I'm linking up with my friend Joanne at Head Over Heels for Teaching for

We did it! We did it!! WE. ARE. DONE!!! Four days of standardized testing!! My babies worked hard. They appeared to check their work, use strategies, and concentrate. I couldn't have asked for more.
Since this was their first year of testing, I wanted to make them feel relaxed, yet get them motivated, especially the first day of testing. Using tags from this set:
I made each student these little treat bags:

A few days prior to testing, I emailed the parents. I asked them to write a note of encouragement to their child and to send it to school in a sealed envelope addressed to me. On the first day of testing the students came in to this on their desks:
They were so surprised to see the letters and I think the words from their parents gave them a boost and made them so happy! Most parents sent in notes, but I did have just a few that forgot. For those students, I wrote out a little post-it for them wishing them good luck. (If you do not think that your parents would send in notes than a little handwritten note from you would make their day. I'm sure!) Each day of testing I also asked parents to send in morning treat (grapes, Cheerios, granola bars, cheese sticks) and after testing treats. On Friday, we had cupcakes and juice to celebrate their hard work.

I'm not a fan of where testing has taken education, but I do understand the part it plays. Let's try to make our students feel comfortable and confident!

Be SURE to check out this Mystery Box giveaway!! There are some AMAZING prizes! You won't want to miss it!!

I'm happy to be linking up with Collaboration Cuties for their weekly Mentor Text linky.

After visiting New York City last fall, I discovered a couple really neat books centered around this wonderful place! They fit in nicely as read alouds during social studies.

The first one is called The Subway Sparrow (Sunburst Book) by Leyla Torres. It is about a small sparrow that flies into a subway car and is trapped. The people in the car, who normally ride in silence, are forced to communicate to help the bird. They work together to save the sparrow and along the way develop an understanding of each other and an appreciation for the need to communicate even though they speak different languages. This was a nice fit as a read aloud in our study of cultures. My kids did a nice job predicting how the passengers would get the little bird out of the car.

One of my MOST favorite places in NYC is the Brooklyn Bridge. I found two books that went along with our study of United States regions and are good informational text. I found them to be pretty interesting as well.
Twenty-One Elephants and Still Standing is the story of how P.T. Barnum used 21 of his circus elephants to prove that the Brooklyn Bridge was as strong as the builders said it was! True story! My kids were fascinated by this read aloud.


The Brooklyn Bridge: The story of the world's most famous bridge and  the remarkable family that built it. (Wonders of the World Book) is the story of John Roebling and his dream to build this great bridge. He spent 15 years convincing people that his idea for the bridge would work. When they finally started construction, he died in a freak accident. His family continued his dream. The series of Wonders of the World Books are great for teaching text features, as well as very informative.

These books made a nice addition to my classroom library and the kids enjoyed learning a little about New York City...so did I!!

It's time...

We have started our study of fairy tales. I love this unit. Here are a few days of lessons that we've completed.
Day 1 started out by brainstorming famous fairy tales. Many kids were surprised to find out that Disney did not write the fairy tales they knew from the movies! I had the kids turn and talk with their reading partner about elements of fairy tales. They came up with this list:

I then sent them off to read a fairy tale with their partner. They had to list 3 elements they found on a sticky and place them on our Exit Slip board. It was a good quick assessment.

Day 2 we reviewed the anchor chart. I showed the book Strega Nona by Tomie DePaolo.

I asked students to look at the cover and to turn and talk about anything they saw that could indicate this was a fairy tale. They came up with the idea that the lady looks like a witch with a magic pot and that possibly the animals could talk. It also looked like a story set long ago. I read the book aloud, stopping at strategic places for turn and talk time. I kept asking if there was anything they heard that would indicate it was a fairy tale. They came up with quite a few elements and in the end we determined it was. The goal of the lesson was to have them recognize a fairy tale may not be the traditional stories they are more familiar with, but authors write stories with the same elements.

Day 3 we reviewed the elements again. I introduced the story The Rough-Face Girl.

This is an Algonquin Cinderella story. After reading it aloud, we were guided into a discussion of adaptations of fairy tales and how cultures infuse their own values into stories. During the read loud they, again, turned and talked about elements of fairy tales they heard. I then assigned a Cinderella book to each pair of students to read, discuss, and write notes about. We came back as a group to discuss what they had found.

Day 4 gave students a chance to practice finding elements of fairy tales during Read to Someone time. I assigned partners my fairy tale graphic organizer along with a traditional story. They worked hard again reading and discussing and writing.

That's where we are right now. We will continue to read and study fairy tales, moving into writing our own.

It's state testing time. Next week we will be testing for 4 days (4 LONG days). Testing makes the week crawl by. Being out of our routine is torture for me! We have been practicing test taking strategies. Here is an anchor chart that we have referred to quite often over the last couple weeks.

This weekend I'll be putting together some little treat bags for the first day using Tootsie Rolls and these little tags I created. Check them out at my TpT store.

Speaking of my TpT store...hop on over for a sale on Sunday and Monday! 

I'm linking up with Charity for Manic Monday   where you'll find LOTS of wonderful free activities to use right now in your classroom!!
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Looking for new Word Work activities? I created Words by Number game boards to work with ANY spelling or vocabulary list. I think they are the perfect way to differentiate spelling and vocabulary practice in your classroom. Every student can work with a different list of words and have fun! This summertime freebie  is for you to test out with your students. The directions are included! All you need is playing pieces and number cubes.

Check out my Five for Friday post to read more about my Words by Number pack.

Looking for a little spring time word work?

You will find 3 activities that give kids a chance to work with words by categorizing them. Great thinking activities!

Enjoy your week and thanks for stopping by!!
It's Five for Friday time with Doodle Bugs!
It's COUNTDOWN time!! We are in our last quarter of the school year. YAHOO!! We are preparing for our state test and then SUMMER!! I had to download a countdown app to keep track of days until summer and days until my daughter and I visit New York City! She will be attending a week long camp there and her and I are super excited to go back!

We have been working a lot on vocabulary this year. Not just definitions, but the etymology of words, word parts, spelling patterns, etc. It's my hope that understanding the aspects of words will also help students with the spelling of words. I needed something new for them to do at Word Work time during Daily 5 rounds. I came up with a board game called Words by Number. These seasonal game boards can be used with any vocabulary or spelling list. Basically, each student in the class creates their own list of words. These lists can be generated from weekly spelling words, reading vocabulary, content area vocabulary, or seasonal words. It's up to you. Partners exchange lists. When a student lands on a number he or she has to spell or define the word on their list that corresponds with that number. The directions are left open so you are able to meet the needs of your students. I love the fact these games allow for differentiation with spelling/vocabulary words. 

Download the PREVIEW for a FREEBIE and check out my  Winter Spell by Number Freebie (same game different name),
Our state test is drawing nearer. In these last few weeks before the test, I concentrate on test taking strategies.  For reading practice, I explain to the kids that reading test passages are considered a genre. We have to read those passages differently then we read our books for pleasure. During a test, we are reading to answer questions. I suggest to my kids that before reading the passage, they take "mental notes". This is my idea of prereading. I have the students look at the title and any pictures or text features. I tell them to jot quick notes. This gets their brain ready to read. They are doing a good job and I think they actually like it!

I am just LOVING Pop Art from Art by Jenny K. You have to check out her store! Kids need time to stretch their creative muscles. These coloring sheets are perfect. With Pop Art, students have to think about colors and patterns. I shared the work of Romero Britto with the class before they started. I am telling you they LOVE these projects. The end result makes a nice display and students have to think! They worked on these spring pictures during fun Friday time.
She offers freebies and lots of seasonal packs. I had to get this one for all year long.

Our fairy tale study is underway. The kids have fairy tales in their book boxes, I have them displayed around the room, and they are really enjoying them. 
My new favorite addition to my collection is
I had to tell my kids that princess stories are not from Disney. They were shocked! LOL! This book is beautifully illustrated!
 It covers many of the favorites and some not-so-common stories.

The book also has a Seek-and-Find at the end of each story. Boys and girls are reading this book!

During this unit study, I will use graphic organizers from my "All About" Genres: Traditional Literature pack. These are great for finding the elements of this genre or has a prewriting form if you have kids write stories in this genre. I also like my kids to write response letters to me referring to the "All About" organizer.

Thanks for stopping by!

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