Sunday, June 30, 2013

Back to School Mentor Text Linky

We are linking up with Collaboration Cuties for their Sunday mentor text link up.  The topic this week is texts for back to school, and we have some great things to share...

The 3 Be's (Courtney)

In my classroom, students learn the first few days of school what I expect out of them throughout the school year.  I do this using the 3 "Be's" (this goes with my Bee themed classroom as well:). The 3 "Be's" are; Be Ready, Be Responsible, and Be Respectful.  When introducing each "Be" I read a text and then we discuss further what the expectation means while completing an anchor chart.

Be Ready

The students learn that one of the expectations about being ready is having ears ready to listen. This book is great because it's about a bunny that has big, beautiful ears, but he can't quite understand what people are saying to him because he doesn't listen very we.....this then gets him into trouble! I love all of Helen Lester's books and find that just about all of them have a great lesson.

Be Responsible

This fun book tells about Officer Buckle who tries his best to teach students how to be more responsible and safe but isn't very effective in his presentations until he receives his helper, Gloria the dog. The students begin to listen more intently to Officer Buckle's messages because Gloria is entertaining them behind his back. They realize together they are an effective team and everyone benefits from their working together.

Be Respectful

I always save the Be Respectful expectation til the end. This is the hardest for my second graders to really grasp, but I love using Miss Nelson is Missing because at the beginning of the story when the students are awful to Miss Nelson, we stop and talk about how this is disrespectful and ways they can respect Miss Nelson. I also always tell the kids that Miss Swamp may come to our classroom if ever needed:)

A Kid Favorite--One of Mine, too! (Sarah)

Every year, since I started teaching almost 20 years ago, I have read Charlie the Caterpillar, written by Dom Deluise, to my students at the beginning of the year.  I remember stumbling upon this picture book when it was first published in 1993.  I was taken first by the "warm and fuzzy" illustrations and immediately fell in love with the story.  Not to mention, having seen the author in movies growing up, I can hear his "voice" every time I read it aloud.  

Synopsis: Charlie, a young caterpillar, tries to find some friends who will play with him. Unfortunately, all he encounters are other characters who judge him based on his looks. They refuse to let him join and tell him it is because he is ugly. Charlie becomes sad and decides to nap alone in his warm cocoon. He is not aware that he will be undergoing an important change. Later, Charlie wakes up to a wonderful surprise - he is now a butterfly! Only now that he is beautiful, do the other characters want to be his friend. Remembering how he felt when others made fun of him and left him out, Charlie befriends a sad caterpillar and teaches her about the true meaning of friendship.

There are several ways I use the book at the beginning of the school year.  

First, it provides for great lessons about respect, the inclusion of others, and being proud of who you are.  After reading the story aloud, the students immediately talk about how mean the supporting characters are to Charlie and how he begins to feel ugly. Their discussions are truly heartfelt as they are able to imagine how they would feel if they were Charlie.  We create an anchor chart with a list of all of the lessons we learn from Charlie's experiences.  

Second, we revisit the story when learning about characters and how what they do and say tell us about them (character traits/inference).  I pull excerpts from the text and project them in SmartNotebook, and we create a T-chart that lists Charlie's words and actions.  We then talk about what character traits can be used to describe Charlie.

Third, I pull out the book again and share my experiences of seeing the author on TV and in movies, and how when I read the story it is as if I can "hear" the author's voice.  I can "hear" his expression and enthusiasm, and "feel" his personality come through in the words he has written on the page.  This then becomes a great lesson about what voice is in writing--quite a difficult concept to get across to students. 

While this text is an oldie, it's a goodie! It has always been a kid favorite--one that is referenced throughout the year.  In fact, when I ask students about their favorite read alouds of the year, this is one that is ALWAYS mentioned. 

Check out more great back to school mentor texts over at Collaboration Cuties

Have a fabulous and fun-filled week!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Five for Friday, FREEBIE, & a GIVEAWAY!!

It's that time again--Five for Friday time...

Math Picture Book Common Core Alignment (Courtney)

I mentioned in a previous post that I received all of the Stuart J. Murphy MathStart books through a grant a couple of years ago. I want to use them a lot more then what I have been using them in the classroom, so I am reading them all and aligning them to the Common Core standards. I love using children's literature when teaching math (or any subject for that matter), and these are great books for the students to see math in a fun way!

Rockets Away! (Courtney)

For the month of June, my oldest daughter participated in a math camp where they review skills they have learned in their previous grade level, and skills they will be introduced to in their next grade level. I am very fortunate that one of my daughter's classmates has a mother that teaches math at the local community college and she received a grant to do this camp with the girls. This is the 3rd year my daughter has participated in the math camp, and they made and launched rockets this year. The girls were so excited about them!

Dot-to-Dot Brights Background FREEBIE! (Sarah)

I made some simple, bright backgrounds this week to share with you! Fly on over to my Graphics by Sarah Beth TpT store to download my Dot-to-Dot Brights Backgrounds FREEBIE! Bright pink is also included, yet not shown in preview.


Word Wall Word Work Task Cards (Sarah)

This week I put together some Word Wall Word Work Task Cards for our kids to use next year.  The task cards were designed as a word work option to be used with a classroom word wall. We know not all students need work with word wall words, therefore we provide this as one of many word work options. The task cards were also designed to be used with a word wall that has been developed—not a word wall in its beginning stages. 

The first 20 task cards (Set 1) can be used for any word wall. These task cards only require one word to be written for each card.

The second 20 task cards (Set 2) can be used with MOST word walls. Many task cards will require more than one word to be written for each card.

An additional 20 task cards (Set 3) are for use with word walls that contain more specific words such as math/science words, parts of speech, transition/order words, days of the week/months of year, etc. Depending on the word wall, all cards may not be used.

Activity sheets are provided, yet are not required. Students can simply write words in a notebook as well. If you want to check them out, visit my TpT store...

"Show Us Some Bloglovin" GIVEAWAY!

This week we participated in a bloglovin giveaway linky!

You have probably heard by now that Google Reader is going away on July 1st.  Well, Google Reader may be going away, but we don't want YOU to go away, so we hope that you will consider following our blog through bloglovin!  We know that change is we thought we would sweeten it up for you a bit!

Click the button above to be directed to our giveaway and more information on how to follow us with bloglovin.  Also, you can participate in OODLES more giveaways by following other blogs with bloglovin. Not to mention, if you have a blog, you can join this fabulous linky that ends July 1st!

Good luck, and have a splendid weekend!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

"Show Us Some Bloglovin!" GIVEAWAY!

Hello feathered friends!

You have probably heard by now that Google Reader is going away on July 1st.  Well, Google Reader may be going away, but we don't want YOU to go away, so we hope that you will consider following our blog through bloglovin!  We know that change is we thought we would sweeten it up for you a bit!

We are having a giveaway for all of our fabulous followers who take the leap and start following us on bloglovin.

If you already have an account set up in bloglovin... 
1. Simply click the button on our side bar (or the link below) to start following us with bloglovin.
2. Then click to enter the giveaway. Please make sure to type in your bloglovin username when entering. 

If you have not yet set up an account with bloglovin...
There are a few easy steps to follow.  
1. Go to our sidebar (or the link below) and click the button that says "Follow this Blog with bloglovin". That will take you to our blog on bloglovin. 
2. Click on the blue "Follow" button and you will be prompted to sign up for bloglovin.  It's easy and free! 
3. Once you have signed up, double check that you are following us through bloglovin. 
4. Finally, enter our giveaway. Please be sure to leave your bloglovin username in the giveaway entry.

If you are already following us with bloglovin...
Simply enter the giveaway below. Please make sure to type in your bloglovin username when entering.

We will be picking 2 WINNERS and each winner will receive $15 dollars to spend in Sarah's Teachers Pay Teachers store and a clipart or background set of his/her choice from Graphics by Sarah Beth (Sarah's new TpT store).

Good luck, and thank you for following us through bloglovin!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Monday Made It: Computer Chair and Parts Bin OVERHAULED!

We are linking up with 4th Grade Frolics for Monday Made It!  We love to browse all of the great made-its each week and wanted to share a couple overhauls we've done...

Computer Chair Overhaul (Courtney)

In November of last year, my aunt passed away and my father gave me some of her things that basically he didn't know what to do with. I got a black, felt computer "rolly" chair that was in great condition. The ironic thing is my dad gave it to me because he thought my daughter needed a chair for her new desk, when actually I had just ordered her one! So this chair was sitting in my garage when I saw a picture on Pinterest (which of course I didn't pin so I can't post it to show you) of a chair someone had recovered. Now let me just say right now that I am NOT creative or clever when it comes to doing things like this. You may have noticed that Sarah is the only one of us that creates things, because it hurts my brain to think anymore than I have to. But I figured, recovering a chair can't be that hard, and with a little help from my new friend, the electric stapler, recovering my chair was super easy! I am going to use it in my small group area in the fall.

Parts Bin Overhaul (Sarah) 

I have been seeing nifty drawer organizers all over the internet and decided to customize a parts bin for this coming school year.  I give my kids access to all of the handy-dandy supplies in the room, but in the past they have been kept in a large "31" bin that I had embroidered with the words "This & That".  We just threw everything in there--which was good, in a way, because everything was in one place.  As you can imagine, it wasn't the greatest idea in many ways, though.  Loose staples, paperclips, brads, and rings were at the bottom of the bin, and the kids had to root around to find things. I liked the drawer bin idea, except for the fact that the ones I had been seeing had little, narrow drawers and not as many larger drawers. I bought one at Home Depot anyway and decided I could make it work...

THEN, I came upon an 18 drawer cabinet with large drawers ! I snatched it up!  No worries, my husband said he could put the one I had already bought to good use. :0) Saved me a trip back to return!

I started by making a list of all of the things I want kids to be able to access easily (and made sure they would fit in the drawers). Then I used the new rainbow backgrounds, that I created in Adobe Illustrator, for the drawer labels.  The font I chose was HelloDotSticks by HelloLiteracy.

Here is the finished product! 

I printed the labels on card stock and laminated them with my Scotch laminator so they were nice and sturdy.  Then I just used crystal clear scotch tape to attach them to the inside of the drawers.  I hope these pics are easy to see...

I used about a 2-inch piece of tape and put it along the backside, bottom edge of the label so that it hung over about halfway. 

Then I held the sticky side of the tape back while I positioned the label on the inside of the drawer, and then I pressed firmly to secure the tape to the curve and bottom of the drawer.

Last, I put a piece of tape along the top and pressed it securely. 

I considered spray painting the cabinet black (I love black!), but I decided to leave it the way it is--dark-blue metallic. I think the kids will love it--they always seem to love organization! :0)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

{Be Good to Eddie Lee} Mentor Text/Picture Book Linky & Bloglovin!

Linking up with Collaboration Cuties and First Grade and Fabulous for two great linkies...

I want to share a text that has been near and dear to my heart for many moons--one that teaches important character ed lessons.  I discovered Be Good to Eddie Lee by Virginia Fleming 20 years ago!  Since then it has held a special place in my heart and is one that I have read to my students at the beginning of the year--every year (no matter what age).

From Google Books: Christy's mother always tells her to be good to Eddie Lee, a neighborhood child with Down's Syndrome. But Christy wants to run and play -- and not worry about Eddie Lee tagging along. One hot summer day, though, Eddie Lee takes Christy to a secret place in the woods and teaches her that beautiful things can be found in unexpected places.

There is a page in the book where Christy looks into the water and sees her reflection.  I always ask students to take a close look at this picture and talk about what they notice.  When Christy looks into the water, her reflection is somewhat distorted and her face resembles Eddie Lee's.  

Christy is told to "be good to Eddie Lee" but doesn't really understand why,  she experiences peer pressure from Jim Bud, and she finds out what it means to look inside. All of these themes provide for rich discussion.

I do not do any special activity to follow up this book.  It stands alone as a superb lesson.

If you do not have a copy of this one--it is a MUST buy!

Now, on to Bloglovin!

As you notice, we have added the bloglovin link to our blog so that you can use this fabulous reader alternative to Google Reader that will no longer be available July 1.  

What is bloglovin? You simply create an account at (easy and free).  Then you add  the blogs you want to follow and you'll get their new posts in a feed on bloglovin' where you can manage when they are read. You can also use bloglovin on your mobile Apple (iPhone & iPad) and Android devices.  When you sign up, you can also transfer all of the blogs you are following in blogger--simple! 

So if you are signed up, you can start following us with bloglovin today!

Hoping your week ahead is a great one!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Five for Friday & Optimum Organization Summer Linky

Time to recap our week with Five for Friday at Doodle Bugs...

Individualized Spelling: Getting More Organized

We are sharing this organization accomplishment and are linking up for the first time with with Lady Bug Teaching Files for her Optimum Organization Summer Linky Party...

As many of you may, we do individualized spelling with our kids.  We find that we have many kids that are quite good spellers that end up needing to replace core words with more challenging words to help them grow as spellers.  We do not want these kids to just select random "hard" words to add to their lists, as many of them can work with more appropriate words for their needs that have the same spelling patterns present in the week's core words. For the last two years, I have added additional words to the pretest, but this has been done the day of the pretest (as I sit down at the computer and search for words online while giving the core words). Has it worked alright? Yes. Is there a better way? Of course!  In our conversations last week, Courtney and I decided to get more organized and create a word list for each spelling pattern that includes the core words, high frequency/word wall words, additional "challenge" words (with the same spelling pattern as the core list), and content area words. 

After pretesting kids on the first three types of words, those kids who are still in need of additional words will be able to choose from content area words. The final place for students to select words, if needed, will be from a list of frequently misspelled words and/or words of their choosing. Click here for a free download of frequently misspelled words.

We will add to the word wall and content area word lists the week before a pretest is to be given, and place the list in a binder for the coming week. 

Check out other great organizational tips by visiting the Optimum Organization Summer Linky!

I'm Done!!! (Courtney)

All week I have spent my days sitting in a classroom (when the sun is shining beautifully outside) learning about school and community relations.  Why, you may ask. Well it is my LAST required course for me to complete my Type 75 Administrators Certificate! Here in the good ole state of Illinois, in order to be a principal or any other type of administrator, you need a Type 75 certificate. That, of course is all changing soon, and I just want to keep my options open for the future. I am one that doesn't like to take classes to just take them and move over on the salary scale, I want a purpose when I take classes. I don't plan on leaving the classroom anytime soon, but I like to know that opportunities are open to me if the need were ever to arise. :)

A Great Tutorial! (Sarah)

As I am sure you all know, chalkboard art is the hottest new thing! I stumbled upon a great tutorial giving step-by-step directions for how to create a chalkboard effect using Adobe Illustrator.  Visit the website to learn more! 

Just messed around and created a simple sign to hang up when school starts...

Of course, there are oodles of neat chalkboard fonts on the internet, but I wanted to dabble in creating the chalk effect myself.  Don't think it turned out too bad! :0)

New Clipart & Backgrounds (Sarah)

Just wanted to share some new clipart and backgrounds I made this week. Fly on over to my Graphics by Sarah Beth TpT Store to check them out...

Rubadubdub! One Dirty Dog in the Tub! (Sarah)

Welp, number five is just a filler to speak--but we really have had a busy week!  My pooch, Daisy May, got a bath so she was ready for our visitors... Just like a kid--looked and smelled good!

 Leaving you with a "smile" from Daisy May--have a wonderful weekend!