Saturday, January 14, 2017

How to EASILY Save $100s on Classroom Supplies

Raise your hand if you like to save money!! Seriously, I am always looking for ways to stretch a buck!  Being a teacher, that's not always easy!

Have you ever heard of

It's an organization that gives schools and non-profit companies access to tons and tons of quality products at low and discounted prices! We're talking markers, tape, address labels, pens, sticky notes, stickers, reading materials, etc. etc. etc.! I know some teachers even got personal laminators for $9!!! Their inventory is changing quite regularly, but they have A LOT of things that, as teachers, we are buying on our own already. Why not save some money?!?!

Browsing the website isn't for the weary.  It's like shopping at Ross, TJ Maxx, or Marshalls.  You don't always know what you're looking for until you find it for a great deal  I always think of my Ross shopping trips as "treasure hunts." I'd say it's like that to browse the website.

Membership: You can sign up for a teacher membership and once approved, you can start browsing the many products offered on the website.

Prices: The only "cost" you pay is for Shipping and Handling! You'll need to have a minimum order of $25 - which is considered the S&H cost. Easy peasy!

I just received my first order and am SO excited I wanted to share with you!  I only spent $30.50!!!

Here's what I got:

1. Adhesive Tape Runners (I posted about them in my 4 of the BEST School Supplies).
These are SERIOUSLY my FAVORITE.  The website said that there were "4 rollers per carton" for $1.25.  Which means that each roller comes out to $0.31! I bought 6! So for $7.50 I have 24 tape rollers.  I use these for EVERYTHING - it's a quick way to adhere pictures, game pieces, construction paper, etc! I typically buy these at the 99c store for a dollar each - so I would have paid $24 for all of these.

2. Mr. Sketch Markers - I bought two different sets of Mr. Sketch Markers.  I bought one "kit" that had 6 colors (red, warm pink, hot pink, yellow, black, and light blue) with 10 markers each for $11.  The next set of Mr. Sketch Markers had 4 colors (hot pink, dark blue, orange, and green) with 12 markers each for a total of $3.  That's 108 Mr. Sketch Markers, wonderful smelling markers, for $14! I checked on Amazon for a set of 12 - it's $5.08.  To get 108 markers, it would have cost $45.72!

3. Binder Spines - I have been meaning to make some spines for my binders to organize all my school binders - my assessment binders for ELA and math, my student info binder, my planning materials, and my sub plans. As much as I have wanted to make these spines, I have not gotten around to it! Even just to write on these with sharpies and put them in my binders will save me loads of time!! I paid $1.25 for a package of 50. On Amazon, they are $7.73 for a package of 25, so I'd be paying over $15 for 50.

4. Post-it pads - I saw these and knew I needed them for my assessment binder! For 18 pads (with 25 post its each), I paid $2.50.   That comes out to $0.14 per note pad.  I can't find a comparable product online. I found the exact ones on Amazon, but for 2 pads it was $45.  Sooooo.. for an off brand, to get 4 pads it would cost $11.75 which is $2.94 a pad or about $52.88 for 18.  I already started using these in my assessment binder and THEY ARE AMAZING! I went through and wrote out all of the things I need to assess before the semester ends in a few weeks.

5. Clear Address Labels - Address labels have always been super useful in my classroom - I label the children's folders, consumable books, crayons, etc.  I most recently started putting math word problems on address labels to easily put on to pages of our math notebooks.  For 5 packages of 300 labels (1,500 labels altogether) I paid $4.00. That's $.80/package.  On amazon for the same amount of clear address labels from the same company, it would cost $34.98. That works out to be $6.99 per package!

To pay full price for all of these items, I would have paid $173.04!! Uhm... I don't have that kind of extra money laying around to spend on my classroom all at once!! Isn't it like $250 you can write off for taxes each year? We already know teachers spend WAY more than that, but being able to save $142.54 here and there, YES PLEASE!!

So.. Ready to check out  It can't hurt!

I have found myself browsing the website a few times already since I placed my first order.  Right now, I'm set with what I've got, but I know if I find something that is too good to pass up, I'll be placing my second order!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

What is a Common Core Gradebook?

Is your gradebook a mess? Does it make it difficult to get organized for report cards? Mine was that same way! Grading and report cards are already tedious tasks.  I set out to create a gradebook that would be efficient in all the right ways!! The motto "work smarter, not harder" was my driving force! 
I LOVED my Common Core Gradebook so much that I made it for grades Kinder through 6th to help other teachers too!  There is an ELA version and a Math version of each one, and a bundled option to save money on them as well!

I made a few short videos to show you more about how the gradebook works!

I am constantly finding new ways I like to use my gradebooks.  There are so many things you can do with them!

There are two versions in each gradebook - a "condensed" and an "extended" version.  I use each of the versions for different things.

The condensed version is my go to when organizing data for report cards especially.  I also like to use this version to collect standard based test scores.  In this short video I talk about how I color code my condensed version!

The extended version is probably the main reason I created these gradebooks - it makes it SUPER easy to organize and collect standards based data in an easy to see way so that I'm not searching through my gradebook to find things all connected to one particular standard.  It's all laid out with the extended version!

 Here are some more odds and ends I wanted to point out!

Click below to check out Common Core Gradebooks on my Teachers Pay Teachers Store!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Highlights of 2016

It's New Years Eve and what a better way to spend the morning than by reflecting on the top 5 "Highlights" of this year!
 This is a link up with Daisy Designs so be sure to check out her original post to see more highlights!!

 First!! The BIGGEST highlight of the year was the birth of our daughter, Kennedy!! She was born June 13th at 3:21am!  Weighing 7lbs 4oz and measuring 20 1/2 inches!! We are blessed to be her parents each and every day!

A second big highlight this year is that we upgraded my husband's truck - we found the prefect truck in the color that he actually wanted! He needs his truck for work, but it also needed to be a family truck that would haul things!  I don't really have a picture of it to add, but it's been the perfect fit for our family!!

We have been doing a lot of family stuff!  This fall we bought two quads so that we can go out to the desert to go riding.  It has been so awesome!! We've made two family trips out to the desert so far this year and my husband has been able to take the quads out riding with some friends a few times, too!  We also went camping with Kennedy for the first time (she was 5 months old!).

I finished out the year (well.. almost! Kennedy was born a week and a half before the end of the school year) teaching TK and then moved up to Kindergarten! I ABSOLUTELY LOVE this age and am SO excited to be a part of kindergarten again!! It's been years since I've taught kindergarten, but it is truly my favorite age!!

We celebrated, visited, enjoyed, and relaxed A LOT with our family and friends!! Having our baby, it just has been so wonderful to visit with everyone and enjoy each others company!

What are your highlights from 2016??

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Making Christmas Wreaths with my Students!

I LOVE making little Christmas gifts for my students to give their parents.  I always think about what I would love to get from my kiddo at Christmas time - something hand made with a picture of them! I love looking at my mother in law's tree and seeing all of the little ornaments and crafts my husband made as a kid.  These types of things are my favorite!

These wreaths are SUPER simple and inexpensive to make!

 1. I bought puzzles from the a local thrift store for a total of $7. You could also get some from the dollar store.  A total of 2,000 pieces!

2. I had a doughnut shape template cut out (by a parent volunteer!).  I knew I wanted to make the child's picture 3 inches (because I have a 3' punch), so I used that as a guide and had the doughnut shapes cut out of cardstock.

3. I had a green piece of construction paper cut out that was the same size as the outer circle of my doughnut shape (this is for the back of the ornament).

4. We had our "4th grade big buddies" help us glue the puzzle pieces to the doughnut shape.  I told the kiddos to make 3 rows of pieces (to make sure we had enough pieces for everyone).  Some kiddos did 3, some did 8!!!!

 5. I took the wreaths home and spray painted them green.

 6, I took the kiddos pictures, got them developed, and punched them out with my punch.  I put an address label on the back of each green construction piece that said "Christmas 2016 Mrs. M's Kindergarten Class." Then I had the children write their name in sharpie above the sticker because it's fun to see how children wrote their name in kindergarten! I glued these pictures in the middle of the green construction paper back.  Then I laminated them and cut them out!

 7. I used an 18' strand of garland beads from the dollar store - I cut between each bead.
 8. I had the kiddos put a black sharpie dot where they wanted me to put a red bead.  I stayed after school one afternoon and hot glued all the beads on while listening to Christmas music!

9.  I hot glued a string to hang the wreaths on the back of the original doughnut shape.  Then I hot glued the laminated green construction paper on with the child's picture.

10. Lastly, I had the children pick out a bow they wanted to put on their wreath and then hot glued those on!

In years past I usually try and find little gift bags on sale for the children to wrap their gifts for their moms and dads, but this year, I used brown paper lunch bags!  I printed out a "MERRY CHRISTMAS" image that was in bubble letters so the children could color it.  They wrote "To: Mom and Dad" and "From:" on it after coloring.  They wrapped their wreath in tissue paper and I put them in their bags, folded down the edge and stapled it shut! I'm sure there are much more elegant and classy ways to wrap these gifts, but honestly, I love how simple it was to do it this way!!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Elf-tacular Giveaway!

I am SO excited to have you join me for the Elf-tacular Giveaway!  You'll find an elf holding a letter hidden within this blogpost.  Collect all 7 letters from the other blogs within this Blog Hop, then unscramble the letters to make a word and you'll be able to unlock the rafflecopter to enter the giveaway!

While you're here, check out my  
"How to Build a Snowman" 
sequence and writing activity!

This is such a fun activity for my kiddos! The children LOVE sorting through the sequence cards (there are 19 of them!) and arranging them into different sequences to tell how to build a snowman.  

Why this activity is so great:

Automatic brainstorming! With the sequence cards, I don't have students saying "I don't know what to write..." I like to use the sequence cards at an independent center for students to explore before we start working on the writing piece. With 19 different cards, the students find different combinations which is fun to see as part of their writing.

It's also easy to differentiate.  There are 3 different picture organizers - 3 steps, 4 steps, and an open box for more open ended writing.  There are also 4 different formats of lines - two sets of dotted lines for primary grades, and two sets of upper grade lines in different sizes. 

It's different EVERY TIME.  The sequence cards and the unique ways that they can be put together make each child's writing different.  I love that they can have a shared experience while creating different pieces of work!

It's great for the whole winter season. I love having these writing pieces displayed during the winter months! It's not something specific to just one month, but instead can be a great activity all season long!

It's at a discounted price until Friday December 9th! 

Click below to find it on TPT!

Here's your elf and your letter!

Hop on to other blogs in this Blog Hop to collect the other 6 letters!  When you have them all, unscramble them and enter them into the rafflecopter to enter the giveaway!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, November 20, 2016

What is your BEST teaching secret?

Yesterday I met another kindergarten teacher and she asked me:

What is your BEST teaching secret?

I've never thought about that before! It was an awesome question, and I have to say, it was really fun to share "secrets" with her!

On the spot, I told her my best teaching secret is: 

Regardless of whatever classroom management system you use, boundaries are fitting in every classroom, and from my experience, 
kids actually NEED and THRIVE when there are boundaries in place!

So, what do boundaries look like in my classroom?

1. I am quick to praise!
--Students NEED praise.  They need to know their teacher is looking for and acknowledging their efforts on a very regular basis.  
Anywhere from "Wow! I really love how ___ is following directions quickly!" to "Wow! Watch how ____ is coming quietly to the carpet!" or one of my favorites, "___ is it okay for me to share with the class how you were problem solving?"
The children LOVE being praised and especially love being an example to their peers.  I try to look for different children every day and cycle through the class

2. Children get many opportunities to show correct behaviors.
 --Piggybacking on praise, I have the students who are doing a great job in class model for the other students what the behavior is.  Depending on how much practice we need at that particular time, I may call on students one at a time to show the correct behavior - like lining up quietly at the door - or a whole group - like coming to the carpet quietly from their table groups. 

3. I am consistent.
--I try to be as consistent as possible so that students know exactly what is expected and how our classroom runs.  They can be most successful when they are set up for success! One example of this is during centers time, I use a timer or a bell to get children's attention.  Typically at this time it is time for students to get ready to rotate centers.  When the bell goes off, they freeze with their hands on their shoulders.  I say "Our hands are here, our voices off, our eyes are on me." and I wait for ALL the students to follow through with these directions. 
--Next, I use hand motions for our directions.  We all say these together: First, we clean up. Second we stand up. Third, we do it quickly and quietly!  For the past few weeks, we've been doing these directions with JUST the hand motions.  I mouth the words along with the directions, but this sets the students up to go into these routines quietly.  Since we've been doing the directions with just hand motions, my parent helpers have watched in amazement! 

4. The first month to two months, are "BOOT CAMP"
--That sounds more extreme than it is! I just go over rules and routines CONSTANTLY! I have students demonstrate correct behavior over and over again.  Students practice, practice, practice.   It is grueling. By the time the month or two months is over, I find myself thinking "WOW! They have become SO independent!" And all of that painful struggle of "boot camp" pays off!  Looking back over last year, I gave my littles a month to get into the groove.  The remainder of the year was smooth sailing!! So worth it in the end!! 

5. Children get one warning
--I give one warning.  This is one of the biggest components to boundaries in my classroom.  When students are off task, I give them one warning related to the classroom rule they aren't followingI offer a suggestion as to how they can better fulfill that direction, and let them know if I need to remind them again, they will be moving their clip down.  Because I do so much in the first two months of school to practice routines and behaviors, as well as praising the students so frequently, I find that this one warning generally eliminates poor behaviors pretty quickly!  If the behavior continues, I follow through with my discipline procedures.  

So, what is your BEST teaching secret??  I'd love to hear your secrets!!


Friday, September 9, 2016

4 of the BEST School Supplies

When it comes to school supplies, I've found myself reaching for certain ones over and over again.  Besides my love of flair pens, I gravitate towards these four supplies on a daily basis. They make my life easier and more functional!

1. Tape Runners

These tape runners are THE BEST!  I have tried so many different kinds and had some pretty big letdowns over the years, but I've found that these are one of my absolute biggest "go to" school supply.  They make projects go quickly and I never have to worry about the end result like I sometimes do when I use glue sticks.  The best part about them is that I find them at the 99 cent store! SCORE!  I know some craft stores and other stores sell them in packs of 3 for anywhere from $7 to $9.  I will go to the 99 cent store JUST to grab 10 of these things!! 

2.  Paper Cutter

My school has a few of those big guillotine style paper cutters which are great for construction paper, trimming down multiple pages at once, and big projects.  We have a guillotine cutter in our grade level work room, but this paper cutter is my go to for smaller, more detailed projects. It's light weight, fits in my cupboard, is precise, has a guide that helps hold your project in place, and has a ruler that swings out to measure bigger projects.  I use this ALL the time for prepping materials in my kindergarten classroom.  I used it all the time in my 3rd grade classroom as well! It was perfect for things I needed to do super quick - like cut paper to make fraction pieces or cutting around the edge of lamination.  I purchased it at either Joann's or Michaels with a coupon.  The blade is also super easy and cheap to replace! 

3.  Baskets, baskets, baskets!

These are some "little" baskets I have in my classroom right now.  I have matching baskets in a long and thin size and matching baskets in a long and wide size.  They are perfect for EVERYTHING!! Today I made these two baskets to hold crayons by color.  I wanted the crayons to be easy to grab for my students when they are coloring in their day at the end of the day.  I used my paper cutter and cut some cardstock in half, folded it up and made "dividers" to separate the crayons.  Even with this little divider, I can still stack the baskets inside of each other and put them out of the way which is super nice! I got all of these baskets for just a few bucks at Wal-mart.  I grabbed a BUNCH of them in different sizes.  They different sizes come in 2 packs or 3 packs. I bought a bunch of them not knowing exactly what I'd use them for at the time.  I've since found so many uses!  I organized my drawers and supplies with a bunch of them.  I use two long thin baskets to keep my pencils in - sharpened pencils ready to be put out for the kiddos are in one, and the other had pencils needing to be sharpened!  SO MANY USES!!

4. Sheet Protectors

I use these ALL THE TIME!! My two biggest uses are for centers work and for practice pages in my students' take home folder.  These ABC writing pages will first be a center in class this week and then they will be going home in my children's take home folders along with a whiteboard marker to practice their stroke order at home.  Right now I have a sheet protector page in their take home folder so that they can practice writing their name.  These are GREAT for games at centers too - children can use whiteboard markers on them and quickly wipe them off!  Last year this eliminated a lot of extra "fluff" for me!  I didn't have a bunch of student papers I needed to send home, which was SO nice.  I also didn't have to make a ton of copies.  Since they can be easily wiped off, these helped give easy repetition to the skills my students were working on at centers time too!!
It also serves as "instant lamination" when I know I don't have time to get something laminated!  

What are some of your favorite school supplies?