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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It's Been A While

I've obviously been absent for a while as I have been adjusting to motherhood and a new school year. I have seriously scaled back my teaching schedule, and am now only teaching one day a week. This is due to two reasons: 1) I wanted to be home more with my baby boy 2) Enrollment was so low at many of my centers that after paying a sitter, I wasn't breaking even. I'm assuming that low enrollment has been due to the tough economy, as I have never had issues with enrollment in my previous years, and have not done anything different this year.

I miss many of my old students, but am really enjoying this new schedule. I love my time with my son. I love being there for all those special moments. And working one day a week allows me to get enough of a break to stay sane, while doing what I love.

Also, I have plans of pursuing publishing some of my Literacy Launchpad curriculum in some way, shape, or form. I'll keep you posted on that. Teaching one day a week allows me to test run new stories and lesson ideas that I might include in my publishing pursuits. Perfect!

I'm also offering Literacy Launchpad classes at my local rec center, but for whatever reason those never seem to take off (I have offered them in there in previous years too).

That's an update on what I'm up to. I will be posting lesson ideas and reflections again soon!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Time To Work?

For the past nine months I have been trying to figure out how I will juggle motherhood and Literacy Launchpad. I always thought the two would mesh so seamlessly, but now that I'm dealing with the reality of managing both, I'm wondering how I will fare. I am a perfectionist, very all or nothing. So how can I be the perfect mom and the perfect teacher? They're both such time consuming jobs.

People juggle teaching and parenthood all the time though. I guess it's something you adjust to? I haven't even begun doing Literacy Launchpad work this summer in preparation for the school year, and already I feel as though there aren't enough hours in the day. I hope my life doesn't spin into total chaos once the school year officially begins...

So it's time for me to start working on lesson planning and such. I sorted through my lesson plans and have decided that I wasn't completely happy with how some of my September lessons went that are slated for repeat this year, so I want to come up with a new month of lessons for September. Hopefully I'll find some great inspiration. I also need to prep for enrollment kick-off; renew insurance and business licenses, line up a great sitter for my little one, etc. etc. Yikes!

So how do all you teaching mothers do it? I know there are many of you out there. Got any tips or encouragement? Can it be done??

Sunday, July 20, 2008

He's Here!

My little bundle of joy arrived on the 4th of July. He's our little firecracker! Everything went awesome with the delivery and we've been home for a couple weeks visiting with family and adjusting to life with a newborn. Newborns sleep a lot, but yet it still seems tough to get much done with him around... I'm hoping I get the hang of all this mommy stuff soon and get back to blogging more regularly.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Countdown

I have about 2 and 1/2 weeks left till my due date. Wow! This pregnancy has flown by, but now suddenly feels like it's dragging. I can't wait for this baby to arrive. I can't believe I'm going to be a mother. It's completely surreal to me! I can't even imagine what that moment is going to feel like when I first hold my baby. I get all verklempt just thinking about it! Talk amongst yourselves...

O.K... better. So, what is my plan for the next couple weeks?
- I'm going to try to get a jump on some planning and organizing for the fall. I know Literacy Launchpad will be starting again before I know it, and time is going to slip away from me once my little one arrives.
- I am going to start working on preparing some Literacy Launchpad curriculum to submit for publication. It's a dream, but one that will surely never come true unless I start doing something about it.
- Maintaining my house cleaning. I don't know when I will have to rush off to the hospital, so I'm hoping to keep my house in a somewhat constant state of relative cleanliness.
- Sleep. I'm a nap person, and I've got to enjoy my uninterrupted sleep while I can
- Blog surf. I'm addicted, and again, probably won't have tons of time to feed this addiction once baby arrives.

That seems like an ambitious list for 2 weeks. I'll leave it at that.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Three Cheers for Preschool!

I truly believe that many of the problems we deal with in this country could be greatly reduced if we (as a society) invested more in our children and youth. That's why I'm so passionate about helping children fall in love with reading at an early age.

I just received a link to an ABC News video from Reading Rockets... Food for thought on early childhood education. Check it out!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Garage Sale Library

Went garage sale-ing today and hit the mother load at one sale. I bought about 18 children's books, and could have ended up with many more if I hadn't stopped myself. I complimented the seller on her great book stash and she revealed that she was a teacher and does home schooling... I knew it! :) I could definitely tell she had some teacher in her by how well kept the books were. I bought some Ezra Jack Keats titles, some Don Freeman, Vera Williams, Charlotte Zolotow, to name a few. Then at another sale I picked up some Captain Underpants and Time Warp Trio books. Woohoo!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Want Some Books?

I recently discovered a great way to acquire new books... for free! Well, it's not completely free, I guess. There's a website called Bookmooch that lets you exchange books with others. You can post books of your own that you don't want anymore. Then when you ship someone your book(s), you earn points that you can then use to get books you want that other users have posted.

I just joined today, and was not able to find a couple books I was specifically looking for, but I'm hoping I'll have some luck with it when I poke around a little more and actually get some of my own books posted! It's free to join! Try it out! The more people that join, the more selection there will be!

And don't forget, you can apply this same concept at your local used book store. Sell them books you don't want anymore, get store credit, then buy new (used) books!!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Summer is Here!

O.K. so maybe it's not "officially" summer, but with the 90 degree heat we've been having around here, it sure feels like summer already!!

Literacy Launchpad has wrapped up for the summer, but that doesn't mean the reading fun has to stop. There are summer reading programs going on all over the area (and all over the country)! Read what the Horn Book Magazine's editor has to say about summer reading programs:

I hope the demands of the ever more prevalent summer required-reading list don’t put a crimp on participation in the summer reading clubs and games sponsored by public libraries nationwide. These programs, generally free of charge and blissfully unstructured, offer a combination of recreation, socialization, and reading for pleasure that will do far more good for a child than anything he or she reads “because I have to.” For bookish kids, these clubs offer an easy and too-rare way to shine among their peers; and nonreaders who are in the game strictly for the prizes and refreshments will at least learn their way around a library. Many libraries offer variations on the club to allow participation online or on vacation. See what’s going on in your town.
-Roger Sutton (Editor in Chief, Horn Book Magazine)

Life has been very crazy this year, especially with a baby on the way in a few weeks here. But I'm doing my best to make semi-regular appearances on here. Thanks for checking in! Hopefully life will calm down before too long.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Magic (and not so magic) Beanstalks

April was a month of fairy tales, and this is always one of my favorite units. I can practically guarantee that EVERY student is going to love EVERY story and activity. The last week in April I told the students the story of Jack and the Beanstalk. There's a prop I bring with when I tell this story (this prop idea was stolen from one of the most awesome teachers I've ever met - Jeanne Bell); it's a fabric beanstalk that grows to the ceiling when someone pulls on a fishing line pulley... thing-y. And of course, I let all the children take a turn chopping down the beanstalk with a home-made, cardboard axe that I brought with. They loved it!

After our story, we planted our own beans! And I made it a little more fun and interesting by making-up a story about how I got the beans from Jack! I couldn't wait for the kids to take their beanstalks home and see them grow. I had planted my own bean last summer, and it grew really fast... freakishly fast!

Unfortunately though, almost every child reported to me this week that their beanstalks have not grown at all! I can't believe it! What horrible news. The kids all seemed so sad and disappointed. I don't know what happened. I guess I got a bad batch of beans. Thanks for nothing, Jack!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day!

It's Earth Day! Yay! So in celebration, I wanted to point you toward some blogs that can help you make every day Earth Day. These blogs will give you lots of info about not only making the earth a healthier place, but also will give you info about making your family healthier. They are great resources that I go to all the time. Take some time to check them out. You'll probably find yourself returning!

Nature Moms Blog - Check out the giveaway going on right now!

Green Baby Guide

Green and Clean Mom

Crunchy Domestic Goddess - Check out the giveaway going on here too!

These are a few favorites. And you'll be able to find more as you begin exploring these few I've listed. They often have giveaway drawings for great products for your home and family. I entered a few this week! Let me know what you think of these sites!

... And I'll try to return to some more literary posts here soon!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Recycle Your Take-Home Crafts and Activities

I'm not even going to bother starting this post off with another apology. I guess you can just expect my posts to be a bit fewer and farther between. Especially as my due date creeps closer and closer.

Continuing with our Earth Day theme we've got going, I want to encourage you to be recycling your child's crafts that they bring home. whether it's a Literacy Launchpad activity or a project from school. It's obvious that you can't keep everything your child brings home, no matter how much you want to. If there's a particular project they made that you want to remember, take a photo of it, then toss the project itself into your recycling bin (you do have a recycling bin, right?).

I've been trying to make an effort to reduce the amount of non-recyclable materials I use in our Literacy Launchpad activities. You'll notice that the "Three Billy Goats Gruff" magnets from this week were sent home in a paper pocket instead of a plastic baggie. So once those magnets make it safely onto your fridge, make sure you recycle that paper pocket.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Recycled Crafts

This is my first blog posting in celebration of Earth Day on April 22nd!

This blog post was inspired by some poking around I was doing on the internet today. See, I'm in need of some coasters for my living room, and I know there are many ways to make coasters out of things I probably already have, rather than going and buying coasters. (I'm all about NOT buying things NEW!) So I was searching for some coaster-making ideas when I stumbled onto some great crafting websites!

I figure, if you're visiting this blog, it's probably because you either have children, or work with children. Either way, I'm sure you could use some resources for cool craft ideas to do with your kiddos from time to time. So listed below are some places to visit for how-to instructions on making craft projects out of recycled materials. There are literally hundreds of ideas among these sites collectively. So get creative, and find a way to tie a recycled craft project in with a fun story! With this many ideas, it shouldn't be tough!

I wish I could incorporate more of these ideas into my Literacy Launchpad activities, but the volume of supplies I usually need often makes using recycled materials challenging. Hmm... I probably just need to be more resourceful. I'm open to suggestions if you've got 'em!

All Free Crafts

There are a few to get you started. You'll find tons more if you decide to start surfing around! Let me know if you find an especially cool idea, or if you give any of these ideas a try!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Miss Me?

Wow! I haven't been doing too well lately with posting on a weekly basis lately, have I? There's been so much going on lately. Most of what has kept me from posting lately is that I've been sick. I'm hoping that I'm finally getting over it (fingers crossed). So I apologize for being gone for so long.

Our field trip was cancelled, and as of right now, I don't know a good date to reschedule it for. I'll keep you posted.

April 22nd is Earth Day! Woohoo! I'll be trying to post some green tips throughout the month. So stay tuned for that.

That's it for now. Just wanted to let you all know that I'm still alive! :-) And I'll be back soon with a real post!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Field Trip Cancelled!

There was a Literacy Launchpad field trip planned for this Saturday (the 29th) at the Nashville Public Library, but it has been cancelled due to a personal family issue. I'm very sorry! Hopefully I will be able to work out another field trip for us before the end of the year. With the way things have been going lately though, I make no promises! Again, I'm very sorry. Thanks for being so understanding!

Monday, March 17, 2008


Ever leave your house for work and have that nagging feeling that you've forgotten something? I get that feeling almost everyday, and I'm always forced to go through a mental checklist of everything I'll need for the day before I walk out the door. When I left the house today though, I had a stronger-than-usual nagging feeling that I didn't have everything I needed. I had done my mental checklist though, and so I ignored the feeling. When I got to my school this morning, nothing seemed awry. I began my lesson confidently with my first group of students. Then I got about halfway through today's lesson, and reached into my big bag to get out my supplies for our toilet paper bunny craft... That's when I realized that I had forgotten to bring my toilet paper rolls!!! I had put them in separate bag, and didn't put the bag in my car! Panic immediately set in. I now had no project for my kiddos to make, and they were all waiting... starring at me with their cute little faces and asking, "Can we make bunnies like in the story?" Think, think, think I was telling myself. And that's when I decided I could improvise.

The original plan was to glue the bunny parts onto a toilet paper roll. Then I had popsicle sticks that I would help them stick through the bottom of the toilet paper rolls so they could make their bunnies hop around and say "Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!" like in our story! But I quickly realized that I could let them glue all the bunny parts onto the popsicle sticks themselves, and they would still be able to make them hop around. It worked! The kids loved them! And they turned out cute... not as cute as I would have liked, but cute enough!

So we had bunnies on sticks hopping around, pretending to climb over fences, under walls, and through water to get to Mr. McGreeley's veggie garden (I was Mr. McGreeley in the puppet play). The lesson lost none of it's purpose or charm through my improvisation. Hooray!

There was only one other time I have ever forgotten something I needed for a lesson, and it was the BOOK (this was a couple years ago)! There was no way of improvising my way around that one! Thank goodness that wasn't the case today!

P.S. Check out our book list in the side bar for more info about this week's story: Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! by Candace Fleming.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Green Childcare

I am somewhat of an environmental enthusiast, and so when I saw an article in Kiwi magazine about this eco-friendly childcare center, I was really excited! It would be interesting to know specific details about what earth friendly choices their making, but even regardless of the specifics, it's a step in the right direction, right? I would love to see more of this going on!!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Stock Your Home Library... Cheap!!

In Middle Tennessee (and other regions, I'm assuming) it's consignment sale season!! I have never done any shopping at these twice-a-year consignment sales, because I've never had any children. But now I wish I had checked them out sooner!

I went to one of these sales earlier this week, because I wanted to shop for baby clothes (I'm expecting if you hadn't heard). The first thing I saw when I walked into the sale was boxes and boxes of children's books!! Half the time I spent at the sale was spent pouring over all the books. They had lots of great ones that were in excellent condition. I seriously had to restrain myself from buying them all!! I was looking for baby-friendly board books in particular, and was so excited to be able to get a bunch of them for not much money. Score!!

So look in your local paper, search around online. I know there have been at least four or five of these sales going on around here this month. And most of them have half-price day on the last day of the sale (I'm planning to go back)!! So take advantage of the great deals and stock up your home library!!

Sunday, February 24, 2008


I have been trying to visit the Nashville Public Library's website for the past month, and it absolutely will not load!I have no idea why. It's not my internet. It's just that ONE site. I guess it's time for me to break down and call them... maybe they can tell me what the deal with their website is. Surely I'm not the only one having this problem??

And yes, I am still planning to have a field trip outing of some sort in March. No amazing ideas or opportunities have come to my attention, or come to mind... But we will do something. And we'll just have to make it amazing ourselves! Stay tuned.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Gather 'Round My Soapbox

I'm sure most people have heard about the recent school shooting at Northern Illinois University in Dekalb, Illinois. It was especially startling news for me to hear last night, because I attended NIU for a brief time before moving to Tennessee. I am originally from the Chicago area. My sisters graduated from NIU, friends of mine have attended the university, and my brother-in-law is currently a student there (he was not on campus the day of the shooting).

But I am not distraught simply over the fact that a shooting has happened at a location I used to frequent. I am distraught over how common these shooting rampages have become in our country. Did you know that there have been four (at least) school shootings this week in this country? Four! In one week! And it's not just happening in our schools. It's happening at our malls, and at our churches... Why???

There don't appear to be any easy answers or explanations for why these tragedies keep happening. But it seems that random, shooting rampages have sadly become a sign of the times.

I heard a psychologist on the Today Show this morning being asked about the possible motives of the NIU shooter, and she began talking about this generation's addiction to fame. She encouraged the media to stop giving so much news coverage to these suicide shooters. And I whole-heartedly agree with her. In fact, my husband and I had been discussing the very same thing last night.

I remember feeling unbelievably frustrated when the Virginia Tech shooting happened and NBC aired the video that the shooter had recorded of himself previous to the shooting. I don't understand how anybody with a shred of humanity could justify airing that video. It really made me feel physically sick to hear about that (I never watched the video myself).

I understand that we all have a natural curiosity to know want to know what kind of a person could do these horrible things. I really do get that. But if not knowing could potentially save lives in the future, I would much rather not know. Wouldn't you? I don't want to know the shooter's name. I don't want to see their photo. I don't want to hear anything about them. Instead of immortalizing a killer, how about we sensationalize the humanity that arose out of the situation from the victims and survivors?

I have sent a letter to the major news networks (MSNBC, FOX, ABC, CNN. Did I forget any?) encouraging them to limit their coverage of these kinds of shooters. I let them know that as a news viewer/reader/listener, this is not something I desire to know about. Will it make a difference? Maybe... Maybe not. But it's at least one small way I can make a stand in helping to prevent future violence of this kind. If you feel the same way I do, I STRONGLY encourage you to do the same thing.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tornados and Snow

Spring like storms and tornados last week, and then cold and snow this week... what's up with that??? Tennessee is a weird place.

So I'm at home today on a self-declared Snow Day (most local schools have a Snow Day today too)!! Woohoo! The way I schedule Literacy Launchpad makes it pretty easy most months to reschedule class if necessary. It felt necessary today. Local schools are closed today, so our normal classroom would have been occupied by school-agers. That means we would have been forced to have class in the hallway. That's always difficult. Plus, I was told that many children are absent today due to the weather, and I would hate for so many kiddos to miss our lesson this week (or any week). ... And although I am from the Chicago area originally, I still hate getting out in any kind of snow (even if it's just a dusting). Especially with some of these crazy Tennessee drivers.

Now that I have justified my Snow Day to everyone, I want to tell you how much fun I've been having with our lesson this week. I'm surprised, because I wasn't sure this lesson would go over the best. But the kids have been loving it, and it seems like the content of the lesson is really sticking with them (at least all the way back to their classrooms).

We read The Z Was Zapped: A Play in Twenty-Six Acts, and they have been fascinated with this book! All eyes are glued to each page, as they eagerly await what will happen to the next letter in the alphabet. It's awesome!

Our activity this week was acting out the parts of the letters. Each child was assigned a letter of the alphabet (not all the letters were represented in each class). They decorated headbands with their assigned letter on it. Then we read through our story a second time. When they heard their letter, they stood up and acted out what was happening to the letter on that page.

These kids are very dramatic actors!! They had a ball doing this activity. They wanted to read the story again and again. And they were interested not only in their own letter, but in what letter everyone else had. They loved seeing everyone else act out their part too! And on the way back to class they were all talking about what had happened to each letter in the story. I was amazed at how much was sticking with them.

So no class today, and no class tomorrow since everyone will be having Valentine's Day parties. We'll move on to a new lesson next week, and then I'll come back to this lesson for the ones who missed it this week.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Magic Me!

I have a couple cute little Literacy Launchpad anecdotes to share from my week (so far).

Yesterday, I had one of my pre-K kiddos tell me that they didn't want to graduate (from pre-K). I was surprised to hear her say that. Graduation is always so eagerly anticipated by the pre-K kids, so I asked her why she felt this way. She told me, "because then I can't come to class with you." I assured her that she would get to read lots of stories when she goes to kindergarten, and here's the best part of the story... She said, "but not cool stories like yours!"

This week we're reading The Hidden Alphabet (Ala Notable Children's Books. Younger Readers (Awards)) (Neal Porter Books). So before class I hid large cardboard letters around the room, and we searched for these hidden letters after we read our story.

I had one little girl though that couldn't fathom how I could have possibly hid those letters without her seeing. I guess the idea that I could have hid them before class isn't obvious to a pre-K child. So after our search she was just starring at the cardboard letter she found in disbelief, and she finally looked up at me and said, "are you magic?"

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Yes. No. Maybe.

Remember me?? I know, it's been forever. The truth is, I was planning on giving this blog up altogether. It didn't seem to be becoming the awesome parent communication tool I was hoping for, so it didn't seem worth the effort I was putting in to it.

BUT I've had a change of heart. So what if it's not what I had hoped it would be?! I've been missing the blogging world! And every time I get a comment on here, or an email from another blogger, I feel sad (and guilty) that I've been away so long. So... I'M BACK! Kind of.

I've been having the urge to get back to blogging. So we'll see how this goes. I don't plan on posting everyday (not that I really ever did post everyday). It will probably be more like once a week, or once every other week. I'm not going to focus as much on lesson summaries like I did in the past. But fear not! I will still be sharing info about class, just not with as much depth as I was previously.

My plan is to just play it by ear, see how it goes. The plan is also to play it by ear and see how I feel. There's another factor that has played into me deserting the blogging world recently; my husband and I are expecting our first baby! I had been feeling pretty yuck for quite a while, so when the choice was between blogging or sleeping, sleeping always won (actually, I usually didn't have much choice in the matter). But I've been feeling much better lately (knock on wood). No more narcolepsy!

So... I'll be seeing you all around the blogosphere!!