Saturday, July 30, 2011

I Strongly Dislike Worksheets!

I can't stand worksheets.  There.  I said it.  I would rather see my students apply skills in other ways than just fill in a bunch of blanks on silly worksheets.  As such, my team and I try to think of ways that we can have our little avocados practice skills apart from those dreaded worksheets.  Here's just one way we do that...Proper Noun Jot Down.  The concept is really simple.  Kids turn over a proper noun card and use it correctly in a sentence.  My students L♥VE doing this station because they are able to create some awesome sentences.  And I l♥ve this station because I can easily differentiate it for various levels.

The preparation for this word work station is rather simple.  Print the proper noun cards onto cardstock.  (There are two pages of cards for a total of 24 cards.)  Laminate them and then cut them out.  I store each set in a snack-size Ziploc bag, and I made 8 sets.  Of course you can make as many sets as you'd like.  Also, I put a copy of the first page with the directions at this station in case my little bean burritos forget the instructions.  Easy peasey, lemon squeezy!

One last note...I live in Texas, so some of the proper nouns are indigenous to my great state.  If you'd like the Word version of this station so you can make any necessary changes to proper nouns that might be more recognizable to your students, just leave me a comment with your email.  

Oh, one more word...well, really, this one would be a note.  Here's a Proper Noun song: 

Tune: “If You're Happy and You Know It”

A noun is a person, place or thing.
A noun is a person, place or thing.
A common noun is general.
And a proper noun's specific.
A noun is a person, place or thing.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Pinterest L♥ve

Hi.  My name is Belinda, and I'm a Pinterest fanatic!  It is the chocolate chip cookie of the web.  The banana pudding of the Internet.  The yellow cake with chocolate icing of cyberspace.  (Yes, I have a sweet tooth.  I blame my mom.)

Seriously though, it is truly!  And since I have spent so much time on it this summer, I have asked myself this simple question...

If you'd like to join me on this journey of gathering and organizing great ideas found on the web, then
Follow Me on Pinterest

If you need an invite, just leave a comment with your email.

Daily 5 Weekly Recording Sheet

This summer I read The Daily 5 by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser.  I. L♥VED. IT.  The Daily Five is a series of literacy tasks (reading to self, reading to someone, work with writing, work with words, and listening to reading) which students complete daily INDEPENDENTLY while the teacher meets with small groups or confers with individuals.

Although I've done literacy stations for years, most of them were not routines; they were dependent on teacher directions and tied to a story or skill.  I'm excited to restructure my literacy time to include a structure promoted in The Daily 5.  As such, I had to create a recording sheet for my little tumbleweeds to use to show what they worked on during our Language Arts time.  My vision for this recording sheet is that my students will write what they did at each station each day.  I also created two versions of has a place for 15 Spelling Words and the other has room for 20 Spelling Words.  You'll also notice I have used Monday-Thursday and have omitted Friday.  I left Friday off because in my class, we usually utilize Fridays for completing work, taking tests, etc. 

Daily Five Weekly Record 15 Spelling Words

Daily Five Weekly Record 20 Spelling Words

If you'd like an editable version, just email me (  The title font used is Marker Felt Wide which can be downloaded for free here.

The Possibilities Are Endless...

I love having friends who are also teachers.  This summer I have spent a lot of time with a couple of kindergarten superstar teachers, Hope & Cris.  Both of these ladies are INCREDIBLE teachers who are always sharing their fantastic ideas with me.

On a daily recent shopping trip to the Dollar Tree, we came away with a bunch of these packs of 25 die-cut shapes.
So, Cris and Hope got right to work in creating a bunch of games that their little kindergarteners could enjoy.  The gist of their games is to sort or match a particular skill that they have written on cards.  Since I teach 2nd grade, I had to take their ideas and tweak them a bit.  Here is what I've come up with so far...

Synonym Match

Kids will turn all 24 cards face down.  They will then turn 2 over at a time trying to make a match of synonyms.  (The only reason I put a sticker on the back of each card is in the event I use this particular die-cut shape for another game and I needed something to show that these cards go together because they all have smiley face stickers on them.)  They will use this recording sheet.
Similarly, I made an Antonym Match game.
And finally, a compound word game was in order.  (These have self-checking stickers on the back because the cards will all start face up.)

If you'd like an editable version, just email me (  The title font is LD Cute Curls and can be found here.

Here are a couple of resources you might find helpful:

Saturday, July 23, 2011


I just linked up to Just Add Clipart's Teacher Freebie Linky Party. What a great idea for a Linky Party. There are almost 100 teachers participating! That's nearly 100 FREEBIES!  

My freebie is a Back to School Success Kit found here.  Also check out my Too Cool for School Linky Party with some awesome tips, tricks, techniques, and time-savers.

Thanks, Lauren, for a great party!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Back to School Success Kit

I know most of us would love to prolong our summer vacations, but let's get real.  Back to school is just a few short weeks away.  If you're like me (and I know you are), you are a planner.  So I've put together a Back to School Success Kit. I can't take credit for every idea in the kit; I scoured the web for the best of the best ideas.  Here's what's inside:

·First Day of School Checklist
·Weekly Planner
·Procedures & Routines
·Supply Labels
·How We Are Going Home Chart
·Attention Grabbers
·Read Aloud Books
·First Day Certificates
Here’s a sneak peek of what you’ll see…
I tweaked an idea that I saw at

There are certificates for K-5th grade.
I hope you have a wonderful start of the new school year, and may God bless you with a sensational class.  Click here to download your Back to School Success Kit.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Must-Read Book (Even if You Can't Read)

Clutter-free Classroom is having a week long linky party and today's question makes me drool!  Here it is:  Complete this sentence, “Based on the illustrations alone, my favorite picture book is _________.” Use photos or additional sentences to support your choice.

I love SO many picture books that narrowing it down to just one is a challenge.  But one of my favorite picture books, based on the illustrations alone, is Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline.  Of course, this Christmas story is precious and touching, but the illustrations are amazing and breathtaking.  They tell a story all on their own.  Just reading the illustrations in this picture book brings me great joy!

So be sure to head over to Clutter Free Classroom to check out this Linky Party and the whole week's worth of Linky Parties they have going on there.

Also, be sure to stop by my Too Cool for School Linky Party.  With the summer heat upon us, we are staying cool by sharing the coolest tips, tricks, techniques, and time-savers we know.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Too Cool for School Linky Party

I'm a native Texan which means I'm used to hot weather.  But lately it has been a little unbearable.  We've suffered through 15 consecutive days of triple-digit temperatures.  I'm sorry, but 107 is not ok.

So, it got me thinking...yes, I may be a little delusional due to the heat, but anyway... How about throw a linky party to cool off!?!?!  I want to know the coolest tip, trick, technique, or time-saver that you use in your classroom.  If you want to include more than one cool idea, then feel free to take the plunge.  But just one cool tip is enough.

Here is my cool tip:
  • Use a yellow highlighter and write "Original" across any paper that you want to save in your files.  The word "Original" won't show up if you copy the paper, and it reminds you that it's your last copy.
So let the cool party begin!  And it would be really cool if you could follow my blog as you link up.  Feel free to share a link from your blog or share your tip in a comment.  Either way...stay cool!

Friday, July 15, 2011

My Teacher Always Says...

Mrs. Bainbridge is having a cute linky party asking the question, "What do you find yourself frequently saying to your students?"  You know, cute sayings, things you heard your mom say, and other quips that roll off your tongue like a seal on a Slip-n-Slide.  Here are mine...

  • "Uh oh..." I know, so original.  I didn't even realize I was saying this ALL THE TIME until a new teammate told me that after a few months on my team she knew she belonged in 2nd grade because she found herself saying the the same thing.  
  • "I'd be happy to _________ as soon as __________."  This works well when you want your little squirrels to make a change in their behavior without being negative.  For example, "I'd be happy to take us to the library as soon as I see all of my little grapefruits standing quietly."
  • "I'm going to have to do something about that.  I need some time to think about what though.  I'll let you know when I've made a decision.  Try not to worry about it."  Love and logic at its best!
  • "I love you."  In my opinion, you just can't hear that enough!
So open your big mouth and link up at Mrs. Bainbridge's Class.

Round 'Em Up, Move 'Em Out

Sometimes teaching is like herding cattle, and the end of the day in any classroom can be chaotic or calm.  In an effort to make mine more like the latter, I've been searching for new ideas for when I need to round 'em up and move 'em out.  Here are just a few:

  • I made a list of silly ways to say Good-bye because I want my little apple pies to leave each day with a smile on their faces.  This could be made into a poster and displayed near the door/hall. (This PDF has a full-color version and a black-and-white version.)
  • Play a song during your pack up time.  "So Long, Farewell" from The Sound of Music would be a nice cue.  Or you could even have a song of the week, changing songs each week.  Teach your little DJs that by the end of the song you would like for their chairs to be stacked, their backpacks to be ready, their voices to be off, and their bodies to be sitting in a designated place.
  • Play a game of "21" as a class. Everyone stands and we go round the group, each person saying one, two or three numbers. For example, the first player might say "one, two, three." Then maybe the second player says, "four, five."  The third player can say "six," or "six seven," or "six seven eight."  The player who says "21" is eliminated. (They sit down.) The next player starts over with "one," "one two," or "one two three." This strategy game is sure to keep them involved until dismissal.
  • The Responsive Classroom Approach suggests doing a Closing Circle at the end of the day.  There are some GREAT ideas here.
  • Play Whisper - Start with the teacher whispering something to the first person (only once).  The first player then whispers what s/he heard to the next person and so on. The last person has to say it out loud.  This would be a great time to review a concept, a vocabulary word, a math fact, etc.
  • Play a game of ABC- Start by choosing a category.  For example, let's say the category is animals.  The first person says an animal that begins with the letter A. The second person has to repeat the A animal then add a B one. The third person has to say the A animal, B animal, and add a C animal and so on. We see how many letters we can get to.  I played this at camp with my 6th grade girls and they loved it!
  • Brent Vasicek has a video along with some great ideas here.
What's your best way to end the day before dismissal?  Leave a comment here....yee haw!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Grade-Level Party!

Have you ever wanted to see the blogs of a bunch of 2nd grade teachers (for example) but wished you didn't have to go through so many searches to find them?  Hop on over to The Teacher's Lane and you'll be able to easily find what you're looking for!  Blogs for Pre-K to High School...a little something for everyone!  Sweet!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What I Could Not Teach Without

Mrs. Lamb at Views from Room 205 is having a linky party. Hop on over and link up!

Here are the things I couldn't teach without:

1.  My sits on my lap at night like a precious little puppy bringing me warmth and love.  Oh and it's good for finding good teaching & classroom ideas, too.

2.  A supportive, skilled and sweet administrator can make my job easier!

3.  There are so many great apps on my iPhone that it's hard to imagine teaching without one.

4. A wonderful team who likes to have fun while changing lives is critical.

5.  FONTS!!!!!!!!!!  Enough said.

Thank you, Mrs. Lamb, for a fun Linky party!


I am loving Pinterest!  It's a new site where you can "pin" things that you have found on the web.  According to the Pinterest site, "Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes."  And some of us use it to catalog of the wonderful classroom ideas we find, too!

Need an invite?  If you want to be a part of this great online community, let me know and I will send you an invitation. Just leave your email in the comment section below.
(All I ask is that you follow my blog in return...)
Want to follow me on Pinterest?  Just click on the Pinterest logo in this post.  Happy Pinning!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Name Calling!

Wordle: Dakota
Creating a Wordle is so easy and fun!
In my humble opinion, the most powerful word in any classroom is a student's name.  I'm not talking about using it to redirect misbehavior or to call on a student to answer a question (although those circumstances are necessary).  In my experience, using a child's name in a positive tone of voice reflects love and care which can lead to a deeper level of respect in that relationship.  I try to use a student's name in the middle of our conversation, and the big smile I see lets me know how warm and fuzzy she/he feels.  It just goes to show what Dale Carnegie says about names is true: "Remember that a person's name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language." It reminds me of Proverbs 16:24: "Kind words are like honey--sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  So, be a name caller!

Quick ideas to encourage name calling:

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Online Storytime

Check this out!  Here's another great tool for improving fluency, comprehension, and a love for reading!  Hop on over to Little Literacy Learners to see what Barnes and Noble is offering online.  Super cool!  Thanks, Little Literacy Learners, for sharing!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Dollar Treats! Oh So Neat!

A recent visit to the Dollar Spot at Target as well as a quick trip to Dollar Tree resulted in a station idea for nonfiction reading and writing.  These flash cards at Target caught my eye...well, these and the Starbucks located at the front of the store.  The reason the cards appealed to me is because some of my 2nd grade monkeys are reluctant nonfiction readers, mainly because they become overwhelmed with the amount of text in a nonfiction book.  These cards have just the right amount of information as well as some great text features.  Of course, I had to think of some {Task Cards} that could be used for these little jewels of facts and information.  I'm thinking I will print these task cards on cardstock, laminate them, cut them out, and store them with these flash cards.  (You can even punch a hole in the top left corner to put them on a binder ring and hang from a wall or cabinet.)  During Work on Writing, my tiny grapefruits can help themselves to a set of flash cards, select a task card, and explore a topic.  And the stackable bins from Dollar Tree were just the perfect size for so many classroom needs.

Give a Smelly for Good Choices

My dear friend, Hope, teaches kindergarten.  She is a saint.  She is what you envision when you think of the sweet kindergarten teacher who let you use all of the crayons in the box AND gave you glue, yarn, scissors, googly eyes, and colored paper to create whatever you wanted.  (Sorry about that...flashback!)
Anyway, Hope is an excellent teacher, and I try to steal all of her ideas as often as possible.  One of her gems is how she uses Lip Smackers.  You can pick up these fragrant lip balms rather inexpensively and yet your little muskrats will go crazy when you pull one out.  Hope rewards (and by default encourages) her students when they make good choices with a "Smelly."  She just puts a dot of the lip balm on a well-behaving student's hand as an aromatic way to say, "Great job!"  And I can tell you from experience with my 2nd graders, they LOVE to get a Smelly.  Give it a try!  Thanks, Hope! 


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