Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sandy Hook

Elementary Schools are magical places. I have the wonderful opportunity to work in a very special elementary school with spectacular students. As a specialist, I pull out groups of students, and I push in to the classrooms to support student reading growth. On any given day, I am in/out of 5 or more classrooms. School is a happy place because of the students and people who fill the classrooms and hallways. Even if I am having a bad morning, the minute I begin teaching, I forget about my own life and focus on having fun with my students. I believe all teachers feel this way, which is why we choose to be in such a great profession.

I thought by this point I would have processed the horrible events that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School. But, the truth is, every time I begin to think about it, I am filled with deep sadness and heartache for the members of that school community. I don't think I will ever fully comprehend what happened that day.

Schools are safe places. Whenever I begin to work with new groups of children, I always start by building a community where students feel safe. If you can't feel safe, then you can not learn. It is clear the faculty of Sandy Hook made their children feel safe, just read this editorial about the acts of courage that took place to save children.
Good Rose Up Against Evil At Sandy Hook  

I continue to pray for all the victims of this tragedy and hope their families and friends can find peace. I pray we can continue to keep our schools safe places.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Play Kitchens

Santa brought my daughter (1.5) a play kitchen for Christmas. I looked at so many kitchens before deciding on the one I purchased her. When I saw this little kitchen, I knew it would be perfect for her and me!
This kitchen has so much STORAGE! One of my biggest issues in keeping a clean house is toys. I can never seem to have them all away and organized. So, this kitchen offers ample storage, and, it just so happens all the storage containers I put in it were ones laying around the house. I am thrilled with this kitchen and really hope that it continues to store all the kitchen and food items for us! Check it out...

Lesson learned - When buying toys always pick the ones that offer storage opportunities!

Monday, December 24, 2012

elf on the shelf

It's bad enough that Christmas decorations come out before Thanksgiving dinner is served, but what's worse is the growing popularity of The Elf on the Shelf. I don't own an elf on the shelf and I hope I never do. I don't want to scare my kids into behaving by saying constantly, "The elf is watching and he will go report back to Santa tonight."
Also, I am not a good liar. I remember the day I found out that Santa was not real. I was in first grade and my older brother bet me $1 about it. I ran up to ask my mom, and she told me Santa was not real. My brother never made me pay him the dollar, he was satisfied just ruining the secret for his little sister. I remember my parents and aunts would see elves and tell us the elves were watching to make sure we were being good, but we did not own a scary, small elf who could not be touched and who caused mischief while we slept.
The 2 links below support my idea to NEVER have an elf on the shelf...

With that being said, I realize if this elf on the shelf trend continues I might have to give in when my children are older. If I do give in, I want to do it like the people in this link...

Have a Merry Christmas!
oh, and don't forget to put your elves away tonight...maybe even FOR-EV-ER...

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Brothers & Sisters

I grew up with only brothers, and I was always happy about that. My brothers taught me how to play sports, watch sports, and how to have fun. My brothers kept a watchful eye on me, yet let me make my own decisions and be my own person. Even though I was involved in a variety of activities (some they didn't think were cool) they still supported me. I wouldn't change anything about my brothers...

We are fortunate enough to have 2 children. My son is 14 months older than my daughter. They love each other so much, and I pray they are always close. In the morning, Shannon usually wakes up first. She screams Pat's name over and over again. When we bring her downstairs she runs to the foot of the steps and screams his name again and again. She gives Patrick her blanket, and her other treasures.

Patrick loves his sister. Tonight he heard her crying, so he went upstairs, opened her door, and said, "It's ok, Shannon. I'm here. I brought you a train." Shannon immediately began to laugh. Then, Patrick climbed into her crib to hug her. Who needs a mom when you have such a great big brother??? I pray my children are always close and supportive of each other, just like my brothers are for me, and I try to be for them.

Lesson learned - There is nothing better than the gift of siblings.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Using My First Words Books

Shannon takes books off the bookshelf in the family room every night, travels over to the couch and says, "Book, book, book, book, book," until I pick her up nestle her in my lap, then read 3-4 pages of the book. Then, she wriggles out of the grip back to the bookshelf, grabs a book says, "book, book, book until I pick her up to read yet another book.
Right now she loves the "My First" books. These books have pictures and labels underneath them. And, I believe these books encourage vocabulary development. Shannon is learning animals, food, numbers, even family members! We read these books a few different ways.

One way is I point to a picture, and try to get Shannon to say the word.
"Look, Shannon, there's a cow!" (and I point as I say it.) Then, I ask her to point to the cow too. We build on this with animals because then we discuss animal sounds. "Shannon a cow says Moo." Then Shannon says, "Mooo."  Then, I might point to another animal and say "What is this?" Or, "What animal says neigh?"

Another way we read a My First Words Book is by me asking Shanon to find a picture. Toddlers tend to have better receptive language than expressive language. To strengthen the receptive language "Find me a..." is a fun game to play with them.

I've also learned many of Shannon's words by watching her point and say on her own. Of course, at this age, one of the most popular words is BABY, which is clear as a bell. Is this true for your child? Both of my kids went through/are going through a phase where any child, (from birth - 10 years old) is a BABY. They point at the child, then scream Baby, which leads me to explain to the parent and child about this phase. Anyway, back to figuring out words...Shannon points and says a word. For example, she will point to a car and say, "A car." Then, she might point to a truck and say, "A car." This is the beginning of learning broad categories. Anything with wheels is a car. With Patrick, all fruit was an apple. I find it fascinating to watch and learn as my children continue to expand their vocabulary by reading books and experiencing words firsthand.

Once all the words are mastered in the picture books, it is ok to go back and revisit them. In a previous post I wrote about the town book, it's a fisher price book. This continues to be one of Pat's favorites. Instead of pointing and saying words, Pat now names the characters in the story, and describes what the character is doing. For example, he points to a little girl who is painting a picture of a flower and he says, "Look Mommy it's big Shannon. She is painting." Then I might say, "Oh really? What is she painting?" Pat: "A big pink flower." Pat's language continues to develop, and I know it all began with the solid foundation of reading the picture books, pointing and learning new words.

Here is a link to some of the books we use.
Flower pot Press

So, we will continue to foster a love of reading in each of our kids, and watch in amazement as their language grows!