Category Archives: Uncategorized

An Epic 6-12 ELA Giveaway!


If you’re  a Middle School or High School ELA teacher, you won’t want to miss this Epic ELA Giveaway!

Mary Beth from Brain Waves Instruction and Jackie from Room 213 have teamed up to organize an amazing prize package featuring top-notch resources from 17 Secondary ELA TpT sellers!

The winner will receive a collection of resources  for reading, writing, research, poetry, speech-writing, media literary, and more! The best part: all resources in the prize package are non-text-specific so you can quickly and easily integrate them with your own curriculum! See why this giveaway is EPIC?!?


Check out the Winner’s Prize Package here:

Room 213:  Close Reading Lessons 

Brain Waves Instruction:  Substitute Teacher Toolkit

Study All Knight: A Flip Book for the Research Process

The Classroom Sparrow: A Speech Writing Mini-Book

Julie Faulkner: Graphic Organizers for Focused Reading

The Daring English Teacher: Editable English Tests

Presto Plans: Grammar Resource Bundle

The Language Arts Classroom: Write a Tabloid for a Mobile Device

The OCBeach Teacher: Reading Strategies for any Text

Stacey Lloyd: Figurative Language Posters

Brynn Allison: Poetry Constructed Responses

Literary Sherri: Reading Response Journal for any Text

The ELA Buffet: Poetry Close Reading

Tracee Orman: Figurative Language Interactive Reading Notebook

Addie Williams: Media Literacy and Advertising Pack

Juggling ELA: Journal Prompts Task Cards

Secondary Sara: Movie v Text Bundle

Did I mention you get up to 50 chances to win! Just follow each seller on TpT, Facebook, and her blog. Every click gives you a chance to win the amazing bundle of prizes! The winner (AKA “Luckiest ELA Teacher on Earth!”) will be announced on Sunday, February 7th at 5pm EST. Follow a few fabulous Secondary Teacher-Authors here . . . and best of luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Plan Now for a Brrr-illiant January!

As we enjoy the last of the busy school days with our students prior to winter break, now is a good time to think about January and helping our students look forward to returning to school! Here are a few things I do each year to prepare:

I introduce a new read-aloud book that we will start in January by reading an exciting paragraph or two that will hook students, then I display the book in the front of the room as a visual reminder that we have something to look forward to! The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo is a wonderful read-aloud (yes, I read picture books to my middle schoolers!). Love that Dog and Hate that Cat by Sharon Creech are great January read-alouds that get students laughing (and thinking . . . and writing).  Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix is a riveting read-aloud for middle schoolers that hooks students on a series — many of them will go on to read the rest of the series — 7 books in all — on their own!

Give students a few minutes during the last day or two to cut out paper snowflakes while you read a book aloud. Provide students with either coffee filters or copy paper (cut into 8×8 squares or 4×4 squares) to make snowflake-cutting more manageable. Use double-sided tape to hang the snowflakes around the room. You may also want to hang a few from the ceiling with fishing wire. Add a few white paper lanterns from the ceiling and return to a Winter Wonderland in January!


Take a few minutes on the last day of school prior to break to have students clean and organize their own desks, tables, cubbies, and work spaces. I also organize my own work spaces and clean the tops of all surfaces (hello, Lysol Dual Action Disinfecting Wipes!). There’s something really energizing about coming back to an extra-clean room! Students seem better able to focus and concentrate when their classroom is clean and organized – it’s a nice re-set button to push!

Bring in a couple of lamps. January’s gray days can be brightened with a little extra light in our classrooms, and a couple of colorful, fun table lamps or floor lamps add an ambience that is much more effective for learning than harsh overhead lights!


Plan a fun activity for the first or second week in January and build it up on the last day of school before break. Activities that work well in January include marshmallow catapults, Snow Ball (a fun day filled with snow-related activities and read-alouds), and snowman-building challenges (students work in teams to build snowmen using balls of newspaper that can later be recycled).


January is the perfect time to either reinforce or re-establish classroom expectations, so I also plan a couple of fun ice-breaker-type activities for our first days back that will provide an opportunity to review classroom rules, routines, and procedures.

Planning ahead for January can help both you and your students look forward to returning to school after a long winter’s nap break! What do you do to re-energize your class in January?

Literary Sherri

Literary Sherri TPT Super Cyber Sale December 1-2

Plan Now for a Brrr-illiant January was written by Literary Sherri.

If you enjoyed this post, connect with me on Bloglovin, FacebookPinterest, and TpT!



Winter and Christmas Brain Breaks

Header 2

If you are a teacher, no matter what age group, you will know the frustrations of the time leading up to the Christmas break! Yes, it is a time of festivities and excitement and these are the exact reasons for the frustrations. Teaching ANYTHING during this time is difficult challenging impossible. Students are so busy day dreaming about the magical happenings going on in The North Pole, or whether the marshmallow they left in their mom’s bed by accident constitutes as being “naughty” or whether or not to give Tommy a Christmas gift without it being too obvious of the feelings involved.

Winter and Christmas Brain Breaks

These last few weeks can give even the coolest, calmest and most collected teachers a few extra grey hairs. It’s not exactly the right thing to give in to the excitement and proclaim that the two weeks leading up to Christmas break is  “Movie Time,” (although I do know some teachers who did *frown*).

To help to prevent you from falling into ‘that’ group, I have compiled a list of fun Christmas/Winter brain breaks that can be used as soon as you see your students drifting off into a world of elves, tinsel and cookies.

These YouTube videos offer lots of fun with movement to music. To me there is nothing better that jumping up and moving to a catchy tune to get the blood pumping and the brain juices working! Have a look at the links provided below:
Just Dance Kids 2 – Jingle Bells is a simple yet effective dance routine for younger students. The same movements are repeated so students will catch on quickly.

Winter and Christmas Brain Breaks - Teaching 2 Step

The Dancing Christmas Tree is also perfect for young children. The words are simple and repetition gives students an opportunity to learn them quickly and easily to sing along with the movements.

The dancing Christmas Tree

Jingle Bell Dance. This version of Jingle Bells has such a catchy beat! Students will be very excited to jump up and join in the moves. I have to admit… my favorite part is “Weeeeee.”

Jingle Bells

Just Dance 3 Santa Clone is a more vigorous dance where students need to copy Santa’s dance moves. These moves are more complicated and vary quite a bit and change frequently so I would recommend it for slightly older students, maybe Upper Elementary. The movements are fun and not your average swaying of the arms. The dancing only starts 30 seconds into the 3 minute video, so you might want to avoid students standing around waiting for the dancing to start by forwarding to the exciting bit.

Santa Clone

Let’s not forget about The Sid Shuffle or Continental Drift. Sid, from Ice Age, talks students through his fun and energetic dance.

Sid Shuffle

I would recommend watching YouTube videos in Safe Share. This site requires you to paste the desired video URL onto their page in order to generate a safe, ad-free video. There is a grey frame around the video which blocks out surrounding images and videos. You can also still enlarge the screen to full screen mode.

Safe Share image

For those who don’t have facilities to show a video for a brain break or want to vary the activities, I also loved using this Snowball Fight brain break with my 5th graders, but it can be used for older students as well. This one does not involve following dance moves. I also used it as an informal assessment to check if students grasped the concept I was teaching (while they were thinking of presents and Christmas trees). This is how it works:

After completing an explanation, let’s use ‘properties of quadrilaterals’ as an example, have students draw a quadrilateral on one side of a page. Then on the other side they write down the properties of that quadrilateral. Students then scrunch the page into a “snowball.” I would then tell them to stand up and throw three “snowballs” at one another. Once they had done that (and had a good break) they would each pick up a “snowball,” flatten it out and then write down the properties of the shape on the page. It is a self correcting activity as the answers are on the back of the page.

I’m sure that you (yes, you should also get involved in the fun) and your students are going to love these little brain breaks and they make the time up until Christmas productive and frustration free!

Margaux signature

Elf on a Shelf in the Classroom

Hi ya’ll! Amanda here, from Daisy Designs, ready to talk about Elf on a Shelf in the classroom!


Do you use Elf on a Shelf at home? I know it is a HUGE trend right now and, honestly, I wish I could have had one when I was growing up! It is SUCH a neat idea and I love it when my kinders get excited to tell me all about their home elf and then see their excited faces when we talk about our school elf!

First of all, Elf on a Shelf, the complete kit with book and elf is like $40. Goodness. I was reluctant. I knew I wanted one but I was NOT about to spend $40 on an elf. I do not have kids at home, so this would not be something used the whole month everyday. It would only be used at school for the 15 days we have school… which to me… I don’t know… $40 is a lot of money! Then it hit me… These kids don’t know the difference between the “name-brand” elf and the dollar store elf. I mean, to them, they are all magic elves. So, thank you Dollar Tree! I snagged a cheap stuffed elf (I think mine is totally cuter and way less creepy anyway…), and borrowed a book from a friend who has the elf at home. WIN!


Meet Alex the Elf. Well, that is his name this year. I feel like that is totally the most boring name for an elf, but that’s what the class voted on! I voted for Peanut, but no one listens to me… He is a little clumsy. Since I went with the dollar store elf instead of the name brand elf, he is a little top heavy. I will say, it is not as easy to keep him standing, or sitting, or pretty much anything. But I would say it was totally worth save $39.

So how can you use this baby in the classroom? I swear to you, I’ve had him for 4 days, and behavior is DEFINITELY different in my classroom. We have been using our elf for writing activities, graphing activities, and he brings them treats, which I will get to later.

How to Use an Elf in the Classroom:

Change his handwriting.
I’m using a curly-q style hand writing because the kids will DEFINITELY tell that it is my handwriting otherwise. I was scouring Pinterest for elf ideas and was surprised at how many wrote in the regular hand writing! My kids would not be fooled.


Don’t FORGET. You can’t forget to move him! Like you have room for another thing to remember to do everyday up there in your busy brain… but seriously… if you’re going to do it, you have to keep up with it.

You are going to give your kids treats this time of the year anyway, so make some of them from the elf! Mine brought them stickers the other day (which I forgot to snap a picture of). He was covered in Santa stickers and the kids LOVED earning them on their behavior sticker charts.

Picture2In this picture, Alex brought us Rudolph band-aids from the North Pole. You’d think he brought cash money the way the kids were acting about these band-aids. And since there are only 10 in a box, (well, 9, since Alex fell on the way up to hanging by his tag) they didn’t fake injuries to get them. They are saving them for “real” emergencies.

And don’t forget… elves have tiny elf ears. It hurts them if the class gets too loud. (Quietest day ever).

Also in this picture is something I took the time to do: held my kids accountable. Remember, it isn’t “you” talking… It’s the elf. If you have specific kids who need reminders (like the Sariyah on this list), they’ll remember it more coming from a stuffed elf. Seriously.

I haven’t had any students TOUCH the elf yet… but poor Alex fell today (clumsy guy). I had to think quick on my feet. My kids were panicking (and a few were laughing… they’ll get a note from Alex tomorrow…). I mean, I can’t touch him and pick him up to put him back. So he stayed there. In the middle of the floor. Fortunately I had a peppermint life-saver, which of course save lives and are elf vitamins. When he wakes up from his nap, he can take his vitamin and feel strong again tomorrow. My kindergarten logic worked and my class was totally okay with it. They were also pretty funny tip toeing around him so not to wake him up.

Picture3Life-savers save lives, people.


I have some plans for the upcoming week to do with clumsy Alex. Here they are!

misstiina_csh_zerotonine_1 Alex will give the kids Christmas pencils!

misstiina_csh_zerotonine_2 Alex will ride our toy train and bring Polar Express!

misstiina_csh_zerotonine_3 Alex will be taking a nap in the tissue box.

misstiina_csh_zerotonine_4 Alex will bring marshmallows for hot chocolate!

misstiina_csh_zerotonine_5 Alex will bring his favorite Christmas movie!

I hope these ideas help you with your Elf on a Shelf planning for your classroom. It has certainly made a difference in their behavior the past several days. Too bad he has to leave after Christmas, am I right?!

Amanda Daisy Designs

Favorite Winter Read Alouds in the Middle School Classroom

T2 Blog 1

I start each of my middle school ELA classes with a read aloud.  I’ve found that it’s become an essential part of the culture of the classroom.  While I read to students, they complete short vocabulary, grammar, and reading comprehension activities.  Reading to students sets a calming tone at the start of the class period and fosters an environment where reading is celebrated.

In the winter months, I like to infuse some seasonal read alouds into class.  Here are some of my favorites…



T2 Blog 2

T2 Blog 3

(Click here for printable copies of each poem.)


T2 Blog 4


T2 Blog 5

Yes, middle schoolers love picture books, too.

There are many benefits to reading aloud to students including motivating students to read on their own, increasing their accessibility to texts, encouraging higher-level thinking, enhancing their background knowledge and improving their own reading fluency.  However, my favorite reason for reading aloud to students is that it creates a community of readers…and that always warms my heart on a cold winter day!

Brain Waves Instruction

Logo - Brain Waves - rectangle

P.S.  I’ve put together all 3 poems into a printable resource. Click here and print for seasonal read aloud fun!

Manic Monday with Jenny K.

shaving cream blog post 1.002
Manic Mondays–ain’t that the truth! (sorry english teachers I had to). There are some things about Monday that just never change. First and foremost, you need a large cup of joe. Make-up is optional and usually doesn’t make the cut and, last but not least, it comes again every week (darn it). Of course, if we had a three day weekend we’d be calling “Monday” terrible Tuesdays! So we just have to face it–real life happens each week whether we like it or not.

The Bangles pretty accurately captured the Manic Monday feeling…

Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 1.43.20 PMSooo… I don’t know about you, but having something fun and easy to do to ease back into the week is awesome. Attach FREE to “fun and easy” and it might actually start to feel like a  Friday!( I know, I’m talking foolishness for a Monday).

By now you might already know that the Holiday TPT eBooks are out. These eBooks are a THANK YOU to all the teachers who support other teachers on their Teachers Pay Teachers journey. The amazing Rachel Lynette dreamed these up and now it’s a holiday tradition going on 4 ebook featured image.001

My gift (did you see the group blog post on Friday?) is a paid product I changed to a forever freebie and involves shaving cream! You can get the product HERE or you can find it in the eBook for grades 3-5 along with resources from 49 other teachers.

Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 1.43.20 PMMy free product is my all-time favoriate “magic trick” that uses shaving cream to create marbelized paper. And then, I show you how to create Christmas ornaments with the beautiful marbelized paper. If you don’t have time to make the ornaments, you can use the same technique to make snowglobes for January to celebrate winter. (Did I really just say celebrate winter? –I need to go to bed!) You can find that lesson HERE (it’s also free).

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 1.49.23 PM

This post is a link up to Classroom Freebies for their “Manic Monday” blog posts.

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Thanks for reading and for making art with your kids!

Art with Jenny K Round Logo


Jenny K. Signature



This post is written by Jenny K. If you enjoyed this post join Jenny K. on BloglovinFacebook, and/or Pinterest.

Kindergarten Writing: Thanksgiving Style!

Hey ya’ll! Amanda from Daisy Designs here!


Today I feel like I need to take a moment to bring to you some teaching strategies for writing in Kindergarten. It is one of the hardest things to teach, in my opinion! I will be adding images to this blog post later today as my phone is on the fritz and that’s where all my awesome pictures are! Looks like I’ll be going to my classroom today to snap some new pictures. Come back later to check them out!

As with any grade and any subject, you will have a TON of varying levels. In Kindergarten those levels are even more different. You’ll have students that cannot form any letters at the beginning of the year and you’ll have some that are writing full sentences right from the get go. Here are some different types of writing activities that I use in my classroom to get kids writing, no matter what level they are!

1. Sentence Starters:
These are all over TpT, free and paid, from multiple sellers for multiple topics. These are no-prep, print and go sheets where students get the practice of forming letters by tracing the beginning of the sentence and practice their independent writing by writing in their own ending. I think about these as early “writing prompts.” I also like using these with our new sight words. If we are learning “can,” use a sentence starter with the word “can” in it! Great practice for writing and reading those tricky sight words!


2. Cut and Paste:
There are a lot of ways to use a cut and paste system. I have also found all over TpT free and paid resources that are no-prep from multiple sellers. Most of the time, there is a full sentence to trace, write on their own, and then cut and paste in the correct order. This is great practice for getting those words in order and getting students really looking at the structure of the sentence, whether they realize it or not! I also have used cut and paste where students cut words out to finish a sentence. I love these! This gets students reading the sentence and finding the missing word, usually with help from a picture. For example, “I see a ___.” followed by a little picture of a cat. For a more challenging activity, I use cut and paste sentences to make books, usually in Science or Social Studies. Students cut words out and with guidance can place the words in the correct order. Some teachers may not consider this a writing activity, but in my classroom, it is. You see, it gets students forming sentences, not just reading them, and that is definitely a writing skill!


3. Luck of the Draw:
Making a writing activity into a game is always a fun idea for the classroom. I take a stack of flash cards (usually index cards or Post-It notes that I wrote on) with words we are working on. Students take their cards and move them around to form a sentence. They then write their sentence and illustrate it! The way to make this a successful writing activity for 5 year olds, is to limit the number of cards within each student’s stack. I usually pick only ONE word that would change within each sentence. The adjective in each sentence is the most fun to change. For example, “I see the ___ turkey,” and providing multiple cards to draw out to describe the turkey. The noun is also a great one to change: “I can go to the ___” and providing multiple cards for the place! I recommend putting the changeable words in a different color that way the students who are struggling reading the words can figure out more easily which words need to switched for a new sentence. This is also a great activity to differentiate. For my students who are struggling with specific words, throwing those words in gives them a fun way to practice them. For my students are performing higher than the others, I make their sentences more elaborate: “I want to see the ___ and ___,” or “I like the ___ and ___ turkey.” My kiddos love when I give them flash cards.


4. Brainstorming Graphic Organizers:
Kindergarteners ❤ Anchor Charts
They do. My kids love for me to get my big chart paper out because they all love to contribute to the class’s idea chart! Here is something I have learned this year: make them appealing. Simply making a list on a big sheet of paper is boring and hard for them to read later. But making your chart paper look like an ear of corn and every corn kernel is an idea to write about? Gold.

5. Fill in the Blank Charts or Sheets:
We all know students will using fill-in-the-blanks for the rest of their academic career. Start now, people. It isn’t always easy. For Kindergarten, I like to start by making a chart where everyone gets the same sentence and the same blanks. We then get to write in our own sentences. For example, “____ is thankful for ___.” Seriously, write that 20 times so each of your 20 students can fill in their own sentence. Now that we are in November, I can have students go back and write down their sentence after we make the chart, but this is a great chart to continue all year round! Even in the beginning of the year: “___ felt ___ on the first day of school.”

6. Primary Journals:
This is definitely a great one to try! Depending on your class, you can begin using a journal at any time throughout the year. With my current class of kinders, I needed to wait till after the first 9 weeks. But other classes were able to start earlier and some haven’t started using them yet! This all depends on your group. I sometimes use journaling as a center or as a morning work activity. Students write about a topic and illustrate. I usually start out our journals with a sentence starter that I write on the board that way they can copy for a bit and then independently finish their journal entry. It is certainly a process to get them thinking independently on writing and using a journal is such a good way to get them excited! They get to write about whatever they want (most of the time…) and they love looking back at the things they’ve written about earlier in the year. Also, can you say NO-prep?! “Get your journals out, class, and write about your Thanksgiving meal!” Easy as pie! 😉

7. Fun Publishing:
I LOVE to publish my students’ writing in a lot of different ways. In primary grades specifically, crafts are always great! They get kids excited, it works on listening and following directions, and it helps with fine motor skills. When writing about what you are thankful for, write each thing on a colorful turkey feather! Then make a cute turkey to glue them onto! Next week after Thanksgiving, students will be making a brown paper bag table where they can recreate their Thanksgiving feast in words and drawings. We can’t wait!

There are certainly MANY more activities to try with your class, but this is just a short list of some tried and true writing activities that are working in my classroom down here in sunny Florida (that’s right… it is STILL very sunny this time of year). Comment below with your favorite strategy from this list or comment below with another strategy/activity that you love to use! Can’t wait to hear from you!

Amanda Signature

Favorite Thanksgiving Read Alouds

Thanksgiving is the holiday that seems to get overlooked a lot. We just finished all the fun Halloween books and we are getting all our winter and Christmas books ready. Don’t forget that there are some great Thanksgiving books that your students will love!

Thanksgiving_colorgraphics by A Sketchy Guy

One of my favorite read alouds is  Thanksgiving at the Tappletons by  Eileen Spinelli.

This is a story about all the trouble that come along with fixing Thanksgiving dinner. The turkey goes sliding out the door and the other holiday foods get ruined in humorous ways. So what do the Tappletons do? They eat a nontraditional meal for dinner.

I really like the older version of the story with people instead of wolves. After reading the book we would make No Bake Pumpkin Pies. I would put the recipe on the overhead and the students would copy it for their recipe book. Click on the title for the recipe.

A Turkey for Thanksgiving by Eve Bunting  is a fun story about having a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner.

Mr. Moose goes out looking for a turkey to have for Thanksgiving dinner. The rest of Mr. Moose’s friends come along for the journey. Mr. Moose finds Turkey and brings him home for dinner. After getting to the Moose’s home, Turkey realizes he is a guest and not the dinner.

If you are looking for nonfiction books there are some great ones to share with your students.

Thanksgiving by Gail Gibbons is a nonfiction book that gives facts about Thanksgiving. There are facts about the Pilgrims and Native Americans. Gibbons also describes traditions we have with Thanksgiving.

Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving by Laurie Anderson is about Sarah Hale and her persistent pursuit in making Thanksgiving a national holiday. It took her 38 years of letter writing to get Thanksgiving recognized as a national holiday. This is an easy book to read for young students.

I have created a turkey story map that you can use with the fiction stories. Click on the image below to get a copy of the story map. If you like this activity, I also have a Thanksgiving Turkey Unit that includes this story map and other turkey activities.

turkey map_Page_1Let me know what your favorite Thanksgiving story is.


It’s Halloween…help!!’s Halloween and I need a fun project QUICK!

Halloween door posterThis will save the day…Haunted House Classroom Mosaic Door Poster

Materials: haunted house mosaic door poster (click HERE), copy paper, colored pencils, markers or crayons and tape.

I wanted to design something that would make your life as the teacher really easy for Halloween. I know teachers love the “idea” of decorating their doors for holidays but the thought of actually coming up with an idea, gathering the supplies and then making the door often gets marked off the “to-do” list before it’s created or just never even makes it on the list. This project is very easy for the teacher and allows all the kids in your class to be involved. There are two variations to this poster (making for even more easy options). The first, foremost and MOST easy is to just print the colored pieces of the poster, have your students cut them out, put it all together, and hang it up! Easy-peazy-lemon-squeezy!!! Here are a few pictures of what the door looks like if you like this option (or are crunched for time). This poster is a product available in my Teacher Pay Teachers store

hallloween door poster haunted house

The second, and funner, version is to have the kids color the poster themselves.  This makes for a great classroom cooperative activity. In this variation of the door poster students (also included in my TPT product packet), the kids will color the pieces, cut them out and add their faces to the windows (this makes it extra fun) and then put the poster together and hang it up! There are 30 places to add kid faces but if you don’t have that many students (hallelujah !!!) then just have the kids color the blank windows yellow. Take a look at this detail…haunted house door poster

With both posters I’ve left room for kick plates at the bottom of your door and soft close hinges at the top. If you want the entire door to be covered, I recommend using butcher paper to cover the entire door and then add the poster to the paper. Once the poster is up simply cut around the door knob and be the envy of your hallway! Here are some “action shots” of the coloring version of the poster…haunted house door poster

click HERE to view this poster in my store.

Art with Jenny K Round Logo


Jenny K. Signature



This post is written by Jenny K. If you enjoyed this post join Jenny K. on BloglovinFacebook, and/or Pinterest.