Sunday, March 4, 2018

4 Ways to Find Balance by Taming Dinner Chaos

Recently, I have been talking with some friends and colleagues about end of the day struggles.  There is ONE thing that comes up repeatedly, with almost everyone I talk to regardless of age, gender, family structure or profession.  That struggle, my friends, is dinner.

And I get it.  It's the end of the day.  Everyone is tired.  Everyone is hungry.  Personally, I just want to get food out to the family and sit down!

I have done some trial and error research and have some tips to make it easier.

1.  Keep it simple.

Leonardo da Vinci said "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." and I think it's perfection when it comes to weeknight dinners.  This is not the day to break out the rack of lamb or Coq au Vin.  A grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup or bowl of chili is perfect for a cold night.  A big salad or a tortilla wrap make a great hot weather meal.
simple meals

2.  Think long term.

No, I don't mean your 401K.  I mean tomorrow's lunch or next weeks dinner.  I have a pretty small family of 2, but I cook for 4 (or more).  I can cook once and feed us dinner, lunch the next day and dinner in a week or two because I have frozen half.

3.  Make a plan.

And stick to it.  Every week, I take a look at our activities and decide which day or two I'll actually have time to cook.  Those are the days I plan something simple to prepare, like tacos.  I'll look at the busy days and choose something from the freezer and put it in the fridge to thaw.

4.  Let someone else do the hard work!

Not too long ago, a friend gave me a free referral to Hello Fresh.  I had wanted to try one of the meal delivery systems, but the price was a little high.  When I got the free sample though, I jumped on the bandwagon. 

I am completely SOLD on the convenience!  A cold box full of fresh ingredients arrived at my door with a complete plan for 2 delicious meals.  I am not in the position of paying for a Hello Fresh box every week (#futuregoals) BUT once a month or so is doable! 

I don't know about you, but my time is as valuable as my money-- and depending on the week, sometimes MORE valuable!

Want to try Hello Fresh for yourself?  Click here to get $40.00 off your first week! (No secrets!  I get a $20.00 credit if you try!)

Which one of these four tips is helping you tame the dinner chaos?

Saturday, February 24, 2018

St. Patrick's Day Songs for children

March 17th, AKA St. Patrick's Day, is right around the corner.  My students absolutely love when things become green and shamrocks abound.  Part of the fun of holidays like St. Patrick's Day is the ability to some novelty to the daily schedule by adding some fun songs, changing the decoration and putting the same old thing on a piece of paper in a different shape.
St. Patrick's Day songs for kids

Here are my 5 favorite St. Patrick's Day songs!

1.  I'm a Little Leprechaun by The Kiboomers
I recently discovered The Kiboomers while I was looking for Valentine's Day songs.  I was very happy they had St. Patrick's Day songs too!  The best thing about this song is that it is sung to the tune of I'm a Little Teapot.  

2.  G-R-E-E-N by The Kiboomers
No, I am not paid by The Kiboomers to highlight their music-- I just really like them!  This one is great because it's not just a fun and catchy tune.  It also provides a great way for students to remember how to spell the word green.

3.  Celebrate St. Patrick's Day by Jack Hartmann
This is an engaging counting song set to a St. Patrick's Day theme.  Students will practice counting by 1s, 2s, 5s and 10s.

4.  St. Patrick's Day Song by PlayKids
PlayKids ups the video game by providing not only a fun song and video, but a lesson as well.  This video touches on St. Patrick and Ireland as well as leprechauns, rainbows and shamrocks.

5.  St. Patrick's Day for Kids by Jus Ran
This video tells the story of St. Patrick- from being captured by pirates to the shamrock as a symbol of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  I like the Irish music and the graphics are child friendly.  Since it mentions religion, make sure you preview the video to fit your schools culture.

Make sure you follow me on YouTube to find these videos and others on a St. Patrick's Day playlist!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

5 Positive Affirmations for Teachers

A couple of years ago, I was introduced to the idea of affirmations.  I'm going to admit, that at first I was a little skeptical... it sounded a little... out there.  However, I was intrigued so I started doing some research.  According to on definition in the dictionary, an affirmation is 'emotional support or encouragement'.  Well, that doesn't sound out there.  I do that everyday for the children I teach. 

Who is doing that for us?  Some of us have significant others who give us emotional support.  Some of us have great admin and colleagues who give us emotional support. 

positive affirmation for teachers

Do you know who we all have?


Why aren't we giving ourselves the emotional support we need?

Here are some positive affirmations you can repeat to give yourself that emotional support you need.

I encourage you to print one (or more) of these out and put it somewhere you will see it.  Right now, I am using the one about responding calmly and patiently.  I have it on my bathroom mirror.  Every time I see it, I say it out loud.

Do you have a favorite affirmation that you use?  I would love to hear it!  Drop me a line in the comments or send me an email!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Old Tracks, New Tricks: Introducing Trixie, Tracky and Tinker

Old Tracks, New Tricks is an amusing new book by Jessica Peterson, published by Innovation Press.  The book stars Trixie, Tracky and Tinker as a set of tracks who get purchased and taken home to join a train set.  The three friends are in for a shock when they realize their new life is not what they thought it would be.  In their new home, the trains are in charge and order the tracks around.  Trixie, Tracky and Tinker are used to having fun and doing tricks.

Will they be happy in their new home?  You will have to read it and see!

(Please note, these links are affiliate links which means I may receive some pocket change to help support this blog and fund teaching expenses when you make a purchase. As always, the opinions are my own and I promise to only share what I truly love- cross my teacher's heart!  Also, I received an ARC in exchange for writing a review of this book and creating a free resource to go along.)

Buy Old Tracks, New Tricks here!

I truly enjoyed reading this book.  It is perfect for PK-2 and I'm excited to read it to my class.  The human character is quite a bit younger than 2nd graders, but I think they will enjoy the photograph images. 

Pre-K Teachers can use the book:
-as part of a train unit (especially the activities in the back)
-practice identifying characters
-encouraging creativity when building with tracks

Kindergarten Teachers can use the book:
-as part of a train unit
-recognizing and producing rhyming words
-counting items on each page

First and Second Grade Teachers can use the book:
-recognizing and producing rhyming words
-identify characters, setting, problem and solution
-sequence events in the story

This will be a great book to use when discussing the difference between fiction and nonfiction.  Having photographs is generally an indication of a nonfiction book, but this book uses photographs and is purely fiction.

It's also a great book for character lessons such as being kind, playing with others, taking responsible risks and being yourself.

My favorite part of the book is at the very end.  There are 2 special sections, the first is called How to Invent Your Own Track Tricks and is a great way to teach the engineering process.  The next section is called Track-tivities and has 20 activities you can do with a train set such as Painting Tracks, Train Bell Shaker and Track-tastrophe!  

You can also use these FREE word problems based on the antics of Trixie, Tracky and Tinker.  Click here to download them!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Top Ten Tips from Teachers for Back to School

The Back to School season is upon us and teachers everywhere are working overtime.  I held a contest on my fb page to see what tried and true tips teachers had.    Here are my 10 favorite!

Karissa won the contest because I really loved her advice "have fun with it! He first weeks are stressful and hectic just as much for the kids as for you. Just remember its all going to work out so have fun with teaching those babies, and they'll have fun too."  So often we get caught up in OUR stress that we forget about the kids when we are really there for the kids!

Kelsey says "do all you can to get a good night of sleep before the first day and really the whole first month!!"  Ahh sleep.  Sleep is so important and often one of the first things to go when we get busy.  You have to take care of yourself so you can take care of others.

Julie says, "seek out those veteran teachers and get advice from them. They've done many years of back to school and can help you get ready."  Yes! Please don't forget to rely on the ones who have been there, done that.  

Pam says, "do your best, but remember that things won't be perfect and that's okay. Stay positive and remember that every day is a new day!! Every. Day.  You start new everyday.

Jennifer says, "It's all good!" and go with the flow. Schedules might get mixed up, there might be lines in the cafeteria, kids might melt down and it may be too hot to go outside for recess (here in Oklahoma that's a thing) but at the end of the day it's all water off a duck's back. Don't sweat the small stuff!"  Sweating the small stuff will stress you out! I like to teach my 2nd graders the word flexibility.

Carolyn says, " Make sure you have the basics covered. Know how each child is going home, what your schedule is, etc The rest will fall into place."  Ahhhh.... I swear the most stressful thing I do on the first day of school is send kids home!  I worry about getting their transportation right and think that is the most important thing.

Rhoda says, "Have your house in order before school starts so that isn't stressing you either." Uggg, I struggle with this All.  The.  Time.  Seriously... I feel like I can have it together at home OR at school.  

LaNessa says, "My tip is to remember to take time for yourself! Decompress after school."  Again, you can't help others if you are empty.  I wrote a blog post that shares 5 ways to practice self-care on the first day of school.  You can find it here.

Jacob says, "Figure out who is likely to cause problems and start building the relationship quickly."  The key to behavior problems is relationship building.  If you can get that child on your side, you can change the dynamics of the classroom.

Angie says, "Start the year knowing your rules, consequences, procedures and expectations.  Start strong with them from the beginning.  It's easier to lighten up if you realize you are being too strict but it's difficult to get stricter."

Do you have a tip for Back to School?  Drop it in the comments, I would love to hear it!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

5 Simple Self Care Practices for the First Day of School

Teaching is a job that I like to call a 'heart job'.  We do it with our hearts.  We invest our hearts so deeply and fully into our kids and our classrooms, that we forget to take care of ourselves.  Do you know what happens when people forget to take care of themselves?  Not only is it not pretty, we can't help others when we are running on empty.  These 5 simple steps for the first day of school will help you take care of yourself.

1- Arrive early.  There is something magical about the classroom in the early morning before the kids arrive.  Drink your coffee or eat your breakfast.  Savor the very last moments of peace and quiet.  Sit at your desk.  Gaze lovingly at all the beautiful displays and decorations you have worked so hard on...

2-  Wear your best shoes.  No, not those 🠝, the other ones.  Today is not the day to impress people with your fancy shoes.  Leave them at home.  Today you will be on your feet, dashing from one place to another.  Take care of your feet.  They will take care of you later.

3- Drink carefully.  Every year, I learn my bathroom schedule.  for example, I know that I can go to the bathroom at lunch, which was 11:30 last year.  That also meant I didn't drink any water before 9:30.  On the first day of school, you probably haven't figured out what your bathroom schedule will be like.  It's important to stay hydrated, but having floating eyeballs is not good self-care!

4- Pack a special treat for after school.  Make it your most favorite indulgence.   When all the children have made it home safely. Sit down, prop your feet up, take out your treat and enjoy!  You have made it!

5- Go HOME!  Tidy up the room, make sure you have everything needed for the second day of school and go home.  You will spend many extra hours at school through the year. You don't have to start today.  Go home- take a nap, watch a movie, eat some ice cream, 🍷... whatever relaxes you!

Teaching is hard!  It's important to refuel yourself.  I would love to hear your favorite self-care practice in the comments below!

Happy Teaching!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

5 Fun Phonemic Awareness Songs Your Students Will Love

Phonemic awareness songs are one of the best ways to give students fun and engaging practice with phonemic awareness.Without a solid basis of phonemic awareness, students will struggle to master reading and spelling skills.  Here are 5 of my favorite phonemic awareness songs!

(Please note, these links are affiliate links which means I may receive some pocket change to help support this blog and fund teaching expenses when you make a purchase. As always, the opinions are my own and I promise to only share what I truly love- cross my teacher's heart!)

1- Party in the Jungle by Jack Hartmann.  This is a great song for Pre-K or Kindergarten students because it uses animal sounds and incorporates fun movements!

2- Apples & Bananas by The Learning Station.
I sang this with my Kindergarten and First grade students long before the age of showing a video on a large display board came about.  It's fun, it's catchy and it's educational!

3- Beginning Sounds by Jack Hartmann
When I go looking for high-quality, education songs, Jack Hartmann is one of the first artists I look for.  This song has students practicing beginning sounds in a 'repeat after me' format.

4- Make a Rhyme, Make a Move by Jack Hartmann.
Another great Jack Hartmann song.  This one has great urban dance beat and has students practice identifying rhyming words.

5- Alphabet Animals Song Video by Have Fun Teaching
When I teach alliteration to my Second Graders, we read Some Smug Slug and sing this song.  Students write their own alliterative sentence using the first sound of their first name!  It's lots of fun and makes a great hallway display.

I would love to know what other songs you use for phonemic awareness instruction and practice.  Drop me a comment down below!
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