Sunday, February 19, 2012

FREE Books and More

Although I am away on vacation, you are with me in spirit. Follow along with my daily itinerary and snag the deal of the day that relates to it.

Today I'm packing and taking care of last minute details. Translation: I'm off to buy a book for the beach. If I'm being honest I'll probably come home with People Magazine because that's how I roll, but there will be some literature packed away in my carryon. To stick with that theme I am reposting some of my "book related" posts.

As for the deal of the day, the following items are currently marked at 20% off:

Original Post Titled: How to Get Free Books
Original Post Date: 3/26/11

Back in the day (aka high school) we all had to take a test that tapped into our inner being and determined the career that would best suit us. I’m not sure exactly how many impressionable youths were led to their life’s work through this assessment, but clearly it was lacking.

According to the lengthy questionaire (which for the record I did complete truthfully), I was perfect for not one, but two job titles.

I could have been a beautician or a forest ranger.

Let me repeat that..

a beautician

or a forest ranger!

Considering that I went through most of high school with my hair in a pony tail and have made it my goal to avoid nature as much as possible, I opted to go with what I had known I would do since I was in 2nd grade and checked of “education” in the “desired major box” on my college applications.

I did have a runner-up career in my mind though: advertising

I thought it would be fun to write jingles and funny commercials. I also enjoy marketing and sales. I was the type of kid who set sales quotas on my Girl Scout cookie sales and attempted to open many a lemonade business.

So you can imagine how serious I take my monthly Scholastic orders. I get giddy when the colorful, new catalogs arrive. I flip through them over and over like a young kid with the Toys R Us catalog in December. I circle. I highlight. I add post-its to mark selections.

This photo represents one month of my Scholastic orders. I'm, like, salesman of the year or something.

Scholastic is great for building your class library for little or no money. When the students place orders, you earn bonus points which can be used to get books, CDs, and software. Many of you are already familiar with Scholastic so I’ll cut to the tips on how to increase your orders and thus earn more bonus points:

The key is getting the students to look at the catalog so that they don’t just get discarded. I have created several activities that allow them to practice language arts and math skills using the catalogs. This greatly increases the amount of books my class orders because it generates interest in the books. The activities are also excellent to use as time fillers when you have a sub or if you find yourself with a few minutes to spare. The pages make great homework assignments too. I just added the complete set to my online store. For only $5.00...the price of a cup of could bring quality literature to the homes of deserving students and earn yourself a boatload of bonus points as a result.

See, I told you I was meant for sales and marketing ;P

Original Post Titled: Teaching Genre

Original Post Date: 7/8/11

I just updated and posted my 43-page Genre Unit. I use this in my classroom at the beginning of each school year. Since a portion of my library is sorted by genre, it is an important skill to teach. I'll be posting about setting up classroom libraries tomorrow so I thought this would be a timely product to feature.

I'll also be uploading my genre labels that I use in my classroom as a Thank You Freebie when I hit 700 followers...only 19 followers to go...WOO HOO! That's so cah-razzzy to me!


Ten 8.5 x 11 inch charts featuring a the name of the genre, a description and images to provide a visual cue using Thistlegirl Designs clipart


Two tally charts (one to use as a class and one for students to use as individuals). After reading a book, record it using tallies in the appropriate box to track genres.


Students cross off a box after reading a book with the goal of getting 5 boxes in a row, column or diagnoally across. This was deisgned to help encourage your readers to branch out in their selections.


Ten pages of response sheets that require students to identify the genre of a book and support it with details from the text.


Printable cards designed to be used with the following activities.

NAME THAT GENRE (small group or whole class activity)

Give each student a copy of the genre cards. You may want to select a few at a time. Hold up a book from your classroom library and discuss the features. Instruct the children to hold up the correct card.


Create a genre cube by attaching the six fiction genre cards onto square boxes or cubes.


Print 4 sets of the genre cards. Play the same way as regular Go Fish, however, the students need to ask for a card by describing the genre and the person being asks responds with, "Yes I have (name of genre being described)" or "No, I don't have (name of genre being described)"


Print thumbnails of book covers that are familiar to your class / grade level. Use the genre cards as headers and have the students sort the thumbnail cards into the correct category. Program the answer onto the back to make it self-checking. This activity works great with a pocket chart.


Printable 2-sided bookmarks.


Use the cards to play Memory/Concentration by matching the genre card to the correct definition card. This also makes an excellent pocket chart activity center.


Use the colored genre cards as categories. Have the students sort the description cards into the correct category. To make the activity self-correcting you could write the card numbers on the back of the category cards.





When I taught Kindergarten I welcomed Mystery Readers into my classroom. My little ones were so excited to see who the secret guest would be. We had moms, dads, siblings, grandparents and other special friends. I remember getting a note from one of the moms that read, "I listened to my husband practice reading Green Eggs and Ham at least 20 times last night. He makes presentations for a living. The thought of reading to 5 year olds petrifies him." So cute.

I finished my year in K and returned to second grade. Assuming they were too old for that type of thing, I stopped doing mystery reader. I'm not sure why I decided to resume it in 3rd grade a few years back, but I did.

And I'm glad.
The kids adore having mystery readers join us and have a blast with the clues.

It thrills me to see them so excited about anything literacy-related.

I also love that it provides an opportunity to parents to be involved that takes very little time from their busy schedules.

I also find that since they tend to be "independent readers" by the time they enter third, their parents don't sit and read to them as much at home. They like having them read to them in class.

Here's what I do in my room:
I print out a Mystery Reader Sign-Up Book for the year. It includes all of the months we are in school. I fill it in with the dates we are available for a reader. I typically do a daily read aloud and encourage readers to come at that time. However, I'm always happy to accommodate the reader's schedule. I find that first thing in the morning (i.e. before they need to be at work) is best.

I make the sign-up book available at Open House and also fill it in on my own throughout the year.
I ask the reader to provide 5 clues about him/herself. I share only one clue at a time. I start with a vague clue and then get more specific as the arrival time nears.
I have a binder with the cover shown above in the front pocket. I record the clues on the sheet below. I try to take a photo of the reader with their student and the book they shared. I attach that to the space on the page and add the page to the binder. In the event that I don't have my camera, I let the student illustrate a picture. This book remains in our library. It's a favorite to read and inspires the students to read the book that was shared.
I send a reminder before they come and a thank you afterwards. I try to include the photo that I took during their visit. In addition to having "special friends" sign-up, I also recruit administrators, former teachers, specialists, etc. Our custodian is always a favorite!

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