TESTO Presto!

It's that time of year again, and aren't we all trying to find ways to make test prep a little easier? A few years ago I started creating a class "TESTO" board. 

As I review class data, I pick out the areas that we still need to work on and review. I make a list of those skills and then sketch out a Bingo board. I also think about some simple, inexpensive class rewards that the students earn each time they earn a Bingo.

Then I create the test board on chart paper. I measure it out and draft it in pencil. The first one I made, I didn't leave room to write the rewards along the side and bottom, so I had to start over! So, be sure to leave room if you choose to try this in your class. 

I try to have all of my test prep materials ready to go, so most of the time I let the kids pick which square they would like to earn that day. If there is something specific I want to cover that day, the kids know that I can make that call. Or, sometimes I give them a choice of a few and they can pick from those. I usually cover the squares they earn with a post-it note. 

In order for my students to earn the Bingo square, they have to try their best and participate. They are always very motivated to earn a "Testo" reward, so they are model students! 

The only two rewards I have on the chart that I have to purchase are gum and a class snack (I have a tub of animal crackers I use). The rest are all free. 

The nice thing about the "TESTO" board is that you can personalize it with the skills your class needs to work on and the rewards that motivate your class. 

I hope this is something you can use and have fun with, that might make test prep a little more interesting for your kiddos. 


March Currently

I  am excited to feature my first Currently post. I know March is almost over, but I couldn't wait until April... 

Can you figure out my "Secret Question"?

What are you loving right now?


Getting to Know You... Liebster Award!

A big thanks to Jenn at: 
for nominating me for the Liebster Award. What a fun way to get to know a little about each other. There are several steps involved...

Step one: I have to answer the 11 questions that Jenn had for me.
1. Which of your blog posts is your favorite?
I don't have very many posts so far, but while Megan was designing my new blog I put a lot of thought into what I wanted to write about first and the choice was really easy... READ ALOUD in my classroom. It really is my favorite time during our school day. So that post is definitely my favorite.

2.  What is the best thing you have ever invested in for your classroom?
My classroom easel. It was made for me by my dad and I use it everyday. I love to make anchor charts (with my second favorite thing... Mr. Sketch smelly markers!). 

3. What do you have to have to make it through the day?
Easy... Diet Dr. Pepper! 

4. If you could live anywhere, what location would you choose?
I would have to say Florida- that is where our oldest daughter lives and it would be nice to be near her. We don't get to see her nearly enough!

5. What is your favorite memory from your own school days?
My elementary school's Field Day. I love sports and I always looked forward to the end of the school year Field Day. 

6. Do you plan out blog posts in advance or are they more spontaneous?
So far I haven't posted too many times, but the ones I have written I planned out. 

7. What is your favorite restaurant?
I love Mexican food! I would have to say right now my favorite is Chuy's. I love their jalapeno ranch dip! I could eat it by the bucket with their chips.

8. If you had to leave teaching/education, what would you do instead?
I would love to be a librarian or work at a book store. 

9. Which do you prefer: Pinterest or Facebook?
Pinterest for sure! Facebook is like a foreign language to me.

10. What are you most looking forward to doing over the summer?
Watching loads of softball! This will be my youngest daughter's last summer playing competitive softball before she heads to college to play this fall. We will be playing almost every weekend and traveling for tournaments. 

11. What is the best thing you have ever bought from Teachers Pay Teachers?
Clip art! I am addicted. Some of my favorites are Whimsy Workshop Teaching, Pink Cat Studios, Graphics From the Pond...

Step two: Share 11 random facts about yourself...
1. I am an only child.
2. The only thing I like to write with are felt tipped Flair Pens.
3. My favorite smell is lilac (I love the lilac candles from Bath and Body Works).
4. My husband and I discovered our City Market last summer (after going to Pike Place Market on a trip to Seattle) and we love going early on Saturday mornings.
5. Last summer also was my first trip outside the U.S. We went to Canada for a softball tournament.
6. I teach at the same elementary school that I attended as a child.
7. I am left-handed. My youngest daughter is also left-handed.
8. We have 4 dogs, Stringbean, Daisy, Roxy, and Cupcake. They are all rescues. (Our house can be a little crazy at times!)
9. I love to cook. My mom and my grandma are both great cooks and they are my inspirations!
10. Ice cream is my favorite treat.
11. I love to watch t.v. I don't really watch many movies. I think that the DVR is one of the best inventions ever!

Step three: Present the Liebster Award to 5 new bloggers with less than 200 followers:
Check out these new blogs:

Language Arts Bliss
The Pensive Sloth
Grab My Button

Step four: Write 11 questions for these bloggers to answer in their blog post...
1. What is your favorite children's book?
2. What is your favorite unit/concept to teach?
3. Do you have any pets? If yes, what are they? If no, would you like to have one?
4. Describe your personality using three adjectives.
5. What do you look forward to most about summer?
6. What is your favorite food?
7. Are you a sports fan? Favorite sport? Favorite team?
8. What is the best vacation you have ever taken?
9. Crayons or markers? What is your preference?
10. Who is your favorite actor or actress?
11. What kind of music do you like to listen to?

March "Book" Madness

Any college basketball fans out there? 

We are huge sports fans in my house! My youngest daughter is an athlete and will be headed to college this fall to play softball. 

So, I love to incorporate sports-themed ideas into my classroom any chance I get. I had seen a similar idea on Pinterest and I couldn't wait to try it in my own room. 

In my previous post, I told you about my love of read aloud time in my classroom. I decided to design a "March Book Madness" board that would involve many of the books I have read to my students this year. Every child can vote and participate because they have all heard each of the books. I chose 16 books and then randomly paired them. Some of the first round choices were really hard. You should have heard the comments from my kids when I unveiled the board and they realized they would have to choose which book to vote for, they were so torn!

Each day before we vote, we do a little recap of the book (great for practicing summaries). Then we just do a show of hands to vote and I update the board. I think when we are finished, I will have the kids design a trophy and write a summary of the winning book. 

I have an idea of what might win, but there may be a "Cinderella" that might surprise us all! 

Have a great day,


My Favorite TIme of the Day is...

Read Aloud!

The best time of the day in my classroom is read aloud time. For my class, we have read aloud right after lunch each day. We never skip. It is the time my students look forward to everyday. 

I am sad to say that this didn't used to be the case. It used to be the first thing to go when I would get stressed about curriculum and testing and testing and testing... you get the idea. But now I would never consider bumping it for anything else. 

Here are a few of the reasons why I love read aloud:

1. It builds our classroom community. We all have a shared experience that is tied to our love of the book we are reading. I love the conversations that we have about what we are reading.  I love the shared emotions that we experience as a group when I read to them.

2. I love to share special books from my childhood with my students. They enjoy hearing books that their teacher read when she was a girl. It is a relationship builder.

3. I love to choose books that are part of a series or that introduce them to a new author. This often times causes my students to seek out other books in the series or by that author to read themselves. 

4. Read aloud is great practice for visualizing. I stop at least once a day and ask them if they can "see" the picture/movie in their mind. 

5. It's fun for everyone!

I usually read for about 15 or 20 minutes each day. And it is guaranteed that each day as I finish reading and start to close the book, the chorus of "noooo's!" and groans ring out. (This is always followed by me reading just a page or two more...)

Here are a few of my favorite third grade read alouds!

Bunnicula by Deborah and James Howe
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L.Konigsburg
Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner
Frindle by Andrew Clements
Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

What are some of your favorite read alouds?


Thank you, Megan!

Ok, it's an exciting day for me today! I am so thrilled to unveil my brand new blog, courtesy of Megan at A Bird in Hand Designs. I had made my own feeble attempt at designing my own in early January, but it did not go as I had envisioned. 

So, after browsing through some different designers I found some of Megan's designs and knew I had found the right person to design mine. I am really glad I made the investment to have it designed and now I am ready to blog...

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