Scrabble Adds a Selfie

Posted by on Aug 6, 2014 in vocabulary, word study | 0 comments

“[Calvin and Hobbes are playing Scrabble.]
Calvin: Ha! I’ve got a great word and it’s on a “Double word score” box!
Hobbes: “ZQFMGB” isn’t a word! It doesn’t even have a vowel!
Calvin: It is so a word! It’s a worm found in New Guinea! Everyone knows that!
Hobbes: I’m looking it up.
Calvin: You do, and I’ll look up that 12-letter word you played with all the Xs and Js!
Hobbes: What’s your score for ZQFMGB?
Calvin: 957.”
― Bill Watterson, Scientific Progress Goes Boink

Scrabble added 5,000 new words to its official dictionary. My mom and two of my sisters are big Scrabble freaks, well, especially the sisters. They play online. They talk words and scores. They have all of the two letter words memorized. I do not play Scrabble to their level. I was surprised to learn that “za” is a word. It is just a shortened form of pizza. They use “xi” and “qat”. I need to know what my words mean. Also given the large hours they practice between our opportunities to play together, I am usually at a disadvantage. However, a win is really sweet!

The new words showcase how languages are living and growing entities. Words go out of usage (but I’m sure they stay in the Scrabble dictionary), new words come in. The word “selfie” is a great example. Although it is a very young words it is already being used by people of all ages. My 90 year old mother spoke of not taking a selfie after falling on her face a couple of weeks ago. My 8 month old great-nephew recognizes the word “selfie” and gets ready to pose. Some other new words include

BEATBOX, BROMANCE, CHILLAX, DA, FRENEMY, GI, HASHTAG, JOYPAD, MIXTAPE, MOJITO, PO, SUDOKU, TE,  TEXTER, VODCAST, and VLOG. I was clueless about the word “joypad”. I looked it up and was glad to have my inferences validated!

I think Scrabble can be a great game for both spelling and vocabulary practice. Third grade is a good age to get started, but children need to have guidance and support in the beginning. It needs to be a positive experience when they start playing. Of course, everyone can’t win, but everyone can find words.

Spelling Worksheet Scrabble


This spelling practice worksheet has a Scrabble-like activity, that can be kind of fun! You can find it here.

It’ll be interesting to hear what my sisters think of the new words. I know they will be excited to have more 2 letter words. I wonder how many of us are planning to buy my mom a new Scrabble Dictionary for Christmas!


Read More

Summer Writing

Posted by on May 11, 2014 in conversation as learning tool, vocabulary, vocabulary development | 0 comments

Summer Writing

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”
― Toni Morrison

Writing is a good way to stretch vocabulary development. As students struggle to find a perfect word they may try out words on the edge of their understanding. This effort to find the right word can lead to conversations about why or why not that new word works in that context. These conversations can lead to other new words to try.

Reading Recovery Council of North America makes these suggestions what works when using writing to increase vocabulary:


  • Engaging the child in meaningful conversations when constructing messages
  • Guiding the child to use his oral language to compose  a message or story and then to write it, encouraging increasingly more complex messages

Writing is an important component of language building. This prereading activity also makes a great prewriting activity.

List – Group – Label

List all of the words you can think of that are related to the topic. Once you have created your list, group the words based on their similarities. Label each group when you are finished. Students can then write a paragraph from the ideas for each label.

When used as a prewriting strategy, this activity helps students organize prior knowledge, as well as try out new words for writing and/or have conversations about needed words that are not clearly known or understood.


Summer List Group Label

I have created a Summer Writing Flapbook to keep my students engaged in writing throughout the summer. It has 32 small writing tasks, so maybe every three days they can stop for a short while and write. The prompts include lists, research, fiction, narrative, and research writing. They also have a choice in what they write.

Summer Writing Flapbook



The June page has the option of a father and son silhouette instead of father and daughter. It also has the option of a “My Hero” writing for students who don’t celebrate Father’s Day.



Each month has a calendar for students to circle, then write about, important dates in their lives. All of the pages in the Summer Writing Flapbook are also included in black and white.

Do you have any summer writing ideas that you would like to share?


Read More

Saturday Extra: Good Citizen Foldable

Posted by on Aug 31, 2013 in Freebies, vocabulary, vocabulary development | 0 comments

Saturday Extra: Good Citizen Foldable

I hope everyone who is back to school is enjoying a great start. I know I am with my 18 third graders. We’ve learned a lot about each other this week. I am anxious to do some beginning of year testing to better understand each child’s needs (but not before I enjoy my long weekend, of course).

I am enjoying my long weekend by creating for my classroom and for my Teachers Pay Teachers store! This is what I truly love to do.

We have been asked to begin using a social studies interactive notebook this year.  So I will be creating several types of foldables throughout the year, that I will then share!

Today I made a social studies foldable for us to use in our classroom next week. We will be studying some vocabulary words that describe a good citizen: respectful, responsible, fair, honest, caring, informed, determined, etc. We use words from both a “Be a Good Citizen” lesson in our reading text and pages in our social studies text.

On the foldable the students will write a complete sentence on the back of each flap, then draw a picture of themself performing the act they described under the flap.

We are also making another foldable for defining and illustrating the terms.

Good Citizen Foldable

Good Citizen Foldable

Here are directions for creating the second foldable.

Directions for 4-page book foldable

I have several products you might be interested in for social studies incluing ones on government and the Pledge of Allegiance.



Enjoy your holiday! Have a great week!


Read More

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. http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Peer-Writing-Conference-Bulletin-Board-Penguin-Theme-809132 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:




Read More

August? Already?!

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

Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it.

– Russell Baker

This morning I was wondering about how August got its name. I thought it was named for Augustus Caesar, but I wasn’t sure if  that was accurate. Well, I was right and I learned some really cool stuff! Did you know that August was originally the SIXTH month and its name was “Sextillia” which is Latin for sixth? I knew September, October, November , and December were all misnomers as their prefixes mean seven, eight, nine, and ten.

What I didn’t know was the March used to be the first month! Until 1752 the British and their colonies celebrated New Years at the spring equinox around March 22! Now all of the misnamed months make sense.

The word April may come from the Latin word for second, the Latin word for “to open” because of flowers blooming, or the Roman goddess Aphrodite. Its origin is not certain.

Februa used to be an end of year celebration and around 690 B.C. it became a whole month of celebration and was named February. January, March, and May are all named for Roman gods or goddesses while July, just as I thought is named for Julius Caesar. However, before he laid claim to the month, it was named “Quintilis,” which is Latin for fifth.

So much great information, and great for vocabulary building!

Yesterday I redid all of my birthday charts, because a buyer asked if they could be bigger and have more lines. The new ones are 8 by 5.25. The 12 months will need about 5 feet of space to display. The small charts are still available.


Larger penguin birthday  chart

The Penguin Birthday chart is a freebie.

Larger Monster birthday chartFind all of the birthday charts here:


What are some calendar activities you do with your class? Please link us to a favorite or post it in the comments. You can find over 4000 of them at TpT!


Read More

Top 10 Favorites for Back to School from My TpT Wishlist

Posted by on Jul 31, 2013 in vocabulary | 0 comments

“You did everything penguinly possible.” –Happy Feet 2006

Top 10 Favorites for BTS Wishlist

I am really gearing up for “Back to School.” Yesterday I shopped online for new shoes, a penguin t-shirt for “Meet the Teacher”, a penguin mug for my classroom, penguin magnets, and penguin decals. I went to Walmart for folders , crayons, markers, notepads, pencils, pens, and Sharpies. I still need to find composition books. I can’t believe I forgot them.

I have created all new penguin decor for my classroom and it seems like everyday I think of something else to make. I have also added to my wishlist almost daily when I read about new products from the sellers I follow on TpT.

I thought today I would share my Top 10 newest picks. (I have over 170 items on my wishlist.) 5 will be freebies and 5 will be paid. I put freebies on my wishlist all of the time. That way I can find them when I want them. I have never saved an item (freebie or paid, except for clip art) onto my computer. I feel like I wouldn’t know how. (Silly, I know.)

Anyway, here they are, freebies first:

1.  Laura Santos has speeding tickets for students who rush through their work too quickly! I think this is an excellent idea and would be effective for those who really don’t care about quality.


Here is what she says about her product, “If you notice your students are having trouble remembering to take their time, write neatly and edit their final product, you can give them a speeding ticket. Not only will they be required to correct their “violation”, they are also required to pay a fine, further motivating them to avoid future violations.”

2.  The “Voice Level Posters” from TheHappyTeacher  are awesome. They are in the popular chalkboard style.


She includes these levels:

Voice Level 0: Silent
Voice Level 1: Whisper
Voice Level 2: Partners
Voice Level 3: Group
Voice Level 4: Presentation
Voice Level 5: Outside

3.  Ciera Harris provides a great product for those early finishers. It is called “What Do I Do When I Am Done?” She includes 16 task cards, plus blanks for writing your own.


4.  Weather Task Cards from The Science Penguins will add to my weather unit. I love that it will make a complete science center.  This free file includes 12 review task cards about weather map symbols, tools, and climate. A student recording sheet and answer key are included.


Weather Task Cards

5.  This persuasive writing activity is genius. You ask your students to persuade you to let them do something special in the classroom. It is by Third Grade Galore.


Persuasive Writing Activity Freebie

These 5 are paid items that I REALLY want!

6.  Little Red’s Informational Reading Passages are all over my wishlist! Todays Product Update included this one (okay so actually three – I just love her!):




Informational Reading Passages with Comprehension Question

She has at least 6 packets available with plans for 8. Each one has 20 passages, so it will be enough for the entire year! I love how she includes vocabulary!!

7.  Laura Santos is back on my list with a Brain Break Bucket. She includes 25 ideas that can be done in 3 minutes or less.


Brain Breaks Bucket

8.  MrHughes has the coolest dodecahedron projects! Maybe I love them just because I love the word “dodecahedron”! Here is one I plan to use to help promote mastery of multiplication facts. I think the kids will enjoy this.


Math Facts Mastery: Multiplication Edition Dodecahedron Kit

9.  The Science Penguin returns with Primary Science Notebook Activities. I am having a difficult time choosing between this one and her other sets! They all include amazing foldables!



Primary Science Notebook Activities


10. I am in love with Lovin’ Lit’s Ultimate Interactive Notebook Template Collection! This set can be used for any subject AND she gives permission for sellers to use them in their own products! This one is a MUST have.


The Ultimate Interactive Notebook Template Collection (Bla

Okay, now that I have 10, I can’t believe some of the things I missed, for example:

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/The-Tower-of-Books-Challenge-An-Independent-Reading-Challenge-684824  The “Tower of Books” Challenge {An Independent Reading Challenge} by Michael Friermood

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Landforms-Task-Cards-110-task-cards-for-11-different-landforms-common-core-637555 Landforms Task Cards – 110 task cards for 11 different landforms – common core by Tiny TOes

Oh, and anything by Rachel Lynette.

There’s so much great stuff available! Please share some of your favorites and must haves! Or join my Linky Party!





Read More