Tell All Tuesday: Summer Flashback

Tuesdays have quickly become a favorite day of mine during summer vacation.  That's because it's the day where I get to connect and learn more about so many fabulous bloggers and new friends through Tell All Tuesdays!  Diana and I are so thrilled that you all are continuing to join us for our weekly link ups and we'll hope you stick around throughout the summer! 

This week our theme is Summer Flashback and I can't wait to share some throwback pictures with you that hold special memories for me. Some are slightly embarrassing to share but who didn't have an awkward phase at one point or another?!  I hope you will dig through your family photo albums and share a summer flashback photo with us too! Here are some of my cherished childhood summer memories, I can't wait to read about yours too!

My earliest summer memories definitely happen around our beach club that we belonged to on the Jersey Shore. My family and my aunt, uncle, and cousins shared a cabana and would spend each day on the beach or in the pool together.  I never shied away from the water which is evident from the pictures above.  
Equipped with my yellow floaties, bucket, and shovel, I could float and romp around in the pool all day.  My mom was usually the one who would swim with me but I'll never forget watching my dad swim the entire length of the pool WITHOUT coming up for air!  I thought it was the most impressive thing I'd ever seen! Side note: I can't get over my mom's amazing 80's perm! 

Once we got a little older, we were allowed to venture out onto a family friend's boat from time to time.  I loved sitting in the back and watching the waves from the back of the boat.  My sister and I used to love jumping off of their boat together!
I'm sharing this last summer flashback photo despite the beginning of my awkward phase that's going on there!  Can you say crazy eyebrows, curly bangs, and buck teeth?!  Not a good look ten year old Jayme!
Anyway, if you've been reading my blog for a while now you may know this but if you're visiting for the first time, I am a HUGE Disney fan!  It all stems from my family's frequent trips to Florida in August when we were growing up.  My grandparents lived in Florida so we would visit with them for a few days and then drive to Disney World for the rest of our vacation to cap off the summer.  It was a wonderful family tradition and we continued to do this for several years.  We were able to spend time all together before the craziness of the school year would start and always loved visiting our favorite restaurants and rides while we were there.
Disney World will always remind me of my childhood and I feel so lucky to have those special memories. 

Do you have a special summer memory from your childhood?  A place you'd always visit during the vacation or a funny childhood memory to share?  Make sure to link up with us with your summer flashback below!

Not a blogger?  No problem! Share your favorite summer flashback in the comments below!  
Thank you all for stopping by!

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Five for Friday: Summer Edition!

With a busy weekend ahead, I'm excited to sit back and relax on this quiet Friday morning!  I have just wrapped up my first week of summer and I can basically describe my summer so far in a few words: sleep, coffee, yoga pants, blog, dog, repeat.

I saw this on Pinterest the other day and had to share it on Instagram because it is so appropriate! 

This has quickly become my summer wardrobe.  Did I just wake up?  Did I just leave the gym?  I'll never tell!  I hope my fellow teachers out there are able to enjoy the same kind of summer attire and relax!

Anyway, let's recap the week with Kacey over at Doodle Bugs Teaching with my favorite Five for Friday linky party!

My friend Diana and I have been loving our weekly Tell All Tuesday link up!  It's been so much fun getting to know so many other bloggers each week and reading about your lives in and out of the classroom.  This week our theme was all about what's on our Teacher Bucket List and it was amazing to see how similar some of our goals were.  I truly believe this little community of teachers and bloggers are some of the most supportive people I've ever come across and with each comment I believe it even more.  One big teacher blogger family RCA trip?!  Here we come!  If you didn't have a chance to link up with us, no worries!  The linkup is open until Sunday or you can stop by next week for our next theme!

On that note Teachers Pay Teachers mentioned our link up and shared a photo of mine from my classroom this week on Facebook and Instagram!  I am so honored and excited to have been mentioned by such a wonderful company who has helped to form this community.


I may or may not have screamed and started cheering when I saw both posts! My husband tries to get excited too but he doesn't fully understand how big a moment that is for a little TpT seller and blogger.  Neither does Roger, he just looks at me like I'm crazy! 

I've been wanting to share a little bit more about my brag tags that I used in the classroom this year so when I saw Marie's at Once Upon a Classroom: A Teacher's Tales new linky party, Summer Share & Prepare, I knew it was the perfect place to talk about them!  Head on over to my previous post and read more about how I used my Operation Character Counts Brag Tags for positive reinforcement this year.  My packet is on sale in my TpT store here through the weekend!

As my first week of summer comes to a close, I've entered into a SLIGHT TpT creation slump.  I'm hoping that this new product that I've started to make for my first grade team will help inspire some creativity.  First comes the cover then the rest will magically roll off my fingertips!  Here's to wishful thinking!
We're adopting the new Houghton Mifflin Journeys Common Core series but doing a LOT of tweaking of it.  No reading series should be a one fits all type of thing right?!
  We're incorporating Words Their Way AND the Word Study program that Journeys offers for our first graders.  It's going to be a big job but I'm working to merge the two and offer different sorts for each story in this newest pack along with different reusable word work activities and schedules.  If this is something you would like to use in your classroom, I'd love to hear from you and some things you'd like to see!

My husband and I celebrated our three year anniversary on Tuesday.  He's my best friend, favorite fellow reality TV show watcher, and biggest cheerleader. Our wedding was magical and I love looking at this picture from our first dance.  Even though my husband wanted us to dance to "Forever," by Jesse and the Rippers (yes that is a Full House reference, he's a huge fan!) we decided against it.  
I love this picture because my husband has a beautiful singing voice but refuses to share it!  He sang to me while we danced and I couldn't help smiling from ear to ear.  

Embarrassing confession here, I am petrified of lakes.  It stems back to my childhood where I spent 6 summers at a sleep away camp in Pennsylvania and was forced to jump into the icy cold waters at 7:30 am every day.  I hated seeing the little snakes and spiders that lived in the water and would hang onto the dock for dear life.  

The weirdest part is that I LOVE to swim!  Put me in a pool or the ocean and I am right at home.  But, the lake?  No thank you!  It might also have to do with the not being able to see the bottom of the lake issue that really makes me nervous.  

Why am I bringing this up?  Well, my husband's aunt has a lake house in upstate New York and we'll be traveling there for the Fourth of July next week.  I'm hoping to muster some strength and be able to swim freely in the lake with the rest of the family but I could use some positivity sent my way!  Are you a lake lover and can tell me to SNAP OUT OF IT?!  I think I could really use that right about now!

I'm a bridesmaid in a wedding this weekend for my childhood neighbor and I can't wait to celebrate with family and friends!  I hope you all enjoy your weekends and are relaxing so far this summer!  Thanks for stopping by!  I'll be hanging with this love bug for the rest of the day, enjoy!

Summer Share and Prepare

Hello all!  Thanks for stopping by!  I am loving summer right now.  Not only do I get to spend time crossing things off of my to-do lists, like cleaning out my closets!  But, I can also linkup with fabulous blogging friends for new linky parties!  Today I'm linking up with the always positive and super sweet Marie from Once Upon a Classroom: A Teacher's Tale.  

She has just launched a new linky party that will be happening each Thursday of the summer called Summer Share & Prepare!  I love the theme of this linkup because even though teachers are off for summer break, I have not gone a day without thinking about my classroom and I know I'm not the only one!

Today I want to share about a classroom management incentive that I just started this year that my students LOVED.  I have always used a clip chart to monitor behavior in my classroom and while I know that's a topic that's often met with some resistance, up until this year it really worked for me and my students.

However, this year I had a different group of students who benefitted from more positive reinforcement and instant celebration.  That's why I developed different brag tags to give out to my students when they showed examples of positive behavior and kind character.  Not only did they enjoy this new positive incentive but they were so proud to receive these different brag tags throughout the school day.  

At the end of the school year we had a little ceremony and the kids got to wear the brag tags home.  They were so excited to share them and show them off to their families!

I created this packet, Operation Character Counts to not only celebrate positive behavior that my students showed but to also correspond with the 6 pillars of character.  Each brag tag corresponds to a pillar; responsibility, respect, caring, trustworthiness, fairness, and citizenship.

In this packet you will find display posters describing each pillar of character to help your students understand what's expected of them.  You will also find a reference guide for teachers to show which brag tag corresponds to which pillar of character.

There are over 20 different brag tags featured that are colorful, fun, and easy to put together! 

Each page in the packet can be easily printed, laminated, and cut to be strung on a chain to resemble a real brag tag.  My students loved wearing these to special occasions like assemblies and special classes or events around school.  They had such pride when other adults would stop and ask them what they were wearing around their necks.  Some of their favorites are shown in these images: Sweet Friend, Model of Behavior, Keep the Class Clean, and Good Sport.

I would love for you to check out this packet of brag tags if you're interested in implementing them next year.  This summer would be the perfect time to prep them so they're all ready for you to use once your new students arrive in the fall!
My Operation Character Counts Brag Tags will be on sale for the next 24 hours in my TpT store here!  I hope you'll be able to find something useful in the packet!  Have you ever tried brag tags before?  If so I'd love to hear what kind your students love!  I'm hoping to be making more packs in the future.

Have a wonderful rest of your week!  Make sure you link back to Marie's site to see the other fabulous products being featured!

One Lovely Blog Award

A while back I was nominated by two sweet friends, Marie from Once Upon a Classroom: A Teacher's Tale and Diana from My Day in K for One Lovely Blog Award.  I have been planning this post for a while but with the craziness of the end of the school year I was unable to get my act together until now.

I am so honored to be nominated for this award, well not me, but my little piece of cyberspace here and I can't wait to share my excitement with the blogging community!  With summer giving me the time to actually sit and research, I tried to scour the web for the origin of this award out of mere curiosity.  I couldn't find much information except that it is designed to be more of a way for bloggers to celebrate each other and pay it forward.

I find this so fitting since this aspect of blogging has quickly become my favorite; the ability to connect with teachers all around the world and find common ground.  I've been inspired by so many teacher bloggers and love that with each new blog post I get to connect with new bloggers that I've never "met," before.  

I've been pretty open on this little ol' blog of mine but I'm hoping to share some new facts about me before honoring a few more bloggers who are truly deserving of this award too!  

1.  I just finished my fourth year of teaching.  Three have been in first grade and one year in second grade.
2.  I graduated with a bachelors in Journalism from Penn State University (WE ARE!) and didn't originally think I would go into teaching.
3.  I've secretly always wanted to be a teacher, probably since I saw my third grade teacher Mrs. Barrett writing in the most beautiful print with her yellow chalk on the chalkboard. Sound strange?  I know, more on that in a different post!
4.  I went back to graduate school at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA and received my Masters in Elementary Education.
5.  My husband and I just celebrated our three year wedding anniversary.  His one regret from our wedding is that we didn't have our first dance to Jesse and the Ripper's Forever instead of using it as background music when we cut the cake.  He's the biggest Full House fan I know and he makes me laugh every day.
6.  I LOVE chick lit and I'm not ashamed to say it! My favorite chick lit authors are Jill Mansell, Paige Toon, Miranda Dickson, Ali McNamara, and Melissa Hill.  Oh, did I mention that they're all British?!  I am convinced I was born on the wrong continent and swear I'll get to visit England one day!
7.  I also have no shame in admitting my reality TV game.  I love the Bachelor/Bachelorette, Dancing with the Stars, Big Brother (tonight's the premiere!), Real Housewives of everywhere, and Ladies of London.
8.  My husband and I bought our apartment two years ago and even though it's small, it's my favorite place to be.
9.  I am the oldest with a younger brother and sister who are VERY different than me but are my best friends all the same.
10.  My family had really bad luck with pets growing up, but I couldn't imagine living without my sweet dog Roger.  He has quickly become the mascot for my classroom and this blog.

Thank you so much for stopping by and reading a little more about me!  I nominate these wonderful and inspiring blogs for the One Lovely Blog Award:

Andrea from Always Kindergarten
Jessica from Pride and Primary

Leave a comment letting me know you accept the nomination =).

Tell All Tuesday: Teacher Bucket List

Happy Tuesday lovelies!  It's my first Tuesday of the summer and I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate than with my sweet friend Diana at My Day in K and our Tell All Tuesday linky party!

Summer is the perfect time to sit back, relax, and enjoy some time to reflect on the previous school year.  It also gives teachers time to daydream and think to the future.  In honor of summer and the time away we're giving ourselves from our teacher reality, we want to know your dreams for your teaching career.  

For this Tell All Tuesday we'd love for you to share your "Teacher Bucket List."  What hopes and dreams do you have for your teaching career?  Do you want to go back to school to become a reading specialist?  One day become principal of your school?  Or something else in the realm of teaching?  Dream big and don't hold back!  Share your Teacher Bucket List with us and link up below!

My Teacher Bucket List is definitely full of my hopes and dreams for my teaching career.  A few are attainable and some may be WAY out there but I know that I won't stop working until I can cross some of these things off!  Here are some of the things I hope to be able to cross off my Teacher Bucket List as I move along in my career!

1.  Become a Reading Specialist:  Because I wasn't an education major in undergrad, I had to go back for my Masters to obtain my teaching certificate.  I currently have my Masters in Elementary Education but there is such a large part of me that wants to go back and specialize in reading.  I love to teach children how to read, appreciate books, and love stories.  Reading and writing are my favorite times of the day and I think that the opportunity to push into other classrooms and assist teachers in those subjects would be a dream come true for me.

2.  TCRWP Staff Developer: This is a HUGE dream of mine and one that might be WAY out of reach but what's the point in dreaming if you're not going to dream big?!  I love Lucy Calkins and have tried to get involved with the Teacher's College Reading and Writing Project as much as possible over the last few years.  I've worked closely with my school's staff developer and was able to be a part of her "Teacher Leader," group this year.  I admire the work at the institute so much and truly believe in teaching and learning with the workshop model.  I'm hoping that one day I have enough experience to work for the Reading and Writing Project developing curriculum and teaching other teachers how to best implement their practices and rationale.

3.  Visit the Ron Clark Academy:  If you have not heard of the Ron Clark Academy, Ron Clark, or Kim Beardon run, don't walk, to the nearest Barnes and Noble and pick up their amazing books or google them this instant!  Both Ron Clark and Kim Beardon's passion for education and inspiring both children and teachers are so admirable.  I hope one day to see their amazing school in person and see the way they approach teaching with my own eyes.  Their enthusiasm and passion is unmatched in this profession and I can't wait to visit!  I know so many bloggers have already experienced RCA and I'd love to hear about your favorite part in the comments below!  Was it getting slide certified?  That looks like way too much fun!  Or was it seeing the magic of their classrooms and the enthusiasm the students have for learning?  I bet both were pretty incredible too.

4.  Travel and Present at Workshops: I am constantly in awe of the many teachers who have been able to take their knowledge and experience and begin traveling to other districts to present on their teaching.  I feel that every teacher has valuable advice and information to share and I'm hoping that one day I've had enough experience to begin to share my experiences with the teaching community.  This blog is my way of starting on that path but eventually I'd love to find a niche and present at different workshops and travel and meet other wonderful educators around the country.  

I'm sure as my career develops I'll be adding more things to my Teacher Bucket List, but those are my major ones for now!

Want to share your Teacher Bucket list with us? I hope so!  All you have to do is grab the image below, paste it into PowerPoint, and add your own text.  Then, use it in your own blog post to link up with us below!

I can't wait to hear about your hopes and dreams for your teaching career!  Are any items on your bucket list similar to mine?  I can't wait to find out!

Thanks for stopping by!

Must Read Monday: Books About Friendship

I LOVE books!  Professional books, cheesy chick-lit books, picture books for my classroom; it doesn't matter I love them all.  That's why I'm so excited to kick start summer with my first official Monday off and joining two sweet bloggers for their Must Read Monday linky party!  Thank you Kindergarten Planet and The Kindergarten Connection for this great idea!  

Every year I hope to instill in my students a love of reading and books.  I try and do that with enthusiastic read alouds (I have been told I am QUITE the funny reader) and ample time for my students to read books that they're interested in.  Reading picture books that showcase friendship between characters and how to be a good friend are so important to the first grade curriculum.  
Here are my favorite selections for books about friendship, I hope you'll learn some new titles to add to your library over the summer!

Swimmy by Leo Lionni

Swimmy is a childhood favorite of mine that my students have always loved!  It shares the story of Swimmy who is the only fish out of his brothers and sisters who is born black instead of red.  He teaches his family and other schools of fish to band together to fight a larger bully.  Students not only learn the importance of friendship but also how valuable standing up for what's right is.

Peanut Butter & Cupcake! by Terry Border 

Peanut Butter & Cupcake! is a new picture book that is just adorable.  It tells the story of Peanut Butter who is lonely and searching for a friend.  But, Peanut Butter has a hard time searching for its soulmate.  Your students will love hearing Peanut Butter go through his search for a friend and laugh along with you as you read.

My Friend is Sad by Mo Willems

My kids went NUTS for all Mo Willems books this year but this title was a fast favorite.  My students love seeing the friendship between Elephant and Piggie and this particular book shows Piggie desperately trying to cheer up Elephant.  In the end, Mo Willems' adorable pictures and funny text have kids not only seeing how important friendship is but in a very silly way!

Chester's Way by Kevin Henkes

Kevin Henkes teaches children lessons in a beautiful and poignant way.  In Chester's Way Henkes introduces students to characters they've seen before in other beloved stories.  Chester and Wilson are the best of friends who do everything together until Lily moves into the neighborhood.  Students will love seeing how the three friends come to be!

Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems
Another Mo Willems favorite of my students this year was Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale.  Trixie takes her beloved best pal Knuffle Bunny to the neighborhood laundromat with her dad and leaves her there!  My kids love seeing the real photographs and listening to the silly words that Trixie uses to tell her dad how she's feeling.  But, it also hits home with my kids who have friends that are stuffed animals or blankets and realize how much those things mean to them as well.

The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister

The Rainbow Fish is a timeless classic that every one of my students always loves and connects to. The Rainbow Fish is a beautiful glittery fish but the beauty of her scales makes her standoffish and selfish.  She has to learn a valuable lesson about friendship and sharing that resonates with young children.  

Thinking about these picture books gets me so excited to start a new year and expose my incoming first graders to these much-loved stories.  Anyone else get so excited over children's books?  Make sure to link back to Alex and Suzanne's sites to see more fabulous bloggers' favorite books!

Five for Friday: Last Day of School!

Happy Friday all!  Yes it is true, the day has come to shut down the school issued laptop, turn in my keys {yikes!}, and lock the classroom door.  The last day of school has arrived and this teacher is ready for summer!  I feel like the words of Olaf  truly express how most teachers feel about summer...
"And I can't wait to see
What my friends think of me!
Just imagine how cooler I'll be
In summer!"
Thanks Olaf, I couldn't have said it better myself!
Summer is a time to recharge and reenter the social world.  I can finally tackle my to-do list and stay awake after 10 pm (wishful thinking but still!)  I loved this year with my first graders but I'm looking forward to a well deserved mental break to prepare for the next year coming up!  Before I'm off  officially, here are a few highlights from the last week that I'm recapping with Kacey from Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five For Friday!  Make sure to link back to her site to see some other fabulous bloggers' highlights!

My adjective collages are all ready for my firsties to take home!  I love these for end of year gifts each year.  Last week I showed my kids scooting around the classroom and describing their friends using one kind word.  I took their adjectives and created word collages on a program called Tagxedo and here are the finishing products!  I picked up diploma frames from the Dollar Tree and they're ready to go!  I hope my kids love them as much as I do!  

When the weather heats up all little New Jersey boys and girls head down the shore.  So it was only fitting to celebrate the start of summer with a beach day in our classrooms this week!  Our students brought in beach towels, sunglasses, and hats and we spread out throughout the classroom to do beach-themed activities.  Unfortunately, the weather didn't cooperate so we couldn't take our party outside but we still found our own sunshine inside the classroom!  The kids just LOVED working without shoes on, it truly is the little things!

Last week we took our animal reports that we had researched and collected information from Pebble Go and recorded ourselves reading them on an app called Audio Boo.  The kids didn't know what the final product would be for their voice recordings but this week they found out!  On the program, there's an option to print a QR code with the recording and add a picture.  The first grade team printed out our students' QR code reports and hung them up around the hallway and classrooms.  Our students were given iPads and taught to use the QR code readers on their devices.  The students walked around and scanned the QR codes to learn about their classmates' animals that they researched.  It was such an amazing way for students to learn about new animals and listen to their friends reading their reports!  They LOVED it!  I will definitely be utilizing Audio Boo and QR codes more next year!  It was super easy to set up and so rewarding for my kids.

To celebrate all that we have learned and accomplished in first grade, one of my favorite end of the year activities comes from the always amazing, Kelley Dolling at Teacher Idea Factory.  Her end of the year survival pack is a favorite of mine and this little ditty comes from it!  Every year we brainstorm different first grade memories that we have as a whole class and then pick nine to use to create our own memory boards.  Every student's board looks different because they can pick whatever nine memories they want.  While they're creating their boards I write down all of our memories on slips of paper and put them in a bucket.  Once we're done creating our first grade memories bingo board, we're ready to play!  My firsties love bingo and it makes it extra special to relive those awesome memories we've had together!  I highly recommend checking out this packet for next year, read more about on Kelley's blog here!

I shared in my post last week the makings of these beyond adorable plates that are inspired from Eberhart's Explorers but I wanted to show the final product!  These plates are being given to our amazing instructional aides this year that I truly do not know how I would have gotten through the year without.  They constantly went above and beyond what my co-teacher and I asked of them.  My kids loved them and so did we, they will be truly missed when they continue on to second grade with my students next year!

Thank you all for stopping by and recapping my final week in first grade for the 2014-2015 school year!  It was a great one and I can't wait to see what September will bring!  I'm looking forward to sharing some summer projects and fun on the blog in the next few months!  Make sure to follow along to see!

Enjoy your weekend!