Tuesday, December 31, 2013

In Memory of My Mom

This is an extremely hard post for me to write.  I haven't blogged in a few weeks.  There was no time. And then there were no words. And now I have decided that I need some type of closure on these pages to continue. After all, I've transitioned to unknown territory.  I created this blog to help inspire, encourage, and give ideas to teachers who are in the trenches everyday with our youngest students.  And if you have read my blog for any amount of time, you know that my own 3 children inspired me so much in my teaching philosophy.  But I don't think I ever shared who is "the wind beneath my wings."  My mother was my role model for wanting to work with children.  She loved working with children more than anything.  She was calm, patient, loving, creative, and inspiring.  And for that, I am so grateful that God chose her to be my Mom.      

My mother passed away on Saturday, December 21, 2013 from cancer.  She dedicated her whole life to taking care of others from caring for children with special needs, to creating a children's church program for over 30 years, to running a home daycare, to working in missions in Mexico, to being a "grandma" to over 1000 children as a foster grandparent at an early childhood school for PreK students. In fact, at the age of 79, she volunteered in 5 PreK classrooms each week for 6 hours a day, working with students and just being "Grandma Ruth" to those children who needed a little extra care, time, and assistance - even as she began radiation for tumors in her brain.  Even though I struggled with her desire to continue working with children as she fought her battle, I had to respect and admire her decision to continue making the difference in the lives of countless little children.

So as sad as I am that she is now gone, I am happy with the legacy she left behind. I will continue that legacy.  She would tell me to keep on making a difference.  Keep on caring for others.  Keep on being a cheerleader and advocate for those who take care of our children.  For in fact, she was the biggest cheerleader in my life for becoming a teacher.  I was the first in my family to graduate from college.  She cheered me on.  I had a child born with special needs.  She cheered me on. I myself was diagnosed with cancer 20 years ago.  She cheered me on.  I finally graduated with my degree as an early childhood teacher.  She cheered me on.  I became a National Board Certified Teacher.  She cheered me on.  I graduated with my master's degree in special education.  She cheered me on.  I decided to record my own songs for children.  She cheered me on.  I decided to start presenting at national conferences.  She cheered me on (even though she disliked me flying "all over the place").  Her last words to me were "I love you so, so much.  You are so beautiful.  Will you be good?"  Yes, Mom.  I will be good.  I will miss you. But I will continue on knowing you are still cheering me on in heaven.

Mom, I love you dearly.  I thank God that he chose you to be my mother.  I thank God for the many, many children who were able to call you "Grandma Ruth." And I thank God that he gave me the same passion.  After all, I had the greatest role model.

Happy New Year to my many  "blogging friends" and to those who also make a difference in the lives of children.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Random Acts of Kindness

I've been away from my blog for a few weeks.  My mother is battling terminal cancer.  Needless to say, its been a very hard 3 weeks.  But I wanted to post a picture and a video in memory of the lives lost one year ago today at Sandy Hook Elementary.  It is the community's wish that we perform random acts of kindness today and every day in their memory. So when you are out today with the busy holiday season, remember the children and help someone in their memory.  The video below is beautiful and a wonderful tribute to young life lost.  Evil did not win.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Building Math Concepts with the Elves

Twas the night before Thanksgiving, and I am giving away a Christmas FREEBIE.  I know I should wait until after Thanksgiving, but I can't.  Happy Thanksgiving and here's a little pre-holiday cheer.  Click HERE to get your FREEBIE.
There are 4 different options included with this activity packet.  Use the option that best fits your students' needs.  You can use Lego's or snap cubes.  I prefer to use Lego's because they stack easily and stand securely.   This activity packet works on number recognition, cardinality, building sets, addition, comparing sets, and ordering length.  You can choose the color version or I provided a black & white option too.

Get your "little elves" stacking presents and building math concepts after Thanksgiving break.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Thanksgiving Coloring FREEBIE

I made this quick FREEBIE for those of you that have to work this week. Hopefully you only have a 2 day work week.  The students color the turkey according to the color words. Click on the picture for the link.  

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Julia Cook Blog Hop and a FREEBIE

What's my blog topic today?  JULIA COOK books!  She has to be one of my favorite authors.  I thought I owned everyone of her books, but it looks like there are a couple more that I need to buy.  Why do I like her books?  They are REAL!  They are RELEVANT! They help me TEACH social skills to my students.  These social skills are crucial to classroom management, which also impacts academic learning.

I am joining up with Laura Candler at Corkboard Connections for a blog hop about Julia's wonderful books.  So which book did I choose? Personal Space Camp!  How many of you have students or your own children who need to learn about staying in their space? ME!!! Actually, most children do at one time or another.

Julia takes this learning opportunity to introduce us to Louis, a space expert.  He loves learning about space.  The only problem is that he has a hard time recognizing personal boundaries and staying in his own space.  However, his school has a solution for situations just like this:  SPACE CAMP!  And Louis is so excited that he is going to space camp after his teacher refers him to it.

Julia takes us through Louis' journey to "Space Camp" teaching valuable lessons that all children need. The book is humorous and thought provoking, giving specific visuals to help educators teach this valuable social skill.

So how do I use Personal Space Camp in the classroom?  We brainstorm a list of what we think the book might be about basing this on the cover illustrations and title.  I read the book all the way through the first time.  But it doesn't stop there.  I take each lesson that Louis learns at Space Camp and do a different mini-lesson each day with my class just like Louis does.  Personal Space Camp sets the stage for these mini-lessons.  Brilliant!  We build an anchor chart to help us become more aware of what our personal space "looks like," "sounds like," and "feels like."

We model personal space at:

Group Time
Learning Centers
Literacy Centers
Math Centers
Writer's Workshop
Walking in a LINE (YES!)
Going down the slide at recess (a MUST)

I've always taught my students about the space bubble that is around them. This book helps support that topic of a "space bubble."  I wrote two songs to reinforce this concept for young students.  You can grab this FREEBIE HERE.  This one is to the tune, "POP Goes the Weasel."

This adorable clipart is by Krista Wallden at Creative Clips.
The cute fonts are by Kimberly Geswein from KG Fonts.
Julia Cook is a former school counselor.  She's walked the walk right there with us.  I guess that's why her books resonate so well with me.  When I open one of her books, it's like having an extra school counselor on site, ready to help me tackle the social challenges of teaching.  

Continue on over to the blog hop at Corkboard Connections to learn more about the other books by Julia Cook.  My students have always loved them.  I am sure yours will too.

Friday, November 8, 2013

New Blog Design and a FREEBIE

First, let's talk about the FREEBIE.  I like to keep my students moving and standing as much as possible throughout the day.  I am definitely not a "sit-at-your-desk" type of teacher.  Engaged children are happy children.  Happy children learn more.  I use pocket charts a lot for literacy centers and hang them on door handles of cabinets and other areas of my room to keep my students moving.  So I decided to do the same thing for math.  Here is a picture of the center.

5 Frames Option

10 Frames Option

Teach your students the Turkey Poem.  Choose either the 5 Frame Option or the 10 Frame Option, depending on your students' needs.  I use the gradual release to teach.

I DO:  I model how to use the Turkey 5 or 10 Frame Pocket Chart Activity.
WE DO:  I call up a student to help me work the problem together modeling along the way.  I continue calling up children to practice together and adjust my teaching based on our work together.
THEY DO:  The pocket chart is then used as a math center to reinforce working with combinations of 5 and 10.

When working on subtraction with a 5 or 10 frame, always begin at the end (right side) of a 5 frame and the end (bottom right side) of a 10 frame to "take away."  When adding, always begin at the left side (5 frame) and the top left side (10 frame).   Practice this process with your students during the "I DO" and the "WE DO" part of your lesson.

Want to do more?  Use cards to play the game.

 Draw a card.  Add the same number of turkeys (7).

Draw another card.  Place it beside the first.  Add the same number of turkeys (5). Students can orally say the number sentence or record it in their math journals. Now start brainstorming about all the different manipulatives that can be used with this math pocket chart.  Here is on example that I used around Halloween.

We used the above 10 frame for subtraction using cards.  We placed the number 10 card on the left side of the frame.  We drew a 2 and placed it on the bottom 10 frame.  That was the number we were subtracting from 10.  The answer is 8 (top), so we placed an 8 card to represent the number shown. 

The visual 5 and 10 frames help students "see" the number too. The possibilities are endless!  And how many of you have all of those calendar pieces and small notepad shapes just sitting in your drawers waiting to find a purpose in your classroom?  I know I have many! 
You can grab your FREEBIE HERE.

Check out my Flip the Five and Ten Frames Activity Packet.  It has 590 pages of math fun.  Thanks for visiting my blog and helping me celebrate my new blog design.


Click HERE to view this teaching packet.

Stop by the Thanksgiving FREEBIE Linky at Tales from Outside the Classroom.

I am SO excited about my new blog design from Michelle at The 3am Teacher.
Michelle - The 3am Teacher - YOU ROCK!!! I LOVE MY NEW BLOG!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Spooky Finger Math Fun Combinations of 10

What's more fun that "hands-on" math?  Add some green fingers, and your students' motivation to do math will skyrocket.
I purchased my fingers at Party City.  We have one in my home town, but you can also order them online at www.partycity.com for 10 fingers for $1.99.  I also found them at my local Dollar Tree store.  Since I use them throughout the year as reading pointers, it is an added incentive for buying more:-)

Place the fingers in a math center along with a deck of cards.  Remove the  Queen, King, and Joker cards.  The Ace can be used as a 1 and the Jack can be used as a 10.  I write those numbers on the cards to help the students.  Player 1 turns over a card and reads the number.  Player 2 puts that many witches fingers on their fingers.  Player one tells how many more are needed to make a 10.  For example, player 1 turns over a 5.  Player 2 puts on 5 fingers.  Player 1 has to count how many more fingers are needed to make a 10. This game can also be used for subtraction.  Player 1 puts on all 10 fingers.  Player 2 draws a card and reads the number.  Player 2 takes that many fingers off of player 1.  Player 1 tells how many fingers are left.  Students can record their results in a math journal using pictures, symbols, and/or equations depending on their level.

 I made an activity to go with the fun which includes Spooky Finger 10 Frames and paper finger manipulatives in case you don't have any of the fingers or need some extra.  You can find it HERE.

There are 64 story problems to use in math centers along with Spooky 10 Frame Cards.
Let your students work on reading and math skills at the same time.  These rebus supported cards will provide your students support to complete their own book.  All numbers working within 10 are included in the the Making 10 Book and all numbers working within 5 are included in the Making 5 Book.  Pick the book that suits your students' individual needs.

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Flip the 5 & 10 Frames

Inventions are born out of necessity or maybe out of frustration and clutter.  As a teacher you can probably get a good visual when I describe this scenario.  I was in my living room creating a new project working with 5 and 10 frames to help one of my friends who teaches first grade.  I spent many hours creating it, printing it, and wait for it - laminating and cutting it too.  So there I was sitting in the middle of the floor with laminating strips, scissors, and center pieces everywhere.  Teaching and creating is such a messy job sometimes, isn't it?  How many of you have a dining room table that does not have teaching materials on it? It's Friday.  How many of you brought home a teacher's bag full of things to make or do over the weekend? OK- back to my story.

My friend dropped by to pick up what I had made for her before I had it all sorted into centers.  Enter my friend: Picture all of the apple games, books, literacy centers, apple math cards, apple ten frames, and apple math centers on the floor, couch, chairs, coffee table . . . Are you getting the visual?  It was a sea of red, yellow, and green all over the floor.  Now if you have a partner in crime that shares your passion of creating fun hands on activities for kiddos, then it is ok for that teacher to walk in and see the mess.  Whew, I'm sure glad it was Stacee.  She stepped over all of the mess, and we got to work planning for her students.  When she left, I looked around at the remnants that were left, and an idea just hit me.  I found a way to make 5 & 10 frames that would flip over so there is no need for all of the pieces.  I made 5 in the color version for math stations and 5 for small group.  They come in both 5 & 10 frames so I can different according to a student's or group's needs. Here is the end product.
Once I made the apple ones I just kept going through the themes, holidays, and autumn season. I even went back to the first of the year.  Now I have 5 & 10 frame cards for all of the themes for the first semester of school ready to go and stacked neatly with a rubber band wrapped around each set.  They can be stored in a large baggie or in a small tub.  And you can print the black & white versions for each student in your class to manipulate during whole group time.  Picture everyone participating in the hands on learning. Think of all the math language and discussion as they compare their frames.

Here is a picture of the sample frames in my new packet on Teachers Pay Teachers.  It has 590 pages in it!  That is my biggest packet so far!  I put in at a discount price through this weekend.  CLICK HERE to see it on TpT.

Choose from these pictures for the Give-a-Way at the bottom of the blog.
If you made it this far down to the end of my long post, then here is the exciting news!  I am giving 2 away here along with 2 more on my Face Book page (Click Here).  I had my daughter choose one of the pictures (themes) from the sample shown above.  Here is how you can enter.  Follow my blog and/or my Face Book page.  Then leave your guess as to which theme picture my daughter chose as the secret winner.  Also leave your email address.  This is a HUGE file, so it might be best to leave an email that would not be blocked.  Some school email addresses block large files. You may make one guess on my blog and one on my Face Book page.  Good luck!  I will notify the winners as soon as the secret pictures are named.  So which picture do you think my daughter picked?  An animal? A holiday pic? Another theme?  Shhhh . . . it's a secret! 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Apples, Johnny Appleseed and a FREEBIE

I love apples. I love pumpkins. I love cooler weather. I LOVE FALL! It is my favorite time of the year. Living in Oklahoma, we get brief glimpses of cooler weather starting now. When I say cooler - I'm talking upper 80's for a high and high 60's for a low. But I'll take it. I know relief is in sight and soon we will experience leaves changing colors and hopefully even cooler weather. So what time of the year is it? It's time for apples and Johnny Appleseed's birthday. So I made some things to brighten up your apple units including a FREEBIE.  This cute clip art is from Creative Clips by Krista Wallden. If you haven't seen her adorable clip art, then stop by her store.  Click HERE for your APPLE CENTER FREEBIE.

 If you have been on my blog, you know I am a singing, moving, reading teacher. I love to put learning to songs. So this first packet is an adaption of "Skip to My Lou." It's called "Take a Bite" and focuses on repetitive text and color words. Here's is a preview of this packet called "Reading Fluency for Little Learners -  Apple Set."  It includes a big book, regular size book, guided reading book, pocket chart center, and recording sheet ideas for centers.  UPDATE:  I ADDED A MINI-VIDEO WITH MUSIC. Click HERE to read and see more.

Ways to use meaningful print to teach your students emergent reading skills and increase fluency.  I've also included recording sheets too.
Next up is "Reading Fluency for Little Learners:  Johnny Appleseed Set."  This text from this book is to the tune:  She'll Be Coming Around the Mountain.  This one includes a color version to display as an E-book if you have that option.  In fact, this packet has many different book options.  It includes a color version big book, regular size book (black & white and color versions), guided reading or independent reading book (black & white and color versions too).  And in the tradition  of many of my songs it has movement and motions included to get your students moving and thinking.  You have your choice of using the color version of sequencing cards or the black & white version.  Click HERE TO SEE and read more about this packet.  UPDATED:  THIS NOW CONTAINS A MINI-VIDEO SONG TOO.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

FREE Awesome App for Research on Endangered Animals

With a greater emphasis on informational text and the Common Core, I wanted to share one of my favorite apps that I use with students for research.  And best of all it is FREE. It is by the World Wildlife Fund or WWF.  Here is a YouTube video of what it is like.

First of all, it has beautiful beautiful photographs. One of my favorite aspects of the app is your students can touch one of the places on the globe, and it brings up the endangered animal and how many miles it is from where the students live. It also has great video clips of the animals too.  Plus your students can research how they can help protect endangered animals.  Love, love, love this app!
Thanks for stopping by my blog. Come back again soon.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Quotes for Teachers

It's Back to School time!  How many have already had your first day of school? How many will soon be starting?  I've visited by text, phone, and online with teachers from all over the United States this past week.  And guess what?  Teaching is a HARD job.  Let me rephrase that:  Teaching is an exhausting job!  How soon we forget all of the procedures it took to get our students from the first day of school to the last day of school.  If you have already started, you are feeling it to the core of your being.  If you are getting ready to start, you just think you remember:-)

So I wrote you some words of wisdom and encouragement to get your through the first month of school.  Print up your favorite color, and place it where you can see it every day.  Then in October, reflect on how far they have come. Think of all of the learning that has taken place.  In fact, make a note to reflect on this in December, March, and May.  But one thing is for sure.  You DO make a difference in the lives of your students every day.  You DO matter.  You ARE the reason that they are making progress.  Remember to build a community of learners and get those procedures in place.  And one more very important thing:  Take care of yourself too!  Have a great school year.
If you made it through your first day, congratulations!
Breathe, work on procedures, and get to know your students.  Plus drink tons of water:)
CLICK HERE to download your FREE posters.  There are many colors to choose from.

Chevron Frame Clip Art by: