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Teachers Who Roe: A Lularoe Review and Giveaway

"Cameron said his new teacher reminds him of you. Because she wears the same leggings."

This is what the parent of a former student told me when I asked how her son was enjoying his new school. Clearly, I'm obsessed.

If you haven't tried Lularoe yet, come on and jump on the bandwagon with us. You will be so glad you did.  If you are already Lula-obsessed and hiding new pairs of leggings from your significant other (just a thing I've heard some people do), this post is for you too!

I love Lularoe because it's both fashionable and comfortable. I go to work every day in cute clothes that feel like pajamas. I dig that instant connection I make with total strangers as we pass each other at the store rocking our buttery leggings. As a mom and a TpT author, I want to support other small businesses, particularly via direct marketing like Lularoe. Supporting other women who are working hard for their families is something near and dear to my heart.
(I didn't take these photos for this blog post. I just love to look at my leggings and snap pictures of them because I'm weird.)

Lularoe has many many styles to choose from. I will admit to having 3 or 4 go-to styles, and I rarely browse anything else. But recently, my friend and Lularoe consultant Kayla Butterworth encouraged me to try a couple of new styles and to step outside my comfort zone. Well, I'm in love.

The Carly
This dress is my new favorite. It's long and flowy, and can be knotted in about a million different ways, allowing you to change up the look entirely. And I'm not talking fancy knotting that you have to be a Boy Scout to do. The above look was achieved by grabbing the fabric and tying it with a pony tail holder on the inside. I got many compliments the day I wore this dress.

The Classic Tee
Until this Classic Tee, the Irma was the only style of shirt I had worn from LLR. I don't know why, but I didn't think it would cover my bum. I'm happy to report that it does in fact provide coverage in the front and back. This shirt is so comfortable, and it goes perfectly with these leggings that Kayla picked out for me. Kayla rocks at putting outfits together!

The Leggings
By now I'm sure you've heard plenty about Lularoe's buttery soft leggings. They are stretchy, comfy, and come in a zillion patterns. Hunting down your favorite pattern can be half the fun of Lularoe. As a friend once said, when you finally try a pair, "may your jeans rest in peace."

For a chance to win your choice of leggings AND a top to rock with them, enter using the rafflecopter below. You will simply need to join the Facebook group LulaRoe by Kayla Butterworth. For an additional entry follow her on Instagram @lularoewithkaylab.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Free Printable Play Doh Valentines

Do your students love Play Doh as much as mine? These valentines will be a hit! Click the image below for the free download!
To insert the mini can of Play Doh, just use an exacto knife to cut an X in the center of the heart, and then cut one more slit through the X. Pop the Play Doh right through the front. Simple, fun, and adorable!

Snow Math and Science

Winter is here! In many places, winter brings that cold, white, fluffy stuff--and weather or not you're a fan, snow can be a highly motivating learning tool. Who doesn't want to play in the snow? But it doesn't need to be snowing outside your door in order for you to capitalize on this opportunity. All you need is some ice and a good blender!
To create "real" snow, just fill up a good blender (I use a Ninja) and turn it on high. It will turn into perfect, packable snow!
You may need to put on gloves for this next part, but it packs perfectly into baseball-sized snowballs. Two batches of ice were enough for my entire class. When you are finished packing the snowballs, just put the in a Ziploc bag and store them in the freezer until you are ready to take them to school. Of course, if you happen to have snow in your area, you can always run out side and make some snowballs in your yard!
These snowballs are perfect for exploring the states of matter. Have your students observe the solid snowballs and then watch and wait as the snow melts into a liquid. I also have a snow math and science freebie that you can use to guide your students to examine their snow.

You can snag these activities FREE by clicking HERE!

Kindergarten Pumpkin Activities

Fall is my favorite time of year. So many of my favorite sights, smells, and treats--especially pumpkins! Every year, we explore pumpkins to learn about them like scientists. We read books about pumpkins, and we learn about the pumpkin life cycle. Better still, I know that these explorations are memories that won't leave my students any time soon.
We explore pumpkins first by observing them in different ways. We pass around a pumpkin and use our five senses to describe its properties. What color is it? What shape? How does it feel? Smell? What does it sound like when you knock on it? Click on the photo below to download this free recording sheet.
If my class takes a trip to the pumpkin farm, we will do pumpkin explorations with our own individual pumpkins. If not, I buy a few small pumpkins and I put my students into groups to explore the same pumpkin. We measure the circumference with yarn and measure the height with cubes.
Then we predict and experiment to see if it sinks or floats. I like to repeat this experiment with a large pumpkin after experimenting with a small one. Students will often think the large pumpkin will sink, and then are shocked when it also floats! 
I always bring in different pumpkin snacks to share as well. I usually bring in pumpkin seeds first and put them in a snack baggie. We use this recording sheet (found here) to lay out our seeds. We look at them closely and count them out.
Mostly because I love food, I grab a few different pumpkin treats from the grocery store. We taste them and then graph on our favorites!
And finally, we carve a pumpkin. I love watching my students' different reactions when they reach in and feel the pulp and seeds.
After we carve our pumpkin, we always do  "how-to" writing about the process. We also do many or all of the activities in my Pumpkin Math and Science pack from my TpT shop.
Finally, we get creative with our pumpkins! We had a blast last year turning our pumpkins into our favorite story characters.
So that's what we do. Now go out and get yourself some pumpkins!

Seasonal and Holiday Handprint Writing in Kindergarten

As a kindergarten teacher, I love all things cutesy and crafty and hands-on and fun. My own son is in kindergarten, and I adore when he brings home things that he created. But I know how hard it is for us to spend instructional time on things like painting these days (I mean, how does that address the standards and yada yada yada...) So I created hand print writing pages that would allow my students to get messy and address the standards at the same time. I am planning on having my students complete one every month, and I'm saving them for their memory books at the end of the year. This is a perfectly simple activity to give your parent volunteers to lead as well!
If you are feeling crafty, you can snag these in my TpT shop. There are templates for just about every seasonal hand print craft you can think of. Feeling crafty?  Click on the image below to download a free sample!
Or, pin it for later!

Fall Playdough Recipes

Scented, fall-themed playdough is so simple to make! Once you have your basic playdough recipe, it's really all about adding the coloring and the mix-ins to make it smell amazing.
First, gather your ingredients. The best play dough recipe I have found (and I've made a lot) calls or 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup salt, 1 tablespoon oil, 1 tablespoon cream of tartar, and 1 cup water. This is the base for every type of play dough I make. 
Dump the dry ingredients into a pot.
Add the wet ingredients. I like to add my food coloring to the water so that it's easier for the color to be mixed through.
Give it a good stir.
Within just a few minutes, it will start to form a ball in the center of the pot like this.
Dump that ball of dough onto a counter and let it cool slightly.
Form it into a ball. You're done!
It's super easy to give basic play dough a little kick by adding different colors, spices, and extracts. I even played with essential oil and added some cinnamon oil to red play dough to make incredible smelling "apple cinnamon" dough! Check out the chart below to find some add-ins to make your play dough pop!
My classroom looked and smelled like FALL this week as my students used these doughs in their work stations. Something about adding scent to play dough makes it tons more fun! Do you use play dough in your classroom? Happy fall!

Alphabet Intervention that Works

The beginning of the school year is upon us. For kindergarten teachers, that means back to basics. We all know that many kinders come in knowing zero letters, while others come in reading up a storm. Did you know that according to Richard Allington, students who enter kindergarten knowing fewer than 40 letters (upper and lower combined) are already a year below grade level? Crazy isn't it? Below grade level before even starting school! Not only that--Allington also asserts that ALL kindergarten students, regardless of socioeconomic status or literacy in the home, should know all of their letters by Halloween. Sound impossible? Read on.
In my classroom, I do not spend whole group instructional time on the alphabet. We are always reviewing and talking about letters through modeling, sharing the pen, etc., but explicit alphabet instruction is something I save for small group, and only for the students who need it. Most students quickly pick up on the letters as they are given a multitude of opportunities to use them. 

For the students who enter school knowing fewer than 40 letters (they are assessed by an aide on the first day of school), here is what we do: 

Trace the Alphabet Every Day.

That's it. No, I don't mean give them a handwriting page with dot letters to trace. What I'm talking about is one-on-one finger tracing of an alphabet book (or alphabet cards) while saying the letters and pictures. 
 A tutor (parent volunteer/older student) sits next to the student--this must be done one-on-one, so it frees up your time to have another person do this. The student (not the tutor) traces the capital and lowercase letter while saying the name of the letter. Then, they point to the picture and say what it is. 

"A, A, apple."
"B, B, ball."
C,C, cat."

It's that simple. Every day, A-Z.
 I PROMISE you, this works. I was a skeptic. But I have a ton of respect for Jan Richardson, and this idea comes straight from her book, The Next Steps in Guided Reading which I've blogged about before.

But my first year of trying this, IT DID NOT WORK. Why? Because I did not make sure that it was done with fidelity. Every. single. day. But when I finally made the commitment to make sure this was done with all students who knew fewer than 40 letters, THEY ALL KNEW THEIR LETTERS BY October. Even my ELL students. Even students who entered kindergarten knowing ZERO LETTERS. HEED MY CAPITALIZED MESSAGE.

The best part is, you don't need anything new or fancy. Do you have an alphabet strip/chart that you already use? Use that! With a little cut/pasting action, you can turn it into a book.
 It's best to be consistent so that the students are seeing the same pictures (although admittedly mine aren't and it still works great). Here is a little alphabet book that you can use if you don't have anything already handy! Just click on the image below!

Do you already use the tracing book with your students? Tell us about your results!

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