Friday, June 23, 2017

What I've Been Up To!

Hi and happy Friday!!!  I am just returning from a 9-day trip to Sandals Negril, Jamaica and wanted to share some photos from the trip!  It was an amazing adventure!  My husband and I went to our first Sandals resort last summer for our 10th anniversary and fell in love.  We went to St. Lucia {Grande Resort}.  While on property, we booked a trip for Jamaica for this year!  And we may or may not have booked another trip for next year!  Look out, Nassau, Bahamas!  We are hooked!  Sandals is need to worry about money while you are there.  All drinks, food, water sports, and entertainment are included.  The only things you pay for are off-property excursions and souvenir shopping.  Oh, and the spa, which is to die for.  

Our view each day!
We found tons of sea life right off the shore.   PS-that's not my hand!  LOL!


Cliff diving {there was no way I was going to do this after my shoulder surgery!}

Clear water

Turquoise water at the cliff diving site

Anniversary dinner on the beach


Sunset photo

#onelove in Jamaica, Mon

One of the many pools/hot tubs

Hand-carved art--I wanted all of it!

The lobby of our resort

Swim-up suites

This drink was incredible--fresh coconut water with coconut rum!

Banana tree

Hope your summer is amazing!  Are you traveling?  Where to?  Leave me a comment below!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Guided Reading BUNDLE: Summer Prep

If you have been following me for a few years now, you know that I have a large, first grade (and kindergarten) guided reading bundle for sale in my TpT store. This bundle took me 6 months to create!  It is certainly the most extensive thing I have ever created.  This bundle includes activities for pre-readers through levels j/k.  The reason it includes packs for those not yet reading and those below grade level is because of what I've lived the past 13 years.  I have never had more than 4-5 kids come to me in August reading "at grade level."  It just doesn't happen.  I work in a very low, Title I school district.  The majority of our incoming kindergartners have never been to pre-school and our building is their first school setting.  I get a WIDE range of learners from non readers to the occasional above grade level reader.  I know that having just 4 kids come to you on grade level is probably not the norm everywhere.  However, every teacher gets a wide range of learners.  So that's the backstory behind why my pack is technically a k/1 bundle.

I have received wonderful feedback on my guided reading packs over the last two years, so today I wanted to take some time to share what all is included and how I choose to use it in my first grade classroom.  *Before I get into the meat and potatoes, I want to let you know that if you are interested in purchasing this bundle, do it THIS SUMMER!  There is a lot of prep required as far as printing and laminating/cutting goes.  Summer is a fantastic opportunity for prep!  We all like to have grand ideas of doing things "in the fall," but when fall rolls around and a thousand other things come up, our "plans" don't go as planned!  So if you have the time this summer, I strongly recommend taking full advantage and getting this bundle ready for your classroom!  You will be SO HAPPY that you did!

As I mentioned above, this bundle includes activities for pre-readers through levels j/k.  Each pack is somewhere between 100-150 pages.  Most levels are their own individual entity, but some are combined.  Each pack has activities carefully selected and created to match that specific level's needs. For example, in the pre-reader pack, you'll find many alphabet ID and beginning sound activities.  In the level E pack, you'll find digraph and sight word activities.  My selection process in creating these activities was based on research as well as my 13 years experience teaching first graders how to read.

There are many games included in the packs, because everything is more fun in game-form, right? There are also flash cards and printables.  What you won't find in here are books.  I  do not have experience with leveling text {and honestly have no interest in learning how!!}.  I also prefer to use real books with my students during guided reading time.  I like to give them an authentic experience when learning to read.  However, I know that not everyone has that option.  I am fortunate enough to have a leveled book room at my building.  It contains packs of leveled books from pre-reader through level z.  Each teacher checks out the book sets that he/she needs and returns them when finished.  It's been a wonderful system for many years.  If you do not have access to real books, I highly recommend Reading A to Z.  A membership is pretty affordable and you can print your own books for your guided reading groups.  You can also sign up for a free trial to see if a membership is something you're interested in.

Once you've prepped the materials, you can store them in a variety of ways.  I prefer to store mine by skill, as I have a plethora of materials that I've either created of purchased over the past 13 years. I use clear tubs to keep my materials in.  When I need a specific game or activity, I go straight to the tub and grab what I need.  You can also store the materials by level in your tubs.  There are labels included in the bundle for organizing by level.  If you don't have the space or don't want to spend the money on tubs, you can always organize your materials in binders. Simply print out the included binder covers by level and add some clear sheet protectors to your binders.  Place games and printables inside them for quick access.  You can also purchase poly pockets that snap or zip shut if you want something more secure inside the binders.  The binder method is nice if you prefer to plan at home or need to plan at home for some reason.  They are great for on the go!

If you're on the fence, feel free to watch a YouTube video preview HERE or browse my other guided reading blog posts HERE.  However, I can say with certainty that this purchase is going to be an invaluable resource for many years to come! Feel free to email me with questions at


Friday, June 9, 2017

Five for Friday 6.9.17

Are you familiar with Rodan and Fields?  I have been using it for about a year now and must say that it's amazing!  I use the Micro-dermabrasion Paste and Soothe Cream because I have KP on my upper arms.  KP is a skin condition that causes little red bumps.  They can be raised or flat.  They can itch sometimes.  My KP makes me really self-conscious.  Over my adult lifetime, I've tried all kinds of expensive products for it {even stuff from my dermatologist's office!} and NOTHING has worked until I tried Rodan and Fields.  I was obviously skeptical at first, but I stuck with the products and to my surprise, they worked!!!!  My arms have never looked clearer and I feel much more confident in tank tops and dresses now.  My consultant is Emily Yost, a former teacher, who I met through the blogging and TpT world.  She now does RF full time and is a great consultant!  If you're interested in checking out all of RF products, please look Emily up on Instagram HERE or Facebook HERE.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to go to a TPT sellers event in Cincinnati.  I got to meet Adam, the CEO of TPT and see Amy, "Director of Seller Happiness" again.  It was an awesome way to network with other sellers and great to find out about new happenings at TPT!  I wanted to take something for some friends and of course the TpT staff.  A local bakery near my house makes the most amazing sugar cookies.  She does custom orders, so naturally I had to go with green apples and the white "TPT" logo!  Below are a few photos from the day!  Recognize any faces?

The hubby and I have been back at it with our bike rides this summer.  Two summers ago, we purchased road bikes and began riding.  We never imagined that we would love it so much!  Bike riding is a fun way to spend time together and get great exercise at the same time.  We ride together 2-3 times a week in the summer.  Mr. Wheeler rides by himself the other days.  Because of my shoulder surgery, I can't do much more than 30 miles right now.  My shoulder is still recovering and tires out close to 20 miles.  I really have to push to get to 30!  Speaking of bike rides, did you see my last post about where I took my Scholastic Magazine?  You'll want to click HERE to read it because there's a BIG CONTEST involved that YOU could WIN!!!!!!!

Mr. Wheeler and I will be traveling to Jamaica soon!  I've been slowly packing--like super far in advance, because I want to be sure I remember everything!  Also, I love clothes and accessories and it takes me forever to pick out the perfect outfit and all the pieces to go with it!

I have been busy with my TpT products so far this summer.  Last summer we had a death in the family and traveled a lot so I felt like I didn't get much accompolished.  This summer, I'm determined to get back at it!  So far, I've created MANY {13} more "I Have, Who Has" seasonal/thematic vocabulary card games.  I love these games because they are almost zero prep and are great time fillers.  They are also excellent for building vocab in k-2 students.  I bundled all of my "I Have, Who Has" games to save you $3.00.  You can check them out by clicking the cover below.

In addition, I have been creating more "Seasonal/Thematic Parts of Speech Sorts."  It seems like kids can always use a refresher on nouns, verbs, and adjectives.  These simple parts of speech sorts feature clear picture cards with matching word cards.  Each set also includes an optional recording sheet.  I loved using these for a literacy center last year!  Grab the *growing* bundle below and save BIG!

Happy Weekend!