Figurative Language Posters and Teaching Ideas – Also, a TPT sale!

Figurative Language Bulletin Board set

Figurative Language

Types of figurative language are taught in our 3rd grade ELA curriculum and I always feel that I need something more to add to it. Each of these literary devices is so interesting and you can do so much to enhance your lessons with mentor texts, video clips, etc. So, I’m finally getting it all organized. I’ll be better prepared to teach it enthusiastically this year! I’ve created some resources to go with these lessons so I might mention those throughout this post and you can click on any of the pictures for a link to the resources.

One reason figurative language is so interesting is because we can find it everywhere! It’s in picture books, chapter books, poetry, comics, cartoons, animated films, songs, advertising, and more. We’re surrounded by examples!

1. Alliteration

This is such a fun one to teach at the beginning of the year There are some great books. It’s excellent for building fluency (tongue twisters!) and vocabulary. Anything that encourages them to read more and is FUN is a huge win.

Mentor Texts
Some mentor texts with examples of alliteration are:
*The Absolutely Awful Alphabet by Mordicai Gerstein
*Four Famishes Foxes and Fosdyke by Pamela Duncan Edawards
*Some Smug Slug by Pamela Duncan Edwards
*A My Name is ALICE by Jane Bayer Princess
*The Worrywarts by Pamela Duncan Edwards
*Pigtoria and the Pea by Pamela Duncan Edwards
*Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel
*Bootsie Barker Bites by Barbara Botner
*Woodpecker Wants a Waffle by Steve Breen (there is a link to this one in my TPT resource)
*Poems by Shel Silverstein or Jack Prelutsky

Tongue Twisters
Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, how many pickled peppers did Peter Piper pick? It’s funny how tongue twisters stick in our minds. I can still remember playing a little beginning song on the piano that used the lyrics to “how much wood could a woodchuck chuck…” You can google tongue twisters to find a bunch of examples. Project them on the board and say them together. Underline the repetitive beginning letters.

I love this idea by Think Grow Giggle to write your own tongue twisters. It’s currently a freebie in her TPT store!

There are even books of tongue twisters! I like the National Geographic Just Joking books because they have jokes, riddles, and tongue twisters. Those books are a big hit with 3rd graders.

2. Personification

It’s easy to find examples of personification! It’s in most animated movies – think about Cars, Sing, Ferdinand, etc. It’s in cartoons. It’s even in commercials! I have a few clips with some of animal spokesperson commercials (it’s in my Figurative Language pack). Geico has a few popular ones – their gecko spokesperson, and there is the camel walking through the office talking about hump day.

Of course, there are many picture books where animals have human traits. It’s a common theme! Your library is probably full of them. An easy activity is to set the students on a little treasure hunt looking for examples of personification in your books – they are are sure to find them!

Students can create a comic strip using personification with an animal character. Remind them of the many examples that they know – Winnie the Pooh, Garfield, Mickey Mouse, Charlotte’s Web, etc. Be prepared to model the lesson for them by drawing your own comic strip. This is also a great time to teach about writing dialogue. 

Mentor Texts
*The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton
*Hello, Harvest Moon by Ralph Fletcher
*The Little Red Pen by Janet Stevens & Susan Crummel
*If You Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Numeroff
*The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss

Figurative Language QR Cards
4 Cards for each one! There are QR codes that link to stories, songs, and explanation videos!

3. Hyperbole

Kids love to exaggerate so this is also a fun one to explore! There are plenty of examples in advertising and commercials to help with this one. Tall Tales are also a good companion piece to learning about hyperbole. 

Mentor Texts
*Heat Wave by Helen Ketteman
*Steamboat Annie by Catherine Wright
*Library Lil by Suzanne Williams
*The Boy Who Was Raised by Librarians by Elizabeth Kennedy

4. Metaphors & Similes

Metaphors compare 2 items that don’t seem to be alike at all, but you can find at least one area where they are alike. You can start a lesson on metaphors and similes by bringing in a bunch (2+ for each student) of objects from home. You’ll need 2 to demonstrate – – let’s say a blanket and a lunch bag. Work with the students to write a list of descriptive words and phrases for the blanket and then for the lunch bag. They don’t have much of anything in common, but the blanket wraps around you while you’re resting and the lunch bag protects your sandwich (blankets it). I could write – “I can hardly wait until lunch time! I finally have the lunch that I wanted. My mom bought Nutella! My Nutella & grape jelly sandwich is now safely resting in the paper blanket of my lunch bag.” Now, have students choose 2 objects and write a simile or metaphor.
Here’s an idea with using items found in nature for inspiration for writing metaphors. 

This Ted Talk would be good for older students. It’s a little slow, but I liked seeing some of the metaphors illustrated.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0edKgL9EgM?rel=0]


Mentor Texts
*You’re Toast and Other Metaphors We Adore by Nancy Loewen  (this one is in the TPT pack)
*Skin Like Milk, Hair of Silk by Brian P. Cleary
*My School’s a Zoo! by Stu Smith

*My Best Friend is as Sharp as a Pencil by Hanoch Piven
*Crazy Like a Fox: a Simile Story by Loreen Leedy
*My Dog is as Smelly as Dirty Socks by Hanoch Piven (this one is in the TPT pack)
*Quick as a Cricket by Audrey Wood

*Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
Figurative Language QR Code Cards


5. Idioms

Idioms lend themselves to illustrations. Kids can’t resist drawing something so absolutely ridiculous. You can create a class book with each student writing an idiom and drawing a picture of what it would be literally. They can then talk to a partner about what it might mean and once they figure it out, they will write the actual meaning on the page. 

Here are a few collections of idioms to get you started:

Mentor Texts
*Birds of a Feather: A Book of Idioms and Silly Pictures by Vanita Oelschlager
*My Teacher Likes to Say by Denise Brennan-Nelson
*Raining Cats & Dogs by Will Moses
*Stubborn as a Mule and Other Silly Similes by Nancy Loewen
*In a Pickle: and Other Funny Idioms by Marvin Terban

6. Onomatopoeia

Comic strips are one place that we see examples of Onomatopoeia. There is a good lesson on Read Write Think about having students use onomatopoeia in writing a comic. This is something that a wide range of grade levels would enjoy. You can make it a digital activity by using the Comic Creator at Read Write Think, Book Creator app or another app that allows you to create comics. 

Mentor Texts

*A Mouthful of Onomatopoeia by Bette Blaisdell
*Roller Coaster by Marla Frazee
*Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
*The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams
*In the Tall, Tall Grass by Denise Fleming
*Noisy Night by Mac Barnett
*Miss Spider’s New Car by David Kirk

Whew! That was a lot of typing. My fingers are worn to the bone. (I couldn’t resist throwing in some figurative language.) 

My figurative language bundle on Teachers Pay Teachers includes a set of 7 posters with a definition and an example sentence. I really like the watercolor clipart that I found to decorate them. So pretty! There are also a set of 4 cards for each of these literary devices. The cards include the definition (same as the poster, but small) and 3 QR codes that link to a mentor text being read, video clips that illustrate, a song to teach about that device, and a short video that teaches more about it. These will be great for literacy centers or to give struggling students more practice. I’m excited to use them! I’m also going to incorporate more mentor texts and use some of the ideas in this post. I think that will give us plenty to work on!

Teachers Pay Teachers is having their back to school sale! Yay! I totally use this sale to get stocked up for the year. Everything at Teacher Treasure Hunter is on sale. Don’t forget to enter code: BTSFRESH to get additional savings from TPT. 

I’m sad that summer is coming to an end, but excited to teach a whole new group of 3rd graders! Happy back-to-school season to you!

Mentor Text Giveaway

Don’t forget to read to the end for a giveaway!

Writing an opening hook

How many times have your students started informational reports with…”This is a report about…” These opening lines are boring to the reader and even to the writer! So, we teach them to write an interesting hook that will engage the reader. There are many types of hooks that will quickly get the attention of your audience. This post is focusing on writing a question to hook readers. Why? Well, I found a great book! Isn’t that usually the case? We find a fun book and realize it would be a great mentor text for something we want our students to learn.

What if You Had Animal Eyes

Sandra Markle has written a great series of informational books that have a light, engaging style. The latest in this series is What if You Had Animal Eyes. I pre-ordered it on Amazon so that I could get it right away. My 3rd graders enjoy these books and I am all about stocking my classroom with books that get kids reading! These books start out with asking a question. They don’t just ask a question about an animal fact, but rather questions that will guide the reader in imagining the life of that animal. “What if one day when you woke up, the eyes on your face weren’t yours? What if, overnight, a wild animal’s eyes took their place.” (Markle, 2017) Each 2 page spread focuses on an animal. One page is informational and helps you learn all about that animal’s eyesight and the characteristics that make the eyes uniquely suited for that particular animal. The second page makes it personal. What would it be like for you to have eyesight like that animal? The book ends with a quick compare/contrast of animal and human eyes and how ours eyes are just what we need. It also includes a page on how human eyes work and a page about keeping your eyes healthy.

You could also use this book as a mentor text for other topics such as…

*Repetition (If you had ______ eyes you ___________)
*Organizing facts for readability
*Compare/contrast
*Using real photos alongside exaggerated sketches 
*Reading and/or creating diagrams (diagram of the human eye – page 30)
I’ve created a little resource to go along with this book. It includes:

*mini poster (quotation)
*mini poster (about writing hooks)
*worksheet to practice writing questions that could be hooks for various topics

You can download the FREEBIE here.

Reading Freebies and a Giveaway!

I’ve teamed up with some great bloggers who are doing a giveaway to benefit Hurricane Harvey victims. I have friends with family in Texas. Our pastor’s wife was in church when she saw a facebook message from her brother-in-law saying they were stranded and asking for help. It was so difficult for them to wait for news from 2,000 miles away. I was in Jacksonville, Florida during Hurricane Andrew and remember people from our church going to help. These types of losses are devastating and require long-term assistance. Dawn Vinas, a teacher who works with Houston schools, has started a gofundme to help teachers. Any donation will help. You can give to that campaign here. My heart is hurting as we are now tracking hurricane Irma and praying for the safety of all those in her path.
I’m in the Pacific Northwest and we are dealing with an entirely different hardship – wild fires. There are so many huge fires in our state and surrounding states. The sky this week has been thick with smoke and air advisories have been given. Students have had to stay inside all week. The sun looks red on many days. It is very surreal. A beautiful area that we travel through frequently, the Columbia Gorge, along the Columbia river is burning. I posted a picture on my facebook page of before and after. It is incredibly sad.

Each blogger has featured a mentor text and an accompanying download. Make sure you visit each blog to get all these goodies and tons of expert advice! Just click on the links at the end of this post to visit the next blog. One lucky winner will win a copy of EACH book. That is such an awesome prize! Enter through the rafflecopter links at the end of this post. The most important thing to do is to support the relief efforts if you are able. The gofundme link is a great way to support teachers and schools. There are many organizations involved in the rebuilding in Houston and other cities that suffered from Hurricane Harvey. We might not be able to do much individually, but together we can do anything! Let’s get these cities restored and offer hope to those who were displaced. Spread the word about the gofundme and this giveaway! Thank you!

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Classroom Planning A-Z ~ Helping teachers prepare for Back-to-School

Classroom Planning A-Z

It’s back-to-school season! There are SO many things for teachers to do during this time and SO much to remember. Last year, I made a Classroom Planning list with detailed notes about each item and links to some freebies and resources to help you accomplish the things on your to-do list. It’s a free resource on Teachers Pay Teachers. My listing there has it for new teachers, but I’ve heard from many veteran teachers who have found it helpful. I’m using it right now to make sure I don’t forget anything!

Birthday Bags for Students
One very easy tip is to prepare NOW for the birthdays that you will celebrate throughout the year. What will you do about summer birthdays? Are you giving each student a little gift? I’ve seen cute, simple ideas of just a giant pixie stick with a birthday note attached or a book (use Scholastic points!) is always a great idea. I put together little gift bags. I’ve made a video of what’s inside. Click here or on the picture above to watch the video on YouTube.

Click here to download the free A-Z Planning Guide for Teachers!

What do you do to prepare for back-to-school? What should I add to my checklist? Thanks for reading. Have a great week!

$75 Teachers Pay Teachers gift card giveaway!

Win a $75 TPT gift card

Do you still have things to buy for back-to-school? I sure do! We have a great giveaway that could help you out. One lucky winner will get a TPT gift card for $75. It could be you!


GIVEAWAY DETAILS
Prize: $75 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card

Giveaway organized by: An Apple for the Teacher
Co-hosts: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher),  A Plus Kids,  Teaching SuperkidsPeas in a PodEmbellished EducationLattes and LunchroomsKB3TeachDancing into FirstTeaching Ideas For Those Who Love TeachingThe Chocolate TeacherMs K MathKnowledge MobileMrs. RoltgenElementary Antics,  CrazyCharizmaCarla HoffThird Grade GigglesMickey’s PlaceRissa HannekenActivity TailorKamp Kindergarten,  Reading and Writing RedheadPlanet Happy SmilesA View Into My ClassroomMomma With A Teaching MissionSara RuckerThe Literacy GardenPam’s PlaceHeart 2 Heart TeachingMrs Humphries ClassSliding Into 1stGrowing Grade by GradeJackie CrewsLife As I Know ItSarah GriffinTeacher Treasure HunterGlistening Gems, and A Classroom for All Seasons.
Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter.  Giveaway ends 8/13/16 and is open worldwide.
P.S. ~ There are 2 of these giveaways going on right now! When you are finished entering this one, visit An Apple for the Teacher to enter another giveaway. 🙂 

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Thanks for entering! Good luck!

How I Survived the First Day of School + Blog Hop + FREEBIE

I’m so happy to be a part of the Fall in Love with Teaching Blog Hop. Please read to the end to find a FREEBIE, giveaway from me & the blog hog giveaway! 
I’m sketching out this post a month before it is due. It is currently 8/24 and I have a week until school starts. I am hoping for that blog post title. Being ready for the 1st day of school & surviving are seriously in question right now!! Not only am I moving to a new grade (1st to 3rd), our school decided to renovate right before school starts. We were in desperate need of new paint and carpet and it was provided by a generous donor. The downside is that I am not in my room yet, and I’ve only been able to prepare some things at home. If I were still teaching 1st grade, I could go into auto-pilot and make this work. It is an extra challenge to figure out a new grade level when my room (as of tonight) has unassembled furniture and all of my things are in another space and can’t be accessed. 
15 days before school!!!
My online teacher friends (you all are awesome!) have been encouraging me with talk of a “blank palette”. My mind is simply on surviving Orientation (the night before) and the 1st day of school! I am mostly trying to not to think of all the details and keep moving to accomplish something – by the yard it’s hard, by the inch a cinch – right? 🙂
10 days before school!!

Carpet & pain completed – no furniture and can’t get to all my boxes 🙁
Some year, or perhaps this year, you will find yourself in a difficult situation which may even seem impossible. New administration/office staff/teachers, renovations and new grade level are the ones I’m dealing with this year. I want to pass along to you some of the great and encouraging tips that I received from my online friends. Of course, I will also have some teaching goodies along the way so make sure you read through to the end!
1. “This year my room may not be all that I want it to be. But, next year, it will be amazing!” – LOL! This comment made me laugh and think. It was posted by a teacher who will be moving her classroom after school starts. It always helps to know that you are not the only one. Other teachers are dealing with all kinds of situations and we are a strong and creative bunch who know how to make things work. Sometimes you just have to hold on loosely to your dreams and ideals and be willing to let some things go. 
2. “The students will love to help their new teacher set up parts of the room. Bonding experience!” So true! Anything that I can do together with the students will really help build our classroom community. I am likely going to go this route out of necessity. I am looking forward to having an older grade. I’ve made some lesson plans for the 1st week – can we really call it a plan for that 1st week? It may be more like lesson thoughts, hopes and ideas! I put in a time that first morning for them to sort through the supplies with me and label things and put them away. That will be a first! In 1st grade, you need everything setup and ready-to-go! 
3. “All that room needs is a motivated teacher to love on those students! You got this!!” My favorite comment! This is something that I just need to post above my computer this year. It helps to focus on what really matters – the students. We’ve been given a gift to have a part in these young lives. I’m so excited about the lessons that I have planned for this year – – both academic skills & character development. We truly have the opportunity to make a difference. These children are the present and the future! Find a way to encourage and inspire your students each day. Those are the lessons they remember long after they’ve forgotten how your room was setup or the little things that you wanted to get to and just couldn’t get finished. Let it go. Focus on the big picture.
BTW, these are all comments from some wonderful Instagram followers. It is such a fun way to share pictures. I am so inspired by the teaching ideas that I find there and obviously the teachers are so encouraging. You can follow me at TeacherTreasureHunter.
A work in progress…
pretty new bookcases
1st day of school! I made it this far. 🙂 Parts of the room look good!
I wish that I had some beautiful pictures for you of my entire completed room. Nope! It is getting close, but still a work in progress. The whiteboard (that I use for everything) was leaning against the wall for the 1st week and little things are being added all the time (new desk chair today and hanging pocket by the door). I’m still waiting for a place for the students to put backpacks and book bags. However, the parts that are finished are looking very good!
**Scroll down to the end of this post to read an update – How I’m Surviving After 4 Weeks!
I hope you found these comments from my online friends inspiring. If you need some practical tips to survive your teaching year, you may enjoy my FREE Classroom Planning A-Z Guide
I will continue to make materials that are suitable for 1st grade since that is where I have the most experience (and it will always have a piece of my heart regardless of other grades that I teach!). I will also be making more products for 3rd grade. I already have several animal products that are a great fit for both of those grades. I’ve used my animal research packs with groups of 1st-5th graders at the end of the year and they’ve all enjoyed the researching and writing. I’m going to give away 2 animal research bundles ($20 value each). Just join my email list to be entered into the contest. 
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UPDATE: After 4 weeks of teaching, I feel like I might survive! 🙂 Honestly, it has been a difficult experience but it does help to focus on the big picture. Here are some amazing things that have happened in the last few weeks:

*My new students are totally fitting into the class. We have a small school and it is a family like atmosphere. It’s so wonderful when they make new friends right away and feel like they belong. 
*One of my students told me right away that they don’t like to read and they only like Minecraft. I tried to suggest some great books and even mentioned Minecraft books. Nope! Fast forward to this week…that student has recorded the most reading out of all the 3rd graders (over 500 minutes) and won a special bead for the reading chains (see picture). He told me “I am so, so proud of myself!” THAT is worth so much!!
*I’m starting to figure out the 3rd grade curriculum and ways to incorporate the kinds of hands on teaching and activities that I love. Yesterday, the students pretended to be parts of the ear (2 students were the outer ear (arch for the sound to enter), the aisle was the auditory canal, 1 student was the ear drum, 3 were the bones of the middle ear (see the stirrup – triangular shaped hands), 1 was the cochlea (those curled up hands are supposed to look like a spiral!) and 2 students were the nerves. Of course 1 student had to be the sound and another the brain! They had so much fun bouncing the sound off the eardrum and through the middle ear and eventually to the brain. 
So, we are getting on to the important work of teaching. I still have a few bulletin boards to put up and some blank spaces on my walls. The kids have never once commented on that! Those aren’t the things that matter a whole lot to them. 
One of my sweeties wrote on the back of her paper – I love Mrs. Michael and Lizzy so much! I now rank up there with the classroom gecko – I’ll take it! I’m so glad that the students are learning and enjoying the process.
Click on the picture below to go to Jennifer’s post at The Blessed Teacher. She has some great tips for teaching grammar!

Labor LESS blog hop! Time Saving Tips + FREEBIE

Hello everyone!

ARE YOU REAAADDDY!!!

Main Graphic Laborless

It is Finally here!

Today I am linking with Laura from Where the Magic Happens, Krista from Teaching Momster, and Lisa from PAWsitively Teaching! I have joined forces once again with my bloggy friends to bring you the best, most amazing giveaway on this Labor Day weekend!

All of us have been thinking about  good ways in which to treat our readers and followers.   We thought hard, and I mean it! Really, really hard… and decided that  we can treat you to our best ideas to work smarter rather than harder… at school and home!

I know what it takes to be a great teacher, the stress, the time, the energy… I could go on and on! I also know that we crave time for ourselves and our families.

So here I go!

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Here are a couple little tips (and a freebie!) that can save you time in the classroom.

Do you have students borrow pencils all the time and suddenly find that all the pencils at your desk or reading table are missing? A simple solution is to add a little flag to each pencil. Use a small piece of washi tape to wrap around the pencil until the two sides of the tape meet and stick to each other. Trim the tape into a point or just make it easy. Voila! Super easy pencil flag. There are so many patterns and colors of washi tape. You can even choose to use different patterns for pencils that belong in different areas. You can find washi tape at craft stores and even at Wal-Mart for a good price.

I love binders! I would much rather have my teaching materials in binders than in filing cabinets. I like to keep worksheets pages, printables and other ideas separated in monthly theme binders. I just type a list of the included themes on the front of the binder and use tabs to separate the sections.

I’ve included a free download for you to create your own monthly binders. You can edit the box on the front of the cover to make a list of the included themes. Just click on the picture above to download.
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Two of my favorite ways to spend my free time are spending time with my family and reading. Our family loves spending time together. We went on a few trips this summer and that is all my boys can talk about. They can’t wait until next summer so they can get out of school 🙂 and spend time camping and relaxing with the family. One is a teenager and one is a pre-teen so I’m grateful they still want to spend time with us! The time is passing way too quickly! Facebook just showed this picture from 8 years ago on Labor Day weekend.

What??  It’s hard to believe they were that little. Such precious memories!

Another favorite thing is reading. I have been teaching 1st grade for 7 years and I’m teaching 3rd grade this year. It’s only been 4 days of school so far, but I have to tell you that it’s been like a vacation! I was shocked that I could actually read with them during the free reading time and they don’t need my constant attention. I can actually get lost in a book and share with them afterwards while we talk about what we read. It’s wonderful! I finally had a chance to read Wonder (R.J. Palacio) this week. Such a great book! I love this quote from the book…

I stopped at a thrift store today and of course I had to buy even more books for my classroom! A few of these are for my boys, but most are for the class.

BTW, I share these type of pictures on Instagram. I’d love for you to follow me. I’m @teachertreasurehunter
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My most popular products at this time of year are my QR codes. They really do make reading centers a breeze. If you do Daily 5 or want to have your students listen to reading – this is the answer. Students can scan a QR code and listen to someone read the story. The links are of people (usually teachers & librarians) reading the stories on YouTube. The links do not go directly through YouTube, but are SafeShare links so that students don’t see other videos, adds or yucky comments. My students love these! Click on the picture below to see a bundle of QR packs. They are also sold individually and there is a free pack (Mercer Mayer stories) so that you can test them and make sure they will work in your classroom.

*Follow my TPT store so you don’t miss out on freebies and new products. Newly listed products are 50% off for the first 24 hours! 🙂

Thanks for reading! Enjoy your long weekend!

Top all these great tips and ideas  with these top-notch prizes!
A $100 gift card to Amazon

A $50 gift card to TpT
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2 $25 gift cards to TpT

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1 $10 gift card to TpT
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Thank you for reading! And now don’t be silly and get your hands all over this awesome giveaway!!

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September Days and Classroom Tour Part 1

 Wow! Where did August go?

I’m posting a look ahead of the September National Days. There were a few days that didn’t really have much that was usable in the classroom for students.
*VOTE* Look at the calendar and let me know if there are days you would really like to see me feature here on my blog. I am trying to only feature days that would be fun and/or meaningful to celebrate in the classroom and I usually only cover the days that fall on a weekday. I try to find freebies and fun ideas from around the web for you to use that day. I sometimes even create a special freebie!

Back-to-school!

Our first day back-to-school (with students) was on Tuesday. This week we have a BBQ and an informal Open House to welcome back the students and parents. The classrooms are open and the parents can see what we’ve so far (in a little over a week!). There is always the pressure to have some wonderful things finished and displayed, but I think parents understand that we’ve barely even started. I always tell my parents at Orientation that the year starts out slowly as far as difficulty level. We’re reviewing many of the things that they learned in Kindergarten and may have forgotten over the summer. This is definitely helpful when they are starting off with basic math pages that have you color a certain number or reading sentences that have about 3 words. It progresses quickly though and before you know it we’ll be zooming through new material!
I’m still setting up some things in the classroom and working on a display for the hallway (Our 1st & 2nd Grade Neighborhood). Here are a few pictures that I have to share with you now.
1) Our Best Work Wall – The supplies are all from Wal-Mart. I used the scrapbook paper pack that was shown. I did have to a black/white (numbers) page that I had from somewhere. You may need a few packs to have a good mix of the styles that you want to use. I put the mini duck tape over the top of the clothespin and hot glued a tack to the back. I am still going to add a small picture of each student to the clothespin so we know who did the work! 🙂 I made the letters and used a variety of paper backgrounds that coordinated with the paper. 
*Here are the words: Our Best Work
2) Noodle Pictures – The first day of school we read the book, The Night Before First Grade by Natasha Wing. In the story, the students make pictures our of noodles and both girls (the new friends) make noodle poodles. I haven’t had anyone ever (successfully!) make a noodle poodle, but we make a unique creation with a variety of noodle shapes. They have fun and it gives them something to bring home on the first day.
3) This is a little decoration that I made for the door. I don’t have this one ready to be shared. I still need to add credits to the file and then I’ll list it as a free or paid product. I wanted a silver background (like a baking sheet) and thought wrapping paper would work better than aluminum foil. The good news is that it went over the door very easily. I just had to tape it to the top and let the roll gently down. I then used double sided tape to underneath. You can see a seam to the right. The roll of wrapping paper basically only covered the left side (I had a little leftover, but not enough to finish the door) so I had to buy a 2nd roll. My husband bought the 1st roll (from Wal-Mart) and I was shocked to see that this fancy Hallmark paper cost nearly $6. So, 2 rolls was a bit pricey! I do have leftovers that I can use for wrapping. I even thought about salvaging the paper and doing some other cookie themed doors (Christmas cookies, etc.) but I used double sided tape to attach the pictures so they are not moving at all. That is why the lettering in the middle isn’t centered – there was no way to get it to budge without tearing the paper. Live and learn! 🙂
4) An apple for the parent – The poem is a TPT freebie by Bethany Miller. The adorable ribbon is from Wal-Mart (surprise! it’s the only big store that is really close) and it only cost $1 a roll. You’ll probably need 2-3 rolls. I left this on the desks for Parent Orientation meetings. 
5) Picture props! I made a poster for my 1st graders to hold on the 1st day and then emailed the parents a copy. They really enjoyed it. This makes a special memory for the parents. I made them for preschool and PK-5th grade. It’s a free download here at TPT. 
Well, that’s all for now! I’m off to enjoy some family time on our holiday weekend. Enjoy your day!
~Melissa

Resource review ~ Stories and Songs in Second

I have a fun post for you today! Cara from Creative Playground invited several of us to “swap” products with another blogger and review their item. I’ve always wanted to do this. 🙂 There are so many creative products out there — hence, the huge wish list that  I have on TPT! So, Jennifer at Stories and Songs in Second swapped products with me. She is such a sweetheart and I was so impressed with her products. She is very thorough and includes many extras to help support the teacher.

Click on the picture to buy this activity at TPT

The first product that I reviewed was the adorable Rhyming Boot Scoot game. It has several ways that it can be played. There are 48 cards (24 sets of rhyming words). Before I tell you about some ways you can use the cards, let me share all the things that she included in this pack.

There is a page with the 2nd grade common core standards — not just the number, but the whole standard there for you to see. Rhyming is specifically addressed in the kindergarten CCSS. It’s also part of phonological awareness which is part of the CCSS Reading Foundational Skills. I’m always surprised by the number of first graders who struggle with rhyming. When my boys were little we would make a game out of rhyming words while we were in the car. It’s such a fun and easy thing for them to learn while they are little. Unfortunately, some don’t get any practice until they come to school and then we need to make sure they have lessons and practice time to master this skill.

Jennifer also includes suggestions for stories and songs (hence her blog and store name!!) that go with this product. There are some fun & lively songs that you could use to introduce this game. One of the books that she suggests if you are learning about cowboys is Magic Treehouse – Ghost Town at Sundown. That is a great suggestion! There are also many picture books with a cowboy theme. I’ve included links for 2 Cinderella-type cowboy stories. There are links to find the books on Amazon and links to listen to the stories on YouTube.
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Bubba the Cowboy Prince: You can listen to the story being read here.

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Cindy Ellen: You can listen to the story being read here.

This game provides a great opportunity for a vocabulary lesson about Wild West Words! You can use the books and stories to expand their vocabulary. These are the words from the game that I would discuss with my firsties before playing: bandana, chief, chuckle, corral, hire, outlaw, round-up, rust, steer and sundown.

Here are 3 ways that you can use these cards.

#1. Concentration ~ A Matching Game
You can use the cards for a memory / concentration game. There are 48 cards altogether. There are 2 types of cards – square ones & a smaller wanted card. They all match together. There  may be too many cards for some students. You could always choose to use fewer. Just make sure you use the matches (for instance, use 1-12 of the square cards and 1-12 of the wanted cards). Students will play it just like the regular game. All cards are placed face down. Students take turns choosing 2 cards. If their cards match, they get to keep the set. The student with the most matches wins the game.

#2. Read & write the room – You could put a wanted card on each student’s desk and make this a scoot type game. The students would go desk to desk and write a rhyming word at each desk. The other way you could use the cards is to attach them to things around the room. I usually put them on walls, sides of cabinets, pet tanks, etc. and just attach them with tape. Students then can put their worksheet (included in the pack!) on a clipboard and search for the cards. When they find a card, they write rhyming words in the corresponding box. Let them know how many words you want them to write.

#3 – Rhyme Round-Up – This is an independent activity. The worksheet is included in the pack. Students take 2 rhyming cards and write a sentence using both words. I will just have my 1st graders choose 1 card and they will write a sentence using that word.

I’m excited to use this game in my classroom. Visit Jennifer’s store to purchase this item for your classroom. She is offering this item as a $1 deal through this Sunday! That is an amazing deal!!

Jennifer has a great back-to-school product that will help your students get to know each other. This Super Sleuth Student activity has interactive notebook pages. The students can put these in their notebooks and complete each section. Shhh! It’s top secret! Tell them to be careful not to let the other students see their writing. Then you can put the notebooks around the room and students can guess who wrote each one. You could even use these to graph information – How many of them have the same favorite food?

For my 1st graders, I would put the pieces into a file folder. You won’t be able to use all of the pieces that are included in the kit if you do this, but it will give them less writing which will work perfectly for this time of the year. I would suggest having them cut out the pieces, but you or another adult should glue or tape them into the folders so they are even and the pieces all fit. You could use double-sided tape. I used my Scotch ATG (advanced tape glider) which I LOVE for projects like this. It is basically double sided tape, but it rolls on easily and it doesn’t leave any bumps. To glue or tape the tabs, just bend the tab backwards and then forward (like the 2 bottom pictures above this section). This makes it easier to see the line for the crease and leaves the tab ready to be glued or taped.

For the inside pieces (that will flap up), I would trace lightly around the piece with a pencil. That way when the student lifts the tab their writing area is defined. I would have the students draw pictures for some of the prompts (favorite food) and then label the picture. If you have birthdays displayed in the classroom, the My birthday is…prompt is a good way to show them where that information is and for them to find their birthday on the chart or wall display. There are a few prompts that will require a written answer such as My Favorite Movie is…. I would have them use Guess and Go spelling for those ones. When they are finished, collect their folders and put a sticky note on each one with their name. You can then review the folders and ask students any clarifying questions. Chances are there will be some answers that you won’t be able to decipher! 🙂 You can then read each folder to the class and have the students guess which student created that folder.When they are all finished, I would have them write their name on the front — it would look cute inside the magnifying glass! Parents will love this keepsake activity that will remind them of the first few weeks of school! This Super Sleuth Student activity pack can be purchased in Jennifer’s store.

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For more product reviews, stop by these other blogs who are participating in the product swap.

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New TPT item! Mega Calendar Pack

I’ve been working on this mega calendar pack f-o-r-e-v-e-r!  I always underestimate how long it will take to make things.  This one is over 100 pages.  I included month & number cards (for pocket chart) for each month.  Coordinating year cards (for the next 4 years) — I never find these in calendar packs & I end up typing up a plain little year sign to add to it!  It also includes months of the year and days of the week posters.  These are long posters (2 or 3 pages each) with a border.  There is a mini poster of the poem to remember how many days are in each month.  Today is, yesterday was and tomorrow will be cards are included along with the days of the week cards.  These should all be laminated and have velcro attached so that the student can display the correct day of the week.  There is a place for the student to write the date and the time along with am/pm cards.  There are 3 weather wheels: temperature (cold, warm, hot, etc.), season, weather (windy, snowy, etc.).  There are also cards for major US holidays and some for field trip, no school & tests.  The cards all have a cute chevron pattern for the background.  Each month has a unique theme.

I’ve decided to offer each new product for 50% off for the first 48 hours.  So, now is a great time to pick up this mega calendar set!

New {School} Year Resolution Linky Party

Where did summer go?  As we quickly approach the first day, we are all scrambling to get done all those many things on our to-do list.  If you’re like me, as soon as the school year ends you are reflecting on the past year and the things you want to change or improve for the next year.  Amanda at Teaching Maddeness is having a New {School} Year Resolutions linky party.   What a great idea!


# 1 – More parent communication – both the positive and things that need work!  I took a lot of pictures last year, but never managed to get them posted to the school site so parents could see them.  I really want them to be able to enjoy these great pics of their sweeties!  We are getting a new software system so that everything will be computerized (attendance, lunch count, grades, etc. – we’ve been doing attendance on paper and the secretary had to enter it into the computer!).  It will be so nice!  So, they will see all behavior problems, etc.

# 2 – Earlier lesson planning – I end up at the school doing lesson plans EVERY week!  I have a 25 minute planning period, but that just seems to be enough time to take a restroom break, eat a snack, clean up around the room (always a disaster!) and make sure everything is set up for the rest of the day.  I’m going to try a few things: 1) Don’t clean up after them!  I don’t know if I can do this.  Before specials (my planning time) is just barely enough time to get through reading.  Perhaps we’ll have a clean up time after they come back and eat their snacks.  2) Try to be more effective after school.  My 2 boys come into my room and it seems it is often distracting – even when they’re being super good.  They want a snack or 1 of their friends want to come visit.  I’m going to try to make that homework time this year — no playing, no friends.  If we all have a “quiet” time I might be able to accomplish something! 🙂

# 3 – More read-a-louds – This is more of a wish than a resolution.  I have had a terrible time with losing my voice during the school year.  I am fine during the summer!  I have been to the allergist and ENT for advice.  The ENT said my voice box is scarred (probably from clearing my throat) and suggested cutting back on acidic foods – which for me is primarily soda.  I was drinking a lot of diet cherry coke!  I’ve tried eliminating it completely in the past and have gone a few months and then I have one and I’m back to all my old habits!  I decided this summer to not eliminate it, but not to stock it at all (home or school).  So, if I am really craving one I need to go to the store to buy it.  It has worked wonders.  I only have a soda a couple times a week at most.  I am earnestly praying that this was the main culprit and that I will be able to talk like a normal person next year!  I really need my voice!

What are your resolutions for the school year?  Follow the link above to Amanda’s site to read what others are doing.

P.S.  I was excused from jury duty today!  So relieved!  I was in the jury pool for a civil case and then they moved us to the jury pool for a criminal case because not enough jurors showed up.  Thankfully I was not randomly selected for the jury box.

~Melissa