Guest Blogger - Author Maria Dismondy

   Books that Strengthen Classroom Community 
by Maria Dismondy
I was a classroom teacher for 12 years. I can't tell you how many times I went to the library to find the perfect book to really bring a lesson to life or to simply reiterate an important point I was trying to teach my class and I came home empty handed. In 2007, I had the crazy idea to write a children's book. I wanted to write books that teachers and parents could really use to make a difference in their children's lives. Not only did I want to write one, but I wanted to speak to schools across Michigan and some how pay it forward. Here we are in 2012 and I am loving life as a children's author! And talking to kids about bullying? I spoke to almost 10,000 children in one month alone!

A little about my books and how they will help you in your classroom (or home).

Spaghetti In A Hot Dog Bun:Having the Courage to Be Who You Are is all about self-esteem and bullying. It's about focusing on the individual. We need to spend time building up individual students esteem so that they can be confidant and participating members of the classroom community. 

The Juice Box Bully: Empowering Students to Stand Up For Others
My second book, co-authored with Bob Sornson, was written with the intention to reach out to the bystanders. We wanted children to learn how to be a team and to stand up for each other.

My most recent book is about a subtle type of bullying that I saw in the classroom all. the. time. It's about three friends who play and one is always left out. It's about friends who threaten others and say things like, "You can't be my friend, if you don't..." 

Visit me over at my blog, Be The Difference. I write about parenting, teaching, child development and about living life to the fullest!
You can find out more about my books over at my website.
Maria Dismondy
Award-winning and Best-Selling Author

I'd love to thank Maria for sharing why she began writing her award winning books with us. I am always looking for literature which touches upon a range of topics.  I know that each of these books would be a perfect fit in many classrooms as we begin to set norms for the year.   


Guest Blogger - The Moffatt Girls

Hi Everyone!  I am so excited to be able to do a blog post for Mrs. Parker.  Like all of you, I {HEART} her blog:)  She has so many amazing ideas and it is a real privilege to be here!

As a former elementary school teacher and now a mommy of two little girls, I love seeing my girls learn.  Every day my girls ask me to do "school" and that just makes the teacher in me so happy!  Why do they LOVE school so much?  I think it because I try to make their learning experiences both hands-on and FUN.

There are two teaching tools that I use all the time with my girls.  They can be adapted to any age group and it really makes learning anything so much more exciting!

#1-Magnets and an Oil Pan
I am OBSESSED with magnets!  I put magnets on just about everything because the girls love it and it makes learning more interactive.

If you take a look at the pictures below, you will notice my oil pan, which was a pinterest find.  This oil pan cost around $10 and has been a great way to help my girls learn.  Get an oil pan and a bunch of magnets and you have a GREAT teaching tool!  If you don't want a big oil pan, we have also used a cookie sheet, which you can see in the large picture on the left.


#2 Play Dough
Play Dough is SO easy to make and it can be used for so many different educational activities.  We make play dough about once a month and here is a super easy recipe:
* 2 cups flower 
* 2 cups warm water 
* 2 Tbsp. cooking oil 
* 1 Tbsp. cream of tartar
* 1 cup salt
* food coloring
* spices

Mix the water and the food coloring together.  Add the other ingredients to a pan and mix in water.  Cook on medium to high heat and stir until play dough thickens and forms into a ball.  Kneed for a couple of minutes.  That's it!  You can store it in a plastic bag or container and it will last a very long time.

We use play dough to make sight words, word families, names, math manipulatives and so much more.  The possibilities are endless! Photobucket  

Teaching our children and/or students should be fun and exciting!  I think we all learn a bit more when we enjoy the journey!  

Thank you so much for reading this post!  Mrs. Parker....thank you for having me on your AWESOME blog!!
  The Moffatt Girls

Thanks, Annie for sharing such practical ideas and tips.  Both of these items are must haves in my classroom and home.  I make magic play dough on the first day of school and all year long.   I love magnets!  Here's a picture to show you just how many I may have.
Please visit Annie's blog if you have not done so.  She offers great lessons on how to teach early readers and chronicles her homeschooling journey.  Aren't they beautiful?!


Guest Blogger - The Corner on Character

Today I'm excited to be a guest at Learning With Mrs. Parker. When I first started blogging last summer, Sylvia noticed that I didn't have a blog button and offered to create one for me. It's an honor to post here today, because this blog is one of my favorites. Thank you, Mrs. Parker!

A Story Waiting To Be Told 
by Barbara Gruener

Think back to your days as a student; who was your favorite teacher? Why? My favorite was my first-and-second grade teacher. It’s not that she looped, necessarily, but since our school was so small (there were 10 of us in my grade), she taught both first and second in one room. And being from a teeny, tiny town, she was actually a relative, my grandfather’s sister Norma, which made her my great aunt.  I called her Aunt Norma at home, but in the classroom she was Miss Natzke

Miss Natzke was my favorite in part because I was SURE I was her favorite. I just knew I was. She knew exactly what I needed and she saw to it that those needs were met. When I’d mastered the material she was teaching, for example, she put me in the little library off of her room to help a friend who hadn’t quite yet caught on. When I wanted to sing alto before we were allowed to harmonize, she gave me a chance and found out that I could, in fact, carry a tune. When I wanted to play the organ in church as a third grader, she said, “why not?” and wrote me into the schedule. And when I realized that playing the organ was way too big a job for a third grader like me, she softly smiled and took me out of the schedule. I just KNEW I was her favorite. And guess what? So did everybody else.

What was Aunt Norma’s secret? She knew that every child is a story waiting to be told and she had a way of finding out what ours was. She connected with our hearts before she tried to help us comprehend our ABCs and 123s. She wrapped us in a warm blanket of kindness, compassion and encouragement that gave us strength, confidence, and a voice and left us feeling like we could conquer the world at seven and eight years old. And she found a way to make each of us her favorite.

Easier said than done? Yes and no. Are you familiar with the blueberry story? Entrepreneur Jamie Vollmer’s blueberry metaphor is a powerful one because, unlike how things were done in his creamery, we can’t send back the blueberries that don't quite meet the standard. In our business, we keep them all. The parents send us their very best after all, don’t they? It’s not like they keep the good ones at home! So it’s our job to bring out the flavor in our little blueberries, even the small, the tart, the thick-skinned. Find something that you like about each and every student; do what Aunt Norma did and make each one your favorite.

Since I’m hooked to literary connections, you can imagine my delight to find You Are All My Favorites by Sam McBratney some years back. In this treasure, the three bears start to see through their parents’ hyperbolic claims that they are the most wonderful bears and they start to fret that they can’t really ALL be the best. They worry that their mom and dad might like one better than the other. But the parents’ calm reassurance that they are all their favorites helps assuage their anxiety and soothe their stress. 

As we cruise into another school year, my wish is that you find a way to make each one of your blueberries or bears your very favorite as you help them find their voice and write their next chapter, for every child truly IS a story waiting to be told.

Thank you, Barbara for sharing your story with us.  Ms. Natzke reminds me of Mr. Slinger from Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse and I may never think of blueberries in the same way.  These are perfect reminders as we begin to think of the new school year and all that awaits us.

If you are not following, The Corner on Character, you should. Barbara offers a positive perspective on life and education.  

Guest Blogger - Little Miss Kindergarten

Hello Learning with Mrs. Parker Friends, I am Mrs. Coe from the Little Miss Kindergarten blog and I am so thrilled to be posting here for Mrs. Parker.
I have loved this blog since I started blogging and I was fortunate to have Mrs. Parker's class be pen pals with my class last year.

I am super excited to be able to be pen pals again. I always have loved reading the book picks that Mrs. Parker has suggested each month and I looked forward to those posts all last year. I knew if I wrote a guest post for Mrs. Parker I had to share books because we both have a love of books that seemed to connect us in ways. 

One of the hottest topics this summer has been classroom management. I have certainly enjoyed seeing and learning from all the great ideas about organizing and getting things ready for a new year. When I think of the term classroom management, my first thought actually is behavior management. I do think there is a lot to be said for planning ahead for behavior... Each year we are faced with different issues and problems but we also see some of the same behaviors year after year. One thing I struggled with last year was a friend with a bad case of the...blurts.

In passing I saw this book My Mouth is a Volcano and naturally I thought friend. The case of the blurts that my friend had was pretty disturbing in the beginning of the year. To be honest, sometimes it was difficult to teach because of this issue. My friend was never blurting out disrespectfully and it was never blurting off task. In fact, he was always eager to be learning, constantly engaged, passionate about every single thing in life and just wanted to be involved. All in all, he was a true blessing in my class.

One day I decided to talk to my friend one on one and ask him why he had such a bad case of the blurts. I really just wanted to know what he must be thinking as I redirect his behavior, gave the kindergarten teacher eye or when I paused for him to...stop. He really did not realize he was doing this as much as he was and he really did not know why this was a...big problem. He was so upset when I talked to him that all he could do was cry. Eventually we were able to talk about this behavior and ways that he could manage himself in a whole group setting and we were all pretty happy!

As I look ahead and think of next year, I wanted to keep this in mind. We all have behaviors that are predictable and repeat with each new year. I've learned to not wait and see if those behaviors appear in August but rather prepare for those common behaviors that usually show up. I wanted to prepare lessons ahead of time and present them to the class. The story time setting is a wonderful place for this to happen especially in a Kindergarten classroom. It is a necessary part of my job to teach and model the appropriate behaviors in different school settings because Kindergarten children may never have had to learn and live with expectations prior to entering into the classroom. I was thrilled to find so many books that cover so many behaviors that most of us see in our classrooms. What I love the most is that these books are empowering to young children and that they come from the standpoint of learning the appropriate behavior. Often times with behavior management systems, this part is missing and the inappropriate behavior might stop temporarily due to the consequence but the appropriate behavior is not taught.

So this year I am stepping into the classroom, prepared for it all...
Take a look at what I have found.

Great for the first day...

Learning to listen and follow directions.

Learning about bullying. 
 Bully B.E.A.N.S.

Title says it all here...
A Bad Case of Tattle Tongue

How to be a friend and community building.
BARNES & NOBLE | I Just Don't

Learning to disagree appropriately.
 I Just Don't Like the Sound of

Learning ways to manage yourself because it's hard to sit still.
The Way I Act

Learning about behaviors and choices.
It's Hard to Be a Verb

Love the title on this one!
Don't Squeal Unless It's a Big Deal: A Tale of Tattletales

Learning about personal space.
Personal Space Camp

Learning about conflict resolution.
  MEAN JEAN was Recess Queen

Learning about respect.
A book to teach respect!!

To teach empathy.
  used to teach empathy

You get what you get!
  You Get What You Get

Tattle tales.
 Tattlin' Madeline

Nonstop talking.
 Books That Heal Kids: Book Review: Lacey Walker, Nonstop Talker

I also thought I would try a Star Gazing Jar for those children that need a brain break to stop those inappropriate behaviors. If you would like to learn how to make a Star Gazing Jar just hop on over! As you can see there are so many books that can be used for the common behaviors we all see in the classroom. Do you have a favorite and what will be on the top of your list?

Thank you, Little Miss Kindergarten for sharing your book selections.  She is an amazing teacher, blogger and crafter.  I urge you to check out her blogs if you have not done so already.  To check out my book picks from last year for the fall go, here.


Did you know Carson-Dellosa is on Pinterest?
Check out their Pinspirations here.  Their pins are great and many come from fellow teacher bloggers.   They even pinned one of my ideas! :)

You'll also find plenty to choose from on their website,

The updated website is user friendly and offers
·   $5.95 flat rate shipping on all online orders!
·   A powerful new search function that makes it easy to browse more than 4,200 items by keyword, grade, age, subject, learning need, product type and brand
·   Faster checkout
·   Wish Lists to create and organize the stuff you want the most!
·   Social sharing so you can quickly share product information on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Google+ 

I can't wait to pin, browse, and shop all at my fingertips!  

Happy Summer!

Now Featuring...

Starting on Saturday, you'll be treated to some wonderful guest bloggers sharing tips, ideas, and more to get you ready for back to school while I'm on a blogging vacation.  
In the meantime, here are a few ideas to help you with planning those first few weeks of school.  

I love documenting student growth over the course of the year. This journal is perfect and easy to use.  I updated my Number Cards with easier to read numbers and fonts. Although, created in black and white, add color by printing onto scrapbook paper. Both of these items are available through Teachers Notebook.

Lastly, Circle of Moms has nominated my blog, along with many other fantastic blogs, as a Top Teacher Blog. You can vote daily for your favorite, now through August 9th.

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