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December 30, 2012

Kristin's Coupon Class

A couple of  friends asked me to explain how I coupon, so I thought I would share it with everyone. First, I am not an "EXTREME" couponer, but I do take it seriously. Secondly, I am not an "expert". I just do it to save money. It has sort of become a hobby.

Step #1) I clean out my fridge and pantry. This allows me to get rid of any expired food and take stock of items that are low. (I do it Friday after school. This helps me unwind and prepare for the weekend.)

Step #2) Make a list. My husband makes one, too. (His is due to me by 9:00 p.m. on Friday.)

Step #3) Check the grocery ads for items on your list. You can go through each ad or check one of the websites that has already checked them. I like the following sites:

I <3 the Mart - Paul Ivanovsky publishes this blog.  He shops at the same Wal-Mart that I do. In fact, I've  bumped into him a couple of times while shopping. I recommend signing up for his emails.

Coupon Diva - When I have time or when I didn't receive a certain grocery circular, I check here.

This is the beginning of this week's list.

Step #4) Make a second list of your ad matches.

Step #5) Go through your coupons. Pull ones you plan on using. The last weekend of the month, evaluate any coupons that are about to expire. Do you need that item? Do you have another coupon for the same item with a later expiration date?

Step #6) Code your grocery list. I mark items that I have an ad match with a boxed in  AD and items that I have a coupon for with a circled C.

Step #7) Shop at Wal-Mart. As I shop, I put the ad match items in the upper part of the cart, then when I check out, I put them at the back of the conveyor belt. There are certain checkers that are better at dealing with ad matches. (A special shout out to Liz! She has told me about ad matches on items that I missed.)

Step #8) As I shop, I circle the items on my ad match list that I ad to my cart and write down the Wal-Mart price. When I check out, I have my ad match list ready. I, also, quickly go through my coupons and make sure I bought every item.

Step #9) After I get home and put away my groceries, I use my receipt and ad match list to calculate my savings. I record it in a little notebook. At the end of the month, quarter, and year, I add up my savings. In 2011, I saved $634.22. In 2012, I tracked ad matches vs. coupons. They were fairly equal. Ad match savings $430.88 and coupon savings $455.30 for a grand total of $886. 18. My goal for 2013 is to save $1000.

Step #10) Collect coupons. I buy a Sunday newspaper and print coupons from Coupons.com or from the Wal-Mart site. Click the links below. I keep them in an organizer by category. If I have time, I organize them by date. I keep all of the coupons that I don't cut out in a files. Occasionally, I find one that I need later, but it is rare.


Wal-Mart coupons (run by coupons.com)

This is the way I coupon. I know there are others, who do it better and maybe even more efficiently. However, this is what fits into my schedule. It has become my weekly routine.

Good Luck!


December 28, 2012

#26 Acts

By now most of you have probably seen or heard about Ann Curry's 26 Acts of Kindness challenge. 26 has always been one of my favorite numbers. I was born on the 26th. Two weeks ago, the #26 took on a whole new meaning.

I was in the library with both of my classes and my teaching partner, when I learned about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. My partner read the news on his phone and shared it with me. I guess I was in shock or knew my kids were around, but I didn't react. It wasn't until later that evening, when I was reading all of the messages on Facebook and watching the 5:30 evening news, that the reality of this incident sank in. I am not a super emotional person. I may tear up watching "Marley & Me" or a Hallmark commercial, but I never just  have a good cry. That evening, I sobbed.

Sunday at church, they invited people to bring prayer shawls. During the service, they asked for the shawls to come to the altar, but then they asked for teachers and retired teachers to come pray over the shawls. I grabbed my friend & retired co-worker, Susan's hand. The altar was so full, we couldn't reach a shawl, but we prayed together. It is hard to describe, but my heart felt a little lighter. The heaviness of the news I had been watching all weekend seemed more manageable, though I was still dreading Monday morning.

I have not dreaded a school day, as much as I dreaded Monday, since the day after 9/11. I wasn't sure how my kids would react. Would they even show up or would their parents keep them home? All of my fear, worry, and dread were alleviated when I saw one of my sweet girls in the cafeteria. She gave me a hug and said "Good Morning!" like it was just another day at school. Once the rest of the class arrived, there was no "talk" about it. They just carried on in their normal Monday morning routine. I took them to specials and went back to my classroom to prepare for the day. I received an email from my principal asking us to please keep our doors locked at all times and carry our keys with us. Although, we are a pretty secure campus, we were going to be even tighter and more secure. When I picked up my class from P.E., they immediately noticed the difference and then I had to explain why my door was locked. I asked them if they knew what happened on Friday. All 22 students raised their hands. We didn't discuss the events, but discussed our security and how I was going to keep them safe. The rest of the day and week were easier, but the 26 lost lives has remained in the back of my mind and on my heart. This is why I am choosing to participate in the #26 Acts challenge.

As I complete my 26 acts, I will update this post. It may take awhile. I plan to do things that don't cost money, but give of myself or my time. My goal is to complete at least one round of 26 acts before Dec. 14, 2013. However, I think I can do it twice (that is at least one a week).

1. Turned on the copier and restocked it with paper before the other teachers arrived in the morning.
2. Held a door for a woman with too many shopping bags.
3. Picked up breakfast for my partner and delivered it to him while he was tutoring our students in Math.
4. Pulled empty water bottles out of the trash and recycled them. (The Earth deserves some kindness, too.)
5. Took several bags of clothes and shoes to Goodwill.
6. Restocked the tissues in my pew at church.

7. Purchased a green angel at Garden Ridge to remind me to continue to spread kindness. It hangs from my rear view mirror. No one has asked about it, but I hope they will, so I can remind them to be kind.
8. Took my paper recycling to a less privileged school in my district. (Paper Champion pays schools for paper recycling.)
9. Took my December/January magazines to my doctor's office and left them in the waiting room.
10. Shared extra birthday cake (not mine) with a coworker and her family.
11. Cleaned out my pantry and took "extra" food to church for the local food pantry.
12. Used my couponing skills to purchase cereal to share with a family at school that needed to stock their pantry.
13. Loaned a teammate my coat for car rider duty.
14. Gave a student a snack that had left their snack at home.
15. Shared my umbrella with a coworker until she found hers.
16. Shared my student's finished work examples with teammates to use with their classes.
17. Gave the "regular" Chinese food delivery guy a "generous" tip.
18.  Helped a boy scout with his project by making copies and collecting donations for the local animal shelter.
19.  Started a "Ticket of Appreciation" program with my students, so they can learn to pass on kindness.
20.  Logged on to Values.com and requested a free pack of posters & a DVD.  When it arrived, I posted a "Kindness: Pass it on." poster in my classroom. Again, I want to teach my students to be kind and pass it on to others.
21. When stopped at a 4 way stop sign, I frequently let the other driver go first. I, also, try to let 2-3 drivers in before closing a gap. [Don't want to thoroughly tick off the driver behind me. I don't want to let my kindess be the cause of someone else's road rage.]
22. Left coupons that are about to expire on products at the store, so other shoppers can save.
23. Put antibacterial soap in several bathrooms.


December 10, 2012

Plural light bulbs

Every week, I receive The Mailbox newsletter. This past week, it included a light bulb pattern. I printed it, copied it, but didn't know what I was going to use it for. Then, inspiration struck. We needed to practice our plural patterns for word study. I assigned each student either -s, -es, or -ies. They had to write the pattern, the rule, then read the room to find 10 examples.

This week, we need to work on irregular plurals. I was looking for a new shape/project for our irregular plurals, then I found the stocking craftivity from "A Cupcake for the Teacher". Perfect!


December 9, 2012

Native Texan lapbook

Again, I was inspired by another teacher, Janaye at Tales of Frogs and Cupcakes.

My district scope & sequence allots one week to teach about Native Americans. I knew I needed something quick and easy. I decided to put together my own lapbook with foldables. 

We started with a piece of construction paper folded in half. Next, we added a map, map key, and title. As we studied each group, we added the neighboring tribes. 

I liked the idea of Janaye's Kiowa circle book. I found a wheel book pattern at Home School Share.
I divided one circle into fourths and wrote the questions that I wanted them to answer. 
Then we cut the top wheel pattern out of construction paper. 
We used a brad to put it all together and make it spin. 

This is my favorite foldable. I used the small octagon accordion book from Home School Share.
We decorated the top octagon like a fish. We recycled a piece of the scrap paper to make a tail for our fish. This kid forgot the fish eye, but got really creative with the fish scales.
Again I wrote the questions that I wanted them to answer in the other octagons. 


The third tribe we studies were the Jumanos. 
This is a T-5 space book from Home School Share.
We drew a pueblo looking house on the cover along with the tribe name. 
Inside students answered the same 4 questions.

The final tribe, we study are the Comanches. We made a 3/4 book. 
This is the only one that I may change next year. 


December 5, 2012

Non-fiction Text Structure

I'm not a thief, but I am "easily inspired". 

The challenge...address these TEKS:

11(A) summarize the main idea and supporting details in text in ways that maintain the meaning.
11 (B) distinguish fact from opinion in a text and explain how to verify what is a fact using evidence from informational/expository text
11(C) describe explicit and implicit relationships among ideas in informational/expository text organized by cause- and-effect, sequence, or comparison
11(D) use multiple text features (e.g. guide words, topic and concluding sentences) to gain an overview of the contents of text and to locate information.

My solution...
Every student got a step book made from 3 sheets of copy paper cut in half.
I printed out the non-fiction text structure posters (9 to a page).  
I found them on Pinterest, but they originally came from a Scholastic website.  

We glued the mini poster at the top of the flip book page. 
Then, we read 5 pre-selected articles from Time for Kids.
 After they read an article, students decided which text structure it fit and recorded it in their flip book.
They, also, took note using the concept map for each structure. 

Finally, one more anchor chart this week. I copied slightly larger (4X6) mini-posters. 
I wish I had printed them 5X8. It feels like it missing something, but I am not sure what. 
I think I might list other non-fiction articles on it as we read them this year. 


December 4, 2012

Anchor Charts & a Ferris Bueller Moment

Pass the butter, I've been on a roll lately...making anchor charts.

#1 Personal Narrative 
Inspiration                                                             My Version

I made this one to review personal narratives with my students. Today they took a benchmark. I hope they looked at it. If not, it is moving to my writing wall. They get to do another benchmark in January. Maybe if they stare at it long enough, it will sink in. 

#2 Adverbs
Inspiration                                                               My Version

This week all of our mentor sentences contain adverbs. I made this chart to help explain adverbs. Of course, I went back to my childhood and showed School House Rock's "Lolly Lolly Lolly Get Your Adverbs Here" and a new favorite The Grammarheads "Adverb Song". 

#3 Plurals

Where is my version? Forgot to take the picture today. I will update the post tomorrow.

Finally, my Ferris Bueller moment...a student came up to me at recess. In a very soft, almost whisper voice, she asked me if I wanted a piece of candy. Sure. She reaches into her pocket, pulls out a napkin, and unwraps a candied orange slice. Instantly, the end of Ferris Bueller flashes into my mind. "Gummi bear? It's been in my pocket; they're real warm and soft." [In case your wondering, I took the candy, but I "saved" it for later and the trashcan.]


December 2, 2012

December Currently

When I started filling out my December Currently, I was watching an episode of Ellen, but then my computer overheated and shut down. I should have posted that I need a new laptop fan.

I grew up in Kansas, so I love winter in Texas. I don't miss the snow one bit.

I am not looking forward to teaching writing this week. Tuesday, my students are going to do a "mock" writing benchmark and write a personal narrative, then Wednesday it is back to expository writing. Then in January, they will take ANOTHER writing benchmark over two days. I will have 44 narratives and 44 expository compositions to grade. Yeah me!

I started a project this morning. I spray painted a board white. I need to cut out some letters. Respray the board red, then staple tinsel garland on it. Once I finish, I'll take pictures and post it as December Made It.
I, also, need to finish decorating my house. I put up the tree and started adding lights. Only to discover a hodge podge of blinking and not lighting up at all. Tomorrow, I will fix it, but I am procrastinating today.

My RAK...at my school, we regularly nominate staff members for C.E.O awards (Chief Energy Officers). The winners receive a certificate and a duty covered by the administrators. I nominated my partner and he won Wednesday.

Our district has SAE and TAE awards (Student and Teachers Achieving Excellence). Parents and teachers can nominate other teachers. A copy is then emailed to the teacher and their administrators, plus their name goes into a drawing for gift card for a massage (at my school). This past Friday I received one. Woo Hoo! 

Now, it is my turn to nominate another teacher. 


November 24, 2012

Liebster Award

WOW! What a surprise! Thank you to Mrs. Young at Young Daze in 5th Grade for nominating my blog. This award is given by bloggers to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. It is to show new bloggers that they are appreciated and to help spread the word about new blogs. I hope it also encourages them to keep blogging. 

The Rules:

- You must post 11 random things about yourself..
- Answer the questions that the nominator set for you.
- Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.
- Choose 11 blogs you love (with less than 200 followers) and link them in your post.
- No tag back (but please leave me a comment on this post with the URL to your Liebster post so I can learn more about you)!

Random things about me...
1. I grew up in the suburbs of Kansas City.
2. My first major was political science and international business.
3. I’ve never ridden a roller coaster or visited Disney World.
4. I hate the smell of canned tuna fish and would leave the house when my mom opened a can.
5. My gag reflex is so bad that the doctors can’t even use a tongue depressor on me.
6. I collected Hall & Oates cassette tapes growing up.
7. I am the shortest member of my family @ 5’ 8”.
8. All of my pets’ names begin with “Sk”.
9. I am addicted to Diet Mountain Dew and Crystal Light Fruit Punch.
10. I love snowmen.
11. My favorite color is green (lime or kelly).

Answers to Mrs. Young's Questions:
  1. Where is your favorite place you’ve ever visited?
Cancun, Mexico – I loved the tropical breezes in December and having black beans for breakfast.

  1. Where is your favorite place to shop for teacher clothes?
Kohl’s or Macy’s – I like to get in and get out.

  1. Favorite holiday tradition?
We go to church on Christmas eve, drive around and look at lights until we run low on gas (has happened more than once), and then home for dinner, usually chili.

  1. Favorite book to read with your students?
The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards – I love reading it using voices for all of the characters, especially the Splinter Cat.

  1. Why do you blog?
I love to share my ideas, because I love getting new ideas from others. I once beat out another candidate for a job, because when asked about sharing I offered up several ideas and the candidate before me refused to go out to her car to get a file. Her loss. I was at that school for 12 years.

  1. Favorite song?
My favorite old school song, “Kiss On My List” by Hall & Oates.
Current favorite songs, “Want U Back” by Cher Lloyd or “Everybody Talks” by Neon Trees

  1. Has it snowed yet where you live?
No and it better not. I live in southeastern Texas. It has only snowed 3 times in the 20 years that I’ve lived here.

  1. Favorite quote? Inspirational from song or movie.
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. “ ~ Ferris Bueller
What can I say, I’m a child of the 80’s.

  1. Can’t live without teacher item?
My calendar. I don’t wait until they give us a new one. I buy my own, usually the first week they are on sale at Wal-Mart.

  1. Who is your childhood superhero?
Wonderwoman – I loved her gold bracelets and lasso of truth.

  1. Favorite TV show?
“The Big Bang Theory” – I love Sheldon!!!

Questions I'm Asking My Nominees:

  1. How did you end up in your grade level and/or subject area?
  2. How many teammates do you have?
  3. Do you plan alone or as part of a team?
  4. What is your favorite read aloud?
  5. What games/activities do you do at your student holiday party?
  6. Why did you start blogging?
  7. What “makes” your holidays?
  8. What is your favorite pizza topping?
  9. What book are you currently reading?
  10. What is your favorite holiday carol/song?
  11. If you weren’t a teacher/educator, what would you be doing?

Blogs I'm Nominating:


November 6, 2012


Theme is a difficult concept to teach. I'm sure I am not alone in this feeling. I've been searching all over Pinterest and teacher blogs to find a way to teach it. I ended up combining several ideas into one anchor chart.

My inspiration...


My final product...a theme umbrella!


November 3, 2012

November Currently

It's that time again. Time to link up to Farley at Oh Boy Fourth Grade!

I didn't know it was supposed to rain today, but very grateful. Now, if only I could take a nap. It would be the perfect Saturday afternoon.

Loving my new blog design! It is so me! It was like Megan was reading my mind and knew I love polka dots. My school colors are navy and tan, but we have two different teal accent colors. The lime represents my addiction to Diet Mountain Dew. So, like I said, it is perfect!

What's for dinner? I went shopping this morning, but I still don't know.

Anyone know a fairy godmother that could swoop in, wave her magic wand, and clean my house? I don't like doing it and I am a procrastinator. Messy combination!

I've taken a couple days off since September, but I still need a break. I NEED a week off, not just a day. I need to start shopping. I need to get off this computer. : )

This morning I woke up singing both. Why? We watched the recording of the CMA's last night, so the rest of the night I was "....mmmmm...motorboating....". The other is my fault. Teachers at my school are going to do the "Sid Shuffle" as a reward to our students for collecting pledges from all 50 states (twice) during our Boosterthon Fun Run fundraiser. (I should read all of the directions before I post. So, the second one is for school.)

Thanks for checking out what I am "Currently" up to. Now, go see what everyone else is doing!


November 1, 2012

Monday Made It - November

Oops! I didn't take a picture of mine, so I am going to have to use the original pin. For Halloween I made my teammates some pretzel pumpkins and added an owl tag. It's probably better that I didn't take a picture of mine, because they weren't this orange. It took me 3 tries to get 45 pretzels. I wasted an entire bag of white chocolate chips, 1/2 a bag of almond bark, and almost an entire squeeze bottle of red and yellow food coloring.

I use the Comprehension Tool Kit (see a previous post). I made this anchor chart with my students. I was pretty impressed that they had so many strategies for answering questions. 

This week our word study focused on the suffix -sion. My students made a graffiti wall chart.
It's funny how many more words they will search for and find if 
they can use a marker,  write their name on it, and make it public. Now, I just have to teach them to read it first and make sure they are not duplicating words. Oh! ...and spell them correctly on the assessment on Friday.

Although, I purchased this awesome station from Tara at 4th Grade Frolics, I just now got around to laminating and cutting it out. My kids will be so excited that the magnetic letters are coming back out Monday.