Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Birthday Blog Hop and Giveaway!

Guess what? It is Celeste from the Education Highway's birthday! And we are celebrating with a fun blog hop and giveaway, too! Plus we have a few fun summer tips and ideas for you too, now that it is the unofficial first week of summer. REALLY unofficial, especially since it's 23 days until school ends for me and I can start summer myself! Ha! Let's start with the summer tips and then you can see the prize packs, blog hop and rafflecopter to enter the giveaway at the bottom of this post.

Strawberries are great in the warm weather! Check out this fun and easy to make Strawberry Marshmallow and Cracker Cake Recipe from Rachel Ray. Nom Nom! Click here!
Image credit to Pinterest/Savoring Italy/BakeDuchess.com 

Let's be honest, if you don't have access to a pool, lake, or are landlocked (or just extremely pale and sensitive to the sun like me), outdoor activities in summer might not be ideal. Or the weather could be terrible. So you need some backups! For indoor activities, I have two great movies for you to check out - one for your family and one for you and your girlfriends. You need a girls' night out this summer-trust me!

First of course,  you and your family are definitely going to see Finding Dory! How can you not?!

Secondly, for your girls' night out, if you haven't heard of the movie Bad Moms, once you peek at the trailer, you will want to see it!

Click here or on the image below to grab this summer writing freebie! It would be great to send home with your students if you're still teaching, for some end of the year practice, or if you're tutoring or want something for your own child to use for practice this summer!

Now, let's take a look at what is in those prize packs! Scroll to the bottom for the rafflecopters so you can enter to win!

Prize Pack 1 a Rafflecopter giveaway
Prize Pack 2 a Rafflecopter giveaway
Prize Pack 3 a Rafflecopter giveaway
Prize Pack 4 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Sit Spots!

Sit Spots: How they are working in my classroom

Hey everyone!  I wanted to let you know about SitSpots! Have you heard of them?  Did you know they were created by a kindergarten teacher in 2012? She had switched from 5th grade to teaching 25 kindergarteners and quickly realized spatial management would be one of the keys to success.  She created them to help her class and now they are shipping across the country to teachers like us. 

SitSpots will send you a sample so you can check and see if they are compatible with your carpet. You can also write on SitSpots, however, traditional markers and traditional Sharpie may smudge or come off. SitSpots recommends you use oil based sharpies. SitSpots even sells them
Sit Spots: How they are working in my classroom
I decided to try them out because I was noticing kiddos having trouble choosing where to sit and in particular how close to sit to others - and we don't have tons of space.  So some would sit thisclose to their friend and even when I told them to move over they would inch their way back so their bodies were touching again! Other kids would sit so far away from everyone else in the back or on the side that  I doubted they could see the lesson at the easel. Also, some kiddos were sprawling out like they were lounging on a beach towel, taking up precious room in our small space so other kids were stuck in tiny areas. I was always trying to get them to sit criss cross applesauce but tiring of having to say so multiple times each day.

To be fully transparent, SitSpots did send me a class set of  them with the understanding I would publish an honest review on my blog. I always write with integrity and you can be certain that everything in my post is true and not influenced by the situation.

I chose the heart shaped SitSpots because HEART is our school motto and we talk about HEART every day.  I looked at our rug area and estimated about how much room each child would need to sit criss cross applesauce on the rug. Then I had them try it out.  A few kiddos were a little squished so at the end of the day, with a forceful lift, I pulled a few hearts up and moved them. I had one kiddo who told me she was squished , but when  I looked,  she had tons of room compared to some of my students who were truly cramped. SitSpots helped me evaluate what was a reasonable amount of distance between students.
Sit Spots: How they are working in my classroom
Here is a side view of our meeting area. I had to instruct kids to sit right on them because at first I had two students during the day at different times started playing with them. They work kind of like velcro so that was creating distracting velcro noises. But I didn't have to worry that the kids could take them off because they are pretty strong. I can move them around but it is with a forceful lift. My second graders can't seem to lift them off easily.
Sit Spots: How they are working in my classroom
Overall, the SitSpots have been really helpful! They allow my students to sit close enough to see the lessons, but not so squished that they are uncomfortable and distracted. There are so many options available  that you could use them for lessons too. The 2-D geometric shapes looked intriguing and like they could have been used for math lessons. I can also see using them for random grouping, like "If you are sitting on a pink heart, you are in group one". "If you are sitting on a red heart, you are in group two".

I also informed the cleaning staff that they could vacuum right over them because I was thinking they would just avoid vacuuming that area. It is pretty convenient they can be vacuumed over. They are also great because they are way cheaper than buying an expensive area rug with stripes or squares to manage student seating. I also have assigned seats on the rug this year but because SitSpots have been so helpful I have recently been able to let them pick where to sit. A benefit is there are only as many hearts as there are kids, so if Timmy wants to sit next to his friend Keith (who distracts him) but the hearts next to Keith are already taken, Timmy has to pick a different seat. I also have a child who sits in a cube chair so I have him sit on the left side of the heart on the end of the 2nd row. That way he has a good view but isn't blocking anyone else's view of the easel.

The only thing I wish is that you did'n't need special Sharpies to write on them, but I think the fabric stickiness is more important than writability. The SitSpots website has a great, helpful information section. Click here to see it. Here is their store: SitSpots store. SitSpots has definitely been a hit and I have definitely given them a thumbs up to  my colleagues who have asked, "What are those"?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Tips to Get Organized for the End of the Year NOW

Hey everyone! A few months ago I did a Periscope discussing how you can be prepared for the end of the year in advance. Now, I know in some parts of the country the school year is ending in a month, but a few of the tips may still help you AND there are always things to keep in mind for next year, right? I also have a little freebie to go along with this so if you'd like to find it, keep reading. I know I hate scrambling to get things done before the last day so let's try and plan ahead.
1. Get Organized in Advance
Just this basic concept is important, but can be tough to do. Think back to what you had to the last month of school last week. Make a lists, or if you had a hard copy list last year, find it. You can also search for teacher end of the year to-do lists online. Reminding yourself what you will need to deal with will help you know how much time you need to get things done and when you should really start. Here are a couple free lists or guides to ending the school year that I like and have used:

Clutter Free Classroom's Ending the School Year Guide
Scholastic's Closing the Year List (not a printable pdf, but you could print it out so you could actually check it off)
Sam and Scout's End of the Year Checklist
2. Think About and End-of-the-Year Gift for Your Students
Before you get stressed or worried, different people have different opinions about this one. First, mull it over and decide if you think it is appropriate to give your students a gift and if you would like to do so. If you would, think about what gift would be great for your kids. Research on Pinterest and online teacher blog. If you want to personalize it, you want to start working on it soon. For me, I always love giving  a book to each child and I use my Scholastic bonus points so it is free (thank  you so much Scholastic!). So  I start in the fall once I get to know my kids and each time we do a book order I grab 3-5 low point/low cost books that would be great for students. By the end of the year I have a book for each child and a couple backups (in case I find out June 10 that Sasha has just read Mr. Burke is Beserk and that was the book I had picked out for her!).

3. Figure Out When You Are Going to Do Report Cards
I dislike having to do report cards the last month of school but that I don't have a choice. Plus with so many extra tasks piled on and on, I get so overwhelmed. This trick works for me. I look at my calendar a couple months before school ends and find a weekend to mark in my calendar (not just in my head) that that is when I will do report cards. I simply cannot do report cards on weeknights, so weekends is my only option. If you want to work on them on weeknights, simply choose however many nights you need, and put them on your calendar, preferably NOT at the last minute. I find June is REALLY busy outside of school with class reunions, graduations, family parties, birthdays etc. so I do not want all of my weekends to fill up and then be stuck doing report cards the night before the last day of school. Plus it is always good to have them done, printed, copied, sand in the envelopes sealed one or two days in advance. One year I ended up in the emergency room the last day of school and luckily my cards were all set - my friend just double checked them and had the sub pass them out. Yikes, right? If I hadn't had them in the classroom, all done, my mom would have had to leave the hospital, go to my house, get them, drive them to school and drive them back!
4. Schedule End of the Year Activities Early
The other second grade teachers and I began to choose dates for end of the year events in February this year. For us the end of the year calendar fills up fast and we have to work around other grade levels. Plus we have special school-wide events to work around. Getting first dibs on dates for things like the field trip or the parent-student picnic saves so much stress! Also you can spread your end of the year events out better, like during a four week or so period if you get those dates in advance. If not you may end up having 2-3 big events in one week and being super busy or stressed!
5. Put Things Away as You Go
This is a tough one for me to keep up with but it really helps. If you put things away as you go, it will make your life easier. In my school, we have to put away or pack up almost everything in our classroom. That is a big job, and a few times I had to come back after to last day of school to do this packing up, especially with no air conditioning around the end of June. So, to save that from happening, as you finish units and finish using seasonal materials, get them in a box and labeled. I also would recommend that as you organize and put things away, that you leave items that you will need the first few weeks of school in clearly labeled bins or boxes and put those boxes at the front or on top of your classroom materials. That way when you open your door in the summer, what you need for day 1 will be right there and easily accessible!

Now, what is the freebie? The freebie is a PDF with a shorter version of these suggestions if you'd like to keep it handy without having to come to my website, or you can print it out and put it in your teacher planner. All you have to do is click on the Purple HELLO Bar at the top of the page and submit your email or on the HELLO pop up button on this page. You will also be subscribed to my newsletter and each month I send one newsletter with tips, freebies, and sometimes I even run giveaways through my newsletter! Your information is safe with me and never shared and you can subscribe at any time.
Thanks to Creative Clips for the fun and beautiful frames used to make the headings! 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

What have you Missed on Periscope?

Reading and Writing Redhead: What have you missed on Periscope? Everything from organization tips, to tips from Jen Jones, to book suggestions for kids and more!
So if you haven't gotten on the Periscope app yet, you might have missed some helpful scopes! I have been on Periscope several times a week with tips for both classroom teachers and for Teachers Pay Teachers sellers and bloggers. If you have not seen my scopes, they do disappear after 24 hours on Periscope but I set my account up so  you can watch my replays on the website katch.me. 

I can also share a few of the katch replays here but let me give you a rundown of the Periscopes I have done so far (give or take a few).

Periscope is a great way for classroom teachers to get some PD in the exact area they need from home. You can be in your PJs for all we know. Whether you are looking for inspiration  to keep up a positive attitude, or ideas for differentiating math games, or organization tips, someone on Periscope has scoped about it.  Here are some of the topics of my past Periscopes for Teachers.

Periscopes for Teachers:
Tips to Set Your Class up for Success when you have a Substitute
IKEA Haul for the Classroom
How Teachers Can Securely and Privately Text Message Parents
Tip to Help you Stay Organized with all of those Student Papers
One Way I Keep my Reading Center Materials Organized
Flexible Seating
What are Interactive Notebooks?
Great Websites for Math Games and Resources for Teachers
Getting Organized for Parent-Teacher Conferences
Books for Black History Month
5 Things to Think about Now for the End of the Year
Fitting Exercise into a Busy Life

Periscope is a terrific opportunity for  bloggers and TPTers to get advice and tips on running their business and managing their time. There have been scopes on scheduling pins for Pinterest, juggling family, teaching and blogging and many other topics, too!  Here are some of the topics of my past Periscopes for teacher bloggers.

Periscopes for Teacher Bloggers/TPTers:
Many from the Northeastern Regional TPT Meet Up including
Jen Jones of Hello Literacy
Tabitha Carro of Smartphone Marketing School and Flapjack Educational Resources
Erin Cobb of  Lovin' Lit
Jodi Durgin of Clutter Free Classroom
E-mail Scheduling
Tailwind for Pinterest
and tons more!

Here are a few of them:
For the rest, head over to katch.me!

Hope to see you on Periscope. I've also been trying out Facebook Live on my Facebook page so feel free to stop by and check me out there.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Fun with Magformers!

I'm definitely excited to share some information about the awesome magnetic toy called Magformers with you. I first saw  these at my friend's house. Her son loved them and I enjoyed playing with them too! Check out the info and grab them over at Educents.
UltimateMagformersGuide Building with Magformers encourages children to use their imagination and show their creativity while developing skills and knowledge critical to their developmental success. Magformers uses high quality “always attracting” magnetic technology that provides endless constructional play. Educents offers all of the following sets of Magformers and more! Learn more about the educational value of each set, and find the special set that your child will love.

The Beginner Set

Good For: Ages 3+ Magformers are super powerful shapes that transform into colorful geometric builds that adhere on every edge with magnets. Build simple forms from houses to rockets that spin freely to ensure that every side attracts to other pieces. The possibilities are endless with this 30-piece sets which include 18 squares and 12 triangles! Magformers_fine motor practiceBuy Now
"I definitely recommend Magformers for a few reasons. I love how sturdy they are, the creations don’t fall apart! You can do a lot with a few pieces, we have the smallest set and it has already provided hours of play. I love the colors and the way you can add other sets onto your first set to keep expanding. The appeal to young and older kids is a big plus, it’s a great family toy. So much learning happens through play and this toy is no exception!" -Carisa, Blogger from 1+1+1=1
This is a great toy for children with special needs.
"Focus on colors. Combine the two shapes when introducing colors. Begin by only introducing one color by laying the shapes flat on a table. Name the color. Eventually, have the child sort colors and connect shapes of the same color. Keep the shapes flat as each shape is double-sided and possesses two different colors." - Gabriella V., Special Needs Homeschool Blogger

Magformers Walking Robot Set

  Do your kids like superheroes? They can build a superhero robot! Maybe they like spacemen instead. This robot kit comes with a guide book that has directions for 8 different robots for your little engineer. Or, maybe your child dances to the beat of her own drum and would prefer to use her imagination instead of a set of rules. Your child can even create their own robot character since the possibilities are endless with Magformers! Once they are built, their robot can walk at two different speeds. Magformers set Buy Now


The Light Show Set

Good For: Ages 4 - 12 The Magformers Light Show Set allows boys and girls of all ages to light up their imagination and create out of this world designs. They will have magical fun bringing out all the fun colors of the magnetic shapes when adding the light. Kids can build stars, space ships, shiny diamonds, the designs are endless! The only activity kids won't be afraid to do in the dark! magformers light setBuy Now

The WOW Set

Good For: Ages 5 - 12 Kids can speed away with the Magformers WOW set by forming mini vehicles with squares, triangles, and wheels! Kids will have endless hours of fun in the driver seat with this 16 piece set designing 20 mini vehicles to start. Once they put their imagination and creativity to work they can design their own vehicles with this set. Vroom, vroom! magformers wow set Buy Now

The Deep Sea Set

Good For: Ages 6 - 12 Kids can go on a deep sea adventure by building a variety of deep sea creatures such as a dolphin, shark, or whales with this set! The Magformers Deep Sea construction set comes with 46 pieces for building. The pieces come in different shapes and connect together on any side. Kids will be able to explore the bottom of the sea by creating over 10 deep sea creatures and much more! magformers deep sea Buy Now  
"The children in my class all want to make new creations...helping each other to make better and better ones." - Kathryn C., Educents customer

The Emergency Cruiser Set

Good For: Ages 6 - 12 Your kids will come to the rescue with the Magformers XL Cruisers Emergency 33-Piece Magnetic Building Set. Whether they want to be a police officer or firefighter they can create a police car or fire truck, by constructing red and blue shapes and accessories, lights and sound included!

magformers cruiser set

Buy Now

The Magformers Math Activity Book

Good For: Ages 6 - 12 Give kids a fun way to learn basic math skills, recognize shapes and create patterns with the Magformers Math Activity Book! This book is full of great ideas to help the little ones develop their basic math skills while using Magformers magnetic pieces. magformers Buy Now  

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Follower Thank you Giveaway!

 Hello folks! I could not believe it last week! I hit some amazing milestones on social media and it is all thanks to all of you! Check out what happened below!

On Facebook, I hit 4,000 followers! WHAT?! Yes! On Instagram which I have been loving lately I hit 700 followers last week. And finally on my newest social media app, Periscope, I hit 100 followers last week too. I can't beieve it! Thank you so much for your support, dedication, and love. I am so glad that my posts and videos have been entertaining you, inspiring you, amusing you , and helping make teaching a little more fun and easier for you.

 To say THANK you, I am hosting a giveaway! Woohoo! Who doesn't like a giveaway? I will be giving away a $25 gift card to Barnes and Noble AND I decided to throw in $10 to my TPT store! Wouldn't you like to grab some books for your class in B&N or some goodies for yourself (a few months ago I bought a cool Wonder Woman cup there for ME)? And I bet you would like to find something in my TPT for your class! It's easy... just check out the Rafflecopter below and there are a bunch of easy ways to enter! Thank you SO much and good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway