Wednesday, September 25, 2013

FALLing into Autumn

Happy Fall everyone!  I can't believe tomorrow is my two month wedding anniversary!  Time has been flying, which is crazy because I haven't exactly been very busy.  Hopefully subbing will speed up soon, and I think it just might because I have 4 different dates lined up at local elementary schools.  Hooray!

Onto talking about fall / Halloween.  The past two Octobers, Sam and I have visited a corn maze at a nearby farm with some of our best friends, K & J.  Unfortunately, almost all of our weekends are booked in October this year, so we had to visit the maze a little early and went last weekend, this time going with a larger group.  As always, we had the best time, and it was still WARM out. It was gorgeous! I absolutely love visiting this corn maze at night, trying to navigate the paths in the dark underneath a starry sky.  Every now and then someone from the farm pops out from behind a corner, or the boys drift off and reappear in the cornstalks, trying to scare us.  Afterwards, the farm hosts a large bonfire and hands out free apple cider and apple cider donuts.  This may be my very favorite fall activity!

Our traditional "Entering the Maze" photo!

 We found an eye...

 and a foot of the salamander shaped maze!

My favorite part of the corn maze is getting lost, of course!  I'm always excited to see this sign, even though I look completely panicked in the photo.  Haha!

On another note, I created another Halloween product for TPT today, Halloween Multiplication "I Have ... Who Has?".  This version of "I Have ... Who Has?" is parfait for the month of October (duhhh), and can be used as multiplication fact and word problem practice or review during Morning Meeting, math time, or a Halloween party. 

(Pictures updated as of October 19, 2014).

As I suggest on TPT and in the Teacher Directions, depending on your students’ level of expertise with multiplication facts, you might stop after every card is read and determine the matching number sentence for each word problem as a whole class.
For example, a child reads, “There are 5 witches and each casts 3 spells. How many spells did they cast together?”, so the class determines the appropriate sentence is “5x3”. At this point, all students may use a strategy or a multiplication chart to find the correct product together. Playing the game this way, is perfect for those kiddos who are just learning the concept of multiplication number sentences, equal groups, and/or are rusty on fact fluency. 

Hop on over to the activity here

I've gotta run so I can continue chowing down on more candy pumpkins!  I may or may not have eaten about 2/3 of a bag since yesterday.  Until next time, friends!

XO <3, C

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Puzzling Main Idea

Hey Fellow Teachers!

I'm dropping in to show you my newest creation.  I so would like to write about the really fun weekend I had, but I am just absolutely exhausted.  Not only have I been working on this creation for weeks, but I just spent hours adding the final touches!  I'm ready to be d-o-n-e.

 Here it is...The Puzzling Main Idea! Hooray!

I first mentioned it to you a few weeks ago when it was in a very rough state.  I feel great about the way it turned out!

This first activity involves reading The Important Book, by Margaret Wise Brown, and then creating a "Classroom Important Book".  The Important Book is a fabulous and most basic intro to the concept of main idea.

Three of the activities included are puzzle themed, as puzzle pieces are compared to details and a puzzle that has been solved or put together is compared to the main idea.  I love when reading skills and strategies can be made concrete and hands-on!

One of my favorite activities is called "Main Idea Mystery Bags".  Several "Mystery Bags" are put together, each with their own set of cards.  Students must solve the "Mystery Main Idea" of each bag.  

All-in-all, there are five activities, made to be implemented in order since they build upon one another.  In the last activity, students must use their new knowledge of main idea and apply it to a text.

I hope some of you will find this useful in your classroom.  You can check it out here.

As always, thank you for reading!

I can't wait to write again with details about my weekend once I muster up some energy.

XO <3, C

Friday, September 20, 2013

This Just In...

Okay people, we finally received the news!  We *should* be heading off to California in February!  After almost a year of speculation, we actually have some sort of information!  Hallelujah!  This is absolutely the perfect timing since I did not want to miss out on the month of October, Thanksgiving, or Christmas at home.  I'm really not a fan of winter, and by the end of  January I usually suffer from the "winter blues", so I am ecstatic to be heading out shortly thereafter!  Hooray for mid 60 degree weather and palm trees!  Now that the trip feels a little more official, I'd like to celebrate by showing you all a photo I found on Pinterest of a lighthouse on the tip of Point Loma (also the location of the naval base where Sam will be working). I can't wait to starting researching San Diego and the surrounding area to plan adventures for Sam and myself!  *I'm keeping my fingers crossed he won't be working the entire time we are out there*.  Does anyone have suggestions on places to visit, things to do or see, and/or restaurants?

Thank you,!
XO <3, C

P.S. Can't wait to hang out with you in Cali, KMA and AJF!

Thursday, September 19, 2013


By Reading Girl XOXO

Guess what, everyone? Only 6 more weeks until Halloween! Time is flying! The month of October is going to be quite busy for me, (on the weekends that is) so I'm starting my Halloween fun this weekend by going to a corn maze with Sam and some friends of mine.  Can't wait!  Last year, we found our way through the maze pretty easily, but the year before that we were completely LOST, which made it even more fun!  In fact, we were the last group left in the maze that night, and had to be "rescued", which made me angry because it was more fun finishing without the help of the employees!

Speaking of Halloween, I thought I'd take some time now to share the Who Am I? Creative Halloween Writing project I created a few weeks ago.  This should keep me preoccupied while I am waiting to hear from Sam at work about San. Di. E. Go...Ahhhhhhhhh!!!!

For this creative Halloween writing assignment, students pretend to be a Halloween creature and write paragraphs of clues about themselves.  This is a great way to incorporate a lesson on inferences!  They must write two paragraphs of clues, the first full of adjectives and clues about their physical appearance, and the second with interesting verbs and clues about what they do/how they act!  This is such a fun way to review or intro adjectives and verbs towards the beginning of the year!
The above picture is an example of the finished writing assignment, which I always show to the children as we are working on their writing so they have a "picture" in mind about writing expectations.  This example can be projected on your board for easy review.  There is also a black and white handout version.  I love having students mark them up, circling adjectives, verbs, and interesting clues!

The above picture shows a list of writing ideas students can choose from, although they always think of additional creative creatures every year!

 Here is a graphic organizer for the pre-writing stage, focusing on adjectives and verbs. 

 The Who Am I? Rubric helps students to self-assess, edit, and revise before you score them.
 You will receive several posters with goals (learning objectives) and important vocabulary words. 

At the end of the assignment, students will decorate a haunted house by using the crayon resist technique and hiding their creature behind a front door that flaps open.  

This project is always such a big hit every year!  Students really get their creative juices flowing, and become so into keeping their creature identity a secret, they often use "offices" or "privacy folders" while writing!  I've even seen some cover clues on their rough drafts with post-it notes.  Haha, too funny!

Check out the Who Am I? Creative Halloween Writing project here.  Make sure to take a look at the preview for more details.

Hopefully I'll be back later today with San Diego updates!  Until then I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

XO <3, C

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Monday Subbing!

It's official!  I had my first day of work on Monday!  I substituted in a K-2 school about 10 minutes away from my house and it was awesome!

I was a little nervous because I didn't know any teachers or students at the school, and certainly did not know my way around.  With about 3 maps in hand, I navigated the maze that it is, (seriously, it is a maze!) and picked up various children to work with back in a special education room.  It was a lot of fun working with the kids one-on-one.  Such a different feel than balancing 24 students! Towards the end of the day, I spent about an hour or so with a first grade class.  I was really impressed by them.  I thought for sure it would feel drastically different than 3rd grade, and it did feel different, but everything flowed.  It came with total ease.  Maybe that is due to my early childhood background and many hours working with 3-5-year-olds?!

It was strange to be the "odd man out", and have most people think of me as a sub and not a teacher.  Many people asked if this was my first time subbing.  Over and over, I explained a little bit of my story and where I came from.  I want people to know I have experience.  I want to be valued like a regular teacher.  Luckily, I met many friendly teachers who told me they were happy to have me be a part of their district. :-)

I'm excited to get my next sub call...eeek!  I have to say, subbing just one day, and working with those cute little faces helped fill a little hole in me that has been empty for the past few weeks. 

I saw a great Chrysanthemum display in the First Grade hallway that showed off the children's names and how many letters each of their names have in them.  I didn't snap a picture, because I didn't want to be rude and assume the teachers would like their work posted on my blog.  Instead, I found some great Pinterest pictures / activities that remind me of the display.  They are too cute! 

Check out the Chrysanthemum ideas I was able to find:

In the center of the hallway display there was a poster very much like this...
Courtesy of First Grade Wow
With it was a name chart similar to this...
(I'm not sure where this pin originated from.)
What a great beginning of the year activity to help everyone get to know each others' names!

Here are some additional  ideas I found on Pinterest:

I love the idea of wrinkling a large heart each time Chrysanthemum's feelings are hurt, and then showing the children how the wrinkles will never disappear even after trying to smooth them out.

Courtesy of First Grade Wow
This one includes a story map, comprehension questions, and a sheet for students to write/draw about their own name.
Courtesy of First Grade Fanatics

In this craftivity, children draw a portrait of themselves inside the chrysanthemum and then write about what makes them "wilt" and "bloom".  Love it!
Courtesy of Hollie Griffith

This is an activity for children to complete at home with a parent.  It helps the children to learn where their name originated from and what it means.
Courtesy of The Techy Teacher

Finally, this free packet has the materials you'll need for the First Grade Wow activities I posted above, along with additional ideas.
Courtesy of First Grade Wow

Enjoy, everyone!

P.S. We were supposed to receive our dates for San Diego today, but no such luck.  Now, we're supposed to hear tomorrow.  Keeping my fingers crossed!

XO <3, C

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Always Remember

I am absolutely exhausted and don't really have any energy for blogging right now, but today is an important day, so I need to share a little something with you.

Today is September 11th.

Every year on this anniversary, the question always seems to be the same, "Where were you on September 11th?" 

I was in history class.  How fitting.  I remember my teacher lecturing, but I don't recall the topic.  Someone from another classroom stuck his head in to share the shocking news, but my teacher, feeling it was too outlandish to be true, dismissed the student and continued teaching.  Meanwhile, questions from us students grew. What really was going on?  

Shortly after, I switched to Spanish class, where I found out the student's news was reality.  Our teacher switched on the TV for us, and we all sat with our eyes glued to the screen for the entire hour and 20 minute block.  I remember later that morning walking down the steps of the cafeteria feeling confused and concerned, while other kids were in sheer  panic.  They were the kids with relatives in New York City.  The kids with parents who boarded flights out of Logan that morning.  Thankfully, I wasn't one of them.  We were dismissed early that day, and when I came home, I saw my dad watching the TV in disbelief.  After that all memories are fuzzy.

I think back to this day, and this time for our country.  I remember the awful footage I saw live on TV. I think about how many lives were taken or forever changed.  I feel incredibly blessed my family and friends weren't directly affected.  That really was a miracle. Even so, we ALL were indirectly affected.  All of us who were  old enough to understand what happened that day will tear up, feel a pit in our stomach, or a pain in our heart when we remember. Luckily, we are side-by-side and hand-in-hand in this together, and because of that we are resilient.  I'm sending so many loving thoughts to my friends and family tonight. Hug yours a little closer.

XO <3, C

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

I did it!

Guess what?!?! I did it!  I literally JUST hit the $50 mark on Teachers Pay Teachers!  I have officially earned $53.60!  I know it isn't much, but I am still really excited!  Just a few weeks ago, I wasn't sure I would even make a total of $10.  Now I can say that the yearly membership I bought is paid off, and from here on out, anything I make will actually be a profit.  It has been amazing to be able to recreate activities I have used with my own students and now be able to share them with others, while making a little moola at the same time. I should be heading to bed now, but because of this exciting news, I'm in the mood to share a link to my free Spelling Word Sort.  Thank you to everyone who has purchased something from me! 

Goodnight for reals. :)
XO <3, C

A Good Day

Hey there!

All-in-all today was a good day.  Nothing spectacular, just good.  I woke up early to drive Sam to work today since his car has been in the shop.  (Weeks ago, someone actually hit his car while it was parked in a parking lot at the shipyard where he works.  There was no note left behind, and the shipyard police were never able to figure out who hit Sam's car despite surveillance footage.  Personally I feel like they didn't work hard enough to scan all of the video footage, but maybe that's just me.  We are down $1,000 for the deductible which is painful after funding a wedding!)

Back to today...despite the dread of waking  up at 6:20 in the morning to chauffeur Sam, it was great to be up and ready to go at a more  reasonable hour of the day!  Unfortunately, that also meant taking a long nap later on in the morning.  Oh well.  You win some, you lose some!  

Afterwards, I spent the day puttering around, picking Sam up from work, running errands, and making dinner.  As I said before, this is nothing spectacular, but I almost felt a bit "busy", which is something I miss.  That slight busy feeling made today a good day.

Just a couple specific details I'd like to mention before I sign-off for tonight.

#1 Bath and Body Works has a great sale on hand-soaps right now- 5/$15 or 7/$20.  I chose to do the 7/$20 and used a 20% off coupon and ended up spending only $16!!! I just had to mention this because this deal put me in a really good mood, ha! :)

#2 More importantly, I tried a new Pinterest recipe tonight, Thai Style Peanut Pasta.  Both Sam and I loved it. This is the first "real" meal I've cooked for Sam as a "wife".  That is really sad considering we've been married for a month and a half already!  I'm letting you in on a little this relationship, the guy does most of the cooking! I'm really trying to work on  that.  

When you check out the recipe at Apron Strings, you will see one of the ingredients is tamarind paste.  I was unable to find this at my local grocery store, so after some research, I decided to use a tablespoon of rice vinegar and a tablespoon or so of brown sugar as a substitute.  I'm not exactly sure how the dish should have tasted with tamarind paste, but it was pretty delish with my alterations!  It definitely has a kick to it, probably from all of the ginger and the crushed red pepper.  Here is a photo of the pre-cooked meal from Apron Strings.  Yum!

#3 I am currently working on another TPT product.  For some reason, this one has been taking me a while.  I really would like to have it finis by the weekend! Here is a photo I took that will be incorporated into the lesson plans/activities...
 Any guesses on what I am planning? I'll give you a hint.  In one some of the activities, puzzle pieces are being compared to details in a text.  To see the "whole picture" you need to put the details or puzzle pieces together....I'm creating a product on MAIN idea!  It is always such a challenge for kiddos to formulate a detailed and cohesive sentence that accurately describes ALL of the main idea.  I'm excited to finish this up!  More details to come later.

Thanks for reading, everyone!

XO <3, C

Monday, September 9, 2013

Catchin' Up

Hey everyone!  I am feeling a little out of the loop with my own blog, if that is even possible!  I have missed writing over the past week or so.  We have a lot to catch up on.

First thing is first- the sub interview.  I finally received an e-mail today from my town's district inviting me in to do the fingerprinting and fill out paperwork for the background check!  Hooray!  After all of that is processed, I should be good to go, and will just need to wait for someone to be out sick...Sorry to whoever that may be! 

But wait...

there is more! I actually ended up having a second interview on Friday with a different district that is right around the corner and pays well!  I was psyched to have two interviews in one week, but dreaded having to get myself all nerved up again.  This interview also went well.  I didn't have that same immediate "love at first sight" feeling, but I would say I walked out feeling very positive.  My second interview was short and sweet, as the principal I met with said, "Well, you're a certified teacher with experience so I'm not going to bring you through the whole rigamarole of an interview.  I'm going to to ahead and approve you for everything".  He then introduced me to the school secretary and insisted I go to the *top* of the list since I am certified! Yay! He also told me that subbing at his school would be a great way to get my foot in the door in his district...Definitely food for thought. :)

Coincidentally, the principal I interviewed with actually knew my assistant principal from last year, who is now the current principal of my old school.  I knew she had been the curriculum coordinator of the town I interviewed with, but had no idea she actually worked with that principal in his particular building!  Always a small world! Now, I am waiting for my invitation to do the background check for this school district as well. I just love having my fingerprints taken... :-)

I am feeling really excited about starting to get myself back into a school setting.  I am so ready for this after the long summer break, and can't wait for the opportunity to work and interact with children again.  I really really REALLY am starting to go STIR CRAZY!

You know, I'm just remembering a part of the reason I started this blog was to document life as a newlywed, and so far I've kept that to myself.  This is partially because there hasn't been anything all that interesting to say, as the past few weeks have been consumed by my thoughts on school, processing my choice to leave, and how to feel now that the school year has begun.  I also haven't seen so much of Sam because he was working a crazy shift the other week, leaving me by myself much of the time. The truth is, though, all of this processing I've been doing has impacted him as well.  He is happy for me, and 100% is behind me, knowing this is the right decision, but he feels badly that I haven't had as much to do, that I've been lonely...and bored...and lonely...and as I said, STIR CRAZY!  I think it has been hard for him to see me feeling down.

On Friday, I planned a day trip for the two of us, so we could have a little family bonding time with the Dudley-boy, and try something different...that is also free!  We went to Halibut Point State Park in Rockport, Mass.  I first discovered this park when I was incredibly bored with mono.  One of the only things I found helped keep me sane was to research places I could visit once I was well again.  Anyway, if you're around the North Shore area, I highly suggest the park.  There are a few walking trails, one of which goes around an old granite quarry which was in use from 1840 to 1929.  The granite from this area was used for roads, monuments, and buildings, including The Customs House in Boston. Right behind the view of the quarry is the ocean, which you can also take trails to see.  It was absolutely gorgeous.  Sam and I had a great time, aside both of us feeling under the weather, and Mr. Duds had a fabulous time, beside the fact he was not allowed to swim in the quarry.  The Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Friendly's sundaes on the way home weren't all that bad either...

Thanks for catching up with me!

XO <3, C

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Teachers Pay Teachers

Hello everyone!  As of now, I think most people who are keeping up with this blog happen to be friends.  Friends who aren't necessarily teachers.  Sorry friends, this post will be boring for you! If anyone out there is a teacher, however, you may find this useful!

I recently began my own Teachers Pay Teachers store called A Chocolate Dudley.  I'm really enjoying creating products for it so far!  It encourages me to be creative, productive, and stay in touch with education.  I finally finished my biggest TPT project so far.  I created a set of vocabulary posters for enVision MATH Grade 3 Topics 1-8.  They are bright, colorful, clear, and will make excellent visual aids in your classroom. Find them here .  I sure wish I had these last year while I was actually teaching enVision!  I typically used visual aids during my lessons, posting them on the whiteboard next to my daily math goals/objectives.  Afterwards, I moved posters and such over to a vocabulary bulletin board, entitled "Fab Math Vocab!"

 Here is a little preview of the posters.


XO <3, C


Yikes, what a day!  As you may know, I had my interview today and I LOVED the school I visited!  I was immediately overcome with a very welcoming feeling, mostly because the lobby was cozy and aesthetically catered to little children.  It had large oval Alphabet rug, bookshelves of picture books, and purple walls decorated with alligators holding books.  It was too cute and such a different feel from "my" school where I previously worked.  The principal seems absolutely fabulous- laid back, calm, and really just a nice guy.  My first impressions were fabulous, and I think I must have made a somewhat similar impression as well, because  when the principal led me on a tour, he introduced me to his staff by saying, "This is Colleen.  She is going to be on our substitute list."  Why haven't I been working there the past five years?!?! God, my life would be very different, I'm sure! Now, I just need to wait about a week for my references to be checked, and then I should receive a phone call with an invitation to complete a background check.  Yay!

I was so excited about the interview, I accidentally broke my California news on Facebook, without even realizing it.  My close friends and family members have been in the loop for months.  Most of my coworkers from my previous school have a good understanding as well, as California is the reason I gave for my resignation. Others, however, were shocked.  Lots of people commented with "Are you moving?" "When?" "Where in California?" "For how long?"  Ooops.  Just to reiterate, I am not moving, I am visiting for an extended period of time.  We will not sell the house.  Sam will not be transferred, he is just going on travel and I am joining in on the fun! We still don't know the dates of the trip or the length of the stay. We should find out in about a month, so for now we are still playing the waiting game...

Lately, as more and more people have been finding out about my resignation, I have been receiving many mixed reactions.  Some are very positive and others make me feel like I've been a disappointment by throwing away my income and making an illogical decision.  The negative reactions, or the ones that feel negative to me, have been tough, because I am already hard enough on myself.  I know everything those people are thinking, and trust me, I imagined those conclusions months ago.  Ultimately, it's my life and my decision to make with Sam.  I do know anyone who is concerned and questions my decision really just cares about my well-being, but still this is the first kind of "crazy" life-choice I've ever could they get on the YOLO train with me just once

Thank you to all of my friends, family members, and coworkers who have been nothing but supportive and excited for me.  You guys keep me going with my head held high!  I love you!

XO <3, C

Monday, September 2, 2013

Money Vs. Time

I've been feeling a little down all day today.  A feeling that has slowly been creeping up on me.  I think I have too much time on my hands and haven't been having enough social interaction.  It's hard when I am by myself Monday through Friday pretty much every week.  Don't get me wrong, I do love free time and sleeping in, but this is getting to be a little much.  I have lots of projects I could be completing at home (organizing, cleaning, cooking, crafting, "Shutterflying", and creating products for TPT), but for some reason it's hard to stay motivated without a daily routine.  There are many other things I would like to do as well...try a photography class, take an education course at UNH, sign up for yoga, but I'm feeling like I just can't afford to do any of them.  It's funny how life works.  Before, when I was teaching and commuting, I had the money to do these activities, but not enough time.  Now I have the time, but not enough money.  Frustrating.

On a more positive note, tomorrow is my substitute teaching interview!  I'm starting to feel the butterflies and hoping I'll be all pumped up after it's over.  I'm going to make this short and sweet and sign off now, since I don't want to be too much of a downer in this post, but before I leave, one last thing.  I found a great freebie on Teachers Pay Teachers that could possibly be perfect for me if all goes well tomorrow...I hope it may be useful to one of you out there too (once people actually start to read this crazy blog). 

These two pages are included in the free Owl Theme Substitute Teacher Binder offered by:  Stellar in Sixth. I will not be downloading this until something works out for me.  I wouldn't want to jinx myself or anything. ;-)  Wish me luck!

XO <3, C