Tuesday, August 21, 2018

“Write On” With This Back to School Activity

Click HERE for more info and pics!

Where does the time go? I admit that I've been missing in action for a bit of time now, but I have a great excuse... KIDS! 

This has been a whirlwind of a year and I'm actually really excited and looking forward to returning to the classroom but it wouldn't be a fun and exciting "Back-to-School" time if I didn't get to share my new Back-to-School activities with you! 

Here are some ideas and tips to help you dive back into your classroom routine. This activity will serve as not only a fun activity, but also provide an opportunity for your students to work on literacy skills and even some social skills. In addition, this activity works to help break the ice. After all, it’s so hard to come back to school after being out all summer, right?!

Providing fun activities that include practicing literacy skills is so important for our students. As a teacher, I feel super successful when I am able to incorporate literacy into other activities and centers in my classroom. I am also always thinking about creative and constructive ways to do this, especially with a classroom of diverse students. This Back-to-School Bus activity meets all of these teaching goals for me! It is designed to not only help students acclimate back into the classroom setting in a fun and easy way, but it provides an avenue for them to reflect and express fond memories about the summer. 

The Back-to-School Bus activity comes with several writing prompts for different age and grade levels. While students are practicing their critical thinking, sentence organization and writing skills, they are actually participating in what feels like a fun art activity. Students are able to creatively express themselves in writing. I know my students love thinking and talking about themselves and their precious experiences so this activity provides that fun opportunity while also engaging students in other ways. It barely feels like schoolwork! 

As a teacher, I will also model how to do this assignment by telling my students about my own wildly fun, and somewhat quick, summer vacation. This ensures engagement and provides a starting point for students. In addition, as an extension to this activity, teachers can have children get into small groups or pairs and discuss their projects in more detail. This extension helps them practice budding social skills and helps me to model appropriate social skills as I flow through the classroom and informally assess them, even though it’s cleverly disguised as fun conversation! This activity provides teachers with a beginning assessment to really see where students are at and what their interests are which is so important at the beginning of the school year, especially. This helps me become a better teacher as I get to know my students in a way that helps me teach them more effectively. 

For this teacher, that is a well-played win =)

Monday, July 30, 2018

Science in the Classroom

Since this is a favorite, I had to once again write about my science-themed, super adorable, lap book that you can use for an assortment of science topics, making it versatile and adaptable for any classroom. I worked to make the foldables as generic as possible. The templates I designed are indicative of how I incorporate these into the classroom. I have also designed templates that are blank so you can be as creative in your own lessons as you want to be. 
The sky’s the limit here!

 As educators, we all know how important science is and how incorporating engaging science lessons and experiences into our curriculum is essential. Often science is one of those subjects that is taught in a straightforward and formal way. I like to think that it doesn’t need to be so systematic and rigid My teaching style exemplifies that and I am sure that other educators feel the same about their teaching styles. STEM is something we are hearing about even more in our schools as it addresses the need for all students to have a broader and more holistic education in the important areas of science, technology, engineering, and math. It is my goal to help my students fall in love with science. I want them to create meaningful learning opportunities for them and help them think like a scientist. 

As a passionate educator, I make it my mission to provide quality lessons and learning experiences to incorporate these important subjects into my teaching as often as possible. I work to creatively intertwine science into other subjects for cross-curriculum learning experiences, too. In addition, teachers have a unique understanding of our students’ need for hands-on and interactive class materials and opportunities. My students like to explore, uncover, unearth, and come to their own fun conclusions. I am honored to help facilitate that! They thrive on lessons that allow them hands-on experimentation.

Using the materials that I have created, they can reflect on their own work, creating a personalized project. This makes it fun and exciting for them as they record their own scientific experiences in a way that is meaningful to them. I am then able to assess their work in a way that meets each student where he or she is at.  As a teacher, one challenge that I am faced with is creating lesson materials that reach all of my students while still relating to the state standards. Plus, I need to make sure my students are always having fun! I strive to create a diverse learning experience for each student while still maintaining the integrity of the lesson. Science is no exception and this lap science-themed lap book meets this goal.

Another great aspect of creating science materials for my classroom is that I am able to incorporate other subject matter into my science lessons in a subtle way. The science-themed lap books I have created incorporate other subjects in a way that accommodates the unique needs of a diverse classroom of students. For example, many of my students are more successful with hands-on and visual components. The lapbook not only provides this, but allows them to explore the world and subject matter in a way that helps them think like an actual scientist. Scientists conduct research to learn. With this creative lapbook, students can act like a mini-scientist, by asking questions and organizing their thoughts. This science activity not only helps keep my children engaged, but it also allows them to personalize their scientific process and provides an interactive, scientific learning experience.


Saturday, January 27, 2018

Six Awesome Valentine’s Day Activities for your Class

Valentine’s Day is an excellent opportunity to teach your students values that will stay with them for life. Valentine’s Day encourages kindness between classmates. By making a kind gesture for their classmates, they learn to be selfless. Compassion is a quality that will serve them throughout their lifetime.

Valentine’s Day is a day of love! You get your class to learn about expressing love and the way love shapes their world.

The day also promotes friendship. Students can strengthen the bonds between their friends by sharing how much they love and care for them. You can also share stories with your class of the power of friendship.

Best of all Valentine’s Day allows you to be creative. With some simple items, your class can learn all these qualities while growing their creative, artistic, and design abilities.  Here are six excellent activities, you can try with your class to celebrate the day of love!
1. Design Your Cards
Valentine’s Day is a great time to exchange cards expressing appreciation. Let your class create cards for each other, and also their parents and siblings. In the cards, they can write a poem or thoughtful phrase that they make up, encouraging their creativity.

2. Create Valentine’s Day Boxes
With some cardboard, markers, and glitter, your class can create fun boxes where they can keep their Valentine’s Day cards, notes, and gifts each year. You can even have this as a homework assignment. Let your students create them at home and bring them in to be entered in a class contest.

3. Decorate the Door
Have your class come up with a fun theme for the classroom door. Then, with some construction paper, glue (or tape) you can create a special message of love and kindness for others to see. If you want to get the other classes in your school involved, turn it into a fun competition.

4. Friendship Bracelets
Nothing says love more than a friendship bracelet. With some string and beaded letters, your class can create and swap bracelets with their friends. You can also have them discuss the best things about having friends, and share some examples of great friendships. Celebrating friendship also is handy if your school does not encourage celebrating Valentine’s Day.
Two Awesome Valentine’s Day Resources
Straight from the TpT store, a friend of mine from Learn and Beans put together these fun resources to make Valentine’s Day a fun, learning experience. I was so excited to use these. They were so effective in my class!

5.Valentines Day Writing Craft


These Writing Crafts come with four face options that your students can color and add to cards. These can be paired with one of the nine writing templates than encourages the kids to write about Love, Friends, Kindness, or whatever comes to mind. These crafts can be added to cards or exchanged as Valentine’s in the classroom.

Who knew math and love go hand in hand? There’s a secret message in this printable activity.
To solve Valentine’s day message, students must use math to decode the message. With one
addition and one subtraction puzzle,  kids can team up or take it on their own. Make it competitive!
First to solve the puzzle gets a prize!

These activities can be used at almost any stage from Pre-K to 6th Grade. Find ways to make them
more appealing and challenging to your students. Valentine’s Day is a great time to bring your class
together. Use the momentum of love, kindness, and cooperation to fuel your teaching for the rest of
the school term!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Nonfiction Reading Can Accelerate Children's Learning. Here’s How...

As classrooms become more interactive, the use of nonfiction in class to improve learning is decreasing.  There is data to back it up. According to a study by Duke, nonfiction books make up 9.8 percent of classroom libraries. Nonfiction can open your class to the nuts and bolts of the world, but it does a little more than that.

How can Nonfiction help?
I felt there was a gap in the volume of non-fiction used in our classrooms. As an advocate, I know nonfiction shapes the way students see the world. It can help them find themselves and their place in it. Furthermore, it improves student success!

We need to expose our students to more books, magazines, and newspapers. Here are the benefits your class can get from reading more non-fiction:

  • It Improves Reading

Nonfiction has been proven to improve the speed and competence of reading. They may contain complex and challenging words and phrases. That’s fine! It stretches and challenges your class to make connections. They will identify words later in life and breeze through it. Getting ahead of the curve sets your students up for larger pieces of nonfiction in the future.

  • It Enriches Imagination

With practical knowledge on a particular subject, kids can create a more vivid interpretation of people, places, and situations in their imagination. This brings out the improved creativity in the areas of science, and math. Enhanced imagination brings more analytical thinking and a
more holistic view of the world.

  • It Accelerates Comprehension

If you measure the comprehension of your class (with more nonfiction), you will notice an easier time understanding more complex words and phrases. Non-fiction encourages them to ask the right questions. They can also make associations with similar words and phrases in other books - fiction or otherwise - as they move up grades. You will discover the quality of communication with their classmates skyrockets.

  • Grades Go Up

Improved comprehension means improved grades! Kids can call on past stories, and integrate them in future tests. Nonfiction reading improves students’ critical thinking, patience, and resilience. Watch them solve difficult math, writing, and science tasks better. Nonfiction encourages them to help others, improving their learning as a result.

Nonfiction Passages for Reading Comprehension
As I needed more creative ways to introduce non-fiction and motivate my class to read, I created some handy resources to share with teachers who have similar concerns.

I’ve implemented these during reading groups, homework, and even class assessments. As added learning, I have students highlight difficult words and research their meanings. These downloadable templates will be as critical for you as they have been for me.

Volume 1 contains passages on topics that interest kids but still encourages learning. Have them explore rain with The Water Cycle, or understand how Bears hibernate. They can explore outer space or learn about pioneers like Rosa Parks, or Thomas Edison. Assess their understanding with three multiple-choice questions, and a writing prompt for students to complete on the reverse.

Volume 2 gives you another fifteen short stories that push the boundaries of your students’ understanding. These printables cover facts like the History of Chewing Gum,  The First Man on the moon, and Strange Plants. Get them involved after reading with questions and writing prompts to reinforce understanding.

Nonfiction reading will have a positive impact on your classroom. These two templates will get you started by introducing more non-fiction. They have been a useful support tool for getting my students engaged, and attentive. I’ve also seen great strides in grades. I’m sure you’ll agree, non-fiction is one of the best ways to set them up for success.

Back to School Resources

Like many of you...I can't believe summer is over!! I spent a lot of time creating resources I can use in my classroom but didn't have the time to share them with you here. So I'm going to take this time to share a few different items with you!

BACK-TO-SCHOOL FLIPBOOK - Self-Assessment Style
Make "getting to know" your students more meaningful with this fun and engaging back-to-school activity that will provide you with AUTHENTIC student data.
Students self-asses their strengths and challenges, and even set goals for the year.

Templates are EDITABLE so you can change them to fit your individual class needs.

Let's face it...kids are going to look at the clock! But instead of telling them to focus on their work and not the time, let these posters do it for you!

Remind them to "FOCUS" or let them know "YOU MATTER"!! Includes 5 posters in 8 different colors. Mix and Match for a colorful display or use a solid color to match your classroom decor!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Pete the Cat FREEBIE

Wow! I can't believe an entire school year has gone by and I haven't written one blog post since August! Needless to say...I've been busy. 
This was my first year back in the classroom after going into administration for 3 years and it took some time getting back into the swing of things. I created so many things that I needed for my room (and I purchased some really amazing resources on TpT!) 
It's going to take a while for me to get it uploaded onto TpT though because I have to make changes to the things that worked and didn't work. In the meantime, I did start my new "Book Buddy" product line. I was inspired to create something that I could easily print with no prep that goes along with the stories I was reading in class. I hope you find it as useful in your classroom as it was in mine.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Back 2 School Giveaway

Is it that time of year already??
What better way to start the school year than with a TpT shopping spree and a gift card to purchase anything you want! (Like maybe those new shoes you wanted!) Earn entries by following my TpT store, my blog, and by sharing this giveaway with friends, family and followers on your own social media sites.

 This giveaway includes a $25 TpT Gift Certificate AND a $50 Visa Gift Card!!

Thank you for participating and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

CONGRATULATIONS CATHY! And thank you everyone who entered my Back-2-School Giveaway!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Dr. Seuss Themed Decor

As promised...here are some pics of the Dr. Seuss crate seats I created (see the post below this one on how to do-it-yourself).

With the extra material, I created a "READ" sign for my Dr. Seuss themed library:

Wood letters from Michaels (on sale for .99 each)...

I painted each letter in a Dr. Seuss themed color...

I cut out images from the extra material I had from the crate seats (above)...

I laid the images on the letters to see where I liked it...

Once the cloth images were placed where I wanted it, I pulled out the MOD PODGE!!!

I brushed it on the back of the cloth images and then brushed the images on the letters...

My first self-created sign! It's still a little wet, but I got over excited and wanted to take pictures to show my husband who was at work =)

My next Dr. Seuss project is a wooden chair and then a book shelf. If it comes out half-way decent, I'll post the pictures =)

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Crate Seats for the Classroom

I decided to create those adorable crate seats that I see all over Pinterest for my classroom this year. I'm going to do a Dr.Seuss Theme and I'm so excited about it! 

I know, I know, It's JULY! School doesn't start until September!! 
But after 2 years of coaching Principals and APs, I can't wait to get back into the classroom with the kids.

As I shopped for the material, my 4 year old kept asking me, "Is that for me mommy? Are you making those for me?" How could I break her little heart and tell her it's for the kids in my class!? I COULDN'T! Soooooo, I asked her to choose the material she liked and had her help me make my first crate seat...for her =)

  • Crate: $3.97 @Walmart
  • 1 Yard of material: $5.47 @Walmart
  • Foam Cushion & Padding: (don't remember price) @Michaels
  • Wood (I purchased 4 pieces) $7 total @Home Depot (I brought the crate with me, they measured & cut it for me)
  • Staple Gun and staples
The crates at Walmart have the "lip" inside it where the wood can sit...not all crates have this so make sure you purchase one that does. Also, make sure when they cut the wood they leave a little wiggle room to fit the padding and material.

I laid the wood on the foam pad to trace...

My little peanut did the tracing...

So easy a 4 year old can do it...

I wrapped the foam and the wood with padding (the foam made the seat comfy, but the wood corners were still a little too pointy. Wrapping everything with padding made the entire piece softer to the touch)...

Next, I wrapped the entire piece in the material my daughter chose, and stapled it into the wood...


 Finished Seat...


Now that she's happy, I'll have her help me make my Dr. Seuss chairs and decorations! I'll post pics when I'm done...can't wait!