Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Happy Easter & Spring Break!

Etc and I want to wish all of our readers a fantastic week and happy holidays over the weekend! We will be enjoying spring break and the holidays with our families but will return on Tuesday, April 2nd with some spring related ideas for your classroom and more.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Jelly Bean Glyph

The Jelly Bean Glyph is a great activity to use with your students this spring.  Your students will learn what a glyph is, make their own and analyze class data in this fun activity. They will begin by learning what a glyph is and how to use one to convey and analyze data. They will create one of their very own. Then they will look at their classmates' glyphs and analyze the data using fractions, percentages, and graphs (bar graphs and pie charts). They will have fun doing it. And, when they are all done, the materials can be turned into a colorful class bulletin board! Note: This is the advanced Snowman Glyph activity for 5-8 graders. (For the 2-4 grade version go to my store and check out the other Jelly Bean Glyph activity without the math.)

Want to know what some of my buyers think of it? One person wrote...

Another wrote...

This is fun get-to-know you activity which also assesses maths

For just $3, this is a great cross curricular activity.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Fabulous Friday Freebies: Free Things for Spring!

With spring starting, here are some freebies that involve the outdoors and the new season. There is something for every grade level! Here the weather is not very spring-like yet but these ideas warm me up.

This blog post features 20 creative ideas of learning activities you can do with sidewalk chalk. There are a variety of subject area ideas and going outdoors is a great change of pace for your students when the weather is nice.

The National Wildlife Federation has a huge list of science and outdoors related lesson plans for teachers. They are listed by theme and each one states a grade level. Each link goes directly to easy to use PDF files. There are multiple resources for each grade level. has a list of fun lesson ideas you can do during a nature or outdoors walk around your school or on your school grounds. Most activities are suited for grades K-3.

Spring reminds me of new growth and seedlings. Find a huge list of resources to teach your students about plants at The Teacher's Guide website.

Check out the Journal Buddies website for a list of more than 50 spring themed journal prompts designed for elementary and middle school level students.

Do you have a free spring resource? Share your thoughts below!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Websites to Reference When Teaching English

I have a pinterest board dedicated to useful teaching websites.  Here is a list of my favorite ones to use with my English classes...

This blog was actually created for couples planning their wedding.  But, I pinned it because it has addresses of a bunch of well known people.  I thought it might be fun to reference and  use to write letters to famous people with your students.  The blog has addresses for the queen, JK Rowling and many more.

Poem Hunter will provide you with the poems from any number of poets.  I use it all the time.  Whenever I need to find a poem it is the first place I look.  I has short bios on a ton of well known poets along with online texts of their writings.  It is very handy. is a website that allows students to make cooler versions of power points.  It takes them a class period or so to play around with it and figure out how to use all of the tools, but once they know how, they love it.  They can add videos, pictures, objects, colors, themes and pretty much everything else that they can do with powerpoint.  But, the visual effects are unique and fun to play around with.  They can save them online and share them with anyone who has an email address.  It is definitely worth checking out.

6 + 1 Writing Traits  is a well known writing teaching and assessment framework.  The title refers to the traits in writing that we want all of our students to develop over time.  The common language is useful in aligning teachers across contents and grade levels to provide united expectations of students.

Writing Fix and English Companion are websites that have a ton of resources for teaching writing and reading.  They include strategies, graphic organizers, etc.  They have a wealth of information and are worth perusing.

Finally, Grammar Bytes  has a wealth of grammar activities to help reinforce grammar rules with yours students.  The sentences are fun and contemporary.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Fun Spring Math & Literacy Centers Available!

Spring centers for math, literacy, and art are available! They are sold either as a jumbo 99 page pack or separately so you can pick and choose what you need. These centers are recommended for grades 3-5.

The Spring Literacy Centers include 6 centers:

1. Prefix Match - Set of 8 prefix baskets to match with 36 words on eggs, an answer sheet, blank template, keys, and anchor page.
2. Spring Writing Prompts - Four spring themed writing prompts with writing paper and anchor page.
3. Recipe Chronology - Anchor page with recipe that contains chronology questions and answer key.
4. Spring Chicken Synonym Matching Center - Nine pairs of chick synonym matches, blank chick templates, answer page, and answer key.
5. Spring Bunny Antonym Matching Center - Nine pairs of bunny antonym matches, blank bunny templates, answer page, and answer key.
6. Spring Storm Suffix Center - Six storm suffixes, 20 matching raindrop words, blank templates, answer page, and answer key.

Spring Math Centers include 10 centers you can use in your classroom. Math worksheets focus on skills such as multiplication, division, rounding, simple decimals, money, addition, subtraction, and place value.


This Spring Fast Finishers Art Packet includes 22 printable drawing based activities that are perfect for those fast/early finishers. 

Check out the previews of each product to see more information!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Fabulous Friday Freebies: Fun Easter Ideas

Looking for fun seasonal science experiments?  Check out Education World's  Easter themed science experiments.  There are a range of ideas appropriate for all grade levels.  Teach your students about air pressure with the egg in the bottle trick.  Teach them about solutions and osmosis using eggs and a few simple ingredients.  It's all here.

One of the most memorable science experiments my chemistry teacher did my senior year of high school was to blow up a peep in a vacuum.  This short You Tube video will show you how.  Save your students from the sugar high and show them something to do with peeps that is much more fun than eating them.

Want to give the students something to take home?  Want to bring a bit of culture into your Spanish class at Easter time?  Make cascarones or confetti eggs.  This is a Mexican tradition.  I have done this with young kids and they think it is tons of fun to empty, clean, decorate and fill the eggs with confetti. And that is just the fun they have before they go around breaking them over each other's heads!!

A German (well, not just German, but I learned it from a German) tradition is creating blown eggs.  Again, this is a fun take home project.  The difference is that this take home project is actually meant to be preserved.  Create an Easter tree in the classroom and then let the kids take their eggs home right before Easter as gifts for parents and grandparents.  I've done this with young kid as well, and it was also a big hit.  

I hope this provides you with a few fun ideas for students of any age.  Happy Spring!  It may not feel like it yet, but it is right around the corner!  

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Compilation of Helpful Teacher Articles & Resources

Here is a compilation of our teacher articles & resources we have compiled over the past year on our blog! They are compiled by subject area to make it easy to find the resources you need.

Technology Tips

Ways to Use Technology in the Classroom
Great Websites for Teachers to Bookmark
More Great Websites for Teachers to Bookmark
Photo Editing Project Idea
Favorite Pinterest Finds
Publishing Students' Writing
Creative Based Websites for Teachers

Interactive Learning Tips

Tips on Using Games in Class
Using Movement in the Classroom
Hands on Learning for All Subject Areas
Cross Curricular Art Lesson Ideas
Art Across the Curriculum
Ways to Give in Your Classroom
Math & 3-D Snowflake Tutorial
Sensory Stimulation Through Art

Getting To Know Your Students

Making Time to See Your Students
Giving Students Choices
Social/Emotional Goals in the Classroom

Just for Teachers

Having Down Days in Class
Getting Support in Your School
Good Classroom Investments
Summer School Teaching Tips
Earning Extra Money
Teacher Reading Suggestions
Vacationing With Students in Mind
Organizing Your Classroom with Cheap Containers
Parent Teacher Conference Tips
Building Community & Family Interactions
Bouncing Back After a Bad Day

Teaching Tips, Etc...

Having a Plan for Downtime
The Importance of Having Fun in Class
Making Your Classroom 'Cool'
Using Laughter in Your Classroom
How Parents Can Help Their Students
The Importance of Using Exemplars
Checks for Understanding
Creating Culture & Purpose in Your Classroom
Helping Students that Struggle with Vocabulary
Encouraging Gratitude in Your Classroom
Teaching Students to Self Assess
Teaching Text Structure
Giving Students Second Chances
Helping Older Students Who Struggle to Comprehend


First Day of Class Ideas
Earth Day Year Round in Your Classroom
How to Wrap Up the End of the Year
Dressing Up for Halloween
Celebrating the Holidays in Your Classroom

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Eyes on the Prize Viewing Guide

Eyes on the Prize is a seminal documentary on the Civil Rights Movement.  It is broken into 14 parts, each approximately one hour in length.  So often today students feel so out of touch with that era, and have a difficult time conceptualizing what went on then, how it must have felt, etc.  This documentary does an excellent job of bringing that piece of important history back to life.

I have created viewing guides to go with the first and second parts, with more to come within the month.  The first part is about the murder of Emmett Till and the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  The second part is about the efforts to integrate schools in Arkansas, Alabama and Mississippi.  

For just $1, you can purchase a viewing guide and answer key to the section you want to show.  Check it out!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Fabulous Freebies: Educational Freebies for St. Patrick's Day!

Your luck might've grown this St. Patrick's Day with the use of these free lessons and activities for your classroom! I hope you find some useful selections for your classroom here.

If you like your students to experiment, try this water density experiment described on the We Made That blog. It looks like an easy and fun way to create a rainbow in your classroom. has a huge list of St. Patty's Day freebies for teachers and students. Included is a list with free, downloadable PowerPoints and links to a great hodgepodge of ideas and more for a variety of age levels. Be aware that the St. Patrick's Day worksheets are linked to paid, not free items.

Check out this free "I have, who has" game template. It is blank so you can add your own vocabulary or subject area and adjust it to your students' difficulty level. It is nicely designed and easy to download.

For more than 250 ideas, check out this St. Patrick's Day pin board on Pinterest. It contains a ton of cute ideas, classroom crafts, lessons, activities and more. Some lessons may cost money but most ideas on this board are freebies.

Kinder Art has a collection of fun, artistic ideas for St. Patrick's Day for your imaginative and creative students. The art ideas go from simple suggestions such as a heart shaped shamrock drawing tutorial to a Matisse inspired shamrock project. has a great selection of experiments you can conduct for St. Patrick's Day in your classroom including creating green fire or turning pennies into gold coins. Kinesthetic learners would love these hands on activities!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Helping Older Students Who Struggle to Comprehend

Every year students come to us who are performing below grade level.  We are charged with the task of catching them up; and, the farther behind they are the more ground we are expected to cover.  The stakes are high, and I’m not even talking about the relationship between job security and test sores.  Multiple sources from The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander to the new movie The House I Live In illuminate the link between test scores and incarceration.  So, yes the stakes are very high—especially for our students.  I have spent years working with students who are academically behind.  The needs I saw motivated me to go for special training in literacy. 

So, what have I learned?  I’m not going to offer you a magic wand, but here are a few strategies that I rely on:

  1.  Put high interest literature in their hands.  For high school students reading at upper elementary or middle school levels I like the Bluford series.  It is a series of chapter books about a bunch of students all attending them same school.  They sell for just $1.  Also, I've found male students seem to prefer comedy, horror and nonfiction.  They rush to grab up the newspapers and sports magazines.  They need to be reading a lot and the easiest way to do that is to give them something to read that interests them.
  2.  Teach word parts.  Students who have phonics skills, but poor vocabulary will struggle to read longer, unfamiliar words.  Teaching them word parts gives them confidence when approaching grade level vocabulary.  They learn patterns in the language and are able to define more words.
  3.  Don’t embarrass them by making them read aloud a text that they haven’t rehearsed.  The best way to get them to read is to have them read something that they have written themselves.  That way they will be totally familiar with the vocabulary because it is their own.  This gives them success and improves their much needed self esteem when it comes to reading.
  4.  Model, model, model.  Students who struggle do not know what good readers do (visualize, ask questions, predict, summarize, make inferences, etc.).  They need to see and hear what that looks like.  This includes reading aloud to them and modeling your thinking as you read.
  5.  Give them something to do when they read.  Many students have a hard time staying focused. Give them a reading they can mark up and a guide for what to mark up.  This will help them keep their mind and body (…well, hands at least) engaged.  If you can't do this, give them a graphic organizer.
  6. Don't give them a text to read independently if they can't read it independently.  This is huge.  Watch out for this pitfall.
  7. Teach them the parts of a textbook and have them practice navigating it for information.
  8. Let them work in groups to read and discuss.  The strategies I like the most are the jigsaw and reciprocal teaching.  Social engagement helps keep them focused.  Hearing explanations from a peer instead of a teacher also makes concepts more accessible to them.
Again, I don't have all the answers.  Far from it.  But, if this is helpful and you have any other questions or suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments section.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Fabulous Friday Freebies--March is Women's History Month

March is Women's History Month.  To kick it off, here are some fabulous Friday freebies!

To find more information about the month in kid friendly terms, check out Time for Kids.  There are several articles about its history, powerful women, women's suffrage, etc.

Teachers Pay Teachers has Women's History Month freebies.  One that I found that engages students in an interactive activity that is especially good for ESL students is Women in History Information Gap Activity.

Education World is a fantastic site with as many lesson plans idea for the month as any site I looked at.  There are online activities, writing lessons, resources and much more.  

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