Central Message, Lesson, and Theme, Oh My!

This week we are starting our unit on Fairy  Tales.  We thought this would be a perfect tie in for stories such as Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood (don't talk to strangers, anyone!?!)  Before jumping into the familiar fairy tales and trying to find the central message, lesson, or even theme I thought we should at least discuss what these things ARE.

We first compared nonfiction and fiction.

I wrote this out quickly on the board and couldn't get it all in the photo.  We talked about how the central message, theme, or lesson is often the big idea the author is trying to get across to the reader (VERY basic here, since they have so little background with this) and how it is similar to the main idea in nonfiction text.  The main idea is often the BIG idea in the text.  A big difference between the two is that the big idea in a fiction story is always almost implied, but in nonfiction it can sometimes be stated directly in the text.

Now I can not take credit for the next activity.  Lester Laminick shared it at one of his training I attended and I LOVED it!

Then I showed a picture of a car covered in bumper stickers.  I talked about how bumper stickers get across a big idea to the viewer with very few words and usually a picture.

Then we looked at several bumper stickers and determined the big idea.

For example we talked that the "big idea" of this bumper sticker is peace on earth.  Then we talked about what this means and HOW we can have peace on Earth.  What do  we need to do?

This "big idea" of this bumper sticker is to wear your seat belt.  We discussed why?  What does it mean to be ready?  Ready for what?

The last bumper sticker was the best.  I felt we had the best conversation about it.
The "big idea" if this bumper sticker is to take care of the Earth.  We talked about which mother the sticker referred to and listed ways to take care of the Earth.

Then we related the "big idea" to what we have been studying in Social Studies- Jackie Robinson and Martin Luther King Jr.  We brainstormed  "big ideas" on a t-chart (Jackie on one side and Martin on the other).  The kids came up with great ideas such as history makers, segregation, civil rights and so on.  Then students created their own big idea bumper stickers about Martin Luther King Jr or Jackie Robinson.  Some of them turned out great!

(This one is slightly blurry.  It says March on Washington).

I am really hoping this scaffolds the kids learning so they are more prepared to find the big ideas, central messages, lessons, and themes in our fairy tales!  Fingers crossed!



Strategies for Addition (Freebie!)

We are up to our elbows in addition AND subtraction.  According to the new Common Core Standards the traditional algorithm is a fourth grade standard (CCSS.Math.Content.4.NBT.B.4 Fluently add and subtract multi-digit whole numbers using the standard algorithm.). We wanted to make sure we offered students SEVERAL strategies for addition and subtraction so that the algorithm actually makes SENSE rather than becomes a rote task with no meaning.

One strategy we using to teach addition is the open number line.  This is a great strategy that transfers REALLY well to subtraction. The difference between an open number line and a closed number line is that an open number line has no numbers on it- students create and write the number line starting and ending at whatever number they need.

Parents are often VERY confused at all this "new-fangled" math as it is very different from what we learned as children. I created this handout to help teach parents.

It is part of a  "How to Add on an Open Number Line" pack I created. The pages gradual teach adding with the open number line using multiples of 10 nad then moving on to adding with regrouping.

The description of this product is:
     The open number line is a wonderful way to teach addition AND subtraction.  However, we always start with addition first in our classroom. 
This packet includes “how to directions” on page 4 for parents, but is also a reference sheet for teachers.
This packet gives students practice adding two digits with and without regrouping using a gradual release.  Students begin adding only multiples of tens and gradually work to adding two digits with grouping.
This packet includes:
  • How to Add Using an Open Number Line Directions
  • Adding Two Addends that are Multiples of Tens with Hints
  • Adding Two Addends that are Multiples of Tens Without Hints
  • Adding with One Addend being a Multiple of Ten With Hints
  • Adding with One Addend being a Multiple of Ten Without Hints
  • Adding with Two Digits With Hints

Answer keys are included

It is only $3.00 in my store!  Click here to pick it up!

I am working on several packs just like this- strategies for addition and subtraction BESIDES the traditional algorithm.   I am currently working on a pack that uses the hundreds chart to teach addition with 1,2,3, and 4 addends!

Click here for this great pack of FREE math centers, plus get tips and updates from me!



Simple and Cheap Valentine's Day Gift for Students

Congrats to the two winners of the Love Bug Letter and Craft   

Special Teacher for Special Kids and The Polished Teacher!

I will email it to you as soon as possible!  If you did not win, it is available in my store for only $3!

Make sure to click over to my Facebook page to see the winners there!

This is a recycled post, but I thought it was good and timely!

I had a colleague request a cute little tag for a Valentine's Day gift for her students.  Her original idea was to include some Graham crackers, mini marshmallows and snack size Hershey bars.  Then she put them all in a valentines party bag and closed with a twist tie and added the circle tag.

 I think I will do something similar except I am going to use snack size bags and staple the rectangular toppers on the top if the bag.  Inside of the bags I will put in a mixture of Golden Graham cereal, chocolate chips and mini marshmallows.   I am hoping it was still be tasty, but cheaper!  I guess that means that I will have to brave the cold and venture out to the grocery store!


Love Bug Letter Writing and Craft

We are just finishing up our letter writing just in time for Valentine's Day.  According to the Common Core Standards, students must be able to use commas in the greeting and closings of letters (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.2.2b Use commas in greetings and closings of letters.). We decided to assess this with a super cute craft!

Isn't he a cutie?  Meet the Love Bug letter!

Students chose one person to write to that they really loved. Students wrote a rough draft and brought it to the teacher to edit.  I took a grade right then and there.  We grade on a 3 (mastered), 2 (progressing) or a 1 (limited progress).  Students with all 3 commons (date, greeting, closing) earned a 3.  Students with  2 commas earned a 2, and students with 1 or less comma earned a 1.  Simple!

Then students wrote the final draft and created this little guy!

They will take them home on Valentine's Day and give it to the person they love. Aww!  

It was a pretty quick project- about 1 day for the letter and 1 day for the craft.

If you would like a copy it is in my Teachers Pay Teachers store for only $3.00!

I will be giving away 2 copies.  To enter in the giveaway, please leave your EMAIL address below.  I will randomly select 2 people Monday, February 11th at 8:00  pm EST.

Hop on over to my Facebook page for 2 ADDITIONAL opportunities to win!



I'm Nesting...

Apparently I am starting to nest because a few days ago my co-teacher and I got a case of the crazies and decided to rearrange the room!

We are still no where NEAR done.  I need to move around some posters and get a shelf.  I will do that all hopefully in the next week ( that is my goal!).  Until then, here is a sneak peek!

Here is the before:

And here is the after:

LOTS to get done!  Fingers crossed I can get it done- tons of meetings next week!

Don't forget about MY TpT sale today!

Everything in my store is 20% off for today only!

My Valentine's graphing unit is PERFECT for this time of year.  It also meets the new Second Grade Common Core Standards  2.MD.9.  and



Better Late than Never

I *just* finished my latest product.  I wouldn't exactly call it "timely."  In fact it is 5 months late.  Or 7 months early...I think I like that better!

I have been working on themed Back to  School Materials.  My first product is a Bug Themed Back to School Parent Forms, Editable Newsletters, and Open House Presentation.

This HUGE zipped file ( I couldn't figure out how to even COUNT all the pages and slides!).  It includes:

7 bug themed forms for parents to complete for the back to school season. Please note these forms are NOT editable. The forms include:
•Parent sign in sheet that includes email (color and plain version for better printing included)
•How Do I Go Home form for parents to write down his or her  student’s way home. (color and plain version for better printing included) .  A pre-made version includes bus, care, daycare and ASP.  An editable version is included in the zipped file as well if your students go home different ways.
•Request of parent volunteers  (color and plain version for better printing included)
•Two different phone documentation forms for the teacher to document communication. The parents fill in the part of the information to save the teacher time and the rest of the form allows for teacher to record parent contact.  One form is a full sheet perfect for the teacher to store in a binder.  The other form is one form that has two sheets that need to be copied on card stock back to back. Cut  the forms in half and hole punch the corner to store on a binder ring. (color and plain version for better printing included)
•Class directory request form (color and plain version for better printing included)
•Child information form for parents to complete (please note this is a two sided sheet and should be copied back to back)

Other files included are a variety of editable Power Points.  Please note that all of the graphics are locked in compliance with the different artists requirements.

The files include:
•Editable Bug themed  2 page newsletter in color and black and white
•A sample, filled in newsletter
•An editable Red Hot Information handout for important information (I fill this in to include vital information  and give it to parents at the Sneak A Peak before school starts)
•A sample, filled in Red Hot Information handout for important information
•An editable  bug themed power point presentation for Open House.  Blank slides as well as pre-filled in slides are provided
•A sample, filled in Open House presentation

I listed it for $8.00.  With the awesome sale going on it will only be $5.76 (I think) with the code SUPER.  Click here to check it out!

What's in your cart? Mine is filling up FAST!!!!!! :)



Awesome Super Sunday Sale!

Load up your cart and get your wishlists ready!!

Teachers Pay Teachers is throwing an amazing sale Sunday February 3rd! Yay!  I will be putting my store on sale for 20 % off, as well as many other sellers!  Enter the code SUPER at checkout for an additional  10% off for a total of 28% off! 

I personally will be extending my sale from Sunday February 3rd- Monday, February 4th.  I know sometimes it is hard to find the time on a one day sale and sometimes there are glitches with the site (although I hope that is not the case this go around) .  My entire store will be 20% off but the code SUPER will only be valid on Sunday if you want the other 10% off.

I can't wait!  I have tons of things on my list!!!!


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