Thursday, April 16, 2015

What a Difference One Month can Make!

I feel like I just posted Ambree Kate's two-month update, and here were are again with another month gone by. It has certainly been a busy month, though! This little girl continues to captivate us as she grows and changes a little bit every day. Check out the difference a month has made…

Isn't that incredible?!?

Here's a quick recap of this past month!

I went back to work. It really was a bittersweet experience because I was so glad to see my sweet students again, but leaving our little girl has been pretty rough. I won't lie; there were tears shed. However, walking into my classroom to find this precious "Welcome Back" sign waiting for me made the first day back a little better.

And coming home to do this every day is definitely an experience that I am treasuring.

This little girl seems to be full of smiles these days! She loves to coo, and she is rather expressive. I can't get enough of these smiles.

She has become far more aware of her surroundings in the past month. She loves the mobile on her crib. At first, we just let her spend a little time there each day to get used to it, but it wasn't long before she was ready for new sleeping space at night. So she has now transitioned to sleeping in her crib through the nights.

Her first night was quite an adventure, though. She had a blast wiggling, scooting, and kicking around. The sleeping part came later…

We took her to church for the first time. She did so well during the service! Going to church as a family is such a precious experience. We took our first "family" pictures after the service.

Last, but certainly not least, Ambree Kate also experienced her first Easter this month. I love taking this sweet baby to church, but there was something extra special about having her there on such a holy day. It will be years before she comes to fully understand the reason we celebrate Easter, but this mama felt extra blessed to start sharing the occasion with her now.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Easy-to-Make Alphabet Knowledge Activity

A fellow teacher shared this easy-to-make resource with me. It's pretty self-explanatory, but all you need to create it is a cookie sheet, masking tape (I used a cute washi tape), and magnetic letters. You can see the way I structured the board in the picture below.

You can use it several ways, but basically, this activity helps develop alphabet knowledge as students arrange the letters in order, with a vowel beginning each row. You can begin with a completely empty board, or you can place the vowels and have the students arrange all consonants. Once they have arranged the letters, extend the exercise by questioning students about which consonants follow each vowel, but ask about the vowels in a random order. Have students touch each letter as they name it to further enhance the multi-sensory experience.

Extend use with this tool by continuing to use these letters in a dictation exercise, (particularly with basic CVC words). Students pull out the letters they need, arrange the letters to spell the words, and then place the words back on the board in the correct positions.

Another tip: help diminish confusion of reversals of similar letters by drawing a dot at the top of each letter. This helps students see which direction each letter should face, so they are less likely to confuse those b/d, m/w, p/q pairs.

Monday, April 6, 2015

On the Menu: Coconut Oil Biscuits

Okay, friends, I have a new "healthy" obsession: Gimme Some Oven has an incredible recipe for 3-ingredient Coconut Oil Biscuits, and you have to check it out. This is one of those recipes that I pinned ages ago, but just recently actually got around to baking, and I really wish I had tried them sooner. These biscuits are so tasty, and they really are three-ingredients-easy to make. You get the made-from-scratch, clean-eating experience without much hassle at all. I get to make just enough of a mess with these biscuits (a big enough mess to feel like I've done something significant in the kitchen, but not so much that I am afraid to attempt the recipe again…)

I'm intentionally leaving the recipe out of this post so you will visit her blog and get all of the information there. I promise it's worth the online trip! Also, if you want to save the information, please make sure you pin from Gimme Some Oven, rather than any of my images. Have fun!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Now Available: Beginning Consonant Blends Mega-Pack

The Beginning Consonant Blends MegaPack: Bingo, Stories, Poems, Sorts, & Much More! is now available in the Tally Tales TPT store. I intended to share details about this product a couple of months ago, when I actually finished it, but that didn't quite happen. This blends mega pack is the biggest product I have created so far, and I am excited to share a few details about it here.

In all, it contains activities that include s-blends, r-blends, l-blends, w-blends, and trigraphs (you may refer to them as clusters). All of the activities within the product range in difficulty, so the entire packet would be useful, whether you are working with beginning readers who are just starting to learn about blends, or with more advanced readers who need extended practice or review. I really wanted to create a product that would provide options for use with a variety of age groups or learning styles. I intend to use it myself, and since I work with students of all ages, I need products that are easily adaptable or differentiated.

Here are details and preview images of some of the activities available within this product.
  • Word list reference guides for each blend type as well as flashcards with images and text blends beneath each image
  •  Bingo games for each blend type with materials (spinners and game cards) for up to four players
  • Picture cards for a blend matching activity that may be used with either clothespins or dry-erase markers (if laminated) 
  •  Cut-and-paste practice pages
  • Sorting activities and tree map organizers on which students can record results from the sorts.
  •  Differentiated reading passages that feature each blend type.
I think I am most pleased with the reading passages. I composed them all myself, and once again, they are differentiated to meet the needs of readers at various stages of development. Short poetry samples are included for younger or more dependent readers, while longer reading passages are more suitable for intermediate readers. I also included drill word cards that correspond to each reading passage. This is intended to provide an opportunity for students to practice fluency with beginning blends within a reading context, thereby extending application slightly beyond isolated blend activities.

If interested, you can access this entire packet here! As always, if you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to share those with me. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

2 Months Already!?!

Ambree Kate is now two months old! I can't believe it. It's strange, because in a way, it seems like it was so long ago that we brought her home, but at the same time, it seems as though there is no way she could possibly be two months old already. Having a baby has been quite a life-altering experience, but I would expect nothing less of such a sweet little miracle. Here are a few updates on our sweet baby girl and her second month of life here.

The weather has been surprisingly wintery here in northeast Mississippi this year. We have had multiple snowy/icy days around here. I did not bundle Ambree Kate up to take her out in the cold, but she did watch the snow fall from inside the warm house.

We have enjoyed some sweet cuddle time. I cannot believe my maternity leave is almost over. I don't know how I'll manage a whole workday without being about to kiss this sweet girl.

This girl loves her bath time. She just looks around and enjoys that warm water. I like bundling her up in her towel afterward… such sweet moments!

I think she is already a daddy's girl, and I wouldn't have it any other way! It is such a sweet thing to see your husband as a father. Russ is incredible with Ambree Kate, and some of my most priceless moments have been spent watching him tend to her.

Braxton has adjusted well to having Ambree Kate at home. He watches over her and checks on her when she cries. I think they will be good buddies in the not-so-distant future.

Now, this is my favorite part of the update. Do you see the start of this chubby little leg roll? This is a recent development. After having so much trouble with baby reflux, transitioning to formula (we had to use a soy formula), and struggling with weight gain, I am proud to share that Ambree Kate is finally beginning to gain a little weight! We are on our last pack of newborn diapers, and we have actually had to put away some of the newborn outfits because they have gotten too snug. Needless to say, I am pretty proud of that chubby little leg!

All in all, this little girl is full of life- wiggles, kicks, smiles, and all! Happy 2-month birthday, sweet girl!