Bye, Bye Summer... (Lots of Freebies!)

It is with a bittersweet voice that I say goodbye to summer.  Don't get me wrong, I've been in school now for over a month.  But with Labor Day is here which means real summer is leaving us as well..  :(  But with fall around the corner, there is SO much to look forward to.  Bonfires, Smores, Halloween, Fall decorations, pumpkin carvings.  I could keep going!  I LOVE Fall!!  

So the past four weeks have made me extremely busy and tired.  I'm officially 9 months pregnant (due in 3 weeks!!).  They say there's no tired like back to school teacher tired - I say there's no pregnant like back to school PREGNANT teacher tired!!  Whew!  

So I've been taking lots of pics and wanting to tell you all about the fun things we've been doing!  I hope you'll read along with me and maybe snag a few freebies as you read?  Here we go!

A look back on August 2014:

So like most of you, I start in reading with teaching story elements.  Getting to know the characters, setting, etc.  Before really diving into traits, change, etc - I wanted my students to understand all of the aspects of a character and what 'good readers' look for when reading.  So I created this fun character wheel!  

The students used the wheel to analyze the characters in the story and to dabble in each important part of what good readers look for when thinking about their characters.  

They used bullet points for each section to take notes on the important parts they remember from the story.

This wheel will work for ANY book!  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!  Click the photo to download it for FREE!  Make sure to let me know how you like it :)  

So continuing our work with Characters, we got to use my Characters with Character activity packet.  The students got to practice reading stories and choosing character traits for the character in the story.  They even find evidence to justify their choices.  So fun!!  

Click on the photos to check it out!  

 So fluency is important at the beginning of the year too.  I always do a lesson on 'What is fluency'.  This year I was able to use our new technology (iPADS!)  I recorded myself reading a passage 3 different ways and we analyzed what did well and not to well each time we listened to it.  I LOVE this anchor chart from Teaching with a Mountain View:

So I used it and created a recording sheet to help us analyze my fluency.  After the lesson, the kids really understood what fluency really meant!  


Click on the photo below to download the recording sheet for FREE!

Ok - so here's one of my FAVORITES!!  I've done this activity now for a few years, but always forget to take pictures and post about it.  Do you know what SHOES and PUNCTUATION have in common!?  Punct - SHOE - ation... Get it!?!?  My kids die laughing when I show them this.  Check out this fun, easy activity.  I find cheap flip flops at a nearby dollar store and draw on them large punctuation marks.  On sentence strips, I write out sentences without the ending punctuation marks.  Give each group 3 flip flops (. ? !) and a few strips and ta-da!  Instant motivation!  

I even made a recording sheet where the students had to write out their sentences, add the punctuation mark and check which type of sentence they read.  (YES - I realize the 'n' is missing from the word punctuation.... but I've lost the original ppt document and only have it in pdf format :(  I apologize - but it's free so you're happy right!?)

Click on the photos to download the recording sheet for FREE!

Ok - last one, I promise!  We all do fun matching games yes? I did one with sentences and their types.  Each student had a card - it either had 1 of the 4 types of sentences or it had a sentence with missing punctuation.  They had to find a partner that matched their sentence.  But what was fun, I had them do "Punctuation Poses" when they found their partner.  They rolled up in a ball for a period...

Made themselves straight and tall for exclamation points....

(sorry for the unrotated pic) and made themselves into ?? for questions!  

Can you tell they are having a blast!? 

I hope you've enjoyed hearing about what we've been up to in room 129 (126 really!!)  Please let me know what you think about the freebies you've downloaded.  (Please let me know if any of the links don't work!)

To help celebrate the 'end of summer' - I, along with some other fantastic bloggers, are doing a Dog Days of Summer DOLLAR SALE!

All FOUR of these items have been put on sale for just $1.00 until Sunday night at midnight!  I hope you find something you like :)  Links are below!

(students practice analyzing characters and choosing character traits to match them)

(students practice inferring the setting of a story by going through the character's TRASH!)

(Students practice answer questions from table of contents, index, and glossary)

(Students practice analyzing paragraphs and deciding which is or is not a paragraph)

Check out the other great sales going on!!

Making the Most of Your Small Group Materials!

It's my FAVORITE time of the month again - Bright Ideas Link Up!!  Spending my weekend going through over all 100 blogs and getting these amazing ideas is so overwhelming, but in such a good way!!  After reading through my post, make sure to check out the rest of the amazing bloggers as well!  

So I'm already going into my 3rd FULL week of school.  We are in full swing.  I already have papers to grade and everything - any takers ;)  I plan on taking them with me this weekend and grading them while watching my home town's 'parade'.  Can we say multi-tasking!?  I think that's every teacher's middle name!  Anywho...  while looking around my room wondering what to blog about, I started thinking about what was something NEW I had done this year that someone else may like to hear about.  This may already be a 'popular' thing to do and I was the one out of the loop and if so, I apologize - but I LOVE this idea!  Small Group Materials Baskets!!  

I, as most teachers, have kids working in groups all the time.  At least once a day at some point.  And each time they need something different to complete their task - i.e. markers, crayons, dice, scissors, etc.  I spent my mornings getting all of the materials ready they needed OR they spent time during the lesson getting this out and that out.  So over it!!  So I decided to make pre-ready - small group materials baskets.  They are pre-made with materials that small groups use the majority of the time.  Since I've taken the pictures, I've added a few more things (listed below).  

Like I said, not much in them in the photos, but since then I've added a few more items:

*Magnifying Glasses
*Feedback Fans

These baskets have seriously transformed my time spent gathering things the kids need.  I don't have to worry about it and neither do they.  They don't have to waste time getting anything out either.  Also, if I have a specific material (i.e. base 10 blocks) that I need, all I have to do is plop them into the basket and away they go!  

I have them all sitting up front in my room ready to go.  When I assign groups, one person is in charge of getting the basket and making sure its organized when they bring it back.  I haven't had any problems with them yet and hope not to!  

I'd love to hear what you think!!  What would you put in your baskets??  Make sure to check out the rest of the link up below!!

Shark Week Blog Hop!

All teachers know that kids learn more when they’re excited and engaged. Today a team of bloggers come together to help your students take a BITE out of learning with a theme your students are sure to love!


One way I help my students get excited about learning is to give them activities and materials that entice their love of learning.  I started these fun "Talk Like A..." activities last November with Talk Like a Pilgrim and it was a hit!  Students were so engaged and loved learning new words that they didn't even know they were practicing such an important and key skill:  Context Clues So after the first one, I decided to make them for each month of the year.  They couldn't WAIT to learn to talk like a ________ (insert character of the month)

Of course, picking topics the students are interested in always helps, too!

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My Shark Week freebie is a "Talk Like a Shark" context clue activity.  This pack includes 6 different shark themed words where students use context clues to determine their meanings.  An anchor chat poster, cards, recording sheet, answer key, and an extension activity (create a diagram) are included!  Your students will love learning all about sharks by learning new vocabulary terms that will make them come to life!

Click HERE to try it out!

Be sure to go for a swim in the linky party below. Every blog in the Shark Week Blog Hop features a fishy freebie for you and your students- but hurry! Shark Week only lasts until Sunday, August 17th  : )

Back to School Night - Open House!!

     I seriously cannot believe that school has already started and that I've been in session now for 4 days!  My class is great - I'm loving getting to know all of them :)  I have pictures of my class ready to go and I had hoped to get a blog post of revealing it all to you but I haven't done that yet.  Soon though!  I promise :)  First, I wanted to take a minute and tell ya how open house went!

 I only have 19 kids (I'll be getting a few more in a few weeks).  Out of those 19 I had 15 families show up!  Not bad at all :)  I'm very impressed and happy I got to meet and talk to all of those families.  I was able to answer a lot of questions and everyone seemed to be on board with everything that I have going on in the room so I'm hoping its a smooth year!  So here's how I run my b2s night:

I first have the parents sign in and take a scavenger hunt paper.  I don't like being bombarded with parents and questions, I want them to explore the room first and then come to me at the end of the hunt. Here's a close look at the scavenger hunt:

Basically I have the kids take the parents to different 'stations' around the room.  I have them show off their desks, explain our behavior system, sign up for parent/teacher conferences, grab some important info - the usual B2S things :)  

On the desks, I have a few important things for the parents:  A mint to say thank you, a beginning of the year data packet, a printed copy of the powerpoint presentation I go through during open house, a business card, and log in information for a website our school has access to.  

Here's a close up of the data packet.  Before open house, I try to collect as much data on the students as possible to give to the parents.  I feel that letting them know up front where their child stands is important.  I give a fluency test, cold read comprehension test, sight word test, and a fact test (addition to start with).  Then I type of a letter explaining each one and what the 'norms' are for the grade.  This way parents can easily compare where their child is to where they should be right now.

Parent enjoy getting this information and then when it comes to conferences in the fall, there are no 'surprises' if a child is behind :)  

Another stop on the scavenger hunt is my 'giving tree'.  Don't laugh - I totally made this like 6 years ago so it's been through the ringer - but I still love it :)

I saw a few parents walk away with some apples so hopefully our class will be getting some extra supplies soon :)  

The newest stop this year on the hunt was the Take and Play station.  (Please note, this was NOT my original idea.  I saw it posted by another blogger on while on my cell and I snapshot a pic on my phone and have not been able to find who the original post-er was).  

This table has a lot going on.  Turn in trays for the parent forms, parent/teacher conference sign ups, a "How to help your child at home" reading paper and then the big one - the Practicing at Home board.  I made this last night and am super excited to have it and use it each year.  I plan to put it back out at conferences to parents can replenish if needed.  Basically it has 7 different games on it.  There's a small note to the parents on it that explains that these games will help enforce skills they will be learning here at school.  There are 4 math games, 2 reading and 1 writing.  Below are the links to all of the products/games I used to put this together.  Let me know if you have any questions about it!  :)

The 2 reading games are:  

Dice Games - Reading & Language Arts (Freebie!) by Common Core and So Much More!

The writing game is:

Roll & Write (Freebie) by Where the Wild Things Learn

The math games came from:

Fun with Math - 14 No Prep Math Games - from Little Schoolhouse on the Prarie

Here's a closer look:

I got a lot of great feedback about it from the parents.  I even had a small container of dice and paperclips for them to take so they had them at home to play the games.  I love knowing I can help them in any way I can :)  

Finally, here's the ppt/pdf I use when I present.  It basically tells all about my policies and classroom.  Click on the photo to check it out!

Whew!  It was quite a night.  I ran out that door once my last parent left.  I had to get home to these adorable ones!  I missed them way too much in the last few days :)

AHH!!  LOVE them :)  I'd love to hear about your back to school night!!!  Make sure to leave a comment :)  I love hearing from my readers!  

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