August 3, 2016

What If I Know Nothing About Agriculture? Can I Still Use It In My Classroom?

I had the chance to guest blog for the American Farm Bureau Foundation For Agriculture. Check out my most below and the site for some great resources!

I grew up in Kansas. 
I was surrounded by farms and animals my whole life. 
But when I started working at a charter school thats main focus was agriculture, I was absolutely clueless

In this post I will be discussing how important it is to teach your kids about Ag, and how I started!

Why is agriculture important to my elementary students? Why should I be teaching Ag to them? And if it's important to them, should it be important to me?

I think I asked myself these questions about 500 times when I first started.

I'm a passion driven teacher. I will really delve into a topic if it's something I truly care about. But at first, I wasn't all that interested in agriculture. Then I realized something, it didn't drive me, because I really didn't understand the importance of it. Luckily, I was surrounded by amazing teachers who guided me through what Ag is and why I should be passionate about it. I found my niche and the passion bloomed.

So why is it important for a general classroom teacher to teach Ag? 

As an educator it is our job to give our students knowledge for the future. Typically we see this as reading/writing, math and science skills, which are all very important.  

But what about health?

Food choices?

Should our kids know where food comes from and how it's grown?

Of course!

Most teachers will cover this in a science class a few times a year, but students often leave school without knowing how important the job of a farmer is. How, without farmers, the world couldn't be fed.

Farming is more than the planting of a seed and Old MacDonald. It's the future for our students. When we only discuss agriculture as an older man singing about his animals, the kids think it's silly and as they get older the subject isn't in their interests at all. 

If we get our students outside planting, or doing hands-on activities they will spark an interest in agriculture. And when our students are interested they start to care and begin to see the effect agriculture has on their lives.

Once you start to see the importance of this subject, you often ask yourself how to start. I know I did, and it's totally okay! Like I said, when I first started, I was clueless. I thought about agriculture and what topics of interest fit into that category.

Try: Cooking

Food, gardening, crops, farm animals, etc. For me, I started small. I love to cook, so why not teach about agriculture through cooking?

I would find different plants, or animals to study and then we would cook a dish once a month that incorporated the food item we learned about. It was easy for me because I was passionate about cooking. While you cook you can teach math and science too, so it was a win-win! 

Try: Doing Research on Your State’s Ag Economy

Cooking isn't the only way to incorporate agriculture though. A coworker suggested that you do research on your state. You can look at crops, livestock and any business that deals with agriculture. After doing this you will have an abundance of information to bring to your students. Studying crops can teach about life cycles, economics, processing, producing and the list goes on. If you connect a student to something in their state it becomes important because it's familiar. When a subject is important they show interest and want to do more.

Try: Books, Ag Mags, or Journaling

I am passionate about literature! Everyday I read a chapter of a novel to my students and I try to get in few picture books a week.

I was able to attend the National Ag in the Classroom conference this year, where I learned about tons of great books! (My wish list is a mile long!) Our students need more than a story about a silly farmer, they need quality literature that incorporates the importance of agriculture. Picture books aren't just for the primary grades either. Middle school students feel nostalgic and excited when you read them a picture book. The best books have great lessons that are beneficial to all ages.

Most states also have an Ag Mag available for any classroom to purchase. This is non-fiction material that they put into a newspaper format for students to learn about different topics. These little magazines are fantastic and you can find them over so many subjects!

You can also incorporate Ag into writing. This is one of my favorite ways to really dive into a subject. We start writing research papers in third grade, so having a monthly or bi-weekly topic for them to research and write about teaches them about Ag. When they discover something interesting and new about a pumpkin or a butterfly they are excited and want to keep learning! Journaling about nature, agriculture you may have at school, or science topics will also cover writing standards while teaching Ag.

Try: Finding Friends

Lastly, one of the best ways to start is to talk to other teachers also doing this. Finding a group to network with can be a lifesaver if you don't know what to do. Even the most educated Ag teachers in my building don't always know what to do, so we reach out to one another and collaborate.  It's an important subject to teach, so we want to help and share so that others can do it too!

Try: Internet Resources

The internet is full of great resources to help you with teaching agriculture.

The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture has a section just for teachers! One amazing thing that Farm Bureau offers is the Pillars of Agricultural Literacy. Each lesson on their site is aligned to a pillar. This is perfect for curriculum alignment and finding out exactly what your grade level should be learning about. The pillars give a lot of guidance, but are also broad enough that a lot of different things can be taught and still align with the pillars. This site even has a link to recommended publications to read to your students. This is my favorite place to find new, quality literature. I can trust that the books will be informative for my students.

I am also a fan of the National Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix. This resource, found on the National Agriculture in the Classroom website, has a search engine that can be used to find hundreds of lessons on so many topics. You can type in just about anything you're wanting to teach and it will bring you whatever lessons or resources they have relating to that topic. You can even submit lessons you've created to be added to the matrix.

Most states also have an Ag in the Classroom website. On these websites you can find resources grouped by theme, holiday, or grade-level. I love that some of these sites plan Ag around thematic units. If you aren't sure what you want to cover in a certain month the sites will give you an idea of a theme related to that month. In October you may want to teach for several weeks about pumpkins, and using these sites you're able to find all of their pumpkin resources in one place.  

I hope you feel inspired to start your first lesson on agriculture. Our kids need to know where their food comes from!

I have created some Ag Brag Tags for you to use in your classroom when you want to brag on your students for working hard and doing their best while learning about ag!

Click the link below to get your freebie.

July 15, 2016

Five For Friday

Happy Friday friends :)

I hope your week has been as wonderful as mine! I can't believe the week is already over. I'm linking up with Kacey from Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five For Friday.

I wasn't lucky enough to attend the TPT conference this year, and I am so heartbroken! I'm getting so jelly seeing all the pictures on social media! But it's motivation enough not to miss it next year. I'm hoping you had a blast if you went!

Have you ever fallen in love with a refrigerator? Because I have! We went shopping for home appliances and furniture for the new house this week and I met my dream fridge. We immediately hit it off and I'm pretty sure I will get to take him home. 

Talk about eye candy. ;)

I participated in this weeks "Tell All Tuesday" link up! If ya'll guessed that number one was my lie, then you are correct! I worked in a K class all through college, so I thought that's what I wanted to teach, but third grade has my heart! If you hopped through and made a guess, thank you for following along! I can't wait for next week's topic! 

With a month left of summer, I decided it was time to get into my classroom and try to fix whatever mess awaited. I was actually excited to start! That was before I ever entered the building though.
Do you ever just get into your classroom and have no motivation? Well that was me! I think I walked around my room 10 times just thinking about what I needed to do. Haha. I took some old things down and cleaned out my desk, but that was it! 

How I stuffed this much junk into my desk, I don't know. But it's all out! I'm going to a teacher table next year so all this stuff will have to find a new home! Any reason to buy more containers! ;)

I'll leave you with this cute picture of my baby. I got him a new shirt so we have to show it off.

July 12, 2016

Tell All Tuesday 2.0: Two Truths and a Lie

Happy Tuesday, beautiful people! I hope you had a great start to your week. I can't believe it's the middle of July already! Ah! 
I am linking up with My Day in K and Teach Talk Inspire for their weekly summer linky. Every Tuesday we will have a fun topic to discuss! This Tuesday we are playing a game called Two Truths and a Lie.

I am not a good liar, like at all. I giggle and smile, people can always tell if I'm fibbing. Luckily ya'll are reading this so I will attempt to trick you ;)

1. When I graduated college I got a job as a kindergarten teacher. I then realized that kindergarten wasn't as much my thing as I hoped it would be and found a spot in 3rd. I like that these guys are more independent, but just as loving. I miss the silly things the kinders say though! Now I've been in third ever since. :)

2. I am the pickiest eater ever! I could eat off the kids menu every time I go out and I would be totally satisfied. I dislike onions, seafood, peppers, beans, and the list goes on. I refuse to eat anything spicy, even ketchup is too much for me sometimes.

3. Growing up I wanted to be a lawyer and an interior designer (Because both at the same time make sense 😜). I think Legally Blonde had something to do with it. I'm also pretty good at arguing ;) As I got older, I realized that probably wasn't the best job for me. I loved working with the tiny humans too much.

All right, now it's your turn to guess! Leave a comment saying which one is my lie! I'll come back with an answer on Friday :)

Be sure to check out the links below to read about more truths and lies!

July 8, 2016

Five For Friday: July 8th

Happy Friday, loves! I'm linking up with Kacey from Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday this week! I hope you have all had a great week!


On Monday I celebrated the Fourth with family and friends. The 4th of July is my favorite holiday. I love watching the fireworks go off. I'm not much into shooting them, but everything else is great.

I also love all of the red, white and blue apparel! I tend to buy a lot of red and blue in the summer. My sister and I made these shoes a couple summers ago, and they're perfect for the fourth ;)

Today is Free Stuff Friday!! Be sure to enter in the Rafflecopter on my last blog post for a chance to win! We are giving away 7 $50 gift cards!

Reading, reading, reading! I've been checking books off my summer reading list! I'm participating in a book journey called Teacher Book Trek, and it's fabulous. I've met some really great teachers who have a passion for reading like me. I just finished Save Me A Seat and it was incredible. :) So check it out if you're looking for a good read!

During our trek we add notes to the book containing our thoughts or favorite parts :) I was the third teacher with this book and it's already full of so many notes. Love it!
Here is my TBR list from a previous post:

1. Booked by Kwame Alexander
2. Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo
3. Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eager
4. Paper Wishes by Lois Sepahban
5. Maybe a Fox by Kathi Appelt and Allison Mcghee
6. The Wild Robot by Peter Brown
7. Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart
8. The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly
**9. The Key to Extraordinary by Natalie Lloyd Currently Reading
10. Pax by Sara Pennypacker 
11. All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor
12. Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk
13. The Night Parade by Kathryn Tanquary
14. Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford
15. Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier
16. Summerlost by Ally Condie
17. The Remarkable Journey of Charlie Price byJennifer Maschari
18. The Girl in the Well is Me by Karen Rivers
19. Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood by Liesl Shurtliff
20. Counting Thyme by Melanie Conklin

What books have you read this summer?

Yesterday I went school shopping with some of my favorite people, my coworkers! We hit KC and went to Mardel's, Target, IKEA, US Toy, Five Below and Hobby Lobby!

We shopped 'til we dropped, that's for sure!

Check out those giant dice! So fun!

And to end the week, here's a favorite from Kid President. 

Have a happy weekend, friends!

July 3, 2016

Oceans of Deals, Steals and Giveaways!

I'm linking up with some amazing teachers to bring you a fin-tastic week of deals and giveaways!

It all starts on Monday, July 4th with Monday Madness. Just search #mondaymadness on TPT to find tons of products for just $1! 

I will have my Homework Helper Bag Tags and Multiplication Wrist Bands on sale in my store

On Tuesday we will be celebrating 2 For Tuesday! Search #2fortuesday on TPT for some great products that are marked down to half off!

I will have my Editable Labels on sale for $2 and my new Ocean Exploration unit on sale for $4. You will only have Tuesday to get some great products for an awesome price! :)

On Wednesday you will be able to visit my Instagram for some flash freebies! Check it out throughout the day to get some great products free for a limited time!

On Thursday we will have sales on bundles! Just search #thriftythursday to find some great deals!

On Friday we will be giving away 7 $50 gift cards! SEVEN! That's awesome! 

Enter here to have a chance at winning a gift card to one of the stores above!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

June 26, 2016

Shark Week Blog Hop: Swim Deeper For A Fintastic Freebie

Welcome friends to our Shark Week blog hop!

As a teacher, we know that engaging lessons capture the attention of our students. What better way to do that than with sharks! I know my students love learning about anything dangerous, scary and creepy. A week of learning about sharks fits perfectly into that category.

Since visits to the ocean to swim with sharks aren't ideal field trips, we have teamed up to give you a bunch of fantastic resources to bring the ocean to your classroom.

I encourage you to visit all of the amazing bloggers on this hop. Their resources are fintastic!

Now, check out this free resource in my store! It is a sneak peek into an upcoming ocean creature unit. In the freebie you will get a passage about sharks along with worksheets to accompany it. The resource will cover reading, writing, vocabulary, and critical thinking. 

Don't forget to check out Sweet Integrations for your next shark week freebie! 

Be sure to stop and lurk at every blog in this Shark Week hop! The jawsome freebies they have won't last long!

June 6, 2016

Magic is Real: My Ron Clark Academy Experience

I recently had the opportunity of a lifetime. I was able to visit the Ron Clark Academy and it was MAGIC. When I got the news that I would be going I was ecstatic, but to be honest I'm not the best traveler; I love it, but it makes me nervous! And going to this school gave me all the jitters, I was so excited. 


As soon as I walked in the door I was put at ease, the students in this school are the sweetest, and most polite children I have ever encountered in my life. When they approach you they make you feel wanted and so welcome. It was like they were waiting just for ME to get there, which can make a teacher any person feel so special! I can't help but want that for anybody that walks into my school, how great would that be?!

When I was in high school we watched The Ron Clark Story in english class, and at that moment my life changed. I wanted to be that kind of teacher. Before that moment I had always wanted to be a teacher, but I wasn't passion driven, what Ron Clark did changed my whole perspective on the career. I had a drive to be the kind of person that changed lives and made a difference. I wanted to be the kind of educator that made kids want to come to school! 


All of the teachers at this school have that drive and passion and it's absolutely amazing. To be in the presence of such admirable people gives you the kind of push to be better and to do more. I already know my summer will be spent thinking of new things, and getting the things I need to make these ideas happen. As I was watching lessons, and listening to the teachers my mind was thinking of all the possibilities. 



My time at the school was hands down, the best professional development I've ever done. I've only taught for two years, but I have a feeling that isn't going to change. If you are ever given the opportunity, GO! I wish for everyone to have a chance to experience the joy and love of this school. But go with a positive mind, and think of all you can do, not of everything you can't do! 



If I could take one thing away from this experience it would be to teach with all you have. Bad days suck, sometimes life in general just sucks. But we only have so much time with these kids that will one day be making impacts on our society, so make each day meaningful
The complaints I always hear usually have something to do with RCA being a private school and having more opportunities, which is true in most cases, such as travel. But don't let what you don't have prevent you from trying. Magic can happen in your classroom if you open your mind to it. I've transformed my classroom with just tablecloths and a good story. Your students have imaginations, we as teachers need to take that and use it! 

Watching Hope King teach like, is this real life!? 


May 20, 2016

Five for Friday! 5/20

Happy Friday, friends! I'm linking up with Kaci from Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday.  I hope you all had a super great week! It was my first week of summer break! It was freezing and rainy here in Kansas, I bundled up most of the week. I miss the sunshine.

I wish I could say I had a productive first week! Haha. But I think I relaxed a great bit of my time. With the relaxing, I did do some creating! I added a few new products to my store. I hope to add more throughout the summer! These are some things I used last year, and just added!
These are great for practicing mastery! We copied them to colored paper and just taped them to their wrists! The best part was that when they wore them outside of our room, others would ask about them. They could then recite what they are learning :) Find them HERE

My students each had a copy of this dictionary in their desk. Anytime they had a spelling question they would refer here first. If they couldn't find their word, then they came to me with their journal and I would write it in. It stopped the constant question "How do I spell....?" If you would like this resource, find it HERE :)

My Donors Choose project got funded today! As I type this, actually. :) I am so excited!! I will be starting an art club after school for the students in my school. Some of our kids stay late to ride the bus, and this will give them something to do! We will be focusing on nature and doing things outside and with materials we find in nature. So I am looking forward to that!!

I joined in my first blog hope this week! That was so exciting! I now have 200 Instagram followers. I know that's not many, but I was thrilled. Hahah. It's the little things ;) I uploaded this FREEBIE to more store for the hop. I added it to my bubble wands for an end-of-the-year gift!

For our last day we did our annual field day! I was in charge of a group with another teacher. We always have lots of fun playing the games. The kids love it! 

My summer #toberead list is getting longer and longer. I've already started and finished a few!
I'm reading in preparation for our Mock Newbery at the beginning of the year. I will also be mailing copies of my list to students I had last year. I hope that they can get in on the action, even when they aren't in my class :)

Here's my list so far:
1. Booked by Kwame Alexander
2. Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo
3. Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eager
4. Paper Wishes by Lois Sepahban
5. Maybe a Fox by Kathi Appelt and Allison Mcghee
6. The Wild Robot by Peter Brown
7. Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart
8. The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly
9. The Key to Extraordinary by Natalie Lloyd
10. Pax by Sara Pennypacker 
11. All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor
12. Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk
13. The Night Parade by Kathryn Tanquary
14. Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford
15. Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier
16. Summerlost byAlly Condie
17. The Remarkable Journey of Charlie Price byJennifer Maschari
18. The Girl in the Well is Me by Karen Rivers
19. Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood by Liesl Shurtliff
20. Counting Thyme by Melanie Conklin

Do you have any suggestions that I should add to my list?

Thanks for stopping by!

May 14, 2016

Sweet Summertime: Summer Countdown Bloghop

Happy Saturday friends! Thank you for following along on this awesome Summer Countdown blog hop! I hope you score some wonderful freebies along the way. Keep reading for a freebie and a TPT giveaway ;)

Is anybody else as excited for summer as us?! I know I am :) My summer vacation actually started yesterday at 3:45pm. Crazy, right?! I can't believe the school year has already ended. I always get sad on the last day of school. I work in a small school so the relationships that I build are pretty tight and I miss my kiddos SO much. But as sad as I was, I was also ready for a break. 

I can definitely tell that the break is approaching. My students have been extremely chatty. I have a really quiet and well behaved group, so it was something I wasn't used to all year. 

Coincidentally, my last day was Friday the 13th. ;)

With the end of the year approaching for most schools, I thought I would share my top 5 tips for keeping my students busy and focused throughout the crazy.

As the last days are being counted down I think a lot of kids and teachers begin to get too relaxed about school. Movies are played and bad behaviors are overlooked. I believe in teaching as much as I can, for as long as I can. Yes, even on the last day of school. We only have so many hours a year to spend with these kiddos to make a difference in their life. I'm tired, they're tired, but putting a movie in isn't going to teach them. That's a babysitter. 

I teach using games, going outside, or doing fun activities. The kids can be actively learning even when you're doing something as simple as having a competition with math facts or baking for another class. It's easy to get caught up in the thrills of the approaching break, believe me, I want to. But I also have a duty as their teacher to teach them things! My kids have never seemed to mind. 

We do Accelerated Reader at my school. The point parties and rewards are over, but my kids are still reading and wanting to take tests despite the need for a reward. They just love to learn! Teaching for as long as you can is still possible, you just have to motivate yourself to do it.

I LOVE GoNoodle. We use it daily in my classroom. During the end of the year we are tired and ready for summer. When I can tell my kids are beginning to lose interest I always turn on their favorite video and suddenly they are back with me. GoNoodle is an easy way to achieve engagement while also doing activities to promote physical and mental exercise. 

Their favorites are Pop See Ko, and any videos with cats. This class is crazy about cats. 

Another fun thing to do at the end of the year is random acts of kindness. In my class we counted down the days, starting at the number of students I had in my class. Each day we would draw a name and they would get to pick a kindness deed to be done that day. They loved being able to spread happiness throughout the school, and the other kids loved it too. 
One day my kids made cookies for another class. 

Some days they would read to other classes, write kind notes to students and staff, smile at everyone we passed by, and pick up trash. Each day a student had a unique idea to celebrate our last days with kindness.

Compliment Parties are my favorite kind of party. 
Throughout the year my kids work for parties when they have a certain behavior while with another teacher or outside of the classroom. We usually base it on being great with a sub, getting a compliment from another teacher for having polite manners, or showing bravery and courage. 

When they demonstrate any of these great behaviors they earn the chance to guess a letter on our hangman board. If they guess a correct letter it goes into the correct space, if not then it goes into the discard pile. They have to earn every letter to get the party, even if they know what the hangman spells out. I usually have it spell out the party they are going to earn, but in a fun way. In the past we did "Sleepy Time Celebration" for a pajama party or "Super Sundae Surprise" for an ice cream party.
I always tie each party to something we are learning in class, or make a review game for them that has the theme of our party.

Although we do this all year, I still have a game going until the last day of school. Sometimes my kids earn it in the last week. We had our last party on Wednesday. I think this motivates them to keep up with the great behavior they had shown throughout the year.

Go Outside!!

My kids love being outdoors! We can do so much of our learning out there. I teach at an Agricultural charter school, so we do have access to a lot of outdoor activities. Even without this there is so much you can do. We read outside all throughout the month of May. They think it's so fun to get the blankets and read like they're at a picnic.

Spring is also the perfect time to plant! We plant flowers, butterfly plants and vegetables in all of our gardens. 

We had a watermelon party outside this year too. We taste tested different kinds of watermelon, made graphs, wrote stories and had a seed spitting contest. We used the packet It's A Watermelon Summer by Mrs. Baker's Dozen. So cute and perfect for the end of the year!!

Thank you so much for joining in and hopping through some amazing summer activities. I have a little freebie for you for joining in with us! I created some colorful tags that I attached to bubbles for end of the year gifts. Click Here to download this freebie! I got a 6 pack of large bubble wands at Wal-Mart for less than 4 dollars. Such a great deal! 

You can also enter my giveaway below for a $10 TPT gift card to celebrate the start of my Teachers Pay Teachers store! The winner will be announced Wednesday, May 18th.

This would be great for all of your end of the year needs. I just added a set of  end of the year awards to my store, so check them out!

Hop on over to The Bender Bunch for the rest of the countdown!
a Rafflecopter giveaway