December 13, 2015

Christmas Gifts--Easy and Cheap!

Almost every teacher wants to buy a Christmas gift for each one of their students--but with classes of 30+ just gets too darn expensive!  If you are middle school, high school, or "specials" teacher then you have 100+ kids.....and buying a gift for that many kids is just INSANE!

If you are looking for something cheap (and cute) check out what I made for my kiddos.

Are they not cute?  I mean look at their cheery faces and cute little red noses!!

With a little assembly time and about 10 bucks, you can make these Rudolph suckers for your whole class.

You will need:

  • green construction paper (1 sheet of paper per reindeer)
  • tootsie pops (red and 1 per reindeer) 
    • $2.25 a bag at WalMart with 10 suckers in each bag
  • black sharpie
  • scissors 
  • scotch tape
  • Reindeer pattern

First trace the reindeer pattern on all of the pieces of green construction paper.  You can find the pattern by clicking here

Next, cut the pattern out. This is what takes the most time---those dang antlers and ears are are tricky little things!
Make sure you cut out the hole in the center--this is where the sucker will go for the red nose. I know my picture doesn't show the hole missing---so just don't forget!

Then, fold the reindeer in half and put a strong crease at the bottom (the chin of the reindeer).

After that, open up the reindeer and place the sucker inside.

The sucker straw will poke through the tiny little hole at the bottom of the reindeer (if you look at the picture above--its the tiny hole between the two big holes).

Fold the reindeer with the sucker inside.

Next, use little pieces of scotch tape to to secure the sucker.  I placed the scotch tape on the "cheeks"of the reindeer and on some of the antlers.

Finally, write a message on the back and draw on Rudolph's face!

And.....voila!  A cute, cheep and festive Christmas gift for you kiddos!

November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Wishing a Happy Thanksgiving to all of my blog buddies and readers!

This cute Thanksgiving clip-art is from Prince Padania

We were supposed to be hosting Thanksgiving at our house with the ENTIRE family....but Old Man winter had different plans for us....

Thanks to this fun little weather system that has brought snow, freezing rain and ice into the state of husband and I are feasting on turkey, mashed potatoes, rolls, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, corn casserole, pumpkin pie, apple pie and pumpkin pie dip....ALONE! Our family is stranded in the northern part of Kansas....and weather won't allow them to make the trip.

We will have leftovers for MONTHS!

Hope the weather has held up wherever you all are.....

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

November 1, 2015

Currently November

Happy first day of November everyone!

I LOVE this month!

I LOVE this time of year!

I LOVE linking up with Farley for her Currently! :)

I'm listening to the Chiefs play in London!  Consequently, I am also listening to my lovely husband scream at the television. :) ha!

I am loving that it is November!  This is a special month for my family because we have lots of birthdays (my sister, step-son, father in-law and my husband)!  PLUS this is also our anniversary month!

I'm thinking about breakfast.  Whole wheat toast with Nutella is calling my name! :)

Y'all.....I am DESPERATELY wanting to not be sick.  In the month of October I have suffered through two sinus infections, a cold and a viral and bacterial eye infection.  I have never been so sick....and it is getting OLD.  I'm still taking medication for my eye infection and my second sinus infection. I just want to be healthy again!

Farley's original post said "yummy" at the bottom---so I changed mine to reflect that. :)  My yummy for this time of year is a pumpkin dip I make!  I'll post the recipe later....but it is DELICIOUS!

October 26, 2015

It's here....Popular Purple! :)

So I am pretty excited about this post. :)

You see the other day I got a fabulous gift in the mail..........

This gift just happens to be one of my all time favorite colors.


Purple.....the rich and beautiful color that reminds me of my precious Kansas State Wildcats!

I needed an excuse to throw in a KSU Football game picture!  Here is the hubs and I at one of the games this season! :)
Okay...another one.  This is me and one of my best friends. :)
Purple....the hue that is apart of my district's school colors. Go Hornets! :)

Curious as to what my gift was???

Well......It was the newest color in the pencil sharpener lineup by Classroom Friendly Supplies!

Now introducing the BRAND SPANKING NEW COLOR: Popular Purple!

Isn't it beautiful?

Doesn't the color just make your heart smile?

If you haven't heard about the sharpeners that Classroom Friendly Supplies should check out a previous post I wrote by clicking here.

These pencil sharpeners are seriously amazing!  I used to be such a fan of electric fact electric sharpeners were the only sharpeners I allowed in my classroom. However, when I tried the sharpener from Classroom Friendly Supplies...I became a convert.  I now have nothing but these sharpeners in my room.

The pros of this sharpener are:

Sharpens quickly
Sharpened tip is above average for sharpness
Sharpened tip is sturdy
Does not require electricity
Comes in a variety of colors
Easy to dispose of shavings

If you don't believe me.....hopefully the pictures speak for themselves.

If there was a downside to the would be the lack of directions that come with the sharpener, and the cost.

Thus my cons are:

Pricey  ($18/sharpener)
Does not come with directions are probably thinking...."why the heck does this lady need directions for a pencil sharpener?  How DULL (get it..haha) is she??" friends....Classroom Friendly Supplies sends you a part that looks like this:

That part looks confusing....does it not??

Well....after some investigating, I figured out what it was for.  It is a you can clamp the pencil sharpener  to any hard flat surface.

The clamp is a pretty ingenious idea.....but it would have been nice for directions on what the mystery part was called and its use.

It is actually pretty easy to use (once you figure it out).  You simply insert the end of the metal clamp into the hole in the pencil sharpener and tighten the until the clamp is secure.

Excuse my nasty hands....I am constantly having fights with markers....and by the end of the day my hands are all beat up with various pen markings. :(

All in all I would say this Popular Purple pencil sharpener from Classroom Friendly Supplies is definitely worth the investment.

October 2, 2015

Currently October

The beginning of can't be!  Where the heck did the first month of school go?  How does time go so quickly......

Not that I am complaining....because fall is my FAVORITE time of year!  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this season!

Not only do I love this season....but I also love linking up with Farley for her monthly linky, Currently. (How was that transition....pretty good, eh?.....maybe I should be a news reporter. ha!)

I am listening to the Today show....who doesn't love that show!  Sadly, today's show has a heartbreaking theme as the reporters are covering the mass shooting in Oregon.  My thoughts and prayers go out to all victims and their families.  I can't imagine the pain they are experiencing. 

I am loving this fall weather!  When the the temperatures consistently drop below 75 heart is HAPPY!

I am thinking this is my favorite time of year! I love the weather.  I love the colors. I love the smells.  I love when pumpkin everything hits the markets!  Fall is just GREAT!

I am wanting my Gap package to arrive. I have ordered some new work pants---that I desperately need!  I want them!

I am needing to return the items I didn't keep in my last Stitch Fix.  If you haven't heard about Stitch Fix....then you need to check into it.  There are tons of blog posts out there about this fantastic I will save you from my explanation. 

I am thinking the FREE meal that Carlos O' Kelly's is giving teachers is boo-tiful!  Not sure what I am talking about...check out my blog post by clicking here.   You have until October 4th to snag this offer! 

September 27, 2015

Free Meal--At Carlos O' Kelly's!

Are you hungry for a FREE meal?!?!

I know that I LOVE free food.....I don't care what it is....if it is FREE, I will eat it! 

Well.....okay, maybe not everything....but you get the idea.

Anyway, Carlos O' Kelly's is running a WONDERFUL promotion for educators all across the United States!  :)

From now until October 4th teachers get a free entree of their choice by simply presenting their school ID or badge.   

How great is that?!?!

I am not lying folks---it is a FOR REAL promotion!  I was skeptical, but my husband (who is also a teacher) and I went there on Friday night and ate for $2.58!  We got two meals, chips and salsa.....and full bellies for under $3!!!

Thank you Carlos O' Kelly's for being so giving and gracious to teachers! :)  

Click here to take you to the informational page on the promotion.  Click here to visit Carlos O' Kelly's facebook page....which also has details on this promotion.  

Happy FREE eating everyone! :)

September 13, 2015

Sunday Scoop

Here is the scoop on my week....

This week of school is full of meetings for me.  Most people dread meetings (probably for good reason) but I actually like going to them....well most of the time. 

This week I am in charge of facilitating our buildings data talks with PLC teams....which I love doing!  We have data talks three times a year after benchmark tests.  The first meeting usually goes pretty fast because we discuss baseline data and set goals.  The teams in my school are awesome and we have really great I get to show them some super corny data jokes and this bad boy:

I hope I am able to get TWO additional blog posts done this week...because I have TWO AWESOME ideas swimming around in my head.  One is about a nifty way to practice sight words....and the other is how to be an effective leader.  My pastor gave a talk in church today about leadership....and I want to share some of his was TOO GOOD not to share!

I will be happy to download the rest of my Hello Fonts from Hello Literacy by Jenn Jones. I got a new computer last weekend....because my other one crashed and I lost all of cute fonts.  So, I splurged and purchased Hello Literacy's font bundle...225 adorable fonts!  They are on sale now if you are interested....I highly recommend them.

Have a great Sunday everyone and thank you Teaching Trio for the Sunday Scoop linky party!

August 30, 2015

The BEST Game--A Team Builder

Many of us have been in school for weeks, while some are just beginning.

Regardless of the amount of time you have spent with your students.....there is always room for team building! :)

One of my favorite team building games to play is called The Best Game.  How great is that title??  I mean the title alone should tell you that you need to play it!

I have played this game with kids AND adults---and everyone always has a great time! The purpose of this game is for students (or adults) to get to know one another and showcase completely random talents and skills.

Here's a snapshot of how to play the game---but you can download the WHOLE game including the category cards) for FREE in my TPT store.  Just click here. :)

I always pass out the category cards to the teams and let them collaboratively decide who gets what card--this is a great way to get kids talking and becoming a "team."  Side note: Please ignore my ugly index cards....I ran out of time to cut out cute category cards. Ha!

Here is one of the category competitions in action.....It was "The throw a paper airplane."  

If you are looking for a great game to get kids talking, working as a team and having fun......then The BEST Game is the game for you!

Play won't regret it!

August 18, 2015

Bonus Sale!!!

In case you haven't heard......

TPT is having a  ONE DAY BONUS SALE!!!!  It is one day and one day only---August 19th!  That is tomorrow people!!

Head on over to TPT and stock up on some great savings!

Most sellers will have their entire store 20% off....AND if you enter the code MORE15 you get an additional 8% off! :)

Happy shopping everyone!! :)

August 9, 2015

The Sunday Scoop

Well......This is my last official day of summer. :)

What better way to end it than linking up with Teaching Trio for her Sunday Scoop! :)  Actually I would rather end it with some additional days for summer vacation.....but that's not going to happen. ha!

Here's the scoop.......

August 6, 2015


Thank you to everyone who entered my Makeover Celebration.  I think it was a great celebration! :)

I really wish I could give prizes to everyone who entered......

But, I can't. :)

Anyway....I am happy to announce my two winners!  A BIG congrats to Erika R. and Melissa J!!!

I will be contacting both of you by email!

Again...thanks to everyone who entered!  Love and hugs to you all!

August 2, 2015

I'm still having my Makeover Celebration giveaway......

BUT....I also wanted to tell you about another giveaway! The Langauge Arts Classroom and Julie Faulkner have teamed up with TONS (over 100!!) of secondary (middle and high school) sellers for a giveaway contest.

Hop on over to their blogs for your chance to win any of the 7 price packs (I personally donated an item to the secondary math pack)! You can get to the contest by clicking here.  The contest runs from August 2nd to August 8th! 

Man you guys can win lots this month (EXCITING!)

P.S. Don't forget TPT is having their HUGE site-wide sale August 3-4!

July 30, 2015

Makeover Celebration Giveaway! Win a Target or Starbucks Gift Card

Have you guys noticed my new look?????

My little ol' blog got a much needed makeover!!!!!  Isn't it so SUPER DUPER RIDICULOUSLY CUTE!!!!!!

I wish I could take credit for the design, but the fabulous ladies over at Blogs Fit for a Queen did the design and install. I highly recommend working with these two wonderful women if you are in the market for blog design, logo, TPT banner, etc! They are patient, diligent, incredibly talented and reasonably priced.

My new look needed to be revealed with a bang.....thus I am having a giveaway!  Woot Woot!!!

This reveal needed to be extra special because not only did my blog get a makeover, but I have changed my name on TPT from Katie Orr to Mind Sparks, AND I started a Facebook fan page!

The contest runs from July 30th to August 5th!

To enter use the rafflecopter below for your chance to win a $15 Starbucks or Target gift card!  Please note there are two pages to the rafflecopter.....the Target gift card is page one, and the Starbucks gift card is page 2! :)

You can't win if you don't get to clicking, and best of luck!  Winner will be announced Thursday, August 6th!

a Rafflecopter giveaway if this little ol' contest isn't enough....I am excited to announce that TPT is having its big back to school sale!!!

Soooo.....starting August 3rd (that's Monday folks....) through August 4th ALL products in my TPT store will be on sale!  There will also be a ton of other products on get your wishlists ready now!

That's a lot of great news in one post.....a chance to win a gift card AND a sale!

July 22, 2015

Apps that earn YOU money! :)

The "Back to School" time of year is typically money tight for most people.

Well....breathe a sigh of relief...because.....

I am here to tell you about a few apps (four actually) that will alleviate the stress on your budget....and actually earn you money!
These apps are free.  No gimmicks.  No tricks.  And....they legit work!

In fact, I wouldn't share them if they were a scam.  I personally use all four of them! :)

Here are the four apps that you should download right now!

1.  Ibotta

Ibotta is an app that pays you for certain purchases.  Basically, you buy something, scan the bar-code of the product, take a picture of your receipt and upload it to Ibotta.  

I primarily use this app for grocery shopping.....but you can also use it for restaurants, apparel, beauty, electronics, travel and pets!

This is my favorite money earning app of the four!  It's my fav. because you can link your Ibotta account to your Paypal...which makes money earned super easy to access! don't have to earn a minimum in order to transfer to Paypal.  If you earn $ can transfer the $1.00!  ALSO....Ibotta has rebates for items you really do fresh produce, milk, bread, etc!

Oh...and there is a teamwork component.  If your friends redeem rebates via Ibotta, you can earn extra money just because they are using the app.  Everyone earns....and wins! 

Check out Ibotta's website to learn more, by clicking here! Sign up for Ibotta by clicking here.

 2. Snap by Groupon
Snap by Groupon, is very similar to Ibotta.  You purchase qualifying products, snap your receipt and upload it to Snap to earn cash.

I must admit .....this money earning app is my least favorite of the four.

I say this because you are limited to only grocery products.  The rebates that are available are usually specific brands (unlike Ibotta which offers generic rebates on customer favorites like bread, eggs or milk).  For example you have to buy Quaker Oat Squares to earn cash back, compared to a generic "buy any cereal" rebate.

Additionally, you have to earn $20 before you can ever cash out.  Snap will mail you a check when you reach $ no easy access to the money you have earned. do still earn money!

Check out Snap's website to learn more, by clicking here.  Sign up for Snap by clicking here!

Checkout 51 is pretty identical to Snap.  Like Snap, Checkout 51 can earn you cash for grocery purchases.  Checkout 51 also makes you wait until you earn $20 before you can cash out.....and they also send you a check.

I like Checkout 51 a teeny tiny bit better than Snap because they offer generic rebates with more frequency.  Checkout 51's rebates go live on Thursday and expire the following Wednesday....which means there is more variety in the rebates and new ones will appear each week.

To learn more about Checkout 51 click here.  To sign up for Checkout 51, click here!

Shopkick is quite a bit different than the above apps.  Instead of earning cash for rebates, you earn points (although with Shopkick they are called "kicks") that can be cashed in for gift cards or products. 

When I first heard of this app, I thought the gift cards would be lame.....but they are actually pretty awesome!  You can earn gift cards for Lowes, Target, Starbucks, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Sephora Cheesecake Factory, etc.  

To earn "kicks" you complete various tasks.  The easiest way to earn "kicks" is by opening the app when you walk into a retailer that has paired with Shopkick.  You can also earn "kicks" by scanning certain product bar-codes throughout the store (no need to buy--all you have to do is scan!).  If you want--you can purchase products through Shopkick to earn kicks---but this isn't necessary--all the other ways of earning "kicks" are free!

This app is my second favorite (behind Ibotta).  I felt kinda silly competing Shopkick tasks at first....but when I got my first reward, it made it all worth it! It's easy to do....and there are great prizes!

To learn more about Shopkick, click here.  To sign up for Shopkick, click here!

So......what are you waiting for.....GO GET THESE APPS!

July 20, 2015

Monday Made It!

Happy Monday everyone! :)

Today I am linking up with 4th Grade Frolics for their weekly linky party, Monday Made It!

A couple of summers ago I spent my time working on morphology units for grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8.  These morphology units were based off of research by Timothy Rasinski, Nancy Padak, Rick M. Newton and Evangeline Newton--aka amazing reading researchers and leaders in their field. You can read about those by clicking here

While these morphology packs are great at teaching each grade level's specific prefixes, suffixes and roots .....they didn't contain any way to practice what was taught. 

What was a teacher to do after the kids have gotten the content, but need to practice????? 

Sooooooo.....along came my idea for a practice edition for each morphology pack! :)  I'm talking games, task cards, practice pages and flash cards!  Basically....... any way you can think of to practice prefixes, suffixes and roots....I wanted it! AND....I wanted it all in one spot!

I am proud to say I have completed my first practice edition for the 5th grade morphology pack! :)  This puppy was a lot of work....because it is chock full of stuff--50+ pages of stuff!

The 5th Grade Common Core Morphology Pack--- **Practice Edition** is GREAT for practicing previously taught 5th grade prefixes, suffixes and roots.   It is also great for differentiation, remediation, assessment and enrichment!

The Practice Packet includes:
  • 50+ pages of practice material
  • 3 sets of task cards (one for the prefixes, suffixes and roots)
  • Answer keys
  • 5 engaging games
  • Practice pages
  • Flashcards
  • Blank Templates

These two products (5th Common Core Morphology Pack and 5th Common Core Morphology Pack Practice Edition) are really married together...and sync up perfectly.  After you teach all of the morphology---spend some time practicing the new learning in fun ways!  

That product was a doozy to create.....but I think it will be SUPER helpful!

Have a great Monday everyone!