Monday, August 24, 2015

Back to School Survival Kit

Happy Back to School Season!!

I have been so excited to share with you my Back 2 School Survival Kit! I had signed up for my first exchange a few months ago, and I couldn't even stand my excitement. It is so rare now-a-days to get snail mail that is actually worth opening {and isn't a bill!}. I was paired up with Melissa Daily from "Mrs. Daily's Classroom". I had the privilege to meet Melissa in Vegas this past July. However, at that time, we didn't know we would soon be paired up for this B2S swap!

Meet Melissa!
When I had received Melissa's interest survey, I saw how we both had a fur baby that we are {slightly} obsessed with. No kids yet--- only love for our dogs! I also saw that she had a teal and pink classroom. I couldn't wait to go to my favorite store-- Target, of course! After all, that's where I head for my "survival" items! You'll have to head over to her blog to see what I got her!

When I saw a box sitting on my porch, I couldn't wait to open it! Who doesn't get excited to see a package on their doorstep?  Take a peek at how Melissa SPOILED me with all of my favorite things!

First thing... a sweet, handwritten card!

Sharpies and flair pens!!! AHHHH!

Beautiful box of NEW pencils {HALLELUJAH!}

Watermelon soap, eos hand lotion and my favorite lip balm!! 
{I needed a new stock for my classroom... so perfect!}

Adorable notepad and journal! {Never can have enough!}

Utility cup for my white board!

And--- my favorite part-- Natural dog treats for my pup! :)

She sure did love them :)
She sure did love them!! ;) 

Oh-- and check out those adorable star chalkboard clothespins!!! LOVE!

Thank you, Melissa, for blessing my socks off, and for helping my classroom feel more like home with some of mine and your favorite things!

We both loved all of the goodies! 

Hop around to see some of the other B2S goodies that were swapped!!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Books Bloggers Love: September Edition

Happy August, everyone! I'm sure you're all gearing up to get back in the classroom, if not already! We don't start until September 8th, but I am eager to get back in there and start setting up! If you are just joining us, 12 of us teacher bloggers are blogging once a month about a favorite children's book that you can use in your own classroom for the following month! If you want to get caught up, check out my last month's book choice HERE.

I'm excited to share with you one of my favorite books, and it is perfect for back to school! The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt. {See it HERE on Amazon}
This book is about a boy named Duncan who goes to color, but when he opens his box of crayons he only finds handwritten letters from the crayons! All of the letters are saying the same thing: We quit!

Beige is tired of playing second fiddle to Brown. Blue needs a break from coloring all that water, while Pink just wants to be used. Green has no complaints, but Orange and Yellow are no longer speaking to each other. 

My favorite thing about this book is the MULTIPLE ways you can use it! You can go so many different directions with this book. Here are just some of the ways you could these with this book: Point of View, Empathy, Appreciation, Persuasive Writing, Opinion, Voice, Character Traits, Feelings, Personification, Cause & Effect, Problem/Solution, Multiple Meaning Words, and Group Conflict.

Prior to reading it, I like to build their background knowledge by asking them, "Do you have a favorite color to use? If so, which color is it? Do you have a favorite thing to draw? Which crayon do you think gets used the most? Why?"

Then I begin reading it aloud! I set the purpose for reading by telling my students: “As we read, pay attention to the purpose of each letter. What does each crayon want? What does each crayon think about the rest of the colors?”

You can also have your students watch and listen to the author reading it! 

After reading the book, I tell the students that the crayons had very strong opinions. We talk about what an opinion is and why it is important to have opinions. We then recall each crayon's opinion by writing it on the chart paper while the student write on their worksheet (below).

The kids LOVE writing quotes for some of their favorite colors in the book. Little do they know they are recalling! :)

 Then students write a letter to one of the crayons persuading them not to quit!

We will graph our class' favorite crayon colors!

Want these worksheets for FREE? Click HERE to download them! 

Want to win THIS book, along with three other books that are being blogged about this month from Jen, Meredith, and Jessica
Enter to win below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow our Pinterest board, "Books Bloggers Love" to stay up to date with our favorite books, resources, and tons of great freebies!!
Follow Stephanie's board Books Bloggers Love on Pinterest.

Hop around to see what 11 other teachers are recommending for their September book choice!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

HUGE Back to School Giveaway!

Hello, friends! I am late to the game, but have you heard that our friends over at the iTeach K-5 blogs have teamed up together to give away ONE HUGE prize? You will WANT to check this out! Personally, I want to win this one! Check it out... 

You will win an iPad Air 2 (O..m...g!), a case, stylus pen, and an iTunes gift card! Talk about perfect timing as we are all are gearing up to go back to school! 

Second Grade Stories has a great blog post of what you could do with just one iPad in your classroom! Check it out HERE!

Want to win? It's simple! Just head over to iTeach Second and enter to win! Easy, peasy!!

Jump around to see how other teachers use technology in their classroom!!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

TpT Milestone Flash Freebie & Updates!

I couldn't be more excited to celebrate my TpT milestone with all of you! My journey the past year and half has been amazing! The best part has been collaborating with other passionate teachers all around the world! Designing products for my TpT store has has opened up my creativity of my own classroom, and what a blessing to share my creations with so many people! So, celebrate with me with this FLASH freebie of one of my greatest sellers... "Show Not Tell", a descriptive writing mini unit! Don't miss it, because it's free for a limited time only! {I'd love it if you left feedback if you download!} Click the picture below to download it!

While you're there, check out what I've been up to lately! Since the beginning of the school year is just around the corner, I've been busy creating new products and updating some of my favorite products!


Did you know... TpT is have their "Back to School Sale" August 3 & 4! 
My entire store is 20% off, plus when using the code BTS15 when checking out, 
you'll save a total of 28%! 

I wish you all a smooth, peaceful, and successful start back to another GREAT year! 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Creating Independent Writers

It wasn't long after starting my first teaching job many years ago that I saw how much students rely on their teacher during writer's workshop. I felt myself torn as I needed to help students, but I was being pulled in a million different directions. Questions such as, "Mrs. Yost, how do I spell...."... "I'm done. What do I do now?" ... and so on. I'm sure you can relate! I knew I needed to quickly help my third graders become independent writers so that I could help students and hold student conferences. My main goal was to create a sense of independence in my students, and teach them to rely less on me during writers workshop. 

Model, model, model! You can scrap everything I will say about student independence if this step is skipped! This is a step that can and should take time in the beginning (and throughout) the year! The best way I like to model is by doing mini-lessons each day before the students start writing! 

In the beginning of the year, I have my students do "quick lists" of things they could write about. I set my timer for two minutes and model making my own quick list on the board. I then set my timer and students have to write as many ideas that they could write about in those two minutes. When the timer goes off, I give them a short break and have them share out their ideas with their table. This helps the students generate more ideas for their own lists.  Then, I start the timer again! For some reason when the students know the clock is ticking, they hurry their little hands! It's fun to watch!

Mostly every teacher can attest to this being the most asked question! I wanted to set up helpful tools for my students to access before coming to me. With that, my Writing Folder was born

! This folder has so many wonderful resources to help students in their writing, including writing expectations, checklists, helpful words, transition words, etc. The best part is... it has 500 high frequency word list included! So before asking me how to spell a word, they know they have to first look in this folder to see if they can find it. If not, they can ask their peers around them. If they don't know, they can bring me their folder and write the word in the "Words to Learn" part of the folder. 

Another thing that has been a helpful solution to this problem is creating a word-rich environment in the classroom. I love my word wall from Jen from Teacher by the Beach. As the year progresses and more words go up on the word wall, it's awesome seeing students use it as a spelling tool! I also love using vocabulary word walls based on the subject we are studying!

My students truly get EXCITED about writing, which I LOVE seeing!! I believe that's because they get to choose what type of writing they do! My Writing Center Activities are one of my favorite parts in my room! They know where to find the materials they need, and they can get to work immediately. It's amazing seeing their creativity and joy develop through giving them options and freedom in their writing!

"Uhhh... No, you are not done! Not even close... you just started your first draft!" (<--- my inner thoughts) My simple, yet profound solution to this is creating a writing process clip chart that students move their clips along as they go through the writing process.

We love celebrating writing in my class by doing "shared writing" in multiple forms! Many times my students will peer edit their stories. During that time, they are instructed to ask 3 questions to the writer and give 3 compliments. Another way to boost confidence is to celebrate writing by having students read their piece in the "Author's Chair". My students also love using our Whole Class Writing Notebooks. It's so fun for them to read their classmates' writing before beginning theirs, which can help boost their confidence. 

My expectation during independent writing is that it is quiet so that all students can focus. Sometimes the whispers (that are inevitable) seem so loud and can be very distracting. My favorite solution is to play classical music over my projector. This is a nice way to calm the students, and also drown out the {annoying} occasional whispering.

What are some of the solutions you've found successful in 
creating independent writers? Share below in the comments!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

My thredUP Clothing & Raise a Hand Teacher Program

I am so excited to share with you thredUP! If you haven't heard of it yet, you need to check it out {asap}! ... (Well, after you read this post, that is!) thredUP is a fashion resale site for women and children with tons of the favorite brands, including Michael Kors, Lilly Pulitzer, Tory Burch, J. Crew, and the list goes on! Their prices are always up to 90% off retail, so you don’t have to wait for the back-to-school sales to start to save a ton of money. Talk about convenient, stress-free shopping!

I was so excited to get my FIRST box from thredUP! Check out what I got... all for under $100!!

Can you even believe those prices?! The best part is about their website is their search feature. You can search by brand, size, fit, color, etc. Everything fit me perfectly, and I was still swooning over the cheap prices! Although these are previously used clothes, nothing smelled weird, there were no flaws, and everything was perfectly clean! I hope you can find some treasures as you're shopping for yourself, or your kids for back to school shopping!

Raise a Hand for Teachers Program
Another reason I love this company is their hearts for teachers! They have partnered with to recognize and thank teachers for their hard work and the positive impact they make each day on our children’s lives. Read on to learn about their new program called, "Raise A Hand for Teachers", and read about the teacher I have nominated.
  • Teachers are extremely generous with their time as well as their money. According to, teachers spend an average of $500 of their own money each year to equip their classrooms. 70% of teachers have even purchased apparel items like jackets, socks and shoes for their students. 
  • At you can read the inspiring nominations and watch an adorable video of kids thanking teachers, plus find new survey data from

Timing + Prizes
  • Nomination period is July 15 - August 23
  • Three teachers each win $2,500 for classroom supplies and $500 to thredUP. In addition, 50 runner-up winners receive $100 to thredUP.
  • Winners will be announced on Tuesday, September 8 (following Labor Day weekend)

I, too, have nominated a teacher...

I raise a hand for Tierra Jackson, a 3rd grade teacher from Logan Elementary School in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Tierra has earned the title of "Superwoman" in my mind. Not only is she a teacher, but she is a single mom to three beautiful girls. On top of all that, she manages to be the lead representation at our school's PTSO, coach of Science Olympiad, leader of her daughter's girl scout team, and the list goes on. Not to mention, she never misses an event of one of her girls. She is there, front and center, celebrating every milestone. When you walk into her classroom, you'll not only notice her organizational habits, but you'll see how she has differentiated her instruction to promote student success. She is one of the most giving teachers I have met as I have seen the amount of money she has poured out on every class she has had. From the first day I met her, coming in as a fairly new teacher, I have watched Tierra fulfill her responsibilities and roles with an immense amount of ease, with never an ounce of complaint. You can find her zooming in and out of the hallways with a joyful smile on her face and a song on her lips. It never fails that if someone needs something, she's your gal! She makes motherhood, her career, and everything else she does look so easy. I admire Tierra Jackson for many reasons, but the main thing I love about her is her heart!
I would LOVE for you to vote for my sweet friend, Tierra Jackson! Click HERE to vote!

You can "raise a hand" for a teacher that you admire by clicking HERE!

Books Bloggers Love: August Edition

Welcome to the first month of Books Bloggers Love, a monthly link-up between 12 teacher bloggers! We will be sharing our favorite book to read for the upcoming month, share with you how we use it, and you might find a freebie or two. The best part?! Each month, you will have a chance to win 4 of the 12 books we blogged about!

I chose The Potato Chip Champ by the FABULOUS Maria Dismondy

This book is about two young boys, Champ and Walter, who are very different from one another, except for their love of baseball and potato chips. Although Walter didn't have very much, he always had a positive attitude. Champ, on the other hand, had just about everything a kid could want, and was very bitter and selfish. In the end, the boys come together as friends through a powerful lesson of integrity, empathy, generosity, and thoughtfulness.

You can watch the trailer of the book here:

I had the privilege to meet Maria this past May at a Michigan meet-up. She was as sweet as ever! She is full of a contagious energy and immense kindness. You can just see the heart that she has to make this world a better place! I was so excited because I won this book that day during a giveaway that she did! (She also brought us little takeaway gifts... so sweet!) I couldn't WAIT to get back to my class to share it with my class and tell them about the REAL author I got to meet!

My students were so excited to hear the I met a REAL live author, and got an autographed book of hers. They LOVED the book, and so did I! We inferred the boys' personalities based on their behaviors throughout the book, and we made a Venn diagram chart of the character traits of both boys. After that, we discussed ways the boys were very kind to one another, and talked about the importance of kindness.

We discussed several "acts of kindness" scenarios:
(Click the images below to download a FREE copy!)

 My students spent some time thinking about ways they have already showed kindness to someone, and ways people were kind to them!

I challenged my students to the "random acts of kindness challenge at home", and they were so excited to do it! The results were so amazing to hear!

You can also play this video for your students to listen to the author herself, Maria Dismondy, read the book aloud.
Click here to download a complete 40-page resource packet made by the amazing Runde's Room

Click on the image below to purchase it on Amazon!
Enter to win 4 of the 12 books that are blogged about this month by entering the Rafflecopter below.

Check out the other 11 bloggers and their favorite "back to school" book!
An InLinkz Link-up

Stay up to date with the books from "Books Bloggers Love" by following our Pinterest board!

Follow Stephanie's board Books Bloggers Love on Pinterest.