A Few of My Favorite Things


I'm teaming up with some of my bloggy friends again!
Last year we blogged about our favorite non-school related things, this year we have decided that we will share with you some of our favorite school things!
So here we go:


SpellingCity is my absolute favorite website and app for so many reasons!
  1. Effective & the kids LOVE it!
  2. May be used on the web or as an app
  3. Paperless practice
  4. Paperless Testing with instant results!
  5. Differentiation Potential:
  • You can create individual spelling lists for different students
  • You are able to assign different activities to different students
Be sure to check out SpellingCity.


I love tubs and file folders for organizing my teaching resources.  

I tried the binders - for years I struggled with those binders!   (grr!)
Once something came out of a binder, it was probably never going to find its way back again.
So I went back to file folders - but not tucked away in a drawer - in a tub.  
Easy to find!
Easy to refile!
Here are my paragraph resources - all organized and ready at my fingertips!
No more impromptu writing opportunities missed because I didn't have the resources!



Our all-time favorite Christmas Tradition is making gingerbread cookies with the grandkids!
It looks like they love it too!
We have used the same recipe for years.
Just click on the picture below if you would like the recipe.

Come and visit my other teacher friends' blogs for their favorite websites, organization tips and much more!


2

'Tis the Season of Giving

This is the perfect time to launch the Season of Giving in our classrooms and homes.
We want to make this a season 
of GIVING - not 'grabbing'.  
Here is a plan to help our students look beyond what the media is telling them they need to be happy -  
to look beyond themselves - 
beyond these safe borders - 
warm homes - 
full plates - 
full closets - 
full toy chests - 
~ beyond wanting - to seeing others ~
their needs
their poverty
their hunger
their hope for safety
their need for our help

First, set the stage with a story.
This is a precious story of a little girl's life that was changed because someone far away cared and gave.

Next, discuss with your kids how their lives are different than Beatrice,
and how they are similar.
A Venn diagram is perfect for collecting their ideas.

The goal of this activity is to develop empathy for people living in far away places that have great needs in their lives.  
Once the needs are seen, the kids usually want to do something to help.

Here are 3 great places to partner with to give to the less fortunate.




I have used World Vision in the past.  I call them in November and ask them to send me a dozen catalogs.  I partnered the students up and they looked through the catalogs together, marking with a Sharpie the gifts they would like to give.
It was such a joy to see them so concerned with the needs and excited to be able to help!
We brainstormed how we could help - how we could earn money to purchase some of these items.
Kids come up with some great ideas!

I had a parent letter prepared to send home to the parents, explaining what we were doing and encouraging them to find ways for their kids to earn money - not just get it from mom and dad.  I also let the kids 'check out' the catalogs and take them home.  Most families become involved when they see those pictures!  The kids bring the catalogs back, so after we have collected all our 'hard earned' money, we can go through them again.  I kept them on the library table and many would read them during silent reading time.
I just put a Christmas can on my desk, and we would put our money in.  On the last day before Christmas break, we count the money!  This is our party activity - we do not do gift exchange - we give to those in need.
The first year I did this, I thought their might be a little grumbling - was I wrong!  They were super joyous!  on a much deeper level than any party I had ever had at school!

This turned out to be a great math opportunity.  Each table counted part of our 'stash', then the table captains wrote the totals on the white board- then we had adding with regrouping - and even a little mention of that decimal point needing to be lined up ;).

Now, we know what the budget is, so we partner up and go through the catalogs one more time.

1)  Find 1-3 things to give that did not go over our budget.
2)  Cut the items out of catalog.
3)  Prepare to share why you think those things are important
(I have had some passionate and persuasive second graders!)

You can see some of the choice on the magnet board.  Needless to say, there were more suggestions than we had money for.  But as we looked at all the pictures we saw there were similar categories:
Animals (a favorite)
Fresh water
Medicine
Shelter
Education

This is such a transforming project!
The students learn such empathy for others.
They become givers - not 'grabbers'.
and they help transform someone's life in a distant place on this planet - like Beatrice.

Do you like to give gifts to your students?  
 My favorite gift to give is a goat!  
That's right... a goat!
and my kids were not disappointed that they didn't get a bag of stuff - they were totally delighted that their gift was to a little 'Beatrice' whose life would be made better by that little goat-
because their hearts had grown in empathy!

I have a Season of Giving Pinterest board with more links if you want more ideas for your 'Season of Giving'.

What will you be doing in your classroom to help make it a 'Season of Giving'?




6

There's an App for That! Digital Reports


Are you looking for an engaging alternative to paper/pencil report writing?
You will be amazed to see how motivated your students will be to research and write a report about almost anything!
Sonic Pics is a digital story telling app.  
It's as easy as 1-2-3
1 Add pictures
2 Add text
3 Narrate
Tada!  They have made a digital report!

I introduce the project as a movie, and explain that movie makers always start with a storyboard.
Now the storyboard is really the rough draft and it is the key to guide their research and their writing.

The first project my second graders did with this app was a 'documentary' about where they live.
Students used the Google Earth app to research the names of their 
continent, county, state, city, street, and address.  
Then they wrote out the sentence that they would narrate when they were ready to make the 'movie'.

After the storyboard is complete it is time to add add the pictures.  We went back to Google earth and took screenshots of each location.  
Continent
Country
State
Town
Street

When all the pictures have been added, students are ready to add the narration to their 'documentary'.  This is a wonderful opportunity to review reading fluency.

Sonic Pics is very forgiving and allows one to move pictures around, switch pictures, and re-record as many times as students want.  It can then be shared in a variety of ways; mail, photos, YouTube, and even Google Drive.

I am sure that once you and your students start playing with this app, you will think of dozens of ways to use it in your curriculum.

Here are some additional 'Story Boards' we have used for other topics of study:

I especially love this one, because it provides the 
framework for a well-constructed paragraph. 



Click on the picture to see Sonic Pics
in the App Store.


I would love to hear ways you are planning on using Sonic Pics with your students!
Primary Flourish


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Not Your Mother's Flashcards

Multiplication and Division facts mastery is accelerated through the use of these triangle flash cards and included activities.  ★ BENEFITS OF TRIANGLE FLASH CARDS ★  • They reinforce the concept of related facts. • They reinforce the commutative property. (2x3=6 and 3x2=6) • They enhance understanding of multiplication and division being inverse operations. • They make learning division facts MUCH easier and faster. • Multiplication and Division Triangle may be used for: ♥ Individual Use ♥ Small Group ♥ Entire Class ♥ Homework
Do your students have multiplication down? or are you still looking for the silver bullet?
If you you still have students struggling to memorize the multiplication tables -
this may be your silver bullet to help those kids!
~ Engaging ~
~ Easy Prep ~
~ Motivating ~
~ Flexible Usage ~
~ and best of all - EFFECTIVE! ~

I want to share some fun multiplication flash cards and activities with you that will help you help your students 'flourish' in mastering their math facts.

These are not your mother's flash cards. . .
they are triangles and they are a super-effective tool for mastering math facts!
They can be used in so many ways!

Individual Use
Small Group
Whole Class
Homework
There are many benefits to using the triangle flash cards:  • They reinforce the concept of related facts. • They reinforce the commutative property. (2x3=6 and 3x2=6) • They enhance understanding of multiplication and division being inverse operations. • They make learning division facts MUCH easier and faster. • Multiplication and Division Triangle may be used for: ♥ Individual Use ♥ Small Group ♥ Entire Class ♥ Homework
Look how they make it easy to see the 
commutative property in action!
2x3=6 and 3x2=6

They also demonstrate how multiplication and division are inverse operations.
Once students master the multiplication facts, the division facts come so. much. easier!

One of my students' favorite whole-group activities with these flash cards
 is a cooperative learning activity we call
Partner Quiz!
It's a super engaging activity and the kids ASK for it!
{I have complete instructions in the pack.}
There are many benefits to using the triangle flash cards:  • They reinforce the concept of related facts. • They reinforce the commutative property. (2x3=6 and 3x2=6) • They enhance understanding of multiplication and division being inverse operations. • They make learning division facts MUCH easier and faster. • Multiplication and Division Triangle may be used for: ♥ Individual Use ♥ Small Group ♥ Entire Class ♥ Homework

There are many benefits to using the triangle flash cards:  • They reinforce the concept of related facts. • They reinforce the commutative property. (2x3=6 and 3x2=6) • They enhance understanding of multiplication and division being inverse operations. • They make learning division facts MUCH easier and faster. • Multiplication and Division Triangle may be used for: ♥ Individual Use ♥ Small Group ♥ Entire Class ♥ Homework
Math mats are included to using in teaching the concept or review in centers.

There are many benefits to using the triangle flash cards:  • They reinforce the concept of related facts. • They reinforce the commutative property. (2x3=6 and 3x2=6) • They enhance understanding of multiplication and division being inverse operations. • They make learning division facts MUCH easier and faster. • Multiplication and Division Triangle may be used for: ♥ Individual Use ♥ Small Group ♥ Entire Class ♥ Homework
Here is another great way to use them - with a recording sheet for seat work or math centers.
3 different recording sheets are included, to make it easy to differentiate.

Enlist Parent Help!
There are many benefits to using the triangle flash cards:  • They reinforce the concept of related facts. • They reinforce the commutative property. (2x3=6 and 3x2=6) • They enhance understanding of multiplication and division being inverse operations. • They make learning division facts MUCH easier and faster. • Multiplication and Division Triangle may be used for: ♥ Individual Use ♥ Small Group ♥ Entire Class ♥ Homework
I like to send them home with this letter to make it easy for the family to help.

There are many benefits to using the triangle flash cards:  • They reinforce the concept of related facts. • They reinforce the commutative property. (2x3=6 and 3x2=6) • They enhance understanding of multiplication and division being inverse operations. • They make learning division facts MUCH easier and faster. • Multiplication and Division Triangle may be used for: ♥ Individual Use ♥ Small Group ♥ Entire Class ♥ Homework


You can see, these flash cards are packed with possibilities!
Many engaging ways to give your students that
needed practice to master their multiplication facts!
It is a great CCSS Aligned resource for your classroom.
3.OA.C7

There are many benefits to using the triangle flash cards:  • They reinforce the concept of related facts. • They reinforce the commutative property. (2x3=6 and 3x2=6) • They enhance understanding of multiplication and division being inverse operations. • They make learning division facts MUCH easier and faster. • Multiplication and Division Triangle may be used for: ♥ Individual Use ♥ Small Group ♥ Entire Class ♥ Homework
There are many benefits to using the triangle flash cards:  • They reinforce the concept of related facts. • They reinforce the commutative property. (2x3=6 and 3x2=6) • They enhance understanding of multiplication and division being inverse operations. • They make learning division facts MUCH easier and faster. • Multiplication and Division Triangle may be used for: ♥ Individual Use ♥ Small Group ♥ Entire Class ♥ Homework

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2 Tips to Tame the Morning Chaos

Don't you just love this picture?!
Look at their enthusiasm ...
... their determination ...
... their speed ...
... their joy ...
all coming into YOUR classroom!

After years of frustration with the chaos of my mornings with the students,
I found 2 routines that tamed - not squelched - tamed and directed ...
... their determination ...
... their speed ...
... their joy ...
as they come into YOUR classroom!
I call it "Rise & Shine" because that's what I want the students to do...
rise to the challenges of the day ...
and shine with their best!

It is PowerPoint slide that you project every morning as the students arrive.  They can quickly see what they need to do to prepare for the day - and you have a few moments to take roll, lunch count, or any other morning responsibilities that you may have.
This really transformed my mornings!  Now the students were self-directed and productive!
And it was a snap for me to create every day - much easier - and cuter - than writing it on the whiteboard every day.

If you would like to give this a try - 
you can download it - 
for free!
I made the slides editable so you can add what you need to for each new day!
I think it will make your mornings so much easier!
Morning Routines

There is just something wonderful about music and the effect it has on us!
I found that music playing as the students enter the classroom helps them 
transition and refocus their attention!
I have a morning playlist with a variety of tempos:
Quiet music on Mondays when their energy is high.
Lively music for the Fridays (and the day after a field trip).
Variety of tempos in between.

I hope these 2 tips will help you 'tame the morning chaos'!
Great tips to tame the morning chaos and channel all that enthusiasm into learning!

Primary Flourish


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3 Tips to Work Smarter Not Harder



Today I am linking with Laura from Where the Magic Happens, Krista from Teaching Momster, and Lisa from PAWsitively Teaching! I have joined forces once again with my bloggy friends to bring you the best, most amazing giveaway on this Labor Day weekend!

We want to treat you with some of our best ideas to 
work smarter...
not harder...
at school and at home!

So here I go!
Slide1
Paragraph Writing
it takes a little time -
but will save you TONS of time throughout the year!

Have you ever had one of those amazing discussions with your class that everyone was engaged?  And you knew it would be a perfect springboard into a writing project - but didn't have a class set of graphic organizers at your fingertip... (so sad...)  I know we could have created our own... however, sometimes there just is not the time to do that with second graders.
I finally decided to organize my writing resources - so I could work smarter and be ready for those 'amazing' opportunities!

Slide2
After a day in the classroom, I often feel totally depleated .... like all the energy had been drained out of me.... like a dead battery.... ever felt that way???
Of course you have - you are a teacher!
My favorite way to unwind is to take ...
When I get home - I kiss my husband - greet the dogs - 
and head for the garden.... 
Gradually as I walk around and focus on the flowers...
my mind begins to relax...
and I get a second wind...
refreshed and ready for my family.

Slide3
I have a Freebie for you that I believe will make your morning routines a lot easier!
I call it "Rise & Shine" - a PowerPoint slide that you have projected every morning as the students arrive.  They can quickly see what they need to do to prepare for the day - and you have a few moments to take roll, lunch count, or any other morning responsibilities that you may have.
I made the slides editable so you can add what you need to for each new day!
I think it will make your mornings so much easier!

2

6 Ways to use Games in the Classroom

Hi, teacher friends, as you head back to school I have some tips to help your students 'flourish' in their learning - using games!

Research shows 'worksheets don't grow dendrites'!  
If students are engaged and having fun with meaningful content - 
they.will.learn!
Games are engaging and fun!
Kids do learn as they play!

 I used to think that I could only use a game if I had previously taught the concept.  
Not true - so I learned 'by accident' ;) 
I was in a pinch one day because our week had been shortened with a Monday holiday -  So I thought I would just use the phonics game to teach the spelling patterns we were covering that week.  
The kids were so motivated to learn the patterns- so they could play the game!  
Ta-da moment for the teacher!  
Games could be used to teach.
Sometimes I would use my document camera and sometimes we would meet on the rug to learn 'how to play the game' - which included learning the concepts.
Word Work
I used this game to introduce and teach the spelling patterns 'ew' and 'ui'.  We read and sorted all the words as a group, and then I released them to play (independent practice) with a partner.
The same games can be used for guided practice portion of your lesson.  Just partner or group the students to play as you walk around and monitor their understanding of the concepts.

Common Nouns Printables
Once the academic concepts have been taught and practiced, the students can gradually be released to use the games as independent practice in your lessons.
 I try to add two components to the games at this point, an answer key and 
mini anchors poster of the concepts being taught - so students can refer to them as they play.
The answer key and the anchor posters help the students to self-check their use of the new concepts.

Centers provide wonderful opportunities to use the games to review and reinforce concepts that have been previously taught.
Math Fact Fluency


Here is an example of some multiplication games that make differentiation a breeze!
After assessing your students, partner or group students to practice the particular multiplication table that they need practice on.
Multiplication Fact Fluency

 Many authors include black and white versions of their games.  
These are perfect to send home as homework.  Games provide families with a friendly framework to practice concepts in a fun context.  Parents appreciate this kind of homework because their kids are usually eager to play a game, whereas a bundle of worksheets are tedious not only to their kids - but to the parents as well.
Math Fact Fluency

I hope I have inspired and given you some ideas on how to use games in your classroom this year to help your students 'flourish' in their learning!
Research shows 'worksheets don't grow dendrites'!   If students are engaged and having fun with meaningful content -  they.will.learn! Games are engaging and fun! Kids do learn as they play!

Primary Flourish
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