New Mini Sets and a Freebie

Hi there everyone! I’m back from visiting EDExpo in Atlanta.  I can’t wait to tell you all about it.  But first, I wanted to share a few new sets with you and a little freebie.

I love the colors of this first set.  It’s a St. Patrick’s Day set without the leprechaun green overload.  Not that I don’t love me some green, but sometimes you need something a little more subtle.  This set is a Shop for Shriners set, so all of the proceeds are donated to Shriners Hospital in Philadelphia where my daughter had surgery last summer.  We are so LUCKY to have Shriners in our life.

I loved the colors so much, I wanted to keep playing with them.  Here’s a little freebie for you to download:

I also added these two mini sets to my store:


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Peek Inside a Small Group Reading Lesson

This year has been a bit of a whirlwind.  I am teaching 30 minute small reading groups with 1st-4th graders this year--which I am completely in love with.


Holy moly.  The planning.  While I might have multiple groups in a grade, they don't all have the same needs.  So, four grades, multiple needs in each grade, and you've got a lot of planning.  This has also led to an astronomical increase in my TPT spending because with all the planning, I sure don't have time to make a bunch of resources for my lessons.
Here's a peek inside of a third grade lesson using one of my favorite resources.  I always start my lessons with a quick phonics review.  We usually complete a page or two from this book.  It says 4th-6th but easily works with 3rd.
I love these sets from Lakeshore.  (This is not a post for Lakeshore-just me writing about a resource I use.)   I often use articles from other sources, but I like these because they involve less planning/prep on my part.  Each box comes with four different folders. A folder contains teaching points, 6 copies of the story, and a comprehension activity.

Here's a close up of the set we're using this week:
First, we go through the vocabulary words.  While I do talk about the meaning of the word, I use this time to also talk about how to break words apart, any on the go phonics instruction I can sneak in, and what part of speech it is.  We then try to use the vocabulary words to talk about what is happening in the pictures.  It's fast and meaningful, then it's time to move on.  

Then, they read the article using a whisper phone.  (Also known as my favorite resource ever.)  I grabbed these half off at the beginning of the year sale from Lakeshore.
I also keeps a container of Clorox wipes at my table because these six whisper phones get used allllllll day long by lots of kiddos.

After that, we read through the article together.  Sometimes I read parts, but we usually work through one paragraph at a time.  Stopping to discuss along the way whatever is works with the section we've read:


•word solving strategies


•what the author meant

•text structure


•any good fix ups a reader made

Don't try to talk about more than one or two things when you stop though, or you'll take away from meaning plus it's just plain overwhelming for your kiddos.

We'll follow up the second and third day with rereads both silently and aloud to work on comprehension and fluency.  We'll continue to discuss the article and usually have some written response and multiple choice questions (can't escape standardized testing.)

I love Jen Jones' Common Core RIT: Reading Comprehension Sheets resource for quick written responses that require deeper thinking.  And what kid doesn't want to write a text message or hashtag to show what they've learned?  This resource is jam packed with engaging but higher level responses that work for any text.

Got any time saving tips for me for planning small group lessons?

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I Finished Whole30: 10 Tips That Helped Me Survive

I’m feeling pretty pleased with myself around here.  Earlier this week, I completed Whole30.  If you don’t know what that is, it’s not a typical diet.  It’s a way of eating that is healthier and helps you “reset” your body.  What are we talking here?

•No grains

•No sugar

•No legumes

•No dairy

Did I lose weight?  Sure did.  Seven stubborn pounds and happy with that considering I didn’t exercise (I know, I know, that’s next).  One reason that this worked for me is that I was never hungry.  I ate three meals a day and had a snack every once in awhile.  This girl does not do hungry.


It’s a lot more than a way to lose weight.  My allergies have disappeared (think the seasonal, sniffy kind.  I live in Houston, so all year is allergy season.)  My skin is a million times better.  My energy level is even, so no wanting to fall asleep at school at 2:00 but being wide awake at 10:30.  My intestines are happier.  I won’t go into that, but you can make any conclusions you want there.  It’s also the first time in my entire adulthood I’ve eaten guiltlessly.

If you’re looking for a Whole30 guru, I am not your gal.  You will want to read the book, It Starts with Food (do it or fail).  You’ll also want to check out this post, How Not to Suck at Whole30, from Rachelle at For Blogness’ Sake.

Here are some things I learned along the way:

Read the Book

Read it, read it, read it.  It’s the only way you’re going to make this work.  Otherwise you’re just saying no to all the things you like.  The book is a brain switch to start saying no to all the things that make you feel bad.  And they are making you feel bad.  You don’t even realize it.  How bad?  My Whole30 is finished, but I’m staying 95% compliant because of how good I feel.  I don’t want to lose that.

Join Instagram

Even if you do nothing else with it, the hashtag #whole30 was is a great go to for inspiration.  I saw yummy food, inspirational before and afters, compliant brands of food, basically a whole lot of good to keep me going.  Posting something?  Include the hashtag #teachersofwhole30, so that we can find and support each other.

p.s.  If you do this, do not take a picture of cupcakes or pizza that you’re not eating because of Whole30.  I did NOT enjoy it when I was scrolling through those pictures, feeling all good about my choices.  You don’t want to sabotage someone else in a weak moment.

Meal Plan

Next to not reading the book, not planning meals is going to be the biggest thing to derail you.  I made this cute little planning sheet to motivate me.  You’re welcome to download and use it.  My husband and I sit down ever Sunday and meal plan for the week before going grocery shopping.  Which leads me to my next tip . . .


Go to Pinterest.  Search Whole30.  Pin every food that looks good to you.  When we meal plan, we sit down at the computer with Pinterest pulled up.  We just keep scrolling until we find enough yummy looking food for the week.  Otherwise, we just stare at each other and have this conversation:

Me: “What do you want to eat this week?”
Him: “I don’t know. What do you want to eat this week?”
(This continues back and forth about 12 million more times.)

Here's my Whole30 board if you want to check it out.

Lettuce Scoops Are Your Best Friend

Yep.  Lettuce Scoops.  It’s how you can still eat tacos, chicken salad sandwiches, hot dogs, etc.  Pretty much anything can go on a lettuce scoop.  You’re welcome.

Up Your Data Plan

Grocery trips in the beginning take a looooot longer.  Mainly because you will spend half of your time googling things like “Guar Gum Whole30”.  This doesn’t really bother me.  It’s like being on a mission.  I don’t want anything to sneak past my “I Feel Good Barrier”.  It annoys the heck out of my husband though.

Quit Drinking Cokes Early

This is a big change for your body.  You have trained your body to like certain things.  Did you know sugar effects the same part of your body as heroine and cocaine?  Your first week is not going to be easy.  A lot of people have headaches the first week.  I think that has as much to do with caffeine as it does sugar/carbs.  I gave up drinking Cokes while I was still in the book reading stage because I knew everything else I was going to do was going to be hard, and I didn’t want to do all the hard things while seizing on the ground begging my family for a can of Coke Zero.

“I could never give up my Diet Coke.”  Yep.  Meth heads say the same thing.  Guess what?  You can.  You need it because you’re addicted.  After a few days or a week, you’ll be fine.  This is coming from the girl that drank three cans of Coke Zero/Diet Coke a day for nearly two decades.

Get a Nice Family and Some Good Friends

You need some support here.  My husband was very supportive.  Possibly because he agreed to do it with me then only lasted 3 days.  (FYI-He didn’t read the book.)  He helped me meal plan, shop, and cook.  He’s a good guy.
If your family is not supportive, ask them why they’re being turds.  Basically, you’re trying to make life changes so you can be healthier, live longer, be happier (food does CUH-RAZY things to your hormones), have more energy, and look sassier.  Can they not help you with that for 30 days?  I’m not saying my kids ate spaghetti squash, but we all had meatballs in tomato sauce.  Mine was on spaghetti squash, their’s was on pasta.

I had a lot of support from some blogging friends who were starting Whole30 also.  Find a tribe.  We shared successes and places to find compliant bacon.  That’s right, bacon.  Any diet that includes bacon is doable.

Like Eggs

If you don’t like eggs, breakfast is going to be hard.  Start liking eggs right now.  Search a million different ways to eat them on Pinterest.  There are going to be a lot of eggs.

Cook Too Much

Cook more than you need.  Enough for lunch the next day and hopefully a serving to freeze.    It’s nice to have those extra meals to grab when you end up without enough for lunch or a new recipe is an epic fail.

Was it hard? Yep.  I am I glad I did it?  Yep a million times over.  Because my family is supportive but not to the point of listening to me obsessively discuss how great Whole30 is and whether I will ever find compliant breakfast sausage or not, I started another blog to ramble on about this stuff.  If you want to follow along with me, I started another blog, Clean Eating • Messy Kitchen.  {I was originally going to call it Clean Eating • Dirty Kitchen.  I think it sounds catchier, but I was concerned the Dirty Kitchen part was going to give people Hoarders visions.}

Are you trying Whole30?  Thinking about it?  Or just think I’m crazy?

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