Sunday, May 3, 2015

You Are Appreciated- Grab Box Giveaway!

Teachers, lots of people are using this week to say that they appreciate you, and it’s nice. But let me say this… I GET IT.

I know you get to school early or stay late on a regular basis. Or both.

I know you will spend nights lying in bed wishing there were something more you could do for that one kid.

I know you bring home a very full bag and feel at least a little guilty if you let it sit all night while you actually spend time with your family.

I know you will feel crushing defeat when your kids don’t get it, or a lesson falls apart- and yet, come back and try again the next day.

I know how the littlest moments of triumph make your day or your week.

I know a significant amount of your paychecks through the year will go towards something for your class.

I know you spend most of your TV time catching up on grading or cutting out laminated stuff.

I know you want to not worry about the tests, but you can’t help it.

I know you will spend at least part of your summer “off” scouring Pinterest for ways to make your classroom better next year, and then many unpaid hours actually making it happen.

I truly, truly get it.

As a teacher, you probably spend so much of your time doing things for the kids- but I’m teaming up with some other bloggers to do something nice for YOU.

teacher appreciation giveaway

I’m sending one lucky teacher a thank you “grab box” full of surprise goodies to help you make it to the end of the school year!

Reach for the starsNonsense Word Context Clues- Luckeyfrog's Lilypad

I’m including a flash drive of some of my favorite TpT resources, like my Reach for the Stars Fluency Folder, May Text Detectives- Find the Text Evidence  for 2nd grade and 3rd grade, and Nonsense Word Context Clues.

text detectives

You’ll even get a hard copy of Summer Fun! A Multisyllabic Word Game for Prefixes- ready for your students to play!

There’s more! I’ll send the winner a $25 gift certificate to TpT  right away so you get to take advantage of the TeachersPayTeachers sale on Tuesday, May 5 and Wednesday, May 6!

teacher appreciation sale

Finally, I’ll fill the box with some of my favorite things that I know other teachers will LOVE. I’m keeping them mostly a surprise, but I’ll share a few hints (and you might catch a few more on Instagram, too!)

      IMG_8575-001   IMG_9096-001   blair turner paper

Getting excited yet? You can enter to win my grab box in the Rafflecopter below. (Sorry, I can only ship this one within the U.S. and Canada!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Even better? Enter for the chance to win a grab box of goodies from some other teacher friends here:

Whether you win or not, THANK YOU for all that you do. I see your late-night grading, your hurried lunches, your creative plans, and your love for your students- and it makes me proud to share this profession with you!

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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Five for Friday- It’s Been Awhile!

What a week.

I am worn. out.

Here’s why:


1. We spent the weekend seeing two of our good friends (top right) get married! It was fun to get all dressed up and see people we hadn’t seen in years (like my old college roommate!)


2. Annnnd Monday morning, after about 10 hours of driving over the weekend, we got to start THIS.

On the plus side, I had my 10,000 steps for the day before lunch on Wednesday!

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3. This week we brought out some ‘real’ science containers. It was amazing how much my kids were instantly excited- even by things as simple as water dyed with food coloring.


4. More things that get kids excited to learn?  The Titanic- and any copies of primary sources, like this newspaper set from The New York Times that I got last year! Even though I teach science and social studies this year, every teacher has an RTI/ Enrichment reading group- so I (thankfully) still get to teach reading, and I get to choose our resources (like Polar the Titanic Bear) to make it engaging without having to worry about giving them a grade.


5. I sat down and put all of the weird end-of-the-year stuff on my planning calendars, and holy wow. With all that we have going on and us alternating science/ social studies with A/B days, I have ten lessons left to teach each class. TEN.


I’ll admit- we’re getting to that point of the year where my kids are like family. And by like family, I mean they love each other and I love them to PIECES, but some of us are starting to drive each other a little crazy. But, that said, we’re also at the point of the year where I FINALLY feel like we’ve got a groove going… and I’m not ready to let go of these kids yet!

I just counted and I think we have 24 days left.

Anyone else feel this way? I’m simultaneously excited for summer but sad that my time with these kids is coming to an end. It is just TOO SOON!

How many days do you have left?

{ I linked up with Doodle Bugs Teaching here.}
{Note: This post contains affiliate links.}

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Found the Gold! Freebie Hop

I don’t know about you, but I can’t believe St. Patrick’s Day has already come and gone! The members of A Spark of Inspiration have found the gold at the end of the St. Paddy’s day rainbow- and by gold, we mean FREEBIES!

Thanks to Sarah for sending you this way!

I’m sharing a little sample of a little-known pack in my store that’s actually one of my FAVORITES! Last year when I was teaching intervention, my kids would learn their short vowel sounds… and then the moment we learned about long vowel sounds, they forgot about the short vowels!

I designed a pack specifically for teaching long AND short vowel “o” sounds together- so students can practice deciding when to say each sound while decoding. You can try out a sample of it here!



Check it out by clicking here or on the image above!

Next, you’re headed to Megan from Mrs. Wheeler’s First Grade- where she’ll be sharing another freebie! Be sure you hop through before the leprechaun finds his gold again on the 21st!

Thanks for stopping by my blog! Hope you enjoy our springy surprises!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

EdExpo 2015 Top Ten

Last weekend, I had the awesome opportunity to work with EdMarket! Every year, they host an EdExpo full of hundreds of educational products.

This year, they invited about 50 bloggers to browse and give teachers’ perspectives!

Believe me when I say this room went on… and on… and on. It was a whirlwind, but I found some amazing things you’ll want for your classroom! I’ll share MY top ten with you soon, but all of the 2015 EdExpo bloggers compiled our Top Ten lists, and today I’m going to share them with you!

(Okay, to be fair- there were two ties. So there are actually TWELVE products!)


KAPLA Blocks from Kapla Tom’s Toys

I have to say- I was pleasantly surprised to see a number of companies aiming to give kids creative outlets and hands-on, play-based learning! These blocks are great in that they can be used simply- or, as you can see, used for some intensely innovative designs.


Cool Circuits from ScienceWiz


Electricity is always so fun to teach- but sometimes getting materials that are safe, fun, and durable can get to be very expensive. This set from Science Wiz teaches kids about circuits through puzzles, and the light-up factor makes them super engaging!


Circuit Sticker Books from Chibitronics


I was completely and totally in love with this set. The inventor took her love of paper crafting and combined it with her science and engineering passions, and came up with THIS. Using LED stickers (yes, STICKERS!)  and copper tape, kids can create nearly flat circuits. It was so unlike anything I’d ever seen, and so perfect for learning about electricity!


Pencil Grip series from The Pencil Grip

The wide array of grips this company had just blew me away. I loved seeing the different fun, squishy, sensory-friendly grips they had for every stage of writer!


Fiddle Focus Busy Fingers from Creative Educational Strategies & Services


If you’ve ever had a student who needs to fidget or has any kind of sensory needs, this is a thin foam block covered in four fabrics of different textures- perfect for velcro-ing under a student’s desk for a quiet, satisfying way to get the sensory wiggles out. (I’m super thrilled to be trying this out with some of my students already!)


Math Bands from Learn  In Style


Don’t you love finding a product created BY a teacher? These math bands help your students with skip-counting and multiplication. They simply start at the star and count around. Working on 7’s? Touch the star and then count 4 times to get to 7x4.


The F.U.N. Empty Number Line System from Learning Advantage

Have you ever struggled to get your students to connect one unit of math to the next? This open number line allows you to add to it through the year so students can see that 1/2 is the same as 0.5 and also the same as a visual fraction. I love that there are versions for different grade levels, too!


Education Kit from GoldiBlox

Known for making engineering girl-friendly, GoldieBlox makes a ton of innovative, creative kids’ toys with an engaging literacy component and LOTS of hands-on fun! The class set would be perfect for getting your kids creating and engineering- I would LOVE to have this in my science classroom!

Boinks Fidgets from Endless Possibilities, Inc.


You can see from the booth (and the host’s amazing earrings!) just how much FUN this company is. What I loved most were the fidgets (see the close-up top right). The woven plastic tube is sealed on both ends with a marble inside. I found myself fiddling with it the whole time we talked- without even thinking about it!


Say It! Game from FeliX Fun


I love games that you can explain quickly and get kids playing right away. This is a great game for building language skills- kids have to find a way to add their word in a sentence that adds on to the story the class is telling. My kids are already playing at indoor recess (and they don’t even realize they’re learning!)


The Reading Game

From the makers of Wordly Wise, a program for early vocabulary development. The game element keeps kids motivated, but the way this game fosters success with a few words at a time would make it especially powerful for those struggling readers in your room.



Touchtronic Letters (and Numbers) by Junior Learning

Have you ever wished iPad learning didn’t outright replace hands-on learning? These letters are an amazing way to do BOTH. These magnetic letters work hand-in-hand with the Touchtronic app, and as kids place the letters on the iPad screen, they can hear the sounds they make. Self-checking? Yes. Independent? Yes. Surprisingly affordable? YES!


So, where can you find these awesome products? Many of them can be found in local teacher stores near you- especially those that are part of EdMarket. You can search HERE to find a teacher store near you – perfect for checking it out in person before you buy!

I am really grateful to EdMarket for letting me see some of the fantastic new products in education today, and I can’t wait to share more with you about my favorites!

Which product would you be most excited to try in YOUR classroom?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

My Teacher Hero

I think most teachers can look back and remember at least one teacher who led them to where they are today. Can you?

my teacher hero logo

When I was in elementary school, I hated math. It was this series of random steps, it wasn’t creative, and I just plain had to work harder at it than any other subject.

Looking back, I wasn’t “bad” at math- but I thought I was.

In 7th grade, I started pre-algebra… and I was worried. To a math-hater, algebra is a scary word- and my teacher was pretty old-school.

We had timed tests to learn decimal equivalents of fractions. He taught mainly through lecture at the board. But Mr. Wall was more than that.

He pushed us to think and to see math as a puzzle. We weren’t following rote steps, but we were using what we knew and trying to problem solve. And it was okay if we weren’t getting it right so long as we were THINKING.

Maybe the best thing about Mr. Wall was that he knew us, and he made it clear he was there for us. If we were stuck or wanted help studying for a test, all we had to do was ask- and he would come early or stay late to help us study.

By the middle of the year, he had me- this previously math-shy kid who is NOT a morning person- arriving at school an hour early every Friday morning to work on math problems that felt near-impossible as part of MathCounts. I did it by CHOICE- because he’d made tackling a difficult problem and struggling through to get to an answer FUN.

The donuts (which I’m sure he bought with his own money) helped, too.  : )

He changed my view of math. I went on to learn math as high as calculus, and probably would’ve gone further if I had stayed a science major. And even better? I didn’t hate it anymore. I saw math completely differently- and I saw myself differently. I didn’t believe I was “bad at math” anymore, and learned that it was okay for something to feel difficult at first. And now when I teach math… I teach it so differently than I was taught.

And it’s all thanks to Mr. Wall.


I had MANY great teachers as a child, and I firmly believe that TEACHERS ARE HEROES. Does it mean we’re all perfect, or even all good? No. But I’ve known many, many teachers- and the vast, vast majority give so much more than they’re given in return. If you’re reading this (a teacher blog, most likely on your own time)- you are one of those heroes who goes above and beyond for kids.

my teacher hero logo 2

Thank you…

for giving hugs and encouragement and love to kids who might not otherwise get it.

for going in even when you’re sick because you don’t want to do sub plans.

for doing grading and planning on your weekends and snow days.

for thinking about your students when you’re off the clock.

for teaching so much more than academics.

for everything you do for the kids.

Someday, at least one of those students is going to remember you as their teacher hero. And even if they never write a blog post about you, you will be part of the reason they are who they are- and that, my friend, means you have absolutely made a difference.


TpT wants to thank you today- and I’m joining in. All items in my TeachersPayTeachers store Luckeyfrog  (including March’s Text Detectives Jr.) are 20% off.

You can save an extra 10% in any TpT store with the code HEROES.

It’s not enough- but I know this money usually comes out of your own pocket, and I hope this sale helps you pick out something to make your life a little easier!


For a little more inspiration, read about some of my friends’ teacher heroes- and share the inspiration with your teacher friends who need a little reminder of how awesome they are!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Spark of Inspiration Blog Hop

Happy weekend, teacher friends! If you’re new here, I’m Jenny, a 4th grade science and social studies teacher who loves integrating language arts across the curriculum. Thanks to Sarah from Sarah’s First Grade Snippets for sending you here!

Sarah's First Grade Snippets!

While I was in college, I started reading teacher blogs. I discovered a new world of learning and inspiration- and I quickly realized I wanted to be a part of this world.

Now that I’ve been blogging for a few years, I feel so fortunate to also collaborate with some of those amazing teachers from around the country.

If you’ve been a reader of our blog A Class*y Collaboration, we’ve updated the look and name to match exactly what we want to give you- A Spark of Inspiration!

A Spark of Inspriation

I know you may be thinking that reading another blog takes time- but this is a good one! To give you a taste of what you’ll find over there, here are photos from just a few recent posts:

Plus, if you live anywhere near me in Ohio, the weather is cold and snowy enough that staying in to read teaching ideas is pretty ideal! (Can you say wind chill of –20? Brr!)

2015-02-18 10.33.20

To thank you for checking out the new blog and to help ring in spring weather, each one of our authors is offering a quick freebie- and the chance to win some serious gift cards!

I’m sharing a sample of my newest resource that’s juuuust about ready for TpT- Text Detectives Jr.! Like my original Super Text Detectives series, your students color-code text evidence to answer comprehension questions… but the original set is written at about 3rd grade level (independent) , and the new Text Detectives Jr. sets are about a 2nd grade level! March’s full Super Text Detectives Jr. pack should be posted in my store by early next week- but you get a sneak preview!

Luckeyfrog's Lilypad- Text Detectives JR- March Sampler

The passages in TD and TD Jr. have similar content and similar questions so that you can use the two packs together for differentiation in your 2nd or 3rd grade class, too! Click on the picture to download your free sample passages!

You can read more about how I use them to teach my kids how to find text evidence here. When I was a reading specialist last year, my students LOVED these- and they really helped them learn, too!

2014-03-26 22.44.43

Thanks for stopping by my little corner of the Internet  : ) Be sure to check out each blog to grab some freebies and enter our giveaway… starting with Megan from Mrs. Wheeler’s First Grade!

a Rafflecopter giveaway