menu   Home Book Trailers The Goods Tools About Me  

Search This Blog


I've had a crazy few weeks-- hence the delay in posting.  I finished my graduate degree in Literacy, ran my first 1/2 marathon, and turned the ripe age of 27  :)

It's no secret for those that know me-- the hands are my favorite part of a body-especially those that are capable! :)  Hands are used for so many things- strength, comfort, building, creating, writing, holding, etc. etc. etc.

In science we study soil (post to come shortly :))and the plant cycle.  To make it fun and scientific we grew a garden in a glove.

I chose plants that would germinate quickly- green beans, basil, marigold, nasturtium, and watermelon.  
I got the plastic gloves from cafeteria workers and had students write the name of each plant on each finger with a sharpie.

In small groups they got a cotton ball wet, and squeezed it out three times.  I had each seeds on pieces of paper with the amount of how many seeds to get written on each.  They picked seeds up with cotton balls and then placed them in their gloves using pencils to guide them.  Once they finished we gave a puff of air in each and sealed them with a pipe cleaner.  We taped our mini greenhouses on the window and took daily observations in our science notebooks.  Within 3-5 days almost every seed sprouted!!! 

Now--- this is where things got a little mental.  I gave students labels and had them write their names with each plant on it and put it on a plastic cup.  We filled the cups with potting soil, created a little hole, and then cut the fingers on our gloves and dropped the cotton ball into our soil, covered them up, and gave them a little water. 
We left them over the weekend and by the time we came back on Monday the majority had sprouted and many had grown taller than the cup!!!
2 weeks later and this is what we have!  I am totally amazed--- I normally look at a plant and it dies. 

For more information check out

In writing I had students trace their hands and write things that they had done and what they wanted to do.  These could start as story starters for memoirs, small moments, reflections, etc.  

Students then took each finger and began to write a paragraph about each.  We focused on topic sentence, details-- some story or what they have done, how it makes them feel, and a closing sentence.  They write each idea on a separate piece of paper that has space for revisions- with each paper turning into a paragraph.

 When revising they read it with whisper phones to themselves, underline any words they aren't sure how to spell, then revise with friends with skinny makers, and finally with me before they get to their final copy.  These are turning out to be very sweet and powerful.

I took pictures of them out on the playground playing their favorite activity and had them printed to be mounted next to their writing--- it will also go perfectly into their end of year writing portfolios.  

I am starting to be in denial and choking up really quickly when thinking about separating from these sweet things!  

Sticky Learning

We have been learning about shapes and geometry in our classroom.  To make it more interactive and creative I bought some of this frog sticky tape.

I paired students and as pairs they drew a the name of a polygon from a hat.  They had to create a simple polygon with that many sides.  To differentiate for learners you could have the # of angles, pictures, examples of it.  To challenge students they could get a protractor and make sure each angle within the polygon was accurate.
Students had to write the name of the polygon and how many angles it had and whether it was simple or complex, regular or irregular.  

We mixed up groups again and they drew another polygon--- this time I gave them more tape and allowed them to create irregular/complex polygons.  If I had more tape and we had more wall space I would have let them put these on the walls or in the hallway.  Again, to differentiate for higher learners they would have to measure and list each angle, find various figures within them, create figures with more than 10 angles and identify the name, create symmetrical shapes, etc. etc. etc.

After students wrapped up their creations, they got out their math journals.  They wrote what they knew about polygons, stopped and shared with with tables for about 2 minutes, and then added any new information they had learned.  I had one person from each table share what they had learned.

To connect it to ELA we spoke about looking at things from " a different angle" and how that idiom both relates to math and to their lives.  They wrote about how they connected to that phrase, shared, and then we headed out to enjoy yet another sunny and warm day of recess!

The next day we created 2d and 3d figures with toothpicks and marshmallows.  I paired students up and let them choose which polygons and solid figures they wanted to create.

After they had eaten their marshmallows, and washed their hands, they wrote about their experience and then we shared.  I find that if they write, share, and write more they consistently connect more with their learning.  As a teacher who wants to shove as many activities as I can into the day, I make myself dedicate the time to writing and talking if not those amazing activities just become another thing to do!  

Soldier Bear- read this book with your kids!!!

There is no secret- I love reading-- and I love a book that enraptures so many young readers at one time and can be recommended to anybody.  Soldier Bear captures the boys attention with war, the girls with a sweet bear- and ties in everybody that it is a true story.  I have never read a book that so eloquently paints the a picture of war for a wide audience to grasp onto.  Soldier Bear transcends grade levels and is a story I will read with my students year after year.  

Based on a real series of events that happened during World War II, Soldier Bear tells the story of an orphaned bear cub adopted by a group of Polish soldiers in Iran. The soldiers raise the bear and eventually enlist him as a soldier to ensure that he stays with the company. He travels with them from Iran to Italy, and then on to Scotland. Voytek's mischief gets him into trouble along with way, but he also provides some unexpected encouragement for the soldiers amidst the reality of war: Voytek learns to carry bombs for the company, saves the camp from a spy, and keeps them constantly entertained with his antics.

I read this book aloud to my class and had them participate in numerous activities throughout.  It was just about the sweetest thing watching them connect with not only the book but with history.  This book can be a spring board for so many topics especially with literacy and history- but even math and science.

 I hope you add this book into your amazon cart now.  It will be one of the sweetest books you read.  There are a TON of videos and pictures of Voytek on the internet which just makes the book come to alive even more!

Here are a few of things we did:

Choose 5 words to descibe Soldier Bear and then use apps or taxedo/wordle to make a word cloud. (check out my other post about this)

We created sticky notes for the whole book as apart of the book trailer process and how to summarize each chapter.  From that we created a mini book retelling the story as well as a book trailer


Voytek becomes the mascot for the 22nd Polish Army Cop.  Students decided what animal would represent them as a mascot and why.  They wrote why they chose that animal and how they are alike that animal and then created their design.  

To analyze the character of Voytek.  We looked at his external and internal characteristics and how they impacted the other.  Character x-rays are powerful and allow students to closely read the text.  

I developed a book study and critical literacy activities to use with my students that can be used for students across multiple grades and disciplines.It can be found here.    There are many activities in the pack that are better suited for older/mature students- such as using QR codes to investigate Poland during WWII and the Battle of Mote Cassino.  

I hope you enjoy the book as much as we did.  The story is timeless and truly amazing!!!

April Currently- I'm on a Roll!

I am loving that despite all of the other things to do on my plate--- blogging is turning into a form of therapy and a healthy outlet!  :)  I am on a roll and going to do my second currently to link up with other bloggers.  Who am I turning into?!?

Today has been a day full of jest upon my unassuming students.  They don't know what to make of their desks and materials mysteriously moving around, the crayons glued to the carpet, the teacher rushing in "late" to class because she was so sick, analyzing an opera song where they sing like cats.  "We'll get you back they say."  Good luck my sweets!!!

 We did our guided reading and literacy rotations outside today-- which was amazing soaking up the vitamin d--- but now I look and feel like Will Smith in Hitch.  Come and get it men!!! :)  

Now back to lesson planning, grading, and attempting to mold the best minds!!! :)  I am going to do my best and get out to run today--- since that half marathon is just a few weeks a way now... and I'm turning a little soft.  I can't blame the weather anymore!!!  If you have any tips for this newbie runner/blogger please direct them my way!!! :)