Monday, June 29, 2015

Top 10 iPad Apps For Kids!

Disclaimer: Most pictures and descriptions (some edited by me) are from You can click on any name to go to iTunes to see more or download the app. Some apps are free while others you have to purchase.  These are all apps that my students and I have used in my classroom. We are super fans!

This app teaches letter sounds.  Children match an image to the correct letter showing the beginning sound.

Backyard Phonics Adventure


Backyard Phonics Adventure was designed by a kindergarten teacher with both students and teachers in mind. It uses letters and pictures to teach children letters and their sounds as well as beginning phonics. You can match a beginning sound to a letter or a beginning sound to another picture with the same beginning sound.



Listen to the word the BINGO Bug speaks and tap on the corresponding word on the screen. Get four words correct vertically, horizontally or diagonally to get BINGO and win! The quicker you get BINGO the better your score. Your score is based on time and the lower the score, the better. Earn a BINGO Bug when you beat your best score.

abc PocketPhonics: letter sounds & writing + first words

By Apps in My Pocket Ltd

PocketPhonics teaches kids letter sounds, first words and handwriting. PocketPhonics shows children how to write letters using arrows they can follow with their finger or a stylus. 

Counting Caterpillar

By Bellamon

Counting Caterpillar teaches the basics of counting with fun game play, beautiful graphics and quality sound effects. Catch aphids in the correct number sequence to feed the caterpillar and fill its belly.  Earn butterflies while progressing through multiple levels. 

Montessori Numbers - Math Activities for Kids

By L'Escapadou

Students learn to count up to 999, experiment with quantities and learn their names, learn numbers and their names and trace numbers. 

Everyday Mathematics® Monster Squeeze™

By McGraw-Hill School Education Group

Players take turns finding the secret number on a number line. In each round, the monster designates a secret number on a number line. Players try to guess this number by clicking one of the numbers. If the number chosen is larger than the secret number, that number and all larger numbers on the number line are covered by the monster. If the number chosen is smaller than the secret number, that number and all smaller numbers on the number line are covered by the monster. Players take turns clicking numbers until one of them identifies the secret number and wins the round. There are a total of 5 rounds in a game. 

Split Box

By Marc Sockel

Compose and decompose numbers and practice subitizing in this math activity. The Split Box is the ideal way to visualize the composition of quantities up to 10. 

Read Me Stories - Children's books

By 8Interactive Limited

A new book EVERY DAY develops your child's love for books and a daily reading habit. Wow!!!

Epic! - Unlimited Books for Kids

By Epic! Creations Inc

Epic! is the only ALL-YOU-CAN-READ eBook library for kids 12 and under with thousands of high quality children’s books, streamed instantly to your iPad, FREE for teachers and librarians.

National Geographic Kids

By National Geographic Society

National Geographic Kids magazine for iPad® is packed with engaging content that boasts fun and learning for both kids and parents. It's the perfect magazine for ages 6 and up! Plus, print subscribers can now get complimentary access to the iPad edition. Magazine features include…

Animal stories
Weird-but-true facts
Photo games
Cool quizzes
Puzzles and jokes
Articles on history, technology, science, and more!



 If you are good at math, then you probably have noticed that I shared 11 apps with you. It really was hard to narrow it down. Ha! If you didn't notice that there were 11 apps, well...I'm sure there is an app to help with that. Ha!

I hope you learned about a new app and give them a try.  These are all kid tested and teacher approved! Happy downloading!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

You're Going To Put That Where?

Oh, snap.

So I went to our local hospital yesterday for the hysterosalpingogram test. My sister was so sweet to go with me. Actually, I wanted a driver so I could take a muscle relaxer before I went. I knew it was a toss up. Half of the people I know expereince pain and the other half said it was no biggy. Either way, I wanted to be prepared.

After changing into my oh so flattering hospital gown, I layed on the table. I brought my own socks because I hate getting cold feet. Ha! See what I did there?

Then, the doctor inserted the dreaded speculum. This should be just like your normal lady visit but not for this hot mess patient. Nope. He had trouble seeing my uterus and then when I did see it, he couldn’t find the opening. So he kept moving the speculum around and further in. I’m pretty sure you could have used it to tickly my throat if necessary. Cue big tears. Luckily, my sister rushed over to hold my hand, brush my bangs back and calmingly prompt me to try and stay calm and breath. My daughter was supposed to take me but I was worried she would be late to work so I asked my sister instead. I’m so glad it worked out that way because she knew just how to calm me down. When he finally found the opening, he inserted the catheter tube. This wasn’t too bad but when they started to push the dye it, that hurt. Think very bad cramps. 10 minutes later it was over. I could have been better. I’m sure it could have been worse. I had mild cramping afterwards.

The test showed my right tube is good and strong. My left tube was another story. Very limited dye went into it and none shot out of it. The doctor said that it could potentially be blocked but he wasn’t sure that was the case. He said my scan didn’t look normal and he should see a triangle. He suggested that I get another vaginal ultrasound to check for a mass or fibroids. This did not freak me out though.

As soon as I left I called my doctor. I knew that they wouldn’t get the results for several days and since I just finished my third round of clomid, I didn’t want to waste time. I am set to ovulate Wednesday or Thursday of this coming week. This all felt even more stressful to me now. I told my nurse (who knows my case inside and out and is the sweetest thing eva) what the testing doctor said. She pulled up my most latest scan from March and said that she sees no mass or fibroid and everything actually looked really good. She thinks that he had a hard time seeing everything because I have a different shaped uterus, also known as an arcuate uterus. I’ve known this for a few years. This doesn’t mean I can’t conceive or carry I child, I just need to be monitored and may require bedrest during the last trimester.

So, here is what I currently know.

Today (the day after the test) my body hates me. When I stand I feel like the bottom will fall out. Fun huh? Apparently my uterus is not a fan of being dilated. There must be an invisible elephant planted on my abdomen. I am convinced of this. It's so weird to me that I feel the same as I did after my D&C. Lots of pressure. I sing in our worship band and tomorrow we are doing a set that lasts over an hour for a concert which means I need to be on my feet for a good two hours. I'm hoping that I can handle this. Eek.

I am STILL a hot mess patient. This is my life. Ha! I’ve always been the opposite of normal. Doctors tend to call me a “special patient.” That really has never meant “lucky.” At. All.

I am not worried about the possibility of one tube being blocked. I know you only need one. My sister-in-law got pregnant with two great kids with one tube. I feel like that was set in place to keep my faith strong during that moment of realizing what may be my new truth.

I love my husband. His faith is not shaken, or at least he doesn’t show it which is what I need. I remind myself daily that he is my first love. The kids will grow up and eventually have their own families. He is my constant, forever, and foundation.

No matter the outcome, all of this suffering will one day be worth it.

Next week I will be referred to a fertility specialist. I have dreaded this for years. I know that this can be costly which is scary to me. Why does it have to be so expensive to have a baby?! Maybe I can sell a kidney. You only need one right? Ha! Seriously, I worry that I will need to start another business or get an additional job. I’m not going to freak out though until I have the appointment and find out what we are looking at. I really can’t put this off any longer. I am certainly not getting any younger. Ha!

God is faithful. He was there yesterday, he is here today and he will be there tomorrow.

Lastly, I am thankful for you. I have totally shared my heart and have been flooded with support. I am the lucky one here. One thing I have learned through this journey is that I am not alone. Unfortunately, this is something that many women deal with but often alone. That makes me so sad and totally not how God intended it to be. This journey is filled with ups and downs, births and losses. All of which should never be done in silence nor alone.

Faithfully believing…this certainly isn’t the end of this story.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Using Centers To Create Learning Experiences

Literacy centers have always been my students’ favorite part of the day.  I am always sad when I talk to teachers and they say they don’t have time for centers anymore.  I realize that the pressure we are under as kindergarten teachers has increased greatly the past few years, but at the end of the day our students are still only five years old.  They learn best by hands-on activities and play, which is all the more reason centers should be a staple in all kindergarten classrooms.o:p>

Centers in my classroom vary depending on needs and ability levels.  When I create groups, I try to consider a balance with a stronger student and a student that may require more assistance.  My centers are on an eight to ten center rotation. I have 2-3 students in each center. I have done centers every way possible but I have found that small groups definitely work best. I also mix up my groups once a month so students have opportunity to work with more peers and build those relationships. 
How I do centers at the beginning of the year and how I do them second semester is totally different because my students are capable of so much more and can handle the freedom of more choices. 

While students are in centers, I am pulling guided reading groups.  I have procedures set in place for students to show me their work. I have a push night light on my teacher table. I purchased several like these from the Dollar Tree.

When it is on, they are not allowed to come to my table. It's only on when I am working with a small group. After it goes off (in between groups), I allow for a few minutes to check work. I look over work and if they have completed it correctly, I put a smelly smiley on their paper and they put in their cubby to take home that day. I don't "grade". I do have them make corrections if answers are incorrect or they have made a "sloppy copy".

Each center has some sort of writing (sometimes full page, sometimes half page). For my scavenger hunt and write the room, they are only half pages. I have picture cards (I Can cards) in each basket/tub. They do the "paper" activity first and then do the other activity next. For example, their tub may have two cards in it. One shows a Write the Room picture and another shows Big Books. After they write the room, they go to big books. 

So, essentially they do two centers a day but only one is writing based. This way everyone has something to do the entire time we are in centers and I don't have to stress when working with small groups.

Everything goes home every day. When I create centers, I have the same focus sight words (or whatever we are working on) for every center. If we are working on the words "like, go, see, can, my" then all word work centers will have those words. That way they are getting good exposure every day.

Centers should provide multiple opportunities for students to read, write, and participate in meaningful learning experiences.  It is really important to me that my centers offer something unique.  Half of my centers are at tables while the other half are on the floor or mobile.  It's totally fine with me for kids to chose to work on their tummies on the floor with a clipboard.  I also think that when considering independence, it’s always a good idea to offer some centers that are a constant all year.  I have several year round centers that my students love.  I differentiate them and they progressively get more difficult as the years goes on, but the objective and rules for completing the center remain the same. 

I change up the themes of my centers, but you will always find a Roll & WriteScavenger Hunt, Write the Room, Play Dough, and a Print& Punch center.  Here is an example of what one of my yearlong centers looks like. 

I truly believe that by creating these, I have created independence in my students. I increase the difficulty so no one gets a free pass but explaining centers isn't stressful and the expectations are already understood.  It really is good times. 

I start my year with strictly fine motor centers because so many kids need it.  It makes me sad that art has been taken out of so many kinder classrooms. Kids need more fine motor. I am very passionate about fine motor activities.  

Here is how I use this center:

You can find cool hole punches on Amazon, at Michaels & Hobby Lobby too. Kids love cool stuff.  Click the picture above or HERE to see more about this center. 

I also have a Scavenger Hunt FREEBIE that you can grab HERE

When creating and implementing centers, keep these things in mind:

Students should be able to complete the centers indepedently through collaborative study.

Centers should be actively engaging. 

Centers should provide more time for the teacher to work with small groups.

Expecations should be clear and modeled before implementing centers. 

Student growth is the ultimate goal. 

There are endless ways to create meaningful centers. You have to do what is best for your students. I could really write a dozen posts on just centers but ain't nobody got time for that today. Ha! Make sure you check out my friends amazing posts on centers by clicking the pictures below. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Fertility: A Current State of Mind

Oh, sweet fertility.  You are not a friend of mine. Ha! I told you I planned on blogging more about my life so here's what's on my mind. 

If you want to read more about my fertility past, you can read here and here

Fast forward....I've been taking clomid for the last two months. I actually just finished my third round yesterday. I'm taking the 150mg dose.  Basically my doctor told me that you can really only take it for six months so I have four more chances before going to greater extremes. No pressure or anything. Ugh.  My husband has been so sweet and supportive (even though I may have been a tad hormonal during my last cycle, ehem). 

So, I have been using the Kindra app and charting my temp and symptoms. I also invested in the fancy and not so fancy ovulation tests.  For the last two months, my temperature has shown me when I was going to ovulate and then the tests confirmed.  We've been doing our part every day (winky face..TMI?) but it's been a no go the last two months.  Sigh.  I called my doctor after I started last week because I was a little frustrated.  I asked to go ahead and have the dye test.  I have put it off for a long time because I heard it hurts bad but at this point, I don't care.  This whole trying to make a baby thing is exhausting. Ha!  

I'm really in a good place despite the disappointment.  It's been two years since my miscarriage and I am finally ready to go at this for real BUT  I will not let this consume me. It's so easy to let this journey suck you in and steal your joy.  It's so easy to let it consume every amount of energy while destroying the positives in your life.  I've seen marriages really struggle because woman cannot handle what feels like the greatest rejection of all time.  I get it.  It sucks. But, that man was your first love and he needs to always know that. 

On the plus side, adoption is beautiful and I LOVE my children.  I really think that if everyone was able to have their perfect children in their perfect timing, we would have more orphans than the world could hold.  I'm sure if Nick and I would have gotten pregnant when we started trying 13 years ago, we wouldn't have been led to become foster parents and later adopt.  I do believe that sometimes the infertility plan may seem cruel, it is so necessary to force us into the calling of being mothers to the motherless.  I'm not so sure I would have heard that call so loudly if I had a baby in my arms.  I'm so grateful that God's plan was perfect for our family and he chose this season of waiting for us because it gave us three children that could have only been born from our hearts. 

I guess since my oldest is graduating from high school next year, I am really struggling because I feel like I haven't had enough time with her.  Really, all three of my kids will be in high school. I can't say that out loud yet. Seriously, I will be the biggest hot mess the first day of school come August.  That is one of the most difficult things about adoption for me...losing time, but that's for another post on another day.

It will also be so weird entering this next season in our life.  I would never imagined being 34 with three kids in high school and trying to have a baby.  Insane right?  My mom asked me not too long ago if this is what I really want but Nick and I both agree that this is where our hearts are.  I told her, "Mom, I'm only 34." Ha. My friends are all pregnant right now.  For once, I will not be ten years ahead of the game. I was the first to get married, first to become a mom, first to buy a house and then a second house...and on and on and on. (Though I do think it is funny that my daughter babysits my best friends children.) 

Soon after Nick and I got married, someone at church gave us a word from God about a promise for a baby.  I have stood on that promise for MANY years.  Just when Nick and I were about to take matters into our own hands, I got pregnant.  Though we lost the baby, I do feel that was God reminding us that he's got us in the palm of his hand and our promise is in his plan.  

So, again.  Sharing but not consumed.  Hopeful but not doubtful.  Frustrated but always believing. I'm not empty, nor broken.  Living without feeling lost.  Finding joy in all things.  Not letting what should have been or what can be dictate what is.  

You see, we really have NO control over anything. The only control we have is whether or not we let life's circumstances steal our joy. 

I chose JOY

If that's tough for you today, know that JOY comes in the morning. 

Sending love and virtual hugs!

**If you think about it, please say a little prayer for me tomorrow morning as I go for the hysterosalpingogram test.  Apparently a catheter is put through the cervix into the uterus to inject the dye which should go through your fallopian tubes while you are awake and experiencing all of it. Sounds like loads of fun, huh?! There may be no joy in this experience. Ha! I'm also praying that if there is some sort of blockage that the dye opens those bad boys up.