Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Choosing a Class Pet: Ziggy Tales Giveaway!

I am super excited to be taking part in the book tour for Ziggy Tales by Kathleen M. Wainwright. 

This book is adorable and the characters are so easy to love. It would be great for a longer read-aloud, or you could even use it in small groups with your higher Firsties or Second grade readers. I have some Firsties that already know all 600 sight words and this would be a great book for them to read and dive into with some of the companion activities that Kathleen has created.

In this book, Ziggy Tales, Marley begins by trying to choose the perfect pet. Some of her ideas included a horse, tarantula, hamster, rabbit, and a cat. Marley did research online with a friend and didn't make her decision right away. She took time to think about each of her pet ideas and what they needed. 

So...let's talk about choosing class pets.

First, if you haven't heard of Pets in the Classroom yet, please click the picture below! This link will take you to their site where teachers can apply for grants to help with getting and maintaining classroom pets!


If you have a classroom pet, you have probably learned a lot already about having the pet you chose. You could make a list on the pros and cons of having your pet that was chosen...

BUT, if you don't have your pet yet, here are some things you should definitely consider:

#1 For starters, make sure you are aware of the social needs of your potential pet. Marley found out the hard way that her pet Ziggie was bored at home. She needed to find ways to keep Ziggie entertained. 
If you choose a pet that needs lots of attnetion, planning classroom "playtime" each day would be a must and you would need to schedule different volunteers to take your pet home on weekends. (Unless you do this each weekend)

#2 You must consider student allergies. There are some students who may be allergic to certain pets. For example, a few years ago I had a student that was allergic to rodents. We had show and tell and one student brought in a guinea pig. The student with the allergy LITERALLY broke out in hives. 

#3 If you are on a tight budget (let's face it...most teachers are), you need to consider the costs. How much money will the start up cost? Will your pet need a cage, heat lamps, sand/soil/rocks/woodchips, toys, food, vitamins, etc....And, then upkeep costs: How often will you need to buy food and change out the cage terrain?

#4 Speaking of changing out terrain, the next question to ask yourself is how often will your pet and/or their cage need to be cleaned out and how much work would that entail?

#5 Something else you may not be thinking of at the time you buy your pet: What is its life expectancy? Are you buying a pet that has a short life expectancy? If so, will you be giving the "He/She is no longer with us..." talk soon? OR, on the other hand, are you buying a "lifelong" friend that will be with the class (AND YOU) for 20 + years? Just something to think about.

This is our class pet, Mr. Zip Hamperbottom :) ...(yes, the students named him)

He is a leopard gecko that I bought last year when he was just a few weeks old. He is almost ONE YEAR :) and I could not be happier with him. 

Here are some reasons why I think I chose the PERFECT classroom pet:

#1 He does not bite...and even if he did, it would not hurt. 
#2 He lives in an aquarium with sand and a few tunnels. I only have to change out his sand about once every six weeks. I do have to scoop his poop, but it is very easy and not messy at all.
#3 My students can hold him and let him climb on their shirts....which they love and he also seems to really enjoy! (We MUST sanitize our hands after we hold him.)
#4 He doesn't make he is not a big distraction. 
#5 I have a pet helper each week that is in charge of making sure he has enough water, enough crickets (we drop in about 6 live crickets twice per week), and pets him on his back for a few minutes daily. 
#6 He is so low maintenance that I have no problem when I ask for parent helpers to keep him over weekends or long breaks.
#7 If I don't have a parent helper, I can put in about 8 live crickets and fresh water on a Friday afternoon and he is FINE until Monday morning. 

Now that you've read all about my classroom pet, I'd love to hear from you! Leave a comment telling me what you have in your classroom and why you picked that pet!

OH, and be sure to enter the giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And, please check out this super cute and kid-friendly book...written by a great friend of mine!

And before you go, here is a little Class Pet Freebie from the author herself! :)

Take a look at some of the other stops along this book tour:

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Product Swap: Lucky to Be in First!

One of my favorite things to do in the blogging world is participate in a PRODUCT SWAP!!! 
And, this one is no exception....

Thank you to Cassie from

Adventures in Teaching

Cassie got this whole linky Product Swap organized...which is a huge ordeal!!

For this swap, I got the chance to review a product from Molly over at 

Lucky to Be in First

When she sent me her store link and asked which product I'd like to review, I'm not going to was the first time I had ever made my way to her TpT store.

And, I felt like a kid in a candy store!!! 

It was a really tough choice, but because of a current situation with two of my struggling readers, I chose her Camp Comprehension packet.

One of the first things that I noticed about this packet is the variety! It is a packet all about different types of animals and for each animal she gives two differentiated passages. The pages look so similar though, your students probably wouldn't even notice that they were working on different levels! :)

On each page she gives different types of questions and there are several different directions for students. I'm not sure about you, but following directions is a huge area that we focus on in my class, so just the fact that these pages offer more practice in that is HUGE!

If you do any sort of animal unit, or camping unit, this packet would be a great addition. But, more importantly, if you are like me and need some kid-friendly passages for building reading comprehension skills then this is for you.

Here are a few more items from Molly's store that I thought looked AMAZING!

Molly will be reviewing my Science With Peeps packet this week, so if you want to learn more about that product, please click on her blog button up top to go check it out!
You can also click this picture below to see the item in my store:

Lots of other Firstie Friends are linking up and reviewing products!
Take a look:

We are also having a GIVEAWAY!!! How would you like to win Molly's Comprehension packet or any other packets you see below???


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Giveaway Winners and a Little Writing Freebie! little makeover giveaway is OVER and I'm super excited to share the winners!

First up, the winner of a blog makeover from Ruby Slippers Designs is Becca Marks!

Next, the winner of the Rainbow Ant Farm is Christin (no last name was given)!

And lastly, the winner of three products from my TpT store is Charlene Sequiera!

I am so excited for each of you and can't wait for you to find out!! I've already email each of you :)

AND< if you are NOT one of the ladies above, there is still a little something in the post for you!

I am posting a little Spring writing freebie just for you guys!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Check it out! A Makeover and 3 Giveaways!

Eeeeek! I'm am so stinkin' excited about this big reveal! I've been going back and forth on whether I wanted to update the look of my blog and finally took the leap!

I LOVE Barbara's work over at Ruby Slippers Designs!
Thank you for being so talented and amazing to work with Barbara :)

And, because I'm so excited...and because Barbara is SO AWESOME, we are giving away a blog makeover to ONE lucky reader!!!! 

To win the makeover and give your blog an unbelievable awesome update, get yourself entered right here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For those of you readers that don't blog...or for you bloggers who are looking for something fun and new to do with your classroom, I have another little giveaway!

How would you like to win a Rainbow Ant Farm for your kiddos!??
Spring is one of the best times to learn about insects and an Ant Farm is such a cool way to watch how a colony of ants work together. Enter below to win this cool Rainbow Ants ant farm. *Note: Ants not included and must be ordered separately. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And, for another fun little giveaway to make your Spring a bit more fun, I am giving away any 3 of my products to ONE lucky reader! You can choose 3 items from my store once I announce you are the winner. :) Easy peasy!

Get entered for this one below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Spring Crafts and Cupcakes and a Giveaway!

Ok, before I start, I feel I should admit...

I am NOT a crafty person!

At least, I'm not if I compare myself to almost everything I see on Pinterest...and my friend Katie who can LITERALLY make anything from her own clothes to her kids' bunkbeds and storage cubbies!

BUT, I can do EASY crafts...and let's face it...busy moms and busy teachers NEED easy crafts!

So, with SPRING break underway, I had time over the past couple of weeks to get a little bit crafty. 

This is for all you CRAFTERS out there :) because, frankly, after completing these crafts I'm about to show you, well...I felt like a CRAFTING BADASS! lol

Now that I've talked up my projects, I should show them to you.

First up, I made an EASTER EGG WREATH! It was super fun and would be a great craft to do with your kids...just make sure an adult is running the hot glue gun. (Although, I'll admit...I'm a grown woman who has lots of glue burns now.)


Well, needless to say, after I accomplished that amazingly awesome wreath, I couldn't stop the next day, I talked my daughter into helping me make some Easter/Spring themed cupcakes. It didn't take much. I just told her there would be icing, peeps, and jellybeans. I think I had her at icing though :)

First up....we made Peeps in a Pond, which would be cute for Easter, Spring, or if you do any sort of chicks or egg hatching unit. 

We used vanilla cupcake batter, blue raspberry frosting, and the original yellow peeps.

And, again, because now I'm feeling like a crafter AND a little like a pro pastry chef, I kept

and these turned out EVEN cuter than the peeps in the pond.

I used vanilla cupcake batter, green frosting, blue bunny peeps, and jellybeans....

Martha your heart out! :) 

Hope you enjoyed seeing my crafting and baking adventures for Spring break.

NOW, please head over to my friend Tamara's page...she is having a WEEK of giveaways to celebrate her birthday along with Faith and Daina. These ladies are all amazing and the giveaway is even MORE amazing than my cupcakes...well, maybe :)
Click this image to go see the giveaway action

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Book Lovin' Party: What are you Reading?

I LOVE Amanda's Book Lovin' Linky party idea. It's always fun to see what everyone else is reading aloud with their kiddos.

Like Amanda, my First graders have become very bored with what they call "little books" and want more chapter books for read alouds. They like that it is a story that can last for days and sometimes a few weeks. It always leads to amazing conversations and I can use the read alouds to come up with pretty awesome journal prompts too.

Here are just a few of my favorite chapter book read alouds:

This first one, Daisy Dawson and the Secret Pond is part of the Daisy Dawson series. My students loved this book because Daisy can talk to animals and along with her animal friends, she goes on lots of adventures!

This is the first year EVER I have read a Junie B. book to my class. It took me a long time to warm up to them because of Junie's sass. However, my students LOVE them, and I find a lot of teachable moments when we stop to talk about her behavior. I read this one to my kiddos in February :)

This is an oldie but goodie :) 
The Elevator Family is such a funny and heartwarming story about a very odd, but sweet family that move into an elevator during their stay at a hotel. My class loves this one EVERY YEAR!

And, last, but NOT of my personal favorites...Gooney Bird Greene!
This is the perfect book to use if you are beginning a study on personal narratives and it has some amazing vocabulary in it to discuss too. 

I can't wait to see what books you link up over on Amanda's blog. TO see what everyone else shares, just click the BOOK LOVIN' button up top!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

St. Patrick's Fun and Freebies!

St. Patrick's day has always been a day that I have just LOVED...I went to high school in a town called "Dublin" Georgia and during the month of March there were DAILY happenings! When I moved away it became very clear that not everyone got this excited about the holiday and I shouldn't expect a huge citywide pancake breakfast followed by Art in the Park and then a big downtown block party lol....

BUT, I can share the excitement with my class and with my fellow teachers! This year, we are on Spring Break and so I won't be able to use all my fun St. Patty's ideas, but I wanted to share them with you, just in case you need some last minute ideas.

First up, this is a bulletin board that I do sometimes with my class...they make their pots of gold with rainbows and then write on the pot of gold. It turns out really cute and it's super easy. 
You can click here to see the steps to make this! 

And, this is our bulletin board that we created last week before the students left for Spring Break!

One really easy and cute idea that I did a couple of years ago was similar to a "heart attack" where you put hearts everywhere...except, instead of hearts, I cut out a large shamrock for each of my students. Then, on each Shamrock I wrote "I AM LUCKY TO HAVE YOU IN MY CLASS BECAUSE...." and I thought of something unique to say about each student. I hung those all around the room one afternoon and they saw them the next morning when they came to class. It made them smile so big and they LOVED reading them over and over :)

Here are a couple of fun FREEBIES that I found and/or made! 

#1 First Grade and Fabulous made this amazing freebie! You can click the picture to visit her store and download it!

#2 This little pack of Ready to Go printables from Sheila Melton

#3 This cute and easy writing page that I made to get my students thinking and writing creatively: (click picture to go download for FREE)
#4 Here is a fun set of phonics poems for St. Patrick's! These would be perfect to write out on sentence strips and put in a pocket chart! 

And, these are a few of my FAVORITE Pinterest finds that I would TOTALLY be trying if I was in school next week!

These are just so cute and so easy...even if you didn't have the shamrock cut outs, you could let students punch holes or cut the edges with silly scissors!

These are just so simple, but so beautiful! They could be paired with so many different writing activities too!

I am a sucker for any kind of handprint craft, so this was right up my alley! :)

And, this one is just a cool, easy project kids could do at home or in class to show all the things that make them feel lucky...

I hope that you have found something or things that you can use this St. Patrick's day/week! 

OH, and my St. Patrick's Pot of Gold for Math and ELA is on sale for $3 until Tuesday! Be sure you check it's got tons of ideas for centers, partner work, and independent work.

May the LUCK o' the Irish be with you :) 

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