Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Birthday winners

Yes, it was my birthday yesterday and, yes, it did kind of suck to have to go to work on my birthday... and on a Monday of all days. However, I got super spoiled by all the kiddos in my class and by all my wonderful co-workers. I was even able to go shopping last night with a few of the giftcards I got. So, I guess all that wonderful attention made me feel a little more generous than usual. So if you were one of the people that commented on my post yesterday with your email and your favorite product from my store... it's on its way!

Yes, that's right, I didn't choose 3 winners... everyone is a winner!!

Oh, and I even had a chance to make a new little something last night after my munchkins went to bed (no, I really can't go even one day without working in some aspect). It's a Watch Me Grow pack. You print out about 12 leaves, put them up on the wall vertically (I put mine in my door frame), and use them as a non-traditional form of measurement to measure your kiddos' height at the beginning and end of the year. There's even a page to print out with spaces for their pictures and the information that goes along with the picture!

Hope you like it!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Make It Monday Color Word Mats

So, this isn't my usual crafty project for Make It Monday but, I figure, it's my birthday and I'll make something digital if I want to! ;) Anyhoo, I spent pretty much all weekend tweaking this to get it just right and thought I would share it. My Build, Write, and Match Color Word Mats:

The set comes with 10 different color mats, one for each color, plus cards to match up to the color and printable letter tiles in case you don't have a set of your own!

I'm so excited to use this in my classroom this next week. I plan to laminate the color word mats so the kiddos can write on them with wipe off markers and reuse them. Plus, I'm even thinking about putting velcro on the back of the picture cards and on the work mats to make the matching easier! Make sure to check out the whole set in my store by clicking the picture above and take a minute to find a few other Make It Monday posts over at 4th Grade Frolics:

Now, here's the birthday surprise...
I will choose 3 people to win one item of their choosing from my store. Simply leave a comment any time during the day of my birthday (July 29) on this post with your email and the item you would want from my store. I will choose the three winners by random using a random number generator and announce the winners on Tuesday. Good luck!
Hope you enjoy!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

My Year Round Assessment Packet

Ok, I'm cheating a bit today. I'm combining my Apple A Day and Monday Make It posts into one. In fact, my Apple A Day (data collection) item is my Monday Make It item. I know, shame on me. In my defense, the kids come back to school tomorrow and, even though I have my lesson plans done for the week, I'm only about 75% of the way prepped... for tomorrow! Hence, the combo post.

So, first thing's first. Make sure to check out the Apple A Day linky party over at the Applicious Teacher for more data collection ideas...

and the Make It Monday party at 4th Grade Frolics for some wonderful creative ideas.


So, the way I was taught to lesson plan (and I'm sure this is the way a lot of other people were trained) is to use the Backwards Design Method. You create your final goals, then the assessment to test those goals, then the lesson plans to prepare for the assessment... hence backwards. However, I wouldn't do it any other way. So, it only seemed natural for me to create my end of the year goals and my academic plan before I even started my lesson plans for the year. Once I had that done, I knew I needed an assessment that went along with it. Now, the assessment I used last year wasn't horrible but, the problem I ran across was that, when conferences rolled around, I had multiple packs of the same assessment (one from the beginning of the year, one from fall assessments, one from winter assessments, and one from end of the year) that I had to compare and analyze for progress. The solution? Combining everything onto one and having the one packet be a bit longer.

I finally came to the conclusion that the best way to combine everything is to simply have the item to be assessed and add a set of 4 boxes underneath that can be checked or used to record info at each of my 4 assessment times (beginning of the year, fall, winter, end of the year).

I know, super simple solution right? Well, that just goes to show where my brain has been this summer that it took me that long to come up with it. Anyway, I decided to make the assessment packet as self-sufficient as possible by putting the letters and numbers out of order. That way, I can simply show the kiddos the packet and eliminate the need for flashcards and lots of extra assessment pieces. Pretty much everything needed for the assessment is included. All you would need other than the packet is a set of math manipulatives for sorting and patterning plus some base ten blocks to see if they know what they mean.

The best part? The whole assessment packet is FREE until MONDAY afternoon!! Make sure you head over and grab it while you can!

Hope you can use it!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

What an honor! A Liebster Award nomination!

Wow, and just… WOW! I just found out last night that I was nominated for the Liebster Award by this wonderful blog called A Tall Drink of Water. This is such a wonderfully flattering event! I almost feel like I should make some sort of speech. But I will spare you all of that.

Now, I have to be honest. Before tonight, I had never heard of the Liebster Award. I know, tsk tsk. But in my own defense, I really just got back into the blogging world about a month and a half ago so this caught me totally by surprise!


The Liebster Award is given to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. So, what is a Liebster? The meaning: Liebster is German (and I’m half German, so I love it even more!) and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome. Blogging is about building a community and it's a great way to connect with other bloggers and help spread the word about newer bloggers/blogs.

Here are the rules: 

1. Link back to the blog that nominated you

2. Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers

3. Answer the questions posted for you by your nominator

4. Share 11 random facts about yourself 

5. Create 11 questions for your nominees

6. Contact your nominees and let them know you nominated them


First off, my nominees are:


11 Questions from A TallDrink of Water:

1. How long have you been teaching and what grades have you taught? 

I have officially been teaching for 11 years and have worked with kiddos from birth through Pre-K (Pre-K being my favorite and current grade).

2. What was the best concert you attended?

Well, considering the fact that I’ve only been to 2 concerts in my life (I know, shocking, right?) and I was sick for one of them, I would have to say the other: Rascal Flatts!

3. What is the one thing you must do before going to bed?

I absolutely HAVE TO read before I go to bed or I end up lying in bed for an hour with my ADD brain drifting from one thing to another. If I read, it seems to let my body relax for long enough that I can just fall right to sleep.

4. What is your favorite thing about where you live?

Growing up in the Midwest and dealing with snowstorms in May, I would have to say my favorite thing about Arizona is the winters (or lack there of).

5. Do you have any pets? If so, how many and what kind?

We have a cat named Louie that we adopted this past Christmas. He’s not a very exciting pet since he just kind of lays around and naps but, on the upside, it does seem to help the girls with understanding responsibility.

6. How did you think of your blog name?

It actually took me forever to think of my blog name. I wanted something that, if I decided to go in a bit of a different direction at a later time, I could keep the name and still have it be applicable. As I’ve said, I have a bit of ADD which leads me to be pretty random in the projects that I work on and, in case you hadn’t noticed, I tend to do crafty things the majority of the time. Hence… Random Craftiness.

7. Do you have a guilty pleasure?

It’s taken me a long time to actually come to terms with my guilty pleasure (I was in denial for the longest time). I love sci-fi and fantasy movies. Yes, that’s right, I’m a nerd, and I’m OK with it. My personal favorites? Lord of the Rings/Hobbit, Firefly, all the Marvel comic movies (Avengers, Thor, Captain America, Iron Man), and the best movie series ever… Harry Potter!


8. Where was your favorite vacation?

I actually was blessed enough to be able to go to London and Paris (and the surrounding areas) right after I graduated from high school. I don’t think I was mature enough to fully appreciate it, but it was still the best trip ever and I can now look at pictures of the Eiffel Tower, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and lots of castles and be able to say “I’ve been there!”


9. Where did you go to college?

Wow, well… I got my AA at Iowa Lakes Community College (Iowa), my Bachelor’s at Briar Cliff University (Iowa), my first Master’s (in education) from Argosy University (AZ), and my second Master’s (in psychology) from Capella Univeristy (online). The sad thing is I’m thinking about going and taking a few more courses. Yes, I’m a glutton for punishment.

10. What's the funniest thing a student has ever said to you?

I know this is totally cliché but I just cannot choose one thing. Like I said, I teach Pre-K. Every other phrase qualifies as “the funniest thing”. Especially since they usually catch me in just the right moment where, to any sane person, they wouldn’t be that funny. But, after teaching little ones for so long, you have to learn to laugh, even if it doesn’t make sense to others.

11. What is one thing you cannot live without?

Ok, another cliché… I don’t think I can live without my family. They drive me absolutely nuts sometimes (ok, a lot of times) but, I don’t know where I would be without them. My crazy silly girls and my super, uber, wonderfully supportive husband. I’m just so blessed with the little family that I have and wouldn’t give them up for anything (there’s my nomination speech by the way… just had to sneak it in there ;)



11 Random Facts:

1. I grew up in a small Iowa town and give just about anything to be able to move back there.

2. I don’t drink water or use ice. I know, strange. 

3. I am afraid of dogs. Love cats, super scared of dogs.

4. I’m a Mommy’s girl.

5. I refuse to buy anything that I could make myself.

6. I would love to move onto a farm and be as self-sufficient as possible.

7. I cannot wait to retire and don’t really see my hobbies changing a whole lot when I do. I already knit and sew so I think I’m set.

8. I won’t go in any body of water except bathtubs and swimming pools (and no, I’m not a germaphobe)

9. I like to crank the stereo in the car and sing at the top of my lungs (and I don’t care that the guy in the next car is watching me a silently judging).

10. I have less than a week left of being in my 20s (and I’m actually kind of happy about it!) 

11. I would love to grow a crafty business that allowed me to work from home (at least until all our kids were in school).


11 Questions For My Nominees:

1. If you could hop in the car and take a road trip anywhere right now, where would it be? 

2. What book/magazine are you currently working on reading?

3. How did you choose to start a blog?

4. If you could get paid to do anything, what would it be? 

5. Favorite classroom theme? 

6. Best teaching moment?

7. If you had one wish, what would you wish for? (And none of that wishing for more wishes nonsense!) 

8. What is the strangest food you’ve ever eaten?

9. Who was your favorite teacher growing up and why?

10. What is your favorite trait about yourself?

11. If you could have any animal as a pet, what would it be?

Well, now that I've shared a bit too much about myself, enjoy the rest of your night!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

More crayon wonderfulness!

Once again, I'm linking up to the wonderful Make-It Monday linky party over at 4th Grade Frolics to show you how I used all the crayon papers from the recycled crayons I made last week.

 If you remember, I showed you how to make these super cute crayons last week.

The trick to getting them peeled was to put them in water until you see them start to peel.

Then you just unroll the paper off the crayon and it comes off in one nice, neat piece.

Each time one came off clean, I laid it out flat to dry so I could use the papers in addition to the crayons.

So, for this project, all you need is glue, mod podge (could just use more glue instead), clothespins, a Sharpie marker, a paintbrush, nail file, and dry crayon papers.

If you notice, there is an obvious line between where the crayon paper was exposed and looks kind of old and where it's nice and clean. So I decided to do a set of clothespins that have the Crayola logo and a set that are blank.

Simply take a clothespin and mark on both sides to get a long, skinny rectangle a bit bigger than the clothespin.

You're ready to cut them apart!

Now, obviously the crayon paper isn't as long as the clothespin. Never fear, I have a solution!

Use the same Sharpie to color a bit of both ends to account for the short crayon paper.

Spread some glue on top.

Put the crayon paper on top and push firmly wiping away any excess glue that squishes out.

Looking at it from underneath, you'll notice a tiny bit of extra paper on each side. Don't worry, we'll take care of that next.

Take your handy dandy nail file and file gently file the very edge. Make sure you file in a downward motion away from the top of the clothespin. Try to avoid a motion that looks like playing the violin since filing in an upward motion will push up on the crayon paper and will push it off the clothespin.

Now, I found this AWESOME Mod Podge at Hobby Lobby. It's the sparkle Mod Podge. If you don't want to spend the extra cash on this. You can either paint plain ol' glue on the clothespins or you can make a Mod Podge-ish concoction by mixing equal parts glue and water. Then if you want to add some sparkle like I did, you can either add some glitter to your glue, sprinkle it on while the glue is still wet, or even just use glitter glue as your sealer. Lots of options!

Anyhoo, so I just painted my Mod Podge on top.

I'll be honest, I was a little scared when it looked goopy and white but, as I'm sure all you Mod Podge veterans know, it did end up drying clear.

After TWO coats of the Mod Podge, this is what I got:

These are the Crayola logo clothespins.

Here's a set I did by just coloring the top with colored Sharpie markers and painting over with Mod Podge (I had the markers out so I thought I would experiment a bit).

And these are my favorite. I love how sharp and clean they look! All I need to do is get my class list so I can write the kiddos names on them and they'll be ready for my Clip-it Behavior Chart!

I had so much fun making these, I'm actually considering putting a set up for sale. Maybe even a freebie? What do you guys think?

Have fun!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Recycled crayons!

Well, it's my last week of summer break before we head back to work for professional development week. So, of course, my brain is in back-to-school mode. Now, if you teach younger grades like I do, you know how many broken crayons you end up with throughout the year. DO NOT THROW THEM OUT! Thankfully, I had a large, clear, plastic container that I had my kiddos toss their broken crayons in throughout the year so I could save them. Wow, did they add up by the time summer rolled around! What did I do with them? I recycled them of course! These will be a part of my back-to-school gifts for my Pre-K kiddos! Also, once you're done checking out this tutorial, make your way over to 4th Grade Frolics for more Make-It Monday fun!

Now, if you've ever tried to recycle crayons, you know how big of a pain it can be to peel the paper off each and every crayon. I found a super easy way (on Pinterest of course) to get the paper off. All you do is put a handful of crayons in a bowl of water and let them sit for 10-15 minutes. They should look like this...

The paper just rolls right off! (Tip: Crayola crayons peel MUCH better than the off-brand crayons!) So easy my girls even wanted to help!

Next, find the mold you would like to use. A lot of times you can find cheap, shaped molds at Target in the Dollar Spot. I actually just got a set of bacon shaped ones, but I'm saving those ;) I chose to use these awesome heart shaped ones (because I've used them before and I know they work well). They're made of silicone so it's super easy to just pop the crayons out when they're finished.

Break the peeled crayons up into as small of pieces as possible (mine were about half an inch). The smaller they are, the better they'll melt. You can either mix colors or put similar shades together. I chose to mix so that all the kiddos had similar crayons rather than some getting blue, some green, etc.

If you use a floppy silicone mold like I did, make sure to put it on a cookie sheet so it will be easier to handle when putting it in the oven and taking it out. Set your oven to 350 degrees. I set my timer for 10 minutes but, depending on how big your crayon pieces are, they could take anywhere from 6 to 15 minutes. They should look like one solid, waxy puddle when they're done.

Pull them out and let them cool. I waited about an hour just to make sure they were fully cooled but, if you're using a smaller mold, it obviously will take less time for them to harden.

Once again, I love silicone molds. You can just flip it over and push on the bottom to pop them out!

And voila! Finished rainbow recycled crayons! Just one part of my back-to-school gift for my kiddos.

Make sure to check out more Make-It Monday posts like this over at 4th Grade Frolics!