Monday, December 31, 2012

Making Resolutions that Work

Once again it is the end of one year and the beginning of the next. And, many of us will be making New Year’s Resolutions. As we know, most resolutions are broken early on or never actually started. To help you (and myself) have maximum opportunity for success with resolutions, I offer these tips:

Be specific
Rather than say, “I resolve to lose weight this year,” resolve to lose ten pounds in the next six months. Rather than say, “I resolve to read more,” resolve to read one book in the next two months.

Make realistic resolutions
Rather than say, “I resolve to exercise for an hour every day,” resolve to walk for 20 minutes three times a week.” Rather than say, “I resolve to eliminate chocolate and/or fried foods from my diet,” resolve to limit the intake of chocolate to one candy bar per week/two meals per week that have fried foods.

Make two or three resolutions
Rather than make a huge list of resolutions, just make two or three that are specific and realistic. Be consistent with your commitment to those few resolutions, and when you have mastered them, make new resolutions or revise the current ones. For example, if you resolve to walk for 20 minutes three times a week, and you are successful in doing this until Valentine’s Day, revise that resolution to walking for 30 minutes four times a week. Then, if you have done this consistently, at Easter, revise again to walk for 45 minutes five times a week.

Make an action plan
Now outline how you are going to enact these resolutions. When are you going to actual walk those 20 minutes and where? (I find that if I get on the treadmill right after morning necessities and before getting ready for work, the walking/jogging happens.) What are you going to take for lunch at work every day to avoid chicken nuggets, fries, etc.? (Planning for an packing your own lunch doesn’t have to be hard or time consuming. I’m sure pintrest has lots of ideas!)

Stick to the action plan
Do whatever you can to commit and maintain your plan. Take those extra five minutes every evening to put your lunch together. Get up 30 minutes earlier to exercise. Keep track of your success (or barriers to your success).

Re-evaluate the action plan
Some say it takes 21 days of consistently modifying a behavior to make it a habit. I would suggest trying it for 6 weeks. Nobody is perfect, but it is important to have more days where you are consistent with your efforts than days where you are not.
If you have been successful for six weeks, ramp up your plan or create a new resolution/goal for yourself.
If you have not been as successful as you hoped, really be honest with yourself about what happened. Were you not committed? What got in the way? Did you pick a time of day to exercise that wasn’t realistic? Did you make a resolution that was too challenging at this time?

Making changes to eating habits, exercise routines (like adding one J), thinking positively, behavior changes, response/reaction changes, etc., are challenging. You’ve been doing things a particular way for a very long time. Thinking you can change overnight is not realistic and not fair to yourself.

Sometimes we have to change the messages we tell ourselves. So you cheated on your new diet plan and had an order of fries on the way home one evening. So what? Don’t throw all your efforts and hopes and work away! You’re not a bad person! Just don’t stop at McD’s tomorrow. Tell yourself, “I will do better tomorrow.” Then do better tomorrow. 

All of these suggestions have helped me be successful in a number of life changes, one of which involved losing 48 pounds in the last 2 years. If I can be successful with this challenge and many others I have faced and changed over the years, you can too! 
Before the commitment with a doable action plan (Dec. 2010)
Dec. 2012 .. 48 pounds lighter! :-)

By the way....all these tips apply to child care and teaching practices. If there is a professional skill you wish to develop or a practice you wish to change, the tips should help you do that, too!

If you need a cheerleader or coach, I am happy to help! If you would like your resolutions evaluated for “doableness,” I am happy to help! And remember, in the words of Helen Keller, “Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.”

Happy New Year and Best Wishes in all your future endeavors!
~Dr. Ellaine B. Miller
Auburn University

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Organization for the New Year Ahead!

photo of: Organizing by Months at PreK+K Sharing

Hello friends new and old familiar! 
For my new friends I am Kaci from over at
Mrs. Hoffer’s Spot
mrs h (2)

I want to give Debbie a HUGE hug for letting me talk over here! 
When she came to me she asked me to talk a little about organization! 
Ha! If you know me, you know organization IS NOT MY DEAL!
I was thinking and thinking and thinking and it hit me! 
Hey, you DO have a pretty good way of keeping your monthly ideas together!
This was the view of my classroom midsummer when I implemented my new system.


I will spare you the pictures of the MOUNTAINS of books that it whittled down to this! I sat in a circle and sorted my books by month. It took me FOR-EV-ER!
Then I laid the rest of the 9 tubs on the floor, and as I came across centers, pencils, cutouts, or anything that I would need that month, into the tubs it went.


This is how I keep my tubs. See the yellow arrow, those are my tubs. 
Top row is my “stuff” tubs and bottom row holds my books.
Now you ask, you have your pencils, books, premade centers, but where are all your files?
Well I have one answer for you.

My new external hard drive! I have no paper copies of anything, other than my books. Which I keep within a reach of my computer.

This is my book and dvd/cd library. For teacher hands ONLY!
Well thank you for letting me visit! I hope my one organizational idea helps you out a little! Enjoy the rest of your Christmas Break!

I've just added a set of 'tub labels' as a freebie over at Teachers Pay Teachers. 
Click right here if you need something like this to get you motivated! 

Kaci Hoffer is a Kindergarten Teacher in Oklahoma. She has been teaching for 3 years now. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. She loves all things Kindergarten, spending many hours blogging, pinning and creating on TeachersPayTeachers. When she isn’t on her computer she is spending time with her husband and two dogs.
Teachers Pay Teachers

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Chinese New Year - some simple crafts

The Christmas season is almost over (how time flies) and the New Year is upon us.... and just beyond, we can already glimpse the very exciting and fun CHINESE NEW YEAR!  A great time of year to get crafty in the class room or at home. So we are still in the middle of our Christmas break, I wanted to keep this post short and sweet and share with you my Chinese New Year posts:

Simple Chinese Paper Lantern Craft for Kids Chinese New Year of the Snake Chinese New Year Crafts - Lanterns (1)
Classic Paper Lanterns - we made a Fairy Light version of these too!

All the crafts are super simple and fun to make. And we will have more Chinese New Year crafts coming, so watch this space!

 Happy Holidays!

 Maggy from Red Ted Art

 (PS if you are looking for some last minute Christmas Movies, check out my reader's favourite! And make some Christmas Popcorn whilst there!)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

build a lego table for your classroom!

Happy Boxing Day! I hope you and your family had an amazing holiday season! I wanted to share a little something different on PreK and K Sharing today, a project I made for my son for Christmas...but could easily be replicated by YOU for your classroom!

LEGOS. I love them, but oh my, my vacuum loves them too (and so does my 1 year old, who in turn loves to destroy my 4 year old's creations.) I looked at Lego tables and they are EXPENSIVE! I built this one for under $30.

For this project you need:
1 LACK side table from IKEA ($7.99)
1 TROFAST bin from IKEA ($3.99)
1 LEGO play plate from Target ($12.99)
Loctite Stick N Seal (you can also use Earthquake Putty) ($3.29)

While you're at IKEA, you need to go to the Returns desk and ask if you can purchase (or have) a set of the TROFAST rails. They are plastic. At my IKEA they gave them to me. They are made to screw into the TROFAST system (obviously) but you can use the Loctite to glue them to the underside of your table for some storage!

Use the Loctite Stick N Seal to also glue down the LEGO play plate to the top of the table. It takes about 24 hours to completely dry.

 My son is still obsessed with Matchbox cars, so I used a silver Sharpie and a ruler to make dashed lines   on the table around the large LEGO piece. Now he can drive his cars around his creations!
 And one of the best parts?! The storage bin underneath *should* be an easy place to keep all his unused pieces and parts. I suppose I'm dreaming of a LEGO utopia or something, right?!
If you teach younger students (or have younger kiddos) you can purchase a Mega Blocks play plate and a larger TROFAST bin to keep your larger blocks in.

So there you have it. A happy 4 year old. A happy mama. A happy wallet...and LEGO creations galore! What more can you ask for! Inspired?!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Importance of Sleep

The Importance of Sleep

by Meagan Ledendecker

Although this may not be the time of year when we're thinking about getting a good night sleep, the holiday break from routine can provide an opportunity for families to establish some good sleep habits.  

When our children are young, they are developing their personalities and striving for independence, which also means they need to test limits and see what they can achieve.  

Often this increased willfulness can lead to sleep struggles (namely with nap times and bedtimes).  

What our young children don't know, though, is that their developing brains really need sleep!  Lost sleep is cumulative.  Marc Weissbluth, M.D. writes in Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, about the effects of sleep deprivation:
"If children have constant amounts of sleep deficits, do they show these same escalating problems during the day?  Yes! I believe the young child's brain is as sleep-sensitive as, if not more so than, an adult's.  It is also possible that severe or chronic sleep deficits occurring early during the period of rapid brain growth might hard-wire circuits to produce permanent effects." 
study posted on the National Sleep Foundation's website explains the short-term effects.  Two- to three-year-olds who miss a single nap show “more anxiety, less joy and interest, and a poorer understanding of how to solve problems.”

Both Richard Ferber, M.D., and Marc Weissbluth, M.D., share simple steps in their respective books: 

Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems

and Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.  

In implementing a new approach to help our children get a healthy amount of sleep, keep in mind Weissbluth's practical tips to not confuse these issues: 

As parents and educators we want our children to have the opportunity to reach their fullest potential.  Having a firm and loving plan in place for sleep routines is a gift you can give your child that will last a lifetime.


Meagan Ledendecker grew up in a Montessori school with two Montessori teachers and administrators as parents. She has an M.S. in Environmental Education, has taught in the public school system, and provided numerous professional development workshops for teachers. Meagan pursued Montessori teacher training after the birth of her first child, and co-founded The Montessori School of the Berkshires with her husband.  She now serves as the Director of Education and has three children who attend the school.

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