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'Do Unto Otters' by Laurie Keller is an all-time favorite back-to-school book!  This story will inspire your new students to follow the Golden Rule, which in turn with foster a safe, caring classroom community from the start.  A free book companion is available for download.
I am so delighted to be teaming up again with some great blogger-friends to bring you our favorite books for September!
My book for you is....
'Do Unto Otters' by Laurie Keller is one of my all-time favorite back-to-school books!  It is perfect for helping to create a caring, empathetic classroom.

It's a delightful story of Mr. Rabbit, who worried (perhaps terrified) about his new neighbors who just moved into his woods - the otters!  Fortunately he has a wise owl for a friend who wakes him up from his worried frenzy with a wise saying: 'Do unto otters as you would have other do unto you'.
We of course know it as 'The Golden Rule'.

Mr. Rabbit takes the words of wisdom from the owl and starts pondering how he would like the otters to treat him. This is the perfect story use to inspire your new students to follow the Golden Rule, which in turn will foster a safe, caring classroom community from the start.

I love to gather my students to the rug area for all our read alouds.  It is easier to capture and keep their interest and attention there.  

Before reading the story, show your students the cover and encourage them to make observations and connections.  Some may recognize the play on words that the title is making - otters for others.  Encourage your students to access any prior knowledge (schema) that they may have.

Ask leading questions:
Does the title remind you of anything you have heard before?
What do you think this story might be about?
What do you know about rabbits?
What do you know about otters?
How are rabbits and otters different?
'Do Unto Otters' by Laurie Keller is an all-time favorite back-to-school book!  This story will inspire your new students to follow the Golden Rule, which in turn with foster a safe, caring classroom community from the start.  A free book companion is available for download.
{A Venn diagram is perfect for using their schema 
to compare and contrast.}

How are otters and rabbits alike?
Even though rabbits are different in many ways, how are they alike? (They have many of the same needs.)
Do you have new friends that are different from you?  Do they have some of the same needs?
This is crucial in developing empathy for others - understanding that we all have the same basic physical, social, and emotional needs!
The story unfolds with Mr. Rabbit knowing exactly how he wants the otters to treat him.  The book is rich with great ideas on using good manners in the things we say, do, don't do, and are.

Encourage your students to make connections with the things Mr. Rabbit would like the otters to say, do, not do, and be.

Record these ideas as you go through the story so that the students will have lots of ideas to refer to as they apply the Golden Rule to what they are going to say, do, don't do, and be to others.

You may want to create an anchor chart with the 4 questions, or use the flap book and have the students fill in the information as you all read through the story.
'Do Unto Otters' by Laurie Keller is an all-time favorite back-to-school book!  This story will inspire your new students to follow the Golden Rule, which in turn with foster a safe, caring classroom community from the start.  A free book companion is available for download.

After reading, discuss with your students how they want others to treat them.   Encourage them to refer to the anchor chart or flap book that they filled out while you were reading the story.  Record some of their responses on a new chart (using the included header and questions). 

Now ask them, "If we want others to treat us like this, how should we treat others?"

Students use the triangle flip book to record four things they want others to do for them and then the corresponding things they are going to do for others.

After they have completed the flip book, have them share it with a partner, and/or ask for volunteers to read to the entire class.
'Do Unto Otters' by Laurie Keller is an all-time favorite back-to-school book!  This story will inspire your new students to follow the Golden Rule, which in turn with foster a safe, caring classroom community from the start.  A free book companion is available for download.

I hope you will read this story to your class!  I know you will love it, and they will love it, too!
I have included all of the printable and anchor chart pieces in the book companion.  
Enjoy!
'Do Unto Otters' by Laurie Keller is an all-time favorite back-to-school book!  This story will inspire your new students to follow the Golden Rule, which in turn with foster a safe, caring classroom community from the start.  A free book companion is available for download.
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Here are some of the best-loved back-to-school books!  Find lesson ideas, activities, free book companions for all 12 books!

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Check out these September read aloud books and find more lesson ideas, activities, free book companions!





Are you looking for creative ways to: • Build a positive classroom community? • Teach Social Skills? • Get to know your students? • All in one project?  If you are, this may be the perfect project for you!  Teaching social skills helps create a safe, caring community where each students is valued, appreciated, and listened to.Welcome to your new school year!

Are you looking for creative ways to:
~  Build a positive classroom community?
~ Teach Social Skills?
~ Get to know your students?
~ All in one project?

If you are, this may be the perfect project for you!  Teaching social skills helps create a safe, caring community where each students is valued, appreciated, and listened to.

The 'All About Me' bag is a long-time favorite way to get to know each other, especially at the beginning of the year!  This bag activity is a perfect opportunity to teach Social Skills to your new class.  Without some explicit training in active listening and other social skills, students that should be listening, gradually turn into a little pile of squirming puppies.  #truestory
Are you looking for creative ways to: • Build a positive classroom community? • Teach Social Skills? • Get to know your students? • All in one project?  If you are, this may be the perfect project for you!  Teaching social skills helps create a safe, caring community where each students is valued, appreciated, and listened to.
Preparation is easy!  Just copy the 'All About Me' sheets on white or colored paper.  Cut apart and staple onto a bag.  Send it home - all the directions are on the sheet so your parents will know just what to do. #easypeesey

Fill a bag of your own, your students will love learning about you and this gives you an opportunity to model sharing and to teach the 4 L's for listeners and the QCC for listeners.  I use a timer for the sharing 3-5 minutes - depending on your schedule and your students' stamina for listening.  Set some time aside for this activity every day with maybe four or five students sharing each day.  Encourage good listening by reminding your students of the 4 L's for listeners and that you will be choosing students who show active listening to share next.  (This is especially effective in the beginning, before most of the class has shared.)

What are the listeners doing?  

During Sharing: 4 L's for Listeners

Listeners are practicing active listening skills by following the 4 L's:
1)  Look at the speaker.
2)  Listen to the speaker.
3)  Lean toward the speaker.
4)  Look interested.

Are you looking for creative ways to: • Build a positive classroom community? • Teach Social Skills? • Get to know your students? • All in one project?  If you are, this may be the perfect project for you!  Teaching social skills helps create a safe, caring community where each students is valued, appreciated, and listened to.

After Sharing: QCC time!

Your students will love QCC time!
1)  Speaker asks, "Are there any Questions?"
Speaker answers questions.
Questioner: 'Thank you."
Speaker:"You are welcome."

2)  Speaker asks: "Did you make any Connections as I shared?"
Listeners share their connections.
Speaker acknowledges the connections in some positive way, such as: "That is so cool!, "Wow", That is amazing!"

3)  Teacher asks, "Who would like to share a Compliment about ____'s sharing today?"
Speaker says, "Thank you," after each compliment.

Are you looking for creative ways to: • Build a positive classroom community? • Teach Social Skills? • Get to know your students? • All in one project?  If you are, this may be the perfect project for you!  Teaching social skills helps create a safe, caring community where each students is valued, appreciated, and listened to.
You decide how many questions, connections, and compliments you want shared at this point.  You will want to keep it the same for all your students so they know you are being fair with them all!

I hope you will give this activity a try with your class this year!  If you would like a copy of the 'All About Me' bag directions and the Active Listening posters, just click on the picture below.
Are you looking for creative ways to: • Build a positive classroom community? • Teach Social Skills? • Get to know your students? • All in one project?  If you are, this may be the perfect project for you!  Teaching social skills helps create a safe, caring community where each students is valued, appreciated, and listened to.

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Are you looking for creative ways to: • Build a positive classroom community? • Teach Social Skills? • Get to know your students? • All in one project?  If you are, this may be the perfect project for you!  Teaching social skills helps create a safe, caring community where each students is valued, appreciated, and listened to.

Have a wonderful school year and be sure to 
enter our Giveaway for a chance to win 
one of three Teachers Pay Teachers gift certificates!


These Multiplication Strategies Interactive Flip Books and anchor posters will help your students understand the concept of multiplication and help them memorize their multiplication tables.

Research shows that students who learn to use these mental math strategies actually memorize the multiplication and division facts faster than those who do not.

These 9 flip books were designed to give students an interactive fun way to practice mental math strategies for multiplication facts.  They make differentiating your instruction easy because there is a flip book for each set of multiplication facts: 2's - 10's.

They are effective for students who are just beginning their journey with multiplication in third grade...and those students in fourth and fifth that still are on that journey... to make the recall of the facts automatic.

These interactive flip books illustrate and provide practice with five basic multiplication strategies:

  1. EQUAL GROUPS
  2. ARRAYS
  3. REPEATED ADDITION
  4. SKIP-COUNTING
  5. RELATED FACTS
These Multiplication Strategies Interactive Flip Books and anchor posters will help your students understand the concept of multiplication and help them memorize their multiplication tables.
This is the perfect strategy to use to introduce multiplication because it is concrete and very visual.  I suggest providing multiple opportunities for your students to use manipulative to make equal groups.

These Multiplication Strategies Interactive Flip Books and anchor posters will help your students understand the concept of multiplication and help them memorize their multiplication tables.
This is another important strategy to use when introducing multiplication because is also concrete and very visual.  Additionally, it is an effective way to introduce the Commutative Property {2x4 = 4x2} to your students.  Just by flipping the array 90* students can see that the total number of objects did not change.

These Multiplication Strategies Interactive Flip Books and anchor posters will help your students understand the concept of multiplication and help them memorize their multiplication tables.
This strategy starts to move away from the concrete (objects) to the more abstract use of numbers to illustrated multiplication.

These Multiplication Strategies Interactive Flip Books and anchor posters will help your students understand the concept of multiplication and help them memorize their multiplication tables.
Skip counting is not only a great multiplication strategy - it lays an important foundation in understanding multiples - which will be very useful when students get into fractions.

These Multiplication Strategies Interactive Flip Books and anchor posters will help your students understand the concept of multiplication and help them memorize their multiplication tables.
I love teaching this strategy because it helps the students understand the connection between multiplication and division as inverse operations.  It also reinforces the commutative property in multiplication and division.

I chose to use the triangle flash cards model here because it is an extremely effective way to reinforce this concept, while making the learning of the division facts so much easier!
These Multiplication Strategies Interactive Flip Books and anchor posters will help your students understand the concept of multiplication and help them memorize their multiplication tables.
Games are a fun, engaging, and effective way to give your students lots of practice with the math facts covered in each flip book!  This is an important step in helping your students to become automatic in their recall of the math facts.  This game on the back may be used during and after the flip book is completed.

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These Multiplication Strategies Interactive Flip Books and anchor posters will help your students understand the concept of multiplication and help them memorize their multiplication tables.

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These Multiplication Strategies Interactive Flip Books and anchor posters will help your students understand the concept of multiplication and help them memorize their multiplication tables.

Are you are looking for more resources to help your students increase their math fact fluency?
Check these out!
This bundle has everything you need to increase your students’ math fact fluency in multiplication and division!  • Tools and Activities for you to: ★ Teach ★ Assess to differentiate ★ Independent Practice ★ Partner Practice ★ Group Practice ★ Homework Practice

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Great post on incorporating brag tags to introduce and reinforce positive character qualities.
Do you have a challenge fitting character education into your busy days?  I know I always did!  
We know how important it is...
We want to do it...
But how?..
..with brag tags, book marks, and fables!
Brag tags are a great way to introduce and reinforce positive character qualities one by one.  The pictures in each circle represent the character quality in action and provide ideas for discussion starters with your students.
Students LOVE brag tags.  Maybe it's the recognition, maybe it's the charm of collecting - whatever the reason - they love them!  And I love handing them out.  They help me pause and celebrate students as they build their character.  
If you would like these brag tags, look for the link below.
These bookmarks are a great visual reminder of positive character for you and your students.  I like to give these out freely and keep a supply in the classroom library.
A handy source for discussion starters:
  • Why is it important for us to be responsible (or any character quality) at home, at school, and in our neighborhood?
  • How does it make you feel when someone is fair with you?


Fables are amazing stories that you can use to create a caring, respectful community with your students.  The secret to their effectiveness in doing so is also the reason they have endured for thousands of years!   Fables are a powerful way to fit character education into your curriculum - because fables are in the Common Core Standards!
There are many books of fables available (I think I have all of them). They are also available online for free.  Here are some links for you.








Character Education is the most important thing we teach our students because their character will effect the very person they become.  This is a great unit that will help you develop a safe, caring classroom community. Students will learn empathy as they learn about each of these character qualities and will be totally engaged as they learn how to develop strong character.
If you would like more resources to teach Character in your classroom, please check out my  'Interactive Notebook and More'pack.
Character Education is the most important thing we teach our students because their character will effect the very person they become.  This is a great unit that will help you develop a safe, caring classroom community. Students will learn empathy as they learn about each of these character qualities and will be totally engaged as they learn how to develop strong character.
Character Education is the most important thing we teach our students because their character will effect the very person they become.  This is a great unit that will help you develop a safe, caring classroom community. Students will learn empathy as they learn about each of these character qualities and will be totally engaged as they learn how to develop strong character.

If you would like to see this resource in action please click on the picture below.

Click on the picture to download the 

Character Brag Tags & Bookmarks Freebie!

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Math fact fluency is the ability to quickly recall 
the answers to basic math facts automatically - 
without hesitation.



So WHY do we need to help our students become fluent in basic math facts?

"Math facts fluency leads to higher order mathematics.  Through automaticity students free up their working memory and can devoted it to problem solving and learning new concepts and skills 
(Geary, 1994).

Quite simply, a lack of fluency in basic math facts will significantly hinder a child's subsequent progress in problem-solving, algebra, and higher order math concepts.  Math fact fluency not only affects our students' future success in math, but also in science and geography.
For these, and probably a zillion more, the Common Core Standards require us to insure that our students are fluent in their math facts.

Math fact automaticity affect performance in later elementary grades as students have longer and more complicated computations to complete.  At this stage, if a student does not have his/her math facts committed to memory, he/she will spend a lot of time and energy figuring out smaller calculations and risk not having time (or energy) to complete the assignment.

Their performance in math class is not the only academic area that may be negatively affected.  Other subjects such as science and geography may be hindered.


Math fact fluency is developed through lots of practice with effective tools and strategies.  I have found, and research confirms that Derived Fact Strategies (DFS) are highly effective in increasing math fact fluency.

Derived facts are math facts that are derived from known facts.  For example, if we know the doubles fact, 3+3=6, then we can derive the answer to 3+4 by using the 3+3 fact and adding 1 to it.  So a derived fact strategy is the mental process of deriving a new fact from a known fact. 
These posters have a motivating Super Hero theme! Each of the 11 posters defines and gives an example of the strategy. They are great on your math wall for the students to use a reference when needed. I have also included a smaller version to use in centers and small group or individual practice.
 These strategies are also called 'mental math strategies' and 'thinking strategies'.  They all refer to the cognitive process of deriving new understanding by using known information - higher level thinking!
Math fact fluency is developed through lots of practice with effective tools and strategies.  I have found, and research confirms that Derived Fact Strategies (DFS) are highly effective in increasing math fact fluency.
Math fact fluency is developed through lots of practice with effective tools and strategies.  I have found, and research confirms that Derived Fact Strategies (DFS) are highly effective in increasing math fact fluency.
I have seen the use of these strategies - with lots of practice using these strategies will transform students into confident learners!  Enjoying math!
I have also seen the flip side.  Teachers clinging to the use of timed tests, traditional flash cards, and pushing the responsibility of math fact fluency onto the parents (much to their frustration) - resulting in frustrated students - even tears - and negative experiences in math for years.

Knowing that lots of practice is crucial for students to become 'automatic' in their recall of basic facts, I have invested hundreds of hours creating engaging resources to provide students (and teachers) with effective activities that make practice fun!

Here is a game that provides repeated experience with the 
DFS (derived fact strategy):  "Plus 2".  
It is free in my TpT store.  
Just click on the picture to download your copy.
FREEBIE  Your students will enjoy playing this engaging Super Hero game with their friends and becoming more fluent in their addition math facts in the process!  Learning Games provide a fun, not-threatening opportunity for students to get needed practice to become fluent in their math facts.
Click on the pictures below to see more resources 
to help your students flourish 
in their math fact fluency.
 These Math Fact Fluency packs are designed using the mental math strategies. Research confirms that students learn the basic math facts if they learn them in the context of the mental math strategies. This not only helps them increase their math fact fluency, but they are understanding number sense and how the numbers are related to each other.
If you have not tried teaching the DFS with your students, 
I hope you will!
If you do - keep on, keeping on!
Be sure to enter our Giveaway for the opportunity to win one of three 
Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card.



 I am so delighted to be teaming up with some great bloggers to bring you our favorite books for the month of June!

My book for you is .....
'The Raft' the perfect May read aloud with free book companion.
This is a beautiful story of a boy's summer with his grandmother...on a river...on a raft.  The story opens with Nicky and his father leaving the city with Nicky complaining about having to spend the summer with his grandmother, who "doesn't even have a TV".

This is such a rich story!  My main purpose in reading it to students this time of year is to help them connect with Nicky and be inspired to make choices for their summer that will get them outside - away from technology.
Before I even open the book, I invite the students to enjoy looking at the cover and making observations. This is the perfect time to encourage children to make predictions about the story.

A prediction is a smart guess about what might happen after looking at clues.
Ask leading questions:
What do you predict the story will be about?  
What clues on the cover make you think that?
Why do you think the author titled it 'The Raft'?

Next, access your students' prior knowledge - schema.  
Prior Knowledge (schema) is what we already know about a topic.
What do you know about rafts?
You might want to use the 'Predictions & Schema' page from the (free) book companion.
'The Raft' the perfect May read aloud with free book companion.
'The Raft' the perfect May read aloud with free book companion.

While reading the story, pause and ask your students how they are like Nicky, and how are they different from Nicky.

I like to use this 'Compare and Contrast' Venn diagram with my students as we read the book.  Students could also fill this out after they read the story.
'The Raft' the perfect May read aloud with free book companion.
'The Raft' the perfect May read aloud with free book companion.
As the story continues, Nicky begins to change.  Encourage discussion with your students' about what changes they notice in him as the summer progresses.  I have included a t-chart for you to record the students observations on.  This chart will be used later when the students form opinions on why they think Nicky changed through the summer.
'The Raft' the perfect May read aloud with free book companion.
'The Raft' the perfect May read aloud with free book companion.

Beginning of Summer:

Nicky doesn't want to spend the summer with his grandma. 
He wants to watch TV all summer.
He is upset about doing chores.

End of Summer:

He enjoys being with his grandma.
Enjoys nature and the outdoors.
He learns to draw.
He becomes a 'river rat'.
He is sad to leave.

Students love to make and share their opinions, don't they?  Well then, so do I . :)  Pose the question: "Why do you think Nicky changed?"  As students give reasons, ask them to support those reasons with evidence from the text.
'The Raft' the perfect May read aloud with free book companion.
'The Raft' the perfect May read aloud with free book companion.
As a final activity (and the most important) the kids are going to make plans for their summers, reflecting on what they want to do less' of, and what they would like to do 'more' of.  I created this fun flap book so your students will have a place to record their goals.
'The Raft' the perfect May read aloud with free book companion.
I love to send my students off to their summers, hoping that they will apply what they learned from Nicky - unplug from technology and get outside and enjoy nature!
'The Raft' the perfect May read aloud with free book companion.
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Books Bloggers Love - 12 great read alouds for the month of June. Grab lesson ideas, freebies, and more for each book!

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