Big News!!

Oh, friends!! It has been *gulp* over 2 MONTHS since I've last posted! I have missed you all so very much, but... there's this little blessing that's been taking over all of my time :-)
That's right!! Meet my little "pumpkin"! The above pic was taken at 6 weeks, and today I hit the 15 week mark... so Pumpkin is significantly larger and more human-looking ;) Man, oh, man - this little wonder has been sucking the life out of me every day and making me too tired to even THINK about stalking blogland, let alone typing my own posts!! However, we have turned the corner, and my energy is back - just in time for the holidays!

I am hoping to get back into the habit of my nightly blog searches... I can't even begin to think about everything I missed while sleeping on the couch and growing a baby! Just wanted to say hello again to all of you lovelies and that I can't wait to dive back into the FUN!

I hope you all have had a wonderful Thanksgiving break... I know I have, and now I'm ready for the next 3 1/2 weeks until we hit the halfway mark of the school year! I can't wait to have some holiday fun with my little kiddos.

To kick-off my new beginning, there will be a sale going on in my TpT store from NOW thru tomorrow for Cyber Monday! Please stop by and browse around a bit! Click the pic to hop over!
PS - Can I tell you how fun it was to create something new... even if it was just this silly little notice of my sale!



Thank you! And "All on the Map"

You guys are so wonderful at lifting a girl's spirits! Your comments and emails to me about my previous post really helped me know I'm not the only one out there who's so frustrated with the way teaching is heading. Some days, I am jealous of those of you who get to teach reading centers, but I don't even have that option with the way our schedule is set up. My kiddos don't go to centers, and they have no down time throughout the day when they aren't being directly instructed by a teacher. One of these days, I'll figure out a time when I can get these first graders into some fun activities where they can explore their learning a bit!! :-)

In other news... Here is the latest in my set of StoryTown activity printables! Click the pic to check out this packet that works with Lesson 6, studying the -all chunk!

Hope you all had a relaxing weekend! Have a tremendous week... may it be the best one yet! :)



Creativity in Teaching...

Alright, y'all... I gotta be honest with you! I am W.O.R.N. out this week!! My kiddos seemed to have taken several steps forward in the past couple of weeks, but then the past couple of days, they've gone a little backwards, and I'm so tired :( Anyone else out there experiencing this same kinda slump?? Honeymoon's officially over, I guess!

While I'm being honest, I have to ask you guys...
Are you allowed to use those wonderful, God-given creative genes of yours in your teaching? Not just your management style, but your curriculum, also? Because, this year, I feel so squelched in that area. It breaks my heart to have all of these great ideas {many of which come from your FABULOUS blogs!!} that I know my kiddos would just die for, but I'm unable to use them!!

Instead, I turn the page each day in our basal... and teach it as it's written - with "fidelity." {Sometimes that word makes me shudder a bit...} And now, we have a new pilot/Common Core math curriculum to follow, as well. It's written by the folks at the Board Office, along with a handful of classroom teachers. Once again, I turn the page and teach what's given to us. I did find out this week that we have a bit of flexibility in this math thing, but not as much as I'd like. Thankfully my principal is creative herself, and she encourages us as much as she can!

So... my question to you: How do you do it?!? How do you follow the rules, yet still fulfill that inner desire to be creative and help your kiddos learn as much as you know they can by creating lessons that are tailored to them and their learning styles??

I'm feeling a bit saddened this year... this isn't what I signed up for when I decided in 4th grade to become a wonderful teacher someday.



A Weekend for Remembering

Hey you guys! I hope you have had a relaxing weekend and enjoyed your time with family :-)

This was not my ideal weekend, that’s for sure. Saturday evening, a colleague and myself went to the funeral of a 3 month-old little brother of a student of mine. Little Gavin was remembered in a very touching ceremony in which his mom and dad both spoke of the hopes and dreams that they had for their only son. Throughout the entire service, my little girl was just bawling, and it broke my heart, y’all. I am so glad I went, so she could see I care about her and her family. I let her know we missed her so much in class, and she said she’s ready to come back. We’ll see her tomorrow, and I will be greeting her with the biggest hug.

Then today, I, along with all of you, couldn’t help but travel back in time to ten years ago. TEN YEARS AGO. Holy moly. I remember like it was yesterday…

I was a freshman at Oklahoma Baptist University, and I was set to meet a buddy in the lobby so we could travel to breakfast. As I walked into the common room, my RD was watching the events unfold on TV. Unknowingly, I asked,

“What movie are you watching?”
”It’s not a movie… it’s really happening.”

Woah. My friend came in and we traveled in confusion to the cafeteria. In there, the big screen was showing footage, and we witnessed the 2nd plane hit. To say I was scared and disturbed is an understatement.

We walked in silence to our class (classes hadn’t been canceled yet, but they were shortly), where I was to take my first test of college ever – in government, none the less. My professor still had us take the test.

And I FAILED. But I didn’t care. My dad was on business in Atlanta and I needed to make sure he was okay. Since airports had shut down, he was unable to fly home, so his business buddies all decided to “steal” their rental car and drive it back to Kansas City. He was telling me of stopping off at Cracker Barrel and plugging in his phone {along with all of the others traveling home} on the hearth of their fireplace. But, he made it home, and my family was safe.

This was a day that changed our forevers. I will never forget.

Hug your kids. Love your family. Have a great week, everyone!



I’m trying something new…

A few months back, Cara at The First Grade Parade suggested switching over to Windows Live Writer to create blog posts. I decided tonight (instead of working on more school stuff) to give it a whirl!

So far, so good… What about you guys?? Do you still use Blogger or did you get sick of it like I did! It seemed to give me so many problems, so I quit! :-) I’m loving how there’s a toolbar up here that looks like I’m typing in Word or Power Point! I’m so comfortable with those programs, that this just makes sense!

Thanks, Cara, for the suggestion!

Also, I think I LOVE short weeks! Every week should be 4 little days with a  long 3 day weekend… don’t you think?!? We seemed to get a lot accomplished this week, and my kiddos had a treeeeee-mendous day today! I love it when I can enjoy a nice {competitive} game of Memory with two of my little beauties during indoor recess… PS – they totally kicked. my. tail. !!Milton Bradley Memory Board GameOn another note, tomorrow evening I’m attending the funeral for the little baby brother of my student that passed away this week; I’m going with her Kindergarten teacher. I’m pretty sure this will be unlike any service I’ve ever attended… I’ve never been to a service for anyone that wasn’t an adult. So sad. :(



My heart hurts.

Well, folks, I heard of some news this morning that I have never had to deal with before. One of my beautiful little girls' little adorable baby brother passed away suddenly yesterday.

We know no details.. she wasn't at school today (we only found out because Mom called the office this morning with the quick explanation of why my darling was going to be absent), but she will probably be back tomorrow.

After the shock and tears passed this morning, my head couldn't stop spinning... poor family! Poor little 6-year-old big sister who is left not understanding why her 5 month old baby brother is gone. I cannot even imagine, you guys.

What are your suggestions? How do I handle this and the questions that will come from my class tomorrow? How do I let this little one know I am here for her and it's okay to cry and be angry and take it easy? I've had parents pass away while I've had their child, but never a sibling and never so suddenly.  My heart is hurting for everyone involved, and I can't wait to give my student a great big hug... it's all I know I can offer her for sure right now.



Welcome to the New Me!

Ok, maybe not the new "me", per say, but the new blog for me! :-)

{I don't know about y'all, but this Tuesday-seems-like-a-Monday thing wore me O.U.T. today! Needless to say, the evening will consist of TV, blog-stalking, and my oversized chair. And maybe my "puppy", Lucy. Maybe.}

Thanks to Jenn and her hubby over at Dream Team Designs, this page has a new look that is ALL me. And no one else will have it, so I won't think I'm going crazy when I click someone's link and I see my freebie layout... haha!

If you are in the market for a new look, whether it's a personal blog or a teaching blog or whatever, definitely check out Dream Team designs... they are an incredible pair to work with and, as you can see, they do wonderful work! While you're checking them out, be sure to stop by Jenn's teaching blog - she's such an incredible inspiration!

Lastly, if you've been SOOO kind as to add my blog button to your sidebar, would you mind changing over to my new pretty button? Pretty please? If you do, please let me know in a comment and I'll be SURE to add your button to my bloggy-blog, also. Thank you kindly!



Made Me Smile!! :-)

I hope this post finds y'all fully enjoying your day off today! If you live close to KC, you are also enjoying some BEA-U-TIFUL weather! Finally :-)

As I was watching the Criminal Minds marathon on A&E while cozying up with a blanket {yes, a blanket!!} while the curtains blew in the breeze, my phone alerted me that I had an email. I was nominated by sweet Nicole @ First Grade OWLs as one of her Top 10 Blogs! This made me smile, friends!

Top 10 TBA
Here are some of my favorite blogs (many of whom have already been nominated, I'm sure, but I'll try to pick some new ones!!)... check them out and say hello!!


(there was no blog button here!)

F is for First Grade
Lastly... stay tuned for a WONDERFUL new look coming my way V.E.R.Y. soon! Eeeek!  :-)



Accent Vlog Linky Party!!

Happy LONG weekend!! :) In order to celebrate, I thought I'd kick off a party for us all... I hope you'll join in!

I saw this on a friend's blog, and loved this idea, especially since we're all over the US. Simply watch my video (it's less than 5 minutes, and Puh-LEASE pardon the 9:45 pm curly hair mess!), then shoot your own, and link up! You'll be reading a list of words whose pronunciations vary across the nation, as well as a list of questions that have different answers depending on where you are! It's gonna be fun... and good for some giggles! What better way to kick back and relax away from school, right??

Well, here goes nothing:

The instructions are to say these words:
Aunt, Route, Wash, Oil, Theater, Iron, Salmon, Caramel, Fire, Water, Sure, Data, Ruin, Crayon, Toilet, New Orleans, Pecan, Both, Again, Probably, Spitting image, Alabama, Lawyer, Coupon, Mayonnaise, Syrup, Pajamas, Caught

And answer these questions:
What is it called when you throw toilet paper on a house?
What is the bug that when you touch it, it curls into a ball?
What is the bubbly carbonated drink called?
What do you call gym shoes?
What do you say to address a group of people?
What do you call the kind of spider that has an oval-shaped body and extremely long legs?
What do you call your grandparents?
What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket?
What do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shining?
What is the thing you use to change the TV channel?

Have FUN! Add your link below, and please invite your friends... teachers or not!




Oh my goodness, you guys!! I had a first today. I'm in my 7th year of teaching, and I'm usually the teacher that gets the BIG TICKET kiddos - you know the ones ;) Anywho, I have a big ticket again, this year, but my story is not about him! It's about my sweet, quiet little Miss C.

Miss C must have been tired of waiting in line. So, what did she do? She BIT her neighbor. On the CHEEK. WHAT!?!?! I was flabbergasted. I have never seen a first grader bite in all my years. Have you?? Needless to say, mom was called and apologized for her daughter's behavior. Sigh... They're gonna keep me on my toes this year! :) Which leads me to my next point...

I am in LOVE with this! Check out the CFC blog and watch the Class?Yes! video! I am going to try this tomorrow. And the next day. And the next til it works!!

Clutter-Free Classroom



Three for Thursday!

Once again, I'm joining in the FUN over at Blog Hoppin'!  Here are my top faves in 3 categories: fonts, blogs, and online resources!! {Unfortunately, I'm apparently NOT very original! So many others share my favorites, too!}

Favorite Fonts:
Most of these are from Kevin & Amanda, but some are from Lettering Delights! L.O.V.E. me some fun fonts!

 Favorite Blogs:
Oh man... SO many to choose from!! The first blog I was introduced to was The First Grade Parade, and I instantly was HOOKED on this whole teacher-blogging-thing! :)

I also love these blogs, among several others... please check over here ---------------> for more!!


Favorite Online Resource:
Well, I am in love. With pinning. And boards. Oh my. Whoever invented this wonderland deserves something grand. :)
Come on over and JOIN ME!

I hope you enjoyed my list... it broke the rules. I was only supposed to name one under each category. OOPS! :)

Blog Hoppin



My home away from home!! :)

Since we spend SOOO much time in our classrooms, we need to make sure we love them, right?!? This is why we work so hard the couple of weeks before school starts to get everything just perfect... and then (if you're like me) spend all year long making notes of how to make it better for next year! :)

Here's a peek into my little Room 108. Welcome! It's nice to have you!!

Walking into my door, here's the view you get! I'll show you around, heading to the right, and then we'll go all the way around the room!

Here is our large group area...to the right are my file cabinets and LOTS of StoryTown materials stored in color-coded crates!

 As you can see, I have my calendar wall here; we don't do too much during calendar time b/c we only have 60 minutes each day for math... I want to be doing my lessons and having them go to math tubs rather than sitting here listening to the Star Helper tell them the date :)
{Forgive the random label on the calendar; our writing lesson had the kids labeling things around our room!!}

 Above that is OUR BEST wall! Colorful squares of scrapbooking paper with my kiddos' names on the right side. Perfect frame for hanging wonderful work!

This is where I sit while teaching in whole group... Our Happy Habits posters are there for all to see all the time! I'm trying to think of something creative to do with the front of my Big Book storage unit - any ideas of how to cover the u-g-l-y grey?? Behind this space is my desk and our math wall that will change based on our topic of study! 

 Right now, I simply have up colors and easy stuff... it'll change soon! I CANNOT remember where I first saw these math key words, but I love them! My whole team has them up now, too!

 Here is my teacher shelf with all my materials for the day/week/next week! Behind curtain #1 are my recess tubs, #2: my anthology readers and storage containers, #3: my math manipulatives! {Those curtains are the ONLY evidence of sewing I've ever done. In my LIFE.}

 Here is my new Word Wall!!! I'm trying out an interactive one this year... so I laminated my papers and will sticky-tack my words onto the correct paper. The kids can hop up there, pull off the word they need, and get going with their writing! Wish me luck as I deal with how crooked they'll stick the words back up....!!

The colorful tubs are my math tubs (I put the numbers on after snapping this pic), and the rectangle table is my Guided Reading/Math group table.

Around the corner is my M.E.S.S of a library!!! I'm so embarrassed. This is definitely on my to-do list this year - get this thing under control!! I also store my whiteboard and clip boards down there on the left.

Here is my GR storage cart and student computer. The colored drawers hold nothing yet... but I'm sure I'll find math stuff to stick in there soon!!

My whiteboard! Above if are my StoryTown letters, below it are ways to Be In Control of us! You can also see my kiddos' tables and our focus wall.

Close up of the Focus Wall! Still a work in progress, as this is the first year we've used one. So far I like it... we'll see how I tweak it as the year goes on!

 Here are the hooks we hang our bags on with their name tags. On the left is my daily Star Helper, our Give Me Five rules, and How We Get Home poster! {Plus evidence of my too-many storage bins... crates going unused!}
Well, there it is! I hope you enjoyed your visit... come back soon!! :) Join in the party at Blog Hoppin'!



Teacher Talk Tuesday

{Pretend like I didn't just post 2x within 30 minutes of each other...}

I'm joining in again with Blog Hoppin' for Teacher Talk Tuesday! It's all about advice for new teachers... I'm definitely NO expert, but here's what I've got:

- LAUGH! Laugh at yourself and laugh with the kids. Let them see you're a real person with a sense of humor. It'll make them feel more comfortable.

- GO HOME! Pick one evening to stick around a work, but the other days, leave the classroom! Even if you're not married or whatnot, get out and about and keep strong friendships. You'll need outlets as you go.

- MAKE MEMORIES! Keep a folder, file, post-it pad.. whatever floats your boat. But write down the hilarious things that happen. Keep the handmade cards you get for the holidays. These items will help you remember what it was that got you into teaching in the first place. And on those tough days (which we all have!), pull out that file and remember the good things. Smile, it makes you feel better!!

And, that's all I've got. I'm pooped, and have to get ready for my LOOOONG day tomorrow (last day of meeting for grad classes - WOOT!). Can't wait to read all of your ideas and advice! Join in the party!

(The button is still not working for me.. I've done this a MILLION times, so I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong...)


So, I'm a little behind....

But I hope you'll "meet" me anyways! :-) Here is my post to link up with Blog Hoppin'! I'm a teeny bit stressed out between the beginning of school, a new reading series, and other stuff, so this is a WELCOME distraction!!

Tell us a little something about you.....
I am 28 years old, and I just began my 7th year of teaching. I have always taught 1st grade, and, while I'd be open to a change some day, I'd be perfectly happy staying right here! I have been married to my hubby for 3+ years now, and we have a black lab "puppy" (she's over 1 year now...) named Lucy. She's my spoiled little baby!!


How long have you been teaching?
As I said above (I'm not good at reading all the way thru before I start something, oops!), I started my 7th year of teaching last week. I am 6 weeks away from finishing my Master's degree in Elem. Ed. and I can't WAIT for the boost in my paycheck!! I'd love to go back some day to study curriculum.

You might not know.....
That blind dates really do work!! My hubby and I met on a BLIND DATE! Good thing his best friend knew we'd be a great fit! So great, in fact, we met August 28, got engaged January 20, and married June 14!! Less than 10 months, start to finish :) As noted by my lack of ability to read something all the way before starting, I tend to jump right into things I know are good!!

What are you looking most forward to this school year?
I can NOT wait to see how math tubs work in my classroom! Even tho I was a slacker on my blog in posting about the Debbie Diller Linky Party, I sure read everyone else's posts! My whole team (even the 2 new ones!) is on board, and we're ready to get going!
What do you need to improve?
Oh dear.  Hmm... where to begin!! I really want to stretch myself in the area of StoryTown - I tend to teach the basal and read thru the lessons as they are written and I don't think outside the box to much! I've already noticed in the 2 days I've taught it this year that my kiddos are going to need some serious brain breaks during our 1 1/2 hour ST literacy block! Eek!

What teaching supplies can you not live without?
My HUGE water bottle (I always forget how SORE my throat gets every August!), my Mr. Sketch smell-good markers, my Sharpie flip-chart markers, and tubs. Bins. Organizing items. I LOVE them! I have so many of them, and I can't stop from buying more!

I hope you'll link up for the PARTY! ( I don't know why the blog button isn't working for me... click the link at the top to join!)



A Few of My Favorite Things! *Linky Party*

What a week... Meet the Teacher night and 3 1/2 days with my new little bunch of kiddos! I am plum tuckered out, friends. But, this is a great little brain break for us all this weekend... join in Fabulous in First's Linky Party!

Here are some of my contributions:

My favorite websites
(No, I'm not a Mom yet, but this site leads me to great budget-saving ideas!)

The Pioneer Woman! Yumm-o!

Click here to check out and follow my boards!

My favorite graphic and font sites

Due to some recent changes in some of these websites' policies, pleae read their TOUs carefully before selling/creating products with your purchases!!

Just So Scrappy

I get the cutest scrapbooking fonts at Free Scrapbook Fonts! kevinandamanda.com/fonts
Lettering Delights
My favorite home stuff

I just bought this Scensty warmer for home...

and this one for school! Shh... hubby doesn't know yet... :)

I have this stuff in every room of my house... LOVE it!

My favorite normals...TV shows, colors, movie... :)

I cannot get enough of this show! I just love Abby :)

Watch Now
Big Bang Theory... great for good belly laughs after a long day at school!

I love all shades of blues and purples... so soothing!

Ahhh... Ghost.

Gotta love Dopey!

Thanks for allowing me to take a little break from reality and revel in my favorite things for a while. I hope you'll take the time to share! Click Michelle's button to join in the F-U-N!!