Posted in Teaching Life

2021 Valentine’s Day Lessons and Read Alouds

This is my new haul of books. I have a solid collection of Valentine’s Day books, but of course I needed new titles.

The title alone brings the kids in. We had fun reading.

I have other stories with Desmond and Clayton. The kids seem to like these two little mice, so of course I needed the Valentine’s Day version.

This one is beyond adorable. We loved the pictures and the familiarity of the story. We read The Littlest Reindeer and The Littlest Elf over the Christmas holiday. Emma Valentine’s story delivered just as much….if not more smiles. The puppy storyline was a huge hit!

The Littlest and Biggest….fun to explore the language.

This is one of my favorite stories. I think it is the illustrations, no matter, I read it every year to atleast one student. This year I decided to make some worksheets and activities to go with it. I found the clip art on Teachers Pay Teachers.

I am having a great time with my students this week. I also read last week Nate the Great and the Mushy Valentine. I forgot to snap a pic before I shared it with one of my teams. Love my teacher tribe….not sure how they are using it, but we used the detective story for opportunities to practice predicting.

I am taking advantage of anything cute and fun this year. We are all teaching in a new situation and making the most of it has been my daily mantra. I have a post from last year if you want to see some more Valentine’s Day lesson ideas.

Happy Teaching!

Posted in Teaching Life

Winter 2021 Itinerant Teacher Essentials

Being itinerant can be a dream situation or sometimes you can find yourself questioning the busy, on the go, hectic daily grind. I happen to love my job, but winter can put a crimp in my peppy step. Cold weather, less sunshine and snowy parking lots make my daily hustle more challenging. I wanted to share a few things that are helping me stay warm and on schedule the winter season.

This is my second winter…or maybe third with these boots. They feel and fit better than other brands that look like these. I will not say that look amazing with a dress, but everything else works. I stay warm, dry and don’t slip as I am running in and out of schools all day. They wipe off beautifully and the interior is still supportive. I also like that they are a bootie. Taller boots sometimes make me feel claustrophobic. Especially, when I put winter wear on and off many times a day. I feel like when you are itinerant, you need to be light and stress free with coats, bags and footwear.

I normally wouldn’t post a pic with a price sticker, but 8 dollar of plastic heaven is worth being tacky.

This little, hot pink cone is genius. I have had the same big, black snow brush since I was in college, so that means it is pretty old. It works, but it is big, whereas I am small and it is an awkward experience. This little, hot pink job fits right in my hand perfectly. It scrapes the snow and ice with complete ease. I always struggled with traditional tools, but this little guy gets the job done fast and seeing that I move on a tight schedule, I don’t have time to struggle in the parking lot. I just zip this over the windows in under a minute and go! The spikes in the top help break up thicker ice. I honestly think if you are on the go, a busy mom, or hate winter car care-you need this. I definitely think it is goof proof and easy to control.

The car seat hooks are really helpful. I had been looking into getting some and low and behold…my mom gave me some for Christmas. I can hang them from the headrest forward or behind any seat. I love that I can hang my bag in the backseat and with winter weather it is staying off the salty, wet floor. I highly recommend these for anyone who wants to keep things off the floor or flying off the seat.

You could hang:

  • Lunchbox
  • Purse
  • Backpack
  • Tote bag
  • Trash bag
  • Grocery bags

Winter is my most challenging season as an itinerant teacher and looking for ways to make the day run smoother is always a good thing. Sometimes the schedules can leave me feeling like the Gingerbread Girl, but with better tools of the trade, it make the day more enjoyable. These 3 items are winter winners.

This winter is far from over, if I discover any other little gems, I will be sure to update you on what is making the day easier.

Check my other posts from last winter for inspiration, lesson ideas or just because.

Posted in Positive Life, Teaching Life

Winter Art 2021

I am so incredibly happy to see art happening this school year. I recently stopped to snap a few pics of some really great pieces students have created at two of my schools. Walking the halls this year has been difficult at times, but seeing color and creativity has been good for my soul.

I don’t have alot to say for this post. I’m going to let the art speak for itself.

I will try to remember to stop and admire the next round of art. I think the small things are what will pull us through and hold us together this year. I am sure art on a cart has been a challenge for Art Teachers. Maybe we can all try to stop, look and compliment!

Posted in Teaching Life

Winter Themed Books & Worksheets

I am back in person with my students and I really wanted to make our first week back fun. I purchased new snow themed books for the month off January. I looked them all over and decided I needed to make resources to pair up to the stories and also have fun tackling goals.

Every student seemed to love How to Catch a Snowman. I loved seeing and hearing what sort of trap they would build. I used this page and book with students K-2. I varied my expectations per student. My kindergartner was only expected to listen, recall and draw a trap. Where as, my 2nd graders were expected to listen, recall/sequence, pick out new vocabulary, design a trap and write/explain the trap.

Sequencing is something that I have been working on since September. We started with peanut butter and jelly activities, A s’mores game and activities, and now snowmen. This little matchbook activity hits alot of goals at one time.

  • Cutting
  • Sequencing
  • Oral language
  • Retelling
  • Writing extension
  • Descriptive language

Playing games has been difficult this year. Keeping everything clean and safe is a top priority. We played this successfully because we each had a spinner. I took the spinner on the directions sheet and the student used the large spinner. Having printed and laminated resources has been essential. I can print many copies or if laminated I can wipe down between students.

I varied the game play based on each students goal. I enjoy materials that I can manipulate to meet multiple needs or goals. This makes planning and traveling so much easier.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Winter-Rhyming-Pairs-Worksheets-and-Games-5446711

Rhyming seems to be a difficult skill force few of my students. We will be using thematic rhyming for the rest of the school year. Snowball Moon is a new title for me. Hoping the kids like it too.

Froggy books are not my personal favorite, but my students like them, sonwhen I saw this one I knew I had to grab it. I also knew it would fit into my snow theme for January. My students will assemble a snowman after we read and discuss the story. I intend to have them cut and sort the pieces, then listen for what pieces they can select for gluing. I always try to squeeze in listening somewhere!

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Sayrades-Winter-Descriptive-Language-Game-6339269

These sheets can be cut up into cards or leave as is. I made these to be in color, laminated and cut apart. A printer selection mistake at school…totally my fault, left me with a set in black and white. Instead of recycling, I decided to toss them in my bag for atleast one student to use. So happy. It worked out and was totally fun playing this Winter “Say”rades game. I made a “Say”rades game for each season. I wasn’t sure how the kids would react to playing, but so far this one is a hit!

We seem to need alot of opportunities to use descriptive language skills. Writing can be a challenge, so playing a game and just using verbal skills to describe was fun and time effective.

Winter can feel very long when you live in a cold climate, so making the most out of it is essential for me. I am going to continue to look for fun titles and make activities that engage my students. If you liked this post check back. I have other winter themed lesson ideas coming.

Posted in Book Life

2020: My Library Picks

This year I did a lot more reading with my ears, than I did with my eyes. When I opened our Audibles account I wasn’t sure how much I was going to like hearing a story. I am typically a fast reader and a control freak, so I enjoy reading and skimming at my pace, but with listening I get every word the author intended.

Audibles

Every book listed here I would recommend and enjoyed. I feel like I sort of had a few categories.

Mystery, stories with strong women and guilty pleasures.

This cover and title caught my eye. Sometimes I judge a book by it’s cover…truth. I adore that chair. Granny chic at it’s best. This was a sweet listen.

This book was along timencoming. I remember reading the leaked chapters from a decade ago. I always had hoped Stephanie Meyers would revisit the idea of telling Twilight from Edwards perspective. I read the series when it came out and wasn’t a die hard fan, but I love a series whether it be pages or on the screen, so reading this was inevitable.

This is one guest list to not be on! I loved the flow and narration of this book. I highly recommend.

I am glad I gave this book a chance. I thought it was going to be a rip off of The Giver of Stars. NOT. It is about a pack horse librarian, but the details are a very different story. If you enjoy a tale based in some historical context-give this a try.

This book was a deal and I very much enjoyed it.

I enjoyed this story….very curious tonsee hownit will translate to film.

Can’t go wrong with a classic title with British narration.

This was GOOD. Read it! Listen to it…gasp!!! I recommend to my book club and we selected it for our next meeting….that was almost a year ago. My huge hope is once we are living normally again we will get together and discuss this book, among any others we read in the time apart.

This selection was because I let my mini read the Twilight series and she discovered this book. I guess I was to busy reading other types of books to even realize she wrote this flipped Twilight. I actually enjoyed the story. We listened in the car during our rides to and from school. I love that my little reader and I can listen, discuss and share books!

I pray I never get amnesia….even to forget some aspects of this unreal year! This thriller was good and I enjoyed the narration.

These two books (above and below) were Hallmark like and perfect when I needed some sweet, happy endings.

Paperbacks

So, I have to say that I picked up a book much less than I thought this year. Maybe it was the stress of what this year brought or that I was loving Audible books. Whatever the reason it looks like I need to step out up in 2021 and read the titles that long to be read.

This was a juicy read. Might try another by this author.

I needed some small, chill but of information to digest. This book was perfect with coffee in the morning before I hit the distance learning/teaching.

This book was recommended by my yoga instructor. I love it. I love that it can be picked up, turn to any page and take in the message. There are short passages and passages that take about a minute to read, so essentially it is a noncommittal book. This was perfect for me this year. I didn’t have the mental focus to digest a full novel, so being able to really think or just not was a blessing on the page.

This is my current read. My plan was to finish it, but like everything this year….eghh. I want to keep reading it for fun and I wasn’t going to push myself. I think that has been a huge take away this year. I don’t have to. I don’t have put pressure on myself, especially when it comes to things I should be doing for enjoyment. I will get to this and when I do I’ll let you know how it was.

Until then, I will keep listening and reading what and when it suits me. 2021 is going to be what it will be. Hopefully it will be another healthy, safe and productive year. Read on friends!!!

Posted in Gluten Free Life

Cinnamon Toffee Merry Mix

This mix was a need for me. It just seemed like a cozy idea. I love all of the ingredients and was super excited to try my concoction.

This is not going to be a long post. Just a quick share! Staying in ny lane-I am not a recipe blogger, just a gluten free gal who likes to share her road to living gluten free.

This is made just like the Merry Mix I made last week. Check that story (Spreading Holiday Cheer) out if you need deeper instructions.

All gluten free ingredients. I did not measure….I just eyeball what looks good to me, so add as much of each that suits your taste.

I added more toffee once I started mixing the batch together. So really this is a very flexible and personal mix of ingredients.

Then, I felt like I wanted some rice Chex, so I added that too. I was making a traditional Chex mix for my hubs, so they were already out….and why not.

White chocolate wafers are what brings the mix together. I have probably 1.5-2 cups here. I double boil and melt.

Once this is ready I add in spoonfuls to the dry mix and gently fold, coating everything evenly.

When everything is coated it gets poured out into a pan or tray that is lined with parchment paper.

I spread it out and added super cute gingerbread man sprinkles on top. This mixture needs to cool and harden, takes about a couple of hours.

I will gently break it up and store in air tight containers or zip bags.

Nothing left to do but wait to eat!

Cinnamon Toffee Merry Mix

  • Heath toffee bits
  • White chocolate chips
  • Rice Chex
  • Crispix
  • Kix
  • Peanuts
  • Cinnamon Chex
  • Cinnamon Cheerios
  • White chocolate wafers
  • Sprinkles
Posted in Family Life, Gluten Free Life, Positive Life

Spreading Holiday Cheer

As we all know 2020 has been a very interesting year.  I say interesting because so many things have happened in my bubble and in the global bubble. There have been positive and not so positive things that have occurred and I feel like I want to make sure I try to tip the scale at the end of this rollercoaster year in a positive direction.

My mini me and I made a fun and festive holiday treat for our neighbors. Being at home alot more these days has its ups and downs. We have seen and done more driveway chats with our neighbors than we have done in years! With this being said we have plenty of time on our hands, on the weekends, to be creative and productive, so we thought making treats for our neighbors would be a  nice way to spend our Sunday afternoon.

We didn’t want to bake, because we assumed people will do that for themselves.  Instagram and Facebook have surely displayed all of the banana bread, cookies and soups people have been whipping up over the last several months, so we decided on something sweet, salty and crunchy.

Gluten free ingredients!

I think this has many names if you look up recipes on Pinterest.

  • Grinch mix
  • White trash
  • White Christmas Mix
  • White Out Mix

We did not follow a specific recipe.  We used what we saw for a gluten free inspiration.  Everything but the pretzels were normally gluten free. I personally like the gluten free pretzle sticks, but and shape will work.

This is about 8 cups of cereal. 1 cup of nuts and 2 cups of pretzels.

We loaded our ingredients in the bowl. No real measuring. We sort of eyeballed the dry ingredients. This is very simple and fun for kids.

This is about 1.5 cups of white chocolate melting wafers.

I melted the white chocolate.  My mini me still isn’t ready for the stove, so while she scooped I melted the white chocolate wafers down to creamy deliciousness. I use a glass bowl that fits perfectly over a sauce pan, creating a double boiler.

We used MM’s, but you could use a candy you like better. We didn’t measure, we added what looked good.

I didn’t take a picture of the mixing process, but once the chocolate was ready I poured it onto the crunchy mixture and gently folded everything together. My goal was to evenly coat the dry ingredients. This is was an easy step and where our treat making story has two results.

With the first batch we added the candy and sprinkles on top…after we spread it out onto a pan lined with parchment paper.

This version looked prettier, but when packaging it up….the candy didn’t stick completely. I had to collect the mm’s and add them to the containers.

Totally coated!

With this batch we added the candies into the mix and coated them at the same time.  We added the sprinkles on after we spread it out .  This way the sprinkles didn’t melt and turn the chocolate pink.

Next, we allowed the batches to cool and harden. This took about an hour.  While this was happening we gathered what we needed to get things ready to package and send to the neighbors.

Gluten Free Merry Munch Mix

We put our tasty treat into disposable tin pans. I already had them and they are something that can be recycled when the treat is gone. No need to return a dish or container. In the past I have used cute, printed metal tins. I don’t know about you, but I can only store so many of my own, so I don’t want to burned someone else with storing a seasonal tin.

Festive and disposable containers.

We added tags and bows. Nothing crazy or fancy. I wrote a holiday message on the back side and a quick note of ingredients.  I have no idea about allergies, but I know that if we received this I probably wouldn’t eat it because I would be scared of gluten.

My mini popped on her elf hat and hit the sidewalk delivering our delectable delight with a dash of holiday cheer. Mission accomplished!

Gluten Free Merry Munch Mix

  • Sprinkles
  • Gluten Free Pretzles
  • Kix cereal
  • Crispix cereal
  • MM’s
  • Mini MM’s
  • Peanuts
  • White chocolate melting wafers or white chocolate chips

This is what we used, but you can honestly add whatever you want…coat it in chocolate and it will be delicious! I am hoping to create a another medley next week. I will post and share.

Wishing you a fun and festive holiday season-whatever you celebrate. I hope you can take time to enjoy, rest, and spread some holiday cheer!

Posted in Teaching Life

Creating Language Activities for My Littles

I find that I am in the constant pursuit of creating new ways to help my students use language to the fullest. Being a Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is something I love and my own passion for language has been a helpful quality in supporting my students and the language gaps and barriers they have, but the ideas I think of are not strictly for the population of students I serve. We all use language for expression and reception, so my hope is that these activities can me modified for any student acquiring or expanding their language skills.

Descriptive Language

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Sayrades-Christmas-Descriptive-Language-Game-6297874

This is a new resource I created for the holiday season. It is easy to use and can be modified for students needs and goals.

My students love games and activities that allow them to use clothes pins-which they love. I have various types for the individual lessons I plan. I try to use basic items whenever I can. They very much like the mini clothespins.

If these pages are laminated, wipe off markers can also be used to mark points earned. Also, laminated pages will save you prepping and planning in the future.

Expressive Language

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Write-A-Story-Holiday-Animals-5072651

My students often struggle with writing. I am always looking for ways to get more from them. I started making these writing promt pages. Our time is limited and I don’t want to waste time on an illustration, so I give them one. Language is my mission, not art. Don’t get me wrong, there are times and opportunities for creativity, but I want the majority of our time to focus on words.

These were a hit last year. Something I love about these is I can print as many pages as I want per student and for multiple grade levels. I always love having resources that I can use in so many different ways. It keeps my bag lighter and mentally I am juggling less.

I encourage the students to use the picture as a spark to start their story on fire. The pictures are there to support and guide the writing process. I love watching and reading their work when it gives life something I’ve made. So many times their little, creative minds take a page in a direction I never thought about when creating a resource. I have other write a story resources in my store.

Receptive Language

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Listening-and-Speechreading-Holiday-Animals-5072469

These are so much fun. I typically use with k-2nd grade students. The pictures are cute and fun, the flexibility is great and another resource that can be adjusted to meet IEP goals. Flexibility is essential to me as an itinerant teachers.a

I love exploring and expanding on a resource. I use these mats and cards to work on listening skills, speechreading skills, vocabulary skills and writing skills. I recommend laminating the cards and mats for durability and longevity. If you are using with multiple students laminated pages also easily wipe off, between students.

Having Fun with Language

Whatever language you use to communicate, being able to express yourself to the fullest is essential. Developing new tools to help my students do just that is always going to be my jam. I love language and I love teaching language skills.

If any of these ideas seem like something you could incorporate into your lessons you can visit my Teachers Pay Teachers store. I also have a Boom Cards store under the same name. Also, you can always follow this blog, I am always adding new content!

Have a holly jolly December teaching!

Posted in Teaching Life

Thanksgiving Wrap-Up

This is just a quick wrap up of some of the things I did last week…sorry this is a bit delayed, but pocket these ideas for next year. Also, I have seen some Thanksgiving books on sale, so maybe these titles or the selections in my last blog are on sale….worth a browse.

This was an Amazon deal…7.99 for hard cover.

This book is always a hit. Many teachers use this and add the turkey in disguise activity to go with. I like to read and have a discussion as we read. No matter how many times a student has heard a story I feel if it is from a different reader, there is a new slant to the way it is read and hearing a good story more than once is never a bad thing.

These were some phonics cards I whipped up to support my students working on initial sounds. I personally love the clip art. I use alot from this artist. These cards can be use in multiple ways. These will be a future product in my TpT store.

We made personal feasts after we read about the first Thanksgiving. I very much enjoyed watching and hearing about what items made each student’s menu. The language that came from a simple cut, sort and glue was awesome.

If you read my blog regularly, you know I love sticky notes. I have started adding them to books. I know classroom teachers have been doing this for years. I did when I was younger and very green, but over the years I sort of let it go. This year I am feeling the pressure of covid and hate how it is effecting my mental state, so questions stuck on pages have kept me focused during individual readings.

The purple, mesh zip bag is my go to this year. I keep differently sized sticky notes, pencils, a pen, a flair pen and one sharpie….there might be a few rogue paperclips, but the core elements are my mini, mental toolbox. I can quickly and easily jot a question or observation down. I keep this toolkit in my bag-just for me. I should keep some candy in it…somedays I need a boost.

With all the challenges this school year has presented, I am trying my best to center myself back into activities and materials that I love. Doing the things that support goals, but more importantly bring some joy to a session. As this November comes to a close I am feeling very grateful for the flexibility and uniqueness teaching 1:1 brings.

Here’s to a fantastic December. Check back to see what I have going on in the classroom and at home.

Posted in Teaching Life

Giving Thanks and Having Fun with Online & In Person Activities

School has obviously looked very different for so many of us this Fall.  I have been trying to adapt, adjust and maintain some normalcy.  Thinking about how I am going to use resources and materials has been more time consuming than usual, but I have found ways to make lessons enjoyable.

https://wow.boomlearning.com/deck/would-you-rather-thanksgiving-HZ2qXsuxEpJeurhGj

I have created some Boom Cards to offer light fun for students. These activities are quick and the task is familiar. I am trying my best to keep our favorite things safe and efficient.

Boom Cards have been a blessing. I love making them and the kids love playing the decks. These activities support multiple skills.

  • Reading
  • Comprehension
  • Language
  • Choice making
  • Humor
https://wow.boomlearning.com/store/bundle/7buxqaBByE2iatu9h

This bundle is everything I have made Thanksgiving related. My hope is to put one or two more decks together. I have a couple of ideas on the back burner. The time has been the challenge. I’m sure if you are currently teaching, you can totally relate to the multiple to do lists!

This book is an oldie but goodie. I love any books that get kids thinking about how they can be a helper. I added these cards from a sequencing resource for support. We explored the language and message of the story.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Listening-Speechreading-Fall-and-Halloween-4968299

We used the pictures for listening or speechreading and then generated sentences to support phonics, handwriting, vocabulary and language.

These are some of our favorite Thanksgiving stories. Each is very different and depending on the student I am with is used differently.

  • Listening
  • Comprehension
  • Retelling
  • Vocabulary
  • Text to Self Connection
  • Predicting

This is the resource that I use to support the stories or use independently. I created different mats and pictures to support IEP goals in a fun and festive way. They are in my TPT store.

I laminate these for durability, but this year it has been a time saver. I wipe everything after a student uses it. I don’t have to have multiple copies. The stories are only touched by me, so they stay safe. I have used these mats with mini erasers in the past. Not this year, sadly. I might use candy corn or skittles. I’m sure those will be way more enjoyable!

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Fall-Halloween-Bookmarks-4952078

I made this resource last year, gave it to students and blogged about it. I am so thankful I have this resource. Things have been so difficult and foriegn this year, so being able to print and laminate these add an extra level of care to my relationship with my students. They all know how much I love to read, believe in them as readers and want them to read for enjoyment. I love giving them a fresh bookmark with an uplifting phrase.

These are in my store as well. I also have different holidays and some basic sets. Add a ribbon or not, your students will love these!

This little beauty just arrived at my door! I have 3 more titles coming. I just can’t help myself when it comes to books. This will be a new read for me and hopefully my students. I will put another post up with the activities and other books once I use them. Stay tuned.

I am counting my blessings and am feeling very grateful that I have been able to be in person with my students. Hearing their laughs, listening to their awesome questions and feeling that special something that happens when you turn the page and they are totally absorbed into the story had been very gratifying. Everyday I get…I will happily take.

Posted in Family Life, Positive Life

Boo to You

This is for sure the strangest Halloween I have ever had. Instead of thinking about all the things that aren’t or won’t….I am wishing you a spooktacular weekend!!

I hope you find ways to celebrate- if that is your thing. I wish you a batty good time. Throw on a scary movie, eat some candy and sip some cider.

I put a costume together for my mini me. I am usually making a scary something, but this year she wanted a game character. She plays a game called Among Us. I have no clue, but momma tries to deliver. I made a mask that she can wear with the costume…which is a cyan hoodie and pants. Pure comfort for a covid Halloween at school.

There is no way she can survive a day with this mask, but in spurts she can character up. She will supplement with a typical mask. We are just trying to make the most of things.

I am still loving my yoga skeletons. These will totally be put away in a few days, but they are totally fun. I think I need to find some yoga Santas or reindeer.

So thankful Halloween is on a Saturday. This is every teacher or parents dream. Last year I remember dragging myself and child to school. Sunday will be filled with football and naps!

We are ready to hand out some candy….at a proper distance and watch the jack-o-lanterns glow under a full moon. 2020 has been proven to be very tricky, hopefully we coast into November with only leftover treats!

Happy Halloween

Posted in Gluten Free Life, Positive Life, Teaching Life

Fall 2020 Vibes

October is almost over and things have been smooth. We all are in good health, school has been manageable and I have been able to enjoy some of the typical Fall things that bring joy. I know so many of us are over all the things that have been weighing us down, so this post is a hodgepodge of positivity.

Getting the pumpkins for the porch was very important. I love pulling up to my house after an exhausting day at school and seeing the colors of Fall. Fall is my favorite season, so I am soaking up all of its beauty.

I had to get all the colors this year. Typically I go with a couple of mums, but this year I felt the more the better. I thankfully found ones reasonably priced. I may love the look, but I am still going to be thrifty.

We are taking full advantage of the cooler temps. Walks are still important for our mental and physical health. It has been fun getting out and seeing what our neighbors have done to celebrate Fall or Halloween.

I have turned into a two cups of coffee a day person. I have only had a morning cup for years, but with the challenges this school year has brought….I need an afternoon pick me up. Of course I am going to enjoy my liquid sunshine in a festive and seasonal mug. Finding the joy in simple things.

Baking is something that brings me joy, relaxation and sadly unwanted calories. This was an apple crisp I made, gluten free of course. I think this one was a total success. I did what I always do for the apple mixture, but the topping is where I got creative and think was a total win. I used gluten free pancake mix! I substituted the flour for the mix. I would love to post a full recipe, but I am a toss stuff together kinda gal, so I apologize, but if I make this again…which looks very likely, I will post the process.

When I think of all of the changes I have had to make this Fall, how I am teaching, what I am teaching and who I am teaching….I have needed to stop and smell the leaves. I was taking the dog out and took a moment to take in the simple beauty of my side yard. Taking in these tiny moments have helped my head and heart. Being overwhelmed seems to happen daily-for some reason or another, but remembering to give myself grace and stop to enjoy all the things that are around me has helped with my anxiety and my focus.

There are so many things out of my control right now. I think this is true for so many of us. Making healthy choices is getting me through my masked up, sanitized days.

These are fun to use….I just divide up the boards and leave a few on my students carts. The game is spread out, so I am not spreading germs.

Pacing myself with what I am teaching and not forgetting the fun has been something I have been thinking about quite frequently. Remembering I am not able to use materials the same way was a but of a downer when I started in September, but in the last couple of weeks I have had to make a shift and bring on the fun. Books make me happy, so fee nee titles to read to my littles has be a simple solution to things I felt were beyond me.

My littles love Splat!!!

I am also shopping my TpT store. Being so overwhelmed and I forgot about an activity I made last year. Someone purchased it and it jogged my memory to print ant use with my kiddos. Looking at resources I used to take from school to school…out of my bag…is no more, now I am looking at how I can repurpose, adjust and reinvent myself. All the while keeping it fun for the kids and myself.

Halloween fun throughout the house also helps elevate some of the outside world stressors. I hope that as you read this it gets your wheels moving and grooving in a positive direction. Find the joy in what you can, wherever you are.

Posted in Family Life

Falling Into The Past

I don’t know about you, but I have been looking forward to this long weekend.  The start of school has had so many mixed emotions.  I am so glad to be back, but I have needed some family time and fall foliage.  Fall is my favorite season and we definitely enjoyed what nature had to offer.

Normally we take the October weekend and go somewhere, but with things being less than normal we decided a short car trip was manageable. The drive was a cornucopia of colors.  We took a drive out to a museum and Colonial/Victorian  village.  We are a bit nerdy, so we like a little bit of history and since my mini me has never been we thought- why not!

It was incredibly therapeutic to be out and about enjoying some beautiful fall finds. We still had to be masked at points, but in moderation. It is sort of strange to think about how much has changed in a year. 

I was looking back at pics in my phone this week and I almost gave into the covid crankies. It started with looking for a cute fall pic for my work desktop.  I wanted to fire up my computer and see something uplifting.  I found many great pics and it got me thinking how this Columbus Day weekend was doing to be lack luster if I or we didn’t think of something to do. Something relaxing, new and manageable.

Luckily we settled on visiting the museum and had a very blessed day. Blessed with good weather. Blessed with low crowds.  Blessed with beautiful scenery.

We loved walking the lanes of the village. I think in better times there is more to be seen and more to do, but it was satisfying to explore something new as a family. We didn’t look at everything because we want to go back and we didn’t feel the pressure to see it all…like we do when we explore farther from home.

The gardens were so picturesque.  I can see why this is a popular wedding destination. It was very peaceful and there are multiple vignettes for a beautiful background. 

The staff was incredibly friendly. My hope is when we visit again there will be more staff to learn from and watch “living life” in the past.

The man inside was making real leather shoes.

Being out in the sunshine, no schedule, with my favorite people…perfect way to spend a October Saturday. We stopped in a house and in the kitchen was a woman dressed in period clothing  baking.  We found out that they make the bake good in the confectionery.  Of course we had to get something. I am not going to be able to sample it, but the maple bread looked delicious. I think it is cool that they aren’t just acting the part, the staff that is dressed in garb circa 1800 something, they are really doing functional jobs that sustain the museum.

Trying to be normal is some days harder than others. I am very thankful for this simple day. Being in nature with my favorite people checked the box for a fun holiday weekend.

This village visit also inspired a family movie night.  We watched M. Night Shymalan’s The Village. It’s October, gotta get a spooky movie or two in!

Posted in Book Life, Family Life

How We Have Raised A Reader

Today while I was at Barnes and Noble, enjoying a Sunday browse with my mini me, I saw a book that caught my eye and really inspired this post. I am sure this book could be incredibly helpful for some parents, but I honestly didn’t crack the cover. I sort of said to myself “thank God I don’t need this, but it has been hours since I was in the store and I am coming back to this title.

We have always been very thankful our daughter has always loved books. We have never forced her or even had to mildly encourage her to turn some pages. As a teacher I am aware that many children do not love to read.  Maybe they have legitimate difficulties.  Maybe they just don’t find joy on the page.

As a reader myself I can not relate to people, children or students that do not enjoy reading for pleasure.  I myself was a rabid reader.  The kid with a flashlight under the covers. I now have that child.  I lovingly kid that if we allowed her to get every book she wanted we would live in a shack. She tells us it would be a shack made of books. Maybe we could be the fourth Little Pig house…do you think a house made of books would withstand the Big Bad Wolf???

I started to think what did we do to foster her love of reading?

We started reading to her when she was a baby. We started with cute little board books.  She enjoyed books that were interactive and tactile.

We had books in the bathroom, in the car and in her tote bag. We made books more accessible than toys at times. This was not intentional. We are readers and we find value in books. We now share our fabulous finds. She manages our lending library.

We made trips to the book store and library very common. She must have showed everyone in our family her library card. For her birthday she is always pumped to get a Barnes and Noble gift card. She is also very blessed to have a great aunt, a former librarian, send her books.

Reading is a family affair.

We read to her at night. This seems like something most parents do. However we also made up stories and she in turn made up her own stories. They could have been totally original or variations on stories we had read.

We have always been positive and sort of braggy that she is a reader. Maybe that makes us annoying or obnoxious, but I’ll take a bit of criticism, because we don’t have to nag her to get summer reading completed.

We have made being a reader part of her identity. She is confident and proud that she is a reader. This confidence with reading has naturally helped school work and she has become confident with public speaking. Being able to confidently read aloud built up her self esteem and when asked to read to a crowd at an assembly or church, she has done a spectacular job.

We have allowed her to explore genres. Fairytales and books about families were popular when she was three. Then she moved on to popular characters like Pig and Pete the cat. Once she started school and grabbed on to simple chapter books she really took off as an independent reader.

We now encourage her to explore new authors and titles. She loves fantasy and mystery, but I also like her to dabble in stories about feelings, growing up, and classics. Getting her to branch out is getting easier….thankfully. We have a solid selection of magic and mystery.

We also watch “the movie”. We will watch popular titles that have gone from the page to the big screen. I love how she will comment and critique the two mediums. She loves to find the differences and share her opinions. She is finding the book is usually better than the movie.

She recently was out of her own books and was desperate, so she tried to read off my shelves. If you follow me, you know there aren’t many titles on my shelves a tween could read, so it was a stretch. She dipped her toe into the Twilight pond. Well, she was hooked. She read the entire series. She has asked for Midnight Sun to be put on her Christmas list.

We are incredibly lucky to have a child that finds joy from all sorts of books. I am sure that the book I saw today is well written and helpful. I am just very thankful that we are readers and have parented a reader. I hope she never loses her love of reading. I know when I was in college I did for a bit. When something becomes a chore or just an overwhelming necessity it is hard to find the joy, but thankfully once I was done reading textbooks and required readings, I found happiness in characters and plots again.

Here’s to a lifetime of reading for pleasure and entertainment. May our bank account always be able to support her healthy habit!

Posted in Book Life, Family Life, Teaching Life

Books to Inspire and Educate Little Women

Since the passing of RGB I have been feeling like I needed to post about books out there that can educate and inspire young girls to dream big. I know in recent years there have been more titles published to share the stories of bravery, courage and innovation women have contributed to the world. As I was looking for titles related to Ruth Bader Ginsburg I came across these ideas and thought I would share.

I love that people have put collections together. I looked up some these titles on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. It makes my heart happy that there are titles for girls of differing ages and interests.

Since there has been such a push for women and girls in science these looked like great choices. I think is fabulous learning about smart and science minded women.

I was really happy to find a few books that were not just about inventing or science. I personally am not science minded, so if I was a young girl in would be looking for titles about women who made different contributions.

Our young people need to read and see titles showing the struggles, challenges and accomplishments of women, to know they too can do amazing things. Future men need to have these books in their heads too. Everyone needs to learn how women have had instrumental and necessary actions that have shaped all our lives for the better.

We are living in turbulent and unsettling times. There are so many things on the news everyday that make me stop and think about what I need to do to make the world a better place for my students and my own daughter. I feel like exposure to texts that are positive and explore the real life successes of women is a simple way to uplift and instill messages of confidence.

My daughter asked who was RBG? My response is you need to read about her. What I know is not enough, I know I too can learn more about her, so I preordered a book.

We have many My Little Golden Books. I thought this would be a wonderful addition to our collection. There are other titles that are currently available for use to read about the accomplishments of Ruth Bader Ginsburg until this becomes available, in December.

I love anthologies. One book that can give options. A buffet for the eyes and brain. This one caught my eye because the cover art is fun and the subtitle is what I want girls to think about….how can they dare to be different, even if they are just an ordinary person. How can they be brave to just be themselves and by being themselves contribute to society. I think everyday choices and actions have a profound impact on the greater good. Being mankind and thoughtful person is an accomplishment in today’s world.

Counting on Katherine is a great title and I feel like this can be applied to all of us. You may not be a math genius getting astronauts to the moon, but each one of us has a role and I am counting on each person to to their best and try to lead the most positive and powerful life they can lead. This is a message I am teaching to my students and my child. I try to remember that I still have lessons to learn as well.

Books have meaning and can be powerful. I hope that you find some inspiration from these titles. Maybe add one or two to your classroom library, buy one for the school library or for your home library. Sometimes the truest messages are found in the pages of a beautifully illustrated children’s book.

Posted in Teaching Life

First Week Back: 20-21 School Year

I want to say so many things, but I don’t have the words this week. There have been alot of thoughts and feeling. So many things to be thankful for. This week was a success and I know when my brain has time to decompress I will have more to say. So, for now here are some pics and quotes that touch on all the things that a covid back to school can bring.

Got these…. breath in, breathe out!
Google slides coming out my ears.
This is necessary!!!
Posted in Family Life, Positive Life

Patio Views

Trying to decompress can be tricky for me. My mind is always going. This is why I try to be present when I am doing yoga. I also try to be less thinking and more feeling when I spend time on my back patio.

It was a beautiful day. The temperature was perfect, there was a breeze and all the forest creatures were out in full force. I didn’t capture all of God’s creatures that made an afternoon visit, like all the birds and squirrels, but did capture a few.

This one is very persistent and keeps coming back to eat my garden.
These two were waiting in the wings for lunch….and I could see more in the trees.
This furry guest was on a step…must be a thrill seeker.
More forest friends.
I think this is a woodpecker.

These visitors were a lovely distraction from thinking about the upstart of school. We have enjoyed the outdoors more than ever this summer. I hear that from friends and family too. I think being cooped up really effected people and once we had better weather people made the mose of their outdoor spaces.

Feet up. Brain off.

I purchased a gas fire pit for my hubs, for Father’s Day. This is easy and smell free for a cozy night. No post fire shower required. I can not sleep on fire scented hair, so this is the perfect alternative for my prissy self. Also, it is easy to get going for those of us that were never a girl scout.

We still do a wood fire on nights were we need a s’mores pick me up. We have tried smores with the gas fire, but we love the taste of a wood fire, toasted marshmallow better. I love spending family time toasting and eating marshmallows, but I do not love the smelly, post fire hair. So we have a balance of woodsy fire and clean, easy fire pit nights.

I always set up a tray to take out. So much easier when everything is unwrapped.

If the bugs creep you, just cover up all of your fireside treats. I love using these silicone bowl covers. I have had this for years. I have two smaller ones as well. They were a gift and the have been fabulous.

Backyard afternoons and nights seem to be our jam this summer. We added an awning to our patio and this had made our outside time so much more enjoyable. I have loved morning coffee, yoga and just doing nothing.

This guy likes to fly between our yard and the neighbors.

We have really used this space. It is perfect for dinner or summer homework. Sometimes just being in a different space can change something tremendously. It has been easy to loose track of time and stop thinking about the world outside our door. A friend was over for a visit and said it felt like a wonderland. I’m glad she found a moment to take in the simplicity of the situation. I think we don’t realize how wrapped up we get in the hustle and bustle.

Afternoons reading and just sitting out looking at the squirrels prep for winter have been perfect this summer. Summer is winding down, but I think this will still be a family hangout as the temperatures drop and the leaves change. Anything that helps decompress and unwind is a good thing, so I definitely feel patio sweater weather will be a thing!