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Andrea Elston

Andrea’s Books:

* For more information on her books, click the pics above

About the Author:

Andrea Elston was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. She has taught at the elementary level for 20+ years and also creates educational resources for Shine-A-Light Press. She and her husband Chris live in Prescott Valley, Arizona and love seeing the sky for more than 3 months out of the year!

First Name Acrostic:

A born-again believerNorthwest native, Arizona transplantDrinks way too much coffeeResponsible (or at least tries to be)Educator and…Advocate for truth

Travel Bucket List Items: Statue of Liberty, Quebec or Paris (anywhere she can practice her high-school French,) and somewhere to see the northern lights and stay in an ice-hotel.

An Accomplishment She’s Proud Of: She just recently made over 200 desserts for her niece’s wedding, turning a fun hobby into something that was able to bless the happy couple. It was definitely challenging, especially since it was 100 degrees that day (quite uncharacteristic for Washington in June), but she made it work!

Five Favorites:

Movie: The Fugitive

Childhood Gift: a Cabbage Patch preemie named Caroline Tabitha

Coffee Drink: Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte

Season: Fall

Book: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

“Family Photos”

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Teamwork, Drive, and Winning: What’s Music Education Got to Do With It?

by Erin Shelby

In the Netflix documentary The Road I’m On, country super star Garth Brooks recounts his childhood and his rise to fame. He recalls a particular instance when his father insisted that Garth join something, anything. You have to be part of a team, any team, was his father’s directive. As a result, young Garth played high school football. Do music and sports seem like polar opposites to you? If so, consider these three things that sports and music have in common.


Anyone who’s played sports knows that it takes more than one person to win the game. Teamwork is critical, and this also applies to music. Soloists with attention-getting personalities often get the spotlight, but they don’t earn this praise alone. Back-up singers, dancers, drummers, instrumentalists, lighting designers, and vocal coaches all create the magic for the chart-topping celebrities we know and love. Students who have music as part of their education learn that teamwork is a must. Choir singers learn the art of the “blend” when each singer isn’t too loud or too soft, but just right. Band players practice alone and then come together as a whole to work on their sound as a group. Whether in choir, band, or orchestra, each music student is part of a larger team. 


Goals and desires are easy to have, but it takes drive to accomplish what you want. Wishful thinking won’t make things happen; action is required. In sports, if you don’t show up for practice, you’re destined to fail. If you show up with a bad attitude or a half-hearted attitude, your practice won’t do much good. The same goes for music. Each person in a group brings their abilities and desire to succeed. Talent alone isn’t good enough; you have to work for what you want. Choirs learn this together by practicing parts of the same songs over and over again to achieve the desired sound. A three-minute song takes hours upon hours to learn. Band members will refine the same section of music because a note is played too soon, or a rest lasts too long, or instruments sound out of balance with each another. Each person’s drive pushes them to create a work of excellence.


The joy of winning is easy for bystanders to see. In sports, winning can come in the form of trophies or the number on the scoreboard. Those who stand on the sidelines may not know the frustration, fatigue, and effort that it took to make it happen. For musicians, wins are just as valuable, although they come in different forms. The applause and cheers from our audiences show that we created something good. The reward of knowing that we gave our best and created something worthwhile to is a reward in itself. Personal growth happens when we persevere through obstacles, and we often learn about ourselves along the way.

Young people will always need to learn about teamwork, drive, and success. These are enduring concepts that need to be passed on to each new generation. The importance of music education is three-fold: it teaches teamwork, it emphasizes the importance of drive, and it celebrates success. How can you celebrate these ideals in a young person’s life?

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Here We Go Again!

by Andrea Elston


Well, ready or not, the time has come for school…in some fashion…to begin. Whether you are setting your child up with a laptop at your kitchen table, or checking their temperature and making sure they have their lunch and their mask before sending them off to their socially-distanced classroom, school has started. I thought I’d share some of my favorite tricks of the trade and products that helped make my year a little smoother. These work in any learning situation…not just the traditional classroom.

Set a schedule and stick to it (as much as possible). Students of all ages depend of consistency. There is comfort in knowing what to expect…even if it’s just the fact that math comes first, or that the day will end with reading a chapter from Indian in the Cupboard . Of course, life happens, and kids learn they have to adjust…but in a world with so much uncertainty, a little stability goes a long way.

Set expectations at the beginning! Please do not take this to mean, go over the rules and then move on to the first lesson in your daunting curriculum syllabus! Take the time to teach the students (or your own child) what a successful year will look like in your “classroom.” I usually spent 2-3 days going over procedures before I ever even cracked a book with my students. This sounds like a ridiculous amount of time, but I found it was much easier to teach the kiddos how to avoid striking the match rather than try to put out the blazing fire 3 weeks into the year. I taught everything from when to sharpen a pencil to how a respectful conversation sounds with a fellow classmate or even an adult! (I am astounded at how some students speak to each other let alone adults!)

Finally, don’t get stuck on any one curriculum or program. If your school or learning environment allows for it, explore and supplement! There are SO many great resources out there! Also remember, teachers and parents ARE the curriculum. It is not the books.  My advice is don’t let the curriculum drive your teaching…let the curriculum support YOU in teaching. Students of all ages need to be nurtured and validated. Students are at school to grow not only academically, but socially and (depending on your institution) spiritually as well. It’s easy to skip over this in effort to “get through the book”. Your students will most likely not remember what grade they learned cursive, multiplication, or where to put a comma, but they will remember YOU. I never bought into the “Don’t smile until November” philosophy. I wanted my students to feel comfortable with me, trust me, and hopefully learn something from me! I was on their side from day one, and if I didn’t smile at them, how would they know that? Plus when you teach first grade, it is impossible to avoid smiling, or if I’m being honest…laughing out loud! Six year old students are just plain hilarious!

Having said that…here are a few of my favorite resources. Because the majority of my career was with the littles, the resources here are mainly for primary grades, but the sentiments above apply to any level.

National Geographic: You Read/I Read books
You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You: MaryAnn Hoberman (also the author of A House is a House for Me…super fun creative writing activity)
Choral Reading-Dr. Seuss (or any rhyming book), Frog and Toad, Amelia Bedelia, George and Martha.

*I cannot stress enough the importance of reading WITH your child, not just to your child. And not even listening to your child read to you. Find books to read with them so they can match your pacing and inflection.

Teaching numbers/counting patterns:

Students learn those mundane counting patterns the best if they are set to a rhythm or a song.

And as far as those pesky addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts, sorry to say…flashcards are the best way to learn! I know it’s boring, but I found that repetition and memorization was the most sure-fire way to assure a strong foundation. Please don’t skip this step!!

Phonics/Reading Curriculum
The method I found to be the most effective was the Slingerland/Spalding program. If you don’t already use it, I would strongly suggest researching how you can implement it into your phonics program. I also really found value in the Reading A to Z-online-program (Or RAZ-Kids) as a supplemental resource!

Writing:  The Institute for Excellence in Writing is the best writing curriculum I worked with. This is a full-service curriculum…teaching kids to write starting at the Kindergarten level all the way through high school.

Websites I’ve used: (physical movement/coordination) (language arts) (language arts) (math)
khan Academy for Kids (math) (short-term, long-term, working memory support)

I sincerely hope these tips and resources are helpful, and many blessings as you educate the next generation in whatever capacity/role you find yourself in!

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My Thoughts on these “Unprecedented Times” in Education

by Andrea Elston


I really struggled with how to start this blog post. I wanted it to be encouraging and informational, but to be honest, I am so tired of “we’re all in this together,” and “we’ll get through this.” Quite frankly, if I hear the words “these unprecedented times” on one more commercial, I may actually throw the remote at the TV. I did not want it to be yet another piece of media pushing an agenda and telling parents what they should  do about their child’s education, or telling teachers what amazingly helpful tips I have for distance learning, should that be the case in the fall. To be honest, I am currently neither!

 I am not a parent, and although I spent 20 years in the classroom and will always be a teacher at heart, I did not have to endure the abrupt switch to remote learning and all the logistics that accompanied it this year. I also did not want to send a bunch of links to multiple online resources! From what I can tell, parents and teachers are already getting inundated with those from countless other company websites, forums, organizations, etc. I figured you are all “linked out” by now! I would be! So for my first blog post, I am going to just share my thoughts from the heart.

Parents, whether you choose for your child(ren) to be educated through traditional or non-traditional methods next year, it will be the right choice. You know your child, you know your circumstances, and you know what’s best for your family. Fortunately, we live in a country where we are free to make that choice and, as has been proven by these unprecedented times (I couldn’t help myself), there are a plethora of resources out there to support your decision.  When it comes right down to it, all children are homeschooled. It doesn’t matter whether they attend a public school, private school, charter school, online school, co-op, or an actual homeschool program, education begins in the household. Parents are the teachers and life is the curriculum. My encouragement to you this summer is to continue homeschooling your children. Use resources if you wish, but the bottom line is, if you have created your “classroom” as a place that operates on  love, standards, boundaries, consequences, follow-through, safety, trust, and respect, your “students” will flourish no matter what school looks like for them in the coming months.

Teachers, I don’t know how you did it! I am so impressed by what I saw and heard from my friends and colleagues that were in the trenches every day, trying to figure out what to do just to survive, first of all, but then how to improve as the year went on. I know teachers are innovative, but this event took everything to a whole new level! My encouragement to you this summer is to relax and revel in your accomplishments! Again, there is much uncertainty about the next school year, more or less depending on where you live, but as a whole, teachers and administrators have shown that they can handle whatever comes their way to create an educational environment, whether physical or virtual, for students to thrive!

Bottom line, the mission of Shine-A-Light Press will always be to provide supportive and supplemental resources to help educate the next generation…in whatever capacity and from whatever location! Whether you are an administrator looking to give your staff all the resources you can to help them succeed, a teacher looking for another fun and creative way to reach your students, or a parent wanting to take advantage of any and all educational materials out there, Shine-A-Light Press is committed to providing products that give you those options!

Don’t ever hesitate to contact me directly with questions, comments, suggestions, and thoughts. And rest assured, I have plenty of favorite resources and links to share in the future!

Andrea Elston

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Welcome to Shine-A-Light Press

Shine-A-Light Corp, a multi-media company striving to “shine-a-light” in a world with far too much darkness, is pleased to announce the launch of Shine-A-Light Press. Founded by a husband and wife team who are combining their twenty years of experience, Andrea’s running a classroom and Chris’ as both a film/television writer and an author, Shine-A-Light Press is producing both books and educational curricula for preschool through high school.

Our commitment is to provide quality curriculum, supplementary material, and literary works that can easily be integrated into your current curriculum and used as either read-alouds or simply for personal enjoyment. You will find that our educational resources exceed most widely accepted learning standards, but many are aligned with state standards and/or Common Core for certification purposes.

The products offered by Shine-A-Light Press are available in both hard copy and digital formats and can be purchased in our public store or are included in our various membership packages. Whether you are a single-family with one child in second grade, a homeschooling co-op serving several grade levels, or a P-12 school with 800 students, there is a membership level that applies to you and a price tag that matches appropriately.

Memberships grant the account holder access to the digital material appropriate for their membership level, including early access to new products up to a month before they become available in the store. A perfect example is our new book “The Four Corners of Darkness” which will be available in the store at the end of the month but is currently available as an eBook to our upper elementary, middle school, and premier membership levels. New products that arrive during the annual membership cycle are added to the membership at no additional charge to the account holder. Plus, every member has an automatic 15% discount on all products in the store, site wide.

We have many products planned beyond what you can currently see in the store. Many of which will show up in the next few months. More are already on the calendar to debut in the months that will follow. Our inventory will continue to grow but we are committed to maintaining a personal, small-business level of customer service and family atmosphere. We look forward to getting to know you, serving you, and want to start by saying, “Welcome to the Shine-A-Light family!”