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Tasty Tuesday Giveaway!

Hey Friends! Denise here from Sunny Days in Second Grade.

A couple of years ago I stumbled upon a great idea on about cooking in the classroom. I decided to develop this idea a bit further to share with my team mates and then took it even further and turned it into a product I sell in my TpT store. 

Basically, we copy a recipe (no cooktop or oven necessary), we follow it, we eat it and we write about it. It's seriously yummy fun and a fantastic way to incorporate bunches of math, science and literacy skills. 

Stop by my blog to enter the easiest contest EVER {for real} for your chance to win a copy of the yearlong writing program to use with your class or entire grade level! (just click on the little baker bear!)

Click me!

The Essential 15

Hi There Blog Hoppin’ Friends,
It’s Hope King from Second Grade Shenanigans and I am thrilled to be one of the contributing authors here at Blog Hoppin’. This week, I am so excited about sharing how I work to build a classroom community with my students. Character education is such a BIG DEAL in my classroom and I am always looking for meaningful ways to really build a strong foundation of character in my students. So, here is one of my faves!
If you have ever stopped by to read my blog, you should know about my obsession with Ron Clark and the amazing principles that he has introduced with the Essential 55.  These principles are such wonderful lessons to really create a classroom atmosphere that thrives on the respect of others both inside and outside of the school. Each year, it is my hope that my students will not only become better little people during school hours but that the lessons that I teach and instill in them each day will follow them throughout their lives.  Last year was my very first year implementing several of Ron Clark’s Essentials after a visit to the Ron Clark Academy. Maybe it is just a coincidence BUT it was my BEST YEAR YET! My students were so compassionate and caring about one another and we became a tight knit classroom family all working towards finding success not only for ourselves but for one another. It was such a reward to watch my students function as such respectful members of our classroom, school and community. Yes…this year we are also becoming BUCKET FILLERS and I am so excited about implementing 15 of my favorite essentials right along with the fabulous bucket filling concept.  

In my classroom, I typically introduce one new essential each week. I make a big effort to positively reinforce my students when they are incorporating one of the essentials into their classroom behavior and attitude. I also allow my students to share about the ways that they are using these character building strategies outside of the classroom. I am telling you…their stories are truly amazing…even for seven and eight year olds. They will truly make your heart melt and put a smile on your face.  They have such a sense of pride when they know that they are working towards becoming the best people that they can be. If you too share in my love for “The Essentials”, you can click on the picture below to download my “Essential 15.” Enjoy and remember…DREAM BIG!

Don’t forget to keep on scrollin’ down to see some of the other amazing ideas that the other Blog Hoppin’ Authors have up their sleeves!  

bucket fillers

In my kindergarten class we are bucket fillers. My sweet little kinders grasped the concept easily and are very quick to let you know if you are being a bucket filler or dipper. Thank goodness we have had more bucket fillers than dippers. We started off by reading, Have you filled a bucket today? Then we made an anchor chart to help remind us what it means to be a bucket filler and a bucket dipper.

Who wouldn't want to be apart of a class where kids say nice things, give hugs, share, and, always have a smile on their face.

My kids are really getting the hang of filling a bucket. They have been sending the sweetest notes to each other. I only have a few writers, the rest just do invented spelling. One little boy can't read names yet so he keeps asking me, "Is this a girl bucket?" They are already sending love notes to each other. I think it is precious. I let them write notes whenever I am not instructing. Rest time is a perfect time. You can't see the bucket filler notes, but I got them and my sign from What the Teacher Wants.
How do you build a classroom community?


Soft and hard words

This is ANOTHER way to show how words can hurt! I did this activity with my students today. I started by asking if anyone thought that words could hurt them. They all said "No!" So then I asked, "Okay, what if I said to you that I didn't like that pink stripe on your shoe or that I thought your hair looked nasty today? How would you feel? Did those words hurt you?" Of course, they all answered "Yes!" and that began our discussion of how words can hurt us even if they don't give us a bruise or a cut that we can see. I divided chart paper into two parts and labeled one side "soft words" and the other side "hard words". We brainstormed what soft words would be. Words like "I like you. Let's talk about it. Please may I play with you?" are soft words. Then we brainstormed what hard words would be. Words like "No, you can't play! I don't like you! Give me that!" are hard words. I wrote the words on chart paper in the proper columns. After brainstorming hard and soft words, I opened up a can of NEW play dough and set it on a plate. I showed the children a rock and a cotton ball. The cotton ball represented soft words and the rock represented hard words. I said one of the words (or phrases) that we had brainstormed and asked if it was a hard word or a soft word. If it was a soft word, I asked a student to touch the play dough with the cotton ball. Did it change? No, not really... Soft words make us feel special! (After I did this activity, I thought wouldn't it be fun if we attached the cotton balls somehow to the play dough and discussed how soft words make us look beautiful?!) If it was a hard word, I asked a child to touch it with the rock. Did it change this time? Yes! The rock made a dent! What does that mean? We continued until all our words were used up. Then we looked at our play dough. Did it look the same? No, it didn't. It had dents and bruises in it. And even when we tried to repair it, we couldn't get it to look the same again. Hard words DO hurt and they cause a person to hurt and it is hard for them to get back to their same person. All day today I heard my students saying things like "That was a hard thing you said to me. They made me feel bad." or "Those soft words made me feel happy!" We discussed how it was alright to be angry at someone, but it was important to use SOFT words when you were settling a problem. For example: "I don't like that you took that toy from me. Let's figure out a way that we can both be happy and play with it" are soft ways to settle problems. This is a great opener for beginning problem solving skills!
Happy teaching everyone! Cindy (KinderKay)

The Power of a Bandaid!

Hey friends!
Denise here from Sunny Days in Second Grade. I'm so beyond crazy excited to be a Blog Hoppin author! The group of teacher authors and bloggers here is one I have tremendous admiration for and I am just tickled pink to be part of this group!

I'm just going to jump right in with a great way to build classroom community. I can not take credit for this idea. I first saw in on Pinterest (totally addicted!) and when I followed the link I came across Saylor's Log, a blog bursting with awesomeness. I have had a saying for a long time that I use with my class: Fair doesn't mean that everyone gets the same thing, fair means that everyone gets what they need. I'm sure I saw it on an overpriced poster that I refused to buy from the teacher store, but the saying itself stuck with me. So when I read about this activity from Saylor's Log, it fit perfectly. We did it today in class and I have to say, it was a very powerful teaching moment.

I gathered the kids on the carpet (don't all the best lessons happen there?). Then I told them to think about a time they were hurt. Of course they all wanted to tell me every little detail of every injury they've ever endured in their seven little years. This was actually causing my head to hurt, but we pressed on. After I let a few share, I asked them all to close their eyes and imagine that something was hurting them right now. They had serious concentration faces on during this part.

Then I had them come up a few at a time, making sure the rest could hear and see the action. When each student approached I asked them where they were hurt. No matter what they said to me, I put a bandaid on the back of their hand. I had a few kids mumbling and whispering and one little girl was just not havin' it. She kept asking her friends, "Why does she keep putting it on the same spot?" and "That's not where she said it hurt!". She was so bothered by what I was doing, but it was perfect to make my point, so I let her go on.

I put 16 bandaids on 16 hands and when my 17th student came up for his, I just told him I was sorry, but I didn't have any for him. He looked a little bummed, but went back to the carpet bandaid-less. I asked the kids if the bandaid made anyone feel better or if I put it on the right spot. Of course no hands raised. Then I asked them if a bandaid would even help if you had a sprained ankle or headache - of course they all said no. So then I launched into a kid friendly discussion of differentiation. I told them that not everyone in our class has the same needs, so not everyone will get to do the same things all the time. We talked about times when I might work with a small group, it's just because they needed a bandaid at that particular moment, but maybe they didn't. I assured them that at some time in the year, everyone would need a bandaid for something. We talked about kids who leave the room for special services and how they need a particular bandaid that another teacher gives them. I finally hit the point home when I said, if one student needs a little extra math practice, does that mean we ALL need extra practice? Of course, they said noooo (in only the way a group of 7 year olds can drag out a one word response...)

I also added in how our last student didn't get a bandaid at all! When I asked him how he felt, he said he felt left out and confused.  I told the group that never getting a bandaid was even worse and that's why when I'm with a student or small group they can't interrupt because it's the same as taking away their bandaid.

I have to say, it was a goose bump inducing lesson. The visual of the bandaid and the real life, kid level examples really made an impact on them. They proudly wore their bandaids around all day, until recess when our Dollar Tree bandaids were no match for the Florida humidity.

If you try it, I'd love to hear how it goes. And in the meantime, check out this great free poster that I found on Pinterest ( I warned you...I really am addicted). It might help spur some more great class conversation.
Click on the picture to snag a copy for yourself!

See ya on the Sunny Side!

Our Classroom Promise: Building a Community of Learners

At the beginning of every school year, I send welcome letters out to my incoming students. I want them to feel comfortable on day one, and I also want them to be excited about what’s ahead. The other reason I send home letters is because I want them to begin thinking about what they want their classroom to look and feel like on day one. I stress, year after year, that our classroom belongs to each of us. It is not just my classroom. It is ours. Each person in Room 306 assumes ownership and the responsibilities that come along with it. We become a community. We become learners. We become family. To facilitate the closeness I hope to achieve every school year, we begin by articulating our own classroom rules.

As we discuss the expectations we have for the school year, we also discuss the actions that could hold us back from reaching the goals we set. We compile an anchor chart of the rules we feel would be important to follow in order to have a successful year. These are eventually pruned down to encompass only a few umbrella rules. However, because we spent time spelling them out (so to speak), the students are more likely to understand the specific actions that would fit under each umbrella rule. They are also more likely to follow the rules, not only because we put in the time to discuss the specifics, but also because they helped make them. The rules weren’t done to them. They made the rules. They operate within a democratic community in Room 306... now room 13. In a sense, it’s a classroom for the students, by the students.
After the rules are discussed, recorded on an anchor chart, and pruned down to 5-6 core rules, I take their original list and consider our conversation. I also think about the goals and expectations that I have as a teacher. I combine all of these ideas and concepts and create a “Classroom Promise” banner. I write down each rule and expectation in paragraph form, and it becomes our class mission statement for the school year. Once it is written out, I read it to the students and they ultimately have the final say. They let me know if it needs revised, or if it fits the goals we have for ourselves in Room 306. Once it is ready for the world and the students are satisfied, each child signs the “Classroom Promise” and it becomes a binding contract. (We tae time to discuss how our promise is similar to the Constitution to tie it to the real world and build Social Studies background.)  The banner is hung in the hallway for everyone to see, and the students create self-portraits that are displayed around it. Our hope is that we can set a good example for other classes while cultivating friendships, engaging in learning, and being good citizens.
 In addition to the banner, I am constantly trying to find ways to strengthen our school family.  We spend some time reading "Have You Filled a Bucket Today?" and learning about the Bucket Filler philosophy.  We read books like "Dear Mr. Falker" by Patricia Polacco to illustrate why we shouldn't be bucket dippers, and we begin to write out happy notes for our bucket filling friends.  :)   This system is in addition to our school behavior wheels, and I love it because it rewards positive behavior!

If you're looking for an idea to make your room cozier and to cultivate that family feeling, display a few picture frames.  I picked up six picture frames at Target last summer, and I love them!  I place them around the classroom, and I leave them blank for the first few weeks of school.  As we begin to learn together and work together, I take photographs that are displayed in the frames.  I always take group photographs, and the kids LOVE looking at pictures of their friends!  I love how it makes the classroom seem like it's ours and not just mine. 

Two of my blank frames with textured cardboard.  I can't wait to fill them with pictures!

Please take a moment to scroll down through the older posts for more ways to build a community of learners in your classroom!  Thanks for stopping by!

Creating a Classroom Community

This week will be focusing on ways to help you create a Classroom Community where learners grow both academically and socially.  We hope to share ideas and activities with you that will help you create an environment where learners feel free to take risk and partnerships are fostered.  If you have ideas you'd love to share, please leave a comment.  Be sure to check back often...other blog hoppin' authors will be hoppin' in to share their ideas on this topic with you. 

Do you remember the old saying, "Sticks and stones my break my bones, but words will never hurt me." ?
Well we all know that is not true!  Sometimes words can hurt far worse than a punch or a kick because words can continue to sting long after they are inflicted.  This is a great lesson to demonstrate the power of hurtful words.  To do this lesson you will need two hearts. 
One should say, Use Kind Words and the other one should say Words Can Hurt. 
 Before I begin the lesson I read,  Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes.  This story illustrates the power of words so well!    After reading the story I show the students my heart that says Use Kind Words and ask them to help me think of some words that are kind.  As they come up with words I add them to the heart.  We do the same thing with the Words Can Hurt heart.  After we have charted the words we talk about how words can hurt us.  Then, I go back to the page in the book where it describes how Chrysanthemum felt (she wilted).  We talk about how she felt and why she felt that way.  Did her friends hit her or push her?  No.  They hurt her with their words.  Hold up the words can hurt heart and as you say each hurtful word that they listed fold the heart.   After you have said all of the words ask them what they notice. Then ask, "What kind of words could we say to help someone we've hurt?'  As they give you words, such as "I'm sorry, I didn't mean it" you will unfold the heart.  Show them that even though they said words to try to make it better the heart still has wrinkles.  Remind them that they should always think before they speak and use kind words so that they won't cause a wrinkle on their friend's heart. 

TGIF: Free for All Friday!

Hi friends!  It's Amanda from One Extra Degree!  I am really excited about our Friday post, because, let's face it, everyone loves freebies!  If you've been following my blog for a while, you probably already know that I use a lot of clip art from Scrappin' Doodles.  LOVE THEM!  We want you to know that their TOU {Terms of Use} have changed recently, and at the risk of sounding preachy, while there are still ways to share free resources, there are a few guidelines to consider.  Here they are...  in their own words:

Here are the Terms for freebie educational printables using Scrappin' Doodles clip art:
-The item you are posting for free MUST be educational.
- The item must be created by you and made into a secured PDF document.
- You may not take and share any one else's freebies, this is strictly forbidden.
- The item you are posting for FREE can ONLY be posted for free on YOUR OWN blog or website and your blog or website must be educational / teaching.
- You may NOT post anything for free on Teachers Pay Teachers or any other website or GROUP that you are not the sole owner and poster of, NO EXCEPTIONS.
- You  may only use my Scrappin Doodles artwork, both Cheryl Seslar and Alice Smith do not allow sharing of any printables and their artwork may not be used.
- Credit MUST be given back to Scrappin Doodles in a clickable link in the description of the item.
- You MUST purchase our $15.00 license and post it on your blog or website linking back to Scrappin Doodles. This button will have a unique number exclusive to you (I will customize a button unique for your blog or website) and it is valid for only 1 website or blog that you are the sole owner. If you own more then one website or blog you will need to purchase a button for each one. I am doing this so I can keep track of my graphics and make sure everyone is following our TOU. Please read the Terms in the listing for the button found HERE.
All our other TOU posted on our website still apply:

Since this is not my own individual blog, and since I have not purchased the $15.00 license yet, I will not be sharing any resources using Scrappin' Doodles clip art at this time.  I do, however, highly endorse that website & the clip art!  Can we say AMAZING?!

DJ Inkers still ONLY permits the sharing of free {not commercial} items, so I'm going to go that route with a little Fonts for Peas thrown in there until I can get a handle on the clip art situation.  PLEASE be careful as you share your creativity and your freebies.  If you are linking up, please take the time to read the TOUs for your clip art sites to ensure that you aren't breaking any rules.  Always double check to see if you need a commercial license or need to link back to the website before posting.  :)  At this point in time, we all need to stick together and help each other out!  If you have any news on any more TOU changes, please let us know!

On behalf of all of the authors at Blog Hoppin', THANK YOU for participating in Teacher Week to help us kick off a fabulous new school-year {and blog}.  :) 

Now it's your turn to link up with all of your fabulous freebies below!  Have a "hoppy" weekend! 

word map

Characters Change

Three for Thursday!

Hey sweet friends!! It's Cara from The First Grade Parade and I'm here for a little "three-for" action. Today's party is here to entertain you with THREE favorites...your favorite font, favorite blog, and favorite online resource. If y'all are anything like me, then EVERYTHING is probably your favorite ;) is the Cliff's Notes version of mine :)

My Favorite Font

This one is a toughie because I swear I'm a font addict. However, I find myself constantly gravitating for the same one everytime I turn on the computer...CK Handprint. She's a beauty, ain't she?!?!

My Favorite Blog

Ooooh. In no way shape or form could I EVER choose a favorite. I just can't do it!! I do have a list of my daily "must reads", but I could never narrow them down to just one....there's just TOO many!!! Instead, I'll share with you the blog that inspired me to start blogging, too!!

Yep...she's pretty dang cute and creative as all get out!

Now, if we're talking about craft/DIY blogs, I'm all over Eighteen25. If we're on a foodie kick, I LOVE the Pioneer Woman {already have my DVR set to record her show on Food Network this weekend!!}. My favorite mom blog is The Anderson Crew...she's a doll, her kids are adorable, she recently adopted a little beauty from Ethiopia and I LOVE her sweet stories, she's funny as all get out, and her photography rocks my face off. Speaking of photography, there's no one I love visiting more than Karen Russell.

My Favorite Online Resource

I'm pretty sure I'm not alone when I say that Pinterest is my favorite online resource. I've pinned a gazillion ideas I can't wait to try and it's stressing me out that I can't get to them all in one day! HA!! Such a great resource for finding new blogs, pinning PICTURES of great ideas, and storing ideas in a super user friendly format. I just LOVE that site!!

Now it's YOUR turn. Tell us about 3 of your favorites!! I can't wait to hear what they are!!

Where it All Goes Down Wednesday!

Your turn friends!  I can't wait to see all of your fabulous rooms!  Have a great week!

Teacher Talk Tuesday

Hi everyone! This is Anna from Crazy for First Grade! It’s time to have some Teacher Talk Tuesday fun!! Today is dedicated to providing new teachers with advice. There is no way around it….the first year is full of ups and downs!! Let’s link up & share words of wisdom with all of the sweet newbies out there!!
I’ll go first.....
1. Put first things first….in other words, take care of yourself. Teaching is a demanding job! Make sure you give yourself time to relax and enjoy life outside of the classroom!!
2. This kinda goes with #1- Know that you will never have everything on your MASSIVE to do list crossed off!! Prioritize and do what is absolutely necessary for each day. It’s okay to let some things rollover!
3. Make a good first impression on your students! Plan activities at the beginning of the year that will get them excited about being back in school!
4. Communicate often with your parents through e-mail, newsletter, blog, etc. Building a positive, trusting relationship with them is KEY!! Trust me, you want them on your sideJ
5. Establish classroom procedures from day #1 and keep your rules simple!
6. Collaborate, share, and plan as much as possible with your grade level team! Don’t be afraid to ask questions about school procedures, policies, curriculum, teaching strategies, etc.!!
7. Always have several short activities, printables, and practice pieces ready to use in case a planned lesson backfires!
8. Be flexible…things don’t always go as planned in the educational world!
9. Stay positive, avoid gossip, and make friends with EVERYONE at your school!
10.  HAVE FUN!!!

Now, it's your turn… link up using the button that says "Add Your Link" below! We can't wait to hear from YOU! Thanks for sharing your advice with us!!

Meet the Teacher Monday!

B, Becks, & Me - Spring 2011

Hey, y'all!  And welcome to Meet the Teacher Monday!  We're so glad you're here!  Today, we'd love for you to link up with a post all about YOU!  We want to know all the details, so don't be shy ;)

* * * * *

Tell us a little something about you...

I'm Abby, and I blog over at The Inspired Apple and Babbling Abby - which is currently extremely neglected, right along with the laundry and the sink in the bathroom.  Fortunately, we are going to be eating this week because we made a mandatory run to the grocery tonight, less we all subsist on peanut butter for the rest of the week.  Not even peanut butter on bread.  Just peanut butter.  It was getting bad.  School started this past Wednesday and life, as I'm sure you know, can be a little chaotic (and foodless) until you settle back into the routine.

How long have you been teaching?

This is my fourth year teaching.  I taught kindergarten part-time for two years and then started teaching full-time first grade for the 2010-2011 school year.  I *love* first grade.  I had so much fun last year, despite a rocky start, and could see myself staying there for the duration of my teaching career.  Not only are they all kinds of silly and cute, but they have a genuine interest in learning which inspires me to be a better teacher.  Seriously, I just love them! 

You might not know...

Teaching wasn't my initial career choice.  Well, it was in first grade, but by the time I made it to college I decided that money was more important and I pursued a degree in psychology from the University of Kentucky {C-A-T-S!}.  Upon graduation in 2005, I realized that money wasn't so important anymore - not that I was going to make gobs as a psychologist either - and I had a big ol' WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH MY LIFE?! moment.  I spent the summer in deep thought, and decided to go back and get the degree I should have gone after in the first place.  I took as many courses as I could to finish quickly, and then graduated with yet another stinkin' bachelors in 2007.  In the mean time, I got married (2006) and pregnant (2007) and accumulated more student loans that I'd like to admit (2006 to present. HA!).  I started grad school in the spring of 2010 and will finish with a masters in administration this fall.  PTL and amen!  Soooooo finished taking classes! 

What are you looking most forward to this school year?

I'm most looking forward to a fresh start.  I have a renewed energy for teaching and am excited for a new batch of firsties.  I looped with my kindergartners to first grade last year, and - while I loved them dearly - it was definitely a little trying at times!  We were like a family - and all my little pumpkins knew just which buttons to push to make their school momma running for her fourth Diet Coke.  By noon.  However, I've totally forgot how little they are at the beginning of first grade and how much you have to "train" them!  It's like learning to teach first grade all over again! 

What do you need to improve?

I would like to work on a few things.  First of all, I want to manage my time better before and after school so I don't wind up in my classroom on the weekend. As you can probably imagine, with a name like Babbling Abby, I like to talk and spend a lot of time gabbing to my teacher friends when I should be working!

 Secondly, I want to accomplish the Daily 5 and CAFE.  I'm starting tomorrow and am all kinds of nervous that I'm going to forget something!

Lastly, I want to place an increased focus on mathematics.  I'm *extremely* literacy-oriented and love all things reading and writing, which means I don't give math the attention that I should.  Loving math has always been a struggle of mine, but I'm going to try harder this year!

What teaching supplies can you *not* live without?

Love my Flair pens and Mr. Sketch markers!  They are my go-to writing tools and make everything look pretty and smell good ;) 

Of course, I keep a healthy stash of Diet Coke under my desk - and a few extra in my bag - to ensure that I a) stay awake and b) remain calm under all circumstances.  Seriously, it's a sad, sad addiction.

I heart big chart paper.  It's not necessarily the greenest supply, but oh how I love a fresh sheet!

My {soon-to-be} SmartBoard.  It's not installed yet, but I know I will love it!

The Palm Pilot I use for Dibels, though word has it we're using iPads next year!  How fun!

Books, books, and more books!  It's another crazy addiction!

* * * * *

So, now, it's time to link up using the button that says "Add Your Link" below!  If you'd like to use the questions I used above, go for it!  Or you can write whatever your little heart desires.  No restrictions.  All we ask is that you post something pertinent to the topic of the day (unrelated content will be deleted).

Thanks for playing along! We're so excited to meet you!

Teacher Week 2011

Hi, bloggy friends and welcome to Blog Hoppin’ – a new teacher blog authored by some of your favorite teacher bloggers and dedicated to creating a virtual smorgasbord of the best in the business.  We’re committed to providing you with posts about, links to, and recommendations for the best teaching resources on the internet.

To kick off Blog Hoppin’, we’re excited to bring you Teacher Week 2011!


This year’s Teacher Week will run August 22-26th, with each day dedicated to a post related to all-things educational.  We’d love for you to post along with us on your own blog and then link up here! 

Below you will find a description of each day… 

- Meet the Teacher Monday – Introductions, please!  Tell us all about you!

- Teacher Talk Tuesday – A day dedicated to providing advice for new teachers :)

- Where it All Goes Down Wednesday – Pictures, please! Show us your classroom! 

- Three for Thursday – Link to your favorite font, favorite blog, and favorite online resource.

- Free for All Friday – Everyone loves a freebie!  Link up with a printable that you’ve created and would like to share out with the teaching community.

{Note: If you’ve already written a similar post, don’t feel like you need to rewrite it! Just link that post here. However, do make sure your post is pertinent to the day’s topic or it will be deleted. Thanks!}

Lastly, we’d love for you to grab our button and become a follower of Blog Hoppin!  You can find the code for the button on our sidebar, along with the "follow" button. 

Thanks so much for visiting!  We hope you’ll hop on over often ;)