Shop 'Til You Drop

No, this is not a post about back to school shopping! This is the title of a new product I just put in my stores. I started  out intending to update this:

This one goes back to the days when I was still working in MS Word, so it was badly in need of updating. However, a funny thing happened along the way. I decided to turn it into a completely new product that was not tied to the holiday season. I also ended up expanding it to include two editions. I call them the "toy story" edition and the "back to school" edition. It's still about adding money amounts, but now there is a set of toy cards with prices (and without for differentiation) and a set of school supplies. I ended up spending a lot more time on it than projected and am very happy with the results! Since I teach third and we have no standards that include money I designed the school supplies edition to be used in September as a review of second grade math. The toy story edition has larger money amounts for later in the year -- but there is no holiday connection now.


I've uploaded this product to my TPT and TN stores, and have a giveaway today on my Facebook page -- check it out for a chance to get this for free.


Monday Made It: June 29th

I saw this idea on The Brown Bag Teacher blog and thought it was genius. These card holders are made by slicing up a pool noodle. I used a sharp knife and cut a class set using about 1/2 of the noodle. 

Since I still had a piece of the noodle, I sliced it lengthwise to make pieces to go into my STEM box. I had actually picked up the noodle for that purpose, so I'll have to go back to get another one! I pick these up at the Dollar Tree, so no big deal!


I changed this product so much with my recent makeover, so I printed and laminated a new set for my classroom. Those plastic envelopes are my favorite way to store these activities. I usually put the book right into the envelope and file them in my cabinet.

I got so excited about making over my "Black Friday Shopping" product that I turned it into a brand new item! I originally made it to use in my classroom during the month of December; the replacement can be used throughout the year.


Looking forward to what you made this week. Be sure to link up!


Fiction Friday: June 26th

Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate has been on my TBR list for months, and this week I finally got to it. Kek comes to America from Sudan to join his aunt and cousin, the other survivors of the massacre of his village. He tells his story in his own words, marveling and also being overwhelmed by so many strange things in this country. It's a difficult adjustment, and I love how Kek so often manages to keep a positive attitude (a contrast to his older cousin). 

I ordered this book because I'm trying to build up a set of books to enhance my STEM lessons. Then I hoped for the best! I'm very pleased with it, and planning how I will use it with my students this year. This is from Amazon: When seven-year-old Kondi decides to fashion a galimoto (a generic term for various push-toys made from wires and sticks), his older brother is convinced that a small boy should not undertake such a difficult project. Besides, the elder brother reminds him, Kondi does not have enough wire to make a toy. Readers follow the clever boy through his small African village on his quest to obtain the precious material from adults and other children through persuasion and old-fashioned know-how. Although he encounters many obstacles in his search, Kondi's persistence is rewarded. 

I decided to check in on my "Books I Want to Read" list and am so happy to see I've finished 3 out of the 5 I listed! I still need to read The Martian, and of course like many I'm waiting for the Harper Lee to be released. Not bad.

This book is a short story I published recently -- it is free today. I wrote a blog post yesterday telling about this.


A Writing Journey

This post is a bit different from the norm; I'm going to share with you a story I recently published for Kindle.

Last Sunday (Father's Day) I was thinking about my own father. When I was born, he was stationed in Taiwan (Formosa) as a member of the Air Force. My mother and I flew there from Vermont when I was about 6 weeks old. Most of what I know about our time there I've gleaned from the letters they wrote to my grandparents -- my grandmother saved them all! I also know I came back from there speaking a mixture of english and chinese that I picked up from the people who worked in our home. Too bad I lost that!

When I was just one year old my father was killed in a military plane crash, so I grew up without knowing him. As a young adult, I was given a folder of memorabilia by my grandmother and it was then I learned that he loved to write. There were clippings from his high school newspaper showing a regular column he had created plus some other pieces of writing.

This is where the story "The Vigil" came from. I wanted to publish it in his honor, so I edited and revised it -- while keeping the story the way he wrote it -- and published it last week with Amazon. I have just put it on sale (FREE) through the weekend, so I'd love it if you would download it for your device. Just knowing someone will read it is my reason for putting it out there. It's not great lit - it's written by a teenager -- but I'd appreciate it if you would take the time to give it a quick review on amazon. 


(not so) Extreme Makeovers

I know a lot of you have seen the blogging challenge this summer that starts with making over some of your TPT products. I didn't choose to participate, but did plan to update and "beautify" some of my products. When I started, I was using Word (!) so I still have some of those to fix up, plus lots of boring covers. I started working on this last summer, but did not get much done. This year I am determined to be super productive and update everything that needs it PLUS develop new products. Here are a few things already done:

1. Equal Shares

2. Math and Money

3. We Love Candy Bar Fractions 

The first two products got major makeovers of the content and I'm much happier with them! Candy Bar Fractions had a content update last year, so I just wanted to give it a cosmetic face-lift this summer :) You can click each picture to see it in TPT.


Monday Made It: June 22nd

This weekend was about Making Memories, as my husband and I went to north Florida to spend Father's Day weekend with his parents. We are blessed to still have them in our lives -- very healthy and active in their mid - 80s.

 I was a little bit in-between on quilting since I didn't get out to buy backing fabric until Thursday. I wanted to keep up my streak of sewing each day, so I put together these three pillowcases to donate to ConKerr Cancer. Pillowcases go to ill children to help brighten their days.

While I have not been participating in the "Makeover Madness" that many bloggers are doing, I have been doing makeovers on several of my products. This week I completed these two. 

Definitely going to have to step up my game for next week!


Fiction Friday: June 19th

Back to celebrate children's literature with Amanda this week! What are you reading? I have wide-ranging interests in books, so this week I have finished a 500+ page adult novel, a couple YA books that have been on my TBR (to be read) list for awhile, and some fun picture books. I am one of those readers who likes to have anywhere from 3 - 5 books going at a time and thanks to Goodreads I keep track of where I am at all times! You can find me there as Julie Sawyer.

I had one of those times at the public library last week where I grabbed some picture books hoping to find a winner -- and I did! Rhinos Don't Eat Pancakes by Anna Kemp was displayed on a shelf-top at the library and I noticed the great cover -- who could resist a purple rhino laying on a couch?! I picked it up and saw that it said the author is a winner of the Roald Dahl Funny Prize and knew I had to read it. My teaching partner read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with our students this year and we had 36 Roald Dahl groupies!

Daisy is a little girl who gets quite frustrated because her busy parents never seem to listen to her. When she realizes a purple rhinoceros has taken up residence in her home she tries to tell them . . .to no avail! Fortunately, the rhino is friendly and becomes a great friend who listens and spends time with Daisy. He does love his pancakes, and finally Daisy's parents wonder what happened to all the pancakes. She tries to explain, but they don't believe her of course. An outing to the zoo suddenly brings the situation into focus, and all ends well! This is going to make a fantastic read-aloud for the next school year.

I have made it a point this year to read some graphic novels -- something that I had been kind of oblivious to in the past -- and El Deafo by CeCe Bell may be the best one I've read. This one is a 2015 Newberry Honor book and is based on the author's childhood. As a young child Cece lost her hearing and and in a very sweet, funny, heart-touching way she has turned her experiences into this wonderful story. It's a great tale of turning a weakness into a strength, finding lasting friendships, and how to embrace differences. I was surprised to find that CeCe Bell is married to another of my favorite authors, Tom Angleberger. There must be a lot of laughter in that home! This book is great for third grade and up.

In honor of today being Juneteenth (June 19th) I had to include this one! All Different Now: Juneteenth the First Day of Freedom by Anglea Johnson tells the story of the day that slaves in the south were finally free. African American Emancipation Day may not be a thing where you live; I first heard of it when I lived in Texas years ago. Along with the story told through the eyes of a child, this book contains a lot of factual information about Juneteenth, so buy or borrow a copy -- I really think you will love it. And BTW, the illustrations are paintings that are absolutely beautiful!

Here's what I'm reading right now:

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppet by Tom Angleberger

Galimoto by Karen Lynn Williams

Who knows, they may show in a FF post soon!


Summer Reading

When I saw this great linky for summer reading my first thought was -- how do I pare down my 50+ TBR list!  I selected my books BEFORE I browsed through the other links and it was fun to see some of the same ones and so many new ideas!

1. Devil at my Heels by Louis Zamperini (his own version of the "Unbreakable" story
2. Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
3. Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee (I've had it on pre-order since it was announced)
4. The Martian by Andy Weir
5. Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel

1. Smile by Raina Telgemeier
2. Fairest by Marissa Meyer (after reading the first 3 Lunar Chronicles books)
3. Lost In The Sun by Lisa Graff
4. All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

OK, must stop; I keep thinking of other books I should have put on here!! 


Monday Made It: June 15th

I'm starting to get into the swing of summer -- 1 week is done, and I was super productive thanks to my daily to-do list! I finished an online ESE course to meet new certification requirements, am part way through a thorough cleaning of my kitchen, quilted, and even made my first purchases for the next school year at Dollar Tree. Now to link up with Tara of 4th Grade Frolics for Monday Made It!

After two years of a school-wide theme I decided to switch things up for the coming year. The first thing I did was make new labels for my book boxes with the blue chevron I plan to use throughout the room (not yet sure what it will be paired with!). I went with a mixture of genres and authors since that seemed to be the best way to organize during the past year. I also went back to using plastic shoe boxes and added an additional book shelf to try to get more of my large personal library out for students. Now I have to re-sticker some of the books to match the labels!

I'm determined to stay focused this summer on the many things I want to accomplish. It seemed impossible with a desk that just becomes a catch-all. I even mentioned to my husband that I might need to replace it with a simple desktop and no space for extras!! However, I decided the best thing to do is to clean up, organize, and maintain it. So, I made my desk neat and clean! That also involved cleaning out my file cabinets (the drawer in the desk and a free standing one with two more drawers). That stack of papers on the left is my to-do lists that have kept me feeling productive all week.

I'm going to bring back a project from last Monday, because I quilted and bound my Linus project! It's the first quilt I've made for this charity, which provides quilts and blankets to ill and traumatized children and teens. This week I will be working on another project with a quilt top I made last summer but haven't yet finished. Then I get to start a brand new quilt that I'm planning!

 I'm giving a few of my TPT products a bit of a facelift with brand new covers. Along with creating new things this summer I have a list of old ones that need a little work. First up is my number 1 seller for fractions -- I like my new cover so much better!

My Pinterest boards were a bit out of control, particularly the "Math is Elementary" one which had almost 300 pins! I made new boards for different areas of math, created new covers, and moved a lot of my pins to the new boards. I feel so much more organized!

That's it for this week! Be sure to link up and share your fabulous ideas.
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