Monday, October 29, 2012

Under the Weather

My little baby, ahem...not soooo little (2nd grade already!), was under the weather last week. I got to spend the day at home with her while she rested and recharged.  Thankfully, we had parent-teacher-conferences, so she didn't have school Thursday or Friday anyway!

While she was snoozing, I started working on a mini-unit about weather.  Why I started on weather, I'm not sure. I think Halloween, Thanksgiving, or Veteran's Day might have been more current, but I had an idea and I went with it!

I will be using this unit with my kindergarten friends when they are learning about weather with their classroom teachers! It is my first unit, so I'm sure it won't knock your socks off, but I think it still turned out pretty cute!

You can access this mini-unit in my TpT store HERE or click on the pictures above!

Oh, and I do remember what motivated me to do the weather unit - A Storm Called Katrina  by Myron Uhlberg. It's a beautiful book that is also nominated for the Bill Martin Jr. Picture Book Award, but that's another blog post for another day! :)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Scarecrow Heaven

My school is a big one.

Finding ways to create community can be a challenge when there are 680 sweet little babies from kindergarten to fifth grade filing in through the front doors every day. 

In order to build a little camaraderie, our student celebrations committee put forth the decree that each classroom would create a scarecrow for our main entrance, which we call the Circle of Trust.

Boy, are there some characters...

It was more like the Circle of Dust, until the fire marshal came and said we had to eighty-six the hay because it was a fire hazard. Sometimes, safety hinders ambiance.

Inspired by their good work, and the Body/Senses unit that Kindergarten is finishing up, I decided to create an easy reader to use with my kindergarten friends that come to visit me in the Learning Center. It puts together what they've been learning about - one-to-one correspondence and the 5 senses - all with a scarecrow theme.  
I did a black & white version, too, for the individual copies I give to the kids.
I plan on reading with the kids (of course!), possibly highlighting words we know or finding letters that make certain sounds (like use your red crayon to circle the letter that makes the /r/ sound). We'll be counting and writing the digit by the number word, too.   
To download this free resource, click SCARECROW LOVES FALL above or simply click HERE.
Happy Fall, y'all!

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Last week I got an email from a teacher on our Responsive Classroom Committee. They had come up with some ideas they wanted to share with our support staff to assist them as they work with our students. My sweet principal told them that I was pretty good at jazzing things up, and they might want to ask me if I'd be willing to create something for them.

I have scads of homework this weekend, so OF COURSE!

I am still figuring Photoshop out and am by no means a whiz, but here is a little sneak peek at what I created!

There are 18 different cards to be laminated, hole punched, and carried on a ring for easy access. Some are attention getters, a few hallway helpers, and then a couple of cards about "I" messages.  
After I finished, I decided I would post them on Teachers Pay Teachers. I've been lurking there long enough I figured I ought to give it a try.  Ironically though, I have decided to make everything I post a freebie for a few reasons: 1) I know I will need to work on the quality of my products (A LOT), but everyone has to start somewhere, right? 2) Buying licenses for clip art is quite an investment and I don't want to get in over my head just to fizzle out. 3) My stuff may turn out to be junk that no one wants to buy. A very possibly reality. 
Just getting it all ready, uploaded, and set up was huge undertaking. I have a renewed respect for those amazing TpT sellers like Deanna Jump, Cara Carroll, Amy Lemons, Rachel Lynette, just to name a few. Rock Stars - all of them!  
Anyway, I hope you'll check out my little freebie and give it 5 stars.  Just click the sample above or here to download my first freebie on TpT!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Amelia's Notebook: Kindergarten Writing Kick-Off

I don't know if a day has gone by where I haven't had quite a bit of fun at work.  But the past two days have been filled with joy, in both experience and watching it in others. 

Last month, when I was planning with the kindergarten team, super star team leader, Lacey B, asked if I would help them do a big writing kick-off.

Yes, please.

My original plan was to wear my cap and gown and talk about how they were graduating into the world of authors, play famous notes of Pomp & Circumstance, and hand them their journal.

Nap time, anyone? 

Lacey mentioned using Amelia's Notebook, by Marissa Moss, which actually looks like a real composition notebook.

Sometimes, all a person needs is a little bit of inspiration, right? Thank you, Lacey and thank you, Marissa Moss.

As the kids came in and sat down on the carpet, the teacher and I feigned this whole conversation about how I didn't know they were coming and I had nothing planned for them to do. I suddenly remembered that I received a package that I wasn't expecting and maybe they could help me figure out what is was and who it was from.

So I grunted and groaned (not nearly as disturbing as it reads) as I drug this giant box out of my office. (Not as disturbing as the fact I need a comb and some Spanx.)
I opened it, threw a little paper in the floor and pulled out Amelia's Notebook. We finally decided that even though it belonged to someone else, we should look inside.

I ooohed and ahhhhhed over what an amazing author she was and how she used pictures and words to tell stories from her life. 

Without fail, one of the kids yelled, "WHAT ELSE IS IN THE BOX?"

Next, I pulled out a giant letter. To me from - drum roll, please...AMELIA!

I reread the "special gift" part and dove box back into the box.

Lo and behold, a notebook, just like Amelia's, only this one had a different name on it.

A collective gasp from the kids. Aidan said, "That's me!"

"Wait, are you a new author?"


The kids clapped and he hung onto that notebook like his life depended on it. 

As I continued to pull out notebook after notebook, they kids cheered and clapped for each new author as their name was called.

Then, I asked them to check inside and see what stories Amelia wrote for them. Disappointingly, the kids said the notebooks were empty.

"Wow, why do you think she sent you a blank notebook?"

"Because we gotta put our stories inside!"

More cheering and clapping.

Then I noticed that Amelia's notebook had stickers and was decorated so nicely.

"Hey, I've got some stickers. Would you like to decorate your notebooks, just like Amelia?"

Yes, please.

Of course, I don't have any pictures of journals without sweet little faces attached. Hopefully, I'll sneak down to snap a few photos next week, so you can see their masterpieces. Even more so, I can't wait to see what brilliant stories those beautiful, joyful, curious minds create and share those as well!

Thursday, October 11, 2012


October is always a fun month for teachers. Like February, there are only about a twenty thousand thematic topics to choose prevention, fall, pumpkins, Halloween, Columbus Day, and my personal favorite - National Grouch Day on October 15th. I'm not joking so STOP LAUGHING.

NOTICE: Pathetic attempts at humor and random tangents abound. You might as well know how I roll from the get-go.

Consider yourself warned.   

Back to thematic units...Spooky animals like bats and spiders are also two common themes that pop up in hallways and in classrooms. 

A few different kind of animals popped into our Learning Center, the UNHUGGABLE kind.

We are fortunate enough to have access to Milford Nature Center in Milford, Kansas.  One of their goals is to provide a better understanding of our natural community here in the Flint Hills, including Kansas Wildlife.  Lucky for us, this includes a traveling presentation on animals that aren't really anyones' favorites, but are quite crucial to our ecosystem.

Alisa K., is a naturalist with MNC and has a master's degree focusing on wildlife education from Emporia State University. She started the lesson out with a great visual using wooden blocks with animal pictures to explain the food chain. Our second graders watched intently as she demonstrated how our ecosystem would crash if we didn't have animals like mice, prairie dogs, fox-footed ferrets, and the like. 

Then, she brought the animals out.

The Bull-Nosed Snake

The Virginia Opossum. Yes, a Virgina Opossum in Kansas, smarty-pants.

And my favorite, the Turkey Vulture.

Vulture talons are items of high interest WHEN NOT ATTACHED TO AN ACTUAL VULTURE.

Vultures also pee on their legs, which kills the bacteria from the rotting carcass they stand in as they eat.  Useful urine. Score for the vulture.

Did you know that vultures will vomit as a means of self-defense?

I did.

Know who else knows?

All of the second graders in the Learning Center at 10:40am.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Incredible Journey

Welcome to my blog about Seitz Learning Center and my journey as a media specialist!

Although I am dangerously inconsistent and a increasingly random blogger, I am going to do my best to record my stories and experiences here for other media specialists and librarians.  Teachers are welcome too, if they get too bored with the millions of amazing blogs that are already out there!

The Incredible Journey is a story of three fiercely loyal pets who trek their way across the Canadian wilderness to find their way back to their home and family.

This is my first year as a media specialist, so this year does begin an incredible journey for me.

New job.
Seitz Banner.jpg
New school.

New colleagues.

New community.

I hope you join me on my new and incredible journey!