Suggested Summer Reading (Leveled!)

Hello friends! 

This will be a quick post as I have a full day ahead of me prepping for some PD I'll be doing in OK later this week.  

As I was going through some files to share, I came across these lists I created to send home with my kids last year.  I compiled a list of different books parents can buy/check out from the library that reach their independent reading levels.  I also included books that would be great for fluency!  Parent notes are attached to the top of each list.  I sent these home in my kids' portfolios at the end of the year.  I also gave the parents a copy and explained it to them at our last parent/teacher conference of the school year.  I made sure to only send home the list that was applicable to each student so that they weren't independently reading text that was too difficult.  

The suggested book lists are geared towards independent reading levels C-H / 3-14.  If you have any other suggestions, I'd love to hear them!!!  

Have a great day!

Ice Cream Day (End of Year THEME DAYS!!!)

So I heard from a little birdie that lots of you are either approaching your last week or are days away from your last day.  Lucky y'all!!!  HA!!!

For those of you with a little more time on your hands, I'm going to be posting about different theme days for the next few days.  This is how I survive the end of the school year.  Our schedules are already wonky...guided readers have to be turned in and accounted for...nothing resembles normalcy WHATSOEVER!!!!  Theme days get me by during these last few days of the year.  They're fun for me and a BLAST for the kids.  No better way to end a school year!!

Today's theme day....ICE CREAM!!!!  

I mean, who doesn't love ice cream?!?!  If you're from Texas, then you're suffering the ice cream drought just like me.  Blue Bell is the only ice cream that exists in my world and well..the freezer shelves are bare. I miss my Blue Bell like crazy!!!!!  In the meantime, the plain waffle cones from Dairy Queen will suffice. 

I digress.

Let's get into our ice cream theme day!!!!!  

Here's just a little sample of what my plans might look like on this day.
For a closer look, you can download them, too.

Most of those activities mentioned come from this resource....

Now let's break it all down, shall we?!

These are the books I typically have on hand for ice cream day.  We use these either as read alouds or material for independent reading...

When my kids come in in the mornings, I love for them to start their day THINKING!!!! 
A couple of ideas....

You can start the day on WONDEROPOLIS (project this page on the white board) and get your kids wondering.  I WONDER ...What is the best ice cream flavor?
You can check out the website for more info.  This is a great way to start the day!

And when your kids are finished wondering, it's time for them to get creative.  Have your kids come in and complete a Draw Start using an ice cream cone as they're starting point.  The objective of this activity is to have your kids think creatively to turn the ice cream cone into something else.  You'd be AMAZED by their thinking!  The first district I ever taught in would use activities like these to help identify students for the GT program.  This wouldn't be the deciding factor, of course, just a little something extra to help them identify those gifted thinkers.  After your kids complete their draw start, have them flip over their papers and write about their creation on the back.

Once the bell rings and it's time to start the day, we head on over to the carpet for a read aloud and some poetry.  As you can see in my plans, we're reading The Ice Cream King by Steve Metzger.  We'll read the story aloud and then give them a follow-up writing prompt to complete when they visit their independent literacy stations.  I've also got a poem they'll visit during this time, so we'll sing that before heading off to stations, too.  

During their independent literacy station block of time, I'll be walking around and helping my kids where it's needed.  Since guided readers have to be turned in, I'll use this time for some small group work focusing on various phonetic skills.  Lots of review!  The activities mentioned in my plans all come from my Ice Cream Literacy/Math/Science packet.  As for the poetry, I'll write the words on sentence strips, cut them apart, and have the kids assemble it in sequential order as they recite the poem/song.  THey will each get a copy of the poem for their poetry folders as well.  I'll have them use highlighters to find different spelling/phonetic patterns/rhyming words, too.

After our literacy stations, we'll move into a quick ice cream themed read aloud and then I'll have the kids go back to their desks and brainstorm their very own brand new ice cream flavor.  Their responses are nothing short of adorable and it's so cute to see how excited they get at the thought of creating their very own ice cream!!!  

They're usually SO excited about this writing opportunity that I'll make sure to schedule enough time for them to share aloud.  Depending on how much time we have, I'll either have them partner share, share in small groups, or volunteer to stand up in front of the class and read.  SO fun!

After lunch it's IMPERATIVE to make ice cream sundaes :)  It is for me anyway.  I love doing this with the kids you can imagine...they get SO excited about eating ice cream in the classroom.  I bring one big ol' tub of ice cream and then lots of toppings...caramel sauce, chocolate syrup, pineapple chunks, bananas, sprinkles, cherries, whipped cream....the works!!!!  If you have parents itching to help you out these last few weeks, this is a great activity for them to be present!  

I give them their bowls and have them eat their sundaes with a partner.  While they're enjoying their sundaes, they'll compare/contrast them both.  I also give them a Venn Diagram to take back with them so they can work as they eat :)

We'll also use this time for a little expository writing make an ice cream sundae!

Then we'll start our graphs...a great transition into our independent math stations.  Again, the math activities I included in my plans come from my Ice Cream LIteracy/Math/Science packet.  Of course, you can use whatever you have on hand!

At the end of the day, we'll finish with a science experiment.  We take time to hypothesize, experiment, and record our observations.  Such a fun way to end the day!!!  

I'm sure you know that there are a MILLION and one different things we could incorporate on ice cream day.  Too much to even write about.  However, I do want to give you some additional ideas that you may....or may not...have seen already.  

Grab your chalk and get ready for some hopscotch fun.  I would definitely incorporate this somehow, but instead of hopscotching, I'd use this as a skill review.  
For math, I'd write various sums/differences in each box (as pictured) and then I'd give my kids a red pom pom (like a cherry :) to toss onto the numbers.  Then I'd have them toss the cherry, read the sum/difference, and write or orally tell me an equation to match.  
For literacy, I'd write different blends/digraphs or even vowel teams in eachbox.  GIve them that red pom pom again and have them toss and give me words to match the spelling pattern.  If you don't have  a sidewalk available, just draw your popsicle on some butcher paper, laminate, and then use in the classrooom year after year :)   This would be great for a whole group or small group activity!!!

How fun is this science experiment?!  Erupting ice cream cones!!!  Can you imagine the fun?!?! (and the mess?!?! Hahahaha) 

You REALLY need to visit this post!!  She has SO many more ideas for a "frozen treat day" that you could easily adapt to fit the needs of your kids!!!  I could see some of these activities being modified for all ages!!!

We've also made Ice Cream in a Bag in the past. My kids LOVE this!!!!  It gets a little messy and if you're not paying attention, you might even pour lots of salt into the ice cream mixture (not that I'm speaking from experience or anything ;)  At the end of the day, I send home the recipe with my kids and encourage them to make it at home, too (much to their parent's dismay...hahaha)

Here are some fun math ideas from Amy at Step Into 2nd Grade...

And I love the idea of having your kids color their own summer reading bookmarks at the end of the day (or even first thing in the morning), and then letting them take them home to encourage summer reading.  I would have my kids make theirs and then slide it into their portfolios I send home on the last day of school along with a suggested summer reading list....this way they don't lose the bookmark between now and the last day of school.

As you can see, there are so many ideas to incorporate into an Ice Cream Day that you could easily spread out the activiteis over several different days :)  And as you can see, this is definitely not a "play day" or full of "fluff'".  There's still lots of learning going on.  I love that days like this not only excite the kids, but they fire me up, too!!!  And when I'm more excited about what I'm teaching, the kids tend to soak in the information that much more...and they're so much more engaged!!  That's sort of key these last few weeks of school...keeping them engaged in their learning!!!  

If you already own my I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream Literacy/Math/Science packet, please go back and download it again.  I've added a couple more printables/activities and updated all the graphics and fonts to be more current.  That was one of my first additions to the shop and was outdated and SCARY!!!!!  Here's what it looks like now....

Stay tuned for more Theme Day ideas!!!!  
Anything in particular you'd like to see next??  Here's what I have on tap:
Lemonade Day, Bubble Day, Watermelon Day, Pirate Day, S'More Day....and MORE!!!  

Also...would you like me to continue to add the visual plans??  Does that help?? 

HAPPY (almost) FRIDAY!!!!

What's Going On Wednesday

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week to all my teacher friends!
While Teacher Appreciation Week has always been one of my favorites, I think I love it even moreso as a mom.  I love showering the boys' teachers with little treats and gifts to let them know how much they're appreciated. We really do feel like we won the teacher lottery this year.  They're just amazing.

We filled the bags with their favorite candies, snacks, drinks, and magazines.  
We have a few more plans up our sleeves for the rest of the week...homemade dinner, lunch brought to school, gift card, favorite Sonic boys love to give.  

These are a couple of things we did for our teachers last year...

We spent the past weekend visiting some of our best friends in Dallas.  It seems like it's taking forever to get back into the routine this week.  Maybe that's because I keep hearing the words, "how many more minutes 'til we get there?!??!" playing over and over and over again in my mind :)  Bless their hearts.  

Have you seen these mugs?!?!?  MY FAVORITE!!!  I saw them pop up on my IG feed a few weeks ago and had to buy a set for me & my soul sister.  We finally got to enjoy our coffee together with these mugs!  Such a fun gift to give!!!

Speaking of gifts, look at my new jammies :)  A gift from my #soulsister.  I die.
#pugshot #puglife #bonepugsandharmony #pugsandkisses #pugsnotdrugs

I'm busy prepping and planning a day of professional development for some sweet teachers in Durant, OK.  We'll be covering all things literacy.  I'm adding a few new ideas and activities to some existing presentations and PD topics.  If you were attending, what are some things you'd want to hear/know/see/learn that would help you through summer school??  

I'm also busy prepping our summer review activities.  It will be here before I know it and I don't want to get behind!  Let's mark this as a first...and a last :)  I'm impressed I'm thinking ahead.  This is a rareity in my little world.  

Speaking of summer review, before the school year let out last year I came up with lots of different "themed days" to last us 'til the end of the school year.  While we didn't get to all of them, the days we did theme out were nothing short of F-U-N!!!!!  Would you be interested in hearing more about those days in detail to get some ideas for your own classroom?!?!  

That's about all that's up these days.  

Oh.  Just in case you missed the memo, Teachers Pay Teachers is having a sitewide sale that ends tonight at midnight!!!!!  You can use the code "THANKYOU" at checkout to get 28% off your total purchase.  Don't forget to shop before the day's end.  

 This is my favorite time of the year to stock up on goodies for the beginning of the next school year.   I like to print, copy, and prep now so that I'm not spending those PRECIOUS days/hours/minutes before the kids come back fighting for a spot in the copy room during the back to school rush!!!  Here are some of my favorite back to school resources!!

Alphabet Resources - 

Number Resources - 

Back to School Printables - 

Of course, if you're anything like 99.9% of the teachers out there right now just trying to survive until the last day, here are some resources guaranteed to get you through to the end!!!

EOY Writing Resource -

EOY Math Resources

EOY NO PREP Math & Literacy Printables & Activities

In My Neck of the Woods...

It's been a while since my last update, but I wanted to pop in and let you know what's going on in my neck of the woods.

Things have been busy with the end of the school year approaching.  My conference schedule has wound down, but everything else seems to be going into overdrive.  Ever feel like that?!?!

One thing I've made a priority amidst the craziness is Bible study.  I drive about 45 minutes after school  to get there every Monday night and I wouldn't trade that time of reflection and fellowship for anything.  God is changing my heart one chapter at a time.  I've always struggled with self-doubt and insecurity.  I feel like my worth is measured by validation from other's approval and different things I accomplish.  That kind of false sense of worth can leave you feeling pretty empty at the end of the day.  God placed this Bible study on my heart and and I'm telling y''s given me so many "a-ha!!!" moments and helped me to remember that my worth is found in Christ and Christ alone.  What a powerful promise of God's unconditional love!!!

If you ever struggle with self doubt and insecurity (who doesn't?!?!), I HIGHLY recommend this study!!!!

In the meantime, you should read the latest post from Michelle at Fabulous in First.  I love that she took time to share her heart and her perspective.  I think we can ALL relate!!!!

I was just in Nashville last weekend for a quick little getaway and adventure all organized by the wonderful team at GoNoodle.  

We got to participate in a little focus group while we were there.  Let me just tell you that I ADORE GoNoodle.  Not just their resources (did you know about GoNoodle PLUS?!?!?!?!?  Worth every penny!!!!!}, but their heart for kids.  Their vision is unparalleled.  They're not just about helping teachers, they're truly all about the kids!  I can't wait for the exciting things to come!!  They have such a vision for the future and I'm so excited for y'all to find out what's planned!!  You won't want to miss it!!!!  

And no trip to the headquarters is complete without a photo op with our favorite champ!!!

I admit that our weekend in TN wasn't all business.  We did lots of other fun things, too....

Shopping at Kendra Scott (free earrings on grand opening day!!!), Jeni's ice cream, amazing BBQ, a little more shopping, donuts (amazing!!!), and pedicures.  Relaxing and non-stop all in the same breath!!!   Thrilled to be there, so sad to leave :(

I've also been gearing up and prepping for some exciting things to come (in my little world, anyway).  I've been doing lots of research and burying my nose in some wonderful PD reading and I can't wait to share with you all what I'm learning!!!  I've also been working with some fabulous teachers and helping them get ready for these last few weeks of learning!

For these last few weeks of school, I had a few requests to create something that incorporates both math and literacy...something good for review, but not too easy and really engaging.  I mean, that's not hard, right?!  HA!!!  We're all FRIED this time of the year!!!  Of course that's a tough one!  I went through some of my old files and it hit me.  Mystery Messages!!!!  My kids LOVE those!!!  I decided to make them a bit more current and more applicable for this time of the year.  I combined 15 addition, 15 subtraction, and 6 bonus mixed operations  mystery messages for my newest resource....

My boys love hanging out with me when I'm creating.  Landon was watching me print out some of these Mystery Messages and he was a bit beside himself.  He loved the idea of earning his "badges" to become an addition/subtraction detective.  He is DETERMINED to become a detective before his little brother.  Just a little friendly sibling competition :)

It can be really challenging to keep our kids excited about learning and engaged in their activities when they've got sunshine and lemonade on the brain.  I love creating activities that excite kids and "trick" them into thinking they're playing a game instead of learning.  With Mystery Messages, kids have the opportunity to solve "case files" (addition/subtraction equations corresponding with scrambled messages) .  Each time they solve a case file, they fingerprint their tracking sheet to close the case.  Once they solve 15 addition messages/15 subtraction messages/6 mixed operation messages, they earn a "detective badge".

Landon is well on his way to earning his.  As soon as he's finished with his homework, he heads right to his "case files" (I keep them in a file folder for him) and chooses a mystery to solve.  Right now he's working on earning his addition detective badge. 

I love the idea of using these in the classroom as a morning challenge for morning work or as a fast finisher activity (who can earn their detective badge first?!?!).  They also lend themselves for group review (displayed on the Smartboard or document camera).  One of the teachers with whom I'm working suggested sending these home for the summer to help prevent the dreaded "summer slide".  I included a parent letter with this resource in case you want to do that, too!  I absolutely LOVE that idea!!!

 My sweet Grant loved that idea, too.  He's one that will only do what's required of him when he's at home.  If his teacher says read 1 book for homework, he'll read one book and one book only.  Nothing more, nothing less.  He's a smart little cookie, but he needs motivation.  Since he's still in Kindergarten and I'm big on letting them be little, I don't push too much after school.  I want him to do what's required and follow the rules and after that I want him to be 5!!!   So, I went ahead and started creating his case files for summer break while it's still on my mind.  Lord knows I'll get lazy if I wait much longer.  He told me he might not want to wait until summer and I have a feeling that he'll be motivated to get a head start once he sees his brother's tracking sheet :)  Whatever works, right?!

If this is something you're interested in for your classroom...or you'd like to send these home for summer review...just click on the pic below for a description and preview...

These will be on sale for the next 24 hours!!!

I'm also putting this little unit on sale as well.  It's *almost* Mother's Day and it's sneaking up on us way too fast!  This little packet includes Mother's/Father's Day coupons, graphic organizers, writing prompts, and craftivities.  

Aren't these gift bags precious?!  I sent these home with my kids the last couple of years and they turned out precious!  Whatever artwork and gifts we made for mom were all put in the bag and taken home for Mother's Day before the weekend.  

Here's a little Mother's/Father's Day math freebie for you!!!!

And in the spirit of all this talk about "mysteries", I included a couple more items in the sale for 20% off...but only for the next 24 hours (ending Thursday at noon, CST).  Can you solve the mystery and find out what they are?!!!  

Let's Get Ready for Earth Day!

Earth Day has always been one of my favorite events to celebrate with my school babies.  There's just something about it.  I love the sense of camaraderie we gain through our teamwork as we clean up trash around the school grounds, pay more attention to our recycling efforts, and love our Earth just a little more than we already do.  

As usual, this time of the year seems to speed by quickly and these events sort of pop up without giving us much time to plan or prep.  I mean, it's not like we have a MILLION other things going on, right?!  HA!!!  I thought this would be great time to remind us of some fun Earth Day activities for our primary babies and help you {maybe} try to plan ahead this year!!!  

I always like to stock my library with lots and lots of Earth Day friendly books around this time of the year.  I put them out a couple of weeks ahead of time so that the kids can do their own perusing.  When we start our thematic unit of study, I'll read several of them aloud.  I like that the kids are familiar with them prior to reading.  These are some of my favorite Earth Day books...

After we read a few of these books, we make our anchor charts.  Things that help the Earth and things that harm the Earth.  These stay up in the room as a visual for a few weeks after Earth Day.  The kids love using them as a reference for their writing.

Remember what I said about the camaraderie and cooperation earlier?!  This is one of those group projects we displayed in the hallway and absolutely LOVED putting together!!!!  We brainstormed lots of different ways we could help the Earth first and then I typed them out and we reviewed what we said as we splashed them on the display.  Then the kids painted their hands blue and green and added their handprints to the "Earth".  I loved this!

This is another litte writing craftivity I love to incorporate into our learning.  I think I've been doing this one since the first year I started teaching!  I'm shocked I'm not tired of it yet!  Really, I love anything with their sweet handprints!!!

Earth Day is a great time to reinforce and/or introduce the concept of cause & effect.  We reinforced this skill using this freebie.  It was a great way for me to assess not only my kid's understanding of cause and effect, but it also gave me a glimpse into their understanding about what we learned about Earth Day.

We love singing this song, too!  Each of my kids gets a copy of this song for their poetry folders and then I print it out on sentence strips for our poetry center as well.  My kids have access to this song/poem for a couple of weeks....manipulating the words, one-to-one correspondence, tracking print, rhyming, fluency, etc.  This is in my What a Wonderful World Earth Day packet, but you can grab it for free here.  Just click on the pic.

I mentioned my What a Wonderful World Earth Day packet and here are a few activities we do from using this resource.

My kids loved "tossing the trash" in their word work center!!  I just printed off the real/nonsense word cards and sorting labels and then crumpled them all up and placed them in a container.  THe kids have to uncrumple (is that even a word???) the word cards and determine which words are real and which are nonsense and then sort accordingly.  I let them toss the trash into the corresponding bins and they thought this was a hoot!  

I think my favorite addition to my classroom this time of the year is my little Compost Critter.  We talk about the idea of composting and learn all about what it is and how to do it and then we create this little critter who will show us how compost is made.  It's a pretty cool process.  It takes a while for the material to turn into compost, but the kids love being able to observe the changes.  Once it's all ready, we use the compost to plant our plants :)  The kids LOVE this!!!!

I found the book, I Can Save the Earth, a few years back and use that as a springboard for this writing craftivity.

We also have a "GREEN DAY" as a culminating activity to our learning.  We actually have our Green Day ON Earth Day and this is a perfect way to tie in all of our learning and have loads of fun at the same time.   I send home a parent note requesting different items and for the entire day my kids are engaged in fun, hands-on (academic!!!) Earth Day activities.  I can't imagine doing it a different way now!!  All the details are in my Earth Day packet....along with family homework, too!

These are two of my favorite Earth Day experiments.  They're perfect for our primary kids and really help to bring these concepts to life! 

My favorite thing about Earth Day is hearing what my own two boys have to say about it when they get home from school that day.  Last year they became SO very conscientious about recycling and conserving water.  My oldest came home and told me he was DONE with baths!!!  "Mom..baths use SO many gallons of water.  I'm a big boy...I can totally take showers instead from now on!"  

I about died.  

And let me tell you what.  That's all both boys take anymore....showers.  Every now and again I'll suggest a bubble bath...because, FUN....and they insist that's too much wasted water.  I really hope they're always this mindful of different things when they get older!!!  
Conserving energy however is totally different struggle ;)

Now let's take care of a little business.
If you own my Write the Room yearlong bundle, please make sure you download the April edition as it's been added to the pack.  May is coming soon, so be on the lookout!!!

And if you're right in the middle of teaching and reviewing r-controlled vowels like we are, then here's a little something for your files.  These  R-Conrolled Vowel Flip Strips are perfect for reviewing and reinforcing these spelling patterns!!!