Thursday, January 31, 2013

Notes of love remind me...

Why I remain a teacher!  With all of the paperwork, meetings, data, conferencing, paper grading, testing, re-testing, behavior managing, planning and stressing, it can be easy to forget the real reason why I became a teacher... TO TEACH KIDS! 
It's all about the inventive, bubbly, imaginative, hilarious, brilliantly observant, curious, brutally honest, encouraging, open-minded, information hungry, sweet, loving, quirky, FANTASTIC KIDS! 
 I got this note on my desk today without a signature, but with a powerful message.  The message reiterates why I became a teacher ... to make a difference, BUT GUESS WHAT?!?!  They are the ones who make a difference, no, make a DIFFERENT ME!  I LOVE TEACHING!

These reminders are when I step back and re-ignite the fire (that can sometimes grow dim), and start teaching with a burning passion again!  I hope your teaching flame burns bright too, and if not ... remember that YOU make a difference to THE CHILDREN! :D

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?

This week we are learning about the Northern & Southern Hemispheres.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE science.  I am a bit of a geek freak nerd ah hem guru? NO, fan when it comes to science!  This post is specifically centered on the Northern Hemisphere, or even more specific, The North Pole and polar bears. 
Did you know???? {source Wikipedia}
  • At the North Pole all directions point south!
  • The N.P. lies amid the Arctic Ocean, which is made up of constantly shifting ice.
  • This shifting ice makes it impractical to construct a permanent research center.
  • In the summer the sun is continuously above the horizon.
  • In the winter the sun is continuously below the horizon.
  • No time zone has been assigned to the North Pole.
  • The N.P. is significantly warmer than the South Pole. -45 degrees compared to the S.P.'s -128.6 degrees {lowest ever recorded in Fahrenheit}
  • There is NO ACTUAL LAND on the North Pole ... Just a lot of Arctic ice.
  • No country currently owns the North Pole.
  • Animals found on the N.P. include: Polar Bears {they are not found on the South Pole}, seals, zoo plankton, whales, walruses & migratory birds such as the Arctic tern, Snow goose & puffin.
Speaking of animal life on the North Pole, we are focusing our study on one specific animal ... Polar Bears.
 We love this book:
Check out this adorable video of a mama polar bear and her cubs emerging from their den.  I can't wait to show this to the kids! {By BBCWorldwide}
A bear hunting a seal .... Does the seal get away???  You will have to watch to find out! {By BBCOne}
I LOVE EXPERIMENTS!  My kiddos LOVE this one.  This is a great tutorial for the "Blubber Glove" By Steve Spangler Science
We are going to make these SUPER CUTE polar bears on Friday, and I am SOOOOO excited!  Photo and tutorial by Sally at Fairy Dust Teaching.  If you haven't checked out her blog, YOU NEED TO!
THANKS Sally for letting me share this!
We will also be filling out this little fact sheet to accompany our artwork:
YOU CAN GET IT TOO!  Just click either link:
Give me a ROAR if you have a comment or question!!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

I have a dream of ... Peace, Love & MLK, Jr.!

I am excited to unveil my latest bundle: Peace, Love, M.L.K., Jr.
Learning about MLK & The Civil Rights Movement has a real personal connection to me as {through adoption} I have a blended race family. This year my daughter, Violet, is really grasping an understanding for Martin Luther King, Jr. & his stand ... Maybe because she is in kindergarten and a little older.  She said, "Mama, he made it where brown and peach people can be together." YES HE DID!
I hope you enjoy this bundle.  I wrote an MLK poem that makes up 3 activities in this unit.  You can pick it up for $2.50 at either one of my stores. :)  I also have a few videos at the bottom of this post and a link to the book, "Martin's Big Words," which is one of my favorites.  ENJOY!
 Here is a list of the items in this 16 page bundle:
  • Peace, Love, MLK Poem {to read}
  • Peace, Love, MLK Poem {to write & illustrate}
  • Peace, Love, MLK Poem {for pocket chart}
  • MLK, Jr. & Me Comparison Writing
  • Peace Poem {simile writing}
  • M.L.K. Sentence Stem Writing
  • Civil Rights Movement Fact Writing
  • LOVE is... Poem {fill in the blank}
  • MLK & Me Venn Diagram
  • Kids can dream BIG, too {writing}
  • A Child's Dream {illustrate & write}
  • Example for "A Child's Dream"
Here are a FEW photo examples:

Martin's Big Words {fantastic read for children}
Here are some MLK videos you might enjoy using in your class.
Did you know he wasn't born "Martin Luther King?" Find out about it in this video:
Let's Give 3 Cheers For MLK & Celebrate Him EVERY DAY!!

Friday, January 18, 2013

It's time for an {indoor} SNOWBALL FIGHT! SPLAT!

It has been ANOTHER LONG labor of {scatterbrained} love creating these Snowball Fight Centers {and I'm still not done!}  I thought it would be fun to create a game on the classic game WAR!  This game {so far} is literacy based... letters, sight words and sentences... {again, so far! HA!} 
I had fun drawing the mitten and snowball graphics and finding "just the right" digital papers when creating this game.  It's amazing just how long each step to the creation process takes!! 
Pick up the game at either store:
 Here are the basics:
It’s time for a SNOWBALL FIGHT! Bring the outdoors indoors with this fun take on the classic game WAR! Kids will have a blast reading faster than their friends in this all out reading battle! If the "SNOWBALL FIGHT!" cards are turned over at the same time the BIG BATTLE is on! This game is sure to be a favorite during your center time! :)

Bonus Items Included: Snowball Letter Line {a resource for new or struggling letter learners} in the letter game download.
 Parent Communication Documents {accompanies the sight word centers download.}
A little friendly competition can always be a good way to challenge kiddos to learn more, don't ya think?!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sing a song of winter...

Winter is definitely here... even in Texas.  I thought it would be fun to post some winter videos for the "Smart Tarts" in your class to view. 
 I am a HUGE proponent of music, art and FUN in the classroom.  So many times, the "higher ups," "powers that be," and {dare I even say} educators forget that education and fun CAN and SHOULD go hand in hand. I want to see my kids eyes light up when they gain a new bit of knowledge and shine even brighter when they use that new bit in their life.  I want them to shiver with excitement waiting for an upcoming lesson and gaze back fondly on lessons we've had in the past.  I refuse to have students in my classroom that are drooling from boredom and mundane lessons.  They deserve better.  OKAY, I'm off my soapbox {for NOW! Ha!} 
I hope these videos will engage and excite your students while learning about winter {and other seasons.} 
First Snow in the Woods {animals getting ready for winter}
Winter Song: All about winter's attributes. Lyrics available.
I love Super Simple Songs!
{If you haven't seen their version of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, you should totally check it out! It's a tear jerker, though!}
Winter Song by Ronan Keating 
The creator used his song and added different winter scenes:
Snowball Fight {a song for letters and sounds} I love Harry Kindergarten!
Two more from Harry Kindergarten's YouTube Channel.
These are for all of the seasons:
This one is a little sad about a snowman melting,
 BUT winter will come again!
Here's to having a winter FUNderland in YOUR classroom! :)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Can you write a letter to a "non-reader?"

Sure you can!

At home, I love writing letters to my {PERSONAL} kiddos, Violet and Mallon.  I have been writing letters to my little guy since he was very young, and he LOVES receiving them.


Something, I'm sure, you are already aware of... Writing with rebus pictures! It's EASY BREEZY! Just write your letter in short phrases depending on the child's age and illustrate words in order to facilitate them reading your note. They will LOVE feeling big enough to read!

You can even make your note look like a real letter by folding over a plain old piece of paper and addressing the outside and writing your message on the inside.
{I KNOW THE PICTURES ARE LAUGHABLE, but he doesn't care! HA!}
 This would work great in the younger grades like pre-k and kindergarten, too! {I will have to remember that when I loop back down next year!}
Hopefully, once he is more developed, he will be able to write a message back to me!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

I am most grateful to be nominated {3 times} for a Liebster Award!

Liebster Award - Recognizing New & Upcoming Blogs
  I am beaming with gratitude at being nominated for a Liebster Award!  I am embarrassed to say that I was originally {and primarily} nominated by: Sarah at back in November! {I have been quite "cray cray" this year. HA!} Then by: Alisha and Stephanie  THANKS GALS! You ROCK!
 So, what is a Liebster Award? It is an award given by bloggers to bloggers ... a "Pay it Forward," if you will. The word "liebster" in German means: adj. favorite, preferred above others; liked or loved above others {source:} Basically a way to get new blogger's {under 200 followers} blogs out there and recognized and to let you in on some facts about "the {wo}man behind the curtain."

So, here are the rules:
  • You must post 11 random things about yourself
  • You must answer the questions that the nominator set for you
  • You must create 11 questions for the people that you nominate
  • You must choose 11 blogs (w/ less than 200 followers) and link them to your post and let them know they were nominated.
  • You cannot "tag back" the other blog, but leave a comment on this post with the URL of your Liebster post so I can learn more about you and see who you nominate.

11 random things about myself:
1. I have been teaching for 9 years: 8 in kindergarten and {this year} 1 year in first grade.  I got to "loop" with my kiddos from kindergarten to first grade... HUGE BENEFIT!
2. I am married to an incredible man that I have known since I was 14 years old.  Andy is patient, kind and MOST OF ALL makes me laugh! We have so much history together that we should write a textbook. HA! I love you Sweets!
3. I was born an "Okie," but have lived as a Texan most of my life... YEEHAW!
4. In 2009, Andy and I started our adoption journey.  We began by fostering our daughter at 22 months old ... One month before her "official" {because we knew God placed her with us for a DEFINITE reason} adoption, we got a call that her biological brother had just been born.  He came straight from the hospital to our home.  After a very long and challenging year of court dates, home visits and being told we would probably lose him, he was also adopted into our home.  I could just weep thinking of the amazing roller coaster we went on... and that we were able to keep them together.  If you are interested in a more detailed version ... click here: Mallon's Adoption.
 5. I have a VERY beautiful and talented sister whose photography/art is absolutely stunning.  She needs no "plugs," but I will give her one any way! Check her out here! You have always been there for me through thick and thin.  You will always be my "little bobs!"  I love you "Babo!"

 6. I am a little bit of a health nut, partially because I have a thyroid condition called Hashimoto's disease.  I stay away from sugar, gluten and currently all grains. *GULP* It's been hard, but definitely feel better when the grains are gon-zo! I love organic food and grass-fed meats and educating my own kiddos {or anyone who will listen!} about the benefits of healthful eating.

7. I am a bargain junkie {just like good ol' dad!} To me, there is nothing sweeter than finding a great deal or bargain... I kind of laugh on the inside knowing that I COULD have BUT DIDN'T pay more.  If you show me the bargain, I'll show you the sucker! HA!
8. I love creating my own educational games and drawing my own graphics, hence this blog.  It was really scary to "put myself out there" and begin my journey to e-commerce, but it has been really exciting! I feel like I am constantly learning and improving as I create each new game.
9. I enjoy cooking and rarely use a recipe.  I love trying new foods from different cultures than my own ... some of my favorites - Mexican, Indian, Thai, Soul, Japanese & Lebanese.  I would really like to try Ethiopian cuisine.  I've heard great things!
10. I like to be outdoors if at all possible.  I love walking, biking, hiking {although not the finger breaking kind I did in CO this summer}, and just basically chilling in nature.
11. I love to go to musicals and plays.  My hubbie knows me too well and got me tix to see West Side Story on January 19th. YAY!
 Because I was so long winded... I will answer 3 questions from each gal that nominated me.

Sarah's Questions:
What is your favorite read aloud book? I love "Giraffes Can't Dance." Great message and illustrations!
How long have you been blogging? Only since the end of September 2012.
What is your favorite food? Mexican Food. I could eat it several times a week {except harder now that I am off all grains! Wah! Wah!}

Alisha's Questions:
Classroom Pet? I wish I could, but we aren't able to have one.
Do you make your bed each day? Uh.... I have to admit, NO!
Do you stay home for the holidays? Yes, but we discussed going skiing next Christmas.

Stephanie's Questions:
What is the hardest part of teaching for you? The paperwork ESPECIALLY b/c I have ADD! So hard to keep up!
Where would you most like to visit and why? Fiji because my grandpa had said it was one of the most beautiful places he had ever seen and that the people were just as beautiful.
Who inspires you? Children. Their imagination, outlook on life and creativity is something I hope to never lose sight of!
 Questions for my Nominees:
What is your favorite thing about blogging?
Do you cook? If so, what is your favorite thing to make?
Technologically savvy or not?
Favorite color{s}?
Do you collect anything?
 What is your favorite music genre & artist?
Which stateS have/do you live in?
Have you always lived there?
What is your absolute favorite meal?
 Do speak more than one language?
What was your favorite subject in school?

Stickers and Staples
Imagination Station
Perfectly Primary
The Climbing Grapevine
The Lower Elementary Cottage
Psyched to be in 2nd Grade
Buzz On Over
Teacher Technotopia
I Dream of First Grade
This Little Piggy Reads
Math is Elementary

Holla back when you have completed yours, so I can get to know you better. :)

Thanks again so much for the nomination!