December 15, 2013

Gettin' into the holiday spirit!

I wanted to link up with Fabulous in First with this little linky because it's so much fun to see how everyone celebrates the holidays!

Hot Chocolate or Eggnog?
I am a lover of both- especially since the fiance just made some from scratch last night! Yuuuummmy! So I suppose right now I'd have to say eggnog!

Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
This year since we are planning (and paying) for our wedding our Christmas budget has been light. So, instead of gifts we are just saving more and putting it towards our wedding fund. So technically no presents this year under the tree.

Colored lights or white?
The boy likes the look of colored lights, however, I have always liked the cute and clean look of white lights on a Christmas tree! Maybe next year :)

When do you decorate?
I start getting into the Christmas spirit even before Thanksgiving but apparently I'm not allowed to start decorating until after Thanksgiving day. I personally think it's a dumb rule but I get to go all out the rest of the month :)

Real or fake tree?
Our first Christmas together we did real since I have a co-worker whose parents have their own tree farm! It was beautiful but with us traveling to Texas for the holidays we never really got to enjoy our tree. So, this year we made the decision to go fake.

What tops your tree?
Since we are beginning our family decoration collection we don't have much. I am still on the lookout for an angel (like what I had as a kid) or a star, but for now we have a D (for Daniel - last name initial) ornament that tops our tree.

Favorite Christmas memories or traditions?
Again, the fun thing about beginning a new life with someone is that you get to start your own family traditions and even blend the traditions from both our families. Something I've always loved doing was baking cookies from scratch. His family does the same thing by baking sugar cookies and as a family decorating them- I look forward to that every year!
Last year Philip and I baked cake pops and decorated them as elves. Needless to say we got pretty into it!

Do you remember your favorite gift as a child?
Barbies and all things Barbie! My grandmother would get me absolutely anything and everything...it's something that I hope my future daughter will enjoy as much as I did growing up. 
And I cannot forget how much I loved my Ginger Spice Barbie doll. Again, one of the best presents ever as a kid!

Do you prefer giving or receiving?
I am always the one that enjoys giving gifts more than receiving since I love the looks on my loved ones faces when they open them. I always try to put a lot of thought into the gifts I give and the feeling of making someone feel loved and appreciated is priceless.

What is your favorite Christmas song?
Rudolf is always a fun and classic Christmas song that will always remind me of when I was younger and singing songs while decorating the tree with my mom and sisters. It's hard to pick just one but if I do it'll always be Rudolf!

Candy Canes. Yuck or yum?
I like candy canes but I do like how they come in all different kinds of flavors and not just peppermint. So technically I can say yum but only if they're the Starburst flavors (not real Christmas-y, I know).

Favorite Christmas movie?
Christmas Vacation all the way. The holidays are a time that everyone spends with family and every visit brings on some kind of stress in one way or another, haha. I come from a dysfunctional family and this movie does a great job at poking fun at it. It's just a fun movie that makes you laugh and remember that although you may want to kill your family sometimes, you'd never want to trade them in for anything.

Do you shop online or at stores?
I am a HUGE fan of online shopping, however I do like the instant satisfaction feeling of walking out of a store with the bags. It's just so much easier these days to order gifts online and have them shipped to your house. No crowds- no problem!

Photo Cards, Letter or Store-bought cards?
I am in charge of the Christmas cards and I love making and sending the photo cards. It really makes the message personal to family and friends and it's nice to see photos of everyone throughout the year, especially those that I don't get to see too often.

December 14, 2013

Five for Friday- Saturday Edition!

For the first time in a while I am linking up with the lovely Doodle Bugs Teaching for their weekly linky party! I tried so hard to get this up on Friday but I was so stinkin' tired from our week that I just passed out. But on to my 5!

1. New Downloads!

I've been very busy over this past weekend and had a couple snow days to help get on track with some reading centers and a unit packet on matter!

2. Christmas Cookies!
One thing I love to do at home is bake. I have always made chocolate chip cookies with my dad around the holidays and this was the first time I made some from scratch with my fiance. I was a bit nervous since it was my first time but they came out quite delicious! :)

3. Officially Adult Status
I am an official Costco member! I grew up in Costco with my family having 5 kids so I am not new to buying in bulk. However, I thought it was time for my fiance and I to start investing since our grocery bill seemed to get higher. He's the cook in our relationship so he loves buying every type of meat available and experimenting with new recipes. So, my take on it is - why not just buy 400lbs of meat and use what you need?! So far he's been having a lot of fun and it's great not having to spend so much every week on food!

4. Wonderful surprises from my students
I have to say that I think I have the most compassionate class...EVER. Ever since my sister passed my kids have been emotionally connected to me in a way I've never experienced. They seem to be more aware of my feelings and always checking in on me just to see if I'm feeling OK. Just the other day I found this on my desk....
*heart melts*

5. Christmas!!!

It's our first Christmas in our new place and this year we invested in a fake tree. He loves the pine smell and last year we got a real one but proved to be a bit of a hassle. The only issue with a real tree that we found with us traveling to Texas we weren't there to really enjoy it. So, this year we went faux. I am that weird person that gets into the Christmas spirit before Thanksgiving so needless to say, I am very excited about ALL things Christmas :)

Remembering Sandy Hook

Thank you to Amanda over at Teaching Maddeness for her beautiful button. Today is a day that I believe all teachers and anyone in education will remember as one of true tragedy but also an example of the unyielding love teachers have for their 'kids'. Not a day goes by that I don't think about what happened and what I would do if ever put in a situation like that- and I think many of us would do the exact same: protect your students no matter what.

Today is a day of remembrance but also one for reflection. I look back on the past year and I think about the ways I could be better. I don't need New Years to set goals for myself but this time of year is always a good reminder to always self-improve; no matter if it is personally or professionally. Amanda put it best: "we honor their memory with our service." Today and always, think about the random acts of kindness you can share with others. You never know the impact it could have on a life.

December 10, 2013

Snow Days and Matter!

Yay! Snow Day! This is our second day off from school this week and I couldn't be happier :) I've taken advantage of these days and was able to catch up on some grading, lesson plans, and new centers for reading and a packet on matter. It feels good to be productive and having no school to relax is even better!

The first product I've been working on is to enhance my matter unit (which we were supposed to start this week). I love student packets because it puts all the information and learning into one, easy to use, packet. My kids have been good about not losing them, which is even better. I just prefer to keep everything together.
This packet includes pages for each topic of learning throughout the matter unit outlined by Va state standards. We begin with discussing what matter is and the three states it is found in. In my packet I've included notes that align with BrainPopJr and Scholastic's Study Jams. The kids have always loved those videos and they provide easy to follow information. There's even a fun matter song found on Study Jams that my kids last year seriously sang for the rest of the year!

This packet also includes:
-Why Does Matter, Matter? [3 states of matter]
-Properties of solids, liquids, and gasses
-Matter Picture Sort
-Measuring Matter [mass/volume]
-Changing States [investigating heat]
-Changing States graphic organizer
-Matter Molecules
-Physical vs. Chemical Changes

Experiment: Physical/Chemical Change Investigation
-Sugar Cube

-Solid, Liquid, Gas Poems

The best part about study packets is that teachers can choose what to include and what to omit. Feel free to add nonfiction articles or other items to your packet to make it more interactive and focused on a particular skill. I love seeing the different ways teachers incorporate content into reading or writing activities.

I'll be posting my other activities soon!


November 27, 2013

Back to work...and Native Americans!

Hello all. It's been the first few weeks since I've been back to work and I was a bit unsure if I was ready to return. However, I was so happy that I did because my kids have been so supportive. Some got me flowers, chocolates, and homemade cards. While others just made sure to check in on me throughout the day and give me plenty of hugs. Although at times I feel like bursting into tears, knowing I have my kids there showing me their compassion tells me that there is plenty of good in this world. I may never understand why my sister was taken from my family so soon, but I know that the healing power of love and support help me get through these difficult days. In that same breath I want all of you to know how much your comments have meant to me. All the prayers and thoughts have definitely helped me, and my family, through this.
My nephew and I after my sister's service. I love him more than anything <3

Back to work....
A few weeks ago, my kids had a special visitor from the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation. It was a pretty exciting experience for them as they got to participate in their learning through demonstrations and handling replicas from the Jamestown Museum. This fit perfectly with our unit on Native Americans, especially the Powhatan tribe. I recommend this presentation to anyone living in the Northern Virginia area, both for the second grade curriculum, but it's fantastic for any Virginia studies concept. Here are a few pictures of my kids- needless to say they had a blast!


Our Native Americans unit is always a lot of fun to teach because the kids are fascinated by the different cultures and, of course, learning more about the foundations of American history. In connection with our unit, we also take a peek into the genre of folktales in Reader's Workshop. Students learn about what a folktale is and how the Native American's used folktales to tell stories and explain the world around them.

Our class read three different folktales throughout the week and we looked at each one and discussed what part of nature what explained and the role it played with a specific region.
1. The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush
By: Tomie de Paola
This story tells about a young native boy who didn't have the skills to become a warrior like many of the other boys in his tribe. However, he had a vision that he would be able to capture the brilliant colors of the sunset with his paints. I used this story to explain how the native peoples were able to create wonderful designs using their environment for paint such as berries, plants, mud, and flowers.

One activity I had them do was to use their "paints" (aka crayons) and try and capture the sunset and become painters like the young boy in the story. I put up a photograph of a western sunset on the proboard for the kids to copy and used my iHome to play native sound effects from that Sleep Sounds app (it created a fun environment for the kids to really get into the activity). The drawings they came up with turned out really great!



2. The Gift of the Sacred Dog
By: Paul Goble
This is one of my favorite stories to read to the kids because they all have their own ideas as to what the 'sacred dog' was. It was kind of funny to hear all of their predictions. This tells the story of a Plains tribe that is being affected by hunger. A young man prays to their Great Spirit and after a vision is given a gift of sacred dogs...being horses. This lent itself to a good discussion with the kids about the importance of horses to the Plains people and why they treated them less like pets and more like family members (this idea of what sacred means). I also explained that horses are not native to North America and that many of them came from the Spanish and other Europeans when they began settling the New World. 

3. The Legend of the Bluebonnet
By: Tomie de Paola
This story takes place in Texas and a young girl has lost all of her family members to starvation from a drought. The only thing she has is her doll, which is extremely important to her since it reminds her of her family. The elders of her tribe explain that the Great Spirit is upset that the people are being selfish and keep taking from the land and giving nothing in return. The droughts would end when they sacrifice a precious item of theirs. When no one can part with their things, the little girl decides to sacrifice her doll for her people. It is said that when she sacrificed her doll, the sprits brought the rains, which saved her people. Bluebonnets grew where the ashes fell in Texas- thus explaining where the bluebonnets came from.

I enjoy this unit so much and I'm glad that it's been fun for the kids as well. I will be posting the Native Americans Packet soon! My kids used these for note keeping throughout our unit and use them as study guides.

November 8, 2013

It is with great sadness that I tell you all that I was notified this morning by my mom that my sister had passed away unexpectedly last night. As I work through the grief and support my family, I wanted to also share this with my blogger/teacher friends. I will be taking some time off of work and therefore will be away from my blog for a bit. In times like these, I am grateful for my life and the family and friends that I have. It forces me to take a step back and realize that life is so precious and sometimes unfortunate things happen. I trust that God has taken my sister to a better place where she no longer hurts and feels the pain of our physical world. I am so appreciative of the love and support I've received. I look forward to moving past this difficult time. Many blessings-

November 2, 2013

Time Warp

Oh, my goodness where did these past few weeks go?!? I swear there's a little black hole that you apparently slip into once you get engaged and then your whole live kinda revolves around planning and registry shopping. Nevermind the fact that is just added to the workload I already have from work! Ugh...I need to pop a few Advil just thinking about it all!

Anywho...I finally have a moment to catch up on my little bloggy and see what everyone else has been up to this October. I do have to mention that although fall and October is one of my FAVORITE times of the year...in that same breath I also DREAD this time of year just from how busy it is. This month was just hectic from conferencing with every parent, collecting assessments and 'data points' for this new evaluation system, grading-grading-grading!, our Halloween party, and of course my favorite: report cards.

Here's a peek into my readers workshop!

Reading Workshop:
These past few weeks we've been doing a lot of thinking and learning about visualizing in our reading. Starting with conversations about how when we visualize, we better comprehend the stories we read. Here are a few of the books we've read to help visualize:

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: 
Everybody knows and loves this story and it really lends itself to a lot of reading strategies that you can model and use with your class. The silly story engages kids and this past week I'll read a few chapters to my kids and I'll stop and have them visualize the different things that happen to the 'naughty' kids in the different factory rooms. For example, when Dahl describes how Veruca Salt changes into a blueberry was both very entertaining but allowed the kids to listen for the descriptive language, which helps them create those mental pictures. I definitely recommend this book to any teacher!

The Great Kapok Tree:
This tells the story of a man who, after trying to chop down this huge tree, stops to rest. As he sleeps, various animals visit him and tell him all the reasons he shouldn't chop down the tree. This is another story that could lend itself to many strategies including inferring or author's message. However, when I read it to my class I didn't show them the pictures. I only read the words when each animal visited him and they were able to share the images in their minds.

Just a Dream:
I've always been a fan of Chris Van Allsburg's books because the stories and pictures are always so creative. This is another great read aloud book to model visualization. This tells the story of Walter, a little boy whose chore is to take out the trash but he doesn't care about separating the trash from the recycling. But, one night he dreams of a dark and polluted future and he is transported to different scenarios of what the future looked like. So, again as I read I don't show the pictures of what he sees next in his dream- I allowed students to create these mental images based on the descriptive words in the text. They seemed to really enjoy the story and they were eager to see how close their images were to the real illustration in the book.

Share what read alouds you love to use to help kids visualize in the comments :)

October 14, 2013

Saturday Snapshots!

Good afternoon blogger friends! Today I am linking up with Miss Nelson to share my Saturday Snapshots!

This past week has been SUPER busy at work but then my personal life kinda took over this weekend! Philip and I finally got all moved in to our new apartment in Old Town. I have to say, this moving trip was by far the easiest move ever! For the most part we were able to move a lot of our stuff just using his Jeep (since my Mini is worthless, haha) and we hired movers to help with the big stuff. First, I have to put in a little plug for our moving company because they were amazing! Super efficient, professional, and quick with the move. Two Marines Moving is based in Alexandria, VA and I couldn't say enough great things. So, if you're moving soon and live in the Northern Virginia area, please consider checking these guys out. Plus, it's a wonderful opportunity to help our marine veterans by supporting their business.

Philip and I are all moved in and getting settled. The day we decided to move in happens to be the same day a girlfriend and I signed up for the Cosmic Run 5k. It was so much fun!! Think of the Color Run but at night and with glowing powder and glow sticks!! I mean, who doesn't love glow-in-the-dark stuff? Again, if you're looking for a fun run with friends that gets you nice and dirty check out Living Social for a deal (that's how I found it).

And finally...some very exciting news...Philip proposed on Saturday!!! I cannot believe I have a fiance now when just a couple days ago he was my boyfriend, haha. It was so cute the way he did it too. Apparently, he had this planned for months and even went to go ask for my father's permission while I was at work and he had a day off from work. I feel as though some tradition is being lost with this generation but I'm am so happy that he included my father (and parents) in the process and I know they appreciate it too.
(official engagement photos coming soon!)

So, he first was going to 'pop the question' on the night we moved in as a way to celebrate our first night in our new home. He even bought champagne (but told me it was for the house)! But of course after the 5k and moving all day I was completely pooped and just wanted to sleep. I just felt so bad because I had no idea he was planning all this :)

Then, the next morning (and I must mention I had no makeup on, my pj's, and my hair in a messy bun...of course) I woke up and started getting some laundry done so I had clean clothes for work after moving. That's when he tells me that he has a little 'moving in' gift for me. I feel like at this point I should have felt a shift in the force and see it coming but I had no idea that when I closed my eyes, then opened them again, he would be on one knee and ask me to marry him. I immediately broke into tears and after a minute of me crying I finally mustered "yes!" and he gave me this beautiful ring.
I am so excited to call this wonderful man my fiance and couldn't be more excited to begin our next adventure together! Now...even more of a reason to dedicate a large portion of my day pinning ideas on Pinterest.

October 4, 2013

Five For Friday!

It's that time of the week that I love the most and it's Doodle Bugs Teaching's weekly link-up! I just love popping over to all the blogs that have shared their weekly things since we all need a little unwinding after long and busy weeks. Here are mine!
Began centers this week!
Sheesh...at the beginning of the year I always forget how tricky setting up centers can be the first week guided reading starts. No matter how much we practiced I swear the transitions are bit all over the place (but we're getting better!). After rotating a few times I think my kiddos are getting the hang of it *knocks on wood*. Buuut, I do love the wonderful creations and thinking my kids do while in their centers and here is a couple shots I was able to sneak in:

In the Work on Writing center students got to do a 'Squiggle' writing. They are given a doodle and must create something with it and write about it. In the picture my kiddo created a worm that was being eaten by a bird. Other squiggles were: a spoon, snakes, and birds. They get really creative and it's always fun to see what they come up with!
The other picture is of our Creation Station. Students create a fall mosaic using ripped construction paper. Many of them created Jack-o-lanterns and others made trees with falling leaves. Afterwards they write a small piece about what they love about the season of fall and attach it to their mosaic.
Gobble, Gobble Even and Odd Game!

This game was so much fun and the kids had a great time playing! There are many versions of this out there...I just slapped some turkeys on there for my love of fall ;) It's easy to set up and play! Kids roll a dice and move their counter depending on if they rolled an even or odd number. This can be adapted by using two dice and students have to add the sums. We used this as a review before our test :)
I can actually keep a plant alive!

 No seriously...I am so proud of my little basil plants! Now, I know basil is pretty hard to kill but I definitely feel accomplished considering that I am apartment gardening. It's so nice to be able to walk over and just pick off what I want to use and it just grows back! I've begun planting parsley as well and they seem to be doing great. I can't wait for Philip and I to buy our first home so we can start gardening veggies too!
Mini greenhouse is from Ikea :D
Training, Training, Training
Our county is beginning a new reading program that all primary teachers need to be trained on. Although I can appreciate PDs that are helpful and provide me with new ideas for instruction, I hate that it takes me away from my class. It's difficult to leave my class with a sub so often but what can you do....I suppose it's my job.
We are preparing to move! I know I've blogged about our new home search during the summer and now it's all becoming a reality! I am so excited but I feel bad that I'll be at work and Philip is taking off to move our stuff. Luckily we don't (I really mean he doesn't) have too much stuff. I just can't wait to get settled and break out all my seasonal fall decorations!

Don't forget to link up!!