Gift Card Wallet Giveaway

Did you see yesterday’s post about the gift card mini wallet? If you did, I am sure you were thinking about how you could get your hands on one of these little beauties. Well, it’s your lucky day. I will be giving away one gift card wallet that includes a $10 mystery gift card! (Reminder– I am earning a teacher’s salary and have not hit the mother load with any sponsors yet.)

Your name will be entered in the drawing every time you like posts during the contest week, leave a comment to a post during the contest week, follow theroommom, like my Facebook page, follow me on Pinterest, and/or follow me on Twitter. Based on the overwhelming response to my first giveaway, if you do just two of these things, your odds of winning are quite high. U.S. addresses only, please.

Contest ends Sunday, Oct. 7 at noon (EST).

Click on the links above, below, or in the sidebar


Gift Card Wallet

Have you ever seen a teacher without a teacher bag? I haven’t. In my case, I have a giant teacher bag with a reinforced bottom. It can hold a grade book, file folders, sets of papers, and a binder or two. My big ‘ol teacher bag does not have room for my purse, and I do not want to lug around an extra piece of luggage to school every day. Instead, I keep my debit card, driver’s license, and maybe a few dollars in a small wallet that can be moved easily from my teacher bag to my regular purse as needed. Most teachers I know have a similar “mini wallet” system.

I needed a small birthday gift for a co-teacher at my school, so I decided to fill a mini wallet with a gift card. My birthday buddy can use this little sirsee as her “teacher bag wallet” after spending the gift card. If you are planning on giving a gift card to a teacher this year, step it up a little and enclose the gift card in a cute little wallet-y coin purse type bag. It will be the gift that keeps on giving! Plus, it meets the generic but personal criteria for teacher gifts.

The Wallet: I found these sewing cards by Valori Wells that have easy patterns. I used the Little Wallet pattern card. If you have two fat squares of coordinating fabric, you can make two to three wallets. I sewed a snap to the inside, but a button or other embellishment can be added to the outside of the flap for looks. The finished wallet has three pockets.


  • Gift card holder
  • “Go” wallet that transfers between purses and work bags
  • Grocery (and all other stores) loyalty card holder
  • Sandwich and frozen yogurt shop punch card holder

Gift Card Ideas: Some gift cards work better in $5 or $10 increments. Here are my suggestions. What am I missing?

  • Starbuck’s (or other local coffee shop)
  • Barnes and Noble (or other book store)
  • Nail salon
  • Gas station or grocery store (not very sexy but useful)
  • Sandwich shop (particularly one that is close to the school)
  • Movie theatre (include enough $ to buy 2 tickets)

Kindergarten Snack Debut

Dill Dip with Snyder’s Pretzel Snaps and mini carrots. Recipe below.

This week is our first turn at kindergarten snack. Every student is assigned one day to bring a snack, and it rotates alphabetically. We will probably end up with snack duty about once a month. Any guesses as to how long I have been planning our debut kindergarten snack? Yep, that’s right. The day we got the snack calendar at kindergarten orientation back in August.

I have been envisioning mini servings of some sort of kid friendly dip with a few dipping choices. Kindergarteners eat lunch at 10:10 (am!) and are starving at snack time around noon (real lunchtime). I wanted to send something slightly substantial. My daughter, Miss Priss, squashed my dip idea after seeing the finished product. Apparently, it was too fancy!

Well, I don’t do not-fancy very well, but I also do not want to rock Miss Priss’ kindergarten boat. So, I sent in special snack to my daughter’s teachers; I sent in special snack to the teachers at the school where I work; I sent dill dip in my daughter’s lunch because it is her favorite, and I bought three boxes of chewy granola bars for the class. Should I tell my daughter about the ghoulish granola mix I have planned for October’s snack or just spring it on her at the last minute?


  • 2 c. sour cream
  • 2 c. mayonnaise
  • 3 T. chopped fresh dill
  • 3 T. chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 2 T. grated onion
  • 1 T. seasoned salt


  • Combine ingredients and chill at least one hour or overnight.
  • Serve with raw vegetables, pita chips, pretzels, etc.

School Business

About a week ago, my students started reading The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies as a novel study in class. I love teaching this book. Not only do the boys like it as much as the girls, but it is funny and has great practical information about money and starting a business. When the students finish reading the book, about half reach for the sequel, The Lemonade Crime by Davies. If The Lemonade Crime is checked out of the library, there are many other book recommendations (see list below) that portray a main character who gets things going. The characters might run a business, be the leader of a project, or become responsible for something significant.

This type of storyline promotes creativity and an entrepreneurial spirit. Many of these books teach students about the basics of business (profit, loss, partnership, etc.). I also like the fact that these books depict children as problem-solvers without a parent or adult handing them the easy solution. Although, there is usually a supportive adult somewhere in the story. What are your best “independent kid” books? I know I am missing some good ones.

Chapter Books

  • The Bread Winner by Arvella Whitmore
  • Crunch by Leslie Connor
  • The Secret School by Avi
  • Lunch Money by Andrew Clements
  • School Story by Andrew Clements
  • Hotel for Dogs by Lois Duncan
  • Tarantula Shoes by Tom Birdseye
  • Lawn Boy and Lawn Boy Returns by Gary Paulsen
  • Henry and the Paper Route by Beverly Cleary
  • Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce
  • The Baby-Sitters Club series by Ann M. Martin
  • The Toothpaste Millionaire by Jean Merrill

Picture Books

  • A Bargain for Frances by Russell Hoban
  • The Gardener by Sarah Stewart
  • The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
  • Sheep in a Shop by Nancy Shaw
  • Alexander, Who Used To Be Rich Last Sunday by Judith Viorst


  • The Day-Glo Brothers by Chris Barton
  • Everyone Wears His Name: A Biography of Levi Strauss by Sondra Henry
  • Model T: How Henry Ford Built a Legend by David Weitzman
  • Chocolate by Hershey: A Story About Milton S. Hershey by Betty Burford
  • Kidpreneurs, Young Entrepeneurs with Big Ideas by Adam Toren and Matthew Toren
  • Growing Money: A Complete Investing Guide for Kids by Gail Karlitz and Debbie Honig

Ranking Words

I have several pet projects in my fourth grade class and expanding vocabulary is one of them. To me, acquiring new words can be like a puzzle. If students learn some Greek and Latin roots and prefixes, they can begin to mix and match and gain access to a whole cluster of words rather than memorizing one definition. If students play with synonyms and antonyms, they can have a mental thesaurus, so they avoid “boring” words like said or nice.

I am trying a new activity where students rank or qualify words from mild to extreme.

Word Clusters: I created lists of related words, printed them on cardstock, and cut the words into strips. Visit my TeachersPayTeachers store to download the free activity plans.

Word Envelopes: I used white coin envelopes and wrote the common theme or topic on the front. Some topic suggestions are light, heat, cold, hunger, anger, and happiness.

Sorting: My local Lowe’s unknowingly donated a class set of paint chips to me. Students worked in pairs to rank the words in the coin envelopes from mildest to most extreme. Once they finished ranking, they copied their words onto the paint chips in order. They started with the most mild word on the light end of the paint chip and ended with the most extreme word on the darkest portion of the paint chip. The paint chip allowed for six words. Some coin envelopes contained more than six words, so students were supposed to decide which words were less effective and eliminate the extras. WARNING: Some students simply eliminate the unfamiliar words, so they do not have to reach for a dictionary.

The paint chips will be displayed in the classroom, so students can use these while writing.  Parents, if you are working with your child on a writing assignment at home and notice overused words, create a word rank chart. This is particularly helpful with said. Create a list of variations for said and rank them– whispered, murmured, squeaked, announced, screeched, screamed… Try it with very too!

Extensions: This activity can be used to build analogies. You can also skip the step where you provide the main topic on the front of the envelope and ask students to create a heading for the words in the envelope. All of these activities require critical thinking on the part of the child.

ranking words ring