My First Linky Party

 Jeeze, I have no idea if I did this right but it looked like fun and I have A LONG bucket list for this summer:
 
#1: QUALITY TIME WITH BUBBA

I love this idea that I found on pinterest from:

 http://www.somewhatsimple.com/summer-schedule-for-kids/
Now that Bubs is a little bit older (he'll be 18 months in June!!!) I think he's ready for organized activities. We all know summer vacation goes too fast and I'd like to make the most of it with my little man. We have a zoo membership that I haven't activated and there are some classes I'd like to sign-up for at our local "natural" baby store. "Exploration in Rhythm" sounds right up Bubba's ally!

#2 TEACHERS PAY TEACHERS

I have so many great ideas swimming around in my head for things that I'd love to design for my classroom. I'm hoping that I'll be able to get a lot of them accomplished and loaded when I'm off this summer. I've had so much fun with my little TpT store!

#3 DONORS CHOOSE
As I've mentioned I work in a district which seems to always be struggling with budget issues and my school itself has a high poverty rate. Needless to say, I don't always get everything I need.  My leveled library is really struggling. Most of the books I purchased 10 years ago and I also have a bunch that have been hand me downs from retiring teachers that could be even older! Donors Choose has helped me in the past and I'm hoping I can be successful again. It's such a great service! I like to go on from time to time and donate a few dollars here and there to projects that catch my eye. 

#4 THIRD HONEYMOON

My husband and I will be celebrating 4 years of marriage this August and this past Valentine's he surprised me with a trip to the Mayan Riviera. We leave at the end of July for 10 days and I could not be more excited. We honeymooned the first time at Sandals Negril in Jamaica and decided then and there that we would try to go on tropical vacations as much as possible. In 2010 we went to the Mayan Riviera over Spring Break and came home with a pretty sweet little surprise... a positive pregnancy test! We loved it there so much and the prices are so reasonable that we're going again, just not to the same resort. As for a sweet surprise after this trip? Well, don't hold your breath. We're really enjoying Bubba at this stage.


#5 THE ADIRONDACKS
 
 My in-laws have a cottage  on 4th Lake and it has become one of my favorite places on earth. There is nothing more relaxing than crisp mountain air, crystal clear lakes, and campfires every evening!  I'm really excited about the trips we have planned this summer. Bubba was such a baby last summer and I just think he's going to have such a different experience this year. I can't wait to see him toddling around on the beach and riding on the boat. 
 
#6 THE LIVING ROOM
seriously, i need this now! 
My father built me the most beautiful window seat and bookshelves, very similar to this picture, for our living room. The room has sat basically empty for all 3 years that we've lived in our house! It's really embarrassing to admit that but I just never knew what to do with it! It's now become a "play room" for Bubba. This summer I have GOT to get it together. I've been "pinning" things like mad and now I just have to find a way to put all the pieces together...on a not-paid-in-the-summer teacher's budget! Ha, wish me luck. Here's a few things I love for the room:
charcoal espana rug 
Love this rug!
bright colors for the new window seat/built in 
Funky, brightly colored pillows are a MUST for the window seat.
 
love...everything! 
I love this couch, coffee table, and the woven window treatment. 
 
Clybourn Loft Armchair Smoke - Tan.Opens in a new window
 I love the look of this chair but I don't know if that pattern is exactly what I've got in mind...
So, as you can see, I've got my work cut out for me. I am determined to have SOMETHING in that room by Fall. We can never have more that a few people over at a time because we've got nowhere to sit!
 
#7 MY OFFICE
Right now I have the same desk I had in college and I sit on a folding chair with a blanket thrown over it. Considering the time I spend working at this desk, on my computer, it's about time for me to UPGRADE!  Don't you love how two of my summer projects include major $$$??!! My husband is going to kill me. :)
Office
Wishful thinking....

#8 CLASSROOM ORGANIZATION
Not to toot my own horn but my classroom is pretty organized. It HAS to be, it's on the smaller side and I CANNOT function in chaos. However, now that we've started this new curriculum and I'm approaching my 12th year of teaching (YIKES!!!), I feel a major PURGE coming on. I think it's time to go through every file in my cabinet, every bin, and every shelf and make  trash, keep, donate piles.  I get giddy just thinking about it. Catch me in the right mood and I will organize the heck out of things. I'm hoping some rainy day this summer I'll catch one of those moods, be able to find a baby sitter, and the building will be open. Will the stars align in my favor? :)

#9 FITNESS AND HEALTH
The count down is on.
Well, some could argue summer is already here. I used to be a total gym rat. I mean 5 times a week, sometimes 6. I went every day after work like it was my religion......Then I got pregnant and my priorities and available time changed, BIG TIME. Now, for anyone reading this who knows me, I am in no way saying I'm fat but I certainly have lost some of the tone and energy I used to have. I am determined to find both those things again this summer. Every morning, last summer, I popped Bubs in the jogging stroller and went down to the canal for a nearly 3 mile run. Now that he's older I'm not sure he'll fall asleep like he used to. He's a lot more active in the mornings. I'll have to find something that works. I just miss the "me" time and I miss the confidence I used to have, not only in my endurance for physical activity, but also in walking on the beach in a bikini. So here's to health and confidence this summer!

Well, there they are. All my summer goals! I don't think I'm being too ambitious.... hahahahahaha!!!


We are quickly approaching the end of our solar system unit and as a reward for all of my student's hard work, I devoted the entire morning on Friday to a craftivity. I just love that word. Whoever came up with it is genius. The kids had a lot of fun and I was pleased to find that they were able to keep themselves organized during this multi-step project..er, um, CRAFTIVITY. :) Here are the pictures of our final products.


Don't they look so cute hanging in the hallway?! Hopefully no naughties will come racing down and tear them off. Heads will roll. My little ones are SO proud of their finished products and can't wait until they can take them home to hang them in their bedrooms!
You can find all the pieces, tracers, and directions in my TpT unit : Solar System Fact Mobiles

In other news, two weeks ago it was Teacher Appreciation week and I got the best surprise ever!! I have been gently reminding my building principal of my need for a new classroom rug, my last rug was a birthday gift from my parents in 2004! Well, I walked into my room on Tuesday to find this:
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOWZERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Isn't it to die for?! It's from Lakeshore and seats 30 students! I couldn't be happier. I teared up a little bit. Things like this don't happen often in a district with as tight a budget as ours so I am beyond thankful. I'm going to be able to instruct lots of little minds in style! I'm already trying to decide how I can rearrange my room next year to get the most use out of it. This thing is HUGE!




Week 3 of our Space Unit is feeling more like week 2. Whew, we had testing last week, along with a spring concert and a CSE meeting. Our schedule was a little screwy and I ended the week feeling as if I didn't get through even half of what I'd planned. Don't you hate that?! Anyways, I'm determined to get back on track this week. We've only got 27 days left together and I'm feeling the "crunch". Last week we talked all about the features of Science Fiction and we read a bunch of different Science Fiction picture books. Oh my gosh, my kids loved hearing those stories.
These are a few of the books I read aloud and I'm already searching the internet for more. Do you have a favorite science fiction picture book?
Today we began writing our own science fiction pieces. We've been talking about how all of our stories are going to have the same "plot": We will be traveling to space and meet an alien. My students need to use their imaginations to determine the rest. What planet or moon will you be traveling to? Why are you going? What kind of alien will you meet? What will happen? How will you get home? etc, etc... Once again, even some of my most reluctant writers have really been surprising me with their effort. I know, I know, it's only day one. :) So today we discussed, for the 14 billionth time, how to describe a character- inside and out. I found these ADORABLE little "monster" stickers at the dollar store... I'm calling them aliens, of course. (Don't you just LOVE the Dollar Store?!) I let each student choose one and we got started using the web above to write describing words. The pictures below are completed webs from some of my struggling writers who meet with me on Mondays.
You can find the rubric, graphic organizer, and all the other writing tools needed in my Science Fiction Writing Unit on TpT. You can get the My Alien Web for free by clicking the picture above. :)

Well, we've launched ourselves into space. I thought I'd post about some of the things we did last week because we really had fun. It's nice to see all my planning paying off. :) We began the week by reading the letter from NASA and my kids bought it hook, line, and sinker. They were even more shocked when I handed out their official Space Journals . Finally, the last straw was the NASA badges. I was right, a few of them did almost poop themselves. hehe! Actually, they love their badges so much it's become sort of a problem! I had to make a bunch of rules about when it is appropriate to wear them, how to put them away...etc. Sheesh, at least they're having fun though, right? We studied about astronauts, the sun, and the moon, diligently filling out our graphic organizers in our space journals. It's so nice to see some of kids writing independently. I love the end of 1st grade! Here a few other things we did this week...
We made astronauts with paper plate helmets! Eventually these guys will hold our Science Fiction Writing piece but for now I had the kids do a quick fact report on one of the things we studied: the sun, the moon, or astronauts. They needed to use the tree chart organizers from their Space Journals to write 3 complete sentences. (The Space Journals can be found on my TpT site and here is a freebie Fact Report worksheet)
Here is a close up of the astronaut and quickie report:
The teacher in the classroom next to us found the coolest thing! It's a photo drop of an astronaut! The kids took pictures with it and they turned out AMAZING!! I have to ask her where she got it again because I NEED one! I'll update when I find out. :)
I mean, seriously? Could that be any cooler? 
Of course, we had to do the old favorite, the astronaut snack! I swear, I think I remember doing this when I was little. I had my kids write out the steps before I allowed them to make it. I know, I'm SO mean aren't i? :) Here's another freebie Astronaut Snack worksheet.
I promise, this activity looks scary but it was relatively mess free. Just scare the bejeesus out of them about zipping those bags tight! :)
Last but not least, I had to share this book with y'all. I've mentioned that along with our Space Unit, which I teach during Reader's Workshop, we are also beginning work on a Science Fiction writing piece. It's the last narrative piece in our writing portfolio for the year. Our curriculum is shifting over to be aligned with the common core. Which I think is great but it's also RIGOROUS!! Don't you just love that new buzz word? When I saw the lesson plans on our online curriculum I nearly spit my soda out. It's rigorous alright. I developed some worksheets, a sample story, a kid friendly rubric, and some writing tools for our unit.  I'm in the process of teaching it and I've already updated the unit once. If you happen to purchase it and can find anyway it could be improved I'd love to hear your feedback. Click the preview picture to link to my Science Fiction Narrative Writing Unit:
Alright, longest post ever but I just have to end with a little Teacher Appreciation! Ya know, this job can be so thankless at times. I know all teachers can relate to that. I just have to give a quick shout out to my teachers in the inner city. There are days I wonder why I do it and then I remember that for some of my children, I am the kindest, most reliable, trustworthy, and fair individual they know. I remember that when everything becomes a power struggle it's because they are testing those boundaries and HOPING to find them. I remember that I've got colleagues and administrators that have my back...I mean TRULY have my back. I remember that at the end of the day my kids want to come home with ME. I do it for them. This isn't a job, it's a passion. I hope you all have a great week. I hope a student or a parent or a colleague takes the time to thank you for all that you do. Children are our future, cheesy as it may sound, it's the truth.
PS.I totally missed the boat on the Teacherspayteachers.com appreciation sale. doh! Sorry about that. I'm going to go see if I can figure out how to throw my own sale right now! ha!
We're done! Animal Picture Book Reports are done!! My kiddos have worked so hard. I'm so proud. Here's some of their fabulous work.
I found the idea for these adorable little animal researchers on pinterest. They're made with toilet paper rolls for binoculars! So stinkin' cute!
 Here's a close-up.
 These are the pages from one of my student's completed Animal Picture Book Report.
 
It is a long process, from start to finish, for some of my little ones. We begin with each child picking their animal. I have about 30 books to choose from so it becomes quite an event, deciding which animal they want to become experts on. We discuss all the features of a non-fiction book, AGAIN! :) We also talk about what it takes to be a good researcher. You have to be patient, observant, thirsty for knowledge, you need to stay on task...etc.   Then they take notes on a note recording sheet. I meet with a writing group every day and I help to facilitate this, but as you'll see in the rubric, I really do encourage them to do a lot independently. Even my non-readers did a nice job taking notes just from observing the pictures! Then they turn their notes into sentences on the graphic organizer. I help them do all of their editing and we also determine their "technical words" on the graphic organizer.  Finally, they create their final picture book report. I’ve never seen some of my kids work so hard! They are so proud of their final products and so am I! You can find all the graphic organizers, final copy pages, and the rubric in my Animal Picture Book Report unit in my TpT store. Please leave feedback! I'm always looking for ways to improve!
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