Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Obsessed with Fonts!

This post was inspired by my teacher BFF, Ms. Reeves.  She was in the classroom right next door to me,  and she made teaching SO much fun!  I really miss her this year, but we still keep in touch.  We joke around about opening our own school some day. . .but even more than that we share our favorite fonts!  When we became teammates a few years ago, we quickly realized that she shared the same excitement and passion that I do about fonts and clipart!  A couple of weeks ago I was joking around with her about one of her favorite fonts "comic sans"-just kidding!!! If I wanted to joke around with her or see a hilarious response I would type up something that we were sending home to parents or a document for students and use a really ugly font.  She would instantly let me know how terrible it looked!

There are so many places to get great FREE fonts.  A font can really make a documents and signs stand out so I love playing around with them and being creative.  Here are a few of my favorites.  These are just a FEW of my favorites.  I could have listed a hundred or more!
favorite fonts by Brooke Perry

If you're looking for some fonts, check out these amazing sites and resources:

Miss Tina

Hello Fonts-by Jenn Jones

Kevin & Amanda

Da Font

All of these fonts can be used free as long as you're not using them commercially.  There are fees associated with some of them for commercial products, but trust me. . .it's worth it!

What fonts do you love?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Snow Much Fun!

Here are a few "snow" related reading, writing, and math activities (despite the fact that the weather here has been unseasonably warm)! The boys were getting ready for school today and  wanted to get their jackets.  It is so strange to say, "No, you don't need it at all!  It's going to be 74 degrees today (in the middle of winter)." But then again, this is Texas!

I really miss being in the classroom this year because "tutoring" reminds me of how cute "little people" are.  Most of them are pretty used to seeing me around now, and a few of them are excited when they visit my "teaching nook."  I have been enjoying my little "intervention" position so much!  Here are a few of my favorite activities.

Place Value snowmen. . .these are half way finished.  I only see the kiddos for 15-20 minutes at a time so by the time we review a concept and complete small group activities or practice, there is just a little  bit of time for independent practice.  We'll finish these next week.  The students will get to cut them out, decorate, add a background, and make them a little more fancy.

I used this book with a guided writing group.  The students were in first grade.  I only read the first four pages of the book.  I explained why. . .the time factor.  I promised that we would finish reading it later.  The purpose of this book was just to get their minds thinking and help them to visualize what life is like inside a snow globe.  They loved this book...well, the part they heard!

After we reviewed what a "first grade" sentence looks like (capitals, spacing, spelling-word wall words, punctuation. . . ), I told the students to focus on one sentence.

I am hoping to share some more of the activities that I have done with students because most of them can be used in a whole group setting, with a small group, or for one on one intervention.  The thing that I miss most about having my own classroom is all of my teaching tools and resources.  I have a little cart of tools that I take to school with some very basic supplies, but there are many times I think to myself, "I wish I had this. . .or that. . .or those. . ."  

Today was 50's day for the boys.  They were raring to go this morning!  They're eating hamburgers and coke floats for lunch. . .yum!

Christian was saying "Rock and Roll!"

Have I ever told you guys that I LOVE holidays, celebrations, parties, and anything that has to do with decorating?!?!  Well. . .if I could have another job besides being a mommy/teacher. . .interior design would probably be very close to the top of the list!  I have already started "Valentining" the house!

Our "love notes" and "fan club mail" will begin on Friday. . .the boys are so excited-even little Sol (and I'm pretty sure his notes will either be "circles" or the letter "H" written over and over again!

There are "yummies" out everywhere!

I need to add ribbon to the jars, and this project will be finished up!  This project was so fun and cheap!  I love using these molding pieces from Home Depot.

Most of the pictures that are out right now are black and white which is perfect for the black/white/red color scheme.  

Here's my big guy. . . 8 months old!  Can't believe how fast he's grown!

Remember my goal about reading 25 books this year?  2 down. . .23 to go!  Here's my next one. . .I know, it's hilarious!  I found it at a little botique, and it was full price (almost 30 bucks), but amazon and B&N had it for less than half that price!  

Saturday, January 19, 2013

One, Two Buckle My Shoe!

We have been working on tying shoes, and we're coming along quite nicely!  Christian turns five next month, and he really wants to learn how to tie his shoes all by himself.  It's one of his goals for 2013.  

I should probably preface this post by saying that on average, most children are able to tie their shoes or learn how to tie their shoes around the time that they begin kindergarten (or just a bit before).  Many many moons ago, when I was in kindergarten, learning how to tie shoes was part of the kinder curriculum!  My family taught me how to tie my shoes before kindergarten (my mother was a kindergarten teacher at that time-so why not go ahead and teach me?).  I also had a big brother and a big sister who probably helped out with the learning process too.  I do remember quite vividly sitting on the floor in my parents bedroom practicing over and over.  It didn't seem like a dramatic, troublesome experience.  I actually remember feeling quite proud of myself!  

As you all know, times have changed!  If a child goes to kinder without knowing how to tie their shoes, they will not be turned away, looked down upon, or shunned. However, teachers are not going to reallocate instructional time to give extra support to a student who hasn't mastered this particular skill.  With all of the expectations that fall within kindergarten curriculum, there is no time for learning to tie shoes.  It's challenging enough to cover everything-with cross curricular instruction, technology, and great teaching resources on the web it is much easier, but time is still such a critical factor!

Back to Christian. . I think part of his eagerness stems from a desire to choose his own shoes and get them on without hearing me say "Go get your shoes!  Let's get them on! Why do you have these shoes?  They don't match!"  In the picture below, you can see their pairs of Christian's play/school shoes.  When he gets to choose his own shoes, guess which ones he picks? 

Christian is a typical first born.  He's a go-getter!  He has always been Mr. Independent.  It doesn't matter what color he's wearing, where we're going, or what pair of shoes he's supposed to grab. . . he always goes for the same choice!
Yesterday we spent about 10 minutes working on shoe tying, and he's working SO hard!  He told me at the end of the practice session, "I think we need to practice a little bit every day."  Because he wants to learn, and he has such a positive attitude about it, we're learning!  So here a few tips from me! 

1.  Use poems and stories!  
Children naturally love to see pictures and hear cute rhymes and stories.  
Why not incorporate a few into the time that you spend practicing?!?

Tying Shoes
By Sharon MacDonald

My fingers don't know how To weave two strings about.

There must be some magic To make a bow come out.

Everyone has shown me where The skinny strings should go.

In a week or two, I'll learn to tie But for now - I'll use Velcro.

The next few poems are from "Can Teach."

Criss Cross and go under the bridge Then you got to pull it tight.

Make a loop but keep a long tail That is how to do it right

Then you take the other string  and you wrap it 'round the loop

Pull it through the hole Now you got the scoop

Build a tee pee Come inside

Close it tight so we can hide

Over the mountain

And around we go

Here's my arrow

And here's my bow!

My Shoelace Blues
I've tried and tried to tie you, shoe. I've never done it yet.

A loop that flip-flops on the floor Is as close as I can get.

I've practiced on spaghetti. I've practiced on the mop.

I've practiced on my sister  Until she made me stop.

So here's the loop again, shoe. I'll hold it with my thumb.

I'll wrap the other end around...And yank it into bows.  It's done!

2.  Practice, practice, practice & Reward progress with praise and positive feedback.
It only takes 5-10 minutes of consistent practice each day to help your child with this skill.  Just like other tasks that can be very overwhelming, this one needs to be broken down into tiny steps.  Then you have to repeat those steps over and over until it becomes easy peasy lemon squeezy!
Celebrate the small victories with lots of praise, and before you know it, you'll see huge amounts of progress!

3.  Relate the terminology to your child, and make sure you use common language!
Christian knows his first step is to make an "X."  Because he loves the alphabet, and can relate many life skills to the way the letters look, it makes the first part of tying his shoes very easy and comfortable for him.

If you're partnering with a spouse or another caregiver to teach this skill, make sure you're teaching the same way with the same vocabulary.  For most children, it can be quite confusing and frustrating to hear two different things.  Just make sure you're on the same page.  I did show Christian two different ways, however, I allowed him to choose the one that he thought would work best for him.  Then I communicated that with Mr. Perry, and it sure does make things a lot less complicated!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

a new (part-time) job!

For the past few months I've been doing some part time work at the school where I previously taught.  Mainly I work with kindergarteners, first graders, and second graders.  This is the perfect area for me since all of my teaching experience is with primary learners.  So what have I been up to?  A little bit of everything.  Guided reading, guided writing, math facts, a few assessments here and there, and reteaching various skills as students need extra support.  Even though my badge says "tutor," I prefer to think of myself as an "interventionist!"

During the fall, the days that I worked were so sporadic that I didn't even mention it.  However, now that Jax has passed the 6 month mark, he's able to go to school with his big brothers!  So he's in school for a couple of days each week, and he seems to really love it.  The first day he slept for a grand total of 40 minutes (in a five hour time span)!  Here's a little craft that he made today.  They were learning about exercising and eating healthy!

Back to the "interventionist" position. . .I am so glad that I have the opportunity to help teachers and students in such a low-stress way.  It was around this time last year that I started seriously considering taking time off from teaching full time.   By spring break, I was just about 100% certain that I wanted to stay home this year.  With three "littles" of my own, I knew that I wouldn't be able to teach full time (with a high level of quality and excellence), spend quality time with Mr. Perry (poor guy-he was usually the one to be left out on those long, hard work days), spend time blogging (and blog-stalking), participate and serve in church activities, hang out with my boys, and have time for myself.  Having three little boys who are so close together has been a blessing, but it's also incredibly exhausting!

Teachers have such a huge amount of responsibilities on their plate.  I don't think many people realize how incredibly hard teachers work (unless they live or have lived with a teacher), and I'm not just talking about from August-May as a 7:30-3:30 job.  Between lesson plans, grading papers, parent conferences/communication with parents, appraisals, morning/afternoon duty, recess duty, lunch duty, faculty meetings, professional development, discipline, assessments, team meetings, deadlines, technology malfunctions, copy machine issues, among so many additional things.

Tomorrow is Mr. Perry's birthday, and we've been celebrating for a couple of days now!  Here's a candy/tool gram from the boys!  It has lots of candy and several of "manly" house items that he can use.

We also made this little adorable little card.  

I am working on a few more things that are turning out pretty cute so far.  Tonight we're heading to the Cheesecake factory so I'm pretty excited about that!

One more thing. . .Last week the boys' classes were each assigned a fairy tale.  Sol's class had "Jack and the Beanstalk," and Christian's class had King Midas.    

He was SO happy about taking jelly beans to school!

Christian LOVES school, and he adores his teachers SO much!  I hope and pray that this excitement continues for as long as possible!

 I hope you had a wonderful Wednesday!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Can you believe that half of the first month of the year is already gone?!?  Time flies way too fast for me these days.  This year I have 13 goals. . . one of them is to get back to weekly blog posts!  I am typing and inputting pictures fast and furiously. . .Jax is asleep and I'm racing against time!

Another goal that I'm really excited about is more reading. . .I plan to read at least 25 books this year. . .should be easy for me now that I actually have a little more time to read (well, kind of).  I have already started on two. . .


and when I was writing my goals for the year (in December '12) I added this to my book list.   I finished it before 2013 arrived so I'm not going to count it.  However, I highly recommend it for parents, teachers, or anyone else who works with children on a regular basis.  It's amazing how I have three little kids who have the same environment, same gender, same parents. . .the list goes on and on, but they are SO different in SO many ways! 

I will definitely share more about this soon!

So last week was supposed to be "snow/snowpal" week, but the temperatures were in the upper 50's/low 60's so I could not bare to get into all of the great "snow" stuff that I had planned without a bit of cold weather to go along with it. . .so I decided to wait!  Instead we had "number" week. I know-kind of random but I managed to fit in lots of winter activities with it too.

After I cut out Sol's letter "N," it made the paper look like the letter "F" also.  He was so proud that he had two letters. . .he's getting so speedy at identifying letters and naming his sounds. . . taking after his big brother!

The boys LOVED this. . .they have begged to use their snowmen almost every single day.  For some reason they seem to think that they can learn better when there's food involved. . .ha!  What have I done?!?



This one has nothing to do with winter, but I just couldn't resist. . . I LOVE Pete!  We're not quite finished with this one yet, but I'll show you the final product when we're done.  Christian is getting so confident as he completes directional art projects.  I have seen an incredible amount of growth in his finger strength and fine motor skills!

I'm sure there will be a "number" week part 2, 3, and probably 4 because I pulled out nearly 50 books that have to do with numbers and counting!

Jaxon was not left out in all of our number fun!

Solomon did quite a bit of bowling himself while Christian and I worked on more challenging projects.

Well, this week it's definitly cold (actually freezing) this week.  
We woke up to a light dusting of snow and a few small patches of ice.  So I asked the boys if they wanted to move on to "animals in winter" or "snowpals" this week, and they decided  on animals!

This week. . .amazing winter animals!

Next week. . .snow!!!

Oh and one more thing. . .can I just tell y'all how much I love Mr. Perry?!?  He's a pretty wonderful guy.  You'd love him if you met him.  Instantly.  He's just that kind of guy.  His birthday is this week!  I have a few surprises up my sleeve. . .I'm hoping and praying that I can get everything ready and make it just as amazing as he is!

Lately he's been reading the boys a bedtime story every night.  He reads a book that matches our theme, and they are so sad when they can't have storytime.  By the way, he's getting pretty good at asking lots of good questions before, during, and after the story.  He does have a pretty experienced instructional coach though!

Have a happy Tuesday, and stay as warm as you can!  
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