5 Facts About Me

Nikki, over at the Teaching Autism Blog has set up a "5 Facts About Me" linky party that I thought would be fun to join and to learn more about some of my TpT friends!

1. I am a pet lover. 

I am currently owned by 2 golden retrievers and 3 cats. Before I majored in education I actually wanted to be a veterinarian! I have never been without at least 2 pets in my household during my adult life. One of the dogs that holds a VIP spot in my heart was Penny, who I found in the parking lot of my dorm in a blizzard in 1990. She was with me for over 14 more years. I really feel like I was the lucky one during that blizzard!
Penny with new puppy Maddie in 1997.

Currently I have two golden retrievers, Katy and Hurley. 

Katy was my first golden retriever and I have truly fallen in love with the breed. A golden retriever is about the most perfect soul on earth! I have enrolled Hurley in the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study to help discover why this breed is so prone to cancer. The leading cause of death in golden retrievers is cancer, 60% of will die from the disease.

I am fascinated with therapy and service animals. Katy would make a fantastic therapy dog. She was actually in training before we the program we were enrolled in shut down and shortly after she had to have a series of knee surgeries. She was instrumental in bringing out the "talking" in my son when he was 3 and speech delayed. She's also a fantastic dog to read to. She's currently on her second round of the Harry Potter series read aloud!

2. I love to travel.

I love to get away and see new places. Over the years, especially with my kids young, my favorite place has been Disney World. I love driving under the "Welcome to Walt Disney World" signs into the utopian world of Disney. It is so easy to escape the problems of life and the world within their walls. 

Last shuttle launch of Atlantis, July 8, 2011.

Other places I have enjoyed experiencing are Space Shuttle Atlantis launch, Washington D.C., The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,  different cruise ports in the Caribbean, and the most beautiful place I've ever seen Alaska!

Stingray City, Grand Cayman

Butter beer and Hogwart's Castle!

The Sawyer Glacier at the end of the Tracy Arm Fjord.

3. Couldn't live without my Tivo!

I hate watching live TV and I hate commercials even more! My Tivo is the best invention ever! I record the shows I want to watch. I can watch them on my schedule and skip through commercials. I can stream through places like Netflix. It really is a wonderful invention!

4. I read the newspaper every day!

 I am still old school and read the newspaper every day! My day is just not right if I don't start it off with a cup of coffee and the newspaper. 

5. I would love to move!

I grew up in Sioux Falls, SD, and I have lived in the Omaha, NE, area for over 20 years. The midwest is a great place to grow up and to raise a family, but I am really ready to change my landscape! After traveling to the beautiful places like Alaska, Florida and the Caribbean, the flat corn fields are getting really, really drab!

In 2011 we spent some time staying in New Smyrna Beach, Florida during our two space shuttle trips. It is such a beautiful little town that isn't overrun with tourism. I could really see myself settling there one day!

So there you have it, 5 facts about me! I'd love to learn 5 facts about you! Head over to the Teaching Autism blog and link up your "5 Facts About Me" post!

Enter to Win a $25 TpT Gift Certificate for BTS Shopping!

Enter to win a $25 TpT Gift Certificate from The Teaching Bank! Enter now until Midnight CST, Tuesday, August 18, 2015 using the Rafflecopter link below!

Rafflecopter will randomly select a winner at midnight Tuesday night. I will email the GC Code to the lucky winner so your shopping spree can begin!

FREE Back to School E-Books Are Here!

The annual FREE Back to School E-Books have arrived! Thank you so much to Kinder Kay, Primary Inspiration by Linda Nelson, Elementary Solutions, Wise Guys, Tracee Orman, All Things Algebra, Amy Brown's Science Stuff, and Michele Luck's Social Studies for organizing and publishing the books in their stores. It's a big job and I certainly appreciate being included as well as being given the opportunity to sample the fine work of my fellow TpT sellers!

I have been included in the Grade 3-4 book that is linked below. Here's an image of my page. You can click on the images to go straight to the downloads.

For the full book downloads click on the link in the images below to go to the book for your grade level.

The Pre-K & Kindergarten edition is featured in Kinder Kay's store.

The 1st-2nd grade edition is featured in Primary Inspiration by Linda Nelson's store.

The 3rd-4th grade edition featured in Elementary Solutions' Store.

The 5-6th grade edition in Wise Guys' store.

The 7-12th English edition in Tracee Orman's store.

The 7-12th grade edition in All Things Algebra's store.

The 7-12th Science edition in Amy Brown's Science Stuff store.

The 7-12th Social Studies edition in Michele Luck's Social Studies store.

No matter your grade level or subject matter, you are sure to find some awesome tips and free items in the books above!

Thank you for your interest in our work and I wish you a wonderful 2015-2016 school year!

**Graphics provided by 

How TpT has Changed My Life!

On June 21, 2015, I celebrated my fifth anniversary of selling at Teacher Pay Teachers. The Teaching Bank was born seven years before joining TpT, but TpT is definitely the key in the success of The Teaching Bank today! TpT has taken The Teaching Bank from a hobby business to an actual company.

When I was pregnant with my first son I made the decision to take some time off teaching. I had been working at an inner city school and the stress was taking its toll. My early years there were great despite the challenges. We had a fantastic principal who supported us and treated us like professionals. Sadly, he retired and the new principal was his polar opposite. She was incompetent to the point that the entire staff met with the superintendent begging for help. Unfortunately, our pleas fell on deaf ears and the stress continued. After suffering two miscarriages that year I decided to take a year leave in the hope to protect my new pregnancy. I was blessed with my wonderful son that November.

When I was in my early 20's I suffered a mild hearing loss. It never affected my teaching and I was able to carry on a regular everyday life.  After having my son, my hearing loss progressed to the point where I knew I would not be able to be an effective classroom teacher any longer. My loss is a rare type where hearing aids provide very little assistance. According to my audiologist I rely on lip reading and body language for 80% of my hearing. This change to my life was devastating. I had spent so much time and money on my education (Bachelor's and Master's degrees) and I really enjoyed teaching. To have it no longer an option was hard to face.

I am a good bargain shopper and good at keeping to a budget (read cheap!) so we were able to get by on my husband's salary. When my son was nearing preschool age I started to realize that tuition would be a stretch on our monthly budget. Around that time eBay was all the rage and I started to think about what I could sell to help bring in some preschool tuition money. I had written quite a bit of my own curriculum materials while teaching due to the lack of resources at our inner city school. It seemed a burden at the time, but ended up being a blessing in disguise for me. I decided to put together a few of the novel studies that I created and see if there was a market on eBay for my materials. Turns out there was! I was able to make enough to pay the monthly preschool tuition and give us a little breathing room in our budget.

I was able to expand my sales outlets over the following years to eNotes and Amazon. I was able to make enough to save up for Lasik surgery (when I can see clearly I can hear better!) and even some family vacations. I was pretty proud of my little business. Then came TpT!

In 2010, I was reading the Disney forums on the disboards.com. A retiring teacher had asked where she could sell her classroom materials other than a garage sale. Someone in the thread mentioned TpT. I had never heard of it so I decided to check it out. The site looked intriguing so I listed a couple of my items to see what would happen. Immediately I received a few sales so I upgraded to the premium seller status on June 21, 2010. This move has changed my life!

TpT allowed me to take my little fun money business to a whole different level. In the past five years, in addition to funding family vacations, it has allowed me to create a college fund for my three kids and a retirement fund for myself. It has given my family financial stability with savings in the bank. I incorporated the business in 2013 and registered the trademark for my name and logo, as well as registered the copyright of my work. My hobby business has turned into a real company. And I was able to do this all from my home so I am here everyday for my kids and able to be flexible to join in for school functions or volunteer in their classrooms.

Of course the money is wonderful, but in addition, and more importantly than the money, the success that TpT has brought me has helped me regain my confidence. It has made me feel that I am still working within my trained profession as a true contributor. I may not be working face to face with students everyday due to my hearing loss, but my ideas and creations are. I am still touching students and making a difference. That means the world to me and I thank TpT everyday for providing this outlet to me and all the other wonderful teacherpreneurs out there!

So Happy Anniversary TpT, here's to many more wonderful years together! :)

Here's a great graphic from the TpT site to explain more about all they do for me and many, many other teachers out there! Click on the graphic to learn more about opening a store for yourself!

Happy National Therapy Animal Day 2015!

Today, May 18, 2015, is the first annual National Therapy Animal Day.  Therapy animals are used more and more often as we discover how much value they can add to healing and learning for people of all ages. Check here to read current news stories that exhibit the miracles that these animals can bring to us.

I am a huge animal lover and am/have been owned by several pets. Around my son's 3rd birthday we were concerned about his speech development. He wasn't much of a talker, but he was expert at getting his needs met using other methods. He reminded me of the rabbit in the Frosty the Snowman special. He didn't see a need to talk!  Around that same time we got a new golden retriever puppy, Katy. Katy saw Sam as another puppy playmate and as she was growing she could get a little rambunctious with Sam and sometimes knock him over.

Of course we worked with training Katy, she's now a proud graduate of the Canine Good Citizenship program, but part of it was also teaching Sam to use the commands of sit, off, and down in a strong voice. Sam very quickly learned that talking and using his voice served a great purpose and he started using it more and more, not just with Katy, but with all of us. There were many a morning I would wake up to find Sam laying next to Katy's crate chattering away telling her all about his adventures, hopes and dreams. It was such a touching sight to see.

Katy is an extremely tolerant dog and she loves anyone and everyone! She would make an ideal therapy dog and in fact we went through some training to lead to it. Unfortunately the program we were working with ended their classes and Katy ended up having a series of knee surgeries to correct joint issues in both of her knees so her career as a therapy dog has never been realized. She spends hours at home providing us constant unconditional love and "therapy" though. One of the things she loves more than anything is to lay with us and be read to! She's sat through the entire Harry Potter series a couple years ago with my older kids and is now working her way through it again with Sam.

I've seen the value that the love and attention of a pet can bring to the mental well-being of the people around them. They really can be miracle workers! I would love to see the use of reading dogs in schools increase!

As part of my Wonder Novel Study, I created a reading informational activity about therapy dogs. I offer it outside of the novel study as a free download in my store. It is a wonderful activity to explore the use and benefits of therapy animals. Click on the picture to go to the FREE download.

In honor of Katy, and all the wonderful therapy animals out there, Happy National Therapy Animal Day!

Happy Teacher Appreciation 2015!

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

To celebrate and show appreciation for all of the hardworking and dedicated teachers The Teaching Bank is offering 20% off EVERYTHING in our TpT store for May 5-6. It's a great time to save on those items on your wishlist and get a head start on your planning for next year. In addition to 20% off everything in our store TpT is throwing in an additional 10% off everything in your entire cart when you use code: ThankYou at check out.

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Happy Teacher Appreciation and thank you for all that you do from The Teaching Bank and TpT!

Check out some other wonderful sellers' sales at the linky party over at Flying into First Grade's Blog:

Preventing the Summer Slide

Summer is getting closer and closer. There are only 21 school days left here!  While we all long for the relaxed lazy days of summer we also need to worry about summer slide. Summer slide is a real concern for teachers and parents.  According a report from the National Summer Learning Association, in the article, "Keeping Kids Off the Summer Slide", by Reading is Fundamental 

"A conservative estimate of lost instructional time is approximately two months or roughly 22 percent of the school year.... It's common for teachers to spend at least a month re-teaching material that students have forgotten over the summer. That month of re-teaching eliminates a month that could have been spent on teaching new information and skills."  

 To combat the summer slide for my children I have been working on putting together a summer curriculum that they can spend an hour or so on each day and still get to enjoy all the fun that summer can bring. I am fortunate to have the curriculum that I have created to use with my own kids. I have also found many targeted resources to fill in the gaps, both paid and free, from the overabundance of offerings from some fantastic teachers at Teachers Pay Teachers. 

For my son, who is going into 5th grade next year, my plan is for him to complete some of my Novel Studies for reading, do daily timed tests from my multiplication and division units to keep fluent in his basic facts, and do some daily grammar/punctuation/spelling sentences from my Alien Text Talk unit. I have found some great writing prompt activities that incorporate science and social studies and math spiral activities from TpT to fill in the gaps and give him some practice to stay on board with math and writing.

For my daughter, who is going into 7th grade next year, my plan is about the same with the exception of the daily timed tests as she is fluent in her basic facts.

As a parent, creating a plan for your child is easy with a site like Teachers Pay Teachers at your disposal. You can find thousands of free and paid resources created by the people who know what works and really know what students need, TEACHERS!

Teachers who are looking for something to send home with their students over the summer can also find great resources at Teachers Pay Teachers that students can complete independently, or with just a little help from a parent or older sibling. 

A novel study is a great place to start to find a reading activity that can be completed fairly independently and is fun and interesting enough to keep the student engaged. I have 82 Novel Studies in my store, all for quality, high interest titles to keep the student engaged and entertained. Click on any of the titles below to learn more about what each unit has to offer.

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If you are looking for some resources to keep your students and/or your own kids fresh, take a look at TpT and you will have more resources that you could dream of to keep these kids learning and growing over the summer!

Of course, don't forget to sit back, relax, and enjoy your summer as well!

Happy Summer!

*Graphics provided by: Scrappin Doodles, mycutegraphics.com, and Elizabeth Villwock.

Celebrating 15 Years of Esperanza Rising!

It was has been 15 years since Pam Nuñoz Ryan's award winning book, Esperanza Rising, was first published.

The story begins in post-Revolutionary Mexico where Esperanza Ortega is a wealthy girl who has everything she needs and wants, and has never experienced hardship. One day, Esperanza's beloved father is killed by bandits resulting in Esperanza and her mother, Ramona, suddenly losing everything. 

Ramona escapes Mexico along with her former servants' family taking Esperanza with her. They migrate to California to find work in the fields in a Mexican labor camp during the Great Depression.

Esperanza and her mother face many hardships both physically and mentally. Esperanza has to quickly learn that she is no longer the served, but at the level of the servants, or worse. The story is the transformation of her character from a young girl with not a care in the world, to one full of hardships who learns to persevere.

To celebrate the 15th anniversary Scholastic has a great page with the author, Pam Nuñoz Ryan reading an excerpt from Esperanza RisingPam Muñoz Ryan was inspired to write Esperanza Rising, by the stories she heard as a child from her grandmother, Esperanza Ortega Muñoz, so it is a book that is near and dear to her heart.

Esperanza Rising is a great novel to use in the classroom. There are so many curriculum topics that this book can be paired with. Great Depression Era California and the migrant worker population, and the study of the Mexican Labor Camps in Depression Era times; using the story to look at the historical, social, and cultural circumstances that help to account for the great challenges for migrants upon coming to the United States. 

The book also leads to in-depth exploration of the character study of Esperanza as she suddenly falls from her comfortable perch as the beloved child of a wealthy landowner surrounded by family and servants to quickly becoming a servant herself among an extended family of immigrant farm workers. The changes that Esperanza undergoes as she discovers herself and her strengths as she grows from a pampered child into a resourceful and responsible young woman are ripe for discussion and detailed study. 

The Esperanza Rising Novel Study offered in my store gives a complete study of the topics above. The novel study not only provides higher order thinking questions for each chapter, vocabulary activities for 118 words, writing activities that explore the character transformation of Esperanza and the real life aspects of the story, but also an in-depth activity that explores the allegory used throughout the novel and the meanings behind it.

Please visit my store to check out my novel study for Esperanza Rising as part of your celebration of the 15th anniversary!

PEEP Into My Store for Savings Sale!

Happy Easter everyone! PEEP into my store, The Teaching Bank, at TpT today, 4/5/15, for 20% off everything! Fill your Easter baskets with a bounty of savings!