Welcome! Join me as I share my experiences as a wife, mom, and kindergarten teacher, and my reflections on them all. Come along as I share my crazy journey!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I Chalk! Do You Chalk?

It is chalk time again!
Since I forgot to restock my chalk supply, I had to be a little creative in my chalking this month!

I pulled out the trusty iPad and started searching for a chalk board app.  Guess what?  I found one!  It's very simple but fun.  My kids and I have both enjoyed playing with it today.  I have school ideas swirling too!  I'm thinking this would be a fun way to practice sight words in the classroom!  A new word work tool!  I just wish I had more iPads for the classroom!  

Take a look at what came out of my "chalk" today!

 I didn't have a poem ready for chalking today and when I sat down to write, I wasn't very inspired.  Instead, I started drawing and playing around.  Here is my first product...a play on Betsy's Chalk-A-Bration button!  That white thing down at the bottom?  My attempt at a mustache, of course!

Of course, my brain kept leaning toward school.  It keeps doing that now that July is almost at a close.  Sad but true. Here is my next drawing...I think I will call it a "picture-list" poem.  It's a  little of each, I think.

 During the summer, for me, thoughts of returning to school always turn into thoughts of wanting more vacation time.  So...this is where I want to be...

Last, but not least, my almost one-year-old decided that the iPad looked like fun.  Here is her very first chalk drawing.  Okay, fine, I might have helped her change chalk colors, but the art work is all hers!

It may not be a traditional sidewalk chalk set of drawings, but it was fun anyway.  To check out more chalk work, head to Betsy's blog Teaching Young Writers.

Also check the Two Writings Teachers blog for more Slice of Life stories!


Monday, July 30, 2012

Time to Read Monday

I love to read!

I have been reading a varied selection over the last two weeks.  I've been reading a couple of Mo Willems' Elephant and Piggy books with my daughter.  They aren't new, but they are new to us and we really enjoyed them!  We read Happy Pig Day, I Broke My Trunk and Should I Share My Ice Cream?, which quickly became a new favorite.  I just love Mo!

We have also been reading the Knuffle Bunny books, also by Mo Willems.  We read the first two, Knuffle Bunny and Knuffle Bunny Too.  Each of my daughters picked out one of these books (I see I'm not the only one who loves Mo at my house!) and they have spent the last week pouring over them...even trading them back and forth!  They rarely do this with each other, probably because of the 2.5 year age difference, or maybe because the almost second-grader doesn't want to read the 4-year-old's books!  Anyway, I have enjoyed it, whatever the reason!

I have also enjoyed a few YA books too!  I read Hound Dog True by Linda Urban, which I enjoyed.  It is interesting to me to read a YA book that displays the thinking of a YA so clearly, now that I have a child in that age group!  I often find myself wondering if he thinks like the main character.  I loved how the main character, Mattie, was so easy to relate to in this book as she tried to fit into a new place with new people.  Even though it's a girl in the story, I think boys could relate to her feelings and the dynamics of the relationship between Mattie and Quincy, her maybe-friend.  It was a good read and I hope my son will read it too, as he approaches a move to the middle school this year as a big fourth-grader!

Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer Holm was another good YA read.  I actually read this one before Hound Dog True and found myself comparing the main characters.  The main character, Turtle, was also in a new place, with new people and trying to find her place there.  I enjoyed the setting of this story the most - Key West during the 1930's.  I think the culture of Key West is interesting anyway, but by changing the time to the 1935 gave it yet another layer of interest.

I also enjoyed reading a "grown-up" book too!  I may be a little late to get to this one, but I truly enjoyed reading The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.  It was a little confusing at first to keep up with the time traveling aspect...actually, even later when I was used to it I often found myself trying to put it all together...but it was such a sweet love story that I was hooked immediately.  I was hooked by the book enough that I decided to follow it up with the movie!  Usually, I don't do that because I always like the book more than the movie, and this case is no different, but I did enjoy the movie version as well.  I'd recommend both!

I am currently still plugging away at Debbie Diller's Math Work Stations.  I love all the ideas in it! I am reading it with my page flags in hand because I find myself flagging something on every few pages.  I had to limit myself to flagging only those ideas I thought I would use in the first half of the year for now...I think maybe I'll have to switch flag colors for the second half of the year ideas...if I don't run out first!

I am also reading Sara Pennypacker's Clementine's Letter.  I read Clementine at the beginning of the summer and really enjoyed it.  I have been waiting for the other books to be back on the bookshelves in the library since then and finally, on my last trip, this one was waiting for me!  It is just as sweet and funny as the first.  I can't help but laugh out loud at some parts!  Clementine reminds me of my own children at times, as well as former students of mine.  I often find myself wondering if Clementines thoughts are similar to my children's thoughts...sometimes I think so!  She is such a loveable character.  I look forward to reading the other books in this series.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Summer Bathtub

 How I have been feeling lately...

The Summer Bathtub

I'm in the giant tub
the summer bathtub
soaking in the summertime
loving the nice warm water
at times it's too hot
but I still enjoy it
because I know it won't last very long
at times it's cool
and again I enjoy it
because I know it won't last very long
the summer bathtub is a magical place
a place to relax
and do nothing
or do anything
or do everything
but only if I want to
I glory in the summer bathtub
I marinade in it
I know that way too soon it will be over
I know the plug is there somewhere
covered at first by the bubbles of late spring
when kids are beginning to venture outside with their wands
beginning to pull out the sidewalk chalk
beginning to test their coltish running legs again
as the fireworks burst over my head
I begin to see the bubbles disappate
slowly at first
in the background I know they exist
but I ignore
pop, pop
they get louder and louder in their disappearing act
pop, poP, pOP, POP!
until one day I realize I can see it
the plug looms large
then bigger still
and I'm being sucked toward it with the sweet summer water
I swirl in the last days of summer
I try to grab a hold of something
of anything
in the slippery summer bathtub
but no amount of trying
will stop the eminent draining
there is excitement in the whoosh of water
a few more playful splashes
before its gone for good
and then all that's left is the gurgle
the last little trickle of water
down the pipe
and then it's time to leave the tub
oh, we will enjoy the sprinkles of fall waters
and the icy delights of winter
and the bloom of spring showers
but all the time knowing
then returning
to the summer tub

To read more Slice of Life stories, head to Two Writing Teachers - a blog by Ruth Ayres and Stacey Shubitz.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Let It Be

Slice of Life Tuesdays are hosted by Ruth and Stacey at their Two Writing Teachers blog.  Check out more Slice of Life stories on their blog!

Last week, on the hottest day of the year, maybe the hottest day known to man, my husband and I packed up the family and headed to the zoo!  Had we not already made hotel reservations and had my husband not already taken a vacation day, we probably would not have embarked on this trip on the 102 degree day.  Maybe that isn't crazy hot to every one, but where we live, we just don't get too many of those days!  All you had to do was stand completely still outside in the shade to work up a sweat.  But, it was still a fun trip and we still saw most of the zoo animals...except for the ones that thought they would stay inside where it was cool.  We really enjoyed the penguinarium and the arctic circle buildings...where it was air conditioned!  After the zoo, we found our hotel and made a beeline for the pool.  Well, as quickly as you can after changing four kids and two adults into "baby suits" (as my four year old calls them-love her!).  After the pool, there was some hotel room down time.  This is where my ponderings began to take root.  Not that I've never felt this way before or thought about these things before, but this was when I realized just how at odds I can be with myself.  Oh, and a little wisdom from the Beatles never hurt, right?

Let It Be

I'm caught in this crazy web of Teacher Me and Mother Me.
How do I know when to be which?
I am so much of both at once.

We take a family trip to the zoo.
We take in the sights: butterflies, penguins, tigers, polar bears, seals, zebras.
We feed the giraffes with great delight!

Teacher Me asks the kids: what animal was your favorite?
Mom Me says: what was the best part of the zoo today?

So much the same, yet so different, these parts of me.
Teacher Me whispers in my ear: The zoo!  The zoo! Write about the zoo! 
It's real, authentic, not forced by me!
Mom Me speaks in the other ear: their teachers said to write over the summer.
Here is the perfect topic for both! Have them write a story about the zoo!
Maybe a list off animals? Write the best part? Write about the heat?

Alright, maybe it's a tad forced.  It's summer.  They don't want to do school stuff;
Not anymore than Teacher Me wants to.


A third voice?

"Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom.
Let it be."

Where did that come from?  Lovely...another Me?

Writer Me speaks her mind: Let it be.  Let them be. 
Let them fill their tanks this summer. 
They are reading.  [Reader Me rejoices!]  They are experiencing. 
They will write soon enough.

But how do I feel about it?
How do I bring these Me voices together?
A mixing, blending, meshing of Me parts and pieces?
A co-existing, cohesive me?
Is it possible for them to live happily in a place side by side?
And...is it a place of writing or not?

"Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be.
There will be an answer. 
Let it be." 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Monday - Reading Time!

This has been a great reading week! I was about a third of the way into Same Sun Here by Silas House & Neela Vaswani last week.  I have finished it but I'm not totally sure of my feelings about it.  It was a good book. I enjoyed reading it.  It was interesting in the way the two main characters wrote letters back and forth to each other as pen pals.  It was written in a clear, character driven voice that was enjoyable.  As the reader, it was easy to hear the voice of the characters in your ear as you read.  It was slightly disappointing to me in that I didn't really feel like it built to anything in the story.  There were building events and I felt like the plot rose to something, but then it left me hanging without concluding as I hoped it would.  It was a good read that I would still say is worth reading, it just didn't end in a satisfying way. But, that is just my opinion!

I also read Grandpa Green this week.  This was a sweet story about a young boy and his Great-Grandpa.  It told the story of his Great-Grandpa's life and gave a child's view of his Grandpa Green's aging process.  It was a lovely story and one with unique illustrations that I could see sharing with my kindergarten students.  The illustrations are different from most books and I think the book would evoke some interesting conversations with my students.

I also began to read Math Work Stations by Debbie Diller.  I had gift cards from Barnes and Noble burning a hole in my pocket and after seeing Debbie Diller speak about small groups at the All Write conference, and hearing about her session on math work stations, I had a renewed interest in reading this book.  I just got it in the mail last night and I have just begun to dig in.  Already, I am liking what I am reading.  I was lucky to participate in Math Recovery training early in the summer and I have dates planned to meet with my teaching team in just a couple of weeks to begin reworking and developing a math curriculum.  So, I guess I just have math on my mind lately!  When the package arrived at my doorstep last night, even though I had planned to set the book aside until I was done with my other professional reading on reading and writing, I just couldn't wait.  Those books have been set aside and this one is open next to my favorite chair waiting for me to come back to it.

What's next?  Hmm...I'd like to say I will return to the professional reading I have been attempting on reading and writing...but I'm not sure I'm in that mind set just yet.  I have Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer Holm next in my YA stack and I'm also currently reading The Time Traveler's Wife.  I guess I'll just see what comes up next!  Sooner or later, as soon as I can get my hands on them at my local library, I intend to read the Hunger Games series.  So many books...never enough time!  Happy reading!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Library Day

It's Tuesday again! While I look forward to Slice of Life Tuesday each week, I'm finding it harder to choose a topic for my slice during the summer. 

It's ironic...I assumed that when I had more time on my hands, I could leisurely write my slices and without the pressure of any sort of time crunch.  I was wrong.  It's not as leisurely as I was imagining.  I'm still forced to shove my slicing time into my schedule - around the schedules of my four kids...not too different from during the school year!  Now, however, I find myself struggling more to pinpoint my topic.  Today's topic didn't hit me until I began to type.  I had hoped it would magically appear...viola!

"Mom, look at this one!" Emma said as she held up her Froot Loop.  "It's HUGE!"

"Whoa, it must be your lucky day!" I told her.

"Can we paint our nails after breakfast?" she asked.

"Sure...did you want purple this time?" I smiled, already knowing the answer.  I had painted my toenails purple yesterday and both girls had been begging for purple nails ever since.

"Yes! It really is my lucky day Mom!" she squealed!

"Well then, let's make it even better.  How about after we paint nails, we take a trip to the library?"

"YES!" shouted three little voices.

"Mom, I'm still reading Percy Jackson #2.  Can I keep that one to finish and get the next one too?"
"Can I keep the Dork Diaries book that I'm reading? Can we look for #2?"
"I want a new Max & Ruby book please!"

I was bombarded! All I could do was smile. I love that my children enjoy going to the library, like to read and love to pick out new books!  They had also finished their reading logs for the summer reading program that the library offers, so they were happy to be able to turn them in and find out what little trinket they would be rewarded with.  I love that my kids want to read even without the promise of a reward...but they enjoy guessing what it might be each week!  So we always fill out the slips and return them to find out.

As we stood in the library, it was like a whirlwind around me.  Maybe it's because it's so hot outside or maybe it's that people are stocking up on books before the holiday, but the library was crowded today.  The kids had turned in their reading logs and, in exchange, received a certificate for a frozen lemonade at a local fast food restaurant (good day for it!).  Now, it was time for books!  Of course, when the kids range from ages 4-9, they don't want to read the same books. Therefore, there were three children pulling me in different directions for help, not to mention the list of my own books nagging at me from my pocket and the little sweetie in the stroller who just loves all the colors and sights to see at the library.   

And so it began...

"Emma, you know where the Max & Ruby books are, right?  Take Maddie over there and show her where they are in the W's.  Then come back and we will look for Dork Diaries."

"Matthew, the Percy Jackson books are over here in the R's."

Whew! We were able to find some of what we needed.  Matthew found a new series to try out (The Stink books) and decided to try reading Clementine (I hope he enjoys it as much as I did!), Emma was disappointed that the Dork Diaries book she wanted was checked out but she found a new American Girl book and a few others to keep her interested, and Maddie was tickled with her Max & Ruby books and The Cat and the Hat Comes Back...even though we have it on the bookshelf at home. 

Oh, and I was able to find some for myself as well!  I walked out with Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer Holm and The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.  I'm a little late getting to that one, but excited to read it anyway.  I also found the children's book Grandpa Green by Lane Smith because I'd heard about recently.  And, all the while, Avery enjoyed quietly nibbling her fingers and toes as she strolled through the library.

It's a good day when we can go to the library.  There is just something about the choices spread before us, the seemingly limitless words to dive into, and the thought of curling up with some good books once we get home that appeals to us all.

Speaking of curling up...I better get back to my book!

Monday, July 2, 2012

See You At Harry's

I'm very excited to share what I read this week!

I finally got my hands on See You At Harry's by Jo Knowles!  I had intended to read a couple of professional books but when I got the call from the library telling me that this book had arrived...my other reading plans were pushed to the side.

I had to order the book from another library because my local library didn't have this title yet.  It was worth the wait though - it was sort of like waiting for the teacher to get the red and white scholastic bookorder box as a child!

I started reading the book on Thursday and had a hard time putting it down.  As the mother of 4 little ones, I find that my reading time is mostly limited to naptime and occasionally after the kiddos are in bed at night (although usually by that time I'm too tired to do much besides veg in front of the tv).  However, this was a book that I had a hard time closing.  I read it every chance I found...even if it was just a page here and there.

I really connected with this story as a mom, as an aunt, as a person who has lost.  The themes, the characters, the interactions between the characters...it was a great book.  I have to say though, it is a book to read with a box of Kleenex close by, but it's worth it.

I also started reading Same Sun Here by Silas House and Neela Vaswani.  I'm only a bit into the book but so far it is good.  It captured my attention right away because of the letter writing format.  It is also interesting to me to hear the different voices of the characters coming through. 

I could really see using this book to teach writing with voice to students...although it may be too high to use with my own kindergarten students.  I'm still reading it with a teacher's eye - always on the look out for a piece, a mentor sentence or two, that might be good to share with my students.

I look forward to reading further into this book this week. 

I am also still trying to get to the professional reading.  I have some greats waiting in the wings: Growing a Reader by Kathy Collins and The Writing Workshop by Katie Wood Ray.

Happy reading!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Chalk-a-bration 3

Welcome to Chalk-a-bration 3!  This is a fun idea hosted by Betsy at Teaching Young Writers.  Check it out and join her again on August 31 for the next Chalk-a-bration!

This is a compilation of chalk from two of my daughters and I.  Unfortunately I was not able to figure out a way to get the pictures from my iPad to this blog.  So...I ended up taking pictures with my camera of the pictures on the iPad and then loading them on the computer.  (This is why they look weird!)

It was fun anyway!

I have one daughter learning to write her name in cursive and one daughter learning to write her name!  It was fun making pictures together.  Looking forward to next month's Chalk-a-bration...but not rushing it!  Happy July!