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Sunday, December 2, 2018

It's About Time for a Gingerbread Man Unit!

December is the perfect month for a gingerbread man unit.  Just in time for your study, I have 2 literacy centers to extend the learning.

Contraction Cookies is CCSS aligned for grades 1-3, but would be a great resource for kindergarteners who are already proficient readers.  Not surprisingly, it provides practice with contractions.  It is HOLIDAY NEUTRAL, so you can use it with students who do not participate in holiday activities, and/or employ the center at other times of the year.

Gingerbread Man Compound Words also extends your gingerbread man study.  It, too, is CCSS aligned for gr. 1-3.  The compound words are seasonal, but not holiday specific (e.g. peppermint, snowball).  So, once again, this center is appropriate for children who do not join in holiday celebrations.  

Both literacy centers include labels for your center folder, work mats, gingerbread men word cards, recording sheets, and answer keys.

Enjoy your gingerbread man time!

Monday, July 30, 2018

It's about time, teachers, ... 

As a new school year dawns, young children, parents, and teachers are faced with a dilemma: saying goodbye.  Every parent has encountered the tears and heart-wrenching pleas.  Every teacher of young children has ached for the children and parents.  (Separation anxiety works both ways; parents cry, too.)  And, as a teacher with many years of experience in early childhood education, I would like to offer a suggestion for easing this transition...

...establish a transition tradition.

Young children thrive on routine.  They find comfort in being able to predict the events of the day.  They find reassurance in repetitive, positive procedures.  Thus, teachers can help ease these transitions by encouraging parents and children to establish a parting protocol. One transition tool is teaching children and care-givers to give a quick, fun, light-hearted good-bye.

Most people are familiar with these:

In my quest to establish a forest friends' classroom, I challenged myself to create such sayings using forest animals.  Here's a sampling:

At our parent information meeting before school starts, I plan to have this set of posters displayed near the door.  Drawing the parents' attention to them, I will encourage them, along with their children, to select a pair of favorite phrases for their farewells. In my experience, the tearful transitions will quickly give way to smiling sendoffs.

If you are creating a forest friends' classroom, you may like these products:

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Forest Friends' Classroom Decor 30% Off!

It's about time that I refreshed and refurbished some of my TpT store products.  I've been hard at work this summer doing just that.  

To celebrate finishing the updates on these products, they are currently 30% off.  


I still have products in the bundle to update, but I decided to offer the bundle at a discount, too.  If you opt for it, you will receive notices as I update the remaining components.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Big Birthday Bundle Bash!!

Help me celebrate!  I have dozens of bundles and they are all 50% off through 6/25/18.  As an instructional coach, I have products for all elementary grade levels.  

Here's the link to my store

Sunday, June 10, 2018

What are Hink Pinks?

It's about time, teachers, for Hink Pinks!  If you have ever used Hink Pinks in your teaching, you know how much kiddos love them.  If you are new to Hink Pinks, you are in for a treat!

  • Hink Pinks are word riddles.
  • Hink Pinks are fun word riddles.
  • Hink Pinks are fun word riddles with rhyming answers.
  • Hink Pinks are word play.
  • Hink Pinks are fun word play that expands vocabulary.
  • Hink Pinks are fun word play that expands and extends students' vocabulary.  
  • Hink Pinks are fun critical thinking exercises.
  • Hink Pinks are fun critical thinking exercises that help students learn to interpret data.
  • Hink Pinks are fun critical thinking exercises that help students make inferences.
  • Hink Pinks are fun critical thinking exercises that help students draw conclusions.
  • Hink Pinks are fun critical thinking exercises that teach students to analyze new information.
  • Hink Pinks are serious learning disguised as fun.

  • Read the clues.
  • Think of a 2 word answer.
    • The answer words must rhyme.
    • Each answer word must have just 1 syllable.
For example:
Did you figure it out?  The answer is barn yarn.

  • as a literacy center
    • Place several Hink Pink cards at your literacy center.  Direct your students to work cooperatively or individually; whichever works best for your group.  Encourage research by placing dictionaries and thesauri at the center.
  • as a warm-up activity
    • Settle your group and direct their focus by collaboratively solving several Hink Pinks at the outset of your lesson.  This works particularly well if you are conducting a pull out or push in program.
  • as a sponge activity
    • We all face those awkward few minutes when our lesson ends early and we cannot move on to the next part of our schedule because of time constraints.  Or we arrive early at a special class and must wait patiently for a few minutes.  Carry a few Hink Pink cards with you and use the time to challenge your class.  Any time is a good time for critical thinking!
  • as an anchor activity
    • Engage your students' brains the moment they enter your classroom by posting a few Hink Pink clues each day.  Train your students to work on solving them while you take attendance, lunch count, etc.  Then discuss the answers at your morning meeting.
  • as a fast finishers' challenge
    • The biggest disadvantage to this use is that the children love them so much, they may rush through their work just to get time to solve these riddles.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.2.5 Demonstrate understanding of word relationships and nuances in word meanings. 
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.3.5 Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships and nuances in word meanings. 
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.4.5 Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
    • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.4.5c Demonstrate understanding of words by relating them to their opposites (antonyms) and to words with similar but not identical meanings (synonyms).
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.5.5 Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings. 
    • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.5.5c Use the relationship between particular words (e.g., synonyms, antonyms, homographs) to better understand each of the words. 
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.6.5 Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings. 
    • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.6.5c Distinguish among the connotations (associations) of words with similar denotations (definitions).
You might have already guessed that I have a few Hink Pink products in my store.  If you want to try them before you buy them, several sets are FREE!  


If you like Hink Pinks, I have dozens of them and most have been combined into money saving bundles.  Check them out!

Monday, June 4, 2018

10 Reasons You Should Use Poetry in Teaching

10 reasons you should use poetry in teaching:
  1. Poetry enables educators to teach their charges how to find meaning in any text. Figures of speech and literary devices are more readily identified and understood when introduced through poetry (think ELL).
  2. You can teach grammar by parsing a poem.  Students can more readily find and identify parts of speech, inflectional forms, syntactic relations, structure, and morphology when working with a brief poem.
  3. By examining how poets deviate and/or corrupt the use of punctuation, teachers can draw attention to the power of punctuation (think e e cummings).
  4. Poetry facilitates the teaching of writing. Skills such as precise descriptions and economical use of words can be honed through poetry (think Mark Twain's famous quote, "I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.")
  5. Because poetry eschews rules of grammar, otherwise reluctant writers may be more inclined to express themselves in this genre (think song lyrics and rap).
  6. Poetry can give students an outlet for their emotions. Judith Viorst's poetry is excellent for demonstrating this.
  7. Reading poetry aloud can build trust and empathy in the classroom.
  8. Reading poetry aloud promotes speaking and listening skills. Poetry is widely recognized as an efficient means of promoting fluency.
  9. Through poetry, teachers can foster creative expression. In the age of CCSS and multiple choice, standardized testing, creative expression is too often sacrificed.
  10. You should teach students to love literature and this is easily accomplished through poetry.  


You may be interested in these products that will help you use poetry in teaching:

Sunday, May 20, 2018


It's about time, teachers, for a flash freebie!

Today, for a while, this product is absolutely free.  Grab it while you can.  Then, please leave feedback on TpT.  TYIA.

You may also like:

Friday, May 11, 2018

Unbearably Cute Critical Thinking Puzzles

It's about time, teachers, for a new product.

If you are looking for a challenge that is beary good for promoting problem solving, honing critical thinking skills, and increasing stamina, this is it!

Bears Square Puzzlers are unbearably cute and differentiated. They are perfect for enrichment, fast finishers, centers, and are especially helpful at times when the class may be restless (think end of the year, holidays, field trips, etc.). The attention and concentration required to solve these puzzles will settle any group.

✔ Three bear themed Square Puzzlers
    ✓ The 2x2 square is perfect for introducing the task. It is also most appropriate for K - 2nd grade students. 
    ✓The 3x3 square is quite challenging and can be used successfully with 2nd – 5th grade students.

      ✓ The 4x4 square is for experts! 
 Labels for your center storage envelopes.

 Centers or work stations
 Fast finishers' challenge
 G/T students
 Critical thinking exercise
✔ Individual, partner, or small group collaboration

And, for the first 48 hours, Bears Square Puzzlers are 50% off!  So hurry on over and scoop it up.

In case you find these brain teasers as engaging as I think you will, I have just finished updating and refreshing all of the square puzzlers in my TpT store.  There are square puzzlers for most holidays (the Christmas version is FREE).  Moreover, there are square puzzlers for each season, a bundle of the season puzzles, and several square puzzlers that pertain to a theme.

Remember, square puzzlers require time and concentration to solve.  They are the perfect activity to settle a restless class as the end of the year.

Update 5/12/18:

I just completed a bundle of the Holiday Square Puzzlers.  It is now available in my store at 50% off through Sunday night (5/13/18).