Monday, September 28, 2015

Little Things

Little things in life, often repeated, can add up to big things. Little positive things we do for our children on a consistent basis can add up to some huge benefits for our littles.

Take reading aloud to children, for example. If a child is read to daily from birth to the first day of kindergarten, that child arrives at the schoolhouse door 1,825 "steps" ahead of the child who has not had those lap experiences.


Check out the poster I created to display in our school office area for parents to get a visual idea of how important their role is in setting the stage for the child's future school success.

Sunday, August 30, 2015



Sleep is so important to our good health.  Sadly, many Americans, including children, have a chronic deficit of sleep.  We have all had (or been) students who yawn frequently, who are excessively crabby, and who may fall asleep in class.  Sleep debt has negative effects on brain function, cognitive abilities, energy levels, and emotional balance.  The effects of not getting enough sleep are cumulative and can lead to problems, like interfering with coordination, balance, memory, focus, and decision-making, as well as contributing to obesity.  


Growth hormones are released during sleep.  Cell and tissue repair and muscle mass development take place because of that.  You can see how chronic sleep shortage would impact a child's normal physical development.

I'm borrowing this sleep chart from Wilson Elementary in Kenosha, Wisconsin.  It will be a good is visual to pass along to parents.  The demands of school are challenge enough without hampering children's efforts because of lack of sleep.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Welcome Wagon

A Little Red Wagon shout-out to my newest wagoneers.  Carla is a first grade teacher in Tulsa.  Lisa is a reading specialist in Coweta.  Welcome to my wagon train, ladies.  Hope you'll share ideas with us from time to time.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Make 10

One of the activities I engaged my 2ndies in at the beginning of each school year was a game called Make 10.  I made three sets of flashcards of the numerals 0-10.  


To play, students started by sitting at their seats with heads down and eyes closed.  I walked around the room placing a numeral card on each desk.  All the leftover cards I displayed on the chalk rail.  Then I said, "Make 10!"


Students would jump up and place their cards on their chests so that others could see it.  Without talking they would quickly find their partner, whose number with their own equaled 10.  When all the partners were matched up, children who hadn't found one yet could select the appropriate number card from the chalk rail.  Then the partners would line up together.  The ones who didn't have a partner would hold both number cards.


 I would have the first pair come up and show their cards while standing by me.  I said, "They say 2 + 8 = 10.  Is that right?"  The class would answer yes or no.  If their cards didn't equal 10, I had the partners go sit down and figure out what their cards equaled.  Then they could go to the numeral cards displayed on the chalk rail to choose correct matches and get back in line for a second try.

We tried to do all this as quickly as possible without talking, except for the yes/no.  They had to compute the addends while walking around.  They saw and heard the math facts.  These actions helped their visual, auditory and motor memory to help cement the math facts to long-term memory.  They enjoyed this fast-paced game and stayed focused.  We usually played it two to three times, and each time they tried to do it more quickly.

I'm a firm believer in helping students reach automaticity in their basic math facts.  They must master facts to this level in order to move on to higher level math skills.  If I had a group whose skills were so weak they struggled with the sums to 10, I backed up to spend plenty of time on the sums to 5.

Try Make 10.  Your young learners will love it, and you'll be moving them along toward automaticity.  This was a good springboard to later in the 2nd grade year when we played Make 100.





Thursday, August 20, 2015

Back in the Saddle Again


Who would have guess that after a year's retirement, I would be back in the classroom?  A year to relax and rejuvenate.  I came back to the same school from which I retired - even the same classroom.  However, I am the Title 1 reading specialist this year rather than second grade. 


It's great to come back to a faculty who feels like family.  I'm looking forward to a wonderful year.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

KidScents Diffusers - Brand New

Earlier this week I went to the Young Living Essential Oils Convention in Grapevine, Texas.  They unveiled their new products, including the KidScents diffusers above.  They are ADORABLE!!  They should be posted on the online catalog soon.


The artistry is beautiful with many handcrafted parts.  You can use it as  humidifier, diffuser, and/or nightlight.  The red lava and the coral tubes glow when the light is on and the mist is coming out.  The light illuminates the vapor, or the lights and diffusion can operate separately.  There is no heating element to worry about as water and oil are turned to mist ultrasonically.  You have the option of continuous or intermittent flow (10-minute intervals) with automatic shut-off.  The diffuser covers are interchangeable.                                                                                            


At least two bottles of essential oil come with each diffuser.  It may be three or four, I don't remember for sure.  

It's not posted on the online catalog just yet as they are revealing it at convention just this week.   Check back in a week or so to see if it's up.  Here's my Young Living number you'll use if you want to order a diffuser at retail price: 1614610  Use that number in both the Sponsor and Enroller boxes if you would prefer to order your diffuser at retail price (24% off retail).  Email me if you need help ordering or have questions.

 If you look under the small dolphin's tail, you can see the mist coming out of the  coral tube.  Can you see the mist above the dark blue dolphin's body?  The picture doesn't do it justice in showing how cute it is.


Saturday, July 18, 2015

Felicia Bond

Even as a child, Felicia Bond loved books and wanted to grow up to be an artist.  She still loves reading and enjoys illustrating children’s books.  She was born on July 18, 1954, in Yokohama, Japan, where she lived her first two years.  She grew up in Bronxville, New York, and Houston, Texas, with her four brothers and two sisters.

Felicia wrote and illustrated Poinsetta and Her Family in 1981, which was her first published book. She wrote and illustrated eight other books over the years.  She was the illustrator of over twenty other children’s books, including the popular If You Give a Mouse series.  She has won numerous awards for her work.  

Happy Birthday, Felicia!!

Check out some of her stories on Youtube:

 * If You Give a Mouse a Cookie read by Laura Numeroff

* Here's a good back-to-school Video:  If You Take a Mouse to School

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Happy Birthday!

Yesterday was my birthday - my Medicare birthday no less!!  I've mentioned before several famous people who share my birthday.  (See the blog post.) Here are a couple more birthday twins I've unearthed:  evangelist Franklin Graham and cartoonist William Hanna (Think Hanna Barbera with whom he created The Flintstones).


Children's author, Peggy Parish, is also member of my July 14 birthday club.

Margaret Cecile "Peggy" Parish (July 14, 1927 – November 19, 1988) was the author of Amelia Bedelia. The series was continued after her sudden death from an aneurysm by her nephew Herman Parish. She was born in Manning, South Carolina.  Herman his aunt's life in his book, Good Driving, Amelia Bedelia, by writing this sweet dedication, "For Peggy Parish, the real Amelia." 

Peggy and her nephew, Herman

It's cool she has an Oklahoma connection. After graduating with a BA in English, she moved to the panhandle of Oklahoma and taught third grade, in addition to teaching dance and producing community shows. In 1961 she published her first book, My Golden Book of MannersClick here is some more information about her.

 Today, July 15, is the birthday of Clement C. Moore, author of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.  He was born in Chelsea New York,  in 1779 and died in Newport, Rhode Island, on July 10, 1863.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Here it is at last!

The third book in the Giants in the Land trilogy has been released!  Thomas leads his companions in a danger-filled quest to the fabled Cavern of Promise.  Who will live, and who will die?  Readers will find themselves holding their breath again and again from beginning to end of this exciting book.

Put this trilogy on the summer reading list for your middle-grade kiddos.  Better yet, read these books together.  It will be time well spent!  They will provide opportunity for some great conversations about character qualities and life lessons.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Bubble Fun

Photo from, a really cool site

The end of the year is a time when teachers grasp for ideas to keep learning going and have everyone engaged.  Before I retired, I liked to pull out a bubble unit those last few days of the school year to score learning and fun at the same time.


Let your students pair up with a "bubble buddy."   They will work together for all the partner activities thorough out your bubble unit.  One example would be for bubble buddies to read together one or more of the bubble books listed on my Pinterest board.

Hand your students a precut circle.  Then use it to do some directed drawing to teach them how to very lightly shade a sphere (bubble).  Here's a reference for you if you haven't yet  discovered your artsy side. Approximate those directions to give the idea of light and dark areas. Then use their masterpiece as a behavior incentive.  Have them write their name on it and tape it to their desks.  If they haven't "popped their bubble" due to misbehavior during the day, they get to drop it into a container for a drawing.  You take up any popped bubbles, and these will not go into the drawing.  Each day they will make another bubble and put it on their desks.  (They'll get pretty good at shading by the end of the unit.)  The prize(s) for the drawing can be a large $ Store bottle of bubble solution or a fancy bubble wand or a small bag of bubble gum or getting to use chalk to draw and shade bubbles on the sidewalk, etc.  Of course you will modify these ideas to fit your group.  For instance, you may need to give them an opportunity to earn back their bubble so chronic misbehavers don't  give up when they pop their bubble early in the day and act out even more because they don't have a chance.  Another way to approach it is to do a daily drawing if it is too hard for your class to reach a long-term goal.  


I had a variety of bubble wands and guns they could use.  Each child also tried to make a really creative wand from a long chenille stick, alias pipe cleaner.  They were always surprised to find the bubbles made from their fancy wands always turned out round.  This presented a great opportunity to learn about the science of bubbles.


There are a number of good recipes for bubble solution on the Internet.  Before revealing the one the class will use and letting them help make it, let them predict the ingredients.  You can also use the recipe as a penmanship sample.  


After blowing bubbles on the playground and noting the "sciency" things about those bubbles, we would go inside and write about them.  First they would brainstorm together a list of verbs related to bubbles while I recorded them on a poster.  Then they would pair up and make a list of adjectives related bubbles.  Later I would print those on an adjective poster.  At another time I displayed the two posters for them to reference while each wrote a poem about bubbles.  


Here are some good videos to watch:  Beach Bubbles, Giant Bubbles, Slow Mo Bubbles, Puppy & Bubbles, Cat & Bubbles, Bubble ArtBe sure to preview the video before showing the class in case they begin with ads you don't want your students to see.  Then you can cue up the video so it is appropriate to show in your classroom.

Here is my Pinterest board about bubbles.  Lots more ideas, pictures, and books are found there.  If you have done some fun activities with bubbles, please share below.  If you try some of these ideas, let us know how your kids liked them.





Saturday, May 9, 2015


Attention Wagoneers:

There's a new wagon in my train!

Give a warm welcome to Ali Rose, a teacher candidate at Oral Roberts University.