Monday, December 8, 2014

Best Holiday Gifts

I love giving and receiving gifts - most people do! This year I am participating in 5 different gift exchanges.  It's a lot! And some of the people I've never bought gifts for before, so I'm not entirely sure what they would want.  I could go the easy route and choose something off their Amazon Wish List, have it shipped to their house, and call it a day.  But I don't like the easy route! 

When I'm buying for someone that I'm not too sure about what to get them, I either do one of the following:

  1. Buy them something unique, like from Etsy, the Museum of Modern Art, or Uncommon Goods
  2. Buy them something unique to Maui, where I live
  3. Buy them something I would want, like a makeup set from Sephora or a scarf from Anthropologie
  4. Or make them something
My "make something" repertoire isn't that amazing.  I like simple projects that don't take a whole lot of time.  And I LOVE using materials I already have on hand.  That's bonus points in my book.

Here are some real gifts I've made for people.  They are functional, pretty cute in my opinion, don't take forever to make, and are fairly easy.  
 Cloth napkins

Coffee Cozy

Cork frame

Silhouette ornament of a friend's dog

Oven mitt - this one was probably the hardest, but I've gotten better at it.

Simple tote or reusable shopping bag

A painting I'm working for a friend this year! Can you tell what it's going to be?

But what if you are still stuck on what to get someone? Luckily,'s blog The Good Stuff has 3 gift guides:

  • Budget-Friendly Gifts 
  • Gifts for Enthusiasts
  • Hostess Gifts

And while you're checking it out, you can enter the sweepstakes that's running from today until December 25th! There will be one $100 winner per week and one $500 grand prize winner! 

What are you planning to give this holiday season? 

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by  However, all ideas and opinions are my own.  

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Reading Wonders in First Grade

My school, the entire state of Hawaii actually, has adopted the Reading Wonders basal program this year.  My school is in full swing of implementation and we've gone through a little trial and error figuring it out.

The writing component has been the hardest for me.  I feel that my kids need a lot more than what is presented in the book.  We started the year having to teach the program with fidelity, so I started making units to supplement but that aligned.

We also need to have a focus wall.  I wanted to incorporate pocket charts so I'm not putting tons of holes in my boards or holes in my posters and cards.  You can see that I started off by hand writing my spelling cards and the essential question.  I also used the sight word cards that came with my materials, but I didn't like that there wasn't picture support or a sentence for context.

 Here is my focus wall after I made things the way I wanted them.  I still hand write my essential question just because of space.  But I like that element of non-laminateness.  That's a word, right? ;)

I'm happy that I'm able to re-use some of my old materials from 2nd grade, like my schedule cards.

And my jobs chart.

I also put up my 1-4 assessment posters to help introduce our writing rubric.  The kids were able to catch on a lot faster with these visuals of what writing looks like at each level.

My writing and Word Work materials for Daily 5 are below this wall.  In the drawers, I have various Word Work materials, such as play dough sight words.

And sight word stamping sheets.

For writing, I have staples and date stamps in the bottom bucket, and word cards in the top bucket.  The kids can practice the words on whiteboards, use them to help get ideas, or use them to help spell correctly.

I'm definitely tweaking things as I go, as I learn more about my students, and as I grow more familiar with the program.  So far, though, this is what has been working for me.  I'm a little slow to get my weekly units up, but that's only because I'm a perfectionist and it takes me forever to create things! So please be patient with me :)

If you are interested in any of the units above, here is where you can find them:
Wonders Unit 1 Focus Wall
Wonders Unit 2 Focus Wall
Schedule Cards
Jobs Chart
Assessment Posters
Wonders Unit 1 Printable Bundle (also available by week if you don't want to commit to the whole bundle at once)
Caitlin's FREE Word Work and Writing Cards
Stephanie's Flash Fluency Bundle

And here's a freebie for all my Wonders peeps - Editable Newsletters! I've only created up to Unit 3 (remember, I have to create as I go) but I'll upload the new templates as soon as I make them for you.  I hope they help you stay organized and connected to your students' parents!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Cyber Monday

Are you gearing up for an awesome Cyber Monday? I just love sitting in my pajamas and getting everything I need for Christmas taken care of on one day! has awesome savings with all the retailers I love!  First up, I plan to type my way to Toys R Us and scooping up some toys for my kids.  Right now, Audrey is into princesses and Nathan loves all things Harry Potter.

Next, I have to get something for my husband.  We are working on fixing up our new-to-us home right now, so I'll head on over to Home Depot and pick him up some tools.  

I also will need to get some gifts for my co-workers.  I love the little gift sets from Sephora, especially from my favorite brands like L'occitane, Bare Minerals, and First Aid Beauty! 

And I can't forget myself! I'll go to Gap and scout out some new school clothes! 

Don't forget to head on over to check out's Cyber Monday Sweepstakes!  There are also informative Cyber Monday savings articles on The Good Stuff.   

What's on your list for Cyber Monday?

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by
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