Whew!  I finally finished the most recent addition to my Teachers Pay Teachers store, Rainbow Phrases!  I am super excited to share them with you today.  First, a bit of background...

Y'all know I was a Literacy Specialist for years in my district, and I use this system (though it din't look so pretty then!) with my kiddos in grades 2-5 who needed fluency interventions and already knew their sight words.  Teachers in my district have been using Rainbow Words extensively for years, and I thought that Rainbow Phrases were the next logical step.

My at-risk kiddos loved these!  They each got a "book ring" with their phrases on them, and as they passed each "level" they received more phrases in another color.  The parents (who were typically the ones who weren't sure how to help their child at home) raved about how easy it was to help their child learn their phrases at home.  Then I moved back into the classroom, and these fell by the wayside as I was inundated with the everyday challenges facing classroom teachers... y'all know what I mean!  ;)

Last year, I had a 1st grader who came to my classroom several days per week, as she had mastered all of the Rainbow Words, but needed help with fluency and comprehension.  To help her comprehension, I used many resources, including my Higher Level Thinking Questions for Reading Comprehension.  For her fluency, I swept the dust from my Rainbow Phrases, and we were off!  One of my students saw the rings, and asked if he could use them, too.  Um, yeah.  Sure!  Since then, I've been using this in my own classroom with students struggling with fluency in addition with my regular fluency practice, which I always try to make as fun as possible.

Over the past month, I've spent tons of time (just ask my hubby!!) making this look suitably fancy for teachers to use from Teachers Pay Teachers.  I hope you enjoy how easy it is to use!

I am a part of a giveaway by Jessica at Second Grade Nest!  Go visit her blog to enter; there are a ton of great prizes to be won.  :)  May the odds be ever in your favor!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~2nd Squirrel!!~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
You've still got a few days left to enter the Samson's Classroom Giveaway!  Have you entered?
As a teacher, y'all know I'm kinda broke, and you may have figured out by now that I love, love, love anything that helps my kiddos with reading, so this was a fabulous opportunity for me!!  The day after Samson's marketing director contacted me, I had access to this incredible reading resource!  Since then, I have had an opportunity to explore this on-line reading software resource with my students and with my own green beans at home.

Here are the highlights of this program and then I have an incredible giveaway for you!

First, Samson's Classroom  offers three different products in their package:  Sight Words, Spelling, and Reading.  All are for learners from kindergarten to grade 5.

Sight Words: This part of the program offers 224 commonly used words.  I plan to use this with targeted 2nd graders, as many of my kiddos already know their sight words. There are five different activities:  learn the words, build words, identify words, spell the words, and find the missing words.  I like the progression of the activities and how the student hears and gets to use the words in context.

Spelling:  This is pretty cool!  At the beginning of the week, I can add my spelling words to the program.  Then, throughout the week, we can take a few minutes to play games to review the words.  There is a Study Zone, Karate Chop, Spelling Scramble, and Wally the Walrus.  My daughter loves the Karate Chop game, and I love that she is practicing her Spelling skills!  

Reading:  This part of the program includes leveled reading passages and comprehension questions that promote critical thinking.  The activity is timed so at the end, the student and the teacher can see how long it took the child tocomplete the activity.  I have used this exclusively with the students I tutorafter school.  Sometimes we read the passage together and other times they read by themselves.  After a long day at school, they enjoy reading and answering questions on my Smart Board.
Why I'm Lovin' This Software:  
  •  The graphics and games are appealing and fun for students and theylove Samson, the mascot!
 Sight Words with Samson 2
  • You can customize the spelling words by creating word lists each week.
  • After you register your students, the program keeps a record of games and activities they played and their scores.
  • Activities can be played on an interactive white board or computer.
  • Students can use the program at home! Samson's even has customized letters for parents you can print out with their log in information.  I emailed the information to the parents, and have had a positive response, thanking me for this resources to support their child at home.
  • Students receive immediate feedback and praise as they play the games.
  • The software automatically updates so no new downloading is needed.
  • At the time of this review, the customer service was outstanding, should you have questions or need assistance.
By now, you all know how much I {heart} Vistaprint!  Today, I wanted to share another resource I use for printing in the classroom - Zazzle!  They always run great deals for business cards, mugs, t-shirts, etc.  If you sign up for a free account, they will send emails (just like Vistaprint) with deals.
A bit of advice: use a "throwaway" email account for the emails from both companies.  That way you just check it when you feel like shopping, and don't have clutter in your inbox.  My most recent email was $10 off any order of $10 or more!  Love it!!
~~~~~~~Back on Topic~~~~~~
Here are a few things I've created for my classroom with Zazzle.  Feel free to pin, or hop over to Zazzle and check them out yourself.
Skinny Business Cards make fantastic bookmarks!
You can even customize the back with no additional charge, and skinny cards come in a cute little plastic dispenser.
Assorted Business Card Designs for the classroom...

Congrats Card - Front
Congrats Card - Back

Daily 5 Bookmark - Front
Daily 5 Bookmark - Back
Getting close to Christmas around here...  I got a set of 100 of these gift tags, and they lasted us for 2 years!!  I just ordered more today!
Family Christmas Gift Tag - Front
Family Christmas Gift Tag - Back
 I've been tracked out for a while, but I'm going back tomorrow to move into my "new-to-me" classroom.  How many days do you have left until Christmas Break?

Omigoodness, y'all!   I know I've got some issues with my clipart addiction, as I'm looking for clipart instead of Christmas shopping!!  :)

I just had to share this very cool freebie I found from the blogger Crunchy With Ketchup.  {{Love the name!!}}  He is a self-proclaimed Monster Wrangler (5th grade teacher) who is sharing some of his cool clipart with the blogging community.  Go visit to snag this super-cute multicultural clipart.
Krista Walden has a fabulous set of Doodle Borders - love these!  I could use these borders on everything!! :)  

What fabulous freebies have you found lately?

I get asked this a bunch - "How did you add that cool link to your comment on my blog?"  Well, here's the trick...
(Doncha just love the graphics from The 3AM Teacher!?!)
Here's what it looks like when I leave a comment:

Here's the code:


Happy Blogging!!  :)
It's officially December, since Currently is here!!  I seem to be addicted to ellipses lately, so...

My family is amazing.  Right now my kiddos are running around giggling like mad.  It can mean they are playing... (fingers crossed) or they've just done something I'm not supposed to find out about...  I'll just believe they are giggling because they are playing!!  ;)

My awesome team mate, Casey, is the person who single-handedly saved me yesterday.  Thankfully, she planned an amazing afternoon of craftivities for our classes to do as we became "roomless" before dismissal.  {I work at a year-round school, and I had to move out to give the next teacher an afternoon to move her stuff in... make a seating chart... ya' know)  It was awesome!!  All activities came from the unit by MOM Printables.  I can't tell you how great it was to sit back and watch over 40 kiddos work away at this.  :)  Highly Recommended!!

I'm trying to think of some additional fun activities to do with my family this month... every year we do an activity advent calendar in our home, with some silly activities (dance to Christmas music!) and some service activities (buy gifts for a family in need) and some old favorites (drink hot chocolate and watch a Christmas movie).  Ideas, anyone?

Wanting - a new cell phone...  Specifically, an iPhone.  Issue - they are crazy expensive, and I'm kinda broke cheap frugal.  My phone still works fine.  Oh, well...  Maybe it'll stop working one day and I'll need a new phone.  What I really need right now is to spend some quality time with my neglected coupons, and save some money on the grocery bills.  (Maybe enough to justify a new phone...?)  What are y'all up to CuRrEnTly?
Truly, I have much to be thankful for.  I hope that you are able to enjoy time with your families this weekend, and remember how fortunate we all are in so many ways.
By the way, good news!!  I won Ms. Bainbridge's 2600 Follower "I'm Thankful for You!" giveaway.  Her products are amazing (as you all know!)  My absolute favorites?  Glad you asked.  :)

Partner Reading Comprehension Activity Pack {Partner Reading Party!}

Pet Shop Math 2nd Grade Common Core Center Set

Gobble, Gobble, y'all!

Have you heard?  There's some crazy shopping sales going on... and I'm participating!!

This post is a personal one for me.  Don't judge - it just makes me feel better to put it out there.  ;)

Some of y'all might know I'm a *bit* stressed crazy nuts stressed about report cards, assessments, Profile Cards that do not align with my county's pacing guide, developmental expectations being thrown out the window as I prepare 7 year olds for standardized testing (complete with bubbling), and tracking out of my classroom for the first time in years.  It's The Super Teacher Myth.

What isn't helping matters is my personal battle with depression.  I have been battling this illness since being diagnosed when I was 15.  Most days, I am fine, but during periods of high stress, it becomes unmanageable.  That's when I rely heavily on the village of support I have around me: family, friends, coworkers, my amazing therapists, my kids' teachers, strangers, etc.  We have more frozen meals, more cozy family time, and a messier house.  I am learning to accept that it is acceptable to work at 70% instead of 110%, but this is difficult for me, as I really want to climb into bed and work at 0% occasionally.

During this school year, I have made a conscious effort to remember my blessings and try to bring kindness into my everyday interactions with others.  This is difficult at times, as I have had interactions with other teachers where my personal battles became evident, and they have not been as understanding as I had hoped.  Luckily, this is the exception and not the rule at my school.  I am trying not to dwell on the things that make me stressed, but we all know that is easier said than done.

I'm not even sure why I'm sharing this with you, except that it feels a bit cathartic to put it out there that no one is perfect, and that everyone is fighting their personal battles, even if they present themselves as fine.  Some days, we feel as though we aren't making much of a difference, but it's important to remember that what we do is important.  Here's a much needed reminder:

Thanks for letting me ramble on.  :)
I was inspired to write this post after a chat with my buddy Casey, and we were talking about the way I use music in the classroom.  I have different music that goes with different moods/tasks.  For example:

For Writing, we listen to Enya.  Specifically, Watermark.  (Really, anything by Enya would probably accomplish the same thing.)  It's dreamy, new-agey background music, and my kiddos can still focus on their work.  I play it softly, and if our conferences are getting too loud, I simply ask someone at the other side of the room if they can still hear the music.  They stop and listen, then tell me they can't hear it.  That's the cue for the class to be quieter - they know if people can't hear the music, they can't have their calm, focused writing time.  Love it!!
Shepherd Moons

For Partner Work and Math, we listen to Vince Guaraldi.  This year, we're listening to Oh Good Grief!  My kiddos love it, and they recognize that this is "Charlie Brown" music.  :)  It's upbeat, jazzy, and still helps us modulate our voices so the class can hear the music!

For Rewards, we have a few favorites.  Our current favorite is the Super Mario Galaxy Official Soundtrack. My green beans this this is so cool, and I only find it mildly irritating, so it's really a win-win!  When they've had a great day, they'll ask if we can listen to "Mario Brothers."  Again, it helps with the voice levels in our classroom - see a pattern developing here?!?  :)

For Fun, Fluency, and Comprehension, we listen to Shel Silverstein.  I do adore some Shel Silverstein; note to new teachers who haven't learned this yet - don't let your kiddos just Google him.  Some of his work is inappropriate for young eyes/ears.  Both Where the Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic CDs are out of print, but you can still find used copies around with a bit of effort.  He performs his poems with such enthusiasm and voice, that it is a wonderful way to show how performers can create a mood with their voice.
A recent addition to our classroom collection is Fun, Foolery, and Folktales by Donna Washington.  I found this in my mailbox several weeks after she had visited our school, and played it for my kiddos.  They absolutely love the rhythm of her voice, and the different ways she uses her voice to represent different characters.  Only yesterday, when I was talking to Casey, she pointed out that it actually belongs to our grade level.  Oops!!  I really didn't mean to monopolize grade level materials, and I feel kinda bad about that.  I brought it home this weekend to make a backup copy, ya know, in case it gets scratched.  :)

What about in your classroom?  How does music play a role in your day?

Checked the calendar, and realized that I'm really late to Farley's Currently linky!!  Forgive me, y'all!!  It's been a madhouse insane cray cray a bit busy lately.  Here we go...
I'd really love to begin my Christmas shopping, but I need to show restraint until I have a bit of money set aside.  The haircut debate is always at the back of my mind.  It's shoulder length now, but I'd love to just chop it short and quit using the ponytail, 'cause I don't take the time to blow-dry, style, flat iron, etc.
Yes, I really, really need to be working on report cards, since I hand them out November 30!!  I've only got 12 student days left until track out.  Whoo-hoo!  Also, I'm only a few followers away from a personal goal of mine, and I'm planning a cool giveaway.  Check back later for more details! See you later, alligator!
My green beans have really been making me laugh lately...

Kiddo (with an apprehensive look): "What is Gooey Dance?"
Me: "I don't know.  What is Gooey Dance?"
Kiddo: "Mrs. Sykes, it says on the schedule we have Gooey Dance tomorrow.  I don't know how to Gooey Dance."
Me: "We are having a Guidance lesson tomorrow.  No worries!"  :)

Kiddo #1: "Do you know who you're going to vote for?"
Kiddo #2: "My dad said I should vote for Omaha {{Obama}}, but I don't know yet."
Kiddo #1: "You need to vote for Omaha if your dad says to.  He's probably right."
Kiddo #2: "I know, but the other guy is named Mitten.  That would be pretty cool."

Hope all's well with all of y'all, and the folks impacted from Hurricane Sandy can begin returning to a bit of normalcy soon - know that you're in our nation's thoughts.
Y'all know I have a huge crush on VistaPrint, right?!?  Check out my latest order...

My personalized 2 G flash drive

Magnetic Clip

Stress Ball - for a couple of ADHD kiddos
A measuring tape - since I can never find mine!

Grand total - 4 items, including shipping and tax...  $11.05 (I had 30% off from an email).  Absolutely love these!  If you are new to VistaPrint, be sure to click here to get a special discount using my code.  I haven't quite figured out how the code-thing works, but we can give it a shot.  :)  All of these items are located under Promotional Items, and prices are given for large quantities.  Click the item you want, and look for the words "Try a Personalized Sample" - only $7.99 for the flash drive.

I think I'll be picking up a few more as teacher gifts - what teacher doesn't love personalized stuff? What are you going to shop for?
Happy Monday, y'all!  Here's a quick "Mini-Pack" of 12 Task Cards, covering these ELA standards from CCSS:  RF.2.3a, RF.2.3d, RF.2.3f, L.2.4 a,L.2.4d, & L.2.4e.

Click the picture to download from TpT!

Also, I finished my Author's Purpose Task Cards for CCSS RI.2.6.  Click on the picture for more information...

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