Monday, August 15, 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.

Back to school time is here.  As we traveled to the library last week, I took the opportunity to stock up on some read alouds for the first 3 days.  

I've been taking this book on home visits with me.  It is such a gentle read on the power of reading and the fun that comes with it!  

This is a beautiful book.  As the child wanders through the book and interacts with each animal, he's having so many experiences.  But there was no tribe of kids.  When he finds the tribe of kids, you have to wonder if he was really lost, or if he was simply on a journey.  I think this is a beautiful read about community.  


What a relaxing read aloud.  Simply calming, as children relate to bedtime routines, and the adventures one can have at bedtime.  

When all the little friends go to music class, everyone is having a blast!  One small friend is watching from the side at first.  A joyful read about joining in when you are ready.  

A read aloud for fun!  I adore Snappsy and his voice in this story.  

Finally, I keep marveling at my own kids and their reading.  Big A pulled this book off the shelf for me and said, "Mom, if you recommend books to me, I'll do the same for you."  I have a couple other books I'm trying to finish as well, so I'll need to get busy!  



Wednesday, August 10, 2016

#pb10for10: Books to Promote Dreaming and Creating.


Thank you to Cathy Mere and Mandy Robek for this yearly celebration of picture books.  Join in to share and learn here.

So this past school year, everything was a possibility. 
It opened up a part of me to dream again.  
The best part was getting to share that feeling with my students.  

Here are 10 books we used to promote Dreaming and Creating.  (And a little bit about how that went.)

Often, I would read and simply pose a question about the ideas in the book and off we went creating and dreaming!


I love this book, because part way in, what she is dreaming about isn't coming out!  How frustrating!  That was such a beautiful conversation to have with my kiddos this year.  And of course each time we read it, we had to stop and fiddle, adjust, and tweak.


This is my favorite way to start out the school year.  After we read, we stop and consider what our unimaginary friends look like!


A simple paper boat and the possibility of a rainy day was all we needed to create our own boats and adventures.  This wordless picture book was a favorite of my students last year.


What if your next friend was a ghost?  A friendly one of course.  A lovely story to dream about friendship.


So, the truth is my kids didn't really enjoy this book as a read aloud.  However, They Loved looking at it together and talking to each other in robot voices.


A perfect book for dreaming about what you might be when you grow up.  Paired with a spirit of thankfulness, this book is simply lovely.


This book has more of a biblical spin on dreaming about the future.  (See Jeremiah 29:11.)  It encourages readers to dream about the future and believe those dreams can come true.  I loved how the voice in the book lead children to believe there is a path just for them to travel on.   After reading this book, it was great to do some writing on what we were dreaming of being when we grow up.


While this book seems to be about a bus ride and the greatness of the neighborhood, it really opens up the opportunity for kids to dream and see the greatness in their own neighborhood.


What happens when you dream of a friend and one appears?  What if your imaginary friend isn't needed anymore?  A lovely story about dreaming of friendship and what to do when that dream comes true!

And I couldn't let today go by without:


Whether it's a dream, or an idea that needs to be tinkered with, I love that kiddos are so eager to share.  After this book, I've seen stories, artwork, block cities...the list could go on.

What do you dream about?  Has it lead to any creations you are excited about?  Want to share?


Saturday, August 6, 2016

Celebrate: Running

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

I sit out here on the patio in the shade.  

It's cool.  

My coffee is gone.  So are my pancakes.  

I remark to my husband how cool technology is.  I essentially have set up a mobile office in a matter of seconds.  Music on the bluetooth, a phone to communicate, and my trusty laptop for celebrating!

I'm feeling strong as I sit here.  

7 miles later.  

A minute faster per mile than last week.  (Before that sounds too cool, I'm moving at a turtle stampede's pace. I might have broken out of the turtle stampede this morning.  But it reminds me I can get stronger.  And I celebrate that.)

I'm 38 years old, and 10 months.  I'm celebrating that I haven't had injuries to stop me from running.  I've stayed healthy since I've taken up running in my 30s.  When I'm not running, it's my own fault.  

I celebrate the strength that comes with running.  

I celebrated a few other times this week.  In my Slice, and on a day when I realized I was transitioning back to school.  

In the spirit of celebrating, Joy!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Julia Cook is Here!

This afternoon, our second keynote speaker is Julia Cook!

Let's just look at some of my favorites:




First of all, she is hilarious!
I adored her research, heart, and passion for teaching 'people skills' to others.


Here is her book that addresses dreaming about the future.  It addresses leadership.  It also gently encourages kids to consider "soft skills" that kids will need as they move through life, no matter what they are interested in.


This book comes out on the 28th.  When I think about all that's been going on in our beautiful world, I just think that we could all benefit from time to read this book.  It's really a beautiful book about seeing the beauty in others.


Play and Exploration in Nature

Alright my playing friends...Let's go Outside!

I'm listening to a conservationist from Dallas County here in Iowa.

Let's look at how Nature can be the ultimate teacher.

Ooh.  Right away he began to talk about what we do as educators to play.  

  • How do you rejuvenate?  My play comes in running, writing, and food with friends.  

So many games and ideas in this session.  Here are a couple of games that easily incorporate nature items.  They can be played inside and outside.  

Nature Checkers

You need a set of rocks as shown in the picture:

The bottom row has 6 rocks.  The next row up has 5 rocks, etc.

Each person takes a turn removing any number of rocks from any row.  

The rows are only horizontal, not diagonal.  

The object of the game is to get the opponent or the partner to take the last rock.  

What a great strategy game, a game to promote collaboration and problem solving.  

I also love that I can grab the rocks to day and be ready to play.

I also loved hearing about "sit spots."  Take the children outside.  Give them 10 minutes to sit, observe, and perhaps write or draw.  When they come inside use Morning Meeting time perhaps to share about what they saw and observed.  I even considered technology here.  How can students observe outside, and use devices to record and share what they've seen?  Where is the play here?  :)  I think it is in the authentic observation and child driven recordings and conversation.  

STEM and the Project Approach is up next. Stay tuned friends!


An Activity to think about Play...

An idea from our keynote speaker, Annette Oliver.

Think Wonder, Imagination, Curiosity...

With a bag full of random, and I mean random items, invite children to do one of the following:

  • create a new game
  • tell a story
  • make a list of words that begin with the same letter as each item
  • describe ways in which they are different, and which they are the same..
  • use items to create a person or animal
  • create an invitation
  • sketch or create an invention.
  • make something that moves.

Our bag had pop caps, poker chips, small wooden blocks.
We created a train.  :)  

We also used this time to look at Twitter and other social media forms to tell our stories.  What a great discussion about telling our stories as we play!


Iowa District West Early Childhood Conference Part One

Friends!  Today, I'm attending an Early Childhood Conference on play.

I'll be blogging and reflecting on play in the classroom today.

Annette Oliver is an Assistant Professor of Education and Program Director for the undergraduate and graduate early childhood programs at Concordia University, Nebraska.

Our keynote is on Play: Its Place in PreK-2 Best Practices

We are working with the framework that addresses national curriculum guidelines, social dimensions that protect and foster play, addressing the risk that play will be underestimated due to misunderstanding, and the research on the role of play in children's cognitive, social and emotional development.

Think of yourself as a researcher in a classroom.  Are you reflecting on growth?  Ask yourself "what if?"

How do children define play?  (Dockett and Perry 2007)

  • Have fun
  • spend time with friends
  • use imaginations and friends
  • choose what to do, how to do it, and with whom
  • decide whether to finish something, or leave it.  
Theory defines play:

(Frobel) Essential and necessary component of childhood.
(Erickson)  Not work
(Bruner) Opportunity to take risks without failure
(Elkind) Nature's way of dealing with stress
(Vygotsky)  Assimilation, or the child's efforts to make stimuli match his or her own concepts.

Play is:
  • Active
  • child selected
  • process-oriented
  • suspension of reality
  • with other friends, it can be independent.  
"We do not want play to become a subject area."
  • Yes!  As I venture into play, I'll be looking for ways to authentically incorporate play throughout the day.  

What thoughts do you have on the framework of play?  


Thursday, August 4, 2016

From One Teacher Friend to Another and Let's Eat!

Dear Friends,

Oh my Stars.  It is August.  I love this time of year and my new teaching position.  It is allowing for creating and reflection.  All summer I've worked, but especially this week, my brain has switched.  You know.  I'm in full on creating a yearly plan for my students.  I've been writing and reading more.

But the wheels are falling off at home people.  Oh the transition.  You want to look away, but you can't.

This summer was glorious.

We did all the things.

We cleaned a little bit everyday so the house wouldn't get too messy.

The boys read.  They created.  They were helpful.  We ate fresh food.

As I dive back into school this week, I need to be honest dear friends.  The wheels crashed off our Bus of Summer Love and Fun immediately.  Exhbit A- Our house by lunchtime today:

Just keeping it real Dear Friends!  

I even said these words, "Did you ever eat lunch today?"  At which point, my 11 year old tried to take over the agenda for the rest of the week.  (Snapple, sausage and cheese.  #winning!)

"Mom, I think you need to do this..."

Bless it.  

I just giggled.  
Dear Friends, if you are wondering if you are alone in the wheels falling off as you transition back to school, you are not.  Let the adjustment of time management begin...

As you create and prepare for the upcoming school year in a brilliant fashion, things may be askew at home as you ask different things of yourself at this time of year.  

I want you to know:

You are brilliant.  

You are doing amazing work.

You aren't the only one.  

August is Awesome.

*Update.  (We started the morning with a clean house.  And I get to finish this blog post this morning, because I needed to sit in the driveway with my neighbors...priorities!)

Finally, I wanted to share a salad recipe that I enjoyed this summer.  It's for a Cheeseburger Salad.  This link has a lot of other information about some weight loss program.  I just skipped right over that and went for the food, thank you very much.  :)

My short cuts:  I used leftover grilled hamburger patties and a dear friend suggested Thousand Island dressing.  Yum.  Try to eat one before school starts if you like cheeseburgers.  :) 


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

A Slice of Life: A July in Pictures.


Link up at  We are so grateful for this community. 

I haven't sliced since the end of June.  As school starts up again, and I'm considering the writers in my classroom, I've been asking myself to sit down and write again.  

I was stuck today.  Then I remembered the importance of a writing community.  I'm so thankful for Michelle Haseltine for providing a slice that I could use as a spring board.  Check it out here:  A Slice In Pictures.

Why didn't I Slice in July?

Our family spent time with dear friends (and each other) on the 4th.  

We spent a week serving Jr. High kids at a church camp.  Next to a lake.  This was the view from the fire pit near our cabin.  If you asked me to move here, I might say, "Yes."  

 I worked with a dear friend to tie dye t-shirts with Jr. High kids.  They turned out great!  

Our washer and dryer finally died as I was finishing the last load of towels from camp.  My oldest son offered, yes offered, to help me bail water and wring out towels.  It was a week long process, that still isn't completely resolved.  But I can do laundry again, so that's a blessing!  

Griffin gave is a tiny scare in between our trips.  (After we bought a new washer and dryer.)  He simply had a bad case of gas.  But you wouldn't have known it by his sickness that night.  (Why yes, you are seeing 3 cones.  We Limbacks like to do things big...and there might be stubborn traits in our family.  I'm glad we have a puppy that fits in here.)

My sister-in-law was married.  What a fun, beautiful, joyous day!  The bride is not pictured here, but at this point we had been on a bus with a broken air conditioner for a couple of hours for pictures.  In St. Louis. At the end of July.  All of us in this picture are married to siblings.  We've dubbed ourselves the "Outlaws."  I'm so blessed to have amazing family.  And we are so happy because we are in air conditioning.  With water.  And nachos.  (Wedding parties change when you are in your 30s.  What can I say!?!)

As an educator, I've been on summer break since about May 20th.  I've rested, recharged, eaten good and not so good food.  I've lingered, worked, napped, read and ran.  I hope you have too!  

As I work on preparing for my students, I see that I've gathered stories.  I'm reflecting on how to encourage students to see that they have a story to tell as well.  As I look over these pictures, the one thing that comes to mind?  Blessings and Joy.  I could write for days on this...
Stay tuned...


Monday, August 1, 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.

Dear Friends!

What an exciting month of July we've had as a family.  I figure as a writer, I have gathered stories in July to share for awhile.  However, as the rain falls this morning here in the Middle of the Midwest, I'm excited to be sitting here sharing with you.  


This read is so funny!  This is Ross Burach's first book.  I can't wait to read this during read aloud time.  


I.Love.This.Book.  I usually rely on my fabulous library for books to use and read.  But this one is in my Amazon cart as we blog.   This book celebrates ALL kids.  Wonderful for building community and simply celebrating each other.


If we are learning together on Instagram, you know that in my world we have a new puppy.  (I'm only sort of sorry about all the pictures.)  We are all things dogs in this house right now.  The photographs in this book are simply engaging.  (I can tell my back-to-school-brain is spinning.  How can I use this text to model capturing ideas in photos and then writing about them?)


This interactive story will be perfect for launching Writer's Workshop.  After reading Purposeful Play this summer, I'm seeking out ways to be more playful in my teaching.  This interactive book will be perfect for launching ideas in stories.  I can't wait to hear the conversations.