July 2014 - Down River Resources
Howdy, friends!

I am always looking for a deal and, whether you are a parent, grandparent, or teacher, you are too! I am providing you with a list of the Tax Free Shopping Days in New Mexico and the great state of Texas.

New Mexico

New Mexico's tax holiday begins at 12:01 a.m. on the first Friday of August and concludes on the following Sunday at midnight.

During that time the law provides a deduction from gross receipts for retail sales of qualifying tangible personal property; in effect allowing the retailer to sell the items “tax free.” To qualify for the deduction, clothing or shoes must be priced at less than $100 per unit. The price limit for desktop, laptop or notebook computers is $1,000, and for related computer hardware it is $500. School supplies for use in standard, general-education classrooms must be under $30 per unit. There are items specifically excluded by statute in all categories. Those items are always taxable.

This year’s Sales Tax Holiday is Aug. 8 - 10. As in previous years, the law exempts most clothing, footwear, school supplies and backpacks priced under $100 from sales and use taxes, which could save shoppers about $8 on every $100 they spend.

All sales of qualifying items made during the holiday period qualify for the exemption, including items sold online, or by telephone or mail. Lay-away plans can be used again this year to take advantage of the sales tax holiday.

This can be found on KVIA.com: KVIA Story Link

Happy Shopping!
Howdy, friends!

I hope you are relaxed and ready to begin the new school year...or touring the state for last-minute vacations!

Teachers: If you are not signed up as a STAR Teacher at Office Depot yet, you need to do this now! They just need some basic information for your account and becoming a member is free. You get lots of great deals at back-to-school time. All of the sale items have a limit. As a STAR teacher, you are able to, in most stores, get three times the limit; so, if erasers are 25 cents and the limit is three per person---you can get nine erasers. Just go up to an associate and ask, "what is the teacher limit on this product?"

Currently, STAR Teachers get 20% off qualifying in-store purchases and 10% back in rewards. The rewards program helps you earn points which you get a coupon for each period. You can track your account online.
Office Depot

In addition, there are Teacher Appreciation Days beginning soon at a store near you. My area has their days beginning on August 2nd and running through August 5, 2014. Go to the following link to check it out for your area or type in STAR Teacher in officedepot.com: Teacher Appreciation Days

I began shopping at Office Depot as soon as I moved to town. Most of the stores have very helpful associates and they will search until they find what I need for my classroom. They are understanding of teachers' needs which is why I do business with them often.

I do not know any managers or employees, I am just a faithful customer who loves a good deal. Office Depot is my favorite back-to-school store.

This week, the deep discounts begin!

Happy Shopping!
Howdy, friends!

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of meeting a young man who is committed to helping others. This altruistic 27-year-old veteran created a non-profit organization three years ago with the sole mission of providing school supplies and backpacks to children from the neighborhood he grew up in. He was inspired by his own experience as a first grader who went to school with a backpack with female characteristics.

I cannot imagine what ensued as a result, but it is an experience that stayed with him as he grew up. After completing his mission in the military, he began his college degree at UTEP in education and due to a lack of teaching positions in the local area, decided to continue his schooling with a master's degree after graduation.

While he is finishing up a master's degree in educational leadership, he will begin his first job at a secondary educator in El Paso. He is a humble man with a servant's heart who has a team of inspiring friends who help him do a collection drive each year.

This year's event will held on Saturday, August 2, 2014, in northeast El Paso. Please see the flyer for the details of the event and consider supporting this young man and his friends and they bless local children.
El Paso Area Backpack and School Supply Drive
Thank you for considering support this organization and reading about this man's inspiring story.

Happy Donating!

Howdy, friends!

I hope this finds everyone well. I have been busy researching education and the rainforest for future blog posts so I have been away for a few days.

I want to highlight a few of the resources I have created in the past few weeks that I am so excited to use with my new group of students.

First Day Craftivity: As you are preparing for your first day of school, consider this $1 deal to use for years to come. This allows your students to draw pictures of themselves, their teacher, and their school. By coloring, cutting, and gluing, you will have a firsthand look at how your students take care of their school supplies and their fine motor skills. You can instruct your students to put it together in the two ways shown or come up with your own way!
First Day Craftivity

2-D & 3-D Geometry Bundle: Did you know that 20% of the new Kindergarten Math TEKS (Texas) involve geometry? This pack includes lesson ideas for all of the geometry standards you need to teach in kindergarten. Shape posters and color, cut, and paste sheets are included, along with other printables. Look at the preview to see the 44-page bundle.
Geometry Bundle
Numeracy Dice Bundle: This bundle includes 6 roll and write games that can be photocopied or used in a math centers. They can be used to teach reading and writing numbers, 2-D shapes, numbers that are one less than another number, numbers that are one more than another number, and addition and subtraction. This pack has 6 easy centers, just grab some dice. Also, it includes bonus printables and speech bubbles to support academic language development.

Numeracy Dice Bundle

Comparing Numbers 0-6 Raindrop Game: In life, of course, comparing numbers will obviously be an important skill. Will you buy the $30 jacket or the $90 jacket? Will you take the $20,000 a year job or the $60,000 a year job? This is something that students will need to know and you are helping build the foundation for this type of mathematical thinking. Cut up the game cards and laminate. Students take turns counting the purple raindrops and blue raindrops before using a comparison symbol. Game mats and a speech bubble to encourage mathematic conversation support are included.

Raindrop Comparison Game

Number Strips- Skip Counting by 10s: Students use these strips to practice skip counting in a math center or as an early finishers option. There are also counting to 20 forward and backward strips also that can be used in the same way.
Skip Counting Strips

Roll and Cover 36-page Set Bundle: Subitizing and basic numeracy can be reinforced using this pack. It includes 36 pages of ready to print and use math games for independent practice or in a math center. This bundle can be a permanent center all year round, switching the roll and cover sheet being used each week or adding one new game board per week. You decide! Tally marks, die faces, numerals 1-6 and 1-12 boards can be found in this pack.
Roll and Cover Bundle
Enjoy looking around! Thank you for entrusting me to provide you with classroom resources!

Happy Shopping!

Howdy, Friends.

I am still taking a break to enjoy summer, but as I do I am still preparing my things for the back to school season!

I wanted to share with you what I am using to keep my personal teaching paperwork organized. These dividers and master copies will help me stay organized in the upcoming school year. I like to be prepared each day and especially for our special Professional Learning Community time that we have with our grade level and instructional specialists each week for a period of uninterrupted time.

There are not only colorful dividers to choose from (chevron in blue, pink, & purple or colorful rainbow handwriting paper print), but also the pages you will need in between the dividers.

I am especially fond of the Response-to-Intervention behavior pages. These pages were specifically designed to help me and so many of my friends document incidents in the classrooms. This past year was a challenging year for me with student behavior. I had a student with significant behavioral issues and depended on documentation. It was the documenting of the incidents that helped me figured out the students' pattern of behaviors which led to the cause of them. I have the behavior sheets separate if you have some other organizational method already in place.

Happy Organizing!
Howdy, Friends!

I am taking a break from creating new products to get caught up on life! This sounds wonderful, but my mind goes a million miles a minute with thoughts of new ideas, ways to make in-progress projects better, and thoughts of setting up this year's classroom roll around. Fortunately, I have been able to sleep through this all! 

The following will explain the rules or "standards" I use in my classroom. This will be most helpful to friends who are new teachers or want a new way to introduce the rules.

I am Project G.L.A.D. certified. This is the Project Guided Language Acquisition Design framework our of Orange County, California. We use this framework in all dual language classrooms at my school site, but only a handful of other teachers use this framework in their monolingual classes (English only), as they only trained the dual language teachers in this district. This is something that will soon be changing. Soon, all of our elementary teachers will be trained in this program and be certified. Luckily, I came to this district with this certification, so I am one step ahead. I have also been using the program for four years (maybe more...I need to look that up). I look forward to sharing my knowledge with my colleagues.

Our school site adopted all of the "Standards of Behavior" as school/classroom rules during the last school year. They are a wonderful set of standards that have transformed my classroom in the last four years using the framework.

The Three Standards of Behavior are:

Whether you use the Project G.L.A.D., or create your own rules, these are great all-inclusive rules.

This is how I introduce the rules in my classroom:

On the first day of school, I usually don't mention the word rules. I focus on positively reinforcing students who are making good decisions and showing respect. I use those words specifically when praising them. This way, when I introduce the rules during the first week, the students have some prior knowledge as to what we are discussing.

On the second day, we usually make a list to rules that the students come up with that we should follow in school. Then, I take all of those rules (which usually start with "Don't...") and put them into three groups. I say, "All of these rules (putting a circle around each of them with one colored marker), help us make good decisions."

Then, I use a different colored marker and put a circle around the second group and say, "These rules help us show respect to ourselves, friends, teacher, and school." Then, I usually have to explain to them how we solve problems and start building a classroom culture that promotes that type of thinking. 

By making the list with the students, I am building student ownership. They really think they are the creators of these rules. I use, what I call, facilimanipulatation.  (This is a combination of the words facilitate and manipulate....kind of when you make the kids say exactly what you want!) You all use it, but you may not call it this! Now you will!

If you are interested in using the rule set in your 2014-2015 classroom, I currently have a set in my TeachersPayTeachers store. This set has 18 different single posters (one version is pictured above). The other part of this set is the posters that have one rule per page. These make great ladders, if you connect them together, or posters on a bulletin board.

Posters come in two versions. They say "Three Standards of Behaviors" designed for Project G.L.A.D. classrooms or "In this classroom..." for all others. Pick whatever you'd like with this pack.

I hope you RULE your school in the upcoming year!

Happy Planning!

Howdy, Friends!

First off, I want to thank all of my friends who have recently been seeing my resources on Pinterest and checking out my Facebook and Teachers Pay Teachers store. I want to thank you from the bottom of my Texas heart, for investing your time in researching the quality of my work!

My sweet husband, of just over a year, shared a link on his Facebook today and I know a few of you are friends of his through your hubby! THANK YOU! I am sending you a virtual hug for the support. My amazing mother-in-law did the same! THANK YOU! I love Texas!

Today was filled with creating, watering the lawn, and packing for an undisclosed trip. Details to appear at random, unexpected times. Stay tuned!

I finished up a Kindergarten TEKS math support pack today that incorporates ALL of the geometry standards. Isn't that amazing?! I am excited to use it. Sadly, our pacing guide doesn't include geometry until January.

As I was researching for the pack, I found that the geometry TEKS compose a whopping 20% of the NEW Kindergarten Math TEKS! So, I just finished 20% of your mathematics planning for the new school year! I know...it's terrific! It is the biggest accomplishment of summer planning thus far.

Shape Posters in Kindergarten Complete Geometry Bundle
My favorite part about this pack is the posters pictured above. I'm all about coming up with new ideas and supporting the specificity of the TEKS (this is something most teachers do not have time for...it takes a lot of time to figure out what specifically needs to be addressed--sadly, there is no resource that is a one-stop shop for planning, other than KINDERGARTEN DOWN RIVER!)

These shape posters do not have the shapes formatted in the usual way. They have two or three versions of the shape using different sizes and orientations as specified within the TEKS. When I draw out anchor charts, I always show the students multiple ways to "see" the shape. Can you imagine if kindergarten teachers used these posters? Misconceptions about shapes and their orientations would be minimized tremendously!

In addition, to the orientation and shape, the 2-D and 3-D shape posters that correspond are the same color (example: the cube and square posters are both orange because they both have the same 2-D attributes--square-shaped face). This is just one more way I provide scaffolding for my English learners.

Another fun project yesterday evening and this morning was creating a First Day craftivity. My husband asked, "What's that?" My response, "It's a craft! It's an activity! It's a...CRAFTIVITY!" So, I included that on the cover page. It is kind of funny...brings back memories of childhood, "It's a bird. It's a plane..."
First Day Craftivity in English and Spanish
There are so many ways to put this craftivity together. My dog, Jedi, watched on as I colored, cut, and pasted these together as I spent time with her in the cool evening breeze. I wish she had better dexterity! It would have helped me out so much!

I guess I will have to teach her some new tricks! With that, I am off to bed so I have the energy to play with her in the morning!

Thanks for joining me on my adventure today! I am truly honored to be a part of your day!

Happy Sleeping!

Howdy, friends!

Today was not a productive day as far as back-to-schooling is concerned...but my house is clean and we had delicious food for dinner!

I am wrapping up a very large math pack right now that can benefit all teachers in elementary schools who teach mathematics. I am getting really excited to unveil it, but I keep finding more to add to it! (That is really a good thing, especially when you spend your hard earned money on it!)

Random Note: I keep laughing at all of the things I do so I can show people my products. My garage walls look like classroom walls (with backgrounds and borders) so I can put things up for teachers to see what it would look like!

Today I cleaned up the house and ran around a bit. (I am borrowing my friend's Sam's Club while he is working out of town so it is fun to pretend to be Mrs. Morris and go crazy in the office supply aisle. Believe it or not, there is a difference in the products at Costco and Sam's.)

We had a beautiful meal today with sirloin steaks, calabacitas (a Mexican squash side dish), and asparagus. I wish I would have taken a picture of all of that, but is disappeared quick! I also made more shortcake kabobs with some patriotic-colored fruits. It may not be the Fourth, I am still proud to be an American!

Shortcake Kabobs
This was our first meal that we shared together on our brand new rustic 7-foot table. The owners of the rustic furniture store delivered it themselves yesterday to our home. The wife said, "You must have a big family!"
It is not the fact that we have a big family, it is just that we like to eat a lot and need room for our food! We didn't really need eight chairs, but since we are paying for them, we might as well take them!

New rustic 7-foot table

(Photograph was increased to "extra-large" size so my dad can see it--I think we are going to need a new table runner, Mom. The one you made us fit that table made for two!)

I will share some things I am working on tomorrow. Stay tuned!


Today has been filled with math center preparations for the upcoming school year. As I will be teaching kindergarten again, I know what I am doing, unlike last year! Kindergarten in the Land of Enchantment is so much different than kindergarten in the Lone Star state.

Preparing Math Centers 

Knowing the expectations of kindergarten and what my kids SHOULD be able to do when they enter into my classroom has allowed me create math centers that I know my kids will love! The month of June was all about creating some basic math centers. July is about preparing math centers among many other things.

No Prep Roll and Cover Games 
The math centers I printed out today and some of the Roll and Cover dice games that kindergartens love! The greatest thing about these centers is that once the student understands the game, they are able to play all of the different game boards with no assistance. This is super if you are working with small groups during math centers or stations time. I am building my collection of resources that can be used over and over without much planning and preparation. If I can remove the "Double P Threat--Planning & Preparation" for myself that is one less thing I have to be worried about! It seems like each year, life just gets busier and I want to remove as many burdens as I can! Don't you?!

During the month of May, we had a family emergency that took us out of town indefinitely at the time and it was these types of activities that kept my classroom afloat for a week while we were away. In the decade, I have been in the classroom that was the first emergency situation that ripped me out of the classroom with no time to think about a substitute. I am sure many of you can identify with this type of situation.

Another great thing that Roll and Cover dice games can be used for is for students who finish early. This can be an activity in the "I'm Done... Now What?" area of your classroom and taught as a beginning of the year routine. "If you are done with your center, and Mrs. _____ is still working with friends at her table, these are some things you can do."

Number Strips
I created a multitude of counting number strips for this purpose as well. These strips I cut out and will laminate and hold together with binder rings!

I love binder rings! I love things to keep my kids productively busy! I love summer time...a time when I can stay up late at night and think about great ideas and not pay for it when I wake up at noon!

Happy Preparing!

A cool breeze kept me out and about today! Me and a sweet teacher friend (a third grade teacher and aspiring campus leader) had a shopping day after running errands at Central Office. After our errands, we shopped with our friends, Jo-Ann and Michael (...wait for it....Jo-Ann's Fabric Store and Michael's Arts & Crafts Palace!)

Michael's, pleasantly to our surprise, was having a 50% off the green clearance sticker sale (I was able to get lots of useful supplies for my classroom for $1.50 and under).  I will have to post some pictures of what I found when I finishing unpacking all of the bags! Exhausted after hitting the town, we ate with Jason of the Deli.

As if this wasn't enough excitement for the day, I received the feedback from the staff development science training I did in June. The teacher participants really learned a lot and gave excellent feedback! Thank God for my vocation! I will be sharing important pieces from this training in two weeks as I will be delivering it to two different groups of teachers. If you are looking for ways to make your instruction more meaningful, stay tuned.

The evening wouldn't be complete without working on some projects for next year's buckaroos. Today, I printed some of the number puzzles from a Kindergarten NEW Math TEKS Support Pack I recently created. I printed and cut the puzzles for numbers 1-5 as this is the beginning focus in September.
1-20 Number Puzzles

This set of numbers was printed on blue cardstock. Each set of numbers I print will be on different
colors of cardstock to scaffold the activity for English learners and others who will need the additional support. For instance, numbers 6-10 will be on pink, numbers 11-15 will be on green, and 16-20 will be on yellow cardstock. This is a great way to differentiate activities for students. I opted to use the same color for 5 numbers so there is still a challenge for the other students. If you use these in your classroom and need more scaffolding, you can print two puzzles in the same color cardstock. This is just one way I color code for my students in need to additional support.

I am wrapping up the evening creating a new bundle which I hope to release tomorrow! I think it is my most exciting bundle so far as every person I know who is an elementary teacher could benefit from it.

What are you preparing for your classroom?

Howdy, friends!

The Fourth of July brings memories of friends who served or are serving our country and marks the beginning of the "Back to School" shopping season.

As I was out looking for Summer Clearance deals, I stopped by the Target Dollar Spot section (usual routine while my husband looks at DVDs we do not need). AW! My eyes filled with tears of joy! The teacher supplies were fully stocked within the last few days, if not hours. Everything was in place, nothing mixed up! This is Teacher Heaven.

Target had the usual name badges, stickers, bookmarks, etc. This year there were some more interesting stickers (smaller than a badge, but still had the "Hello, My Name Is" heading. There were new Crayola puzzles (that fit nicely into Ziploc bags for storage) and 50-pack erasers (pencils, apples, stars, etc.), perfect for math counters at the beginning of the year. Also, I must note: the pocket charts that they usually carry have a larger plastic pocket this year. The last few years the plastic pocket has been too small that strips you insert fall out very easily.
Target Dollar Spot Deals- July 7, 2014

ALERT: There are plastic book boxes (magazine files) at Target. This year, I saw them in red, blue, yellow, and white.

RATIONALE BEHIND THE ABOVE ALERT: I have book boxes in my classroom I use for the Daily 5. Other teachers walk in and admire the rainbow colored boxes. I send them looking at Target but often times they are disappointment in the quantity and color selection. Remember, if you are in a bigger city, you might want to try other Targets near you. When I purchased my plastic file boxes in the summer of 2012, it took me a few trips to different stores to finally have the colors and quantity I desired. They are priced at $3.00 and after two years of use still look brand new!

May your back-to-school shopping delight you! My purse is much lighter after spending $25.00 today!

Happy Hunting!

Howdy, friends!

My name is Laura and I am a kindergarten teacher from Down River, Texas (don't Google it---it won't come up on any maps!). While this is my first official blog as a teacher,  I am not new to education. I have nearly a decade of experience teaching children ranging from a cute six weeks old to the larger type of fifth graders. Most of my experience is educating kindergarten through second grade students.

I am a newlywed (one year and a few months) and married a sweet Texan. (I wasn't a Texan originally, but I got here as quick as I could!) I enjoy fakin' a Texan' accent when in San Antonio, but those closest to me are not fooled! Now you know too much!

I recently began adding my digital creations to a Teachers Pay Teachers store
Down River Resources. I am PASSIONATE about keeping teachers afloat with diverse + rigorous resources. 

My current focus this year is helping Texas teachers implement the newly revised mathematics standards that go in full effect this upcoming school year 2014-2015.

I take a lot of pictures in my classroom and share with teachers annually at dual language conferences. I am passionate about helping English learners access the curriculum by making the content comprehensible. (I am sure you will read a lot about this in the months to come!) Parents fill out Home Language Surveys at enrollment time and that determines if the child is a English Language Learner (ELL). About 1/4 of my students are officially English Language Learners  (due to this survey) though most of my students come from Spanish speaking homes.

I will be sharing stories with you and showing you how my students are accessing the curriculum using the resources I create.

Thank you for stopping by, friend. I invite you to take a ride with me "Down River!"

Safe travels,

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