Monday, July 18, 2022

5 Fun Shark Week Activities to Dive Into

If you're anything like me, then you've been anxiously counting down the days until Shark Week. Although I'm not in school during Shark Week, this year, I'm declaring a week in September as my very own SHARK WEEK to celebrate with my kids. Why? Because kids are FASCINATED by sharks and so am I!

Here are 5 simple ways you can bring a little of SHARK WEEK into your classroom:

1. Share Some Shark Jokes!

I'm looking forward to the hilarious shark jokes that will be flooding my social media feeds over the next few weeks. To get you in the Shark Week spirit now, I've put together a collection of some of my favorite jokes about these underwater predators.  Download for FREE!

2. Watch Documentaries and Videos

In preparation for my own Shark Week, I've been binge-watching shark documentaries and trying to learn as much about these fascinating creatures as possible. Where to start: anything by National Geographic!

or anything by Daniel Attenborough:

Here's a great video I found that I'll be sharing with my class:

3. Make a Headband

Who doesn't love to wear a headband? This headband is so cute and easy to make. I saw this from Simple Everyday Mom on Pinterest and it's FREE! Isn't it adorable? Thanks, Simple Everyday Mom! I'll be sure to posts pics when my students make them!

4. Play Sneaky Shark Math Game:

Read more about the game and learn how to play this "Clear the Board" game for K-2 students. 

Sharks + Math = FUN LEARNING!

5. Read Some Awesome Books to Your Students

Missing from the list, however, is one of my favorite books to share: SHARK LADY: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean's Most Fearless Scientist. Take a sneak peek!

So, there you have it- five easy things you can do to celebrate SHARK WEEK. And the best part is that all of these activities are fun, easy to do and FREE! Who wouldn’t want to read more books, watch thought-provoking documentaries, listen to funny jokes, make a shark craft or play games that make them smarter? I know I do. Your kids will, too!

So, what are you waiting for?  Download all the Freebies above, kick back and read some books, watch a few documentaries, and...go for a swim today! 

You never know what you'll see! 

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

FREEBIE Math Game for Shark Week!

Looking for a SIMPLE, easy-to-learn math game that will have kids practicing their counting and addition facts? A game that even Kindergarten kids can play during the first week of school? A game you can add to centers and rotations at any point of the year to have them practice fact fluency? Well, here it is: SNEAKY SHARK! A Clear the Board game.

I have this same game for Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day but wanted to make one for SHARK WEEK and summer fun.  Takes a minute to learn and is a quick game that the kids want to play again and again.

How Do You Play?
Place all ten of your tokens on the board. Take turns rolling 2 dice and add numbers together. Look to see if your token is in that column. If it is, remove it. Roll doubles? Take turn and ROLL AGAIN! If your token isn’t in that column, skip a turn. First one to remove all of his/her tokens is The Sneaky Shark!
Two boards are included (both in color and BW) so Kindergarten students can play while using one die on a 1-6 board and Grades 1/2 can use two dice and add numbers together on the 2-12 board. SO EASY and FUN!

Here's one of my FAVORITE shark-related books, SHARK LADY. My class LOVES it too! Have you read it?


Saturday, June 11, 2022

THIS is the Playlist You Need For Your Classroom

Did you know that the first five minutes of each school day is critical for establishing or deepening connections with our students? Even after you've built that strong community, you must nurture it to ensure it continues to thrive. 

The second I step outside into the hallway and see my kids coming toward me in the hall, I'm ready to greet each one by name and make a quick connection like, "Did you win your game last night?' or "Today's Friday. Pancake Day for your family! What kind did you have?" 

Yep- even short interactions foster that community spirit.

Then, they enter my classroom and I have this playlist on in the background while they're unpacking and chit chatting with each other for 5-7 minutes before they start their Do-Now. 

 Isn't it such an easy way to continue the community building?  

I also play it during snack, dismissal, and times when they request it. Does belting out the above songs really strengthen our classroom community?

YOU BETCHA! Music is so powerful whether you are 1 or 100 years old. 

I hope you can use this for your class. Do you have any songs you'd like to see added? Any songs that resonate with you and your class? Let me know!

Check out my other playlists for Writing Workshop and Brain Break Dance Songs.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Thirty Second Game Changer for ANY Grade Level

Can you relate to this scenario?

You're having a wonderful discussion about a picture book with your class. Kids have their hands flying in the air to share their thoughts, opinions and feelings, and are ready to make a connection to their own lives or another book the class has read. Their enthusiasm is palpable.

You call on several kids to share out. Lots of their answers motivate even more hands to shoot up and wave wildly in the air.  

The kids are so excited but being respectful trying hard to signal to you that they're sitting nicely, hand in the air, and ready to share. Some are making noises and you're not sure if they want to share or telling you they're sick! :)

 Sometimes, lots of times, you get those begging eyes that if those same eyes could talk, would be screaming, "PICK ME! Look how I'm sitting crisscross applesauce!"

You glance at the clock and think: Do I have time to call on one more student or do I need to line them up now so we're not late for gym?

You decide to call on one more student.

Said child answers and when you say, "Okay, kids.  That's all we have time for today," you hear moans.  Groans.  Mumbling  Grumbling.

Kids are bummed. Frustrated. You overhear at least one kid say, "It's not fair.  You didn't call on me." They want to be heard.

As they line up, some are coming up to you to share. Others are walking to the line, shoulders slumped and muttering under their breath.

I get it. I feel their disappointment.

At least I used to before implementing this SIMPLE 30 second strategy:

When you end the lesson and are about to transition, simply say, "If you didn't get to share out, turn and share with someone next to you."


Students immediately feel validated since they've been heard. They feel like an important community member that had something to contribute to the discussion.

This 30 second trick truly helps foster your classroom community because they're making connections with classmates. A bond. Even small shared connections- one word answers- have forged many a friendship.

It's really a gamechanger!

There is no downside. I do it every time. Try it!  Let me know how it goes.

I'm big on "sharing" and feel it's the most important component of Morning Meeting. Totally contributes to turning your kids into a community! 

One thing I learned the hard way when I started teaching: Your SHARING doesn't always have to be WHOLE CLASS sharing which can be tedious at times.  

To see how I handle sharing in class and maybe find a tip or two you can use, you might want to read the post from a few years ago.  Enjoy!

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Wrapping Up the Year

My school year ended on April 5th because I took a terrible fall in school and broke my kneecap, detached my quad muscle, broke a toe and suffered a concussion!  Yep! I was in the hospital for ten nights and had surgery. Did I mention this was all on my NEW custom-made knee replacement knee/leg? Um. Yep.

Crushing.  If you know my story, I had spent the prior 18 months home due to my leg and had a few major surgeries and was even in ICU. It's been a difficult journey for sure. To be in this position again is beyond frustrating. So I've been reading night and day.  Adult- not kid- books.  I'll post some of the books I loved that I've read these last few months at the end of this post.

Over the last week, I've been working on some new products. Trying to fill my days while I'm still in this brace for another six weeks. 

With the uploading of my June Crowns packet above, I finally finished the CROWNS BUNDLE.  I did go back and added additional crowns to all of the individual packets.  I just couldn't resist! There's truly something for everyone!

Do I use all of them in a month? NOPE! But I'm glad I can pick and choose AND I often put a few out during FREETIME so kids can grab if they want.

NOTE: All of he crowns are also offered in COLOR in case teachers want one (or to give to a colleague) but don't want to color in themselves. 

Also made this: May/June Craft & Goals.  SO EASY and an INSTANT bulletin board. 

My newest product? Class Books to make for your classroom library and enhance your print rich environment. These books are a great way to get to know your students and are a fun way to build community in the classroom. Pick from printing out the cover in color OR have a student color it in. (Can pull a name out of jar to decide who is the Lucky Duck!)

Although June's not finished yet, I have September-December ready to go. If you are interested, the price is over 60% off while I add new packets.  Grab it now! The bundle is listed for only $14 but will go up soon. That means if you buy this week, each month would only cost about $1.50.  That's for FIVE books per month!  It would be 50 books in all for $14! I'll add the rest by June 14th. 

Here are 5 September Class Books so you can see whar they're all about.

Books Included in September:

✿ The Apples of Our Eyes
✿ Chicka Chicka Book Boom! Looks Who's In Our Room!
✿ Make Your Mark (Inspired by the book The Dot. Dot Day is September 15th.)
✿ A Beary Fun Classroom (Teddy Bear Day is September 9th)
✿ A Peaceful Class (World Peace Day is September 21st)

These are so easy to make! Pass out the appropriate sheet (primary, secondary or blank space (no writing lines) for kindergarteners or not-yet-ready to write students.) and have them complete prompt and draw a picture. Ten minutes later, another class book to add to your library or display.

I let my kids check them out throughout the year AND at the end of the year, I give out all of the books for the students to keep. We make 40 books a year so kids usually get 2 books!

Last page: I like to take a picture of the class (holding their individual pages) and glue it in the book. If you don't want to include a picture, have each student sign their name or draw a heart or flower and write name on or under it. 

Can use for Writing Workshop, Morning Meeting activity or a Do-Now.

As promised, here are the covers of some of the books I've read recently  No reviews but if I'm putting cover here, I loved the book!

I'll post more books next time.  Have any recommendations for me? Let me know!

If you're out of school, enjoy your break! If you're still teaching, hang in there! Sand, sun and fun are coming your way soon!

Saturday, March 5, 2022

Grab Some March Freebies and Ideas

Hello, Teacher Friends!  

Happy March! I really love teaching in March. Maybe it's leaving winter behind? The welcome of spring and warmer weather? The feeling that summer isn't too far off? For whatever reason, I always feel energized with the kids during March.

Maybe it's the fun Leprechaun Traps the kids make at home and the anticipation of bringing them in to catch a pesky Leprechaun? Feel free to grab freebie and use...

(Here's a video of our traps and what happened when we put them out....FUN!!!)

March means it's time to pull out some March-themed math games. This year, I added this freebie for a  St. Patrick's Day theme .  It's super easy to play! Perfect for K-2.

We always do a quick craft or two for spring to refresh the classroom, too.  Usually it's this:

But this year, as part of my Monthly Goal Product series, I made these instead.  Kids tucked a goal for March underneath.  The best part? These are so easy that from start to finish was 15 minutes for most kids...including the goal writing!

I had kids pick one or the other.  Most picked the lion.  Next year, I'll have them make both so I have lots to decorate with and they'll have a matching pair to bring home. They'll do two goals, too.  I have 25 goals to pick from in the product so that won't be a problem.

Of course we kicked off the month with Read Across America. My kiddos enjoyed making a headband to wear. Isn't it cute?

Here are my March Crowns / headbands if you want to take a peek:

But my favorite activity so far in March? One I just started to implement last week and I'm sure I'll do for years to come EVERY DAY in my classroom! Yep! EVERY DAY.

What is it? Stay-tuned! That will be my next post later this week.  It's late and I've gotta get some sleep!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Two Classics: Betty White & Harry the Dirty Dog (FREEBIE!)

These two are perfect together! 

I love Harry just as much now as I did when it was read to me as a child.  When I discovered that Betty read this on Storylineonline a few years ago, I was even more excited! Perfection for sure! 

You can get my Harry the Dirty Dog Book It for FREE in my store! If you aren't familiar with my Book-Its, there are three activities. 

Book It: Retell It, Write It! Make It!

1. Retelling the Story:

2. Make-a-Word 

The kids start off very slow with the words they can make. Model, model, model! There is so much you can do with Make-a-Words and I feel like they are an untapped resource for so many teachers.  I use their word study lessons as a guide and then sneak in all sorts of other min-lessons. 

Since there is an "S" in this one, I introduced plurals and kids were excited to almost double their words.  By the end of the year, many kids can get 50-100 words (TRUTH!) on a good Make-a-Word phrase.

3. Writing Prompts (Pick-a-Prompt)

Sharing these is always a pleasure because I don't have to listen to 20 of the same prompt responses. While not always spread even across all 3, it does allow for variety. I'm virtual this week and will be doing this orally during Morning Meeting. It's great practice for them!

Book Its are also awesome to leave for a substitute!  Yep! Why? Because it's at least an HOUR of meaningful work. Watch/read book, Retelling, Make-A-Word, and then the prompt and sharing.  More than 60 minutes for me and I usually don't do everything in one day.  (Retelling is an example: They practice retelling a few days independently and then with partner.)

Last year, for the first time in forever, a NEW Harry the Dirty Dog book was released:

If you like the above BOOK-IT, I have a 3 more FREE ones in my store and 125 Book Its for sale at $2 each. Perfect for when you just want a little support on a book! Here are TWO more Freebies:

I hope you can use some of the freebies above!

Have a great day and a terrific week ahead!

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Back to Virtual Learning (And a Freebie!)

We are back to Virtual Learning for two weeks. I have a feeling that the two weeks will turn into 3-4 weeks. I hope I'm wrong. How about you? Are you teaching from home or is it business as usual?  

I'm doing my best to infuse some fun into my daily online lessons while maintaining a sense of normalcy and familiarity.  Our favorite activity each day in school is our Morning Meeting.  It really sets the tone for the day and creates and fosters a strong sense of community...whether at home or in school. Here was my January Morning Meeting for the first day back virtually:

I've been able to use lots of my existing slides in my January packet but have had to change the order around since some activities don't work as well online. But with so many slides to pick from, it was just a matter of quickly cutting and pasting. Whew! It's so nice to keep our Morning Meeting routine intact!

If you want to read my series on implementing Morning Meeting into your classroom AND grab a FREE week of Greetings, Shares, and Activities (and a message you can edit), check out this post Building Classroom Community Through Morning Meeting (Part 1: Greetings)

Over break, I made a January Which One Doesn't Belong? that I've been using virtually as well. Such a great activity! Click to watch the short clip to see examples.

I've also been using my favorite January Poems and Songs to try to keep it as close too in-person learning as possible.  I use these with my Doc Camera instead of screen sharing them but my Doc camera messes up my computer settings.  Need to problem solve that ASAP!

I also added another Goal-Setting January Activity to my bundle BUT I'm not able to use it yet.  If I knew we were going virtual. it would have been fun to copy and send home. Oh, well! 

Here's a picture of what my December Goal Setting Bulletin Board looked like. Cute! You just had to life up the legs to see the goals the kids set for themselves. They are still hanging up so when I get back, that's the first thing I'll need to do!

I was able to send home some of my January Crowns that I had already copied. Yea!

It will be cute to see 18 of my Smarties all wearing one or two of these online.

Off to get ready for the day.  Have a good one!

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Happy New Year (Some Adult Books I'm Reading, too!)

Happy New Year, friends! I truly feel that 2022 MUST have more positivity in store for us all. With my surgeries behind me, I'm so ready to move on in so many ways.

(I love INSPIRIVITY's work above and below! Follow her on Instagram)

Yesterday, it hit me as I walked from the parking lot into the library without pain and with total ease, that I am moving on and mainly MOVING! WALKING! On my own! 

I came home and almost cried telling John that I can't believe I have my independence back. That I can really walk places and distances without having to plan out where I'll sit, think if it's too long of a walk (more than 50 steps was!) etc.  

This is seriously the first time I've been pain free in about 25 years. 

I wish I had the surgeries sooner.  If you are in a similar situation with a quality of life issue, I urge you to make the appointments. Get it done. The sooner the better.

Back to the library yesterday... 

Yes, it was open on New Year's Eve (day) from 10-6. Kind of crazy! But I did get a few books that I'll be reading. 

My goal over this break was to read 5 adult books.  I'm almost done book 4 with 1 more to go which won't happen before Monday. (Just found out we are going virtual for two weeks so lots to prepare for.)

Take a peek into my books this week:

The Paris Library is a must read!  I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED it! A friend suggested it 6 months ago and I'm so glad the library had it! I am certain that the characters I fell in love with must be in this picture!

I also really liked The Last Thing He Told Me.  A VERY easy read. Loved the characters. 

The Neighbor's Secret was okay.  Fine. Not on my must-read list. 

People We Meet on Vacation was picked simply because it was on display at the library and I was in the mood for more of a "predictable" and "fluffy" book after The Paris Library.

The Last Flight was also recommended to me. I know it was a BOTM selection a few years back.

Speaking of Book of the Month, John got me a year subscription.  YEA!  I just picked my first book!

The Magnolia Palace! I gave my sister a subscription for her birthday. She's picking Reckless Girls. We'll swap when done.

My friend actually got me a 3 month subscription to BOTM when I was having my first surgery. That was such a thoughtful gift! (Thanks, Patti!  She was also the one who recommended The Paris Library.)

I'm open to all sorts of books EXCEPT horror and, at the moment, prefer books that don't make me sob more than once! Please send me suggestions!  I'd appreciate it!

Happy New Year! Love, Light, and Good Health to all!