Sunday, March 29, 2015

Poetry in the Elementary Classroom

My 1st post at Classroom Tested Resources was posted yesterday! It is full of ideas for using poetry in the elementary classroom. You'll find resources about finding poems and how to use them in your classroom. It's a great time to get prepared for National Poetry Month which is in April and Poem in Your Pocket Day which is April 30th.
Hurry over to the blog so you don't miss out on the amazing Teacher Swag giveaway. I don't know about you, but I can never have too many markers in my classroom! Those Mr. Sketch markers are awesome for making anchor charts. So, enter today! Good luck!
photo credit: Group Projects via photopin (license)
I was asked to write a blog post for Accucut Education. It's called Let Them Color. I was asked by another teacher recently if I let the kids color pictures on worksheets and papers and if so how long they should color. I thought that was a really good question. We have so much that we need to get done each day. Should we just skip all the coloring? Read my response and let me know what you think by leaving a comment.

It's Spring break here! I am beyond excited! These past 3 weeks have been incredibly busy and I don't think I could have made it another day. :) There is a reason that we need those break days in our calendar! Have a great week!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Classroom Tested Resources ~ Blog launch and giveaway!

Exciting news! I've joined a group of 30 teachers to start a new collaborative blog - Classroom Tested Resources. One of us will post each day. For this first rotation, we will be posting about plants, planning or poetry to bring you ideas for the month of April. I can't wait to read each post!

We'd love to hear from you. You can follow Classroom Tested Resources on facebook, pinterest, google + and instagram (classroomtestedresources). Please comment on the blog posts. We want to bring you information and resources that are of interest and value to you. The best way for us to do that is to hear what you like and the topics that you would like to see featured in upcoming blog posts.
The news just keeps getting better and better - - there's even a fabulous giveaway to celebrate the blog launch! Three winners will each receive a teacher swag prize that has some of our favorite products. You will love this prize pack! The giveaway is open until April 1st. You can submit your entries here.

I was recently asked to write a blog post for Accucut Education. You can read my post titled Let Them Color on their new blog.

Did you already have spring break? It seems like I've seen many teachers on social media who already had their break and some that have it this next week. Ours is this next week and I am in serious need of some down time! I've just finished 3 consecutive weeks of big events. We had the school auction, report cards, conferences and an Open House. Last night at the Open House, my 1st graders performed a Boxcar Children play that they wrote! I helped write some of the narrator parts, but otherwise it was all them. There were some very funny parts and a few natural actors who enjoyed their time on stage. They all became immersed in the book and it is now a favorite. I am certain they will remember this play for a long time and that the book will hold a special place in their hearts forever. Don't you love it when that happens?

I'll be back tomorrow (don't faint!) to share my 1st blog post at Classroom Tested Resources.

Enjoy your weekend, friends!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Birthday FREEBIE & Product Swap

I have to tell you that this has been a long, exhausting week - - and I still have Friday (the 100th day) to celebrate! There are some weeks that just have too many events! This week we had an Open House at school (showing off the student's work), Groundhog Day (he saw his shadow! /floor ) and the 100th Day. Oh, and it's my birthday today! I think I will spend the day sleeping once I finally get home. :)
I have a few freebies to share with you on my birthday. :)  The first 2 are birthday related items for your classroom. There are certificates (2 styles-2 files!) and a birthday bulletin board set where you can put the student's birthday on the cupcake for that month. Click on the pictures above to download these freebies!
The next freebie is one that I put together for the Open House this week. The first graders had their Arctic reports on display. I used this About the Author page for the cover. I took a picture of each student holding a picture of the Arctic animal that they studied. I used the Arctic Animal Research Pages & pictures from my Arctic Animals unit on TPT. They turned out great and the kids really enjoyed working on this project. They get to become "experts" on the animal that they study!

I have also been participating in a product swap that was organized by Erin at Learning to Be Awesome.
Learning to be Awesome
I reviewed a product from Sharon who has the Teaching with Sight blog. She is a NBCT kindergarten teacher. I chose to review the Fantasy Guided Reading Unit. This product was designed for K-2nd grade students.
I used the story The Three Billy Goats Gruff for this review. I used it with my lower reading group. I was interested in this particular set of stories because it seemed like it would support my struggling readers and it had a writing component. Also, I have not used fantasy stories much so I figured we should experience more genres. It did work out well for my reading group. What I did not guess was my student's reaction to the story. You'll have to read to the end of the review to get the "student review". :)
We started out by reviewing the vocabulary that would be used in the story. Sharon has provided the kids with words they need to know and a picture of the word. I had my students circle some of the sounds that we practice. These words also include their favorite sound - wa in water. I call it the baby sound and we make a crying baby saying wa-wa! 

We then read the story together. The picture clues were very helpful and it is written for beginning readers. It was so great for them to have a story they could easily read. We want to scaffold learning and keep the students going to the next level, but sometimes it is nice to just give them something they absolutely know and let them be super successful. It really helps to build their confidence.
Next, the students did a little re-write of the story. They wrote about what happened as each of the goats crossed the bridge. 

This story also has some comprehension questions (with a word bank), a place to write and draw about your favorite part and a place to write your own ending. Writing an alternate ending was definitely the favorite part for my students. It was interesting to hear their diverse reactions. Some said they would push the troll into the water. One said they would just swim across and avoid the troll on the bridge. And there was one who said he would be a friend to the troll. Maybe that is what that mean troll needs - friendship!

The best part of this whole experience was that when we finished the students asked if they could do more! They really liked this story. I was just going to use the one story in this pack because we have other materials for our reading group, but this was so appealing to them that I really need to use some more stories. This is a huge pack (over 100 pages!) and it has 12 stories in it. My first grader will be so excited to learn that we can do more stories like this.

Please visit Sharon's blog, Teaching with Sight. I just found out as I was writing this blog post that she is not only a kindergarten teacher and ballroom dancer, but also that she is completely blind. There is a wonderful introduction video on her blog that shows her teaching. She is an inspiration.

Make sure that you visit the other bloggers participating in this product swap. Not only will you discover teaching materials for your classroom, there are many giveaways and special treats along the way.

Enjoy your weekend!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

National Hat Day on January 15th and Teaching Across the USA Linky

In just a few days, it will be National Hat Day! Who knew? This holiday caught my attention because hats are a big deal in lower elementary. If you want to make an occasion extra fun then just add a hat (or crown!). So, here are some activity ideas for you that involve hats. Use them on January 15th or save them for a special day that needs a little extra excitement!

1) Free hat printables to use as photo booth props ~ use these for photo ops or even as props for a puppet show. It would be fun to have the students write a description of the type of person that they think would wear that hat. Young or old? Tall or short? Color of hair and eyes? If they had a dog, what type would it be? You could make a whole list of questions and then have them write some sentences describing this person. Take a picture of the hat or have them draw a picture of their imaginary character and then use the hat photo prop with the drawing and take a photo. 

2) Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans ~ There are many book series that feature a character who likes to wear a hat! Madeline is a classic one. This link shows you how to make a Madeline hat from a bowl and plate. It's really cute!
3) The Hat by Jan Brett is a classic winter story. I love that this book features a hedgehog and that Jan Brett actually has a pet hedgehog named Pudge! Hedgehogs are super cute, but I recently discovered that they don't always make good pets. A teacher was given one that hadn't really been handled much. I attempted to "tame" it over a few months and had some bites as a consequence! She still doesn't like people. :( I think the key might be to adopt one when it is a baby and can get used to being handled. I would still love to have one as a pet! This freebie by 1st Grade Hip Hip Hooray! asks students to compare The Hat & The Mitten. Then they decorate their own hats & mittens and use their best writing to describe them. 

4) Mr. Greg from Kindergarten Smorgasboard showcases a variety of the silly and cute hats that his kinders have made. They make a hat a week! This might be something you would like to incorporate in your classroom. Check out his blog post with product ideas for creating learning hats. 
5) Arctic Animal Crown Game - I just created a TPT freebie that is a fun learning activity for my firsties as they study Arctic animals. We played it today and they had a great time! I had them play in groups of 2 or 3. They used the question prompt card to ask questions and figure out which animal was on the crown. I used a paperclip to attach the animal to each crown. It's a good idea to print at least 2 copies of the animal cards. When a pair of students finished and identified their animal they asked for another one. So, I rotated around the room and put a different animal on the crown so they could play again. This is good for verbal skills and helps them learn more about Arctic animals. Have fun!
Lucy at Here's an Idea is having a linky about what people eat in your state. I'm representing for Washington, but I had a hard time thinking of a distinct dish that is associated with our state. Of course, Washington is known for a fruit - apples! Over 1/2 of the apples that are sold for eating in the US come from our state. My family has been trying to focus on health lately and one of our goals has been to eat an apple a day. I've had an apple almost every day for this school year. There are many health benefits. I just read about the 3 apples a day plan - eat an apple before each meal. I may need to try that one. :)

Have a great week! Happy hat day!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

January Calendar Days & National Bird Day freebies

Here is a list of some celebrated National Holidays in January - you may find a few surprising ones! You might have fun wearing some new socks on National Argyle Day or start a classroom band on National Kazoo Day. :)
I'm anxious to get back to my classroom and start working on Arctic animal studies! It's one of my favorites. You can check out my best-seller: Arctic Animal Research Pages by clicking here. So, it doesn't seem like a great time for me to celebrate National Bird Day! However, there are some great ideas and freebies out there for birds. I've listed some at the end of this post. You could use them on Monday or just hold onto these ideas until spring. Another way to incorporate two themes: focus on birds in the Arctic! They just happen to be some of the most fascinating birds that I've studied! A few of my favorites are the Arctic Tern, Peregrine Falcon & Snowy Owl.

The small Arctic Tern circumnavigates the globe during migration. They are also very territorial and will attack animals (or people!) who come near the next. I also just found out that they can hover!
I can usually trick my 1st graders by asking them to name the fastest animal. Most of them will say the cheetah. Wrong! The cheetah is the fastest land animal and can reach speeds of 70 mph. The peregrine falcon can reach speeds of 200 mph while diving! Incredible! My students already know this since I can never wait until January to teach it! Plus, there was a passenger on board the Mayflower who was named Peregrine (Peregrine White - He was actually born after they arrived and while they were still anchored in the harbor). This year, one of my littles, drew that name for their "Pilgrim Name" and so they definitely had to learn about that bird. I'm curious as to why that name was chosen. I wonder if those birds were near the boat during their voyage?

Everything about owls is so fascinating - owl pellets, asymmetrical ears, variety of homes, etc. There is a wealth of information to keep young learners interested. Snowy Owls are one of the animals in my Arctic Animals unit and there is also an All About Owls product that helps students learn about owls while learning new vocabulary.

On to some general freebies and crafts about birds. :)

1) My friend, Chrystine, at Tweet Resources has made these awesome I have...Who Has... games. My kiddos love these games! It just so happens that there is a Bird Joke freebie game. I am SO excited to print this out and use it in my classroom. My 1st graders will love it!

2) I love this inspirational poster by Ben Clarance. It's a great reminder to celebrate individuality!

The woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best. – Henry van Dyke.

3) Montessori Print Shop has created a wonderful freebie to teach about bird adaptations and beaks.

4) Here is an easy bird feeder made with a cardboard tube. You can read about it @ The Ramblings of a Crazy Woman. :) This seems like it would actually be a great project for this time of year. Does anyone know if they will come if you start leaving out food in the winter? Have they already found other food sources by then or are they always looking?
5) I chose this for a craft once for 1st-5th graders. They turned out so cute! It is You just need to cut out the template from the pages of an old book (Goodwill!) and then lightly ink the edge and apply a little glitter. Then, attach to a clothespin! Beautiful!
6) This is a freebie (sample) from my Animal Writing pages with word banks. Just click on the picture to download. I love to give the students a list of words related to what they are writing about. It gives them such confidence and helps them to become more detailed writers. They often have lots of info. - they just need practice to express it well!
Another bird resource to consider adding to your teaching resources is this wonderful book by Dianna Aston. She has a few more books like this (a butterfly one, etc.) and they are all fantastic! I hope she keeps creating them! I love that the front endpapers have pictures of the eggs and the back endpapers have pictures of the birds. You can spend a while just matching up the two!

I really should make a general bird unit! I absolutely love teaching about birds. :) In addition to the products listed above, I also have one for Bald Eagles.

I hope that you've learned a bit about birds and found some new resources for your classroom. Thanks for visiting! I'd love to hear a comment or two! :)

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Win gift cards & prizes at the Favorite Things Blog Hop 2014

These are a few of my favorite things!

I'm so excited to be a part of this fun blog hop. Thank you, Laura from Where the Magic Happens, for organizing this treat for our blogs! As you hop from blog to blog you can read about each blogger's favorite things and enter to win a prize package! There are a total of 7 big prize packs and they each are full of wonderful gift cards and products. Also, many of the bloggers have put some products on sale at TPT. You can search for "myfavoritethings2014".

I will attempt to go through my favorite things without breaking into song ala Sound of Music or adding any references to whiskers on kittens!

Favorite Beauty Product - ESSIE polish
I would say my favorite product is Essie nail polish. I have tried various polishes over the year and I was ready to give up on ever polishing my nails. If I go to the salon a manicure would usually only last a week and I definitely don't want to pay to have them done every week! I tried the nail wraps and sort of liked them, but they took a long time for me to apply (that was probably just me needing to get used to them) and I found the good ones too expensive for my budget. So, I was thrilled when I tried Essie polish and found that it was thick enough to apply easily and lasted for a while. I tried a few other popular brands in that price range and it just wasn't the same. For me, the Essie polish is just the right consistency. I also love the colors that are available! I started buying this polish in the summer and have a nice little collection. I'm looking forward to adding more colors. Plus, it's fun to see the collection of colorful bottles!

Favorite Restaurant - Olive Garden
My favorites are Italian & Greek. My all-time favorite is Olive Garden. Our area is small so some of my favorite restaurants are not in the area so I only get a chance to visit them when travelling - Cracker Barrel, Chick-fil-A (coming to WA soon! still will be a drive for me, but much better!), Zoopa - so wish this was closer and they should totally have more locations! I would be remiss if I left out Taco Bell. My mom says that is a phrase I learned right after my first few words! I do tend to make way too many stops there after late nights at school. :)
My area doesn't have a wide range of restaurant cuisines. When we are travelling we try to seek out those little individual places with authentic recipes. While visiting Seattle, we tried out a little Ethiopian place at the Pike Place Market and loved the injera (bread) plate.

Favorite teaching supply - Frixion markers
I won a set of Pilot Frixion markers and I have fallen in love with them! They are the only marker (or even pen) that I've used that really erases. The kids love them also! I've recently used them to have us underline parts of a story (jobs that the mom did and those that the daughter completed). The only problem - the kids were purposely making lines longer so they could erase! I let them do it one time each and then we had to get back to work! The video cuts off just as the little girl is saying awesome, but I think you can tell they like them. :)
I love them for grading, because if I make a mistake I can easily erase it. There have been times when I graded a test and gave 100% and then noticed a mistake. I used to cover it with a sticker and re-grade. Now, I can just erase!

Favorite Tradition - Ornaments
When I was growing up, my grandma sent us ornaments. I don't remember if it was every year, but she sent each of us several ornaments. I only have a couple that survived the years! I have the one pictured above which was from 1984 and a Garfield one. 

My 2 boys each have several ornaments of their own on our tree. Some of these are shown in these pictures. They have a few that were give to them when they were younger. Of course, there are also ones that they made for the tree like the clay stocking in the top picture. As they grew older, I've let them choose an ornament for the tree almost every year. I write their name and the date on each one. It's fun to see the things they choose each year. It shows their personality and what their interests were during that time. This year, my oldest chose the burger and fries. We tease him about wanting to eat all the time! Welcome to the teen years! My youngest chose the red cardinal. He loves animals. Last year, he chose the Arctic Fox that looks like a little stuffed animal. We don't have a designer tree that could be featured in magazines, but it's a tree full of memories! That is precious to me!

Favorite Store - Amazon
I love Amazon prime! My prime membership expired and I tried going without it for a few months. Then I needed a baby shower gift. I could not get it to ship w/ free shipping and kept adding items to my cart to get it to work. I was also nervous that it wouldn't make it in time. I finally gave in and renewed prime. Presto! Delivered super fast and no shipping charges.
You can win a $20 gift card to Amazon along with the other fabulous prizes! This gift card is part of prize pack #7. It will be emailed to the winner. It is in US funds and can only be used at
My 4 featured items are 1/2 off during this blog hop! These are bundles that are already discounted, so to get them an extra 50% off is a big treat!

The Animal Research Papers Bundle includes pages for kids to research 99 different animal. It even includes my best-selling Arctic Animal Research Paper pack. They are written for early readers and feature photos rather than clip art. They have been used successfully with kindergarten - 5th grade. I'm a 1st grade teacher and use them in my class every year! The kids love writing their own report and becoming an "expert" on an animal.

I also have my Healthy Habits Mega Bundle on sale which features several food group activities and other activity to promote a healthy lifestyle. The healthy habits posters in this bundle have been used by many teachers and have been used for cafeteria bulletin boards.

The QR Code Story Collection is a recent addition and has become very popular. Teachers love to use these for centers. There are many similar items in the TPT store. I think this one is unique because:
*each collection features a theme - this makes it easy for you to rotate the books to match your curriculum or the season
*unique picture on each card - I've seen many sets that have no pictures or the same picture on everything. I try to put a picture on each card that goes with the story and is unique from the others. This makes it easy for pre-readers to find the right story. It also makes the card visually appealing.
*Playing time is listed - This is important in my classroom. I give my students a set amount of time. This helps them to choose a story that is not too long.
*SafeShare - The QR codes link to the video through safeshare. This means that the students do not see comments or ads that show up on YouTube. Most of the other TPT sets also do this, but please make sure before you buy a set.

The Literacy Poster collection includes poems that can be posted on the wall and a matching student version for a poety notebook. The poems used are traditional poems for the season in a range of levels for kindergarten - 2nd grade. They are great for building fluency. Color and black/white versions are included for the student notebooks.

Here is the info. about the giveaway. There are a lot of stores and mine is near the bottom so make sure you keep going to get your points for following the Teacher Treasure Hunter store at TPT. To go to the next blog in this hop, you can scroll down the blog buttons at the bottom of this post. Find the Teacher Treasure Hunter logo near the bottom and click on the next logo. You can do this at each blog so you keep "hopping" and don't miss anything. :) Also, it would be wonderful if you could leave comments on a few blogs - we love to hear from you!!

Because we value our followers and wanted to treat you to our favorite things Oprah style, we have put together the best giveaway of the season! My bloggy friends and I welcome you to the best, biggest, most cheerful event of the season:

7 winners for 7 prize packs!

Come and enter the giveaway and check out my bloggy friends' favorite things:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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