Summertime and the dieting begins!

Teachers are notorious for taking care of all the folks around them and neglecting themselves!  I am no exception. What to do, what to do?  This past year was particularly stressful as our school was under a microscope as a result of low test scores.  Eyes were upon us all year long.  Lessons were scrutinized, data analyzed, resources vetted.  I would like to be one of those”lucky” folks whose appetite disappears under stress, but not me!  I have forgotten where I parked, where I put my keys, and even left my laptop at home; but I have NEVER forgotten to eat a meal and then some!!  As a result, I put on weight this past school year and now I have decided to do something about it.


I have begun to add all kinds of fresh fruit and vegetables to my diet.  I  visit produce stands and take advantage of the local fruits and vegetables.  Luckily, I have a hubby who also likes to eat fresh.  We recently made a chicken avocado salad the was created without any mayo and it was so good!    You can find the recipe on my Pinterest board…


This took some real thought for me.  I have spent previous summers catching up on my personal reading and crocheting, neither of which take a whole lot of calories to accomplish!  LOL!  I used to joke that I had only one allergy and that was to sweat!

This summer, I decided it was time to overcome my “allergy”.  I have tried to gyms and I have found that I just can’t seem to make the time to visit once school starts.  As a result of what I saw as throwing my money down the drain with a gym membership, I decided if I was going to sweat, it ought to have visible results beyond my weight loss.  I have started working outside at my home.  I have been pulling weeds, edging our yard using a manual edger, raking and putting new mulch in our gardens.  My yards are starting to look better and I am feeling better also.


I used to “pooh,pooh” people who told me that water could help a person lose weight.  Boy, was I wrong!  I have a drinking container that holds a lot of water and I have made it my mission to refill it at least 4 times a day with ice water from my refrigerator.  It keeps me hydrated as I work outside AND when I am inside reading my books or crocheting afghans for my grandkids.  I have found that when I have an urge to see if the food fairy has brought me some goodies since the last time I browsed,  I instead take a long drink of my water, the urge to snack is much easier to ignore.


The hardest part of this journey is knowing that since it has taken me a long time to put on this extra weight, it is going to take some time to lose it!  If you are like me, I want the extra weight off yesterday!  I remember the story of the tortoise and the hare…slow and steady wins the race.  I am letting my clothes let me know how well the weight is coming off and that is also a change for me.  I have been a scales junkie…letting the scales determine how my day would go. Yea!  I lost a pound…a great day!  Woe is me, no weight loss or even a gain!  My day carries a black cloud!  I am not going to let my diet decide how my day will go!

Thus, begins my diet journey.  I’ll keep you posted.  Share with me your favorite diet “tricks” and lets be kind to ourselves together!!



TpT Makeover Challenge!

This week I have answered a challenge issued by Third in Hollywood, Teach, Create, Motivate,  Sparkling in Second Grade, and Peppy Zesty Teacheria to makeover my store, my blog and my products!

When I first started at Teacherspayteachers, I was unsure and nervous about how my work would be seen by other teachers.  I didn’t have a lot of money for graphics and fonts so I made do with what I had.  Well, with two years under my belt, I knew it was time to ramp up my products and hopefully catch the eyes of more teachers looking for products and activities.  This challenge has come at the perfect time…I have retired from public school teaching and moved to an independent school.  I am revamping my teaching, activities and lessons, so why not do the same to my Teacherpayteacher store also?

Here’s my response to the first challenge:  “My End of Year Memory Book” was first made as a quick idea for my students, but as often happens with things done quickly, the end result was not a true example of what my products were about.  I have changed my graphics and added more pages to my book.  Students can now write memories about their resource/specials classes and as with yearbooks, can choose their smartest, funniest, and tallest classmates to mention just a few of the memories.    Take a look….if you like what you see, here is the link to my store…




Metric Manipulative

Part of my math curriculum was teaching my 5th graders about the metric system. Now, I am may be dating myself big time, but I don’t remember learning about the metric system until I took Chemistry my junior year of high school! I must confess, also, that I did not do well at all in mastering the system…I flunked the test. So, when presented with having to teach my elementary students, I was racking my brain for ways to help them master the concepts.

I decided my students needed a visual manipulative to make the metric system more hands on for them…They needed to master the metric prefixes AND have an understanding of each of the prefixes and how they related to each other.
So…VOILA!!! I had my students create this quick reference…


I had my students write down the meaning of each of the prefixes on the back of each of the prefix cards.  Finally, both my students AND I had a better understanding of the metric system.  Where were these kinds of things when I was taking Chemistry!?  LOL

My Favorite Thing For Back To School!

I am a part of a group of bloggers who are sharing their favorite go-to item for back to school.

My first thought, when it came to blogging about my favorite go-to items for back to school, was I need them all!  How can I narrow down my goodies to just one or two things?  How could I pick?  So I gave my list a hard look and chose my MUST HAVE favorite!

My flash drive is my favorite, can’t live without it,  back to school MUST have!  It carries my lesson plans, activities, and any other educational items I might need,  in a tiny item that is no bigger than my thumb.  I remember a time when, if I came across an activity or an idea that I might use in a future lesson, a copy would be made, put into a folder and that folder was labeled and  put into a file cabinet.  I would have to remember where that activity or lesson was located and pull it out to be copied.  It would be put on my desk (the less said about that, the better!).  I would then have to copy my chosen activity or worksheet.  That’s a LOT of remembering…not my strongest suit! Too often, the activity or copies would be lost in the “dark” area known as MY DESK!   As I would pack up for the summer, I might run across the folder, “Oh, I totally forgot about this!”  and back into the cabinet it went for next year and my remembering process would have to  start all over again!

Or how about this scenario…I would see an excellent resource on the Internet years ago and I would have to print it out…See above for what would happen next!  When I was first shown a flash drive and how to use it, I thought I had died and gone to heaven!  No more remembering papers or folder labels; I could search my flash drive for what I needed!  Not only that, I could simply create folders and put my ideas and activities in them.  No more papers to carry, file in a cabinet, or lose! No more forgetting copies,either.  I could simply plug in that wonderful little tool and make copies on my home or classroom computer.  My flash drive is almost the assistant I don’t have anymore!

My biggest school panic is when I cannot find my flash drive!  I kid you not, every night while school is in session and before I go to bed, I make sure I put my flash drive into a particular pocket in my purse, after I have finished working with it!!  I am not even that careful with my classroom key!  While school is still a few weeks off for me, I know I will be walking in prepared just about anything, thanks to my flash drive!

Be sure to check out the links below for many opportunities to win gift cards and also read what other teachers are sharing about their favorite back to school items.  Happy reading!!!

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Staying Busy!

I am one of the many Southern teachers who have been at home this past week due to bad weather conditions.   I have been pretty productive in my time at home…ELA lesson plans completed three weeks out, dishes actually put into the dishwasher instead of on the counter, and several loads of clothes washed, dried, folded, and most importantly, put away!

I have also been productive with my Teacherspayteachers store.  I had several requests to add to one of my best selling products, Non-Fiction Text Feature I Have, Who Has? activity.  So, with my time at home, I added 8 more text features to my game.  I am very excited about my revisions, so I hope you all will check out my new and improved product.

Thoughts on Paper

I was looking for a way to share the thoughts of some great writers and thinkers with my students.  Too often, the person behind the great thought is overlooked.  So I found 18 great quotes that I wanted to share with my fifth graders and at the same time I also wanted give my students a look at the folks behind the quotes.  I created “Thoughts On Paper” to that end.  It’s one of my newest products in my Teacherspayteachers store. Not only will your students have a chance to respond to questions about the quote but they will also learn a bit about the author or speaker.   Just click on the picture below.   Check it out and let me know what you think.  Be sure to download the preview!

Thoughts On Paper

Word splashes!

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I am always looking for new ways to engage my students as they read throughout the day.  I was looking for a way to make reading about the early explorers and the colonies that sprang up in early America.  I had a “Duh!” moment as I remembered word splashes!

Word splashes are posters of words that I choose from an article I want to read with my students.  I write the words in all directions and colors.  The words can be angled, vertical, or horizontal.  The words can be shaped in any way the writer wants to draw them.   The students then use the words as clues and try to guess what the article might be about.

My students this year need a lot of modeling and practice.  I had them use an article  that we had already read about the Renaissance and had them choose words they felt were important and I wrote them on my Smartboard using all kinds printing and angles.  I, then, gave each table of students a section of their Social studies.  They had to choose the important words and put them on construction paper.  The rest of us then had to figure out what section of the lesson was being shown in the word splash.

They jumped on the assignment like a chicken on a June bug!  Without realizing it, the students read and re-read their section and were discussing what words were most important.  The conversations I heard as I walked the room were on target and focused.   I am including examples from the class.    Try it with your class and let me know how it goes!!!

A Shameless Plug!!!

Hi folks…

Long time no blog…I have been spending the past few weeks getting my room in shape.  I will be posting before and after pics in a future blog.  I have streamlined my furniture and I really like the new look.

As you can see in the title, I am writing a shameless plug!!!  I have a TeacherspayTeachers( TpT) store as you can see the link on the left side of my blog.  If you are a teacher, know a teacher, mother/father to a teacher…well, you catch my drift.  If you don’t Facebook, Pinterest, (the limit of MY social media), then you may not know about the upcoming BACK TO SCHOOL  sale at my TpT store.

Aug. 18-19 are the dates for this awesome sale!  All my products will be discounted 20% AND if you use the promo code BTS13, TpT will give my products an additional  8%!   So what’s in it for you…my best selling product, I Have, Who Has Text Features activity, will be only $1.44!

Check out my products and save!





So there it is, my shameless plug!  Check out my products and wishlist what you want to buy starting Aug. 18!  Happy shopping!


Pirates and Morning Work!

I am beginning to get my teacher thoughts in order.  I go back to school Aug. 19, so it is just right around the corner.  This year I won’t be blocking for math, science and ELA.  It has been a loooong time since I kept my homeroom class all day.  If you are not familiar with blocking, a second teacher and I traded classes.  She taught math and science to my students while I taught ELA to her students and then we traded back our classes and did the same subjects with our own students.  That won’t be happening this year, so I am looking for ways to integrate all the subjects.

Right now I am putting together a pirate unit that I have had in the back of my head for quite a few years.  We will be doing close reads about pirates in ELA lessons and solving pirate math problems.  Here in North Carolina, we are in the midst of hurricane season, so we will be learning about latitude and longitude as we track any hurricanes that might come up the Atlantic Ocean.  We will also be investigating force and motion…I just haven’t quite worked out a pirate slant for that.  Perhaps look at pulleys as pirates used them to raise and lower sails.

I am also trying to figure out how to make morning work more meaningful for my students.  I have seen ideas on PInterest (I am a big fan and have many boards if you want to check them out!)   Our students are pulled in many directions; breakfast in the cafeteria, safety patrol, student council, recycling club.  Morning work often becomes homework as a result, which has always seemed a bit unfair.  There are also students who are unable to get to school on time. Morning worksheets become homework for them, also.

My thought is to create a binder with a ziplock bag of manipulatives.   In the bag would be flash cards (addition, subtraction to begin with).  I don’t want my fifth graders using their fingers to count out subtraction and addition…they need to know these facts as well as multiplication and division facts.  I will also put their spelling words for the week in the bag.  I might also have a deck of cards for some place value games I will have in my class.  My hope is that students will work with a partner in that time from 7:15-7:45 am and improve their math and spelling skills.  I want morning work that will engage my students and be meaningful at the same time.

Any ideas to go along with what I have in mind, feel free to leave me a comment.


Classroom Set Up!

School starts for me in less than a month and I am actually getting excited…am I sick or what?  I am rearranging my room and I am really anxious to get in my room and get set up.  My tables will be set in a “U” shape around the edge of my room with a large open area in the middle.

For the past few years, my 6 tables had been arranged in two rows of 3 tables perpendicular to the Smartboard.  My change came about at the end of last year.  Our annual 5th grade picnic had to be brought inside due to rain.   To accommodate my students and keep the picnic “feel”, we pushed all the tables to the edges of the classroom and everyone hung out in the middle.   At the end of the day, the students asked if we could keep the tables arranged that way for the last full day of school, which was the next day, and I agreed.

My room was going to be used for a camp for rising 5th graders the week after school was out.  The teachers who would be using my room loooooved the way my room had been “arranged”  from the day before.  They tweaked it a bit and called me in to see it and I was very excited.  So of course, we grabbed my principal and showed her.  She, too, loved the feel of the new arrangement and on top of that, suggested that a new larger rug be bought for my classroom!

My plan with this arrangement is that I will move from group to group when it comes to guided reading time.  Students will be rearranged at tables into their small guided groups during reading and I will move.  Groups will be working on activities at the other tables or other places like on the carpet,  while I move and meet with my different groups.  The table groups will ebb and flow depending on their needs and comprehension of skills.

So here I sit writing about my room set up.  Any thoughts about your room set up?  Do you have desks or tables?  I am also thinking about what to have on the table as far as shared table supplies.  What do you have for your groups?  Do the supplies stay on the table or on a nearby shelf?   Let me know!