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Monarch Butterfly Way Station, Too Much Rain, Love my Family, A Milestone Birthday, and Five for Friday

Hello Friends!
I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday. It is the last Five For Friday for awhile because Kacey will be taking a well deserved break for a few weeks in July. I hope that most of you are finished with school and ready for YOUR well deserved break! I have been out of school since June 3 and am heavily into a more relaxed schedule; although, thoughts of school continue to find their way into my brain. I actually get some of my most creative thoughts when working in my garden or taking a long walk!

1.  For those of you who follow my blog, you know that each summer, I work in our school garden. I have struggled for years trying to figure out just how to make this meaningful to our students. We are a K-8 school in Illinois. This means, of course, that our growing season is in the summer when school is not in session. I have tried to start a Garden Club, but our kids are SO busy in the summer and with unpredictable weather, it just did not work. I tried working with Girls Scouts, our local 4H club, and just a few families. All work out well for a year, but when the next year comes, the interest is not there; usually because kids have moved on to other activities. So, this Fall, my principal handed me a grant proposal for starting a way station for Monarch butterflies. I got really excited about the idea, but sadly, I missed the deadline for turning in the proposal. This did not stop me, though, from continuing to put thought into the possibility of making this little garden into a way station. 

The life cycle of the Monarch butterfly has always been fascinating to me. The caterpillars ONLY eat the leaves of the milkweed plant. The milkweed plant has become endangered due to the herbicides being sprayed upon crop plants, so it is becoming increasingly difficult for female Monarchs to find a place in which to lay her eggs. Lucky for me, though, my husband and son actually ENCOURAGE the growth of milkweeds in a spot in our apple orchard. You can see here that we have some really healthy milkweed plants. (Can you see the little apples growing on the branches, too?)

 So, a few weeks ago, I asked my husband and son if we could try to transplant some of those milkweed plants into our little school garden. My son, who is EXTREMELY environmentally conscious thought it was a great idea, so armed with a spade and a HUGE bucket, we carefully scooped out the root ball of 3 milkweed plants and brought them back to school. They have struggled a bit adjusting to their new environment, but I THINK that they are going to survive. We also have planted flowers that (hopefully) will attract butterflies to the garden. I planted yellow cone flowers, Menarda, a butterfly bush, zinnias, larkspur, Chives, Sage, Lantana, Tickseed, and a few more that I cannot remember. I also planted seeds for pumpkins and sunflowers. Now, we just need the butterflies!

 2. This winter, I remember missing the sun and I am beginning to feel the same way again.... We have SO much rain and although, wonderful for my garden, I am missing a really hot summer day.....

3.  Besides gardening, I have been enjoying spending time with my family. This is Father's Day... love these people!

4.  My son and I have been enjoying cooking. We both are big whole foods people, so we are having fun exploring new tastes and flavor combinations.

5.  Lastly, I hit a big milestone birthday this year. I have been repressing the thought that I have now become one of those teachers who people start to wonder when they will retire. The funny thing is, though, that retiring is not even close to my mindset yet. I feel like I am at the top of my game and continue to have so much to give. I have never been one of those teachers who pulls out my lesson plan book from the year before and just re-copies the words written there. I read professionally in the summer, re-write old units, and network with the wonderful teachers I have met on line and those that are in my "real" life. I keep my body healthy by exercising regularly and watching my diet. My age has never defined who I am, so I have got to let go of this feeling that I am becoming too old to do what I love to do.... So.... I thought that MAYBE if I share a photograph of who I am now (wrinkles and all) , it might help me rejoice in the person I am and feel joy in the fact that I am blessed to be who I am and that I share a face with my beautiful mother.... Age is just a number, right?

Click the link below to read more Five for Friday stories!
Until next time!


Fun Water/Ocean Projects That Can Be Found on Blog Hoppin!

Hello Friends,

I am being a bit lazy this week with blogging and am re-directing you to a post I wrote for Blog Hoppin today. As you can see from my post on Blog Hoppin, I have been busy doing all those tasks that I did NOT do during the school year, so my blogging/TPT work has taken a back seat for awhile! Click the image below to take you to Blog Hoppin and I am hoping that you are either enjoying your summer break or will be there soon!

Take care, my friends!


Tips To a Kindergarten Teacher FROM a Kindergarten Teacher

 Hello Friends,
I am linking up with Mary at Sharing Kindergarten with helpful tips for  kindergarten teachers. Mary shared some really wonderful tips on her blog and I am adding a few of my own.....


I truly believe that a kindergarten kid is up for anything that you ask him/her to do. The biggest hurdle you have, though, is making sure that you prepare them for the task. Discussing and practicing a tough task are keys to making sure that your kinders feel success in what they encounter.


Kindergarten kids love and need a schedule. Just as I wrote above that they can do anything, they do it best when they know what is happening and when an activity will begin and end. Kindergarten kids AND their teachers crave order!


This is such an important thing to remember! Kindergarten kids are still LITTLE and little kids learn by doing. Give them paint and glue, glitter, Play Dough,  tape,  crayons and feathers... the list goes on and on. Let them get gooey and sticky and messy. Kindergarten kids need to see, hear, and touch their learning experiences. They NEED to create because it is through creating that they learn.


I am so blessed to teach in a school that allows our kindergarten kids the opportunity to play. Play has been taken out of so many kindergarten classes and it is not a positive move. If you are a kindergarten teacher, give your kids play time everyday. It is through play that our little ones learn how the world works. When play is taken away, our kinders have no place in which to understand how to co-exist in a world that can seem giant and scary. Play gives our kids the confidence to engage others in conversation, share supplies, and accept the differences of others.

So, those are a few tips from me to help make your kindergarten year successful. Click the images below to read some awesome and helpful tips from really amazing kindergarten teachers!

Until next time, my friends!

Teachers and Summer Break.....

Hello Friends!

Yesterday, I said good-bye to my kinders and closed up my classroom for the summer.  What a bittersweet day it was! On the one hand, I was overjoyed that I was finally able to take some time to relax and rejuvenate. This has truly been one of my most challenging years. On the other hand, though, what a joy it is to think back to August and place that next to the growth I saw this month! To be able to make an impact in the life of another human being - despite the fact that they are 6 years old - is an incredible feeling and one that I cherish every year! As teachers, we know how much the slightest word or gesture can affect a child. The climate that we create in our classrooms is key to what we can accomplish. If our students know that we care about them, they will try their hardest to do the tasks in which we ask of them. But if we are stiff and immobile and unwilling to conform to their needs, they will know that and our educational goals for them will probably not be reached. I know that I spend every evening and part of my weekends, preparing for the next day re-evaluating what worked and what did not, tweaking plans to make sure that the needs of all my students are met. Despite the fact that I have over 20 years of experience teaching kindergarten, I continue to question my methods and my curriculum.

I have had friends who have left teaching because it is too much work; too much stress. They have told me that they have no time for themselves; that they feel used and unappreciated. So, they leave for a job or profession that gives them more time to be themselves. I actually find this a bit ironic in the fact that our profession as teachers is ALWAYS blasted for the time we do NOT teach. Many jokes are made on the fact that teachers only work for 9 months a year, that our school day ends at 3:00 p.m., and that our pay should reflect the fact that we only work 9 months a year. As teachers, we KNOW, though, that in the 9-10 months that we are in our classsrooms, we actually put in TWELVE  months of work during that time frame.  Teachers work as hard as everyone else; we just do our year in 9 months. We do not get paid for overtime. We do not get compensated for the tears or the bumps and cuts that we soothe every day.  We stay up until midnight putting finishing touches on End of Year Scrapbooks and then get up at 6:00 a.m. to  face our students with a smile on our face. We go to seminars, read professionally, and keep up on new technology so that we can keep up with the ever changing trends that occur locally, nationally, and around the world. We give our time to attend school events after hours; some of us coach - many of whom VOLUNTEER their time with no monetary compensation. We tutor after school......

Yes, my friends, teaching IS a lot of work and if you are not willing to put in the time, this should probably not be your career of choice. Teachers DO get a few months off in the summer, but let me tell you, my friends, MOST teachers are NOT spending all their days putting up their feet and sipping Margaritas. Most teachers are preparing for the next school year creating new plans, laminating centers, reading professionally. Even when we are on a vacation, our brains are inspired by what we see, smell, and hear. We are  thinking things like "How can I use these shells in my teaching? What can I do with them to make learning real to my students?" Many of us take part in on line book studies; collaborating with each other throughout the summer searching for ways to make our classrooms inspiring for our new crop of students. Even when we are doing simple summer tasks such as gardening, we run to get our camera to take a picture of the unique insect we just saw on a leaf so that we can bring this experience to our classroom. We are CONSTANTLY in teaching mode; even when we are on summer break...... Just as the image above says "Every summer has a story." We, as teachers, create stories every summer; eagerly anticipating the day when we can share them with our students and co-workers.

Of course, we are creating stories for ourselves, too; stories that we probably will NOT share with our students! We DO need this time to step away from teaching.  We need time to do mindless tasks such as washing windows or working in our gardens. We need time to take long walks or hikes. We need time to play in the park with our kids without worrying that we won't have time to get those tests graded or that center laminated. We need time to not have to schedule every minute in our day; to not stress over the fact that a school assembly is cutting into our literacy time and we have no idea how we are going to get that time back.

Our brains need this time to re-boot; to take a short break from it because before we know it, we will be asked to start all over again.  For we will be asked, once again, to stimulate the minds of young learners and I for one, know that when that time comes, I will be up for the challenge. But for now... I am going to take some time creating my own summer story, do mindless tasks such as organizing my house, painting a room, de-cluttering my garage, and trying new recipes.

Yesterday, I closed up my classroom, said good-bye to my students, and walked away with a feeling of a job well-done. Yes, teaching IS hard work, but if you are up for the challenge, it is a profession like no other and teachers NEED this short break given to us....... Enjoy this time, my teacher friends.... Make your own summer story....... You have earned it!

Now... it's time to get going on that organization....... :)

Until next time!


A Few Activities to Keep Your Kiddos Going for These Last Few Weeks of School and Five for Friday!

Hello Friends!

The countdown has begun! We have four days with our kiddos and then 2 more days with teachers and then..... woo hoo..... summer break! Truly, I LOVE to teach, but at this time of year, I really, really need the break. It's hard to say good-bye to all those little ones that have been such a big part of my life, but they are ready to move on and I feel proud to send them onto first grade knowing they have been given the skills necessary to start!

So.... I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday. I thought I would share a few activities that we did this week. You know those last few days when your kiddos are soooo ready to be done, but YOU still have to keep them going? Here are a couple of things that we did....

1.  This subtraction project is a favorite of mine. I LOVE attaching paper and glue to core subjects and this is one that I have done often at this time of year. Since we just finished our Oviparous Animal unit, the kids have much knowledge of eggs AND since it is spring, the birds in our area are laying their eggs, so this was a perfect project to do this week. The directions were to create a nest, 3-6 paper eggs, and a "Mama" bird. They then had to decide how many eggs hatched in their nest and how many did not hatch. Here are few examples of what they came with.... (I have the templates for this craftivity FREE in my store which you can find HERE. )

2.  Our chicks hatched this week!

 I love this picture... Look at those little hands touching the box.... so cute!

3.  Our Painted Lady Butterflies also hatched last week..... I am so glad that they hatched first because once the chicks arrived, the butterflies were not quite as fun......

4.  Here is a REALLY cute butterfly collage sequencing book. There IS some prep with this project. The kids have to pre-paint their paper and it needs to have a day to dry. We read tons of Eric Carle books and notice his art. Then we discuss the life cycle of a butterfly and the kids create the stages with their painted paper. I absolutely LOVE the way these books look when they are finished!

5.  Finally, we are working on our Ocean posters. I am not sure if we will be able to finish them all before the end of the year, but these seashore/tide pool posters look pretty cool!

The resource for these Ocean posters can be found HERE.

Make sure you check out these super Five for Friday posts by clicking the image below!