Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Pete the Cat Rocks It Back to School

I have a stash of books that I use for the first week of school. I love them cause they are fail safe and of all the times in the year, this is the week I need things to go super smoothly. One of my absolute faves is this one.
I love it for so many reasons - it's cute, kids love Pete the Cat and we can sing it after. But, it became part of my B2S book collection a few years ago when I had a little boy in my class who just wasn't adjusting well. He missed home all the time. Usually all I wanted to do was grab him, hug him and tell him I kinda missed home too, but I digress… I needed him to feel good about school, about the routines and the new surroundings and so I picked up this book and started reading, hoping the whole time that he'd connect with it. As always, Pete saved the day and this kid was hooked. Hooked on Pete, hooked on the music, the rhythm, the story, all of it. As far as school was concerned, he was good to go and I had Pete to thank for it. The story just gave this kid the little bit of reassurance he needed and a great character to fall in love with.

Later that same school year, I was looking through my library for my Pete the Cat books and the basket was completely empty. After some searching, I found every single title in this little boy's read to self folder. Pete - the Cat that lasts and lasts.

Check out this great story for starting the school year off right. Plus a great freebie to go with it. Just click the pic.











Thursday, 23 July 2015

Teacher Made Stuff - Reading Passages

I am constantly making stuff for my class. All school year long, all summer long, all the time.  Most often, it comes from a void that I see and need to fill. At the beginning of the last school year, I got THE group. You know, the class that just does what you ask, and to add to that, they did it quickly and quietly. I was truly blessed. After a week had rolled by, I noticed that they were all pretty much primed for reading. Their DRA levels were close together and they were ready to take that next step, but I needed something specific for them and only them. I needed some reading passages that used the short vowels and the pre-primers all at the same time. So, I made what I needed. And I thought if you can use it too somehow, then even better. Here's a peek at what it looks like. There is a coloured and black & white version for each one.

Cluck on any of the pics for the free download.




So, definitely something I used a lot at the beginning of the year. Hope you can use it too.

I'm linking this Freebie up with Teaching Blog Addict's Freebie Friday. You can find other great freebies there as well.


Sunday, 12 July 2015

Picture Perfect Books - Featuring Hazel's Amazing Mother

Happy Summer! I hope you're enjoying your time off. Summer is a great time to catch up on so many things that we just don't have time for otherwise and having this extra time got me thinking about something I really LOVE - picture books. You're right there with me, I know you are.

I have to admit that when I first starting teaching, I knew of a few children's authors and some great books, but I had barely scratched the surface. Now, after so many years of reading story after story, I feel like I've gotten a handle on what books really work for me. And what I've discovered is that the books that really work for me fall into their own special category. I call them Mesmerizing Reads. For me, these books are the absolute best because as I read and watch my kids' faces, I can't help but notice how truly captured they are by the story. No one is looking out the window or playing with a dangling bracelet or elbowing their neighbour, they are engrossed in the book. And that is a magical moment for a teacher.

I think part of the reason a mesmerizing read works so well has a lot to do with how invested kids are in the story. They truly want to know what happens.  And my role at that point? I READ on…

A story that mesmerizes my kids year after year is this one.
This is the story of a sweet little badger named Hazel. She heads out one morning, along with her doll Eleanor and Eleanor's beautiful carriage, on her own little adventure. After some shopping and candy tasting, Hazel ends up in a park across town, having taken a few wrong turns.
There, she has the misfortune of meeting some unsavoury characters (bullies) who capture Hazel's 
doll and hold her ransom. The prize winning part of the story though is when Hazel's mother just "knows" that Hazel needs her and so she comes to her daughter's  rescue in true super hero style. Wonder Woman would have been proud, trust me. 


After Hazel's mother has rescued Hazel and Eleanor, Hazel's asks her - "Mother, how did you do it?"  
to which, Hazel's mother responds "It must have been the power of love." As I read this page to my kids, one of my little sweethearts said "AWWWW."  She just GOT it. I reminded myself in that moment to never underestimate the understanding of a 1st grader. They will amaze and surprise you.

Hazel's Amazing Mother is part of my Picture Perfect Books series. It's the first in a long line of mesmerizing reads that I want to share with you.
I would love to give away a copy of Hazel's Amazing Mother, I'll send it right to your door - Promise. Just use the Rafflecopter below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck! 

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Classroom Clean Up for White Boards

If you're still in school, raise your hand. My hand is up by the way. I have 14 days to go! I could probably tell you exactly how many hours also, but I don't want you to think I am obsessed with the countdown or anything. 82.5. Ha. I have begun a bit of the clean up in my classroom though and thought I would share with you a little trick I use to get my white boards clean.
You can buy a cleaner that is made specifically for white boards, but it's usually really expensive and I go through it so quickly that I end up needing a new bottle often. So after a bit of trial and error, I discovered that a little rubbing alcohol cleans them up perfectly. The higher the percentage the better, I used 90% and my white boards look brand new. Plus rubbing alcohol is way cheaper than the products made just for white boards. Give it a try, it works wonders, even on tired, old, whiteboards.

If you are still in school and you've got a Filed Day coming up, I've got a Freebie for you that ties in perfectly. Just click the pic for the download.

I'll keep you updated on my countdown survival. 

Friday, 24 April 2015

Measure a Kindergartener and a Place Value Freebie

Hi There

We've been learning about measurement in my class. It's probably one of my favourite Math units. It's so fun! Once we made the switch from non standard to standard units and my kids all knew what a centimetre was, we were measuring everything we could get our hands on. It makes it so much easier when first graders have a reference point and you tell them how long an Ananconda is (very popular snake in my class at the moment) and they can totally relate. So, to finish off the unit, we decided to measure a Kindergartener. Just for fun.


We had a blast! And Kindergarten kids can be very cooperative when they're being measured. It was great hands on learning for my kids. Afterward, we took all of our data and arranged the Kinders in order of height from shortest to tallest.

Before I let you go, I have a little Freebie for you. Place Value is a work in progress in my class right now, so we are always practicing. Here's a little practice for you. Just click on the picture to download.
Happy Teaching

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Chick Love

I often get my best ideas on my drive to school in the morning. The drive back, at the end of the day, not so much cause my brain is too full. But, I have a 30 minute commute each way and if nothing else, it gives me a lot of time to reflect. A few weeks ago on my morning drive, I was thinking about the journal prompt that I was planning to give my kids that morning and wishing I could just throw the pages out the classroom window and just do something fun! Do you ever feel like that? I knew that I wanted them to write and I do value journal prompts, but I just needed to mix it up that day. So, instead of starting our day off the usual way, we did something different.

Enter - The Grade 6 Chicks. We visited them. As in, we went down the hall to the grade 6 class and visited their chicks. And the fun began…





And once the fun was done, well we wrote about it and it made for some truly genuine writing, the kind of writing you don't always get from a random prompt. 

Since that chick day, I have been working harder on letting my kids write about what matters to them. It's not always easy because it means I need to let go of the reins a bit. Plus, I tend to fret over the kids who are less motivated. I had one little guy come to me in the middle of our Penguin unit this year and tell me - "I'm not really that interested in penguins." While I appreciated his honesty, turns out since then he has repeated that same sentiment about polar bears, sharks, dogs, pretty much anything. So, giving a kid like that freedom to write worries me a little because I fear not much will interest him. Aside from him though, the rest of my kids like having the freedom to write about whatever sparks their interest. So much so, that the prompt is now an option each morning. I let my kids choose the journal prompt or write about whatever they want and I love it this way. The other day, I read journals all about the world of Pokemon and the one thing I noticed that morning was those little Pokemon writers were not at a loss to write. They had lots to say. So, onward and upward from here. My kids are free to write, I have to take a step back and just let them be. I know they will impress me.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Polar Bear Writing and a Shapes Freebie

Just before I give you an update on what's being going on in my classroom, I just want to tell you how cold it has been here. It is sooooo cold that even my little fur ball of a dog will only stand on the deck for a few seconds before begging to come in. And she loves to be outside, so that's saying something.

Since it is so cold, we've been learning about an amazing animal that just happens to love that kind of weather - the Polar Bear. You gotta love them. While I was researching the Polar Bear, I came across this movie and ended up watching it. It's fantastic and the scenery is beautiful.
My kids are little so I only showed them parts of it, the Polar Bear parts of course. We did lots of great activities during this unit, but my favorite was this writing.
My kids wrote about The Life of a Polar Bear Cub. To get them pumped for their writing, I started with this great story.
It's basically a day in the life of a Wombat. Really cute read and it helped my kids to imagine that they were polar bear cubs when they were writing. 

Now we are onto Penguins and Shapes cause I am hoping to make these two things come together at some point. Click on any of the pics to download.



And since Valentine's Day is only a week away, I've got a Freebie for you. Just click!
Stay warm for the weekend.