26 July 2016

The Back to School Giveaway Winner is.....

So, contests are awesome, especially when you're the winner like Georgette H! 

I emailed Georgette to let her know that she was randomly drawn by Rafflecopter to win and she was so excited! She told me a little about herself... she's pretty new to teaching. She didn't start until her late 40's when she got out of the Navy (thanks for your service, Georgette!)
She's now an early childhood special education teacher.

She lives in Missouri now, but is originally from PA (where I'm from... I knew I liked this lady!), although we're from totally opposite ends, that's ok. She misses this great state of PA for it's mountains (we do have some great scenery if you've never been here) and the good food (we can eat here in PA)

Congratulations again. Hopefully all the materials will help you and your kiddos this school year! Make 2016-2017 the best year yet!

(Just to recap--- Georgette is the lovely winner of a $20 Staples gift card, $55 in TpT resources from some GREAT TpT stores, AND nearly $30 in miscellaneous school supplies!)

To everyone who entered, thank you! Make sure you check back here often for more giveaways in the near future!

24 July 2016

Back to School Giveaway!

Back to School...

If you are a teacher those three words may be enough to induce nightmares. Although I absolutely love what I do, I also absolutely love my summers off. It's a time for me to reflect, refresh, and relax! I think most teachers feel the same way. 

Here's how I respond when someone asks me: "So, are you ready to go back to school?"

I did a little soul searching and decided to face the facts. I head back to inservice in less than 2 weeks. I'm trying to get my head around it all. There's so much I want to do! I did pick up these awesome adhesive label holders from Target's Bull's Eye Playground (or whatever they're calling it these days).

Then my teacher brain started thinking up all the cute designs for some labels to fill these babies. I came up with a nautical themed set and a rainbow colored themed set. I'm also in the process of making a beach themed set and one with kids on it (possibly Melonheadz from Scappin Doodles on TpT!) I'll post those on here as soon as they are done! If you're interested in the two below, here are the links to my store.

Click to get the Rainbow Labels

Click to get the Nautical Labels

I also have created motivational posters that I am going to print out and put into some cheap 8x10 frames and make a sort of "gallery wall" in my classroom. ( I know I need motivation at the beginning of the year... and the middle and end, and I know the kids do as well!) They're some great quotes, and I think they'd work in any classroom!

Click to get the motivational posters!

To help ease the pain I'm running a BTS giveaway!

My TpT store- $10 store credit

Creative Teaching Resources- $15 store credit

Kristin Jason- $5 store credit

Teach Me T- $5 store credit

Ashley Wright at the Wright Nook- $10 store credit

Denise Hill - $5 store credit

Toadally Exceptional Learners- $5 store credit

Enter below to win! 

Winner will be announced on Tuesday, July 26th, here on my blog, as well as on my Instagram page

a Rafflecopter giveaway

20 July 2016

5 Most Beloved Characters in Children's Literature

Welcome to the 4th week of the Summer Stash blog hop!

Again, thank you to Minute Mommy for hosting this great idea.

Amazon is probably quite happy with me right now after all the books I have ordered because of this blog hop- my bank account and fiance might not be quite as happy. Oh well! It's a teacher thing.

This week is all about beloved characters in children's books. It makes me nostalgic to think about this. I'm brought back to my elementary days thinking about Baby-Sitters Club books. Anybody remember those? Those were the shiz.

I felt SO grown up when I started reading these! 

Fast forward 15 or so years, (maybe more, who's counting?) and I'm now a reading specialist, working with students who struggle with reading, trying to get them to love reading like I did as a kid and as an adult.

How true, right?
Without any further ado, here are my top 5 most beloved characters in children's literature.

Skippyjon Jones by Judith Byron Schachner 

I'm a huge animal lover. Pretty much anything to do with animals is a sure win for me. (FYI: You're going to see this is pretty much true for the rest of this post.) Who can resist a cat who thinks he's a leetle Chihuahua? He has a group of imaginary Chihuahua friends named Los Chimichangos. (I can't stand the cuteness!) 

This is a great book for read-alouds if you're up to getting your Spanish accent on. The kids love when I do it (shaking my head... what we don't do for our kiddos, huh?)

Here's a link to the author's website. There are lots of cute extras that you can use for free with the books. 

Pigeon by Mo Willems

Ok, first off, can I just say how much I ADORE Mo Willems? Especially for this..

Everybody now... "Awwwwww"
This past year a lot of my kiddos became OBSESSED with the pigeon books. I just found that he even has his own Twitter account. (I mean, really?) Again, who can resist a good animal book, especially when it's funny? Pigeon has a few friends like Elephant, Piggie, Edwina, etc. that add to the fun. My favorite of the series is probably Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. It has a lot of dialogue. It's great for pointing out expression as you read. Pigeon has lots of energy. At one point, Pigeon freaks out, and whenever I get to that point the kids know that I'm going to YELL, because the letters are in capital and have lots of exclamation marks. 

Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park

Not an animal, but I love her spunk. 
One of the few favorite characters that's not an animal... Junie B. Jones! I enjoy using these books with kiddos who are just starting into chapter books. The chapters are usually short (5-8 pages). They are sucked into the books because of Junie's mischievous ways. I think a lot of them can relate to her! With the character being a girl, you'd think at this age most boys wouldn't be into it, but I find that sometimes boys like this series more than the girls. (I think it has to do again with the mischievous ways!) 

My only thing with Junie that I have mixed emotions about is the way she talks. She talks how you'd expect an average 5 or so year old to talk. Her grammar is not exactly the best. I like this because the author is keeping it real, but on the other hand, my teacher mode kicks in. I feel the need to point out the errors. I usually tell the students about the fact that sometimes Junie doesn't speak good well (see what I did there?) beforehand. Sometimes they'll even point out the errors. They'll say things like, "That doesn't sound right."

 Duck from Duck for President by Doreen Cronin 

I'd vote for him in this election!

Here we go again, another animal. I know, I know. Doreen Cronin introduced us to Duck in Click Clack Moo: Cows that Type, (which is another awesome book by the way). This book is great to use this year with the upcoming election. I always use it in election years to explain what it means to become POTUS and how that happens. We do a whole bunch of things regarding this (which I'm turning into a TpT product as we speak). 

Plus, we always check out a few Kid President videos. (This one especially. He's too darn cute!)

Pete the Cat by Eric Litwin

Who doesn't love Pete the Cat? He's one cool cat. This character is a favorite of the kids and  mine. (I also have a soft spot for Pete because my fiance has a cat named Pete... well, actually Pierre, but we call him Pete.)

Thanks for reading all about my 5 fave characters! 

Head over to Minute Mommy for the next stop!

13 July 2016

5 Nonfiction Series to Use in Your Elementary Classroom

Thanks again to Minute Mommy for hosting this weekly blog hop. For this week, we're diving into nonfiction books, a very under-appreciated genre for some kids. I personally love using non-fiction books with students. I'm a reading specialist so I work with kids kindergarten to sixth grade. I like to start early with them using nonfiction. I see so many times that when kids have comprehension issues, it is almost always when nonfiction is involved. Again, it's best to start as early as possible modeling comprehension strategies while reading nonfiction books.

Very often nonfiction books come in series of topics. I have a lot of series that are favorites, so I decided to go that route with my list of books. So without further ado... here are my must have nonfiction series.

I Survived series by Lauren Tarshis 


So these books may be a little bit of cheating when it comes to "nonfiction". The idea behind the books is that Lauren uses real events that have happened and includes some true facts about the event, but then also throws in a fictional element with some of the characters and events. I personally love this series, because I think it's a nice middle ground for students who are bored by nonfiction. They're learning some facts about a real event in history, while also being entertained by a fictional story. I think it's a win-win.

Also, check out Lauren's website. There are tons of activities and other info to look at while reading the books. I've used both of these books shown with students that I tutor (students who are not super interested in reading) and they LOVED them. In fact, they both saw that it was a series and wanted to read the others. Again, WIN!!!

If You Lived Series by various authors

I love this series of historical books. So far, I'm aware of there being 12 available. Check out this link to see them all.
The best thing about them is the format in which they are written, which is question and answer. I find this helpful because students can pick and choose parts of the book to read. They can skim to questions that they find interesting.

Also, they're great to use with the KWL (What I Know, What I Want to Know, and What I Learned) strategy. I'll have the students list what they know about the topic before we read, brainstorm a few questions they have about the topic, or pick out a certain number of questions in the table of contents that they would like to learn more on, and then after reading, they answer the questions in a short summary telling what they learned from the book.

Other topics covered include:
  • If You Lived 100 Years Ago
  • If You Lived During the San Francisco Earthquakes
  • If You Lived in Colonial Williamsburg
  • If You Lived in Colonial Times
  • If You Lived When There Was Slavery in America
  • If You Lived With the Cherokee Indians
  • If You Lived With the Iroquois Indians
  • If You Lived With the Sioux Indians
  • If You Sailed on the Mayflower
  • If You Traveled West in a Covered Wagon
  • If You Were at the First Thanksgiving

National Geographic Kids

 These are awesome for even beginner readers because of the great illustrations and pictures that are used in the book. I've had many struggling readers who really latch onto this series because they often can use the pictures to look for clues when figuring out an unknown word. The series ranges from animals, science, people, and nature. Here's a website where you can have a student log in to keep track of the books they read.

Scholastic's True or False Series 

I find that with most nonfiction books, for most kids, if it has something to do with animals- you're good to go. In this series there are a lot of books that have to do with just that... especially this one! I've had kids get into a fight over who was going to get to read it next! I mean come on, look at those babies on the cover!!!

It's written in a question and answer format. The reader has to decide whether or not it's true or false. The pictures are great as well. These are really good for students in fourth or fifth grade who really struggle with reading.

Magic Treehouse Nonfiction Companions

I love that Magic Treehouse has companion books to go along with their fictional stories (like the two above). It reminds me in a way of the I Survived series. I have found that kids love these books, because they can can be related back to a fictional story that they have already read or could read after the nonfiction. (I prefer doing the nonfiction one first, so that they can have prior knowledge for some things they will come across in the fictional story.)

This is also a great way to talk about compare and contrast between fiction and nonfiction, such as text structures and so on.

If you liked this post, I'd appreciate it if you'd post the following pic on Pinterest. Just hover over it and voila! Click on the Pinterest button on the top left corner!

The next stop on your quest through this lovely blog hop is to none other than the lovely Minute Mommy! Go check her out now!


06 July 2016

Most Loved Seasonal Children's Books

First of all, thank you Minute Mommy (Go check out her blog) for allowing me to join in on the Summer Reading Stash Blog Hop! (Such a fantastic idea!)

Just to catch everyone up on this who isn't familiar with it... there are a few of us joining together each week (on Wednesdays until the beginning of August) to post our favorite children's books to use in the classroom based on a different theme each week.

This week is seasonal. I have quite a few that I love. I'll give a quick summary of each in case you're not familiar with them.

Mooseltoe by Margie Palatini

Mooseltoe is part of a series of books featuring the great moose with a big MOOSETACHE! In preparation for Christmas he does everything he can think of that is needed. In all the craziness, on Christmas Eve, he realizes... dun dun dun.... HE FORGOT THE TREE! He can't find one anywhere since he's so late, so what does he decide he has to do? He stands in the corner and uses his great moosetache as the tree to decorate. The bad part for him is that he has to stand in the corner now without leaving!

The Puppy Who Wanted A Boy- by Jane Thayer

I'm a total sucker for any dog book. Who can you resist a book about a cutie who just wants a boy for Christmas? He goes around to many dogs asking if they'd like to give their boy away, but none of them would like to do so. Little Petey doesn't give up though. Finally, he comes about a home for boys and finds 50 boys for Christmas! I have a Winter Comprehension Packet available at Teachers Pay Teachers with a few activities to use with "The Puppy Who Wanted A Boy" in it. The activities deal with character traits and QAR (Question Answer Relationship strategy). 

The Little Old Lady Who Wasn't Afraid of Anything- by Linda D. Williams

This little old lady is brave! She walks through the woods at night and hears all kind of spooky noises, but she keeps on going. The kids love to make the noises along with you as you read. The book teaches you to face your fears and not to be afraid. Good for even the littles!

'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving- by Dav Pilkey

I love, love, love this book! The book is told in the famous "Twas the Night Before Christmas" style poem. A group of children go to a farm the night before Thanksgiving on a field trip with their class. They are having lots of fun until they realize that the turkeys are going to soon become dinner for Thanksgiving. 

:( :(

They smuggle the turkeys home with them on the bus under their shirts. Everyone enjoys Thanksgiving day together!!

How the Grinch Stole Christmas- by Dr. Seuss 

This is an absolute classic and my all-time favorite Christmas book... EVER! Hands down!
I always use this book at Christmas as well as watching the cartoon! (NEVER the Jim Carrey version!) I don't think I need to do a summary on this one. 

(Plus, how CUTE is Max by the way??)

The next stop in the blog hop takes you to Sommer's Lion Pride