Monday, June 29, 2015

Back to School Bundle!

In addition to the few beginning-of-year resources I have in my TpT Store, I needed to make a few more things for this upcoming year. I thought, "Why not roll everything into one back-to-school 'bundle' so other teachers can load up?" (Somehow I keep seeing and hearing the word "bundle" everywhere... why is it such a buzzword right now?) So, that's exactly what I did!

CLICK HERE to check it out!

In addition to the tried-and-true icebreaker activities, the bundle includes a couple forms to help get you organized at the start of the year. (If you're like me, the beginning of the year is when you are MOST organized! It's a great feeling that may not last too long!) One of those forms is my "Parent Contact Quick Sheet."

I know there are a lot of these parent contact sheets already out there, but I wanted mine to include the parents' preferred method of contact. Are they married to their email? Are they always on-the-go and attached to their cell phone? Or is the home phone number a sure way to get in touch? One of my goals this year is to communicate with parents in a manner that is most convenient for them. Of course, sometimes a mid-day call on the cell phone is necessary, but how nice would it be to follow an "at-a-glance" guide reminding me how each parent prefers to hear from me? This will be a great start to building a positive rapport. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Talk About 'Em Tuesday!

I'm linking up with Little Lovely Leaders to celebrate and promote fantastic small businesses!

I dedicate this "Talk About 'Em Tuesday" to a very special fourth grade teacher! After harassing asking her to start putting her (good as gold) resources on Teachers Pay Teachers, my good friend, Elissa, has finally launched her own TpT Store:

Elissa has activities for all subjects; ranging from themed print-outs ("Franken-fractions," colorful birthday certificates, etc.) to hard-to-find fourth grade reading resources (1st vs. 3rd person narrator, anyone?) Although she is super creative in making all of her products beautiful, you will find that the content and "meat" of all her instructional materials is truly the best part! She has several freebies, and everything else is priced very reasonably! I hope you keep Feeling Fab in Fourth in mind as you stock up on teaching goodies this summer!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Summer of Stocking Up

I adore summer! It's a well-deserved break, I get to spend more time with my sweet boy, I lose track of what day/time it is, and I finally have time to update the ol' blog! I also love "stocking up" over the summer. This usually consists of spending countless hours on Etsy, TpT, Pinterest, and of course, my long-awaited annual trip to IKEA! (This is where I really need to show some self-control, so I always bring a sensible friend!) This year, my must-have is a new "Roberget" desk chair for my classroom. It goes right along with my picnic theme and matches my folding chairs, too! Check out this beauty:

ROBERGET Swivel chair IKEA You sit comfortably since the chair is adjustable in height.
Photo courtesy of

How cute is that?! 

What are you stocking up on this summer? If you're already on the hunt for beginning-of-year activities, I've created a new version of my #1 favorite: "Four Corners!" This low-prep, highly engaging ice breaker has proven to be a student favorite year after year! After posting the "4 corners" signs around the classroom, the teacher reads aloud thought-provoking statements (included in the download). Students then move to the appropriate corner to show their position (agree, disagree, strongly agree, or strongly disagree) on the topic! Once the whole class has moved to a corner, you can invite students to share their positions and use it as a way to introduce some classroom expectations and goals. This is a great way to get to know your new students and help build an open, positive community. You can also keep the signs posted throughout the year for students to respond to future statements (informal quizzes, reflection activities, brain breaks, etc.) 

CLICK HERE to download the ready-to-go activity on TpT!

As you know, it's better to have too much planned at the start of the school year than not enough. "Four Corners" has always topped my list of things to do on the first week of school with my brand new class. Have fun soaking up the sun and stocking up on teacher goodies this summer! (An IKEA trip wouldn't hurt, either!)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Teachers Really ARE Heroes!

I'm so excited to participate in TpT's "Teachers Are Heroes" sale! Everything in my store (excluding items that are already free, of course...) will be 20% off tomorrow! Thank you for all you do, heroes!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Grammar is Greatness!

Education trends come and go, but we should never lose sight of our best judgement and common sense. Recently, I've noticed that elementary writing teachers are being encouraged to value content over grammar when evaluating their students' writing. I wholeheartedly agree with this. I've always felt strongly that voice, above all, is really what makes a piece of writing effective and memorable. However, I hope this isn't an ideal that gets widely misinterpreted by busy, time-constraint-ridden teachers such as myself. Grammar still needs to be explicitly taught, practiced, and somehow assessed; starting in the primary grades. This is where using your best judgement comes in. I really hope that grammar isn't turning into the "new handwriting." (I fear the repercussions if it gradually disappears from our curriculum.)

Decent grammar can be just as essential to effectively communicating a written message as the content itself. I think as long as grammar lessons are engaging and the teacher is knowledgeable, grammar can be effectively taught without discouraging or burning out our young writers! It's all about making time for it, weaving it into our shared writing sessions, being excited about it, and having lots (and lots) of patience. So, here's to the kindergarten teacher who works with her whole class every day on capital vs. lowercase until she's blue in the face. Here's to the third grade teacher who, when faced with three pages of "sentences" with no punctuation whatsoever, takes a deep breath and sits beside her student to help him find the missing periods; even if that means going back to nouns and verbs. Here's to the fourth grade teacher who still enthusiastically slings her students classic spelling tricks such as, "Drop the 'e' and add '-ing!'" or "'I' before 'e' except after 'c,' or when sounded as '-ay' as in 'neighbor' or 'weigh.'" Our hard work WILL pay off; although we may not always have the pleasure of witnessing it. Let's make a New Year's resolution to keep grammar in the classroom; even when no one is keeping tabs!

In the spirit of the greatness that is grammar, I created a new flipchart to teach good ol' homophones!

Click HERE to download this grammar goodness. Happy New Year!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Picnic Perfect

Now that I finally have some time to update my lonesome blog, I am so excited to show you my newly-minted, picnic-themed classroom! For the past six years, I sported a black and yellow theme. I adored it, especially since yellow is my favorite color, but I felt that it was just time for a change. I still have so much more I want to do/buy, but my budget forced me to hit the brakes. Anyway, here's what I have for now! If you're interested in incorporating the picnic theme into your classroom (or any room), be sure to read the bottom of this post for more inspiration!

Mrs. McMurrough's "Office!"

I had to bring my family to school! Burlap frame from Target

The Writing Process on a wall

Since I'm self-contained this year, I went ahead and labeled my books by genre. I found these great labels by Cheryl Smith on TpT.

I had a similar "Writer of the Week" nook before I changed up my theme. The silk bouquet is actually my matron-of-honor bouquet from my best friend's wedding.

I love these colorful, user-friendly parts of speech posters by Colleen Analiz on TpT. Pages from a mini-notepad make for cheap and precious locker tags! My local Mardel had a great "sunshine" one.

Here's where I have to toot my own horn: "TOOT TOOT!" Download these writing traits posters from my TpT Store!

It was so easy to turn paper plates plates, plasticware, and scrapbook paper into the tastiest table numbers I've ever seen!

The 3 most important posters in my room!

Got this "antsy" idea from a Pinterest pin,which linked here!

If you follow my blog, you know that the picnic theme was born with this bulletin board! This is one of the few spots where I display student work, which is so important! Burlap borders make a huge mess when you put them up, but it was totally worth it!

A cozy spot for read-alouds! I love my bandana whiteboard eraser and FRODE chair, which was only $10.99 from IKEA!

Talk about a storage solution! Picnic baskets at each table give students quick access to the supplies they'll need for the day! (Plus, they're adorable!) I ordered mine online from World Market.

The pencil caddies were a lucky find from the Target Dollar Spot.

Focus boards are great for self-contained teachers! I love posting objectives right above anchor charts to keep everything in one place. The kids always know where to look.

Hard work paid off! I LOVE the picnic theme, and my kids do, too!

It's the little things...

...and the sweet things. These buddies were yet another great IKEA find.

Thinking about a picnic theme? Here are my top 5 reasons why I've grown to love it:

1.  Picnics are like classrooms; the more variety, the better. Everyone brings something different to the table (no pun intended) in our classroom community. On the first day of school, I shared this metaphor with my new homeroom class right after we played the Picnic Name Game. I hope to make this a little tradition.

2. Who doesn't love food?! Seriously.

3. Picnic baskets are fantastic storage solutions for the "little things" such as scissors, glue sticks, pencils, sorting cards, flashcards, etc. that you don't always have time to pass out. I love being able to say, "If you reach inside your picnic basket, you will find..." I'd like to think it gives the students a little extra anticipation to learn.

4. Speaking of ANT-icipation, ants are a fun accent! I bought an ant stamp from JoAnne's Fabrics, and he appears on student work, agendas, and at the bottom of parent letters from time to time.

5. You can whip out a bottle of ketchup as a visual anytime your students need some "catch-up" time on their work! (Strangely enough, the whole idea of having "ketchup time" is WHY I adopted the picnic theme in the first place!)

Do you have a classroom theme that you're crazy about? I would love to see it! Please feel free to comment on this post with a link to your blog or photos of your classroom.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

TpT Back-to-School Boost

It's about that time! I'll be participating in the Teachers Pay Teachers Back-to-School Boost. On August 20, everything in my TpT Store will be 20% off. There are plenty of freebies, too!

Happy Back-to-School!