November 30, 2017

Christmas Round Up 2017

It's time for our annual YTA Christmas round up!

But first, just a quick PSA for a less-stress Christmas:

A few years ago, I shared that we were trying to be really intentional this year about building in some breathing room into our holiday schedule as a family. I love that I can look back on that post and think "ahhh, we're there." Don't get me wrong, it's still a super busy season and we are still out of town every weekend from Thanksgiving to New Years. But. We are being intentional about how we spend our time with our family and it just feels right.

Do we have a perfectly decorated Christmas tree? Nope. We let the kids decorate this year and it looks like they had a bead silly string fight and the tree was the victim. But they had fun and we have great pictures that will be fun to look at 20 years from now.

Did my kids go see Santa? Not this year. But we stayed home in our pjs and drew pictures of what we wanted for Christmas...and in case you're wondering, my 5 year old daughter would lk to av u bbe- like to have a barbie- and punie- pony.

These past few years of Christmas seasons have been busy, but fun and joy-filled for our family. And I love that.

So in the hopes of making your holiday season just a little less stressful, here are some ready-made ideas from past YTA posts to put a little Merry in your Christmas.

Plan the perfect class Christmas party:

Ooo! Another super fun and simple party game is the Candy Ball

Teacher recommended Christmas gifts:

Here are some of my favorite gifts for I would LOVE to get I think kids would love to get this Christmas. Needless to say, I had a blast making these lists!

(Can I just say that I am so so so happy I spent the time making this list? I have come back to it repeatedly to get gift ideas for my kids and I'm happy to say that many of these toys are extra time-tested and YTA Mama approved now!)

{RAKs} Random Act of Kindness ideas for Christmas:

Each month, we did a random act of kindness in our classroom. Find out more about how to start a RAK club in your room.

Two RAKs you could do this holiday season:

   1. Create decorations to give away (see pic above).

Last minute gift-giving idea: 

And two bonus non-teaching related tips:

1. We took the stress out of spending money at Christmas by creating a special Christmas account that we have an automatic amount drafted to each month. I know it's *really* our money, but it ends up feeling like bonus money by the time Christmas rolls around! I highly recommend something like this for Christmas, or really any annually occurring expense you might have.

2. Turn on that Christmas music! (Disclaimer: I have a slight obsession with Christmas music and believe it can cure almost any ailment.) Any style you prefer will do as long as it leaves you with a renewed sense of excitement about the holiday. Because, c'mon people, a sparkly Christmas is so much better than a stressed out one.

Are you a Christmas music newbie? Let me give you a few suggestions of where to start:
For King & Country

November 28, 2017

Christmas Preschool Pack (all dressed up)

CHRISTMAS! My absolute favorite time of the year. The minute Thanksgiving is over, the Christmas music comes on (though, if I'm being honest, I've been playing Christmas music since August) and the tree goes up.

To spread a little Christmas cheer, I thought I would polish up one of my favorite Christmas teaching products:

And what I mean when I say polish is completely demolish, reconstruct, and sprinkle with glitter.

Just look what this packet looked like before:

Bleh. Boring. And created in Microsoft Word before I knew what I was doing. (My husband might argue that I still don't know what I'm doing when it comes to computers. I would argue that he's unable to recognize pure genius when he sees it. But that's besides the point.)

For those of you who have purchased this before, good news: you get to download the new one for FREE. Just log into your Teachers Pay Teacher's account and click on this resource in your list of past purchases.

Time to go light my favorite Christmas Yankee candle (smells soooo good) and turn on some For King & Country Christmas music.

Do you get excited about Christmas too? What's your favorite Christmas tradition?

December 26, 2016

Two big announcements...

#1: I'd like to introduce our newest munchkin!

He was born 6 weeks early this past spring, but he's doing great now. Needless to say, life has been extra busy lately, but oh so much fun (I  mean, just look at that sweet smile!)...

#2: I have finally updated my U.S. History packets!

While not nearly as photogenic as my first announcement, these packets still make me super excited! My history packets were the very first thing that I created for Teachers Pay Teachers...and while they have always been a best-seller in my store, they were due for a major upgrade.

And you know me: I'm like the mouse and the cookie...once I start a small project, it quickly morphs into a huge one as I come up with more ideas. Sooooo, instead of just an update, you are getting a whole set of newly expanded units with up to twice the number of activities as the original packets.

My goal when I taught US History was to make the story come to life in my classroom. So in these packets, you will find costume day projects, create-your-own-newspapers, and other hands-on activities to put your students right in the middle of history.

And of course, if you give a girl a history packed to update, she might want to expand it...and if she expands it, she might just see all the OTHER units in her store and want to to fix them too...

December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas From YTA!

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Luke 2:10-11

Many wishes for a warm holiday with family and friends!

September 12, 2015

I'd like you to meet my friend, Bailey... {And a deal!}

I don't do the 'hard sell thing' very often- mostly because it makes me break out in a nervous sweat... BUT sometimes important causes call for stepping our of our comfort zone, right? So here goes nothing...

Bailey's Story

One of my son’s best friends is a silly, sweet little boy named Bailey. He loves to swim in the pool, dance to music …and play with trucks.

Bailey also has a special super power: he has autism. It gives him the ability to love unconditionally and find joy in life’s little things. Autism also presents a few challenges and we are so proud to see how hard Bailey works to overcome them.

He inspired his mama to start Bailey’s Buddies, a team for Autism Speaks that raises money to change the future for all who struggle with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

You can find out more about Bailey's Buddies and Autism Speaks here.

And I've got a steal of a deal for YOU!

In honor of Bailey, I’ve created a truck-themed SuperPack for the little super hero in your life.


100% of the proceeds from this packet will go toward his mom's Walk for Autism Speaks group.

This packet is ONLY $2.99. My other preschool packs are $5, but I figured I'd make this is a win-win for everyone: you get a deal and you also get to help change the future for all who struggle with Autism Spectrum Disorder!

It would be perfect for your kids, your classroom, or to pass along to a friend with kids. 

Can you help me spread the word?

Bailey's mom always says 'it takes a village to raise a son with Autism' and I was wondering if you could be small part of that village?

I would LOVE if you would share this post or these pictures with your friends. Just one click can make a big difference to those who live every day with Autism. Thanks a million!

May 4, 2015

Organizing Group Supplies

After seeing how much you all liked this classroom desk arrangement, I knew I needed to share this idea I saw on Pinterest that could easily be added to that arrangement (or to any group, really). 

The idea:

Autumn over at First Grade Teacher Lady came up with a great way to take her groups to the next level:


I seem to be in a plastic drawer kick lately. Every time I go to Walmart, I end up buying a wide set, or a tiny set, or a medium set with little drawers on top... you get the picture. 

How To Use It In Your Classroom:

Besides my obvious obsession with these drawers, I think this is a great idea because it keeps all of the supplies that the group might need throughout the day right at their fingertips. No more wasting 5 minutes to pass out journals or markers. Just have that week's group leader pass them out to their neighbors. 

It also keeps their desks from overflowing (though let's be realistic: you are still going to have that handful of kids who somehow find five million random little objects to cram in their desk, right?!) 

If you use the L-Shaped desk arrangement in your class, you could easily use the casters that come with these drawers to make this mobile. They could be rolled to the side when you want to use that spot for your chair during reading groups. (It would also make a great side table for you when you're teaching your small groups.) 

Hmmm.... you could even have one of these in the corner of your room that you roll around with you for small group teaching. It could house the materials you need for teaching your small groups with math supplies in one drawer, reading in another and writing in the third.

We use these drawers at church to house Legos and other building toys. When the lesson runs short (or the service runs long), the kids get to pick a drawer and take it to their group to build until their parents come. This could translate into a great storage system for your indoor recess games or toys.

Do you see now why my house is dangerously close to becoming overrun with plastic drawers?
They have so many great uses!

These are similar to the ones that Autumn uses in her class (I've never seen that top organizer on one before... might just have to add this baby to my rare plastic drawer collection):

But these might work too if you have a need for a few smaller drawers instead of 3 large ones:

What tips do you have for organizing the supplies for each group?


Want more Pinterest goodness? Check out my board: BEST Teaching Tips & Tools board. This is a awesome board full of TONS of creative ideas pinned by other teachers. Check it out:

Wanna join the board?

Do you sell your own teacher-created products? Have a teaching blog? Just love sharing interesting teaching pins with other teachers? Then this board is for you! It's easy- just follow these simple directions.

April 27, 2015

Best Classroom Game EVER

Whew! Bet some of you are surprised to see a post from me pop up in your blog roll, huh? :)

For those of you who didn't know, I took on a new (and VERY time-consuming) role at church and had to put this blog on the temporary back burner.


I discovered this fun little gem the other day that I just had to share with you guys and thus, here I am with a long-overdue teaching tip.

The Game:

I have a 2 year old and a 4 year old. 

Needless to say, a trip to the restaurant is not the low-maintenance experience that it was 4 years ago. Parents of preschoolers will know that the hardest part of eating out is the hours minutes of waiting before the food comes. 

Such was our life. Then I saw an idea on Pinterest that I had to try. It was a game called Left Right Center and it's the trifecta of family games: 
  1. Almost any age can play and enjoy it.
  2. It's a sit-down, sorta quiet kind of game.
  3. It's small enough to put in your purse for- you guessed it- those occasional restaurant waiting times.

I tested it out for the first time at a restaurant this week and, it worked. Kids stayed seated. There was no throwing of the utensils on the floor. No neighboring customers got their hair pulled (though my 2 year old did having  staring contest with one). No yelling at the top of their lungs.

And you know what the first thing this teacher-turned-stay-at-home-mom thought? Why didn't I have this when I was teaching?!


So of course, I immediately started brainstorming ways I could use Left Right Center in my {future} classroom....

How To Use It In Your Classroom:

Field Trips: Keep a stash of these tiny games in your field trip bag. When the kids have some downtime where they have to wait for an event to start, let them spread out in groups of 3-5 and play this game.

                {See more tips on maintaining the peace on field trip tips here.}

Early Finishers: Since it is a very quiet game, Left Right Center is perfect for that group of early finishers to play in the corner while their classmates finish up their work.

Indoor Recess: Twenty-something kids in a classroom having free-time can go downhill fast, but this game is a sit-still, semi-quiet, but totally entertaining kind of game. Win-win-win!

                 {Need more fun indoor recess games? Check out this post.}

The games are pretty cheap to begin with, but I found a set of three on Amazon that would save you some money if you were thinking of buying a few sets for your class. Every penny counts, right?

Fun Little Idea:

Instead of the plastic chips, we've used mini marshmallows, Teddy Grahams, or Goldfish crackers. The winner gets to eat their winnings.

Oh, and I was not compensated for writing this post by the makers of LCR... I just really like their product :)

Have you played Left Right Center before? What did you think?

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