My baby boy is turning 18 months old...Like this teeny tiny little baby boy...

*tear*   *tear*   *tear*  I just cannot come to grips with the fact that my 7 pound 10 ounce newborn has grown 18 months worth in the blink of an eye.  He can do so much more these days...

He can identify 3 letters {A, B, and C}
He knows 9 letter sounds {a, b, c, f, h, m, p, s, and t}.
He can identify the numbers 0 and 1 and inconsistently identify some others.
He can identify at least 8 shapes consistently.
He can sort by color.
He can identify most of the colors of the rainbow.
He can sort our silverware, help empty the dishwasher, put his clothes in his hamper, and move laundry to the dryer {yay for Mommy!}
He can brush his teeth with help.
He can say hi, bye-bye, mama, and daddy clearly and will attempt to say almost anything else.
He can greet people by saying, "Hi" or shaking hands or giving a high five.
He can give neck squeezies {Melts.My.Heart.}

And he is more independent...
He is still signing a LOT, but is trying to use his words with his signs. He doesn't need me to model the signs anymore.
He can follow 2-step directions now.  He doesn't need me to do it for him.
He still takes two long naps during the day and sleeps 11-12 hours at night. And he doesn't need me to rock him to sleep.
He can use a fork mostly on his own. He doesn't need me to feed him.
He can {and strangely enjoys} cleaning up after himself and others.  He especially loves throwing away trash.  He doesn't need me to clean up all of his mess.
He can go down the big, curvy slide on his own.  He doesn't need me to slide with him on this one.

I think this milestone has been harder on me than when he turned a year. 18 months means he's smack dab in the middle of toddlerhood.  It means I probably need to stop saying his age in months.  It means he is more independent now.  And that means he needs me less... or does he?

These thoughts have been swirling around inside of my head for a few weeks now.

As a teacher, I'm constantly thinking about what Cooper needs.  He needs to learn to use his words instead of whining.  He needs to learn to share with others.  He needs to learn to pick up after himself.  He needs to be challenged.  He needs to learn to love others.  He needs to run outside and play.  He needs to learn to give up that paci!

And as a mother, I enjoy being needed.  I need my son to need me.  And in so many ways he doesn't anymore.  Like so many other moms, I'm constantly trying to figure out how to be the best mommy I can be to Cooper.  How to give him what he needs without taking away his independence or making him feel like what he is doing independently isn't good enough.

A month or so ago, my mom was telling me about an email that my dad {who is a superintendent for Conway Schools in Arkansas} sent to his teachers on Valentine's Day.  It was about the Beatles' hit All You Need Is Love.  We had a short and sweet conversation about his note and then I forgot all about it.  Until I was thinking about Cooper and how his needs are changing daily.  Then, I was reminded of the simple lyrics from the Beatles... Sing it with me!  "...all you need is love. All you need is love.  All you need is love, love, love is all you need..."

No matter what stage of life Cooper is in: newborn, 18 months, or 18 years: LOVE is all he needs.  It's all any of us really need.

In fact, those simple lyrics may legally belong to the Beatles, but they convey a truth that is written all over the Bible.

"If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing..."  {1 Corinthians 13:1-3}

And in my Bible it continues, "If I teach my son of all his abc's and 123's, but don't teach him love?..."  {okay, maybe not.  But it should!}  All of these earthly things are great, but it's nothing without is all we need.  It's all other people need from us.  So what does the love chapter say love is?

As a newborn, Cooper needed me.  As an 18 month old, Cooper needs me.  And as an 18 year old, Cooper will still need me.  He has needed me in different ways and that will continue to change.  But one thing he will always need from me is my love.  I pray daily that I can give him a love that is grounded in biblical truths.  I pray daily that I can teach him how to love others in a way that is God-approved {Remember....he is learning from me...}  I pray daily that he will see God's love for him through my love that I give him each day.  After all, God gave us the best example for sacrificial love...

So, I could stress over what foods to feed my baby boy.  I could stress over what clothes he should or should not wear.  I could stress over the amount of sleep he gets each day.  I could stress over whether he is going to catch the latest sickness going around.  I could stress over the amount of time I'm able to spend with him each day...and trust me! I've thought plenty about some of these seemingly small things!  But, when I take a step back and see things from my Savior's perspective I realize:  All he needs is love.  My love. Love from his family.  Love from his friends.  Love from his Heavenly Father.  All of the rest is just a "clanging cymbal."

So, happy 18 months, my sweet baby Cooper!  I hope that when you look back over all the memories we've made together that you can truly say that the greatest gift Mommy gave you was her unconditional love.

"13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love." {1 Corinthians 13:13}

It's the end of our American Contributors Unit {tear}.  But the end of this unit also means the start of Spring Break for me this week {happy face!}  No alarm setting, playing the stay-at-home-mom again, quiet morning trips to Wal-Mart, ahhhhh....

*cough* Back on track... After finishing up on our inventors for this unit {Edison & Bell}, we began talking about how inventors come up with inventions.  We read I Am Inventing an Invention.

This is a cute little book that tells about some kids trying to invent something for a school project.  It does a great job explaining what an invention is and the process of inventing.

Then, we charted how to make an invention.

And I LOVE this anchor chart, but to save me some time, I went digital with this one!  The digital version is now included in the unit!

The next day we read an adorable book I discovered at a workshop a few years ago...

It's about a bunny who gets asked about his box and he keeps saying, "It's not a box!" because he has turned the box into something else with his imagination.  The kids loved inferring what the bunny's invention is!

I also found this YouTube ebook of it.  That's what we used this year.  It's fast so we read it once all the way through and then listened again and paused in between pages.

Then we spent some time brainstorming ideas for inventions...checking to make sure they had not been invented before and that they had a useful purpose.  Not only does brainstorming out loud help encourage even more ideas that build off of each other, but it also helps me see who my creative inventors are so that I can spread those kiddos out as leaders for my groups.  Other than having to gently nudge them away from every kind of robot imaginable, my firsties always shock me in how easily they come up with things to invent.  And they come up with great ideas.  Every year!

We brainstormed on Wednesday.  On Thursday we started creating our not-a-boxes.  I was so proud of how well they worked.  We worked for an hour and 15 minutes on Thursday and continued working for another hour or so on Friday.  They were all engaged, cooperating and I even heard kids encouraging each other about their ideas.  It made my teacher heart so happy!

After kids thought about what invention they would like to create, they shared their idea with me and then I gave them paper to plan...

When their plan was complete, they picked out their box and got started.  I also had a table completely dedicated to "accessories" {construction paper, balloons, random left over craft supplies like circle die cuts, pom poms, craft sticks, foil and pipe cleaners}.  As you can imagine, some of them knew how to use the supplies in an effective way...and some groups were a tad more liberal with their accessorizing! *wink*

Here are a few of our favorite not-a-boxes!

Meet the "Flying Bed."  It takes you places while you stay in your pajamas and in your bed.  {Interestingly, I've had a similar invention two other times in other years!}  I loved that they turned the Amazon "smile" into the boxes mouth and added a mustache above!

As Mr. Grinch is modeling for you, you can ride comfortably and you even have access to your iPhone, the internet and your iPod {errrr....pipe cleaners for each of these} through a power line {errrr...yarn! I was so excited that made those connections to our electricity studies!}

Here's the "Dragon Plane."  It delivers food straight to your house so you don't have to get groceries.  There is a fire booster that will cook the food for you also!  LOVE!

Check out this part!  It says, "Food line.  Pull!"  You pull on the red pom and it sends an apple down!

Here is the mini-dragon plane in case your house is hard to get to!

And finally, it's the "Fun Boat."  Basically, this is a boat where you go to have fun and where robots will serve you so no people have to work on the boat!  This one cracks me up because the kids in this group really know how to have fun!  They are my partiers!! Fits them well--ha!

The boat's eyes are made from the boat windows, the mustache is a string of party lights and the mouth is a pipe cleaner!

Once they had built their not-a-box, they wrote about their invention and drew a detailed replica of their box.  They shared and presented their invention to the class and then we took pictures of each group with their boxes to publish by hanging in the hallway!

They were so proud!

I'll be enjoying my Spring Break next week and then diving deep into fairytales....which of course, for me, means the downhill race to summer will begin!

I thought I'd combine my next Kids Say post with my 5 for Friday for this week...

As I said in my first Kids Say post, I'm obsessed with kid cuteness and love sharing the funnies they say.  And since not everyone wants to hear about it, I'm blogging about it.  You've been warned!

1.  On our field trip last month, one of my girls asked, "Mrs. Shaddock, do you know why I'm wearing my Monitor Elementary shirt and not my Turnbow shirt?"  "No.  Why?"
What can I say? Girl's got some crazy hair.  Admitting you have a problem is the first step, right?

2.  Same girl.  Same field trip.  {This girl was on top of her game that day!} Our bus driver was had the radio playing on the way to see our show.  Prince's Raspberry Beret came on.
 Of all the songs in the world, I had no idea Raspberry Beret was it...

3.  So, I was following behind a second grade class on the way to an assembly one day when I overheard a precious conversation.  A little boy had a tooth that had come out and was bleeding.  He was holding a kleenex over it.  He kept checking it and said, "It just won't stop bleeding." The second grader behind him said, "I know just what to do...."
He proceeded to tell him the Bible story he had learned at church...Joshua and the Battle of Jericho. "They walked around the first time.  Nothing happened!  They walked around the second time. Nothing happened!" he continued to tell him about each of the six times, getting more excited with each time.  "But on the 7th time, they went around and the wall came down, Dude.  Really! It did! So all you have to do is keep praying and the 7th time it will work!"

Oh, the sweet faith of a child.  It just warms my heart!

4.  And finally, yesterday...This sweet girl walked in saying, "I really wish my dad were still a doctor." {Her dad never was a doctor!} "Why?"
She continued, "And this is going to be the 4th time I've had it!!"  5 minutes later, her BFF had rechecked her throat and it had turned all white.  After lunch it was all pink. "This is getting serious now, Mrs. Shaddock.  I think I really need to go see the nurse!"

5.  How's this for a random number five?  I just posted my new Common Core Fairytale Unit in my TPT store.

143 pages of weekly visual plans, daily detailed lesson plans, Common Core standards tied to every activity in literacy, social studies and math!  All the materials you need and photos too!

This is a class favorite...even for my boys.  They especially love our end of unit Fairytale Ball that our grade level puts on.  Follow me on Facebook or on Bloglovin' to catch all the details of how this unit plays out in our classroom this year!

We are...assessing, assessing, assessing this week!  But, I decided to add a little IRISH twist to today's assessment so we could still celebrate.  We do Counting Collections once a week to practice on counting to 120, skip counting and grouping objects by 10's.  I decided to reassess my kids and see how well they could do this on their own today. {Normally, they do counting collections with a partner!}  Each firstie got a pot o' gold {with around 120 pieces of cut, 1x1 yellow squares.}

As is our normal procedure during Counting Collections, my kids counted how many pieces of gold they had in their pot {just on their own!}.  They can count however they choose, whichever way they understand best, and whichever way is the most efficient way for them to count with *precision.*
Most of them grouped by 10's and counted.

A few grouped by 5's.

One boy grouped by 20's.

This little sweetie counted by 2's inside of his groups of 10!

Some counted by 1's.

You could hear a pin drop in my room.  Those babies were so intent on counting to see how "rich" they were!  Who knew assessment could be so fun!!

You can read more of the detailed scoop on Counting Collections in this blog post and can find the resource here.

I don't know about my other teacher friends, but I am ex-hau-sted.  Like, the totally exhausted kind.  Today, more than ever, I'm so thankful for the two snow days last week, because it means that last week was only 4 days long (with Saturday school!) instead of 6 days!  Then Sunday morning was Spring Forward, which is a dreaded holiday for heavy sleepers like myself!  So between Saturday School, Daylight Savings Time, and a full week this week, I'm plain ol' worn out!

I guess that's why I was kind of a slacker on blogging this week.  Oh, well.  I'll do better.  I've taken some pictures here and there this week, just haven't had the energy to blog it all out.

So, I've decided to do another...

Hop on over to check out the other posts too!

1.  We are starting to finish up our unit on American Contributors.  We've learned about George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Black History contributors, Ben Franklin and Thomas Edison so far.  This week's contributor was on Alexander Graham Bell.  We read about Alex and charted our learning. {It absolutely drives me crazy that I found a typo in Alex's name after we finished the chart...but as exhausted as I was this week, even this OCD gal didn't have the energy to redo it...}

And we added his most important contribution to our light bulb charts that hang above each table group in our classroom.

2.  Since we were learning about Mr. Bell, we tied in a little science and made telephone cups and tested out how well they worked.  The kids loved this oldie-but-goodie!

3.  We also talked about whether we would rather live before or after the telephone invention and they came up with some great ideas for both sides!  Here are two of my fav's...

{200 years to get to Mexico...I just love the brains of first graders!}

4. Taking a hard right on to math this week...we have been using the Standards for Math Practice to set goals for our kids during Math Mysteries {story problems}.  My kids have loved these.  Their favorite so far has been our "friendly arguments" chart--inspired by practice #3: Construct viable arguments and critique others.  They love making their "critical thinking face" when we look at their friends' work.  And it has changed how they talk about their friends' math.

In fact, we've even tied it in to literacy!  Last week, I paired up students with their writing journals.  They listened to each other read and then used our friendly arguments chart to give their partner feedback.  They were so engaged and took their critiquing was absolutely adorable.

We've had informal things set up this year for feedback {like star-star-wish}, but this has helped my kids speak in complete sentences and focus on the "meat" of the math {or writing!} and not just the fluffy stuff!  I'll definitely be doing this much earlier in the year next year! And now, I have some kid-friendly checklists and rubrics to help out!

5.  Last but not least... I bought this super cute western party banner from Hobby Lobby last summer.  It was less than 3 bucks, but I just couldn't ever find the perfect spot for it.  Last week, it finally came to me that it might look great in the extra space above my cabinets.  I just adore it up there!  It makes me smile every time I see it!

Sometimes, happiness is found in the smallest and cheapest of things! {or else, I'm just easy to please...}

Now, off to bed and catch up on my sleep...zzz...

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