Monday, July 14, 2014

The Adventures of Ai

Slide1Just recently I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy (e-book) of New York Times bestselling author Craig Bouchard’s latest children’s book called The Adventures of Ai.

This adventure story which debuts in just a few short days (July 16th), is part fantasy and part non-fiction; and although it targets boys and girls between the ages of 9-12… I quickly became immersed in the plot right from the beginning and enjoyed the adventurous ride alongside Ai.

Here’s a sneak peek…
The Adventures of Ai game and book trailer

So now that I’ve caught your attention with beautiful sights and sounds, what exactly is this story all about…

The Adventures of Ai is a tale about never giving up! A topic which hits close to home with many of our own students.

Ai, a young, brave girl learns that with every struggle she faces while on her adventure to find the secret treasure, she learns a valuable lesson in return. One of the lessons she quickly realizes is that she cannot do it all alone. She needs the help of her animal friends and family.

While on her adventures with her faithful horse Chuugi, a bluebird named Honmei, and a deer called Yorokobi Ai encounters magical trees, monsters, secrets, and treasures. There is never a dull moment!

Besides painting a beautiful tale through the use of fantasy, Craig Bouchard incorporates art, history, poetry, music, and even some math through the story.

And for those students that at first might not pick up a book of this nature, there IS a 3D videogame for iOS, Android and Kindle that might just be the spark they need. Click here to check that out.

Finally, I am happy to share that in celebration of the book launch, I am hosting a giveaway in which 2 lucky winners will receive an e-book copy of The Adventures of Ai . The winners will be selected on Friday, July 18th. All you have to do to enter is fill out the Rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good Luck to All!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Lets talk patterns & a FREEBIE

power of patterns

We live in a world surrounded by patterns and half of the time we don’t even realize it!

Every day we drive through neighborhoods of neatly organized houses, we walk into stores filled with aisle upon aisle of merchandise that have been carefully categorized, and we stroll through parking lots of neatly spaced cars. Yet, do we ever stop to realize that these are ALL patterns and that they make our lives easier?


Patterns are EVERYWHERE and most of the time we fail to take notice of them. Unfortunately, our students do the same thing…

I don’t think we place enough emphasis on the Power of Patterns in our classroom. At least I know that I don’t…


Just recently, I attended a 3 day workshop that opened my eyes to the importance of teaching our children to recognize patterns all around us. Not only are most patterns BEAUTIFUL to look at, but they also bring order to our world and make our lives much easier!


Because math is a study of patterns, if we can encourage our students to be on a constant quest for them, math will become MUCH more exciting and engaging! Let’s not even get into the long term benefits (such as Algebra) that our kiddos will reap from learning such a simple concept at a very young age.


Why else should children be pattern detectives? Why is it NOT enough to teach about patterns when we get to the chapter in our books on patterns?


In an effort to introduce my students to patterns right from the very start of the school year, I have created the following BACK to SCHOOL Coded 100 Chart Activity that I can’t wait to share with my 3rd graders. (If you’d like a free copy of the activity simply click on any of the pictures below.)

Pattern Puzzle cover page JPEG

Since my students are still on summer break, I tried the activity out with my own son and he absolutely LOVED it! As a matter of fact he made a point to tell me that if I make another one, he wants to be the first to “test it out”. (That’s a winner in my book!)

So what is this activity all about? Basically, students are given a mat that resembles a blank 100’s chart grid.

mat JPEG

They are then given 15 puzzle pieces and their goal is to work with a partner to assemble the puzzle. The key to solving this task, however, is to figure out the patterns that are present.Slide9

Now when you complete this activity with your own students, I want you to try REALLY hard NOT to offer them any clues. Instead guide them by asking questions such as… What do you notice about the different puzzle pieces? What do you know already about puzzles? What strategy you think you should try out first?


Remember, the goal is to get your students to notice the patterns…


When the puzzle has been completed join your students in doing the HAPPY DANCE!!!!!!! Then discuss ALL the patterns they were able to find and how it helped them solve the puzzle.

I hope YOUR students will have as much fun as my son did completing this Back to School Pattern Puzzle!

Stop… look around… do you notice any patterns?


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Giveaway Winners

Thank you SO much to everyone that participated in this weeks Parent Notes Giveaway!

Todays 3 lucky winners are none other than….. drumroll please…


Congratulations, ladies!

I will be contacting you today so that I can get your prize out to you as soon as possible.

For those of you that participated and did not win this time around, I do have some great news to share! There is another GIVEAWAY right around the corner, so hang in there and stay tuned…


Monday, July 7, 2014

Manic Monday Freebie

Slide1Hi there! Hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July weekend and were able to enjoy some glorious fireworks…

Now that the weekend has once again slipped through our fingers, it’s back to Monday. Although it’s not exactly a Manic Monday for me since we are off from school, I’ve still decided to go ahead and link up with Charity Preston over at Classroom Freebies.

Since in a few short weeks most of us will be scrambling once again with Back To School prep., I’ve decided to share a resource that I think is a necessity for every teacher’s bag of tricks. Today I’m sharing with you my Editable Weekly Behavior Chart which is part of my Parent Notes Bundle. I told you all about yesterday, but if you missed it just simply click here to go check it out.

Slide6What I love about this freebie, besides the fact that it is F-R-E-E, is that it is EDITABLE! If at any time you feel the need to customize the behaviors or work habits listed, simply click on the text boxes and voila. You can customize them to your liking. It’s that simple!

Although you may not be using a weekly behavior chart at the beginning of the year, it is always good to have one handy. So save this puppy to your jump drive and you’ll be thanking me later on :0)

I wonder

Do you have a Weekly Behavior Chart that you use with your students? Or were you like me… frustrated that I hadn’t found the right one yet? I’d love to hear from you…


Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Parent Notes and a Giveaway


In preparation for next year, I decided to update my Parent Notes bundle…  I’ll be honest… it has taken me FOREVER and on numerous occasions I even felt as if I was giving birth, again!!!!!

But it’s okay, because I am sooooooooo proud of the finished product! It is PERFECT and BEAUTIFUL and JUST WHAT I HAD HOPED FOR… thanks in part to all of my IG friends and their input!

Not only are ALL of the notes EDITABLE, but they also come in black/white and color. I don’t know about you, but whenever I print in black and white I like to use brightly colored paper …



So how do I store all of my notes? Especially since there are more than 45 of them? It’s simple, I store them inside of this plastic expanding file that has 25 pockets.



In case your wondering how I fit over 45 notes into 25 pockets… I don’t. You see I like to print ahead letters that I use frequently or letters that don’t need to be modified.


I also like to group some letters together. For example, I store my parent conference letters in the same pocket as my conference reminder sheets…


If you’re not too keen on the idea of an expanding file you can keep them in a 1 inch binder or print them on need basis.

The key is having the letters written and accessible. I can tell you from experience that if I have a weekly behavior chart handy and ready to go, the chances of me using it are greater than if I have to sit there and create it from scratch.

Slide6 I’ve even included a few blank cards …


Now that I’ve shared my 3rd child with ya’ll, it’s time for a GIVEAWAY.

On Wednesday, 7/9/14 I will be giving 3 lucky winners my Editable Parent Notes bundle.  To be entered to win, all you have to do is…

giveaway JPEG

(If you click on the image you can download it from google docs)

Good luck to all of you! I can’t wait to see who the winners are…


Friday, June 27, 2014

An apology with a FREEBIE or two…

Hi there, Bloggy friends…

Well, I HOPE you’re still my friend even though I’ve been a very BAD buddy lately!

I know I’m guilty of not writing or sharing with you in a while and for that I APOLOGIZE PROFUSELY! I cross my heart and girl scout promise to try to stay more in touch and connected with you. Actually I have a few surprises and giveaways in the works that I am quite excited about!

In an effort to try to make it up to you… (this is not a bribe…wink… wink…) I am linking up with Teaching Blog Addict for todays

  Freebie Friday at TBA

The first freebie I would like to share with you is one that I find to be greatly useful at the beginning of the school year during those CRAZY back to school days!


When you download this resource from my TPT store you will receive an editable calendar for the month of august…


You will also get…


And also…


…Finally all of these items ARE EDITABLE and come in both color or black in white. Aren’t they adorable. I love how this August set coordinates with each other. They just make me smile!!!!!!


All About ME Writing Papers FREEBIE JPEG

These 6 different writing sheets are not only ADORABLE but perfect for the first week of school. While you’re collecting, sorting, and storing supplies you can have students work on their All About Me writing papers.

In the blank space at the top of the sheet you can have them draw an illustration of what they like to do, what they did over the summer, their family, etc… and then on the lines they can choose to write you a friendly letter telling you a little bit about themselves.

Or you can simply have them write to tell you about their summer, their favorite subjects in school, what they think the school year is going to be like, what some of their goals for the year are… The possibilities are endless!

One of my favorite parts, besides the writing of course, is the self portrait at the bottom of each sheet. (I always enjoy seeing what facial expressions my students choose to draw on their faces. It’s amazing how much information you can gather simply from a self portrait.)

When students finish writing, mount on construction paper and attach to a bulletin board. Voila you have your first bulletin board of the school year finito/ done… you’ve also learned about your new class, and their precious works of art will bring oohhhs and ahhhs from everyone entering your classroom!

Freebie picture JPEG

… especially in the beginning of the school year when time is extremely valuable to us!

Take care my friends… I like forward to chatting with you soon!


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

5 Ways to PREPARE and MOTIVATE your students for testing


Although many teachers (myself included) disagree with the amount of pressure surrounding high stakes testing, one thing is for certain… these tests are here to STAY!

So what can you do to prepare and motivate your own class?

Just keep on reading and I’ll share with you a few ideas that I’ve used with my own 3rd graders. I believe that each of these resources have helped to motivate and calm those pesky pre-test jitters.

1. THINKING MAPS- Break students up into groups and have them brainstorm everything they’ve learned this year in regards to reading or math. (Those are the two subject areas my students test in). What I LOVE about this activity is that it jogs children’s memories, helps them realize exactly how much information they actually DO know/have learned, and is a great self esteem booster as well. Watch your children beam with pride as they turn in their “busy” thinking maps highlighting everything they “know”. Take a look at some maps my students created this year…



2. Read Aloud- Read a few funny and kid friendly stories that help students realize that they are not the only ones that worry or suffer anxiety, especially before the BIG TEST! I think it’s important to get our kiddos to laugh and smile at a time when many of them are suffering the dreaded butterflies in the stomach syndrome. Here are a few books that I absolutely adore for this time of the year…

Read Aloud JPEG

Testing Read Alouds JPEG

3. Motivating Mottos- During this time of year, many children begin to doubt their abilities and all too often we begin to hear “I can’t…”, “I don’t remember”, or “I don’t know how!” Why not turn that negativity around and have children illustrate positive phrases. Then post them up around the classroom during testing days to remind your students that they ARE super readers and that they CAN succeed!



4. Write About It- Students spends way too much time talking and thinking about what might happen if they DON’T pass the “Big Test”. Why not have them turn that negativity around by having them write about what happened the day that they DID PASS.


5. Love Notes- This last idea is one of my favorites… Every year, right before testing, I send home a Top Secret envelope with instructions for parents and loved ones to write words of encouragement for their children. If we test for 4 days then I include 4 different note cards for parents to decorate and personalize. I even include a sheet with sample phrases that they can get ideas from. Then on each morning of testing, before students arrive, I place their love notes on their desks. As they walk in, I get to sit back and watch the magic happen…

My kiddos faces beam with joy as they read and share how much their loved ones believe in them. Take  a peak…









I hope you find these tips useful with your own students and that they help bring a little bit of sunshine to your own classroom during those dreaded testing days. If you have any other tips or ideas that you’ve found to be beneficial with your own class I’d love to hear about them. I’m always on the look out for new ways to motivate my babies.

Good luck and happy testing!


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