Teachers Pay Teachers Three Million Strong Sale!

Hello Friends!

Wow! Teachers Pay Teacher has reached 3 MILLION teacher members and to celebrate, they are sponsoring a sale THIS Thursday and Friday, February 27 and 28! Yay! And, I, too am joining in the celebration. Everything in my store will have a 20% discount and with TPT's 10% discount, that is a 28% savings! Make sure that you enter this coupon code: TPT3. I cannot wait to start shopping - this sale does not happen very often!

Click the image above to go to my store and here are a few new and fairly new resources that I have added!






So, enjoy shopping my friends!

My friends at Blog Hoppin are having a sale, too... click the image below to check out their amazing stores and link up!

Until next time!


Writing a Storybook for Little Kids and a Freebie

Hello Friends!

 I do not profess to be an expert in teaching writing. If you have been reading my blog, you know that I have been involved in several on-line summer book studies that involve teaching writing to kids and I have learned so much through them! Our school adopted the Lucy Calkins writing system and I love this system, too. BUT........ even after all of this, I still did not feel that I was teaching my students to write properly. There was a time when I dreaded; REALLY dreaded our writing block. And I KNOW that my students felt this in me. 

So..... one weekend I started to think about what I did when I began to write and the one thing that stood out more than anything was that I organized my thoughts before I started. I ALWAYS draw pictures or write shortened sentences on paper before I begin my writing process. If I am writing my blog, I insert the pictures OR put the pictures in a file before I begin writing. Perhaps this is because I am a visual learner, but SEEING what I want to write makes the words flow faster for me. I feel that little kids begin life as visual learners, so it is a natural flow for them to begin with the pictures and then progress to the words. I also know that if I have step by step directions for how to do something, my students learn it much faster. So through this “AH-HA” moment of mine, I started teaching writing to my students in a structured, VISUAL way and I am THRILLED with the results! My students cheer (yes, they really do!) when it is time for writing! I feel relaxed during our writing block and it is the BEST feeling when we have our writing conferences and my little ones run to get their Drawing and Writing books to share with me what they wrote!

 There are several wonderful resources for generating topics in which kids can use for their writing. I have several anchor charts that I use that simply give kids visual clues as to ideas that can be used for their writing. As with most commercial writing systems, I begin topic writing with real life happenings in a child’s life. BUT, as my students become more adept to writing, I allow them to create fictional stories if they wish. I feel imagination in our kids is becoming lost in all the standards and testing that they must succumb to, so adding this element of fun to their writing is something that I allow. I encourage my students to draw sketches of their ideas as they decide upon an idea. Many times, I see them pull out these sketches from their writing folders when they are struggling to think of something in which to write. 

I created step by step posters for my students to use when they are writing. We work hard on understanding four "W" words - WHO, WHAT, WHERE, and WHEN. Through observation of my students, I noticed that many of my little learners seemed to be overwhelmed with the popular "story paper." They could not fill up the space in the drawing box and there were too many lines in which to write. So I created a booklet that encourages children to write only ONE sentence on each page and the drawing box is small. This is a half sized booklet. Page numbers are written in the small circle. 

 In our beginning writing lessons, the booklets are only 4 pages long. Characters are introduced on page 1 (Who), a sentence describing what is happening is written on page 2 (What), a description of the setting is written on page 3 (Where) and a short description of when the story takes place (When) is written on page 4. This beginning writing lesson is VERY structured. We actually do quite a few shared writing activities before they begin their own writing adventure. After my students have a good feel for how to keep a book flowing, I allow them to write their sentences in the order that works the best for them. I keep stapled booklets in the writing center. Presently, the booklets are 4 pages long. Soon, though, I will allow my students to make their own decisions as to the length of their story book. I will have cover paper, inner pages, and a stapler available for them to create their own storybook.

Here is an example of a story one of my students wrote after we performed our Circus. You can see that he followed all the steps for writing a "W" story!

Here is an example from one my students who LOVES our Work on Writing time. You can see that I have allowed her to write a fiction story.

(My students do NOT begin their writing journey with this activity! They need foundational writing experiences first i.e. inventive spelling lessons, labeling, and basic sentence structure.)

Here is the preview of the writing posters that I use in my classroom. You can click on the picture to take you this resource! 


And.... just because you are HERE, visiting my blog AND made it to the end of my post, click the image below to grab a copy of this cute Writing poster!


Enjoy writing, My Friends!

Until next time!


Hearing Syllables For Little Kids!

Hello Friends!
This post is going to be SUPER short.  It is a long weekend for me and despite the snow we got yesterday (once again...... sigh....... ), I am going to try to get some things done in my house that there NEVER seems to be time for!

I wanted to share with you, though, this syllable activity I did with my kinders this week. I have ALWAYS struggled with helping my students hear syllables in words. Because we do so much with phonemes and stretching words to spell them, transitioning to syllables is HARD! Here is how it often went.....

Me: How many syllables do we hear in LION?
Kids: L....I.......N.........  Three!

Sigh..... I tried so many techniques...... sticking your tongue out when you say the word, clapping the parts..... I have over exaggerated the parts that they said to me and asked them if that is what it sounds like when we talk i.e.  "Mom, look at the L-I-N over there?" They would laugh when I would say the words incorrectly, but  when it came time to hearing the syllables independently during their word work, they continued to s-t-r-e-t-c-h the sounds.

So....... drum roll, please........ I finally found an activity that worked with my kinders! Yay!
First of all, we use Deanna Jump's reading strategy posters which I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE by the way! One of the ones that we use all the time is STRETCHY SNAKE. We use Stretchy for reading and he is also amazing for spelling. So I began my lesson with Stretchy... Here is how it went...

Boys and Girls, who can tell me the name of this picture? Yes, it's a picture of a SNAKE. Let's stretch the word to hear the sounds. S-N-A-K.... How many sounds did we hear? That's right, we heard 4! So if we were writing the word snake, we would write 4 letters. 

Today we are going to learn a new way to hear sounds in words and that is called SYLLABLES. Syllables are how many PARTS we hear in words; not letters. I want to introduce you to RACING RABBIT! Racing Rabbit likes to say words FAST! He doesn't care how many letter sounds he hears in words! He likes to RACE through the word! So if RACING RABBIT was saying the word SNAKE, he would say it like this: SNAKE. How many times did we clap? That's right! We clapped one time! 

Let's try another word..... The word is SNOW. First let's say it like STRETCHY SNAKE..... S...N...O.... (I REALLY exaggerated the slowness of the word.) Stretchy Snake says that we hear 3 sounds.

Now let's try saying SNOW the RACING RABBIT way..... (Say the word fast!) SNOW! Wow! That was really fast! How many parts did we hear in snow doing it the RACING RABBIT way? That's right! We heard only one part!

Now let's try umbrella.... First, let's do it the STRETCHY SNAKE way..... U..M....B...R....E....L...U...
How many sounds did we hear? We heard SEVEN sounds - Wow! Now, let's say umbrella, the RACING RABBIT way.... UM....BRELL...A. How many parts did we hear? That's right! We heard 3 parts! 

I cannot tell you how AMAZED I was at how well my students did and how much fun they had! We did several words together; first saying them like STRETCHY SNAKE and then saying them like RACING RABBIT. I was over the moon happy when at the end of the week, they did a little Syllable Sorting sheet and EVERY SINGLE ONE of my students did it correctly!! Yay!

If you would like a copy of my RACING RABBIT poster, click HERE to get the google doc. If you want a copy of Deanna Jump's reading strategy posters, you can find her packet HERE.

Happy Weekend, My Friends!

Until Next Time!


Valentine Math Activity in a Snap, Circus Pictures, and Our Country's Symbols

Hello Friends!
Oh my.... I am soooo tired! I am trying to watch the opening ceremonies of the Olympics and I keep nodding off! Whew! I guess that is the sign of a busy week???

So.... today.......I realized that Valentine's Day is next week and because I was becoming a bit tired of the snow pictures still up in my classroom, my kinders did a Valentine's math project today.

I gave each child 4 different color pieces of craft foam. They were to draw shapes on the foam making "candy" pieces. Then they glued a paper heart with a gold foil doily to the top of a 12" x 18" piece of pink construction paper.  They glued their candy pieces to the heart. The paper that is glued to under the heart says" In my Candy box, I see....... " They wrote numbers and color words and then added their numbers together! Easy peasy! BTW.... The reason you see the "s" crossed off on some of the papers is because we JUST discussed how you add to "s" to end of words that mean more than one. For those kiddos that only made ONE of each color, they asked if they could cross off the ending "s" on the word "pieces" - smart kiddos, huh? :)

Even with all the snow days, we managed to have our annual Circus performance! Our school encourages our students to perform some type of service each year. Our kindergarten performs a circus. We ask for a freewill donation for our performance and then send our money to Polar Bears International. This year we made enough to adopt a polar bear and a half! Woo hoo!

 In conjunction with our circus performance, we always decorate our hallway. This year's theme was "The Wheels of (Our School) Go Round and Round." We created a school bus in our hallway and divided the bus into 3 parts; each represented a special part of our school i.e. faith, learning, and service. Some of our students decorated a cardboard cut out that represented our school uniforms, another group decorated their person in church clothes, and the third part decorated theirs like circus performers. The polar bear in this picture represented our service project.

We are working on our country's symbols in Social Studies. I love, love making books with my students! Here are a few examples of their illustrations for the bald eagle and liberty bell. We are still working on this book; hopefully it will be done next week!

I have been doing this US Symbols for years, but just this week uploaded it to my store! Click on the image to take you to this resource!


Because time has been limited, I did not want to redo my religion bulletin board, so I recycled it! I took down the snowflakes from January and the kids made hearts for February! Yay!

Okay.... that's it for now! Have a wonderful weekend!

Until next time!


Check Back tomorrow - Bright Ideas Coming!

Hello Friends!
Make sure that you check back tomorrow,  February 2! You won't regret the Bright Ideas you will find!