December Daily Deals!

Hello again!  So nice to see you again!  I am teaming up with some other lovely teacher authors to bring you:

Just search the hashtags on Tpt to take advantage of some amazing deals!

So, without further ado, here is what I am offering for #Merry Monday:

I am offering 2 products for $1 for #MERRYMONDAY


This is one of my newest products.  Writing Warm-ups are quick fun writing activities to get your students' creative juices flowing! Writing Logs are quick daily writing exercises to be done at home. These can be used as morning work, a quick transition time filler, or right before you start Writer's Workshop or your writing block. The warm-ups/logs are a great way to supplement your writing curriculum as well. You will find warm-ups to reinforce verbs, commas in a series, characters, editing and revising, descriptions, leads, voice, opinion, synonyms, ideas, and handwriting!


My Pick a Prompts are the best selling products in my store!
These engaging, visual writing prompts with choice will get even your most reluctant writer writing! These fun writing prompts are no prep, just print and go. They are at the top of the paper that your students will do their writing on. They are also useful for ELL as they offer a lot of writing support! These are perfect for Writer's Workshop, Work on Writing, Writing Centers, Substitute Teachers and Fast Finishers. These Pick A Prompts are a great way to let the kiddos choose what they want to write about, while also helping to spark their imaginations! They are perfect for those "I don't know what to write about!" kiddos. Students choose a character, a setting, and a “plot”. The beauty of this is that they can use one from each category, all of them from each category or any combination in between! They are also great for Work on Writing during your Daily 5 time, writing centers, fast finishers, writing homework, or leaving for a substitute teacher! Here is my blog post about them: Rethinking Writing Prompts.
They are normally $5.00, so $1 is a steal!

Check back tomorrow for my Tuesday Deals and My Weekly Series: Book Talk Tuesday!

See you then!  

Engaging Descriptive Writing with Beanie Babies and a Technology Piece! Oh! and a little giveaway!

I really enjoy teaching descriptive writing to my second graders! I make it highly engaging with Secret Snacks, Beanie babies, and technology!

As a team we start by each class choosing a "mystery" snack.  I do a whole mini-lesson about using our senses to write a description.  Then, they get their paper with the graphic organizer, a snack, and go back to their seats to write.  Of course, they also get to eat their snack!  The next step is to come back together to write a detailed description of the snack that we shared.  After we have our description written, we then share with the other classes and figure out what they had as well.  Talk about engaging!  They kiddos love it and they love keeping our snack a secret until it is all done!

*Can you guess what we ate?

The next day we talk again about what goes into a good description, then I tell them that they are going to get a secret beanie baby to write about!  They love hiding their beanie baby.  I give them another piece of paper with the graphic organizer and a beanie baby.  I tell them if someone sees that it is okay because when I read their descriptions I won't say who wrote them.  They go and write their first drafts!


At the end of Writer's Workshop I collect all of their rough drafts.
During our next Writer's Workshop I line up all of the beanie babies and we talk about them all. Then, I start reading all of their descriptions.  As you can guess we have a few that we can't figure out from the description.  So, we talk about them all again and I add somethings to the whiteboard to help them write better descriptions.

They get together with their partner and they revise their first drafts to make them better.  I collect them again, and then I am the editor.  I make mark their papers with the mistakes that they need to fix.
Now, for the publishing stage of their descriptions we use SeeSaw.  If you have not heard of SeeSaw yet, you really need to check it out.  It is a free, easy to use, on-line digital learning portfolio.  It is kind of like a classroom Facebook feed.  My kiddos are NUTS about it!  (I am not affiliated with them in any way, we just LOVE using it!)

So, for the publishing part of this project the kiddos work with their partners to check out the corrections that they need to make on their papers.  Then, they are instructed to go into SeeSaw, take a picture of their beanie baby, then use the caption function to type their description.  Before they can submit it, they have to have their partner check their post for any mistakes and fix them.  The greatest part about SeeSaw is that nothing gets publicly posted until I approve it!       
I got some great descriptions from my kiddos!  They were highly motivated and engaged throughout the whole week!  They did a great job!
Monday we will be going through each other's posts and making comments and asking questions.  They really enjoy reading what their friends comment.  Their comments cannot be seen until the teacher approves them, so they know that only positive comments will be posted.  Authentic audience?  Check!

If you are interested in the Descriptive Writing paper that we used, you can find it HERE as part of a pack of writing paper with different built in Graphic Organizers!

Don't forget that tomorrow and Tuesday is the Cyber sale at Tpt!  You can get up to 28% off all of your purchases with the code CYBER2016!

*By the way, if you guessed Oreos you are correct!  Good for you!  :)

Thanks for hanging in there with me!  I am giving away a $10 Gift Card to TpT over on Facebook! You can find it here:

I am not the only one giving away giftcards either!  Search #jollytpt on FB to find other giveaways, just in time for the sale!  Good luck!

The Care and Feeding of My Classroom Library Part 1 : Organization!

I have been a teacher now for 17 years.  My biggest passion as a teacher is teaching children how to read and love books.  When you walk into my classroom, the first thing that you notice (besides the bright orange couch) is my book collection.   
I have a problem passion for collecting books for my classroom library!

So, just for fun, a rough estimate mind you, I probably have over 2,000 books in my little classroom library.  
I believe the best way to get children interested in reading is to give them choice in what they read.  Of course, that means that you have to have a lot of different kinds of books for the children to choose from!  Challenge accepted!

How do I organize all those books you may ask?
It was a daunting task at first, but now it is part of my routine.

My books are organized into three main sections.  Two of those sections are fiction (they wouldn't all fit in the same section) and a non-fiction section.

This is the main section of my fiction books.  They are all in blue bins are for picture books.  The yellow bins have chapter books.

I couldn't get them into all one picture.  This is a continuation of the pic above.

 This is the largest part of my chapter books.  It is on the other side of the room to make book shopping a little less congested.

This is my Non-Fiction  section. It is in the front of my classroom and is in green bins.

Each bin in my room has a label with the category of book and a number (non-fiction books have letters instead of numbers):

This is one of my "Creatures" boxes.  You can see the name of the category and the number.

I had to turn some of my bins sideways to fit them all in, so I labeled the side of the bin with the number.  

All of the books that belong in these bins as a sticker with the corresponding number on the back.

I have a special themed bookshelf in my classroom as well.  It is affectionately known as "Bluey":

I change the books in Bluey at least monthly.  The pic above shows Bluey all ready for Talk Like a Pirate Day.  If you looked at Bluey today you would see that he is full of Thanksgiving books!  The kiddos are always welcome to choose books from Bluey as well.  Bluey gives me the opportunity to showcase books that are timely, but also those books that the kiddos might not take to at first glance.  They know that I handpicked the books that go in Bluey, so they are special!

Our favorite book bin in the room though is this one:

Each month when I get new books from Scholastic or other sources, they go in this box.  They are not labeled yet with a number, so the kiddos know they go back in this box.  They cannot keep them in their book boxes.  They can borrow the one that they want before they go to read, and put it back here when they are done.  If they can't read it all in one sitting, they mark it with a sticky note.  The rule is that you can't move anyone else's sticky note.  You can read more about this bin HERE!

My books are also labeled with my name and their A.R. level (if they have one).  More to come in how I label my books in my next post about
The Care and Feeding of my Classroom Library!

Book Talk Tuesday: We Found a Hat.

Today's Book Talk Tuesday is about this great little book by Jon Klassen called We Found a Hat.  He is also know for two other "hat" books:  I Want My Hat Back and This is Not My Hat.
I love them all!

This book is a lovely tribute to friendship in three parts.  "We" are two turtles who come upon a hat.  It looks good on both of them, but there are two turtles and only one hat!  They decide that they will leave the hat and try to forget about it and move on with their lives.  This is a bit easier said than done.
This book would be great for a conversation about problem solving.  How could these friends solve their problem?  What would you do?
I have made a fun little freebie to go along with this book.  The kiddos work with a friend to create a hat that they will give to their friend.  This would be a great activity for getting to know a partner as they are making a hat not for themselves, but for their partner.  They will need to talk about what kind of hat their partner would like.  What colors?  Any designs?
Then, they have to cut their hats out, and they can be attached to a sentence strip, stapled and worn!  Who doesn't love a hat?  You can find the freebie here:

If you don't have this book already, you can find it through this affiliate link:
If you would like to get your own copy you can click the link and go straight to Amazon.  If you make a purchase from Amazon I will receive a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you for your support!

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Book Talk Tuesday: The Purple Kangaroo and a Freebie too!

One of my favorite things to teach my kiddos about reading is Making Mental Images or Visualizing.  In my opinion that is what makes reading so great!  YOU get to create the pictures in your head!  So, this summer we went to the public library a a class and the children's librarian read the perfect Mentor Text to teach Visualization

The narrator of this book is a monkey who claims he can read your mind!  The book starts with the monkey asking the reader to imagine the most spectacular thing in history!
Then, in his search for his best friend Ernesto, he describe the most wonderful, active, exciting purple kangaroo!  If that wasn't what you were thinking about to begin with, by the end of the book, that is the only thing you are thinking of!
My kiddos exploded into  applause when the librarian finished! 
This is the perfect story to teach the kiddos making Mental Images (Visualization).  They can help but make pictures in their minds of the amazing purple kangaroo described in this book!
I have made a little freebie to go with this gem! Before you even introduce this book,  I would start by prompting the kiddos to imagine (and draw) the most spectacular thing that they can think of!
Then, I would have them draw what they are thinking about after reading the story!

If you don't have the book and would like to get your own, you can find it here (this is an affiliate link):

The link above is an Amazon Affiliate link.  If you would like to get your own copy you can click the link and go straight to Amazon.  If you make a purchase from Amazon I will receive a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you for your support!

Now!  The Visualizing Freebie!

I have included 2 pages.  One for doing a before reading sketch of what they are thinking and an after reading sketch. The other page is for  just an after reading sketch of their visualization.  You can find them here:

What are your favorite Mentor Texts for teaching Making Mental Images?

Rethinking Writing Prompts! 2 Ways to Spice up your Writing Block or Writing Center!

Hello all!  Thank you so much for stopping by!  
Today I want you to stop for a moment and re imagine Writing Prompts.
Usually when I think of writing prompts, I think of a narrow, specific task that the students need to address. 
What if I told you that Writing Prompts could be fun, scaffolded, and engaging?  What if I even told you that your kiddos would ask for them during Writer's Workshop or Writing Centers (even your most reluctant writers)?

Let me introduce: Pick a Prompts and Story Starter Cootie Catchers!

Super Silly Pick a Prompt

First up: Pick a Prompts!

These are writing prompts that give the kiddos choice over what elements they want to write about.  These are perfect for substitute teachers, fast finishers, or the "I don't know what to write about " gang.  They have pictures with short, easy to read captions that scaffold your students writing!  These are great for ELL students as well!
Super Silly Pick a Prompt 

Your students choose one "prompt" from each section, then use them to write their story!

When I use them in my classroom we have a discussion before we write.  We read all of the choices and if there is something that they don't understand we clarify.  
I make a list of "key words" on my whiteboard easel, then let the kiddos turn and talk to  a partner about their plans for writing.

Then, the kiddos go back to their spots, circle their choices and write, write, write!
Sometime the kiddos make some modifications to help the prompt better fit their needs:
Super Silly Pick a Prompt
I also often challenge the students to use all of the elements!  My kiddos LOVE these and often ask for them.

If you would like to give these a try, I have a freebie in my store HERE!

If you like these prompts, but are trying to go paperless, I have several digital versions in my store as well!  They work with Google Drive and Microsoft One Drive!  You can find them here:

Up Next:  Story Starter Cootie Catchers

I have to start with: My kiddos LOVE Cootie Catchers (or fortune tellers if you prefer). You would think that they were somehow magical that is how much my kiddos love them!
What a better way to get them writing but to use a cootie catcher for a writing prompt!
These are similar to the Pick a Prompts as it has choices for Settings, Characters, and Plots.
Throw in that they are on a cootie catcher and it is magical!

Let me first say that folding Cootie Catchers with second graders was a bit of a challenge the first time we did it.  Yes, I almost tore all of my hair out, but I had a student who knew how to fold them on her own, so she was a great big help.  Let me also say, it was worth it!  The kiddos were enamored with them all day!  They asked to take them home as well!
These would be great for putting in your Writing Center for Writer's Workshop, fast finishers, or as holiday gifts (yes, they really love them that much!)

First, we folded them.  It was painful the first time we did this, the second time went much smoother.  I only had to refold a few of them!  

Then, we take some time to explore them with our partners and tell stories!

Then, we go back to our writing spots and using the special paper, get drawing and writing!

My heavens!  These kiddos wrote, and wrote, and wrote some more!  They actually groaned when I told them that Writer's Workshop was over!  Even my kiddos who do everything they can to avoid writing!
If you would like to try these, I have a freebie (it is Halloween themed, but it would be fun to try out!) HERE

Now in my room when I say "Today we will be writing to a prompt" the kiddos all cheer!
Of course we still do some of the old, test style ones as well...
but you can probably guess which ones they prefer!

If you are looking to spice up your writing block, you can find these products by clicking on the pictures, or here in my TpT store:

These are the links to the bundle, but you can buy them separately as well!
Thanks so much for stopping by my little corner of cyber space!

Book Talk Tuesday: How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin?

Hello all!  If you are like me, I love doing fun Fall and Halloween activities this time of year!  Of course, these activities also need to have educational value!  This week's Book Talk Tuesday is all about Pumpkins!  
Book Talk Tuesday: How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin?

Every year around this time we do "Pumpkin Math".  It is a great morning of Pumpkin investigating.
We start by doing estimates with our pumpkins:  How much does it weight?  What is its circumference?  How long is the pumpkin's stem?  How many seeds do you think are inside?
Then, we start working on answering those questions. 

The book How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin by Margaret McNamara goes along perfectly with our day!  In this story Mr. Tiffin (the teacher)  shows the class that good things come in small packages and helps the shortest kid in the class feel good about his size at the same time.
The students in the story count pumpkin seeds from three different sized pumpkins to see which one holds the most!

If you don't have the book and would like to get your own, you can find it here (this is an affiliate link):

The link above is an Amazon Affiliate link.  If you would like to get your own copy you can click the link and go straight to Amazon.  If you make a purchase from Amazon I will receive a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you for your support!

Now, what you have been waiting for: The Pumpkin Math Freebie!

This is the sheet that we use for our investigations!  Enjoy!

Click on either picture to get your freebie!
If you like what you see here on Tuesdays, please consider signing up for my newsletter (even more fun freebies).  Or, if you would like to be part of the conversation about what you would like to see on my blog, you can join me in my Facebook Group: Primary Planet!
Thanks again for stopping by!


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