Book Recommendation

Have you read this book, Twelve Hats for Lena, by Karen Katz?  It is a story about a little girl, Lena, who makes a hat for each month of the year. I always like to read it at the start of the new year.  (Another recommendation is to read it during the unit of study of time as related to months of the year and days of the week.)  As you read the book, you get a sense of what each month has in store.  Sometimes, that is a very hard concept to understand here in California, where our seasons seem to blend from one to the other.

By the time, we head back to class from Winter Break, we will be in the middle of January.  I hope to get my class to understand that as a new year begins, we repeat the months of the year.   We will make a class book, Twelve Hats for Room 3. I've created this Twelve Hats for Lena document to help get me started.  It is a collection of different hats that I can copy and resize if needed.  Children will choose which hat they would like to use for their month.  Then, they will use paper face cut-outs to put the hat onto and decorate both.  I have the cover page and months ready to go.  We will end up with two class books.  I think this will give us a great opportunity to compare similarities and differences in each of our hats. 

But the fun won't stop there!  Each child will make a paper hat to wear.  My class loves hats!  They will have more room for creativitiy like Lena had and hope to let them use some of my calendar pieces like these.


Here are some other favorite books, I will read as we do this mini-unit of study.

Month by Month a Year Goes RoundChicken Soup with Rice: A Book of Months  My Love for You All Year Round 

 Happy Teaching and Learning!


The True Gifts of Being A Teacher

Today was a great day! Due to time constraints, we did not have a big holiday party. Instead, we made Grinch Jello and enjoyed a dance party. Somewhere along the way, our dance party turned into a dance contest; boys versus girls. I told my kiddos that I didn't have any prizes. One student suggested that perhaps a hug from me could be the prize. Everyone was happy with the idea. I had a great time judging and in the end the boys one. They got their prize as they walked out at the end of the day. But really I was the winner. I have a class who still enjoys being a kid and is happy with a hug from their teacher. Who could ask for anything more?

Happy Teaching and Learning!


Our Christmas Gift

We made lanterns as holiday gifts for our families.  This really was an inexpensive project to make.

You need glass jars (all donated), Mod Podge, and tissue paper.  Kids cut the tissue paper into squares and then applied a thin layer of Mod Podge onto the jar.  Next, they put their pieces of tissue paper onto the jar.  I went around and touched up the tissue paper to ensure that it was all glued down.  Afterwards, I sprayed with Mod Podge clear sealer and added a tea light.

Another alternative would be to collect glass baby food jars cover as directed above and give for Valentine's Day or Mother's Day with a cute poem.  

Happy Teaching and Learning!


Oh, Christmas Tree!

Oh, Christmas tree! Oh, Christmas tree!  How lovely are your branches!

We enjoyed an action packed day of all things Christmas tree.  Here are some ideas and suggestions for you to use with your students.

We made Christmas trees writing sums or differences based on the number of the star. This was a great way to informally access student's knowledge of math facts.

We practiced writing words with the long e sound onto trees; a notepad I purchased from the dollar section at Target last year.

Our art activity was a litle messy but worked on fine motor skills.  I found the idea from we heart art.  At first, they did not look so pretty but I think they make a beautful bulletin board display.

Here is what it looks like up close.

Hope it inspires you! Maybe you'll use these ideas with your class next year!

Happy Teaching and Learning!


December Sensory Playdoh

I have several students who benefit from sensory activities.  I like to use Playdoh.  I make it rather than purchasing it because I can add scents and colors based on a theme or time of year.  I also like that it is a fun activity to do with my son.  I try to make a new batch each month.  This month, I have made Peppermint Playdoh. So far, it is a big hit! I made it in two different colors; like the colors of peppermint. 
My special needs students use the Playdoh during their break times throughout the day.   Whereas, everyone else uses it during Word Work while at Daily 5.

Happy Teaching and Learning!

Too Many Tamales

Too Many Tamales

I love holiday stories! There is something so special about these books and the messages that they convey. I find myself buying more every year but also have discovered that I rely on some tried and true books around this time of year.  With the madness of assessments, parent conferences and the holidays approaching; it is nice to rely on some wonderful favorites that can also be used for teaching purposes. 

I love how this book, Too Many Tamales, celebrates family traditions.  For many of my students and myself included, it would not be the Christmas season without the making of tamales.  In this charming story, Maria discovers the importance of telling the truth rather than covering up for one's mistakes.  While making tamales, Maria tires on her mother's diamond ring and misplaces it.  In her panic, she and her cousins eat all the tamales trying to find the diamond ring within the masa.  Later, Maria learns that her mother had the ring all along.  After reading the story, we will complete a story map based on the problem and solution

My favorite Froggy story.  We used this story recently to work on problem and solution.

 The Gingerbread Kid Goes to School (All Aboard Reading)
What happens when the principal takes a gingerbread cookie to school?  Read this story to find out.
Mrs. Wishy-Washy's Christmas
Discover how Mrs. Wishy-Washy's animals get ready for the Christmas holiday. 

Happy Teaching and Learning!


Monitoring Student Progress

Sometimes it is hard to tell if all the children in the classroom are learning the information that I present.  Here is an example of how I use an exit slip to check for understanding. 

We were working on inflectional endings with verbs ending in -ed.  The -ed endings can be tricky to read. I have a lot of English language learners and this visual helps them to understand the correct enunciation of the word.  The chart shows and tells the kids exactly how to say the -ed ending. 

We practiced together using our white boards.  On the upper corner, I wanted them to write what sound the -ed made to help them remember how to read the word.

Finally, I had the kids do one to check for understanding.  Each child received a different verb card.  (I love these cards!) I made sure to give each student a card which they could read.  They shared their learning with the class and I monitored who got it or who needed more help.

It appears that everyone is getting the lesson.  Success! 
But look closely at this last one.  The student wrote the letter t.  The student knew how to read the word play but with the inflectional ending was unable to read the word.  I said the word played stressing the ending sound and asked what they heard.  Finally, the student said /d/.  I had the student correct their answer and share the correct answer with the class and why it was correct. 
Exit slips are one or two questions about any topic that provide immediate information to both the teacher and student about student learning.  I like how it provides immediate feedback.  What I love about this example, is that you need very little tools.  If you would like to read more about exit slips, read more here.

 Happy Learning and Teaching!


I Love iTunes

Yes, I admit it.  I love iTunes!  I was hesitant at first.  I resisted using my iPod a few years back because it was a technology I knew nothing about.  But much to my surprise, the possibilities are endless.  All my favorite music in one place and instant access to music, video, and tv shows all from the iTunes Store.  I was hooked.

Last year, I decided to make the switch from cassettes to CDs.  I am so glad that I did!  Here is what I do.  I use my Bonus Points from Scholastic to buy their CD audio collection each month.  Then, I use my Apple Reward coupons and/or $10 free books coupon to get an extra copy or two of each of the books.  This means more students have access to the listening center.  Currently, 4-6 students are at the listening center.  I am able to do this with only 1 student computer and 1 teacher computer.   I import all my audiobooks onto iTunes.  Then, I create a Playlist of the audiobooks I want the students to listen.  Usually, I have to import an image from the internet from sites such as Amazon because the pictures help them find which book is next. 

The purpose of my listening center is to listen to books for enjoyment.  I want children to enjoy being read to and reading.  I also want them to hear what a fluent reader sounds like.  On average, students listen to 3 to 5 books.  Each child goes to the listening center about twice a week.  Most books are in the listening center for 1 to 2 weeks.  After a while, students will request which ones they want me to "put back" into the listening center rotation.  Class favorites include: Splat the Cat, Llama Llama Mad a Mama, and Not Norman.

My most recent discovery is using iTunes Podcasts as part of the listening center options.   Barnes and Noble Online Storytime and The Electric Company are my current favorites.  By using iTunes I can select what my class has access to instead of having them navigate these resources on the internet.  I can have them learn a particular skill or listen to a certain story.  They also love the change of pace it gives to the listening center. 

iTunes has helped me create a learning center where children are actively engaged.  It has provided my students who have limited or no access to technolgy at home an avenue to learn.  That, I think, is amazing!

Happy Learning and Teaching!

Math Routines

To show my appreciation to you for being a Follower, I would like to share my Math Routines documents.  These are documents that my students use to help them during math time.  Included is: a Ten Frame, Hundreds chart with 1 more, 1 less, 10 more, 10 less, a money chart, and more.

I started this blog for fun and to help me reflect on my teaching practices.  It is great to have people who are interested in my teaching.  Thank you.  Best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving!


Happy Learning and Teaching!

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