The First Day of Christmas: STEM toys

I have searched for some of the best products in a variety of areas. For twelve days I will be bringing you suggestions to help you check off your gift buying list! I hope you enjoy the series. You can go directly to the item's amazon page by clicking the picture. Today I'm thinking about STEM toys under the tree.

  • This item has almost 2,000 customer reviews with an average rating of 5 stars. The price is $42.99 and children can build over 300 projects with the kit. If this one is too big, try the smaller version for just 17.99:

The Sphero 2.0 is an app enabled robotic ball. Apps are available on both iOS and Android. Price: Currently 174.35 + free shipping.

Also by Sphero, one of this year's hot items - the app enabled droid. Who doesn't want Star Wars this year? Currently 149.95.

Currently priced at 18.88 and containing nine different experiences. This one is in my amazon cart right now!

Merry Christmas!


Gingerbread Stories

Do you love Gingerbread stories as much as I do? I have traditionally used these stories in January rather than during the Christmas season, and over the years I have collected several versions of the story, both traditional and alternative. These are some of the ones I use. Click on the covers to see them in Amazon.



Don't ask me to pick a favorite! I love them all, and so do students. I find that my third graders love these stories just as much as my kindergartners did years ago. These are all great for December and January. I also have a math problem freebie for you!

Click on the picture to download a copy for your classroom. Enjoy!


Cyber Sale!

My entire store is on sale for the TPT Cyber Sale on Monday and Tuesday. Included are these seasonal items and over 20 other items:

Shop 'Til You Drop December / January Sub Activities


Monday Made It November 2015

With the holiday season beginning I have been looking at some seasonal ideas for math stations and put together a dozen multiplication task cards for Halloween. These are available for free by clicking the picture.

I realized I forgot to share my Sub Plan binder. These are the emergency plans - you know, instead of driving to school in pajamas to prepare! I put together five days of sub plans since each day has a slightly different schedule. Since I use, I skipped ahead to a blank week, wrote out the week's plans, printed each day, and put them in plastic sheet protectors. Then I copied materials to use each day and put them in pocket dividers or in hanging files in my crate. I hope I don't have to use them, but it's good to know they are there. If I know I'm going to be out I don't use these; they are solely for emergencies. I let my partner know where they are kept and we are good to go!


Last, these are the Halloween treats I sent home with my kiddos on October 30th. Just a bit of orange tissue paper and green electrical tape to make little pumpkins with candy inside. They loved them!


Fiction Friday November 6

My first book was on my to-read list for quite awhile and I finally got around to downloading the e-book.

I liked the main character, Donovan, who accidentally ends up in a gifted classroom. He provided a lot of the humor in this story and I appreciated how he learned and grew as a person. However, I found the "gifted" kids to mostly be unrealistic. They seemed like stereotypes rather than being like students I know. I still enjoyed the book and think that many students will enjoy it also.

This picture book was on display when I stopped at the library to pick up some books that were on hold for me. The cover caught my eye, and it had been a while since I read a new picture book, so I checked it out. It turned out to be a tall tale filled with extremely exaggerated adventures and a great heroine. I loved the language and the illustrations; this book would make a great read-aloud though it is packed with text and will take a while! 

Happy Reading!


Time Management

Are you still feeling overwhelmed by the challenges of this school year? Do you devote hours at home to school work?

Yeah, I've been there too! This fall I decided enough is enough. I've made some changes to reclaim my life. I thought I'd share a few things that have helped me; of course what works for me may be unthinkable for you:)

 Work my contract hours plus just a little bit more. By that I mean I decided I was willing to extend my 7.5 hour day to an 8 hour day. I arrive at school about 1/2 hour before I have to be there. This means I do not sit on any committees this year, since they regularly meet outside of school hours. I also do not schedule conferences with parents except during my planning time or at 8:00 AM (my contracted time begins at 8:15). I am willing to meet personally during planning time as long as it is scheduled ahead of time as well as hold a phone conference during that time. This has meant not being at school for our annual Title I night in September since it is not during work time. It will possibly keep me away from other evening things during this school year. Since I live 40 minutes from campus this enables me to come to school the next day without being exhausted!

Choose wisely how I spend my planning period. Taking out the time to drop off and pick up students from special area classes means I have about 40 minutes each day. By contract teachers do not have to attend any meetings during that time. I am choosing to attend them sparingly! That includes things like PLC meetings (which we have for an hour each week during contracted time; I have told the leader that I will only come to PLC meetings during that hour). I am working to always have a plan for my planning time so that I stay focused and productive. I want to stop doing lesson plans on my weekends!

 Check my school email during my work day: before school, during planning, or during lunch. Once my work day is done I resist the urge to check it at home. I get a huge amount of email some days, so I am working on "unsubscribing" from junk mail that comes in (I'm also doing this on my personal account. That stuff piles up and sucks time away!) That was one of the hardest things - I used to always check in at home.

I joined the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club that began in October. This is the brainchild of Angela Watson at The Cornerstone. I am absolutely loving it, and it is changing my life. Each month focuses on a new topic, and every Saturday I get a new piece of the plan with great resources and encouragement for putting it into practice. To learn more about it, click here. If you are interested, the next enrollment period begins in January. A huge part of October has been learning to develop a good checklist of things to do each day. I am finding that it helps me focus on what is important and I am usually completing my list each day. In fact, when we had our teacher workday at the end of the first quarter I went to work with my to do list and had everything done in 6.5 hours. Then I left for my one hour lunch and went home -- an hour earlier than usual. This is probably the first time that I have not put in 8 - 10 hours on a workday.

I'm applying some of the same time management things at home too. This is helping me feel like important tasks in my personal life are getting attention. And, I try not to beat myself up about the things that don't get done as quickly as I thought they would. I give myself permission to move an item to another day of the week if I need to. I am totally a work in progress, but it gives me hope!

How do you deal with the never-ending pile of work?


November Currently

Happy November!

I'm trying to learn as much as possible about self-publishing Kindle books.

We really have not had much for cool temps yet! 

At 6:30 PM I am feeling like I should go to bed 'cause it's dark :)

My goal for the next week is to write every day.

I was doing so well health-wise and fell back into lots of bad habits. Time to get back to eating well.

A friend of mine makes these great oreo truffles - a package of oreos in food processor, add 8 oz softened cream cheese, chill for a few hours, form balls and dip in chocolate. I adapted by using the pumpkin spice oreos ( 1 1/2 pkg since they are smaller).

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