As if I needed another social media obsession outlet, I have now discovered Instagram. I think I didn't really get it before today, but thanks to the great linky hosted by Rachelle and Michelle (see button below) I'm feeling the love! 

It's like a mishmash of Twitter, Facebook, and blogs. You can take a picture of what's going on, add a cute filter or frame, a quick caption and a hashtag and boom - it's out there! The hashtags are great for searching. For example, today I could go through and search #TeacherTalkTuesday and see all the fun stuff going on in my teacher friends' classrooms!

I just started a teacher account for Instagram so I have a total of FOUR pictures right now, but I have a feeling that number will expand pretty rapidly! This is what I've captured so far...

Trust me, my Instabuddies are doing a much better job, but I'm getting there. Scrolling through today was a lot of fun! Just a quickie little snapshot of some really cool stuff going on!

I'm SunnyInSecond on Instagram if you want to connect! Check out the linky to find some other friends to follow too!

Welcome blog hoppers! How fun is this little trip to all your Florida friends? 
I hope you were able to make a new friend or two. 
I've got some links for the rest of the hop at the end of this post just in case you 
happened to hop in here. I'm stop #11.
We're each offering a freebie and a glimpse at a paid product you might like. My freebie is from my favorite book for the end of the year, Last Day Blues. It's the companion book to First Day Jitters, another one of my faves. Click here to download from tpt.
And to keep the theme going, my paid product is my complete unit for Last Day Blues. I made this one about 2 years ago and when I went to get it ready for myself this year, I realized it needed a major upgrade, which I got to work on immediately!  If you already own it, just go to "your purchases" on tpt and you can download the new version. If not, feel free to check it out by clicking here.
And just for fun, here are some of my favorite books for the end of the year. 
Next hop stop is my adorable friend and real-life co-worker Caitlin at Kindergarten Smiles!
Kindergarten Smiles
 I'm stop #11, so if you want to hop backwards through the rest, 
click on Lisa's super cute blog button. She's stop #10. 
If your OCD is freaked out by that, you can find the actual beginning of the hop right here at Mrs. Russell's Room. It's ok. I know how it is...
Freebie Fridays

When I was asked by Carson Dellosa if I was interested in using some of their newest decor items for a mini-makeover, it took me about a half a second to reply - YES PLEASE! I got to choose from the collections you see here. It didn't take long to settle on the Boho Birds. Adorable!
Click HERE to see them all in detail.

Frist, I changed my biggest bulletin board which I use to display student work. I've had that cloud paper for years (no lie) and almost got rid of it several times since I painted my boards. So glad I kept it. It makes the perfect background! The letters go with the set too and I love how big and bold they are so they pop up on the wall.

It was so darn cute, I almost couldn't bring myself to add the kids' work! When I did though, it was super easy thanks to the way I added the bird cutouts. I used glue dots to stick a bird to a clothespin. Then I put glue dots on the head of thumbtacks to pin the bird to the board. That way I just have to push on the bird a little to open the clothespin and slip their work in or out. Why didn't I do this years ago?! I hope the pix help explain that a bit more...

Next, I revamped my Brain Builders Board (click here for more explanation about that). It took me forever to think of a new title, but I LOVE it! I actually made that from a clipart alphabet, but it matches pretty good, I think.

Then I changed over my other mish-mash board where I display current vocabulary words and some other random stuff. It was actually a lot of wasted space. I had plans for that board that never came to fruition this year, so I was happy to finally use it a bit better. It used to have monkeys swinging around the tree, but the birds moved in and I haven't seen the monkeys in awhile.  Those small pocket charts were from the Dollar Spot at Target and the colored sentence strips were from Dollar Tree. I added some of the Boho Birds stickers and laminated them so I can write on/wipe off.

Here's a little tip for how I line up letters on posters. These stickers were part of the set. I use a ruler figure out where I want the title to start and end. Then I find the center of the title and start adding the stickers to the ruler, starting at the center and working out,  with just the bottom touching. Then I lay it down on the poster and smooth down the top and gently lift up the ruler. I hope that makes sense. Maybe the pix will help...

I used some more of the bigger stickers to label my center boxes. We call them lit labs. I have them all in these plastic boxes which I'm seriously obsessed with, but more on that later. I printed "Lit Lab 1" on plain paper, cut it and glued it to the label before I laminated it.
Finally, I had some fun adding cute birdie touches to some other spots around the room. Here's a leftover bulletin board bird clipped onto the can that now holds rulers. I had that can forever too. Love that I have a use for it now!

Believe it or not, there was still a LOT of stuff that I didn't even use! I have plans for it though, so you'll see these birdies again. I felt a little crazy giving my room a make over at the end of the year, but I just love the new bright and cheerful look. It turned out to be a great way to energize everyone for the final sprint. Hope you can use some of these ideas to brighten up your home away from home!

 I just linked up with Teach Junkie, come join us!
Teach Junkie Creative Ideas

With all the nasty, horrible things happening lately along with the stress of the end of the year to-do's piling up,  I've seen even some pretty unhappy teachers lately.  One of my friends in particular has just had the most horrendous year. On top of some heath problems, she just seems to be the one 'on the wheel' as we say. It's like every bad thing that can happen to her professionally has happened. I hate seeing what it's doing to her spirit and she so doesn't deserve it {I should add that I know she's not one to read blogs, so we're safe...} So, I wanted to do something nice for her but I didn't necessarily want her to know it was from me.

I hit upon the idea of a Random Act of Kindess, which I'm sure you've all heard of before. I bought a gift card to her favorite restaurant and looked for a cute tag to attach to it. I found a bunch online, but they all seemed to add a line about paying it forward. I was really afraid that she'd take it literally and feel obligated to spend money on something for someone else. So after searching high and low I decided to just make my own little tag that said exactly what I wanted it to, leaving off the line about paying it forward. This is what I left in her mailbox:

I started to think about other random acts that I could do for friends that would be of little or no cost, where I wouldn't mind leaving on that part about paying it forward - like taking their dismissal duty for the day or leaving them a favorite candy bar. So I created some extra tags that could be used for all sorts of things. I've actually had two different RAK's done to me. Once someone in front of me paid my tolls on the way to work and another time someone else paid for my coffee at a drive through. I felt such gratitude and joy both times, so for me it's high time to pay it forward.

If this sounds like something you might like to do, I made a whole set of little tags you can use. Download them for free right here.

With Teacher Appreciation right around the corner, this is perfect time to spread some happy! My husband had a great idea about leaving some tags in a basket in the front office to encourage other people to do it too. Is he awesome or what? I think I might do just that.

Anyone who knows me knows that I loooooves me coffee.  I drink copious amounts of it at home and at school, but getting to actually drink a latte at one of my favorite Starbucks (and yes, I absolutely have my favorites all up and down the state of Florida) is a definite guilty pleasure. I love to sit down in a comfy chair, open my laptop and read blogs or work on projects with the fun little hum of the coffee shop in the background. Most of the time my hubby is there with me or I'm cracking up and making a fool of myself with Gina.

If that sounds good to you, you are going to LOVE this find! It's a website that makes it sound like you're at a coffee shop, when in fact you might be in your classroom after hours or in your living room with a pile of laundry on your pool table reaching epic heights (eek!).

It's called Coffitivity. You just open the site and you're instantly surrounded by the sounds of other people drinking, clinking their plates and chatting in hushed tones! There's some brain research on the site about how their specific blend of sounds aids productivity. I just like it because it sounds like I'm at one of my favorite places! You can even adjust and mix the volume with your own music. Pretty nifty little site for a coffe lovin' computer nerd, such as myself.

Click here to visit the virtual coffe shop. Maybe I'll see you there!

I love my clip chart as you know, but every class comes with is own specific needs and there have been classes that needed something a bit more.  I've got two simple whole class motivators I've used in conjunction with the clip chart. I'll share one today and one tomorrow, you know, to build suspense and stuff.

Today's focus is the Fun Friday Bus. I'm no Ms. Frizzle, but I must say this is a pretty awesome bus.  I've been teaching gifted second graders for a while and man, they can talk! Most of the time I love it. I love a little hum in the room almost all the time. Almost. Sometimes it's hard for seven year-olds to understand when it's time to be really quiet (like when Mrs. Boehm just needs one.little.second to catch her breath! But I digress...)  In that case, I like for the whole class to have a visual way for them to work together to earn something fun. Some years I don't need this at all, some years I need it starting around March and some years it goes up the minute those cute little faces say good-bye on the first day of school. Today my kids were seriously vibrating with energy that was a little hard to channel, so on Monday they will be boarding the bus! There's no fancy name for this one, I just call it the Fun Friday Bus. It's a strip of border attached to the top of my white board with some printable road signs.

For those times when more than just one or two kids needs a clip down or up, I move the Fun Friday Bus to get their attention. The bus was a bulletin board piece attached to a magnet.  I always have Fun Friday, but the kids have to earn the length of time by moving the bus to various road stops. Added bonus: somehow they are usually downright angelic on Friday morning if they are a bit far from goal. As if you needed another reason to love Friday~You're Welcome!

This works great for entering in the morning, transitions, coming back from lunch - basically any time they got a little wound up and I don't want to have 10 kids moving their clips. It's also great if they earn a compliment in the hall or when everyone comes in from recess the first time I call them.  The bus can also move back and forth all during the week as needed.

If you want to get the bus moving in your room, click on the bus below to get a copy of the signs. There are some blank ones so that you can write your own ideas for road signs and customize them for your room (and a bus of course)!  Click on this link to get the Road pattern border.You could always create your own with construction paper.

Eat your heart out Frizz, you're not the only one with a magic school bus!

I do not remember learning how to read. I swear, I feel like I was born reading. I was a little mini-geek, getting all excited when I got to work in my phonics workbook. I loved me some Letter People and drove my family crazy reading along with every word on Sesame Street, The Electric Company, and Zoom. But I hated math. Hated.Math. Math just never made sense to me. I remember in third grade when we had to memorize our times tables I was embarrassed, ashamed and confused. I had never had any trouble in school before and those times table quizzes produced anxiety that I had never known. Ugh.

It's because of those experiences in math that I strive to make math as hands-on, engaging and fun as possible. Our district adopted Go Math last year and lets just say, I was less than enthused. I feel like I did less hands on than ever before. I will not do that this year. I'm sneaking in my games, dang it!

So in honor of my big, brave decision, here are a few of my favorites (that the kids end up begging to play!). Click on the pic to see it a little bigger.

For this one you'll need to do some advance preparation. Gather a bunch of popsicle sticks and draw ten black dots on one side and one red dot on the other. Each group of kids that plays together needs 10 sticks.

Click here to get a copy of the directions for each game.

For more great math games, click here to visit Laura Candler's Math Game Round-up!

It's time for Show & Tell!  I wrote a bit about this yesterday, but I want Show & Tell to be a little easier on everyone, including myself. I also want it to be a little more true to the whole purpose of my blog, which is to focus on the good stuff going on in our classrooms! Everyone knows all too well about the not-so-good stuff going on, so it's nice to focus on the positives.

I'll start. Today we had Tasty Tuesday. This is something I heard about a long time ago over on Once a month on a Tuesday, we copy a recipe in our best handwriting, then we actually make and eat it, and write a review of the recipe. This post explains it in a bit more detail. We also use this as our grade-level parent event. We collect our recipes, pictures and reviews and compile them into a cookbook which we share with parents as they complete the last recipe together. This year's event is coming up soon, so I'll write more about it next month. So much fun!

Cooking in a room where we have no oven or microwaves, and are not allowed to use anything hot, like a hot plate or hot pot can be a bit challenging, but we make do. Today's recipe was a new one. When I saw it on Pinterest (where else) I knew I had to give it a try! Here's the original. How stinkin' cute, right?
Source: viaFern Smith on Pinterest
They were actually very easy to make once you find the Twinkie replacement. I used Hostess Dreamies, but Little Debbie makes some called Cloud Cakes that would totally work. They don't taste exactly like a Twinkie (I did the research)  but they look darn close! You'll also notice a big difference in our wheels. The fine folks at Spangler Candy sent me that ginormous box of Dum-Dums back in December. My kids have been drooling over them ever since. I wanted to do something really great with them and when I saw these bunny cars, it hit me! Dum-Dum wheels! We snipped the the stick in half so it wouldn't poke out of the other end of the cake. Adorable, or what? We still have about 400 Dum-Dums left (not even kidding), but I have another project up my sleeve for them...
We had some innovations on the original design, one just cuter than the next. Then we had a weight-lifting Peep. He's working hard on changing the stereotype that Peeps are just unhealthy sticky sugar balls.

This is the kind of stuff these kids will remember. Look at those faces! So, what was your happy this week? Link up to any post that shares some of the good stuff out there. Did you do a fun project with your kids? Did they surprise you with what they've accomplished? Did that one certain kid finally reach the milestone you've been working toward? Link up and share the good stuff. I know it's out there!

Just add this button to your post and be sure to link back here.
Frist of all, congrats to the winner of the Hot Dots giveaway - Lori Rosenberg! I know her kids are going to love them as much as mine do!
Next up, I shared a fun little tax day offer with my Facebook fans, but it's only right to share it here as well. I just uploaded my May Printable Pack and from now until Tuesday night at midnight, the download will include the May Calendar Center Task Cards for FREE!  You don't need to do anything special to get the calendar center, it will be included in the download. After midnight (or more realistically first thing Wednesday morning) I'll remove the calendar center from the download. This is the first time I'm trying something like this. Maybe it will become a thing!

Speaking of products, be sure to re-download your copy of the CCSS Math assessments if you own them already to get all the updates which include 2 additional assessments for each standard and new standards posters in kid-friendly language.

And finally, Show & Tell Tuesday is coming back tomorrow! I've been thinking a bit about how to make it the most beneficial for everyone, including myself. I started to feel like it was taking over my blog! I spent so much time thinking of a theme, finding my featured five and  putting the post together - and then I felt like I had to leave it up for a while. So by the time one was over, I was already starting the next one! So, how about this. Show and Tell Tuesday is going to be a little more free-form. I'll start the post with something great that happened in the last week and then invite you all to link up!  I'll share some more details tomorrow, but hopefully this will make it a little more fun for everyone (including me!) and it will be more in line with the focus of my blog, sharing the good stuff going on out there in classrooms just like ours all over the world!
My best selling items on TpT are my CCSS Assessment Packs. Not to toot my own horn, but the feedback I get on those packs always humbles me - in a big way.
Mixed in with all that yummy feedback, I've gotten some questions and suggestions. A couple of people mentioned that they weren't sure of the purpose of the posters for each standard.  A few of you even suggested that they'd appreciate them more if they were in kid-friendly language. Guess what? I totally agree! Here's the first of the major updates I made:

The other thing that many people asked for was a second test for each standard so they have a pre- and post-test. Well, I did ya one better. The pack now includes THREE assessments for each standard! Now you can  have a pre-, post- and extra practice page. I also made a few minor adjustments to some of the original assessments. Just little things I noticed could be a bit better after using them with my own class.
Another tweak I made was in the checklist. Originally, the checklist spanned two pages. I also noticed that when I punched holes to add it to my planbook, I was cutting into the standards. So I shrunk it down, fit it on one page and moved it over. I print one page for each kid and just jot down the date in the box. I also keep all the assessments in the same binder to have some proof. You know how that is these days with RtI and such...
And just as before, the new assessments all have answer keys. 
I like when the answer key matches the page, so that's what I did with these.
So, what does this mean for you? Well, if you already purchased the original pack for $8 which you can see here, you will be getting all of these upgrades for FREE once I upload the new version. All you'll have to do is go into the "My Purchases" tab and download the revised copy after Sunday.

If you have not yet purchased it, I'm going to give you some time to get it at the $8 price as well. Once I list the new version, I'll be raising the price to $12.50 to reflect the revised content and additional assessments. However, I won't be doing that until late Sunday night. That means you can buy it now at the original price and then download the new version after Sunday which is chock full of new content!

If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

I thought this was a perfect post to link up to this new linky! Stop by and see what else is new!

P.S. If you're looking for a similar assessment for first grade, click here and for third grade click here!

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