September 30, 2011

Do you love to read?

Some how my scheduled posting got thrown off, so I bring you Technology Thursday today instead of yesterday. Sorry!

Let me ask you again. 

Do you love to read?
I hope so, because you are already reading this.

I do! I am a natural bookworm. I love to wander bookstores, libraries, and the shelves of everyone I visit. I love the smell of old books, the feel of the pages between my fingers, and the amazing stories that draw me in.

It is hard for me to say when my love of reading began, but I blame it completely on my parents. I think at first we went to the library in an attempt to escape the heat of the summer sun. But eventually I began going to exchange the books I had devoured for new ones. The librarians were astounded. I would read 2-3 chapter books a day. 

The reason I bring this up? Recently CNN posted an article about getting children to read. The number one factor they listed? Parents. Yup, parents are the key to getting a child hooked on reading. It is more than being an example. It is providing the time to read, exposing your child to new books, and encouraging them.

However, just like Donalyn Miller says in The Book Whisperer, you have to know the books in order to recommend them. This is hard when parents are juggling school, work, and many other responsibilities. 

The CNN article listed an awesome website called Read Kiddo Read. I love it and it is the perfect solution for this problem. An amazingly comprehensive site to send parents to when they need help finding recommendations. 

They break books down into four easy sections:
Each of those categories is further broken down into age groups and genres. There are pictures of the cover of each book and an educator and parent review followed by a list of other books a child might like.

I love this and it is completely free! I just had to share.  Enjoy!

September 29, 2011

Are you sparkling?

I recently started a new job that has little to do with teaching and everything to do with speed and skills I don't yet possess. I have been working nine hour days non-stop and coming home exhausted. So when they announced a late night staff meeting I was less than pleased. But I am incredibly grateful that I went.

Before this meeting I was unfamiliar with the book The Big Moo by Seth Godin. The speaker summarized it and introduced the basic idea of recognizing what makes yourself remarkable and striving to become something more than average. He said that everyone these days has settled for cynicism, criticism, and sarcasm. You are not expected to be happy, or even allowed to be happy without having to explain yourself to someone else.

The man spoke of a lamp, you know one of those old ones that has three settings; dim, light, and bright. My grandmother used to have one of these lamps in her TV room and I remember playing with it often as a child.

He asked us to think of this lamp and judge for ourself at what level we were currently shinning. Were we dim, light, or bright?  Take a second and think to yourself. 

Are you shining your brightest?

He then asked us to explain why we were not shinning our brightest everyday.

Exhaustion was brought up and quickly dismissed. The more you serve others and shine the happier you become. (This is where I thought of the old adage "Fake it till you make it.")  

Guilt came up next. "I don't shine because I don't want others to be upset." I have done this before. I have dimmed myself down to the level my friends. The speaker said that this is not acceptable. You must avoid the joy suckers. 

Worry and fear came up last. I am one of the biggest worry warts you will ever meet in your life. I am constantly worrying about what other people will do or say. It is a stressful existence. He challenged me and everyone at the meeting to let go of fear and use this time to practice on all the people who come into our establishment. He challenged us to shine and bring others higher.

I have been trying to shine for the past couple of days. It has been a little difficult. Especially with the migraines I keep getting. But I have also seen a difference in myself and in the people around me. An older gentleman said I sparkled! I joked with the people around me and I enjoyed my work.

This quote keeps repeating itself in my head:

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." - Marianne Williamson

If you are interested in a free poster of this quote I made a couple to share. It is very simple. Print it on yellow paper and you are good to go. :) Or splurge and print one of the colored versions.

Just click HERE.

PS Have I told you how much I love Dropbox?

September 20, 2011

Just A Dream

Just a Dream by Chris Van Allsburg

I love books that make students stop and think. 

This story begins with a young boy named Walter who worries more about the things on TV then the world around him. Walter goes to bed at night and dreams of the future. He sees our world buried in garbage, covered in smog, and over commercialized.

I love that this book teaches with words and illustrations.
It is something that a child of any age will love and grow to appreciate.

Chris Van Allsburg has written a lot of great books including The Polar Express, and Zathura, and Jumanji.

September 15, 2011

Keeping it Together

Ever feel that if your head was not attached you would lose it? 

Ever feel that you are constantly misplacing things?
These are not my keys.
My keys have six keychains on them and I still lose them.

I sometimes find that I have a hard time staying organized. I think that is why I love Clutter Free Classroom so much. I tend to accumulate things I think I might need at a later date. Just look at the 9 boxes sitting in my office waiting to be organized. I think it is time for me to watch an episode of Hoarders again. Does anyone else go on a cleaning binge after watching that show? I find it highly theraputic.

The point? I wanted to introduce you to the thing that has saved my life, and all my documents for the past year. If you have not heard of Dropbox you need to continue reading. Trust me!

Dropbox is an online storage system where you can back-up all your files. I use it to organize all the amazing resources I find on the web.  I also use it when I bounce between a work computer and a home computer. I love that I can install it on both computers and access it anytime I want. 

This is a half of my Dropbox!
I tried google docs, ifolder, evernote, and a couple of other things. But this is by far my favorite way of saving and accessing data. Accounts are free, easy to use, and slightly addictive. You can even share files with another user. :)

I just wish that I had know about this years ago. It would have saved me so many headaches. If you are interested in trying Dropbox you can either click on any of the links or leave me a comment.

I am not being paid by Dropbox to post this. I just really love their site. 

But you should know if you decide to join I get an extra 250 MB of space. I'm not complaining. Just keeping you informed.

September 14, 2011

Scatter Sunshine

Rowdy in First is hosting a Linky Party I just had to join.

All you have to do to link up is share some of the positives in your day!

Yesterday I was going through one of the nine teaching boxes I have yet to sort since moving last month, when I found one of my old binders from college. It was full of great ideas and a ton of great quotes. I hope to share some of the great ideas later on, for now just take a moment and read this quote.

"We must not drift away from humble works, because these are the works nobody will do. It is never too small. We are so small, and we look at things in a small way. But God, being Almighty, sees everything great. Therefore, even if you write a letter for a blind man, or you just go and listen, or you take the mail for him, or you visit somebody, or bring a flower to someone - small things - or wash clothes for somebody, or clean the house - very humble work - that is where you and I must be. For there are many people who can do big things, but there are very few people who will do the small things." - Churchill

The small acts we do everyday play a large role in the people and society around us. Never forget that you are making a difference one child at a time. You bring sunshine, love, and laughter into the lives of children. 

Things that brought sunshine to my life today?

I went shopping with my older sister and got to play with my adorable nephew. He is the chunkiest kid I have ever met. I also got a ton of great food dirt cheap through all my coupons. You have to love saving 50% or more.

My husband made dinner, did the dishes, and vacuumed the whole house. 

There was a rainbow in the sky the entire 30 minutes I was driving home today. Gorgeous.

And I began my journey to becoming a substitute teacher. I am so excited to share some of the great ideas I have seen on the web. I have missed being in the classroom. Also I need to do something about the mound of teacher things that are dominating over half of my home office. Who knew I had over 400 pencils? I didn't. :)

Scatter sunshine wherever you go today.
You won't regret it! 

Pinterest Inspired!

I love pinterest

I am quite addicted. And it always makes me incredibly jealous to see all the great projects people post about. Well I did it. I took the plunge and was inspired by someone else's idea. 

A couple of weeks ago I stumbled on to this.


If you are interested, you can find the original by clicking on the picture above. Or she has several different forms found HERE. Look in the post for links.

I liked it a lot. But decided to tweak it a little. I am so proud of what I created, I just had to share.

I promise it does not look as wonky as it does in the preview.
You can get my versions by clicking the picture above. 

If you are interested in a different set of colors please let me know. 

September 13, 2011

What if the shark wears tennis shoes?

When my hubby and I were first dating I would take him to the library as a date. (A small sign of how much I love books and the library. A huge sign of how much he loved me.) I would share some of my favorite books with him and he would share some of his favorites with me.

One of the books he shared with me was What If the Shark Wears Tennis Shoes? written by Winifred Morris and illustrated by Betsy Lewin. 

Stephen is terrified a shark will eat him. His mother tries to reassure him that no shark will hitchhike, steal a Ferrari, or use his camp compass skills to come get him. Stephen continues to worry after his mother goes to bed and his thoughts become true. A shark has come to eat him!

Your students will love seeing how Stephen convinces the shark not to eat him. As a teacher, I love the twist at the end.  I also love the great prompt to start your own student's writing. 

What animal would try to sneak into their bedroom at night? What obstacles would it have to overcome? How would they convince the animal not to eat them? 

I created a simple worksheet. If you can use it, please do. 

After creating the worksheet I started to realize what a difficult prompt this is. 
Any suggestions?

September 6, 2011

Little Miss Sunshine

I realize it is Book Talk Tuesday and I have yet to post. But it is still Tuesday here, so I am counting it.

First off, I am not talking about the movie.  I am talking about Roger Hargreaves Little Miss Sunshine. When I was in fourth grade, a long time ago, my teacher used to read some of the Mister Men & Little Miss books.

I ate it up. And I didn't realize the amazing vocabulary and character lessons my teacher was sharing with us.

Who would not love this art? So adorable.

I also love the beautifully descriptive words he uses. This quote is perfect to illustrate how details in a story provide a clear mental picture.

"The soldier marched Little Miss Sunshine through the huge door. And across a courtyard. And through another huge door. And up an enormous staircase. And along a long corridor. And through another huge door. And into a gigantic room. And at the end of the gigantic room sat the king."

Small confession. I have over 10 of these books, and would gladly get more if they weren't so expensive. I also have to adorable Little Miss Sunshine shirts from Target. I love that store.

Do you have a favorite Little Miss or Mister Man?

Top Blogs!

I am a blog addict. It's true. I follow over 150 blogs. So understandably it is very hard for me to pick favorites. Because I am late to the Top Ten a lot of my favorites had already been recognized so I picked 6 blogs, that you might not know. These blogs are all worth checking out. If you have extra time, don't forget to check out a lot of the amazing blogs on my roll to the left. You will find so many creative ideas.

Hollywood Theme with lots of cute ideas.

She is adorable. Always coming up with new units on TPT.

The Moffatt Girls
Sight Word Queen

Lots of free activities. I love her color books.

Hollywood Theme and more!

Wiggins World
A blogger who loves Pinterest just like me. :)

Confused? Read my previous post to see the rules and guidelines.

September 5, 2011

Thank You Beth!

Beth, from Thinking of Teaching, made my day today with a sweet comment telling me I was on her list of Top Ten Blogs.

If you don't know her blog you should stop by and check her out. And leave a comment, because what blogger doesn't love one of those?

I promise to have my own Top Ten up as soon as I can. The rules are simple. Find them here.

September 2, 2011

Currently September

Oh' Boy 4th Grade is hosting another Currently Linky Party. If you missed it last time, now is your chance. Simply share what you are currently doing and link back to her.

I'm having all kinds of issues with size, so I hope you can read that. 
Two of my blogs are not teaching related. I blame that on the fact that you all are so popular. I could not find a teaching blog with fewer than 80 followers.

If you can't read it, try zooming in! 
Command + for all my apple friends and control + for all my PC ones.

I'd love to know what you are currently up to, so hop to it and join in.

September 1, 2011


Today's Technology Thursday covers something I think all kids can learn more about, Personal Safety!

One of my coworkers showed me this website and I stopped to take a look around. While I am not a huge fan of a dancing, rapping, shiny yellow robot, Clicky does get kid's attention, and he teaches them important things.

NetSmartz breaks down into a couple of really great areas. 

The first area, Routers Surprise Birthday, is an interactive game that your students can complete to gain a certificate showing their mastery. It comes with a detailed teacher's guide with pictures.
It uses videos to introduce new topics and short games to review. Once you master a game you gain a point and move further along on the board.
As you can see I have only made it to the second game. :)

The second part, club UYN has monthly activities to complete.

The third part is videos, so you can rock out as you review some of the things your student's have learned.

The fourth part is every child's favorite, the games.


Teachers and parents can find all kinds of free activities under the present icon. Maybe something for your fast finisher bin?

You can also e-mail Clicky and read his bio.

A cute free site, that teaches your children internet safety. 5 stars in my book.