4th of July is the biggest deal where I live!  Our neighborhood has a parade with fire trucks, police cars, motorcycles, and bikes.  Then after the parade we have a huge picnic.  We shoot off fireworks until 10 pm...then we can watch the fireworks show put on by the lake a couple blocks away :)

It is the kind of party that def. has a "the more the merrier" attitude.  My children invite their friends from school (and their families).

I've been getting ready :)

I bought this basket about 15 years ago at Target, and it is great for outdoor parties.  All I do is put some colorful ribbons on the end.

I found this subway art on Pinterest.  It is from Autumn Ostund.  I printed it on card stock, and then put it in a frame from Hobby Lobby.

I loved this sign.  I works great inside and outside!

I found these little foam stars in a pack of three at the Dollar Store.  They are placed in all my outdoor flower pots.

This is not an original idea...there are about 500 recipes on Pinterest, but I make all the kids that come to our party a "red white and blue" drink.  In a clear cup (mason jar), with plenty of ice,   the drink with the most sugar gets poured first.  I use cranberry juice, then I pour blue Gatorade gently on top of the cranberry juice, and finally I add diet sprite.  (The diet sprite has the least sugar).  I've also read that you can use Sobe Pina Colada flavored drink instead of diet sprite.

I'm on a young adult kick.  I read Giver, Gathering Blue, and Messenger when I was working on my reading specialist.  My favorite has always been Gathering Blue. 

Son by Lois Lowery is my vacation book!  I'm so excited :)

What amazes most about Lois Lowery is how her books really make the readers visualize her writing, and then her books really make students think.  She also writes in a way that only reveals information in bits and pieces, and leaves the reader with lots of questions.  This can pose a challenge to struggling readers. 

I like using her books with "Questioning Journals."  This strategy is from Strategies that Work.  I have had great luck using this with students in fifth grade that struggle with comprehension.  Many times they just read the words and don't stop to think and process.

Before we even attempt a chapter book, I model the questioning strategy with picture books.   Maury County Literacy Links has some great picture books to use with all sorts of reading strategies!

These are three other of my favorite books to use to help students practice answering questions!


I say things like, "I wonder why this happened?" or "Why is the character thinking this?"  I ask lots of "why" questions.

I stop OFTEN and ask questions about what I'm reading.  Sometimes I feel that it is almost too much, but it really isn't for struggling readers. 

Then when they are reading, we stop after every page and they write down one question they have in their questioning journal about what they just read.  We pretty much go a page at a time (for an entire chapter) asking and answering their questions. 

We learn that sometimes the answers are right there in the text, sometimes they are inferred, and other times their question isn't answered. 

Here is a freebie to help students create an interactive questioning notebook.

I'm super excited to link up with 4th Grade Frolics and Made it Monday!
This week it was rainy, and I had fun :)  I set out a WHOLE bunch of crafts on the kitchen table (beads, dots, scrapbook paper, ribbon, glue, foam, and more) and my children had a BLAST.  I was able to do some adult crafts :)

I like using essential oils.  I don't eat them (just thought I'd throw that out there)!  I have a Pinterest Board, and I tried making two exciting bath products.

1)  Lavender Bath Salts

This was AMAZING!  I got the recipe from Real Food Enthusiast.  The labels are from Lia Griffith.  The whole bathroom smells amazing when I use it!

2 cups epsom salts
10-20 drops lavender essential oil

Add the epsom salts to a mixing bowl and break up any clumps.
Stir in the essential oils. Store in an airtight container.

2)  Peppermint Sugar Scrub.

I didn't love it!  It was kind of a flop.  I think I'll stick with my Bath & Body Works Scrub.  There is something about the texture that wasn't quite right.

We are going on a big trip with extended family and I made tshirts for everyone.  I really like the Hanes brand transfer paper (from Hobby Lobby).  I used PowerPoint...imported the picture, added the text, horizontally flipped the text*, and printed!  Then I ironed it on.

*To horizontally flip the text (mirror image) in PowerPoint, copy the text and paste it as a picture.  Then under the rotate button, you can click "flip horizontally." 

Advice:  If you use white text, it turns the color of the t-shirt.  My pink t-shirts ended up with kind of pink text instead of white text. 

Then I made more t-shirts with rhinestones for Pirate Night.  Being a dance mom comes in handy ;)

I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs for Five for Friday :)

1)  Last week I posted about my bizzare cornea infection...I'm leaving for vacation, and I still have to use 2 antibiotic drops and a steroid drop for 7 more days!!!  I actually picked up prescription sunglasses today.  The lady was very nice and gave me $10 off.  I think she felt bad for me!!! I cannot go to the beach wearing glasses! 

2)  I just finished The Chase.  It was a fun and easy book!

3)  I forgot to mention that I finished Orphan Train last week!  It was a great story :) I would give it ***** (5 stars)!  If you like history, you will love it.  It is amazing what life was like for people that were put on the orphan train.  It reminded me a little of Ann of Green Gables. 

4) The Lego Movie.  We have a $1 movie theater.  On a rainy day, it is a hit.  My 7 year old son LOVED the Lego Movie.  My 11 year old daughter also enjoyed it.  I'm happy I only paid $1.  Overall, it was well worth the $3!

5)  I've gotten into essential oils (but I don't ingest them).  You can checkout my Pinterest Board for ideas.  This is the brand I like.  If you use them, I'd love any ideas!

I'm linking up with Mrs. Jump's linky party- Let's Talk about Books Tuesday.

My daughter is going into sixth grade, and she told me I MUST read Flora and Ulysses!  I'm almost done :)

Flora is simply brilliant!  She is obsessed with comics, and frequently imagines what the "talk bubbles" would say in situations.  The saying she lives by is, “Do not hope; instead, observe.”  She often refers to her favorite bonus comic book Terrible Things Can Happen to You which has prepared for what might happen in case of an emergency.  For example, what to do if someone accidently eats plastic fruit! 

Ulysses is a squirrel that quickly becomes a main character.  I never thought I'd enjoy reading a book about a squirrel.  It is amazing how authors can make the uncommon quite interesting and creative.  Last year I loved Ivan, and this year I love Ulysses!

It was the Newberry Medal winner for 2014 and two words that I would use to describe it are: quirky and endearing.  In terms of teaching, this book has so much potential :)  It would be a fun read aloud.  It would also be a great book for students to read in a literature circle.  The vocabulary is so rich...words like cynic, malfeasance, and indomitable are in the first few pages!  There are frequent examples of figurative language, great potential for character analysis, and perfect for students to respond to events in the story. 

I'm super excited to link up with 4th Grade Frolics and Made it Monday!

My laundry room has never been decorated (in 16 years).  It was on my "to do" list to spruce it up!  It looks much better!!!
I bought this basket...right now it is full of sunglasses and baseball caps.  It replaces a white plastic basket.  I liked that it had a "laundry" feel to it!

I loved these sayings :)  Hobby Lobby had a sale last week...the most expensive was $8.99! "Do one thing everyday that makes you happy" hangs above our coat hooks.

These are the other two signs.  My daughter LOVED the Dream sign!  I liked the subway art one!  I found the key hooks at Restoration Hardware...years ago.

I updated my 4th of July Freebie!  It now also includes alphabet cards as well as sight words. 

I'm linking up with Michelle at Fabulous in First for Smorgasboard Sunday

1)  I made these bracelets with students that were struggling with either beginning sounds, blending cvc words, or sight words

2)  I have an eye infection.  Not a gross kind that keeps you home from school!!!  I didn't even know I had it!  I went to get new contacts, and I found out. I guess that there is an infection on my cornea and now I'm wearing my glasses (NOT COOL)!   Hopefully, when I go back on Thursday for a recheck, it will be all gone.  He did tell me that he was pretty sure it wasn't my contacts that caused it!  THANK GOODNESS!  I love my contacts!

My prescription hasn't changed in 7 years, so I decided to get new glasses.  Which only get worn during emergencies (like cornea infections).

These are my new glasses.  They were kind of fun, smart, cool, and sophisticated rolled into one :)  Okay, I'm not kidding anyone...they are still glasses!

3)  My son is having his first EVER sleepover at Great Wolf Lodge.  I've never been, but it looks AMAZING! I miss him terribly!!!! I almost asked if they would take me!

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