Saturday, November 22, 2014

I Love You and Some Other Stuff Too!

I love you. What power these words hold. Last spring was the first time I remember looking at a student, making eye contact and saying, "I love you, Tucker." What a floodgate of love was opened with those words. That child wasn't real easy to love, but I did because I knew I couldn't give him anything else of value until I could give him love. It works both ways. Several weeks ago I walked into the after school latch key program to return a student's lunchbox. A future first grader smiled at me and said, "I love you, Mrs. Reck." I teared up. My heart swelled. I have made a connection with a child I don't even have in my classroom yet!  As a teacher, I know that I will sound like a grown-up from Charlie Brown's world if I don't have love to back up what I'm teaching. I can't help but think about 1 Corinthians 13:1

Speaking of daughter is marrying her best friend. You couldn't ask for more than that for your children. We got their save the date card in the mail this week and I am giddy with excitement! Can you identify all these famous couples?

As long as I'm stuck on the subject of love...I found a new friend on Instagram. She made my students think that I was a creative genius! Art with Jenny has some truly amazing and fun art projects to make any special occasion pop! I reluctantly took down our Veteran's Day mural, but will soon replace it with one of Jenny's other creations. Go give her some love, but check this out first..

Click HERE to visit her TPT store. 

My students are falling in love with reading. I love watching first graders grow into readers so quickly. I gave my class a challenge to read 50 books outside of school in two weeks. Each time they read a book they got to place a turkey feather on the turkey decorating our classroom door....they did it!

Because we met the challenge, I get to...well, see if you can decode Tuesday's morning message...

Well, that's embarrassing! What the heck is a pacake? Looks like I have some fixing to do. Please don't tell anyone that I occasionally make mistakes. Just when I thought I was really on top of things!

 I leave you with one last picture. As I was sitting here tapping away look who stopped by! There is a whole flock in my backyard, but this hen came right up to the window. Maybe she is looking for kitty! Maybe the idea of a warm oven sounds inviting on this dreary day? Poor Chessie slept through all the excitement!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

ChatterPix! App Review

I made a concentrated effort this week to grab lots of pictures of my Owlets! Yet, I still ended up with a lot more pictures of my kitty! My daughter and I celebrated our little girl's adoption day. Before she came to live with us she was kept in a cage for two months. Now she is free range. She is frequently spotted on the dinning room table by my Cranky Bear to which I always respond, "I'm sure she's not on the table. I trained her to stay off!" She just thinks she's a decoration!

My favorite app this week is ChatterPix. My kiddos love this app, too! I have all kinds of plans for this including having students making book characters introduce themselves to the class. I've had way too much fun with this late into the night. If you get this FREE app be warned: you will get silly!
Want to take a peek? I narrowed down three videos to share with you. 
This video was made by a child with Selective Mutism! What a great resource for her!

This collection of 50 pennies was part of our Fifty's Day celebration!

Field-trip to my house to rake leaves and make caramel apples! We had a blast!
I know you are wishing I had added more pictures of my kitty. Follow me on Instagram and you'll see a ton more!! I'm OwlThingsFirst on Instagram too!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

My Best Friend is a Hippo Named Boo-Boo Butt!

Book Review

Today the book is hidden at my house. I have never been asked to re-read a book as much as I have been asked to re-read this one. I think the author is a genius for making a book so engaging for young readers without using one picture! Have you read it? It is completely ridiculous and I love it! I'm just tired of telling kids that my best friend is a hippo named "Boo-Boo Butt!"

We have a Reading-Buddy event every month. Older students are paired up with younger to read to and with them. I passed this book from former student to former student who had embarrassed me in the past I knew would get a kick out of it. Soon our school was rocking with laughter.

 It is hidden at my house, but only so I can share it with my 16 year old and her exchange student friend from South Korea. She is finding out what an American sleep-over is like! I think a bedtime story is in order. How about you?

Click HERE to see B.J. Novak talk about his book on the Today Show. Matt and B.J. even talk about how it is harder to write a book for children than it is for adults. This is a great inter

Monday, October 27, 2014

Made it Monday: Freebie!

I don't know about you, but I think making it through Monday is a fete in and of itself. Mondays in a classroom full of young people with nothing else on their minds but Halloween is crazy. If you can't beat them...and you do KNOW I mean that completely figuratively...join them!

We took a walk today to a local favorite bakery. We looked for signs of Halloween on our way. However, the sole purpose of our trip was to celebrate my birthday! No one knows how to celebrate birthdays like first and second graders! We had a great time and once we had counted thirty one pumpkins and four spiders we quit counting and played "I Spy Adjectives" for a while! Do you know how long it takes to herd a class of 1st and 2nd graders four city blocks? I didn't time it, but we almost didn't make it back in time for the dismissal bell! I was a little worried we'd be spending the night on my pull out couch together!
It was a beautiful day in West Michigan. We won't have too many more days warm enough for walks like this. The best part of our walk is crunching through the leaves of our woods.
So I really did make something to show you. I am so thankful for so many of you! Today I'm especially thankful for Barbara at Grade Onederful. She shared some cupcake liner owls on her Facebook page that I had to make. I'll make them with my class on Friday, but I couldn't wait that long! 
I was able to find many different varieties of liners at Joann's on Saturday all clearance priced.
I just used cardstock for the beak and talons. Fold and glue the wings to the middle. Fold down and glue the top. Add some wiggle eyes and glue on the beak and talons. I'm going to use my owls for some homemade Halloween cards.

Need an emergent reader and game to help you through the week? Click HERE for a fun FREEBIE! I'd love some feedback if you have the time. 
My donut of choice? Top left...Maple bacon! Donut worry, be happy!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Five for FRIDAY!

How did Friday get here so quickly? What a speedy fast week it was! This week really felt if my class found their groove and could really feel and see all they have accomplished. I'm excited to link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching to share five random things from my week.

When I saw this shirt at Meijers, I knew I had to have it! The bad news is, there are only six legs on the spiders!?! I didn't notice that until I got home. Oh well...

Number Two:
This is a picture from the night after the eclipse. Did you see the eclipse? I drove out of my way so I could catch a glimpse on my way to school. Doesn't this moon look spooky? I take so many pictures of the moon and they all end up looking the same...
Number Three:
Look at these three faces. I managed to get this picture on our Field Trip. I can't imagine doing anything better than teaching.

Number Four:
Here is Farmer Nancy. She is amazing. She does an amazing job teaching young people about nutrition. This is my all time favorite trip mostly because of Farmer Nancy! One of my owlets said, "I want to stay here forever!" 

Number Five:
Just about every day we get a letter or two in the mail. I'm hoping all twenty five letters will soon join! Why did I pick only six students to pose for this picture? 'Cause I only have six! Crazy, isn't it?
I love the Chicka-Chicka Boom-Boom alphabet exchange!  Thanks, Chrissy at First Grade Found Me!

I'm off for a long four day weekend! 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Five for Friday

It is a dark and stormy night. It is the kind of night to curl up and read a good book and listen to the wind whip through the tree branches and shower down bushel baskets of acorns. It is a night perfect for sharing five things from the past week. I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for (drumroll, please)
This week we celebrated our youngest classmate's birthday. No more five year olds in my first grade class. They are all more than a handful now!
These Owlets like a little chocolate cake with their green frosting! Do your girls pretend the frosting on their cupcake is LIPSTICK!? What a mess! 

This little girl captured my feelings completely, as we finished globbing glue and glitter on green Gs. I mailed 25 of these to schools across the US and Canada for the Chicka-Chicka Boom-Boom alphabet exchange hosted by Chrissy at First Grade Found Me! This is my third year participating and this year my kiddos are more excited than any other class about it. We have gotten three letters and I'm expecting a full mailbox in the coming week! If you get something from the US Postal service covered in gold glitter, don't look at me. I know nothing!

#3 Applesauce is best served warm. We made a batch in a crockpot this week. I leave the peels on. I give my students each a plate, a table knife, and an apple. We halve and then quarter the apples. We add about 1/4 cup water and let it cook four or five hours before mashing it with a potato masher. We don't add sugar, but we do sprinkle on some cinnamon before we stir it up and eat it! 
I didn't have one kid turn down seconds or thirds. This pot was empty when the bell rang!

#4 we played a lot with "tricky teens" this week. Did you know that 15 is the number most often missed by young counters? True fact. To help my friends, I made this spinner game that required them to say the number correctly before they marked it on their game board/graph. They took this game home to play over the weekend, too! 
It looks like Pete the Cat is visiting today. He stepped in some strawberries and got his white shoes all red! If you would like a copy of this game click HERE! It comes with a funny book, too!

#5 My husband and I recently celebrated our 25th year anniversary. 25 years ago he stopped driving the car he had worked on with his dad when he was fifteen. My youngest daughter will turn 16 pretty soon and thinks she's getting the keys to his car since she's been working on it with him! They took it for their first spin last night. It was pretty cool to share their excitement!
I'm hoping they'll take me along next time. Would you like us to pick you up?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Waiting for Currently!! Apple Freebie!

All day long I've been planning on linking up with Farley for Currently October...where is that post!? Does she know how many of us depend on her to give us a jump start to get our blog writing engines going? I've been thinking all day about how excited I am to sit on my couch without feeling like I should be doing something else besides just sitting on the couch. Here I sit waiting for Farley's inspiration.

Are you waiting too? While you're waiting take a look at what we did today...
Can you identify the three apples we compared? As many times as I've studied apples, I still believe it is one of my favorite units of study. My readers are busy reading about apples

We're writing poetry about apples...

Apples here and apples there,
Apples apples everywhere
They hang on trees and sit in stores
We like to eat them to their very cores
We eat them sour and we eat them sweet
We think most apples are a yummy treat!

We dissected apples, compared apples, and contrasted apples. We tasted apples and graphed their seeds. 

I've looked at apples from both sides now. I have to admit that my favorite thing to do with apples is eat them!
Obviously, this kid has had too many apples!

I did say freebie in the title, but I expected you read every word in this post to find the word FREEBIE again! Here it is...I may have shared it before....but it IS newly improved!
Click on the picture below to go to TPT to snag your fee copy!! No TPT account? Leave a comment with your e-mail and I'll send it to you!

Come on FARLEY!!! We are waiting for you!!

Monday, August 25, 2014


There is no tired like first day teacher tired. You have planned. You have dreamed, or nightmared. You have done this a million times or maybe only ten times or maybe this is your first year. In a few short hours it is over. What was so scary about a classroom full of children who are like sponges; ready to soak up information, love and words.  Good night, dear readers! Tonight my dreams are filled with bright eyes, sticky hugs and hope that tomorrow goes as well as today.
I would like to thank the person who came up with the idea of putting
playdough on students desks before they arrive. 
Anchor chart on how to use the bathroom. What is that thing on the top of the toilet? I don't know go ask your dad!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Daisy and Louise - A Final Farewell

Friday morning as I sipped coffee and looked through e-mails my beloved chickens were killed. A dog I had never seen before tore open their hutch and chased and killed my chickens. I was able to meet the dog and make peace with him. He was a sweet dog who was doing what animals do. It was a tragic accident. I feel no anger towards the dog or his owner. I am just deeply saddened to lose my girls. Many of you watched my girls hatch and grow and saw the bond that developed between us. I never thought that I could grow to love a chicken. I am happy to say that I grew to love two!

Daisy and Louise beloved chickens passed away Friday August 15, 2014.

They were hatched together with 8 other hatchlings in a first and second grade classroom in Michigan. There they were lovingly nurtured by many sweet children. At the right time they were brought to their home by Jennifer Reck. There they met and were adopted by Tim, Billy, Ella and Chessie the cat.

Daisy and Louise were inseparable. They enjoyed doing everything together. They were both expert gardeners. They could hunt for and rid a garden of numerous pests including mites, grubs, hornworms and slugs. They enjoyed following Jennifer around the yard and sitting on her lap for daily cuddles. Chasing and pecking at the cat was a daily joy as well. They were faithful egg layers and provided over a dozen eggs for their family before their tragic death.

Daisy and Louise are survived by eight other hatch mates scattered around the area.

A memorial service will be held for the girls later this week. Though their family will find scrambling and eating their final eggs difficult they also hate to see the girls hard work be for naught.

In lieu of flowers Jennifer asks that you donate a book with chickens as a character to a local classroom.

From their first day at home, Daisy and Louise loved romping through the yard.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Five for Friday: GIVEAWAY!


I'm performing a little bit of an experiment. My experiment involves how the post title determines the number of people that visit. Now don't worry I really am having a GIVEAWAY. It started two days ago. The title of that post was so long and boring I refuse to repeat it. Last time I checked about four people had entered the giveaway that involves $20.00 to spend at Amazon. Now, if you are just here for the giveaway click HERE.
WARNING:  You'll have to scroll all the way to the bottom of that loooong post!
And now for the rest of you who want to see my five for Friday...
I'm sewing up a storm herd! These will be all ready for the first day of school. The
flannel ones are my favorite. The white eyed one is pretty wonky isn't it? Find out more about these
guys HERE! WARNING: They are so easy to make, you'll keep going and going until there is no room
for anything else in your house!

Let's see....I'm counting the giveaway as one and the elephants as two, even though there are five in the picture and I'm not admitting how many are on my couch! That brings us to THREE...

While cleaning my room this week I found Scrabble tiles and little bitty
adhesive magnets...Thank you to the teacher who was last in my room. I have
put these guys together and voila!

This is my favorite picture of my favorite kitty in the whole wide world.
Isn't she sweet? My daughter put an American Girl Doll hat on her and
fixed up a little pillow on her bed. You wouldn't believe what this cat
puts up with! AND she hunts and eats hero!
Whoopsie I forgot to announce four. That's it right above these words. And finally number five needs no introduction. Dubbed Jenny Chicken by my friends and family, this dish is my family's absolute favorite. It takes a lot of prep, so I don't do it too often. Since I was really struggling to come up with number five I just decided to show you this delicious meal!

Now quit drooling and go enter my giveaway. If you had entered before, you may want to check back because I added a way to win. My elephants are being featured today on Camelot Fabric's Fan Friday blog feature. I want you to be sure to check that out!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Together Teacher: Chapter 4 Never Forget! Capture Your Thoughts

Today I am hosting the Together Teacher book study. If you have missed the first four chapters you can easily catch up and join the party! Chapter one Rules Over Tools  was all about creating our ideal week and showing us how the right tools can help us reach those ideals. Chapter two: No More Missed Deadlines gave reasons and tips for how to make a comprehensive calendar. (I've now done that and I can't tell you how freeing it is!!) Chapter three: Coral the To-Dos gave me tools to actually write my to-dos down and keep them organized according to when I plan on doing them. I like having everything in one place. I just have to get in the habit of carrying my system with me!

Now it is my turn! Chapter four: Capture Your Thoughts
I get some wild and crazy thoughts some times. Some of them are actually pretty good, but get lost in the lint cluttering my brain. You know what I'm talking about...ideas for a blog post, ideas to bounce off another teacher, ideas for a new craft project, ideas, ideas ideas...There are many ways to catch your thoughts, but I'll show you what I'm going to try.
I can quickly write who the thought is directed towards and even go back and add more!

Now I can easily write down my musings on the run. Later I can sit down and look over my ideas and decide which ones need to be scratched and which ones need to be added to my To-Dos or put into an e-mail to a colleague for discussion. There are many ways that you may want to organize your own thought catchers. These are the tricks Maia has for making your Thought Catchers work:
1. They must not be time sensitive.
2. They must have a trigger.
3. You should choose Thought Catchers over e-mail.
4. Take advantage of extra minutes in each day. 
You can take as much time as you need later to develop your thoughts. Thought Catchers are for catching thoughts in the midst of our busy days. It captures the thought for later reflection and careful attention.
So often during the day I have these great or crazy thoughts. I either forget them or send out an e-mail to share my latest inspiration. Sometimes I jump into things without having given my idea some thoughtful consideration. Sometimes that gets me in trouble. Thought Catchers are helping me to slow down and think about my ideas carefully before jumping into an empty swimming pool head first!

It wasn't until after I started making these elephants that I realized that the chapter I signed up to host was called "Never Forget"! I'm making these elephants for each of my students to help them remember to read. I've penned an acrostic poem to go along with each of the elephants that will be part of our first day of school. Would you like your own never forget to read elephant? Maybe you'd rather have an Amazon giftcard? Be sure to enter for a chance for one of these awesome prizes below! Everyone gets a set of the binder cover/mini-posters I designed by clicking on the picture below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Show and Tell Tuesday

I am so excited to show you what I've been making for my students for their first day. Don't tell them because I really want it to be a surprise! We'll use them to act out the song "One Elephant Went Out to Play..." They'll be amazed as I keep pulling elephants out of my picnic basket. At the end we'll have a whole herd. Of course these elephants won't sound like a herd of elephants because they are soft and cuddly. They are perfect to sit on a child's bed and remind them to read. Come back tomorrow for your chance to win a mamma and baby! You can get your own instructions and free pattern HERE...I love this website!

Thanks for such a fun linky, Barbara! Your sunflower and quote make me smile. (If you'd like to see Barbara's sunflower and quote click HERE. You really do want to see it!!)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

How I Became a Writer

I have never used an iPad to write a post before. I just want you to know it can be done. I never intended to write a blog post. I mean NEVER. I never intended to write more than a check and maybe a thank you note or two. I blame it all on my sister in-law. She knows who she is 'cause I only have one...
She told me I had to read a book by Anne Lamott. She didn't care which one. So off I went to my local bookstore and I picked up Bird by Bird because I am a birder. I should have gotten a clue that this was not the book for me when the clerk asked me if I was a writer. No, I replied, I like birds. I am a birder. He explained that this had been required reading for a writing class he took. I still didn't get it! I just thought poor guy he wanted to write and he had to read a book about birds. Guess what! If you want to read a book about birds, this is not the book for you.

By the time I was done reading the book I had gone through a box of Kleenex alternating between laughing and sobbing.  Anne made me want to be a writer. Anne helped me believe I could be. That was important to me because I'd always believed I couldn't write. This is all leading up to something. The something is that I am a guest blogger today over at Books First in Maine. Go over there and find out kinda sorta why I blog...