Saturday, April 30, 2011

Come Visit Us Over Here...

Over at Frogs, Bees, and Under the Seas we are talking about movement and learning. Hop on over to their amazing blog to see what you can do with your children to help them learn while getting their groove on!

We hope you have an awesome Saturday!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Joy Reading

My goal for Owen is that he will LOVE to read. I want reading to be a JOY for him. This was also my goal when I was teaching first grade. So every morning we had JOY READING. My students knew to come quietly into the classroom, put their backpacks on a hook, put their home lunch (if they had one) in the bin, put their homework and "green go home" folders in their cubbies and then quietly sit down and read. Each group of desks had a small tub with various books inside. They could choose any book (one at a time) and read as many as they could in the 10 minutes that I gave them. 

I did this for a few reasons:
1. It reminded my students that once they entered my classroom, they were there to learn.
2. It helped get their minds ready for learning.
3. It helped them forget about how they lost their place in line when lining up outside and begin to focus on the day ahead.
4. It gave me some quiet time to take their homework out of their folders and take attendance, as well as speak to any parents who might be lingering at the doorway. :)
5. It helped my students love to read and understand that it is important that we do it daily.

I rotated their tubs daily and then switched the books out weekly. I tried to stay organized. :)

It was also important that our classroom always have a comfy place to read where there are plenty of books to choose from.

Now, how do we do this at home?

First off, we need to be organized and have books easily accessible to our children. Owen doesn't have many that he's interested in quite yet, but there is a basket underneath an end table in our front room filled with his favorites.

There is also a bookshelf with some classic picture books in his room.

Next, you need to make a comfortable and inviting place for your child to read. Whether it's a fun bean bag chair or fort, make it enjoyable. 

Last, you need to be involved. You need to read to and with your child as often as possible. Cuddle while reading or let your child read to you. Make it a special time. This way your child will have positive feelings when she thinks about reading and her love of reading will continue to grow as you help her nourish it.

I can't wait to continue to do this with my son! 
What do you do with your children to foster a love and joy of reading?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Mom's Who Teach Mondays

"Waiting for Superman"

Have you seen this yet? If not, I would highly recommend it!

I taught 2nd grade for three years and am now a mother to three beautiful children. I have a passion for teaching and love children! I had heard about this movie "Waiting for Superman" and the other night I sat down with my hubbie to watch this amazing documentary about the public school system in the United States. It struck a chord with me. Now that I have children it seems that I am more concerned than ever with the educational system that I once used to be apart of. Here are some statistics that the movie depicted:

"In America right now, a kid drops out of high school every 26 seconds. These drop-outs are 8 times more likely to go to prison, 50% less likely to vote, more likely to need social welfare assistance, not eligible for 90% of jobs, are being paid 40 cents to the dollar of earned by a college graduate, and continuing the cycle of poverty.”

After being a teacher and now a parent, I realized that we as parents HAVE to speak up and be advocates for our child's education. Do what it takes to help your child receive the BEST education that he or she can. 

If you would like to be featured on "Moms Who Teach Mondays" please email us at
{Please note: you do not need to be an educator or past educator to contribute} 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

the Easter Giveaway goes to....

#12- Jennyfer Murphine

CONGRATULATIONS on winning your very own copy of 
The Phonics Dance CD!!!

Jennyfer said: am your newest follower! This will be great for teaching kindy next year. I also really liked the crayon roll idea. What a fun gift!

Thanks Jennyfer for following us!

Please e-mail us your mailing address so that we can have this shipped to your house.

True Random Number Generator  12Powered by RANDOM.ORG

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Our New Blog Button...and The Teacher Wife

Check out our ADORABLE new blog button!!

It was created by the VERY talented lady who writes The Teacher Wife. We simply adore her and if you haven't checked out her blog, YOU SHOULD! She also did our whole new blog makeover. I know, I wish I was that talented at everything too.

If you want to get our new button, just copy and paste the HTML code on the right side of our blog and add a "gadget" to your blog.

Thank you for your support!!


p.s. Only ONE MORE DAY before we pick the LUCKY LUCKY winner of our GIVEAWAY!!!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Getting Ready to Write

As soon as Owen showed some interest in writing, I immediately started planning his own little writing center. I looked online at Ikea and found a perfect sized desk and chair for his room. I haven't bought it yet because I decided that I might start searching garage sales to find something that I can paint a fun color and rough up a bit. But this is my new project right now; and I want to get it up and running soon.

Now it might seem early for Owen to be interested in something like this since he is only 15 months, BUT it is important that we set the scene and mood when introducing new skills such as writing. I want Owen to be excited about it and as he gets older learn to grow to LOVE it.

So as I wait to buy/create his own little writing space, I have been busy making some crayon rolls for his "special" crayons to go in.

Owen loves to take the crayons out and in of their slots as well as scribble on paper. He especially loves to do this during church.
It rolls up so nicely and compact to take anywhere.
It was super easy and cheap to make and you can find the tutorial HERE.

And because it was so fun to make I decided to go crazy and make about 4 more for gifts.
Here is a girlie version:

Getting started is important as well as helping your child feel motivated and excited about learning.

What have you done or plan to do to help your child want to learn?

Also, don't forget to check out our AMAZING GIVEAWAY below!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Phonics Dance & GIVEAWAY!!!!

As a former 2nd grade teacher I struggled finding a fun, engaging, and EFFECTIVE way to teach my students phonics. I searched high and low for ideas and methods that might help me to succeed in teaching phonics. It wasn't until half way through my second year of teaching that I came across this website:

After researching and then asking several colleagues in my school district about this program (which no one knew anything about) I decided to give it a whirl. Well folks, I was sold! I ordered the CD and the first lesson manual. It was right up my alley and my class LOVED it! It is SO engaging, fun, and INCREDIBLY EFFECTIVE! 

Here is a little explanation on what the Phonics Dance actually is:

"The Phonics Dance!™ is a quick and easy way for primary grade 
educators to teach phonics and increase the reading and writing skills 

of each and every student in your classroom. It is multilevel learning at 
its best, and can provide success for all students, regardless of their 
developmental level. This is a nationally recognized program which is 
based on research and meets the standards for the Leave no Child 
Behind Law.

This Six Step Program offers learning through cost free strategies that 

incorporate rhyme, movement and chant. Building on phonemic 
awareness, students become confident, successful writers. In the 
process they develop strong decoding skills through the use of 
“hunking and chunking” to build poise and fluency in reading. Learn 
how to use your word wall to teach all your language arts concepts!"

I think the most exciting thing about this program is that it actually makes learning Phonics understandable for children. It makes sense! Although this program is geared for teachers, it would be a great resource to use at home to supplement your child's learning. I'm thinking SUMMER! (hint hint) :) This program is created for children ages 4-10 (grades Pre-Kindergarten-3rd grade). If you are trying to help your child with reading and decoding words. This is an excellent investment! I would highly recommend buying the CD and book to start.

View THE PHONICS DANCE products page here: PRODUCTS

I also noticed that Virgina Dowd (creator and author) has made a CD for math
Hmmmm...I might just have to get that one!  

And just because we LOVE all of you SO much and love THE PHONICS DANCE so much...

For our EASTER GIVEAWAY we are going to give one lucky winner their very own PHONICS DANCE CD!!!

Here is how you can win this amazing CD:

1. Make sure you follow our blog by clicking under FOLLOWERS!
2. Get a friend (or 2, or 3) to follow our blog. 
3. Add our button to your own blog. 
4. Post a link to our blog on Facebook explaining the giveaway.
5. Leave a comment saying you have done all of the above and what feature you like most about our blog.

THANKS! Spread the word! Good luck!
The winner will be announced on Easter night!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Moms Who Teach Monday

Homemade Books

I was able to teach 6th grade for two years until I had my sweet little boy. I enjoy teaching but I thoroughly love staying home with my almost two year old.  So many of the things I was taught while becoming an educator can be transferred over to being a mother. One thing that I loved to do with my 6th graders was to write stories.  After they were drafted, revised and edited my students got really excited about getting it “published.”  So we made our own homemade books!  Kids love to read books they wrote themselves.

We would make them in class, but the great thing about making them at home is you have more one on one time with your child and their book.  And the best part is you probably have most of the materials at home already!

I know my son is too young to write books for himself but here are some other ways you could use a homemade book:

-Make a book containing names and pictures of family members.
-Have your child make a book for Grandma to give her on this upcoming Mother’s day.
-Make an “About Me” book for your child to bring to school for Show and Tell
-Use the book as a drawing book for your child to draw pictures in.

Now this bookmaking process isn’t totally kid friendly. There are needles and a hot glue gun involved just as a heads up.  (My 6th graders actually did really well sewing with needles but I always did the hot gluing.) However I’m sure you could use modge podge instead of a hot glue gun to help involve your child.


Computer paper
Needle and thread
Glue gun

1. Cut out 2 cardboard pieces 9in by 5 ¾ in. (Slightly larger than a sheet of computer paper folded in half)
2. Fold pieces of computer paper in half (hamburger style!) I used 5 pieces of paper and that gave me a title page and 15 blank pages. But you can adjust to how many pages you want.
3. Unfold paper and stack together. Using a needle or pin, poke holes all along the crease of the paper going through all 5 pieces of papers. (I colored mine with black marker so you could see them in the picture.) It doesn’t matter how many holes as long as it’s an even number.

4. With a needle and thread, sew a running stitch along the holes. Start by tying a knot and going up through the first hole, down through the second, up through the third, etc. You want to end going down through the last hole so your knot will be hidden.

-Then take you cardboard pieces and tape them slightly apart with thick packing tape or duct tape. This allows your book to fold easily.

-Cut out your fabric to be a little larger than your book, about 17in. by 13 in.
-With a hot glue gun, fold in all your edges of fabric tightly around the cardboard. Don’t worry if it’s not that pretty, it will be covered up. (As you can see, mine is not very even!)

-Lastly, glue down the first page and last page of your book to the inside covers of the cardboard book.

My book is very basic and there are so many ways you could embellish it to make it your own.
-Study some books with your child and help them write a dedication page and an About the Author page.
-Embellish the cover with buttons, ribbons, etc. before you glue it to the cardboard.
-Use colored paper instead of white.
-Use a cricut or silhouette cutter to make letters or pictures.
-Let your child practice typing their story on the computer and then glue the text in.
-Use plastic bags as pages instead of paper for small toddlers that might rip the pages. This also allows you to switch out your pages to make a whole new book!

Happy bookmaking!

Thanks so much Shanna! I can't wait to make one of these myself!

If you would like to be featured on "Moms Who Teach Mondays" please email us at
{Please note: you do not need to be an educator or past educator to contribute}  

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Getting ready for Easter....

I can't believe that Easter is just around the corner! I have been skimming different sites to find some cute Easter activities that I can do with my son and his little friends at a play group for our church next week and I can't get enough of Martha Stewart. Of course many of these are too advanced for him, but I still LOVE the ideas and one day hope to use them. 

Here are a few of my favorites:

{Please note: you can click on the picture to find the directions}

These are the most adorable little candy and egg holders. Super easy to make!

I LOVE anything sparkly. These are so so cute!

I am thinking of making one of these for Owen...if I can find time. 

Simply adorable, enough said.

This activity can be done with children as young as 3!

I think these are so funny and definitely original.

This can be made for any age and would be the perfect grandparent gift.

I really want to make some of the things above and I hope to find the time to do so.

I am also really excited about this cute little number I got for Mr. Owie boy. I'm thinkin I'll pair it with some knee highs too. :) 
{sorry for the blurry picture! I'll have to post Owen wearing will be much cuter!}

Happy {almost} Easter!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

One of My Favorite Authors...

I love, love, love her books. They are board books that are rhythmic, simple and fun. Owen can easily follow along and rarely loses interest. In my book, that's a winner. 

We have a few of her books now and continue to check them out from the library. "Moo, Baa, La La La" is one of our favorites. If you haven't tried them yet you have to!
What are some of your favorite picture books??

Monday, April 11, 2011

Mom's Who Teach Mondays

We're super excited to kick off our "Mom's Who Teach Mondays" series where we will be featuring moms (aka YOU!) who teach their children.  We love sharing tips on how to teach educational things, life skills, social skills, art, etc; pretty much anything! Enjoy!

Jackie, a stay at home mom of 2 and former first grade teacher shares......

After teaching first grade for five years, I am now a completely happy stay at home mom with two children, Cole and Kate. I was able to juggle mothering our firstborn and part time teaching for two years, but once our sweet baby girl came and my son got older, my heart just needed to be at home full time. Being able to use the teaching skills I learned in my university and classroom settings now at home with my almost 3 year old son is a completely wonderful feeling. He's finally to an age when I can plan activities and mini lessons and he'll actually sit still and participate (mostly) - so fun! Although his attention span can be anywhere from 10 seconds to 5 minutes which keeps things challenging in a good way.

We're focusing on letter recognition and sounds and what has worked great for us is taking a letter a week and planning as many activities, outings, meals, library books, and everyday occurrences around the focus letter. I do enjoy the planning side of teaching, so I usually plan as much of the week in advance as I can so I'm not scrambling each day to throw meaningful, educational things together. 
Just a short to-do list of what I'll try to map out:
  • Put library books about things that start with the focus letter on hold online so I can pick them up on Monday. This week I checked out books on rainbows, rabbits, race cars, reptiles, and robots.
  • Write/type words to put on our word wall. I try to keep it under 10 words and use words he is interested in or that would be a high frequency word. We did Rr, red, rocking chair, rug, race, rainbow, Red Sox (his tball team name!), rocket, read, and rice.
  • Try to incorporate any focus letter foods into my weekly meal plan. We made rainbow cupcakes, ate rice several times, had rolls, and made red jello.
  • Daily activity - I try to introduce Cole to a new activity each day; usually a new game, pretend play, song, craft, food, or place to visit. We pretended to be race car drivers, took a rocket trip to the moon, and did a rainbow puzzle I made out of different colored construction paper.

I'm usually planned out by that point, but excited for the week ahead! Here's what this week looked like. I always keep in mind the life skill of flexibility and be realistic; some days we won't have time to make that meal or read that book. Kids get sick, things come up, he may not be interested, and I just usually end up moving some things to different days. But at least I'm prepared for the best!


  • Letter introduction: I love's website and so does Cole. He would spend over an hour on it if I didn't regulate it. I used it weekly during computer time with my first graders and it's really fun for building phonics and computer literacy. They have cute graphics and sounds that go with each letter, so I let Cole take over once I get to the site and he clicks and runs it all. He clicked on the letter R and went through the slides. I let him watch it (over and over) for 15 minutes.
 Letter shape and sound: I cut out an R out of sandpaper and talked about the shape it is and how we create it (start at the top, straight stick down, back to the top, make a big bump and then a kickstand). We did it in the air with our fingers a couple times, then I let him trace it on the sandpaper R.

  • Word wall: I think it's important that although he can't read, he still sees the focus letter in word form and he usually even memorizes a few cards by the end of the week. I've been trying out different "walls" in our home to post these words, seeing which place gets the most exposure. I've put them on the door to his room, a wall by the family room where he plays, this week they were on a wall in the hall. Next week I'm trying the dishwasher :) I always have him with me and we put them up together. I'll say the word and he'll repeat it, then he'll point to the focus letter in the word, and finally he sticks it to the wall. We also stuck up the sandpaper R for this week, because it's Rough. Some words don't go on the wall at first, there are usually a couple words of things we find in our house that could be labeled (red, rocking chair). I have him take these and put them on the object.


  • Play Day: We are fortunate to live in a neighborhood with about eight other pre-preschool kids Cole's age. The moms are all great, involved moms and we decided several months ago that these kids that aren't in school yet could use a weekly educational activity and play date. So we meet every Thursday am for an hour, we rotate who is hosting each week and they are in charge of doing some kind of movement activity, craft, and snack with the letter of the week. If you have a child this age and don't already do this, I highly recommend getting together a group and starting this! Not only are the activities age-specific and fun, the social interaction is invaluable.

  • Robot day: For our weekly activity, we pretended to be robots with homemade outfits (cut a head hole and two arm holes in a upside down paper grocery bag - works good for astronauts too) that went racing to the moon on a rocket (barstool). The pretending got a little out of control (Kate was a baby alien robot that liked to ride the rainbows), but it was sooo much fun. 
  • Red: also wore red and made red jello.

Weekly ongoing
  • Throughout the week, whenever possible: reinforce word wall by asking him to point to certain words, point out the focus letter in everyday print (on shirts, fridge, road signs, in books, etc), practice tracing it on arm, table, grass, with tub markers, steamy mirrors, etc.

This was a good week! Towards the end of the week, I noticed that he was mixing up the letter R with F when finding it in some words, next week we'll do a word search for Rs to reinforce recognition. It's important to assess informally throughout this whole process and try to add extra activities that can reteach whatever skill may be lacking. During G week, we needed a lot of extra practice with creating the actual letter G so I made a lot of tracers for him to go over with different markers to get more writing activities in. Most importantly at this age though, I've found that keeping it low stress and high interaction and engagement is key. I want him to be excited about learning and associate positive experiences and feelings with "school work". I can't wait for preschool in the fall!

Thanks Jackie for the AMAZING tips!

If you would like to be featured please email us at
{please note: you do not have to have been a school teacher to enter}

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Spelling Word Practice

The dreaded spelling word practice is (as you probably know) a very important part of your student's week. I know from personal experience that many children do not enjoy spelling practice UNLESS it is fun. How can we make it fun?? Definitely NOT by the boring and not very effective "write your spelling words 3 times each" practice but instead by playing fun, educational games that will keep your students' interest throughout the entire week.

Here is a list of some of the activities I did with my first graders throughout the week that can be done at home:

*Find the Word - Have your child write his spelling words on pieces of paper or postcards. Then, without him looking, tape them on the walls throughout the house and have him become a detective and go searching for the lost words. Don't forget to have him take his handy notebook that might be a special "spelling word notepad" and a fun writing instrument such as a glitter pen or marker. Also, have him take the list of spelling words too so he knows what he's looking for. Every time he looks at the word, provides extra practice. As he finds his words have him make a list and write them down. Next have him tell you or a sibling the words he found by reading them out loud.  Then you can check his list by reading them to him and having him spell them back to you.

*Spelling Word Dance Off - Using your stack of note cards that have the spelling words written out, write additional words to add to the stack. These words can be sight words your child is currently working on at school. They can be any type of word as long as your child can read them. Next play some music and have your child begin to dance. Using your stack of words (that are shuffled up) hold up each word one by one while your child is watching and each time your child sees a spelling word have him FREEZE and pause the music. In order to become unfrozen and continue to dance he has to spell the word correctly without looking. Once he spells it correctly you can play the music again and continue on with the game until all spelling words have been spelled.

*Spelling Word Word Search - This is self explanatory. Have your child write his spelling words scattered about on a white piece of paper. Make sure he writes them neatly and in the same direction. Next have him fill in any blanks with the letters from the alphabet until his words are hidden. Last, using another fun writing instrument, have him find his words and circle them. You can then check that he has found all of his words and once again have him spell them back to you. If your child finds the words too easily, you can create the word search to make it more challenging.

*White Boards or Magnets - This one is plain and simple yet fun because it's different. Simply read your child his spelling words as he spells them on a whiteboard or with magnets. Children learn in all different ways and by simply switching up the way they create a word you are aiding in their learning success.

By doing one of these a day (or more of course!) you are helping your child learn each word in a fun and interactive way. No more whining about practicing spelling words! At the end of the week, have your child do an actual practice test before his real test so he can practice writing the word as you read it aloud by itself and in a sentence. This way he will be ready for the real thing and not feel anxious and instead feel confident.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

New Features!

We have finally completed our "Browse by Article" page and "Wonderful Websites" page. We hope this helps our readers better navigate our blog. Thanks to all of our followers for being patient with this process. Mama J and I are also sorry that we have been neglecting Teacher-2-Mom. We are excited to be featuring some exciting new material this April.

Here is a sneak peak at what's coming:
            Articles discussing....
              "The Phonics Dance"- An engaging and exciting way to teach your child phonics!
"Problem Solving" - The Singapore Math Way

      We are also going to be featuring guest writers on our blog, as well as more FREE giveaways!!!

Thanks for reading!