How to create your own “To Do” List

by becky on July 18, 2012

Hi Friends! Color me flattered, because I have been getting a bunch of emails about how I made my to do list:

Well, I’ve typed up step by step directions as to how YOU can make your own. The only caveat is that in order to follow my steps, you need to have the latest version of Microsoft Word. Yes, you can do this in the old version :)! Yes, you can do this in Publisher :)! Yes, you can do this in PowerPoint :)! But, I thought the easiest way to explain this was to use Word. Most teachers have experience in Word and therefore I’m hoping this makes sense. One more thing. PLEASE understand that I’ve never step by stepped before. I explained this the way “I” would want it explained. There are for sure shortcuts (which I do use) but for this purpose, I wanted to keep it as basic as possible. You ready? Okay… here you go!!!!


  1. Open Microsoft Word
  2. Click “Insert” and “Shape”. Find the rectangle shape and draw your rectangle. Don’t worry at this point about size. We will change that soon.
  3. Now, to change the background of your rectangle (my default is blue). Click anywhere on the rectangle and then at the top of your screen you should see “Drawing Tools”. Click on that to open those options. Click on “Shape Fill”.
  4. Then click on “Picture”. You should have some type of background saved on your computer. Click on the background or digital paper and your rectangle should now have a new look.
  5.  This is where I use a digital paper I have on file. Some AWESOME sites with adorable and totally reasonably priced papers are: Digital Bake Shop, Dreamlike Magic Designs
  6. To make your shape the size you want, right click anywhere on your rectangle, click on “More Layout Options”. Then choose the “Size” tab. Adjust your shape to the size you want. I made mine 7 x 5.
  7. Now, let’s change the outline. Click anywhere on your shape, then click on “Drawing Tools” at the top of your screen.
  8. Click on “Shape Outline”. You can either make it a color or click on “no outline”.
  9. Okay, now time for the heading(s). Click on “Insert” and then click “Text Box”.
  10. Click: “Draw Text Box”. Then draw it as wide and long as you want. Don’t worry about the white background. You will change that soon.
  11. Type in whatever you like, center it, and change the font(s) to your liking.
  12. Now we are going to edit the text box. Click anywhere on your text box, then, go back up to the top of your screen and click on “Drawing Tools”.
  13. Click: “Shape Fill”, then click “No fill”.
  14. Do the same for “Shape Outline”. “No Outline”. Your header should be without a background and no box outline. J
  15. Now for the check off boxes… Click on “Insert”, “Shapes”, and choose the rectangle again. Draw a square to your liking.
  16. Draw as many squares as you want check offs. I like to copy one square and paste it so that they are all exactly the same.
  17. If your box is blue, no worries. Click on “Drawing Tools”. Then click on “Shape fill”. Choose a color. Then, click on “Shape Outline”. Look at your options. Not only can you change the color, but you can change the weight (how thick it looks) and you can make it dashes, dots, etc. Play with it. Be brave! J
  18. Do you have several boxes that are the color and outline you want? Okay, last step (easy) is to draw the lines for your list.
  19. Click on “Insert” and “Shapes”. You will see one of the first three shapes should be a line. Go ahead and click on the line.
  20. Extend your line as long/short as you like. It will most likely be blue and thin. You will change it soon. I like to copy/paste the lines so they are exactly the same.
  21. Do you remember how to change the color? J Make sure you click on the line with your mouse. Then, go back up to the top of your screen. Click “Drawing tools”. This time, your only choice is shape outline. Just like the boxes, you can change the weight and color. Go for it.

Did it work? Do you have a finished To Do list???? Let me know!!! Good Luck and start creating!


Guess Whooo?

by becky on July 18, 2012

Holy hotness, Batman! I am telling you, this heat is HORRIBLE!!! Can someone tell Lillie? For a dog who HATES hot weather, she sure doesn’t want to skip her morning walks. You may say, just don’t take her. Well, if any of you have ever owned a stubborn darling dalmatian, you know that if you change their routine, your furniture takes a beating (or rather digging). Seriously, take a trip to You Tube and type in crazy dalmatian. You’ll see what they are capable of. Not to go on a dalmatian rant, but 94.6% of  the time Lillie is a good, sweet girl. But, when she doesn’t get enough exercise and/or she’s bored, she goes NUTS on my walls and furniture. Hence, the walking in the 99 + degree weather. So anyway, now we are both chilling out (literally) in the basement. Me on the couch, Lillie “the nut job” on the tile. All is well.

Onto my post. I have been creeping my Pinterest page and I’ve noticed that soooo many people are pinning my Back to School “Guess Who?” Idea. How cool!

original post

Well, inspiration hit a few weeks ago and I thought that this would be a great time to incorporate a cute owl craftivity. I have seen so many cute owl graphics and themes but wasn’t sure when/how to use them in my classroom. Until, duh, Guess Whooo. So, I put together a super cute craftitivity that correlates with my original Guess Who idea. I plan to still have the class write or type up their “clues” and then create a super fun owl. I have already bought “back to school” scrapbook paper that go so well with the activity. Here is an example of my finished project.

 I had WAYY to much fun making the owls. I printed the templates (included) onto several sheets of scrapbook paper (onto the back of the paper), cut, and mixed and matched. Then, I wrote up my “clues”, cut and glued the frame template (included), and glued my picture onto the inside frame, added my name plate, and glued it to the inside of my 9 x 18 construction paper. I’m really excited to do this with my class this year. If you want to do the same with your class, visit my TpT store and check it out!

For $2.00, you will receive:

•Directions for how to complete the project.
•Templates for Owl Craftivity
•“Clues” Stationary
•Blank “Clues” Stationary
•Picture Frame Stationary
•Nameplates for pictures
•Examples of finished projects
Well, Lillie has moved from the floor to the couch. I guess that means we can go upstairs. Have a great day everyone and stay “cool”!


Two Monday Made-It’s! :)

by becky on July 17, 2012

Hi, Everyone! I’m linking up again with Tara’s awesome Monday Made-It Linky Party.

This week, I created a Picture Frame craft. I’ve always wanted to do something like this, but never had the time. In the past, we were only in school for 1 hour and 4o minutes on the very first day. This year, we are in session for the ENTIRE day! Major change! The positive of this change is I will finally have time to take a picture of each of my Goobers on the very first day of 4th grade. Now onto the craft. I’ve seen a few of these on Pinterest and loved the idea of using a picture frame. However, I don’t have any laying around that are the right size, and anything I’ve seen at Michael’s or Hobby Lobby was looking pricey. Less is more, right? So, I thought about what I could use instead that would be durable but fun. Enter foam poster board. In the picture below, you can see some of the materials I used for the project.

I found this fun foam poster board at Target for around $3.99. The next day I found the same one at Walmart for $3.88. I also pulled out some of my pre cut letters I bought last year at the teacher store that I never use because I always end up making my own letters, a measuring tape, and a utility knife. I actually ended up NOT using the measuring tape and found a better and more accurate way to measure. See below.

For the record, I cannot draw, cut, or trace a straight line to save my life. The measuring tape kept goofing me up so I decided to use a strip of border and trace along each side. SOOO much easier and definitely more accurate.

Then, I cut out the middle very slowly. My knife is kinda junky. If you have a good knife, it will probably be much smoother.

Then, I arranged the letters to read, “The First day of 4th Grade”, I added a cute apple with the date of doomsday the first day of school, and took a final picture. I don’t have anyone here to model the frame, and Lillie was NOT cooperating, so just imagine a smiley 4th grader holding up the frame. I love how it turned out. And, it really only cost me about $4.oo. The letters cost money, but I already had them so they feel like they were free. 🙂

Now for my second Monday Made it… I’ve been dabbling here and there with my newish theme for my classroom and I’ve had some requests for polka dot themed ideas. I’m working on a colorful polka dot bundle that should be ready any day now, but in the meantime, I posted two new FREEBIES in my TpT store. I printed these out, glued them to fun sparkly ribbon and plan to hang them on the top of my whiteboard. I’m using the cursive version in place of the cursive ABC line I had hanging. It’s closer to the kid’s desks, and more colorful. Here is a shot of them hanging on the wall in my basement.

If you want to download a copy in manuscript, cursive, or both 🙂 click the covers below and enjoy!

Until next time, try to stay cool. The Weather Channel predicts another 3-digit day tomorrow, oy!


Primary Grades Common Core Math Posters

by becky on July 10, 2012

Hi Everyone! The only good thing I can say about last week’s horrible Midwest heat wave was that it actually gave me the excuse (and time) to sit down and crank out the early primary version of the Math Wall Vocab Cards. I have created a 114 (!) page document that combines both the first and second grade topics that are covered under the new Common Core State Standards. I was originally going to separate them, but so many topics overlapped, I figured I’d give primary teachers more bang for their buck! Here is a breakdown of the domain posters:

If you are interested in purchasing this for your primary classroom, click the button below and visit my TpT store. Have a great day! I’m hoping to post a few more of my units and freebies this week to help get you ready for BTS! 🙂


I have been a bad summer blogger. Oops. I have a good excuse though. I have been making many home improvements, working on fun stuff for school, and just overall enjoying summer. 🙂 I wanted to FINALLY join up with Tara’s Made it Monday Linky Party to show off some of the fun things I have actually accomplished. If you want to see some really fun projects teachers across the web have made, click the button below and visit Tara’s 5th Monday Made It. Don’t forget to look at the first four posts also. Amazing!

Okay, let’s start with my new TEAM gift. I’m hoping to pass these puppies out at the first team meeting of the year. Gifts make meetings way more fun, don’t you agree? I found this idea on Pinterest (of course) and made it work for me. Here are the ingredients:

I have 5 baby bows, 5 picture frames, and 5 teacher To Do Lists

First things first, I printed out 5 personalized copies of a To Do list each is 5×7. Then, I went to Wal-Mart and bought 5 picture frames and 5 baby bows. I was going to tie my own bows, but for $1, I got 5 perfect bows that I don’t have to fight with. Here’s a close-up. I literally found them in the baby section.

Then, I cut the lists and put them in each of the picture frames. I glued a bow in the corner, and viola!

Adorable Dry Erase To Do Lists:

And, a close-up of mine. Yes, I made myself one 🙂

I am still going to attach a dry erase marker with it, but haven’t figured out the best way to do this. But, other than that, they are ready to be wrapped!

Next up, my first summer home improvement project: My deck

Here’s the story… I decided to prove to myself that I could re-stain my entire deck by myself. I thought, hey, I don’t need a man, I can do this myself. Since I live alone, I tend to ask for a lot of help from my parents. In fact, this was originally going to be a 50/50 project with my dad.  Last July I started to stain. I did all the spindles, the posts, and the handrails. My dad was going to stain the floor of the deck while I was in the Bahamas. Unfortunately, he got very sick and went into the hospital and wasn’t able to finish the staining. Well, life happened, and my deck stayed 1/2 stained until this past June. Literally, the day after I got out of school, I went to Home Depot, bought more supplies, and went to it. About 4 hours later… it was done!

After the staining was done and TOTALLY dry, (and done 100% by me!) my dad and my sister’s boyfriend came over and put up the 2nd half of the project… my gazebo. During the day, my deck gets ZERO shade. Yes, it’s nice for tanning, but not nice for just enjoying the outside. With our over 100 degree temps lately, shade is hard to come by. Here is my deck finished. I still want to add more decor (plants, tables, re-staining the furniture) but it is a nice get away for both Lillie and me.


So, there you have it… two of my summer projects. I have several more I’ve been working on. Both school and home. Here’s a teaser…

This is shot from my VERY disorganized (hiding in shame) garage. No, I’m not doing anything with the snow blower, gas can, salt shaker, air pump, or Halloween blow up. It’s the black file cabinets. Just wait. I love what I’ve done with them! And, for the record, my garage is much cleaner now that I’ve started working on the cabinets.

And, FINALLY, and most exciting… if you live in the Chicago-land area and would like to meet some fellow area bloggers, head on over to Lesson Plans SOS to sign up for…

Melissa, Nicole, and yours truly would love to meet up with you! It doesn’t matter if you do or don’t have a blog!

 If you are a teacher and a reader, we would love to have you join us for a late lunch/early dinner!

If you are interested, please email Melissa and Nicole at:
teachers (at) lessonplansos (dot) com
We will send you an Evite for the blogger meet up!
Til next time! Have a fabulous 4th of July!!!





Freebies, Updates, and New Products

by becky on June 10, 2012

Hi Everyone! I am officially on summer vacation and I am LOVING every millisecond so far! I do have a meeting at school next week and I’ve been giving myself pep talks about NOT going into my room. If I go in my room, I’ll want to take my bulletin boards down. If I go into my room, I’ll want to bring home my extra desk pockets to make a new job chart with. If I go into my room, I’ll stand there and think about how I want to rearrange my classroom to fit my new White Sox bench a student gave me on the last day of school (whoo hoo). Sooo, my plan is to walk in, sit down at the meeting, and then LEAVE as soon as my principal says we are done. Self control Becky. Self control. It’s going to be hard because for some reason I’ve been back to school shopping already. I mean, I haven’t even been out of school for a week yet, but I already have my newish theme bought and have been cranking out all sorts of signs for my classroom to bring the theme together. It might look like a hot mess when I’m done, or it might just be the most awesome room I’ve ever taught in. We shall see. I do have to say, I’m excited. Thing is, it’s not even a big deal theme. But, just the newness and brightness of it makes me excited. Oh, and I went to three Hobby Lobby’s this week to get enough of the same fabric for my new curtains that I am OH SO EXCITED about. Only Teachers can get excited about classroom curtains. But for real, they are going to be so cute! 🙂

In other news, my email has been blowing up lately which I love. If you “know” me, you know I’m not huge into followers, gaining followers, or competing with other blogs and teachers. I’m truly here because I have so many ideas that I bore my friends with that I needed an outlet. But, truth be told, sometimes I do wonder if anyone actually visits my blog. I don’t know how to check my stats, and honestly it’s probably a good thing, but there are times where I sit there and think, “Wow, I thought that was cool. I guess no one else did.” So, as I’ve been getting more emails it gives me hope that I am inspiring and helping others out there. The point of me telling you all this is because several emails have sparked new products or additions to current products on TpT.

Let’s start with the Freebies. 🙂

A follower on TpT recently asked me if I have any Genre Posters. If you read my post about my focus wall, you will see that I use Beth Newingham’s posters for my Focus Wall. However, I added a few extra posters that are part of the Treasures Reading Series. I had originally posted them on GoogleDocs. Well, after I was asked this question this week, I decided to upload my extra posters to my TpT store because let’s be honest, sometimes GoogleDocs is just a pain. If you downloaded my previous posters, get ready to download again. I have added 2 more posters to my already posted set. When you click the picture below, you can download the posters for Folk Tales, Humorous Fiction, Legend, Narrative Nonfiction, Photo Essay, and Play.

Okay, moving onto Updates. Recently, I had another customer ask me if I would be willing to make a Visualizing and Story Structure Poster for my Reading Skills and Strategies set. I gladly obliged and added them to my current listing. Click below to re-download (sorry for the 2nd update, but now you have 23 posters instead of 19) 🙂

Now onto new Products.

I recently received an email asking if I had created spelling lists for the Fourth Grade Reading Street Series. Since my district uses Treasures, I hadn’t. But, about 2 hours later, I had these created. They turned out very cute if I do say so myself. If you are a fourth grade teacher using Reading Street, then you might be interested in purchasing these for your classroom. Click the picture below to see if you are interested.

Okay, now for my favorite part of this post. I FINALLY finished my Wizard of OZ unit. I have to give Abby a shout out. When I saw her unit last year on Teachers Pay Teachers, I knew it was for me. I LOVE the Wizard of OZ and she has some really cute ideas. I decided that I needed to add more activities for my 4th graders since they flew through all the activities Abby created. I also created my own directed art projects for the four main characters. I remember the day I finished them. I ran down the hallway showing anyone who would listen/look because I was so proud of myself. Dork-I know. Here is a close up of the projects:

Here is a breakdown of everything included in the Unit…

If you are interested, click the picture below and visit my store.


If you are still reading, thank you! Have a great day/night/week/weekend! Enjoy the sun and your time off!


1 hour 40 minutes

by becky on June 3, 2012

That’s all I have left with my 2011-2012 goobers. It is SUCH a bittersweet feeling. I honestly feel like it was just yesterday that I was helping Nicole and Melissa paint, or that Melissa and I were the only fools at school the Sunday before school started. Now I’m saying goodbye to a whole new group of friends I’ve spent the last 9 months with. Here is a break down of some of the highs and lows of the school year.


Endless meetings. When you have a high-anxiety class and you are being pulled out for constant meetings, administrators forget how hard it is to keep everyone calm and comfortable. I can’t tell you how many days I had to do damage control because of crazy subs who upset my classroom dynamic.

Coming back from a long weekend where a school carnival was held. This was the first year that activities were put in the classroom. I was SOOO nervous. I mean, I have (honestly) thousands of dollars worth of materials I have bought and/or made. I came back to stains, broken furniture, and this:

I do have to say, my kids were AMAZING when they saw this. They walked into the classroom and didn’t say a word. They knew I was upset. They were upset. They felt like someone violated their room. We pulled together as a team, cleaned it up, and then a few kids decided that if we ever have to have events in our classroom, they are going to take shifts to “watch” that everyone is respectful. Can you say Love? Truly.

Highs: (In no particular order)

My sweet class throwing me a surprise “Pink” birthday party. They had been planning it for a few weeks before the day of. I kept messing up their plans because of the endless SpecEd meetings and trainings I kept getting pulled out of class for. They made it work, and I felt incredibly loved. These were the delicious cupcakes we ate.

Getting my teammate back. RIF smif, she was a good sport, re-interviewed for her rightful job position and hands down, was the star of the interview show. I’m just thankful and grateful to have this amazing teacher (and friend) working next door to me. I feel like you can get through anything as long as you have one other person on your side. Dannie, Thank You for being such a supportive teammate and friend this year. I honestly couldn’t have survived without you. (P.S.- Dannie, we need to take a new picture, lol)

Getting to know these 24 amazing children who have changed my life. They make have given me gray hairs (our class joke) but I would NOT change our memories for anything. I love each and every one of them and will truly miss them when they become stinky 5th graders. (another class joke). Here we are ringing in the new year!

I’m getting pretty choked up writing this. I know they will take the lessons that I taught them (both academically and socially) and do great things in their lives. I feel special that I was able to be their 4th grade teacher. There are no other students I would have chosen for my 2011-2012 school year. 🙂





can/have/are in Room 19!

by becky on May 28, 2012

Sometimes being an “intermediate” level teacher can be a bummer. When I look at all the adorable projects that so many primary teachers post, I get a little jealous. I feel like sometimes I push the envelope with the units I create because I know some of my coworkers may feel it’s “fluff” rather than “meat”. However, I know that even though I may have my students create projects, it is only AFTER we have researched, discussed, and thoroughly learned about a topic. And, to be honest, the majority of my students LOVE to create projects based on what they are learning. I also feel that students do NOT get enough opportunity to explore their creative sides. I love the excitement that they have when they create something they feel super proud of. It is also good for their fine motor skills. I was amazed a few weeks ago when we did one of the projects below and when I instructed my students to fold a sheet of paper in half and then cut out ½ a heart how many students didn’t understand how to do this. It was actually a little sad. Luckily, I had plenty of extra paper so several of my friends were able to work until they felt good about their product.

On that note, if you are like me and you visit primary blogs even though you teach an intermediate grade, I’m sure you look at the Can/Have/Are brace maps and feel like you can’t use them in your own classroom. I felt that way until a few weeks ago…

If you follow my blog, then you know my grade level took a field trip to see Oscar. OMG, even if I didn’t have a huge love of great apes anyway, I still would have loved this movie. It’s happy, sad, inspiring, funny, tragic, and loving. I will be purchasing this movie once it’s out. Before we went to the movie, though, we learned about Chimpanzees in order to have background knowledge. After reading several picture books my students and I learned all about these fuzzy apes. Enter Can/ Have/ Are…

To save trees (chimpanzee homes), we discussed and wrote our ideas on the board . They could have gone on forever but as you see, I ran out of room. 🙂

Then, because they loved my Oscar I had created ( I have to admit, I loved him too. I’ve gotten so much better at creating projects on the fly… definitely attribute this to blog stalking), after we saw the movie, I had students answer a few reflection questions about the movie and then they created their own Oscar. Well, some called theirs Freddy, while one friend created Scar. 🙂 Freedom to create, what can I say?

Cuh-ute! 🙂

Then, about two weeks ago, I was  planning for the last story in our basal (back-flips, cartwheels, etc…) and it’s the following story:


It’s a very informative story about (go figure) The Life and Times of the Ant. I knew I wanted to incorporate a group work activity so I did what I do best… blog stalk. Thank you Pinterest. I found this brace map and immediately downloaded it. 🙂

Jackpot! (THANK YOU, Cara!)  I put my fourth grade friends into cooperative groups and instructed them to fill in each category. They had a great time!

I liked how they worked together, but I wanted to extend the activity a little more so while they were working I created this guy:

Then, I passed out colored index cards to each group and instructed them to pick their favorite “Can”, “Have”, and “Are” statement. Not surprisingly many groups had the same favorite facts. Then, they wrote them out and after we shared our ideas, I hung them up in the hallway to share with our other school friends. They did ask if they could make their own ant and had I had more time and planned better (there’s always next year :)) I would have let them create their own.

Not the cutest bulletin board idea I’ve ever had, but definitely informative!

So, what is the moral of the story? The moral I learned was that even though they are “big” kids, fourth graders can still benefit from the basic skills they learned and applied in the primary grades. Lesson learned!


End of Year Reflection

by becky on May 16, 2012

Hi! I still can’t believe we are in the final stretch of the school year!!! I don’t have an official countdown going, but I do know that I don’t have too much time to squeeze in all the activities and projects I want my kiddos to complete. I have been going through my end of year files and I remembered that I had had a request to make an end of year form similar to my Time Capsule form for students to reflect on their school year. You can read more about my Time Capsule project here. I realize many of you are finishing up soon. Some even this week-WOW! I hope you can use this End of Year Reflection with you class. If not, tuck it away for next year. If you’d like your own copy, click on the picture below and you can download both forms for free from my Teachers Pay Teachers store. Enjoy!


Hi Everyone~ Happy Teacher Appreciation Week. I have to say, this year I was really spoiled by one of my students (and his mom) :). I wanted to share her sweet ideas because honestly, they made my day each morning, and it was really nice to feel so appreciated.

Here is a breakdown of what special suprise was found on my desk each day:

Who doesn’t love a box of donut holes on Monday morning?

A delicious basket of fruit!


I LOVE m&m’s

Delicious and seriously addicting cookies!

I appreciate all the time it took to buy, make, and put together each gift and I LOVE how creative each gift was. When I tried to hug the little guy that gave me each of these, I thought he was going to jump on the ceiling. He is one of my few goobers who does NOT like girls. lol. He did give me a solid handshake. I’ll take what I can get! 🙂

In other news, Mother’s Day is quickly approaching and I wanted to try a new craft with my kids this year. In the past my students have created poems, framed scrapbook pages, bracelets, and decorated candles. This year, I wanted my students to make a personalized soap dispenser for their moms.First, I had the students write a message with a sharpie on a full sized bordered sheet of computer paper. They could create their own message or use a poem I found and tweaked for the ocassion. They added their own special touches and made sure to wish their mom’s a Happy Mother’s Day. Then, I used the school’s copy machine to scan each page. I took each scanned picture and resized  them to 3×2 to fit the soap dispensers. Next, I printed the labels on good old overhead transparencies. I only needed three sheets for all 24 labels. The trick is to make sure you use a laser printer. If you use an inkjet printer the ink runs as soon as it gets wet. After that, I took cut each label and put them in the newly softsoap label free bottles of soap. Thank you Goo gone. After a little adjusting, each label looked amazing. (You may be thinking that I should have let the kids do more, and next year, I will, but I wanted to make sure the projects turned out well and I was having a little bit of a control issue.) The next time I have my class do this project, THEY will use their tiny fingers to get the labels off. Definitely my least favorite part of the project.

When I showed them their soap dispensers they were soooo excited. They picked out cute ribbon and wrapped their gifts. Then they made adorable cards where they listed the top 10 things they love about their moms. Here is a shot of some of the finished projects…

and here’s a close-up of one of my kiddos bottles

The  poem reads:

This isn’t just a soap dispenser, as anyone can see.

It was made with my own hand, which is a part of me.

It comes with lots of love, especially to say,

I love you very much, and Happy Mother’s Day!

I’m hoping they love them as much as I do! Happy Mother’s day to any and all the mom’s out there (including the mom’s of fur-babies!!!).