Friday, November 27, 2015

December's My FAVORITE!

I really can't believe it's already December. Seriously, where has this semester gone?  Let's be honest, these next three weeks are going to fly by.  I mean, we have a field trip, holiday party, making gingerbread-man cookies, elf on the shelf, parent gifts, report card testing, oh...and TEACHING! 

Teaching is my FAVORITE! 

I'm copying, prepping and trying to stay ahead of the game so I can actually enjoy my favorite time of year while it is here.  I want to be in the present, not chasing my tail.  Here's what I'm working with this month:


My TPT store is on SALE through Tuesday! 

Also, in my shirt store, you get FREE SHIPPING with the purchase of two shirts through Dec. 1st using the code FREEXMAS.  There are tons of holiday, teacher, and life quote shirt options!

Okay, I am off to buy rain boots. Don't be jealous. We have a playoff game tonight and it's supposed to be cold and rainy. As long as we WIN, I'm okay with that! 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Spreading KINDNESS

Tis' the season for love and kindness. Yes, I am one of those nuts who already has their Christmas tree up. Don't judge. Ha! I know people are complaining about seeing holiday decorations so early but really what people (aka me) are embracing is the spirit of Christmas. Unfortunately, this spirit isn't alive in everyone year round. Something about this time of year affords a little more grace and love to one another. It also is the greatest reminder of the most important gift of all. It's a gift we should cherish each and every day but during the holidays, people who don't unwrap the gift of Jesus daily seem to live in that spirit a little more. Don't stress about the magical tree (and I LOVE a tree) or buying gifts (that most don't need) but instead make memories, sing songs, love harder, and give more. Don't dread a season encompassing God's love to it!

The season of kindness is not a present wrapped up just for families.  It is something you can share with your students too. Last year I created a FREE product called RACKED, Random Acts of Classroom (or Christmas) Kindness.  I really wanted something for my students to be a part of. We provide so many educational experiences, which are super important, but life (and character building) experiences are important too! 

I love having an Elf on the Shelf. You can read more about our adventures here. Our elf brought us treasures and did silly things, but most importantly he left us our daily RACK.  It was so great that my students were more excited to spread holiday cheer and do for others than getting treats for themselves.  We have a great opportunity to teach children what it means to care for others and help them experience the joy in an unselfish act. We just need to plant a tiny seed that will hopefully grow into a lifetime of loving and caring for others.  And maybe, just maybe, your students will go home and share this new tradition with their family and it will be the gift that keeps on giving. 

You can download the set by going here or click on the pictures below. There are specific cards and blank ones. There are also nonseasonal cards so you can keep this going year-round.  

Nonseasonal Cards

It doesn't have to be Christmas to spread love and kindness to others. We can create a future generation of philanthropist, one RACK at a time. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Thanksgiving Activities

An oldie but goodie...Welcome to MONSTER SANDWICH! 

One of the fun things my team does before the Thanksgiving holiday is have a Monster Sandwich experience with our classes. We are having fun making text connections.  I never thought I would sit and share a six foot sandwich with everything thing on it (sometimes including pickles, cucumbers, and cheetos, haha!) before teaching at my school.  We read the book Monster Sandwich by Joy Cowley at the beginning of the week and made a list of everything we wanted on our sandwich. Then, everyone signed up to bring something. 

I sent a note home that day telling parents what their child signed up for. I try and have two students bring each item just in case someone forgets or can’t, we have enough. Here are pictures from last year’s Monster Sandwich. Last year I looked at my team like they were nuts for doing this, but just like carving 22 pumpkins was survivable, so was this..and fun to boot! 

My students always love this activity and it helps us end our Pilgrim and Native American’s Thanksgiving Unit with a fun experience. Also, the students do cut everything themselves with a plastic knife, under my supervision of course. Some children have never had the opportunity to cut and cook before. As you can see, our pickles were quite chunky but who cares! The rule was if you don’t like it, pull it off.  I did have a student last year that couldn't eat meat so cut hers off first and then added the meat. It was so much fun!
There’s still time. You can jump on the Monster Sandwich bandwagon!!

Another Thanksgiving favorite is our November Early Finisher's Tub. These activities are kid test and definitely teacher approved. They can be used in the EFT or as center games.

Dice Games

Syllable Puzzles

Numbers & Ten Frames

Beginning Sounds Puzzles

Rhyming, Capital/Lowercase Letter Matching, Beginning Sounds, and so much more!

I don't have to listen to, "I'm finished, what do I do next?" anymore. Our routine is set in stone, learning keeps going, and our classroom maintains focus and peace. Awww, bliss. :) You can read more about how I set them up HERE.

Love and virtual hugs!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Music For Young Learners

It is not hard to see that MUSIC has the incredible power to support the development of a child.  Aside from being so much FUN, music grows a child's language and increases cognitive, emotional, social, and creative development. Music education does not have to be provided in a music class though.  Early childhood teachers and parents can provide meaningful experiences with singing and movement. As a parent (and before studying child development), I had no idea how important music was to helping to produce unique connections in the brain.  Music prepares the brain to work from both hemispheres. Music is the tool that leads to higher level thinking. Pretty cool huh?!

I want to share a few of my musical favs for in and out of the classroom. 

Every day, my class participates in using brain breaks through a free website called  It is Ah-mazing and my student LOVE it. It combines music and movement. Here is a youtube example of a gonoodle video. Seriously, every teacher and parent should sign up for their FREE account. It's too much fun not to miss! There is fast music and calming music.  I'm not going to lie, sometimes you may walk in my classroom and we may be doing a brain break yoga.  Don't all children need to learn to belly breath too? Ha!

Let's talk sight words. So stinkin' important for young learners! My class big puffy heart loves Heidi Songs. We add two new songs a week and my kids are rocking and rolling with their sight words. I'm telling you, music and movement are the key here. Sensory integration speaks to all learners. Here is a great video showcases all that Heidi Songs has to offer.


For the love of all things FUN! I first met Shawn Brown at Frog Street SPLASH's summer conference four summers ago. As a teacher, I loved every session he gave and could not wait to share his music with my students. Really, The Super Fun Show should go down in your classroom every day!

I am so honored to call Debbie Clement one of my friends! She is the author and creator of  Her music is wonderful.  She has created these amazing books and at the back of each book is a CD with the song for that book.  These books stay in my classroom library year round.  My school had the privilege of welcoming Debbie for an author's visit and it was so much fun.  She is so incredibly talented and children love her. Here is an example of on of my favorite songs for young learners. If you ever have the opportunity to bring an author/song writer to your school, I promise you would not regret a moment with Debbie Clement! 

Another teacher/parent favorite of mine is Dr. Jean.  If you haven't heard her famous name then climb out from under that rock my friend.  Dr. Jean is a seasoned and timeless educator that brings engaging fun and total silliness to our classroom every week. My kids beg to sign the Rules of the Classroom every day. Seriously. Every. Day. Ha! Hey, when kids want to sing about following the rules, you know something is right in the world. 

The last musical genius I want to share with you is the Learning Station. I first found them on youtube and it was love at first note. I now own all of their CD's and my kids request their songs by name. Don Monopoli is a very talented music creator and speaker.  If you ever have a chance to see him at a conferences, do it!

At the end of the day, it doesn't matter who your musical fav is or what songs you listen to. The most important thing is that you are making it a part of your everyday life.  As an educator and as a parent, we need to give our kids opportunities to grow in every way possible. Music gets the whole child in the process of learning. What does this really mean? Music is IMPORTANT. In order for our kids to be well balanced learners, we should consider all of their needs. Lucky for us, MUSIC foots to bill for so many of them. 

Happy singing and dancing friends! 

**This post is the reflection of my opinion alone and was not sponsored by anyone referenced here.