Happy New Year and New Adventures!

Wow! I blinked and 2015 was GONE! 

My little family has had an interesting year. We are soooo ready to close the book on 2015- never to be opened again. 

The new year always brings with it a sense of freshness.  Fresh starts, fresh habits, fresh adventures....

Some new adventures that I am nervous excited about for 2016 are:

  ♥ returning to a single teacher classroom with only 20 2nd grade loves
   ♥  diving head first into lots of Whole Brain Teaching fun with hopefully (fingers crossed) fantastic results
   ♥  encouraging my school loves to create and maintain SMART goals that will set them up for success in life

   ♥  kicking up family time with some extra curriculars that all of us will enjoy
   some rockin' vacations that will definitely show my hidden adventurous side
  ♥ guilt free time for myself to reflect on personal growth as a Christian, wife, momma, teacher, and friend

So as 2016 begins, I leave 2015 and you all with this quote:

Expect the dawn of a new beginning in the dark nights of life. -Lloyd John Ogilvie

Now off to learning, laughter, and love...

What a Whirlwind!

It has been quite a while since I have been able to sit down and blog.   Between meeting new students, new parents, PD meetings, lesson plans, grade level meetings, being a wife and a mom, I have been just a bit busy. 

However, I am here to finish a post that I started before school started. 
My Favorite Beginning of the Year Read Alouds:

(To recap- #10-Today I Feel Silly; #9- The Kissing Hand; #8- Nugget and Fang; #7- Chrysanthemum; #6- Swimmy)

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#5 The Teacher from the Black Lagoon
The main character in this book shows kids that it could be worse than what they are going through. :)  
My students love to see on each page how this horrible teacher solves the students' problems. 

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#4- First Day Jitters
This is a very common first day of school read aloud, but it would not be the first day without reading it.  
The students who have heard it read before always keep quiet to the very end for the surprise (the teacher is the one with the jitters-shh). 

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#3- Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon
This is for sure one on my favorites, not just for the beginning of the year, but for all year.  Molly is a tiny little thang who won't let anyone get her down.  
I love how this book teaches my students to look for the positive in what they think are their weaknesses. 

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#2- How Full is Your Bucket
This is a great book to visually show kids about saying kind things verses non-kind things.  
Students can see the bucket above everyone in the story heads.  We pretend to have buckets on our heads and practice with partners how to fill others' buckets.  Great team building activity for the first day!  
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#1-How I Spent My Summer Vacation
Wallace gets kidnapped during his summer vacation and writes home to tell all about his adventures becoming a real cowboy. 
This is a great read aloud to get my students excited about writing to tell about their summer vacation.  The kids find this book funny and it is a great example to see how much detail they can add to their writing.  

Now off to more learning, laughter, and loving! 
(I promise I won't be gone as long this time.)                                               

My Top 10 Beginning of the Year Read Aloud Books (Part 1)

It's almost here! And by here, I mean the FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!!  

This is one of the best and most nervous days I have all year.   There is so much that has to be accomplished in 7.5 hours.  This day is one that can not get a redo.  The kids are just as nervous as I am.  I like to set the tone for the day and year with great read aloud picture books.  With all my newbies surrounding me on the carpet, I love the warm fuzzy environment that is created for a great start to the year. 

I will be writing today about my top 10 favorite Beginning of the Year read aloud books (part 2 coming on Friday).   

Top 10:
10: Today I Feel Silly                    
This book is about about all types of feelings that we have.  

It is perfect for the first day of school because the kids have so many feelings on that day.  They know those little butterflies are in their stomach but they can't quite put their finger on which feeling is causing it.  This book helps them figure out which feeling it is.  

9. The Kissing Hand
What a classic! In The Kissing Hand, Chester is nervous about going to school. His mother shows him a family secret to make sure he is not nervous. 

Many younger grades read this and I have found that when my 2nd grade students get to me, they have heard this story several times.  However, it is a classic for the first day of school and should not be skipped.
8. Nugget and Fang
Nugget and Fang shows a great friendship between two very different creatures of the sea. When Nugget goes to his 1st day of school, he learns that his classmates are afraid of sharks, like Fang. 

The students really love this book.  As a bonus, it teaches that they can be friends with different types of people.  

7. Chrysanthemum 
This story is about a little one who has an unusual name and has to deal with classmates who tease her about her name. 

I love this book because it teaches self-esteem skills, acceptance of yourself, and dealing with teasing.  It also helps that I LOVE Kevin Henkes. 

6. Swimmy
Swimmy shows a group of scared fish how to work together and be problem solvers to overcome a difficult situation. 

I like grouping the students together to brainstorm solutions to "What if" situations for the school year after reading this book.  It starts our classroom community and teamwork off on a great foot.

Be sure to come back on Friday to see the conclusion to "My Top 10  Beginning of the Year Read Aloud Books". 

Until then, off to more learning, laughter, and love!


It is the beginning of the month, so that means... CURRENTLY.   

I am linking up with Farley at Oh Boy 4th Grade. I love her once-a-month Currently to see what everyone is up to.  

Listening: My husband has gotten me started watching (one eye on computer, one eye on TV) "Fat Guys in the Woods" on the Weather Channel.  It is pretty funny, probably my favorite survival show so far.  

Loving- Friends who will love me enough to give me advice on motherhood, TpT, fashion, etc no matter what time I call, text, or IM them have made me such a better person. It really lifts my spirits to know that I have such wonderful women who I can call friend. 

Thinking- Summer always messes with my sleep schedule.  I do okay with staying up until 1 or 2, except on Saturday nights.  Sunday morning comes EARLY to get everyone out the door to Victory Baptist Church for Sunday School.  My usual Sunday morning hashtag #latebutstillgoing.

Wanting- Living in Central Florida does not make for the best weather on summer days.  We have had rain (Noah came by on a boat today) every day for a week.  Not just a little rainstorm... Thunder and lightning is very, very frightening.  I love the rain, but I wish I could get some extra dry summer days with my kiddos to get in a few more extra summer memories.

Needing- We are soooo excited! We are getting Seasonal Disney Passes this year. Our best friends and grandmas are also going to have the passes. We can't wait to make our Disney memories this year.  August 14th will be the 1st day we can go with our Disney bands.  Mickey, see you real soon!

B2S RAK- We had 2 new teachers join our team in December and another has moved to our grade level from 3rd.  I can't wait to shower my team with surprises during our teacher workdays!

Now off to more learning, laughter, and love (and sleep).

Family Church Camp

My family had the BEST WEEK EVER last week! Our church (VBC- Plant City woohoo) has a staycation family camp once a year.   This was our first year attending and it will NOT be the last! 

It starts on Sunday morning with great kickoff services for morning and evening worship.  Then, we get to sleep in our OWN beds (doesn't that sound fantastic- says the germaphobe)! Starting on Monday morning and going through Wednesday morning, we get to have a church provided wonderful buffet breakfast at Fred's Market in Plant City.   If you love breakfast, it is a bucket list stop if you are ever in Central Florida (between Orlando and Tampa). We are talkin' eggs, bacon, grits, fried chicken (yep!), pork chops (yep again!), hash browns, french toast, pancakes... hungry yet?  

We had the best fellowship during breakfast and then off to church we went for more praise and worship time as a family.  We had fantastic preachers who really showed us what the Bible tells us about being in God's will and how life will not work otherwise (great for this Momma to hear)! 

Between services during the week, we got to spend time with our family really building up our relationships with each other.  Between a mall scavenger hunt, bowling, pizza, laughs, and giggles, we had the best time during our "down time" in the afternoons!  (See super cute video)! 

It was such a great recharge of our batteries, and we did it all while PRAISING THE LORD!! 

Now off to more learning, laughter, and love!!

My Favorite Picture and Big Reveal!

It's that time again! I am linking up with I Heart Grade 3.  This week's topic is My Favorite Picture.   

Oh, there are so many to choose from. Having a camera at my fingertips on my phone makes for one click happy mama.   I have so many pictures that I love, it was so hard to choose.  After scrolling through tons of pictures, I found one that sums us up pretty well. 

We live in mostly sunny central Florida and we love SALT WATER!   This picture is in one of our family's most favorite places- Boca Grande, FL.   It is not a complete summer without us making at least one trip down to the island.  

This picture says so much about us as a family as well.  Cale grinning and bearing the picture. Bailey the poser and Justin not happy about having to stop his activities to appease his mother with another a picture. Also, the one missing from the pic is my hubs. This is truly a reflection of our family because we rarely see him down in Boca Grande. He is usually out bowing to tarpon and catching snook! It is our own little tropical oasis! 

Now for the BIG news! As you have probably already noticed my blog has had a complete Extreme Makeover!  Laine at A Little Peace of Africa has done a FANTASTIC job taking my personality and putting it into blog form.  She has been great to work with and I would recommend her to everyone! We have also changed the domain to  www.learninglaughterandlove.net

This is now officially my happy place to come and share my classroom and family ideas and tips with all of you!

Now off to more learning, laughter, and love! 

The Best Trip of My Life.... So Far!

It is once again time for a blog link up with I Heart Grade 3 for the Weekly Summer Link Up! 

The topic this week is The Best Trip of My Life. My best trip was a family vacation to Gatlinburg, TN and North Georgia in the summer of 2012. Our kids were just at the perfect age to begin real car travel (6, 5, and 3), so we had not been on ANY big vacations as a family (we were overdue).  We traveled caravan style with my parents so it was super nice for the kids to be able to hop back and forth between cars at pit stops when Jason and I  the kids were ready for a change of noise level scenery. I did lots of research on Pinterest before we left.  I got lots of fun car activities that would keep them interested for a 10 HOUR drive.  

Magnets and Cookie Sheets ROCK!

We were so excited to get there and explore the outdoors, away from the car.  The kids enjoyed trying to find creatures in the stream.  However, with no luck at that, they resorted to skipping throwing rocks in the stream. 

In the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area, we explored Cades Cove, the 8 Mile Craft Community Loop, and Smoky Mountain Knife Works. We even had a fun time trout fishing! We weren't on any schedule and had a blast. 

The second half of our trip was spent in North Georgia with my husband's grandparents.  We LOVED spending time with them. Blackberry picking, nature hunts at the lake (without alligators), sightseeing, and catching lightning bugs. VACATION SUCCESS! 

Do the pictures show the overtired, whining kids during the vacation? No.  Do they show memories being made? Absolutely! These are the memories that make this the Best Trip of My Life, so far......

Now off to more learning, laughter, and love!

New things to come!!!!!

I am so excited.  There are lots of fun things happening behind the scenes at Learning, Laughter, and Love this summer. Hint: Extreme ____________!  Stay tuned to find out!!! 

Where I Was 5 Years Ago!

Today's linky party on I Heart Grade 3 is a throwback to my life 5 years.    

Five years ago is somewhat of a blur for me.  You see I only thought I knew what tired was before having kids. Yeah right!  On this date five years ago, I had a (just turned) 5 year old, 3 year old, and a 1 year old.   My husband and I were like two ships passing in the day and night.  Since we were so tired and not remembering much, this post will be in pictures to help me recall my life back then. Cue the harp back in time music......

All of my babes are summer birthdays. We celebrate A LOT!

Girly Time Tea Party
The Bubs

Zoo Play Time with the Massive One (Almost Two Year Old)
LOTS of Summer Playtime

And finally.......
How we ALL felt when Summer came to an End

Happy Throwback Monday everyone!
Now off to more learning, laughter, and loving with my babes.  Time really does fly! Make the most of it. 


Today I am linking up with Oh' Boy 4th Grade with a Currently post.  I have stalked seen these forever on teacher blogs and so excited to be linking up with my first one!
Listening: Netflix is a dangerous thing.  I don't watch network television because it is never convenient when I want to watch. Hawaii Five-O, the new version, is my newest love.  Burn Notice was my last love and Hawaii Five-O has the same dynamics. 

Loving: It has been great this summer to be able to say "Go outside and swim".  In central Florida, the heat is killer but it is the HUMIDITY that does us in.  My kids love walking out and jumping in the pool. Bonus: I can work inside while watching them having fun outside. 

Thinking: Laundry is the bane of my existence.  Five people in a house makes for never ending cycle of laundry.  In the summer, we just switch from socks to bathing suits. Unfortunately, when it is something I can't stand to do, I procrastinate horribly.  Needless to say, I still have laundry to do as I type. UGH!

Wanting: Between hubs, kids, church, house, laundry (see above), bills, TPT, I could just use a few more hours in the day.  Maybe just long enough for a good run and a relaxing bath.  Sounds nice just pondering it. 

Needing: How can you ever have too much chocolate? I mean I don't see how that is such a thing.  Dove, Hershey, Godiva... All my friends.  The darker the better, but I am not picky.  Mmmmm good!

All Star: So my summer schedule has officially kicked in.  Stay up late working on TPT and sleep in until 8 (yes that is sleeping in when you have 3 active kids). This schedule helps me catch up on Golden Girls, King of Queens, and Frasier. In the words of Olaf, "In SUMMER!!" !

Now off to more learning, laughter, and loving....  

Fruits of the Spirit

So I know that I am very OCD a teacher at heart.... But when I am working on a church project and complete lesson plans for myself, it hits me. I AM A TEACHER!

My best friend and I are putting together a Mom's Morning Out/Bible Club for the kids in our church and their friends.  We wanted a theme that would reach from ages 4- 5th grade.  The Fruits of the Spirit seemed like something that would have application to all the age groups while at the same time one lesson would work with everyone (we have a small children's department).  That is where the lesson plans come in....

We even had a positive behavior system at church. (Can we say OCD structured?) The kids could earn Fruit Bucks by participating, positive attitude, showing a fruit spirit.  

 The kids surprised us both and LOVED the Fruit Bucks as well as the curriculum.  We can't wait until next week!
Our Main Verse and Our Theme Verse for This Week
Getting Excited about Bible Club
Craft Time
Crafts and Bible Verse

Blessing and Lunch