Teaching students how to write is a tricky process. I teach Kindergarten, and my students enter MAYBE knowing letters and some sounds, and exit reading and writing. But how do we get them from Point A to Point Z?!?! How do you encourage them to write without having them shut down at such a daunting task?! Well, I have some tricks and tips to make writing something your students LOVE, and make it easier for you to teach!

In my opinion, the best way for the littles to start writing is by drawing their story and labeling the picture! Labeling pushes them to segment words into sounds, and put them on paper. It is a STRUGGLE at first, and requires lots of coaching, encouragement, and practice!! Over the next three weeks I will break the method to my madness down for you, starting with part 1 today!!

Labeling the teacher is SO much fun! Littles can laugh at ANYTHING- including a teacher with sticky notes all over her! ;)

This activity is low-prep and HIGH-impact. All I did was write the parts of my body (eye, leg, elbow, hand, nose, hair, etc.) on sticky notes, and stuck them to my whiteboard. One KEY here is to have enough labels for each student to label one part.

Then, I challenged my students to label me! They chose a sticky note, TRIED to read the word (I had to help- as a lot of these words are hard for this age!), and stuck it to the right part of my body.

Giggles ensued every time they labeled me, especially when the labels would cover an eye, or my mouth!

Not only was this a FUN and MEMORABLE lesson- but it was great to introduce them to labeling, and show them that EVERYONE can label! Idea Credit goes to the lovely Cara- The First Grade Parade!

Come back next week for part two...guiding students to label with some themed stories, slinkies, and s'more! :D In the mean time, pin this image so you can reference it later and share it with friends! You can also get ahead of the game by heading over to my TpT Store to check out all my labeling resources: The Gypsy Teacher.


Teaching in Tanzania!!

Teaching in Tanzania is not the easiest thing you can do, but it sure is rewarding!! Most evenings I come home exhausted- by the heat, by the kids, by life. But, my heart is full of joy, to be doing what I love, and trusting the Lord every step I take. I thought I'd share today what life looks like...teaching in Tanzania!

I get to teach with this incredible group of superheroes! They are so much more than my coworkers- they are my friends!! I love that God has given me such an incredible group of women to connect and grow with. It's truly a blessing here- when we're away from home!

Our morning drive to school usually includes a GORGEOUS Kili view!! We are blessed to live and teach right at the base of The Roof of Africa! What an awesome way to start your morning!! :)

I get to take my class on fun field trips for hands-on learning opportunities! They loved visiting the greenhouses last month!

On Sundays, we get to visit all kinds of churches! This particular church was so cool because there was a "Battle of the Choirs" going on! Over 10 choirs were there! There's always something new and interesting at the churches we attend! :)

As a teacher here you quickly learn what works and what doesn't. It's very hard to keep things from falling off our concrete walls, but I've learned that hot glue on top of masking tape does the trick! #teacherhack 

My creativity as a teacher has grown as there are limited resources here! But I love teaching with themes, and creating fun learning environments for my kiddos! We learned about Ancient Egypt a couple weeks ago, and they LOVED becoming pharaohs!!

We got to rep our school and #RUNFORHOPE at the Kilimanjaro Marathon! Even our littlest students came out to support!! Such cuties!!

I get to teach a diverse group of kindergarten cuties, and we get to dress up monthly for our themed days! Superhero Day is always a favorite!! I love these littles!

Last month I got to celebrate with my friends as they welcomed their beautiful baby girl into the world! Her name is Favor, and she is SO precious! I love spending time with them whenever we get the chance! Moshi truly feels like home, as I am surrounded by so many great friends, that have become like family!

There are definitely hard parts of living here- such as saying goodbye to this sweetheart! She has been one of my favorite students this year, and she just left this week to return to America with her family. Perpetual goodbyes never get easier. :(

I love that I get to teach alongside my friend, Esther! She has been such a blessing to me, and I don't know if I could teach Kindergarten without her! :D

There are definite ups and downs to teaching here in Tanzania, but there's no place I'd rather be! My heart is here, and I love getting to love on and teach my Kindergarteners! I'm so thankful for God's plans and purposes! He is a GOOD FATHER!

P.S. If YOU would like to teach with me here in Tanzania, I'd love to give you more info! Email me at We'd love to connect with you!

February Faves and a #TPTBEMINE Giveaway!

Hey there friends!! I hope you're having a great February so far!! I have some VERY exciting things for you today...make sure you read to the end of this post to enter some awesome giveaways! Did you know that Teachers Pay Teachers is throwing a sitewide sale Feb. 7-8?!?! Up to 28% so many amazing resources, including my WHOLE STORE!!

February is such a fun month- with Valentine's Day, the 100th Day of School, and more! Living in Tanzania means we don't have to deal with all the commercialism that holidays bring, which is nice. But I love introducing my students to these holidays however I can! Here are some resources I use to do so. Click the pictures for more info!
This is my newest creation- right in time for Valentine's Day!! Get your early writers labeling pictures, differentiate with three levels, and you get to choose a koala, giraffe, or penguin! Labeling encourages them to stretch out the sounds of a word and write it how they think it should be. It is NOT about perfection- it's about working towards their best!

This is a craft I do with everyone- young and old. A heart map is just that...a map of your heart! Students get to create their heart maps (like mine above), and then interview each other, and write an expository piece on their partner's heart map! Gets in important writing skills while keeping things personal and fun!

Here's another Label and Color activity for winter! This also makes a good early finisher activity, morning work, or writing center! Doing these throughout the year allows you to see their growth and progress, as well as aligning to your themes!

Make sure you check out this blog post for more about Valentine's Day in the Classroom (and get a freebie or two!)! 

Okay, now for the FUN part!! I've teamed up with some other bloggers to bring you a GIVEAWAY BLOG HOP! We're each giving away a $10 Gift Card to TPT, so you can grab some great deals before the sale ends!! It's going to be a quick one, so make sure you get your entries in TODAY! After you enter my giveaway, click the image below to hop to the next blog! Happy Hopping and Shopping!

Village Church!

One of the MANY things I love about living in East Africa is going to church in the villages!! They all tend to have similar things in common: the cutest kids, joyful worship, and the thick presence of God!! We go to village church once or twice a month, usually, and I love it so much!! Here's some snapshots from our last service!

Worship is taken to a whole new level. Though the words may be in a different language (that I'm working to learn!), the Spirit moves so mightily!

The babies here were SO adorable!! I wanted to take one home!! ;) Just kidding, but seriously, I couldn't get enough of these cute faces!!

We had the opportunity to pray for the whole church at the end of the service. God healed earaches, boils, and more!! Mungu ni mwema!! (God is good!!)

A peek through the church window.

When church finishes, we file out of the church and greet each other. We make a circle outside the church, and we greet everyone!! I love this tradition- what a great way to end our time together!

There are so many children in this church, which I love! Their smiles are so precious, and I loved spending a few minutes with them. There's a reason why Jesus said... "Let the little children come to me..." 

We had to take some selfies too!! 

My favorite picture of the day. This beauty loved looking at the pictures I was taking, and came up and leaned her head on my shoulder. I had to flip the camera and take a selfie with her!!

Make sure you head over to my Instagram and watch the video I posted from this church too!! Such a great day! We serve an AWESOME GOD!

IMMERSED in the New Year!

Heri ya Mwaka Mpya! Err, Happy New Year! :) 2017 has gotten off to a great start, and I'm looking forward to what this year will bring. I have lots to share with you about my recent adventures, and lots of teaching ideas, but seeing as this is my first post of 2017, I thought I'd share more from my heart. 

Since 2013, I've chosen ONE WORD for the year. This has become a popular tradition in the past couple of years, and I really love it. It changes your mindset from having a laundry list of resolutions to fixating on one word- and letting God speak to you and move you in that direction. Here's a recap from years past:
2013 - STRETCH
2014 - FOCUS (This year was HUGE! God brought my dreams of teaching and missions into focus and reality as I moved to Tanzania!!)
2015 - ABIDE
2016 - HOPE

And my word this year is IMMERSE. I want to be immersed in the Lord- and deepen my relationship with Him. I want to be immersed in what I'm doing - teaching, the culture of Tanzania, relationships with others, learning Swahili, etc. I don't want to be satisfied with floating on the surface. I want to be submerged in the things of God! 

As I've prayed into this year, and had some pretty amazing times with Jesus, He's revealed to me another aspect of IMMERSE. I found this segment from the International House of Prayer's prayer room, with Jon Thurlow. The beginning song captured my heart so deeply, and I've had the lyrics running through my mind and heart the past week or so:

When a cup is immersed in water, most of the time, what happens?! It gets filled up as well!! Unless it is totally flipped upside down (not where I want to be), it fills with water. God revealed to me that as I immerse myself in His waters, His purposes, He will fill me up so I can pour out His love. 

I decided to start this year out by doing a 21-Day Daniel Fast. A friend was going to do it, and I really felt God say that I should do it too. It's been an awesome way to connect deeper with God as I say NO to my flesh, and YES to my spirit. It's been refreshing, though hard. Such a great way to start the year. I'm going to be writing another post all about it once I finish!

Along with my word for the year, I do like to come up with some GOALS as well. I try to set goals that I can measure, and achieve.
- HEALTH: I've always been up and down when it comes to taking care of me, and my goal this year is consistency. I have a goal weight I've set for myself, as well as a goal to work out 4x a week. 
- BLOG/TPT: I have made "office hours" for myself during the week to dedicate to my blog and to TpT, social media, etc. I want to be more consistent in blogging, on social media, and as a TpT author. Having a set hour two evenings a week will help me stay on top of things! I also want to get back to posting at least 4 blog posts a month!

So this is how I'm starting the year!! I look forward to what's in store, as I immerse myself in the moment! Life flies by too fast; I want to relish each moment!!