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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Favorite Lesson for Teaching Quarter Notes, Eighth Notes, and Quarter Rests

It's hard to believe, but the month of March is coming to an end! I'm finishing up my series on my favorite lessons for introducing different rhythm elements with the very first rhythm concept I introduce- quarter notes, paired eighth notes, and quarter rests. I introduce all 3 at once to my kindergarteners in the spring. Of course since this is their first time really working with standard notation and working with rhythms in a conscious way, I have a million different lessons to practice these rhythms. But today I want to share my favorite lesson for first introducing the concept and notation for each of these rhythms.

The song I use to introduce these rhythms is "Acka Backa":

The first task is getting students to experience beats with one sound, two sounds, and no sounds. The reason this song is great for this is that I can have my students sing the song over and over again while experiencing and demonstrating the steady beat without them throwing things at me! We do this with a bean bag passing game.

First we practice passing a bean bag around the circle (that in itself takes some time!), then eventually work on passing it on the steady beat while I sing the song. Once they can do that (I spread this practice out over several class periods), I teach them the song. First I have them learn the song, echoing after me while patting the beat on their legs. I make sure not to hold out the last note of each phrase (so they can hear the quarter rest), but I don't fuss about whether or not they are singing it that way yet. Once they can sing the song, I have them sing it again but whisper "shhh" and hold a finger to their lips on the two quarter rests, then do it again but without making the "shhh" sound- just holding up a finger. Finally we sing it and I tell them to just close their mouth "to stop any sound from coming out" on those beats, then we sing it that way while passing the bean bag.

The way we repeat the activity is by making it an elimination game. Once students can pass the bean bag on the beat while singing (making sure they pass it on the last "silent beat" as well), tell them that whoever gets the bean bag on the last beat is out, then keep repeating the game until there is only 1 left (or until you're tired of it!). I keep the students who are out engaged and learning by having them take a percussion instrument of their choice and playing the steady beat on it while singing with the others. So it's a win-win!

After we've played the bean bag game, I have students clap with the "rhythm of the words", and I show them how to hold their hands out empty on the two silent beats. Then I tell them they are about to learn REAL MUSIC NOTES!!! ;) I first show them a quarter note, paired eighth notes, and quarter rest on the board and explain how the note with one circle on it is one sound, and the note that looks like two cherries, with two circles holding hands, is two sounds together sharing a beat. The squiggly thing is a "shhh"! Then I start writing 4-note patterns and we practice saying and clapping them, eventually ending up on the pattern "titi-titi-ta-sh"/"dude-dude-du-sh". I tell them that this is from the ACTUAL SONG, and ask them to figure out which part of the song it goes with (Acka backa boo). From there, it's off to the races!

My students are always so excited to learn about real music notes, and most of them get a pretty good grasp on the concept after these lessons. What are your favorite ways to introduce quarter notes, eighth notes, and/or quarter rests? Share your best lesson ideas in the comments below- I'd love to hear them and I know other teachers would too! :) And don't forget to head over to the Music Ed Blogs Community page on Facebook to find all of the wonderful rhythm teaching ideas being shared this month through the #31daysofrhythm collaboration- you're guaranteed to find new ideas to implement in your classroom! Enjoy these last few days of Music In Our Schools Month :)

Looking for more lesson ideas? See my full curriculum here.

Get updates, free curriculum resources, and more!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Best Reference Books for Mothers of Multiples

Parenting multiples (twins, triplets, or more) is a unique, wonderful, and daunting challenge. When I first found out I was expecting twins, I was at first pretty ecstatic after having gone through struggles with infertility. Then the reality of a higher-risk twin pregnancy and the prospect of two babies hit and I was completely overwhelmed! As I do with most any new challenge I encounter, I started reading everything on the subject of twin pregnancy, twin babies, and raising twins I could find. I promise you, if there was a book about anything related to twins, I read it. So today I wanted to share the books that I found the most helpful for each stage of being a MoM (mother of multiples). If you are expecting multiples yourself, I hope you find this list helpful!

1. When You're Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads: Proven Guidelines for a Healthy Multiple Pregnancy by Barbara Luke and Tamara Eberlein

This is basically the multiple pregnancy bible. I learned so much from reading it and referred back to it over and over again throughout my pregnancy and into the first few months after the girls were born! I was blessed with an uneventful pregnancy but this book did an excellent job of preparing me for whatever may happen in a way that made me feel equipped, not paranoid. 

2. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Twins: A Step-by-Step Program for Sleep Training Your Multiples by Marc Weissbluth

Of all the aspects of parenting babies, how they eat and how they sleep have got to be the two questions parents both struggle with most (since eating and sleeping are pretty much a baby's entire life) but also get the most opinionated about (often in very polarizing ways). If you're someone who is put off by the phrase "sleep training", don't let that stop you from reading this book. I did not follow everything that Mr. Weissbluth suggests in this book. As I think most parents do, I sort of fumbled my way through a mix of different philosophies and methods of handling my daughters' sleep. But what I think is helpful for any parent, no matter what choices you end up making in this regard, is the information on what "normal" looks like. I think this book does a great job of discussing what an average sleep pattern looks like at different ages, including a wide range of what would be considered "healthy" depending on a variety of factors. It really helped reassure me and helped me anticipate difficult transitions in their development.

3. Raising Twins: Parenting Multiples from Pregnancy Through the School Years by Shelly Vaziri Flais

This is the book that I still, now that the girls are 5 years old, refer to on a regular basis. I LOVE this book. Written by a pediatrician and mother of twins, the book touches on the topics of twin pregnancy, sleep training, breastfeeding, and other important twin baby topics, but the best part of this book is her section on each stage of development up through the preschool years and beyond. For each stage of development, the book includes a description of what to expect, some of the unique challenges and distinct joys of each stage, and tips of navigating every aspect of parenting in that stage. 

4. How Do You Do It? 

How Do You Do It?

OK, this isn't a book, but I found a lot of great advice and, most importantly, camaraderie and community through this blog for mothers of multiples. Written by a number of contributing authors, you can find posts on pretty much anything related to twins, triplets, and more you could possibly imagine. It has been a great way for me to connect with other moms going through similar experiences and look up information and advice on those random, middle of the night questions that plague me every now and then.

If you are expecting multiples or know someone who is, I hope you find this information helpful. Wading through all of the information out there can be challenging when you're already overwhelmed by the prospect of multiple babies! If you're a MoM yourself, what books or references have you found most helpful for you at each stage? Share them in the comments! 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Favorite Lesson for Teaching Half Notes

In honor of Music In Our Schools Month, I'm going to be sharing my favorite lessons for teaching various rhythmic elements. I'm sharing these ideas in conjunction with a month-long collaboration I'm doing with a group of amazing music education bloggers over on the Music Ed Blogs Facebook page, where we are sharing a new rhythm-related teaching tip each day. You'll get tons of great ideas just by following along, so be sure to go follow the page to catch all of the tips from other bloggers (and get the scoop on a special gift coming at the end of the month)! If you're reading this after the fact, do not fear- you can search for #31daysofrhythm any time to find all of the ideas that we've shared!

Today I'm focusing on half notes. I teach half notes in 2nd grade, and it's the first rhythm they learn that is longer than one beat. There are lots of great lessons that I love using to teach and practice half notes, but today I wanted to share one of my favorite songs to use to introduce half notes.

I like to introduce half notes for the first time with the song, "Bickle Bockle":

I particularly like this song because I can also teach the solfege pitches 2nd graders are working on, mi, sol, and la, with the same song! It's also short enough for students to learn quickly.

We start by learning the song, then I have the students walk around the room on the steady beat while singing. Once they can do that, I have them stop and practice clapping with the rhythm of the words while they sing. After doing it the first time, I point out that there are a few long notes in the song where we keep singing but we aren't clapping, and I ask students to identify those long notes ("sea" and "me"). Then I tell them to clap and then keep their hands together, then I tell them that they actually have bubblegum stuck to their hands and I stretch my top hand up while making a grimacing face. The kids love that idea! I tell them to stretch out their bubblebum on the two long notes, and we practice singing and clapping the rhythm in place again. We all grimace when we sing the long notes too ;) Once they can do it while standing in place, I tell students to walk around the room on the beat while clapping and singing. The final step is to take out the singing and just walk and clap.

Once everyone can successfully walk on the beat while clapping the rhythm, including stretching out the long notes, I tell students that the "bubblegum notes" are actually half notes, and we discuss how many steps they took for each bubblegum notes (2!).

Whenever I introduce a new rhythm, I like to have students practice reading it from notation in short, 4-beat rhythm patterns right away. We practice speaking the rhythms, clapping them, and then playing them on instruments. Here are some examples I use with my students- I like to first have them play one line at a time, and then eventually try to play all of them in a row without stopping.

Once they can perform the new rhythm, I like to have them use it in a composition exercise. For this lesson, I have them create a 4-beat rhythm and have them play it on an instrument of their choice as a rhythmic ostinato while the other students sing the song and play the accompanying game. By doing the song with a game, I can have my students repeat the song over and over without it feeling like drilling! My favorite game instructions are at the end of this video:

With this age, I like to do most of my composition activities with manipulatives. For 2nd grade, when they are learning to incorporate half notes in their compositions, my favorite manipulatives to use are my monster magnets. The kids love them and they are such a great, concrete way to help them see the 2-beat value of the half notes! You can read more about them in this post:

There are plenty of other manipulatives that you can use, though, that are much less work to put together. If you're looking for more ideas for composition manipulatives that work great with lower elementary students, here is a post I wrote on where to find them cheaply:

What are your favorite ways to teach half notes? There are so many great songs and activities to use to teach this rhythm- I'd love to hear your favorites! Leave a comment below to share your ideas. And don't forget to go follow the Music Ed Blogs Facebook page for more great ideas all month long! Happy Music In Our Schools Month!

Looking for more lesson ideas? See my full curriculum here.

Get updates, free curriculum resources, and more!

Monday, March 20, 2017

My Go-To Online Resources for New Recipes

If you're too busy to slave away in the kitchen for an hour but still want to eat healthily, this post is for you! I'm always looking for great recipes that are easy and fast to make, healthy enough, and are appealing to my 5-year-olds and to me. I just didn't have that many recipes in my arsenal that fit the bill in all of those categories, and I was getting tired of making the same things over and over again! I've come across several online resources recently where I've been able to find lots of new recipes that fit all of my needs, so today I wanted to share those with you!

Very Easy, Not As Healthy
These two sites have lots of very easy recipes, and they're great for when I'm super busy. They aren't the healthiest recipes in the bunch, but they do have quite a few recipes that are healthy enough for me to feel good making when we have a particularly busy day.

1. A Year of Slow Cooking
Of course one great way to save time in the kitchen is with a slow cooker- I love when I can throw things into the crock pot before work and come home to a ready-to-eat dinner! This site has every kind of slow cooker recipe you can imagine. Here's her recipe for honey garlic chicken, which is simple and quick to throw together but very tasty. 

2. Bigger Bolder Baking
As the title suggests, this one has mostly sweet treats, but she also has quite a few mug meals that you can make in the microwave in just a few minutes! I've found a lot of great after school snacks here, and the microwave mug meals are great when I'm eating dinner alone (and on the run). Here's a video with 5 mug meal recipes!

Pretty Easy, Pretty Healthy
These two sites have mostly recipes that are not "dump-and-go", but they are still pretty easy- most of them can be made in under 30 minutes- and most of the recipes are healthy (and kid-friendly) as well! Many of these recipes have made it into my regular dinner rotation.

3. The Domestic Geek
This site has so many great, healthy recipes that are easy to make, it's hard to choose just one to recommend! For most weeknight dinners, these recipes are the perfect balance of healthy and easy for me. Here's a video with 3 easy meals you can make on 1 sheet pan!

4. Asian at Home
Many of you know that, having grown up in Japan and spent a good amount of my adult life living in Korea, I am particularly partial to East Asian food. This is a great place for getting relatively easy recipes for Asian food of all kinds- she has Japanese, Korean, Indonesian, Thai, Chinese, and other cuisines represented and she explains how to get any unusual ingredients in the U.S. as well. Here's a great, super-simple recipe for Oyakodon, a Japanese chicken and rice bowl that I absolutely love.

I hope you found some new recipes to keep you and your family eating healthy on busy weeknights! If you want to see more of my favorite, simple and healthy recipes, check out my Pinterest boards:

What are your favorite places to find new healthy and easy recipes? Have a favorite weeknight dinner recipe that your whole family loves? I'd love to hear about them in the comments!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Favorite Lesson for Teaching Whole Notes

In honor of Music In Our Schools Month, I'm going to be sharing my favorite lessons for teaching various rhythmic elements. I'm sharing these ideas in conjunction with a month-long collaboration I'm doing with a group of amazing music education bloggers over on the Music Ed Blogs Facebook page, where we are sharing a new rhythm-related teaching tip each day. You'll get tons of great ideas just by following along, so be sure to go follow the page to catch all of the tips from other bloggers (and get the scoop on a special gift coming at the end of the month)! If you're reading this after the fact, do not fear- you can search for #31daysofrhythm any time to find all of the ideas that we've shared!

Today I'm focusing on whole notes. Does anyone else struggle to come up with really effective ways to teach whole notes? So often whole notes come at the end of the song and make it difficult for students to truly experience the 4-beat length. It took me a few years but I've found a few ways to teach it that work for my students, and today I wanted to share one of my favorites with you.

I use the song, "Standin' On the Platform" to introduce whole notes:

I love using this song for 2 reasons: it has a whole note in the middle of the song, plus a half note and dotted half for comparison, and I am able to do it with a fun movement game, which helps students to more naturally experience the whole note.

When I first teach the song, I have students walk on the beat and move their arms like a train (you know, back and forth with your elbows bent like the metal things connecting the train wheels....). Once they have learned the song, I have them keep walking in place and singing while I start wandering the room (still moving my arms with the beat like a train). At the end of the song, instead of "Liza Jane", I sing another student's name, and that student starts following me around while we sing again. At the end of the song, that student sings another student's name, who joins our "train", and we keep adding until we've got the whole class in one long line marching around the room (side note: I often mix things up and take the opportunity to review tempo and/or dynamics vocabulary by singing some verses at different speeds and/or volume levels- keeps the kids engaged and following my singing!).

Once the last student has joined the "train" (this is also a great way to do a quick assessment of their singing- if you're doing that, you'll want to have the last student sing as well, in which case I secretly give them a silly character's name to sing and make the whole class laugh, like "let's go minion Bob" or something like that, or the principal or homeroom teacher's name), I have them stay in the train formation but this time tell them to clap the rhythm of the words while they walk on the beat and sing. Any time they have a long note, they should pretend they have bubble gum stuck to their hands and stretch out the bubble gum until the end of the note.

Once they've experienced the long notes, I ask them to identify the two rhyming words (train/Jane) and then tell me how many beats those words are (4), and I show them the notation for the new note. I always tell students to remember that it is called a "whole note" by noting that the open circle looks like a hole (I use a similar memory hook for whole rests- read about that in this post).

I include a few different songs in younger grades that include whole notes to get them experiencing the concept before I formally introduce it- I especially like using poi balls with the Maori song "Hine E Hine" to experience whole notes in 2nd grade- you can read about that lesson and other ideas for incorporating Maori music in this blog post!

What are your favorite lessons for introducing whole notes? I'd love to hear them (and I'm sure other readers would as well!) in the comments below! And don't forget to go follow the Music Ed Blogs Facebook page for more great ideas all month long! Happy Music In Our Schools Month!

Looking for more lesson ideas? See my full curriculum here.

Get updates, free curriculum resources, and more!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Dinner Recipes for Kid Cooks

I've talked before about how I got my daughters started cooking dinner once a week. When it comes up every now and then in conversation, the first question I usually get (after the initial look of shock) is, "What do they make?". Of course every child will have different levels of experience, fine motor skill, attention span, interest, etc, but I thought I would share some of the meals my daughters often cook (and have been cooking since around the age of 4). If you're looking for some ways to get your kids involved in the kitchen, these meals are a great place to start!

1. Tacos

Tacos are great because you can put almost anything in them, and the ingredients are easy to prepare. The girls put each ingredient in its own bowl and set everything out on the table so each person can make their own tacos. Add some tortillas and dinner is served!

Some of the ingredients my daughters often include:
Vegetables: avocado, carrots, spinach, bell pepper, canned corn, canned black beans
Meat: chicken (cut into bite size pieces and cook in a frying pan with some onion powder and/or salt), ground beef or pork (cook in frying pan with onion powder and/or salt), hot dogs (cut into bit size pieces and cook in a frying pan- yes this happened, and it wasn't as terrible as it sounds), shrimp (cooked in a frying pan- they only did this once but it was awesome)
Other: shredded cheese, salsa, cilantro

2. Sandwiches

The girls love making sandwiches to order- peanut butter and jelly, tuna salad, and ham and cheese are usually the choices, and they are easy for the girls to put together (once I open the can of tuna for them). They've recently started making grilled cheese as well! Usually the sandwiches are accompanied with some fruit and maybe a cooked vegetable too.

3. Macaroni and Cheese

Of course we can't forget the boxed mac and cheese dinners! There are some reasonably-healthy options out there now, so we stick to those brands, but the girls pretty much have this recipe memorized now and don't even need my help reading the directions on the box! This meal usually comes with a fruit and/or salad as well ;)

4. Meatballs

This recipe for baked meatballs is easy to put together- it's basically just meat, eggs, breadcrumbs, and seasoning. They love rolling the mixture into balls, and although they do need help getting them in and out of the oven, they can do the rest of the preparation themselves. These are usually served with dipping sauces (ketchup, bbq sauce, etc) and some sides.

5. Pizza

Although they can't quite get the dough stretched out enough on their own, the girls can do the rest of the pizza making on their own. This is another recipe where they can have fun with the toppings too, and a great way to get lots of vegetables in- the different colors from the vegetables make the pizzas more fun! ;)

Of course there are many other meals that they've made over the last couple of years, but these are some of their favorites that most kids can make (almost) all on their own! If you're looking for more kid-friendly recipes, my girls love this cookbook:

If you've never given your preschooler control of the kitchen, I highly recommend it. It's a great way to give young kids more independence and responsibility at home in a way that is fun and exciting! Read this post for more tips in getting started:

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Favorite Lesson for Teaching Dotted Half Notes

In honor of Music In Our Schools Month, I'm going to be sharing my favorite lessons for teaching various rhythmic elements. I'm sharing these ideas in conjunction with a month-long collaboration I'm doing with a group of amazing music education bloggers over on the Music Ed Blogs Facebook page, where we are sharing a new rhythm-related teaching tip each day. You'll get tons of great ideas just by following along, so be sure to go follow the page to catch all of the tips from other bloggers (and get the scoop on a special gift coming at the end of the month)! If you're reading this after the fact, do not fear- you can search for #31daysofrhythm any time to find all of the ideas that we've shared!

Today I'm kicking off my series here on the blog with my favorite lesson for teaching dotted half notes!

I like teaching dotted half notes in conjunction with triple meter. Of course I later have students identify and perform dotted half notes within 4/4 time examples, but I think starting off with triple meter allows students to really feel the groups of three. If you're introducing triple meter for the first time, you can use the first part of this lesson on its own without getting into dotted half notes as well!

My favorite song to use to introduce dotted half notes is "Take Me Out to the Ballgame". It's a great way to get the more "sporty" kids engaged, and many are familiar with the tune.

Any time I want students to be conscious of beat/meter in a song I start with movement. I introduce the song by having the students mirror me as a sway back and forth every 3 beats as I sing. Once they get the hang of that, I have students learn the song, echoing after me one line at a time, while we continue to sway the whole time. Then we stand and sing the song together (yes, still swaying!). My next question is to ask them how many beats are in each sway. I have them continue swaying with me but instead of singing, I have them tap one finger on their hand with the beat while I sing and count how many times they tap with each sway. 

Once we've established the groups of three, I teach students a basic clapping pattern by having them mirror me while we sing: pat their legs on beat 1, clap their own hands on beat 2, and turn both hands forward (clapping an invisible partner's hands) on beat 3. Then, of course, we split up into partners facing each other and clap with a partner while singing.

The key to all of this is to make sure that students are really experiencing a full 3-beat note and differentiating that from a 2-beat half note. When we're going through the steps of swaying, tapping, and clapping, I will often pulse my voice on the long notes to emphasize the 3 beats and make sure students are singing the dotted half notes for the full measure. I've found that students do this more naturally with a song in triple meter than they do with dotted half notes in the context of 4/4 patterns.

Now that students are fully immersed in the groups of 3, we go back to swaying and tapping and I ask students to identify all of the notes that are 3 beats long. I put a copy of the lyrics on the board, and we go through and circle or underline each of the words/syllables that have dotted half notes. Usually I have a few students who will point out the half notes, and when that happens we all practice swaying/tapping while singing the word to find out if the note lasts for the "whole sway" or "part of the sway", which usually helps any students who are still confused to really identify the difference between the two.

What are your favorite lessons for introducing dotted half notes? I'd love to hear them (and I'm sure other readers would as well!) in the comments below! And don't forget to go follow the Music Ed Blogs Facebook page for more great ideas all month long! Happy Music In Our Schools Month!

Get updates, free curriculum resources, and more!

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Best Gift a Child Can Give

When my 5-year-old girls are celebrating a birthday or special holiday that involves everyone giving gifts, they usually make a card or picture to give. It's simple and quick, it's 100% from them, and the receiver genuinely enjoys the gift. But sometimes the girls want to give something more, and that gets tricky when they don't have any of their own money to spend and they don't have a whole bunch of time to work on a more complex handmade gift. A few months ago I came up with a new idea for what they could give for those occasions that I wish I had thought of ages ago (and will be requesting for my birthday this year myself!) and I wanted to share with you all because it has been such a hit.

So I've written a few times about my daughters' gift giving over the years. You can read about why I think it's important to encourage young children to give their own gifts in this post, where I also talk about another gift-giving idea I still use that involves the more traditional buying-of-a-thing-at-a-store. But my one hang-up with that idea was that inevitably you end up purchasing a certain amount of (sorry kids) junk. I think the idea is still valuable for what it is, and will probably continue to use it at Christmas time when they are getting gifts for lots of people at once, but I want to limit how much we inevitably end up contributing to the circulation of stuff that ends up eventually in a landfill. 

What do kids have to give when they don't have money? Themselves. Their time and their company. For my dad's birthday a few months ago, I had the girls give him a "coupon" for a date by writing on a piece of paper, "I want to take you to ______" and having them choose where they wanted to go (one chose the library, and the other chose the ice cream store). It was still simple to make, and pretty cheap too, and still gave the girls the opportunity to think about what the recipient would enjoy. 

Let me tell you, it was the best thing ever. My dad, of course, was thrilled, and the girls could see that clearly when he opened and read his gifts. And having that one-on-one time with a loved one that they normally don't spend time with alone was so exciting for both sides. Added bonus for the girls: they loved being the one to take the money/ library card in their own little purse and being in charge of purchasing the ice cream/ checking out the books (and I loved that they were learning how to do those things independently too)!

If you haven't yet, I encourage you to have your children give the gift of quality time the next time the opportunity for gift-giving arises. It's a win-win-win-win-win for everyone involved. And if you know a single/divorced parent, especially one with multiple children, make arrangements to allow their kids to give the gift of quality time by helping the kids make the coupons and throwing in babysitting for the other kids as the gift from you. I really hope this becomes something of a tradition in my house, because I LOVE this idea!

Do you encourage your kids to give gifts for birthday and holidays? What do you have your young children do when they don't have the money to actually buy their own gifts? Have you ever had young children give the gift of one-on-one time? Let's hear your thoughts in the comments! 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Small Goals: March 2017

I love the fresh opportunities for reflection that each new month brings! I'm sharing my "small goals" again this month along with Jennifer from The Yellow Brick Road. If you're looking for more inspiration (or just want to get to know another really cool music education blogger!), head on over to see her post as well :)

Last month's goals

My "small goals" last month were to get ready for Music In Our Schools Month, start my tax filing, and practice more grace and more peace in my classroom. I managed to get all of my MIOSM prep done (and things are going very well so far), and I think I did pretty well with the grace and peace (more on that later), but I definitely did not start my taxes. Boo. So that's going to be one of my goals again this month (since it pretty much has to happen at this point).

Goal 1: file my taxes

Welp, I guess getting it done early isn't going to really happen. Hopefully it won't be too painful of a process, but I need to set aside a chunk of time to get my taxes done this month so I'm not rushing right before the deadline!

Goals 2: even more grace and peace

The last few weeks have been really tough for some of my students, especially the older ones. I teach in a K-6 building so the 6th graders always end up dealing with changing hormones and looking at transitioning to middle school around this time each year, which can make for some pretty serious craziness. But this year I've had some students confide in me recently about some pretty heavy stuff going on in their lives, and it has been a difficult but important reminder of just how much stuff my students deal with on a regular basis outside of school. My goal is to continue to support those kids with whom I've developed a closer personal connection as best as I can and to continue to offer grace and peace as much as I can to all of my students.

Goal 3: arrange at least one play date

One of my daughters told me recently that she has been sad at school because her "best friends" have been playing with other kids and she has had trouble finding someone to play with. We talked about it, and she has found some people to play with at school, but I also promised to try to invite some friends over for a play date sometime so she could further foster those friendships. I want to make sure I don't forget to do that! Several of them will be going to the same kindergarten with them, so it will be great for them to get to play together outside of school!

What are your goals for this month? March is always a busy time of year, but a lot of great things happen too! I hope you all have a wonderful month ahead, and be sure to head on over to Jennifer's post to see what she's up to as well :)

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

February Favorites

It always amazes me how quickly Feburary flies by! I thought I'd do things a little differently this month and share my "favorites" from the past month using some of the pictures I shared on Instagram! What have you been enjoying lately? I'd love to hear about your latest favorites in the comments :)

1. My loving friends and family

I got so much love from my friends and family this Valentine's Day! My mom got me those beautiful tulips, my friend from college sent me that sweet card, and my daughters made me the most adorable cards ever! I felt so loved.

2. New breakfast obsession

Thin sweet potato slices cooked in coconut oil, fried egg, avocado, and cilantro. Oh my goodness you guys.

3. New planner supplies

Michael's is killing me lately with their new planner supplies! I caved and bought some stickers, new washi and paper pad, and those gorgeous sticky notes and I LOVE them all! Aren't they just so pretty??

4. New blog post finds

Of course no "favorites" post would be complete without sharing my latest blog post finds from this past month! Click on each picture to read the posts- they are well worth your time!

That's it for me this month! What were your favorite things from February? I hope you found some new ideas here on my list- share yours in the comments below!