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Love is in the Air!

February can be kind of gloomy, but that doesn't mean we don't have a blast in the classroom.  There are so many fun ways we celebrate in February. Not only do we celebrate the 100th Day of School, but we also learn about economics, read tons of great books and my students do some of my all time favorite centers during the month of February.  

First, I needed a way to teach littles about economics and that absolutely ate it up when we turned our classroom into a store.  So much fun and they thoroughly understood economics after this unit. 
This Valentine Economics unit is so much fun and the only way I could make it all make sense for such little people. 

 Students also absolutely loved these Burning Love Centers and they are some of my favorites! 

You can also grab these activities free on my Facebook page. They were a fun way to practice past tense verbs. 
 My kiddos also absolutely loved learning about opossums after reading about Gilbert in Roses are Pink, Your Feet Really Stink. I paired our fiction and nonfiction learning with this fun little unit.  

You can also find all kinds of cute Valentine ideas here: 


Assessing just got easier!

This year we were asked to use an online assessment tool that shall remain nameless. It's a great tool if you teach grade 2-high school.  We were given time to add assessments to this online program and I tried, y'all. I tried so hard to make it work for me in my little Reading Specialist job, but it just made no sense.  In fact, our K-1 teachers were struggling to make it work and make sense for them as well. When looking for an alternative that actually helped save time and had assessments that made sense, I found ESGI.  And y'all, it's the absolute best!

I don't believe in using technology, just to use technology.  If it doesn't save me time and make more sense then using paper and pencil, then I just don't see the point.  While we use lots of assessments like DRA's and Aimsweb, I also wanted a quick way to assess letter identifications, sounds, sight words, phonics knowledge, etc. ESGI makes assessing these items, so much easier than ever before. Check it out.

As the reading specialists I have many groups of students with varying needs and objectives.  The great thing about ESGI, is that they already have tons of preloaded assessments to choose from, or you can easily create your own.  It's the simplest process, but if you get stuck, there are tons of how-to videos here: https://www.youtube.com/user/esgisoftwarevideo

 Sorry for the blurry picture, but the best part of testing is that after students have been tested once, you can assess them again and choose to assess all items or just the items missed previously.
 Once you've tested the student, any unknown items can be easily generated and printed on flashcards. Also available immediately after testing is a parent letter. I love this part! As the reading teacher, I can grab a kindergarten student, test them, have flashcards of unknown letters and parent communication on what they need to work on, as well as what they've mastered, in a matter of 5 minutes.
 The purpose of assessing for me, the majority of the time is to focus my instruction in the future.  I love that ESGI provides graphs of what I still need to teach for each of my groups.  No more sitting with assessments all over my table, trying to decide which letters, sight words, or sounds, still aren't mastered. ESGI does this for me. 
 And the classroom management tool, does just as it says. It manages all your classroom needs. It creates lists, lets you know what forms have or have not been turned in, creates templates, and makes all the administrative tasks so much easier.

If you want to make your life and assessments easier than I highly recommend ESGI.  You can grab ESGI for 40 dollars off for the first year $159 (regular pricing -$199) by clicking the link below.

or try it for free for 60 days by clicking below.


Holiday Homophones

Several years ago I created a little unit to help my first grade kiddos learn all about homophones. I knew just telling them was not going to be good enough, so I came up with a fun little "homophone hunt" activity to help build interest and excitement.  The first think we did was read this book:

It's a great way to introduce homophones. After reading, my students were challenged with the task of finding homophone cards around the classroom.  

When all cards were found, students came back to our carpet area to find their homophone match.  After finding their pair, student completed this cute little activity sheet to be put in our class book. 
Then students were challenge to apply their new learning by creating their very own homophone book.  
I also made this cute little homophone memory game available to my kiddos when they had some free time, so they could practice this new knowledge. This became one of their favorite games to play during indoor recess. 
I just added this not so little guy to the unit as well. Meet our moose. His belly is full of homophones.

If you still need to teach homophones and want to have some holiday fun, you can grab this Merry Christmoose Homophone unit below. 



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.

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