Image Map

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Questionnaire

I hope you all are feeling as relaxed as I am.  This Sunday is bringing me peace and feeling wonderful catching up on all of the things that have been neglected the last few weeks.  

Today, I am linking up with Michelle over at Fabulous In First.  She put together a great little questionnaire about Christmas.  Some were very easy to answer, others I had to think about.

Hot Chocolate or Eggnog?
Totally hot chocolate!  Especially when I can make the perfect portion in my Keurig.  I also bought those little marshmallows that don't get soggy in hot chocolate.  Yum!

Does Santa wrap presents are just put them under the tree?
At our house, Santa brings just one gift.  They are never wrapped and they are sitting by the fireplace and stockings (which he also stuffs).  The rest of the presents are from Mom and Dad and are underneath our tree in our front room.

Colored lights or white?
Actually neither.  We have a gold theme in our house, so naturally the tree has gold lights on it.  I always stock up on them when I find them because all gold lights are really hard to find!

When do you decorate?
I usually try to have the hubs bring up the tree the weekend after Thanksgiving.  Then the girls and I decorate the following weekend with popcorn and Christmas movies.

Real or Fake tree?
Fake.  Totally much bigger than we really have space for!

What tops your tree?
Believe it or not, we don't have a lot of room from the top of the tree to the ceiling.  So this year, our tree is topped by Perry the Platypus from Disney's Phineas and Ferb.

Favorite Christmas memories or Traditions
My daughters and I decorate our tree every year while watching Christmas movies and eating homemade popcorn.  No wonder why those ornaments are a little buttery!

Do you remember your favorite gift as a child?
I honestly can't remember a favorite gift.  I do remember wanting the game Mouse Trap for one Christmas.  I played with it for 1 day before I got tired of all the parts not working the correct way.  It was a lot of work to set up everything just right!

Do you prefer giving or receiving?
Giving by far.  So much that I stress out every year either going overboard on my two girls or trying to find that perfect gift for friends.

What is your favorite Christmas song?
"Oh Holy Night" is my favorite Christmas hymn.  I love the dynamics and the power of the song.  I soloed on this song in high school and it has always stayed with me.  I also love "Merry Christmas With Love."  Clay Aiken made the song famous, but I prefer the original by Sandy Patti.

Candy Canes:  Yuck or Yum?
Yuck!  I feel the same with Candy Corn during Halloween.

Favorite Christmas movie

Do you shop online or at stores?
Both.  Big fan of Amazon!

Photo Cards, letter, or store bought cards?
Photo cards have been the staple in our house lately.  Relatives love to see pictures of the kids.  This year though, I will be sending New Year's cards instead of Holiday cards.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


I look forward each month to linking up with Farley at Oh' Boy Fourth Grade.  This always helps me take stock, and reminds me of what is important.

Listening  When I first started this post, the little one (who will be 7 on Saturday) was in her room singing when she was supposed to be sleeping.  Her songs are made up and tend to go on and on and on and on ... The hubs and I like to think of them as mini operas.  I know that she is content and happy when I hear her singing.  I love these moments and I know I will miss them as she grows older!

Loving  I have recently taken more time to read books that are on my list for pleasure.  I started reading Alligient by Veronica Roth, the third book in the series.  I stopped and started reading the first in the series again Divergent, because I didn't want to miss anything in the third book.  I am loving going back and re-discovering it again.  I seriously could not put it down the first time!  Try it!

Thinking  I am a last minute shopper.  Who am I kidding, I am a last minute everything!  I have a good portion of my shopping done this year (thank you Amazon)!  I seriously love getting the one gift that you know they (whoever they may be) love.  Such a great feeling!

Wanting  Okay, after re-reading what I said above, even I threw up in my mouth a little bit. :)  There are always those few kiddos who just kind of creep into your heart and camp out.  And it is not always the ones that you think it is going to be.  Some of them have so much in their world that is already against them, I feel the need to arm them with knowledge and a whole lot of TLC.

Needing  I know that I am not alone in my feelings of being overwhelmed.  I find it interesting that as I read the posts from my blogging friends, that many of them say the same thing.  It doesn't matter where they are teaching - from coast to coast, there is a lot going on in the world of education.  Teachers have a lot on their plates!  Nough' said!  Take it day by day!

Favorite Tradition  Every year, my daughters and I decorate our tree.  I worked at a Hallmark store from age 16 all the way through college.  I saved up on the cute Hallmark ornaments that I liked (thank you employee discount).  Now my girls have added their own that they have made from their classroom and Girl Scout days.  We watch Christmas movies (last couple of years it has been Elf and The Polar Express) and eat popcorn.  My grandma always made her popcorn over the stove with lots of butter and salt.  I make it just like she did!  The hubs usually comes in about half way through and tells us the spots we have missed!  Gotta love that!

I have loved reading my blogging friends posts this month and learning about their favorite traditions!  Thanks Farley!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

All Kinds of Sales

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  I know that spending time with family was much needed on my end.  Those well-deserved breaks seem to come at the exact right moment.

Quite a hectic November in the Steed household.  My husband rolled his ankle a couple of weeks ago.  He has a big ole' boot and crutches.  The poor guy's foot is about a million shades of purple, from both sides of his ankle down to his toes.  It is even purple on the bottom of his foot.  Luckily it is not broken, but there is some chipped bone.  He is quite the superhero.  Even with his bum foot, he was able to carry our Christmas tree up from the basement!  Love that guy!!

Enough about me and my woes, I also have some good news to share!  First Teachers Notebook is running a sale.  It started November 30th and it runs until December 2nd (always behind the 8 ball).  My whole shop is 20% off.  They have some amazing deals going on!

And last, would you like to take advantage of shopping in your pjs and not leaving the house?  Well, fill up your cart at Teachers Pay Teachers!  They are having a Cyber Monday Sale on Monday and Tuesday.  I already have my wish list prioritized....... do you?  Click the picture below to take you to my store!

Thanks to Jen Jones at Hello Literacy for the cute button!!  You can get up to 28% off if you enter the check-out code:  CYBER.

Tomorrow is back to school and the chaos that is December.  Are y'all ready to tackle it?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Gift of Reading Blog Hop - Stop #5

Welcome to Reading is Elementary! You have arrived at  

At each blog stop, you will be gathering Reading gifts and freebies.  In each post you will find a picture of a snowman with a letter on it. Collect all of the letters to solve the mystery quote to enter the giveaway. Record all of the letters on your recording sheet and follow each blog along the way so that you can enter the amazing giveaway at the end!

The hop is set up as a loop, so you may start anywhere along the hop, but if you would like to start at the beginning you may go to A Day In The Life of A Title I Teacher's blog.  This is also where you will go after you finish the hop to enter the giveaway!!

I love this theme because the "Gift of Reading" could be just about anything.  There are too many gifts to count.  I for one, like to think about the reader that is just starting out.  For some little ones, it comes naturally.  My oldest daughter pretty much taught herself how to read.  To this day it is one of her favorite activities.  My youngest is a good reader as well, but she went through the natural steps of a beginning reader.

For other children, reading seems to be a mysterious idea.  They know that letters and words are involved, but they sometimes get the feeling that they can't do it.

For those students, I love sharing this book with them.

It is about a duck that gets stuck in the muck and she is finally able to get out with the help of some friends.

We know as readers that we all get stuck sometimes when we read.  We are like the duck, waiting there in the muck for someone to help us.  This is the time when that little reader would look up at you with those big baby blues or baby browns and beg to be rescued by you telling them the word that they are stuck on.  We know that we are doing them no favors by telling them without having any other strategies to work from.  Enter your "friends!"  These little critters are a life saver for that reader who is constantly looking to be rescued (and all of your other readers too).

When I saw that Melonheadz made a version of these "Beanie Baby" critters, I knew that I had to have them!  There are many versions out there, but here is the latest.  Click on the picture below to pick up your freebie!

Now, onto your collection!

My secret letter is...

Thank you for stopping by my blog today! I hope that you enjoyed your gift and learned something new. If you would like to be the first to know about new post, giveaways, and blog hops follow me on Bloglovin' by clicking the image below!

Don't stop now! Hop on over to Reading and Writing Redhead to pick up another amazing reading gift! Happy Holidays! 

If you get lost along the way download the Hop Map here to easily pick back up where you left off! 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

What's My Schedule?

I am linking up today with Susan over at TGIF! - Thank God It's First Grade.  She has a great linky there asking us all to link up our daily schedules.  She was curious when her move from one state to another got her thinking about how different all of our schedules could possibly be and we essentially have the same job:  to educate children!  Her linky is called What's Your Schedule?

She might not have had a specialist teacher in mind when setting this up, but I also get very curious as to what other literacy specialists' schedules look like!  Do you pull small groups all day?  Do you coach all day?  Do you do a little bit of both?  How is it structured?

So here is what mine looks like.

I know that it probably covers up half of my sidebar, but I wanted to make it big enough so you could actually see it.  My 40-something eyes already have the no-line trifocals!

I also have a reading teacher who is at our school for one hour a day.  She sees a group of 3rd grade students and a group of first grade students.

As you can see, most of my job is being a pull-out reading teacher.  I try to do as much coaching as I can.  However, most of that has to be done through professional development at staff meetings, conversations in the hallway, or someone coming up to me saying that they want to know more about or try something that they haven't done before and need help.

I jokingly said that the stress of this year has helped me to lose weight.  Now looking at the schedule, I think I just don't have time to eat!  My 30 minute lunches are all working lunches so I can plan what I need to do for the afternoon or next day, look at recent assessments, plan the parent or paraprofessional run intervention program, looking at data, etc!  My waistline loves being busy, but now I have no time to buy new pants!

I would love to hear what other reading specialists' schedules look like.  Link up with Susan so I can see how y'all spend your time!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

November Currently

Thanks to the wonderful Super Sleuths Blog Hop, I have been getting back into my blogging groove (insert 70's music here).  Now, that I have my groove back, I need to get in some good content!  That will have to wait, because I feel the need to take stock and see what I look at what I am doing "Currently."  I am just hoping I am not like #400 on the link-up list!  Thanks to Farley for this great Linky!

Listening - This time change always takes me a few weeks to get adjusted.  I loved having the extra hour, but I feel like I am going to pay for it in the morning!

Loving - I absolutely love watching my girls in their activities.  We try to do only do one activity at a time.  For my oldest, it was softball.  Her fall season wrapped up a week ago.  They played a division up, so they were 3rd and 4th grade girls playing against 5th and 6th grade girls.  Their record had them in 3rd place at the end of the season.  For the tournament, they must not have liked that placement, because the girls went out there and won the whole darn thing!  First place in the tournament!  My youngest finished up her last football game that she cheered at on the same day as my oldest's softball tournament (always happens that way right)?  Then past two weekends, they have been competing for a chance to go to the state competition.  They did an amazing job!  Sadly, they did not accumulate enough points to make it to the state level.  To be honest, I wasn't sure if I was happy or sad about that!

Thinking - Yes, we are thinking about getting a dog.  We put our last dog down when my youngest was 3 months old.  (she will soon be turning 7)!  He was a golden retriever named Jake, and I fear I may not love another dog as much as I loved him.  I am sure I probably thought this about having a second child too.  Anyhoo, we are ready to try again.  We are looking to adopt, but taking our time looking.

Wanting - Today, I did it!  I have been thinking and eyeing personal laminators pretty much all summer long.  I bit the bullet and bought one today.  I love it!!!

Needing - I haven't gotten my hair cut since about last May.  My beauty lady (that's what I call her) will think I feel off the face of the Earth!  I have this natural curl that drives me crazy, and if I don't get it cut on a regular basis it loses its style.  Maybe now I'll have time with the girls having no activities!

A Yummy Pin - You know winter is coming when you have made your first batch of chili.  I made mine this week, and I tend to make a lot more soups in the winter.  One of my favorites is this recipe for Lemon Chicken Rice Soup.  It is delicious, but you have to double or even triple the recipe if you want any leftovers.  It is the best one I have found!  Click the picture to take you to the site.  You have to scroll down about 6 or 7 soups, but the recipe is there.  It is wonderful!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

I just wanted to take a moment to say have a spooktacular Halloween.  Don't forget to visit my store.  It will be on sale until the end of today!

When I first saw this last year, I laughed out loud.  Hope you enjoy the day!

Monday, October 28, 2013


I have been counting down or up depending on which way you want to look at it until I finally reached 100 "likes" on my Facebook page!  It happened (I think) in the wee hours of the night or morning.  When I woke up this morning, there it was!

I know that most people celebrate when they reach like 300 or something, but this has been a good weekend for celebrating.  My first ever blog hop went fabulously well!  I increased my followers on Bloglovin considerably, which is great because the more people you get to know, the more you get to learn from others!  And then my 100 likes!

Okay, so on to what my good fortune means for you.  My whole Teachers Pay Teachers store will be on sale starting tomorrow (Tuesday) and running through until Halloween.

In addition, I am having a flash freebie on my bestselling item for 24 hours.  Pick it up before 9:00 PM Central time on Tuesday! (Okay, so that's like 24 hours and 10 minutes) Click on the picture below to get yours!

Thanks everyone!  Happy Monday!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Super Sleuth Blog Hop - Stop #27

Hello my fellow detective!  You made it!  This is stop #27.  You are almost there!  If you are starting here, you will want to go to stop #1.  Otherwise you are going to miss some VERY important clues, and that's where you will download the all important recording sheet!

I think that being a detective is all about finding patterns and being observant.  I know that you know this, but students sometimes have to be reminded that most of the words that we use when we read and write have patterns (except those "jail" words).  If you are explicit with your teaching of those patterns, students will pick them up.  They may just have to put their detective skills to work!

I used this strategy all the time when I taught third grade and have been using it with my small reading groups. This blog hop gave me a chance to clean and spice it up!

The nice thing about this freebie is that it is great to use with any grade!  The students start by making sure that they have their detective hat on.  The detective hat is just the hat provided for you copied onto card stock and laminated.  I then attach construction paper strips to it to make a "hat" that wraps around their head, but also looks like a detective's hat.  I then make sure that they have their magnifying glass.  This helps them examine the words that they are studying more closely!  Every little gimmick helps right?

I then tell the children that hey are going to hear me say some words.  Their job is to guess which column the word I am saying goes in.  At first, they have no idea which column the word goes in and are just merely guessing.  As more words are up on the board and on their papers, they start to detect (pun intended) some patterns within each column.  Here are some of the organizers.

They are also in black and white.  They would be great for a Smart or Promethean Board.  Then the students could use the black and white ones to have their own copy as you go through the lesson.

Here is an example, I recently used this with one of my first grade groups.  My word-work target was for them to notice and hear the "sh," "ch," and "th" sounds.  I started naming words and the students were guessing the columns.  They knew what the rule was before I even had the 3rd word in each column!  I then challenged them to each give me a word of their own to put in each column.  I had every hand raised.  It was awesome!

It also works for some of the older students.  In my third grade group, we were differentiating and sorting for the short a and long a sounds.  I used a Words Their Way sort for this.  Once they were pretty proficient at hearing the difference between the two, I told them they were now going to be a word detective.  They have been studying mysteries in the classroom, so being a detective was right up their alley!  I used 4 columns and had them guessing which column the words went in.  My sort was:  column 1 a-e, column 2 ai, column 3 ay, and column 4 oddball.  They started to understand by about the 3rd or 4th word in each column.  We then named each column with the rule.

Their job was not done!  Now they had to look for anything else they noticed about the columns.  One student detected (there I go again) that "ay" was always at the end of a word (all were one syllable words at this time).  "Yes!" I said, "What else?"  One of my quiet girls said that she was not sure of tail and tale because both were right and you needed to know the definition to know which one you were talking about.  "Yes, yes!"  I said.  Well, I could keep going, but this post is getting long and you have one more stop!

Anyhoo, where do I get the words or ideas for sorting?  From a few sources actually.  I do make some up as I go.  When in doubt, I turn to the experts.  Here are a few:

I love the assessments in the Words Their Way books and the Phonics From A to Z is a really good tool for understanding different patterns.

Well, that's it!  Click on the picture below to grab your freebie!

Here is your letter:

If you like what you saw try following me on Bloglovin!

And finally, here is your next stop!