FARM Round Up

Somehow, for some reason, some things just get old after teaching them a few times! If I ever get to feeling this way I usually will try to perk it up a bit with a new resource or a new approach! At any rate, when I do it always seems to come out on the great end for kids anyway since they love the activities and it makes it a deeper learning experience for them!

There are SO many great classroom titles to  use when teaching about Farm... and by the way, honestly teaching the farm theme never gets old for me! I love it. Maybe it's my farm girl roots, or my love for Fixer Upper or anything chippy, cute or born on a farm!  It lends itself to so many fun classroom activities and centers!
I love getting out the farm animals and putting  them in the block center, and seeing all of the creative ways the littles build their pens, etc. Creating a sensory lab or station with corn, beans, some little farm animals and craft sticks makes for some wonderful imaginative play!

I always try to use natural ways to get kids talking and "putting miles on their tongues" as we learn about a new topic. I use this little reader during the entire unit as something to do when finished, as
a small group activity or a time filler to take out and read together when we have a minute or two to fill! They love being able to read it, and I love giving them lots of opportunities to practice reading behaviors and oral language! At the end of the unit they LOVE taking their books home to read to their families! It's so fun to ask them the next day what mom and dad thought of their reading... sweetest smiles! So proud! 

Another fun activity for a farm unit is Write the Room! There are sooo many amazing reasons to write the room! Do you do it in your classroom?
Write the Room is one of my go to centers for each theme! I love how they get so good at it and when the theme changes they go to town on the new cards! I also love how they use the words in their everyday writing! They remember where in the room the cards are and love recalling them to use!
It's so quick and easy to print the cards, cut and place them around the room. All you need is clip boards, pencils and copies of the response pages!

If you've used  any of my close reading resources you  might like this fun 
learning a little more in depth about the farm animals. The facts they pick up and
are able to write and report about are pretty impressive. The passages, as with all
of my other close reading resources, are original and especially written for little learners.
They are packed with vocabulary and literacy skills that build thinkers!

Check back often, I have more farm activities in the works and can't wait to share them with you soon!

If You Give A Pig A Pancake

BIG FAN of Laura Numeroff & Felicia Bond! I mean really big! I LOVE their books so much! SO much that I decided we need more of them in our lives!! Designing and creating companion activities to go with books is how I got my start and what I most love to do!

Making the book go further, extending it and squeezing out every possible opportunity of learning and fun in the classroom is my goal! I LOVE that when you do book extensions the books become part of your classroom in a way that just reading them can't. I LOVE that the books become like old friends... our experiences with them beg to be remembered later on... "Remember when we..."

Integrating so many parts of our day using the activities in different contexts and content areas just makes for a much more rich and engaging experience! I have LOVED working on this resource!
I love taking a book that I've had for a long, long time, and breathing new life into interacting with it!

If you have this book and you are looking for a companion, I bet you and your kids will LOVE it too!

3 Reasons to Write the Room

Why Write the Room??

It might just seem like a fun and easy way to insert your theme into centers, but it is SO much more!
Underneath those cute cards taped up around the room, and that clipboard in tow are the makings of
a powerful punch of academics and fine motor skills wrapped up into one neat little package!
Here's why:

1. Writing/Reading

For obvious reasons...

Writing: practicing writing letters and words in orders that don't happen in everyday class work
(cvc etc.) name writing, numbers etc.

Reading: Looking around the room for the cards, then visually discriminating the letters they see
is more challenging for a little learner than you might think! Imagine yourself doing the same thing,
looking around the room for a card so that you can write the word, only your characters are in 
Chinese (Mandarin).... would you have to look hard? Would you have to study the characters to 
see how to make them? I would presume it's much like that for many of our littles! 

2. Oral Language

Not an obvious one, but important nonetheless. As they are walking around working to find cards
and then set to work writing... they are talking! Magical academic language at it's best! I LOVE to sneak up behind and eavesdrop a bit on the conversations! So good! Asking questions, taking turns
speaking and listening. Ya, I like it.

3. Fine motor skills/dexterity/hand and wrist strength

Whoa!! The power of what happens during Write the Room in the area of motor skills is mind-blowing! Think of all they are doing by holding a clipboard at a slant and holding a pencil to
write at a slant....

hand and wrist strength
strong control of finger muscles (fine motor)

Play has changed a LOT in the last few years. Kids are tableting more and writing less, dexterity has
suffered! They need LOTS of opportunities to practice fine motor skills in productive ways that
can provide academic perks as well! 

I have always loved providing write the room opportunities and I include write the room in nearly all of my resources, even my close reading resources have write the room included for each passage! I have had lots of requests to make more stand alone write the rooms, so I've been adding a few here and there! If you've never tried it with your class, I hope you will! Let me know how it goes!

If you need help getting started, here are some simple resources to get you going!
Click on the pictures for the links!

Organizing Your Time Freebie

With Spring Break coming to an end, (boo!) it's time to start thinking about getting back to school.
I am a list person. Always have been. When I am looking ahead to the school week ahead  I like to have a single page calendar that I can lay out my week on. I use one color pen for home stuff, and another color for school. It really helps me organize my thoughts and keep track of everything going on. I refer back to it during the week and usually keep it in my purse or school bag so that I can cross off or add to. I created a new one to use and thought you might like it too! It's Rae Dunn inspired for all you Rae Dunn fans out there! Hope your first week back is a good one!!

Here's a quick link to my shop, so you can grab the
Week-at-a-Glance Printable Calendar FREEBIE!

Parenting Literacy

Parenting Literacy. . . . what is it?  My definition of parenting literacy is:

Parents who possess the awareness and skills to thoughtfully 
and intentionally raise their children to be:

• Aware of themselves and the world around them
• Emotionally intelligent, and physically healthy
• Of a happy disposition ready to learn, grow and thrive

Sounds so simple, doesn't it? Any of us who are parents know it is not. Parenting is the best, hardest job there is. So much to do. So much to think about. All. The. Time. It never ends, but as some would say, that's what we signed up for, right? As teachers we know what we see. We see it all, the great, the good, the mediocre, and the downright ugly. We have such a unique perspective. Many of us are parents, so we truly know the struggle. But... since many of us are parents, we know that it takes self-discipline, selflessness, patience and self introspection to try and get it right most of the time.
 So many things we would like to share and instill in parents of our students, but there is no way we have the time to do it.

After many years of seeing examples of amazing parents and just as many examples of not-so-amazing parents, I wrote a school-year-long series of articles for teachers to send home each week with their students. With the hope that every now and then parents who might need a dose of parenting literacy will open up a back pack to find some parenting inspiration! I know you can't force it, but with the weekly consistency they might just look forward to knowing that their shot of parenting literacy is coming each week!

I have heard from hundreds of teachers and several administrators that their parents are pleased to be given some support and the struggles they face. I love to think of these articles as "Close Reading for Parents"! The articles are not progressive - send them home out of order if you need to in order to address certain issues as they arrive. It's never too late to start! Parents would appreciate getting them any time you start sending them home!

Close Reading for Valentine's Day

What better way to insert some academics into Valentine's Day than a close read? Another opportunity to interact closely with text, and a highly engaging topic make for lessons strong enough to stand up to an evaluation! Kathy J. told me she used the Valentine's close read with annotations for her evaluation last year (on Valentine's Day) and she rocked it! Good job, Kathy! My only question is, what were they thinking scheduling an evaluation on Valentine's Day?? Sounds kind of awful, but Kathy made it work! The truth is, it's all in the presentation, and even when they're super excited and full of energy we can always find productive ways to make the day a day full of learning!
This close read is part of my Close Reading for Kindergarten & First Grade February March Edition.
Also included are passages, writing prompts, vocabulary cards and write the room for Groundhog Day, President's Day, and St. Patrick's Day.

Anchor Charts for Little Learners & a Freebie

One of my favorite ways to teach is through the use of anchor charts. There are sooo many different ways to use them! It is so helpful to have them to refer to during instruction, either when introducing a new concept, or when spiraling around to re-teach or review.  They can be a great "memory jogger"! They are also great for interventions or tutoring. They provide context and reference for the person who is providing intervention to refer to.

Sometimes when time allows it's fun to get creative and make an anchor chart, but it's also pretty nice to be able to print one out and have it ready to use, post or put up on the smart board or doc cam.
There's really no right or wrong way. The goal is to support instruction and scaffold learning, so whatever you have time for will work just fine.

For basic concepts I really like to use pre-made charts. They are ready to go, they can be used at centers as reference, and they even become part of my decor.

For content, I like to have the elements already glued on my chart paper, and then the kids and I can build the chart together. My close reading resources all have elements that are ready to print and go for each passage. They make it super easy to prep the day before and then work on the chart with the kids. I have also found that this is a great activity for a sub day! It's easy to prep and can take up a good chunk of time. The sub can re-read the passage with the kids, ask some of the questions and/or review some of the vocabulary. They can then work on the anchor chart together based on what they have read in the passage. Following up with one of the many writing prompts completes the activity.
The subs I have left this for have loved it, and I know that my kids are doing something purposeful while I'm away! (Example below is from my Spiders Close Reading Resource)

Anchor charts really are versatile! Here is a fun little freebie for you to try during science!
This anchor chart focuses on writing like a scientist does. Try using during a lesson, then post it in your science center to remind students when they are working independently! (CLICK on picture)

Here are links to some of my most 
popular print & go Anchor Charts!