2012 Resolutions and a New Year's Freebie

30 December 2011
And the parties keep coming ... I'm linking up to Mor's 2012 Resolutions Party over at A Teacher's Treasure.  I'm never very good at keeping my resolutions, so maybe my resolution should be to keep my resolutions ... does that count as one???  Mor's going to try to keep us accountable for our resolutions, so that should help, right?

So, here goes...


  • I think I mentioned this one before - I MUST try to keep the piles off my desk - I swear I could lose a student in some of my piles.  I WILL clean off my desk at least once a week (probably during independent reading time on Fridays).
  • I will try to mark and return completed work in a more timely fashion.  I start off so well at the beginning of the year, and then ... well, you know the story.  I must use my prep time better to get through the work (good thing I moved my coffee maker into my room - less trips to the staff room may help me with this resolution).
  • I will keep learning new ways to incorporate foldables into my math journals.  In September we started out with 2 or 3 entries a week, but in the last month or so, we've been lucky to get one in every two weeks.  I know things get busy, but the kids (and I) really enjoy them, so I must stick to a stricter schedule.  Maybe I can make a foldable schedule ;).
  • Remain positive.  Instead of griping about the seemingly impossible amount of things administrators want us to incorporate into our classroom programs, I need to remember the things that I am doing well.  It's OK to give myself a pat on the back once in a while, instead of stressing about the things I should (could?) be doing better.
  • I am embarrassed to admit I'm often told, "I don't know how you do it all!".  To which I always respond, I don't do it all - not even close.  I do seem to have a little more time than others because ...  I am a TERRIBLE housekeeper.  AND.I.MEAN.TERRIBLE.  You know that show, Hoarders?  Well, it's not that bad yet, but I worry it might come to it.  I MUST find some sort of way to start organizing more in my house.  I know I have to start small so that I actually stick with it.  I'm thinking a 15 minute timer, with all 5 of us in the house cleaning for that time, might be a start.
  • I want to become a healthier ME!  Not just losing weight (although I'd like to lose about 40 pounds), but I also need to strengthen my core.  My back has been a huge issue the past two years, and I'd like that to be part of my past.  I've done pilates in the past and really enjoyed it, so I might start there.
  • Cook more through the week.  Lately we've become take-out junkies (which I hate for my kids).  But I get home so late, it seems an impossible task to cook dinner.  I want to start planning better and using my slowcooker more - I've pinned so many great recipes, it's time to put some of them to the test.

Whew ... uh oh ... I'm feeling a little overwhelmed ... but I can do it - I HATE backing down from a challenge.

Secondary Solutions

Speaking of New Year's Resolutions, Kristen over at Secondary Solutions has made it her New Year's Resolution to bring more awareness to middle school and high school blogs.  She is obviously one who gets started on her resolutions immediately, as she has already started a blog party.  Go on over and take a peek.  Link up your blog, or find some new blogs to follow.  Enjoy!!!

Lastly, I've got a freebie for those of you with SMARTboards.  This is a fun New Year's Resolution activity I created for my students last year.  It is a koosh ball activity (but we've used bean bags, beanie babies, basically anything that won't damage the board) full of questions for students about their resolutions.  It's a great first day back activity.  Just click on the image to download it from my TpT store.  

Happy Friday!  (I think ... isn't it great how you can lose track of the days of the week during holidays???)

Top 11 of 2011

29 December 2011

My oh my - am I ever enjoying the holidays!!!  So much so, I'm barely thinking about school (although I have started to work on my next writing workshop unit - sorry, it's long so overdue).  I've also been enjoying catching up on a little blog reading ... still so thankful for the wonderful ideas shared out there.  In my blog land travels, I stumbled across this fantastic linky party - and because I love holiday parties, I'm linking up to Hadar and Kristin's 11 in 11.   Here goes ...

11.  Favourite Movie You Watched:
I can barely remember what I watched yesterday (although I'm sure it had something to do with Dora or Strawberry Shortcake), but I recently watched two great movies that I had been wanting to see - I put off watching them because I'm a good girl, and must read the books before I watch the movies (even if I end up disappointed in the end).
This week I watched Water For Elephants and The Help.  I did find I enjoyed the book Water For Elephants more than the movie, but I thoroughly enjoyed both the book and the movie for The Help.

10.  Favourite TV Series:
I have to admit it - I'm a total Gleek (much to my husband's chagrin).  LOVE it, and yes, I totally sing along.  I also love The Big Bang Theory and Raising Hope - of course, with hockey season on, my husband has taken over the TV, and I'm watching my shows from the PVR.

9.  Favourite Restaurant:
I love great Italian food, and we have a wonderful little Italian restaurant in town that I don't get to visit nearly enough.  If you asked my kids, they'd say their favourite restaurant is Boston Pizza or Wacky Wings, so that's where we usually end up going.

8.  Favourite New Thing I've Tried:
Hmmmm ... well, my new iPad, definitely ... and setting up my ereader under the ELMO for read alouds ... and blogging ... and Pinterest ... it's been a year of technology for me.  I've also really excited about the foldable math journals I started with my students this year - it's the first time we've all been really excited doing math journals.

7.  Favourite Gift I Received:
I'm going to have to say my remote car starter - it's not installed yet, but I can't wait.  I'm looking forward to getting into a toasty warm van even when it's 30 below outside (yes, I said 30 below - I'm in Northern Ontario, remember?).  I think it will soon become a favourite of my husband's too, when I don't send him out to start my van when it's 30 below outside.  ;)

6.  Favourite Thing I Pinned:
Oh my - I have over 1200 pins, and LOVE all of them.  I think one of my early favourites were the crate stools I ended up making for the classroom.  My students LOVE them, and I have the coolest portfolio storage in the whole school!  Oh wait - I also LOVED the melted crayon art ... and the rolo cookies ... and the cheddar ranch bread ... and the foldable ideas ... YIKES!  It's just too hard to choose.

5.  Favourite Blog Post:
I really enjoyed the week of pinterest-inspired crafts I did this summer.  SO.MUCH.FUN!!!  I also really like the response I get from my Math Journal Sundays and Friday Art Features.  My students really love that I showcase their work, and get so excited to see whose work I chose for the posts.  My personal favourite has to be "The Perfect Gift" and "The Perfect Gift - Part 2" - (my last two posts) - Elizabeth is still proudly carrying her book around.

4.  Favourite Accomplishment:
Well, blogging would definitely be on this list.  I didn't think I'd have the time, and I didn't think I'd have the computer expertise, but I'm managing both and have learned so much through this process.  I was also so proud to be asked to join Teaching Blog Addicts (definitely a happy dance moment for me).  I was also so very excited to completely surpass the TeachersPayTeachers goals I set for myself.  Oh - and I'm not sure if many of you remember this, but way back last spring I confessed that I had never read a Harry Potter book - your responses convinced me to give them a try, and I'm happy to announce I bought the set for my oldest daughter, we read a chapter every night, and we are now half way through the third book ... and I am hooked!  

3.  Favourite Picture:
Again - so many to choose from ... I would love to get a DSLR camera this year, so I can keep taking more pictures.  My sister took our family portraits this fall and she did a fabulous job - my absolute favourite would have to be this one:

2.  Favourite Memory:
Well, it's only from a few days ago, but I'll always remember giving Elizabeth the copy of the book I made for her - her reaction was priceless!  I also loved the family trip we took this summer and our visits to the science museums.  Our annual summer trips to Pebble Beach are also a favourite - the kids have such a blast!  (OK - this is one of my favourite pics, too).

1.  Goals for 2012:
Well, the big one is a healthier me.  I've got to lose a bit (a lot) of weight in order to keep my back healthy (I DO NOT want to go off work with another back issue this year).  My goal for my classroom is to limit my classroom "piles".  I WILL clean off my desk and reshelve all books and supplies once a week.  And my goal for my family is to continue to make and share wonderful memories - planning a trip to Disneyland once school is out this summer.  

I hope all of you have a fabulous and rewarding New Year.  Best wishes to all!


The Perfect Gift - Part 2

26 December 2011
I hope everyone is enjoying their holidays, and that they're filled with love and relaxation.  We've had 3(!!!) busy Christmas celebrations in the past two days, so I'm looking forward to some down time today.  Can you say family game day?!?

I wanted to thank-you for all the lovely comments made about the book I "published" for Elizabeth.  It was truly a hit with her, and my favourite Christmas memory.  She brought it with her last night to dinner at my mother-in-law's house, and is already making plans to bring it my parents' house.  (You can see in the pictures that she's wearing the Christmas ribbon pajamas I made for the girls - they turned out so cute!!!)

Happy Holidays from my family to yours!!!  Happy Monday!


The Perfect Gift

22 December 2011
Just over a week ago, my oldest daughter was hard at work on a new short story.  She was so into writing this story that I think she spent hours in her bedroom.  When she finally finished, she proudly read me her story, closed the notebook, and said, "This story is so good I think it should be published!"  How cute is that!!!  I told her I thought her story was amazing, but in order to be published, she would need to come up with some illustrations for her story.  So upstairs she went, and hours later she emerged, illustrations in hand.

And then I got an idea ... a fabulous idea ... this mom got a wonderful, fabulous idea.  I WOULD publish her book.  I've used picaboo to make photo books (I try to make an annual photo book, but I'm a few years behind), so I decided to use it again to make her book.  I took photos of all her pictures, typed up the story (the "teacher me" was fighting the "mommy me" to fix up a few things, but the mommy me won out, and except for fixing a few spelling mistakes, I left the story exactly how she wrote it), and added some Christmas scrapbook paper and embellishments to fancy it up (it ended up being just under 20 pages - including the "About the Author" page).  I ordered it the second I finished it, but was so afraid I wouldn't get it before Christmas (even with expedited shipping, it wasn't due to arrive until December 26th).  BUT ... it came yesterday!  YAY!!!  I brought it to my school today to share with the staff and my class, and it was a hit!  I'm so excited - I know this will be such a special gift for Elizabeth (and such a treasured memento for myself) ... and now my little eight-year old can truly say she is a published author - LOVE it!!!  And the best part - she has absolutely no idea.

Happy Thursday!!!  (just one more (full) day until holidays!!!)


Covered in Glitter - Tuesday Art Feature

20 December 2011

I thought I'd throw in one more art feature before Christmas.  I'm sitting here on my couch, finally relaxing (thinking I need a coffee and Baileys), covered from head to toe in glitter.  I guess it's an occupational hazard this time of year ... good thing I like a little "bling" in my life.

We're hard at work on our Christmas craft / parent present right now in the classroom.  We're making subway art coasters.  We started out by creating subway art (with a Christmas theme) on a square piece of blank paper (full size blank paper, cut into a square).  Students were free to add any words or pictures they wanted, but I did encourage them to use as much of the page as possible.

I then took these squares and reduced them on the photocopier to just under 4 inches (reduced to 43% on my photocopier).  I made 4 copies of each student's square, and the students cut out the smaller squares so I could make one copy with all four smaller squares on it (I left the cover of the photocopier open so the background would be black so the students could see exactly how big their squares were).

They then coloured in these squares using sharpies (or any other waterproof marker).  Many students also chose to lightly colour the background with a pencil crayon.

After we cut out the finished squares, we used mod podge to glue them onto our 4 x 4 tiles.  These were just plain white 4" ceramic tiles that I purchased from a home improvement / hardware store for 19 cents a tile.  I added silver glitter to the mod podge (I poured about a tablespoon of glitter right into the mod podge bottle, and gave it a good stir).  I have never done this before, but it worked perfectly - what's a Christmas craft without a little (or lot of) glitter?!?  To apply the mod podge, we used foam brushes from the Dollar Store.

We did 4 coats of mod podge altogether on the tops of the coasters - letting each coat completely dry before adding the next.  We then gave them a spray with clear varnish (also purchased from the home improvement store), added some felt pieces to the underneath of the tile so they wouldn't scratch any surface they were put then, and then we wrapped them up for the kids to give as a gift.  It's a great little gift, and the kids are so proud of them!  I think they're doing a fantastic job - here are a few from my class:

Because the 4 coats of mod podge (and the drying of the mod podge) could be difficult to complete all at the same time with a class of 28, I set up a small 4 person table in the classroom we used as an art station over 2 days.  We continued with our school day as usual, but when students were finished their work, if there was an available spot at the art station, students could slip back to the table to put a quick coat of mod podge on their tiles.  It worked perfectly, all students finished over the 2 days with minimal interruptions to our regular school day and school work.

  • 4" ceramic tiles (we used 4 per student)
  • mod podge (we used 2 bottles for a class of 28)
  • silver glitter (or any light color)
  • clear varnish spray paint
  • thin sharpie markers (or any waterproof, permanent marker)
  • standard white paper
  • scissors
  • access to a photocopier
  • pencil and eraser
  • felt squares (glued onto the back - one square for each corner, or one larger square to cover the whole tile)


Math Journal Sundays

18 December 2011
Only one more week until Christmas!!!  And that's about all I'm going to say about it, because if I really stop to think about how close it is, the panic WILL set in ...

photo of Types of graphs math journal entry @ Runde's Room
So instead, I'm going to focus on my newest addition to our math journals.  We are deep into our Data Management unit, and I'm desperately trying to finish the unit before our break starts on Friday ... (OK - now I've done it, the panic is starting ... breathe deeply).  We've had a lot of fun with this unit, and I've been trying to incorporate a lot more three-part lessons and Bansho presentations into this unit - with some good success, might I add.  Stay tuned for an upcoming post (I'm hoping this week if I can keep the panic at bay) on my three-part math lessons and Bansho presentations. Anyhow, we did this little foldable this week.  The four main graphs we focus on are:  bar graphs, line graphs (broken and continuous), scatter plot graphs, and circle graphs.  For this foldable, we folded our paper into thirds, and cut the bottom and top third into four equal strips.  We wrote the four graph names on the top of each strip.

photo of Types of graphs math journal entry @ Runde's Room

Underneath the first flap, we then wrote what each graph is best used for.  For example:  "Bar graphs are used to show amounts or the number of times a value occurs.  They make it easy to see the differences in the data compared."

I think this little reference will really help my students when they have to justify why they have chosen a particular graph to display their data.

photo of Types of graphs math journal entry @ Runde's Room

Underneath that, we drew a quick example of what each graph looks like.

I think this is my favourite foldable so far ...

Happy Sunday!!!  I've got a busy one planned - my nephew's third birthday party, finishing the props for our school Christmas Concert on Wednesday (of course, I volunteered to create and direct that - with all my spare time, you know ;)  ), still trying to finish my ribbon Christmas Tree PJs (see below post - pleased to announce I only have 1/2 of one shirt to go), get some more present wrapping in (ran out of wrapping paper and tape), and do a craft of some sort with my girls ... YIKES!  (Breathe deeply).  Here's hoping the hubby takes over the laundry duty for the day ... fingers crossed.


Ribbon Christmas Tree

14 December 2011
The past few days I've been spending my evening hours a little differently.  I've taken a break from the usual school work (trying really hard to get everything done during school hours), and I've been sewing.  Yes, sewing ... I'm finding it hard to believe, too.  I've been working on Christmas pajamas for my 3 little girls.  I saw the cutest T-shirt on Pinterest a while back (based on those ribbon Christmas trees), and knew I wanted to make it for my girls.  I had a hard time finding plain white shirts for all 3 girls in their sizes, so I opted for a larger size, and decided to turn them into pajamas - I just need to add a pair of leggings and I'll have the cutest matching pajamas for all of them.  

LOOK what I made!!!  How cute is that?  I've finished one and a half shirts so far - one and a half to go ...

And, in case you need a laugh after school today (I know I did), here is a picture of the gingerbread "man" my sweet little four year-old niece made (very lovingly and carefully) for her daddy while at a Christmas party this weekend!  I don't know how my sister kept a straight face!!!

Happy Wednesday!!!


Monday Art Feature

12 December 2011

I usually do my art features on Friday, but I left my camera at school this weekend (so disappointed), and I didn't want to wait until this Friday, so a Monday Art Feature it is!

We've been discussing lines and designs quite a bit during our art classes.  Every year I have done some sort of art project featuring lines and designs, but when I saw this crazy cool hand art, I knew I had to do it with my class this year.  I've done a lot more art with my class this year than I have in previous years.  I LOVE teaching art, so I've been happy to do so, but this year it is a necessity.  I have a very difficult class this year (many academic and behaviour issues), and although they're coming along, we still have a lot of work to do.  I have found (completely by happy accident), that a bit of art first thing in the morning totally calms these students down, and sets the tone for the rest of the day.  YAY!!!  It also gives students something to work on for the rest of the week, eliminating some of the "I'm done - what do I do now?"  

For this lesson we started our discussing different types of lines and designs.  I drew some of the blackboard, and we looked for different examples in art we have previously completed in our art portfolios.  I also displayed this poster I found here.

We started out by tracing our hands in pencil.  Students then divided their hand into smaller sections (still using the pencil).  They then had to fill their hands in with a variety of lines and designs.  I told students to not have two of the same colours touching, nor two of the same designs.  We used extra fine sharpies to complete this art.  I bought two packages of colour markers (10 packs) and two packages of black (12 packs).  I kept them in glasses at the front of the room, and as students finished with one colour, they returned it to the glass and took a different colour.  This system worked out quite well for us.  When students had completed their hands, they started on the black and white background.  Same instructions, but this time they could only use the black sharpies.

I LOVE how these turned out, and I LOVE how proud my students are of their art.  I had to let them know that their teacher is JUST as proud of them.  :)

Happy Monday!!!  (9 days left until Christmas break ... I think I can, I think I can).


A Pinteresting Sunday

06 December 2011
I had the pleasure of planning and enjoying a fun family day on Sunday ... well that is, at least until my daughter's supper time soccer game.  Oh well, I'll take what I can get.  I've been pinning so many fantastic holiday ideas, I couldn't wait to try some of them out.

We awoke to find our elf, Eddie, causing some mischief in the fridge.  At first the girls were a little worried they couldn't find him anywhere, but when my oldest went to get the milk for breakfast, she erupted into giggles.  Priceless!  I can't believe there are entire websites devoted to the Elf on the Shelf, but I'm having a blast looking through all the pictures.

For lunch I made my girls a "Silly Food Saturday" with a reindeer theme.  My sister makes these fabulous "Fun Food Fridays" and posts pictures on her blog every week.  My daughters follow these lunches with envy, so every once in a while, I give in and make a "Silly Food Saturday".  They appreciate it so much, it totally makes me feel guilty I don't do it more often.

Then it was on to our craft.  I pinned some similar to this a while ago (in case you haven't noticed, I have a slight snowman obsession).  I thought they looked totally do-able for my grade 5/6 class, but I always try these kinds of crafts out on my own girls first.  If they experience success, I know every member of my class will.  Plus, it gives me the opportunity to trouble shoot any potential problems.  Well, I'm happy to announce these went off without a hitch!  The hardest thing was convincing my girls to be patient while the paint dried, but thankfully, even the paint dried quickly.  I picked up these flower pots from the dollar store (3 for a dollar), and an embellishment kit (I think it was for making cards).  Some of the snowman are sporting some fancy pipecleaner and pompom earmuffs.  The toques were made out of old sweaters my little one has outgrown (I cut a bit off the bottom of each arm).  I have plenty of paint on hand.  We used Q-tips to make the eyes and mouth - something I totally recommend - even my three year-old did a fantastic job!  I LOVE these little guys - and I'm so proud of my little girls - these little snowmen were totally completed without my help (well, except for a little glue-gunning).  My three year-old did the one of the left, mine are the next two, my eight year-old did the fourth one, and my five year-old did the last one.  So much fun!  I can't wait to do this craft with my class on the last day of school.

We finished off our day with some cookies and hot chocolate.  I made these Rolo Cookies that I pinned from the Six Sisters' Stuff blog.  Oh my word - they were AMAZING!!!  (I say "were" because they're all gone now - must make more).  They were incredibly simple to make - the hardest part was keeping my girls from eating all the rolos before I got them into the cookies.

What a fantastic day!  I'm already searching through my pinterest boards for new "pinspiration" for next Sunday!

On the Fifth Day of Christmas ...

04 December 2011
I'm SO excited to be hosting Day 5 of TBA's 25 Days of Christmas Gifts!!!  Here we go ... sing along ...

On the fifth day of Christmas, Runde's Room gave to me
     five (x ten) Christmas treats,
     four borrowed ideas,
     three pinterest boards,
     two Christmas freebies,
     and a Baileys recipe.

5.  Five (x 10) Christmas Treats:

Rachel Lynette, from Minds in Bloom, has put together a fantastic (free) Holiday ebook with over 50 Holiday tips and freebies from TeacherspayTeachers authors.  If you haven't downloaded your copy yet, be sure you do - and please share these ideas with other teachers in your building.  There's something for EVERYBODY!  Click HERE to download your copy from TeacherspayTeachers, or HERE to download from google docs (click on file and download).  ENJOY!

4.  Four Borrowed Ideas:

I've borrowed four fabulous holiday ideas from Meet The Dubiens.  Jill (who just happens to be my sister) has put together so many fabulous holiday ideas to keep you busy through the month of December - from fun food Fridays to hand made Christmas gifts.  Click on the pictures below to bring you to each post.  And if you do stop by, be sure to wish her a VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY today!

Adorable thumbprint Christmas ornaments (SO cute I think I'll be making a set for our tree).

Snowman cupcakes - how cute are these???  I LOVE anything with snowmen, so these are definitely on my to-do list.

And how cute would these little milk bottles be paired with the snowman cupcakes???

And perhaps my absolute favourite - her Ultimate DIY Holiday Gift Guide.  My nephew LOVES his lego table, and she has made an adorable Tea Party table for my niece.

3.  Three Pinterest Boards:

I've got a little pinspiration for you.  Here are my 3 holiday pinterest boards.  Click on the pictures to see my boards.

Holidays in the Classroom

Christmas Crafts

Christmas Baking

2.  Two Christmas Freebies:

Here are two of my Christmas Freebies.  If you haven't downloaded them yet, just click on the pictures to get your own copies.  ENJOY!

Christmas Cootie Catchers - so much fun!

Christmas Word Problems - Winter and holiday themed word problems to display over the projector or under your document camera.

1.  And a Baileys Recipe:

My perfect after dinner coffee in the winter (and perhaps Sunday morning coffee) has a shot of Baileys in it.  I've been wanting to make my own for a while, and yesterday I did it.  I couldn't test it out though, as I had to run my daughter to a Saturday night soccer game.  But yes, my Sunday morning coffee today was ... special!!!  I altered this recipe from a few recipes I had seen online.  Yummy!!!

I wish you all a VERY happy Sunday!!!  I've got a fun family day planned - finish decorating the Christmas tree, bake some cookies with my girls, and a snowman craft later this afternoon.  Good times!!!