Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Back to School Book Favorites Linky

It's that time of the year!  I feel like jumping for joy and crying at the same time.  August is quickly approaching (umm...less than 72 hours away!) and my "back-to-school" brain is in full affect!  My first day of school is not until August 19th, but I already feel the "back to school panic" setting in.  How about you?

So, I thought I would share with you one of my favorite back-to-school picture books.  It's one of my favorite books to read aloud on the first day of school because I love the discussions that are created!

My book is called What If Everybody Did That? by Ellen Javernick.  It is recommended to be read to children ages 4 to 9.

What if everybody fed the animals at the zoo?  What if everybody threw their soda can out the window of their car?  What if everybody broke the rules?  The world would be a mess!  This book, What If Everybody Did That?, is a great book to read to discuss rules within the classroom, school, and even the world.  This book offers humorous illustrations that display the consequences and answers to these types of questions in a child-friendly way.  This is such a great way to introduce your classroom rules while reading this book together in a class.  

Here is a page from the book. Wouldn't this be great for some open-ended class discussions?  I love to hear what my students have to say about the consequences for the certain situations in the book.  This is such a great way to encourage students to be more mindful of their own behaviors and how it affects people around them.
I have used this book for several years on the very first day of school.  I think it is very important for my students to come up with our classroom rules.  When my students write the rules, I feel that they take more ownership and responsibility of their actions.  

Click here for Forever Freebie
Before we create our classroom rules, I have the students brainstorm some actions that could happen in our classroom and the consequences if everybody did that.  For example, "what if everybody was late to school?"  The freebie to the right is a document I created that allows the students to describe and illustrate two actions that could happen in the classroom. To ensure the students understand the directions, I like to do a few examples on the whiteboard before they get started.  

Once the students have finished, I like to have them share their actions with the classmates at their table groups.  Depending on time, I may have students share with the whole class.  

Side note--(I think this book would also be good to use when teaching cause and effect.....but that's not something I would do on the first day of school.)  

This activity leads us into our group discussion of class rules.  We brainstorm our ideas on the board, decide on the most important and crucial rules for our classroom, and I'll write them onto chart paper.  All students sign their names to the rules and I laminate it before hanging it on the wall.

Check out the bloggers below for their back-to-school favorites (and a freebie!!).  Leave me a comment and tell me how you do your classroom rules at the beginning of the year!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

300 Reading Strategies!!

300 reading strategies!  Yep, you read that correctly!  

A very exciting package arrived on my doorstep today!  After listening to my dog bark uncontrollably at the UPS man, I grabbed the package and quickly opened it! I like love it when I order a book off of Amazon and it arrives the next day!  

I have only had it for a few hours, BUT I had to quickly write up a post about my new purchase.  The book is called The Reading Strategies Book: Your Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Readers by Jennifer Serravallo.

The Reading Strategies Book consists of 13 chapters, 1 goal for each chapter that most commonly matches readers in grades K-8.  
Goal 1:  Supporting Pre-Emegent and Emergent Readers
Goal 2:  Teaching Reading Engagement: Focus, Stamina, and Building a Reading Life
Goal 3:  Supporting Print Work:  Increasing Accuracy and Integrating Sources of Information
Goal 4:  Teaching Fluency:  Reading with Phrasing, Intonation, and Automaticy
Goal 5:  Supporting Comprehension in Fiction:  Understanding Plot and Setting
Goal 6:  Supporting Comprehension in Fiction:  Thinking About Characters
Goal 7:  Supporting Comprehension in Fiction:  Understanding Themes and Ideas
Goal 8:  Supporting Comprehension in Nonfiction:  Determining Main Topics and Ideas
Goal 9:  Support Comprehension in Nonfiction:  Determining Key Details
Goal 10:  Supporting Comprehension in Nonfiction:  Getting the Most From Text Features
Goal 11:  Improving Comprehension in Fiction and Nonfiction:  Understanding Vocabulary and Figurative Language
Goal 12:  Supporting Students' Conversations:  Speaking, Listening and Deepening Comprehension
Goal 13:  Improving Writing About Reading

Jennifer Serravallo organized the book by goals because goals coupled with teacher feedback make one of the biggest differences on students achievement and progress (research of John Hattie, 2009). For each chapter (each chapter is 1 specific goal), she did a great job of giving an overview of what the goal is, for whom the goal is most appropriate, and how to assess with that goal in mind.  Once you decide on a goal, that chapter is filled with strategies.  FILLED!  Each strategy has a step-by-step and how-to description, teaching tips, the Fountas and Pinnell Text Level Gradient, genre, and skills that often work best with the strategy.  Plus, she provided prompts that can be used when providing scaffolds for children during the practice of the strategy and when offering feedback.  Lesson language is included in some of the lessons to show how to explain or demonstrate a strategy to an individual, small group, or whole class.  Lastly, visuals are included for all lessons.  The visuals include anchor charts, a tool such as a personalized strategy card or bookmark, student writing, or even photographs of students in actions with the strategy.  

I first heard about this book from Literacy Loving Gals.  Starting August 3rd, the #ReadingStrategiesCrew will be hosting a book study.  There are 13 bloggers in the #ReadingStrategiesCrew.  One blogger for each goal.  Posts will be every Monday and Wednesday until September 14th.  I am super excited to follow the book study while learning about some strategies that support these 13 crucial goals.  

Do want to hear more?!?  Well, I promise to come back and write more about this book.  I've only had this book in my hand for a few hours, so I need to dive in before passing along any more information.  

Has anyone else read this book?  Here is a brief walk-through of the book, hosted by Jennifer Serravallo!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Summer Blog Hop: Vivacious Vocabulary (The Power of Words)

As educators, we know the importance of vocabulary and how crucial it is to our students comprehension.  But we need to make sure our students understand the power of words. 

First, I'd like to share some information I read recently about vocabulary and the correlation it has to our students. I came across a very interesting article from American Educator (Summer 2014 edition) called The Magic of Words.  According to  Susan Neuman and Tanya Wright, recent analyses indicate that environmental factors associated with vocabulary development and emergent literacy skills are already present among children as young as fifteen months of age.  Plus, by first grade, children from high income families are likely to know about twice as many words as children from low-income families.  (WOW!)  Therefore, children from low-socioeconomic circumstances are not receiving the language support they need which means they start school with limited opportunities. (UGH!) Luckily, we (the educators) can intervene with effective vocabulary instruction during these crucial times of their development.  Research shows that certain practices can accelerate young children's vocabulary development, regardless of their background. (YAY!)

For the past ten years, I have been teaching students who come from low-socioeconomic
families. We know that reading comprehension and vocabulary knowledge go together like two perfect puzzle pieces. I've experienced first-hand in my classroom that students with limited vocabulary knowledge struggle when it comes to comprehending a text--which means I have some major catching up to do starting the very first day of school.  Direct instruction and independent reading are pivotal to acquiring word knowledge. Knowing that my students may have a slight deficit in their vocabulary development, I work hard to teach vocabulary explicitly and implicitly. For example, my explicit instruction will sometimes consist of child-friendly definitions of words and visuals before reading a text.  Visuals are huge in my classroom and I think they teach my students more than definitions do.  I have also found that acting out vocabulary words after introducing definitions has been beneficial in their understanding.   Implicit instruction is when my students learn new words by simply listening to read-alouds.  I, also, try to be careful when selecting vocabulary words. I have to follow our district's adopted reading program, but I do my best to use tier 2 words and content-related words when necessary.

Secondly, I have three picture books that would be worthwhile reading to students, especially at the beginning of the school year.  These picture books will help your students understand the power of words which can lead us into teaching the importance it has on their comprehension.

First book is Max's Words by Kate Banks.  This is a book is about a little boy, Max, who starts his own collection.  His brothers collect stamps and coins, so, Max decides to collect words.  The book includes beautiful illustrations along with hundreds of words in different colors and fonts.  This can get students really excited about words!  

The Word Collector by Sonja Wimmer is a great picture book to read to your students when discussing the power and importance of words (especially positive words).  The story is about a little girl named Luna.  She has a love and passion for words.  But one day, Luna has learned that the people have become too busy to remember the importance of words.  So, Luna decides to take action.  She gathers all of her words, puts them in her suitcase, and sets out on a journey to share her words with the world.

I love the illustrations and the way the words are displayed on each page.  It's such a wonderful book for you to enjoy with your students. This book can help you lead into teaching students how to celebrate and notice words.  Maybe you could start a graffiti bulletin board of new words.  Students could have their own "word collector" sheet in their notebooks and record new words when necessary.

The Boy Who Loved Words by Roni Schotter is a great book to celebrate language.  In this book, Selig loves words.  He loves the way they sound, taste, and stir in his heart.  As Selig takes a journey and travels around, he finds that people are always looking for the perfect word (a word that he can provide).  This would be a great introduction to creating a word tree in class.  This will help inspire students to look for new words wherever they go.

Here are a few more books you can share with your students when teaching about the power of words:
  • The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus by Jen Bryant
  • Noah Webster and His Words by Cheri Chase Ferris
  • Boris Ate A Thesaurus by Neil Steven Klayman
  • Thesaurus Rex by Layla Steinberg
  • The Boy Who Cried Fabulous by Leslea Newman
  • Big Words for Little People by Jamie Lee Curtis
  • Carmine: A Little More Red by Melissa Sweet
  • The Word Eater by Mary Amato (novel)

Are there any other books you read to your students to celebrate the power of words?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Summer Blog Party: Revving Up Writing

Four years ago, I came across a pin on Pinterest about publishing student writing for free.  FREE?!  I was pretty intrigued and thought, "Nothing is for free.  There must be a catch."  Turns out, I was wrong.  It's actually free!

First of all, writing is definitely is a weakness of mine.  I have never been fond of writing, so I haven't really enjoyed teaching it.  But I can honestly say that I get super excited about writing when I introduce my students to Student Treasures every year.  It gets me excited, which in turn gets my students excited.  Plus, it's an awesome way to teach the writing process.

Student Treasures Publishing is a company located in Topeka, Kansas.  They are dedicated to developing a product that delights schools, teachers, students, and parents.  Their 8.5 x 11 hardbound books (with the option of landscape or portrait orientation) are printed in full-color and includes archival papers, the author's name and title on the book spine, and a dedication and title page.  Can you guess who the authors are??......Yep, your students!

It is very simple to participate in this program.  First, order the student publishing kit(s) online, by phone, fax, or email.  Once you request your kit(s), you will reserve a press date for when you want to complete the book.  Student Treasures offers two types of kits that you can order; Classbook Kit (this one is FREE), and Individual Book Kit.  Individual Book Kits are recommended for grades three and up.  There is a minimal cost of $9.95 per kit.  The cost of the kit includes the student publishing kit, the binding of each manuscript into the hardbound book, and shipping to and from your school.   This kit gives each individual student the opportunity to create an entire book, showcasing their original writing and artwork.  I have not had any of my students create an individual book yet (particularly because it costs money).

Keep reading....I'm getting to the "free" part.....

This past year was my 4th year creating a classroom book using the Classbook Kit.  Classroom books are recommended for all grades.  It allows students to collaborate on a "collective" book that features original artwork and writing from each member of the class.  And it's FREE!

The kits contain everything you need to complete your classbook (a sample book created by students like yours, 66 manuscript pages-33 for text and 33 for illustration, kit envelope with easy to follow instruction, and order forms for parents).  Once you've completed your kit, you are ready to ship it off to become a hardbound book.  Using the prepaid UPS label that was inside your kit and the box your kit came in, you send it back to the company for a turn-around of two weeks.  It's as easy as that!

Sample books from Student Treasures
It's awesome for your students to see their own writing and artwork turned into an actual book. Publishing your student's writing can strengthen their self-esteem and improve language skills for a lifetime.  But only have one hardbound book!  Don't worry......inside your kit, there are slips that you can send home that offer parents the opportunity to purchase reprints.  Parents are under no obligation to purchase.  Over the past 4 years, I have had so many parents purchase reprints as Christmas or birthday presents and they've been completely satisfied with the quality of their child's keepsake.

There is so much more that you can explore on their website.  Every year, Student Treasures offers a National Book Challenge where you can win $1,000 and they offer several $100 Grant Giveaways.  There is a "teacher's lounge" located at the top of the website that offers a lot of resources to teachers.  Such as "how to videos," common core lesson plans & worksheets, teacher guides, book topic ideas, writing activities, writing/editing/illustration tips, and much more!

Here are a few pictures of my own students' work.  Like I said early, I have made 4 classbooks over the past 4 years.  Every year has been enjoyable and I look forward to creating another one this upcoming year.
Picture 1-All four of the classbooks my students have made over four years.
Picture 2-A page from our classbook titled, Third Grade's Character Traits.  Each student described a character trait and illustrated a picture to describe the trait.
Picture 3-A page from our classbook called, What's the Author's Purpose.  This book describes the reasons why an author writes (persuade, inform, entertain, share feelings).
Picture 4-A page from our classbook called, The Perfect Class Pet.  This is an opinion writing piece.

How would you use this free publishing company in your classroom?

Monday, July 13, 2015

It's My Birthday and All I Want Is More

Today is my birthday.  Today is my 33rd year. 

Today is my day and all I want is more.  No...not more gifts, money, or pretty things wrapped in pretty packages.  I want more of something else.....something far more important in life. 

This past 32nd year...was honestly not my favorite. It wasn't all horrible.  Don't get me wrong, there are things that I am super thankful for that happened this year.  I am. But overall, this wasn't my favorite.  And that's okay.  There will be years like that.  A lot happened with me, my family, my kids, and my friends this year.

But....Today is the beginning of a brand new year... my 33rd year.  So, this year, I am asking for more.  More laughter, more love, more gratitude, more prayers, more amazement, more peace.....more..... 

Mother/Daughter time
My little angel, Lucy
My daughter is growing way too quickly and I want it to slow down.  She is entering first grade this upcoming year.  Crazy! It feels like yesterday when I was welcoming my little angel into the world. Sometimes I feel like I give Tommy, my 3 year old, more attention because he's younger. So, I want more time with my little Lucy.  I want more cuddling with Lucy. I want more days out with just my little girl.  I just want more Mommy/Lucy time.
Paul and I
Date Day/Nights
Paul and I will be married 9 years this coming September.  Nine years....and we should still be in our honeymoon stage! :)  But life can sometimes get in the way.  Having two full-time jobs, two children, and an adorable dog can be overwhelming at times.  So, what I want this year is more quality time with my husband.  I want more hand-holding, more flirting, more hugs, and more kisses.  I want more nights of cuddling on the couch watching a movie, and more nights of going out to eat at our favorite restaurants that we haven't been to in years.  

Girl Time
I have some very special girls in my life that I want more time with.  I want more time with my two sisters that mean more to me than they'll ever know.  They are my role models.  They are my best friends. They tell me when I am being ridiculous no matter how upset they know it will make me. Also, I want more time with my life-long BFF.  I've known her for a little over 18 years.  We were college roommates all 5 years, and have never lived more than 8 minutes apart our entire life.  And I can't forget about my partner-in-crime, Melissa.  We've taught together for 5 years.  We work perfectly together and I would love to spend more time with her outside of our classroom walls.  I want more nights where I can sit with my girls and just talk without disruptions!  I want  more late night chat sessions with a bottle of wine and chocolate m&ms.

I love DIY projects.  I am usually 50% successful with my projects, and that's okay.  I want to make, create, construct, and be inspired more this year!  And maybe I'll wish for more of a success rate too! :)

I've only been blogging for a month.  It's only been a month and I want more.  I want to learn more from others.  I want to read about more successful lessons and activities.  I want to read more books that other bloggers suggest.  I want to write more and share ideas with others.  And I can't forget to mention, I want to attend more blogger meet-ups!

Family Time
Family means a lot to me.  I have two supportive and loving parents, two amazing in-laws,  several sisters, several brothers, and adorable nieces.  I want more time with my family.  I want more dinner gatherings, parties, cookouts, family portraits, and vacations together.  I want more time with each person.


Hopefully this post doesn't come across as sounding greedy.  Yes, I am asking for more.  But I feel like I am also asking for less.  I don't need pretty jewelry or fancy clothes in order to be happy.  All I want is to be surrounded more by my family and friends.

I am ready to start this new year. I am ready to see what this year has in store for me.  Stay tuned....

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sunday Scoop 3-2-1

OMG....I can't believe it is the week of July 12th!  School starts in about a month!  Where has the summer gone?  Where is the warm, sunny weather?  The rain needs to stop here in Ohio!  It's been a little bit crazy trying to keep my kids busy indoors all summer.

I decided to link up with Teaching Trio to organize my week and to make sure it will be a productive one!  Hope you enjoy!

What are you going to be up to this week?

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Brain Breaks with GoNoodle

Let's take some time to just breathe.......

With the high demands of state assessments this past school year, brain breaks were essential for my third graders.  And I have to admit, brain breaks were not just necessary for my students, but for me as well.

Have you ever heard of Go Noodle?  It's a website that provides short, desk-side, interactive physical activities.  The videos help students get the wiggles out, focus, dance, stretch, practice mindfulness, and much more.  These brain break activities can help teachers with classroom management and improve student performance.  And the best part about this's FREE!!

All you have to do is go to the website (click here), sign up, and that's it!  You can even assign your students their own username for when they need an independent brain break.  The website will provide you with a parent letter to download and send home with your students.

Once I login, I like to go to "channels".  There are many categories to pick from:

*Moosetube-wiggle, shake, and sing with crazy camp songs.

*Koo Koo Kanga Roo-dance and sing to some seriously ridiculous songs.

*Zumba Kids-dance your heart out with modeled dance moves and slick beats.

*Fresh Start Fitness-get fit with an awesome and intense fitness concert.

*Brainercise-challenge your body and brain with coordinated movements.

*Think About It-think, reflect, and set positive intentions for your day.

*Maximo-stretch and rejuvenate with a marvelous monkey.

*Indoor Recess-move along to some amazing mega mixes.

*Run With Us-run, jump, and throw with Track and Field Olympians and athletes.

*Kidz Bop-dance freestyle to some awesome hits

You can even add your own brain break YouTube videos to your GoNoodle account.  Do you ever feel like you are going to go crazy during inside-recess days?  This website has some really cool, interactive videos to show during those hectic days.

Check out this video below.  It is a video from the Zumba Kids section in GoNoodle.  It was played regularly in my classroom as a brain break.

It's good for all of us to take a step back and just breathe every now and then.  I know, as a teacher, I feel the pressure and stress of our state's high demands.  And unfortunately, our students feel it as well.  I love this website and I hope you find a way to use it in your classroom with your students.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Summer Blog Party Week 3: Creating Critical Thinkers

This week the Reading Crew is linking up to discuss how we create critical thinkers in our classrooms.  So many of my lessons cross my mind when thinking about how I create critical thinkers.  There is no way to pin point one thing that makes critical thinkers.
Starting from the very first day of school, I work on teaching my third graders to be critical thinkers.  In my opinion, it is not something that can be taught and mastered with a lesson or even a few lessons. Becoming a critical thinker takes a lot of practice and a lot of modeling by the teacher.  You can't expect students to automatically become a critical thinker after one lesson.  When I think of critical thinking, several things come to mind; metacognition, schema, inferring, questioning, determining importance, visualizing, and synthesizing.  All of these are important when becoming a critical thinker.

Have you ever read Comprehension Connections; Bridges to Strategic Reading by Tanny McGregor?  It is one of my favorite books.  I have read through it multiple times and it's always within arm's reach on my desk.  It has post-it notes sticking out of the pages, sentences highlighted, underlined phrases, and corner of pages folded over for easy access.  This book gives tangible, visual, and every day lessons to teach metacognition, schema, inferring, questioning, determining importance, visualizing, and synthesizing.  It is a must-have book!

I am not going to spend this whole post discussing all of Tanny McGregor's great amazing ideas.   But what I do want to share with you is a book I came across at Half Price Books that I think is perfect for modeling some of these skills that will create critical thinkers.  The book is called Window by Jeannie Baker.  I found it in the clearance spot for $1.00!  Can't beat that! The book starts with a mother, holding a newborn son, gazing out the window of his room at vegetation, tropical birds, a pond, and a kangaroo.  The remaining pages show the development, over a 20 year period, of the area outside the window.  And did I mention that this is a wordless picture picture book?!?!

Wordless picture books are a great way to build literacy skills.  Younger students learn to use picture clues when looking at wordless picture books.  Students also begin to understand story structure.  PLUS, I think wordless picture books are perfect at creating critical thinkers.  They force you to think about your thinking (metagcognition) and infer based on the picture clues and your schema. And don't forget about all of the questioning one does during a wordless picture book.  There are so many open-ended questions one can have while diving into a book.  There are so many reading skills one can practice when enjoying a wordless picture book.

Let's dive into this awesome find.  Take a look at the first two pages of Window.  I added a few examples of what I would model out loud to my students.
The best thing about Window is that every single page adds deeper thinking, inferences, and questions.  Check out the next page....

Alright....I'll show you the next page in the book.  BUT it'll be the last because you'll have to purchase this book to add to your library.  Trust me, it's worth it.

Oh my....there is so much to say about this page!!!  What are your thoughts?  Can you picture your students coming up with questions and inferences?  Are you curious how the story ends?  I guess you will have to purchase the book!

Below are a few wordless picture books that are worth checking out and adding to your library.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Tell All Tuesday-Top Ten List

Hello, Tuesday!   I am excited to link up with Teach.Talk.Inspire and My Day in K for Tell All Tuesday.  I don't think anyone has ever asked me what I have learned from being a teacher.  This was a hard post to write, but so fun!  I think I could have written so much more than just ten.  

Here we go.....

How many of you think writing sub plans is fun?  Anybody??  No?  I really dislike it! I have learned that taking the day off is way more work than actually going to work sick.  I don't know if you are like me or not, but my sub plans turn into a book with how detailed I get with my explanations.  I can't expect a substitute to teach like me, but I sure do try with my detailed sub plans!   Sometimes I feel like it takes me a whole day to write sub plans (sometimes longer).

My love for coffee started when I worked at Starbucks during my second year of college.  But my true  LOVE for coffee grew when I started teaching. It doesn't matter how much sleep I get the night before, I still need my two cups of coffee!  

Do you ever feel like your students eat their pencils?  Where in the world do all the pencils go?  I don't know about your classroom, but we go through hundreds and hundreds of pencils in one school year. I keep my own stash of sharpened pencils on my desk (just for myself).  By the time March comes around, I feel like we are scrambling to find pencils!

Do you know any "negative Nelly's?"  It's completely normal for people to be in a bad mood every now and then.  But what I have learned is that moods can be very contagious.  If I am in a bad mood at school, my students pick up on it.  So, I feel it's important to be positive as much as I can.  No one is perfect, but I don't like to surround myself with negative people.  It can be a "downer."  So, the more positive I am, the more positive my students and colleagues will be.

Do people sometimes say, "You have the easiest job because you have summers off."?  I hate that comment.  Yes, I do enjoy having summers off.  But my summer is not one large vacation.  Summers are filled with workshops, professional development books, planning, reorganizing my classroom, and reflecting on what went well and what did not work.  Again, I do enjoy my summers.  I just wish people would realize that we, teachers, work to better ourselves all summer long.

I love books.  I love books.  Did I mention that I love books?!?!

Contractually my school day ends at 3:30.  But my teacher-brain does not turn off until I close my eyes and fall asleep at night.  

It seems like there isn't a day that goes by that I teach exactly what is written on my lesson plans.  What happens when there is a fire drill?  Or an assembly?  Or maybe the Title 1 teacher is out sick and there isn't a sub?  Teachers must alter, change, add, or delete their lesson plans.  What happens if your students just aren't understanding the lesson or skill you are teaching?  Do you just move on because you're following your lesson plans?  Nope.  I've learned that teachers MUST be flexible every single day.

I teach third grade in Ohio.  So, my third graders have the pressure of The Third Grade Guarantee.  This means my students cannot go to 4th grade unless they meet a minimum score on the state reading assessment.  I do not agree that one piece of the puzzle determines an eight year old's future to the next grade level. 

At the end of the day, what do we all need?  Love.  I think we can make a difference in anyone by the amount of love we spread.  Encouraging words and affection, I think, are important when developing a child's healthy emotional outlook on life.  To quote the Beatles, "All we need is love..."

Friday, July 3, 2015

July Pick 3 Pinterest Party

Today,  Inspired Owl's Corner  is hosting a link up for bloggers to post their favorite pick 3 Pinterest ideas.  I LOVE this!

Pinterest is my favorite....I sometimes wonder how I even functioned without Pinterest in my life.  I use Pinterest for, home decor, dyi projects, kid ideas....and I could go on and on and on!  So, needless to say, when I saw this link up...I got SUPER excited!   There is one problem though...I have no idea how to narrow it down to 3!

My first July pin is a DIY project for my house.  It's a chalkboard calendar from an old window.  So cool!!!  I recently moved into a house (hopefully my last house for many, many, many years) and I have not had time or the desire to decorate.  Once I found this project, I knew I had the perfect place for it in my new house.  The school year is quickly approaching and it gets a little hectic in my household.  So what better way to keep my house in order than with this old window chalkboard calendar!  I actually went around to some garage sales looking for an old window this morning.  No luck :(, but I have quite a few more weeks of summer to find one!  I was thinking about putting it on an empty wall in my mudroom.  Below is a picture of where I want to hang it.  What do you think?
Click here for the link

My next pin is something for my two little ones, Lucy and Tommy. The weather in Ohio this summer has been awful!  It's been rainy and somewhat chilly.  I feel like I have spent most of my time indoors with them.  We have been to the library and Half Priced Books A LOT!  So, where would be a fun place for my kids to read all the books they are finding?  An easy DIY tent!  Sometimes it is hard to believe when I read projects that say "easy" because nothing seems to be easy when you aren't very handy.  But these DIY directions don't seem to be very hard.  According to the instructions, the materials will only cost $20.  Not bad!
Click here for the link
Have you ever made a project like this?  This tent will look super cool next to my DIY bookcase.  Check that at here.

My last pick for July is a tutorial on how to make cake pops.  Have you ever had a cake pop before?  My mouth is already starting to water.  YUMMMMM!  One of my friends at school makes wonderful cake pops and she brings them in for ever work party that we have.  Tomorrow my mother is throwing a 4th of July cookout and I am in charge of bringing a dessert.  So, tonight I am going to attempt to make some holiday cake pops (I bought cookie dough to pop in the oven if it doesn't go well)!  Wish my luck!

Click here for the link