Martin Luther King Jr. resources

It is almost January so it's time to begin planning for Martin Luther King Jr day.  I found some resources and made a new packet for the holiday.


Online quiz

Photos with captions about Dr. King.

Jeopardy game

Song by Harry Kindergarten 


This is my favorite video to show.  Please note: This is a VHS link.  I couldn't find a DVD link to show you.  Your school may already have this video.


Cost: $4
Click HERE if you wish to purchase it.

5 morning messages about Martin Luther King Jr.
Click HERE to read more about this packet.

I am joining Denise @ Sunny Days in Second Grade linky party.  Click on the picture below to find more MLK Jr. resources:


New addition to Buggy for Reading

The beginning of the year is always a good time for reflection.  What works, what doesn't work, what needs to be tweaked so that you can continue to grow and improve  both personally and professionally.  One of the things I am working on is revising some of my lesson packets.  I just finished updating my Preprimer level-Buggy for Reading packet.  It originally was a zipfile but is now in a PDF format.  I also added a new activity called "Sentence Shuffle".  Those of you who have already purchased this packet may go to "my purchases" and get the new version for free.

I also made a sample that you can download for free.

This form is used with your reading group. Students read the sentences.  You rate their fluency the first time they read it, marking it at the bottom of the page and send it home for homework.  Parents will rate their child's fluency the next two times their child reads the sentence.

This form can be used as a handwriting assignment, writing center, or homework assignment.

This is the new activity that I added to this packet.  

Click HERE to download the freebie
Click HERE to visit purchase this packet.


Line up procedures

Have you seen the "line starts here" signs when you are out and about doing your holiday shopping? The sign also has an arrow to make it crystal clear where you are expected to stand in line to wait your turn.  Yet, how many times have you had it happen that either someone walks up to the cash register (bypassing the line altogether) or they come and stand next to you in line, Not BEHIND you, but NEXT to you?  Is this something that's happening all across America or is it just in my little corner of the world?

After this has happened too many times to count lately, I began thinking about the whole lining up topic.  I went to kindergarten a really long time ago and let me tell you, "back in the day" as they say on Pawn Stars, even kindergarteners were taught how to line up AND even walk in a straight line.   When I first began teaching, the school that I was at had such high expectations about the way we lined up our students,  that they put a line on the floor that ran down each side of the hallway.  Students were taught to put a foot on each side of the line.  I had 32 first graders, yet I somehow managed to teach those 6 years how to line up and walk in a straight line.   Why is this such a difficult concept for adults at a mall when the store has given such clear directions?  Are teachers no longer expecting students to line up and walk in a line?

 Here are a few tips I thought I'd pass along.  I would love to hear your ideas, too.

One of the best ways I found to line up students is in number order.  Each student is assigned a number at the beginning of the year.  It's their order for lining up.  Each week there is a line leader and caboose so there are 2 students who aren't in the correct order.  This stops all of the "he's cutting in line" complaints that you normally hear.  Initially students may complain about the order.  Once they figure out that everyone will eventually be the line leader and everyone will eventually be the caboose, they don't complain about the fact that #2 is always closer to the front of the line than #18.  It is much easier to see if you are missing students when you pick them up from recess using this system.  Your students will have the line order memorized before you will, so they will quickly tell you who is missing.  We don't line up in number order to walk to our spots for the fire drill.  But, once we are outside, we get in our proper order so we can see if anyone is missing.

You can add a little math when you line up your students if you tape numbers on the floor.  This shows students where they are going to stand.  Add a seasonal touch by changing the numbers each season.  In the fall use orange / yellow, in the winter use red / green, in the spring use pink / red, and at the end of the year use orange / green.  Sometimes I use one color for each number.  Example:  in December all of the odd numbers would be red and all of the even numbers would be green.  When lining up ask students with an odd number to line up first.  Your students will quickly learn odd and even numbers.  Another example: in February, make all of the numbers in the ones place red and all the numbers in the tens place pink.  When lining up you can give different problems like:  *If your number has an odd number in the tens place, you may line up.  *If your number in the ones place is equal to 3 + 4, you may line up.  Your students will quickly become mental math wizards!

Click on the picture below to find some great freebies.

Freebie Fridays


Tips for Grief

This past week, one of my dear friends that I taught with several years ago emailed me about one of her students.  The student's father had passed away unexpectedly. She wanted to help her student at school and was looking for ideas.  In my twenty years of teaching experience,  I've only had one student go through this.  I am thankful that I am not very experienced with this.

The next day, my mom called and told me to turn on the news.  This was the day of the tragedy in Connecticut.  At this time, we as a country are grieving in our own way.  I do think teachers feel the loss differently, though.  It's taken away our sense of safety in the work place.  Maslow recognized the importance of personal safety.  Maslow's hierarchy of needs places safety on the second level.  It is such a basic need that is taken for granted on a daily basis. Teachers enter the profession because our love of children and our passion for learning.  It is unimaginable that something like this could happen at an elementary school.  The worse thing we should have to worry about is being exposed to a cold or flu virus.  We have no way to defend ourselves or the children in our care.  I think it will be some time before we come to terms with what happened.  In the meantime, you might have a student who is going through the stages of grief in your class and be able to use the tips below.

TIP #1:  Watch for triggers 

Thankfully, I have only had one student who experienced the loss of a parent.  My student's mother died the summer before she entered my class.  The father and the family had a good support system which helped.  Initially, I didn't see any behavior problems.  But, then a few weeks into the school year, my student began to take my other students' snacks.  My students always brought her own snack from home so I wasn't sure why she was taking my other students' snack.  Her father sent her two snacks thinking she was hungry, maybe going through a growth spurt.  The problem continued.  I finally noticed my students' conversations at the beginning of snack time.  When they were getting out their snack they asked each other "what did your mom send you for snack today?".  I think the conversation was reminding her what she was missing on a daily basis.  It was putting salt into her open wound.  I spoke to my counselor about the issue.  We worked out a deal where I sent my student to the counselor every day a few minutes before snack time.  The counselor kept a basket of snacks in her office that the father provided.  My student chose a snack and the counselor chatted with her for a few minutes.  It allowed the counselor time to check in with my student. My student knew that if she ever needed to talk to the counselor, she had this designated time. By the time my student came back to the classroom, I made sure all the "what did your mom pack today" conversations were over.   The snack issue was solved.

TIP #2:  Feelings journal

The student may behave differently . . . withdrawn, more friction with their friends, frequent visits to the nurse, staring off into space, aggressive, crying frequently, clingy with you, wanting your approval for school work, falling asleep at school because of sleep problems at home, coming in tardy at school because of problems going to sleep at home, and many others.  When your student is having trouble - not able to concentrate on work or get along with classmates - let him/her write in a feelings journal.  Ahead of time set up a special place (quiet place in classroom) that your student can go to work in their feelings journal.  Ahead of time introduce the feelings journal to your student.  A feelings journal can be a plain spiral notebook that you let your student decorate.  In the work place, put special crayons, glitter pencils, and other special supplies.  When your student needs to work in the journal, tell him/her that he/she can draw or write whatever he/she wants.  If you have time, let him/her either read what he/she wrote or dictate sentences to you.  This gives him/her a chance to talk about his/her feelings.

Tip #3:  Give the parent a break

The months after the death of a spouse is stressful on so many different levels.  When you have a small child, the stress grows exponentially.  As a teacher, don't add to the parent's stress level by sending home piles of homework.  Reading homework is enough homework for this year.  This is something that can be done at bedtime.  If there is math worksheets or other projects that you feel your student needs to do so he/she doesn't fall behind, find creative ways to get the work done at school.  Can the child come to school early or stay after school and do it with you?  Does your school have a homework club?  Is there an older student who could be a mentor during lunch time?  Where there's a will there's a way.

Tip #4:  Resources

Your counselor will know of extra resources that are available for your parent and family.  Grief counseling groups, financial assistance, and other organization are available  to help families.  

This is one of those times when the village should help raise the child.  Your role is to be the Mayor of the village and organize everything that needs to be done to properly support your student.


December Math FREEBIE

Today I have a December math freebie for you.  I thought this might be a fun activity to do the week before winter break. 

Click HERE to download this freebie.

Happy Holidays!

Click on the picture below to find more great freebies.
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Freebie Fridays


Idea Book - cure for Writer's Block

I realize it is cold and flu season, but have your students caught writer's block, too?  You offer suggestions but it doesn't seem to fix the problem.  They can't think of anything to write and they don't like your ideas either.  What do you do?  The next time this happens, tell them to get out their idea book.  It seems to cure writer's block!

The easiest way to make idea books is to set it up as a center.  Each student needs a 4 1/2 X 6" photo album book.  You can usually find inexpensive ones at the Dollar Tree.  You also need to stock your center with magazines, catalogs, and scissors.  Students will cut pictures out of the magazines and catalogs and add it to their idea books.


The next time your students can't think of something to write about, have them take out their idea book and look through the pictures they cut out of the magazines and catalogs. Students can glue the pictures in their writing journals or on their writing assignment and add details to the picture.  Students will need to restock their idea book from time to time.

I have an idea book freebie packet for you.  This packet comes with:

Parent note asking for photo album, magazines, and catalogs.

Planning sheet is included.

Use these as labels for photo albums.

There are different papers so you can differentiate this writing center.

Students can glue the picture on this writing paper and write a story about the picture.

Click on the picture if you'd like a free copy.  
Don't forget to leave feedback!

Freebie Fridays


Tips for centers

This week, one of my Facebook followers asked me for tips for learning centers. One of the best places to get ideas for running centers is at your own school. Ask your colleagues if you can come and observe them during center time. Sometimes your administrator will give you a half day sub to do this, if not you can observe during your planning period. Colleagues are great resources because you can ask them all the nitty-gritty questions of what works, what doesn't work so your centers will run smoother.

Through the years, I've tried different ways to manage centers. At times it felt like the centers were managing me rather than me managing them. But, I finally settled on this format for language arts centers.

Language arts block begins with a whole group lesson. There is usually some extension assignment that goes along with my whole group lesson.

Students go back to their tables (5 tables in all ) and begin the extension assignment. Each table has a captain (the captain changes each day). The captain gets the center tub that is assigned to their table at this time.

Once everyone is settled and working on their assignment I begin calling one group at a time to work with me at my reading table.

Students who are working on the extension assignment at their table will finish at different times. When they finish with their assignment, they turn in their assignment and begin their center assignment. Their center assignment is in the center tub that the captain brought to their table earlier. When they finish with their center assignment, they begin their second center which changes each day like the center tub. The second centers include: computer station, listening station, reading with a buddy, word work, and independent reading.

This center system works great if you have a small classroom or a regular size classroom that is overflowing with students. You know the old saying "if the mountain won't come to Muhammad then Muhammad must go to the mountain"? It works that way with centers, too. My centers had to come to my students because there wasn't enough room for my students to go to the center because there wasn't room to set up permanent centers.
These are signs that you can use to remind students what they need to do. On Monday table #1 would do tub #1 center assignment. When table #1 finishes their center tub assignment, they would go to computers. On Monday, table #2 would do center tub #2 assignment. When table #2 finishes center tub #2 assignment, table #2 would go to listening center. Each day the signs would rotate to a new table.
These are signs you can attach to your center tubs.
Click HERE to download these freebie signs.

Freebie Fridays


Candy Cane FREEBIE

I love a good linky party and I am joining DeAnne @ First Grade & Fabulous Holiday Picture Book Freebie linky party.  You will find some great holiday books plus each blogger is going to include an activity or two to go along with the book.

I love candy canes!  When I see them I instantly think of Christmas. Here are a few candy cane books that you should check out:


I made a candy cane packet for you.  This packet comes with the activities listed below.

Two candy cane patterns that you can either use as tracers or copy on construction paper.  Most copiers can copy your lessons on construction paper if you cut the paper 8 1/2 X 11.  Sometimes you have to put thicker paper in a different drawer so check with your secretary or whoever is in charge of the copier before you try it for first time.

Let your students paint the candy canes with tempera paint.

Add a few drops of peppermint extract to the paint for a seasonal smell. 

You can also add a few drops of dish detergent to the paint so clean up time will be easier.  This will even help if your students spill some paint on their clothes.  

Students will take one of the small candy canes from the page above, cut it out, color, and then glue it on the writing paper.  Their writing assignment is:  "This used to be a candy cane, now it is a . . . "  Candy canes can be arranged in any directions (sideways, standing on end, etc.) to make their new invention.

The last assignment is a word sort:  long A / short A.  There are two different pages so you can differentiate this assignment.

I hope your students enjoy these activities!  Happy Holidays!

Click HERE to get this packet.