Monday, September 15, 2014

Spotlight on Sight Words: No Power, No Problem!

Last Friday, we experienced a brief power outage at school. However, even a short power outage can severely cramp your lesson-plan style, right? This little activity was a last-minute improvisation to help us spend our power-less time constructively.

Since it was the end of the week, I had several wrap-up activities planned to help review sight words. When the lights went off, we pulled out miniature flashlights and used them to play what I called "Spotlight on Sight Words."

The game was simple: the teacher calls out a word, and students race to "light" up the word somewhere on the rapid word chart. After a few rounds, the students took turns being the teacher as well. They had a blast reviewing their sight words this way, and I didn't feel like the time was a total loss for us. Whew!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Get to Know Me! An Activity to Motivate Student Communication

The beginning of the school year is a blur, isn't it? So much to do, so little time… and it seems that really getting to know your students, one of the most vital elements of our back-to-school process, has become a challenging task amid all the other tasks on our back-to-school checklists.  On the flip side, for many of our younger students, who are a little overwhelmed at the beginning of the year as well, getting the conversation flowing can be challenging at first. So this is an activity I love to use, and it never fails to spark a little excitement among my students. This year, I used fruit loops, but I have seen it used with M&M's, Skittles, etc.

The concept is simple: students choose their favorite color fruit loop and then they answer a color-coded question that corresponds to their fruit loop. I waited until after the students chose their fruit loops to display the questions, so they had no idea why they were getting fruit loops at first. It added a nice element of surprise. Just this year alone, I have used this activity with students ranging from Kindergarten to fourth grade, and they all loved it!

These are the questions that I used, but you could easily create your own questions if you didn't like these.
Another thing I love about this activity is that you can use this activity in either small-group or whole-group settings, depending on your teaching situation and age group. Either way, it promotes communication and cooperation among students.

Be warned, though; your students will probably expect you to choose your own fruit loop and play along!

This activity is now available as a component in the "Back to School Packet," available in the Tally Tales TPT store. If you want it, grab it here.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Vintage Door Refinish & Sliding Barn Door Install

Hey friends!!! Are you surprised to hear from me? I promise I am still around. With our basement renovation, back-to-school busy-ness, AND our baby on-the-way, I have been a bit distracted from the blogging world lately. I am so sorry to those of you who usually hear from me on your blogs; I can't tell you the last time I sat down to blog hop and comment. I promise to visit again eventually! :)

I have managed to snap a few pictures here and there along the way, and I want to share some of our progress with you. This project is particularly dear to me. (Forgive the poor pictures; the lighting hasn't been the best to work with at times.)

So I started out with this door from my grandparents' home. It is at least eighty years old, and I really wanted to preserve it somehow as a feature in our home. I sanded down past the aging crinkle and crackle of the original paint. Surprisingly, much of the original coat remained, along with a real, authentic weathered look.

I lined all the edges of the center rectangles with painter's tape…
and filled the space with this rich chocolate-brown color that would blend well with the already existing cracks and aged hardware.
I removed the tape and coated the edges with a polyurethane coat. I really wanted to keep the original color on the door as well, and the polyurethane provided a nice finish to seal and protect the door from any future peeling.
Last, we (my father and husband… I really had nothing to do with this part!) installed the door on a sliding barn door mount. You can find these barn door installation kits at most of your standard hardware/home improvement stores, but I actually ordered ours from Amazon. It was about a third of the cost, and worked perfectly for us. I can't speak for heavier door models, and I'm not sure how well this would really hold up outside on an actual barn, but for our indoor, small-door use, it was perfect!
So there's a quick glimpse at some of the changes we have going on around here. We aren't finished yet, but we are getting close! I'll try to post room pictures soon! 

I hope you blogger friends are doing well! :)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

TPT Back-to-School Boost Sale!

Back-to-School Boost Sale Runs on Aug 20!

Hey everyone! Just a reminder to make sure you check out the Tally Tales and other TPT stores tomorrow, August 20th for a back-to-school boost sale! Everything at the Tally Tales will be an additional 10% off all day tomorrow! Thanks so much! :)

Monday, August 11, 2014

Back-to-School Motivational Tip

For those of you who have already started back to school, or those who are on the cusp of a new school year, I thought this little Twitter snippet might be helpful today…
Obviously, this is not a recent tweet, but I found it saved on my phone, a snapshot to store a truly motivational reminder of just one "secret to happiness," and I thought it may be particularly helpful at this time of year. 

During the back-to-school hustle, I think we all feel the pressure to have everything just perfect before those students grace us with their presence. We want to have it all together, and we want things to go smoothly. Sometimes, the hard work pays off, and the best-laid plans work well.

But other times, everything feels as though it just falls apart. Even on the first day of school. 

So I like this little reminder that, although we may certainly have those high expectations for a perfect class, perfect organization, perfect plans, etc., sometimes (after all the hard work, of course) the best way to really finish preparing yourself for a new school year is to see past your expectations and just take each moment as it comes to you. 

I hope this school year is off to a wonderful start for all my teacher friends out there! :)