Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Quick! Great deal on Book Characters!

If you've been in my classroom you know I am a sucker for plush characters that go along with my favorite books!  I was so excited to find a deal on Zulily for a few I do not already have!
Take a look at a few of these available ones! 
These are just a few…there are more….
So click on the picture to see the whole available collection of book sets and characters.

This deal ends in exactly one day and 15 hours… you have to hurry!
Happy shopping.  :)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Chicka Tree Shapes: FREE Pocket Chart Activity

Bill Martin Jr.'s Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is a must read for the start of kindergarten, don't you agree?  I realize many preschool programs cover this story nowadays but I still think it is a great book for introducing and/or reviewing the alphabet.  Each year it seems to me that my new bunch of children enjoy the story more and more.  Maybe it is because it is familiar to them.  Maybe it is because they get into the rhythm of the words.  Maybe it is because I allow them to decorate me with alphabet stickers.  Either way this is a must for those first few weeks of K.

 There are SO many amazing ideas out there to go along with this story.  I let my kids sing along to the song during snack time.  Here's the video in case you need it:
I made a easy pocket chart activity for math to use along with the story this year.  It is all about naming 2D shapes and counting each shape's number of sides and corners.  I am going to place the poem/chant into my pocket chart and let my kiddos take turns manipulating the number and shape cards to describe the shape on the displayed Chicka Tree card.  I'm hoping to graduate this into my buddy reading station as well during literacy block.  Click on the image to download it {FREE}.  I'm hoping you can use it in your class too! :)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

What Does Mrs. Lirette Say?

What do I say?  Towards the end of the school year my administrators challenged the faculty to ask our students this question and then post the answers outside our room.  Here is what my students said about me:
I see a lot of behavior management strategies…but it could have been worse, right? What can I say.  I had a very active class this year!
This was a great eye-opening activity for me.  My goal next year is to have these strategies stick as well as some thinking ones like "What makes you say that?" <----Not that I don't already ask them this….I just want my kids to recognize that I say a lot of questioning stems too…as much as all those behavior management sayings! :)

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Dicy McCullough's Books- Loved that Lesson! (Freebie too!}

This spring I had the privilege of opening up my mailbox to find a sweet note from Dicy McCullough and a set of her "I'm Tired" books.  This was actually perfect timing because my little learning detectives were in the final weeks of school…and were definitely tired of everything!
Click the image to read reviews and ordering information on Amazon
Confession.  I do not usually read 5 books back to back in the same sitting.  However, I started out with  Tired of School and my students immediately fell in love with John Allen and the dogs.  Is Molly the dog's red bow not the cutest?  My kids begged for me to read all of these books to them, one right after the other!  They loved the friendly rhythm and rhyme.  They could relate to the subject matter and the characters.  Their favorite part?  The last pages of each book that include thoughts from other children around their age.  It always amazes me when kindergartners see a familiar name and they assume it is that person they know with the same name…."My sister's name is Emma!"…."That's your name!  Did you say that too?"  :)

Imagine my kiddos' surprise when I pulled up the "quiz" on the Promethean board.  There are games and activities for each story on

As a teacher reading these stories for the first time, my mind was racing with thoughts of incorporating each of these books into character building lessons throughout the school year.  Tired of Being a Bully is perfect to read along with Bully Beans or Recess Queen.  Tired of Being Different will fit in nicely with an All About Me unit at the beginning of the school year.

Here are some writing prompts to go along with this story.  Click on the images or {here} to download the boy and girl version.

I am very grateful to Dicy for introducing me to her stories.  I hope there are many more to come.  Thank you!

I'm linking up with Fourth Grade Studio in hopes that others will find these books perfect for the classroom too.  Click on the image to find more lessons to explore from other bloggers.

AND linking up with the sweet Deanna for this week's Let's Talk About Books!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Book Talk Tuesday! Making Thinking Visible

If you have not heard about Project Zero's Visible Thinking I recommend you clear your evening and spend some time reading up on it.  Fascinating!  I have had the privilege of attending a couple of conferences/workshops held by many of Harvard's PZ researchers and my school has begun implementing visible thinking practices into our classrooms.  One of my favorite resources is Ritchhart, Church, and Morrison's Making Thinking Visible: How to Promote Engagement, Understanding, and Independence for All Learners.

This book is full of thinking routines that are easy to implement and applicable to all ages of learners.  For the last few months of the school year, my colleagues and I experimented with a routine each week and then met on Friday mornings before school to discuss our experiences.  This was SO helpful to know that teachers throughout the building were experimenting with the same routine in their classrooms and might be facing the same challenges, successes, etc. that I was dealing with.  Having these weekly meetings held me accountable for trying these routines and allowed me the chance to get my feet wet with them.  :)

Here is an example of a Chalk Talk my students did a few weeks ago on plants.
Chalk Talk is a thinking routine that calls for students to communicate through writing- without spoken words.  I began by writing the parts of a plant on chart paper.  My students rotated through the charts with a marker and were asked to write down their thoughts, questions, etc.  In the beginning, students were writing down facts such as "We eat seeds."  Then, students began to extend on previous students' writing by adding to their thoughts such as "like pumpkin seeds."  Then someone else would come along and take it further such as "Are beans seeds?"  We ended up with a chart full of facts, arrows, questions, answers to questions, etc.  I love how the students took responsibility for their thinking and understanding as well as the thinking and understanding of their classmates.

P.S.- I've started a Pinterest Board for ideas that go along with this book and thinking routines.  Make sure to check it out and follow it {here}!  I've pinned some great YouTube videos of some of the PZ Researchers that are definitely worth checking out.

I am linking up with Deanna Jump's Book Talk Tuesday because I think Making Thinking Visible is definitely worth the read especially if you are looking for some ways to help your students think outside of the box.  Happy reading! :)

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Confessions and a Sight Word Game Freebie

Hello!  It's me…Mary…I am alive and well.  :)  It has been a LONG time since I had a spare moment to write a post!  In the last few months I have wrapped up another year of teaching, bought and moved to a new house, completed grad school, celebrated a birthday and preschool graduation with my little one, and loads of things in between.  I am officially on summer break and SO ready to get back into the swing of blogging and creating things!

I will be attempting to prepare my daughter for kindergarten this summer (Did I mention I am a little nervous about my child being in the classroom next door?).  I have already begun making activities to keep us occupied this summer.  Today we practiced a few sight words.  Here is a 4-in-a-Row game I put together as a fun review for tomorrow.  I plan to use it in the classroom this fall as well!

Click on the image or {here} to download it for your own children or students.

I will be back soon!