Resources We Love - Giveaway!!!

Hi Everyone!  Thanks so much for hopping around to discover some of our **favorite** resources in our classroom!  I am super excited to tell you all about THE BEST activity for both movement and learning in my classroom!

A dear friend from my college days { UC Santa Barbara!  Go Gauchos! } has developed a fantastic game that brings his three loves together...learning, physical activity, and teamwork!  As Joe was describing his "athletic brain builder" to me, I was getting super excited and I couldn't wait to try it with my students.  I am a die-hard GoNoodle fan { MooseTube is my jam!  Fried ham anyone?! } and I love incorporating movement into my lessons.

With the motto: Play. Hustle. Learn. I knew his game Smartopotamus was perfect for my classroom.

Smartopotamus comes with 80 balls covered with letters for my kiddos to use to spell all sorts of words on the white mats based on the categories from the card decks.  I also make up my own categories based on our learning objectives that week.  The deck categories get more advanced as you go down the list, so even our big 5th grade buddies are challenged, easily adaptable for any age.

The very first time I played it, I knew it was a hit.  My students ran like the wind to get as many tennis balls as they could gather and bring them back to their team to start forming their words.

Here's one group working together to brainstorm words that fit my given categories and then find the letters to spell their chosen words correctly on the mat.  Lots of peer editing going on...woo hoo!

Here's what I asked them to find:
     1.  Something cold
     2.  The opposite of something cold
     3.  A verb
     4.  A proper noun
     5.  A pronoun

I'm obviously sneaking in a grammar review, and they loved the challenge of working together to make their words as much as they did running around to collect the balls.

Smartopotamus comes with 18 creative ways for students to work as a team to collect the balls for a quick brain brain or a full-on PE workout if you want.  I can make the activity as short or long as I need.  Our favorite game this year is Soccer Madness since so many of my little kiddos claim to be soccer stars!

I've even used this game indoors in my word work station. I made sure to clearly teach my expectations (no flying tennis balls around our room!) and luckily we haven't had any issues so far.  Whew! My kiddos love having different textures and objects with which to work on spellling, grammar, vocabulary, and basically anything word work related.

Here's a quick video telling more about Smartopotamus.

Enter the code: happyhippo  at to receive 40% off. win a *FREE* Smartopotamus game of your own, enter the 1st rafflecopter below.  It sells for $350 {thank goodness for my PTA funds}, so be sure to enter below to win yours absolutely free!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

To win the $100 Target gift card for the Blog Hop, 
be sure to complete all of the entries below in this 2nd rafflecopter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Click {here} to hop to our next blogger, The Elementary Darling

Best of Luck!

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Healthy & Fun Game Day Snacks!

Last year, my 1st grader decided to try softball for the first time and loved it…the new friends, the game play, the uniform and hair bow...everything, including the end-of-the-game snacks.  We were lucky to have a great bunch of girls and parents on the team and we all adored our coaches!  It seemed like a perfect fit for our family, until it came to the snacks.
Candy.  More candy.  Neon blue Gatorade.  And a bit more candy.  Yuck!
So, when it was my turn for game day snacks, I wanted to do something much healthier but I knew I had to jazz it up a bit to compete with Ring Pops and Pop Rocks. 

Here’s how to make these Snack Players for your little athletes!

Materials you’ll need per player:

2 mini boxes of raisins (they come in bags of 12 = 6 kids)
1 juice box (I like to find a matching color to the kids’ uniforms)
1 granola or cereal bar
1 fruit cup
2 googly eyes or stickers
1 pipe cleaner (matching color)
Ribbon (matching color)
Hot glue gun

Start by hot gluing the granola/cereal bar to the back of the juice box.  Be sure not to place glue on the straw so it can be used easily later.  I like to glue them together in two spots: the top left corner and bottom right (opposite of where the straw is located).  It’s the right amount of glue to keep them in place, but the kids can still tear off the bar to actually eat and enjoy it.  Make sure the bar doesn’t stick up too far above the juice box.  You will want them somewhat flush when gluing on the fruit cup “head.”

Now that the body is nice and solid, I like to glue on the mini raisin box feet.  Arrange the boxes so the wording on the box is right-side up (it just looks better that way).  Separate them slightly in the front to make a small “V” shape.  Place hot glue on the bottom of the juice box on the left and right sides.  Carefully place the juice box “body” on the mini raisin boxes somewhat centered…you want the feet to stick out just a little in the front only, and to make sure it will balance on its own.

To prep the “head”, use googly eyes or eye stickers to make your fruit cup face come to life.  Be sure to turn any writing or plastic tabs to the back of the body, hidden from sight.  I like to add a red sharpie smile and hot glue a simple ribbon bow to the head.  I’d skip the bow when making baseball players!

***Note: Do NOT use applesauce in place of the fruit cups.  I learned the hard way that the foil tops of the applesauce rip WAY to easily and cause a drippy mess when trying to eat your snack.  The plastic tops of the fruit cups easily separate from the juice boxes even after being hot glued into place.  Trust me and learn from my soggy mistake!

Before attaching the adorable little head you just created to the body, you need to glue on the pipe cleaner "arms."  This year our team, the Spitfires, has orange jerseys...hence the VERY orange theme you're seeing.  Simply fold the pipe cleaner evenly over the juice box to create two equally sized arms.  Place a line of hot glue across the top of the juice box, near the fold to avoid covering up the drinking hole, and attach the pipe cleaner.

Then, dab hot glue on either side of the pipe cleaner to attach the head.  This is why you want your granola/cereal bar flush with the top of your juice box...we want a nice, level surface for the head.

Tip:  Go ahead and use more glue than you think.  Luckily, the glue detaches from the fruit cup for easy eating, but the heads can also accidentally be bumped off if too little glue is used.  Make sure those noggins stick with plenty of hot glue!

I should have used just a bit more glue to make sure the players were not accidentally decapitated! 

Batter up!  Bend the arms half way down the length of the pipe cleaner sides to create elbows.  Using a clear plastic spoon (for eating the fruit cup), wrap the ends of the pipe cleaner arms around the handle of the spoon once or twice.  Then, pull the spoon to one side and manipulate into place to resemble a bat.  This might take a minute or two to finagle into place, but you'll get it to a place that looks good rather quickly.

Tada!  You are DONE!

For even more baseball and softball fun,  
check out my lunchbox jokes, notes, and water bottle wraps!

They're perfect for adding a little sporty fun during the school day or at practice.  Click on the images below or on the Etsy tab above to snag yours!

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A Hoot and a Holler for February

Today I am linking up with The Rigorous Owl to give out a Hoot and a Holler!

I teach 2nd grade in Southern California, but to spice things up and earn some extra cash before the sunny days of summer come, I volunteered to teach a GATE enrichment class after school for 8 weeks.  Being inspired by Kayla Deltzer from Top Dog Teaching and other such tech-happy teachers, I decided to teach a coding class (which I SO do not know how to do...but thought it would be fun to learn alongside the kiddos). has been a FABULOUS resource for me, complete with lesson plans, video tutorials for both me and the 4th and 5th grade students, and a variety of activities to practice skills such as sequence, loops, debugging, and conditionals (all of which I just learned what they mean...hahaha).  I am simply following their "Course 2" outline which is easy to do and FREE for all!

My district just went Googley so our students are 1:1 with Chromebooks.  My 2nd graders are just getting the introduction to technology but the students in my after school GATE class are already pretty savvy.  I'm getting an opportunity to learn about coding and the Google world myself as these older kids and I correspond via the Google Classroom I set up for the course.

What I surprise it was for me to have kids I just met thanking me over and over for such a fun and interesting class. {We do a lot of unplugged activities just to learn the concepts...debugging relay race and card game our heads aren't just buried in our laptops!}

And for my holler,

Ashley, or Ms Idealistic online and in social media, has been such a wealth of knowledge for me about all things tech-related.  She scopes regularly and has joined forces with Sheila Jane of Sheila Jane Teaching and iTeachTvNetwork as well as TpT Life to host a weekly blab panel about teaching with technology.  I tune in whenever my little girls give me the chance to and I always learn about a new website, app, or how to do something I've been wanting to learn about.  A friendly, quick tip or tutorial always!  Thanks, Ash!  :)

If you would like to join the linky party, head over to The Rigorous Owl and get hooting!
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A New Year & New Goals: Part 2

My second goal for 2016 is to be brave.

Being brave isn't as easy as it sounds.  

Stretching your limits and being vulnerable is so difficult to do, but that's where the most growth happens, right?  Right!

So, I'm putting myself out there.  I'm heading out to the great unknown of social media and forcing myself to meet and mingle with other teachers, bloggers, Periscopers, and more.

1.  Go to Teacher-Blogger Meet Ups:

I feel like Jim Carey in Yes Man.  My jump into social media has led me to new Facebook groups for teachers and TpTers and now those peeps want to get together at meet ups.  And to every teacher or blogger meet up that's not too far away...I say YES!

One key to success is surrounding yourself with successful people, especially those with similar goals, so I’m saying yes to meeting new teacher friends in this new social media world.  I’ll be driving and flying all over California in January and February for three different meet ups.  I won’t know a soul, but I hope to be brave, as I’ll be socializing, enjoying dinner, and even sharing a hotel room with people I’ve only met on Periscope or Facebook.  My husband thinks I'm crazy, as he is a little more cautious than I am…but I’m sure Shelby from Wriggling Scholars won’t kill me in my sleep! I'm not too old for a slumber party, right?

Here's my name tag from my very FIRST teacher blogger meet up last weekend in Manhattan Beach.  I met four very popular bloggers who happen to work in the same area I do and a host of other friendly and brilliant women that also aren't too far away.  Valerie Miller from Common Core Collaboration became my new best friend at the event, as we walked in together and did not really leave each other's side most of the night.  We were being brave together!

In February, I'm heading to the home of Katie Knight from Teacher to the Core for a Tea Luncheon as well as to Sacramento for a HUGE teacher meet up hosted by Sarah from Tales of Teaching with Tech, Erin from Very Perry Classroom, Brianne from Hooo-ray for Teaching, and Laura from Teaching from Beyond the Desk.  

I'm nervous and excited at the same time!  Be brave...I have to keep telling myself this.

2.  Start a Video Class Newsletter: 

I write a quick and easy weekly class newsletter that ties in the curricular topics we're covering in class and describes our homework assignments for the week.  My school is now 1:1 with Chromebooks, so I need to integrate more technology and opportunities to learn with technology for my students.

Taking my weekly newsletter off the page and making it come alive with video seems like a great way to accomplish this.  By filming myself and my students presenting the newsletter each week, we all will practice and learn more about presentation, voice, nuance, eye contact, fluency, expression, and so much more.  

Now, I'm usually the one behind the camera, not in front.  And, I hope to keep it that way most of the time as I want my students mastering their presentation skills.  But, modeling must be done, so I will be brave.  

3.  Periscope More and Launch my Blab:  

     Now that I have been exploring social media more, I have discovered lots of teacher professional development opportunities through Periscope, Blab, and Facebook groups.  Sheila from Sheila Jane Teaching has created the beautiful iTeachTVNetwork.  It is chock full of live streaming discussions fit for every teacher, regardless of grade level or experience.

    Smart, knowledgeable, and personable educators are taking to the air waves to share their ideas, successes, and sometimes their failures.  It's like a huge staff room of collaborative teachers ready and eager to share their experiences.  

     I've hopped on Periscope a few times, but it took me hours to get up the nerve to do a 10 minute live stream Periscope.  No joke....hours!  It has gotten better each time and the rush of excitement I feel after a broadcast is worth it.  I just love being a part of this up-and-coming social sharing.  I will be brave and get on the airwaves more this year.

   I have even spoken to a few fellow Periscopers and we are in the works to start our very own live streaming broadcast on about music and movement in the classroom!  Having an active, fun, and educational classroom is my area of expertise and I'd love to share my tips and tricks with other educators.  The idea of being in front of the camera for a live streaming show is a little less terrifying if I have others in cahoots with me!  It will be easier to be brave with other teachers by my side!

    So, those are my two simple yet MAJOR goals for this year!  Have you thought about what you'd like to accomplish this year?  Are YOU willing to be brave and try something totally out of your comfort zone?  Let's do it together!

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A New Year & New Goals: Part 1

The new year.  A popular time to reflect on your accomplishments and set new goals for the year.  Bleck!!

Seriously, I’m not normally a New Year’s Resolution type of gal…I prefer spontaneous motivation to spark both my personal and professional goals, not flipping a page on my calendar.  

BUT, this year the stars have aligned and I am motivated right now to light a little fire under my tush and try some new things!  No pressures, deadlines, or consequences in this house!  No siree!  Just fun and healthy activities for some personal growth, as a teacher and a mommy.

My first goal this year is to spend more time in the kitchen!

Yep, you read that correctly.  Mind you, I'm not clamoring to do more dishes or clean out the refrigerator, but I do want to start cooking more meals from scratch with my little girls.  I've perfected a few recipes that I make quite often, but boredom has set in and I can certainly learn new recipes to add to the rotation.

Step 1:  Cooking with my girls – 

My little girls are hard-core fans of cooking shows, especially if children themselves are competing, like in Chopped Junior or Kids Baking Challenge.  At age 5 and 8, they are wanting to help more and more with peeling carrots and mixing the salad dressing…which is a much better than just licking the spoon I used to mix the cake batter.  Getting them in the kitchen more helps me cook more healthy meals from scratch and encourages them to eat a bigger variety of foods.  Win win.

My little chefs are ready to cook up a storm!

Step 2: Prepare one new meal from scratch once per month – 

This obviously ties into getting my girls more involved in the kitchen, but this is more about helping me become a better cook.  After work, I’m SO not motivated to whip up a healthy Martha Stewart meal and have it hot and ready by 6 p.m.  Sadly, I tend to steer towards Papa John’s instead.  But, this year I hope to give that pizzeria less of my hard-earned cash!

Now, goals should actually be achievable, so I’m sure Martha will never make an appearance in my kitchen, but perhaps I could use one Saturday or Sunday per month to plan, prep, and make something new from scratch!

Enter YouTube.  Don’t you just love YouTube?  I think I use YouTube as much as I use Google.  Want to know how to play Jingle Bells on the guitar?  YouTube.  How to do a Dutch braid?  YouTube.  How to make homemade tortillas?  YouTube!  

Here the girls and I bravely accept the challenge of making homemade tortillas!  Did we have the right ingredients?  NO, but that didn't stop us.  We made a few substitutions and although they weren't as fluffy as expected...they were edible.  That's a success in my kitchen!

The links below are to my newly discovered cooking channels with real ladies with real senses of humor.  A MUST for me, as I never take myself too seriously and love a good laugh.  Click the pics below to be taken to Hilah Cooking and Jenny Can Cook on YouTube.

Hilah Cooking:

Jenny Can Cook with Jenny Jones:

Next time, I tell you about my other goal for this year...which has me going WAY out of my comfort zone.  Truly.  It will be painful..and public...    Oh my word!

Are you trying anything new this year?  Being adventurous?  I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!

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Teachers Pay Teachers Cyber Sale!

It's time to get your holiday shopping done!  Head over to to Teachers Pay Teachers to save up to 28% on your favorite items this Monday and Tuesday!

Be sure to pick up your December Lunchbox Notes, Jokes, and Bottle Wraps to make your loved ones smile brightly this holiday season.  Simply print and cut!  I keep my stack in the kitchen ready to sneak into my little one's lunch, homework folder, or library book!  She LOVES sharing the jokes with her friends!!!

My #1 Best Seller will also be on sale...

And, finally...I've got a FREEBIE for you!!!  Woo Hoo!  As I was relaxing this past Thanksgiving break, I decided to get myself organized this December and whipped up a little something for myself...and you!  Click on my FREEBIES tab above to download this little 13-page lovey for yourself.

Happy Holidays!
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Goodbye October...Hello November!

I am happy to kiss {smooch smooch} October so long!  It was hot, hot, hot and I am thrilled beyond belief to finally have weather in the 60s and 70s.  I swear it's been over 90 degrees since July!

For our monthly Currently linky party, here is what I'm currently up to...

I love hearing my hubby react to watching is precious Oregon Ducks play football.  He's a die-hard fan, win or lose, and this week's game against Arizona State is going into triple overtime!!!  Fingers crossed for my honey who bleeds green and yellow.

As I mentioned last month, Periscope is blowing up for teachers.  I hear that little whistle so often now from teachers filling the airwaves with awesome PD tips and classroom advice.  I'm trying to work up the nerve to do my first one and I think I just need to go for it!  I hope to channel my inner Brooke Brown and just DO it!  :)  I think I'll force myself to jump in by posting an Instagram ad for my time and topic....impossible to chicken out then, huh?!  hahaha

I recently went whale watching and got SO seasick!  I do get motion sick on long, windy drives and really turbulent flights and this 2 hour boat excursion was no different.  BOO!  Luckily, misery loves company and the two other mommies on the trip were as nauseous as me.  Three families headed out bright-eyed and ocean ready to celebrate a little one's birthday, and thankfully only the mommies were feeling the yuckiness.  I'm happy to report I kept my lunch in place and made it back to land in one queasy piece.  No whales were spotted, but we saw a few pods of dolphins and sting rays and the trip ended on a fun note for everyone!

November for my district is when the grading window is open to post grades.  The window closes before Thanksgiving break, so we need to complete our assessments and get grades inputted in the next few weeks.  We hand report cards out at our conferences in early December.

And, yes, I am one of those pumpkin loving Pinterest gals pinning everything pumpkin right now.  I do admit that pumpkin ice cream is NOT the best tasting thing Dreyer's has ever made {I like my pumpkin warm and toasty}, but pumpkin bagels are my guilty carb pleasure....yum!

Happy November!

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