Author Archives: Sallie

An Honest Look at the Cons of Becoming a Teacher

An Honest Look at the Cons of Becoming a Teacher

An Honest Look at the Cons of Becoming a Teacher

Although I had always wanted to be a teacher, I left the classroom for a variety of reasons. Some of those I shared in the post Why Teachers Quit Teaching Mid-Year. But the majority of the reasons are below.

I believe it is vitally important to have honest conversations about the downsides or cons of becoming a teacher. I think some people enter the teaching profession with blinders on despite having  the best of intentions regarding their future vocation.

The field of education can be tremendously rewarding. But teaching is demanding, with downsides not always fully explored or understood by those considering it as a career. If I can save even a few people from making the wrong choice, then I am happy that my own experiences and understanding benefits others.

When asked why a person becomes a teacher, among the most oft-cited reasons are loving children and wanting to make a difference in the lives of students. While these are good and noble reasons, there are aspects to teaching that many people do not consider in advance and that might not necessarily show up on personality profiles and testing.

Here are six frank questions prospective teachers should ask themselves before committing to a career in education.

One Building All Day?

Do you find it enjoyable being in one place all day? Many jobs offer a great deal of freedom in terms of being able to come and go to meetings with clients, set your own work schedule, etc. Teaching is not one of them. Teachers are in one building and one classroom all day with often very little adult interaction. How will you feel if you end up in an interior classroom and don’t see the outside all day? No sunshine? A teaching job definitely brings with it a need to be in one place all the time.

Is Loving Children Enough?

What is your motivation for working with children? Is it a desire to have children someday and teaching will suffice until then? Or does this love of children transcend putting up with and loving poorly parented ones with many issues?

Many women love children and look forward to having their own family. They see teaching as a way to enjoy children in the meantime. This is fine when working with nice, well-behaved children. But will you feel the same way when the children are demanding, poorly behaved children whose parents won’t do anything about it and you have to deal with them all day, every day for nine months?

Meeting Unrelenting and Unrealistic Demands?

How effectively are you able to function in a situation where you can never meet the demands before you and yet you will be judged by whether or not you do? Teachers are expected to do everything and be everything to every one of their students. The educational demands placed on teachers today are simply not attainable. Can you cope with the relentless expectations, knowing you can never meet them? For a perfectionist, this may be especially challenging and overwhelming.

Introvert or Extrovert?Brain Breaks Mini Ad

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? If you aren’t sure how to answer this, ask yourself where you draw energy to renew yourself. From being alone or from being with people? Introverts need time alone every day in order to function well. Extroverts thrive on being with people and draw energy from others. Introverts may find teaching very challenging when it means they have very little time alone to recharge.

I found this factor to be one of the biggest negatives about teaching. If you are in a school with a bit more autonomy, you can find ways to do what you need as an introvert. But there are other situations (and principals) that will be poor matches for someone strongly introverted.

Love Teaching or School?

Does you love both teaching and school? Many people enjoy the teaching and learning aspect of being a teacher. But the teaching profession also involves school. School is all of the other “stuff” with which a teacher must contend each day such as management issues, student behavior modification plans, helicopter parents, administration, district demands, etc. A love of learning and subject matter isn’t enough. That is only a small portion of the job.

Giving Up Personal Freedom

Are you willing to give up a great deal of personal freedom? Teachers do very little of their own scheduling. Schedules are generally dictated by school-wide specials schedules (art, music, physical education, languages) as well as the school recess and lunch schedule. Teachers literally cannot use the bathroom unless they have an open time in their schedule when the students are elsewhere. How do you honestly feel about that? Do you want to work like that for years? Decades?

While it is true that teachers get a few longer vacations, the reality is that teachers have very little freedom when it comes to their schedule. They get their vacations when the school says they do. Teachers get personal days and sick days, but planning for a substitute teacher is almost as bad as just going to school sick so teachers often do not take days off even when necessary.

Teachers have almost no freedom in planning any kind of vacation outside of the normal school schedule. Personal time away from school is almost non-existent during the school year. How do you feel about having your autumn, winter and spring completely locked in every year?

Teaching can be a rewarding career for the right person. There were parts of it I truly loved. But there were negative aspects I truly didn’t comprehend until I was in the thick of it. I hope honestly examining the negative aspects of teaching will help those considering a career in the field to approach it with their wide eyes open.

5 Tips for a Great Christmas Letter

5 Tips for a Great Christmas Letter

5 Tips for a Great Christmas Letter

One of my favorite parts of Christmas is reading the personal notes and letters that come in the mail. I enjoy catching up with people I haven’t seen in a long time. The best Christmas letters are easy to read and contain memorable information. They are written well, get to the point, and look nice. Whether sent on their own or tucked in a Christmas card, the letter can be a fun part of the season. Here are what I think are the secrets to a great letter!

Write It for the Reader

Write your Christmas letter for the reader. Think about the recipients and what they would like to hear. What would they find interesting? What would be irrelevant to them? Consider what the recipients would enjoy and focus there.

Hit the Highlights

The key of a well-written Christmas letter is to catch everyone up on life, not put them to sleep or wish they had never opened the mail. Too many names and unimportant details will cause the reader’s eyes to glaze over.  Avoid giving an extended blow-by-blow account of everything that happened every week of every month. Choose a couple of the best parts of the year and write about them.

It is definitely okay to include information about something sad or disappointing. Being real is a good thing and most people appreciate honesty. But most people don’t feel the need to know every detail of every major and minor event over the previous year. Give them quality to read, not quantity.

Make It Fun and Memorable

Add humor. Have the baby write it. Tell it from the perspective of your toddler. Allow the cat or dog to do an exposé on the family. Taking the perspective of a normally non-letter writing member of the family adds a bit of whimsy and will probably draw most people in very quickly.

The first few years of Caroline’s life, we wrote our Christmas letter from her perspective. People LOVED them. People would reference those Christmas letters verbatim months later.

Choose an appropriate Christmas stationary whether it is contemporary, cutesy, country or classic. The easiest way to do this is to choose some of the Christmas stationary available at office supply stores or order Christmas stationary online .

Keep It to One Page

Again, think of the reader. If at all possible, limit it to double-spaced on the front of the page. Definitely do not make it longer than the front and back of an 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of paper. If someone pulls your letter out of the envelope and feels overwhelmed by the length before even starting, it may never get read at all. Play around with different fonts and point sizes to find what works, but avoiding making it so tiny that people find it difficult to read. It may fit on a page, but if it is a hassle to read, it will never get read.

Proofread It

Proofread the letter, put it away for a day and then proofread it again. Then ask someone else to proofread it and offer feedback. A fresh look at it from someone else will almost always bring about a couple of worthwhile suggestions to make it even better.

Writing a Christmas letter each year is a great way to connect with friends and family. What are some of your tips for a great Christmas letter? What was in the best Christmas letter you remember receiving?

Ministering to Infertile Couples at Christmas

Ministering to Infertile Couples at Christmas

Ministering to Infertile Couples at Christmas

I’ve written before at length about our long experience with childlessness. I know from personal experience that for many couples dealing with infertility, holidays can be tough. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day most readily come to mind. But Christmas would also rank very high on that list. For the couple without children, Christmas can present some difficult and heartbreaking situations.

A Child-Centered Holiday

The entire holiday of Christmas revolves around the birth of a baby and his parents. Every carol speaks of a baby. We reflect on Mary and Joseph, the parents, and their roles in the birth.
Activities and celebrations are usually centered on family, especially children. The children’s Christmas program at church is often one of the highlights of the season. Families gather at church on Christmas Eve, bringing along their little ones brimming with excitement. It is easy for the childless couple sitting there in the pew to feel like outsiders in almost every sense of the word.

An Unwelcome Calendar Milestone

Christmas is also such a regular milestone in the calendar of our lives that it often a reminder that another year has passed and there is still no baby in the nursery. Dealing with childlessness can be easier during the regular daily living of the rest of year. But when Christmas comes around again, it is almost impossible to ignore that another entire year has passed with a dream still unfulfilled.

So how can people best minister to a childless couple during the Christmas season?

Ask What They Need

The most obvious place to start is oftentimes the most overlooked. If you know the couple well enough, ask them what they need.

  • Do they need privacy?
  • Do they need busyness to distract them from their heartache?
  • Do they need a “normal” Christmas celebration like everyone else?
  • Do they need to go out of town?
  • Do they need to spend time with their nieces and nephews?
  • Do they need a shoulder to cry on?

Only the couple will know what they need during the Christmas season and that need could change from year to year. What might have been a blessing last year could be a burden this year.

If you think even asking the question might be painful, send a handwritten note, expressing your desire to love them during this time of the year and asking how you can best minister to them.

Involve Childless Couples in Church Celebrations

It is natural to focus on the children during Christmas. Their joy and anticipation is everywhere! But those without children have just as much to offer in the celebration of Christ’s birth as the families.

There are many ways to involve them in the celebrations. Again, ask them how they would like to be involved. This could include:

  • Doing an Advent reading
  • Being a narrator in the Christmas program
  • Organizing a caroling party for the shut-ins
  • Organizing a food drive for the needy
  • Decorating the church

Pray, Pray, Pray

Pray for the couple. All believers are in need of prayer and this is especially true for the childless couple at Christmas. Ways to pray for them include:

  • That God would sustain them and give them emotional and physical strength
  • That they would find joy in Christmas celebrations
  • That the peace of God that transcends all understanding would guard their heart and mind in Christ Jesus
  • That the Holy Spirit would move others around them to bless them and encourage them
  • For God to grant them the desire of their heart and give them a child

Never underestimate the importance of the ways you choose to love and bless your infertile brothers and sisters in Christ as they continue their journey this year. Your thoughtfulness and kindness may make a tremendous difference in their Christmas celebration.

Gifted Children in the Classroom from a Teacher's Perspective

Gifted Children in the Classroom from a Teacher’s Perspective

Gifted Children in the Classroom from a Teacher's Perspective

Over the past couple of years I’ve participated in a number of groups for parents of gifted/2e children. I see the same questions voiced over and over again. I want to respond, but I don’t want to appear negative and I don’t have time to write out a lengthy response each time.

This post is that response.

And it is lengthy.

If you are new to my site, I’m a former elementary teacher. I taught in private, Christian, Classical Christian and charter schools. I have a gifted/2e daughter who is currently nine. We have always homeschooled because I knew based on my time as a teacher that my daughter would not thrive in a traditional classroom. She’s too creative, imaginative, busy and talkative to sit down and be quiet for eight hours a day. We have made and continue to make a lot of sacrifices to homeschool her because we truly believe it is our only choice. (I know this because I called our Blue Ribbon Elementary School in one of the top districts in our state last year just to confirm that it would never work.)

I give that background because I think some people might find this post harsh. It isn’t meant that way. It IS meant as a tough love post. I’m writing what I know from experience as a classroom teacher and what I have observed as the mother of a gifted/2e daughter.

Concerns of Parents with a Gifted/2e Child

These are the topics people include when they are looking for advice about their gifted/2e child’s classroom experience (public and private). Each post is usually some combination of several of these.

  • My child is in K/1st/2nd grade.
  • He reads at a 4th/5th/6th grade level.
  • He is really into science/math/history/geography.
  • He loves to read.
  • He’s bored in the classroom.
  • He gets one hour of gifted pull-out a week.
  • He’s getting into trouble for talking/joking/correcting the teacher.
  • The public/private school is small and they tell us they want to work with us.
  • They know my child is gifted.
  • They acknowledge my child has needs.
  • The teacher is giving my child MORE work but not more CHALLENGING work.
  • The teacher isn’t doing anything extra for my child.
  • The teacher doesn’t use my suggestions for what my child needs.
  • The teacher says she will do things for my child, but never follows through.

Do any of those sound familiar?

Are you ready for reality?

Are you sure?

Okay, here are the cold, hard facts. Are there schools and teachers that are exceptions to what I’m about to write? Of course. But this is the reality in the vast majority of schools, even in the “great” districts.

The Classroom is for Mass Education

The traditional classroom is set up to educate as many children as possible as efficiently as possible. It is designed for the middle of the pack academically. The classroom is not designed for gifted/2e children. The curriculum is not created for gifted/2e children. The schedule is not created for gifted/2e children. The entire premise of classroom education and schools is to educate as many children as possible as efficiently as possible. Educating intellectual outliers does not fit with a mass education model.

Standardized Tests Drive Everything

Testing drives everything. Teachers spend a ridiculous amount of time and energy on testing. They are forced to teach to the test. They spend many days giving tests (which are often developmentally inappropriate but that’s another post for another day).

Most teachers are constantly having to relearn what they need to focus on because the bureaucrats are constantly changing the testing. Testing, not learning, drives everything. If you have a gifted/2e child who loves to learn, he’s not going to be very happy in a classroom.

Teachers are Measured by Test Results

Agree with it or not, this is the reality today. Teachers are measured by standardized testing results. Your gifted/2e child doesn’t negatively impact the teacher’s test results so therefore he is not a priority. By necessity priority will be given to children who are going to drag down the overall class score.

Science, History and Geography Aren’t Important

In an elementary school environment where testing drives everything, these are the least important subjects. It is all about reading, writing and math. If your gifted/2e child is captivated by advanced science, history and geography, she will be bored out of her mind with the things they will do on the elementary level – when they have the time to do them.

Differentiation Rarely Happens

Differentiation is the buzz word today and parents of gifted children latch onto it like a life preserver. The reality is that most teachers do not have time to truly differentiate for children who are performing multiple grade levels above where they “should” be.

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When you realized your child was gifted, what did you do? You probably got on the internet and started reading anything and everything you could about giftedness. You found groups online where you could interact with other parents of gifted children and learn from their experiences.

Guess what?

You now know more about giftedness than most teachers who graduate with an education degree.

The reality is most teachers have little to no knowledge about giftedness. Put 2e into the mix and forget about it. If you ask a relatively new teacher to differentiate for your gifted child, odds are she is going to give MORE work, not work that will challenge your child’s intellect. It will be busy work. Teachers don’t understand giftedness, many can’t identify it, and most won’t know what to do about it.

And I can guarantee you, they don’t have time to learn about it either.

So they will put you off. Partially because they don’t have enough time. Partially because they don’t know what to do. And partially because they don’t want to admit that they don’t have any idea how to effectively educate your gifted/2e child.

The Default is Helping Those Who are Weakest

It is human nature to instinctively help those in need. If a teacher has multiple children in her class who are outside the normal curve, which ones will appear the most needy? The child who reads and does math two grades below grade level or the child who is two grades or more above grade level?

It is ALWAYS going to be the children who are struggling. That’s what a compassionate teacher will do, that’s what the IEPs will require, and that’s what her job depends on. (See standardized testing point above.)

The average classroom teacher is not going to view a gifted/2e child as having a legitimate educational need. Being above grade level does not indicate a need. Period.

Misbehavior Due to Boredom is Your Problem Brain Breaks Mini Ad

What do children do when they are bored? They find a way to entertain themselves. What do bored gifted/2e children do in the classroom? They talk. They entertain their classmates. They interject from their vast knowledge base when the teacher doesn’t want to be interrupted.

If your child is bored in the classroom, it is going to be your problem. The teacher doesn’t have time for witty kids, kids who correct them with detailed clarifications about the finer points of science, etc. Parents might see this as their child trying to contribute and be engaged. Sorry. That’s not the way it is in school. Your child will be seen as a disruptive behavior problem. And that is ultimately YOUR problem to fix, not theirs.

In fact, your child’s inability to sit down and be quiet like the rest of the students will be seen as purely a behavioral problem, not an intellectual problem. The average teacher is not going to think, “Wow. This child is so bright he’s bored so he’s trying to find anything to engage himself.” Not going to happen.

And some teachers will resent the child who creates problems and disruptions, gifted or not.

Private Schools Need Money

Some parents figure out that public schools aren’t going to work so they look into private schools. Great. Except private schools need tuition money. You have money for tuition. Therefore, they will often tell you whatever you need to hear in order to get you to enroll. That’s reality. They aren’t trying to be dishonest and I think most of them have the best of intentions. But there are far too many private schools that see dollar signs instead of a gifted child with unique needs they are going to have to meet.

They Said They Would Work with Us

This is more apt to be an issue in private schools. Because private schools need money (see above), they will promise you that they will be able to meet your child’s needs.

Who made that promise? The administrator who spends no time in the classroom? Or your child’s teacher?

Administrators need to keep enrollment numbers up. Just because the administrator says that they will work with you and meet your child’s needs, it doesn’t mean the classroom teacher is on board or even equipped to meet your child’s needs. Just because the administrator says they differentiate, it doesn’t meant they are going to meet your child’s academic needs.

Your Child is Not a Top Priority

When a parent discovers her child is gifted, she immediately puts on her advocate hat. She knows that she is her child’s advocate. Her child’s educational needs become a top priority for her. She views everything through that advocate hat.

You know what? Your child is not the most important person in a teacher’s classroom. Your child may not even be in the top five or top ten.

That isn’t to say the teacher doesn’t like or enjoy your child. Your child might be one of his/her favorite students ever! But that isn’t the same thing as being a priority. You as a parent are your child’s advocate. The teacher is someone doing a job – teaching as many children as possible as efficiently as possible at one time (see above point). She/He will never ever care about your child and advocate for your child the way you will. It’s simply not possible.

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I hope not! That is not my intention.

I do hope that your eyes are opened to the reality of classroom education from a teacher’s perspective.

I know many people want to send their children to school for a variety of reasons such as:

  • I want to work.
  • I need to work.
  • I don’t want to stay home with my kids.
  • I want to support public education.
  • I believe in public education.
  • We want to be a part of the community.
  • My child needs the social interaction.
  • I want my child to have the school experience.
  • I don’t want to homeschool.
  • I’m a taxpayer and I have a right to expect my child to be educated according to his needs.

Those are all valid reasons.

But if you choose to send your gifted/2e child to school, you have to accept reality. You are trying to put a square peg in a round hole.

You may not homeschool, but your child’s education is still going to fall on you. The school is not changing for you and your child.

You will spend a lot of time advocating for your child. You will probably not be happy with the results much of the time.

You are going to have to supplement their education after school and in the summer.

I know to parents of gifted children this post may be upsetting, but that’s the reality. There are only so many hours in the day and the teacher has to choose who she is going to help. She simply cannot be all things to all children. She can’t. It’s not physically possible. Trust me. I know this from first-hand experience.

What Should You Do?

I can’t tell you what to do. Only you know your situation.

My goal in writing this post is not to convince you to homeschool. I do admit that my bias is that homeschooling gifted/2e children is usually (but not always) the best choice. But I also know that is not going to happen in every case for any number of reasons.

My goal is to open the eyes of parents with gifted children to the reality faced by a teacher in the classroom. I hope it helps you see things not just from your perspective as your gifted child’s advocate, but from the perspective of a teacher who probably does not have the time, skills or energy to meet your child’s unique needs.

Whatever educational path you choose for your child, I sincerely wish you the very best!

Sallie's Miscellany Links for Better Living and Learning

Sallie’s Miscellany (November 23)

Sallie's Miscellany Links for Better Living and Learning

Good Reads

The Conversation I Almost Missed & the Future It Could’ve Cost – From as soon as Caroline could comprehend this concept, we have encouraged her to always know she can tell us anything. She can share any feeling, any question, any problem and any sin. It is my hope and prayer this will allow us to have a strong relationship as she grows older and her issues become more complex.

How Early Academic Training Retards Intellectual Development – There is a difference between academic skills and intellectual skills. Pushing academic skills too soon is a waste of time at best and even potentially damaging.

Why I Stopped Asking My Kids to Clean Up – We have a similar philosophy in our home.

My New Discovery – Clorox Bleach Packs

I use all white towels in our bathrooms. I find it is easier to do all white. But lately they were really getting yellow. (Yeesh, this sounds like it’s a commercial. It’s not!) I don’t like using liquid bleach because the fumes are terrible for my EoE. When I was at Meijer I saw these Clorox Bleach Packs and thought they might be the answer.

They are! They work very well! Highly recommended!

Christmas Stocking Stuff Lists

290+ Stocking Stuffers 2

Black Friday is just a few days away!

If you are starting your shopping soon, don’t forget to check out my 290+ Stocking Stuffer Ideas for All Ages with Printable Shopping Lists!

I have ideas for babies, toddlers, preschoolers, elementary, middle school, high school, women and men. These lists will save you lots of brain power so you can use it on other things this holiday seasons. LOL!

You can also download the lists to take shopping with you.

12 Ideas for Guest Rooms

12 Ideas for Guest Rooms

12 Ideas for Guest Rooms

Are you going to be hosting visitors sometime soon? Whether it is for a holiday or the summer travel season, creating a peaceful haven for guests in your home is a great way to practice hospitality. Here are 12 ideas for guest rooms that include my favorite simple ways to prepare a lovely and gracious place for friends and family.

The Bed

Provide your guests with an attractive bed including a comfortable mattress that is neither too firm nor too soft. Dress the bed with quality sheets and blankets. If possible, have a variety of pillows on hand ranging from soft to firm so your guests can find the ones that are just right. Tuck a few extra blankets in the closet.


Place a nightstand next to the bed. If you don’t have a nightstand, a small table or even a chair can work. Add a lamp and alarm clock. Tune the radio in to a station you think they would like. If you are able to purchase a alarm clock with CD player, put a few peaceful CDs in the drawer.

Closet Space

Make sure your guests have plenty of room to unpack and hang up their clothes. Provide a variety of shirt hangers and skirt/pants hangers to meet whatever needs they may have. It looks especially nice if the hangers match. A dozen white hangers is inexpensive, but looks neat and uniform.

Dresser or Chest of Drawers

If possible, equip your guest room with a dresser or chest of drawers. Line the drawers with pretty drawer liners. If you don’t wish to purchase drawer liner, leftover wallpaper also works well and will generally stay flat in the bottom of the drawers. A pretty contact paper will work as well and should lie flat without needing to use the adhesive side. Avoid using anything with scents in case any of your guests have a sensitivity to them.


If your guest room doesn’t have a private bath attached, make sure you have a large mirror in the room. It can be something as simple as a full length mirror in the closet. At the very least, put a small mirror on the wall for combing hair.


Think “spa-like” and your guests will love you forever! Even if your bathroom doesn’t look like a spa but rather 1950s America, you can still add the little touches that will make it a restful place to be.

Provide your guests with plenty of soft towels and be sure to provide fresh ones every day. A bath mat is also helpful. A small basket of quality bathroom items is always appreciated. Soaps, bubble bath, hand lotions, shampoo, feminine needs and such are all a nice touch. You can even leave a small note in the basket inviting them to take the items home with them – including the basket! A candle with matches and a small bouquet of flowers in a pretty vase will also contribute to making the bathroom inviting. Music is also appreciated whether it is a small radio or CD player.

Snacks and Such

Do they like coffee or tea in the morning or evening? If so, equip the room with a small coffee maker and leave a tray with a basket of coffee, tea, cocoa, sugar, and spoons with tea cups or mugs. A small basket of snacks that complement their favorite beverage would certainly be enjoyed.

Telephone, Phone Book and Charger

Although many people have a cellphone, not everyone does. If your guests don’t have a phone, be sure they have access to a telephone for private conversations and local telephone book, especially if they are traveling from far away. It is also nice to have a universal charger for cell phones/smart phones available in the room.

WiFi Information

Be sure to provide your guests with the log-in information for your WiFi!

Pencils, Pens and Paper

Include a few pencils, pens and paper in the nightstand drawer or next to the telephone.

Tissues and Wastebasket

Place a box of nice tissues and a wastebasket next to the bed, even if you have them in the guest bathroom.


If you want to create an extra nice guest room, a small television is a nice touch!


And for a bonus number thirteen, don’t forget a nightlight!

Most importantly, remember that an enjoyable stay for your guests is primarily dependent on a thoughtful and peaceful hostess. If you have planned ahead and are enjoying yourself, then chances are your guests will, too!

Preparing a special guest room doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. But just thinking through what will be most important to your guests, you can provide them with a lovely experience!

Sallie's Miscellany Links for Better Living and Learning

Sallie’s Miscellany (November 19)

Sallie's Miscellany Links for Better Living and Learning

Good Reads

Learning to Embrace My Highly-sensitive Child – One mom shares what she learned about her child, herself and her parenting. Along the way she realized her daughter’s sensitivity is a gift.

7 Common Traits of Highly Intelligent People – Are you raising one of these kids in your home? Are you one yourself?

As Children’s Freedom Has Declined, So Has Their Creativity – Interesting look at the link between freedom and creativity and all of the areas where creativity has steadily dropped since the late 1980s. “According to Kim’s research, all aspects of creativity have declined, but the biggest decline is in the measure called Creative Elaboration, which assesses the ability to take a particular idea and expand on it in an interesting and novel way.”

Stocking Stuffer Ideas

290+ Stocking Stuffers 2Are you starting to look for stocking stuffers? I know I am! I like to pick up little things as I see them.

I’ve compiled a HUGE list of 290+ stocking stuffer ideas broken down by age.It includes baby, toddler, preschool, elementary, middle school, high school, adult men and adult women.

This will seriously save you a lot of time and thinking! You can shop from my online list or download a free copy of the list. Check it out!


December Notebooking Pages

December Notebooking CoverIf you are starting to think about Christmas learning activities, don’t miss this pack of December Notebooking Pages in my learning shop! There are lots of fun designs in both primary and elementary lined paper. Use them for handwriting, creative writing, writing to Santa or notebooking about your Christmas activities and celebrations.

Squirrels Copywork

Squirrels Copywork

Squirrels Copywork

Because we have multiple birdfeeders on two different birdfeeder pole systems, we always have a collection of squirrels in our backyard. Brown, grey and black squirrels all co-exist pretty peacefully. We keep them off the feeders by using squirrel baffles and they do an excellent job of keeping the ground under the feeders cleaned up! All that to say, I have a soft spot in my heart for squirrels and watching them carefully patpatpat with their paws as they bury nuts in my backyard.

This week our second grade blogging team is featuring activities and printables related to squirrels and acorns. Such a fun topic!

Squirrels Copywork Pack

I’ve created a free Squirrels Copywork mini-pack that includes three fun facts about squirrels as well as a cute photo to reinforce each fact. The pack includes both print and cursive.

Squirrels Copywork

I hope you will pop over to my shop and download a copy of Squirrels Copywork to use with your children or students. You can see all of my copywork products here.

Don’t miss the other second grade blogging team posts this week related to squirrels and nuts!

Acorn Arrays for Building Number Facts from Rainy Day Mum

Acorn Addition with Hundreds Chart from Life Over C’s

Acorn Gratitude Banner from Creative Family Fun

Fall Acorn Themed Vocabulary from Sugar Aunts

Sallie's Miscellany Links for Better Living and Learning

Sallie’s Miscellany (November 4)

Sallie's Miscellany Links for Better Living and Learning

Good Reads

My Child is Gifted and I Can’t Talk About Him – If you have a gifted child, you will relate to this. It’s okay to have a child who falls in the normal range. It’s not okay to celebrate if your child achieves something outside of average. We applaud children with athletic skills on the far end of curve, but children on the far end of the academic curve? That’s bragging and socially inappropriate.

Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime – An interesting article from Scientific American that looks at “how mental breaks increase productivity, replenish attention, solidify memories and encourage creativity.” I have seen this is my own life. I have wondered about the memories thing and how sleep deprivation plays into that. Between the sleep deprivation and lack of introvert time to recharge/rest my brain, I have virtually no memories of Caroline’s first few years other than what I have written down or we have on video. It’s really both scary and sad. This article also reinforces why God gave us a day of rest.

Delayed Kindergarten Enrollment Dramatically Reduces ADHD in Children, Study Shows – It’s not rocket science. We’re pushing children too hard, too early. And they suffer because of it. Much of what drives early academic enrollment is the demands of parental employment, not the needs of the child.

5 Days of Saying “No”5 Days to Saying No

Have you read my 5 Days of Saying “No” series? This is the perfect time of year to read some of these. Homeschooling pressures in November? Yes. Burnout? Yes. Holiday Pressures? Double Yes. Seriously, please take the time to read any that apply to your life and be encouraged and challenged to make the decision to say “No” when necessary.

Saying “No” to Burnout

Saying “No” to Unhealthy Relationships

Saying “No” to Holiday Pressures

Saying “No” to Homeschool Pressures

Saying “No” to Church Pressures

Weather Fun Facts Cards

Are you learning about Weather this year? Here is a great way to add a fun fact to your study each day! Weather Fun Facts Cards includes 35 fascinating facts about all kinds of weather.

They are part of my Fun Facts Cards series available in my shop.

Weather Fact Cards

Simple Thanksgiving Learning Projects

Simple Thanksgiving Learning Projects

Simple Thanksgiving Learning Projects

There are so many ways to celebrate Thanksgiving!  This list of simple Thanksgiving learning projects varies widely in grade level, although many can be adapted to make them appropriate for a variety of ages.  Most of these projects can be completed with simple supplies you probably already have around your home. If not, you can easily order whatever craft supplies you need from Amazon and have them delivered to your door!

Thanksgiving Reading and Writing Projects

  • Write a “Mayflower Times” or “Plymouth Herald” newspaper.
  • Pretend you are a Pilgrim child.  Write a letter to a friend back home and tell her about your voyage and first year in America.
  • Write a Pilgrim biography.
  • Chose a favorite Thanksgiving book and write a letter to a friend, telling him about why he should buy the book and read it.
  • Write a poem about the first Thanksgiving.
  • Make an acrostic for Thanksgiving Day.  For each letter, think of a word or phrase related to Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Arts and Crafts Projects

  • Illustrate a drawing of the Mayflower.
  • Make a Thanksgiving diorama.
  • Draw a comic strip.
  • Make Pilgrims and Indians out of toilet paper tubes.
  • Make a flannel board story.
  • Design a cross stitch or needlepoint sampler.
  • Draw a poster advertising traveling to America on the Mayflower.
  • Make placemats for Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Make a mobile out of a hanger.
  • Make a banner.

Thanksgiving Gift Projects

  • Design a Thanksgiving card.
  • Create a bookmark favor for your Thanksgiving guests.

Thanksgiving Fun Projects

  • Create a Thanksgiving board game.
  • Make a Thanksgiving puppet.
  • Write a Thanksgiving Day skit.
  • Make a card game.
  • Make a word search.
  • Make a crossword puzzle.
  • How many words can you make using the letters in “Happy Thanksgiving Day!”

Thanksgiving in My Learning Shop

November Activity Pack 1

If you are really pressed for time, check out the Thanksgiving section in my learning shop. I have a number of fun learning activities that are ready to purchase and download instantly.

These products include writing prompts, fun fact cards, copywork and more!

Simple Thanksgiving Meal Planning

Simple Thanksgiving Meal Planning

Simple Thanksgiving Meal Planning

Holiday meal success is almost all in the planning and this includes Thanksgiving. If you are hosting this year, here are five simple Thanksgiving meal planning steps to ensure you have an organized and enjoyable holiday!

Plan Your Thanksgiving Menu

Brainstorm what to serve by looking through your recipes, cookbooks, magazines, and online recipe collections. Take into consideration family traditions, individual favorite foods, food allergies, and the amount of time you have to prepare.

Next, narrow down your menu by choosing foods that compliment each other in color, texture, temperature and taste.  Aim to have a colorful plate with a variety of sensory experiences.  Offering a selection of choices helps ensure that everyone can find several foods they enjoy.

If any of your guests have offered to bring a specific dish, accept their kindness.  If a guest offers to bring something in general, ask her to prepare an item that will be well-suited considering her time, traveling distance, and budget.  Consider asking guests to bring a dish that is easily replaced rather than one of the primary foods. Always have a Plan B in mind in case a guest is not able to come at the last minute.

Put a photocopy of each recipe in a folder so they are all in one place. This way you will only have one folder to keep track of instead of a dozen or more cookbooks, recipes cards and magazine clippings.

Compile Your Shopping List

Once you’ve planned your menu, compile your shopping list.  First, take an inventory of what you have on hand.  Check expiration dates and physically check each ingredient in your pantry.  Planning a special holiday meal is too important to go by memory!  If anything you need is past dated, buy another one. This isn’t the time to take a chance on an old ingredient.

As you check each item, decide if it is something that can be purchased right away and stored or if it must be purchased closer to the actual holiday.  Make one list of things to buy immediately and another list for the few days before the holiday.

Don’t forget to include any special items you need to pick up such as cooking utensils, Thanksgiving decorations, Thanksgiving napkins, flowers, gourds, etc. Add these to the appropriate list.

Write Out Your Timetable

Using a calendar, decide when to prepare each item. If anything can be made ahead and frozen, by all means do so!

After making a general timetable for November, make a timetable for each of the several days before Thanksgiving.  Make notes as to which foods to prepare each day, when to take the turkey out to thaw (if using frozen), and any other specific tasks such as polishing silver, unpacking special Thanksgiving dishes, etc.

Finally, make a timetable for Thanksgiving Day.  Write down the times you need to prepare dishes in order for all of them to be done at the appropriate time. Make sure to take into account which dishes need to go in the oven and at what temperature. You might discover you need to adjust your menu if you have too many things to bake or roast in the oven at the same time at different temperatures. If you will need help in the kitchen, determine in advance who you would like to help and what you would like them to do.  Make a note of it.

Prepare Your Thanksgiving Meal

By Thanksgiving morning you should be in great shape since you have already mapped out all the details ahead of time!  Follow the timetable you prepared and troubleshoot any unexpected developments. Although little glitches may arise, remember that your guests will probably never even notice unless you make a big deal out of it.  A happy and relaxed hostess makes everything taste better!

Enjoy Your Family and Friends

You’ve made it! Your reward for all of your planning is the ability to enjoy this special day and make some great new Thanksgiving memories! Enjoy!

Sallie's Miscellany Links for Better Living and Learning

Sallie’s Miscellany (November 3)

Sallie's Miscellany Links for Better Living and Learning

Good Reads

Losing our grip: More students entering school without fine motor skills – All that seemingly pointless playing that little ones are supposed to do as toddlers, preschoolers and so on? It turns out it’s not pointless. There is a reason why preschools and kindergartens are play-based. Or were until testing madness took over.

Is the American School System Damaging Our Kids? – The tagline from this Readers’ Digest articles pretty much sums it up: “Education has become an American institution—of the worst kind.”

20 Things 20-Year-Olds Don’t Get – Interesting business and professional advice.

Up in Arms – Tufts University article about the eleven nations that make up the United States and how the views in those nations impact so much including guns and violence.

Melissa and Doug Shopping Cart

The only regret I have with buying this Melissa & Doug Shopping Cart for Caroline is that we didn’t buy it about six months sooner. She enjoyed playing with it so much! We used all kinds of real food boxes and containers from the kitchen to go with it. If you’ve never seen one of these in person, they are high quality. Solid as a rock.

This is a great pretend play toy for little ones. Highly recommended for Christmas, birthdays or homeschooling!

Thanksgiving Fun Fact Cards

Thanksgiving Pocket Fact Cards

If your child loves learning facts, you’ll want to pick up these Thanksgiving Fun Fact Cards.

This collection features 28 interesting facts that go way beyond the basics that everyone learns. Lots of fun and many ways to use them as outlined in the product description.

They can be found in my shop and are an immediate download! Enjoy!