Fairy Tale Land

This week we capped of our Fairy Tale unit with a super fun 
Fairy Tale Land!
Oh my goodness! So much fun!
Kiddos learned about fairy tales and the characteristics of a fairy tale, we did some compare/contrast activities as a whole group, then they each got to choose a fairy tale for their project.

You all know I'm a big believer in offering kiddos choice...for this project presentation, they got to choose between doing:
  • puppets
  • a poster
  • dressing up like a character
to show their learning. All presentations had to include:
  • Characters & Setting
  • Problem & Solution
  • Summary or Retell
 We presented to each other in preparation for the big event: other classrooms came in to tour our Fairy Tale Land! My kiddos LOVED it! I loved that it gave them an authentic opportunity to think about and talk about those concepts like retelling, problem/solution, and character setting!
Here are some pics from the big event.....

Indiana Blogger Meet Up - Amazing!

Decor compliments Schoolgirl Style
Oh my goodness! We just spent a fantabulous weekend meeting up with some new blogging friends & re-connecting with old ones in French Lick, Indiana. I can only just begin to tell you how much FUN we all had! BIG thanks to Holly Ehle - Mrs. Ehle's Kindergarten Connections for doing such a marvelous job of planning and organizing the event! She truly missed her calling as an event planner!

We all met at the amazing French Lick Resort in French Lick, Indiana, which is just a beautiful hotel. Built in 1845, it definitely holds old world charm and was built to impress! These pics below are in the lobby.

We started our day Saturday with a luncheon & then a blogging tips & tricks session. Lots of good info & TONS of fun! So much fun that it lasted from 12:30 to 3:45!
 I can't forget the fun Teacher Tool Swap! We each wrapped up some of our favorite classroom tools for a big exchange. Check out what I got -  a HUGE 80's Glam Pack of Fine Point Sharpies (LOVE!) and a pack of Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs (YUM!)

And check out the swag! We were all overwhelmed by the generosity of these amazing sponsors and their generous gifts! Everyone of us went home with what you see in the picture below. AMAZING!

Thank you to Scentos, Kaeden Publishing, Crayola, Jamberry, Erin Condren, & many more!

After our bloggers' tips & tricks sharing session, we had just enough time to check into our rooms and head out to dinner.

Then we all headed over to the West Baden (which is part of the French Lick Resort) to meet up & just chat. What an amazing space! This is the dome at the West Baden - gorgeous! Wow! What a great time....such wonderful people...so great to make so many wonderful new friends!

The weekend ended with breakfast in the morning. Kinda sad to say goodbye to everyone.
But we DO have something BIG in the works....stay tuned for that news!
This wonderful weekend wouldn't have happened without the efforts of the fabulous Holly Ehle. If you don't already follow her, you've got to get over there! She's an amazing gal!

Mrs Ehles Kindergarten Connections

Ed Expo - New Teacher Products!

Oh my word! The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of awesome! I've had so much going on it's been hard to catch up & let you all know about it! A few weeks ago, I got to attend the Ed Market Association's Ed Expo in Dallas. Oh my GOSH! What a fabulous opportunity! So awesome.

The Ed Expo is in essence a trade show for vendors. Ed Market brings together “companies of all sizes that produce and deliver every type of product you find in an education environment" with retailers - brick & mortar stores, online retailers, and even school corporations.

This year was the pilot of a new Teacher Trendsetter program-- the goal of which is to provide insight to the retailers who are attending the Expo. A select number of teacher/bloggers were invited to attend and become Teacher Trendsetters. And I was one of them!! Wahoo!! I cannot begin to tell you how excited I was!

As Teacher Trendsetters, we were tasked with visiting each booth, discovering the products that were available, and to identify the ones that would be teachers' "gotta have". And let me tell you, that was not as easy a task as you may think! There were literally hundreds of products....and we each had to narrow our list down to our "Top 10"....NOT and easy task! The products which ended up on our "Top 10" were then awarded that gorgeous orange and blue ribbon up there in the picture, and would be named a "Teacher Trendsetter Product".

(By the way-- see that big ole orange button up on the clipboard? That's not a mini-clipboard, folks! That button IS.THAT.BIG! We definitely were noticed and easily identified as Teacher Trendsetters! And it certainly was a great ice breaker! haha!)

Top 10 Teacher Products
Creative Teaching Press - Easy Daysies
Easy Daysies is a magnet schedule for kids. There are a couple different packs...
Classroom Management
Daily Starter Kit
Add On  Packs - Family & Extra-Curricular, Chores & Special Times, Get Dressed & Bathroom Routines.

One of the things I liked about this is that it moves kiddos toward independence. When they move a magnet over, they experience that same sense of accomplishment that you do when you check something off your to-do list. AND - just think of how well this will work for students with special needs!

How cool that I got to meet Elaine, the creator of Easy Daysies, too. Loved talking with her! She's a mom and a teacher, too!

Blue Orange Games - Spot It! & Spot It Tell a Tale 

In Spot It! Games, each round playing card has a series of pictures and/or words. Between any two cards, there is always a match. The object is to be the first player to spot the match between your card & the one that's in play. I really like that it trains the brain to look for details. You can try it out and play an online demo game HERE. Have fun!

The Spot It! Tell a Tale game is in the forefront of the picture above. You can see that each of those cards has one picture. The goal for this game is for players to work together to create a story. Each card turn may give a setting, character, or detail that must be incorporated. I can definitely see using this in my classroom during writing time!

Okay people. This game was actually selected by Mensa as one of the five best new games in 2010. Mensa. Yes-- Mensa. I seriously love that this game has the potential to intrinsically teach kiddos about measurement, estimation, angles, problem solving, and just plain thinking!                                         See those gray little stone-looking pieces? They're actually magnets! To play this game, you place each of your magnets one at a time, taking turns with the other player, on the triangular pieces of mouse-pad-like material, trying to stay out of the magnetic field of the other magnets. The object is to get rid of all of your magnets first.But here's the kicker....if you cause magnets to stick together, or if you push any off the edge, you have to pick all of those up! Fun! 

Come on! How cool are these?! Just write, or print, cover up with a scratch off sticker....& you have a super fun, super awesome self-checking activity...or maybe a reward? The sky is the limit with these!

My little-old-phone-picture truly doesn't  do these justice....but as ID lanyards go.....these are FABulous! Really-- they look like the jewelry you might wear on a regular day. Super cool thing? Your ID can clip completely off! Pop it into your bag, & you've got a necklace!

Stop over & take a look at their website. Their pictures show much better detail...you'll be able to get a better idea.

Alright. Two decks- one with letters of the alphabet, the other with topics. Quick! Turn over one from each pile. What's a vegetable that begins with M?
The first person to name one gets to keep both cards. And play continues.

I got to play this game for a few minutes at the Maranda booth. Super fun!
I'm thinking this would be a GREAT game for language development. Can you imagine how well this could work for ELL kiddos?
Maranda Enterprises - Nounsense
Another great game for language development! For this game, players start with 60 cards, the objective is to get your teammates to name the person, place, or thing on the card.....but you cannot say the word....you can only give description & hints!
Round 2 - Same 60 cards, but you can only give 3 word hints!
Round 3 - Same cards, but only 1 word hints!

Copernicus -  Dewey the document camera stand
This product is just genius! The stand can hold an IPad, and is equipped with a cord that connects right to your projector. Then, use the camera feature on your IPad, & you essentially have a document camera!! Genius! What a great, cost effective way to get document cameras into classrooms. This little baby retails for about $100. Anyone excited yet?
Learning Resources - Make a Splash 120 Mat
Check this out! What a terrific way to make Math kinesthetic!

Roylco - Laminated Speech Bubbles
So many things you can do with this! I picture using them for student response. Kiddos could write their response on the speech bubble, then hold up. Great little tool for a quick, informal, formative assessment!

You can find the Teacher Trendsetter Award winning products and many more at retailers in your area...just use the handy zip code searchable database! You can also click the image below. Support small businesses in your community!

Wow! And this was just the tip of the iceberg! What a wonderful experience! It was great to meet so many people who are behind the awesome products we see on store shelves or online. So interesting to talk with them, answer questions, and learn more about the process, research, and marketing research that goes into their products!

Oh! And remember my giant button up there at the beginning? BIG thanks to the terrific people at Creative Teaching Press for fixing me right up!

So--- of all of those products in my Top 10 -- which are you most interested in learning more about?

Pssst - Don't miss out on The Very Hungry Caterpillar Giveaway! Click over & enter!

Sight Words - A New Spin

Primary PossibilitiesSo super excited to share this product with you! I'm super glad I had the opportunity to try out Stephany Dillon's Newspaper Word Work. Stephany is one of the voices behind Primary Possibilities (which just happens to be one of my faves!) I am so lucky that I got to trade with Stephany!

This activity pack is just SO fun! I'm always on the lookout for engaging activities for my kiddos' workstations. Of course, they have to be both engaging AND effective!


And this one fits the bill! 
  • They get to use a newspaper (oooh! aaahhh!)
  • They get to use highlighters (oooh! aaahhh!)
  • They get to use a magnifying glass (squeals of delight!)
 And of course, I love that they are getting plenty of practice with word study skills. There are options in this pack for phonics, for compound words, contractions, and even parts of speech. There are actually two different ways the activity sheets are used.
  1. Kiddos search the newspaper for words that fit the phonics or word pattern that you're working on. After highlighting, each word is written on the recording sheet. 
  2. Kiddos search for words that belong in a category (like compound words, nouns, contractions, etc.). They cut each word out & paste it on the recording sheet. 
You can grab a sampler of this amazing activity pack simply by clicking on the image above.

 Love what you see & want to grab the full version of Newspaper Word Work? Click the cover image below to head over to TpT!

An InLinkz Link-up

'Still Hungry' for The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Wow! Did you know that 2014 marks the 45th Anniversary of The Very Hungry Caterpillar? Yep! 45 years! Actually, the anniversary will officially be celebrated on the first day of Spring - March 20th. Which also happens to be the date of the annual "Very Hungry Caterpillar Day". It's very fitting that it would be the first day of Spring, don't you think? 

This book has got to be one of my hands down favorites! But hey-- you don't have to take my word for it (as they say on TV) -- 36 MILLION copies have been sold since it was first published in 1969 (& was named one of the best children's books that year by The New York Times). It's been published in 55 languages!

Today, every 30 seconds, somewhere in the world, a copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar is sold! That is just simply remarkable!

Its story of metamorphosis speaks to everyone. It's the story of the life cycle of a butterfly, to be sure....but isn't it also a story about the promise that lies within all of us? The story of change -- or perhaps more aptly-- the beauty of change? And the book itself is a work of beauty. Who could not be drawn in by the beautiful, vibrant, & dynamic illustrations. The creative page cuts makes the book even more dynamic & compelling. No wonder we are all "still hungry" for this classic--even 45 years later!

Eric Carle is acclaimed and beloved as the creator of brilliantly illustrated and innovatively designed picture books for the very young. He has illustrated more than 70 books, many best sellers, and more than 100 million copies of his books have sold around the world. In 2002, Eric and his wife Barbara opened The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art  in Amherst, Massachussetts. A 40,000 square foot space dedicated to inspiring a love of art among children by introducing them to picture book art by renowned artists from around the world. 

A quick look around Pinterest tells me that children are definitely inspired by this cherished classic!

Make sure to stop by the Official Site! You'll find FREE printables and many other fabulous resources! !

Bright Ideas- Make Your Life Easier!!

We do lots of activities in which we lace or string with yarn. If you're primary, I bet you do too! Has this ever happened to you?
AAAaaargh! It can make you want to pull your hair out! All that fraying & unraveling....and then everyone's yarn starts doing it! Here's an easy trick that will make your life easier! You can actually create a tip on the end of your yarn which will keep the yarn from fraying & make your life so much easier!

Step 1: Gather the supplies you'll need: yarn cut to your desired length, glue, and a container for the glue (I like to use a paper plate - easy clean up!)

Step 2: Dip one end of the yarn into the glue. Make sure you have a good coating on the entire end of the yarn.

Step 3: Drape the yarn over the edge of a table so that the ends do not touch. Make sure to place something on the floor under the yarn. (I learned this the hard way....don't come back in the morning to a mess of drips on the floor!). I like to use those plastic tablecloths. (They're also good to use for messy projects like painting --- just roll the whole kit & kaboodle up when you're finished and toss it all!).

Step 4: Let them dry over night, and in the morning, you're all set for E.A.S.Y lacing or stringing!

Next up is Jenny from Luckeyfrog's Lilypad. She's going to share some great ideas about organizing progress monitoring materials with you. Just click on the button below to check it out!

Luckeyfrog's Lilypad