Reading Reindeer! Merry Christmas

Creating projects with my kids is one of the things I enjoy most about teaching. The kids get so excited to incorporate crafts and art as a way of displaying their learning. 

I wanted to do a holiday project with them this week so we created "Reading Reindeer". 

Don't they make a cute display?


The first thing the kids did was read a holiday themed book. I pulled out all of my holiday books that had a story- I tried to stay away from any that did not have an actual plot. For my struggling readers I used holiday books with characters they were familiar with... Froggy, Henry and Mudge, Arthur... for my readers that are more on grade level I pulled out several Patricia Polacco books, Cranberry Christmas, Berenstain Bears, Christmas in the Big Woods, etc. 

After reading the books, the kiddos completed a "book" review. The books the reindeer are holding are the kids' book reviews. On the outside of the book review they decorated a book cover. Most chose to also do a drawing of some sort on the back, too. 

After they finished this part, we made the reindeer. I am always so pleasantly surprised with how much personality each one has, even when using all the same parts. I have included the templates for you here if you would like to use this with your class...


Here are some of the reindeer that were created- see how adorable they are!



I also made the fireplace in about 20 minutes- it is just roll paper that I cut the outline of the fireplace on and then I cut out bricks and glued them down. I used orange tissue for the fire and brown paper for the mantel. Then I googled images of Santa and Mrs. Claus and cut out little photo frames so that it looks like there are photos on the mantel. 


Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


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Nonfiction Text Feature Fun

During second quarter our focus during Reader's Workshop is nonfiction text. We have spent the first part of this quarter learning about nonfiction text features and how they help us when we read informational text. 

Today we did an activity that my students really enjoyed. I saved a few of our Time For Kids magazines, ones we had already read and discussed, and then I collected them and stored them- so today I pulled those out and we went on a scavenger hunt searching for 7 different features. 



Of course, I had already scoped them out and knew which features were for sure in the magazines. I typed up a directions page for my kiddos to use and we looked at the sample 
I had made so they would know just what they needed to do. 


You can find the directions page for free to use with your class here... 

As for my teacher example- here it is (the red border is a magnetic border on my dry erase board- it is not part of the poster): 


Here are a couple student examples- they worked so hard and I loved for them to be able to cut out all of the features and glue them down. Really helped make the concept of the features more concrete for them. 




As I said, we have been working on learning about the text features for a few weeks now. We used a folded booklet that I had created to use in my class for the introductory part of the unit. It is available as a paid product in my TpT store (Searching for Nonfiction Text Features). It contains the components for the booklet, response sheets, and posters for each of the eight text features that we focused on in the booklet. 

Here is the completed booklet- the cover...


And the inside...


I can remember not liking to read nonfiction too much as a kid, but today most nonfiction books are so inviting to kids and are fun to read! We have really enjoyed learning about nonfiction so far in our class- hope you can use some of these ideas in your classroom.


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Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch

Another book that I love to use to teach character is Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli.



Not only does it have a strongly defined main character, but it is such a sweet book with a wonderful message. I read it to my class every year and they always love it. 

This year I designed a quick activity to use to help students see the changes that Mr. Hatch goes through during the course of the story. As I read the book to my students I stop at three different points in the story for us to chart (and also at the conclusion of the book) and for them to work. 

Here are my stopping points in the book...




And here is our anchor chart...


I love the detail my students used when completing their work- they loved drawing Mr. Hatch with the different emotions on his face!


You can get this activity for free here- Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch printable!

This book is also available on Storyline Online read by Hector Elizondo. 

If you haven't used this book in your class before, I hope you are inspired to check it out!





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Focus on Characters: Miss Penny and Mr. Grubbs

In my class we are continuing our study of characters. I want to share with you another great picture book with two very contrasting characters. 

This book is also by Lisa Campbell Ernst (as I've said before- one of my favorite authors!). It is really a sweet book...



I read the story to my students and then I started the chart- but we did not fill in the words to describe the characters (we did that later). 



I gave my students the reading response activity and sent them off to illustrate and write. After giving them some time- we reconvened on the carpet and completed the chart. Then they could go back and add to their own work if they chose to. 




You can find the free printable activity here!

They loved this activity and I was really pleased with their efforts! 

Up next... Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch!

What picture books do you love to use to teach character?



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Focus on Characters: Squirrel Park

During Reader's Workshop we have been focusing on character. For the first portion of our unit I read the novel From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. What a great story to teach character- the main characters Claudia and Jamie are so distinct and have such personalities that my students could really envision the characters and get to know them. 

After we finished the novel I wanted to continue to work with the concept of character. The first story I chose was Squirrel Park. It is by one of my all time favorite authors- Lisa Campbell Ernst. 

First I read the story...





Then we charted the 3 main characters- Chuck, Stuart, and Mr. Ivey. First, I just wrote their names and sketched a picture of each. (I did not list any character traits at this point.)

I then sent students off to their seats to draw and list describing character words for each character. After students completed this, we met back together and then completed the chart. 

Here is a sample of the worksheet the students completed...

You can find this free worksheet here! I hope it is something you can use. 


This is the first in a series of picture book character lessons I will be blogging about. Be sure to check back for the Miss Penny and Mr. Grubbs lesson tomorrow!






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Calendar Math Companion Journals

At my school we began using Everyday Counts Calendar Math a few years ago. I had really never used any form of calendar math before that, so it was the beginning of a learning process for me. Originally, I had really thought of calendar math as a kindergarten/first grade activity. Boy, was I wrong!

After trying to faithfully use calendar math on a daily basis, I found I was falling short. I would skip a day here and there, my daily counts and calculations would get off track, some of my kiddos were not engaged in the learning taking place ... 

So over Christmas break last year I decided I needed to do something to get the calendar math ship back on course... enter my Calendar Math Companion Journals. 

I began with January- I included the everyday components, the focus skill for the month, and then tried to wrap in those third grade skills that my students need a constant review of.

My students love having their own journal, I love being accountable to the journal and my kids- not so easy to skip a day anymore (they are sure to remind me on the rare occasion I get off track), and I love the constant review of skills. I feel like my students are now all engaged because we work through the journal together each day- I give them a minute to fill in their answer and then we check and I explain/answer any questions they have. I have the journal projected on my SMART board and it goes like clockwork. I can get calendar math time done in 15 minutes. 



If you are interested in these journals- you can find them to purchase from my Teachers Pay Teachers store here: Calendar Math Journals

What tips and tricks do you have for making calendar math time work in your classroom?

Have a great week!


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Back to School Consensograms with Graphing Practice!

We went back to school the second week of August. Boy, am I tired! Between work and moving my youngest daughter to college I am wiped out! Really looking forward to Labor Day Weekend to get my batteries recharged. 

This is the beginning of my 19th year and I can't believe I forget...
 1.) how bad my feet hurt in regular shoes after wearing flip flops all summer!
 2.) how easily I lose my voice with all of that talking!

This year I was excited to try some new activities for the beginning of the year. I have been seeing all sorts of information about consensograms (never used one in class, but I have participated in them during PD). I thought they looked fun and would be high interest for my students. It would also be a great way for my students to get to know each other better.

I decided on 4 questions- one for each school day our first week.  

Favorite Fruit...

Hot Lunch/ Cold Lunch...

Kinds of Pets...

Number of Siblings...

As I was creating my charts I started thinking this would be a great opportunity to introduce data collection and data displays.

I created a graph to go along with each consensogram. One line plot, one tally chart, one bar graph, and one pictograph. 



You can find all of the graphs here: Back to School Consensogram Graphs

My kids sure seemed to enjoy these activities! I hope they might be useful to you, as well!




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August Currently

I am "Currently" linking up with Farley again this month! 

I love this linky party and am excited to share it with my kids. I purchased the Currently packet from her TpT store and have a bulletin board dedicated to display each child's Currently for the month. 

Ok... so here is mine!



Thanks for stopping by!


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Thank You Office Max!


Ok. I am a little shocked. I have been working on creating name tags, labels, etc. for my class. This past year I have learned to do a lot on the computer I NEVER thought I would be able to do. 

In fact, the other day my 18 year old daughter said, "Um, I can't believe you know how to do more on the computer than I do now!" 

What a compliment, since she has been my go to person for tech help since she was like 8! 

Anyway, as I was creating I was thinking about all the colored ink I was going to be using up and I was pretty concerned about how it would look since my printer is not exactly high-tech. 

I decided to check into color prints at Office Max. I called and talked to someone and decided I would use their online feature to upload my document and have it printed. 

I started small- I definitely did not want to print pages and pages only to decide I didn't like it and be stuck spending the money for something I wouldn't use.

The upload process was easy and I received a call and an email about 25 minutes later that my prints were ready. When I picked them up I was shocked! (And not by the price, I thought it was very reasonable.)

HOLY COW! The copies were beautiful. Office Max is my new favorite place! 




Here is what my daily schedule looks like on my magnetic white board. I put magnets on the back of each piece. And by the way, we do eat lunch- I just left that circle out by mistake! 



I have used this type of daily schedule visual for my kids for years. I LOVE that it is easy to move around each day and that there are no times on it! (When I used to put times or clocks with my daily schedule my kids would be more worried about us staying on schedule than on what they were currently learning!)

I have FIVE FREE  versions of this nifty daily schedule available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. 

Have a great weekend! (I only have 2 weekends left before we go back to work!!!!)  I am excited about how I will be spending this one! I will tell you about it next week.


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Book Talk Tuesday: Duke the Dairy Delight Dog!

Thrilled to be participating in my first Book Talk Tuesday Linky sponsored by Mrs. Jump's Class




One of my very favorite authors is Lisa Campbell Ernst! Several of her books could compete for the title of "My Favorite Children's Picture Book". She writes great stories that are funny, sweet, full of adventure, and her illustrations are so engaging. 

I ALWAYS read Duke the Dairy Delight Dog to my students sometime during the first part of the year. Then I make sure I have a basket of more Lisa Campbell Ernst books checked out because they always want to read more!



Last year I chose to use this book during our Reader's Workshop character unit. I used this book as my mentor text to accompany a really cute character project my students complete. After reading the book, we discuss the character "Darla", her personality traits, how she changes during the course of the story, the motivation for her actions, etc. Then I use "Darla" to create my example. I have loads of books pulled with strong characters in them and each student gets a book, reads, and then completes a character project based on the character in his or her book. They are so fun! (And make a great display!)




Okay- more about Duke...
Duke is a traveling dog that has always been on his own. He happens upon Darla's Dairy Delight (an ice cream shop), and goes ga-ga over the place. Duke decides this is the place for him and he wants to stay forever. 

Darla, being the Queen of Clean, is not too fond of the idea of a dirty dog in her shop. Darla tries to get Duke to leave, but no such luck.

Duke tries many different tactics to get in that ice cream shop, but Darla stops him every time. 


Darla shooing Duke with a broom...



Duke plotting his next move...


Uh, oh! Duke and Darla tangled up with the Kleen-Rite 3-in-1 Scrubber-Buffer-Waxer machine...


I really wish I could show you the end, but I wouldn't want to ruin it for you- it is too precious.
And your kids will love it!

Here are a few more of my Lisa Campbell Ernst faves...



Since Duke the Dairy Delight Dog is a book about a dog, I couldn't resist the chance to show a picture of my four dogs. Here are my babies!





Be sure to check out some more great books at Mrs. Jump's Class!








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