Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Last year, I decided to make my CAFE menu spell out FACE, and I referred to it as the FACE of a reader...

I decided to change it up a bit this year, my sweet sister-in-law gave me a little help with the design...Not the greatest picture, but you get the idea...

After I printed these out, I just put a glitter letter in the circle to make the acronym. I used one of my favorite Kevin and Amanda fonts. When I taught second, I always wanted everything to have super clear print for the kids to read, but now that I'm with older kids it isn't quite as big of a deal...Plus, my kids have seen the CAFE menu for a couple years now. I'm really pleased with how it turned out!

CAFE Template

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Lunch Count Basket

So, this year, I have made the jump from having a class size of about 17-20 to having 26...Huge difference. My room is a bit smaller than before. No complaints, just facts. Instead of complaining I have just had to get more creative! I am working to use any organization or management trick I can find to make our day run as smoothly as possible. So here is one little thing that is working well for us...

Some lovely teachers on my hall have been using this idea for a few years to do the lunch count and take attendance. (Thanks Mrs. J & Mrs. S) It could not have been any easier or cheaper to make!

The lunch menu and daily choices are posted. Then, the students can just clip their numbered clothespin to the choices which are on all sides of the basket...

The black basket has a form for my "Lunch Counter" to fill out. It tells me how many orders to make and the names of any students who are absent, based on who did not put their clip up that day. They leave it on my desk making it very quick for me to put in the computer. (I LOVE not having to go count it all myself...the older students are wonderful at doing things like this as well as other class jobs!)

Something small like this works great for me because it doesn't take up any bulletin board/wall space. So, any other tips or tricks for organization/management of big groups with limited space?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Where it All Goes Down!

Today's Blog Hoppin' topic has everyone linking up with pictures of their classrooms! I am having SO much fun looking at everyone's wonderful rooms. (I apologize for the fact that these are Iphone pics. I took pictures on my camera today, but I left the cord at school.)

When you first walk in the door...I start out with pretty blank walls, but they will soon be filled up with anchor charts, etc!

I have to have plenty of tables to seat my 26 kids, so it takes up TONS of space. But, it isn't as crowded as it looks in this picture.

CAFE Literacy, Vocabulary wall, and Beth Newingham's Genre Posters.

Reading rug and half of the class library. I keep the novels here...

Smartboard, reading rug, etc...

When I get my cord I have some better close-ups of certain details, etc. Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Teacher Talk Tuesday

Once again, I'm linking up with Blog Hoppin'! Today's topic is advice for first year teachers. I'm only in my third year, so I am no veteran. I've already read a few posts that have linked up, and they have fantastic advice! Most of these blog posts have said everything I would say. So I will leave you with just a few thoughts that I have not seen on any of the posts I read.

1. An Apple a Day

During my very first week of teaching, I caught a virus and ran a fever for 24 hours. I did not EVER catch any illness the rest of the year. It just so happens that I ate an apple every school day that year. Maybe it was the apples? Maybe not? Although apples probably aren't the magic safeguard against illness, I'm sure eating good foods helps keep you healthy!

2. Make Friends with Your Non-teaching Staff Members.

Be kind to everyone on your campus, because EVERYONE plays an important role.

Get to know your technology liason/teacher, etc. They are a WONDERFUL resource, and you will definitely need them for help and support during the year.

The secretaries do SO much for the campus, too. Don't forget to thank them!

The custodial staff is SO IMPORTANT, and you will need them! Often when you need them, you need them very urgently whether it be to clean vomit, replace a light-bulb or install a new pencil sharpener. Our jobs as teachers are challenging, but we get the pleasure of receiving hugs, thanks and love from our little kiddos. Our custodians, secretaties, etc do not always get this daily, and their jobs are important, too. The school wouldn't run without them.

3.Take this Quote into Consideration...

(You've probably heard this quote. I love it.)

"I’ve come to a frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or dehumanized."
— Haim G. Ginott

Best wishes everyone!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Meet the Teacher Monday!

I am SO excited about Teacher week on Blog Hoppin'!!

So here I go with "Meet the Teacher Monday"

Tell us a little something about you...

I took piano for several years in grade school and took private piano lessons for a couple semesters in college. I'm not ultra-talented or anything, but surprisingly, I haven't lost too much and I still play regularly. I especially LOVE playing hymns (in the privacy of my home! :)). Although, sometime this year I really want to bring my keyboard to school and play for the kids.

How long have you been teaching?

I graduated from Abilene Christian University in December of 2008. I substitute taught in my desired district during the spring semester and landed a job for the next fall. My school has a transient population which has caused me to move grades due to enrollment. My first year I taught 3rd, my second year I taught 2nd and this year I am in fifth! I'm excited about my 3rd year of teaching!

You might not know...

In undergrad, I never thought anything about working with English Language Learners. I didn't know much, and had never even given it a second thought. My first year about half of my class were ELLs. My heart really went out to them because they were trying so hard to learn the content while having to learn language simultaneously. It takes them SO much focus and energy! Now here I am, just a semester away from having my Master's in Reading/ESL Education, and I am so passionate about working with these kiddos. I hope to blog more about this topic!

What are you looking most forward to this school year?

While a new grade-level is intimidating, I am very excited for the new challenges ahead. This will keep me on my toes, and be a great experience. Also, I am now teaching the students I had in 3rd grade during my first year. I am SO excited to have this bunch of kids again! I can't believe how much they've grown both physically and academically

What do you need to improve?

Ohmystars. Everything. I'm learning how to manage and instruct a new grade-level, so I have so much room for growth. Mainly, I need to improve in my management and discipline of older students. Also, I am having to really learn how to adapt Daily 5 to fit with fifth grade.

What teaching supplies can you not live without?


Lilly Market Bags...used to transport props and miscellaneous items from home to school...

And of course, PLENTY of storage containers of all shapes and sizes!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Primary Literature Based Smartboard Lessons

Here are just a few of the many wonderful Smartboard lessons out there that provide great extension activities for particular children's books. Click on the book titles and it will take you to the preview of the program on Smart Exchange.

This program based on, If you Give a Pig a Party, has very basic activities. It would be great for introducing students to the Smartboard.

This program is entitled "Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett," and it includes a great sequencing activity plus selections from the text.

There are a few programs that extend from The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

This great program over The Foot Book includes sorting exercises, an opposite search, and much more. Very cute.

The Legend of the Bluebonnet is one of my favorite stories to use in the classroom! More on this book in a few weeks..

Another Eric Carle Classic...A House for Hermit Crab

Monday, August 15, 2011

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I ♥ Cardigans

Here is a post just for fun!! I LOVE cardigans, hence my blog name. I bet you love them too! It is still HOT where I live, which means it can get a little bit chilly inside. (A good problem to have.) So, no matter what the season may be, I always need good cardigans. I have many favorite brands, however I narrowed it down to my four favorites. For various reasons, here are my favorite teacher-tested cardigans, from high-to-low prices...

Lilly Pulitzer's Paley Cardigan

Isn't this lovely? The Paley cardigan always comes in a slew of great prints. It comes in solid colors too, but the bright patterns are great for days when you are using glitter! It kinda just goes with it! But because of the price, I don't wear these cardigans if I am using paint :) The sleeves are a little bit long on this cardigan, however I am 4'11" with short limbs, so this really isn't Lilly's fault.

Ann Taylor Loft's Dollman

The V-Neck and flattering cut makes this one of my favorites. I wear it ALL the time because you can wear it over any blouse. It can easily be dressed up or down.

Old Navy's V-Neck Cardigan

This V-Neck is a bit more casual, and it is very comfortable. I don't care to spend tons on clothes that end up with sequins glued to them at the end of the day, so I appreciate great prices for teacher-clothes.

Target's Merona Essential Cardigan

Of course, you can't forget the ever-faithful Target! I always find these cardigans on the sale rack for as low as $9.00! Like I said, sometimes you don't want to pay much for your school clothes. Teaching gets pretty messy sometimes! I love how light-weight this cardigan feels.

Happy Back to School Shopping, teacher friends!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Easy Class Library Labels

Today I made these simple labels for the baskets in my class library.

I started with clear address labels...

I downloaded cute fonts like this one for free at Kevin and Amanda. Then I printed the titles/genres onto the address labels.

I stuck them onto pieces of cute scrapbook paper.

After I cut them out, I attached them to strips of glittered cardstock. (This was half off at Hobby Lobby today, along with all the pads of scrapbooking paper!)

I love these, and I cannot wait to put these on my book baskets!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Oh Boy Fourth Grade is having a cute linky party entitled "Currently I am..." Here it goes...

Currently I am...

I am listening to "Dance Moms" on Lifetime...Just being honest :)...

my freshly painted kitchen cabinets!!! (they used to be dark wood) Also loving that my husband and I did it ourselves which saved a good bit of money!

about all the inspiration ideas I have found on pinterest! I'm trying to decide on some kitchen decor!

This dress.

to finish unpacking my new classroom. Everything will be in place by tomorrow!

Stalking ...

4th Grade Frolics

Synder Stories
These Happy Miles

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Daily 5 + Smartboard = Love

I have already posted about some of my favorite Smartboard programs, but for this post I wanted to focus on Smartboard programs for students to do independently during the Daily 5. Typically I partnered students up so that each pair had 2 Daily 5 Rotations per week to use programs. Sometimes I created my own programs, but often I found that what I needed was already out there in the Smart Exchange.

**At first I was worried about the other students being distracted by students on the board, but after a week or so, it was not a problem!

I have put the exact names and pictures of the program. You can look them all up on The Smart Exchange. Here are my favs:

For Primary Grades:


Long O Word Sort:

(There are many more programs in this format with all the vowels.)

Plural Nouns:

Rhyming Activities:

Vowel Sort:

For Intermediate Grades:

Grade 3 Main Idea: (Really makes the practice more engaging :))

Guide Words: (could be for primary grades, too)

Incredible Inferences:

Parts of Speech Sort:


All of these could be used for various grades depending on the skill-level of the students you are working with! I love how Daily 5 allows for differentiating like this. Have you found any great programs to use during Daily 5?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Lunch Box Fun!

The district I work for has decided that we are no longer allowed to have personal refrigerators, because it makes for higher electricity bills. Not a big deal, but it does mean that I needed a new, cute lunch box to put in the fridge that we will all share! Thankfully it is insulated, in case it never makes it to the fridge!

I bought this one from Vera Bradley and I love it! I really like the front pocket and of course the lovely print!

I had not seen Mixed Bag Designs until today, or else I might have looked there for a lunch box! Anyhoo, I feel like a kid excited to buy things for back to school time. I love this time of year!

Finally in First's Giveaway!

Mrs. Bates at Finally in First is hosting an awesome giveaway. She is giving away 4 prize packages from Mixed Bag Designs! I had never seen these products before, so I am very glad she posted about them. The shopping totes and reusable grocery bags are super cute, and all of it is reasonably priced! Check it out!