Monday, October 31, 2011

No Tricks, Just a Treat


Boo!

Did I scare you?

I know what you're thinking.

I just survived Halloween in the classroom. Nothing can scare me.

If Thanksgiving can always be on a Thursday and Columbus Day on a Monday then I think it would be easy enough to shift Halloween to a Saturday annually. As an added bonus that would make Sugar-Crash Day fall on a Sunday. Win-Win!

Since teaching on Halloween can feel like a Trick, I thought it would be a nice night for a Treat.

I created a cute and easy game to practice the higher level sight words from the Dolch List. It has a Thanksgiving theme and would make a super-easy center. Feel free to add your own cards to customize the word lists along with my Gobble cards. It's very much like my Popcorn Sight Word Game.

Just click on the "My Products" button over on the right and scroll down to snag your free copy.
free download game sight words Thanksgiving turkey kindergarten first grade second grade third grade word study literacy center printable freebie homeschool classroom games

Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the FreebiesClick here to access a collection of Teacher Tips or tour my Classroom Makeover here.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Turning of the Calendar



What a bizarre October it has been. You would think that since I have lived my entire life (save for two glorious years in which I had the privilege of calling myself a Floridian) in New England, weather wouldn't phase me. Yet, I can say that October 2011 found me both at the beach on an almost 90 degree day and shoveling my driveway on a 19 degree morning...with the appropriate sprinkling of pumpkin patch and apple orchard fun in the middle. I'm still shaking my head.

Although the calendar won't officially turn to November until Tuesday, I'm getting a jump start and rolling out my new November products today. I'll feature each individually as I complete them with my friends so you can see pictures of how they played out in my classroom.

Truth be told I would love to turn the calendar today and skip tomorrow entirely because let's face it, Halloween on a Monday is just a cruel joke to play on teachers everywhere. But, I digress.

I'm still putting the finishing touches on my super-awesome-can't-wait-to-use-it-with-my-kids Pilgrims and Wampanoag Project. It will be uploaded by Wednesday at the latest. I love teaching that unit. I also have a few more "Thanksgiving-ish" projects in the works.

Here's what's new for November. All of the items are under $4.00. Click on the individual links below or on the "My Products" button on the right.


How to Cook a Turkey ~ A Class Book or Individual Writing Project

Turkey in Disguise - This one makes a great homework assignment / Family Project. It can also be used in class.

Favorite Thanksgiving Day Foods - Graphing and Writing Activities

Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the FreebiesClick here to access a collection of Teacher Tips or tour my Classroom Makeover here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Online Timer - classroom management series


This post is part of my Classroom Management Series. Click here to read other posts from the series.

Tick Tock.

Tick Tock.

I had a college professor that was notorious for ending every class by saying, "a teacher's greatest obstacle is the clock." I thought he was a bit nuts. Turns out the man knew what he was talking about.

This week I'm going to share my tips for staying on a schedule.


Using a timer in the classroom is somewhat standard. I used it for years. It kept me on schedule, but I can't say that it helped my students. They would plug along at their assignments and suddenly a beeping noise would signal them to stop.

These days I use an online timer and really feel it helps my friends better manage their time. I feared the visual would be distracting, but it hasn't been a problem. The counting down clock is a great tool for keeping them on task.

We use it for everything from snack to guided reading. I keep it running on my desktop computer since I'm never at the desk. Setting the clock at the start of a lesson is one of the jobs I assign to a student.

Here's the link to the clock I use: Online Egg Timer (I like it in the full screen mode)



managing a classroom classroom routines classroom procedures best practices classroom management ideas classroom management tips classroom management pictures classroom management strategies effective classroom management plan examples of classroom procedures elementary classroom procedures primary classroom procedures middle school classroom procedures kindergarten classroom procedures first grade classroom procedures sample classroom procedures manual harry wong first days of school rules routines daily classroom routines that really work children printable free freebie second grade third grade fourth grade fifth grade education behavior management clutter free classroom organized classroom tips for organizing a classroom

Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the FreebiesClick here to access a collection of Teacher Tips or tour my Classroom Makeover here.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Magic Button

This was the week that the magic button was pushed.

You know about the magic button, right?

I don't know where the magic button is located or who is responsible for pushing it, but doing so instantly makes everything click and the classroom runs itself.

I first suspected that the button had been pushed when I realized that all of our reading books were put back facing the same direction. I noticed the same was true for their writers' notebooks. Each of those little speckled books was stacked neatly with their black bindings perfectly aligned. As I slowly looked around the room I spotted additional evidence.

The lunch cards (which I had been setting up daily after dismissal) were organized and the next day's lunch choices were on display. The whiteboard that had read "October 19, 2011" in MY handwriting now read "October 20, 2011" in the finest third grade penmanship.

Not wanting to call it too soon (for fear of jinxing myself) I spent the next day carefully observing my little charges.

And the magic was there.

Each transition went smoothly. No time was wasted. Friends helped each other and encouraged each other. When we returned from lunch, not only did the entire class immediately go to the rug for read aloud, but someone had thoughtfully taken Charlotte's Web down off the shelf and placed it on my seat. When I signaled it was time for Reader's Workshop, I noticed one of my students slid an extra chair over to the small group table so their would be six seats available when I started guided reading groups before she went to get her own book bag and settle in to a cozy book nook to work on her independent work.

I love the magic!

It allows us to get so much accomplished and the feeling of community is so special.

Since I've highlighted my spider writing projects and Haunted House for Sale projects, I wanted to give you a look at the finished work on display.

I've really been focused this year on adding in opportunities for creativity as often as possible. We've ended each week with "Crafty Friday" and I've made the projects and supplies available during indoor recess. My goal was to provide them with more opportunities for some simple, fun projects. However, the surprise bonus has been the way it has really inspired them as writers. Knowing their work will be published and displayed weekly has been so motivating for them.


Isn't that board cute? I fell in love with the candy corn border at Lakeshore a few weeks ago and absolutely had to buy it. I used a bag of the fake spider web stuff for the background. The kids went all kinds of crazy when they saw that. It's the little things in life.

Our Pumpkin Projects will be rolling in tomorrow. I can't wait to see them.

We spent this past week working on data in math. I'm looking forward to sharing an integrated math and writing project with you this week as well.

As I mentioned last week, our Treasures main selection had us focused on Antarctica. While I was initially not too keen on rocking the penguins and polar bears during spider and bat season, my friends and I had a blast learning about those adorable little arctic critters. Gosh do they love all things non-fiction.

As a bonus, we completed some impressive writing and made some mighty cute penguins. I thought they were perfect they way they were, but there was a request to add scarves, hats, and earmuffs to them so I suppose they are now a "work in progress."

I'll be neatly putting them into storage for the next few weeks and will happily have a winterish bulletin board ready to go when we return from Thanksgiving break. You know I like to plan ahead.

If you need a fun, seasonal activity for this upcoming week swing by my products page and download the Witch's Brew Adjective FREEBIE!

Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the FreebiesClick here to access a collection of Teacher Tips or tour my Classroom Makeover here.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Trick or Treat and Jingle Bells



Today marked our second fall outing of the season. We did the apple picking journey a few weeks ago and today we loaded up the littles for some pumpkin patch fun. Both times the places were MOBBED! I'm talking crazy crowds. We New Englanders love us some fall photo ops.

Speaking of fall and pumpkins and all things October...

Have you read this book?


It is an absolute riot! I love using it as a mentor text for teaching voice.

You'll especially love it if you grew up in the 70s or early 80s.

It's by Jerry Seinfeld and it oozes his personality. So much so that one of my students last year actually stopped me to say, "I have a connection. The character reminds me of the bee from the Bee Movie" (which in case you didn't know is also Jerry Seinfeld).

We wrapped up our Spider Mini-Study last week. It was perfectly tied into the curriculum and also felt oh-so-Halloweeny. As I mentioned yesterday, they're writing was UNREAL!!! I want to keep that ball rolling so this week I am going to repeat the same activities (Schema Chart, Tree Map, informative writing). However, I don't want to veer from the curriculum so I am going to work with this week's Main Selection in Treasures.

Wait for it...

Penguin Chick

I'm such a seasonally thematic girl and studying penguins in the month of October has me all kinds of twitchy. But, I'm going to roll with it.

I spent a good chunk of the weekend researching those cute little fellows with their happy feet. And all that snow and ice has me thinking about and getting giddy for Christmas.

So as I type this I am sipping hot apple cider from my most-favorite-pink-flamingo-wearing-a-Santa-hat- standing-on-one-foot-under-a-palm-tree-with-Christmas-lights-mug. Which allows me to conveniently sign this off with a Seinfeld quote, "My worlds are colliding!"





Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the FreebiesClick here to access a collection of Teacher Tips or tour my Classroom Makeover here.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Spider Writing & Schema Chart


This kit can be purchased and downloaded for  by clicking here



I had a blast focusing on spiders with my class during writing. Their level of enthusiasm made for an entire week of on task learning. We began by writing things that we “knew” about spiders on Post-It notes and placed them under the title, “My Schema.” I read several non-fiction books and discussed the elements (glossary, index, table of contents, photos, captions, etc). We discussed main idea and detail. Throughout the week we added Post-Its to the “New Learning” category and moves some of our schema over to misconceptions.



Armed with an abundance of newfound arachnid knowledge the students filled in their own charts completing the prompts: spiders can..., spiders are..., and spiders have...

We used the charts to complete the top-down writing web and then wrote the draft.

After editing with the teacher, the students wrote their final copies. I always try to culminate our writing projects with a simple art project. We created handprint spiders to accent their wonderful work.


This kit was created to be used by teachers in grades K-5. The materials were designed to make modifications easy within your classroom.


The Primary Pages above were tested and approved by my 6 year old son.

Included in this kit you will find the following spider-themed items:
a 5 detail web to organize writing
a 3 detail web to organize writing
primary-ruled draft paper
intermediate-ruled draft paper
primary-ruled final product paper
intermediate-ruled final product paper
a “Can / Have / Are” graphic organizer
headings for a Schema Tree Map

Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the FreebiesClick here to access a collection of Teacher Tips or tour my Classroom Makeover here.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Attendance and Lunch Card Charts - classroom management series


This post is part of my Classroom Management Series. Click here to read other posts from the series.

I couldn't pass up these two standing pocket charts when I laid my eyes on them at the sacred ground known as the Target Dollar Spot last summer. I had no idea what I would do with them at the time, but they jumped into my big red cart.


They sat in my classroom closet as we kicked off the 2010-2011 school year, but then sometime around December they made their appearance. At my school we need to take attendance and lunch count.

This handy-dandy chart does both. I have a number for each of my students which is put into numerical order for easy finding in one chart. The other chart houses the menu choices du jour.

As part of our morning routine, the students move their number from one chart and place it next to their lunch choice on the other chart.


I simply went through the school menu and typed up a lunch card for the menu items that are served. I keep all of them in the back of the chart along with the
menu. My helper of the day sets the cards up for the next day once the count is recorded.

You could certainly use a regular pocket chart.

Or an interactive board if you are fancier than me.

But, if you have some Target pocket charts kicking around because you couldn't pass them by either, this might be perfect for you too.



managing a classroom classroom routines classroom procedures best practices classroom management ideas classroom management tips classroom management pictures classroom management strategies effective classroom management plan examples of classroom procedures elementary classroom procedures primary classroom procedures middle school classroom procedures kindergarten classroom procedures first grade classroom procedures sample classroom procedures manual harry wong first days of school rules routines daily classroom routines that really work children printable free freebie second grade third grade fourth grade fifth grade education behavior management clutter free classroom organized classroom tips for organizing a classroom

Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the FreebiesClick here to access a collection of Teacher Tips or tour my Classroom Makeover here.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Categories & Scattergories


A little bit of "categories"...a little bit of "scattergories."

We did both today.

It was really pure coincidence, but I like when things flow like that.

We're studying data and graphing in math. Ultimately the kiddos will need to sort data into categories, pose a question, and create a visual to represent their findings.

I know, right?

It's a lot for their little 8 year old brains to grasp. Ultimately it clicks, but I always find the "forming categories" to be the most challenging part. We had a breakthrough moment today when I related the concept to sections of the grocery store (produce, canned goods, meats, freezer). Wish I thought of that one sooner.

This afternoon I debuted Scattergories as our Word Study Activity.

So. Much. Fun!
I'm really focusing on Word Study as opposed to just "spelling" this year and have been designing some games and activities to go with it. I wanted to come up with some materials that could be used week after week by simply changing out the word patterns. My hope was that they would become familiar with the directions which would make the activities more efficient and beneficial to them.

Scattergories was a huge hit...with them and me. We worked with the CVCe pattern (better known as "Magic E"). The students were give a pattern (i.e. "-ate" or "-ice) and had several minutes to brainstorm as many words as they could think of that included the pattern.

The goal was to include words that nobody else had listed.

After the time period ended, I manned the chart paper and began taking words from volunteers.

A child would say a word.

I would write it on the chart and ask, "Does anyone else have that word on their list?".

If other students had also written the word down on the chart paper they would give the silent "me too" signal in response.

If the word is on more than one students' paper then they would draw a line through it. If a child was the only one to think of the word he would circle it and I added a star on the chart next to the word.

I was impressed with the words they came up with and we had a great time building our lists.

Here's a peek at some of the other games and activities in my Word Study Centers kit. On Friday I am going to break out the Follow the Yellow Brick Word Study Road game. If only I had ruby red slippers for it's unveiling.



Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the FreebiesClick here to access a collection of Teacher Tips or tour my Classroom Makeover here.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Talk About a Teachable Moment


We've been reading Charlotte's Web (insert sigh here as it is one of my favorites).


This week our focus in Treasures in on nonfiction texts.

Add those together and throw in a bit of "it's October" for good measure and you have the perfect recipe for a mini-unit on spiders.

I kicked it off by completing the "Our Schema" section of our map.

And then I began reading a book chock full of spider facts and amazing photographs.

At one point I looked out at my friends before me and I laughed. I laughed hard.

It was one of those moments where I wished I had a snapshot of what I saw because every single one of my 21 students was staring at the book I was holding and every single one of them had a look that showed their true feelings. Boys were salivating at the cool factor of creatures that turn their prey's insides to liquid and drink it while the girls had looks of disgust. Some did that thing I do at a scary movie where I watch it through a screen that I make with my own hands. It was hysterical.

After reading about the above dining habits of spiders, we revisited the chapter titled, "Charlotte." E.B. White describes the same process through Charlotte's own words. We discussed how he must have done some research prior to writing his fiction story. There were many light bulbs that went off.

And then it happened.

As if on cue.

As I sat in front of my friends with 100% of their attention focused upon me and the two books in my lap, a spider descended from above on a line of silk and hung just to the left of my head.

And the crowd went wild.

WILD!!

I'm quite certain that each of them believes that I did in fact plan my real life Miss Muffett moment. Pure magic.





Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the FreebiesClick here to access a collection of Teacher Tips or tour my Classroom Makeover here.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Turkey in Disguise - a creative writing project




Since we have the day off today (Thanks Mr. Columbus), my son and I tried out my latest product: Turkey in Disguise. I've done this in 3rd grade for the past several years, but just made it prettier for it's TPT listing. I'll do the full write-up once I use it with my class, but I had a blast today watching my son disguise his turkey as an artist. Since I try to make all of my products adaptable for grades 1-5 and to allow for differentiated instruction, I'm loving having a live-in first grader to try things out on.

In other news...yesterday's weather did not disappoint. It's been a lovely weekend. I think 3 day weekends would be ideal. We had a "get together with family day" on Saturday, a "do what we want" day on Sunday, and a "get chores done around the house" day on Monday. I also finally managed to get caught up on my Classroom Management Series. Woo Hoo! How did you spend your weekend?





Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the FreebiesClick here to access a collection of Teacher Tips or tour my Classroom Makeover here.

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