Showing posts with label winter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label winter. Show all posts

Friday, January 15, 2016

Winter writing, math notebooks, and MLK

It was a busy short week!  Short week because the kiddos have no school but we do....Professional Development. It's time for Five for Friday with Doodle Bugs Teaching.

After taking down all the holiday hoopla my bulletin boards were looking a little naked so we were on a mission to do craftivities- I mean writing work.

These "Oh no, What's in my cocoa?" craftivities writing projects by SunnyDays (can I say projects?!) are adorable.  They look so cute displayed!
I love these Interactive Math Notebooks by Blair Turner! The kiddos love them too.  It's a nice break from the 4 page per lesson math workbook but that's a whole 'nother post. 

We have been working hard learning about Martin Luther King this week with my MLK close Read

We read Snowmen at Night and brainstormed ideas on how our snowman could melt. We wrote about how we made a snowmen, where it was, and how it melted.

Our classroom mascot, Charlie has been very busy this week reading with kids, cuddling, and helping settle some of my kiddos who have had some emotional struggles this week.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

How to Make Read-Alouds Meaningful

Have you ever been asked told to incorporate a new model, a new curriculum, or a new strategy in your classroom but are not given the resources to do it, or at least teach it in a way you feel is meaningful?

Yea. Me too.

We are incorporating a balanced literacy approach this year in my district but we have had very little training and no resources.  It's frustrating to say the least.

Balanced literacy, in short, is the reader's workshop model by Lucy Caulkins.  In sum, we begin each reader's workshop with a 10-15 reading mini-lesson and then send the kiddo's off for 15-30 minutes of reading.

I will be honest and has been the best of times..... and it has been the worst of times.

I think the problem lies in my lack of confidence teaching something that I just don't feel confident in teaching.  Am I doing right?  Is this what I am supposed to be doing? Have I taught them enough strategies?  Are they fluent readers? How is their reading comprehension? Can they retell a story in sequence with details?

I have spent countless hours searching Pinterest, googling reader's workshop lessons, searching Teachers Pay Teachers, watching You Tube videos, and reading Lucy Caulkins (Have you ever read Lucy Caulkins?  It was painful people....painful.).

Lisa from Pawsitively Teaching popped up in my follower emails from Teachers Pay Teachers the other day with a new product called Winter Read Alouds and wow!  Just wow! I am heading back to school on Monday feeling sooo much better about how I will teach with a balanced literacy method.  I feel like I have a set of tools that I haven't had before.

I now have a few months of balanced literacy lessons right at my fingertips.  It is so amazing I just had to blog about to let others know about it in case someone else is in the same boat as me. 

Well...welcome aboard.  This is cruise director Julie and I'm going to help you set sail by showing how you can use this resource to help you with your read alouds in the classroom.

You can use it in small groups, or in large groups.  It's life changing.  Seriously. It's that good.

Here are Lisa's tips for making read alouds successful in your classroom:

Each book comes with a lesson for each read aloud that looks like this:
To break it down further this is how the lesson plan is set up:
Graphic organizers are also included:
The Mitten lesson shown in this post is available for FREE in Lisa's store here.
You can get all of these titles:

The Mitten by Jan Brett
The Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett
Snow by Cynthia Rylant
Martin's Big Words by Doreen Rappaport
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
The Missing Mitten Mystery by Steven Kellogg
Penguin and Little Blue by Megan McDonald
Snow Globe Family by Jane O'Connor
Blizzard by John Rocco
Snowmen at Night by Carolyn Buehner
Cinders: A Chicken Cinderella by Jan Brett
Over and Under the Snow by Kate Hessner
The Turnip by Jan Brett
The Biggest Snowman Ever by Steven Kroll
Brave Irene by William Steig
Sneezy the Snowman by Maureen Wright
The Hat by Jan Brett
Grumpy Groundhog by Maureen Wright
The Gruffalo's Child by Julia Donaldson
Porcupining: A Prickly Love Story by Lisa Wheeler
Akiak: A Tale from the Iditarod by Robert Blake
and these skills:
Making Inferences
Story Elements
Using Context Clues
Cause and Effect
Problem and Solution
Compare and Contrast
Making Predictions
Figurative Language
Character Traits
and Many More
in her Winter Read Alouds product for purchase here.  It's 2 months worth of read alouds/lessons for about the cost of a coffee and donut. I know that these days....
I could do without the donut
but I can't do without the 2 months worth of reading lessons!
You can find Lisa from Pawsitively Teaching blog about this product here or visit her Teacher's Pay Teacher's store, Pawsitively Teaching here.

How do you make the most of read aloud time in your classroom?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

10 Ways to Beat the Winter "Blahs" In and Out of the Classroom

Is it just me or is this the winter the never ends?  I mean, seriously?  I live in New England and thus far this school year there has been one snowstorm.  One.  Not that I want to relive the blizzard of '78 but let's just keep it real here...I never get more excited to her my superintendent's voice then on a snow day.

Yup.  That about sums it up.  It's as big as getting a new car.  You know I'm  not lying!  The best is when my own kids have school but I don't.  That- my friends is a little piece of heaven. Just sayin'

I have absolutely no use for the winter after the holiday season, especially when there is no snow. It is ridiculously cold.  The playground is a sheet of ice and I'm just done.  Over. D-O-N-E. Done. So....are you feeling the same?

Let's see if we can "fall in love" with winter all over again, ok?  Ok...well maybe not fall in love.  Maybe.... figure out a way to get through it. Is that better?

I will begin with 10 ways to survive winter in the classroom because as we all know if you live in an area where there is snow there is only one thing worse than report card season and that is....INDOOR RECESS. I promise I won't say it again.  I know how painful it is.

Have a beach day! The kiddos can bring towels, wear a bathing suit or a Hawaiian style outfit (if it freaks you out to do bathing suits), read "beachy" themed books, scatter shells around the room.  You can grab some beach themed party decorations at a party store or from Amazon. This beach backdrop is from Oriental Trading.

 Did you know you can type in "Fireplace" in YouTube and get this awesomeness?

Ok so this next suggestion..... a disclosure:  this is not my personal favorite activity BUT it is my students'.  They love, love, love "Tent Day."  I bring in a bunch of sheets, drape them over my classroom tables and the kids work throughout the day on clipboards under the table.  I have also called this "Hibernation Day." Another disclosure:  I highly recommend leaving at least one side of the "tent" open so you can see inside.  I don't know a kid that doesn't love a tent or fort made out of sheets or blankets.

Let's face it-academic rigor is getting intense.  Are your students looking at you with those glazed over eyes as if you are speaking a different language?  Are they acting as if they are well hit golf balls in a tile bathroom?  I'm giving you permission to take a break from the academic rigor for a bit to do the "f" word.  Yup.  I put it out there.  FUN!  You can still have fun and the kiddos can still be learning. How about a fun craftivity?  There are tons of ideas on Pinterest and lots of sellers on Teachers Pay Teachers have some adorable craftivities.  First Grade Blue Skies has some adorable ones that I love like this:

Mrs. Masters Kinderlove has an amazing idea for a classroom mascot.  She uses a large life-like stuffed dog in her classroom for a class mascot.  I loved the idea so much that as soon as I finished reading her post about it on the collaborative blog The Primary Pack, I darted onto Amazon and bought my dear Charlie here.

Isn't he adorable? Since I have a beagle myself, I bought this beagle for my classroom. Let me just tell changing.  For real.  These kids are in love.  They write him letters and notes, leave him pictures, make him collars.  He sits with kids who are listening well.  It is one of the very best forms of bribery building a classroom community that I have implemented.  Even the parents love it.  One day, our assistant principal delivered a box of dog supplies guessed it...Charlie. 

Parents embrace the"gift of imagination" and classroom community.  When the kids ask me if Charlie is real, I tell them that to me, he is and that's a true story.

Ok now...don't judge.  Sometimes it's the simple things, right?  I use a plug in air refreshner in my classroom.  Every time I walk in, I am greeted with the aroma of lavender. You can choose between a plethora of scents and I tell works.  I dare you....

I am always getting compliments on my plants that I have in my classroom. Everyone wants to know if they are fake.  I swear to you...I can't even plant a grass seed with success. I have no idea why my plants in my classroom thrive but they do.  It must be those happy kid voices.  Whatever it is, they do add a bit of a "homey" touch and since windows align my back wall when I look out and all I see is ice or snow, it's nice to have some fresh green plants in the classroom. Disclosure:  Those are tissue paper polka dot pom-pom flowers on my closet doors. Those are fake but they make me smile. So are the lavender flowers in the pencil vase on my desk.  They make me smile too. :) They other plants aren't really and Spidey (my luscious spider plant) is missing from these pics.  Sorry Spidey.

How about a dance party?  Set a timer on your phone every once in a while during the day and take a break to have a little dance party!

Sometimes, you just have to close the lesson plan book and do a fun read-aloud. Sometimes the kiddos are just coming a bit un-glued and you just gotta "reel it back in." My students LOVE Junie B. Jones books by Barbara Park.  Clementine by Sarah Penny Parker is great for older kiddos.

When all else fails.... stop for a Grande Mocha Latte on your way into school.  You deserve it. Permission granted.

Now what about You ?  Here are some ways that you can beat the winter blah's. 

1.Get a pedicure or manicure.
2. Go to a local coffee shop with your favorite magazine and give yourself 30 minutes with your favorite beverage.
3. Get a massage. 
4. Buy yourself a new outfit.
5. Can't afford a manicure or don't have the time?  Buy a nail polish in your favorite color.
6. Break out the crockpot and make a great soup.
7. Find a home accent you love.  A new picture frame, an adorable knick, knack, an artificial plant or wall hanging. The possibilities are endless.
8. Get a great smelling candle.
9. Buy yourself some fresh flowers and put them in a cute vase or mason jar.
10. Grab a blanket, comfy slippers, and People magazine and enjoy some time for yourself.

 As a finish this post-be careful what you wish for....a major blizzard is on its way and will land here in Boston in the next 24 hours.  I better apply some of my strategies.  Grandmother Winter is holding strong but....I am stronger.

Enjoy the day. Do you have any tips for beating the winter blues? I love hearing from you!!! :)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Pinterest Picks

I'm very excited to be participating in this super fun Pinterest Pick 3 linky with my dear friends Lisa from Pawsitively Teaching and Marissa from The Inspired Owl's Corner!

Here are my top 3 Pinterest Pins for December:

I love these patterns for making gingerbread houses from lunch paper bags by  We do a "gingerbread activity day" each year and this would be fun!  My students LOVE to color!  You do need to register with to get these patterns.  I did it and it's very easy and free!
How adorable is this guy? can teach your students how to make one too with the easy peesy step by step drawing directions from Artventurous.  Love it!

Do you have paint chips laying around?  These are darling!  They are worth the trip to the hardware store, aren't they.  Thanks Bargain Hoot for the great idea!  What teacher doesn't love a bargain?!
What did we ever do before Pinterest?  Do you have some favorite Pinterest picks for this month?  We'd love if you would link up with us!
Happy Holidays!

An InLinkz Link-up
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