Some Halloween Randoms

Halloween as a specialty teacher is quite a bit different from being in a regular classroom, but I have been trying to incorporate a little bit of Halloween type computer activities into my lessons.

My older kids {grades 4-6} loved this game from called Ghost Typing. As most of them pointed out, it's a pretty hard game. (We are still working on our keyboarding skills, so it was tough to get rid of the ghosts before they exploded.)

My younger students {grades 1-3} liked playing these two pumpkin games.

It's been Red Ribbon Week at our school this week and I love how the PTA decorated my door! Minecraft seems to be quite the popular game with a lot of my students, so they were all pretty happy to see this:

And, because I'm a proud mom, how cute are these little guys? 
It's fun to have two kids old enough to mostly understand what Halloween is all about. My kids are loving the costumes and beg to wear them almost every day. Also, I can't believe how much they love candy. My little 18 month old has started throwing huge fits if I try to take her candy away. Yikes! 

Good luck tomorrow, teachers! You're probably going to need it! 

P.S. Don't forget that our big 100,000 Facebook follower giveaway is still going on! Make sure to enter for a chance to win a $100 gift card to Target, plus some other prizes from our awesome sponsors.

100,000 Follower Giveaway!

It's safe to say that our blog has officially grown up. What was once a small way for Rachelle and Natalie to share classroom pictures and ideas, has grown into something neither of us could ever imagine. Yesterday we watched in awe as our number of Facebook fans reached 100,000. 

That's a whole lot of people who are reading our blog, answering our Facebook questions, and being involved in our own little community. 

We couldn't be more grateful for all of you who take time out of your day to stop by and read our blog. THANK YOU!!

As a way to celebrate this huge Facebook milestone and to say thanks to all of you, we have put together a little giveaway for you! 

Here are the items you could win:

The fabulous Kimberly Geswein has agreed to give away a commercial license of all her fonts!
{Worth $249.00!}

We sure love C Jayne Teach and we know you will too! She is donating $50 worth of fun teaching products. 

Our friend, Nikki, the talented artist from Utah has agreed to give away $25 worth of products to her Etsy shop!

Do you love our blog design? It was designed by the amazing Lindsay from Artsy-Fartsy Mama Designs. She will be donating a free business card custom design plus 250 business cards!

Mable has the cutest jewelry shop, called Tiny Dazzles, and she is giving away a free statement necklace. 


Spiders and the Common Core

Let me start by saying THANK YOU for the outpouring of love and support you gave me for {this} post last week! We have the BEST readers, ever!!! Thank you!


We first started the week by reading a lot of informational and narrative stories about spiders!

Then, we graphed whether or not we thought spiders were scary! We used the free app on our iPad called Doodle Buddy

We recorded our results on Cara Carroll's cutest recording sheet {here}.

And then we wrote an opinion piece (Common Core Opinion Writing) about if we were afraid of spiders.  We supported our opinion with 2 reasons why! 

We also wrote an informational piece on what we learned about spiders and you can see how we did that {here}. 

Then, we did some of these in math! We are working on counting on and counting back, so our equations are simple. 


What the Teacher Wants: To Be Healthy!

I'm totally going out on a limb right now. I'm feeling super vulnerable and so I need your support!
It can be SO hard to be a teacher AND think about your own health. Many of you are also wives, mommies, volunteers, caregivers, or maybe you have health problems.  It's so hard to balance it all and the past 3 years, I've sort of "let myself go". I've ALWAYS struggled with my weight (I can remember feeling self-conscience in the 3rd grade).  Many of you are probably nodding your head in agreement.  Last October, I decided I was done with it all and wanted to make myself healthy by doing it the right way...eating healthy and moving more (I had lost a lot of weight years before, but I just wanted to be skinny and had no interest in being healthy).  I started slow, it's taken me a long time, and I'm still a work in progress.  BUT, I decided that if I'm going to be the best teacher, wife, friend, sister.... I need to be my BEST SELF.  If I don't take care of myself, I might not be around for as long as I want.

So.... this is where our new series comes in:

I know this will help me be accountable and help me avoid that dreaded roller-coaster, yo-yo, up/down that sometimes comes with a healthy lifestyle.  So, what I'm here to do is tell you that it's hard to be a teacher and it's hard to have a healthy lifestyle, but we can do it!

Picture on the left is October 2012 and picture on the right is October 2013

Today, I'm just going to tell you how I got started.  I wrote down (and still do) EVERYTHING that I ate.  Every bite, nibble, and lick. ;)  I love using the MyFitnessPal App (they also have an online version). My username is Rachelleblake, but please no creepers allowed. HA!

Hopefully I will be able to inspire other teachers to take care of themselves! 
 For now, I leave you with this:

Fall Feature!

We are participating in Blog Hoppin's Fall Feature. Head on over and join the fun! Each day we have some fabulous bloggers sharing some great ideas you can use in your classroom this fall. 

P.S. Have you joined in on the the excitement over on our Facebook page? We've created a community of teachers who like to talk about teaching and other fun stuff. Come visit us and share in our conversations. We love followers and we L-O-V-E comments!!

Nashville! {A Look At Our Fun Blogger Weekend}

If you follow us on Facebook or Instagram, you are probably well-aware of the fact that we both got to travel to Nashville last weekend. It was a super fun trip where we got to meet up with some of our best blogging buddies! We talked, we shopped, we ate, and we line danced at a honky tonk in downtown Nashville! 

Here's the list of friends we met up with:

Amy Lemons {Step Into Second}
Deedee Wills {Mrs. Wills Kinder}
Erica Bohrer {Erica's Ed-ventures}
Cara Carroll {The First Grade Parade}
Sarah Cooley {First Grader At Last}
Amanda Nickerson {One Extra Degree}
Anna Brantley {Crazy for First Grade}
Abby Mullins {The Inspired Apple}
Michelle Lynn {Fabulous in First}
Kim and Megan {Kinder Gals}

Here's a peek at some of the fun we had...
Visiting the Parthenon

Outside of the Grand Ole Opry


Some of the cutest blogging girls we know!

Baby shower for our two expectant mommies,  Abby and Sarah!

Hanging out and having fun!

The whole crew! 
{Minus Kim and Megan who hadn't gotten into town yet, and our sweet friends who weren't able to make the trip: Deanna, Lindsey, Cheryl, and Kathleen.}

On Saturday night, we headed out for a night in downtown Nashville. 

We stopped by this awesome turquoise wall for a little photo shoot. 
{Photos by: Natalie}

And here we are having a blast getting our country dancing on.

We were lucky to meet up with two of Nashville's sweetest teachers: Elizabeth {from Kickin' It In Kinder} and Chandra {from C Jayne Teach}. They ended up being our official tour guides for the night and showed us how much fun Nashville can be!

{Photo credit: Cara Carroll}
The next morning we did a scarf exchange. Here we are showcasing off the cute scarves we all got. 

{Photo credit: Cara Carroll}
A group shot before everyone had to leave their separate ways.  It was sad to have to say goodbye. It's hard having best friends that live on opposite sides of the country!

Words can not adequately describe the fun time we had in Nashville! For anyone involved in the blog world, you know about the special friendships formed from blogging. These girls are not only our blog friends, they are now our "in real life" best friends. 

Have you been to Nashville?
Do you ever travel with a group of friends?
Has blogging changed your life?
{Leave us a comment and share your story!}

Get Out Your Bells and Whistles!

I really don't love practicing sight words with my students. I mean, it just gets tedious. And when we go over a word 100 times and the 101st time they say the wrong word, I cry a little inside. I decided to really take my sight word practice to a whole new level.  A few of my reading groups really needed to learn a certain 5 words ASAP because I was sick of them missing it on their running record.  So, I whipped these games up today and we played them like champions.

In our PE closet we have these bowling pins!  I pulled them out and taped the sight words to them.  I had one student come up at a time and I called out a sight word. Then, they had to roll the ball and try to hit the pin with the sight word on it.  They LOVED it. 

This is an oldie, but certainly a goodie. Not only do we swat all the flies in our classroom (for real, we had like 5 in our room today), but when I call out a sight word, the two students with the swatters try to swat the word first.

Do you have any pool noodles around your house or perhaps you picked some up at the Dollar Tree in the summer?  I cut one in half and gave one to 2 of my students. I called out the sight word and they "jabbed" it with their noodle. No students were hurt in the playing of this sight word game. 

I have this stylus that I use for my iPad and it has a laser pointer on the end of it. You'd think that my students are more like cats because they love to chase the laser pointer all around the room. ;)  But really, I call out the sight word and they point the laser to the right word. It's a favorite for sure. 

Mini Webquest - Three Branches of Government

Teaching my students about the US government, is one of my very favorite topics! I love teaching about the Bill of Rights, the Constitutional Convention, and all about the three branches of government.

As part of my computer curriculum, I wanted to find ways to bring a little social studies into my lesson plans, and taking my kids on Internet webquests is a perfect way to combine Internet research skills with the new writing common core!

Here is a mini webquest I created to introduce students to an inquiry-based approach to learning about the 3 branches of government. It walks students through the six different components of a webquest: introduction, task, process, resources, evaluation, and conclusion. It's designed to be a quick one or two day lesson where students identify the three branches, learn about each branch, and complete a little project to demonstrate their learning.

{Click this pic to see more}

-Teacher instruction page (includes project examples)
-Student instruction page (includes website information)
-Three branches of government graphic organizer
-3 blank posters (one for each branch of government)

I am planning to make lots of different mini webquest projects similar to this one on a wide variety of topics and for all grade levels. So please leave a comment and let me know which lessons and topics you would like me to start working on.

Special note: I have priced this webquest at $2, but will offer it for 50% off until the government shutdown is over!! Grab it while it's only $1!

Other research projects I've created:
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