Sunday, July 29, 2012

New "Masterpiece" Giveaway & Awesome TPT Freebie!

Product Details
I have learned so much in the short time I've been on TPT and been so inspired by the enthusiasm everyone has for their profession!  I have been practically attached to the computer since joining and am an official "addict" now!  I am very proud of my newest explicit instruction unit based on the book "Crickwing" by Janell Cannon and can't wait to share it with everybody.  If you hate cockroaches, then this IS the book for you!  I never thought I could be convinced to like a cockroach...they are the ONLY insect I fear!  And so here I am finding cockroach clip art?  (And for clip art makers---there's a market you can corner--there isn't any--imagine that?!)  Crickwing's story is full of lessons learned as a bullied cockroach becomes the bully, but pays the price.  Ultimately, he and the tough little leafcutter ants must band together to conquer yet another group of bullies...the army ants! Once you've read the story, it's time to dig deeper and start playing with words.  This unit is packed full of opportunities for your students to repeatedly interact with six tier II target words, ultimately making these words their "own."  Included in the 43 slides:  
  • Suggested teacher prompts
  • 10-12 interactions with every word
  • exit slips
  • pre and post assessments
  • cooperative learning reviews
  • word cards
  • fancy cockroach and ant clip art...oh and an anteater too...he's in the story, kind of! hehe
My kids look forward to these lessons, as do I!  They are fast-paced, interactive, and FUN.  The kids get so into using their words, you will be tired of hearing them!  I am giving away, not just the unit, but I will also ship to you a copy of the phenomenal book, "Crickwing" for you to share with your class...I'm not will actually LIKE a cockroach! Click here to see the bigger version of the previews in TPT store.
***This is my first giveaway...if something goes awry please forgive as I'm still learning! Keep scrolling for a great, great, great freebie!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Five-Star Freebie! (I could only give it four!)
While I was perusing through some of the fantastic stores of TPT sellers, I stumbled upon Sharing Kindergarten's free resource, "Dr. Jean's ABC Cheers" for FREE!  The set includes the poster version listing the 26 cheers, smaller cards (those are going to be laminated by my nifty new laminator hehe), AND the full size images.  WOW!  Thanks so much for a very usable and beautiful resource that will really embarrass, I mean motivate my fifth graders.  (I love that they think they are too cool and then remind me that they haven't  praised each other!!!) Please visit Sharing Kindergarten's store for more fun and great freebies- and throw some more stars her way!

Mary Amoson
Have a wonderful week!  I'm going to go laminate......weee......

:0) Heather

Thursday, July 26, 2012

App Happy Linky! Hours Have Passed....

This was the fantastic idea of Second Grade Shenanigans!  I was up until 3:00 am thanks to her!  I looked at every single person's app and filled another entire screen on my Ipad.  I only just received my IPad from school a few weeks ago which means EVERY app I see is new and fabulous, so hopefully, my suggestions aren't old news.

The first app I went for was Brainpop, because I am crazy about Brainpop.  Even if you don't have a subscription their app is free and you and your kids can access their daily video, quiz, and other freebies by category.  You can also download the Brainpop Jr. app which features a weekly movie.  Don't be fooled by the cute animation and colorful graphics....Brainpop videos are highly content focused and give you just about everything you need to know in under five minutes!  If you are a subscriber, you can also use your login to access your account.

Stick Man- FREE!  This next one's kind of corny but my husband and I were visiting with his niece and nephew and she plopped her Ipad in front of me and said, "Draw a stick man."  As you see, I am not very good with my finger and drawing, but that's why they have a gallery- so you can see what everybody else can do better!  With Stick Man, you have to draw a series of quick additions to help Stick Man get out of some ridiculously fantastic dilemmas- he comes to "life!"  So the teacher in me was figuring out how to use this with my class.  The story line never changes but I was thinking this would be a great way to focus on specific writing traits or focus skills.  He's also the perfect cause and effect lesson! You can also go to and the kids could do this in a writing center.  If you like Stick Man 1, there's a Stick Man 2 as well...hint you're going to be in a tree in Stick Man 2, and it appears that there will be an Epic Stick Man coming soon.  By the way...I didn't give away the ending in Stick Man 1!

And the greatest part of all about blogging?  I learned how to take screen shots on my Ipad!  I can't wait to find out what you guys make me learn next! Happy Thursday!

:0) Heather

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Christmas in July!

Follow this button to check out all the TPT stores holding a Christmas in July sale or click on my Wild About Words button to go directly to my store.  Grab all you's a one day sale!  

Wild About Words

Monday, July 23, 2012

Introducing: Minute to Win It Monday!

So many people downloaded the first Minute to Win It freebie and I've had so much fun with this in my classroom, that I have decided to create a weekly Minute to Win It freebie!  In my classroom we use Minute to Win It as a reward for meeting a class goal.  Last year we used a "compliment chain" which used paperclips to track their progress.  We hung them from a pin on the board and once the chain reached the metal tray, we had a Minute to Win It celebration.  Would love to hear about your fun as you try out some of these silly NOT do this without a camera! You will regret it....the photos we put in the end of the year slide show were hysterical and perfect for the "too cool" fifth graders! Click the collage pictures for the free download!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Liebster Award!

Thanks to Mrs. Smith from Kindergarten Love for the Liebster Award!  Off to find some cool new blogs to share with the world!  So what is a "Liebster?"....

This award is named for the German word "Liebster," which translates to "beloved" or "favorite," and it is given to "new, up and coming blogggers."

The rules:
1.  Link back to the person who gave it to you.
2.  Post the award to your blog.
3.  Give the award to at least 5 bloggers with less than 200 followers.
4.  Leave a comment on the 5 blogs to  let them know that they have been offered this award.

Check out these 5 great starters!  Can't wait to hear more...

Classroom Capers

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Blog Makeover Giveaway!

Ms. Fultz's corner
I've looked longingly at all of the beautiful teacher blogs....and searched for help coding to beautify mine! Alas, I get lost in HTML and slashes and coding! and to answer my by Christi is having a blog makeover give away! so head over to her site and check it out...but reserve the winning spot for ME!!!! Beautiful blogs, Christi! Oh and my dream blog? since I am Wild about words, I'd love crazy looking letters for my background, bright colors, and a white base....bright, white, but clean and organized! :0)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Grants, Games, and Apps...Oh My!

I highly recommend subscribing to We Are Teachers' emails and updates.  They will send you emails with mini grant opportunities.  These aren't the typical grants that take hours of time to write and signatures, but super simple online idea sharing segments, basically.  During the year, they post 20 or 30 of them at a time with a short question that takes about 15 minutes to fill out usually.  Some of it is driven by Facebook and some of it is driven by a panel that selects finalists, but they are testing out a new format now.  They are testing it out with an opportunity for a full classroom technology makeover! There are also quick entry opportunities- over the summer they gave away 12 different sets of books over 12 days.  Super resource!  Go enter the technology makeover and we'll all vote for you on TPT!!!

Educational Toys for Kids
 I actually got one of there $100 grants to order anything I wanted from Mindware catalog...which by the way is another resource that has some really clever games.  I got the coolest solar set, a see through root farm, a pattern game that my husband hates because I beat him every time, and some neat books-  all that for about 10 minutes of time!  And that game up there is Square kids' all time favorite game every year.  They'll sacrifice their cafeteria time to come in at lunch and play it...not really academic but lots of fun!

Kids Book Report
And a new app....I've been slacking!   So this isn't really super fancy, but I think it is that "thing" that my struggling readers and writers just might need to inspire them!  I know they'd love love love to use the Ipad and the interface of this app is so simple, almost no background is needed.  It's simple enough:  4 parts of the story to select, write about, save, and share!  Besides using it as a planning tool, I think it would be a wonderful way to reinforce story elements after reading the story and helping with summarizing.  If $0.99 will get those guys motivated, I'm in! 
If you want a little more, this one looks cool.  I didn't buy it- 7.99 too much for a test drive but maybe once the kids come back!  But wow...this has capabilities!  50 different storylines with questions that help guide the child through the writing process.  Even better- multiple students can set up files to archive stories and....they can record their stories!  Seems like a really neat app and it has mostly 5 star reviews.  Great resource for parents too!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Versatile Blogger! Love it!

Thanks so much to Pam at PJ Jots for the Versatile Blogger Award! (Check out her life-size phone -Love the Apps idea and good to see you have doggy that helps too!)  And so now I have a fun job and a reason to spend more time fishing through all the awesome blogs you guys have out there....and so I am off!  But first, it seems I have to tell you some stuff about me.  Now I know how my kids feel when they are asked to do these assignments it goes!

Here are the rules for the Versatile Blogger Award:
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you
2. Include a link to their blog
3. Include the award image in your post
4. Give 7 random facts about yourself
5. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award (okay...I made it to 7...dinner has to be made!)
6. When nominating, include a link to their blog
7. Let other bloggers know they've been nominated

So...7 random facts about myself...
1. I hate the sound of ice rubbing makes my skin crawl!
2.  I am addicted to TPT...period...totally addicted!
3.  My favorite commercials are the Cheez-It commercials...they let their cheese "mature" LOL
4.  I've become a digital clipart collector, accidentally
5.  I like scratching my dog's pink belly (she gets all gooey eyed)
6.  I did my first P90X workout today...for the sixth time (someday I'll do the whole 90)
7.  Every time I try one of those hokey love machines, I get's NOT true!

And the hunt is on:
Teaching To Inspire in 5th           .YoungTeacherLove         1st Grade Hip Hip Hooray!
                          GlobalTeacherConnect;Fluttering Through First Grade

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Must Have Picture Books Linky!

The Teacher Wife
Ohhhh this is my favorite thing to talk about!  One of the reasons we decided to go back to self-contained this year is to be able to more flexible schedule our day and include more read aloud while integrating vocabulary in a more natural way.  I love picture books, especially with the fifth graders who think they are just too cool.....then ask, "Can I read that?" or complain when you miss read aloud time!  Sooooo, here are my TOP 5 FAVORITES!  This was a tough list to compile!
Product Details
This is a true picture book- no words.  I have had the greatest conversations with my fourth and fifth graders though!  Basically, there is a naughty magpie, a set of hands, and a set of magic pencils.  The objects the pencils draw come to life, and the naughty magpie gets a hold of the pencils.  With lots of clever solutions, the hands ultimately win!  The illustrations are phenomenal!  This was an obscure find on a discount shelf and I use it every year for story structure, sequencing, cause/effect, and summarizing.

The Secret Knowledge of Grown-Ups
This book is more appropriate for fourth grade and up, but you will laugh out loud (literally) reading these short scenarios.  Each scenario starts with a "Top Secret" folder that reveals the real reasons behind every day rules.  My favorite is:  Eat your vegetables.  Official reason:  They're good for you.  Real reason:  To keep them under control.  The story continues by showing the evolution of what used to be man-eating vegetables.  Collage illustrations engage you from the start.  I've used this for several years when developing classroom rules.  We twist the rules and figure out the "real reasons" for the rules we have developed.  Hysterical results! 

Product Details
This is a pretty popular one already, but I just can't read this story enough.  With Janell Cannon's beautiful illustrations and beautiful theme, it's a story for all ages.  Stellaluna is a character the kids can relate as she tries to fit in as the "different one," and ultimately learns that you don't have to look the same to have something in common.  Check out my explicit instruction vocabulary unit- kids dig a lot deeper into a story they know well.

There's a Frog in My Throat: 440 Animal Sayings a Little Bird Told Me
There's no plot, but lots of pictures so I stick it in my favorite picture books to teach with file!  Teaching figurative language interpretation in reading and use of it in writing can be tough.  With this book, the kids can't get enough and will be using them in excess!  Great illustrations!

Product Details
This isn't just a favorite read aloud with my class, this is my favorite picture book EVER.  I used to sit on the floor in my bedroom and just look at the pictures over and over and over!  They are luscious.  Ul de Rico is actually an artist, not really a story writer but he hit the bullseye with this story of greed.  A great book for introducing theme and character traits.  The goblins are so easily disliked!  Just talking about it makes me want to go grab it and read it for the 1000th time!  Warning:  There is a blue goblin butt in the book- hehe.  The kids always find it when I intentionally don't point anything out on that page!  I've never got in trouble for showing a goblin butt though...knock on wood! LOL

Thanks to "The Teacher's Wife" for starting this linky!

The Teacher Wife

Monday, July 16, 2012

Whatcha Doing for the Summer Linky Party

Traditions, Laughter and Happily Ever After
Thanks to Vicki at Traditions, Laughter and Happily Ever After for the Linky Party!
Hehe....thanks to Teachers Pay Teachers, I have been learning a whole new vocabulary!  Linky's, Pinterest, html, Grab my button (that one makes me laugh every time for some reason), Etsy, and the list grows!  I stumbled upon TPT and tossed a few things up.  As I was looking at everyone else's beautiful work and read the forum, I realized I need to "upgrade" and so became a clipart collector.  So really, I've been working on upgrading the few things I started posting as I learned how to use PowerPoint in a whole new way.
4744 Royal Ave, Jacksonville, FL 32205

On the personal level, I have the most exciting news...we have been looking and looking and looking and made many offers on houses only to hear the phrase, "submit best and highest."  Ugh....that was our best and highest!  Finally, we found the cutest little old house (1945) snuggled between two other little old cute houses and now WE have the contract!  We close in early August and I am just dying to get in there and paint and refinish floors.  With a new roof, I think this baby will be just perfect!  We even met our neighbors already and everyone is super nice!  My husband and I have even driven over there just to walk the dog hehe...there's a beautiful park a couple of blocks away. Can't wait to close!

Happy summer to everyone!
:0) Heather

Think About Your Thinking....

Teaching Comprehension Shouldn't be Silent Book Cover

As I get ready for next year, I am starting to gather my "must haves" in a pile to start planning yet another new attack on this year's curriculum.  On top of this pile is my best find from last year! I had the chance to go to our county's reading council night.  They invited authors Michelle Kelley and Nicki Clausen-Grace to speak. 

First, what I loved is that they are still classroom teachers and "in the trenches" so to speak.  Second, they were funny!  It was the quickest hour ever and I didn't want it to be over!  I bought the book and it has transformed the way I teach reading.  I think we can all explain what the "Super 6" and "metacognitive" strategies  are, but really getting the kids to engage with how they think and creating habitually thoughtful readers is another story...and this is the book to help you do that!  Each of five (visualize, summarize, question, predict, and connect) metacognitive strategies gets its very own chapter.  Each strategy is then broken down into purpose charts.  They include blackline masters for students to use in their reading journals; I made my own in the form of bookmarks and used these to guide our quick discussions after independent reading.  We also recreated their large wall posters (will post pictures this year when I make new ones) and used these to track our strengths and weaknesses for goal setting and conferencing.  When students were asked to explain not just why they predicted something was going to happen, but then extend and reflect upon how this deepened their understanding, the lights started to go on and wow did our classroom discussions open up.  The kids were doing more than going through the motion of reading and doing the surface thinking that I so frequently fight.  They were truly "digging deeper," and pretty quickly!  

My favorite part was after the first couple of months when we introduced the third and fourth strategy, the kids started to recognize that all of these strategies are connected!  "Wait!  Mrs. Earley, predicting is a part of questioning and visualizing? " LOVE IT!  

My other new goal:  In their first chapter and on their website, they show a text feature wall.  Ooohhh, I am so going to do this.  The kids are pretty good at identifying what the text features are, but again, getting them to dig deeper and explain how the text feature extends the text is the key! 

This would also be a great book for a PLC study.  There is a link to professional development with a study guide for the book to guide you through the process. Their website is very informative and also outlines the process (as Chapter 2 does) of metacognitive instruction.

Overall...5 stars!  This book never leaves my lesson plan basket on my desk.  I've referred back to it over and over!  

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Wooohoooo Give Aways!

 So when I was supposed to be being productive and updating my stuff on TPT I got distracted once again with looking at other's blogs and stumbled upon two great places!  First, I got to donate to my first give away at which then led me to a HUGE give away at which then led me to looking at ALL of those blogs that have donated and joining their sites.  Several hours later.....hehe...I am loving finding such innovation and knowing I am in a profession filled with dedicated people!  It is really an inspiration!  Check these giveaways out! You won't regret it!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Brainpop! Free Apps! Free Teacher Resources!

Sometimes I think I should be a sales rep for Brainpop, but it's just that good and now it's gotten even better!  You now can access, for FREE, their daily movie.  On my classroom blog, I have embedded their widget and the kids make a habit out of watching the daily movie before school while they are getting ready for the day.  There are also vocabulary activities, games, and additional information for each of those daily movies.  The content is so succinct but still appealing to kids...they love Moby, the robot.  He is usually the victim or culprit in a silly mishap during each video.  And Tim- he's always got a shirt with an image reflecting the video.   I've even had kids design a new shirt for Tim based on something we've just learned!  The videos on the traditional Brainpop are appropriate for 3rd grade all the way up to high school, and um, adulthood too, for me, I suppose.   If you check out the teacher section on, there are lots of free goodies including Interactive White Board files.  You only have to have a teacher sign in, which is free, to access this section. 

The app is great!  For free, you get the daily video with quiz and score tracking and a list of all their free videos with quizzes.   Awesome stuff! 

And now for the little guys!  Brainpop Jr. has released an app specifically for the second graders and down.  This one is a little different as it is one movie for the whole week.  I just watched this week's video (frogs) and couldn't help but think, my fifth graders could have used this when we did animals, adaptations, interdependence, and life cycles last year.  It appears you have to watch the movie once (and they are CLOSE CAPTIONED!) and then you gain access to the other goodies....easy quiz or hard quiz (and it saves scores!), silly cartoons, and related topics (some require subscription but if not they are clearly marked free).  If you can't tell, I just LOVE Brainpop and think the kids get a kick out of the videos!