Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Home for Christmas, by Jan Brett--a Nonfiction Companion

Home for Christmas, by Jan Brett

Jan Brett's book, Christmas at Home, is written in Sweden where Rollo, the troll,  decides to leave home so he doesn't have to do his chores.  He travels from animal to animal and enjoys his freedom, until he finally realizes he misses his family.  He returns home just in time for Christmas.  All the animals in the story are native to Sweden--so I decided to make a project out of writing a nonfiction companion book to Christmas at Home.  

The very first animal Rollo intrudes upon is the grey owl.  The flat face of the owl acts as a large speaker collecting sounds and transferring the sounds to the ears.  The owls can even hear animal underneath the snow!  This video from National Geographic is a perfect example of their snow plunging to find their prey.  

Rollo being pushed out of the nest.  

Swedish Brown Bear.  
When it is time for the owlets to fly, Rollo is kicked out of the nest.  He must find another home. He runs into a bear family, and quickly acclimates himself.  I really like this website that gives a great background to bears!
Although Rollo enjoys being with the bears, he soon realizes he can't keep up.  Then when he is attacked by bees, he comes upon an Otter family. Here he loves playing with the otters.  They swim, slide, and jump in the river.  

Rollo playing with the otters.

Otters in the snow

Rollo leaves the otter family when the water turns cold.  I found this fun youtube video of river otters in Yellowstone.  Not Sweden, but it still shows how much the otters love the cold icy weather! 

So Rollo moves onto live with the lynx.  
Rollo has a great time playing with the lynx in the snow, until he notices that the lynx seems a little hungry, and looks at Rollo as his next meal rather than a playmate.  Rollo quickly moves on and tries to find another home.  
Eurasian lynx in the snow

Eurasian lynx running in the snow.

The above photographs were taken in Sweden!  You can find a beautiful write up of the photographer's day here.  

Did you know that the Eurasian lynx is the largest lynx of its species.  It's no wonder Rollo left as soon as he was in danger.  Wikipedia has a nice article of the lynx here.   Another resource on the web is Sweden's travel web site.  I loved reading about the different animals of Sweden.  You can even plan vacations where you try and see the different animal of the north!   
After Rollo escapes the lynx, he finds a home among the moose.  
Rollo and the moose
While he is with the moose, he starts to miss home.  He makes it just in time for Christmas. 
A moose in Sweden

So as part of our Winter Vacation, we are going to write a nonfiction companion book for Jan Brett's Home for Christmas.  

Our first step is research!  I made these fun graphic organizers for each animal.  

Graphic Organizer for nonfiction companion book to Home for Christmas

I can't wait to learn more about these amazing creatures!  
If you want your own graphic organizers.  You can get them from my google drive.  

Friday, November 15, 2013

Domino Doubles

Because my daughter is learning her addition and subtraction facts--there will be many, many math games and activities!  Here is one with dominoes.  I love doubles and the doubles plus one strategy!  So enjoy!

Domino Doubles and free printable/worksheet for doubles fact and doubles plus one using dominoes.
You can find it on my google drive!  

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Doubles Facts

I've been working with my first grader on her addition facts.  We have been having so much fun!  Take a spider--four legs on each side--4+4=8.  Now the spider grows an extra leg--we have a doubles plus one fact.  4+5=9.  We laugh and giggle--but she is learning her facts.  I made this worksheet for her to visualize doubles facts!  I hope you enjoy it too!
Doubles Facts Free Printable

You can download it from my google drive!  

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Fall Math Multiplication and Division Games! And October Currently

Fall began over a wee ago, and here are my latest games.  The cute spiders came from Barb at Grade Onederful: 

Multiplication and Division Math Games
You can find them at my TPT store!  

Now onto October's currently!  


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins!  

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose four
1 cup oat flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin spice
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup pure pumpkin
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup oil
1 egg slightly beaten
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Mix ingredients and bake at 350 22-25 minutes and enjoy!!!  

Enjoy other tricks and treats and link up!  Thank you Farley for always hosting this fun linky!    

Thursday, September 19, 2013

One, by Kathryn Otoshi Monarch Nominee

One, by Kathryn Otoshi

I love this book!  It is quite different from The Dot, I was a bit disappointed.  It didn't fit my expectations. But after seeing this video, I fell in love!  This is a great book to use for inferences.  I would love to use it during bully prevention week and talk about how we could be the One to make a difference!  

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Pencil Sharpener: Back to School Giveaway

PINK, PINK, PINK!!!  IT NOW COMES IN PINK!!  Enter to win the best classroom, home, office, or traveling pencil sharpener ever!    It will always leave your pencils sharp!  

Please check out these amazing sharpeners at  If you have one, you will want another.  If you have two, I'm sure three is not too many.  If you really want a chance to win, please enter the giveaway!  It is so easy!  I might even enter myself!!  My the force be with you, no I mean me.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 16, 2013

Math Monday! I have who has?

I've been terrible about posting--and do I miss it!  I've been having so much fun subbing.  I really love it!  Teaching is such a wonderful profession--and I love that I've been able to teach such wonderful kids.  But I need to post more--and try and make some money through my store.  I am going to try and start Math Monday!

I have.  Who has?  A math game! 
You can find it at my store.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Sheila Rae, the Brave

I'm working on a packet of Kevin Henkes books.  But I thought I would share this as a freebie and a little preview of the packet.  I love how the mouse turned out!  Enjoy!  
Sheila Rae, the Brave  Story Map
You can find it on my google drive.  

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Roll and Cover: Pete the Cat

Pete the Cat: math printable

Isn't this fun!  I love it!  We even used buttons to cover the numbers.  Emily has been having a hard time in math, so we do a little math every day when she comes home from school.  She loves Pete!  So I quickly made up the easy roll and cover game.  I hope all of you will also enjoy it! You can get it from my google drive.  I'm off on a subbing job today!  I am teaching music.  I am so excited!   

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Book Whisperer--and a poem

I recently read the Book Whisperer this summer.  I loved the book, and I would love to teach literature as a reader's workshop!  She totally ditched the idea of book reports.  I think this poem might explain:

Image of a hand holding a piece of paper with a poem
Book Report, poem by Carol Diggory Shields

You can find this wonderful poem here!  Instead she would have the children write book reviews.  More on that soon!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Outstanding Teachers

An outstanding teacher loves teaching.  In that the teacher is always looking for ways to improve.  They reflect on their teaching and build upon the moments that went well and ask themselves what they could do to make things better.  They are always striving to increase their knowledge and craft.  They improve both their knowledge of teaching as well as the subject.  In addition, they are always teaching.  They use mundane tasks to teach, and continually use think-alouds as a teaching method. 

An outstanding teacher loves and knows the students.  They have high expectations for every student.  They scaffold and coach the students to reach these expectations.  They teach the students to self regulate and monitor their own thinking and learning.  Above all, they use the students’ interest as a springboard for further learning and growth. 

 An outstanding teacher maximizes their time.  They give students many opportunities to read, have excellent classroom management.  They recognize the importance of creating life-long learners.  They use that as their motivating factor in teaching.  

What do you think makes an outstanding teacher?

Monday, July 29, 2013

French Fry Containers

Two weeks ago I posted these fun anchor charts for long division.  You can find them here.

But alas, Target doesn't carry the cool cheeseburger containers anymore.  So I made my own.  You can just print the containers on color card stock and voila you have a very cool container.  You can find it from my google drive.  

Find other great ideas and room decor at Monday Made It!  

You can also find great freebies at Manic Monday!  

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Suzuki Saturday: the shoulders

Shoulders are very important as a part of good piano posture.  First, proper shoulder position helps the pianist have more freedom to move your arms.  They should be relaxed and open which allows you to breathe more easily.  Emily's piano teacher calls this the ready position.  You check your posture, hand position, shoulder position, arm position, feet position.  Learning to have good posture and getting into posture, helps a pianist to relax, breathe, and think before they play their piece.  I've seen a pianist take a small break between movements and rest, breathe, and get into ready position. They were then able to play a very difficult piece because they were relaxed and ready!   

Piano Posture

Joshua is showing proper shoulder alignment.  His shoulders are down and moved back.  He looks relaxed and his front line is open.   His shoulders are straight and tall, but not scrunched up and he is not hunched over.  

He might be playing a song from The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Here he is as a hunchback playing. You can already see how this posture doesn't allow for the same freedom of movement.  His lung capacity is greatly diminished!  

Here is his intense move.  This can cause extra tension and poor breathing!  This is how I play--which causes even more mistakes then if I just relaxed my shoulders, and had proper posture.

Here are some ways that can help you get in the right position:  

Move your shoulders up and down to your ears.

Draw circles with your shoulders.  This helps the shoulders relax.  It also helps the student find the range of motion.  

You can also try and touch the shoulder blades together.  This opens the front line and helps the shoulder to be open and relaxed.

A great way to think about it: straight lines:  The shoulders should be a straight line.  I hope this helps. Next week--its going to be about the elbows!!  

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Dollar Days #6

Dollar Days are here!  I want to share another great way I've found to use the french fry containers from Target.  Sadly, they are no longer on sale, but maybe they will return!  I really love this book:

I never really understood our spelling system.  I always received 100% on all my spelling test, mostly because I studied.  But for some reason all that studying for spelling tests didn't transfer into my daily writing.  I believed if I had studied spelling using the approach from this book, my spelling would have greatly improved!  They use words sorts, word families, and word studies.  When I was first introduced to this book, and its methods,  a light bulb went off in my head and I started to understand our spelling system!  I try to incorporate this method, with my own kids.  When my son brings home his spelling list, I look up the word families in this book and type up the words and have him sort them every night.  It really seemed to help his spelling in his writing.  But think how powerful this would be if he did it at home and school!  He has wonderful teachers, and I know they use direct instruction and show the word families, but I really, really wish they would use the system.  Students would be placed in different spelling groups based on an spelling assessment.  It is just really, really cool!  

So this is what I made from his first spelling list of fourth grade!  

It's a sort for the long e sound, spelling the words with an ea or an ee.  A simple sort--my very bright first grader did it.  But she loves sorting things so it really fits her brain!  They are supposed to look like french fries.  

This is how it looks once sorted!  I love it!  

I also wanted to share some items I found from Jill at her Little Red Wagon's Store. 

She has a wonderful Bee theme:  This item is free.  She also has bee counters as incentives for 1.00!  

You can find this beauty at her store!    

Now for the rules!

Most important:  please include the link to!  

Share items that you buy!!!
Share items that you make from dollar items!!!
Share anything that you want to sell from your store that is in the dollar range (up to $2 is fine.  I know you make no money from dollar items at your store!)  
Share anything that you love for only a dollar!  Yes, my favorite dollar item is Diet Coke from McDonald's.  

Thank you everyone who has linked up in the past!  

So grab my button, and find some great ideas and finds from dollar days!   

A Teacher without a Class

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Perfect Square

Perfect Square, one of the nominees for 2014 Monarch Award!
Perfect Square, by Michael Hall

I love creativity and thinking outside the box.  I really love seeing children's creativity form and develop!  This book is thinking about the box, and what you can create with that box.  Well not really a box, a square.  The author/illustrator changes the square by cutting, ripping drawing added features into flowers, mountains, streams, bridges and fountains.  

Illustration from Perfect Square

Can you tell that this flower garden was made out of a square.  A great way to think about the square its shape and what you can create from the square!  With the river, I can see the edges of the square.  

Illustration from Perfect Square
Materials needed for the project:  
A square for each child.
Writing Materials
Directions: each child must use every piece from its square to create a new item.  Nothing can be thrown out.  You will be amazed at their creativity!  I know I was blown away!  

My son Harrison made a map.  We had just visited an arboretum.  His map shows all the trees.  I like how the paths are made by the background color.  

My son Joshua can't just make a 2-D picture--he folds and creates the picture to be a volcano fighting sub.  So this boat can travel through lava!  

My daughter made a boat in a storm.  Can you see the lightning that hit the boat?  
We had a great time, and this piece of creativity took very little time.  
To see all the other wonderful illustrations by Michael Hall, you can view the video!  

Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday Made-It: Birthday Style

We have been doing birthdays, cub scout day camp, and many other activities!  I just wanted to share our outdoor setting for my daughter's birthday.  I know it's not the traditional Monday Made It--but it was fun!

Kids Wash

Original sprinkler and kids wash with our double long slip n slide.  Loads of fun!  We also had two pools set up in the yard and sponge balls!  

To find other great ideas for the classroom--which I usually share--go to 4th Grade Frolics and look at all the great ideas out there!  

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Dollar Days #5

Yesterday was a fun filled day!  Starting at 9am I had a job interview!!!  I really liked the principal, and the school had a nice atmosphere.  I really like when you walk into a school and can just feel it is a good place, and the school had that type of feeling.  Then my daughter had piano lessons.  She is doing really well.  We are working on Book 2 in Suzuki.  She just started playing Bach in G Major.  It's hard to believe that she is only six.  Her talent is amazing!  Then we went swimming, and had movie night.  Needless to say, the blog came in dead last among my list of priorities.  So I'm bringing dollar days on Thursday, instead of Wednesday.  Thank you everyone for linking up last week!  I love seeing all the items you sell, find, buy, or make with dollar items.  
 Last week Jivey linked up all her wonderful finds from Target Dollar Spot!  
She has an amazing blog!  I keep going back again and again just for quick answers to my tech questions!  It's so easy to find with a cool name like Jivey!  

Photo Courtesy of Jivey!  

She found these and wondered what she was going to do with them.  I did the same thing.  I bought them knowing they would be useful, then thought of this great idea!   

Anchor Chart for Long Division

Does McDonald's serve cheeseburgers? 

Please share your great Dollar Finds!  Share anything you love, buy, sell, make, or find for a dollar!  I can't wait to see everything you find!

A Teacher without a Class