Saturday, June 20, 2009

School's Out!

I must say that saying goodbye to my first class was one of the hardest things to do! I am going to miss my children soo much! Each one had such unique sweet personalities!

I could not bare really saying goodbye to the kids, so I started thinking of ways to get together over the summer. I wrote a note that I sent home on the last day of school that invited parents to help me plan a "Gator-que" at a park during the summer. I had wonderful responses! Parents are eager to help get the children together to keep their friendships strong!

Having a summer get together does not have to cost you a lot of money! Parents are more than willing to help and if you pick a free public place, you save even more money! You can have each parent plan to bring a dish and party supplies. If everyone helps out, then it will not cost anyone a whole lot!

Think out side of the box and become a memorable entity in your students' lives!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Frugal Tip #6 - 10 month vs. 12 month pay schedule

It is about that time of the year when you decide if you want to receive your paycheck spread over the traditional 10 month schedule or if you would like to stretch your pay over 12 months (if your school offers this option). Personally, I enjoy spreading my money out over 12 months so that I do not have to think about putting some of it away to "survive" the summer months. Plus, I like feeling like I am getting paid to have a summer vacation! ha!

While you are contemplating filling out that 12 month schedule form, I urge you to consider rethinking your choice! Why? Well, you can get a few added perks by enrolling in your own savings program. The school system takes a portion of your paycheck and essentially places it in a savings account until the summer. The problem with this? You can do the same thing and get paid interest!

Check out your state employee's bank and see if they offer a Summer Cash Program for teachers. This program allows teachers to automatically have a portion of their paycheck placed into a savings account where it earns interest (currently 3.25%APY in NC). No, this is not a whole lot; however, you could earn an extra hundred dollars or so. It is like free money that your School System is currently earning and keeping on your behalf! Why not do the 15 minutes of work, and earn a little free cash? You will still get the added benefits of stretching your paycheck over 12 months, but you will be keeping the interest - not your school system.

During these difficult economic times, who couldn't use a little extra money? Look up your State Employee's Credit Union and look for a Summer Cash Program. Get enrolled so you can start making money for next summer!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Frugal Tip #5 - Help your school...Join OneCause

Now this is not a frugal tip that will necessarily save you money; although, it might! Onecause will help you raise a significant amount of money for your school for free! All you, your parents, and fellow faculty members have to do is shop! is a charity site that has linked with hundreds of sponsors (including Walmart, Target, Snapfish, Best Buy, and more!) to provide you with tons of shopping opportunities. Each time you make a purchase from one of OneCause's sponsors, the sponsor will donate a percentage of your purchase to your school or charity on your behalf! This program is very similar to the Harris Teeter VIC card program where you link your card to your school.

OneCause is amazing! They literally have hundreds of great companies participating and sometimes even offer special discounts and money savers for members! Currently, Snapfish is donating 8% of its proceeds from your purchases to your school! WOW! You cannot beat free money for your school during these hard economic times.

OneCause also makes it very easy to get the word out to your school, parents, PTA, and friends! You can download free fliers and send prewritten evites to all of the people on your contact list. They even offer a free downloadable toolbar! The toolbar allows you to go to websites without signing onto OneCause first. The toolbar automatically tracks your purchases and makes sure you never miss an opportunity to donate to your school! I have downloaded the toolbar and love it! I recently purchased a computer and did not even sign on to OneCause (I forgot!); however, since I had the toolbar downloaded 1% of my purchase was donated to my school! I loved not missing a chance to help my school!

Help your school raise money and save money! Join today and you will begin to realize the earning potential for your school!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Frugal Tip #4 - DIY literacy games

With all the colorful enchanting flash cards, bingo games, and phonics cards lurking in teacher stores and catalogs, we catch ourselves ordering overpriced items that we can make ourselves without a lot of money, time or energy! Let's stop throwing money away on games that you can easily make yourself!

I have caught myself buying a sightword bingo game ($10.00) from a store just to get it home and realize that the words aren't exactly the words my students are working on, the pieces are just a little too flimsy, there are not enough boards for all of my students, and the layout is either too advanced or too easy! I end up spending more time altering the game to adapt it to my students' learning styles than I would have if I had just made the game myself!

How can you make these games when you do not seem to have any extra time as it is? Easily! Here's how to make literacy games:

1. Use microsoft word or another word processing program to create a basic table for your game. If you are using Microsoft Word, go to insert and click on table. Pick the number of columns and rows you want for the game, expand the sizes of the boxes (if needed), type in the words and/or insert pictures, and save! Once you have a basic table made, you can literally create hundreds of variations of different games within minutes!

2. Use DLTK's free worksheet and games generator!
I must say this is a really cute money and time saving way to make educational games that can be implemented into any literacy block! Once your are at the site, click on the category/holiday theme you would like to generate a game for. For example, I chose summer. There are lots of different online games (great for smartboard and technology goals) as well as worksheets and game generators. Then, I click on the games and puzzles section. I scroll down to "SUMMER THEMED PRINTABLE GAMES AND PUZZLES" and click on the games that I want to make. You get to pick the level of difficulty, color or b/w, etc. Basically, all you have to do is follow the step-by-step instructions and you will have wonderful learning games in seconds! The site makes jigsaw puzzles, crosswords, bingo at various levels, concentration (memory), etc. You really can't go wrong with this site!

3. Use the table you generated on microsoft word and type in spelling words, sight words, vocabulary, capital and lower case get the idea! You can then print these cards and use them as flash cards, concentration game pieces (have students take turns trying to read the words...if they read the words CORRECTLY and it is a match, they put it into their pile), sentence starters, rhyming pairs, antonyms, synonyms, etc. The possibilities truly are endless!

4. Use Carl's Corner. With all of the wonderful resources abound, the site can be somewhat difficult to maneuver through; but trust me, it is worth it! Carl's corner offers a plethora of FREE literacy materials that are wonderful resources for any teacher to have. She has pre-made games, phonemic awareness activities, phonics fun, literacy wheels, and so much more! You can use her clipart and ideas in your own game or you can use one of the pre-made activities she has already done for you! Take some time to explore the site and click on the various links. It might take a few minutes to find exactly what you are looking for but it is there! Plus once you find it, you can bookmark it and keep it!

5. Comprehension cube game - My students love this game and it is completely free to make! I simply used a cube template from a math resource book (the template that you fold and glue to make a cube) and wrote questions pertaining to story details. For kindergarten my cubes say - who?, where?, beginning, middle, end, problem/solution. My students get with a partner and take turns rolling the die. Then, they answer the question and their partner can add to their answer if needed. There is no "winner" in this game. My students just think this is a really fun way to recall story details! It takes the work out of comprehension! Pretty soon, the students strive to remember more details in order to have quality answers. The game is a win-win for students and teachers alike!
The cube can be used for just about any game! If you would like me to send you a copy of the template, just send me an email @

Why waste money on expensive games that don't suit the learning styles of our students? You can save HUNDREDS of dollars and even time by making these frugal easy games at home! Not only are you saving money, you are making learning fun and enjoyable for all of your students and really isn't that what teaching is all about?!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Time Saving Strategy! Lesson planning without the headache!

I randomly came across this site and it is FABULOUS! ha! I only had a chance to check out the science section and I am very impressed. Within seconds, I had pre-made smartboard activities and power points to share with my students on the life cycle of plants and what plants need to grow. They have activities that stretch across the curriculum. When looking at the list of activities, the "primary" activities are the most appropriate for kindergarten. My students loved the interactive activities on the smartboard!

Hope you find this site as helpful as I have!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Frugal Tip #3 - Craigslist can offer some wonderful money saving deals for teachers! Plus, you are shopping locally (always good!) and/or getting items for free right in your own neighborhood! do you find good deals on Craigslist? You need to know what you are looking for! You can search your surrounding areas for certain items like a book shelf, a rocking chair, school supplies, etc. Some of these items might even be listed for free and all you have to do is pick it up. The items may need a little paint or TLC, but hey you got it for free or really cheap!

Personally, I have listed "wanted" ads where I described that I was a new teacher and was desperately in need of school supplies. I listed a few items such as paper, glue, crayons, glitter, children's books, etc. on my ad so that people were more inclined to offer items that they may have laying around their home. Within hours, I had three people offering me really great teaching materials for next to nothing or for free! One lady gave me a large bag full of art supplies - tempera paint, crayons, colored pencils, rain forest stamps, googly eyes, glitter, pipe cleaners - for free! She said she would rather help a kindergarten teacher out than have materials cluttering up her house! Writing the "wanted" ad was a HUGE blessing for me.

I ended up with hundreds of dollars worth of supplies without spending a dime and so can you! Give it a try! You might be surprised at all the wonderful practical supplies you can get!

**Notice** - While Craigslist can be wonderful, I urge you to be careful interacting with strangers. I do not suggest going to stranger's house...EVER! If it is a large item and you have no other choice, I would make sure I brought at least 2 other people with me and requested that the person had the item outside for my convenience.

Try to meet the person in a public place and bring someone with you. Talk to the person on the phone before you agree to meet. Great deals are wonderful; however, staying safe is much more important!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Frugal Tip #2 Using Scholastic to its fullest potential!

I do not think there is a teacher out there who has not heard of Scholastic. I am sure many of you have fond memories of the book fairs from when you were a child. In fact, Scholastic is celebrating its 60th birthday!

I always get excited when I hear about a book fair coming to my school, but more recently, I have discovered the power of their book clubs. Enrolling in the book clubs is completely free plus you earn fantastic rewards and coupons when your parents place an order. The fliers arrive quickly in your school mailbox ready to go home with your students! This is a great frugal way to stock your classroom with much needed books for your classroom library!

I have found that the best months to encourage your parents to buy from Scholastic are August/September and January. This is the time that Scholastic offers the biggest reward bonus points for orders. If you order $200.00 or more, you get 5,000-6,000 bonus points on top of the regular points you earn! Plus, you get $20.00 to spend and 3 free books! Wow! Talk about a great money saving strategy! Of course, I send the fliers home every month because you can get extra deals, coupons, and free books monthly!

Scholastic even offers easy ways to remind your parents to place orders. They offer free printable monthly newsletters with reading tips and literacy strategies for parents to implement at home, order reminder letters, and letters to tell your parents they can order online! You can even set up online ordering for your parents! I love Scholastic!

In a few short months, I have earned over 10,000 bonus points. The bonus catalog offers lots of classroom items at great bonus point prices. If you save enough, you can even get an ipod or Mac computer! I use the bonus points during Christmas to get book certificates for student gifts during Christmas. They also have great $1.00 books I get for the kids with my bonus points!

You should also take advantage of the book fairs; even though, you tend to get better deals with the book clubs. You can sign up for a book wish list and parents can buy the books off of your list when they are purchasing books for their children. Scholastic sometimes offers book fairs that donate one book to your school library for every book purchased. Plus, the book fair we are currently having is giving the teachers $20.00 to spend! What a great way to get free things for your class! Oh and of course, the proceeds help your school!

Go ahead, take full advantage of Scholastic with these money saving bonuses!

p.s. This is NOT a paid review. I just enjoy saving money while still earning wonderful materials for my classroom!