One organized room coming up…

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cover for room pics

Even with all of my good intentions, my therapy room always has at least one stack of things to file, do, make, or read. Or one of all of the above. Never-the-less, it is important to me that I begin the year as neatly organized as possible. I am so fortunate to have a spacious and comfortable space in our school! Believe me, I know how fortunate I am to have a room with various zones for us to work. Over the years, I have been assigned rooms such as the back office of a conference room, tutor rooms, a shared nurse’s office, a janitor’s closet, and probably my all-time “favorite”…the coach’s office overlooking the middle school gym and shared with the psychologist. I can still hear the basketballs bouncing in my nightmares! It probably goes without saying – I learned how to advocate for my students very quickly! My current room used to belong to our classes for students with Autism, however when our school expanded, they moved to a proper sized classroom and this space opened up for my students. Not a week goes by that I don’t remind my administrators how important this space is for my students and how I utilize every inch!!

Here is a little tour…







I hope you enjoyed the tour!  Are you inspired by something you see?

These are all FREEBIES!!!

Memory Strategies & Visual Cues – The ones on my board are my original set.  I later made a set to share as a freebie, so they will look different.

Hand sanitizer labels – Various styles and sizes

Common Core vocabulary – I chose to print these color coded based on the lists by grade level.  It helps me to know which grade level has these explicitly taught in their curriculum.  However, I don’t restrict myself to that.  If i am using that vocabulary or teaching that skill – I pull the cards no matter what grade!

Goodbye Rhymes – My kids love these!!!  There are some general ones (animals) but also several groups of thematic rhymes (holidays, seasons, Dr. Seuss).  I use them for exit tickets.  We choose one as we leave and practice all the way back to class and then they use it for a final farewell.

Also, here are the links to some items displayed that I purchased from other SLPs: 

Speechopoly – Sublime Speech: I use this as an intro conversational tool to talk with students about “what we do in this class”.  I have also used it as a behavioral reward system.  I printed mine smaller, but it can be used to make a 4×45 bulletin board.  She explains how she uses it in her room here.

Cycles for Phonology toolkit – Speech Musings: The labels are part of the set.  She also shares the name of the storage system, which I purchased and loved!  I then bought a 2nd and made artic labels (not pictured) to store all of my Super Duper and miscellaneous speech cards.  She explains her toolkit in detail here.  I just started using it in the Spring and i found it very helpful.

Photo of the Week – Super Power Speech: I adore this set.  I use it in several ways (she has coordinating worksheets that are leveled for language and include speech and social).  I use photographs from this set for my “close thinking” board.  You can also use pictures from newspapers and various photographs.  See it in more detail here.

Inferencing for a Year – The Speech Bubble SLP: I use this with some groups as part of our routine.  As they become familiar with the routine, we are able to do it as a warm up to our main lesson.  I chose to print them on colored paper and display then in the pocket chart.  Find more details on how she uses them for a bulletin board here.  Day 1 we read through the clues together and try to guess the thematic item. We turn over the picture to see if we guessed right.  Then on Day 2, we use the same structure to describe the item.  I found the little magnifying glasses at Party City for maybe 15 cents each and the pocket charts at my second home (Target’s dollar section).

Have a wonderful start to the school year!!!!

emily blue

Countdown to the Summer Games

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Happy Summer everyone!  I am trying to savor the last few weeks of no alarm clock and not really knowing what day of the week it is.  We have been enjoying our lazy mornings and days at the pool.  In my house we are getting pumped about the Summer Olympics starting later this week.  I love sharing the nostalgia of past Olympic heroics with my kids as we watch new accomplishments and make memories together.  I am always amazed at the level of determination these athletes display and am touched by the sacrifices made by their family in order for them to live out a dream.  Go Team USA!!


Using an Olympics theme to teach is really fun because it naturally leads into conversations about perseverance, determination, hard work, setting goals, working through disappointment, and success.  I always find it fun to introduce unfamiliar vocabulary into units to help students expand their base of knowledge…judo, badminton, fencing, and dressage will be so interesting to learn more about.  The Summer Games: Language Style is jam-packed with summer sports vocabulary to teach skills of categorization, describing, and comparing and contrasting as well as thematic multiple meaning words and idioms.  Summer games cover

Summer games 1 Summer games 2 Summer games 3


For students focusing on articulation sounds, this FREEBIE is a fun way to practice skills of sorting by beginning, medial, and final placement while practicing speech placement.

Gold medal Summer cover


Gold medal Winter 2

Word lists target 5 different sets of sounds

Gold medal Winter 1

Have fun with magic reveals or writing & coloring


Follow the Clues: The Summer Games promotes descriptive language skills, social interaction with questioning and answers between peers, and expanding sentence structure.  Students will describe sports and items related to the Summer Games.

FTC summer games cover FTC summer games 1 FTC summer games 2 FTC summer games 3

I hope you are enjoying your Summer days and have fun watching the Summer Games!

emily blue


Happy Birthday Sale!

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happy birthday to me

It’s my birthday today!!  Which means that today is all about making me happy.  And one thing that makes me so happy is a sale!  And cupcakes.  And cupcakes on sale! Since I can’t share birthday cupcakes with all of you, let’s share a sale instead!  Check out my store for 20% off everything – today only, March 8.

happy birthday sale


Maybe you could use some Functional Communication Song & Story boards (individual months or by season or in a mega bundle)…

song boards red hen

bear more

story board brown bear i have who has

Or maybe you are looking for some March Madness materials (three individual packets or they are also grouped together in a bundle) …

march madness tou

March Madness: Articulation Brackets

Introduction to Multiple Meaning words

March Madness: Crazy for Language

Follow clues bball 1

Follow the Clues: Basketball


How about Would You Rather Questions…

Using "Would You Rather" for questioning, conversation, and to answer WHY

“Would You Rather” St. Patrick’s day

Would You Rather: Spring

Would You Rather: Spring


You can get ready for Spring with some of these materials…

Book companion combos

Book companion combo

Follow the Clues: Spring

Follow the Clues: Spring


Don’t forget to check out my FREEBIES like this St. Patrick’s Day activity

Some students needed visual answer choices.

Follow the Clues…St. Patrick’s Day

or this Earth Day FREEBIE

Earth Day definition sort

I Love My Earth: Multiple Meaning Words


I hope you find something useful that will save you time and bring happiness to your therapy room!  Don’t forget to sing happy birthday while you finding some new therapy materials :)

emily logo


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I am excited to share this book companion for the #MarchSLPMustHave!  Last year I used Judy Blume’s Freckle Juice for my first novel study in speech/language therapy.  It was new territory for me to use such a lengthy story in my small little moments of time with students.  I was worried about getting started with something that I wouldn’t have time to finish.  It turned out to be so successful!  We worked on vocabulary and comprehension one chapter at a time, then worked on many other literacy/language skills like characters, visualizing, comparing/contrasting, summarizing, sequencing, and predicting.  My students were begging for more. After some extensive searching, I chose Judy Blume’s The One in the Middle is a Green Kangaroo.

GK cover

If you have used the Freckle Juice packet, you will see that this story companion uses the same framework to structure the lessons.  I put a lot of thought into this format, and the familiarity across stories helps my students with the new content.

GK preview pg 1

GK preview pg 2GK preview pg 3

I am using this packet with many different levels, both in my therapy room and in a 3rd grade push-in class.  For the most part, I use the packet in it’s entirety with each student.  But the beauty of having so many skills addressed in one packet is that I can pick and choose the target skills for each student or group.  One group doesn’t need to work on categories at all, so I just omitted that piece.

GK vocab application


There are also differentiated formats for expression throughout – drawing, writing, using pictures.  When I was in the 3rd grade classroom, we were all working together on the applied vocabulary page.

GK dictation


Two students were writing their responses independently while I was dictating to scribe another student’s response.  Because he was at that stage where I am really modeling the responses for him and guiding him through the procedure, I chose to use a reusable format instead of copying a separate packet.  I slipped the paper in a plastic cover sheet and used a dry erase marker (saved some paper this way).

If you would like to explore chapter books with your speech/language students, check out The One in the Middle is the Green Kangaroo.  On 3/7/16 only it will be half price!

emily logo

Welcome MARCH!

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March is here!  I love the month of March for so many reasons, not the least of which is my birthday!!  March also brings warmer sunshine, blooming flowers, a sneaky little leprechaun, and March Madness…oh how we love March Madness in my therapy room! The basketball hoop is set up and ready to reinforce good effort! March also brings me so much more inspiration for thematic therapy plans.  January and February always feel a little daunting with the holidays/events piling up around each other on the calendar and I need to plug in the holes with thoughtful instruction.  I tend to pick and choose different lessons each year depending on the current needs/interests of my students.  I do like that variety.  This year, I plugged in those holes with some great ideas/materials from other therapists.  Through blogs, instagram, and TPT, we all have marvelous accessibility to the strategies and ideas of other SLPs! No need to sail this ship solo!

One of the new strategies I tried was from Speech Time Fun’s post about POQ (parts of question).  I have been working with several students on expanding sentence structure to comment and answer questions.  We use all kinds of visual (color cubes, written words, highlighted lines) and tactile cues (tapping arm from shoulder down to hand).  Her explanation of the idea to color code what stays and what goes had been a missing piece for me.

As I asked the question, I wrote it in red and green. When the student answered, I added the response in yellow.

As I asked the question, I wrote it in red and green. When the student answered, I added the response in yellow. (I did have to add “is” and modeled the response).  We repeated this structure replacing “sheep” with other animals and food.  The familiar structure was helpful through repetitions.

Not only is this helping my students working on expanding expression, but this is helping many students organize their responses to questions in their writing.

As we practiced more, we were able to expand the sentnece structure. In this example, he answered a one word reply "house". The visual color coding helped him identify my question and then all the words required for his response.

As we practiced more, we were able to expand the sentence structure. In this example, he answered a one word reply “house”. The visual color coding helped him identify my question and then all the words required for his response.  We repeated each question/response several times.

I was able to immediately teach this just using markers and a white board.  My plan moving forward is to create some story/lesson specific questions using color coded cards to have a few pre-planned materials.  They beauty of this strategy though is that once you have taught the principle, you can incorporate it on the spot!  Please check out her post and video that explain this very useful strategy!  Thanks Speech Time Fun!!


dr-seuss combo

I also love the transition from February to March because it means Dr. Seuss is in the air! Everywhere!  Every year I realize that even though I have a ton of his books, I need more!! (I can’t believe I don’t own Wacky Wednesday!)  The primary targets were categories, sight words, articulation, descriptive language, following directions, and expanding sentences.  And of course, being silly and having fun!

Keep an eye on my store this week…On March 7th I will choose a product that will be 50% off for the #MarchSLPmusthave sale.  Tuesday March 8th is my birthday and since I can’t share birthday cupcakes with everyone, I thought the next best thing would be throwing a birthday sale!


emily logo

Text Dependent Questions and the SLP

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TDQ and the SLP


Oh man, my mind is exploding with information on close reading, text complexity, and text dependent questions!  In my 16 years working as a school-based SLP, I have learned so much about applying language into an academic context.  All along I have observed that there are a lot of parallels with how I teach articulation skills and early reading instruction.

Lately, I have been a part of a school team diving deep into the instructional practices of close reading.  And I do mean deep!  We did a book study using Fisher & Frey’s TDQ: Pathways to Close and Critical Reading.  At first I was worried that I would be out of place on this team, but then I quickly realized that somewhere in the midst of the close reading gurus, there must be an SLP!  It is centered around learning with a deep understanding, making connections, exploring vocabulary, and applying knowledge.  I have used some of these techniques with my language students (more to come on that – with photos!).

At the same time that I was taking in all of this knowledge about close reading, I kept hearing teachers talk about text dependent questions.  These are used in ongoing reading assessments and students now need to be able to answer questions in a way that demonstrates their knowledge with supporting details…much more expansive than basic WH- questions about the text.  My language instruction is focusing on concepts and vocabulary that tie in to these expectations: explain, compare, describe, support with details, predict, summarize, relate, apply.  All skills I have taught before, but now I have a greater understanding of classroom expectations and application.

Image result for text dependent questions meme

I push into a third grade literacy class this year and the teacher was ready to do a novel study.  She showed me a list of literacy skills to address…it is amazing how much of this list are really language concepts/skills!  We split the class in half and each chose a novel to work on these concepts.  Freckle Juice was in the reading level range for my group (grade 3.6, level M).  I selected this one because I already had a base of materials to work with and *amazingly* none of the children had read it before! When I was organizing my materials, though, I started to worry that I didn’t have enough grade level material.  The packet was useful for my language kiddos that needed the extra support and visual structure, but could it stand up to the test of a real, live 3rd grade class?  Turns out, yes!  We worked together throughout the whole packet on expanding, explaining, and applying.


I also added several components in to my existing Freckle Juice Packet.  These include

  • a writing prompt for character
  • a writing prompt for sequencing
  • a novel contract for organization (students worked with me two days a week and independently for three so I needed to keep them on track)
  • chapter thoughts – text dependent questions that took their thought process to another level.  It also gave me a differentiated set of questions to work with.  Now I have a set of more literal WH questions and a set that requires more application of concepts. I used both with my 3rd grade class, but you could also use one or the other depending on how you needed to differentiate.

FJ questions in book

If you are also looking for ways to connect your language lessons with classroom expectations, you can check out the Freckle Juice packet here.  You can read more about my process in creating it here (with pictures).

emily blue


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keep pounding door sign

Oh my, the City of Charlotte is jumping with excitement over the Panthers at the Super Bowl!  This has been such a fun season of football!  I know, I know, winning has a way of making things fun.  But seriously, this team has been fun to watch.  This city has never danced so much! And these players are full of inspiration.  They have overcome obstacles of serious injuries, family trauma, and car accidents. They are so present in our community too, participating in and hosting fundraisers for a variety of needs…not just in the off season either…right in the middle of their regular work week.  When we moved here 16 years ago, the Panthers became my team and will be through thick and thin.  This year is special and I love being able to feed off of the kids’ excitement and have instant buy-in for vocabulary and concept lessons.

keep pounding door


Every Monday after a game, our students have been colored in black & blue jerseys, hats, and scarves.  And we have had jeans Monday after a win…which has been incredible this year!  (My principal totally knows how to motivate us!  He just says the word jeans and we are all ears!!) This week we our having a door-decorating contest, which is really fun.  I’ve gotten so into this, you would think the prize was a ticket to the big game! My students and I are just so excited to show our panther pride.

keep pounding rubric

And you know that a contest has been organized by teachers when a rubric has been provided for judging!  haha!  I’ve still got some student work to add to the bottom…that is still a work in progress this week :)

Go team cover


I am excited to share some of the activities we have been working on.  This is a neutral activity that can be customized with your own team colors (although I believe blue and black are beautiful!).  The themes are perseverance and football merged together.

keep pounding

Right now in therapy we are talking a lot about the character trait of perseverance.  There are many examples from athletes (such as Thomas Davis breaking his arm last week and playing in the Super Bowl this Sunday!!) but we are also making connections to ourselves.  Our theme this week is to #KeepPounding.

Go team vocabulary

Go team writing frames

Go team idioms

I would love to hear ways that you incorporate character traits and coordinating vocabulary into your therapy.  You can read more about the “Go Team” lesson here.  Enjoy the Super Bowl and commercials!  Here’s hoping I have a reason for jeans Monday :)

emily teal




“Trash it, Replace it”

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A new year, a new me, a new determination.  I wish I had a dollar for every post I have written in my mind over the past several months.  There have been some magical things going on with my students…unfortunately there has just been SO much going on in my life to actually transfer things to the blog.  But if you can appreciate quality over quantity, then you are in the right place :)

I will trash

Don’t you love it when you try something on a whim and it works! Don’t get me wrong, I need my perfectly planned, laminated, well thought-out thematic units.  But I always get so excited when I do something with my SLP instincts and it is successful.  I am working with several students on pragmatic language skills, specifically controlling their emotional reactions.  Kids, in general, are very good at saying what is on their mind.  SLPs, parents, teachers…we could write a book, right?  Sometimes my students are saying the right thing, but are delivering it way over the top.  Other times, they need to replace the words or behaviors with more appropriate actions.

I will trash writing 1

Earlier this year, one of my dear darlings reacted to me with an impulsive, emotional response that was not going to work at school.  My immediate response was “Wow, let’s trash those words”.  And our “Trash it, Replace it” system was born.  As things are said or done that we need to replace, we write them on index cards or paper strips and trash them (this little trash bucket is from the dollar store and has been re-purposed for so many things!!).  The nice thing about this concept is that it is very portable.  I will bring their trash can with me if I get called to the classroom for support.  Sometimes, however, I am coming from another location or we are transitioning in the hallway.  Just having the verbiage “Let’s trash that” and “How can we replace that” is a useful tool that has made a big difference, especially when outside the therapy room.  Initially, this was a stand alone lesson.  Now that students are used to it, we can quickly embed it into any activity as the need arises, and then move on.

I will trash cumulative list




I loved giving the kids a chance to physically trash the actions or words.  Like so many things, we needed an additional visual, especially for the ‘repeat offenders’ of words or actions that didn’t stay trashed.  So we made a poster using preferred characters and made a poster that we can reference and add to when necessary.

I will trash writing 2

I modified this slightly for another student.  We make individual story sheets that go in a folder kept in her classroom.  It kind of serves as a social story type reference.  I think it is important to also highlight the positive choices made, so those are also in the rotation (not pictured).    It is key for students (and teachers, SLPs, parents) to understand why the behavior happened.

I will trash writing i can

In this case, impulsive actions were because of birthday excitement…that is critical to identify because it means they were happy intentions, not cruel.  So we can take that energy and channel it in different ways.

I’d love to hear ways that you implement replacement behaviors with your students!

emily purple


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#SeptSLPMustHave is a one day, one item 50% off sale held on the seventh of each month. Take advantage of this money saving sale today only!  For my #SeptSLPMustHave, I bring you one of my personal absolutely must haves: the FALL-bundle of functional communication song & story boards (includes September, October, November).

#SeptSLPMustHave Functional Communication Song & Story Boa
This is a packet for teachers, therapists, and parents looking for tools to make songs and stories more accessible for functional communicators. The repetition within the formatting across the months allows for students to become familiar with communication tasks such as labeling, identifying, requesting, sorting, choice making, sequencing, questioning and peer interactions. The content changes, however, to introduce thematic and functional vocabulary. Concepts that are addressed include size, colors, numbers, body parts, actions, and vocabulary (people, food, nature, clothes, school supplies, sports). The song boards and story boards were designed to be laminated and used with velcro in order to make the communication tasks more interactive. Each month is jam-packed with 2 song boards, 3 story boards, plus supplemental cards for sorting, counting, actions and “I have, Who has” games.

–The materials are mostly THEMATIC to the time of year.
–Everything is designed to be INTERACTIVE with our trusty friend, velcro!
–FUNCTIONAL vocabulary and concepts include counting, colors, shapes, animals, food, clothing, days of the week, transportation, holidays, seasons, and actions.
–Favorite songs and stories are ACCESSIBLE to our students with limited verbal speech.
–LITERACY-BASED LANGUAGE INSTRUCTION targets meaningful concepts like sequencing, sorting, identifying, labeling, requesting, choice-making, questioning, and peer interaction.
–Over the course of the four seasons, students will experience REPETITION of targeted communication skills without having to repeat the exact story, song, or activity.
–“I have, Who has” games teach turn-taking, patience, questioning, and game skills within STRUCTURED peer interaction.


song board month icons
Song & Story boards included in this FALL-bundle:

Wheels on the Bus; Y-E-L-L-O-W; If You Take a Mouse to School; There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Books; The Wheels on the School Bus

sep4 sep3 sep2
Spider on the Floor; O-R-A-N-G-E; Apples & Pumpkins; Old Lady Swallowed a Bat; Little Old Lady Not Afraid of Anything

oct4 oct3 oct2
If You’re Happy & You Know It; B-R-O-W-N; Giving Thanks; Old Lady Swallowed a Pie; Bear Says Thanks

nov4 nov3 nov2

Be sure to check out TpT on the 7th of each month for more #SLPmusthaves!

Emily green

Growing a garden of marigolds and other new school year advice

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title advice

I have always loved this time of year! I treat Back-to-school like a holiday just as worthy of celebration as all of my other favorites (like Halloween)! A fresh pack of post-it notes and new flair pens can make me one happy lady! While I am energized with the excitement of new office supplies, an organized calendar, and a new set of goals to accomplish I also recognize that it can be an exhausting and overwhelming time of year as we get to know new students, families, teammates, and changing procedures. One of my former student interns is starting her first job this school year. As I was sharing thoughts and advice with her, I starting reflecting on my journey as an SLP. What would I love to go back and tell myself 16 years ago? What is critical to how I operate now as a “seasoned” SLP? You know, the kind of advice that isn’t really skill specific to our job and is definitely not found in graduate school text books.


title marigoldsFirst, make sure you grow yourself a garden of marigolds. I read this amazing advice from Cult of Pedagogy which helps me frame my actions and thought process in a positive manner.  She explains that in gardening, the marigold is an excellent companion plant to most plants and vegetables, protecting them from pests and harmful weeds that can otherwise takeover the space and nutrients. Quite the opposite is the walnut tree that can deplete nutrients and can be quite toxic.  Her article is definitely worth reading and sharing with new and experienced teachers alike.  She challenges new educators to seek out the marigolds that will help to find a solution instead of dwelling on the negative.  I would challenge all of us (new and experienced) to present ourselves as marigolds and to recognize when the walnut seeds are dropping by our garden.  A perfect example of this happened during my first staff meeting this year.  I was assigned rotating morning duty of both carpool and cafeteria duty.  I grumbled internally but made great efforts to smile in spite of having a not-so-desirable assignment.  Knowing that the counselor was on cafeteria duty last year, I asked her about the role of this duty.  Her response immediately triggered a positive response as she explained that she really liked the opportunity to check in with kids and give them a good start to the day.  It also gave her a chance to look for patterns of eating and behavior that might clue her in to other issues or problems.  She changed my outlook without even knowing I needed it.  I kicked out the walnut seed that I was bringing into my own garden and decided that she was a marigold to keep near!


title librarian Make friends with the school librarian!  No matter the IEP goal, my therapy is always very literacy based.  My school librarian has been instrumental in helping me find literature and authors to connect to my units or goals.  I can go to her with a child, grade level, or skill and she will pull books specific to the topic I am teaching that is leveled appropriately. Sometimes I know what I am looking for, but quite often I go to her for ideas.  Her brain is like a card catalog and she knows exactly which shelf and corner of the library to find each book – amazing!


title portfolio

Develop a portfolio.  This is actually something I started my first year because I was worried about how my performance evaluation would look when my administrators barely stepped in my room.  If they weren’t observing the obvious, how would they ever know the behind the scenes work I completed as part of my role?   After my first two years, I have been fortunate enough to have administrators who really care about knowing my job role. They have been appreciative of the portfolio and will reference it when they are writing my evaluation review.  I’ve continued this portfolio process every year and have found it very helpful!  Plus, it keeps me organized.  And an organized me makes me very happy!


title one step

Take things on one step at a time.  Don’t try to roll out new procedures all at once.  If you have an idea for student folders, parent communication, reward systems, teacher feedback, co-teaching therapy techniques, etc…try it out with a small sample first.  Figure out what works and what you would change then expand it to other groups.  One approach will not fit all, so it is okay to have different methods in your toolbox.


title awesome

Find your inspiration.  What makes you giggle, inspires you, or helps to add a little pep to your step?  I like to turn to music – anyone who looks at my playlist would probably be very confused because there is such a range of artistic styles!  I have Broadway tunes, hip-hop, country, and everything in between. My very favorite song to pump me up before a stressful IEP meeting or a chaotic day is Alicia Keys’ “This Girl is on Fire”.  I also like humor to recenter my focus.  Jimmy Fallon is my go-to when I need a little laugh.  He helps me remember to laugh at myself every once in a while and not be so hard on myself! With my students, I use quotes from books, favorite characters, and video clips to keep an inspired outlook.  One of my favorite sources is Kid President.  With a tagline like “Don’t be in a party.  Be the party!”, he’s certainly got my vote! When I learned a little more about the obstacles he has overcome in life, his positive outlook inspired me even more!

This is certainly not an all-inclusive list!  What lessons have you learned over time?  I hope you have a great school year…let’s make the world awesome!

emily blue