November 21, 2016

Top 5 Books to Teach About Gratitude and Compassion



#1 Too Many Turkeys by Linda White

This is a fun book about a turkey wandering onto a farm and making the garden the most beautiful garden in the neighborhood. Another turkey shows up on the farm...and then another...and another...and another. It is a great story that just keeps building and building as the turkeys multiply. 

#2 Twas the Night before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey

My students always love this one! The children take a trip to the turkey farm. They are shocked to find out the farmer is going to have all the turkeys for dinner. They decide they are going to smuggle all of the turkeys to their homes. 

#3 A Turkey for Thanksgiving by Eve Bunting
This is such a great book! Mr. and Mrs. Moose are having Thanksgiving dinner. They are missing turkey for their dinner. They set out to find turkey and find out he is scared they want to eat him for dinner. They want them to be at their table to celebrate, not on it. 

#4 Thanksgiving is for Giving Thanks by Margaret Sutherland

This book is a great book for the younger students. It is all about the true meaning of Thanksgiving and giving thanks. This is a great way to teach about gratitude through a read aloud. 

#5 The Great Thanksgiving Race by Steve Metzger


This book will make your students smile. There are three turkeys and they all want to be the Thanksgiving Turkey. They have a contest to see which of them the farmer will pick. This is a fun book to read aloud! 

There are so many great ways you can use these books in your classroom! Here are a few interactive activities that will help you create a fun way to show gratitude. Here is a freebie that you can use with any book! Have a fabulous Thanksgiving! I appreciate you and all of the amazing work you do daily! 


Top 5 Books to teach about gratitude and compassion during Thanksgiving.


#1 Too Many Turkeys by Linda White

This is a fun book about a turkey wandering onto a farm and making the garden the most beautiful garden in the neighborhood. Another turkey shows up on the farm...and then another...and another...and another. It is a great story that just keeps building and building as the turkeys multiply. 

#2 Twas the Night before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey

My students always love this one! The children take a trip to the turkey farm. They are shocked to find out the farmer is going to have all the turkeys for dinner. They decide they are going to smuggle all of the turkeys to their homes. 

#3 A Turkey for Thanksgiving by Eve Bunting
This is such a great book! Mr. and Mrs. Moose are having Thanksgiving dinner. They are missing turkey for their dinner. They set out to find turkey and find out he is scared they want to eat him for dinner. They want them to be at their table to celebrate, not on it. 

#4 Thanksgiving is for Giving Thanks by Margaret Sutherland

This book is a great book for the younger students. It is all about the true meaning of Thanksgiving and giving thanks. This is a great way to teach about gratitude through a read aloud. 

#5 The Great Thanksgiving Race by Steve Metzger


This book will make your students smile. There are three turkeys and they all want to be the Thanksgiving Turkey. They have a contest to see which of them the farmer will pick. This is a fun book to read aloud! 

There are so many great ways you can use these books in your classroom! Here are a few interactive activities that will help you create a fun way to show gratitude. Here is a freebie that you can use with any book! Have a fabulous Thanksgiving! I appreciate you and all of the amazing work you do daily! 


September 19, 2016

5 Steps to a Growth Mindset

Are you striving for that perfect score on your observation from your principal? Wanting to have the highest scores in the school? Upset when a lesson goes wrong? Disappointed when you have a lot of behavior issues and you can't get control over them? Stack full of papers to grade and you don't know where to start? All of these things are felt by teachers every where. It is how we deal with these things that can change our growth mindset. It starts with us as teachers changing our fixed mindset to a growth mindset before we can help our students have a growth mindset.


1. Accept yourself for who you are.

Whoa! This is a tough one! As teachers we are always striving to be the best and coming up with the best lessons to help our students learn. Failure is not accepted well seeing we are observed by administrators and placed under a microscope for every little move we make. Learning to accept yourself for who you are and accepting our imperfections is important. If we hide behind our weaknesses, we will never overcome them and be the best we can be! 

2. Replace the word "failing" with "learning"

We need to replace a lot of sentences in our vocabulary to have a growth mindset. It can be hard. Here a few:


Teaching our students these will help them understand ways to help them have a growth mindset. 

3. See challenges as your opportunities.

When we are faced with a challenge it can be easy to say we aren't going to try. Embrace the challenge as an opportunity to learn. Teaching our students that it is okay to try new things and try new strategies will help promote a growth mindset.  



4. Someone else's approval is not needed.

We all have witnessed many of our students holding their paper up asking "is this okay?". They are seeking approval. Try to get your students to be happy with their work and confident in themselves. We tend to need the approval of fellow teachers or administrators. We have an educational system that promotes this behavior. We really need to try to be happy with what we are doing and try to not ask approval of our work. Asking for help or advice is one thing, but seeking out approval can hinder our growth mindset. 

5. Reflect...reflect...and reflect.

Do you have a time for your students to reflect during the day? Every day our students should reflect on their learning. I know as teachers we are not given any time to reflect. We have meetings, class, students often eating with us, recess duty, running around checking on this and that during prep, we have NO time. We need to make time. Yes, I know it is hard. A colleague of mine would always say during lunch how she wished she just had time to reflect. It is so true, it is vital we reflect on what happened throughout the day and what strategies worked and did not. Try using this reflection sheet with your students! 



I hope this was helpful to you and your classroom! Here are some great ways to help implement a growth mindset into your classroom.


August 21, 2016

Back to School Ideas and Resources


Where did the summer go? I ask myself this EVER SINGLE year! It just flew by and lots of fun was had by all. Now it is time to start back to school. Where do you even start? If you are like me, your entire room had to be packed up and put back together every year. I know...it is NOT FUN! The great thing about it, is that every year I would pick a new theme for decoration! My favorite themes were camping and tropical. I will save that for another post. So, your classroom is all set up and your students are coming soon. What next? Here are some engaging, hands-on activities that will get your year started off just right!
First, it is important to start with an All About Me activity! I just love seeing what my students write about themselves. I always have one of these activities on their table when they come in the classroom. I end up using all of them throughout the first couple weeks of school. It is important to show each student how important they are to the classroom community. They make a great back to school or parent night display.
Next, you will want to have first day of school activities. You may want to have one of these on their table as well when they come into your classroom. I like seeing what is on their reading list, hearing about their summer vacations, and at the end of the day I have them draw and write about their first day of school. Your favorite resource will be the Opening New Adventures locker activity. You are going to have so many fun adventures throughout the school year and you want your students, as well as yourself, to have goals. They will write their goals on their locker decorations and place around the room or in their notebooks to remember throughout the school year. Last, it is always nice to have a word search on their desk. The first day of school often has down time if  you are collecting papers and helping students put their materials away. Be prepared. 


This is an example of a slip I use for our classroom rules. After we discuss what a rule is and rules that we think we should have in our classroom, they write down their own rule for our classroom. We develop our classroom rules as a classroom community. We write our rules on a large paper and display in our classroom. Having your students be a part of the rule making is an important part of your classroom management. 
There are so many awesome back to school activities you can do in the first few days. Here are a few more activities that will make your first days run smoothly: Pencils to decorate, Alphabetical Order Word Work, Math Color Sheet, Poem to Welcome Students, and Making Words. 

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." - Nelson Mandela

Now you are set and ready to get out there and change the world! Have an awesome first day of school! 

Here is the link to all of these engaging Back to School Activities Click here for Back to School Activity Pack


July 25, 2016

Welcome Back Newsletters~Editable

How do you stay in contact with your parents? I LOVE sending home newsletters letting them know what we are doing in class. It is a great way to highlight your students and show the parents the great work they are doing! It can be difficult to put an entire newsletter together each month. I needed an easy way that I could just simply type in the highlights of each month and send home to my parents. This editable newsletter has saved me so much time! It looks fantastic and the parents ENJOY receiving it every month. At one point, I got ambitious and was sending home one every week with their word study on it. I KNOW...CRAZY!

It really is simple, type your headings and the information you want for your parents. The design is all there for you with each month being a different theme. You will enjoy just being able to open and type away. I know trying to stay in contact with parents was a goal of mine. I always wanted the parents involved and to know what their student were doing in my classroom. Here is an example of a newsletter:
Start your school year off right! Make a goal to send one newsletter a month and I know your parents and students are going to LOVE them!

May 17, 2016

Teaching Writing Using a Traffic Light

Developing good writers in your classroom takes time. It is something you have to be mindful of when you are planning your instruction. Your students are at various levels and writing skills vary. Finding a way for all students to feel successful is our main goal. Writing using a traffic light has been so beneficial for many students, including mine. It is a simple way for students to understand the writing process.

Starting with the planning process you help your students understand the topic they are writing about. It is important to create prior knowledge for our students. As you all know, some students do not have the prior knowledge important to write what you are asking them to write. Brainstorm together as a large group. Ask questions and spark student led discussions. You will notice they will gain interest in the topic being discussed. Have a notebook handy for your students to keep their ideas. Have a visual for them on an anchor chart or white board. Making sure to set your students up for success from the very beginning is very important. They need to have all the knowledge before we ask them to start writing.

The traffic light paragraph is a guide for your student authors through the writing process. It gives your students a clear outline for their writing. Always start with the green light. This is where you teach them about the topic sentence. Choose a topic as an example and start building prior knowledge with discussion and questioning. This is a part of the planning process. Move to the yellow light, which is the meat and potatoes of their writing, the supporting details. This is a difficult step for most students because they have to come up with details about a topic they may not know a lot about. This is why planning and discussion before hand is so important. You may need to do more questioning for students to encourage writing. Again, doing a large group writing example is a great idea. Start with an easy topic like recess and have them help you write supporting details. Once your students have solid supporting details, they can move to the red light. This is where your students will conclude their writing with a concluding sentence. This is where they need to bring their writing back to the main idea. Give them examples on how you would conclude your writing about recess. Make sure they have the tools and knowledge to come up with a sentence on their own. 

Publishing is an important step in the writing process. This is what your students have been waiting for the entire time! You can have them develop a pop-up book, poster, interactive piece, or simply write on a colored piece of paper. This step is so important. It shows your students their writing matters and is important. Cut long strips of green, yellow, and red paper. Use a large piece of construction paper to display their writing. (It does not matter what color.) Have them write their topic sentence on green, details on yellow, and their concluding sentence on red. Have them add art work if time and there you go, your students will have a writing piece they can be proud of and will be encouraged to keep writing!

*Disclaimer: Be prepared for your students to want you to cut colored strips for every writing piece they ever do from that point on!  

Make sure to check out my Writing a Paragraph Using a Traffic Light resource. Thank you!

May 16, 2016

Flexible Seating in the Classroom


First of all, I know what you are thinking. How am I ever going to do this with my students? I truly believe we should do what is best for our students, and I am sure you do too.  Not all students are going to do well with a desk and a chair (traditional seating). I taught for seven years in a third grade classroom. My first year was hard. Wait, that is an understatement...it was the hardest year of teaching and I wanted to throw in the towel after one year. Yes, one year! I had to evaluate what I was doing and the reason I became a teacher. The reason was pretty simple actually, to give my students the best education possible. If this meant I had to change how I taught, how I set up my classroom, my classroom management, I was going to do it!


I started with choosing a theme. The first year I chose a tropic theme and went all out. I had a tiki Hut, palm trees, benches, and bean bags. I wanted to make my classroom a fun and inviting place to learn. It was absolutely amazing the difference in the mood and energy of my students. It was a game changer for my classroom. Here is a picture of my tiki-hut. My students LOVED it! A camping theme came shortly after that seemed to take over my classroom even more than my tropical theme.



Classroom management is a large component in flexible seating. It is so important to have your classroom management plan in place before you try any changes in your classroom set-up. Having a classroom behavior clip-chart helped my students. All classrooms and teachers are different and a behavior clip-chart may not be what works for you. You have to discover what will work for your students. This might change year to year. My students always knew that I could move them if they were not engaged in what they were working on. Expectations need to be set at the beginning of the year just like you would with traditional seating. 

You don't have to spend a lot of money to have flexible seating. I absolutely love DonorsChoose. I had multiple donations including bean bags, chair back buddies, math supplies, and a reading rug. I found kid's chairs at garage sales and stools that other teachers did not want. Just use what you have or items you find and it will all come together. Parents are another great source of donations. Send a letter home telling them what you are doing and ask if they are willing to donate. Most of the time they are more than willing to donate. 

Get rid of your student desks and replace with tables. This may be the hardest part for some teachers. This was the most exciting part for me. I asked my custodian if I could have tables and he was more than willing to find them for me. I taught in a large school corporation so we did have tables available. He removed all of my desks expect for two. I kept two desks for the students that needed a bit more structure and the traditional seating. Place a few organizational caddies on the middle of the tables and you are all set! 

You are going to love it! It will take time to get used to and you will need a plan before your students come in on the first day. It is something that takes time and patience. Make sure you have a place for everything. Chair back buddies were a must for me; however, I have seen teachers have storage cabinets for student supplies. Find what works for you and your classroom. Have fun with it and enjoy. It is amazing how much your students will grow throughout the year as independent learners. 

April 26, 2016

Utilizing Pop-Up Books to Engage Your Student Authors


I just want to thank Rachel Lynette, from Minds in Bloom, for allowing me to share my ideas on her blog! I am so honored to be a guest blogger! Make sure to check it out! I love talking about how to engage our students in meaningful writing! I would love for you to comment and share. Thank you so much! 

April 24, 2016

3 End of the School Year Tips

Do you remember the beginning of the school year? We all felt motivated, energized, organized, and ready to go! By this time of the school year we are feeling tired, papers are everywhere, and we are ready for Summer break. Field trips, grades, field day, awards, and the list goes on and on. Relax and sit back and hopefully these ideas will lessen the stress you are feeling right now. 




Here are three tips to help you get through the end of the year with activities your students are sure to love! 




This is my FAVORITE part of the end of the school year. I am a picture taking fool all year long! I put all of the pictures together into a movie with music. It is usually three or four songs long. In the beginning of the year I take pictures of all my students. I do this at the end as well before I make the movie. I start the movie with all of their little faces. Any field trip we took, activities in our classroom, their families at conference, and any fun memories throughout the year, go into this movie! I end it with their current pictures. I show this on the last day before they leave. It usually has me crying my eyes out and my students are crying as well...but they are happy tears! We have spent all year together and this is one last awesome memory.




We all want to make our students feel special. It has been our goal the entire year. Why stop now? Giving our students something to remember us by and show them how much they mean to us is important. I love giving my students bookmarks with their picture. Put their bookmark in a favorite book you enjoyed reading as a class and give to them as a gift. 






Memory books are a great way to end a school year! Bring in any extra stickers, paper, and pictures you may have laying around. You can make it as simple or complex as you would like. If you are feeling motivated and want to purchase a large classroom scrapbook to keep, they always turn out wonderful. You may just want to print each student a scrapbook to fill out to take a memory with them. Let your students work together in groups as they work on their memory books. Play music in the background and let them enjoy! This just adds another memory they will not forget. 

Here is a list of some other fun ideas:

  • Give a gift! Make someone that supported you throughout the year feel special. Give them a bag of popcorn with these cute tags. Did you have a paraprofessional work extra hard for you this year? Did you have a student helper? Parent Support? The list goes on and on of people that may have helped you this year.
  Freebie: Popcorn Gift Tags

  • Have a theme. Having a theme will get your students excited and help you get through the rest of the year. I love having a camping theme. We set up our tables like tents, have a make shift camp fire, camp fire chairs, guest readers, camp fire stories, s'mores, and camp fire crackling in the background. This is so much fun!
   



  • Keep learning hands-on and engaging. There have been so many times you have not been able to do an activity you really wanted to do. Now is the time. Have fun learning!
  • Awards are always a must. We all love showing our students how much we appreciated them and their hard work. Set up a red (paper) carpet, place stars down on the floor, print out awards, and enjoy seeing their smiles! 
  • Enjoy. I know this part is hard. Summer is almost here. Take all of these moments in and just have fun. You have worked so hard all year long and deserve it! 

I hope all of these tips are helpful! Have a wonderful end of the school year and have a fantastic summer vacation! Continue down for the blog hop directions!






Blog Hop: 4/24/16 UNTIL 4/26/16 ONLY! Here is your secret letter for the blog hop: R  If you are starting here, here is what you need to do: Hop around to all of the blogs in the hop, get tons of awesome end of the year ideas to have the best end-of-the-year EVER, collect the secret letters at each blog, and then put all the letter's together for the secret phrase to enter the giveaway! Next, you will be heading over to Cait's Cool School to get some more awesome tips and get your next letter! Click here to go to her post! You can enter the giveaway for $50 TpT or Target gift card below once you have hopped through all the blogs! 

Good luck and I hope you have an amazing end of the school year!


Click here to enter




April 17, 2016

3 Test Prep Strategies


Testing time is here and we all know it can be a stressful time. We all want our students to be successful and feel confident going into the test. I always try to find fun and motivating ways to encourage my students. Keeping a good attitude and staying positive is a great start. I have always struggled with test anxiety and do whatever I can to help my students feel confident and ease the anxiety as much as possible. 

I wanted to share a few testing strategies/tips that I use in my classroom. 


Setting your students up for success is so important. You have been working so hard all year long and now it is time for your students to show what they know. Talking about key words and about the test is very beneficial. I always feel like by doing practice test and talking about what to expect, students have less anxiety. I have my students complete a test tip poster that is very helpful. We talk about ways we can prepare for before, during, and after the test. 


Creating a positive atmosphere in your classroom sets the mood for the test. You are a part of the atmosphere as well, so staying positive will rub off on your students. Make them feel good about themselves. Encouragement, encouragement, and more encouragement! I put little notes on their test throughout the year, and this time is no different. They love coming in to a note on their desk telling them how proud of them I am. I also place posters up around the room weeks before the test to give them praise and test taking tips. They love reading these and talking to me about them. 


Be prepared for testing day. My students often times come into my classroom on testing day without eating breakfast. I made sure to have muffins and fruit for them to eat before we started the test. I make sure my tables had dividers already set up. My schedule is already set and I know which students need to go somewhere else for testing. I always have music going on in the background when my students come into the classroom. I also have some type of testing encouragement (make sure to grab this freebie) on their tables. They look forward to this so I make sure it is extra special on testing days! You are setting the tone for testing day so keep it calm and positive. 

This is such a stressful time of the year. Stay encouraged and positive and know you have given all you can and now let your students fly! They are going to do great! Believe in them and yourself. You have done such a great job preparing them to this point! I hope these tips were helpful! I will pray for all of our students! Good luck! 

April 13, 2016

5 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day


I always love celebrating Earth Day in my classroom! It is so nice to see all of my students working together for the good of our Earth and school. My principal always has a "clean-up the playground" schedule for the week. All of the classrooms participate and this is one of the highlights of the week! 

1. Pop-Up Books

We do so many fun and interactive activities during this week! One of my favorites is our pop-up Earth Day books. We start by reading books about Earth Day! 


We brainstorm lots of great ideas about how we can save our Earth. The kids always come up with some amazing ideas that I never thought of before. Make sure to write them all down so your students can see. I use a brainstorming sheet so they can write along with me. It takes us the entire week to go through the writing. Publishing obviously is their favorite part! 

2. Earth Day Promise

This makes for such a great discussion and bulletin board! Have students trace their hands and write a way they promise to help the earth. You will be amazed at their ideas! 


3. Earth Day Trivia

Who doesn't like to play trivia games?!? The kids get so excited when they play any type of game. This is right up their alley. 

I put my students into two groups. They all have white boards so they all have a voice. They have to agree on one answer and show me. This is a win/win for everyone...they are learning and having fun! 

4. Earth Day Poster


This is always a fun way to show what the students have learned. We keep this close all week and work on it as we learn more about Earth Day! 

5. Earth Day Sort

Last, but certainly not least, is our Earth Day Sort. Any way I can get my students engaged in their learning is a plus! I bring in trash and recycling from home and they gather some from the lunch room. We work together to decide what is trash or recycling. At the end they can have more practice in a center by using this sorting activity.


We have so much fun for Earth Day! (When do we NOT have fun.) 
There are so many more activities throughout the week. I would love for you to check them out!

Have fun!