Sunday, June 30, 2013

Let's Get Acquainted!

I'm new to teacher blogging, so I thought Flying Into First's  "Let's Get Aquainted Linky Party was a fun way to introduce myself. 

Topic- Tic Tac Toe
How it Works:  Look at the graphic below.  It is a Tic Tac Toe board filled with different categories.  You will post about three of these categories but they have to make Tic Tac Toe.  For example, you can choose to write about 3 topics that go vertical, or 3 topics that go horizontal, or three topics that go diagonal. 

I decided to do the middle row going down. :)

My Favorite Subject to Teach and Why?
I pretty much love it all, except not so much Math, but teaching Writing is my favorite. :) I love how they can barely write a sentence coming in to 1st grade, some not even that much, and by the end, they can write a whole page and even have capital letters, periods, and commas! They grow SO MUCH in 1st grade! I love giving them topics and see where they go with it. Their little personalities come out in their writing and it's awesome! So much improves in their writing from the day they set foot in my classroom. They learn proper handwriting (usually), proper grammar (most of the time), how to complete a thought and explain it, etc. They are able to write so much in such a sort amount of time. It's amazing to me each and every year. 

My Favorite School Memory
I have so many! I LOVED school! Hmm, wonder if that's why I became a teacher? :) Most of my favorites happened in 4th grade. My teacher was awesome. I want to be her! Shout out to Mrs. Shepherd!  Anyway, she LOVED France. At the end of the year, she took us on a "trip" to France. She taught us some french words. Now that was REALLY cool to know FRENCH in 4th grade! She told us to pack our bags. And when we came in the next morning, the classroom was transformed into an airplane. We got in our "plane" seats and hit the road. We even got airplane snacks. She taught us all about France and it was like we were really there. It was awesome. I still remember it quite well, so it obviously made a big impression. Hmmm, kids learn by DOING, novel concept! :) 

Favorite Clothes and Shoe Store
As I said before, I am cheap/thrifty. I don't like to spend money, especially on myself. I must say though, that I really like Maurice's for work clothes. They are super cute, have great layering ideas, really aren't that expensive (especially with a sale), and they last. I usually get my shoes at Ross or TJ Maxx. Again, cheap is my favorite word. :) I have a pair of sandals that I've had for 3 years and they are breaking. So last night I was complaining that I had to buy new shoes and my husband said something about me always buying cheap shoes. I said, " I don't think these were that cheap." He said, " Um, this is you, of course they were cheap shoes." Oops, guess it's that obvious. Oh well, they came from Target and they lasted 3 years, I think that is pretty good. Plus I save us a lot of money! 

Don't forget to link up and let's get to know each other!

Be fun and fabulous! 
~Mrs. Sweeney

Friday, June 28, 2013

Classroom Design Star WannaBe

Sooo, I REALLY love decorating classrooms, particularly MY classroom! :) Being in so many different classroom over the years, I have thousands of ideas floating in my brain. Now I get to turn a lot of those ideas into reality! Yippee!

My classroom this year is based mostly in the colors, lime green, sky blue, and brown. I LOVE those colors together and I think it fits me perfectly. Plus, it just so happens that my room color is the sky blue I've been dreaming about. Score! Who'd have thought when I picked those colors 2 years ago, that it would be so easy. Then the theme of my classroom is Jungle, particularly monkeys, but I threw in the other jungle animals just to be nice. :)

So, I'm a planner, a BIG planner, so I've been planning my classroom since I started back to school. Which makes it especially good because I am also CHEAP, I mean THRIFTY, so I've been stocking up on stuff for 3 years. When I see it on sale or cheap, I buy it. That way I've only been doing small amounts at a time, which is much easier on my budget, although my husband may not be saying the same thing at the moment. Oops.

Our extra room upstairs turned into my teaching room. My children call it the hoarder room. Maybe it's a little bit like a hoarder room, but it is nice and organized, so there! I had to fit a whole classroom worth of stuff into a little tiny office space, what can I say?! Anyway, I've been SOOO excited to get all of that stuff out of there. It's amazing how many things you find or forgot you had when you have a hoarder, I mean nicely organized teacher room. But I must say that I have A LOT of stuff which makes me happy that I only have to go and buy the little stuff you don't think of until the last minute like magnets for the white board. I COULD be buying bins, and books, and furniture, but thankfully, again, I'm a planner and thought ahead.

I of course, started working in my classroom as soon as I was given the ok. I mean really, like the minute I was given the ok. I just couldn't wait! I'm glad I didn't, because it makes me happy to go in and make my room beautiful. I love everything about it. That means I'll love being in it all day, everyday, which I think it important, don't you?!

So here's a little sneak preview. I did this my first day and I love it so, so much. It's exactly how I envisioned.  I can't wait until it is completely done with bulletin boards, files, notebooks, etc. I'm getting there. I've done much more since then. Shy Guy walked in earlier this week because I forced him to come and help me bring my thousands of books and he said, "It's a classroom already!". Yep, it's definitely a classroom and definitely looks like one. I COULD have kids tomorrow if I needed to, but now it's time to cutesify! Yes, I make up my own words. That makes me happy too.

Now, on to the sneak peek. :)

Now, I do sort of hate that my rug doesn't match. I do have another one upstairs in my fabulous teaching room, but the school bought these and every classroom has one. I sort of feel bad not using it, plus isn't it better to have 40 little first grader feet on a free carpet, rather than my "bought with my own money" carpet? THe more I look at it, the more I think it is ok, but I may change my mind at the last minute. We'll see. 

Be fun and fabulous!

~Mrs. Sweeney

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


So apparently Google is making it difficult to stay in touch with blogs by getting rid of Google Reader. Thankfully, Bloglovin' comes to the rescue! Don't forget to follow me and all of your other favorite blogs using Bloglovin'. The button is to the right!

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Thursday, June 20, 2013


So Eric Carle pretty much rocks, wouldn't you say? I love his books, the kids love his books, pretty much everybody loves his books. :) Not only do I love Eric Carle and all of his many, many fabulous books, I love doing activities based on Eric Carle and his books. In fact, I dedicated 20 something pages to him in my Eric Carle Author Study Pack.

Wanna see our fun activities?

 Contraction Caterpillars with an Eric Carle inspired background, of course.

 Polar Bear, Polar Bear activity.

Our graphic organizer for our fabulous writing about Eric Carle. 

Telling time with the Grouchy Ladybug.

The Very Lonely Firefly writing

and SO MUCH MORE! I love it all. You will too. Try it! Go grab my Eric Carle Pack and have some fun and fabulous fun!
~Mrs. Sweeney

We are all different!

Variety is the spice of life! I love this lesson that lets little people know that being different is ok. It's a great beginning of the year lesson.  I use the book The Crayon Box that Talked by Shane DeRolf. Cute book and perfect when showing how different is good.

I start the lesson by drawing a picture with only one color in a crayon box. For example, I might use the color blue. I would color grass, a tree, the sun, a person, etc all in the blue color. I have the kids come up and add things, still using the blue. Then I ask what the picture is missing. Some might say a dog or a bird, etc but the answer you are looking for is COLOR! Then I talk about ice cream. Yeah, weird segue, but they get it. :) I ask the class if they like ice cream. Then ask those who like chocolate to  raise their hand, the same with those who like vanilla, and then those that like strawberry, etc. I then ask the children if they would still be friends with a person who likes chocolate ice cream even if they liked vanilla. Ask them how it would feel if their friend didn't like them because they liked a certain flavor. That gets a good conversation going. Then I ask if anyone knows what happens when you mix chocolate and vanilla together? It makes a swirl or twist cone. Yummy! 

By this time in the year ( a couple of weeks), we've been doing "All About Me" stuff, so we've talked a lot about same and different. We talk about that a little bit and then I mention how some people don't like others who are different from them. We talk about our picture and that if no one was different then we would live in a one color world and that would be BORING! 

Then I read the book. Then I  lead a discussion about how our classroom is like a box of crayons. All of us are different- different colors, ages, talents, etc., but we will all work together to have a great year! At this point, I usually tell the students to look at their neighbor and tell them something they like about that person after giving an example. :) I like this part. Ask the students how it made them feel to hear something nice. We want our classroom to be a nice place where we can all work together to have a great classroom. When we say nice things and treat each other kindly it makes us feel good. Think about yourself as one of the crayons in the crayon box. Each of you is special and unique, but we need all of you to make our world beautiful. Then we re-draw our one color picture using many colors in our box of crayons. We talk about which picture we like best and then talk about how we all bring unique things to the world, just like each color crayon. 

Then we make our own classroom Crayon Box. It is so cute and I love to display it. It is a great reminder to be good friends and support differences. They have to draw their head to look exactly like them. Well, at least they are supposed to. :)

This pictures was from when I was student teaching and my first time teaching this lesson. :)

Have fun and be fabulous!
~Mrs. Sweeney

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Applicious Apples!

I LOVE teaching anything and everything about apples! Weird, huh? But it is one of my favorite units to teach. Thankfully, I got to teach all about those red, delicious apples again while I was student teaching in Kindergarten. Yea! Those little kiddos can learn SOOO much about the world, life, etc, AND there are all sorts of yummy treats, crafts, and fun stuff to do.

I read lots and lots of apple books. We sing tons of apple songs. We play with apples, paint with apples,, make our own apples, etc. Apples take over our classroom and I am perfectly fine with that.

We start off by making a KWL chart all about apples. Of course, it has to be apple shaped!

Here's a picture of my own little cutie pie, Crazy Boy, reading a Scooby Doo apple book to the Kindergarteners. Here you can see the KWL chart behind him so you get a feel for it. 

 We tasted the various color of apples and of course we had to graph them. Lookie there, we ALL liked at least one kind! It's a miracle! The rule in our classroom is we have to try at least one bite of everything, even if you think you won't like it. Parents are amazed at the things their kiddos try at school, but never would at home. :) Usually, they end up liking them too.

We explored the inside and outside and described it. Adjectives, baby!

We then made lots of learning crafts. How does an apple grow?

I love, love, love decorating our windows with "stained glass".

 The seasons of an apple tree.

Making applesauce!


Johnny Appleseed Kids! What a poser. :)

Parts of an apple.

All of our beautiful apple stuff decorating the hallway. 

I would love to go to an apple orchard at the end of all this fun, but nope! We go to the pumpkin patch. Which brings us in to learning all about pumpkins. Then comparing apples and pumpkins. Eating pumpkins. Etc, Etc, Etc. So much learning can happen while incorporating a specific subject across the whole curriculum. 

Sequencing pumpkin growth.

Fruit is awesome!

Be fun and fabulous!
~Mrs. Sweeney

Paperwork, Paperwork, Paperwork

If you'll remember, I was a mom before I was a teacher. I couldn't believe how much paperwork there was to fill out on the first day of school! Insane! Lots of it was the same information over and over. Ugh. Who wants to spend 45 minutes filling out things?! I know it has to be done and all of the information goes to many different places and many different people. I know it's necessary. Sort of.

This brings me to my newest product on TpT. I wanted ONE form for the parents to fill out for my classroom. Just one! That way they weren't filling out all the school stuff and then even more for me, all with the same info. BUT I also wanted it to be easy for me. It needed to be something I could grab easy and not have to have ANOTHER notebook. Notebooks are overtaking my shelves!

So I made a 5x7 card with all the info I need. I can print them easily and then punch a hole in the corner and insert a ring. There you have it. A small card I can easily use to contact parents or look up info, and the parents are happy because it is only half a page to fill out. Go check it out here. It's only $1 and makes life so much easier for both you and parents!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Bulletin Board Fun and Fabulous Style

Who covers their paper covered bulletin board with electricity? This girl! But it was awesome and so cute! That makes the slight risk worth it, right? I think so. :) You probably do too, so just go ahead and do it.

During my many teaching courses I had to do an interactive bulletin board. It was Christmas time and I wanted to be able to keep the board up for at least a little while. No boring Christmas themes here! I did a winter board covered in Christmas lights. What could be better?!

The tree was on the board year round so we could just change it per season. The large snow flakes have the kiddos names in their Reading center groups. The small snowflakes are the various centers (computers, Big Books, Read to self, Work work, etc.) So all we had to do was change the small smowflakes each day. You could do it the opposite and have the kids be the moveable snowflakes, either way works. Then you add the lights, and voila! What a difference the lights make and sooo pretty when the lights are off. It would have been an okay board before the lights, but the lights add so much.  Do it, you know you want to. :)

Halloween Hullaballoo

How do you do Halloween? It is one of my favorite school parties. I have done so many things, for so many different ages, and I love it all. Some years we do Fall Parties, other years we get to do Halloween. Secretly, I prefer Halloween, but alas, it can't always be done. This past year in Kindergarten Readiness we had a great time. It was the last day of my Interim, so I wanted it to be a special day. Their little world was going to be rocked the very next day. :( I was so worried about them and how they would adjust. Their whole experience with school had been with me and now I was suddenly leaving them. I tried to prepare them, but I knew it would be hard. Soooo, to take their minds off of it, we partied hard. :)

We did center rotations. Thankfully, I had a few parents there to help out. We started out making spider webs. This is great for little hands and hand eye coordination. They loved it so that's an added bonus. All you do is punch holes around a black paper plate. Tie a long piece of yarn to one of the holes and let them string it across, over, under, and through, until they've used most of the thread. Them string a spider ring onto the end of the strand, and tie a not, securing the yarn to the plate. That's it. A moveable spider on a spider web. Fun, fun!

Then we did a cake walk. What's a party without a cake walk?! I printed out Halloween pictures on a full sheet of paper and taped them to the floor. Then I printed smaller versions of the picture onto little cards. We played Halloween music and the kids walked around the pictures on the floor. When the music stopped, the parent pulled out a picture and that child was the winner. They got a cupcake! Fun way to give out their cupcakes and play at the same time. Easy peasy!

We did the obligatory ring the pumpkin. There were little baby pumpkins on the floor. They stood back behind a line and tried to "ring" the pumpkins. We used necklace glow sticks to ring them, which the kiddos loved. I also put them in their goody bags so they could wear them trick or treating. :) 

This next activity is my favorite and a kid favorite too. Decorate a full size pumpkin with Mr. Potato Head pieces. I bought 2 different versions at an after Halloween sale a few years ago. Yea for sales! I've got a witch and a frankenstein. The kids loved making their faces, some crazy, some not. It was super easy, they would stay there playing around with the different pieces for quite a while, and no adult help was needed. You can use regular potato head pieces as well, the themed ones just make it more fun. I had a parent send in teh pumpkins and then I sent them back home for them to carve. It just pokes small holes in the rind, so the pumpkins are definitely usable. 

Finally, we tried to throw candy corn into mini plastic pumpkins. That's hard and we had "cheaters", but they loved it. It was a good counting activity too. 

Easy, fun activities that take less than an hour. I've got so many more ideas, but I think I'll leave you in suspense until next Halloween. :)

Drug Free? Yes, Please.

Now to rewind.

In October, our school did a door decorating contest for Red Ribbon Week. Since it was so close to Halloween, we decided to do a "scary" door. :) The kiddos LOVED it and loved helping decorate. 

I painted a white web on purple paper. Black or green might be good as well. Then I hung it on the door and covered it with fake spider web. The kids painted their hands black and made spiders out of them. Add some googly eyes and they are done! The huge spider is made completely out of paper. I just wadded a big ball of black, added some eyes, and then rolled up some paper for the legs. It was perfect, and we had visitors from all over the school come to check out our awesome spider. Such fun!

Be fun and fabulous!
~Mrs. Sweeney

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Fun and Fabulous in First!

So I did it! Teacher blog started. Yes, I should really update my family blog, but oh well. :) They'll forgive me. Someday?

This is it. The post that starts it all. I'm officially a teacher. My dream has come true. Let me tell you the story of how this came to be.

In 1st Grade, I decided I was going to be a teacher. Isn't that every 1st grade girl's dream?! By 2nd, I had changed my mind to singer/performer. Another generic girl dream. By 4th, I had gone back and forth between teacher and every other typical dream job. Fast forward to High School where I decided being a Lawyer was the way to go. After all, who can argue better than me?! I continued that dream until I realized that college wouldn't be an option for me at that time. Then I changed to becoming a Paralegal. That's almost as good and only 2 years of school. I could do that. Nope, life took me a different way. I got married to my High School sweetheart (15 years and still going strong), and got a job at a bank. Bank?! Where did that come from? Not in my plan, and definitely not the dream job of a girl who is TERRIBLE at math, but yep, that was my job. Guess what? I liked it. :) I did that for a couple of years and then realized what my dream job/calling in life was.  It was time to be a mom.

Motherhood. What can I say? I love it. I pretty much love all of it. Except throw up, but who likes throw up?! Of course, I did get the world's most throwing up kid, but it's all good. :) So my dream was fulfilled. I was a Mommy. A mommy to not only one awesome little boy, but two. They are my world. I definitely could not go back to work with these 2 little boys who needed their mommy. So we scrimped and struggled, then struggled some more, but we did it. We made it work. I was a stay at home mom and that's exactly what I wanted to be. That's all I ever wanted to do.

Then my oldest kiddo (let's call him Shy Guy) started school. That big, scary place that I was suddenly going to send my precious, sweet, shy boy to every day for 7 hours!! So, I did it. I became that mom, that over-involved mom. I joined the PTO. I became his class Room Mom. I had to. I needed to know where I was sending my sweet boy and what was happening. My youngest (let's call him (Crazy Boy) and I spent a lot of time at the school. His teacher ended up being diagnosed with cancer while he was in her class. :( Thnkfully, she's all good now. :) She kept telling me how hard it was to find a good, reliable sub that knew the school, the kiddos, etc. She was out a lot going through treatments and I went in to help out a lot so the kiddos would have a familiar face and his teacher wouldn't get too far behind. Her sub comments stayed at the back of my mind.

Fast forward to the next year.Shy Guy had an awesome teacher who we all loved. We became friends. I loved being in her classroom and seeing how she interacted with her students. Again, I heard her subbing complaints. Crazy Boy was going to start preschool at the school the next year, so I decided to look into subbing. Boy,was that an easy process. A little TOO easy, but that's another story. So I started out just subbing a little bit, mostly for Shy Guy's teacher, while Crazy Boy hung out with my sister or best friend.

The next year both kids were in school, and boy did I get busy! I had a request to sub just about every day. Obviously those subbing complaints weren't felt by just a few. I loved it and got pretty good at it. :)

The next year, I was asked to do an Interim position for someone going on maternity leave. I was hesitant, but it was just for the last 6 weeks of school and I was already there all the time anyway, so I took the job. It was in 2nd Grade. Guess what? I really liked it. I loved having my own classroom. I loved making plans. It was great.

The next year, I did another maternity leave. It happened to be for Shy Guy's fabulous 1st grade teacher who taught me everything I know. :) It was even more awesome. I then did another Interim in 1st grade. By that point, I was hooked. I knew THIS was what I wanted to do with my life. I could be a mommy and a teacher. Teaching was my passion. IS my passion. I love every single part of it. No really, I do. I went to college and got my teaching degree in 2 and a half years. Did I mention I HATE procrastinating and can't stand to let things wait? Well, I can't. Thankfully, I found an awesome school that let me work at my own pace, which was lightning speed. :) I did another interim in 1st grade after my student teaching and then it was summer time. I couldn't wait to get a "real" job. But, nope. The new school year started and I didn't get a job.  The county job fair had over 1000 prospective teachers at it, so I should have been prepared, but I wasn't. I wanted my own classroom so bad. It was devastating to me. I had everything ready to go. I bought furniture, office supplies, wiggly eyes, glue sticks, books, books, and more books, etc. I was READY TOGO. Didn't these principals understand?! I was DYING fora classroom. I was dying to TEACH. It's all I wanted to do. It's what I was made to do.

Then I got a call. I was asked to come in for an interview at the school closest to our house. It was for yet another Interim position, but it was something. AND I went to High School with the principal. Destiny, right?! So I went. The interview went well. I had another interview the next day for a permanent position so I told him I wanted to check that one out first. That interview went great as well. They hired someone that had been an EA at their school. So Mr. IwenttoHighSchoolwithYouPrincipal called me back and wanted to hire me. I took it. It was for a Kindergarten Readiness class. They, thankfully, hadn't started yet, and I had a couple days to orient myself to the new school before I got kiddos. It went fabulously. I loved it. The kiddos were great. I loved teaching them how to do school. :) It was a great experience. I got to be with them for the first half of the year. Then lucky for me, a first grade teacher at the same school was going on maternity leave for the next half of the year. They hired me again. Sooo, I got to finish out the year in my favorite grade with a great group of kids. AND they hired me back again. It's official. I am a 1st grade teacher, at an awesome school, with an awesome principal, and an awesome team. I'm so excited, I can't stand it. So although I've been teaching for 7 years now, it's OFFICIALLY my 1st year as a teacher WITH MY OWN CLASSROOM. Can the custodians please hurry up and finishe doing whatever they do all summer in my classroom so I can get back in and make it my own?! PLEASE! I'm dying here! Remember how I mentioned that I can't stand to let things wait! Well, this is me not being able to stand it!

Anyway, that's my story. I know it was long. But what's a good blog if it doesn't tell a good story? I plan on rewinding and going back and blogging about all the cool stuff we did this past year in my Interim positions. So check back and walk with me down memory lane. THEN I get to blog about this coming up year, with my own class, and my own way of doing things, in my own classroom, as a REAL TEACHER! I feel like Pinocchio. Hehe! Here is my very first blogging picture for you. Me with my name on the wall at my own classroom. :)

Be Fun and Fabulous!
~Mrs. Sweeney