Category Archives: Friday Feature

Introducing… The Happy Teacher!

We had the pleasure of speaking with Liz from The Happy Teacher this week and would love to share what we learned with you!

Liz has five years teaching experience – every minute of that being in the primary grades and she loves it! Liz, like many teachers, enjoys teaching because she enjoys kids. That light bulb moment… the excitement of learning something new or finally grasp a concept… the joy of doing a science project or creating art. Liz’s description is perfect, “The children bring so much happiness to my life, and they are the reason I love to teach!” (One thing Liz would like to change about teaching  is less paperwork and more planning time for teachers – that one is pretty universal!)

When asked what her favorite book to teach with was, Liz gave us her insights on Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester.

I look forward to teaching this story every January!  I love to read the story using a variety of voices and sounds.  {The kids just think it’s hilarious!!}  I incorporate a lot of Thinking Maps with this book.  Honestly, I can teach SO MANY skills, concepts, and important lessons with this one book.  If you haven’t read it, you must check it out!

Liz’s store has 32 items currently, but her favorite item she has created is her Ten Frame Task Cards. As Liz sees ten frames as a powerful learning tool, whether you are teaching addition or subtraction, she wanted a product that was fun, kid-friends, and that could be used easily in her math stations or small groups. This useful tool is only $2.25 and has great reviews!

This is a very special time for Liz and her husband. They are expecting their first child in April 2013! {Congratulations!} She is just now starting to “show” and Liz is super excited. So naturally, when we asked her what three questions she wanted to know the answers to, she provided the following –

1. Are we having a boy or a girl?
2. Will baby come early, on time, or late?
3. Why am I so hungry ALL the time?

Next, we’d like to familiarize a great new product in Liz’s store… her Problem Solving Task Cards!

Liz was kind enough to let us have a sneak peak at this item. It covers the following math areas

  • Number Sense – counting, skip counting, counting backwards
  • Patterns – AB, AAB, ABB, ABC, AABB, ABCD
  • Addition & Subtraction
  • Place Value

For each mathematical area there are 16 task cards, creating 64 total. Each set is color and shape coded. This will help the students easily keep the task cards separated. The only the set that must be printed in color is the patterning set, but if you print these once and laminate them for durability, printing in color would definitely be the way to go! She has also included recording sheets and answer keys for each set. If you are looking for a great independent work center or a new way to present a “problem of the day”, definitely check out this great item from The Happy Teacher! Liz also includes “Notes to the Teacher” and “Suggestions” at the end of the product.

Now for you visual learners…


Thank you, Liz! We loved getting to know you and your products better! Stop by Liz’s blog if you get a chance.


Meet Doodles & Kreations!

We’ve got another great duo to introduce you to this week –  Doodles and Kreations! This team is made up of Kim and Debby, we spoke with Kim about their store and teaching journey. These ladies are preschool bilingual teachers, so they definitely bring something different to the table.

Kim, like many teachers, knew from a young age that it was what she was meant to do. She used to play school with her neighbors in the front yard, teaching them as they played. Her friends would go home upset because she tried to give them homework before they left! Kim is sure that she was born to be a teacher and she would not be comfortable doing anything else. A principal once told her “A preachers is born to preach and a teacher is born to teach” and those words still stick with her today.

In the classroom, Kim always enjoyed creating her own materials. When she began teaching she found there was a void in the market for cute materials for Spanish speaking students. She got in the habit of making all her own games and activities. Her partner, Debby, collaborated and wanted to share with other teachers. That is when they found TpT. They have a stack of resources they are remaking with graphics by Debby and are eagerly waiting to share them with other teachers.

We’ll be looking at their Halloween Letter Match in a few minutes, but lets get to our fun questions for the week 🙂

Q: How old you would be if you didn’t know how old you are?
A: I would be 5 years old. I love to sit and color and make crafts and activities. Being a PK teachers give me the opportunity to do what I love to do. What other job lets you sing and dance and cut and color?

Q: If you could make a 30 second speech to the entire world, what would you say?
A: There are too many people in this world doing things that they hate. Everyone has a passion. Find what your passion is and try to find a job that allows you to do work while enjoying your job. We love our jobs and we are very passionate about doing them. Life is too short to hate your job.

Q: If you could be any superhero, who would you be? Why?
A: I would be Wonder Woman. I have 8 year old twins that keep me running all the time. It is all I can do to keep up with them. If I were Wonder Woman I would get the housework and laundry done in a flash so that I could enjoy doing activities with my munchkins. 

Now on to the Halloween Letter Match

This is a cute Halloween themed letter matching game. Essentially it helps your students learn the alphabet and the sounds the letters make. You can use this in two ways. You can either create a file folder game, as pictured, or use two cookie sheets for the game.

The game also comes in three versions!
1. Pictures-to help young learners practice visual discrimination skills
2. Lower case letters-to match to pictures
3. Upper case letters-to match to pictures

If you’re looking for an easy center for Halloween this would be a great addition to your collection. Drop by the store or blog for more information!

Meet Taking a Walk on the Teaching Side!

We’ve got another awesome teacher-author to share with you this week. Kristin is the lovely lady behind Taking a Walk on the Teaching Side. She is all about family and friends down in Georgia. Kristin loves sketching, nature, cupcakes, travel, and exercise. Due to the job market, she is currently a substitute and tutor, but she is very antsy to get back into her own classroom. Much of her family are teachers (even her husband) and she was previously a Title I teacher in Atlanta.

Kristin knew from a young age that she probably wanted to be a teacher. She grew up around educators – her grandma, grandpa, and mom. Through the years she witnessed how important education was and placed a lot of value on her own education. However, she did not officially decide to become a teacher until she began college.

Kristin enjoys many things about teaching. She likes working with the students and seeing their transformations from the beginning to the end of the year. She also loves the fact that teaching is never boring or monotonous – things change from to day to day and you never know what to expect. Even though it can be stressful, like many, Kristin believes the rewards outweigh the negatives. Kristin found it hard to choose just one thing she enjoys most about teaching, but she really likes the creative aspect.

Being creative is what has led her to Teachers Pay Teachers. Kristin has a great store with 98 products! Her favorite item she has created is Dee Dee the Dodo Book. This is an original book she wrote and illustrated in a college class. She now sells this as a supplement for extinction lessons. Not only does she love the story, but so do students. The story helps them learn about extinction and the effects humans can have on the environment.

Excerpt from Dee Dee the Dodo Book

Kristin shared her Common Core Writing Prompts with us this week. She created these prompts because she wanted to give teachers a way to provide their students with fun and engaging writing ideas that were aligned with the Common Core. The fun shape comes for Kristin’s experience in making cupcake toppers. These cute informational, narrative, opinion, and creative prompts can easily be glued to Popsicle sticks.

We previewed a set of 40 prompts. Kristin has three small sets like this in her store and also a bundled set with all the writing prompts. Our set came with 10 prompts for each category (informational, narrative, opinion, and creative).

Each prompt looks something like this. The prompt types are color coded and also state what type of prompt it is at the top (beneath the ladybug). Some prompts are silly, like creating your own ice cream flavor. Other prompts, like the one pictured above have real life implications.


One of our favorites was this oneit will really get your students thinking. Plus, anyone can write about this who attends school. Everyone will have differing opinions and the background knowledge to go along side of them.

And… just for fun, we asked Kristin if she could be any fairy tale character, who would she be and why?

Alice in Wonderland. I had an Alice dress when I was a kid and would watch the Alice Through the Looking Glass 1980s movie version just about every day. Wonderland is just so whimsical!

Be sure to stop by Kristin’s store and blog for some great resources! She is even having a sale today!

Don’t forget to stop by the giveaway, you’ve only got two days left to enter!

Meet Mrs. Jones!

We’d like to introduce you to Karen Jones, a public school teacher for the last ten years, who is currently teaching Kindergarten. Mrs. Jones lives with her husband of six years, Bob, and their two adorable children Brady (4) and Reese (2).

Mrs. Jones always knew she wanted to be a teacher. Check out the picture below for proof!

Yes, that sweet little girl in the picture is Mrs. Jones when she is five years old! She says that she cannot remember a time when she didn’t want to be a teacher and she cannot imagine doing anything else.

Like most teachers, Mrs. Jones loves that a-ha moment. The second when a student’s eyes light up and everything clicks. Being in Kindergarten, she gets to see an amazing amount of growth. In September the students can barely write their name and by the time they leave her at the end of the year they are starting to read and write sentences! Her favorite time of the year is spring parent conferences. Seeing student scribbles and nonsense turn into letters and complete thoughts is such an amazing privilege.

An educator through and through, if Mrs. Jones could change on thing about education today, she would make funding schools and education our youth top priority. She, like many of us, believe that students should come first and what has been happening with budget cuts, increased class size, etc. is not what is best for our students.

Mrs. Jones recently started selling her awesome resources on TeachersPayTeachers. Her journey to TpT is similar to many others. About a year ago she was searching for some materials for her Kindergarten classroom online, when she stumbled upon none other than Deanna Jump’s blog. After getting lost in her blog, Karen followed the TpT link and was blown away by what other educators were sharing. Finally, over the summer, Karen decided she should sell her materials also. So she set up her TpT Store and blog… then never looked back!

Just for fun, we asked Mrs. Jones five uses for paperclips other than their regular boring job. These are what she came up with…
1. To pin back your bangs when you can’t find a bobby pin
2. When you want to war long pants to work with a pair of flats – instant hem!
3. Add a pencil to make a spinner
4. The only want to unclog a glue bottle
5. To clean the crumbs out of your keyboard during those late night planning sessions!


Mrs. Jones graciously let us check out one of her products. We wanted to share what an awesome find this is – if you teach Kinder, this is for you!

This Halloween unit is packed with fun activities. Everything comes with teacher instructions, which is awesome! There are activities for pumpkin observations, making a pumpkin patch bulletin board, ordering numbers, comparing numbers, adding to 5, bubble maps, and much more! This jammed pack Halloween unit is 100 pages long!

All the activities/worksheet have fun graphics. Candy corn, spiders, bats, etc. everything to get you in a Halloween spirit. Since we couldn’t show you everything… wouldn’t want to give anything away, we wanted to tell you a little more about your favorite part of this activity pack.

Everyone knows the Five Little Pumpkins Poem, right? (No, we don’t know this adorable little boy.)

In Mrs. Jones’ unit, not only does she include an idea for making a bulletin board with this cute poem, she also includes an editable version of the poem for you to replace five with the number of your students. (She also changes the line “there are witches in the air” to “there are bats in the air”). You’ll also get a Poetry in motion guide with pictures of how to make the poem come to life. Then, on top of that, you get “small” poems for the students to add to a poetry folder or notebook. Keep in mind this is only 9 pages out of this activity packet. Check out the pictures below for a preview of some of the other items included.

Be sure to check out this awesome resource for only $5.00. Karen also has a first grade Halloween activity set. While you’re there, stop by our store for our fall sale!

First Grade Parade

We are big fans of Cara Carroll over here at Creation Castle. If you don’t know her name, maybe you know her blog

The First Grade Parade

She does have over 5,000 followers! And that is well deserved. Cara has an awesome store on TpT with great products, but she also has a wonderful personality that shines through on her blog.

Her latest post, talked about making her heart smile. She uses the phrase “You’re knockin’ my socks off!” and created a management tool to go along with that. You can check out the post here.

Ms. Carroll also has the #1 rated freebie on TpT. Stop by and download her FREE Schedule Cards. You won’t be sorry you did. If you are looking for a more generic form of schedule cards (with pictures) this is what you need. (Sample below). The PDF is over 40 pages, so you should be able to find any schedule cards that you need.


Stop by her store to check out some great, fairly priced units!

Friday Feature!