Sunday, December 16, 2012

Saturday, December 8, 2012

What the heck is a Liebster?

This morning I received a blog comment telling me that I had been nominated for a Liebster Award. What in the world? Then I began to think...
Hmmm, this sounded a bit familiar.

As I read through some previous comments, I discovered that in fact, another blogger had recently told me the same thing! Since it's rainy & gloomy outside and I just made a fresh cup of coffee, I decided to look into this whole Liebster thing. So glad I did, it's pretty neat!

The idea is: you are nominated by a fellow blogger. You write a blog post listing 11 random facts about yourself. You then answer the questions from the blogger who nominated you. Next, you develop 11 questions for the people you're going to nominate. What I really like is that you nominate 11 people with 200 blog followers or less and link them in your post. Being in the beginning stages of what I hope will be a successful blog, I can appreciate any networking tools that allow me to gain followers and get to find some great little blogs. 

I can't imagine teaching without blogging and internet resources! 

The sweet ladies that nominated me are on with the show!

11 Random Facts About Myself

1. I am an office supply junkie. Sharpies, post-its,'s ridiculous. I think this is one of the reasons I became a teacher! :)

2. I like almost anything banana flavored. 

3. I long to see western America. Not cowboy-western (although that would be cool), but the pacific northwest and California. I'm afraid I'll love it so much I would never come back home.

4. I wiggle my toes while I'm watching t.v. The more intense the show is becoming..the faster my toes go..I don't even notice weird!

5. I love old movies! Some of my favorites are Breakfast at Tiffany's, An Affair to Remember, The Snakepit, and Spencer's Mountain. 

6. I share a birthday with my 3rd grade teacher, Mrs Hachey. Each year I think about what she might be doing. She was the first teacher to expose me to Shel Silverstein's poetry. She read it with was really inspiring to me!

7. Speaking of childhood memories, my favorite childhood book is "One Morning in Maine" by Robert McCloskey.

8. I grew up in Maine. What an experience! Wouldn't trade it for anything!

9. I once met Duff Goldman (The Ace of Cakes) in a restaurant I worked at. I noticed him immediately. I waited until he was leaving and asked him for an autograph & menu. He signed it "Mmmm, Feta!" (our restaurant served Greek food). I have both the photo & menu page framed in my office at home.

10. I got to open a Big Boy Restaurant in Cairo, Egypt. Crazy, right!?! It was in 2000. I was there for 3 weeks. What a time! 

11. I'm gradually beginning to practice yoga. I really admire those who make it look easy! 

Whew! Okay, enough about least for that section! 

Since I was nominated by 2 fellow bloggers, I will respond to 6 of Lindsay's questions and 5 of Brittany's questions.  Here we go...

1. What made you decide to start blogging?
I decided to start a blog 2 summers ago. I was taking classes at a local college and our instructors were discussing all the great resources you could find on teaching blogs. We actually devoted an entire afternoon to finding and sharing great blogs. I signed up with blogger that summer but didn't do a whole lot. Last summer I got a new blog design and have since posted more regularly. I love it!

2. What was your first job?
The Golden Arches! I was 16- they hired my friend and I for the sumer. Minimum wage was $4.75!

3. How did you meet your oldest friend?
My oldest friend is named Heather. We met during the first week of Kindergarten. We lived on the same street. While waiting for the bus, our moms realized that they each had a 3/4 year old, and a newborn at home. Our families soon became friends...more like family. Those "newborns" are now 27 years old! 

5. What is your favorite dish to cook?
Hmmm, that's a good question because I LOVE to cook! I love to cook big meals for my friends & family.

6. Do you live near your hometown?
Well, kind of. I was born in a town 25 minutes away from where I live now. My Grandparents have always lived there and that's where I spent some summers as a kid. I grew up in central Maine, though, which is about 800 miles from where I live now!

..and now for Brittany's questions:

7. What is your favorite fast food restaurant?
Does Chipotle count? It IS pretty fast!

8. Complete this sentence... My classroom runs on love and ____________________. 
 LAUGHTER! My first-graders crack me up! 

9. How many siblings do you have?
I have 2 siblings. A brother and a sister. Both younger. Both unique, amazing people!

10. Mac or PC?
I go back & forth. I have an iphone, an ipod, and hopefully soon, an iPad. My computers at home & school are PCs. I expect that I'll be fully Mac before long. 

11. What was the last book you read? Do you recommend it?
 I've been such a reading slacker lately! In my defense, I'm working through my master's degree and it seems like the only books I'm picking up anymore are read-alouds to my class or textbooks for my graduate classes. Yesterday I read "Pete the Cat Saves Christmas" to my students, which they LOVED! If you don't know about Pete the Cat, check him out! He is AWESOME! 

 Geez, that's a lot about me! 

Okay, now on to the questions I created for my nominees!

1. Is there special significance behind your name?
2. How many grades have you taught?
3. Favorite song? Why?
4. Classroom pet?
5.  Favorite childhood book or character?
6. Favorite restaurant?
7. Favorite scent? This could be a real scent (my Grandma's kitchen) or a perfume.
8. Do you make your bed each day?
9. Words to live by?
10. How long have you been blogging?
11. Do you stay home or for the holidays?

Drumroll, please! My Liebster nominees are:

Friday, December 7, 2012

Freebie Friday Place Value Craftivity

It's FRIDAY! Hooray!

It's cold & rainy here in Ohio, but even rain won't get me down's Friday, and I"m SO glad! 9 more school days until break & it can't come soon enough!

To celebrate, I've created (with inspiration from my teaching partner-in-crime, Tristin) a place value craftivity that has students representing a number with "tens" and "ones" in a holiday light bulb. 

We did this activity last week in our first-grade classrooms and it was a hit! They look great in the hallway and brighten up our space! 

Grab one HERE

Thursday, December 6, 2012

December "Currently" and a Christmas Countdown

Although I have never met her, I think that Farley and I would be friends! She is so fun & charismatic, her students are lucky to have her for a teacher! I love the "currently" templates she puts out each month. 
What a neat idea!

Soooo, here is my December "currently"

The RAK (Random act of kindess) is the perfect feature for this time of year. I am always so inspired when I hear stories of people who truly capture the spirit of giving. I've really been trying to stress to my students that Christmas is more than presents and toys.

Speaking of students, are you counting down with your's yet? We have a paper chain of links that represent days of school left until break. We are down to 10 today! Woohoo! It's become a fun part of our morning routine.

Christmas break is also significant because it signifies that the school year is HALF over! The end of our 2nd grading period coiincides with this much-needed break. I plan to spend at least a whole day in my room over break getting things organized and ready for the second half of the year. 

I recently read that this is an exciting time of year becuause you can really see measureable growth in your students. It's so true! Although they're a wild little bunch- they are really becoming little learning machines! I'm seeing big gains in reading, math, and general school habits like staying organized & working independently. Does my heart good! 

Working on a Freebie Friday for tomorrow! Stop back & check it out!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Cyber Monday Sale on TPT

I know, I know...

Here I am, ranting about Black Friday this morning and how I'm just not cut out for all that madness, and now I'm squawking about Cyber Monday? 

Well, I want to promote the BIG sale going on at Teachers Pay Teachers Monday and Tuesday of next week. Even though I don't have a TON of stuff in my store, I'd like to participate!

Check it out!

Will you be shopping the TPT sale? As much as I will try to resist...I know that I'll be there, too!

Freebie Black Friday!

Did you head out early to get some great deals?

I keep toying with the idea of going Black Friday shopping, but in the end, I worry that the "Oh no, you DIDN'T" person in me will end up elbowing someone who pushes me or grabs something out of my hand. 

Hey, I'm a peaceful girl! I guess I'd rather pay a little more to shop in the daytime hours, usually as soon as the stores open, on a weekday if possible. My Mom & I are always a great Christmas shopping team!

In the spirit of numbers- saving money, keeping track of deals & prices...I have created a FREE Color-by-number words activity. 

Stop on over to my TPT Store and PICK IT UP!

Happy Black-Friday'ing! Have a GREAT Thanksgiving break!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Christmas Field Trip & Christmas Literacy Pack!

I've tried to resist it and just enjoy the last weeks of fall...but it's inevitable....Christmas is coming!

Yesterday my class took a field trip less than a mile away to learn about the Dicken's Victorian Village that has overtaken our downtown.  It is really neat. Mannequin displays portray scenes from the Victorian era in which Charles Dickens lived and became inspired to write "A Christmas Carol". Read the story of the Dicken's Victorian Village here.

 What's really cool is that beginning this year, local students have been invited to tour this charming village and learn about the history of the world in the times of Charles Dickens.

Dickens representatives brought us a bag of books, lesson plans, activity sheets, a movie, and a CD of Christmas music to be used in the weeks before our trip. There were 2 pop-up  books that were very exciting to my first-graders. We learned about jobs such as town crier and a chimney sweep. I was so proud of them when they could answer our guide's questions!

After our walking tour, we gathered together to learn about the games, songs, and toys that kept Victorian era children entertained. After we returned back to school I saw students playing "London Bridge" on the playground! We also learned about how these displays are put together. 

The display keeps growing each year and our little downtown is really thriving in the commerce! Not to mention that is really IS a charming place to be during the holidays! 

 We also have another holiday attraction...a musical, light-up courthouse show! It's great! You can listen to the music through your car stereo or get our and enjoy the show directly from the courthouse lawn. It's not uncommon to see little kids dancing to their favorite Christmas songs! 

Check out the light show HERE I said...whether I want to face it or not...Christmas is coming...and I may as well greet it with a smile! I've been working on my Christmas Literacy Activities Pack and finally finished it this morning!

Stop by Teachers Pay Teachers and pick it up!

Are you getting into the spirit of the season yet? 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Freebie Friday: Color by Number

Good Friday Morning!

This week I created some Thanksgiving-themed color by codes and I'm sharing one for Freebie Friday!

Grab this trotting turkey to keep your kiddos busy next week! We have lots of activities planned for the 3 days that we are in school next week and I plan to use this for those "early finishers" who are always looking for something to do while others are working.

Grab yours HERE

If you'd like more of these, check out my Thanksgiving Color by Code pack on TPT.

Enjoy your Friday! My class is heading on a field trip this morning...wish us luck!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Giving Thanks

Social media, as annoying and ridiculous as it sometimes is, can be kind of neat, too.

I'm really liking all of these "I'm thankful for..." posts I've been seeing. Maybe I'm just glad that they're not yet-another passive-aggressive rant or political statement. Maybe I'm feeling extra-thankful myself.

This post isn't about a cool recipe I've found (even though I AM working on a post for that!). It's not about a new item I've created for TPT (although I AM working on some of those, too!). It's simply to express a few things I'm very thankful for, today, and every day.
My family

 We are usually loud & crazy and all over the place. Whether I'm with family from my Mom or Dad's side- we are always laughing. I can definitely say that I got my sense of humor from my family!

I was so fortunate to have had both of my Grandfathers until my mid-twenties. The memories I have of both of these extraordinary men are precious and plentiful. My Grandpa G taught me how to fish, hunt for arrowheads, tend a garden, and fix things.  My Grandpa Bob was one of the sweetest, kindest, gentlemen you could ever know. A man strong in his convictions, he taught me to always do what was right and just. He always wore a wool cap and smelled of Aramis.

My Grandmothers are amazing, as well. My Mom's Mom is the family historian..she has kept a journal since she was 14 and has every one! If anyone in the family has a question about a date or event, they go to my Grandma Beck. My Dad's mother is the busiest 85 year-old I know! She is glamorous, driven, and always so happy to see everyone! Any fanciness I had growing up is from her. My cousins and I used to joke that she would chase us around only to put bows in our hair!

"A child needs a grandparent, anybody's grandparent, to grow a little more securely into an unfamiliar world" ~Charles and Ann Morse

My Job

I am so thankful to be able to do what I do. Teaching children is a joy. Seeing the progress they make over the span of a year is so gratifying and my 22 first-graders make me laugh every single day. They are eager to hear me explain things like place value and adjectives. They want to impress me with their writing and reading. I do my best to fill their days with love, learning, and laughter. I'm so lucky to be able to do this for a living. I truly believe it is what I was meant to do.

What are YOU thankful for? Meditate on that thought for a few minutes. It makes my heart smile.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Thanksgiving Literacy Unit

I just finished my first TPT pack! Last week I bought a TON of clip art from Scrappin Doodles and couldn't wait to make something fun! My goal is to make things for TPT that I will actually use in my classroom. I definitely think this project fits the bill! I made each item in color and black and white, too!

This literacy pack includes:
16 Thanksgiving-themed word wall cards
3 Thanksgiving acrostic poem frames
(color and b&w)
3 Thanksgiving writing prompts
(color, b&w, and no-graphics versions)
6 Thanksgiving-themed writing papers
(color and b&W)
3 Thanksgiving Venn diagrams
2 Thanksgiving are-have-can graphic organizers (color and b&W)
Thanksgiving Word Scramble
The next couple of weeks of school are super crazy for us and I think these activities will be a great way to practice writing, sentence building, and organizing information. 

ALSO: The folks over at Blog Hoppin are having a sweet giveaway!

Check it out for your chance to win some sweet  Thanksgiving stuff!


Friday, November 9, 2012

Freebie Friday! Thanksgiving acrostic poem frame

Oh.Yes! Today is Friday!

Has anyone else had some NUTSO weeks at school here, lately? I am SO thankful for a couple of long weekends coming up! The weather is supposed to be gorgeous this weekend and I plan to take advantage!

I bought some new clip art this week & have been excited to make some stuff! Here's a Thanksgiving Friday Freebie- an acrostic poem frame! My students are learning about adjectives and this is a fun way to brainstorm a big list of words that remind them of thanksgiving and being thankful. I"m also in the process of creating a Thanksgiving Literacy unit. I hope to have it finished by the beginning of next week- which is probably when I will start using it in my room!

Get it HERE

Grab your freebie and go out & enjoy the weekend!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

November "Currently"

It's November?!? What?!?

Time is a flyin' and I'm hanging on for the ride! We just had our first set of parent-teacher conferences this past week and I'm glad to say that they went very well! It's nice to be able to tell my students' parents about all the fantastic things they are doing! I made a point to be super-positive for these conferences and I'm so glad I did! Parents were thrilled and hopefully went home and told their kids how proud they were!

Sweet Farley over at Oh Boy 4th Grade has just released her November "Currently" template and it's so cute! I've begun to look forward to these every month!
Participating in these has been a fun way to meet fellow bloggers & check out their pages! 
There is so much great stuff out there!

Here's to a great November!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

DIY Japanese Steakhouse Dinner

I'm seriously stoked today!

While it might not seem like a big feat to some, I'm SUPERFLY PUMPED to find that I've successfully re-created something that I love from a restaurant. Have you ever had that tasty sauce that's served at Japanese Steakhouses? Sometimes they call it Yum-Yum Sauce. Sometimes it's Sexy Sauce. Any other names where you eat?

It's the kind of sauce that's pretty much good on most anything you can eat there. When we head to Genji, Fusion or Ichiban, our favorite meal includes a combination of filet mignon & grilled chicken, hibachi-style rice and stir-fried veggies. While I won't be making any flaming onion volcanoes or flipping eggs into my hat, I AM going to try to recreate the entire meal we love so much at dinner tonight. The entertainment I will provide will most likely consist of spontaneous "break-it-down" moments as I listen to Pandora while I'm cooking........hehe.

MANY THANKS to my cousin Britni from Our Eventual Homestead who blogged about this last-spring. (Check out her blog! Her organization, goal-setting dedication, and resourcefulness methods are inspiring!) I'm using the same recipe that was in her blog post. It's so good! Try it out! Don't be surprised if you want to double the recipe next time! Since it's called something different everywhere we go, I think I'll make my own name for this crazy-tasty stuff: 
Don't let the name fool you- no flies are included in this sauce. :)

Superfly Sauce

1 c. mayonnaise
1/4 c. water
1 tsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. melted butter
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. paprika
dash of cayenne pepper

Whisk all ingredients in a bowl until you reach desired consistency. I like it a little thinner but depending on what you're using it for, you may like it a little thicker. REFRIGERATE OVERNIGHT!  This is important so the flavors can meet & get to know each other (channeling my inner Anne-Burrell, here). Seriously though, let it sit. Since the hibachi chefs also use COLD rice to make the fried rice, if you're going for the gusto, you may as well make your rice the night before, too, since you're already in the kitchen. AAAAND...since you're already making the sauce and the rice, you might as well prep your veggies for the stir-fry. I used zucchini, squash, carrots & onions. I'll probably throw some peas in there, too. You'll be glad you prepped it all when it's time to prepare the food, I promise! When I make the dinner tonight, I'll only have to put it all together! 

*This is a 2-part post because I'm writing this first part before the actual preparation of the meal. I'll take a few photos & report on the level of actual recreation success after the meal's completion.

*Post-Dinner Update:

 SUCCESS! Woo-Hoo!

It turned out REALLY good! Like, high-five-in-the-middle-of-dinner good!

 I let the rice cool in the fridge like it said and it didn't get all mushy like fried rice sometimes does. I must admit, I had Billy helping me on skillets since I had 3 on at one time and everything was ready at once. To his credit, the veggies & filet were phenomenal!

For the rice I used:

cooked, cooled, rice (I think I used Basmati rice)
garlic powder
soy sauce
2 eggs

Scramble eggs in hot skillet. Add cooled rice. Mix & season with garlic powder and soy sauce. I felt like I used a lot but I think it could have stood to have more added. Be generous, folks!


Couldn't be simpler. Again. Just cook in a hot pan (or wok, like I did)
Add garlic powder & soy sauce to season.

Meat (or seafood, although I don't eat seafood & have no idea how to cook it)
Cook in hot pan (or little skillet like I did)
Season guessed it...garlic powder & soy sauce.

* It might be a good idea to use a low-sodium soy sauce since there's a bunch in there if you're concerned with sodium intake.

Top it all off with the SUPERFLY SAUCE that I made last night and dinner is served!


I probably could have wiped the plate's edges clean but I was in a hurry to eat! :)

Okay, folks! You've got all the information you need! Get up & make this!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Read for the Record

Did you read for the record today? My first grade class had so much fun being paired up with a fourth-grade class from our building. While the ladybug girl book was probably a little too primary for the fourth-graders, they listened attentively & did a fantastic job of helping my first-graders with a glyph after the book was finished!

It's so fun to pair up with different classes for activities like this. I'm so glad we had the opportunity.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

October Currently!

Oh my, do I love that Farley! I look forward to her "Currently" each month and love to read what others are thinking around the blogosphere! Her October design is adorable! Bloggers: head on over to get your currently and link up!
Here's my "Currently" for October! Hopefully it hangs around a little quicker than September! Man, that month FLEW by!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

It's Fall, Y'all!

“Autumn...the year's last, loveliest smile.”
-William Cullen Bryant

Last weekend we celebrated the first official week of fall with a Sunday afternoon hike at Salt Fork State Park. It was a beautiful afternoon and despite not feeling 100%, my husband decided to go, too. We also brought our 4-legged pal, Casey along for the hike. He's a bit hyper and can use all the tire-ing out we can give him!

We decided to hike the Stone House trail which runs beside the lake and eventually leads you to the Kennedy Stone House: a restored home in the park from the 1840's.

Salt Fork was built in the 1960's. Before that time, many families and farms resided on the land. When the park was built, many people's homes and properties were torn down or flooded to make room for the construction of Salt Fork lake. For a long time, the Kennedy house stood in serious disrepair. Fortunately, a local citizen began a coalition to revive and restore this home and it's now a popular tourist destination within the park. You can walk to the Stone House or drive. This time of year is great for walking the trail since the bugs are at a minimum and the lake views with the changing tree leaves are pretty fantastic.

While I was there I also got a tour of the inside of the home from the sweet docents working that afternoon.  It was so interesting to hear the stories and see the pictures of how the land used to look before the creation of the park. An old root cellar is still intact on the property, too.

A beautiful patchwork quilt.

The Kennedy family originally raised Merino sheep for their wool.

As we hiked I also got some neat panoramic shots with my iPhone. The new iOS update gave my phone's camera the option to take panoramic photos. I'm pretty impressed with my first attempts.

 On our hike back I saw a little trail that headed down through a little meadow and down by the water. Curiously, I followed the trail and found the NEATEST things!

Check out the bend in that little tree :)

Check out those weird pine tree roots! Why are they like that? I really want to know!

My thought is that they are usually under water. Maybe the roots, while underwater, grow towards the sun? 
C'mon science-y, nature-y pals! I need Bill Nye or Mr. Wizard to help me out with this!

Sometimes I forget that fun adventures can be had without straying too far from home. I'm excited to get out in the park this afternoon to see how the leaves have changed. Fortunately, there are more hiking trails to explore & today we'll take a different route. 

What are YOU doing to celebrate the season? It's my favorite time of the year!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Fire Drills

This week we had an unexpected fire drill...even the Principal and secretaries were caught by surprise!

Our school hosts a mobile food pantry each month which is a wonderful service in which local qualifying residents can receive food for free. It's an excellent program and after a somewhat slow start, it's grown substantially. A member of the community was waiting in line in our gym and was holding a baby. The shiny red fire alarm handle must have caught the baby's eye because all of a sudden, the alarm was pulled, and we were heading the misting rain.

As we stood outside and checked in with our fire drill checkers, we began to hear the sirens...the fire department was on their way!

The fire department is a fairly short distance from my school so we were practically able to hear them leave the station and head our way. It became a TEACHABLE moment as the students began to look a bit frightened and confused.

I assured my students that this was, indeed, a drill and WOW! Look how fast the fire department responded! My student nodded in agreement and whispered "They are SO fast!"  

The trucks showed up, checked in with our Principal, and were swiftly on their way back to the station. It made me feel so good to know that if there ever WAS a fire or an emergency at our school, they would be there in a flash!

Remarkably, as exciting as that was, we were able to fall right back in to what we were doing before the drill. Our Principal came over the intercom to let us know what happened and to reaffirm that we were so thankful for these quick responders.

Although we have practiced fire drills a couple of times, I think I'm also going to show my students this presentation to help reinforce what to do.

As a side note: one of my students who has a particularly hard time with fire drills was able to participate in the drill BEAUTIFULLY! I'm so proud of this little guy and the progress he has made!

Do you have any tips for reinforcing fire drill procedures?