Friday, September 30, 2011

Free Boxes Rock!

Did you know that you can get a large amount of free boxes delivered to you from the post office? You can get 300-500 boxes free plus free shipping! I ordered and had them delivered to my house a couple of years ago and we made them into family tree boxes. In the floor of the box they drew their family tree and titled it. Then on the four sides they placed the following info: "Grounded in Family Roots" (family traditions), "The Person I am Today" (Their current interests and personality), "The Person I Want to Become" (Goals for the future), "Things that Inspire Me" (Inspiring quotes, people, etc...)

These boxes could be used for a wide variety of dioramas and more!

Go to and click on "Get Free Boxes!" or scroll your mouse over the Ship a Package tab at the top and then click on get free boxes. You choose the size and amount. They are sent in packages of 10 or 25.

If you don't know... now ya know :)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Character Analysis At Your Service!

A skill that students are constantly struggling on is making the connections that are required to analyze character motives. I think one cause of this difficulty is that our students have less background experiences to draw off of and with the wave of do-it-for-us technology people in general have gotten a little... shall I say... lazy? (yep, I said it.)

If you have implemented Reading Workshops or a version of them, or if this is your first time running workshops and you want a little more structure then this may come in handy for you!

Using kid-friendly graphics, introduce your students to character analysis. This is meant to be a focus lesson that can be used at the beginning of your class before sending students off into independent reading land to try the skill out in their own personal books.

The power point gives them an explanation of what character analysis is, provides a list of character traits to use during their reading, provides a story that the students can practice some of the strategies on and gives you a chance to show them how you want them to answer. Then two student skill sheets that can be printed front and back. You can have students answer both sides of questions if you have the time allotted, you can have them do one side of the questions and then choose one to do for homework, you could have them answer in groups if they are reading the same book... plus any other combo that works with your class!

Click here to check it!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Modern Preamble

So today in class, I was talking to my kids about how we have lost the language of our ancestors as texting and facebook and twitter have become an integral part of our lives. In order to help with this, I created a page that broke up the Preamble and they were to use only thesaurus and dictionaries (it broke their heart that the computer was off limits) to change the Preamble into modern day laymen terms. Man were their little brains smoking once they got to the end of the assignment! lol

Tomorrow they are going to use what they did today to create a "kid language" Preamble and then will discuss how the Preamble affects their own lives.

Although this is activity that I'm sure many of us have done to a point, it still always amazes me how difficult it is for students to do this assignment. Technology is a wonderful thing but I think our students have lost some really important skills in research and thinking along the way. I'm one of the first to jump on any new technology bandwagon but it is equally important to teach your students the difference between a thesaurus and a dictionary, how to find information in both, and push our students out of their comfort zone in order to grow.

All day (I have 4 reading rotations), I heard "This is so hard! I'm having to think soo much!" My response... "Good, that means your brain is growing. Keep going."

Friday, September 2, 2011

Overlooked but Amazing Series for Kids - Fablehaven

A few years back while I was pregnant with my son, I ran across the Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull. Omg... I love this series! I have purchased all 5 books since then and am constantly spreading the word to my kids about this overlooked series. At the time, our library didn't have it... now we do! (You're welcome!)

Fablehaven is a story about 2 children going to visit their grandparents at their large estate as their parents go on a cruise requested in the will by a newly deceased relative. At first they think it is just a normal huge estate with a surrounding woods... until Kendra finds all the secret keys and opens a book that is completely blank except for the words "Drink the Milk." She thinks of the old pie tin filled with milk that Dale (hired help) keeps feeding the butterflies and animals around them. Once her and her brother Seth have sampled the milk, the story goes in a whole new direction! Fablehaven is full of witches, fairies, and pretty much any fable or fairy tale creature that has come up over the past all living on this "reserve" for magical animals. Seth and Kendra end up having to save the Reserve from impending doom and man is there some crazy stuff that happens before they get there.

This has been the book that has turned my low uninterested readers into reader-hungry little kiddos. It is truly a magical book that I hope you will read and experience yourself!

Check out reviews or buy it on Amazon!

Oh, and I just noticed that one of the Scholastic book orders finally has Fablehaven on the order form I think for September but maybe it was October! After my kids last year lamented about them not being in there, I'll have to head over to 6th grade wing and let them know! :)