Monday, April 14, 2014

What About "UN- Common" Kids?

Hi friends....I bring something new... and perhaps a bit controversial today. It's a subject that has tugged at my heart for many months. You may know that I resigned from my teaching position last year. After 10 years, I had just HAD ENOUGH! I knew that what I was required to do with my kinders wasn't developmentally appropriate. I knew my entire purpose (in the school district's eyes) was to set those children up for a high-stakes test come 3rd grade. I became heart-broken that good, creative teaching was being replaced with test prep -- yes even in kinder! I could no longer live with myself being apart of what I saw as the problem. The final straw was when we were told to remove all developmental centers from kinder....we didn't have time for that anymore (a sentiment I hear constantly from teachers across the U.S.) :(

I now homeschool all my children. I simply refused to have my children endure the high-stakes mentality any longer. I remember my own children coming home with tons of homework and they were never happy or excited about anything that was taught.... My own kids knew their curriculum and called it by name C-SCOPE...YUCK!!!! To my children, going to school was akin to medieval torture -- either WAY too hard (for my strugglers....they always felt as though they were drowning) or WAY to easy (for my high achievers....always bored). I want my children to learn....and love it!! I want them to discover new things and investigate things that are important to them. I want my children to become well-rounded individuals. So now I'm on a new journey of I never in a million years thought I'd take. After all, I was a public school teacher. I intended to retire from the career I once loved so much. Even at the end....I loved teaching (yes, at the end, I pretty much closed my door and taught how I knew to be best)... Imagine that! A teacher knowing how and what to teach. But, I knew I couldn't continue that way. Now, I am teacher to 6 students.... :)....and yes, by the way, I am loving it!

The following is a letter written by a friend....a parent to her child's school district. I was incredibly touched by this letter and cried a bucket of tears while reading simply is a MUST-READ for teachers and parents alike. For those of you who are old enough (like me) to remember a day before high-stakes testing, it will conjure up feelings of why you became a teacher. Surely it wasn't to make sure the kids did well on a high-stakes test that really has no bearing on their lives after school. Yes, we all want the best for our children and our students. But, what you are doing in your class right now, the "best"? Are you allowed to use your expertise?Do you work in a school where you would be proud and confident to send your own child? I pray the answer is yes.....but, if it is long will that last? For many teachers today are working in schools with their hands tied, participating in practices they know to be developmentally inappropriate, forced into compliance by the powers that be......... Isn't it time that teachers AND parents speak out? Isn't it time that teachers AND parents demand better for our nation's future?

Take 15 minutes to read......really read this letter. You will be glad you did.....

April 8, 2014 To: All District 31, NYS CCC Re: My son, 8 years old, 3rd grade Hello, I am so sorry I missed your call yesterday. I understand that you both have some serious concerns regarding the message, retold to you by my son, about his homework requirements, and how they relate to the decision made by me, to refuse him taking the CCLS state tests, and whether or not he was accurate in relaying my message. You also notified me that you "knew what kind of parent I am", and that "surely I think he needs to continue his work, to continue to progress nicely so he can meet Common Core standards, and how important it must be to me that my son does well." Let me begin by saying, I am quite impressed with my sons capability to relay my message to you pretty accurately. When he asked if that's what he can tell his teachers, I advised him to yes, stand up for yourself, as long as it is done quietly and respectfully. However, I did not tell him he didn't have to do any more homework because he is not taking NYS CCLS exams. I did advise him however, that we will no longer be tortured every single night, to complete pages in books that state their purpose is to be a review program for the Common Core Learning Standards for Mathematics or ELA tests. But other than that, he nailed his answer to your question right on the head. These books are filled with practice tests, each practice test had 69 Math questions, (61 multiple choice, 5 short response and 3 extended response questions), stating that going forward the teacher will explain how you will do the practice tests, and they will record your answers. Making sure to fill in bubbles completely in the process. Also, throughout the book, their are little testing tips for answering questions. My reasoning is... Let's return to the homework matter in a bit. On January 13, 2014, I sent in letters to the school administration, and his teachers, alerting the school of my intention to exercise my parental rights regarding this matter. Just to be clear, District 31, does not have my permission to administer any state or district mandated standardized benchmark assessments to my child, Grade 3. It is my understanding that in place of these, my sons progress will be assessed using a portfolio, a gathering of all of his teacher directed tests, writings, reading levels, etc. for him to be evaluated on. And, no, my child cannot be held back, based solely on the fact he refuses state tests, unless he is taking regents exams. Also, District 31 does not have my permission to administer to my son: •Any surveys, or “field tests” given by corporate or government entities or testing companies. •Any progress- monitoring or RTI assessments such as Aimsweb •Any exam used to formulate an evaluation or score for our children’s teachers or their school. •Any state assessment •Any so-called “benchmark” exams, whether they are teacher-designed or not, since these exams are imposed by entities other than the individual teacher. I trust the teacher, not the entities. •Pre-assessments connected to “Student Learning Objectives”. Citing the law of this country, remember when we used to learn about laws?..."Federal law states that parents possess the “fundamental right” to “direct the upbringing and education of their children.” Furthermore, the Court declared that “the child is not the mere creature of the State: those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right coupled with the high duty to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.” In recognition of both the right and responsibility of parents to control their children’s education, the Court has stated, “It is cardinal with us that the custody, care and nurture of the child reside first in the parents, whose primary function and freedom include preparation for the obligations the State can neither supply nor hinder.” Now, the changes brought upon public education by the Common Core Standards, that's a whole different story. The people who made these decisions claim that the goal of the Common Core is to ensure that all children are college/career ready. It's a nice sentiment. On some level, I get it. Even the playing field and teach the same core standards to kids across the board to narrow the gap. It makes sense on paper. But in practice? Not so much. So far, the Common Core appears to be putting fear into dedicated teachers -- they, the very people who care about, teach, and protect our children. I happen to know a lot of teachers. These are people who used to stay up entirely too late each night planning fun and engaging lessons for the following day. These are people who hide first grade students in cabinets and sing them songs to keep them calm while a shooter wreaks havoc on their school. Sadly, sometimes sacrificing their lives for the lives of their students, whom they feel a love and a deep responsibility for. Forget about all of that. Dedication and sacrifice mean nothing anymore in today's world. Today's teachers are being forced to follow a script. They "teach to tests" and fear job loss if they don't see the expected results. The result of this test giving, job loss fearing style of teaching is written all over the faces of the little kids caught in the transition. The people behind the Common Core might think that they are ensuring college/career readiness, but what they are really ensuring is a generation of anxious robotic children who can memorize answers but don't know how to think. Many teachers say pressure to prepare students for more rigorous Common Core tests means the youngest children are now required to do work that is wildly age-inappropriate. Examples include reading passages and questions that until now would be assigned to much older students, as well as confusing, overly difficult math problems. The tests and test prep, say parents and teachers, are crushing morale and self-confidence, while generating hatred of school. As far as my son goes, it is turning him off of school and if this trend continues, he will be far from college- and career-ready because he will want nothing to do with college. Is it wrong to say Common Core is ruining childhood? Hmmmmm... Increased stress: Yes, tests and quizzes are part of school, but the pressure to perform is very high right now. Stress trickles down. When teachers are under stress, kids internalize it. They really are smarter than we think. With this hyper-focus on the core areas of learning and the constant testing to ensure that the material is being memorized (I mean understood, of course), kids are constantly under pressure to perform. Add a trickle down stress factor to that and kids begin to fall apart. Anxiety disorders among children are already on the rise. But who cares if those statistics skyrocket, right? In a few years, Valium and Xanax will be the normal coping mechanism for a school day. Creativity is dead: Learning has always included textbooks and spelling tests at the elementary school level. That's part of the deal. But it used to be that kids were given the opportunity to tap into their creative brains. I wrote my first "hardcover" book in second grade. I still remember how confident I felt when my little story about a magical teddy bear who could fly, evolved into an actual book. Ahhh, those were the days. Busywork is the name of the game with the Common Core. Kids need to write and rewrite spelling words and sentences until their hands practically fall off, but if they do fall off, don't be absent. You are missing 4th grade level algebra. They need to correct sentences that they didn't write because they don't really have the time to come up with their own sentences. Homework includes work packets with more of the same. And don't forget to study for those practice tests! Forget about problem solving, group work, and thinking outside the box, these kids need to memorize the core curriculum first. It's as if creativity holds no merit. Are you familiar with Steve Jobs? There are people who do exactly what they have to do to get by, and there are people who work harder and end up changing the world. Don't we want to inspire kids to be thought leaders and world changers? Inadequate time to socialize: You know what's really taken a hit in recent years? Recess. Some schools don't have it at all. Recess is when kids truly practice social skills. They take turns. They negotiate. They initiate friendships. They learn to cope with disappointment. Sometimes they work together. Sometimes they don't. But either way, they learn to work it out. But not if they don't have recess. Not if they don't spend any free time with their peers. There's just not enough time in an instructional day, duh! Makes me wonder how in the world there is so much bullying, physical altercations, and school shootings occurring on a daily basis. I wonder??? Poor eating habits and insufficient exercise: You can't turn on the TV or open a magazine without hearing about obesity in America these days. It's a problem. And yet, a school lunch is often 15-20 minutes long, forcing kids to wolf down food before the bell rings. So much for listening to hunger cues and chatting with friends -- there is no time for that. TEST PREP COMES FIRST, PEOPLE! TEACH TO TEST!! And then there's PE. Some school districts have completely cut physical education due to budget issues. Where is all that money going? With little recess and no PE, kids are not getting enough exercise. Don't worry, you will get "adequate exercise" in high school, right? No time to decompress: Kids need downtime, experts stress. There is a lot of talk about over-scheduling and the stress that results from too much going and not enough resting. But kids today are faced with a lot of homework. There are third graders with 2-3 hours of homework each night, my child is an example. And that doesn't account for long-term projects. Even if you do manage to under-schedule your kids, many of them have to come right home (Other than Monday and Tuesday, mandated extended day ends at 3:40 P.M., and Wednesday, religious instruction ends at 5:00 P.M., and Thursday, my son needs tutoring because he cannot seem to grasp that knowing that 4x6=24 isn't enough anymore, without showing his work for it with graphs, charts, arrays, drawings, etc., paying for a great tutor with our savings but she's worth every penny, that ends at 5:00 P.M.), then he finally gets home, does his homework, study for a CC practice test, eat dinner, shower, and basically pass out at 9:30 p.m. What are we missing???? Ohhhh, family interaction! Where is the downtime in that scenario? Here are some facts: 1. When students, teachers and schools are rewarded for high test scores and punished for low ones, the tests themselves become the focus of education. Class time is devoted to test prep, which robs children of their natural desire to learn. 2. The state exams test only two subjects: English and math. That encourages schools to give less and less time to social studies, music, art, world languages, physical education, and even science. 3. High-stakes testing undermines important learning. In 2011, the National Academy of Sciences reviewed America’s test-based accountability systems and concluded, “There are little to no positive effects of these systems overall on student learning and educational progress.” 4. State exams are loaded with poorly written, ambiguous questions. A recent statement signed by 545 New York State Principals, noted that many teachers and principals could NOT agree on the correct answers.?.....?....?.... 5. While New York State is paying Pearson millions of dollars, it is massively underfunding NY public schools (lack of physical education is a prime example). This is part of a national trend: states cut funding to public schools while pouring millions into new computer systems designed for Common Core tests. 6. High-stakes tests don’t help students learn or teachers teach. The results come too late for that. The tests are largely punitive: they punish teachers, students, and schools that don’t perform. Low test scores can be used to hold good students back and rate strong teachers as “ineffective” despite high ratings by their principals. Really??? 7. High-stakes testing undermines teacher collaboration. Teachers are judged on a curve, which discourages them from helping students in another teacher’s class. 8. High-stakes testing encourages “teaching to the middle.” Educators are pressured to focus on the “2” and “3” students, where the most progress can be made on scores, and ignore the 4s (where gains aren’t measured) and 1s (whose needs are too great to raise scores easily). 9. Many middle school admissions offices are ignoring state tests. Many NYC principals signed a letter last year stating that they would no longer be considering test scores. Most schools already have practices in place for admitting students who don’t have scores. But this isn't what we are lead to believe. We are lied to, and informed that standardized tests score are mandatory to attend middle school! 10. One-size-fits-all tests punish and discourage students who are already vulnerable, including students of color, English-Language Learners, children with special needs, like my son who has an active IEP, and students from families living in poverty. Some examples of what we are allowing to happen: Spring 2014 Day 3 of the Common Core NYS ELA is absurd. The third grade test includes an excerpt from a book that, according to Scholastic, is written at a Grade Level Equivalent of 5.2. Its Lexile Measure is 650L, and it’s categorized as a Level X Guided Reading selection. Yet, it appears on a test that has been written for third grade students. Day 3 of the Common Core NYS ELA is incongruous with Common Core Learning Standards. The same third grade test asks students to identify how specific paragraphs support the organizational structure of a selected piece of literature. The Reading Standards for Literature in Grade 3, with respect to Craft and Structure, state that Grade 3 students should be able to: Refer to parts of stories, dramas, and poems when writing or speaking about a text, using terms such as chapter, scene, and stanza; describe how each successive part builds on earlier sections. It is not until Grade 5, according to The Reading Standards for Literature, that students should be able to: Explain how a series of chapters, scenes, or stanzas fits together to provide the overall structure of a particular story, drama, or poem. Why doesn't anyone ask the parents what homework time is like? Do you think it's like a 7 day trip to DisneyWorld weekly? Yea, no. Because of the fact that his teachers were never given the time or opportunity to LEARN how to TEACH this great new curriculum within an adequate timeframe, ahead of the fast paced rollout, teachers for the most part are learning WITH their students. In my home, my son comes home, ill equipped with enough knowledge from the days classwork, to completely understand that nights assignment, and is CLUELESS! Then come the hysterics, the self loathing, " I hate my life, I hate school, I'm dumb, I'm too stupid to do this" followed by the self inflicting joy of nightly banging his head down on the GLASS dining room table, followed by an understandable painful headache. This really helps move homework time along, I have to tell you. Is not crying while doing HW the new measure of success? Sitting for over 10 hours of testing without having stomach pains, vomiting, diarrhea, hysterics, and anxiety, is that our new success? Or do we want more? Do we want to see our kids classrooms filled with projects and fantasy. Finding the love of reading from fairy tales and fiction classics. Where social and emotional development is just as, or even more important as a test score. A classroom where our 8 year olds find a love of science that carries with them throughout life. Where social studies can take them right into the time period they are learning about. Where they are challenged rather than frustrated. We need to raise our expectations and need to ask ourselves "Does my child's classroom look the way I want it to look?" If not, what are we going to do about it? Because, god forbid we ask questions, or make decisions regarding homework based on a test my son IS NOT TAKING. Maybe, it's time to rethink the Common Core? Stress is dangerous and impacts physical and emotional health. It's no way to live, and it's NOT the way I will raise my child. Incidentally, can anyone tell me what kind of career requires people to spit out the answers to 20 math problems in two minutes or less? I think today’s system isn’t generating kids who are independent thinkers and ready to contribute to the world. I think we have to ask ourselves whether we want to create a generation of test-takers and resume-builders, or do we want problem-solvers and life-long learners and healthy young adults. There is a film called "Race to Nowhere” documenting how America’s schools have become test-obsessed, high-stakes pressure cookers. They’re churning out ill-prepared adults short on creativity and ethics, and stripping humanity from kids. Here's some more fun facts: 1.Standardized Testing takes away approximately 25% of our children's academic school year. 2.Standardized Testing gives teachers incentives and forces teachers to "teach to the test" instead of nurturing higher order thinking skills. 3.Standardized Testing teaches children that there is only one right answer in academics and in life. 4.Standardized Testing costs millions of dollars of taxpayer money to produce and thousands of dollars of our school district's money to implement. 5.Standardized Testing encourages our best teachers to seek other careers where their expertise is actually valued. So who is losing out? Our kids. 6.Standardized Testing is developmentally destructive for specific age groups. 7.Standardized Testing is creating corruption among schools where school districts are cheating on test scoring. 8.Standardized Testing is creating corruption among students where students are purposely scoring poorly to negatively affect teachers that they don’t like. 9.Standardized Testing gives teachers incentive to care more about their teacher evaluation than they do about children. Do you want your child in a classroom with a teacher who has this type of attitude???? 10.Standardized Testing uses our children as tools to evaluate school districts, schools, and teachers. Students do not even get a chance to learn from their mistakes. In fact, they never see the test after they take it. Now that makes sense!?!? I've seen firsthand my child go from loving learning to being worried, anxious and stressed about these tests. These tests...which have no real bearing on his future...these tests...which take up months of test prep time instead of teaching time...these tests...which are making corporations VERY rich and children VERY stressed...these tests...which are being used to grade teachers who got into teaching to make a difference, not make children miserable. Our children are spending way more time testing with no benefit to them. Do we want them to spend more time learning over testing, practice tests, and all the other assessments they endure. They've lost all time associated with projects and hands on learning. NYS standardized testing has become excessive and extraordinarily harmful to students, teachers, and our schools in general. It has changed the culture and climate of schools for the worse. When last year's grade 3-8 tests were realigned with Common Core, less than one-third of students earned passing scores. This year, they lowered the grade to pass. ????? I believe in our students, teachers, administrators, and my knowledge of my own child. I believe in standards. I believe in teacher based assessments. I believe strongly in public education. I do NOT believe that private companies, like Pearson, have the best interest of our children, our future leaders, in mind. $$$$$$$$$ I do NOT believe in high-stakes standardized testing. And, most importantly, I DO believe that the current implementation of high-stakes standardized testing will bankrupt and destroy public education. High-stakes testing already pollutes our classrooms. There are test prep, SLOs, and Common Core There are Contact Standards that are not developmentally appropriate, and set our children up to feel like failures from the start. High stakes testing is also expensive. It is a tremendous financial burden which will bankrupt the public school system. As our resources are directed towards these mandates, they are taken away from the arts and other non-mandated elements of our curriculum which negatively impacts our students’ ability to be truly college and career ready- or more simply said- their ability to be happy, healthy, and wise. I believe that we are at a crucial point in public education. I do NOT believe that we can hunker down, do our best, and wait for these “tough times” to pass. If we do not take a stand now, we may not have anything to stand for at all. Public education as we know it could disappear in the near future leaving us with a hierarchy of charter schools ranging from the “have-it-alls” to “never-had-a-chance”. I believe in and trust our highly qualified and dedicated teachers and administrators. I believe in the high quality of teaching and learning that occur in my child’s school. I hope my efforts will be understood in the context in which they are intended: to support the quality of instruction promoted by the school, and to advocate for what is best for all children. Our schools will not suffer when these tests are finally gone, they will flourish. I will continue to stand up against the corporate and government takeover of our schools and advocate for what is best for children, teachers and administrators. I will not stay silent and do nothing while these unjustly abusive mandates and policies are setting up our children and our schools for failure. I believe in and trust our highly qualified and dedicated teachers and administrators. I believe that my child's education should be trusted to those who are most experienced and who personally know the needs and individual requirements of each child. Teachers already know how to determine those needs and requirements without mandated standardized assessments. While I understand the district is legally required to administer these tests, I have determined that the present testing system is grossly excessive, poorly designed, punitive to students, teachers and our schools. I can no longer sit by and watch the corporate and government takeover of our schools. I believe in our dedicated and qualified teachers and administrators and need to advocate for what is best for my child. I want our teachers to be able to teach again. I want my child to be able to learn again, in all ways, I want the schools to be places children can grow and socialize in a calm and supportive environment. Having a child in third grade, I have knowledge of how much rigor children at such a young age are forced to endure. The CCSS are depriving my child of a meaningful education and deterring him away from developing a love for learning. The Common Core State Standards are designed for the common students where does that leave the student who is uncommon? By uncommon, I mean the student who it may take a while to learn and grasp the concepts of what is being taught, like my son or the student who has emotional difficulty adjusting, like my son, or the student who is disadvantaged and worried if he/she will have dinner on the table that evening. We live in a society filled with uncommon people. What defines the Common student? What traits does that common student hold? We live in a great nation where the common is not so common and teaching to standards that are geared toward the common student is setting our kids up for failure. As a parent, as a U.S. citizen, it is wonderful that I am able to coach my son to refuse these tests. And I will continue to do so, as long as there is a single breathe left in my body. Because, he is NOT common. Now, my reasoning is.....I will not torture my son for another twenty two more days, practicing and completing test prep assignments, trying to make him explain why and how he just knows 6x4=24, especially when correct answers aren't so important, for a test that he is not and should not be expected to be scholastically prepared for, putting him through three dates of testing, and anxiety, just so his teachers can be scored unfairly by his bogus score. In addition to his already low self esteem and nervousness suffering further. To be honest, the hypocrisy of receiving a call of such concern over homework not done, which never happens, because this homework is based on a test that I am refusing him to take, that you were all aware of, boggles my mind. Give him as much reading, writing, non CC based graded math, science, and social studies work as you see fit. And yes, you know what kind of parent I am, a pretty good one. And I do think he needs to continue his non-based Core Curriculum work, wanting him to progress nicely, not needing to meet Common Standards. And most importantly, as long as my son tries the best he can, and is on a normal/meeting grade level, he's a rock star in my eyes. Thank you so very much for your concern, DEDICATED AND INFORMED PARENT

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Farfaria Giveaway

If you are like me, you try to stay up-to-date on all the new educational apps for kids. It's a difficult job because there are so many amazing ones out there. There's so many to chose from, some great, some no-so great.

Farfaria contacted me about doing a review of the Farfaria app and I agreed. All opinions in this post are mine. So here goes:

Farfaria is an Ipad storybook app. There are over 600 stories - all fully interactive and 5 new stories are added each week. Can I say that is pretty incredible? I mean....I'm a good mom and we have a good size library for my little ones, but I certainly do not have 600 books in our library. So, right there....the fact that we have access to 600 storybooks at any given moment is wonderful. We don't even have to store them. They are already on my Ipad! Plus there's such a wide variety that my kinder kid through my 6th grader can find stories they love!

 Another great thing about Farfaria is each book is given a "level" which really helps kids choose books based on skill level. Children can choose books they can read independently. They can also read stories that are more difficult and use the "read to me" feature. The reader reads so naturally - no mono-tone, choppy reading. I also love how quickly you "turn the page" - perfect for teaching a young child how to turn pages like a real book.

I LOVE this app! I am totally sold on it! My little dinosaur lover was pleased that there were books he could read easily using his sight word knowledge and there are nonfiction books about dinosaurs, amphibians, insects, and more.

Look - he had so much fun! (ignore the painted fingernails... :) 
He had to try since mom and sister were :)

 Love the intense focus!

This app is a STEAL at $3.99 per month. I love to snuggle up next to Reagan for his goodnight story. He loves this time and he can be in charge of the story we read. In fact, another great thing I love about Farfaria is you can actually download the app and get a FREE story everyday without paying a dime!!! That's terrific!! But trust me you will love the app so much, you'll shell out the $3.99 to have unlimited access - totally worth it!

Check out some wonderful screenshots from this amazing app:

Check out the Farfaria app HERE!
Check out the Farfaria website for more info HERE!

Now here's the really fun part!! The Farfaria people are wonderful and are allowing me to have a giveaway so one of YOU can win a 6 month subscription to Farfaria for FREE!!! What teacher or mom wouldn't LOVE that?

Kelsey K won!!! Congrats!!

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Jamberry: Feeling Pretty! (Giveaway)

Hi friends!

Have you heard of Jamberry nails?

Well, if you are like me - I heard about Jamberry for months before I tried them. I heard people talk about them, but I figured they were expensive or something that took alot of time at the salon to get....I mean I'm a busy mom of 6  - #aintnobodygottimeforthat!

Fast forward to daughter Bailey (my 13 year old) was begging me to take her to the nail salon and get her acrylics. All her friends were getting them so of course she wanted them.... I refused! Not only were they ridiculously expensive, I remember almost tearing a few of my nails off once when I had acrylics taken off years ago.....geez the damage was crazy! So I was the #uncoolmom. Really??? Moms really let 13 year olds get acrylics? Whatever....

Anyways, a friend of mine was hosting a facebook party and so I learned a little about Jamberry and bought some for my daughter for Christmas. I figured we'd give them a try. They were a fairly cheap experiment - especially in comparison to salon prices.
What I didn't expect is that I would fall in love with Jamberry nails too! But I did!

I quickly became a Jamberry addict. With 350 designs there's more designs than I could possibly try (although now I try REALLY hard)... ;)

Here are some things I absolutely LOVE about Jamberry...and why I let my 13 year old daughter wear them too:

Seriously friends! 
Here's why I ♥ Jamberry:

**These nail wraps are super easy to put on AT HOME.....15 minutes tops!
**They cause ZERO damage.
**No Drying time - which means no messed up polish....because they aren't polish..... literally vinyl stickers that are heat-activated and seal to your nails.
**They last as long as acrylics (2 weeks) on fingers....even longer on toes.
**CHEAP - $5 or less per manicure/pedicure.....(when's the last time you got one at the salon that cheap?)
**And they are made in good ol' USA!

In fact, I fell in love with this product so much, I became a consultant in January (love the extra income as well :).... I mean...I do have 6 kids ya know... ;) I feel good about representing this company even though I've never sold a thing in my life prior to joining Jamberry. These things really just sell themselves because they just are THAT great!

I'd love to share a sample with you if you've never tried Jamberry before. Click HERE and fill out my form. I'll send you a sample to try! No obligations! I promise not to hunt you down or show up at your door -- #creepy.....I'll just send a sample for you to check out!

If you have tried Jamberry and already love about earning some FREE Jamberry? YES, I said FREE!! It's simple. You can "host" an facebook Jamberry party and earn Free Jamberry goodies! It's all online.....on facebook. I do the work - you just invite your friends. When they purchase from your party - you earn free stuff!
Click Here to sign up to host a party with me!

Finally - If you'd like to join my team with Jamberry, click HERE and I'll be in touch! One thing that I adore about Jamberry is that consultants work together -- not against each other.... So important!

So.... I promised a giveaway, didn't I? That's right! I'm giving away a "Half-Sheet" of Jamberry nails. A "half-sheet" is enough to do a full manicure AND pedicure! Who wouldn't LOVE that?

I'm making it SUPER SUPER easy to enter the giveaway - just 2 things..... 
1. Like my Jams By Jeannie facebook page HERE 
2. Leave a comment of the name of your favorite Jamberry design. You can check them all out HERE!

I'd also love for you to share this post with friends.....maybe they'd like a Jamberry stuff too... be a good friend :)

Giveaway ends Sunday. I will announce a winner Monday morning!! :) always... if you have any questions -- don't hesitate to leave a comment....I'll respond or you can always email me at :) 

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

A Rainbow-licious Experiment and More!

Hi friends! I gotta show some remaining cool rainbow stuff we've done this last week or so.

We went outside in our beautiful Texas weather to make some real rainbows using a clear container and mirror. I know many of you are still buried under snow. Please don't hate us for our nice weather. Remember come a couple months from now we will be scorching in our brutal Texas summer (which surely can be equated to the depths of hell in July and August :)

Even my teens were outside excited to capture a mysterious rainbow. I will say it was easier to find the rainbow than to photograph them.... so the pictures don't do them any justice. For anyone doing a nonfiction rainbow unit, this activity is a MUST-DO!

It was fun to find the rainbows... a bit of trial and error but everyone was so intent on finding one, they were definitely engaged.
To do this just fill a clear glass/container 3/4 full with water. Slip a small mirror into the container and place in direct sunlight. Again, the rainbows we saw were really neat, but it's kind of hard to see in the pictures above. :)

I also found this great "indoor rainbow" experiment at TurtleDiary. It's give a great animated demonstration of creating a rainbow in a darkened room. Check it out HERE. They actually have a number of neat kindergarten-level experiments there. :)

We also did a "Milky Rainbow" experiment as well. This one is SO SO SO cool!

We use 3 simple ingredients.
*cream (but whole milk works fine)
*food coloring (yellow, blue, and red)
*dish soap

Pour 1 cup of milk or cream in a paper plate. Drop 10 drops of yellow, 5 drops of blue, and 5 drops of red. Place the drops near the center, but not touching. 

Place 1 drop of dish soap in the middle of the colors. You will see a color explosion. It's really cool! Not only with the color shoot out in all directions, you will see the primary colors mix and create the secondary colors without any help from you. Remember, we only used red, yellow, and blue. But, we got pink, purple, green, and more..... 

Of course, after the activity is finished - it's also a great opportunity to mix and see what colors you get!
Reagan was amazed that all the beautiful colors mixed to create a yucky brown color... YUCK!

Here's a video of our experiment:


Here is the video we used to do this experiment. This video does a great job showing and explaining what happens and why. 


Here's a peek into some more fun we had this week learning about rainbows and their colors. We use my Roy G. Biv and the Rainbow pack. You can get it on TpT HERE

and yummy Skittle graphing!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Rainbow Sun Catcher

We have had tons of fun learning about rainbows this week! Such exciting stuff! A rainbow is truly an amazing weather phenomena.

We finished up our learning with some fun rainbow crafts. Check it out!

For this activity, you just need clear Clear Contact Paper, 18" x 9', Rainbow colored tissue paper, scotch tape, and scissors.

Cut a large square (1 foot by 1 foot depending on how big you want the rainbow). Lay it out on a table with the backing side up. Tape the sides down onto the table. Peel the backing off starting at one corner.
 Form a rainbow using the tissue paper. This is a great time for kids to use their rainbow knowledge to create the rainbow or simply let them be creative (GASP - I know that seems to be a bad word in some schools today :).


And, here's the sun catcher in action! So pretty! We also hole-punched the bottom of the rainbow and tied different colored curling ribbon to finish the effect. I love how bright and cheerful they make the house! :)

We also made paper plate rainbows. I wrote the ROY G. BIV acronym down the middle on the "half moon" and Reagan colored the rainbow. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Rainbow on a Stick

Here's a super fast and easy rainbow-themed snack we tried today. :) It was fun and is equally great to make at home or in the classroom.

You just need 3 materials to make this!
*2 large marshmallows (roasting marshmallows)
*1 chenille stick
*Fruit Loops

We placed 6 fruit loops of each color on the chenille stick. Start with red. Follow the colors of the rainbow. This will be a 6-color rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple).

Once you have all the fruit loops on the stick, push a marshmallow on either end. You can bend the stick to make a rainbow shape. It will even sit on the table. Too fun!!

That's it! See how easy that was!! :)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

March Bright Ideas Hop - DIY Abacus

Hey friends! I am so excited to link up to the Bright Ideas Hop for March. Today I'm going to share how to make your own DIY abacus!

Hehe -- an abacus is perfect for sticking your nose through... :)

....and maybe even your tongue... :)

Nooooo!!! That's not really what you do with an abacus...... so what do you do???

What's an abacus?
An abacus is a great, yet simple counting tool. You can use it to teach your students about 1-1 correspondence, counting, skip counting, addition, subtraction, and even place value. Well actually, it can even be used for teaching multiplication and division in the upper grades. There really are so many possible uses.

1. Addition. 3 yellow + 2 red= 5

2. Compose/Decompose to 10. 5+5=10 and 10-5=5

 3. Place Value (numbers great than 10). 1 red stands for ten and 2 yellows stand for ones... This number is 12.

4.This would be 37. On the second row, kids will learn that when all the yellow or red are together they represent 5, plus the 2 red equals 7. Great way to subitize!

5. And for early kinder and pre-k kids, simply counting and moving over 1 bead each time you count a number is wonderful practice. 1 (move a bead), 2 (move a bead), 3 (move a bead), etc.

I used abacuses often while teaching kindergarten. In fact, it was always one of the first math manipulatives I would introduce each year. And, we'd use it all year long!

I now homeschool my children and I don't have the fancy ones that my school purchased, so I made some. They are easy to make and a great weekend project. FYI** You will see that my children helped me make our abacuses, but I do not advise doing this with young students at school. This is a fantastic project for you to make for your class. :)


*craft sticks
*chenille sticks
*hot glue
*2 different colored beads

How To:

1. Get 5 chenille sticks. Fold them in half and cut. That will give you 10 smaller sticks.

 2. Line the 10 chenille sticks up on a large craft stick. Space them as evenly as possible, but no need to measure. Hot glue across the tips of the sticks lined up on the craft stick. Then, place another craft stick on top (like a sandwich). Now, that end is done! :)

3. Place 10 beads on each chenille stick. I like placing 5 of one color and 5 of another color (so they can easily spot 5 on each line), but you can do patterns or even random beads. Your choice.

Reagan was so careful counting each bead. He wanted to make sure he made his abacus correctly!

This is my 13 year old daughter Bailey. Yes... I do participate in child labor.. Ssshhhh!!! 
Don't tell anyone! ;)

Here, all the beads are on. Now, we just have to make a sandwich on the other end.

 4. Once all 100 beads are on on (10 rows of 10 beads), it's time to make the other end. Place a craft stick under the loose ends of your chenille sticks and glue down with hot glue. Then, place another craft stick on top (like a sandwich).

5. Notice I hot glued another craft stick on top and on bottom to make a stand/frame that really helped make my abacus more sturdy.

Well, there ya go! I hope you enjoy this BRIGHT IDEA!!! I highly encourage you to use abacuses in your primary classroom. They are amazing little math tools that pack one powerful punch!

What Now??
Next up on the blog hop is Jennifer from Simply Kinder. Jennifer has an great post for you all about positive discipline! Just click on the button below to check it out! 

Alternatively, you can search by topic using the link-up below and move along to any other blog on the blog hop!