Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Growing

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Where we live there are tons of these trees littered across the rolling hills. In some places, I've noticed there will be only one tree like this one standing strong.

Growing strong.

All living things grow physically. I've been the same height as I was in 7th grade. I've just grown wider (giggle, giggle) since then.

Lately, I've felt like I am growing up on the inside.

Is 32 when you start to become wiser?

I'm working on being a better friend. Today a friend called me to rescue her. Her car had died. I was so excited to help someone. I was equally excited to use my cables to jump start her car.

There is so much joy in helping others. I've always known that. In the past year, in hopes of trying to find happiness, I decided to be friends with whom I wanted to be friends with. Helping those whom I wanted to help. I thought protecting myself from being taken advantage of or getting hurt would make me happy, but I never really felt complete.

So, I'm ready to put myself out there. Ready to be a friend to everyone. Ready to soften my heart.

Growing. Growing. Growing.

I chuckle to myself as I am typing this. Wouldn't you think I could figure out how to be a good friend by now? I am out of highschool, you know.

Life's about learning and how to be the best you. I'm still learning.

I'm working on being a better mother. Have you had a child where you have to constantly remind them to do everything and I mean everything?

Brush your teeth, comb your hair, pick up your things, do your homework, yada, yada, yada, the list could go on.

It's literally exhausting.

I feel like I have to do that with my 10 year old and I think, "She's 10, can't she remember to do it on her own?" I finally told her one day that I wasn't going to remind her to do everything, that she was going to have to be responsible.

Let me tell you how hard that was. To just watch. Watch her make mistakes and not do anything.

I did find out the gray area in this situation. Yay me!

The other day, my daugther was forgetting to do something and I was just biting my lip, trying not to remind her what to do. I decided I would ask, "Did you do everything that you needed to today?"

She thought for a second and jumped up, "Oh wait!" and went right to what she needed to do.

After she accomplished her task, I praised her up the wazoo and asked her how it felt to remember that all on her own.

She said beaming, "It felt good."

That was a great Mom moment for me.

Growing. Growing. Growing.

I didn't feel like a horrible Mom for being on top of her reminding her every little thing to do. And, I didn't get mad at her for not remembering what to do. The best part was how proud she felt.

It was a "win win" situation.

I like this blog. I like writing what's on my mind.

Thank you blog for being there.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Letter Recognition

This is for Debra and for anyone else looking for letter recognition ideas. Thanks for reading my blog. I hope this helps!

START WITH THEIR NAME

A great place to start is with your students' own names! Help them learn to recognize the letters in their own name first. Start with the first letter of their name. You can make these easy name bags.

Find the first letter of their name in magazines and newspapers.

How about making the letters out of pipe cleaner?

ALPHABET CARDS/CHART
One of the first things that I do, is use alphabet cards and as I point to the letter and picture I say, "A, a, apple" then "B, b, bear" and "C,c,cat". We do this on a daily basis. I start doing it in order and then when they get really good, I mix the letters up.

This Alphabet chart was hanging up in my classroom. I used it during our morning routine. I did the same thing. We'd chant "A,a, apple" "B,b, bear" and so on. My helper would point to the letters and picture as we would say them in order, and then, I would let them pick some letters out of order.

CLASSROOM MESSAGE
I think any way you can incorporate different concepts into your routine, makes for the best use of time. Take for instance, the morning message. I loved writing a morning message to my kids. I was able to teach so many things from chunks and beginning sounds, to sentence structure all within a few minutes.

Say, it's Orange day and you have just gone over choral reading the message with your kids. Have someone come up and find the letter "O" and then they can pass the marker on to another student.

ALPHABET BOOKS


Reading alphabet books is another great way to teach letter recognition. Go here for a list of some books. Have a section in your reading corner with alphabet books.

Maybe have your students use magnifying glasses and be a letter detective.

CENTERS

A great way to reinforce concepts are to put them in your centers. Put some letter recognition activities into your centers. What a great way for letter exploration to happen. Maybe you'll have magnetic letters, alphabet stamps or an alphabet puzzle.


Gone Fishing?


What about these cute fish that I made out of foam? It's great because I can use these to teach other concepts by just paper clipping other things to them.

All you will need is a fishing pole that you can get at the dollar store and these fish. You can have a deck of the letters of the alphabet that the kids will draw from. They pick a letter, say it and then try to fish for it.

Letter Sorts


In this center, I typed up the alphabet in all sorts of fonts and then printed it off on a piece of cardstock, laminated it, and cut the letters out individually. Have the kids sort them by letter. Kids will start to recognize the letters in different fonts.

Letter Hunt

What about hiding letters around the room and having them find them or find the letter of the day. It's always good to start one letter at a time.

Go here for some other ideas I have posted.

Hope these ideas help!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Beans, Beans, Beans!-Kids Project

It feels so good to have given away so many of my teaching things. I feel lighter. My office looks cleaner. My husband is happier. I've made some teachers happy. Life is good.

It feels great to use the things that I have. I'm determined to use what I have decided to keep or give it away.

I love these beans! These are great manipulatives to use with number sense. How do you make them?

Easy.

All you need are lima beans (I prefer the bigger ones) and some spray paint. Place the beans on one side on newspaper and spray away. It's important that you only spray one side.

There are several activities that you can do.

Today I'll share "Combinations of 4".

Materials:
Beans
worksheet (which I have from 4-9, if you are interested, let me know)
1. Since we are doing combinations of 4, give your child 4 beans.
2. Have them shake them in your hand and drop them on the paper. Dropping them on the paper is a good guideline. Then, you don't have the kid who throws them across the room.
3. Have them color in how many colored side of the bean that they see.
4. You'll get repeats, but that is okay. You can say out loud, "2 blue beans plus 2 white beans equals 4 beans"
5. You can have the child write the addition problem, if they can.

This is a great activity to teach number combinations and the kids love playing with the beans. I don't know why but they do. Maybe it's because it's like playing with food?

I'll be sharing some other activities that you can do with the beans so stay tuned. . .

Sunday, February 14, 2010

"Up" Tie Cake

I had mentioned that I had given up on the idea of making Ben a tie because I couldn't find the fabric that I wanted. Remember he wanted a tie with personality? Something Pixar-ish? Still hooked on the tie idea, I came up with this one.

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I had SO much fun making the fondant. I have to admit, it was hard work. The whole time I'm making it, I kept thinking about "Challenge" on the Food Network. My favorite is the "Cake Challenge". It just amazes me. And now that I have tried a little bit of what they do, I am in awe at what they create in just 8 hours. I think it took me 8 hours to make this one!

Thanks to my friend Kori who shared the recipe. Let me tell you how professional I felt. I found this to make a dense cake because I didn't want the cake to crumble. It was pretty cool because I just used a cake mix and added things to make it more dense. I also made buttercream icing which is a necessity when using fondant.

For the lettering, I just found it on the internet, cut it out and used it as a tracer. By the way, the only thing not edible is the house. I was trying to make it, but it was so late and I was so tired that I just put the paper one there in the end.

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Things to watch out for:
When trimming the fondant, watch how close you are to the cake. There are a couple of spots that I cut it too close.

Watch your nails, they can make prints in the fondant. I think next time, I will trim my nails, just to be safe.

Will I try this again?

Most definitely.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Reading Corner

This week has flown by! I was thinking today about what I accomplished this week. Not nearly as much as I would like to. This week, I went through the teaching things that I have kept over the years. I used to teach 1st grade and over the past few years have probably de-junked 4 or more times.

I can tell you one thing.

It's hard to let go.

For me, it's easier to let go a little at a time. If I had the hind sight, at the time I quit, I would have given almost everything to the teachers at my school.

I like keeping some things because my kids enjoy them so much and I enjoy doing things with them. I've had alot of things packed away and finally decided that if I'm not using them right now, that I need to give them away.

I stumbled across some things that are perfect for a reading corner. So what should you have in a reading corner?

1. Books. Books. Books.
I like to put mine in a basket because it doesn't take up alot of space. If you have the space you could get something like these:


2. Telephones


Check out these bad boys that I found while cleaning. I had to resurrect them and let my kids enjoy them.

These were in my reading corner when I was teaching. We called them, "telephones". I guess now a days you may want to call them "cell phones".


These were great because we had the kids whisper read in the reading corner. The kids loved them because they heard their voice loud and clear. The teachers loved them because the kids were quiet. So, go, make a trip to Home Depot or Lowes and stick them in your reading corner.

3. Magnifying Glass



The kids will love using magnifying glass to make the words bigger. I used magnifying glasses, when I was teaching to have the kids look for word wall words (aka sight words).

You can call them "word detectives". Pretty cute huh?

4. Little Stuffed Animals


Who wouldn't love to cuddle with a favorite soft toy and read them a story?

5. Pointer Sticks


You can make little pointer sticks out of dowels and pom poms or holiday pencil (not sharpened) with a big eraser on it. Be creative!

The kids can point to the words as they read them with the pointer stick.

Make reading fun!

Monday, February 8, 2010

You Gotta Try This!

Some people can use this:
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Combined with this:


To make this:
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If you can't, Photofunia is a fun place to visit. For those of you who don't know how to use Photoshop, this is a quick and easy way to make you look like you can.

Just choose a picture that you want, browse from you images on your computer and tah dah! You look like a pro! Just keep in mind that you may have to resize your image. It will tell you if your image is too large.

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Had to do this one:
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So, go, have some fun!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Valentine Wreath

I was so proud of myself, getting my kids ready so that we could go to "music time" today.

My first real attempt at getting out of the house and doing something besides shopping. I'm new to area, but everyone keeps telling about this "music time" that I must go to.

Note to self. Get directions first or at least the address.

We drove around and I couldn't find it anywhere and so what to do? I end up at Joann's again because I have got to figure out how I am going to do this Valentine's Day gift for my husband.

I'll let you in on it. I was going to make him a tie, but not just any tie. A tie with personality. "B" has complained that his ties are too ordinary. He works at Pixar, and since working there has decided his current ties just won't do.

Unfortunately, there is no silk fabric with Toy Story or Up characters. I've got to think of something else.

While at Joann's I pick up some wooden hearts and a glitter heart ensemble to fancy up my wreath. I've already got some garland.

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Since some of the hearts have glitter all over them, I decide to glitterfy the wooden ones.

I paint them and before the paint dries sprinkle glitter on them.


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I like glitter and it likes me. Back in the day, I was known as the glitter queen. I had glitter on my toenails and glitter on anything I could get my hands on.

The heart ensemble fell apart during construction so I decided to connect them with beads. I drill holes into the wooden hearts and use wire to attach them to the wreath.

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I also had some gems leftover to give it some BLING! Like it needed more shiny.

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I like decorating for the holiday. Especially when it only cost 2.00!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

An Epiphany of Sorts

I'm exhausted.

I'm always exhausted.

I'm not as bad as I could've been. I snuck in a little nap with "X" laying on top of me watching Monster's Inc.

The kitchen's a mess, the floor needs vaccumed and there are toys everywhere. Today I don't feel productive but I feel like a good Mom.

Sometimes, I get down because there are things that I WANT to do and I don't get the chance to do them. Today, I didn't do much because I couldn't decide what to do. The clock was ticking away and somehow moving faster because it knew I only had a limited time before I had to go pick up someone from school.

I travel to the school 4 times a day, my two daugthers are on completely different schedules. I'm almost getting the hang of it. By the time I get the hang of it, the kids will be out of school and then we will be on a whole other schedule!

Pause. "Z" is up.

Okay. I'm, back. It's an hour and a half later and all of the kids are in bed. Ahhhhh. That's a good "ah" by the way.

So back to my epiphany. I was writing in my journal the other day and as I wrote, some things became clearer to me.

I've noticed that I am an "all or nothing" girl. I think black and white. Not good.

I look at other people's photography blogs and how they have established themselves with clients and how beautiful their websites are and I get jealous. I want that. I get depressed that I am not as good as them and I will never be. I want to be more professional but don't know how to do it with four kids. I know I can't be doing photo sessions all of the time and don't know how to do it some of the time, so therefore, I don't do it much at all.

Gray area?

I've noticed how when I am all consumed with myself and the things I want to do, my kids get left behind. My kids need their Mom. They need her to be "present" in their lives. Not just their physically but mentally. They need their Mom to be engaged in their lives.

"X" is very good at helping me stop what I am doing and focus on him. Take for instance the other day. I was typing on the computer and he wanted me to read a book and I said, "Just a few minutes." He soon found his way onto my lap and popped open the book on the keyboard.

I had to stop. He was too cute. And too right.

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This is where I am needed right now.

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The things that I WANT will have to wait. Not forever. Just until I can figure out how to do a little. Life is all about balance. It doesn't have to be all or nothing. I can still do the things that I want, just not on the enormous scale that I imagine it to be.

And I need to be happy and satisfied doing a "little" because right now, I should be doing "a lot" for my kids.

They are not always going to need me and depend on me.

They are not going to stay small forever.

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I tell myself, "Self. . .Enjoy it. Love it. Find a balance."

And I will. It may take me a lifetime, but I'll give it a try.