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!

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.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Cyber Monday and December items!

 It's that time of year again! Cyber Monday Sale on tpt is Monday and Tuesday December 2nd and 3rd.  I will have 20% off in my store when you put in the promo code: Cyber there is another 8% off so a total of 28% off.
 Here are a few of my December Items. 
My December Journal is available along with all my journals.  I have recently updated all my journals and I am excited about the new look.  Each journal comes with a black and white cover. Writing prompts for the whole month.  Which includes a variety of writing activities, including a letter, a how to page and an acrostic poem.  Each journal comes with 21 word cards to put on your word wall or pocket chart. I love my journals and so do my students. 

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/December-Writing-Journal-410785http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/December-Writing-Journal-410785                                    My Christmas around the world, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa Reader's theatre is a fun unit.   I did this unit with my students last year and my students learned so much about the different countries.  I paired up my students and they read each part a few times and then wrote about what they learned. This unit can be performed for parents, or other classrooms and was a big hit with my students.  There are a total of 26 parts.

This unit was made to go along with the story Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. 
This the cover for the two part script.  The students brought this home for their reading homework.

 I love Rudolph and wanted to discuss with my students all the lessons that can be learned from the  story. I made this next product to do just that. It comes with a two part script which talks about the lessons.  Discussion questions you can do with your students, worksheets and an art activity.  I am excited about painting Rudolph's next week and I will update on this blog pictures of the project when my students have finished it.

Shared Reading Interactive charts for Christmas.  This is my fourth product like this and now I am hooked on making them for each season, mostly because my students look so forward to having a lesson and poem on the pocket chart.  There are four poems in this pack.  Each poem comes with activities that follow.  I use them as a direct teaching and shared reading lesson.  Trust me there are so many different lessons that can be made from one poem. Then the students follow up with the activity.  We reread the poem all week long and my students continue to work with the poem or do the follow up lessons during word work time during the daily five. The preview on my teacher sites gives you a complete description of what is included.

Shared Reading interactive charts, this is just one of the poems included in this pack.

 Dear Santa is my last December item. Every year my students write a letter to Santa and draw, paint or color a Santa.  They always turn out super cute.  It is also a great time to go over and review parts of a friendly letter.  This product contains letters for your bulletin board,  Paper for writing that letter to Santa and information and labels to model how to write a friendly letter.  Whew... If you read to the end.  Thank you so much.  Happy December, happy holidays and of course happy teaching!