Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Pencil Grip Kwik Stix, Solid Tempera Paint


Just like the label says, “Uncap, Twist, & Paint”!  These paints are amazing!!  My students and I love them! Pencil Grip has come out with these amazing solid tempera paints.  They make painting in the classroom so much easier because you don’t need water, brushes, and the clean up is a snap!  You literally just snap the cap back on.

I’m teaching Third Grade this year, and for the past few weeks we have been studying North American Biomes.  As one of our final projects for our unit I wanted the students to each paint the biome that they each had written about.

With only one set of the Kwik Stix I was able to get 28 students all done in one day!   Here are some of their paintings:

image                                                         The Rain Forest

image                                                                  Ocean

image                                                                  Desert

image                                                             and Forest.

My students had so much fun using these paints.  Using Kwik Stix was really easy and mess free.  They really do dry in just seconds!!  I put the set of paints in the middle of a table, and the only instructions I had to give the students was not to press down to hard.  The paints work really well and cover a lot with a light touch.  I highly recommend these paints for all grades, and I know that I will now be getting more sets to use in my classroom!

If you think you might like to try Kwik Stix out, come back and visit me in a few days for a surprise!!!!  Happy Painting!

image  Erin 

New Beginnings

It has been a few months since I lasted posted here on my blog, but in those months I have had a lot of changes happen.  I have a new job, and I’m teaching a new grade level!  I was teaching at a private school for the past 5 years, this would have been my 6th year.  I left for several reasons that I won’t go into in the post, but I will say, that as hard as the decision was to leave my students after the school year had started, it was the right decision for me.  It has changed me back to the person I was, happy, easy going, smiling.  and the best teacher I can be.  I have switched from a private school to a public school and from First Grade to Third Grade, and from one of the most affluent schools in our county to one of the lowest income schools.  I am working with a great new team!  They have, along with everyone at my new school, welcomed me with open arms, and offered help at  every turn along the way.  I am so grateful to be able to have this experience in this district at this school, and in this grade level at this point in my life.

I had been battling myself, and had lost confidence in my teaching at my previous position.  In just a few short weeks in my new position, I have gained it back and have found my love for teaching again.  My love of teaching had never truly left, but my confidence had been lost, well really, taken from me at my previous position  I felt for my previous students and worried for their education because I wasn’t giving them my best.  I know that they are in good hands, and I miss them dearly, but I know that they are in good hands, and are doing really well.

My new students have different struggles than my previous students and from anything that I have ever dealt with before, but I love each and everyone of them.  They were so cute when I first started.  I was the third teacher they have had this year, the original teacher went out on leave before the school year began so the students began the year with a long term sub.  Who within the first few weeks of school was hired full time at another school, so they brought in another long term sub who was to be with the students until the teacher came back, but than the teacher decided to not to come back.   And that is where I come in.  They hired me to start just after Thanksgiving.  So I was with the students just before winter break.  As we were getting ready to go on break that Friday, the students were asking making, “Are you coming back?”  They were so worried that I was not coming back after break.  I told them that I was in for the long run and they were stuck with me until the end of the year!  They all surrounded me and gave me a BIG group hug.

When we came back after the break, my students were so happy to see me!  And I have to say, I’m pretty sure I was MORE happy to see them!!!  I love my new school, I love my new students, and I love my new grade.  I know in my heart that this was the right decision for me to make



Math, Math Glorious Math

Math, Math Glorious Math, the more you learn the better you do!  So play your games at every chance!

This Month we’re coming together to talk… Math Games And Strategies ( hosted by Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd & Lucky Little Learners — #2Getherwearebetter)


I’m so excited to come back and link up again with the amazing Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd and Lucky Little Learners because #2getherwearebetter!!! And together we can accomplish so much!!
I love all things Math and am excited to share some of my math activities with you all. Lets jump on board and take this epic ride on the Math wave!

At my school we use Singapore Math, which I really like. Singapore Math allows you to use math concepts from anywhere really to add to your content. Singapore was created in Singapore by researches who studied best math practices and success around the world for a period of 10 years. After gathering all the research they took the best concepts to develop what we call Singapore Math. So essentially it is not founded in Singapore math strategies, but rather the worlds best strategies. With that said, I have worked with several different math program during my time as a teacher, and I feel that knowing and understanding Singapore has allowed me to have a deeper understanding of math that I can enrich other math programs with.
When I explain to parents at the beginning of the year, what Singapore Math is, I say that it is giving the students a deeper, truer understanding of math and math concepts. We don’t cover as much in a year, but we go deeper into the concepts we do cover giving us a fuller understanding. So students might know and memorize their Math Facts, but at the same time they understand what Base 10 is and how it works within Math Facts. They may know that 5+2=7, but they understand that 5 and 2 more is 7, 2 and 5 more is 7, 7 less 5 is 2, and 7 less 2 is 5. They can say, write, and draw it to show understanding.

But let’s get to the real reason we are here, Math Centers & Games!! The fun stuff!! I use many different strategies, but I will show just a few that we have done this year.

image                          imageAbove my students are using Tangrams to create pictures and designs, which help with shapes and spatial reasoning.

  imageimage imageThe students here are completing a puzzle to also help with shapes and spatial reasoning.  The first time my first graders see this puzzle they usually get nervous, and look at me like I’m crazy, but they very quickly become challenged and determined to complete it.

image image

My students love their shapes, and creating.  Here in this activity the students were creating a design.  After they created the design they discussed the attributes and created a math story.  This particular student was working in a group of 4 students.  They made flowers and insects, and created an addition math story, “There are 4 flowers and 2 insects.  There are 2 more flowers than insects, but there are 2 less insects than flowers.”  I love to hear Math talk and conversations!  Don’t you?

image  image Students in these two groups were working on pattern making.

image imageMore patterns!


This friend was working on writing his number.  I made these cards for the students to practice writing their numbers correctly, writing on paper can sometimes be, well, not fun, BUT writing with cars…who doesn’t want to practice!!

I don’t have a picture to share, but this past week we made human number bonds in class and solved them together.  We used hula hops and jump ropes.  We had so much fun making numbers bonds!

I hope that today you found at least one new thing, or learned one new way to use something you are already using in your math class.

Thanks for catching this wave with me today!


Room Mother Gifts

At my school every classroom has two Room Mothers. This year I moved from Kinder to First. My school has two classes per grade level, so I have half of my kinder’s with me this year, and with that, my Room Mom’s have been with me for two years. Last year, like most years, I like to get my Room Mothers a nice key chain, from some place like Coach, or Brighten. I would give the key chain, and maybe a small bag from 31, and in the card I would put, “You hold the Key to your students success.” But because I have had my Room Mom’s for two years, I would like to do something different, and creative. For part of my gift I decided I would make mason jar vases. Here is how I made them:

First I went to Hobby Lobby and bought mason jars, jute, ribbon, flowers, and buttons. At home I already had a glue gun and glue sticks. I was lucky because the day I went to Hobby Lobby their mason jars were 50% off so I bought a lot more than I needed, but I’m sure I’ll find plenty to make with them this summer!


After you have all your supplies it’s time to play.


First you clean the mason jar and dry it. Than I used the jute to wrap around the jar. I used the hot glue for the first few rows around to make sure that it was held in place and than I just pulled the jute tightly around and every few rows I hot glued it down to secure it.



Once you have the jute in place, it’s time to create! I choose to put the chevron print ribbon on, and the burlap flower. Than I put two different buttons in the center of the flower.


I am going to make 2 each, for both my Room Mom’s. Along with these vases filled with fresh flowers, I have ordered them each a bag from 31. I’m not sure what I will fill them with just yet, but I have 2 1/2 weeks to figure it out! I will share everything with you all!

I would love to hear what everyone does for their classroom Room Mothers.

Project Based Learning continued

I have been looking for more resources on Project Based Learning and found a great page on Edutopia all about Project Based Learning. I hope you all check this link out! It gives a great definition of PBL and how it is not just the project but the journey of the project. That they should be rooted in a real world problem. An example of this for myself, would be when my students did the lesson of “If You Built A Car”. Their real life problem was how do you design a car? What do you want in your car? Where do I go to get what I need? And many more questions. At the bottom of the Edutopia page it leads you to a link of the book that the page is an excerpt written by, Heather Wolpert-Gawron, which is due to come out this June of 2015. I know this is a book I am putting on my summer reading list!

OCCUE Presentation & QR Codes

Hi Everyone. Kadie and I had a lot of fun presenting yesterday at OCCUE. We hope that you all had a great day and were able to gather a lot of information to take back to your classrooms and schools. Below you will find the QR Codes.


Things we love

Sorry I had to post pictures of the QR Codes. As soon as I get the originals from Kadie, I will switch them out. Tip, this worked on my phone scanner when I slowly turned the phone.


Project Based Learning

What is Project Based Learning, (PBL), really? I ask this because I feel like I know what PBL is, but do I really? To me Project Based Learning (PBL) is teaching multiple standards across multiple strands, driven by a single project and letting the students use creativity and their own strengths, while reaching the goals of the project that I the teacher have put forth. I really love PBL, well the PBL of my definition, but I wonder, am I doing it right? Should I be teaching through projects or more traditional? What will my students really need by the time they exit from school and enter into the real world? Should I do less? Should I do more? I feel like in the world of Common Core Standards, whether you agree with them or not, PBL is a great way to reach all your standards, bringing joy and pleasure back into learning for students and bring the creativity back to the teacher.

So far the PBL’s that I myself have created have been based from a storybook/picture book. I am a kindergarten/First Grade teacher. For me leading with a book has been the simplest way to begin a project. But I think if I were in a higher grade I might choose to begin with a topic in science or social studies. Now that I think about it, I would like to set a goal for myself that before this school year is over to create a PBL through either science or social studies. I love bringing in different subject matter through the standards. So even though I have begun with Reading and comprehension, I bring in, writing assignments, and I love having my students create and construct something. This enables me to bring in math, geometry, and calculations through addition and subtraction problems. I have also, had students grouped up with partners from different grade levels. So far I have done PBL’s at my current school with Kindergarten & Third Grade, and First Grade & 6th Grade. At a previous school I had worked with Kindergarten & Second Grade. I like mixing it up. Though, I usually choose one grade to work with for each year, so that the students can become trusted partners. Since I am usually the teacher that has come up with the PBL, I usually set up my grade level standards, and take a look at the other grades standards, and then sit down with that teacher/teachers to help them create their side of the project. When working with different grades, the project should not be based only on one of the two grades, but equally reach multiple standards in each grade level.

Right now I am working on a school wide PBL that my good friend Kadie @crazy4learning created for our school using the book, The Big Orange Splot, by D. Manus Pinkwater & Daniel Manus Pinkwater. She has given the entire school TK-8th grade a copy of the book but allowed us in each grade level and class to create whatever we want to represent our class in relation to the book. This way we have a project across the entire school! How amazing is that idea?! My class has read the book two times, and we would like to read it again. We are creating individual poems with words describing us individually and our school. Than we are creating through art a representation of us and our school with our poem in the middle of the school. I think it is going to be really cute, and can’t wait to read what my student write.

What are you doing with Project Based Learning in your schools and classrooms?

Hello world!

I am an educator, artist, and photographer, living and working in Southern California. I have a BFA from Arizona State university, an MA in Teaching from Chapman University, and an MA in Education also from Chapman University.

My passion is for teaching. In my classroom I create an atmosphere of community. Community to me, means bringing together the knowledge and skills that students will need to succeed in education, and playing an integral part as a teacher is passing this knowledge on leading to fulfillment of their personal goals in life. I want to inspire my students to yearn for learning and knowledge, to develop a life long love of learning. I want my students to grow rich academically, socially, and emotionally in an atmosphere that is stimulating. I want my students to know that we all have ups and downs, but just like a wave in the ocean, up or down we still move forward as we strive to reach our beach. I take great pride in being a teacher, and I look forward to the start of each new coming year.

I hope through this blog to be able to discuss education philosophy, currently within the world of education. How we are using these new, and recycled theories in our daily classrooms. I want to discuss who we are and what makes us want to teach; the whole teacher, in and outside the classroom.

I hope that you join me on this journey of seeking to become the best educator that I can.

Welcome to my beach.