Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Making the World AWESOME!

One of my goals every year in my class is to inspire my students to do more than just be nice but to also dream about all the ways that they can make the world a better place. Young students are naturally conscientious, thoughtful and optimistic. Part of the joy of teaching them is learning about what things they love and care about and channeling those things into making them better learners, better people, and better citizens. That's how these units came about.
I'm a Kid President super fan. Isn't everyone? 
My very favorite Kid President video is Make the World More Awesome

After watching this video I have my students make a list of causes they care about.
After listing all of the causes near and dear to our hearts I explain to the kids about how to fight for them. There aren't a lot of resources available for little learners about activism. Many books and videos are over the kids' heads or deal with subject matter that could be confusing or upsetting. Then it dawned on me! The West brothers!
The West family is a local family that have done amazing things for our community and the world. I was lucky enough to have Jeremiah and Joshua West visit my classroom 2 years ago to read a book they wrote: Champions of Change: Live to Give
This is a story by children, for children. Joshua and Jeremiah do a wonderful job inspiring the reader with all sorts of ideas about how young people can be agents of change in their community. I love this story because my students are always so fascinated to know that it was written by kids who work so hard to fight for causes they care about.
I love to inspire my students by showing them people who have done amazing things with their lives and ideas. We talk a lot about what it means to be an activist. I designed this unit to further our discussions and introduce the idea that even kids can be activists.
You'll find a mini-book, vocabulary cards and a cut & paste worksheet to introduce activism to your little learners. The vocabulary cards can be used to make anchor charts or word sorts. The book is great for small groups or whole group instruction. I even envision after-school clubs being able to use these resources to come up with school projects and community action projects.
You will also find a writing activity and project as a culmination for this mini-unit. It is my sincere belief the the children are our future and hope for the world. As teachers I think our responsibility to help guide and inspire these young minds to do good in the world is even more urgent than ever. I hope your students learn new ways to fight for their causes and are empowered to think their voices and actions matter no matter how "big" they are. These kids will make this world AWESOME!
If you're interested in this unit you can find it here:
and the writing activity and craft for FREE here

These activities were also inspired by an even larger project #kindnessnation and #weholdthesetruths
The election season and following results have left a lot for some to desire. Life goes on, disappointment is dealt with, and change occurs. Our hope is that through this inevitable change we continue to teach and inspire our children to be kind, to be responsible, and most importantly of all, to be active participants in their communities. You will find MANY forever freebies by searching Teachers Pay Teachers using these hashtags #kindnessnation and #weholdthesetruths
Thank you, teachers. Thank you for all of your hard work making this world AWESOME!



Saturday, November 5, 2016

How to put on a Classroom Feast- Stone Soup

November is my favorite time of year for so many reasons. The back-to-school hustle and bustle has settled down, I've bonded with my new group of mini-wheats and the spirit of the holidays is in the air! I've put on a classroom feast for the past 16 years. While it can seem like a lot of work, it doesn't have to be and it is so worth it!
Tips and printables for putting on a classroom feast and Stone Soup book study.

I love to time my classroom feast for the week of Thanksgiving but there's never a bad time to build community and break bread with your littles. It is such a valuable experience and can provide experiential learning for so many academic standards. Our feast comes at the end of a combined Social Studies and Language Arts unit on families and story elements. 
Stone Soup is a folktale that comes in many versions. These are the three that I use:

Each version is slightly different but they all end with the same lesson- all people thrive when a community shares and works together. I love to build upon this theme by tying it into our classroom community and the idea that our classroom is like a family- with rich traditions, love, acceptance, and generosity. I introduce the word gratitude and explain the magic of voicing the things you are grateful for out loud. I purchased a stone from Amazon that says gratitude on it, but any stone would do. We pass it from person to person, never letting it touch a table or the floor. Each child must say something they are grateful for before passing it along. The last child places it in our pot before we add our ingredients. (**teacher secret** I sneak the dirty, touched-by-everyone-in-the-class-stone out of the pot before we add our ingredients. But they don't need to know that.) 
Tips and printables for putting on a classroom feast and Stone Soup book study.

You can find Gratitude vocabulary freebies here:
Stone soup is also ridiculously easy to make and the ingredients are common and inexpensive. I always ask parents to volunteer to bring items in. 

You can decide what works best for you but these are the items I ask for: 
diced onions (cleaned and pre-packaged, my school requires this), diced celery, 3 cartons of chicken broth, 2 cans of sliced carrots, 1 can sliced potatoes, dinner rolls, butter, sturdy paper bowls, spoons, juice and cups, fruit cups/applesauce cups, and packaged cookies for desert.  **teacher tip** I like to add a cube of bouillon for flavor.

Another friendly tip,  ask for the items to be brought in a day or two before your feast date so that you can purchase any missing items. I have put on the feast without any parent volunteers in the past and it didn't cost me much. You will also need a crock pot, ladle, paper products, and A CAN OPENER! For the love, don't forget the can opener. Not that I've ever done that or anything. While your soup simmers I love to engage my students in some Stone Soup themed activities. We list the ingredients, talk about the story elements, and compare the different versions of the story. You can find everything you need for a successful feast in my Stone Soup Printables Pack. There are handy sign-up and reminder sheets for parents and worksheets to help you plan your Stone Soup book study.
Tips and printables for putting on a classroom feast and Stone Soup book study.

I hope these tips have helped you plan a classroom feast. I'd love to hear your tips, experiences, or classroom traditions. Feel free to share in the comments section.  Happy Feasting!

How to put on a Classroom Feast- Stone Soup

November is my favorite time of year for so many reasons. The back-to-school hustle and bustle has settled down, I've bonded with my new group of mini-wheats and the spirit of the holidays is in the air! I've put on a classroom feast for the past 16 years. While it can seem like a lot of work, it doesn't have to be and it is so worth it!
Tips and printables for putting on a classroom feast and Stone Soup book study.

I love to time my classroom feast for the week of Thanksgiving but there's never a bad time to build community and break bread with your littles. It is such a valuable experience and can provide experiential learning for so many academic standards. Our feast comes at the end of a combined Social Studies and Language Arts unit on families and story elements. 
Stone Soup is a folktale that comes in many versions. These are the three that I use:

Each version is slightly different but they all end with the same lesson- all people thrive when a community shares and works together. I love to build upon this theme by tying it into our classroom community and the idea that our classroom is like a family- with rich traditions, love, acceptance, and generosity. I introduce the word gratitude and explain the magic of voicing the things you are grateful for out loud. I purchased a stone from Amazon that says gratitude on it, but any stone would do. We pass it from person to person, never letting it touch a table or the floor. Each child must say something they are grateful for before passing it along. The last child places it in our pot before we add our ingredients. (**teacher secret** I sneak the dirty, touched-by-everyone-in-the-class-stone out of the pot before we add our ingredients. But they don't need to know that.) 
Tips and printables for putting on a classroom feast and Stone Soup book study.

You can find Gratitude vocabulary freebies here:
Stone soup is also ridiculously easy to make and the ingredients are common and inexpensive. I always ask parents to volunteer to bring items in. 

You can decide what works best for you but these are the items I ask for: 
diced onions (cleaned and pre-packaged, my school requires this), diced celery, 3 cartons of chicken broth, 2 cans of sliced carrots, 1 can sliced potatoes, dinner rolls, butter, sturdy paper bowls, spoons, juice and cups, fruit cups/applesauce cups, and packaged cookies for desert.  **teacher tip** I like to add a cube of bouillon for flavor.

Another friendly tip,  ask for the items to be brought in a day or two before your feast date so that you can purchase any missing items. I have put on the feast without any parent volunteers in the past and it didn't cost me much. You will also need a crock pot, ladle, paper products, and A CAN OPENER! For the love, don't forget the can opener. Not that I've ever done that or anything. While your soup simmers I love to engage my students in some Stone Soup themed activities. We list the ingredients, talk about the story elements, and compare the different versions of the story. You can find everything you need for a successful feast in my Stone Soup Printables Pack. There are handy sign-up and reminder sheets for parents and worksheets to help you plan your Stone Soup book study.
Tips and printables for putting on a classroom feast and Stone Soup book study.

I hope these tips have helped you plan a classroom feast. I'd love to hear your tips, experiences, or classroom traditions. Feel free to share in the comments section.  Happy Feasting!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Celebration Blog Hop




The best part of being a teacher blogger is getting to connect and learn from other teachers. I am so lucky to have found a great tribe of teachers in this virtual world- dedicated, creative, HILARIOUS, and gifted teachers who I'm proud to call friends- my gals in The Primary Punchbowl! We are celebrating our official one year anniversary with this Blog Hop. 

Activities for celebrating my teacher's birthday.
In the spirit of celebration I wanted to share this FREEBIE. We all celebrate our students' birthdays but in the Elementary world our kids also love to celebrate teacher birthdays too. My kiddos love to write birthday notes to me. Using the graphic organizer helps my students to plan their writing and organize their thoughts. Its a win-win and builds community in our room. I hope your kids love it. You can download it by clicking the picture above. 

You'll find more great celebration ideas and freebies by following our 1 year anniversary blog hop and also be eligible to win a gift card to Target. Click the picture below to be linked to Wild West by Jessie and continue your hop!




Celebration Blog Hop




The best part of being a teacher blogger is getting to connect and learn from other teachers. I am so lucky to have found a great tribe of teachers in this virtual world. Dedicated, creative, HILARIOUS, and gifted teachers who I'm proud to call friends- may gals in The Primary Punchbowl! We are celebrating our official one year anniversary with this Blog Hop. 

Activities for celebrating my teacher's birthday.
In the spirit of celebration I wanted to share this FREEBIE. We all celebrate our students' birthdays but in the Elementary world our kids love to celebrate our birthdays too. My kiddos love to write birthday notes to me. Using the graphic organizer helps my students to plan their writing and organize their thoughts. Its a win-win and builds community in our room. I hope your kids love it. You can download it by clicking the picture above. 

You'll find more great celebration ideas and freebies by following our 1 year anniversary blog hop and also be eligible to win a gift card to Target. Click the picture below to be linked to Wild West by Jessie and continue your hop!




Sunday, January 24, 2016

Genre Study

For the past month the Mini-Wheats have been working on a Genre Study. Our curriculum requires students to identify and explain Fantasy, Realistic Fiction, Poetry and Nonfiction. Many of the resources I found were either for upper grade levels or too dry for my fun loving firsties, thus, my Genre Study Unit was born.
Included is everything you'll need for a unit on the 4 main genres all primary students should be exposed to.
I began our unit with read-alouds and our Genre Study Notebook. Each page in the notebook has an organizer for each genre. You could use these in small groups or whole group.
I made your planning easy by offering some book suggestions. Obviously you do not need to use these titles but I found them to be best for my little ones because the elements for each genre are so clearly represented.

After we completed our Read-Alouds and Genre Study Journals we did some Genre Sorting and practiced Identifying Genres in small groups. 
In the Genre Sort, groups of students sort genre elements on to the correct posters. My students loved this activity so much that it has now become a center during our ELA rotations. I had planned on hanging the posters up. Guess not! :)
For Identifying Genres I gave each group of students a book bin containing 4 books of varying genres. They were allowed to use their Genre Study Notebooks as reference. Each group also had 4 book marks. The groups needed to look at and discuss each book and then mark it with the correct genre book mark. I love any activity that encourages my students to discuss and support opinions using vocabulary and information I've front loaded for them. As I walked around the room and saw my students huddled together, reading the selections, opening their journals to re-read what they'd written, and passionately persuading other group members I was so proud. 
The final piece to this unit is a cut and paste assessment that tests students' understanding of the elements included in each genre. 
Our Genre Study coincided with our Opinion Writing Unit. I coupled the two units and challenged my students to write a book review using what they had learned about Genres and supporting opinions in both units. Below you can download the freebie graphic organizer my students used. It could also be used a book log to further support your ELA block.
I hope your students enjoy studying Genres as much as mine did! You can check out the full unit below:
Thank you for stopping by! I've been working hard on updates and posting new items in my store. You may want to check out:
If you own this TOP SELLER you'll want to go and reload- its got all new fonts and now includes all sight words from both the Dolch and Fry word lists!

My newest Math Centers based on Tens and Ones.
New FREEBIE! Winter Grouping Cards. My kids beg for these every time we do partner work. Take all of the guess work out of partnering your kids. 
Math 1-120 charts is inspired by Math Expressions curriculum. If you use MathX this is a must have!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

New Year's Resolution Blog Linky Party!

2015! What a year. So much happened, I think it's time for a re-cap of the year I got the nerve to make one of the biggest changes of my professional life and see what I have in store for 2016!

2015 began with a new blog design for me. I love my darling little Mini-Wheat.
I still have A LOT to learn about blogging and in 2016 I hope to finish Blog Traffic School and post on a more regular basis. I'm also loving my collaboration with some very talented teachers at The Primary Punch Bowl. 

In 2015, I also got up on my soap box and spilled my guts about my thoughts and frustrations with the New York State Education system. This post also solidified my resolve to continue pursuing a job change.

I had just returned from maternity leave, during which I had begun to get my professional life in order: resume, transcripts, letters of recommendation. I didn't know if it would "work". I mean, there are 22 year-olds coming out of college with 3-4 certifications and here I was with ONE. But, I decided I would try.

After MONTHS of applying and waiting for phone calls, none came, I started to lose hope and pretty much decided that it wasn't going to happen. The school year came to end and I took this, now ironic photo:
Little did I know that in a few months I'd look back on this photo with big, fat, sentimental tears. 

In mid-July I received THE phone call offering me an interview with my dream district.  Not just any district, MY hometown, the district I graduated from. A district with TOP ranked elementary schools. To say I was nervous is the biggest understatement of the year. lol. I spent the next 6 nights video taping myself answering interview questions I found online and designing, printing, and organizing my portfolio. I plan to do a blog post on this soon- seriously my level of preparation was almost military grade. I look back on that now and I'm kind of amazed by myself. 

The interview went well and three days later they called and offered me a job....a long-term subbing job. I was devastated. I was a little mad. I of course, had to turn them down. I was a 14 year veteran with a good job and young family. It was not a risk I wanted to take. 
So, I accepted that I was meant to be a city school teacher. To be honest I was kind of relieved. No more sneaking around, no more insane stress and prep, no more guilt. I LOVED my school, I LOVED my kids, and my colleagues are/were my best friends in the world. As for my district, well, I'd make it work. I'd done it for 14 years and I just had to keep believing I was part of the solution, not the problem. And then.....I went to Cape Cod.

While renting a small cottage with my little family, steps from the beach, I decided to head out one night and catch the Persioid meteor shower. It was supposed to peak at mid-night and I couldn't think of a better place to watch then at a bench on the Atlantic Ocean. I posted this picture to my instagram that night:

You see, I fancy myself a bit of a profession star wisher. I'm not superstitious, just a little 'stitious. Hahahaha!  I'm also not traditionally religious but I did offer some thoughts up to the universe that night. I wished that my job situation would make itself clear and if I was meant to be a city school teacher for life I would ROCK it. The next morning, 11 hours later, my phone rang. It was the HR director of my dream district and she offered me a permanent 1st grade spot. The rest is history.

That night my hubby and I toasted to a new adventure while I texted furiously with my best friends (and colleagues) in the world. Through it all they supported and encouraged me.There were lots of tears, lots of smiles, a real night to remember. 
I'm really proud of 2015, the year I grew up, professionally. I set a goal and although it was a TON of hard work, lots of second guessing, and no guarantees, I stuck with it. I'm sooooo happy at my new school. I feel energized and appreciated like I haven't in a long time.  I look back with such fondness at my time in my old school. That school will always be my family and I don't regret one second of the time I spent there. It made the teacher and person I am today. 

Okay, enough reminiscing- time to look forward! My resolutions to make 2016 just as memorable!!

1. I have been SEARCHING for balance for the past 2 years. I'm so hopeful that not that my kids are a little older- 1.5 and 5, I'll start to have more time and consistency. I can see veteran moms laughing right now. Being a #teachermom is tough enough but then throw in blogging and TpT? Oye. I don't ever want to look back and wish I'd spent more time with my kids. I think having a dedicated creating and blogging schedule will help. I NEED to have my time. TpT isn't just a business for me- it's a hobby. The creative outlet is so necessary to my mental health. I'd welcome any tips!

2.I have been trying to get back to my pre-baby #2 fitness level. Before I got pregnant the second time around, I was in the best shape of my life. I did the Tough Mudder, I was running 10-15 miles a week, I was eating right and feeling great. Then...baby #2. Its a game changer!! A wonderful game changer, but one that takes some real adjustment.  I've recently started running again on a regular basis and I'm hoping to get my eating under control after this holiday season. We're going to Naples, FL for February break and I'm hoping that'll be good motivation for me. Click on the picture below for my Pinterest Board dedicated to Health and Fitness. I'll check back in in a few weeks and tell ya how I'm doing. Bikini in 7 weeks?? 
3. ORGANIZE. Listen, I'm not talking just school- I'm talking about ALL the things. Home, financial, school, my purse...lol. I'm hoping to do a series of blog posts on how I keep myself organized at school because i SWEAR I use up all my 'organizational energy' there. The rest of my life is a hot mess. Please tell me you can relate. 
Well, that sums up my resolutions for 2016. I hope you'll check back with me as the year progresses! Have an amazingly fun and safe celebration tomorrow! I know I'll be partying it up because this weekend will be crunch time- back to school and planning. My entire store will be 20% off through the weekend and I have a lot of new products for New Years Activities in the classroom. I hope You'll check them out. 




Thanks to my pals at My Day In K and Teach Talk Inspire for this awesome linky!