Monday, June 30, 2014


I think one of the best things about summer is not really knowing what day of the week it is and not caring what time you go to bed.  So bring back June, it is going by way to fast.

So lets go back to May and I will show you some things my students did at the end of the year.

I love animals and I know that most of my students do too.  They love to learn about different animals.  They love to create pictures too of their animals.  At the end of this year we were studying habitats.  My class loved learning about the desert habitat.  Wisconsin is so different then the desert that my students were engaged and enjoyed everything about it. We made non-fiction text feature books about the desert animals this year. Each child was given a desert animal.  They did the research and turned it into a book that includes text features.  We did this book last year also so it wasn't new to many of my students. Some of the pictures below are from my students African animal reports.

The unit follows the gradual release of responsibility model.  A favorite way I like to teach especially to my mixed aged students. Every page I model the expectations that I have for the students then they create their own page.  Each page has different facts and information and a new text feature on it. Prior to working on the books we studied text features and reviewed the packet that is also included in my text features pack.
You can pick up a copy of the text features pack here.
This summer as a family we went to Wildwood park near our home.  This is a small zoo that has many animals that roam freely and that you can pet and interact with.  It had been along time since we took the kids.  My kids are really not kids anymore.  My daughter just turned 21 in April. Anyway, I have been back to this zoo many times since we have taken the kids because we go to Wildwood for fieldtrips with my students but my family hasn't seen my new favorite part to this zoo. Check it out. These birds are parakeets and there are hundreds of them.  They eat and land on your head and arms, and peck at your feet. It was fun.
 Here is a few more pictures.

  This collage was made at picmonkey.  If you are not familiar with that sight check it out.  It is free to use unless you want to get fancy and then it might cost a little bit. You can edit your photos etc..
This spring my students also worked on classifying animals.  It was a great time to use my Animal Classification unit. I used this mostly during our reading block. My students read the reader's theater scripts and worked on the worksheets that went with the unit. My students love reader's theatre because they can partner read and in my multiage classroom partner reading is a great way for my students to build on their reading strategies and work on reading fluency. The reader theater scripts have information about each of the animal groups highlighted;  birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects and fish. They learned so much and enjoyed everything about this unit.

You can check this unit out here.
This unit is loaded with fun and engaging activities for your students, and your students will learn about different animal groups.
Happy teaching but happy summer break to you all!!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Memories of my School Year

I am so happy with my new blog design.  Thank you Dianna. 

The count down has begun, we are looking at 13 more days of school.  Trying to get everything accomplished these past weeks have been exhausting.  Testing, projects, field trips, memory books and the list goes on. My students have been working very hard.  I will share their work shortly.  I do want to share with you a journal that my students will be completing these next couple weeks. 
It is called Memories of My 2013-2014 School Year.  There are 22 pages in this book.  My students will complete the memory book and then it will go home with them on the last day of school along with their portfolio. All the pages have Melonheadz clipart and are in black and white, and on each page there is a space for students to add their own pictures.  I decided to bind this together, with the black and white cover copied on cardstock.

The Pages include these writing prompts.
-About my teacher
-My favorite subject
-My favorite project
-In math I learned
-A new friend I made
-Recess was fun because
-A story I enjoyed
-On the computers I
-In science we learned
-In reading I
- In art we
-In phy-ed
-I worked really hard at

-Music Rocks
-When I grow up
-My favorite celebration
-My favorite lunch
-Our field trip to
-My favorite memory this year
-Next year I hope
-This summer

Here is an example of the pages within the book.  Fun!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


      It was during my Martin Luther King Unit a couple of years ago when we read a great book, called Back of the Bus, by Aaron Reynolds.  When I asked the students what the theme of the story was, I got a lot of random answers, many that focused on the boy in the bus and what he did, not the main idea of the story. It was one of these moments that you go, REALLY! You have no idea what I am talking about!  Then you go, well then, I need to teach it to you.   So out of a really bad need for this big idea thinking in my classroom I made this Theme Lesson.  It is to be used on a continual basis and added to as you read stories. It includes the most common themes in literature and when you get done reading a book, discuss in class the theme of the story. Then you photo copy the book and add it to the bulletin board.  
      Now that I have had this bulletin board up for over a year, my students get  "The big idea."  My students are young so it isn't always easy but they are focusing on the author's message now more than random events in the story.  My themes lesson is on my teacher sites.  I hope some of you will find it helpful.


These posters also look great when you print two to a page and then you have more room in your classroom for more wonderful posters. Look for this here.

Happy teaching!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

March Writing Journals

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Math Centers for Strategy practice

I love teaching math to my youngers (first graders).  They are so much fun and so eager to learn. It was recently that I found the pace I was going in math to be too fast and if I continued we would be done with our textbooks at the end of March. That has never happened before usually I can never finish our math books, but this was a new series and well, I didn't know that.... So I have slowed down a lot and brought back a lot more games, centers and fun into my math class. The kids are enjoying it too.  It cracks me up when we get done working on math centers and someone says, "Hey we didn't have math today!"  "No, honey that was math." This actually happens a lot, I kind of think that is bizarre, I mean we worked with numbers we added and subtracted but apparently it is not math class because we didn't work out of the math book. 

A couple summers ago I taught a remedial math class. I wanted to focus on math strategies to help the students learn basic addition and subtraction facts. Each day that I had these students we went through a strategy and practiced using it correctly.

In our math book for the school year it teaches these strategies as well but at a pace that seems to confuse some students.  These remedial students needed more help in knowing exactly which strategy to use when seeing the problems. Do I count up? Do I think of tens partners? Do I know my facts of ten? What do I do to solve these problems quickly? I think that we see the students in these early grades puzzled on what to do all the time and not just with the struggling students.

I decided to make some math centers that focused on these simple strategies that when used could really help students with their automaticity and fluency with their facts. I first made 14 strategy posters that explain these strategies.
     Then I made 10 centers that help the students practice these strategies.
I couldn't stop there so I made a math office, something I have wanted to
make for some time now to help the students when they need it. This math office has the strategies highlighted on the cover for quick   reference.          The next pictures show the different centers.
The counting up and counting back center that has Star Wars characters on it the students need to first decide if they should count up or count back and then complete the problems. The little boys in my class love this center, I think they really love Star Wars. Showing my students that counting backwards was much easier then counting up confused them at first until they could see how much quicker it was to count backwards with small numbers. It was an "Ah ha" moment.
Flash cards are also included for every strategy.
This product is available at both of my stores.  I am excited to be using these centers in my classroom and well my kids haven't figured out we are doing math yet,  so it is all good. You can check it out







Monday, January 27, 2014


Hello! Happy snow day or in this case frigid below zero for the 100th time this year day! There is a little sad and happy in that sentence.   Today I cleaned house, did some more laundry and worked on some more fun teacher stuff,  last night I bought more vitamin D at the pharmacy and stocked up on groceries to avoid going outside. That was what I did for fun. Ok, so this winter I am starting to feel a little like that movie "The Shining" with Jack Nicholson when he goes psycho because he is locked up all winter in that lodge.  Funny, I might have to watch that tomorrow because there is no school again because of weather.  That is four days this month and we are pretty hearty people up here in Northern Wisconsin. School doesn't get closed because of the cold very often but wind-chill warnings are out again for tonight and it is suppose to be pretty bad. 
Enough already! Ok so "enough" is my word for this year. So what is with the word, instead of  a New Year's resolution you find a word to live by for the year. My husband saw it on a talk show or something like that.  It took me a few days to think of a word but "Enough works for everything" Enough buying, enough eating, enough talking, enough complaining, enough working, enough well you get the idea.  It is really a good word. My husband's word is "Relax" which is a good word for him but when I see he has done that too much I just say "enough!"  See "enough" works, and I am going to keep that word for next year too.

My husband and son Logan.  The one day it was warm enough to be outside. My husband would ski everyday, that is why he needs the word "relax."  My son did not have fun, we dragged him along.
These are Yak trackers, you put them on the bottom of your tennis shoes so you can run.  They work great.  Last week I went for a run. I loved it, but it needs to be about 20 degrees or warmer for me to run outside or it is just too cold. 

This is our road out in front of the house.  It explains why I need Yak trackers on my tennis shoes.  Yes, that road has been plowed. It is very pretty here, just wish it wasn't so cold.
My first grade word study kids last week worked on their penguin poems.

  We first read the pocket chart poem.  They love these poems and the children reread them again and again.  They learn them quickly. They are all part of my shared reading interactive chart lessons. There are five poems altogether. You may want to check it out here. These lessons have been perfect for my first graders. Loaded with lessons, activity sheets and they can double as center ideas.
This penguin activity I did last year with my students and will do again with them this week once we get back from our winter hibernation. Please check out Patti Palmer's blog and lesson ideas. She is an amazing art teacher and I love her stuff.  She also sells her lessons on tpt.  

Stay warm my teacher friends. Stay warm!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Five Dog Night

Happy New Year everyone!
Wow! Can not believe we have another day off, it is crazy cold outside! This is a great time for me to share a unit that I created to go with the book The Five Dog Night by Eileen Christelow.  This is such a fun book.
Ezra is a grumpy old man who has a busybody neighbor named Betty. Betty is so concerned that Ezra will freeze at night, if he doesn't use a blanket or quilt.  Ezra has Betty stumped when he tells her it is just a "four dog night" etc. Betty doesn't know that Ezra uses his dogs as blankets and the colder it gets the more dogs he uses. The book is a great book to read to your students on these cold days, and if you are a dog lover even better. It has been a tradition that I read this book each year.  Soooo I made a unit to go with the story.  It has many pages that align to the common core and other activities that can be used in a center, or in a whole group setting.  
Here is a look at what is all included in the unit.
The "Below Zero" class book is on my to do list for Wednesday.
Many activities can be used as a center too.
             My students got a sneak peak at the catching snowflakes art activity and can't wait to work on that. I hope we can get it all done, and get back to school.  I like snow days better, I can go out and play.  I am so tired of this cold, cold weather.  -30 below wind chills this morning along with -22 below for temp.  Stay warm it looks like we will have a few more "five dog nights" ahead. Jane
I just added the catching snowflakes activity. The had fun making these and did a great job on their acrostic poems.