Tuesday, February 10, 2015


It was the morning of our Polar Express Party.  My first graders were expected to arrive at any moment.  Everything was set up and ready to go.  One of the parents had already agreed to bring in the milk that morning for the hot chocolate.  As I plugged in my Crock Pot and turned it on, I was praying that the milk would arrive soon so that the hot chocolate would be ready in time for the party. 

As the morning bell chimed, I could hear excited, little voices in the hallway.  My students started entering the classroom with big smiles and even bigger bundles of blankets and stuffed animals.  The milk arrived sooner than I expected.  I thanked the parent and immediately began to pour the cold milk into the HOT Crock Pot…crackle, CRACKLE, CRACKLE.  WHOOOOOOOSH!  OMG, OMG, OMG” was all I could say as the milk went everywhere.   I stood there with my mouth agape and holding each half of the Crock Pot in my hands.  I watched in amazement as the milk poured down the counter and onto the floor.  The milk was on my jeans and shoes, but I stood there motionless and in disbelief.

Weeks later I would use this story during writing workshop.  We were adding ideas to our Tiny Topic notebooks.  “Do you guys remember our Polar Express Party?” I asked.  “I’m going to add that story idea to my Tiny Topic notebook and I’m calling it, The Hot Chocolate Fiasco.” I told them.  “What’s a fiasco?” several kids inquired.  “It’s when something turns out to be a disaster,” I admitted.  They all laughed and immediately started sharing ideas for what they would call this story.  The most popular idea was, The Hot Chocolate Explosion.  I love when my stories inspire them to write similar stories.  Now we have a shared experience that could be used in our writing.  It’s really important to show them how we can use our daily experiences for great writing ideas.

Last week I was looking over some of the pieces in our writing folders.  I came across this story by Spencer.  It’s called, Exploding Hot Chocolate.  Take a look at the title page and the dedication page below.  By the way, the circled “c” stands for copyright.

I absolutely love working with early writers.  They are so brave and often very willing to try something new.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


It’s hard to believe that it’s already February.  February happens to be one of my favorite months of the year.  It could be because it’s my birth month, or because it’s the shortest month of the year.  It could be because of Valentine's Day.  Maybe it’s a combination of the three.  When I think of February, I think of love. 

What does love mean to you?  The first thing that comes to mind is a scripture from the bible; ‘For God loved the world so much that he sent us his only son…’ I’m paraphrasing just a bit, but I think you get the meaning.  Some of you even know this scripture or have at least heard it before.  To think of sending away your only child for the sake of others, now that’s what I call love.  I have an only child.  Only, she’s not a child anymore.  She’s 20 years old.  However, with the exception of my husband, I can’t think of a single person I love more.  I used to tell her when she was just a little girl that I loved her so much that I would give my life for hers, if it were ever necessary.  She would always look deep into my eyes when I would tell her that. Then a little smile would appear on her face.  She knew that I meant those words and I knew she took comfort in them.

It’s so important to show and tell the people we care about, how much we love them.  I don’t think anyone gets tired of hearing another person utter the words, “I love you”.  However, saying, “I love you,” doesn’t come easy for everyone.  Sometimes people show love in the things that they do.  As a child, I don’t recall hearing those words spoken by my parents very often.  I think they grew up not hearing those words uttered to them and, in turn, it was that much more difficult to utter them to their children.  However, I’ve always been of the opinion that just because that’s where you come from, it doesn’t mean that’s where you have to stay.  So, I made a conscious decision that when I had children I would not only show them, I would tell them and tell them often.  Don’t misunderstand, I knew my parents loved me because of all the things that they did for my siblings and I.  They showed us love through their work ethic and by providing us with a better life than the one they had.  They showed their love by always giving us their time and attention.  I always felt their love as a child, even though it wasn’t expressed verbally.  Those various “acts” of love also count.  This leads me to my question.  How do YOU express love to the people around you?  How do YOU show love to the people you see each day?  I'm referring to family members, children, friends, colleagues, neighbors and others.  Do you show love in your deeds and actions?  Perhaps we need to expand our circles of love and extend them to encompass more people.  I’m going to expand my love circle to my colleagues this week.  Perhaps they will notice, perhaps not.  It really doesn’t matter because my gift will be the love that comes back to me.  You get what you give, right?

Thanks for stopping by.  Don’t forget to show or tell someone that you love them today or during the week.  Prepare for the love that’s coming back your way and look for it to come in different ways.