Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Kagan

 Kagan Training

Do you have training after school is out? Ours is optional but highly encouraged.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Tried It Tuesday: Heritage Makers

Well, this isn't exactly a new try, but I did get one of my orders today and I was super excited! 
I am part of Heritage Makers. It is a form of digital scrapbooking, basically. I am able to access my photos anywhere and work on multiple projects. There are many different products you can create from story books to postcards to bags to mugs to lots of other things! 

It is a business that you can do at from home. I am not a consultant, just wanted to share something that makes me happy! *Update* I decided to join and become a consultant. If you are interested at all, let me know! Visit my website

I decided to join when my daughter was about 3 months old. I realized that I was already getting behind on her pictures but I couldn't haul out all my scrapbooking things just to have to put them away again. (I am normally a binge scrapbooker.) There were too many small pieces to have around. This became a way that I could scrapbook, keep my house relatively clean, and be immediately available if needed. I was also able to do this one-handed! When Kasila would fall asleep in my arms, and was too cute to put down, I could hold her and scrapbook. It was awesome! It meant that by the time we visited family that summer, I had a book of her from birth - 6 months to show off! I'm not caught up any more, but I did finally finish her 6months - 12months and that's what I got in the mail today! School kind of took up a lot of my scrapbooking time I had when on maternity leave and summer break. :)

Here's a look at the Heritage Makers website:

These are my completed projects that I can order: 
12 x 12 story book, a small flip book, calendars (for Christmas presents), playing cards, ornaments, and a brag book for Grandma.

This is a look at the studio editor while creating your projects. You have access to a lot of different digital papers, clipart, and even templates to get you started. This is a little flip book I'm making of my daughter with her teddy bear. 

I would compare Heritage Makers to Shutterfly. I've done both. If you are going to be continuously producing books or items, I would totally recommend Heritage Makers! The books are high quality and there is way more choice in every aspect!

Here's a little flip book I made for Kasila so she would know her family that doesn't live nearby, which is all of them. (Forgive the pictures, I'm still learning and all I have is my phone.)

Friday, May 23, 2014

Five for Friday: School's Out!

My kiddos know me so well. This is the perfect card for me as I adore piggies! I was definitely showered with love by the kids. I received quite a few hugs from students I never would have expected it from!

We had our Initial Program Overview on Wednesday. We had to add an extra day due a snow day, so the district made it a PD day instead of a student contact day. This way they were able to give us a little bit of time with our new math program. There are definitely mixed feelings at my school. We are having to give up Saxon, which they have been doing since um… forever. I am not as tied to Saxon as others and I'm looking forward to working through chapters. Every program has its quirks but I'm hopeful about this one! 
If you have any insights to Go Math, please comment and let me know! 

On our last work day, the 5th grade team got together and we put together our class lists for next year. I am super excited about it because now I am able to think about the students I have when planning during the summer! I have a generally idea of who is going to be in my homeroom, reading and math classes. It's going to be a great year as I loop up with my kids from this year!

I get to spend more time with this adorable, little munchkin! This is on our walk #tothemailbox!

This is what happens when you get a frisbee stuck in a tree at family night at the fire station! My hubby is the one operating the ladder on the main truck.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Book A Day {Day 21}

This is a book that a couple of colleagues and I are considering for a novel study. None of us have actually read it, but I have read some great reviews about it out here in blog land. 
I don't have any products or insights to share yet, but I will once I've actually read it!

by R.J. Palacio

Wordless Wednesday: Room Clean Up

I am changing rooms next year to go with my new position in 5th grade, so I have to extensively clean out my whole room. I'm getting there. Normally, we have to pile everything into one part of the room.

What do you have to do to ready your room for the summer?


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Art Tuesday: Leaf Rubbings

In an earlier post, I mentioned that my 4th graders made calendars with pieces of art based on Alaska. I saw that Mel at Frog Spot has an art link up. I thought it would be fun to show a few of the calendar pieces we do. I will share one today and another on a different Tuesday! (I need to have something to blog about throughout the summer!) 

September here in Alaska is way different from the lower 48! I remember growing up in Eastern Oregon and then spending time in Cache Valley, Utah for college. The fall was lit up in color! Here in AK, we mainly get yellow/green in the fall. It is also very quick! Once the leaves turn, it is only a week or two before they fall. My school is named after a creek, which is named after a common tree up here, cottonwoods. We try to get all the kids to do a rubbing of a cottonwood tree for the calendar, but it doesn't always happen. This is usually the first calendar page we do. 

We take the kids out and let them find a few leaves from the ground. After they all have their leaves,  they practice leaf rubbings on a blank paper before they do it on their classifying worksheet. Once they have their rubbings, they identify the shape, the vein pattern, and the type of edge. After all of that, they are usually able to get a great rubbing for their calendar! They also get creative and start mixing colors. 

To do a leaf rubbing there are a few key steps. 
First, have a fresh leaf. If the leaf is old, the veins aren't as plump and won't show up in the rubbing as well. 
Second, use a crayon that doesn't have any paper on it and hold it horizontal. 
Three, hold the paper with the non-crayon hand so that it doesn't slip around. If it slips, your rubbing will become all smudged and not as clear.
Four, if needed, lift the crayon and carefully push away from you on areas that are not being cooperative. 

Practice makes perfect!

How do you integrate art and/or science into your day?


Tried It Tuesday: GoNoodle

I have seen GoNoodle all over blog land. I had been doing movement with my class all year but I never got around to Go Noodle. A couple of my primary colleagues did check it out however. They loved it! So much that during a much needed brain break at a PD Day staff meeting, they brought it up to share with everyone. We did one of the dance videos and one of the Maximo clips. It was fun! I'm definitely going to be trying it out with students next year! 

One thing that I really liked was the calm movement. I have a super high energy class next year and this will be a great way to do more of yoga with them, since I've never done yoga. We do have some yoga peeps on our staff though!

Do you do brain breaks at staff meetings?


Are We Crazy? Overnight Field Trip

The rite of passage activity for the 4th graders at my school is an overnight field trip to Seward, AK. It takes A LOT to get organized. There are arrangements with places to be made, permission slips and money to collect, food to buy and prepare to serve, and then actually be willing to spend almost 36 hours straight with our students. CRAZY! The days before the field trip are busy, busy and the kids are super excited. There are a few times that I think "I'm crazy. I can't do this." but it always works out well and everyone has a lifetime experience! That is why we do it. That is why we stress ourselves out and even corner some parents to get them to sign the permission slip. For some of these kids, this the only time they will ever be able to experience anything like this. 

Our first stop is the playground/pavilion. The kids get to run around after being on the bus for 3 1/2 hours. This year, they actually were on a bus longer because their first bus started overheating so they had to get a new one. (I drove my own car because my little family was able to come with. You'll also see my daughter in some pictures instead of students because I don't have to blur out her face.)

They were able to see a sea otter and a couple of sea lions from the shore by the playground!

Our next stop was the Alaska Sea Life Center. It is a great place that focuses on Alaska marine animals. It is also a rehabilitation center for some animals. The kids were divided into small groups and sent with a chaperone and a scavenger hunt. This was a must. If the students don't have something specific to be looking at/for, they tend to just wander through without paying much attention to the information. 

Enjoying the Touch Tank!

Sugar, the female sea lion, putting on a show for they kids. Woody, the male sea lion, was in a back area. He is huge though! He weights 1,700 lbs!

We walked past this little cafe and one of my students pointed out that if they took out the Z then it would be my cafe. I couldn't resist a picture after that.

Playing a little bit of football with an awesome dad! 

We stayed the night in the gym of the local elementary school. The next morning we were up and at 'em and headed to the boat. We participated in the Kenai Fjord Marine Science Workshops.

Heading out into Resurrection Bay

Kids pulling in some plankton to look at under microscopes. They had to identify zooplankton and phytoplankton.

Checking out animals that are decomposers, consumers, and scavengers after a prevention from a park ranger.

Pulling in some water to determine the salinity. 

Sea lions! They did have a class on marine mammals and sea birds and their adaptations for the arctic.

We were able to see many different animals. On the shore, we saw mountain goats and sea lions. Out in the water, we saw a North Pacific Humpback whale, Dall's porpoise, many sea birds, sea otter, and a small pod of orcas!

One even decided to come check out our boat! That was really exciting!

The field trip wouldn't be the same without an awesome team that coordinates their jackets without talking!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Simplify Tips: Scissors & Extra 'Stuff'

I thought that I'd share just a couple of things that I used in my classroom this last year that really saved me a headache! 

Simplify Tip #1: 

Now I can't take the credit for this tip. One of my team teachers did this and I thought it was brilliant so I did it too. The last few years, we have done community supplies in our 4th grade. Partly because our students are moving from room to room all day and we didn't want them hauling things all over the place. They don't really have a place to store the extra stuff. This is how I ended up storing the scissors for use in my room.
It's just an empty basket turned upside down! It worked great for passing out, picking up, and just storing. 

Simplify Tip #2:

I do not like student materials on the floor. With our kids switching rooms, they don't always have a place to put the stuff they aren't using. We also got iPads and I definitely didn't want that on the floor, but I did want them to be able to set them out of their sights. Thanks to my wonderful mother, I was able have these awesome chair covers in my room!

They are perfect for a binder, textbook, and iPad. You can purchase some covers like this at various teacher stores. These are made from outdoor canvas based of the look of a seat sack found at

What have you done to simplify your classroom?


A Book A Day: {Day 19}

I haven't been very good at keep up with this but I still think it's fun to try! This last week was pretty busy and I'm still playing catch up. 

Picking up today…Day 19

This book and activity was shared during one of my reading methods classes. It was used to show how using synonyms and descriptive words help make stories more interesting.

The first time you read the book, you say "napping" for every character. It makes it a pretty nap worthy story and not very fun. The next part you can do as a class, small groups, or individuals. Come up with some other words that could be used instead of "napping." I had forgotten about this activity until recently (thanks to this link up) so I can't say what I've done. I do think that this could be a great activity for me to use with my intervention reading class next year. We could even create a class book using the sentences from it as frames. As a conclusion, read the book as it is really written. It would be fun to see how many of the same words your students came up with!