Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Vistaprint Obsession!!!

I have become addicted to something... ordering personalized items from

I have ordered all sorts of things! You would think that a married young lady with no children could only use so much personalized stationary and stamps... but that is where you are wrong. I have gone on an ordering frenzy for items for my classroom! I have ordered stamps, postcards, business cards, magnets, signs, and more.

The awesome part about all of this is that it is completely FREE!!! Yes, really free. You have to pay for shipping.... most of the time. However, a couple weeks ago they had a great deal going around the internet that was free shipping on items over $1.... (free stamps happen to offer red ink for the price of $1.50)  ;)  So, all that to be said, I was able to order many free items, and also get free shipping.... just paying for the red ink that I added to my stamps. That deal is now over, unfortunately!! However, they still offer great items and deals! Once you order something, they begin to send you daily deals that you can take part in. If you do not already order from this wonderful site and are interested, let me know and I will recommend you (which I believe rewards both you and I.)

Vistaprint in no way asked me to write a little promo for them, nor do they have any idea who I am... I just love their website!

So... without further adieu, here are some pictures and descriptions of some items I have ordered. I found the ideas for these items throughout the internet and am in no way taking credit for the genius ideas. I just googled "Vistaprint classroom ideas" and it led me to all sorts of cool ideas from other teachers. These are just some that I picked out and ordered.

Business Card sized magnets to send home with the kids at the beginning of the year to stick on their fridge at home:

A yard sign that I will used to put on my door during testing... I did not order the metal stake to stick it in the ground. 

Thank you cards...
Thank you cards inside...

Return address labels that I am going to use as reminders for parent/teacher conferences. I will probably stick them in their planners that week or maybe even one on their shirts to wear home.

Car magnet that I am going to use to put my math groups under... I also made one for reading groups.

Business cards that I will sell in my class store for various passes like whiteboard pass, pillow pass, teacher's desk pass, computer time, different chair, etc.

Sticky notes that I will use to grade notebooks on. This will be a quick place to jot notes or grades on without writing on their journals themselves.

A stamp that I will use for work done together or in a small group that I am not going to formally grade.

Another stamp that I will use to stamp their planners to show that they are filled out and signed.

Business card sized magnets that I just ordered blank to write kids names on and then place under group names for reading and math.

More thank you cards...

Postcards that I will use for when a student misbehaves they can fill this out to reflect on their actions. (You get 100 postcards free)


Return address labels to use for grading writing assignments

Business cards that are blank "I have, Who has" game cards. I can then write in my own topics and laminate.

Large banner (that is a nice sturdy material) I will probably put on a bulletin board in the hallway to display our work around.


Return address labels that I can give out at random when I see something great...

Postcards that I will use to write out student's work that they missed



Business cards that I can hand out when students do something extra sweet

Stamp for when kids are absent, I will stamp the paper so I know why it is late and they know that they missed instruction over that topic (so if they don't get it we know why)

Postcards to use as birthday cards for the kids... I will have everyone in the class sign the back.



Window decal for the glass window by my door

Homework punchcard...

So, as you can see I ordered A LOT of stuff! I also ordered some things for my husband and myself that no one cares to see. The awesome thing about all of this... it only cost me $6!!! (that is with shipping and all.) Like I said, that free shipping offer is over, but watch for it to come out again. Even without free shipping, it is really reasonable.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Williamsburg Top Ten

I recently went to Williamsburg, VA for a teacher institute. Here is a list of the top ten things that I got to do while there!

10: Lesson Plans I got great ideas for lessons to take back to the classroom! We learned so many cool things while there. We really learned about the importance of primary sources and how to use them with kids. One of my favorite things were the colonial games! They were so neat. For more information of lessons that are free to everyone, check out the Online Teacher Community.

9: Surrender Field This was a very moving experience to see where so much history took place. Freedom is most certainly not free and it was very evident throughout the week. We looked at so many important people throughout history that were brave and gave their lives for our country. Being at Surrender Field made it that much more powerful.

8: Jamestown I didn't really know what to expect from Jamestown, but it was just awesome! There one one part that was rebuilt to look like it would have in the 18th century, and then another portion that was the actual site of the original colony. It was fascinating to see what life would have been like then. People went through so much to come to this country... and it was certainly not a land of riches and gold like they expected.

7: "Cry Witch" This was a reenactment of a witch trial as it would have taken place in the 18th century. It was very interesting to see how serious being accused of witchcraft was. In the end, we (being the people in the audience) had to vote and decide whether the woman was guilty or not. In the end, all of the evidence pointed to guilt. She pleaded her case, but just could not prove that she was not a witch. We voted her guilty and she was sentenced to death. It was really interesting and eerie all at the same time.

6: Meeting Martha Washington I loved "meeting" her. It was neat to listen to the interpreter's interpretation of how Martha felt during the war. She had an extremely difficult life. She outlived all 4 of her children and 2 husbands. In Williamsburg, interpreters retell stories as if they are really that person. They study them extensively and can answer questions and tell things as if they are really that person from history. 

5: Food The food was DELICIOUS!! Yum! (and free... which made it even better) We had fresh seafood, more ice cream than any one person should consume, deserts that were awesome, great pizza, etc. Everything was really good. One evening (my favorite meal of the week) we went to Christiana Campbell's Tavern. I had delicious crab cakes. We also were taught how to tie our very large napkins around our necks so as not to get any food on our lovely gowns. Here I am with my sweet friend, Mallory.

4: Friends/Connections The 27 other people that I went to Williamsburg with were wonderful. They made the trip that much more fun. I really made some lasting friendships with some of the other teachers. We all bounced ideas off of each other and laughed together too. We did everything together, so you got to know each other quickly! The trip certainly would not have been the same without the friendships and bonds that were formed. This is a picture of me with Linda, Steph and Heather.

3: Shopping I love shopping in general, but shopping in Williamsburg was super fun! There were a lot of things that I bought that you just can't get elsewhere.... like a wig curler, newspapers from the 18th century, Macaroni prints, locally brewed root beer, colonial games and clothing, etc. It was so fun to go to all of the little shops and trade stores.

2: The Ball This was so fun. We just gathered at the Governor's Palace and learned colonial dances by candlelight. It was neat to see the main form of entertainment during that time period. Dance was an important part of their social lives. I have always loved dance, so this part was especially intriguing for me. All of the dances that we learned could be used in the classroom also. It was a fun night of dancing and socializing.

And my #1.... Touring all of the colonial homes! I have always been obsessed with homes and looking inside of them. This was most definitely my favorite part of the trip. I got to see inside so many different places such as the church, gentry homes, slaves quarters, working family homes, governor's palace, capitol building, Powhatan huts, and many more. It was just so neat to get to see what their homes looked like on the inside. It really gave me a view of what was treasured or seen as most important. A home tells so much about a person. These were no exception. Williamsburg had them decorated as they would have traditionally been as well as furnished.

So there you have it! It was a great trip!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Williamsburg, VA

I recently traveled to Williamsburg, VA for their Teacher Institute! It was amazing! I highly recommend it to all teachers. While there, I stayed in a colonial tavern, ate at great colonial restaurants, and visited all of the colonial sites that are within Williamsburg. For those of you who do not know, Williamsburg is a living museum built where an original colonial town was. 88 original buildings from the 18th century still stand. There are many more that have been recreated to perfection! They are just awesome to see.

This is where my hotel room was... in the Red Brick Tavern.

We also traveled to Jamestown and Yorktown to see more historical areas. While in Jamestown, we learned more about the Powhatan tribe and their way of life. We made necklaces, learned about trade, and even learned how to heave a barrel of rum onto the large ships. (I wouldn't have made it back in those days.... too hot and tough!!)

We also looked at the earliest English life in America... not so glamorous. 

We saw Jamestown Island, which is the actual location that Jamestown was originally established. That was really interesting. There were archeologists out digging, still looking for signs of earlier people. Jamestown burned down during Beacon's Rebellion and many believed it was buried under the James River, never to be found. However, they have started finding many artifacts and proof that this is indeed the spot of the first English settlement in America! My favorite part of that was seeing where the original church stood, which happens to be where Pocahontas and John Rolfe were married.  In the picture below, the man is standing where Pocahontas would have stood during the ceremony. So cool!!

We traveled to Yorktown at the end of my trip to see where some famous battles took place. While there, we got to practice being soldiers too (once again, I would have never made it!)

We got to see how soldiers would have lived while away at war. They slept 6 men to a tent. Pretty cramped and not really comfy!

Life was very difficult as a soldier. Discipline was handled by making them wear a sign around their neck for a period of time that stated what you had done wrong. If that didn't work, you were whipped. Women were allowed to go to the camps if her husband was in the camp. She was responsible for cooking, cleaning, laundry, nursing soldiers back to health, and sewing.

Back in Williamsburg, we go to do so many terrific things! I will do a separate post about the top ten things I got to do while there! We learned so many wonderful ideas to bring back to the classroom. For example, we learned some great games to teach the kids such as hoops and sticks, Huckle Buckle Beanstalk, Saw Saw Bre Wa Adesa (not sure on the spelling there), and shut the box. Maybe I will do a separate post with some instructions for those. 

We learned so many interesting things about slavery and ways to present it to children. I always struggled with how to do that. Williamsburg gave some great ideas. It was hard to see that people were treated so awful.

We were fully immersed in colonial life for 7 days. It was like being taken back in time. I would encourage all teachers to look into going. It was such a great experience. I can see how all teacher would benefit from it and take something back to the classroom.  One of the most important things that Williamsburg instilled in us is that it is so important to use primary sources with kids. "Primary sources" are items such as document or artifacts from that time. We used a variety of primary sources such as newspapers, clothing, tools, paintings, furniture, wills, records, etc. to complete activities.

If you want more information on how to apply for the teacher institute grant, visit this website: Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence

Colonial Williamsburg has a website that allows you to take a virtual tour of town, shop in the local stores and find out more info on the teacher institute:

Also, there are some wonderful activities online at the online Williamsburg Teacher Community where you can create an account to access some great lessons and primary sources:

Lastly, the Jamestown and Yorktown foundation also has a great website where you can purchase neat items and finds lessons/ideas: