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Saturday, December 31, 2011

California Teachers: Are You Coming to This Conference?

Okay, I am willing to admit that I loved my blog meet-up so much that I am ready for another one. If you live in California and teach kindergarten I hope you plan on coming to this conference so I can meet you! Pleeeeese... How much fun would that be-right? Those of you who live in northern California just have to travel to Santa Clara. I have a daughter in San Francisco (attorney girl) and she is dying to spend more time with her mom. So for me this is a no brainer.I love to hang with kinder teachers, spend too much money on things for my classroom, see Dr. Jean and do the Tooty-Ta with her, and buy another corny kindergarten t-shirt. Heidi will be there Saturday too. I always come back re-energized but this time I want to learn more about transitional kindergarten. I want to hug the people at the state level who recognize that four year olds are not developmentally ready for a rigorous kindergarten program. Yeah! Love you guys. So are you game? Come on... I am dying to meet you and talk about blogging until you get sick of me.Find out more here.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Join Us Next Time!

So this is the whole group of women. I made them a silly little gift so they would remember this day. It was a luggage tag with their name and blog address. Yes, I  am super corny and both of my daughters had to help me put this together. I hope this is the beginning of many new friendships. We all need to meet up and celebrate each other! I think all of these blogs are wonderful so let me list them for you to check out. Some of them you might already know, but just in case:
Annie (
Kristin (
Fran (
Kerri & Lindsay (
Madison (
Gwyn (
Kathy (

If you live in Northern California I am going to the California Kindergarten Conference in Santa Clara and would love to meet you. Hello Cindy! That can't be too far from you.. I'll be there January 13th-15th. Heidi presents at this conference and Dr. Jean. These are two of my favorites so join me!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Orange County Blog Meet-Up

Well the big day finally happened thanks to Hadar (Miss Kindergarten). Some of the teacher bloggers from Orange County met up for lunch and got to spend a few hours together. These women are beautiful, smart, and really funny. I loved all of them! I am hoping to get more pictures since others were there but here are just a few for you to see. Okay, so let me give you a brief explanation of who you are looking at. Hadar is from Miss Kindergarten and she is such a warm, likable person. Next, you see Annie who is incredible, sweet and so easy to talk to. Her blog is Moffett Girls. Next are Kerri and Lindsay who are close friends and share a blog called Bits and Bobs. Lindsay just had that gorgeous baby a few months ago and his behavior was perfect! I wish Jack was in my class. Kristin is from Teeny Tiny Teacher and yes she is hilarious and adorable. Yup, she is a little bit of a thing too. Others were there too but I will let you wonder until the next post. By the way Sylvia (learning with Mrs. Parker) could not come  and my friend Cindy (kindergartenfreckleteacher). I hope there is a next time. These are amazing women. I loved them all. Thanks Hadar for getting us together. Next time- my house for lunch. No crazies (except me) in this group!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Do you teach kindergarten or primary special education? Rock Your World!

We are coming to your house in a few weeks and we are all bringing tons of goodies with us. If you are a kindergarten blog stalker, here are some of my favorite people. They area wildly creative, funny, amazing bunch of kinder teachers who have so much to share with you. This event is on January 28th and you can even watch it in your jammies! I love at home professional development. I promise  that you won't be disappointed and I am so excited to hear their ideas. I am letting my district know about this ASAP. Please join our party by signing up here.After you sign up would you mind leaving me a RSVP in my comment box. That way I can love you for all the support.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

More from our Gingerbread Day

A few people asked me about this necklace and what the end result  looked like so this is the best picture I could come up with. Most of my pictures are of the kids facing the camera and I am hesitant to put them on the blog. We played tons of math and literacy games so I have a few extra pictures. I hope everyone is on a well deserved break now and can enjoy their time off. Remember to check back if you are a kindergarten teacher to sign up for the blog expo. It should be amazing! 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Who Needs Gingerbread Jewelry?

So I wanted one more center on our Gingerbread Activity Day and this was a big hit with everyone! It was so simple but the kids loved creating their own necklace with cut up straws and pasta (teeny tiny beads). The real kicker was the center of the necklace. It was a small gingerbread man that students colored in and put their name on. I wrapped the paper strip around the paper clip and it hung in the middle. Hey, I wore mine all day and got lots of compliments. Maybe you can do this next year.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Gift From the Kindergarten Chick

This is so precious. Please take the time to go over to the Kindergarten Chick and see her little one reading a little book and doing an "I have", "who has" number activity. Amanda sent me an email this evening and I just have to show my friends this adorable post. Click here to celebrate the power of words and numbers in the world of a 3 year old. A special hug to you Amanda for sharing this.

How to Dye Pasta Chef Kramer's Way!

Warning: This is not the standard way of dying pasta but I like rich, bright colors. I do all of this in a ziplock bag because the mess can be overwhelming. Obviously you make separate batches for each color. You can mix colors if you like lime green, purple, etc. The trick is adding enough food coloring to make the pasta intense and leaving it to soak for a few hours to get vibrant colors. After you add the alcohol, pasta, and dye be sure to mix it around, lay it out and when you like the color spread it out on newspaper to dry thoroughly. It's easy. Do not do this on your granite counters or you will stain them. Use gloves if you do not like having green or red hands!
If you have a little doodle at home you can let them help. Kids love doing this. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Cooking Up More Treats for Next Week

I need to find nine billion ways to practice writing numbers so I am sneaking this in (sly fox that I am) next week and I am praying that the kids think this looks like fun. To make the buttons they can use the back of a pencil and dip the eraser in an ink pad. Number writing is still a real challenge for my gingerkids. If this helps you to keep them engaged during all the chaos you can click here to download it.

What did you do for a parent gift?

Everyone can be successful with this simple project. I have too many students to do a long and involved activity and too many standards to cover! So after a few years of changing it out I finally decided to do a class picture because a parent will love having this memory. One of my team partners suggested converting it to black and white which makes it so much nicer I can't believe it! Thanks Deb. The kids loved making these and the room was silent (my room is never silent) and not a single child got frustrated. If they lost the pattern around the frame I let it go...  If you are still worried about what to do this is just another idea. What do you do?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Running As Fast As I Can (I'm an old woman)

Seriously, I am trying to prepare for our Gingerbread Activity Day which is led by our parents and I am making a dash to the finish line. We are practicing the text of my little retelling book,
adding the main character and the setting. Nothing like overwhelming 5 year olds with information. Honestly though, they are loving this little book because they can read it themselves and screaming "crunch" thrills them!
If you want all this and more with story elements it is in my Holiday Joy With the Gingerbread Boy literacy packet.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

KISS: Keep It Super Simple so you can get it all done

Here is an independent activity that I am hoping will keep them busy for a few minutes while I finish other projects and get ready for my conferences. Sorry but I had to go to work so here is the file for this. Grab this right here.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Do Not Eat the Play Doh...Please!

If you love gingerbread cookies do not make this play doh. I am serious. You will want to eat it and it has an entire cup of salt in it! Gross-right? But if you could smell it you would want to put it in your mouth. One of our amazing parents ( she is a master baker) did this for me and I L*O*V*E her because the kids had so much fun with it. I just do not have enough hours in the day to do one more thing but she came through, as usual. No standards... just fun. Shhhhh.

My students are really working on their oral language skills through a simple version of The Gingerbread Man. This is a simple activity I did in my pocket chart and is becomes a flow map for sequencing work. Eventually they will create their own map and write about this cocky, little cookie!
I have lots of retelling work in my literacy packet - Holiday Joy With the Gingerbread Boy. 

Gingerbread Madness

We are doing all things Gingerbread this week and the kids are having a great time. They are loving all the retelling activities I have in my TpT packet and my grade level buddies are on board with this too. I cannot get through all this curriculum but I am having fun trying! The pocket chart retell has been a big hit and the kids love to scream "crunch" when we get to the crafty old fox. So I have put aside the regular curriculum for a few days and I am sneaking in these activities. We are singing our way through the week too!
OMG. We still have to make our parent gift... 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I Packed This Full of Gingerbread Joy

Okay this is finally finished and I need to catch my breath. Report cards, conferences, paperwork, oh my! This is a packet full of activities that focus on response to literature. I have tried to include all the pieces my team loves the most. I plan to use this for the few weeks of school to keep the kids engaged  and excited. However, it has so much in it that some of it will have to wait until the new year. Run, run as fast as you can and grab this to help you survive those busy days before winter break. I am putting it up at TpT now. Check it out here.

Now I need to crash and get some rest. My cold is back and I need to get ready for our Gingerbread Activity Day. Talk about running...

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Gingerkids Are Coming to My Room

I just created two gingerbread packets this weekend (little overachiever) to use during those final weeks before vacation. The Math Packet is already in my TpT store but I 'm still working on the Literacy pack. I need some new games standard based projects to keep things upbeat and engaging while I hold a million parent conferences! These are new ideas that my kids have not seen yet. Do I sound a little desperate? The best part of this packet is the headband 'cause you know how I feel about those. By the way- this theme is staying around till after winter break so I can read all the stories I bought on Amazon. I'm just saying...

Handwriting With Tears (MINE)

My kids are very young this year. Hello, someone turned five on November 30th. So handwriting has been a bit challenging in my room. They all have crazy interesting ways of forming letters. I notice that my bottom lip is a little sore from biting it when I watch them. But they are really young and need the gift of time. Here is a "sweet treat" if your sweeties need some extra practice too. I am off to work on my Gingerbread Packet! My team is waiting for their stuff. Grab it here.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Down came the turkeys and up went the gingerbread friends...

Down came the turkeys only to be replaced by all things Gingerbread. I have been reading different versions and my students can't get enough of these stories. Amazon is in love with this teacher! They are loving these stories. When I lead up to the fox I change my voice, it sounds slow and sweet and the kids get so tense. It is so cute to watch their faces because they know what is coming. They always clap at the end! I am not sure who is having more fun with this. I still have to hit some important standards before we go on winter break and I  will be working hard to get some projects completed too! 
Report cards are done and now conferences are ahead of me. It never stops... so I will run, run as fast as I can. I better finish my presentation for the Blog Expo coming up too!

Woops, grab this little activity here.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Did You Hear Me Scream Today?

You have to admit this is ridiculous. I was not in my classroom today because we had a report card day and after school I went into the room to see what it looked like after the sub. I noticed the pumpkin plant and almost had a stroke . I sent it home with one of my students over Thanksgiving and freaked out when I saw it! OMG .
I am so in love with this project and the results. This might be the longest time any plant has survived that has been in my care. Did you hear me scream ? Yup, not enough excitement in my life right now but things are picking up. Tomorrow I am expecting a bean stalk climbing up the side of the school.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Who Talked Me Into This?

Have you been to a TBA Expo? If not I really recommend it. My sweet friend Leslie@KindergartenWorks is putting together this expo with Tamara and they asked me to join the party. If you are a kindergarten teacher who is looking for some new ideas this might be a great way to get some professional development from home.
Come and join me... Who's in?
Did I tell you how nervous excited I am to do this?!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Let the Sun Shine In

What a "sunny" surprise to wake up to this morning. My dear friend Cindy from In the Teacher's Lounge sent me this wonderful award. I am busy with assessments and report cards and have not been cruising around the blogging world too much. This is such a hard time of the year with Thanksgiving around the corner and cooking to do on top of this! But... I saw this award and it made me stop in my tracks and remember why I am here and how wonderful my blogging friends are. Cindy is my "go to" person since she is a tech wiz but she is also a supportive, loving friend and I look forward to the day I can meet her. Thanks friend.
Rules I must follow: (Really?... okay)
1. Thank the person and write a post about it (DUH as my 5th grade mentors would say)
2. Answer the following questions below.
3. Pass the award to 10 to 12 fabulous bloggers and let them know about this (Yikes- those report cards are glaring at me)

  • Favorite color: Purple
  • Favorite animal: cat ( I had one for years)
  • Favorite number? never thought about it so I guess 2 ( I have 2 daughters and was born in February)
  • Facebook or Twitter: big  Facebook fan
  • Your passion: Teaching and creating materials
  • Giving or Getting Presents? I lovemaking gifts that are a perfect match for the person intended
  • Favorite Day: When my daughters were born and I looked into their eyes for the first time
Cindy's list is perfect but I can add a few that are so special to me:
Amber at Kindergarten Rocks (love her and love her blog; met her in Vegas)
Cindy at For the Love of Kindergarten (freckleteacher is so supportive and sweet)
Mandy at A Special Kind of Class (teaches me new things all the time)
Heidi at Heidisongs (great presenter)
April at Chalk Talk  (such great information and ideas: everyone loves April)
Ms. M at Ms. M's blog (she made my button and teaches ELLS like I do: love her)
Julie at Mrs. Lee's Kindergarten (so smart and so sweet)
so many others but those report cards are screaming at me...

So grab this if you are on this list and pay it forward friends.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Turkey Retell Reinvented

I love Dr. Jean's retelling bracelet but my kids need a little more scaffolding to help them with this.The flow map cards are taught first and we review them for several days. On our activity day we sorted a billion pony beads and got the pipe cleaners ready. Then I had my parents lead them through a little strip book that matched the flow map. After each page they colored the bead in their book the matchingcolor and then added it to their bracelet. 
They also had to count their beads as they went along. They were so engaged in this activity. This year I gave the parents a larger version of this book as cards to help them along. The room was SO QUIET and the children were so invested in this activity. All the materials were on a paper plate for each student. I love success! Now they can take home the book and bracelet and retell the story at Thanksgiving. 
Okay the truth is-I am now gathering my gingerbread beads! Does it ever slow down?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Have you met Chef Kramer?

If you have ever given a typical five year old cranberry sauce, most of them would turn up their nose at the thought of tasting it. However, if you make it in your classroom and have the kids help you (cannot screw this up) they think it is delicious. Add the ingredients and use a ridiculous voice. Be sure to sound like you are on the cooking channel and you will sustain their attention- I promise. Most of the children thought it was yummy. So,
don't try to figure them out. Presentation is everything! The following day you can make a flow map and retell this "how to". The coolest part is listening to the cranberries pop out of their skins. Try it. It is on the top of Chef Kramer's list. The describing word "tart" was a new vocabulary word they all understood after eating this. 

Okay I Have to Show You One More Time

Seriously, I cannot get over how quickly this pumpkin has sprouted. The kids have loved this science activity so much. Now I'm thinkin' Jack and the Beanstalk really happened! Right? I promise not to post this again. It was painful for me but I sent it home with a student and she is going to plant it because my teammates told me it is starting to smell. They said this is the nicest way possible! Who cares! I loved watching it grow from hour to hour! Okay, I am over it. Done.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

In my room we made a thanksgiving song book:

This is from my Turkey Leftovers packet. We practiced the song in the pocket chart for several days and today I let them make the little book version that  they can take home for the holidays. I did this whole group and they did really well with this. They hummed the song to help figure out what to cut and paste to match the text. It was so cute. I don't think I want to hear this song again for a really, really long time! I love when a book is simple for them and they feel super successful.

Farmer Fran has a magic touch

Seriously, this is growing in front of my eyes. My students are so enthralled with this pumpkin and so is the teacher. Each day it grows so much bigger. You have to try this! Now what? What am I going to do? I guess I have to take it home and plant it in a big pot so I can bring it back. Farmer Fran has not killed this plant. Applause please!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Am I the Only Teacher Alive Who Does Not Know This Trick?

Is this not the cutest child in the world? His mom is my friend and that is why I can post his picture. He's wearing the Indian headband he made which is gorgeous but look at the back. My girlfriends next door showed me this idea which I have never seen in my life. They told me that have been doing it since the dawn of time! Now my headband addiction will be out of control. Some of our kids had a really hard time patterning these and  I can throw their formal assessments out the window. This is a much more valid way to see if they can apply these skills. If you know about this why are you keeping it to yourself? If you don't- I just changed your life and rocked your world! A big shout-out to my friends Krista, Alicia, and Belinda. Love you guys so much!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Kids Were Excited But the Teacher Went Crazy

Okay so one of my favorite blogs Growing in Pre-K suggested this fabulous pumpkin activity. As I mentioned before I did not expect much to happen but I loved the idea and decided to give it a shot. I talked about this in a previous post. Well hold on because yesterday two sprouts appeared. I almost had a stroke and wanted to see if the kids would notice on their own. Yup, they saw the sprouts and freaked out just like I did. Then I came into the room this morning and they had grown so much that I was screaming with happiness. I guess I lead a dull life.
So the kids saw this when they came in and were stomping on each other to see. I am loving this experiment and I hope you try it next year. By the end of the day I swear the sprouts had gotten even bigger. Thank you Growing in Pre-K .Hop over to this blog to check out her pumpkin plant. I am so jealous  amazed by her results. Wish the lady with the black thumb good luck! I might have to take this home over our break!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Retelling the story (kinder style)

Okay I have to release these even though I have ten billion assessments to put on a chart tonight. I cannot make you wait any longer since I am known to put things off and this will lose its value in a few days! Click here to grab them for tomorrow. I hope your kids like them. Remember to make a retelling bracelet using pony beads that match these cards. I will post more about this tomorrow.

I Love Surprises!

I came home tonight to a wonderful surprise. Tamara from TBA sent me an email congratulating me for being included in her top ten teaching blogs on Thanksgiving is just around the corner (we made cranberry sauce in class today) and this is the perfect time to stop, enjoy this moment and to be thankful for all the blogging friends that have come into my life.You inspire me on a daily basis and make me strive to do my very best for our children. You help me solve problems that often feel overwhelming (love ya Cindy) and encourage me with your thoughtful comments and suggestions. I hope to meet each of you one day and hug you in person. 
I am in the amazing company of these blogs who also received this award:
Funky First Grade Fun
Kindergarten Works 
Ms. M's Blog
The Moffatt Girls
The Organized Classroom
What the Teacher Wants!
and best of all Teaching Blog Addict! I am sending Tamara a virtual hug and I hope one day to meet her. She is such a rock star. She has changed the blogging world with her innovative thinking.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

I think I am addicted to ...pocket charts

Does anyone else have this problem? I love pocket charts and have way  too many in my room. I cannot control this addiction. This is the story of Thanksgiving (my version) done as a flow map. I love just putting arrows on the side of my cards but the last one should not have any arrow (woops!). Now is my version historically correct? No way but it makes a great story and I know I am reinventing the truth but our unit this month is "Friends"and I could not resist. This goes along with Dr. Jean's retelling bracelet which we make every year because I L*O*V*E it so much. It is a brilliant idea. More about that tomorrow. Assessments need to be charted and I have to force myself...

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Who Likes Turkey Sandwiches?

I am finally finished and I have posted this in my TpT store. What made me decide to do this? My partner asked me where this Thanksgiving poem was and I was clueless! Seriously, it had disappeared and we love doing this right before our break. I did not want her to think I was disorganized (I am a train wreck right now) so I went home to put this together. On Monday my team will L*O*V*E me so much. This is a literacy pack with all the things I like to do with a poem or song to build print awareness and vocabulary. Many of the activities in this packet could be monitored by a parent if you are having a Turkey Day at school. I hope you gobble it up and have some fun with it. Click here to check it out.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Just Cooking Up One More Dish

Assessments are finally coming to a close and I am so happy to finish! When did we decide that kindergarten children should be assessed to death and be given formal benchmarks? Timing them makes me want to scream!
Who came up with that idea? Have they ever met a 5 year old  4 year old turning 5 in December? Seriously? So the race to nowhere continues. However, I can take a deep breath until the next time and celebrate this great American holiday known as Thanksgiving. My partner asked me to make a new emergent reader and I decided to add a few other ingredients to make it a delicious tidbit. I am just about finished but I have the TBA Expo tomorrow so I will be busy soaking in all the information. I will post this in my TpT store as soon as I can. I hope you like it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sweeten Your Day by Saying Hello to a New Kinder Blog

She has finally moved into our kindergarten neighborhood. This is my friend Cindy who is from Northern California and has left kind, generous comments on my blog since I can remember. I once told my husband I would love to meet this teacher. She is one of those people I feel like I know already through the wonderful world of blogging. Now she has started her own blog and needs a warm welcome. Is there a virtual welcome to the neighborhood gift? That would be hilarious! Check her out right here when you get a moment in your busy day and you will never be sorry. Have a great day. I am off to test five your olds for about the 5th day....grrrr.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Mentor Magic

On Thursday we met with our fifth grade mentors and decided to go to the computer lab for some letter practice. We walked over together (kids had their arms around their buddies or were holding their hands). In front of the lab is a grassy area where students sat down together and the little ones read from their literacy bags all the books I have created for them for guided reading. It was great practice for them and their buddies gave them lots of praise for their efforts. After this we went into the lab. The kinderkids sat at the computer with headphones while their buddy sat next to them (on their knees) and helped them along. We had some glitches with the technology but the 5th graders resolved these issues faster than I could! There is something to be said for "digital natives."

Saturday, November 5, 2011

More or Less Taught My Way...

Many teachers have very little difficulty teaching the standard for more and less. My students have had limited experiences with numbers and need a scaffold to help them understand this concept. What do we do in our room? My teaching partner came up with the idea of having them compare their towers so they would clearly see which number was more and which was less. Let's see if this middle step helps them with this. Turkey Day is around the corner so I used DJinkers graphics that were ideal for this season! Grab it and tell me if you have a better idea for this by leaving a comment. I also have a Thanksgiving packet on Tpt right now if you need one.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pumpkins Are Not Predictable in Kindergarten

We finally got to our pumpkin activities. I loved Abby's method of collecting data with dot markers. This teacher is so amazing so check out her blog The Inspired Apple for fantastic ideas and visit if you just need a little chuckle. How about blue water? It was much more dramatic for the kids! Even the kids that predicted the pumpkin would float were so shocked when it happened. It was precious to see their expressions.

I saw this idea on Growing in Pre-K and was in awe of it. A sprout will actually grow inside of this slightly hollowed out pumpkin that still has lots of seeds inside. I am not well know for my green thumb but give me credit for trying. If it happens you will be able to hear me screaming at your school. Isn't this so cool? If you do
not know this site it is a wonderful resource for kindergarten teachers so take a peek. Have you ever asked a five year old to say circumference? Make sure you clap the syllables!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Gobble Gobble: Thanksgiving Sounds

My kids hold their pencils in ways I have never witnessed before. This is not a good thing at all. We need lots of practice identifying sounds we hear at the beginning of seen be words and writing the letter that goes with it. Your students can color in the correct letter or use that handy dandy bingo marker to mix it up. I am going to be doing this activity this week and I like the idea of writing letters for a purpose! I love when you hear kids making the sounds at the top of their voices as they complete their work with no realization of how loud they are. This is so cute and funny. Grab this right here if you want it. I hope you like it.

If you like this activity you might like my T is for Turkey packet that I am selling on Tpt. Check it out if you need some activities to keep them busy and engaged.Click here friends.

Monday, October 31, 2011

In my room turkeys are beginning to appear ...

This is just a fun game veteran teachers have been using for years to build sight word knowledge. If you have ELL's change it out a bit and have them come up to the pocket chart and use a sentence such as, "The word is here." This is a quick and easy routine you can do daily and keep it fresh by changing out the graphic! I repeat sight words that I want them to practice with greater frequency.

Mentor Magic is Here

How cute are these pictures? None of these students even noticed me in the room. I gave the directions to my fifth grade helpers and they got right down to business. They did a quick letter and sight word assessment, filled out a double bubble map with their little buddy and finally worked on flash cards to review letters and words.
I made a notebook for each kinderkid and they L*O*V*E*D it! I put an apple on the front cover and eventually I want to put a photo of each student with his or her mentor.The notebook has fluency charts, flash cards and any activities I want them to work on. 

So Friday I assessed each student myself to see if they were coming along and fourteen of them got perfect scores! Woohoo, talk about progress! Is this working? You bet it is and the kids are so much more interested in school and participating in class. I even gave out certificates and sent emails to their parents. It was a happy day in Mrs. Kramer'sclassroom. Many of the students who did not get perfect scores only missed a few. Loving this progress...