Saturday, January 31, 2015

Stop, Swap and Roll with a Giveaway!

Jungle Learners is hosting a cool swap!  Click on the link to hop on over!

I was paired with Mrs. Mouse!
I love her store name!  Is it her real name?  Nope!  But thanks to some cute kindergarteners who got confused with the name Mrs. Mize, a new name was born!
For the swap, I got a fantastic product!
I haven't met a student who can't benefit from a great file folder game this this!
You get frying pans labeled with short and long 5, sorting eggs, a recording sheet, and do you see those eagles and eggs?  They can be printed out as stickers and placed on the back of the eggs so kids can self-correct.  I LOVE when they can check over their own work.  The set comes in printer-friendly black and white too.  That's always appreciated.
Here's one of my students sorting the eggs after short and long e word work. Below, you see the self-checking.  To make it easier for me, I ended up putting the eagles and eggs on the backs of these eggs but went to my "Star" method to save time on the other four file folder games I made.  You can see that below.  Same concept!


You can see the recording sheet here and the alternate "Stars" Self-Checking I used.

My kids loved this fun sorting activity and we're going to be using more in Mrs. Mouse's BUNDLED package which you can win from her TpT Store!  How cool is that?
Click on link below my signature to enter.  Sorry I couldn't get it to show up here.  Head on over to Mrs. Mouse's Blog and enter for a chance to win a little something from me which I'll put on sale for 50% off for the duration of the giveaway! It's now an even greater value:  $6 for $15 worth of products!  Woot, woot!

Also, click on top Swap link to visit all the product giveaways!  Good luck!
 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, January 29, 2015

My Go-To for Helping Students With Reversals

I've tried so many things in the past and it was always hit or miss with the kids until...

Yep...a simple letter written is washable marker on the hand seems to do the trick.  I've found that I only need to write the letter for about a week before the students are able to write the letter correctly on their own. 

Now when it comes to a student with multiple reversals?  (Which they usually have!) One letter at a time.  I don't move on until they conquer one at a time.  If the letter is in the child's name, I'll make that letter the starting point. 

Why does it work?  I honestly think because it's a constant reminder ATTACHED to them and at very close range.  Really! 

If you haven't tried it, give it a shot and let me know if it helped.

On another note, hope you don't mind if I show off John's latest artwork. I so wish I could draw!  Have a good night!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

What's Your Favorite Crayola Color?

Sometimes I impress myself.  Ha! Now what I'm about to show you may be known by the world but it's new to me and I'm thrilled to have figured it out...

You can make a SPECIFIC custom color on the iPad or on a computer! Not where you drag the cursor around and hope to land on something you like.  Actually make it.

My son was tinkering on the iPad and wanted basic green.  The greens on his screen were all shades of olive.  Getting a "Christmas Color Green" was proving to be a challenge. 

I know, I know...but sometimes you get deep into a muddy palette and can't get out.  Have you ever wanted a BRIGHTER yellow?  A specific pink...bright but not too bright? Sometimes I try to scoot that cursor over just a smidge to see if maybe the color I'm thinking of is SOMEWHERE on the screen.  

Have you ever referred to a Crayola Crayon Color?  Now you can make the EXACT color!  It's oh, so easy!

When Matthew asked for "Christmas Tree Green," we started naming our favorite Crayola colors and that led me to a Wikipedia page that listed ALL of their colors.  (Google it!) I started playing around and easily was able to make them.  I like seeing all of the colors on the page in front of me and I can start to pick out specific color combinations that I want to work with in the future.  (Covers, anyone?)

I love it!  Look at the Blue Bell example above.  The arrows are the same exact color.  Cool, huh? 

I hope this is helpful and welcome news to you, too.  Have a COLORFUL DAY!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

It's a...New Student!

What do you do for a new student's arrival when you welcome him/her into your classroom community?

After I set up the child's desk, I have my kids make cards and letters and post a welcome sign by the door so it's the first thing seen by the students' family.  It's always nice to see your name front and center, isn't it?  Reassures them that I'm ready for a new student.

I assign a buddy that helps the new student unpack and "learn the ropes."  O
nce I'm sure the child feels comfortable in class- usually I wait until after lunch- we ask the child some questions.  I have pre-made questions ready.  Always insightful! 

The new student goes home with letters and cards (look at the letter that says I'm either 47 or...63!), a pencil, a picture of the "First Day" of school, and all of my newsletters to date.  

(While I send via email weekly, I print out a few copies each week just in case I get a new student. Parents seem appreciative and it saves me time having to explain everything.  I always like to write a quick email during lunch to the family in case they're worrying about their little one and I call home in the evening just to officially welcome the family and reassure them that it was a smooth start.  Lucky for me, I've always had a smooth start!  In fact, last year, I had the sweetest girl join my class.  Lovely.  When I called her up to read with me, she said, "I'm a Level H."  (For the record, she was a K.) 

I have a small packet in my store if you'd like to check it out. I couldn't resist the cute storks and I just wanted to have something at my fingertips when needed. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Guided Reading Table Idea

My sweet friend, Maha, just returned from Maternity Leave.  

When she came back to school, she brought these lovely benches with her which her husband MADE! How sweet is that?  

She teaches K so she was sure to make them a bit higher for her little ones.

Aren't they adorable?  I LOVE the baskets under each one as well.  

They're perfect for storing reading materials for each group.  Take a closer look at the top of the table:  GENIUS! 

The wipe-offs are simply laminated pieces of construction paper.  How easy is that?  Her kids love writing on them and it eliminates having to pass out whiteboards.  LOVE!  Saving time, cuteness, and functional all at once!  She's one smart cookie!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

My Sunday Scoop and Clip Art Freebie Pick (Today only!)

Join Teaching Trio for today's Linky! Get link on button below.  
Here's my scoop:
Clip Art of Tree is from Creative Clips.  Banana, pencil, color monsters are mine...Dandy Doodles!
The good news: I'm just about to start writing four more books!  They are chapter books this time. The bad news?  My editor needs a synopsis for each book this week.  Trying to take a deep breath...  I want to get them written so I can work on my school portfolio.  Does your school require teachers to submit one?  It's mainly a reflection piece which IS helpful.  Just time consuming...

I am vowing to cut up my fruit when I get it!  I now buy 90% of my fruit at Costco.  It's incredible!  Great value and quality.  Downside is you get a lot.  Don't get me wrong, we can eat what we buy BUT sometimes I'm too lazy to cut it up and it goes to waste.  If I won a million dollars, I would have a full-time chef!  Yep.  One day!

And why do we have our tree (artificial, of course!) up this late?  Because it's filled with hundreds of ornaments that have such special meaning.  If not packed properly, they'll break and I'll flip out (I am pathetic, I  know.) so guess who must pack them up?  Me.  Everyone else is afraid to touch them.  Want to see some of my sentimental favorites?
For obvious reasons...
Barney because he truly did bring my kids joy, the faded ball belonged to my lovely mother-in-law, and the Charlie Brown was to celebrate writing my first book for Scholastic which was a Peanuts book...
Honestly, I could show so many more...we get one from each vacation, one to symbolize the "big happening" of each year with all of us (like a soccer ball and cheerleader when kids made teams, etc.)  Yes, our tree is filled with hundreds of stories that are close to my heart.  I'm always sad to take it down.  Sniff, sniff...

Want to join The Sunday Scoop Linky?  Click on button!
Have a great day! 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Freebie: Place Value Exchange Game


I went back and edited my last post to include this freebie game but wanted to be sure those who asked when it would be posted saw it was available.  Grab by clicking on the picture:

I also offer a Money Exchange version in my store if you're interested:

Gotta give a shout out to John for posting his latest clip art:  Immigration!

Have a super day with your students!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A Few of My Favorite Things...

Linking up with The Teaching Trio today to share three of my favorite...picture books!  I picked one that just hit the stores, one from the past few years, and an almost classic by Robert Munsch.  (Not Love You Forever!)

After you read Children Make Terrible Pets, whip out the second book starring Lucille: 

Have to get ready for school but I leave you with the "story behind the story" for Peanut Butter and Cupcake. 

Thanks to The Teaching Trio for a fun Linky!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Our Time Travel Series is Out!

John and I are thrilled that our The Art of Time Travel Series was published this week by ABDO Publishers.  We are in love with our covers!  Aren't they amazing?  Courtney Bernard is the illustrator and she knocked our socks off!  Take a second to enjoy the beauty...

The DESIGN of the books is simply amazing!  Our Art Director, Candice, really outdid herself  We cannot be more impressed with her work and dedication to this series!  Look how beautiful the INSIDE design is:

I wish I could show you ALL of the inside designs.  Each one has a color theme that just blows us away!  The design concept...all the touches you can't see, makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside. 
The series was not our idea.  We were approached by ABDO to write it.  John (my husband) and I were excited but a bit nervous as we had many elements we had to mesh together.  While we had written/published historical fiction before, we didn't actually use real people in our past stories...just historical events but with fictional characters.  And time travel proved to be very tricky especially because we had to find a pivotal moment in our artist's life.  BUT, our incredible, insightful, editor, Tam, was SPOT ON with each and every piece of feedback/advice given.  John and I will be forever grateful to Tam for keeping us focused and pushing us to dig deeper into our characters. I've published dozens of books and truly think they are the strongest books I've written.
John and I had worked on two past books together.  One was a book for Scholastic's Book Club and the other was The Johnstown Flood. 
Illustrated by Dana Martin
John is a stickler for historical detail and spent hundreds of hours researching the lives of the people above.  This project was especially intriguing for John because, as an English major in college, he had a few classes of Shakespeare and a class just about the influence of Mary Shelley.  We were both excited about writing about Monet because we visited his home in Giverny, France while on our honeymoon.  Ella was the one we started off pretty much knowing very little but it ended up to be my favorite of the group.  We're huge Ella fans now! She  was amazing and such a strong, determined person.
Here's a description of the series from  ABDO's website:

Ella Fitzgerald was the queen of jazz. Mary Shelley created a monster. Claude Monet captured moments time with his paintbrush. William Shakespeare used language like no author before him. But what if their great works of art never existed? In the Art Of Time Travel, readers follow modern young people back in time and encounter each of these artists at a defining point in their lives. The artist is on the verge of making a choice that would deprive the world of his or her great art. Can our time travelers influence the past so the art will exist in the future? Calico is an imprint of Magic Wagon, a division of ABDO.

They should be available in your school library soon.  If you read one, let us know what you thought! 

Happy reading!

Monday, January 5, 2015

My Favorite Winter Craft

A few years ago, I bought a snowman craft from First Grade Blue Skies.  While I like to vary what I do from year to year, I just can't let these cuties go.  They're just the sweetest things ever, aren't they?  This year, I realized I had black paper up on my bulletin board so I decided to have the kids pick a color instead... (and I ditched the paint and used paper for the stripes/dots.)  I LOVE THEM!  Honestly, everyone says the same thing when they see them:  "They make me happy."  That's exactly how I feel when I pass them each day! 

Here are the ones from the past...

I put them up mid-December and they aren't coming down until February.  Can you blame me? :)

Hope your first day back was smooth sailing! 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Value of Open-Ended Math Questions (And a freebie, too!)

UPDATE Summer 2023: GOOGLE SLIDES NOW INCLUDED IN ALL PACKETS! All Open-Ended packets have been updated, added lots of pages AND if you buy the bundle, not only do you save a lot of money, you also get the questions organized by UNITS!

My truly fabo math supervisor held an in-service to address using open-ended questions in the younger grades.  During the first five minutes, she asked us to share some journal entries we were currently using.  One I shared:

I have 10 cookies.  7 are chocolate chip.  How many are sugar?

I thought it was fine until she changed it up to something like this:



As you can see, open-ended questions have more than one solution and it's often not an obvious one.  The problems often take much more time to figure out since they force the kids to dig deeper into their mathematical reasoning and it naturally allows for differentiation in the class. Gotta love that!  I love the way that the solutions often must be explained because so many children have different answers.

I immediately wondered why I hadn't made more of an effort to increase the use of open-ended questions with my firsties.  They really are the way to go!  The question above that I shared had ONE solution.  The new one allowed the students to dig much deeper, didn't it?  Some kids gave a few combinations and others gave all combos of ten. What would have been a 20 second "throw-away" activity became much more meaningful.  Some kids finished in two minutes while others took longer.

Although it took a while, I made December, January, and am working on February Open-Ended Math Questions for my class/colleagues and of course my TPT Store.  Here are some examples from the December packet:

Only ONE child got 16 circles!  Some had less, many had way more.  The best part was how unique each snowman was!  My favorite was a sombrero wearing snowman holding two yo-yos.  Clever!  Sorry no pic!

I allowed the kids to roam around the room to search for items.  They LOVED it!
Makes a great Morning Meeting Activity, too. 

A quick look shows me that this students gets the jump from 30 to 600!

You can see the different ability levels here.  Honestly, I was thinking I was going to get a lot of word problems here but I didn't.  Note the last one on the above page IS a word problem but you can see where the child went off-course.  An easy follow-up discussion ensued.

This is one that surprised me...  She wrote: It has two digits and it's after 19. After 2 more from eighteen 20 is 10+10, dose=20 (She was thinking Spanish) and when you count 4 times counting by 5s it =20.  Pretty impressive!

The last one I took a picture of is my favorite one! A spider and robot has 10 legs!  Fun!  Some kids drew five kids, or Santa with two reindeer.  All were so unique and I loved seeing their minds at work! 

They have quickly become favorites in the class!  I decided to give them a booklet at the beginning on the month BUT I also send some home for homework and use others for Do-Nows.  (One of my colleagues has them fold/glue into journal) Plenty of problems included in each pack!

Grab two freebies from my January packet:

BUNDLE Now Available...get THREE packs for FREE!

I'm so glad I made the switch to Open-Ended questions. My kids and parents are, too! 
Have a great night!