What do you do when you get sick in the middle of the night?


If you teach long enough, you'll eventually get to join the "Oh! No! . . . Club".  Which really means, "Oh!  No, why didn't I organize my emergency sub plans at the beginning of the year when my principal suggested it?!!!"  We've all been there and done that at one point or another, and hopefully learned from our mistake.  How does the old saying go . . . plan for the worst, but hope for the best.  That should be the motto for all teachers.

Through trial and error, notes left from substitutes telling me the information that I forgot to leave in my Benadryl-induced haze, and talking to substitutes in the teachers' lounge, I developed an emergency sub kit that will give you peace of mind because you know your class is running smoothly.  According to the substitutes or guest teachers, this kit has information that teachers frequently forget to leave, but they need.

When I went out on maternity leave, which is the Mt. Everest of sub plans, I knew I wanted my students' education to continue to be at the same high standards, but I also realized that a long term sub was going to be so busy learning our procedures and all the other day-to-day stuff, that I wanted to help her out with some of the busy work.  At the time, I was teaching kindergarten and part of our routine was morning message on chart tablet paper.  It took a good chunk of time to write these messages each day.  I felt like my LTS's time could be better spent doing other things.  So, I tried a new method of morning messages.  I typed up my morning messages.  Each student got their own copy and I showed an example on the overhead projector (yes, this was 12 years ago).  The first couple of times we completed it together, then we graduated to the students at their table-teams working together to complete the assignment and sharing their team's answers at the end , and in the end almost all of the students were able to complete the morning message independently.  Below is a packet with 5 morning messages that you can try out.  These work great for emergency sub plans or those days when you get pulled from class for a last minute meeting.  If you like this, there are more morning message lessons for sale on TPT.

This is the complete kit.
TPT - $5


Reading Group Lesson: I SPY game


Are you looking for something new to use with your reading groups?  Try playing a new version of I SPY with your groups.  The great thing about this game is it can be used with groups on 3 different reading levels.  Or it can also be used as a quick warm up activity.  
Included in this packet are:
-18 Game boards
6 boards on 1st grade level
6 boards on 2nd grade level
6 boards on 3rd grade level
-3 teacher word lists
-9 i-spy pointers
-25 paw prints
-2 happy notes
**You could also use these game
boards as BINGO CARDS.

Each grade level's game board has a different background.  

Example of 1st grade:


Example of 2nd grade:


Example of 3rd grade:


Students earn a paw print when they identify and read the word first.  The student with the most paw prints at the end of the game earns a happy note.

This game is sold at TPT and TN for $4.

Link to TPT Store

Link to Teachers Notebook store


Phonics Families

I just finished a new packet that is FREE.  

This packet has signs for the following:  ar, er, ir, or, ur, oo, ing, ch, sh, and th.

This "double check" form can be used as a resource for your students to keep in their writing folders.

For some extra fun, add a tech connection!  Let your students type their words on the website called  wordle.net.  Here are some examples:





Reading Comprehension

I am joining a Reading Comprehension linky party that is hosted by Rachel @ Minds in Bloom.  Thank you Rachel!

Figuratively speaking, when you are on the road to reading comprehension, there are many forks in the road.  Do you want to travel down Connections Blvd. or should you take a right turn onto Summarize Drive?  Different stories and different genres, lend themselves better to some strategies rather than others.  Author's purpose is an important key to understanding non-fiction text.  Did the author write the story to persuade you to his opinion or is he giving you the information so you can make your own judgement? 

Here's a worksheet that you can use the next time you "travel" down Author's Purpose Ave.


This worksheet is a part of my packet called "On the road to Comprehension" which includes worksheets for the following skills:
   *Author's purpose & sign
   *Cause & effect
   *Main idea and details:  non-fiction
   *Main idea:  fiction



Class library


Class libraries, something all classrooms need, can be an organizational challenge.  It seems like everyone has a different way of organizing their class library.  Some prefer grouping books by authors, others by topics, while others prefer genres.   No matter how you group your books, there are a few things I always try to include.

Reading levels is one of the first things.  The best websites I've found to get this information is Scholastic Book Wizard.  This site gives you:  interest level, grade equivalent, lexile level, DRA level, guided reading level, genre, topics, and a summary.  All of this information at your fingertips for free!  I write the grade equivalent level on the inside cover.  Through the years, I've heard opinions from teachers who are for and against telling students their reading levels.  To me it's a philosophy . . . . a.k.a there is no right or wrong answer, it's whether you make it work for you or against you.  I've always had good luck giving my students this information.  What I've found through the years is some parents think their child's oral reading ability is their child's reading level.  This is a problem when the child's reading comprehension level doesn't match their oral reading ability.  Or a parent will look at their child reading a really long book and assume he or she must be on a middle school or high school reading level (when they are in elementary school).  Rick Riordan's new book Red Pyramid, which is on a grade equivalent level of 3.7, is a perfect example.  A 3rd grader reading this book might look impressive because it has over 500 pages of literary enjoyment.  In reality, this book is on their grade level.  You know the old saying don't judge a book by it's cover?  It's so true!

Genre!  Genre!  Genre!  If you teach older students you realize how important this word is.  Many moons ago, when I began teaching first grade, there wasn't a whole lot of emphasis placed on teaching genre.  We might mention it, but not give it much attention.  After teaching 3rd grade and helping my daughter's sixth grade teacher, I can tell you that your fellow upper-grade teachers would be very happy for any extra help you can give on this topic.  Why you ask?  Genre can be a little tricky.  Books can fit into more than one genre.  Look at the Scholastic Book Wizard and you'll see that many of the books that you look up have 2 or 3 genres listed under the title.  As an additional little boost, I write the genre(s) on the inside cover of my books, under the reading level.  Anything you can do will be appreciated!

Last week I was in the computer lab and saw a book on the back counter.  I could tell it was from a classroom library, but there wasn't a name of a teacher anywhere on it.  Luckily, it had a colored dot sticker on the outside and I knew this was a teacher's genre coding system.  Without the sticker, this book would have been in the  lost and found box forever.  OK, maybe a slight exaggeration, but you know what I mean.  If you don't feel like writing your name 400 times in all 400 books you own, and buying that many labels would be cost prohibitive, I've got a solution for you.  Hop over to Vista Print.  They can make you a stamp with your name.  I think they are running a special on the stamp right now.  You can read about it here:


Late Work

Dealing with late work is my least favorite task!  It doesn't matter what age of students you teach or how wonderful your students behave, there is always a handful of students who suffer from "Late Work-itis"!  I've tried many different approaches with different ages of students and finally found a combination that works for me.  I put it together in a new packet that I just added to TPT.


The 5 Love Languages


The first time I read the book, The Five Love Languages,  was like the first time I went to the eye doctor and was fitted with a pair of eyeglasses.  Suddenly, I looked at the world in a whole new way.  Everything was crisp and clear!  This book made me see people and relationships in a more clear way.  The author, Gary Chapman, found in his marriage therapy practice that couples express and interpret love through five languages:  words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch.  

There are Love Language books about children in regards to family relationships, but I think the principles of this book can easily be applied in a school setting as well.  Think about your class, do you have a student who frequently brings you a little gift?  Maybe he/she picked a flower from his/her flowerbed or gave you a new a packet of stickers.  This student's LL is receiving/giving gifts.  Do you have a student who always wants to be your helper?  This student pushes in all the students' chairs before coming to circle time or realizes you forgot your whistle at recess time before you do and brings it to you.  This student is showing acts of service.  What about the student who always wants to hold your hand when he or she is line leader?  His or her L.L. might be physical touch.  Have you noticed how when you compliment you class some students sit up a little straighter and  with other students it has little impact?  The students sitting up straighter are probably in the words of affirmation group.  During this month of love, try an experiment, see if you can identify the love languages of a small group of students that you have concerns with. Those students who are falling through the cracks, the behavior problems, the quiet student who is reluctant to participate, and see if reaching them their their love language makes a connection.  You might be pleasantly surprised with the results!

I am linking up with Dana @Fun in 1st Grade.  Hop over to her blog!