Thursday, January 14, 2016

Fifth Grade Social Studies Challenge

My youngest son is in 5th grade this year. He is a highly visual and hands-on learner. He excels when he's actually doing something, not just being lectured to. Social Studies has always been his favorite subject and unfortunately this year the tactic that his school is taking for instruction does not set him up for success and I fear it is possibly damaging his interest in the subject. To combat this I have been working diligently since September to create materials that will compliment his school study, while helping him retain his interest and learn the material in a way that better meets his needs. I am finding that the Interactive Notebook format is perfect for my son's learning style and works very well with the American History curriculum.

I know my son is not unique in his learning style and I know the need for better quality materials is there, especially after looking over the curriculum materials that are being provided to him via a top name educational publishing company. With this in mind I decided to dedicate this year to creating materials for my son while also offering them in my TpT store. I have been very pleased with the results of the work with my son and I am happy to see the demand is there for the products from fellow teachers.

I do use the textbook, Social Studies: The United States Making a Nation, © 2010, ISBN: 978-0-15-385887-1, as a guide while creating my resources since this is the textbook that my son uses in his school. You are not bound by using that textbook, you can use any book or online resource that follows the basic 5th grade U.S. History track alongside my resources.

The first unit of study that I created is Early People of North America:

I just recently finished up the Settling the Southern Colonies:

All of the units follow a similar format:
  • Contain a cover sheet in both color and black & white.
  • An explanatory page explaining the benefits of the interactive notebook format and tips on how to make it work well.
  • Contain a tutorial guide showing how to make all the foldable activities.
  • Contain 2 different vocabulary activity versions (foldable or flash card). The file also contains blank editable pages so that you can add or change the vocabulary to best fit your needs. **This is the only editable portion of the products.
  • Different interactive notebook activities to cover each topic within the section to help students pinpoint and highlight the main ideas and concepts.
  •  An End of Unit Assessment.
  • Answer keys for all included activities.
Here's a preview sample from the Settling the Southern Colonies Interactive Notebook product here:

I am also bundling the smaller units into larger ones and offering them at a 20% discount:

Age of Exploration Bundle
Building the First Colonies Bundle

The New England Colonies Bundle
The Middle Colonies Bundle

The following bundles will be coming within this school year.
Each will contain approximately 4-5 units:
  • Native Americans
  • The Southern Colonies
  • The Colonies Unit
  • The Revolutionary War
  • The Constitution
  • The Young Republic
  • The Civil War
  • A Changing Nation

Follow my TpT store  by clicking the green star under my store name. You will receive an email every time I add a new product to the line. I have been trying to add at the rate of approximately one unit per week.

I am really enjoying creating these units and am so pleased with the progress and enjoyment I am seeing in my son. I hope that you can find as much success within your classroom or home school as I've had!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

5 Facts About Me

Nikki, over at the Teaching Autism Blog has set up a "5 Facts About Me" linky party that I thought would be fun to join and to learn more about some of my TpT friends!

1. I am a pet lover. 

I am currently owned by 2 golden retrievers and 3 cats. Before I majored in education I actually wanted to be a veterinarian! I have never been without at least 2 pets in my household during my adult life. One of the dogs that holds a VIP spot in my heart was Penny, who I found in the parking lot of my dorm in a blizzard in 1990. She was with me for over 14 more years. I really feel like I was the lucky one during that blizzard!
Penny with new puppy Maddie in 1997.

Currently I have two golden retrievers, Katy and Hurley. 

Katy was my first golden retriever and I have truly fallen in love with the breed. A golden retriever is about the most perfect soul on earth! I have enrolled Hurley in the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study to help discover why this breed is so prone to cancer. The leading cause of death in golden retrievers is cancer, 60% of will die from the disease.

I am fascinated with therapy and service animals. Katy would make a fantastic therapy dog. She was actually in training before we the program we were enrolled in shut down and shortly after she had to have a series of knee surgeries. She was instrumental in bringing out the "talking" in my son when he was 3 and speech delayed. She's also a fantastic dog to read to. She's currently on her second round of the Harry Potter series read aloud!

2. I love to travel.

I love to get away and see new places. Over the years, especially with my kids young, my favorite place has been Disney World. I love driving under the "Welcome to Walt Disney World" signs into the utopian world of Disney. It is so easy to escape the problems of life and the world within their walls. 

Last shuttle launch of Atlantis, July 8, 2011.

Other places I have enjoyed experiencing are Space Shuttle Atlantis launch, Washington D.C., The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,  different cruise ports in the Caribbean, and the most beautiful place I've ever seen Alaska!

Stingray City, Grand Cayman

Butter beer and Hogwart's Castle!

The Sawyer Glacier at the end of the Tracy Arm Fjord.

3. Couldn't live without my Tivo!

I hate watching live TV and I hate commercials even more! My Tivo is the best invention ever! I record the shows I want to watch. I can watch them on my schedule and skip through commercials. I can stream through places like Netflix. It really is a wonderful invention!

4. I read the newspaper every day!

 I am still old school and read the newspaper every day! My day is just not right if I don't start it off with a cup of coffee and the newspaper. 

5. I would love to move!

I grew up in Sioux Falls, SD, and I have lived in the Omaha, NE, area for over 20 years. The midwest is a great place to grow up and to raise a family, but I am really ready to change my landscape! After traveling to the beautiful places like Alaska, Florida and the Caribbean, the flat corn fields are getting really, really drab!

In 2011 we spent some time staying in New Smyrna Beach, Florida during our two space shuttle trips. It is such a beautiful little town that isn't overrun with tourism. I could really see myself settling there one day!

So there you have it, 5 facts about me! I'd love to learn 5 facts about you! Head over to the Teaching Autism blog and link up your "5 Facts About Me" post!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Enter to Win a $25 TpT Gift Certificate for BTS Shopping!

Enter to win a $25 TpT Gift Certificate from The Teaching Bank! Enter now until Midnight CST, Tuesday, August 18, 2015 using the Rafflecopter link below!

Rafflecopter will randomly select a winner at midnight Tuesday night. I will email the GC Code to the lucky winner so your shopping spree can begin!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

FREE Back to School E-Books Are Here!

The annual FREE Back to School E-Books have arrived! Thank you so much to Kinder Kay, Primary Inspiration by Linda Nelson, Elementary Solutions, Wise Guys, Tracee Orman, All Things Algebra, Amy Brown's Science Stuff, and Michele Luck's Social Studies for organizing and publishing the books in their stores. It's a big job and I certainly appreciate being included as well as being given the opportunity to sample the fine work of my fellow TpT sellers!

I have been included in the Grade 3-4 book that is linked below. Here's an image of my page. You can click on the images to go straight to the downloads.

For the full book downloads click on the link in the images below to go to the book for your grade level.

The Pre-K & Kindergarten edition is featured in Kinder Kay's store.

The 1st-2nd grade edition is featured in Primary Inspiration by Linda Nelson's store.

The 3rd-4th grade edition featured in Elementary Solutions' Store.

The 5-6th grade edition in Wise Guys' store.

The 7-12th English edition in Tracee Orman's store.

The 7-12th grade edition in All Things Algebra's store.

The 7-12th Science edition in Amy Brown's Science Stuff store.

The 7-12th Social Studies edition in Michele Luck's Social Studies store.

No matter your grade level or subject matter, you are sure to find some awesome tips and free items in the books above!

Thank you for your interest in our work and I wish you a wonderful 2015-2016 school year!

**Graphics provided by 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

How TpT has Changed My Life!

On June 21, 2015, I celebrated my fifth anniversary of selling at Teacher Pay Teachers. The Teaching Bank was born seven years before joining TpT, but TpT is definitely the key in the success of The Teaching Bank today! TpT has taken The Teaching Bank from a hobby business to an actual company.

When I was pregnant with my first son I made the decision to take some time off teaching. I had been working at an inner city school and the stress was taking its toll. My early years there were great despite the challenges. We had a fantastic principal who supported us and treated us like professionals. Sadly, he retired and the new principal was his polar opposite. She was incompetent to the point that the entire staff met with the superintendent begging for help. Unfortunately, our pleas fell on deaf ears and the stress continued. After suffering two miscarriages that year I decided to take a year leave in the hope to protect my new pregnancy. I was blessed with my wonderful son that November.

When I was in my early 20's I suffered a mild hearing loss. It never affected my teaching and I was able to carry on a regular everyday life.  After having my son, my hearing loss progressed to the point where I knew I would not be able to be an effective classroom teacher any longer. My loss is a rare type where hearing aids provide very little assistance. According to my audiologist I rely on lip reading and body language for 80% of my hearing. This change to my life was devastating. I had spent so much time and money on my education (Bachelor's and Master's degrees) and I really enjoyed teaching. To have it no longer an option was hard to face.

I am a good bargain shopper and good at keeping to a budget (read cheap!) so we were able to get by on my husband's salary. When my son was nearing preschool age I started to realize that tuition would be a stretch on our monthly budget. Around that time eBay was all the rage and I started to think about what I could sell to help bring in some preschool tuition money. I had written quite a bit of my own curriculum materials while teaching due to the lack of resources at our inner city school. It seemed a burden at the time, but ended up being a blessing in disguise for me. I decided to put together a few of the novel studies that I created and see if there was a market on eBay for my materials. Turns out there was! I was able to make enough to pay the monthly preschool tuition and give us a little breathing room in our budget.

I was able to expand my sales outlets over the following years to eNotes and Amazon. I was able to make enough to save up for Lasik surgery (when I can see clearly I can hear better!) and even some family vacations. I was pretty proud of my little business. Then came TpT!

In 2010, I was reading the Disney forums on the A retiring teacher had asked where she could sell her classroom materials other than a garage sale. Someone in the thread mentioned TpT. I had never heard of it so I decided to check it out. The site looked intriguing so I listed a couple of my items to see what would happen. Immediately I received a few sales so I upgraded to the premium seller status on June 21, 2010. This move has changed my life!

TpT allowed me to take my little fun money business to a whole different level. In the past five years, in addition to funding family vacations, it has allowed me to create a college fund for my three kids and a retirement fund for myself. It has given my family financial stability with savings in the bank. I incorporated the business in 2013 and registered the trademark for my name and logo, as well as registered the copyright of my work. My hobby business has turned into a real company. And I was able to do this all from my home so I am here everyday for my kids and able to be flexible to join in for school functions or volunteer in their classrooms.

Of course the money is wonderful, but in addition, and more importantly than the money, the success that TpT has brought me has helped me regain my confidence. It has made me feel that I am still working within my trained profession as a true contributor. I may not be working face to face with students everyday due to my hearing loss, but my ideas and creations are. I am still touching students and making a difference. That means the world to me and I thank TpT everyday for providing this outlet to me and all the other wonderful teacherpreneurs out there!

So Happy Anniversary TpT, here's to many more wonderful years together! :)

Here's a great graphic from the TpT site to explain more about all they do for me and many, many other teachers out there! Click on the graphic to learn more about opening a store for yourself!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Happy National Therapy Animal Day 2015!

Today, May 18, 2015, is the first annual National Therapy Animal Day.  Therapy animals are used more and more often as we discover how much value they can add to healing and learning for people of all ages. Check here to read current news stories that exhibit the miracles that these animals can bring to us.

I am a huge animal lover and am/have been owned by several pets. Around my son's 3rd birthday we were concerned about his speech development. He wasn't much of a talker, but he was expert at getting his needs met using other methods. He reminded me of the rabbit in the Frosty the Snowman special. He didn't see a need to talk!  Around that same time we got a new golden retriever puppy, Katy. Katy saw Sam as another puppy playmate and as she was growing she could get a little rambunctious with Sam and sometimes knock him over.

Of course we worked with training Katy, she's now a proud graduate of the Canine Good Citizenship program, but part of it was also teaching Sam to use the commands of sit, off, and down in a strong voice. Sam very quickly learned that talking and using his voice served a great purpose and he started using it more and more, not just with Katy, but with all of us. There were many a morning I would wake up to find Sam laying next to Katy's crate chattering away telling her all about his adventures, hopes and dreams. It was such a touching sight to see.

Katy is an extremely tolerant dog and she loves anyone and everyone! She would make an ideal therapy dog and in fact we went through some training to lead to it. Unfortunately the program we were working with ended their classes and Katy ended up having a series of knee surgeries to correct joint issues in both of her knees so her career as a therapy dog has never been realized. She spends hours at home providing us constant unconditional love and "therapy" though. One of the things she loves more than anything is to lay with us and be read to! She's sat through the entire Harry Potter series a couple years ago with my older kids and is now working her way through it again with Sam.

I've seen the value that the love and attention of a pet can bring to the mental well-being of the people around them. They really can be miracle workers! I would love to see the use of reading dogs in schools increase!

As part of my Wonder Novel Study, I created a reading informational activity about therapy dogs. I offer it outside of the novel study as a free download in my store. It is a wonderful activity to explore the use and benefits of therapy animals. Click on the picture to go to the FREE download.

In honor of Katy, and all the wonderful therapy animals out there, Happy National Therapy Animal Day!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Happy Teacher Appreciation 2015!

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

To celebrate and show appreciation for all of the hardworking and dedicated teachers The Teaching Bank is offering 20% off EVERYTHING in our TpT store for May 5-6. It's a great time to save on those items on your wishlist and get a head start on your planning for next year. In addition to 20% off everything in our store TpT is throwing in an additional 10% off everything in your entire cart when you use code: ThankYou at check out.

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Happy Teacher Appreciation and thank you for all that you do from The Teaching Bank and TpT!

Check out some other wonderful sellers' sales at the linky party over at Flying into First Grade's Blog: