Sunday, January 29, 2017

Sunday Sanity Saver: Laundry Saved!

This week is all about saving your laundry from those inevitable stains that we all know too well.  First off, why don't more parents warn you about kid stains and the amount of laundry that would be added to your daily/weekly chores?  Since having my son, I swear my washing machine doesn't stop.  I am not one for super fragrant detergents and I made my own laundry soap for quite a while, but stain removal continued to be an issue.  Even more of an issue was the amount of clothing that got thrown away due to oil based stains that never cleaned up right.  I had just about had it until I stumbled across a random pin, on good-ole Pinterest, and decided to give it a whirl.  I have since played around with it and today I have for you the GREATEST DIY stain remover!!!
All you need is: Dawn dish soap, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and an old toothbrush.
Start by finding a garment that makes you want to shed a tear.  I was so upset that I had only gotten one wear out of this beautiful top, from Paizlee.  Little man thought that shaking his oily hands at dinner was a great idea; it was cute until the oil was all over my new top and not his hands.
Drizzle Dawn dish soap on all the stained areas.
Sprinkle baking soda over the dish soap.  I always use too much baking soda, but it doesn't hurt the recipe.
Next, coat the baking soda in a layer of hydrogen peroxide.  You want just enough to create a thick paste.
Use the toothbrush to gently work the paste into the stains.
Let this stain remover sit on the garment for an hour and then wash it normally.
Finally, wear your favorite piece of clothing again!  I posted this picture after using this incredible and easy stain remover.
I figured if it worked on the delicate fabric my top was made out of, it was worth a try on little man's stain-ridden clothing.  I followed all of the above directions TWICE, yes, two times, and look at the before and after.

I am still shocked as to how well it worked.  Yes, it really is the same onesie!

What are your tips for keeping up for laundry and attacking all those crazy kid stains?  Leave a comment below, I would love to hear from you.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Word Recognition with Letter Buddies

Teaching word recognition to developing readers can have its ups and downs.  I swear there are days when my kiddos are on it, they are recognizing all their sight words, and then POOF! the next day it is all gone.  I decided to try out the Letter Buddies series, from Hameray Publishing, with my developing readers.
According to Hameray, "This product line supports the development of letter knowledge and early literacy skills through letter recognition and formation, letter-sound correspondence, phonemic awareness, vocabulary development, and oral language development." I couldn't agree more with this statement.  Right away my readers started building letter recognition that they struggled with prior to using this series.
First of all, I love that the letters on the covers of the books are printed in a raised text.  My kiddos were able to "feel" the letters before diving into the books.  By using their kinesthetic sense, we began building a muscle memory that is vital for learners.
So each Letter Buddy has a book and a starter that go hand-in-hand.  We started with the letter books and practiced our letter and whole word recognition.  This allowed my readers to begin connecting the inital letter throughout the book.
After spending time with the letter book, we reviewed the words, generated a few more, and started gaining more letter and sound connections.  It was amazing listening to my readers as they inquired about their learning.  One of my students, who has really struggled with letter recognition, asked "Why do all the words have red letters?"  This is HUGE!!  He took his learning past letter recognition to word recognition.
Once my readers showed an understanding of the letters and their sounds, we dove into the starter books.  These pattern books take the words that students practiced in the letter books and place them in an early reader.  These pattern books allow for students to continue to build on their letter and word recognition, while gaining fluency and accuracy with more sight words.
I am so excited for my readers and the skills that they have gained.  I cannot wait to use the Letter Buddies Blends Books with them!
Have you used Letter Buddies with your readers?  What are your favorite resources for teaching letter and word recognition?  Leave a comment below and let me know.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Sliding Number Lines

Number lines are one of the most used manipulatives in my classroom.  My kiddos are great about knowing which tool they need to support their leanring, but these sliding number lines have been their go-to recently.
The perks to this tool is the kinesthetic approach that is brings to counting.

Students start their bead at the first addend or subtrahend and then move up or down based on if the problem is addition or subtraction.
The number lines are also a snap to put together.  Just print, on card stock for durability, laminate, hole punch, and attach a pipe cleaner or string with the bead.  TADA!  You have the perfect tool for your mathematicians!
You can grab the template here.  Try it out and let me know what your kiddos think in the comments.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Wacky Links: A Maker Space MUST!

I could not have been more excited to see this box on my front porch!!!
You guys, my students and I have gone WACKY for Wacky Links!  These DIY kits are the perfect addition to any maker-space, STEM bin, art extension, or for just plain play.
Wacky Links encourage kids to use their imagination and explore their creative side.  What parent and teacher doesn't want more of that in every child's life?!?!  The DIY kits provide open ended fun for every kiddo!
The kits are comprised of colorful tubes that you can cut, bend, and connect to an assortment of pronged charms.  The tubes are way more durable that I was expecting.  They are designed to create a bit of suction onto the prongs making it like a Chinese Finger Trap.  This is perfect so your kiddos don't have to worry about their creations falling apart.
My students loved diving into the kits and watching some of the Wacky Links YouTube videos for inspiration.
I let them play and explore and then gave them the task of creating a guitar with the Rock n' Roll Kit.  They definitely struggled at first, but that was the fun of it.   The conversations and problem solving that took place were a teacher's dream!
These have become a staple during our morning STEM bins, early finisher time, and Friday STEM builds.

You can find Wacky Links in specialty toy stores, on Amazon, and  Lucky for you, I am gifting one of my readers two sets.  To enter, comment below with your answer to the following question, don't forget to include your email address:
Why is creative play important for ALL children?

**One random winner will be chosen on Saturday, January 28, 2017, at 12:00pm PST.  The winner will be notified by email and announced here.  CONGRATULATIONS, Sara!  I sent you an email with all the details.  If you didn't win, don't fret!  You can grab Wacky Links at the links I listed above. **

Have you tried Wacky Links?  I would love to hear from you; comment below.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Sunday Sanity Saver: Cranberry Pork

First of all, a HUGE thank you to Rachel, from The Tattooed Teacher, for my amazing series logo!  Isn't she so talented?!?!?
I am so excited for #SundaySanitySavers to help you as much as they have helped me.

Today's post is all about the CROCKPOT!  Yup, that amazing device that was created to help moms, especially working moms, everywhere!  Even better than busting out the crockpot is being able to toss 4 ingredients in it and have dinner ready 6 hours later.  Without further ado....

Cranberry Pork


  • 2 1/2 - 3 lb bone-in Pork Shoulder
  • 1/4 c dried minced onion
  • 1/4 c honey
  • 1 can of whole cranberry sauce
Place the pork shoulder in the crockpot.  Cover with onions and honey.  Pour the can of cranberry sauce around the pork.
Set the crockpot for 6 hours, on LOW.  Then, leave it.  Seriously, do not touch it until it is done.

Once the pork has finished cooking, shred with a fork and remove the bone.
This deliciousness pairs perfectly with rice and green beans.
I would love to know if you try this recipe.  It has been on repeat for several months over here.  What is your go-to crockpot meal?  Let me know below in the comments.

Friday, January 20, 2017


Seriously, if one more student goes home with a fever or because they have thrown up in my classroom I am going to loose it!  I love teaching, but I loathe the germs.  I joke sometimes that I get sneezed on for a living.  All jokes aside, I read this interesting write up and I am hoping it is TRUE!!
Apparently grape juice has super powers I was not aware of.
Real grape juice, none of that sugar added, watered down stuff, has the ability to alter the pH in your intestinal track.  By creating a more alkaline environment the virus is not supposed to be able to multiply in the intestines.  Plus, grapes are high in vitamin C, which we know is great for immunity.
Fingers crossed grape juice is as magical as the science behind it says because we have no room for a stomach bug in our house.

What do you do to keep your immunity up?  Do you have a special remedy for avoiding monster germs?

**I am not a doctor!  This post is my own opinion.  If you have a medical question your doctor would be the one to answer it.**

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Running Records In My Pjs

Running Readers' Workshop has its challenges.  For me, one of those is meeting with each of my students everyday.  It unfortunately just doesn't happen.  Thanks to technology, I am able to check in with as many students as my heart desires from the comfort of my couch, while wearing my Pjs.  This is not a joke!  I am completely serious!
There are two tools that I use in my classroom to gather fluency and accuracy data on my students.
This is the digital version of Reading A-Z.  I love it because it doesn't just end at providing each student their own leveled book room, but each book is read to the students.  Once students have listened to the story, they may practice reading it as many times as they choose.  Once students are ready they record their reading.  Finally, there are 5 comprehension questions for each story.
The recordings that my kiddos do are sent to my computer.  I then have the ability to listen to them on my time.
I also have the ability to send them assignments; the readings are then cold reads.

I created this running record form to track students' fluency skills.  We are starting our nonfiction unit this week, so I altered the form to meet our nonfiction criteria of main idea and details.

If you don't have a Raz-Kids account SeeSaw is an easy to use app that allows you to keep a record of everything for your kiddos.  One feature is the ability to take video.  Each week, my students choose one book from their "just right" ziplock and video themselves reading it.  Just like Raz-Kids, the video, in this case, gets sent to me.  I am then able to use the same forms to track running records for each of me students.

These two tools have been a game changer for me.  I love that I can knock out 5 running records from the comfort of my couch, after little man is in bed.  But even better is the fact that I have the time to be methodical in my teaching with each of my student's next steps.

How do you find the time to meet each of your student's needs during Readers' Workshop?  Do you have a favorite tech tool that you use to during Readers' Workshop?

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Hooray For Hat! and a STEAM Extension

Trying to find that glimmer of happiness can be tricky on days when you are just feeling grumpy.  In Hooray For Hat!, by Brian Won, Elephant and his friends teach us that a simple gift can turn that frown upside down.
This picture book shows readers that the act of generosity can brighten a person's spirits.  
I wanted to build an extension to this fabulous story, because, well I just LOVE it!  Why not build multi-layer hats like the book?!?!
Click on the picture of little man wearing his Hooray For Hat! or follow this link.  I have a template as well as a STEAM extension for you.
This activity can be done by individual kiddos or in a small group.
What is your favorite picture book for teaching kiddos the importance of being kind to our friends?

Monday, January 16, 2017

Adding Color To My Life

Oh, Crayola!  You have been a huge part of my life forever!  As a teacher, I have an excuse to use you everyday, but now, oh man, now I have a better excuse!

Crayola Chubby Sticks, by Clinique!  Guys!!!!!!  These are AMAZING!  This is coming from someone who does NOT like makeup.  Seriously, I do not like the way that it feels on my face, but I am not getting any younger and I need to do something to look more "put together".
So, these Chubby Sticks have a creamy texture and they go on super smooth.  What I like most is that the colors are not the ones that stain your lips.  These have a lighter appearance, even the bolder colors.

My only disappointment with these is that the case didn't come with all ten colors.  For some silly reason tickle me pink and razzmatazz are sold as individual sticks only.

Clinique will only have these Crayola Cubby Sticks for a limited time, so if I were you, I would jump over to their site and grab a set today.

So my Crayola finds didn't end at the amazing Chubby Sticks.  Have you seen these My Color Is... packs?!?!  Each color pack is loaded with Crayola's fabulous products, but in only that color.
I was able to find My Color Is Pink, at my local Target, but I am on the hunt for the other colors.  The window crayon has been a huge hit in our house lately, and I can't wait to use it in my classroom.

What is your favorite Crayola product?

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sunday Sanity Saver: Snowed-In With A Toddler

The weather here has been absolutely NUTS!  Being that I grew up in Michigan, it still drives me crazy that Portland hasn't gotten their act together and learned that rock salt and snow plows are a must this time of year.
Either way, I have loved this time with little man.  He has developed into such a creative, funny guy and I love witnessing his learning.
Unfortunately, we couldn't get out and do much exploring, we hit record low temperatures, so we made use of some items from the craft closet, or as my husband calls it the "crap closet".
These activities kept this 18 month old happy, engaged, and in one place for more than 5 minutes.  That my friends is amazing!

Pom-Poms, plastic IKEA bowls, and tongs were perfect for sorting and practicing colors.  The fine motor practice was incredible.
We reused a milk container and added colorful paperclips and cut up pipe cleaners.  Little man used a magnet to move all of the pieces around.  He loved trying to move them from one side of the container to another.
 The pom poms got another go with a piece of pool noodle.  Little man stuck each one in the center of the noodle and then I blew them out.  He couldn't get enough of the pom poms flying all over the living room and then setting it up to do it again.
 We have been having a great time with colors lately.  He is starting to recognize more colors and is very interested in learning the names of each color.  We used these interactive steps to practice a different way.
We also have spent a ton of time playing with his felt board.  Check out my DIY post here.

What are your go-to activities for an active toddler?  I would love to add more to my "bag of tricks"!  Here's to hoping the snow melts sooner rather than later.