Sunday, March 5, 2017

Chicken in Space

We want to tell you about a must-buy book! It’s called CHICKEN IN SPACE and it’s written by Adam Lehrhaupt, illustrated by Shahar Kober.

It’s about a chicken named Zoey and her pig sidekick, Sam. Zoey uses her imagination to take a trip into space and she insists Sam joins her. They run into an asteroid, a comet, and even alien attack ships, but nothing deters Zoey from completing her mission. Our students belly-laughed at this charming story of determination, grit, and adventure. Head over to YouTube to watch an old-fashioned book trailer that will get your kids excited to read!

You can find out more about the author at

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Right Angles Made Easier

Right angles are HARD to teach, am I right?! For the last few years we’ve had to teach right angles in first grade. Last year, Virginia decided to remove it from the first grade standards! Woohoo! Everyone in common core states are teaching right angles in fourth grade (way more appropriate), so these suggestions may be best used as introductions or remediation. First, we like to show them the corners of a square and have them position their arms in the same directions. Then we show them how *not* to make a right angle. No “Yay!” arms (an acute angle with both hands up toward the ceiling) and no “Ta-da!” arms (an obtuse angle with arms out to the sides).

After some explicit teaching about shapes that do and don’t have right angles, we use Morgan Clark’s memory game.
We’ve also shrunk it down and added headers to use as a sort for students to glue the shapes onto. This gives you a good idea of who can remember and identify shapes that have right angles.

Then we created this worksheet for students to count how many right angles a shape has and draw shapes with a given number of right angles: tricky skills to master.

Finally, we have these handy-dandy right angles.
 My fantastic inclusion teacher pointed out how hard it can be for some students to align a book/index card/paper accurately with an angle to determine whether or not it is a right angle. Not only do they put their tool on the outside of the shape but they also can’t see both sides of an acute angle. These right angles were traced onto scraps of lamination. I also traced an oversized right angle for me to use during for whole class instruction. These tools have only three rules. 1: You must put the vertex of the right angle on top of one of the vertices in the shape. 2: If the right angle closed it would eat part of the shape. 3: One line of the right angle must be on top of on of the sides of the shape. This year when my students completed the “Right Angle Identification” worksheet, the class average was 53%. Yikes. After I showed the class how to use their new lamination tools, the average went up to 92%. That’s without any re-teaching, just a new tool. Color me impressed.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Exploring Polar Bears: A Cross-Curricular Unit

It’s time to meet our polar bears!
We have created a unit for any classroom from kindergarten to second grade. We have graphic organizers, prompts, and paper to enrich your students’ writing. There are a variety of math activities including measurement, estimation, computation, and lots of skip counting! We offer map, menu, and research project ideas to foster creative science and social studies skills. Best of all, we end our unit with a game, a craft, and a snowy snack recipe. Polar bears are currently a threatened species. One of our best defenses against animal extinction is to bring awareness to the students we teach. Our unit can help facilitate productive conversations, as well as provide you with effective activities to build upon basic abilities. Check it out at Teachers Pay Teachers.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

From Here to There: A Book Birthday!

Happy Book Birthday to Sue Fliess! FROM HERE TO THERE hits stores today!
Our students are going to love this best friend, pen pal story.

Read more about the book on Amazon.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Journal groups

Throughout the year, our students do many journal entries. From math to language arts, they speak their minds, demonstrate their knowledge, and extend on our ever-changing curriculum. Their favorite part of journal writing is getting to share with the class. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough time in the day to share every entry every time. Journal groups are an easy and student-centered alternative.

The students have access to both the Journal Group Rules and Kind Words You Can Use mini-posters that we created. The students or the teacher can make the groups. They should be flexible, changing often. When we choose to make our groups, we make sure they are heterogeneous to reinforce acceptance and appreciation of various levels and abilities. These groups can meet while the teacher is conducting reading groups, during center times, or any other available time. The students love sharing, being heard, and hearing their classmates’ ideas.

Monday, August 1, 2016

We Love List Books!

Begin this activity by reading the book, Wallace’s Lists by Barbara Bottner and Gerald Kruglik. Make list books for each student using our template (Word or PDF).

The books will be half-sized, and vertical, with staples on the left side. Print a copy of our list book ideas and choose one topic each day so your students can create their own lists. If you want to share but don’t have much time, ask students to put a star next to their favorite item on the list of the day, and share only their favorites. Older students can keep their own copy of the list book ideas and choose which lists they’d like to write each day.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Official Scientist Badges

Our students really enjoy science projects. As teachers, we try to create multiple opportunities for conducting experiments in the classroom. After completing whole group instruction or sample experiments, it’s great to follow-up with independent or small group activities. Throughout the year whenever students are making observations, collecting data, suggesting hypotheses, etc., we tell our students that they are scientists. Sometimes to help our students really feel like scientists we give them these badges to wear.

We print these on cardstock and insert them in plastic badge holders (with clips). This allows for extra durability and longevity. They clip the badges on at the start of each experiment and return them to our basket at the conclusion of each experiment. If you are using these at a center or small group, it is fun to add goggles, lab coats and clipboards too! Our students look forward to feeling official and important!