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The Paperback Pirate

When I say I'm blessed to work with some of the best, that is an understatement. I work with some pretty amazing educators, our specials teachers included. Our art teacher at Hilltop is not only an art teacher but also an author for several books available on Amazon and clip art available on TpT

His most recent endeavor was a book he wrote to be used in our classroom to promote reading.  This story is titled The Paperback Pirate and it was right up my alley because I'm all about pretending I'm in the Caribbean.  Yo Ho Ho, It's a pirate's life for me.  Plus I love being creative and in my new job that is hard sometimes, so I was happy to join a first grade class and make this so fun! 

So first things first, we had to create a pirate ship complete with port holes so that our cute kiddos could look through.  We set the ship up in front of my door, so as they entered the ship they would be in my room (or on the ship).  

Now lets back up.   The first thing we did was read the story.  It's a digital book, so we just projected up on the board.   Geoff also created mini printable versions of the story for the students to follow along.

 Next a pirate's scroll mysteriously appeared telling the students that were to go on a hunt for their treasure.  As they rounded the corner on their search for the Paperback Pirate's treasure, they ran right into the ship and Pirate himself.  
The Paperback Pirate let the kids know they would need to let him know the secret message before entering his ship, so they were off to unscramble.   We added this in, so students could practice their knowledge of sentence structure, their phonics and reading.  As soon as they could unscramble the message, they were to run back to the pirate and whisper it into his ear in order to board the ship.  
Here is the first little matey, reciting the message. 
 Once all students had boarded the ship the Pirate told them his treasure was hidden around the room.  They would be able to identify the treasure because they would see Paperback Pirate bookmarks with each piece of treasure.  The students began their search.  Our art teacher gifted each classroom with 6 new paperback books for the classroom libraries.  He drew cute bookmarks that matched the story and those were in each book.  Below you can see a lucky matey who found some treasure. 
The students were to rush the treasure back to the treasure chest.  Once all books were found, the pirate let the kids know that they would be able to keep the treasure and add it to their classroom libraries.  

It was such a fun activity and great was to promote reading.  
If you would like to grab this adorable activity, just click any of the images below.

For more pirate fun:


First Grade Phonics

 I recently posted some photos on Instagram of Orton Gillingham Phonics activities that I've been doing with my students. As a classroom teacher we've always used word families and reviewed vowel sounds in a million different ways, but as the reading specialist I've learned while our previous way works for probably 85% of our kids, the other 15% learn them for the moment, but never really master the sounds or truly have an understanding for the way words work.  While Orton has often been used strictly for intervention purposes, The Institute for Multi-Sensory Education, where I was trained, has developed training for use of these activities in the whole class setting.  Our teachers are using many of the Orton methods in their classrooms and seeing success they haven't seen in the past, even after just five weeks of school.

     One of the most popular practices in Orton is a review of the phonics skills learned.  This is called the three part drill.  I haven't had a chance to post on this drill, but I found a good post by The Teaching Critic. When you finish the three part drill, if your students need vowel review, they recommend doing the "Vowel Intensive Drill."  I love this drill, because it's simple, and tells you so much about your students' knowledge of vowels.  To begin, each student needs vowel tents. I like to color code the tents so everyone has the same color a, the same e, the same i, etc.   The reason for having them the same color is you can easily scan the room when they hold up their vowel and know whether or not they are understanding.  To start the drill, you can call out the following:

Teacher says: /a/.    The students would then hold up the A and say, A says /a/.   You can continue by saying short vowel sounds and scanning the room as students hold up the vowel that says that sound.  After reviewing the short vowel sounds, you can then move on to a bit harder skill.  The teacher would now say a chunk, such as /et/.   The students would then hold up the E and say, E says /e/.  The teacher could say /ug/ and the students would then hold up the U and say U says /u/.   Finally to further challenge your students you give a short vowel word.  The teacher may say: pot.  The students would then hold up the O and say, O says /o/.   This is a great way to quickly scan your room and not only see the students that know their vowel sounds but also those who can isolate the vowel sounds in words.  To grab vowel tents for your kiddos CLICK HERE!

A video I posted the other day also drew lots of questions.  Where did I get the hands, why is she tapping them before writing? When we teach our students to listen for sounds in words while spelling, we teach them to tap them out.  In Orton when writing sentences, students pound out sentences, as well as syllables, but they tap out each syllable to spell.  As you can see above, we are just practicing one syllable short vowel words.  The little girl above chose a picture card of gum.  She is right handed so she is given a left hand to tap out her sounds.  It's very important that students use both sides of the body and brain.   If this had been a two syllable word like catnip, she would pound cat, then tap /c/ /a/ /t/ then pound nip and tap /n/ /i/ /p/.   After tapping out the sounds I had the kiddos use the boxes to write the sounds and then blend them after and check their word. 
Grab this freebie below: 


Decorate and Motivate

I love using motivational quotes and cute prints around my classroom to decorate.  You can refer to them throughout your day to build kids up or just laugh. I also just love looking at them. They inspire me.
So I thought I'd offer you are few cute prints for your classroom free. 
To grab the prints above fill out the form below.
For other prints that may match your classroom click the images below.  


Back to School Buys

This post contains some affiliate links. This means I earn a small compensation when someone clicks the link and makes a purchase.  
If you are a shopper like me then Back to School is exciting in more ways than one. I love finding new items to take to school and make teaching a little easier, prettier and even more fun.  I've created a list of some of my favorite items for back to school. 

So I'm jumping on the cute backpack bandwagon.  3 of my cutie pie blogger friends own it and after seeing my friend Stacey's in real life, I decided it would be great bag to take to and from school each day.  

I also bought theis cute little pencil pouch to carry both my writing tools and office supplies home and back.  The have some really cute pencil cases at this site.  It was really hard to choose but the tassels get me every time. 

I also bought this cute lunch box.   I love that it's nice and roomy.  
I also bought these cute little containers on Amazon.  I was inspired by a video on Facebook to create healthy meals ahead of time in these containers and grab them out of the fridge.  

I of course could not pass up this great deal on Amazon.  You will not find this many dry erase markers for this cheap, EVER!   
I am also super excited about this next purchase. If you don't have an Amazon Echo Dot for your classroom, then you better watch this video by Kayse Morris.  She has 50 ways to use these in your classroom and just the first few (ie. set a timer, spell words, play music, picking a number) and I was sold.  I'm telling you, Kayse is genius with this one. 
Another thing I absolutely love and use all the time is my polaroid instant printer from Erin Condren's site.  I love taking pictures of my students, events at school, etc. and having this to quickly print a cute little photo that the students can use for writing and other assignments.  It uses an app on my phone and I can easily print any photo on my camera roll. 

So these are few of my favorites for this back to school year.  I hope you all have an amazing school year.  
Happy Teaching! 


Sound Strips Freebie

Do you love the Target Dollar Spot as much as I do. I mean at what other store can you spend 50 dollars before even passing the first real aisle?   I certainly couldn't pass up these cute little letter clips and knew I would find many ways to use them.  One of the activities I created were these Sound Strips.  Grab a FREE set of sound strips that can be used in preschool, kindergarten, and even the beginning of first grade for some kiddos. This activity also comes with an "I Can" card and directions. If you can find the clips, you could always just buy clothespins and label them with letters, or just laminate the cards and have your students use a dry erase marker to write the corresponding letter. 
Fill out the form below to grab this activity.  This will also give you access to future freebies and ideas through my newsletter.

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