Journal, Wisdom

Outdoor Play

I used a card table and a sheet

This picture brought to mind how my cousins and I would make do with whatever was handy to create our own environment for play. We didn’t need expensive toys or electronic devices to entertain us, our imaginations did the work. Our creativity flourished in our grandmother’s garage that housed boxes of old clothes that we used to put on plays. We draped a sheet across the wire that held the garage door and it instantly became a theater. We didn’t care if we had an audience or not. A refrigerator box became a puppet theater.

I remember learning about the lifecycle of frogs long before second grade. The little stream near our home was host to tadpoles, frogs and dragonflies. We were keen observers and had conversations about our discoveries. Holding a caterpillar or a snail was a science lesson. The lessons and experiences gained from outdoor play are stored in longterm memory. I think the most important aspect of outdoor play is that it supports children’s problem-solving skills and nurtures their creativity, as well as providing rich opportunities for their developing imagination, inventiveness and resourcefulness.


Nature promotes the use of executive function skills. Executive function skills are the life skills we use at every age, and that help us stay organized and independent. With unstructured play in nature, children are using creativity to solve problems and working memory to make up stories. They work their flexible thinking skills by testing boundaries and learning how to stay safe while exploring, creating, and having fun. They are strengthening and challenging their own life skills just by playing!






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Book Recommendations, Children's Books, Literacy Resources

Books For The First Day of School

I have put together a list of books for your child’s first day back at school. These books are best for ages 3-8. It’s a good idea to read aloud and discuss with your child their hopes and fears about a new school year. Be proactive and do this before school begins. The books I have on this post are useful, and I have used many myself in various classrooms. They are always a big hit with students. Parents, this is a good opportunity for you to prepare your child for school in the fall.

Another delightful Pigeon adventure from the wonderful author Mo Willems.

. Great for ages 3-5.


Little Critter is a bit nervous about starting school today. There’s a lot to be done before he can even get on the bus—he has to pick out his clothes, find his backpack, pack the perfect lunch, and say good-bye to Mom. Join Little Critter as he gets ready for this exciting day. Lift the flaps and find out what surprises are in store for Little Critter on his first day of school! Ages 3-6


With its heartfelt message and colorfully whimsical illustrations, “Our Class is a Family” is a book that will help build and strengthen the class community. Kids learn that their classroom is a place where it’s safe to be themselves, it’s okay to make mistakes, and it’s important to be a friend to others. When hearing this story being read aloud by their teacher or parent, students are sure to feel like they are part of a special family away from home. Great for Ages 4-7


Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical text and Rafael López’s dazzling art reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway.

(This book is also available in Spanish, as El Día En Que Descubres Quién Eres!) Ages 5-8


Lena doesn’t want to miss out on her first day of school, but she can’t go without her favorite shoes! How can she convince them to be brave? Ages 4-8


The first day of school is right around the corner! And everything is bigger for Bigfoot — especially back to school problems like getting a haircut, trying on new clothes, and finding new shoes that fit! Told from a giant (and very hairy) point of view, Back to School with Bigfoot deftly tackles the worries kids face as that first day of school draws closer, and ends on a colossal high note!

Ages 4-8


This is a humorous book that will calm the jitters of the first day. On the first day of school, new classmates are asked to share what they would most like to happen in the upcoming year. Some kids’ hopes are familiar while others are off-the-wall. Whether it’s looking good on picture day or skateboarding at school, everyone’s wishes are shown in humorously exaggerated illustrations.  Ages 6-8

 Miss Mingo, a flashy flamingo, starts off the year by inviting all creatures big and small to share something special about themselves. Did you know that Cricket hears with his legs, Snake smells with his tongue, and Frog enjoys eating his own skin? Visit this multi-species classroom for a nonfiction storybook filled with learning — and laughter.







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Literacy Resources

Guided Reading

Guided reading is an instructional practice or approach where teachers support a small group of students to read a text independently.

You select books that students can read with about 90 to 94 percent accuracy. Students can understand and enjoy the story because it’s accessible to them through their own strategies, supported by your introduction.

They focus on meaning but also use problem-solving strategies to figure out words they don’t know, deal with difficult sentence structure, and understand concepts or ideas they have never before encountered in print.

You should choose Guided Reading Program books for students that:

  • Match their knowledge base
  • Help them take the next step in learning to read
  • Are interesting to them
  • Offer just enough challenge to support problem solving while still supporting fluency and meaning
  • You work with a small group of students with similar needs.
  • You provide introductions to the text that support students’ later attempts at problem solving.
  • Each student reads the whole text or a unified part of the text.
  • Readers figure out new words while reading for meaning.
  • You prompt, encourage, and confirm students’ attempts at problem solving.
  • You and your students engage in meaningful conversations about what they are reading.
  • You and your student revisit the text to demonstrate and use a range of comprehension strategies.






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About Me

FEED YOUR MIND

I’ve been putting up daily reminders to focus on the importance of a healthy attitude based on my values. Reframing negative thoughts is becoming part of my daily practice.

Today I am in my upstairs bedroom while installers are putting in new flooring. I learned that my daily practice is working. I called my son to tell him what progress is being made on the massive flooring project. I mentioned that I was told not to walk on the stairs until morning. He said, “So you’re basically trapped upstairs.” I told him ,”I prefer to think of it differently because I have a bed, bathroom, and kitchen , so I have everything I need for now.” I also told him that sometimes having alone time is great.

It really helps to begin each day with the intention of feeding the mind a healthy diet .

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Uncategorized

Another Sunset

I never get tired of seeing this view. Today it is foggy and there isn’t much chance of sunshine to make a stunning sunset, but most of the time the treat at the end of the day is the colors on the horizon.







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Journal

Growing in a Glove and Dem Bones

Quite a few years ago when I taught a 4/5 combination class

My fourth and fifth graders loved experiments. This was a fun way for them to get a close-up view of germination. We planted sunflower seeds by pressing them onto a moistened cotton ball. We used clear plastic gloves and taped them to the windows. The students documented the progress in their science journals. Great fun!


Dem Bones

When we studied bones we got a bit creative and used qtips.






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Journal

Seaglass = Mermaid Tears

After a light rain, I thought about walking on the beach to look for seagrass. I identify with seaglass. I have been broken, beaten against rocks, swept away by winds, and over time my sharp edges have been smoothed by the battering of the elements. I have emerged triumphant and reformed.


Click here to view a video about seagrass.


Seagrass began as a bottle of some sort (perfume, soda, whiskey, etc,)


The rarest color to find is pink, and some purple.


All shapes and sizes


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Book Recommendations

Thoughts in Our Head

I am bombarded with thoughts, a steady stream of reactions, opinions, and what ifs. Some are helpful, some are not. After I read Emotional Agility by Susan David, I realized that what I needed was to be aware of how the negative thoughts do not serve me or align with my values. How did I get to my age and not internalize this? My runaway thoughts have caused misunderstandings, mistakes, and regret.

One of my favorite quotes from her book is, “Who is in control; the thinker or the thought?” Such a simple question, but it has the power to pull me into the present moment with a keener insight into how my thoughts can effect my actions. Another quote that I love is, “Don’t believe everything you think.” After I read her book, I subscribed to her newsletter (free). Every so often I will receive a bit of wisdom that reminds me to keep in check. I take a look at my values, what I cherish, the beliefs I hold. It has helped me get centered. In a world that seems upside-down at times, this book was just what I needed.








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About Me, Journal

My Beach Life

So many tourists visit our little town, and not just during the summer. The cooler ocean air brings many people from the valley to our area to escape the heat.

The roughed coast of California offers sights that visitors from other areas seldom, if ever, see. I live in a place that is an escape for many. Being a desirable vacation destination means it gets unusually crowded with tourists on holidays. The rest of the time it is peaceful and quiet.

Up the coast we have a viewing site for elephant seals, and if you look up into the nearby hills, you will see Hearst Castle, where zebras, cows and llamas roam the area. The sunsets cause drivers to pull over and to stare in awe. I’m grateful that I live in this beautiful, peaceful place.

Having lived in the high desert for too long, the 23 years I have been on the Central Coast have given me a firm belief that being near the ocean restores body and mind. I am grateful to be lulled to sleep by the waves. Some nights I can hear the seals on the rocks.





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Journal

Dream Big

I used to live in the high desert where it can reach 120 degrees F in the summer and sometimes snows in the winter. To be honest, I never felt like it was where I belonged. I longed to live near the ocean where I could feel the cool ocean breeze. I am sure that the high desert has its own charm, but I never saw it. I used to dream about someday living so close to the ocean that I could hear the waves crashing on the shore. I remember a trip north and stopping at The Rock in Morro Bay. The parking lot was packed and the surfers were lined up waiting to catch waves. I sat in the car and wondered what kind of work might afford me the opportunity to someday live in this incredible coastal area. It was a dream I held in my heart.

It sounds trite to say that we never know what the future holds, but I do believe that setting an intention and moving in the direction of your dream, coupled with prayer and doing the legwork, results in positive outcomes. I had lessons to learn and there were many. I always kept my dream of living near the ocean.

I have been a happy coastal resident for 25 years. If you are going to dream, make it big, hold tight to it, be open to change, work hard and give thanks in all things.



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Journal

Son of My Son

I was still a teenager when I had my son. I had no idea how to raise a child. I only knew that holding him was the best feeling ever. I knew that loving him would be easy. I had the luxury of staying home and caring for him while his dad went to work. My son received my full attention. I read to him from a variety of books. Teaching him was my full-time job. Playing with him, singing to him, and resting next to him are sealed in my memory. The number one song at that time was The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. I sang it to him at every nap and bedtime.

When my grandson was born all those sweet memories were visible in his beautiful face. He is inquisitive, fearless, and incredibly loving. I know my son will have the joy of his life with his own son. I am a blessed grandma.

When you teach your son, you teach your son’s son.

The Talmud







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Journal

The Sense of Wonder

This photo of my granddaughter serves to remind me to savor the images and times when I was captivated by someone or something. The sense of wonder is a cause for celebration. She was at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and stood inside a tunnel that allowed her to see a wave breaking above her. That sense of awe is something that children encounter often as they have new experiences, ones I have taken for granted. They unabashedly show their feelings, and it is beautiful to watch.

I think it is my grandchildren that opened my eyes to a renewed appreciation for nature. They most definitely savor new experiences. They are expressive and inquisitive. The newness of everything and their sense of wonder is contagious. I am filled with gratitude for the privilege of being a part of their lives. I hope they keep their sense of wonder and embrace new experiences with the same curiosity and enthusiasm.






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Journal

Seeing The Light

Many years ago I went through some rough times. I was a single mother living in the high desert. There were times when there wasn’t much money and very little to look forward to. I was in a dark and lonely place with little hope, and blinded to possibilities that were available. At the time I didn’t know where to turn. The feeling of isolation and hopelessness engulfed me. I remember spending days wondering when this endless, trapped feeling would end.

I took a class at the community college to build my confidence. I learned about grants and loans I could apply for that would help me pursue a career of my choosing. I wondered what I was good at (other than cooking, cleaning and raising kids). I thought about teaching because I loved teaching Sunday School. Before I knew it I was completing coursework that would lead to a teaching credential. I learned that education unlocks the door to opportunity and a life of possibility. For me it was life-altering.

I encourage anyone who feels like they are trapped and feeling hopeless to investigate what opportunities await them through coursework. Baby steps enable the confidence to take giant leaps of faith. Go toward a better future.






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Book Reviews

City of Girls- a review

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert is set in New York during the 1940’s. After flunking out of Vasser, Vivian is sent to live with her aunt, the owner of a shabby theater, The Lily, to repair and create costumes for showgirls. The cast of amateur actors and dancers perform melodramas for the locals who are grateful for the low ticket prices.

It’s the cast of characters that is most appealing, particularly Vivian, the protagonist, who acts as the narrator. At 90, she reaches back in time to tell her story when she is asked, “Who were you to my father?”

She weaves a tale of a wild nightlife, her first love, and mistakes she makes in a world that is new and intriguing to her. She quickly assimilates to the New York nightlife only to regret her indiscretion with the husband of Edna, who lets her know, in no uncertain terms, who she really is. That same man changes the character of the theater as well as Vivian.

I found myself highlighting so many of Gilbert’s witticisms. This is definitely a good read, even with the raunchy sex scenes. It is, after all, a coming-of-age story. Gilbert has a gift for putting you in the setting, describing vividly everything that takes you into the book. I could almost feel the feather boas, and hear the laughter from the audience. I am so glad I took it off of my “To Be Read Shelf.”







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Journal

Take Me back

If I could go anywhere in the world, I would choose Wales. Hands down it is the most magical, natural, serene land of peace I’ve ever visited. When I read Tintern Abbey by William Wordsworth in college, so long ago,
I knew that one day I had to see this inspiring place. Little did I know that my daughter would marry and move to Wales. She and my son-in-law took me to see Tintern Abbey. Stepping inside the ruins, I immediately felt drawn to the beams of light that streamed through the remains of windows. The sense of holiness is overwhelming.

There are a variety of landscapes and landmarks that are scattered throughout Wales. Each one is impressive historically as well as aesthetically.

 Snowdon is the highest mountain in Wales. Snowdonia’s magnificent scenery is accentuated by stark and rugged rock formations, many of volcanic origin, whereas the Beacons generally have softer outlines. In the winter it is a wonderland. There are plenty of waterfalls. The uplands are girdled on the seaward side by a series of steep-sided coastal plateaus ranging in elevation from about 100 to 700 feet.

There is a village, Eyam, where the villagers isolated themselves during the plaque. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-35064071 I spent hours looking at the preserved village realizing how selfless the people were to protect others from the deadly disease.






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Journal

Moods

There are mood changers all around us if we look for them. Here’s my list. I encourage you to make your own.

  1. When you smile at someone and they smile back
  2. Fresh flowers on the kitchen table
  3. Find an intact sand dollar
  4. Iced tea on a hot day
  5. Lay in a hammock
  6. Look at old photos
  7. Setting out a hummingbird feeder
  8. Sing in the shower
  9. Keep a journal
  10. Baking bread
  11. Watercolor painting
  12. Volunteer
  13. Walk outside for 30 minutes
  14. Look at the stars
  15. Donate unused items
  16. Plant vegetables
  17. Visit the animal shelter
  18. Write thank you notes
  19. Read a classic
  20. Listen to your favorite music







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Journal

My Daughter

Dr. Katie

I don’t know how many people can say that their daughter is their best friend, but I can. Katie was a quiet, loving little girl who collected rocks that caught her eye. Her bedroom closet was home to an assortment of rocks that very quickly became a quarry. I used to beg her to clean her room. If I had a crystal ball I may have been able to predict that later in her life she would find archaeology fascinating. I passed by the bathroom and heard her singing in the shower when she was eight years old. This quiet little girl never sang for anyone in her family until I heard her sing. She was part of a singing group in High School where she performed many solos. She aspired to be a rock star (rocks again). My beautiful daughter fell in love in the mountains of Santa Cruz where she met a young British man. They were both camp counselors for the summer. After high school she moved to England to go to college and be with her love. She earned a PhD in Anthropology and Steven is a medical doctor who also has his PhD. They have two lovely girls who are as inquisitive and caring as their parents. Katie has grown into the smartest woman I know. Her capacity to love is limitless. She is wise beyond her years, someone who I call on for advice and validation. I am in awe of her kindness and patience. Today is her birthday and I think I received the greatest gift when she was born. Thank you, God, for this sweet baby girl of mine. 







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Journal, Wisdom

Finding Joy

I have taken a break from any kind of “must do” or social media that tends to take me down a rabbit hole. I have been taking an internal inventory of my values to make sure I am living in alignment with them. It has been a journey of the soul, one that has opened my eyes to the many missed opportunities to right the wrong and stay true to what is important to me. My daily routine includes time on the treadmill listening to music that I love. I put flowers in a vase on my dining room table to remind me of the beauty outside my door. An afternoon nap recharges my energy and reminds me that rest is restorative. I now make my own frozen yogurt so I know exactly what is in it. My experiment in eating 90% plant- based food has proven to be beneficial. I discovered how good cherry tomatoes are as a snack. I squeeze a lime into my water and add crushed ice. I am making simple changes that heal body and mind.

My grandson turns two on Monday and he tugged on my blouse the other day. I turned around and he said, ” I love you, grandma, so so much. You’re a good grandma.” I picked him up, held him, and wanted to freeze time. It really is the little things that feed our soul. There is no doubt that when you stop to acknowledge the good, actively move in the direction of your values, and disconnect from anything that gets you off track, you enjoy the little things. I wish you joy.








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Journal

Rescued

Who Rescued Who? 

I was on my way home from work when my husband called me to ask how I like the Pyrenees. I told him that I absolutely love them. I thought he was referring to the mountain range I saw while traveling through Spain and France. He meant the dog breed. He told me he was at the animal shelter and he wanted me to stop by. What I didn’t know is that my husband had spent hours in an outdoor pen playing fetch, petting and getting acquainted with what I thought resembled a small white horse. I couldn’t say no when he asked if we could take him home.

Once inside our house the giant white dog galloped upstairs and took a bite out of the edge of the coffee table. Not satisfied with that, he went for my Ugg boots and tore them to bits. We chased and yelled, until he came to a stop near my rocking chair. We tried to get him downstairs by enticing him with treats, but not before he bit the legs off my rocking chair. I just cried. My husband kept saying, “ He’s scared and hasn’t learned yet.” I named him Max because he reminded me of the naughty boy from Where the Wild Things Are.

We thought we would try putting Max in the backyard. He chewed the top of our spa cover. I told my husband that either the dog receives training in order to extinguish bad behavior or we find a new home for Max. I obviously lacked the same patience and optimism that my husband had. My husband attended training classes every Saturday and after two months we had a different dog. Max is my husband’s best friend and they are inseparable. It turns out Great Pyrenees are very loyal, protective and gentle.

As for the tiny fur ball, she did not get along with her siblings so I rescued her. I did not name her, but Tootsie seems to fit. She is quite the alarm system when anyone approaches our house. I learned about Great Pyrenees; they are guardian dogs for sheep. I think Max considers Tootsie a baby lamb and he is very protective. Can you tell which one is the trouble maker? Fortunately we have a lovely dog park at the end of our road. The dynamic duo are the best of friends.

Tootsie and Max

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Journal

Confidence

More than just thinking positively and with confidence, you have to put it into action. Action, actually, is the key to developing self-confidence. It’s one thing to learn to think positive, but when you start acting on it, you change yourself, one action at a time. You are what you do, and so if you change what you do, you change what you are. Act in a positive way, take action instead of telling yourself you can’t, be positive. Talk to people in a positive way, put energy into your actions. You’ll soon start to notice a difference.

I have learned to stand up straight, literally and metaphorically. I have the worst posture so I make an effort to imagine a strong magnet pulling me upright. I look and feel better when I stand straight. It draws my attention to the fact that bad things can be corrected with determination and actions. I liken it to being in alignment with my values. I don’t want to be pulled down! Onward and upward for me.

Somehow I can’t believe that there are any heights that can’t be scaled by a man who knows the secrets of making dreams come true. This special secret, it seems to me, can be summarized in four C s. They are curiosity, confidence, courage, and constancy, and the greatest of all is confidence. When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionable. – Walt Disney

https://zenhabits.net/25-killer-actions-to-boost-your-self-confidence/

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Journal, Wisdom

Name Calling

Children will own the names you call them. Choose your words carefully. This is good advice for teachers, but especially important that parents know this too. They are a child’s first teacher. Call them scholars, call them friends, call them writers, call them mathematicians, call them scientists, call them teachers, call them helpers, call them readers, call them thinkers, call them loved.

I don't ever... EVER call people names or say things to bring them down.  I've been there, I've been call… | Words quotes, Quotes about love and  relationships, Words

A book
I highly recommend to build a child’s confidence.




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Literacy Resources, Teen Brain

The Teen Brain

Teenage Brain Under Construction Workshop

Facts You May Not Know: Their Brains are under construction and not fully formed.

  • Your brain does not keep getting bigger as you get older
  • Your brain doesn’t finish developing and maturing until your mid- to late-20s. The front part of the brain, called the prefrontal cortex, is one of the last brain regions to mature. It is the area responsible for planning, prioritizing and controlling impulses.
  • Many mental disorders appear during adolescence
  • (schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and eating disorders—emerge during this time)
  • Teens should get about 9-10 hours of sleep a night, but most teens don’t get enough sleep. A lack of sleep makes paying attention hard, increases impulsivity and may also increase irritability and depression.

Recognize that there is an emotional connection in learning.  If students think you care and are invested, then they will care and be invested. Also, be aware that they can’t always control their emotions and don’t always know why they make the choices they do.

•Recognize there is a physical connection to learning. The brain essentially uses glucose and oxygen as food.  Adding kinesthetic activities to instruction circulates oxygen and glucose in students’ brains, increasing the efficiency of student learning. Plus, moving around & talking are WAY more fun than taking notes.

•Teens need more sleep than children and adults

•Although it may seem like teens are lazy, science shows that melatonin levels (or the “sleep hormone” levels) in the blood naturally rise later at night and fall later in the morning than in most children and adults. This may explain why many teens stay up late and struggle with getting up in the morning. Teens should get about 9-10 hours of sleep a night, but most teens don’t get enough sleep. A lack of sleep makes paying attention hard, increases impulsivity and may also increase irritability and depression.


•There is another part of the brain that is fully active in adolescents, and that’s the limbic system. And that is the seat of risk, reward, impulsivity, sexual behavior and emotion.

•So they are built to be novelty-seeking at this point in their lives. Their frontal lobe isn’t able to say, “That’s a bad idea, don’t do that.” That’s not happening to the extent it will in adulthood.



References: 

•“The Teen Brain: Still Under Construction.” National Institute of Mental Health. National Institute of Health. 2011. Web. 2 Jan. 2014.

•Bruer, John. Frontline Interview. Inside the Teenage Brain. 2002. Web. 2  Jan. 2014.

Dearborn, Grace. “Rebels with Applause: Brain-Compatible Approaches for Motivating Reluctant Learners.” Conscious Teaching. 2013. Web. 2 Jan. 2014.

Giedd, Jay. Frontline Interview. Inside the Teenage Brain. 2002. Web. 2 Jan. 2014.


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About Me, Journal

Quilts for Grandkids

It gives me great joy to put my love into each quilt. They sleep under a blanket of love. I have a Babylock Spirit Embroidery Machine that I use for the designs.

Hooded bath towels

I make hooded bath towels for kids of all ages. If you have a special character in mind, email me (Caysunset@gmail.com) and I will see if I can make it for you. $30 each and mailing within US is an additional $10.

$40.00


Post retirement activities. So fun.



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Journal

Tradition


One of the pleasures of summer is that I usually travel to visit my darling granddaughters in the UK. I established a tradition of buying new shoes for the girls at my favorite shoe store, Clarks. Once they were able to walk, we would go into a city center to get their feet sized properly. The clerk would take a photo and present it to the parents. I extended the shoe buying to include their parents. There is comfort in knowing that I left them with something useful that plants their feet firmly on the land we all love so much. I love the idea of establishing traditions. It’s my hope that the memories will be a source of joy and that they will continue this tradition or make their own. I can’t wait for our next trip to Clarks.

Quotes about Building a tradition (19 quotes)





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Children's Books, Diversity in the Classroom

Children’s Diverse Fairy Tales

No big changes from what you would expect from a telling of The Little Mermaid, but it is set in the Carribean with vibrant island colors and a notably dark-haired and darker-skinned Little Mermaid. I love the illustrations by Nivea Ortiz, they are vibrant and keep little ones who aren’t reading independently yet enthralled.


A funny re-telling of the classic fairy tale Princess and the Pea. Set in Peru and with a dash of Spanish words throughout the rhyming text tells the story of a prince who is being prepped for marriage and his mother who is making sure that only a real princess makes the cut. The queen is absolutely a monster-in-law, but the sweet prince makes up for her and then some. This book is a fantastic read-aloud, and I can’t give it away, but there might be a funny twist at the end too.

There are no twists or changes made to the classic tale and the text is short enough for a circle time read. Children adore the rich colors used in the illustrations and I love that there are no big changes to the story, simply a different lens and location.
A retelling of Goldilocks and the Three Bears that takes place during Chinese New Year. Goldy Luck is asked to take some food over to her neighbors but when they aren’t home curiosity gets the better of her and she gets into all kinds of trouble.
A retelling of Little Red Riding Hood that has a sick Auntie with spots and it’s up to Little Red to get her what she needs. Instead of a wolf, there is a Hungry Lion who has no clue what he’s getting himself into!  Kids love this book, the illustrations are hilarious and the story is fun. I don’t think it’s particularly African, in the way that Rachel Isadora’s books successfully incorporate cultural references in a much deeper way, but this is a fun read that has a brave little heroine and is definitely worth reading and finding a place for it on your bookshelf.
This is a story about respect and how there is a difference between being comfortable in other people’s houses and crossing lines that shouldn’t be crossed. Beautiful book that celebrates these lessons and the West African culture of Ghana.
In this version of Stone Soup a fisherman gets tricked into helping to make soup. This book is told from the point of view of the fisherman but the illustrations show a different point of view. (China)





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Children's Books, Literacy Resources

Children’s Books for End of the School Year

 Each page offers a blessing, beginning with “I wish”.  “I wish you more ups than downs.”  “I wish you more give than take.”  “I wish you more we than me.” It conveys a message of caring. I like the diversity of the children on each page, and the endless opportunities it offers for follow-up activities.  It’s such an incredible way to provide one another with meaningful wishes as you say goodbye.
This book takes the standard fairy tale, and flips it in reverse! The story starts at the end, and works its way backwards to the beginning.  While the book is amazing as a stand alone, It’s a great end of the year trip down memory lane!
This story focuses on James, who decides that he is going to be on his VERY BEST behavior on the last day of school.  He lists all of the the things he WON’T do on the last day of school so he can get the final gold star of the year and impress his teacher.
 It is a fun-filled story about the life of a second grader, Billy Miller.  If you only have time to read part of it, the first section of the book is called “Teacher,” where Billy deals with the insecurities and anxieties of starting a new grade with a new teacher.
Four, three, two, ONE! The last day of school is finally here. For Ivy and her friends it’s time to take down pictures, clean shelves and say good-bye. But there is also time for one last surprise. Your students will enjoy this follow-up to First Day, Hooray!


Are you singing a certain song right now? It’s the last day of school! Gilbert is excited about summer vacation. First there’s a class party, and Mrs. Byrd will give out the end-of-the-year awards. But will Gilbert even get one? Patty’s the best speller. Philip’s the best reader.



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Journal, Wisdom

Feeling Safe

Feeling protected provides us with warmth, confidence and security. Feeling wanted leads to feeling safe. Being safe is the absence of beating yourself up or feeling that all that is good in your life is a moment away from vanishing forever. When you are protected, you know deeply that you deserve to live in a safe space and have the happiness that it brings.

To help us be safe, a part of the brain, the amygdala, monitors the environment. Anything unexpected or unfamiliar causes the amygdala to release stresshormones. Though the amygdala may be reacting to something that is harmless, the hormones cause feelings of alarm and the urge to escape. What happens next depends on whether a person is secure or insecure.

Feeling secure is a basic human need in several ways. Firstly, there is the physical security – we need to be protected from the elements and other dangers. But mental security is just as important – we need to feel that we belong and that we have control of our lives, that we are safe.

Being safe is the state of being protected from harm or other non-desirable outcomes. Feeling safe, which is also called psychological safety, means being self-assured that we are not in danger. Having a sense of well-being can’t fully happen if we don’t feel safe first. A lack of psychological safety is a major trigger for many of our unwanted emotions as fear and anxiety, which can really block the pursuit of a healthy and calm mind. 

Try to notice how your body responds when you start to feel unsafe. You may feel like your heart is racing, you might feel like you are losing control, or even going into a full panic attack. The reality is that most of the time we are not in real threatening danger, and those reactions are only a sensation created by how our minds perceive the environment to be.

  1. Don’t deny your feelings. Awareness is key. If you feel unsafe, afraid, or anxious, don’t try to fight these feelings. Don’t try to convince yourself you are not scared or anxious, instead, accept and calmly plan how you can shift away from those feelings. Avoid those who do not share your values.
  2. When you feel unsafe, speak with someone, seek support, don’t keep your thoughts to yourself. A human voice can help you calm down, organize your thoughts, and think more clearly on an action plan.
  3. Seek out these who lift you up, share your values, and have an overarching spirit of positivity.

Archives:


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Journal, Wisdom

A Little Love

Don’t we all need it right now?

More important than me loving you, is you loving yourself. I’ve been thinking a lot about self-love and how it is not selfish to love and care for yourself. Sadness, loneliness and despair can keep you trapped in a downward spiral. Self-pity can wrap around you like a poisonous vine. I love a quote from Susan David’s book, Emotional Agility: ” Don’t believe everything you think.” Begin each day by saying three things you are grateful for. I can start you off with number one, you woke up to see another day. Be patient with yourself. Get outside even for a few minutes. Take deep breaths and let them out slowly while thinking of who you could help this day, even if it is yourself, and even if you share a smile with someone. Take care, my friend.





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Diversity in the Classroom, Literacy Resources

Diversity in the Classroom

Every Voice Heard — We are a Family

A school culture that promotes diversity in the classroom teaches students something that’s important: how to live and work in a society where every individual is unique. Diversity in the classroom teaches students to appreciate different perspectives and draw stronger conclusions. Challenging students to consider different perspectives can also teach them how to interact with their peers on a social level, and equip them with skills they’ll use for the rest of their life.

*********If it’s difficult to change your existing curriculum, use the opportunity to ask students why different perspectives aren’t included and challenge them to apply critical thinking skills.


  • Shut down discrimination whenever you hear it. Speak out against slurs and derogatory comments.
  • Use language that promotes positivity and doesn’t reinforce existing stereotypes (for example, the phrase “boys will be boys” shouldn’t be used to justify sexism or aggression) .
  • Respond effectively to inappropriate comments or actions. Take infractions seriously and inform parents when necessary.
  • Encourage students to include all of their peers if you see division forming along racial or economic lines. 
  • Remove existing markers of inequality in your school. (For example, make sure students who are eligible for free or reduced lunch programs aren’t singled out and made to feel different.)

Resources:

  1.  https://www.embracerace.org/resources/16-ways-to-help-children-become-thoughtful-informed-and-brave-about-race?gclid=CjwKCAjwhMmEBhBwEiwAXwFoEYMKMfRZlLSr6Mz-KZLe-9Xmjo_XnbUBZR4Z3wNolDKmth–f4kujBoCsecQAvD_BwE  
  2. https://www.embracerace.org/resources/young-kids-racial-injustice
  3. https://www.gcu.edu/blog/teaching-school-administration/4-ways-celebrate-diversity-classroom
  4. https://www.naturespath.com/en-ca/blog/15-activities-kids-learn-different-cultures/
  5. https://blog.brookespublishing.com/8-ways-to-show-young-children-that-diversity-is-a-strength/
  6. Printables:  https://www.teachervision.com/subjects/social-studies-history/culture-diversity
  7. Activities: http://www.sbhihelp.org/files/Diversity88Ways.pd






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Journal

Find Joy in Simple Things

Grandma’s kitchen holds a variety of interesting things.

I had the pleasure of having my grandson spend the night at my house for the first time. I think my son sensed that I could benefit from a break in my routine. It’s obvious that time with my grandson always makes me smile, so when he asked if I would care for Maverick overnight I eagerly said yes. I don’t have many toys that would capture the interest of an almost two year old. At least I didn’t think so.

As I started dinner, I made sure he wasn’t out of my sight. I also wanted to keep him occupied. Drawing on my memory from when his daddy was his age, I began pulling unbreakable items from cupboards. To my delight he found the random objects fascinating. He may be a musician someday because he kept banging things and shaking a maraca while humming. My small kitchen was filled with joy! When he said, “Sing grandma,” I couldn’t resist, but after one chorus of my version of “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley, Maverick said, “Don’t sing, Grandma.” So I will leave the musical talent to my grandson who made me laugh all day. He showed me how great it is to find joy in simple things.







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Children's Books, Diversity in the Classroom

Children’s Books on Diversity

Our world is a tapestry and each of us contribute to the whole. These are books that celebrate our unique identities that are more alike than different.

Written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Leslie Staub. This book takes the reader around the world, showing how we may all be different in so many ways, but we have so much in common as well. The sweet message is accompanied by vividly colorful illustrations showing diverse people, families and homes
Written by Maria Dismondy and illustrated by Donna Farrell. This book, inspired by a true story, follows a young boy who moves to a new school where everyone speaks a different language. One of the other boys in school doesn’t want to accept him, but he soon learns an important lesson of friendship and kindness from his peers reminding the reader how beautiful cultural diversity can be.
Written by P.K. Hallinan. This sweet story shows why we should strive to gather a rainbow of friends. Diversity is beautiful. The adorable illustrations and simple rhyming text introduce the idea that we have lots of different kinds of friends, and they are all special.
Written by Shelley Rotner and Sheila M. Kelly. This book uses simple text and colorful photographs to introduce young readers to the many different shades of color that skin can be. This is a great toddler children’s book about diversity.
Written and illustrated by Sheila Hamanaka. This story celebrates the wide range of skin colors in the world, as well as all the beautiful colors found in nature. The lyrical text is combined with beautiful illustrations highlighting all the beautiful colors.
Written and illustrated by Calida Garcia Rawles. Lida and Lisa are first cousins who do everything together. When they play dress up one day, they start to see the differences in their appearances. Their wise grandmother helps them see that they can be different and still the same.


Written by Fran Manushkin and illustrated by Lauren Tobia. This rhyming book shows a diverse group of babies who are all happy in their skin. The sweet illustrations and rhyming text show readers all the ways that our skin is similar.



Written by Carmen Parets Luque. All families are different, but all families are special in their own way. The author introduces readers to the many different types of families in the world through simple text and creative illustrations of stick figures and buttons.

Written by Carmen Parets Luque. All families are different, but all families are special in their own way. The author introduces readers to the many different types of families in the world through simple text and creative illustrations of stick figures and buttons.

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Book Recommendations, Children's Books, Literacy Resources

Children’s Books for The First Day of School

I have put together a list of books for your child’s first day back at school. These books are best for ages 3-8. It’s a good idea to read aloud and discuss with your child their hopes and fears about a new school year. Be proactive and do this before school begins. The books I have on this post are useful, and I have used many myself in various classrooms. They are always a big hit with students. Parents, this is a good opportunity for you to prepare your child for school in the fall.

Another delightful Pigeon adventure from the wonderful author Mo Willems.

. Great for ages 3-5.


Little Critter is a bit nervous about starting school today. There’s a lot to be done before he can even get on the bus—he has to pick out his clothes, find his backpack, pack the perfect lunch, and say good-bye to Mom. Join Little Critter as he gets ready for this exciting day. Lift the flaps and find out what surprises are in store for Little Critter on his first day of school! Ages 3-6


With its heartfelt message and colorfully whimsical illustrations, “Our Class is a Family” is a book that will help build and strengthen the class community. Kids learn that their classroom is a place where it’s safe to be themselves, it’s okay to make mistakes, and it’s important to be a friend to others. When hearing this story being read aloud by their teacher or parent, students are sure to feel like they are part of a special family away from home. Great for Ages 4-7


Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical text and Rafael López’s dazzling art reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway.

(This book is also available in Spanish, as El Día En Que Descubres Quién Eres!) Ages 5-8


Lena doesn’t want to miss out on her first day of school, but she can’t go without her favorite shoes! How can she convince them to be brave? Ages 4-8


The first day of school is right around the corner! And everything is bigger for Bigfoot — especially back to school problems like getting a haircut, trying on new clothes, and finding new shoes that fit! Told from a giant (and very hairy) point of view, Back to School with Bigfoot deftly tackles the worries kids face as that first day of school draws closer, and ends on a colossal high note!

Ages 4-8


This is a humorous book that will calm the jitters of the first day. On the first day of school, new classmates are asked to share what they would most like to happen in the upcoming year. Some kids’ hopes are familiar while others are off-the-wall. Whether it’s looking good on picture day or skateboarding at school, everyone’s wishes are shown in humorously exaggerated illustrations.  Ages 6-8




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Journal

The Ride of my life

Proud owner of a Gordon and Smith surfboard

The palm tree out my window reminds me of my trip to Hawaii almost fourteen years ago. Two weeks before our planned adventure my husband bought me my first surfboard and wetsuit. Being an avid surfer himself, he wanted me to know how thrilling it can be to ride the waves. He made it look easy.

When we got to Oahu, we couldn’t wait to get into the warm water. Here on the Central Coast the water can be numbing. There were already more surfers out than I could count. I did exactly as he said and carried my board like a pro. My husband told me he would be watching me and to remember what he taught me. I didn’t tell him that I forgot it all.

“Go have fun. I’m going to be watching you.” Off he went to join the line up of surfers while I remained close to the shore. I spotted an old man giving lessons to kids and started paddling to get within earshot. I later learned the old man was “Rabbit Kakai” who is a famous surfer. As I paddled, a beautiful Hawaiian girl paddled toward me and shouted, “Howlie, stay in the channel.” I didn’t know what the channel was so I nodded and paddled on. I listen as the old man told the kids what to do. I followed each command from a distance. The people on the sand seemed miles away. When the old man shouted, “Stand up,” I did exactly as he said and I was riding a wave. It took me a few seconds to realize that I was actually upright and surfing. I will never forget the feeling.

The waves would seem to end, yet reform and I was still surfing. It was gloriously exhilarating and I was so proud of myself. I kept thinking, “I hope my husband is seeing this.” I did not remember how to disembark and I saw the shore drawing close, so I jumped off. Later he told me that he saw me surf and our next lesson will be on how to turn around and go back out. He tends to lose all track of time when he is surfing. Now I know why.

This has been a very tough 15 months. The future is looking up. This summer my husband will teach one of our granddaughters to surf. The beat goes on.

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Book Recommendations

The Power of Books

This happens to me all the time. Books ignite the imagination and take us on a journey.

Here are some books I have read recently and recommend. 


A book that grips you and takes you for a mystery tour. A bit of sleuthing is always fun.
Not like any other self-help book I have ever read. reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results. implementing these strategies can be life-changing.
A resource for anyone who has suffered inherited trauma. Full of life-changing stories, powerful insights, and practical tools for personal healing, this book offers hope to heal.
Offers ways to live your best life. An accessible read with a wealth of information, this friendly book will help you keep your brain sharp with easy-to-implement everyday steps we can all take to keep our brains healthy and strong. 





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Book Recommendations, Children's Books, Diversity in the Classroom, Literacy Resources

Childrens’ Books That are Relatable

A good book can spark imagination, teach us, and take us on a journey.

I love to share resources for children by topic. Kindly share with me if you have collections of special interest and I will add them. 😉 Teaching children to read and to Love reading is my passion.


We have all had a lousy day. Relatable text is important for children to make text-to-life connections.


Lucy is teased for being different. She finds courage to be herself.


This book helps children learn our fears are greatly exaggerated.



Kids will learn to put themselves in someone else’s shoes, lend a helping hand, and inspire others to do the same.


A book to teach about emotions and anger management.


Nurturing your child’s creativity might be one of the greatest gifts you can give to your child and to the world.


This is a story about loving yourself and respecting others.


This book introduces children to the practice of using mindful affirmations for support and encouragement when they need it. 

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Journal

A Much Needed Drive

Just south of Big Sur

The sun broke through the clouds turning a dreary morning into a prelude to the perfect spring day. I knew I had to get out into nature. My husband and I have had both vaccinations, so we decided to take a drive up Hwy 1. We were 10 miles from home when we realized that neither of us had a mask. We turned around, went home and made sure we had our masks and water for our Saturday drive. What struck me the most is how much I love the beauty of the California coast. The hills seemed greener, the yellow flowers greeted us around each bend. The lighthouse seemed to signal our return. When we reached Ragged Point, we walked the path to the overlook. We were the only ones there so we removed our masks to breathe the crisp salty air. I offered a silent prayer in gratitude for simplicity and freedom.

I thought about how much our world is changing. I wondered what it would be like for my grandchildren. Would we leave a mess and trust that they would figure it out? Would they speak of us as those who made a difference? Certainly something to think about.







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Children's Books, Literacy Resources

Childrens books on character building


In My Friend is Sad, elephant Gerald is down in the dumps. Piggie is determined to cheer him up by dressing as a cowboy, a clown, and even a robot! But what does it take to make a sad elephant happy? The answer will make even pessimistic elephants smile.


Edward has loads of toys but doesn’t share any of them with his little sister, Claire.

“They’re mine!”he says. That is, until one day when Edward finds himself in a predicament. With a little help from an unlikely ally, he learns that if he can share with others, they’ll share right back with him

Mike Reiss’s wickedly funny verse and David Catrow’s remarkable gift for comic illustration make this one book you’ll want to share—again and again!


Ruthie loves little things-the smaller the better. So when she finds a teeny tiny camera on the school playground one afternoon, she can hardly believe her luck. She wants to keep the camera in the worst way, but there’s one little problem: It isn’t hers. 


Listening with my heart reminds us of the importance of being friends to ourselves. It also touches on the universal themes of friendship, empathy and kindness. Includes mindfulness and self-compassion activities.


Help kids develop coping strategies to manage frustration and anger.


8 stories help kids see why telling the truth is so important in developing their integrity, and earning respect.


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Journal

Gifts From The Sea

Most or these were found on the beach here in our little town. Some are from The Shell Shop.


My granddaughter’s name, Kaia, means “Sea.” She loves all things ocean. Of all the books
I have, and two toy boxes of toys, she prefers to sort my seashells. We spent more than an hour deciding how to sort them (color, size, uniqueness). When it was bath time, she insisted on taking some shells into the tub. Why not? She extended her curiosity to include how seashells are home to some tiny creatures and how they travel from one place to another. Bonus: I even got to shampoo her hair.

After bath time there was more sorting to be done. This time she wondered about texture. So many learning opportunities inside Grandma’s box of shells!

My son and daughter-in-law know the importance of outdoor exploration. Kaia is encouraged to seek answers to questions, and check out the beautiful areas around her.

Play hard, sleep hard. That’s how she rolls!!

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Book Recommendations, Book Reviews, Journal

Books Anyone?


If you are like many people today you use your cell phone, Ipad or laptop to get updates on news and happenings.
I encourage you to make time for reading a book instead. The benefits are worthy of your time and attention. You have heard the phrase, “Use it or lose it.” Well, it applies to your brain. Reading stimulates your brain and allows new information to get lodged in longterm storage. The physical act of turning pages makes reading tactile, activating an area of your brain. Reading also allows you a break from stressful situations and provides an opportunity to experience places and have adventures in your mind. You gain new information that can be come in handy at some point.

Moreover, reading expands your vocabulary and helps improve critical thinking skills. There is a strong connection between reading and writing. Exposure to published, well-written work has a noted effect on one’s own writing, as observing the cadence, fluidity, and writing styles of other authors will invariably influence your own work. So next time you are inclined to grab your phone or ipad, pick up a good book and enjoy the benefits of turning the pages.

Here are some suggestions:

Set Boundaries, Find Peace presents simple-yet-powerful ways to establish healthy boundaries in all aspects of life. Rooted in the latest research and best practices used in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), these techniques help us identify and express our needs clearly and without apology–and unravel a root problem behind codependency, power struggles, anxiety, depression, burnout, and more.


While there is no such thing as an “Authenticity Expert,” you now have a viable alternative. Morhaf Al Achkar obtained his Ph.D in education and is currently a practicing family physician at the University of Washington. He was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. Since then, his research has focused on the experiences of patients living with cancer. His first book is based on interviews he did with 39 patients who live, like him, with advanced illness. He explored how these patients find meaning, cope, and build resilience. Using his own experiences and deep knowledge of philosophical concepts, Morhaf shares his understanding of authenticity from the perspective of someone aware of his own finitude.

◆ By following along with his fascinating life story, Morhaf invites you on a journey of dialogue and reflection to live a more authentic and purposeful life with integrity.


A Life Without Water can be read as a standalone, but is part of an overarching three book A Life Without Water Series. It is women’s fiction that pulls at your heartstrings from your new favorite author Marci Bolden. If you are seeking awell written, heartbreaking book about forgiveness, and finding peace amidst a tragedy . . . this book is for you! 


The book looks at the most serious issues and helps the reader process them. From the instructions: ”Write about what keeps you awake at night. The emotional upheaval bothering you the most and keeping you awake at night is a good place to start writing.”


A charming, clever, and quietly moving novel of of endless possibilities and joyful discoveries that explores the promises we make and break, losing and finding ourselves, the objects that hold magic and meaning for our lives, and the surprising connections that bind us.


 A revelatory look at the complexity of Gandhi’s thinking and motives, the book is a luminous portrait of not only the man himself, but also those closest to him—family, friends, and political and social leaders.


Five shots on Saturday morning change their fate forever…

Shurka is a happy young woman who lives a fairy tale life with her beloved husband and their two young children, in a pretty house in a village in Poland.

She believes that nothing can hurt them. Or so she thinks…

Then, World War II breaks out and the happy family quickly understands that their happiness has come to a brutal end. The family is forced to flee their house and find shelter in a neighboring ghetto, where they come to realized that the Gestapo is taking Jews away on trucks every night, never to be seen again.


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Journal, Wisdom

Quit Now

I would add smoking to this list as I watched my mother gasp for air as she died from emphysema.

The time to hit the redo button is now.



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Journal

Tea Time

A child’s imagination is fueled by experiences. Play fosters all kinds of opportunities to engage in cooperative interaction. My granddaughter loves to make tea for me. She started when she was almost two. She would ask me if I wanted some tea, and I would reply that I would love it if she would add a lemon slice and a dash of cinnamon. When she would bring me my tea, she would ask me if I would like something to eat. The teacher in me thought I could slip in a culture lesson, so I told her about how people in England like to add a bit of milk to their tea, and they enjoy having a biscuit with delicious jam. She set about making all kinds of treats for me to enjoy with my tea. From that day forward she has had a keen interest in what her mother is cooking and wants to help out in the kitchen whenever there is baking involved. Such a simple thing, a cup of tea, but the lasting memories and the spark of imagination will live on.







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Children's Books, Literacy Resources

Comprehension Strategies

The following are strategies for understanding what you read.

Visualization is Powerful ●Tell students to form a movie in their head as they read.

●You can lead them into this by having them draw as you read aloud.

●Use think alouds.

However, NONE of these comprehension strategies is taught in a single mini-lesson. It’s impossible to teach visualization in 15 minutes. Rather, plan and deliver numerous mini-lessons across the year that target the array of sub-skills that will prepare students to visualize independently.


LEARN TO MAKE CONNECTIONS

text to self – This reminds me of my own life…

When picking text to self books, it is important to look for books that have a theme that kids can relate to. Family, sibling rivalry, pets, school, or feelings are a great place to start. The characters also need to be realistic, especially for older kids. 


text to text– This reminds me of another book I’ve read/movie I’ve watched…


text to world– This reminds me this time in history/what’s going on in the world right now…

Excellent Resources:

●Harvey, S. & Goudvis, A. (2000). Strategies that work: Teaching comprehension to enhance understanding. Portland, ME: Stenhouse. ●Keene, E. & Zimmerman, S. (1997). Mosaic of Thought. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

●Tovani, C. (2000). I read it, but I don’t get it: Comprehension strategies for adolescent readers. Portland, ME: Steinhouse.

MY FAVORITE:





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Journal

My Baby Girl’s Baby Girl

Katie with Winnie

To me there are indescribable moments in a mother’s life that are forever in her memory. My daughter, Katie, is my youngest. Unlike me, she waited to have children. She was focused on college and a career. She established herself as a lecturer in anthropology and my son-in-law completed his studies as a doctor. After being in secure positions, they were blessed with Winnie. I have watched Katie sing to Winnie from the time she was born. Books and creative play have been a part of family time. My son-in-law, Steven, makes sure the house is filled with laughter. It is a joy to be in their home.

Winnie is 10 years old now, a bright, lovely, avid reader, mathematician with a caring heart and inquisitive mind. I am pleased to say that Winnie has a sister too. Josie is going to be five in August. She is a creative, lovely, inquisitive, adventurous spirit with a love of singing- just like her mum.

It is the greatest joy of my life to watch my children with their children.

It looks like a heart.




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Book Recommendations, Children's Books

Books That Teach Kindness

Monique is all about being different and transforms herself in this book wearing clothes from her mother’s old trunk. It’s a great one to teach about being an individual and finding that thing that makes you unique.  




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Children's Books, Literacy Resources

Children’s Books About Animals

This animal encyclopedia includes 500 amazing animal facts that offer hours of engaging learning. Alongside full-color pictures on every page, you’ll find weird and wonderful details about Magnificent Mammals, Creepy Crawlies, Amazing Amphibians, Feathered Friends, and more. This standout among animal books for kids is ideal for any boy or girl who is wild about animals! 


Enter the ring to witness an epic battle of brawn between an ant and an elephant! A chimp vs. a crow in a showdown of wits! An emporer penguin vs. a pygmy mamoset in a contest for cutest creature! Some of the victors might surprise you and all of these animals will amaze you! Stats, fun facts, photos, and in-depth profiles about each contender will help you pick winners for more than a dozen mighty matchups. A March Madness-style bracket at the end of the book allows readers to choose the ultimate champion! Perfect for sports fans and animal crazy kids ready to go to the mat for their favorite species. Animal Smackdown is the next best thing to actually seeing these animals go head-to-head! 


This beautiful picture book follows the journey of a young gray wolf who garnered nationwide attention when he became the first wild wolf in California in almost a century.


Children are given a well-rounded understanding of these beautiful creatures: their anatomy, feeding habits, and behavior. The following sea turtles are featured: * The herbivorous Green Sea Turtle * The beautiful Hawksbill Sea Turtle * The petite Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle * The king-sized Leatherback Sea Turtle * The unusual Olive Ridley Sea Turtle Get this book at this special price. *** Your child will love it –


If you love kittens and cats, you won’t want to miss this fun cat facts book! It tells you all about some of the strange, odd and weird things wild cats and pet kittens and cats can do. If you’re longing to get a kitten or a cat, or you already have a cat, and even if you’re an experienced pet owner, you’ll get some surprises when you read this book.


The latest exciting title in DK’s popular Where on Earth? series maps out the habitats of the world’s mammals, fish, birds, reptiles, invertebrates, and more. Whether it’s plotting the range of a lion, following the flight paths of birds, tracking great white sharks in the oceans, or exploring the migration of the monarch butterfly, you will see exactly where and how more than 100 extraordinary animal species live. 






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Learning Apps, Literacy Resources

Great Ipad Apps For guided Reading

http://commoncoreconnectionusa.blogspot.com/2015/08/reading-comprehension-passages-and-ipad.html?m=1

******Use the above link to access a great resource for early readers. The best part is that it will highlight words as they are read.

Here are GREAT RESOURCES, some have a free trial period.

Bookshare: https://www.bookshare.org/cms/

Lexia: https://www.lexialearning.com/core5

Razkids: https://www.raz-kids.com

Skybrary: https://www.skybrary.org/school

Headsprout: https://www.headsprout.com

Lightsail:https://www.headsprout.com

Newsela: https://newsela.com

Rewordify: https://rewordify.com

Thinkcerca: https://rewordify.com

Activelylearn: https://www.activelylearn.com






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Journal

Making Rock Towers

Who says kids need expensive toys? There’s joy and fun in nature.






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Book Recommendations

Need something to do?

Try Historical Fiction

I have some book recommendations for those who love to learn, explore, escape….


Set in 1920s Mississippi, this debut Southern novel weaves a beautiful and harrowing story of two teenage girls cast in an unlikely partnership through murder—perfect for readers of Where the Crawdads Sing and If the Creek Don’t Rise.


These six strangers are learning that beginnings can be possible at any stage of life. But as they tell their stories, they must navigate what is shared and what is withheld. Which version of the truth will be revealed? Who is prepared to step up when help is needed? This moving, funny and deeply empathic new novel from acclaimed author Frances Itani reminds us that life, with all its twists and turns, never loses its capacity to surprise.


The unforgettable, inspiring story of a teenage girl growing up in a rural Nigerian village who longs to get an education so that she can find her “louding voice” and speak up for herself, The Girl with the Louding Voice is a simultaneously heartbreaking and triumphant tale about the power of fighting for your dreams.  Despite the seemingly insurmountable obstacles in her path, Adunni never loses sight of her goal of escaping the life of poverty she was born into so that she can build the future she chooses for herself – and help other girls like her do the same.  Her spirited determination to find joy and hope in even the most difficult circumstances imaginable will “break your heart and then put it back together again” (Jenna Bush Hager on The Today Show) even as Adunni shows us how one courageous young girl can inspire us all to reach for our dreams…and maybe even change the world.


Since the days of conquistador Hernán Cortés, rumors have circulated about a lost city of immense wealth hidden somewhere in the Honduran interior, called the White City or the Lost City of the Monkey God. Indigenous tribes speak of ancestors who fled there to escape the Spanish invaders, and they warn that anyone who enters this sacred city will fall ill and die. In 1940, swashbuckling journalist Theodore Morde returned from the rainforest with hundreds of artifacts and an electrifying story of having found the Lost City of the Monkey God-but then committed suicide without revealing its location.

Suspenseful and shocking, filled with colorful history, hair-raising adventure, and dramatic twists of fortune, THE LOST CITY OF THE MONKEY GOD is the absolutely true, eyewitness account of one of the great discoveries of the twenty-first century.


Moving, intimate, and beautifully written, The Beekeeper of Aleppo is a book for our times: a novel that at once reminds us that the most peaceful and ordinary lives can be utterly upended in unimaginable ways and brings a journey in faraway lands close to home, never to be forgotten.


NESHAMA’S TRUE TALES, a memoir of sorts, are filled with love, warmth, and timeless wisdom. They ground us, and they lift us up. They make us laugh, and they make us cry. And most of all, they connect us more deeply with the grace and meaning of our lives.


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Journal

Grow Things you can eat

I learned many things from the pandemic. I learned that buying groceries would be a dangerous prospect if you are in a vulnerable category. Some of the online “shoppers” were not careful to check expiration dates, leaving me with food that wasn’t fit to eat. Prices were inflated. My ability to buy fresh fruits and vegetables was at the discretion of the shopper regardless of how detailed a list I created.

Coincidently, I have been reading Four Winds by Kristin Hannah. It’s a fictional story of the devastation brought about during The Great Depression when people were starving and dying. I decided to create a mini-garden on my small, and I mean small) deck to provide enough vegetables for myself and my husband. I used old unused pots, organic soil I already had, as well as slices from tomatoes, carrot tops, and celery bottoms. I Googled which plants could withstand full sun. The feeling of accomplishment helped alleviate the dread of the pandemic. I was keeping busy in a healthy way.

The end result would be a sustainable source of vegetables right outside my sliding glass door. Hopefully my efforts will yield tomatoes (several varieties), broccoli, kale, brussell sprouts, yellow peppers and snow peas. I learned that many flowers are edible. From reading The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah I learned that during World War II the people of Amsterdam used tulips to make flour.

I hope to extend my exploration of edible plants and types of plants will that grow in my area. I am determined not to be deterred by limited space. There are many container plants that do well with care. I hope none of us ever have to experience extreme circumstances that leave us famished or desperate. One sure way to be proactive (ok, maybe reactive) is to grow things you can eat.





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