Monday, July 30, 2012

Monday Made It #2 - Silhouette and Debbie Diller in one post!

I’ve officially demolished a Silhouette cutting mat in my first attempts at using it.  But, that is irrelevant because I have made my first Silhouette project.  It’s not particularly awe-inspiring, but it’s a start.

I use numbers to keep track of my students and last year I wrote the numbers on sticks – and just kept them in a container.  Very blah, and uninspired.  What would always happen was, I would misplace sticks that I had chosen because I had nowhere specific for the sticks that had been used…I would also walk around with the holder and misplace that…but I hope all that can be solved.

I’ve created these bright fancy number sticks and holders.  Now every stick has a home, called on or not!  Bonus: everything is bright, so hopefully I can’t misplace anything even if I set the tins in a random place.
Monday Made It - SticksWhy am I glad I used my Silhouette? I DIDN’T HAVE TO CUT ANYTHING!  I printed the circles on colored regular paper, NOT cardstock.  Sent them through the laminator. Then the Silhouette cut them out.  I didn’t have to cut a single circle! 

Hopefully I’ll do something much more fun for next week!  Accepting all Silhouette tips and ideas!  BTW the Tazo Tea Tins are incredibly difficult to recycle!  It was a real chore taking off the labels…even using the goo be gone stuff!

Next, I made these math work station mats.  During summer school I’ve noticed how the kids just love to roll the die as far as possible, and spread the counters all around them, and…well you know how it is.  Even after modeling and explaining, I still catch the odd flying die in the corner of my eye. 

Debbie Diller did think of something for this and on page 40 of her book explains the mats.  I bought the shelf-liner from the Dollar Tree.  Duct tape I made two trips – 40% off at Hobby Lobby and Michaels.  So pretty cheap!
Monday Made It - Math Mats
So there you have it!  My latest creations.
To join the linky fun and see what other teachers are creating head over to Tara's blog by clicking below:

I won’t be posting again until I finish my back to school packets.  So be on the look out for those.  They’ll be perfect for dual language, bilingual classrooms and regular education teachers looking for some new read alouds and activities.

Happy Monday!
Mrs. Castro Pin It

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Linky Post to end ALL Linky Posts

First things first.  I have to say thank you to all of my followers.  It truly makes my day when I see that I have new followers or have new comments.  Suddenly my blog is blossoming!  So thanks to all of you who have taken the time to officially follow my blog! 

There are so many fun linkys going on right now…so many in fact that instead of linking to one each day I’m just going to link to them all in one post.  Otherwise all you would see from me would be linky posts. 

Linky #1 – Must Have Picture Books – brought to you by the Teacher Wife

I’ve been meaning to join this linky for a while – but I had to think hard about which books I wanted to include as my top 5.  The first 3 I discovered this summer after several back to school posts by Candis at I Teach Dual Language.  She has shared some wonderful read alouds for back to school that are more multicultural than your traditional back to school read alouds.  After checking them out from the library…I fell in LOVE with these books.  You should get them from the library now…because they’re amazing, and because I’m working on a bilingual back to school packet that will include these books!

1.  Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match/Marisol McDonald no combina by Monica Brown.  This is a story about a little girl with one Peruvian parent and one Scottish parent.  She’s an interesting mix of the two, and completely unique.  This read aloud is great for teaching that differences are good, empathy, and accepting yourself.
I rarely like bilingual books with English and Spanish prose – but this book did it so well and in such a way that it reflected how a bilingual mind works.  Brilliant!

2.  Rene Has Two Last Names by Rene Colato Lainez.  This is another great story about a new student from El Salvador.  In El Salvador he used two last names, but his second last name is not included on any of his school paperwork.  Rene struggles with this – because his second last name helps him remember his maternal grandparents and all they represent.  This book explains cultural differences in a very authentic way, and would be great for any classroom.  It truly is a story and isn’t just an explanation of the cultural difference!

3.  This one is a fun for inspiring readers!  It comes in English and Spanish.  Wild About Books/Que Locura por la lectura by Judy Sierra.  I caught myself smiling and laughing out loud while reading this book!  I wanted to immediately share it with my husband.  Essentially a librarian takes her library to the zoo and the animals fall in love with reading.  You find out what each animal likes to read, how they read, what they write, etc.  Reading it out loud is fun though because it is written in rhyme.  It’s clever and creative…you’ll love it!

4. I also love The Three Little Tamales by Eric A. Kimmel.  This is a great story for teaching compare and contrast as it is essentially the story of The Three Little Pigs but told from a tamales perspective.  I love books that put a new spin on something familiar.  I also love stories that incorporate English and Spanish in an authentic way.  My students adore this book, and I’m sure yours will too!
5. Finally, this is one of our favorite read alouds from this year.  Square Cat by Elizbath Schoonmaker.  Eula is a square cat that is unhappy with her square state, since all her friends are round.  We see Eula try to change herself to fit what she thinks is the “right” cat mold.  However, with the help of her trusty friends, Eula discovers being square really isn’t so bad.  The illustrations in this book are very well done and my students really related to this story.  The author is very sweet and reached out to our classroom sharing pictures and letters.  This was a special read aloud for us!

Linky # 2 - I’m also linking up with Kelley at the Teacher Idea Factory.  She is my newest follower – which makes me excited!

1.  I love Words Their Way.  This is a spelling program that is designed to meet kids at their developmental spelling level!  At first it seems a bit overwhelming, but it’s worth the learning curve.  I was amazed to see how much growth my students demonstrated – in their SECOND LANGUAGE!  There is a spelling assessment you give three times a year and you can really see how much your students have grown.  Even better, this program is inexpensive – if you and your team decide to use it you could easily split the cost!  I actually posted about how we used WTW in our classroom, check out that post by clicking the link below the image.  AND if you have questions about the program email me!
2.  Another program I love is Interactive Read Alouds by Linda Hoyt (who I’ve met!).  This is a wonderful program that has identified read alouds that compliment different reading comprehension strategies, literary elements, language structures, writing styles, etc.  Each mentor text also has a lesson plan, a shared reading activity, and an extension activity.  This is another inexpensive resource that has become essential in my classroom!

3.  I love double dice! (Technical name – Dice in dice – BORING!) My students love double dice!  I was lucky enough to receive these from our bilingual department.  I can’t tell you how excited my kids are when they get to use these little guys!  There are an infinite number of ways to use them, which makes them even more valuable!
4.  Wire hanging file holder.  Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of mine, but it basically looks like this one.  I use this holder to keep track of my students data folders/signed forms/parent contact.  I have a hanging file – each is numbered since my students are assigned numbers.  Inside each hanging file I have a pronged folder where I keep all of my students’ data.  I may change it up next year and find a way for my students to update their data folders – but I believe I will still use this little guy.  I never lost anything – and could just bring it home when I need to update things. With R.T.I., I really depend on this little guy to make sure I have everything I need.

5.  This item is something I actually don’t have in my classroom – but wish desperately I did!  For a short while I did have an electric hole punching machine.  It was amazing how much we used that hole punch!  It saved so many trips to the work room.  The kids liked it, I loved it.  But then it died.  It was probably from the 80s, but it was a tragic day when it left us.  I would love to have another hole punch in my classroom, but ideally an electric hole punch!

So there you have it!  Go visit Kelley’s page to see more amazing resources and link up yourself!

Linky # 3 - Last but not least I’m joining Amy Lemon’s linky Tell Me More, Tell Me More! – I’ll try to keep it simple and just give you a glimpse of who I am.
  • I lived in Argentina for nearly 5 years.  Met my husband and got married there.
argentina map
  • Our anniversary is coming up – 5 years in August.
  • I didn’t study to be a teacher.  Due to a desperate need for bilingual teachers I was allowed into a classroom with no qualifications other than speaking Spanish.  Luckily, I’ve since become qualified!  :)
  • I LOVE animals.  Generally speaking, when I watch movies I only cry sob if an animal dies, an remain semi-rational if a human dies.  Probably means something…
  • While living in Argentina I rescued several animals – 2 cats, a box of kittens, 1 pregnant dog and her 9 puppies, and at least 4 other dogs…and I may have lost count. 
Fotos1 044Argentina1 047PA260018
  • I have 2 cats – Max and Ellie.  They pretty much rule the Castro house.
    • Max has one eye.
    • Ellie has two eyes.
    • Together they have three eyes.
Max and Ellie 1Max and Ellie 2
  • I am a tea person.  No coffee for me.  (This is dangerous because my husband works at Starbucks and I get a free thing of tea every week!)
  • Movies I can (and do) watch over and over:
    • The Mexican
    • Galaxy Quest
    • The Proposal
    • The King’s Speech

  • I love reading – so much so that I wear this necklace all the time!
2012-02-18 09.30.53
  • AND last but not least, I ran my first 5K/Mud Run today!  It was a lot of fun!  But I’m totally out of shape and held the group back.  MUST train for next year!  Our team was the “muddy maestras” and the back of our shirts said” teaching is a dirty job…too true!
I think that’s enough tonight – if you made it this far…thank you and I’m sorry!  That was the longest post E-V-E-R!

Have a great weekend! 
Mrs. Castro Pin It

Friday, July 27, 2012

Summer Vacation Linky

I’m joining up with my friend Krista for her Summer Vacation Linky Party.  I wish I could say I’ve been on some amazing summer vacations recently…but that would be a lie!  Since moving back to the United States we really haven’t been able to take many vacations.  BUT, I have gone to some cool places so I thought I would share.

Just before getting married my husband and I went to Bariloche, Argentina!  Bariloche is a very popular skiing destination during the winter in Argentina (a.k.a summer in the northern hemisphere).  BUT, we went during the early spring.  It was beautiful.  I still can’t believe I’ve been to the Andes (3x)!  If you ever get a chance to go – take it.  It’s lovely!  We didn’t take a single formal tour – we just rented a car a did our own thing.  I had really never driven stick before – but somehow we survived!  I would love to go back someday.
When we got married – my family came for the ceremony.  Can you believe this was the first time they met Ariel?!  The problem was they were in a foreign country and didn’t speak any Spanish.  So instead of going on a honeymoon, we went on a family vacation to Mendoza, Argentina.  Mendoza is also in the Andes and is wine country.  If you get any wines from Argentina (like Malbec) they are probably from Mendoza.  I’ve been to Mendoza twice, and unfortunately both times were in the winter.  It’s supposed to be absolutely beautiful in the summer!  The city of Mendoza is a startling contrast to Buenos Aires.  Mendoza is soooooooo clean!  It’s refreshing after dog-poop infested Buenos Aires.

This was the first time my husband ever experienced snow!  It was novel and fun at the time.  After 3 winters 3 winters in Chicago – it’s lost it’s luster!
One summer we were lucky enough to come to the United States to visit my family.  We were able to spend a week in Minnesota with family.  It was lovely and exactly what we needed after so much time in a HUGE city!  I know Minnesota isn’t the most exotic of places – but we were happy!  In fact, we’ll be going back to the same cabin in a couple of weeks. 

Join the fun and share you best vacations!  I’d love to add new places to my vacation wish list!

Mrs. Castro

P.S. We still haven't had a honeymoon - we dream about going to Europe someday though! Pin It

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Totally Terrific Teacher Tools @ Home

Totally Terrific Teacher Tools @ Home Linky

In honor of my new Silhouette Cameo that just arrived, I want to host my first linky!

There are linkys about teacher resources at school.  BUT, I want to know what tools you have at home that you absolutely can’t live with out!  Because we all know, despite popular opinion, that a teacher’s workday doesn’t end when we leave school…we keep working, many of us for hours. 

So, what tools do you depend on while you’re at home to create for your classroom?  What tools do you use  to create your own products?  To make other teachers drool with envy?  What tools make your life easier when you’re “not working” at home?

Think for a second what tools you’ve invested in that make creating easier and fancier…it may be something as simple as a printer, a glue gun, a really awesome teacher bag or maybe something fancier like a special software, crafty tool or Silhouette or maybe a never-ending supply of caffeine (like my tea collection)!

Here is what to do:
*Copy the picture at the beginning of the post/or grab the code and include this in your post*
*Link back to this post*
*Share at least 3 totally terrific tools you depend on.  Share why you depend on them and why other teachers might want to invest.  Include pictures of the tool if you can and maybe projects you’ve created with it.*
*Share at least 1 teacher tool on your teacher wish list – something you know would change your teacher game*

Totally Terrific Teacher Tools I Own
1.  My printer/scanner/copier.  We went for ages with no printer at home.  I got this as a birthday present, and it’s made such a huge difference.  Probably 99% of you have had a printer for years, so I don’t need to explain how amazing it is to have one.  Only down side, this is just a black & white printer…I love that it scans, you wouldn’t believe how often it comes in handy to scan things.  Mine is the Brother brand and works perfectly - even prints double sided!
2.  My Silhouette – that I haven’t used yet, but am absolutely sure will change how I create at home!  If you have any pointers or tips, please share!  If you’ve created a Pinterest board, be sure to leave a comment!  I have a lot to learn. 
Even Ellie is excited!
3.  My teacher bag!  I know this seems lame, but this Thirty-One bag has helped me keep my super disorganized self, semi-organized.  This bag really helped me get my act together!  Plus everyone loves it – even the cats!
4.  A scotch laminator.  I can’t technically write “my” before this tool, because a special family member lends this to me when I need it.  I was doubtful after buying the laminating sheets. They seem so thin, but once they go through the laminator…holy moly they rock!   I’ve heard you can get the laminating sheets cheap at Costco… This little laminator puts to shame the laminator we have at school and I’ll have to make sure to control myself and only laminate things I really want to last.

Totally Terrific Teacher Tools on My Wish List
1.  A color printer.  I love my printer/scanner/copier, but oh how I long for a color printer!  If you have a color printer, share what brand you have.  Is it crazy expensive to refill the cartridges?  Any recommendations?  Our school’s color printers are notoriously lacking ink.

2.  I'm dying for a Thistle Girl Designs membership.  I just don't know if it's worth it...

I wish I had more amazing tools to share, but I’m still new to the creating at home game.  I’m dying to see what you all use to create all the amazing things I've seen on your blogs.

Thanks for linking up!

Mrs. Castro
If you like what you see – please follow me!

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Monday, July 23, 2012

*UPDATED* Bilingual Daily 5 Freebie and my first Monday Made It

Finally I’m going to be a part of the “Monday Made It” brought to you by 4th Grade Frolics! 

I’ve been working on a Daily 5 freebie for all my dual language or bilingual teacher friends.  I find so many great freebies in English, but there isn’t a lot of Daily 5 stuff out there in Spanish.

One of my all time most popular posts is my Anchor Chart post (click here).  There I shared how I manage the Daily 5 in my classroom.  I use a pocket chart and direct students where they are to go.  I know that the Daily 5 is supposed to be about choice, but this worked really well.  My students responded very well to the routine.  So I’ve created some Daily 5 pocket chart cards in Spanish to help you if you manage your Daily 5 this way.

I've also created signs in case you manage the Daily 5 as seen in my previous post (click here).

The freebie has two different Spanish translations of the Daily 5 rotations.  My husband (an Argentine) and I worked on one, and then I saw my friend Krista from The Second Grade Super Kids posted a fun Daily 5 bookmark freebie…so I used her translation as well.  

I've included posters and pocket chart cards that are only visuals – no words, in case you want to keep it simple or want to do your own translation.

Here you go.  Please let me know if you need these translated differently, or a different look – I’ll try my best to help out!  

These can also be downloaded at my TpT store -

Here are 2 other great Spanish Daily 5 resources from fellow bloggers:
The Second Grade Super Kid's Super 5 Book Marks
Multilingual Multiage I-Pick

Crafts aren’t usually my area of strength – but I’ve also finally finished up my teacher tool box!  I painted it Key Lime – using Rust-Oleum spray paint.  I painted my future math work stations shelf the same color.  Key Lime was calling to me this summer!  

I chose some scrapbook paper that I really liked, but in the end it just didn’t work.  It was hard to read the labels and just kind of uninspired.  See below:

Then I bought some BRIGHT NEON scrapbook paper that I think works much better! 

Here you can also see the future home of math work started as a beat up shelf that we had as kids and has sat unused for years in my parents' basement...aren't parent basements great!?!

Then it was key-lime-ified!
Now, it's burried under the mess of my future math work stations that are rather discombobulated at the'll get there, don't worry and I'll have a brilliant photo to share worthy of Pinterest!

Join the Monday Made It madness by clicking below:
Mrs. Castro

P.S. – my mom bought me a Silhouette Cameo – it’s on it’s way now – I think I’ll be walking my parents’ dog for the rest of my life to pay it off – but it’s worth it!
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