Friday, September 26, 2014

What is life like in the Bahamas?

Hi Everyone!  I'm linking up this Friday with Doodlebugs Teaching for Friday.  I thought for this Friday I'd share 5 things I love about life in the Bahamas.  Trust me, there are plenty of things to complain about, but this post is all the positives!

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Number one probably has the be the weather.  Previous to moving here we lived in the Seattle area.  Seattle has amazing Summer and early Fall weather.  Just perfect!  But once the rain comes in October there are minimal days of sun til June.  Here I wake up and am always so grateful that the sun is shining.  Right now is our rainy season but we still have sun most days.

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Number 2 is the swimming.  We swim almost every day.  We live right across from our community pool.  When we moved here last November my son Levi wouldn't even put his face in the water and my daughter was just barely beginning to swim a bit on her own.  Now they both swim on their own all over the pool.  Levi's favorite thing is having his daddy toss him spinning into the water.  He calls these "helicopter jumps".  He also loves it when his daddy just tosses him into the air and lets him fly.  He puts his arms up in the air and calls these "superhero jumps".

Super hero!
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Number 3 is the beach.  We live about 10 minutes from a gorgeous beach.  We probably don't go as often as we should.  The water is the most beautiful turquoise color and very calm most of the year.  The ocean is so warm here year-round.  Coming from Washington, the water was always FREEZING!  Not so here.  In the summer it feels like bath water some days.  We've been learning to snorkel.  The beach we like has awesome snorkeling.  Levi is usually content to play in the sand with his trucks and sand toys.  Suri doesn't love the sand so she spends most of her time in the water.  Here's a short video of the ocean from a week ago.  There were actually small waves the day I took this.  For those of you who are experiencing Fall weather right now, it's Summer somewhere. :)

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Number 4 is driving on the left side of the road.  Now, let me be clear.  I'm not saying driving.  Driving is INSANE here.  However, I love being able to drive on the left side of the road.  I also love all the roundabouts.  They just keep traffic moving.  I kind of love the chaos of them too.  Maybe it's because I'm crazy enough to drive a big SUV on this island and little cars don't stand a chance against me, but I really like them.  

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Number 5 has to be the sense of community here.  All the research shows that happy healthy people live in community with others.  For the first time we live close to my hubby's co-workers and family.  Our community is his co-workers and their families.  All the previous places we have lived we were close with my friends that I taught with.  My teaching co-workers provided us our community.  We lived too far away from Wiley's co-workers to get to know them and their families.  Now we live in a community with several of his co-workers.  These are the families we hang out with.  There are several stay-at-home mommas and we meet up at the pool, teach a preschool story hour once a week, and have fun play dates.  Living here on the island can be challenging at times.  We help each other through the ups and downs and we do life together. 

There you have it.  Five things I love about living in the Bahamas.  Life here has its challenges but that's another post for another day.  :)

Happy Friday everyone!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Markdown Monday Linky Party!

Hi Everyone!
I'm linking up with Kelly and Kim's Kindergarten Kreations for a Markdown Monday Linky Party!  Nothing beats the Monday blues like some fabulous TpT products marked down for the week, right?

This week I'm marking down my newest product, Short Vowel Apple "SPLAT!"  Growing up I loved playing slap Jack.  This is similar, but instead of slapping the Jacks in a deck of cards, students are slapping rhyming short vowel words.

Playing SPLAT, students gain practice reading and rhyming short vowel words while having fun playing a game.

There are separate games for each vowel.  Students start by putting all the cards face down in the middle and mixing them up.  Then they take turns drawing cards until all the cards are gone from the middle and they each have a stack of cards face down in front of them.  Players then say "1,2,3, SPLAT!"  On "SPLAT!" they turn a card over and place it face up in the middle.  They need to read the word on the card.  If the word on their card is the same or rhymes with their partner's word, it's a race to slap the cards.  The first hand in gets to keep all the cards in the pile.  If it's not the same word or a rhyme, play continues on.  Play stops when one player has all the cards.
                                 An example of the short A words... there are 3 and 4 letter words.

                                        An example of short E and short O game cards.

And... because it's Markdown Monday... it's 50%off!  YAY!!!!  That means it's $2.50 this week! Click any of the pictures above to see it in my TpT store.



Friday, September 19, 2014

Five for Friday!


It's Friday and that means it's time for a Five for Friday linky party with Doodlebugs Teaching.  Here are my 5 from the past week...

I have officially become one of THOSE moms.  You know what I'm talking about.  One of those moms who has to drive/shuttle her kid everywhere during the week.  Unintentionally I am driving Suri somewhere everyday (except Thursdays) after school.  I am fortunate in that I am currently a stay at home momma so it's not as big a deal as it would be if I were still teaching full-time.  How do you do it full-time working mommas??  Here's a peek at Suri's schedule:
Monday: soccer practice
Tuesday: speech
Wednesday: speech
Thursday: a break (PHEW!)
Friday: dance
Saturday: soccer practice/game
Sunday: a break (Church)

In addition to becoming one of THOSE moms, I'm now a soccer mom probably soccer coach.  I attended the parent meeting for Suri's soccer club on Wednesday night.  Her soccer club uses paid coaches during the week but requires parent coaches and assistant coaches to run the Saturday practices and games.  Well... I played soccer all through my childhood up through high school.  They are going to train us.  I was a teacher for 15 years.  So I signed up to coach.  I got this, right??  I can handle 10-12 seven and eight year olds!  Piece of cake!  Ha!  :)

I LOVE Fall!  Every year I look forward to the weather turning cooler and the leaves turning colors.  This means apples and pumpkins galore!  I eat 2-3 apples a day and LOVE everything pumpkin.  Now that I am in the Bahamas I'm trying to get myself in the fall mood without the change in weather and leaves turning colors.  How do I do that?  Pumpkin spice lattes!!!  I make my own.  Depending on my mood I drink it hot or iced and it's just delicious!  Our Starbucks here in the Bahamas just started offering the pumpkin spice latte this week.  Did you see this article on what's in their pumpkin spice latte by Food Babe?  If not, you can check it out here.  Makes me glad that I enjoy my own homemade ones.  Doesn't mean I won't drink an occasional one from Starbucks, but nice to be able to drink one every morning in the comfort of my own home.  Here's what I put in mine:

Yesterday was my 10th wedding anniversary.  10 years ago we got married in Virginia on a ranch in the Shenandoah Valley.  We had an outdoor ceremony planned.  The day and night before our wedding the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan blew through.  There were a record 26 tornadoes that touched down, 1 a mile from where we were.  So with the help of our friends and family, we pulled together a wedding the next day inside the ranch's riding arena.  It was a memorable wedding not to be forgotten by anyone who was there.  We had a honeymoon to the Bahamas planned.  A couple of days before our wedding our honeymoon was canceled due to....hurricane damage!  Fast forward ten years... here we are in the Bahamas celebrating our anniversary.  My poor husband tried sooooo hard to plan a special day that was a complete surprise to me.  What "ruined" the plans?  RAIN!  He reserved us a spot on the powerboat adventure day trip to the Exumas only to have it bumped by people who reserved in person.  He made the reservation online.  So then we decided to do a 1/2 day sailing cruise.  15 minutes before the cruise was to leave, thunderstorms parked themselves over the island and showed no signs of moving... sailing cruise canceled!  So we headed home and sent the babysitter on her way.  We figured at least we'd be able to still go out to eat and do our planned family pictures on the beach that evening.  Well... (you probably know where this is going) those same pesky thunderstorms decided to park themselves on our half of the island right when we were set to have family pictures taken and head out to an anniversary dinner.  We canceled our plans and decided we will try again another day.  I quickly made the kids some macaroni and cheese and we got them ready for bed.  Then, since I hadn't planned anything for dinner and it was 7:40 and everything was closed we had to improvise our stay at home dinner.  So what was for dinner?  Tuna sandwiches!  :)  My husband felt terrible but I told him he shouldn't.  The most important thing is that we are here together.  So... at some point we will take family pictures on the beach.  :)

A peek at my latest product.  Let me say that without the tell-tale signs of Fall, I had a hard time making a Fall product.  It took way longer than it should've but I finished it.  It's available in my TpT store.  Click the picture to check it out.

And now I'm off to go make my pumpkin spice latte... Happy Friday Everyone!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Five for Friday

 Hello Everyone!  I'm linking up this Friday morning with Doodle Bugs Teaching five for Friday linky party.  A fun way to review the week!  Here are my 5! 

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Last weekend we had a family movie night.  We rented A Dolphin Tale on our Apple TV.  My kiddos are 3 and 7.  Suri, my 7 year old, LOVED the movie.  My 3 year old, Levi, enjoyed most of it.  Suri is now obsessed with Winter, the dolphin in the movie.  We figured out that you can go visit Winter in Clearwater, Florida.  We have a trip planned to Orlando at the end of the month.  We gave her the choice, a second day at Disney World, or a day trip to visit Winter.  She is currently choosing a trip to visit Winter.  The second movie comes out this weekend.  We are going to see if it's playing here and probably take the kiddos this weekend.  I sense a dolphin experience here in Nassau at some point in Suri's future.  

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My husband had Tuesday and Wednesday off this week.  We had hoped to head to the beach.  The weather did not cooperate.  On Tuesday we headed downtown for lunch and daiquiris at Fat Tuesday.  Fat Tuesday here is right on the ocean.  It's just beautiful.  There were only a couple of cruise ships in port so it wasn't busy.  Here's a pic of Levi with his fruit punch daiquiri.
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Last weekend I went and saw If I Stay.  After seeing the movie I downloaded the sequel Where She Went the next day.  I finished it in a day.  I stayed up pretty late but I finished it.  I'm eagerly anticipating Gone Girl coming out in October.  I'm already planning a momma's night out to go see it with all my fellow mommas.

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I finished and uploaded another product this week.  When I was in the classroom one of my strengths was targeting behaviors and helping kids develop different strategies instead of acting out.  I created an ABCs of Behavior Resource Pack to help teachers who are struggling with those tricky or tough behaviors.  In the pack is an antecedent, behavior, and consequence form...
my bestseller behavior reflection logs...
and some anecdotal notes forms and reward/incentive charts...

I blogged in detail about it this week here.  I'm hoping this will really help my fellow teachers out there.  You can find it in my TpT store here.

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Sleep.  Those of you who are parents of small children know how precious sleep is.  I'm pretty fortunate that my kiddos are generally excellent sleepers.  Every once in awhile though they take forever to fall asleep and like to wake up sooooo early.  The past few mornings Levi has been up at 5:30am.  I'm ready for him to go back to between 6:30 and 7am.  I stay up til 10:30 or sometimes later working on TpT products so 5:30 has been a little painful this week.  But I know there are parents out there who would love to sleep from 11pm til 5:30am.  That would be a gift to them.  I'm not complaining, just hoping things return to normal soon.  :)

Happy Friday Everyone!


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Where Were You "When the World Stopped Turning?"

It's hard to believe that it has been 13 years since September 11, 2001.  It's one of those days that many generations will never forget.  My parents still remember watching Neil Armstrong land on the moon and they remember where they were when the news came that President Kennedy had been assassinated.  I will always remember where I was when I heard the news about the Challenger Space Shuttle and I will never forget September 11, 2001.

My first graders were just beginning to arrive on that beautiful sunny morning.  It was my 4th year of teaching.  I was teaching first grade at Groveton Elementary School in Alexandria, Virginia.  I had Good Morning America on in the background that morning as I was getting ready for the day.  I remember just hearing that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center as my students were arriving and I went to turn the tv off.  At that point the consensus was that it was an accident.  It was a few minutes before 9am.  I started my day with my students as normal.  My students were working at their desks or at stations when through email and word of mouth I heard that two planes had hit the World Trade Center and it wasn't an accident.  It was a terrorist attack.  I was stunned but this was in New York.  I knew it was important that I keep going about my day as normal as possible and I could process this news with my teammates at lunch.  Then we heard that a plane crashed into the Pentagon.  This was only a few miles up the road from us.  Many of our kids had family members who worked at the Pentagon.  Several staff members had family members, husbands, and friends working at the Pentagon.  Things changed dramatically.  Parents started arriving, frantic, to pick up their kids.  Secretaries and Instructional Assistants were the runners picking up kids from our rooms.  Many staff members were trying to contact their loved ones at the Pentagon to no avail.  All my friends and family were emailing to make sure I was safe.  We kept the kids inside for the rest of the day.  I started the day with 16 kids.  By the end of the day I only had 7 left.  School was cancelled the next day.   
When the buses arrived to take the few children left home we heard more.  Parents and bus drivers said they felt the ground shake when the plane hit the Pentagon.  I guess that was one good thing about the commotion of learning in a classroom.  Thankfully we did not hear it or feel it.  Bus drivers and parents who were in the military or had spouses in the military were sharing that they had been told to be ready to go.
I was dating a soldier in the Army at the time.  He was in a non-deployable unit.  I didn't hear from him for 4 days and when I did he told me there was a chance that he and a couple other soldiers from his unit would be deployed.
Thankfully all our students' parents were fine and our staff members were able to make contact with their loved ones.  We were lucky.  There were many who were not.
 Where were you on September 11?  Stop by and share your story.  For it's by sharing our memories and experiences that we will truly never forget.  

There were many songs written about that day.  This is probably my favorite.  "Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?  Teaching a class full of innocent children..."  I leave you with Alan Jackson performing this song at the Grand Ole Opry.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Solving Tricky or Tough Behaviors in the Classroom

We all have them.  Even after becoming an "experienced" teacher, I still had them.  You know what I'm talking about...those tricky and tough behaviors that you just can't quite figure out how to get a handle on.  As classroom teachers we are so immersed in our students, their learning, and their lives that it can be tricky to pinpoint what is causing the behavior and how to help the student develop more effective strategies to deal with what is triggering the behavior.  Here are some suggestions and strategies based on my fifteen years in the classroom...

 First of all, it's important to take a step back and observe.  This can be really tough.  Especially in the moment.  Take a step back and think about the behaviors like you would if the child were struggling with reading or writing, for example.  What do we do?  We gather DATA!!!  Yes, data!!!  How?  By using anecdotal notes and what I call an ABC form.  ABC stands for Antecedent, Behavior, and Consequence.  Here is an ABC form that is part of my ABCs of Behavior Resource Pack for sale in my TpT shop.


Antecedent...  What seems to be the trigger for the behavior?  What happened right before the behavior occurred?  What is causing the behavior?  These are all questions to ask yourself to determine the antecedent.  Was it because your or someone else placed a demand on the student?  For example, "Put away your backpack" or "Clean-up your math station".  Sometimes it can be a transition from one activity to another.  Often behaviors are a result of peer interaction.  The student was told he or she can't join a group of peers or someone said something unkind.  Sometimes we have absolutely no idea what caused the behavior.  That's okay too!  Just highlight your best guess.

Behavior...  What is the student doing?  What is the behavior or behaviors?  Grab a highlighter and highlight what you are observing.  Blurting out, yelling, refusing to comply, wandering (the runners), using inappropriate language, or being physical (hitting, kicking, shoving, biting, etc...) are all common behaviors.  For behaviors that don't fit into these categories, highlight other and write in the behaviors.

Consequence...  What is the consequence for the behavior?  One of the most important things we can do as teachers is to make sure that the consequence fits the behavior.  All too often it's recess that is taken away.  I know.  I get it.  I've been there and done that too.  Way too many times to count.  What I've learned is to take a deep breath and think about what consequence fits the behavior.  If I can't come up with it at that moment I calmly tell the student to have a seat and I'll be there in a couple minutes to discuss the consequence.  This shows our students that it's okay to take a minute, calm down, and make a better decision.  I've listed some common consequences I used successfully in my classroom but also understand that every classroom and school is different.  That's what the "other" spot is for.  Tip... if it's a common consequence write it in before making copies of the forms.  :)  Can't tell I've made that mistake often, can you?  :)

Anecdotal Notes:  These are nice to have for smaller, less-disruptive behaviors and for tracking work habits, time on or off task, cooperative work skills, and many others.  I've included some fun forms in my pack.  Anecdotal notes also help you to figure out how often behaviors are happening.  If you have a whole sheet of time off task, it's time to target that behavior.

What to do now?  You have the data, now what?  It's time to pick one behavior to target.  It's important that it's only one.  This can be hard to do but hopefully with your ABC forms in front of you and some anecdotal notes you can see what behavior needs to be targeted.  When there's so many you can't even see straight, (yes, I've had those years too) try and pick the one that will give you the "biggest bang for your buck" so to speak.  If you are struggling to figure this out, ask a colleague to pop in and observe.  Tell them what you are looking for and some fresh eyes should help.

Use your incentive system you already have in place or create one specifically for the student.  I loved using Mrs. Mabe's Behavior Catalog and Reward Coupons for Rewarding Awesome Behavior.  My students loved it too.  Best part about it?  It requires very little money so you won't be buying little rewards all the time.  You can get it on TpT from her store here.

Make sure the goal is attainable (not 16 stars in a morning), feedback is frequent, and that the student buys into it.  It has to be motivating for them.  I have included some simple reward/incentive charts in my behavior resource pack.  You know your students, what they love, and what motivates them.  Use that knowledge to help them make better behavior choices.

Reflect:  Students need time to reflect on their behavior choices.  It is through reflection and then discussion afterwards that changes can occur in behavior.  Below is a picture of the two behavior reflection forms I used all 15 years I was in the classroom.  The one with the boxes provides room for younger students to draw pictures of their behavior choices.  The one with the lines provides room for older students to write about what happened.  There is a line for a parent signature on both forms.  I didn't always send the form home.  It depended on the severity of the behavior and whether the student used the reflection to change their behavior and turn their day around.  This is one of my best-sellers in my TpT store and I have included it in my behavior resource pack.  You can purchase the reflection forms separately if you don't wish to purchase the whole resource pack.  Best part... the reflection forms are newly updated and now come in color and black and white.  You can see them here.

I know this post got a bit long, but I didn't want to leave anything out.  :)  If you are interested in purchasing my ABCs of Behavior Resource Pack it is available here in my TpT store.  I hope this helps.  Any questions or anything not clear?  Leave me a comment or email me @

Friday, September 5, 2014

five for FRIDAY!


It's time for another 5 for Friday linky party with Doodle Bugs Teaching!  Fridays always sneak up on me.  I'm sure for all my friends who are teaching and have survived the first week back with their students, Friday couldn't come fast enough.  :)  Here's my 5....

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My daughter had to suddenly switch schools this week.  The good news is that she is really happy where she is now and she has a fantastic teacher.  She is at a brand new school that just opened and it's close enough that we can bike there in 15 minutes or drive in 5.  Makes mornings a whole lot less hectic!
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Here's how I spent the first day of school.  With these two monkeys...
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 My husband's hours are finally returning to normal.  This means I finally have some time to start making the products I have been dying to create all summer.  First up is a free checklist of the first 100 Fry words.  This is also available in landscape format.  Click on the picture.  It will take you to my store to download this freebie.
FREE FRY Words 1-100 Checklist (portrait)   

Next up is a freebie and preview of my newest product.  I hope to have it posted tonight.  It's from my CCSS Aligned "In a Pinch" 1st Grade Math Games and Assessments.  Each pack is going to target one specific standard.  Teaching in a state that doesn't do the CCSS?  No problem!  I've got you covered.  Following the pages with CCSS are pages with blank boxes for you to write in your state standard that matches.  Click the cover picture to download.  Enjoy the freebie!

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My hubby and I got to go to the Paradise Island Country Music Festival last Sunday.  We had a blast.  I blogged in more detail about it here but here is a pic of us.  Nothing like being at the beach listening to Dan and Shay, The Band Perry, and Rascal Flats.  AWESOME!
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I'm a huge reader.  I have a Kindle Fire HDX and I just love being able to read, read read!  We don't have a public library here so my Kindle is a life-saver.  I read If I Stay this week.  Actually I read it in one day.  :)  Have you read it?  I really liked it.  I'm hoping to see the movie this weekend.  I wanted to read the book first before seeing the movie.  Has anyone read the next books in the series?  Are they any good?  I'm debating...
Product Details  

To all my friends who have completed their first week of school... relax and enjoy your weekend.  You deserve it!  I'm thinking about you!  I'm headed to the pool now with my littlest monkey.  He's been very patient while mommy blogs.  :)
Happy Friday Everyone!