FREE Electronic books and podcasts


Getting lost in Pinterest is one of my favorite past times.  It is like going on a treasure hunt.  I am always finding new treasures.  I thought I share a few of my latest treasures that are also free with you so you can enjoy them, too.

Some of the teachers who have purchased my Magazines and More packet asked for ideas for free or inexpensive magazines.  The packet includes a note asking for donations from parents.  I also have good luck at thrift stores and used book stores.  Below are links to sites with articles so you can add a tech connection.



The Smithsonian Institute has a site called Tween Tribune that is a great place to find articles about current events.  You can search for articles by topics or Lexile levels.  Articles are written for students K-12th grade.


Youngzine is another site that is a great place to find articles.  Topics are organized by:
  • World News
  • Science & Tech
  • Our Earth
  • Society & Tech
  • Our Earth
  • Society & Arts
  • U Write
  • Play Zine
  • Classroom - which has suggestions for teachers


Learn Out Loud has a collection of Aesop's fables that is available through iTunes as a podcast.  


There is also a collection of famous speeches available on Learn Out Loud.  You will want to bookmark this for your social studies lessons.  Perfect addition to your Presidents Day and Martin Luther King Jr. units.


Are you planning an author study?  Check out the Robert Munsch site.  His site has free recordings of his books, read by the author himself!  How great is that?!!! 

I love the story called Moose.  Be sure and read about the story behind the story that is listed with each recording.  Your students would enjoy hearing about the life of an author.  


This site has Eric Carle books nicely organized and available with just a click.


New Hampshire Public Television has a collection of Caldecott/Newberry literature videos that your students will enjoy.  Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, Where the Wild Things Are, and Strega Nona are my favorites.



Looking for informational text / non-fiction lessons?  National Geographics has a large collection of Young Explorer magazines that students can listen and read online.













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

Creative Thinking: Brain Trainers


With divergent thinking, the possibilities are endless!

For some students, thinking creatively and out-of-the-box comes naturally.  For others, modeling is needed in the beginning.  With practice, all your students can train their brains to think creatively and see things in a different way.

If you follow my blog, you have read about my V-8 moments in teaching. Do you remember the old commercials where the actor is drinking something and then sees V-8 and bangs his/her head and says, "I should have had a V-8" because it is a better (more nutritious) drink. In teaching, I have been doing teaching something one way, and then read about or think of a better way and then feel like I want to bang my head, too.  Divergent thinking is one of my V-8 moments.


A few years ago, I had a student that struggled with letter identification when I was teaching kindergarten. None of the traditional methods were effective with him.  One rainy day, I made a die cut letter for each of my students of the letter we were studying that week. I told them to arrange the letter on their paper however they wanted and then make it into something.  They could flip it, turn it in any directions, and move it so that it could turn into something new.  They would then complete the sentence, “This used to be the letter__ , but now it is ____.” We were studying the letter J at the time.  Some students made their letter into the runners of a sled; others made it into a cane that their Grandpa used. The boy who had trouble learning his letters created an elaborate picture showing the letter J holding up his trampoline. A light was switched on in his mind. He could make pictures in his mind of the letters and remember the name of the letters because of the pictures.  After this experience, I made pictures with die-cut letters a standard center.

Divergent thinking is often thought of as a skill that is incorporated in gifted and talented or art curriculum.  I think this skill should be incorporated in our lessons and used with all students.  My experience began with a simple rainy day activity and turned into a low prep, effective literacy center.  This divergent thinking activity was able to reach my student when traditional methods weren’t.

As you can tell from my example, these types of activities do not have to add to your already full schedule.  It can be used as a fun inside recess activity, Friday Fun Day activity, or let it be a group or partner activity after your students know the format of the lessons included with this packet.

I realize that you may not always have time or access to a die-cut machine.  So, I made some Christmas themed activities that you can incorporate into your day, even if you have a jam-packed day.


My new Brain Trainer: Christmas packet includes 15 "It used to be a (Christmas graphic), now it is a" activities.  The sign in the picture above is included.  There is a colorful and black and white version of the sign.  

Set this up as a morning check in.  Hang one of these signs on white board or chart tablet paper. Students will write their answer when they arrive.  You can also use it as a way to take attendance.



You can also use the signs for partner or small group work.  


There are word cards and worksheets, too.  Use the worksheets for seat work, homework, morning work, or set them up as a center.


Does your class have a wide range of abilities this year?  There are extension cards included so you can differentiate this activity.


Click HERE if you'd like to check out the preview file.












Sources to make my blog post graphics can be found HERE. 

Click HERE to read my blog's disclosure statement.

Geography Fun, FREEBIE, and Giveaway


Do you like geography games like, Where in the world is Carmen San Diego?  This is the perfect time of the year, to incorporate geography with your lesson plans.  A Christmas and Celebrations Around the World unit is an easy unit to incorporate geography.

Don't have time for a lengthy unit? How about a quick "Where am I?" partner activity? This is fun to do when you return from a break.  You can also use this activity when your students research countries or states.
Students will write 3 clues about their location in the boxes. Then switch papers with a partner to see if their partner can guess their location.  For an extension activity, have your partners share their clues with the class, their partner's guess, and then show the location on a map.  Click HERE to download this freebie.

I thought you might like to do a blogger's version of "Where am I?" to see if you can guess where I spent my Thanksgiving holiday.  Enter your guess and email address on the rafflecopter at the end of this post.  The rafflecopter will choose a random person.  If that person, has the correct answer, he or she will win a $25 shopping spree in my TPT store.  I will keep drawing names until I draw a name with the correct city and state
I live in the San Francisco bay area.  To get to this location, I traveled by airplane over 4 hours.  I landed at an airport that is named after a President.  My family and I still had a 3 hour car trip to reach our final destination. 

I knew I was no longer in California when I got off the airplane and asked one of the employees a question.  The man answered with a, "yes, Ma'am".  I had not been called Ma'am since I lived in Texas.
The weather was mild during our stay.  Most days the temperature was in the 40's.  We were thankful that it didn't snow or rain when we were there.  
The land is quite beautiful.  There are twisty roads that follow the hilly terrain.  
If you are a fisherman or you are married to one, you have probably heard of the biggest employer in this town. This company is famous for their bass boats.  My husband dreamed of owning one of this company's center console, tunnel hull boats when we lived in Texas.  He spent quite a bit of time bay fishing.


Fish has always been one of our daughter's favorite foods.  She ate catfish several times this trip.  You will often be served one of my favorite foods at catfish restaurants in this state . . . and no, it is not the fish.
Years ago, when my husband and I were newlyweds, his aunt and uncle took us out to eat at one of their favorite restaurants.  The restaurant served pickled green tomatoes.  It was my first experience eating them.  I loved them at first bite.  Ever since then my mother-in-law makes them for me when we visit.  My mother-in-law with a little help from her sister gave me the recipe this weekend.  If you'd like to try something new and delicious, click HERE for the recipe.  Or go to a catfish restaurant and eat their pickled green tomatoes.


When we were visiting my husband's family, we stopped in to see one of his uncles.  Before he retired, his uncle was in high demand for his skills with wood. He was known for his custom cabinets.  He also found time, to make our daughter a beautiful shelf when she was little.

His uncle showed us some of the fiddles that he had restored. He made a fiddle from a tree on his property.  I love to hear the stories behind the instruments and furniture.

Fiddle is an instrument you will commonly hear in music if you visit some of the tourism sites that are near here.

Where did I spend Thanksgiving (city and state)?

Leave your guess and email address in the rafflecopter below:









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

Holiday Book Craft and Activity Linky


Have you begun making plans for December? Some of my friends and I were talking about holiday plans last week. We thought it would be fun if we shared a holiday book and a craft or activity to go along with it.  To make it a little easier for you, we made our posts into a linky party.  All you have to do is go to the bottom of each of our blogs and click on a picture to visit the next blogger who will share some fun ideas.  As a holiday bonus, we are each hosting a giveaway.  The more blogs you visit, the greater your chances are of winning!


Yesterday, I was at Barnes and Noble doing a little Christmas shopping when I discovered a new author named Tim Bugbird.  Have you read any of his books?  I bought Katie The Candy Cane Fairy and Georgie The Gingerbread Fairy.  I know they say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover.  But, it was the cover that initially caught my eye.  Look at the cover (above) and you can quickly see how adorable the graphics are.  Your students will love trying to figure out what happened to the stripes of Katie's candy canes.

Then I opened the book and was enthralled with the story.  Both of these stories remind me of the Fancy Nancy stories.  The stories are full of descriptive words which makes it perfect for teaching so many different skills. You and your students will love the rich vocabulary.   


Georgie, the Gingerbread Fairy book takes place in Fairyland.  Georgie owns a shop that sells gingerbread. A fairy named Teena opens up a store next door that makes and sells tinsel.  This creates a problem for Georgie.  Your students will enjoy finding out how Georgie solves her problem so there is peace once again in Fairyland.

This story also has rich vocabulary.  You have probably seen the different Fancy Nancy bulletin boards on Pinterest.  I have several of them pinned on my Reading Pinterest board.  How about making a Fancy Nancy-inspired bulletin board but use tinsel instead of a feather boa?  You could call these glittery words!  If you are really brave, let your kids decorate their words with glitter.


I know many of you will soon be giving another Dibel's test so you are looking for fluency activities.  I made Reader's Theater scripts about these two stories which are a fun way to practice fluency skills.  Plus, at this time of year, your students are a little off-task right?  They are excited about Christmas and have trouble containing their enthusiasm.  Why not channel that energy into performing a play?  These scripts are included in my new Reader's Theater and More packet.  This series of packets includes extensions activities for the scripts plus props (see name necklace in picture above) for the play.


I made a Candy Cane FREEBIE last year that would be a nice extension to Katie, The Candy Cane Fairy story.  In the picture above is one of the activities.  Your students can either paint the strips of the candy cane on the left or design their own candy cane on the right.  Add peppermint extract to the paint to add a little seasonal smell and fun.  Don't forget to add a few drops of dish soap so clean up time will be easier.  There are also short and long a sorting printables included with this packet.


I am giving away my new Reader's Theater and More packet that features these books.


Looking for more December themed lessons?  Check out this Pinterest board.


Don't forget to visit my friends and enter their giveaways.  They are going to share their favorite holiday book and an inspired craft or activity.








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

Teacher Tips, Behavior Management Tip, Stress Management, Chevy Educator Discount and FREEBIE

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Chevrolet. All opinions are 100% mine.
   I love the old advertisement campaign for the milk industry with the simple slogan "Got Milk?" I grew up on a dairy farm so those ads caught my eye when they first came out. Two simple words and everyone knew exactly what you were saying.
Got stress? These two words speak volumes. While stress can mean different things to different people, we all experience stress, especially teachers. If you belong to a teacher forum, a Facebook group of teachers, or listen to conversations in the teachers' lounge you may have noticed that this year the stress level seems to be higher than normal. Districts have adopted a new curriculum because of Common Core, which means training and extra time planning. New types of tests are being implemented, leading to more meetings about the tests, the data collected, training, testing your students; and at some point you are supposed to squeeze in high quality lessons so your students will be ready for the high-stakes test in the spring.
   Teachers today have a tough job, and finding a balance between work and home is a challenge. I have a few tips that you might like to try.

   How many times have you heard people lament about the good ol' days? If you are a teacher, you have probably heard veteran teachers say that it used to be easier to teach children because they listened and followed directions better. Did you ever watch Oprah when Dr. Phil was on her show? I loved the episodes when he would listen to someone's troubles and then say, "How's that working for ya'?" This is what I would ask myself after I had properly vented. Keep in mind I needed to properly vent first, which means my husband got to hear play-by-play details of my day. Which is why when he came home he usually asked, "How was your day? I just need the headlines, not the fine print." But, the fine print is where the venting occurs. So, after a proper venting, I would ask myself the Dr. Phil question. Obviously, it was not working very well if I had so much "fine print" to vent about.
   One day I had an epiphany. I would do the exact opposite. That particular class was an exceptionally challenging class. The students individually were good kids, but, the chemistry of the class was the problem. I had too many leaders and not enough followers. The students in my class that year were the oldest children in their families, and they were used to being the boss. Unfortunately, too many of my students were used to being the boss.
   Instead of trying one more behavior management system, I would implement a focus-on-the-positive system. Did you hear about the golden rule when you were a kid? That was my basis for this. I told my students that manners matter and good manners are worth their weight in gold. I spray painted popsicle sticks with gold paint. You could color them with a yellow marker, as well, but paint is quicker so I did it that way. Students had a library pocket with their number on it. We talked about what exceptionally good manners looked like. I would give students a gold popsicle stick when I saw exceptionally good behavior. Examples included:
  • Helping a classmate when he/she dropped his/her supply box.
  • Letting a classmate take a turn at the water fountain when both arrived at the water fountain at the same time.
  • Helping a classmate open her/his milk at lunch.
  • Noticing that a classmate doesn't have anyone to play with at recess, and asking him/her to play with you.
  • But, these weren't just behaviors that were normal expectations. These were "going for the gold" (great tie in with Olympics) or whatever else you want to call it. At the time, I was teaching in Texas so my students said that remembering to call me ma'am was showing golden manners.
I told them that I would be watching for golden manners. Students couldn't point out their own exceptionally good manners but they could tell me about a classmate. Teacher Tip #1: This made a big difference! Suddenly they were looking for the positive in their classmates. They wanted to help each other so a classmate might give a positive report about them. You can organize the system however you want. For every 5 popsicle sticks that my students earned I put a stamp in their take home folder. It was a happy report for their parents. This system took very little time to make, was easy to implement, and motivated my students. Teacher Tip #2: Suddenly, my students were saying please and thank you for everything, including when I handed out their assignments. This looks very good when your principal is observing you. You might want to consider implementing this system if this is your year to be observed.
Here's an example of how you can do it. I like to use gold tinsel. It is inexpensive and adds a nice 3-D touch.
   This next tip was shared at an inservice given by a former principal and counselor. At the time of the inservice, the staff at my school was stressed and feeling unappreciated as our school was going through changes. I have shared this tip with student teachers and many stressed out colleagues.
   Everyone needs a "You Make a Difference" file. My principal and counselor provided file folders, markers, stickers and other fun stuff that we used to decorate our file. They gave us time to go back to our classroom to find happy notes from parents and coworkers, evaluations, great test results, pictures, and other things that made us proud that we were teachers. We put those in our file.



I made some signs that you can use to decorate your own "You made a Difference" file. Plus, there are notes you can send coworkers to let them know they are making a difference. Click HERE for this FREEBIE.
   They told us that there would be days when a parent would be upset with us, bad days with a student or co-worker, or a day when we found out disappointing test results. We needed to open this file and read these happy notes so we would remember that we do make a difference in many people's lives!
   My non-teacher friends often ask me for gift ideas or ways to show appreciation for their children's teachers. If you are a parent, you have seen the huge impact a talented teacher has made on your child. Teachers can spark an interest, build a child's confidence, and create a love of learning. Here are a few suggestions:
  • One of my moms sold Tupperware. From time-to-time, she would send in muffins or other home baked goodies in a Tupperware container. Not only did I get a yummy treat, but also I got a great collection of Tupperware that year. . I loved that it was unexpected, it wasn't a holiday, it was a just-for-the-fun-of-it treat and a great way to brighten a teacher's day! If you don't sell Tupperware, you could send goodies in one of the Ziploc containers in the picture below because teachers love those too. In this picture, is one of the bowls that Andrew gave me over 10 years ago. It is used every week and every time I use it, I think of Andrew and his mom.
  • I love to get notes or emails telling me specific things that they like or appreciate. My favorite stories are the ones about my students being excited about learning and how they are applying it at home. Those stories make it all worthwhile!
  • You've heard the saying, "it's the thought that counts", that is so true when it comes to showing thanks and appreciation. I've had students bring me a bottle of perfume and jewelry that belonged to their mothers that was half full. They said that they wanted to give me something for Christmas and they noticed I liked to smell good and wear pretty stuff. Isn't that sweet and thoughtful? Of course, I called the mom later and explained what happened. I'm sure that's a story that will be told for years to come.
   When I served on the social committee, I spent quite a bit of time on the phone calling businesses asking if they would be willing to donate or give teachers some type of discount. Our committee used these donations for moral boosters. Businesses supporting schools is following the village raises the child philosophy which I fully support.
   This week, Chevrolet asked me if I would tell my followers about their new Educator Discount program. How great is that! For once I was sought out to share a teacher discount, instead of me having to reach out them. This is Chevrolet's way of thanking teachers and helping them save money at the same time. Since I have a daughter who will soon be driving, I was more than happy to pop into my local Chevrolet dealership and check out their vehicles.
I took a picture of my favorite one to show my husband and thought you might like to see it too. It is a snazzy black Equinox. Look at all of that cargo space! I took a picture of that to share as well! I don't know about you, but I haul around a lot of stuff and cargo space is very important to me. Plus, it gets good gas mileage which is an added bonus since gas prices are so high.
   We all know that it takes everyone in the school to run a school efficiently. Chevrolet understands that too and their program is for all school employees, not just the teachers. Employees of public schools, private schools, colleges, and universities are eligible for Chevrolet’s Educator Discount so be sure to visit the site and find out more about this great deal.



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Multiple Intelligence: Music in the Classroom


Thanks to the internet, incorporating music throughout your day is easy. There are many free and inexpensive sources available with just a few clicks.  


Music can be used to set the atmosphere of your class. Play music when your students arrive in the morning. Songs you might want to try:


  • Play before your lesson begins to set the theme.  Ask your students to guess the topic of the lesson based on the music. 

Music can enrich your holiday lessons, too.

Veterans Day themed music includes:



Tribute to All Veterans and Service Members
3:46 minutes
Click HERE to view to this.

Thanksgiving music videos:




Nakai: Earth Spirit - Native American music
Less than 1 minute
Click HERE to view to this.






Native American Indians Spiritual Vocal Shamanic Music
4 hours
Click HERE to view to this.




Sacred Spirit - Chants and Dances
44 minutes
Click HERE to view to this.

Do you study Christmas Around the World?


On Spotify, you can listen to a free version of the instrumental music by West Edge String Quartet from the Christmas Around the World album.  Use the following songs when you study these countries:
  • Carol of the Bells: Ukraine
  • Wexford Carol: Ireland
  • The First Nowell: England
  • A La Nanita Nana: Spain
  • Riu, Riu, Chiu "El Lobo Rabioso": Spain
  • Coventry Carol: England
  • In the bleak midwinter: France
  • Silent Night: Austria
Would you rather listen to an advertisement-free version of this album? Click HERE to purchase a copy.


Do your students study other countries in social studies? Do they write research reports or make a powerpoint presentation about their findings?  Why not include the national anthem of the country that they are studying?  Here are a few examples:


Are you starting a weather unit?  Play one of these songs:


The videos with music below are versatile.  Set these up as a computer center, show during inside recess, play the music during circle time or cleanup time.


How do you incorporate music?











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

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