Earn those TpT Credits

I feel like this is quite the buzz around seller forums. Why don't buys leave feedback?? Well, I have no answer but maybe people don't realize what they are getting.

Ok, so let me break this down. This process is very similar to gas perks. You know the drill. You pull up to the pump. Swipe your perks card. Swipe your credit card. Pump the gas. Earn rewards. If you are like me, you will drive out of your way to get to that specific gas station to earn your rewards. You know you need the gas so you may as well benefit from it, right?

We're taking that same principal and applying it to your TpT account. If you are already a buyer than you are looking for creative and new ideas. You are trying to meet the needs of your students. You are taking your hard earned money and supporting teachers just like you. Now, we don't get a fancy card to slide onto our key ring. Thank goodness, I think my key ring is heavy enough to pull my ignition out.

But what we do have is a TpT credit line. How does it work?

When you purchase an item, you go into your purchases and click on a purchase you have not left feedback for. Can't remember if you have? Below the seller's name, you will either see You Rock because you left feedback. Or it will say Provide Feedback.

Once you click on the link, it will take you to the main page of the product. You will see 5 categories with ratings from A-F. Once you leave a rating in each category, you are able to tell the seller what you enjoyed about the product.

After leaving feedback, you can go back into your account and check your TpT Credit tab. Here you will see how many credits you have accrued and use towards future purchases. These credits can be used just like cash when you are at the check out.


See, I told ya. Easy peasy. Not only are you earning FREE credits towards future purchases but you are also helping out the seller by saying what you enjoyed about their products. I know for myself, it is great to hear constructive feedback from other teachers.

Happy shopping my friends and have a wonderful Sunday!!

How to: Make a Mummy Experiment

October is a month full of spooky and creepy topics. One of my favorite lessons ever is when I teach my kiddos about the burial steps the ancient Egyptians took for burying their dead. Yea, part of it is I crack up {inwardly} watching their reactions to "they removed the brain with a metal hook through the nose". They all scream and act as thought they don't want to hear more. But. They. Do. If we didn't have time to learn any more facts, my kids were begging for something new as they walked out the door for dismissal.

I usually try to pair this activity with the Magic Tree House: Mummies in the Morning. This year it just didn't work out but this activity still ran perfectly. We read one of my favorite books on ancient Egypt. It gives the students step-by-step instructions on what happened during the mummification process.

I am working on updating my "How To" Make a Mummy product but this post will give you pictures and step by step instructions on exactly how easy and fun this experiment is!!

Seriously, this is such a fun experiment and really is not difficult at all. I promise!! Alrighty, here are  pictures with step by step instructions...

First I cover my table with butcher paper. All of my ingredients are set up ahead of time. The students love walking in and seeing everything read for our experiment.

I have my students pretend they are entering an operating room. They all must have hand sanitizer before they can enter the "sterile" environment. The purple bowl is from Dollar Tree and is our water/glue mixture for our wax. The sarcophagus is a box that was painted with tempera paints using Egyptian hieroglyphs.

I used liquid measuring cups for our water, salt, and oil. I have used a cafeteria tray in the past for our "mummy" to sit on while it was being "washed". This year I used bowls and those seemed to work even better. My blue and pink containers came from Target Dollar Spot and Dollar Tree. I took tags and taped them on as labels for our organs. For spices, I used multi-colored glitter to give our mummy some bling. My husband planted pumpkins in my garden so I cannot say the precise size. A medium sized pumpkin would work best.

My measuring spoons and utensils came from Wal-Mart and Gabriel Brothers. I cheated and swiped a Ziploc baggie of sand from my boy's sandbox. You can get a big bag of play sand from Home Depot for under $4. It will last you for years depending on how many projects you use it for.
This was one of my favorite shots from the entire day. We were beginning to remove organs from our hallowed out pumpkin. We remove one at a time, place them inside the containers, and remove them from the operating table.
After soaking in the salt, we rinse with water from the Nile, oil, sand (I use cheapest vegetable oil I can find at Wal-Mart.) and the finally spices.
This really is a student run project. I help out very little and make this extremely hands on. Right here we were washing the sides with water to make sure it was all covered.
We did the same for the oil. Fortunately, I have a sink in my classroom. In years past, I bring in a bucket and fill it with water. I set a roll of paper towels next to the bucket for the students to rinse off their hands.
After scrubbing our mummy with water, oil, and a little sand we filled the cavity with about 2-3 spoonful's of sand.
We glued on googley eyes and added a few sparkling gems for our "head".
Soaking the linens in wax.

Our finished mummy finally laid to rest in the sarcophagus.

It's difficult to get the strips to lay flat but I really tried not to help and let the kids do it on their own. They were so proud of their hard work.

As soon as my product is completely updated, I will come back and share:)

We're HAPPY so let's have a GIVEAWAY

I am SO excited to share that I hit a little TpT milestone I set for myself. NO, it isn't the big 20K one. Yet. I think I'll be dancing on my rooftop when I hit that one. No, this is just a little one but nonetheless I am still quite excited. To celebrate I wanted to share a little giveaway. Above my door is a little sign that says, "because we're happy". I am REALLY happy so I need to share! Since so many of you are the reason I was able to achieve this little milestone, I want to thank you. I am giving away a $10 TpT gift certificate and my Magic Tree House NO PREP (ELA) Books 1-5 BUNDLE. This is a $28 value all coming your way!! Fill out the rafflecopter below for your chance to win! Thank you for all you do for our kids. EACH and EVERY DAY. I am so inspired by teachers. The more of you I meet the more I am blown away. Have a wonderful week and I can't wait to send this giveaway to one of you!! Good luck!!
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Twin Towers Tribute: Patriot Day Activity

I realize I am a little late getting to this but I feel like I am finally catching my breath since school started. Please tell me I am not the only one. I see other people posting beautiful blogs within the first week of school and I was dying. I was so busy filling in bubbles for our GRADE test, juggling Dibels, staff meetings, grade level meetings, sorting through contact information, and trying to keep my sanity.

I have wanted this book for years and I recently got my hands on a copy of "The Man Who Walked Between the Towers". My class was mesmerized when I read it. I honestly had no intentions of doing a writing project about this but sometimes my best ideas come from spur of the moment thinking.


We had read about the Statue of Liberty and how it was a gift from the French nearly 100 years after we signed the Declaration of Independence. My kids made the connection between the Statue of Liberty and Philippe Petit who walked between the towers: both were done by the French.

I struggle talking about 9-11. I feel torn between wanting to tell my kids how terrified I was the day those towers fell. I was in high school. I remember watching my teachers try to comfort us and keep their composure. I remember being picked up by my mom in a panic. I don't think I've ever watched the news so intently. The plane that landed in Somerset was not far from my home. It was gut retching. My students were not alive for any of this. I am actually teaching them about history that I was a part of before their time.

I tried to direct their attention to not only the terrible actions that were inflicted on our nation that day but the positive moments the towers brought in the past. We worked on writing a simplistic informational piece on the man who walked over 1,000 feet in the air with a 28 foot pole.

I was so impressed with their writing. I always make my students try writing on their own first. I won't help them until they have made an attempt on their own. Once they think their sloppy copy is ready for the final drafting stage, they have a mini conference with me. We discuss what they did well, what they should improve upon, and then get their "fancy" copy.

For it only being the 2nd full week of school, I was really proud of how well they did. I'd love to hear what you do/did for Patriot Day!

Teacher Hack

I always feel like I read all of these amazing tips and ideas from other people and want to smack myself in the forehead. Like, "Why didn't I think of that?" Does anyone else feel that as they stalk follow their favorites on Pinterest, Instagram, and ugh all of the other social media sites that hog up space on my phone, laptop, and anywhere wifi is available??

Well, I am pleased to share my own little teacher hack!!

Happy dance. Happy dance.

The best part? It's under a buck.

I know what you are thinking. No way. There's a catch. No seriously.

My local Wal-Mart has become my "getting out" lately. I'm grimacing as I write this because I know I have now jumped head first into that 25 and over age group, married, with kids. But seriously. I cannot tell you how pleased I am when I scan my code on my receipt and get a little message saying I got money back on my Savings Catcher app!! (If you haven't signed up for Wal-Mart Savings Catcher...DO. IT. TODAY. You won't regret it, I promise!)

Oh, that hack idea? You still with me?

I was in the office/stationary section and was looking for any clearance back to school items for my kids and came across this tiny container. My first thought was, "What the heck would someone do with a container that small??" Then it hit me. I am always tossing my flash drives into bags, my laptop bag, and sitting on my table next to my bed. This container holds about 6 (give or take) flash drives securely The sides flip down to unlock and it came in 2 different colors. I am in love with this thing and it was $0.88. I told you it was a steal.

I would love to hear any of your cheap teacher hacks!! Enjoy your Sunday evening my friends!!

Pittsburgh Blogger Meet Up & GIVEAWAY

Hey ya'll so recently I was able to join an amazing group of local ladies to discuss one of my obsessions: TEACHERS PAY TEACHERS. If these 3 little words ring a bell than you will understand why a couple gals from Pittsburgh didn't make it to Vegas this summer for the big conference. If you don't know what TPT is than I'll fill you in super quick. TPT is an amazing website where teachers (yes teachers not corporations) are able to upload lessons, units, ideas and strategies that they use and have had success in their classroom and GET PAID. There are thousands of sellers worldwide and some have been so successful they have earned over a million dollars. Ok, there are only a few who made that much but seriously, isn't that just amazing? Teachers Pay Teachers

Wow. So, I connected with a few girls on a PA Tribe via Facebook (Any sellers who are reading this should consider finding a tribe that fits their grade level/state. It is a great way to connect with people in your area.)

Believe me, I so wanted to go to Vegas this summer but with 2 little guys, an expensive plane ticket, and not really knowing anyone I didn't take the plunge. When I found Laura from Create by The Creative Art Teacher I was over the moon excited that she wanted to try a Pittsburgh meet up! Yay, I could drive and make it home in a few hours. It didn't hurt that I could do a little early Christmas shopping beforehand! I love TJ Maxx and Marshalls!!

So let's chat about my new friends. Laura is an amazing clip art designer @ Create by The Creative Art Teacher. Sara @ Lovin' Little Learners is quite near and dear to my heart since she is a kindergarten teacher and I spent the first 5 years of my career in kindergarten. Amy @ 180 Days of Reading works in K-2 reading (obviously!!) and has some awesome things in her store for $0.50!

It was amazing to hear how each of these girls started their stores, their triumphs and let's face it...what didn't work for them. I don't know of anyone in my district or any of my teacher friends who are bloggers/sellers so I was thrilled to bounce ideas off these gals. They are all amazing and the best part is we all complimented each other so well. Laura has the art background, Amy is the reading specialist, and Sara and I both teach primary.

I left with a happy heart, inspired mind, new friends, and SWAG! Yes, seriously Laura was able to get several sponsors for our little get together. I was so thrilled she was on top of this since I was busy setting up my new classroom. After 9 straight days, I had little time for anything else. If you visit Laura's blog you can find out more about all of our sponsors.

Oh, that giveaway I mentioned before?? We are giving away one of 5 swag bags AND a $25 Sit Spots Gift Card & Classroom Pencil Sharpeners (Grand Prize is a $50 value!!) Sadly, I am not able to enter but YOU CAN! I know my school budget is blown. I mean low!!! I'm sure you could benefit from this great giveaway.

I'd encourage you to hop on over and check out these lovely ladies blogs also! Feel free to check out their amazing stores. Laura is giving away clip art as part of the swag bag!

Enter the rafflecopter for YOUR chance to win before it is too late!! Did I mention it was a $50 value?? Wahoo!!

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Non Fiction Reading Center


I know my kids love nonfiction reading but it is definitely more challenging vocabulary and concepts. Trying to maintain their enthusiasm and encourage them to read as much nonfiction in my classroom, I decided to enlist the help from my Scholastic Weekly Readers.

Now, before you ask, NO I do not purchase these on my own. My building purchases these for each classroom. I don't know how much they cost but I am sure you could ask if these could be purchased for a grade level for a discounted price. There was a Science Spin we did get one year as a promotion but we haven't used it for a few years.

When I first started second grade, I saw a colleague pulling out a large stack of weekly readers. Ever the curious one, I asked what she used them for. She told me she used them in a reading center to practice text features, vocabulary and social studies/science skills.

Of course this was a fantastic idea so I decided to try this in my room. I simply save 1-2 from each set per month (typically there are 4 per month) and that gives you quite a pile at the end of the school year.

I throw them in the laminator and they are good to go. The greatest part is the kids can use a dry erase marker to search for text features like:
  • title
  • heading
  • bold faced word
  • map
  • picture
  • caption

Or they can answer the questions on the back page in a center. Students can use these for research reports, fluency, the list is quite endless when you start thinking of the many ways these can be used. My suggestion is make sure the lamination is thick so they last for a few years before having to relaminate!!

Have a wonderful weekend my friends!

Classroom Reveal for 2015-2016

So last year I was displaced and waited patiently nervously anxiously for the big bid day when I would find out where I would be for 2015-2016...thankfully I was able to stay in my current grade level BUT I did have to move buildings.

So 100+ boxes, a very full SUV and I was standing in my new classroom trying to figure out where things were going to go. Does anyone else stand and stare at the room for a good half hour before touching any boxes?? Just me. That's ok...I'm ok with being slightly neurotic:)

Can I throw in a helpful MOVING TIP for anyone who has to move classrooms?
I created a very distinct label on brightly colored paper that I knew would stick out. I had my building name, my name, and a number on each box. I kept a clipboard of what was inside each box. I have moved 7 times in the last 8 years and I find that this saves me SO MUCH TIME! If there is a box that goes missing it is very easy to ask if anyone has seen "box #35 with clipboards and erasers" than a box that might have had my name on it.

Ok, back to my room reveal.

So 9 days later I was finally feeling settled in and ready for my little darlings. School starts for us on Monday so I still have a few hours before the year "really" starts but I am ready to dive on into a new school year.

In all fairness...I am going to show you what my room looked like when I arrived and after days of throwing garbage, boxes, and outdated materials onto the floor. It was so bad that my custodians were all taking bets on when we would see the floor again. Umm yea. I made a really large mess...


So this is exactly what my new room looked like when I walked into it for the first time this summer.

And here is what it looked like once I started emptying the closet, cabinets, and drawers. Word to the wise, when you move into a room that someone retired from...check everything first. I spent 8 hours going through outdated material that was left behind before I could even get to my things.

I started by sorting my boxes into zones before I even opened them. Yes it looked like a big mess but it was organized in my head. I sorted them into reading, math, manipulatives, class supplies, desk, and organization items.

This is only day 1 of boxes that I shoved into the hallway. I'm pretty sure the custodians were avoiding my hallway like the plague. Ha!

I am so excited for how my room has turned out so far and I really hope my new kiddos are as excited as I am...Ready??

And here is my room now. Ah, organized, bright, colorful and best of all....DONE!!!!!!!!!

I spent a LOT of time organizing my books. I grouped them in 3 Levels (totally my choice) and placed a sticker on each. Then I created labels with coordinating images so the kiddos know where each book goes. Hopefully this will eliminate a lot of disorganization when my kids are using the classroom library!! Fingers crossed:) The bins came from Dollar Tree. 

I have these Book Buddy buckets for the kids to place their books in while they are working through a chapter book. I give them a book mark so there is no arguing over books. Once they are finished with their book and reading contracts then they can return their book and choose a new one. I just love Whimsy Clips!! The bins came from Dollar Tree.



While my bins didn't get the face lift I wanted to this summer, I did make these adorable signs to help cheer up my daily bins. I found the quotes on Pinterest so I cannot take credit. These bins were in from Wal-Mart.
Make Something Monday
Time to Read Tuesday
What's Cookin Wednesday
Be Thoughtful Thursday
Let's Have Fun Friday


I jazzed up my math center bins with cute little labels and I think they turned out pretty cute:)
I jazzed up my ELA centers and finally got my phonics centers finally organized into groups of 3-4 different colored shapes. Don't know what I use the felt for?? Check out my post on Phonics Using Old School Felt.

This was definitely a labor of love...it took me days to get my coins and base ten blocks sorted and ready to go for each student. The bins were all purchased from Wal-Mart and Dollar Tree. The magazine file bins were purchased from Amazon. I cannot tell you how happy it makes me to have this SO organized!!


This corner is where I plan on having my reading and math meetings. I am searching for a carpet but haven't found one I like in my price range yet...so if any of you find one...let a girl know!! Oh and my window cover?? Adorable shower curtain from Wal-Mart. The blue baskets came from Dollar Tree and the pink owl bin came from the clearance section at Ross.

I wrote my own phonics curriculum this summer and have all my books organized for each month. Ahh, I LOVE being this organized!!




A shot of my classroom door. I don't plan on keeping those book jackets up all year but for now they are good. I love my "because is the new why" poster. Finally got it laminated this year...Again I cannot take credit. I came up with the poster after reading a post from Jen Jones.


A shot from the back of my classroom with my sink.

I love that my room already had a table but I am not sure where it's permanent spot will be. The cute chevron banner was from the .97 party section at Wal-Mart. The colorful material in front of my books on top of my cabinets is tulle from JoAnn Fabrics that I had from a kindergarten project years ago.

Here's a shot from the back of my room. Dr. Seuss pencil bags from Target Dollar Spot and my Early Bird Finisher Morning Work from Second Story Window ready to go!!!

I don't know why it took me 8 years to realize I could use Command Hooks to hang my pocket charts...shaking my head in shame....BUT I love how they turned out and who can resist my minion????
This shot was taken before I added things to my pocket charts. I am waiting for student computers but have my listening centers ready to go and my adorable "girl" minion is there to make my kiddos smile!!

I forgot to take pictures outside my classroom door...I will have more up once the kiddos get there and we can do out Step into Second Grade material. I would love to hear what you think and would love for you to share pictures of your classroom. Have a wonderful start to the school year everyone!!