Too Many Pumpkins!

Have you read about Rebecca Estelle and her cat Esmerelda?  If not, you are missing out.  These two are a delight, as is this fun fall story.  I do not want to spoil the plot for you, but I will tell you this, the book lends itself well to enriching vocabulary, practicing past tense, making predictions, sorting verbs and adjectives, not to mention that it is just plain fun!

Too Many Pumpkins Literature Unit

Too Many Pumpkins, by Linda White is not a book about Halloween. There are no scary parts, no trick-or-treat or costumes.  It is mostly a story about too many pumpkins with a few Jack-o-lanterns, a couple of laughs, some problem solving, and a very feel good ending!
Too Many Pumpkins Literature Unit an Vocabulary Puzzles

The first time I read this book was years ago while volunteering in my son's 2nd grade class.  I wasn't familiar with the story, but I loved it so much I rushed out to add to my collection.   If it's one you haven't read I suggest you check it out ASAP.   If you already know how wonderful it is be sure to check out the literature activities I have designed to compliment the book for use in your classroom. I do hope you love it as much as I do!
Too Many Pumpkins Literature Unit
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Link to Amazon

Double Digits!

Jeepers! I did it!  I must confess that the last 2 miles were a bit brutal and I am seriously wiped out!

Back in July when I decided it would be a good idea to train for my first half marathon, I did not take into consideration Football Season and having a freshman in the March Band!  Had I any clue what it would be like I hope would have been smart enough to know that early morning runs on Saturday were going to be PAINFUL and possibly simply insane.

Friday night games and picking up anywhere from 11:45-12:30AM does not allow much time for sleep when you plan to meet your friends between 6:00AM and 7:00AM to avoid the heat, and allow time to get home early enough to make it to our kiddos Saturday activities.

Thankfully the temps are starting to drop and that is making the long runs a tad easier...of course we've been adding mileage now so the two might just cancel each other out.  There is some consolation in the fact that there was no sleeping in for the Drumline kids this morning either....though I felt bad for them too, as they were heading to compete on the same 5 hours of sleep I had.

So I dropped the kiddo off and headed to meet my running partners. There is NO possible way that I could have completed this run if I was trying to do this alone.  This morning was my first time to run double digits.  Besides the exhaustion and jello like legs, I am feeling pretty darn happy about the accomplishment.   AND I was able to make it to the Drumline contest with time to spare.  Not a bad way to start the weekend even if I can barely walk or keep my eyes open.....  (-.-)zzZZ

Educational Snacks

Have you heard of the Dick & Jane Baking Company yet?  A friend of mine posted about them on Facebook and I was intrigued.   I went looking for them at my local market.  The teacher is me couldn't resist the idea of an educational snack!  I was happy to find a box of States & Capitals.

My teenage son gave me a few strange looks when I unloaded the box from the groceries, but I promised I wouldn't pack them in his lunch. However, he has been more than happy to snack on them this week at home.  They are yummy!  I told him he can't eat them without reading them first. So he's been quizzing me on my states and capitals. We both agree it's so much easier to name the state that matches the capital.  It takes a little more brain power to come up with  few of the more obscure capitals for some of the states.  It seems I'm a little rusty.

My local store didn't have a box of the Presidents, but I am hoping to get those next.  The teenager used to be able to tell me the name and number of each of the presidents and I'm curious to see how much he remembers!  As with most teenage boys food is a pretty good motivator and he's a good sport. I think as long as I don't pack them in his lunch or offer them to his friends when they come over he will play along.

Another plus is that these happen to be nut free snacks.  What a bonus! I know lots of districts have really clamped down on what snacks can be served at school, but there are a few out there that still allow them and how nice that these will work for those classrooms.

I did some looking on their website and found out they are also working toward creating and educational foundation and they have some simple resources to go with their products also. Be sure to check them out!
Click to visit the Dick & Jane Baking Company

IB Learner Profile Puzzles

Finding new ways to engage students is just plain fun.  I've always been a big fan of concentration/memory matching games.  They are a simple way to reinforce just about any subject and most students enjoy them.  My initial plan was to take my IB Learner Profile Posters and make them into a concentration game for students to use in learning stations.  My plan changed when I stumbled across this fantastic puzzle clip art from Krista Wallden of Creative Clips.  How fun would it be to make puzzles for each trait?  In case you hadn't noticed I seriously LOVE all her work!

IB Learner Profiles

So now this learning station includes puzzles for each Learner Profile Trait too! The biggest aha-moment with this activity came with the mini-poster set on a binder ring.  These  sets worked perfectly for differentiating the lesson.  Some students used them to check their work, but others used them as an aid in helping to solve puzzles.

IB learner profile ideas and puzzles

I am a also a big fan of recording sheets for learning stations.  Just a little something to reinforce the concepts being reviewed with the games.  I did think it would be fun if you have an iPhone or iPad in your classroom for students to take photos of their completed puzzles and post to class Instagram if you have one!

IB PYP learner profile review
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What if Everybody Did That?

Cause and effect with What If Everybody Did That?

This summer I stumbled across a book I hadn't seen before and the title immediately caught my eye.  It is called What if Everybody Did That?  As I flipped through the pages I couldn't help but laugh at many of the comical illustrations.  More importantly though, I also couldn't help noticing how this book so perfectly illustrates that actions and choices have consequences.  In a very simple and fun way this book shows children the effects of their actions and why certain behaviors aren't acceptable. The oh so simple question, " What if everybody did that?" along with the clever illustrations by Colleen M. Madden drive home the point so beautifully.

What If Everybody Did That? Perfect for teaching responsibility!

This book is perfect for the beginning of the year as you are establishing your classroom rules and procedures, or  later in the Spring, as it lends itself perfectly to Earth Day.  I love finding ways to use literature to support other subjects like social studies and science and this works perfectly for topics that revolve around helping others and the planet too! It's like Character Education and Science Mashup of sorts!

Have y'all watched many of the Kid President videos yet?  If not, you are missing out! Not only is he adorably funny,  his messages are fantastic!  Here is a great one to share with your students after reading What if Everybody Did That?   Part of what I love about this book is how it ends.  I won't completely spoil it for you, but just know that the end of the book and Kid President can encourage your students to think about the ways and the power they have to shape the future.  How awesome is that?

If you'd like to do some extension lessons based on the book I've  put together a few simple activity pages. They include:

  • Cause & Effect Graphic Organizers
  • Templates to make your own What if Everybody Did That? class books.
  • Vocabulary Activities (choice, responsible, consequence, cause, effect, actions)
  • Reflection Writing Activities

character education sharing the planet
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Pumpkin Art

This has got to be one of my all time favorite art projects!  I discovered  the idea during our homeschooling years and decided to give it a go.  The results far exceeded my expectations.  I loved my son's end result so much that I had note cards printed.

NOTE: this is a multi-day project, as you will need to give the white glue time to dry before you can ink and watercolor, but it was so worth it!

Are you familiar with Artsonia? They describe themselves as the "largest student art museum in the world!" Every child can have an online art gallery and preserve their masterpieces for all time.  It really is quite a wonderful place.  Not to mention that there are tons of fantastic ideas to be found for teachers, homeschool parents or those who just love being artsy with their kiddos!

I mention Artsonia because that is where I got the idea for this project and where I had the note cards printed too!  They can print student artwork on all kinds of neat things and they will give a percentage of sales back to your school.  Pretty fantastic!

Here is the link to this project:

If you haven't been to Artsonia yet I highly encourage you check it out!

Also be sure to check out my Halloween Fun Pinterest Board for more ideas to use in the classroom this Fall!

Character Goals

Are you a goal setter?  I like to think I am, but it's debatable.  I think I tend to only set goals in certain areas of my life....probably the areas that I am more likely to meet with success.  Yet, I totally believe goal setting with kids is fantastic!  Hypocrite?  Yeah, sometimes.

I've been working on a lot things that provide students the opportunity to set goals, track and then reflect on their progress. Some of them are basic, like math fact goals and nightly reading goals.

My most recent  project involved designing an activity that has students setting goals for character development.  My thought was to have them choose 3 character traits to really focus on, think about and actually set goals to work toward for the school year.  My hope being, that in addition to learning about what having good character means and what it looks like, students will see character as something they can learn, improve at and work toward growth just as they would in math or reading,

The idea is that if we help students take the time to think about ways in which they can specifically show good character, both at school and out in the world, then hopefully they won't simply become rule followers (though I absolutely love rule followers and happen to be a rather hard core rule follower myself),  but rather people who choose to live out desirable character qualities.  The big picture goal is for them to decide they want to be good people, good citizens, and successful individuals.

I know as teachers and parents we care very deeply about the academic success of our children (and we should), but I do think caring about who they become as people is equally important and having students set goals for their character development just sounded like a good idea.  Agree? Thoughts?

I was inspired to use some adorable clip art from  Educlips to put together some posters, puzzles, awards and brag tags to go along with these goal setting pages.  Click the cover image below to go to my TpT Store and take a look.  Meanwhile, I think I need to do some of my own goal setting....