Saturday, November 29, 2014

Cyber Monday Blog Hop Stop Nineteen

Today my friends at Primary Powers are joining super forces with GoNoodle! 


You have landed at Stop #19.

I'm sure by now you have heard of GoNoodle. I first heard about it last school year and am so glad to have it featured in my classroom.

At first I just threw it on from time to time... when I remembered... when we had a few extra minutes or when both me and the kiddos were about to pull our hair out that we needed a break from it all.

This school year I decided to make it more of a staple. Why not? The kids beg for it... it helps them refocus themselves... it's FREE {I should have mentioned that one sooner... but yes, it's FREE} and easy.

So I have made GoNoodle a part of my calendar routine. This may shock some of you, but I don't do my calendar first thing in the morning.... that will need to be a whole different post to explain the why and how of that and how it was even controversial with myself {if that sentence even makes sense!} when I first moved my calendar chunk.

But I did. 

And now we do calendar in the afternoon on some days and on other days it falls between recess and lunch. {Yes, even crazier that it varies day to day depending on our other obligations and specials}

Anyway, back to GoNoodle. I wanted this awesomeness to be a regular occurrence and not just arbitrary mainly because when you are five years old a week is like a lifetime and each day is even so darn long. So when the kids would ask me, "Mrs. Donnelly are we doing GoNoodle today?" and my answer was, "no, but maybe tomorrow" that was just a lifetime away for them...and note the key word, "maybe."

Now, we will come in from recess- have our writing lesson and then back to the carpet for calendar. The kids are dying at this point... dreaming of lunch {as their teacher dreams of how she will be making a mad dash to Starbucks} and wishing they could tell time in order to be informed of how much longer they have to sit still and be still.....

That's the cue for GoNoodle. We're up, shaking it and having fun. Then we can calm ourselves and resume our learning.

GoNoodle videos range from 2 minutes to about 10 minutes. I would say the ones me and my kinders view are usually about 2-4 minutes. Just long enough to be silly and give our brain a break. Other bloggers in this hop are going to tell you about all the skills you can reinforce using GoNoodle and more... but me and my little guys...we use it to dance, wiggle, and be silly.

And guess what... after we do that... we are ready to learn once more!

Same deal on the days that we have calendar/GoNoodle after lunch.... only difference is they are hoping for dismissal. In kindergarten, I get the old, "Is it time to go home yet?" as we are walking in from lunch. 

Um, no.... the poor things have no memory of how the last 50 days of school have been...or they are in denial. But no, it's not even close to going home time.

I allow my "Catch of the Day" {my special helper of the day} to choose which GoNoodle video we are doing. 

This choice I made in September is haunting me... okay those words are extreme... but let me say it has a pro and a con.

The pro is that it eliminates a lot of complaining from the others - they just know the pattern - and they know when it is their day then they can pick. But today... Shh! Not your decision! {and in the end they love every second of every video!}

So the con... the part "haunting me" as I may have exaggerated earlier is that I have found we only do a total of about 4 videos... they have their favorites as I am sure you can imagine.

And no one seems willing to choose a risky new video. So sometimes their teacher perhaps is wishing for variety and maybe I will have to stop the the part where they get to choose or I will let them choose from a select list. 

Now please know this isn't GoNoodle's fault- oh no... they offer so many different choices and genres ....... from the silly, to the ones helping to teach vocabulary or other skills to Zumba and seasonal favorites and more and more and more... 

Most of my class GoNoodle time has this guy: 

They love him....and yes, usually his eyes are open.  And if it isn't him you see Maximo with his accent and different colored shoes.

Personally my favorite one right now is the most random cat video ever: Kitty High Five! 

Why are cat videos so popular? Who knows... but apparently they work on me and my class too. {I secretly want to keep writing about this cat video and how the the cat is in a casserole dish and more... but that is odd and not the point....}
If my littles are having an awesome day OR if it is raining then I will fit in a second GoNoodle mini chunk of time where I get to choose.....and yes, it is always a time for me to promote something brand new- hoping it will then be added to our kid-picked repertoire. 

But even without variety- GoNoodle has done wonders for my class. It truly is a "brain break" and the kiddos are truly ready to jump back in to learning after these magical few minutes!

My most recent GoNoodle "A ha moment" was to use it during nap time!!!

Do you have nap or rest? We do for the first few months of kindergarten....aka NOW!  There is one GoNoodle video called "Safe and Calm" that I all play now to kick off nap time once in a while. In this case I don't even show the video, I just play the audio for them since they are lying on their mats and I need their little heads to be calm and not twisting all around to see a screen.  It's been just another great way to use GoNoodle in my room.

Starting on Cyber Monday, GoNoodle is also offering all Primary Powers readers 30% purchases from the GoNoodle Shop through December 8! Use the code POWERS30 at checkout to receive the discount PLUS a special gift from GoNoodle and Primary Powers. 

In addition to new t-shirts, tumblers, and other goodies for GoNoodling teachers, you can purchase affordable, pre-wrapped gift packs for students to bring a little GoNoodle love to your classroom this holiday.
So - before you go I have some GoNoodle swag. Yep, that right.... you can win 5 GoNoodle Lanyards!

Next up, my friend Haley at stop 20 would like to share with you how you can use GoNoodle to review skills! 

And yes....she will have a giveaway too! And don't forget to stop by Primary Powers for the BIG giveaway!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Introducing Colvie Creations {plus a Giveaway!}

Today's post is 100% not school related.

I guess that is my way of celebrating Day 1 of Thanksgiving vacation... and if you aren't on vacation...sorry, but why not pretend you are.... and stick with me for a fun giveaway....

I'm teaming up with a super talented friend, Renee Koschnick, who makes the most amazing wooden decorations for your home...or your classroom!
She used to be a kindergarten teacher.... but now stays home with her little ones.

Renee is beyond talented and creates adorable cuteness for her shop, Colvie Creations!  The name Colvie is the darling combination of her two little ones.... Colton and Sylvie.

You can find her on Etsy, Facebook and Instagram and RIGHT HERE on Crayons and Whimsy. And yes, you can WIN one of her holiday creations!

This lady has products for all 365 days of the year... but today I am focusing on some of her holiday ones. But first, let me share a few others....
And how great would this be as a gift? {just click the image for more information}
Renee explained to me that creating all of this is her new outlet and helps takes the place of the creative fun she used to have in kindergarten. But let me tell you that if I were to stop teaching kindergarten I would not be capable of creating this goodness...

and probably some type of injury would occur... we are talking wood...and saws and well, injury!

Please take a look at those antlers! I LOVE LOVE this trio!

 It may be nearly 80 degrees today, but I would still love a snowman sign!

 I personally own this countdown sign... yes, that's a chalk board for you to be doing that counting.
So it's giveaway time.  Renee and I are excited to send this Jingle All the Way sign to one lucky winner. And yes, that's a real jingle bell on there. Although I can't promise it is straight from Santa's sleigh Polar Express style.
Want this? Of course you do.... just enter below.....

And if you want one of these other holiday creations you may not find them in her store- but just send her an email at colviecreations@gmail.com and let her know you saw them here and she will be happy to help you out!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Weekend Warriors: Sunday Edition



If you read my post yesterday I did a huge shout out to TpT and I got a little defensive. I couldn't help myself. Once in a while I hear some negativity about TpT and well... I gotta defend things I LOVE.

So today I was back to the drawing board... what is a "necessity" in my life? And not only that...but one that maybe you can benefit from as well.

And then my husband chimed in with his two cents........balance!

It takes the help of my hubby to have balance in my life because I am not good at it....so although I do feel it is a necessity.... it is also a goal I am constantly aiming for.

As teachers we put 110% of ourselves into our classroom and I have learned over the years that I need to make sure to make time for me.

I am a better teacher {and person overall} when things are balanced. When I have made time to hang out with friends, just sit and watch TV and when I actually exercise.

Between teaching, blogging, creating teaching products and selling Jamberry nail wraps I sometimes find myself working, working and ...........more working.

But when I am exercising, sleeping more than 5 hours and having ME time I think that makes me better when I am actually working. And I think it makes for a healthier lifestyle.

So you may see the word balance pop up here again as I set my New Year's Resolutions...because maintaining balance doesn't come naturally to me... but I believe in its importance.


Hop on over to some of these blogs below to see what is on their November Necessity list!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Weekend Warriors: November Necessities

Weekend Warriors are back.....
So I am not sure why, but this Weekend Warriors theme stumped me at first.

What do I need?

There are obvious answers like...coffee, love, weekends..... and then there are other answers that are "so me" and if you stop by here often you may be able to guess what they are.... TRAVELING, Jamberry and shopping...so... no need to expand on those.

Then I thought...what do I truly rely on...what makes my life easier???

And although this answer may be a bit obvious too, I decided it had to be the winner! That response would be... TpT!

Yep, I MUST have Teachers Pay Teachers in my life! And I have wanted to share my opinion on this topic for a while.

With new curriculum maps and Common Core being implemented in every subject area I often find that TpT is my life saver!

I create so many of my own things, but I really like using materials from a variety of teachers.....  I feel like everyone has their own style and it is good for the kids {and me!} to be exposed to a variety of authors and creators.

There are also only so many hours in a day.  Sometimes after planning for my reading groups I need just one more extension activity for my high group or low group.... or one more craft for my social studies unit.... and how great that I can search, buy, then download something awesome.

I am sure you work LONG hours in your classroom, like me....like all of us. And TpT has allowed me to have just a little bit more of my own time back....I am still slightly overwhelmed and perma-stressed from September to June.... but TpT is helping a little!

I know there are some people out there who criticize TpT - or at least the idea behind it. They think each teacher should create all their own lessons. They feel that teachers are "cheating" or being lazy by using this amazing resource. They say that each class is unique and you should create your own lessons to match exactly your classroom.

And, let's be real about it.

The Common Core standards are the same across the board. The kids are all very different and as a professional it is my job to deliver the instruction in a way that is appropriate for my particular students....but the instruction itself can be the same.

In most cases teachers also have a text book or some type of official program from a publishing company. Why hasn't anyone criticized the fact that some teachers just follow the text book page by page by boring page? I could argue that perhaps the "lazy" teacher is the one who does only that and not that the teacher out there trying to find a hands on way to illustrate a new concept. Or the one willing to take a leap and try and new approach?

I use TpT as a place to get cute bulletin board ideas or crafts as well...... I have my own style- but sometimes I like to spice it up and use someone else's clever and cute idea. To me, it is exciting that I can find adorable-ness from someone half way across the world. And just a few short years ago that wasn't possible.

As both a seller and buyer on TpT I know that someone can create a unit that meets standards and they have their particular students in mind. Another teacher can purchase that unit, meet standards, but adjust what is necessary to meet the needs of her little ones.

The Common Core curriculum asks the kids to work collaboratively and I believe that TpT allows teachers to do the same. I become a better teacher by creating and sharing my own lessons as well as buying from the many talented teachers out there.

I love that technology allows TpT to exist.

For those who don't love TpT, I just want to point out that 15 years ago the idea of "being lazy or cheating" existed in the form of going to your local teacher supply store.  And getting  a magazine called "Mailbox" which I actually had a subscription to my first few years of teaching.  I would be so excited to see what new ideas it would have for me. I really looked forward to getting that puppy in the mail because I craved stimulation and new ideas...not because I was lazy, but because I wanted to provide the best overall experience for my students.

My goal is still the same. I am just so excited to have TpT to help me out.

I didn't really mean for this post to turn into a rant.... but as you can see...I went from not being sure what my November Necessity was to being very passionate about what I believe to be one of the best resources of our time.

Thank you TpT!


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Corn Counting Freebie

Just a short post with a lot of freebie goodness!
Crayons and Whimsy Corn Counting Kindergarten Math Freebie
Stopping by to share a little freebie that was fun to use as we learned about Native Americans and the first Thanksgiving.

Our math program has been hitting numbers 1-10 hard these last two months. I wanted to give them independent practice that was hands on....and also practicing our glue rules... you know,

"Just a dot...not a lot....put it in the right spot."

And then somehow the entire bottle of glue is on the table? Does that sound familiar?

Actually that didn't happen this time. It has happened, it could happen, but luckily, it didn't happen!

So in case you need a little number/fine motor/how to use glue practice then here you go...oh and I included the version shown above {numbers 6-11} as well as one with numbers 12-17.

math kindergarten corn counting crayons and whimsy

Speaking of FREEBIES... my favorite November story I use in class is a FOREVER FREEBIE in my TpT store. It is The Night Before Thanksgiving and it is a great little retell for this time of year. Hop on over to my store and snag it today! And RIGHT HERE you can find an old blog post to tell you even more about it!
Night before thanksgiving Crayons and Whimsy

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Super Thankful Thread



I am proud {and thankful} to be part of the new collaborative blog, Primary Powers!

We are linking up to share what we are all SUPER thankful for! And we are also inviting other bloggers to link up too... let's all be thankful together!
This doesn't showcase my whole family who I love, but just a few....especially since that little baby inside my sister's tummy is now one month old!!!

 And as for friends.... let me share this quote from Hello Kitty Con 2014 {P.S. Also thankful I was able to attend!!}
Wise words from HK...don't you think?

Overall...I have a life that is good. I wake up healthy and happy each day and that should be enough... done! That is what matters.

But that wouldn't be fun... to end this post here.... no, so I have more for you....

Yep...I am thankful for vacations and traveling and airplanes and maps and friendly people who help you when you are lost.

This is my friend and I in France just a few months ago. My poor hubby had obligations all summer, but this girl and I have seen so many places around the globe together - we hadn't done a REAL trip in many years but Summer 2014 was our year to do Iceland and France. Amazing.

Moving on.....
 How did I survive "BHL" before the home laminator? And how did anyone live with just Comic Sans?
I adore soup....365 days of the year regardless of the fact that I live in a fairly warm place. Just love it! From French Onion to Chicken Tortilla.... bring it on!
Ahh, yes I am thankful for Jamberry. You may think it is cheesy... but it is the honest truth. I love trying so many different combos, I love how many people ask me about my nails and I love the team of people I have met by becoming a consultant. 

I am shocked I am selling them..... I don't think I am good at sales- but I am good at liking and obsessing over cute things... and these puppies sell themselves. So if you ever wanna chat about Jamberry I am your girl... whether you have questions, need tips putting them on, or want to join my team. You can read about joining here or email me christyann@gmail.com} You may end up like me...shocked you tried... but happy you did!

Now...

I just said ready, set, type...and this is what came out in the first 15 seconds:
{Try that game "The 15 second Thankful Game"... it's kinda fun!}

Last, but REALLY not least.....
You can hop on back to Primary Powers to see who else is linking up and get into that festive thankful mood!