Wednesday, June 24, 2015

And the Madness Continues...

Makeover madness, that is.

I hope it's okay that I'm still using the #TPTSellerChallenge idea from last week, but I just can't seem to stop myself. I have several old products that are actually some of my better sellers, but they could just use a good touch-up. So I'm carrying on with the "Makeover Madness" and sharing another product makeover.

I love this product, and I think it contains some great information. It just needed to be tweaked a bit for overall visual appeal. The material is still the same as far as content is concerned, but I have altered the appearance a bit. Check out the new-and-improved "Resources for Close Reading Instruction."

I started with the cover. I love the new look...
Next, I gave a couple of the printable reference posters complete overhauls. They really needed it...

Throughout the rest of the product, I tweaked the fonts and borders to give it a slightly fresh look.
Last, I updated the credits page and made a preview file for the listing. In all, I'm pretty pleased with the results. What do you think? You can check out the full listing here in the Tally Tales TPT store!

Monday, June 22, 2015

TPT Seller Challenge Week 2: Dare to Dream

Today I'm excited to participate in Week 2 of the #TPTSellerChallenge, which is being hosted by Sparkling in Second GradePeppyZestyTeacheristaThird in Hollywood, and Teach, Create, Motivate. This week's challenge focuses on sharing your goals and dreams for your TPT store. I have to be honest here; I don't think my "dreams" are all that snazzy. I'm interested to see what others have to say about this one, because I'm afraid my responses are entirely too practical. 

Regardless, here are my "dreams" for my TPT store, in no particular order…
*Gift-Giving:  It is such an honor to have people actually want to pay money for the resources I create. Almost all of the money I earn from TPT currently goes toward purchases for other people as Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, etc. I'm not to the point yet where that money pays for all of those gifts, but I think it would be incredible if that was possible at some point in the future. For me, it's such a neat concept to turn that money into a gift for someone else. It's almost a pay-it-forward concept, and I think it's a great way to utilize money other teachers so graciously invest in my store. 

*College Fund: I am fortunate enough to have no lingering college debt at this point. However, I shudder to think of what it is going to cost to pay for our baby girl's degree when that time rolls around in, oh, eighteen years or so. The tuition rates are always on the rise, you know… We have already begun looking at payment options to establish a reliable college fund for her, and I can only imagine how incredible it would be if TPT money could go toward that investment. 

*Connections and Resources: Almost every product in my store is one I originally created to use in my own classroom, so being able to share those things as resources for other teachers is really cool. I love making connections with other teachers, and TPT (as well as blogging) provides a great venue for that. In my dream world, I would have established a widespread connection with other teachers, and I would be able to truly support them with the resources I provide in my store. 

So that's it! Those are my major long-term goals for my TPT store. I can't wait to hop around and see what other have to say. Thanks for visiting me here and reading! :)

Saturday, June 20, 2015

A Story for Father's Day

Once upon a time there was this boy, who decided to ask a girl to go out on a date. So he did. Time passed, and he realized this girl was the one God had made for him. He asked her to marry him, and they were married on a December day in a little chapel just big enough to hold their family and friends. The preacher spoke, the music played, people smiled, and some might have cried a little. On that day, the boyfriend who had become a fiancĂ© drove away as a husband. 

That girl loved her husband, and that boy loved his wife... 

But rest assured, there are imperfections in even a close-to-perfect relationship. Even when God designs it. Even when you are "made for each other." Nothing is ever so perfect that it's always easy. 

Still, those two kids learned how to love through all that, and one day they decided to let their family grow a little. They prayed for a healthy baby, and God gave them a beautiful baby girl with bright eyes and a glowing smile.

And that boy became a father.

Now this is where the story gets really good. 

Not on the day he proposed or the day he got married... All of that led up to this. This moment when a new daddy met the girl that really would teach him about love and sacrifice and what it meant to love another more than yourself…

Because let's be honest here: until that moment, the tests had been small. The sacrifices had been minor. You just don't realize that until the littlest person rocks your world with the greatest change of all. 

This is where I think our society today gets it wrong... Because so many never get to this point at all. So many people focus on the fiancé and the groom, but those identities are fleeting. Once they pass, you have to love this person in your life- good, bad, and ugly.

But, hey, you...? You teen or tween or whatever the catch-phrase...? Do you know what really looks good on a man? Watching him become the father of your child. 

It's even more amazing when he loves the Lord first, because that's where he'll turn when things turn tough. And that's who he'll praise when life turns out beautiful. And your child will get to grow up, watching faith like that lead your home.

I know, I know. It sounds so... Plain. So boring. But this is true life, true love, and there is nothing mundane about it when you are swept up in living it. The truth is you have been fed so many lies when it comes to love stories. Far too many people spend too much time writing the wrong end of the love story. 

Yes, it's important that the dress is pretty and the day is special. But that day he becomes your husband will pale in comparison to the day he becomes the father of your child... And chances are likely you'll be wearing a dingy hospital gown on what will really be the greatest day of your life.

Because here's the sweet secret to parenthood... When you see your husband become a daddy, you get to fall in love with him all over again. The sad thing is that most often, in Hollywood or the pages of the latest fiction trend, the story ends when the guy gets the girl. In reality, that guy is just getting started.

Our little girl is so lucky, because she is going to grow up in a home where her daddy is determined to keep her Heavenly Father at the core of the home. She is going to hear him pray and see him read the Word. He's that kind of daddy, and he's so worth celebrating- today and always. 

I grew up with that kind of daddy too, and that upbringing led to this... This heritage of holiness that has nothing to do with wedding dresses and glamour and everything to do with love. Real, genuine love that trickles down directly from the Heavenly Father, through the earthly father in the home.

I am beyond grateful to have wonderful fathers in my life, and I am grateful for this day that honors them. Happy Father's Day…! 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

TPT Seller Challenge Week 1: Makeover Madness

I am apparently a little behind on things, but I just discovered the #TPTSellerChallenge 4-week event, which is being hosted by Sparkling in Second Grade, PeppyZestyTeacherista, Third in Hollywood, and Teach, Create, Motivate. Week 1's challenge was released on Tuesday, but I really want to participate, so... better late than never, right?!?

Week 1 is "Makeover Madness" and I decided to give one of my best-selling products, the Back to School Packet, a much-needed face lift.

I started with the cover. The original design just seemed a bit plain to me. Or maybe I have just looked at it too many times. Either way, I was tired of it, and I wanted to give it an overhaul. So you can see the changes below...
Next, I added an instructions page to coincide with the Starburst-Themed Treat Bag tags within the product. This page includes a great image of what these treat bags might look like with the tags I have created. I love a good picture within a product; it really helps me visualize using that product myself.
Then I added borders to several pages that were just. too. plain.
Last, but certainly not least, I created a preview file for this product. Most of my older products lack preview files, and I need to begin revisiting them all to make this alteration. I am happy to have this one finished! Head over to the Tally Tales TPT Store to check out the made-over Back to School Packet! :) Oh, and it's on sale this week!

Monday, June 15, 2015

TPT Sale: Enjoy 20% Off This Week!

Hey teacher friends! I just thought I would share a little happy news with you today! 

This week, June 16-19th, The Tally Tales TPT store is having a 20% off sale! If you have a chance, stop by and check out some of the new inventory. I have added several new products lately, and this is a great time to grab them! :)

Sunday, June 14, 2015

5 months!

Someone is five months old today?
 Well, that makes me pretty happy!

:) Here are a few details of the last month of this little darling's life…

Our most recent checkup went well! This girl is growing like crazy! Look at that happy little chunk…!
She absolutely loves being outside. On pretty days, I open the door and sit her where she can see outside. She will sit and stare for quite some time. Of course, her furry big brother likes this as well… 
We have started spoon feeding! So far, she has eaten loved every vegetable she has tried. I don't think this child is going to be a picky eater…
Play time has become much more eventful. Ambree Kate is highly engaged with her little toys now. She loves colors, sounds, and anything she can tug or push a bit.

Play hard, sleep harder. She likes to cuddle with something soft when she sleeps now. I think it's precious to see her hugging this little lamb.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Roll-and-Read Activities for Kinesthetic Learners

Teaching with a multisensory approach to learning is so much fun…  not only for the students, but for the teacher as well! I have found that my students really love it when we use dice or cubes in reading activities. With that in mind, I have created a product that I will use primarily to help reinforce syllable type fluency and awareness. These word cubes are engaging for all students, but they are particularly appealing to those kinesthetic learners who need that little extra chunk of motion to stay truly involved in the lesson.

These word cubes are now available in the Tally Tales TPT store. Please view the preview images and descriptions below for more details about this product. If you are interested, you can access it here.

I designed each cube template to be very printer-friendly, so you can easily print all of the activities within this product without worrying about depleting your ink supply. The instructions are the same for each cube; print them (preferably onto cardstock to make them more stable and durable), cut them out, and fold along the external tabs to shape the actual cube.
Within the product, you will find a word cube devoted to each syllable type. 

Some references combine vowel teams and diphthongs into one category. They are separated here in alignment with Orton Gillingham training recommendations. However, you may choose to use these cubes together if that more closely fits your reading instruction.

Four cubes feature words of various syllable types, combined together. These cubes would be great to use in review exercises once students have been introduced to all types of syllables.
You may choose to have your students only read the words after rolling. However, should you want to build on the basic exercise a bit, I also included a couple of suggestions for extension activities.
One cube features the syllable types, rather than only words. This cube would be suitable as a challenge activity for older or more advanced students who have developed a stable knowledge of syllables. With this cube, the activity is reversed; students roll to determine a syllable type, and then they have to think of a word that would fit that type of syllable.
Finally, I included a completely blank cube template. You may want to create a word cube that features specific words you choose, or you may want students to create their own word cubes to take home for additional practice. Whatever your goal, you have access to a template that will allow you to create a cube of your own design.
I tried to be thorough in providing materials that I felt would make this product applicable to a variety of age groups and instructional settings, but these simple little cubes are pretty versatile in application; I'm sure you could find ways to use them other than those I have mentioned here. Regardless, should you choose to incorporate these into your reading instruction, I hope they will be fun, effective activities for your little readers! If you (and your students) enjoy using cubes like this as much as I do, check back in the future; I plan to create a full line of roll-and-read word cubes.

As always, thanks so much for visiting!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Stamp the Alphabet

If you are looking for an engaging, simple activity to promote alphabet knowledge among beginning readers and writers, try a "stamp the alphabet" exercise. I used this particular one with a group of Kindergarten students to review uppercase/lowercase letter matchup as well as letter order. They stamped the entire alphabet, but you could choose to focus only on smaller segments or even individual letters if that would be more appropriate for your students.
You just need a set of alphabet stamps, ink pads, and paper. I love these stamps because one set contains uppercase letters, while the other set contains the corresponding lowercase letters. I received these particular stamps through a LETRS training, but you could just as easily find alphabet stamps at a craft store to create your own sets.
I try to let my students be as independent as possible with this activity. We review their work together and note any corrections with highlighters when they are finished. Oftentimes, they find little errors along the way on their own. We draw arrows or marks with "pretty" colors, so mistakes do not seem harsh to them; making corrections is just another part of the activity.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Magic E Fold-and-Read Flap Books

I have a new favorite to share with you! If you teach about "Magic E" (or "Silent E") then you may find these simple, but fun books to be helpful to your instruction with this concept.
These easy-to-use books are ideal for reinforcing reading fluency with Magic E words. Simply print each word and fold along the dotted line to create a “flap” that hides the “e.” The student reads the basic CVC word first. 
Then, he/she opens the flap and rereads the word, altering the vowel sound as needed for the Magic E. 

These books would be suitable for beginner readers who have just been introduced to Magic E, as well as more advanced readers who may require additional practice to build proficiency with this particular skill.

A full pack of Magic E fold-and-read flap books is now available in the Tally Tales TPT store!

 This product includes not only basic CVC words with Magic E … 
…  but also words with beginning blends and Magic E … 
… as well as words with a "soft G" sound combined with Magic E. 
Additionally, the product includes blank templates for you (or your students) to create your own Magic E fold-and-read flap books if necessary. 
Please feel free to visit the Tally Tales TPT store to access this product, along with other resources for your classroom instruction.