Over The Top Mommy

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Stop by the Think Pink Breast Health Wall of Honor at The Shops at Mission Viejo

Breast Health Wall of HonorLast week, when I was at “My Mall” grabbing a couple of things, I noticed the annual Think Pink Breast Health Wall of Honor was up, near the escalators. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Mission Hospital’s Valiant Women support group is hosting the 12th annual Think Pink Breast Health Wall of Honor, presented by Infiniti of Mission Viejo, at The Shops at Mission Viejo.

photo-359Now through October 31, the Breast Health Wall of Honor will be displayed in Center Court (lower level) of The Shops at Mission Viejo. Shoppers have the opportunity to donate $25 and place a hand-written card on the wall display in honor of a loved one or in remembrance of someone with breast cancer. Donations can also be made to underwrite the cost of a mammogram or diagnostic procedure ($100) for someone who could not otherwise afford it.

photo-360photo-361After taking some time to read through some of the literature, that’s free to take, at the tables and admiring all of the names on the Breast Health Wall of Honor, I really  enjoyed getting to chat with the two sweet ladies who were volunteering at the table that day. Meeting them and hearing about all that they do to help this wonderful organization raise money, was so inspirational. Volunteers really do make the world go ’round!

One-hundred percent of the proceeds benefit Mission Breast Health Services. That is the part I really like. The money they’re raising is all going towards the cause and helping those in need. Mission Breast Health Services is dedicated to providing women with preventive measures as well as offering a complete breast health program to diagnose and treat breast cancer with expertise, compassion and support. By involving medical professionals, survivors, family and friends, Mission takes a team approach to fighting breast cancer. Due to the generosity of the community, last year the event raised net proceeds of nearly $50,000 and was able to provide over 13,000 screening mammograms to under or uninsured women in our community.

photo-362I encourage you to stop by The Shops at Mission Viejo Breast Health Wall of Honor display. It’s a beautiful display. You can also make a donation there or find out other ways to donate. We can all do something to help, even if it’s just something small.

To make a donation to the Wall of Honor, click here. More details are available here.

Visit The Shops at Mission Viejo on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Why YOU Need to Grab a 2015 Knott’s Season Pass….Like NOW!

Disclosure: I was invited as a guest to enjoy time at Knott’s Berry Farm with my family in order to write this post. I do not work for any brand mentioned in this article, nor do I have a relationship with them. I have a professional relationship with GigaSavvy, for which I create written content. All opinions are 100% my own. 

get a pass

I’m not sure if you’re aware of just how affordable a Knott’s Season Pass is or how awesome all of the perks that come with it are, but if you’re not, just keep on reading this post while I tell you about why I love Knott’s and all of the reasons why I think you need to get one for 2015!

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had two different opportunities to go to Knott’s Berry Farm Park. I went once with my husband for an adults’ night out at Knott’s Scary Farm, which was amazingly scary and fun.

10671490_10152745588478584_4186076635222889008_nThen, this past weekend, all 3 of us visited Knott’s again, for the first weekend of Camp Spooky and to welcome Halloween. It was beyond adorable and Emi has been asking to go back again this weekend.

snoopy and emi

hugging 1I grew up in Southern California and going to Knott’s with my family was something that we did every summer. I have some pretty significant memories from those trips.  My first time riding on an upside-down roller coaster was at Knott’s! It was on the Corkscrew (which has since been replaced with Boomerang) and I rode it with my dad. We used to ride it together every time we visited Knott’s.

01 Corkscrew - Blue

For me, visiting Knott’s together as a family, is a time when we can enjoy being together and have fun, while creating new memories. I feel so fortunate to be able to share Knott’s with my own daughter now and all of the history that goes along with it. It’s part of Southern California culture and just what many of us like to do. Knott’s has a great location,in Buena Park, the weather is beautiful on most days and the pricing of a Season Pass really can’t be beat.

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(image credit: Knott’s)

Right now, a 2015 Knott’s Season Pass is at the lowest price of the year, priced at just $76.50 and includes so many perks.

Check out these perks of having a 2015 Knott’s Season Pass:

  • Easy pay payment program offers 9 easy payments of $8.50
  • one free daytime visit in 2014
  • additional 2014 visits added on for only $9.99 a day
  • unlimited visits in 2015
  • early ride times
  • food and merchandise discounts
  • Knott’s Hotel discounts
  • Scary Farm 2015 ticket discounts
  • Bring a Friend Days
  • Access to special Season Pass events and surprises
  • Access to Knott’s great seasonal offerings, including Knott’s Camp Spooky, Knott’s Merry Farm and Knott’s Berry Bloom
  • Option to add on unlimited access to Soak City OC
  • Option to add on a dining plan for only 9 easy payments of $11

Honestly, the price of the monthly payment is lower than the cost to take your kid(s) to a petting zoo or a movie in the theater one time a month. I like that Knott’s has priced their Season Passes so reasonably and has made them accessible for all types of families. It just makes sense to go and grab one now, don’t you think?

family with snoopy Getting to create special memories like these at Knott’s is something I hold near and dear to my own heart. I cannot wait for our next visit to Knott’s!

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To get more information about Knott’s Season Passes, click here.

Connect with Knott’s on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram too!

 

 

Camp Spooky is Taking Over Knott’s Camp Snoopy on Weekend Days in October!

One of the most adorable places to visit in Southern California as a family has got to be Knott’s Camp Snoopy! Located just inside of Knott’s Berry Farm, Camp Snoopy  features many of your favorite Peanuts characters and it’s just a fun place for kids to encounter kid-friendly attractions, including their 3 newest rides, Linus Launcher, Charlie Brown’s Kite Flyer, and Pig Pen’s Mud Buggies and 2 new interactive experiences for kids, Beagle Scout Headquarters and Peanuts’ Play Lot .

snoopyStarting this weekend, Camp Spooky will be taking over Camp Snoopy during the weekend days in October, as well as on Halloween. Camp Spooky provides an opportunity for children to participate in non-scary Halloween activities, that focus on “cheer rather than fear”! The shows and activities are geared towards children between the ages of 3 and 11. Camp Spooky admission is included in the price of regular Knott’s Berry Farm admission.

This year will be our first time visiting Camp Spooky. Although I grew up in Southern California and Knott’s Berry Farm was a big part of my childhood, there was no Camp Spooky back then, so for me, it’s a big deal too. Emi is kind of a planner, just like me, so when I told her we were going, she already starting looking at the park map again and making out her “Camp Spooky To-Do List”!

photo-355Here’s what you can be excited to find at Camp Spooky this year:

  • The Monsters Are Coming, Charlie Brown“, live theatre show in the Camp Spooky Theatre– Watch your favorite Peanuts characters in this adorable, live theatre production.
  • Peanuts Costume Parade-Kids are invited to wear a costume when they visit Camp Spooky and participate in a costume parade and contest, hosted by Snoopy and the Peanuts Gang. The contest takes place on Saturdays and Sundays in the Camp Spooky Theatre, immediately following the 3:45 show. Kids have the opportunity to win prizes too!
  •  Mini Monster Maze-Have fun roaming through the obstacles in this mini maze, with sweet treats awaiting guests at the end!
  • Photo Forest-You’ll encounter a few different interactive photo opportunities in this section of Camp Spooky. Look for the Mummy’s Manor, the mysterious mirrors of Medusa’s Bug Boutique, and The Witch’s Tea Party! You’ll be sure to capture some photo memories to last you a lifetime!
  • Witch’s Potion Station-for an additional fee, you can mix and match different potions, inspired by the witch’s own potions, to create the perfect and delicious potion of your own to take home and enjoy.

snoopy and woodstockNow we need to come up with little costumes to dress our Snoopy and Woodstock in! Any suggestions? 

We’re really excited to see all of our favorite Peanuts characters and get into the Halloween spirit this weekend at Camp Spooky! We hope to see some of you there!

water barrelFor general Knott’s Berry Farm information, click here. For ticket info, including a place to purchase park tickets at a discount, click here. Knott’s also offers season passes at a very reasonable price!

Connect with Knott’s Berry Farm on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram too!

I Got Chased by Zombies at Knott’s Scary Farm and Lived To Tell About It! #ScaryFarm

Disclosure: I was invited as a guest to spend time at Knott’s Scary Farm, in order to write this post. I do not work for any brand mentioned in this article, nor do I have a relationship with them. I have a professional relationship with GigaSavvy, for which I create written content. All opinions are 100% my own.

skeletonGetting a chance to attend opening weekend of Knott’s Scary Farm this year was such a fun experience! I hadn’t been to Knott’s Scary Farm since high school. Back in August, I got to attend a media unveiling event where they announced all of the frightful events they were planning for this year’s haunt.  I wasn’t sure  if I’d be brave enough to go when October rolled around!  Some of the main highlights looked REALLY scary from the previews they shared with us that night. Regardless, I was determined to go and act big and brave.

black and whiteThis year, Knott’s Scary Farm dates extend from September 25-November 1. It’s open from 7 p.m.-1 a.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays and from 7 p.m.-2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Scary Farm features 11 elaborately-themed walk through mazes and attractions, 4 endless scare zones across the park, 2 spectacular live shows, including Elvira’s Big Top and The Hanging, and over 1000 live monsters, ghosts, ghouls, goblins, and freaks roaming the park, ready to chase you around! All of that PLUS the regular park attractions makes for a crazy good time!

1529879_10152732150753442_6667314474973970108_oI think my first squeal of excitement of the night came when I was given a special Skeleton Key keychain on my lanyard, along with a Fright Lane wristband! The Fright Lane wristband and the Skeleton Key offers unlimited priority access to nine mazes and haunted attractions all night long. The Skeleton Key, which is included with all Fright Lane passes, “unlocks” a secret extra room inside of five mazes. Guests also receive a commemorative lanyard and collectible keychain. Fright Lane with Skeleton Key passes start at $65.00. (Separate theme park admission required, and not included)

photo-352I had a love-hate relationship with the mazes. While I dared to enter them with my hubby as my bodyguard, I was constantly screaming and petrified by all of the horrific things inside and yet, I kept running to find the next maze, every time we’d finish one! It’s like I couldn’t stop myself! I think my two favorite mazes were “Pinocchio Unstrung” and “Forevermore”.

IMG_5456Obviously I loved the story of Pinocchio as a little girl but when we ventured inside this maze, I think I realized almost immediately that it wasn’t going to be anything like the original story.

photo-349It was probably the creepy marionette show that gave it away!  It was mesmerizing and frightening all at once!  Poor Gepetto was all hacked up and bloody, lying on a table, too! Guess he’ll never get a real boy now! Hehe!

photo-351From the outside, Forevermore didn’t look so bad but once I got inside I knew that its look had been deceiving. It was a psych hospital and they were looking for an escaped murderer! That’s fun, right? Nothing like going through a mental ward where a bunch of crazies have all murdered people and are telling you that they killed all of their friends! I was lucky to escape without ending up in a straightjacket myself!

scary farm 1Yeah, I must admit that it was pretty creepy but that’s when my love-hate comes back into play since a normal person would’ve just run away and gone home. Not I though…nope, I got in line for Special Ops: INFECTED next! If you’re not familiar with the name, it’s because Infected is brand new for 2014. Knott’s describes it like this:

Infected seamlessly integrates interactive gaming technology with an immersive mountainous landscape, delivering a breakthrough interactive haunted experience that is as terrifying as it is challenging. Missions will take guests through a variety of wilderness terrains, including the unpredictable barrel bridges across the rushing river, through the dark caverns, and through mysterious backwoods. Six acres of the beloved theme park is now home to mutinous, scream-inducing zombies, and the time has come for a harrowing Special Ops survival mission.

This attraction was actually so much fun! I was worried that I wouldn’t know what to do because the rest of our group seemed like they’d played Laser Tag before and I hadn’t, but I did pretty well, at least in my own opinion. We were led through the Quarantined area by our two squadron leaders.

photo.PNG-22Thank goodness for these two! They saved us, but it wasn’t easy!  (photo credit: Knott’s)

I tried my best to listen to them as we ran from shelter to shelter and were chased by zombies, trying not to get INFECTED! It was really nerve wracking to be chased and scared by all of the zombies, while having to react really quickly by shooting at them! When you’re dealing with zombies, it doesn’t matter HOW big the husband that you brought along to protect you! In the end, my adrenaline was flowing and I was ready to do it again! They’ll take your pictures before you turn in your equipment and the pictures are available for purchase.

10671490_10152745588478584_4186076635222889008_nI kind of love how our pic came out! 

I would definitely recommend buying tickets and making your own reservation for Special Ops: Infected. It’s not part of the regular Knott’s Scary Farm ticket but isn’t something you want to miss. You can get more info about it here.

You could even meet Elvira I absolutely fangirl over Elvira! (photo credit: Knott’s)

We got so caught up in all of the mazes that we actually didn’t get into see Elvira’s live show, “Elvira’s Big Top” that night. I grew up watching Elvira on TV so I was sad that I didn’t get to see her show but I did get to see her on stage back in August at the unveiling event. The woman hasn’t aged a bit. I’ve heard so many people make comments about Elvira “looking good for her age” but seriously, this has nothing to do with her age..she’s just a hottie!

Elvira, Mistress of the DarkElvira rocks 2 shows a night, on every night of Knott’s Scary Farm! Wow! (photo credit: Knott’s)

Since we didn’t make it into her show on time, we did visit her Boo-tique which is located next to the Charles M. Schultz Theater.

elvira 1There was SO much Elvira memorabilia in there, as well as a ton of items to purchase. Fans also have an opportunity to meet Elvira each night of Knott’s Scary Farm, just by spending at least $50 in her Boo-tique! Find out more about her Meet n’ Shriek here.

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bootique 2After taking a break from all of the craziness, we grabbed a couple of ice cream Cookie-wiches to munch on while we waited to watch The Hanging in Town Square. I think this picture pretty much describes how yummy they were!

photo-348I don’t even know where to begin with all of the compliments I could pay the writers, actors, dancers & stuntmen in The Hanging! It was SO clever, witty AND hilarious! I was also excited because they ended up hanging the person I voted for them to hang, in an online Knott’s survey last summer.

photo-350I won’t spoil it for you, you’ll just HAVE to go watch The Hanging for yourself! I LOVED watching The Hanging though and my only regret is not getting there earlier to be even closer to the stage, but that’s just my fault for making us late with my need for a snack! It’s basically standing room only for the show but we were a little ways back. Next time, I’m getting front row!

IMG_5427In order to get out of the park, we still had to trek through the foggy ghost town and kept getting spooked by all of those who awaited in the shadows for us! We honestly had the best time at Knott’s Scary Farm and I was so happy that we rallied to stay up almost to the end of it.

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Knott’s Scary Farm requires a separate ticket for entrance than a general park ticket. You have the option of purchasing a single night ticket or they also offer a Scary Farm Pass this year, which is something new, and gives you unlimited access to any night of Scary Farm, with no blackout dates. For Knott’s Scary Farm lovers, this pass is a GREAT deal!

Do YOU like scary things like this? Have YOU ever been to Knott’s Scary Farm? If you haven’t, you need to grab some tickets and get there on one of the nights left THIS year! Do you dare? I did!

 

 

Belo Blow Dry Bar in Laguna Beach! Do Something For Yourself!

I don’t know about you, but for me, there are just times when I NEED someone else to do my hair for a special occasion or an event I’m attending. There’s just something a stylist does that I’m just not capable of doing with my hair. A few of my closest friends had recently visited a blow out bar together as a group to have their hair done before a wedding they were all in and it sounded like so much fun. A blow dry bar differs from a visit to your regular stylist in a way that allows you to achieve that “finished” look without the long term commitment you have with your own personal hair stylist. Let’s face it, we all know that cheating on your hairdresser is a BIG offense and this actually doesn’t count, so you don’t have to worry!

IMG_4878I was recently invited to Belo Blow Dry Bar in Laguna Beach to try out their services! It’s Laguna Beach’s first, and only, blow dry bar and is located in the heart of downtown at 302 Forest Avenue (upstairs at the corner of Forest Avenue and Beach Street)

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Belo Blow Dry Bar is a dream come true for hair stylist and Laguna Beach resident Patricia Musselman, who is the owner of this fabulous new establishment. Orginally from Brazil, Musselman has a passion for two things: hair and traveling. Belo Blow Dry Bar combines the two in a glamorous black, white and gold setting. Musselman describes her most recent venture as:

I’m a huge fan of blow dry bars myself and saw a need in Laguna for girls to get their hair styled locally. When the opportunity arose to take over a friend’s salon, I jumped at the chance and am having a blast with it,” said Patricia Musselman, owner of Belo Blow Dry Bar. “My goal with Belo is to create a warm and friendly environment where women can come have fun by themselves or with their friends, experiment with new styles, and get beautiful hair for work, beach parties or special events.

IMG_4869You can spot Belo Blow Dry Bar from its logo’d front door and the adorable sidewalk chalkboard that sits out in front of the door. Just inside the front door is a staircase that takes you to the second floor. The decor inside is so beautiful and the staff is very welcoming.

waiting area

shampoo roomsalon chairEmi loved being able to order off of the “hairstyle menu”. It features 8 of the most popular current hairstyles, with a sketch and description of each one. If you don’t find one of those that you’d like, Belo also has iPads available for their clients to use, to search for hairstyles on Pinterest! The Belo stylists will work with you to create whatever hairstyle you envision.

blow dry menu

ipadEmi and I each had our own stylists that day. It was fun for me to sit back, relax and chat with my stylist, Angelik, about girl things.  Emi loved the attention she was getting from her stylist, Tiara. She also loved her name! (I wonder why?)

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photo-346I was seriously in love with the back of my hair when she showed it to me in the mirror!

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photo-347We had such a fun morning at Belo Blow Dry Bar and were so happy with how both of our hairstyles turned out. I highly recommend calling to book an appointment of your own. Whether you have someplace special to be or just want to do something nice for yourself, you deserve to be pampered every now and then.

Call 949.4949714 to make an appointment today. You can also connect with them on FacebookInstagram, and Pinterest.

I Got My Brunch On at Michael’s Pizzeria in the Long Beach Downtown Promenade!

One of my most favorite things about living in Southern California is the fact that there is SO much to see and do here! We recently decided to take a short drive down to Long Beach. The Downtown Promenade area of Long Beach is so cool.

IMG_4956Along the promenade, you can find this adorable little Italian restaurant called Michael’s Pizzeria. It has a charming outside patio area (as well as inside seating) and even an area to park your bike!

michaels patio

I had seen pictures of Michael’s delicious pizzas before on their Instagram page, but we specifically made the trip on this particular day to try out some of their brunch menu.

brunchThe brunch menu is served on Saturdays and Sundays and features several wood-fired cast iron frittatas, as well as sweet items such as cinnamon rolls, french brioche french toast, and pancakes. Other items available during brunch hours include wood-fired organic eggs, fennel sausage, smoked bacon, and garlic-roasted new potatoes. I also need to mention that they have NUTELLA to put on your toast and your french toast! Wow!

photo-333So let’s talk about what I got to sample that day. It’s a lot, so I hope you’re ready for the pictures and the descriptions. (I just hope you’re not reading this while you’re hungry!)

photo-334I’d already seen a picture of Michael’s homemade cinnamon rolls on Instagram, so I knew I was destined to have some of my own. We started out with an order of the cinnamon rolls.

photo-335They’re cast-iron baked and topped with a rosemary syrup. They were amazing and I had to fight over the last one with Emi. (we halved it)

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Next, a Salsiccia E Funghi frittata arrived at the table. It’s made with 2 organic eggs, fennel sausage, and mushrooms and wood-fired in the oven.

IMG_4977I love the presentation of the cast iron skillet. All of the frittatas are served with a side of brioche toast and house-made jam, which was strawberry. Yum!

photo-337We were just getting the party started when a Carbonara Pizze Bianca showed up at the table. This pizza is like a foodie’s dream. It’s made with provolone, mozzarella, and pancetta….and then topped with 2 eggs!

IMG_4970IMG_4972Breaking the egg yolk on top of the pizza just brought out even more flavor! This pizza is actually part of the regular menu and not specific to the brunch menu so you can order it anytime!

prosciutto and meloneWe slowed down a little bit with some light, refreshing Prosciutto and Melone. The cantaloupe and honeydew served with Parma ham was so pretty to look on the plate.  It was especially delicious and tasted so fresh when it was combined with the arugula and balsamic. You can tell something is great if a kid will eat it and Emi was doing just that.

IMG_4983We then ventured back to meet a couple more pizzas. The first one was a Margherita Pizza. Tomato, mozzarella, basil, and extra virgin olive oil.

IMG_4988The second one was something featured on the special chalkboard menu that sits above the wood-fire oven. It was called the Porchetta Pizza and was made with pesto, porchetta (slow-roasted pork belly), smoked mozzarella, peppadews, and garlic spinach. It was loaded up with so much flavor!

photo-338Even though we were getting pretty full from all of the delicious food, we knew we still HAD TO have dessert! From the start, Emi had been eyeing the gelato she’d seen on the menu. There are about 8 different flavors of gelato to choose from each day at Michael’s. We finally decided to try the Salted Caramel and the Mint Chocolate gelatos. They were so light and flavorful and were just enough to top off our great brunch!

gelatoI especially enjoyed getting to chat with the manager, that day. He is so passionate about what they’re doing over there and talked extensively about the way the foods are all prepared fresh daily and how they only use the freshest ingredients. They really pride themselves on bringing the best foods to the table for their customers. He explained each and every detail about the items we were sampling that day.

photo-339I learned something about pizza slicing too. The pizzas arrive at your table unsliced. Michael’s Pizzeria follows what the natives in Naples do, by serving pizzas unsliced because they believe that slicing a pie immediately after it comes out of the oven, causes moisture to form beneath it.  They want to make sure your pizza does not end up soggy and suggest cutting it with a knife and fork as you enjoy it, but will slice it for you upon request. I love this!

photo-340Michael’s Pizzeria is definitely somewhere I’d recommend to others. They have 2 locations in Long Beach, on 2nd street and on the Downtown Promenade, as well as a location in Rancho Mirage. (I know where we’re going the next time we visit Palm Desert). The restaurant is family friendly and has something for everyone on it. Kids will love hearing the kitchen staff shout “Pizza!” every time they take another pizza out of the wood-fire oven. (Ok I’ll admit I loved that part too and may have joined in too) I cannot wait to go back and try more items from their  menu. I know you’ll love it too!

 

 

I Created a Beach-Themed Reading Corner in My Classroom This Year With the Help Of Oriental Trading Company

Although this school year has just begun, it’s already been a great one so far in Room 7! I have 30 bright-eyed, adorable, and very curious first graders in my class! Did I mention how adorable they are? This year, I decided to set up a thematic “Beach” reading corner in my room to get my students extra excited about reading.  Thanks to Oriental Trading Company, it was easy to create one.

setupA photo of my classroom setup in process with my “Beach” Reading Corner in process. I’m obsessed with all of the plush sea animals on the canopy. My favorite is the octopus! It was so much fun to set up my classroom this year. 

Here are the items I ordered from Oriental Trading Company’s online site to create my reading corner:

DIY SunThe DIY Sun was really easy to assemble. How cute is the face? 

I could’ve easily ordered a bunch of other things too but I held back. (maybe next time) Everything was so easy to put together and hang up.  I don’t think my classroom has ever looked this cute before!

surfboard backdrop

What NOT To Do With Your Reading Corner at the Beginning of the School Year

Let’s first talk about what NOT to do with your reading corner at the beginning of the school year. I guess I got so excited about my thematic reading corner and had it all set up and ready to go the first day of school! What I didn’t really think about was the fact that my students might not be ready for IT that soon.  On the first day of school, the worst possible thing happened….someone popped one of the green reading chairs! (Ok maybe that wasn’t the WORST thing that could’ve happened, but it was bad) Yep, it was a little girl in my class and she jumped onto it when my back was turned. I heard the noise of the pop, which was followed by a whole bunch of gasps from other students. It was at that moment that I suddenly remembered how important it was to set up my classroom expectations and review the procedures for the reading corner BEFORE allowing them to use it! I should’ve known better, especially since it’s not my first year teaching. I guess I just got forgot since I was so excited.

reading corner

Establishing Rules and Procedures in the Classroom For the Reading Corner

Before you can utilize your reading corner, it’s very necessary to introduce and review the rules and procedures for how you want the children to behave and use the area. It’s very important to establish your expectations for them and to even do several sessions of practicing WHAT to do. I, often times, find that my own students need a lot more guidance because they come from homes where there is very little structure and many just haven’t learned basic ways to treat things, especially things that belong to others that they may be using. I also find that my students do really well, once I have explained and modeled my expectations and let them practice.

fish collageIt’s also important to build a classroom community and give the students ownership so they feel like it belongs to them. The beginning of first grade is a big change for the students who are coming from kindergarten. I think it’s important to help them feel like our classroom is theirs and the items in our classroom are also theirs to use. The reading corner is a place they can choose to visit when they have finished their work, to read quietly. If they feel it’s theirs, they’ll treat it with respect and use it the right way.

Motivating and Keeping Students Accountable Using the Plush Clown Fish

I am SO happy that I decided to order a dozen of the Plush Clown Fish for my classroom this year.  I’m using the fish to motivate my students in the classroom and also as a way to hold them accountable for staying on task.

plush clown fish

sit in a reading chair

Each morning, I have 12 glitter clothespins clipped to 12 of the fish on the wall. When the students arrive at school, they look to see who has a clip and those are the students who will have the privilege of “reading with a fish” that day and having them on their desk. ONE of the 12 students is also the student who gets to sit in the reading chair that day.Students may read with a fish on the carpet, they may also read with a fish at their desk.

fish netWherever they choose to read, they are held accountable in the sense that if I see them off task or playing around, I take the fish away and move to glitter clip to another student’s name for the day. (When that happens, they get really sad). It’s adorable to see them reading with the fish. Never underestimate the power of a stuffed animal with a first grader!

reading with fishshe's readingThe students actually say that their fish help them read better! 

reading chairThe reading chair is the most sought-after seat in room 7! 

I am so excited to see how much growth my students make this year and how well they progress in their academics. It already seems like my Beach Reading Corner is keeping them motivated and I have Oriental Trading Company to thank for helping me out with that!

Disclosure: I received products from Oriental Trading Company in order to write my review. No other compensation was received. All opinions are 100% my own. 

Irvine Park Railroad’s Annual Pumpkin Patch Now Open Through Halloween!

With the start of a new school year and seasonal treats like Pumpkin Spice Lattes making appearances everywhere, I’d say there are signs of Fall all around. It’s a time of year that I absolutely love!

my little pumpkinOne of the things many families love about Fall is the opening of Irvine Park Railroad’s Pumpkin Patch! Nestled inside of Irvine Regional Park, the Irvine Park Railroad is one several family fun activities offered at the park. Others include hiking, biking (bike rentals available), paddle boats, pony rides, and The Orange County Zoo. We like to bring along a picnic and make an entire day of it.

Pumpkin Patch Sign Board(photo credit: Irvine Park Railroad)

This year, Irvine Park Railroad’s Annual Pumpkin Patch ` opened on Saturday, September 20th and will run daily through Friday, October 31st! Although we’ve had the opportunity to visit their Easter Eggstravaganza and their Christmas train recently, this will be our first time visiting their Pumpkin Patch in many years, so we’re very excited about it!

Train in Pumpkin Patch(photo credit: Irvine Park Railroad)

Some of the activities you can find at the Pumpkin Patch include:

  • the Irvine Park Railroad train ride through the park
  • John Deer tractor racers
  • A kid-friendly haunted house
  • face painting
  • Halloween bounce house jumper
  • carnival games (where everyone wins a prize)
  • pan for gold
  • cookie decorating
  • a giant hay maze
  • Halloween picture stands for photo opportunities

Moon BounceEmi could jump in this for HOURS! (photo credit: Irvine Park Railroad) 

Panning for Gold (1)I haven’t panned for gold since I was in 4th grade! I’m doing it! (photo credit: Irvine Park Railroad) 

face paintingI love these little Halloween faces! (photo credit: Irvine Park Railroad)

Watch this video for Irvine Park Railroad’s website, that shows how much fun the Pumpkin Patch is!

The hours for Irvine Park Railroad’s Pumpkin Patch are:

  • Monday through Friday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

There is no charge to enter the Pumpkin Patch, but tickets are required to ride the train and participate in Pumpkin Patch activities. Activity tickets can be purchased at the box office for $5.00 each or you can buy a book of 15 tickets for $60.00 ($15.00 savings). Also, please note that a gate entrance fee will be charged by the County of Orange for each vehicle that enters Irvine Regional Park.

Hay Ride TractorHe’ll be happy to give you a lift! (photo credit: Irvine Park Railroad) 

For updates about all of the fun activities at the Irvine Park Railroad (sometimes even coupons),

follow them on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram!

The Girl With the Disneyland Map Skirt at Disney’s 24-Hour Event!

As Mickey’s Trick or Treat party at Disneyland gets closer, I’ve been looking through pictures and trying to get costume ideas. As I was going through some of the pictures I’ve taken at Disneyland Resort, I came across some that I took of this adorable girl who was wearing the cutest outfit at Disney’s 24-hour event in May. I didn’t realize just HOW cute, until we got up close to her and realized that her skirt was made from park maps!

skirt

I just HAD TO approach her to ask where she got the skirt! That’s when she showed me her matching bow and told me she’d made them both! Oh my goodness! I loved her creativity and Emi looked instantly inspired by her! She was such a sweet person to talk to also, which is always nice.

bow

I, of course, didn’t grab her contact info that day and I think she said she isn’t on Twitter or Instagram (good for her). I suppose one day I’ll run into her again and I”ll be able to ask if she could make a skirt and bow for Emi, because Emi has been dying to have her very own ever since that day and can’t seem to duplicate it. (believe me, she’s tried!) I know the power of social media is strong because it’s helped me find people before.  Plus, I think she lives locally.

Did you attend Disney’s 24-hour event in May? Did you see “The Girl in the Disneyland Map Skirt”?