Saturday 28 December 2013

Free Story Plan

Here's a story plan that includes a picture mat with picture tiles for your budding writers. They can use them for oral exercises, writing or for drawing their ideas. Included is a storyboard to promote linkages between picture and text. This resource only contains Who? and Where? picture tiles. The rest of the story is up to your students. Click HERE for further details.

Tuesday 24 December 2013

Christmas Around The World

It's Christmas Eve here in Trinidad and Tobago as it is in many  parts of the world. In my country Christmas is celebrated similar to most other countries but our Parang and Soca Parang music adds lots of flavor. Our parang festivals start as early as September when parang bands travel around the island performing at different venues. I love listening to parang!

Classic Christmas songs by  Nat King Cole and Andy Williams are another of my favorites. As a teacher I often find myself searching for audio and videos of the oldies to share with my students. This year my class enjoyed singing "Feliz Navidad" by Jose Feliciano. We had a blast!

Christmas is celebrated differently in many parts of the world. It is very interesting to see how the Christmas Story is portrayed in varying degrees yet so so similar. I found a very interesting youtube video that gives a snippet view of how Christmas is celebrated around the world. Click on the video below to check it out.

Merry Christmas everybody!

Saturday 21 December 2013

Benefits of Morning Messages

 I always need to start my day on a positive note so that both my students and I stay focused and excited about learning. I often welcome them verbally as they enter the classroom and then delve into the day's formal activities. It sounds boring, doesn't it? With a class of five year olds this needs some spirit, some vibrance and of course some positivity. This is why I am going to use a different approach by using morning messages. A morning message to your students is  a great way to start the day!So I guess I will need to explore the benefits of it to convince you to do likewise.
So here's what I found out!

What is a Morning Message?
Simply put, a morning message is just that, a morning message. It is a message written by the teacher for the class to read. It usually highlights some aspect of learning for the day, or it can be a way to reinforce what learning took place the previous day. It is a wonderful way of welcoming students as it utilizes many of their literacy skills. At the lowest level the morning messages can be a series of pictures with familiar words, or a casual letter for the older students. Below are a few examples for you. Click the picture below to go straight to pinterest.

 What are the Benefits of Morning Messages?
There are numerous benefits to be derived from its use, however, the most significant ones are:
  • It reinforces literacy and other learning skills
  • It encourages a sense of collective responsibility for learning
  • It helps ALL students to focus on learning

Morning Message Sites for further reading
For a more indepth muse please check out the sites below.
Mrs Nelson's Classroom 
Mrs Jones Classroom 
Hubbard's CupboardPre-K Pages 


Sunday 15 December 2013

Base Words vs Root Words

Prefixes, Suffixes, Affixes

In my experience over the years I have come across some terms which have similar yet totally different meanings. It is sometimes so easy to interchange these terms, but, as teachers we need to understand what we teach before we get down to teaching it. One such dilemma is the use of the terms 'base word' and 'root word'. Now don't get me wrong here, it's all the best that we are able to tell the difference, especially in the teaching of the higher grades. However, for the younger kids it may not be all that important to distinguish.

A base word refers to the part of a word that is an actual word that can stand alone. Prefixes and suffixes were added to them. The root of a word refers to that part of the base word that comes from another language. These cannot stand alone. As a matter of fact, the knowledge of the root of a word can help older kids with Spelling and Vocabulary.

Take a look at the visual below for an explanation using the word 'transport'.

If you are interested in some very handy posters and other materials to teach Base words and Root words check out this resource below.

Sunday 1 December 2013

Learning With LeapFrog

Nothing is more astounding than to get a hold of some fantastic teaching tech devices for kids. As teachers we may not be able to afford them for our students, but we wish that our parents would invest in the best for their kids . I know that our parents are organizing their Christmas wishlists  for their kids so I thought that I might offer a few educational options from LeapFrog which would make our work easier. Below are some educational toys that would keep our kids busy and learning during the holidays.

Click on the pictures for further details.

LeapFrog Learn To Write (3 to 6 years)

LeapFrog LeapPad2 Power Learning Tablet (3 to 9 years)

LeapFrog LeapPad2 Power Learning Tablet (3 to 9 years)

LeapFrog LeapReader Reading and Writing System (4 to 8 years)

Saturday 30 November 2013

Teachers Pay Teachers Cyber Sale 

 It's that time of year when you gather all my TPT resources into your shopping cart then wait, wait, wait!
 "Wait for what?" I hear! Well you wait till Cyber Monday December 2nd and Tuesday December 3rd to get BIG savings! You get up to 28% off all the contents in your cart when you enter the promo code CYBER at checkout. So go ahead and start shopping for your year-round resources for your teaching needs.

Just click on the link below to go directly to my best selling products of all times!

Don't forget to use the promo code CYBER at checkout!
Graphics Courtesy Whimsy Workshop

Wednesday 20 November 2013

Letter Reversals 'b' and 'd' 

Are your kids constantly making the mistake of writing 'b' for 'd' and vice versa? Are you in need of some support or mnemonics to bring some clarity for them? Well, here's a set of printables that would assist you and your kiddos. Click HERE for more details!

Sunday 10 November 2013

2D and 3D Posters for Your Kindergarten Classroom
This is a fantastic set of posters, mini books and  mats for use in the teaching of the properties and attributes of 2D and 3Dshapes to a kindergarten class. It is aligned to the Common Core Standards stated below.


This 86 page set contains posters for the following 2D and 3D shapes:-

2D Shapes
Rectangle/Oblong (both are included)
-Rhombus/diamond (both are included)

3D Shapes
-Pentagonal prism
-Hexagonal prism
-Pentagonal pyramid
-Square based pyramid
-Rectangular prism/Cuboid (both are included)
-Triangular based prism

Also included in this set are:-
-position word cards
- 4 assessment sheets,
-2 mini books
-10 Build-a-shape mats
-1 Build-a-shape recording template
-general posters for groups of shapes e.g. rectangles, cones, cubes, cylinders, etc.

Click HERE for further details!

Friday 1 November 2013

The Power of The Red Ink Pen

So is it ok to use red ink to mark your students' work? Does the color red place a negative meaning in the minds of our students? Well, I am sure you know that it was really difficult to find a clear cut answer to these questions. I found out that the whole idea is debatable and situational for the most. However, I want to share with you two ideas that I found that are in support of the use of other colors other than red. In a book entitled 'The New Teacher's Toolbox' written by Scott M. Mandel new teachers are urged to leave the red pens alone! Mandel explained...

"In American society, and in most societies, red is considered a negative color. In our society, it is used on stop signs and lights, warning labels, poison, to indicate the devil, and so forth. If you see a red light, you naturally hesitate. We are conditioned to view the color red as something negative, or at least prohibitive.
A paper that is handed back full of red marks conveys to the student, often subconsciously, that there is something wrong with him or her intellectually. this can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy, with the student lowering his or her own expectations and subsequent work quality."

Mandel also added that the use of more positive colors such as green or blue gives the child the sense that everything is alright, just like the green color at the traffic lights  which serves to guide drivers towards their destinations.

I have thought about it many times as I reflect on my own practice and I do believe that the color red does bring up a wall of self-consciousness, especially if we're talking about red Xs as opposed to red ticks. I encourage you to research this idea yourself and you can share your thoughts in the comments below.

You may be interested in these articles:

 Why are Some Teachers Prohibited from Grading in Red Ink?

Throw That Red Pen Away!

Nothing Wrong With a Red Pen!

Monday 21 October 2013

The First Thanksgiving Story For Little Kids

This bright and colorful book would be a great addition to your literacy centers and a fantastic aid for your Social Studies lessons. It depicts the story of the First Thanksgiving through graphics that are indeed child-friendly. This resource was created to help young children get the true meaning of Thanksgiving and is not to be used to replace sound teaching.

Click HERE for details!

Monday 14 October 2013

Curriculum Bundle

Do you get all excited when you see teaching 'BUNDLES' available for purchase? Do you anticipate a pack full of super fabulous resources that make you work so much easier? Well here's an awesome set of teaching resources bundled especially for your classroom!  

Very excited to be a part of the bundle with Educents!  I know you will love my ....

There are 35 other products in our bundle to get your kids learning!  Literacy, math, science, social studies, and so much more!   Hop along to see all the goodies you will get!  

Fancy Free in Fourth

But that's not all!   I am giving you a chance to Pin It to Win It. You can win my Idiomatics Matching Card Activity.  Pin any image from my blog and enter below to win!

A Teacher' Idea Giveaway

The deal won't last long so head over now!

Saturday 12 October 2013

Sunday 6 October 2013

Attention Getting Signals

Getting and keeping your students' attention is not easy. As a matter of fact, it's a craft! I have tried the countdowns, Give Me 5s and the "I'm going to tell you a secret!" and they do not always work! I am sure there are a lot more that you have tried that have worked for you and you are willing to share them in the comments below.

So I needed some ideas and I found some great ideas on  The Teaching Channel. Here are some real eye-openers to get your students' attention.

Standing in One Spot


Not Saying A Word!

Drumming Up Attention


Secret Word

Friday 27 September 2013

What are Interactive Read-Alouds?

"Research has demonstrated that the most effective read-alouds are those where children are actively involved asking and answering questions and making predictions, rather than passively listening. " (Lea M. McGee and Judith Schickedanz )

I recently attended a workshop that promoted this idea of interactive read-alouds and at the end of it I was wondering how different was this from what we already do in our classrooms? There are so many 'new approaches' today that most times we get frightened into misunderstanding what they are all about. Most times we realize that it's a new label for an old approach. Well needless to say  I could not see any differences really and I simply went away with new terminology.

To me an interactive read-aloud is actually reading to my students and getting them to understand the content while I do so. They can ask questions, make predictions, give ideas all during the reading process rather than waiting till the end. In this way I'm making pretty sure that they understand the content thoroughly enough through meaningful interactions during the reading. Is this idea 'new' to you?

For further information check the links below:
Reading Rockets
Read Works
Interactive Read-Alouds in Six Steps

Sunday 15 September 2013

Syllabication Rules!

There are more than twenty rules that kids must remember when they attempt to syllabicate words. Most times it is very hard to remember all of them so the next best thing is to get lots and lots of practice! Let them listen to words and try to figure out how many syllables there are. Engage them in activities which call for looking closely at words to look for patterns as well. The more they listen to the sounds of words and the more they look at the words that they say the more likely they are to discover the rules of syllabication naturally!

If you are interested in a syllabication literacy center for kindergarten kids click the picture below.

Saturday 7 September 2013

Retention or Promotion? What is Best for Your Child?

Photo Courtesy
I am yet to find the perfect argument either for or against the issue of retention of students. From my 21 years of teaching experience there has been many successes and failures when it comes to keeping kids down rather than promoting them with their peers. One of the successes that I have seen with retention was an increase in the performance rate of some struggling students. Although these students were left behind by at least two years they were able to 'catch up', well enough to move on successfully to a higher level of education. On the other hand, in many cases increases in behavior problems were associated with retained students. Some children who are kept down become so disruptive at times and of course their influence among the younger students seem to be far greater than the teacher's ability to cope.

Reasons For Retention

Experts in this arena say that retention must be for specific reasons. According to Colleen Stump, former Chairperson of the Special Education Department at San Francisco State University, retention may be considered when a child:
  • Has significant struggles making progress in reading, writing or math
  • Fails to reach performance levels expected for promotion to the next grade
  • Appears to be "immature" and "young" for her age
I have seen cases where an attempt was made to keep back children for social reasons external to them which I think is outrageous! The child in question scored high when assessed and had no presenting problems, except that his feuding parents would keep him away from school for days on end. I dealt with that swiftly, needless to say! It is rather unfortunate that our children can be affected negatively through no fault of theirs.

Factors To Consider 

The experts say that we need to think before we decide the future of our children. According to Stump, there are certain criteria which hold important when we want to consider whether to promote or demote students.
The following factors are what teachers and parents should look at (Parents replace the word 'student' with 'child'):

Colleen Stump

Only after you go through these considerations  would you be able to make a better decision as to whether you promote or demote a child.

Saturday 31 August 2013

A Labor Day Mini Book For Little Kids

This is a mini book that offers a simple explanation of Labor Day for you to relate to your kiddos. Each fact is supported with the relevant graphics needed for your students to get a clear picture of what Labor Day is all about. It can be used to support your Labor Day unit or it can be used as a standalone lesson. After using this mini book, it can be placed in your literacy centers.

This resource contains two copies per print.

Please note that the vocabulary may be difficult for the young ones so I suggest that students are not left to attempt to read them on their own. Guidance is key!

If you are interested in purchasing this mini book click HERE for further details.

Monday 26 August 2013

A Contract Mini Book For Serious School Kids

Here's a mini book that can support your first week of school activities. It was created for kids from pre-k to grade 2.

Click on the picture below for further information.

Sunday 25 August 2013

Readiness For Kindergarten

I know that some parents are concerned about their children's readiness for Kindergarten. I also know that kindergarten teachers are busy planning their checklists and programs to ensure that ALL students are well on the way to learning. Whether a child starts off on the ball or lingering behind the teacher's main task is to get them all on the same boat. So what is readiness? How important is it in the life of a school child? What do teachers look for? Well, today I am going to give you some idea of what we teachers look for in each child when we meet our new class.

What is Readiness?
School readiness is the child's state of having the ability to learn and cope with the school environment without undue stress. A child who is ready is identified as the child who shows that he is able to function as he is expected to in a school setting. As teachers we look out for any difficulties or behaviors that trouble the student. Some students show problems with socializing while others seem unable to complete academic tasks.

Here is a list of the characteristics of children who are ready for kindergarten as is suggested by the Beal Early Childhood Center:

 The child who shows social emotional readiness is ready to:
  • Separate from family
  • Trust adults in school
  • Learn how to share
  • Learn how to wait
  • Assume responsibility and independence
  • Handle situations, emotions, fears
  • Follow teacher's agenda

 The child who shows Intellectual readiness is:
  • Eager to learn and to engage in new activities
  • Interested in print, alphabet letters
  • Interested in listening to stories and music
  • Interested in talking about ideas
  • Interested in math concepts- number, comparisons, shapes

The child who shows motor-neurological readiness is ready to:
  • Hold writing tools
  • Use scissors
  • Button, zip own clothing
Some children show all these behaviors together while others may show only a few. What teachers do very early is to check each child for these characteristics and plan instruction and activities that allow all students to grow.

Tuesday 20 August 2013

Building Student Responsibility With Classroom Jobs

Classroom jobs are a great way for your students to take responsibility for their classroom. It helps them to gain a collective sense of pride and to show others how much they care for their learning environment. Students learn to work cooperatively  with their peers in the class community. For these reasons and more I think that every class should have a well organized classroom job system. After all, what a better way to teach our students to be responsible than to give them responsibilities.

Organizing a Classroom Job System
Here are a few ideas that I have gathered which will assist any teacher in beginning to use a class job system.

 Plan Before School Starts

If you are not back to school yet, then now is the best time to start. Make a list of all routine tasks from the beginning of the school day to the end. Some tasks may require little manpower while others may need a heft. Some may need a long time to complete while others may be short. Depending on time and duration you may need one student or more. Think about it carefully.

  Jobs For All!

This may sound a bit too much, but it is best that ALL students get an opportunity to perform tasks during the course of the day. Create jobs for as many pupils that you have in your class in this way every one will be busy managing something and there would be little time for mischief. To give you a little idea of some of the possible jobs for your students check out K6 and this article entitled Best Classroom JobsList Elementary School.

Have a Rotation System

Everyone knows the dangers of having one person in the same role for too long! They get very powerful! Students sometimes get rooted into the positions that they are put in and they can wreak havoc in the classroom. This can work against you and all your efforts to sustain peace in your classroom. Of course in your planning stage you must think about the duration of roles before switches are made. One week is good so shuffling around should be done by the Friday or Monday if you’re late at it.

Display Assignments 

The assigned responsibilities as well as the description of these responsibilities must be displayed to remind ALL of what they are supposed to be doing. Pocket charts are great tools for classroom helper display.  

 Remember To Use Your System!

I am so guilty of forgetting about using the assigned students that I get into a lot of trouble afterwards. Naturally I get stern reminders from watchful eyes to make sure that it does not happen again in the future. 

Give Feedback!

Feedback is always appreciated by kids whether it comes in the form of praises or reprimands.  Your students want to be assured that you are monitoring what is taking place at all times. They do not appreciate being given tasks while you are using your now spare time to attend to external matters. Look on! Monitor! Listen! Advise! Guide!

 Here are some classroom job resources that you may find interesting.

 Here is my Superhero themed Classroom Helpers Chart. For further details click the picture below!

Check out my TpT store for editable classroom job resources.

Exploring Light Properties with Eye-Catching Clip Art: Enhance Your Science Lessons!

  Are you looking to brighten up your science lessons? These light properties clip art images are just what you need! From reflection to ref...