Friday, February 28, 2014

The Best 21 Years of My Life!

An amazing thing happened 21 years ago today. My beautiful daughter was born. My life changed in a big way!

I waited a long time to have a child, and she was well worth the wait! I knew I would love being a mom!

When her father left, I decided we needed to take a trip to Disney World.  That was the first year of a long tradition of Disney trips.


When we returned from Disney, My life as a single mom began.  It was never easy, but she was very much worth it!

Who could resist this sweet face?


Year after year, we made our own adventures, just the two of us.

As she got older, she built special friendships and grew into an interesting young lady.

Always a happy girl!  Here she is dancing with other flower girls at her Uncle Dave's wedding.

Enjoying time with family! 

Christmas Karaoke with her grandmother!

Then she developed an interest in theatre, just like her mom.  
Here's her first show, The King and I


But we didn't stop the trips to Disney!

The last year we went to Disney, she was onstage for the American Idol experience... very cool!

We did plenty of shows together.  Here she is as Hodel in Fiddler on the Roof. (I played her mother... Golde!) Yes, she's blonde in this one!

Here we are in Nunsense. She was the novice who wanted to be the first nun-ballerina.  I was Sister Amnesia... who lost her memory when a crucifix fell on her head.

One of her favorite roles:  Anne Frank. (Back to dark hair.)

Later she starred as Roxy in her school's production of Chicago. (Now she's a redhead!)

She was the most beautiful girl at her prom... back to brown hair, of course!

Then graduation!

Where did all those years go?  How did it all happen so fast?

She went of to college in 2011 in the big city.  She absolutely loves it! 

Luckily, she still comes back occasionally to visit her mom in the country.  (This time, I'm the blonde... that didn't last long!)

Or I go to the city to see her. No matter where we are, we always manage to have a great time.  It's been a great 21 years. I just can't believe how fast it's gone. I often wish I could have slowed down those minutes, so I could have enjoyed them longer. But I cherished every minute we had together...

and I always will!




Her first legal drink... shortly after midnight!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Fun Way to Review Basic Information

A Fun Way to Review Basic Information: This is a great end-of-the-year game, with suggestions on how to use it.
If you're not familiar with the game of Scoot, it's time you learned!  It can be played with any type of task card that would have a quick answer.  (There are other awesome types of task cards for skills that require more time and thinking, but that's not what Scoot is about!)  

Brain research suggests that including movement will help the brain function more efficiently. Scoot has the children moving from place to place, which not only gets the brain going, but it makes the whole thing more fun for the kids! Individual cards are placed throughout the classroom, and the children move from spot to spot, performing the task, recording the answer on their answer sheet, then moving onto the next card in the next part of the room when the teacher calls "Scoot"! After much scooting, the children return to their starting spot.

I've used these with small groups and large groups.  Sometimes you can take a few cards, have a handful of kids scoot through those, and save the rest of the cards in the series for another day.

The kids love Scoot! It's a great way to add fun to a review that can be rather mundane, like parts of speech or vowel sounds.  Yet, these things need to be practiced so these skills are strengthened.

A couple of years ago, I spent some time making several sets of Task Cards that are perfect for Scoot playing. I've spent the last couple of days updating these sets.

First of all, there's my forever freebie, in honor of a young man we lost a couple of years ago. See THIS BLOG POST for more information about why this is a forever freebie.

Social Studies Review: Scoot or Task Cards is a collection of questions on mapping and general Social Studies knowledge.  It can be played as a Scoot game, or just individual task cards. I made it to review end of the year second grade skills, but have heard that it's great review for older children as well!  Click the image below to download this freebie.

Another product in this series, Vocabulary Review: Scoot or Task Cards gives the children vocabulary practice and review with prefixes, suffixes, antonyms and synonyms. (Click image for link.)
Mathematics Review: Scoot or Task Cards reviews time, money, place value, measurement, story problems and fact families. (Click image for link.)

Language Review: Scoot or Task Cards practices parts of speech:  nouns, proper nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. (Click image for link.)

Phonics Review: Scoot or Task Cards practice vowel sounds: short vowels, long vowels, r-controlled vowels, and vowel teams. (Click image for link.)

Science Review: Scoot or Task Cards reviews all sorts of beginning science concepts: five senses, basic biology, chemistry, astronomy, plants, and weather.

Combined Word Work Review: Scoot or Task Cards is a bundled set with the Language, Vocabulary, and Phonics sets. I use these all the time for my Literacy RTI groups! I sometimes play Scoot with a small group, using only a few cards at a time, then going over the cards in a group discussion.  

Finally, I have a set that bundles all 6 sets!  Combined Review- Word Work, Math, Science and Social Studies: Scoot or Task Cards gives you weeks worth of review activities for all subjects! This is a fun way to spend those last few weeks when the children just can't sit still and have lost their attention spans!



Sunday, February 23, 2014

One of Patricia Polacco's Finest


I'm on vacation! Boy, this last week before vacation was a whopper, but somehow I survived!

Not only were these little guys totally due for vacation, but there were lots of complications that made it even more challenging:  snow days, blizzard bag days (See THIS post), making up Valentine's Day, early dismissal due to more snow, the Invention Convention, an assembly, and Spirit week! The kids brains were so fried they really couldn't pay attention to anything, but somehow we managed to get through the week.  

One of the things I managed to accomplish was reading my favorite Patricia Polacco book:  For the Love of Autumn. I had originally planned to read it for Valentine's Day, since young children can relate to the love of a kitten. Since we had a snow day on Valentine's Day, we read it this week.  It actually took all week, due to so many interruptions!

Friday's spirit day was "Dress Like a Fictional Character Day". Since things were so crazy busy, I didn't plan a costume ahead like I'd prefer, so at the last minute I was trying to think of something I could do.

I thought of the book I was reading to the class.  The main character is a schoolteacher who loves her students, loves her cat, and loves gardening.  Done!

I dressed like the teacher in the book, even with a scarf on my head, like many of Patricia Polacco's characters.

I couldn't actually bring my cat, Mia, but I tucked a beanie baby cat into my pocket.
Mia is not very photogenic, but she's loved!
I dug into my garage and found some gardening gloves and a trowel.  I put the trowel into my back pocket for the day.  (Which made sitting a challenge, but one must make sacrifices for the kids!)

I got plenty of compliments about my costume, but no one actually knew the book! 

If you click the image below, you'll find a link to Amazon to find out more about the story. 


This story is very much what I love about Patricia Polacco: she knows people-especially kids, she knows and loves cats, and she has an amazing heart. Her books are such great mentor texts for young readers and writers! They are great for modeling openings, closings, visualization, prediction, and showing feelings in text. I've never read any of her books that didn't warm my heart!

I follow Patricia Polacco's page on facebook.  (Just google her name and follow!) She posts a lot of pictures from her books, meaningful quotes, and plenty of adorable pictures of her new grandson!  As I see what she posts, it's clear why I love her books so much!

I'm linking up with Paula's Place and her Storybook Sunday linky party! 
Click the link below to see more great children's books!


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Scoreboard!


Where would I be without my scoreboard?  

If you're familiar with Whole Brain Teaching, you know exactly what the scoreboard is, and why it is so important!  Although I certainly have a lot to learn about Whole Brain Teaching, I've been using the scoreboard for a few years now, and know I couldn't survive without it!

Lately, my students have been rather rambunctious.  Between snow days and early dismissals, and Invention Convention, and just being totally due for vacation (starts this Friday), these little guys are really struggling to stay focused and get anything done at all. 

How do I keep them going?  The scoreboard!

Here's how it works.  If the children do something that makes the teacher happy, the teacher puts a tally on the happy side.  If the children do something that make the teacher sad, a tally goes on the sad side. This is all "whole group" behavior. (Individual issues are on the classroom clip chart.)  If the children are engaged during a lesson, they get a happy tally. If the noise level is too much, a sad tally. If I see cooperation, a happy tally.  If I see fooling around during work time, a sad tally.

Interesting, when the kids are as antsy as they've been this week, that's when the scoreboard is busiest!  As I write each tally, I tell what they did to earn it, and the children do a celebratory "one second party" or a disappointed "mighty groan".

Of course, all those tallies need to add up to something!  Well, each day that "happy" beats "sad", I add 5 minutes.  After they've earned enough time, they can spend those minutes on an activity of their choice.  They might work for painting time:

Block time:

or perhaps a seasonal craft!

 To learn more about the scoreboard and Whole Brain Learning, click HERE. You can also click the image below to find out more about their book!  (I'm ready to read this book during vacation, when I'll have time!)


By the way, the personalized white board I use for the scoreboard was purchased from LoveyDovey Creations. (I won a gift certificate at the Bloggers- Meet up in Vegas last July!)

For the upcoming Invention Convention, one of my students is creating a scoreboard that teachers won't keep leaving on the opposite side of the classroom, that we'll be able to attach to our waists!

Don't you love kids?

Friday, February 14, 2014

I Can't Stand Winter Anymore!

We had another snow day today, and it wasn't a Blizzard Bag Day.
(See THIS POST if you're curious about the Blizzard Bag Day.)

Years ago, before I was a mom, whenever we reached this point in the winter, I'd have a summer party. I'd turn the heat up in the house, encourage guests to wear shorts and flip flops, decorate the house with beach towels, buckets, shovels, and play a lot of Beach Boys music. (We also might have had some beverages with umbrellas!) It never made the snow go away, but it would always lift our spirits and help us get through the rest of the winter.

A few years ago, we had one of "these" winters, and I could see that the kids were getting to that point... so we took a virtual trip to Mexico!

We actually got into an imaginary plane, took flight, and ended up in sunny Mexico!  The kids are so imaginative, and so are the parents!  The children would talk about how hot they were, and parents would send in Mexican treats for snacks!  

It may be time to bring back Sunny Mexico.  Or at least pretend it's summer!

Are you (and your students) as sick of winter as I am?
You're welcome to join me in starting summer a bit early!

Here are a few of my warm weather items for sale: (Click the images for the links!)






There is even more on sale, just stop of my Teachers Pay Teachers store and see!

Of course, I couldn't help but offer a freebie as well!  
Here's a Seashore Themed Paper freebie to help warm you up!



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