Become a playwriter: improve writing and reading fluency


Do your students love it when they see you pull out a Reader's Theater script?  It is the one time when your students don't mind reading the same thing multiple times.  These scripts are a great way to improve students' fluency skills. 

Students love these scripts because they are based on books that are familiar to them.  Have you ever thought about having your students be the playwriter?  Why not let Reader's Theater help your students grow as readers AND writers!

I just added a new free packet to my store that included some printables to get you started.


You can either let your students write the script by themselves, with a partner, or small group.  There is a template for the script that should make it a little easier.  I recommend having your students outline the dialogue boxes with a marker.  Use different color for each character.

There are printables and suggestions for the performance.  There are frames if you want your students to make popsicle stick puppets or frames to write the names for character necklaces.


Your students can announce the title of the play on the sign above.


There are signs to announce different acts in case you have industrious writers.  I hope your students enjoy being a playwriter!

Click HERE to download this freebie.







Sources to make my blog post graphics can be found HERE. Click HERE to read my blog's disclosure statement.

Having fun when you can't celebrate Halloween at school!


Do you teach at a school that has a policy against using Halloween activities?  I've taught in a variety of schools with a wide variety of policy about this holiday. At some schools we could use Halloween activities as long as we didn't include anything scary like witches.  Other schools we could use about any type of activity except for students wearing costumes.  At one of my former schools, Halloween was a big event.  Students went home at lunch and changed into their costume.  Many parents took the day off of work.  When students returned after lunch, it was time to get ready for our school-wide parade.  Students paraded down the hall of the school and around the block of the school.  When we returned to our classroom, our room moms had the room decorated for a Halloween party.

At one of my schools, we were not allowed to incorporate any holiday into our lessons.  The district felt like this was the most sensitive thing to do when you teach students from a variety of cultures. We could use seasonal topics like scarecrows or pumpkins but the pumpkins couldn't be a jack 'o lantern.  I had mixed feelings about this policy. 

This policy sounds good when you read the policy as it is written on paper.  But, when you are in the trenches teaching little people, it doesn't work quite as simple as that.  Children, even those from cultures and faiths that may not celebrate Halloween, hear holiday music when they are at stores, see their neighbor's house that is decorated, and hear their friends talking about what they are going to be for Halloween at recess.  I found most of my students were excited about Halloween.

After a little brainstorming, I found a compromise that seemed to make everyone happy.  Listed below are topics that I've taught in October that followed the policy, and aren't Halloween-ish, yet allowed my students to have fun.

Social Studies:  Community Helpers Unit - Let your students dress up as their favorite community helper. Be very clear with your students that you do not consider a ghost, witch, or vampire as a future career for them.

Science:  

Animal families:
  • Mammal:  bats
  • Arachnids:  spiders
  • Birds:  owl
Nocturnal animals

Phases of the moon


Life cycles of:
  • Pumpkins
  • Bats
  • Spiders

Math:  

Pumpkin measurement unit

Reading:

Author study - dress up as your favorite book character.

Do you have any ideas to share of how you incorporate non-Halloween activities?  I would love to hear them!



I made a FREEBIE for you.  Click HERE to download it.


Looking for more tips?  Check out my October Pinterest board.  Click on the picture below.


Fern has a few tips to share with you, too.  Be sure to hop over to her blog!




Each week, Fern and I will share a teacher tip. We love to read teacher blogs and the latest teacher idea books and hope you do, too!  Stop by Fern's blog and my blog each week for our latest tips.  We hope you will share your ideas, too.  

Each week we will choose one person who shared a tip on our blog who will get a $10 shopping trip.  We will announce the winner on the following Tuesday's post.  

Do you have a non-Halloween lesson tip to share?  Be sure to include your email so I can contact you if you're the winner of the $10 shopping trip. You must leave your email address in order to win.

Looking for more ideas?  Click on the pictures below.












Sources to make my blog post graphics can be found HERE. Click HERE to read my blog's disclosure statement.

Halloween Party Tips - Bright Idea


Do you enjoy parties?  How about class parties?  Through the years, I have had great class parties and some that were a little on the crazy side.  Here are a couple of ideas that we did at my parties that were fun and less hectic.


One year I discovered the book, The Hallo-Wiener by Dav Pilkey.    This is such a great story!  I thought it would be fun to serve hallo-wieners at our party.  It ended up being a hit with my students and parents.  Parents loved it because the kids didn't go home all hyped-up on sugar from the party.

We cooked the wieners in a crockpot.  We put the wieners in the crockpot standing up which I think might have helped us fit more in it.  I asked for condiments that were bottles to make it easy and less messy.


This is a inexpensive snack to serve.  I have so many donations that I put extras in the teachers' lounge for the custodians.

Supplies needed:
-Wieners
-Hotdog buns
-Condiments (ketchup, mustard, relish)
-Potato chips
-Juice box or water bottles
-Crock pot(s)
-Power strip / extension cord
-Tongs
-Paper plates
-Napkins
-Handsanitizer
-Small cooler to put wieners in if you don't have a refrigerator nearby.


By the time of the party, kids are excited and the last thing they want to do is sit and be quiet.  One of my go-to activities is to play hot potato.  Only the potato is a seasonal object.  Target Dollar Spot is a great place to find a small plastic seasonal object. 


 Right now there are some little plastic pumpkins and spiders that would be perfect for this.  Have your students sit in a circle on the floor.  Give one student the seasonal shape.  Begin playing seasonal music.  Students pass the pumpkin or spider or whatever shape you have to the person next to the them.  When the music stops, the student that is holding the shape is "out".  That student now moves out of the circle.  This continues until there is only one person left who is the winner.  This game gets your students moving and they have to be quiet so they can hear the music.  It is a win-win!

Looking for some seasonal music?  Here are a few choices:
-Monster Mash
-The Addams Family
-Ghostbusters
-The Witch Doctor

I hope you have been joining us each month for our Bright Ideas Blog Hop.  My friends and I enjoy sharing ideas with you.  Don't forget to pin these to your Pinterest board so you'll have them handy when you need them.



I hope you will follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, and Bloglovin' so you don't miss out when I share more ideas and freebies!

Looking for more ideas?  Check out all the great ideas my friends are sharing this month.



Clipart to make my blog post graphics can be found HERE.  Click HERE to read my blog's disclosure statement.

Math Facts: Addition


I always consider it a compliment when I get a request from one of my buyers.  This past week, one of my buyers asked if I could do a math facts version of my Bubble Gum program.  She was using my Bubble Gum Sight Word (editable) program and thought this would be a good way to strengthen her students' math facts.  

With a little tweaking here and there, I now have a Bubble Gum (editable) Math Facts - Addition program.  This is the same format as the sight word and Popcorn Letter Sounds program.  If you are already doing those programs, your parents and students are already trained and ready to go!


There are two different versions so you can differentiate.  
  • Set #1 - addition facts 0-5
  • Set #2 - addition facts 0-10
This is the form that is put in the students' Bubble Gum folder.  Students are encouraged to learn at least one row of math facts per week.  Of course, they can learn more.

******Please note:  If you have a student with A.D.D./A.D.H.D., I would recommend that you use the math facts 0-5 version because it has fewer problems on the page.  It will be less overwhelming to your student.  The quiz that goes with that version is half a page and has half the amount of problems.  Once your students has learned all of the 0-5 facts, he or she can begin the other version beginning at the facts 6.  By this time, he or she will be familiar with the program and hopefully won't be as easily overwhelmed.

Sometimes you will hear that you should raise the bar high or students won't achieve. So, instead of having a goal of learning 3 facts a week you should set the goal of 6, 8, 10 or more facts per week.  I found that when I give students attainable goals like learning 3 facts per week, my students' confidence blooms.  As their confidence grows, they are more willing to take risk.  That is when they make great gains academically.


There are two sets of quizzes to match the different versions that the students are studying.  To add a little fun, give your students a gumball or sixlet which looks like a gumball but is chocolate when they ace their test.  I found this gumball machine at Hobby Lobby.  It is only 5 inches tall.  It was in the birthday party favors section.  It cost less than $2.00.


There are small flashcards that is the perfect size for small hands.  Give your students a copy so they can have their own flashcards to study at home.

I recommend copying them on different colors and putting them on rings.  You now have them ready to go for memory games which is fun for inside recess, a quick math center or use them for flashcard races.


In the picture is a couple of the printables included.  Use these to set up a math center.  I found the pumpkin ice trays at Dollar Tree.  They make perfect ten-frames. The bouncy balls are from Dollar Tree, too.  Don't they look like gumballs?  These are the perfect addition for a Bubble Gum Addition Center - yes, pun intended!


Don't have a trip to Dollar Tree planned in your future?  No problem, there are colorful ten-frames and black and white ones, too included with this packet.


These opened-ended pages can be put in a page protector so you have a paper-saver math center.  Students can use dominoes, playing cards, dice, or spinners to make their own problems.  There is also a black and white version of these pages included.


There are several different colorful and black and white spinners included.


Chart your students' progress with the charts included.  These forms and many of the forms in this packets EDITABLE in Powerpoint.  Please see the product overview on TPT to see which forms are included in the editable file.


Click HERE to see the Preview File.

Click HERE to visit my TPT store.










Sources to make my blog post graphics can be found HERE. Click HERE to read my blog's disclosure statement.

Parent-teacher Conference Tips & FREEBIES


Parent-teacher conferences are an important part of teaching.  The week of conferences is one of the most exhausting of the year.  I often found that after all of the meetings were over, my parents and students were more engaged.  It felt like we were working as a team.  Even though I communicated with my parents through all the usual methods like newsletters and phone calls before we met, the face-to-face meeting is always best!

The disadvantage of meeting with all of your parents at one time is having a limited amount of time to talk to parents.  I have found that it helps if you send home a note like the one below before the conference.  It serves as a reminder and helps the parents organize their thoughts.  It also helps you prepare for your meeting.  There is nothing worse than being blindsided when you are talking a parent.

On the actual day of conferences, I hang a note like the one below on my door.  I have found this to be the best way to keep me on schedule.  Parents who are waiting are never sure whether they should knock or not.  With this note, you are giving them permission.  It also reminds parents that your time is limited and you are doing your best to stay on schedule.



I put a student desk outside my door with a basket of candy and digital clock.  I keep another digital clock next to me on the table where I meet with parents.  Different people set their clocks to a t.v. news programs or computer site which means clocks aren't synchronized.  Having these two clocks keeps everyone happy!

Click HERE to download these free conference printables.

Looking for more tips?  Check out my October Pinterest board.  Click on the picture below.



Fern has a few tips to share with you, too.  Be sure to hop over to her blog!




Each week, Fern and I will share a teacher tip. We love to read teacher blogs and the latest teacher idea books and hope you do, too!  Stop by Fern's blog and my blog each week for our latest tips.  We hope you will share your ideas, too.  

Each week we will choose one person who shared a tip on our blog who will get a $10 shopping trip.  We will announce the winner on the following Tuesday's post.  


Our winner last week is Nicole.  Congratulations Nicole!

Do you have a parent-teacher conference tip to share?  Be sure to include your email so I can contact you if you're the winner of the $10 shopping trip. You must leave your email address in order to win.

Looking for more ideas?  Click on the pictures below.






Sources to make my blog post graphics can be found HERE. Click HERE to read my blog's disclosure statement.

Columbus - FREEBIE - Tuesday Teacher Tip


Celebrate Columbus Day with a science experiment and a freebie!  My students always enjoy our ship experiment.


Send home this note asking parents for supplies.

First, students will carve the shape of the ship out of the soap with a plastic knife. Just remind them that they can not touch their eyes when they are doing this.  I gave my students a plastic knife and paper plate so cleanup would be easier.  

Next, it is time to make a sail.  Hopefully, you have read several books about Columbus so they know how important the sail was for the ship.



I had different supplies that they could use to make the sail.  Materials included:  construction paper, card stock, tinfoil, tissue paper, and fabric.  They designed their sail and then glue it on a toothpick(s).  The toothpick was stuck into the bar of soap. Remind your students to write their name on their sail.

On sailing day, it is helpful if you have parent helpers because this can be a messy experiment.  Put ships in a ziplock bag when you finish sailing.  Make sure students wash hands thoroughly so they get all of the soap off of their hands when you are done.

I sailed my ships in a small child's wading pool like this one:

Click on picture for the link.

We went outside for the experiment.  My custodian was nice enough to fill the pool with water for me.  

If you don't have a parent volunteer that can fill a pool or a really nice custodian, you could use a baby bath tub.  There are traditional tubs or portable tubs like this one:

Click on picture for link.

It is small enough that you could use it in your classroom.  With the portable one, you could fold it up and use it every year.

The first time I did this experiment, I let my students, one table at at time, sail their ships.  Students quickly noticed whose ship sailed better than others and wanted to make changes to their ship.  After everyone had a turn to sail their ship, we went "back to the drawing board" to improve upon our design.  Isn't that what a good scientists does, observes experiments and makes changes based on observation?  We sailed a second time after we made improvements.  Then we recorded our results.


Click HERE to download this freebie



Looking for more tips?  Check out my Morning Messages Pinterest board.  Click on the picture below.



Fern has a few tips to share with you, too.  Be sure to hop over to her blog!




Each week, Fern and I will share a teacher tip. We love to read teacher blogs and the latest teacher idea books and hope you do, too!  Stop by Fern's blog and my blog each week for our latest tips.  We hope you will share your ideas, too.  

Each week we will choose one person who shared a tip on our blog who will get a $10 shopping trip.  We will announce the winner on the following Tuesday's post.  

Do you have a tip to share?  Be sure to include your email so I can contact you if you're the winner of the $10 shopping trip. You must leave your email address in order to win.

Looking for more ideas?  Click on the pictures below.







Sources to make my blog post graphics can be found HERE. Click HERE to read my blog's disclosure statement.

FREE Tool for Reading Group Lesson


Sound boxes are a great hands-on way to help your students develop phonological awareness by segmenting words into sounds or syllables. I like to introduce these in a small group setting and later set them up in a center.

Put one object under each box.  You can use BINGO chips, unifix cube, or fun seasonal shapes like the ones in the pictures below.
Say a word.
Have your student repeat the word slowly, stretching it out.
Students will push an object in each box for each sound he/she hears.
Remind your students that they will move one object for each sound, not each letter. 




I found the plastic spiders in the picture at Hobby Lobby.  The "Syllable Clap" assignment is from my Words, Words, Words packet.  This is an extension for the book, Diary of a Spider.


I love to add a little fun with seasonal shapes.  You can use small erasers like the ones at Target Dollar Spot.  In the picture are some plastic leaves I found at Hobby Lobby.  I thought these would be the perfect addition to a lesson about the book, There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves.  The "Raking Up Good Writing" assignment is from my Fall: Words, Words, and More Words.


In this packet are sound boxes with 3, 4, and 5 boxes so you can differentiate.  There is a colorful version like the ones above and an ink-saving black and white version. 


Click HERE to download this for FREE.



Looking for more ideas?  I am linking up with Jennifer @ InterActivities 4 All.  She has a fun linky party that you should check out!






Sources to make my blog post graphics can be found HERE. Click HERE to read my blog's disclosure statement.

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