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August 30, 2011

Oh, the things you can do

Today I walked to my alma mater to get some training on resumes, cover letters, and interviewing. (Yes parking is that bad! But I also got to walk to school with my hubby.) I got exercise! I also gained three new blisters! One on each pinky toe, and the last on my heel. Think I need to invest in some comfier dress shoes. Also think that I should be exercising a bit more. (I promise this random story has something to do with my weekly book talk.)

The book I wanted to share with you today is about a topic I introduce at the start of school, Health. How many teachers have young kids who don't know how to wash their hands? This book deals explains in a cute rhyming pattern with characters the students already know and love.

I'm not sure how many of you have seen the AMAZING Cat in the Hat's Learning Library, but I absolutely love the ones I own and wish I had money to buy more of them. I have recently been tempted by the sets at Costco. I must resist. I must.

By Tish Rabe Illustrated by Aristides Ruiz

I enjoy reading this book because it mentions important health ideas in simple terms. It teaches children the importance of listening to their body, covering their sneezes, washing their hands, and getting enough rest. If you have the chance, I would definitely check it out.

August 26, 2011


Life has been crazy for my little family. We moved, we lost an iPhone, got in an accident, and have started to unpack all our stuff. I promise to be back in the near future. Until then know that I am missing you all.

August 22, 2011

Two for one Tuesday

Tuesdays are usually reserved for a Book Talk but today I just could not resist. I am sharing two books because they are both so stinking cute. Prepare yourself for Book Talks. Well worth the time. I promise!

Book One
 I Wanna Iguana written by Karen Kaufman Orloff
Illustrated by David Catrow

If you haven't heard of this book before you will be so glad you are reading this. My school librarian showed it to me last year and my second graders loved it. She is such an amazing lady! All schools need great librarians. Anyways, back to the book. Look at these adorable illustrations. Priceless.

The story is told through letters exchanged between a child who wants a pet iguana and his mother. The exchanges are heartfelt and witty, and demonstrate proper letter form. Your children will laugh at Alex's problem solving skills and his mother's replies.

If I read this book again I would have each student choose an animal they would like for a pet, research it, and then write two letters. I made a simple worksheet to use, click here to download it for yourself.

Book Two
I Wanna New Room written by Karen Kaufman Orloff
Illustrated by David Catrow

I had no idea that there was another book. I did a little happy dance in the library as I picked it up. I don't think anyone noticed. It's perfectly normal to get excited about great books right?  I have to admit I love this one as much as I Wanna Iguana. Alex is suddenly forced to share a room with his baby brother. See how he tries to overcome this obstacle through letters to his father. I just love the ending. So cute!

A perfect book to review letter writing or persuasive writing. Discuss which letters seem to make the most difference. How does Alex's reasoning change over the course of the book?

August 18, 2011

Pinterest and Starfall

Round 2 of Technology Thursday

It's the new craze that is sweeping the nation, Pinterest!

I thought I was in trouble when I got addicted to blogs, add Pinterest and I'm sunk. Pinterest is a great site that bookmarks your favorite ideas, recipes, and pictures. It is super easy and very addictive. Basically you add a small button to your bookmark bar and any time you come across something cool on the internet you use that tool to pin it to your boards. 

Can you see my priorities here?
So much easier to remember something you saw when it is bookmarked in a cute searchable picture form. You can also get ideas from other peoples boards and find more great blogs to follow. Boards are organized by subject, so you can follow all of a person's boards or just the ones you like. 

You can follow me here!
My goal this week is to make this:

I figured most of you already know about Pinterest so I thought I would share another free website.

I ran into when I was volunteering in a Kindergarten class. 
I love it! Not just because it is free, but because it has children practice important reading skills in a fun way.

Starfall has five big sections.

1. The ABC's
Clicking leads you to these awesome alphabet blocks.

One of my favorite parts? A button to teach your child the alphabet in ASL in the bottom left hand corner. 
 Once your student clicks on a letter a short video with examples words and sounds pops up.

The shiny stars show your students where to click. :)

2. Learn to Read
Clicking here leads to easy games, and books to help practice simple skills.

There are 15 sets to complete. Once your child has mastered those you move on to part 3. 

3. It's Fun to Read
There are a ton of fun interactive stories for your child to listen and read.

4. I'm Reading goes even further and introduced children to the topic of genres.
Your child picks a genre, and then a story. They can have someone read the story to them, read it themselves, or pick individual words to be read to them, all while learning great literature. Have I told you how much I love this site yet?

Almost there, only one more section to read.
5. Holidays and Special Events
My favorite? The calendar game. It works on reading a calendar and how to use one. Super cute.

Do you use Starfall or Pinterest at home or school? Which parts are your favorite? Need an invite to Pinterest? Just leave me your e-mail and I will send you one.

August 17, 2011

I make a difference!

I found this video on Mrs. Walker's blog First Grade Pandamonium and had to share. It makes me smile and it gives me hope. 

August 16, 2011

Fourth Grade Rats

Fourth Grade Rats
 by Jerry Spinelli

Let me start off with saying how much I love Spinelli books. A lot. I loved Maniac Magee when I was little. Stargirl changed how I viewed the world. And Love, Stargirl made me bawl. So it is hard for me to admit I did not love this story. I read it because it was recommended, and Spinelli wrote it. I would still keep it in my library, but I probably would not read this book aloud to my class.

Fourth grade is a tough transition for Suds. Kids at school sing "First grade babies! Second grade cats! Third grade angels! Fourth grade .... Rats!" His best friend Joey, says becoming a rat is the first step to becoming a man. Suds is not sure he wants to be a rat. He likes his lunch box with elephants on it and he doesn't want to give up his stuffed animal, Winky. Follow Suds as he begins to learn that being a grown-up is not just about eating gross food, caring about just yourself, or being "tough."

August 15, 2011

A Child's Interests

My thoughts and impression of Light Up Your Child's Mind by Joseph Renzulli, PhD, and Sally Reis, PhD and Andrea Thompson

I started reading this book after stumbling upon the word, Interest-A-lyzer, in Donalyn Miller's The Book Whisperer. For more about what I learned form Miller click HERE.

This book is quite different than the ones I have been reading this summer. I wonder why it is that people with a PhD feel they have to be grandiloquent? I would still read their book if they used easier terms. Wouldn't you? That aside, I learned and thought a lot while reading this book.

I relearned that I need to focus on how each child learns best and work on including different options in my classroom. There are so many factors to take into account. Who they work with, the sound level, the lighting level, temperature, setting, time of day, level of mobility, and even the amount of snacks.

I plan to post more on what I learned in the new future as soon as my project is done. :) I'm excited to share.

Tacky the Penguin, a freebie, and a winner!

It's official. It's been proofed. It's been polished. And it is now up for grabs. 
My first unit is up on TpT and I could not be prouder. 
Over 30 pages of great resources to celebrate Tacky the Penguin. Interested? Click Here. Since most of you are probably like me, and have a hard time forking out $4.00 I decided to share this cute worksheet for free. You can download it as the preview in my TpT Store.

I promised to share the whole thing with one lucky winner.

Ta Da!

Congratulations Marisa! Send me your e-mail as soon as you can.

August 12, 2011

Magazine Deal

I love deals on magazines and I found a good one to share with all my teacher friends. $12 for a whole year of National Geographic for Kids! Hurry you only have a couple of days before this deal is up. I love using these as fast finishers and science connections.This company also gives 5% to the school of your choice. Not a lot, but it adds up. :) And if you happen to convince three people to get the same deal it is free. :D
Click here to get a set for your classroom.
I am not being paid to share this deal in any way. I just happen to enjoy the magazine and thought you might be interested as well. If some of you happen to purchase it, well it that works for me.

August 11, 2011

Technology Thursday

Be consistent!  That is one thing I heard over and over again in my educational training.  I am pleased on how consistent I have been with my Book Talk Tuesdays. I haven't missed a Tuesday since I started and I usually have 1-2 posts written in advance. Book Talk Tuesdays also give me the opportunity to read and to share something with you. I hope you are enjoying them, because I plan to continue. If you have any books you recommend I would love to hear about them. 

Since Book Talk Tuesdays are going so well, I'm contemplating starting Technology Thursday. I think if I do, I will start by showcasing websites that I have discovered and loved and move on to different things when I feel competent enough. I hope that you find these posts interesting and helpful.

For those of you who don't know, I started my teaching experience in Utah. So it is only fair I tell you all about If you have not heard of UEN, this post might be one of the best things you read all day. UEN stands for the Utah Education Network. 

Highlights of UEN

State standards, being transitioned to the new Common Core this year.  - Get answers to your questions.

Free lesson plans and ideas sorted by subject and grade level.

Interactive Games K-2, 3-6, 7-12. Good for a class website, fun practice at home, or reward.

Games are organized by subject. My favorites? My World section has lots of science and social studies games. Brain Games challenge memory and develop creative solution skills. 

I loved that the topics have subtopics to make navigating the site easier. For example, if you click on technology you can choose between Hardware & Software, Keyboarding, or Internet Safety.  There are lots of great resources to tie into a unit, set up for student exploration, or play as a class.

Lots of great ideas for all ages!

I hope this helps. Do you think you might use it in your classroom? Do you think posts like these are worth writing? Let me know and drop me a line.

PS Don't forget to enter my giveaway!

August 9, 2011

Three Tales of My Father's Dragon

Three Tales of My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett

When I was little my parents used to take us camping over the weekend. We would all snuggle down in our sleeping bags and dad would read the most delightful stories. Each night we would beg him to go on.  This book was written by a woman between jobs and illustrated by her stepmother. When My Father's Dragon first appeared in 1948, it became a Newberry Honor Book.  Look at these adorable illustrations!


My Father's Dragon tells the story of Elmer Elevator. He is a young boy who longs to fly. One day, much to his mother's dismay, Elmer brings home a stray cat. The cat tells Elmer of a wild island with an imprisoned dragon. Elmer packs his knapsack and runs away. I love how the simple things in his knapsack are used to solve the most interesting dilemas. If you had to survive in a fierce jungle what kinds of things would you want in your knapsack? Here is a simple worksheet you can use with your class.

Elmer and the Dragon tells the story of Elmer and Boris as they begin their way home from Wild Island. On their way home they end up on the Island of the Canaries where they learn about curiosity and how dangerous it can be.

The Dragons of Blueland
Boris begins his long trip home, only to discover when he arrives that his family is trapped by a group of hunters. Desperate, he asks Elmer for his help. See how they solve this problem and learn more about Boris the dragon's family.

PS Don't forget to enter my giveaway! Sorry. It is now closed.

August 5, 2011


I have a confession. I don't really like celebrating my birthday. I think my husband is trying to condition me to love it though. Yesterday he gave me an early birthday present. My birthday is not for several weeks, but he has a hard time keeping a secret and he was really excited to give it to me.

I am now the proud owner of an ipod touch. It is cute and shiny and I am learning how to use it. I know a lot of you lovely ladies have iphones and ipads, and I have a question for you. What are your favorite apps? Do you use any apps in your classroom? Have you bought any you regretted? Let me know and leave me some great comments. Thanks!

Don't forget to enter my giveaway!

August 3, 2011

Yay! Time to celebrate!

I know that 50+ people following you doesn't sound like a lot (especially to people who are not addicted to blogging like I am). But I can not tell you how happy I am. :D Thank you for your support and friendship. 

In order to celebrate with all my new friends I decided to host a giveaway! I've been hinting on and off that I have been in the process of creating my first unit ever.  It is done!  I've done all that I can do and I can't wait to give it away! 

What can you win?
I've made a cute unit all about Helen Lester's Tacky. It has activities for three different books. 

(I started off with a stack of 10 books and decided 3 was better. Though another Tacky unit might be in the future.)

This unit has more than 30 pages of worksheets, lesson plans, vocabulary cards, and games. 

What do you have to do to win?
You have four chances!

Leave a new comment after you do each of the following:
1. Follow my blog
2. Put me in your blog roll or place my button somewhere on your blog
3. Blog about this contest - please leave a link in the comment
4. Tell me what kinds of activities you look for in items you purchase. 
Please be specific as I am will try to include ideas in future products.

You have until Monday, August 15th at noon to leave a comment!
Take luck!

August 2, 2011

Currently I am

Oh' Boy Fourth Grade is having a linky party on what everyone is currently doing. 

While I know this breaks the suggested rule of only blogging once a day, I couldn't help it. I'm addicted. 

 If you want the actual links for the blogs, click on the picture and it will take you to a PDF with the links embedded. 

The Clutter-Free Classroom is amazing. She is helping me deep clean all my supplies. Which is important because at the end of the year I filled up my entire car with school stuff. Lady Bug Teacher Files is helping with my blog makeover. She has idiot proof tutorials. I know. I've used them. ;) And who can resist a website about cupcakes and sweet treats? I can't.

Feel free to join!

The Fabled Fourth Graders of Aesop Elementary School

The Fabled Fourth Graders of Aesop Elementary School by Candace Fleming

I enjoyed this book and think it would be a great read-a-loud book or could be used in a center near the end of a fable unit for upper grades. Why might it work at a center you ask? Great question! ;) Each chapter of the book ends with a moral. Students can research the original moral and then compare and contrast it with the chapter they just read or they can write their own story for the same moral. If you are interested I have made a free lesson map and venn diagram that you could use just for this book. I just wish I had cuter clipart. (I finally last week and caved and spent $8 on clipart, but none of it matches this topic. Sorry.)

The book tells the tale of a class of children that terrorizes their school. That is, until they meet their new fourth grade teacher, Mr. Jupiter. Mr. Jupiter is out of this world. He has traveled the world, and has a unique way of dealing with "hard children." This book will make you giggle out loud and leave you guessing on which moral the author is trying to share with you next. As you read pay particular attention to the names of the adults. You' ll be glad you did.

Next on the list? A book that my dad read to his four children on camping trips. When I saw it on the shelf at the library I just knew I needed to re-read it. I read all three books in one, but you can read any of the three. Read them all in Three Tales of My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett or read them individually My Father's Dragon, Elmer and the Dragon, The Dragon's of Blueland.