Aloha! This past week has been cuh-razy!  Report cards went home last Thursday, my Quarter 3 weekly planner is currently past due, and my beautiful little sister was here all week.

Here she is on a little hike we took near my favorite beach.  The rock in the background is iconic for Lanai and is called Sweetheart Rock, or Pu‘u Pehe (you can read about the legend here). This was her first trip to Lanai and it was soooo nice to spend time with her!

In addition to some island sight-seeing and adventures, I did some fun MLK activities with my students.

First off, we started by reading our Scholastic News magazine.  This helped build some background knowledge.

I then read one of my many Martin Luther King, Jr. books.  

We then watched my FAVORITE MLK book on video, Martin's Big Words.  Watch it here on Teachertube or order from Amazon

After learning all about Martin, we put our new knowledge to the test and created Simply Skilled in Second's MLK Flip Flap books.  They turned out so cute! Here is a student using his magazine to fill out the pages. 

I didn't copy the last two pages on legal sized paper to make them longer, so I just stapled the books across the bottom to make them match up.  Worked perfect!

I love this rainbow one!

 We then got to work on the Martin craft I have done for the past 3 years.  Check out this post for directions and a freebie template if you are interested.

Even the art teacher was impressed!  I had 3rd graders who were in my class last year stop by the room and reminisce over making these last year. Such sweet kids!

I love teaching about Martin Luther King, Jr.  He brings such a great message about peace and equality.  I shared this quote on my FB page last week:

Do you have a favorite quote or activity that you use each year to teach about MLK, Jr? Please share!

I'm joining up with Blog Hoppin for their fun week-long linky!

I LOVE crafting and creating fun things for my classroom, home, and gifts.  On my sidebar, you'll find labels of DIY and Crafts.  I also have a lot of projects on Classroom DIY that you can check out.

Back before I started my whole teacher blog journey, I had a craft blog, Nicole's Crafting Adventure.   I haven't posted on it in some time, but if you search around, you'll see the projects I like to make are not strictly for my classroom.

A couple Christmases ago, I decided to do all handmade gifts.  It was really fun to get creative and make things for people with my own hands.  I, for one, LOVE getting handmade gifts.  They are so thoughtful and I know the amount of time, effort, and love that goes into them.  The past two years, being in Hawaii, I sent people gifts from here, things they can't get on the mainland: macadamia chocolates, Hawaiian print things, shirts that say Lanai, cute surfer-chick hats, Hawaii Starbucks mugs, etc.  But now that the hustle and bustle of Christmas is over, I think I'm going to go back to my handmade gifts. In January and February, I have 7 friends and family birthdays.  What better way to celebrate, than to send them something I've made (especially since they should all still be full of Macadamia Kisses from their Christmas packages!)

Here are a collection of pins of things that I'm thinking about making:

I am obsessed with Colleen Wilcox's art.  It's so colorful and fluid.  I want to try to paint like her.
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 I have the materials for making soap.  I need to do more of it and have fun with it.
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I have an old towel like this from my Grandma.  I love how it never falls off the oven handle!  I need to make some of these in cute fabrics for friends who cook.
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Some placemats would be a nice gift and easy to sew (I like projects that mostly include sewing a straight line).
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I've made quite a few oven mitts and they make fabulous gifts.  I should do more.
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Aside from planning upcoming projects, I've been hard at work getting classroom projects ready, too.  Here is my latest unit, hot off the presses - Snow Much Fun!  It's a language arts unit that incorporates science and art!

There are 2 art projects, quite a few writing projects, a literacy center with compound words, symmetry and alike/different practice, literature links, comprehension passages and questions, vocabulary, and even a poem! I'll post more about it later, but I wanted to be the first to let you know about it! :)

What projects do you have coming up?  If you make handmade gifts, what are you go-to's?
I'm linking up with Blog Hoppin' this week!  Day 1 is all about Fun & Family! 

Here is our Christmas card for this year.

That's my Mother in Law, Audrey (just turned 4), Hubby, Nate (almost 8!) and me.  We are so fortunate that my MIL has come to visit us three times in the past year - last winter break, spring break, and now Thanksgiving break.  Everytime she comes, we do something super fun as a family. One thing I love about living in Hawaii is that when our friends and family come to visit, they are on real vacation and want to do fun things that we don't normally do, like see luaus and go sight seeing.  Every time someone comes to visit, it's like I get to be on vacation, too! 

But even though I love spending time with my fam, I know that I do not do such a good job of making them a priority.  You know that little thing called "work/life balance"?  Ya, me neither.  I am always doing stuff for school, my blog, TpT, hanging out on FB.  It's hard to put the computer down and go live.  I am a multitasker by nature and feel that I can do anything with my phone or computer right next to me.  But I know I can't.  2014 is going to bring some big changes, people.

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So, I vow to find more balance in my life.  I'm joining the online group with Ali Edwards (a fellow Oregonian - woot woot!) and choosing a One Little Word for 2014 - balance.

I vow to find balance in my life - even though I want to, I can't do it all.  That's a hard reality for me to accept.  
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I will find balance at work.  I strive to be the best teacher I can.  To plan the best units to teach my standards, all while making sure my students are having fun.  However, I can't do it all.  If I don't stop trying to do it all soon, I am going to crash and burn.  I need more balance at work. 

I want to find more balance with my family.  Spending quality time together and doing things that we all enjoy, such as going to the beach, playing games, doing more art projects.  I can still do the things I like all while spending time with my family.  That is going to mean less time online.  I can find this balance. 

I can also find more time to do things that I want to do, such as sewing (I haven't done this in FOREVER!) and scuba diving.  I live in one of the most amazing places in the world to scuba.  I need to do this more often and explore more of my home.  By finding balance in my life, I can make more time to do the things that make me happy.

So what do you plan to do in 2014 that is either fun or for your family?  Do you have a One Little Word, too? 

Make sure to hop on over to my Facebook page - a group of friends and I made special Fan Only Freebies just for our followers!  I have 2 New Years specific freebies for you!