Smart Board Math Manipulatives

I stumbled upon this website the other day when I was planning my math lesson. I needed base ten blocks for my Smart Board and found a whole slue of manipulatives to use with my kids! 🙂 My kids loved being able to come up to use the base ten blocks and I believe it helped their understanding of represendting numbers. Today we are using the clocks. My kids

Veterans Day: The Wall

I was on the hunt for books to use this week for my reading mini lessons and found this post on one of the blogs I follow. I plan on using it for Veterans Day tomorrow, as well as part of a schema lesson about veterans. If you have a chance, visit this blog.

Read Aloud Picture Books

The Wall

Eve Bunting made a career out of writing about topics few in the picture book world would even consider. The Wall is another offering from the land of taboo topics. This time it’s the Vietnam Memorial, which means that war and death are on the docket.

In Buntings story a father and son are visiting the wall to see Dad/Grandpa’s name. This is a children’s book, so she guides us through these topics gently. But the pain and loss are real, real enough for me to think over whether or not I would get an angry parent phone call for reading about death in school.

In the end I chose to read it. Those who served and made the ultimate sacrifice deserve to be honored, and Bunting masterfully delivered this book with reverence fitting the fallen.

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Back to work

imageIt’s August, which is hard to believe, and I’m back in my classroom. I’ve been working the last couple of days on cleaning out my cabinet and unpacking books that didn’t have homes in book boxes. After two straight days of sitting on the floor going through books they are all in a book box. My book boxes are organized by author, topic, or genre. I’m going back through and putting new labels on the tut side of the boxes. On each label I write a box number and I also write the number of the back of the book. This helps the kids get the books back in the right place. I still have a lot more work to do like behavior card board, lunch choices, and reading CAFE check in. I’ll post more pictures as I get things up.

I Need My Monster Mini Lesson Monday

Today’s mini lesson uses the book “I Need My Monster” written by Amanda Noll and illustrated by Howard McWilliam.

Image from Amazon.

Image from Amazon.

The lesson plan comes from Chelsea Sandstrom of Upper Iowa University. You can find the complete lesson here.

The basis of this lesson comes from the Two Sisters’Reading CAFE (Comprehension, Accuracy, Fluency, and Expand Vocabulary) strategies for reading. Sandstrom gave ideas for using 6 strategies with this book.

For the goal of comprehension, the strategy of “predict what will happen, use text to confirm”

* Read pages 1-3 and ask the students what do they predict will happen next. Model going back in the text to confirm what happened.

* Ask the students what they think the monster looks like or have them draw the monster (this could also work for the strategy “make a picture”).

* Read pages 4 and 5 and ask students if their guess was right. How do they know? Have students provide evidence from the text.

* Continue reading each page and asking students if the monster was what they thought it would look like.

This is just one of Chelsea Sandstrom’s straegies to use with this book. Her lesson includes other strategies.

The book image is from Amazon.


Remind101 is a useful technology tool to communicate with parents. This website allows you to send a group text message without revealing your cell phone number or theirs. Remind101 can also be used with older students to safely text reminders and other notifications. There is a also an email feature if the parent would rather receive an email than a text. This is the quickest and easiest way to send a group message to parents to remind them of field trip money, an upcoming test, or anything else on your classroom calendar. We all know newsletters don’t make it home half of the time.

To access this tool visit to create an account. You can then create a class, or as many as you like. You’ll be given a number and a message for parents to text you. This will enable them to sign up to receive your messages.

One thing I love about Remind101 is that the site creates a note for you to send home to parents to explain the process of signing up. Below is the note for my parents. It’s in a PDF which made it easy for me to also load it to my class website just in case parents needed access to it throughout the year.

Remind101 is also available in an app to download to your iPhone, iPad, and android. The app makes it even easier to send a quick reminder to parents. Click here to go iTunes for the download.

First Day Picture Idea

As I was scrolling through Pinterest and watching Big Brother (it’s my summer love) I found this idea from the First Grade Garden. This blogger made a “First Day of First Grade” frame for students to hold up as she took their picture.


These would be good to take home to parents after the first week. As a looping teacher, I would love to do this on the last day of their second year with me to really see how much they have grown.

Books for Teaching Expectations at the Beginning of the Year

Just like when I am teaching a reading strategy, I like to use a picture book when I’m introducing classroom expectations at the beginning of the year. I think the kids can identify with the situations of book characters more than if I would just give them scenarios. I also think they are more likely to remember what it should and should not look like going through the lunch line, for example, if there is a story to go along with the expectation. Here we a few books I have found for introducing classroom expectations. Some of these books are also excellent texts for character traits for you counselor out there.


– A good book for homework expectations.


– Use this book for discussing what going to lunch and eating in the cafeteria will look like each day.


– This book was written to help young children see the difference between tattling and reporting.


– This book goes along well with the poster ” Fair isn’t everyone getting the same thing. Fair is everyone getting what they need to be successful.” A good book to help kids understand differentiated instruction.

All images and books can be found on Amazon.

Mini Lesson Monday

Toayd’s mini lesson uses a book by one of my favorite others – Kevin Henkes. The book Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse can be used for teaching the strategy making text to self connections.


In this story, Lily loved everything about school, including her teacher Mr. Slinger. She bring her purple plastic purse to school one day with shiny quarters inside and her new movie star sunglasses. She is very anxious to share her belongings with her classmates which leads to Mr. Slinger holding onto her items. This upsets her to the point that she doesn’t want to be a teacher anymore and draws a mean picture of her teacher. The story ends with Lily given the appropriate time to share her beloved purse, glasses, and quarters.

When I read this book to my students is stop often and start with the thinking stem “This reminds me of…” The kids will be able to share moments at school when they’ve brought something from home they really like to share, but have to wait or they will be able to connect to how Lily felt. I often use partner talk during this time. I ask the kids to find a partner with someone they are sitting by and have them share their thinking. I listen to all the conversations and then when a few minutes have gone by I share with the kids what I heard them talking about with their classmates.

Student Gift Bags for Open House

My summer teacher brain is really starting to swirl around ideas for the next school year, which by the way is 43 days away according to the count down on my school’s website. I haven’t started the laying in bed awake at night with random ideas for reading and math quite yet, but I have of course been on Pinterest scoping out new things to do in my classroom.

Today I came across a blog post on Sunny Days in Second Grade with a classroom tour. This teacher provided lots of classroom pictures of how her room is set up. She also included a nifty idea for student gift bags for Meet the Teacher. Inside she included a tri-fold brochure for parents to take home with classroom information, a supply list, and a guide book her previous year student created to let each new student know what they can expect in her classroom.(I attempted something similar to these guide books with my kids only we called it the ABC’s of how to survive in this classroom, complete with what to do to be on my good side and what to do to be on my bad side. Let me just say these were entertaining.)

Gift bag from Sunny Days in Second Grade blog.

Gift bag from Sunny Days in Second Grade blog.

I love the idea of these gift bags for the simple fact that they give the parents something to carry all the papers or “reading material” as I call they receive on Open House night, which at my school is a stack of papers. In the past I have placed the papers at each student’s desk for the parents to grab. This helps me keep track of what parents and students came by looking around to see whose desk still how the mound of papers. The gift bag will help with keeping everything together and hopefully making it to the house with the parents and not all over the car, that’s what happens to papers in my car. 🙂

In addition to the trifold brochure and various other paperwork, I think I would add in a small welcome gift that I always see on Pinterest for the student. Hmm, a refrigerator magnet with my phone number, email, and class website for the home would be neat too. Maybe I could get that going during these last 43 days.