Saturday, March 28, 2020

Summer Countdown to...

Before the schools shut down, I was putting the final touches on this product:

I never posted it here because it felt awkward.  Is anyone counting down to anything except the end of this pandemic?  But I posted it in my store and was shocked to see so many wishlisted on just the first day.  So maybe a need?  Wishful thinking?  I could use a little wishful thinking on so many levels right now.  The struggle is real.  I know we're all struggling these days.

My good friend is struggling to get her little one to sleep in her own bed.  It's been a long road.  So I had the idea of giving them the rocket to make so they can count down the number of sleeps left until she officially goes nighty-night in her princess bed that's been waiting for her since last May.  Fingers crossed for her.  For them!

I really hope a Super Summer is on the way for all of us.  What would you put on your list? 

Gatherings are on mine.  Lots and lots of family and friend gatherings.

So as much as I feel a little silly posting this, I'm still going to do it.  Here's to positive thoughts and fun times ahead for all of us this summer.  

I know some districts don't feel it's appropriate to count down to summer...sort of like the teacher is wishing the year to end.  That's why I gave the option of counting down to next grade level as well.  

Either way, I'm counting down to the return of NORMALCY.  Who's with me?

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Which One Doesn't Belong (Kindergarten Edition)

Been promising this for what seems like forever but with a recent nudge from a buyer of my First Grade product, I finally finished my NO PRINT Kindergarten version of Which One Doesn't Belong Open-Ended Questions.  A great way to add rigor and relevance to your classroom.

On sale for next week!

This set is a bit different from the First Grade Set as I don't offer any paper versions here.  I didn't feel it would enhance the product for Kindergarten.  However, I increased the slides from 40ish to 80.  Yep, EIGHTY!  And I added an ELA component.  You can do two slides a week for the school year!

I use these in my classroom all the time for Do-Nows, Math Talks, large and small group discussions and when the kids ask for them...which is quite often!

I think they love them so much because there are so many possible answers for each one.  Things that I didn't think of myself.  It's always a proud moment when they make a connection that was lost to me.

To see how I used the First Grade packet in my classroom (VIDEO!) and to get some free ones, click on this link.  


Monday, March 23, 2020

Keeping Busy and Educating MYSELF

Times are tough and I hope and pray that all of you are safe.  My daughter lives in NY and we assume she has it: cough, slight fever, achy and no taste or smell for two weeks now.  She's feeling fine now.  It's a scary time out there and I need distractions from the news.

How are you keeping busy?

Here are 3 things I highly recommend right now:

1. Free Online Class at YALE UNIVERSITY (or any IVY League School!)

Yep!  That's right!  ALL Ivy League Schools are offering FREE classes right now.  But there is one in particular that gets such amazing reviews.  I just signed up.  So did my daughter. It's called The Science of Well-Being.  It is a newish class and has proven already to be the most popular is Yale's history.  (My daughter just texted she completed Week 1 and says it is a MUST-DO!)

Check out this link here for more info:

2. Reading ADULT books.  

No picture books for me!  Honestly, I was such a huge reader but ever since I've become a children's author, it seems that I only read kid books these days.  I read them all day long at school but also read at home WAY too much.  My friend just sent me this book which I am starting today:

It was such a treat to get this surprise gift in the mail last week.  Patti bought it for my week-long hospital stay that was JUST CANCELLED at Hospital of Special Surgery.  Oh, my.  This delay will be a long one but I get it and will deal with it.  Just a bit of a bummer because I need 4 months in between first two leg surgeries so it obviously pushes everything back.  Praying hard for all health workers.  Praying for their much-needed supplies and their health.

AUDIBLE has been allowing us to download THREE free audiobooks, too.  Check them out!

3. Watching Tiger King on Netflix  (It is CRAZY!)

My son and I watched together.  It gets crazier and crazier by the episode.  You will go through a range of emotions watching it.  No doubt.  If you watched and want to share thoughts, leave a comment.

Stay safe.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Word Family Spring Craft

Word Families are such an important part of phonics instruction. MOST of my First Graders are able to read/write familiar patterns of letters quickly in the fall.  It builds fluency FAST! But some of my students aren't ready until now. which is many, many months later but just in time for this spring craft:

Aren't they bright and cheery?

Once a word pattern is taught, the kids can spell so many more words since they apply the new pattern to their spelling tool belt! I love working on word families because the payoff is tenfold and seeing my struggling kids finally get it is so exciting!

You can hang around the room or cluster together with the Flower Power sign.

For those ready in the fall, I use these owls. Aren't they cute? (An easy and fast way to decorate the classroom, too!) 

When my kids saw the flowers, they all wanted to make them even though they made the owl in fall. (They ended up modifying the center and making combinations of 10 for review.)

Word Families included in both products:
A: -at, -ad, -ag, -am, -an, -ap

E: -ed, -en, -et

I: -id, -ig, -in, -ip, -it

O: -ob, -od, -og, -op, -ot

U: -ub, -ug, -un, -ut

Have a great day!

Sunday, March 15, 2020

BOXITECTS: Great Stem / Strong Females Book

STEM / STEAM / Strong Female character book seekers: BOXITECTS is a must! What a fun, FABO, book written and illustrated by Kim Smith.


Meg, the Boxitect, goes off to Maker School. She is quite the creative girl! ⁣

She loves meeting all the Blanketeers, Tin-Foilers, and Egg-Cartoners (Tee hee hee!) who admire her over-the-top creations.

She was the only Boxitect in class until...⁣ Simone shows up. Another Boxitect.

It does not go well! ⁣

What a fun book with such lively, detailed illustrations. I first saw it at Barnes & Noble last month and immediately put a hold on it in my library. ⁣

After rereading it a second time, I know that Boxitects is now a must-buy for me. ⁣

Bonus: At the end, has simple experiment to try and shows how to build a tunnel and a castle.
If you know someone K-2...possible 3rd grade too (I say yes!) then shoot them this link so they can see what the fuss is about or at least be sure to fill them in on this awesome book.

Edited to add:  I made an STEAM/ELA activity packet to support the book.  Take a peek!

Happy reading!

Monday, March 9, 2020

Kids Extra Chatty? Problem Solved!

Once February rolls around, the kids always seem to be extra chatty and they're feeling perhaps a wee bit too comfortable with each other.  That's when I break out SECRET STUDENT that I found for free on TpT from Teach Create Motivate.

Does it work?  YOU BETCH'A!!!


Everyone does their own version of Secret Star and here's mine that truly has turned my little ones back into the quiet students they were in September.

1. I print out several of the tiny slips and keep in a spot kids can see.

2. Whenever I go to walk in the hallway, start Stamina Reading, am about to start Math Centers, etc., I simply say, "SECRET STAR" and the class falls silent.  Then I act VERY official and scan the room several times with a clipboard in my hand.  I tell them that I'm picking a girl AND a boy to be the SECRET STAR.

3. After the period ends, I let them know IF the Secret Stars earned the certificate.  If they DO, they both get the slip, write names on back of it, and then put it in jar for a DRAWING on Friday afternoon.  (If one or both DO NOT earn it because they were talking/unfocused, then I DO NOT say who it was. It remains my little secret.)

4. On Friday afternoon, I pull out ONE name and they win a PRIZE that I picked up from the Dollar Tree.  (The prizes are cheap but always look amazing...I know what cheap junk they love!)

5. I pass out all the slips from the jar so the kids can show their parents that they were one of the Secret Stars from the week.

That's it!  SO EASY and it's been two months and it's still going strong.

Do I let kids win more than once?  YEP.  Does everyone get name in Friday jar?  NOPE.  Do some kids get their names in the jar multiple times?  YEP.  I always make sure EACH child has had the opportunity to be Secret Star.  It's up to them to earn it though.

Is it Responsive Classroom?  No.  And we are a huge RC school.  But it works.  And the kids need a bit of motivation this time of the year.  And it's the only type of prize I ever give away.

If your kids are a bit rambunctious lately and you have a buck to spare, give it a try!

Good luck!

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Place Value Activities I use NOW for EOY Review

We go to school until late June but we give our end-of-the year assessments in May.  It seems to creep up on us each year and we find ourselves cramming math review in.  That test is TOUGH and in First Grade, unless you're constantly reviewing the concepts, the kids forget them.  Fast.

We finished Place Value last month but does that mean we put away those materials for a bit to make way for the new materials we need to teach current skills?  NOPE!  We can't afford to. We often use new materials to refresh older concepts.

Here's what I whipped up now for center review.  My kids will use these during Math With Self and Math With Partners.  I'll also sneak hem in during Morning Do-Nows and throughout the day when possible.  For the rest of the year.  Yep.  Have to!


Task Cards!  So many activities!  Answer Keys included so kids can self-correct.


I've just uploaded to my TpT Store at a 40% discount for 48 hours. So that means you'll get all the above for just $3.00.  A good deal!

There are 14 different Place Value games/activities to keep your students engaged and reviewing the skills that are sure to pop up on testing again.  Since I include materials up to 120 and then up to 1000, there is plenty of room for differentiation.

If you have any tips on preparing for EOY testing, I'm all ears!

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Nothing Stopped Sophie (Women's History Month Book!)

My husband handed me the book Nothing Stopped Sophie: The Story of Unshakable Mathematician Sophie Germain a whole year ago!  A whole year!  During Women's History Month no less.  It sort of got buried under a pile and when I recently asked about a STEM book featuring a strong female character, he said, "What about Sophie?"  Oops!  So sorry I lost track of you, Sophie Germain! After reading it, I'm kicking myself that I didn't read it earlier.  An excellent story and a fun read!

From School Library Journal:

Gr 1–3—An illuminating look into the life and work of Sophie Germain, a self-taught mathematician, who was the first woman to win a prize from the Paris Academy of Sciences. Bardoe's prose injects the title refrain often as the story unfolds. Germain, who came of age during the French Revolution, studied math despite her parents' wishes. Women were not allowed to attend university, but she secretly got notes from math classes and sent in homework using a male name. She worked for six years on a theorem to predict patterns of vibration, and experienced rejection at least twice before her work was accepted. The artwork—created with pen and ink, watercolor, and collage—is truly a sight to behold. McClintock depicts Germain's inner thoughts, often numbers and equations, surrounding her and at times isolating her from others. This makes the penultimate spread of Germain's prize-winning equation extending from her person and wrapping around the male scholars, even more triumphant in comparison. Extended back matter includes more about Germain's life, recommendations for further research and activities, a selected bibliography, an author's note, and an illustrator's note. VERDICT Excellent illustrations elevate the inspiring prose, making it a highly recommended choice to the growing shelf of picture book biographies featuring women in STEM.—Kacy Helwick, New Orleans Public Library

Give it a try!  I'm so glad I did!  You know I love a book when I make a packet for it.  Take a peek and if interested, click on one of the pictures...

Aimed at Grades 1-3.  Some of the activities...

Since Sophie loved numbers and puzzles, I made the numbers 0-9 into a Squiggle Write. 
See more about Squiggle Writing here.  My kiddos love this activity.  Since so many numbers are included, you can use these throughout the year.  Makes a cute display or fun class book.


Power bracelets are sure to be a hit!  After discussing book and making connections to our own lives, I have kids make/wear these bracelets with a clear message to the world: Can't stop! Won't stop!

Five reading responses are included and the product preview shows them all.

Who doesn't love a headband?  Sometimes I have kids pick a name our of a hat and make the headband for a friend.  A fun twist!

In First Grade, to make Acrostics easier, we brainstorm a list over a few days and I ask kids to RETELL the story at home and get words for Sophie.  By the time we start this, we have dozens of words on our board.  Kids can pick from them or think up a new word.  


If you follow me, you know I am a huge fan of making words.  Why?  Because I can easily see who is APPLYING the sounds/letter combinations I've been teaching each year.  When we first started doing Make-a-Words, the kids had trouble coming up with ten words.  Now?  Some kids make over 100 words each week!  My lower kids can make anywhere from 7-15 words independently now.  That THRILLS me!  I try to give them words with an "S" so they can make plurals. 

Pick-a-Prompt shares are fun because you never know which one a child will share.  You can run these two-sided for kids who write a lot.


Two pages of synonyms are included using text in context.  Great conversations stem from this.  Always amazed at the kids' vocabulary. 

A book (Cover, Dedication, page for each kid to contribute, and then ending page where you can put class pic) is also included.  The kids fully can identify with Sophie and can easily think of a time they they were UNSTOPPABLE!

Full preview available in my store. 

I truly hope you can share the book with your class.  Sophie is a great role-model and message taken away from this book will be heard loud and clear.  Promise!

Happy reading!