I'll let you in on a little secret.  I LOVE gum!  I'm not a coffee girl...it's all about gum.  As we speak, you'll find a bag of it on my desk.  See that?

I wasn't kidding.  :)

Well, I figured my students could be surrounded by gum too and just maybe I'll inspire them to chew more of it...just kidding.  Anyway, my thought is that we can use gum to motivate us to learn our math facts.  And it also checks one of my boxes....colorful, fun, and engaging in the classroom.  Math facts are just one of those things you have to learn....and the best way I have found is just by learning them by addressing each child's individual need.  Practice makes perfect.   So, we just added a little incentive with our math facts.  My students each get a gumball machine of their own.

They're cute right?  And then I just grabbed some velcro...I love Velcro....to put in the middle of my gumball machines.  There's also another reason for this...I don't have to print out too many gumballs...time and ink saver.

Then we'll add these cute gumball numbers to our machines as we learn them.

Now here comes the engaging part.  I have these little gumball math fact cards set up in my learning centers labeled so they can practice their facts every chance they get with a partner.  They love them...and we also included a Pop game where two or more students can play. Just grab an old container and have these laminated for your students to play with even during their inside recess days.  :)

There's plenty more in the packet which includes letters for a bulletin board and skills practice tests.  I hope you'll check it out.   Click on any of the pictures to be taken to my store to see it.

Now, here's another fun thing I wanted to share with you that my students are using in the classroom to go along with this packet.  BOOM cards.....and let me tell you these are soooo much fun.  I had a great time making them.  Take a look at this sample:

There are two types of cards in the packet.  In this first one, they answer the math problem by choosing the correct gumball.

In the second one, students choose all of the math facts that add up to that number.  I love these colorful cards.  And so do my students.  Click on the pictures above if you are interested in those.

I love creating things for my classroom and my hope is that these are helpful to you too.  I truly appreciate any purchase you make.

It all starts in the month of February.  You know what I'm talking about?  After a long winter of no color in the trees or pretty flowers to enjoy....I crave some fresh new colors in my classroom.  How about you?   This is where this Donut Fun Phonics packet comes in.  And, who doesn't love donuts?   I know I do.  I was looking for something to perk up our reading centers and this little pack did the trick.  We are working on vowel teams and blends.  So this center was just what we needed to reinforce those skills.  The best part …it's a one-time print and cut and then we're ready to go.  So go grab one of your parent volunteers and ask them ever so sweetly to cut them out for you.  I love parent volunteers...don't you?
But first, take a look at what you'll find inside.

Each vowel team or blend has its own box ready for your students to fill up with yummy donuts.

Each of the sets has picture cards for students to sort out which one goes in each box.

And finally, there is a recording sheet for students to write out the words.  These are optional but it gave my students great practice on spelling words.
If you like it you can grab it here.

I wanted to share with all of my readers a little tip that I have found so helpful for me when my students are absent from school.  I've helped a friend this past summer set up her classroom and she wanted something different to help with her students who would be absent. She is returning to the classroom after several years and I shared these absentee folders with her. She said "Great, can you make me some?"  Of course, I obliged and the best part I'm sharing a free cover with you. Stay tuned...below.  :)

You know the drill at the end of the day one of your students has been absent or has been absent for a week and you get a call from the office asking if you have any make up work for that student to complete at home.  Well as a matter of fact I do...but wait it's piled somewhere on my desk.  And you know how your desk can look at the end of the day.  So, I've come up with this idea.   It's so easy to prep ahead of time before the first day.  We love easy to prep right??? My hope is that you'll find it helpful too.  I know what you are thinking ...What if I don't have desks in my room....no problem find a wall and attach them with velcro under your whiteboard or on the back of the door.  And best part is if you don't want to make one for each student in your class....make 5 of them and just write their name on the folder and erase as you go.  I made a couple of spare folders you know for those folders who just don't make it through the year.  :)

So here's how it's done.  First, you take a sticky note and place it on the center of the desk.  After applying the sticky note grab some packing tape and lay two pieces over the sticky note to protect it from falling off.

Second, grab a round circle (or any shape) of velcro and attach it to the center of the sticky note that has been taped.

Next, head to the Dollar Store and grab packages of 9x12 brown folders with clasps . Don't you love the Dollar Store?   Grab enough for your classroom and a few to spare.

Then, print out this freebie :)  and add them glued to the center of the folder.  After gluing them in place go on down to your laminating machine and laminate them for durability. You can click on the picture to grab your own cover.  Right here...

After laminating take an Exacto knife and run along the opening of the file folder to open the folder.

During the first day of school we talk about classroom expectations and organization.  All of that fun stuff just to get our school year started off right.  We talk about how we use these folders and then I show them how they work. I take out my sample folder and show them where they are placed on their desks and then explain what we do if a student is absent.  So for example if  I passed out papers then their paper will end up in their folder.  The responsibility is shared with my students.  Best feeling ever is when a parent shows up or the office calls looking for the student's work all I have to do is hand them the folder and say there you go.  I love the surprised look on their face when they see the quick response.  And I love having one less thing on my desk.  ;)

Today I am talking about Money.  We could all use a little more right?  Well in my classroom I have noticed that some of my students grab the concept of coin identification quickly and others do not.  Then after a few short weeks we are expected to teach our students how to add up money and count it.  AHHH it can be a struggle.  One thing I have added to my math centers for practice are these money identification strips that have helped my students at the beginning of our money unit.  You can grab them free here:

Once we move on from those task cards I add a little fun activity into the center with these Ipad tablet shaped task cards.  These were laminated over the summer and cut out to fit right into my storage containers for math.  My students are to identify the amount of money and circle the coins they would need to make the amount listed.  They have a recording sheet to use so that I can check for understanding.  You can grab them here:

Once we moved on from using our Ipads we went onto these locks which were a hit with the kids if they like puzzles.  These keys and locks were laminated and I asked a parent volunteer to help me cut them out.  Win win on a time saver.  These locks were a lot of fun for the kids to place together especially for my tactile learners.  You can grab them here:

Next we move onto the newest activity that I plan on adding to the centers for next school year.   These reading passages can be used two different ways.  I can print them out and have my students complete them independently for morning work or add them to my math center.  I plan on adding velcro to the backs of the pieces and to the cards after they have been printed out on cardstock and laminated.  I can't wait to hear my students reading and adding a little math to their day.  We love cross curricular activities in my room.  You can grab them here:

I hope you find these examples useful in your classroom.

Context Clues are one of my favorite strategies to teach in reading.  Why you might ask?  Because my students become detectives in their reading and look for clues to find out the meaning.  This strategy is especially important because when they take those standardized tests they need to be able to identify those unknown vocabulary.  I've attached a video from BrainPop above that I show in the classroom to help introduce the topic.  So, here's 5 ways I teach them to identify unknown words using context clues.

1.   Make an Inference
This is HUGE!!!  By now my students have learned how to make an inference. So, we play a telephone game where I have students act like they are about to order a pizza or make an appointment to a hair stylist without actually saying they are doing that.  This allows them to make an inference on what is being said on the phone.  This is great practice when we are reading words in context.  If the passage says "We were huddled up together under a warm blanket during the snow storm."  My hope is that the students could make an inference that the word huddled meant "together" based on the clues of snow storm, under a blanket, and warm.

2.  Look for the Definition in the passage
Teach those readers to look for the definition right in the sentences around the unknown word.  Sometimes they don't even realize the meaning is right there in the passage.  Tell the to look for key words such as like and the word or.  For example: The boy grasped, or held , the baseball.  We often spend time reading a passage and then highlighting the definition to practice this skill.

3.  Find a synonym:
This strategy is where we look for phrases that have the word "or" in them.  For example :  He was joyous , or happy, when he saw his grandmother.  We highlight the words joyous and happy to identify the synonym.

4.  It provides an example:
This strategy makes us really think because we have to decide if the example is giving us clues or leading us to the definition.  An example of this would be "A group of vulnerable newborn puppies, like newborn kittens who need extra support, were found near the highway.  The part of the sentence that reads like the newborn kittens who need extra support should signal us that vulnerable means something or someone who needs help.

5.  Find an antonym:
For this strategy we look for words that say unlike, opposed to, or different from when reading through passages with unknown words.

In order for us to remember all of this we do add all of this information into our interactive notebooks (don't you just love those)  Grab it here:

Now, if you are looking for a fun culminating activity to use with your lesson on context clues this activity will not disappoint.

This was SNOW much fun!!!  Sorry couldn't resist.  :)  Whether or not it is snowing outside it will be in our classroom when we play a little context clue game .  My students absolutely LOVED this game we played to finish up our unit on context clues.  Who doesn't love a snowball fight especially in the classroom?

## SETUP:

This game was really easy to set up and can be used over and over again.  I divided the class into two teams and then had one student as my official task card reader. After reading the task cards students take their snowballs and throw them towards the board to see if they get the correct answer.  If they hit the same snowball and it is a tie then they go to take a turn towards snowball challenge board.  Whoever hits the highest number their gets the point.  Play continues until all the task cards are read.
My students loved this game and I hope yours will too!  If you like what you see you can grab it here.

YAY!  Summer is here!  I am so ready to lounge around poolside and soak up some sunshine.  How about you ?  I wanted to pop in and share with ya'll some of the end of the year awards that I love to give out to my kiddos at the end of the year.  These turned out beyond adorable and my students loved them.

Each one of these awards perfectly described my students and they loved the colorful awards they received.  O.k. before you think it will take all of that ink...really it doesn't.  I print them out over the last few parts of the year and I also use the HP printer Envy 4520 a real ink saver.

Each one of these awards are printed out on cardstock...you could laminate if you wanted.  Grab those classroom volunteers and let them cut them out for you.  I always have one parent or two that are willing to help.  The best things about these awards are they are completely editable and I can use any font I want.

So cute and the kids loved that their award was shown from the stage.  The parents loved receiving them because of the bright colors and it was a memory they could hold onto and treasure.
O.k. time to hop back into that pool and make plans for next year.  Happy Summer ya'll.

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One of my favorite things to discuss with my guided reading groups is figurative language.  Why???  you might ask.  Well, because it can add so much to our reading and writing instruction time.  My students love hearing and pointing out examples of simile, onomatopoeia (love saying this word), alliteration, personification, hyperbole, and idioms.  I love that we can enrich our reading time with more strategies to help our little readers and writers blossom .

Here is how my lessons go:

During our guided reading times we begin by introducing each skill individually with many examples to help my readers understand how to detect and find them in their reading.  First, we start off by taking simple notes and adding them to our interactive notebooks we keep for reading and grammar.  Here below we glue in the definition and then I have my students write examples of the skill around the gumball machine.    I have found that I like to use standard spiral notebooks for my interactive notebooks because we can add full pages and notes.

During our next meetings we will have one book on hand that we will read and share that illustrates the example of the figurative language we are working on (hyperbole, idiom, alliteration,etc).  As you will find in the pic above I have a piece of literature I use with each skill and we record our findings on the note cards which we add to our notebooks.
Very guided at this point to assure that my students are learning and understanding the concept.
Independent Practice
After we have covered two of the figurative language styles or more whichever you group is comfortable I use these interactive activities to informally assess my students while I am working in our reading groups.  These pages are designed for my students to independently cut apart and glue down their answers on the page.  They are instructed which set to cut out and then they complete the activity independently.   Work is placed in their interactive notebooks and then I can check when we meet for their reading group.
Here is a sample of our finished product in our notebooks.  :)

After informally assessing where my students were I also added these task cards to my reading centers or as tasks for my students to complete while I was working with my reading groups.  Students were told which bags to get out either A,B,C, D,... depending on which ones we had covered at that point and then given a recording sheet to work as partners to identify the correct example of figurative language.  Each task card is labeled with the alphabet and you know as the teacher which letter corresponds with which figurative language.  :)

Culminating Activity
Now I don't know about you but I like to have a little fun in my classroom and sometimes a game is what you need to get those kiddos motivated to learn.  As we wrap up all of our learning and we have grasped all the concepts of figurative language I like to play "Pop, I know that!"  A little game I created to challenge my students.  Divide the class into two teams and have the cards placed face up in a row along a set of desks.  Each team sends up a player and then either the teacher or another student reads "Pop, I know that" card and the first player who correctly grabs the Pop I know that card with the correct figurative language word on it gets a point for their team.  It is so much fun and the kids love playing.

This was such a fun little unit and my students loved the gumball theme with the bright colors and learning all about figurative language.  If you like what you see you can get it here:

Here is also a list of the books we used during our unit which were great examples for our guided reading meetings.

Book Sources

By Dr. Seuss

By Peggy Parish
By Dr. Seuss

By Virginia Lee Burton

I hope your students enjoy it as much as mine did.