Monday, July 20, 2015

Top 3 Children's Books... and a little more

Hey y'all! I am so excited to bring this post to you today from my personal blog for Texas Teacher Tribe!! We are trying to get a blog together for all of us wonderful Texas teachers to be able to share our ideas and collaborate, but our blog isn't ready yet and we wanted to keep you engaged with the Facebook page and I wanted to bring to you my top children's books picks for the classroom!

Okay, so this says Top 3, but that may be a little hard! I have taught 3 different grade levels in 3 years so I'm partial to different books for different age levels!! I thought I would talk about my top three must haves for the younger grades, and then my top 3 for 3rd/4th grades. 

So, this quote is my absolute favorite. Imagination is something I grew up being fully indulged in, and it breaks my heart to see it fading so quickly. A lot of kids no longer have to use their thoughts or dive into books to escape into an alternate reality because they have iPads, or Xbox and they can escape into a video game. Just not the same for me, but that's my personal opinion - don't hate me for saying that!

Anyways, back to the top 3 books.

1. the dot by Peter H. Reynolds.
MUST HAVE I feel in any elementary classroom. When I think of my students and the times where they think they can't, I love to read this book and remind them they always can! It doesn't have to necessarily be with art, but in reading this you can relate it to any subject matter and encourage students to pass on the effort trait to their peers. 

2. The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! by John Sciezska and Lane Smith
I am all about fractured fairytales. I love exploring the different ways authors can write a story, and it provides the students with multiple avenues of writing techniques. This being a relative story almost ALL students come in knowing, it's so fun to twist up their Three Little Pigs storyline and begin a classroom discussion. 

3. I can't forget the Dr. of children's books.
Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss is probably my all-time favorite of his. 
Can you tell yet that I'm all about the good in others and the world? The fact that world can be so ugly so often, this book reminds kiddos that there are ways to take care of each other no matter whether other's think it's the right thing to do or not. I just love the story!

So since I am going to 4th grade, and taught 3rd grade last year, I thought I would share my favorites for a little older classroom setting too.

1. The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
This book was my husband's childhood favorite, and he is not someone I would look to to see what book they are reading next. He's the kind that when he reads a book and it leaves an impression he tells EVERYONE, and this was the first book we ever talked about when we first started dating. 
The discussions this book can offer are PHENOMENAL and require some serious critical thinking. 
For example: animal rights, conformity, violence, and there are more! All around the story is just so beautiful. 

2. Bud. Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
This is a story I remember loving and reading as a child. I definitely want to read it aloud with my kiddos next year. I love the jazz scene, and apparently I did as a young child. I also love the idea of adventure and books that are funny. I, myself, don't know who my biological father is, so relating to this book was something I easily could do, as could a few of my students in that area. Just a really neat book to take a student back in time and use their imagination.

3. Wonder by RJ Palacio
This book. WOW. If you haven't read it, by all means, order it right now on Amazon. It'll make you smile, cry, be angry, every emotion you can think of. I don't think my students could've handled it last year and truly understood, but it's a book we are reading FIRST THING this year. If you haven't heard of it, it's about a young boy who has a facial difference that is very apparent and the story takes you through his trials and tribulations of having this "difference." It's such a deep, emotional story, and must read for students to understand and accept differences. 

So these are technically my TOP 6 choices! 

Please, leave in the comments here on our facebook page of your top three! I can't wait to see what you suggest!!! 

Stick around for more things and more participation from all of you with the Texas Teacher Tribe, I love where this collaboration is going! 

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Oh, Snap! It's almost August, y'all!

I didn't even like typing that post title in all honesty. I can't believe summer is dwindling to its end. I have gifted and talented training the whole first week of August (and my birthday is August 5) total bummer. Then just random PDs in between there and our official first week back on August 17. School starts for me August 24, I'm there hopefully 3 weeks before I have my little nugget. 
When do you start back? 

I am teaming up with a lot of my Teacher Deals and Dollar Steals collaborators to present to you some back to school activities we have in our teachers pay teachers stores that may help make your transition from summer to beginning of school easier! 

I'll start with general back to school activities!

The first is my back to school interview cubes! You can find here
I include directions inside the cubes to help you put them together, or your students can. I had my students work in four groups the first few days of school and then they presented on one person in the room for the class to get to know them. I found that students would rather tell about someone else rather than themselves, sort of an icebreaker. 
Here is the cover on TPT. 

Here is a picture of a cube put together and one that has not. I would print on cardstock, it makes them hold up a lot better. 
So as you can see, the questions are very personal, and what I love the most is that it's requiring the students to think outside of typical questions such as what's your favorite color, food, etc. I have included a recording sheet with the product, but I found last year my students loved writing about this person in their journal to have to look at all year long. At the end of the year they reasked those questions, and to some of their surprise, their thoughts changed - which leads to a good whole group discussion! 

The next product I have for $1 that can be used primarily for upper grades is my early finishers journals. I loved this product so much last year in my classroom. I had those students who got done SUPER fast and then would be a big disruption if they were either pretending to read, or bored. These are just covers, I cut out and glued onto the front of spiral notebooks and they could go choose whichever they wanted. My only requirement was that there are NO JUDGEMENTS on what someone else writes, this is a way for them to write back and forth to each other, tell me things they may not be able to, etc. They can leave their name or they don't have to. Some students have never had the option of writing anything they felt down, and this helped. The stories can be real or made up, doesn't matter! It's totally just a way to get them writing, and they don't even realize it's benefiting them!

This is the cover and can be found here on TPT for $1
This is an example of what one of the covers looks like. Since I am teaching writing this year, I plan on going back and adding a bunch of new titles, so I would get it while it's on $1 if I were you ;) 
My favorite thing is replying to the students. I wish I had a picture of the notebooks from last year, but they are in one of my 50 boxes in the garage!!! This year I vow to take more pictures!

Next I have a lot of back to school activities for kindergarten! When I taught kindergarten in summer school I realized that those babies needed some introduction to the basics and created multiple sheets to work with them on to coincide with playdough letters, magnetic letter activities, and shaving cream fun :) 

This is a bundle for incoming kinders or even for those struggling kinders who still need help over the summer over basic facts.

Included in this bundle: 

ABC tracing papers
ABC book
ABC recording sheets
Colors book 
Number tracing sheets
Number book 
Number recording sheets
Days of the week book 
Shapes book 

You can find beginner in kinder here

Here is also a set of assessment sheets I used for kindergarten. 

What I loved about this in kindergarten is that I saw such progress when I did it again and again throughout the year. Here are some examples of my kiddos work in kindergarten. I cried, not going to lie :) 

Here is beginning of year work. Super simple to make for the name practice. 
Then below is both of these students in April/May.

Full sentences, letters on lines. Melting my heart. :) 

There are many things in my store that help with beginning of year. That seems to be the biggest rush of time. I have a lot of sight word fun rotation activities that had my kindergarten students learning words quickly.

If you're looking for organization I have book bins labels as well!

Head to my store for all of these, many more, and a ton of freebies!!

Also there are new freebies on my facebook page in the comments!

Have a great beginning of year y'all! :) Click the blog button below to find many more linked up! 

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Monday, July 6, 2015

TPT Seller Challenge: Week 3 Make your Masterpiece

Whew. I almost didn't get this done in time! It's been a crazy holiday weekend and past few days of traveling back to Oklahoma for a baby shower!
So this week was make your masterpiece! Create a new product!

So, I worked really hard to get some first few weeks task cards together to review and go over the main parts of speech with my kiddos! 

They are with "back to school theme" and they cover nouns (common/proper), verbs (past/present), adjectives, and adverbs! The sentences are a little harder than I typically would've made last year, with some good vocabulary words that students need to know by 3rd/4th grade!

I will have it marked down for a few days and you can find it in my TPT store!

I've only uploaded a few other products this summer, trying to relax. You can find those in my store also, just head to most recent! 

and classroom alphabet posters

Can you tell what my theme is next year?!

Also, for Shark Week I have a sell going on in my store!!! 

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Currently: JULY !

I can not believe it is July 1st. So much to do this month and I know how quickly this month will FLY by. I can't even begin to think about that.

As always, it's the first, so I love linking up with my good friend Farley over at Oh Boy Fourth Grade!

I swear, it's summer and my TV until about 7pm stays on TNT. I am a sucker for reruns of Bones and Castle. Especially Castle. His personality is my husband's hand down, so I love watching while my husband is at work!

I just have got to learn how more to enjoy it. Planning for Mr. Gunner and trying to get maternity plans together, on TOP of my masters homework, I won't even allow myself a couple days to have fun. It's been real hard. I need to learn how to balance. I find myself constantly stressing about school too. See Kristen's post on our collab blog The Primary Pack for EXACTLY how I am feeling. 

All about my To-Do list.
Ugh. Research proposal for my research grad school class. 
Finish nursery.
Stock up on diapers.
Homework, daily. 
Maternity plans.
Dollar Tree.
Clean garage.
Redo furniture.
Cook new meals.
UMM - I could go on, but you get the point lol.

This weather in Texas has been INSANE this summer. The rain has been off the charts. Which results in horrible humidity that is so hard for me to breathe in while pregnant. My crazy 2 yr. old nephew doesn't even like being out there that long unless we are near water, he tells me, "Man, Cassie it's way hot out here, let's go inside." He's the best. 

I am still having such a hard time learning budgeting. I know and understand it, I just can't get into a good routine. Something comes up every month where I need more money than I assumed, which means I pull from savings and then have to pay myself back the next month. Then it starts all over. How do people get ahead!!!! :( 

All-Star Cassie:
I swear, I can give you the BEST advice, especially when it comes to relationships. I just was never good at listening to my own words. I also learned that I was right a high majority of the time, and friends still don't even really listen, especially females. They're always going to do what they want in the end. It's a girl thing I guess, but it's aggravating. Don't say Cassie didn't try and tell you ;) 

Go link up everyone! Can't wait to read about your currently :) 

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