Fitness Resolutions

Fitness resolutions for nightmare! I say I am going to run every year around this time and then I'll motivate again at other random points in the year... but I have yet to be consistent.  Sidenote: I live at the beach. I am 2 blocks from a nice path along the ocean in southern California where the weather is usually nice (because let's be honest, if it is raining I am not going outside for exercise) So what is my excuse?

Deedee Wills is hosting today's linky party and upon reading her post I have become inspired.

Just 3 minutes ago I registered for the Los Angeles 5K Color Run on February 2nd. Have you heard of the Color Run? I like it because the main idea is FUN! I may not like running, but I love fun! And even I think I can tackle a 5K in one month's time. Click {here} to see if there is a Color Run in your area...and in no way do I work for them- just sharing it because it is fun. (I've never run in it- just watched.)

But the next race needs to be a 10K. I've done one before...but it was a few years ago. Since then I registered for a half marathon and then thanks... maybe next year. There is a Valentine's Day 10K on Coronado Island...the actual race is on the 17th, but I wonder if Valentine's Day is a time for running?  Or perhaps a Hollywood 10K on April 6.........we'll see.

My other fitness related goal is to GO TO BED on time. If I go to sleep at a decent hour, in theory, I should be better able to wake up early to get in that morning work out. I am often up late doing random not-time-pressing things on the computer.

My last goal is to drink more water. It is good for my health, my skin and I never drink enough. I especially need to be hydrated if I am going to be running more.

Go to Deedee's blog to link up and to see some cool apps for fitness and ideas to put fitness in your classroom.  I hope you have a healthy and fit 2013!



Downtime. What's that? That's how I feel at times. And this is coming from someone who doesn't have my own little ones at home. Even still - spare time is hard to find.

I'm linking up with Amy Lemons at Step into Second Grade to share my downtime resolutions for 2013!

My main resolution for 2013 is to try and make a hobby out of cooking. In anticipation of this post today I piloted this new goal last night.

Let me give you some background. My wonderful husband usually does all the cooking (and most of the cleaning too). He loves it (the cooking part at least) - so it's perfect... no need for me to get in the way, right? Well, he is currently a full time grad student and so this means he is buried in books all the time. Occasionally he would try to cook something fast, while I am on the couch watching Modern Family. Something is wrong with this picture! Soooo I want to try to take this on myself. He loves it (and so do so many others) so why not me?

My husband watches me in the kitchen and often says, "How did you survive before we met?" Um, it's called take out!

So last night I made chili with quinoa. I thought that
A. This would be hard to mess up
B. Seemed like a good idea on a rainy day

My husband whips out the camera... because yes, this is a rare event he hasn't seen. He doesn't know it is my 2013 resolution!

Here are some pictures of this evening's pilot adventure. Spoiler alert: the chili was edible...not amazing, but not horrible.

My other resolution is to use my downtime to organize my photos! It's a hot mess right now. Traveling is my thing... Love it! Do it a lot! Although right now I'm at home and not on a fabulous trip as I had hoped. So with finances forcing me to stay home a bit more I need to use the time to organize past trips.

#1 I was married over 3 years ago and most of my pictures are on disks (given to me by others) or on my computer. I made a scrap book, BUT it was supposed to be the temporary one until I had time to make the "real one." That needs to happen in 2013!

#2 My honeymoon.... these are sitting on my computer. Never dealt with them at all :(

#3 Random photos. Like the one below... where are we? What year is it? Sad! (My detective skills say it's post-wedding because I see a wedding ring and probably Europe because of the red Coca-Cola napkin holder. My hair color and length are also used in my detective skills, but hard to process in this one!) But it is sad, sad, sad that I don't know! I need to label as many photos with place and date NOW before more times passes and they are all a mystery.
#4 My State Signs Book! I started a tradition with a friend of mine about 10 years ago where we would take pictures of ourselves at every state sign and put them in a scrapbook that has a page ready for all 50 states! I haven't updated this in SEVERAL years, but have many signs to add. Plus, my hubby has started to join in this fun and I haven't even gotten him a book yet. I really want to do this, as one of my goals is to visit all 50 states (AND to drive into the state in order to take the picture with the sign! And yes, I have been to Hawaii and took a picture in the airport... and Alaska will be the only other place an airport photo will be allowed)
 Here's a newer east coast sample and an older west coast one:

I'm tired just thinking about how I plan to spend my downtime. Wish me luck...not sure which will be more of a challenge? Cooking or photo organizing! Hmmm don't think the word "challenging" was supposed to feature in a post about downtime.

Stop by Amy's blog so you can link up and share too!


Professional Growth Goals for a New Year

I'm linking up with Amanda at One Extra Degree to share my Professional Growth resolutions for 2013!

My first goal revolves around the Common Core Standards... I want to be more familiar with them and not always having to go back and double check myself! It seems so many teachers in blogging land have been using Common Core standards for a while, but in California (or at least in my district) we seem to be making the transition now and 2013 will be a big year of "out with the old and in with the new Common Core."

Another goal is to work on growing this blog! I had been stalking other blogs for a long time and decided it was time for me to join the fun this year. And fun it is... I will say, I have learned a lot and what's even more true is that I know I have A LOT more to learn. I love blogging, I love TpT and I love all the other teachers I am meeting because of it all. I hope to get more followers and be able to share more ideas in 2013!

My last goal is to better learn how to manage my class of 29 kindergarten friends! Yes, 29! I am not sure if this fits under the "professional growth" could argue that "classroom growth" is a different area.

When I started teaching, in 1999, I only had 20! Then I taught the upper graders for a while so 29 to 33 was manageable. Then I returned to the little ones and was rolling with 24 and this school year, for the first time, I have 29. It is HARD to do small group instruction and see the kiddos as often as I want! I am hoping this isn't a forever can't be, right? Since September I have been trying out different ways to see all my reading groups....but I haven't found a plan I am 100% happy with. So my goal this year is to be more creative in how I plan my day and how I run groups in all subject areas.

I really could keep going with more goals... In fact, I was just reading Deedee Wills post about this same topic and think I want to read a few of the books she listed, too!

2013 will be a busy year! Bring it on!


Let's Create a Winter Wonderland for Sandy Hook!

I was so happy to find a way to help the students of Sandy Hook. Today I read on Sarah's Clearly Kindergarten blog that the Sandy Hook PTA is accepting snowflakes to decorate their new school. What a fun way for our students to help....even if some have no idea about what happened, they can still contribute.

The PTA of Sandy Hook has asked us to be creative and send snowflakes by January 12. You can mail them to: Connecticut PTSA, 60 Connolly Parkway, Building 12, Suite 103, Hamden, CT 06514. Click {HERE} to see their website with more information.

There are other fundraising ideas on this page.

I have been trying to think of how can I show this community that we care and that we are thinking of them. I love the idea of helping to decorate their new school.

I'll be getting out my paper, scissors and of course a little glitter on our first day back in school. Why don't you make some snowflakes too?!


Candy Cane Ornaments Freebie

I still can't seem to put into words my thoughts and feelings about what happened in Connecticut last Friday. I continue to think about those little, innocent children, their brave teachers, and everyone in their community whose lives have been forever changed.

When I got to work today and saw my sweet students it reminded me... the show has to go on. I need to  smile and be the teacher they know. They are excited about the holidays, as they should be. So after a weekend of being in a strange funk - I am trying to "act normal." But at the same time, continue to pray and think of everyone in the Sandy Hook area.

So here it goes....a "normal" and festive post....

We make a salt dough candy cane every year. It is fun, festive and affordable! Some years I use this as the gift the kiddos give to their families....this year we did them in addition to something else (although I'm not sure why I did that to myself?!)

First of all, my mom always comes down to help on this day and that's a fun tradition. Plus, these are just a good ol' fashioned kindergarten craft. I have typed this up step by step as freebie on Teachers Pay Teachers - You  can click on the link to this freebie at the bottom of this post.

I don't have a picture of a finished candy cane....hmm, how did that happen? But I have many pictures of the process. 

We make the dough ahead of time. The trick to this is that the dough must be kneeded A LOT! My mom kneeds it quite a bit before calling back my little friends three at a time. It also helps to have the dough in balls ready to hand each child one red and one white ball.           

Yes, that is a paper clip in the top there..... What can I say, I'm budget! I used to buy the ornament hooks (you can find these at Michaels or Hobby Lobby), but honestly they didn't hook in that well. The paper clip is free and does the same job. You throw a ribbon through the clip to hang the candy cane on a tree or anywhere else that needs a little holiday cheer!

If you would like to give these a try - you can click on it's free!


Silence for Sandy Hook Elementary


The Five Senses in the North Pole

I love learning about the five senses in December and it's a new thing for me the past few years. It was thanks to Shari Sloane. She has amazing ideas! I was lucky enough to see her in person at the Kindergarten Conference in Las Vegas last July and I own two of her CDs. If you click {HERE} you will be directed to Shari's site and her little book will need to scroll down to find the "Little Elf, Little Elf" book.

Here is the cover of Shari's book that I have made.....the inside is even cuter! You can see it all (and download it) at her site.

We start our Christmas in the North Pole 5 Senses exploration with the book, "Elf Elementary." (That is also Shari's idea.) The kids really enjoy this story and I learned some facts I didn't know.

We then do one sense per day- completing a circle map for each:

The bottom one is my hearing map from last year.... it is clear why I made the move to using clip art. Wow! It's pretty bad, huh. I didn't even attempt a picture for reindeer stomping.... believe me, it's better for all of us that way. I will say though that I liked what the kids came up with.

"Santa's dinner" on my smell map was one of my favorites....needless to say, I didn't have that picture pre-printed out. (I try to have many of the pictures already printed and cut out so that the kids and I truly make the chart all together) The best part was that it was one of my kiddos with limited English who came up with the brilliant idea. Then another little friend told me I needed to get a picture with steak on it.... so that is what I did! I think that sounds about right...Santa probably does enjoy a little steak!

On the last day we did the taste page. We tape one mini candy cane into the book and eat and enjoy another one as we practice reading our new books:

I just put together all the graphic organizers I use during this unit on TPT. Just click {HERE}


Christmas Wishes

So I am just getting home from a busy day of shopping and working. Man are those malls full these days! I didn't achieve all of my shopping goals, but I did OK. I found myself in the Sanrio store which is a problem because the only person I know who would want anything from there is me...   Yes, at my age, Hello Kitty remains my favorite! Love her! And I convinced myself that I "need" a new bag for school.....But I left empty handed.... it was a close call! Don't think I won't be back in there on December 26th though!

Then I stopped by my classroom later in the day.....sometimes it just has to be done on a Sunday. As I was working I looked up at my "Dear Santa," bulletin and it made me think about how sweet my little friends are and how we get jaded with age.  When I was shopping earlier I had the whole, "I want" attitude and I am running around that place like a crazy person because I have to get the perfect gift for everyone! And here I read this letter to Santa, "I love you because you give me presents." I just love that.

And with all the chaos in the mall it is nice to see some innocent appreciation. Sometimes the gifts and the whole Santa thing gets out of hand. And even though this little one is still saying- hey I like myself some gifts...he is being so sweet.

Sidenote: This is the time of year that I introduce the friendly letter. It is a good common core alignment to write a letter to an actual person....wink, wink. And as always, I love any project where a handprint is involved....or 3! I don't have the exact measurements for the "Triangle Santa" as I call him, but he's an easy one. This year I pre-cut the big white triangle piece, but normally the kids cut that shape too. He's also a good Santa for a parent card, but you can't shrink him down too much because no matter what the kids hands will remain the same size. I'll add his measurements soon.

I'm exhausted...good night!

Reindeer Fun

We were all about reindeer in my classroom this week!

 I always start with Jan Brett's "Wild Christmas Reindeer" and this year's group had so many questions about why the reindeer in this story had different and funny names? Where is Dasher and Dancer and all the other ones?  That wasn't the conversation I was planning on....but OK I'll roll with it. Eventually I just said that this is a very old story so these reindeer were around before Blitzen and the others we usually hear about. So naturally the next question was, "Are they dead now?" Luckily, my unsure, "I don't know" was enough of a response.  Even with all of that, I love reading this story about Teeka working to prepare all the "weird named" reindeer. So I hope my little tale hasn't deterred you from this book. It's a good one. It's by Jan Brett, how could it not be good?

We made these fun reindeer

And of course,  Reindeer Week wouldn't be complete without including Rudolph! Look at this's old! Probably born in the 70's just like this teacher!  I think I have had it since I was little. There are so many versions out there, but I'm partial to this one.

I remember as a kid wondering- what are all these reindeer games that these reindeer are playing? And why are they so mean to Rudolph? So now, I ask my students the same questions. We make a circle map (forgot to snap a picture of it!) of what Reindeer games we think they play and the ideas they have always make me smile. And we talk about how it feels to be left out. Always a good little chat to have to remind everyone to be kind.

Then they get to name their own reindeer and write one reindeer game from the circle map:

Please notice we have a reindeer named in the Gangnam Style Psy. Also notice the sun and grass in every picture. Clearly we haven't done our weather or habitat units yet. These little Southern California friends, are just like their teacher, we think "cold" is when it is 60 degrees outside.

And then there's this little friend who copies the words from the middle of the circle map...oh well. The sentence still makes sense and I love her illustration of the checkers game (or is it Connect Four?):

We made reindeer hats, a reindeer sandwich (yum!) and a class book about what we would do if we were reindeer. 

We also played this sight word game:

All of these items are in my TPT Unit. Just click {HERE}

Happy Saturday everyone!

Liebster Award.... Yay!!!

OK So I have not been updating my blog as I had thought I would...I'm going to figure this out soon! Somehow I need to get a better system in place because I always think about what I am going to blog, but then life gets cray-cray and my thoughts never make it onto the world wide web. I thank Sarah at Clearly Kindergarten for helping me to refocus by nominating me for the Liebster Award! 

This award is given by bloggers to up and coming bloggers with less than 200 followers. It is to show new bloggers that they are appreciated and help spread the word about new blogs! 
The rules:
*You must post 11 random things about yourself
*Answer the questions the nominator set for you
*Create 11 questions for the people you nominate
*Choose 11 blogs your love (with less than 200 followers) and link them in your post.
*No tag back (but it would be great if you can leave me a comment on this post with the URL to your Liebster post so I can learn more about you!)

11 Random Things about Me:

1. I'm married to the best guy ever who I met in London!
2. I live walking distance to the ocean in Southern California, yet I haven't been down to the beach since summer :(
3. I taught abroad on a Fulbright exchange for one year. I taught Year 2 (1st grade) in a small town in England.
4. My husband and I LOVE to travel! We got married in France and hope to be back in Europe very soon for a visit.
5. My younger sister is getting married this summer. I'm so excited to be her M.O.H.
6. I played the alto sax in high school- possibly inspired by Lisa Simpson and so random!
7. My husband just started grad school at USC and so we became Trojan Football fans this year.
8. I love reading my Kindle, but let's be honest....that only happens June through August.
9. I love shopping....for shoes, clothes and everything on TpT! 
10. My hubby and I have the smallest apartment ever! It's a choice we make so we can get on airplanes as much as possible, buy my oh my, it's tiny up in this place!
11. I like to burn Bath and Body Works candles 24-7! Well, maybe not literally 24-7.

Now for the 11 questions from Sarah:

1. What is your favorite theme or subject to teach?
That's a hard one, but I am going to say science! The kids get so excited when we do experiments or even just discuss any science topic!  I think my favorite theme is insects! 

2. How long have you been teaching?
This is my 14th year of teaching! (Hmm, is that a mistake because I still feel like a new teacher sometimes!)

3. What is your favorite read aloud book?
Another hard one... probably "The Kissing Hand," because I always read it on the first day of school in kindergarten and all these new, little faces are staring at me and you can tell that they totally relate to Chester the Raccoon who is nervous about his first day, too!

4. How long have you been blogging?
I started my blog this past August, but had been considering starting a blog for many months before that. 

5. Do you have any hobbies?
My favorite thing to do is to research and plan travel for my husband and I! I'm not sure that is officially a hobby.... but it is for me!

6. What is your favorite place to visit?
I love London, Paris, Stockholm, Tokyo and all the islands of Thailand. I just love, love, love seeing new places! And as much as I love these places- I usually opt for trying out a new spot!

7. What is your favorite thing about teaching?
Hanging out with kids all day - I think it keeps me young. They are so positive ..... much more fun than adults! They make all the hard work worth it. 

8. Would you still teach if you won the lottery?
Yes! I have pondered this question before and I the answer is yes!

9. What is your favorite food?
I love cupcakes! All kinds and all of the time :)

10. Do you like to read for fun?  What is your favorite book?
I love reading. My automatic answer is all of the Harry Potter books... and I think that is a super boring response, even though I do just love them. I also have really liked the Veronica Roth Divergent books (it's a 3 book series.... I'm waiting for #3 to come out still!) 

11. How many blogs to you currently follow?
Oh so many, I can not even give you an exact number!

Questions I am asking my nominees:
1.  How long have you been teaching?
2.  What is your favorite thing about being a teacher?
3. What is your favorite grade to teach?
4. What type of lesson planner do you use? (Old school paper and pencil or online?)
5. Do you have any hobbies?
6.  What is your favorite place to travel?
7.  If you were stranded on a desert island tell me 3 things you would take with you.
8. What was the last book you read and did you like it?
9. What is your favorite food?
10. Do you watch TV?  If so what is your favorite show?
11. What is your favorite app?

Blogs I am nominating:

Wow! That's a whole lotta info about me! Another shout out thank you to Sarah for the nomination! It was fun to do this and really fun to discover some new blogs: some that I nominated I already love, love....and some are new ones to add to my blog "stalking" schedule!