Saturday, November 23, 2013

Tough Turkeys

Where in the world is this year going??!!??? I cannot believe it is almost December!

I started thinking this year about some of the tough kiddos I have taught before. These are the kiddos that seem to never be absent but make YOU want to be absent. I think with all of the stress and higher expectations "they" keep piling on us those tough turkeys seem to stand out even more.

We tend to keep having more and more we have to teach but we also have more and more behavior issues each year. There is not enough time in the day to take care of everything but it is so important to help our tough turkeys. We will always have patience when our kiddos struggle academically but we tend to have less and less patience with our tough turkeys' behavior issues.

I have to stop and remind myself that I cannot control a kiddo's behavior but only how I react to that behavior. The only person I can change is myself. One of the most powerful lessons Conscious Discipline has taught me is about how the way we react to the upset of others teaches a child how they will react to the upset of others. Whatever we offer to others we strengthen in ourselves.

Our attitude makes a HUGE difference. There are days that before I even get to school I feel discouraged. I think with all of the higher expectations we are teaching concepts that are not developmentally appropriate. This often frustrates our kiddos and can factor into their behavior problems. We also have kiddos who live in a completely different world with different expectations when they go home. School and School Rules are completely foreign to them. We often forget that we need to be the ones to teach them this different set of rules and expectations. I forget almost daily that each one of the kiddos in my classroom are either extending love or crying out for love. I might be the only one to love that little tough turkey each day.

Each day we need to make a choice to greet all of our kiddos, especially our tough turkeys, with love and patience. 

From My Heart to Yours

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Visit from The Pumpkin Snatchers

On Tuesday, my kiddos were beyond excited before they even got to our classroom. All around the school, children were seeing candy corns EVERYWHERE! As soon as my kiddos got to our classroom, they found a letter from the Pumpkin Snatchers.

The Pumpkin Snatchers told us that they love to eat certain letters. We needed to go and hunt for them around the school by following the candy corn trail they always leave behind. Before the hunt, we sang the song the Pumpkin Snatchers left kiddos love to sing even though their teacher cannot carry a tune AT ALL!!! :)

When we got back to the classroom, we saw that the Pumpkin Snatchers had come by and left us some goodies. We had the Pumpkin Snatchers game, several little pumpkins, and the recipe to make Pumpkin Slime.

We read the letter from the Pumpkin Snatchers again to help us remember that they only love to eat the letters in the word PUMPKINS. We sorted the letters they like and the ones that they dislike. After sorting the letter cards, we used the letters in the word PUMPKINS to spell different words. I am always amazed and the things my kiddos notice when we do different word study activities.

(sorry for the glare)

We practiced playing the game and investigating the letters the Pumpkin Snatchers ate. In the pumpkin container are the cards and the magnetic letters needed to spell the words. This game is great practice for isolating beginning, medial, and final ending sounds. My kiddos are dying to play this during Daily 5! :)

Finally, we made Pumpkin Slime using the recipe the Pumpkin Snatchers left us. Add some food coloring and some pumpkin pie spice and your kiddos will go crazy for this! :) 

We made several batches and they all turned out a little different but still oodles of fun! I didn't get a picture of the slime actually dripping from their hands but here is just a peek at what we did.

I think the Pumpkin Snatchers may be one of our favorite visitors this year! Hop over to my store to check it out!

Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy. I'll choose a winner tomorrow morning. :)

From My Heart to Yours,

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Stamina Critters

WOW-zers...How in the world is it already October???!!!??? I am not sure where the end of August and the whole month of September went! We have been very busy in 1st grade...all 22 of us. Our class sizes are usually around 17 so 5 extra kiddos make a HUGE difference in EVERYTHING we do! I know many, many of you have larger class sizes than this...all I can say to that is Bless Your Hearts- You amaze me! :)

We are doing Daily 5 for the first time this year so we are really working on our STAMINA in all we do! Because there are so many of us, we started by working on our stamina on the Learning Rug. I have a very verbal groups this year who are experts in sharing...we are just needing to work on sharing about learning at the appropriate time! :)

After talking and writing about Our Learning Rug promises, we learned a song about stamina!

Later that day, we had a visit from the Stamina Critters.

Here is the poem they sent us. :)

When the Stamina Critters arrived, they quietly started talking to me. I would hold one up to my ear and they would tell me about how they would be watching for children keeping their stamina. They would really be watching for kiddos working quietly. As I noticed kiddos staying on task and working quietly, they would get to go and add a Stamina Critter to the jar. Sometimes I hear Stamina Critters calling out student names that they spy keeping their stamina. The kiddos swear they hear the Stamina Critters talking too....This is when I pray that I am not warping my kiddos too severely! :)

They are so stinkin' cute when they carefully take a Stamina Critter out of the basket and place them in the jar. They are always sure to place them in there so their eyes are watching us.

This has really helped my kiddos. They love to see how many of them can keep their stamina at different times during the day. I have even carried a Stamina Critter when we go down the hallway. Of course, it talks to me while we walk. We have been able to add 22 Critters before when everyone did Read to Self for 20 minutes with no call backs! :)

I hope to build my stamina back so I can blog more, I have really missed my sweet bloggy friends. :)

From My Heart to Yours,

Friday, August 23, 2013

Who am I? Looking from the Heart

Our first day of school is on Monday. Early in the summer I already knew who many of my new kiddos would be. I also knew in which classes each of my kiddos from this past year would be (and the classes many other kiddos would be as well). Knowing those 2 things I must admit something to you....I realized how easy it is to make some judgments.

Have you ever looked at your class role and felt a little bit depressed or nervous by a name you saw on there? Have you ever wanted to go tell the next year's teacher about a particular child before they even have the chance to meet them? I typically don't put a lot of value into what another teacher has to say about one of my in coming kiddos because I know so much can change when the dynamics of a classroom change...but I am also guilty of telling a 2nd grade teacher about a child that *might* be a stinker even though I might also be telling that teacher of ways to reach that child that worked for me (and others) and made a huge difference.

I also realized earlier this week that I have been guilty at different times in my career of talking about a class that is really __________ or __________. I know that myself and others have shared about a student that is __________, __________. and __________.....and many of the adjectives that fill those blanks might not always be very positive. Those descriptions are also usually strings of letters that make us twitch- ADD, ADHD, ODD, ED...and our brains are thinking OMGoodness! :)

I thought about what it would be like if my principal were to call each of the parents of my new kiddos into to her office to share about all of my faults and weaknesses before they even had the chance to meet me. Would they be able to see my strengths when they finally had the opportunity to meet me? Of course not....they would always be seeing those faults first.

I then remembered one of the most profound sentences out of the Conscious Discipline book...."What we say to a child becomes their inner voice for the rest of their lives." Think how easy it is to remember the negative words of just one teacher...but stop and realize for a minute that even though you might not have said mean or hurtful words to a child that our attitude and thinking effect our body language and interactions with that child.

How can we really help each other when we focus on the weaknesses or use those weaknesses as an excuse instead of pushing ourselves more to make a connection with those students we often see as "difficult"?

Each day each one of us has the potential to be the ONE person in a child's life to make a difference. If we are not working to make those connections and touch the hearts of each child in our room than it is easy to head down the road to becoming an ineffective teacher. After a child has just 1 year in a class with an ineffective teacher, it takes 3 years for that child to make the gains that were lost.

Our Superintendent today had us pull out our phones and find a picture of the most important child or children in our lives. We then had to imagine how we would feel if that child was placed in a classroom with an ineffective teacher. I don't even have to tell you where our thoughts and hearts went with that.

Imagine what a difference could be made if each child in our classroom thought they were a priceless treasure to their teacher....a teacher who loved them even when they really were being a stinker.

The children in our classrooms are only going to be as great as we believe they can we see them and treat them will be the legacy they take with them when they leave our classrooms.

From My Heart to Yours,

Friday, July 26, 2013

/F/ /r/ /o/ /g/ = Monkey...right????

Hi sweet friends! I am not sure where the summer has gone but I hope it has been a fun and relaxing one for everyone. I have spent A LOT of time this summer working on our district's Science and Social Studies curriculum team. I am so ready to give birth to that baby! Lol! =)

I have also spent time at my sister's pool, spent time with my dear friend PJ (aka my pajamas), spent time with my nieces, and spent a wonderful week in the Cayman Islands....I am ready to go back NOW. =)

I have also spent a little time working on activities that will help my kiddos be successful...especially in Reading and Math.

In Texas, we give a test 3 times a year called the TPRI. It is a test that assesses phonemic awareness and other skills that young children need to become successful readers. One part of the test assesses the children being able to blend sounds together to make a word. For example, I say /t/ /o/ /p/ and the child says top. To say that I get interesting answers would be a HUGE understatement. I am talking about beat your head against the wall wacko answers. I might say /f/ /i/ /sh/ and I have kiddos saying words like alligator, monkey, Sponge Bob, pizza, and even their own name.

Since Stretchy Snake has helped my kiddos so much when it comes to decoding unknown words, I decided he could help us with this tricky skill too! =)

Click on the pictures to go check it out in my TPT store. =)

My kiddos are obsessed with Stretchy Snake. This game has helped tremendously with this skill that is so tricky for so many of my struggling readers. It is /p/ /er/ /f/ /e/ /c/ /t/ for your Guided Reading and RtI groups.

The teacher will say the sounds /d/ /i/ /p/ and the child has to mentally blend the sounds together and then cover the correct picture. Once all of the pictures are covered the winner will either share the pictures he/she covered or segment the sounds back to the teacher when he/she calls out the pictures that were covered.

There are 5 different games and 12 assessments/individual practice for segmenting sounds....lots of Stretchy Sounds fun! =)

Since I am obsessed with Word Study I wanted to bring back a few *freebies* that I have shared before. I will be using these the first few weeks of school. 

and one more =)

I would love for you to leave me a heart note if you grab them. =)

I have a lot I want to share with you in the next few weeks....I have some really fun visitors that will be bringing us some very fun packages full of lots of awesome activities, snacks, songs and poems, and more. I hope you hop by again to check it out. =)

From My Heart to Yours,

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

Where have I been???!!!??? I have been lost and trying to find my blogging heart again. If I really think about it, I have really not blogged much this year. I am sure I could come up and share with you oodles and oodles of excuses to help explain WHY I have not blogged but excuses only help one to understand a problem....they do not make the problem go away...for that problem to go away, you need to take action and make a commitment.

Do you know people who make excuses for a child's behavior or even their own behavior?

Do you think there are excuses for a person's behavior?

The last month of school I heard this phrase often....I even said it myself once!!!!

We have been in school 167 days! You should know how to walk down the hall quietly by now!!!
I just don't understand why you cannot sit still and on your bottom when you have been doing it ALL YEAR long!

I think often we think to ourselves Well, they should know better than to do that!!!

I know there have been many, many, MANY times when a child has done something and I looked at that child like they must have lost their mind. Seriously, there are many times when I have no words to say to a child after some of the crazy things they have done or said....but then I have to remind myself they are 6 and school is so much more structured than what they face at home. They need our high expectations but those also need our patience.

Think to yourself for a minute if you have ever done something recently that you know you should not have.......

Anything pop into your head???

Have you driven 1, 2, or even 5 mph over the speed limit?

Talked or texted while driving?

Sped up at a yellow light when you really had time to stop?

Stood in the Express Line at the Grocery Store when you have more than 20 items?

See...just like our kiddos that "forget" how to walk quietly down the hallway, we all do some things that we probably shouldn't...but we are human and get caught up in life or forget to see how our behavior and actions might effect someone else.

Those are some things I have done before but they are also things that I have been frustrated about when someone else did it and it effected ME. We all make mistakes, do things or say things that are hurtful, make excuses when we just to do a better job.

It is so easy to make excuses for ourselves and even easier to blame others or become judgmental of their behavior....especially when it effects us and our expectations.

I know at times we might find ourselves making excuses or saying things like My kids cannot do that! or If you understood their home life, you would see and understand why they are acting this way.

Teaching at-risk kiddos can be tough because so much of what they see at home are the behaviors they are repeating in the classroom that we don't like.

Yes, their home environment helps me understand why that behavior is happening but I need to let that child know that I love them enough to let them know that a hurtful behavior is not okay.

Have you ever heard someone say this:
Well, they just don't understand me if I talk to them in a quiet, calm voice. The only time they get I mean business is when I yell at them and get in their face.

I have watched adults yell at a child in a mean and ugly way about the child talking to another child in an ugly, do as I say but not what I do doesn't really work. One of my favorite things about Conscious Discipline is the reminder to be the person we want others to become. We are mirrors.

Commitments are a HUGE part of Conscious Discipline. We talk daily about making commitments to be kind and help keep others safe. We make commitments as a School Family and we have made individual commitments.

I hope to share with you this summer a post about how to use commitments in your classroom because it will really make an amazing difference.

I am making a commitment that I will post more often. I have missed everyone and your sweet and encouraging words. =)

Here are some pictures to help you think of your week ahead and to reflect on any excuses you might be making:

Google Reader is going away tomorrow... 
I would love for you to...

Thank you for always being here for me. You are each a treasure and a blessing.

From My Heart To Yours,

Monday, May 6, 2013

Stinky Choices and Growing Kindness

If you are reading this, THANK YOU for sticking around. I cannot believe it has been so long since my last post. I think I just was in a funk. I am going to really try and do a better job about blogging. I guess part of me still worries about whether I have anything worthy to blog about.

I love hearing my class talk about Our School Family. Well, the brothers and sisters in Our School Family have been getting a little fussy with each other. So I wanted to take our job of the Kindness Recorder and do something special with it.

This is one of my favorite jobs. The Kindness Recorder looks for kind acts to add a kind flower to our flower pot.

The Kindness Recorder will tell the person who did or said the kind thing
 I am going to add you a kind flower for ________________.
The person it is being added for answers
Thank you for noticing that.

So, I thought we needed to grow some more kindness and trash our stinky, unkind choices. We were going to get some help from Freddy the Friendly Frog.

I forgot to take a picture of Freddy but here are some realistic frogs you could use. The one I have is from Wal-Mart and a little bigger than these. =)

Here is the letter we got from Freddy. I forgot to take a picture of the package and all of the goodies.  =(

We needed to start by talking about trash and how no one wants to be around it because it stinks. No one likes to play around trash . If you hang around trash, you might start to stink too. Would you rather be around flowers or trash?

We then talked about how our behavior can be stinky even though we have a kind one might notice it over the smell of our stinky choices.

Next, it was time to sort the cards Freddy the Friendly Frog left us. We sorted our cards by whether it was something that someone with a kind heart would do or something that a person who was making a stinky choice would do.
In the picture it says stinky heart but in the packet it says stinky choice. I forgot to take the picture after I changed it.

We talked about stinky choices that others had made that hurt and wrinkled our hearts. I told the kiddos that it is easy to think of the things that others have done toward us but we needed to look at the things WE have done that were stinky choices. We then wrote about those choices. Some of them were so funny. It was like a confessional. Some of them went on and on about things they had done. 

Here is where threw away our stinky choices.

Isn't this precious??? =)

After everyone threw away their stinky choices, we talked about growing kindness and how it starts from the heart. We talked about how we can show others we care about them by having a kind heart. The kiddos then made a kind flower and wrote on the petals ways they could be kind.

Freddy also brought us some flowers so we could remember to always be kind. =)

I bought my flower toys that Our Kindness Recorder uses several years ago at the Target Dollar Spot. I think I see them there every summer. If not, here is a link where you can buy some. =)

Click on the Growing Kindness picture above to download this lesson. =)

Be sure and head over to TPT this Tuesday and Wednesday for a HUGE Sale.

Thank you Beth for this adorable sale sign. =)

Be sure and check out her store. She is amazing. =)

I would love for you to leave me some kindness. =)

From My Heart to Yours,

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Cooking Pizza with Chef Ad J. Tive

When we did this lesson last year, my kiddos were crazy about it. I knew Chef Ad J. Tive would have to make a visit again. =)

When we came back from lunch on Friday, we had a letter waiting for us.

We also had 4 bags with mystery ingredients inside.

Chef Ad J. Tive told us to listen for the adjectives in each riddle because they would help us infer the ingredients we would be using.

We recorded the adjectives using interactive writing on a chart. Please keep in mind that I am NOT at all creative when it comes to making crafts. My chef hat is quite sad looking but my kiddos did not care. =)

This is the recording sheet my kiddos recorded the adjectives on.

After we inferred that we would be using strawberries, kiwi, blueberries, and a cookie, it was time for my little chefs to start cooking. They LOVED investigating the kiwi and got a kick out of this hairy fruit. We also got in some discussions about fractions and part-part-whole math.

Here are 2 of our adjective pizza creations.

Now, it was time for a craftivity. After seeing Cara's amazing and cutie patootie Compound Word Cooks, we turned them into Adjective Chefs.

They designed the pizza to look like the adjective pizza they made. They then wrote adjectives about the pizza around the plate. Here is a closer look. =)

Hop over to my TPT store to grab this fun *freebie*. =)

I would LOVE for you to leave me a heart note and let me know what you think. =)

From My Heart to Yours,

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Five for Friday on a Saturday =)

I am linking up with Doodle Bugs for her 5 for Friday for my very first time.

 I don't usually do linky parties because they scare me. They often have you sharing about yourself and that is so hard for me. So, here goes....

1. Edison is by far the most curious and weird cat I have ever known. He is a MESS! He loves to help me do everything. Cutting out lamination can be hard beacause he always wants to lay on top of it. He loves plastic and licking it. He is obsessed with plastic grocery sacks. He will carry them all around the house. I love this cat. It is amazing how quickly our pets get to be our fur babies.

2. I am obsessed with these candles from Bath & Body works. What I really should have done is taken a picture of the cabinet with all of the candles I have. Let's just say that if I ever lose electricity for weeks I am all set with candles.

These candles remind me of the beach, pool, and summer and to me that means RELAXATION. =)

3. We had a blast with a super duper fun adjective lesson yesterday. We have a few things to finish up on Monday before I share about it. This is one of the adjective pizzas we made. =)

4. I would not mind doing so many running a records a week if I could have him cheering me on. I have such a hard time remembering to go back and MSV them.

5. Here I am with my 3 Chickadees at church on Easter Sunday. I love my nieces but do not like how tall they are. I am even wearing my tall shoes in this picture!

I am off to do some housework before heading off to relax by my sister's pool. It was a dreary 50 degrees the other day and it is supposed to get up in the upper 70's today. You gotta love Texas weather! =)

I would love for you to take a few minutes to tell me about how you do running records in your classroom/district.

From My Heart to Yours,