Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Freebie Alert!

I have a new product that I'm excited about!  

It solved a few problems for me: What to do with my overflowing sentence strips and how to display projects in my teeny tiny room?  (And a quick project is best, yes?) So I came up with Hip Strips!  A fun way to review math and display it.  They fit anywhere and really brighten my room up super quick.  Great for Math with Self for Daily 3 and Do-Nows, too.  Honestly, I just feel sunnier when I see them!

I'm making a Language Arts packet for First Grade and a combo math/language arts K one too.  They'll be up by next Friday.  BUT- I wanted to give a freebie away now so I picked one that could be used in K and 1 now.  Grab it if you want it!

Looking for other Freebies?  Click here to see them.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Friends of Ten (Freebie, too!)

TEN is such an important benchmark number!  I love teaching Friends of Ten / Combinations of 10 because it really is a necessary skill to master that leads to soooo many other skills.  This year, my colleague and I really made sure our kids knew the combinations inside and out.  We reviewed it way more than usual and of course that helped solidify mastery.

Our kids really had an easier time counting larger numbers/3 addends and were quite good and looking for combinations of ten and then adding on.  They also seemed to grasp that if they knew 4+6 was 10 then 4+7 was 11 much faster.  I make such a big deal out of the number 10 that one of my kids bowed to it when it was written on the board!

I love these two activities.  The crown was reworked a few times because when I had to fit it to their tiny heads, some combinations were covered.  Now, they are smaller and fit fine and dandy.  My second activity is a display with ten frames and uses the turn-around facts, too.  I use sentence strips for both and when I hand the ten frame Friends of Ten up, it makes a good visual and fun display.

I just posted it to my store.

If you think you'd like to use the poem with your kids, click on the picture.  It's free for my Blog Readers.  Enjoy!

Monday, July 8, 2019

Superhero Teachers!

I woke up at 4:30 today and turned on my local news.  There was a terrible story about an abusive teacher.  Heartbreaking.  It's now 11:43 and I've read 2 additional negative stories about educators.  

Makes me sad but I know there are so many uplifting stories out there and since I heard 3 negative, I'm bringing you 3 positive!  Enjoy!

(Imagine the impact this teacher has had on these kids for them to gift him with Broadway tickets!)

I love reading about Superhero Teachers and it reminds me once again that not all superheroes wear capes!

Saturday, July 6, 2019

John's Journal (3 Books About Apollo 11)

Guest Post: John is a K-5 Media Specialist, history buff, author, and my oh-so-sweet husband. He's going to post weekly book reviews/finds here. 

Fifty years ago this July, I was in the living room of a rented beach house in Belmar, NJ watching the spectacular events of the first moon landing and moon walk unfold on a small flickering black and white TV across the room as was millions of other people around the country and the world. Yet somehow, I was watching history being made – alone! 

Even as a six year old I couldn't believe that I was the only one who seemed interested at the time. Where was everyone?! The beach? Porch? Backyard? Gone fishing??  I still don’t know! I did know that is was cool – and it fascinated me for years to come. I collected anything that I could about the Apollo program – newspaper articles, toys, plastic model kits, and of course, books. 

There are numerous books that have been published and many stories told over the years, and of course as the Apollo 11 mission celebrates fifty years, there are many new ones to honor and commemorate the event. I’m familiar with several wonderful editions about the Apollo program for young readers, but the three above stand out as favorites.

Earthrise is my favorite of the three...

To see more illustrations from the talented Christy Lundy, visit this page. 

Earthrise: Apollo 8 and the Photo That Changed the World by James Gladstone with Illustrations by Christy Lundy is one of my favorite picture books of the past year. It tells the story of one of the most iconic and famous photographs ever taken – the Earth from the viewpoint of the Apollo 8 astronauts orbiting the moon. 1968 was a time of tremendous unrest and turmoil in the world - wars, political uncertainty and racial strife. The photograph taken by astronaut ----- as the spacecraft was probing the surface of the moon showed the Earth from far away – a planet not with maps or borderlines, but a place where all humans lived as one. The story is told with clear and concise text; there are not technical and scientific details, instead the story is focused on the astronauts traveling to explore the moon and then being able to take the photograph. The illustrations use muted tones and colors and a style that is reminiscent of the late 60’s. I also noted that many of the illustrations that showed gatherings of people watching the mission on TV contained many people of color which adds to the significance of the period in time.  As a read aloud this books can operate on many levels – it tells a story that was significant to mankind and was a prelude to further amazing feats in the space program; for older children, it can be a lesson on artistic style and symbolism for a spectacular scientific event in a turbulent period in human history. 

Visit this section of Brian's website to see more of his art from the book.  

Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca is a visually stunning and great narrative of the first landing on the moon and the process it took to plan and carry out the historic mission. The author is also a Caldecott-winning artist (Locomotive). The illustrations carry the story along – even for the earliest readers, but the book is also an excellent  read-aloud story for all ages as the narrative builds throughout – similar it an actual countdown before lift-off. All three Apollo 11 astronauts are treated as main characters – as well as they should considering the dangerous and daring mission that they completed. This is a great example of narrative nonfiction that reads like an adventure story. For readers who want to know more, there is adequate space at the end of the book that contains facts and figures related to the entire Apollo program.

Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon by Catherine Thimmesh – In all of human history, the NASA space missions are all to be considered the true example of teamwork. The astronauts were naturally the focal points and the “stars” of the missions, but it took thousands and thousands of dedicated and talented people from varied walks of life all working towards the same goal to actually make it happen. The Apollo 11 mission exemplified the ultimate goal and in this book: landing on the moon – we learn about contributions from  seamstresses (who carefully sewed layers and layers of fabric to make the space suits), engineers, scientists, photographers, navigation experts, telescope designers, and of course members of mission control who all demonstrated expertise in their field to get the astronauts to the moon and back – an amazing accomplishment still do this day. Team Moon is an attractive non-fiction book for all ages as it contains an abundance of photographs, however I feel that this would be more suitable for middle grade students – it works well as narrative non-fiction and is perfect for a book talk – about the Apollo 11 mission of course, but also as an example of the true meaning of teamwork.
This was published in 2006 with a recent reprinting.

Read on!

Monday, July 1, 2019

Simplified Job Board

When I started teaching, I had the cutest job board for my First Graders.  It was a large tool kit with names on wrenches, hammers, screwdrivers, etc.  I loved it. The kids loved it.

For about two seconds.

The problem for ME?

1. Organization. I never rotated it like I should have and kids would keep same jobs forever.  I'm pretty organized but I just never had the time to put into maintaining it.

2. I often had to create jobs that pretty much weren't that great or needed to be done occasionally just so everyone would have one.

The problem for my students? They complained.  A lot.  "When do I get to be line leader?" "When can I be the messenger?" "No fair."  "I never ever get to sharpen the pencils."

I know it's a small problem to have in life but it honestly stressed me out. My sister, who teaches Kindergarten, introduced me to ONE or TWO helpers a day!  My problems were over.


I prefer two helpers a day...My Cool Cats!  They do EVERYTHING needed that day.  This way, they pretty much get to experience all the cool jobs every 10-12 days depending how many kids are in your class.  (They take turns being line leader/caboose each time we leave room.)

In the beginning of the year, I go over the rules and have them color in a cat after I type names in.  In my packet, you can have kids color cats or print out ones ready to go.  At the end of the day, I let the kids take a certificate and use special crayons or markers to color in.  Just another way parents can see what their children are up to in school that day.

An added bonus: this takes up so much less space in my teeny tiny room!

It honestly takes 10 seconds to implement each day.  After we say the Pledge, I tell them it's time for our "Cool Cats of the Day."  They give me a light drumroll.  After I pull each name, the kids give a little meow.  It cracks me up.  Every. Single. Time.

For those of you that can have a rotating job board and maintain it...hats off to you!  For the rest of you, I feel your pain!

Have a great day!