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Friday, July 5, 2024

Ah, Summer! You'll Flip-Flop Over These Resources!

Happy Summer!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Fourth of July and is enjoying a well-deserved, relaxing summer break. For those of you who are teaching summer school, who are homeschooling, or who teach at a year-round school, I wanted to share some helpful summer resources. 

Here's just one sample of the poetry-based activities you'll find in this resource. You'll be glad you checked it out!

an alliterative poem about hot summer days

Lesson Plan for Writing an Alliterative Poem

You'll find the rest of this activity, as well as 8 more student-friendly summer-themed poems and activities in this easy-to-use resource. It will make your summer teaching easy-breezy!

Now for a FREEBIE!

Need a resource that will work year-round? Here's a Freebie that you can use to help your students celebrate inside traits - Selfie Poem and Activities. This free resource includes an original poem and writing activities that encourage students to look beyond physical appearance. After you download it and use it with your students, don't forget to leave feedback to let me know how it was received. :)

Here's the poem you'll share with students:

I hope you find these resources helpful. If you need more fun, student-centered resources and teaching tips, make sure you follow my blog and take a moment to visit my store!

Until next time,

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Progressive Poem 2023 - Day 27

 Happy Poetry Month!

I love celebrating my favorite writing genre all month long!  This year, my friend, Janet Fagal invited me to join with some wonderful Poetry Friday participants to create a progressive poem. There are 30 poets contributing to this community poem. Each poet adds one line to the poem for each day of April. This tradition was started by Irene Latham back in 2012. Margaret Simon took over as host in 2020. 

I'm absolutely inspired and I can't wait to introduce the idea of a progressive poem to my students. This will make for a wonderful class project. I'm planning to have each of my students craft a single line. We'll choose the topic together, then sign up to add a line. I can't wait to see what we create. 

Just as I can't wait to see where this lovely poem leads us.

I've been visiting each blog and watching in fascination as each poet put his/her stamp on the poem. The collective imagination of some very talented poets has created a lovely poem so far. I've been handed the gift of the most recent line by Patricia. I'm honored to add mine (in blue). 


Suddenly everything fell into place
like raindrops hitting soil and sinking in. 

When morning first poked me, I’d wished it away
my mind in the mist, muddled, confused. 

Was this a dream or reality, rousing my response?
The sun surged, urging me to join in its rising, 

Rising like a crystal ball reflecting on morning dew.
I jumped out of bed, ready to explore the day. 

My feet pull me outside and into the garden
Where lilies and bees weave…but wait! What’s that? 

A bevy of bunnies jart and dart and play in the clover.
A dog barks and flash, the bunderstorm is over. 

I breathe-brave, quiet. Like a seed,
as the day, foretold in my dream, ventured upon me. 

Sunbeams guided me to the gate overgrown with wisteria
where I spotted the note tied to the gate. 

As I reached the gnarled gate, pollen floated like fairy dust into my face. Aaah Choo!
Enter, if you must. We’ve been waiting for you.

Not giving the curious note a thought, I pushed the gate open and ran through.
Stopped in my tracks, eyes wide in awe- can this really be true?

Huge mushrooms for tables, vines twined into chairs,
a flutter of fairies filled flowery teawares.

With glazed nut cakes and apple blossom tea,
I heard soft whispers from behind a tree. Oh my! They had been “waiting for me!”

Still brave, but cautious I waited for them.
Forested friends filled the glade. “You’ve arrived! Let the reverie begin!”

I laughed as my bare feet danced across the dew-soaked grass.


So that's it. Only a few more lines to go. I'm handing it off to Karin at her Still in Awe blog. Here's the full list of all the contributing poets and their blogs. 

Friday, April 15, 2022

Teaching Poetry With Parts of Speech

Teaching Poetry With Parts of Speech

 I was sitting outside today enjoying the lovely Spring weather after a week of rain (and even a little snow last weekend). It inspired a poem and a teaching idea that I thought I'd share.

This is a great time of year to get your students outside. There are so many ideas to be found in the newness of spring! It's also a great time to write some poetry - Happy Poetry Month! Finally, as state testing season is upon us, you might want an easy and fun way to review parts of speech.

Getting Ready

Start by having your students make a three-column chart. Label the columns, Nouns, Verbs, and Adjectives (or distribute this downloadable printable). Review the parts of speech and make sure your students understand the differences between them.

Head Outside

Find a nice area where all students can sit outside your school building. You might want to let them know in advance to bring in a towel or mat to sit on that day. Spend a short time reviewing using the five senses for observation. Bring their attention to some of the things they can see, hear, smell, and touch. (Remind them that it's not a good idea to taste anything!)

Record Observations

Encourage students to record their observations by jotting down nouns, verbs, and adjectives on their three-column charts. Ask them to make sure they are recording what they can see, hear, smell, and feel.

Read Mentor Poems

This step can come before, during, and/or after the observation activity. A few of the poems I love to share are Langston Hughes' April Rain Song, Mary Howitt's The Voice of Spring, Diane Murray's Silly Tilly's Garden, George Cooper's The Beautiful Spring, and Nature's Way by Heidi Campbell. I recommend sharing a variety of poems, both rhyming and non-rhyming, so that students understand that poetry is not just one thing.  

Here's the poem I wrote today:

Feel free to share it with your students.


Ask your students to use the words from their three-column chart to compose a poem about Spring. Encourage creativity. Remind them that poems can rhyme, but do not have to. If you've introduced them to different forms of poetry (Haiku, Cinquain, Free-verse, Acrostic, etc.), encourage them to choose a form they feel comfortable with, or conversely, encourage them to step out of their comfort zones. You know your class best, so choose the best way to get them to write. 


Tell students that the best poems are revised many times. Encourage the use of a thesaurus, rhyming dictionary, or other resources. Ask students to read their poems out loud to themselves and others to find errors in rhythm or syntax. Let students know that the process of writing poems can and should be messy.

Publish and Share

Allow time for students to share their poems, either by publishing and displaying or by sharing out loud. Nothing works better to encourage students to write more poetry!

I hope you and your students enjoy this activity!

If you would like to use more poetry in the classroom, check out my Spring Poems and Activities. It's available in my TpT store.

Have a glorious Spring!


Monday, May 31, 2021

How to Host a Summer Book Exchange Event in 10 Easy Steps


Collage of Pictures from Summer Book Exchange Event

It's hard to get kids excited about reading when summer vacation promises lots of time with friends, family vacations, and outdoor fun. And of course, we want them to do all those fun things during summer break. We just want them to spend time reading, too!

One of the best ways I've found to get my students excited about reading over the summer is to give them access to lots of books they want to read. A Summer Book Exchange Event does just that.

Hosting a Summer Book Exchange Event is a fun and effective way to encourage students to read over the summer. 

Hosting a Summer Book Exchange event in 10 Easy Steps:

1) Establish and schedule a date, time, and location for the exchange. We held the event in our school media center during the last week of school.

2) Recruit teachers, staff members, and volunteers to plan and run the event. Our grade-level team spearheaded the planning and recruited volunteer parents to help on the day of the event. 

3) Get the word out. We created a flyer to send home asking students to donate unwanted books in good condition.

Picture of flyer giving details of Summer Book Exchange Event.

4) Involve your students in the event. We had our students cover and decorate donation boxes to place in common areas and in the community. 

Picture of Donation box decorated by students which reads "Donate old Books"
5) Involve the community. Ask small businesses, churches, or community centers if you can place a flyer and donation box at their location. Arrange to pick up donations in a timely manner. Don't forget to have students write thank you letters to send out after the event. 

6) Organize and count donated books as they come in. Parents and teachers worked together on this.

7) Determine the number of books each student will be able to take home. After the collection window closed, we tallied the total number of books donated. We divided that number by the number of students in our grade level. Each student was able to choose several books to take home. *Please note that all students were able to take home books, whether they had donated to the exchange or not. 

8) Organize and display the books for easy browsing. We used tables, but you could also use shelves, library carts, baskets, or even the floor to display books. 

9) Allow students ample time to browse. Teachers and volunteers should assist as needed. We allowed students to browse in shifts. Smaller groups of students led to fewer conflicts and a little less chaos. 

Students browsing for books at Summer Book Exchange Event.

10) Encourage students to read their new books over the summer! 

Or, immediately as the students in the picture below did. 😀

Students reading books

If you are a little bit hesitant about planning a large event, start small. My first book exchange event involved just my students. Even if students are able to take home just 1 or 2 "new" books to read, that may be more than they had before. Just encouraging students to bring in and trade old favorites sends a powerful message about the fun (and importance) of reading. I hope you will give it a try.

If you are short on time or don't know where to begin, I've done a lot of the work for you! My resource, Editable Summer Book Exchange Suggestions, Flyers, and Letters has everything you need to get started with planning your own event. It's available in my TpT store

Picture of TpT resource cover: Editable Summer Book Exchange

Happy Reading!

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Keeping Kids Happy and Learning During Social Isolation

I said goodbye to my class on what we thought was a normal Thursday afternoon. Later that evening, we got the message that schools would close one day early for spring break to allow for cleaning and sanitation due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Sadly, Covid-19 has now caused our schools to be closed until at least April 24th. I miss the kids in my third grade class and I worry about them during this unprecedented global crisis. This crisis is nerve-wracking for adults and can be even more stressful for children. 

With that concern on my mind, I've been sharing ideas for fun family-centered activities on my Instagram account. Here is a round up of some of the ideas I've shared. 

Family Game Nights

Family game nights are a great way to have some fun and keep kids learning at the same time. In this picture from December, my great-niece(age 4) and my great-nephew were playing Shut the Box. It’s a great game for little ones to practice counting, number sense, and simple addition. For older students, Monopoly, Rummy, Yahtzee, or Scrabble would all make for a fun family game night. Best of all, no technology is allowed!

Get Outside! 

Take a nature walk. Encourage your children to act like scientists. Have kids bring a camera and/or a journal to record their observations. Point out signs of backyard wildlife. Look up information online about the things you see.

Or you can create a Springtime Scavenger Hunt. 

You don’t need a commercially produced form to go on a scavenger hunt with your kids (although there are many available online). Before going for a walk, sit down together and make a list of things people might see in the springtime. Then, grab a camera or a journal and see how many of those things you can find on your nature walk! Activities like this encourage careful observation, categorizing, and a growing knowledge of the natural world. You can easily incorporate art, writing, reading, and math activities, too. Ask kids to draw or create one of the things they saw. Ask them to write a story or poem about the their walk. Encourage them to ask questions and then research the answers by reading non-fiction books online. Before going on the hunt, assign numbers to each item (10 yellow flowers, 15 trees with green leaves, etc) so they can practice counting, using tally marks, or adding numbers. This is a great learning activity that the whole family can enjoy! 

Try Something New!

Being stuck at home is a good time to try something new. For me, that was making bread! It didn't turn out exactly like the recipe, but I think it was a pretty good first attempt! It looked good and it tasted pretty good, too! There's nothing like warm, fresh bread with butter to satisfy a need for comfort food.

Go for a Drive

Remember when people used to go for “Sunday drives?” It’s a good time to revive that tradition. Take your kids on an exploration while staying safely isolated in the car. Make sure to keep the DVD player turned off and put away all phones. Encourage little ones to find letters or words on billboards and signs. Play the license plate game (how many states can you find?) or the alphabet game (Find words in alphabetical order on signs - who can get from A-Z the quickest?) Go down roads you’ve never traveled before just to see what’s there. Point out livestock or signs of spring. Or, just talk and enjoy each other’s company.

Start a Journal

Writing in a journal can be a healthy outlet for you or your children during times of stress. It’s a great place to express emotions or figure things out. It’s also a creative outlet! Journals can be a great place to brainstorm ideas, to write poetry, to sketch pictures, or to outline a novel. You’ll enjoy surprised at how much better you’ll feel after journaling!

As my friend Crystal at Primary on the Prowl pointed out, "Also journals that are kept now will be considered primary sources in the future!" Can you imagine your journal informing historians 20, 50, even 100 years from now? It's mind-boggling!

Begin a Family Read-aloud

This is a good time to start a new tradition - the family read aloud! Reading together provides not only a shared experience, but a sense of comfort and escape from current troubles. There’s also ample opportunity for conversations that strengthen reading comprehension! Your child will benefit from listening to fluent reading, making connections, predicting upcoming events, evaluating character choices, and visualizing settings or events. That’s a lot of learning for just ten to thirty minutes a day!

Two More Things

I'm trying to do my part to help. With that in mind, I've recently posted two new freebies in my Teachers pay Teachers store.

The first one contains more ideas for family activities during this crisis (or for any time kids are out of school). You can download your Family Friendly Activity Calendar by clicking here

My other freebie is about helping children stay mentally healthy. I wrote this poem and added some conversation starters/writing activities so adults can help kids process their feelings and develop coping strategies during this scary time. You can download The World Can Be So Scary here

I hope everyone stays healthy and safe. Keep busy and stay positive! We're all in this together.

Until next time, 

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Veteran teachers Share 11 Awesome First Day Read-Alouds

As another school year gets underway, many of us are squeezing in a few last vacation days before heading in to set up this year's classroom. Some of us are trying to make sense of chaos as we get ready for Meet the Teacher Day. And some of us already have classrooms full of kids. With that in mind, I asked some veteran teachers to share their favorite first-day read-alouds. I got some great responses and I'm happy to pass them along.

Disclaimer- this post contains affiliate links which means that I earn a small amount when you make purchases (at no extra cost to you). However, my promise to you is that I am only sharing my honest opinions and I will never promote something I do not believe in.

Let's start with my new favorite first day book. 

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson is a wonderful book about how we all feel like outsiders until we begin to share our stories. Once we are brave enough to do that, we discover that we are not so different after all. I'm looking forward to sharing it with my third graders this year as we build a classroom community where individual differences are appreciated, respected, and valued. 

Veteran teachers Becky from Overheard in Kindergarten, Crystal from Primary on the Prowl, and Brianna Krebs rave about First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg. Crystal even wrote a blog post about how she makes Jitter Juice with her class. Such a fun way to start the year! Brianna says, "Always a "go to" for me! Teaches my kiddos that their teacher was just as "nervous" for the first day of school as they were!"

Becky's second recommendation is Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten. She says, "I like to tell the class what I did to get ready for kindergarten. Then, have students practice taking turns to speak and share what they did to get ready for kindergarten."

Becky's third recommendation is a new favorite, The Pigeon HAS to Go to School by Mo Willems.

Kelli from Kelli C's First Grade recommends two books. The first is The Secret Shortcut by Mark Teague.

 Kelli's second pick is Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann. "They talk about safety tips at schools.. we use this to open up a discussion for our classroom rules and we talk about making the classroom a safe place."

Yvonne from Journeyed Transformations recommends You're Finally Here! by Mélanie Watt. She pairs the book with some fun activities created by Linda Kamp.

Kayla from K's Classroom Kreations loves to use the book, Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes with her first grade class. 

Literary Sherri recommends The Teacher from the Black Lagoon by Mike Thaler. "It makes students laugh and puts them at ease. :)"

For our final recommendation, veteran teacher Pat McFadyen says, "As a math/science teacher, I loved reading Math Curse the first day! It's funny and I could share my love of math humor!" What a great way to help students see that learning math is fun!

What are your favorite first day read alouds? Post them in the comments below.

Have an awesome school year!