Monday, June 27, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Visit Jen at Teach MentorTexts and Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders to see what they've been reading, along with everyone else who link up.

Happy Monday!

We've been dealing with this HOT week by spending lots of time at the library!  (And pool...but library!)
I always check out a stack of picture books.  I have an incoming second grader that always wants to be reading chapter books to keep up with big brother.  Not a bad thing, but I also can see his frustration when he doesn't finish books as fast as Big Brother. (And I don't want to discount his emotions, but let's save our frustrations for something else!)  As a teacher and a mama, I think a good picture book stack can encourage readers to see the beauty and stories.  Here's our stack for the week:






I also got some books for me:



I've been wanting to read Echo forever.  I've even almost purchased it several times.
The Thickety is a gripping trilogy.  I am really enjoying the story line.


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

SOL: A Summer Reading Frenzy


Link up at  We are so grateful for this community. 

Especially this summer.

No job changes.  No graduate work.

We really get to have a summer.

This means I'm at home, with 2 boys all the live long day.

They are so cool.  I love that we are able to have some good adventures.  (pool, hiking, biking, friends, etc.)

They also happen to be readers.

I love that I can say "they."

It's been a journey.  The Oldest has always embraced books.  The Youngest?  It was more of a journey.

At the end of May, Oldest approached me and asked if we could do a reading competition.
No prizes, no rewards, just bragging rights for the most minutes.

Oh.  I'm all in.

(He's totally blowing me out of the water.)

Last week, the Youngest decided he wanted in on the action.
Be still my heart.

So we read.  Keep track of our minutes.  That's all.
They love seeing the spreadsheet grow in minutes.
I love watching them read when they don't think they have anything to do.

Oldest just put this one in my pile:


I also caught him thumbing through this one in my pile:


Youngest is digging into Magic Tree House and Puppy Place.
He'll also read a pile of picture books if I put them out.  (Don't tell anyone though...)
(Because I believe in reading picture books and not rushing into chapter books.)

I know there are a million ways to encourage summer reading.  This is working for us.  Calling it a "Frenzy" was all it took.

How is your summer reading going?


Saturday, June 18, 2016

Celebrate: 16 Years!

Friends, You can celebrate too!  Link up at  I thank Ruth for sharing her space with us. 

Yesterday it was 16 years.  

He's so cool.

He reads.  A lot. 
Last night as dinner was ending, (eat local please!) he suggested a trip to the indie book store in town.  
My heart grew two sizes.  

I get fired up about things.  I'm spicy when I'm out of sorts.  
He's always leading with love, and would lead with love for you too.  

He's such a great dad.  This week he has tackled baseball skills, complimenting their dessert, and incoming armpit hair.  (Bless it.  I'm so not ready for That journey.)

He's wise and careful with his words.  Sometimes, I say too many words.  He never does.  Don't mistaken his quietness for not being thoughtful.  Sometimes, there is just nothing to say.  Sometimes, he's waiting to share his thoughts until later.  

Here's to another 116 years.  


Friday, June 17, 2016

Purposeful Play: Reflection Two of a Few.


It's day two of my reflections on Purposeful Play!

Today I'm thinking about classroom space, items needed for play, and what choice time might look like in my classroom.

Classroom Space

A great teacher-blogger would have had lots of pictures in this space to show you my room and the space.  My class size this year will allow for me to move out some "traditional" furniture (aka student desks) and move in some more flexible seating.  Some ideas/wishes I have for flexible seating:

  • A standing table.  I missed this in my new classroom this year.  I loved having a space that reminded me of a kitchen counter.   A place where kids can stand or perch on a stool to create.  
  • Bath rugs.  Some where in the great world of the internets, I found an idea that involved purchasing a set of bath rugs to roll out on the floor and roll up when that time is over.  
  • A dorm/apartment sofa for my reading area.  I love having a resting space that doubles as a cozy reading area as well.  :)  A piece of furniture that the kids can rest on allows for that break in the day that kids might need to take to feel safe and calm.  
  • A table that is re-purposed for a creation area.  Ideally, it is round and the legs have been removed, so kids can sit/perch on the floor and create.  

If you look at pages 32-34, there are some ideas for considering materials to invoke powerful play.  
It was awesome to see that I already have a lot of these!  Items I'm excited to add in the spirit of play:

  • Loose Parts (Nuts, bolts, screws, other interesting materials.)
  • Objects from home/workplaces.  
Storage is always a thought process.  I'm not sure what that will look like yet.  I'm aiming for accessible for the students and easy to store in the classroom.  (Tidy please...not perfect...but tidy...)

Choice Time Workshop

Oh my friends.  For years I've done choice time, which really just resulted in constructive play.  Not a bad thing, but this book has shown me there is so much more!  This time can be richer and more meaningful in a joyful way.

I am blessed to have choice in how I organize the time in my day.  

A choice time workshop can exist in my classroom, especially in the afternoon.  

Pages 39 and 40 helped me envision what that might look like.  

  • With a board, students can choose a setting for play that they are interested in.  (see page 39; figure 3.13)
  • A focus lesson would be appropriate before we get started.  Section two of this book has endless ideas.  I also connected to the work that I read in Mindset for Learning.  This is a great time of day to be talking about mindset, teaching empathy, telling stories that promote such topics.  
  • The planning stage is perfect for first graders.  I imagine in my classroom this part of the workshop is oral.  Anytime we can focus our conversation with a friend, that is a good thing.  
  • It's time to play!  I envision myself on the floor chatting, writing, observing.  This is when the good stuff happens teachers!  Get out there and see what is going on with your students!
  • The structure for the share session on page 41 is remarkable.  Framing a share session like this for me works across the day!  

Friends, next time I'll be thinking about the whole school day and the idea of making the whole day playful!  Wow!  


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Purposeful Play-Reflection One of a Few. :)


Friends!  Over the next few days, I want to reflect on this book.
Have you read it?  I'll wait here while you go order it.

*waiting.*  (No, seriously, go order this book.)

You're back then?!  I've been thinking about this book for awhile now, I finished it last week.

Mrza, Porcelli, and Tyler show us the research, work in play, and the play in work.  Time and Time again, this book was so confirming.

"Play is its own method of instruction."  (pg. 5)

It truly is the work of the children in my classroom.  I'm encouraging play when I follow the students' ideas in their own way with their own reasons.  It provides for personal choice, a sense of control, feelings of power for the student, and opportunities to be non-literal.  (All things I firmly believe in for my little First Grade Friends.)

As I continued through Part one, I was reminded of the different types of play and reflected on those.

Fantasy Play:  As children are choosing imaginary scenarios to take on, I immediately started thinking of classroom application.  The example of the grocery store resonated with me as an easy way to consider play in math.  Why not develop some self-regulation while learning how to count and add money in a classroom grocery store?  I'll be looking for ways to encourage Fantasy play as I teach various concepts.

Constructive Play:  As I read about constructive play, I was encouraged.  There is lots of constructive play already happening in my classroom.  Legos, blocks, marble runs, etc.  I Love to get these items out and let the children work to create something.  What is your favorite material to make available?  I love wooden blocks.

Games with Rules:  Later on, I'll write about where I see these games fitting in my day.  However, to connect with the work Mraz has done on Mindsets for Learning; these games will be so critical in develop mindsets and setting boundaries.

Rough and Tumble Play:  You are right!  Some types of play do make me feel uncomfortable.  And this is one of them.  However, the research on Texas murders and their lack of exposure to such play was convicting.  As I read this book at the end of the school year, I reflected on how to support and encourage my First Grade Friends who engage in this kind of play frequently on the playground.  I worked on teaching social cues and empathy; instead of simply stopping the play.  I can't say that I saw ground breaking changes in such a short time, however, this read is convicting.  I'll try again in the fall.  :)

I have more to say about Purposeful Play and the place is has in my classroom.  Next time, I'll be looking at my classroom arrangement and how it can/does encourage play.

Which types of play are you most comfortable with ?


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Slice That Took Over.


Link up at  We are so grateful for this community. 

Dear Friends,
So, I started to write about summer reading with my boys this morning.  But then the second paragraph came out.  So I want to see where this goes, since I'll be writing freely.  I don't know if it's right.  I don't know if it will make sense.  But I think we can wait a week to discuss summer reading, yes?

There is a lot on my mind this morning.  Like many of you, I'm sitting here with my coffee, staring out the window.  Thinking.  Thinking about the people of Orlando.  Thinking about some people that I love.  It's not time for more ideological words yet in my house.  It is time for lots of hugging and reaching out.  It's just on my heart.  

I'm just a girl who is rooted in some traditional Midwestern Church Going.  You know, church basements.  Cookbooks.  Donuts in between church services.  Potlucks.  (Time with Jesus=Food?  Apparently.)  I'm not trained theologically.  I'm sure I misinterpret things.  But I write and say things anyway.  And I'm thankful for gracious people who listen and discuss with me.  

Here's all I know this morning; Jesus has only placed people in and out of my path that he is crazy about.  I know that when I lock eyes with someone, they matter to God.  Period.  

I know I'm only called to lead with love.  (Check out the book of Mark, Chapter 12 to see why I think that.)  That's all.  "Love Your Neighbor."  

But here's the thing.  People keep saying that.  And then people keep shooting each other.  I believe that the change is going to start in our neighborhoods and communities.  (If I may, also with leaders.  Does the 2nd Amendment Really mean I should be able to easily purchase an AK-47?  Maybe it does.  I'm having trouble believing that as I type these words.)

Which leads me to ask:
 What else can I do to show more love?  Open up my house more?  Start cooking food for people?  Donate blood?  Email more senators?  

Is it about doing more?  Is it about being more present with each other?  I don't have Any Answers this morning.  

Except for Love.  

Joy!  (Even when it's hard.)

Monday, June 13, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Visit Jen at Teach MentorTexts and Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders to see what they've been reading, along with everyone else who link up.

Happy Summer Friends!  I hope your summer is filled with books and coffee all day long.  :)

Last week, we spent some time in a little town in the middle of the Midwest.  Population:  7000.  Highlight:  Local bookstore.

In case you are far away from the middle of the Midwest, it is HOT here.  So we've also been to the library. Here's a stack of what I'm diving into over the next week:



These two I purchased at the local book store.  I'm Loving Counting by 7s.  Willow tugs at my heartstrings and makes me want to laugh out loud at the same time.


Be still my heart.  This ARC became available to me this week.  I couldn't stop giggling.  I noticed this book is due out in Mid-September.  Go ahead and add it to your list.  :)


It's books like this that keep me connected to my 6th grade Son.  After we finished giggling at the title and the cover, he announced we both should read it.  I will always, always, always take a book recommendation from my 12 year old.

May your day be filled with books, coffee, and people you love.  Happy Reading!