Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Favorite January Read Alouds!

One of my favorite parts of the day is our read alouds!  I was trying to think back to exactly when I started doing read alouds, but I honestly can't remember how or why I started...  guess that is my old age taking over!

Each week we have a main read aloud that I use to teach the reading skill(s) for the week.  I also do several other read alouds throughout the week, but we might not dig as deep into them as the main one.

For the main read aloud I pretty much follow a pattern each week.  On Monday, we read the whole story cover to cover and focus a lot on prediction skills.  The rest of the days we work on different reading skills and vocabulary.  Somedays we reread the whole story, but other days we might only read a page or two.  It really depends on what we are doing.  Then on Friday we WRITE!  We use a writing prompt that somehow ties to our story to get the kids focused on writing to a prompt for the BIG state test at the end of the year.  (Like it or not...  it is always in the back of my mind.)

Many years ago a parent gave me a beautiful basket.  At the beginning of the month I stock the basket with read aloud books that go with the month, holiday, or season.  I keep all of my read aloud books in a special teacher only place so that the kids haven't read them yet.  If we have a few minutes of down time we pick a book to read to class and discuss.  I've been doing the monthly book basket for about three years and I think it really is excellent idea.  The kids love it and beg to reread a book from the basket on their own that I have already shared with the class.  (Whatever it takes to get them to love books works for ME!)  They are really good about only reading the ones we have shared.

Here are some of my favorite read alouds for January.

Martin's Big Words - By Doreen Rappaport

This is a MUST read!  The illustrations are amazing and the vocabulary is so rich!  We select unknown words as we read and make a list on chart paper.  Then we work in groups to come up with a definition that is kid friendly based on what is happening in the book.  I am lucky that for this book I actually have several copies so the kids can put them in their hands while I read!

Snowmen at Night - By Caralyn Buehner

We love this!  It is a favorite!  This is story is great for sequencing and prediction.  The kids get a big kick out of trying to name all of the different things that the snowmen do at night and then put them in the right order.  We do a writing prompt that is so much fun!  

Here is the prompt we use:

During Snowmen at Night the snowmen come to life and do some amazing things.  What do mailboxes do at night while we sleep?  How about your lunchbox?  Select an object that doesn't move and write a story about their crazy adventure at night while you sleep!  

The Missing Mitten Mystery - By Steven Kellogg

This is a book that we spend a few days working on!  We focus on what a mystery is.  I am always shocked at how many of the kids don't exactly know what a mystery is.  We focus on a bunch of different skills because the kids love this book.   We write about something that we lost and leave off the ending.  Then we pick a few to read to the class and the kids work in groups to make predictions of how they found their item.  It is a great reinforcer for making sure your story provides the reader with enough details.  This book is always a hit with the kids!

We work on identifying the beginning, middle, and end of the story.  We make this flip flap book.  Under the flaps the kids write in detail what happens during each section.  

We work on sequencing using this printable.  I just print them out and give the kids construction paper to cut and glue them into the correct order.  This is a great activity for partners.  Just click on the printable to see the whole packet of printables that go with this cute book.  

These are just a few of my favorites for January!  I hope one of them is something you can add to your collection.  


Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Start 2018 Off Writing Some RESOLUTIONS!

Today I started working on my plans for January!  Each year I try SUPER HARD to get ORGANIZED!    Making lists and planning some fun ways to get back in the swing when we get back.  

I always like to start off with having the kids do some writing about their New Year resolutions.  I am always amazed at the number of kids that have no idea what a resolution is.  We talk about how they are like goals that we set for ourselves.  Once they learn how to use the word, they try so hard to get that "BIG" word in every sentence they can. 

We are going to start out by focusing on some resolutions for school and some for home.   We brainstorm and make some lists of things we might want to consider.  Then we WRITE, EDIT, and SHARE!  After we do that we publish our writing on some fun paper!  (You can get it below for FREE!). Once we finish our writing we hang them in the hall.  When we take them down, we put them in our writing portfolios.  I like to have the kids bring them out at the end of grading period to see how we are doing on meeting those resolutions.  

I keep all of the kids writing and projects in portfolios.  We used manila folders that we decorated.  I put them in a giant plastic tub.  As we complete things to put in them, I just drop the stack of papers in the tub.  About once a month, we get them out and look at them.  I have a few kids pass out the things that haven't been put into the folders yet, while they talk with their table about how much progress they have made.  At the end of the year, we take them home.  It's a really great way to end the year and the kids have something special to take home.  If you haven't start portfolios for your kiddos yet, it is never to late!  You can do one starting in 2018!    

My New Year writing paper just had a revamp and best of all it is a FREEBIE!  Click on the picture to download the file so that you can get a jump start on your plans.  The paper comes in lots of options!  You can pick the size of lines you want and also in color or printer friendly!  I like to print a bunch of the different color options off (thanks to HP Instant Ink of course!) and let the kids pick which one they want.

I hope everyone is getting themselves organized for 2018...  THE BEST YEAR EVER!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Give Task Cards a Try and a Gift Card Drawing!

YES!!!!  It is finally here!  The annual TPT Cyber Sale! 
November 27th and 28th!
Save up to 25%!!!!!!
Want to win some TPT cash?  
Just click on the picture below to visit my Facebook page to enter!  
One winner will be drawn Nov. 27th at 9:00 p.m.!

Tasks cards....  where have you been all my teaching life?  Better yet...  all my life!  I know that I would have loved them as a student.

My kids and I use task cards all of the time.  We use them for both math and ELA.  Sometimes I use them as a pretest to see where the kids are and then we do the set again to see the GROWTH!

Task cards are great to play a game of SCOOT!  Scoot is super easy and keeps the kids engaged!  Just print out a set of task cards and hang them all over the room.  Sometimes I hang them in order and sometimes I don't.  Assign each student a card to start at.  Once we start, they read the card, record their answer on their sheet, and wait for the bell.  I use a bell sound on my phone to signal for them to move to the next card.  You can also say "SCOOT" or use any ringtone that you have.   Everyone moves from card to card around the room.

If two kids are at the card at the same time, no problem.  Some of the kids work a little slower and it is perfectly OK with me for them to take their time and do their BEST WORK!  The task card in this picture is in orange.  I print a lot of the task cards on colored copy paper to save ink. 

For a little variety, sometimes I just project the cards on my board. 

We use dry erase markers and write our answers on white boards.  I really like this way because I can walk around and see really quick who has the correct answers and who needs more help!

If you haven't given task cards a try yet, why not give it a shot!

Once you try them, I PROMISE you will be hooked and so will your kids!  I can't even explain how excited they are when they come in and see the cards hung around the room!  Are we playing this morning?  I must get asked that a million times!  They are so quiet when we play and you can see the engagement in their eyes!  Makes a teacher's heart HAPPY!  

We also use them in centers and for extra practice.  Just put the cards in a baggie or folder and the kids can practice them with a partner.  I even send them home with different kids from time to time.  

Still not sure?  Will you try it for FREE?  Download one of my freebies and see what you think?  I know you and your kiddos will love task cards as much as we do!

Just click on the picture below to go to my TPT store and download them for FREE!

If you love them, please leave me a blog comment below or feedback on TPT.  A Valentine freebie set is in the works, so check back soon!

Happy Teaching!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Back to School... Some Favorites!

Back to School brings lots of new things!  
I want to share my top 5 favorite things about my classroom this year!

The best part of this post, is that each of these adorable pictures 
are linked to my favorite things!

Where have you been all my life?  I mean SERIOUSLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

How fun is it when all your reading centers are in colored ink?  Every math game comes to life!  Best of all no more COLORING things in!

If you don't have HP Instant Ink....  don't walk....  RUN and get yourself signed up!

The program is really simple.  Sign up for the service and your printer lets HP know to send you ink. No more running out at 1:00 in the morning to buy ink!  The ink comes right to your mailbox.

They have different plan levels from $2.99 to $9.99 a month.  I am on the $9.99 plan.  That gives me 300 copies a month!  Unused copies roll over to the next month.  (One catch is that you can only bank 300 copies in the roll over)

If you have an HP printer that is wireless you already may be in luck!  You can check on the link to see if you already have what you need. (Just click on the cute kid above!)

I bought the HP Envy 5540 at Best Buy for less than $75.   Turns out that I could have gotten a better deal at CostCo, so make sure you check them out before you buy.   Also check online for some great deals at Amazon and Walmart.  I have a few friends that have bought one the last few weeks and have gotten some great deals!

Once you have your printer, all you need to do is log in on the site and set up your account.  The huge bonus is that you can enter promo codes to get free MONTHS!  Yes, FREE MONTHS!

When I signed up I used two codes and got 7 free months of ink!  These codes worked for me and also for my friend last week, so give them a try.



Don't forget to check your box because you might have scored 3 more free months like my friend did!

I promise if you only give yourself one gift this year....  MAKE IT INSTANT INK!

I am always looking for new sites for the kids to use in the classroom and this summer I discovered a WINNER!


Zearn is a free independent learning program that allows the students to work at their own pace mastering their math skills.

It is rated as a Tier 1 instructional program with proven research based results.  You can read all about it on their site.

This is my first year using it and so far I am impressed with it!  The kids seem to really be engaged and want to get extra time on the computer to work on it some more!

Take a peek at it and see if it will help your kiddos!

This book is FANTASTIC!

This is one of my favorite ways to start the school year off and we always revisit this clip every so often to help use make sure....

We aren't being a VOLCANO!

At the end of last year I read about NAIER and had to take a look!

NAIER is basically a teacher paradise with all kinds of supplies we need at HUGE discount prices!

You have to apply to be a teacher member and it does take a few weeks to get approved, but it is worth the wait!

I ordered 24 rolls of Scotch brand packing tape, 12 tablets of sticky notes that were 12x12, 6 rolls of duct tape, markers, pens, tape dispensers, and more!

Total cost.....  $47

Yes, you read that one right!  The only drawback is that it does take a few weeks to get your order, but it is so WORTH the WAIT!

If you haven't checked it out yet....  take a look!

Well...  that one is a WISH!!!!!!!!!  A classroom that is all set and ready is just a DREAM!  Every year I stress and worry that the kids will be disappointed if everything isn't perfect.

THEY DON'T CARE!  All they want to do is spend time with YOU!  The decorations, name tags, and color coded stuff can come later.  All they want to do the first week is spend time with YOU!

It is so easy to get tangled up in all of the stressful issues that surround us each day, but this year celebrate the JOY and SUCCESS!  That joy and success is far more important than anything else!

I hope everyone has a wonderful school year.  Enjoy every minute with your kiddos.

Happy Teaching!