In My Neck of the Woods...

It's been a while since my last update, but I wanted to pop in and let you know what's going on in my neck of the woods.

Things have been busy with the end of the school year approaching.  My conference schedule has wound down, but everything else seems to be going into overdrive.  Ever feel like that?!?!

One thing I've made a priority amidst the craziness is Bible study.  I drive about 45 minutes after school  to get there every Monday night and I wouldn't trade that time of reflection and fellowship for anything.  God is changing my heart one chapter at a time.  I've always struggled with self-doubt and insecurity.  I feel like my worth is measured by validation from other's approval and different things I accomplish.  That kind of false sense of worth can leave you feeling pretty empty at the end of the day.  God placed this Bible study on my heart and and I'm telling y''s given me so many "a-ha!!!" moments and helped me to remember that my worth is found in Christ and Christ alone.  What a powerful promise of God's unconditional love!!!

If you ever struggle with self doubt and insecurity (who doesn't?!?!), I HIGHLY recommend this study!!!!

In the meantime, you should read the latest post from Michelle at Fabulous in First.  I love that she took time to share her heart and her perspective.  I think we can ALL relate!!!!

I was just in Nashville last weekend for a quick little getaway and adventure all organized by the wonderful team at GoNoodle.  

We got to participate in a little focus group while we were there.  Let me just tell you that I ADORE GoNoodle.  Not just their resources (did you know about GoNoodle PLUS?!?!?!?!?  Worth every penny!!!!!}, but their heart for kids.  Their vision is unparalleled.  They're not just about helping teachers, they're truly all about the kids!  I can't wait for the exciting things to come!!  They have such a vision for the future and I'm so excited for y'all to find out what's planned!!  You won't want to miss it!!!!  

And no trip to the headquarters is complete without a photo op with our favorite champ!!!

I admit that our weekend in TN wasn't all business.  We did lots of other fun things, too....

Shopping at Kendra Scott (free earrings on grand opening day!!!), Jeni's ice cream, amazing BBQ, a little more shopping, donuts (amazing!!!), and pedicures.  Relaxing and non-stop all in the same breath!!!   Thrilled to be there, so sad to leave :(

I've also been gearing up and prepping for some exciting things to come (in my little world, anyway).  I've been doing lots of research and burying my nose in some wonderful PD reading and I can't wait to share with you all what I'm learning!!!  I've also been working with some fabulous teachers and helping them get ready for these last few weeks of learning!

For these last few weeks of school, I had a few requests to create something that incorporates both math and literacy...something good for review, but not too easy and really engaging.  I mean, that's not hard, right?!  HA!!!  We're all FRIED this time of the year!!!  Of course that's a tough one!  I went through some of my old files and it hit me.  Mystery Messages!!!!  My kids LOVE those!!!  I decided to make them a bit more current and more applicable for this time of the year.  I combined 15 addition, 15 subtraction, and 6 bonus mixed operations  mystery messages for my newest resource....

My boys love hanging out with me when I'm creating.  Landon was watching me print out some of these Mystery Messages and he was a bit beside himself.  He loved the idea of earning his "badges" to become an addition/subtraction detective.  He is DETERMINED to become a detective before his little brother.  Just a little friendly sibling competition :)

It can be really challenging to keep our kids excited about learning and engaged in their activities when they've got sunshine and lemonade on the brain.  I love creating activities that excite kids and "trick" them into thinking they're playing a game instead of learning.  With Mystery Messages, kids have the opportunity to solve "case files" (addition/subtraction equations corresponding with scrambled messages) .  Each time they solve a case file, they fingerprint their tracking sheet to close the case.  Once they solve 15 addition messages/15 subtraction messages/6 mixed operation messages, they earn a "detective badge".

Landon is well on his way to earning his.  As soon as he's finished with his homework, he heads right to his "case files" (I keep them in a file folder for him) and chooses a mystery to solve.  Right now he's working on earning his addition detective badge. 

I love the idea of using these in the classroom as a morning challenge for morning work or as a fast finisher activity (who can earn their detective badge first?!?!).  They also lend themselves for group review (displayed on the Smartboard or document camera).  One of the teachers with whom I'm working suggested sending these home for the summer to help prevent the dreaded "summer slide".  I included a parent letter with this resource in case you want to do that, too!  I absolutely LOVE that idea!!!

 My sweet Grant loved that idea, too.  He's one that will only do what's required of him when he's at home.  If his teacher says read 1 book for homework, he'll read one book and one book only.  Nothing more, nothing less.  He's a smart little cookie, but he needs motivation.  Since he's still in Kindergarten and I'm big on letting them be little, I don't push too much after school.  I want him to do what's required and follow the rules and after that I want him to be 5!!!   So, I went ahead and started creating his case files for summer break while it's still on my mind.  Lord knows I'll get lazy if I wait much longer.  He told me he might not want to wait until summer and I have a feeling that he'll be motivated to get a head start once he sees his brother's tracking sheet :)  Whatever works, right?!

If this is something you're interested in for your classroom...or you'd like to send these home for summer review...just click on the pic below for a description and preview...

It's *almost* Mother's Day and it's sneaking up on us way too fast!  This little packet includes Mother's/Father's Day coupons, graphic organizers, writing prompts, and craftivities.  

Aren't these gift bags precious?!  I sent these home with my kids the last couple of years and they turned out precious!  Whatever artwork and gifts we made for mom were all put in the bag and taken home for Mother's Day before the weekend.  
The kids had fun making this one, too!!

In addition to the cute craftivities, I send home these Mother's Day coupons with each of my kids in their gift bags.  I'll often let them choose the coupons they want to include (there are lots from which to choose!!!).

And if we have time, they can also complete a Mother's Day Simile Booklet to put in the gift bags as well :)

The best activity we do this time of the year is our Mother's Day keepsake booklet!  I LOVE THIS ONE!!!! Hilarity always ensues while reading the kids' responses :)  LOL.  I have my kids complete these writing prompts during our guided writing portion of guided reading small group.  Works perfectly!

You can grab your free copy of the keepsake booklet below!

Here's another little Mother's/Father's Day math freebie for you!!!!


  1. Will you be back in the classroom next year?

  2. Thank you, Cara. I needed the reminder about where my value comes from today. Blessings.
    Laughter and Consistency

  3. I enjoyed reading this & Michelle's post, too! Thank you for sharing & for the book suggestions! Jen :)

  4. I love, love, love, LOVE reading your posts! Thanks for the Bible study suggestion--I'm always on the lookout for new studies for my ladies' group. I also love your end-of-the-year detective unit. How fun!

  5. Love you Cara! You always know exactly what we all need, whether be for our classrooms or just in life. So proud to call you my friend.

  6. I will definitely be checking out that book!

  7. I loved everything about your post! I need that book for myself and mystery messages for my firsties! I love #teachertricks ;)

  8. I loved everything about your post! I need that book for myself and mystery messages for my firsties! I love #teachertricks ;)

  9. I LOVE any kind of mystery message! We used your money mystery pictures every morning for a whole week to get my kiddos recognizing coins! Made it a fun game!! Wa-ho!

  10. I thought you'd all like this tee-shirt. Teaching 1st grade is not for the weak...

  11. I thought you'd all like this tee-shirt. Teaching 1st grade is not for the weak...