My Most Popular Back-to-School Pins

Over the last couple of years I have been a wannabe teacher, researching teaching philosophies and looking at local preschool programs.  In reality I am a teacher.  I teach my daughters every day.  Additionally, I am teaching music (piano) to children who aren’t my own.  Pinterest has been a huge collection of worksheets, ideas, and resources.  Here are the ones that have been the most popular.  It’s interesting to see that ones that have taken off!

This is one I’ll be doing next week with my 1st grader. Her teacher is becoming strict about “staying in the lines” with her penmanship.  We love Duplos here, so this will work great!

writing the word on the DUPLO handwriting mat

LEGO Mats via This Reading Mama

LEGO Handwriting Mats {This Reading Mama}
130 repins, 4 likes

10 End-of-the-Year Freebies for Kindergarten {Teacher Tam’s Educational Adventures}
35 repins, 1 like

End of the Year Printable Memory Book {Easy Peasy and Fun}
215 repins, 5 likes

This one is really applicable for us since this is what she’s learning in math.  This will be fun in reinforcing and reviewing in our off-track break.  I’m not the only one who thought this is a fun idea!

Friends of 10 via Teachable Moments

Shake Rattle Drop and Friends of 10 {Teachable Moments}
365 repins, 10 likes

Free Short Vowel Playdough Mats {This Reading Mama}
85 repins, 4 likes

Free number worksheets 1-10 {The Measured Mom}
175 repins, 5 likes

In addition to the nativity pictures, there is a link for a graphing and tally sheet.
Free Nativity Pattern Block Mats {This Reading Mama}
239 repins, 2 likes

Lots of examples in this teacher’s blog.

Math Journal: Tools for Your Toolbox {Miss Van Maren’s Fantastic First Grade}
129 repins, 8 likes

Subtraction Poem {The Inspired Apple}
36 repins, 3 likes

This will be excellent review.  This post talks about number sense from 1-20 and they’re their third week of school.  The photo showing in the pin is called “Roll & Build”.

Number Sense via TGIF

Building Number Sense in Kindergarten and First Grade {TGIF! Thank God It’s First Grade}
42 repins

Sight Word Practice Pages Summer Edition [free] {Teachers Pay Teachers}
29 repins, 2 likes

Sight Word Sundaes {MPM School Supplies}
13 repins

Roll Them & Add Them (and more free printables) {Jessie’s Resources}
23 repins

Working on b and d reversals {Mrs. Hodge and Her Kindergarten Kids}
11 repins, 1 likes

Jellybean Math | Mama Miss #learningfun #homeschool #preschoolmath #candy #halloween

Jellybean Math via Mama Miss

Looks like an activity where there is more eating involved than anything. :)

Jellybean Math {Mama Miss}
14 repins, 1 like

How is Teach Your Child to Rhyme {The Measured Mom}
11 repins

Free addition worksheets for Kinergarteners [with images] {School Sparks}
10 repins, 2 likes

I printed these out and laminated them.  We’ve only used them once so far.  Need to pull them out again soon.
Free dough mats for Counting to 10 [tree image, number & 10 frame] {Life Over C’s}
43 repins, 1 like

“Put Your Umbrellas Up” sample via Musings of Me

Emergent Reader “The Colors of my Umbrella” {Musings of Me}
15 repins

Another play dough 10 frame mat & Kindergarten Math Activities {K-5 Math Teaching Resources}
14 repins, 1 like

We’ve played this a few times.  There are a few levels.
Fry’s First 100 Words Snakes and Ladders [free] {Teachers Pay Teachers}24 repins, 1 like

Fluency Gameboard [/ch/, /oo/, /aw/, /th/, etc] {Classroom Freebies}
13 repins

Roll a Rhyme {This Reading Mama}
12 repins

How to Help Kids Make Good Choices (The Truth about Behavior Charts) {Pre K-Pages}
10 repins

And for the Preschool-aged kiddos:
Bear Theme- Home Preschool {Cutting Tiny Bites}
20 repins

You only need Counting Bears, markers and strips of paper for this.  No printer needed!
“I See 5 Green (Counting) Bears” {Rockabye Butterfly}
203  repins, 3 likes

Magnetic Rainbow Rainy Day Fun via Sew Fantastic

Rainbow Pom Pom Sheet {Sew Fantastic}
300 repins, 8 likes

Valentine’s Activity Fine Motor Tray via I Heart Crafty Things

Color Sorting Valentines Day Pom Poms with TP Rolls {I Heart Crafty Things}
107  repins, 2 likes

How to Get Your Two Year Old to Spell Her Name before She Turns Three {Instructables}
69 repins, 3 likes

One of my favorite bloggers.

books for kids ages 2-3 from

Favorite Titles for 1-2 Year Olds via Growing Book by Book

Books for Kids: Favorite Titles for 2-3 Year-Olds {Growing Book by Book}
85 repins, 6 likes

I am using this website SO much for my preschool music class!  I have yet to look up these books though.
Best Books and Resources For Teaching Preschool Music {Let’s Play Music}57 repins, 4 likes

These ideas have already helped me.  Saying that you don’t need to keep on topic for every activity was revolutionary in my planning.
Creating a Preschool Circle Time {Teaching 2 & 3 Year Olds}69 repins, 3 likes

11 Ways to Encourage a Love for Music (+ 10 books and 13 activities) {And Next Comes L}
30 repins, 2 likes

Flannel Goldfish Puppets (with template) {Storytime Katie}
29 repins, 1 like

15 Books about Music {No Time for Flashcards}
9 repins

Posted in Growing Joys and Pains, Home Learning | Tagged | Leave a comment

Lucky Links {Weekly Reads}

I’ve decided to read more blog posts and online articles, like I used to in the golden Sunday Surf days.  I’m not linking with other bloggers, so I won’t be using their Sunday Surf name anymore.

Yesterday I discovered a giveaway at Living Montessori Now.  Deb is giving away a Strider Bike.  I have been thinking about buying one for “Millie”, but it’s kinda hard to justify the cost, knowing the odds of passing it down to a younger sibling is pretty darn low.  It would be so exciting if we won!  I think this would definitely start her on the right path to riding a bicycle.

I’ve been a fan of Teacher Tom’s Blog for a while.  His blog was definitely a top contender in Sunday Surf.  This is a simple post about smart and happy kids, but really spoke to me.

We have some picky eaters in this house!  Including me, really, haha!  I like that the article on making dinner mistakes suggests to serve dessert on the same plate as the entree.  It’s just a “radical” idea, yet her reasoning in equating all foods– vegetables and simple sugars make sense. ;)

Piano pedagogy is a huge interest of mine, if not obsession, so I will be probably be posting some music articles in addition to my usual pre-k and kindergarten posts. This one is a fun one from Compose Create, 5 Things Piano Parents Can Learn from Disney Songs.  My favorite is, of course, “Let it Go”!

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Dreams that aren’t a coincidence

Last night I had a dream where I was invited to a former tutee’s (a man whom I tutored) retirement party.  In that dream, I spoke about this man, his accomplishments and what I remembered about him when I tutored him.  Everything about that man, in the dream, was fairly accurate, only his physical size was slightly exaggerated.

Upon waking up, I realized that I don’t remember that man’s name.  I don’t.  I remember some thing specific things about his life, that he was either laid off or he resigned his work and he and his wife were both going back to school.  I even remember one of his essay topics.  I’m sad to say that I don’t recall his name.  It could have been John.

I also realized that this dream was telling me something that I needed reminded of.  Here I was, a fresh-faced 21 year old, helping several non-traditional university students 20 (+) years older than I was, and they respected my opinion and complimented my abilities as well.

It was just what I needed to remember about myself.  I’ve been in a low place recently and haven’t been valuing myself.  Just thinking back on when I was tutoring and some of the compliments that I heard from others, who didn’t know me well (e.g. that I’m resourceful, organized, explain topics thoroughly, and patient) lifts me up when I’ve been so hard on  myself.

When a surge of well meaning comes into play, I need to act on it.  This dream gave me a smile and really made me think when I woke up.  I have a lot to offer, and I shouldn’t cut myself off from other opportunities.  I am very good at being caught up in the stage of life that I’m in.  When I was going to college, I wanted to teach college students.  Now that I’m raising my two young children, I’ve been consumed with early elementary education.  That makes sense since I’ve been researching preschools, reading dozens of preschool-teaching blogs, and helping my daughters learn and explore.  Recently, I’ve been teaching a neighbor girl, in 1st grade, piano lessons.  I have come to the conclusion that she’s too old– gives too much attitude and that I might want to teach piano to 3-6 year olds.  At first I can just teach these classes with my youngest participating.  After that, it is my call if I want to teach classes without my daughter participating.  I always thought that I would either be teaching the really young or at the college level.  It will be interesting to see if I’m still interested in teaching the really young 10 years from now when I’m no longer immersed with young children.

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1st Advent: Hope

This is not the traditional way to celebrate Advent, so don’t expect Bible passages or prayers.  November 30th was the 1st Advent this year.  The first lit candle represents Hope.  I chose a children’s book, Frederick by Leo Lionni, to illustrate hope.  Through out the book, Edel and I talked about how Frederick had hope and shared his hope through warmth, colors and words through winter.

The definition of hope is looking forward to the best outcome for an event.  With the advent of Christmas, we talked about what we’re looking forward to prepare for Christmas.  Edel and Millie both made Hope Wreaths– what they hope to do during the Christmas season.  I got out my Christmas stamps, and I was surprised when Edel didn’t want to use more than she did. I’m continually impressed by her simplicity!


1st Advent craft, hope

It went really well!  We also sang an Advent song from Let’s Play Music.  Looking forward to Love next Sunday.

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10+ influencial books

This meme has been going around on Facebook.  And because I’m shy with these type of things, and like to expand upon it, I’ll be doing it here on my blog.  For me, the criteria must be a moment of enlightenment, meaning that something in the book has shifted my paradigm of thinking and that particular moment is still memorable.  Some aren’t my favorite books.  The difficult part is trying to pinpoint the shift that I had.  It’s been a trip down memory lane, remembering the books I read grade by grade, year by year. I’m proud of the journey!

In chronological order (that’s how I roll)…
1. A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams.
My mom read this to us.  I was very young (probably around 7), and I still remember the moment when I realized that some people are poor and have to work so hard to earn and save money.

2. The American Girl series (Felicity, Kirsten, Addy, Samantha & Molly)
Inspired my interest of American history and historical fiction.

3. Helen Keller: The Story of my Life by Helen Keller
This book was full of inspiration.  I referred back to it for quotes (the starting of my “quote” days) in jr. high and high school.  It was remarkable that she couldn’t see or hear, yet she graduated from college.  There was one quote about climbing up the mountain of Difficulty and that imagery stuck in my head.

4. A Separate Peace by John Knowles
My favorite books for years, even asked Santa for my own copy one year.  Likely my first literary crush, on Gene, although Phinny was quite the charmer… I reeled at the end and even wanted to ask my biology teacher is it were true if someone could die that like.  Also a historical fiction book, and I enjoyed not needing the teacher to explain what blitzkrieg was thanks to my German and history knowledge.

5. Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
Gave me a different perspective of race and injustice.

6. Zen and the Art of the Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig
First introduction to all things Logic.

7. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
I already knew the story from watching several versions growing up.  I enjoyed the book and the differences of enlightenment and romanticism was stark.  It actually goes against my personal thoughts of how incredible Enlightenment is, but who can argue with giving to the poor?  The dichotomy still haunts me.

8. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin & Poor Richard’s Almanac by Benjamin Franklin
Of course, I loved the millions of quotes!  I was fascinated about Franklin’s characteristics and how he tracked his progress and the frugality in the Almanac.

9. “The Yellow Wallpaper” short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
The incredible, intense short story shows how women were treated not too long ago and how mental illness was (not) viewed.  Powerful imagery.

10. “The Problem That Has No Name”– 1st chapter in The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
I always wanted to be a stay at home mom, even though a part of me felt it was a cop out to my educational values, but it works for me.  For others it doesn’t work for them, even if they are financially able to.  It’s an eye opening book for how feminism regressed in the 1950’s.

11. How to Stop Worrying and Stop Living by Dale Carnegie
All of his ideas and anecdotes were so helpful to me.  I originally read it in 2005 and reread it in 2012.  It’s essential for my mental health, and with that, I ought to read it a third time!

12. Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell
Shifted my thoughts on prostitution, more specifically of the “fallen woman”.

13. Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn
The base and understanding of something I now hold close to my heart, positive parenting.

14. Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson
How to handle aging, finding love, parenting an adult, accepting change and taking a stand with dignity taught by a cankerous English man.  Read in the fall as the beginning of the book takes place in October.

15. Bringing up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman
Teaches the principles of parenting that are often presented in parenting books such as Mind in the Making in a more anecdotal way.  I often think of cadre, baking as a way to teach self control and learning naturally.

Honorable Mentions:
Four Perfect Pebbles by Lila Perl and Marion Blumenthal Lazan
Frederick Douglass
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl (didn’t finish reading)

Self Help
The Disease to Please by Harriet B. Braiker

Growing Up With Two Languages by Una Cunningham-Andersson


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Kindergarten Kronicles, issue 2

I messed up bad.  Last Wednesday, the day she came out sulking to the flag pole and took a three hour nap, she had a bad day at school.  Her teacher said that she wasn’t listening and lying on the floor.  So today when she was whining and complaining, and feverish, I thought back to last week.  I did take her, and she was crying and yelling.  She was “scared”.  She didn’t want to go on the red playground. (We were there when the final bell rang, so she didn’t have time to play outside.  Not logical to her….) She wanted to go home.  So what did I do?  Took her to the office and gave her an absence!  Yes, I was nervous that she’d act the same way in class as last week.  And that’s why I messed up bad.

She gets up at 10:30 am.

She watches her You Tube shows on my laptop while eating “breakfast” and drinking juice mixed with sparkling water.  Anyway, she is getting no activity.

At noon, maybe a half hour sooner, I turn off the laptop, so she goes berserk.  Then she calms down and starts playing with her little sister and realizes there is a life past the screen.  But at this point it’s literally 15 minutes until we need to leave. 

3 out of 5 times, she’s fine.  She doesn’t want to go to school but she runs into the classroom.  Well, three times is already up, so let’s hope that the rest of the week she actually goes.

I WILL start her bedtime at 8:30 pm, which doesn’t seem early… but for us that’s up to 1 1/2 hours earlier. 

This means NO shows after 8 pm.  She needs to wind down, so she will cooperatively get ready for bed later.

I WILL make sure we go outside and play for a while around 10:30 (baby steps because that’s usually when she starts the day).  I hope to go to the library story time at 10:30.

I hope that an earlier bed time will solve this dilemma.  It’s no fun starting school in the heat of the summer.

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Kindergarten Kronicles

This has been an emotional first two days of kindergarten for Edel.  The first day, she went into the classroom just fine.  She and another girl were ushered onto the playground by her teacher.  At pick-up, during a downpour, she was hysterical because she couldn’t ride the school bus.  I had to drag her to our car and after 20 minutes of crying, we left the school’s parking lot.  Of course, I realize that there was more to her break down than just the school bus.  After 30 minutes of playing outside of our library, she was in better spirits.  At home, she did tell me some of the things they did at school.  She seemed to have understood a lot of what was going on.

On the morning of the second day, she told me that she doesn’t like kindergarten and that she wants to go to preschool.  I explained that she would have new classmates if she went back to preschool, and didn’t bring it up again. When I took her to school, she ran into her classroom without a problem.  She went out on the playground and went inside when her teacher told her to line up.  At pick up, I watched a very defeated Edel walk slowly to the flag pole.  When I walked to her, she saw me and said, “Mommy”.  Then as we were walking to the car, she told me that she “doesn’t like it”.  She fell asleep in the car and took a two hour nap at home.

I don’t feel that this is right.  I feel like I’m losing my confident, care-free little girl.  While I thought that these qualities would help her through kindergarten, I’m now worried that she might lose them.  Of course there is an adjustment period.  I’m sure not all children are eagerly wanting to go to school each day, no matter their age.  I’m not feeling it with her teacher.  She hasn’t said a word to me since school started, which means that there aren’t any immediate problems.  All the while, I fear that I’ve been thinking about this all wrong.  For the last year, despite three people discussing their view on holding back summer babies, I’ve focused on the benefits of being the youngest.  Graduating at age 17 (almost 18); receiving the same information as classmates months older than you; copying children who have more advanced verbal skills.  And almost entirely ignoring the benefits of being the oldest, the confidence and the experience that may provide a better set of academic skills to receive scholarships and fully enjoy the social aspects of school.  Of course, it could go the opposite way and school is a nuisance by age 18 and everything else is a higher priority.  It’s all individual.

So going back to Edel.  It was heart breaking watching her walk to the flag pole, broken.  It’s sad.  Will her spirits break during the school year just because I want her to be 17 during her senior year?

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Wisdom in the form of a children’s book

I found this book at the library.  Not even really skimming it before hand, I checked it out.  I was what I needed to hear.  It fits my daily fears and big fears.  Sometimes I get caught up in staying in my safe house, and fear venturing out.  Most of the time going out invigorates me and my fears are rarely lurking around the corner.

Meade, Holly.  If I Never Forever Endeavor.  Somerville: MA, Candlewick Press. 2011.

If I Never Forever Endeavor, by Holly Meade

If in all of forever,
I never endeavor,
to fly, I won’t know if I can.

I won’t know if I can’t.

I won’t know
if or whether
a flight I
might fly,
should I choose
to not ever give it a try.

On the one wing,
I could try
and find
that I flap
and I flail,

flounder and
look fo0lish
and fail.

On the other wing,
I could try
and take flight,

rise high and
float free,
sail through the trees.

If I did endeavor, and found my wings clever,
I could see the world!

Or get lost in it.

My nest is so nice,
the nicest of nests.
Who needs to fly — ever?

I think I’ll forget
all about their “endeavor.”

But, look there. . .

if I don’t fly,
I won’t know
what it is
to swoop low
or soar high,

or what it’s like to
pluck a sweet bug
from the sky.

I won’t know how it feels to

scallop the air
with a dip
and a glide.

Or float alongside a friend.


I suppose
I could try
a little flap,

a flutter. . .

or two!



Look at me!
I’m dipping and gliding
and daring and. . .


If I hadn’t endeavored
and found my wings clever,
I never a sky
would have scaled,
never a world
would have seen,

and never a friend would have found.

Friends of a feather,
I say, endeavor and



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Sunday Surf: February-May

Sunday Surf with Authentic Parenting and Hobo MamaI’m joining Authentic Parenting and Hobo Mama for Sunday Surf. Share your best reading of the week, and link up your post at either blog!

For more great reading, visit Hobo Mama or Authentic Parenting for the latest Sunday Surf and linky.

Happy Surfing!

14 Habits of Exceptionally Likeable People | Business Insider {Recommended by someone in a piano teaching Facebook forum}

4 Ways Parents Teach Kids That Consent Doesn’t Matter | Parenting Gently {Video}

Raising a Moral Child | NY Times {viral on social media, from April}

30 Simple Things You Don’t Realize You Do That Impresses Everyone Around You |

Is a Baby Really Born if She’s Not on Facebook? | WSJ (Speakeasy)
Made me laugh, but pretty thought provoking.  Further reading is available in book form.

50 Life Skills Every Woman Should Know by 50 | Huffington Post

Here’s What A Healthy Relationship With Facebook Looks Like | Huffington Post
They don’t try to keep up with all of their “friends”.

What’s So Bad About Ronald McDonald? | Teacher Tom

Rude vs. Mean vs. Bullying: Defining the Differences | Huffington Post

What Your Book Crush Says About You | Huffington Post

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End of an Era

I listened to her tell me to stay and she’ll go in by herself.
I saw her running in complete joy to the preschool’s stairs.
I heard her friends (in this case Analise) yell out her name.
I saw her slow down and walk down the stairs.
I took in a mental picture of the house, the yard, the driveway.
I smiled.
I thought, “This is how it should be.”

The last day of preschool
May 28, 2014

More emotional than I thought it would be, she has come a long way!

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