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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Leap Day Sale on Teachers Pay Teachers!

We're having a site-wide sale to celebrate Leap Year!  Everything is 10% off when you use promo code L2P9Y at checkout.  THEN, many sellers are offering additional sales.  My store will be an additional 20% off, for a total discount of 28%!!!  

But, if you add things to your wishlist, be sure not to add them to your cart directly from your list.  You'll want to go to the item page, then add it to your cart.  The last time we had a large sale, items from the wishlist were coming up without the sale price!  I really don't know if that will be a problem this time, but I thought I'd let you know just in case.  


If you are also offering an addition sale in your TPT store, please feel free to post your link in the comments.  
Readers, be sure to check out the comments list to see who has some great stuff on sale!  
Thanks again for reading!
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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

It's Not Too Late to Learn Mandarin---Well, Not for the Kids, Anyway!

     My husband's family speaks Cantonese.  As you may have noticed, a Cantonese phrase or word makes it on here now and again because, frankly, it usually isn't made clear to me which language I am being taught.  Before I learned any Mandarin, my mother-in-law would prompt me with what to say for special occasions, usually giving me 2 choices of what to say.  She did not, however, mention that one was Cantonese and the other Mandarin.  So, I learned some words and phrases in Cantonese first.  Forgive me if they appear once in a while!  The way I look at it is, at least I learned SOMETHING!

     So I started out trying to learn Cantonese.  I bought some tapes and a couple of books and really tried.  That is until I hit a couple of major road blocks.  The biggest one was that Pimsleur only had 1 set of Cantonese CDs as opposed to 3 sets of many other languages (Swahili, anyone?), including Mandarin.  Even if I worked hard, there was no room for advancement!  Doomed before I had even started!  Another one was that every relative kept telling me how Cantonese usage was quickly being replaced by Mandarin, even in Chicago's Chinatown, which (according to them) was predominately Cantonese-speaking 20 years ago.  Who wants to spend time and effort teaching their kids a language that maybe only a few people will speak someday? they'd say.  Pretty effective argument, I'd say.   And forget about finding a class in Cantonese in the burbs!  Even the Mandarin class I signed up for at a local college got cancelled due to lack of interest.  (Lack of interest?  really?)

     The truth is that, for a while, I gave up.  My husband wasn't even intent on teaching them Chinese (although he is "on board" now).   We visited a non-profit Chinese school about 2 years ago, only to be discouraged by some other parents we met and overwhelmed by the commitment that it would obviously take.  Believe it or not, during this time I actually bought some Spanish books!  It was my minor in college, so I thought I'd just take a ride down the easiest road.  But, I found that I just wasn't enthused to teach them a language that had no connection to their ethnic & cultural heritage.  Then, one day, I was looking at my tiniest one and I just thought, "It's not too late for him.  Or for any of them, really.  In fact, my daughter isn't even 4 yet . . ."  The search for a way to learn Mandarin was born!    

     And here we are, not even a year later, with 2 kids in Language Stars*  reciting poems at family dinners and (cross your fingers here) actually learning the language.  I am SO proud of them!

One of last week's Language Stars activities:  Labeling the family.  It has to be confusing, though, because
what I call my mother-in-law in Cantonese is the Mandarin word for grandma.  But, my kids call
her something totally different!  Yet, some of the titles are the same . . .

     I'm proud of myself, too, you know.  It takes commitment, a little sacrifice (of sleep, mostly), and plain old determination to give your kids something that no one else in the family has:  Mandarin.

     Or do they?   I was pretty excited tonight (and a little perplexed, as well) to hear my mother-in-law speaking on the phone in Mandarin. "So you DO speak Mandarin, " I kidded her once she got off the phone.  I knew it all along, but this was the first time I actually HEARD her.  (I mean, she grew up in China, so how could she NOT speak at least SOME Mandarin?)  Granted, she obviously did quite a bit of word searching and spoke slower than in Cantonese (again obvious if even I heard the difference), but she can speak it well enough to carry on a conversation.  So, now, if she'll only converse a little more with the grandchildren . . . Perhaps I'll put it to her another way:  Who do you think speaks better Mandarin, me or you?  We ALL know the answer to that one!

Thanks for reading,

     *We get 50% off our tuition for blogging about our Language Stars experience.  But the opinions expressed here are my own.  I LOVE the Language Stars classes!  
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Monday, February 20, 2012

Dollar Store Diva, a New Game, & An Old FREEBIE!

     I was very disappointed the other day when I took my husband to the Dollar Tree for the first time.  He was not impressed and simply could not understand why I LOVE that store!  I think it is just the best dollar store ever and a gold mine for teachers!  With that said, I have to share about my latest finds from the dollar spot at Target . . .  

     I really like making games for my classroom, both for classroom use and to send home for extra practice.  I have recently discovered that the most popular ones (the ones students ask for) are the ones (no surprise) that come with little dinosaurs, cars, and other toys.  So, I have been on the lookout for little toys or objects that match each game to use as game pieces.  Last weekend I found these (aren't they adorable?!):

Cute little food erasers I found at Target
     These erasers were just too cute to pass up--especially for only $1!  And, since they didn't match any existing game I had, I just HAD to make a new game to match them!  I got some really cute Alice Smith graphics from digiwebstudio.com.  My students need sight word and fluency practice right now, so I created a sight word sentence game.  It has 3 levels of sight word sentences for PreK to 3rd.  I just laminated a set for my own class yesterday and here's how it turned out:
Soda Shop Sight Word Sentence Game--CLICK HERE TO VIEW
     It's on sale for 50% off right now ($1.50) and I extended the sale thru Sunday, February 26th so those of you who follow my blog will have a chance to get it for cheap!  Can you see the little erasers on start?  Won't my students just love it?!  I think so.  I'm excited to take it to school this week!

     I found another set of adorable erasers, too.  Lucky for me, they matched an existing game.  And, lucky for you, it's a FREEBIE!  It's an old product of mine, but it's great for students who have just learned to merge letter sounds.  Click on the caption below the Bunny Hop Game picture to get the freebie if you don't already have it:  

Bunnys, carrots and a frog, OH MY!  
FREE Bunny Hop CVC Reading Game---CLICK HERE TO VIEW

     So if you're at Target this week, be sure to check out the Dollar Spot.  You never know what educationally useful materials you might discover!

As always,  thanks for reading!


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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

!!!WINNERS of the Valentine Hop Giveaway!!!!

     I hope everyone had a very happy Valentine's Day.  I know that the holiday is about to get even "sweeter" for a few lucky folks!   All of the winners were chosen using Random.org.  I will send an email out to them ASAP, but here's the list:
      1st place winners get to pick 3 items from my store (regardless of price):
                   "The Hills,"  Colleen & Terri

     2nd place winners get to pick any 2 items:
                   Brianne & Ali

    3rd place gets to pick any 1 item:

Congratulations, everybody!  Have fun picking your items!  The link to my store is on the right hand side of the blog.  FYI for everyone else, I'm having a BIG SALE that ends today, so you might want to check it out!

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Monday, February 13, 2012

All Things Spring & A St. Patrick's Day FREEBIE!

     It's still snowing in Chicago.  In fact, it's supposed to snow more today!  Not that we've gotten that much snow, so I guess I shouldn't be complaining, but I was ready for spring before the first snowflake fell!   So, it comes as no surprise that I already have several new spring products.  You can check out a couple of them on the last page of my St. Patrick's Day freebie.  Or, click on the caption below this picture to view my Spring Word Work Pack.


     The FREEBIE is a beginning/guided reading book with 3 versions:  easier, more difficult, & no words with lines so older students can write their own story!  It can be used in PreK to 3rd.  The pages will copy back to back, as well, to save paper!   If you like it, please take a minute to check out my store and become a follower.  I always offer my new items at 50% off so those who keep up with my store will always get the best price!
      Anyway, click on the caption below the picture to get your copy of my latest FREEBIE!  Thanks for reading!

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

New Year Poems

     Gong Hay Fat Choy!  Happy New Year a little late!  Happy year of the dragon!

     I cannot tell you how many people asked me what we did to celebrate the new year.  Did you go downtown to see the parade?  Did you see the lion dance?  Well, my husband's aunt & uncle hosted a new year's dinner in Chinatown.  We had a good time visiting with relatives, ate some great food at Lee Wing Wah, and had awesome bubble tea from Joy Yee's.  Apart from that, we didn't really celebrate.  Maybe when it's not so cold during the celebrations.  Maybe when the kids are older . .

     But, we did sort of celebrate in our own way.  We greeted everyone who would listen with our latest poems in Mandarin.  My daughter learned a Chinese New Year poem/greeting about the dragon flying in.  My son recited the current poem that we're learning at Language Stars.*  My daughter learned the same poem a couple months earlier and I guess he was really listening.  One day, he just started reciting it! So, it was pretty easy for him to perfect when it was his turn to cover it in class.

The poem my son currently recites for everyone!
     They both said their poems for relatives at the party and received hóng bāo , or red envelopes with "lucky money" in them.  (It's all lucky money if you ask me, red envelope or not!).  Some of the envelopes are very fancy.  My youngest son got one with hamsters on it, too.  You can't tell from the picture, but the envelopes have shiny, gold characters and accents.  

hóng bāo  that the children received

     Reciting poems and singing songs helps remind me of how much they are learning.  It also helps to reinforce their learning by rewarding them with praise and attention when they recite things for family and friends.  They are so proud to be learning Chinese!  I don't think they fully understand yet the connection of the language to their heritage, but someday they will.  It is my dream that one day we will visit China together and that one or all of them will be able to translate for me.  I have promised them a trip if they work hard on their Chinese.  (They don't really understand that such a trip is years away.)  Can you imagine celebrating the New Year in China?  Someday . . .  

Thanks for reading,

*We get 50% off our tuition for blogging about our Language Stars experience.  I always knew my long-windedness would come in handy!  

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Sunday, February 5, 2012

I've Been Tagged!

Apparently, there is such a thing as blogger tag!  Mary Beth over at Run, Teacher, Run!  tagged me!  

Here are the rules:

1. You must post the rules. 
2. Post 12 fun facts about yourself on the blog post.
3. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post, and then create 12 new questions for the people you tagged.
4. Tag 12 people and link them on your post.
5. Let them know you've tagged them!

12 Fun Facts...
1. Like Mary Beth, I also like to run, although I've been too busy making teacher stuff lately!
2. I am a HUGE coffee lover!
3. I love chocolate even more than I love coffee!
4. If it were socially acceptable, I would wear pajamas 24/7.
5.  I drive a van that doubles as a closet.  If you need ANYTHING, it's probably in my van!
6.  I always complain about not having enough time to watch tv (I'm a big tv fan, as opposed to movies).  My husband laughs and proceeds to name the 6 or 7 shows that I DVR and watch on a regular basis!
7.  I am a huge Walgreens shopper.  I love their sales!
8.  I'm one of those "couponers" that everyone always hates getting stuck in line behind.  But, if you knew how much money I save, you'd do it, too!
9.  I have "food rules" that my family thinks are really funny.  For example, you MUST eat noodles with chopsticks.  If a hot dog has a bun, I have to eat it with mustard.  If there is no bun, I eat it with ketchup.
10. My computer goes everywhere with me.  
11.  I have a southern accent.  I have lived in Illinois long enough that it's usually not obvious.  But, when I go back home or talk to my mom on the phone, you can really hear it!  
12.  I have sooooo many books!  At home, at school, for me, for my kids, and on and on!  I just cannot resist buying a good book!

Here are the 12 questions that were left for me . . .

1. What is your favorite thing about the blogging world?
     Collaborating with other teachers is the best!
2. What is one thing you would tell a 1st year teacher?
     Always have a plan B (and sometimes a plan C)
3. If you could do whatever you wanted without going back to school, what would you choose?
     I would want to be in law enforcement.  
4. What is the best concert you've been to?
     Counting Crows (Like, a zillion years ago!)
5. When did you realize you wanted to be a teacher?
     A little late in life.  I was working on my doctorate in school psych and had to shadow the school psychologist.  He had a meeting and left me in a first grade classroom helping her cut out materials.  When he came back, I didn't want to leave!  
6. Who was your most inspiring teacher, and why?
     I was lucky enough to have several.  Mrs. Howard encouraged me to write.  Mr. Evans encouraged me to be creative.  Mrs. Johnson helped me navigate those awkward junior high years!
7. What is your favorite unit that you've created for TN or TpT or that you've bought?
    I LOVE my Word Work Packs.  I'm using them at home with my preschooler as she learns to read, as well as at school.  
8. Where do you like to shop for your teaching clothes?
    Kohl's and JC Penny.  
9. How do you use parents in your classroom?
     We have parents come in to help with art projects and parties.  
10. What is your favorite holiday to celebrate in your classroom?
     Valentine's Day!  Yay!
11. What is the best date you've been on?  
     When my husband proposed to me!  We went out for a practice run the day before my first marathon.   
12. What is one thing you'd change about your house, apartment, town home, etc.?
     I have always wanted a house that had red trim on the outside.   

Here are my questions for the bloggers I tag . . .

1.  Where's your favorite place to shop?
2.  What's your favorite book to use in the classroom?
3.  What's your favorite grown-up book?
4.  What's the funniest thing that ever happened to you?
5.  What do you like best about blogging?
6.  What piece of technology could you not do without?
7.  If you weren't teaching, what do you think you would be doing?
8.  How many students are in your class this year?
9.  What's your favorite topic/unit/subject to teach?
10. What is your #1 hobby?  

Here are the wonderful blogs I have tagged.  Pay them a visit if you get a chance!

1. "A Place Called Kindergarten"
2. "Mrs. Bee's Kindergarten"
3. "Ashleigh's Education Journey"
4."Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas"
5. "Flapjack Educational Resources"
6."Frog Spot"
7. "The Crazy Pre-K Classroom" 
8. "Nyla's Crafty Teaching"

Thanks for reading!

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