So-Cal Teacher Blogger and TPT Meet-Up!

Last weekend I was able to attend an AMAZING So-Cal Teacher Blogger/TPT Meet-up! It was hosted by the lovely ladies, Aris , Caitlin , Holly , and Janice . These ladies are rock stars! They are teachers, entrepreneurs, bloggers, and TPT authors! They juggle it all amazingly and are so inspiring!

This event was at the swanky Shade Hotel in Manhattan Beach. It was a beautiful evening! The sun was just starting to set and the fresh air from the beach was refreshing and delightful. I feel so lucky to live in So. Cal! 

The beautiful Manhattan Beach Pier!

The cute giveaway/raffle table! 

It was the perfect setting for mingling with amazingly talented, passionate, and dedicated teachers! Lots of collaboration was had, teaching stories exchanged, existing connections updated, and new friendships formed! It was a ton of fun! 

Me and my teacher bloggy bestie Courtney!

The fun and hilarious Jen  catching up with sweet and happy Molly !

The highlight of the event were the two Teacher Pay Teacher girl's Sam and Jillian that were there! Sam is the Social Media Community Developer and Jillian is the Events Specialist for TPT.
They traveled all the way from their home in New York (where there was currently a blizzard happening) for this meet-up and the bonus was that it was in a much warmer climate! 
Sam and Jillian were so nice and down-to-earth and it was such a treat to meet them both! There are definitely a huge asset to Teachers Pay Teachers!
How cute is Michelle with Sam and Jill from TPT?

There was a fabulous raffle featuring items from the wonderful Erin Condren , Astrobrights , Sheila Jane Teaching , GoNoodle , TPT , Ellison Sit Spots , and Etsy

I won this fabulous die cut machine and a credit for die cuts from Ellison ! I am going to use it to make seasonal cards,  themed booklets, and classroom decorations for my Fab Firsties!

To top off this already amazing event, everybody left with a great swag bag! Inside of the bag were a Go Noodle lanyard, Teachers Pay Teachers water bottle and a green notebook, Erin Condren notepads with the cutest motivational cards, and  a package of brightly colored Astrobright papers.

I loved every minute of this meet-up and can't wait until the next one!

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Style Spotlight-Fall Hats

I am thrilled to bring you this Fall style link-up with lovely fashion bloggers Elle and Jacqueline ! Our spotlight this week is on Fall hats, one of my favorite things to wear! Come join in the fun and link-up with us!

                            Wearing: Hat: Nordstroms    Sweater: Nordstroms    Dress: Old Navy  
                                      Boots: Nordstroms    Belt: Nordstroms   Watch: Nordstroms


1. We kindly ask that you follow the two hosts: Elle from Living in Color Style on Bloglovin', Jacqueline from Stylin' In St. Louis via Bloglovin' and the guest host, Jessica of TK and Tassels. (The first three links in the link-up.)

2. Use the button provided on Elle or Jacqueline's side bar or link back to the link-up on your blog.

3. Enjoy reading other blogs and make new blogger friends!

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Going Back to School in Style Giveaway!

Happy Saturday! This is my last weekend before I report back to school! I go back to school about a week and a  half before the students come. In that time I attend teacher meetings, do Kindergarten assessments, setup my classroom, etc. I'm excited to share (in a future blog post) about my classroom. As usual, I'm changing things up and doing a fun tropical theme this year! :)

This summer was amazing and I'm jazzed for another fabulous school year! If you are not quite feeling excited about heading back to school, I'm sure that some new stylish clothes and a great everyday bag that supports a good cause is all you need to put a pep in your step! I'm teaming up with a great group of teacher bloggers to bring you this exciting giveaway, hosted by the lovely Melissa Dailey!


Enjoy your weekend and Happy Back to School!
                         With glue sticks, staples, and fresh pencils, 

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What is TK? A post long overdue!

Happy Summer Friends! I hope that everyone is having/had a fabulous summer doing all of your favorite things! I can't believe that it's Back to School time already! I know that it's been awhile *ahem* that I've blogged on here. It's probably not even worth mentioning anymore, but what IS worth mentioning is this FABULOUS post written by one of my new TK teacher friends! Nichole Phelps from A Learning Moment wrote a phenomenal post that answers the question, " What is TK?" I know that was MY first question when I was asked to teach it two years ago! Since then, I can honestly say that I've had the BEST TIME discovering the wonderful world that is "TK " and it has led me to some of my most creative and FUN teaching moments and relationships ever! I feel so blessed to be a TK Teacher and have even started up a social media based community for TK Teachers to come together and connect! When I started, I had nobody to " talk TK" with. Now I do, and I couldn't be more exited! I'm going to stop babbling now and leave you to read Nichole's fabulous description of TK that I couldn't have written better myself. Thanks Nichole for sharing about TK so accurately and articulately!  :)

*Sidenote: THIS CHANGE is pretty recent for TK! Thoughts?

                             What *is* TK??


So, over the past weekend I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to explain to my aunt (who is from Texas) the wonders of what I do. I gushed and I enthused. I shared about the wonderful things I get to do with my kiddos each year, and planning for subsequent years. I went on for about thirty minutes before she stopped me with a question that had me frozen in shock: 

"What is tk??"

What is tk? WHAT IS TK? I was so shocked it took me a hot minute to really form a decent answer for her. I had, in my blissful ignorance, assumed that EVERYONE knew about TK. What it was, how amazing it was to teach it, the benefits...what "TK" even stood for. I was so surprised to find that this is definitely not the case!

Now, I want to put a disclaimer out there: I AM NOT AN EXPERT! These answers are based on information I have received from my district, some personal researche I have done on my own time, and discussing with other TK teachers. These answers are not written in stone, and more often than not will change in the future. I just want to shed a little light on the TK world. 

1. What is TK?
TK (also known as Transitional Kindergarten) is a new program being implemented in the state of California. As far as it has been explained to me, California is trying to split kindergarten into two years. The first year is TK. It is different from preschool and PreK, as well as regular kindergarten (those differences will be explained in a later question.) TK is completely optional. It is not mandatory in the state of California to have your child in school until they reach the age of 6, so TK and kindergarten are not mandatory at all. (I think they should be but, that's just me.)

2. What does TK consist of?
A day in TK is very different from a day in kindergarten. My day consists of teaching reading, writing, math, science, social sciences, P.E. and art. On top of all of this I also focus a good chunk of my time for developmental play. My principal actually wants me to focus a good 45 minutes each day on just developmental play because that is the distinguishing factor between TK and kindergarten. 

Expectations will vary from site to site, as well as district to district. In my TK students are expected to learn their ABCs, 123s, sounds, and basic sight words (my rainbow program that I created for my class consists of 30 sight words.)  I focus on teaching the mechanics of scissor working, holding a pencil, proper glue etiquette, and peer-to-peer interactions. I work towards writing a complete sentence by the end of the year so when they move on to kindergarten, they can focus on putting simple sentences together to form easy paragraphs. My job is to prep the students I get and help them get ready for a year in a regular kindergarten class. Hopefully, if I've done my job properly, kindergarten teachers can focus their attention on students who haven't been exposed to academic concepts. Basically, kindergarten teachers get to spread themselves a little less thin because a portion of their students (the ones who came from me) will have already mastered certain things (ex: their ABCs, 123s, writing their name, beginning reading and writing skills etc.)

3. How is TK different from preschool or PreK?
A lot of this is actually licensing. To be a preschool or PreK teacher in my district you have to have special early childhood development credits. I must have a valid California teaching credential, BUT (please notice the bolding and underline) that is because I have been "granfathered" into the program. (This will be discussed in the next question.) 

TK is also different from preschool and PreK because EVERYTHING I do is 100% aligned with the kindergarten California common core standards. I cannot speak for every preschool or preK class, but that is the stipulation laid down for me by MY DISTRICT. I must follow the CCSS in everything I do, and everything I do must be justified by a standard. The only aspect of my classroom day that is not aligned to the standards is my "developmental play time" and again, this is something I am required to focus on. (My background is 3 years of kindergarten instruction so cutting a big chunk out of my day for this is tough for me because I can think of so many more ways to use it.)

4. Do TK teachers need to be credentialed? Do they need the ECD (early childhood development) credits like a preschool teacher?
Yes. Every TK teacher must hold a valid teaching credential. On the website it states: "Yes, in California, TK teachers need to have a teaching credential, just like Kindergarten teachers." {source found here} The ECD credits is where it gets a bit tricky. I do NOT have any required ECD units. (My emphasis was in Early Childhood Development and Early Psychological Development but I do not have the necessary units to be a preschool teacher.) The reason I do not need to go back to get my ECD units is because I was "grandfathered" into the program. Basically, I was hired before the state of California set down specific guidelines on what is necessary to be a TK teacher. Again, on the website it states: 

That "a school district or charter school shall ensure that credentialed teachers who are first assigned to a TK classroom after July 1, 2015, have, by August 1, 2020, one of the following:
  1. At least 24 units in early childhood education, or childhood development, or both.
  2. As determined by the LEA employing the teacher, professional experience in a classroom setting with preschool age children that is comparable to the 24 units of education described in bullet 1.
  3. A child development teacher permit issued by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC). " {source}
Now, Nichole, you just said YOU don't have any special ECD units. How do you qualify?? And you are 100% justified in asking that question. As I mentioned before I was "grandfathered" in. If you continue reading on that page it continues to say:
"Any current credentialed teacher who is or was assigned to teach TK, or a combination class of kindergarten and TK, on or before July 1, 2015, is “grandfathered in” to teach TK without having to meet additional requirements. Any credentialed teacher assigned to teach TK, or a combination class of kindergarten and TK, after July 1, 2015, will have until August 1, 2020, to meet the above-mentioned education requirements." {source}

I was hired July 27, 2014. I eventually will have to go back (simply because I want to at this point) and get the units, but it isn't required of me just yet. 

5. How does a student qualify for TK vs. Kindergarten?
Right now, this is very simple to explain. Way back when I was in school, the cutoff for kindergarten was December 2. California has slowly been moving back the cutoff date. As of right now, it is Sept 1. I get the kids that have birthdays that fall from September 2 - December 2, so they are 4 when they start in my class. They are too young for kindergarten, and too old for preschool. SEND THEM TO ME! They are developmentally at the age where the extra time in TK will benefit them and send them on to a successful academic career. They will be starting with other kids their age, but they will be starting kindergarten AHEAD. I love that idea. 

6. What if a kid is ready for 1st grade at the end of TK? Do they still have to go through the year of kindergarten as well?
This answer is tricky. I don't like jumping kids up. I never have. (I was a candidate as a child and I thank my lucky stars my parents decided against it for me.) By the book, kids must enroll in kindergarten after they finish TK. BUT (and this is a BIG but) there are exceptions to that rule. Last year I had a little boy that came to me advanced. He knew 99% of everything I was going to teach him through out the year and the only reason he wasn't in Kindergarten is strictly because he missed the cut off by a week or two. I taught him above his grade and challenged him with standard kindergarten materials because I didn't want him to get bored. I was approached by my principal and instructed to give a handful of students the ending kindergarten assessment (parents were requesting that they jump.) The required pass rate to jump was 100%...he passed it with 100% accuracy. 

Long story short, if they are 100% ready they can jump (based on your district's requirements) but I rarely recommend it. I think each grade offers their own unique focus and developmental challenges that skipping isn't the best option. (I'll get off my soap box now.)

7. What does a typical day in TK look like? (Daily routine)
I have an early bird/late bird schedule. So my day goes as follows:

7:45-8:30 Universal Access/Developmental playtime (this is when I do assessments, and guided reading/writing)
8:30-8:40 Morning warm-up (clean up and dances)
8:40-8:45 Late birds show up
8:45-9:00 breakfast for the class
9:00-9:30 carpet time/calendar/morning meeting (this takes place on the carpet and is where I do the majority of my teaching)
9:30-9:45 morning math (introduction of the concept)
9:45-10:00 morning recess
10:00-10:15 Math seat work
10:15-10:45 Phonics/ELA time
10:45-11:00 clean up (early birds pack up to go home from cafeteria) line up
11:00-11:40 lunch and lunch recess
11:40-12:25 Universal access/developmental playtime (for late birds)
12:25-12:35 afternoon cool down (clean up and dances)
12:35-12:45 final message (positive shares and thoughts)
12:45 go home

My ELA time and Math time gets the art, science, social sciences, and P.E. all rolled into it. Certain days will have specific lessons, but for the most part that is my typical routine. 

Well I hope I have answered everyone's questions! If I didn't please feel free to leave one in the comments and I'll either make a follow up blog post or I'll answer directly in the comments!

Thank you so much for everyone's feedback and giving me a general idea of what you want to know. I hope it was helpful!

Always remember, every moment can be a learning moment!

Sincerely from TK,

Walkin' in a Winter Wonderland in So. Cal!

Hello! Happy New Year ! For those of you who have been following me, let me re-introduce myself. I am "Jessica from TK and TASSELS" and I may have been a bit overambitious when I started this blog. I naively thought that I would post two to three times per week. that didn't happen. I am not going to give you a laundry list of excuses except to say that I am a teacher and then there is this thing called LIFE ...and that is all the "excuses" that my teacher friends need to have to understand right!?

But to those of you who are NEW to my blog...WELCOME! I am "Jessica from TK and TASSELS" and unless you are looking at my last blog post ( ahem..back in September) I'll just pretend that I'm actually a regular blogger . I do post regularly. I post REGULARLY when I am on any type of break from school that is. :)

Thank you to my So. Cal. Blogger Friends for jump starting the New Year with a fun blog hop and getting slacking bloggers like myself back on track with this post!

How was your Christmas? Did you feel like it snuck up ridiculously fast this year? I don't think I've ever been this "behind" on Christmas this year. Lucky for me, my family isn't that big and they are really laid back when it comes to gift giving and getting together. But, I wanted to do more than I actually got around to doing before Christmas! I mean, we didn't even have time for our traditional Disneyland trip, which we NEVER MISS! But, I feel that with each year, I'm realizing more and more that Christmas and life in general is about the PEOPLE and not about the "to do" lists or the presents or even where you go. It sounds so cliche I know, but Christmas is about the birth of Jesus and celebrating it with loved ones. And that can be done at home with your family (and friends) with no gifts at all or just simple / modest ones.That is what I teach my TK students and I really tried to live that out this holiday season. Having said that,I did get a WONDERFUL gift this Christmas...

The most exciting thing that happened this vacation was convincing my hubby to agree to fostering a sweet two year old rescue Maltese. I have never had a dog as a pet and I've been dying to have one for years, but never could have one due to living arrangements (apartments) and such before. When I found out that you could foster a dog ( where have I been?), that seemed non-committal enough to my husband so he agreed to it. But, who am I kidding, if I can't even keep my little blog going during school, how am I going to take care of a dog? Much less a dog that has abandonment issues and is extremely needy? As many of you have seen on my Instagram, my sweet Sadie cries every time I literally step foot outside of the room that she is in. We are currently crate training her so that she gets her potty routine back on track. She was potty trained when she came to us , but with the new environment and business of the holidays and people coming over, she got off track with her routine and regressed in her potty behavior. Thankfully, we are back on track with that now! The issue now is that she is super attached to her mommy ( me) and I am super attached to her! I can't believe that I'm saying this, but THE HUBBY WAS RIGHT! He knew that I wouldn't be able to "give her away" to new adoptive parents once I started bonding with her. Maybe this fostering idea wasn't so great.
I feel so bad you guys. I love her so much already! Sure, when she was crying and keeping me up at night and I was sleeping downstairs on the couch next to her crate that wasn't fun. I mean, humans should sleep in their human beds upstairs right? I don't want to spoil her and create bad habits, but she is just like a baby and is starved for attention and snuggles bless her heart! I can't say that I mind giving them to her either. I have actually LOVED snuggling her little warm body on these cold Winter days lately, but I want her to learn how to be OK when she is alone.When she cries it seriously breaks my heart. :(

Look at this face!
My mommy got me this new raincoat for our walks. Don't I look adorable?

But,when she runs around the house acting like a psycho dog when I come home because she was seriously have a panic attack while I was gone and is SO EXCITED that I came back I feel guilty! I've tried giving her natural "pet anxiety" drops, used a "Thundershirt" on her, and really tried to make her crate a happy and safe place for her to be in.
 I know she needs more companionship than I can give her once I go back to school. Sweet pup has issues but it isn't her fault. And I feel like I'm letting her down if I give her I'll just be adding to her "abandonment issues." I feel like she is mine already, but I have to do the right thing and let her go to another home if that new home can provide more human companionship during the day and/or has other doggy siblings for her to play with. I know the right thing to do is to give her back, but it's killing me. I already told the foster coordinator lady once that we were going to adopt her, but then I feel guilty thinking of her being alone at home for so long during the day while we are at work. I know that she would adjust and get better with time, but I don't have the luxury of that. If possible adoptive parents are interested in her, I have to let them meet her and give her (and them) that opportunity. That's what foster pet parents agree too. What would you do?

I don't meant to make this a sad post. Thanks for "listening" you guys. I feel better just writing it all out here. I know that I can count on my blogging community to be supportive, positive, and encouraging! That is a major reason why I started blogging in the first place..because really who doesn't need to be surrounded by inspiring,positive, and kind people in their life? Everyone does! I've really started to only fill my life and spend my energy on individuals that want the best for me and uplift me as both a teacher and a person. And I hope to do the same as a friend! That is my goal and focus going into 2015!

Because you are so sweet to read my post all the way to this point...I have a Winter freebie for all of you to use when you go back to the classroom! I know the first thing that my class asks me and I ask them is, "What did you do on your vacation?" I usually make it the first writing journal prompt of the New Year. Now, you can use these cute snowman notes to give to your students! Just put their name in the blank space, add a short line about what you did on your vacation, and add your name at the end for personalized and festive notes that make your students feel special. Print them out on cardstock and leave them on your kid's desks first thing the Monday back from break. Watch for their smiles! Or have your principal come "deliver" them sometime to your class in the morning.
My kids get so excited when they get "mail" from me.

 Winter Snowman Notes Freebie!

And because everyone loves to win something....follow the directions below to win a giftcard to TARGET and/or Teachers Pay Teachers! How awesome is that?  Good luck! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Finally, since this IS a "Winter in So.Cal" post, I have to share with you a pic of where I live in Orange County; all decked out this holiday season! Any locals recognize this view?  I am so blessed to live here!

Me and my love enjoying the season!

               Now head on over to the fabulous Palma of
"KFUNdamentals" here...


                      Cheers friends! May 2015 be your most fulfilled year yet! I wish you all the best!
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Back to School= Delayed delayed post!

SCHOOL HAS STARTED and it is back to 100 mph warp speed folks! I wanted to do a "classroom reveal" but that might not happen until Christmas vacation.
 It's like one minute we are all "gearing up for back to school" as teachers and then the next minute we are in the thick of it! And boy do I mean the thick of it! There is no "easing back" into early mornings, chaotic days, not eating or using the bathroom for many hours at a time, and being just about ready to pull out a sleeping bag on your classroom floor because you'll be back in less than 10 hours anyways! God Bless whoever made Labor Day weekend the weekend after the first full week back at school! I adore what I do, but goodness gracious what a busy exhausting first week back! 

 I am blessed with the sweetest group of TK students, but I always forget just HOW much training I do in the course of the first month let alone the whole school year! Routines, routines, routines! We are learning those important classroom procedures that make the school year run like a well oiled machine. I actually had a sub one time leave a note for me that said my class had run like a " well oiled machine" and I think all teachers would agree that if you can have a sub say that about your sweet class then your "pulling out your hair" moments with your little ones is well worth it! :)

So, I'm sure that you are over this England trip that I took over what seems like years ago by now! I left off on my last blog post stating a "Part 3" was going to happen next being one to try my hardest to always keep my word I am going to give a  short recap on the last leg of my summer vacation so we can all just move on with our lives already ( or maybe that's just me)! Ha!:)

One of the adventures we had in England was our trek to the "Lost Gardens!" We found it so obviously it wasn't too "lost." Har har....bad joke. The gardens were beautiful and divided up into several sections. I took many pictures but only the food shot made it into this post.

Cornish pasty meal

If you have read every one of my England posts ( you deserve an award), you will remember that we stayed with my Aunt and Uncle in Oxford, England. My Uncle is a professor of Chinese at Oxford University. 
These are the kind of books that lined every room of my Uncle's home in Oxford!

He gave us an exclusive "backstage pass" kind of tour when we were there. It was amazing! The architecture was beautiful. I love buildings with rich history!

One of the highlights of our trip was meeting my English second cousins ( twin boys). I had a limited time to play with them so I had to work all of my Kindergarten teacher charm on them. One of the boys, Max, warmed up to me and we had a nice time playing in the garden. His brother wasn't so sure of my crazy ways and decided to stay closer to his mom ( thus why I don't have a picture with him). 

Swings are always a great ice breaker!

Congratulations if you have made it to the end of this post! Go get yourself an ice cream or something! I know that I am going too! Enjoy the rest of your weekend! Don't labor too hard! :)

*This post was written on Labor Day weekend and obviously didn't get posted until now! Have I mentioned that Back to School is really consuming?! :p

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The Seaside and City Tour-England Part 2!

Hi everyone! Remember me? The "blogger" who naively stated that , " I will blog 2-3 times per week!" Go ahead and laugh now...because believe me I am laughing right along with you! :)
While I could pretend that I am "on top of things" with my blogging in addition to back to school chaos and all of that good stuff...I must make a confession. I wrote out my England trip posts as soon as I got back aka "when I wasn't consumed in the black hole known as my classroom now!" Boy am I glad that I wrote these posts earlier or else it would be like my trip never even happened ( in the blogging world that is)! 

The second half of my England adventures included a trip with my British cousins to the Seaside. I thought that was the British word for "beach", but really when we got there it wasn't the sandy kind of beach that we like here in So. Cal. There was the water (freezing) and a bunch of wet sand, but it was still packed just like you would find our So. Cal beaches here during summer. My cousin Hannah took surfing lessons. While it was tempting since I've always wanted to try surfing, I didn't think it would be the best choice for me to try my first time surfing while this far away from home (with my luck I'd get seriously injured), so instead I cheered my cousin on and had a couple of an extra creamy Cornish ice cream. They use "clotted cream" in England and oh my word is it creamy! It was so delicious I didn't even know what to do with myself! :)
 My cousin got up on the board in a couple of tries. She is fifteen years old and ridiculously athletic! Oh, and I also got quite a tan! I thought by foregoing my trip to Hawaii this summer that I was missing out on my summer tan, but I guess going to England is kind of the same thing!? Surfing, beaches, and tans! Who knew?! And to think I brought a raincoat and clothes for cooler weather....I ended up wearing the same pair of shorts almost everyday on this trip (which means that you will probably never see me in them again)! Those who know me are nodding their heads because they know THIS IS TRUE!:)

And now the tour of London town on a double-decker bus! We had a short time in London so we had to do a pretty quick trip. We figured the tour bus was the quickest way to do this and you can jump off and back on at any point on the tour.

Took this pic especially for my  bestie Abby!

Big Ben ! Sorry if I am insulting your intelligence. I don't want to assume everybody knows this landmark.

London Eye

London Bridge

The Queen heard it was our Anniversary and had us over for tea! Kidding!:)

 I might have had a lot of fun saying British words in a fake British accent for most of the trip, much to the delight embarrassment of my sweet hubby. Ha!

Okay, I thought that I could wrap this trip up in this post but it's looking like I will be needing a part 3!

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