Teacher Tip Linky and TpT Sale

Hi friends!  I'm joining up with some of my favorite bloggers to bring some tips to help you through to the end of the year!  Who's counting already?!

Basically, I'm saying:  Don't sweat the small stuff!  We are all our own worst enemies!  I know I worry endlessly and over-analyze, knowing full well that all that does is cause stress.  I end up wishing the end of the year away, not enjoying my kiddos and start the holidays totally exhausted.  This year, I am going to try my very best to pace it all out and not wish it away.  My advice to you is to take care of yourself first and everything else will take care of itself.    During school time, try to get out of the building at lunchtime and go for a walk if you can - keep moving and get out in the fresh air as much as you can.  Keep the positive feeling going by treating your work colleagues.  Maybe once a week, take a treat into the staffroom - you'll get warm glow from making people smile and it might encourage others to join in too!  It's those little things that make the difference and help keep you in a positive frame of mind.

Outside of school, try to make time for yourself and family at the weekends.  Make a point of doing what you need to do for school first, then you know the rest of the weekend is yours to enjoy.  If you leave it until Sunday evening, you have that constant voice pecking away in your head telling you - 'you have to do this, you have to do that' - it can spoil your mood and the weekend!  No matter how tired I feel on Fridays, I never leave without at least having Monday planned.  That way, I know I have a day in hand - it stops that 'under-pressure' feeling.

If you can, try to join some kind of class - something you enjoy and have a passion for - preferably with people who are not teachers - lol!  I really enjoy exercise - it makes me feel less tired and refreshed, so I have recently joined a swimming class.  I get to socialise with people who don't talk school stress - it's like a breath of fresh air!

If you have a plan of attack, it will help you enjoy the time with your kiddos right to the very end.  Keep the routine for them too - they need the structure just as much as you do.  Help them reflect on their progress and celebrate the successes.  Remember they will be tired too and you want to keep the classroom environment positive or their behavior and motivation may deteriorate.

Ok, that's my lecture over - just be kind to yourself!

I'm sure most of you are aware by now that TpT is having a huge site-wide sale.  A great way to end February on an exciting note and help you plan through to the end of the year - taking the pressure off!

All of my {store} is on sale, so if you have the time and inclination, stop by and check it out.  Hopefully you will find something to help with your planning.  Below are just some examples of what's on offer (click on the images to check out the products).

This huge seller starter pack includes 12 elements!
You can also check out tips and products from my friends by hopping round the linky below.  
Have fun at the sale!


Holidays and a Sale!

Ok - don't be jealous, but I'm currently enjoying a week off school - our mid-term break.  As the weather is awful, I have turned my attention to making some changes to my TpT store.  Of course, I have a ton of unfinished products, but I like to go with the flow and do what captures my interest at the time!
I have updated my TOU/Credits pages and have included a promo insert for my digital papers - basically if you buy two packs, you get a third free (of equal or lesser value).  If you wish to take advantage of this promotion, just buy the packs, email me with your username and let me know which pack you would like for free.  Since creating this, I have added more papers to my store ( a disavantage!!)
You can check out what's available {here}.

I have also decided to make all my products available in British English and have added this custom category to my store.  Of course, this will take some time, so I will coordinate my efforts with the flow of the teaching year - I have made a start with a St. Patrick's Day Writing Pack.

As I am in a celebratory mode for the holidays, I am having a little sale on {TpT}.  The sale finishes tonight at midnight, so make sure to stop by and grab yourself a bargain!

The pic below shows some of my February graphics.  I have added some new freebies too.

So, to a little sneak peek at what I'm working on right now.  I needed a comprehension resource for a group in my class that would have high interest content, but could be completed with a lower level of reading - 'Checkbox Challenge' grew from this need.  I am hoping to make this into a series and have started the first pack with non-fiction text.  The resource would also be useful as a test pack to check understanding in less able readers.  I'm hoping to have this finished in the next few days - it will be available at 50% off for 24 hours.  Fingers crossed I get it finished - I'm so excited about the possibilities!
Have a great day!

Augmented Reality - Aurasma

Despite my age and many years in teaching, it's important to me not to become complacent.  I thrive on the next challenge and love to explore everything new in teaching.  A wonderful network of bloggers has kept me right up to date with what's new and interesting and Pinterest has become a valuable resource!
Some examples:  from whole brain teaching - oral writing - something I have recently introduced in my classroom and hope to blog about very soon. 
When QR codes were trending, I made a fun resource to welcome my firsties back to school.
Usually, if I don't know something I google it, especially in the area of technology.  I try not to be scared of it because, although I remember my first internet experience vividly and was overwhelmed, it is, for our little ones, a completely natural and commonplace experience.
Recently I have become interested in Augmented Reality, courtesy of  {Tools for Teachers by Laurah J}.  Laurah had made a resource using the Aurasma app and had written about it - it piqued my interest and I just had to explore further!
What is Augmented Reality?  This video explains it better than I can!
So, the question is - how do we use this technology in our classrooms?  
From {edutopia}:

Classroom Applications

Another app, Aurasma, allows users to engage in and create Augmented Reality experiences of their own. Educators and (more importantly) students can use this open source tool to essentially bring their learning to life. We've seen Aurasma used several different ways in the classroom.
  • Homework Mini-Lessons: When students scan a page of their homework, the page reveals a video of their teacher helping them solve a problem.
  • Faculty Photo Wall: Set up a display of faculty photos near the school entrance. Visitors can scan the image of any instructor and see that figure come to life, telling more about him- or herself.
  • Book Reviews: Students record themselves giving a brief review of a novel that they just finished, and then attach that "aura" (assigned digital information) to a book. Afterward, anyone can scan the cover of the book and instantly access the review.
  • Parent Involvement: Record parents giving brief words of encouragement to their child, and attach a trigger image to every child's desk. Anytime students need to hear encouraging words from their parent, they can scan the image on their desk for virtual inspiration.
  • Yearbooks: From tributes to video profiles, from sports highlights to skits and concert footage, the ways that AR can enhance a school yearbook are limitless.
  • Word Walls: Students can record themselves providing the definitions to different vocabulary words on a word wall. Afterward, anyone can use the Aurasma app to make a peer pop up on screen, telling them the definition and using the word in a sentence.
  • Lab Safety: Put triggers (images that activate media when scanned by an AR-enabled device) all around a science laboratory so that when students scan them, they can quickly learn the different safety procedures and protocols for the lab equipment.
  • Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) Sign Language Flashcards: With AR, flashcards of vocabulary words can contain a video overlay that shows how to sign a word or phrase.
{Aurasma} is a free app which can be downloaded to your ipad, iphone, android device or iphone.  Once you have it installed, you can scan any image that has an aura embedded in it.  Laurah has a fabulous resource, 'The Life Cycle of a Butterfly' which can be downloaded {here}.
Scanning and enjoying a near real experience is the easy part, but I also wanted to try making a quick aura myself.
I used this video to help me:
To get the full experience, you should really download Laurah's fabulous resource!
I made a quick aura for the purpose of this blog post, it is by no means perfect, but I wanted to provide you with a quick demonstration, so you could see it working.  To view this aura, you must have the app installed on your mobile device.  For the auras to appear, you must first follow this channel - this can only be done on your mobile device:
Once this step is completed, all you have to do is open the app and scan the image below!  A video will appear for you to enjoy in 'real-life'.

Please excuse the quality of video and the lack of sound - I have yet to perfect that bit! Of course, many of us just don't have the time to create these resources, but you can find auras that have already been created by others who use the app. You just have to follow their channel to access the auras. Hopefully, some pioneers (like Laurah!) will begin to create resources which will be available in TpT stores!

So, give it a go and let me know what you think! Thanks so much to Laurah J from Tools for Teachers for bringing this amazing app to my attention!


Cards for Kindness: Spreading Smiles on Valentine's Day!

It's nearly upon us!  That time of year when we want to hear how special we are and how much someone loves us!  Pinks, reds, hearts, flowers and chocolates!  As a teenager I eagerly awaited the arrival of a card from the mail man every year and my Dad never let me down!  It felt so special to think that someone out there was thinking of me!  Every year I couldn't wait to go shopping for a huge, padded Valentine's card! (Remember those cards that were all the rage in the 80s?!)  Oh cringe - covered in verses and sent to the boy I dreamed about - how innocent we all were - lol!   And how times have changed - today we ask our little ones to also reach out to strangers as well as those they know and love, people they have never met - and yes, they rise to the challenge - how sweet they are!
Despite being just little first graders, we had a wonderful discussion about what it might be like to not feel special, to not feel loved - they were so ready and able to empathize!  They understood that it was wonderful to feel special, but that it was equally wonderful to make someone else feel special - to spread the love far and wide and bring a smile to someone who might otherwise not feel appreciated on this feel-good day.  So, I let them in on a plan.......!
First of all I should tell you that I have linked up with The Teaching Tribune for a special linky party: Cards for Kindness!  For this project students everywhere are encouraged to make cards for people in the community or those who might need an extra smile this Valentine's Day. 

Back story:  Some weeks before Christmas my amazing, sweet mother-in-law, Kathleen, passed away.  (Those of you who follow my blog will know the story).  My husband and I discussed not sending Christmas cards this year because he felt that it was just not appropriate for him at that time.  We decided that the money we had saved from buying and mailing Christmas cards should be donated to a charity.  If you have followed my blog from the beginning, you will know all about my rescued fur babies and how passionate we are about animals.  We decided that this money should be donated to our local rescue kennels.  (Of course we got busy and hadn't taken the time to drive out there).  So, light-bulb moment! We should combine the donation with a special card to celebrate the volunteers who run the kennels, people who do not get paid, but give selflessly of their time for love.  My plan was for the children to make the cards and stick £1 coins in each one, so that they felt they were not just thanking those hard-working kind people who make such an amazing difference to animals in need, but also giving something to the animals too - to help feed a dog or cat or buy them a warm blanket to use throughout the snowy months.  Of course the children just loved that idea!!

For craft type projects, I usually like the children to be creative, give them a variety of materials and textures and let their imaginations run wild!  However after much discussion, the children wanted to make a dog or cat card - so we found some templates, with pieces that were all heart-shaped, and when put together formed a dog or cat.  We made up a little verse together, stuck it inside, added some stickers and the coin - all set for a trip to the kennels this weekend!  Here are some photos of the finished cards - don't they look cute?  Dalmation spots seemed to be a particular favorite!  Be prepared for the cuteness overload!

Do you know of an organization in your teaching community or a person who could use some extra smiles and kindness on Friday? This is a super sweet project that does not take a lot of time and leaves a BIG impression on your students! We would love for you to link up with us over at the The Teaching Tribune! Click the button below to head over and learn more!  It will be available until February 23rd. Just snap some pictures of your cards and link up with us! 

Have fun reading round everybody's blogs and finding out what they've been up to!


A winner and a round up!

Hi everyone!  So sorry for the delay in announcing the winner of my little giveaway!  I have been up to my eyes writing IEPs and clearing a backlog of work.  I did reply to your comments - thank you so for much for taking part!  I numbered the comments and got my hubs to pick a number....and the winner is......Bec Perry!  Thank you for leaving your email, I will be sending your chosen product as soon as possible - I hope you find it useful!  Thanks again everyone for joining in the fun!
I wanted to let you know about an upcoming linky......
Let me tell you what it is all about!
As Valentine's Day approaches, we hope you will join us in spreading some smiles, love, and happiness to those in your teaching community this year! We know our students love making Valentine's for their friends and decorating Valentine's bags and boxes for their classroom parties. But we think Valentine's Day is also the perfect opportunity to get your students involved in spreading kindness and a much needed smile to those around them.

Giving Valentine's to those who need a smile or a brightened day is the perfect opportunity to teach your students about kindness, empathy, and generosity. My first graders and I are going to be making Valentine's for the volunteers at a dog rescue center - we will be including a monetary donation for dog food.
I told my students that the photos of their cards would be seen all around the world - they are so excited to get started!

You can link up at The Teaching Tribune when you have your blog post ready to share.  
I hope you will join us in this giving linky!  
Just click on the pic below to go the The Teaching Tribune and check out the details
if you are interested in joining us. 

I also wanted to share a sweet Valentine's Giveaway from a new blogger and TpT seller just starting out.  It would be wonderful if you could show her some bloggy love.  Just click on the pic below to enter the giveaway - thanks for taking the time - we were all new once!!
I also wanted to share a fabulous blog hop going on right now.  You will need your paper and pens for this one though!  No products to download, but a lot of fabulous tips, tricks and strategies for your classrooms!  Just click on the pic below to go to Christina's Sugar and Spice blog and you can follow the hop from there.
Lastly, I have to share with you that I finally found some mojo to finish a project that I started before Christmas.  It was originally to be called January Journalling, but unfortunately it dragged on into February!!  It is now simply named 'Let it Snow' Winter Writing Prompts.  It ended up with a ton more pages than I expected.  Appropriate for high Kinders, first graders and struggling second graders.  I have included a range of formats, including photo prompts.  Just click on the first pic below to check it out at my store.

This pack contains a total of 30 journal prompts for use throughout the Winter months.

The writing prompts are open-ended and can be used for a daily response journal or more structured and guided journal writing, after class/small group discussion or research.

I have also included blank templates, with and without a themed border. Included are handwriting guidelines, as well as lines only, for more advanced, able writers.

The PDF contains the following:

P1: Cover
P2: Teacher Notes
P3: Contents
P4: Separator
P5-58: Writing Journal

My New Goals
My Favorite Winter Sport
How to Ice Skate
It’s Winter!
Snowman Acrostic
Winter Clothes
My Favorite Book
Winter Fun!
Hot Chocolate
Winter Weather
Worst Winter!
The Perfect Snowman
Which One? Ice Skating or Sledding
A Snowman’s Life
Penguin Describing Words
Snow Days
A Day in the Life of…..
Snowball Fight!
Snowman Adventure
The Igloo
Photo Prompt: The Mountain House
Photo Prompt: Snow Angels
Photo Prompt: Blue
Make a List: Comparison 1
Make a List: Comparison 2
Make a List: Comparison 3
Make a List: Comparison 4
Make a List: Comparison 5
Informational text: Polar Bears
Informational text: Penguins 

P59: Separator
P60-101: Writing Journal Alternative Lines
P102: Separator
P103-122: Blank Writing Templates

Although I have been tardy about finishing it, I hope you may still find something useful.  I have included my fur baby in the photo prompts!  I wonder if he knows he's about to become famous - lol!

Thanks for reading and have a great week!

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