Frozen Fridays

Frozen Fridays are a fun family tradition in our house.  When my daughter was itty bitty she loved watching Frozen, dressing up like Anna or Elsa, and eating ice cream.  That's how Frozen Fridays began.  We set up a pillow and blanket fort in the living room.  We plan our Frozen snack.  Most of the time it is a "frozen" ice cream treat.  Sometimes we find actual "Frozen" products like a gingerbread house of Elsa's castle.  My daughter either dresses in a themed Frozen outfit or Frozen jammies and then we settle in to watch the movie.  

Sometimes we invite friends or cousins for Frozen Friday Festivities.  It is always a blast.  We do not do this every Friday because we want to keep it special.  Now that the new Frozen II movie is about to come out, it's a perfect time for your family to start a Frozen Friday family tradition.  Memories to cherish forever!

Check out this Disney Frozen Website!

Mom Junction has fun Frozen coloring pages that can be a part of your Frozen Family tradition.

Here is a People article that lists new Frozen products on Amazon.

Frozen Products

New Facebook Group: Groovy Teaching Ideas

This summer, I am taking all kinds of new risks.  I just started my first Facebook Group called Groovy Teaching Ideas.  Any advice is welcome.  It is a place to share, learn, and grow.  You can find the link on my Groovy Educator Facebook Page.  Please feel free to share with friends and family.

Teaching Writing Skills and Vocabulary Through Conversation - "Fans"

In this relatively short video, I model how you can use conversations to build your child's vocabulary.  Through questioning and rephrasing, you are modeling appropriate language skills.  This in turn improves your child's ability to write because usually if a child can say it, he/she can write it (even if words are sounded out).

In the video, I begin by asking what my daughter wants to talk about and she replies "fans."  Then she goes on to say "So today we will be talking about fans."  She automatically went into an introduction without even realizing she was stating the topic (probably because her mom's a teacher).  By giving her a choice on the topic, she is more interested in the conversation.  This builds engagement.

A little while later in the video, I state "Apparently my daughter is a fan of fans."  I am intentionally modeling another way to use the word fan exposing her to mulit-meaning words (in a fun way).  I tried to use a little humor to keep her engaged.

When I asked her what she liked about fans, this is leading her into provided details (another important element of writing).  I then asked her about the function of a fan.  When she didn't know what function meant, I knew this was a teachable moment where I can help build her vocabulary.  I guided her thinking through questions and then asked her to provide more examples.  

Towards the end I provided the sentence stem "Now we know..." and she was able to complete it.  I know this is not the strongest ending but it provides structure.  

If I was going to have her write about this, I would model putting all the information she just gave me into a thinking map and then ask her to tell me about fans just like she did during our conversation referencing the thinking map.  

This then would be transferred over to writing.  

I hope you enjoyed watching our video.  It was super fun to make!

Science - Animal Movement

Last night there were some adorable frogs on our porch.  I filmed one and had fun editing the 30 second movie in iMovie.  

It made me think about teaching first grade writing and science.  Children could watch this short clip and discuss/describe the frog's movement.  Also, the children can compare and contrast this frog's movement with that of another animal. 

In science one of the topics we study is how animals move.  We read is titled Move! written by: Robin Page and illustrated by: Steve Jenkins.  The short little clip is a great introduction to the concept of movement before reading the story.

Here are a few more resources that may be useful if you are  teaching this topic.  Even though some are geared more towards Kindergarten and Preschool, they're helpful differentiated lessons for struggling students.  

Pickles-A Groovy Cat

                      Click here to see Pickles on YouTube!

Pickles is one of my rescue animals.  I absolutely love my pets.  They are a perfect topic during modeled writing lessons, especially narratives.  I use them to demonstrate how to think about writing.  The kids are engaged when I write about Pickles, Sparky, Cali, Alice, Sadie, Rosie, or Zeus.  They ask a lot of questions and that lead to more detailed writing infused with adjectives and descriptive language. The writing is much more rich in vocabulary and not just "safe writing."    

I made a little thirty second video featuring Pickles the cat.  He was a stray that we saved from under a friend's car while visiting an out of town relative.  My husband didn't want to keep him at first because we had too many animals already (3 cats and 2 dogs).  Somehow Pickles found a way into his heart and now they are bonded.  Pickles is definitely his cat but sometimes Pickles makes his rounds.  When I was filming my very first YouTube video, Pickles made a surprise appearance.  I decided to make this little 30 second video. This blog, YouTube channel, Facebook page, and Pinterest board are a work in progress, always evolving, always growing.  I appreciate any and all constructive feedback.

My First YouTube Video!!! Groovy Educator Intro

Please click the link below and check out my first YouTube video.  It’s less than two minutes long.  It features Groovy Educator and Groovy Learner with a surprise appearance by Pickles the cat. 😁  

If you like the video, please subscribe, like or comment.  We sure had fun making this video!

YouTube link:  Groovy Educator Intro

I Wrote a Children's Book... Now the Hard Part.... Waiting

I almost didn't write this post because I don't know what is going to happen yet...

That's probably why I am up at 3:28 in the morning.  My mind won't shut off.

Last summer, I finally sat down and wrote a children's book.  (Right now I am keeping it secret because I am hoping it will be published.)   Publishing a children's book has been a dream since fifth grade after my teacher had us write a book in class. 

Why did it take so long to actually write the story?  I think it really comes down to it just wasn't my time.

Right now I have a darling daughter who is so dear to me in so many ways.  The idea of being able to pass on a little piece of me after I am gone is so important to me.

Last March I was in the hospital for a week and it just made me realize how fragile life truly is... I'm fine now.  Thank God!

Also, five years ago, my dearest dad passed away unexpectedly.  Losing him was devastating.  Recently my dad's aunt and uncle (who are in their 80s) mailed my mom and I letters dad wrote.  Tears cascaded down my face when I read letters my dad wrote his grandmother as both a child and as an adult.  Even though dad is gone, His voice lives on through his writing.  One of the letters was from 1957 when my dad was 10 years old.  It was so special to have a small snapshot of him when he was a kid.  Other letters he wrote when I was about 5 or 6 years old.  He mentioned me in the letter and his love for me shone through.  It was just so special in so many ways.

Words are so powerful.  I collect vintage books and when I hold one, I can't help but wonder about where the book may have been 100 (or more) years ago.  Who held it?  What did the house look like?  Back then, before computers, books had value.  If you really think about all the work that went into producing a book compared to today, it was really laborious.  I respect the effort that went into the process.

Fast forward to today.  Now there is so much on the market that the labor goes into the marketing aspect or book sales.  I haven't published a book yet but I have been researching the process.  When you do that, it seems so overwhelming and so hopeless.  This is probably why I waited a year before even considering submitting my manuscript.

This summer I finally buckled down and set a goal to submit it to publishers.  Last year my school had a guest reader who is a local author.  She was fantastic and her book was well-done.  I looked at the publisher of her book and submitted my manuscript.

They accepted it BUT come to find out it was a hybrid publishing company.  It was a lot like self publishing but with some extra services.  The acquisition specialist was so kind and complimentary.  After a few days she sent me a proposal.  It was so exciting!!!  After reading it though, there was A LOT of upfront costs that I would have to pay.  I seriously contemplated going through with it but it just isn't in our budget right now.  My husband is so supportive.  He trusted I would make the right decision.  I have a small child and to pay out that kind of money and be on a shoe string budget isn't fair to I decided to decline the offer for now.  The company was so understanding and kind.  If the traditional publishing route doesn't work out, I will probably save up and pursue publishing with this company.

Even so, I was heartbroken thinking about giving up my dream.  Instead of researching publishers, I decided to narrow my search and research local publishers.  I was shocked to find a mid-size publisher in my city.  I looked online and read reviews and everything looked promising.  I decided to call and ask if they required their authors to pay up front before I submitted my manuscript.  The person I spoke with explained that this was a traditional publisher and they did not do that.  I was elated.

After a district math training, I went home and worked on a query letter and submitted my manuscript.  Now I am sitting on pins and needles.  She told me they would probably let me know in about three weeks.  In my mind I know this is short in the publishing world because a lot of places say it will be months, but it feels like forever.

It has only been a few days.  This publisher only accepts about three authors a month.  I know my chances are slim.  I just want it so badly.  With school starting back up, I told myself if this doesn't work out, I will make submitting my manuscript to publishers my summer job.

I wish I could tell you a little about the story and the publishers.  Unfortunately, it's a secret until I know if this book is accepted.

If I did get a deal, it would be so much fun marketing it.  I dream about going to the International Literacy Association Annual Convention and selling my book.  I dream about going to local stores and talking up my book.  I dream of setting up a booth at craft fairs and selling my book.  But most of all I dream of reading it to my daughter and then listen to hear read it.  I would love to video her reading it and post it on youtube.

Only time will tell...

My Spelling Dictionary

It has been an eternity since I've blogged or made a product for Teachers Pay Teachers.  This morning I got up extremely early and just could not rest.  My mind was racing about school in the middle of summer vacation.  I am a first grade teacher and I starting thinking about teaching writing.  The spelling dictionary I've been using needed to be updated and I decided to make my own using the Dolch High Frequency Words.  I did add it one word "question" so there would be a word for the letter "q" and because it is an important word. 

Every year I use a spelling dictionary to reinforce alphabetical order.  I also teach the children to use it while editing.  I don't like for them to have it out during drafting as I have found some become too reliant on it and use safe writing. 

Every week we add our new sight words to the spelling dictionary.  If they are already in the dictionary, I teach the children to highlight them.  If not, they simply write them in.  The kids love this because it gives them ownership over their learning. 

Here is a link to the "Spelling Dictionary" in my TPT store.  It is only $2.00

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Frozen Fridays Frozen Fridays are a fun family tradition in our house.  When my daughter was itty bitty...