It’s Time to Start Again

Posted by on Aug 5, 2013 in Freebies, general school, vocabulary, vocabulary development | 0 comments

It’s Time to Start Again

If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?

– John Wooden

I am headed to my classroom this morning to begin organizing it for another school year. I have created so many new things for my penguin decor that i am not even sure that I have all of it. I still have more to do; labels, name cards, etc.

I can’t wait to get my new list of names. With technology, these days I can look at pictures and begin to learn their faces before I even meet them. I love carefully printing each name on their nametags, but I especially love it when I redo nametags in cursive in about 6 weeks. I love writing in cursive. My best work looks like a Zaner Bloser handwriting manual. Unfortunately, these days there is not enough time to teach cursive well.

In a recent post I expressed my goal to conquer my paper mess this school year. A teaching goal that I have is to do a better job teaching writing. I really need to work on conferencing. I’ve been learning more about what a conference should look like/sound like this summer. It seems to be just the help I need to get this going well. I hope it works! This was a particularly useful website:

Part of holding a conference is having children feeling comfortable with the language of writing. I decided that to help them become comfortable, they need to practice it more often then we have in the past. To this end I plan to use peer writing conferences often, maybe even daily. We have been asked at my school to use sentence stems more often to help children speak in complete sentences. And while I do this daily with our mentor sentence, I felt that this could be another perfect spot to practice that skill. Students will use their writing vocabulary, practice complete sentences, and grow as writers all at once.

I developed a (penguin themed) peer writing conference bulletin board to post in my classroom. It has the added benefit of making great use of the bulletin board that was less than well used last year. I also created jungle, monster, ocean, owl, and black frame themes.  I even have a couple “pick a partner” activities planned so that we can get moving and meeting new friends everyday.

Here’s one of them. You can download it for free here or purchase it for $1.00 in my TpT store by clicking on the cover.

Find a Partner


I will be taking pictures as I put my (penguin themed) room together. I can’t wait to share.

I’d love to read anything you want to share about writing conferences or ways to pick partners. (I want to make one of those clock activities for that somehow involving penguins.) You can add any posts or products about writing here:




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Stopping Paper Clutter

Posted by on Aug 3, 2013 in Freebies, general school | 2 comments

Stopping Paper Clutter

Status quo, you know, is Latin for ‘the mess we’re in’.

– Ronald Reagan



Monday Morning after staying for 3 hours on Friday to grade and clean up papers!



Tuesday Morning, working on Tuesday folders


Wednesday Morning the mess is starting to take over!

I really have a goal of taming the paper mess in my classroom. The pictures above are from Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of a week when I was REALLY TRYING to keep papers organized and my work space uncluttered. I am not showing Thursday and Friday; it is just too sad.

I’ve read a few blogs on organization over the summer. This one is great:

I have a plan and I think it will help. I am going to label specific baskets for specific papers. I am going to think of them as (and call them) paper drop spots. I’ve been working on the labels:

Drop Spots

Drop Spot Labels


The ones for my classroom actually have a penguin font! These labels match my penguin decor. Many penguin decor items are available here:

This includes my Penguin Birthday Chart that is a cute freebie!

Penguin Birthday Chart Freebie


I went out to buy more baskets yesterday, but my Dollar General didn’t have any! So I will be out shopping for them again before school starts.

Some of the things I have been doing in my classroom with papers turned out to be a really good plan. I just need to keep up with my plan. AND if I have another student teacher this year, I need to train her (or him) about the plan.

If you have class organization ideas to share, please post them in the comments.

If you have an organizational product you’d like to highlight, please add it to the linky.



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Brain Breaks

Posted by on Aug 2, 2013 in Freebies, vocabulary development | 1 comment

Brain Breaks

“I like nonsense, it wakes up brain cells.”  – Dr. Seuss

Brain Breaks

We’ve learned that regularly incorporating short movement activities into the instructional day allows children to get their ‘wiggles’ out, and energizes them and increases their ability to focus on the next learning activity.

Find It in a Flash

This activity helps students make associations (which also helps develop vocabulary).  The teacher needs a set of flashcards with colors,  shapes, letters, or numbers etc. For a quick brain break randomly flash a card, students must quickly find five things in the classroom the correspond to that card. For example, flash a square, students tell their shoulder partner or team 5 items in the room that are square, contain a square, etc. Flash red, find 5 red items. Flash “L” find five items that start with L or find the letter L posted in 5 places in the room. Flash 3 and students must find 5 things that come in threes in the room.

I have created 24 flashcards for colors, shapes, letters, and numbers for you to download free or buy it from my TpT store by clicking on the picture.

Find It in a Flash




Are You For Real?

I love this brain break because it is all about vocabulary! The teacher gives an unfamiliar word (for example, tintinnabulation) along with 2 definitions (the sound of bells or covering something with foil). Students are asked to discuss the word and definitions and decide together which definition is for real.

The Seat Exchange

During a review session, students who answer a question correctly switch seats with the person in front, behind, or to the left or right of them. Be sure to have many questions ready for much movement.

And If You Are Really Brave

Would you like to share a favorite brain break? Please write about it in the comments.

If you would like to share a product add it to the linky!



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Help, I Need a Name!

Posted by on Jul 29, 2013 in Freebies, general school | 2 comments

Help, I Need a Name!

I’ve a grand memory for forgetting.

– Robert Louis Stevenson

I have a fun plan for those pesky “No Name” papers. I am going to put this poster on my whiteboard and keep some penguin magnets nearby. I will attach the papers under the sign for the students to claim. The penguin clip art is from The font is KristenITC.

Help! I Need a Name!


Penguin Name

I have been searching for some new magnets for this plan. I just ordered these:

I made these for those of you with an owl theme or an ocean. I used an owl and a fish by My Cute Graphics and the font is by Miss Galvin Learns, MGL Writes Well.

"Owl" need a name on this, please!


Owl name

Please "hook" a name to this paper!


Fish Name

Well, back to creating my amazing penguin filled classroom! You can find my completed items here:


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Helping Kids Remember

Posted by on Jul 28, 2013 in Freebies | 0 comments

Helping Kids Remember

“If you wish to forget anything on the spot, make a note that this thing is to be remembered.”
― Edgar Allan Poe

Each day as we teach our students, we are hoping they will remember the important things we are telling them. Teachers use many devices to help kids remember. When we present something in a unique way, it sets it apart, makes it special, makes it memorable.

I especially like to use songs to help students learn. My classes have loved the multiplication songs we’ve learned. For example (sung to Jingle Bells):

3, 6, 9

12, 15

18, 21

24, 27, 30 Oh, what fun.

33, 36

I heard my students singing quietly during work or test time to find the right answer.

Chants are also a fun way to introduce and remember new information. Chanting has many of the benefits of song:
It uses rhythm and rhyme in an enjoyable way.
It provides patterns that can make learning easier.
It builds children’s confidence in oral language.
It can promote a sense of community, which is conducive to learning.
It provides a change of pace and mood to improve student motivation.
It offers opportunities for repeated readings, which build fluency.
It can serve as a writing prompt, offering students the chance to write new verses.

I make a big deal about key words, especially for math. “Each and every” help students know to multiply, while “how many more” tells students to subtract.

Word Walls are a current method which displays words as an interactive tool for teaching reading and spelling to children.

Word walls have many benefits. They teach children to recognize and spell high frequency words, see patterns and relationship in words build phonemic awareness skills and apply phonics rules. Word walls also provide reference support for children during reading and writing activities. Children learn to be independent as they use the word walls in daily activities.

Word walls can also be used:

  • To support the teaching of important general principals about words and how they work.
  • To promote independence on the part of students as they work with words in writing and reading.
  • To provide a visual map to help children remember connections between words and the characteristics that will help them form categories.
  • To develop a growing core of words that become part of a reading and writing vocabulary.
  • To provide reference for children during their reading and writing.

Desk charts are a similar device. These are especially helpful for students who have difficulty transferring words on a wall to their own work.

I LOVE mnemonics!

My students remember the spelling of many words by using memory aids. When dealing with homophones, we discover that the hear you do with your ear has the word ear in it. The meat that you eat contains the word eat. The there that can be replaced with the word here (Put the package there – Put the package here.) contains the word here. This also works with the word “where”. Where is it? Here.

We find that together is spelled with to-get-her and that there is “a rat” in separate.

Another great memory tool is acronyms. FANBOYS  helps us remember the connectors; for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so.

ROY G. BIV gives us the colors of the rainbow. HOMES remings of the names of the Great Lakes.

We also have sentences to remind of us information or spelling.

For example, “My very excited mother just served us noodles (or nine pies)” can help us remember the order of the planets. And “Big elephants can always understand small elephants” can help us spell the word “because”.



Please join the discussion and share some ideas you use for helping kids remember!



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A Person Who…

Posted by on Jul 7, 2013 in conversation as learning tool, example non-example, Freebies | 4 comments

A Person Who…
Blogging is best learned by blogging…and by reading other bloggers.
                                                                                           – George Siemen
And so a person who blogs is a blogger, although they might have been a bloggor, a bloggist, a bloggant, a bloggart or even a bloggarian. And who is the bloggee? The person writing or the person reading? Who decides with brand new words? How do they grow and become recognized so quickly?
While working on a product on suffixes, I started noticing all of the suffixes that mean a”a person who”. I had never thought about servant having a suffix and meaning “a person who serves”. Yet here comes to mind immigrant, inhabitant, celebrant, participant, already to taunt me for not seeing them before.
Do I think learning all of these word endings would be beneficial to my little people (third graders)? Yes, I do. If by learning, I mean being exposed to, playing with, talking about. No, I don’t. If by learning I mean drilling and testing.
How about an example/non-example lesson. Have a list of maybe 20 words with suffixes. Be sure about half of them have suffixes that mean “a person who” (teacher, walker, artist, scientist,  inventor, translator, librarian, vegetarian, contestant, defendant…). Start making two lists, students pay attention to the words to determine why they are examples or non-examples.
A “find an ending” matching game could be fun and would involve movement and discussion in the classroom. Half the students would have a card with a root word and the other half have a suffix meaning “a person who”. They link up with a partner when their two word parts create a “person” noun. They could then share the word and how they knew it was a good word with the class.


Suffix Chart
This chart is be a part of my Suffix Scavenger Hunt. Click on the poster for a link.
Don’t forget it is Fabulous Flash Freebie Sunday! They will be announced on my Facebook page.  I have also added a Freebies for Fans button on my Facebook page and have added a free gift for my followers.
Flash Freebie Sundays
I think I want to be a bloggart. It seems like I could be a blogger with a bit of a braggart inside. Anyone else?
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