Sunday, March 27, 2016

April Fool the Kids and Teachers at Your School!

Hi Folks! My April Fool's joke for the kids from last year is showing up in the Pin parade, so I thought I'd repost so you don't miss it. AND I found one to do on the adults at school, too. Snort! April Fool's Day is THIS Friday so you've got time to get ready!

The one for grown-ups is super easy! Your fellow teachers, principal, secretary... I think I'm gonna have a few of these cups ready and get to school really early! Snort!

Only thing I have to figure out is how I can finagle it so I see their reaction...

This one is an old trick, but I think it's perfect for kindergarten. Here's how I do it.

At the end of March we talk about how April first is coming up and what April Fools' Day is. Some kindergartners know about it, but certainly not all. Then on the morning of April first, we talk about it again. At snack time, I tell them that the start of a new month is a good time to celebrate all the learning we've done in the month gone by, so I brought brownies to share– interject loud whoops of happiness here. 

I pick up the brownie pan, conveniently covered with foil so no one can look in, and stroll around the room handing out brown construction paper Es from the pan. Their faces are priceless. I keep handing them out as they all gawk and gafaw, and I don't have to go too far before somebody gets it... I then hold one up and say it certainly is a "brown E" at which point everyone's lightbulb goes on and giggles erupt. I do, of course, have real brownies in the pan as well– two-bite size from the bakery– so everyone gets a brownie along with their brown E. (I have dim memories of actually baking brownies for this day in an era long gone by...)

Later in the day, we stroll through the building looking for April fools to play our trick on again and again. Each year, I don't know what my colleagues enjoy more– getting the brownie or playing along. What do you do for April Fools' Day?

Last but not least– and this is no joke!– be sure to sign up for my book giveaway GOING ON RIGHT NOW. It's for the book Hammer and Nails by Josh Bledsoe and Jessica Warrick. Thanks to Flashlight Press for the giveaway. Click the book cover to see contest.  

Have a great week!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Blogging from McDonald's... with a freebie and a GIVEAWAY!

Oooh, I have a Freebie, a book review, and a GIVEAWAY today!! Thanks to Kacey at Doodle Bugs Teaching for her Five for Friday linky. Gotta love Five for Friday!

1.  What a glorious morning!

Well, THAT gorgeous morning was not THIS morning, but one last week. I love to see the dawn and that breathtaking sky, and feel like anything is possible. Usually I'm rushing around to get out the door with the oh-so-necessary three dozen bags a kindergarten teacher must always have on her person when she leaves the house. I share this so you can feel anything is possible on this Good Friday, too.

Because we don't have school today, I treated yesterday, Thursday, like IT was Friday. I mean it was the last day of the school week after all. On the way home I picked up a bunch of movie rentals– yes, we are among the rare citizens we don't have a million cable stations and movie subscriptions. We love Redbox where we simply grab a movie or two... or three for the night. I threw together a dinner and Jonathan and I settled in for mindless entertainment: Specter. Jonathan's choice, not mine... I've seen every James Bond movie that ever was because of the men in my life... brothers, boyfriends, husband... only one husband, thank goodness. We were halfway through when flicker, flicker, click. No power.

WHAT???? A whole glorious night of movie escapism ahead and now. no. power!!!! I even took a fifteen minute nap when I got home so I could stay up late! How were we to watch those red boxed discs now? Hmmpf.

I reported the problem to the electric company and signed up to get a text when the power came back on. We packed up the laptop, cord, earbuds, and movies- NOT Specter because it was stuck in the player which doesn't open without power– and headed to our favorite coffee shop. Coffee and chocolate cake only made the evening better. It was an adventure!!

Here we are camped out in the comfy chairs with the laptop between us. Gotta love selfies and how very attractive they make you look... my nose is really not that big...

We got back home about midnight, stumbling through the dark house and flipping every lightswitch as we went. We knew the power wasn't on yet because the porch light was still off, but for some reason we found we couldn't remember that fact from one room to the next. Stumble, grope, click. Hmmph. Stumble, grope, click. Sigh. Stumble, grope, click. Dang it why do I keep doing that! Both of us. Through the house. At every switch. I bet you didn't know there are magnets in lightswitches that make your hands automatically grope for them in the dark. What an interesting phenomenon.

This morning the power was still not on. No power, no heat, low overnight temps of 26 degrees. The adventure was over. I briskly hustled out of pajamas and headed off to breakfast with a teacher friend so I didn't have to open the fridge, and then camped out later at McDonald's to blog. McDonald's, on a Friday, when there is no school, and apparently not much else to do in town. Again, not so much an adventure. But what's a blogger to do.

Aren't these adorable! And so easy to make!

One of my students brought this in to me yesterday. Well, one of my former students. Don't you just love when they come back to see you. A real advantage of teaching kindergarten is that you know the kids for their entire six years at school.

I thought this was so cute I took a shot. And it's pretty easy to make. A rice crispie treat "nest" formed by pressing the mixture into a muffin tin, then some frosting to hold the jelly bean eggs and a Peep bird to the nest. These are probably all the go on Pinterest but I had never seen them before. If I'm ever again in a phase of life when I need to make such treats, I'll try these. And I'm going to pin my own photo up  there so I don't forget about it. Pinterest: the memory I don't have.

3.  I blogged about this game idea which I found on Pinterest a couple posts ago. I report on it again because it is a HUGE HIT!!

That is a foam die in my kiddo's hand. You simply drop the die into the center dish and it bounces into one of the dishes around the edge. It works amazingly well. It bounces right into one of those depressions 99.4% of the time like pure magic. It takes work to make it bounce out... which means if yours bounces out you worked at it... and you lose your turn. Funny how it only took one or two off bounces for off bounces never to happen again. They love it that much.

The game edition in the picture has two word wall words per bounce. Every student chooses one of the words to graph with every student's turn, which keeps everybody engaged and the words being read aloud all the time... and it seems like there is strategy because you get to CHOOSE the word... I don't need to tell you I've been teaching kindergarten a long time to come up with this exciting game version.

With the one below, the die has letters on it, and the kids write the word that is made with the letter that is up and the word chunk landed on.

They write the word on the "earthling" side or the "alien" side of the recording paper- surely on Mars they must say words like tig and bap.

The kids love writing nonsense words on our Alien sheet. You can download mine by clicking on it above. So nice Jonathan can draw Martians. Let the kids use it for recording real and nonsense words with any word chunk/word family manipulatives you put out in your classroom.

You can use the bounce tray to practice lots of concepts in reading, math or, well, anything. You'll find the dip tray at dollar stores. Post-it notes easy to use because you can switch out the same tray for many uses, though I do have several of these trays now. I shared it at our staff meeting with K-5 teachers. It really is fun to bounce and I caught several teachers giving it a go after I shared it. hee. I strongly recommend it to any teacher, no matter who or what you teach.

4.  My friends at Flashlight Press sent me a brand new book that is just hitting bookstores. It is called Hammer and Nails, written by Josh Bledsoe and illustrated by Jessica Warrick. If you are a regular reader you know I love the books Flashlight chooses to publish, and this one does not fail my high expectations.

This is the story of Darcy, whose plans for a playdate are foiled when her best friend gets sick. It's Daddy to the rescue as he orchestrates the day with activities from both Darcy's and his to-do list... except that they do them Daddy-style. Dressing up, mowing the lawn, Hair Salon and doing the laundry take on whole new meanings on this special day.

For the teacher or parent who keeps an eye out for learning opportunities, this delightful book is full of them. Dealing with disappointment, being flexible, trying new things, and making the mundane events of life FUN are all underlying themes in the book. I can think of lots of times in the classroom and in family life when this book would have extra appeal: Father's Day; as a baby gift inscribed with "Think of the good times ahead;" or as a gift for a daughter from a Papa who shares this approach to life.

When I read this one to my class, before they ever saw it, I asked what a book called Hammer and Nails might be about. Construction, of course. Then I asked them again when I showed them the cover. Hmmm. Then I asked a third time after we read it. That lead to a discussion of the meanings of nail and what a homonym was. Common Core standard on word meanings- nailed! snort.

Here are some shots of the book.

OF COURSE it has great endpapers and About-the-Author blurbs... a requirement for every good kids' book.

I told you it was good. You want this book and you can find it here...

5.  .... OR I might just send it to you!!!! Whoot Whoot! Yep, this is the giveaway I've been talking about. Well, writing about, but in my head I'm talking to you... babbling actually... excitedly babbling, as this is my FIRST ever giveaway. Flashlight has been oh so gracious enough to send me an extra copy. And all you have to do is sign up below. Yes, you have to follow via Bloglovin or email when you sign up because Flashlight Press wants more readers of the reviews I post, and I want more readers, period. All these wonderfully insightful, exciting, funny ideas I write about should be read by more people, right? So just fill in your name, how you are following, and your email address (so I can tell you when you win) into the Rafflecopter entry form below. Names and addresses do not become public on the blog. Rafflecoper will "pull the name out of the hat" on Saturday, April 2nd, at midnight eastern time, so you can enter until then!!  If you are already a follower, enter the contest and tell me how you follow. Come on, what do you have to lose?? I know you'll love the book!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ping!!! Hey, I just got the DTE message that the power at home is back on!!  Goodbye MickeyD's. I'm outta here!

Except, whoa, I almost forgot... the giveaway for Hammer and Nails is only my FIRST giveaway. A Hue document camera and another book are on the way- this one from Usborne! Be SURE to follow so you don't miss 'em!

See more, more, more good stuff by checking out Five for Friday!

And one. more. thing. Do you know about Oh-My-Heartsie Girl's link-up? We're talking lots of posts on tons of topics. If you're a teacher, mom, wife, daughter, grandma... you'll find something!  Click.

Well two. more. things. These bloggers are fired up and provide a great way to peruse blog topics on their Sunday Link-up, too. Click to see.

See you next time!!!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Fun at the Blogger Retreat

Oh, boy, did we have fun!

I was at the Spring Teacher/Blogger Retreat in French Lick, Indiana, this past weekend.

It is a six hour drive, each way, so my DH (truly a dear) Jonathan went along with me. And a Grand Adventure it was. Thanks to Kacey's Five for Friday so I can share all about it with lots of pics!

1.   Before we left the house, I went to Google Maps and printed up the directions for the best route. I have an iPhone with GPS, but I am old fashioned enough to want a hard copy in hand when heading off to the wild blue yonder, just in case.

We went along fine for most of the trip. Then in the last hour I turned on Google Maps GPS so we could search for some McDonald's good food in Bloomington, and we kept it on after that. In theory the best route via Google Maps on paper should have matched the best route via the GPS, right? Well, it wasn't long before our little GPS navigator, we call her Marjorie, was taking us down a different route all together. We were going in all sorts of directions on simple, two lane... barely two lane...  roads. At least they were paved.

I remembered that retreat packet said the resort was "out in the middle of nowhere" and we were certainly driving through nowhere. We were on county roads that had numbers for names according to Marjorie, but they were certainly not marked in any way as we zoomed past. We were going just a few feet on some of them before turning on to another one, in yet another direction. I'm sure we passed the same clump of trees several times over.

Up hill and down, around, over and through... quite a bit like a Sesame Street song. Jonathan and I were arguing... with Margery... about how she was wrong, wrong, WRONG. There was NO WAY anything worth getting to was down this route. Jonathan felt more confident after we saw this sign pointing us to the teachers...


In an effort to "get there" and "be done" Jonathan was driving TOO FAST not slow, so it was like a carnival ride for me.

Oh, neat... wavey  roaDS

No, we didn't crash into those trees... there was a severe CURVE at the bottom of the hill!

Yes, skid marks. Not ours. We weren't the only ones who had road adventures.

Uh-huh, lots of zigs and zags, to say nothing of roadsides that dropped off like ski jumps... not that I've ever been on a ski jump... or a ski hill... or even ski boots. Well, come to think of it, I have gone cross country, but this countryside was definite Alpine skiing.

After several hundred miles of chugging up hills with no top in sight, zooming down ravines, and careening around curves– roads with hills AND curves at the same time, mind you– we came to this sign.

NOW? Are you kidding me? After all the miles and miles of danger on all those hills BACK THERE?? Now you tell us to use caution??  Well, I lost it. I laughed and laughed and laughed some more. Tears were streaming. And then I saw THIS sign...

Again, are you KIDDING me?? The poor bus driver! After coming through all those dips and vales to get this far, he was now told to TURN AROUND???  It. was. hysterical... well, maybe it was just I who was hysterical. I became NO help to Jonathan as I was crowing louder than Margery could speak, and now HE was nervous that we were going to miss some directions and be stuck in the National Forest forever... I forgot to mention that we were in a National Forest. Shouldn't we have seen a Mountie or something... or is that only in Canada? We weren't in Canada. Well, I don't THINK we were in Canada.

We did FINALLY find our way into French Lick. What was the first sign we saw???

And what did Jonathan say? "I'll do a little go-carting while you are at this conference." WHAT the heck was all that driving back there? I have a Smart car, so it really WAS go-carting. Men!! I was still laughing as we pulled up to the hotel. Anything that took place at the retreat was going to pale to the adventure of getting there!

The day was damp and foggy with temps in the sixties– very springlike. As we unpacked the car we could see the little town stretching up, as it was built on a hill. Jonathan started grinning and said, "So that is where it comes from?" I followed his line of vision, and sure enough, this is what we saw...

Fog was pumping right out of the building! So THIS is where fog comes from!! A regular fog factory. Who knew French Lick's real industry!

2.  The place was gorgeous. I LOVE elegant old hotels and both of the hotels that are part of the French Lick Resort were lovely. You felt like you were on vacation as soon as you walked in– good thing as we were barely there for 24 hours. Here are some shots. Most of these were taken Saturday evening as I was too busy during the day. It was still very balmy with the smell of spring in the air. A light drizzle gave the cobblestones a romantic sheen. Quite lovely.

There is a gorgeous, early turn of the century, restored trolley that makes a regular ten minute run between the two hotels.

You could think Paris, spring time, 1920. I was surprised to find this in modern day Indiana, but I much appreciated the mood and change of scene from Michigan.

When we got back we had a lovely dinner at one of the resort restaurants, The Power Plant. We had the house speciality– fall apart, melt in your mouth, swiss steak with mushroom demi-glace. I actually thought to take a picture... well, after just one bite.

3.  But Kathleen, you were at a bloggers retreat! Where is the blogger part?

Here's how I spent the day. I had no idea what to expect really, but there was a lot of networking, tons of prizes given away, and mini roundtable discussions on many topics. I went to several sessions– TPT, Pinterest, Silhouette, and alternative classroom seating. It was a good opportunity to meet other bloggers and hear from those who have been particularly successful.

The retreat's theme
The theme came from the 1980s movie, Flashdance– appropriate on many levels, given the enthusiastic crowd and the fact that there was a 1980s theme party for us on Saturday night.

Greg from The Kindergarten Smorgasboard was someone who I bumped into several times... quite literally as we sat back to back at our respective tables. He gave the session I attended on kindergarten seating and I also managed to end up with his item at the teacher gift exchange.

Funny story- when we were on the way to the retreat I told Jonathan that there was reportedly a lot of loot to be had at this event. When the musical chairs-style gift exchange dropped Greg's gift in my lap, I could see right away what it was- Greg might be into glitter but he's not into gift tissue...

I got his infamous glue sponges, made by his very own busy little hands. It's lucky I had only thought about making these, but had never got around to it.

Anyway, I was sure if Jonathan doubted I was actually with kindergarten teachers all day, he would know for sure when I got back to the room with this booty. What I didn't expect when I pulled them out of the bag was for him to say, "Oh, good, pink Krispy Treats!" The man sees cookies everywhere.

It was great meeting Greg, even if just over glue sponges.

Here are some of my tablemates and new teacher friends from Tennessee, incognito.

They are Tiffany, Holly, Alysia, and Rayann and you can check out their Teacher Talk 4 channel here. They do really fun stuff and have an enviable friendship.

Here I am with a couple of famous-to-some TPT staffers, Nicole and Amy... I felt a little foolish taking this picture. I am probably one of TPT's smallest accounts, with most of my stuff being free– teachers do indeed download it though, so you should check it out here.  I agreed to the photo shoot so I'm ready for the day when I DO make my millions. snort.

4.  And as for my night? Well, after we got back from my trolley ride and dinner I headed down to the 80s party. It was fun planning what I would wear before I left home. I don't know if I should be so honest as to admit that I didn't have to buy a thing to put together my outfit. I was young and with-it in the 80s, thank you very much. I did have to dig deep into my second wardrobe, granted, but my packrat self throws very little away. And I was grateful that feet don't grow as much as the rest of you does, and that I have always enjoyed stretchy waistbands, because they allowed things to still fit. Here I am complete with Esprit sneaks, lace bottomed leggins, polkadot skirt, ripped sweatshirt, Madonna lace gloves and Boy-George-Debbie-Gibson hat. I also am wearing my big neon dangle earrings and old Mickey Mouse watch.

80s Style was not a problem

Greg was the hit of the party as he channeled Richard Simmons.

And I managed to capture him and Chad from Male Kindergarten Teacher as they flashdanced the night away.

I have definite shoe envy of those light-ups on Chad's feet. I am one kindergarten teacher who could seriously use those shoes... I could alternate them with my sequined Hello Kitty mary janes.

If you want to see what Greg and Chad are all about, and it's not just dancing, click below.

5.  Now here is a bit on teacher stuff! My stars were not aligned well in the prize department actually. I was the ONLY one from my table of six that did not win a raffle prize. They walked away with jewelry, props (as seen in the picture above), pencil sharpeners, and even free registration to a conference. I was really miffed fine with that, though, because we all got a nice bag of loot... even me!

A Vera Bradley bag, an ABC Mouse tote, and a variety of paper stuff and coupons for downloading, even Udderly Smooth cream. I was most excited by the Kwik Stix paints– have you seen those yet? Paint in a glue stick crayon form that dries in 90 seconds. Dying to try them.

I was also surprisingly happy to get those little purple umbrella cut-outs used for calendar numbers. Years ago I had them on my calendar when the cleaning crew came in at spring break. They shampood my carpet... right over a couple of umbrellas that had fallen off the calendar board. I will finally be able to replace them with nice looking ones.

Here is the whole list of sponsors for the retreat:




The Pencil Grip, Scentsy, Origami Owl, Younique, Silly McGilly, Stella and Dot, DoTerra Oils, Coker Mugs, Doodle Bugs Paper, Twinkle Twinkle Little Jar, Udderly Smooth and more!

I thank each one for all the goodies they provided to us!

I was very happy to see the HUE camera animation kit as a raffle prize. It's been on my wishlist for a while. I have a document camera at school, but what I really want to do is stop-motion animation, which HUE's Animation Kit, along with the HUE camera, is great for. You can see some examples here. We were given five raffle tickets to use for prizes and I put all five of mine in the HUE basket. I didn't win, as I said earlier, but something else pretty wonderful happened. I can HAVE an animation kit if I do a review, and I can have another one to GIVE AWAY!! As in, give to YOU! The HUE company is wonderful to offer these things and I so appreciate it.

And that's not all. I have the camera AND two different neat books, one from Flashlight Press and one from Usborne, that are also going to be in upcoming give-aways! Yep, my first ever give-aways– three in the next six weeks. My goal is to increase readership. Any followers will be able to put their name in the virtual hat. My current small numbers of readers is good news for you, actually, because you'll have a better chance of winning. You can sign up right now, either via email or Bloglovin, so you'll hear about the upcoming giveaways as I post them. Keep your eyes peeled! Somebody's gotta win, so why not you?

Whew, a lot going on, eh? Hope this post gave you some idea of what can happen at a blogger retreat, and some idea of what I've been up to. Anyone can come to a retreat- you don't have to be a blogger, just a blog stalker and I hope you'll consider coming to next year's retreat. MUCH thanks goes to Holly at Mrs. Ehle's Kindergarten Connections. She was the VERY busy person who organized the wonderful event. Visit her blog here to read more.

Thanks for stopping by! Click on back to Five for Friday for more!

See you soon!

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