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Friday, September 28, 2012

Linky Parties, Giveaways, & a Flash Sale - Oh My!

It's fall and that means it's time for some teaching fun.  Linky parties are a great way to find products and people/blogs that peak your interest.  Here are a few you may find interesting:

What could be more fun than a giveaway?  Check these out:

It's about time for a sale, a flash sale.  I'm offering 15% off everything in my TpT Store on Sunday, 9/30/12, only.  Hurry or you'll miss it!

Enjoy the last weekend of September!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

SCARECROW Craftivity

Halloween is banned at my school.  So, harvest themes are big for craftivities in the fall. One of my favorite projects is making scarecrows. 

You can get the directions and templates from Google Docs.

Here's the link:

Check out a great Fall linky party by Valerie 

This craftivity is one of the activities you will find in my product, Scarecrows.  

It's available on TpT or Teachers Notebook.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


It's fall!  That means it's harvest time, teachers, ... which means you can turn your attention to scarecrows and all the fun they bring to your classroom.

When I pull out my scarecrow unit, I love to focus on compound words.  After all, SCARECROW is a compound word and it's one of the best ones to explain how compound words work.

Once I've introduced compound words, I immerse my students in them.  For example, I create a farm scene on a bulletin board.  It's amazing how many compound words you can reap on a farm!  Then, as the kiddos identify compound word pictures on the board, we label them.

How many more compounds can you find in this picture?

Once we have acquired a bank of compound words, each student chooses one to illustrate for a barn craftivity.

A display of these barns in the hallway is sure to cause a traffic jam.

We routinely have a shared reading of a poem which later is placed in our poetry center. Each child receives a copy to place in his/her poetry anthology.  The following scarecrow poem affords us the opportunity to find and highlight compound words in text:

Another compound word activity could be used as a center printable, an anchor activity, or something for fast finishers. It's a word find composed of compound words. It's a Google doc so you can grab a copy if you like.

All of these activities and many more are available in my thematic unit, cleverly named "Scarecrows." 

It is available on TpT and TN.  You'll harvest a lot of learning with it.

Teaching My 3
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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Hanging Out with Stellaluna -- Pt. 3

Now that you've read Stellaluna to your class, it's time to extend the learning.  One of my goals with this study is to change my students' attitudes about bats.  To this end, I invite experts to come talk to my class.  I'm fortunate to live in a college town (Go ILLINI!) where it is easy to find a bat expert.  A professor from the U of I's Natural History Museum is kind enough to spend some time with my kiddos and brings lots of cool artifacts.  Moreover, I have a personal friend who is a caver and professor at the local community college.  She also gives her time to my class.

In addition to these awesome resources, I like to read several non-fiction books about bats to my class.  A couple of my favorites are Amazing Bats by Seymour Simon and Bats by Gail Gibbons.

Armed with new knowledge about bats, my class then completes a Venn Diagram comparing bats and birds.  I have always done this with the traditional 2 ovals intersecting in the middle.   Yesterday, as I was perusing Pinterest, I found this idea for putting the diagram on a bat.  Well, duh.

Well done Kinder by Kim!

Being a "poet-tree nut," I just have to include some poetry writing.  We write acrostics --

and bat shaped poems -- 


and stories -- 

Because I teach first grade, I don't assign factual reports to the class.  I do, however, challenge my gifted/enrichment students to create a factual report -- 

We make a bat nursery with origami bats --

and share our learning with the school --

Can you see the echolocation lines in Katie's drawing above?  They are purple lines right beside the bat's head.  

We publish a class book with all of our poems, stories, and reports.  One copy goes in our class library, one copy is given to the school library, and each student takes a copy home.

If you would like more ideas for teaching about bats through Janell Cannon's Stellaluna, check out my Hanging Out with Stellaluna product on TpT or TN.  In addition to the activities already discussed, Hanging Out with Stellaluna includes math journal prompts, origami directions, and center ideas, such as this phonics center vowel sort --

I don't need a standardized test to assess my students' learning.  It's obvious.  


Monday, September 10, 2012

More Pinteresting Boards for Teachers

It's about time, teachers, ... for an update on all the pinteresting collaborative boards for teachers.  

Last week I posted a list of 57 collaborative boards that pertain to elementary teaching. After posting it, I was asked to list contact information for boards that did not give that info in the heading.  

Here's what I found out about those boards that do not make the contact info readily available:

  1. Click on the button "Edit Board."  A list of contributors appears.  For many of these boards, the creator is listed at the top.  Clicking on the creator's name should lead you to contact info.  
  2. For all the other boards with missing contact info, I emailed the creators I could identify to ask permission to publish their contact info.  Sadly, I did not get any permissions.  The best I can suggest is that you go to the Seller's Forum on TpT. Look in the Selling Tips section, as that is where the vast majority of threads on collaborative boards can be found.  There are threads on other portions, as well. Check the Everything Else section since I know there are threads there.

Just this past weekend, Jason @ Jason's Online Classroom started 44 new TpT collaborative boards.  [Can we say, "over-achiever?"]  Go to his pinterest account to check them out:

Of course, you can also find all of the boards I have listed on my pinterest account since I joined all of them!  [Now you can definitely say, "over-achiever!"]  

Almost simultaneous with my original blog post about these boards, Heather @ Creation Castle created a FREE TpT product that lists Collaborative Pinterest Boards.  She has broken the boards down into categories and only included boards with contact info listed.  Her product is dynamic; she'll be adding to the lists as she finds more boards.  

It's time to pin, pin, pin! 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Hanging Out with Stellaluna, Part 2

It's about time, teachers, for more Hanging Out with Stellaluna.  This is the second in a 3 part blog post.  The first post focused on things to do BEFORE reading Stellaluna.  Today I'll address actually reading the book.

The illustrations Janell Cannon made are exceptional.  Her full color panels are captivating and do a wonderful job of making bats cute and lovable. Be sure to give your students plenty of time to enjoy those works of art.

Have you ever noticed the small, pen & ink drawings at the top of each text page? They will not be very apparent to your students unless you enlarge them, at least not while you are reading the book aloud. Those drawings tell a story, too. Challenge your class to explain how the story the pen &  ink drawings tell is different from the full color pictures' story.  

This would be a great time to launch a lesson on point of view.  The pen & ink drawings tell the story from the mother bat's point of view.

As you read the story to your children, invite them to make predictions about the story before you turn the page.  For example, ask them what they think will happen when Stellaluna can't hang on to the branch any longer.  Or, what do they predict the mother bird will do when she finds Stellalluna in her nest with her hatchlings?  What will happen when Pip, Flap, & Flitter try to fly at night?  You get the idea.  

And now it's bedtime, so until next time...

You may also like:

Both of these products are available from my TpT Store or my TN Shop.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Hanging Out with Stellaluna

Do bats give you the willies?  Then it's about time, teachers, that you met Stellaluna.  

Stellaluna is an adorable baby bat that stars in Janell Cannon's award winning book, Stellaluna.  Although the book was published in 1993, it holds timeless appeal for children.  In fact, just this year, School Library Journal named it one of the "Top 100 Picture Books" of all time.  Stellaluna was featured on Reading Rainbow (my all time favorite TV show for children), as well as in the movie, I Am Sam.  It has also been released in an animated version on DVD by MGM & Scholastic.  

If you haven't fallen in love with Stellaluna yet, you need to crawl out from under that rock where you've been hiding!

Before reading this book to my class, I like to do 2 activities.  The first one is designed to gauge their feelings about bats before we study them.  To this end, my students add their name to a graph like this:
[One of my anchor activities each morning is a graph.  My students join the graph of the day upon arriving at school.  There's a new graph every day, so this is a rote action by my kiddos.]

Be sure to save this graph so that you can compare it to your students' feelings about bats AFTER you've studied them.  

The second thing we do is complete a K-W-L chart about bats.  NOW we are ready to read the book.  

By the way, I always pull Stellaluna out in early October.  My school no longer celebrates Halloween.  By studying bats, I can give a nod to this holiday without breaking the rules.  
I hope you will have time to come back soon for more ideas about teaching with Stellaluna.

P.S.  In response to a request, the bat graph is now available via Google Docs.  Use this link: bat graph

You may like these other resources for October:

Both are available in either my TpT Store  or my TN Shop.