Saturday, November 16, 2013

Christmas Helpers {winner}

Just a quick post tonight because Marlee's great-grandma is on her way to meet her. :) But I wanted to announce the winner of my Christmas unit giveaway!  And it is...

Breanne Simons!  {Leave me your email and I'll send it right over!}

Thanks to all who pinned the unit. I can't wait to get out my elf - I mean, Santa's helper - when I go back in  December! ;)

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Christmas Unit {giveaway}

I have to admit, I am missing being at work just a bit.  I mean, I'm obviously loving sleeping until it's time to watch Kelly Ripa and hanging out with this beautiful girl all day {shameless bragging here} but I'm just the teensiest bit sad to be missing these months...fall into winter is my favorite time of the year!

{photo credit: The Beautiful Mess}

Because Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, I can't skip over it and go straight to Christmas.  So remember to download my Pilgrim & Native American unit for some fun this month and check out the other Thanksgiving freebies previously posted.

Ok, now that I've honored the pilgrims, we can move on.  ;)  I previously created a unit to go along with that tradition of Santa's elf coming down from the North Pole to know, the one that sits in a certain place that rhymes with elf and is all over Pinterest {if you get where I'm going here} but I was asked to take it down due to copyright infringement.  {Side note: It is a super bummer that so many children's book authors don't want us teachers to create related follow-up activities.  Um, helloooo...we're making your book more popular which will increase sales.  Who's losing in this deal?!}  Anyway, rant over.  Many of you have asked where "that unit" went and I happy to say that it has been tweaked, renamed & is back up!

If you would like to read a book about "Santa's Helpers" to your students, this is a fabulous follow-up unit.  There are enough journal pages to use it for writing for a few weeks leading up to your Christmas break or you can print single pages as you please and add them to your literacy or writing lessons.  Since this unit is not affiliated with any particular book, there is no additional work required to use the unit in your classroom or at home so it can be a stand alone activity without any other materials required.  Although a pencil, crayons, some Christmas spirit and Mariah Carey's All I Want for Christmas is You would all be nice additions.

Since I miss talking with all of you I'm giving the unit away.  All you have to do is pin the "Being Santa's Helper" unit on Pinterest & leave the link to your board in the comments!  You can pin it from here or my TeachersPayTeachers store, however you like to organize your pins.  :)  I'll pick a winner on Saturday, November 16th.

Until then, happy teaching & pinning my dears!  :)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Little Glamour Baby has ARRIVED

Or did you already figure that out because I haven't posted in a few weeks?!  :)  Since I'm on maternity leave I have no academic tips or fun downloads for you today.  But if you're interested in meeting our sweet girl, I have hundreds of pictures.  Already.  In 3 short weeks!  Here's just a couple:

Promise me you'll return to keep reading and I promise to come back with new, great things!  I'm just going to take full advantage of my time off to spend with this sweet face before getting back into the kindergarten routine.

Lots of love from all 3 of us!

Saturday, September 07, 2013

September Homework Calendar

Happy's finally Little Glamour Baby month!!!  I don't think I ever seriously thought that my stomach could get this big...

And while I wait for my little miracle, I also have a fun gift for you!  I volunteered to do our team's homework calendar this year and once I sat down to start writing it up, I figured I may as well make it good...and cute...and meet Common Core objectives.  And if it's going to be that good, I may as well share it, right?!  ;)

I only have September done for now because I've been at the computer all day & need to start helping my husband with the housework.  :)  Since I'm technically a week late, it's yours for free!  Either send it as is or just white out last week before making the copies if you don't want to send it with homework tasks for past dates.
{click to download}
We aren't sending ours home until this week after our Curriculum Night {Open House} which is why I didn't get it to you sooner.  I also assigned our weekly sight words in the Sunday column but didn't want that to prevent any of you from using it because I know our words {and holiday breaks} are likely not the same for the year.  You can always write yours in before copying, though!

I'm hoping to get the rest of the year put together soon so I get the whole packet to you soon.  However, that is all up in the air for now.  This baby is due on, 2 days from while I would love to get it put together & make it available soon...just stay tuned & don't get upset if it only comes out month to month, okay?!  ;)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

5 {easy} ways to develop early reading skills

When I was asked to write a guest post at What to Expect I laughed out loud. Hello! This is my first pregnancy. I have NO idea what to expect and certainly don't have any pearls of wisdom to share with other pregnant ladies!  Luckily, they were looking for a post on academics. Whew!  THAT I can do!
{click for the article}
I wrote up my tips for developing early literacy skills at home with toddlers and pre-schoolers but think it is totally applicable for young readers, too. I'm going to send the list home with my families so they have an easy place to start the conversations of literacy at home.  Please pass along the link or print it out for your open house if you find it beneficial as well!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Carson Dellosa Winner & Classroom Pics

Yep, I moved again this year.  While I loved pretty much everything about my room last year, it was in the 5th grade hall and left me a little disconnected from my team.  So this year I'm down in the kindergarten hall & had the chance to start over with a new classroom set up!  {see the positive attitude I chose to use there instead of dwelling on the fact that I had to move everything...again...while pregnant??}  ;)

Today was my first day.  The room isn't perfect but it's ready to roll for whenever baby girl arrives and I have to peace out!  Here's a few snapshots...

{view from the back of the room}
{front door & behavior clip chart}
{writing center}
{listening center & computer station}
{guided reading table}
{SUPER organized guided reading pumped about this!!}
{ginormous library for lots of reading}
{calendar & math board...will be added to throughout the year}
{teacher area hiding behind magnet center & unfinished work pockets}

And the winner of the fabulous Carson Dellosa giveaway...

Congratulations Sara!  Check your email!!  :)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Carson-Dellosa Common Core {giveaway}

That's right!  3 amazing things in one post.  I know, I almost can't believe it myself.  But I do have a brand-new Carson Dellosa product to share with you, it is aligned to the Common Core and one of you will win it for your very own!  To shake things up a little bit, watch this for details:

Ha!  I hope you liked my video post.  I thought it was super fun and if you guys agree I'll have to do those more often!!  :)'s the Giveaway Details:

{to enter}
*Follow this blog using either Google Friend Connect {over there on the left under "Fellow Fashionistas"} or on Blog Lovin' {the next little button down with the blue + sign}
*Leave a comment below to let me know which prize you would choose!  {math or literacy & which grade level you need}

That's it!  I'll pick a winner on August 26th when I get home from my 1st day of school!!

Monday, August 12, 2013

All About the me!

Blog Hoppin' is hosting a week of fun teacher Linky parties.  It would be great to say that I'll be linking up all week...but let's just start with Day 1, okay??  Know that if I miss a day, it's because we are officially back to work this week with the first all day meeting tomorrow...

This linky is my favorite type because it's really open ended...just sharing about ourselves!  Here are some things {that I haven't already told you} you may be surprised to know:

1. I can not stand the sound of metal touching.  I have the heebie jeebies just from posting this picture.

2. I am a {recovering} perfectionist and tend to shy away from even minor tasks if they seem overwhelming.  This is why my closet always has clothes on the floor, I go months between work-outs and I buy project supplies way before I actually get around to completing them.

3. I honestly, truly believe that if I ever had the chance to meet Kelly Ripa we would become instant BFFs.

4. I do not like being underwater.  I hold my breath in the shower & when washing off my makeup.  I am so excited that this picture looks cool because I was not breathing.

5. I think that I am hilarious.  :)  {and I laugh at my own jokes.}

6. I think my sister & I would be even more entertaining than the Kardashians.

7. I have a love-hate relationship with commercials.  I either find them extremely amusing {like the receent AT&T commercials} or I am super bummed that they're boring.  One or the other.

8. I can not watch the news because I cry at the horrible stories.  I would much rather hear about inspiring stories and can't figure out why TV stations don't focus more on those.

9. I will eat anything once.

10. I think if everyone set out every day to have a little more consideration of others the world would be a much better place to live.

That's it!  If you want to play along, as much as you are able to, click the button below to join in!  :)
P.S. Major giveaway announcement coming up.  $40 retail value.  See you tomorrow for details!!!  ;)

Sunday, August 04, 2013


Whew!  What a summer it has been.  Mostly good, entirely busy.  I decided to work part-time this summer even though we have so much baby stuff to get done.  {partly to help supplement the cost of all of said baby stuff!} Plus throwing in doctor appointments every 2 weeks, birthing classes, the hospital tour, showers, and my ever-growing radio career twice a week {ha!} and the weeks have flown by.  Not one thing on my school or blog to-do list has been crossed off.  Not ONE.  I'm gonna keep telling myself that it was a good thing for me to take a true break from school for a little while even though the realization of that fact actually makes the anxiety creep up my throat...

For today, it's Currently time with Farley!

Listening: Yep, the stress of school has set in.  Probably because I know I haven't worked on anything all summer.  And I had to move classrooms in June so I'm starting at square one again with set up & organization.  And I'm due after only 2 weeks of school.  Maybe I should stop thinking and just sit here for a minute & listen...  Moving on!!

Loving: There has been so much rain & so many cloudy days this summer that we've hardly been able to utilize my parents' pool.  I gotta get over there in a bit!

Thinking: Yep, I'm due September 9th.  While I am ecstatic and can not wait to meet her, it is also a little unnerving knowing that she will be here in a month-ish.  Saying that I'm 35 weeks along somehow doesn't seem as soon as saying that I'm due in 36 days...  Ahhh!!  So exciting.  But still so much to do.

Wanting: Who moves a pregnant lady?  Seriously!  But my new room is on the kindergarten hall, instead of in 5th grade where I was last year, so that's a definite bonus.  Pics are coming once I can get in & get going!!

Needing: A few more weeks of summer.  But who doesn't??  ;)

B2S Must-Haves: My school calendar/planner becomes my life.  Ev-ery-thing goes in there.  Everything.  So I need one with lots of good space.  I randomly picked up a Greenroom planner from Target last year & loved it.  So I got another one this year & can't wait to start filling it up!!!!  :)

A good attitude is a must.  I surprised myself with this one, actually, because there is almost nothing that I love more than the beginning of the year.  But being on a new team at a new school last year really threw me for a loop and I probably had one of my worst years {personally...not having anything to do with the kids} because it was so much harder to work with new people than I ever imagined.  {I partly blame the amazing teammates & coworkers I was surrounded with for the previous 8 years because they set the bar impossibly high for friendship, collaboration & sense of true teamwork.}  Looking ahead to this year, I'm hopeful for a better connection with my teammates but also know that it will take work on my part to not give up & keep thinking of new, creative ways to reach out and try to build bonds even if my efforts go unnoticed.  So my prayer for this year is a continued positive attitude and that even if I get discouraged, I will be able to find the strength to keep trying!!

Deanna Jump's Common Core posters saved my life last year.  Yes, they are a little pricier than what I typically spend on TpT items, but there is most likely a Back to School sale coming up so put them on your wishlist & let them hang out for a little bit.  ;)  Print, cut, laminate & hang.  These were so much easier than trying look up the standards to write on the board.  I put velcro on mine & it takes literally seconds to change them out.

Since I've been so MIA for the summer, here are 2 posts you can look forward to before the end of the month - a pregnancy/baby update with nursery & maternity photos and a post of my favorite lessons, activities, etc for starting the school year.  I am saying this with confidence because I've already started working on them can trust me!!  ;)  Here's a sneak peek from our babymoon at the beach last week.

Enjoy the rest of your summer friends!  I'm praying you all find some divine relaxation, patience & strength in the coming weeks!!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Little Glamour Baby...famous already.

Can I just confess that I have done NOTHING school-related this summer?  nothing.  Haven't cut laminating, haven't made any new units {sorry!}...I haven't even unpacked my teacher bag from the last day of school!!  I feel a little guilty, but I also know I need to put some priority on getting the nursery together before Little Glamour Baby comes.  It's just so weird not putting school projects first on the to-do list!

Along the lines of baby focus, hubs & I had a super fun morning...we got go on the air with our favorite syndicated morning show, Ace & TJ!  It's a random story but I've listened to them for almost a decade and after liking their Facebook page, TJ and I somehow became Facebook friends and he started sending me messages about how excited we looked to have our first baby, etc.

The next thing I know, they're doing a segment on the radio about people you cyber-stalk and they start talking about how TJ is cyber stalking us!  Hilarious.  Well, people start calling in and emailing the show to see what's going on and if "that couple has had their baby yet" so now it's become a full-on segment and they've adopted us to follow the pregnancy until she's born!  :)

If you've ever been curious about my voice or what I sound like, you can listen to our radio debut here, starting around the 8 minute mark.  {And yes, I sound like that all of the time.  I don't have a cold, just a nice, raspy voice!}
{My 20 minutes of fame as a radio girl.  Click the pic to listen.}
I hope you're all having some fun adventures this summer, too!  My "last free summer" has turned into one of the busiest ones yet {how does that happen?!} but I'm still hoping to work in some new school projects when I find the time between setting up the nursery, washing baby clothes, etc.  Thanks for sticking with me and being loyal readers!  ;)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Kindergarten Readiness. Is there a skill set to measure?!

As I was browsing Pinterest last night, looking for good mommy-daughter ideas & tips on being a super fun mom, I came across this list of 71 Things Your Child Needs to Know before entering Kindergarten.
Out of curiosity, I read it.  But I'm not so sure this is a list I'd pass around to rising kinder parents.  There were some good skills to practice like asking for help, transitioning between activities, interacting with others and showing meaning through pictures.

As far as academics are concerned, this list suggests that children should be able to recognize & match all 52 letters {26 capital & 26 lowercase}, identify numbers 1-10 and count to 20.  It also suggests that children should be able to demonstrate skills requiring prior knowledge in color, shape & size.

I don't know about you, but that is not the norm in my classroom.

As a child's first teacher, I have to say that one of the biggest missing links in our education system is the lack of benchmark for kindergarten readiness.  Should they have alphabetic knowledge?  Should they be able to recognize or write their own name?  Should they able to count and work with amounts?  Or all these all skills that we as kindergarten teachers are expected to teach them?  It used to be that kindergarten was the place we taught the basics and if our kids didn't come in knowing anything, we opened our arms for a welcoming hug, gave them a smile and were thilled to start with a blank slate, imparting as much knowledge as we could from day 1.  At the end of the year when those children demonstrated growth and were able to read simple sentences, we would marvel {and probably cry} at how much they had learned and the progress they had made in our classrooms.

Currently, if we don't take those blank-slate children through multiple reading levels where they are using higher level strategies, reading blends & dipthongs and comprehending books with 100+ words independently, they don't meet our EOY {end of year} benchmarks.  Do our policymakers and government officials really know what that means?  It means they fail.  It means that all of their progress of learning letters and sounds, learning to decode and break apart words, blending sounds together, identifying high frequency words, pulling meaning from picture & context clues and choosing appropriate reading strategies to figure out new words is not enough.  That regardless of all of the work they did, coming to school excited to learn everything, it is not good enough for us.  While we may not be able to do anything about our report cards or test scores, I refuse to reflect that value system onto my kids.  What they accomplish in a year is incredible and deserved to be recognized, regardless of where that year's growth falls on the very wide spectrum of scores.

The problem is that we don't have a level playing field.  We have kids come in who already exhibit reading skills sitting next to peers who have never picked up a pencil, book or pair of scissors.  With Common Core, emphasis on test scores and competition in education pushing benchmarks higher and higher with each coming school year, we are so focused on an ending point that we are forgetting where our children are starting from.  And I don't mean the BOY {beginning of year} assessments that most elementary teachers are required to give each fall.  I mean where they're really starting from.  As in, Day 1 of Kindergarten.  The only requirement to enter kindergarten is a child's age.  That leaves everything else - all skill levels - wide open.

Now, please don't misunderstand me.  I am not at all trying to say that my job should be made easier or make this about the work load of teachers.  In a flat-out, patting myself on the back gesture, I know that I kick you-know-what at this job because I work that same body part off day after day to jump through hoops, finish paperwork, read about new policies and implement new programs.  Once I finally have that check-list narrowed down {because it's never ending} I use whatever time I have left at home, after spending some time with my family, to actually plan lessons and activities for the classroom.  And I love my kids.  And I love teaching my kids.  It's just feels as though we've lost that as the focus in the mumble jumble of everything else.  If we really want to measure the growth of our children, we need to know where they're starting and think about doing something to level the playing field.

Maybe that means investing more money into pre-K programs.  Maybe it means implementing classes to teach parents how to work with their children at home.  As a teacher, I'll start using academic vocabulary with my daughter the day that she's born because it just comes naturally to me to talk about colors and communicate even in the most mundane daily activities.  But we all know that's not the case with parents across the board.  And it doesn't make them bad parents and it isn't their fault.  {Please hear me here.}  But we can't expect all children to come to kindergarten with a background of academics if we don't show parents how to start those conversations at home.

It's been made apparent that our opinions don't count for much at the district, state and national levels but luckily, some of our parents still value our experience and knowledge.  So, like with much of everything else we'll face this school year, it has to begin with us.  What do you think is missing?  What do you think is important for students to know when they enter your classroom?  And if you have simple strategies on how families can do that at home, feel free to list them!  Let's come up with our own list - for we truly are the experts - that we can pass out to your rising kindergarten families.

Thanks for listening to my rambling and please do chime in with your thoughts.  For now, I'm back to Pinterest to make some Dunkaroo dip to snack on while I spray paint frames for baby girl's nursery.  :)

Monday, July 01, 2013

July Currently & a winner!

Happy July friends!!  In case you're wondering why your screen or Google blog page looks different today, remember that Google Reader is going away today.  But you can still follow along...just transfer over & follow me on Bloglovin!
Follow on Bloglovin

It's also July 1st so it's currently time with Farley!

Listening: I love this album.  It's so jazzy & big band.  I love it.

Loving: I have really done a great job of restraining myself from buying every little outfit I've seen but I have broken down a few times when I see a good deal on latest obsession, I know.  How cute will little Glamour Girl be in this outfit next July 4th?!  Stop it.  So cute!!

Thinking: Hubs & I usually end up at the beach in the summer but at 30 weeks pregnant I can't really lay out all day in the sun & drink fun beachy drinks.  :)  We want to go somewhere we can drive to, where we haven't been, with fun things to do, but not spend a lot of money.  Maybe that's why we're still trying to find a place that meets those criteria!

Wanting: I am 30 years old and I am a hair virgin.  No color, no highlights, no sun-in.  Not even kool-aid or lemon juice has touched these locks.  But I broke down today & got a color rinse put on because my gray comes in all in one place and my skunk stripe is getting OUT of control.  I was super anxious & almost cancelled but my friend did such a fabulous job and I am so so happy.  I didn't tell Hubs that I was going to see her because I want his honest reaction.  And it's so natural looking I'm wondering if he'll even notice!!  :)  I'm so relieved!!!
{must-have bathroom mirror before & after pic}
Needing:  I'm working on a new vocabulary tool to help teaching writing.  But I need more clipart...and theme ideas!  I've done farm & ocean so far.  What else would you like to see?  And if you have a favorite clipart seller {or you make your own!} consider this your opportunity to shamelessly promote the link in the comments.  :)

Blogging & Selling Tip: Don't compare yourself to others.  It's as simple as that.  It is so easy for me to look at other blogs, see how many followers they have, read about how much they're making on TeachersPayTeachers, etc and put pressure on myself to do the same.  But I didn't start this blog to compete with others.  I started it to push myself to be a better, more creative educator and to share what I make with others, hopefully to give other teachers a break & save them some lesson planning time.  When I write & create for myself, I get better feedback & have more fun with blogging.  When I try to force a post or product, it never goes over well.  So if you have a blog or store, my tip is just to remember why you started and don't let the success of others make you feel inadequate {or super jealous, which can also be hard!}, just be happy for them & post when and what you want!  At the end of the day, it's really just me & my keyboard, so it doesn't need to become one more thing I feel pressured to do.

The winner from my quick giveaway is Ashlynn!  You get any item of your choosing from my TeachersPayTeachers store so have a look and let me know what you choose!  :)  Follow me on Bloglovin & Facebook so you don't miss the next opportunity.

Have a safe & happy holiday & check out my post from last summer if you're looking for fun July 4th ideas for you or your kiddos!

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