Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Secret Santa Blog Hop with The Elementary Entourage

Hey everyone!! 
I hope everyone is having an AWESOME holiday!!  I know I am and I can't wait to get started!! My sweet blogging friend from the Elementary Entourage...Brittany over at Tickled Pink in Primary started it all with this awesome Secret Santa gift!!  I cannot wait to show you!!  

First of sweet hubs LOVES a package...I mean he LOVES a package!! He does not have the ability to NOT open it.  So when I got home my package was open...sorry Brittany.  BUT he did manage to leave the gift bag still in tact.  Ha!

Gift was still intact...I still cannot believe it was opened.

A card for me!!  (Did you all know my name is pronounced "Shauna" 
but spelled "Shana."?)

Um...yeah...definitely Friday night...this will be me folks!!!  Ha!!


AND I CAN'T WAIT TO FINISH MY FIRST PAGE...I will have to show you!!
Have you ever tried a grown-up coloring book?  

LOVE LOVE LOVE MY GIFT!!  Thank you so much, Brittany!!

That was so much fun!  I love hanging with my EE friends!!  Go give a shout out to Brittany over at Tinkled Pink in Primary!!  

You can head on over to my store and grab my Christmas in Italy for FREE! Check out my other ebooks!!  I was a world traveler this month with my students! You can be too! 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015


Hey y'all!  How are my sweet friends? 

I have joined I TEACH FIRST's monthly linky!!  We are here to share our ideas and tips on teaching! If you like what you see in this blog post, please follow me and follow all of my sweet blog buddies!  We would love for your to join us every month! 

I love the holidays every year.  I celebrate with my kids until I am "stick a fork in me...I am done!"  Since we celebrate the holidays in Germany, one of the craftivities that we do is gingerbread houses.  I know what you are thinking...WHY??  

Because gingerbread houses are fun!!  

It is truly pure joy for my firsties to decorate gingerbread houses. I do think they hum with merriment and joy. 

Now, I know it sounds like a crazy sugar-filled train-wreck BUT after 14 years of devious preventive planning...I think I have almost mastered the art of making gingerbread houses.  Ummm...probably not! 

However...I am going to tell you everything I know....all of my order from beginning to end.

My Gingerbread House Monologue
These are my exact words to my students right before we make our houses...
"We are not making food to eat.  This is a decoration to put on your table at home. It is not dinner. It is not a snack. If you sneak and eat things off of this gingerbread house, please do not ever tell me and it's probably not a good idea to tell your mother." 

But then they do. 

(Bleh.)  :P

Gingerbread House Making Tips!!

Tip One:  Students will need to save their milk cartons from the cafeteria which is really exciting for some reason?  :/  I am not sure why.  This is the base of the gingerbread house.  Doing it without a base can be frustrating and your gingerbread house breaks very easily. 

Tip Two:  Note to self:  You will need to do this at least three or four days before you actually decorate your gingerbread houses:  You must wash the cartons with soap and let them dry completely.  I even disinfect them with disinfectant.

Tip Three: Also, put plastic disposable plates on your purchase list. Plastic disposable plates work best as the base of the gingerbread house.  Let me say that plastic plates...not styrofoam or paper.  You will be glad you did. 

Tip Four: will need a hot glue gun, glue sticks, and possibly band-aids as well.  I always seem to walk away with a burn probably because my glue gun is called the Beast. 

Base and Carton Assembly

Step One:  After you wash and dry the milk cartons, have your cartons and plates ready.  Plug that glue gun in and make sure you have plenty of glue sticks!   Now, you are ready to build some houses!  

Step Two:  The lips of the carton will need to be glued together.  To do just need a small line of hot glue on the opening of the carton.  Press together carefully.    

No burns...yet.  

Step Three:  Now you will glue the base of the bottom of the milk carton to the plastic plate. 

Awesome hold! 

                  I glued the carton right smack in the middle of the plate.

I think it took me about 20 minutes to do 16 of my students gingerbread houses.   Yeah! 

Building the House!

 Now for the fun part!  Every house takes 6 graham cracker halves or three long crackers.  I use hot glue to glue the crackers to the milk carton. glue.  I know...but remember it is a decoration. 

(Long ago, I had the students "glue" their graham crackers to their cartons with icing.  But the crackers never even made it out my classroom door.  They would actually fall right off the carton and the entire thing would end up in the trash.)  

Here are the walls of the house being glued on!   


Notice the graham cracker are glued on near the top of the carton leaving space at the bottom.  This actually works better than gluing them to the bottom and leaving a space at the top.  Students can easily disguise the bottom with icing and candies.  


This part is a bit tricky.  You want to put hot glue on the edge of the carton and the top of the wall to attach the roof.  Can you see the dripping glue on the edges? You will want to be pretty generous here because it is an awkward position for the crackers but 80 percent of the time the crackers stay. Now carefully place your graham cracker halves.  

And the hard part is over! 

It probably took me about an hour to do my 16 houses.  That seems like a lot of time but you will be sooo glad you did.  ;)

More Gingerbread House Building Tips

 I have parents donate candies, cereals, chocolate chips, and marshmallows to decorate the house.  It is a big help to you and usually it's easy to get items donated because the students are way excited!  Here is the sheet we use! 

I put everything on a single plate for each group of three or four students and I give them one tub of white icing with a butter knife.  

Now it is go time.  And they do...for all of the trouble and craziness and prepared-ness???  It is actually a quiet time for the students.  They are focused and on task AND they are quietly eating the icing.  

Yes...they totally do it.  It is gross but you probably will not know because they can be quite sneaky, or you may choose not to know.  The latter is usually me.   

 I stay busy cleaning up and getting grocery/wally world bags ready.  Yep...just the good ol' plastic grocery bag.  It ties easily and makes the trip home a little easier for everyone.

Especially, for the houses that look like Mount Crumpet.  

 Clean-up is easy.  Once students are out the door, throw everything away.  Leave no sugar behind.  Wash the tables.  Disinfect with Lysol.  And you are finished and possibly the best gingerbread construction supervisor EVER! 

Here is the last bit of advice that I can give you.  Decorate the gingerbread houses, 30 to 45 minutes before the students go home.  You can use it as an incentive AND you really don't have any of the sugar craziness. <-- awesome perk.  


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Friday, October 16, 2015

Tricks and Treats Blog Hop

Trick or Treat!!!!  I am so excited to be hanging with you and The Elementary Entourage!  I sooo love Halloween.  You can be funny and crazy and eat lots of yummy chocolate and no one really judges you...uhhh hummm...unless you are in a costume contest. Haha!  : ) 

Randomness: LOOK at these "Halloween" cookies!!  Perfect if you are learning about spiders!!!

We are thrilled to give you some sneaky teacher tricks and a yummy treat, AND we hope you join us. The more? The scarier merrier!

I'm going to tell you about one trick that has helped me the most and if you are TYPE B like me...then you will totally get it.  My time management is not really my thing.  I know...I know. All teachers are supposed to be "spot on." But sometimes I am not.  I get lost in our lesson or our activity.  Or we innocently head into another direction because of our activity.  Sigh...

You know, it's not on purpose, and the job always gets done.  But sometimes you just have to be on time. trick this year has been to schedule every scheduled subject, and event into my phone.  I know it's not "acceptable" in all classes and schools to use your phone...BUT IT HAS HELPED ME SO MUCH!  It's not just a's been a treat!!!  Take a look at how I have set it up...

I keep my phone in a small hidden place and the ring is soft...almost like soft bells ringing.  My kids know a transition is happening and I DO, TOO!  I just simply press "OK" and we move on.  If you haven't set your phone up...try it!! YOU WILL LOVE IT! 

(I know my sweet Type A friends are like "Ummm...Shana? Hello?") is a treat just for you!! Just click here or on the picture above. Here are some of my L Ending Puzzles! These puzzles are wild!! Okay...not really wild!!  But they will make a great center to help your little ones learn!!  Please enjoy!  They will be free until November 1, 2015!!   Hoping you have a great and awesome Halloween!! 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Back to School Bash

Hey everyone!!   I hope you having a great start to the new year.  I know things are always a little crazy at the beginning of a new year. (People, I am feeling a little crazy myself!)  You're excited and nervous and your students are too!! 

And of course, you want everything to be just perfect!!   All of us at The Elementary Entourage are here to make your life a little bit easier. 

I have a couple of things to make your life easier for those first few weeks! 

Here are some of my favorite student information sheets!
Just click on the photo below.

You can also grab my Birthday Coupons!  They are great for those birthday bags or birthday treats! 

I hope you can use these freebies, cause I LOVE using them in my classroom.  I know they make things a little bit easier for me and a lot less crazy! 

Head on back to The Elementary Entourage to see what's happening next!!  

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Back to School Blog Hop

Hey everyone!!  

Can you believe it is Back to School already? I am so glad to be linking up with Tammy from The Owl Teacher!!!   She has an awesome giveaway that you have got to ENTER!!!!  And even though I was late to the party today... I feel like I am in beast PREPARE mode. 

I have a Back to School idea for you!!   
My Back to School idea is about student birthdays!!!  

One thing that I have found with student birthdays is that  
1) Birthdays are the most important day of the year in a kid's life besides Christmas.  
2)  If you do something with one student no matter what it is, you have to do it with the rest of the students.  They totally remember!!!!  

One thing that I am preparing for this year is BIRTHDAYS.  I don't go CUHRAZY for birthdays BUT we do do these three things:  We sing, "Happy Birthday," my students wear a cute little bulletin border crown, and they get a Birthday Bag.  

The Birthday Bag.

It's like a plastic baggie with a few sweet candies, a couple of cute pencils and some coupons.  BUT to my students its like PURE GOLD.  (So cute and so funny...I love how proud they are about it.)  

 (Don't laugh...its an older version of the birthday bag.)

So here is my hot mess... 

The office at my school calls out the birthdays of all our students every day, and when they call out your name, you get to go to the office to get your pencil and lollipop.  

It's GO TIME for me! 

NOW imagine whirlwind CUHRAZY ME trying to get everything together in five chaotic minutes...a crown, birthday pencils, coupons, erasers, and candy together in one little plastic bag for my little darling to surprise them as they come through the door and we sing "Happy Birthday!"  


I drove myself CUHRAZY because I didn't have my birthdays ducks in a row. That had to change. NOW?  Birthdays are a breeze!!  Now...I prepare all of my birthday bags at the beginning of the year!!!  And it has made my life a thousand times easier!! I simply have the crown ready to staple, and I go to my closet and put the Birthday Bag on my student's desk.  No hot mess or chaotic whirlwinds.  I have no stress, I am prepared, I have a procedure and a tradition that my kids expect and love. 

What do I do?  I buy enough pencils, erasers, and candies to do enough Birthday Bags for an entire class.  I go get erasers, pencils, prizes, candy, and coupons.  I simply sit and make them like I do treat bags. 

Now for the coupons!  You can use these cuties to put inside your bags.  Your students will love them!!  There is one to wish your student a happy birthday, one coupon for NO homework, and a free time coupon.  Cut and stick them in your Birthday Bags...easy-peasy and your birthdays are ready to celebrate!!!  (By the way, my kids LOVE iPad time for their free time it makes for a great birthday morning.)

Please click HERE to grab your free birthday coupons!

What do you do for your students' birthdays? 

Remember to enter the giveaway at The Owl Tree!!!  There are some awesome prizes to WIN and some fantastic blogs with freebies, ideas, and tips for you! 

Have a great year!!!  

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The giveaway!!   You can enter below or you can click on The Owl Teacher's button!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Sunday, August 2, 2015

WIN an iPad Air 2!!!!!

Hey Y'all!!
How are my favorite friends?  I am so excited to tell you all about our giveaway at iteachfirst!  Just for you, we are giving away an iPad Air 2, a case, AND an iTunes gift card!!!!!!!   (SO SO JELLY!)

I am so excited!!  Can you imagine getting a gift like that?

I have one iPad for all of my students and I use it all the time in small group, as a center, and as a reward.   There are soooo many apps out there! It can be daunting to find the perfect collection of apps for your students.  So I have made a list of my top 9 apps just for you.  In can actually see them on my phone...yes...I have minions on my phone....I can't help myself...BANANAS!!!  

Apps for you....

I love my camera at school!!  I use it all the time!!!  I take pictures of students to send to parents, pictures of work that we have done in our classroom, and pictures of my students as they work.  I don't just use it in the classroom but I also take pictures of ideas I see around me, student work that I need to keep in my records, parent notes that I might need later, or notes that we may bring up in our grade level meeting. I know that we all have that app but the use of an iPad or an iPhone camera in the classroom is definitely worth the mention.

Level It is the app I call on when I am leveling my books.  I have several leveling apps but this is the one that most likely has the level I need.  But you may use another one just like I use this one.  Hey...that's okay!  There are several out there to LOVE!!!

Also, Class Dojo is WONDERFUL.  (I wish there were caps on those caps!) My parents love it, my students love it, and I love it.  The thing that I love most is the cute little monsters....okay okay...that is true but what I really love is the fact that you can find patterns of behaviors and show parents that this particular behavior is a behavior issue or a great reason to go out for a Sonic shake.  

Another thing that I love is that I can record behaviors on my phone while in my reading groups, and it shows up on my Smartboard.  My students NOTICE that I NOTICE! When I see see good behavior and I record it, you can feel the pride, people, when they hear the ding and see their name.



Apps for reading...
Another favorite app of mine is Epic!!  Not only can you use this app on your iPad, but also on your laptop or computers.  It is fantastic to use for reading centers!! There are so many choices, students have their own profile, and the best thing about's FREE for teachers!  Remember to keep a file on books that you happen to find for free in the app store.  

Apps for writing and spelling...
Especially for the littles, apps like Little Spellers, Sight Words, and Little Writers are all great apps to help students learn how to write and identify words.  Little Writers is a tracing app that show students how to form their letters.  Sentence Maker helps students to form sentences.  

Ten Frame Fill

Apps for math....
Sushi Monster is a great app to practice addition and subtraction. One of my favorite apps to practice adding and subtracting with a tens frame is called Ten Frame Fill.  I love that is such a specific skill to practice and it's FREE!  Animal Math for First and Second Grade are also wonderful to use to practice ALL kinds of skills from adding to patterns to skip counting.  As of now, the First Grade version is FREE!  

Toca Boca

Apps for free time or rewards...
One of my favorite apps for students during free time or as a reward is Nighty Night , Toca Boca, and Pepi Play.   They are a little quirky but encourage creativity, curiousity, and they are so FUN!   I love to play them all and shhh...sometimes I do. 

My niece and I made an iPhone for her out of construction paper.  She was going to text me but she can't seem to get a signal.  : )  

Apps from YOU....
What awesome apps have you found? Got a great one you can share?  I would LOVE for you to leave the name of the app in the comments to share with everyone.  :)  I am always looking for the next great app! 

Remember to click on the picture to enter the giveaway!!  Good luck!!  I hope YOU win!!!  

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