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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Bright Ideas- Post-It Races

Sure, we’ve all used Post-Its, and loved them- but today I’m sharing a way to use Post-Its that you might not have tried before!

Welcome to the April edition of the Bright Ideas! As always, this link-up is meant to help you discover some amazingly simple, absolutely free ideas… and some awesome new blogs, too!

bright ideas 2.001

Two years ago, my students were learning the names of the continents, and some were really struggling. Our map didn’t make it easy to read the continent names, so I made labels using Super Sticky Post-It Notes.

To practice identifying continents, we simply mixed up the Post-It notes and I challenged students to put them on correctly as quickly as they could. We called it the Post-It Place Race- and the idea could work for identifying continents, countries, states, etc.

This year, I started looking for ways to apply this kind of interactive practice with Post-Its in other ways. Some ideas:
  • matching vocabulary to definition
  • matching shape/ solid names to their pictures
  • matching color words to colors
  • matching number words to numerals
  • labeling parts of a book (cover, table of contents, title page, etc.)
  • labeling text features in non-fiction
  • labeling parts of a plant, cell, human body, etc. in science
  • labeling parts of a friendly letter
  • labeling or matching basic classroom nouns for ESL students
  • filling in “missing” spots on a hundreds chart or “missing” letters
  • ordering the days of the week, numbers, story sequences, etc.
  • fun test prep!
  • and… anything else you can think of!
This year I’m really enjoying using this strategy on an anchor chart- so it can hang in our room as a reference, but still be used for practice at a center, during whole group instruction/ review, or with small groups who need extra reinforcement of a concept.

I do recommend the Super Sticky notes because they tend to hold up a little better to repeated placing and removal : ) but other than that, the possibilities for this simple teaching strategy are endless!

I’d love to hear your ideas for using Post-It Place Races in your classroom!
Interested in more ideas to simplify, organize, and inspire your teaching? I’d love to connect with you on Bloglovin, Facebook, and Instagram : )

Make sure you browse the rest of the Bright Ideas Link Up below, too! 150 bloggers are sharing helpful ideas, labeled by title and grade level to help you find the perfect ones for YOUR classroom. Read, pin, and get inspired for the home stretch!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Spring Blogger Meet-Up Hop!

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting over 40 other teacher bloggers at  the beautiful French Lick Springs Hotel!
I grew up in Indiana and I’d heard of French Lick, but I had no idea these historic resorts were so gorgeous! (And décor for our meet-up being sponsored by Schoolgirl Style didn’t hurt one bit!)
The French Lick Springs Hotel and the West Baden Resort in French Lick are over 100 years old, and have been restored to look every bit as beautiful as when they were first built. The detail and feel of the place was incredible! I would love to go back for a weekend getaway!
Even better than our beautiful surroundings, though, were the amazing teachers I met!
Of course, I was thrilled to see some friends I had met at an Indiana blogger meet-up the year before…
But I loved meeting more friends from Indiana (and nearby in the Midwest, like me) too! Here’s a shot of most of us after breakfast on Sunday.
indiana meetup
We gathered to share blogging tips, chat about teaching, and just plain have fun!
I got so much out of this! My top 3 takeaways:
  • Instagram (follow me here!) is a GREAT way to connect with other teachers and to let blog readers get to know your personal side! I am having so much fun taking snapshots of my days, but also seeing yours!
  • When it comes to blogging, set routines and stick to them. (Sounds simple, but it’s definitely an area where I need to improve!)
  • Be grateful. This year, I was so fortunate to get a teaching position. Even though I miss the classroom, hearing so many other teachers talk about the conditions in their schools (from 37 kindergarten students to a floundering new school to poverty and transiency and crazy co-workers)… well, let’s just say I came away grateful and renewed to love what I do and where I am right now!
After our lunch together, we had a teaching tool swap. Each blogger bought their favorite teaching tool! I brought some finger lights, like the ones in this picture…
finger lights 2
And received an amazing staple remover! If you have ever tried to use one of those claw staple removers on a bulletin board, you know how awful it is. But this one, being thin and smooth, easily slides under staples on a board and pulls them out seamlessly. I am so thankful that Stacey of Teaching Ever After thought to bring this to the meet-up!
What’s even more amazing? Holly of Mrs.  Ehle’s Kindergarten Connections did an incredible job of organizing this blogger meet-up and rounding up donations from a cast of all-star sponsors!
There was a giveaway of amazing prizes- and I won some beautiful classroom décor items from Creative Teaching Press! I am so excited to get these laminated and look for ways to use them in my classrooms- especially the chevron nameplates in my favorite color (teal!) and the cute hexagon labels to keep me organized!
We each came home with brand-new Scentos markers and pens (some of which haven’t even been released to the public yet, like these candy scented sets!)—and they smell so delicious! My students love them : )
French Lick Blog Meet-Up to Share
Kaeden Books sent a personalized sample of books for each attendee (even for someone like me, who teaches multiple grade levels!) A company that personalizes their donations for each attendee? I can only imagine what kind of personal attention you’d get if you were ordering for your school! (And the World War II graphic novel? AMAZING!)
We were also lucky enough to pick up an Erin Condren gift card, Jamberry nail wrap samples from Holly, and some resources from Crayola and SDE, too!
French Lick Blog Meet-Up to Share2
The Vera Bradley company was even kind enough to send a tote bag for EVERY person. Yeah, not even kidding. How generous of them to donate their beautiful bags! (And, let’s face it, what teacher doesn’t need more tote bags?)
French Lick Blog Meet-Up to Share1
Thank you to Holly for all her hard work, and to all of the companies who sponsored our meet-up. I have been sharing everything I brought home with my colleagues, and I am simply amazed at your generosity!
Even better? Many of the companies who sponsored our meet-up are offering YOU a chance to win prizes, too! Look what you can win at the end of our hop! : )
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Okay, enough gushing—keep hopping and enter for YOUR chance to win all this and MORE! Next in the hop…
Greg drove all the way up from Nashville to hang out with us, and he is every bit as personable and genuinely sweet in person as he seems on his blog!
Thanks for stopping by! Hop to Greg’s blog here:

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A Very Luckey Birthday Giveaway- Day TWO!

I am so excited to continue celebrating with you tonight!

Luckey birthday giveaway logo

This past week I’ve had the pleasure of trying out some beauty products from Perfectly Posh. Read on to find out how YOU can win free beauty products!

Shannon Peter is an Air Force wife and independent consultant for Perfectly Posh. If you’re like me, you’d probably never heard of this particular company. It’s like a lot of cosmetic and beauty companies in some ways, but here’s what makes them unique:

  • High quality ingredients- no soy or gluten fillers, no petroleum, no lanolin
  • Imports the very best ingredients- but then manufactures in the USA
  • Cruelty-free: no animal testing, and many products are vegan
  • Uses natural fragrances
  • Everything is under $25 and when you buy 5, you get the 6th FREE!
  • A focus on skin care and spa products to, well, “pamper” you! (So, less make-up, and more scrubs, lotions, soaps, moisturizers, bath salts, etc.)

The thing is, I’m a veeery low-maintenance beauty girl, and probably should take better care of my skin, so I jumped at the chance to try out some products- and Shannon was happy to oblige. She sent me the cutest bag in the mail with lots of samples inside!


Even the packing peanuts are environmentally friendly! Can you believe it?

I started with the Sea Witch face mask, which uses seaweed and kelp to clean your skin and help you detox. I loved that these little cards told me exactly how to use it and what it does!When I put it on, the blue-green color made me feel a little like Ursula…


But it made my face feel so soft, and my face didn’t feel greasy or oily at all, even in my trouble spots. I know if I used this even once a week, it would really help keep my face clear!

It did make my face kind of red at first, but my face reddens really easily (and the package warned that it can tingle or burn a little the first few times). I moisturized with some creamy Brazilian Bombshell body butter, though, and it felt a lot better!


My favorite, though? A few hours ago I used the Daily Grind Coffee Scrub on my hands. I don’t love to drink coffee, but I always like the smell- and I could tell this had actual coffee beans in it! Just a couple of minutes of scrubbing, and my skin felt so soft!


I smoothed some Big Fat Yummy Hand Crème on after the scrub, and I will absolutely be buying some of this stuff! It feels light and whipped as you smooth it on, but a little goes a long way.

The Lil’ Snarky scent is light and sweet, and unlike a lot of hand creams, this kept my hands soft without making them feel greasy and gross.  My hands have been so dry this winter, and the combination of the Daily Grind scrub and the Lil’ Snarky Hand Crème is making them feel amazing, even hours later.


I also got a chance to try the Big Fat Yummy Lips gloss in Raspberry Bang-Bang, and I just love the tint of it! My usual make-up routine is moisturizer, quick sweep of mineral powder foundation, a dash of bright eyeshadow, and mascara if I’m on time (just being honest here).

This will be the perfect way to add a little color to my lips without it being “too much” or too intense for my subtle make-up- but still has a little menthol to make them puffy and kissable. My husband noticed right away that I had something different on my lips!


Basically, I came away from my time sampling Perfectly Posh wanting to try and buy more! The products I used were high-quality and made my night a little happier- and we all deserve that sometimes!


Today, Shannon and I are giving you a chance to win the Apple of my Eye Lip Scrub and Bombinator Set—the perfect Teacher Appreciation gift that teachers will actually enjoy. Sugar lip scrub that smells (and tastes!) like apples, plus a fizzing Bombinator that pretty much makes your bathtub a relaxing oasis.

I know I get very, very tired of apple-shaped things that I can’t really use, but this nods to “an apple for the teacher” while also giving them some much-needed relaxation.  Perfect, right?

Enter below in the Rafflecopter and I’ll pick a winner this weekend!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Want to try some of these products yourself? I highly, highly recommend Shannon Peter! She was easy to communicate with, sent things fast, and even included personal touches like a thank you note and an email to check in and see how I was enjoying everything.  She really knows her products and she gave me perfect recommendations of what to try!


You can also pick up some of the apple-themed  Teacher Appreciation gifts for your kid’s teacher or your teacher friends! (Follow her on Facebook to catch current deals!)

If you live near her in Missouri, you may be able to meet up with her in person (and even host a party where you can try some products in person!), or you can order Perfectly Posh products online through her at this site.

Thanks, Shannon, for letting me try some of your amazing products!
(I may have had a little TOO much fun!)


P.S.-- I’m putting the finishing touches on Text Detectives April, so be sure you’re following on Facebook and Instagram to see when they’re finally up on TpT!  :)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Luckey Birthday Giveaway- Day 1

Guess what? Last week was my birthday- AND I hit 1000 followers on TpT,  my best month ever, and I am veeery close to 100,000 pageviews on my blog.

You all are AMAZING- and this is absolutely, definitely cause for celebration & thanks- so, today starts A Very Luckey Birthday Giveaway!

Luckey birthday giveaway logo

Today’s prize is for LOCAL readers in and near Cincinnati- and it’s a celebration of two things I love- music and Pixar movies!

I can remember when I first saw Toy Story.  How could you NOT love a story like that? How could any kid not love to imagine their toys coming to life and having adventures?

In my head, I can’t think of Toy Story without thinking of Randy Newman’s drawling You’ve Got a Friend in Me, and the second movie wouldn’t have made me cry like a baby if not for Sarah McLachlan’s haunting When She Loved Me.

Similarly, when I think of The Incredibles, I can’t help but hear the score- jazzy, syncopated music with wailing trumpets and saxophones. It just wouldn’t have felt like the same movie without it!

Looking back at Pixar’s films- Monsters Inc., Brave, Finding Nemo, Cars, Up, and more… well, let’s just say they’re amazing, and the music is absolutely a huge part of what made them so touching and entertaining.

The Cincinnati Pops- right here where I live!- are presenting “Pixar in Concert” this upcoming weekend. Along with playing music from Pixar’s 13 films, they’ll be showing clips of the movies (perfect for keeping kids engaged during the concert!)

If you’ve never seen the Cincinnati Pops, they play in one of the most gorgeous buildings in the Midwest- Cincinnati Music Hall.


(Photo by Tom Hamilton on Flickr)

The inside of the building features ornate details, sparkling chandeliers, and a beautiful, buzzing atmosphere.


The Pops and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra do all kinds of amazing events, like last year’s outdoor concert Lumenocity, where they used the façade of the building as a giant projection screen for a light show timed to live music. They just announced they’ll be offering it again this summer, and I could not be more excited!


(My picture is blurry, but I promise- it was VERY, very cool!)

I’ve seen the Cincinnati Pops a number of times, and they are always entertaining. The Pixar concert this weekend (April 4-6) is sure to be entertaining for adults and kids alike! Here, you can listen to the conductor John Morris Russell and some of the musicians talk about the concert:

So, if you’re within driving distance of Cincinnati and would consider making the trip  for their shows this weekend (Friday evening, Saturday evening, or Sunday afternoon)… please enter below for a chance to win FOUR FREE TICKETS to Pixar in Concert with the Cincinnati Pops!

You’ll even be able to choose which date you’d prefer to attend! Please see the terms and conditions in the Rafflecopter. Giveaway winner will be chosen at midnight EST on Thursday, April 3rd! (So you really only have tonight and tomorrow to enter!)


a Rafflecopter giveaway

A special thanks to the Cincinnati Pops for sponsoring this giveaway!

Tickets to The Cincinnati Pops Present: Pixar in Concert are on sale this week!

Kids’ tickets are only $10, and CSO/ Pops are even offering special ticket deals for Reds Opening Day this week! You can purchase tickets here at their website or by calling 513.381.3300 to talk with ticket sales representatives.

Not a local reader? No worries! I’ll have two more giveaways over the next two days! (Including April’s Text Detectives pack : )