Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Top Five Vegas 2015 Memories

I am so happy that I was able to travel to Las Vegas with my husband for the 2nd Annual TpT conference.  Neither of us had ever been to Vegas before, so we were excited to explore.  It was also a "vacation from parenting" so we soaked up our independence :)  Here are my memories of Vegas in no particular order!
The Sights
It's a fairly short flight to Vegas.  The time passed quickly, and we arrived in Vegas at around 10:00 at night.  Our hotel room had a view of The Mirage and the volcano show was neat to see from above! It was important to me to see some of the classic Vegas sights.  The fountains at The Bellagio were so impressive.  My favourite song was "Luck Be a Lady" by Frank Sinatra. 
We wandered around the Strip a few nights.  Saturday night was pretty crazy, but during the week it was relatively tame for Vegas.
The Venetian

We stayed at The Venetian.  It's a beautiful (and HUGE) hotel.  I loved the Italian touches everywhere.  I was in Italy in 1999, and I would love to go back.  For now, The Venetian will have to do!  I wish I would have taken a photo of the front of the hotel the night before, because the banners were of amazing chefs.  For the rest of the trip it was the UFC banners because they had a conference at the hotel.
One thing I wanted to experience was eating at Carlo's Bakery (within The Venetian).  Right before check-out on Sunday we managed to grab some cannolis.  They were absolutely delicious!  If you go, be prepared for long and slow lines.  I somehow thought that people would be ordering a few things and the line would go quickly.  No way.  Most people were ordering dozens of items!


One of the highlights of the trip was meeting some amazing teachers, some of whom I have been communicating with online for years!

I met Wendy from Mrs D's Literacy Lab,  Jill from Clearly Primary and Nicole from Primary Teaching Resources.  These ladies are so sweet!

I was so happy to be sitting with Melissa from I Heart 4th Grade and Stacie from Teacher Life is Good for a session put on by Little Miss Kindergarten and Falling Into First.
I was also happy to spend some time with another lovely blogger buddy, Sandra from Savvy Teaching Tips.

I also got to spend some good time with some talented teacher-authors from all across the U.S!
I really enjoyed my sessions, including one put on by Deanna Jump and Dee Dee Wills!


To say that the conference was inspiring would be an understatement.  It was amazing being surrounded by other teachers who "get it."  Teachers who LOVE curriculum creation and teaching. Again and again it was stated in my sessions that we have to remember that it is about TEACHING STUDENTS and improving their learning.  Each of us, whether we create resources, buy resources, or a mix are impacting our students on the ground level, and that's what matters most.

One of my favorite sessions was put on by Erin Cobb of Lovin Lit.  Hers was the last session I went to and it was AMAZING.  It was so inspiring.  I learned time-management tips and teaching tips and I'm so excited to be already putting some of them into practice already! There were several great Keynote speeches, including Paul Edelman (the founder of TpT) and Rachel Lynette. They were inspirational and I loved some of the stats they shared, such as about how many students have been directly affected by the resources purchased at TpT.  It's all about the kids and their learning, and it was nice to see that emphasis.

Grand Canyon Day

When my hubby and I first started planning for the trip to Vegas we looked at some of the attractions, one of which was helicopter tours of the area, including to the Grand Canyon.  Well, those tours are pretty pricey, so that wasn't going to happen, but we ended up driving there!  It was a long day in the car, but it was such a fun time. To make the long drive more enjoyable, we upgraded to a Mustang!  Can you believe it only cost $11 to upgrade?!   My hubby definitely enjoyed his wheels for the day, and I loved it too! We plugged in the GPS and drove.  Gone are the days of the passenger needing to navigate!
We saw a sign for the Hoover Dam so we took a tiny detour to check it out!  We had to be careful with our timeline, so we didn't get out of the car, but one day we'll have to come back with the kids and check it out more!  It was still neat to see!
I loved the desert landscape.  During the drive from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon there was a pretty diverse landscape change.
And then....the Grand Canyon.  Words and pictures cannot describe the wonder that it is.  I was a total dork and covered my eyes until I was right at the edge, because I wanted to take it in all at once instead of in stages.  Thankfully my husband didn't even question it.  Haha.
The drive home was enjoyable (even though it was long).  After our long drive we went to In-N-Out burger.  My hubby had never been there, and I had last been there in around 1995, so I was looking forward to it!  It was tasty and fun.  I love this totally Vegas-style In-N-Out sign! 

To prove how much time we spent driving, we took a photo of the driving timer in the car.  We hit 10 hours and 15 seconds just as we got into the parking garage!  That's all in one day.  Not too shabby for a day's outing. 

As if the day wasn't full enough, we went to the Wayne Brady show at The Mirage at 10:00 that evening.  The show was hilarious. It was entirely stand-up.  That man has serious talent!
Final Reflection

The trip was one to remember.  I leave energized, feeling understood by others who have similar interests, and fulfilled by the activities and sights I was able to see.   I'm so grateful for the time away and the memories and for all I learned!
One of the takeaways I learned in regards to creating teaching resources is to take a good look at my resources and make sure that they are updated.  I know that for myself, I am more excited to use products that are designed well and with the kids in mind.  As a result, I updated my First Week of School packet upon my return home.  I'm so happy with this update!  

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

First Week of School Planning

I don't know about you, but when I'm planning for the first week of school I often get distracted with all of the administration and classroom set-up.  So, to make life easier, I made a first week of school packet 3 years ago and now I don't have to search and compile items for that first week of school; they're just all in one place!  I just finished a lovely update on the product to modernize it, and I hope you like the improvements.  Here are a few examples of the changes:

If you are a first year teacher, an experienced teacher, or you just want something simple and fun to help with your first week planning, check it out!  Lesson plan ideas are included.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Alphabet Practice for K/1

My little firstie-to-be is spending some time practicing her basic skills in anticipation of starting first grade.  She's having fun this morning!

This is part of my alphabet mini-bundle.

These are great for independent work time, because each page follows a similar format.  They each contain cut and paste components, tracing, printing, and phonemic awareness.  

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Currently: July 2015

I am loving that summer holidays have finally arrived and I can get back into reading blogs and writing on mine!  Summer is such a time of personal and professional rejuvenation for me!

I am linking up with Oh' Boy 4th Grade for a fun "Currently" linky.

Here's what is happening with me!

1.  My hubby was watching a funny car show where some old cars were being driven around a course and then smashed up.  So, my little guy copied by making his own course out of blocks and drove his cars through (and then smashed around appropriately!)  So fun. 

2.  Summer holidays have finally arrived.  We are among the last to start summer holidays, but the good news is that we will be among the last to start up again!  

3.  There is so much to do this summer.  I just finished moving my epic amount of boxes from my old school to my new one (I had to do it quickly because my old classroom is being painted right away).  I'm also changing grade levels, so I have a lot of planning and creating to do this summer.  And as if that wasn't enough, we just bought a new house, so I need to pack up this house and get ready for our August moving date!  Gah!  All exciting things, but with a lot of work attached to them.  

4.  Yeah, a packing fairy would be nice about now.  

5.  I'm in need of a fill up :)

6.  All in all, I know that everything will get done and I'm so happy.  As for being a team player, I'm really excited for the challenge of starting at a new school and joining in with a new grade level team and helping out!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Two for Tuesday- June 30

I'm happy to be joining up with Chalk One Up for the Teacher for her Two for Tuesday linky!

I'm sharing two of my favorite back to school resources.  The first is my "First Week of School" printables.  You will find mini-lessons, worksheets, and a game to help you with your first week planning. 

The next item is my Parent Night/Open House fully editable slideshow.  It comes filled with text that you can edit, but I have heard from other teachers that they are able to keep quite a bit of it and just edit some of the minor details.  This saves you time!

I have placed both of these items on sale for the linky.  Enjoy!  

Monday, March 16, 2015

St. Patrick's Day

Here's a quick peek at some of what I've got planned for St. Patrick's Day tomorrow.  We are going to design a leprechaun trap and write about 4 steps to catching a leprechaun.  I know that some students will follow this up by building them with paper and recyclables during free choice play time! 
We will also do a variety of St. Patrick's Day themed math centers, including my St. Patrick's Day measurement center.  
I always manage to scoop up some St. Patrick's Day items at the dollar store to turn into games.  It's easy to improvise.  Here is a simple greater than /less than game to play like war.  Instead of taking the cards when you have the greater number, you get to take a coin from the stash. You can also have students add the two cards together and whoever has the greater sum wins the coin, etc. 
If you are really lucky, you might get the coin with the pot of gold sticker on the back! When setting up the game, you just need to make sure that it is upside-down.  If you are the lucky one who finds the pot of gold coin, you get to take 5 coins.  Whoever gets the most coins by the time all of the coins are gone is the winner.   
 These cards are just quick little cards I made from scraps of card stock.  I just wrote the numbers on with sharpie and added shiny St. Patrick's Day stickers to them.   
 The coins are from the dollar store, and the dark green "bowl" shapes are actually mini St. Patrick's Day hats that I cut the elastics off of.  They make cue containers to hold your "winnings."
We will also finish up our "We Are So Lucky" writing pages.  
I hope you have a wonderful St. Patrick's Day!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Five For Friday- Manyoni, Estimation, and Magic Sand

It's Friday!! (No wait, it's Saturday, but I started writing this post on Friday!).  Anyway, I'm happy to be linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for the Five For Friday Linky.  Here's what I've been up to this week!
Our interactive read-aloud this week was "Where are You Going, Manyoni?"  On Day One I read the book aloud and we discussed some of the unfamiliar words used for the landscape and plants.  We also discussed the similarities and differences between Manyoni's school and ours.  

On Day Two we discussed some of the "fancy" English vocabulary before re-reading the book.  
On Day Three, we re-read the book, and recorded a chart listing all of the different places that Manyoni went, starting at home and finishing at school.  The students each chose one to illustrate and cut out of paper. Some students worked together to create their area.  Then we got together and created a large (as big as a bulletin board) map of Manyoni's path.  I can't even express to you how "magical" this activity was.  The students were so engaged and so excited about this collaborative project.  
I think that the final result is so beautiful.  The students labeled the different areas on pocket chart poem paper and then glued them on to match the areas.  Each child also drew an arrow on a small piece of paper and glued them to show the path that Manyoni took.  (The actual geographic relationship between the places on her path is made up by us because there isn't a map in the book, but the students didn't mind or even notice).  
We also did a whole class and a pair-share talk about how we are like Manyoni.  Then the students wrote about it in their journals.  Some of the ideas we came up with were:
-I am like Manyoni because I like the morning too.
-I am like Manyoni because I walk to school too. 
-I am like Manyoni because I eat porridge for breakfast sometimes.
-I am like Manyoni because I get to walk alone.
-I am like Manyoni because I get to school early.
-I am like Manyoni because I like my teacher.
--I am like Manyoni because I get to play with my friends at school.  

I love doing surveys as part of our morning meeting time.  The students enjoy being able to express their opinions and of course using the smart board is always inviting. In regards to this particular survey, I wanted to know which poems my students like the most out of the ones we had done that week or so.  We are using poems from Hello Literacy and they are PERFECT for my kiddos.  They are short four-line poems and my students are soaking them up and so eager to read them aloud.  I have put them into my students' home-school communication BEE books so that they can read them at home, and we keep the small coordinating printing books in our book boxes so that we can read them during Daily Five and bring them out for printing time.   This is one of my favorite purchases I've made lately.
The kiddos love this magic sand center.  One of my little ones uses it as a calming strategy.  If you haven't tried this out, it's so relaxing!
We were doing estimating this week, and then we counted the items using ten frames. 
How cute is this snowman chalk drawing my little girl made?  We only had snow for one or two days here this winter, so she has to make snowmen in a different way.  
And I just thought it was adorable how my son was engrossed in his Scholastic flyer while we were driving.  Rest assured, I wasn't in the driver's seat :)
Have a wonderful weekend!  I have one more week to go until Spring Break.  So exciting!!

Be sure to check out some more Five For Friday posts at the link-up at Doodle Bugs.