January 24, 2016


Over the years, my math block has grown considerably.  While I think this is a totally valid and necessary maneuver, it has made for a gigantic math stretch. This change, combined with our new-ish Common Core math program, is not all that conducive to long-term learning (IMO). Let's be honest here . . . my particular curriculum's lecture-style format and pixellated black and white graphics doesn't give kids the opportunity to really "experience" math.  And, it makes the math block feel like it's twice as long.  (((SIGH)))  With this said, I quickly adjusted my style after the curriculum adoption in an effort to combat this issue. I have always added various math elements and games to my daily line-up. However, I have had to get a bit crafty as of late when it comes to creating meaningful math instruction that is engaging, standards-based, and fun for kids.  

Now, I am not saying to toss out your curriculum.  Admin would TOSS US out on our ears.  However, I am saying that while we add our own spin the the "Kool-Aide" that we must drink, tossing in some fun supplemental activities can be just the ticket to breaking up our math blocks.  I know what you are thinking, "Come on, Dolling.  We already do this in our small group math rotations."  I love me small groups and we do this too.  But, wait . . . that's not my topic today. Have you thought about a DAILY whole class game as well? I'm talking a quick in and out activity that creates a healthy buzz in the room, while tackling a related standard.  There is just something about a whole group ditty that generates a whole new level of excitement and learning.

On that note, I can't have you listen to me preach about this topic and not give you a couple of things to try!  Below I have outlined three kid-tested games that absolutely delighted my first grade crews.  All of the activities are low-prep, require less than 15 minutes of your day, and generate oodles of giggles.  

This one came to me the other day as I was trying figure out ways to squeak in more skip counting activites. I also love me a good team game . . . nothin' gets me grinnin' like seeing kids working together.  Needless to say, this is how COUNTING RACES came to be.

**Before I begin, this game can be used for COUNTLESS activities - counting on from any number, fact families, same sum, greater than/less than, alphabet, word families, etc. (I am going to explain this in skip counting terms, but you will get the idea and can morph it into whatever standard you wish to target.)**

All you need is some adding machine tape, markers, some tape, and a little frontloading.  Decide how many teams you want (I used groups of 3-4). However, this game can be played in pairs or in two large teams.  Next, come up with a standards-based task and cut lengths of adding machine tape that are conducive to the objective (each team will need one strip).  Be sure to target the teamwork aspect before you launch into the game.  A little "working together" and good sportsmanship talk was all my crew needed to have a flawless experience with this one.  

Once your kiddos have been placed into teams, tape one of the strips of adding machine tape to your floor in front of each group.  Have the kids determine an "order" and give Teammate One a marker.  On your signal, call out a counting task (skip count by 10s, skip count backward by 5s, start counting from the number 86, etc).  Teammate One writes the first number in the series and passes the pen.  Teammate Two writes the next number in the series.  Play continues until all the teams have finished the counting task!  

Have tape leftover?  Don't waste it!!!  Play again.  Have your kids draw a line and give them a new counting task.  (See the photo above . . . tens and then fives, baby!)

This was one of the best ideas I have pulled out of my bum in a while.  The kids beg to play and it comes out about once a week in the afternoon when I notice they need a little break. Little do they know that their perceived "break" is jam-packed with learning and team building.  {{{{FIST PUMP}}}}

Raise your hand if you have heard of Kim Sutton?  She is the math mastermind behind the company Creative Mathematics.  Her ideas are nothing short of genius and they always make for a wonderful transition into, out of, or during your math block!  

Kim's math books are absolutely wonderful . . . Drills that Thrill, Place Value with Pizzaz, and Dazzling Dominoes are just a few of my favorites.  They offer up so many amazing supplemental opportunities that never disappoint both students and teachers.  However, she also offers up lots of fun FREE games on her site that are so worth grabbing.  

Case in point . . . DOUBLE THE SNOWFLAKES.  This game is a new freebie on her Web site.  It's brilliant and my babes were absolutely beside themselves yesterday as we played this one.  You know you have a winner when you hear at least three children spout out, "Mrs. Dolling, I LOOOOOVE this game!"

I chose to play this one whole class as a transition out of our daily word problem warm up.  It proved to be just the ticket before jumping into the introduction of a new standard.  I modeled it under the document camera and we were good to go.  The kids enjoyed the "bumping" element the most (you know, that moment when a player gets an answer that is already covered and they boot their friend off of the board.) My darlin' cuties were such good sports and the giggles were absolutely contagious. (Love the corner photo showcasing the emotions involved with a "bump." Don't worry . . . the little one in front got her back . . . hehehehe.)  

The thing I loved most about this game is that it worked on basic fact fluency to 12 and DOUBLES!  Yep. The kids roll the dice, add them, and then DOUBLE IT! This hits two birds with one LARGE stone when it comes to first grade. We definitely will be playing this one off and on throughout winter as it delights students and helps kiddos make connections with those addition facts.  

BUT WAIT . . . is addition too easy for you?  This free game can be used for multiplication too.  I told you it was worth a look-see :) CLICK HERE to read all about this fun freebie from Kim Sutton's Creative Mathematics. **Fill out the form . . . it's so worth it for the goods you have access too.  I promise she won't spam you with oodles of dumb emails :)*** 

Santa was kind enough to bless me with a bingo set last year.  Let's just say that "Santa" was a retired teacher in a previous life ;)  Anyway, I finally pulled it out this year.  When I was thinking about tossing it into the mix, I didn't want to just play bingo with my firsties (although it is a great number recognition ditty). So, I thought outside of the box and decided to pose questions about the numbers I called instead of giving them outright.  For example, I would ask . . . "Put your finger on the O column.  Find a number with 6 tens and 2 ones."  Or, I would ask, "Find a number in the I row that has a 4 in the tens column and the sum of its digits is 6." In the B row, I had to break away from PV and I would ask addition questions.  It would go a little somethin' like this, "When you add 6 and 4, this number is the sum."

After calling out the question, you can easily see who "gets" what you are dishing. It's a super informal assessment for sure :)  When we play, I give them a few minutes to process before writing it on a white board under our doc cam. This gave those kids who are still struggling with number sense the opportunity to locate the number.  

Let's just say that this one was an absolute winner and they beg to play it.  It is perfect for those LONG rainy days where they have been trapped inside for the bulk of the day.  The best part is that you only need a bingo game and some chips to play. #easypeasy

Alright, there you have it. A couple fun standards-based games that work oh so well when it comes to breaking up that math block . . . especially in a whole class setting.  Give one of these a try this week or pull out one of your beloved math games and give it a go whole group. The vibe is awesome :) 

Interested in more of math ideas?  CLICK HERE to check out more out of the box ideas from little ol' me :)
Thanks for popping in for a little visit today.  I will be back soon with a little somethin' - somethin' :)

January 3, 2016


There is nothing like that terrifying moment when you come to the realization that the student growth that you have come to expect just isn't happening. Have you been here?  I have had moments in my career when the growth wasn't present for a handful, but I haven't faced such a scary disparity as I did last year. The picture below shows writing over the years during the end of the first and start of the second trimesters.  The obvious "problem" picture at the top was from December of last year . . . and I didn't search for the cruddiest picture to prove my point either. This was one of the better products as all of my writing assignments looked like this or even worse - GULP! Needless to say, it was absolutely evident that something had to be fixed immediately.  

When such a problem occurs it is so important to break free of the emotional side of it - questioning your favorite teaching practices and ideas or doubting your abilities as an educator is absolutely TOXIC. This will break your heart, dull your spark, and drive you mad in the process.  Even the most experienced teacher can get down in the dumps and slip into the negative self talk. We just can't help ourselves sometimes . . . I think it's our caring side that can get the best of us from time to time.  I'll be honest.  I got here and dwelled in the pit for a week or two last December before realizing that I had forgotten my own rule of thumb -- You can't take it personally.

Now, before I get into my "fix it" process and overall methods, let me quickly give you the backstory on this one. {I promise to make it quick . . . if you know me, you know I can be a real talker.}  

Last year I was dealt a tough hand in the class department.  My crew was pretty darn cute, but the majority of them were well below benchmark in ALL subject areas (we're talking like 65% of the kids in my class . . . HEAVEN HELP ME). They were especially struggling in the writing department. The littles just weren't growing as I had hoped and/or expected. My tried and true writing routine just wasn't cutting it (we were SO behind when comparing our work to previous years). I had to quickly figure out how to "shift the sails" in an effort to catch some sort of sentence drafting momentum as January is that make or break month . . . especially in first grade.   

So, how did I fix it you ask?  Well, after breaking for the holidays last year, I was able to rid myself of the negative self chatter and look at the situation logically. The lack of growth wasn't due to my perceived "crappy ideas." This crew simply needed something different. Different is okay .  . . you just have to make an adjustment. 

When attempting to make "adjustments," I suggest sitting down in a cozy atmosphere with a notebook. Think about the true source of the classroom or academic problem and list all of the different ideas that pop into your head. Some will be too difficult, while others will prove to be not quite enough. However, one idea will most likely be just about right.  Oh, and spitballing with a co-worker in a similar situation can also be a HUGE help. You know what they say about that whole TWO HEADS thing :) 

Now, when it came to tackling my own writing problem, I used two of these tactics. A few ideas were sketched out in a notebook after chatting with my 1st grade teammate. I quickly realized that we didn't have a ton of extra time to devote to writing.  Therefore, I needed a QUICK daily ditty that added some additional MEANINGFUL practice.  

This is when the idea of Sentence Writing Warm-Ups popped into my head (a derivative of an idea on my list).  What is this packet about?  Well, it is a LEVELIZED set of sentence writing pages that are low-prep, target individual needs, and can fit into a VERY small time slot.  

We began implementing these immediately - the first Monday back in the saddle after Christmas Break. (Just think . . . that's exactly one year ago tomorrow!) After a few days of direct instruction, from this day forth, the kiddos completed a LEVELIZED (yep, there is that key word again) SENTENCE WRITING WARM-UP as their morning job. They had about 10 minutes to get their sheet completed before our awesome SIPPS assistant walked in and we had to jump start morning groups. Depending on their ability level, students would just copy a decodable sentence (beginning set), add details to a basic sentence (emerging set), or use a word bank to draft their own sentence (developing set). 

**Someone asked me how I implemented this new tactic after I walked away from this monster post.  Let me back up and insert this here as I didn't even think to include it -- When I introduced this new writing idea, I went slowly and HELD their hands by explicitly teaching how these should be completed. I strongly suggest doing this when you implement any new strategy to improve growth.  I DID NOT teach this whole class or give it the first thing in the morning right off the bat. That would have been a nightmare as these pages target different needs. Instead, I taught these levelized sheets in small groups.  Sure, I had to give up some priceless teacher reading rotation time, but fixing the writing "slump" was more important in my eyes. It only took about half of the group time too.  The first day, I showed them a sample and helped them come up with ideas by suggesting situations.  I pushed quality work, handwriting, and punctuation.  I also helped them understand the early finish component of these pages as all of the levels have one.  They are to complete it if I haven't called time . . . it's not a choice.  So, if I had to sum up that first day of instruction, I would say it was all about modeling, modeling, modeling.  

The second day, I let go a bit more and had them come up with the ideas with little coaxing.  They knocked it out of the park.  By the third day, these pages were transitioned into morning work for all of the groups.  I posted samples of each on the big screen and let them fly. Only one or two needed a little extra support at the pages were designed to be right on level.  Now, if my students wouldn't have been ready, I would have kept it in small groups for another day or two.    

I believe the above is good practice for all intervention strategies. When growth isn't happening, small group and individualized instruction is ALWAYS BETTER. One of my favorite quotes I have picked up over the years is . . . Go slow to go fast later.** 

When I started, all but 4 of my sweet kiddos started out on the ground floor (copying sentences).  By the end of the year, all but 4 kids were using the word bank! In 5 months, we were able to use these to help teach our kids how to draft a detailed sentence and finally build upon it during our writing block. Practice really does make perfect. 

When I moved to my new school, I kept creating monthly packs and decided to bring it over with me.  I started this with my babes in mid-September as they didn't receive a lot of sentence writing work in Kinder. I wasn't sure how it would turn out, but these ditties worked like a charm with these kids too.  And, it produced results SO MUCH FASTER. Alas, a positive verdict is in . . . after a full year of use with two different crews . . . these classroom tested and kid approved warm-ups will forever be in my teaching arsenal.  To learn more about this particular writing strategy, click here.

Alright, DOLLING!!!!  Enough yammering on about my beloved creation, I have three final soapbox thoughts before I exit today. These are for all you amazing teachers out there who recently jumped into the "game" and/or seasoned educators who might be stuck in that dreaded emotional response. 

First, if this idea wouldn't have played out, I wasn't afraid to re-evaluate it and make some changes . . . or even scrap the whole dang thing. That's the funny thing about teaching. What works for some groups, doesn't work for others. And, what may work for awhile with your students, might not work a few short months later.  With all this said, my thought here is to not lock yourself into ideas.  Let 'em morph with your crowd.  

Second, DO NOT trash those old ideas. A new crew will walk in the next year and those awesome tried and true activities will fall right back into place. You know when you have a "winner" . . . just safely pocket it until the next year.

Finally, don't be afraid to fail. As we all know, teaching is all about trying new things. You'll win some and you'll lose some. We just have to let go of the dock and catch that "wind" that are kids are creating.

There you have it. A LONG as all GET OUT post (with way too many capitals and ellipses) that outlines my thoughts on what to do when the growth you are seeing just ain't what it used to be.  

Thanks so much for taking the time to visit me today.  I'll be back again soon with a little math share :)

January 2, 2016


With 2016 already off and runnin', it seems only fitting to take a little walk down memory lane and celebrate all 2015 had to offer.  As I sit back and examine all of my reflections, it is clear to see that it was indeed a great one. But, then again . . . aren't they all?  (Yes, I am feeling a bit mushy and thankful for each and every day at the moment.)  

On that note, here's a little peek at those meaningful moments from 2015 and a handful of other random thoughts.  This post is probably much more for me than for you, but there could be a few fun tidbits about me that you didn't know as well as an idea or two that you could run with (look toward the end of this post for these).  So, without blabbering on for a moment more, here are my 2015 Reflections . . . 

When do you get the opportunity to job share for a year with one of your best friends on the planet?  I learned so much from my friend during our 2014-2015 run. And, I must admit, that not a day goes by this year that I don't wish we were still at it . . . TOGETHER.  

You're one in a million, Court.

Thanks to a a whole lot of support from Rachelle Smith and Erica Bohrer, I jumped into the Whole 30 Challenge for my first time last January.  I wanted to quit after about 36 hours, but I managed to get over the "hump" and stick with it.  This was the BEST decision that I made last year as my food habits carried throughout the whole year.  I have a tricky tummy that has been through four surgeries.  Being grain free, dairy free, corn free, bean free, and processed sugar free has proven to be an absolute LIFE SAVER.  If you have digestion issues or lack energy, I urge you to take the challenge.  It's difficult as all get out, but once you get all of the "gunk" out of your system, you will feel absolutely amazing. The honey and I start a strict round on 01/03/16.  

I had the opportunity to share oodles of my math ideas at two workshops this year.  My goal with each session was to provide as many game/activity ideas as possible in my 75 minute time slot.  I always get a kick out of meeting other teachers and sharing my "out of the box" ideas on ways to make math meaningful for the little guys.  These conferences also mean seeing scads of my favorite bloggy buddies.  

I will be attending both of these conferences again this year, so if you live in California and are interested in a jam-packed session with easy to implement STANDARDS-BASED math ideas, look me up.  If you saw me last year . . . I am dishing out brand new activities :)

  • PK1 Conference (01/18 in Santa Clara, CA) 
    • K-1st Grade Presentation
    • Session A04 - 75 Minutes
  • So Cal Kinder Conference (03/04 in Pasadena, CA) 
    • 1st Grade Pre-Conference Breakout Presentations
    • AM Session P06 - 3 hours
    • PM Session P12 - 3 Hours

I became a mom . . . twice.  Well, to fur babes that is :)  When our sweet stray cat lovin' neighbor passed away, we took in two of her kitties.  OK Kitty and Henry quickly became my special boys.  

Speaking of boys, I was lucky enough to land a very special visit for my school last year.  The Koo Koo Kangaroo Boys came and put on a show for our campus. The kids were beside themselves . . . and let's face it . . . I was too.  

Many tears and sleepless nights in the spring led me to a huge decision. Yep. I decided to leave my elementary school. After nearly a decade of service on this campus, I opted for a school a bit closer to home with a different feel.  This was one of the most difficult choices in my life, but it proved to be right on point. Not a day goes by that I don't miss my old school -- the way that it used to function and the amazing people who helped make it tick.  However, I couldn't be happier at my new "home away from home."

My last "look back" before I drove away.

The people are a GIGANTIC part of what made my last school so amazing.  We had a final celebration that last day together in June.  Nothing like going on a Pub Crawl with all of your co-workers. We even had oodles of door prizes that you would ONLY understand if you worked at the school. It was a night filled with laughs and shenanigans. If your campus doesn't have an end of the year celebration, I strongly urge you to plan one.  It doesn't have to be over the top or wild like a crawl . . . just a little get together to celebrate each other and a job well done :) 
My girls . . . sigh.
I miss them so much.
A new school means a new classroom.  OMGOSH, people.  I was in there nearly every day this summer making the room mine.  From paint and furniture to organizing and planning, I labored to make Room 18 a special place for students and for me.
I might be a messy painter. 
OMGOSH . . . so much valuable crap. 
It was so worth the the hours and hours of work.
I heart how Room 18 turned out.
How many of you attended the TPT Conference last year?  It was a doozie for sure . . . so many good ideas were shared and amazing relationships were fostered during this awesome Vegas run.  The 2016 Conference is already in the planning stages and it's going to be in Florida this year.  If you haven't been before, let me say that it is WELL WORTH your time.  The networking and ideas shared are worth their weight in gold.

My marketing presentation panel.
These people have such AMAZING ideas!
My partners in crime - Susan Jones & Melissa Kozerski
Blogger Meet Up Planners
Blog Hoppin' Crew 
My favorite moment . . . chatting it up with the CEO :)
We share a random NorCal connection.

The week before school started, I lost my beloved cat.  Lou was just shy of turning 12.  She was crabby as all get out, but we had an understanding that it was always on "her terms."  In those 11.75 years together she saw me through 3 less than stellar boyfriends, 4 moves, a career change, and a wonderful marriage.  Thanks for the memories sweet girl . . . you will forever be my office mascot.  


NO ONE told me that switching schools was going to be like my first year teaching.  GOOD HEAVENS, people!  Have any of your changed schools and felt a similar chaos?  The learning curve is massive as the kids come in at such different places and the systems are oh so different.  Again, I am not complaining and I am so happy with my move, but I am working my bum off to keep up this year.  

That one time during the first week at my new school . . .
when I went back to work for two hours after dinner.
In my PJs no less :)
Notes for days during that first month.
Writing is hands down my FAVORITE subject to teach. For those of you that don't know, I majored in journalism/public relations and worked in the field for 5 years before realizing that teaching was my true calling.  However, this love of writing has stayed with me over the years.  Teaching my students to enjoy the process has become one of my major goals ever year.  With this said, I poured my heart and soul into a two-part post about teaching writing to primary kiddos.  Click on the button below to read this 2015 fave.

My favorite creation last year was Alphabet Moves.  I teamed up with my father (Ron Brown of Intelli-Tunes) to generate a professionally recorded song-based packet that takes letter sound practice to a whole new level. It's perfect for TK, Kinder, and the beginning of 1st.  

What is this all about, you ask?  Well, each letter of the alphabet gets a short little tune (like 1.30-1:45).  The kids listen for words that contain the correct letter sound and complete the appropriate movement. Oh, and you don't have to come up with the movement or tell your babes how it works.  As each song begins, the movements are given orally to the students.  Once the voice finishes and the music starts, kiddos turn on their listening ears and start moving. It looks like this . . . 


Wanna take a sample of this with you today?  Click on the image below to try one of the tunes out with your crew.  

As I take my first few steps into the New Year, it seems fitting to reflect a bit on where I am going.  I have been a bit quiet as of late.  It sounds crazy but, I haven't felt like I have had much to say. {If you know me or have met me, you know that I am loud and can talk your ear off.} My goal as we get rolling this year is to find that voice again and fall into a manageable schedule that allows me to find balance between my "first job," the blog world, and my home life. 

In addition to sorting out life balance, I will be making some rather large decisions this year.  From a pending spring surgery (Endometriosis SUCKS - this will be my 5th date with the knife) and work choices that align to my stupid health issues to decisions about IVF and whether to pursue motherhood, there is a lot in the cards in 2016. Who knew my 36th chapter would be slated to be so climactic?  All I have to say is, BRING IT. I so am ready to start this adventure. 


Be sure you hop on over and check out the linky party or maybe even join in the fun with a post of your own.  Thanks for taking the time to visit me.  I will be back again tomorrow with some goodies for our first week back.  Big hugs and Merry 2016 to you.  

December 13, 2015


I know I always seem to start off a post exclaiming that time has flown by. Well, today isn't any different except that these past two weeks were extra zippy. Seriously folks. I looked up and we were already rollin' into ANOTHER Friday. I love those kind of weeks. It usually means it was a grand run . . . and it certainly was for the sweet bunch in Room 18 ;)  

On that typical "Dolling" introduction, here is a little look-see at a few of the fun things we found ourselves wrapped up in . . . 

There is just something about the Gingerbread Man in December.  He always seems to kick off the holiday just right in my classroom.  It's a way to ease into the holidays without "pegging" the Christmas excitement too much too soon :)  

We read oodles of stories, wrote our hearts out, completed a little GB science and found ourselves mixed up in tons of other related activities. The kids were in their element . . . and let's face it . . . I was too :)

We just had to make Fact Family Gingerbread Houses!
The activities in Amanda Richardson's GB Pack were flawless!
A little GB Man Science?  Um . . . yes please!
Thanks Always Kindergarten.  This was a huge HIT :)
Gotta love this oldie, but such a goodie.
We made our GB Adjective Cookies
They absolutely nailed those describing words.
A little GB Man taste test was in order too.
I always use this amazing FREEBIE from Teaching with Love & Laughter.

We kicked off our Holidays Around the World Studies with Hanukkah during that first week of December.  My students were all smiles and loved everything I dished their way. In true Dolling form, we cooked a "cheat" version of potato latkes and it took me roughly 15-20 long as all get out minutes to realize that I had the griddle on warm instead of 350 :P  #palmtoforehead

We hit up all of the European countries last week and the kids gobbled it up. Thanks to Rachelle from What the Teacher Wants and Lyndsey from A Year of Many Firsts, we had everything we needed to learn all about holiday celebrations in those beloved countries.  

We also have been slippin' in a little integrated math too.  I whipped up a Draw & Solve packet that goes along with celebrations around the world.  It's filled with facts and rigorous word problems.  The kids are loving them!  

If you are doing Holidays Around the World, be sure to check out YouTube for Rick Steve's Christmas in Europe videos.  Be sure you preview them first as some of them talk about wine and/or are heavy on the church side of things which can get sticky in public school. However, I ended up using most of them as I decided I would respond to any heat with a, "We are simply learning about traditions." France and England are particularly wonderful . . . the Paris shots make me tear up a little.  Sigh . . . such a sap over here.  Just type Rick Steve's Christmas into the search bar and most of them should come up :)

Next week we will be transitioning out of Europe.  We are rolling into Russia, Mexico, and Australia before heading back home to our beloved USA. I cannot wait to show them what I have up my sleeve . . . 

I absolutely adore this class.
So, I am pulling out all of the stops this year!

Here's a quick little picture walk of a few other holiday-flavored activities that we tackled last week or that are "penned" into next week's lineup.  

My Sweet Story will hit on Friday during fun holiday rotations.
This kids always love making silly stories and droppin' that peppermint.
Check this freebie out HERE.
Speaking of peppermints . . .
We learned about Compound Words last week!
This CP Word Craft is on the ticket for Monday.
The kids are going to flip :)
These Christmas Sunnies will be all the rage come Wednesday.
It's the perfect addition to our Australia holiday studies.
We made /ch/ word chains . . . they LOVED it :)
I loved it too - low prep is awesome!

In an attempt to totally immerse myself in the Christmas Spirit (and possibly give myself a heart attack in the process), I decided to co-plan our school's Holiday party.  Here's the quick backstory on this one.  I was sitting with one of my teaching besties and asked if our campus hosted a party (if you follow me, you know that this is my first year at this school).  Well, I'm sure you can guess the answer to this one, but just in case you didn't figure it out yet . . . I heard her utter, "Um, they haven't had one in years!!" Our eyes immediately locked and you could read what the other was thinking.  You've got it . . . we subconsciously yelled, "LET'S GET ONE GOING AGAIN!"  

We are so dorking out on this thing.  From room flow, invites, and background mixes to poster-sized welcome signs and cute table decor, we are in full on party planning mode. The budget is next to nothing, but we managed to get a jazz band for the first hour, a photo booth, and the venue donated . . . HOLLA! It's going to be a swell shindig and it just feels good giving back this season.

Yep . . . we have officially jumped all in on this one.  
PicMonkey helped with the invites and the awesome Welcome Sign!
I have been working on my music mix for days . . . 
U gotta know your crowd and set the mood :)

Although I catch myself getting a bit worked up now and again when I am not working round the clock, I have given myself permission to sit back and enjoy the little things this December.  My health has taken a turn and I am struggling to keep up . . . cue sad face #endometriosissucks.  I'll be honest here . . . it is VERY difficult for me to let go (as I know it is for so many teachers out there). However, backing off is a necessity from time to time and the holiday season is a great time to let down a bit.  

With this said . . . the blog and the TPT shop has gone a bit dark as of late. Instead of working on new ideas, I put up two trees last week. We took the time to hang lights and we bought our very first wreath (cue to horns).  The Christmas carols have been on repeat round our place . . . I am all about Perry Como, The Rat Pack, good ol' Bing, and the Carpenters. Oh, and the hubby and I also go on driving dates at night. We pack the dog into the truck, grab a cup of tea or hot chocolate, turn the seat warmers on high, and drive around looking at all of the holiday lights around town . . . it's pretty magical :) What are you doing to enjoy the season?  

On that note, I am off to prep a little for school, work on door prizes for our party, and wrap some Christmas gifts. Those trees need something under them and I can't find any more good hiding places for the packages that have been coming in the mail :)

Sending oddles of Holiday Cheer your way! Wishing you a great run at school this next week. Big hugs to you :)


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