A New Day of Learning: February 2014

Friday, February 28, 2014

5 for Friday

(This post contains Amazon Links. Disclaimer.)

This week I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for the 5 for Friday Linky Party.  Here are 5 things about my week!

1) I have been making an effort to cook more! So far this week my family has enjoyed Polenta with Eggs and Spicy Black Beans, Indian Spiced Turkey Burgers, Homemade Vegetable Soup, Omelets, Couscous with Chicken and Vegetables, and Chicken Parmesan!

2) We got A LOT of snow last week followed by cold weather.  We have been cooped up in the house for wayyyyy too long! However, I did get to spend some extra time with my favorite puppy! (Seriously, look at the size of her paws! I think she is going to be HUGE when she is a full grown boxer!)

3) In order to keep ourselves busy and not drive each other nuts, we have been playing Uno .  We taught our little guy how to play.  He LOVES to make me draw 4, draw 2, or skip me.  Whenever he gives me a draw 2 he tells me, "Happy Birthday, Mom!" and when he gives me a draw 4, he says, "Merry Christmas!" Each one of these is followed by hysterical laughter.  You can't help but laugh with him! The real kicker is that he beats us all the time! 

4) At school, we have started working on the metric system.  We have talked about Liters, meters, and grams.  Next, we reviewed time and I got to spend some time with a small group of students refining their understanding of the clock.  When we were finished, they were so excited that they could sign-out on the bathroom log without asking a friend for help.  That was a definite highlight of my day! We also got to learn about elapsed time.  That was exciting for me because we got to practice using a resource I created, Elapsed Time Differentiated Challenge Cards.   Here is another cool idea using clocks!

5) In Language Arts, we are reading The Tale of Despereaux and studying Medieval Times. We started with a K-W-L chart. Then kids worked on a close reading of part of a Medieval Times book, found and labeled the text features, and found the main idea and three supporting details.  Then they presented their charts to the class.  

What was a highlight from your week?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Huge TpT Sale!

I am not sure if you heard yet, but Teachers Pay Teachers is having a HUGE sale! Most sellers will put their entire stores on sale, (usually for 20% off) and then with the code TPT3, you get another 8% off for a total of up to 28% off!


I am participating in this sale and everything in my store will be 20% plus the 8% off! The sale starts on Thursday, February 27th and ends on Friday, February 28th.  Take some time now to get all of the things that you have been wanting into your cart, so all you have to do is check out! Maybe you would like this, this, or this?

In my store there are currently 15 FREEBIES, and I have 41 items that are under 5 dollars! (Most them are are around $2.25!)  Don't forget to visit the stores of your other favorite sellers as well! Happy Shopping! (My cart is already getting full!)

What is one item that you are excited to purchase?
(It can be from any seller, not just me!) 
Include a link so we can check it out, too!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Pot of Gold

Have you ever wondered what you would do if you found a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? What about what you would do if you caught a leprechaun?  I haven't contemplated these things recently, but as a child my mind often ran wild with imaginings such as these.

In the spirit of keeping children's imaginations alive, I would like to give you some FREE St. Patrick's Day writing prompts.  The writing prompts address the above questions and I know your students will have a blast answering one or both of them. The prompts come on super cute paper that is ready for displaying on your bulletin board or out in the hallway.

To download your copy, click on the picture below.  (Be sure to be logged into your Google account.)  If you don't have a Google account, you can download it from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

I am linked up this week at

Freebie Fridays  
Classroom freebies

What do you do to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in your classroom?

Top 5 Read Alouds

One of my very favorite things about being a teacher is that I get to share my love of books with my students. My favorite way to share my love of reading is through read aloud. I know this is a best practice, but it goes beyond that for me.  In my ten years of teaching, it has proven to be the single most effective way to get kids hooked on reading.

After I read a book aloud, the children are beyond excited to read the next book in a series, another book by the same author, a book with a similar theme, or even one of the same genre.  This excitement gets kids talking about books and sharing their recommendations for a great read.

So, it is with great enthusiasm that I present to you my Top 5 Read Aloud List for 4th - 6th graders.  These are not in any particular order. I love them all for different reasons!

If you love any of the books in this post, click on the titles to purchase!

Number 5 - The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
Kate DiCamillo is also the author of Because of Winn-Dixie. Winn-Dixie is also a favorite of mine, but Tale of Despereaux will steal your heart and have you rooting for the underdog.  That is part of what makes this story so magical.  Despereaux is a tiny mouse who defies the odds through this entire story.  His only wish is to honor the princess that he has fallen in love with.  Kate DiCamillo uses rich language and strong visual imagery to support her already intriguing "tail". (HA! Get it, tail = tale) (I know, mega nerdy!) My fellow fourth grade teachers and I love this book so much that we have chosen it as a book that all 4th grade students read.  We are currently reading this book and we just finished section 1! The students are dying to start the next section!

Number 4 - Something Upstairs by Avi
This book is a historical thriller that takes place in the present and in the past of Providence, Rhode Island. In this book, a boy finds a ghost, who used to be a slave, in his attic room  The ghost convinces him to come back in time with him to avenge his untimely death.  It is a little spooky, which the students LOVE! It catches your attention right away and my students couldn't wait until we could read it again.  The girls loved this book, but this book is one of my secret weapons to get  any reluctant boys in my class to read!

Number 3 -  Wonder by R.J. Palacio
First off, this book is HILARIOUS! We laughed hard and often as we read this book.  Wait until you get to the story about the farting nurse....you will laugh so hard you will cry! (And your students will think you are awesome for reading about farts!) Even though this book will tickle your funny bone, the reason I love it most is because it teaches empathy in a way that few other books can.  It is woven into the stories told from each character's point of view. Themes of friendship, perseverance, acceptance, and loyalty are evident throughout the book. (*NOTE* There are some parts of the book that deal with kissing and dating. When I read this aloud to my fourth graders, I left out anything I thought wasn't appropriate for them. They never knew the difference.)

Number 2 - Swindle by Gordon Korman
This book makes for a great read aloud because it is the story of two boys and their friends who appear powerless after a crooked pawn shop owner swindles them out of a valuable baseball card.  Swindle is the story of how they try to get it back.  A mystery of sorts, Swindle is also considered adventure fiction and/or crime ficiton.  The combination of those genres makes for a read that your students won't want you to put down! This book is also part of a series that your students will beg you to read! (Don't you LOVE it when they beg for you to read! It is my favorite! Well that, and when they clap at the end of a book. That makes my heart happy as well!)

Number 1 - Gregor The Overlander by Suzanne Collins
You have to read this book to your students! This is by far my students' favorite book that I read to them every year! Did you notice who the author is? That's right! Suzanne Collins is the same author that wrote The Hunger Games Trilogy! This series of books center around a boy who falls through a grate in his laundry room into the Underland where he discovers he is the warrior that the Underlanders have been waiting for. It is his job to fulfill a set of prophecies with his younger sister, Boots, in tow.  This book is action packed from start to finish.  After I finish this book, my students fight over the copies of the series that are in the library. This is another secret weapon I have to get boys reading! Although, the girls enjoy this just as much as the boys! Take my word for it and just get the whole series!

Happy Reading!

What is your favorite read aloud?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Masterpiece Display

In my classroom, we have floor to ceiling bulletin boards across the entire back of the room.  This has been a blessing and a curse! It is great to have plenty of space to hang things, but it is hard to make is useful without looking cluttered.  Sometimes, it is hard to fill the large spaces.   Since the beginning of the year, one section of my bulletin board has been completely underutilized, and it was driving me nuts!

A few weeks ago, I was blog hopping and came across this post from Learning in Wonderland.  She used a pad of scrapbook paper, clothespins, and ribbon to make a VERY cute and practical bulletin board to display student work.  When I saw it, I knew I could make my own version very easily!

My Bulletin Board

Here are the steps I followed:

1) Find paper that coordinates with your classroom.  I found mine on Amazon.  I knew that I wanted bright and cheery colors because that is what matches my room and this paper worked perfectly!

2) I scrounged through my scrapbooking ribbon until I found enough ribbon that coordinated with the paper and began tying bows.  I am not going to lie, this step took me FOREVER.  Clearly I have some work to do on my bow tying skills! (Confession:  I had to get tutorials from two different people and it STILL took me forever!) If you have any skill in this area, you will be able to tie smallish bows in a reasonable amount of time!

3) I dug out my trusty glue gun and glued one silver tack to the back of each clothespin.  In my inspiration post, she clipped the clothespin right to the paper.  I chose to glue a tack, so the paper wouldn't accidentally rip when students are changing out their work.  Also, this gives me more flexibility in the placement of the student work.  I could easily move the clothespin down to center the work if it is smaller than an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper.

4) While the glue gun was out, I glued one bow to the front of each clothespin.

5) Next, I decided on the arrangement of my papers.  I decided to not follow a prescribed pattern, but to make it somewhat random.  I  made sure that none of the papers that are the same were too close to each other and that they weren't next to a paper that completely clashed.

6) The next step involved a level and a ruler.  If you are good at eyeballing things, you might not need to be as detailed as this.  I used a level to make sure each paper was straight before I stapled it, and I used a ruler to keep the distance between each paper the same. If you want to eyeball it, try using push pins to put the paper up.  Then you can make adjustments where necessary before stapling.

7)  Lastly, add the clothespins and your student's work.  I let my students hang their own work.  I knew they would want to choose their background color.  They loved picking and it added another layer of pride to their already great work.

What is your favorite way to display student work?

Here are all the supplies you need to create your own display:
(Note: These are Amazon links. Disclaimer)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Memories Bucket

I know that your classroom if filled with fun and memorable lessons, activities, discussions and celebrations! One of the best ways I have found to remember all of the amazing things happening in our classroom is to have a memories bucket. 

I usually introduce it at the beginning of the year and have students add to it whenever they really like something that we do.  On one of the last days of school, we open up the bucket and reminisce about all of the great things that we have done since the beginning of the year.

If you don't have a memories bucket yet, now is a great time to start one! There is still half of the school year left and memories from the beginning of the year are still fresh in their minds.  Trust me when I tell you that you won't regret taking a few minutes to get yours set up! The laughter and the memories of what made the school year special is well worth it! You can use the free labels and slips below to get your memory bucket set up! All you need to provide is the container and memories!


Click on the picture above to get your FREE bucket labels and memory recording slips! (Be sure to be logged into your Google account)

If you don't have a Google account, you can download them from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

I am linked up this week at:
Classroom Freebies Manic MondayFreebie Fridays

*Note* I originally saw this idea on Pinterest, but only an image was available. 
Click here to view the original image.

What is your favorite memory of this year?

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