Holiday Gift Guide

Monday, November 26, 2018

Welcome to our 1st Annual Holiday Gift Guide!! πŸŽ‰πŸŽ

The holidays can be a hectic, overwhelming time for some of you when it comes to buying gifts for the little ones, family members, and friends. I'm here to make your life a little easier, my friends. 😁

In this post, I will share with you my go-to items for children ages 0-5+ along with book recommendations and arts & crafts materials that you will definitely use with your little ones at home or on the go.
Click on the image for your FREE copy of this gift guide! ✅

These gifts are some ideas of items that Aria really enjoyed playing with as she grew older. Some can be used throughout time and are not limited to a particular age group. Most of these items are gender neutral and encourage open-ended play. Click on each picture for detailed descriptions. The ideas you see listed above are genuinely some of our favorite toys and items and we hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Questions about the items on this list? Please feel free to comment below or email me at iteachfromtheheartblog@gmail.com.

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Cruise Essentials Checklist

Friday, September 7, 2018
It's finally here, guys! I've been wanting to write this post for a VERY long time and I'm so excited to finally be sharing these goodies with you, all.

As many of you may know, cruising is a pretty big deal for our family. I won't say how often we go on them (for security reasons) but we absolutely {LOVE} them! πŸ›³We are also very simple and quite minimalistic when it comes to traveling. We like to think we are "always on the go!" So, what happens when you have a family who loves cruising/traveling and likes to keep it simple? Well, you can figure that one out.

In this post, I will share with you my checklist for Cruising with Infants. These are children that range anywhere from 6 months to 1 year old. Most cruise lines will only allow a child to travel if they are over 6 months old. We took our daughter on her first cruise at exactly 6 months old and she has been on quite a few already. 😍
Click on the image for your FREE copy of this checklist! ✅

This checklist contains all the essentials I packed for her when we took her on her first cruise (6m). We had one medium luggage for us (I also placed some of her smaller items in our bag) and one small luggage for Aria. This is where all of the items listed above were stored.

*PLEASE NOTE: You are packing for you and your family. Be sure to make any necessary accommodations/changes to the checklist as you may see fit. This is simply a guide as to what I packed when we went on our trip but make sure it suits you and your family, first.

Questions about the items on this list? Please feel free to comment below or email me at iteachfromtheheartblog@gmail.com.

πŸ“£Coming soon: TOP CRUISING TIPS post! Stay tuned for that as I will go into detail about some things I learned while being onboard. πŸ‘

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Let Our Little Ones Be Little

Monday, July 30, 2018
Having a child is perhaps one of the biggest life-changing events that can truly impact everything. This includes your living situation, family arrangement, finances and even social-emotional aspects such as your wellbeing, state of mind, perspectives, morals, values, etc.

The attitude you have when your son/daughter is born will surely affect their development, either in a positive or negative way. As many of you have experienced, when I had my daughter, I repeatedly heard the phrase, "Enjoy her while she's little!" along with other similar variations, ultimately leading me to really think about what they were saying.
"Enjoy her while she's little... Once they grow up, they'll never be the same... They grow up so fast... I miss the baby stage." I can't speak for everyone but in my personal experience of mommyhood, I feel like I have truly enjoyed every moment with my baby. I know being at home with her the entire time has surely helped me build a meaningful and loving relationship with her BUT so do other moms who work full-time jobs and go to school full-time or simply may not have the time to spend with their children at home 24/7.

Just because you may not be raising them at home full-time doesn't mean you can't enjoy them. Also, why do people feel the need to constantly tell you (in not-so polite terms) that your kid is going to be bad when they grow up? What is this concept of negativity that people have adopted? So, if your child was poorly behaved, you feel mine will be, too? I know how difficult parenting can be and that our children will have moments, sometimes days or months where they will be having a hard time but positivity and the right attitude can definitely help foster a happy child.

I also wanted to bring up an imperative point here, because the truth is I have many friends who struggle with infertility and/or have suffered miscarriages. It is an absolute blessing to have a child and I think it is very insensitive to always be complaining about your children when others, people who are closest to us, may not be able to have them and would do anything to have children and watch them GROW. πŸ’
With that said, I would like to leave you with this thought. I have enjoyed having my daughter as a newborn/infant, watching my daughter grow up into the tiny independent #bossbabe she is now as a toddler, and will always enjoy being with her and helping her have the happiest life, ever. Let the little ones be little and just enjoy the ride/adventure of mommyhood! 🍼

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Our {FAVE} Math Manipulatives

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

One of my all-time favorite content areas to teach is math. I LOVE teaching math! πŸ’œSo, when it was time to reinforce skills with my students, I would bring out all sorts of fun games and manipulatives I knew they were really going to love. These are simply a few of my all-time {FAVE} math manipulatives for elementary and middle school scholars.
Write & Wipe Demonstration Clock
Our kiddos turning the clock hands any which way they like and being able to write the time on the board it features, erase it, and do it all over, again! Time-telling skills are necessary for 1st grade+. Begin with the hour, then half-hour, 15-minute intervals, and then to the minute.
Linking Cubes
These cubes are phenomenal! They are very useful when teaching how to count by 1s, 2s, 3s, 5s, 10s, 20s, and so on. Children can also sort them by color, size of cube train, amount, etc. These skills are handy for life-long learning. 
Two-Color Counters
This is a little gift for preschoolers and the little ones in the elementary school level. These counters can be used to reinforce counting, sorting, basic addition, basic subtraction and more. 
Geometric Block Shapes
Learning about shapes, sides, vertices, or just want to have fun creating shape monsters? These geometric block shapes are perfect for any of these skills. They can be used to build things, also, and spark creativity and imagination.
Geoboards
A little something for our middle schoolers and older learners. Geoboards are a fun way to learn about symmetry, angles, fractions and other math skills that are necessary in building a strong math foundation.
Teddy Bear Counters
Lastly, this one is simply because they are so cute and fun to play with! Teddy bear counters are excellent for sorting by amount, color, size and more! Your little one, or students, will love playing with these and getting creative when playing family (mama, papa and baby bear).

As you can see, I absolutely LOVE πŸ’–playing with these fun math manipulatives and I encourage you and your little one (or students) to have fun with them, as well!

Happy teaching! πŸ–

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Top 5 Apps: Reading, Writing & Math

Wednesday, July 11, 2018
Click, clack, boom! πŸ’»I've always had a heartfelt passion for technology. My Masters Degree is in Curriculum Instruction and Technology and my husband works in IT security, so I guess it runs in our family. Integrating technology in my class and into my curriculum has been an imperative and fun challenge for me. In researching the *TOP 5 Apps* for our students, I've split the applications into 3 categories:
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Math
Reading
iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch
Recommended Age: 4+
$3.99
This app targets phonological and phonemic awareness while teaching through learning games. It can be useful in the classroom, for homeschooling or with your own children for supplemental education and fun. It contains interactive lessons that developmentally increase in complexity, challenge the students in fun and motivating ways and provide instant feedback.
iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch
Recommended Age: 4+
FREE
This app teaches basic reading skills such as decoding, phonemic awareness, and CVC and sight words through engaging themes and interactive books such as "All About Me," "Magic," "Tongue Twisters," etc. It features content in differentiated levels, as well. Other versions available via Starfall Education are Starfall ABCs, Starfall All About MeStarfall Learn to Read and more.

3. Dr. Seuss's ABC - Read & Learn
iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch
Recommended Age: 4+
$1.99
This app features the brilliant works of Dr. Seuss in learning activities, fun games and decodable readers. The stories illuminate famous characters like Sam I am and Aunt Annie while teaching letter name and sound recognition, sight words, print concepts, vocabulary and more. What a fun way to use technology and combine the love for these characters and the Dr. Seuss' writing to make learning and reading come to life!

4. Epic!
iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch
Recommended Age: 4-6+ (up to 12 yrs)
FREE
This app is a digital library for children and teens. It contains a plethora of interactive books, audiobooks, educational videos and quizzes that challenge students. If you are an educator or a librarian, you may be able to get the full version of this app for free in the U.S. and Canada. Track your students' progress and introduce them to new titles and genres while building their love for learning in many ways!

   5. Elevate - Brain Training
   iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch
   Recommended Age: 4+
   FREE
   This app is designed to improve focus, speaking abilities,
   processing speed, memory, math skills and more. It contains games
   for children of all ages and increases in complexity. Your child can
   track their progress with the featured games and monitor their skills,
   experience, comprehension and more.

Writing
1. Vocabulary Spelling City
iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch
Recommended Age: 4+
FREE with in-app purchases/upgrades
This app is helps improve spelling and vocabulary fluency through interactive games, fun levels and leveled reader books. It includes pre-made word lists and allows students/parents to add their words of the week into their platform and creates customized games for them utilizing the students' weekly words to study.

2. LetterSchool - Learn to Write!
iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch
Recommended Age: 4+
FREE
Learn to write all letters of the English alphabet and numbers 1-10 with this app. It is mainly designed for toddlers and preschoolers but can also be used to promote neater and legible handwriting skills for school-aged children, too. There are numerous opportunities for reteaching and expanding on lessons and particular letters and/or numbers. It also focuses on the Montessori approach and methods for teaching letters and numerals.

3. ABC Kids - Tracing & Phonics
iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch
Recommended Age: 0-5+
FREE
This app features a fun, colorful platform for children to learn to write letters in uppercase and lowercase form, pair phonetic patterns, match letters and much more. It is primarily designed for children ages 0-5 and includes in-app purchases for additional levels and games.

iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch

Recommended Age: 0-5+
FREE
Dive into a world of interactive letter and writing exploration with bright and colorful scenes that will engage any child. This app contains fun sing-along songs, jumping jellyfish and learning sharks that will help children learn how to write uppercase and lowercase letters, associate word concepts, place words into alphabetical order and more. It also features fun flash cards to build fluency.

5. 
Writer: Write A Book, Write A Story
iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch
Recommended Age: 4+
FREE
This app is designed for the upper grades student, college student or adult. It has built-in features such as camera, microphone, timer and more so that students can take a photo of anything that inspires them to write; begin recording ideas, titles or stories; and/or create a storyboard in the "Notes" section to look at from time to time for inspo and to build upon any topic they are writing about.
 
Math

1. Toddler Games: Puzzles, Shapes
iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch
Recommended Age: 3+
FREE
This app is targets mathematics skills such as color and size sorting, 2-dimensional shape recognition, number recognition, counting and excels to higher cognitive levels including angles, combinations and more. Its colorful and interactive platform makes learning math fun for the little ones beginning their educational journeys with math skills.

2. Learning Games 4 Kids Toddlers
iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch
Recommended Age: 2+
FREE
Learn beginning math skills with these funny foods! Your toddler/preschool students will love playing games where the food dances, sings, jumps and encourages them to learn. It has increasing levels of difficulty that challenges the students to think critically/creatively and problem solve with numbers, shapes, puzzles and whole parts.

3. Preschool & Kindergarten Games
iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch
Recommended Age: 2-5+
FREE
The developer of this app created this app to target essential grade-level content for each grade level including preschool, kindergarten, 1st grade through high school. With each grade level, the content complexity increases and each app contains numbers, memory games, addition/subtraction, puzzles, sorting, counting and more. It also features reading skills for additional practice.

4. Monster Math: Kids Fun Games
iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch
Recommended Age: 9+
FREE with in-app purchases
This app is designed for students in 3rd grade or above. It features content aligned with the Common Core Standards including addition/subtraction, counting, multiplication/division, and more. Build fluency with fact families through the use of fun interactive games.
iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch
Recommended Age: 4+
FREE
With various grade levels and content areas covered in this app, your child/student can learn and play over 250 games and unlock new ones as they progress. It features teacher-created content and focuses on numerous content areas like mathematics, reading, writing, science and more. They can get creative with drawing platforms, too.

Stay tuned for more teaching ideas! πŸ€—

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Great Outdoors Classroom Theme Ideas!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Ask, and you shall receive!! πŸŽ‰
For all you camping lovers out there, here is some great inspiration and a list of ideas for your Great Outdoors classroom theme! πŸ• Other amazing themes that are related to the Great Outdoors are Camping, Woodlands, Forest, and s'more!

Bulletin Board Headings
English:
  • S'more Great Work!
  • Ready for S'more Learning
  • Camping Out in ___ (Grade)
  • The S'more You Read, The S'more You Learn!
  • Getting Nutty With Books
Spanish:
  • Jugando en el bosque
  • Vamos a acampar con libros
  • LeΓ©mos en el campamento
  • El campamento de ____ (Grado/Nivel)
  • Aprendemos en el bosque

Center Names

  • Reading Trail
  • Woodsy Books
  • Math Hike
  • Computer Camp
  • Bosque de EspaΓ±ol
  • Woodsy Words (Word Wall)

Decor
The decor can vary so much but the main components of this theme can include trees, mushrooms, camping tent, woodland animals, campfire, bugs, plants, logs and s'mores. You can also add number accents, headings and bulletin board borders that have any of these images next to them or as a background.

Color Scheme
Your color scheme can be anything you like but the main colors for this theme are brown, green, red, blue, yellow, orange and other earthy tones. If you teach the primary grades like I did, you could also incorporate the primary or pastel colors into your decorations to make it more inviting and welcoming for your students. 

Class Signs and Miscellaneous
  • S'more Manipulatives
  • Camp Out With Us!
  • Woodsy Projects
  • Reading/Learning at the Campfire
  • Table numbers can be mushrooms, logs, bugs, other animal cutouts, trees, campfires or waterfalls.
Here are some great pics from other teachers that have these themes in their classrooms!
Source: Anonymous
Source: Anonymous
Pinterest your heart out and have fun finding more inspo on your upcoming classroom theme!
Drop a comment below on what themes you would like for me to feature next! πŸ™Œ

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2018 Best Classroom Themes & *Special Announcement*

Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Welcome to this edition of "Classroom Themes!" πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰ In researching the latest trends in classroom themes and new ideas for the upcoming school year, I've split the themes into 2 categories:

  • Classic
  • Trendy
There are 3 themes in each category. Feel free to explore and comment below what theme you'll be using in your classroom next school year! 😍

Classic Themes
Great Outdoors
Also known as Camping, Woodlands, or Forest theme. Many teachers are opting for the cool theme with decorations including woodland animals, camping tents and s'more!
Rainbow
Ah, the beautiful display of color EVERYWHERE! Who doesn't love a bright neon, pastel or simply colorful classroom? It's incredibly visually appealing and the kiddos feel so welcome and invited in a fun class.
Under the Sea
Different variations of this theme could be Nautical, Ocean, Beach, Sailing, or Sea Animals. You can really get creative with this theme, so cruise on over to Pinterest for more inspo!

Trendy Themes

Tropical
The highlights of this theme are chic pineapples, fun flamingos, tropical palm trees and gold accents. You may even opt to do a luau-themed classroom and add in some Hawaiian flair!
Hot Air Balloons/Travel
Soar into a class with hot air balloons or air planes on bulletin boards and centers around you. This theme is so versatile and can be changed to a travel theme by incorporating luggages, passports and different forms of transportation, too!
Watercolor
One of the trendiest this year is the watercolor theme. It's great because it can be combined with any theme you choose such as any of the ones listed above. They make signs pop out, add a colorful touch to the class and are relatively easy to make if you're a DIY super teacher! πŸ’₯
Now for the *Special Announcement*...
In the next post, I will be featuring ONE of these amazing classroom themes with ideas on:
  • Bulletin Board headings
  • Center names
  • Decor
  • Color Scheme
  • Class signs and more!
Stay tuned for this awesome reveal and make sure you participate by taking the poll on my IG stories this week @vipkidchanty! πŸ˜‰πŸ‘

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Classroom Organization

Thursday, June 7, 2018
If you follow me on IG, then you already know this topic was requested by so many teachers. It's no surprise that we all need a little motivation around the summer time to feel geared up and ready to take on the new school year in August!

In my previous schools, I had quite the reputation of being the "organized" and "simple" teacher who had everything she needed but maintained the classroom in somewhat of a fun yet neat environment all day long & all year long. Of course, when the super fun activities come around every so often, the class can get a bit messy but I always taught my students that an "organized space" was a "happy space." πŸ˜‰
Teacher Binder
Every teacher has a binder, planner, clipboard, or other way of keeping track of all of the important events in school, field trips memos, lesson plans, etc. I had my Teacher Binder organized by topic as seen above in the 1st and 2nd picture:
  • Lesson Plans
  • Pacing Guides
  • CCSS/NGSSS (Common Core State Standards & Next Generation Science Standards)
  • ELL Strategies
  • Miscellaneous Information
The teachers in my school were asked to maintain all of these components visible at your desk for observation and lesson planning purposes. Given that you have to refer to the standards for various content areas, it is very helpful to have them already in your binder when you're planning. Additionally, in the "Misc. Info" section, I kept a copy of the school calendar, parent permission slips, media release forms, allergy information, and other important things to note throughout the school year. 

Teacher Portfolio/Inspo
So, this is one of my favorite organization tips for the classroom. We, as teachers, can spend so much time and effort on our students, classrooms, with the parents and administration and we often need a reminder as to why we are in the class in the first place. One of my amazing mentors suggested to me (before my career began) that I maintain an *INSPIRATION* binder. I would later refer to it during the school year to see all the beautiful comments my students and parents had made to me, worthy quotes, drawings of the kiddos and I, and class photos we had taken on special occasions or just because. This really motivated me and kept me going all year long with my amazing students! πŸ’

Table Caddies
These table caddies are EVERYTHING!! I've used them to store all classroom supplies in my small group table, independent center tables, art area, library (library cards or bookmarks), and student group desks, as well (link attached to picture - Amazon). They are very durable, come in all bright primary/secondary colors, and can fit so many materials neatly while being accessible to all students simultaneously.

Student Desks
Question of the day: How many different ways can you display student desks?
Answer: SOOO MANY!
While an excellent layout of student desks can be visually appealing, it also makes the room look neat and organized and it can provide an ease of traffic flow throughout the various parts of the classroom. In my former school, I taught departmentalized classes which means I taught 3 content areas to 2 groups each day and the students would switch classes with my partner at midday. Given that I had 2 groups of students coming in and out of my class each day, I had to figure out a way to store their textbooks so that they would not get mixed up with another student's, stay clean and in good condition AND have them readily available and accessible to my kiddos each day.

Therefore, I decided to teach my students to place their textbooks, workbooks and journals in the following manner inside their desks:
  • AM class: on the left
  • PM class: on the right
My students LOVED this system and were so responsible with their belongings because they now had a sense of pride and ownership for their materials. 😍

Library
I will be writing a more in-depth blog post about creating the ideal and *PERFECT* classroom library soon but I wanted to give you an idea on how to keep it organized throughout the entire year. I implemented these rules each year with my students (that's right... WITH them because some of these were their ideas, too πŸ˜‰).
  1. Place shoes on the bin next to the carpet
  2. Be gentle and kind with our books and bins
  3. Return pillows to the corner when you finish using them
Among other rules we had in place, these were the main ones that caught their attention as well as all of our visitors (we had observation windows and in-class visits frequently). Our guests really enjoyed seeing the children read quietly, share books and laugh all the while the library was very neat and well kept.

Small Group/DI Centers
This is one of the storage caddies I utilized in my kidney table to store my DI center/small group materials (link attached to picture - Amazon). In the drawers, I stored writing utensils, paper, art materials, leveled reader books, whiteboards, and more. My DI center never seemed too crowded with extra supplies or messy because I also had a bin that stored the students' work after it was completed as well as file folder games and manipulatives.

Filing Cabinet (AKA "The Unknown")
How many of us have a different name for the infamous "Filing Cabinet?" 🀣We sure do love it, though.. when it's clean! I recommend getting some small storage bins from a dollar store and grouping objects in these bins in any order you'd like. It is by far the simplest method to tackle this monster! I usually place the curriculum guides any other heavy boxes in the lower shelves so I can simply drag them out without busting an eye or hitting my knee hurting myself.

Teacher's Desk
On my teacher's desk, I had a paper sorter (you can use any kind) that had laminated file folders with the days of the week covers. I would sort any books, flashcards, worksheets or sub plans in these folders the Friday before each new week began so that I was ready to begin my Monday mornings without rushing. I also had an additional paper sorter that contained the following stacks:
  • Grade
  • File
  • Copy
  • Later
These were very helpful because I knew exactly where everything needed to go, it helped me prioritize tasks (Teacher Ninja here πŸ’₯) and there were never any messes or stacks of paper laying on my desk. Remember, an "organized space" is a "happy space." πŸ˜‰

Feel free to share your class organization tips below or drop any questions you may have!

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Real Mom Life

Monday, June 4, 2018
Parenting... let's get REAL.

I've been noticing for a while now how everyone is so judgmental these days. I'm sure things were the same in the past, but in the 21st century, we're still being so petty with the same s***?

Here's what really gets to me. Why are some people who are not parents always saying things like:

"When I have a child, they're not going to be on tablets and phones all day.
My children are going to go outside and be normal.
My kids are not going to be antisocial.
My kids better behave when they're in public.
I'll just give them the 'look' and they'll know better.
I'm never going to give my kid a pacifier because it'll mess up their teeth.
I'm not going to drink in front of my kids because it'll set a bad example for them.
I'll never breastfeed in public because who wants to see that?
My kid is not going to watch TV all day.
I'm going to watch them ALL the time and never leave them without supervision."

You get the memo. The list can literally go on and on, and on, and on... Don't get me wrong, not everyone says these things. Obviously, we all have family and friends that are extremely supportive and for that, THANK YOU! We love you!! 😘

Personally, I am so tired of hearing other people talk about having kids like they have any clue what it's really like when your toddler throws a tantrum because they're hungry or tired in public. They don't know the stress we have on our bodies, mentally and emotionally, to have to breastfeed even though it hurts (but it's what's "best" for our children) and you have to feed them wherever you are because who is going to stay at home ALL DAY because you can't feed them in public?

Listen, at the end of the day, FED is BEST. I'm sorry but I don't care HOW you feed your children. You should be so incredibly proud of yourself for getting up every day and being able to care for a newborn/infant as best as you possibly can!

If parents have their kids on iPads or phones, it's probably for a reason or to help YOU enjoy your time in public and not ruin it for others (they're actually considering you're feelings!). Of course, anything in excess is not healthy so we know there are parents out there who simply put them on these devices to keep them busy but just think about what their day might have been like for one moment.

If your child is antisocial, they may have an underlying disorder that can be treated with help. If a parent gives a child a pacifier, it's probably just to soothe them. Again, don't jump to conclusions with their teeth (you're not paying their dental bills). If a mom wants to have a drink, she'll probably pump & dump if she's breastfeeding or if she just needs a drink, let her drink, people! Let the mama do what she wants! 🍹

SO PLEASE, if you don't have children, don't spend your time bashing moms or other parents simply because you don't agree with their parenting (at the moment). Let's try to support one another and be the friend they just might need. You never know what others are going through and like my momma always says, "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." ✌πŸ’œ

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