August 27, 2010

We hold these truths to be self-evident…..

After posting my last blog I found out that Al Roker was not doing a public service announcement. He was doing a commercial. I was corrected by my husband who was actually watching the television program. I was multi-tasking by cooking dinner while watching television. I was having a little trouble hearing Al over the buzz of the microwave.

Which leads me to tell you about the Gilmore Creed.
My three sisters and I were the original Gilmore Girls.

                                                        Gilmore Girls In Your Easter Bonnet circa 1964

Here is our creed….
We hold these truths to be self-evident….

Truth #1 You never let the truth interfere with a good story. Don’t you just hate it when one of your kids says, “Mom, that’s not what really happened.” Like it really matters if it makes a good story!

Truth #2 Anything worth doing is worth OVERDOING!
This is especially true when dealing with a large family gathering and food. Someone once told me “less is more”. That is just ridiculous! Less is less. MORE IS MORE!

Truth #3 Everything looks better with a bow.
I am an excellent bow maker. Last Christmas I made one hundred and twenty-three bows for the altar guild at church. Every poinsettia in the entire church had a bow on its pot. It was all lovely!

(Refer back to Truth #1 about a good story and to Truth #2 about overdoing.)

I like to think of it as embellishment!

We are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and (to embellish in) the pursuit of happiness.

So, go forth today and embellish in the pursuit of happiness!

Last night, Kate was handing out cards from her Fancy Nancy notes to everyone in the room. This was mine…

               Fancy Nancy knows about embellishments!

August 21, 2010

Welcome Back to School

Last week I saw Al Roker of the Today show on television doing a public service announcement about how much teachers spend out-of-pocket on their classroom supplies. He said that teachers spend an average of $500 each year. I spent 20+ years working in an educational supply store. For some teachers (especially those who teach in the lower grades) that number seems a little low.

One year during Back to School, I was in the store working at the check out counter. In the long line were a young first-year teacher and her mother. Since it was her first classroom her mother had come with her to buy her a few things. The bill came to about $60. When they finished the young teacher turned to her mother and said, “Thanks, Mom, but just think we won’t have to do this next year.” A seasoned veteran teacher was behind her in line. She said, “Honey! (We are from Texas.) You have no idea! I have been at this for 23 years and I am still buying stuff!”

I have been out of the store for four years now. I wondered if the teachers are still buying stuff so I took a field trip this week to two local stores to see for myself what teachers were buying. (Thank you to Teach Mart in Keller, TX, and Teacher’s Tools in Hurst, TX.)

My Shopping Field Trip

Here is what I found in my research.

Calendars and class schedules are still essentials.

Things need to match!
Poppin’ Patterns make that easy!

Dots on chocolate are really sweet!

My School Field Trip

After a day in the stores, I went to visit some teacher friends at our local elementary school. First grade teacher, Rachel Boyd, was getting ready. This year she was moved from second grade to first grade so she was making a few adjustments in her classroom. Thursday was “Meet the Teacher” night so she had lots to do to get ready before the kids and parents got there.

.....desks to be arranged

…..books to be unpacked

… to be organized.

……names to be printed on name plates .

……”Welcome” letters to be written.

Did I mention that it was 103 degrees that day!
What happened to starting school in the fall!

Why do teachers continue to spend money and do this all this work?

If you asked the teachers they might mention that they spend most of their days in their classrooms. They want their surroundings to be pleasant and comfortable. They would surely mention that they want their kids to be successful and to pass THE TEST!

But most of all, the reason they do all this is for the anxious little girl walking through the kindergarten door on “Meet the Teacher” night.

Teachers want each child to feel “at home” and excited and ready to learn!

To my precious friend, Sandi Hill, who gives all her kindergarteners the gift of believing in themselves!

To my granddaughter, Kate, welcome to this new great adventure!

I am so happy that this year the two of you will be together!

                                Welcome to School!

August 16, 2010

In Praise of Books

Today the children responded with open delight
as I read them a story
which was written over one hundred fifty years ago
and half a world away.
A story which was read to me when I was their age,
every night upon demand.

And now it is their turn, Father,
to receive this story in joy,
and claim it for their own.

What a marvel language is,
that it can freeze an author's thoughts and emotions,
and preserve them,
until they melt into the mind and heart
of the reader.

What a wonder words are,
that they can transcend space and time,
class and race,
uniting your sons and daughters
in literary fellowship.

Father, thank you for books.
Thank you for children.
And thank you for the delightful privilege
of bringing the two together.

Bringing books and children together....

This was a delightful day in April when we had the privilege of bringing the two together.

The poem is from a wonderful little book called Chalkdust...Prayer Meditations for Teachers by Elspeth Campbell Murphy.

The books the children are reading are from CTP's new Fun and Fantasy series from the Learn to Read collection.  To find out more about the books go to and search for Learn to Read.  You can choose from hundreds of books.

The children are from the Pre-K class at Premier Academy in Keller, Texas. Thanks for sharing your class with us.

But, the sentiment is all mine.....

It is a joy and privilege to bring together children and books.

August 9, 2010

I Love Chocolate!

I went on an exciting vacation with the family.  I went to New Jersey for a wonderful workshop with a hundred teachers.
Then, I returned home to find that CTP has all the new products for the new release ready to ship. Now, that means I have to go to work....enough fooling around!

One of the favorite parts of my job is to take the new stuff and use it the way teachers would use it.  Working with this release has been fun. Next week, I will have pictures of some of the things that I have been making.   

Yesterday, Trevor informed me that school starts for him in two weeks.  He will be going into fourth grade.  Kate starts kindergarten.  She is SO ready.  I am not sure that kindergarten is ready for her! It is an exciting time for kids and a busy time for teachers!

It is always fun to decorate your class around a certain theme. What is your theme is for this year?  Click on comments below and leave a message or a picture. 
This year my favorite is CHOCOLATE.

CTP started the chocolate craze a couple of years ago and the theme has grown and grown.  Go to to see all the Dots on Chocolate.  They are really SWEET!

New this year is the Dots on Chocolate Classbook bulletin board.  This is already one of our best sellers. It is a great interactive way to start off the year.

 Haleigh, Trevor, Isabella and Savanah volunteered to help me with this display.  We had a great time putting everything together.  In this picture Haleigh is putting the pieces on a magnetic white board.  Meanwhile,  the others were working on the pieces to go on the board.  After a few minutes one of them said, "Hey this is like Facebook only I can do this!  My mom doesn't let me post on the real Facebook. I can post on this!" 

There is so much to the kit.  There is a poster for class rules, a welcome poster, and well as the "classbook" part.

Post your own rules.  I tried to come up with ones that were positive instead of "don'ts".
I printed the rules on colored paper and posted them in the circles of the chart.

Check out Isabella's profile.  Individual cards are included in the kit so each child can post his or her own profile.  There is a reproducible  sheet inside the bulletin board kit for the kids to write their profile information.   It is like an "all about me" sheet. After the kids complete their information the pages can be bound together to make a class book.  The kids can read to find out more about each other.

My helpers were completing the pages to go in their book.  I heard Trevor say to Savanah , "Oh, you read Harry Potter.  I do, too.  Which ones have your read?"   This book is a good conversation starter.

The last part of the page has a place for a joke.  This is an example of third grade humor. 
Where do Hogwarts go to the bathroom?   In the Harry Potty!

If you mount the major pieces of the bulletin board to a magnetic board you can simply change out the spotlight, blog, newsfeed, and notes by using printed pages attached with magnets.  The teacher or kids can update the blog and news feed daily.  Of course, I covered the magnets with the mini dots on chocolate cut outs to make them sweet too.

The bulletin board kit co-ordinates with all the dots on chocolate products such as the jumbo and mini dots, name plates, name tags, letter stickers, border and designer letters in dots and the new designer letters with stitches on chocolate

So as you get ready for another school year....
Don't miss out on the chocolate!

What are you doing in your classroom???