Have you seen....

the amazing video tutorials Kristen over at Ladybug's Teacher Files has created and posted about customizing your blogs, (like adding a signature or a bit of flair to your posts, or even just linking documents)?  They are A-MAAAA-ZING!!  I have learned SOOO much from her! 

Her original tutorials are great, but I have to say that I love the new video tutorials because you can play and pause them as you go along with her!! 

I also want to add, that she seems like a great gal!  After leaving her a silly question in a comment, she got right back to me personally!!!  Thanks Kristen! 

I heart my new blogging friends!!  Everyone has been so great!

Hoppy Easter Everyone!

Did everyone have a good Easter?  We had lots of fun here in our household.  Last night we planted our magical jellybean and left carrots for the Easter Bunny.

Overnight the magical jellybean grew into a pinwheel and the Easter Bunny ate his carrots and left some goodies.  My daughter was was amazed that a pinwheel grew from the jellybean she planted!

It was beautiful and warm outside, so after breakfast we hunted for eggs.

P had a hard time opening her eggs with her hands, so she improvised by sitting on them to crack them open.  It was hysterical!  Here is what she found inside her eggs.  Of course we took some time to practice naming her letters and producing their corresponding sounds!

Well that was only part of our morning.  I could go on and on, but I don't want to bore you any further  I just wanted to wish you all a Hippity Hoppity Easter!!  It was a wonderful day to sum up my break!
Also, I found the magical jellybean idea on a fabulous blog that you can find here.  This will definitely become Easter tradition in our household!  Do you have a fun Easter tradition that you do with your family?
~ Mrs. Mc

What's up...

Even though the weather has been less than desirable with the cold and rain, I am enjoying my week off!  I have been trying to soak up every ounce of my princess as possible!!
Because we have been stuck inside more than I would like, we have had the opportunity to do some crafts in preparation of Easter.
These crafts are from some of my favoirte blogs that you should check out if you haven't already.  You can find the links here:
She has also been practicing identifying her lower case letters in different ways, including the Barrel of Monkeys activity I posted about here.

Although I am trying to not think about school, it is pretty much impossible!  I have found some great activities on your blogs that I have printed and cannot wait to put to use.  I have also been busy creating a game to play with my 3rd graders to help prepare them for certain areas of the NYS ELA Assessment, which they will be taking one week after we return from break.
Off to go color some eggs!!
~ Mrs. Mc


I am flipping over the fact that my spring break has officially started!!  
Because of this, I thought it was appropriate to post the "Flip the Sound" chart I created using graphics from Scrappin Doodles to remind my students to try different sounds for the letters listed when they are decoding puzzling words.
Is anyone else on break as of today also?  I am very excited to spend some quality time with my family, to scrub my house from top to bottom, and to get some much needed odds and ends completed!  Plus, I am hoping to have some extra time to stalk some of my favorite blogs!!
Thanks so much!
~ Mrs. Mc

Main Idea and Details

Some of my 3rd and 4th graders are having a difficult time with identifying Main Idea.  Some just are not getting past the idea that not every paragraph or passage will have one sentence that will state the main idea.  Others are just looking at the title of the piece and considering that the main idea, thus missing a lot of detail.  So I really wanted to do an activity that pulls them away from text but still addresses the concept of main idea.
I decided to create bags full of items that go together.  The students have to think about how the items relate to one another and ultimately what the main idea would be of all of the items together, as I slowly pull them out one at a time. One item is the key item that really ties everything together, the detail to best support the main idea. It worked really well!  The kids loved it! 
For the first bag I used a medium-sized tote that I used to use as a purse and we started by discussing what the bag could be used for and what could be inside (right away they guessed items that would belong in a purse).  Inside I had a snack-sized bag of mini-cookies, a napkin, an orange, a drink, a spoon, and then a container of soup. 
When the first few items were pulled out, we talked about how they were food items and would probably be eaten as a snack.  When the final item, the soup, was revealed, then they knew that all of the items together meant, "Eating lunch."
The soup was the key item, the detail to best support the main idea.  I have also put some additional bags together (baking items, swimming items, etc...) all with one key item to tie it all together.
I uploaded the plans and printables for the first bag below.
I would love to hear some of your suggestions for teaching Main Idea!

Race the Road-Letter, Sound, Sight Word Fluency

A few years back I attended a wonderful conference where the presenter discussed the fact that an average learner needs about 35 exposures to a word for it to become automatic.  A struggling learner may need more than 50 exposures before a word is recognized, and may take as many as 150 exposures to master it automatically!!! 
Road Race (Texas Center for Reading and Language Arts, 2000) is one of the great resources she provided as a way to increase students' exposure to sight words.  Have you played this before?  The game board was quite bland, so I went ahead and created my own by adding some cute clip art from Scrappin Doodles.

I love this game and so do the kids!  The kids really like driving the little car around the game board.  (You can find little cars in the party favor section at Target.)  I especially love how the child goes through and reads the pile of words over and over again, therefore increasing their exposure to the words.  I also use this game for letter and letter-sound identification.  I haven't done so myself, but I am sure you could even use it for number identification or math facts!

CHEEZ-IT Spelling

Who likes CHEEZ-IT crackers?  Our family definitely does!  Have you seen the Scrabble CHEEZ-IT crackers?  Love them!  They are a teacher’s and parent’s dream!  I have been working on a couple of projects to do with them.
First, to help P practice connecting her letters and sounds, I thought I would combine Elkonin Boxes with the crackers.  She isn’t ready to segment words into individual sounds on her own yet, so I segmented and named the sounds for P and she picked out the corresponding letters (out of a small pile that I had gone through and preselected for her). 

Building the words made her awfully hungry of course, so she ate them as a snack afterward.  As she ate them, she named each letter and said each sound.

Then to help some of my K students identify and write their sight words, I thought I would do the following activity.  They will need to read the words on the sheet, build the words by finding the corresponding letters (matching the lower case to the upper case), and then write the words.
I haven’t tried it in the classroom yet.  I didn’t know if the actual boxes of CHEEZ-IT crackers would provide enough letters for them each to build their words.  (If it works and there is interest, I just may make more of these sheets with other words.  Please let me know if you have tried this or anything like it and how it has worked out for you!)
~ Mrs. Mc

Elements of a Complete Sentence

Some of my 3rd graders are having a difficult time determining what makes a sentence complete.  Here is a game I created to help them practice this.  After reading the phrase, they will be asked to think about whether or not they can answer “Who is in the sentence?" and “What is it doing?"  If they can answer both, then it is a complete sentence!
Click on either picture to link to my TPT store.
~ Mrs. Mc