Because We Love Children

Happy New School Year! (Part One)

Happy New Year! School year, that is. Are you excited? Maybe you’re a bit sad to see Summer wave, “So long.” I am . But here in Texas, we’re pretty ready to boot summer out by the end of August. At least, we want to show the heat out and show the Autumn  cool in.

If you teach in the classroom, at home, or both (That’s me!) it’s time. We teachers lead the way.

Here is one of my all-time favorite quotes for educators:

“I have come to a frightening conclusion. I am the decisive element in the classroom. It is my personal approach that creates the climate.  It is my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous.  I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or deescalated, a child humanized or dehumanized.”

quote by Haim Ginott  Teacher and Child (1976)  Avon Books

We have to come in with a positive attitude. And we owe it to our students to be prepared. One of my favorite books on getting the school year off to a bright start is: The First Days of School (How to be an Effective Teacher) by Harry K. and Rosemary T. Wong.

This book shows teachers how to bring their best professional educator selves to the classroom. You will find a treasury of tips on running a successful classroom. These tips include: preparing yourself and your environment, lesson planning, and teaching procedures. If you are clear in explaining exactly what you want the children to do, and you are consistent, you will be your most effective self in the classroom.

Happy Teaching, where ever that may be for you!

🙂 Karona Drummond

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We Can All Be Bucket Fillers


“All day long, everyone in the whole wide world walks around carrying an invisible bucket.” That is how this wonderful book, Have You Filled a Bucket Today?, begins This bucket, according to author Carol McCloud, contains good thoughts and feelings about ourselves.

How do we keep our buckets full? By filling other people’s buckets. How do we fill other people’s buckets? By our kind words and deeds. What if someone tries to dip into our bucket by being unkind to us? We close the lids of our buckets to the unkind individual.

I stumbled upon this beautiful concept picture book while shopping for school supplies at Mardel. I bought the book right then and there. I shared Have You Filled a Bucket Today? with my family, fellow teachers, and the director of the school where I teach. We are going to spend this school year learning how to be “bucket fillers”.

There are other related books, and free activities at the bucket fillers website: www.bucketfillers101.com  .

Also, take a look at Pinterest. Check out the way other moms and teachers have implemented bucket filling into their homes and classrooms.

Now go forth and be bucket fillers! 🙂

Karona Drummond


Andrew Clements Does it Again

Andrew Clements is one of my favorite authors for elementary-aged children.  He writes in a way that engages the reader and makes him/her think. Clements’ book, About Average, is no exception. My kids and I listened to the audio book version in our car.

In About Average, Jordan Johnston feels like she is just ordinary. She makes a list of the things she is great at, okay at, and not good at. Her “okay at” list is so much shorter that her “great at” list! Do you ever feel like that?  For more information on Andrew Clements and his books, visit  http://www.andrewclements.com/

My kids and I talked about our talents and what truly makes us valuable as human beings. We also discussed Andrew Clements” careful use of foreshadowing and including details that would make the climax in the story understandable.

For you adults who would like to read more on the subject of being average (or not), and how talent and IQ play into the mix, I recommend The Genius in All of Us by David Shenk. When I picked up the audio book version at the library, I thought it would be another “Rah, rah, sis, boom bah! You can do it! Yeah, yeah, yeah!” kind of a book. And that would have been okay. I can use a little pep talk now and again. But it was so much more.  The Genius in All of Us is packed with scientific information that will make you ponder just how much of what we accomplish in this short Earth life has to do with talent, IQ, and genes and just how much hard work and passion for our pursuit might come into play. Great food for thought. For more information on David Shenks , go to http://geniusblog.davidshenk.com/

Happy reading!


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Ahoy, Matey! Yee-Haw! Let’s Play Ball!

Greetings! I do hope all my fellow Americans had a wonderful Independence Day. God Bless America!

As summer heats up, so does that great American pastime, baseball. When you and the kids aren’t watching or playing baseball, how about opening up a delightfully imaginative book about the sport? Take a look at Pirates at the Plate. The story and illustrations are by Mark Summers. The actual words are written by Aaron Frisch.

This book caught my eye right away with it’s detailed scratchboard illustrations. The picture on the cover reminds me a bit of Norman Rockwell’s famous illustration: “Gossip”.

The Pirates “arrr” facing the cowboys in this rollicking story. But that’s not just their team  names. No sir. They are  pirates and cowboys! Some of them be fictional, like Hopalong Cassidy, Long John Silver, and Captain Hook. Some of them be real, such as Wild Bill Hickok. And don’t forget Calico Jack, the pirate who designed the Jolly Roger.

Pirates at the Plate is a fun read-aloud. My third graders kept trying to figure out just what was going on. The ending encourages our youngsters to get involved in good old-fashioned play where imagination is at bat.

Maybe you and your kids will be inspired to make some of your own scratch illustrations. You might learn more about the characters in the book. Perhaps you’ll head outside for your own game or two. Let your imagination soar!

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Blueberry Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Okay, I know it’s summer in the Northern Hemisphere. I have a friend on vacation in Australia right now. It’s winter there. Doesn’t that sound lovely? Aaaaaah…. But I digress.

Anyway, I don’t get in the kitchen a lot in the summer. But when we had blueberries, bananas, and chocolate chips in the house at the same time, I couldn’t resist. I braved the kitchen. I turned down the a.c. a bit and went for the prize.
The outcome would be worth it. I was going to modify a banana bread recipe, make it healthy, and create world peace!
Well, at least I hoped to get my kids eating a treat that also happened to be healthy. That might be the first step to creating world peace, right? Right!

So I challenge you: Bring in some bananas, blueberries, and semi-sweet chocolate chips into the house. Then create something amazing and eat it. As you wipe the blueberry juice and melted chocolate off your children’s faces
(and yours), keep smiling because you just had a sweet treat that’s too healthy to feel guilty about. Enjoy!

Karona’s Healthy Blueberry Banana Muffins


3 medium ripe bananas, sliced and mashed
1/2 cup softened Smart Balance buttery Spread or 1/2 cup canola oil
1 large egg
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup Stevia in the Raw granulated sweetener for baking (zero calories and all natural!)
3/4 cup dark brown sugar (You can use all dark brown sugar if you don’t have the Stevia)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups whole grain flour ( I used Bob’s Red Mill Oat Flour)
1 cup (preferably fresh) blueberries
1 12 oz. bag semi-sweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large mixing bowl, stir together ingredients in the order listed above. Spoon
mixture into muffin cups, filling 3/4 full. Put in top or middle rack of oven. Check at 15 minutes. Muffins should be
come out clean when a toothpick is inserted. It will probably need about 20 minutes. Let muffins cool. Enjoy with a cold glass of milk or some frozen vanilla yogurt.

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Disney World Tips for Families


(This is me in the classic “Singing in the Rain” pose at Disney’s Hollywood Studios)

So, you’ve finally done it. You’ve saved the money for that big trip to Disney World. Congratulations! Planning can be
part of the fun. My husband, the two kids, and I just got back. We had a blast! Here are a few tips that we gathered in out process. We took a road trip. So some of my trips will pertain to traveling by car.

1. Order a planning kit from Disney several months in advance.
Hop over to http://www.disneyworld.com get the process rolling. They will send you a free video with lots of info. about the Disney World parks and accommodations. If you are planning a road trip, you would benefit from going to Florida is full of beautiful tourist destinations. Maybe you can squeeze in a couple while you’re in the neighborhood.

2. If you are doing a road trip, consider the benefits of renting a car. My husband and I both drive older cars. We keep them maintained and drive them into the ground. We didn’t want to tack on an extra 2,360 miles onto one of our cars in one fell swoop. And what if our old car broke down? There’s a vacation buster, for sure!

So renting a car made good sense for us. We used Avis http://www.avis.com because we had good success with them on a previous vacation and they are conveniently located nearby our home. We had the car for about 12 days at a cost of around $380. We had peace of mind that we were driving a new car. And if we had any trouble, Avis would come get us and put us into a working rental car right away.

3. Staying in the Disney World Resort is worth the money. Even though we were driving and could have stayed off property, we chose to stay within the resort. We chose from the least expensive resort hotels, the “Value
Resort Hotels”. The Value Hotels are further away from the parks, and the rooms are smaller and not as fancy as the more expensive hotels. Still, the hotel (We stayed at All Star Music) was decorated up really cute. The room was clean and comfortable. We had our choice of two very nice pools with activities and movies for the kids while they were swimming.

When you stay at the Disney Resort Hotel, you don’t have to worry about parking hassles. You just hop on the Disney Transportation System (for the Value Hotels it is a bus) and let them drive you to and from. Aaah…
Yes, we could have saved a few bucks by staying off property. But the convenience we received, the time saved, and the immersion of staying in the resort was worth it.

4. Planning your eating. Disney has thought a lot about what makes their customers happy. I was VERY
happy to know that we could bring food into the park. If you fly in, you will probably need to purchase some sort a a meal plan and then take snacks to munch on here and there throughout the day(s). Each resort hotel has a little store with a few basic food supplies. They also each have a quick service food area. The meal plans can be quite expensive.
So weigh your options carefully.

If you are doing a road trip, here is what we did to save money and time: When we arrived the first night, we went to the nearby Target and stocked up on food for the week. We bought fruit, cereal, beef jerky, nutrition bars, etc.
My husband brought a small microwave with us. (The Value Resort Hotels have mini refrigerators, but no microwaves.)
We bought a bunch of Hormel Compleat meals.

We got up each morning, ate a big breakfast, and packed our backpack and fanny packs. We carried in bottled water, beef jerky, fruit, and other nonperishable food items. We “backpacked” through the parks. When we were waiting in line for a ride or show, we ate a bit here, a bit there. Finally, when we got back to the hotel at night, we ate our Compleat meals. Yes, we were all ready for regular food when we arrived back in Texas. But it was a workable solution that helped us get more out of ours days in the parks.

5. Use the fast passes if there are crowds! We waited an hour and a half for Space mountain. (Ugh!)
While we were waiting, we noticed people zipping right along in the fast pass line. We assumed the fast pass was for people who paid extra. But when we (and especially our teenage son) investigated further, it turns out that anyone can use a fast pass! We happened to be in the park during a busy week. The fast pass allowed us to do so much more.

Here’s how it works: Go to a popular ride you want to ride. If there is a long wait, go to the fast pass area. Put your ticket in the machine. The machine will give you a little paper that tells you when to return. It is as if the computer is holding your place in line. You will be given a one hour window in which to return to ride the ride. When you return, you will show your little paper to a couple of workers as you get into the fast pass line. You will only have to wait
about 5-10 minutes to board the ride. Whoever at Disney who thought this system up is a genius. Thank you, whoever you are!

You can only hold one fast pass during a time period. So plan your day around your fast passes. Do the less in-demand rides, the shops, and the shows in your waiting time. You will be amazed at how much you get to do, even when the park is crowded.

6. Pin Trading is So Fun! disneygo.com/eventservices/whatispintrading.html
My 10 year old daughter loved this. You buy a starter set of decorative Disney trading pins at any Disney store in the park. My daughter started out with all Tinker Bell pins. She also bought a Disney lanyard to wear the pins on. Then the real fun began. At every park and every store, workers will trade pins with you. Sometimes other guests will trade, too.
My daughter traded continually. There are pins representing every Disney movie and character. In addition to being fun,
pin trading helps the children attending Disney to be comfortable talking to Disney staff members. That way, if a child got lost, he/she would already feel comfortable going up to a staff member for help. Great thinking, Disney!

7. Check the weather. Be prepared for rain. It tends to rain a lot in Florida. Before you book your Disney World vacation, check yearly trends for Orlando weather. Some months are rainier than others. Even in the less rainy times, you should bring a couple of umbrellas or some rain ponchos. We didn’t heed this advice and ended up having to buy a couple of umbrellas at the park during a downpour.

I hope for you that if you dream of going to Disney World, your dream will come true and that you have a wonderful time!

🙂 Karona Drummond


My Home/My Workshop



If you’re a teacher like me, you probably have some challenges with home upkeep. If you have kids at home, and if you homeschool, you face even greater challenges.

Maybe you’re a lot neater than I am. If you are, I commend you.
You can probably give me some pointers, which I can try to use.
🙂 I homeschool part time, teach in a classroom setting part time,
and write poetry and children’s stories. It’s a blessed life.

But if you would like to drop by my house for a visit, please call a couple of weeks ahead. You may still want to put blinders on when you walk into my home. If you’re a frequent visitor, you might comment, as a friend of mine did recenty, “Don’t worry. I’m used to it.”

We have SO much STUFF! My kids have homework, projects, and regular kid stuff. My husband adores books and DVDs. I have all sorts of teaching suppies and goodies, including many books, and my ever-present tub of library books which flow in and out of the house.

Now that it’s spring, I am attempting to hatch praying mantises, herd ladybugs, and farm worms. Then there are the regular critters:
indoor dog, indoor cat, and outdoor cat, with all their sundry

Sometimes I look around my house and sigh. Just getting OUT of the house for awhile is refreshing. But one must come home. Mind you,
we DO clean. Laundry, dishes, bathrooms, food prep, etc. It’s all ongoing and seemingly going on forever. The kids pitch in.
The hubby pitches in. I take stuff to Goodwill frequently. But still, there is so much that in all the “getting things done”,
that never gets done.

Then I had a realization which has dramatically changed my outlook.
Maybe it could help you, too. My home isn’t a showplace, and never will be. My home is well lived in and filled with love. My home is our laboratory, our workshop, and our studio. It oozes with creativity and productivity.

Maybe someday I will have a separate studio to work in. But for now, I am right AT HOME in my very own workshop! And I hope you will be,

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Spring Carpe Diem

I hope that you are enjoying some pleasant spring days. Go ahead. Answer Spring’s call You’ll be glad you did.
If you have kiddos in your life, get them outside in the spring, in the dirt. You’ll all be the better for it.

Here is a poem I wrote after enjoying a very satisfying spring Saturday:

Spring Carpe Diem
(Carpe Diem: Latin phrase meaning, “Seize the day.”

I might have been in the house with the clothes.
The washing and drying is endless, you know.

I could have been scrubbing the toilet and sink.
But I gave the toilet a flush and left with a wink.

I would have been up to my armpits in bubbles
Washing each dish and rinsing the troubles

Of the endless pursuit of a house clean and spiffy.
But Spring started calling. So quick–In a jiffy

I closed the clothes hamper. I shut a few doors.
I made a quick deal with the dirt on the floors.

I traded that dirt for another dirt calling,
“Come out! Come, dig in! Stop scrubbing! Stop stalling!”

“Get out here! Grab shovel. Grab gloves. Rouse a rake!
Find seeds. Find old shoes. Spring is at stake!”

“Today is a gift. It won’t come again.
The dirt will still be there when you go back in.”

So I dug. And I planted. I breathed in the breeze.
That day wasn’t wasted.

That day was seized.

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We love you, Boston. We love you, America.

I am so sad for the people of Boston and all the marathoners, spectators, and workers that were at the race yesterday. My thoughts and prayers go out to all of you. We love you. Hatred can only tear down and destroy. But love comforts, heals, protects,, and brings us together. God bless all of you. Thank you to all of those who so courageously stepped in to help.

With love and prayers,

Karona Drummond

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Plastic Eggs are for More Than Egg Hunts

Have you filled any plastic eggs lately? Egg hunting season is in full swing. Enjoy!

You can use the eggs for more than the “Big Day” egg hunts. Here are a few ideas for you. I am sure you will think of more.

1. If you’re a mom or teacher of young children, give your kids some eggs and containers to take turns having their own egg hunts for each other. Supply them with containers to put the eggs in. This can be done inside or outside.

2. Set up a big tub of uncooked rice or uncooked pinto beans. Place plastic eggs in the tub. Encourage your children to
fill, empty, hide and find the eggs in the tub.

4. Set up an egg number-object matching center. Put numbers 1-12 on a dozen eggs. Get something small, like uncooked beans. Have your child fill each egg with the number of beans on the outside of the egg.
For an edible version of this idea, use a small cereal pieces, such as Cheerios.

5. Have your child work on his/her color skills. Use pom poms. Your child can match the pom pom to the color of the egg. Have your child put the matching color of pom pom inside each egg. Then put unmatched colors of pom poms and introduce the word “mismatched”.

6. Make an edible version of the above activity.Use a small colored cereal, like Froot Loops.

7. After you do the Froot Loop activity with counting, involve the sense of smell. Have your chlid close her eyes or put on a blindfold. Can she identify the color of the egg by the matching Froot Loops’ smell? Open the eggs one at a time and “see” how it goes.

8. Next, let your child blindfold you. Can you identify the color of the egg by the smell of the Froot Loops
inside? “Waste not, want not.” You had better go ahead and eat those Froot Loops in the name of frugality. 🙂

9. Simple addition: After you do the number matching activities, try this simple addition activity: Choose 2 eggs with numbers on them and the corresponding number of small objects inside. If you add those two numbers of objects, how many will you have? Empty the contents of the eggs and check your answer.

10. For older children: Work on math facts with plastic eggs. Using masking tape, write a simple math fact on the outside of the egg. Write the answer on a small piece of paper and insert into the egg. Do this with as many math facts as you would like to work on for the day. (Example: all the addition 3s facts) Have your child say the math fact, then the answer. Have him open the egg to check if he said the correct answer.

11. To extend the above activity: Place all the answers to a set of math facts in a pile on the table. Give your child the eggs with the math facts that go with those answers. Have your child put the right answer in the right egg.

12. An oldie but a goodie: Fill a bunch eggs about halfway with rice. Tape up the eggs. Give each child (and yourself)
2 eggs to hold. Put on some happy music. Shake those eggs to the beat of the music! 🙂

Happy Easter!!

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