Thursday, January 31, 2013

Super Sale Weekend!


 Kick off the month of February by stocking up on your favorite items to make planning a little easier!  ALL of my literacy items and speech therapy products are discounted 30%!  Sale runs February 2 and 3!

Several new items have been added!  Playdough/Tracing Mats, Martin Luther King (perfect for Black History Month), Groundhog Day (can use also as a stand-alone on an informational study on groundhogs), Christian resources, and more!

See you there! 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Love One Another

I just realized today that it has almost been a week since I last blogged.  This past week has been a blur.  I finished a new packet for my Christian school and home school friends.  I wanted to add more to it but ran out of time.  Scrambled Scriptures is a fun activity for learning, reviewing, and memorizing Bible verses that have to do with love... perfect for Valentine's Day!  There are five verses~ more than enough for each week in February, or to use the week of Valentine's Day, one verse per day.  I included stationery sheets and a visualizing sheet for each verse.  I included my favorite verses;  if you have a suggestion for other verses leave me a comment and I will add to the packet!  ♥


The 3rd worst migraine I have ever had started on Friday and by Saturday afternoon I was incapacitated. Thankfully, I was better by Sunday to celebrate my son's 6th birthday ( a few days early!).  I also managed to finish reading Wuthering Heights (I'm a huge Bronte sisters fan!) for the 5th time.  It's hard to believe that I last read it back in 1989 when I was a senior in college. As I was reading, I had flashbacks of lazy Sunday afternoons spent in my dorm relishing my stack of Victorian novels!  What drama... and heartache... and passion... and melodrama...  and unforsaken love.

Speaking of love, which seems to be the theme of this post, my heart has been heavy thinking about loved ones I know that are suffering. This includes adults and children who are limping through life while trying to cope with some really tough stuff.  I am reminded of a book our school staff read a few years ago titled FisA Proven Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results by Lundin, Paul, and Christensen.

 Front Cover

 One of the take-aways I gleaned was the idea to "make someone's day". How often during the day do we see a colleague or a student or both that look a little (or a lot) out of sorts?  Or, are we so consumed with the demands of our day that we do not even notice?  If we do notice, what do we do to show love and compassion?  One simple smile, hug, word of encouragement or praise could really make some one's day.  How about writing a note and placing on a desk or in a mailbox with a small piece of candy?  Hey, that would make my day! With kids, sometimes just acknowledging that they seem to be struggling can make all the difference.  

My six year old has been having a rough time lately and is prone to major temper tantrums and outbursts.  Sometimes, I have to resist the very.strong.urge to give him a consequence for his apparent defiance and temper... sometimes, he just needs me to hug him, tell him I love him, and to say, "You are really having a bad day, aren't you?"  He practically melts in my arms and later we get to chat about his worries and frustrations.

As women, mothers, and teachers, we tend to be "fixers".  We want to solve problems and do it fast.  As least I do.  Sometimes a problem cannot be fixed.  Sometimes all that can be done is to just listen, and to help the person accept the situation and learn how to respond and not react. Not exactly easy and it can take years to reach this point.  It's at this time, that a little act of kindness, doing something small to "make someone's day" can touch the heart of another in a major way.

Currently, I'm working on a Valentine's packet for kindergarten and first grade.  I'm in the middle of a little story I'm writing and my hope is to share this message with my little ones.  Love is not just about candy hearts and parties... love is a part of ourselves that we give to another.

The first page of my little story!
Here's a challenge for all of us... find someone today who needs some encouragement.  What can you do to "make their day"?  Leave a comment with your ideas or what you plan to do. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Great Groundhogs!

Many years ago, I was blessed to have am amazing classroom when I taught eighth grade language arts in a middle school.  It was a large classroom with floor to ceiling windows along one wall of the room.  The view was spectacular. From the windows, I could see a grassy area that bordered fields and forest. In the background loomed our small mountains (in MD we call them mountains;  others may call them "hills"- LOL). Every afternoon, the kids and I would catch a glimpse of our class mascot, an ordinary groundhog, that faithfully visited the grassy area to eat his lunch every day.

As I was working on my groundhog packet, this memory invaded my mind, and I just had to smile.  I hadn't thought of this cute little rodent in over ten years. I am not so fond of rodents... I like to read about them in picture books and in nonfiction texts, but I draw the line at having one in my house.  However, I became fascinated with groundhogs as I worked on my packet.

 As I continue to develop and create products, I am finding that my niche is not only designing materials appropriatete for reading intervention and small groups, but is also writing nonfiction texts and printables to accompany them. In high school, I desired to be a technical writer, but my desire to teach was stronger. Now, I can combine both interests.

Phil's Fabulous February Forecast includes (3) original informational reading texts about Groundhog Day and groundhogs.  One gives a short, simple overview of Groundhog's Day in a printable book form;  one is a bulleted list of "fun facts" about Groundhog Day; and the last is a three page article on groundhogs.  For the latter, I included actual photos of these cute rodents (they were in the public domain- yay!), illustrations, captions, think boxes to promote active reading, and a plethora of factual information.

Designed for small group intervention in grades 3 and above, it is also more than appropriate for advanced first graders and on-level 2nd graders.  My son who is reading on a second grade level (he's in 1st grade) read the article. I asked him if it had too many words on the page. He said, no, and that he thought it was interesting. If something I create gets his seal of approval, then I know it will "fly" with other kids the same age.

With the 41 page packet, there are plenty of activities for an entire week!  I included reading response sheets, an opinion writing prompt, graphic organizers, drawing activities, a compound word activity, and more!  Many of the activities are perfect for literacy centers.

Compound Word Cards

Have a terrific Tuesday... stay warm if you are affected by the arctic freeze

Saturday, January 19, 2013

It's Popcorn Day! Pop In for Some FREEBIES!

Yes, that's right... it's National Popcorn Day!  What I would not do for some Fisher's Popcorn from Ocean City about now!

Instead, I'll settle for some microwave popcorn with our movie night we're having later today!  Not quite the same, but it will do.

To celebrate, I have two FREEBIES for you!!  Click the pic below to grab my Dolch sight word game and the pic below for a popcorn theme reader's log and bookmarks!


Now, this has nothing whatsoever to do with popcorn, but I wanted to share a little sneak peek at my Groundhog Day packet that is almost ready!!

This 50 page packet includes informational text on groundhogs and the history of Groundhog Day~ a little printable book and a 3 page article complete with actual photographs and illustrations.  

Do you celebrate Groundhog Day in the classroom?  If you think you could use this with your students, I will send a FREE copy to the first three faithful followers who leave a comment either about popcorn or groundhogs.  LOL  Remember to leave your email addy with your comments.  This little activity should be ready by tomorrow!

 Have a stellar Saturday!! 

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Livin' the Dream! MLK Showcase!

The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education
Martin Luther King Jr.

Even though I was only a year old when Dr. King was brutally assassinated, I grew up learning about this great man, was inspired by his deep faith in God and respect for education, and have been honored as a teacher to pass along his passion for peace to my students over the course of my twenty-four years as a teacher.

My newest packet, A Passion For Peace  Livin' the Dream is as much a tribute to this incredible, fearless icon in American history as it is an instructional tool to teach our little learners about the impact King's battle has on our lives today.

What started out as a mini-unit, became a (41) page packet to be used with advanced first graders, on-level second graders, and can be used in intervention groups for struggling third and fourth (and above?) readers. I created a six page nonfiction biography/article about King's life; my goal was to include the most important facts, while keeping it kid-friendly, interesting, and embedding important informational reading features.

As you can see in the preview pic above, I included several before reading activities like a K-W-L graphic organizer and a  Was-Had-Did organizer along with two sets of the (15) Tier 2 and 3 vocabulary words from the article I wrote.

In addition, I wrote the nonfiction text using a chronological text structure and formatted it with several text features such as illustrations, photographs, captions, subheadings and more.

Like most of my products, my intention was to create a packet to be used in small groups, whether it be in Guided Reading groups or in an intervention group for the upper grades. However, it is flexible enough to use whole class and some of the vocabulary, comprehension, and after reading activities could be used in a literacy center. With all of the lesson components, the lesson could easily take (5) days to complete.

After students read, discuss, and think about Dr. King's life, I then wanted them to apply what they learned to their lives, which is where the "Livin the Dream" part comes in.

The above picture shows the completed writing on the stationery provided and the topper.  The actual prompt is worded:

Think about how you can make the world a better place.  What is your dream?
Write about your dream for our world on the next page.  Then color the picture above and use as a topper for your writing.

And on side note, I just love this Cupcake Velvety font from A Cupcake for the Teacher that she graciously offered for free on her blog!

There are two other prompts: my dream for my community and my dream for my classroom.  There are many ways to use the prompts, from having students choose one to randomly assigning one.

That's a little peek into my newest packet!  If you have any questions, you can comment here or send me an email.  Also, you can check out a guest blog post I wrote for Live to Teach with picture book and website recommendations for your MLK Day celebrations!

And..... as I often like to do , you can win a FREE copy of Passion for Peace !

Just leave a comment below sharing how you celebrate MLK Day in the classroom or at home.  Don't forget to leave your email address.  I'll have one of my little guys select a random number tonight!

Giveaway is over.

Happy Birthday, Dr.King... may we continue your legacy and make you proud!
Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend
Martin Luther King Jr.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Magical Product Swap With Reading Toward the Stars!


It's that time again!  This is my second product swap hosted by Jessica Stanford, and I am so excited to share with you the product that I reviewed this time around!  I was matched with Andrea, also a reading specialist, and author of the blog Reading Toward the Stars.

The product that Andrea gave me to review is her Little Pig Goes To the Zoo Emergent Reader.

I chose this activity because it looked perfect for my kindergarten son! The day I did the activity my first grade son and my nephew who is in third grade joined in the fun. Although the reader was too easy for the older two, it was just right for my six year old!  Plus, all kids love animals, especially farm and zoo animals, so I knew this reader would grab their interest. 

 This packet contains the following items:
  • (10) page printable book, "Little Pig Goes to the Zoo"
  • One page of (15) characters and setting cards with cute color graphics created by The 3AM Teacher
  • (9) Sight word cards that are used in the story
  • Age range:  kindergarten, first, and second grades

One of the setting cards

Each child looked at their character/setting cards and then placed on the table
  1. I printed, cut apart, and collated the little books
  2. I printed and cut apart the character/setting cards and the sight word cards
  3. I designed a short lesson plan (about 20 minutes) for the activity just like I would have if I had used it in one of my first or second  grade intervention groups. 
The first thing I did was give each of the three boys (5) character/setting cards. They looked at the picture and read the word below the card and placed on the table. Afterwards, I had them make a prediction as to what the story would be about using the pictures as clues. 

Here's a funny little video clip of their "smart guesses". Toward the end, you'll hear my son telling me that our new puppy is biting something!  LOL


Next, my kindergarten son read the sight word cards ( last, at, then, why, from, little, first, next, went) with a little help from his older brother and cousin. We read the title and author, and they refined their predictions. Then, we read the story to see if their predictions were correct. The boys wanted to take turns reading, each reading two pages (their idea). Just like in the classroom, I like to give students choices as much as I can!

As we were reading, the boys would take a character or setting card that matched the content on the page.  My kindergarten son knew most of the words; for words he didn't know, he was able to use picture clues or get help from his buddies!

On the last page, Little Pig asks Little Chick why he is at the zoo and says, "Let's go home!".  I asked the boys where home was.  The oldest boy answered immediately with, "the farm" and went back to the first page and pointed to the text.  Yes! Great text support!

We discussed their favorite part and then I had them find some sight words or characters by circling them with a crayon.  I gave each boy a different word to find since each reads at a different level. To finish, I was going to have them do a sequencing activity, but I knew that they had reached their attention span limit (they were still on Christmas break, so I was "pushing" it as it was!).


What I Liked About the Packet
  • The story was just darling!  More importantly, it captured the attention of my boys!
  • Predictable text is used to scaffold learning for little readers.
  • The layout of the pages is very simple, not distracting, yet appealing.
  • Picture clues offered another layer of scaffolding for harder words (i.e., "pond").
  • The character and setting picture cards can be used before reading like I used them, or could be used after reading for retelling or sequencing.
This packet is a steal at just $3.00!  My boys really enjoyed the activities and my kindergartner has a copy of the book on desk to color.  If I were in the classroom, I would definitely use this in my reading intervention group for first and second grades.  It makes for a great take-home book!

Thank you, Andrea for such a cute literacy packet!  Be sure to check out Andrea's blog for interesting and informative posts, including her new FREEBIE fonts!!  Click the button below to visit Andrea's blog.

And finally.... you can win a FREE copy of "Little Pig Goes To the Zoo" PLUS the packet of mine that Andrea is reviewing, Reindeer Reading.
Just enter the Raffelcopter below for a chance to win BOTH of these packets. The winner will be drawn on Saturday evening, January 19, 2013. You can also enter Andrea's same giveaway on her blog!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Pretzel Sparklers! A Fun, Festive Snack For Kids!

Now, I'm a little late, but I wanted to share this fun recipe for pretzel sparklers, a great New Year's Eve snack.  My boys and I were supposed to make them on NY Eve, but we got sidetracked. So, we made them a day or so later.  They make for great party snacks, whether for a birthday party, a holiday, or anytime!  I used rainbow sprinkles, but you can use a solid color for different holidays such as red for Valentine's Day, green for St. Patrick's Day, or red, white, and blue for Memorial Day or July 4th!

  I first found this idea in a cookbook I bought 10+ years ago. Pretzel sparklers are so easy to make and the end product is supposed to look like.... well.... a sparkler!  And, if you like pretzels and chocolate, you will love this! The rainbow sprinkles are the icing on the proverbial cake!

Here's the recipe and some pics of my boys making a big 'ole mess!


I used a mixture of white and milk chocolate chips.  Use about one cup of chips.

  • Follow directions on the package of chocolate chips and melt in microwave
  • Dip the end of the pretzel into the melted chocolate
  • Roll pretzel in sprinkles to coat
  • Place on plate to dry
Any object can instantly become a sword!

They ended up with too much chocolate and not enough sprinkles!


The end result was delicious (especially with a cup of coffee for me and milk for the boys)!  My boys really enjoyed making these and said they had a lot of fun! 

I am always looking for easy, inexpensive recipes and crafts that are kid-friendly.  This little recipe does just that!

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