Monday, April 7, 2014

Animal Bites Series: Teach Main Idea and Text Features Using an Informational Article (American Alligator)

This latest product has been such a labor of love.  I originally had the idea because the child I am tutoring needed to work on finding the main idea and use using nonfiction text features. So I decided to get crackin'.

And then I saw this you tube clip about the woman feeding an alligator and calling it puppy.  

It was actually kinda sad.

But it planted an idea.  And here is the result.

The pack includes an informational article I wrote about the American Alligator.  According to Lexile it is an 820L, but the second grade child I am working with read it with support similar to guided reading. According to CCS, 820L fits in the 2nd-3rd grade band.

The pack includes three vocabulary cards with real photographs that we went over before reading. We also completed a circle map to activate prior knowledge.

Then we started reading the article.  The child loved it!! I tried to incorporate lots of text features.  It pretty much has everything, but a graph!

After reading the article, the child completed the main idea questions. The questions all focus on finding the main idea of each section, except for one question that focuses on a text feature (the chart).

I also made the child go back and underline in the article text evidence for the main idea. It was a huge success!

The pack also includes a graphic organizer (which include finding supporting details) for each heading in the article or the main idea of the entire article.  Since second grade doesn't include supporting details in the CCS and the child needs work on just finding the main idea, I stuck with the questions.

We also started on the next part of the pack: a text feature hunt! I shrunk the article to all fit on one page so students could cut it up examples of the text features and glue in the book.  I also included definitions that students can cut up and glue onto the page as well. 

We just started the book, so there is not much done...yet. :)

Here is a preview of the 29 page product.

It is available in my store for only $3.75!! This is the first in a series (I have a WHOLE bunch of ides!).  Next up is the honey bee!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Spring Cleaning Sale!

Big News!!!

Yahoo!  We are all having a Spring Cleaning SALE so it is time to 

Click the image below to head on over to my 
TPT Shop to take advantage of my Spring Cleaning Sale!  

 Beth Ann from Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah Designs created this HUGE, amazing sale  picture!  Thanks Beth Ann!

Want to see all the participating stores?  Check out the link up at Georgia Grown Kiddos!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Main Idea and Stuff Like That

I just started working with a child once a week. It is great to get my toes back in the water and work with kids, but not  the classroom and all the paper work glory. :) I am sure you understand what I am talking about, am I right?

One of the skills we are working on is main idea.

I thought I would share a few ideas from our sessions to see if they give you any ideas!!

First thing was to do a little brainstorming to activate some prior knowledge.  We created a circle map and wrote what we thought and wondered  about parrots inside.  Then we listed words we though we *might* see in a book about parrots.


I also went over a few tricky words.

The next thing we did was read a few pages from this Reading A to Z book

As we read the book we checked off any facts that were correct and any words that were in the book from our predicted list.

After we finished reading we talked about main idea.  We defined it and then I modeled how to find the main idea using one paragraph from the book.  Then, I asked the child to find the main idea of another paragraph and highlight it. Next,  I asked the child to go back and underline in pen any text evidence that support the main idea.  I explained that these are called supporting details.

It went over really well.  Kids love pens and highlighters!  Anything to make it work, right?

I found these FREE task cards on Proteacher made unseen001.  You can get them if you create a FREE account with Proteacher.  I printed out a few of them.

I used these as game cards.  I made a simple game board using Creative Clips board game clip art. 

 We used two sided counters as game tokens and flipped a penny to move (heads was 2 spaces, tails as 1 space).   We flipped the coin, drew the main idea cards from above, and answered them.  I also mixed in a few dare cards.  These went over REALLLLY well :0). Click on either picture to get the game board and dare cards.

Then we did a one of the sheets from Creekside Teacher Tales' Main Idea Practice pack as a quick little check.  We are not done yet.  We will continue to work on this next week! :)

And ONE more thing...

I  need to announce the winner of the 10 cm Geometric Shapes from EAI.  The winner is 

Cora Baldwin

Yahoo!  Congrats!  I have already sent an email!  Thanks to all that entered!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Geometry Goodies

Do you struggle with geometry as much as I did? I shared earlier lots of the hands on activities that we did, but it still never "clicked."

In the past my students have really struggled with all the vocabulary.  I have to admit, a LARGE portion of my class had some kind language impairment and I think this really made it hard for some students to grasp all the terms.

If I could go back and "redo" it, I would use these calendar pieces my two friends created. Their calendar pieces are a spiraling review and would have helped some of those kiddos to hear and see it EVERY day. Live and learn, right?

This may look like a total **squirrel**, but I swear it isn't!

I was thrilled when EAI Education contacted me to review a product of my choice a few weeks ago. I couldn't believe my luck.   They sent me Geomodel Everyday Folding Shapes 10 cm.

See? Not a squirrel. Totally related to geometry.


I have to say, these things are absolutely amazing. I wish I had them when I was in the classroom. I actually had a similar set when I taught, but these ARE SO MUCH BETTER.   The ones I had where like these- clear geometric solids that had removable bottoms.  Kids could take out the paper insert and see the net. Nice, right?

Let me tell you how these take it up a notch!  This set includes 26 different nets for kids to insert into the solids shapes to transform them into everyday objects!! Ack! So now it actually LOOKS like  a soup can or ice cream cone! Perfect for real world connections.  It also has 25 question cards that would be perfect for a game of Scoot or to use in small groups.  I can't say enough positive things about this set. They are $29.95 online right now and they are worth every bit of that and more.

But I am not done yet.  They were nice enough to send me the 5 cm set to give away! It is just the same, without the question cards. But I think I am going to do switch-a-roo!  I am going to give away the 10 cm set! Honestly, they are just too good for me to horde away until I go back into the classroom.  A classroom of kids needs to play with these ASAP!

EAI was kind enough to also share an EXCLUSIVE shipping code for my followers!!!  FREE shipping for orders over $30!!! Woo hoo! The code is MT4TFS2014 and will be active for only 30 days! There are a few exclusions, so make sure you double check to make sure it works.

Enter for your set here!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I have one more piece of randomness!  I made a geometry freebie! Woo hoo!  If you got all the way to the bottom of this post, you deserve it!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Historical People Pockets

I have been working hard on a series called Historical People Pockets since the fall.  It focuses on the nine figures studied in Georgia in third grade.

I created a pack perfect for interactive notebooking, but can also be self-contained in the included "People Pocket."

Here is an example of all the materials included in the Cesar Chavez pack.

All nine figures are FINALLY finished!

Each pack costs $4.75.  

I also created a review pack PERFECT for CRCT test prep.

Four different activities are included (Who am I? matching game, Scoot game, Quiz, Quiz, Trade cards, and a Power Point with matching book for students to fill out to create a study guide).

I have bundled all the figures AND the review for a steal at only $39!

Because the bundle wasn't available until now and many buyers have purchased the individual packs as I released them, I am offering the review pack FREE to anyone that has purchased the packs for ALL NINE figures.

Simply email me at to receive yours!  Thank you!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Bright Idea: Organizing Incoming Papers from Students

I bet you guys collected a TON of awesome ideas with the last Bright Ideas Blog Hop!   I LOVED reading all the creativity and sheer brilliance in all these classrooms! I am so excited to participate in another one!

Last blog hop I shared about practicing math facts in the hall. Short and sweet.

This one will be too, because that is how I roll! :)

Today I am going to share about one of my most FAVORITE organizing tools in the classroom: the clasp envelope.

Nature Saver Clasp Envelopes - Yellow - 100 / Box

First, I am going to take a right turn (squirrel!) and share a second favorite organizing tool for the classroom: mini class lists. I use these whenever I collect papers from students. LOVE THESE!

I simply open a Word document and insert a 2 by 2 table.  Then I type a class list in each cell so I get four mini class lists to a page.  I LOVE my mini lists!  I always kept a stack of them behind my table. I used them  ALL THE TIME.

OK, back to the star of the show: the clasp envelopes.

When it was time to collect papers like permission slips, beginning of the year paper work, mid term reports, anything that I needed to keep track of to make sure each child returned I pulled out a clasp envelope and stapled a class list to it. Then as students returned the papers, I crossed his or her name off the list, and put the paper in clasp envelope.  When I received all the papers. I wrote the name on the side of the envelope, and filed it! 

I also used the same idea with just regular old file folders!  This worked perfectly for the writing samples from each genre I had to keep from each student.  I simply made a narrative fie, stapled the class list to it, and put the entire classes' work in it.  Much better than filing it in each kids portfolio and then have to pull them out to be refiled in a (different) end of year file.

  I actually kept several sizes on hand in my classroom.  Students used the 6 x 9" to store their classroom money in. Then I used the 9 x 12 and the 10 x 13" sizes for a variety of different things- like filing papers and centers. The 9 x 12 " size fits nicely in a file cabinet!

If you are looking for more great ideas about awesomely cheap math manipulatives, please visit the next blog on this blog hop, written by Sarah! She shares some great tips!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Bright Idea: Keep Em' Learning in the Hall!

I am so tickled to be teaming up with over ONE HUNDRED other bloggers to share new, bright ideas!  If you click on through this blog hop, you will collect 100 new ideas and tips for your teaching bag. Start working out those arms, that sucker is going to get heavy! LOL!

I am going to share a quick idea one of my awesome friends shared with me (this is you, Angie!) to keep students learning in the halls.  Bathroom breaks can be such a time sucker, but are a necessary evil (unless you want your kids to wet their pants, and that is just sad!).

My friend hung a 3m Command hook by the door.  She took several index cards and wrote + 2, +10, +100 on them.  As the class exits the room she grabs the cards of the hook.  While students are waiting in the hall, she can go through the line and give the students a number and then show a card. Students then have to mentally add what is on the card to the original number. 

This can be done a million different ways.  The teacher can give each child a new number to add 2, 10, or 100, or it can be a skip counting activity where students can continue to add that number on the card to the answer from the student in front of them.

You could do this with flash cards with math facts, sight words, spelling words, the list just goes on and on. Time is precious, let's use up every bit!

If you are looking for more great ideas, please visit the next blog on this blog hop, written by Nicole! She shares some great tips on  partner talk!