Author: Amanda Cottrell

Summer Learning Series – Part 2 – Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco

Summer Learning Series – Part 2 – Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco

Today we’re continuing our Summer Learning Series, lessons I previously taught, based on The Heartwood Ethics Curriculum. One of our trademark Boone weather patterns is a good ole summer rain storm.  When these usually arrive after a “hot” day (hot being a relative term for 

$5 Or Less Rainy Day Summer Fun with Kids

$5 Or Less Rainy Day Summer Fun with Kids

What is a mom to do about all those days that it rains (maybe everyday these days but I would rather deal with a little storm each afternoon than extreme heat)?  There are several things you CAN do when it’s raining so get your galoshes 

Summer Learning Series – Part 1 – Ish by Peter H. Reynolds

Summer Learning Series – Part 1 – Ish by Peter H. Reynolds

As a former school counselor, one of my favorite things about my job was going into the classrooms and teaching a guidance curriculum.  This included character education and I would love to share some fun little lessons that I have adapted from The Heartwood Ethics Curriculum, which is what I used at my first school.  Today I would like to share the story of Ish and an easy lesson you can do at home.

Materials Needed:

  • Book – Ish by Peter H. Reynolds (available through Watauga County Library)
  • Paper
  • Crayons, paint, pens/pencils, colored pencils, or markers, etc.
  • Any art materials you may have in your home

The Story:  Ish is the story of Ramon and how he learns about having the courage to draw by being encouraged.  Ramon loves to draw and is proud of his drawings until his brother makes fun of them.  Ramon is discouraged until he learns how much his sister, Marisol, admires his artwork.  Marisol encourages Ramon to continue drawing “ish-ly”, instead of worrying about making his drawings “perfect.”  I won’t spoil the entire story for you.  I still enjoy reading it, myself!

Character Trait:  I used this book to teach COURAGE/ENCOURAGEMENT to my first grade classes.

Activity:  Using your art materials, work with your children to create “ish” drawings or write “ish” poems.  For example, in the story, Ramon draws a vase and when he says it’s not very good, Marisol tells him it’s “vase-ish”.  It doesn’t have to be perfect – it can be whatever you like!  Use this story to teach your children about doing their best with their work and play and having courage to express themselves with art.  You can admire each other’s drawings and poems and have fun doing it.  After you have collected a few “ish” drawings/poems, make a book for your family.  Have each person present their “ish” creations to the family and share encouraging words with what you like about their drawing/poem.  Have fun!

My Reflection:  I loved this story because it allowed for creative expression in the classroom and practice with how to say encouraging words to one another.  The story shows how a young child appreciates another child’s work and how each person can do their best with creative expression and it doesn’t have to be “just right”, according to someone else’s standards.  Reading this story recently brought back a lot of great memories in the classroom!  I hope you enjoy this little lesson, maybe on a rainy day or a sunny day in the backyard.

 

$5 or Less Sunny Summer Fun with Kids!

$5 or Less Sunny Summer Fun with Kids!

Sometimes the lack of school and routine can make for some rough days during the summer.  Also, if mom is used to some fun activities with other gals throughout the year, this can make summer extra difficult.  Here are some fun ideas to get out 

Are you a “Southern Saver”?

Are you a “Southern Saver”?

Southern Savers is hands down my favorite savings blog.  I had the opportunity to meet Jenny Martin, owner of the blog, a few years back when she came to the High Country to teach a couponing workshop.  Jenny is also a big supporter of Operation 

Serving Others with Your Children – Part 2

Serving Others with Your Children – Part 2

Last week we took a look at a few places where you might be able to serve our community with your children.  Here’s a peek into a few more:

Green Street Catering – This catering ministry is housed at our church, Alliance Bible Fellowship.  I absolutely loved delivering meals to a specific neighborhood in our community on Thursday afternoons.  We really got to know the folks in the neighborhood by name and a little bit about them, as well.  Unfortunately, our life group was not able to continue due to changes in our own lives and schedules but this is a great way to connect with others in the community.  You can volunteer by either delivering meals or helping prepare meals in the kitchen to serve at the church or for those that deliver them.  It is always good to have two adults help deliver the meals, especially if you take children with you.  Of course, remember to always use good discernment and judgment when venturing into new neighborhoods with which you are unfamiliar, especially if children are involved.

Watauga County Library – When I was in middle school, I volunteered at the Western Branch of the Watauga County Library.  I have some great memories of working with books and my Great Aunt Madge as she was also a volunteer.  This might be something wonderful if you have an avid reader on your hands!

Watauga County Humane Society has several volunteer opportunities and clear policies about the ages of children that can volunteer.  If your child loves animals, this might be a great service project for him or her this summer.

Helping Hands – Know someone in your neighborhood who is sick or could use a helping hand around the house or outdoors?  Perhaps you and your children could prepare a meal, offer to clean or do yard work, or make a craft to cheer up your neighbor.

Hunger Coalition Fun Run – Join in fighting hunger in our community by participating in the Fun Run on September 21.

Do you and your family have a special way that you serve in the community?  I would love to hear from you!

Serving Others with Your Children – Part 1

Serving Others with Your Children – Part 1

Some schools are still in session, you might be wondering how you’re going to fill some of those sun-filled days in the High Country.  We have many great opportunities to serve others right here in our area.  I believe it is important to teach children 

A Personal Guide to Thrifting

A Personal Guide to Thrifting

One of my favorite places to shop is at thrift stores.  Thrifting takes patience and time so if you’re not in a place in life right now where you can put forth those two things, that’s okay.  I’m not either, with a sweet little babe 

Saving Money and Mom’s Sanity

Saving Money and Mom’s Sanity

I am very passionate about saving money but even more so when it comes to helping others save a few dollars.  We try to cut costs so that I can stay home to care for our daughter but there are many reasons to save money these days, including the rising cost of food and goods.  Here are some of my top tips for saving in today’s economy, most of which I have learned from Jenny Martin at Southern Savers, a reputable savings blog for the Southeastern part of the United States:

  • Budgeting – Two years ago we took Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University at our church.  Although I was hesitant to take it at first, I am so thankful that we did because we learned a wealth of knowledge and even more practical ways to work on our finances.  We learned how to improve our budget and more importantly, our budget meetings.  If you haven’t taken this class, I urge you to find the class nearest you and check it out.
  • Doing Without – We choose to go without a few things in our home and lifestyle.  Some of these things include cable TV, new cars (and car payments – our cars are from the 90’s), eating out every weekend, etc.
  • Rebates – I used to be an avid couponer and then I moved away from my favorite store for a period of time.  Although I still coupon occasionally, I prefer grocery rebates.  (Perhaps I’ll return to couponing in the near future.)  You can find rebates on Ebay or sometimes at your local grocery store.  I’ll share more in depth about rebates and coupons in future posts.
  • Diapers – Before we had our baby, I thought I would cloth diaper exclusively, with the exception of travel.  The reality for me is that I use cloth diapers when I’m at home.  There were other things that were more valuable to me when it came to spending time and money so I decided to use both types of diapers for my sanity’s sake.  I save money on disposable diapers by using Southern Savers’ diaper guide.  Right now we’re in size 2 and I never pay more than 16 cents per diaper, according to this guide.  I do this by pairing coupons with the drug store sales and shopping local grocery stores when they have size 2 diapers on sale for $6.99.  I also participate in the Pampers Gifts to Grow Program and use my points to buy $5 off codes for Diapers.com, which allows me to stay within the recommended price range, as well.
  • Cloth in the Kitchen – Instead of using paper towels for everything, we use cloth napkins for meals and old rags for cleaning.  I still use a paper towel every now and then but I only buy them a few times per year.  A few months ago I realized I needed a sturdy cloth napkin in a dark color and I found a great deal on Amazon, which has made laundry a bit easier when I serve something that stains easily.
  • Thrifting – I love a good bargain for a high quality item!  I have been known to take a trip to the Lake Norman/Huntersville/Mooresville area solely to shop thrift stores, as well as take a trip around the High Country for a day of thrifting.  My favorite stores are the Goodwill stores in Wilkesboro and Boone and when we lived in Avery County I enjoyed the Blair Fraley Thrift Store at Crossnore School.  More to come in the future about thrifting!
  • Restaurant Discounts – When we do choose to eat out (we have a small budget of $75 per month), I like to use coupons and check out Restaurant.com for any local deals. Realdealsnow.com is also a great source for saving some money on local, High Country restaurants.
  • Saving on Movies – We hardly ever go to the movies and when we do, I usually use a deal that I purchased from Groupon or another similar site.  Southern Savers will usually post these deals on her blog, which makes it easy to find the deals without spending too much time it.

Although we have a few things we already do well when it comes to saving money, I have a few goals for my future.  I would love to:

  • Make my own laundry detergent
  • Make my own cleaning supplies
  • Make my own baby food

I would love to hear from you!  How do you save money in your home while saving your sanity in the process?

Understanding End of Grade Tests

Understanding End of Grade Tests

In a few weeks, many students throughout the High Country will take the North Carolina End of Grade Tests (EOG’s), which are often a source of stress amongst students, teachers and parents.  As a former school counselor, I spent thirty percent of my time coordinating