Friday, December 20, 2013

Happy Holidays from The Rungs of Reading!

I was nervous about today... and ya know what?! My kids were awesome and it was such a fun day!

Stacy and I want to take this opportunity to wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year! 
We are so grateful for our new blogging friends and for each person that takes the time to read the words we write on this little space on the internet of ours!
Enjoy your families and your time off. Relax and rejuvenate but most importantly, rejoice!
We love you! 

Friday, December 13, 2013

December Five for Friday FUN!

Five more days....five more days....five more days!  Is everyone else chanting this in their head like me as I'm instructing my little friends?  Wow!  What a crazy week!  One more to go!  Although my kiddos were a little "off" this week, we were still able to buckle down and get a few fun things done in the Reading Room.  Today I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs for her weekly linky party to share what I've been up to!
 If you ever have a chance to see A Christmas Story the musical...GO!  I kept going back and forth about taking my little guy but stumbled upon some half-price tickets online so decided to take him.  Although our seats were in the nose-bleed section, we really enjoyed the acting, singing, and dancing.  It was really cool that the majority of the actors/actresses in the show were children.  Incredible talent!!  Logan was GLUED during each scene!  It really put us in the mood for Christmas!
 I have ONE MORE WEEK until my CAGS in Literacy class is over!  WHOOOOO HOOOO!  This month has been really stressful balancing life while pursuing a second degree.  I really enjoy my coursework but between work, holiday shopping, and caring for my family, I was SPENT this December.  Last week I went into a panic realizing that I did not have a single photo appropriate for the annual Christmas card.  Well, thank goodness I have a VERY talented blog partner that is a WHIZ with the camera!  THANK YOU Colleen for taking such beautiful pictures of my family!  She really captured everyone's personality, didn't she? 
Picking the Biggest Apples
 Since today was "Game Day Friday", my second grade groups got to play games that reinforced what we have been working on in our Fundations program.  This week we have been practicing suffix/inflectional endings using our Picking the Biggest Apples bundle.  This 27 page bundle includes 64 word cards, Board Game, SCOOT Spelling, Roll the Die Game and WEEK of reinforcing activities. I knew the Roll the Die game was a HIT, when one of my students said, "This game is awesome!  Can we play next week?"  Of course we can!!
Grade 2 Winter Literacy Centers
 Speaking of next week, I'm probably going to pull out our new Grade 2 Winter Literacy Centers for us to play.  It will be like a “Snow Day” when my students practice their decoding skills playing the games and activities included in this bundle! This 30 page bundle includes FIVE literacy games and activities that are perfect for an ELA student center, small group RTI intervention, or whole-class activity.  Since winter has arrived early in New England, this bundle will be perfect as the temperature plummets!!  It was 19 degrees this morning!  19!!!
And finally, tomorrow brings the one-year anniversary of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary.  As you are wrapping presents, finishing up last minute holiday shopping, or baking cookies, please say a prayer for those families hurting this weekend as the memories flood back of that horrible day. 
Have a blessed weekend, friends.  Hug your family and friends a little tighter and let your light shine so brightly that others can see their way out of the dark.

Friday, December 6, 2013

December Facebook Frenzy and MORE HOLIDAY FREEBIES!
Happy Friday Friends!  Have you heard about the December Facebook Frenzy this weekend?  Colleen and I are super excited to be joining other fabulous bloggers in the Grade 2 ELA/SS frenzy!  Click the picture above to download some fabulous FREE products!  Look for the penguin tab at the top of our facebook page to begin! 
Here's a sneak peek at our featured FREEBIE, Freezing Syllables!  This game is part of our newest product, Winter Literacy Centers for Grade 2! This 30 page bundle includes FIVE literacy games and activities that are perfect for an ELA student center, small group RTI intervention, or whole-class activity.
If you are looking for the starting points of different grade-levels or specialties, clip the image below to download the map for the remaining 13 frenzies! Have fun!!!

Finally, have you seen the AWESOME 2013 Winter Holiday Tips and Freebies featuring some of the best sellers on Teachers Pay Teachers?  We hope you enjoy all of your free teaching materials for your classroom this holiday season. Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Colleen's December Currently

Can you believe it's already December?!!
[psss... wanna know a secret? I've been wanting to put up the tree since the last trick-or-treater came to the door on Halloween!]

That just wasn't allowed here at home so I had to patiently wait until Thanksgiving Day to put the tree up. And now it's December! I just LOVE December. It's my birthday month AND it's Christmas. I love love love Christmas.... clearly. 

Anyway, today I'm linking up with Farley for her Currently Series once again. I'm a day late I know... I was really busy being an elf and setting up and decorating every last corner of my house for Christmas!
Listening: I'm in love with Hillsong's new-ish CD. It's amazing and their concert was pretty amazing as well. I just love this song for so many reasons but the main one is that right now I feel like the word relentless is what the Lord is saying to me. His love is relentless and He is not giving up on me. 
 Loving: I got a haircut on Saturday! This is kinda a HUGE deal in my life. I never get actual haircuts. Typically, I just go there, ask the world's greatest hair dresser to make my hair as blonde as it was when I was a child and to trim the edges. This time, I decided (and mentally prepared) myself to get a real hair cut... with a style and all. 6 inches gone and I'm so glad I did it. I love it! This is a picture of myself and my sweet friend [also a teacher] Abbey and I from Sunday when we made up this recipe and baked some peanut butter cup cupcakes.
Thinking: Okay, okay... I'm just a tad behind on this whole marking papers thing. Man oh man I'm very behind. We use SO much [way too much] paper everyday. It stacks up so quickly. 
Wanting: I would really love to be sipping some sleepy time tea and closing my eyes real soon but that stack of papers is calling Miss McBride's name as soon as this blog post is finished. And if I took a sip now, I'd be asleep in 10 min I swear. That stuff has like magical sleeping powers. Try it. Delicious.
Needing: Balance.... Physical, Mental, Spiritual and Emotional balance. I need it and I'm working on it.
Favorite Tradition: My mom's favorite Christmas classic has always been A Year Without a Santa Claus so naturally, it's become a favorite of my sister and mine as well. I love settling down on a snowy night with some hot chocolate and watching some good 'ol Christmas specials with my family. 
.... and I'm also obsessed with Elf. Which is it's own Christmas classic/special in my mind. 
Thanks for sticking with us, friends. It's so fun to be on here and get to know so many other wonderful teachers and bloggers! We feel so thankful for the friends that we've made through this journey. 

Stay tuned in the coming days for some recipes, updates on what we bought for Cyber Monday and some exciting news about our upcoming Frenzy!

Happy Monday!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Gratitude and special announcement

When I was in Kenya, it was family tradition to sit down each night for family meeting. We would gather up, snuggle up and spend time together each night discussing and celebrating the day. We would also share gratitude.

Gratitude was a time where the kids, volunteers, and matrons could go around and say what they were thankful for.... kinda like going around the Thanksgiving table here in the states, but we would do this everyday.
So, while Thanksgiving is over, we wanted to remain in an attitude of gratefulness and share our gratitude today. We're linking up with Reading and Writing Redhead for her Time To Be Thankful Linky party! Here are the top 10 things I'm thankful for today. 
“Gratitude for the seemingly insignificant—a seed—this plants the giant miracle.” Ann Voskamp

We also are excited to share with you that we are having a Black Friday SUPER SALE on everything in our TpT store today! 20% off everything! Come grab some Melonheadz filled bundles that contain student-led games are perfect for an ELA student center, small group RTI intervention, or whole-class activities. There are also reinforcing activities that can be used to assess your student’s ability!.
Check out some of our favorites below:
We hope your Thanksgiving was filled with love and gratitude. 
We're SO thankful for YOU, friends.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Oh Five For Friday how we've missed you!

Hi friends! It's been way too long since I've written on this little 'ol blog of ours.
Here's why... Stacy and I lead CRAZY lives. Being a first year teacher is insane. It's absolutely the most joyful job I've ever had the opportunity to do but I honestly feel like I could work all day every day and STILL not be done with everything. Stacy just started another course towards her CAGS degree (because she's amazing) and so she's super busy with that, too.
We're sorry friends! We've missed you! But be sad no longer, because we're back with a late Five For Friday. We love linking up with Doodle Bugs!
1. Let me let you in on a little secret of mine... I'm obsessed with the sky. For those who know me, it's no secret. I'm constantly telling my friends to look up and I'm always in awe of the way that it is continuously changing. These pictures are from a night that I stopped my car on my commute home from work to watch my God finish painting. Man it was stunning. I tend to make stopping my car to watch the sunset a habit... and it's an incentive I use for myself to get out of the building at a reasonable time!! 
2. For awhile now, I've been venting (almost daily) to Stacy about how my literacy block is just NOT working for my students. I'm learning that with this particular group of friends, putting them in groups and setting a timer for them to move in rotations sounded ideal but is not realistic. There are way too many students that are reading at the same level but behaviorally can not be in groups with one another... it becomes quite the management craze and I'm just not able to fully work with my reading groups the way I've desired to. SO... I was searching the internet, processing with Stacy and inspired by Teaching With Love and Laughter and I woke up at 5am on a SATURDAY to put together a work/choice chart for my class. I'm currently creating must do and may do options and I plan to begin implementing this choice Daily 5 (ish) literacy time on Monday. I feel really good about it but I'll keep y'all updated. Any advice on a choice based literacy block vs. a structured group time or reading groups in general? I'd love to hear what you all do!
3. I purchased Amy Lemons' Let's Be Thankful! {Literacy and Thanksgiving Book Activities} for my second graders next week but tried some of it out while I was babysitting this weekend. I read “The Best Thanksgiving Ever” by Teddy Slater and Ethan Long to the kiddies and then we created turkeys with our hand prints and wrote on each turkey what we were thankful for. Some of my favorites from these guys... "chicken nuggets" and "the color blue". Nothing beats the cuteness of these munchkins. I created the model for my students too! Perfection. Ps. Amy Lemons is amazing and so is this bundle of activities.  
 4. In both 2nd Grade and The Reading Room, we've had the opportunity to use one of our favorite products, The Old Wild West. This bundle makes learning the concept of closed syllable exceptions /glued SO much fun! This 20 page bundle contains a Board Game, Card Game, The SCOOT Stampede, 48 word cards, 16 task cards and WEEK of reinforcing student printables! These games and activies are perfect for an ELA student center, partner work, small group RTI intervention, or whole class activity. I was actually playing the SCOOT game with my class when the principal and superintendent walked in [cue minor heart attack]. Everyone loved it! You may be able to tell that we are slightly completely obsessed with Melonheadz graphics and her Wild West bundle was PERFECTION for this awesome pack.  
I promise you it is child, principal, superintendent AND teacher approved!!
Click the image above to grab your copy too!
5. Last but certainly not least, Stacy and some of the Kindergarten teachers at her school had the opportunity to use another of our favorite products, our November Literacy Centers. We, once again were just head over heels with the cuteness of Melonheadz and inspired to created that your pre-k/ kindergarten students will love! Students will have a blast practicing early literacy skills while playing the games and activities! This 30 page bundle includes THREE early literacy games, printables, and guided reading book. These activities are perfect for an ELA student center, small group RTI intervention, or whole-class activity.

Click the picture above to grab your own set at 50% OFF THROUGH THANKSGIVING!!

So there you have it! A random selection of 5 things from two overly busy teachers! Thanks for sticking with us through all that! We really do love reading all about your lives and teaching though so leave some comments in the comment section for us to stop by your blog too! 

Ps: When's Thanksgiving Break start for y'all? We get out Wednesday at 11:40 and I actually can't wait!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Happy Veterans Day from The Rungs of Reading!

Happy Veterans Day, teacher friends!

First of all, any Mondays off are a blessing... but the real blessing here is being able to celebrate, remember and thank the courageous men and women that have fought for our precious freedom. 

This week in second grade, we spent time learning about this holiday, and taking time to remember what soldiers do for us. We used an awesome Veterans Day Activities Packet from First Grade Schoolhouse. I made it a little more challenging by asking students to include more details in their writing and it turned out great! I have a very boy-heavy class this year so they were SUPER excited with the solider/military items included in the packet.
I began the week by introducing my students to Walter and Dwayne, two friends of mine who are finishing up their time at the United States Naval Academy. I showed them pictures of the boys and cracked up when my little munchkins commented mostly about the size of their muscles (the photo is at the bottom of this post if you want to giggle with me). As the students built more of a personal connection with Walter and Dwayne, many began remembering soldiers and veterans in their own lives as well. We talked about what soldiers do for us and used that discussion to spark ideas for what to thank soldiers for in our writing. The students loved writing to Walter and Dwayne and have begged me to invite them into the classroom so they can meet in person. This precious craftivity took us a significant portion of Friday afternoon but it was worth it! Just look at them!!! I sent a picture of one to Stacy and she responded saying she has "no words". That's when you know it's something really cute! :) :)

These letters are currently hanging in the 2nd grade hallway but will soon be on their way to Annapolis MD to the mailboxes of two of my all-time favorite men.
As many of you know, Stacy and I began this journey when I was her student intern in the Reading Room. At her school, they celebrate Veterans Day with a special assembly for the veterans in the community.  Students lead the show by presenting poems, songs and dedications. Each year the assembly is extra special because Sergeant Dan Clark, "The Singing Trooper", captures the hearts of teachers, students, and veterans with his inspirational performance and entertainment.  This year, students were particularly enamored because he had sung God Bless America during Game 1 of the Red Sox/St. Louis World Series game!  Boy!  He puts on a fantastic show!
So... Walter, Dwayne, and all the men and women of the military: Thank you, from the bottom of our  second grade and Reading Room hearts for all you do for us day in and day out. 
We are grateful and appreciative.. and we will not forget your service.
And for all our teacher friends, in honor of Veterans Day, our product Sail Away Bingo will be on sale TODAY ONLY! Grab it quick! It's the perfect addition to your word work, reading groups or RTI group and it's one of our favorites... and our students' too!
Click the picture or here to be directed to our store where you can download it!

With grateful hearts to all who serve, GOD BLESS AMERICA!

Friday, November 8, 2013

I Am So Thankful! Blog Hop Stop #17

 Congratulations! You made it to blog stop#17! If you are just "hopping in", you can go here if you missed some stops along the way. This is also where you will find the I Am So Thankful giveaway!!  Don't forget to collect all the delicious "pie clues" along the way to enter!
Speaking of pie clues, Colleen and I agreed that "NEW BEGINNINGS" really captures what we are thankful for this time of year.  Our exciting year began when the two of us started working together in the Reading Room when Colleen was my student intern.  Little did we know that our student/mentor relationship would blossom into something bigger.  We are so thankful that when our paths crossed, we decided to start our little ol' blog and begin to share our ideas with all of you.  The blogging friendships we have made in just a few months have been AMAZING!  Thank you, friends for sharing this journey with us!  It has been a very exciting time in our careers! 
To celebrate our "New Beginnings" and Thanksgiving apple pie, we are offering one of our favorite products, "Picking the Biggest Apples", as our I Am So Thankful FREEBIE!  Your students will have a blast learning suffix endings (inflectional endings) when playing THREE games included in this bundle!  It includes 64 word cards, Board Game, SCOOT Spelling, Roll the Die Game and WEEK of reinforcing activities. These student-led games are perfect for an ELA student center, small group RTI intervention, or whole-class activity. The reinforcing activities can be used to assess your student’s ability to decode one syllable words with suffix ending s, es, er, est, ing, or ed.

Thank you for stopping by The Rungs of Reading!!  We hope you enjoy our "I Am So Thankful" freebie!  For updates on what is going on in Stacy and Colleen's classrooms, please like our Facebook page.
Now hop over to the next stop on your "I Am So Thankful" journey!