Saturday, February 28, 2015

Seuss Snacks: Read Across America snacks!

By now, I thought I'd be all Seussed out, but I have just a tiny bit of energy left to blog about our crazy Read Across America celebration last week. Of course, I did take a bit of a breather on this fine Saturday. I rose early with good intentions, and after a delicious breakfast found myself watching episode after episode of Scandal while drinking massive amounts of hot orange spice tea. So that was a little less than productive.

But now I've parked myself at a Starbucks, I'm listening to Paul Simon, and I think I'm finally ready to write about this incredible week. Every year, we try to make our Seuss celebration bigger and better. I don't know which events will help provide students with a positive connection with reading, but more is better, right? We have to keep trying!

One way we keep kids excited about reading is by getting teachers excited! We're all so tested and burdened with paperwork, and we wanted to show how much we appreciate and love our teachers. So each day, in the lounge, we had a nice Seuss snack for our teachers! My librarian buddy and I make them and put them out; enough for each member of the staff & faculty to have one!

Monday: Cat in the Hat Cheese Sticks

These are surprisingly easy to make! Just buy some cheese sticks and use a black permanent marker and a red permanent marker. I made them at home and refrigerated them until our event - great for a do-in-advance treat!

I bought these red bins and a tablecloth at the Dollar Store. We used the truffula trees I made last year (find out how here) and the other props we'd made to decorate the table.

Easy peasy!

Tuesday: Truffula Seeds

These are another make-in-advance treat. I printed out the truffula seeds labels and stapled them to a plastic baggie. Then I filled the baggie with jelly beans!

We used our same display materials but added a Lorax and a copy of the book! A few gardening tools (for planting the seeds, of course) finished up our display.

Thursday: Chocolate Covered Pretzels & Oreos

These took a little longer! The Oreos below were the easiest part. We melted bowls full of red, white, and light blue melting chocolate discs. Then I drizzled it over a tray of Oreos. After they dried, I flipped them over and did the other side.

To make the pretzels, we bought pretzel rods and dipped them into the melted chocolate. Then we covered them with sprinkles. They were very similar to our marshmallow pops of last year.

We kind of made a mess in the lounge. It got much worse than this.

We made a few of these chocolate dipped Oreos (one of my most favorite things in the entire world.) I didn't have the right size sticks, though, so they kept breaking. I ate all the broken ones. There were five.

We put everything together with some cat in the hats!

Friday: Hop on Pop...corn!

I definitely recommend this one! We were fortunate enough that our secretary popped the popcorn for us in the big popcorn machine! Then a volunteer filled the cups with a cute polka-dotted napkin and popcorn. 

My hunnybun had already helped out by putting the labels on the cups, so they just had to be set up! What a nice team :)

Our week was full of Seussy snacks, and I know our teachers appreciated the special touch! I hope you use some of these ideas with your faculty or your students! If you're looking for more ideas, check out last year's Seuss snacks!
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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Dr. Seuss Week is coming: Seuss-inspired bulletin boards!

If you're like my librarian buddy and I, you LOVE Dr. Seuss Week, also known as Read Across America. It's really just a great excuse to proclaim loudly and long how much we love to read! What can be better?!

So this year, we've started a TON of initiatives. We usually do that, by adding one on top of another until we're about to lose it and we don't think we can do one more thing. And then we're like, "...wait! What if we..." and we add one more thing. I keep expecting my principal to say, "Ladies, seriously. That's enough." But she hasn't said it yet, so we keep piling on the fun stuff!

This year, we started out with bulletin boards in preparation for Read Across America (which we are celebrating a week early by the way, so we don't have to beat up all the other literacy coaches and librarians to take their guest readers).

We downloaded an app called the Cat Cam in the app store on the iphone. It is hilarious. This is my Cat Cam photo:

We knew we wanted to take pictures of the faculty and use them to make a fun bulletin board, but to build some anticipation, I put up this partial board about three weeks before Read Across America.

The kids kept walking by, reading, "It's coming..." and speculating about what IT was!
Then we took pictures of all of the faculty using the Cat Cam app and made this fun bulletin board!

The words are too small to read in this picture, but on the left it says, "Celebrate Dr. Seuss Week, Feb. 23 - 27" (Yes, I know that's not the REAL week!) and on the right it says, "From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere!"

The kids LOVED it! They kept pointing out their teachers and giggling, especially when their teacher was Thing One!

Here's what I used to make the board:
- light blue fabric for the background
- red plastic tablecloths for the curtains
- blue painter's tape to make the "windowpanes"
- black butcher paper for the kids' silhouettes
- red butcher paper for the chairs

I projected the image of the original pin my librarian friend found of this bulletin board:

 I taped some black butcher paper to the wall, and used a projector to project the image onto the black butcher paper and traced it. We cut them out. Then we did the same with the chairs on red paper.

I had stapled up the blue fabric on the board and the Dr. Seuss border my beautiful sister-in-law bought me for 80% off at an Office Depot going-out-of-business sale! We stapled up the silhouettes and the chairs and then I used the painter's tape to mark off the windowpanes, horizontally and vertically down the middle of the board.

I took the red tablecloths (we used two separate ones to make the two curtains) and I stapled the edge of one along the edge of the board. Then I stapled and scrunched all along to make the top look ruffled. I used some ribbon to tie them back like curtains.

We printed and cut out all of the Cat Cam pictures and I stapled them all up, adding the letters for the board last. Oh, and I stuck a cute paper banner I bought at Eraser Dust on top!

This is a different bulletin board I made last week, too.
We had all this adorable, brightly patterned fabric, so I thought, "Why not? Let's use it to make Seuss hills!"

I stapled the fabric...artistically? To make hills and valleys like in the book, "Oh, the Places You'll Go." Then I added another little layer in the back to look like far-away hills. The "balloons" are also made of fabric, and I stapled them around the edges and filled them with leftover fabric to make them puffy.

I recently had a realization that loofahs look like truffula trees. Well, used loofahs look more truffula-ish, but they're also disgusting, so I used some new loofahs to make our trees.

And I couldn't resist adding our school building.
What are your plans to celebrate Read Across America?
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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Deep in the Heart of Texas Link-Up: What I Love!


Welcome to the "Deep in the Heart of Texas" blog hop!  Over 40 Texas teacher bloggers have joined together to share what we love about our state as well as ideas and freebies that we love.  You will also have the opportunity to enter to win TpT products and/or TpT gift certificates by entering using the rafflecopters included in each post.  Down at the bottom, you will see all of the blogs participating in the hop.  Just click and you will be taken to their posts.  We hope you love what you find.  Happy Valentine's Day!

I grew up in a suburb of Dallas (and I still consider that green place to be where I am "from"), but now I live in a desert. El Paso, Texas is so far west that many don't remember we're part of Texas! 

I do love a few things about my city. I mean, it's got its issues, but there are definitely some pros to living here. 

1. Beautiful weather, 85% of the time. It gets hot in the summer (it is a desert), but you can still venture outdoors most of the time. That's important to a person like me who'd rather be in the country than a city.

 I don't want to tell you how much water it takes to make a yard green here.

2. Last year, El Paso built a new minor league ballpark for our team, (don't laugh) the Chihuahuas! The games are so much fun and the ballpark is beautiful. I love going with the hunny or my brothers.

I loooooove to teach writing. It's one of the things I miss the most - reading aloud a beautiful book, analyzing the author's craft, trying out some of the writing strategies and structures, and having students create incredible pieces. My favorite books to teach writing with are Cynthia Rylant's.

One of the pieces we worked on that seemed to grow students' expressive writing the best was writing texts using In November as a model. I wrote about how we wrote poetry using In November as a model in third grade here.

This student had struggled to write even sentences at the beginning of the third grade. During this piece, he seemed to find a voice! He integrated illustrations throughout all of his words - very interesting to see him begin to use expression this way!

I've also had classes write modeled books using In November. Each student chose a month to write about and then we brainstormed details that matched all the different categories you can find in In November - what the people do, what the earth is like, what the animals do, etc. Students created their own "In January," or "In October" books and they were so charming!

I love this freebie! It's a reading assessment tracker - you can have students record their scores by TEK! Third, fourth, and fifth grade are included, in English and Spanish. Check it out and see if your kids can use it! I also have some teachers who use it to record their students' percentages of success on multiple tests for their class overall.

Reading Assessment Color Code Tracker

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Click on the buttons below to visit some other awesome Texas bloggers!

Individual codes should you need them for some reason... TpT Rafflecopter Code: a Rafflecopter giveaway Prize Pack 1 Rafflecopter (PK-1) Code: a Rafflecopter giveaway Prize Pack 2 Rafflecopter (2-3) Code: a Rafflecopter giveaway Prize Pack 3 Rafflecopter (4-8) Code: a Rafflecopter giveaway Linky Code:
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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

What We Love Link-Up with Primary Powers


Is there anything better in the world than a link-up? When I'm drooling and I can't think of any of the 100,000 different things I've done in the classroom to write about, I'm like, "Oh, good. They'll just tell me what to do." and then I do that. This is a Classroom Loves link-up hosted about Primary Powers- we're writing about what I, they, we love.  

So, when I was writing this post, I was like, "Oh! I know what I love! I love wine!" and then I realized that wasn't really appropriate. So then I thought, "Oooh, summers off!" But that's not really what this is about. Coffee in the lounge? When they bring me chocolate on Valentine's Day? 

Apparently, I am a very simple person with simple pleasures.

Anyway, I finally settled on something appropriate-ish, I think. I LOVE office supplies! Post-its, pens (preferably felt-tip), a special notebook to write in and white tape for mistakes. For Christmas, my sister-in-law gave me a big box full of supplies she bought at an Office Depot going out of business sale. Be still, my heart.

These are my favorite things and they make me happy, when I'm not allowed to drink wine...which is really just when I'm at work.

My students have always loved sorts. Whether they're in reading, math, science, or whatever, they love picking up little cards and figuring out where they go. 

 This sort required students to sort characteristics, examples, and questions into different genres.

They get such a sense of accomplishment from figuring out which categories everything goes in and having everything "in the right place". They love to talk to their partners and disagree and make decisions. Because of this, even though sorts require a little preparation, it's something I like to integrate whenever possible.

This one was easy. We. Love. Harry. Potter. My Harry Potter Book Club meets once a week, after school on Wednesdays for an hour. 

 Making bookmarks with another thing they love: glitter paint.

We read, take online quizzes to get sorted into houses, make charts and graphic organizers and crafts. We laugh at Dudley, are very impressed by McGonnegal, and are very nervous for Ron. The kids who come to the club are so much fun and I love to plan special activities for them!

Chocolate frog boxes!

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Sunday, February 8, 2015

Messy Big Books? Get Organized!

Is your big book library a wreck? Join the club. Our big book library was a heap of books in bags, books out of bags, little books mixed in with big books and more. If you're looking to organize and store your big books neatly, look no further!

At the end of last school year, my buddy (the dyslexia teacher) and I decided it was time to revamp our awful bookroom. The big books and their paired little books were in a complete shambles. Stuff was thrown and tossed and stacked all over the shelves! And the shelves are a putrid shade of hospital pink. You know, like that little pitcher and tub they give you in the hospital? That's barf.

We didn't do anything about the shelves, but the rest of the room looks pretty great!

This picture is not exactly "before". It's actually kind of during, but I forgot to take a before picture and this is the first one I have. Just imagine that it's about seven times worse than this.

We started out by taking out all of the big books from their variety of assorted bags and bins, completely covered in dust, and sorting them by language (English/Spanish) and then alphabetizing them. 

Then we did the same to the little books, grouping them by title and putting them into book boxes. After we had them all sorted, we put each set into a gallon-sized plastic bag. 

And this is what it looked like when it was almost done!

For the big books, we used big plastic storage tubs from Wal-Mart. 
We labeled each with the contents of the tub. 

Over the tubs, on the shelves, we placed the book boxes full of the sets of books that matched the big books below. 

We color-coded our labels: blue for English and green for Spanish.

It's so much easier to find the big books now! And definitely a lot less dusty! 

Get the labels for the big bins and the little book boxes here at Google Drive!

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