Frequently Asked Questions



Q: How do you make all of your products? What do you use? 
A: I use Power Point to create EVERYTHING!!!! I’ve used it for the last 10ish years exclusively. I don’t think I’d know how to use Word if I tried! HA! Honestly, it just seems so much more user friendly to me. Also, I'm using a PC…a Sony Vaio laptop to be exact. I know many other bloggers who use Publisher, Word, and Illustrator, but Power Point is the easiest for me :) 

Q: How long does it take you to create your units? 
A: It just depends. Typically, anywhere from 30-40 hours...not consecutively, of course ;) Everything I create is used in my classroom and I typically don’t add it to the shop unless it’s successful in my classroom, first. Since it takes so long to cross my t’s and dot my i’s, the number of items in my little shop is very limited! 

Q: How do you "license" or whatever you do to be able to use copyrighted graphics on your work? 
A: If you plan on selling your materials, ALWAYS make sure you read the TOU!! And read them carefully! Many graphic designers/font makers will specifically state in their TOU if their work is intended for commercial/non-commercial use. Some graphic designers/font makers require you to purchase a license if you are using their materials for products you plan on selling. The cost and terms vary by designer and can usually be purchased directly from the website. When in doubt, contact the designer!! Don’t just assume it’s okay to use something if you can’t find the answer you’re looking for!!! Always check TpT first…there are some great graphic designers/font makers who sell on TpT and their TOU are VERY commercial friendly :) I stay away from ANY and ALL clipart that is trademarked {Dr. Seuss, Disney, etc.} 

Q: Where do you get all your fonts? 
A: I get my fonts from Kevin & Amanda, Font Squirrel, Michelle Oakes, Kimberly Geswein, and Jen Jones. I also use my own fonts in a lot of my products, too! You can always get fonts from dafont.com, but they’re not all created for commercial use! You have to read the fine print!! 

Q: How do you make your fonts? 
A: I’m no pro, but I use iFontmaker on my iPad :)

Q: I laugh every time I use your fonts. Where do you come up with the names?
A: Hahahaha. They make me laugh, too! All of the font names are inside jokes, things I say WAY too much, and quotes from my friends :)

Q: Where do you get your clipart? 
A: I get all my clipart on TpT…the graphic designers have VERY friendly TOU!! Here are some of my favorite clipart shops: Scrappin Doodles {not on TpT}, Melonheadz, KPM Doodles {not on TpT}, Ashley Hughes, Krista Wallden, Kari Bolt, Little Red's Schoolhouse, Fancy Dog Studio, and Graphics from the Pond. Etsy has some great clipart as well, but again…read the TOU!!! 

 Q: Clearly, you don't have a life. You must not because NO ONE has time for all of this. When do you find the time for everything? 
A: I don’t feel like I do!!! Just remember that when you’re reading this blog, you’re seeing the *highlight reel*. I know it seems like I get a lot done…and sometimes I really do!…but I honestly don’t always find the time!!!! I've gotten really good at time management the last few years, but it's still a work in progress :) I do what I can when I can and God takes care of the rest :) 

Q: How do you balance home and school? Do you go in early? Stay late at night?
A: Is there really a way to balance?! HA! Seriously though…I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my *job*, but my family will always come first. I have to know that if I didn’t get a chance to finish preparing for the next day, then I just leave it be. IT WILL GET DONE. Sometimes I get to school early, but most times I’m doing good just to get there on time. I do stay late…probably ‘til about 5ish…and then that’s that. Being with my boys is my top priority, so whatever I don’t finish gets left behind…until the next day. I make the most of my breaks…planning/lunch…sometimes I stay in my room for lunch and work on things that need to get done.. *Sometimes* I bring things home and work on them when the boys go to bed, but I really love spending time with Mr. Spouse so that doesn't happen too often. I am definitely a night owl and I usually don’t go to bed ‘til anywhere between 11-12 during the school year. If something NEEDS to get done, I’ll find a way to do it! There’s definitely a fine line you walk trying to keep a balance between home and school, but you have to know where to draw that line! Family comes first and I don’t want to miss any memories!!!! 

Q: How do you stay organized? How do you organize all your units/TpT stuff? 
A: If anyone who knows me well is reading this, they’re LAUGHING right now because I am SO not organized. Well…it doesn’t look like I am anyway. I like to call it organized chaos. I think that’s my ADD ;) I write EVERYTHING down, so that helps. I also keep a running to-do list at ALL times!!! I organize all my center/station activities into those big 9x12 tabbed envelopes and/or gallon sized ziplock baggies and store them in my filing cabinets and/or monthly drawers. Everytime I file an activity, I write it down in my “Activity Binder” so that I know exactly WHO created the resource and where I can find it…works great for planning purposes!!! I organize all my thematic ideas/printables/templates/tracers into labeled file folders in a separate filing cabinet. I keep all of my TpT units {packets} stored on Dropbox & Carbonite so that I’m not wasting precious ink :)


Q: What kind of camera do you use? 
A: I shoot with a Nikon D700 {IN.LOVE} and also have a Nikon D90 {also in love}. The D700 is a full frame camera and the D90 is a crop sensor. If you’re just looking for a DSLR to take better pictures than your regular ol’ point & shoot, you’ll want a crop sensor…you won’t need to go full frame. I’m 100% a Nikon girl, but both Canon & Nikon make EXCELLENT cameras. I would HIGHLY suggest you visit your local camera shop and hold BOTH in your hands. Sometimes one just *feels* better than another. Most DSLRs come with a kit lens {typically an 18-55mm lens}. I would suggest adding a prime{fixed} lens to your shopping cart OR just buying the camera body{no kit lens} and a lens. I LOVE my 50mm 1.4 {amazing prime lens!!!}. The 35mm 1.8 {prime} is also amazing and if you want something that zooms, go for the Tamron 28-75mm…super versatile & produces some pretty fantastic images. Instead of pulling your camera out of the box and just turning it on Auto, I *HIGHLY* recommend learning how to shoot in manual!!!! It’s a definite learning curve, but I’ve been shooting manual for 4 years now and the quality of my pictures are SO much better!!! I can’t imagine going back to auto! 

Q: What photo software to you use with your camera? 
A: I use Photoshop CS5 and Lightroom 3 to do ALL of my editing. Basic adjustments in Lightroom then I export to CS5 for bigger edits. If you don't have access to this software, I think there might be some good alternatives online!






Have a question?!  Leave a comment!

70 comments:

  1. Cara, you are so kind to share your expertise so generously. :) Love your new design, too!

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  2. Cara,
    I love your new design! Beautiful!! Just like all that you do! My teacher friends and I love you and are so thankful for all of your ideas and creations!

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  3. Hi! Is there somewhere I can get a high quality copy of your No Peanuts Please Sign please? It is hands down the BEST sign I've seen and I would love to use it! Thanks!

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  4. Cara how did you attach the table cloth to your guided reading table??? I love that Idea!!!

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    1. I used hot glue :) And Velcro :) Works like a charm!!

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  5. LOVE all your tips! Very fun to read! Love all your stuff! Thank you for sharing your ideas and your talent!

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  6. The pictures in your visual lesson plans aren't "clickable." I would love to link directly to the activity (and possibly purchase) after seeing how you have it laid out in your plans!!!! Thanks for sharing! What do the other kids do during your reading "half group" time???

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    1. They are clickable, you just have to download the PDF to access the clickable links. They won't "click" in Drive :)

      During half group, my kids rotate through literacy stations and desserts. While they're independently working on literacy objectives at their stations, I pull my flexible guided reading groups :)

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  7. What program do you use for your visual plans?? I love how user friendly they are!!

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  8. Did you make your blog design/header yourself? I love it!
    Nicole
    One, Two, Three: Math Time

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  9. This is my first year teaching first grade and your blog has saved me!! I literally have spent so much time reading your ideas. I love your blog and hope that I can start my own someday. I taught K and second for two years each but I have moved schools twice. Currently I'm teaching at a private school in NYC with only one other teacher who doesn't want to plan or share ideas. I can teach whatever I want (try to follow common core) but the curriculum is very flexible at this new school. Any advice on how to plan ahead? I feel like i'm going day by day because I don't know exactly what I'm doing since I"m new to first grade. Thanks for your help.

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  10. Hi!
    My name is Brigitte and I teach first grade in Montreal, Québec. I teach and speak french so excuse if my english is not perfect!! I want to say that I really like your blog and also that I really really really like when you post your weekly planing... It's my second year in first grade and also my first year doing guided reading. I am the only teacher that I know who does guided reading. It is not popular up here. Anyway, if you don't mind, I would like to see more of you planing, you have such good ideas! Have a good day!
    Brigitte

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  11. While looking through your site a year or so ago, I came across a wonderful quote that summed up your teaching philosophy - at least, I think (and hope) it was your site! I believe it was on your "About Me" type of page. I have not been able to find it again. Would you happen to know what quote I am talking about? I told my principal about it and wanted her to read it to our faculty/staff. It was the best! Thanks! Lanie

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  13. Hi Cara! I love your blog and products. You are one of my defaults to check out ideas and products. I have bought a few things from your store and have been very happy with them. I also have a blog and am considering to switching to Wordpress. Is there a reason you stay with blogspot with both your blogs? I'm just doing some research right now and was curious. Sue at betwixthomeandschool.blogspot.com

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  14. Hi! I just found your blog and I am loving it! I am graduating in December with my elementary and special education degree and cannot wait to start my classroom! You have my ideal classroom! This may be a silly question but I love that all of your bins and storage containers are color coordinated and matching! Where do you get all of your adorable containers/bins?? I have been looking everywhere for ones just like yours!

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  15. Do you have the template for the turkey in the Great Turkey race?
    It is too cute!!!
    Thanks!
    robbinmichaels@gmail.com

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    1. I will add that as a free download on my blog in October!

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  16. How much time do you take to make this website. I also use Blogspot and mine isnt as good as yours. Not like any of my websites are......

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  17. i am new to this site and i posted something yesterday and today when i logged on here today its not letting me make another post when i go to compose another post it wont let me type anything in the box and when i type in my blogspot address it says its not available. PLEASE HELP OUT OUR CLASSROOM so we may continue to use your site to blog.

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  18. Cara, I'm hoping that you can send me the template for the turkey in the Great Turkey Race. Please send to colleen.puttin@bps101.net. Thanks so much!

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  19. Hi. Where did you get the pink and green baskets with the white handles on them ?

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  20. Hi. Where did you get the pink and green baskets with the white handles on them ?

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  21. Thank you so much for sharing! You have inspired me and have put the spark back in my teaching:) Your graphics help the "tech challenged" like me. Don't worry, if you write, I'll read it:)

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  22. Hi Cara! I have followed you for a few years and you NEVER cease to amaze me! Very impressive work, little lady!! A WHILE back you had posted about a yearly planner that you had ordered from some company....(very descriptive, I know!) Wondering if you remember where that was from. It was a spendy one, but very complete! Am looking for a gift for a teacher friend/new mom, and would appreciate any info. Thanks!

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  23. Hi Cara! I love your first day of Kindergarten lesson plans. Would you please share via TPT (paid or free)? Thanks!

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  24. I would love to see your plans through out the year...paid or free. I love seeing the visual plans but they stop in the fall.

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  25. I was wondering what resource you use to teach word work and phonics in your classroom?? I am a first year, first grade teacher and my school has NO phonics curriculum except our state standards. They're not in any particular order that make sense for the kiddos, so your blog has been my life saver with games, worksheets, etc!!! I would love some time of master guideline if you have one. You are so fabulous!!

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  26. Hi Cara, I am new to your blog and LOVE it. I am also new to teaching (I start my first teaching position next fall!) I was wondering what your "Math and Literacy Tubs" are and how you use them in your classroom. What does it look like? I noticed they were on all of your lesson plans, but I wasn't sure how that worked in your classroom. Thank you so much for your blog-- as a new teacher I am finding your wisdom and experiences so helpful!

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  27. Hello, Cara
    I am almost finished with my journey to become a teacher and one of our final assignments is to create a teacher webpage/ blog that we will use in the future. I Love your blog, but must admit I am not technically inclined. I was wondering if you had any advice on this subject?
    Thank you!

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  28. Hi Cara,
    First of all, I LOVE your blog! You seem to enjoy everything you so and have a sweetness about you that makes me smile! Now, I have a mystery to solve. I have your CCYouAreSoSmart font on my computer and I am trying to find out how I was lucky enough to get it. I don't seem to have any of your other fonts. Did you offer it as a freebie once? I really like using it in things that I create and I want to make sure that I can use it and also give you credit for it. Let me know what I need to do.

    Thanks so much!

    Janet Black aka. KoalaKdgTeacher

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  29. Where did you get your polka dot calendar poster (in the classroom pic.)?

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  30. Loved your House Hunters episode. I teach kinder in Paris, TX. Do you mind sharing your 'Hallway Chant' that you introduce on the first day? I'd surely appreciate it.

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    1. That episode was AWFULLY EMBARRASSING!!!!! No more tv for us ;) My favorite hallway chant goes like this... "Magic finger in the air. Magic finger in my hair. Magic finger on my hips. Magic finger on my lips...SHHHHH!!!! Don't let it slip!"
      Just hold one finger up in the air...then twirl it in your hair...then put it on your hips....then on your lips. The kids LOVE it!!!!

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  31. Hi Cara!
    I'm dying to know where you got those neon colored baskets for the books in your library! I'm getting new book shelves delivered from a Donor's Choose project and those would be perfect!
    Thanks!

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    1. The blue and green book baskets in my library were from The Dollar Tree!!!!!!

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  32. Hi Cara!

    LOVE your blog! I would LOVE to know- do you create your anchor charts prior to meeting with the students or do you hand draw it with them? IF so, WOW! BEAUTIFUL talent! I want to incorporate more anchor charts in the classroom but unsure how to go about it. (LOVE LOVE LOVE yours!)

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    1. I typically create my anchor charts WITH my kids so that it makes more of an impact on them and I feel they really need to be part of that process so that they are more apt to use those anchor charts independently as learning resources. Thank you for your sweet comment!!!

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  33. I love your blog and items on TPT! I was wondering where you bought all your colored plastic bins?

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  34. Cara,

    I am getting my masters in Teaching and Learning with Technology and had to create a blog. Frozen in First is the name of my blog. I know that you say above how you create your stuff but I was wanting more of an idea of the whole process. My email is nicolevz1981@gmail.com if you can help me out. Thanks. :)

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  35. Hi Cara! Where did you get your black calendar? Love it!

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    1. I got that from Mardel's last year, but I can't remember who makes it?!?! SO sorry!! My favorite calendar EVER!

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  36. Hi Cara! I was wondering how you "lock" your creations in PowerPoint., or do you convert to something else? Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks for all of your tips and craftiness :)

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    1. I save everything as a PDF and then secure the PDF in Adobe Pro! It's definitely worth the investment and piece of mind :) Hope this helps!

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  37. Do you have a template for the scientists each kid made? I'd love it! Thanks!
    Jonezy10@yahoo.com

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  38. Do you have the Frankenline available anywhere? Thank you.

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  39. looking for you pumpkin template that your kiddos wrote on about pumpkins?

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  40. I found your blog and TPT site while both of us were in First Grade! You do so much that fits in with my style! You can't imagine what a panic I was in 3 weeks ago when I found out I was being moved to Kindergarten after starting school in first!! But I shouldn't have panicked.....but I found that you were now in Kindergarten!! YEA!! I've been downloading all sorts of wonderful kindy ideas!! Thanks to your great blog and packets, I'm now on my way to organization and I'm ready to start Guided Reading groups ..... again!! And...I'm loving kindergarten!

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  41. Thank you for all your amazing ideas!!!
    You do fantastic work with your kiddos...I LOVE your Frankenline and would like to know where may I purchase it? I would like to use it with my little munchkins☺
    Thank you for all your help
    lourdes.taveras-rodriguez@palmbeachschools.org

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  42. Hello Cara,

    I was wondering what is your homework policy?

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  44. Hi Cara, mind if I ask who designed your beautiful blog?

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  45. Do you still have the skip counting turkey activity?

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  46. I would love a copy of the Turkey Skip Counting! With thanks!
    Cheryl
    www.musicmovesmyclassroom@yahoo.com!

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  47. Cara,
    Is there a pattern to buy on TPT for your turkeys and writing page Talk Turkey? I love them!!! Please share.
    Susan Bratcher
    Owensboro, KY
    Kindergarten Teacher

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  48. Hi Cara,
    I am a freelance writer and am in the process of submitting a writing sample to Scholastic Instructor magazine. May I feature your cause/effect Earth Day idea? I will mention your name in the piece. Thank you,
    Rachel Bailey

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  49. I am trying to start up my own blog. I love your layout and design on your blog. How did you do all of that?!

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  50. Hello! I am your newest follower! I was wondering how to to be invited to pin on Top Teacher Smorgesboard. It is my favorite Pinterest board! Thank you!

    kristinvercammen@hotmail.com
    Teachers Features

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  51. Hi Cara! I was wondering how you attached your teacher table skirt? I tried it last year, but I couldn't get my fabric to stay put! Thanks!

    Blessing

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  52. Hi, I was hoping to get the word wall alphabet header cards (the ones with pictures) in a larger version. ...thank you so much!

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  53. Hi, Can you explain how you do your planning? How far in advance do you plan? Do you plan one month at a time? Weekly Plan? Are their specific days you plan for different things? Would love some more info about this. Thanks!

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  54. What Guided Reading program do you follow?

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  55. Thank you so much fro all the resources that you make available for the rest of us teachers. Your work is marvelous and top notch. After looking through so many of your math resources especially the coins I am wondering what math program you use? Do you have a scope and sequence for math in first great that you use.

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  56. Hello! I love purchasing your products!! I was wondering where I could find all your back to school stuff like your "We are going to have a ball, forms for back to school and the ice breakers? Thanks!

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  57. Is your meet the teacher in an editable version? Thanks

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  58. Cara, I am a first year 1st grade teacher and loving your page for ideas. I have a celebrity of the week wall and was looking at your Celebrity of the week printout, I love it but the link isn't working for me to get the printable version could you help? Thanks!

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