Friday, December 28, 2012

Win An Entire Store and A FREEBIE!!!

Congrats to my bloggy friend, Cynthia, on her one year blogiversary!! 

Welcome to 2nd Grade Pad

As a relatively new blogger myself, I share in her joy and accomplishments. Her blog is not only adorable, but informative as well!  She is celebrating BIG.TIME by having a celebratory giveaway where you could win her ENTIRE Teachers Pay Teachers store!  That is *111* literacy, math, and science products.  Imagine returning to school with all these goodies!  Woot!  To enter just click the pic below to enter the Rafflecopter.

Graphics:© Loreen Leedy.

And before, I go, I have snow on the mind...  we had snow on Christmas Eve Day, snow and ice on Wednesday, and now more snow is coming tonight!  Ugh... I am SO NOT a winter person.  The only good snow day is one that cancels school!  LOL.  Anyway, I wanted to remind you of my little bitty Snow Day! FREEBIE.  Just click the pic below to grab your copy!

Enjoy the l o n g weekend!!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

It's (almost) A Brand New Year! Fun Literacy Packet!

I hope you all had a very special and memorable Christmas Day!  Here in PA, the snow started falling on Christmas Eve day, and my boys were so. very. excited to have a White Christmas! For those in the path of yesterday's tornadoes, I pray that you are safe.

Today we had a little of everything:  snow, sleet, rain, freezing rain, and wind.  I stayed in my pj's all day and was able to finish my New Year's literacy packet! Of course it helped tremendously that my my sweet husband cooked breakfast AND dinner!

As with all my products, my "It's A Brand New Year" packet was designed for use with small groups, specifically for reading intervention instruction.  However, the activities are flexible enough to use for whole class, in literacy centers, and for independent work.

The highlight of the packet is the two page original nonfiction article I wrote about New Year's Eve and Day.  I included text features (bold words, subheadings, fact box), active reading prompts at the bottom of each page, and some context clues for the nine Tier 2 vocabulary words. The reading level is appropriate for on-level second graders, advanced first graders (my first grade son read it with 98% accuracy. He reads at a Guided Reading level of L/M), and third graders reading below level.

Also included are vocabulary and writing activities~ a narrative prompt and a two page goal-setting and reflection graphic organizer. Aligned to CCSS!

 If you think you may be interested, you can hop on over to my TpT store to see the listing.  It is on SALE at a 50% discount and is only $1.50 now through the weekend!

My hope is that by sharing this, it will make your first week back in the New Year a little bit easier!

12/29/12 Update:  Head on over to my Facebook page to learn how you can win this item for FREE!  Winner will be selected this afternoon, 12/29/12.

****  12/29/12 evening Update: My 7 year old son selected a random number out of a hat and chose #4.  Congrats to Cindy, who had the #4 blog comment! You are the winner of my New Years packet.  Woot!  I sent you an email with the PDF file.  Enjoy!

Also, come join the New Year's linky fun at Teaching Is A Gift~ lots of ideas for when you return to school!  Click the button below.

 Have a relaxing week as you enjoy a much-deserved break from school.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry, Merry!

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!

I am so very thankful for your support, encouragement, and friendship this past year.  I appreciate each and every one of you and am grateful for the ways that you have enriched my life and my teaching.

From my family to yours, I pray you have a joyous Christmas and a healthy and blessed New Year.

Saturday, December 22, 2012


My house is a disaster with glitter, toys, sprinkles, and Christmas crafts everywhere. At this moment, I'm baking spritzer cookies with my little ones.  I wanted to come to my blog while the cookies are baking to share two quick things with you!

First, my Dolch Sight Word Popcorn game is now only $1!!  This is a fun game that kids love! I actually created this game last year at the request of a group of first graders I was working with for reading intervention. Use in centers or small groups. Click the picture below to see the listing in my TpT store.


You can grab the matching bookmarks and reader's log for FREE.  Just click here.

Second, I found this yummy and so very easy recipe for Christmas popcorn. This fun treat is made by drizzling melted white chocolate on popcorn and then garnishing with rainbow sprinkles.  I haven't made it yet, as I am planning to do so it as a New Year's Eve treat.  It would make a cute snack to take in to students after Christmas vacation!

Check out the blog Easie Peasie for the complete recipe and step-by-step directions with pictures  I can't use the author's pictures without permission, but just hop on over to Tiffany's blog and see for yourself.

I'm back to the kitchen to finish baking, do a little taste testing and cleaning up the monstrous mess!

Have a super weekend!!!!  Post a comment and share what you are up to today!  

Friday, December 21, 2012

Glitter, Candy Canes, and Playdough!

This year our extended family is having our first ever gift exchange.  Since the kids range in age from 4 years to 19 years (nine total kids), the emphasis is on making homemade gifts. In our modern, commercialized, digi, techie, gift card society, this seems to be rather obsolete. Kids love to make things and the teacher in me likes how it allows them to be creative, inventive, and to express their individual talents.

My almost 6 year old wanted to make playdough for his four year old cousin.  I have many playdough recipes, but we decided to keep it simple because of a time restraint and because of other projects we are working on. So, we purchased white Playdough from Walmart and glitter and got to work! Originally, I saw "snow playdough" on Pinterest (of course!).  You add white glitter to white playdough, knead it to distribute the glitter, and the end result looks like sparkling, glistening snow.

Well, that just wasn't enough color for my boys! I set them loose to experiment and make their own designs!

Did it make a mess?  Yes, yes, and yes!  But they had a blast and my nephew will love playing with this!  The color and texture is very enticing and makes great sensory play for toddlers and preschoolers.

Then we tried candy cane playdough. We added a few drops of red food coloring, some red glitter, and a couple drops of peppermint oil to white playdough.

 What a fun sensory experience this will be! The playdough has the added texture of the glitter and smells like a candy cane! Adding candy cane cookie cutters will make this gift complete!  

We put the finished playdough back in the original containers, but we're going to the dollar store to find some cute containers to put the different creations in.

 Then it was my turn.  While the kids were at school earlier this week, I made one of my favorite treats for teacher gifts. For ten years, I have been making Peppermint Bark, which can be quite pricey if you purchase it at a candy store or bakery.  This recipe is so, so very easy, the results are stunning, and it is delicious and delectable!  Here's what you do:

  • Melt one (12 oz.) bag of chocolate chips (I use milk chocolate) in microwave. Follow the directions for melting on the package.
  • Place wax paper on a cookie sheet.  Pour the melted chocolate onto the wax paper and use a spoon to swirl and spread out the chocolate until it is about 1/4" thick. 
  • Place in freezer or fridge until hard.
  • While the chocolate is "setting", take about ten candy canes, place in a ziplock bag, and use a rolling pin to crush into tiny pieces.
  • Melt one (12 oz) bag of white chocolate chips in microwave.  
  • Once the milk chocolate has set and is hard, pour the melted white chocolate on top.  Swirl with a spoon to spread evenly.
  • Sprinkle the candy cane pieces on top, patting them down just a little into the chocolate.
Here 's what it looks like:
  • Next, place the cookie sheet back into the freezer or fridge so the the white chocolate can set and harden.
  •  Finally, when the chocolate is hard, take out of fridge or freezer and use a butter knife to cut/break into small pieces.

I love the festive appearance and the irregular shaped pieces.  Place  them in a pretty tin, jar, or candy box for a sweet homemade gift!

We have a few more projects we will be working on this weekend.  What are your favorite homemade gifts to make? I'd love to read your comments!

Happy first day of winter!!


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Let the Games Begin!

Today is National Games Day!!  Big or small, young or old, we all love games.  That got me thinking about games I loved as a child (back in the dark ages before video games!).

Here is one that I played almost everyday one summer with the neighborhood kids when I was in elementary school~

Game of Life

 And another one that I fondly remember playing with my mother and grandmother~

 Go to the Head of the Class

To celebrate, I have discounted my Popcorn Dolch Sight Word game to a $1!! A group of first graders I worked with last year asked me to make this for them. It is kid-tested and approved.  Great for small groups and centers!  A "print and go" center all ready to use after Christmas vacay!

 And finally, I want to congratulate Heather from The Busy Busy Hive for reaching 200+ blog followers!  Woot!  She is celebrating BIG time with a huge giveaway!! Prizes include a $20 Target gift card (woo-hoo!), Teacher-Friendly pencil sharpener, and various products from TpT sellers. Imagine winning and having lots of goodies to take back to your classroom after the holidays!  Click the button below to enter!

Have a fun, fun day with your sweet little ones! 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Yesterday I spent more time in the kitchen than I have in a long time.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I don't really enjoy cooking and baking, and I have to be in a rather ambitious mood to do so.  My motivation?  Making homemade gifts from the heart!

I knew exactly what I was going to make and where the recipe was. And, no, it was NOT (gasp) a Pinterest find! 

Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book (Five -5- Ring Binder, 10th Edition) 

 Since 1989, I have been using this cookbook.  I received it at my bridal shower and it was a lifesaver for a novice cook and homemaker. Inside this dog-eared book are faded pages, some of which are stained and smudged. Inside this book are memories from the last 23 years. Remembrances of recipes gone bad and flashbacks to cooking and baking with my oldest son, some fifteen years ago.

I decided that I would make one of my favorite cookies, snickerdoodles.  My husband loves them, my kids love them, and I fondly remember my mother and I baking them. But, let me digress for a moment.  As I was working alone in the kitchen, listening to the ubiquitous classical music that I only turn off at bedtime, I remembered something else about these cookies.

Ten years ago I was teaching a middle school reading intervention program (Read 180) to a tough group.  I had three classes,one for each grade level.  My seventh grade group was a bit of a challenge.  I had about ten kids in the class, eight of which were boys.  Very troubled boys.  Boys without fathers, boys with parents in jail, parents that had died. I had students that wore ankle bracelets, who threatened to kill me, and many, if not all had an IEP or 504 plan for various reasons.  Was it easy?  Oh, my no!  I cried every day with the frustrations of desperately trying to reach these kids.  They were hurting, they were angry, they felt stupid, and they had major trust issues.  They rejected any sort of kind gesture, as they had very few adults in their lives that they could depend on.  Did they test me?  Absolutely!  However, I was determined that I would not give up, I would not disappoint these kids, and I would not abandon them as so many others had.

We started each class with a ten minute read-aloud.  I chose this book to read to them at the beginning of the year.  The title alone, grabs the reader's attention.  

I had a group of struggling students that felt like losers their entire life.  Jerry Spinelli has been a long time favorite of mine and the middle school students that I taught for 15 years.  He graduated from Gettysburg College, mere minutes from where I now live and is the college my father attended.  Many years ago, I had the privilege to meet him at an IRA conference. Anyway, I had a suspicion that my students would be able to connect with this book's main character, a loving, yet awkward child who struggles for acceptance.
I'm getting to cookies- soon- I promise.  Almost instantly, the class loved the book.  They begged me ( "tough" 7th grade boys that towered above me) to continue reading.  Some days I read longer than the allotted ten minutes and we had very emotional discussions.

Now for the cookie part.  In the book, the main character makes a giant snickerdoodle cookie that doesn't turn out so well. At the mention of this cookie, one can't help but smile, and, well, snicker!  The kids had never heard of this cookie.  Was it real?  What did it taste like?  I had a light bulb moment. My behavior modification and incentive plans I used were finally working.  So, I made it a bit sweeter (pun intended).  If they had a "good" week and earned "x" amount of points, I would make them homemade snickerdoodle cookies for them to eat the following Monday as I read aloud to them.

Yes, they earned the cookie "party".  I lovingly spent a chilly November Sunday baking cookies for them. For the rest of the year, they would choose these cookies as a reward.  I never made so many snickerdoodles in my whole life!

And that, my sweet readers, is what I was thinking about yesterday when I was baking.  I often wonder where these kids are today... did they graduate high school, did they stay out of jail, did they remember my message that they are special and had such great potential?

They touched my life and that is one of the many blessings of being a teacher.

I'm worn out from this long post, so excuse me as I go to eat breakfast~ snickerdoodles of course! 


Monday, December 17, 2012


Graphics by Charlotte's Clips and Kindergarten Kids

Today is a brand new day, a brand new week.  Despite the devastation on Friday, for many the show must go on.  Teachers across the country will be entering their classrooms today with uncertainty... How will I address this heinous act? What will I say?  Will I cry?  How can I reassure my precious little ones that they are safe?  

As with any other day, you will lovingly greet your sweet ones, teach them what they need for the day, and love on them. You will carry on with grace, love, and professionalism.  For others that have suffered indescribable loss, your life will not be so normal. But God is with you, and so are countless strangers across the globe.  We won't forget to lift you and your community in prayer and to do what we can to offer you the support and comfort that you need.

For those that are still teaching this week (and anxiously awaiting the Christmas break), here are a few freebies I found that may be of use as you approach the delicate subject of the Sandy Hook tragedy:

  • I Feel Safe- a printable book to reassure students that they are safe at schoolWritten by the very talented Jodi Southard.  Click on the picture below to see the listing and to download your copy of this sweet book.

I Feel Safe {A book to reassure students that school is safe.}

  •  Sandy Hook Memorial Project a beautiful craftivity to make with your children and/or students to remind them of the importance of loving one another. Click the picture below to see The Primary Techie's listing and to download this freebie.

 Sandy Hook Elementary Memorial Project

  • Christmas Is Love- a printable book I wrote a week or so ago to remind my own children that God is love, God gave us the best gift, and that Christmas is about love, not Santa and presents.  Click the picture below to download your free copy.

  • Lunch Box Love Notes- I created these at the beginning of the school year.  My own children love when I slip one of these notes into their lunch box, especially my youngest who suffers from an anxiety disorder.  Teachers can use them too.  Place a note in a child's cubby, take home folder, or on their desk while they are out of the room for lunch, recess, or specials.  A simple reminder to kids that we love them and are thinking of them.  Click on the picture below to grab your free copy.
 Lunch Box Love Notes for Little Ones!  FREEBIE!

May these printables be of good use for you and your students.  May you be brave today and do what you do best:  love and teach the little ones.

Today as I embrace my own kindergarten and first grade sons as they leave for school, I am reminded that they are not really mine... they are gifts from God that He has blessed me with.

  Blessings and love to you all!

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