October 19, 2016

Kare Kids Adventures Series

There is little that I enjoy more than reading. I especially enjoy reading fun, engaging books that I can share with my students. I recently received copies of a brand new adventure series entitled The Kare Kids Adventures by Charles A. Salter, published by Outskirts Press. Currently there are three titles in the series released this past summer, the first being...

Years ago, Kelcie's father disappeared at sea. Now that she's ten, Kelcie wants some answers. With the help of her father's lifelong best friend, Mr. Bartleby, Kelcie crosses the island in search of clues to what may have happened the night her father disappeared which seem strangely linked with the legend of The Bald Rock Monster. From learning how lobstering works to understanding Mr. Bartleby's past, Kelcie pieces together the mystery and thinks that she knows where she can find the ultimate answers... the forbidden area of the island, Bald Rock!
the second...
Nine-year-old Charlotte loves to explore the woods around her neighborhood in Ellicott City, Maryland. One day she has TWO surprises-she notices a patch of the forest slowly vanishing and discovers a lost puppy caught in a bramble bush. She rescues it and takes it home. Her parents recognize it as a valuable purebred pup and locate the rightful owner. Rather than accept the owner's reward, Charlotte asks her parents to buy Cocoa the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel as the present for her upcoming birthday. Will she sacrifice her plans for a big party at the Bouncin' Fun Zone because her parents can't afford both? Returning to the woods, she notes the sinking area getting wider and deeper and tells her parents and the authorities, who caution her to stay away. The county's geologist explains the danger of sinkholes, and Charlotte worries it will allow the other puppies to escape and get lost, too. She keeps an eye on the kennel and sees another puppy escape and become trapped in the now enormous sinkhole. Cocoa follows it and gets trapped, too! As a fierce rainstorm arises, and the fallen tree the pups cling to begins to disappear through the opening at the center of the sinkhole, Charlotte can find no one else to help. She leaves messages but realizes it is up to her to save the pups. But it is too steep and slippery for her to crawl down and get back out. 
Can she rescue the pups and get out herself before the giant sinkhole swallows everything?... Amazon.com
and the third...
How can three brothers stop the plot against their father’s aircraft carrier? When he’s not excelling in soccer, 12-year-old Matt likes to pretend he’s a Force Recon Marine, along with brothers Ryan, aged 10, and Jack, who is 8. Their father is a Captain in the U.S. Navy, currently deployed on an aircraft carrier off the coast of Maryland, where they all live. Growing up in a military setting, the boys are familiar with armed forces strategy, tactics, and weaponry. They long for the day they can don uniforms themselves…just like the Marines on the navy ships they’ve seen. In a Recon game one day the three brothers scout out an abandoned airfield. They notice a team of skydivers mimic the classic military special operations tactic of jumping out of a plane at high altitude and opening the chute at the last possible moment to avoid detection before landing on an enemy target. Quickly the boys discover these are NOT U.S. military, but rather hostile agents training to land with guns and explosives on a navy aircraft carrier. Their Force Recon Marine play suddenly becomes very real as they struggle to determine the exact target and time of the coming attack, to evade the terrorist gang, and get their intelligence information back to the navy in time to save their father’s ship. 
Captured by the gang, can they use their junior Force Recon Marine skills to escape, get back to headquarters, and devise a plan to defeat the terrible plot without anyone getting seriously hurt?... Amazon.com
Long enough to spin a terrific tale of mystery and adventure, yet short enough for even the most reluctant reader, each book in the Kare Kids Adventures series presents strong, resourceful protagonists working to solve a problem. Both male and female main characters in this series exhibit positive characteristics such as independence and self-reliance. The descriptive language draws the reader into the tale and brings the adventure alive. The plot is well-developed and fast paced. All of these qualities make the Kare Kids Adventures series a wonderful set of texts to utilize in a fifth/sixth grade ELA classroom for teaching multiple literary elements: character traits, plot elements, imagery, author's purpose, and genre. 

I look forward to reading the fourth book in the series... 

Twelve year old twins Josh and Hannah travel from the USA to visit their Uncle Olaf in Norway. Olaf runs the Museum of Norse Antiquities in Oslo, and the museum's greatest treasure-the Viking chieftain Leif Erikson's fabled Sunstone-is stolen. Hot on the trail of the suspected thief, the twins ride on a dizzyingly high train through the Scandes Mountains to Norway's largest fjord, a deep waterway which connects directly to the North Sea. While spying on the suspect's suspicious behavior, the twins are suddenly kidnapped on the train! They elude their captors by breaking free, sneaking across the top of the train as it chugs through a tunnel, and tricking the kidnappers. Then they learn the thief's true motivation: to use the Sunstone to interpret the coded Undredal Runes so as to re-create the Viking super-warriors known as Berserkers. 
Can the twins defeat the plot, return the stolen treasure, and save the world from the secret of Viking Berserkers which has been concealed for a thousand years? ... Barnes and Noble
I am linking up with Andrea over at This Literacy Life for her Book Talk Thursday linky. Be sure to check out the wonderful book titles suggested there. I'm sure you'll find some you won't be able to resist.

October 18, 2016

October Show & Tell Tuesday

Yippee! It's that time again!
We have been using our brand new Chromebooks a LOT! I would use them for nearly everything given the chance, but our entire upstairs floor (second through sixth grade) must share them. The other teachers didn't buy my reasoning for using the machines... I teach the oldest kids on the floor who only have this year to use the Chromebooks so I should be able to use them ALL THE TIME! LOL! Here you see my sixers practicing for an upcoming Science test using the website Quizizz

Speaking of Science... we had THE BEST time learning about plant cells and their organelles using a wonderful TpT product created by Smart Chick. I used to have my sixers create cells using jello and various candies, but I was never really satisfied with how the final product turned out. The jello always caused the candy coatings to melt and the colors to run. YUCKY looking! These plant cell cookies, however, are DELICIOUS looking, and according to my sixers, YUMMY tasting.

Here's another project that we completed using our Chromebooks, a Word Cloud book report. This project was one of the first that I posted on TpT, and it is in dire need of a makeover. At that time I used a popular word cloud generator called Wordle. This time we used the website Tagul much more user friendly with lots more fun options for kids. Once my sixers were finished with their word cloud, I downloaded each image and popped them into Movie Edit Touch, an app on my laptop, and VOILA...

We have been really digging into our grammar skills of late, practicing plural nouns, contractions, dependent and independent clauses... all kinds of ho hum skills. To really engage my sixers and get them motivated to learn, I've been having them play ZAP! The game canisters are taking over my teacher corner, and my task cards are not far behind!

I'm sharing a bonus item this month. I am so thrilled with these young ladies!  
Every year I teach my sixers how to play the choir chimes. They help accompany our music ministry during our school liturgies and prayer services. We just began learning how to play the chimes last week. I had only provided the introductory lesson and presented the first song they would be playing when it was already time for lunch. These young ladies begged to miss their recess (the day was a balmy 75 degrees, unheard of in NE Ohio at this time of the year) to stay in and try playing. In ten minutes this is what they accomplished.

Be sure to hop on over to Forever in 5th Grade for more October Show & Tell posts. It's a great way to keep up with what's happening in the blogging world of teachers.

October 5, 2016

October Winner Wednesday

The first Wedenesday of every month is set aside as Winner Wednesday. What's that you might ask! It's a fabulous linky where participating bloggers select one of their best teaching products and offer it as a one day only giveaway.

So, are you ready to  win a fun, engaging, and totally useful bundle of three ELA activities for older elementary students just in time for the months of October and November, activities that will help them practice forming plurals using seasonal themed words? Just enter the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post and if your name is pulled, you will receive this...

Halloween Plurals ZAP!
Thanksgiving Plurals ZAP!

ZAP is such a fun game to begin with that no matter what skill you practice your students are engaged and learning! My kiddos beg to play ZAP and we're talking practicing parts of speech, recognizing contractions, identifying clauses and types of sentences... not your typical begged for material! ZAP is so popular with my students that I have more than 80 games available in my store, all of which I've played with my students over the past few years. If you are not familiar with how to play ZAP, please visit this blog post to learn more. 

Let's take a closer look at the fall plurals ZAP! game.

Here you can see what the pieces are like. ZAP! is basically a print and go activity. Print the file pages, cut them apart, and PLAY! You can laminate the pieces for durability, but I find that it is not necessary. The strips hold-up well enough when just printed on heavier weight paper. The only real preparation involved is finding a container in which to place the skill strips. I use Pringle's cans (my students and fellow faculty  members save them for me so I have an endless supply... thank goodness), but even a brown lunch bag works for ZAP!

In this pic you see the dreaded ZAP! strips. Pull one of these, and well.... you're ZAPPED! Play for twenty minutes, play for ten. Play as a whole class, play in a small group. My kiddos LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this game! 

It's fast-paced, fun, and engaging, and the best part is that ZAP provides tremendous practice for those skills that you used to use drill-em and kill-em worksheets for.

Click on the links above to read more about each individual ZAP game and see a few more pics. If you would like to own these three engaging games just enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance to be my Wednesday Winner! But hurry, you only have until midnight tonight to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

October 3, 2016

October Pinterest Pick 3 Party

How can it already be October 3rd? Where does the time go? Once school begins for the year it's light speed ahead for this old teacher. I'm happy that it is October; it's my favorite month. The leaves turn beautiful colors, my birthday occurs, and my favorite show makes its seasonal return during October, not to mention that it's time for another Pinterest Party!

First up is a fun writing activity for Halloween, THE HOLIDAY of October! Best part... It's FREE!

Next is a set of STEM activities that are PERFECT for October!

Finally, here's a collection of fun, fall activities for upper elementary students.

September 23, 2016

Five for Friday... and it's Friday!

I truly enjoy joining this fun weekly linky, but once the school  year begins I usually don't find the time to actually post on a Friday. I sometimes don't make it until Saturday or even Sunday, and I often miss the linky all together! This week, ha! For whatever reason I had photos and the time to put my post together on Thursday night, in time for an actual Friday post! YAY!!!

ONE... One of our Friday rituals is Flashlight Friday. Last Friday was the first time that this year's crop of fifth graders took part. They LOVED it and have been begging to use the tiny lights during the week. Gotta love kids who get excited at simple things!

TWO... I am not a cook. I can cook, but I don't care to cook. My idea of cooking is five ingredients or less, no real recipe, and virtually no prep time. Crock pot cooking meets all those criteria. This past week  I made a family favorite and had my niece and her family over for dinner. This recipe is so simple: layer tater tots in the bottom of your crock; layer diced boneless chicken breast over the tots; salt and pepper, then layer shredded Colby Jack cheese over the chicken. Repeat until the crock is full. On top of the last layer of cheese, spread a pouch of REAL bacon bits, and pour milk over the mixture until you can just see the milk along the side. Cook in the crock for 8 hours on low. YUM!

THREE... Speaking of recipes, we had a recipe for a wonderfully successful science lesson... The Chemistry of Lemons. My sixth graders learned how to use litmus paper and test lemon juice for ph level. They then added baking soda at periodic levels and tested several times again until they turned the juice into a base.  Great fun, great learning!

FOUR...I LOVE music! I ALWAYS have a song or melody floating through my head. I walk to a beat, I rock to a rhythm, I dance in my chair... all unconsciously! However, I consciously add music to my lessons as often as I can. Learning tough academic content via a song helps information stick much quicker and more easily than an hour of plain studying. This week we learned two big chunks of material via songs: The books of the Bible in order (all of them) and the Taxonomy levels for Carl von Linne's Classification System. Here my sixers were taking a bit of a brain break while dancing and singing the books of the Bible song. Such fun... AND all twenty-eight kiddos know the books! Interested in the video? Here's the link: https://youtu.be/ixMvFdeo-F0

FIVE... I am the Gadget Queen, or at least that's what my friends call me. I have loads of fun technology toys and am often on the lookout for the next, new gadget that I can add to my arsenal. One of my favorite gadgets is a small, security-style web camera that I purchased on Amazon that I call my Kitty Cam. I can peek in on my two fuzz girls during the day, even talk to them via the camera. In this shot, I've just called to the girls. They are sitting, listening to me talk to them. They looked so cute that I couldn't resist taking a quick pic, another feature of the security camera.

Be sure to stop by Doodle Bugs Teaching to read loads of fun posts about teacher bloggers. It's a great way to get to know the folks behind the blog!

September 20, 2016

September Show and Tell

The third Tuesday of each month is set aside for bloggers to join one of my favorite linky parties...
We are off to a roaring start with our Science class in sixth grade. We've already learned about S.T.E.M. and the engineering process and have just started our study of taxonomy. Last week we practiced classifying cereal in the same way that biologists classify living organisms via a dichotomous key.

We have been taking advantage of our school's new Chromebooks using them at every opportunity. Partially because this week we are doing STARS testing on them, so I want my kiddos well prepared and comfortable with the technology before they test.

We've also been actively working with our Second Grade Buddies. Last week we made these wonderful individual pencils in celebration of the canonization of St. Teresa of Calcutta. Combining two items, one from Look to Him and Be Radiant and one from Glitter Meets Glue, we created the beautiful poster featuring St. Teresa's words, "I am but a small pencil in the hand of God."

Finally, I always must share a pic of my fuzz girls. Here you can see both Daisy Mae and Lulubelle helping me create this blog post. They are such cutie pies that I can't chase them away while I am working. They aren't spoiled a bit!

Be sure to stop by Forever in 5th Grade to read more September Show and Tell posts. It's a great way to keep up with education bloggers around the bloggy world!

September 18, 2016

Children Just Like Me

Time has certainly got away from me! I can't believe that we are starting our fourth week of school. In that time we've started a brand new spelling format in both fifth and sixth grade courtesy of Jen Bengel from Out of This World Literacy, and it is going so well that I just have to smile! We've set up our interactive notebooks in all subjects and grades. We've taken STARS Reading and Math tests that have allowed me to better meet the needs of my students. We've already done one STEM activity and have met with our college professor mentor for an awesome chemistry lesson about lemons. In other words.... We are off to a terrific year of fun and learning!

My little blog, however, has been a bit neglected by me of late. It's been almost two weeks since last I uploaded a post, but my blog itself hasn't been neglected. It's recently received a much needed facelift. I love the new design created by Blogs Fit for a Queen. The Teacher's Desk 6 now looks like a real teacher's desk, complete with all of the tools that I use and photographs of my two fuzz girls, Lulu and Daisy. Courtney and Shannon were terrific to work with! If you are looking to redesign your blog, I HIGHLY recommend Blogs Fit for a Queen!

Something else that got a bit neglected since school started is my reading time. I've spent most of my reading time working on school related reading. This weekend I decided to reclaim a little ME TIME in the reading area. I had received a gorgeous book about three weeks ago and just hadn't had time to do more than look at it and yearn! Today I did MORE...

Published by DK Books, Children Just Like Me: A New Celebration of Children around the World is a gorgeous publication of colorful photographs, maps, graphics, and engaging text that just begs to be read.

A favorite in classrooms, libraries, and homes, Children Just Like Me is a comprehensive view of international cultures, exploring diverse backgrounds from Argentina to New Zealand to China to Israel. With this brand new edition, children will learn about their peers around the world through engaging photographs and understandable text laid out in DK's distinctive style. 
Highlighting 36 different countries, Children Just Like Me profiles 44 children and their daily lives. From rural farms to busy cities to riverboats, this celebration of children around the world shows the many ways children are different and the many ways they are the same, no matter where they live. 
Meet Bolat, an eight-year-old from Kazakhstan who likes to cycle, play with his pet dogs, and play the dromba; Joaquin from New Jersey who enjoys reading and spending time with his family, and whose favorite food is bacon; or Yaroslav from Moscow who likes to make robots. Daily routines, stories of friends and family, and dreams for the future are spoken directly from the children themselves, making the content appropriate and interesting to draw in young readers. 
To celebrate the twentieth anniversary of this special project, all-new photography, maps, and facts give unique insight to children's lives in our world today showing their homes, food, outfits, schools, families, and hobbies. 
A passport to a celebratory journey around the world, Children Just Like Me is perfect for children who are curious about the children of the world and their stories...Amazon.com.
The possibilities for using this book in a classroom are endless. Reading one biography a day aloud to students in elementary grades can lead to discussions about how children around the world are so alike yet so different.

Mini-research activities to learn more about the information presented in the text are bound to be a natural occurrence.

If classrooms are fortunate to have the original text published twenty years ago, a compare/contrast lesson could be in order.

DK Publishers has created a beautiful, useful, and engaging publication that teachers will want to use. They have also provided a free activity kit on their website to aid teachers. There are several sheets to use with students...

...as well as a downloadable .pdf file.

Children Just Like Me is available for purchase at a very reasonable price via a link at DK Books, the publisher, or directly on Amazon.com where it is already the #1 New Release in Children's Customs and Traditions Books.

I'm linking up with This Literacy Life for Book Talk Thursday (even though it's Sunday... I had good intentions). Be sure to stop by her blog for loads of posts about terrific books to use in your classroom!

September 7, 2016

September Winner Wednesday, All About Johnny

The first Wedenesday of every month is set aside as Winner Wednesday. What's that you might ask! It's a fabulous linky where participating bloggers select one of their best teaching products and offer it as a one day only giveaway.

So, are you ready to  win a fun, engaging, and totally useful bundle of three ELA activities for older elementary students just in time for Johnny Appleseed Day on September 26th? Just enter the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post and if your name is pulled, you will receive this...

Johnny Appleseed ELA Bundle of Three Activities

Here's what you will find inside this bundle. You do have to supply a container, and there is some assembly, mostly cutting and taping.

Let's look at each activity a little closer.

First the Mystery Picture...

The mystery picture consists of a grid of 121 squares in which is written a word(s). Your students follow the coloring key at the bottom of the paper to color in each square. This particular mystery pictures provides students practice with six of the eight parts of speech: nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions, and prepositions. As they color the picture is revealed. This happens to be a picture of Johnny Appleseed with his tin pot hat, standing next to an apple tree.

The ZAP Game...

ZAP is such a fun game to begin with that no matter what skill you practice your students are engaged and learning! If you are not familiar with how to play ZAP, please visit this blog post to learn more. This ZAP game asks your students to distinguish between fact and opinion statements. Don't want to play a game? Use the game cards as task cards in a literacy center. QR Code answers are included on each strip, making them self-checking in a center.

The last item is a set of Task Cards...

Task cards are my go-to activity. I could probably use them every day for every skill if I could. They are so versatile... from a literacy center to a game of Scoot, from a game to an assessment tool... task cards will go the mile for you! This set is designed to give your students practice writing sentences correctly. Intentional  mistakes in grammar, usage, spelling, and punctuation have been placed in each card's sentence. Students are asked to revise and edit the sentences until they are free of mistakes. Once again these cards may be used in a literacy center and since they also contain QR Code answers they are self-checking. A traditional answer key is also provided. Don't forget task cards can be used in many ways... try a Scatter or Scavenger Hunt! Students LOVE to get out of their seats to do work.

Sound like a bundle that you would enjoy adding to your classroom? Just enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to receive it FREE! Don't delay! The giveaway lasts only for today, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be sure to stop by A Dab of Glue Will Do You or Sara J Creations for more Winner Wednesday blog posts. From there you will be able to enter additional Winner Wednesday giveaways. Good luck!

September 5, 2016

New Saint September 4, 2016

The Catholic Church received a brand new saint on Sept. 4, 2016... St. Teresa of Calcutta! Thank you, Lord, for this beautiful blessing.

Mother Teresa is known far and wide, not just by Catholics, but by so many who are interested in helping the less fortunate of our world. Although she passed from this worldly life nearly thirty years ago, her popularity is as strong today, if not stronger, than when she was alive. A tiny woman, standing just a bit more than five feet tall, her message of love and care for the poor is more powerful than leaders of large nations.

My students and I spent some time last week reading a biographical picture book about this wonderful lady and how she impacted our world. As a memento of our study and Mother Teresa's canonization, I presented my sixth graders with special brags tags (my students collect these as rewards for goals met and for special occasions). You are welcome to share these tags with your students as well.

Just click HERE to download your own file.

Those of you who have visited my desk in the past might remember how I enjoy creating teaching materials that combine my Catholicity with my ELA teaching. I try to incorporate Catholic teaching with typical academic teaching so you will see ZAP games about Lent or Advent, or a mystery picture about First Communion, or even task cards about different saints. My latest creation is in honor of St. Teresa of Calcutta's canonization and is my students' favorite... a ZAP game! I am surprising them with this game on Tuesday morning, after our long holiday weekend.

This is such a fun way for Catholic School students to practice identifying the four types of sentences because all of the sentences are about St. Teresa of Calcutta! Here's what the game strips look like; you can see what the sentences are like. Notice there is no end punctuation to give away the type of sentence. Students must read and think rather than rely on visual cues. There are a total of thirty three sentences that relate a brief biography of St. Teresa of Calcutta's life.

If you are interested in learning more about this fun, engaging game or would like to obtain a copy for yourself, please click HERE.