Goals & Resolutions for the New Year

Now that I've spent some time reflecting on 2013, it's time to start looking ahead to 2014.  In the past, I've made some very lofty resolutions.   In fact, they were so ridiculous that I thought this was highly appropriate:

Please tell me I'm not the only one who has done this.

Luckily I've grown up (a little) since then.  Now I try to make my goals are measurable and that I can actually work towards achieving them without giving up by the 3rd week of January. 

I've been thinking about my goals for a few weeks now & luckily I found out that Jessica over at First Grade Nest is hosting a linky for everyone to share their goals - perfect timing!

Most of my goals are building off of goals I have made in the past.  One of the biggest accomplishments I have made this year is being more efficient at school.  It came out of necessity when we had to change daycare providers and I learned that I would have to leave almost 30 min. earlier from school each day.  Luckily, my hubby has been able to do pick-up most days and I have still been able to get home earlier and start dinner.

I know my goals are within my reach.  I just need someone to check in with me on them every once in awhile to see how things are going. 

Thirteen in '13

It's time to join up with Miss Kindergarten, A Teeny Tiny Teacher and Dragonflies in First for their Thirteen in '13 Linky Party! 

I'm at my best when I'm comfy and cozy.  Therefore jeans and a hoodie would have to be my favorite!

Since we canceled our Netflix account, I've only watched TV movies.  I just finished reading The Book Thief and I heard the movie is out in theaters.  Anyone see it? 


How I Met Your Mother has been my favorite since episode 1.  I can't believe we're in the home stretch now.  Luckily Modern Family is still on and keeps me entertained each week.  I love that both are in syndication so I can watch re-runs on weekends and school breaks.

My favorite local restaurant is Silver City Brewery.  My favorite national chain is Red Robin (Yum).

I'm a little late to the party, but I have arrived.  This year I bought my first two pairs of TOMS and started wearing tall boots. 

I am blessed with a wonderful family and fantastic friends.  I could never choose which gift was my favorite.

I have loved everything I've pinned to my Future Craft Room board.  This has been a vision years in the making and I'm so excited to start making it a reality.  We will be building a new house next year and I get my own craft room/office.  It's gotten to the point where I've had very vivid dreams of what the room will look like.  Last night's dream had the room painted a medium to deep gray on the walls.  There were white built-ins on the walls.  There were light gray and yellow accents everywhere.  I think it was in honor of my alma mater since I haven't thought of decorating with yellow at all.

I have two...Pencil Sharpener & Laminator Lovehttp://storiesbystorie.blogspot.com/2013/06/trust-meit-worked-now-you-can-win-one.htmlhttp://storiesbystorie.blogspot.com/2013/08/laminator-love.html

I reached brand new milestones this year in my Teachers Pay Teachers adventure.  I have set small goals and each time I meet one of those goals, I aim just a bit higher.  I had one goal in mind to reach by the end of 2013.  I am super close, but I know that if I don't reach it in the next couple of days I'll reach it soon in 2014.

We bought land this year & as I mentioned earlier, will be building this coming year.  It has incredible mountain views and I cannot wait!

My little Cinderella.

I've said it before and I will say it again until I feel like I have it.  I need more balance.  Life can pull me in so many different directions.  I feel obligated to give and give and give until I realize I don't really have anything left to give.  Instead, I'm taking away from something else that is a bigger priority.  I'm a work in progress.


Random Acts of Kindness for Sandy Hook

As educators, we remember and honor our fallen colleagues and their students from Sandy Hook School.  We honor them each day in our classrooms in which we continue their dream of teaching our children.  We honor their memory with our service.  Join with teachers everywhere in committing random acts of kindness to show our love for Sandy Hook.
A year ago so many were taken too early.  I can remember being told what had happened and being devastated and shocked that such a tragedy could happen to so many innocent children and teachers. I couldn't wait to go home and hug my little girl.

Getting to Know Me, the Christmas Version


I always see different questionnaires floating around in the blogosphere or on Facebook and often choose not to participate.  In the spirit of Christmas and getting back into blogging, I thought this would be a great way to let my readers into a little piece of my world and heart.  So here goes:

Hot Chocolate or Eggnog? 
Hands down, it's hot chocolate!  I enjoy a little splurge on a peppermint hot chocolate or sea salt caramel hot chocolate from Starbucks.

Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them underneath the tree? 
When I was a little girl, most of Santa's gifts were unwrapped right by the fireplace on Christmas morning.  This will be my little girl's third Christmas.  For her first two, all of her presents were wrapped.  As my little girl gets bigger, I think Santa might have a hard time wrapping some of the larger items.

Colored lights or white? 
I grew up with colored lights on the tree and on the house.  I think the white lights are so pretty, though.  My favorite outside lights on houses are the white icicle lights.

When do you decorate? 
We usually decorate the first weekend after Thanksgiving.  I think this was the first year we had everything up and ready to go before December 1st, though.

Real or Fake Tree? 
I grew up with a fake tree and never knew anything different.  My husband grew up with real trees.  In our first apartment, we did a real tree.  When we moved into our house, we got a fake tree and have used it ever since.

What Tops Your Tree?
We have a silver star that lights up.  It's not my favorite, but we've had it all these years and just never got around to replacing it.

Favorite Christmas Memories or Traditions?
I always looked forward to doing advent calendars.  When I was growing up, my mom had hand-made calendars.  Several years ago I bought two calendars for us.  One has really worked out well and the other isn't my favorite because it isn't very practical.  Last year I bought an additional calendar for my daughter.  It has little wooden doors that open up.  Each day her elf, Candy Cane, brings her candy from the North Pole.  This year I bought two more.  If you're counting, that's five calendars for 3 people - yikes!

Now, when I was little I wasn't always a perfect angel.  I can remember one Christmas my sister and I were running around the house and we accidentally bumped the tree.  It fell over onto the couch and we quickly had to try to piece everything back together.  I also remember unwrapping one of my sister's gifts under the tree and trying to wrap it back up before anyone found out I peeked.  Whoops!

Do you remember your favorite gift as a child? 
Nothing really sticks out as a favorite from my childhood. 

Do prefer giving or receiving? 
Definitely giving, especially to younger children.  As I've gotten older, I have found I'm not really fond of surprises under the Christmas tree and probably show it all over my face.  I think I'm getting to an age where I want it to be all about the kids rather than the adults.

What is your favorite Christmas song? 
I love singing Jingle Bells and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer with my daughter.  I love listening to Silent Night and O' Holy Night.

Candy Canes. Yuck or Yum? 
They're yummy if they are the traditional peppermint flavor.  I'm not crazy about all the weird flavor and color combos they have these days.

Favorite Christmas Movie? 
Christmas Vacation - this movie NEVER gets old.  I can watch it every year (more than once) and still laugh like crazy.

Do you shop online or at stores?
Mostly online, but sometimes I will go into the stores for the little things.  I'm not a fan of all the impatient and rude shoppers.  Amazon is my favorite store :)

Photo Cards, Letter or Store Bought Card? 
All of the above!  I give props to all the families that can get them sent out every year.  We managed to do a photo card last year.  I loved it, but I just couldn't find the time to fit it all in this year.

Ho-Ho-Holiday Gifts & a Christmas Freebie

I originally posted about our holiday gifts last year (see post here).  I've come to the conclusion that we're making them again, as long as I can get the same ornaments. 

These were SUPER easy to make and are definitely cute (in my opinion).  They are clear glass ornaments that I found at a craft store.  They are not round like a sphere, but have more of a flat surface.  The tops came off and a parent helped stuff them with cotton batting (cotton balls would probably work, too).  Then the kids used black and orange sharpie markers to make a snowman face.

  If not, it's back to the {Pinterest} drawing board for a new idea.

And now for the freebie.  I've been offering up a new word search for most of the major holidays.  I thought it was time to get one together for Christmas since my kiddos will be working on it next week.  Here's your chance to grab it.  If you choose to download, I'd love to hear your feedback on it.  Thanks!


Meet Brownie & Rocks, Our Class Pets

Have you ever had the best intentions of seeing a project all the way through only to give up too early?  Well, that's what happened to me last year with our class pets.  Last summer I wrote a post about my intentions.  My kiddos started writing letters, but really struggled.  So, I let the idea slip away.

This year's class requires me to be on my toes all day long.  I'm constantly looking for something new to motivate their little minds.  They have really caught onto letter writing and are enjoying the process.  These cute little puppies were still staring at me day after day and I just knew it would inspire my budding writers.

First, my students received a letter from me letting them know I was getting a class pet.  The students practiced responding to the questions I asked in my letter.  One of the questions asked the kids to explain what they would do with the class pet if they got to take one home.

The next step was naming these cute little pups.  Every student had the opportunity to name both pets.  My rules were the names couldn't be of classmates and they had to be appropriate.  I had the final say and chose Brownie and Rocks because they seemed to be the most fitting names.
After that I introduced the journals to the students: 

Finally, it was time to reveal who Brownie and Rocks had chosen to go home with.  You could have heard a pin drop!  We agreed upon some safety rules.  The pups could go home for one or two nights.  Students had to keep the pups safe and as clean as possible.  The third rule was you have to record your adventures with the pups.  Here are some of the adventures the pups have had:

Now, other than the basic rules, there is quite a bit of freedom with this assignment.  In fact, Brownie has been dressed up twice, but only for pictures.

As of today, Rocks now has a cape to wear.  A little boy in our class recently had to put his dog to sleep.  His dog used to have some outfits (a very tiny dog, obviously).  He really wanted Rocks to have the cape his dog used to wear. 

Also, a little girl took the time to build a little bed for Brownie and Rocks, but I forgot to snap a picture of it before the next student took the pup home.

Every time the pups return to class, the students can't wait to read their adventures and find out which letter has been chosen next.  For now, Brownie is traveling home with the girls and Rocks with the boys.  Once we rotate through the class, the students will write a second letter.  During the second round, the girls will take Rocks home and the boys will take Brownie home. 

This is probably one of their favorite homework assignments and I'm so glad I chose to follow through with it this year!

December Currently & I'm Back

It's a bit frightening to admit that I have let almost 3 months go by without typing a word on this little blog of mine.  I wish I could say that I went on a great trip or have taken time off to be with my little one.  Sadly, school and life have kept me super busy and I just haven't been able to move blogging to the top of my priority list.

The last time I blogged was the day before school started.  I met my little munchkins and I have to admit, they drain my energy each and every day.  I have 24 students and they are a very high energy, high needs group...ALL....DAY....LONG!  I think I spent the first two weeks of school crying in my classroom during recess breaks, or holding it all in and having a complete meltdown of tears at home.  I have never had a class that didn't respond to my entire bag of tricks before and I must say, classroom management is one of my strengths.

After 3 long, tiring months of routines and high expectations, there are moments that I think they are finally responding and coming along.  Tis' the season for change and I'm going to try to be a better blogger for the next few months.  Bear with me as I dive back in.  I have little moments to celebrate and those keep me coming back each day.  I'll try to share some of those celebrations along the way, but for now let's focus on what you came here to read....The December Currently.


I couldn't believe it when it was only mid-November and Christmas was creeping into my little world.  First, it was the series of Christmas movies and previews on TV.  Then it was a Christmas song playing on the radio on the drive home.  Is it just me, or does the song "Christmas Shoes" get everyone else, too?  Now, that the calendar page has turned, I'm excited to choose my Christmas playlist.  It's funny how just a few days can make a huge difference.

I bought a new advent calendar last year.  It is a wooden house.  Inside is a series of doors that open, one for each day.  Last year my daughter was 1 1/2, so old enough to grasp the concept, but young enough that we could only put one treat inside each day or we feared she would gorge on the treats!  Yesterday we decorated the house.  When that calendar was pulled out, she immediately searched inside each and every door looking for a treat.  She then continued to "double check" every hour from then on.  It's a fun age to see that memories are beginning to stick.

My husband is a hard guy to surprise.  We're the kind of people that buy things as we need them instead of stocking up our Christmas lists.  Last year I came up with an entire year worth of gifts (one a month all through 2013).  He really liked it.  This year I'm stumped on how to top it.

Who doesn't want more time with their family.  We spent Thanksgiving with my in-laws.  It's always nice to see family and watch the kids play together.  I also enjoyed listening to my nephew read.  He's a first grader and is already reading the Magic Tree House books - one of my favorite series!

Like I said, my heart is full.  I spent time with my in-laws for Thanksgiving and will see my side of the family for Christmas.  It doesn't get much better than that :)

Favorite Tradition
I like our home, but I really love it during the month of December.  Our family room is the main area we decorate.  It also happens to be the room I spend the most time in.  It fills my heart with joy & keeps me in the Christmas spirit every time I see our decorations.

When I was little I had an ornament that I named Boppy.  My family loves to tell the story about how that is the one and only ornament I would take off the tree day after day, year after year when I was a little girl.  Last year I hung Boppy near the bottom of the tree.  My daughter went straight for it and kept pulling it off the tree.  It made my heart melt :)

Well, that's plenty to get me back in the swing of things.  Enjoy your holiday season!  Head on over to Farley's blog to see what everyone else is up to.

Meet the Teacher & Supply Collection

Okay, I feel like I've dipped my toes in the water today.  We had our annual Meet the Teacher night.  This gives us a chance to meet our students and families the day before school starts.  This was probably the first year I've met 100% of my students.  I don't know who is more nervous - me or the students.
As teachers we know exactly how much time and effort goes into making our rooms look and feel ready before families see them.  My room is not completely camera ready, but I do plan to take some more pictures later this week or early next week when we have some items on the bare walls.  So for today I'm only going to share a couple of pictures.
The door is the first thing the families see as they enter the classroom:
After introductions (usually) the students find their desk.  On the desk, students will find the following:
Top - nametag with number line (I cut most of it out of the picture because of the student name).

Left - bag of Starbursts.  Our mascot is the Star.  The label says,
"Welcome 2nd grade STAR.  I am BURSTING with excitement that you are in our classroom this year."

Right - Supply List & Desk Note
The supply list contains a couple of items that are not on our generic grade level list.  The desk note serves two purposes.  First, it lets me know which desks need to be adjusted for height in the first few days of school.  Second, the students write their name on it so I can get a quick sense of their handwriting.

The next two pictures show the easiest way I have found to collect community supplies.  I label large grocery sized brown bags with the school supplies.  As the kids bring in the supplies, they just dump the community supplies in the bags.  I can put them away throughout the day where they really belong.

I have students stack the larger, bulkier items in the windowsill. 

The kids have a sharpened pencil, crayons, and colored pencils in their desks for now.  I will add supplies throughout the first two weeks, as needed.

Once I have met my students I begin labeling EVERYTHING with the name they will go by for the year (mailboxes, clothespins for the clip chart, book tubs, homework folders, check-in board, etc.).  In fact, I just realized that I forgot to label the birthday board.  Oops, that's one more item for the morning to-do list!

Well, it's time for this little lady to finalize my plans for tomorrow and set the alarm.  Routines & Procedures are at the top of the priority list.  Fingers crossed that I don't have tears or a lost student tomorrow!

September Currently

It's Labor Day and school is taking over my brain.  Here's what I have going on:

Since I started teaching, we have always started school the Wednesday after Labor Day.  In recent years we have met our students the day before school starts.  So tomorrow I will be meeting my kiddos and their families.  I'm excited and nervous at the same time.  I have so much to do before they arrive tomorrow!

Now, do you see that pink heart near the bottom of the image?  This month there is a love yourself section.  It's a place to pick things I'd like to accomplish this month.

I'm a bit of a workaholic.  I bring school work home about 90% of the time.  The good news is there are nights the work comes home and I never even touch it.  Good intentions, I guess.  I want to dedicate two nights a week to family.  This means I won't bring ANY school work home on those nights.  In a perfect world I could combine all three together, get it all done during the school day, and devote every night to family.  For now I will start small with two days a week.  Wish me luck!

Head on over to Farley's blog to see what everyone else is up to.

2 New Freebies & Dominoes for Days

Even though some of you have been back in the classroom for a week or two (and some of you for a month) I am in the middle of my work week.  I realized I haven't shared a freebie in awhile.  So, I set aside a little time to finish up a couple of word searches.  As usual, if you choose to download and enjoy these word searches, I would appreciate a little feedback.  Just click on the pictures below to get your copies.

I had several volunteers offer to proof my latest file.  I drew a number to decide who would help.  Thank you to Tania for being my extra set of eyes.  I hope you enjoy the activities with your students. 

These domino activities would be a great addition to a first or second grade classroom.  I am planning to start the year with these activities with my second graders to provide review and build fact fluency back up from summer loss.  Because second graders can complete them independently, they will be good practice for building stamina during our math rotations, too.  I plan to pair these games with my Keep on Rollin' dice packs.

In the picture above you can see the different title slides for the activities and the various sheets included.  I will print mine pages on cardstock paper and put into sheet protectors.  By doing this my students can use dry erase markers and the sheets should last all year.  Most of the activities include a cover page and a single sheet for the activity.  However, two activities (True or False? and What's Missing?) each contain four pages with answer keys.  These could be used in your math station or as worksheets for additional practice. 

I hope you find these useful :)
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