Love Crafted

I love how we as a society are now promoting kindness.

February is the shortest month and quite possibly the sweetest. I adore how many hearts and messages of kindness kiss the halls of my schools. Love, kindness and friendship are very much in the air.

I am often inspired by the teachers I work with and what I see when I am hustling in and out. Seeing teachers promote kindness and allowing students to be self reflective is wonderful-but it started to make me feel like I needed at incorporate a little of that into my plans.


I had my students stick ripped pieces to the heart as they listened for prompts related to their goals. I love watching how they placed the pieces and which colors they selected. Sometimes asking them to be creative or free with choice is difficult for them. I too love routine, order and strive to provide clear expectations for my students-which I must do, because they were shocked we were ripping the paper…gasp.

We all were stepping out of our comfort zone.

These are completed by my students.

I am trying to slow sessions down and incorporate more creativity.

I include myself when I say this, but we (teachers) put alot of rigor into our lesson plans and can get caught up in the data. There is alot expected in a day. I know my students are working harder than their hearing peers, so I need to design well paced and designed activities that are not a “drill and kill” style. I also see that the way my students internalize language is often literal, so they just want to be told what to do.

Creating lessons and activities at the primary level, that allow for free choice are vital. My goal is… free thinking will connect and support them when we ask the “why” questions and ask them to infer or predict. Skills that are essential as they grow as learners.

I want them to take risks with their answers, be brave and confident in their knowledge.

Who fills your heart?

I loved these. Of course the teacher was focused on the writing piece….which is obviously important, but who and what these children drew is what captured my attention. Everyone should have a full heart.

I had high hopes for doing more crafty or artsy activities with my littles in February, but it did not work out. The week before our winter break was filled with schedule changes and I think my love of children’s literature overshadowed crafty activities. You can read about some of those activities in a previous post (Valentine’s Lessons and Activities). I know I was hitting goals and planning engaging activities, but I need to try harder to get the creative, risk taking juices flowing!

March is a new month…days away and I am gearing up this week to infuse some thematic craftiness into my plans. I will be connecting any and all activities to children’s books-of course, pulling out some of my favorites and looking for new ways to use them. Maybe if I have time I will create new ideas and post them to Teachers Pay Teachers.

Trying to grow and keep things fresh.

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Thanks for reading!!!

Winter Blues and Semi-Green Thumbs

Living in the northeast is great because we get four seasons and I wouldn’t change that. However, winter is not my favorite season and somehow it feels like the longest. I do my best to push through every year, but it seems like every winter….the older I get…I reach this point where I need something to push my soul through to spring.

This winter I decided I needed a little green in my life. My mini and I bundled ourselves up and headed out to get some new plants. Nothing fancy, I am not Mrs. Green Thumb.

We looked around and decided to try succulents. I have never tried to grow or care for, but they seem to be the Instagram rage, so why not. We only grabbed two. At this point we figured it would be kinder to just experiment with one each.

We selected an aloe plant too. I have never grown one, but my gut was telling me to get this spiky, green beauty. Fingers crossed it does well and I eventually need to give it a bigger home.

We next selected pots for our mini collection. I love color and always gravitate towards it, but the universe and garden center had a better plan for me….white. I already had a white pot at home that was once the keeper of a mini rose bush and was not long for our home….sadly. So, keeping with this fresh and neutral palette was very easy. We selected containers for our succulent friends and headed home to pot them up.

Planting them up was very easy and quick.

  • Fresh bag of soil
  • New pots
  • Small pebbles
  • Water

We filled the bottoms with a small amount of pebbles for drainage. Popped in the plants and added some water. Super simple and super fun.

Ta da!!!! Here is our little green collection. It felt good to get a little dirt under our fingers after feeling suffocated by mittens and gloves. Now we needed to put them somewhere. This probably took the longest.

We decided to place them on the hearth. I sit in this room every morning and have my coffee. What better way to start the day then to gaze upon some greenery.

My hope is this little bit of Mother Nature will trick my brain into believing spring is really around the corner, giving Old Man Winter an eviction notice.

This was a lovely way to spend a cold February day off from school.

What gets you through the winter blues???

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Valentine’s Lessons and Activities

This post is going to be short and sweet. I pulled out some of my goodies and favorites, but I also incorporated a few new things. I LOVE this week. I think less about data, relax a bit and let the pink and red reign.

Where I start….

Books shape and lay the foundation for what I want my students to learn, explore and understand about a theme or topic.

The Day It Rained Hearts could and has been used for so many different lessons. I choose this simple worksheet this week. My student are always working on expressive language.

I love this book. The illustrations warm my heart.
One student heard this story three times.

Splat has been a massive hit. The giggles and comments make this book and worksheet packet fly by. I think that reading a book more than once can be incredibly helpful for some students. With each read we found new questions and observations with our new friend Splat.

This is used as multi step listening to build the board. Then played like normal bingo.
Following auditory directions.
These are a huge hit. I often find as a freebie!! Middle schoolers love. Great listening and conversation.
I love all the free ideas on Teachers Pay Teachers.

I tried to infuse a bit of crafty into my week of adjusted schedule, annual reviews and holiday parties/ 100th day of school.

A little fine motor never hurt to add in!

I actually had more things planned, but time was against me. Some of them were so cute I think I am going to complete them anyways. Love and good vibes don’t need a calendar date!

I hope your week was full of all the happy, lovely things.

Art In the Heart: Winter

Being itinerant keeps me on the go. During the month of January, which seemed like 83 days long, I tried to open my eyes and slow my steps down as I walked through my schools.

This one is my favorite….Reading and Art coming together.

Winter art was happening and even though I am not a fan of the cold and snow, these works of art warmed my heart. I love seeing teachers take a break from the rigor and let littles create.

Winter Wonderland of Primary Colors

All of these works of art are clearly working on skills:

  • Listening
  • Visual
  • Fine Motor
  • Processing
I see math here!
I see a writing assignment here!
I love how each of these is different, but totally beautiful.
3D Polar Bears
I see shapes and colors here….learning was definitely happening.

As February has started I am starting to see all the Valentine’s Day themed creations. I am looking forward to all the love that is going to spread down the hallways.

I know it is probably an eye roll for some people, but I wish I saw more of this in middle schools. I know there is so much to teach, get done and do….but taking a break once in awhile isn’t a bad thing. I know I would if I had a classroom. I try my best, as an itinerant, but I have limitations: space, dry time and access.

I think I am going to challenge myself to take a break from activities and data. I am going to plan to incorporate some lighthearted creativity into my sessions for February. I am going to pull some ideas out of my archives and look for inspiration among my peers. I know I can also look to Pinterest if I am struggling-what did we ever do without it!?

I will post my results in a few weeks. Maybe think of challenging yourself. Put a splash of color in your plans.

15 Day Yoga Challenge

I love the pastel camo mat. It was not expensive, but it also doesn’t have alot of grip.

New Years goal was to start 2020 happy and try to make healthy choices. My yoga teacher posted a 15 day challenge, starting January 1, I loved this idea. I was pumped to post a daily pose, but the universe had other plans for me.

I started the year with the flu….yes the flu.

Child’s Pose…this was very tight and felt so strange after laying in bed for days.

The first four days I was beyond sick. By day five I was showered and was hoping to post, so the first five pictures/poses are in the same outfit because it was time to make-up and wake up my body.

Downward Dog
Upward Dog

This pose was so hard for me when I started going to yoga last March. It was also very difficult this day. The flu was kicking my butt, but I was determined to push up mentally and physically.

Gate Pose
Coughing and taking a break.
Puppy Pose….this was a challenge. The breath needed. I struggle with this pose on a good day.
Warrior 1

I think it funny, how when I am in a pose I FEEL like I am deeper or maybe using good form, because when I saw pictures I have very different opinions. I really thought I was deeper in my legs. Taking pictures might become a good way to gauge my progress.

Warrior 2
Black and white photo disguises the odd color combination.

Are you noticing a trend???? Yep Pajamas. Comfy and ugly, but all I could do. Setting this daily pose goal really helped me when I was sick.

Oh and if you are thinking flu and fitness don’t go together, you are right. I literally could only do the daily pose for the day, but it felt so good to do something.

Half Moon

Look close at my face. Ha! I dread this pose. I hate hearing my yoga teacher suggest half moon. Balance poses and I are not friends. They remind me of how weak I am and how much work I need to do. So, I should probably do more, but who loves to do more of something that stresses them?

I was very lucky this is a picture and not a video! The picture below is two seconds later. Half moon quickly became hot mess moon.

And nope! Can’t hold for long.
Side Angle
Reverse Warrior

I love where I am going with my practice. I love that I can move now and I don’t take it for granted. I am far from good, but I keep at it. This challenge was sort of the push I needed. I do not often post pictures of myself. I am just not that confident, but I wanted to try and support my yoga instructor. She is fabulous and I try to support all the lady bosses I know.

Sugar Cane Pose….never did this before.
Dancer Pose
Tree Pose

Like I stated, I struggle with balance poses. I never have my leg this high in class. Thankfully it was working this day. I magically could hold this with ease.

Total win!

Camel Pose….feeling like I needed alot of happy color. This picture was taken after my first class post flu.
Bridge….I tried for full wheel….not cute, so this was as good as it got day 15.

Doing the 15 day challenge was out of my comfort zone for sure. The yoga no, but the idea of people possibly judging was a bit intimidating, but after I posted the first 5 I relaxed. I think my fashion choices clearly show I just was thinking about the pose. My take away from this process is just go for it.

Dirty hair….who cares?!

Terrible outfit….who cares?!

Bad lighting….who cares?!

Not perfect…who cares?!

Just go for it. Don’t let your self doubt stop you. Tell that voice to hush up and slay.

Little Chef in the Making: Gluten Free Strawberry Pie

So if you read my blog, you know I have to eat gluten free. I have slowly been making peace with this new lifestyle. With that being said I try not to let my limitations effect my people.

My mini and I were picking up some fresh fruit in the grocery recently and she stopped to ask me about the strawberry glaze that come in the produce section. She was intrigued. She said she wanted to make a pie.

How great is that!

I did remind her that we would or I would need to pick up a GF crust. So after yoga I made a stop at Whole Foods. I have also tried GF crust from Trader Joe’s. Both are ok. However today’s purchase was not the best.

They came in a two pack…this one was a disaster.

We didn’t let this unfortunate crust derail or mission to create a little bit of summer!

The intact crust was baked and cooled.

So, for the rest of this tale I wish I would have taken pics, but I was living and not thinking about writing about this.

My mini has been taking a life skills class at school (aka culinary). This class is offered to all grades and children learn about nutrition, food prep, cooking and sewing. She really has learned alot and gained to most amazing level of confidence. She has knife skills!!

Small board and knife set from Christmas Tree Store
  • She washed and cut all the strawberries.
  • Added the store bought glaze.
  • Folded everything together.
  • I poured in the crust…the bowl is heavy.
  • Topped with Cool Whip.
  • Garnished with strawberries.

I truly love how this class has changed how she views food and herself. As a teacher I know schools offer “home economics”, they call FACS in one of my schools, but that isn’t offered until middle school. I really think there is immeasurable value in teaching elementary aged students how to take care of themselves.

We clearly enjoyed!!!! A bit messy.

Since I am not food blogger or chef I apologize if you need a recipe. Pinterest has amazing options out there. Just search strawberry pie. I know for our next strawberry pie making adventure we want to make the gel from scratch. I love a goal.

My hope for this post is you yourself will try to create something new and delicious or you will encourage a small person in your life to make something yummy, that inspires them to try new things.


January: After Holidays Slump

2020 has just begun. January is barely half way and how is it everywhere I go teachers are burned out or in a slump?! We just had a break. This post is sort of one big question….thoughts in my head this week.

Is it the break?

Is being off for almost two weeks…or in some schools actually two weeks, just to much? Is it like when you oversleep too much and wake up feeling like crap? I am not sure. I think most teacher friends were trying to rest, relax and recharge.

Of course the hustle and bustle of Christmas and New Year’s was part of the time off, so maybe it isn’t such a relaxing two weeks off. I know all of that family time was not relaxing for me. Family dynamics are always stressful.

Is it the weather?

I know where I live the days are gray. The days seem long. The days are cold. I definitely think the weather effects us. Winter blues are a real thing.

Sunshine is a good thing.

Is it the curriculum?

By this time of the year I know I personally feel unmotivated with my lesson plans. I start to think of ways to spice up or challenge myself. My students are progressing, but sometimes I am not. Call me crazy…but teaching about winter, snow, snowmen, snowflakes….when I am putting my coat on six plus times a day is not very fun.

I love to use a theme when I am planning and teaching things that tackle a student’s goal. All of my littles love the cute extras-but I am very much looking forward to some greener and warmer themes for my games and activities!!!

No matter if you are in the classroom or traveling like me, I hope the winter months go by quickly and peacefully. I know I am trying to stick to a healthy home and school routine. It is taking a concerted effort, but I am sticking to some goals I set for myself.

Goals are a good thing.

I’m going to reflect a bit more and hopefully in my next post I will have some ideas to help us all out of the winter slump!!!!

Best Shoes for Itinerant Teachers

This gingerbread girl loves shoes. I always have, even when I was living with gluten inflammation…I just tried to look for the cutest, supportive and affordable options.

Over the years my style, needs and comfort levels have changed. In my 20’s I never cared about comfort. All I cared about was the look. I wore toe pinching, arch aching stylish shoes, but now I know how much I rely on my feet.

In my 30’s I was struggling to make it through the day with minimal levels of pain. I searched for comfort and style. This was difficult in the beginning, but I found and still find a lot of shoe manufacturers do a good job at both.

You only get one pair of piggies!

I need my feet to be happy. It makes the day run better. I look and shop for soul serenity. I have found that comfort can come in a variety of footwear options. I try to have a variety of on trend but realistic and functional choices.



Slip Ons




I am adding wedges, but to be totally transparent these were a shoe I loved, then could not wear all day. My inflammation was really high and a full day was not in the cards for a while, but now that I am pain free I will rock a wedge on a rain free and less crazy day.


These are some examples of my actual shoes. I typically like to online shop for shoes. I know my size, have my go to brands and love to shop from the couch. This is the easiest and most time effective way to keep my dogs stylish and bark free.

Favorite Online Brands and Sites

  • Earth Brand
  • Crocs
  • Vionic
  • Clarks
  • Nordstrom
  • Ryka
  • Coach

If you are on the go like me and have some favorites I haven’t mentioned…please share!!!

Saying Good Bye to 2019

The new year will be here in days. Well the new calendar year. I personally count the years of my life is school year calendars, so this year still has a ways to go. With this being said, I still reflect and try to look forward to the new year.

Looking forward is an easy process for me. Everything is unknown. I sort of like not knowing what will be.

This year has brought many happy changes. My hope is 2020 will be peaceful, positive, productive and phenomenal!


Goals for 2020

  • Continue writing
  • Improve my skills
  • Hone my voice


Goals for 2020

  • Create more resources
  • Improve a few
  • Expand


Goals for 2020

  • Keep going to class
  • Practice more often

New Friends

Goals for 2020

  • Continue to connect with these ladies
  • Support
  • Fly their flags

Book Club

Goals for 2020

  • Keep reading
  • Listening
  • Making meetings a priority


Last but not least. 2019 has brought us even closer together. May we continue to be a happy little family.

I’ll always pick these two!!!

Wherever we go, as long as we are together, life will always be an adventure!

Happy New Year to you!!!! May all your goals be fulfilled. Whoot…whoot….2020!!!

Grandma’s Cookies: Gluten Free Makeover

Last Christmas I was very sad…throwing myself the biggest holiday pity party.

Every year I look forward to baking and eating our family cut out cookies. I baked them with my mom, my husband and now with my mini. The smell of them baking in the oven kicks off Christmas for me.

Last Christmas I had no desire to bake. If I wasn’t making what I knew, wanted and expected-I was baking nothing. This was probably terrible for my people because they still deserved their happy holiday. None the less that was my mindset and I did not forget to invite myself to a spectacular party.

My hubs is really a rock solid human. He saw how down I was and paid a very big bill at a GF bakery, for some very acceptable cookies and a yule log. These treats were not our festive favorites, but he and my mini were holly, jolly and supportive. Thankfully they are equal opportunity cookie consumers.

Personally I hate how much anything made GF costs!

Let me just add….they did have plenty of delicious, festive, gluten filled cookies and cakes, because they can and should, but not baked by my gluten free, miserable hands.

So, on to this year.

I did not want a repeat of last year. I try to fancy myself a person who learns from their past choices and decisions, so this year I was determined to find a way to make my beloved cookie safe and tasty.

I do not want a new recipe. I am sure there are many options out there…in fact I know there are, pinterest shows me so, but I wanted something familiar. I want my family recipe.

Thank you Bob’s Red Mill!

I found my saving grace. I found a GF safe flour that has a 1:1 conversion. No experimentation with ingredients. The front of the bag had the magic words! I was beyond pumped. I could use just like typical flour. Cue the angels singinng!!!

Cookie dough was made and seemed ok.

I baked….sort of holding my breath.

Cookies came out…cooled and then it was time to taste.

I was pleasantly surprised. They tasted very close. The texture was palatable. Gluten free happiness!

Time to frost.

These may not be the most beautiful cookie, but they are made with love.

This is what I love the most. We frost and sprinkle together!!

This year I accepted and with this positive attitude memories were made, family tradition continued and calories were not counted!

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Merry Christmas: Time to Recharge & Reconnect

Teachers on break or anyone else on a holiday break….do all the things that reboot your soul.

I am taking some much needed family time to recharge and reconnect. This fall has been hectic…filled with extra bumps and potholes in my itinerant road.

I am wishing you a joyous and peaceful holiday. May you take time to breathe in all of life’s blessings.

Gluten Free Birthday

The Cake

I’m really making peace with being gluten free and with trial and error I have found a cake that has good texture. I am very thankful I have found this mix at Trader Joe’s.

It takes about an hour to bake. This is longer than a typical mix, but it is dense. It does not rise up very high, but moist and small is worth it.

The Frosting

I don’t really enjoy canned frosting, so I decided to look for a homemade option. I went to pinterest of course! There were endless choices, but I decided to use a basic butter cream and cream cheese hybrid concoction. I am terrible at following a recipe.

I am that person that tweaks and adds things. Sometimes it works in my favor and sometimes it is an apology.

Cereal for dinner is always a back up!

I read, in a few online recipes, bakers were adding dehydrated strawberries. I figured I would give it a try. I buzzed the strawberries and added them in…fingers crossed. The result was fabulous.

Oh…and yes I made it all. I used to love to bake. I find it relaxing. Going GF has limited me. I was very happy whipping this up. I was home with my mini me…she needed a sick day, the weather was snowy and I didn’t want something from a bakery-happy birthday to me!

Ta Da

Made a wish….

The Food

I have been trying to eat better and get my yoga on. That being said…. I wanted to slob out!!!

We went and got gluten free pizza and these loaded fries. Total perfection on a snowy week night. Lots of calories and zero dishes!!!

We went out again!!!

Since I have gone gluten free I LOVE wings. Like really love them….crave them. This was the perfect way to wrap my birthday week. It was salty, spicy and satisfying.

My gluten free journey continues. Blessed to have another year to keep learning and expanding my options.

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Thank You for reading!

Holiday Teacher Gift Ideas

As a teacher I know that I am never expecting a gift, but I do love to receive something from my students…something that they put thought into. Some of my most treasured gifts have been made from paper, crayons, stickers and kindness. I think most teachers feel the same way.

I know as a parent I look at teacher gifts from a totally different perspective. I want to make sure I find something personal, budget friendly and useful. I also encourage my mini me to take an active role in the shopping process. I want my child’s teachers to know we see and value their hard work and commitment.

One thing I do in September is look around the teachers room during open house. My mini keeps her eyes and ears open too throughout the first few months. This way we can even make a gift card more personal. Knowing something as simple as a favorite color can be so helpful.

This leads me to the ideas.

Gift Cards

So I know most people love a gift card, but I have a love/awkward feeling about them. They are quick, easy, and practical…so people love to give and get.

They are quick, easy and practical…so that’s why I don’t always love to give. I feel like it says I don’t know you or had no time to shop for you, so I picked up a gift card.

This is where, for a teacher gift, I have to calm down and just do it…most people love them. I try to add something cute to the gift card that is personal and I try to select a gift card that is not just Starbucks-unless the teacher is seen with a cup daily.

A favorite coffee place is simple.

Here are some of my past selections:

  • Target
  • Favorite Restaurant
  • Pedicure/Manicure
  • Movies
  • Favorite Store
  • TJ Maxx
  • Amazon
Movies are a great way to unwind over the holiday break.

Classroom Essentials

Depending on a teachers situation sometimes they need things for the room that they can’t or shouldn’t pay for. Teachers spend a lot out of pocket to make their room a great place for their students. Picking up their favorite pens is the least I can do.

Add some flair to their holiday season!
  • Flair Pens
  • Markers
  • Dry Erase Markers
  • Electric Pencil Sharpener
  • Sharpies
  • Inspirational Stationary
  • Personalized Stationary

Mugs and Water Bottles

  • Personalized cups and mugs
  • Themed cups and mugs
  • Inspirational messages on cups. mugs and water bottles

I think these are useful and can be refreshed. I personally enjoy a new water bottle or cup, especially because I forget about them(which means they get gross) or loose them in my travels.

Self Care

  • Lotion and hand cream
  • Soap
  • Lip balms/gloss
  • Nail polish and cozy socks
  • Massage certificate
Candy cane red…classic color

I try to keep these unscented or neutral. Scent can be very personal and powerful. I choose neutral or classic colors as well.


  • Chocolates
  • Wine
  • Cookies
  • Edible arrangements
  • Favorite snacks
  • Hot chocolate

One observation I have made over my many years of teaching is teachers love a treat, but not ones from a home kitchen. You may make the best fudge ever, but during cold and flu season most teachers will pass. We are looking forward to a happy and healthy holiday break, not one filled with chicken soup and tissues. So, I always purchase a yummy treat.

I like to get a box and put in the office or staff lounge for everyone

With all of these ideas my ultimate goal is to get something useful, personal and something that isn’t cluttering up a shelf or desk. No teacher needs a dozen Best Teacher mugs! And no teacher wants to feel guilty not using the multiple mugs.

Whatever you a purchasing this holiday season I hope you enjoy the process. If you can’t think of anything unique…get the gift card. I know I am taking the pressure off of myself this year.

And if you don’t have the budget for a gift consider:

  • A hand written note or card
  • A kind email
  • Have your child write or draw something
  • Have your child create something
  • A heartfelt “Merry Christmas” at pick up or drop off

I think the key is expressing appreciation. Who doesn’t like to feel respected and appreciated?!

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It really means a lot that you take time to give my posts a read.

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Itinerant Teacher Holiday Blues: 3 Ways to Sparkle and Shine

We get in our cars and Christmas music is on the radio, right after Halloween. We see the drive through beverages get sprinkled with peppermint. We start planning lessons with a holiday vibe.

All of these things can be lovely and delightfully festive, but if you are itinerant the holiday season, in school, can be a real bummer. I know not everyone feels this way, but I have seen a few comments on Facebook posts and I know I am not the only one out there feeling the itinerant holiday blues. Being on the go all day does not pair up with Christmas parties and Secret Santa.

Sometimes being itinerant is beyond great. We see a situation or work in situations that look stressful….are stressful and we get to leave when our time is up. If you are like me you still think about difficult students and situations after you leave, but I am not in it all day. I say a prayer for that teacher or team and move on to the next place in my busy day. This is a definite bonus to traveling.

Make tracks….and get gone!

Once the weather turns and the holidays start to happen I feel an internal shift. I do not love the cold, so that definitely adjusts my mood, but I think last year I really felt bummed out and left out of all the holiday spirit in school.

  • I see students during the fun holiday staff lunches
  • I am not in a place every day or at the right time to participate in fun group games or activities-like Secret Santa
  • I often miss the sweet holiday performances because my time is up and I am moving to my next location.

If you read my blog regularly you know there are some amazing places and people I have worked with. I have had opportunities to feel part of something and I think that when that special something isn’t happening, it can be tough to get through a time of year that personally can feel stressful or overwhelming, then head into work and I think for me it creates a little grey cloud over my head…no mistletoe to be found.

This year I am going to try to put some holiday pep in my step and not fall into a candy cane induced pity party.

Festive Apparel

Ugly sweaters….bring them on!!! Maybe you don’t go that far, but try holiday or Christmas:

  • Tee shirt
  • Socks
  • Earrings/jewelry
  • Sweater or Sweatshirt
  • Leggings
Snowflake sweater and headband

Looking festive can make you feel festive. Often these fun items are conversation starters. Students love it! This can be a simple way for you to blend into the holiday aesthetic.

Inspirational tee, headband, leggings and earrings

Holiday Lesson Plans

Even though your classroom comes out of a bag like Mary Poppins and you probably are not decorating your work space, try to add that holiday magic to your lessons.

  • Holiday Games
  • Festive Manipulatives
  • Books
  • Worksheets
  • Apps

These are a few of my favorites.

Mini erasers and felt gingerbread men for games

Look online for some inspiration. I love to find ideas on Pinterest and resources on Teacher Pay Teachers.

I know there are so many more amazing holiday books, but I try to stay away from ones I see classroom teachers read. I want my students engaged and not bored with a story they just heard.

Holiday Treats

Maybe consider a peppermint mocha, hot cocoa or hot cider to lift your spirits as you are traveling all day. I will still be following one of my cardinal rules…”If I can’t drive though it, I don’t do it.”

Add a Christmas cookie to your lunch box. #selfcare

See if there is a fun holiday lunch or staff get together you can attend. If it is something you would enjoy- it is worth an ask.

No matter where you are, the weather, the driving conditions…I am wishing you a Merry and Bright December.

If you have any suggestions or tips for December holiday survival comment, email…reach out. I would love to hear from you!

Itinerant Teacher Book Picks: Favorite Novels to Read with Students

Readers gotta read and listeners gotta listen! Let’s turn the pages!


This novel is a great middle school pick. It has multiple characters and the chapters are character specific. The chapters are not incredibly long, so it is realistic to read a chapter during part of a session.

Many of my students have enjoyed this as a read aloud. It stirs up great discussion. The language is clear and relatable for middle schoolers. It addresses bullying in a multifaceted approach. As a reader you can see inside the minds of the bullied and the bully.

Depending on what your goals are you can easily work on comprehension, vocabulary and expressive communication skills.

Hello Universe

I am currently reading this novel and we are loving it. This is another story where individual characters tell the story from their perspective. My student is enjoying the story, but finds the chapters told from the bullies perspective harder to listen to.

Bullying is such a conversation and issue within schools. It is great that there are authors writing relatable stories. And I think it is so helpful when students can generate conversation from a real and deep place.

This story is particularly great, in my opinion, because one of the characters is hard of hearing and wears hearing aids. The author has done a wonderful job writing chapters from a hard of hearing girl’s perspective…..and the best part is she is not the character being bullied. She has struggles, but she is confident and strong. I love this so much. I want my students to read about smart, confident kids like them!

When we finish this book I am hoping to complete a resource to support this book. Stay tuned!

Because of Mr. Terrupt

I have read this novel with students as our read aloud and as classwork. This is how I was first exposed to the series. The first book is great and it is awesome for fifth or sixth grade students.

This is yet another book told by each character. I just realized this is a commonality with the books I have listed so far. I think the chapter break ups, personalities and perspectives make these books easy to stop and start for an itinerant teacher.

In this story there is a bit of humor, struggle, heartbreak, and friendship issues. This book is very accessible and relatable to 10-12 year old kids. There is great vocabulary and questions for discussion you can pull from each chapter.

If you do not have time or the inclination to pull the vocabulary and questions, there are really great resources you can find on Teachers Pay Teachers. I bought a resource and it is very helpful.

My Life in Pink and Green Series

I bought this series a few years ago. I had a female middle school student who needed to work on listening and engage in discussion. She needed alot of academic support and was not strong in ELA. I choose this series because it has a great friendship storyline, there are problem solving skills, but the story is light and breezy. Some kids already have heavy lives, sometimes I want to be a bright spot in their day.

These three books were an enjoyable read for both of us. This novel is told from the main characters perspective. Switching from character to character can overwhelm some kids, so this series was perfect for a student that has processing difficulties or learning disabilities. The language was also simple and believable.

We were able to use this series to tackle IEP goals and basic middle school life. I try to select books that will fully support my students. They are way more than their IEP and I strive to fully support them.

The Secrect Language of Girls Series

I think all three of these books are great. I borrowed them out of a middle school library. My student selected the first book and wanted to finish the series.

I was very happy to find out a student I once had, as a consult, also read this series. Both students loved these books, even though they are very different people and learners. I think that says alot for an author if you can touch different types of readers.

  • Realistic
  • Easy to read
  • Easy to follow the plot
  • Addresses friendship and social issues
  • The characters grow and change over the 3 books

I loved how as a reader we followed these friends grow and mature, sometimes together and sometimes apart. That seems realistic and helpful as kids wade through the turbulent waters of middle school.

These are just some of the awesome books I like to use…I will be adding more in the future. I am fairly sure one of my schools will have a book fair again and I always love to look on Amazon. I also see a Barnes and Noble visit in my future. My mini me loves to read. Together we make a dangerous combination in a book store.

I know that libraries are a wonderful way to try new books out for free. I do this too, but if I love it and know I will read a novel multiple times-I purchase. This way I can sticky note it up, underline and highlight/tag pages.

Read, Research and Respond

If you enjoy reading with your students I hope you give one of these a try. Happy reading. Happy teaching.

Also, if you ever want to comment or share something I would love to hear from you. Also if you like this post and would be interested I being alerted to my next post you can always follow my blog.

5 Observations On My Gluten Free Journey

Whether you read my blog on a regular basis or this is your first time- welcome. Writing about being gluten free is going to be something that I want to post about on a semi regular basis. This is still new way for me to live and I feel like I learn different things all the time.

My hope is my story will connect with you on some level.

I have only been living GF for 19 months. I am still a newbie to this lifestyle. I did not choose this-it choose me. Celiac was finally my diagnosis to a 15 year struggle with IBS.

To live my best life I have to eat gluten free.

I have written other posts about this journey, so check back through my blog. Some of those are a combination of positive and sad feelings about going GF. Each one was written in real time as I make my way on this new path.

Here I want to focus on a handful of positive observations I have had lately.

Bye Bye Angelsoft

This may seem like a silly thing to write about or too much information, but it is a solid reality. We shop for and by less toilet paper. I don’t live part time in the bathroom anymore!!!! Saving money and time….winning .

Bye Bye GPS

Not stressing about where to find a bathroom is a new observation. I used to plan around if and where a restroom would be. This anxiety I had over making sure there was one made my day miserable, especially with travel. It became a norm sadly, but now I recently stopped doing it. I am just going about my day care free. This little stone is gathering no moss.

Bye Bye Butterflies and Anxiety

So now that I don’t have that panic, stress and worry over: feeling sick, will I be sick, or when will the cramps kick in- I noticed about a month ago I don’t have that jittery feeling anymore. I think it is a two part situation.

1. My physical health is improving

2. My mental health is improving

Bye Bye Bloat

This is one of my favorite changes. It is a new sensation to not feel gross all the time. It is great to fit in my clothes after eating a meal. It is awesome to not hear a thunderstorm in my stomach. That was sometimes embarrassing. I could cover up the other two with a fake smile and a loose outfit, but I couldn’t hide the rumbling.

Bye Bye Fatigue

This is a battle I have won. I used to complain about being tired. I was sort of a broken record. I don’t think I was even aware how annoying and fatiguing I was! Now if I am tired it is a normal sort of tired. I don’t wake tired.

  • I am not up sick in the middle of the night and I sleep better.
  • My inflammation is down and I sleep better.
  • I can do yoga now…..I sleep better.
  • I can accomplish more in my day….I sleep better.

Hello Happiness

Finding what works I think is the key to any necessary change. I have adjusted my diet and seen life changing benefits. At first I was happy I had an answer, then I was mad at all the food I couldn’t eat and now I am just trying to find balance with my new existence. Allowing myself grace, knowing I might have a bad day and trying to practice patience with the process.

Itinerant Teacher Book Picks: Picture Books

I love a Scolastic Book Fair.

I don’t know if it is just me, but I totally love it when I see a book fair roll into one of my schools. I love shopping for my students…or should I really say for myself. Haha. New books are right up there with new crayons, fresh markers and new stickers.

I love seeing new titles or titles I might have not been interested in at a previous sales. I have a good size collection already, but I get inspired by new authors and illustrators. New stories enhance a lesson that might be stale and in need of a reboot.

Free tote bag…#bookjoy

I had to get this one….the squirrels look so cranky! The title is a lesson in itself. It is very fun, fast moving and has a plethora of colorful and complex language. I am excited to use this with muti ages. I love being able to take something that seems like it is for my littles and use it with my older students.

I like stories that also have a series or style that my students recognize. There is something comforting in the familiar.

These Old Lady books are always fun. Why shouldn’t she go to space…she has already eaten so much on earth. She is limitless.

I have a few versions of the three little pigs and when I saw this one I had to have it. I think seeing characters and stories told from different perspectives helps students see that a story doesn’t need to be told just one way. I have a few versions of the Little Red Hen. I have loved those stories for 15 plus years. One so much it is taped together.

They are great to compare and contrast.

This book is adorable. It has great illustrations, humor and is actually informational. I love a book that teaches science in a fun and engaging way. It is sometimes a struggle for me to teach science concepts, so when I can cute it up I am all in!!

This title says it all. I think my students struggle at times to make friends. Sometimes it is communication issues or they are just shy. Either way I want each and every child to feel like they have one or two friends. School is tough sometimes…for teachers too and I think without friends it is even harder, so I think it is my job to help my students learn how to make connections.

This style of post will be reoccurring. I feel there will be new titles in my future….of course there will be! There are plenty of bloggers who review books…i am staying in my lane. I just want to share what I am using and my hope is it can work for you too.

Happy Reading with your students!!!

Sticky Note Obsessed: 3 Ways I Use Daily

Plan Book Notes

This year I have gone back to a paper planner. I took a break for the past two years doing an electronic, web based planner. I enjoyed the web format, but I really missed the act of writing things down.

I downloaded a planner from Teachers Pay Teachers that I could punch the pages and use my Happy Planner rings with. The size of the squares are perfect to fit the smaller 2×2 inch sticky notes.

I buy fun colors and mix it up in my book. I write my session notes on the sticky, then stick it right over my planner square.

I present my sticky notes for the week.

Insta Lessons

Sometimes a teacher throws something at me upon arrival. I have learned to roll with it and whip out the sticky notes! Being itinerant can be difficult at times, but keeping my favorite tools in my bag has made teaching easier and less stressful.

Insta lesson ideas:


I love these…bright ideas…found at the Dollar Tree


Auditory discrimination

Letter and sound recognition



Practicing our speechreading and calendar skills.


Verb search from a story/auditory activity.

Matching games

Word scrambles


I can write what is needed quickly and I love that the kids love them. They are colorful, stick to the table and stick to eachother. My students love being able to manipulate them-depending on the activity.

I can take a simple sequencing activity and stretch it. Combining two goals in one simple activity.

Book Tabs & Tags

When reading a novel with students or even a picture book I always find vocabulary students don’t know. I tab the words in the book, so I can review and revisit. I like to write questions, predictions and inferences on a sticky and stick them on specific pages or on the inside cover to save for later. I write student responses as well. Sticking the questions on the pages to reflect on at a later date.

Haven’t finished yet…so far we love it. Book review in the future!

I love to have students use the sticky notes to record feelings or ideas they have during the reading or listening process.

This book is currently being read and tagged.

As you can see I love a sticky or post it note. I find them incredibly useful, convenient, portable and practical when teaching all ages of students. I think they are perfect for being on the go all day long.

What tools or materials do you always keep in your “tool bag”?

Drop me a line or comment. I would love to hear from you!

Backing Up & Slowing Down When Teaching Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children

Sometimes when I read an IEP and I try to build a picture, road map or plan of where I want to see a student go. This to me seems normal and makes my type A heart happy. I love a plan!

I know the IEP is not the whole child-no matter what is written in the pleps, but if people have been thorough and truthful it should be a solid picture of a student. I would like to think I do a good job putting an IEP together, but I know there is always room for improvement, better ways to phrase things or different perspectives to look at when writing.

Photo by Pixabay on

I recently saw a Facebook post of a teacher who was questioning a students abilities and progress. Not to expose to much of that story, but she had really great comments about the IEP not matching what she saw in her classroom. This got me thinking about what we write and what to do when the student in front of you doesn’t match with their document.

I think there are a few things to do.


Stop lesson planning for the moment.


Think of some ways to gather data and notes that can show where the student’s present level really is.

  • Language skills
  • Communication skills
  • Academic skills
  • Social skills
  • Advocacy skills
  • Recent audiogram


I would like to think many teachers are trying their best and think they have written an accurate report. Last year is over, look forward and breathe.

You can always ammend.

I think starting from now can go in two directions. The student may have less skills than reported or more. Maybe the IEP was accurate…students can regress or mature.  Either way the only way to make progress is be in the now.


Think about what needs to be addressed in the goals.

  • What is measurable?
  • Are you the only one able to collect and track the data? Sometimes this is the case, but think of how the team can work together.

Think about what is written in the PLEPs.

  • Does the IEP reflect the students present levels?
  • Are the needs/goals evident in the narrative?
  • Are there other things to work on that are not a specific goal? Not every need needs a goal.
  • Has parent feedback and concerns helped shape the narrative?

Once these things are looked and and adjusted start planning again. Now that you have a more accurate baseline it will be easier to plan and collect data.

Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom on


My latest book club meeting was fabulous. We had amazing conversations about the book and other things…hahaha. Of course we did. But seriously this book generated alot of conversation and new revelations.

I did not buy a physical book this time. I opted to listen via Amazon Audibles. I am still fairly new to this mode of “reading”, but I think after this book I might try it more often.

Any of the ladies who listened to the book felt it made the experience easier and added to the creep factor with this story. We felt hearing the two voices read the chapters helped us focus on the storyline and added another layer to the characters.

There were upsides to reading the physical book. Some ladies felt they could get through the pages quicker than listening and one woman said listening caused her to nod off and miss parts of the story. Which I think is a hoot! I know if I was nodding off it would be more difficult to “rewind” to where I drifted off, because I am a very visual learner and I can envision the page and the words when I need to go back to a book, but what I heard might prove to be more difficult.

This story was suspenseful and kept many of us guessing. Not much I can say….I don’t want to give the story away and I am by no means a book reviewer! However, I will say I felt like no one is a winner in this story and not one of the main characters has a good moral compass.

We had alot to say!!! I tried to keep my potty mouth on lock down. These characters sort of annoyed me.

Love meeting up with these ladies. There were gluten free brownies!!! I’ve posted it before, but I can not say it enough…I Love My Tribe.

Our next book is a bit different and seems like we won’t be biting our nails, but we are heading into Thanksgiving and it seems fitting to read something more emotional. Our host offered two options and we choose what we viewed as a bit more Hallmark.

Even the cover is Fall ready!!

I am still deciding of I am going to listen or read. I might poll my Instagram followers for an answer. That could be fun.

I’ll keep you posted on what I choose or what sort of response I get. If you have an opinion you can always send me some feedback!!!

Okay….so I did the poll

Barnes and Noble here I come!!!

Family Fun:Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium

This zoo and aquarium was a workout. Pittsburgh is a bit hilly and the zoo was too. We got a little cardio in and saw all the furry friends.

I am always a bit conflicted with zoos. When I see animals behind fences and glass I often feel a bit sad, but I try to think of the conservative aspect. There are zoo programs that are trying to save certain species. My deepest hope is everything living and breathing is well taken care of.

I would love to know what he was thinking…
This little red panda was very cute

I do love seeing an animal that I haven’t seen before. This little red panda was very cute and I don’t remember seeing one in person before.

Red Panda’s buddy
Black Rhino

The rhino was sort of hard to view, but that was ok. It does make me happy to know that people are trying to save these beautiful animals. They often make me think of baby dinosaurs.

Elephants are majestic

These beauties are my mini’s favorite animal. She loves them and could stand there all day watching them eat, bathe and interact with eachother.


The leopard was very lovely to see. I have seen a snow leopard before and this guy was just as impressive.


As you can see I took some inspiration from this gorgeous creature. These are fun little canvas sneakers I picked up. Cruelty free of course! I had to wear these.

Leopard Love

We definitely got our steps in. There were a couple of areas we didn’t explore….always leaving something for a future return.

The aquarium was our last stop before we ended our afternoon. It was nice to have it attached to the zoo. It wasn’t very large, so it was perfectly incorporated.

Getting some yoga on!

The seals were very playful and a bit vocal. I wish I could add in the video I took of theses “singers”. It made for a very amusing and interesting visit.

I think if you are ever in the Pittsburgh area and you have a few hours to kill and want to get in your steps, this is a fun and relaxing way to do both. We had a wonderful family time and made new memories.

My Partner in Everything
My Little Poser

There is one more post I am going to share about this long weekend…keep your eyes peeled if you are interested. I really love the Fall and just love it when we can get out and make memories.

Family Fun: Waterfront Walk and Lunch

After we finished touring the submarine and science center we decided to leave the car in the lot and walk along the river to lunch.

The weather was perfect and it was nice to take advantage. Soon we will be looking at snow…not my favorite, so I am living up these fabulous fall days.

My hubs picked some restaurant owned or named after a Pittsburgh Steeler. I am not a football aficionado, so the name ment nothing to me, but he was curious. We aren’t Steelers fans, but it was a Sunday and there were TVs everywhere with multiple games. He was happy.

Thank you Jerome

I was ecstatic when I asked for a gluten free menu. The very sweet server brought me the menu and then proceeded to explain that my meal would be prepared in a back kitchen and come out on a circular plate. They bring out all allergy meals on a round plate and the rest of the meals are served on square plates.

Chips and Queso….yes please!!!!

I was almost in shock that this was their level of service. I ate stress free and felt relaxed when ordering. I didn’t have to explain myself or apologize for all the menu questions.

Because I had NONE!!!!!

Pulled pork and fries….looks kinda blah…but it was good

If you are gluten free and in the Pittsburgh area I highly recommend stopping in for a snack, happy hour, or a meal.

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 the 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.