Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Gratitude......turns what we have into enough, and more." - Melody Beattie

It's been a crazy winter - my first blog entry since last November - and the best word to sum up the craziness is "gratitude."  Amid and among normal family and grandfamily stuff: two of our families moved to new homes, my sons took their basketball teams to state finals (two different states), my daughter-in-law graduated from an intensive post-bach nurses training, and my husband landed in the hospital for a couple weeks with a critical infection, now in remission and recovery.  So "gratitude" is the key word:  grateful all things were safely and successfully resolved, and grateful we're on the other side of it all, and in one piece!

I finished one subplan during the winter:  "Ships and Shipwrecks" for 5th/6th graders.  Take a look:

There are reading comprehension passages and follow up activities on the Sultana, Titanic, Andrea Doria, and Edmund Fitzgerald.  And for kids more interested in vacation cruises than shipwrecks, an opportunity to design and promote their very own dream cruise.  As with all my subplans, there is minimal teacher preparation - perfect for a last minute sub teacher day.
On another track, Jack Apps Education is now a real company - Chris (co-writer and "limited liability partner") and I went through all the filings and paperwork without having a clue what we were doing - and now we're for real!  Our first app, "Build Compound Words" is for sale on your ipad, and we've begun working on "Build Plurals." 
Our educational apps are unique because we use pictures of real objects and people rather than cartoons - so important to help diverse learners make connections to the real world around them.  Another goal is to supplement our apps with printable materials, providing built-in practice for students to write words and sentences in a variety of formats. Our  printable products are available at,, and soon on our very own Jack Apps Education website.
But back to thinking about gratitude - this winter has been a rollercoaster ride and I've once again learned (for maybe the millionth time) to be grateful for the gifts inside each and every moment.
Best and always,

Thursday, November 13, 2014

"Compound It all!" -me

Or was that "confound it all?"  After working on our Build Compound Words App (for ipad) these past several months, I may have confused nf with mp!    We (Chris Holm, Speech/Language Clinician, and Kim Wapola, Developer Extraordinaire) have been working together since January to put together an animated online product that would support this common core standard: 
Use knowledge of the meaning of individual words to predict the meaning of compound words (e.g., birdhouse, lighthouse, housefly; bookshelf, notebook, bookmark).
The app will soon be available!

In the meantime, there are printable products already available here:  We believe the real photographs used in these products (the same photos used in the app) are especially worthwhile for students with limited language or diverse learning needs.   
 1.  Build Compound Words for Kids is a compilation of 10 different activities to practice compound words for independent word-work stations or literacy centers. Click here for the full preview:

2.  Build Compound Words for Teachers includes 5 comprehensive activities designed to be used for therapy or 1:1 sessions, with recording sheets and IEP goals/objectives included.  Click here to see it:
3.  Build Compound Words All in One is just that: both products combined.  And here it is!

Definitely time to "Compound It All!" - in your classroom, homeschool, or therapy settings. 

Best always and ever,

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Congratulations! Today is your day. You're off to great places! You're off and away! - Dr. Seuss

We three (me, Jim, and the dog) are back on Minnesota soil after driving the "circle tour" - counterclockwise - around Lake Superior.  We encountered dense fog for one full day,  unrelenting gale force winds for one day, crazy drivers who didn't seem to notice the above mentioned obstacles.......and guess what?  We'd do it all again in a heartbeat.  The landscape, lakescape, history, people (not in cars) we encountered on every one of our 1230 miles were extraordinary.  This is a trip worth taking!

Future subplans?  Voyageurs and the Fur Trade; Famous Shipwrecks on Lake Superior; Copper Mining; Iron Ore Mining; .....I could be busy for awhile!
Best always and ever (and still unpacking),

Saturday, October 11, 2014

all God's critters got a place in the choir, some sing low, some sing higher..... -Bill Staines

I'm reminded of this song when I hear our administrators talk about inclusion of special needs kids in our mainstream classrooms.  Sounds so right!  Everyone has a desk in the classroom no matter what culture, learning style, disability, size, shape, needs. 

But what if having every kid together in one place doesn't allow for every individual in the classroom to show progress and learn?  What if the distractions are too great?  What if language or communication styles are too diverse?  What if there are just too many adults and kids in the room?  What if the range of academic functioning is greater than 2 grade levels?  What if the district mandated curriculum has no relevance to our kids' real worlds at home?

Having all kids "singin' in the choir" is a beautiful notion, but is it more important for kids to feel "included" in a group - or for each kid to reach his or her greatest learning potential?

Be well and always,

Friday, September 26, 2014

"Rollin', Rollin', Rollin' on the river!"

The tune has been playing over and over in my head all day!  Several reasons why, actually, since the Mighty Mississippi is very close by and I drove across it twice today.  Also because it's a sleepy kind of September day and I'd love to be "rollin" on the river instead of driving across it.  And mainly because I just finished writing about the Mississippi River - its history, steamboats and stories.       
 (rollin', rollin....)


I think there are some fun activities in here to go along with solid learning for your 5th or 6th graders.  And just for kicks, click on this link for an animated activity on locks and dams from the National Park System.  It's addictive!

p.s. The tune now inside your head is brought to you by Creedance Clearwater Revival.

Be well today and always,

Sunday, September 14, 2014

"When I was very young, most of my childhood heroes wore capes, flew through the air, or picked up buildings with one arm. They were spectacular and got a lot of attention. But as I grew, my heroes changed, so that now I can honestly say that anyone who does anything to help a child is a hero to me." - Fred Rogers

Although this is my favorite perspective (anything Mr. Rogers said is my favorite perspective), there are many other ways to think about our heroes.  I think it's important for kids to think about heroes, too, and not just the ones with capes.  Helping kids find the right kinds of heroes when they're young may help them grow into being heroes themselves.

This full day of activities for you or for your sub helps kids explore their own, individual ideas about heroes.  Can one kid's ideas be different from another kid's on this topic?  And what really are the attributes of a hero?   People in their families, their neighborhoods, books, movies, and, yes, even cartoons - no limit to the places in our world where we find people we look up to, people we want to be like.

Check out these activities for yourself and get the conversation going in your classroom at the very beginning of the school year.  Helping kids learn about heroes helps them know the kinds of people they want to be.
This full day is aligned with 4th grade common core standards and includes extra forms for your sub.
This one has all the same activities without the extra paperwork.  
 PLEASE, though, check the previews so you'll know for certain if the reading level is appropriate for your kids!

Back to Mr. Rogers, heroes are always the people who help kids.  And that's you.

Be well and always,