Book Talk Tuesday: Reading, and Science and Magic! Oh my! Zoey and Sassafras: Dragons and Marshmallows.

Hello again!  Welcome to another Book Talk Tuesday!
Today I am going to be talking about a fun new book called: Zoey and Sassafras: Dragons and Marshmallows written by Asia Citro, illustrated by Marion Lindsey!


Wow!  Is this a fun book!  It has everything: Magic, Science, adventure, experiments, and more!
This is an adorable story of a little girl who discovers that her mom has been helping magical creatures since she was little.  Mom needs to go on a business trip and leaves Zoey in charge to help any creatures that may show up needing help!  With the help of her "thinking googles", her cat Sassafras, some science experiments, and some research,  Zoey helps nurse a sick dragon back to health!  This book is a perfect jump start for a unit about reptiles, science experiments (it explains the scientific method in context), or carnivores, herbivores, and omnivores. 


Zoey and Sassafras would make a great read aloud, or for a book club for your higher 2nd grade readers or your third grade graders.

I have created a fun Story Map freebie for your students to fill out while you are reading it aloud or to stay on track while they are reading it on their own for a book club:


If you don't own this little gem you can get it through this affiliate link:  (affiliate links provided to fund future Book Talk Tuesday book purchases!) I make a small commission at no extra cost to you!  Thanks for your support!


Thanks so much for stopping by! I hope to see you next week!






Let Them Do it! Fostering Independence in Your Classroom!

We all want our students to be independent.  We want them to figure out a solution to the problem, to get their work done, to make sure that they put their things away, and not lose their homework.  How do you foster independence in the classroom?


So, I figured out the other day that I have been teaching for 17 years.  Sheesh, that seems like such a long time, but it has really flown by!
One of the things that I have always had some trouble with is being a control freak, perfectionist,  little reluctant to relinquish control over everything in my classroom.  I always thought that everything had to be perfect all the time.
My students would ask me if they could help all the time!  I always said, "Don't worry about it! Mrs. Gard has got it!" Then I would wonder why they didn't do anything on their own.
Being a teacher is exhausting.  There is so much to do in one day I can't even start to make a list.  I am not complaining, as this is what I have signed up for, but there is only so much one person (even a very determined person) can do in one day.
So, instead of tearing my hair out, I set out to figure out what I could let the kiddos do without it driving me crazy, and that would help them have more ownership of our classroom and become more independent!
So, here is where I have relinquished some control.

Everyday I have a "Star Student".  I have  a system where a "Star Student" sticker moves down the clips.  I do go in number order, so the kiddos know who is going to be next.  The only exception is birthdays.  If it is your birthday, you get to be the Star Student for the day.  I do half birthdays for those kiddos with summer birthdays.  If you birthday is on a Saturday, we celebrate the Friday before, if your birthday is on a Sunday, then we celebrate on the Monday after.  If I have 2 kiddos with the same birthday, we go in ABC order. It works for us!


My Star Student it my go to helper for the day. They pass out papers, distribute mail,  run errands for the day, and take care of the board at the end of the day (erase the board, move the Star Student tag, change the agenda, move the partners tags).  They often have a friend help them, but they choose, it is all up to them to get it done! I don't have a job chart, the Star Student does it all for the day!
My kiddos also know that at the end of the day that pencils need sharpening.  Someone ALWAYS takes care of that job.  I don't assign it, someone just does it.  If they don't, the kiddos sharpen 2 pencils in the morning for their own use.  It is part of our "Morning Business" routine.  If the pencils don't get sharpened, they have to write in crayon.  No self-respecting 2nd grader wants to write in crayon.  It always gets done.

My kiddos LOVE to write on the whiteboards.  They will do it any chance they get, so why not make it productive?
My Star Student also writes the morning message in the morning.  Then, during our morning meeting we correct any mistakes.  They have gotten really good at writing the morning message!  Rarely do we have many mistakes anymore!  My kiddos also put up reminder notes, messages etc...They know the routine!  If I need to fix anything I do.  This has also helped with the "What special do we have? and When is lunch? questions.  They know when those things happen because they help with the agenda and the message!

 


This also gives my students authentic reasons to be writing!  Win-Win!
At the end of the day, there is always a mess on the floor.  One way that I have found really get the floor clean is by having a piece of "Magic Trash".  
The kiddos pick up every scrap of trash while the "Help" song is on.  It is Help by the Beatles.
Then, they all come to the rug when the song is over to show me their trash.

Whoever finds the "Magic Trash" gets $5 in mini-economy money (it is a kind of classroom economy thing).  Of course they don't know what the Magic Trash is, so they pick up EVERYTHING!  In the past I have given small prizes or privilege coupons as well.  Let me tell you, my floors are spotless at the end of the day!
All of these little tweaks have made a big difference in how my classroom runs.  All of the things they do, I don't have to do.
It does take some time at the beginning of the school year to teach them how to do these things, but it pays off in spades!
What kinds of things do you have the kiddos do in your classroom?
Thanks so much for stopping by!  :)





Book Talk Tuesday: Ideas are All Around by Philip C. Stead

It's Book Talk Tuesday!
My favorite day of the week!
Today I want to talk to you about:
Book Talk Tuesday: Ideas Are All Around by Philip C. Stead with a freebie!

Ideas are All Around by Philip C. Stead!

My kiddos loved this book!  They thought that the combination of illustrations and photographs was really neat!  They loved the cloud pics!
The main character is an author who has to write a story, but is out of ideas, so he goes for a walk with his dog Wednesday.  They have some fun adventures, conversations, and thoughts on their walk through their neighborhood.
It is a great book for talking about where ideas for stories come from.  It will be sure to spark some ideas in your kiddos!
My kiddos were especially taken with the blue blob illustration on the cover!
We decided that some "squish" painting was in order!
I got some blue paint and some construction paper, and we were ready to go!
The kiddos folded their papers in half, put some paint on the papers, then closed them and squished the paint around!  We got some lovely pictures!  This was also a good way to talk to the kiddos about symmetry!
Once they were dry, we added some details, then the kiddos wrote about their pictures!  A good time was had by all!  My kiddos were so creative with their pictures!
Book Talk Tuesday: Ideas Are All Around by Philip C. Stead with a freebie!
A unicorn!

Book Talk Tuesday: Ideas Are All Around by Philip C. Stead with a freebie!
A mouse!

Book Talk Tuesday: Ideas Are All Around by Philip C. Stead with a freebie!
A butterfly!

I have also made a little freebie, that would be perfect for a little homework assignment.  It involves the kiddos going for a walk!  You could also do this at school in the hallways or on the playground!
More writing fun! Click on the picture below to get your freebie!
Book Talk Tuesday: Ideas Are All Around by Philip C. Stead with a freebie!

If you don't have this book and would like to get a copy for yourself, you can find it here using this affiliate link (affiliate links provided to fund future Book Talk Tuesday book purchases!) I make a small commission at no extra cost to you!  Thanks for your support!



Thanks so much for stopping by!  See you next week!  :)



"Fun"draising Idea!

Hello all!
If your school is anything like ours, you are always looking for ways to raise a little money to help the kiddos out with something or another.
Our school is no exception!
One of our brilliant teachers came up with a way to make a little extra money that the kiddos LOVE!

"Fun"draising ideas!  Raise a little money the fun way!

We have a team of kiddos at our school who are currently raising funds for St. Baldrick's.  They are shaving their heads to raise money to help defeat childhood cancer. 
Here is what we are doing to help them meet their goal.  Each Friday until the event we are having an "activity" day.
The kiddos pay a dollar for each activity they would like to participate it. Of course they get a little discount if they would like to do all of the activities.  This is easy to tailor for different grade levels to do different things.
Here is an example of what we did in second grade:


The other grades did similar items, but some did: Bring in your favorite clear beverage, Wear a Cape (Superhero Style!), Bring a pillow for your seat,  Read a book to the class, etc...

These days are always a bit chaotic to be honest, but the kiddos love them and we raise a good amount of money each time we do!

Another thing we do (all with the principals permission of course), is one of MY personal favorites!
So, for example, we as teachers can pay $20.00 to the fundraiser, and we get to wear JEANS for the month of March (3 weeks as we have Spring Break the last week).  We also did a jeans month in December.
The teachers LOVE it, we are more comfortable during the day which makes us happier, so the kids love it, and we make a little money for a great cause!
WIN-WIN-WIN!
Thanks so much for stopping by!
Click on the picture above for a free "generic" fundraising form with the options above.
Hope you have some fun raising some "Fun"ds!



Once Upon an Alphabet! Another Book Talk Tuesday (with a freebie of course!)

Welcome back to another Book Talk Tuesday!
This week, I am talking about an Alphabet book!
Once Upon an Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers!
This book is a fun way to get your kiddo writing their own alphabet stories!
Once Upon an ALphabet by Oliver Jeffers!  Another Book Talk Tuesday with a Writing Freebie!

I LOVE this book!  It has a short story for each letter of the alphabet!
They are fun, silly, and sure to spark the interest of your students!

I have to say, I am so excited about finding book trailers on You Tube!  Isn't that awesome?
Book trailers! (Maybe I am seriously behind the times, but I love them!)

As soon as I read this book, I wanted to sit down and write some alphabet stories of my own!
My kiddos did too!
This book is too long to read in one reading, but we read it over several days.  The kiddos often wanted to reread the stories of the letters that begin their names.
We really got a kick out of this book.
So, my little freebie is a form for your kiddo to write their own Alphabet Stories!
They choose a letter, usually the first letter of their first name, and then make a list of words that begin with that letter.  Then, they use the words in the list they made in their story!

Once Upon an ALphabet by Oliver Jeffers!  Another Book Talk Tuesday with a Writing Freebie!


If you don't have this book and would like to get a copy for yourself, you can find it here using this affiliate link (affiliate links provided to fund future Book Talk Tuesday book purchases!) I make a small commission at no extra cost to you!  Thanks for your support!


I hope your kiddos enjoy this book as much as mine did!
Leave me a comment about a book you would like to see me talk about!  If I use your book idea, I will send you a product from my store!


Sight Word Fun with Sight Word Mazes!

Ah, sight words.  They need to be taught, and retaught, then taught again.  It is so well worth the time when your kiddos are reading fluently, but not much fun to teach all the time.  I have a fun thing to share about something new I started in my classroom the other day. So far, so good!

Practicing sight words using sight word mazes!  These are a fun way for your kiddos to practice their sight words!

So, this year we decided to forgo weekly spelling tests and focus more on Word Work.  We have five sight words a week, then focus on a chunk or chunks of those words for word work for the week.
This week we had ou and ow words.
Everyday during morning meeting we do a fun movement activity to go with our sight words.  I have these cards from Dr. Jean I found a million years ago!  
Then, we write them in our word collectors and highlight the chunks.
We use them in sentences, build them with cut out letters, etc.
Well, after half a year the routine was getting a little boring well, routine!
So, I made this fun little product to spice things up a bit!
Practicing sight words using sight word mazes!  These are a fun way for your kiddos to practice their sight words!

I thought that the kiddos would get a kick out of something new. 
Wow!
I had no idea how excited they would be!
Practicing sight words using sight word mazes!  These are a fun way for your kiddos to practice their sight words!

I made them into mini-books, explained the directions and let them go to town!
I went walking around the room listening and I heard things like:
"This is so cool!"
"I just beat the w!"
"I just beat the T!  It was super easy!"
"I'm on the s in outside!"
"How do you beat the O?"
Evidently the kiddos found the O the toughest!
I made copies for my teammates as well, and a little boy from my neighbors class came over specially to thank me for making them he liked them that much!  That made my day!

Each page has the word done with letters that have mazes in them!  Thank you to Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah Designs!  
Each page also has lines for the kiddos to write a sentence using the word.
Of course we know that they kiddos need to be able to read the words in context, so each mini-book has a passage with the words  in it that the kiddos have to find and color code (they even thought that part was fun!)
Practicing sight words using sight word mazes!  These are a fun way for your kiddos to practice their sight words!

The sight words that I used in this product are the Grade Two Dolch Words.  
I am working on making them for the 1st grade Dolch Words and 3rd grade as well.
If you have another list of sight words that you would like to see me make, drop me a note in the comments!  I would love to hear what you think!
If you are interested in getting this product for yourself, you can click on any of the pictures, or find it HERE!

If you would like to try them with your class before you purchase them, you can find the mini-book in the pictures HERE for free!  
Practicing sight words using sight word mazes! Fun Freebie! These are a fun way for your kiddos to practice their sight words!

Thanks so much for stopping by!
:)





Book Talk Tuesday: Making Inferences with Du Iz Tak by Carson Ellis

Here I am again!  Another Book Talk Tuesday!
We are working on Making Inferences this week in second grade.  Inferring can be tough for second graders, so we practice a lot!
This week we are Making Inferences with Carson Ellis'
Du Iz Tak!

Making Inferences with Du Iz Tak by Carson Ellis with a comic book freebie!

This beautifully illustrated book is sure to be LOVED by your class.
A series of bugs (speaking bug no less) find a sprout and are curious to see what it is all about.
They decide to put it to use, but have to contend with a spider, a bird, and a flower.  All the while there is a caterpillar who is going through metamorphosis and some helpful neighbors who watch with interest the goings on of the young insects!


Here is fun Youtube video that shows some of the pages of the book:

This book is perfect for making inferences (unless of course you or your students are fluent in bug).  There are plenty of clues in the pictures and text for your students to infer what the bugs are saying and doing.

Of course, I have a freebie for you!
This page has a reminder of how you make an inference, plus a few recreated scenes from the book so your kiddos can infer what the bugs are saying! Click on the picture to get your copy!

Making Inferences with Du Iz Tak by Carson Ellis with a comic book freebie!

If you don't have this book and would like to get a copy for yourself, you can find it here using this affiliate link (affiliate links provided to fund future Book Talk Tuesday book purchases!) I make a small commission at no extra cost to you!  Thanks for your support!


Thanks so much for stopping by!
Is there a book you would like for me to review and make a freebie for?  Make a comment and let me know!




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