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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Getting to Know Me!

I have so many new followers and visitors stopping by my blog these days.  And I'm so glad to see you all here.  I noticed that on Instagram people are telling more about themselves using the hashtag #meetmetpt so I thought I would get on the bandwagon and tell you a little about me! Take a peek and by all means, say hi, leave a comment, follow me, and let me know you were here!

1.  I have been teaching for ages.  The funny thing is that I can't remember if this is my 28th or 29th year.  How weird is that?

2.  I am a self proclaimed music buff!  I'm addicted to my XM/Sirius radio and you will often find me on the 70's on 7!  

3.  I am hoping to find a new litter of Westie Puppies or a Westie rescue this Spring since we lost Izzy this past September at 16.5 years old.  Our house feels so empty without him.

4.  My past job  experiences include waiting on tables and selling bridal gowns!

5.  I didn't get married until I was 41 years old.

6.  My favorite kind of vacation includes a beach, a frosty drink with a paper umbrella in it,  and a stack of good books to read.

7.  I am a third generation teacher...on my mom's side.  I used to go to school and help my grandma set up her classroom each summer.

8.  I have only filled up my gas tank about a dozen times since I got married nine years ago. My hubs loves to do this for me.

9.  I love a great sense of humor with good timing.

10.  February is my favorite month of the school year.  It is so action packed between Groundhog Day, Valentine's Day, Dental Health Month, President's Day, and Black History Month.  So take a peek below and see what my TPT friends and I have that may be of interest to you for the month of February!

Until Next Time,

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Great Literacy Idea for Black History Month

Many years ago, I took my kindergarten students on a field trip to our downtown public library.  They had an amazing storytelling program that was not to be missed.  During this particular field trip in February they featured an "African Story Vine" and I thought it was an amazing concept that I could adapt for my classroom,  Ever since that time, I have included it in my February curriculum as a means of sharing some amazing literature with my students.  And if I was not in the classroom teaching, I've convinced a colleague to give it a whirl.

So what is an "African Story Vine"?  A story vine (rope/necklace) was often worn by tribesmen and storytellers as they traveled around from community to community and village to village.  The vine was adorned with objects that represented various stories. These stories were shared aloud with groups of people by moonlight and were passed down from generation to generation.  At that time, I decided this could be an amazing way to share this tradition as well as some amazing literature with my students.

Once I fell in love with this strategy, I decided that this would be a unique product to share over in my TPT store.  I adapted it so you could use it in your classrooms as well because why should I be the only one to have this much fun?  Now, let me tell you some more about how this actually works. Included with this product, you will find a list of some amazing picks to use as read alouds during February. The stories are either African tales, stories with African American characters, or stories about famous African Americans.  You will find included  amazing stories such as "The Snowy Day", "Anansi and the Magic Stick", "Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain", "The Story of Ruby Bridges", "The Other Side","Flossie and the Fox", and so many more.  And if you have some of your own favorites, you can adapt this to include those titles as well.

You will also find a set of tags, one for each story  is included.  Each tag includes a picture that represents the story but students do not know what the title of the book is from looking at the tag.

Each tag should be duplicated on card stock and then attach them to your story vine. I used these cute polka dotted ribbons to attach them, but you can use curling ribbon or even just a paperclip.   Each day, your read aloud (the tag) is picked off the vine by your students. Then that is your story to share on that particular day. You continue this daily until all your tags are removed from the vine. You can discuss the imagery on the tag, how it pertains to the story, and then read the story. Here is what my vine looks like. You can dress up your favorite bookshelf or string your vine along below your dry erase or Interwrite Board.  The vine can have as many of the books as you would like to read during the time designated time period you have chosen.

After reading the story, there is a "journal" in which your students can respond to the story in anyway you see fit.  Your students can write the main idea of the story, a brief reflection, a lesson learned, or any other ideas or concept that works for you. You can adapt this to meet your needs. You can copy this as a packet or as mini booklets as a reproducible cover is included as well.   Here is an example of what the journal pages look like. 

Here's what Emily, a first grade teacher has to say about using this product...

"My first graders have loved choosing tags from our story vine each day throughout February.  When their name is called to make a choice, they are so excited!  It's a time of our day that we all look forward to as we anticipate what new book we will read that day!  As a teacher, I love the follow up portion of it where we can extend our learning from any other part of our day into story time and respond to our reading.  This activity gives my students a broader idea of "Black History Month" and helps us enrich our learning during the month of February."

So are your wheels turning yet?  I think this is a great way to incorporate some great stories into your month and to provide meaningful information about Black History Month in a great context.  After all, reading aloud a great book to my students is one of my favorite things to do....especially when it's a tried and true home run. Hop on over to my TPT store and take a closer look at this packet.  I really think you will love it and the concept as much as Emily and I do.  

Until Next Time,

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Keeping Things Fresh

I'm really excited this week as my Kindergarten Intervention Kiddos are making great progress on hearing similarities and differences with sounds.  When I get stuck on how to teach a skill, I turn to a spinner game because I've never met a kid who doesn't love a spinner game.

I used to buy the spinners that you could attach to a game board. However, now I'm a fan of the paperclip and a pencil.  To do this, just place the end of the paperclip in the center of the circle. Secure it in it's spot by putting a pencil point inside the edge.  Then your students can give a flick and the paperclip will rotate around the pencil like a spinner.  This is way more economical than my previous purchases.  Plus, the little organizer in me loves that the game boards store flat, which is not the case when attaching a spinner.

So let me show you what we played today.

This is my Beginning Sounds/Super Sound Spinner activity. My kinders were engaged, enthusiastic, and did really well with this activity.  (I did have to tell them what a "kettle" was because don't we all just microwave these days?)  If you would like to take a closer look at this just click below!

What format do your students love?  I'm always looking for a great new idea or format to introduce my students to in order to keep things FRESH!  Take a peek below to see the timely activities my TPT colleagues recommend and perhaps you will find a fresh new idea for your classroom.

Until Next Time,

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Wednesday Linky Party- And Check Out My Magnetic Letter Move Around

Happy Wednesday and Happy New Year.  Things have been chaotic since the new year began. The Hubs and I had a vacation over the break. In fact, I extended the break by taking the last week off of school and we headed to Barbados.  It was so nice to get my toes in the sand, read some great books for pleasure, hit up the spa, get some sun, and just relax!  Here is my view from our room.  How can you get sick of this right?

Ahhhh... wish I was there now. But back at home,  all has broken loose. I'm back at work, deep in the thick of it. I procrastinated on my observation because I was sick in November and my observation/evaluation is on tap for this week. You know how that goes. Monday was my 
pre-observation and I had the required walk through right after that with my first group of intervention kiddos.  Wednesday is the day for my observation.  I decided to have my principal watch my adorable 2nd graders who participate in Orton Gillingham.  My schedule is jam packed for the 30 minute observation and I'm having difficulty deciding what to cut, add, and maneuver.  Why this increases anxiety after 28 years of teaching is just beyond me.  Why do we do this to ourselves?

So, what's new in my TPT store? I'm so excited for a revamp of my favorite activity of all time.  It is a "Magnetic Move Around" activity that is truly a most versatile activity. You can use this for K-4 students, and just work on different skills that are appropriate for the particular grade levels.  

K students- make simple sight words
1st Graders- sight words, CVC words, add endings, change out a beginning, middle, or end sound for new word
2nd Graders- sight words, CVC, blends/digraphs, vowel teams, add prefix/suffix
3rd-a4th Graders-  prefix, suffix, multi-syllabic words

All you need is your favorite set of magnetic letters. I love the color coded ones that are blue and red so students can visually see that each word has at least one vowel in it.I am not kidding you when I tell you my students LOVE this activity.  They are amazingly great at this and ask for it repeatedly.  So I made it into monthly products.  However, currently it is getting a face lift and update and so it is available in a growing bundle format.  So if you are interested in this type of activity, now is the time to grab it at it's best price. You can now get twelve months worth for the price of less than three months individually purchased.  You can see a few sample pages below for January, February, and March!  Simply post the phrase found at the top of your page with magnetic letters on your magnetic surface.  Have students sit around you on the floor near your magnetic board with their recording sheet on a clipboard and armed with a pencil.  Each student can come up and make a word while everyone records it on their sheet. There is a second sheet so you can continue the activity on the back.  And if you prefer, there are letter cards that you may use and duplicate for your students in case you do not have magnetic letters for each of your students.  But definitely, my favorite way to begin this is to use it in a whole group!

And if I can tell you that in your absence, your substitute teacher will love this.  It is often an item I leave for my sub and if you have the same sub often, so that's a double bonus!  Simple and minimal prep plus high student engagement equals happy subs and happy teachers!  

As always, Wednesday is my Link Up Day. So be sure to check out what my other TPT friends have posted for you below as well. I'm certain you can find something useful for this time of the school year!  

Until Next Time,