Explaining my First Painting of Paris | An American in Paris 2016

I made this video explaining the scene of my First Paris painting…

Over the holiday I got to read the coolest book on Paris!

An incredible historic tome of only 792 pages I think of which I managed to power through close to 550 of … and so my trip all came back to me!

I truly feel like an artist! An artist who paints the artists of Paris!

Election Day and Jeannette Rankin


If you want to read my book about one of my biggest inspirations and heroines  Jeannette Rankin just click here.


Women in Congress

Watching the news this morning I am so inspired by all the women who were elected to Congress this morning. So it reminded me of the first woman ever elected to Congress in U.S. history back in 1916, from Montana Jeannette Rankin.


My favorite quote from her is “Wouldn’t it be a shame if we died knowing we didn’t do everything in our power to promote world peace?”

MSLAPeaceSign copy

I’m hoping Missoula is going to pull through for us and our Senator Jon Tester will remain our representative in Montana.

Go Blue #bluewave


I still want to do one about Denise Juneau who was our superintendent of schools here in Montana. What I was encouraged by was the high percentage of votes the women who won won by. high 60%s and 70% that is fantastic! I mean this girl a rockstar millennial I might add won by 78%! Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez 78%! Now that’s what I am talking about!

Record Number of Women ~ According to the Washington Post.

“There will be a record number of women in Congress next year. The House could have close to 100 women, most of them Democrats who decided to run for public office in response to Trump’s election. The new Democratic caucus will include the first Native American women, the first Muslim women and the youngest woman, who is also Latina, ever elected to Congress.”

USA Today has a nice list of these new candidates.

Are there any candidates you would like to read a children’s book about? I love to create biographies.

Paris comes to life

I love adding illustrations to my Paris memory book! Each one brings back tons of memories I can remember each day as clear as if it was yesterday.

Landing in Paris

Getting ready to explore

Leaving my apartment

The first of many flower boxes

Lost my first twenty minutes out

My first views of Paris

My neighborhood

The flowerman by my apartment

La Place du tetre

Do u like seeing my paintings in different stages as they unfold? It’s fun for me to see the changes.

Follow me on Facebook to see videos like this!

So here are some videos of my work I posted on Facebook this summer.


I thought I should share them here. This video starts out talking about my avatar which I have been thinking about a lot.

I’ve decided she just turned 9 so leaving third grade going into fourth, loves learning, learning anything, reading, writing, science, music, games, you name it, she loves it! She always has a backpack with a book, a journal or sketchbook, some markers or colored pencils and usually has a dog at her feet.

But you can also see my christmas card I made that shows my journey over the Continental Divide which I made over 400 times. If you follow me on Facebook you could probably see some videos of those hairy drives as well.

I think there are also paintings at the end of my Sunflakes paintings. I feel like that book is taking forever! But I also love to look at the paintings every time I take them out.

Here’s a book Mike and I are working on called a Parade of Elephants.

and last but not least the Green Queen!

now that’s a trip down memory lane!

Thanks for visiting!

Levi Bear Goes To School Kickstarter Campaign Launched

East Glacier School

You can help get this project off the ground by supporting my kickstarter campaign here!

Here’s the storyline:

Levi bear lived in Glacier National Park in Montana with his mother and siblings. Levi bear was just like any other bear.

Bear Grass Notecard
He picked huckleberries with his mom on the mountainside.

Levi Bear Picks Hucks
He swam in the lake on the hot summer days.


He wrestled with his brother and sister.

IMG_0037.jpgBut Levi bear wanted to go to school. Everyday he watched the little boys and girls ride the bus into the little town and he would see them play in the playground. Sometimes he would even sneak down and peak in the classrooms.


The little boys and girls always looked like they were having so much fun!

IMG_2966He wanted to play in the sand table and write on the big white boards with the magic markers that erased away with the soft black blocks.

He wanted to press the buttons on the little tablets and laugh like the boys would all in a group playing a game.


He wanted to sit at the computer and play the math games.

He wanted to stand up in a line and do the alphabet chant, complete a puzzle on the carpet with a friend and paint at the easel with red, yellow and brown!

On March 8th, the students from the East Glacier school went on a field trip to the Park to go snow-shoeing with the Rangers from the Park Service. The bears watched from the woods, peaking out behind the trees as the boys and girls ran around with the big rackets attached to their feet, learning about habitats, and animal tracks. They laughed and built snowmen, they tripped and fell over the big feet, and they ran around while they learned about the forest.


When the boys and girls left the bears explored the playground the kids had enjoyed! Levi’s sister Rachel found a small red glove lying in the snow.

“We must return it,” Levi said.

That night when there was a full moon out, Levi woke his sister and brother up. He whispered to them with his hand over his lips to follow him. When he told him his plan they said yeah lets get our friends. So they went to Levi’s sisters best friends cave and snuck her out and to his brother’s friends den and dug him out and together the six friends went to the school. When they got to the gate they were a little scared.


Sunshine, Levi’s sister’s friend said, “I’m not scared.” but she went and sat on the swing and started to pump her legs.


Soon they were all playing on the playground, climbing on the monkey bars, swooshing down the slide and bouncing up and down on the teeter- totter.

East Glacier Bear school bears on slide

When they had laughed and played so hard they couldn’t breathe Levi snuck over to the window and peaked in the window. Soon all the bears were lined up along the window sill. Just then one of the windows swung open.

The bears climbed in the classroom slowly one at a time.


Summer and Levi’s sister Chelsea ran to the science table and started to play with the magnet set and examine the plants with the magnifying glass.

Levi and Robert bear went to the books and started turning pages. They couldn’t believe all the things they saw! Pigs flying in the air, dinosaurs hugging their human moms and dads, flowers growing out of peoples heads, small pirates in boats riding over giant waves! It was exciting! Levis brother and friend had built a giant block tower. Then suddenly it cam crashing down in a loud crash!!

The bears all jumped but then they all laughed. They laughed so hard they all fell over on the floor and Levi bear read them all a book. Then he pretended to be the teacher and pointed to all the numbers on the calendar. He went through the weather report and had them clap and count to 100 like he saw the boys and girls do during the day.

Soon the sun started to peak over the horizon. The bears thought we better get out of here! Rachel gently put the glove on a student’s desk.

They looked around the classroom one more time, and climbed out the window. Levi put an apple on the teachers desk before he crawled out behind the others. The bears quickly snuck back to their homes before either parents got up and crawled into their lairs falling fast asleep for the winter.

When the teacher and children came to school that day they scratched their heads as they looked around the room in wonder.





Picture Book Summit – Creating the Storyboard

Here’s where I started the storybook back in 2016. I would love to finish this project this summer. Of course everything in it’s own time. I just came up with the Montana Bear School video idea last year when I was teaching!



You can help get this project off the ground by supporting my kickstarter campaign here!


Why Montana Bear School? | Learn to Read | Common Core Standards Love

How many people have asked me this these last few days. Why Montana Bear School? What is Montana Bear School?

Here’s what it says on my why page:

Teaching Experience


I have worked as a teacher in numerous classrooms from pre-k at Head Start through 2nd grade in the elementary schools over the last 10 years. I’ve taught over 500 students since 2003. My favorite part of teaching is watching a student have an ahah moment when all of a sudden they master a skill that they have been struggling with whether it’s writing their name, counting change, or reading a script in a play the delight in a child’s eyes when they learn something new is exhilarating! 

My Elementary Education

When I went back to school I thought it should be fun! My elementary teachers were amazing and school was delightful! My third grade teacher Mrs. Chaplin taught me how to do puppets. Mrs. Tiernan who I had for both 1st and 2nd amazed me when she would play the piano and we would sing or play the recorder! I loved everything from reading and writing to kickball! I can still practically remember our bus route!

Montana Bear School

Montana Bear School is a combination response to the questions parents have asked me over the years about what they could do to help their child succeed in school and things I want my students to know. I hope that by watching the videos students will say, I want to try and parents will do the activities at home with their child. 

Subscribe here to be notified when Bear School is ready!

Check out our youtube channel while you wait!


Lesson Plan Designs

One of my favorite parts of teaching is coming up with lesson plans. Having the common core standards to teach is a great way for me to make sure my students are gaining the skills they need to succeed in life in a logical order. It also allows me a certain freedom to develop lessons that I know will help my students understand the basics.


How to Love Math


I loved math all through my life and I’m sure this is because I have a strong foundation of quantities. I love to do problem solving, think about numbers in different combinations and working with objects to build understandings. I’m the kind of kid who could sit up until midnight figuring out a math problem cause I couldn’t sleep until I found the answer. I’ve played thousands of games of monopoly and yatzhee!

Awaken the Giant Within?

So yesterday as i was driving around Babb and yet again over the terrifying Logan’s Pass on Glacier’s Going-to-the-Sun road I was listening to Tony Robbins on


audible logo

I don’t understand why do i seem to be the only one practically hyperventilating? and I’m on the inside lane. I cld never drive over the edge side. Maybe in a low to the ground car.

If you don’t already know I’m terrified of heights so for the last 3 summers I’ve been taken the shuttle over the pass to build up my confidence. It hasn’t helped being way up high in my pickup although deep down i dream of being a jammer… or even a shuttle driver bc they’re more likely to talk to hikers…

And i do LOVE the old blue❤️pickup


Anyway while I’m driving Im listening to Tony Robbin’s audio book

Tony Robbins Awaken the Giant Within : How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny!

Awaken the Giant Within : How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny!

and he’s going on about reaching out for the biggest thing you can think of and all i can think is end war- make it obsolete.

My version of that looks something like this:

  • Healthy nutritious food and water are provided to all humans
  • All countries support the ICC (International Criminal Court – I mean we all get along in the US no ones worried NJ’s gonna attack Texas)
  • All people have access to a quality education starting in pre-school through college. College is free provided grades are kept to a B avg or above.

In the meantime I’ll work on what i can to help anyone who has access to the internet can learn to read and calculate! Today I came home and made another dozen videos for Montana Bear School and put together some of the pages. It’s a big project but it’s also lots of fun.




I have also been painting on my story Levi Bear about the little bear who want’s to go to the East Glacier School which is part of where this whole idea came from!East Glacier Park School

Back my kicktstarter campaign to bring Montana Bear School and the Book Levi Bear Goes to School to life! 

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

Starting School with Confidence | 8 Things I Wish Every Kindergarten Parent Would Know

Is your child starting kindergarten this year?

Listen Here

Kindergarten is very different then it was when I was student teaching just back in 2003! It’s much more like first grade then when we were kids. None of this is set in stone, every school district is different and every student moves at a different pace but these are some things I have noticed over the years will help a child enter kindergarten with confidence.
Many students will pick up these skills as they go but many will never get the chance to play with blocks, explore with paint, or develop a love of creativity in their early childhood classroom in today’s modern world of education.

Model and Lead Don’t Test or Create Pressure

One important note between introducing your child to concepts and testing them. As your child’s first teacher you should always be modeling and leading. These skills should come in an enjoyable, low pressure environment. As a parent your job is to help your students feel comfortable around letters and numbers.

Be careful not to create stress anxiety by expecting them to remember all or even any letter sounds. But helping them learn the names of the different letters and practicing saying them is the best pre-reading practice you can give your child. Some children may need to hear a letter sound 700 times, no exaggeration, others will get it after just a few. Many need 70 repetitions before they are confident with each phoneme represented by the 26 letters of the alphabet.

1. Just because your child knows how to sing the alphabet song doesn’t mean they know the alphabet…

Begin with the letters in their names.

Write the alphabet on a piece of paper and have your child point to the letters in their own name.
MT Bear School

Click on image to see video

Start with their first name and then learn their last name too. They might want to find the letters in your name or mom or dad, siblings etc. This is fantastic. But get them to start learning the letters in random order.

Letter Sounds.

Students should also recognize that letters have a name and a sound. I think the most confusing thing to any child is that s makes the sound sss, and most of the time c sounds like a k! How many words sound like city, circle or cereal? Why doesn’t sort or sink, or September start with a c? Why do candy, color, or counter not start with k? It actually amazes me how fast they pick it up!
If you have magnets on your fridge and you’re having an apple for snack, help them   find the letter that makes the sound a. If you’re making dinner point out the letter d and talk about dinner starting with the sound d. If you’re having ice cream for dessert, point out the i and the c. Recognizing the beginning sound of words is the essence of phonics.
They will learn all of this in kindergarten but it is helpful to have it reinforced at home.

2. Your child should know how to write their own name.

Name Writing at MT Bear School Link
But this is pretty easy to teach most 5 years olds inside of a week. They love to write their name! Start by having them trace it and before long they will be writing on their own.
You can write their name with a pencil and let them trace the letters with a marker, you can write with the marker and let them trace it with a pencil, or you can make stencils.
Many times I have just written the letters with small dots by hand, but you can also download tracing fonts for free very easily. Most schools use D’Nealian script because it blends well to cursive.
Easy free download u can type any name and it will print it for them to trace. If you have any trouble don’t hesitate to reach out to me by email , and I will type them in your child’s name and send them to you to print.
Writing in capitals is fine and easier for young hands. They will learn how to write lower case soon.
 golf penclsl for small hands
One big thing I learned at Head Start is the itty bitty pencils you get at the miniature golf course to write your score with are perfect for tiny hands. Imagine eating out of a tablespoon all the time. That’s what holding one of those oversized pencils is like for children. Having a small pencil is just right for their child sized grip.

3. Your kindergartener should be comfortable with the numbers 1-20.


They should at least be familiar with the numbers 1-20 even if they can’t say them all in order. They should be able to count their fingers up to ten and start to recognize the numbers up to 20.
Recognizing Numbers 1-20 at Montana Bear School

Recognizing numbers

Recognizing numbers counting 5 objects at Montana Bear School

One of the hardest concepts for students to learn is that 13 starts with the one and not the 3, fourteen is not written as 41… The rest of the numbers work that way, 24 starts with twenty and ends in four, ninety-five starts with a 9 and ends in 5, so why does fifteen not start with 5 and end in teen (10)? Talk about confusing!
So the more opportunities they have to count up to 20 or even 100 (especially as the year progresses) the better!

My favorite things to count that you can find around the house:

  • pennies
  • buttons
  • beans
  • cereal
  • paperclips
  • pompoms
  • small rocks
  • leaves or flower petals

Not just say the numbers in order but actually count objects. Start with 5 items, move on to 10 and then eventually get all the way to 20.


As a side note, you can’t make enough piles of 10 and count by 10s up to 100!

4. Rhyming is essential.

You can’t appreciate rhyming until you try to teach a child who doesn’t know how to rhyme. There was a lot more to nursery rhymes then I ever realized. The repetition and lull of a nursery rhyme is one of the best ways to help you child develop a love of reading and language.
Singing songs is another great way to build your child’s sense of ending sounds as many songs are written in rhyme.
Nancy Cassidy Book of Kids Songs
Some of my favorite children songs include: The Teddy Bear’s Picnic, The Monkey and the Engineer, The Fishing Blues and Mamma’s Soup Surprise.
My favorite rhyming books include:
Wild About Books Rhyming Story
Giraffes Can't Dance Rhyming Story
Any Dr. Suess
Sylvia Long Hush Little Baby
My favorite book to sing is Hush Little Baby by Sylvia Long… it just happens to fit my voice really well…
The more your child can fill in the blank or rhyming word at the end of a line the better. Many students love to chime in at the end of a rhyme or a repeating phrase!

5. Cutting, pasting, and coloring are skills they will need but not have enough time to practice.

When I worked at Head Start students had unlimited access to craft supplies everyday. They could glue endless pompoms, glitter, and buttons etc to colored paper making designs, pictures or cards for loved ones to their hearts content. They had access to paint, glue sticks, water colors, and more! They could staple, tape, and cut and repeat over and over.
We would start out with the younger ones helping them hold paper and navigate the scissors with care, but by the time they left they were confident with how to create masterpieces or booklets, or complete any tasks we assigned. When students arrive in kindergarten the amount of time they get to complete these tasks is limited each week.
When my grandkids were little each had their own “art box” to play with when they came to visit. Each shoe box covered in wrapping paper contained colored paper, pictures to cut out, stickers, a glue stick and some crayons and/or markers. I usually had glitter around the house or other odd objects they might request.

Junk Mail Clean Up

The more free time you can give your children to play with junk mail cutting, gluing pictures and creating mini-masterpieces the more confident they will be in elementary school to solve problems and develop critical thinking skills.

6. Building with blocks is a basic learning skill.

Students need to develop confidence in their ability to fix their mistakes. Building a tower seeing it tumble and doing it again is a great way to develop basic engineering skills. Students gain a strong sense of geometry as they figure out how different pieces fit together. They learn about both the positive spaces and the negative spaces and how fitting pieces correctly will help a structure become strong and solid.

First graders can create complex designs with Legos. Second graders would amaze me with what they could build with clothespins and the different structures and designs they would make with pattern blocks or connecting cubes. Balance is an essential skill we try to teach but if they don’t have practice building things in 3 d they will struggle to know what the right answer is on a Smarter Balance assessment down the road in 3rd grade.

7. Pre-Reading is essential.

Your child can already read every picture book you hand them. They do not have to read it word for word but by simply explaining to you what is going on in each picture they are developing essential pre-reading skills.
  • Predicting
  • Picture Walks
  • Cause and Effect
  • Creative story telling
are all skills students will gain by making up their own stories to go with the pictures. There are a handful of great books where there are no words and students are required to narrate the story themselves but any book will work.
Just sit back and listen and encourage your child to make up a story for each page. As they grow and listen to you read it’s fine if they tell the story back to you by memory.

8. Board Games Rock!

I feel like I can’t emphasize this enough. There’s all sorts of great skills students will learn when playing board games. Besides basic social skills like how to take turns, play fair, and be a good sport, there is a ton of counting in most games! Students will roll dice, add and subtract and get to recognize doubles in a fun environment! Cards teaches them many of the same skills as ice!

Cooperative Learning Games

Of course I’m not the best when it comes to competition and so I’d be remiss not to mention one of my favorite games called Granny’s House it’s a cooperative learning game where the goal is for everyone to make it Granny’s house with a gift. There is only one piece and its an all or one team building game where each person rolls the die but you all move together. There are obstacles along the way and players work together to solve each problem and make it to the end!

9. Read to your child.

Enjoy reading together. Read as much as you can. The more vocabulary you develop the better. You can read the cereal box, a recipe, the coupon section of the paper, street signs and store windows, food labels at the grocery store,

There’s Plenty of Time

If your child can’t do these things before they enter kindergarten don’t worry. I’m sure their teacher will help them learn many of these skills but I believe that their confidence will soar if they have these basics under their belts before they walk in the door! Wishing you a wonderful school year and don’t hesitate to reach out if you need anything! Every child is a parent’s world and helping every student feel successful is what makes me happiest!

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com