Friday, August 23, 2013

How to Build Your Library Collection for Cheap! Win a Free Set of My Book Labels to Get Those Books Neatly Organized!

Happy Friday everyone!  I have been a super bad blogger and have abandoned my new little blog here over the past month :( I needed to unwind and check out for a while, but I did stay a bit busy this summer.  I don’t know about you, but I am obsessed with stacking my personal library with as many books possible for my students.  It's one of the most important parts of any classroom.   I have well over    1, 000 books in my collection and that is after only 5 years in my very own classroom.  In total, I’ve only spent about $550 over that span so I have to say, I think that’s pretty impressive!  How may you ask?  I’m a bargain hunter.  I buy nothing full price (unless it’s a bag I’m swooning over or make up that I can’t resist) and I’m always on the hunt for book sales.  No not Scholastic book sales per say, but library book sales.  If you haven’t attended one yet, you are missing out!  This is the key to my library!

I live in CT and over the past 4 summers I have made my rounds to 4 different towns in NY and CT in hopes of finding some new books for my library.  From my experience, most of these sales take place during this time of year so it’s the PERFECT time for teachers to snatch up some goodies.  Most of these sales last over the course of 3-5 days.  Usually day 1 entails paying a $5 cover fee for entry, but I assure you it’s worth it.  I spent 3 hours at my first library book sale, scouring through books and built a collection of Dr. Seuss, Arthur, and American Girl books in no time.  How much were these books?  Hard covers were normally ranged between a wopping $1-$3.  That’s right people, Dr. Seuss books cheaper than your favorite Starbucks latte.  Soft covers ranged anywhere from 25 – 75 cents.   No one is breaking their bank here.  The crazy part is that so many of these books were barely used!  Tons of donated books were in superb condition ready and waiting for my little lovebugs to gobble and booger up! On the last day of these sales they usually offer a $5 bag day, which means that you can stuff a bag with as many books as possible for only $5.  It’s amazing!   I use this site to find sales that are going on in the area I am in or areas I am visiting.  Some are amazing, and others are okay, so it's a trial-by-error experience.  It's well worth it when you hit a super stocked sale!  

So because I’ve collected so many books, I quickly ran into a problem organizing them. Where there’s a problem there is always a solution. I created book bin labels and coordinating book labels to match a few years ago and I love it.  It’s saved me countless hours organizing my library. I place a sticker on the back of each book and students know that they must match the book sticker to the coordinating book bin with the same visual.  It has made my life a MILLION times easier and stress free because every child knows that each book has its own place. Howeverrrrrr, as my library has grown the genres and book series have increased so I needed to update them badly!  I’ve spent the past 3 weeks working on creating a book system that I will NEVER have to update again!  I wanted to have it done and ready so that if I ever changed from 3rd to another grade level, I’d have everything ready to go!  So I got to work and created over 380 labels that pair to various genres and topics of any book collection. Then my OCD kicked in and I decided that I wanted to make a set of book bin labels that matched my bright neon room scheme this year, so that’s what I did!  I LOVE them! They came out too cute too boot if you ask me!  I realized as I was doing the neon set, that realistically, I would end up changing my theme again at some point so I decided to make 3 other options for the book bin labels: chalkboard, swirly frames, and classic rectangle frames.  Now I wont have to worry about creating these again down the line….EVER :) The hard work creating them was worth it! 

I have these up in my store right now on sale through this Saturday for only $8.  If you need to get your library organized in an easy peasy way that allows your students to be responsible for it’s maintenance, then pick up a set in my TPT store in the style of your choice!

I’m off to do some more wine tasting today!  A well deserved reward for working hard! Wanna win a set?  Follow my store here, and the first person to correctly guess where I'll be sipping on some sweet grape juice this weekend will win the set of their choice!  Happy Weekend!     

Saturday, July 13, 2013

School is FINALLY Out + A Liebster Award for Me = Yippee :)

Sweet sweet summa' time has officially arrived for me! Yippee!  Yesterday was my last day of school with my kiddos.  While I'm sad to see them go, I am ready to relax for a few moments after a whirl wind of a year.  I loved my class this year, they had so much positive energy, but it was definitely a challenging year for me in so many other ways.  Living in CT and teaching in NY made the start to this academic year a roller coaster of emotions. Between Hurricane Sandy impacting our school and Sandy Hook having a personal connection, I struggled to establish a rhythm in my classroom.  Throw in preparing 3rd graders to take their first state test, a CCSS aligned test no less, and I think I can whole heartedly say that this year was one I am happy to bring to a close.  I would have never made it through without the love and support of my friends, family, and especially my 20 sweet kiddos who no matter what, always found a way to make me laugh or smile till it hurt everyday.  One of my gems wrote me this letter yesterday and I broke out into tears right in front of all of my students.  I couldn't help it, she literally melted my heart.

Moments like this make me realize that no matter what obstacles life presents you, you still have a responsibility to yourself and to others to put positivity back into this world.  This letter was that positivity coming back full circle.  So with all of that emotion put out there, I must say that I am ready to welcome this summer and all the goodness it has for me with arms wide open!

What better way to kick off my summer vacay than with a Liebster Award?!  I was ecstatic to find out that both Mr. G at Teaching with Mr. G and Renne Growing a Teacher nominated me for this award!
You two are so incredibly sweet so thank you so much! This is such a treat for me!  I broke out into a happy dance very similar to Mr. Carlton Banks here ;)   I had never heard of this award, so if you haven't either let me make like a Craig David and fill you in - if anyone gets that reference you deserve a cookie ;)  This award is a way to bring attention to new bloggers you love who have under 200 followers.  I am so honored that after only a month of blogging, I've already been shown so much kindness and support from so many fellow bloggers.  You all are so sweet and I absolutely adore how much love everyone is putting out there into the blog-o-universe : )

In order to accept this nomination I must:
1. Link back to the blog that nominated me
2. Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers
3. Answer the questions posted for me by my nominator
4. Share 11 random facts about myself
5. Create 11 questions for my nominees
6. Contact my nominees and let them know I nominated them

Here are the blogs I am nominating:

1) Mandy at Caffeine and Lesson Plans
2) Meredith at Diary of a First Year Teacher 
3) Mrs. Johnson at Mrs. Johnson's Little Prowlers

These ladies are sharing so many great ideas, resources, and link-ups for their fellow blog readers so make sure to follow them and introduce yourself!

My 11 Questions & Answers

  1. Why do you blog?    I get so much inspiration from reading various teaching blogs! Not only do I find a way to fire up my creativity, but I also gather a lot of support reading about the every day ins and outs of other classrooms.  It's really great to see honesty about triumphs and fails, because we are all learners and     these moments give us an opportunity to learn from each other. When working with my colleagues I have found that some of the BEST ideas I implement in my classroom have resulted from a conversation with a fellow teacher that led to a whole new level of brainstorming and thinking for us.  I knew that starting a blog would be an amazing way for me to share my stories and ideas, while learning and growing from others.  Plus, everyone is so stinkin' nice and wants to collaborate to make our lives easier and our students' experiences more fun, so who wouldn't want to blog?! 
  2. What is your favorite book for a read aloud?    Absolutely anything by Shel Silverstein.  "A Light in the Attic" was literally super glued to my hands when I was 8 and it sparked a love for reading that has never left.  Shel Silverstein has a magical way of igniting the imagination of his readers, young and old.  I actually just read his book "The Missing Piece" a month ago with my friend and fellow teacher Lauren. We had a read aloud at her apartment, couldn't be more teacher-like if we tried.  As she read this story, it literally brought me to tears.  I haven't read any other books in my life that allow me to feel as much as I do when I read anything Shel Silverstein.  So of course, every year, the first book I read to my new kiddos is "The Giving Tree".  You need to buy "The Missing Piece" it may change your life. 
  3. Are you a good dancer?  Um... did you see my Carlton Banks gif?  Duh. I am a phenomenal dancer.  With moves like his how could I not be?
  4. Do you have a favorite teacher/education website?    I would say Pinterest is my go to for anything inspiring regarding teaching.  A website I found this year that I LOVE and my kiddos LOVE is Flocabulary.  It is awesome and so engaging.  They have educational raps and videos on so many topics!  The kids can't contain themselves when I put it on.  Also, they have weekly videos covering current events and additional worksheets/lesson ideas to supplement each video.  It's pretty rockin. 
  5. What are you most excited about for the new school year?  I am super excited to start this year because I have SO many ideas of what I want to do DIFFERENTLY! This year was a bit tough because we had to constantly keep re-aligning our former curriculum to the CCSS and NYS previews of what to expect on the state exams.  It was a tizzy.  I am SO excited that my principal is pulling away more from all of the test-prep books we were using so that we can flip our classrooms, focus on inquiry based lessons, and allow our students to really develop their critical-thinking skills.  I'm planning on spending my time off organizing and creating cross-curriculum units to use throughout the year, in addition to a "Thinking Critically" and "Phonics" PD my friend Jess and I are organizing.  It's going to be a busy summer.  Wish me luck! 
  6. What subject do you love to teach the most?  I love teaching ELA and Science together.  I have the most fun teaching these subjects and I find it super easy to integrate them.  I love dressing up as different characters to keep my kiddos engaged, so I tend to do this with my science and ELA topics.   MR.FAB (AKA me with a mustache, glasses, and animal photo covered coat) came to teach the class how to classify vertebrates.  After he left, we completed research projects on our favorite vertebrate group and made our own MR. FAB's.  It was by far one of my favorite memories from this year.  (I tried to post pictures of this, but it's not allowing me to move the photos I uploaded...Boo!) 
  7. How do you handle a tough day on the education field?  After a tough day, I get in my car, roll down the windows, and blast my music as loud as possible.  I proceed to drive like this for the next 90 minutes of my commute singing till the hurt dissipates and I'm left feeling good.  If I still feel tense after that, usually a little vino, chocolate, and a hug from my sweet fiance does the trick.  
  8. Which holiday break is your favorite? Without a doubt my May break.  Since we teach through the middle of July we get the week of Memorial Day off.  At this point in the year I am a hot mess.  This is usually two weeks after our state testing has been completed and teachers and students alike are exhausted.  It's just the right amount of time to re-energize ourselves to finish the year strong!  
  9. Which is better... pens or pencils?   Pencils 100%  They come in so many fun designs, shapes, colors, quotes, etc.  Want to see a kid love and treat a pencil like it's 100 bucks?  Purchase pencils in the beginning of the year for your students with their names on them.  You won't have to worry about those pesky pencil monsters stealing and eating all of the class pencils until at least December. 
  10. Favorite type of music?  Anything and everything that makes me feel something real and I can connect to.  I love country, rock, alternative, early 90's, pop, I LOVE IT ALL as long as it is something that pulls a memory or emotion out of me. 
  11. Favorite piece of advice to share with educators?     It's the same thing I share with my students.  It's not always going to be easy, but it will always be rewarding as long as you give it your all.  Love what you do and whatever you do, do it with all of your heart.  
My 11 Fun Facts 
  1.  I love chocolate, music, sunshine, and the beach.  Give me all of those in one place    and I may explode with happiness.
  2. I'm named after both of my beautiful grandmothers - Kate and Dorothy which is how I arrived at my nickname Kdot. 
  3. I studied abroad in college and lived 4 glorious months in Florence, Italy.  The experience was life changing on so many levels.  I feel like I left a young girl and returned a confident and determined woman.  May sound cheezy, but I'll always cherish my experiences there. 
  4. I love to cook!  While studying abroad I took a cooking class with a woman named Jean from Nebraska who studied abroad in Florence in the 70's, met a Florentine named Fabio, married him, and never returned to the states.  My mother and father warned me not to get any ideas from her other than cooking ;) 
  5. I had ACL/meniscus surgery on my birthday last summer.  Worst birthday present ever.  
  6. I played softball and field hockey in high school and for a bit in college.  I love to snowboard too, but since having my ACL surgery, I haven't returned to any of these sports just yet. Wah wah. 
  7. I went to 7 *NSYNC concerts between 6th and 8th grade. Slightly embarrassing, but I loved every minute of it.  My awesome mom took my sister, best friends, and me to several of these concerts while we sang "Tearin Up My Heart" at ungodly octaves and let out screams that nearly deafened her.  That's love. 
  8. My fiance is from Minnesota and a HUGE Twins fan.  I am a Yankee's fan till I die.  Our future children will choose a side and I slightly fear that he'll win them over to be Twins fans.  EEK! 
  9. My favorite color is aqua blue/teal like the O in my Kdot signature. 
  10. My favorite quote from a student this year was when my sweet ESL kiddo who has a hard time articulating his thoughts clearly told me, "Ms. OC, you like the Oprah Lady.  You make loud noises and funny faces when you get excited and happy in here."  I told him it was one of the best compliments I've ever received. 
  11. I want to visit Ireland and reconnect with my ancestor's roots in County Cork.  
 Questions to my Nominees
  1. What is your favorite aspect about teaching? 
  2. What is your funniest classroom memory? 
  3. What inspired you to be a teacher? 
  4. If you could teach-abroad for a year, where would you?
  5. What is your favorite piece of technology to use in the classroom?  
  6. What is your favorite quote? 
  7. What is your favorite non-teaching hobby or activity to do? 
  8. What is one new goal you have for this school year? 
  9. What is your favorite book/author? 
  10. What is your greatest accomplishment? 
  11. If you weren't a teacher, what would you be?  

Thank you again so much to Mr. G at Teaching with Mr. G and Renne Growing a Teacher for my nomination! I can't wait to see what my nominees have to share! Make sure you check all of these gems out! 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Freebie on my Greek Mini-Unit - Last Chance to Download it for Free!

Happy Monday to all of you!  I know most of you are getting into your back to school planning mode, but today is my last Monday of the school year!  Can you believe it?  I teach at a school with an extended day and school year so we're here till July.  Thankfully we have A/C this year, but last year my sweet kiddos resembled melted jello.  Not the case this year, they are amped and ready to celebrate our last week together!  I'll miss my gems, but this lady is in serious need of some fun in the sun ;)

I just wanted to send a quick reminder to you all during my lunch to download my mini-unit on the Greek myth of Icarus if you haven't already.  It will be up as freebie in my TpT store until noon today as a thank you for all of your support and sweet words of encouragement these past few weeks! I don't want anyone to miss out on scooping it up.  I hope you love it and thank you again so very much!

Light and Love,

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Fan Freebie Thank You!

Last Saturday I joined up with my very first linky and made a promise that as soon as I reached 10 followers, I would offer a fabulous resource that I've been working on (well, I hope you think it's fabulous, I've worked hard on it) as a freebie for being my first followers! At that point, I only had a few followers on Bloglovin' and about 6 friends through Google Friend Connect.  After stating that, I thought to myself, "Self, I'm a little confused if everyone is just following Bloglovin' now or following through Google too?  Which one should I watch to reach 10?!"  I'm going to have to get that clarified from some of you all so that when I *fingers crossed* reach new follower milestones and celebrations,  I don't look like a fool!  Anyone have any feedback on that?

Anywho, a week later and I'm a super stoked newbie-blogger because I now have 26 AMAZING followers on Bloglovin' and 14 FABULOUS friends through Google Friend Connect! WOOP WOOP!  I'm so excited that in the course of a week, I've had the opportunity of discovering and interacting with so many creative and fun bloggers!  I can't wait to make more blogging friendships and learn from all of you! Thank you all so much for helping me reach this first goal, and for sending words of wisdom and encouragement my way as I begin this fun journey!

To show my appreciation, I want to send you all my latest cross-curricular ELA & Art product "Icarus: The Boy Who Flew too Close to the Sun".  I've worked really hard on finishing this up and making sure to include activities that are rigorous and engaging, while meeting various learners' needs.  So here is my dilemma, I don't know how to add a google-doc to download from my blog (anyone have a good tutorial for me?) and I think that collecting e-mails may be a bit more work than I'm game for on this sunny Saturday, so after some recommendations from fellow bloggers, I've decided that I'm going to post it in my TpT store from today through Monday morning.  It will be posted there, for free of course, for you all to download and snatch up to use in your classrooms next year!  

I hope you really enjoy it!  It's the best way I can think of to say thank you for your support!  It's really been so inspiring to see how kind so many of you are.  It's just another reason to value and love being a teacher :)  Have a FABULOUS weekend and don't forget to snag up your free gift here before Monday morning:

Light and Love,

Friday, July 5, 2013

Favorite Pins Friday!

If you're anything like me, Pinterest has become not only a personal professional development go to for your classroom, but an escape to mindlessly check-out of our busy lives for a few minutes to peruse through beautiful quotes, crafts, fashion, and "Take me there...NOW" vacation spots!

I openly confess that Pinterest has allowed me to become more creative not only in my classroom, but in my personal life with fun fashion styles, food recipes, and at home DIY activities that I'll eventually get to.  Where were we before Pinterest entered our lives?

I'm linking up with another inspiring blogger guru, Cara at The First Grade Parade for her new linky party Favorite Pins Friday!

Here are a few of my favorite pins from this past week : )  
I just saw this pin on Pinterest a few hours ago and pinned it immediately!  How creative and smart is that?  Such a simple step to keep from a big ol' mess.  When I followed the pin back to its original source, it led me to my colleague and dear friend Ms. Jessica at  A Turn to Learn!  I literally started laughing out loud! Of course a gem of an idea like this would come from her!    

This next great idea came from first grade teacher Miss Willis at  The Go to Teacher and I just love it.  I use a number system in my classroom as well for management and sanity of mind.  I never thought about applying my number system to the dry erase markers we use. GENIUS.  I can't tell you how many times during a lesson I've had students use our quiet signals to replace markers or complain out loud about their marker drying out.  Those little interruptions can become one great big nuisance, so I'm looking forward to implementing this next year.  

I get by with a little help from my friends, or in most cases A LOT of help.  I'm so blessed to have a really strong group of friends that inspire me and lift me up.  I saw this quote and I emailed it to all of them immediately.  I hope that one day we all look that good in our bathing suits and are still getting down like these two beauties are :)  


I love reading e-cards on Pinterest, but one of my colleagues at work shared this one with me and I couldn't have related more to it.  Of my family and friends, I am the only teacher, which makes it hard for some of  them to understand that I don't color and finger paint every day with my third graders.  Again, some of them really have no clue.  So I think I'll hold on to this hardy-har-har card for the next time I get grief for my summer vacation (which all of us teachers know is spent preparing and creating work for next year anyway ;) 

So those are a few of my favorite pins from this week!  Make sure you link up with Cara to join in on the fun! 

Love and Light, 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Goin' on a Blog Hunt - Blog Lovin'

This has been a CRAZY time for new bloggers like me!  As soon as I got my pretty little blog organized (Thanks to Megan at A Bird in Hand Designs <3),  I immediately began seeing posts about Google Reader ending.   I didn't personally use Google Reader, so I was quite confused by all of the commotion.  I also had 2 followers at that point, so I knew it wouldn't impact me tremendously (up to 12 now though woop woop!)  I suppose it's a blessing in disguise, because from what I can tell, the blogging guru's I adore seemed to be quite upset about loosing that direct connection to their blog followers and rightfully so!  They've worked so hard to inspire and share their wonderful ideas and resources with all of us.

I headed on over to BlogLovin' and did some heavy perusing.  I have to say that I really thoroughly enjoy it! It's super easy to organize the blogs that you follow and to keep track of new followers you are gaining.  For a new blogger like me, that's one of my favorite parts!   Even better, it offers you the opportunity to search and view the most popular blogs on BlogLovin' which are slowly but surely filtering out the fashion blogs and making room for more of our educational blogs ;)  (Teachers unite!!)  My absolute FAVORITE aspect of BlogLovin' is that their app is super-dooper simple to use and access on my phone.  Simple, easy, organized.  If only the rest of my life were those three adjectives! HAH!

I'm linking up with one of the top bloggers I adore, Laura Candler, for this linky as an opportunity to find more talented teachers that I can gain inspiration from!  I have a feeling that I'm going to be spending way too many hours scouring the blogs on this linky, but I'm sure it will be well worth it!  Make sure that you follow me by clicking my buttons to the right for  BlogLovin', followers, or head over to TPT to follow me there.  I'd appreciate it so much! Please also make sure to show and share the love by linking up with Laura below at:

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Myths - Currently

Hey all! I'm super excited to be joining my first linky and what better linky to start up with then Oh'Boy 4th Grade's monthly Currently?  I have 8 more days of school so I've been really busy trying to plan, create, and organize end of the year activities for my cherubs. I also have progress reports to work on, butttttt knowing the procrastinator in me, those will be completed next weekend.  Waiting till the last minute is a reaaaaaally bad habit that I'm aware of, but seriously need to start working on immediately... and by immediately I mean next week ;)  So here is my July Currently:


I have the worst double ear infection and I missed days from school this week because of it.  I was totally bummed because A) these bad boys hurt like woah and B) I had SO many fun activities planned for our Greek myth unit that I wanted to be there for!  Double bummer.  We've been studying Greek myths for the past two weeks and my kiddos are having SO much fun acting them out, reading them, and analyzing them.  Yes analyzing them.  It has been the easiest unit for me to teach because they are so incredibly engaged! Have you all heard of the series "Stickman Odyssey: An Epic Doodle" by Christopher  Ford?  If you haven't then check them out on Amazon below.  My third graders are OBSESSED with these comic books.  Think Diary of a Wimpy Kid meets Odysseus, minus the foulness.  These two books have been a hit as well and are full of various myths with appropriate illustrations.  Now that we've been working on myths for the last two weeks, I find that as I introduce new myths, my smarties are telling ME all about these gods, goddesses, and their interactions with humans before we even begin! I love that they are active participants in their learning, they love these myths and don't look at it as work, WIN WIN right?

I'm also working on an activity for this week based on the myth of Icarus that will cover my ELA and Art content for the week.  Are any of you familiar with Matisse's Icarus? We're going to learn how to "paint with scissors" this week just like he did!  I'm hoping that they love it!  I always try to integrate my lessons across the curriculum and this was a perfect fit!

As soon as I reach 10 followers, I'll be emailing my Icarus ELA/Art pack to my first 10 followers as a big thank you for supporting me as I embark on this new blogging journey :)  You have already been so kind and welcoming, so again thank you SO very much!
*Work in progress*

I hope your summers have been relaxing, rocking, and enjoyable so far!  I'm jealous! I can't wait to get my toes in the sand at the beach and get my groove on at concerts rocking out to my favorite bands!

Don't forget to head on over to Oh' Boy 4th Grade to see what everyone else is currently doing this July!

 Light and Love,