Game Time: MOBI

Hey there!

I love games! When I see a new game that I think my students and my own kids would love I buy it! This game was an easy purchase because it is all about manipulating numbers and my oldest is obsessed with math. I wish I grew up with a love for math like him.

The game... 

The game is called MOBI. It is a lot like Bananagrams, except it is with numbers. There are blue number tiles and white operation tiles. Kids will draw 5-7 number tiles depending on how many players there are. They have access to all the operation tiles. (Click on the image to check out on Amazon)

The skill

Kids will be working on their number sense skills and computational fluency forming different number sentences using addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. You can remove multiplication and division for a simpler game.

Why I love it... 

I love this game because it is so differentiated naturally. Kids can do as simple or as complex of a number sentence as they can handle. I always leave all operation tile options out because it allows for that challenge component. If students don't use them, no worries! Finally, this game makes for an easy prep center to have a parent volunteer run. I typed up simple directions  and game basics for volunteers and to have displayed when it is used as an in-class center.


I made a fun activity to extend the learning where kiddos record 4 number sentences they used, 2 of their most challenging number sentences and get to create their own new puzzle! Just click on the image and you can check it out in my store for FREE!

Have fun!!

Welcome Winter Newsletter

Well I have no idea where December went! We are officially almost into the new year and I am excited to see what 2019 brings!

My life outside teaching

(Yeah, that really exists lol)

Winter break has been pretty great. Our school got out the Friday before Christmas. I thought it would be way too rushed, but I got all my stuff done and now we have this excess time after the holiday to spend relaxing and hanging out! We are looking forward to spending a little more time at our cabin in Leavenworth (an adorable Bavarian style village in Washington). We got an amazing Christmas gift from friends for a sleigh ride and snowmobile tour and we cannot wait to go this week!! We did manage to visit the adorable Reindeer Farm before the holiday though. I even had a chance to teach the boys how to make my grandma's Christmas candies. (The key to sanity in my house is keeping these boys busy..or mom tears. LOL)
I have also decided that my life theme for 2019 will be BALANCE… 
So, here’s to hoping we go on more random adventures, see friends more often and hey maybe I will even sleep more (ha)!

What have I been working on?

I am pretty excited about all the treasures I have been working on! Early in December I posted my “How to Catch a  Snowman” STEM and book companion activities. We did the STEM activities with our big buddies and it was one of my favorite teaching days ever. The kids had a blast. 

So I decided to create a similar unit called,
“How to Catch a Leprechaun” to do this spring. You can check out both units in my store by clicking the product covers. 

Classroom update

I have to say that even though the kids, to put it nicely are a bit “off”, I absolutely love teaching in December. I stop teaching the exact district curriculum and supplement with my creations and other great teacher author’s work. Of course everything is aligned and my kids are doing what I love to call “disguised learning”
I am absolutely in love with gingerbread books so we compare and contrast, sequence and analyze story elements with a variety of stories. 

I use Megan Mitchell’s from First Grade Roars amazing “Gingerbread Unit” to help with all these pieces.

We also so much fun doing gingerbread math, science, reader’s theatre and writing! Using my Gingerbread Fun Pack and Gingerbread Narrative Unit! The kids loved creating their own version of the gingerbread man story. They get so creative. I even picked up one of those GINORMOUS cardboard gingerbread houses for the kids to decorate. We used it as a prop for the reader’s theatre and they could earn time, for on task behavior, to work or read inside of it with a friend! BONUS!

Connect with me & a FREEBIE!

I love to stay connected beyond the blog with fun teaching tips, FREEBIES (only for subscribers) and the occasional parenting/teacher blunder HA! This month I created these fun and super helpful STEM posters. I made them in B&W, color and with and without guiding questions. They are perfect posters to display in the classroom as you head through the STEM process. 11 posters 4 different options is yours for FREE when you subscribe!

Just Click the Image Below for your FREEBIE!

I hope you have a great rest of your break and 
cheers to 2019! 

Back to School Rules

Hey there,

As we get ready to head back to school I of course start thinking about that first week. What can I do differently, what worked last year, how can I spice it up, etc. One activity that always makes the schedule of course is to create our classroom rules or expectations. I typically read aloud a story all about rules like "No David" or "Officer Buckle and Gloria" they all focus on the no.  So our great list making conversations always end up with a lot of "Don'ts." 

Over the years I have not only shortened up our list, but tried to make a point of positivity in our rules. I just got tired of listing all the things that they couldn't do, I am so tired of "no" ha.. maybe I say it too much at home I guess. LOL

So. this year I decided to give my kiddos some more in-depth work on rephrasing our statements from negative to positive. We will be focusing on what we can do while implying the can't do.

I discovered a fun book at my last library visit with the boys. It was called "Back-to School Rules" by Laurie Friedman. If you have read it you are probably thinking, well it is FULL of don'ts. Well you are right it is... the perfect book to practice on. I also LOVE that is it full of silly don'ts, for example, "don't slither on the floor" or "don't whistle, burp or bite." You and I both know those do come up at the carpet and we have to pause and "mini lesson it up" on what common sense means. This books helps to get some of those silly, crazy rules out of their system at the appropriate time and helps to not detour the good conversation following the story.

I chose a handful of negatively toned rules from the story and made "I can" rules that featured the same outcome, but in a more positive light. I then created  mini posters for sorting whole group or in small group. I also created a few activities that allows them to practice rephrasing, making up their own "I cans" and then a fun craft to present them. I also made a few comprehension activities to introduce author's purpose and review main idea, setting and supporting details.

Click here to check it out in my store!

I really love creating my classroom expectations with my students. If you haven't already started doing that, I would definitely recommend trying. There is so much more buy in and they truly do have great ideas, even if the occasional "don't cut your hair" or "swing from the lights" does come up as suggestions. Ha! 

Typically my list ends up something like this: 

We can try our best and work hard. 
We can be kind to others. 
We can be good listeners to others. 
We can make safe choices.
We can have fun. 

Of course each year has variations, but usually very similar. If my kids keep coming up with lists like this it feels like a win to me. Cheers to another great upcoming year!


Compassion in Action

Hey there Friends!

My school community has always done a good job of promoting outreach projects, but to ensure that kids are really taking away all that they can we need to provide more deliberate instruction on what it means to be compassionate and the impact that just one person can have.

I have always loved doing community service projects within my room such as food drives, various clothing drives and a favorite of mine, the craft kits for our local children hospital. Many of these units in my room have been inspired by school fundraisers, but not until I took the time to deepen my student's understanding did they feel compelled to fully participate.

When children realize that you believe that they can make a difference, their ideas are so priceless and incredibly kind. They just want to do it all. There is nothing like the innocent, raw compassion of a child. We all know that.

I decided to take my compassion projects to another level by finding literature to better provide my students with an understanding of the issue/problem we were focusing on. I also created shared reading activities and fun extensions with science, art and when applicable math. In the unit there are additional resources to extend learning and fundraising ideas as well.

My first unit is focused on water conservation inspired by the book "The Water Princess" by Susan Verde. The story is about a young child in Africa, who walks for miles each day to retrieve water alongside the other girls and women of her village. After I initially read the story I found out that it was inspired by the childhood of super model Georgie Badiel. Georgie partnered with the author Susan Verde to bring awareness to this struggle and inspire people to contribute to her foundation that helps to provide access to clean drinking water and sanitation for the people of Burkina Faso.


I was so inspired by this that I decided to donate 50% off all sales of this unit to her foundation. 

I also added the realistic fiction story "Why Should I save Water" by Jen Green. This story shows kids real life changes that they can make in their everyday lives to help conserve water. Through small actions they can make big impacts.

After each of the read aloud books I created different comprehension activities to work through with my kiddos. Author's purpose, schema, sorting and text evidence are a few of the highlighted skills. Once kids have a deeper understanding of the text we explore further with the water cycle showing how long it takes for wasted water to make it back through the cycle into a useable resource. My favorite part of this unit is the extensions into our greater community such as fundraising to help build wells in less fortunate areas of the world or walking a mile or two to help my kids take a glimpse into what some women and children do each day to find water. 

Check out this unit in my store by clicking on any of the images below. 

I hope this inspires you and your kiddos!

kina Fas

Hey there, 

I don't know about you but I have always had one main rule in my classroom and it is to be kind to others. Even more so now do I want to make sure my students understand not only to be kind, but why and how we can be kind to others. We have a decent social skills curriculum in our district, but I wanted to be even more intentional with the teaching of kindness and compassion. So I did some digging and found a few great books that spoke to kindness and what it means to be kind. 

These are the books I started with...
 "Do Unto Otters"  

After reading “What does it Mean to Be Kind?” We brainstormed what types of things we could do to show kindness. As well as what it doesn't mean.

Later, I did another mini-lesson on each of the 3 focuses of compliments, empathy and gestures

My kids did so great with the activities I created and the discussion was so great I decided to take it further in action based kindness.
 I introduced the compliment bags to my students. I passed out compliment sheets to each student so they would have enough to write a compliment for everyone in the class. We also talked about what a meaningful compliment sounds like and feels like. I also provided compliment starters for my kids that might be stumped. My kids wrote 2 compliments each day to their classmates. You can spread this out however you would like. My kids were begging me to write more and wouldn’t let a day pass where we didn’t write compliments. I wouldn't let me kids open the compliments until the last day, this is also a choice you can make. I just wanted to make sure that each kid had the same amount when opening. 

These beginning activities inspired me to keep explicitly teaching kindness through various texts and other activities. I even made my kiddos inspirational bookmarks with words of compassion and kindness quotes from famous people. They love them!

My kids have loved it and so have I. It is absolutely one of the more powerful things I have done in my room. Next we will be making our kindness pledges to display for all to see and hopefully inspiring others. 

If you want to check out the activities I did you can visit my store by clicking the images below. There is also a kindness FREEBIE! 


I hope that it has the same impact on your kiddos and classroom. 

Kindness starts with you.

Mapping Fun!

Hey there! 

So last week we started our unit on mapping and landforms. Our social studies curriculum is unfortunately rather bland and leaves little hands on practice for our kiddos. So reviewed all the main components that my nuggets were expected to know by the end of the unit and I created some interactive games and activities to help reinforce all the necessary mapping skills they would need.

Next, I went into town and found a variety of different city maps. The local train, bus station or city center are great spots to pick up maps. You can also go online and search your city for walking maps.

After I had all my maps ( I looked like a crazy tourist by the way) I put my students in groups of 2. I gave each group one map and they each got their own mapping activity.

The kids worked together to find specific things on the map. At the end we shared out what we found and the landmarks they would want to visit and why. (They loved that part)

I HIGHLY suggest getting actual maps, the kids felt so grown up and really enjoyed the activity. Many of them had never looked at a real paper map before.

The next day I had the kids design their own maps of make believe cities. I passed back out the maps from the previous day to give them some ideas on what they should add. I also included a dream bedroom activity which they always love, but doesn’t include landforms of course.

After they completed their own imaginary place maps they got with partners to play “I’ll Race you There” or “That Be My Treasure” 
You  can purchase compass dice on Amazon:
I also created printable compass dice or spinner options.

I wanted to share one of the fun games I created as well as the compass spinner and dice. FREEBIE TIME:

I hope you have fun exploring with your kiddos!

If you want to check out the full product:

A Review of Stephanie Harvey's "Amplify Digital Teaching and Learning in the K-6 Classroom"

Inspired or Overwhelmed?

If you are anything like me, you see something new and inspiring and you instantly try to figure out how to incorporate that into your classroom. We all want to offer our students the best we can. Now in the age of social media, we can glimpse into thousands of classrooms every day. I don’t know about you but this can both be inspiring and downright overwhelming.
This spring our district was offering a series of book studies and I of course hopped in both! Reading a good professional development book can refresh you and leave you ready for action. July hit and I looked over at my stack of personal and PD books and decided to take Amplify: Digital Teaching and Learning in the K-6 Classroom by Katie Muhtaris and Kristin Ziemke with me on our first summer trip. Though I may have been looking forward to the quick summer read I also brought along, I decided to give Amplify a go.  I am so glad that I did.

You Don’t Have to Do It All, Even Though You’ll Want To!

I will let you know I consider myself to be pretty “tech savvy” and up to date on most educational trends. But, within each chapter I found new tools, approaches and activities. This is when I got out my favorite flare pens and started jotting down all the new approaches I was going to somehow incorporate into my classroom. I mean who wouldn’t want to set up a recording booth that allows readers of all levels to review the latest book they’ve read? And that was only Chapter One! As I read deeper into the text what I found was less of the “big ideas” and more on how I can make technology work in my classroom: ME… not my teammate, not the tech leader at the school, me. WOW, that was refreshing, what do you mean I don’t have to do it all?
So, this is what made this book different for me than many of the others I have read. The authors ask you to foster your own “growth mindset” and learn along with your students while simultaneously telling you not to do everything. …“just because we can do something innovative, doesn’t always mean we should.” Implementing technology into our classrooms is important, but we should do it in a way that is meaningful to our students and, frankly, to us. Within each chapter, Amplify reminds the reader of the importance of literacy, critical thinking and independence and how, within these foundations, we can incorporate technology.
Growing Your Technology Mindset
Each chapter has a focus that will support your growing development as a teacher and learner of technology. A few examples are “Developing a Mindset for Technology”, “Connecting Technology to Existing Classroom Practice” or “Foundational Lessons for Independence.” Each chapter provides multiple avenues to reach the goal set forth. Depending on your experience level, there is an option for you and an option to try something out of your comfort zone. Real-life stories and examples are shared as well as additional resources to take your learning further. At the end of each chapter are “three things to try tomorrow.” These were things we, yeah I said we, can do!
For example, in Chapter Two the reader is challenged to
  1. “Set aside thirty minutes a week for you to discover and play,
  2. Carve out classroom time for students to discover and play”
  3. Sign up for a conference, webinar or Edcamp.”
Overall, Amplify will leave you feeling inspired and confident to hit the ground running with ideas that resonate with you. Whether it’s implementing the various activities or trying different approaches to teaching and learning technology, you will walk away knowing yourself better as a learner, leading you towards the best next steps in your journey.

My First Amplification: Tech Troubleshooting Mini-Lesson

troubleshooting tips full size
One of the first items I am going to implement is a student-friendly resource for technology troubleshooting. If I can give my students tools they need to independently walk through basic issues, it can lead to more time in the actual program and an increase in their confidence. I plan to do a troubleshooting mini-lesson, review the different approaches to solving tech issues, and allow the kids to attempt each one. Front-loading this information will pay off for me. We have all been there: ten hands in the air and only one you or a kiddo who needs help at the tech center while you are leading a small group. Imagine how much further we could get in our lessons if students were empowered to independently take on basic fixes. You can get my printable resources for this mini-lesson free at Teachers Pay Teachers.