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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Cyber Smile Sale on TPT



The Cyber Monday {and Tuesday!} sale on Teachers Pay Teachers is almost here!  Both of our stores are on sale, so start getting those shopping carts filled up!

Katy's store

Vonda's store

Happy shopping, learning...and teaching!



Sunday, November 22, 2015

Turkey in Disguise

Hi there - Vonda here!  Last week, my sweet Kindergarten students took home their plain ol' black and white turkey and created these fun disguises for it.  I was so impressed with their creativity and with how much they loved the project!  Let me share some details...
"Elsa" the Turkey



  • We read the book Turkey Trouble by Wendi Silvano.  It is such a cute story!
  • Then we talked about what we think a turkey should use as a disguise.
  • I downloaded the free template and kit from The Fabulous Life of an Elementary Teacher.  Click on the name to go right to her post about it.  The turkey is just too cute!
  • Each child was given the turkey template on white cardstock.  They brought them back to school as soon as they were finished with them.  We had lots of Bat Man turkeys and even a horse turkey.  Love!!
The Turkey Horse

Our Protector - Bat Man

Rain Man

Turkey Princess

Turkey Penguin





Saturday, October 10, 2015

Global Read Aloud in 3rd Grade!

Katy here!

Our class read aloud for the past few weeks has been Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt.  The students initially thought it was very sad, especially compared to our most recent read aloud, Judy Moody, by Megan McDonald.  Fish in a Tree, or FIAT, is more serious than Judy Moody, and a significantly higher reading level.  It hasn't been as easy to listen to, but it is that much more enjoyable to listen to.  We love it for its depth.  The characters seem more like real people and less like cartoons.

Watch this trailer featuring FIAT.



We reached chapter 32 before realizing that the Global Read Aloud 2015 includes FIAT as one of its choices.  Even though we're a little late signing up (it started Oct. 4 and Mrs. Engle learned of it on Oct. 7), and we're a little ahead in our reading, we are all in!  The Global Read Aloud is such a simple concept but its impact on readers across the planet is major.

We're seeking connections with other classrooms so we can share in moderated discussion with other students about this book.  Weekly questions are posted on Twitter using the hastag, #GRAFIAT.  We'll compose an answer as a class and post it using Mrs. Engle's twitter account: @mrs_engle (keeping all students anonymous).

There are MANY other opportunities for students to think deeply about the characters and themes in this rich book.  Stay tuned for updates.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Fall in Love with 3rd Grade Spelling! {Blog Hop}


Fall in Love with 3rd Grade SPELLING!


It's fall!  Thanks to the 3rd Grade Tribe for hosting such an awesome Blog Hop! I'm excited to share with you about teaching a subject I have recently FALLen in love with: spelling!

Spelling has not always been my favorite.  Actually, math was always my favorite and still is.  Since my first years of teaching, I feared I wasn't teaching spelling the "right" way.  I didn't want to sabotage my students by teaching them ineffectively!  Does anybody else ever have worries like this?  Am I the only one?

Enter Orton Gillingham.  


Our district trained all its elementary teachers in Orton Gillingham-based Phonics First from RLAC.  It's a great resource for teaching phonics.  Our PreK-2nd grade teachers use it.  As a 3rd grade teacher, I pick up where O-G leaves off. 

Or at least I should. 

Up until this year, my initial screening at the beginning of the year never indicated that my students had mastered every layer of O-G.  This year, a large portion of my students are already pros at the spelling patterns I taught last year.  No sense in wasting time teaching concepts they've already mastered, right?  

So I differentiated.  

Now, like many of you, I have no time to re-invent the wheel.  Instead, I turn to the brilliant teacher-authors at teacherspayteachers.com for sound, reliable teaching resources.  Many, many fantastic resources.  (These resources are also available for you to purchase.  Links below.)

I start with generating our spelling lists.  That's another whole blog entry, but suffice it to say for now that the kids choose their words that follow a pattern.  I have three differentiated spelling groups: Scholars, Pupils, and Sages.  The Scholars work on Layer 3 of Phonics First.  The Pupils work on the Appendices of Phonics First.  And my Sages work on Greek and Latin roots, ala Ladybug Teaching File's Spelling Morphology. 

Love her word lists for my higher group! 



Each week, the Sages focus on a selection of Greek & Latin roots with similar sounds/meaning.  First, the Sages sort the 15 words by root.  Of the 15 words on the list, my students choose five unfamiliar words to be their spelling words for the week.  

Then, they complete a Frayer Model from One Extra Degree's Expanding Vocabulary Pack.  (It could be any Frayer Model template.  I just happened to have this one on hand because Amanda makes exceptional resources!)


We use a dictionary app to speed up the process.  I want to focus on the meaning of the words more than dictionary skills. 

I think they're getting the hang of it!

For homework, my students take their lists of self-selected words home and complete 15 points worth of activities from Lisa's monthly spelling contracts.  My students love having the power of CHOICE in their homework and these spelling contracts allow them plenty of choice.  Many of them choose one pen-and-paper activity and one multi-sensory activity each week as their homework.  


Classwork is just as fun.  Inspired by some of Fourth & Ten's multi-sensory ideas, I made my own Spelling Bingo cards.  We use them in the classroom to provide multi-sensory spelling practice throughout the week.  The ideas are collect from all different techniques teachers have used throughout the years. 

Check out all the blurry spelling action going on here!! Magnet letters, play-doh spelling, and ABC stamping--these spellers are ENGAGED in learning!

I made a smaller (3x3) board for the beginning of the year, which is great while we're still learning routines.  Then I made a larger spelling bingo board (4x4) when we're ready to add more options.  Kids work on their Spelling Bingo cards throughout the week to practice learning the spelling pattern.  I love that kids aren't just learning 10 specific words, but a pattern that will help them spell countless other words! 

You can try out my Spelling Bingo cards in your classroom for FREE!  Just click below to download both the 3x3 and the 4x4 spelling bingo boards.  
my very own Spelling Bingo

Okay, I can't just stop there.  I'd love to give away another product--ANY PRODUCT--from my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.  I love giveaways!! 


I'm giving away YOUR CHOICE of any product from my TPT store!  Enter to win through this Rafflecopter giveaway.  Entries must be in by Sept. 30.  


And if that's not enough, this blog hop also features a GRAND PRIZE giveaway!


Want more Fall teaching goodness?  More giveaways? 
Click the image below to go to our next stop on this Fall blog hop! 





Sunday, September 20, 2015

QR codes in Kindergarten??

I love the weekly TPT newsletters.  So often I find a hidden gem that I didn't know was there.  This free kit called "We're Going on a Letter Hunt" from Keeping Up with Mrs. Harris was just that.

The students had a lot of fun using this kit during one of our Literacy Stations this week.  They got to use my phone (I think that may have been the most fun!) and scan these QR codes that were posted all around the room.  After scanning the code, a picture of a letter would be revealed.  






Then they would work together to decide on which uppercase letter matched the lowercase letter that was revealed.  They colored in their own sheet with the letters.  Yay for technology in Kindergarten!








Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Teacher Week - WEDNESDAY - Classroom Tour!

It's a Teacher Week Blog Hop!



Happy Teacher Week!  I love teachers.  You can always tell when someone is a teacher.  You just know.  Whether it's how they dress, what they say, or how they function...if you're a teacher, you just can't hide it!  Here's to celebrating teachers!  What better way to get a glimpse into the life of a teacher than to take a peek at the four walls she lives inside for the better part of the year. 


Katy here! Welcome to my 3rd grade classroom!  I snapped a few quick photos with my phone after the 3rd day of 3rd grade to give you a glimpse into my world.

Here's the corner you see first when you walk into my room.

Don't you love that classrooms can be a work in progress?  I love that my classroom changes with my students.  For example, this bulletin board is already different.


This very important corner houses our two student desktops, our clipboards, our book boxes, and the Homework Hotspot, inspired by Young Teacher Love (yay Michigan teachers!!).  Also, I love that random outlet right up there by the top corner of my whiteboard.  No, seriously.  It seems so out of place, yet it opens up so many possibilities! Someday, I want a neon sign to hang on the wall and plug into that outlet!  What should it say?  Maybe something like "READ" or "YOU'RE LOVED" or "TRY IT." What would you put on a neon sign in your classroom?


Here's the opposite wall.  You can see our classroom library, waiting patiently for categorized, color-coded and labeled baskets.  I have our classroom non-negotiables posted on the wall.  Many thanks to Joanne Miller for those!  There's an anchor chart on the extra desks, waiting to be hung.  The short blue shelf in the back will hold math manipulatives.  But my favorite space in this area is the chalkboard!  


The chalkboard is my favorite because of how we use it to reveal student thinking.  We use a thinking routine called "Chalk Talk" from Ron Ritchhart.  I bought some chalk markers off Amazon.  Then, I used the markers to write three questions in thought bubbles on the chalkboard (shown here in red).  Students respond to the questions throughout the week, and then respond to the responses, until the board is completely filled with thinking.  It looks amazing in the classroom and I love that it gives every student a voice.  

Through this blurry picture, you can hopefully make out my small group instruction table.  I also tend to use this space during my planning time for grading and of course! planning.  


This wall features our growth mindset posters from Angela Watson, and our brag tags (we call them glad tags) from Jamie at Diary of a Not So Wimpy Teacher.  


If the chalkboard wasn't my favorite part of my classroom, THIS might be the favorite part.  I adapted Molly's door decor to fit the skinny wall next to our door.  It is colorful, full of truth, and so encouraging.  I love this daily reminder of what's important in our class. 

Thanks for taking a peek into my 3rd grade classroom!



Monday, August 31, 2015

Teacher Week - TUESDAY - Make Ahead Meals



I have a love/hate relationship with cooking.  I love to eat.  I hate to plan.  I love to feed my family healthy food.  I hate the time that it takes.  So I've decided to do these few things to help it feed my soul as well as my family.


  • Pinterest is my one-stop-shop for meal planning.  I don't remember the last time I cracked open a cook book...kinda sad.  We are really doing our best to eat healthy in our home, with a little treat here and there.  It's so easy to search for specific dietary needs.  My current go-to for healthy is the Whole 30 plan.  The benefit is that we all feel great while eating this way.  The somewhat negative is that it takes lots of washing and prepping of fruits and veggies.  But it is well worth it.  
  • Meal Planning - I'm super OCD when it comes to planning out our weekly lunches, dinners, and snacks.  I don't have time to go to the grocery store every day, so I have to plan it all out and shop at one time.  Some people are able to shop every other week or even once a month, but sadly that doesn't work for me.  I meal plan  before I shop.  Then usually on Sunday, I grocery shop, come home and prep as much as I can for the week, and have the girls make their lunches for the entire week.  We LOVE the 3 section Ziploc containers, and I am still pouting that they stopped making them.  When we have to throw away the last one, I'm not sure what we will do.  Our kitchen looks like the Henry Ford Assembly Line.  But come Friday morning when we are dragging across the finish line, it is so worth it!  I so wish I had planned ahead enough to remember to take pictures of my disaster of a kitchen this past Sunday.  But, you don't hear me barking out orders each morning for the kids to make their lunches and snacks, so it's all good!
{photo from 100 Days of Real Food blog}
  • Infused water - This has become a must have for me.  I hate, like REALLY HATE drinking water, unless I'm working out.  But I know that it is so good for me and that my body really needs it.  So, I've started infusing my water overnight, and it has been a game changer! 
    • Strawberry Basil - I know it sounds weird, but it is DELISH!  Frozen strawberries are the best.
    • Cucumber, Mint, Lemon, Ginger - This is a detox recipe that I found online.  Just put 2 quarts of water in a pitcher.  Add lemon slices, ginger slices, mint leaves, and cucumber slices.  The cucumber flavor is subtle, but I really like it.  Each time I add a little more ginger.
So although these are really Make Ahead Meals, they are the only way that I survive during the school year.  




Teacher Week - MONDAY - 5 fun facts about me!



This week starts our second week of school.  EEEKKK!  I still can't believe that we are getting back into the groove.  I'm linking up with Blog Hoppin' and their Back to School Teacher Week.  So here goes...









Monday, July 13, 2015

Farm Animal Signs for a Farm-Themed Classroom

I just decided to switch over my Rainforest classroom to a Farm classroom.  I'm a Texas girl replanted into Michigan, so I guess I love all things country.  So stay-tuned for more pictures of my classroom.  I promise to post as I make the room my own.

Last year, I had Rainforest animal signs for my math and literacy station families.  I decide which students will be in a "family" the first few weeks of school.  Then the families NEVER change.  We don't get to choose our family, but we do have to figure out how to work together.  Kinda sound like real life?   Be sure to choose heterogenous groups according to basic ability.  For instance, if all of the higher levels students are together, then everyone wants to be "in charge."  Nothing will get accomplished except for a lot of arguing.  On the other hand, if the lower level students are all together, then they may struggle with knowing exactly what to do.  So a mixed group is what you want.  It is beautiful and helped the students to be independent.

The signs stay in the same place on the wall all year long.  If you choose to use these for rotating groups, then you just make your names the part that moves.  I PROMISE to post a picture as soon as I get back up to my classroom to snap one.  It will make so much more sense then.

You could also use these for writing prompts, class decor posters, matching the adult to the baby, and much more.  I included the adult animal poster as well as the baby animal…the pictures are the same, just the titles are different.  I included two sizes so that you can best find what meets your needs.  Click the picture to purchase these fun signs.


Again, stay-tuned for more farm classroom fun.  I've got a some great things brewin...




Friday, July 3, 2015

TPT Seller Challenge: Make Your Masterpiece



It's Week 3 of this fun challenge, and it was just the kick in the pants that I needed to get this product finished.  This is a Classroom Management system that my co-teacher and I created.  We were looking for something different to use, fun and positive, and with a daily communication for the parents.  This was perfect.  Plus, as a bonus, it taught the student the colors of the rainbow.


So let's jump in…

The recording sheets are completely optional.  Our school likes for us to have something  that goes home each night, so I wanted to make something to accommodate that.  But the system can easily be used without it.

The students each have a number.  I used number stickers from Michael's, cookie sheets from the Dollar Tree, and some wash tape.  This made it easy to make it all coordinate with my classroom colors.


The magnets were made from numbers printed on construction paper, clear stones from the Dollar Tree or glass pieces, clear epoxy glue, and magnets.  I used this Crystal Effects glue from Stampin' Up, but you can use anything that is safe for paper and glass.




The students love putting up their magnet.  It is possible, if needed, for a student to lose a magnet.  So sad…but it does happen!  I do try to jot a quick note on the take-home sheet if a student loses a magnet.   A sample note is included in the packet.

You can find this full system here in my TPT store.  There are blank sheets for every month, in case you teach at a year-round school.  All that's needed are the monthly dates, a folder, and some awesome students.