Thursday, December 11, 2014

Reindeer Reading: Informational Reading for Primary Grades

It's all about reindeer today!  I am linking up with my friend, Carla, from Comprehension Connection!  I will be showcasing my Reading Reindeer literacy resource that I have available in my little TpT store.  But, make sure you click the link below to read about other reindeer activities including FREE ones, suggested reading, crafts, and more!

My children have inspired me and motivated me to be a better mom and teacher.  The youngest two are my guinea pigs when creating new items for my students.  Recently, when I realized that they thought reindeer were imaginary creatures, my latest product was born!  Now, not to dis Rudolph, but I thought it would be fun to create a nonfiction packet about these very interesting creatures.  We all know that boys love nonfiction reading and all students, at least mine, enjoy reading about animals.

My Reindeer Reading packet includes an original three page nonfiction/ informational article about reindeer:  what they look like, what they eat, and where they live. My children were excited to learn they live in Alaska.  My husband went to Alaska last fall on mission's trip with our church. Sadly, he did not see any reindeer in the wild!

Informative Article- Includes three pages!

My boys were peeking over my shoulder as I created this packet that is filled with graphic organizers, vocabulary cards, and writing activities.  Although the reading level is too difficult for my youngest, the oldest (reads at Guided Reading Level of H/I) was able to read it with support.

Before reading activities include a K-W-L organizer (shown above), A Can, Have, Are chart, and vocabulary cards  (Tier 3 words) to assess prior knowledge.  The three pages are perfect to use in Guided Reading or even in a center if students can complete the reading independently with little scaffolding.  I added thinking prompts at the end of each page to prompt for active reading.  Also perfect to use in science class to integrate reading and writing with the content areas!

After reading students complete their reindeer book to record the main idea and important details.  As well, there is a narrative prompt and three different stationery sheets to complete the final copy.

There is a lot more in this literacy packet!  With a total of 20 pages, it is enough for one week of instruction for your high level first graders and on-level 2nd or 3rd graders.  When writing and designing the unit, I implemented the CCSS, the reading process, and best practices to use to engage, motivate, and to foster higher level thinking skills in my little readers.  There is no crafty component to this because when I pull out readers it is for either intervention or enrichment, and I simply do not have time, as I'm sure you can relate to!  I used this activity with high level first graders and used it in a highly structured and scaffolded small group with struggling second graders.

You can check out the packet and see more details here.  Don't forget the check out the other bloggers who have linked up to share their reindeer highlights.  Click the linky picture at the top of this post.


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Sunday, August 3, 2014

Back To School: Sales, Giveaways, and New Beginnings!

The time is near, my friends!  Some of you may have already started your brand new school year. Others may have another few weeks to make summer memories, prepare classrooms, and sleep in!  As for me, I am homeschooling my youngest year-round, while my middle son goes back to school in just (22) days!  And my oldest son turns (21) this month and is preparing to leave for Basic Training for the Army National Guard in a few months!

A new school year is all about new beginnings. A fresh start.  And then there is school shopping!  I don't think that I will ever lose my excitement for back to school shopping whether it be new crayons, backpacks, lunchboxes, books, and of course classroom decor and  curricular materials!

Speaking of curriculum, you are probably already aware that Teachers Pay Teachers is having their annual Back to School SALE  August 4-5.  My store is already on SALE with 20% off ALL items today.  If you need something for tomorrow, you can grab it now!  Starting tomorrow, August 4th, use coupon code BTS14 to get a total of 28% off ALL of my items!

Some of My Favorite Printables:

I also have writing prompts for September and other months. Click here to see all of them.

This is my #1 best seller that I use!

Have the First Day Jitters? Check out this literacy packet for use with your little ones:

 And, you don't wast to miss this one:  Wouldn't you love to win an iPad Mini?  What a way to kick-off the new school year! Don't forget to enter the iPad Mini GIVEAWAY that I am participating in along with (20) other bloggy friends. Click the pic below to enter!

And speaking of new beginnings, I am so, so excited to be part of the Jamberry team as an Independent Consultant!

Later this month, I will blog about why I started, all the benefits, and how I NEVER did my nails until I discovered Jamberry Nail Wraps!  Here's the short version:  in just (2) weeks as a consultant, I made enough money to take my son BTS shopping!

If you would like a FREE sample nail wrap, please click below to complete the Google Doc, and I will mail out your sample along with information for application.

If you have already purchased a Jamberry Nail Wrap, you know that it is LOVE at first sight!  My customers are telling me:  "I applied my Jams last night, and now I'm totally hooked!"

If you want to check out the current spring/summer catalog click here to visit my website.  You have until August 31 to order any of the wraps you see.  After that, the online catalog will be replaced with the fall collection.

AND, there are many~ (138) current wraps that are being retired and will NOT be available again- EVER after August 31.  Click the pics below to view all 138 wraps that will be gone forever after August 31.

You can order directly from my website.  If you are at all interested in hosting a Facebook party (where I do all the work, we play games, I have giveaways, and YOU can earn FREE wraps), click here.

If you want to take the plunge and become a consultant, I would love, love to have you on my team that also has many other teachers and mamas!  I will support you every step of the way on your new adventure.  Click here to view the details.

If you have any questions, please ask, and I will be happy to help!  Teachers love Jamberry- me included!

A new school year and new beginnings can be a little daunting, but I say BRING IT ON!

May you have a restful and relaxing Sunday!

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Thursday, July 31, 2014

iPad Mini-Giveaway!

How would you like to win a FREE iPad Mini to start off a new school year?  Oh, the possibilities for you and your students! 

Check out this site~ iPad Kids to check out the best kids' Apps, App reviews, and free Apps that you can use on the iPad Mini.  If you are not familiar with this device, this is a good starting point for a vast list of educational and entertaining Apps for teachers and parents.

Wondering how to use an iPad Mini in your classroom?  Click here to view 103 ways!

And finally, follow my Pinterest board "Tech for Teachers" for over 100 ideas for using technology in the classroom.

Now, you have to enter to win!  Good Luck!

***  PLEASE NOTE: This giveaway is only open to teachers (classroo.m and homeschool) who are living in the contiguous United States. The winning entry will be verified and proof of eligibility may be required. Please see the complete terms and conditions at the bottom of the giveaway for more information

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The blogs below all contributed to this giveaway. You'll want to visit each one of them to get tech tips, reviews and more

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Would You Like to Party With Me?

Today's post is all about YOU!  Whether you are a teacher, a parent, or both, I understand completely how busy you are.  In fact, you are probably so busy, that you take little time for yourself whether that be sitting down for a few minutes to read, rest, or to indulge in a little pampering that you so deserve.

When I was working full time and had an only child, I had the money and some time to visit the nail salon for a mani, pedi, or both. However, it was still difficult to arrange for childcare, and I never felt comfortable spending that much money on my nails.  Most of my "extra" money was spent on my family and for my classroom.  Plus, I never quite got used to the harsh chemical smell of the nail salon.

Now, many years later, I am a mother to two young boys and the oldest of the three is in college. I have become a stay-at-home-mom, homeschool mom, teacher-author, and literacy tutor.  I thought the days of having my nails professionally done was over, and I was ok with that.  After all, I now have less money and less time.  

Then, I discovered Jamberry Nails.  As I requested a sample, I was doubtful that these vinyl nail wraps would be affordable, durable, and easy to apply.  I tried the samples and became hooked!  I immediately ordered a set of nails wraps for $15- which- is enough for about (2) manicures and (1) pedicure or (3) manicures.  That is $5 per mani.  Yes, I could afford this!  I watched the application video on the official site and was beyond pleased at the results.

Then I hosted a Jamberry Nails Facebook party where I was able to earn free products, meet new friends, and have FUN, all in the comfort of my own home while my consultant did all the work!

In fact, I was so pleased with this product that I became a-  wait for this-

To say I am excited about this new adventure is an understatement!  Jamberry Nails were created by women for women, just like you and me!  I have never been in direct sales and have only hosted one party many years ago for Pampered Chef.

To celebrate my new adventure, I am hosting a Launch Party on Facebook next week, and I would love for you to join in on the fun, games, giveaways, and prizes!  There is no pressure to purchase; you can come and go as you please without leaving your house!  If you are at all curious, have questions, are interested in hosting your own Facebook party (where I do all the work for you and you can earn free products), I warmly and enthusiastically invite you to my party.

Please send me an email at with a link to your personal Facebook page.  I will then request to be your friend, and can send you your official invitation with a link to the party page!  Please title your email I Want to Party.  

If you would like to browse through my Jamberry store to learn more, watch an application video, or to place an order (special deal:  Buy (3) get one FREE!) click  here.

I so look forward to hearing from you, and can't wait to party with all of you!

Have a great weekend!

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Three Ways to Sustain Learning Over the Summer

We have all heard of the "summer slide", and you know I'm not talking about water slides! What is the best advice to ensure that your child will not lose the skills and progress they made during the school year?  How can parents keep their children mentally active over the summer?

I have been an educator for 25 years and a parent for 21 years. My two youngest boys are ages seven and eight.  As you might expect, all three boys are completely different in personalities, strengths, and learning styles.

But one thing remains constant: children are children and as my dear friend says, "Children are wired to learn!"  The key is to discover your child's learning style and interests, and run with it.

Top Three Ways to Engage Kids in Summer Learning

1.  Let them play-  All children, no matter their age, learn through play, whether it is solitary play or collaborative play. This is my #1 advice to parents:  provide unstructured free time for children to explore, discover new learning on their own, take risks, experiment, and yes, make mistakes.  Just yesterday my boys took their battery-powered monster trucks outside to play.  They worked together on building a dirt pile that the trucks could climb without falling over. They did not ask for my help, I did not interrupt, and they learned a whole lot about science and forces of motion.  Kids are born curious!  Watch this short video that offers advice in a more eloquent fashion: 

2.  Child-Led Interests- Ask your child what they would like to learn this summer.  My youngest wanted to grow pumpkins in the garden because he was curious about how they grow.  So, we are having fun and learning much about the life cycle of a pumpkin! My middle son is immersed in Greek mythology and is enjoying reading, drawing, and writing his own myths.  Are you going on a summer vacation?  Study your vacation destination by researching on the Internet, looking at the Atlas, and reading books about your destination. Calculate the miles, the cost of fuel, food, hotel, campground, etc.  Encourage students to keep a journal where they can write, glue pictures and postcards, and draw their experiences before, during, and after the trip. To answer those burning questions that kids have, allow them to visit the fabulous site, Wonderopolis.

3.  Reading and Academics-  I don't recommend forcing kids to read over the summer, but rather to encourage authentic reading and content exploration. Personally, I'm not a fan of bogging down kids with keeping a reader's log. Nor, am I a huge fan of offering extrinsic rewards for reading.  If this works to motivate your child to read, then go with it.  I keep a log for my kids, but usually they want to take ownership of it and being boys, they like to post the log on the fridge to compete to see who is reading the most books.  I scatter books of interest here, there, and everywhere throughout the house. This will pique their interest, and I allow them the freedom to choose what and when they will read.  I read aloud to them at dinner, at breakfast, or whenever we need quiet time. They have chosen to be part of the summer reading program at our local library (motivated by the prizes), but I did not force the issue.  My youngest wants to learn more about geometry, and the eight year old wants to learn multiplication.  Run with whatever their interests are!  Encourage and praise them for any reading they do whether it is learning how to make a paper airplane, reading a recipe, or staying up past bedtime to read with a flashlight.

Ban the worksheets and workbooks, let kids be kids, encourage play time, learning, and watch what happens!

For many more summer activities to keep kids engaged and learning over the summer check out this amazing new blog I recently discovered that is a treasure trove of crafts, games, and outdoor summer activities for kids of all ages! Just click the picture below to visit!
Personal Creations

Have more ideas?  Please share in the comments section!

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