Family Fun: Carnegie Science Center

On our second day of our long weekend we started our day in Pittsburgh with a quick drive to the Carnegie Science Center. It was easy to find and park. Two things I always like in a new city.

On arrival we noticed there was a special exhibit showing mummies. This was our first stop. We were instructed that there would be no pictures or video inside, so I sadly have only the photo below.

The experience was very interesting. I always loved egyptology as a child, so I thought for sure I would love this exhibit. Umm well. Not so much. My eyes and stomach really didn’t enjoy seeing real mummies. I think in the future I will stick to sarcophagus art and artifacts.

However, if you have a stronger stomach then I recommend this exhibit.

Onto looking at things that were never living!

Robots and mechanical things were a alot of fun to look and and interact with.

Of course these two were cute to see.

In this same area there were alot of robots that were doing things:

  • Playing basketball
  • Sorting medications
  • Air hockey
  • Moving balls
Mr. Competitive

My hubs was super happy that he “beat” the robot. He really did, but I think the robot was not working right….hahaha!!!

Of course I had to manipulate this robotic hand. I had a great time trying to create ASL hand shapes. In the above picture I made the sign for I Love You. Then I decided to get a tiny bit sassy…in the picture below…please do not be offended.

Fear not. I did not leave this. I set the hand to a neutral position. I just couldn’t resist.

There was alot to learn about Space. My mini likes science and she loves things about space, so she was engrossed in many hands on activities.

There was a whole floor on the body. It was very fun and interactive for kids….adults too. I didn’t take any photos because there were a lot of little children around enjoying themselves and I didn’t want to worry about it. Living in the moment was also a priority. I need to be better about that.

I also was ready to get outside and tour the submarine.

This is the deck of a WWII submarine. We toured the inside and found out this particular sub never launched a torpedo in the war. It was decommissioned without ever firing.

I was surprised how roomy some of th areas were. I wanted to photograph more, but there were other people touring and it wasn’t my lucky day. Also, the smell of paint or fuel was so intense I didn’t linger inside very long. Chemical smells make me a bit nauseous.

Happy to be outside in the fresh air

After the tour of the sub we took a nice stroll along the water. It was really nice to explore a new city in beautiful weather with my people. Everyone and everything seemed to be enjoying the autumn sunshine!

I highly recommend this museum if you have children and want to be able to interact with the exhibits. We had a lovely morning learning and exploring!

In my next post I will share where we went to lunch. Gluten free happiness!!!


Family Fun: Heinz History Center

If ever in Pittsburgh this is a totally eclectic museum. There is a little bit of everything for family fun. We totally enjoyed all six floors. Each floor had 2 or more areas of interest.

I love that this building used to be an ice house. I really enjoy seeing old things repurposed for the good. The building itself is a treasure. The brick and wood beams feel old and industrial, but very cozy and charming. As we were leaving we saw that the first floor was bring transformed for a wedding.

Making new history!!!

Pittsburgh should be proud of this museum. It really highlights the city’s history and showcases the people who have made contributions to Pittsburgh and beyond.

If you love sports there is a lot to see and do. There are many interactive experiences in the sports area.

There were sports artifacts that I even found cool.
A little competition

There is a rich history of industry and invention. My take aways were the city produced alot of steel, glass and pickles!! I know the city had and has so much more to offer, but those were the highlights.

Rosie the Riveter
Vintage Trolley

If you love trolleys or transportation, there is a trolley museum in the city as well. We did not visit, but maybe in the future.

My favorite part was Mr. Rogers. I enjoyed watching his show as a child and as an adult it is hard not to love the message he was spreading.

Mr. Rogers
It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood…

If you didn’t know Heinz originated in Pittsburgh. They are proud of their 57 varieties and rightly so.

There was one floor where there was a collection of things that were cultural or just a blast from the past.

Sorry about the shadow…but had to try to get this…I had this doll house when I was a girl!

There was a good amount of hands on activities for children and adults. I really tried to be in the moment with my family, so I don’t have a lot of pictures of us playing, but there were science minded, art and sports activities. We played a football table game, bubble hockey, threw footballs, and tried to get materials to float.

We always take fun pictures, but the one below is just nonsense. The museum has an area that takes visitors back in time…apparently no one in my family wants to go back and do the hard chores.

We very much enjoyed out long weekend in Pittsburgh. Stay tuned for a couple of more posts about our weekend away.

2 Creative Resources to Help Little Writers

Photo by Pixabay on

I absolutely love language.

Being a teacher of the deaf, I see students who often have language delays or struggle with language.

  • Reading
  • Phonics
  • Expressive Language
  • Receptive Language
  • Comprehension
  • Writing
  • Recall

Most of the items in the above list are weaved throughout all of a students day. It is my job to help them navigate and wade through all of activities that sometimes have my students drowning in the “English” sea. I always tell them English is a crazy language.

I find that the classroom teachers are doing wonderful work with reading and writing. Many of my students achieve success faster with reading than writing. Many of my students do not enjoy writing. Writing has alot of layers and skills to master.

  • Phonics
  • Spelling
  • Handwriting
  • Keyboarding Skills
  • Expressive Language
  • Vocabulary
  • Grammar
  • Writing Conventions……

I have been trying to think of ways to really help my littles work on all of these skills, at their level, in hope that they will become less resistant to write and feel more confident as they navigate the grades.

Journal Writing

I have done journal writing over the years. Some students are writing to themselves, working on advocacy skills or writing to a peer. This style is free writing is proving to be helpful and bringing happiness.

I created a journaling resource to give options.

These options make the experience more personal and differentiated.

Writing Prompts

I have used written prompts forever, but recently I have been developing visual prompts for creative/expressive writing. I have many bright students with much to say, but sometimes that white, blank sheet of paper is overwhelming.

Using a picture sparks language and creativity.

These resources are flexible. As the teacher you can select the pages, the structure and the goals you are working on.

These resources are just a framework for the all of the skills you and tour students have been working on.

I am going to keep creating and challenging myself to teach and support my littles in their writing skills. Check in with me to see what I’m working on. You can follow my TpT store, this way you will be notified when I post new resources. You can also follow me here and see what I am working on.

I always welcome feedback and comments. Let’s learn together.

10 Reasons to Love Fall If You Travel for Work

Cooler Temps

I love the summer months, but the heat and running around aren’t always that enjoyable. I prefer not to be a sweaty gingerbread girl!

A Drive With A View

I love it when the trees start to turn. That is a total bonus driving around all day. A beautiful view can make a long day fly by.

Students Schedules

Once the leaves start to turn and the pumpkins are out I feel like the kids start to settle into their schedules.

Daily Caseload

It takes me about a full month to feel like I know where I am going, who I am seeing.

Long Weekends

I love how there are two long weekends in the fall. We try to take advantage of the scenery and plan family time. Also, people seem to look forward to mini brakes.

Happy Teachers+Happy Students=Happy Me

Pumpkin Spice is Back

Either you love it or hate it. I love it!

The Christmas Crazies

After Thanksgiving I feel like the kids start to progressively amp up for Christmas, so I love the few months focus.

Try Something New

This is the time of year I try a new method of data collection, lesson plan format, try out new manipulatives and give myself grace for a learning curve.

Cozy Layers

The weather in the Fall is perfect for cute light weight jackets, scarves and booties.

Fall Fun

People often get out during the weekend for apple picking, pumpkin picking, football games, hayrides, festivals, Halloween parties, trick or treating and Thanksgiving. These are just some of the ways to enjoy the weekends of Fall…. before the hustle and bustle of the holiday season takes over.

This type of fun is often centered around family and friends! Care free fun makes for a better Monday morning.

Professional Development and the Itinerant

Heading back to school can be a dread or something you genuinely look forward to. I really do look forward to getting back to work, seeing my students, and all of my colleagues. I love summer break, but it is temporary and now it is time to get back to ten month reality.

Carrying my world on my back

I think the one thing I do not look forward to is staff development or professional development. Not because I know everything…haha; I have lots to learn and love growing personally and professionally. It is the disconnect I have with what is offered. I say this with no disrespect to my employer, because I know it is difficult to find topics and presentations that fit a large organization. I have personally served on the planning committee and know it is difficult to find specific, helpful and relevant sources or presenters. Finding the perfect presenter or topic for hundreds of people is never going to happen.

With this being said I try to approach these moments with patience and grace. I listen for gems I can take away and add to my teaching treasure chest. I also try to seek out professional enrichment else where.

Motivational Speakers

I often enjoy these presentations. They are typically filled with true stories and humor. Who doesn’t need a back to school laugh?! Most of this humor is generated from a personal struggle. I can really appreciate the effort and inner determination people have to turn what could be percieved as a weakness and turn it into a strength. Hearing how they have turned struggles into success stories is inspiring. I also sometimes see past and present students within these stories of fear, frustration, isolation and lack of acceptance. I emphasize and try to think of ways I can turn these issues into non issues or head them off.


These can be good or bad. I love the idea of finding new information at the click of a button however, getting everything you want in one webinar can be a challenge.

  • Some are filled with amazing content
  • Some are easy to listen to
  • Some are visually appealing and engaging

Still searching for one that is the trifecta!

If you have watched or participated in a great webinar for teachers of the deaf, please share back! I know that Karen Anderson’s website and group of professionals puts out things of value, but I am sure there must be others….I just haven’t found yet.

Online Resources

Articles and Ted talks are a great way to keep up to date on advancement in deaf education, technology, finding motivation. I often will share out any good ideas with my colleagues. I have to admit I could be better at using these resources. The internet is always there. You can learn something new from your couch in your pjs!

Guest Speakers

If I have the opportunity to get information from a person who is job specific I find this incredibly rewarding. These sort of opportunities are very limited. I know my field is very specific, but getting information in this forum is probably my favorite.


This is a resource that I have just started to dabble in. I have found that there are great groups out there. I can’t get hours for PD from comments and discussions, but I have read and learned alot from really great professionals. I enjoy knowing that questions I have maybe foriegn to the teachers I work with but not to the TOD community. Some people are out there driving MILES everyday, some are literally the only one in a large area and others are teaching in schools for the deaf-each of these people are relatable. It takes a village to raise a good teacher too!

Focus Group

I am very fortunate to work with a handful of TODs. We are an excellent team. We support and offer advice whenever needed. We try to meet on a monthly basis. Time is precious, but it is worth it when you get back so much. We provide each other support via email and texts. It is great to have a mini tribe to bounce ideas of of or just vent about things….if you are itinerant you know there are things that we do and see that typical classroom teachers never struggle with.

Photo by on

How do you Grow?

I would love to hear from you.

Apples for the Teacher

We recently went apple picking and it was a delicious day. The sun was out, the field was dry and the apples were easy picking. Getting out for a couple of hours in mother nature’s glory was just what was needed. Back to school can be so hectic.

Family Fun

We picked four kinds of apples:

  • Cortland
  • Macintosh
  • Gala
  • Golden Surprise
This was 1 of 2 bags

After we were done we typically love to linger and get a snack. It was a bit to crowded. Beautiful weather brought people out in droves, so we just headed home. My people were also a little sweaty and a tiny bit cranky. What would we have done in the pioneer days? Hahaha!

The following day I was motivated to do something with our haul. I decided on apple sauce. I don’t have a recipe for this. I just figure it is a basic concept. I am sure there are amazing recipes online, but I just wing it.

  • Crockpot-on low
  • Apples-all four varieties
  • Cinnamon-as much as you like
  • Splash of water

I peel, cut and load the crockpot. As I fill the pot with apple chunks I sprinkle some cinnamon on each layer. Nothing measured…nothing fancy. The lid goes on top and after a few hours I give it a stir. I check to see if they are breaking down. After about 4 or 5 hours I see if the apples are soft enough for me to start mushing.

Smush away!

Then it simmers and cooks down a bit longer. I take the crock out when I think it is smooth enough…..applesaucy. We like ours with chunks too, so I do not puree it. Like I said I am not fancy when making applesauce.

I love eating it warm!

I have plans to make more applesauce and probably some gluten free apple desserts. I will add anything new I bake or create to the post. So check back for updates to this post if you are curious.

Fall is my favorite season and so far this one is starting out with good family fun. I am hoping you have a beautiful harvest season too!!!

4 Little Things That Shape an Itinerant’s Day of Travel

As an itinerant or person who travels for work…do you have a list of the best places to:

Copy, print, eat, park, and of course use the bathroom?

I know that I do. My time is limited and priceless at points in my day, so I need to know where I can have the best and most productive day. Work spaces are what they are. I try to make the best of any space a school will give me and I have written about awesome spaces in previous blogs, here I am focusing in on the other bits of my intinerant day.


So this is how I start my day…parking at my first school. Depending on the weather, my mood and if I am pressed for time where I park is very important. I typically don’t care in beautiful weather, but seeing that I teach on the run in all four seasons this location will change. This ties in directly to my mood. I am not a cold weather lover, so ice and snow prompt me to park as close as I can. I always find it interesting how being a few minutes earlybor late can alter where I park as well. One year parking as late as I could was best. I didn’t have to battle the parent carpool line.

Do you have a “spot”???

Printing and Copying

These two aspects to my job are incredibly important. I have had years where the only place I can get anything done is at home. I do not love this….last time I checked teachers don’t get paid enough, so if I can get work done for my students in their buildings, like the classroom teachers, I appreciate it very much. Ink can be pricey and I try to be thrifty!

So, I try to make the most of the resources provided to me. I am very thankful when I have access to these tools. I find I am more inclined to create more resources and activities. I am always trying to keep it fresh for my students and myself.

I have found that making a friend in a building or just asking is incredibly helpful. I never assume I can use resources, so I ask where and what I can use.

  • Copy machine
  • Printing
  • Color prints
  • Lamination
  • Library books
  • Website ID and passwords

Eating Lunch

If you have read other blogs you will know I am conflicted with eating lunch in school. Sometimes I enjoy it and look forward to eating with the staff I work with. I love building friendships. Then there are times I keep a low profile. This typically hinges on how welcome I feel.

Now there is a third reason I do not munch and gab with school peeps….it’s call zero time! I am running my gluten free, gingerbread girl, butt off and have zero time. This is sadly a reality for many itinerants. We run and often eat in between kids-which is in the car or in our work space.

I am sure there are other reasons that keep itinerants out of staff lunch rooms:

  • Being outside in your car with the windows down, music playing and fresh air is a beautiful perk.
  • Wanting to stay positive…I think we know lunchrooms can be a place to vent
  • Needing alone/down time.


Now this seems to be maybe a tacky thing to mention, but in my world I like to know where the best pottys are!!! I think no matter where you work you care and have an opinion.

Things I look for or try to avoid:

  • Location-I can not wander on a tight schedule
  • Kids vs. Staff-primary sized toilets are a thigh workout, even for petite peeps
  • Cleanliness
  • The toilets and sinks-auto is awesome, the less I have to touch the better
  • Staff bathrooms NOT off of a lunchroom….never understood this
  • Hooks-I need a place to hang a coat or bag

As you can see I have thought alot about this. When nature calls…a girl has needs!

I really do love my job. Figuring out how to do my best doesn’t always have to do with lesson plans and materials. I am sure, no matter what you do, you too look for the best of the best to be an effective worker.

Here’s to rocking out your work place!