Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Love letters and a discount! Feeling the love!

Somewhere in the depths of every teachers' closet, attic or basement storage unit lies a box very much like this one. 

This, my friends, is my very own 'gratitude box.'  It's that 
box you have that is crammed full of sniggles of paper, crayon portraits, and teacher "love letters" written by 5 and 6 year old hands.  In an occupation where the fruits of your labor do not generally produce a finished product for many many years, where your hard work, long hours and personal sacrifice are often overlooked, these are the gifts that keep on giving.  

So, after years of teaching, my box literally overfloweth, and I have found myself in a conundrum of what to do with all my precious proclamations of love and thanks. 

I know what you're thinking.  "Marsha, it's time for an intervention.  You need to purge before you are overtaken by crayon portraits and 'world's greatest teacher' pendants."  I know, I know, but it's very difficult to part with these small treasures.  So, I decided to keep them all by digitally recording them and creating a photo book.  It's a slow process, but I'm determined to get there, digitally recording all my 'love notes' and photographing all my unusual and special gifts that don't necessarily 'fit' in my box so that I can keep them forever.

You know those gifts, they range from the yummy . . .

to the creative . . . 

to the personalized . . .

and even the unusual.


I'm dead serious!  This really happened and so did the half pound of smoked fish that's sitting in my refrigerator right now (don't ask)!  My parents somehow think I need to eat more or something.  I mean, who needs an apple for the teacher when you can have an acorn squash, right? 

Regardless of what shape or form the sign of appreciation comes in, teachers know that an acknowledgement of a job well done can go along way.  I recently asked my friends in education to share their own favorite 'gifts' of appreciation and got some great replies.  Other than a few reports of "chocolate," "homemade tamales," "a bottle of wine," and even "a puppy,"  the common message I heard from teachers all over was that those simply acts that acknowledged their hard work were the most treasured gifts they had received.  Here's what some of them said was their best gift ever:

I don't know about you, but I don't want to forget any of these random acts of thanks from my own students and their parents, because let's face it, sometimes remembering those small acts of appreciation can go along way towards fueling a teachers ambition for months.  

At a time when the hard work and effort put forth by educators are often being overlooked and understated, it's nice to know that we ARE appreciated.  

During American Education Week, Chevrolet is spreading the love for educators and school staff.  Have you heard about their Educator’s Discount program?   

 Chevy Educator's Discount

Who knew Chevrolet loved teachers and school staff so much?  I didn’t, but I’m sure glad I do now.  They are offering the same great discount they give their supplier employees to any public or private educator or school staff. 

Chevrolet totally ‘gets’ that teachers spend a ton of their own money on their classrooms,  countless hours preparing for their students, and work long and hard to ensure the future of our kids.  Now they want to show all educators just how much they appreciate their hard work.  

It's an amazing discount on its own, but even better when  you combine it with any promotions or incentives that your local dealers might be offering.  I know you probably have a ton of questions right?  Well, Chevrolet thought you might, so they created this great FAQ page just for you.  You'll find it when you check out the Educator Discount website.  Just click HERE to get there. 

For an educator, buying a vehicle can put a HUGE dent in a paycheck.  If you think about it, in some cases a new vehicle can actually cost more  than what a teacher will make in their first year of teaching.

Chevrolet’s Educator discount can make a huge difference.  Just take a look at the savings you could get on this Equinox, or click on the picture to find similar promotions on other great vehicles in your own area.

Personally, after my husband decided to do a dance with a slightly distracted deer and his own Silverado last week, I think perhaps this new Silverado would look great in our driveway. 

Whether you're in the market for a new vehicle or not, I have to say that I love that Chevrolet has really stepped up and publicly acknowledged the hard work that teachers and school staff do everyday by offering this discount.  It's such a huge sign of appreciation for the all effort we put forth everyday in the classroom and the best part . . . you don't have to wait 'til Teacher Appreciation Week to take advantage of it.  It's so easy to feel the love.  Just click  HERE to visit their special website for educators and find out more.

And now, I'd love to hear from you now.  Tell me! What's the best gift YOU'VE ever received?  Betcha never got a squash!

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” Chevrolet compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sunday, November 16, 2014

It's Stitch Fix Time and Time For A Giveaway

What's your guilty pleasure?  A small bowl of ice cream late at night, a fancy coffee in the morning, trashy magazines, massages or manicures?  Here's mine.  Once a month, a stylist picks out five items for me to try on.  In the privacy of my home, with the other items from my closet to coordinate, and all the time in the world, I try on items I would never choose for myself.  Stitch Fix is my guilty pleasure.  

For someone who absolutely HATES shopping, this $20 indulgence is a delightful way to find something great to add to your closet.  Sometimes, everything is perfect and you hit a home run.  Other times, you might only find one or two items that work.  But even if decide to return everything, you've had the pleasure and enjoyment of some private styling time.  And enclosed, prepaid envelope, returning whatever you don't want to keep is easy peasy.  

Stitch Fix is so simple.  You sign up for Stitch Fix,  complete your personal styling preferences, link your Pinterest style board to your profile, pay $20 and wait for your first fix.  When you get your fix, you try on all your items with the help of your stylist.  They send you a card with suggested pairings in case you're like me and are a little styling impaired.  Keep what you love, and send back what you don't.  Your  $20 styling fee will go towards your purchase, and, if you decide to keep everything, they will even give you a 25% discount off your entire order.  

So now that you know how it works, wanna see what I was sent this month?  

First up was this Everette Crochet Trim Woven Blouse.  I loved the rust color.  I don't do a lot of reds or oranges, but this is the perfect shade for me.  It's a light weight blouse that I will be able to wear long into the spring.

My stylist suggested I pair it with a skirt, but that won't happen until the snow leaves Michigan in the spring, so I tried it out with jeans and boots, and it paired really well.  This one was a keeper!

Next, they sent me a pair of black Frieda Ankle Length Skinny Jeans.  I'd love to show you what they looked like on but, unfortunately, they were obscenely tight and way to small for me.  Ugghh.  The last several pairs of pants Stitch Fix has sent me were a perfect fit, and I've kept them all.  But, unfortunately, these will go back which is a bummer, because I could have REALLY used a new pair of slacks for chasing kinder friends around.  (I don't know about you, but I don't do skirts in the winter!)

My stylist also sent me a Britt Ombre Chevron Wrap Scarf.  It was 'ok,' but it just didn't really 'do' anything for me.  A couple months ago, my stylist sent me the BEST knit scarf in fabulous fall colors.  It's a bit of a hard act to follow.  This scarf's color was a bit dull, and I couldn't really bring myself to 'love it.'  So this will also be going back, too.

A black Kalliope Open Front Swing Cardigan came next.  I absolutely loved this piece.  It's a nice light knit that is actually kind of slimming.  It's also so versatile.  Of course, it will be great paired with leggings and boots during the frigid winter months, but I can also see myself wearing it in the summer over a tank top on a cool evening.  Perfect for Michigan's crazy, never-know-what-it's-gonna-be-like-outside, weather.  I will definitely be keeping this one.

Finally, I found this Abel Textured Knit Sweater in the mix of pieces sent this month.  Now, just because I'm old enough to have had a sweater just like this in the 80s, doesn't mean I want to relive those fashion disaster days.  This one was just a little to reminiscent.  The knit was not real 'natural' feeling, the different textures were a mix between a sparkly laced synthetic knit and something that was long and fuzzy.  It definitely was going back.  

All in all, not a horrible fix.  I ended up keeping two items that I love, and I have HUGE hopes that my stylist will find me some slacks that will be great for the classroom and another fabulous knit scarf or cowl that would make me feel warm and comfy during the pending cold Michigan winter months.  If you'd like to find out more about Stitch Fix, just click on the picture below.  (It's my favorite Stitch Fix scarf!!! Love it.)  

And because I just know you'd love a chance to win your own fix, enter my giveaway below for your chance at a $20 gift certificate to cover the cost of your first stylist fee.  What do you have to lose?

Now that you've seen my fix, you have to head over to Maria's blog and see hers.  She also has a giveaway going on which means even more chances to win your very own fix!   Head on over to check it out?

Until then, I'm off to update my style profile and pin some new items for my stylist to find for my next fix!  

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Bountiful blessings of beans and more!

 Thanksgiving Sensory Table

My sensory table friends are always asking how I secure all the great ‘fillers’ for my table and bins, and I just knew I had to share with you’re my latest ‘bountiful blessing of beans.’  Not that beans are a big ticket item or anything, but let’s face it, when you have to purchase 10-20 bags for a sensory bin, it gets a bit pricey.  So anyway, last week I put out an all points bulletin to my parents in search of beans and pasta.  We are NOT an affluent school district by any means.  But I figured, beans and pasta are pretty cheap, and it would give my families who always want to ‘help out’ an inexpensive way to do it. 

Well now my bean cup over-flows with a variety of beautiful beans (and I actually just got another 4 bags today! Hurrah!).  Of course, I have immediately put these lovely legumes to work with a new still my kinders have been tackling---matching simple CVC words to their pictures.  Many, many, many of my kinders are still struggling with many letter sounds (mostly vowels), but they have been very successful at working together to make correct matches. 

It's a fun station that you can easily introduce in small group and then place it in your word work stations for as a 'choice.'  This happens to be in a bin with handles, so my kinders simply pick it up and take it to an unoccupied corner of the room to work with it.

Since I was snapping some pictures anyway, I thought I'd grab some of our new Thanksgiving Math Stations while I was at it.  (Of course if you have questions about any of these activities, just click on the picture and it will take you to the activity link.) This was day number one.  It makes it quite a bit easier to transition to new stations when my kinders are familiar with the basic activity and only the skill or difficulty changes.  You would think they would get sick of I-Spy activities or Write the Room, but they never do.  
 play-doh math mats for making 10
I love being able to still offer play-doh to my kids who need a bit more of a challenge at math, because they are in desperate need of fine motor work.  Just because they are ready for more difficult tasks, doesn't necessarily mean that they can stop working at building those muscles.  This station totally covers all my bases.  

 Spinners for Math
Spinners are always a bit hit, and I love that I can focus on number counting fluency, number recognition, number words or ten frame fluency simply by changing out the spinner mat from the CD case.
 I-Spy Missing Numbers
I-Spys are always a staple in my class.  I spend at the beginning of the year  teaching my kinders a good routine of circling the numbers (or words) on the mat as they find them so they are duplicating, but even the best students sometimes forget and have to go back through and try to figure which one they missed. 

 Write the Room For Math -Thanksgiving Tens Frames
Write the room for math is another way that everyone can really find success at their own level.  I'm mighty proud of this little guy.  He speaks very little English, but has come leaps and bounds and excels in math.  The familiarity of activities has really been helpful in allowing him to be successful.  He needs very little instruction by now and easily figures out his assignments.

And this is just the first day of math stations!!!!  Can't wait to see what the rest of the month brings.
So what's in your sensory table/bin(s) this month?  I can't wait to show you the plethora of pasta that's sitting on my counter right now!  I am truly blessed by giving parents.  But that's going to have to wait a day or two, I'm not sure I have enough alcohol to accommodate the quantity so a quick trip to the store will be in order tomorrow.

Until then . . . beans . . . beans . . . the flavorful fruit  . . . 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

A Peek At November Math Stations

My husband often asks me why am I constantly making new things for my classroom.  Can't I just use the same plans I used last year and the same materials?  You know, just change the dates! 

Well . . . yes . . . but . . . NO!
My kids aren't the same as the ones I had last year.  Their interests are different.  Their readiness levels are different.  (I didn't have 17 boys and 8 girls last year for instance, and now I do!)  So I can't just 'do the same thing.'  Sure, I am able use some of the same materials, but, of course, I'm always adding and tweaking my plans here and there to make it just right.  Today is no exception as I print and laminate two additional packets to include in my math station activities.

Actually, November math station plans are a perfect example of keeping some of the tried and true and adding some new pieces in response to my new class' interests.  

I thought I'd would share what I am working on getting ready today for the next three weeks of math stations in my class.   You will notice that I refer to the CCSS in each station and also show the different tiers and how I address their readiness levels.  So here's a quick peek:

If you'd like a copy of this plan, feel free to click on the picture, and it will send to you a pdf of the plan.  These are the exact plans that I will attach to my planbook document for math stations for the next three weeks. 

Station 1:  Thanksgiving Yatta  This activity is from Thankful for Math Stations Galore.  Yatta is fast past and all about fluency.  Students count items quickly and quietly, find the matching number, point to it, and say 'Yatta.'  If they are the first, they win the card.  Nothing has been better for counting and number fluency for me than this game, and my kinder friends this year LOVE it.

Station 2:  Spin-it, Say-it, Smashing Pumpkin Pie
Every set of stations, whether it's math or word work, needs to have a spinner game for this year's class. I love it because spinners are so easy to differentiate, and my kinders love it because it's FUN!

Station 3:  Thanks for Ten Frame Write the Room Fun Seventeen boys and eight girls!!! Enough said!  We have to be moving in this room and write the room activities are the way to make it happen and still have them working. It's an easy station to differentiate, and I never have to worry about them being bored.

Station 4:  Thanksgiving Ten Frame Sensory Table Match Up  Sensory tables are a must!  I will have three sensory bins/tables in my class this month and this is the one I'll be using for math stations. 

Station 5:  Thanks for Counting This activity is great for visual discrimination and counting.  It's also from Thankful for Math Stations Galore. 

Station 6:  What's for Dinner?  This station is also from Thankful for Math Stations Galore.  It is based slightly on the old card game 'war,' but students spin a spinner to see if the "greater" or "less than" number is the winner.

Station 7:  Gobbling Up Missing Numbers I-Spy  Face it, if there's a magnifying glass involved, your kids will be engaged and working.  My kinders this year can't get enough of I-Spy work.  They love being little detectives.

Station 8:  Thanksgiving Play-doh Ten Frame and Making Ten Mats  Again, this one is from Thankful for Math Stations Galore.  I think using play-doh and incorporating any kind of fine motor work is essential and so important, especially this year.  These little hands need lots of exercise!  It's differentiated so that some students will be working just on tens frames while others work on making ten.

Station 9:  Pilgrim Number Order  Fun  This last station is also from Thankful for Math Stations Galore.  Number order is tricky, and this is a fun way to practice it.  I limit the numbers based on readiness so that students don't get bored if it's too easy nor frustrated if it's too difficult.

If you'd like to learn more about these activities, just click on any of the pictures above and it will take you to the link.   

In the meantime, you'll find me printing and laminating.


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