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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Valentine Blog Hop Giveaway!

Join in the Valentine Fun...

First of all, a big thank you to Lisa Frase of Effective Teaching Articles for coming up with the Brilliant "Valentine Blog Hop" idea!  I'm going to make a happy day even happier with a freebie and some winners!  

VISIT THE VALENTINE BLOG HOP HOSTING BLOG BY CLICKING  THE BIG APPLE ! You'll find tons of other freebies and blogs to visit with more freebies and giveaways at the bottom of the page!

Just in case you missed one of my recent Valentine Freebies,
What can you win?
     This contest runs from Feb 1st thru the 14th with the winners announced on the 15th (chosen with random.org).  So, since we're celebrating the 14th, I'm giving away 14 ITEMS from my store!  The winners will get to pick any item(s) from my TPT store, regardless of price.  
     3 FIRST PLACE winners will get to pick 3 items each.
     2 SECOND PLACE winners will get to pick 2 items each.
     1 THIRD PLACE winner will get to pick 1 item from my store.
That makes a total of 14 ITEMS!!!  

How to Enter My GIVEAWAY: 

1. FOLLOW MY TPT STOREBe or become a follower of my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.  Look for the link to the right.   Leave a comment below saying so (don't forget your email address).   BTW, when you become a follower, you receive emails when I post new items.  My new items are always 50% off for 3 days and some are even FREE for the first few hours, so followers always get the best price!                        

2. FOLLOW MY BLOG: Be or become a follower and leave a comment below (don't forget your email address).  

3. BLOG, FACEBOOK, etc. about this contest for 2 ENTRIES: This takes a little more work, so it counts as 2 entries!  Let others know about this contest in some way and leave 2 SEPARATE COMMENTS below about it (don't forget your email address).  

Don't forget to leave separate comments for each of your entries.

(Submissions close in 1d 8h 13m)
Link tool by inlinkz.com
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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Ways to Make 10 Game and 2 Recording Sheet FREEBIES!!!

     I have this very simple game that I added to my math center.  If your students aren't already playing it, they will LOVE it!  It happened because, though doing math journals with my class, I realized that they had a lot of trouble finding the number that, when added to another number, makes 10.  So I pulled my Christmas/winter erasers from another game and got a cute winter-themed box from my mother-in-law and created a simple (yet very appealing) game.  

     Here's how to play:     You give students 10 small objects like the erasers above.  One student has all 10 and the box.  The student lays out all 10 (to show an array), then asks the other student to close his/her eyes.  The first student then takes a number of objects and hides them in the box.  The second student then has to guess how many are in the box.  Or, put another way:  How many objects, when added to the number they see, equal 10?  

    My students just LOVE this super simple game!  Someone is always playing it!  So, I made some recording sheets to go with it.  There are 2 sets, one for winter and one for Valentine's Day.  I saw some adorable heart erasers at Jewel last week and now I get to go buy them and find a box!  



     I hope your students love this game as much as mine do!   
     Thanks for reading!

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

My "Spring Word Work Pack" and a FREEBIE!

     My "Spring Word Work Pack" is finished!  It's 72 pages of spring-themed word families, CVC words, and CVCe words.  Perfect for K and first and for some of your advanced preK!  If you purchased my "Winter Word Work Pack," this one has some of the same CVC pages with different clipart (there are only so many CVC words), but the CVCe and word family pages are completely new!
     Click on the links below to see my latest spring product and to get the FREE spring write the room sheets that go with it.  These are always a big hit in my literacy center!

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Wonderful, Winter-Themed Week!

    This week in our Parents & Tots class at Language Stars*, the winter theme continued.  We focused on counting objects and our activities were based on the story "The Mitten."  

    When we first started at Language Stars, I was surprised that the books we read are not in Chinese.  From the beginning, I purchased some at home and thought that this would be very important.  Don't get me wrong, I still think it's important.  I would like for my children to at least be able to read Chinese, even if they are not able to recall the details of the characters enough to write it.   But, I have seen how the teachers use books that are more readily available here to still teach Chinese.  And I have come to understand that the popularity of a book serves to keep their attention (like the week we did "Pete the Cat").  Plus, most of the time, the teacher is not actually "reading" the book, but doing more of a "picture walk," pointing out key vocabulary from the lesson.  

     Reading a book was just one of the many activities we did in class this week.   Even snack time is learning time!  Students practiced counting and number recognition while they ate.  Counting was also done several times during class with various objects, such as the maracas students use to sing with at the beginning of class.   Often, the teacher uses laminated sheets with pictures during snack time instead of objects.  It became clear to me exactly why she does this the week one little boy knocked over a whole pitcher of water!  

Counting and recognizing numbers during snack

Coloring sheets with mittens!

After snack, students complete a coloring page related to the theme of the day.   This is great for 2 reasons:  1) My son is really into coloring right now (maybe because his big sister is), so he likes coloring in class and gets another chance to hear/practice the new words, and 2)  He has a "reminder" from class to take home and hang on the fridge, allowing us to practice the words again and again.  

     But what I really like is something new that Language Stars is doing.   They are adding Chinese nursery rhymes to the curriculum.  I LOVE it!  You can hear the tones of the language better than in songs and it's a great way to learn new vocabulary!  Plus, my son LOVES performing the latest rhyme for anyone who will listen!   I'm excited to see his teacher's reaction this week when he says it for her!  

As always,
Thanks for reading!

*We get 50% off our tuition for blogging about our Language Stars progress.

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Getting Started on TPT: Making Products Video #1

    I made a short and hopefully not too boring video about getting started on TPT.  I have seen that several people are interested in how those of us already on TPT are making our products.  So, I answered the question briefly in my last blog post (including some links to graphics, backgrounds & fonts I use).  Now, I have posted a short video on how to get started making your materials using a common program, Word.
    This first video covers:
1) Formatting your document
2) Using text boxes
3) Inserting graphics
4) Making hyperlinks

If you like video #1,
Getting Started on TPT:  Making Products Video #2

Thanks for reading (and watching)!
Teacher Tam

And, if you're ready to sell on TPT, jump right in!  There's an apple icon to your right that says "Sell on TPT with me."  Here's what would happen if you click it:    TPT gets at least 15% of your sales.  I would get 5% of their share (not yours) for the first two years that you sell on TPT.  If you decide to sell on TPT, I would love it if you joined me!  
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Sunday, January 15, 2012

How I Make My Classroom Creations

     I have had several people ask me what programs, graphics, etc.  I use to create my products for Teachers Pay Teachers and Teachers Notebook.  So, I decided to take a little time on my blog to answer this question and to encourage those of you who are hesitating to join TPT or TN as a seller.  What can it hurt to give it a try?  I am not aware of any business that you can start that has such little overhead.  It's awesome!--especially if making things for your classroom is already your hobby!  Plus, it is so rewarding just knowing how you are helping save someone else some prep time and making great educational items that are being used all over the world!

    Anyway, I have been making items since I started teaching back in 1997, although things have gotten a little more sophisticated since then.  I started out drawing my own little books.  The first ones taught long vowel sounds, then I went back to do short vowel sounds and sight words.  In 2005, I wanted 4 or 5 sets of the Bob Books to use in my guided reading groups, but they are so expensive!  So, I just started writing and illustrating my own (this set of 30 is now for sale on both sites).  I wanted to make as many copies as I needed and give them to whoever I wanted without worrying about copyright.  Of course, the only way I could do that was to be the author and illustrator!  But, I have to admit that I was hooked from there.

    Back to the question:  What program(s) do I use?  I just use plain old Word.  I put everything (text, pictures) in a text box and just remove the outline of the box.  Sometimes Word seems to have a mind of its own as to placement of text and pictures, so this makes it possible for me to put everything exactly where I want it or even overlap the pictures (png files).  After I have it created, I go to print and choose PDF, "Save as PDF" to make it a PDF file so it cannot be changed and the graphics cannot be extracted (because they are no longer my own). UPDATE: I started using iPages in 2014. It works almost exactly the same as Word, just better. There is no need for text boxes for graphics since you can drag and drop your graphics. I know that a lot of other teacher authors use powerpoint, but I found that this program did not work for my purposes.

    Next question:  Where do your graphics come from?  I have a Bamboo tablet to draw with and I create some of my own graphics with a program called "Rita."  Sorry, but it's Mac only, although plain old "Paint" on the PCs does pretty well.  "Rita" costs $20 to download online and it is SOOOOO easy to use and the graphics look pretty good.

   But, drawing my own graphics took way too much time.  I still draw some, but now I purchase most of them.  The 2 main things I look for on the graphics terms of use page are:  1) Can I use these graphics for my freebies?  and 2) Do I need to purchase an extra commercial use license?   (There are many other things to think about, of course, such as giving credit to the artist, but just read all the terms of use and follow it and you'll be okay.)  I like these 5 stores:

Educlips:      I absolutely LOVE her work! This is my favorite clipart shop! The terms of use are easy, too.

KPM Doodles                      She has some really cute stuff.  You
                                             can use it in your freebies and you can buy sets with full color & line art.

Creative Clips:     This is another favorite shop of mine! I really like to have the full color and black and white versions available in the same set. I also appreciate the clear, bold lines of the blacklines.

From the Pond                     She's a teacher-author-illustrator on TPT.  She recently started making more             graphics.  I just purchased some today!  There are a lot of freebies, too!

openclipart.org                    This site has clip art that is all public domain.  There are some great pics on here, the only problem is that they do not enlarge well.

     My suggestion to you is to invest in some graphics.  The more I sell, the more graphics I buy, then the more things I create and the more stuff I sell!
     And fonts . . . well, that seems a little trickier to me.  I have purchased a huge set of 10,000 for $20 from Ultimatefontdownload.  It has some cool ones, but I have not yet found THE font for me.  I looked into others, but they appear to be about $10 each and I'm not prepared to pay that just yet. You can find some fonts available on TPT for good prices. I have a couple of free fonts in my shop, too.

    Well, that's an overview of the program(s) I use and the clipart I buy.  If you have any more questions, just ask away below and I will try to answer them!

     There's an apple icon to your right that says "Sell on TPT with me."  Here's what would happen if you click it:    TPT gets at least 15% of your sales.  I would get 5% of their share (not yours) for the first two years that you sell on TPT.  If you decide to sell on TPT, I would love it if you joined me!  And don't worry:  We have a very active sellers community on TPT.  Lots of people contribute to the seller's forum so there are many teachers to answer questions and offer advice.  I have learned a great deal from just reading and participating on the forum.

Thanks again for reading and I hope you found this helpful!
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Friday, January 13, 2012

Cut-and-Glue Sentences for Spring and a FREEBIE!

     I just finished my latest product, "Cut-and-Glue Sight Word Sentences for Spring!"  It's a new version (new clip art, novel sentences) of my popular Cut-and-Glue Sight Word Sentences series.   Here are a couple of pictures from the Halloween version:

     Students not only work on sight words with this product, but they also learn punctuation, capitalization, and sentence structure--all while improving their fine motor skills by cutting and gluing!  
My students learn so much and enjoy doing these, so I think everybody's class should get some free pages!  So, while I was debating whether or not to offer a freebie, my 4-year-old daughter said, "Make a freebie, Mom!"  Even though I'm not sure she really knows what that means, it sounded good to me!  
     In my store on Teachers Pay Teachers, you get a page of each type of cut-and-glue sentence by clicking on the "Download Preview" button on the product page.  But this time, you can have 2 free pages THAT ARE DIFFERENT FROM THE PURCHASED PRODUCT (so if you buy it, you'll have 12 unique pages, not just a repeat page from the product).  The sentences on one page have 5 words each, while the sentences on the other page have 6 words each to allow for differentiation. 
Click on the caption below the picture to visit GoogleDocs and GET YOUR FREEBIE!  


Click here to see the new product
(It's on sale thru midnight on Monday for only $1!)
Thanks for reading!
Hope you enjoy the freebie!

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Bears and "Big" Writing

     My son is really learning a lot in our Parents and Tots Language Stars* class.  He's bringing more and more words home every week.   I heard him saying "wash hands" in Chinese yesterday as he was playing.  He also repeats phrases used in class and likes saying that things are big or small in Mandarin.
     He especially enjoyed this week's activities.  The theme was dressing for winter.  You should have seen his eyes light up when the teacher pulled teddy bears from her bag!  He pays absolutely no attention to any stuffed animals at home, but in class you would have thought it was his favorite toy ever!  Other kids evidently felt the same.  One little girl even carried her bear around for the whole class period!  

      The teacher had the cutest little outfits for the bears.  Each piece of clothing corresponded to a winter clothing word we were working on for the week.  Here's a picture of my son's bear with his shoes and gloves on:  

Bear with his xuē zi (boots) and shǒu tào (gloves)

                                                                Giving his bear a hug!

        After dressing the bears, we then took the clothes off and put them on a clothesline.  It seems simple, but the little ones liked the tiny clothespins.  They are just hard enough for little hands to be novel and interesting!  Plus, it provided students with yet another opportunity to hear and use their new clothing words.  I think this is what I found most impressive:  Class is arranged to provide children with the chance to practice the vocabulary words as many times as possible.  I didn't count, but I am sure that each new word was presented at least 20 to 30 times--even enough for me to catch on!

A cute little clothesline with tiny bear clothes

      Not only am I hearing my son bring many of the words he is learning home, but he is also showing interest in writing Chinese.  Class is only part of the influence;  watching his big sister is the rest.  When it was time for her to write her one character for the day, he insisted on doing a page, as well.  I have to admit that I didn't think he could do it.  Boy did he surprise me!  He can't hold the pen quite right yet, but he did an amazing job.  

My son does some big boy writing.
Appropriately, the word is dà, or BIG!

     I am so proud of my son and his progress.   I am so thankful that my children are able to go to classes at Language Stars and get an early start on their Mandarin!  

Thanks for reading!

*We receive 50% off our tuition for blogging about our experiences in class.  

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A FREE Sample of my Back-to-School Math Prompts

Check out my latest creation, Back-to-School Math Journal Prompts for Kindergarten.  
My students have really benefited from the other sets I made (for Christmas/holidays and the winter set), so I thought I'd make some more!

You can download 5 of the Back-to-school prompts for FREE on GoogleDocs.  They will work well in prek and kindergarten, or serve as a beginning of the year review for first graders.  They are just school-themed, so you could even use them now if you like!  
Click on the caption below the picture to get your freebie:
CLICK here to get 5 free prompts
As always,
Thanks for reading!

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Friday, January 6, 2012

Announcing the Winners of the New Year's Giveaway!

Wow!  Just picking the winners took some time!  First of all, let me say hi to all my new followers.  Thank you so much for participating in this contest!  Even if you didn't win, hopefully you'll find some good  freebies on my blog and in my TPT and TN stores!

Here's how I numbered the entries:    I was a little late in posting my contest info.  Because of this, I had 2 entries on my previous post (because the link to my blog was given as a contest site on other blogs).  I included these as #1 and #2, so the comments on the contest post started with #3.  I thought it was only fair since it was my fault :(

Anyway, here are the winners (I will be emailing them shortly!):

The 3 Third Place Winners Are:

Congratulations to Brianne, Kim, & Kelly B (aka Queen Bee)!  

The 2 Second Place Winners Are:

                                           Congratulations Meghan and Kelsey!

The First Place Winner Is (drum roll, please) :

Enjoy picking out all your items!

Remember, the Third Place Winners choose 1 item (total) from any store.  The Second Place Winners choose 2 items (total) from any store.  The First Place Winner chooses an item from each store (for a total of 12 items)!  
Here are the participating blogs/ stores to choose your item(s) from:



Again, thank you so much for participating in our big contest!  
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