Sunday, February 2, 2014

It's Currently February

Hi Sweet Friends!

Normally it feels as if these months fly by, but I have to say that January was not one of them.
I am not a fan of cold weather, AT ALL.  This has been the worst winter I can remember in such a long time.  We only had school 12 days out of the whole month of January!

It's been awhile, and I couldn't wait to link up with Farley at Oh Boy Fourth Grade for her Currently Linky.

I'm loving how incredibly sweet and thoughtful my students have been this week.  Seriously!! It just warms my heart.  I tore my meniscus while doing a crazy workout that no one that will be 40 in a few months should be doing ( lesson learned), so I literally hopped on one foot to school the next day.  My sweet students were so concerned because I spent the day rolling around in my office chair around the classroom.  I'm one that NEVER sits except during my lunch.  I had so many sweet notes and help during the week.  I even had one sweet boy who can be a bit challenging say to me, " I feel kind of different today because I know you aren't feeling the best."  It was even his best week yet!!

I've been thinking that with all of this winter weather, my hubs and I need to sit down and plan out our warm weather vacay with the family.  We are thinking of taking the kids to Tybee Island this year.

I really WANT to getaway to a warm tropical place NOW.  Seriously!  I don't like the cold.  I much prefer the sun, sand, and beach.  My favorite place to go would be St. John.  Unfortunately our state tests are just weeks away, so this teacher won't be going anywhere warm and tropical for awhile.

2 truths and a fib:
Truth 1: I can't watch scary movies.  I just can't.  My hubs loves them. 
Truth 2: 
My hubs and I hiked up to the top of a mountain in Alta, Utah last Fall.  It took us only 4 hours to get to the top, but it was worth it.  The view was incredible, and we were literally standing above the clouds.  It wasn't an extremely tall mountain ( elevation of about 11,000 feet) but nonetheless it was challenging.  
I spend my summers in the Caribbean.  While my hubs and I joke about retiring and buying a home on Water Island ( near St. Thomas) someday, I am lucky enough to visit somewhere in the Caribbean about every other year.  Love that crystal clear water and sunshine!

Thanks for stopping by!  Don't forget to check out the other February Currently's.  Click the link below to be taken to them.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Slim Down Saturdays Week 3

Hi Dear Friends!
Another week down!  
Woot Woot!
This was the hardest week for me yet, as we started back to school after 3 weeks off.  I forgot how exhausting it is to get my dear third graders back into a routine.  They did a  great job, but boy was I EXHAUSTED at the end of each day.

Here was my week:
This week was tough!  I didn't do enough meal prep for the week, and found myself craving sweet treats.  It was also back to school for me this week after our long holiday break, and it was a struggle to fit in those work-outs each day.  I did it, but it was a struggle. 
Strength:  I finally made sure I was drinking 6-8 glasses of water a day.   I have always doubted whether or not this makes a difference, I must say I definitely think drinking lots of water makes a HUGE difference. 

Something I need to do better this week:   Meal prep..    It helps me stay organized and not reach for things I don't need to be eating.  So this morning, I prepped most of my meals for the week.  I have my oatmeal ready for breakfast, brown rice with grilled chicken for lunch, sauted onions and green peppers to use in my omelet, and I'm working on these yummy healthy peanut butter oatmeal cookies.  

Goal for next week:  Only 1 diet soda a day....

My word for the week:  Strong  
I need to be strong enough mentally to force myself to work out on those days I just don't feel like it and strong enough to stay away from the foods that I should not be eating.

AND this is the recipe from the Skinny Fork  that I'm getting ready to try.  It looks GREAT!
 Click HERE for the  link to the recipe for these healthy peanut butter oatmeal cookies from the Skinny Fork.

I hope it was a great week for all of you!  Keep on working!!   Click HERE to check out all the Slim Down Saturday posts.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


Hey Dear Friends!
This post is all about our new reading series.
Does anyone use Wonders by McGraw-Hill?

Beginning any new series in reading or math makes for an exhausting school year, doesn't it?

I'm finally beginning to get into a routine with this series and feeling comfortable with it.  FINALLY!

What is Wonders?  
This quote can be found on the McGraw Hill website: "Reading Wonders is the first and only reading program designed specifically for the Common Core State Standards for Reading/Language Arts. Combining research-based instruction with new tools to meet today's challenges, every component and every lesson is designed for effective and efficient CCSS instruction."

These are the positives I have found with this series thus far:
*  The online resources are phenemonal!  The student books, teacher books, and all resources can be found online.  LOVE this!  Students can even access their books and games that go along with what we are studying by going online to their very own account at home.
* There are leveled readers that fit fabulously with each unit that is studied.  The best part about most of the leveled readers is that the stories and content are the same for EACH level.  My students have no idea that their leveled readers differ from another groups leveled readers.
*  The stories that go with each unit have been fabulous for our grade level.  Many of them fit well with our social studies and science curriculum.  The rigor is also very high.

And of course with every series there are some drawbacks:
*  The weekly unit tests were extremely difficult for our students in all grade levels at first.  Since the questions are unlike anything most of our students have experienced, we spent a lot of time modeling and working through the questions together.  This has paid off tremendously as students are now performing well on these tests.
*  There is so much content to sort through each day.  At first, many of us felt panic and stress with trying to fit in everything that was given for each day. It was overwhelming!  Many of us did slow down a bit and spent 10 days on a unit rather than 5.  We have begun to get through the material more quickly as our students are becoming more used to expectations and the skills.

***Even with this new curriculum, I have been able to implement a few special novels throughout the year as well.  ***

Here are just a few extras I have added to our daily life with Wonders:

1.   Vocabulary Notebook
I wanted a place for students to be able to keep their vocabulary words that they have learned throughout the year.  So the students created a vocabulary notebook.  Each week when new vocabulary is introduced, students complete the vocabulary fold its with the definition "in their own words", a picture that makes them think of this word, and a sentence using this word.
This is definitely something I want to do each year.  It took some time at the beginning of the year for my 3rd graders to assemble these notebooks, but it has been well worth it.  Students are also in such a great routine now that writing in their vocabulary fold-its and placing in their notebooks goes rather quickly.  I am generally able to get through everything in Day 1 along with these notebooks during our ELA time.   If you are interested, below is a link and photo to my vocabulary notebooks.  It does not include the fold-its vocabulary words.  These are in my Wonders Mega Packs.
2. Interactive Reading Notebooks
I also use interactive reading notebooks with this reading series.  I love that the students can paste in their compare/contrast activities between stories, citing evidence from the text that particular stories are of a specific genre, story map fold-its, and even comprehension fold-its in these notebooks.

 The fold-its that you see inside the interactive reader's notebooks can be found in my Wonders Megapacks that I created to use with each week.

 3.  McGraw-Hill Wonders Supplemental Unit Mega Packs
I have created these mega packs for each week that I have covered so far.  Included in these mega packs are:  Fold-its for the reader's notebook, vocabulary station activities, weekly themed skill posters ( I love to send these home with the students in their Friday Folders for the parents.) daily morning warm-ups that review the language activities from the skills during the week, and spelling tri-folds.  Here's a peek from Week 1 of Unit 4:
Vocabulary Activities and Stations
 Spelling Tri-Folds
 Weekly Skills Poster

 Daily Morning Warm-Ups
Fold-Its for Reader's Notebook
If you are interested in checking out these Mega Packs click on any of the links below.  I have been working on bundling these mega packs as I finish a complete unit.  I will continue to update as I create these units.

McGraw-Hill Wonders 3rd Grade Unit 2 "The Complete Set" of Mega Pack Units

McGraw-Hill Wonders 3rd Grade Unit 3 "The Complete Set" of Mega Pack Units

McGraw-Hill Wonders 3 Grade Supplemental MegaPack Unit 4 Week 1

I have also created some freebies that go along with week 6 of Units 1-3.  Click on any below to be taken to the link.  Enjoy!

McGraw-Hill Wonders 3rd Grade Supplemental MINI Unit 1 Week 6-FREEBIE

McGraw-Hill Wonders 3rd Grade Supplemental Mini Unit 2 Week 6-FREEBIE

McGraw-Hill Wonders 3rd Grade Supplemental Mini Unit 3 Week 6-FREEBIE

Have a great rest of the week Friends!




Saturday, January 11, 2014

Slim Down Saturdays... Week Two

Okay Friends, it's week number two for Slim Down Saturdays.
How did you do?
I must admit, I was kind of dreading getting on the scale this morning.  I've been out of my regular routine for 3 weeks now.  Due to the extreme amount of snow and cold temps, we did not have school ALL week.   It is SO hard for me to not want to make those delicious comfort foods and freshly baked chocolate chip cookies on those cold, snowy days.
I'm linking up with Gina from Third Grade Tidbits for her weekly Slim Down Saturdays.

Here's the lowdown:

I was jumping up and down after getting off of the scale this morning.  Let me tell you, it was a tough week for me.  When I'm home with my family, I love nothing better than to do but bake and cook.  Warm chocolate chip cookies are at the top of my list, hot chocolate with loads of marshmallows, homemade lasagna, and so forth.  Yum!! 

Positives for the week:   I was able to fit in a workout 7 days this week!!!   That's due to the fact that I didn't go back to school and had plenty of time to fit one in.  I just started P90X3 which is only 30 minutes.  LOVE!  My hubs and I also got a treadmill over the holiday so I spent some time on it as well.   AND I can't forget all the snow shoveling that we did.  While my hubs made it into work, my boys and I shoveled the sidewalk of a close friend that lives next to the school, and after our lab had been stuck inside for too many days to count we had to find a way to get him outside to run and play.  If you have a lab, you can so relate.  My boys and I finally shoveled a path from our house to his kennel,and then shoveled out his kennel which was filled with 3-4 foot drifts of snow.  EXHAUSTING!  Our lab was so happy to get back outside to run and play.

Something I need to do better:   I have a terrible habit of nibbling/sampling food as I prepare dinner for my family.   I'm horrible with this as well when it comes to snack time for my kiddos.

My Goals for next week: I hope to lose another 1lb.  We will be back to school, so hopefully that means my temptation to snack will be much better.  I also need to drink at least 6 glasses of water reach day.   I didn't do that this week and drank way too much diet soda.

My word for the week:   Self Control

I thought I'd share a "clean recipe" that I prepared this week for my family of 6.  It's called White Chicken Chili . While it wasn't a hit with my boys, my hubs and daughter loved it.  I thought it was delicious.   I found this recipe from wannabite.

Some Favorites for me from this week:

I am a numbers person.  It helps me stay motivated.  I do realize there is so much more to becoming more healthy than the weight on the scale.  It's how I feel about myself, the example I am setting for my family, my overall mood ,and how I feel in my clothes to name a few.  

With that being said, I STILL loved seeing that progress in numbers when I worked with a trainer.
So I purchased these two items to help me track my weight loss goal as well.
Omron Body Fat Loss Monitor
It's a quick and easy way to measure your B.M.I.
Click HERE or on the photo for the link from Amazon.


MyoTape Body Tape Measure
Click on the photo above or HERE to check this out on Amazon.

I would love to hear about how your week went as well or any fabulous tasting healthy recipes that you tried!   Thanks for stopping by!  We can do this!!!

Click HERE to check out everyone's posts on Slim Down Saturdays Week Two.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

It's all about CHOCOLATE... teaching ideas to use with The Chocolate Touch including a couple of FREEBIES

Okay Friends, this post is near and dear to my heart.   I had so much fun planning and organizing it.
It's all about my beloved snack, CHOCOLATE.
I love using food in the classroom.  Nothing sparks the attention of a classroom full of elementary school children, like FOOD.  
So.... let's add food to E.L.A.
 The Chocolate Touch is the perfect novel for doing just that.  This book is rich with vocabulary and a story that almost all students can make connections with.  I LOVE to incorporate themed ELA units with holidays.   The Chocolate Touch is one novel that I will be using around Valentine's Day.

Check out these fun ideas I found for The Chocolate Touch:

1.  Introduce students to The Chocolate Touch, by setting up a hot chocolate bar in your classroom before passing out the books. It's a little over the top, but would be something your students wouldn't forget and would peak their interest with this book.  ( I've used hot chocolate before in the classroom, and in order to have the warm water, I have brought in a couple of large crock pots from home and filled with gallons of distilled water and began heating first thing in the morning.)
Here's a picture with link to a hot chocolate bar that I found from The Taylor House.

2.  Create Hershey Kiss Mobiles with a summary of the story written on the back.  I found this photo from Pinterest, but there was no link back to a blog.  If this is yours, please let me know.  I want to give credit to whom this great idea comes from.

3. Writing Activities
A. Students create their own recipe using chocolate.  Students must  include an ingredient list and a list of steps using time order words on creating this chocolate masterpiece.  ( You can grab my Chocolate Masterpiece Recipe form below for free from Google Docs by clicking HERE or on the photo below.)

B.  Classroom Chocolate Recipe Book- Assign students to ask their parents or look for their favorite recipe that includes chocolate.  Students are to bring in these recipes.  These recipes will be compiled into a classroom chocolate recipe book.  ( Wouldn't this be a fun Valentine's gift for students to take home to their parents?)  If you would like a cover for the recipe book, you can download the editable cover and table of contents below through Google Docs by clicking HERE or on the photo below.

I also created a 79 page comprehensive literacy unit that I can use in the classroom.  It is also includes a Common Core Standards alignment page.  Simply click on any of  the photos below or the link to find out more:

This unit includes a 29 page student literacy workbook.  This workbook includes comprehension questions over each chapter, vocabulary words, a vocabulary quiz after every 3rd chapter, and grammar activities after every 3rd chapter.

This unit also includes 15 pages of vocabulary activities.  I like to use these activities during literacy stations, but can also be used as a whole group.

I also created 2 "Close Reading" passages with an activity page for each passage.

With Common Core, I always like to have a research project for my students to complete.  I created a "Where Does Chocolate Come from?" research project for my students.  It includes a research guide and rubric.  I think they will love learning about the Cacao tree and the process of making chocolate.

Finally, I LOVE lap books to review story elements.  I create 10 fold-its that can be made into a lap book shown below, or placed in reader's notebooks.   We are using reader's notebooks this year, so I haven't decided if my students will create a lap book or use these fold-its in their reader's notebooks.

I can't wait to use these ideas with my students!  I know they will love it, and keeps things creative and fun during the longest part of the winter.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Slim Down Saturdays- Week One

Hey Dear Friends!
I'm excited to be part of Third Grade Tidbits Slim Down Saturdays.
How many of you have added eating healthier, working out more, or losing weight to your New Year's Resolution?  
I began this journey last January and am happy to say that it was well worth the hard work.   I was a HORRIBLE eater.  My mentality was as long as I count calories and don't go over what my body needs, I can eat whatever.  WRONG!  Before I began my journey last year to become healthier, I  ran 3-5 miles 6 days a week.  I probably only consumed 1300-1500 calories per day.  I wasn't losing any weight but actually gaining some.   I purchased all those 100 calorie snacks, Special K cereal and so forth thinking I was doing the right thing.

Well, for me, an almost 40 year old, this eating style wasn't working.  So last year I worked with a personal trainer who gave me a healthy eating plan and workouts.  It was fabulous.  I lost 20 lbs and feel SO much better!  He taught me a lot about eating that I really didn't know or understand.  

While not everyone may have a gym with access to personal trainers in their area ,nor have the time to go to the gym, you can still do this!

Even though I no longer use a personal trainer since last May, I still have been able to continue my healthy eating and maintain my weight loss except for that 5 lbs I just gained over the holidays.  Yikes!! 

I can also say that I haven't been to the gym since October.  Seriously!!  I would typically spend 1 hour and 30 minutes in the gym after work. My husband goes to work extremely early in the morning, so a morning workout at the gym was out of the question.  I was really feeling guilty for not being home with my family.  I felt good, but wanted to try another way to stay healthy while being with my family.   SO.... I researched and decided to try P90X.  It's a series of strength training and cardio workouts that I can do at home ,and it has helped me maintain my weight loss.  If you would like to find out more about this, please contact me.  I would be happy to share.  I'm getting ready to begin P90X3 which is only 30 minutes each day.  Woohoo!

Will you join us in the New Year to eat healthier and get STRONGER?  I would love for you to help me stay "accountable", and complete this journey together. I hope to post a new "clean" recipe that I will try out on my family each week.  I will let you know how it goes.  I also hope to post a "tip" that helped me during the week.

I would love to hear your thoughts and personal stories!
Click HERE to check out everyone's posts on Slim Down Saturdays.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Oh my goodness, I'm not sure where to begin.  It's been such a long time since I've blogged regularly.  I've almost forgotten how.  I feel as if I have writer's block.  I have good intentions, have taken photos of activities in my classroom but when it comes time to sit down and write.... I JUST CAN'T.

2013 was so good to  my family and I.  We were so blessed!!  Truly we were.  Please don't get me wrong because there were many  challenges and rough roads in 2013 as well.  Raising  2 "almost" teenagers in a blended family is TOUGH.  I can't tell you the number of times I have prayed fervently for wisdom, guidance, and loads of patience.  God has taught me so many needed lessons this past year through my children. 

Have you made many New Year's resolutions?!
My first resolution is to introduce my sweet family  (a little bit at a time) to healthier "clean eating".  If you have picky eaters like I do, you know how challenging this resolution will be.  I've been scouring blogs and Pinterest for clean eating recipes and have already tried out one on my family.  It was a hit for the most part.  Baby steps....
My second resolution is to try and get over this writer's block and blog at least once a week.   It seems so easy.  I'm generally a  private person, so sometimes this in itself is a road block to my blogging.

Before I close this post, I just have to share some newly discovered things over my break. I highly recommend checking them out.
1.  Did you grow up watching Full House?  Do you remember D.J.?  Well Candace Cameron Bure  has a new book out called Balancing It All.  I have enjoyed reading this so much!
She seems like such a sweetheart.  I just discovered her blog as well. Click HERE to check it out.

2.  Stitch Fix.... For some of you who already use this you may know about my soon to be obsession.  This site allows you to sign up and enter in your style preferences and size ,and then voila a box of clothing and accessories that have been chosen by a stylist for you arrives at your door.  This cost $20.00 which can be applied towards your clothing purchases if you choose to purchase anything from the box that is sent to you.  I just signed up for my first "Fix", and can't wait for it to arrive.  I will have to share this first "fix" with you when it arrives.  If you would like to find out more or sign up, please click HERE.

As we begin 2014, I hope that it is a wonderful New Year for you and your family! Many blessings!!