Going along with my resolution to be a better blogger, idea collector, idea sharer, and social media whiz (hahaha!) here comes the first post of the (almost) new year!

I'm linking up with Farley over at Oh, Boy Fourth Grade for Currently.

Sooooooooooooooo here we go!

So we live in Vegas...perfect place to ring in the new year, right?
Today on the news they reported that it is colder here than in ALASKA!
Brrrrrrrrr!!!  I believe it!
I've done the whole downtown thing...it's cool...but what's that old saying, been there...

So we are rocking in 2015 at home with some hot happenin' 80s tunes.  Just listened to John Cougar (my 80s guy) and now we've got some Billy Ocean...HEY!  You!  Get into my car! 

LOVING my amazing NYE date.  Love that we always hold hands and "jump" into the new year.  Something he made up a long time ago.  So...be ready to jump at midnight PST!
Here's my sweet guy on our first NYE together (not quite 4 months old).
Cutest date in town, right?

Is it just me or is there more and more in the news lately about food...or is it being put in my path for a reason?  Honestly, it's to the point I don't know what to eat anymore!
I just signed up for the 100 Days of Real Food mini pledge.  I can't wait to see what it's all about.  You can read more here about it if you're interested.  If you join up, be sure to let me know.  I need a buddy!
100 Days of Real Food

Wanting...oh, so wanting this crazy arm to get all better.  I have been experiencing some lymphedema (a swelling in the arm).  Fortunately, it's not painful, just a pain.  It's caused from overuse and by the fact that I don't have any lymph nodes under my arm.  Boo to me.  I've spent a large part of winter break going for massage therapy.  Doesn't that sound great...yeah, no deep tissue massage pleasure here.  And when I'm done, my arms gets wrapped tightly...like a mummy.  Not fun!  Here's what I look like when I leave.  Try fitting any kind of sleeve over that big, bad boy.  Could be worse though!  (and excuse my slouchy self)

Notice that I put "one more week of winter break" under needing and not wanting?  I have so many things that we haven't done yet.  BUT we still have a few more days left.  Feeling thankful for the time off that I spent with friends and family.  That's the best...some jobs can just be put on the back burner, right?

My wish for 2015?  Couldn't wish for anything more than health, happiness, love, and life in 2015 for all.  So what's your wish for the new year?  I'd love to hear it.  Why not leave it in the comments section?  I'll help you wish it true!

Since I heart me some Brad Paisley, let me leave you with this

That's it!  Peace out 2014.  Ready to make some new memories in 2015!
3 1/2 hours and counting until we "jump" into 2015!!
Are you ready?

Well, Christmas sure flew by quickly, if you ask me.  All that prepping and planning and in the blink of an eye, it's over.  I love that when my son was little he used to walk around all year long telling us that he had a Christmas heart.  Awww!  I need to ask him if he still feels that way!

So I know it seems that we were just in school yesterday and probably aren't thinking one little bit about going back, right?  Welllllllllllll...truth be told...me either, BUT, several friends and I wanted to get together and make that task just a little easier for you.

So we're presenting the 
Blog Hop Button

 Hop around to grab the no/low prep freebies, and then enter to win an 
Amazon gift card at the end of the hop! 

I am the twelfth stop!

Here's my NO prep freebie to use your first week back! 

So here is my FREEBIE.
It's part of an upcoming pack and you can grab it simply by clicking on the picture.
This is part of an upcoming bigger pack. 
It's perfect for purposeful work for your early finishers.
If you like it, watch for the complete pack coming in January.

 Now hop on over to my sweet friend, Larueen, over at Teach With Laughter by clicking the button below! 
Next Stop

I am trying so hard to remember to breathe this season...breathe and take it all in.  

I love the hustle and bustle, the lights, the excitement in children's (and grownup's) eyes, the wonderful spirit of it all, and the true meaning of Christmas. 

Ahhhhhhh!!!  Breathe!

As many of you know I am incredibly grateful for all things TpT...the friends, the sharing of ideas, the knowledge gained, and of course the ability to support our little family. 

I always love giving back.  I always spend a percentage of my earning to help a family, support a worthy cause, or donate to a charity.  I can't help it...I love sharing!

A fellow TPTer came up with a dedicated day of giving, so I couldn't help but join in!  LOVE!
Tomorrow, 50% of what I earn will go to provide Christmas for children.
The person that coined the phrase "Christmas is for children", couldn't be more accurate.  
50% of the profits from your purchases on December 14th will go directly to fund as many family Christmases as I can make it stretch.

You can find my store by clicking here.

To find other amazing bloggers and sellers that are participating, just check out the space below!

Sorry for all the hopping around, but this prize is TOTALLY worth it!
I have had so much help along my TPT journey that it's more than time to pay it forward.

I found A Sketchy Guy on TPT about a year or so ago and purchased a few things.  Then I realized he was from Vegas!  HELLO!  We are neighbors????  At the TPT conference I got to meet him and his beautiful wife Susan, who has her own TPT shop and blog, called School Bells N Whistles.
Such a sweet and fun couple!

...and did you see him featured in the TPT newsletter this week?

By entering the Rafflecopter below and "liking" A Sketchy Guy on Facebook and following his TPT store, you have a chance to win all of these graphics!  
(Click on the pictures below, to take you to his store to view the product details.)








or you can check out the whole big bundle right here:


What if you could have all of October planned for next year?  Wouldn't that be so cool?  I mean, that's really ahead of the game, right?

Well, here's your chance!
I'm giving away an October bundle of my integrated units!

You could win all of these units:
(Click on the pictures to take you to preview them.)



They come in this bundled unit!

All you need to do or a chance to win is enter right here.

We just wrapped up instruction on one of my favorite topics, visualizing.  I wrote "wrapped up instruction", because while I am done direct teaching it (unless we need a review), it is something that we will be using continuously throughout the year. 

My kiddos absolutely LOVED this topic and were engaged through all of the lessons.

After brainstorming what they already knew about visualizing, we completing a fun activity that I found on Deanna Jump's Mrs. Jump's Class blog.  

We read the Jack Prelustky poem "My Neighbor's Dog is Purple" and followed up with Deanna's worksheet that you can grab here.

Here are some of my kiddos' visualizations.

My kiddos INSISTED on taking a copy of the worksheet and poem home so that they could use it with their parents.  I won't lie...I LOVE when that happens!

The next day we did an anchor chart, because I wanted to see what their thoughts were on visualizing.  I thought they had a pretty good grasp on it.   Love the word "imagineate".  

Another fun activity was based around one of my very favorite books.  A college professor who ended up being my first principal introduced me to this book.  If you haven't read it, it's a must-read, and it works so well into other topics, too.  Here are some of the "aminals" that my students came up with based upon Patrick's description in the story.  I was so worried that my students had heard this story before and this activity would be an epic fail.  Fortunately, nobody knew what the "aminal" really was.  
What was it?  Oh, now I can't tell you that!  You have to read the book!

Then I hit a stumbling block.  I needed to assess these lessons, but how?  Just because I visualize something one way, certainly doesn't mean that my students visualize it the same way.  Then I found Rachel Lynette's Visualizing Task cards....PERFECT!

You can check them out here in here TPT store.  They are actually labeled as grades 3-5, but my kiddos did a great job with them.  I only had to read a word or two that they couldn't figure out on their own.

I let the students choose two cards, read them, and then select the one that they thought they could complete the best.  Here are pics of a couple of their finished products.

My fabulous librarian pulled some great books for us to use, too and I added a few books to a list for you to use, if you have them.

I have to say that I am glad that this is a skill that we will continuously refer back to, because it was so much fun to teach!
I'm linking up with Nicole at All Things Apple in 2nd for her brand spankin' new linky party Sunday Savings!
This linky features savings for you each week.  Be sure to check out the other sellers that have savings for you, too.

So this week I am featuring my very popular Science Interactive Notebooks at 20% off.  That's right!  You can grab each one for only $4 each.  That's cheaper than the bundle!
I will be adding to this collection in the coming months, but for right now there is plants, matter, and weather.  (We are starting our weather unit this week, so I'll be making great use of this unit myself.)

You can click on each picture to take you directly to the unit.




Now be sure to hop on over to All Things Apple in 2nd to grab some more savings!
Do not faint, but this is an actuall blog post from moi!  LOL

Do you use Rekenreks in your classroom?  Do you know what Rekenreks are?  
Rekenreks are actually from the Netherlands and are based upon other forms of bead-based math manipulatives such as the abacus.

Rekenreks have two rows of beads with 10 beads (5 of one color and 5 of another color) on each of the rows.  (Ours happen to be blue and white, but most are red and white.  Ours are blue because it's our school color.)

Rekenreks are fabulous for helping students to subitize numbers.  Subitizing is when students can instantly see how many objects are used and what number is represented.

So this amazing young man, Ethan, made 450 Rekenreks for our school.  It took him a couple of months to collect the materials and assemble them.  It was actually his Eagle Scout project.  Here he is with his gorgeous and talented mama, who happens to be my wonderful friend, and presenting the Rekenreks to our school with our Math Strategist, Chrese Jones and our principal, Pauline Mills.

So this week we have been working on a review of making 10.  We use Investigations math at our school as well as Number Talks.

This is Cherese giving a number talk using a teacher Rekenrek.  

For this Number Talk, the students were asked to put 8 on the top and 4 on the bottom.  They were then asked to figure out how many beads there were altogether.  The white board shows some of their thinking on how they figured out the amount quickly.  There is also an example of a student's board.

Since we have been working on building 10, I of course had to scour Pinterest and I came across this amazing blog post by Mrs. Clancy of Joyful Learning in KC.  So I looked at her examples and decided to rev up our Rekenreks as well and implement what we had been working on in math.

Her lesson came from this book which I just ordered and you can order by clicking on the (affiliate) link


 So here is how our lesson turned out.  We read the story and then the students worked independently to create 10 on their Rekenreks.  Then they shared their ideas and strategies with their partner and finally we recorded them on our poster.  (Oh, how I love our poster maker at school!)

I do not have any Rekenrek resources, but there are quite a few on TPT.  I do not know Number Sense Guy, but he has quite a few resources in his store, if you want to check them out.

Also, Donna from Math Coach's Corner (love her!) has a fantastic post on how to create these inexpensive Rekenreks for your classroom AND she has a link to a fabulous FREEBIE from The Math Learning Center that I used last year when we first got our Rekenreks.

I am looking forward to getting as much use out of these amazing tools as possible this year...and maybe you'll be able to make some, too!

With that, Happy Rekenreking!

I sure have been working hard on my title of World's Worst Blogger.  We are entering our third week of school tomorrow and I am finally getting around to showing our classroom.

This year I moved rooms and it was definitely like starting over from scratch.  However, we did get to move over with our grade level (who totally ROCKS) and we finally have a window in our classroom.  Yes, it's way up high, but it lets in a lot of natural light..oh, how I have missed natural light!

So, without rambling on any longer, welcome to our superhero classroom!

 This is the view as you enter our classroom.  The banner came from Vistaprint.  Love that you get a peek of the colors as you enter.

Had to take a close up of our telephone booth.  Perfect for turning second graders into superheroes!

We talked recently at our grade level meeting about doing assessment "temperature checks", as my principal calls them. Here is our Ticket Out the Door chart for doing just that.  
The paver was created by my sweet friend of many years.  Isn't she just an amazing talent?  She's made me a doorstop paver every year for the past 5 years.

Boy, the blue on my board really does look a lot better than this.  The sky and buildings stretch all the way down one wall.  There is a section for ELA, math, science and social studies, as well as a general focus wall.  
Did you read my tip?  The letters on each word (math, ELA, etc.) match the color of their interactive notebook for that subject.  (Clever, huh?  It was a total fluke!)

Two other teachers and myself are using Whole Brain Teaching this year (and LOVING it!) so of course, I had to whip up some matching posters.  Also in this pic is our clock (Has anyone seen the :25, by any chance?),  and our "welcome" sign.

My sweet friend Christina over at Miss DeCarbo made some darling posters for her classroom.  Had to make that idea my own and do them superhero style. 
I also included the pic of our team signs.  We also have Wonder Kids, Captain Kids and Bat Kids.

This is the view of the left side of our classroom where our writing table is located.  
(See the windows, too?)

If you ever come to my classroom, PLEASE do not look too closely at my chevron chair.  I have a sewing machine...I do not sew.  I am ashamed to say that the fabric is hot glued together.  No, it's not pretty...not pretty at all.

Years ago my sweet dad made this structure out of PVC pipe.  It has been a jungle hut, a space station, a bee hive, a pirate cove, a banana cabana and this year (after MUCH brainstorming and enlisting ideas from friends, family and other bloggers), this is the result.  Not quite as spectacular as I'd envisioned, but the kiddos love it and that's what counts.
P.S.  The Hall of Justice is where the Superfriends hang out.

 Finally, I have to give a shout out to this amazing kiddo!  Not many would give up a week (more or less) of their summer vacation to come in and help their mom set up her classroom.  Thankfully, he did (with just a wee bit of bribing).  You can also see that he had a chance to check out the crate seats.  He also got a nice reward of going around with my principal on a motorized cooler (yes, you read that correctly) and handing out ice cream cones.

So that's it!  Our classroom is up and running.  LOVING my second grade superhero kiddos.  We are pretty cozy in there with 23 kiddos, but they are amazing and I wouldn't trade any of them!

So stay tuned for more tales, teaching tips, and sharing from our Superhero Headquarters.

The graphics that I used in my classroom come from Jazzy Patterns on Etsy. 

Now check out these amazing classrooms. 

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