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!


It's Christmas, David!

I know. We haven't even had Thanksgiving and I'm already blogging about Christmas.  But yesterday, I recieved my book order from Scholastic.  If you're like me, opening one of these boxes every month is like Christmas! I ordered several books with familiar characters but this David Shannon book is my favorite.  I admit, I read it to my class.  (We have next week off.) 

Here is one of my favorite pages.

As I read the book, it reminded me a lot of No, David!  Take a look for yourself.

I decided created a graphic organizer; a text to text comparison of No, David! and It's Christmas, David! to use with my class when we get back from break.  I thought you might like it too.

Hope you enjoy!


Everything Pilgrim

Our classroom has really learned so much about Pilgrims.  We began the week by reading letters from Pilgrims. The letters were very informative.  The kids could not get over the use of chamber pots!  After much discussion, we created a chart of some facts that we learned. 

Taking a close-up look of the Mayflower provided even more ideas.   Finally, the kids were ready to make their own fact book.  I was inspired by this blog and had the kids make their own Mayflower Fact book. 

We used beads to help us retell the story of the Pilgrims, their voyage and the first Thanksgiving.  I found this great idea from here.  

We will culminate our learning by making Pilgrim hats and bonnets. Instead of a feast, we will enjoy the foods the Pilgrims had on their voyage; jerky to represent  the dried meats the Pilgrims ate, saltine crackers instead of soda crackers, and cider.  I hope this will show the kids that the Pilgrims had much to be thankful for.  


My Favorite Tools For Teaching and Learning

As a teacher, I love "stuff."  Sometimes, I feel like I have way too much of it.  But there are many items that I just can't live without.

Here are some of my favorites.
#1 Computer Adapter/Headphone Splitter
Who would have thought an adapter could change your teaching life?  It has.  No more teaching over the loudness of the listening center.  No more kids talking to each other while at listening center. I love this thing!  I don't know why it took me so long to buy it. 

#2 Schedule Cards
Another teacher lifesaver.  These schedule cards are cute and functional.  It keeps our day organized and allows kids to check what we are doing next rather than asking me 10 times.

#3 Pretend Phones
I made these telephones using clip art I found.  All I did was enlarge them and laminate for durability.  I use these alot with my ELD students or very shy students.  It's amazing how kids love to talk on the phone.  I always have these handy. 

#4 Mr. Spaceman
Mr. Spaceman is used during shared and interactive writing.  I keep smaller versions of this one in our community supply buckets for kids who still have difficulty with spacing.

#5 Verb Cards
I love these verb cards!  They are always available during writing.  Many times the pictures spark a student's interest for writing about that topic.  I also use them for our lessons on inflectional verb endings (more on that soon). 

#5 Highlighter Tape
I think I may have it in every color sold!  I like to have us "highlight" the words to match the color-coded high frequency word cards we use for our word wall.  Kids love to use as they read big books during buddy reading.

#6 Smelly Markers
 Nothing makes writing better than a smelly marker.  Give a kid one of these and they are sure to write. 

#7 Grab and Go Notebook
I love my teacher planner.  I bought two of these this summer! I like how functional it is.  I have a large one for my lessons and other student information but also a smaller one that I use for my committee meetings. 

#8 Painter's Tape
I use it everywhere!  It's on my floors to mark where students wait in line and on my door to keep student work up without leaving sticky residue.  It is so versatile.  That's what I like about it.

#9  Puppets and Stuffed Animals
We use these alot!  We use them to sort, for descrpitve writing, for buddy reading, as a sensory object, or for story retell.  The possibilites are endless! But mostly, they are just fun to play with. 

#10 My Son
Having a child has made me a better teacher.  It has given me the knowledge to see things from a different perspective; a child's point of view.  He has shown me to be more patient, love a lot more, and to cherish each day.  You are only a kid once.  As a teacher, I want to make it the best it can be for my little ones at school and also to the one I come home to every night.


Related Facts

We are learning about related facts or fact families in our classroom.  To help students understand, I use this little story.

I tell them to think about a brother and a sister equaling a mom or family.  We talk about how the brother will always be the brother and the mother will always be the mom no matter what order you put them in.  To demonstrate this, I have two students volunteer to help me. I try to always call the two same students to help the concept stick. (I try to call on two students who really need the visual to help them.) After students understand that concept, I, then, add numbers. 

Later, when we start working on fact families in a paper pencil fashion, kids have some background knowledge to fall back on.  This analogy has helped my students and me so much.  Hope you give it a try.


My class has been working on parts of speech.   I quickly drew this picture.  Then, we brainstormed what was happening in the picture.  I added their comments to my picture.

Afterwards, the kids worked in pairs.  Each pair talked about the picture and wrote what they saw.

Here is the picture one group used.
This is what they wrote.

Here is another sample.

The words on the left are smiling and lifting. 

This group separated their ideas based on the two people in the picture.

Overall, this was a good start to understanding verbs.  Next, we will be working on inflectional endings (s, ed, ing).  Since many of my students are English language learners, this will be an opportunity to look at verb tense as well.

Happy Learning and Teaching,


A wonderful thing happened in my classroom this week; a member of our learning community took another step towards becoming an independent reader.  

As a teacher, I have the pleasure of seeing kids grow and change; sometimes in the smallest ways but other times in ways that will change their lives forever.  I was able to capture the moment here in this photo.  T. is reading instead of turning the pages or relying on someone else to read to her.  She is engaged in the book focusing on the words and using the illustrations to support her.  I know, it seems silly. But to a teacher this is an amazing transformation. 

We are all readers! For some it is a straightforward path, but for others like T. it comes with lots of hard work and practice.  Success is not always easy and at times you just want to give up.  Fortunately, she persevered and has transformed herself into a beautiful butterfly.



Instead of doing the traditional pumpkin and Halloween activities, I decided to teach about skeletons.  My class loved it! First, we began by learning Macarena Bones by Dr. Jean.  I love her!   If you are not familiar with Dr. Jean, you must check out her site.  This is such a catchy jingle.  To help us learn the body parts, we labeled a skeleton like this one.  (This actually took two days.  We only have about 30 minutes for science and social studies three times a week.)

Then, we learned about our joints and their importance for movement.  I used the book below for our project.

Adorable Wearables Human Body: Reproducible Patterns for "Hear" Muffs, Vision Goggles, and Other Easy-to-Make Paper Projects That Kids Can Wear

The kids made an arm bones band.  They turned out so cute!  Sorry, that there are no pictures.  I was busy taping them together and didn't have time to take photos!  But I did take a few pictures of the worksheet we used from the above book. 

Finally, we made a skeleton using q-tips.  I was very impressed at their ability to listen to directions.   We will wrap up the unit by learning about our muscles and the importance of our organs.  What I love about this unit is that it can be done any time of the year!

Hope you'll give it a try in your classroom.

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