July 24, 2010

An Unhurried Life

Twenty years ago my sister, Judy, and I had a teacher’s store in Texas. Someone told us that we should write a mission statement for the store. So we did. We didn’t know a whole lot about running a store so anything anyone suggested-we did.

Our Mission…To be actively involved in the education of children by assisting, encouraging, motivating and inspiring their teachers.

This mission statement served us well. It kept us on track and helped us remember why we were in business.

The statement remains my professional mission statement. Tomorrow, I leave to do a workshop on Monday for 100 teachers in New Jersey.  I always try to close with my thought for the day. My hope is that it might encourage, motivate, or inspire someone....maybe you! 

This is from a book called The Life You Always Wanted. These are the thoughts of John Ortberg. It has a message for us all.

An Unhurried Life.....The Practice of "Slowing"
Not long after moving to Chicago, I called a wise friend seeking some direction for my life. I told him about the rhythms of my family life and about the present condition of my heart, as best I could discern it. What did I need to do to be spiritually healthy?

Long pause…

“You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life,” he said.

Another long pause….

“Okay, I’ve written that one down,” I told him. “That’s a good one. Now what else is there?”

Another long pause….

“There is nothing else,” he said.

Just that…..
There is nothing else.
You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.

The danger is that we will become so distracted and rushed and preoccupied that we will settle for the mediocre version of life. We will just skim our lives instead of actually living them.

The Disease: Hurry Sickness
We suffer from what has come to be known as “hurry sickness”. One of the great illusions of our day is that hurrying will buy us more time.

We worship at the shrine of the Golden Arches, not because they sell “good food”, or even “cheap food”, but because it is “fast food”. Even after fast food was introduced, people still had to park their cars, go inside, and take their food to a table, all of which took time. So we invented the Drive-Thru lane to enable families to eat in vans, as nature intended.

Here are the symptoms of Hurry Sickness

Constantly speeding up daily activities
How many times a day do you say, “Hurry up and finish your work, your lunch, getting dressed……?”
“Quit messing around!" " Hurry Up!”

This could also be called "doing more than one thing at a time", but that takes too long.
Hurry-sick people may drive, eat, drink coffee, apply make-up….all at the same time. How many of you had breakfast in the car while driving this morning? (Mothers are particularly adapt at multi-tasking.)

Life is cluttered when we are weighed down by the burden of all the things we have failed to say NO to. Then, comes the clutter of forgetting important dates, of missing appointment, of not following through.

Today we have largely traded WISDOM for information. We have exchanged DEPTH for breadth. Think of your most recent conversation with a friend….How would you describe it?  Any depth???

An inability to love
The most serious sign of hurry sickness is a diminished capacity to LOVE. Love and hurry are fundamentally incompatible. Love takes time!

Sunset fatigue
When we come home at night at the end of a day’s work, those who need our love the most, those to whom we are most committed, end up getting the leftovers. Sunset fatigue is when we are just too tired, or too drained, or too preoccupied, to love the people to whom we have made the deepest promises.

The Cure for Hurry Sickness

We have to cultivate this practice and deliberately choose to slow down!

Find time for yourself! One of the greatest obstacles to solitude is that frequently it may feel like a waste of time. This may happen partly because we are conditioned to feel that our existence is justified only when we are doing something.

At its heart, solitude is primarily about not doing something.

It is so hard for us as teachers to not be doing something……

So today for just a little while slow down and do nothing……

Take out your bubbles
and as Lauren Bacall said to Humphrey Bogart, 
“Just put your lips together and blow!”


let's just blow bubbles,

For no good reason,

let's just blow bubbles.

Laugh a little, watch them disappear,

not even wonder where.

Smile and touch the rainbow colors

watch them float in the air.

No reason why--

no goals--no structure.


let's just

blow bubbles...

One of my favorite books is called Sanity Savers by Sharon MacDonald. All of us at one time or another feels as if our sanity is hanging on by a thread. This is her advise….

    On difficult days, teachers benefit from blowing bubbles......

                If the day has been particularly difficult
                and you need to do a lot bubble blowing,
               wait until the children are gone for the day.

July 23, 2010

Magnetic Receptor Paper

I had two emails this morning from Sue and Rebecca asking about the magnetic receptor paper.  I found it sort of by accident and fell in love with it. By using it you can turn almost anything into a magnet center. You can contact Jennifer at  teachmart@sbcglobal.net to order it. 

It is made by Dowling Magnets by the division that makes the magnets that go on cars for advertising.  When we first starting using it we had to order it in 200 ft rolls that were 24" wide.  I found for most of my projects pieces of 18" X 24" worked best.  I contacted the manufacturer and asked if they would cut it for me.  Believe me it is worth it to have them cut it! So that is how Jennifer ordered it and sells it. However, it can be cut to any shape with heavy scissors.

It is white vinyl on one side and adhesive on the other side.  I usually attach it to display foam boards from an office supply store.  I carry the boards showing my sample ideas with me for workshops. This is light weight and easy to set up.  The adhesive is VERY sticky!  It can be attached to a wall or door or wherever you want a center.  BUT, be sure to put it where you want it because that is where it will stay.  I usually use a border around the edge (that helps it you don't get it exactly straight.) If you want a small sample send me your address and I will send a 3" square.

In this center the kids arrange the words in order.  The words are from the CTP emergent reader, WHO WILL HELP? The kids practice sequencing what happens in the story.
The little mouse is trying to get some help to pick the apples....No one wants to help until the end of the book when all of the work is done.  When it comes time to eat everyone is willing to help!

In this center the kids arrange the pictures in the correct word family.  (This is a one of the new Language Arts Mini Bulletin Boards from CTP.)

The paper can be cut to any shape with scissors. 
I attached the paper to the back of this apple and cut it to the shape.  Place adhesive backed magnets on the smaller pieces. I use craft magnets attached with glue dots.  Works great!

Sue and Rebecca, I hope this helps.  If you have more questions when you start to work with the paper let me know. 

To Jane,
Thanks for the kind note.  I wasn't sure anyone was out there reading my rambling thoughts.  We can both give praises for our blessings!!!

July 10, 2010


I found a wonderful blog that I would like to share.  It is written by Jo Beth....Ross was her maiden name.  We were best friends with her parents when we lived in Arkansas twenty years ago.  We moved to Texas and sort of lost touch except for letters at Christmas.  The kids have a way of growing up into young adults.  Jo Beth was the "younger sister" of the youth group when my kids were in their teens.  I remember her with frilly socks and bows in her "poofy" hair. 

The link is on the left side of this page under recommend sites bootsmcblog.  Do yourself a favor and check it out.  I really like the music that goes with some of the posts.  If you are from the south you will identify with Sweet Tea and the importance of going to the beauty shop on Fridays.  For the best posts (my opinion) click on Tuesday's Child under catagories at the top. 

Remember the rhyme, "Tuesday's child is full of grace."  Jo Beth must have been born on a Tuesday. She is certainly "Full of Grace."   Her photography is great too!  The Old South never looked better.

We leave in just a few minutes to go to Yellowstone National Park.  We are taking our grandson, Trevor.  It is a Disney Vacation to Go.  Last year we went to Washington DC with him.  Disney has a patented way of controlling kids on their trips. 

Looking forward to a great trip and cooler weather.....

July 8, 2010

Question of the Day

Start the day with a question.  This is a great way to involve the kids at the very beginning of the day.  They vote as they enter the classroom in the morning. 

Create a "T" chart using colored tape on a metal surface like a file cabinet.  (This chart is made on magnetic receptor paper that means this vinyl paper attacts magnets. It has adhesive on the back so you can attach it to any surface.   If you want to know more about it let me know at tommie.netzer@creativeteaching.com .) 

At the top of each column place the words "yes" or "no".  Each morning display a question.  The pieces in this picture are from CTP 1541 Round-up Stick Kids but any pictures could be added to make the graph more interesting.  The cowgirl is attached to the chart with magnets so it can be changed easily. Since I am from Texas I particularly like this bulletin board!  

The children place their magnetic names in the correct column to answer the question.  For the names place craft magnets on the back of the bulletin board pieces with glue dots.  Glue dots hold really well to anything....no waiting for glue to dry either.  I love them!

The cowgirl is holding a speech bubble (with a magnet on the back) with the qustion of the day,
"Have you ever been to a rodeo?"
It looks as if most of this class has.

Other questions of the day might be....
  • Do you have a brother? / sister?
  • Do you like pepperoni pizza?
  • Have you ever taken a trip on an airplane?
  • Are you wearing red today?

Any question that can be answered with "yes" or "no" will work.

Here is the question for you to ask yourself each day.  "Are you having fun?"  If the answer is "No" ask yourself, "What can I do to make this a fun day for me and my kids?" 

July 4, 2010


I remember this night four years ago...the fourth of July 2006.  My husband, daughter and I were sitting on the roof of the parking garage at the Gaylord Texan Hotel watching the fireworks over Lake Grapevine.   That was the day that my hair fell out!  I was in the 14th day of treatment for breast cancer. 

I guess freedom comes in many different forms because here I am today celebrating freedom from cancer.  I had my four year check up this week and it is gone!

I collect watercolor prints of Brian Andreas called the storypeople. http://www.storypeople.com/  Each has a saying that means something to me along with some really crazy looking people.  I have seven of them in one bathroom.  Sometimes I lock myself in the bathroom and read all of them.  This is a particularly good one.....

Everything changed when she learned
there was exactly enough time
for the important things in life.

Here are some important things that I learned during the six months of treatment....
  • It is ok to spend the day doing "nothing productive".  This was a hard one for me because I always based my worth on what I could do and get done.

  • It is ok to spend the day curled up with a blanket in a big chair reading a book that has no socially redeeming qualities.

  • It is ok to spend the day in your pajamas.  I learned the lessons so well that I still do it even though I am back working everyday.  I am fortunate that I work at home!  Although my husband often asks,  "Aren't you ever going to get dressed?"

  • It doesn't take long to get dressed when you have no hair, no eyebrows, and no eyelashes.  Think about it! That part was a real timesaver!

  • Mosquitoes don't bite you when you are on chemo.  They don't like your yucky blood either.

  • You don't ever have to shave your legs...another time saver!  (However,  it does not seem fair that chin hairs come back before any other hair!)

  • You learn to have selective hearing. From my surgeon on that day I heard only two things...."It is cancer!" and "It is totally treatable!" Treatable...that is all I needed to know.

  • Don't sweat the small (or fat) stuff.  Once I was crying in the office of my oncologist.  When he came in he said, "What is wrong with you?"  I said, "In the last 14 days I have gained 14 pounds!"  He said, "You have to realize that I am doing this to you. It is my fault, not your fault.  It's what it takes to get you well.  Now, go wash your face and go in and get your chemo!"  P.S.  I still have those 14 pounds!  Maybe it was not all his fault. I love my oncologist!  He is 30 years younger than I am.  He says we will be connected for the rest of our lives! It is good to have a younger man in your life....even if it is your doctor.

  • Friends are precious!  Sometimes, it is surprising who your real friends are.  With one friend I laughed as we shared a bottle of wine while she shaped my wig (one side might have been a little shorter than the other but you couldn't tell if I tilted my head a little).  Then we tried to put false eyelashes on me.   That doesn't work if you don't have any eyelashes to attach the false ones to.  

  • Another friend set me a note on the day of each treatment.  The notes were always addressed to My Precious Friend.   It is good to know that you are PRECIOUS to someone.

  • Family is everything!  My husband and I built a "chemo" garden.  We had a rock border put in an area in the backyard.  Each Sunday before my treatment we would go to the nursery and buy some plants.  (Friends that found out what we were doing gave us plants from their gardens.)  After I finished each treatment I would sit outside in a lawn chain and he would plant another section of the garden.  Now four years later, this is a view of part of the garden from our bedroom window.

    One Sunday evening my grandson, Trevor, and I were at my house making brownies and talking.  I said, "Oh, Trevor, I have to go get my yucky medicine tomorrow and I REALLY don't want to do that."  He looked at me with big brown eyes and said, "But G, you have to get your yucky medicine.  It makes you better and I REALLY want you to get better!"  Great wisdom can come from five years olds.  Sometimes it takes yucky stuff to make us better.  I hope that I am a better person because of the yucky stuff.
    Regardless of what the AMA recommends, have your mammograms.  One in eight women will develop breast cancer.  Early detection is the key to the cure.  It saved my life!
    Let Freedom Ring!
    Want to watch a really great movie on this subject?  Go to www.mylifetime.com/movies/living-proof

July 1, 2010

Games Galore!

Language and Math Games Galore

  • Grades K-2 are available now
  • Grade 3 available in August
  • three books for each grade level
  • 10 matching games per book
  • full color pictures
  • card-stock pieces
  • ready to use
  • easy to prepare
  • easy to play in a variety of ways
games galore
At CTP we have a new slogan for our books like Games Galore. It is "Buy today...Use tomorrow!" All the Games Galore are ready-to-use books. Each book contains 10 matching games that provide differentiated skills levels....perfect for the response to intervention initiative.

The books are $12.99 which makes each game less than $1.50. That is a deal! The games are easy to prepare. They can be adapted to play in many ways. You can really.... "buy today and use tomorrow!

Each game consists of two pages from the book.
Pieces are perforated so they can be easily separated.
An answer key is provided with each game.

After separaating the pieces store in a ziplock bag along with the answer sheet.
Have you ever played the game Concentration? Like the classic game the object of Games Galore is to find the most pairs of matching cards using visual recall. With Games Galore, the kids are also practicing math or language skills.

A few weeks ago I took some of the games to school to share with a kindergarten class. As you can see we had a great time playing with the games.

cate 1Cate lined the cards up side down on a gridded chart. I made the 3" square grids to keep the cards in order. Having the grid helped the kids remember where the matching cards were. There is a solid black line on the back of each card that helps line up the cards correctly so the cards are not upside down or sideways. Cate is playing alone but she could also play with a friend to see who can make the most matches.
When You Play Alone,
You Are Always the Winner!
cate 3
                              "I did it"
cate 4
games 1
games 2

Adapt the Games
Because the games are printed in color and on card stock they can be easily made into file folder games. Simply glue one piece of the match to the file folder. Save the other half of the match. Laminate the folder and the seperate pieces for durability.

The game is played by matching the cards.  Use the answer key to check the answers.  The game can be played alone or with a friend.

games 3 

Another way to use the cards... 
Have the kids shuffle the cards and then match them in a pocket chart.  This is good for a  center activity because it doesn't require much space.
With Games Galore,
YOU are the WINNER!