Saturday, November 29, 2014

Winter is A'Comin'.....

Well, it seems to be when it snows the day before Thanksgiving!  Yikes, not in Virginia, people!  We had 70s on Monday...what happened?  A friend of mine posted this perfect graphic:

Well, we're not the beach, but take that off, and it definitely describes the state!

I wanted to let you know some of the activities I've been working on for the kiddos.  We're going to be doing the "Hour of Code" for 2nd-5th this coming week (the next week, they're putting the "Holiday Shop" in the library, so we're doing coding - with the help of the ITRT - a week early).  I have 2 combined Autism classes, a PreK of 4 yr olds and a Special Needs PreK of 2 and 3 yr olds.  I've been in this long enough now I find that creating activities comes much easier than just finding things!

Of course, being a librarian, I pair everything with a book, so don't be surprised to find book recommendations in a lot of my newer packets!  I think books do such a good job of introducing topics.  It's been a habit of mine before, especially with History and Science, and even more now!

I know I've already shared the "Build a Snowman" packet with you.  For my special needs, having these sorts of activities are so important!  Expect to see some each season.  That being said, they need to know how to dress for winter, right?  That, and using some books to introduce winter created this freebie packet:
For my K and 1 students, I'm going to focus on Hibernation this week.  That's where this comes in:
It's not many pages, but I have at least 3 different activities prepared for the animal cards in this packet.  It'll definitely be enough for the kids to show me what they know, but also have some fun as well!  As always, packets are differentiated for different learners.
I hope you continue to stay warm.  Tomorrow is another 60 degree day with Tuesday being a high of 39....craziness!!!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

I wanted to wish every one of my readers a Happy Thanksgiving! :)

Of course, part of the new tradition of this time of year are sales!  Working enough Black Friday sales myself in retail, not much gets me out to shop the sales!  In fact, as my kids get older, I tend to shop more online.  My son is into more "retro" things that I can only find online, and of course my daughter wants everything! :)

That being said, several teacher sites are doing sales!

Enjoy, have a great holiday with family, rest and relax, and of course, happy shopping! :)

  300 × 250

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Woo Hoo! A Success!

Don't you love those?

I wanted to share about this past Friday.  Now, I've created lessons that I thought the kids would be excited about, especially the fourth and fifth graders.  Into Wimpy Kid and Bone?  Let's look at videos about the artists talking about how they draw/get inspired, then have our own session on cartooning!  Nah, not so much.  Using sidewalk chalk and going outside to draw real-sized animals?  Running around the courtyard and not really following directions.

Our resource team has been, um, strongly encouraged to do a "Focus Friday" with our students.  The way our schedule runs, we see all classes Mon-Thurs, then on Friday, we repeat (first nine weeks, Monday's groups, second nine weeks, Tuesday's groups, etc).  My current fourth and fifth grade groups are kind of tough to please.  Fourth grade is the gifted class, so it's challenging them (and keeping them focused and listening), and fifth grade is one of the struggling classes, so keeping them interested and engaged.  Oh, and on Fridays, we don't do check out, so that means its a 45 minute lesson (instead of a 30 min one with 15 min of checkout).

So...this Friday was fractions.  I KNEW there was NO WAY I could read a book on fractions, or related to fractions, with students.  Not this time of year, especially.  So, I thought about it for awhile and looked at my resources.....Cyberchase DVD on equivalent fractions (one episode).  Okay, PBS Kids is always popular and many have watched the program before.  Now....what to do for a follow-up activity?  That's where fraction war came in.

I'm a sucker for clip art.  LOVE adding it to items, and the kids seem to respond to it as well.  So, why not Star Wars?  Good vs evil.  High interest, high recognition.  Competitive.

It was a HUGE HIT!  The kids were so engaged, that I made sure to send my file to their teachers to use for math centers (the kids actually requested me to do so!).  Even my worst discipline problems decided it was much more fun to play cards than to cause any drama.  Woo hoo! Score a win for me!  They even asked if they could play AGAIN next week!

Click on the picture to see it up close.  By the way, did I mention there was a dance for grades 3-5 after school that day, and they were STILL engaged???  Made me feel like the coolest teacher ever! LOL

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Oh, I've Seen Fire and I've Seen....Snow?

Okay, so maybe that wasn't the best take on the song title....but it seemed catchy! :)

I've really enjoyed making centers/activities for my autism and special needs PreK classes (2 and 3 year olds).  I've also kind of developed a pattern as well.  Since what they need is so different, it's taken me in a new direction.  We have been "dressing" kids for Fall, putting faces on scarecrows, and now we're dressing firefighters!  While my 2 and 3 year olds can't really "count the room," I added this activity on as well since my PreK (4 year olds) and K-1 Autism class really enjoy this activity!  In fact, once my first and Kinders saw them up, they wanted to do it, too!

So, once I saw that Krista Wallace at Creative Clips created a "Build a Snowman" clipart....well, knew I had to get that!  I probably will wait to use this activity in January, but got inspired by her clipart...that and looking through the shelves for Christmas/Winter picture books the students are already requesting!  (Of course, maybe that's because all my turkey books are checked out!).

I love the "Snowmen at Night" series, so I put that to the side and thought that would be a great read aloud for that lesson.  Pair that with "Snowmen All Year", and you have a nice review for seasons for K and 1 students!  Throw in a "Write the Room" and "Count the Room" (which work fantastically for Library centers!), and I've got activities for PreK-1 about snowmen!  (I can also see my 2nd graders wanting to do the "Write the Room" as well!).

So, I've included below the pictures of both activity packs.  Click on them if you'd like to see them up close and in more detail! :)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Pete the Cat and a Beard Had a Scarecrow?

Now, wouldn't that look funny?  However, it's just several activities I wanted to share with you that my PreKinders and Kinders have done in the past months.

We did a Pete the Cat study for Kindergarten.  It was a lot of fun and of course it was "all good."  I love Pete so much!  What a great role model for kids.  I had to get 2 copies of his new book, Pete the Cat and the New Guy, from our book fair to add to our collection! 

Our kinders start the year with a Pete hunt, using the Rocking In My School Shoes book.  It's such a fun way to learn the places around the school, I didn't even touch that book!  However, it gave a nice introduction to Pete that I built on.  Click on the images below to see more of our Pete activities. 

Pete and his sunglasses, we focused on emotions and how each character felt (and how we sometimes feel!).

For Pete and his white shoes, we focused on counting and colors (of course!), with a heavy focus on color sight words.

Pete and his four groovy buttons, we focused on the primary colors, identifying them, and counting buttons.

I also included all these, including future Pete book plans, in a bundle, or you can buy them individually.  I'll continue to add to that bundle, so all you'll have to do is to re-download it when I add something new! :)

Beards and scarecrows - haven't quite gotten to that, have I?  With my special needs Pre-K, it's all about coordination as well as identification of colors.  Work in two perfect books and we have ourselves some winners!  Grab some clothespins and identify colors with Si and dress a scarecrow for Fall!  Click on the pictures for more information.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Ecosystems and Actual Size

I've been blogging a lot about what I've been doing with the younger students, so I thought it might be time to show some of the activities I've been doing with my older kiddos.  While centers work really well for the K-2 set, my 3-5th graders have their share of activities as well!

My fourth graders were studying ecosystems, and the teachers asked if I could highlight that in one of my lessons.  I found this FABULOUS series of books we have here in the library (I keep finding these hidden gems I had no clue were here when I was a classroom teacher!)...."What If There Were No..." by Suzanne Slade.  They're more about food chains and webs, but that's where our state standards focus, so it was perfect!

Here are the four we have here in our library that I based my lesson from:
 What If There Were No Bees?: A Book about the Grassland EcosystemWhat If There Were No Sea Otters?: A Book about the Ocean EcosystemWhat If There Were No Lemmings?: A Book about the Tundra EcosystemWhat If There Were No Gray Wolves?: A Book about the Temperate Forest Ecosystem

I loved the fact that it actually showed you what it would be like if one of the "key" animals disappeared.  For example, in the sea otter book, it kept showing how the sea urchins were increasing and what the ocean looks like in places where sea otters actually don't live anymore!

So, it inspired me to make a fun activity for the kids.  I created cards, based off the animals from the webs in the books, and using dry erase markers, they created food webs on the library tables for a follow-up activity.  You can imagine their shock and joy to be able to write on a table! (wiped off with Clorox wipes afterwards!).  It was a definite hit!

Another book I did with grades 2-5 was "Actual Size" by Steve Jenkins.
Actual Size 
I just love his books!  After reading it, my second graders used linking cubes that were an inch long to measure out the animals mentioned in the book (as well as a few extras).  The older kiddos used rulers, yardsticks, and measuring tape to go outside and draw using sidewalk chalk, their best representations of the animals.  It was a pretty cool activity!

If you'd like to look at these activities further, click on the pictures below.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Sharks and Meerkats, Oh My!

Trying to catch up on my sharing of what I've been doing this year!  I previously posted about hosting our guest author, Ginjer Clarke.  I wanted to share with you some of the activities I did with K-2 before her arrival!

For PreK, K and first, we read the book, Sharks!  I started by showing a collage of different types of sharks and had students give me information that they already knew on sharks (an informal KWL, of sorts, but I've found with my limited time with my Kinders, I usually don't do the written version.  Same with first).  We then read the book Sharks!  The kids loved it!  We then did several themed centers, including Write the Room (I only did this with my Firsties, since it was the first time I'd done it in the library - they did a great job and LOVED IT!) and a coloring page.  I also had plenty of ocean animal books on hand, including sharks, on their level to check out!
With my second graders, we read the book, Baby Meerkats.  I have an actual "life size" meerkat I got years ago from Toys R Us in their Discovery Education line.  I have no idea if its still available today, but it was neat seeing the kids reaction on how small they really are!  They then had a few choices for centers:  Write the Room, a fraction based activity using meerkats, or a coloring page (because they still love to color and create at this age!). 
For my third graders, we didn't do any centers, but focused on the book, Gross Out!  The "Out!" series is wonderfully informative, but a little longer than the other two books I've mentioned.  However, we had a good time getting grossed out by dung beetles, possums, and more!  Fourth and fifth, we took to the Internet and to read an e-book "Maxed Out!" about gigantic (and now extinct) creatures.
This was a great way to get the kids excited about Mrs. Clarke's visit.  We also had some presales of her books, which she signed while she was here. 

If you'd like to check out my shark or meerkat packet, please click on the link below.  You don't have to use these books with the packets (although I highly recommend them).  I have to say, though, any author that writes about my favorite animal (meerkats), and I am definitely a fan!!!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

November Currently

I'm finally catching up with Currently this month!  I've missed doing these this past year, but as things are slowing down (maybe I shouldn't speak too soon), I've told myself I must be better about blogging and sharing ideas!

So, here we go....

So, this week we have Election Day off (that's only been happening for the last couple years) AND on Monday, we have a staff development day, which leads to my "Loving"'s not often that all the elementary librarians get together to talk/meet.  Usually it's just quick notes through email, and usually for an interlibrary loan! :)  We're all bringing things for a potluck lunch between us, which should be a nice change from my usual PB&J.  Towards the end of the week, several of us are heading to our state conference in Roanoke.  It'll be my first "official" conference in this position, and I am excited!!!!  I absolutely LOVE going to conferences (ISTE is one of my faves).  I got to sample it as a student years ago, and really enjoyed the few sessions I attended.  This group of ladies I work with (there are four of us) really made me feel welcome to this position, like we were part of a small club.  I'm hosting in my library, as well, so I hope they like what they see!

Wanting and Needing...when the weather turns cold, it's definitely hot chocolate and firepit weather!  It also makes me think ahead to Christmas shopping for my two kiddos.  I am literally stumped this year!  My son, 13, I could get some new sheets for (I know it sounds lame, but I lucked into a great deal with 1600 thread count sheets thru Zulily, and my son really wants some!)....but anything else???  Then there's my daughter who's 8.  She wants EVERYTHING she sees on commercials, but honestly, what does she really need?  Not a lot of toys, I can tell you that!  Her bookshelf is overflowing, she definitely has enough clothes and shoes....

I know I have a few months, but I like to be done before the big rush starts, or else I shop online.  I worked too long in retail to want to head out in the crowds!

Reading....guilty pleasure - I started the series years ago when I read the first book aloud to my fourth graders.  I have been envious of my students and some of the interesting reads they've been checking out.  I kept telling myself I'd catch up on some of these books this summer (then of course realized how I usually spend my summer and how fast it goes), sooo....even though I've been working on it for two weeks, I am enjoying getting in a little reading, snuggled up under the covers and relaxing!

So, that's me lately in a nutshell!  Now that I've typed that about reading, I think I'll end here and go snuggle up with my book! :)

Monsters Anyone?

Since everyone doesn't celebrate Halloween, this past week I decided to do some spooky things, but nothing that could be directly related to the holiday.  For instance, my fourth and fifth graders did a "series highlight" on Goosebumps.  You can check out some of the interviews with R.L. Stine, as well as links to his websites at our "Secondary Foxes" wiki page.  I loved using the "World of R.L. Stine" website and the audio theater they had there.  Make sure to listen to "Don't Open the Box."  When you can get this age group to exclaim excitedly after a lesson, that is surely something!

I found this book for my 3rd graders, which started a great discussion on what exactly a "hoax" is (as well as some debate on whether some of the mysteries were real or not!):
Top Ten Worst Spooky Mysteries 

My second graders were doing pumpkin experiments this week, so we did a little estimating ourselves with how many candy corn were in a jar that my secret pal gave me.  We read this excellent book, which although being fiction, had some great facts about pumpkins:

How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? 

For my special PreK class, which has 2-3 year olds, we read the book, People in Fall, from the great Pebble series, and decorated trees with leaves, picked apples, and dressed people for Fall.  You can check that out by clicking on the picture below.

 People in Fall
However, it was my specialty classes that had some of the most fun with a "monsterous" theme.  We read the book There Was an Old Monster, chanted "Going On a Monster Hunt" (a freebie in my store), and had some great monster centers!  We were matching lower and upper case letters, using those same monster letters to spell our names and sight words, counting monsters, and playing "I Spy" with our monster sheet!  I combined two packets for these activities.  Click on the pictures below to see them up close and personal!


I hope this helps you plan some of your lessons, if not for this year, then for next!  Of course, some of them can be used any time of the year.  I'm still catching up on my blogging/sharing, so I hope to be able to share some more seasonal ideas BEFORE the actual season! :)

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Visiting Author: Ginjer Clarke

Whew!  This year is flying by!  So sorry to have neglected my blog, but let me tell you, the Library keeps me busy!!!  This past month has been book fair, Read for the Record, visiting author, and Grandparents Day (DURING book fair - yikes!).  I'll try not to flood you too much with the events of October, but I also wanted to share with you some of the items I've been creating as well.  Now that I teach everything from the special needs PreK (2 and 3 year olds), 4 yr old PreK, Autism/Special Needs students, and grades K-5.....I've been creating all over the board!  I even have a folder on my laptop I named "Upload to TpT" and it's getting full!  Sad that I don't even have time to share, isn't it?

Well, on from that - let's go backwards, shall we, and start with our October 28th visit from the wonderful nonfiction author that is Ginjer Clarke.  Such a nice person with such fabulous books!  I'm sure you've seen them - I have several copies from old Scholastic orders, her books have been featured on, and her current publisher is Penguin/Random House.  She does a fabulous show for K-1, 2-3, and 4-5.  I had to ask if she was a former teacher because her shows were geared perfectly for each age!  The fourth and fifth graders also had the advantage of having a writing session with her.  I can't say enough good things about this lady- she lives "locally" for us - in the Richmond, Virginia, area.  Not sure how far out she'll travel, but she's definitely worth it!
Our author

Our display in the Library:  she had sent books ahead of time to introduce to the kids, which they LOVED!

Before that was Read for the Record.  This year, it was Bunny Cakes and unfortunately, during Book Fair week. :(  Next year, I'd love to do something more for it, but for now, I created a "cake decorating" contest for interested classrooms.  Kids had fun creating cakes they thought Max or Ruby would like.  Max and Ruby picked out their favorite cake recipes, and the winning classes won 3 free books for their classroom library from the book fair.  They felt all the participants did a great job, so any class that decorated a cake got one free book from the fair for the classroom library!  A teacher told me how much her Kinders enjoyed it because even at such a young age, everything is still so structured and they don't often have time to create on their own! 

Max's winner:

Ruby's Winners: 

So, I was a book fair virgin, so to speak, this year - my FIRST book fair being in charge!  With Grandparents Day tacked on at the end!  Yikes!  But, we survived and even though we had to move the entire fair to the gym for Friday, it turned out well.  I decided to forgo a theme this time and focus on getting through it with my head intact! :)  Here's a couple views:

 That's my "wide angle" view as you walk in. 

 Got this GREAT idea from a blog that instead of teacher "wish lists", do baskets!  Each teacher had a labelled basket they would put their "wanted" books in, and they would either purchase at the end of the fair, or some lucky teachers had parents buy their books for them!

 I put on my "mom hat" when setting up for the fair and didn't display most of the "nonbook" items they sent until our parents' night and Grandparents' Day (I didn't want students spending money on those items unless it was okay with an adult!).

 Another view

My little thank you gift to each volunteer.  I made the sign and laminated it, but the box and mints are from Dollar Tree!

Since this post is long enough, I decided to share some of my creations in another post!  I hope you enjoyed seeing what I was up to this month!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Constitution Day

Gosh, it's been more than a month since I've blogged!  My new life as a media specialist has really taken up a lot of my time and my blog, Instagram, and Facebook have been neglected. :(  However, I'm still here and kicking!

I wanted to take time and say 1) I'm still alive! and 2) share with you some things I've created for Constitution Day.  I can't wait to show you some of my library, but that might have to wait until later this weekend.  It's going to be a crazy week next week with 3 days of being out (minor surgery), so lesson plans are kinda priority.

So, let me share with you what I just created for Constitution Day, which is next Wednesday, September 17!

Since I teach PreK-5, plus 3 autism classes, in the library, a lot of my "new" creations might have a bit of a stretch of levels.  Not to worry - a lot of the activities can be used for K-5 interchangeably (well, at least 2-5 for some).

So, with my grades K-3, I am sharing this read aloud:
Love this book!  Then, each of the grades (with the exclusion of Kindergarten - they will get a coloring sheet) will get a printable book and my second and third graders will have word searches, secret codes, and glyphs to choose from during checkout (I place activities on the tables so that after students check out, they have centers to really helps with behavior, especially when some of my groups are 35 kids!).

For 4th and 5th grades, we're going to look at We the Kids, as well as one of my favorites....

We'll talk about how the changing government had a need for a strong government.  Students will also look at the wiki page I created for grades 3-5 "Secondary Foxes", and look at (my favorite) Schoolhouse Rock and a video from the ACLU.  During checkout, their centers will be the word search, secret code, and glyph.

It's been interesting this year, not being in the classroom.  The pace is much more rushed and there is absolutely no "down time" (I miss the quiet spell I could take when kids were practicing handwriting!).  However, I love my new position and hope to have some breathing time to share what I've done, as well as some things I've created for the library, soon!

Until then, thanks for hanging in there with me!  Oh, whoops - almost forgot to share the packet!  Click on the title pic below for more information!