Move It, Move It, Move It

In yesterday's post, I gave you suggestions for songs I have used with my students for brain breaks.  Music is the perfect cure for the spring fever wiggles.

Movement in the classroom also serves other purposes.  Crossing midline is an important activity that should be incorporated into your schedule.  Read this article for more information about the importance of this activity.  My students practice this skill during calendar time each day.  If you peeked into my classroom, you would think my class was doing aerobics!  This directions for this activity is included with my FREE Skip Counting Birds packet.  Click on the picture to get your copy:

I included a skip counting by 2's math center in my Skip Counting Birds packet for you to try.  If you like the activity and would like the set of skip counting by 2's, 3's, 4's, 5's, 6's, 7's, 8's, 9's, and 10's, you can purchase the complete set at my TPT store for $3.
There is a colorful page like this for each number.  I would suggest putting these sheets in a page protector and letting your students write their answer with a marker.

There is also a page like this that students can color.

Here's a fun rap video you can show your class, too.
Add caption
2 minutes 36 seconds


Brain Breaks

Brain Breaks are a great way to refocus your students when they have a case of the wiggles.  Why not give them a great way to get their wiggles out so they can focus on their school work?

My favorite brain break involves music and movement.  I absolutely love Greg & Steve - We All Live Together CDs,  and your students will, too!

My favorite songs for movement are:

Volume #1:  Skip to My Loo

Volume #2:  Listen & Move, The Boogie Walk, and The Freeze

Volume #3:  Shapes

When we listen to the Shapes song, I pass out shapes glued to popsicle sticks. Students stand and hold up their shapes when the song tells them to stand up.


For more ideas, visit Rachel @ Minds in Bloom Move to Learn linky party.


Early bird catches the worm!

You know the expression, the early bird catches the worm?  Well, when it comes to curriculum, the early bird catches mistakes.  Many of you have been buying my "Documenting Common Core Standards" packets for next school year.  One of the teachers who bought one of these packets was an early bird.  This early bird teacher is already working on her plans for next school year.  Pretty amazing, right?  She found an alignment problem when she printed the standards labels and was nice enough to let me know about it.  When I printed the labels with the Open Office program that I made the labels with, they printed correctly.  But, went I printed the pdf file of labels, the labels weren't printing correctly on the labels.  I made sure I had the updated version of Open Office and Adobe, but it didn't solve the problem.   After many, many hours of moving this label and that label down a row or two, convert it to pdf, and print it, I finally got a set of labels that was lined up correctly in the pdf format.  But, I could see how labor intensive and costly in labels this was going to be.  Plus, I might want to include labels in future lesson packets.  So, what's a girl to do, but go shopping!  I thought Microsoft Word would solve all my label pdf problems.  Wrong!  I found the same pdf issue when I used this program.  UGH!  If someone in cyber-land knows how to solve this problem, please e-mail me.  The first person who can tell me what I'm doing wrong will get to go on a $20 shopping trip in my TPT store.  Email me at:

Until someone can tell what I'm doing wrong, I knew I needed to fix this problem.  What I did was make all new labels with Microsoft Word and saved them as a word doc.  There are two versions of each label.  One with lines and one without lines.  Here are examples:

I thought teachers who plan to print these files on labels would want the ones without lines.  The ones with lines would be helpful if you plan to copy these files in the copier, cut them apart and have your students glue them in their documentation books.  The advantage of the word doc. is if you want to make a page of one standard you can cut and paste from these files to a make a new sheet easily.  With every dark cloud, there is a silver lining.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE!  If you know what I'm doing wrong, please help me.  I use labels a lot!  I can't make labels with clipart in a word doc.  Due to copyright issues, I have to save clipart in pdf files.  Plus, if I use a font that you don't have on your computer, the labels wouldn't look the same in a word doc.


Math Center: Graphing Boxes

Do you shop at Staples very often?  I swear I should get a stipend for all the publicity I do for them.  But, I love Staples, and I can't resist telling you about the great stuff they carry.  On my latest trip, I bought these:

The package of small plastic containers was $2 and each of the bag of 36 erasers was $1.

Do you ever do this?  Look at something like this at a store, and then try to come up with a lesson to use them with.  I do that all the time!  I think it's one of those inductive-deductive things.  Some teachers probably begin with the lesson and then shop for supplies.  I do reverse of that.  Shopping inspires me!

I think these would be great in a graphing center.  Students will choose a box that they want to use to graph.  There are graphing templates and sorting sheets.  Students need to sort the shapes first so they'll know which graphing sheet to use.  Some boxes have 3 different shapes.  The packages come with more than 3 shapes, but I only put 3 different ones in one of the boxes.  Other boxes have different amounts of shapes which is why they need to sort first.  After sorting, they will make a graph using the correct template.  They need to write the title, number it, write the names of the shapes, and graph the amount of shapes that was in the box.  They need to write the number of the box so you'll be able to grade their assignment.

This type of center has so many positives.  It is quick and easy to set up.  You can add a seasonal touch by adding seasonal objects such as:  feathers in November, small ornaments in December, different colored hearts or conversation hearts in February, and the list goes on and on.  If you are studying shapes in math, put attribute blocks in your graphing boxes.

I just finished revising this packet.  If you previously purchased it, you may go to "my purchases" to download the new version for free.

I added some sorting and graphing forms with a royal theme.  These would be a perfect addition to a fairy tale unit.  I found the crown jewels (plastic rocks) and glittery box in the picture at Dollar Tree.  The crown is from a Halloween store.  I love these rocks because they are so versatile.  Use orange and black ones for a Halloween sorting & graphing center.  They come in a variety of colors.

There are colorful and black and white sorting sheets.  Sorting and graphing pages come in:  2's (sort and graph two different objects), 3's, 4's, and 5's so you can differentiate.  At the beginning of the year you will probably want to begin with sorting two objects and add more objects as your students become proficient at this skill.

There are two different assignments for your early finishers.  Students can make patterns with the objects they graphed.  Then they can write a story about the objects that they sorted.

Click HERE to read more about this. Please download the preview file.


Mother's Day & Graphic Novels

Do you have students who have absolutely no interest whatsoever in reading a book?  Doesn't it just break your heart!   You've tried everything in your bag of tricks to share your love of books, but nothing has worked.  The thing I found interesting about these students is, their lack of love for reading doesn't necessarily mean they are poor readers.  In fact, I've had some high readers who never read for pleasure.  Sometimes I've found the trouble is a limited attention span.  These students are often overwhelmed by all the words they see on a page and shut down mentally when they see a book that has "too many pages" (their opinion).  These students do better with non-fiction books because the reading is divided into bite-sized pieces.

 Graphic novels are another type of book that will hold these readers' attention.  Here's a great article you should read.  These books appeal to boys and girls.  A favorite of my students is the Baby Mouse series.  Boys love all the ones about Superheroes.

I put together a new packet called "My Mother is My Superhero" which has activities about superheroes.  Students make a book, which I thought would be a great Mother's Day gift.  This unit can be taught at any time of the year, but with Mother's Day right around the corner, this seemed like a great time to use it.  Activities include:

My Mom is My Superhero (book)
Front cover page
Writing page: My Mom's super power is . . .
Design your superhero's logo and write about it
Comic strip: Write a comic strip about your superhero

Book Center
Non-fiction worksheet
Fiction worksheet
Book list of books about superheroes and moms includes: title, author, reading level, and fiction/non-fiction

Language Arts worksheets:
ABC order
How many words can you make from SUPERHERO?
Palindrome worksheet
Writing worksheets
Comparison: Fill out chart comparing two superheroes and
then complete a venn diagram

Math Center
Superhero Scrabble: Choose words from the word bank, find
the letters' scrabble value, and add the amount.
Available at TPT for $4.

Isn't the clipart cute?  Teacher Tam made it.  Go check out her great stuff!

Celebrating Birthdays at School

How do you celebrate birthdays with your students?  Some schools do not allow special snacks (a.k.a. cupcakes), in those cases it takes more creativity on the teachers part to make a students feel special on their special day.


I like to give my students a small gift to open.
These are from Oriental Trading.  They cost $3.75/dozen.

I put in small things like glittery pencils, pencil grips, and silly bands.

These are from Oriental  Trading.  They cost $1.99/50.

The added bonus of these gift bags is they will add color to your classroom.  I like to cut the tops of the sack off with decorative scissors, fold over the top, and staple it.  Then  hang them from a clothes line in the classroom.  I had mine hanging in front of a row of windows.  I hung the sacks on the clothes line in a pattern, secured it with a clothes pin, and TADAH!  You now have a colorful addition to your classroom.  


Through the years, I have had mixed feelings about having a Star Student.  Yes, I think each child needs a time devoted to him or her so he or she feels special.  But, it never fails!  I will type up the schedule for the entire year and give it to parents at the Back to School night so they can put it on their calendar.  Plus, I add a reminder in my weekly newsletter and send home a reminder note to parents the week before.  After all of this communication, a parent will forget and then wants to reschedule or a parent wants to take their child out of town that week to go to Disneyland and wants to reschedule.  The trouble is, I've already wrote and copied my newsletters for the next three weeks.  So, now I have to revise my newsletter and make more copies.  The solution to all of this is a BIRTHDAY STAR!  How many students are out of town on their birthday?  Very few I'm sure.  How many parents forget their child's birthday?  Zero.  Birthday stars have special privileges!  The star gets to:

*Choose a game or activity for your classmates. A few
choices include: Heads Up 7-Up, chalkboard races, or free
choice centers.
*Share your favorite book
*Share your favorite toy, game, or stuffed animal

Our class makes the Birthday Star a book, too.

I am joining Denise @ Sunny Days's  birthday linky party.  Thank you Denise for hosting this party.


All teachers can use clothes pins

When making your shopping list for the new year, one thing that should be on your list is clothes pins.  This invention, is small but mighty.  It's a great organizational tool!

Colorful clothes pins are a challenge to find, but well worth the effort.  I bought mine years ago at Wal-Mart.  I use mine for "sorting" my students into groups.  For lunch, my students were grouped into: 1st choice, 2nd choice, milk only, and lunchbox.  Each day, I would clip the blue on the students' lunch tickets that were milk only,  green pins on the students' lunch tickets that chose 1st choice,  orange pins on the students' lunch tickets that chose 2nd choice, and students without a lunch ticket (the lunchbox students) clipped a red clip on their shirt.  We lined up in this order everyday.  I had squares taped to the floor with these colors so students would know where to line up.  I had a helper that would clip the clothes pins to the lunch tickets.  Lunch tickets were then arranged on a table in color groups.  It made lining up for lunch much smoother.  The cafeteria helpers really liked the system because they could see at a glance how many 1st choice and 2nd choice trays they needed to make.  You can also use these pins when you sort students into other groups such as center groups or literature circles.


Wooden clothes pins can be found everywhere.  Although cheap varieties can be found, I do think you get your money's worth when you buy better quality ones.  The cheap clothes pins break easily!  Here are a couple of uses:

Warm ups:  Before a writing lessons, give each student a clothes pin and put on music.  Instead of clapping to the music, students open and close the clothes pin.  This will warm up their muscles.

Participation:  One of the best ways I've found to ensure all students participate in lessons is with wooden clothes pins.  All of my students are assigned a number at the beginning of the year.  I write numbers, not names, on the clothes pins so I can use the same pins year after year.  I have a different bucket for the different lessons so I can ensure that all students will eventually have a turn to participate in all the different lessons.  I love the dollar buckets at Party City for this.  Here's a picture of a few of them:
Each time I call on a student, I clip the pin to the rim of the bucket.  The buckets are great, because you can carry them from place to place, such as the computer lab or to your carpet area or reading table.

This system is great for Smart Board lessons.  Not every student gets to help with my Smart Board lessons.  There was some confusion the next day, when I asked who got to help the day before.  Of course, very few student remembered helping, but wanted to help that day.  I found this is the cure for "selective memory".  


Word Bank - easy sub plans

When I taught kindergarten, I loved to read the series of books by Jane Belk Moncure called "My ___ book".  She wrote a book for each letter of the alphabet.  These books were the perfect introduction to whatever letter we were focusing on at the time.

After reading the book, we made a word bank and then played the "boy-girl game".  I wrote up instructions for how I used this book and made a few printables to share with you.  The instructions are easy to follow and would be easy sub plans the next time you need to be absent from school.  There are 3 different worksheets to choose from.  Two of them look alike except for the font.  Some teachers prefer font that looks like printed handwriting, while others like a more artsy look so I made one of each.  There is also a worksheet that has the students write a sentence.  These can be used to differentiate the assignment.

Click to get your free copy!

I am joining Sally @ Elementary Matters linky party.


Sponge activities - a.k.a. FILLERS
What do you do when you have a few extra minutes in the classroom?  You want to make the most of your time and make every minute count, what sponge activities do you use with your class?  My friend, Heather @ Hojo's Teaching Adventures is going to make a pinterest board of free activities.  I thought I would list a few and ask my followers to add to the list so we can share our ideas with the teaching world.

Have your students line up in two lines.  Choose one student to be the score keeper.  You sit/stand in front of the line with flashcards.  Flashcards can be whatever you are currently studying:  math facts, spelling words, state capitols, or any other facts.  You will show the two students in front of the line the flashcard.  Whoever answers it correctly first earns the team point.  If a team is too loud, erase a point.  After answering, students go to the end of the line.

This works perfect when you are waiting in line!  You give your students math problems such as 3 + 2 + 6 + 1 = ____.  Let volunteers answer the problem.  When someone gives the correct answer, ask the student what strategies he/she used.

This works great when it's clean up time!  Only students
who are cleaned up and sitting in their seats may participate.
You give one student a bumpy ball.  He or she gently tosses
it to another student.  If a student drops the ball, gets up
out of his/her seat, or talks, they are out of the game.  Keep
playing until you are down to the last student.
**Credit for this game goes to Sandy, my daughter's 6th
grade core teacher.



Reading Recovery Techniques in the Classroom

Heather @ Hojo's Teaching Adventures is having a  linky party called:

I am not a reading specialist.  But, I did enjoy a workshop called Connect which was given by reading specialists.  The workshop taught classroom teachers how to use reading recovery techniques in the classroom.  We were given many wonderful ideas.  Here is a link that gives an overview of Reading Recovery that is very informative. 
One of my favorite tips that I have used quite often is the "cut up story" technique.  Read about it in the link above.  

My reading specialists also suggested using "boo-boo stickers".  These are white circle stickers that the students use when they make a mistake.  Instead of erasing the word, they cover it up with a "boo-boo sticker".  I couldn't find a picture of white stickers, but here is a picture of red ones.

I included this activity in my Reading Tips and Tidbits packet.  The activity is called sentence puzzles.  You can use it in a small group setting or as a literacy center.
I also like how students are taught to hear sounds in words using boxes.  You can read about that in the link above in the "Hearing and Recording Sounds in Words" section.  I loved this activity so much I included it in my Word Work for Primary Students packet.  I call it "sound boxes".  There is also an extension of the activity that can be set up as a literacy center.