Inside Recess: Weather and Spring Theme

Melting snow and slush followed by spring showers means it is time for mud season.  It also means you are at your wit's end when it comes to activities for inside recess, right? Would you like to try something new, that will hold your students' attention and keep them quiet at the same time?  

My students have always loved to paint with water colors. Integrate science with this activity by playing weather sounds while your students paint.  Tell them to paint what they are visualizing in their mind when they hear the music.  Below are some videos you can use.

Click HERE for rainy sounds video.

Click HERE for wind sounds video.

Click HERE for bird sounds video.

Management tips:
  • Ahead of time get a pitcher of water.  Get two pitchers if you have a large class.

  • Have one volunteer pass out paper to the class.  I like to use white construction paper.  I usually cut the large sheet of paper in half.
  • Tell your students to write their names on their paper and then turn the paper over.   Their name will be on the back of the painting.
  • Have another volunteer pass out a cup or bowl that will be used for water.  I usually put one between every two students.
  • Have another volunteer pass out a paper towel.  Give one to each student.  Some students like to dry their brush after dipping it in the water.
  • Tell your students to get out their water colors.  Make sure everyone has a brush.  I usually purchase a packet of brushes at Dollar Tree in case someone has lost their brush.
  • Once everyone is ready, I explain the directions for today's activity (listening to the video and painting what they visualize).  Students are not allowed to talk during this activity because everyone needs to be allowed to hear the video and let their creative juices flow.  :)
  • I also tell them that they only get one piece of paper. They need to take their time and do their best.  When they finish, they will sit quietly until the painting time is over.
  • When everyone is ready and understand the expectations and directions, I pour a small amount of water in the bowl or cup.
Sometimes they paint while I play music.  When I do this, I have them fold their paper so it has 4 rectangles.  I play 4 different types of music.  They paint in different squares when I change music.  This is great activity to hang up on your bulletin board.  I love all of the colors and designs. 
What do you do for inside recess?

Be sure and check out my Brain Break Pinterest board for ideas that you can use when your students need to get up and move. Click on the picture below.

Fern has a few tips to share with you, too.  Hop over to her blog!

Each week, Fern and I will share a teacher tip. We love to read teacher blogs and the latest teacher idea books and hope you do, too!  Stop by Fern's blog and my blog each week for our latest tips.  We hope you will share your ideas, too.  

Looking for more ideas?  Click on the pictures below.

Sources to make my blog post graphics can be found HERE. Click HERE to read my blog's disclosure statement.

Tax Time for Bloggers

It is tax time.  Do you feel the need to fortify yourself with Tylenol, chocolate, or Starbucks before you can face the paperwork?  Are you a blogger and teacher who sells lessons on TPT?  I have been selling lessons on TPT for several years now and have learned a few things that make tax season a little less stressful.

The paperwork side of being a seller-blogger is much like the paperwork side of being a teacher.  As a teacher, it took me a few years to learn a system that worked best for me.  You need a system in place for this job, too.  Trust me, you do not want to throw your receipts in a box and not look at them until April 1st.  That would be like a teacher waiting until the week before report cards are due to grade a semester's worth of homework.  Mistake . . . BIG MISTAKE!

Please remember, I am not a tax professional.  You should consult a tax professional for advice. These are ideas that I have found over time that worked for me.  


I don't know if you have been a victim of identity theft, but I have . . . TWICE! Yes, that's right, it has happened to my husband and me two times.  It is a very miserable experience.  The first time, our bank account was frozen for 12 days until the investigation was over.  The second time, we had Lifelock so it was a much shorter process.  I am very hesitant to give out personal identifying information because of this experience.  When you do business as a blogger, like sign up for Google Adsense, you have to provide either your social security number or Federal Tax ID- EIN (Employer Tax Identification Number).  I recommend getting a EIN so you don't have to give your social security number.  Click HERE to apply for an EIN.


It is less complicated if you set up a separate bank account for your business.  I met with a Business Banker who walked me through all of the steps.  I have a checking account, savings account, and credit card.  I purchase all of my supplies for my business with my business credit card.  I downloaded my expense report from my credit card at the end of the year and saw my spending for the year divided by different categories.  Since I use only one card to purchase everything, it is easy to match receipts each month with my statement.  


I have been pinning posts with tax tips on my latest Pinterest boards.  You can find more ideas there.


Here's the thing . . . I like the creative side of being a TPT seller but I really don't like the business side of it - AT ALL! Most of the time when my husband ask me how much is in my business checking or savings account, I have to log in to my account and look.  I would rather just create lessons and write blog posts.  I love creating lessons and the thought that I am hopefully helping another teacher out there.  

You wouldn't keep your teaching job for very long, if you only taught your students and refused to grade papers. This business is the same way. I knew I had to do the number crunching side of it.  But, the traditional ways of keeping tracking of all of the numbers stuff was boring and dull. These systems did not motivate me at all. Do you feel the same way?  Do you need a system that still keeps track of the information that is required yet has a little pizzazz? 

You will save valuable time, hassle, and stress if you will organize a tax tub.  I'm sure you have organized a sub tub so you are experienced!  Keep everything that you need in this tub - including the pen, calculator, and any other tools that you use.

Through the years, I have misplaced many things that have fallen out of traditional folders.  For something as important as your business paperwork, I recommend splurging on pocket folders.  It is worth the extra expense.

I love, love, love Pilot FriXion erasable pens.  They erase cleanly and are wonderful to write with.

I am now adding all of these tax documentation forms to my TPT store in case you would like to use the same system.  I have been tweaking my forms this past week to make it user friendly to others.  I included an editable file so you can personalize it to fit your needs. 

You can set up this system in a 3-ring binder or bind it in a book.  I did a test run at Staples so I would understand what is involved with binding a book.  I included directions in case you choose the book method.

There are different covers in the editable file so you can personalize yours.  There are covers with girl clipart, boy clipart, and covers without children.

As a teacher, I looking for patterns and progress was motivating and made me effective.  These same skills are useful as a blogger-seller. The Monthly Totals page makes it easy to see patterns.  
  • Am I spending more on ads this month?  If so, look at my income this month.  Do I see a difference?
  • I highlight the box in the Commission and Fees column when I need to pay something that month.  It is a good  reminder.  You know teachers, we're all about visual cues!
Click HERE to download this freebie.

I included a Site Wide Sales chart with this packet.  This isn't something that the IRS will want to see if you are audited.  It goes along with my looking-for-progress-and-patterns thing that carried over from teaching.  As you know, teaching can be a stressful job.  There are times when you may have gotten a less-than-pleasant email from a parent, stern chat from your administrator, or run in with a colleague and feel out of sorts.  It helps to look over your charts and see how much growth your students have made this year. Your instruction has made a difference in your students' lives.  

These charts can work the same way for blogger-sellers. There are days when you get less-than-pleasant feedback on something that you put your heart into.  For whatever reason, your buyer didn't see its value.  Or maybe you are getting discouraged.  It seems like EVERYONE but you has had so much success.  Why hasn't it happened to you? Use these documents to give your encouragement.

For each section, there is a colorful and black & white divider.  There is a monthly page to document your income.  It is also included in the editable file.

There is a monthly overview section of business expenses so you can see an overview of your expenses.

Each type of expense has a divider and monthly overview chart.  The Auto & Mileage section has two additional pages.  There is a chart to write down the places that you visit for business frequently.  Write down the distance to those stores.  Use this as a reference for future mileage reports.  There is also a chart to document auto expenses.

The travel section has an extra page.  Document your business expenses on this chart when you go on a trip.  If you are going to the TPT Conference you will want to earmark this section.

Does this sound like something you would like to try?  If so, click on the picture below.

Click HERE to check this out.

Sources to make my blog post graphics can be found HERE. Click HERE to read my blog's disclosure statement.

Math Videos - FREE membership

Do you plan for reading AND math groups?  If so, you are probably looking new resources.  Resources that are organized by grade level and available at your fingertips would be ideal, right?  If this sounds familiar, you are in luck!  

Common Core 4 Kids now has a YouTube channel.  My followers are in for a special treat!  All teachers, schools, or parents that sign up before April 30th get a FREE one year membership.  Here's a sneak peek of a few of the videos available on this channel:

This is a school friendly site! There are no ads so this can easily be played in schools without being blocked.  

Set this up as station to add a tech component to your plans.  Or you can show the videos whole group to introduce the topic.

Click HERE to sign up today so you can get your FREE membership.  Don't forget to tell your friends about this offer!

This is a sponsored post.  
Click HERE to read my blog's disclosure statement.
Sources to make my blog post graphics can be found HERE.

Brain Breaks with an Easter Twist

Have your students caught spring fever yet?  Symptoms include wiggles, incomplete work, and frequent tattles.  If so, it is time to incorporate more brain breaks in your day. Movement helps cure spring fever.

Want to add an Easter twist to your brain breaks?  You can write down the activities that you currently do on pieces of paper and put these in plastic Easter eggs.  I just added a new FREE packet that includes Easter themed ideas that you can print, cut apart, and put in eggs.
Click HERE to download this freebie.

You can also put objects in an egg like the ones in the picture at the top of this post. Ask your students if they can figure out what the activity is based on what is inside the egg.  The free packet includes directions for the objects in the picture at the top of this post.

Your students will play Monkey see-monkey do like Simon Says.  Challenge the leader to give directions that are seasonally themed.

The red and green fuzzy represents the game stoplight.  Directions are included with the freebie packet.

Put googly eyes in your eggs and have your students play eye spy.  I have a couple of posts that give other suggestions for fun activities.

Be sure and check out my Brain Break Pinterest board for more "cures". Click on the picture below.

Do you have extra eggs?  I also have a FREE behavior incentive idea that uses plastic eggs.

Click HERE to visit my store.

Fern has a few tips to share with you, too.  Hop over to her blog!

Each week, Fern and I will share a teacher tip. We love to read teacher blogs and the latest teacher idea books and hope you do, too!  Stop by Fern's blog and my blog each week for our latest tips.  We hope you will share your ideas, too.  

Looking for more ideas?  Click on the pictures below.

Sources to make my blog post graphics can be found HERE. Click HERE to read my blog's disclosure statement.

Dibels Prep & Early Finishers: Reading Fluency

When your schedule is tight, it seems like fluency is one of the components of reading that suffers the most. This is sad because limited fluency skills have long term consequences.

A couple of years ago, I was fortunate to teach in a district that hired a reading consultant that met with my grade level several times a year. We discussed the reading progress of our students. Dibels was one of the scores we discussed. She told us something interesting that really brought home to me the power of a true balanced literacy program. She said there are typically 3 times that new students are added to the reading specialist schedule.

1ST GRADE: Students who lack phonemic awareness and phonics skills are referred for extra support.
3RD GRADE: A new group show up on the horizon when students are introduced to academic language in 3rd grade. These students lack phonics skills needed to decode the more academic language. These students were often early readers. Many learned to read before entering school. They are often sight word readers, but have limited phonics skills. As you can imagine, when the 3rd grade teacher tells the parent of an early reader that their child needs additional support in reading, there are looks of disbelief from the parents. Some parents feel this is more of a problem with the teacher's instruction than their child's reading skills.
MIDDLE SCHOOL: The last "new crop" of students occurs when a student enters middle school. These students can usually decode and comprehend the meaning of words, but their fluency rate is very low. Middle school students are expected to read vast amounts of material in a short period of time, so even though they can read and comprehend the words, they fall behind in their studies.

The bottom line is a quality program needs balance. Where do you find more time in an already hectic day? My answer was to work smarter. We incorporated some fluency activities during our reading group lessons and added a fluency center and file folder games. My students' fluency rate improved when I became more balanced in my approach to reading.
I made a fluency activity called Sentence Shuffles in reading levels K-5 because as you know, in any class you will have students reading above, below, and on grade level. We need a wide variety of levels at our fingertips that are ready to go.

This can be set up as a center or as a folder game. I personally prefer to set this up as folder games so it can be used as a early finisher activity. Plus, you never know when you might be moved to a small classroom. Folder games work much better in small classrooms.
This is a sneak peek of my Easter Sentence Shuffle folder. I use a 3 prong folder with 1 page protector and a binder divider with pockets. I keep the word cards in the page protector and copies of the writing assignments in the binder divider.
There are 2 different versions of the word cards. One is black and white which is ink friendly. I still like for my stuff to be colorful so I print it on colorful paper. It only uses 6 sheets of colorful paper. Or there is a colorful version which has a different colored frame around the words.

Students shuffle the cards and sort them into piles. They will sort by color in the colorful version of the game and sort by pattern of the frame around the phrases in the black and white version. Students will put the cards on the sorting sheet. There is a colorful sorting sheet and black & white sorting sheet.

Students will practice making sentence that are real and nonsense. This is also a great center to reinforce sentence formation because students quickly figure out that the card with the capital letter is always first and the card that ends with a period, question mark, or exclamation mark is the last card. Not only are they strengthening their fluency skills, but they working on writing skills, too.

Add a few tools like the ones in the picture to make it fun. Students put a red puff ball on the punctuation mark and a green puff ball on the capital letter at the beginning of the sentence.
After students finish making and reading sentences at the Sentence Shuffle Center, they will complete a writing extension. There are 3 assignments to choose from so you can differentiate the center.

Do your students forget important details like punctuation marks and capital letters? Let them use a BINGO dauber to stamp the beginning letter with green and the ending punctuation mark with red.
There is also an Easter mini-book included. To save time, let your students make the mini-book during center time. It is an easy center to set up. All you need are book printables, crayons, scissors, pencil, and stapler.
There are also 3 printables that you can use with your interactive journal notebooks. The beginning, middle, end can be used with any book about rabbits or Easter. You can also set this up as a book center. There is a rabbit fact printable. Perfect extension after you do a fact vs. opinion mini-lesson. Students will strengthen their writing skills with the Easter vocabulary - Super Sentences assignment.

Click HERE if you'd like to read more about this.

Sources to make my blog post graphics can be found HERE. Click HERE to read my blog's disclosure statement.

Find Your Pot of Gold Giveaway

Spring is just around the corner!  That means it is time to plan for all of the fun spring themed units. My friend, Fern and I thought it would be helpful to start off your spring planning with a $50 shopping trip.  The lucky winner can choose $25 of lessons from Fern's TPT store and $25 from my store.

Fern will choose a winner from the entries on her blog and I will choose a winner from the entries on my blog.  Enter on both blogs and increase your chances of winning!

Here are a few of our spring themed lessons you might want to check out:

Listen & Draw: Spring Morning Messages:April Spring Fluency Center
Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas Easter Arrays Concentration, Go Fish & Old Maid Center Games Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas Easter Fraction Benchmark Center Game The Biggest Easter Basket Ever Writing Center
Easter Arrays Concentration, Go Fish & Old Maid Center Games Easter Fraction Benchmarks Center Game The Biggest Easter Basket Ever Writing Center

I have some freebies that you can include with your plans.  Click on the pictures below:

FREE: Color by Code: 
Addition & Subtraction
FREE: Earth Day
Task Cards
FREE: Listen & Draw
FREE: Figurative Language FREE: Rhyming - Fun with the Cat FREE: Reading Highway - Reading Log

The winners will be announced on our Facebook pages on Saturday, March 21st.  Make sure you follow our Facebook pages!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sources to make my blog post graphics can be found HERE. Click HERE to read my blog's disclosure statement.

Listen & Draw: Spring, Earth Day, Easter, Weather and FREEBIE

Listening skills are so important!  Before you can effectively teach procedures and academic skills, your students need to listen and attend to what you are saying. Spring themed listening skills activities called "Listen and Draw" are included in this latest edition. 


I recommend doing this as a teacher directed activity in the beginning.  You may want to introduce this in a small group setting if your class has a wide range of abilities.  You can give different groups different expectations for the writing assignment portion of the activity.  There is an extra writing page included for your students who are ready to write a paragraph or story about the picture.


Once your students are comfortable with the format, you can record the directions or ask a parent volunteer to do it for you.  Or ask the drama department at your local middle school or high school if there is a student who is interested in doing this for you.  Students are often looking for community service opportunities.

After each step, either pause to give students time to do the work or use some type of noise maker like a bell or xylophone.  Tell your students to push the “stop” button when he/she hears the sound.  Push the “go” button after he/she follows the directions and is ready for the next step.  


This can be used many different ways.  
WRITING CENTER: Record the directions and set it up as a center.
EMERGENCY SUB PLANS:  Great activity for your sub.
R.T.I. DOCUMENTATION:  Great way to show proof of listening skills growth over time for R.T.I.
INSIDE RECESS - FRIDAY FUN DAY:  Students will love the art part of these activities.  You will love the fact that your students are quiet so they can listen to the directions.

This packet includes 
12 Listen and Draw activities with a spring theme.  For each activity there is:
-Teacher direction page
-Blackline student page

-Colorful page showing what the art portion of the listening activity could look like.  Art work answers may vary.

Here is a sneak peek at a few of the pages:

Weather is often taught in the spring.  Use this activity to extend your science lesson.

Spring time means it is time for Little League.  This baseball theme lesson the perfect spring time lesson.

This plant themed assignment will enrich your science lessons.

Easter is right around the corner.  You can use this to prepare your students for tests because students need good listening skills in order to do well on the test.

Add this Earth Day listen and draw activity to your lesson plans.  It is a great extension.

Click HERE if you'd like to see more.

Would you like to try a FREE sample?  Click on the picture below.