Do you remember playing around the world when you were a kid? I used to love playing whole class games like this! My class loves it too! This is a fun game I made up called King (or Queen) of the Mountain. But more about that in a minute..... first I want to talk about the downside of playing whole group games like this.

The thing is that only two people can play while the rest of the class just sits and waits for their turn. Now theoretically, you want them paying attention so that they can be practicing their math facts or reviewing for the quiz with everyone else....but is that always happening? How do you keep everyone engaged when playing a whole class game?

It wasn't until I read The Wild Card by Hope and Wade King and read their amazing idea....and thought, duh? Of course! 
In this amazing book Hope and Wade discuss so many ways to keep students engaged! It was here I had my ah-ha during whole class games, everyone has a white board in front of them or in my class we just write on our desks with dry erase markers. They ALL write the answers as quick as they can! Everyone is practicing even though the two standing up front are the only ones actually competing.

Now...back to King of the Mountain!! Kids love this game. One person stands on a crate or even a chair, the object of the game is the challenger to answer the fact quicker and "knock" the king or queen off the mountain. But they have to watch out for 
Land Slides and Blizzards! 
This is just fun and fast paced. It only takes a few minutes to play but it gets kids practicing their facts!
I have Addition, Subtraction and Multiplication, you can get them in my store here!

Why buy a planner that is not truly customized for you? One thing I really wanted was a planner I could ADD my own papers to. Then I found the Happy Planner discs and fell in love! I am so excited about my new planner this year! 

And I just love how it turned out! There is a slight investment up front with the punch, discs and TAB punch, however you will be able to use these from year to year. In fact, this year I summer all I did was change my cover and add the calendar pages and that was it. I will print off  my new class lists and some new meeting pages and to-to lists when school starts. Easy!

One thing I love about the Happy Planner punch is that I can easily add and take pages out. If I go to an important meeting I take my planner with me. Take notes and then add any documents or handouts I get as soon as I get back to my room. Everything all in one place and NO MORE heavy binders.
I got the Happy Planner punch and discs at Michael's   (also Joann's recently had all the stuff on sale!)

I got the Tab Punch and Stickers at Amazon. (I am obsessed with this thing, I want to tab everything!!)

I printed my cover and dividers on cardstock. I laminated the cover but did not laminate the dividers. I then used the Happy Planner punch and discs to put it all together.

Then I got my tabs ready. I labeled my dividers Calendars, Curriculum, Class Info, Data, Small Groups, and To-Do List. But the nice thing is you can you can change the labels to fit your needs. I also have the labels free for you! Just click the picture for a link to a Google slide. To punch the labels, you position the punch over the words and cut.
Now, it was time to decided what to put in my planner! I knew I needed calendars, class lists, meeting notes, committee notes, to-do lists....and I made it all editable in Power Point. 

You will love the different styles I designed this summer:
                                  Editable Teacher Planner

All the Teacher Things - Editable Teacher Planner

Farmhouse Teacher Planner- Editable

Happy Planning! 

I needed to replace my IKEA stools this summer because they just did not make it through my class last I thought I would make some bucket seats. Kids love to tip and rock and I knew these would probably hold up better but every post I looked at either called for painting buckets or cutting wood circles. And I did not have the time or ability to do either of those things!!!
The first thing I found was buckets at WalMart that were only $2.97 each. They were a nice blue color that didn't have a huge logo on them so there was no need to paint anything. I could totally live with the blue, but if you don't like the color then maybe painting would be something you might want to do. The second thing I decided to do is turn the buckets upside down so that the kids would be sitting on the bottom.

Then I cut out a circle of cardboard and a circle of 2 inch foam. Then I covered the circle of foam with some cute fabric and hot glued it to the cardboard. The next step is to hot glue the fabric covered circle to the bottom of the bucket. Then you are done. I decorated around the edge with some duck tape. 

Easy as pie! These will be comfy and hold up much better around my guided reading table than those $5 IKEA stools!  

Have you had your End of the Year party yet? Even if you have, you surely can save these ideas for next year! I love doing a Luau Theme party every single year. In fact, I have a box of Luau decorations from the Dollar Store that I reuse every single year. All I do is pull out that box and I have everything I need. I usually even have plates and napkins left over from the previous year. 

I start off by sending a parent letter for donations and having my students send invitations to their parents so they can attend. They love coloring these for their families! You can get your FREE download of the invitation, just click the pic:
The one thing I always need though is something to keep my kiddos occupied and CALM on the party morning! So this year, I made some activities for them to do. I had them read about the history of the Luau and do a comprehension sheet as well as a word search. This gave me some time to do a little party prep!
I have a bunch of other tips, tricks and printables in my new resource! I have included:
Two pages of party tips
Favor tag: "This Year Has Been a Ball"
Photo Booth Clipart
Luau Word Search
The History of the Luau passage and worksheet
Editable Parent Letter
Bulletin Board Set "Let's End This Year with a Luau Party"
You can get my whole packet on Teachers Pay Teachers:
Our party went really well this year, it is a fun way to end the year. I plan to continue this theme for many years to come!

I am so excited to have time this summer to relax and spend time with my family. But at the same time I have so many projects! So do you have a summer to-do list a mile long? I usually start off the summer very ambitious and end up sleeping way too late and spending way too much time on Facebook!

I do have three books I am reading this summer and if you don't already have your summer reading planned yet, I have some recommendations:

I have already finished this book by Hope and Wade King and if you haven't read it, you need to put it on the top of your list! It is amazing. I loved hearing about the experiences that lead Hope and Wade to the classroom and how you can easily implement some of the same engagement techniques they do. I love that they give the reader so many hands-on practical strategies! 

My school is doing a PLC on this book this summer, so I just started it. This excellent read by Stephanie Harvey challenges the readers to stop thinking of readers as "struggling" but as "striving". Change your mindset with this jam packed book of lessons, assessments and routines that will have your readers thriving!
The last recommendation, I can barely put down since I got it in the mail. Even if you are a seasoned professional and have got your reading block all nice and tidy....this is awesome. If you are a newbie, you need this now! Practical as all I can say. I love that Jan Richardson has a link on Scholastic to study guides and handouts for everything in this book. You can really step up your guided reading time with this one. I can't wait to keep reading.
The best thing for me about summer is the possibilities! The possibilities of what I can get done, of who I can spend time with, how I can expand my knowledge for my students....I just love the beginning of it all!  

This is the first school I have worked in over 15 years that does not have the Accelerated Reader program. Now I know people either love or hate AR so don't throw tomatoes at me but I actually love AR! I realize the questions are lower level questions and that it doesn't require students to think deeply about their reading. However, this year I have missed the accountability. I missed being able to print those reports and see what my students are reading. Or not reading. I realized I really needed something too that would give my students an incentive to read more books!

This is what I came up with. I am a HUGE fan of Google Forms, so I created two forms. There is a fiction and a non-fiction:

Then I made a bulletin board title "Read A Thon". Every time a student reads a book, they fill out a book report on a Google Form. We have an online learning platform so I share the link with them through that. But there are many ways to share the link, and the best thing about Google Forms is you do not have to have Google accounts for every child to use forms.

After that, they can write the title on a Post It note and put it above their name. I give out a coupon from my coupon binder for every nine Post Its, but I am sure you can come up with great incentives in your class
Would you love to try this with your class? Click the picture to get the links:

How do you keep students accountable for their reading? I would love to hear!

There are so many tech tools out there these days, it is hard to keep track of them all. And, things are changing and updating so fast! But I am a technology junkie and I love to integrate technology into our day whenever possible.

We only have about 7 computers in each classroom and in this school, only a few of my students bring their own device. We are a BYOD or Bring Your Own Device county so students are encouraged to bring an IPad or other tablet. 

So, I usually try to find ways that students in my class can use the computers when they are collaborating with their peers or in the computer lab. Luckily, we have quite a few labs for weekly sign up.

Writing is just one area that I love using technology! In this blog series I am going to share some of my favorite resources your students can use during the writing process:


For prewriting, you cannot beat the resources in ReadWriteThink. Three of my favorites are:

If you want your students do do some brainstorming:
For research:
If students have to search something on the web, Kiddle is a kid safe search engine powered by Google. But I still like to find websites that provide the information they need for a specific project. For example, if we are researching animals, we might use National Geographic Kids or Planets for Kids

But my favorite website for kids to use for research is by-far PebbleGo. The one thing about PebbleGo, it is a paid subscription and it is not cheap. If you are lucky enough to have it through your school or district, you probably love it too! My students can be completely independent when on Pebble Go and they have such a wide array of topics. I can't say enough about it!
Be sure to come back soon for Part 2: DRAFTING! 

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a safe and happy New Year! I got back to school this week and boy it was were tired and I was tired. Luckily, the weekend came quickly.

I got a new toy for Christmas as I know many of you probably got one. I read an article that the best selling kitchen item this past holiday season in the US and in the World was the Instant Pot!
So now, you've got one....what do you do with it?? First of all, I was utterly confused by all the functions and directions! I did a little research to help you out if you haven't used yours yet. (Now disclaimer here....I got a crock pot version but if you have the instant pot, it is pretty easy to figure out the similarities in functions) Here's a great little website that can help you get started: here
And this will help you with all those darn buttons!  here

I truly love that you can brown your meat right in the cooker. What a time saver, when I cook a pot roast I always brown it first. Then put it in the crock pot. This just saves time and cleaning another pot.

So now you have your Instant Pot out, you need something good to cook right? One of the very first recipes I cooked was General Tso's Chicken from my new cookbook and it was so good!
I have more awesome recipes to share with you that you just have to try! These are easy for those busy nights when you have worked late at school and want to put a home cooked meal on the table for your family. 

I am sharing these from my awesome friend, Ashlyn who has a great lifestyle blog. She is a wife, mommy, teacher, blogger, cat rescuer, jewelry maker....I have no idea how she does it all! Check out her blog: Right Meow or Never

First is one of my family's favorite meals. So good and so easy.

Next, is one of my go-to meals in the winter. I love chili but I love Taco Soup even more! 

I love anything with chicken because I always have it on hand. The ingredients in this recipe I almost always have in my pantry as well. Easy! 

Beef with Broccoli is literally my favorite thing to order when we get take out from the Chinese restaurant.  But with this recipe, who needs take out?

If you like these recipes just hop on over to her blog and check out the rest! I guess I need to get cookin'!!

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