Brain Break Sticks


After 10 years of teaching either English as a Second Language (ESL) or Library Media at the elementary level, I am heading into the classroom this coming school year. I will be teaching 2nd grade next year and I am very excited because it has always been my favorite grade level to teach and since I student taught in a 2nd grade class, this grade level has always had a special place in my heart.

I am very overwhelmed by the prospects of heading into the classroom at this point in my career, but it could be worse. My friend Janine is also heading into a 2nd grade classroom next school year after teaching elementary music for 27 years! Yikes! I feel for her! In order to help with the transition I’ve been doing some work at home this summer and one project I am really proud of are my brain break sticks. As our district shifts to Common Core next year we will be scheduling a 2 hour language arts block and a 90-minute math block. Facing that I knew brain breaks would be a must.

A few years ago our wonderful P.E. staff did a presentation at our conference days on brain breaks and it was great. With their presentation in mind and some pins from Pinterest as inspiration, here’s what I came up with.

Hard to see and upside down, yes, I know. It’s a bit pathetic what my blogging         skills have become. In all honesty, I have yet to find a blogging website that has a format that I can figure out. Technologically inclined, yes. Natural born blogger, no.

Anywho… here’s what I did. The original post I found on Pinterest was from Keep Calm and Teach On ( and this great link for 20 3-minute brain breaks from Minds in Bloom (


I compiled ideas from both sites and typed a little cheat sheet to not only help myself remember what I was thinking at 12am one morning and for substitute teachers. You can download that here

Then, using my super-fab Post-it File Folder Labels, I typed each brain break into the labels document, printed it, and affixed ne label to each popsicle stick. These, by the way, are the large popsicle sticks that I picked up at Michael’s craft store for some other projects long ago. I suspect that since these are post-it note labels they may not last in the long run. But my back-up plan is to simply put some packaging tape over the labels if needed.

I also did a little color-coding to help me out. Say, if we only have a minute to do a brain break I put the really quick ones (Like High Cincos, Spin 3X, etc.) on one color so I know what to grab if we need a brain break but time is limited. Same things with longer activities… they are on another color if we have a little time to kill before heading to lunch while we’re in line, etc.

I know this isn’t anything groundbreaking, awe-inspiring, or even magical. But, it’s one simple, easy, quick item I was able to create at home that I know will help me out as I make such a huge transition in the coming months. The best part of this project is I finally have a use for the super-cute tin can project my 3yo sweet pea made for me at preschool this past year 🙂


Over-doing It


Well, I over-did it again. Working, taking care of the family, cleaning and organizing the house, laundry, grocery shopping, cooking dinner, squeezing in time to play with my sweet girl… it just pushed me over the edge and I am sick… AGAIN!! In early October I had strep throat, which I haven’t had since I was a kid. I don’t think I missed any time from school for that, but I do recall a really rough weekend that did not allow me to catch up on all my motherly/wifely/homemaker type duties. Then, right before Thanksgiving I woke up one morning with extreme ear pain. I thought it would go away but of course, but Thanksgiving day it was insane. I couldn’t hear out of my left ear and then came the coughing. Nonstop, incessant, lung-burning hacking. I finally went to the Urgent Care because my doctor’s office was way overbooked due to being closed for 4 days over the holiday. The kind doctor there diagnosed me with a double ear infection, sinus infection and bronchitis. Took my antibiotic and codeine cough syrup like a good girl and didn’t miss a day of work. When it got to be 2 weeks later and I was still not feeling any better at all I called up my family doctor, Pete. We are so blessed that my in-laws best friends are both doctors. Pete got me in right away and diagnosed me as a hot mess. Same infections were all in place but this time I was prescribed another 10 day dose of 3 antibiotics a day, Prednisone, and an inhaler to use 2x a day. We hadn’t seen this combo since I was 6 weeks pregnant and couldn’t take anything for it! Then both my ear drums ruptured while on a flight to Phoenix. I thought I was going to die! I wanted to die! It took a long time, but I did eventually get better once I had entered the 2nd trimester!

Well, here I am again. Ear infection, sinus infection, and bronchitis. I said, “How can I have bronchitis? I’m not even coughing.” Pete said that I would be coughing soon. A few hours later it did. I did actual take off from school on Tuesday and Wednesday and haven’t been cleared to return to work until Friday. Usually I don’t heed the good doctor’s advice, but maybe one more day of rest will help me to get better a little quicker. I hate missing school though. The thought of leaving my little learners in the hands of a sub who probably is not a certified school librarian simply scares me. It takes me forever to prepare detailed plans just in case I get someone who doesn’t know what a Venn diagram is or how to complete a fiction/nonfiction comparison of two books.

Sometimes I wonder if we, mothers, wives, employees/employers push ourselves too far. Never mind… I don’t wonder, I know we do. We do it to keep our kids happy. We do it to keep our husbands and families happy. We do it to prove that we can have it all… working outside the home, having a wonderfully organized and clean home, well-behaved and well-dressed children. But why? Why do we feel the need to prove it? We push ourselves so hard until we can’t go anymore.

Will I stop doing this? Probably not. But, will I learn to try to take some time for myself? I hope so. Not yet though… I still have a load of laundry sitting in the dryer (that can wait until tomorrow for a run through the wrinkle release cycle tomorrow), a sink full of dishes to wash (which will probably wait until tomorrow), and a ton of fun, creative things for me to make to bless my family with from Pinterest. That sounds like a good place to start!

Check out the new post under Mission:Fun… Fun with Magnets. I did those tonight while I had a little burst of energy. Now, time for some cough syrup with codeine and hopefully the first good night’s sleep I’ve had in 5 days.Sub plans are prepared for tomorrow… but I’ll play that by ear. On a good note… I was able to cross a few things off of “The List.”


Mission Overload!


Now that the weather here in Pennsylvania has become “normal” for the season, I find that we’re hunkering down inside more than we were just a month ago. I do enjoy the winter, for about a month, and one good snowstorm each year. But, I am kind of missing those 60 degree days we had in early December! However, the upside to that is having so much time to work on all those great ideas I found on Pinterest in the past 2 weeks! Well… maybe I shouldn’t say having so much time to work on this things. I am definitely neglecting some other motherly duties which is why one load of laundry sat in the dryer from Thursday night until this morning. Oh well…

Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever gotten so excited about a project that you just have to drop everything else to work on it? What about multiple projects at one time?!?! I currently have about 5 projects in the work which is why my dining room looks like a bomb went off.

This year I decided to create a list of things I wanted to get done in 2012 as opposed to resolutions. Many tasks on the list were creating fun, self-contained educational toys for my sweet 3 year old. A lot of the projects were precipitated on the fact that we will be flying from Philadelphia to Phoenix in a few weeks. My daughter’s a pro at flying from Philly to Tampa and has made that round trip 5 times already in her short little life. But the Philly to Phoenix flight is a whole other beast. Although she would be perfectly content watching Spongebob on her portable DVD player the entire flight I am 1- not sure if the battery life on our DVD player would last that long and 2- would rather not have her submersed in Spongebob the whole time!

After finding so many great ideas “pinned” on Pinterest I thought many of them would make perfect activities that pack well and easily into our travel backpack . I’ve created quite a few, have had a few trial and errors, and those posts are coming soon. Can’t wait to share with everyone what I’ve been up to in these first few weeks of 2012! My list, the one I mentioned instead of doing resolutions currently has34 tasks on it. I know more will be added and some are tasks that will need to reoccur throughout the year, but so far I have managed to cross of 6 tasks and have 5 others in the works. Look for “The List” in upcoming posts as well.

~ Jaci

Mission: Motherhood… a fresh start!


This fall I had begun a new blog called Mission Dinner. I decided to write this blog to address the fact that I hated cooking dinner. For those of you who followed me before, don’t worry- most of my posts from that blog will be making their way over to this site eventually.

After posting on Mission Dinner for a few months my goals and focus started to change. One reason for that is my discovery of Pinterest! What a wonderful site! Any how… I am trying to embrace motherhood by being a well-rounded mom who does craft projects, cooks great meals for my family, has an organized home, and so on and so forth. These are lofty goals for me. However, blogging not only allows me to share what’s going on in my life but it also holds me accountable.

I hope that you will enjoy my new site as it comes together. I will keep Mission Dinner up and running until everything has been imported into this blog. Have a fantastic week!