Hello! Happy New Year! Two New Link-Ups!

I am linking up with A Peach for the Teach to share my New Years resolutions.

Back in the fall, I remember reading a blog post from a teacher in Florida.  Her principal said that she had to teach reading, writing and math in small groups.  She felt overwhelmed, but she learned how to manage and said that small group teaching was much more effective.  I wish I could remember which blogger this was, but I still think about what she wrote, and I would like to try implementing more small group instruction.  Now I just have to start trying this out.

Since it's vacation, I have been reading and doing the crossword puzzle every night.  I LOVE IT!  During the school year, I seem to not find time to read books for fun.

Of course, I could blog less; be on the computer less; etc.....Notice that these are not resolutions....

Happy New Year!

p.s. I'll definitely be asleep by midnight.  What about you?

Also, click on this button to check out some new and different teaching blogs!


Health - An Important Word For My Truth Monday!

This is a coincidence!  Denise from Sunny Days is sharing her last “My Truth Monday” link-up.


Today’s topic is:  What’s your one word for 2014? 

Since I already wrote about this exact subject this morning, I'm linking up!

 Jennifer whose blog is at:

http://mrslaffinslaughings.blogspot.com/  is reading this book:

After vacation, she's going to have her 4th graders think of their own word and write a paragraph about how/why their chose that particular word.  Check out Jennifer's blog to read more about this assignment and the word she has chosen.
Any way, here's the word that I'm choosing:
Several years ago (maybe 20 years; really not that long ago when you think of it) - when people were allowed to smoke in public places - my town decided to institute a ban on ALL smoking in public places.  People (smokers, mainly) were up in arms (including my own father who used to smoke 4 packs of cigarettes a day) because they felt it was their constitutional right to be able to smoke.  Any way, I wrote a poem in support of the smoking ban, and two of the lines were:

                               We must remember to include in our wealth
                              The value of each and everyone's health.

Let's face it:  health is everything.

 Plus, as I get older - I am 53, if you were wondering - I value my health more and more.  I want to appreciate every day that my family, my friends, my students and I are healthy.  Health is worth more than any amount of money.  I want to remember this every day.

So, to your health!  In French, they say, "A votre sante!"

Happy New Year!


Great Giveaway! Great Book!

Make sure to check out this giveaway from Courtney at:


 Courtney is offering one lucky winner 13 products from her TPT store which you can check out for yourself at:


Check out this super adorable and cool flamingo that I downloaded for free from Melonheadz on TPT.  I can see why so many people LOVE their graphics.  Here's their store address so you can check those out, too:


 I also got out a brand new book from the library that I wanted to share:

The author of this book is Cari Best, and here's the Amazon summary:
Beatrice wants to write the kind of letters that start with “Dear Somebody,” but she only knows how to write letters like A B C T E R I E. Then her Nanny Hannah teaches her how to put the letters together to spell words, and Beatrice takes off on a spelling spree. She decides to start a Spelling Club at school, but no one signs up because spelling is B-O-R-I-N-G. In fact, the class decides to go on a spelling strike! Then Beatrice has a lulu of an idea and turns show-and-tell into show-and-spell starring her pet T-A-R-A-N-T-U-L-A—and soon, in this picture book by Cari Best, everyone has caught the spelling bug.

This is my personal favorite part of the book:

"No good speller should ever be without her own dictionary," she (Nanny Hannah) said.  "Ask Thomas Jefferson."

"Who's Thomas Jefferson?" Beatrice wanted to know.

"He was the third president of the United States, the writer of the Declaration of Independence, and a crackerjack speller," said Nanny Hannah.  "He told his daughter to turn to her dictionary before she ever spelled a word wrong."

Wouldn't it be amazing if our students always looked up unknown words in the dictionary?  I'm going to propose this as a class resolution!

So much for my blogging break, laundry is waiting for me - even if it is Saturday night.

  Did you know that plastic pink flamingos are manufactured right here in Massachusetts?  It's another reason to love pink flamingos!


Time to read about winter!

 Today I drove to the library in the snow.  Later, when I was checking my blog updates, I found this link-up hosted by Andrea whose blog is at:   http://readerstars.blogspot.com/

 Of course, I've already ordered the Snowflakes Fall book through the library because I read about it in Andrea's blog.  This book is written by Patricia MacLachlan and is a tribute to the students at Sandy Hook.  Make sure to check out Andrea's blog to read more about her thoughts as well as an accompanying follow-up activity.

Any way, the book that I happened to check out today is The Snow Day by Komako Sakai.  I loved the illustrations which are very comforting.  During the snowstorm, the rabbit tells his mom:  "Mommy, we are all alone in the world."  I absolutely can understand that feeling.

My favorite part of the book was after the storm stops, and it's time for bed, the rabbit and his mom go out at night in the snow.  I remember how much my kids loved to go out at night to play in the snow.

A few years ago, the 4th grade Mass. state open response question was about what you would do during a snow day.  As luck would have it, it hadn't been a snowy winter so some of the kids found it difficult to think of ideas. 

Me, I prefer snow in books because I don't have to drive in that snow or shovel it - although I could use the extra exercise today after all my overeating yesterday. 



13 in 13 - A Good Luck Looking Back Link-Up!

13 in 13 - A looking-back link-up!

I found another link-up hosted by Miss Kindergarten, A Teeny Tiny Teacher and Dragonflies in First!

Here are my favorite 13 items from 2013:

I bought these boots at Marshall's where I went to reward myself for having a cracked tooth fixed.  They were marked down to $20 because there was a small scratch in the suede.  

Last week we watched the Polar Express, and I loved it.  The whole movie was magical and perfect for this time of year.

Plus, I do think Tom Hanks is amazing.

I thoroughly enjoy Long Island Medium.  I think that she gives people hope and reassurance after they have suffered terrible losses.

Plus, Teresa has quite a personality and is fun to watch.

I absolutely love the rolls at Bertucci's and the dipping oil - not very diet friendly, but delicious nonetheless.

The minestrone soup is one of my favorites, too.

Blogging is my favorite new thing, of course.

The most perfect gift I got this year was from my Secret Santa, Cheryl.  She got me the most perfect gift:

She just hit the nail on the head perfectly as far as my blogs go.  

I pinned this adorable wetu from Mrs. Laffin's Native American museum activity.

How amazing and adorable is this!


I'm picking a post from my dog blog:  http://www.gabithedog.blogspot.com/  

My students were complaining A LOT about everything so I wrote this blog post for them.

AAAAAARRRRRGGGGHHHH! Why did I need another bath?

I really don't understand why I need to get a bath because it happened again today.  I got shipped over to Janet the Groomer's with my friend, Paula.  I mean they are really nice to me and give me a lot of attention, BUT I don't need to be clean.  To make matters worse, Janet the Groomer, always has to make me look like a girl dog:

Did I REALLY need blue bows?  Did I REALLY need to get my picture taken AGAIN?  Most importantly, did I REALLY need a bath?  If you look at the above picture, I'm sure you can tell exactly how I feel about the whole situation.

Like I always say, some times you just have to put up with aggravating situations.  I was not happy about the bath and the bows, but I didn't say anything.  I didn't complain - I just put on my "I'm not exactly happy" face.  I'm sure I'll be getting another bath and more bows before I know it.  I just have to accept that I have to be clean every once in a while.  It's actually a small price to pay because it makes my Mom happy.  Hopefully, I'll be able to roll around in some dirt tomorrow.  Then I can smell like a dog again.

p.s. I got rid of the bows as soon as I could.

I started my blogs during April vacation 2013 so that is absolutely and definitely my best accomplishment.

See above picture of an angry dog with bows.

My favorite memory was going to the pumpkin patch with my family on my birthday.

I would love to do small group teaching for reading, writing and math.  I have read other teachers' blogs from Florida who have accomplished this, and they say it is very effective. 

If you and your family have your health, you are among the luckiest of people.

Happy Holidays!  To your health and happiness!


Peek at my Vacation Week!

I love Sunday night right now because I get to stay home tomorrow and clean/organize my house.  Plus I get to link up for:

sponsored by Jennifer whose blog is at:  http://mrslaffinslaughings.blogspot.com/

I'll be reading blogs and entering various giveaways.  Here's one to check out:

It's another amazing and awesome giveaway which you can check out at:

http://www.collaborationcuties.blogspot.com/ or click on the button:

There are 3 prize packages:  the one shown above; a $50 gift card for Amazon; and one of those fancy pencil sharpeners that make no noise. 

 At night I'll get to do the crossword puzzle and read a book.  I have the new Johanna Trolloppe book:  Sense and Sensibility.

 One of the best parts of being on vacation means I'll get to catch up on all of my fun and exciting household chores such as laundry, vacuuming, tidying the house, etc.  As a reward, I'll get to do my blogs.  Most importantly, I'll get to do some gift shopping.

On Christmas, I LOVE to open all my teacher gifts with my family.  Since my kids are all grown-up and get gift cards/money for presents, I LOVE to open my gifts because they're surprises.  Plus, several of my students told me that I am "going to love the gift" they gave me. 

Here's an example of what my own children are getting for Christmas:

1.  My 24 year old daughter, Bethany - money to pay for the curtains/purchases she got at Anthropologie.

2.  My 22 year old son, Derek - money to pay for the side view mirror he knocked off my husband's car and money to repair the other car.

3.  My 20 year old son, Andrew - money to replace the retainer he lost now that his teeth are getting crooked again and a vacuum for his apartment.

At least, these are all gifts they need and no shopping is involved on my part (except for the vacuum).

Here's my wish for all of you - health and happiness for you and your families - the best gifts of all!

Happy Holidays!


Saturday Storybook Link-Up on Saturday and a Great Giveaway

 Hello!  It's my favorite day of vacation - the first day when the whole vacation is still in front of you.

Anyway, Paula is doing her Storybook Link-Up even though she just had her first day of summer vacation last week - she lives in Australia.


One series of books that I particularly love to read aloud is Geronimo Stilton.  These books are definitely made to be read out loud because there are so many opportunities to read with expression.  Plus I want to make sure that the kids hear how this type of reading makes a difference.  

Here's an idea for any time in the winter:  The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown.


After reading the book, you can have the kids write their own important book, using the same format as the book.  Here's the link to this free and fun activity:


Also, check out this amazing giveaway at:   Reading Toward the Stars!  There are so many prizes to win.  Plus I do love my Rafflecopters.

While you're at this blog, you can check out more holiday book recommendations.


Finally, it's Friday!

I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday.


We had our Welcome Winter Breakfast Party this morning.  We had cinnamon buns, mini bagels and Santa strawberries (so cute and delicious).  It was a small amount of food so the party was quick and simple and no leftovers.  

I read the MOST AMAZING book today - Silver Packages:  An Appalachian Christmas Story by Cynthia Rylant - to all three third grade classes.  Then each class went off and wrote a letter of appreciation to a parent or another family member.  

The kids wrote letters from their hearts.  Here's an example of one of the letters:

Here's the link if you would like to download the template for the letter:

Then I put the letters in a manila folder and covered the folder with aluminum foil.  
The best part of this amazing book is that it is based on a true story of a rich man who had a car accident and was cared for by local people in the Appalachian Mountains.  To repay his debt, he brought gifts wrapped in silver packages to local children by train.  Even thought this is officially a Christmas story, the message is timeless - try to check it out if you can.

Of course, I have to give total credit for this idea to Gina whose blog is at: 


This is why I love blogging so much - I get the best and most incredible ideas from other teachers who are so generous to share.  I'm so thankful to Gina for sharing this lesson because it is definitely a new tradition.  My coworker, Mrs. J., said, "I have 4 words.  This is a keeper."  Now those are words of high praise!

Our class was totally fortunate to have a parent who is also a teacher, come to class to make a craft with the kids.  Mrs. Gibbons helped the kids make painted salt and pepper shakers which she brought home to bake in the oven at a low temperature to set the paint.  She also provided gift bags.  How amazingly generous is that!  A BIG thanks go out to Mrs. Gibbons for her exceptional generosity and creativity.

On top of that, she's totally photogenic!

We finished our chapter on Landforms and had our big 4 page chapter test.  We didn't get to our weekly Spelling test due to all the excitement, but that's ok - once in a while.
On a personal note, my husband has been in Florida for the last 2 weeks as his father was in hospice care.  His father died yesterday (Friday, December 20).  In about 30 minutes, I'm headed off to the airport to retrieve my husband.  I predict that my dog, Gabi, is going to be the happiest dog very shortly.

Happy Holidays and Happy Vacation!

This was the quote at my last Weight Watchers meeting.  I wonder what the possibility of this happening might be.

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