herself when she finally does make a mistake -- in a very public setting.

I came across Ten Times Better by Richard Michelson doing some professional reading for math. I had never seen the book, but decided to order it based on my reading. Unfortunately it is not available from Amazon, but I was able to get a used copy from one of their third party sellers. I'm so glad I went ahead and paid that shipping charge (I'm a bit spoiled with Prime!), because I really love this book and will be developing a product to go with it in the future!

This is a number book, but different from anything else in my library. It's all about multiplying by 10, using poems and illustrations of animals. For example, the THREE toed sloth loves the number three, but the centipede beats that with its thirty feet. The book covers the numbers one to ten, ending with 100 bees! I'm looking forward to using this book when we get into our multiplication unit this fall; I think my students are going to love it.


Don't Miss This Giveaway!

Nichole at The Craft of Teaching is having a huge giveaway to celebrate her new teaching position and follower milestones. Check it out - many bloggers have donated items for you to win. I have donated my Mega Sub Pack for August/September, a $9 value:

There are so many awesome prizes, as soon as I finish this post I'm hopping over to enter! Click the giveaway button at the top of the post to go directly to Nichole's blog. Good luck!

Monday Made It: July 21st

Back from my Alaskan cruise and excited to link up again! Of course, I didn't get much done - most of my week was recovering from the time change and being up for about 40 hours straight for travel back home:)

My class shares two bathrooms with three other classes. I manage it by using passes; they hang up in the room and students place them on their desks when they use them. We go through 2 - 3 each year, because of use, so I picked up a new pack of foam doorhangers at Michael's this week plus a package of letters, and we are set for the start of the year!

Last year I saw a pin using shower caddies to organize small group things and wanted it right away. Unfortunately, the shower caddies like this are not easy to find during the school year, so I made a mental note to look when the "off to college" supplies were in the stores. Bed, Bath and Beyond advertised these last week, so I grabbed two. One will be for math and one for science. I made the tags, but of course the stuff for inside is all in my classroom at the moment; I'm trying to decide if I want to go to school this week and start pulling my tables back into place! Right before our trip I had picked up a package of zip ties at the dollar store to make sure luggage tags stayed on and they are turning out to be helpful for all kinds of things!

When I got back home last Monday I had a flyer from Walmart - with 50 cent composition books in it! I picked up 20 and took them to OfficeMax to be cut (just $4.63). These are going to be my students' math practice books (homework). This is my first year to use the half notebooks, and I'm excited to see how they work.


Saturday Savings: Scotch Expressions

We all spend lots of our own money on our classroom, so I thought I would begin a new (irregular) series with money saving ideas for classroom teachers. I'll be making it a Saturday post, and will blog whenever I know about a good deal!

I picked up a couple rolls of the Scotch Expressions washi tape in Staples a few weeks ago. I like to use tape on my white board to box off areas for different things. I'll be picking up more rolls using this $5 off a $10 purchase coupon that expires in August! Click the picture to go to the coupon and print. You can only use one coupon per day, so enlist a friend or make two trips (that's what I'm doing).


Fiction Friday: July 18th

I did quite a bit of reading while I was on vacation, but not much from my stack of children's literature. I was able to finish this one when I got home:

Rump: The True Story of Rumplestiltskin interested me more because I am a fan of Once Upon A Time (LOL) than because it is one of our Florida award winners this year! The author, Liesl Shurliff, knows what it's like to have an unusual name and really brings that out in the story. Here's the Amazon summary:

In a magic kingdom where your name is your destiny, 12-year-old Rump is the butt of everyone's joke. But when he finds an old spinning wheel, his luck seems to change. Rump discovers he has a gift for spinning straw into gold. His best friend, Red Riding Hood, warns him that magic is dangerous, and she’s right. With each thread he spins, he weaves himself deeper into a curse.

To break the spell, Rump must go on a perilous quest, fighting off pixies, trolls, poison apples, and a wickedly foolish queen. The odds are against him, but with courage and friendship—and a cheeky sense of humor—he just might triumph in the end.

With a grade 4 reading level I will definitely be talking about this one to my 3rd graders who enjoy fantasy stories.

Hopefully next week I'll get a bit further into my stack of books! I saw some intriguing books in Alaska and will be looking them up on Amazon (not that I need any more!).


Are You A STAR? You Should Be!

One of my PD workshops this summer was about using Discovery Education in science. I was surprised that most of my colleagues in the training were not familiar with the DEN  - the Discovery Education Network - and no one knew about the STAR Educator program. I've blogged about this before, but it has been quite awhile so I want to put in a plug for it once again!

First the Den. I snipped a short description from the website:

Here is a short video to introduce the Network.

I've been a DEN Star for many years now, and I love the community! Here are some benefits of being a member:

One of my favorite things over the years has been receiving early invitations to events here in the Orlando area. I have been to some great events with other DEN members where I was able to learn about new uses for technology tools, network with other teachers, and have tours of SeaWorld, Orlando Science Center, Wonderworks. There are always great door prizes and giveaways; at my first event I received a boxed set of Planet Earth, which had just been released.

If your district subscribes to Discovery Education, please go and watch the video about becoming a DEN Star! It is well worth your time. And then apply, and join the group!
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