October 22, 2016

I did it!

What did I do that has me so excited? I made an animated quote box banner for my TpT store, and if I might say, "It didn't turn out half bad for a first attempt!"

I have been interested in all the beautiful animated Quote Box banners that I have been seeing on TpT. More and more keep appearing. I knew a little bit about making animated images and was aware of a few websites that helped you make them for free but I wasn't quite sure of how much work was involved or what kinds of programs that I would need. So, I Googled how to make TpT animated banners. Most of the tutorials were for Photoshop or Adobe programs, neither of which I own. Finally, I found a tutorial by Sarah Griffin of Daughters and Kindergarten for making one in Power Point, my go-to program for creating my TpT products.

Easy, peasy to follow, Sarah's tutorial lead to a completed animated banner in less than an hour which is happily displayed here and in my TpT Store. If you've been considering an animated Quote Box banner, give Sarah's tutorial a try. It was a fun way to spend a dreary Saturday!

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.