Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Jelly Donut Difference

The Jelly Donut Difference: Sharing Kindness with the World

How do you share kindness in your classroom? Do you read books? Participate in service learning projects? Whatever it may be: thank you.

Sharing kindness in the classroom is one of my favorite things to do. In fourth and fifth grade, we are constantly talking about being kind to one another, while sharing this in our community, too. When I heard about my favorite author's new book, I knew I needed to share this with my students.

Maria Dismondy's books share simple messages of kindness. Not only do these books share kindness, but they are written in a way that students can relate to. In The Jelly Donut Difference, siblings, Leah and Dexter, do not get along. However, they learn how to get along and share kindness and it all begins with a donut.

After reading this adorable picture book with my students, we brainstormed ways to spread kindness. Of course, my ever so creative students came up with the idea to decorate donuts and pass them out to friends or even strangers.

Check out our pictures and how we celebrated kindness while reading The Jelly Donut Difference by Maria Dismondy.

Head over to my Instagram page to win a copy of this book!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Cursive Club

Happy New Year!

I am beyond excited to share with you my newest product: Cursive Club! 

If you watched my Facebook Live video (Click HERE to view) the other day, I mentioned how I teach Cursive Club as an after school program. We don't have a particular handwriting curriculum, so this is a way for students who want to learn cursive to have that instruction. It's a 10 week program for about an hour and a half after school. When I learned that I would teaching it, I knew I had to design my own curriculum for how I would want to see it implemented. 

What will you get? 

140 pages of cursive instruction that includes practice pages, word practice, sentence practice, and my ultimate favorite: GAMES! I've supplied a ton of different options to incorporate games into this unit. Check out my kids in action with them!

Would you rather? 

Cursive Dominos 

Cursive Dice Game

Cursive Jenga

Cursive Write the Room 

Cursive Club can be set up in your own classroom however you'd like. I've designed it in a very simplistic manner to allow teacher to implement it in a way that best fits their classroom. When I teach it, we start whole group and break into small groups. Some days though, we would do everything whole group and independently. It really depends on what you are most comfortable with. 

To organize all the pages that are provided, I bought a binder and tabs. Each week is separated, so I can quickly turn to the week I'm on and grab what is needed. I've also provided supplemental activities if you need more activities during a given week. 

I hope you find this to be a fun way to teach cursive! If you have any questions, please let me know! 

Thank you for your continued support!

Sunday, December 18, 2016


Now find the theme and central idea, find the theme, theme, and central idea (find it)!

Oh, sorry. I was just singing our song for theme...

Click on the image to head to this product

Teaching theme? Need some fun, engaging ways to incorporate music into your lessons? I've got you covered!

I always start this unit with reviewing what theme is and how you find it. Then, we delve into how there are a variety of details that you could identify to help you determine the theme. Here is a sample of a few:

In the pack that I've created, I've given you a recording page that can be used with any text. The students will read the text or story and identify these details. From these details, they will then determine the theme. After they try this a few times, then I let them try it with songs. I have never seen students so engaged!! 

First, model the whole process with a song you choose. I have found that this helps set the expectations and clarify any misconceptions. Then, use your data from pre-assessments to determine groups. When I completed this activity, I chose six songs and divided the students into six groups based off of their needs. Then, they worked on this together and turned in for a grade. (a rubric is included) 

NOTE: the song lyrics are NOT INCLUDED in this pack due to Copyright. 

There are a few other activities included in the pack that help determine how theme develops and how many themes may overlap. 

Curious about our songs or chants? Check them out through the links below: 

Also, to see my students completing the song activity, click here!

Now... here is a FREEBIE!

Thank you and let me know if you have questions!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Gingerbread Man Thematic Unit

When I taught primary grades (1st, 2nd, and 3rd), I could hardly wait for the holidays because of this gingerbread man unit. Not only did I love these books and activities, but my students could hardly wait to see what was next.

Why I love this unit is simple: it teaches reading skills through an engaging, exciting way.

What do you need to do to set up this unit?

Head to your local library and check out all the books. Who knew that there were so many versions of the Gingerbread Man stories? My personal favorite is, "Stop that Pickle!"

After you grab all the books, just print and go! I have made this new unit to fit the needs of primary classrooms. In the example below, you can see that I have accommodated the activities by having documents that have dotted lines for writing or similar pages that have smaller spaces and regular lines. This allows the teacher to choose which page fits the needs of their learners.

A variety of reading skills are covered in this thematic unit: story elements, cause and effect, problem and solution, comparing and contrasting, and much more! These stories are so exciting, that I know the students will love these review pages!

The fun will continue with a family project: disguise a gingerbread man!

In class, the students will create trading cards or spin to make sentences:

Need some color by sight words or odd and even numbers? I've got you covered there, too! These coloring pages will be a great way for students to practice a skill in a fun way.

Get your students moving with this unit! I've included ten cards for them to find and write the room. The students can also practice counting from 1-20 by writing the room and counting these fun images related to the stories.

Still curious about this thematic unit? Check out this freebie! It includes 6 pages that review adjectives. (Click here)

Thank you all for your continued support! I am wishing you a very happy holiday season!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Teaching Writing

Happy Fall! Happy New School Year!

I am three weeks into yet another school year, and yet another new role. This year, I've moved to teaching both fourth and fifth grade reading, writing, and language arts. I have been thrilled to focus on these core subjects, but along with that, comes a lot of organization and new planning!

If you follow me on Instagram, I've been posting a lot about what I'm doing with writing. It all started this summer when I read this book:

The book is organized in such a clear, simplistic way. It walks the reader through 46 moves that help young writers elaborate. In the back, it is organized in a way to help you see which moves fit with the write traits and even different genres. When I read this part, I knew I needed to start choosing different lessons to fit with my grade levels. I quickly made a plan... (stay tuned for that part)

In addition to a plan, I quickly developed a way to organize our notebooks. I decided to create tabs and heading for the writing notebook. This has been my best decision ever! It has set clear expectations for the students, while keeping them very organized. (click here to get them for free)

After creating these tabs, I developed a plan on how I would launch writing. I created a 22 day plan for teaching the write traits to both my fourth and fifth graders, by choosing lessons that fit with each. I knew I wanted to incorporate pictures books into these lessons, too, so started looking for books that fit. (the students LOVE having picture books incorporated)

My writing lessons follow this format:

1. Introduce the enduring standard at the top of the page. (Active writers...)
2. Show an example of how the move is used in writing. (these are given in the book)
3. Describe when and how the students would use the move, and discuss how it fits with the trait.
4. Complete a mini practice together as a group and share. (usually includes a picture book)
5. The students practice the skill on their own.
6. End with a Kagan structure to share out.

I keep things very consistent in my classroom, so this format works well for us. Check out some of the work we have done thus far in the notebook!

Showing the students under the document camera how to set up their page. 

Such a cute book for modeling how to catch vocabulary! 

This book was by far my favorite for how to develop ideas and care for them!

A student independently reading, while also catching new vocabulary to use in their own writing! 

For each lesson, I create slides to teach the skill. 

An example of a student taking quality notes. We spend a lot of time talking about what this should look like. 

Love this book! "If You Want to Bring an Alligator to School, Don't!" to teach the idea lessons, "Stating the Obvious" and "But, Why?" (Both lessons are in the book)

More quality notes! 

Ending with a Kagan Structure to share out our writing. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Songs in the Classroom

Are you ready to rock in your classroom, but scared, nervous, or hesitant to try this? Trust me, I get it. When I saw the teachers at RCA implementing this in their room, I thought, "this is amazing, but how can I do this?" I thought about what would work in my classroom and then decided to jump in head first. If you are feeling this way about incorporating songs into your room, check out these tips to help you get started!

Before starting this in my classroom, I tuned in on songs that were popular in today's culture. What are the kids listening to? What would be catchy and engaging for them? Choose a song that they will enjoy and WANT to participate in. When I wrote the analyzing text structure song, I even gave them a choice! One day during class, I told them that I had two songs that my lyrics could fit with and then we took a vote. (of course they voted on the one that I wasn't leaning towards, but it turned out GREAT!) This gives them a sense of involvement in their own learning! Not only will they be excited to learn a skill in a new way, but with it being a song they enjoy, it will stick with them. I had so many students tell me that this helped them learn and they referred back to it often! #success

This is the biggest part of making this work in your room. We had to discuss clear expectations for when it was time to learn and sing. I would give you these tips for setting expectations:

1. This is a time to LEARN in a FUN way.

2. The students must sing YOUR lyrics, not the original song. The purpose of this is to learn a skill, so they need to focus on that.

3. Are you going to let them get up and dance, stand on chairs, move around the room? This is a personal preference depending on your class. During some of my songs, the students would start a conga line. Fun? For sure! However, it started to take away from the purpose. We had to make a rule that there was only "breaking it down" during the chorus. Students were NOT expected to sing, but they did need to participate in some way. I had one student who would just clap! That's OK! Figure out what works best for your class.

4. What will it look like when the song is over? We practiced this a few times! As soon as the music ended, my students IMMEDIATELY sat at their seats and got ready for the next lesson. There was no wiggle room for misbehavior or goofiness. Set this expectation and practice, practice, practice. When we are done, we are done. If that doesn't happen, we don't do it.

5. Model what you WANT it to look like vs. what is SHOULDN'T look like. Be clear and consistent.

1. I had a student who tapped the SmartBoard when it was time move slides, so I could monitor the room. (oh and dance... duh!)

2. I had another student stand by the door in case anyone needed to come in. We always had the door closed to not interrupt other rooms with our loud music.

3. Let them help you with the lyrics! I had a few girls that LOVED knowing our standard and then writing it! In fact, one of the songs, they wrote almost the whole thing! They love it!

4. The students love to video themselves. Sometimes, I would give my phone to a responsible student to video our performance/learning!

This. Is. A. Long. Process.

Honestly, give yourself time to get the ball rolling. If you have the scope and sequence of your year, I would give yourself a month to 3 weeks to write the song. This is such a valuable way to learn that you don't want to rush through it. Take your time to make it the best it can be.

You'll be singing it your sleep, in the car, in the shower, etc. However, it's WORTH it!

I love kicking off my units with the song, so make sure you have it ready and engage your learners!

I hope that these tips have helped you! If you have any questions, feel free to email me. Click on the image below to grab the songs!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Teacher Appreciation Week

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

Some wonderful teacher bloggers have teamed up to share some fun giveaways with you this week! We appreciate all of you so, so much, that we wanted to share some of our favorite things with you.

Before I get to the goodies, remember this...

As you go through the rest of the school year (exhausted, overwhelmed, and dreaming of summer) remind yourself of your purpose. You chose this incredible profession because you are a special individual that has a desire to extend grace to others. Be mindful of this choice and fulfilled as you conclude your year. Because you made the decision to serve our children, I appreciate YOU! Thank you so much for all you do!

Without further ado... you have got to check out our awesome giveaways! I have partnered up with Emily, from Third in Hollywood! We are giving away flair pens, astro bright paper, and a Plum Paper teacher planner!

Who doesn't love a flair pen and bright paper?! These two items could brighten up your classroom, your focus walls, your planners, your students' papers, etc. I use my Plum Paper teacher planner for everything! It's simplistic style and easy organization, helps me plan for my lessons, and keep a monthly calendar of what is going on. Not to mention it's durability is outstanding! Another aspect of these planners that I love is that they are affordable! I was even able to add a few sections to mine for blogging and personal things, and it was still within my budget.

Enter to win these items here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Also ... you could have the chance to win $100 to Teachers Pay Teachers!! Follow the steps below to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thank you again for entering! We appreciate you and hope you have a great week!