Friday, October 17, 2014

You Want These SECRETS To CRAFTivity Success: 'Teachers We Love' with First Grade Blue Skies

It's that time of year when classroom cuteness and overwhelm dials turn way up.  

How do I know this?

First of all, I noticed the movie, Elf, while scrolling through the channels last night.  A movie I watch at least 100 times before Christmas.

Second, my pinning finger hurts.  You know, the finger used to pin thousands of great holiday ideas to  Pinterest boards that may or may not ACTUALLY get accomplished.

Ready or not. There's no place to hide.  The holidays are coming.  I better not find you huddled in the corner of the teacher copy room, buried in a pile of construction paper, covered in glitter, with your fingers glued together.

Let's pull ourselves together.


Jennifer White from the blog, 'First Grade Blue Skies' has secrets.  Juicy crafty secrets.  Secrets behind her adorable craftivitities and bulletin boards. 

Easy secrets that will lower your classroom craft stress level.  Secrets that will have teachers, parents and students googly-eyed and ooooooing and ahhhhing over your room.

Jennifer's ideas will turn your classroom-cuteness level up to high, but her secrets will keep your overwhelm-dial low and coasting smoothly into the holidays narwhal style.

Secret ingredients for craftivity success include:  

*circle sponges from Walmart
*spray painted clothes pins with erasers used for polka dots 
*ready made patterns
*thin tipped Frixion markers from Japan that you can order on Amazon
and don't forget 
*parents do the prep for you!  

WARNING:  Don't make my craftivity mistake.  

In my first year of teaching kindergarten, I tried to do craftivities daily.  Enter the kindergarten craftivity sweat shop.  We must cover all the walls and bulletin boards!  Make this classroom vomit with craftivity cuteness!  The cuter my classroom must mean the better the teacher I am.

You probably already know the moral to this story.

Burnout 101.  

The kids loved the crafts but I went OVERBOARD.  I like Jennifer's approach to doing one craftivity per unit of study at most.  

I know you might be concerned, are craftivities academic enough?  

Here are my thoughts: 
  1. Craftivities  can easily be the kick off to a unit that gets kids excited about new learning OR the craftivity is the culminating activity after a unit of study.
  2. Craftivities integrate several subjects to give the learning some complexity and depth.
  3. Yes, you may have to do some of the prep.   But the students also learn cutting, gluing, following directions, and design. The craftivity benefits the fine motor skill practice and the choices students make as he/she creates.
  4. Craftivities offer a student an opportunity to create a product.  All students are successful and the product is also displayed, shared and admired by a diverse audience, the parents and students at the school.
  5. Students and families prize craftivities for years to come.
Now that I have you all pumped up to do craftivities let's have a giveaway.  Jennifer sells the craftivities shown in the video in her Teachers Pay Teachers store, and she is generously giving you a chance to win a craftivity bundle!
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I love hearing from you!!!!  Don't be a quiet lurker.  I seeeeee you.  ; ) Participate! Let's get to know each other and be virtual teaching friends.

Which of the crafts that Jennifer showed in the video are you swooning over the most?   Leave me a comment below.  

Sending you love and happiness,


Friday, October 10, 2014

FOUR No Cost, Under-an-Hour Teacher Halloween Costumes

It is that October dreaded feeling.  The students may have already started asking and guessing.

What will you be for Halloween this year? 

Like me, you probably think creating a costume is too complicated.  I end up avoiding costume decisions until the night before the Halloween parade at school.

Parent conferences? Organized. Report cards? Done. Halloween Costumes? I take the fly by the seat of my pants approach.   

Come on.  How about we try things differently this year.  

Let’s do Home-Made Halloween Costumes the no cost and done in less than an hour way.

Costumes must be-----

Comfortable to wear
Make students happy
Easy to assemble
AND Do Not have to be perfect

All made with things you have in your closet, in your garage, and with your office supplies.

Secret #1   Keep the Costume Simple

Secret  #2  An all black outfit is your costume canvas

Secret  #3  Use masking tape, safety pins, magazine pictures, construction paper, a hot glue gun

Secret  #4  Students add to your costume or interact with your costume   
                        -Students add word cards to the word wall
                       -Students find the pictures on the I Spy costume or the students could               
                        make the pictures that are on your I Spy list. 

Now you have the secrets for easy, cheap costumes, and are starting to get in the Halloween Spirit.  

Maybe just a little?  

I guarantee putting a costume on will boost your spirits.  How do I know?  It worked for me.

The years when I was most burned out and feeling overworked, I didn’t dress up and honestly wished I had worn a costume.  Stepping away from the stress and papers and putting my focus into a costume may have snapped me out of it.  A priority reset.

When all is said and done and your costume is put together, your students will remember YOU!  They won't remember the intricacies or your costume but they will go home with a huge Halloween grin.   


Do the Halloween Shuffle----- Walk to the closet and put on your black tights, black hat and black shirt .  Slap some things together, as I like to say, and just have FUN!

Leave a comment below and tell me about your favorite Halloween costume!  I can't wait to see you below in the comments.

Sending you love and happiness,


Friday, October 3, 2014

Behind The SLANT BOX Scenes and Math Talk With Jameson from Lessons With Coffee: Radio Episode #06

She is quirky, authentic, has great fashion sense and she tells it like it is.  Enter Jameson from the blog Lessons With Coffee.  I was lucky enough to interview Jameson for the latest Sheila Jane Teaching radio show.

I never thought I would talk to a teacher that made teaching middle school math sound fun to teach.

 It was in middle school that Jameson received the help she needed to succeed with math.  Her special teacher in middle school used colors, graphing paper, and praised the small things to help Jameson line up numbers, and the colors helped Jameson to emphasize the steps in the algorithm.

Jameson is naturally sensitive to the needs of the struggling math students.  Fortunately she was open to teaching math when offered the assignment.  NOW she shares her special ways to meet the needs of all math students. Jameson stresses the importance of giving students choice when solving problems.  She advocates note taking, interactive notebooks, test taking strategies, visiting teachers and checking out teacher blogs; those who teach grades below and grades above.

Check Out Education Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Sheila Jane Teaching on BlogTalkRadio
Jameson is also sensitive to the needs of new teachers, teachers who feel isolated and alone.

Her first year of teaching she decided to reach out to a mom's group that did exchange boxes.  She built a friendship with another person and liked the experience, so soon Jameson created SLANT boxes for teachers.

You may feel alone and not getting the TLC you need in your department, grade level, or school district.  Don't fret; Jameson assures us the SLANT box could serve you well.  400+ teachers have connected through her system.  She pairs up two teachers, provides a monthly theme, and next thing you know you have a teacher who appreciates you, and you are so happy to have a teacher friend who wants to understand your teaching context.  All parties benefit.

Jameson is Amazing; Listen to the Interview ---- teaching strategies, teacher out reach and best of all teacher match maker!!!!

I want to hear from you!  Do you belong to any monthly subscription box services?  Which ones?  I can't wait to read your comments.

Thank you for listening to the show.

Sending you love and happiness,


Friday, September 26, 2014

breathe. Reboot. CELEBRATE! September Vlog and FREEBIE!

Do you ever need to reboot?

When the weather stays at a constant state of hot and sticky, month after month, it is hard to reboot.  When the Back To School overwhelm sets in and everyone wishes they had more summer there is no time for rebooting.

I see the signs of fall.  It is creeping in.  The grape harvest has started for Mr. Winemaker.    If I really listen carefully the wind rustles the leaves whispering... Reboot, Sheila.  Time to reboot.

I listen.  This is my favorite time of year.

Summer is blindingly bright.  I love the transition.  Fall is watercolors.  Rich and earthy.  Yummy smells.  The anticipation of the holidays coming is everywhere.  Snuggling under a blanket.  Lighting candles. I am ready for everything fall offers.

Last weekend I pulled out my large, orange Halloween bin from the garage.   We recently moved in to a new house.  I enjoyed the challenge of finding new places for my special spooky decor.

My pumpkin candle is lit, and candy corn is at the ready.  Rebooting in progress.

The Sheila Jane Teaching YouTube channel is getting a reboot as well.

Each week I post free teaching content----  Radio shows---- Teachers We Love videos----  Free content just for you.

Teach Happy. Live Happy. Be Happy. is integral to the Sheila Jane teaching philosophy.  Most videos on my channel focus on Teaching Happy.

To live and be happy is just as important as teaching happy.  The last Friday of each month will be a celebration of teacher life balance.  I will vlog (think video meets blogging) my interests like  makeup, decor, adventures, cooking.  I am bursting at the seams to let you into my home, my life and share some of my passions.


In addition to the vlog, there will always be a end of the month freebie surprise waiting for you. A treat to celebrate the end of a successful month of teaching.  This month's freebie is 'The Classroom Guestbook.'  Watch the video to see the freebie in action.

After you have watched the video, I would love to know what is your favorite Halloween candy?

Leave me a comment below.  Like a kid anticipating a pillow case full of Halloween candy I look forward to reading and replying to the comment treats you leave for me.

I hope as the season changes from summer to fall you get a chance to reflect and reboot.  Take care of yourself and pamper yourself.  You made it through Back To School, and you deserve to unwind a bit.  Reconnect with your passions.  Get out in nature.  Put the school work down.  It will be there tomorrow.  Your happiness is top priority.

Breathe and reboot.

Love and happiness,

Friday, September 19, 2014

A How To Guide To Interactive Notebooks with Angie Olson a Teacher We Love

GUEST BLOGGER: Angie Olson From Lucky Little Learners

What happens when you take a passionate Minnesota teacher who loves creating and using interactive math notebooks and combine her with a California teacher who is full of humor and amazing energy?  You get a beautiful collaboration opportunity!

Sheila from Sprinkle Teaching Magic interviewed me for her Teachers We Love You Tube series and I will admit that I was scared out of my mind!  Put me in front of a room full of 2nd graders and I can be goofy and teach my heart out without any worry or nerves but put a video camera in front of me for my peers and I just may feel like I need to vomit!  I will say that Sheila made me feel very comfortable and after just a few minutes, I felt like I was just chatting with a good friend!  I am so honored that she asked me to be interviewed.  She has interviewed Greg Smedley from Kindergarten Smorgasboard, Amanda Nickerson from One Extra Degree, Christina DeCarbo from Sugar and Spice, need I say more????  Do you follow her You Tube channel because seriously, you don't want to miss out!  She has some great videos on Classroom Decorations, Classroom Tours, Organizing Student Work, and more!

Here is the interview that she did with me on Interactive Math Notebooks.  I hope that after watching this, you can take away a tip or two that you can bring into your classroom.  Please be kind, I've never done an interview like this so I will be the first to admit that I am no pro!  I just like to help other teachers and share ideas!!
Like I've said before, I love to collaborate with other teachers and so Sheila and I have decided to host a HUGE GIVEAWAY!  We are taking every single Interactive Math Notebook that I have created and giving away one copy of each to one lucky winner!  Yes, that's right!  Over 250 pages of interactive math notebook resources my friends!  Make sure to enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance to scoop these up for your classroom!!!

Before entering the Rafflecopter, here are just a few sneak peeks at some of the interactive activities that will be included in this giveaway!

Alright, what are you waiting for?  Good luck to you!  I'd love to hear what you think of the interview!  What stands out to you?  What did you take away?  Do you have any additional tips and tricks to add?  I can't wait to hear from you!!!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, September 12, 2014

When Your Arm Doesn't Reach That Far: Photo Booth 101

Position the cell phone.  Snap a pic. I can take a better picture than that.

Reposition the cell phone. 10 more not quite right pictures. Ugh.  My arm is tired.  If only my arm could reach farther!

Now, will my finger be able to press the photo button without the phone falling?

Selfies are a lot of work for a very doctored "natural" photo.

We all deserve a candid photo showcasing our most photogenic self.  

A few years ago, at my cousin's wedding, I was introduced to the wedding 'photo booth' craze.

There were a variety of props, outfits, and signs to choose from.

No picture pressure. Everyone dressed up and looked rediculous.  My cheeks hurt from laughing.

I was hooked.

When these pictures surfaced on Facebook, my first reaction was to shield my eyes.  Surely, I showed too much teeth and looked a hot mess.

The pictures were amazing.  Hello, new Facebook profile picture! The camera had captured my authentic personality.

Photo Booth pictures work.

How could I use the photo booth idea in my classroom?

The first week of school I was the fun and cool teacher.  I had my photo booth bin and makeshift fabric background and the students ate it up.

The photo booth bin is now my beginning of the school year ice breaker activity. Student personalities shine through, we laugh a lot, and I get compliments on the photos year round.

In today's Teach Happy Friday Fun episode I help bring photo booth magic to your classroom.

Get ready to see your students in a whole new light!

Watch The Video Below! 


In the comments below I want to get to know and hear from you.

Fall is just around the corner.

What is your favorite fall food?

Thank you for watching and I can't wait to read and reply to your comments!

Remember to Teach Happy * Live Happy * Be Happy!


Sheila Jane

P.S. Stay tuned next Friday 9/19. I have a special 'Teachers We Love' interview with Angie Olson from Lucky Little Learners.  She is going to teach you the ins and out of Interactive Notebooks.  You don't want to miss it!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Using Technology Will Not Give You Typhoid: Podcast Episode #5 with Brittany Banister

Check Out Education Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Sheila Jane Teaching on BlogTalkRadio

Have you ever felt behind the times or out of the loop when it comes to technology?  

You are not alone.  Technology is taking over our lives whether we want it to or not.    

As teachers, navigating the world of technology can seem daunting. iPad, Smart Board, Google Docs, QR codes, to tweet or not to tweet; we are left confused. 

Students are born speaking tech.  This new language allows 4 years olds to navigate a iPhone or iPad like they had one in the womb. Our sweet, little, innocent, kinder cuties know about hashtags.  #watchout  

Some schools are cutting edge and some are behind the times.  

Learn a tech skill in one school year, and the next year it is out of date.  I can barely keep up with the daily software updates on my little needy laptop.    

Remember the days when computers were just big, slow, clunky boxes?

In 5th grade, Apple Computer donated 30 computers to my school.  The only thing we used the computers for was to play Oregon Trail, of course.  Dysentary. Typhoid. Watch out for those snakes that just jump out and bite you!

Technology has come a long way. 

Many teachers argue that technology is the future of education, and technology impacts education in a positive way.

Brittany Banister, from Mrs. Banister's kindergarten, is a tech advocate. I must say.  If she can make technology work in a classroom full of kindergarteners then we should stop and take note.  

In today's podcast, Brittany shares how she uses technology in her classroom, how we can effectively use it in ours, and how tech can really provide a positive impact for student learning. 

Tweet It Out Teachers! Tweet: The biggest shift for educators using technology is not skill set; it's mindset." George Curous @sheilajteaching #edchat

Here is a list of Brittany's favorite Links:
*Two Techie Teachers --A joint blog I do with my best friend.  This is a work in progress, but we love sharing our knowledge!
* --GREAT resource for primary teachers!
*Buck Institute --The PBL guidebook
*Tech with Jen --She has a lot of great tech related products.  Her reading interactive notebooks are fantastic!
*I Teach with iPads --She's the real deal!
*Kleinspiration --Another great edTech resource!
I want to hear from you!   Leave a comment below and tell me:

What technology do you use the most? In your classroom? At home?  An app. Kitchen appliance?  

 I want to know.

Thank you for listening, commenting, and sharing this podcast with your friends.  You are an amazing teacher that deserves to teach happy, live happy, and be happy.


Sheila Jane