Saturday, 5 April 2014

Educents Anniversary!

Have you heard of It's the first group deal website for Educators where you can save up to 90% on curriculum, educational toys, and other learning products. They are turning 1 year old on April 2, 2014 and to celebrate, they are giving an additional 20% off, site wide until April 7, 2014! Just use code "Anniversary20." In addition, they are SO EXCITED to kick off an AMAZING month of fun activities to celebrate. They will have 30 giveaways (one per day) in the month of April! And, their grand prize winner will receive a family vacation in Florida (thanks to Wyndham Vacation Rentals) & with a runner-up prize of a $1,000 Educents Gift Card!

Just a few of the companies that will be giving products away in April: Math Mammoth, SayPlease, Systematic Mathematics, DNA Educational Games, Red Apple Reading, Critical Thinking Co., Times Tales, Seat Sack, The Latin Road, Intelli-Tunes, Simply Fun, Institute for Excellence in Writing, Luv Chicken, Center for Hands-On Learning, Classical Academic Press, Your Story Hour, Wordsmiths, American High School, Middlebury Interactive Languages, My Year Look, The Latin Road, Intelli-Tunes, The learning Journey International & MORE!

The mission of Educents is to provide affordable education to all. In just 1 year, Educents has saved educators over $5 million dollars and over 150,000 products have made it into homes and classrooms all around the world.

So, what are you waiting for? Go save an additional 20% and enter to win tons of giveaways.  For every giveaway you enter, you get an entry for the two grand prizes! -- The Best Place for Educational Products at a discount!

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Wordless Wednesday and a Freebie!

Ok, I know it's not Wednesday, but it's been a long week!  I'm linking up with Sugar and Spice's Wordless Wednesday Linky with the following image:

April is Autism Awareness month and this image reminds me of all the students who have passed through my hands over the years.  I currently have 2 students with autism and I constantly think about the struggles they face as they make their way through our education system and face their futures with those who have little understanding of their condition and how if it affects them on a daily basis.

I don't feel adequately trained, do you?

Click on the pic below for a resource that you may find helpful.

Check out other Wordless Wednesday posts by hopping over to Sugar and Spice's blog - you may find something to inspire you!

Friday, 28 March 2014

Celebrate 'Spring Forward' with a Spring-Cleaning Sale!

Hi everyone!  Well, it's our 'spring forward' this weekend - those lighter nights just can't come soon enough!!  I LOVE this time of year!  So, what's been happening?  

A quick round up from me - I broke 2 toes a couple of weeks ago - ^&*(&*^%$$$%^&**(!!!!!!  is all I can say - thankfully they are on the mend - some very awkward driving for a while though!
My hubs and I will be doing this tomorrow!!  So excited!!!

I hope my stomach keeps it together - lol!  We will be flying to the Giant's Causeway and then across to Donegal - cameras batteries are charged, tummy is doing somersaults already!  I will post pics shortly - if they survive my shaky hand!  I have never been in a helicopter, so fingers crossed, all goes smoothly!

I love learning new things and when I am supposed to be working, I'm playing with technology!  I have so many half-finished projects for TpT, but I can only work when I'm in the 'zone', which sadly hasn't been for a while.  However, I have been busy with other little 'projects' that catch my interest and keep me away from important stuff!

I have opened a little 'store' on my blog.  I don't really expect to sell much, but I had fun setting it up!  It basically showcases my digital papers and is by no means fully loaded.  It's just a start and another little hobby for me.  The good thing about this outlet is that I can offer discount coupons whenever I like and it's a great way to thank all those customers who support me.  (These are mostly announced on FB, so it's always a good idea to check).

Last announcement for this evening: SPRING CLEANING SALE ON TPT!

My store is currently on sale!  I have joined a ton of fellow bloggers for a fun linky and sale to see out March.  So clear out those wishlists and pop those resources into your carts.  There's a lot of shops to browse this weekend!  Hop around the linky at the bottom of this post to visit some of your favorite sellers and grab a bargain!  

Wishing everyone a fun-filled weekend!

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Sharing Giveaway News!

Just a short post this evening.  Since breaking two toes, I'm not really comfortable sitting at my desk.  Hoping next week will be much better!

I just wanted to share a 1000 follower giveaway with you - one that I and many others have donated to and it's massive!!  Don't miss out - there are so many goodies to win!

Melissa from First Grade Smiles is hosting the giveaway - just click on the pic below to hop to her blog and enter for some fabulous prizes!   Read further if you want the details!!

So without further ado, let's check out just how amazing this giveaway truly is. It is so amazing that there are 5 (Yep - count 'em!) FIVE giveaways to enter. You can (and should) enter ALL of them because these people are truly unbelievable and winning their products will make you feel like you've struck gold!

Giveaway #1 You can win a $25 TpT Gift Certificate and 2 products from Melissa's store

The products in Giveaway #2 are perfect for Kindergarten and 1st Grade.
Here are the links so you can check them out:

The products in Giveaway #3 are perfect for 1st and 2nd Grade.
Here are the links so you can check them out:

The products in Giveaway #4 are perfect for 1st, 2nd, and even 3rd Grade.
Here are the links so you can check them out:

And finally, the products in Giveaway #5 are for friends who are addicted to clipart like Melissa. She is super excited to have 4 amazing artists who have donated to Giveaway #5.  She has also thrown in a $10 TpT gift certificate so you could do some shopping of your own.
Here are the links to the donated products:

Wishing you lots of fun with the giveaways! Fingers crossed your name gets called!!

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Last Minute Planning For St. Patrick's Day! Freebie Linky!

Well, I am oh so late with this post - not what I had planned at all!  I'm afraid two broken toes came between me and my beloved computer!  I won't even tell you how I did it, it's too stupid - lol!  Needless to say, sitting at my desk has not been the most comfortable of positions, but my purple sausages are beginning to throb a little less, so I thought maybe I could squeeze in this post before it's too late!  On the plus side, it's St. Patrick's Day soon and my school is closed for the day - yay!
Which brings me on to the point of this post!  Most teachers will have planned and organized for next week.  I'm sure many of you will be using St. Patrick's Day themed resources on Monday.  If some of you are anything like me, planning sometimes happens at the last minute or plans get changed at short notice because something else catches your eye!  So although this post is last minute, you may still pick up something quick that you know your students would love!  If you scroll down to the bottom of this post, you will find a linky for free products you can use in your classroom on Monday. 

I posted this last year, but I couldn't resist again - a little light-heartedness does the soul good!!  What's your Leprechaun name?  I'm Stumpy McTurnips!

Wishing you all a fun-filled St. Patricks Day!

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Birthday Giveaway!

Ok - I'll admit it - yesterday was a big deal for me!  Yes, it was my birthday, it was a 'special' birthday - one of those birthdays with a big fat zero at the end!  I can be a bit prone to over-analyzing things and I've been dreading this particular birthday for a while.  I don't really know why - did I think that I would magically turn old overnight?  Who knows?!  But it had been playing on my mind for a while.

There's no putting off time and the day finally arrived.  Far from the awful day I thought it would be, it turned out to be one of the best days ever!  Not because it was full of expensive gifts (that's not really my thing), but because it was a day filled with love.  From touching comments, sweet memories from old school friends, wonderful verses and special surprises from my students, work colleagues, friends and family.  I felt so blessed, so valued and so loved.  It's a day I won't forget for a long time to come.  What a wonderful start to the next decade!  

Although it's a bit late, I want to pass on that 'warm glow' with a little fun giveaway!

Game:  truth, truth, truth, truth and a big fat whopper!!  Which one is not the truth?  Enter your best guess in the rafflecopter to win a $20 TpT Gift Certificate or $20 of clip art from {my store}.

1.  My beautiful fur baby is called Blue

2.  I live on a peninsula

3.  I speak Spanish  fluently

4.  I play the trumpet

5.  I am a white water kayak coach

So, which one is a big fat untruth!!  Have fun!

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

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!

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

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!

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Augmented Reality - Aurasma App

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!

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

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!

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