Thursday, 28 August 2014

To Curs(iv)e or Not to Curs(iv)e

Original photo credit: Kevin Dooley

Ahh, the age old - err . . .  maybe not that old! - question: to teach cursive or not to teach cursive. One of the great things about blogging, is seeing into classrooms around the world; the similarities and the vast differences. One of those differences, is in curriculum. It's really interesting to see the variance between teachers within the same grade level.

So, onto the topic of today - cursive, do you teach it? In my district, it is not required, but that doesn't mean that some teachers don't add it in. Here's the secret about cursive: similar to the topic of spelling, it can cause some very STRONG opinions. From students and teachers to parents and grandparents, many people have an opinion and they don't always agree!

Some kids love to learn it (have you ever seen the flowery name tags of girls teaching themselves cursive?) and some kids really struggle. Some parents think it is necessary ("How will they ever be able to read my writing?") while others think it is a waste of time ("Cursive? Who needs that - it's all about computers now!").

Of course, opinions extend to teachers, too. I know some teachers who choose to teach it every.single.year. Handing out booklets and homework and review sheets. Other teachers write the date or the schedule in cursive; they expose the students to it, but don't explicitly teach it. And of course, there are a few who ignore it; it's not part of the curriculum therefore it's not part of the classroom. Opinions aside, I am curious about the situation outside of my district. Are you required to teach it? If you're not required, do you still find ways to incorporate it into the classroom? Make sure to leave a comment, I'd love to hear your opinion on the topic!

If you do teach it, or if you like to expose your students to a little cursive writing, I have created some cursive alphabet posters and cursive alphabet lines. It's always great to have a visual in the classroom!

The cursive alphabet lines are great for older students who no longer need the visual cues of pictures and may benefit from the large font, as it allows them to focus on letter formation.

Each pack contains a student picture alphabet, for any students who may be struggling, or just *really* interested in practicing.

And now I'm off to enjoy my last few days of summer before the school year begins!
Have a great long weekend!

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

30+ Brain Breaks for the Elementary Classroom

Original photo credit: frankjuarez

Many school are now back in session and as I'm preparing to go back, I have been scouring the internet, searching for new brain breaks.

You see, as soon as fall hits, the rains come. We have a ton of indoor recesses and sometimes it is too much for the kids (and teachers!) to handle.

Enter brain breaks. I love using the SMART Board to get the kids up and the easiest way I've found to do this is to pull up a video on YouTube. The great thing about this is that it's a) quick b) free c) entertaining for the kids. The kids love doing the dance videos and they are a great way to get the kiddos settled and ready to work.

So without further ado, here we go - 30+ brain breaks for the elementary classroom!

For the kindergarten kiddos . . .

A few Disney hits . . .

4. Prince Ali - Disney's Aladdin - Just Dance 2014 (Wii U)

5. Just Dance Disney - Under The Sea (Wii Rip)

A couple fun ones . . .

17. Just Dance Kids 2 Despicable Me

18. Just Dance 2014 - Ghostbusters (Classic 5 Stars) PS3

19. Just Dance 3 Baha Men Who Let The Dogs Out

20. [Just Dance 3] Ubisoft meets Nintendo - Just Mario

A few popular songs . . .

28. JUST DANCE 2014 | HAPPY by Pharrell Williams

29. Just Dance 4 - One Direction : What makes you beautiful

Holiday inspired . . .

And some oldies but goodies!

The students always seem to find their favourites so often, I'll let the V.I.P (or students of the week) choose the brain break.

I also like to switch it up by turning any of these songs into a freeze dance game. Rather than have the kids sit out if they move, I just have them dance in a designated area (like the carpet) so that they are still moving!

In completely unrelated news (because I am too tired to start another blogpost!), I have completed my Daily Language Back to School pack for 2nd Grade.

This pack contains 20 days of questions that review the 1st grade common core state standards - just print and hand out. These kind of reviews are great for the beginning of the year because not only do they give kids a refresher, but they can also act as a quick assessment tool - at a glance, you know where most students stand.

This pack reviews both language and reading foundational skills. Some of the topics covered include:

- upper- & lowercase letters- common, proper & possessive nouns- singular & plural nouns- past, present & future tense- writing sentences with proper structure (capitalization, & end punctuation)- root words- sorting words into categories- long & short vowel sounds- initial, medial vowel & final sounds- digraphs & blends- sight words- syllables

If you're interested, you can click {HERE} for a closer look, thanks!

Have a great rest of the week!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Back to School Daily Language for First Grade

Have you been shopping? I just picked up some great new clipart (my weakness, apparently) and can't wait to start creating.

Actually, that's not true. I've already used some in the new unit I just finished, moments ago. This has been in the works for far too long, and I've finally completed it: Daily Language 1 (Back to School) 1st Grade.

It comes with 20 pages that review the Kindergarten CCSS, in order to prep students for the new curriculum. It's not only a great tool to review what students *may* have forgotten over the summer, it also works as a great assessment tool, showing whether students are where they are supposed to be.

Here's a look at some of the pages:

I kept it at five questions per day because I wanted it to be manageable for the kiddos who really need it.

If you're interested, click {HERE} - it will be on sale for the next few hours!

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Back to School Sale 2.0

Are you ready to get your shop on . . . again? It's time for round two of the Teachers Pay Teachers Back to School Sale, but this one is only for one day!

Thanks to Amy Lemons for the cute graphic!
Here are some of my new and/or favourite units:

Don't forget to use the promo code "BOOST" for additional savings!

Monday, 18 August 2014

Back to School Teacher Essentials

Well, it's almost that time . . . back to school. I know a lot of schools are already in session, but my district has two more glorious weeks.

As I've been thinking about the new school year, I've realized that there are some old staples that I constantly reach for when shopping. Here's a small list of some of my back to school essentials.

1. Mr. Sketch Markers

via Amazon

If you've taught preschool, primary, intermediate, or high school, chances are, you've come across Mr. Sketch markers. For making anchor charts, bulletin board headers or art project samples, in my opinion, Mr. Sketch can't be beat. And let's be honest, doesn't a whiff of these markers take you back to your own kindergarten days?

2. A calendar/planner  

via Amazon

For organization at a glance, nothing beats a great desk calendar. There are so many impromptu meetings and events that pop up during the year, I also find it handy to carry around a small planner.

via Amazon

via Amazon

I love the quality and style of Moleskine, but for something cheaper, Peter Pauper Press always has cute designs and styles.

3. Hand sanitizer

via Bath & Body Works

I don't know about you, but I always seem to get a nasty cough in October. To try and combat this, I always carry tons of hand sanitizer. If you're like me and dislike the typical sanitizer smell, try out  Bath & Body Works. They have very affordable PocketBacs that come in a variety of smells.

4. Kleenex

via Amazon
This may seem like a no brainer, but last year was a really awful cold and flu season and I saw a ton of classrooms RUN OUT of Kleenex. Do you know how awful that is when you have a class full of coughing, sneezing kindergarteners? I'm not sure how the Kleenex supply works in your classroom, but make sure you don't run out!

5. Teaching Clothes

via J. Crew Factory

I don't know about you, but I have very specific *work* clothes and *home* clothes - I don't like to mix the two up. It can get expensive, so I like to add a few new pieces each year, that will hopefully last me awhile.

6. A Teacher Plan book

via C. Jayne Teach

Whether you use a simple Wal-Mart binder or a gorgeous C. Jayne Teach Teacher Anchor, it is so important to keep your lessons and units organized.

7. Snacks

via Amazon

I always find that I am so busy during the day (even at lunchtime) that too often, eating gets pushed to the side. Keep some healthy snacks handy for those late days working at your desk. Or keep some chocolate covered almonds handy for your sweet tooth!

8. A Water Bottle

via SIGG

Going hand in hand with eating, I also find that I often don't make the effort to drink enough water during the day. Don't get me wrong, I love water and usually drink gallons of it at home, but when you're at school and everything is go-go-go, I sometimes forget to hydrate.

I usually bring a SIGG bottle with me because I find them almost completely leak-proof, but I've seen some cute glass ones lately that I may need to try.

via bkr
9. New Books

Don't teach the same things over and over again; it's boring for you and boring for the students. The easiest way to switch up your routine is to grab some new books for your classroom. One I still need to pick up? The latest pigeon book!

via Amazon

10. A Positive Attitude

There will be tough days, but always keep a positive attitude - for yourself and your students. Remember: you are a teacher, you are making a difference, and you are doing a great job!

What are your teacher essentials? Let me know in the comments below!

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Best Ocean Books for Kids

I have finally completed by ocean themed classroom decor, so to celebrate, I thought I'd compile a list of favourite ocean books for kids.

When it comes to the classroom, I love a good theme, so I love having themed books (fiction and non-fiction) ready to go.

1. I'm the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry

via Amazon
From Amazon: " . . . A bright blue giant squid cruises through the ocean, proudly noting that he is bigger than all the creatures he encounters. From shrimp to shark, he repeats his refrain, I'm bigger than…, sounding remarkably similar to a three-year-old cheerfully cataloging his world. Briefly dismayed when swallowed by a voracious whale (who has also swallowed up everyone else whole including the shark), the squid rallies by noting, I'm the biggest thing in this whale! . . ."

Last year, this book must have been one of the most checked out books from the school library - the kindergarten kids loved it!

2. Flotsam by David Wiesner

via Amazon
From Amazon: " . . . A bright, science-minded boy goes to the beach equipped to collect and examine flotsam - anything floating that has been washed ashore. Bottles, lost toys, small objects of every description are among his usual finds. But there's no way he could have prepared for one particular discovery: a barnacle-encrusted underwater camera, with its own secrets to share ...and to keep . . ."

This one's for the older kids. I love using David Wiesner's wordless picture books to teach students about inferring.

3. Down, Down, Down: A Journey to the Bottom of the Sea by Steve Jenkins

via Amazon
From Amazon: ". . . Down, Down, Down captures the vastness, complexity and mysteriousness of the deep without over-simplifying the new research and astonishing discoveries. This oceanography lesson unfolds as a story in which the reader descends from the blue surface down nearly 36,000 feet (that’s seven miles down!) to the Marianas Trench, while meeting Flying Squids and Loosejaw Stoplight Fish along the way . . ."

I've said it before and I will say it again, Steve Jenkins has some of the BEST non-fiction books for kids.

4. A Swim Through the Sea by Kristin Joy Pratt

via Amazon
From Amazon: "Praised by Jacques Cousteau, this book, illustrated and written by a16 year-old, is a classic introduction to the marine habitat. This 1994 alphabet and alliteration book continues to be a favorite of kids, parents, and teachers everywhere. It is truly an exceptional swim through an alphabet of sea creatures . . ."

Although this is an alphabet book, it could be used with older students when learning about the ocean because it touches on a wide variety of ocean life.

5. Swimmy by Leo Lionni

via Amazon
From Amazon: "Deep in the sea there lives a happy school of little fish. Their watery world is full of wonders, but there is also danger, and the little fish are afraid to come out of hiding . . . until Swimmy comes along. Swimmy shows his friends how—with ingenuity and team work—they can overcome any danger . . ."

How could I not include Swimmy?

This is such a small sampling of all the great books for an ocean theme that I may have to come back and do a 2.0 blog post!

If you're looking for some ocean themed decor, you can check out my bundle pack by clicking {HERE} or any of the pictures below.

Enjoy the rest of the week - the school year sure is coming up soon!