I have been thinking about this April Fool's prank for about two years - no joke! I heard the idea for this somewhere and I really have no idea if it was a blog or conversation or friends of mine. If it was your original idea, let me know!

All I remember is that you have the kids go outside and try to call out for the lirpaloof bird, a special bird that can only be found on April 1st. {get it yet?} Of course, no such bird is ever found and after the kids spend a while calling for it, you let them in on the joke.  Lirpaloof is actually april fool spelled backwards! Ha, ha little kiddies - joke's on you! Then everyone laughs for just a few minutes at the appropriate volume and hysteria-level and quickly files into the perfect line and we return to the classroom for some very rigorous, hands-on, common-core, project-based learning activity where no one tries to get me back for the rest of the day. <--That last part may or may not be a complete pipe dream...

But  regardless of the outcome, I'm going to go on a lirpaloof hunt this year! If you want to join me, I've made a handout to legitimize my little prank. I made up all the stuff in the handout, like what the bird looks like and the whole carrot bit.
My plan is to read the passage together, then hand out a carrot to each of my little nuggets.

We're going to go outside, wave our carrots high and sing to the lirpaloof! Then after I snap some good pictures, I'll gather them around while I do some very drama-queen googling to see if I can find some helpful hints. And the helpful hint, of course, will be to try to say its name backwards! I'm not sure if they'll get it right away, so I'm going to bring some sidewalk chalk with me in case we have to have a volunteer write it down for us.

So if you're in school on April Fool's Day and you saw this in time, grab the freebie by clicking here. If not, you can always pin it to remember for next year!

Can't wait to blog about our bird finding adventure :)
I am officially on Spring Break! I know for some of you it doesn't really feel like spring yet. Sorry about that, but at least you'll get some justice. In case you haven't heard the breaking news, this should help.

I'll be away for a few days this week, so I'm rounding up some spring stuff for you before I go. 
Hope you like!

I'll start with the freebies. First up is one of my shaker bottles for spring. The original post and directions can be found here.

Next freebie is Spring Bunny Bump which can be found here. There's addition, multiplication and a blank one so you can bump whatever the heck you like.
Freebie #3 is  Spring Subtraction Slide which you can download here
This post explains the game in a bit more detail.

I've also finished up my April Printable Pack (not a freebie, but I think reasonably priced at $4.50) which you can find here. I have to say, of all the monthly packs I've created, this might be my favorite. I didn't want to make it just all about Easter because I know not everyone celebrates it and Easter is actually in March this year, so there's lots in there about Earth Day, Arbor Day and general springy things. There are definitely some Easter-y things in there too though since Easter will be in April in 2014 and 2015. Who do I talk to about moving these darn holidays all over the calendar?? It's really stressing me out!

My April Calendar Center Task Cards ($3.50)  can be found right here. These are a center every month in my room. I really feel good about my kids being able to use a calendar now.
 I think it's really helped them grasp the concept.
If you have a Smartboard, you might like April's Smartboard Calendar Math which you can find here for $3.50. It's made for the Smartboard with the Smart Notebook Software. It will work with other interactive whiteboards as long as you have the Notebook software. You can always download the  Free May Smartboard Calendar math to check.

And finally, I have to say thank you, thank you, thank you to those of you who take the time to leave such wonderful feedback on freebies or purchases on tpt. I do read every. single. one. I don't usually reply on tpt because I'm not sure if you'd even see it and then everyone else checking out the feedback would have to scroll through all my replies along with your feedback. I just want you all to know that it fills my teachery heart to overflowing when I read how much you like the things I create. Of course I understand that not everyone super loves everything I make and that's fine too, but I did get one feedback that was, um, less than nice and kind of unfounded, and man did it sting!  So, again, big love and thanks to all of you who are not big mean meanies who are just mean. ;)

P.S. Check out Sally's Spring Freebie Linky for more goodies!

or visit Mrs. Wheeler's linky for more April ideas!

Want to laugh? I was looking for some motivation to keep chugging along until spring break and I came across a pretty good article. Here's the funny part - I wrote it! I was a guest author over at Effective Teaching Articles almost two years ago with the following post. I'm reposting it today (edited just a little)  just in case you might need a little boost right about now, too.

For generations, kids have been uttering the same phrases that instantly raise the blood pressure of their teachers. Do any of these sound familiar: How much longer till lunch? When are we going to recess? Is this on the test? Do we have to write the questions? 

Well, one of my high school teachers had a great response for the classic “When will we ever use this?” He hung a giant handmade banner above the side board that read “Right here, Right now!” which he would forcefully point to the first time an unsuspecting freshman would inevitably ask that question. I wonder if he just got so sick of hearing it one day that he ran to the supply room, grabbed some banner paper and scrawled out what became his signature phrase all the while muttering, “When? When? I’ll TELL you when!” Looking back, I imagine he got some sort of secret joy from hearing that query from that day on. Way to turn it around Mr. Sanders.

Actually, he might have been on to something in his own way. It’s no secret that these are some tough times for teachers. Current circumstances across the country have put us in the position of defending our practices, advocating for our profession, spending more and earning less, while still giving it all we’ve got when we’re in the classroom. It is maddening, heartbreaking, depressing and confusing. I never imagined the day I would be actively seeking out another profession, and yet that’s exactly where I found myself. That was my rock bottom. I had to make a change. I had to find a way to cope, like Mr. Sanders and his banner.

I created my own self-help program that I was determined to follow. Either that, or I was going to have to find another career, because I just could not continue to live in such emotional turmoil every. single. day. I chose to be happy. Even when it was easier to be sad or frustrated. 

The first thing I committed to was not reading any comments after online news articles related to education. I slipped a few times on that one, but each time I regretted it instantly and now I’m able to resist about 95% of the time.

Next up, I found some amazing, inspiring educators and education advocates to follow on Twitter and Facebook. That has been a great way to stay informed without the bias and sway of public opinion. I've found some of my personal go-to blogs that I can always trust to brighten up my mood or get me motivated again. I pop on to Pinterest and see all the awesome things that people are doing and I get inspired to do some of them myself. I also  have a Pinterest board that I use to collect things that just make me laugh. I have kind of a sarcastic sense of humor and sometimes just scrolling through those pins is enough to get me to actually laugh out loud, mentally relax and get ready to tackle that next stack of papers or empty lesson plan book. 

I now make a conscious effort to redirect those dark thoughts that lead me to question my profession and my passion.  Those thoughts do creep in. It's easy to get dragged into a conversation at school or a news article that isn't relaying all of the facts. But I try to be there for my friends and lend an ear and let them vent. I do plenty of venting myself. But after that, I have to let it go. I can't hang on to it mentally. Have your fit, say your  piece and then move on to greener pastures. 

And finally, almost two years ago, I started this blog to focus on the good things going on in real classrooms with real teachers every day. That has been the very best thing I’ve ever done.

Thanks for coming along for the ride.
I'm not Irish, but I neve pass up a chance to party. I'm joining up with some of my favorite bloggy friends and throwing a sale to celebrate St. Patty's Day! Everything in my store will be 20% off today.
Click on the button to see the other sellers linking up and feel free to join in as well.

All of the images below are clickable too, so if anything catches your eye, just click to check it out!

And here's a little funny before you go. Be safe, my friends!

I'm finally linking up to Doodle Bug's Five for Friday Linky. Yay! I love reading everyone else's, so I'm super happy to finally have some pictures of my week to share!

1. On Monday we had a field trip to the International Game Fishing Association Hall of Fame. 
Field trips are always fun. Exhausting, but fun.

2. My kids have started to bring in their own worksheets! No lie. The little guy on the top was the trendsetter. One day he brought in a maze that he made and copies for everyone. Of course, we did it right away and he was thrilled! Then we had two more days of student created worksheets, complete with copies for the whole class. How awesome is that? I have a feeling this might continue for a while. Fine by me! The best part was watching the creators of the sheets walk around and help the other kids. I definitely heard a little of myself coming out in them, all good, thankfully!

3. I've simplified my center rotations and I'm in HEAVEN! I was trying to squeeze in two centers every day while keeping it aligned with our specials schedule, which goes by Day 1-Day 6. So on Day 1 on the specials schedule, we'd do both Day 1 centers. The problem was that if we ever missed a day, we'd be two centers behind. Then I'd try to get all four in that day. And I also had 4 kids at each center and I was changing out activities every three days! Now I have two kids at each center and the rotation lasts for TEN glorious days. Best.change.ever.

4. Wednesday was our 14th anniversary. Hubby sent me these beautiful flowers at work. The roses are a pretty hot pink color and those stargazer lilies are my favorite flower (and were also our wedding flowers) awww....

 5. My formal observation was this morning. As far as I can tell, it went really well. I won't know how it all looks on paper until next Wednesday, but in my heart I know I did the best I could and my kids got a lot out of the activity, so it's all good with me! More info on the whole project coming soon.
So, that was my week in a nutshell! Link up to Doodle Bug's party and share your week :)

Can I sneak in a #6? My friend Gina over at Beach Sand and Lesson Plans is having a fantastic birthday giveaway. Enter to win some great prizes including any product of your choice from my store!

This week's Show and Tell is a continuation of this weekend's post about how I do spelling in my room. You can check out the first part HERE.

Today, I'll continue with some of ways my kids actually work with their words during the week.

One of our centers is always spelling. I like to change it up from time to time and I always offer more than one activity choice. Here are some of my kids enjoying making their words from play-doh. What kid doesn't love some play-doh?
I also pre-program some "iphones" with our spelling list words for the year, and they can practice texting the words to themselves. I really can't remember where I got these iphone templates, but they're out there in cyberspace somewhere...

The play-doh task cards and some of the other things we do with our words are in this set of 52 Spelling Center Activity Task Cards, which you can check out HERE. You can also pick up a free sample set HERE. I tried to make them really kid and teacher friendly with explicit directions, pictures and examples of completed activities on each card.

Something else my kids love is the magnetic letters. I had them using cookie sheets for a while, but I found that they were spending so much time looking for the letters in the box and not so much time spelling. So I decided to put all of the letters in my pocket chart, that way all of the letters are clearly on display and they just have to pluck them from the pocket to spell.

Two-fer pic of the magnetic letters in chart and the spelling bee reminder.
Each week I also have a spelling bee. I always start with the list from the current week and we go backwards through recent lists until they get too easy. Then I pull out the challenge list. This is a list of words that I've both sent home and have available in the classroom for the kids to study as an early finisher activity. The winner of the spelling bee gets to skip Thursday night's spelling homework and the spelling test on Friday. They BEG me for the spelling bee on Thursday!

In the last post I told you how I do homework this year, but in the past I've used a different type of spelling contract. If you want to check them out, you can download this first one HERE (it's a freebie)
and this one isn't uploaded to share anywhere, but you can get an idea from the picture.
And now it's time for you to link up and share how you do spelling in your room! The only rule is that you must grab the button below and link to a blog post, not directly to a store.

And just a little PS about Show and Tell. After this week, it will become a monthly feature instead of a weekly event :)

I'm joining up with Latoya at Flying into First Grade for a super cute linky. 
You have to share three things you like using your initials.

So, first is D for my first name. That one was a no-brainer. 
D is for Drinking Coffee
If it's hot, then it has to be dark and bold with cream, no sugar. 
If it's iced, then it's Iced Venti 4 pump Vanilla Latte, with light ice. 
I *might* be a little particular about my coffee order...

My middle name starts with an M, so 
M is for Mac

I am a total Mac girl.My husband is a total Mac guy. I learned on a Mac and really just don't have any experience with a PC. Every now and then I'll try to play with one in the store and it's scary how lost I am! It was a sad, sad day in our house when Steve Jobs passed away.

My last name starts with a B, so 
B is for Blogging

I lucked out on that one, huh?
I've said it before, but I really believe that starting this blog and reading the blogs of other teachers gave me my second wind for teaching. I was at a major crossroads and needed to either find a way to love teaching or find something else to do with my life. Thankfully, something brought me to the blogosphere and the rest is history!

Hop over to Latoya's blog and check learn some new things about your favorite bloggers or share some things about yourself! 

At my school, we don't have a spelling curriculum, per se. As a gifted teacher, I don't use the basal which is where the rest of the team gets their spelling lists. Over the years, I've tried a few different spelling programs and I've never loved one enough to stick with it.

I've asked if I could just do away with the traditional spelling list-spelling homework-spelling test cycle in lieu of the real word work we do in the classroom, but it seems that parents expect spelling homework and the spelling test and for now, I'm stuck with the status quo.

So I've come up with lists that follow a phonetic pattern that are a bit challenging. I store them on SpellingCity.com so I can just sign in and find a list that looks right for the upcoming week. I need to name them in some sort of order for next year unless I find some other program I like before then.

On Mondays we copy the list into our spelling notebooks and glue in the tic-tac-toe sheet for the week. I try to have the kids tell me what the words have in common and identify the phonetic pattern or spelling rule. Then we discuss the meaning of the words and talk about any words that are new or unfamiliar. Here's a peek at the notebook. They do all the homework in this book so I don't have to collect papers and return them all time.

Three nights a week, the kids do a "spelling square" from the tic-tac-toe page. I'm currently using these from Second Story Window and these from Jen at The Teacher's Cauldron (both free!) I've been planning to make some of my own, but seeing as how it's now March, it's not looking likely for this year! On Thursday night the homework is to have an adult give them a practice test in the notebook. In the third picture you can see the stamp I had made from Vistaprint. It says Spelling Contract - Checked for Completion. It's my way of letting the parents know I checked to see that the homework was completed, but I didn't necessarily check it for errors. I usually catch the big mistakes, but I really just skim over it when I check their agendas in the morning. The bottom picture was just kind of funny from this week's test. Obviously, she was really, really trying to get the word question right! I think consequestion is a pretty cool word, myself!

Each week, I give the kids a bonus sentence as part of their spelling test. I usually make up a sentence that uses as many of the words as possible and I dictate it to them on the day of the test. They don't practice it beforehand. It always blows me away when a kid spells the word right on the test and then misspells it in the bonus sentence! They also have to use correct capitalization and punctuation. If they get it all right, they get to add a bingo number to our classroom incentive chart.
I've recently had kids spontaneously start making up bonus sentences and showing them to me before the test. Now it's become a real source of pride if I pick their sentence to use on the test! It's also really helping them think about building better sentences all the time, not just for spelling. I always have a volunteer write the sentence on the board after the test and we make any needed corrections so the kids can see how they did right away.

I also try to give them one more task on the test. For example, this week I asked them to put a star next to the compound word. I may ask them to underline a synonym for a certain word, or the word that has 3 syllables, etc. I guess I just like to squeeze as much out of that test as I can!

I have a few more ideas to share with you about how I have the kids work with their words in the classroom during the week which I'll share as part of Show and Tell next Tuesday.

And before I go, a big congratulations to Jennifer Ayers who won the Carson Dellosa 24 book library giveaway! If you're not Jennifer, don't feel too sad, I've got another great giveaway right around the corner!

Have a great weekend, my friends and don't forget to set your clocks ahead on Saturday night!

Back to Top