Thursday, February 28, 2013

Welcome, Primary Paradise! St. Patrick's Day FREEBIE!

 Please welcome my very good bloggy friend, Martha, who is guest blogging for me today. Martha is extremely creative, and I am so excited to have her share a St. Patrick's Day activity with you.  Make sure you stop by Martha's blog when you are finished here and show her some love!  

Take it away, Martha!!

Hi everyone! I am so happy to be guest blogging for Lauren. Her blog is one of my favorites. :) My name is Martha from the blog Primary Paradise.

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Today I wanted to share with you a couple fun St Patrick's day FREEBIES! I love teaching creative writing. I think it's so fun to see what my students come up with, and I find that they almost always surprise me with their fabulous stories. That's the cool thing about kids, they have fabulous imaginations. Since St. Patrick's Day is coming up, I've been thinking about St. Patty's writing ideas, and I have a fun one for you to today. Before writing, I would suggest reading a fun book about leprechauns such as That's What Leprechauns Do by Eve Bunting. It's super cute and super fun! Your kiddos will love it. Then, have them think about what they would do if they met a leprechaun like the characters in the book. You could have them do a quick 4 square or web to organize their ideas. Once they have their ideas down, have them write their story and draw a picture to match it. Click the picture below to download the writing paper. 

Leprechaun writing pic

These would make a fabulous bulletin board for St Patty's Day! If you want to make one, you could also use this free clip art to add some color around your students writing. Just click the picture below to download it. :)

Cover Page

If you like the writing activity, feel free to check out the whole packet by clicking the picture below. It includes Language Arts and Math activities.


That's all I have for you today folks. I want to thank Lauren for giving me the opportunity to be a guest blogger, and I want to thank all of you for reading this!

Have a lovely week!
Martha from Primary Paradise
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Monday, February 25, 2013

Welcome Shuna from Pocket Full of Kinders: Noun FREEBIE!

 Please welcome my guest blogger, Shuna from Pocket Full of Kinders.  She is adorable, witty, creative, and creates adorable teacher products

 Plus, it's Shuna's birthday today! Make sure you stop by her blog to wish her a "happy, happy"!!!


Hiya Peepers

Its Shuna from Pocket Full of Kinders

This is me

Ain't I purdy?!
Don't answer that
Anyhoo I am so happy to be guest blogging for Lauren  
I super duper puffy heart her!
I really, really do

Let's get down to the purpose for me being over here

to guest blog 
so I guess I better get to it
We just finished up a unit on nouns and it was oodles of fun!
I have recently discover and I love the cool interactive PP. There are some awesome ones that infuse music and songs and they are all free. If you have a little while hop on over and type in a skill that you are working on and check out all the awesome prezi's that will pop up!

Shoot, I started with the rambling thing again

Moving right along

We checked out this prezi on nouns to get us jump started with our unit

We then watched the Schoolhouse rock video on nouns

Takes me back to when I was in middle school watching the conjunction video
I know you still remember if
Conjunction, Junction what's your function?
If you have no idea what I am talking about it youtube it!
Anyhoo back to nouns

Here are some other videos we watched over the week on nouns

After we finished talking about nouns we created a huge Nancy Noun! 

The larger green slips are proper nouns so each child just wrote their name on the slip. The round circles at the top of Nancy's dress are persons, the longer green slips on her dress are things and animals, and the stockings are places. Each child had to come up with 2 of each kind of noun that we talked about and they glued it on her dress. The students then picked one word and wrote a sentence with that word on the sentence strips

We also did a little noun sorting
using my freebie noun pack
Click the pic to scoop it up

Peace out peepers

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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Seasonal Saturday: St. Patrick's Day Products

Happy Saturday!  Sit back, grab a cup of coffee, and enjoy reading today's features on Seasonal Saturdays!  It's all about St.Patrick's Day today, which is just three weeks away!  (hey, that rhymed!)

First up today is Aylin, co-author of the blog Learning to the Core,
where she and her first grade partner provide a mix of technology and Common Core activities. Aylin is also the teacher-author behind the Teachers Pay Teachers store by the same name where she offers literacy products for early elementary students. 

Her St. Patrick's Day literacy pack contains four literacy centers for kindergarten and first graders. That's enough for the entire week leading up to St. Pat's Day! Skills include long vowels, digraphs, blends, and more! I like the rigorous activities and the appealing, festive graphics! With (41) pages and a cute holiday theme, this packet is only $2.85!  Talk about finding a pot of gold!!  Click the the preview picture below to see the listing!

Next is Andrea from Reading Toward the Stars who I have had the pleasure of working with before in bloggy land! She is a reading specialist (as are Alylin and I!) and also has great blog posts on literacy instruction for kinders and firsties. Her Catch a Leprechaun packet has an adorable easy reader book and game for Saint Patrick's Day. Just perfect for kindergarten, first, and second grades!


 With (20) pages, this cute packet includes: an easy reader book with rhyming text and sight words, a rhyming game, and picture cards (with amazing glitter graphics!) for sequencing. And, Andrea has this resource on SALE for just $1.50 through the weekend only!  Click the picture above to see the complete listing and to visit her TpT store!

Thank  you to Aylin and Andrea for submitting products to be featured on "Seasonal Saturdays". Make sure you stop by their blogs and show them some love! 

 **If you are interested in submitting a literacy/picture book seasonal item for me to feature, please complete the form here on Google Drive.  I am now accepting submissions for Lent, spring, Earth Day, and Easter.

Winter is almost over... spring is on the horizon!  Enjoy the weekend, my friends. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Gentle Nudge

Today's post is from the "mom" part of Teacher Mom of 3, but is also applicable to the teacher side of me as well.  And maybe to you too. When I first started teaching back in 1989, I was so immersed in my content area. Although I had been called to teach from a young age ( I knew in 1st grade that I wanted to be a teacher and would eagerly come home from school only to play school!) it was the content that drove me. I admit that I was in love with my content (British Literature) and had limited experience with kids.

Since then, I have had experience teaching students from ages 3-18 years old. I am the mother of three boys, ages 19, 7, and 6. Teaching students and raising children have taught me a few things, one of which is when to "push" my children, when to back off, and when to give a gentle nudge. As teachers and parents, we often have high expectations. We raise the bar knowing our beloved will rise to the expectation, standard, or objective.

 sad kid

But sometimes our kids resist. They whine, cry, oppose, they say, "I can't do it" or "I'm afraid to do it". When do you "push" kids to their limits? How do you know where their limits really are?  How do you know when kids are being sincere or just feigning limitations or inability to avoid completing work or other tasks?  How do you really know that the next step is too much and that the child is not developmentally ready?  Sometimes I know the answers; at other times I remain baffled.  But I know one thing: I won't know unless I try and neither will my child.

Take a child with anxiety, whether it be a phobia, a generalized anxiety disorder, or something else such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or an eating disorder. For the child with OCD, you may know what their compulsions are and what obsessive thoughts they have. However, you know you can't push them to stop washing their hands, if that is the compulsion, no more than you can order them to stop thinking about the never-ending thoughts that are bombarding their brains like strikes of lightning.  But, you can take baby steps to sensitize them... you can nudge them... but how far is too far?

For me, I am an impatient person, but mostly with myself, and not so much with others. I don't like baby steps because that takes much too long. I know what my goal is, and I want to reach it today, if not yesterday.  But with my kids, I have to slow down, map out the steps my child has to take to reach the goal. If I don't itemize the steps, do a task anaylsis, then I tend to push too hard and end up only frustrating my child and myself.  Sometimes I want to say, "Here's the goal- go reach it." But that is not how we parent. And that is certainly not how we teach.

 baby elephant w mother

Take my youngest son as an example. I have been very forthright on my blog that he has Selective Mutism, a childhood anxiety disorder. When he was first diagnosed at the age of 3, he was in an all day preschool in the building where I was teaching. The goal was for him to talk out loud in school. Sounds easy, right?  Don't most kids get in trouble for talking too much? Not the child with S. M.  Through working with the psychologist, she broke down the steps we would have to take to help Christopher reach the goal.  For instance, we would practice walking down the hall, me talking, and my son listening to me, maybe even whispering or smiling.  At first, he could only make it a few steps before he would completely shut down. But each week, we tried to go a little farther, eventually reaching his classroom door. The theory was, once he was comfortable whispering outside the door, we could transfer that to inside the classroom.

We spent an entire school year on these baby steps, and he never did reach his goal. And that is ok. The professional advice I was given is that if we moved to the next step and he could not do it (whispering right outside the door), then he was not ready for it- yet. We backed up to the previous step and worked on that for awhile before I gave him a gentle, encouraging nudge to move toward the next step.
 Mom holding child hand

With all of my children, as with any parent, the time comes when we need to guide them, nurture them, nudge them toward the next baby step.  It takes great patience, a definite plan of action, and knowing when the time is right. Sometimes we cringe at them taking the next step, but we know they must to develop and become independent. And we know that we must be there as their safety net for when they fall.

In a school setting, we do not always get to move at such a comfortable or developmentally appropriate pace.  There is curriculum sequence, pressures from above to the move on to the next thing, and many other needy children in the classroom.  On top of that, there are deadlines to meet: students must perform at a certain level on benchmarks and assessments.

Teaching is an art and a science... to know what the goal is and the steps to attain it is the science. To know when to nudge and how hard to nudge is the art.  It requires:
  • building and maintaining a trusting relationship
  • knowing that actions speak louder than words; showing not telling
  • knowing when to lead and when to step aside: when to hold a child's hand and knowing when to let go
  • listening more, talking less
  • acknowledging and building off of a child's strengths  
  • fostering a community of learners where positive peer pressure can be an asset and motivation    

 mountain climbing icon 1

And so, as I write this, I am struggling with knowing that my child needs a gentle nudge... it is time and he is ready.  However, he doesn't think he can climb this mountain and it is painful for him to even think about doing so. 

 It is painful for me as well... but, holding his hand, we will make this ascent together and rejoice when he reaches the top! 


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