Groundhog Day Books and a Freebie

Groundhog Day is almost here! This is such a fun day for exploring our shadows.  Over the years, I have collected some great books that I love to read aloud or add to our listening center.

My all time favorite read aloud is Ten Grouchy Groundhogs.  I purchased the audio version years ago from Scholastic and it is always a big hit in our classroom.  It is so cute to hear my students chanting along with the story.
We usually begin subtraction during this month so this title lends itself naturally to learning how to subtract.   
This Grouchy Groundhog Freebie can be used while you read the story or it can be used by students to create their own subtraction sentence.  
Have a great Groundhog Day! Here's to an early spring!

Books for Young Learners: MLK, Jr., Rosa Parks and Ruby Bridges

Finding "just right" books for young students can be a challenge when dealing with sensitive topics like social injustice. As a teacher, I want to make sure that the books I read to them are age appropriate and cover the topic thoughtfully. 

Here are some of my favorite books for young learners about Martin Luther King, Jr.

Each of these books highlight the work of Martin Luther King, Jr.; many weave in quotes from his most famous speeches throughout the book.

These readings provide knowledge that we will use in our writing throughout our unit of study.  We create a tree map together using the verbs: was, changed, and dreamed. It is interesting to see each year what learning makes an impact on my students.  Students, then, write about MLK, Jr. using the sentence frames we created.

Learning about Rosa Parks and Ruby Bridges provide us another opportunity to learn more about this time period from the perspective of a woman and a child.

Writing like this one and art like this guided drawing lesson will also be included.  

Teaching about sensitive topics can be intimidating, but, thankfully, there are plenty of excellent books for young learners which we can use to help us.


Winter Games - 3 Simple Centers

Winter is here! Although the weather outside may not be snowy. Our classroom centers will be.

Here are  three simple center ideas that you can use to transform your centers into Winter Games.  Each of these centers can be easily adapted to meet the needs of your students and classroom and with a few minor changes they can be used all winter. #teachertimesaver

Snowman Bowling

For this center, I am using SitSpots as place holders for our snow people.  On the bottom of the container, I have written CVC words that I would like my students to practice.

This center would also be a great introduction to subtraction.  This song could be adapted to engage all students while one child goes up to bowl.

I love using instant snow as a center. For this center, students will match the rhymes and hang on a clothesline.  Not only are students practicing rhyming, this center includes sensory play and fine motor.  We all know that kids need more of this, too!

Click here for your set of mitten rhymes.

Ice Fishing

Look at that smile! I turned an ordinary copy paper box into a fun ice fishing center by simply cutting a hole on the top, adding some shredded paper and fish.   

Don't have fish! Don't worry Differentiated Kindergarten has a great freebie you can use. 

Well, there you have it. Three simple winter centers for your classroom!

Guided Drawing of Ruby Bridges Plus a Technology Twist

If you read my last blog post, you know how I feel about the gift of education.
Ruby Bridges was one of many brave children who paved the way to end segregation in schools. I believe that my students can identify with Ruby Bridges due in part to her age when her parents responded to a request from the NAACP and volunteered to her integrate within the New Orleans school system.
This year, I plan to try something new when teaching about Ruby Bridges. My students do so well with guided drawing that I have decided to create a guided drawing of Ruby Bridges.
Usually guided drawing lessons take about 30-45 minutes.  I give step by step directions and monitor students as we go along.  I like my students to draw in pencil (no erasers).  Afterwards, they use a black marker to go over their pencil markers.  Finally, they color. For this lesson, students will make her bow out of construction paper and glue on after they have completed coloring the entire project.
Here is a video giving you step by step directions of how to draw Ruby Bridges.  
(My videographer was my 8 year old son so please excuse some of the shaking.) 

You could do the exact same lesson with your students using their iPads if you are 1-1.  Students would open a drawing app; I used Sketchbook and follow along as you gave them directions.  Once completed, they would save it to their camera roll.  Then, they could upload it to Seesaw and either add text or record their learning.  

 Please share with me if you use this in your classroom. I would love to see what your students create.

Education is a gift that lasts a lifetime

Education is a gift that lasts a lifetime.  This is the tagline of my blog.  

Have you ever wondered why?

It's because of my mom.  
My mom in the fields of Texas. (circa 1960s)
My mom was born and raised in the great state of Texas. As a child, she worked in the fields picking cotton, pecans and an array of other items. She spent most of her days in the fields rather than in the classroom. The days she was able to go to school, it was anything but welcoming. She and her siblings were ridiculed about their clothes, color of skin and even the lunch they ate. Eventually, she stopped going. My mother never went to school past fourth grade.

Yet, she never gave up on the thought that with an education you could achieve greater success.  She always promoted school and learning.

Education is a gift that lasts a lifetime.

I have spent my entire teaching career in schools whose students look much like my mom and me.  Families and students who have a similar story as my childhood; children of sometimes limited educated families who are doing their best to make ends meet.

As a teacher, I know that what/how I teach will impact my students and their future.

I do my best to create a learning environment where kids and learning come first. We read, create, experiment, play, and work hard. I do my best to incorporate my students' needs and interests when I create my lessons.  I teach to "the book" but know when to ditch "the book."

Education is a gift that lasts a lifetime.

So, you can only imagine how much it pains me to hear a colleague or other teacher say, "I don't have time for x, y, z." (Usually, science, socials studies, or any other non-tested subject).

How can we possibly set our kids up for success, if we are not providing them the education that they deserve?

Education is a gift that lasts a lifetime. 

I like to wonder, what might have happened if my mom had been given the opportunity of an education?


One Word - Gratitude

It's a new year.

This year, I have chosen a word that will guide me for the next 365 days.

Do you believe that words can change your mindset? 

I do. 

I want to be grateful and show gratitude for every day things.  

I want others around me to know how much I appreciate them. I want to be mindful.  I want to take note and observe life's simple wonders.    

I know with GRATITUDE I can accomplish anything; even life's obstacles.

I have no idea what 2016 has in store but I am hopeful.  
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