Thursday Book Talk ~ Mr. George Baker and Character

It is that time of the week again ~
This week's book is one that I will use next week with my third graders.  We have been working through many of the lessons at to help them with many aspects of comprehension strategies and skills.  If you have not used, you really should check it out!  It is chock full of FREE resources for Grades K-6.

OK ~ Onto the book review part!

In the first lesson on character, the suggested book is Mr George Baker by Amy Hest.
The book is about a young boy who has befriended an older man who cannot read.  Each day they wait for the bus together to go to school.  Hest does a wonderful job describing Mr. Baker through the young boy's eyes, which lends itself to some great discussion on character.  The boy tells the story in an almost sing-song tone saying things like "That's George, all happy and snappy in the morning."  Children will enjoy the rhythm of the book as they look into the world of a young boy and his much older friend! has a fabulous lesson which reflects on describing the character.  I am going to use it with my third graders to make inferences about the character.  Since the book describes the characters and his actions through the words of a young boy, we will use it to give some good character traits for Mr. George Baker.  I made this graphic organizer to help them get their thoughts together.  I am going to use it to help them make inferences about the character Mr. George Baker.  It can be used for any book with good character details.  Click here or on the picture below to grab this freebie.
I hope this helps you in your reading endeavors!  Enjoy!!

Until next time!

Silly Easy to Make Free Learning Mazes

This week is full of fun in the Reading Center!  {Of course, it is always fun in the Reading Center!}  For my Kindergarteners and First Graders, we are focusing on Dr. Seuss Fun.

Earlier this year, I found this wonderful video from Teacher Tipster.  Have you seen him?  He has AMAZING and simple ideas that anyone can use!!  This one was so easy I used it that very day!  You simply take any maze, add words, letters, math problems, etc. to it.  Then the kids have to follow the path to the end.  If they get to a "dead end", they have to go back and read all of the words they went over {or whatever you have for them to do}.

Here is a video because he explains it soooo much better than I ever could!

 Here is the maze I am using that I got from Homeschool Share Blog.

Then I added to them to make mazes for my various students. 
Letters of the Alphabet ~ They have to go in order to get to the end.

Sight Words

Short a/Short u Words ~ Follow only those words to the end.
The students LOVE these, and they are so easy to make.  Here are some sites with some good FREE mazes!  Or you could always use coloring books pages with them in it.

Krazy Dad ~ "books of mazes"
Mazes Online
Print ~ Has letter mazes to print
All Kids Network ~ LOTS of FREE mazes!

Just "Google" free mazes and see what you get ~ LOTS of free mazes!

Hope this is something fun your kids will enjoy too!  Any grade level would love this because you can get some really intricate mazes and put in vocabulary or math problems for the older crowd.  My third graders love when I make these for them too!  I love watching and listening to them work them out!

Until next time!

Book Talk Thursday ~ Seusstastic Books

It's another edition of Book Talk Thursday!
Wow!  Dr. Seuss' birthday sure did sneak up on me!  This week I am focusing on some great Dr. Seuss books that can be used in various grade levels. Usually I focus on one book, but this week, I am focusing on several books.  Here goes!

I don't work with preschoolers, but I do have a toddler at home.  We LOVE to read Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?  Ginny Beth loves to make the sounds.  This book is perfect for helping young children hear sounds in the world, an important phonemic awareness skill!

Next week I am actually going to do this with kindergarten.  I have two lovely groups of kindergarteners.  One group still struggles with rhyming and various phonemic awareness skills.  The other is ready to read!  As a matter of fact, they can blend letters into words.  I am just working with them now, so I won't have to see them later!

So, with my lower group, I am going to read Green Eggs and Ham to them.  We are going to match up rhyming words.  I know this seems like what everyone does, but it will be great for the students.  I am also going to read some other great books like Fox in Socks with them to find rhyming words.

With my other group of kindergarteners, I am going to read In a People House.  The book is full of everyday objects found in a house that a bird and mouse show the reader.  I am going to have the students match the every day objects to the pictures.  This may be a challenge, but they are ready!

Again in first grade, I have two distinctive groups.  I have one group that struggles with reading words, and another group that tries to read the book before I even have time to preview it with them.  But, they all have different needs.

For my struggling group, I am going to read There's a Wocket in my Pocket.  Since they still struggle with rhyme, this will be our focus.  We are going to focus on the rhyming words and nonsense words in the book.  After reading it, we are going to work on decoding CVC nonsense words.  This has been a struggle for many of these students, but it will help them to decode real words when they need it.

My other group, I am going to focus on color words again.  I noticed today that they struggled with these a little in an activity we were doing.  A perfect book for this is My Many Colored Days.  I love this book and would read it to Zack a lot when he was having a kind of rough day.  The book goes through the colors and associates them with moods.  I love it!  Not your typical Dr. Seuss, but great for "those kind of days".  Anyway, we are going to use the colors to color and label various hats.  We are also going to rebuild scrambled sentences with the color words.

The rest of the groups will be focusing on nonfiction since that is the BIG push now.  I am quite enjoying it myself!  I am not going to use any Seuss books with them, as they will be reading the nonfiction.
Speaking of nonfiction, there is a great series of "The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That" books about nonfiction!  They are written by Tish Rabe and illustrated by Aristides Ruiz.  In the books the Cat in the Hat takes the kids on journeys to see the time or place he wants to show.  The books even include text features like captions and diagrams to help children learn about the subject matter.  It is kind of like The Magic School Bus in rhyme.  These are wonderful for helping students understand various concepts in the curriculum.

This was one of my son's favorites.

There are so many great Dr. Seuss books to use to teach various concepts!  When I was a classroom teacher, I used them to teach everything from matter in science to economics in social studies!  What fun the kids have when books of any kind are involved!

What are some of the books you will use for Read Across America or Dr. Seuss' birthday?

Also, don't forget that if you suggest a book to review {picture, chapter, or professional}, and I use it, you can choose any one item from my TPT store as a "thank you"!  I have several on my list!  Thank you to Susan Fletcher for reminding me that Dr. Seuss' birthday is next week!  She gets to choose any item from my store!
Just leave a comment below or send me an email with your ideas!  Don't forget your email address!!

Until next time!

President's Day Freebie!

Happy Monday!  I am so envious of all of you who have off today!  My husband is off with my little girl, and I hope they are heading back to the store today to get my new purse with the 20% off coupon!  If not, I will be one unhappy Momma!

On to the real stuff!  I needed a good poem for my first graders this week for President's Day, but I just could not find one that I liked.  Either they were waayy too hard or waayy too corny, so did what I always do in this situation ~ wrote my own!  And, I am going to share it with you, my followers!  Click here or the picture below for your copy!
I use poetry each week to help with fluency and various word activities.  Many times I use sight words, but I also work with the spelling features the students need or other special words.  Last week, I focused on contractions with my second graders.  They loved it!

We read the poem all week, sometimes chorally, sometimes partner, sometimes alone, but always reading it.  On Wednesday, we get out the highlighters and highlight words in the poem.  On Thursday, we illustrate the poems on the back of it.  I keep them in a file for my students and then bind them together for a book to read.  They take them home over the summer and keep them forever.  This year I had several students tell me how much they enjoyed reading their poetry books over the summer.   Wow!  Love that from the kids!

I hope you enjoy the freebie!

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday


Five for Friday, February 15th

What a week!  I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for her Five for Friday Linky Party!
1.  I started my Mardi Gras unit this week.  I was so excited to find a King Cake for my kids at Kroger.  I snatched it up for $8, and we ate it on Fat Tuesday!
 Then when I got home, I had this yummy cream cheese filled king cake straight from Haydel's Bakery in New Orleans!  Yummy!  The UPS guy had put it upside down on the front porch, but it was still so yummy!!!

  2.  On Monday I got another great surprise!  I signed up at for their Wishpool to get a keyboard and telescoping stylus for my ipad.  What a great surprise when I got the email saying I had been chosen to receive my wish!  I got it on Monday and used it on Tuesday.  I love that it is red and not black!

 The kids worked across the table to use my ipad to match the letters.  What fun!

3.  I love those cups that have the straws, and I have one for just about every holiday.  Here is my Mardi Gras one I got before the Jimmy Buffett concert.

I had made myself a Valentine's Day cup out of one that someone had given me.  I just used Sharpie markers for it.

On Wednesday, I left my cup at work and just thought that I would refill it the next morning.  When I went in Thursday morning, it was nowhere to be found.  I searched and searched to no avail!  I am beginning to think that the computer guy took it and has held it hostage!  Luckily one of my students gave me this wonderful cup!  {My husband gave me the flowers, and another student gave me the candy.}  I just used that cup for the past two days!

4.  I give out Valentine's to the students I work with each year.  A couple of years ago, I got these packs for 30 cents at Kroger!  Mad Libs for the older kids and  Hidden Pictures for the younger.  They LOVED them!!  We had fun finding pictures and doing Mad Libs together.

5.   Today was Hat Day, and I forgot my hat.  My good friend Sarah at Learning is for Superstars let me borrow her sombrero!  Need I say more?!
What a fun week!  How was your week?  Let us know and link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for the Five for Friday Linky!


Thursday Book Talk ~ George Washington's Cows

Happy Valentine's Day!  I was going to review a Valentine's Day book, but I am thinking President's Day now for next week!  I was looking for a book to read with my son and found this one on his shelf.  I just couldn't pass it up!

 The book George Washington's Cows by David Small is a fun look at why George Washington decided to "go into politics".  The book looks at his life at Mount Vernon, his home in Virginia, along with his farm animals.  The cows live in the house and are pampered.  His pigs were servants in the house and loved to clean.  And his sheep appeared to be intelligent.

The book gives an entertaining look into the life of the Father of Our Country.  The illustrations are fun to look at and will intrigue young children.

It is perfect for students in the elementary school, and children will enjoy hearing it.  I plan to use this next week with a group of students who will be learning about George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.  This will add a little lighthearted humor to what they already know.

After learning about both presidents, I plan to have the students write about Abraham Lincoln and one of his "animals" in a funny way.  They will tell what the animals did in his home before he was president.  Depending on your students' abilities, you could even have it rhyme like the book does. 

I have included a freebie writing page for you to use.  It can really be for anything, but I am going to use it for our Abraham Lincoln book.
I hope everyone has had a wonderful Valentine's Day!  We don't do much special here, especially on a weeknight!  Enjoy the freebie!

Until next time!

February Holiday Sale! Flash Giveaway!

Quick post today to let you know that I am having a 10% off sale in both my Teachers Pay Teachers store and my Teachers Notebook shop to celebrate some super fun holidays!

Today is Mardi Gras, which I just love!  I miss the times of my youth where we just enjoyed the traditions so innocently!

Thursday is Valentine's Day! What more can we say?

And Sunday was the Chinese New Year!  Wow!  What a week!!!

What are you doing for these fun holidays?  Answer and comment below with your email, and I will choose one lucky winner to get my Mardi Gras Fun Literacy Unit!  I will choose a winner this evening a little after 8:00 PM EST.

Laissez les bon temps rouler!!

Mardi Gras Fun Freebies!

Yes, you read that right ~ FREEBIES!  I have two freebies for you today!  Tuesday is Mardi Gras, and since I am a Louisiana girl, I have worked hard to make a kid friendly unit to tell one of my third grade groups about what I did as a kid for Mardi Gras.  No big parties or crazy parades for me, just a lot of innocent fun and tradition!

I have created these fun doubloons sound boxes for you.  The file includes some for words with three sounds, words with magic-e, and with four sounds.  These are NOT part of my unit, but a freebie, just for those who read and stop by my blog.  Enjoy them!

The other freebie is part of my Mardi Gras Fun unit.  It is the gameboard that goes with my "Take Me to the Mardi Gras" Main Idea/Details Game.  It can be used with anything, so I wanted to share it with you!  Enjoy!

If you want to teach about Mardi Gras, which is this Tuesday, February 12th, hop on over to my Teachers Pay Teachers store or my Teachers Notebook shop for your copy!  I will update it each year with the correct date, which will always be a free re-download!


Enjoy your freebies!  Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday
Until next time!

Thursday Book Talk ~ The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore

It is time again for another book review!  Oh, how I love to read, and this week's is no different!  Every Thursday I will feature a new book that you can use to help with your classroom instruction.  Remember, if you have any good books you would like to recommend, please let me know!  I am always looking for new books to read or old ones to reread!

This week, I am reviewing the book I won from A Year of Reading.  {If you do not follow this blog, you must!  There is always a great deal of information on this blog that helps with reading instruction.}  About a month ago, I won the book The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore .  I was so excited when I received it and read the book.  It has such a wonderful lesson!  Click below to see it on Amazon.

The book is about a young boy who has lost his passion for writing.  He meets a young girl floating away with books who leaves him with a book. The book leads him to a building, which resembles a library, where he lives away his days reading and writing.  The story follows him as he grows older, until his book "ends".  The book ends with an interesting twist that will make you yearn for more.

The book says it is geared towards K-2 students, but I feel the book has more depth than they would understand.  I used it with the third graders while their teacher completed the district reading assessments.  The students pulled the theme from the book right away:  no matter what, everyone can find something they can enjoy to read.  And when they do, books will take you to new places.  The students also realized that authors have different purposes for writing books.  This book was to not only entertain, but it had a twinge of persuasion in it.  It actually persuaded some students to go out and find good books.  Wow!

The students also watched the Academy Award Winning Short Film one day when I was in a meeting.  They said they enjoyed the book better because it explained so much more!

Throughout the week, we read other books and did activities that revolved around author's purpose.  We used the anchor charts that we had made in our small groups to help everyone understand each purpose for books.
Here are some of the author's purpose activities we did throughout the week.

The students used book orders to choose three BOOKS they would like to read, no matter the price.  They then had to write about what they think the book is going to be about and why they want to read it.  Most of the books they chose were to entertain them.

For informative text, we looked at books and found features of them that helped us better understand the parts of the books.  The students copied my circle map with the parts of informative text in it and then looked for those parts.  If that was there, they did nothing or checked it off.  If the feature was not present, they crossed it out.  This was quick and easy and allowed the students to really think about the parts of the book.

For persuasion, the students wrote letters to the teacher to try to get her to change something in the classroom.  They came up with some pretty convincing arguments.

The Fantastic Flying Books of  Mr. Morris Lessmore is a great book for a springboard for discussion with students about reading.  Students will find reasons to read and hopefully be inspired to find what interests them.  I will use this book each year to help students find the right books for them to read and to help with author's purpose.

 Tune in next Thursday for another "Book Talk".  What do you think of the name?  I am not sold on it and am open to new ideas!  Any suggestions would be wonderful!

Until next time!


Lookie What I Found!

Quick post tonight because I just couldn't pass this up!  I was going through some OLD things in my closet at home that I had brought home for Zack.  I could definitely use them with my kindergarteners to help with beginning sounds.  Here is what I found!
Circa 1978 and 1985
So, I looked through the pictures and found these:
Boy, those are blasts from the past!  I wonder if the students would even know what they are! 

Have you found any blasts from the past in your classrooms?  It sure is funny what gets left behind for us to inherit!

Until next time!