Saturday, January 23, 2016

Winter in SoCal Blog Hop and FREEBIE

I'd be lying if I said I didn't want a snowy, white Winter.  I see such heavenly photos of deep blankets of snow covering towns, and I get so envious! But then as I walk out the door in the middle of January in shorts and a shirt, I wonder....I may be so lucky to live somewhere where I can go hang out at the beach all year long.

I feel extremely blessed to live in Southern California my entire life!!!  I grew up in Los Angeles, and moved to San Diego to go to UCSD.  Thankfully, I ended up staying in San Diego because I got married to a San Diego native.

All San Diegans know that one of the greatest times to go to Disneyland is during the Winter. The place is always busy, but it seems just a tad less busy during this time.

My next favorite place to visit during the Winter is the San Diego zoo! The animals are so much more alive because it's not so hot! I love seeing the polar bears play with their water ball! I also never have to wait in line for our koala bears!! Talk about being spoiled!

This year my principal hosted our Holiday party outside, and it was the sweetest event. It definitely wasn't cold, but the chill in the air had people a little bit more cozier than usual. I know this wouldn't have been possible if we lived anywhere other than SoCal.

I feel like my next favorite thing to do in SoCal is a brag. I LOVE to go hiking during this time! You know how you get sweaty when it's the summertime? Well during the Winter, you just get warmed up! 

I even got married in the Winter! When we chose the month of our wedding, we knew we wanted a Winter day because it was cheaper and we still got a sunny day! To see more pictures from the January wedding, click here.

I'm going to end the last being a TPT blogger meetup!

I literally just got back from a meet up in Manhattan Beach, and you wouldn't understand how gorgeous the weather was! 

Winter in Southern California is more like Spring in the East Coast, but I wouldn't have it any other way! What is your Winter like? I would love to know! Let me know below in the comments section.

Now.... onto the juicy Winter freebie you've been waiting for!

Click here to download
This free Winter math fact family resource is great for first graders using Go Math or any Common Core curriculum. This is also great for high Kindergarteners or RTI and small group in 2nd grade. If you are looking for printables or worksheets that would allow your students to practice their math fact families, then this is the perfect resource for you!

This resource consists of the following math concepts:
➤Addition and Subtract Fact Family (2 pages)
➤Addition Facts to 20 (1 page)
➤Subtraction Facts to 20 (1 page)

Thank you for visiting my blog! Don't forget to me on bloglovin to for more fun, rigorous math freebies! Also, you are ALMOST finished with the blog hop! Click below for the next blog! 

Next blog!

Monday, January 18, 2016

How to Take Quality Photos of TPT Products

Tpt creators will let you know that creating a product is not the end all of being successful in the TPT world. It takes a lot of work, dedication, and commitment to serving teachers all around the globe. The resources that are created can be the most beneficial and innovative, but if they are not advertised in the Internet world, then they will not gain any success. Ask any teacherpreneur about the hard work they put in creating AND promoting their products! 

Regardless, the great influx of amazing products created and promoted on a daily basis is drastic! Your own posts might get drowned by others' promotions. This means that you have to try to set yourself apart from the rest! The best way to do this is by taking better photos of your products! 

I've written this quick and easy blogpost featuring Instagram photos of professionals that use the tips that I discuss. You don't need to be a professional photographer, but these tips will set you apart from the crowd with whatever little camera experience you may have! Keep reading to see how you can achieve quality photos of your Teachers Pay Teachers resources for your blog, Instagram, or Pinterest. 

Nowadays almost everyone takes photos with their iPhone. If that is the best you can do, then that is perfectly ok! Simply follow the tips with your iPhone.  If you are able, try to invest in a good DSLR. It does not have to be a new one, but make sure you do your research before you buy something. Getting a DSLR will take out some of the guess work of taking photos and up your photo game.  The quality of images they produce is so much higher than a cell phone or regular camera. Mine is an older model Canon T5 Rebel, and I am in love with it. Check it out here.
You do not need this! Start small! 
Keep it simple. 

Most of our products are white pages. A nice  surface is necessary to make those white pages stand out. It can be any color or texture, but it must look clean. If you do not have a surface that is easy to use or photograph, then you can get poster boards of any color from Walmart or Target. Try to stay away from anything sparkly or shiny, as that might reflect the light too much.  I say stay consistent because you want to be able to take photos whenever you want. If you keep the same one, your photos will be more uniform and professional. People will be able to identify your products just by taking a look at your photos. Take a look at some of these Instagram photos by some of my favorite paper goods designers. 

Notice how the grainy wood gives a great texture to the photo. The dark color looks great with the lighter paper color. The photo below also uses this type of composition. 
Rekers Drees Design  always has a beautiful, textured background to bring her designs to life. 

The best, most vital pins on Instagram are ones that do not have a background but focus on the product that is being photographed. Take a look at some of these Instagram shots. They do a great job at capturing the product without having a messy background. Think of it this way, would you want your audience to look at what's in the background or really focus on what you want them to look at? 

I took this photo of one of my products, and I made sure that the entirety of the photo was my product. 
One of my favorite sellers on TpT, Stacey Lloyd, also does a great job of having a clean background. She focused the entire photo on her product, and it looks great! 

Unless your theme is an all white one, then you should make sure your photographs have some pops of color. Having 2-3 colors on each photo would be the perfect amount. Anything more than that would be excessive and messy looking! Your pops of color can be Pens, pencils, background image, pictures on the product, and teacher related props. These Instagram shots do a great job of including those props and colors. 

Michelle Griffo from Apples and ABCs  makes her products look bright and vibrant with reds and purples.  The white paper also contrasts that wood texture fabulously.  

This designer uses colorful washi tape! I know almost every teacher owns at least one of these! 
When I took this photo, I compared it to the previous photo without the crayons. Without the crayons the page didn't look as inviting. It created a brightening effect! 

The best place to get these items would be at a dollar store or the dollar section at Target. They can be reused in different photos, but make sure to not over use the props. They should also be a very small part of the photos. The gold arrow you see is from the dollar section at Target. 

This tip was one of my favorites that Kristen from Easy Teaching Tools taught me!! Kristen, the Instagram teacher queen, noticed that her most commented/liked photos were angle pics. I decided to give it a try on my own Instagram, and I noticed quite a difference! For this you need to get really up close and personal to your product! Make sure your product is flipped the right way though! Here are some favorites from Kristen. 

To get really technical, you can try the rule of thirds. If you google it you will find a bunch of information on it. If there is need, I can write another blog post on this topic. This professional technique drastically makes photos look so much better! 

The best place to take a photo is in front of a window. Make sure that direct sunlight is not hitting the product, but you have soft like coming in. If you live somewhere sunny like me, San Diego REPRESENT, then you can put a see through curtain. You will get a beautiful soft, natural light that makes photos look so much better! Try to stay away from filters, yellow light, and fluorescent light. 

Here is an example of how your "studio" can look. Your job is so much easier when you have big windows to work with. 

Your product probably has more than 4 pages, unfortunately you can not show it all in one photo. You have to choose 2-4 pages to highlight. What is the main focus of your product? What do you want your audience to take away about your product in just one look at a photo? Include those pages only, and do go overboard with overlapping. 

Here is another nugget of gold from Stacey. You can really only see parts of two pages from her product. It looks clean and makes you desire to see more of the product. 

After reading these tips on taking better photographs for your TPT products, I hope you are walking away more motivated and encouraged to take more professional photos! I encourage you to share with your teacher tribes, and let me know if any of these deem useful! 

Find me on Instagram. I would love to be friends! 

Love you all! 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Featured Teacher Tuesday: Kwendy from Buggy for First

Happy New Year!

It’s Featured Teacher Tuesday!


We’re starting 2016 off by featuring Kendwy Valdez from BuggyForFirst

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Kendwy is a first grade teacher in the state of Massachusetts as well as a wife, mother of two beautiful girls and pastor.  
Kendwy has been teaching first grade for four years.  She started working in an alternative school right out of high school in order to pay for college.  She was a biology major with a pre-med concentration, but 3 months into the school year she realized that what she desperately wanted to do was teach.  So began her journey to obtain her teaching degree even if it meant changing her biology major after 2 ½ years.  Her motto became “I didn’t choose teaching; teaching chose me”.

After many years in education and a burning passion for teaching, this past summer she finally decided to take the plunge and she opened up her TPT store and started her blog at BuggyForFirst.  Her blog is currently undergoing a facelift and will soon look “legit” :)  She is excited for what is ahead for this coming year. You can read about her goals for this year: Plans and Goals for 2016

Kendwy works with a big population of ELLs.  She believes that every student can be successful with the proper supports put in place.  Language should never be a barrier for learning.  As a second language learner herself, she is very aware of the challenges that many of her students face and makes it a priority to bring engaging and high quality instruction to all her students.  She uses the 7 step vocabulary process to teach vocabulary.  You can grab the posters from her store.  They’re a FREEBIE :)

Her most popular product to date have been The Reading Comprehension Passages for ELLs and Beginner Writers.  There are two packets available: The Blends and Digraphs Pack and the Long Vowels Pack.  
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She will be adding an R control and Diphthongs packet soon, so make sure to follow her store to know when it becomes available.

Have you played Scoot! with your students yet?  You have to!  It is so much fun and engaging and the kids are LEARNING! :)

This packet has over 100 pages of fact fluency activities.
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If you don’t already follow Kendwy, you can find her on most social media platforms.

Follow her blog through Bloglovin’.  Her blog will soon have a pretty pizzazz look to it, and she would love to have you join her on her journey.