May 15, 2016

Freebies: Digital Paper and Clipart

As promised in my last post about how to create task cards, I'm going to provide you with some links to where you can find free digital paper and clip art.

Free Digital Papers

One of the best ways to have oodles of free digital papers at your fingertips is to do a search on Teachers Pay Teachers.  There are so many talented and generous sellers out there that offer these type of freebies to help teachers get started.  If you download any of their free papers, be courteous and leave positive feedback.  It is also nice to follow their store.  This helps them to get their products out there and will help you as well, because any new products they upload will show up on your TpT homepage.  

Mel from Mel Stampz is so talented and talented.  Checkout this link which takes you to all of her free paper sets and overlays
Mel Stampz

Pinterest can be a great source of freebies as well.  If you have a Pinterest account, make sure you are logged in and then click on this link. (I just did a search for free digital paper) and look how much popped up!!

Free Clip Art

If you have not visited Laura Strickland's "My Cute Graphics" you should go there immediately!! Her free clip art directory is extensive and her designs are so cute and colorful.  She is very generous with her TOU as well - you can use her work for personal and commercial use with a simple credit back.

As with digital paper, TpT and Pinterest are also a great source of free clip art.  Click the links below to take you to the latest and greatest free clip art on both sites.

Some of my favorite clip artists that sell their clip art on TpT are also very generous and have many freebies for download.  Check out the links below for some more awesome freebies

I hope you have found this post helpful and will dive on in to putting your teaching ideas on paper in a creative way now that you have some task card templates (see my previous post), papers, and clip art resources at hand.  

Note: Please be sure and always read the terms of use from the designers that created the paper or clip art that you would like to use.  All of these papers can be used for personal use, but some are restricted for commercial use.  Those that allow commercial use will likely require a link back to their website.  I always save my papers in a file with the designers name so that I know who to give credit back to.  If you collect enough papers and clip art like I do, you will need a system for keeping track of where it came from and the TOU (terms of use) that go with it.

May 14, 2016

Task Cards Made Easy

If you would like to make colorful task cards either for your students or to sell on TpT, but don't know where to start - I can help!  I've been creating lessons for my students and selling on Teachers Pay Teachers for over 5 years now, and have learned a few "tricks of the trade" along the way.

I recently made the switch from creating in Word to creating in PowerPoint - and boy was that ever a good decision!!  PowerPoint makes things so much easier!  So to follow this little tutorial, you will need to have PowerPoint installed.  I am still working off of an older version of Powerpoint (2007), so if you have the latest version, things might be just a tad different, but probably not too much.

Let's get started:

Just click on one or both of these templates,  download, and open in Powerpoint

Click in the grey area of one of the task cards.  You should see it framed with white dots as shown below:

Now select "format" from the top menu -   "shape fill"   and finally -  "picture".

You will need to navigate your way to  your digital backgrounds.  Double click on one that you like.  This will fill in the grey space of the task cards.

If your digital background has a print and is not a solid, you may want to adjust the tiling. For example -  in the picture below - the paisley is WAYYYY too big.

To fix it up:  Go into "Format"   -  select "Shape Styles"   -   "Fill"   -   "Tile texture as picture"   and finally -    "Scale x" and "Scale y"
You will need to play around with the percentages in the x and y scale.  Some designs need only a little adjustment, some need a lot.  I always keep the percentages in both fields the same so that the design is proportional.

 Voila!  There you go - you now have some awesome task cards!  Adjust the settings of the text boxes to your desired font size and style and then duplicate the slide to create as many task card pages as you will need before you start typing. 

Duplicating the slide is simple - just right click on the slide you want to duplicate (in the slide view on the left-hand side of your screen) and select "Duplicate Slide".  Repeat this process until you have the desired number of slides.  Hint: Create more than you think you will need - it is easy to delete the extras.

Easy as pie!  The procedure is the same regardless of which slide orientation you use. 

I hope this helps make creating colorful task cards a bit easier.  My next post will be on providing you some links to some of my favorite FREE digital papers and clipart to further help you get started - so check back soon! 

May 02, 2016

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! In celebration of reaching our first milestone on Teachers Pay Teachers, and to celebrate all of you wonderful teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week, Regina from 123kteach and I are hosting an AMAZING GIVEAWAY! Check out the fabulous prizes (by clicking on the links listed below) from these amazingly talented teachers who have so generously donated to our special event.

One lucky winner will receive terrific products that values well over $100.00. If you teach an early primary grade (PreK-3) this giveaway is perfect for you!! This special giveaway begins May 2-May 5th. Just enter to win on Regina's blog by clicking here

Good Luck!

(winner's choice $25.00 credit to store)

Jolene Ray
(winner's choice $25.00 credit to store)

Rosie's Superstars

Let's Learn S'more

Momma with a Teaching Mission
(winner's choice $10:00 credit to store)

Amanda Kristofferson

Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten


The Cozy Learning Cottage

Michelle Dupuis
(winner choice)

Lattes and Lunchrooms


Teacher Gems

Shifting Teacher K-2
(winner's choice)

Briana Beverly

Teaching Tykes


Kindergarten Boom Boom
(winner's choice)

January 08, 2016

Teaching students how to solve word problems

I wanted to share with you a strategy that I have found works very well with students who find word problems difficult to digest :)  I've noticed that so often students read the word problem, but don't really comprehend the situation given or what is being asked.  They tend to think every number given is important, and they tend to want to go straight to adding to solve everything.  Sometimes, as is often the case at the school I teach at, the students' reading levels are so low that they focus more on deciphering the words than comprehending them.  This strategy that I will share is by no means the solution to all your students' word problem solving issues, but I have found after using it for several weeks in my math intervention groups, that students are less intimidated by the problems and have a better idea of steps they need to take to solve them.

January 06, 2016

Flash Freebie

I am participating in my first ever - "Blog Hop".  Thanks so much to Kristin from Happy Little Kindergarten for hosting this.   These two products below are "flash freebies" until this Friday morning. They normally sell for $3 each, but download them before Friday morning and you can have them for free!  My students have really enjoyed these place value games, and what's even better - they have learned from them. 

3rd Grade Place Value Bingo (to hundred thousands): TEKS 3

4th Grade Decimal Place Value Bingo: TEKS 4.2B, 4.2C & CCS

Each set comes with a "basic" set of calling cards and a "challenge" set for your higher learners.  I use them with my small math intervention groups, but they would be great in a learning station or as a whole group activity - (there are 24 different cards in each of the two sets).  I believe that the key to learning is engagement, and what better way to engage our little learners than a game of BINGO!

Here is how it works: when you click on one of these products, you will be redirected to my TPT store where you can read the description and download. If you teach 3rd or 4th grade math, check out my other products and freebies too :)  All of my products are TEKS aligned (cause I teach in Texas y'all) and most are Common Core aligned as well.

When you are done downloading, be sure and hop on back to Happy Little Kindergarten to check out some more awesome bloggers and their flash freebies.

Thanks so much for stoppin' by!!

December 20, 2015

Up Up and Away!

Well, here it goes - my first post on my first blog!  I am very excited to begin this blogging journey - mainly so that I get to connect with and learn from other teachers like you :) Until this year, my new career of teaching left me with barely any time to eat, sleep, or even take a potty break! (I know -TMI - sorry ) Being a new teacher, I could not seem to find the balance that experienced teachers seem to have so effortlessly.  With three school aged boys at home and a husband running himself ragged trying to step in and pick up the slack (cause believe me - I was no help at home at all) - together, we decided that now was not be the best time for me to return to work full-time.  So, after 2 years in the classroom, I entered my principal's office at the end of last school year to turn in my notice. I had such mixed emotions.  My heart was so heavy, because in some aspects I felt that I had failed, but at the same time, my soul felt free again.

When this current school year started, I decided to sub for my teacher friends.  Subbing has its own set of challenges, but thankfully, planning all weekend long and staying up until 2 in the morning grading papers are not among them.  After subbing for my friend Melynda, our reading specialist - and going on and on about how much I LOVED IT (and wanted her job), a friend and colleague of mine (Rhonda - our math coach) went to bat for me asking our principal if I could be hired back to do something similar, but for math.  I think I accepted the job before my principal could even finish verbalizing the offer. (In truth - it was all I could do not to jump up and down for joy.)  Somehow I managed to keep my cool, and within three weeks of that conversation, I was  back on contract as a part-time math interventionist.

I will be forever grateful to my friends Melynda, Rhonda, and our principal, because I can now honestly say that I LOVE my job!!  I truly have the best of both worlds.  I get to work with the most wonderful group of teachers one could ever imagine, at a school that I love, with children that make me feel like a rock star every day.  (If you are a teacher - you know what I'm talkin' about.) At the same time, I can be home in the evenings and on weekends without papers to grade or hours of planning on the agenda.  I have time to cook meals (though we still eat out way too much), help with homework, attend school events and parties, build my TPT (and now blog design) businesses, and just be present for my family, physically and mentally, in a way that I have not been since I started back to school to get my teaching degree in 2010.  So - life definitely has its ups and downs!  This time last year, I felt as though I was drowning in a sea of responsibility, and today I am excitedly diving into new endeavors  :)

Let the journey begin!