Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Resolutions for 2014 - A looking-forward linky!

Who can believe that it's the last day of 2013?  Time sure does fly when you're having fun!  I really enjoyed joining in with the 13 in 13 linky and looking back on the past year - it's amazing that so many small moments that make life so fulfilling are easily forgotten so it was great to reflect and remember.  To be honest, I'm not really good with reflection or goal setting... so to help with the latter I'm linking up with A Peach for the Teach to look forward and make some 2014 resolutions.

Personal: Before I moved away at the end of 2011 I got rid of all of my furniture - so this year I had to start over again setting up my little apartment pretty much from scratch.  I need a few more pieces of furniture - a day bed for the spare room, an armchair and coffee table for the office/random space - and then I will be happy. Because it's just me here I can take my time finding things that I'm happy with and spreading the expense out over time, but I'd really like to get things sorted asap!

Professional: Keeping on top of checklists, spreadsheets, recording sheets etc. is the task I struggle with the most at school.  Ask me what each of my kids can and can't do and I can tell you very specifically... but ask me to show you the evidence on paper and it takes me a while to produce the relevant data.  I know, I know... that makes me a terrible teacher!!!  I do try, I promise.  I'm really hoping to get on top of the paper trail before my kidlets start the new school year - I'l let you know how I go!

Classroom:  I know that most of you probably try to get the next week's resources set up before you leave on a Friday, but I plan specifics for the week on a Sunday so that's not possible for me.  I've tried in the past to plan ahead more, but since I have the time (no kids at home!) the Sunday session works the best for me.  It is such a pain, though, going into school Monday morning to set up for the week and having to put away the games/activities from the previous week's groups.  I don't mind staying late on a Friday afternoon because I feel happy knowing that when I come in early on a Monday morning I'll have a blank canvas to work with.  I'd really like to keep that habit going in 2014.

Blog/TpT: Oh, so many goals I could have here!  Probably the most relevant is to make sure that I take  photos of the things that I blog about in action!  Games and resources are so much easier to understand when you can see a picture of the kidlets using them.  I have a lovely school Mummy who this year gave me permission to publish photos of her twins (she has a blog too, so they are internet superstars!), and I have another of her children in the coming year (she has 5 kids, and AB will be the 4th of them that I've taught in Prep!) so I have no excuses for not getting great photos.  Trouble is, there's so many important things to be doing in the classroom that photos take a back seat (as they should).  Perhaps I'll make sure to leave the camera in a central position and ask my wonderful teacher aides to help me capture more learning moments.

Just for fun: I'd love to do some more travelling soon.  Finances will probably limit me to Australia/New Zealand, but that's just fine with me.  I'd love to take Chris and drive the Great Ocean Road, spend a few days in a log cabin in Tasmania, or head up to the Great Barrier Reef and spend some time in the sun.  :)

Hopefully I can plod along towards keeping these resolutions as 2014 goes on! Link up and share yours, maybe we can check in with each other and keep ourselves on track.

Happy New Year everyone! 


Tuesday, 24 December 2013

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Before I jump into bed and wait for Santa to visit tonight, I wanted to pop past and wish all of my lovely friendly followers a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!  It's Christmas Eve here and the temperature is close to 30 degrees Celsius so we have the air conditioning pumping and have enjoyed a bbq dinner outside.  Hoping for a cooler day tomorrow, but I don't think we'll be in luck. :)

If you get a chance, have a look at this adorable Christmas video.  I watch it every year (and show it to my class, too!) because it's a gorgeous reminder of the real reason for the season.

Merry Christmas everyone!  I hope you enjoy a day of family, friendship and love.


Monday, 23 December 2013

13 in 13 - A looking-back linky!

Summer vacation sure is empty of blogging inspiration... who wants to hear about my days sleeping in late and then walking on the beach? :)  Luckily, Kristin (a Teeny Tiny Teacher) is hosting a clever linky along with a few of her friends to help us all look back on 2013.

So without further ado, here's my 13 in 13!

I had a good long think about this... but I think I'd have to say my Steve Madden boots.  I saw a similar pair in 2012 that I didn't buy and had always regretted it - so I had to have these!

Coming in close second would be my Equator tights from TNA at Aritzia.  I don't even know what I wore around the house before these... shorts? Sweats? Who knows.  I love these so much that I bulk buy them when I'm in Canada. :)

Oh gosh, I really can't even remember going to the movies in 2013! Chris and I went to see Despicable Me 2 when I went to visit him, so maybe that one wins purely on sentimental grounds.

I am a reality TV tragic.  Seriously.  Real Housewives (of anywhere!), Toddlers and Tiaras, Say Yes to the Dress... the list could go on and on!  But this year, we had out very first Australian Bachelor! I'm so proud of us!

Earls.  It's my lovebird's and my favourite place.  I think it's because we had our very first dinner out there, and then it was our go-to restaurant after long shifts at work.  In 2013 we only went there a few times but it's still my fave.   If you're ever there, try the cajun chicken sandwich. :)

I think it would have to be creating and selling on TpT.  I was super nervous when I posted my first product... and then I waited anxiously to see if anyone would buy it!  Flash forward quite a few months, and I am very proud of my little store.  I am so appreciative to all of those TpT sellers who I have bought products from so I am very hopeful that I can help out in someone else's classroom the way that so many others have helped out in mine.

Just last week my best friend gave me a 365 journal - she predicts that 2014 will be a big year for me. :) I'm planning to start it on the 1st January - although you can start them anytime because the pages are numbered, not dated.  (It just so happens that I gave her the same gift... great minds think alike!)

I gave her the mint coloured one, and mine is the pink polka dot number.

Honestly... this is like asking me to choose my favourite student! I just spent a good 20 minutes looking at my Pinterest profile, and I absolutely cannot choose a favourite pin.  I will, however, choose my favourite boards!

Just to make you smile... - A collection of thinks that tickle my funny bone. 
Beautiful things... - Images that make my heart feel full.
Quotes... - Gotta love the power of words.

Come and follow me so I can follow you back! 

This one is tricky, too!  I must admit that I do like a bit of self-reflection, so my 10 Things I've Learned from Teaching entry was great for thinking about just how much my choice of career has influenced my life. :)

This year I was most proud of the time, energy and love I poured into my classroom and my kidlets.  Every week I was really focused on making sure that everything I planned was engaging, relevant and differentiated... Of course I had lots of successes and some failures, but I do feel that this year I was the best teacher that I have ever been.  Can you hear that, it's me tooting my own horn. Toot!  But seriously, I guess with experience comes a few tricks. :)

Chris and I did a road trip from Calgary to Summerland to visit my cousin and his wife in the Canadian Summer.  Those 4 days were magic. Sun, time with my lovebird, no alarm clocks, no work... it was perfect!  Plus, the scenery - AMAZING!

In this photo we were at Quail's Gate winery in the Okanagon.  

Ugh... I'm hopeless at goal setting!  Can my goal just be happiness?

There you have it, friends.  My 13 in 13.  Go link up and share yours, too!


Saturday, 14 December 2013

Five for Friday! 13/12/13

When the Five for Friday posts started popping up in my Bloglovin' feed this week, my first reaction was 'Huh? It's Friday?!'  Don't you just love being on Summer break and forgetting what day of the week it is? :)  Link up with Doodle Bugs and share your five random moments.

1. So... when I posted my Christmas Questionnaire responses the other day I mentioned that I love receiving presents over giving them... reading through everyone else's responses, I realised that I was just about the only one who gave that answer!  Consequently, I felt like the world's worst person!!  But I've had a think about it, and I think my honest answer would be that I love exchanging gifts. I love choosing a special item that I know my friends or family will love, and I also love opening up gifts that make me feel special and loved.  It's the giving and receiving of pressies at the same time that's my favourite. :)  Yesterday I exchanged gifts with my best friend (she's off overseas tomorrow).  We must know each other so well... we bought the same 365 Journal!

2. Along those lines, I wanted to share a pic of the cutest paper ever that I'm using this year to wrap some of my gifts.  I love watching Charlie Brown Christmas, so I was so happy to find this at Typo.

3. In my shopping adventures this week I have crossed quite a few things off my list for family and friends but I've also grabbed some bargains that are for (where else?) my classroom.  Alison Lester writes such gorgeous books so I was happy to grab a pack of 4 for $15, and I got a hardcover edition of The Very Hungry Caterpillar for $10 (normally $30).  'Yes' and 'Tall', written by Jez Alborough were down from $17 to $3!  You can never have too many Zoobs - they are on sale at Aldi this week, and the felt Christmas tree will get packed away to use next year on a classroom wall. The pretty scarf is for me. :)

4.  Yesterday was a beautiful, hot day.  I wandered down to the beach in the very late afternoon and enjoyed the warm breeze and the sound of the waves. :)

5.  To celebrate a few weeks of nails with no paint or playdough stuck in them I'm going to have a go at this manicure.  Wish me luck!

Happy weekend everyone!  


Thursday, 12 December 2013

Gettin' to Know You - Christmas Questionnaire!

I just love being a stickybeak and finding out more about the bloggers I follow. Michelle at Fabulous in First has put together a Christmas questionnaire to help us all get to know each other a little better, holiday style! Such a great linky idea - I had lots of fun looking through old photos and reminiscing. :)

Hot Chocolate or Eggnog?

Christmas here in Queensland is usually sweltering, so the idea of drinking anything hot is, frankly, awful.  No snuggling by the fire here!! And I've never tasted Eggnog - I have this thing where I won't eat or drink anything that I deem to be 'weird'.  There's no rhyme or reason to what goes on my weird foods list  - some of the entries include ketchup, mango, those crunchy noodles that sometimes go in salads, kiwifruit and any meat on the bone.  So I guess the answer to this question is: neither!  On Christmas Day you'd likely find me drinking sparkling grape juice (an old family tradition) or anything straight from the fridge. :)

Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them underneath the tree?

Umm... he wraps them!  Are there children out there getting UNWRAPPED presents?  Shocking.

Coloured lights or white?

For my own home, white all the way.  But I do enjoy looking at all the brightly coloured lights on the houses in my neighbourhood.

When do you decorate?

This year I decorated my tree mid-November!  But usually the 1st of December... I was overexcited this year! :)

Real or fake tree?

Fake!  We don't really have anywhere to buy real trees here - I'm sure you can find them at plant nurseries but fake trees are the norm.  People who do have real trees sometimes have gum trees, which I think is super cute. :)  I've spent a couple of Christmases overseas so have had real trees there.  Although last year, living in our Canadian basement we only had room for a few branches that we bought from Superstore.  (They are probably just the ones that fall off the big trees!).

Real branches in our basement last year. :)

What tops your tree?

A star. :)

This year's teeny tiny tree in my apartment!

Favourite Christmas memories or traditions?

This is a tough one. I love Christmas and have such fond memories of every year!  Some special ones:
*Spending Christmas Day walking through London with 3 of my cousins and close friends when we all ended up there at the same time back in 2002.

*The first Christmas with my nephew, Mack.
*Going to the big outdoor Carols by Candlelight concert in Brisbane with my best friend every year... and ending up sitting in plastic ponchos and under umbrellas because it rains every time!

*My cold Christmases in Canada - one on a holiday and one when it was my home.  Last year I cooked  a 3 course breakfast, we made a gingerbread house and then went for a walk in the snow.

But probably my favourite tradition is the big party my extended family has in the evening on Christmas Day.  Everyone (50+ of us!) gathers together and we eat, give gifts and dance to old rock & roll music until late in the night.  It's the only time in the year when we are ALL together, so it's lots of fun.

Do you remember your favourite gift as a child?

One year I desperately wanted a Cabbage Patch Kid.  Christmas morning I woke up and Santa had left one right in the fireplace!! (Yes, my parents have an open fireplace - even in tropical Queensland!  As you can imagine, we only ever light it in the middle of winter.)  Proof that not only does Santa exist, but he really does go in an out of the house through the chimney.  This must have been back in the 80's, because that Cabbage Patch Kid still had the hard plastic head and hands.  I got another one a few years later that was nice and soft. :)

Do you prefer giving or receiving gifts?

Both!  I love shopping for family and friends and choosing things that will make them happy.  I also love wrapping them so they look beautiful.  But I must admit, I love waking up Christmas morning and opening pressies to see what special things people bought for me!! :)

What is your favourite Christmas song?

Ugh, such a tricky question!  I just love Christmas songs and carols. But if I had to pick, I'd say 'Oh Holy Night', or maybe 'Joy to the World'... or 'Oh Come All Ye Faithful'...

Candy Canes. Yuck or yum?

I'm not really a candy person, but I do like the peppermint flavour.

Favourite Christmas movie?

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.  When Clark turns on the lights he's put on the house and it almost blinds them and drains power from all the houses around... that cracks me up.

Do you shop online or in stores?

In stores.  I love wandering around, listening to the Christmas music, taking my time to check out everything before choosing gifts to buy.

Photo cards, letter or store bought card?

Um... store bought gift tags! :)

Now it's your turn!  Link up to share about your Christmas style. :)


Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Winners and a FREEBIE!

Congratulations to Manda, Roxanne and Stef who are the winners of the Monster Madness Syllable Sort giveaway.  Check your emails, ladies!

Because I felt terrible that not all who left me a lovely comment could win I've marked the pack down in my TpT store for the rest of this week. :)

Since I'm here I'll let you know about a freebie I added just the other day.  If you love creating sensory play experiences for your kidlets, you might like to grab Stirring up Fun! It's a collection of recipes (all of which I've used in my classroom) for fun things like No-Cook Playdough, Cloud Dough, Rainbow Rice and Goop.  Mine's all printed and in a folder ready to put in my classroom kitchen for easy access when I need to whip up a batch of fun.  I hope it's helpful for some of you. :)

Well, I'm off to try and find my motivation so I can drag myself to the gym.  I know it's around here somewhere...


Monday, 9 December 2013

Monster Madness! A syllable sorting activity... with a giveaway!

Oh, the glorious spare time of Summer holidays! Before I settle down for an afternoon nap (I'm exhausted after a day of shopping!) I wanted to pop in to share with you all a new product that I uploaded to TpT yesterday.

My kidlets were so clever at breaking words into syllables this year - and I think that's because we did lots of hands-on, oral language based practise.  I have an old syllable card sorting resource that I have been using for donkey's years, but it was not cute at all falling apart so I decided to put together this for next years kiddliwinks - aren't those cute little monsters to die for?!  

It's super simple to use.  Just print/laminate/slice the pages.  The picture cards (showing a word with either 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 syllables) go upside down in a pile.

Students take turns to draw a card, they say the word shown, break it into syllables and place it on the appropriate sorting mat.

You can also use the cards in a pocket chart - I'm planning to use this as a whole class activity before I use this as practise in literacy groups and at that time we'll sort into the pocket chart.  I've provided smaller sorting cards for this option.  I've also included 2 very simple recording sheets in black and white.  

There's 8 words each for 1, 2 and 3 syllables, 5 words with 4 syllables and 3 words with 5 syllables.  Woah - way too many numbers!  This might be easier to understand:

Of course, you can choose the cards to include to focus on specific numbers of syllables.  This also makes it easy to differentiate. 

And now for a giveaway!  Leave me a comment, make sure you're following my blog and store and I'll choose 3 random winners on Wednesday when I get home from a long lunch with the girls.  They'll get these cute little monsters sent straight to their inbox.  :)


Sunday, 8 December 2013

Five for Friday + Ho-Ho-Holidays Gifts. Two linkys in one!

Hi everyone! I'm multitasking today and linking up with two lovely ladies - Kacey over at Doodle Bugs for Five for Friday, and Stephanie from 3rd Grade Thoughts to share the Christmas gift I gave to my kidlets this year.

1. I know this won't make me popular with anyone... but I'm all done with school for the year!  My kidlets had their last day on Tuesday, we met our new Preppies on Wednesday and Thursday and then Friday was a student free day for cleaning and organising.  Seven glorious weeks of summer holidays now stretch out ahead of me!! (I think I might be the very first blogger on Christmas break?)  I'm really looking forward to some time at the beach, getting my gym routine back on track and creating some new products that have been rattling around in my brain as ideas for a while.  To celebrate, all of my Christmas products in my store are on sale until Tuesday.  Go grab a bargain!

2. I must admit that I left thinking about Christmas gifts for my kidlets a little too late this year.  I decided on something that I was happy with (and so were the kids!) but I will definitely be checking through the ideas in the Ho-Ho-Holiday Gifs for Your Students linky.

I grabbed a cute pair of sunglasses for each of my kidlets, and attached a tag that read: Your future's so bright, you gotta wear shades!  Next year I will take more time to create a cuter tag, but these ones did the job they needed to!

3. Speaking of gifts, I'm really looking forward to a day spending this day spa gift certificate that a few of my sweeties gave me.  I think I might have a massage and a manicure. :)

4. Did you spend up big in the TpT Cyber Sale?  I bought a few things that I'd had on my wishlist and was just itching to get my hands on!

The first 2 products are from the very talented Mel from the Pond.

A-Z Tracing Worksheets
A-Z Pinning Pages
And this pack from Marsha (A Differentiated Kindergarten) whose products are AMAZING!

I Can Do It Myself Segmenting Fun

5. I've got a lot more shopping planned for this week, too!  I need to get all of my Christmas shopping done... I'm sure I'll think it's great fun for the first hour or so until I'm completely over the crowds! :)

Happy weekend, everyone!