First Read With Your Roadrunner of 2017!

Man, this must have been a busy week because I didn’t blog all week AND I have pictures from things that happened a week ago.  MANY APOLOGIES!  Goodness.  I will try to do better this week. 🙂

But for now, I’ll share pics from our first Read With Your Roadrunner.  We had so many family members representing, and I love that kiddos were willing to share their parents with other kids who didn’t have someone (even with my own kiddo who needed someone since I had to be teacher, not mom–thanks Nicholas!!).  We had several siblings who came to join us, too, and believe me–RWYR is always a GREAT way to start the day!  Can’t wait to see even more next time!

Pumpkin Pie Plans

If you’ve been here much this fall you’ve read many posts about pumpkins.  We’ve read lots of books about pumpkins, planned and created amazing Literary Lanterns out of pumpkins, and then, because of a super lead from Mrs. Meihaus, returned our pumpkins to the wild depths of the Robinson Woods from whence they came.  Ok, not really, but we did take them out to see what would happen next, with our fingers crossed that we’ll grow a pumpkin patch. 🙂

Well, over Thanksgiving, while I was working on dessert with my own family, it seemed to just make sense that our Rm. 202 family needed to make, bake and ENJOY a pumpkin pie together.  I mean, come on, right?  PERFECT!!

And of course, true to 20somethingkidsand1kookyteacher form, this story is going to SUPER LONG because I kept the whole story to myself until the very end.  Apologies–I’ll try to save as many words as I can and instead use pictures and videos of my kiddos instead of lots of teacher words from me!

1.) We used the 3 Act Task that I had learned about a couple of weeks ago to start our thinking about what would be the best way to cut our pie and therefore how many we might need to bake to feed our class.  I showed them these images and asked what they wondered…


They came up with these questions:


We decided to tackle the last one:  Which is the best shape of pie to make for all of us?  But even before we could figure out the answer, we had to determine what we meant by the word BEST.  We agreed that it was the pie that fed the most people with the least amount of work and the biggest piece!

We worked in small groups to try out triangles and rectangles to see how we could make those shapes and sizes work.

We eventually agreed that triangles would give us a bigger piece of pie, as well as would be much easier to cut all the same way (so it would be fair for everyone), and so another group got busy working with the recipe.  We used this one, from The Minimalist Baker.  It’s vegan and so perfect for all of the allergy concerns we have in our room (and which was why I tried it for my Thanksgiving, too–everyone could eat it!!).

We did some quick multiplication and figured out we’d need to make 3 pies to get enough pieces for all of the kiddos plus two teachers, and so then we had to look at the amounts of each ingredient we’d need to have (that way I’d know if I had enough of everything at home already like I thought I did).

With some moments that reminded me of the Feast Week work we did in 5th grade several years ago, some of my first grade friends helped me triple the recipe.  Wow!

Once we had the details figured out, the kitchen ok’ed to use (thanks Ms. Barbara!!), and all the ingredients brought to school, we got busy!  We carved out the morning to make and bake our pies so that then we could eat our pie for dessert after lunch.  I have to say THANKS  A MILLION to my Rm. 202 friend Rachel for taking care of pictures for us while we made pies, and man did she take a lot! I cannot decide which ones to share so I’ll just play a slideshow here so you can see her great work and the smiles on all the faces of the Rm. 202 bakers!  Plus I love how things look so different when someone else takes the pictures instead of me. 🙂

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We got a little surprise when we took our pies to the oven to be baked–Ms. Barbara gave us a tour of the kitchen!  What a treat to see where the lunchtime magic takes place and it definitely gave us more of an appreciation for what those ladies do for us every day!

We cut our pie (using our super smart thinking from math earlier in the week!) and then plated it, topped it with whipped cream (well most of us did!) and then chowed down.  Some kiddos were worried that they would not like the pie, so we agreed that they didn’t have to eat the whole thing, but just take a “thank-you bite,” which is a way to say you appreciate the time and energy it takes to make a great dessert.  We got mixed reviews on the pie, but I think the thumbs-up have it with this one.

I’d say these three were the happiest about pie.  Could have probably eaten the whole thing themselves! Love their smiles!!

Ok, I will be done now, and will leave you with this picture.  It sums up what I wanted to happen at that old kitchen table in my classroom and kind of reminds me of what Thanksgiving looks like at home.  Only this one was celebrated with my Rm. 202 family. 🙂  I am definitely thankful for them!


Read With Your Roadrunner–Nov. 18, 2016

I love how our school takes an effort to include all parts of a kiddo and their family in our learning!  One thing we do on a regular basis is to host Read With Your Roadrunner, where kiddos are invited to bring in their family (or friends!) to start the day sharing a great book together.

This time we had even MORE guests join us, including moms, dads, sisters, brothers, grandmas and grandpas!  What a blessed group of kiddos we have in Rm. 202 and I love how even the kiddos who didn’t have their own specific guests were included in the other “families.”  Another reason this Robinson community is the best ever. 🙂

Thanks to the adults and siblings who made this day super special for us.  And in case you didn’t get a chance to join us, here’s a little bit of what it was like:

Can’t wait ’til next time!  Maybe you can join us!  Mark your calendars for January 13th, 2017!

Let Creativity Rule!

I am often inspired by things I see.  It goes with the kind of learner I tend to be, too, as things make more sense when I see them in addition to hearing them.  So let’s start with a picture.  It’s what inspired this post:


If you have been around here for a while, you know that I am a thinker.  Sometimes I think too much.  Like I-can’t-get-to-sleep-for-a-long-time-at-night-because-my-brain-won’t-turn-off kind of thinking.  Most often, though, I can use my overactive brain for good things.

I discovered this bracelet the other night in my jewelry box, after not having worn it for a while.  I actually forgot I had it.  It was a gift from a fabulous family I’ve had the pleasure of working with at school.  I was lucky enough to have taught two of their children–one of them twice!  As I looked down at the charm, I thought of how “Let Creativity Rule” could really be one of the phrases for my life.  It seems to come up in so many places for me.

In my classroom, I try to be the kind of teacher who is a facilitator and a designer, rather than a dictator or an information-dumper (yeah, I just made that up, I think).  I believe that knowledge is most powerful when you create it for yourself, and that connections kids make on their own mean much more than ones I make for them.  I see my role as an educator as the one who helps create opportunities for my learners to figure things out, to put things together, to wonder and then discover answers for themselves.  Don’t get me wrong–there are times when you have to lay it all out there, because yes, there are some things that kiddos would never just find out without guidance.  But for the most part, I want my students to be in charge of their learning.

Alongside the opportunities, comes the freedom to make choices about how that learning will happen.  There are very few things in my classroom that I have to have happen a certain way; labeling is one of the things I care deeply about, as well as coloring-coding certain things we use all the time, as a means of helping to keep things organized.  Oh, and fonts.  I love them.  I collect them in fact, and usually have one as my “go-to” font for the year.  And yes, I have been known to recreate forms and sheets that people share with me because I have to make them look a certain way.  Hey–everyone has something like that right? But outside of those couple of things, my children are free to make decisions about what and how they learn things, as well as how they demonstrate that learning.  I want my kiddos to have a variety of ways to show what they know; not everyone can best do this with pencil and paper as is typical in many classrooms.  It is common for my students to show their understanding of a concept by building with Legos, using big wooden blocks, drawing a picture, acting it out, recording themselves talking about it, writing a story (or some other kind of explanation) and yes, sometimes by taking a test.  The possibilities are endless, and one of the things I like the best is that sometimes kids come up with ideas that are even better than an option I could have given them.  The point is showing me–as well as their classmates–that they understand what they’re learning.

I appreciate creativity in my life outside of school, as well.  Part of what balances me in my work life is taking the time to “play” and do things that bring out my crafty side.  I like to sew, to design, and to build things.  While I would not say I am particularly gifted in any of those areas, it’s another way to use my brain, and I enjoy seeing the products of my handiwork (and just in case you’re interested, I think I even wrote about it a few years ago on this blog…)

The other thing I was thinking as I was looking at my hand (that sounds really funny, doesn’t it?) is how important my family is to me.  My wedding rings remind me of my fabulous hubby and our amazing kids, and how lucky I am to have them.  I don’t think I would be the teacher I am, actually, without them.  I take so much of them to school with me, and they often help me think through struggles I’m having and help me solve problems (my son is really helping me this year since he was in 1st grade last year, I run a lot of ideas by him before I try them with my Rm. 202 kiddos!).  My husband is a teacher, as well, and I know that while there is a LOT of shop talk at our house, I am so grateful to have a spouse who “gets” what I do.  We have even taught the same grade levels at times, which makes for another layer of fun as we brainstorm classroom ideas together.  I have been thinking lately how much being a mom helps me as a teacher, too.  Don’t get me wrong, you can be a GREAT teacher without being a parent, but for me, there has been another level of understanding since I’ve had kids of my own.  Oh, and now that my kids are in school, I have a much better understanding of what it means to give your baby over to the care of someone else.  I am so blessed that the families I work with let me do that every day.  Believe me–I do my best to do them proud and take good care of their little ones, as I would hope would happen for mine!

It’s funny how just seeing something can spark so many things in your brain.  What image or picture have you been inspired by lately?  What phrase would you say defines your life?  How do you let your creativity rule?  I’d love to hear from you!  Feel free to leave a comment and tell me all about it! 🙂

Read With Your Roadrunner!

On Friday we had our very first Read With Your Roadrunner event at our school.  It was an opportunity for parents, grandparents, friends–anyone–to come and read with their Roadrunner for the start of our day.  Enjoy some pics from a great event–in Rm. 202 and all of Robinson School!  So excited for the next one. 🙂

Diego and his mom enjoy a story together!

Diego and his mom enjoy a story together!

JKB's mom got to stay and share a story with he and Emily for a little while.

JKB’s mom got to stay and share a story with he and Emily for a little while.

Briannia and Amelia are checking out her bookbox together.

Briannia and Amelia are checking out her bookbox together.

Two more super-focused Roadrunners--Sara and Makayla--read together.

Two more super-focused Roadrunners–Sara and Makayla–read together.

Some friends chose to read alone: Kylie is busy with a favorite story.

Some friends chose to read alone: Kylie is busy with a favorite story.

Evan, his mom and his baby sister are enjoying a new Captain Underpants book--another good find from our book fair!

Evan, his mom and his baby sister are enjoying a new Captain Underpants book–another good find from our book fair!

JKB and Thomas checking out a non-fiction text about lions.

JKB and Thomas checking out a non-fiction text about lions.

The group on the carpet got bigger!

The group on the carpet got bigger!

Ella Marie reads quietly at her table to start the day.

Ella Marie reads quietly at her table to start the day.

Lauren brought her brother and her mom to read together with her!

Lauren brought her brother and her mom to read together with her!

I think that by the end of our time, Diego's mom had read to most everyone in the room!  What a great sport she was. :)

I think that by the end of our time, Diego’s mom had read to most everyone in the room! What a great sport she was. 🙂

Love seeing friends sharing books together. :)

Love seeing friends sharing books together. 🙂

Even little Roadrunners can read together--C.J. and Landen are checking out a new book fair book--Bugs in My Hair!

Even little Roadrunners can read together–C.J. and Landen are checking out a new book fair book–Bugs in My Hair!

(Ava, Millie and Charlie were also enjoying this time with their families in other parts of the building, so sorry–no pictures! 😦  )

What a great way to share a love of reading, time with our families and start our Friday off on a good foot!

What was your favorite part of Read With Your Roadrunner?

Things Teachers Do in the Summer: TRAVEL

In addition to finding tons of great, new books to share with my new class, I also had some fabulous opportunities to travel with my family!

Ok, I’ll give you one guess as to where we went.  Alright, you can have two or three guesses if you need them, but if you know me at all, or if you’ve spent any length of time here on this blog you already know the answer.:

This IS indeed, the Happiest Place on Earth!

This IS indeed, the Happiest Place on Earth!

We spent the first 10 days after school was out in our favorite place, which is the week we typically go because it’s not too hot yet, and the crowds aren’t as crazy as later on in the summer.  This year’s weather was a little weird, though, because Tropical Storm Andrea decided to come for a visit at the same time as we did.  It was rainier than normal (not the usual 3 o’clock shower that is over in 5 minutes) and cloudy most of the time we were there.  But hey–we didn’t let that get us down!  We’ve been to WDW many times, but we always find a way to make new memories.  Two highlights from this trip were the Princess dinner we had at Akershus Royal Banquet hall–in Epcot’s Norway pavilion–for Allie (which we actually went to on Daddy’s birthday–HA!) as well as a Pirate cruise that Riley took with a small group around Crescent Lake near Epcot.

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I was so surprised as how shy she was around the princesses.  Those are pretty much the only two that she would talk to–when the others came around she was buried in my shoulder hiding her face!  She did the same thing for Mickey and the others, too, which just surprised me because of how naturally outgoing she normally is!  Our prince was not at all bothered by all the pretty ladies who came to our table, though, and he took pictures with them instead!

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I don’t really have many good pics of Riley’s cruise, but that’s mostly because I wasn’t there!  He took off in his pirate skipper with the tour guides and 5 or 6 other kiddos in search of Captain Stinkyfeet who had stolen the pirate treasure!  I was so proud at his willingness to do that without us (he’s learning to let go 🙂 ) and he had a SUPER time. It was all he could talk about for days afterward!

The one other highlight of the trip was meeting up with some an old 5th grade friend and his family who happened to be there at the same time as we were:

What fun to run into Keelan, his sisters Macie and Amelia and his parents!  Fun in the Florida sun!

What fun to run into Keelan, his sisters Macie and Amelia and his parents! Fun in the Florida sun! (Doesn’t Riley look like he could be related to all of them?)

Disney is usually our big excursion for the summer, but this summer we finally got around to going somewhere else in the world (which is honestly a BIG DEAL for our family!).  So in July we packed up and headed east to Charlotte, NC to visit some friends who had moved there a few years ago.  We spent a lovely weekend with their family (of which I have NO pictures–I realized this after we were home…) and then headed to Asheville for the next few days.  We were excited to see the mountains, as well as enjoy Asheville’s food scene, which is focused on sustainable, local, fresh ingredients and is right up our alley!

Several days we went driving on the Blue Ridge parkway, which is the scenic route through the Blue Ridge mountains and afforded us some AMAZING views, along with tunnels and roadside overlook points to stop and check out.  We went shopping, ate some fabulous food, and also visited the Western North Carolina Nature Center.  While we’re definitely still lovers of all things Disney, this was a great time for our family and it’s the trip that Riley keeps going back to when he reminisces on his summer fun!


This one cracks me up! Just an example of the cool rocks we drove next to on the road–here we stopped to look at the water running down the walls. Obviously it was more interesting than smiling at me for the picture!

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We also learned that Asheville is home to the highest point east of the Mississippi river–Mount Mitchell.  So fun to trek to the top of it!  Such beautiful views from way up there!

IMAG0854IMAG0882IMAG0872Doesn’t that picture just say it all?  WE HAD FUN!!

What did you do this summer?  What adventures did you go on?  Where did you visit?  Leave a comment and tell me all about it!  Send me a picture, 5th grade friends, and I’ll add it to the blog! 🙂

Chicago is For Learners

Or “Spring Break–part 1.”

I have to let you in on a little secret.  Promise you won’t tell anyone, but teachers look forward to Spring Break as much (or maybe even more!) than students.  Yep, we love the time off to play and recharge and do all the things we might not have time for when we’re busy with school work.

So this year, like most others, we started planning what our Spring Break would look like.  My husband, who is also a teacher, had the same week off as me (which thankfully happens most years), so we looked at going somewhere together as a family.  This time around it was Chicago.

The idea for this trip really started back in November.  Grant and I were lucky enough to take a weekend-getaway there right before Thanksgiving, to celebrate my birthday and just enjoy the city.  We’d been the once before, but it had been quite a while and it was time to go back.  The kids stayed with their Mimi and Pop, but all the while we kept thinking that many of the things we did would be a big hit with our son, Riley, who is 4 1/2.  He LOVES to travel (and has since he was a baby) and so he was a little sad when we got to go away without him.  Needless to say, he was as excited for this Chicago trip as we were.

When we went to Chicago in the fall, we drove to a train station near O’Hare Airport and then took the El into the city.  Then, during our stay, we either rode the train or walked where we wanted to go.  This time rather than driving, we decide to take Amtrak, because of both its ease and cost-effectiveness, but also because we have a 4YO son.  I mean what 4YO boy wouldn’t LOVE to take a trip on a train.  He had been studying transportation at school, and so this fit in perfectly with that, too.

I was excited about the train ride, but I have to be honest that I wasn’t excited about this:

What’s that, you ask?  That’s what time I had to get up to get to the train on time.  And yes, that’s AM.  Our train left at 4:35 in the morning!!  (Sorry about the quality of that photo.  Guess my camera was a little groggy at that time of day, too!)

Here’s my seatmate for our ride:

See how tired she looks?  That’s because she woke up at 3:20, too, and never…went…back…to…sleep.  Bummer.  That made for a hard ride for her, but luckily Amtrak was spacious enough that we could walk around if we wanted, and it had a snack car that we could escape to if baby needed a change of scenery or something to eat.  That made the trip a little more manageable with a 15MO.  🙂

We got into town around 10, and headed across town to our hotel (we found a great place just off Michigan Ave.), hoping to leave our luggage and head out for lunch, but luckily our room was already ready for us!  What a nice surprise.  The rest of Sunday we spent walking around the Magnificent Mile and checking out the sites.  Riley really liked the mall at Water Tower Place that was right next to where we were staying.  For dinner we headed to Gino’s East for deep dish pizza.  Legendary place, really, and lots of fun.

The next day we headed to the Field Museum.  It’s the Museum of Natural History, and we were most excited about seeing Sue, the big T-Rex in the first part, but we also experienced many other fun and informative things.

I love this picture.  It pretty much encompasses our trip.  Family fun in the city. 🙂


Eventually we had to stop and look at the map, because other than “south,” we didn’t really know where we were going.  That’s another thing Riley loves–looking at maps and trying to figure out where we’re going.  I don’t think he really understands how they work just yet, but some day he will totally be our navigator.


Thanks to my friend, Johanna, and the Beco baby carrier she lent us, this was how Allie and I spent the walk to the museum.  This was so amazing, because we didn’t have to worry about a stroller around town, and baby girl got in a little rest–this made all the difference in her mood during the second part of our journey. 🙂  Ignore my angry face–it’s just what happens when I try to take pictures of myself.  Somehow I figure it’d look silly if I smiled at myself and said “cheese.”  I really was having a great time. 🙂


I love how tiny my littles look in these pictures.  That really is a big place!  The last one is especially funny to me, too, because Allie was so determined.  She was going to crawl all the way up those steps to get her Bubba.  Well if I let her.  Which I didn’t, in case you were wondering.

Ok, so this picture is totally staged.  But after all that walking (it took us at least an hour to walk from our hotel to the museum), we needed a break.  This was Riley showing me how tired he was.  After this we sat for a while and had a snack before heading out into the museum.


That first picture up there is from the 3D movie all about how they found the T-Rex, Sue.  But we’re not watching it.  Baby lasted about 1 minute, and after the first dinosaur roar she started screaming.  So we just played in the lobby with the glasses instead.  The second one is a picture of Riley inside a giant cicada shell in the Underground exhibit.  You go through a shrinking machine and get to experience what it would be like to live in the world of dirt.  The last one is a little snapshot of Daddy taking his turn with Allie in the Beco.  After carrying that little girl all the way there, my shoulders and back needed a break.  For being so little, she sure is heavy.  Pretty cute, right? She seems to be loving it. 🙂

There’s the family with Sue.   Riley really was excited about the dinosaur, just not the picture.

Another picture with a dinosaur.  Hopefully you can see it–we couldn’t really get any closer to it than this, but he really wanted a “long-neck” picture to show his friends. 🙂


After the museum, baby took a ride on my back, and then we took a ride on the train.   Obviously he loved it.

Ok, so I realize this is becoming a really lengthy post.  I’ll finish in another one next, to give you a break from all this Spring Break goodness.  Don’t forget to come back and read it, though!

Learning Is Messy


Today was our last day of school before Thanksgiving break.  And so traditionally, that means that we do things that are a little bit nontraditional in our schedule.  For math, that meant that I put the kiddos to work.

Here’s what I mean…

For many years, my husband and I have taught together.  Well not really together, like in the same school or anything, but we’ve always taught the same grade or the one just behind.  So since that’s the case, we’ve been known to do some of the same things in our classrooms.  One such thing is the Thanksgiving Dinner project in math that comes during these last two days of school.

The idea is pretty simple–plan and shop for the Thanksgiving meal for your family.  The directions for my class this year looked like this:

What’s cool is what happens after you give all the directions and answer all the questions and set them all loose to figure it out for themselves.  Check it out.  Like I said, learning can get a little messy.  But it’s a really good kind of messy. 🙂

Z was so focused on his meal, searching diligently through each circular to find just the right foods!



Love how my friend M is so into the paper in this one!  Can you see her behind there?


The other cool thing, besides a messy classroom and lots of kids saying things like “this is really fun!” or my friend D asking me to copy his plan so he could share it with his mom (love that!), was the togetherness that this project brought as they worked with each other.  Truly a family feel in Rm. 201 today!




Happy Thanksgiving, friends!