My Mommy Learns!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011 1 comment
I looked at N and said, "What do you wear to meet your literacy hero?" 
He, of course, gave me the blank look. :) 

I have met so many of my favorites! I met the Sisters in Orlando. I met Lucy Calkins and Kathy Collins in New York. I met Ralph Fletcher. I met Dr. Jean pretty early in my career. That was quite embarrassing. I was almost speechless! I have even met Ellin Oliver Keene. I mean, I have a lot of bases covered. All except....Debbie Miller. 

Today, October 24th-I met her! I spent the day in a small group with three amazing literacy leaders! I met Georgia Heard, Debbie Miller, and for a second time-Lester Laminack. I am a big fan of Lester's work in children's literature (Saturday and Teacakes and Three Hens and a Peacock) and professional literature. I am a fan of Georgia's poetry but always considered her intermediate-until today! More on that later! Then I met.................  Debbie Miller <insert chimes ringing.>

I can not tell you how thrilled I was to meet Debbie Miller. There are no words. I mean, Reading with Meaning is my reading handbook. Teaching with Intention is a book I recommend to all new teachers. It is powerful stuff! I love her. I love how when I read her books I feel like she is talking to me. I love how she includes pictures, I mean what teacher doesn't love pictures! Here we are!!
Debbie shared a lesson on big ideas. My take away-big ideas and the main idea are different. There can be many big ideas in a story. Side note-watching her teach was amazing. The children were hanging on her every word. (I was too.)

Georgia Heard opened my eyes to the idea that little people can think big when it comes to poetry. I am purchasing her book (Climb Inside a Poem-cowritten by Lester) and plan on exploring real poetry with my first graders and T! My takeaway-I need less hinky-dinky poetry and more thought provoking poetry!

Lester, as always, was telling it like it is. He, like Debbie and Georgia, make you feel like they are on the same team. They are teachers. They love what they do. They are real. I love it! Lester guided us on the journey that is Common Core. He brings it with honesty and excitement. I hope that catches on across the nation! My takeaway-there are some new things, but best practices never go out of style. 

What a day! I have to much to ponder in coming days. How will this change my teaching? How will my school take on the Common Core standards? Where will I frame my picture? :) 

Leaf the Rest Behind!

Thursday, October 20, 2011 No comments
Fall has arrived! T and I are loving it! He is beyond excited about the leaves and prospects of making a leaf pile. Unfortunately, the leaves are too wet! 

We did however, go on a little leaf hunt! He has been listening to "Going on a Bear Hunt" at school, so we of course read the book at home. You can get the book here. It is one on my favorites from my days in kindergarten. T and I followed the same tune and headed out into the wide blue yonder.....the front yard. 

"Oooh! A red one, a green one, a yellow one, a brown one, but where is the orange one? Dis one has a little orange. I like the red one, Mommy. It is bootiful." I mean it was non-stop leaf talking!!! Want a leaf hunt book? Check this out! 

Then came the leaf peek-a-boo! 

Our favorite leaf books:
T likes the colors in this one. My firsties liked making leaf creatures after reading it! All around-this is a must have! (Click the book to find it on Amazon!) I think we all know I'm a Ehlert fan! 
Leaf Man (Ala Notable Children's Books. Younger Readers (Awards))

Product DetailsThis is another good one! T and I are planning an art project to go along with it! The tree complains that all the other seasons are easy, but fall causes problems. T and the firsties LOVE the illustrations and rhyming text! Get it here for around $10.00. PS Our favorite page is the stripes OR as T says in his loudest toddler voice..."IT HAS STRIPES!!"

Happy fall, ya'll! Remember, no matter how stressful things are, or how full your plate is, "leaf it all behind" and spend time with the ones you love!

Not So Scary Scarecrows

Thursday, October 13, 2011 No comments

The S family scarecrows~~Mommy, Daddy, T

One of my all time favorite Halloween books is The Little Old Lady Who Wasn't Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams, illustrated by Megan Lloyd. (It is not my absolute favorite-that post is coming soon!)
This book has been a hit with EVERY class I have ever read it to, and is now a big hit with T. Since reading the book, he has become obsessed with scarecrows, pumpkins, and oddly enough-crows. 

What makes this book so fabulous? It is the action! Toddlers, kindergarteners, and first graders need to move. This story invites the reader to join along---Two pairs of pants go wiggle, wiggle. One black hat goes nod, nod. etc. I am actually doing the moves as I type! 

Another great thing about this book is the retelling possibilities. T and I are at the stage where we simply talk about what happens in the story. He usually adds a few things. My firsties love retelling the whole story and last year I even had a kid write their own version! I'm telling you-this book is a 10+!

For around $7.00 on Amazon, it is a steal and will quickly become a family fall favorite!

Sir Cooks A Lot!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011 1 comment
Sundays at the S house means breakfast for Mommy! That's right-Daddy and T create a concoction and we all bravely eat it! This Sunday was a special treat.....french toast! (Please note the tongue hanging out of his mouth!) 
Mixing and stirring, mixing and stirring....
Standing in chair...making mommy soooo nervous!
Preparing the toast to go in the pan! Sizzle, sizzle, done!

Yum! He loved the french toast and spending time with Daddy. He ate almost all of it! He did not eat his peaches, however, he DID eat the remaining powdered sugar. :) I love this kid! 

Is There a Scientist in the House?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 1 comment
October screams science to me! I mean, I just can't get enough of it! It could be the decorations, the music playing in my head, OR my super excited toddler!

While perusing PINTEREST, I came across an awesome family friendly experiment and had to give it a try! We are calling them......GLOW JARS!

You need:
a glowstick (Pull out the one from your closet-I know you have a couple from your clubbin' days!)
a knife
a jar with lid
(Yes still redecorating the kitchen.)
Cut both ends off of the glowstick. 

Shake the goo into the jar. It is super cool to watch it slide down the inside of the jar. 

Put the lid on the jar. 

Shake the jar while saying "shakey, shakey, shakey." (not scientifically proven to work, but it did!) 

Smile with joy as your kid is amazed!

Head to the bathroom to see it glow "all the way" as T said! 

Turn the light back on to make sure it still works.
Smile again. 

Give it a try. Let me know how it goes! 

*We tried adding water, not cool!

Winner, winner, bo binner.....

Congrats! You have won the Scholastic Nursery Rhyme Flipchart!

( #9)

You're not taking T, ARE YOU???

Sunday, October 9, 2011 No comments
We heard this EVERY single time we told someone we were going to Disney World. Did that stop us? No way! We had been planning the trip for years...literally. My niece A, my sisters, T, and N would head to Orlando for a few days of family fun!

Let me just say, if I could do it all again-I would! I think my sister and N would agree! A was 5 and T had just turned 2. It was awesome! T was so excited at every turn, that he was too busy to be grumpy. A was showing T the ropes and entertaining the rest of us.

The month was February and the crowds were gone. We waited in short lines...well, except for the princesses. But after watching them make such a deal over A and T, it was worth it! We hit every park over a four day period. It was actually just right.

I should mention we had a fabulous guide family with us~~The Carlsons. They know Disney World like the back of their hand. That is actually my first "Disney with a Toddler" recommendation--Go with a friend! Between the 5 adults, 2 big kids and 2 little kids, we were covered! Restroom breaks and long line breaks were totally doable!

My second big recommendation is~~Pack the Capri Suns and don't be embarrassed about it! You could spend a small fortune on drinks for people who were free to enter!

3. Know your potties.  This is serious. Look at the maps, but be sure to make use of the facilities at the restrooms you visit. I mean, you might as well!

4. (and my favorite) Use the Disney World reservation page! This handy dandy page allowed us to make reservations days in advance (we changed our mind once or twice) AND gave us up to the hour availability so we could call and try to get into a hot spot. This allowed us to eat at Les Chefs de France in Epcot! YUM!

5. Take every picture! While the staff takes their pics, take your own pics, too. I wanted to both live the moment and remember the moment. Disney makes that possible. Pick up a photo card, but don't be shy-take your own pics, too.

Our trip was very special for so many reasons.

Spider Experiment!

Thursday, October 6, 2011 2 comments
T loves spiders! I am, however, not a fan!

For about 3 weeks, T waved hello and goodbye to a large banana spider (at least I hope it was a banana spider) who had made its home on the bush right outside of the garage. He watched her eat bugs and occasionally move from one spot to another. He named her "Spidey." When two women came to solicit a vote for their candidate, they were alarmed by our little friend and kindly offered to kill her. AAAH! I told them if they did such a thing, they will be taking the life of my son's pet. :) We all had a good laugh, well, mainly me, but whatever. :)

(Spidey's orb web)

We came home yesterday and the spider was gone! T noticed before I did! I wasn't sure what to do at first. N's response? "Man, I can't believe the fish outlived the spider." I mean, this spider business is serious around our house. T had a thousand questions about where the spider went and if she was coming back one day. We went to sleep singing "Itsy Bitsy Spider."

HAVE NO FEAR! TEACHER MOMMY IS HERE! It all came rushing back to me! When I taught kindergarten, we would "catch spider webs!" I brought home a piece of white construction paper, we picked up a can of black spray paint from the Depot, and got ready for our experiment!

Here is what you do:

1.    Spray paint directly on the web (about 6 inches away.) The paint sticks to the web.
2.    Put the large paper behind the web and pull the paper forward. Don't go too slow! The web sticks to the paper!
3.    Taa da! You have caught a web!

*Black paint works great on white paper. White paint is best on black paper. I have used orange paint, but is not as cool.
*Construction paper works best. I have tried poster board, and it just doesn't stick as well.
*Want to keep it as a decoration? Laminate it!

Needless to say, T loved it! He would touch it, stare at it, touch it again, and ask about each and every little part. We had a few bug remains and leaves-a bonus if you will!

I'll be taking this to school tomorrow to show my firsties. Maybe will inspire my little scientists!

This experiment is easy and fun! Give it a try and let me know how it goes! For more info on spider webs, visit National Geographic Kids!

Nursery Rhyme Fabulous!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011 15 comments
I casually placed the Nursery Rhyme Flip Chart book (Scholastic) against the wall in the living room. After dinner, T walked over and said, "HEY! Humpy Dumpy!" That was all it took--my kid was hooked! We read each nursery rhyme (there are 20!) and he wanted more! Not only are the rhymes in large print, with great pictures, the spiral bound book is sturdy. He hugged the large book and then sat on it. I figure that is what almost 2 3/4 year olds do! 

He came back to the book at bedtime and wanted a little more Humpy Dumpy. We read it again and pointed to the words. The mommy in me was happy, the teacher in me was THRILLED!

Could I use this in my first grade classroom? YES! I took it to school yesterday to use as fluency practice for one of my strategy groups. These readers, independently on level C/D, loved reading the familiar text! They were beaming with confidence! I love how the charts have three teaching points at the bottom of each page. I had not thought of some of the ideas (bl- blends with "Little Boy Blue") and I love how quick and easy they are! This really expands the audience for this resource.

If you have a toddler, you want this! If you teach K or 1, you want it, too! You know me with my glows and grows, so here is my grow-I wish this handy, dandy tool had reproducibles. I am not talking worksheets, but a simple white/black version, so my readers could have one "to go." I love when the little version matches the big version. I think it cements learning a little more. :) You could always type them though!

My friends at National School Supply have shared this resource with me and I would love to share with you! 

Follow My Mommy Reads and leave a comment (with your email address.) You will be entered to win your very own Nursery Rhymes Flip Chart for grades PreK-1!! Contest ends Monday, October 10th!

If you just can't wait, visit National School Supply! For $15 bucks, you can't beat it with a stick!

*National School Supply shared a sample product, but I was not paid for this review and all opinions (for better or worse) are my own. Winner will be chosen using Random Number Generator. 

Read for the Record

Monday, October 3, 2011 1 comment
Please join me and teachers (and parents) across America as we READ for the RECORD on Thursday, October 6th! For more information, visit Jumpstart's site~~


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