Saturday, December 15, 2012

Sending Our Love

I cannot wrap my mind around the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  I am in awe of the teachers and leaders of that school....their bravery in the face of such terror. And the sweet baby children.... My heart is so heavy for those who are suffering so much. My prayers go out to everyone. May Heavenly Father's love heal and comfort their hearts and may He hold the children in the palm of His hands.

And may we remember,  Love is the answer.

Please join with me in a day of remembrance on Sunday. (See Farley's web post HERE.)

If you would like to send cards from you and/or your students or teddy bears and books for the children of Sandy Hook Elementary School the address is:

Sandy Hook Elementary School
12 Dickenson Drive
Sandy Hook, CT 06482

Loads of Love to all of you,

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

New Blog Design- Halloween Sale!

Wowie, what a storm that Sandy is...I've been watching the news coverage the last 24 hours and it looks terrible!! My thoughts and prayers are being sent out to all of you who are effected.

I just LOVE my new blog design by Becca over at Jumpin Jax Design!! She did such a fabulous job and she is so AMAZING to work with! She was so patient with me! I am the most indecisive person, and Becca changed things and answered my questions and worked on my page until I loved it!! I totally recommend her if you are thinking of jumping into blogging or wanting to update your current blog design!

Can you believe tomorrow is Halloween?? I have the perfect Halloween BINGO Games and Activities on sale on TpT today and tomorrow! If you want to play Halloween Bingo or Pin the Spider on the Web, this game packet is for you! I will give this packet away to the first three loyal followers who leave me a comment below! (Don't forget to leave your email!)

I also have my Halloween Math Activities for Young Learners on sale for anyone in need of some academic fun!

I hope your Halloween goes smoothly and that your day isn't too crazy!! I'm playing things down this year and going as a nurse in scrubs! (Comfort rules!! It is my secret wish that teachers wore scrubs to work daily!!) What are you dressing up as? I'd love to hear from you!


Friday, October 12, 2012

A Day in the Life of My Fall Break....And My Latest Halloween Packet

I apologize for not posting about the Spider Give Away's just that, well, yesterday was kind of crazy and then we decided to postpone the give away until tomorrow...and so, yah...

I spent most of yesterday with my Sweetie at the dentist. Day One of Fall Break: Five hours at the dentist. My poor Hubs had  THREE teeth pulled! Can you say "YOWWWIE!!!" 

Now, I'm a fainter...a total passer-outer at the sight of blood, vomit, name it!  I pass out at the dentist every time I go. You just wave a needle in front of my eyes, and WHAM, I'm gone.  

This Scotch-Irish girl has NO relation to Brave Heart when it comes to bodily fluids! (I gag when I hear my husband brushing his teeth...I gag when I hear people chewing their food...I absolutely gag when one of my students pukes on the rug....You get the point.) And this dentist asks me if I want to come WATCH him pull out THREE of my hubby's teeth.

Another of my downfalls, I can't pass up the opportunity to be where all the action is! (Besides, who wants to sit out in the waiting room for two five hours??) 

They led me back to where my Sweetie was drugged up with this crazy plastic thingy strapped over his nose for the gas. He was gonzo. I was a bit was already coming on....

I plopped down on a chair by his feet and put my hand on his leg to comfort him and to let him know I was there...but lets face it, it was more for me. As soon as I sat down right there two feet in front of me was a bloody tooth and two pieces of broken teeth root sitting on the dental tray....GAG!!

The room started spinning...breathe....breathe girl!! Think of something...anything!

I felt woozy....I felt sick...I figured I had about three seconds, maybe four before I hit the floor...

Then suddenly I got the dentist picked up these HUGE clunky silver plier thingies. They were seriously scary looking. You can imagine my shock when he gripped with two hands and clamped them around the molar in my Hubby's mouth!!! (Why does this remind me of that story by Robert Munch, Andrew's Loose Tooth??)     

Before I realized what was happening the dentist was tugging and yanking and pulling on my Hubby's tooth! "This sucker is lodged in cement!" he exclaimed! He stood up to get more leverage and literally yanked and tugged and pulled on that tooth and it DID NOT come out. 

It didn't even wiggle. I saw it. Nothing budged. 

I picked my mouth up off the floor and watched for over an hour as they worked on getting this one tooth out....Nevermind being nauseated...nevermind being lightheaded and feeling faint...I got so engrossed in watching them trying to get this tooth out that eventually all that went away and I sat there transfixed on how they were going to solve this problem. 

Anyway, an hour and thirty minutes later, POP! Out came the tooth, then the roots, then all this get the picture. 

I sat there for the next tooth and never once did I faint!!! I was so proud! But I was really very proud of my Hubby for enduring all that pain and for that dentist who didn't give up on getting those teeth out.

So yah, that was yesterday. 

Day two of Fall Break: Today, the Hubs and I have been hunkered down. It's a rainy cold day. He's totally feeling yucky and all drugged up and I've just been a slug. I made a gluten free Betty Crocker chocolate cake, did the dishes, a load of laundry, watched Fox News and CNN about the debates, and then created some things for Halloween for TpT. 

If you've actually made it down to this point in your reading, you are in luck!! I'm giving away my new packet tonight to the first TEN people who leave me a comment below! (Please include your email address.)

Also, all of my Fall and October packets are on sale until Sunday at my TpT store, too!

Here's my latest:

Thanks so much for dropping in tonight! I hope you had a great week and have a restful and fun weekend! 
Hugs and loads of love,

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Give Away Winners Announced!!

Thank you sooooooooo much to all of YOU for supporting my give away this week! I appreciate all of your wonderful comments and thank you for following me on Facebook and TpT. Congratulations to my three winners, Amber K., Bren P. and Cindy C. I will be emailing you shortly! I hope you enjoy your packet! :)

If you are in the mood for more spider activities, you are in luck! I'm joining up with my best bloggy buddy, Jennifer, over at Rowdy in First Grade to do Web of a Spider Give Away! Head on back here tomorrow to see the cute packets we are giving away and how to enter!

I know it is only Wednesday, but today was my Friday! We are officially on Fall Break through next MONDAY!!! I am soooo happy to just have a couple of days to get caught up on sleep! My Fall Break isn't going to be much of rest, though. My Hubby and I are getting ready for a multi-family garage sale on Saturday. Last weekend we went to our storage unit and hauled boxes and boxes of our precious junk belongings and placed them in our living room. Combining two homes into one little townhouse makes for a lot of stuff! 

The plan was to sort through things while we watched t.v. in the evenings. We are wonderful at making grand plans! It sounded so perfect...just sort through a box or two each night and we'd be ready for the big sale on Saturday. Yah, well, the boxes are still sitting there, untouched, collecting yet more dust...Ugh! So, tomorrow we MUST start sorting....Yah, there's that much stuff! 

My Hubby is sooo cute! He has been coming in once a week to help me do an art activity with my students. We've been studying about shapes this week and I adapted a cute pumpkin art activity I found on Pinterest into an activity on shape. We cut triangles, circles, ovals, squares, and rectangles to make these cute Jack-o-lanterns. 

(See the cute pumpkins that inspired this project here.)

Since we have to connect our art activities to the curriculum we covered shapes and we also wrote "How To" stories. We brainstormed ideas that they could write about. The children came up with "How to Carve a Jack-o-lantern", "How to Grow a Pumpkin", "How to Go Trick-or-Treating" among others. 

I had introduced the "How To" story structure two weeks ago, including a title, introduction, first, next, then, last, and a conclusion. We have the story map up in the classroom so the students can refer to it as they write. We took the story through the writing and editing phases and we are just starting to put up their final drafts. I'm so excited! They are doing a great job!

Wish me luck on tackling my "To Do" list the next few days! I hope you enjoy the rest of your week!
And remember, be kind to yourself...
There is Only Love,

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Fantastic Spider Letter Games Giveaway!

After posting about phonemic awareness and phonological awareness I needed some games and flashcard activities for my little students who are still struggling with letter names and sounds. I put together a spider-themed packet of letter games and assessments that I think my students will really have some fun with! 

I'm giving this packet away to three random winners! I hope you'll join in the fun! 

And remember, there is only LOVE! Have you been kind to yourself today? xo


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Freebie! Pumpkin Numbers to 50

Our district goal for this first term is that all students in first grade will identify and count numbers to 50. Here's a cute freebie for your kiddos to help them practice their numbers to 50.
I purposefully made the grid in rows of 5 to see if my students could count without using the patterns on a horizontal grid of ten. If you prefer rows of ten, just turn the grid horizontally. It makes for an interesting assessment! 

I hope you enjoy! 


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Struggling Readers: Phonological Awareness vs. Phonemic Awareness

Many of us have struggling readers in our classrooms. Now that school is back in full swing and reading groups are going, we teachers of lower grades need to take a look at how we meet the needs of our struggling readers.

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHHD), after two years of extensive researched, published it's findings in 2000 in The Report of the National Reading Panel (NRP). The panel concluded there are five essential components of reading instruction that help struggling readers learn to read. These concepts are known commonly as "The Big 5". (Side note: Interestingly, the Panel did not address issues relevant to ELL learners as this was being done by another study.) They include the following:

In our district, we must have this posted somewhere in our room as a constant reminder of the most critical elements of teaching reading.

Over the next few weeks I want to take a look at each one of the Big 5 and have you link up with activities that you use in your classrooms! 

Today, my focus is on the first stepping stone, phonemic awareness. Too often, teachers confuse the terms phonemic awareness and phonological awareness, or they use them interchangeably. Phonological awareness is the overall umbrella referring to the awareness of the sound structure of a spoken word (Gillon, 2004). When you are talking about rhyming, alliteration, clapping syllables, dividing words into onset and rime, you are talking about phonological awareness. Phonological awareness develops from the larger level, rhyming, to the smaller level, phonemic awareness.

The graphic above is based on a fabulous picture I found in the book, Next STEPS in Literacy Instruction: Connecting Assessments to Effective Interventions, (page 56). I wanted to adapt it to my for my own use and made the one above.

As you can see from the picture, phonemic awareness is the tail end of phonological awareness. Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear sounds in isolation and to manipulate those sounds. And, as shown by the chart above, there is a sequence to developing phonemic awareness just as there is phonological awareness, from easiest tasks to the more challenging tasks (isolation to substitution). This makes identifying the phonological and/or phonemic instruction a child needs much easier! 

If a child cannot blend (phonemic awareness), go back and see if he can categorize a sound, and so on. If a child cannot isolate a sound (first step in phonemic awareness), you need to go back through the steps of phonological awareness and see if he can identify onset-rime, etc. All the while, the NRP suggests the continued teaching of phonemic awareness as you go back and pick up areas of phonological awareness that may be missing (NICHHD).

Here are some other interesting facts the NRP suggests:
* Teach in small groups, with explicit and systematic instruction. (Struggling readers benefit most from groups of 3 or 4).

* The ability to blend and segment sounds give the greatest advantage to reading for K-1 students. 

* Teach through games, songs, nursery rhymes, and activities. 

* Connect phonological awareness with letters whenever possible. The connecting of speech to print improves phonemic awareness.

* Monitor progress at least every 2 weeks and make changes to the size of the group, the duration taught, etc. to help meet your goal.

* Provide direct instruction and guided practice of phonological activities and give particular attention to phoneme segmentation.

If you have blogged about or have a fun freebie or a TpT product that teaches any area of phonological awareness, phonemic awareness or heck, even phonics, link up below! My hope is that this will become a treasure trove of ideas for teachers!

Hugs and love,

Gillon, G.T. (2004). Phonological awareness: From research to practice. New York: Guilford Press.

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2000). Report of the National Reading     Panel. Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction (NIH Publication No. 00-4769). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

New Cursive Packet

Whew! I started my Cursive Handwriting Packet back in June when my dear bloggy friend, Nicole Shelby from Teaching With Blonde Ambition made the suggestion that I add it to my collection of Handy Handwriting Packets (D'Nealian and Zaner Bloser) which have become one of my top sellers available in my TpT store. 

You can use these pages individually, send it home for homework, or make it into a handwriting booklet. I hope you find this packet helpful in teaching your students!

Thank you, Nicole, for the idea and for being so patient with me!! I hope everyone will show Nicole some love and TLC and visit her blog and TpT pages! She is an amazing seller on TpT and I love her products!

Teaching with Blonde Ambition

Here are just a couple of Nicole's top sellers and an awesome freebie of hers. I personally own these and absolutely LOVE them!! (Just click on the pic to visit her TpT store to purchase! You'll love these!)

 Here's one of Nicole's AWESOME FREEBIES!!

I hope everyone has a great night and gets off to a fabulous Monday!! I'm off to go snuggle up with my hubby to watch my Steelers go against the Broncos!! Go STEELERS!! (Hubby's rooting for the Broncos!)

Loads of Love,

Saturday, September 8, 2012


I can't tell you how much I've missed blogging and being connected with all my blogging teaching friends!! I have really really missed everyone! 

Today is such a beautiful day out here in Utah! It's prefect Fall weather, great for a drive up in the mountains and a football game. I just dropped my hubby off at the BYU football game and I am enjoying catching up on some long awaited blog-hopping time while listening to the football game on tv! Don't ya just love Fall? I think it is my favorite time of the year! The windows are open, a nice breeze is blowing, the sun is shining and life is good....

and, I am soooo excited to jump back into blogging with Farley's "Currently"! Don't you just love Farley!? 

If you want to join in the "Currently" link-up just click on over to Farley's blog, Oh boy, 4th Grade and join in the fun! It's a great way to connect with other bloggers! Oh, and don't forget Farley's rule of 3: Go 2 behind your link on her link-up party and leave a comment, and go 1 ahead of your link on her link-up and leave a comment. 

Happy Saturday!
Hugs and loads of love,

Friday, September 7, 2012

Teaching Beginning Readers

Wow! Sorry that I have been M.I.A. for the past few months! I got married in July and then school started in August and I have been busy, busy, busy! I absolutely LOVE married life! My new hubby is so good to me!! I feel so spoiled having someone who helps with the laundry and who makes me dinner when I come home from work! He's truly one in a million!!

I hope everyone's new year is off to a great start! I have been exhausted the past couple of weeks from working long hours at school. Tis the season for putting in long hours to make sure everything gets off to a great start! I have an adorable new group of firsties! They are so cute and so well-behavied! It's been a nice start to a new year!

I love the beginning of a new school year and teaching reading to my fresh batch of first graders. It always takes me by surprise how little and cute they are! Our Kindergarten teachers at my school do a fantastic job of preparing our first graders every year. One of the programs we use at our building is Jolly Phonics. It was introduced to us by an exchange teacher we had from England.

I love Jolly Phonics! It systematically teaches the letters of the alphabet along with an action that the students do while saying the letter name and sound. The interactive whiteboard version has a large letter the students can trace, a song using the letter sound in words, and a text version of the song where students can see the letter in words. My students come in knowing all or almost all of their letters and sounds! I am using Jolly Phonics to help teach CVC words to my kiddos right now. They use the actions for each letter sound as they make the CVC words. I really love how it helps my kinesthetic learners make a connection to each letter sound!

I also love this parent handout put out by! This gives very easy to understand information to parents on how they can help their child with the beginning stages of reading. I hope you find this useful!

Lots of love to you,

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Blog Swap and Hop Guest Blogger Deb Thomas

Yeah!!! It's finally Saturday and time for the Top Teachers' Blog Swap and Hop!! I'm so excited to introduce you to my sweet friend, Deb Thomas from Fabulously First ! She's not only witty and funny but she has prepared some fantastic ideas to help you organize your classroom!

While you are enjoying Deb's visit over here, I will be posting over at Michelle's adorable blog, No Monkey Business!  I hope you'll hop on over there when you are done! I have some fun Back to School ideas and a FREEBIE! Well, I've better head on over there! See ya soon! Show Deb some of that Love you alway show me, and feel free to leave her a comment! ;)

No Monkey Business

There's Only Love,

I am so excited to be a guest on Rebecca's Blog for our "Blog Swap & Hop".  I am Deb Thomas from Fabulously First blog and I am glad to meet everyone. I don't know about you but I think there is A LOT of information out there on "How To Organize Your Classroom".  If everyone that reads this post shares a helpful hint that they use it would probably create a "best seller".  I am going to briefly touch on four different areas of organization and hopefully we will all learn from each other. Here are the four areas that I thought would be beneficial:

1. DESK-What is with my desk and where did all these papers come from?
2. SUPPLIES-Where am I going to put all of these supplies anyway?
3. TECHNOLOGY-I love technology but why does it come with so many cords?
4. CLASSROOM-Do these kiddos really need this much construction paper? 

I would bet that you can relate to almost every single question on the list so lets get busy......  

1. DESK-What is with my desk and where did all these papers come from?

We I am always seeking the answer to this one so where is Yoda when you need him most? (oh my gosh, she is a nerd) One thing that I am doing this year is an organizational binder that contains all the information that my brain does not want to carry around.  There are many binders out there but we all want one that meets our own needs right?  Where do I put this binder so that I can grab it easily and find it on my desk?  I have this wonderful desktop organizer that I use from Really Good Stuff that looks like this.  Here is the place to go and get binder organizing sheets for free that you can use and customize to your own needs:

Click the pictures to view the product

2. SUPPLIES-Where am I going to put all of these supplies anyway?

This year my class is not having "community" property and all my kiddos have to keep up with their own supplies in a shoebox that will fit nice and neat in their desk. (Yeah right, in a perfect world)  The overflow materials are going to go into one of two of these fantastic three drawer containers with labels laminated and glued to the inside of the drawer.  (OK, so not only is she a nerd, she is delusional). 
3. TECHNOLOGY-I love technology but why does it come with so many cords?

Unfortunately technology does come with a lot of cords and they always seem to end up in places where they can't be seen or reached. Another issue is how many times a day do you have to log in for someone because the letters on the keyboard just don't seem to help? Here is an easy and simple solution to both problems:
 Click the images above to visit the post

Before you click on the second picture I must warn you that you are about to be sucked into a black hole of oooooohs and ahhhhhhhs and "how can this lady be a first grade teacher and do all of this anyway?"    

4. CLASSROOM-Do these kiddos really need this much construction paper? Really?

Yes, they really do need that much construction paper but I have the best solution to this E V E R!  The picture below is just pure genius and if you click on it you will travel once again to the (un)known kingdom of organization.....Am I keeping all of you busy or what?

OK, we are just about there and just when you thought it was safe I found two other tidbits I thought I would share.  When you do math journals this year (the composition notebooks) have someone cut them in half and they go further. (Check with Lowe's or Home Depot)  When you go to decorate your bulletin board and it is hanging behind the computers (like mine is-Ugh!) grab some tablecloths or material at your local Wal-mart.  If you grab material please make sure the pattern is going in the right direction?  (not only is she a nerd and delusional but she has no forethought)


I hope that as we close our time together that I have inspired you to share something with us that you discovered to work in your classroom.  If you want to share something that you have tried please share here on Rebecca's blog and come by and visit Fabulously First and share with me also.  Thank you Rebecca for allowing me to be a guest on your blog today, it was FABULOUS!  

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