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Christian Books for Easter

 Now hear me here... I love some Peeps and Cadburry Eggs! Like Christmas, I do struggle with mainstream culture moving the heart of the holiday to secular traditions and iconography.  

Here is a list of some of my favorite books for the Easter Season that tell the story of Christ.

Add to the Canon

“Intelligence plus character. That is the goal of true education.” -MLK

We need to expand the canon in our understanding and knowledge of Black lives. Below is a selection of books that go beyond Martin and Rosa. These texts should not be isolated to a day and the month of February alone. 

Kids need to see themselves AND people who don’t look like themselves in the media of your home. It’s important to share both the history AND the everyday lives of people who look different than you.

Previous research has shown that...
3-month-old babies may look differently at people who look like or don’t look like their primary caregivers.
9-month-olds use race to categorize faces
3-year-old children in the U.S. associate some racial groups with negative traits.
By age 4, children in the U.S. associate whites with wealth and higher status, and race-based discrimination is already widespread when children start elementary school. 

“Toddlers can’t do calculus, but that doesn’t mean we don’t teach them to count. You can have a conversation with a toddler about race that is meaningful to them on their level. Children are capable of thinking about all sorts of complex topics at a very young age. Even if adults don't talk to kids about race, children will work to make sense of their world and will come up with their own ideas, which may be inaccurate or detrimental.”

Things that are harmful:
*Silence *”Skin color doesn’t matter” *”I don’t see in color” *”We’re all the same on the inside” *”It’s not polite to talk about that” *The “American Dream” and that anybody can achieve anything they want through hard work

Things that are beneficial:

*Honesty *Aware of your own biases *Reflect to identify where people who are different than you are apart of your daily life and next steps*Not knowing all of the answers, but keeping the conversation going ❤️

“Adults Delay Conversations About Race Because They Underestimate Children’s Processing of Race,” by Jessica Sullivan, PhD; Leigh Wilton, PhD, Skidmore College; and Evan P. Apfelbaum, PhD, Boston University, Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, published online Aug. 6, 2020


President's Day Books

There are so many options, but here are some of the read alouds that I used the most in class. 

🍎 compare and contrast (same person, different, additional resources)- lives, viewpoints, trends, characteristics, society
🍎directed drawing/create a character x ray to identify values on the inside and evidence on the outside
🍎 create timeline, cartoon, obituary, advice for others, moto and personal rules, book to teach younger children, game, baseball card, design a house/room, diary entry, plan a vacation, tips for them if they lived today, social media page, etc. so many options!

Also, I think being President would be like the worst job ever!!! πŸ˜‚πŸ™…πŸ»‍♀️

Accountable Talk in the Elementary Classroom

For the longest time, I kept hearing all this buzz about ‘accountable talk’…but I was never quite sure what it was exactly. I knew that allowing my students to talk with each other about their ideas and the work they were doing was good teaching practice. Not to mention, talking is fundamental to their learning. But I also knew that not all talk promoted learning. So, what kind of talk is helpful to engage in for my student’s sustained learning? Accountable talk! Basically, in order for classroom talk to promote learning, it must be accountable.

What I’ve come to understand is that accountable talk is ultimately a classroom practice based on the student-centered discussion – where the students must support and defend their claims with evidence. Think about that for a minute…if you don’t understand what you’re talking about, you can’t really defend it using evidence. This is what makes accountable talk so helpful to learning and assessing. Talking with others about ideas and work is fundamental to learning. It gives us the opportunity to organize our thinking into coherent utterances, hear how our thinking sounds out loud, listen to how others respond, and, often, hear others add to or expand on our thinking. But not all talk sustains learning. For classroom talk to promote learning it must be accountable to the learning community, to accurate and appropriate knowledge, and to rigorous thinking.

Student-centered discussion using accountable talk is so beneficial to your student’s learning. For one, they remain highly engaged because they are allowed to use their natural desire to talk to one another. Having accountable conversation also allows students to process the lesson material much more deeply than teacher-centered talk. By actively discussing specific topics and defending their ideas and opinions on these topics, students internalize the material in a super authentic way. Plus, when you implement accountable talk, you’re easily able to evaluate and assess each student based on their participation in the discussion. Students can transfer the phrases and discussion strategies to non-academic talk.  Don’t be surprised to start hearing accountable talk stems out on the playground!

You can never be too prepared when it comes to teaching your class a new procedure or routine. No matter how well prepared we are, it always seems that a student will catch us off-guard with a question that we hadn’t expected. When you introduce accountable talk, you can bet that at least one student will ask, “Why do we have to do this?” or “What is the point of these talks?” By planning ahead, you can reduce stress and have answers ready for all of those curious questions. Aside from preparing for questions that students have, how will you logistically introduce the idea of accountable talk? With a video?  An activity?  A discussion? Whatever you decide, make sure you have a game plan. If your students see you getting flustered just by introducing accountable talks, you can bet that they too will feel flustered as they try to learn this new procedure.

When you feel that you personally are prepared and well-versed in accountable talks, it’s time to expose your students to this new idea that you will be implementing! While I love using videos to introduce new procedures or concepts, a class discussion is a great way to introduce accountable talks. After all, the whole basis for accountable talks is class discussion! Start by asking your kids if they know what accountable talk is?  Have a brainstorming session where all ideas and thoughts about accountable talk are welcome. You can even make a list as a class and then go back and review it once they understand what an accountable talk is! Explain that in a learning discussion, each contributor to the conversation is held accountable.  This means that each person must give reasons and evidence for their opinions.

This is the presentation I put together that walks through accountable talk and how it can be used in your classroom. It includes all sorts of videos, ideas, and explanations. Click the link for a handout packet that I've made with teachers that includes a synopsis and materials to get started right away.

Books for Valentines that focus on love and kindness

I love books that enact kids to do something.  While I think Valentines is a weird holiday- here are some books that take it beyond hearts and chocolates.

National Parks and a Road Trip with a Baby

When Amos was three months, we took him on a road trip in the West. There are so many options for airports and route options. It is dizzying! After some intense searching and planning, we decided upon this itinerary. 

Day 1: Phoenix-Sedona. We arrived in Phoenix, rented a car, went to the grocery store to stock up on food/snacks (we love tortilla and peanut butter rolls ups for this type of excursion), and then headed to Sedona. There are many great trails all around Sedona, and we took one that was close to our hotel. We got takeout from the Javelina Catina- don't miss their prickly pear margarita! We stayed at the Arabella Hotel and had a great experience. 

Day 2: We got a little bold- Sedona- Grand Cayon NP- Monument Valley- Cortez. (Due to the pandemic, we had to cancel our initial plans to stay at the View Inn in Monument Valley for the next night.  We booked the top floor so that we had complete open access to the stars and structures! We will hopefully be able to go back again when everything is open.) We bought an annual National Parks pass before going, and it paid for itself on this trip! 

We left Sedona just before 5 am and drove to the southern rim of the Grand Canyon.  There we hiked the out and back South Kaibab trail to the Ooh Ahh Point. From there, we changed our clothes and went to the various viewpoints of the canyon, snapped some pictures, and ate lunch. From there, we drove to Monument Valley so that we could stop and get the iconic Forest Gump shot.  It would have been a perfect day if we could have stayed near Monument Valley, but we decided to press on to Cortez and found a hotel there.  There are SO MANY cool structures along the way that are often missed because they aren't National Parks or monuments. There are some small towns between Monument Valley and Cortez, but Amos was asleep, so we pressed on. 

Day 3: Mesa Verde NP-Moab. We woke up to hike Mesa Verde and see all of the cool structures.  Some of the more in-depth views were closed, but we could spend the morning at the park.  From there it is 2 hours to Moab.  We stopped at Newspaper Rock and some of the other natural structures along the way.  We stayed at the Inca Inn- which was cheap and no-frills. There are a ton of hotels in Moab- and all are convenient to the parks. We ate at Moab Diner and would have had a milkshake at Milts if it hadn't been closed. 

* Note: You could skip Mesa Verde and drive the 2 hours from Monument Valley to Moab.

Day 4: Arches NP. Woke up early to hike Delicate Arch.  Get there early to avoid the heat and crowds.  The hike is more difficult than some assume, and the arch itself is in a giant bowl with drop-offs all around. From there, we hiked to some of the other arches and viewpoints.  We drove back that night to watch the stars from balancing rock. Many of the National Parks are called "Dark Sky Parks" for their low light pollution and ability to see the stars.  It's an experience like no other to see them so intensely! You can see the entire Milky Way if the skies are clear. 

Day 5: Canyonlands NP- Dead Horse Point State Park. Canyonlands is more rugged and vast compared to the rest of the National Parks.  There are easy trails to viewpoints, off-road play, and more extreme activities.  Basically, the entire southern half of Utah could be a National Park. Grand Escalante is not to be missed and has SO MANY treasures. Utah has its own system of parks that do not work with the National Park Pass.  You could buy an annual membership or multi-day/park types. 

Day 6: Goblin Valley State Park- SLC. We woke up early to drive 90 minutes to Goblin Valley. This is another off the main drag type of place and one of the coolest places to visit.  The valley is filled with "hoodoos" and is the location for movies like "City Slickers." We hiked to the Goblin's Lair and did an abbreviated version around the valley. We drove to SLC from Goblin Valley to see family, but it could be the point to loop back down south.  From Goblin Valley, you could go head to Capitol Reef NP, Escalante, Bryce, Zion, Vegas, etc. 

Traveling with a baby in July definitely required some pre-planning.  Here are some of our favorite baby/hiking gear.

PSA: PLEASE do not make a road trip in the south without an actual atlas.  The cell phone service is limited, the towns are few and far between, and the nights are dark and cold. This is what we used. 

The nice thing is once you start collecting quality gear, you don't have to rebuy it, and it can be used in all sorts of circumstances.  When we recently went out of the country, we didn't have to get a single new piece of "gear." 

Our favorite day pack and weekend bags are from Cotopaxi. The Allpa is the best travel bag I've owned- and I've cycled my way through many. 

Shoes: We usually wear Chacos or Keens because they can get wet and find them really comfortable. For Chacos- get the cloud sole- you won't regret it! If we did more that involved rock climbing- we would have worn hiking shoes. 

Hiking backpack: We use Camelbaks because they are super easy and well thought out.  I like the version below because it will hold what we need and plenty of water for a hike. We also have a bladder to convert our Cotopaxi or other day packs into hydration packs. 

We take this tripod everywhere- hikes, hotel rooms, and even when I delivered Amos! I have had the same one for over twenty countries and countless other excursions.  You never know when you'll want a picture, and nobody is around, or you don't want another selfie. You have lots of options for shots with the flexible lets. This is also great for watching shows just about anywhere. 

Power: Don't be caught in the middle of nowhere or at a picturesque point without juice! Your phone will drain faster due to service, increased photos, maps, and heat. 

Things for baby:
Snack cooler- to hold water, milk, etc. We've gotten so much use out of this between travel, weekends around town, and daycare. I pumped in the car and then used bottles for the trail and on long stretches of road. We'd still be in Phoenix if we used breast strictly. 

Frogg Togg- we used this as a changing pad and to keep Amos cool in the heat. 

Hydration: Our doctor recommended taking Pedialyte packs on hikes because babies can quickly dehydrate between the outside heat and strapped to a chest or backpack. We always made sure he ate right before we went on a trail and then would give him this if we noticed he was hot. For adults, we LOVE Liquid IV.  You can freeze or add ice to your hydration bladder before a hike for cold water for the baby's bottle or keep a portion in the cooler bag. 

You will go through more water than you anticipate in the desert heat.  The dry heart and breeze trick you into thinking you aren't as dehydrated as you are.  Always have extra water back in the car. Dehydration can ruin a trip quick!
For diaper changes, we carried around dog poop bags. We also used a smaller travel bag to hold just what we needed for a hike that could be easily pulled out.  In it, I could keep 2-3 diapers, a small pack/bag of wipes, a dog poop bag, extra outfit. 

 While on the road, we kept a small noise machine and used a breastfeeding cover-up in the car to block out light and stimuli.  

Sun protection:
Babies under 6 months should not use sunscreen and have to use clothes as protection.  In the desert, that can pose a slight problem.  Swimwear can actually dehydrate a baby, so you need to find clothes that have SPF.  We have really loved coolibar and Patagonia.  We bought a pair of Coolibar pants for hikes and would rinse them out at night. Their products are incredible, and all have SPF built-in.  We also bought their blanket for in the car, and it is now our around the town blanket.  We had 2-3 wicking tops from Patagonia that had SPF built-in. We also used a bucket hat and sunglasses. The sun is no joke in these parks! 

For carrying around baby, we like these two carrier options:

For a car seat under 1, we cannot speak highly enough about the doona! We have used it both home and abroad.  It is a car seat and stroller and one- and we're obsessed!

Now that he's older, we'll use these items that are compact and travel friendly!

Sleeping: Take a sound machine (like the one mentioned above). We have used both of these and love them for different reasons. Long term, the guava baby will get more use.  We like that we could take both of these as carry-ons and use them in the airport if needed. 

Breastfeeding: I took a Spectra S1 because it is battery operated.  I pumped in the car so that we didn't have to stop on the road or tail. We liked using the Kiinde bags because we could throw them away and not worry about sanitizing everything. We stored milk on the trail in the snack bag and in the car in a cooler. 

Entertainment for baby in the car:
Amos LOVES "Baby Signing Time" which you can download or watch on Youtube. We also took these two items to give him something to look at and play with

There's nothing like moving at a different pace with your baby and getting outside! Reach out to me if you have any questions!!!