Happy Easter! and a Shout Out Linky

Happy Easter everyone! For those of you who are not on the west coast, it is still technically Easter for another 30 minutes. I cannot believe I am still up! I ate way too much chocolate and now I can't sleep. I thought I'd post a few fun Easter pics that make me smile. 

First, my dad and stepmom got my boys this adorable jeep for my Shawn's birthday. It is amazing! It has gears and a radio. Seriously? It might be nicer than my car. Shawn was going so slow I actually was just strolling next to him. He' s a cautious one. Can you believe this weather? This is Portland, Oregon people. We don't see sun like this until July 4th. 

Owen (little man) is getting a little irritated that he's not behind the wheel. He has a need for speed. 

Shawn likes to not only find Easter eggs but also re-hide them over and over and over again. 

Owen isn't sure what's going on with all this egg business. If he can't really eat the plastic egg, he's  not interested. Maybe some yummy dirt instead...

So tomorrow I promise to actually post some education related stuff, probably about force and motion. This was just a quicky! But before I go, I have to give a quick shout -out to my two new AMAZING blog friends. 

Have you met the fabulous Lisa from Growing Firsties and Julie from First Grade Critter Cafe? They are just about the sweetest gals around. They have been so encouraging through comments and emails. I adore both their blogs and both of them! It's so funny how you can truly develop friendships through blogging. When I first started blogging (a while back) I didn't really reach out as much as I wanted to. I was a little timid. So for those of you new to blogging, reach out to other bloggers. You'll be happy you did! Erica Bohrer has written some great blog posts in the past about all sorts of things. One of the things that always sticks in my head is some advice she gave: be genuine and sincere. I don't remember the exact post, but I was so thankful for it. It made me realize that everyone needs encouragement and it probably wasn't just me who was feeling a little timid. Hope this helps some of the new bloggers or some of the older ones like me who haven't quite reached out yet (but want to). And for those of you who don't blog, I promise to have some school stuff tomorrow! :)

If you haven't already, please go visit these lovely ladies. You will love their blogs! 


So funny, after I typed this out, I saw this linky. How perfect is that?! So go link up!What a great idea! 

Five for Friday...on a Saturday

I'm so excited to join this linky FINALLY! I've wanted to for ages now, but I'm always so pressed for time and never got my act together. Then other times I was worried that my "five" would be not worth posting. Enough excuses, here I am! But I'm a day late of course... I'm trying though, right?  :)

I was on spring break this past week, so it'll be a mix of personal and school-related. 

Random #1: We sold our house officially! This is so exciting! We moved a few weeks ago and the process of selling went so smoothly. We got an offer in a day and everything worked out just fine. Before it went on the market, I was. so. worried. I have to admit that I will miss my sweet little house. I had two babies in that house (not literally, but you know what I mean). We're happy as can be in our new house though. :)  

Today it is BEAUTIFUL outside. We went to take photos for the last time in front of our old house. 

Random #2: The week before spring break, we started a force and motion unit.  It's been so fun and I'm actually learning a lot! (More about that in another post to come.)

Random #3:  My son decided he wanted to read. So we started him on Annie Moffatt's Ready to Read pack. He's loving it!

Random #4: The week before break we were finishing up with our March centers. They are doing so well with those! We'll be starting on April when we get back after break. Did March fly by for anyone else? Feels like we just started those centers and now we're wrapping them up and  moving on. I am LOVING how into the sticker story this student is. He's is going to town with his story about dinosaurs!

Random #5: We finished painting our sons' "reading" nook. Love how it turned out! Nothing too fancy but such a sweet place to hang. :)

You can't tell how pretty the blue is in either of these pictures.  Great cell phone camera, isn't it:) It's a tiny little nook just right for little boys. 

It's almost time for my kids to get up from "nap time". I use quotes because Shawn doesn't actually nap these days. He has "quiet time". Ha! We're going to go enjoy the sun, have an egg hunt, and decorate our eggs. Happy Easter everyone!

Easter Scavenger Hunt At Home!

Last year I posted this little activity to use as a parent on Easter morning. I almost forgot to post about this! 

Here's the story of how it came about (from last year): 
As I was leaving school, one of one students said, "I bet the Easter bunny will come to our classroom on Easter and leave us clues to read and infer where to find an Easter basket." I swear, I almost laughed out loud! I am that predictable? Ha! :) They just love doing these activities! So... last night I was getting all too excited about Easter and I made a little activity for my students' parents to do at home on Easter morning with their kids.  
clipart by Kpm doodes; frames by That Girl.

Parents at my school are all very involved and always asking for things to do at home. This is a way for their kids to practice reading in a fun,  "real life" way. You could give this to your parents too, or if you have kids of your own, you could you use yourself! :) I'm thinking about using it with my son this year even though he can't read the clues himself yet. :)   

Here's what it is: there are 3 clue cards that send their child on a hunt for a special gift from the Easter bunny. They have to read the clues and figure out where the next clue will be. More detailed directions for you are written up in the actual document. 

 Put this clue next to Easter basket:

 THis sentence scrambler will be in the egg next to this green clue.

This is the 3rd clue card with another plastic egg next to it.
These letters will be inside the egg for students to unscramble.

This is the final card that will be found with the special Easter gift: a book!
You can download this freebie by clicking below:


What do you all do on Easter? I'd love to hear from you!

Easter Freebie and a Sale

Happy Friday everyone! I'm getting so excited for Easter. It's got to be one of my favorites. The Easter bunny got all the supplies last night. :) I posted this freebie way back when (could that be two years ago already?) I've added a few carrots. There are two student sheets (one using fewer carrots). I hope you can use this! 

Click one of these links to get your freebie:   TN   TPT

Also, I'm having a sale today, tomorrow AND Sunday. Everything is 20% off!  Head on over to get some goodies! :) 


If you take the freebie, I'd love to hear from you. :)

Thank you all for your comments yesterday. It always makes my day to read such wonderful comments!!! Suzie Q, you were my lucky winner. I'll email you today with the April literacy centers.  I'll be choosing a winner on Facebook too. :) 

April Literacy Centers

My 2nd April literacy centers are finally done and posted! I also posted the combo pack for both first and second grade. Just like last month, I put the Common Core standards on the menu. 

Here's a preview of the 2nd grade literacy centers: 

For Read and Comprehend, there are two choices: a nonfiction book  (with questions, a graphic organizer and an anticipation guide) and a fiction reading passage (with questions and graphic organizers). 

Dictionary Detectives: two page "dictionary" for students to practice dictionary skills. 

2 Read, Visualize, Draw

2 Read, Think, Match

Bossy R (bigger words than the 1st grade version)
ABC ORder (more words than the first grade version)
Egg-cellent Words: Contraction match or making words
Vowel Teams (ai, oa, ea, ay)

Sticker Story
Opinion writing
Roll and Write (a few prompts are different than first grade)
Post Office

Sentence scrambler (each sentence can be made in two ways)
Super Sentence (with adverbs)

Fix my Sentence: identify what's incorrect (capital, punctuation, or quotation marks)
Glue words (and, because, but, or)

1st Grade Literacy Centers:

Rebuild a Poem: 2 original poems with student sheet and sentence strips
2 Read, Visualize (with varying levels)
2 Read, think (easier than 2nd grade)
Read and Sequence

Sticker story
Picture prompt (2 choices)
Roll and Write
Post Office

Bossy R
Egg-cellent words (making words by matching egg parts)
Vowel Teams

Sentence Scrambler
Super sentence (no adverbs  in this one, but there is the "where" and "when" and adjectives)

Sentence Enders: Question or statement
Glue Words (and, but, because, or)

You can get these separately or together (COMBO pack) at my TPT store or Teacher's Notebook shop. I actually use some of the 2nd grade stuff for my more advanced students. I also use the 2nd grade stuff in my guided reading groups (like the Read and Comprehend or the Dictionary Detectives). I think I'll use Fix My Sentence in a small group setting too. 

Click on your shop of choice below:


1st Grade 

2nd Grade 


Writer's Notebooks

I love teaching writing and I love reading my students' writing. At the same time, writing can be the hardest to manage and keep up with. If I had more hours in the day and could multiply myself then I would adore writer's workshop so much more. I have such great intentions but I have to confess that it doesn't always come together as planned. I do try my best for my little writers though! 

The first topic is Writer's Notebooks. I just started using this format  last year. It was a way for me to organize their notebooks. Do you have those students who just love to flip to any place in their notebook and just start writing? What a headache. I've already posted about these tabs I use, but it's been a while... I love having these writer's notebooks! To those of you who have already read a post about  this, just skip right over this and check out Lisa's linky instead! :)

Each month, students get a monthly tab to glue in their notebooks. I love how this student has colored each tab.

Behind the tabs are the writing for that particular month. We spend a lot of time talking about how to write in our notebooks. At the beginning of the year they might start with their picture and then add their sentence.  It takes a lot of reminders to not go crazy with the picture and take up the whole page with drawing. So I tell them to leave at least half of the page for words. For many of them, that requires them to actually draw a line through the middle of the page to make sure they stay in the boundaries. 

As the year progresses, they might start to write first and then draw. 


I have special assessments to use with writing notebooks that are different from my usual writing rubrics. I use my writing rubrics for specific writing assignments and then I use these snapshot assessments to send home with parents so they get an idea of how their student is doing during independent writing time. It shows their strengths and things they need to work on. I usually try to do it once a month (or every other month if there has been more writing assignments to grade). I look over all of their writing for the month and then fill one out. That way it's not just one sample of writing. It truly shows where their  at. It's interesting that sometimes when they are writing in their notebooks, they tend to forget conventions more than on their writing "assignments". The notebooks are a good look at where they are at independently.

I don't know why I didn't take a picture of the assessment here. Maybe I just loved the picture. :)

After looking at notebooks, it helps me to see where I need to focus with each particular student or if there is a trend (like still leaving out capital letters). 


When do students write in their notebooks? 
Students write in their notebooks during Daily Five (you can click here to see how I integrate Daily 5 and centers into my reading workshop). They also write in notebooks when they finish early with assignments  and during writing workshop. My biggest problem is that I have so many writing assignments that I want to do with them too. I really need to figure out how to balance. I noticed in February they hardly wrote in their notebooks at all because I had so many planned writing assignments for them. I know, I know, I know- that is SO not best practice. I should be doing the mini-lesson and then letting them choose their topics and write in their notebooks. I just find that I have so many ideas for writing assignments and I love to create lessons around those and see where it takes us. Any ideas for how to balance this better? I'm all ears! Ideally, I would like to have a couple times a week where I could do the writer's workshop model with minilessons, conferences, kids writing in notebooks, etc. and then a couple times a week where I have official writing assignments. Honestly though, I think sometimes the kids like the official writing assignments because they like the direction and the change of pace. What's your experience been with that? 

What do I use with Writing Notebooks?

Students all have little student dictionaries with the most common sight words. When they want to add a word that they frequently use, I add it to their dictionary. I love using dictionaries to help them spell sight words correctly. They don't use it a ton at the beginning of the year but at this point in the year I really start to push it because I want them to make that transition. 

I also use Lori's Topics to Write About picture cards. When students don't know what to write about (gotta love writer's block), then I send them to the posters with all of those ideas. I pretty much just love anything and everything from Lori! She has some amazing writing products in her TPT store. 

I love to have one  on one time with my students during writing. It's so valuable and enjoyable to talk about their writing with them. They love to read their journals to me and I love that enthusiasm! I just wish I could have MORE time to do that. I struggle with helping my students to be independent enough so I can sit and have uninterrupted conference time. At this point in the year it is WAY easier. Earlier in the year, I do more "floating" type conferences. That way I'm walking around and still available to all of my writers. At this point in the year, I can have more official conferences. :) I actually fill out a snapshot with them. They tell me what they think their strengths are and what they think they need to work on. For some, that's easy and they recognize these things. For others, it's more me pointing out examples of great things they've done in their writing notebooks and then me going through and helping them make "goals" (things they need to work on). I find that after sitting down with them, a lot of them really do try to focus on those goals. 

Wow, that was a short novel I just wrote! I hope you're still with me. Ha! :)