Thursday, December 27, 2018

8 Things to Say in a Sympathy Card

Ever needed to send a sympathy card? Ever not been sure what to write?  Whether the loss was anticipated or unexpected, we sometimes lack the words to say.  As someone on the receiving end of a lot of cards (our infant son passed away several years ago), here are some ideas for you:

  1. "I'm very sorry for your loss."
  2. "I am here for you."
  3. "Call anytime, day or night."
  4. "Hoping you can find moments of peace in the days ahead."
  5. Share a memory of the deceased. Ex: "I will always remember when you first introduced me to Joe and he..."
  6. Tell a character trait you admire of the deceased. Ex: "Carol was always so good at making everyone feel welcome. I can see that's where you got your gift at hospitality from!"
  7. "May God grant you comfort during this hard time."
  8. "Thinking of you."

These statements are simple but impactful.  Stay far away from any sort of "They are in a better place now" or "At least..." types of statements. 

Remember: the person experiencing loss will have a hard time all year long as the "firsts" roll around (First birthday without Grandpa, first Christmas, first anniversary of the death, etc).  If you put it on your calendar to send a card/text at those times too it will really help the grieving loved ones.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Friday Funnies: Christmas

Merry Christmas!  I'm back this week with 3 great funnies to start your holiday weekend!

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Monday, December 10, 2018

Holiday Coupons with Swagbucks

We're all looking for ways to save big at the register. Well, I've found a way to make every coupon I use at my local grocery store worth an extra 25¢!

How you ask? It's as easy as 1, 2, 3!

1) Sign up at
2) Head over to the Grocery Coupons page and start clipping coupons for your upcoming shopping trip 
3) Use the coupons the next time you shop at your local grocery store. You'll earn 25 points (25¢) for every coupon you use. 
That's it! 

But, that's not all... Today through Monday, December 10th, you can earn 2 points (2¢) for every coupon you print, up to 50 prints per day. That's an extra dollar every day just for printing coupons that will save you a ton on your next grocery store haul!

Friday, October 19, 2018

Friday Funnies: Halloween Costumes for Dogs

Happy Friday! With Halloween right around the corner I thought I'd share some funny dog costumes! 

First up---this little gal is a bath pouf! She seems to like it!

K9 officer (If they show up at my door, I'm totally giving them extra candy)
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This dachshund is a corn cob.  And all the Midwesterners said, "Amen."
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Friday, October 5, 2018

Friday Funnies

This week's funnies are all real estate / realtor based!  Have a great weekend!

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Friday, September 14, 2018

Friday Funnies (Fall!)

Friday Funnies are back this week!  With school being back in session I can't get to these every Friday but today I have some great Fall funnies to share with you!  Our weather here has finally quit being near 100 degrees every day and I'm celebrating to the max!

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Friday, August 10, 2018

Friday Funnies

To start off your weekend here are 3 funny cat pictures. Because who doesn't love a funny cat picture??

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Friday, July 20, 2018

Friday Funnies

Happy Friday!  Have a great weekend. :)
 office funny, office meetings, work humor

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Friday, July 13, 2018

Friday Funnies

Here are 3 funny pictures to give you a laugh as you head into the weekend!

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Man. Kids are brutal!
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Thursday, July 12, 2018

Post-it Notes in the Classroom: Classroom Management

It takes a lot of effort to get 25 children going the same direction.  Classroom management is the key to a classroom's success.  As a college student I mistakenly thought classroom management was just your rewards/discipline system. Golden tickets or a clip chart somewhere.  (I'll give you a minute to stop laughing).
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I quickly learned that there are tons of things that need managed in a classroom!  Today I'll share ways that sticky notes (I'm partial to the Post-it brand) can help you develop stronger classroom management and organization.
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1. Making Student Groups

Pass out multiple colors of sticky notes.  Students find all of their peers who have the same color and PRESTO! They are a group.

2. Goal Getters

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I made a Goal Getters poster for students this year. They set reading level goals, sight word goals, math goals, and a goal for a district-wide assessment.  They fill in the goals on a sticky note that I pre-print (see above) and then they choose where to put theirs on the chart.

I can't find a picture of my chart and since it's summer the chart is packed away in a box at school somewhere.  This one from 3rd Grade Thoughts is similar though!

3. Blurts

UGH. The blurting drives me batty. You can use these "blurt boxes".  Students start the day (or class period) with 3. If they blurt, you quietly walk over and take one.  If they lose all 3 blurts they have whatever type of consequence you have set up in your classroom like clipping down, walking a minute at recess, doing a think sheet, etc.  You can also set it up as a chart in the classroom instead of having blurt tickets on the desks, like Polka Dot Firsties did here:
From PolkaDotFirsties

4. Fidget Tickets

Ever had a student take off their glasses, wipe the lenses and put them back on----every 5 minutes?  Or how about the kid who puts their hair into a ponytail, then takes it down, then puts it up---every 3 minutes.
Much like Blurt Boxes, the Fidget Tickets have the same idea.  The visual helps students track their habits. 

For the kiddo with the glasses fixation, simply draw a pair of glasses on a few sticky notes.  Put these on the child's desk.  Each time they take off their glasses, they turn in a ticket (you may have to take it off the desk for them). When all the glasses tickets are used up, they aren't allowed to mess with their glasses anymore.

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5. Chill Pass

Do you have a student prone to melt-downs or work refusal?  Chill passes may be what you need!  Decide ahead of time what the chill pass MEANS.  For some schools/teachers it means the child can go sit in the counselor's room for 5 minutes.  Some schools have a dedicated sensory room for breaks. Some classrooms have a quiet corner that they use. Whatever it may be, the chill pass entitles the student to go take their break for a predetermined amount of time.
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The agreement with the student has to be that once they get back from their break, they do what is expected of them in the classroom.  If you use chill passes but come back and don't work---guess what? I'm not going to give you chill passes anymore.  We both have to keep our end of the deal.

Sticky notes can be an easy way to create a chill pass for a student.  You don't need fancy ones or purchased ones.  Just write "Chill Pass" on a sticky note and give it to the child to turn in as needed.  Some students may just need one a day. You may get a more intense kiddo that needs 5 a day to start with.

Once the student has redeemed a chill pass the teacher keeps it for the rest of the day.  The next school day the child starts the day with all of their chill passes back in their possession to use again.

6. Print on Post-its!

Would all of the special education teachers please raise their hands? This is a GAME. CHANGER.

Here's the 3 I do every week:

  • checklist for all the data I need to take (like "JD on task.  BQ voice level.")
  • rubric for the student with a voice level goal (blue sticky below)
  • defiant/opportunity tally chart, back and forth conversation chart, appropriate response tally chart (those 3 all fit on the lime green sticky pictured below).

I stick all of these right on my schedule/services log that gets carried around with me all the live long day long.  At the end of the week, the data from the sticky notes all gets entered into an Excel sheet. Bingo. Data taking is done.

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7. Color Coded Files

Each student has a hanging file and within it are various manilla files for assessments that we do all year. I use the plain manilla files and add a colored sticky note for the label.  The label has the child's initials and the assessment that will be stored in that file. Example "J.D. Sight Words."  I use the same color for the sight word folder for any student that has sight words progress monitoring.  That way, when I go to file a student's sight word assessment, my brain is trained to look for a file with a yellow sticky note label.

The phoneme segmenting assessments have a pink label.  Oral Reading Fluency assessments have an orange label.  And so forth.

Alternatively, you could use colored file folders like these:

8. Book Bin Labels

If you're looking for adorable book bin labels....this ain't it.  I'm not quite sure yet how I will divide up my growing collection of books; so when I purchased book bins, I just used a sticky note to label them for now. Easy, cheap, simple to remove or change if needed.
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9. Sitting Spots

One of my small groups gathers on the carpet squares to start off each phonics meeting.  I have a sticky note with their name on it. As they come in the room I say, "Find your square, post-it in the air!" 
They walk in, find their spot, sit and hold up their sticky note name and I take it from them.  It takes 30 seconds and then we start group.

I like this because it allows me flexibility with student seating. Rather than have them sit in the same place every day, I can move kids around as needed.

Here's what it looks like in action.  Horribly un-fancy but it works and I've invested all of 3 cents into it (been using the same Post-it notes for 5 months).  Yay for cheap and effective!
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10. Mystery Rewards

Fantastic classroom management idea from TeachingOnTheGC's instagram!  Write a reward and cover it with sticky notes.  Each time they achieve once of the sticky note skills, take it off to reveal part of the reward.  When all the sticky notes are gone, the class gets the reward!
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Photo Cred: Instagram/teachingonthegc

I could even see doing smaller scale mini ones of these (with mini sticky notes, of course!) for individual students or small intervention groups.  
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*Links are affiliate links. See full disclosure here.  

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Sunday, July 8, 2018

Sunday Scripture

This verse has been a good reminder for me lately and I wanted a graphic to go with it, so here it is!  Ephesians 6:12.

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Friday, July 6, 2018

Friday Funnies: Family Vacation Shirts

It's the time of year: family vacations.

For today's Friday Funnies I found 3 hilarious t-shirts. 
Pretty sure my teenager would wear this first one. ;)
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Friday, June 29, 2018

Friday Funnies

Happy Friday!!

funny cat pictures

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Monday, June 25, 2018

Games to Boost Executive Functioning: Task Initiation/Completion

We all have had students who have a difficult time with impulse control, planning ahead, time management, starting a task, completing a task, working memory, sustained attention, or organizing materials.  These are all executive functioning skills.  The frontal lobe of the brain is responsible for these.  The frontal lobe doesn't fully develop until adulthood so we can't expect students to operate on the same level as adults. However, some students lag behind our expectations for their age group.

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Students with ADHD often have a difficult time with at least one executive function skill.

Games are a great, fun, non-confrontational way for students to practice their executive functioning skills.  In this post I am sharing fifteen games that help with the specific skill of task initiation/completionThese are for the student who is still on #3 when the rest of the class has finished #20 and is already sitting at the rug for story time.  This is for the student who starts their project but can never seem to actually complete it. For the student who takes 15 minutes to get their pencil out.
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Note: Games are not a magic wand nor are they the only way to develop executive function skills.  We still need visuals, social stories, color-coded materials, and so on.  This is just one piece of the executive function puzzle.  We add it ALL up to get to success!

*Links are affiliate links.  Full disclosure here.*
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I have the original Bop It and just ordered the Bop It micro!  The kids LOVE this game trying to get a new high score.  I love it because it perks up my low-energy students and gets them engaged and working on making a decision---quickly!

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Spoons is a game you can play with a deck of cards and actual spoons.  There's a store-bought version of the game (that comes with little spoons) also available. Deal each player 4 cards.  Have one fewer spoons than you have players.  If you have 5 players, start with 4 spoons.  First person takes a card off the deck, discards one of theirs to the left.  That player discards a card to their left, and so on until it gets back to the dealer who then starts the process again.  The goal is to get 4 cards of a kind and grab a spoon.  Once the first person reaches for a spoon, everyone else quickly tries to grab a spoon.  The player without a spoon is out and the next round begins.

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This card game is easy for young students to learn and helps practice several executive functioning skills! Uno helps with planning ("The current color is green. Which card will I play when it is my turn?"), flexibility ("Oh no! I was going to play a yellow 3 but the number changed and now I need a blue or a 6!"), and task initiation ("It's my turn. I have to play a card!").

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Playing Charades helps students plan and begin a task.  They have to think about the picture/word to act out, plan how to act it out, and then actually act it out!  Most of my students are beginning readers so I have the picture charades version where it has a picture for them to see instead of just a word.

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Blurt is a quick game from Pathway To Success that you can play without having to purchase anything!  It helps students think quickly and also control their impulses!

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Pictionary is similar to charades.  It works on planning ahead, thinking from another's perspective, and task initiation.

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All this game requires is a deck of cards! If you've forgotten how to play since your childhood days, here's a slap jack refresher!

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Simon Says requires students to think on their feet, pay close attention to detail, and yes, task initiation!  If you don't do the movement, you're out!

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5 Second Rule is for older students (the box says ages 10 and up).  The timer component of the game makes it perfect for helping students practice task initiation--you have to give answers before time runs out!  Pick a card and set the timer. You have 5 seconds to name 3 things from that category.

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Have you played this?  It's available as an app and a Facebook game.  You make "recipes" by following the directions: crack eggs, mix, flip, and so on.  There are different recipes to make and you're timed each step of the way.  If you need an app to help a student practice task initiation, this would be a great one to try!

cranium, task initiation game

Cranium is perfect for high school students who need fun practice on executive function skills.  The box suggests ages 16 and up.  Teams compete in challenges that Hasbro explains as, "spelling a word backwards, drawing with their eyes closed, and solving a puzzle are just of few of the activities they might do."
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Another great game for older students, Scattergories requires teams to compete to come up with things from a category that also start with the letter rolled on the alphabet die.

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You'll need a set of ten frame cards for this one. TeachersPayTeachers has various free downloads available.  Here's a free one I like from Primary Delight.

Deal cards evenly between two players and have each player stack theirs face down.  Players turn over a card at the same time.  Here's where you can have some variety:
  • Greater Than (first person to say the number that's highest keeps both cards)
  • Addition (first person to say the sum of the 2 cards keeps both)
  • Multiplication (first person to say the product of the 2 cards keeps both)

Alternatively, play with all the cards in one stack.  Turn one over:
  • Name the Number (first person to say the number represented keeps the card)
  • Plus 10 (first person to say the number plus 10 keeps the card. Ex: Ten frame card shows 2, student would need to say 12).
  • Plus 100 (first person to say the number plus 100 keeps the card. Ex: Ten frame card shows 9, student would need to say 109).
Not only do these ten frame games help with number sense and fact fluency, but because there is a need to be FIRST, it prompts students to quick thinking.

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Urgency is the name of the game in Hungry Hungry Hippos!  The fast pace will spark students' need to start and complete a task (collecting the most marbles).  Hungry Hungry Hippos is perfect for all ages but especially the younger ages because it is so simple and easy to learn!

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Finally, Minute to Win it games are a fun way to practice task initiation when you are short on time!  I plan on doing another post soon to give more ideas for this type of game.  However, here's one to get you started:
You need 2 bowls, marshmallows, and a straw.  Put one bowl of marshmallows in front of the student and an empty bowl next to it.  Give the student a straw. They need to suck into the straw to pick up one marshmallow and dump it into the empty bowl.  They have one minute to see how many marshmallows they can transfer over!

Games mentioned in this post:

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