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Are you all ready to go back to school?  Don't you agree that Cyber Monday should technically be a holiday and thus give us a day off school? I mean who can search for deals while teaching children to read? I tried to stalk some sales for you today, to make it easier to shop tomorrow.  Below are gift ideas for all the special people in your life.  

Lulu Jr. Illustory - Craft Kit How fun is this kit and it promotes literacy. A gift that makes my heart happy.  

Dude Perfect Super Smash Ball My child is obsessed with everything Dude Perfect. 

Bloxels My kids saw this in the store and were obsessed! Build your own video game. What kid wouldn't want this?

Yeti in My Spaghetti Game We're all about games and this game is supposed to be great. 

Wonder Workshop Dash Robot  My kids love robots. In fact they might have picked out more than one robot this year.  You have to watch the video on this toy. It looks like so much fun. 

Pretty Picaso Sweater  Shop this sweater and you get one sweat free at Altar'd State.

Hi Low Three Tier Ruffle Tank  This tank is from one of my favorite local boutiques and its 50% off with code CYBERMONDAY16! 

Toms Lunata Bootie These are so cute and so marked down! 

Pom Beanie by Love Your Melon:This beanie is adorable and I love that a portion of the profits go to Childhood Cancer Nonprofits.

Erin Condren Blossom Pajamas Just how cute and cozy are these PJs and they are 30% off! 

Leather Leopard Earrings These are on my wishlist! 

Jaybird Freedom Wireless Headphones Target currently has 15% off and these are marked down. My hubby has done tons of research on wireless headphones and these are on his wishlist. 

RTIC Cooler and Can Coozie We love our soft sided RTIC cooler and it's half the price of the YETI.  And if your guy likes camo, the camo cooler is even cheaper! 

North Face Mens Etip Gloves My hubby is getting these in his stocking.

Art of Shaving 4 Elements Starter Kit My hubby is pretty low maintenance but he loves his Art of Shaving items. They are 25% of with the code HOLIDAY.

Under Armour Fleece 1/4 zip   This is 30 percent off for CyberMonday.

If you are looking for some holiday fun for the classroom then check out my resources below.  There are centers galore, as well a some great activities for small group, morning work and even a Homophone hunt.  

Some of my favorite book companions I've created are with these adorable holiday books.  

So check out TPT and get 28% off everything in my store Monday and Tuesday. 
Happy Shopping Friends! 


Promoting Literacy: Part One (Hosting a Literacy Night)

One way we promote literacy in our school is to involve our families in helping our students become lifelong readers. So this September we hosted our 2nd annual literacy night. The theme this year was a Luau.  Our literacy luau was a big hit.  So I thought I'd let you know how to host one of your own.  

1. Create a Committee. 
There is no way I could have pulled off this literacy night without the help of many of the classroom teachers. We met about a month before to plan.

2. Feed Them
We provide our families with a free pizza dinner sponsored by our PTO.  When there is food, they will come.  In order to ensure we have enough pizza we send home an invitation with an RSVP.  Parents are to return the slip and in return they receive coupons for dinner.

3. Host a Book Fair
What better way to promote reading, then by hosting a book fair during your literacy night?  This year we are having several books fairs.  We'll do our usual Scholastic Book Fairs, but we also partnered with Joseph Beth, a local bookstore to host a fair.  They were amazing, our school made money for books for the classrooms and our parents and students were able to buy books to take home.  This is also gives them another reason to attend.

4. Make it Hands On
We wanted to make several of our stations hands on. Not only did this help us show our parents some simple ways to practice words, vocabulary and spelling at home, but it also gave our students a chance to practice the activities.

5. Give Parents Useful Information
Don't overwhelm parents with too much research and teacher talk.  Teach them practical and simple ways to help their child with reading at home. Share the most important tools and tricks to help their child become a more accurate and fluent reader.

And finally, have fun! I love seeing our kids and families coming together to share our love of literacy.   To see lots of literacy night pictures from last year, CLICK HERE.


Obsessed with October: Freebies and More

To say I'm obsessed with October is a bit of an understatement. I love the weather, the pumpkins, the football. It's all so much fun. It also means your students have finally figured how school works and you are getting the groove.  Right? So I love doing all sorts of fun things in October.  Now that I'm teaching multiple grades, I have a plethora of activities. 

Stellaluna is a favorite! This is a unit I created for my third grade intervention group.  I look forward to this every year. 

Two Many Pumpkins is another favorite. It might be my all time fave for October.  My kids love this book too and bringing in pumpkin treats for our pumpkin party makes them love it even more. 
My kindergarten friends are still working on their letters and sounds so we read, There Was an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Bat and then fed the bat, all sorts of letters and sounds. 

 This little math review book I made for my firsties book center a few years ago.  It covers many standards and it's cute at the same time.  
I just made this little 4 in a Row/Bingo for first and second grade groups.  My first graders are reviewing their short vowel sounds and the my second graders just needed a mixed review.  
In addition to these freebies, you can grab my October freebies from last year here
For more activities for October, CLICK HERE.


Guided Reading Go-Tos

As a reading specialist I meet with many small groups throughout the day. At one point in the day I go from teaching letter sounds, to teaching four and five syllable words and inferring meaning of large vocabulary words, in a matter of minutes.  Everyday I teach grades K-4 to read. Therefore, I need tons of different materials to meet the needs of all my sweet people. This also means that I need many tools to make this time meaningful.  So here are some of my Go-to Tools for Guided Reading time.

 1. Resource Walls

If the walls in your classroom are going to be decorated, let them be useful, but not cluttered. In my room, I've created a phonics wall, a word wall, and a wall that reminds them of our reading strategies. Having your word wall directly behind your guided reading table is important.  Many times the same words students see in a book, are words they know in isolation.  Reminding them that word is on your word wall, often helps them to recall the word while reading. 

2.  Games! 

Guided Reading Games to practice sight words, phonics, decoding and fluency are so important.  Before my official guided reading lesson, I always play a sight word game and do some phonics/word work review.  Keeping my readers, who sometimes struggle engaged and excited about reading is so important. Playing these games, not only help them learn and review, but also promote the idea that reading is enjoyable.  
 These are several ZAP games. Student pull a stick and read. If they are correct they keep the stick, if they get a zap, they lose all of their sticks. The student with the most sticks at the end of the time, wins.  You can use this game with any concept. 
 Flip it down is a fun game to review phonics, sight words or fluency.  Students roll two die and add. The number they get is the word they read. If they get it correct, they will flip the flap down, if they don't get it correct it remains uncovered. The student with the most flaps, flipped down wins.  
 Sight Word Stack is so much fun.  Students get to keep the cubes as they read the words correctly.  They stack their blocks.  The student who has the tallest tower that doesn't fall before the game ends wins.  
This is a game I play with my third and fourth graders to help them decode multi-syllable words.  Students decode the word and count the syllables.  They get one tally for every syllable in their word they read correctly.  The student with the most points at the end of the time wins. In addition, as you can see here, I also always have their white boards, markers and erasers in the chair pockets. 

3.  Pointers

My students love finger lights, pointers, eye ball rings and more to point to their reading.  I find the finger lights help many of my students read more fluently because their finger tends to glide across the words, in comparison to them using their finger and  pointing word by word.  

4. Leveled Books 

The majority of our books come from Rigby PM , Kaeden,  Scholastic and Hameray.  Sometimes I make a book to cover a skill we're working on.  My students had a particularly hard time with the words look and what, and we were reviewing the short a sound. Therefore we read this book from my short vowel readers

5.  Highlighting tape

We often use this tape to search for sight words or tricky words I may point out during a predict and locate before reading. 

 6. Skinny Sentence Strips

I really only use this for my kindergarteners and beginning first graders. I often have them write a sentence on the strip, cut it up and have them read and organize the sentence in order.  

And those my friends are my favorite supplies.  Are there more? Of course.  A good teacher has tons of supplies and tricks up their sleeves. I'll be sure to be back with more ideas for your small group reading instruction.  

Pin this post for later.


5 Classroom Hacks

Last year I moved out of my colorful ginormous classroom into my new little reading room.  I wanted my room to be a little more "Fixer Upper" and farmhouse, so I went for burlap and light colors.  In my quest for a whole new look, I spent over a thousand dollars on bins, new chairs, extra Ikea shelves, fabric, etc.  So when it came to curtains, I was about out of funds.  I looked everywhere for burlap curtains and they wanted a small fortune.  Luckily, I purchased the rolls of wide burlap below at Walmart for a board and ended up not liking it on the boards.  I hated to waste the rolls, so instead of packing them away, I starting cutting small slits across the top and feeding it through the tension rods I bought for the windows.  It worked perfectly.  The fabric was easy to cut, it bunches up nicely on the rods and looks just like the expensive curtains I had intended on purchasing.  This took me only 3 rolls to do the whole wall of windows and since there was no sewing required, it was about a 10 minute project. 
 In 2011 when I posted pictures of my room, my guided reading table was being pinned on Pinterest quite a bit. I needed a place to organize the 5,000 supplies. In order to make these tools convenient and save space, I took the wheels off my drawer organizers and slid them under my table.  They fit perfectly.   I also make sure to have a chair pocket on the back of all my guided reading chairs.  I store student's white boards, markers and erasers in the pocket for easy access when they need them during our small group time.  
 Another way I save space and my sanity is through my HELPERS.  These are two sheets packed with information that might be found on a desk nameplate.  Only let's be real, kids don't really use their nameplates, and many times they end of picked at, written on and peeled off.  I also hate wall clutter. So to eliminate all of this my kids have their Helpers, two sheets, laminated back to back, where my students go to find their color words, phonics reminders, number words, 120's chart, mini word wall, math concepts and more.  So how does this helper save my sanity? Well, how many times do your student ask you to spell a word, or to get up and look at the 120's chart, etc.  After teaching students about all things on their helper, they are then reminded to use it, to make them more independent.   In addition, I've also created mini anchor charts to save wall space. I believe in making anchor charts with your students during your teaching, but hanging giant charts all over is unrealistic.  And if you layer them, then students can't see them.  So, I hang these small versions like the "Characters" chart below on a special wall where students can reference them. 
 Use frames y'all! I love my framed 100 chart and birthday chart.  I got really tired of hanging cupcakes and candles every year. Now I just erase the old names and write the new names in each month.  EASY!!! And my 120's chart, is my favorite.  We can circle numbers, count forward, count backward, easily explain adding 10 and then erase the marks for the next lesson.  We also fill in our place value chart, we write our expanded notation, etc. and we can erase it the next day.  
When in doubt, use metal.  You never have to worry about magnets falling down.  They sell metal at Hobby Lobby, Home Depot, Menards, some heating and air businesses, and even Dollar Tree cookie sheets.  My word wall, lunch boards, and this math board, are all metal.  And it's the best investment I've ever made.  
Happy decorating and teaching!

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