Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Squirrels Stop--WHY?--It's an instinct!

We have all seen a squirrel run out into the road, stop and hold perfectly still, then turn around.

Squirrel caught in the road

  I think, like this poster, we have wondered, WHY!!!!  It seems so silly, we even say or think  the other S word--STUPID.  Rather than being stupid, it's an instinct.  This inborn behavior is meant to protect the squirrel from its enemies. Squirrels, like other prey, use these behaviors  to protect themselves from predators.  If they hold perfectly still, the predator often moves on.  I find this remarkable, genius even.  Here is an animal, that is always on the go, can hardly ever hold still, and just one moment, it holds perfectly still. Pretty amazing!
Squirrel in the road

I love learning about this animal--incredible!  

Remember to enter my latest giveaway!  

You can win this print, 

This amazing pencil sharpener, 

Add caption
Or a great  book! 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Squirrels, Books, and Bouquet of Pencils means - a Giveaway!

You could win a print, a book,  or a pencil sharpener!

I was thinking about fall and all the wonderful things: pumpkins, apples orchards, Halloween, and then I came across this beautiful painting.  You can buy a print from Ria's Esty store, or perhaps you will be the lucky winner!

Giveaway #1

Red Squirrel

I suddenly remembered that squirrels are an important part of fall.  They are busy gathering nuts, preparing their winter nests, and of course being cute.  Well, that's if you like rodents, which I really do not.

Did you know there are over 200 varieties of squirrels?  The smallest is the African pygmy which is only five inches and the largest is the Indian giant squirrel with is three feet in length.  

African Pygmy Squirrel

Indian Giant Squirrel
So, as we explore squirrels on my blog, it made me think about exploration--which led me to announce the giveaway of this book.

Giveaway #2

Chickadees, Bumbelbeez, Pussy-Willow Trees and Two-And-A-Half, by Jeffrey Politsky, is a children’s book of adventure. It is recommended for ages 4-9.

Children love to explore; it’s intuitive. And they tend to struggle when asked to confine their activities and behaviors to our adult-imposed rules and paths. Chickadees, Bumbelbeez, Pussy-Willow Trees and Two-And-A-Half is a vibrantly and exceptionally well-illustrated adventure book meant to inspire children to follow their urges to explore and to appreciate diversity. The book starts off when “One day a little brown monkey with dazzling olive green eyes, a friendly smile, and a long curly tail asked his father if there was more to the life than just hanging around with other monkeys and eating bananas.” Before long he meets a lovely grey cat and a majestic blue pelican each on their own quests. Together, they explore a foreign island and when their journey takes them into a private swath of land, they befriend a local dog who takes them further than they ever imagined.

Chickadees, Bumbelbeez, Pussy-Willow Trees and Two-And-A-Half emphasizes several significant values, which help us subsist and ultimately thrive: learning through independent exploration, the need for friendship, the importance of respect and tolerance for other cultures, languages, and lifestyle diversity, along with a healthy understanding of the powers of mother nature. 

I loved this book--and its exploration! Then I remembered that last fall, I went to New York City.  It was amazing way to explore the parks and museums. I was reminded about a favorite quote 
from the movie You've Got Mail.  "Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies."

Well you are not going to win a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils as your give away, but you will get the best pencil sharpener!  Last year, I bought a set of three, to give to each of my children's teachers.  They loved them.  If you don't win, you can always buy one at Classroom Friendly Supplies.

Giveaway #3

 Then you will be able to make yourself a bouquet of pencils.  

Now of course you have to enter the giveaway in order to win one of these exciting items.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, September 11, 2015

Communities: A Social Studies Unit

It's been a long time since a created anything to sell on TPT.  I may have just been a little burnt out from working and mothering.  But finally, I finished a unit on communities!  The drive to create this unit was by instigated by my daughter.  I think almost anything I create is to further understanding in my own children!  It actually worked!  She came home from school not understanding anything about the difference between rural, suburban, and urban communities.  After reading the book I wrote, and doing some of the sorts, she understood!  I know the teachers helped as well, but if your kids aren't understanding communities, then this unit may help!
Communities Unit
I think this is by far one of my favorite packets I created!  I hope you it helps you and your students too! You can buy it at my TPT store.  

First in the packet is a non-fiction book.  Really simply written, but I did that deliberately to make the abstract concept of communities concrete.  Here is a sample of some of the pages in the book.

Suburban, Urban, and Rural Communities.

Second, I created a fold-able, where the students can write what the three communities are and have.  Again, this helps to make the abstract idea concrete. I love the clipart I found from Tanya Rae Designs.  Check out her store, it's amazing!

Fold-able for Community Unit

Third, I created three simple activities to compare, sort, and draw the different communities.  

Venn Diagram Communities
Finally, I created a book list of fiction and non-fiction books that can help your students understand this concept. I am sure there are many more, and perhaps this list will help you think of more books. I didn't even include chapter books in my list.  

Here are a few I did include:

Washing, D.C an Urban Community

This of course showcases a city, or urban community.  I like this series because they really introduce many concepts that are important in Social Studies.  

New York, urban, rural, and suburban
 I love this book because it shows the New York that I love.  I love the city, but my home is a small college town surrounded by rural communities.  The dairy farmers of New York are amazing people!

Duck on a Bike, a fun book about the rural community
I have always loved the book, A Duck on a Bike.  So why not share it again with older kids in the context that although fiction, it showcases many aspects of a rural environment: farm animals, farm equipment, and the peace and quiet.  

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

 Yes, I know that this is fantasy, but the family lives in a suburban community  I also love the Alex sevies by Judith Viorst to showcase a suburban community.
The Snowy Day

  Peter lives in a big apartment building in a city,  This book along with Cordory, have their characters living in an urban community.  

Some chapter books: Cricket in Times Square, Strawberry Girl, Frindle just naming one chapter book for each community.  Of course there are many others!  I would love to hear your suggestions!  

So head on over, and buy my latest packet!  I found it helpful for my daughter, so I hope it helps others as well.  

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Using Ten Frames for Addtion

I designed this game when Emily was in first grade, and by golly now that she is beginning third grade, I think she finally understands this strategy.  It was fun to see her just catch on really really fast this time around. The idea of the game, is you roll a ten-sided die, and add the snap cubes to the ten-frame.  Once added, you can visually see over and over again how 9+6=15 is the same as 10+5=15.  And who doesn't love a quick little math game to help solidify a math strategy!  

ten-frame addition strategies.
Anyways, you can grab this little freebie--enjoy!  

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Suzuki Saturday: Learning how to read music

We have started teaching Emily how to read music this summer. She is entering third grade, the grade I started taking piano lessons, so I thought it was about time.  I'm just doing this on my own, with some guidance from her piano teacher.  I decided to use three different primers, and I may add a fourth.  I chose to use three different primers because I have never taught piano, nor am I trained to teach music.  I felt if I used different primers and music books, I wouldn't miss anything!  My sons take traditional method, and their teacher uses two teaching methods and books to teach.  As she is a professional, I didn't feel I was out of place using different authors and publishers to teach music.

Primer #1: Music for Little Mozarts through Alfred's

I really like this series, especially if you are working with really young children.  Each piece has a story and characters who while telling a story, teach music notes and theory.  Emily loves it!  It moves really slowly, so I ended up moving to book three rather quickly.  They also have workbooks, stuffed animals, flashcards, that go with the books.  There are four primer books in this series.  We are currently on book three.  You can see more of the books here.  

Primer #2 Bastien Primer A

This is where my boys started.  Bastien is a well known method and liked by many piano teachers.    I have liked their choice of songs--I have been very pleased, and I think my boys have enjoyed many of the songs from the books. My oldest son especially loved Indian Life.  It has so many wonderful songs!  

Primer #3: Piano Adventures by Faber.  

This book is recommended by Emily's piano teacher because of the repetition.  I like it because it really helps the student learn how to read the music!  

I really didn't think she was catching on to the entire reading music.  She has a great ear, so she often relies on her ear.  But of course, she surprised me.  She started writing her own pieces.  It didn't surprise me that she wrote her own pieces, because she has been doing that forever, it surprised me that she actually wrote the exact notes she was playing.  Low and behold, she was learning how to read the notes!  

We are still working on Book 2 songs in Suzuki!  She is learning G Major, and I am amazed at how well she can play the song!  

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Shapes in Kindergarten

The students had a lot of fun rolling for their robot.  They always love a good dice game--and this one works!

Shape Games
You can find it here on my TPT store.  

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Number of the Day--for Kindergarten!

I started a long-term sub position--so I will try and post things that I will actually use in the classroom!  It is going to be a fun six weeks!  

Number of the Day
You can have this freebie from my teacher-pay-teacher store!  Enjoy!  

Friday, April 3, 2015

Fractions! One Third Anchor Chart

As promised, more anchor charts to come.  This time it is one third!  

One Third Anchor Chart
Fraction Poster for the Classroom
Enjoy!  You can find it on my Google Drive!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


My son came home from school with a very sad face saying he so much homework, and then he announced, April Fools!  He came up with that on the bus!

My April Fools is a gift, and hopefully there will be more!  But for now, it is my 1/2 Anchor chart.

Fraction Anchor Charts

I hope you enjoy it!  You can get it here from my google drive.   I'll make sure the verify, so that the freebe isn't an April Fool's joke!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Paper Bag Princess!

The Paper Bag Princess, by Robert Munsch

I've always loved books about independent women. As a child, I loved The Witch on Blackbird Pond, Anne of Green Gables, and of course Little House on the Prairie.  They had smart, independent women, who luckily found a man who matched.  I didn't find the Paper Bag Princess until I became an adult, but it has an important story to tell.  Sometimes, the men just don't live up to the smart woman.  I truly love Munsch's story telling ability, and this story does not disappoint!

This fairy tale begins with the love story in full force.  Elizabeth, the princess, is engaged to Ronald the prince.  Oh she looks so happy! 

But a dragon destroys everything in the castle and takes Ronald away.  Elizabeth only has a paper bag to cover herself.  

Needless to say, Elizabeth, now the Paper Bag Princess, goes after the dragon.  She is able to trick the dragon and rescue Ronald.  

Here she is about to rescue Ronald once the dragon has fallen asleep.  

Ronald is not very grateful, in fact he is down right upset with her appearance!!  

Thankfully, Elizabeth knows the importance of character, and judges Ronald on his character rather than his looks.  She discards Ronald and goes on her happy way!  

Story Maps and Activities for The Paper Bag Princess

Of course this book deserves writing prompts, story maps, and even more!  There are character poems in the unit, story maps that you can glue to a paper bag, create a story map on a paper bag, and so much more! 

You can find the unit at my TPT store.  Your students will love this book and the activities too!    

Thursday, February 12, 2015

George Washington's Teeth

George Washington's Teeth, by Deborah Chandra & Madeleine Comora
I have been having so much fun reading this book.  Whenever there is any down time, I just pop a book out of my sub bag, and I have the class back in the palm of my hand.    George Washington's Teeth is a book that engages all students!  

The book starts during the American Revolution.  Washington won the war against the British, but lost the war on his teeth.  He kept losing tooth after tooth during the war.  I love how the authors chose to write the book using poetry.  It was hard for me to chose a section to share because they are all wonderful!  But here is one taking place during the winter of Valley Forge.

Snow fell on George at Valley Forge,
His blue coat hung in tatters.
By then he'd only seven teeth
That couldn't even chatter!  

Yet bravely George led forth his men,
Coat and pigtail flying.
While cannons boomed he held his jaw
I love how the authors chose to write the
And groaned, "I think I'm dying!"  

They are truly gifted writers because is it fun, engaging, and doesn't seemed forced.  Unlike a certain Katie Couric children's book...  

The rest of the book is filled smart language, ingenious form, and a wonderful countdown of teeth until, yes, George had none.  I read this to fifth and first graders, and they equally enjoyed the book!  

The end of the book includes a timeline of important events in Washington's life.  It includes complaints and requests from Washington's diaries and letters.  It is really interesting! 

I highly recommend this book!  

Just in case you wanted to see some of his teeth--they have them on display in Mount Vernon.  

George Washington's Teeth

Washington's teeth were carved from human teeth, hippo tusks, pig's teeth, and embedded in lead.
Here are some examples of his false teeth.

Gilbert Stuart, an artist, has George stuff his mouth and cheeks with cotton balls for his portrait.    

Monday, January 26, 2015

Mom Made Us Write This in The Summer: Giveaway!!

I always wanted to be a twin, and write a book about being a twin.  Now that I have lived vicariously through Ali Maier's book Mom Made Us Write This in the Summer, I want the those things even more.    This is a clever book is a nice addition to diary/journal genre.  Ali Maier has found a niche that will have us wanting more journal entries by Max and Maggie.

First, I like the format.  It is set up as a journal, but not just any old journal, because it is one journal written by two creative children.  They are great story tellers, illustrators, and commentators.  Their journal entries focus on a topic and each twin writes and illustrates one entry on the same topic.  They take turns choosing the topic, and of course going first.  Not only to they write their own entry, but they become commentators on each other's entries as well.  It becomes a "he said, she said" journal.

Second, I love the illustrations.  The illustrations for the entry on babysitting demonstrates the clever use of illustrations to enhance the writing.  There are very funny illustrations of doctors with giant needles, scared twins, and of course some of their summer escapades.  They make to journal writing fun!  

Third, I liked this book because my fourth grader and sixth grader had to read the book at the same time.  I left it on the living room chair, and before I knew it there were two additional bookmarks in the book.  When two boys catch onto a book that quickly, you know it is a keeper.  

Fourth, I saw that this book could be used as a mentor text.  I would love to have students write on the same topic in the same journal.  What a great way to foster communication.  Or as Max and Maggie's mother believes that anything can be solved through reading and writing.  However,  I do not believe it is an actual representation of how a fourth grade journal writing. There are no spelling errors, the entries are very long, and it is too polished to be a journal entry.  (Not that I want to read a book that isn't polished!)  This might be a mentor text of how we could "publish" our journal entries as we go through the process of writing.

Finally, I like that these children are really good children.  They are respectful of their parents.  Even though they don't want to write in the journal, and they count down every entry, they still do it, and learn from it. They also truly love each other although in a brotherly-sisterly sort of way.  It also gives a view of what it is like to be a twin.  Unlike other books, these are good kids, not perfect, but good.  It is a nice addition to "children" created literature that is in print.  

I highly recommend this book to others.  I think I would give it a 4 out of 5 stars, but my boys would each give it a 5 out of 5.  So in this house hold it averages to a 4.7 stars.  As a way to show my appreciation and celebrate my almost 500 likes on Facebook, I will give away one of these books!

To enter, simply comment on this page.  I'll be in touch with the winner!