Tuesday, October 1, 2019

John's Journal: 3 Halloween Books

Guest Post: John is a K-5 Media Specialist, history buff, author, and my oh-so-sweet husband. He'll post book reviews/finds here every so often.

When the calendar turned from September to October, the focus for kids like me was centered on the festivities that would take place four weeks ahead – Halloween! Costumes, candy, and decorations: the countdown was on!

Next to Christmas, the array of Halloween books are plentiful. There are some classic go-to titles and of course, Halloween wouldn't be the same without an annual viewing of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. With that in mind, why not visit an old ghoulish Halloween favorite and add two newer titles and the Halloween read-aloud season just might be better than getting a large size candy bar in the trick or treat bag!

Annie Was Warned by Jarrett Krosoczka – A terrific and fun read aloud. Annie is smart and brave and isn’t scared of anything – why? Because she was born on Halloween! She is told of a spooky old mansion across town and warned not to go there on Halloween by family members who “dare” her not to go (knowing that she certainly will). I won’t give the ending away, but it always gets a scream – then lots of laughs from younger students. The text is sparse, but effective, and the illustrations - rich contrasting colors (lots of purples, deep blues, and bright yellows and whites) and a fold-out page to conclude the story add to the fun.  A true Halloween book.  One of my "musts" each year.

Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Peter Brown .  Although not an official Halloween book, it is one of my all-time favorite read alouds – a perfectly paced and wonderfully illustrated book details the plight of Jasper Rabbit who loved to eat the carrots from a local field so much – (for breakfast, lunch, dinner – and even a snack) that one day … the carrots started following him… - or is it in his imagination? This book is a great read aloud for all ages – and even adults who might truly appreciate Peter Brown’s artwork which is framed like an old TV screen and uses muted black and white tones along sharp traces of bright orange to reflect connections to noir 50’s sci-fi films and of course, the Twilight Zone.  Although a modern classic already, I'm still constantly surprised on how many kids and teachers still haven't read it!  Of course, the sequel, A Creepy Pair of Underwear, is just as fun and perfect for the holiday, too.

Who can resist a Creepy Underwear illustration?

Snack Attack by Terry Border: I’ve found calendar artist Terry Border’s books dealing with common childrens’ foods – Peanut Butter and Cupcake, Milk Goes to School,  very clever and fun to read. Students love the sculptures/artwork that do indeed look real enough to eat. My students ask for them constantly. When this new Halloween edition was released, I had to get a copy and am looking forward to making it a part of my Halloween lessons. I quickly found out that this one is very fun as well. With a nod to Creepy Carrots. we find that a “monster kid” loves to eat a great deal of after-school snacks – that is until the snacks decide to do something about it – well, it doesn’t go quite as expected. Students will really love both the play on words and the super-cool sculptures that are just spooky enough to be fun.  Not a "true"
Halloween book but one that fits in perfectly.


Monday, September 30, 2019

An Owl Kept Me Up Last Night...

Since I couldn't sleep with the constant, "Whoooo,"  I thought of a quick craft project to go along with the Word Families product I've been wanting to make...

If I can't sleep tonight, you'll know by my next product!  :)

Enjoy your day!

Saturday, September 28, 2019

A Simple Writing Workshop Tip

BECAUSE is a magic word in Writing Workshop.  Only 3 weeks into Writing Workshop and my First Graders are already adding so many details to their stories with just this simple word.


It's such a special word to us that we often sing it (Hold bent arms out low...deep voice...BEEEEEEEEE (straighten arms and lift to sky) high pitched voice...CAUSSSSSSSEEEEE!"

You get the idea!  When they share their stories, you hear this singing and it's the cutest thing ever!  They sing.  I gush at their amazing details.  We're a happy bunch!

I also have them highlight the word because it motivates them to actually use the word.  (She didn't yet highlight in pic.)  Side Note:  What exactly is the fascination with Firsties and highlighters?)

A small tip. But a good one, that is so easy (and fun!) to implement.

Next week, I add a magic phrase...can you guess what it is?  I bet you can!

Here are some of my older writing posts if interested...

Have a great day!

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Some Fun Freebies I Found on TpT

There isn't a day (or two!) that goes by that I don't find something to download for free from TpT.  Here are some recent finds for BTS.  Click store name (I don't know any of these sellers) or picture to take you to the product shown.  Remember: ALL FREE.

Here's a lovely sign from a new seller, Array of Sunshine.  It prints so well and I put it on black paper.

From Polka Dots Please, these cute Photo Booth Props.  I'm going to use these on Twitter with the kids.  So cute!  (Love the ribbon but I'm just having kids hold them.)

Photo Booth Signs

Pre-K Tweets offers this freebie.  I love it!  I used the one with the thick black lines. Looks great!

Pineapple Posters

Planning in PJs gave us this awesome freebie!  Easy to do and a keepsake if you glue both on long paper and fold in half.  A simple way to show a ton of growth.  One of those, "Why didn't I think of that?" moments here!

First and Last Day of First Grade FREEBIE Self Portrait and Name

Barbara Kilburn offers this perfect activity for the first day of school

First Day Feelings Graph {FREE}

This coloring sheet from Jessica Ellis is perfect for the first day.  I'll have it on their desks for them to color as we're getting settled.

Back to School coloring page

Or maybe this coloring sheet, from Katherine M. Norris is more your style:

Superhero First Day of School Coloring Activity

Great finds, huh?  I hope you can use some of them.  If looking for more, I did a recent post on some freebies in my store.  Maybe you'll find something helpful there, too.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Fun Morning Meeting Greeting or Activity

I can only take credit for the second verse here! :)

I bring in a shortish candlestick holder with about a 3 inch candle in it.  I have the words on a chart.  I usually shout out the first name so they know who the chosen child is and they all chime in.  They freestyle it for the first two lines.  After last name, child says hello in any language they want.

Since I use this as a greeting, all kids' names are called.  GREAT for the beginning of the year when everyone is trying to remember names.


Tuesday, August 20, 2019

September Crowns

My kids love making and wearing crowns.  Do yours?  I needed a few so I made them and put them in my TpT store.  (Less than $2 today with the one day sale going on.) Two I needed most?  Dot Day and World Peace Day which I like to celebrate each year on September 21st.  (Check out cool free App for Dot Day in link.)

Have a great day!

Monday, August 19, 2019

Who Has the Honey? (MM Activity/Game)

My principal at my old school showed me this game about 20 years ago.  My kids loved it then and they love it now.  It's a short and fun morning meeting activity that produces lots of giggles.  I usually play 3-5 rounds at the meeting.

Who Has the Honey?

1. Everyone sits in a circle except one child who is the Honeybee.

2. Honeybee closes eyes while you give one child a jar of honey to hide behind back.  (I have modified this to a laminated picture of a honey jar that child sits on to hide.)

3. Once hidden, the honeybee turns around while the rest of circle chants:

Busy Bee, Busy Bee, where's your honey?
Someone took it and that's not funny!
Listen to the buzz, the buzz of bees!
Find the honey and we'll feel sunny!

Everyone EXCEPT the child with the honey, starts buzzing really loud like a bee.  The honey holder PRETENDS to make the buzzing bee sound but is silent.

The honeybee goes around listening to each child and identifies the child who isn't buzzing.  Then that child becomes the honeybee.

Grab these certificates (and the honey picture if you don't want to hide a sticky jar) if you feel it would help generate conversation at home.


Monday, August 12, 2019

The Urge to Purge

John and I moved into our house almost twenty years with two kids.  We have a very large unfinished basement that can hold a heck of a lot of JUNK!  Furniture that's still good but isn't wanted anymore? "Let's store it in the basement."  All the kids sports equipment that they wanted "just in case?"  "Let's store it in the basement."  Books that couldn't possibly fit onto our shelves?  "Let's store them in the basement." The wedding gifts like a glass swan that you never used but felt guilted into keeping? Yep. The basement.  Here's one of those gems:

You get the idea.

After cleaning out my parents house with 50 years of accumulation over the past year, I had a sudden urge to purge my house..  The truth is, while fun to look at ALL the stuff my parents left behind, it has been overwhelming to sort through it all.  Lots of junk, lots of sentimental items, ALL needed to be dealt with. It was hard.  Emotional.  It made me realize I had to purge NOW.

Don't get me wrong, we've bagged unwanted clothes before and gave away to others.  But this summer, we had the VA truck come three times with 20+ boxes each time left for pickup.  But this time, everything that we hadn't touched or felt hasn't touched us, (Yes, we referred to it Marie Kondo style, "Bring us joy!") was put out.  That included almost brand new bikes, TONS of Lenox china, silver candle holders (a lot of them), perfectly kept games, RAZOR Scooters, anything with a tag still on it, complete sets of nice dishes, etc.  I bet 35% was brand new stuff never used.  Shame on us.

We had rented a dumpster about ten years ago but you'd never know it.  We are not hoarders.  Honest.  We just accumulated way too much stuff.  Things we bought, were given, emotionally attached to (like a crib which could never meet today's standards) or, in John's case, won in a contest.  Like the canoe grill.  Really???  (For the record, john has won 5 grills to date!  Two gas.)

So what about the junk? The huge landscaping slabs of slate that were dangerous to have around? My daughters desk from childhood that really wasn't very stable and missing a side?  The 1990 over-the-top computer desk that was still up but not used in 20 years and was an eyesore?   (With old computer tower still in it?)  Broken down and tossed in one of these:

*Electronics brought to recycling

We're still not done.  Our goal is to conquer holiday directions and we are confident we can get rid of at least 35% which hasn't been used, broken, or just doesn't bring us joy.

Oh, one last thing.  When purging, you do find some treasures that may not be worth anything but make your heart swell.  I will keep those to myself but they involve my parents as well as my own family treasures that resurfaced and made my heart burst.  But here is one to share that is neat from my parents' house.  There was only a handful of stuff left on the dining room table to look through...again.  "If no one wants anything, it will go in the dumpster.)  What was left was really random, meaningless things.  Including a postcard type picture that I never bothered to pick up.  As my brother left the house, he picked it up and got a surprise.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

BTS Sale! (Freebies!)

I know a lot of you are heading back to school this month...I feel like my vacation just started!  (I have about 3.5 weeks left!)  Hopefully, some of these freebies will help you out!  I can't live without my poems for The Daily Five, Choral Reading, Fluency Practice, Buddy Reading, and Poetry Binders. WHEW!  (The bundle will be on sale this week but these September themed ones are a great way to start off!)  


 My must for every first day of school: Magic Play-Doh!  If you've never done it, give it a try!  The kids always say it's one of their favorite memories.

I love Make-A-Word activities and they really come in handy for Daily 5 and to see who is APPLYING the sound/letter combinations we've learned.  This Sept/Oct. packet is yours for free!  And who can't use more story problems?  But these are SIMPLE ones!  Enjoy!

FREEBIE: Word Wizard (September/October)  First Step Story Problems: Addition to 10 FREEBIE! (Farm Theme)
Hip Strips are new and this Freebie is great for September if in K/1.  I am SO EXCITED about this fun and unique product that I just created. 
Battle of the Vowels is used for an activity during Morning Meeting.  Would be a great Grade 2 activity to start off year with for a review.
Hip Strips!  (MATH FREEBIE) Who Knew Sentence Strips Could Be So Cool? Battle of the Vowels

Recording Sheets for Apps: FREEBIE! 
 FREEBIE: Squiggle Writing Sample: Drawing + Writing = Creativity

One of my favorite books on tolerance.  If you haven't read The Sandwich Swap, put it on your list.  LOVE IT!  (YouTube Readings as well!)

Book It: Retell It, Write It, Make It! (The Sandwich Swap)

Here are some calendar pieces you can use in math center as well.

Pirate Duckies Theme Calendar Set: English and Spanish included!
And although not free, here are a few new products that could make your life easier. 
They are on sale today and tomorrow August 6-7 in my TpT store!

Hip Strips!  (MATH) Who Knew Sentence Strips Could Be So Cool? Hip Strips!  (ELA) Who Knew Sentence Strips Could Be So Cool?
 And the BUNDLE which, during the sale, is a crazy good deal!

BUNDLED Tic-Tac-Show What You Know Reading Workshop Editable Program

(This is my product that I'm most proud of!  If you aren't happy with your management of 
your Reading Workshop or need to structure it differently, you may want to check this out.  There are TWO versions but this has everything for a $66 savings!

Practice Makes Perfect: Friends of Ten
My Friends of Ten is brand new.  Check out full preview!
Classroom Helpers: Cool Cats
I've never been one to have had an effective Job Board because I forgot to change jobs.
This system is super easy and everyone is happy!  Read about it here!
Picture Book Favorites: After the Fall, Creepy Pair of Underwear, Mother Bruce
Three of my favorites all in one place!  Have you read them all?  If not, please check them out at
the library today!  You can thank me later!
Bundled Open-Ended Math Questions for Journals or Do-Nows (First/Second Grade)
And my most popular product can be read by clicking pic above.  Honestly, the sale is a perfect time to purchase this.  Be sure to look at the feedback! 
Have a GREAT school year!