Activities for early finishers with a December Holidays theme

What better way to keep early finishers busy in December than Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzza activities.  My December Holidays Early Finishers Jar has 27 activity cards for each holiday.  The activities are easy enough for students to do without teacher instruction.  You can take a closer look at my December Holidays Early Finishers Jar in my TpT store.

Drawing Conclusions and a FREEBIE!

I feel like I need to introduce myself because it's been so long since I had the chance to sit down and write a post!  With two daughters in high school, my life is crazy right now!  This past week at school, we worked on drawing conclusions.  This year I am making it a point to read at least one picture book a week (along with the chapter book I'm reading to the kids).  Reading great picture books is the one thing I miss about teaching first grade!  I'm not sure why I thought this had to stop once I moved up to a 3rd/4th high ability class.  I choose my book for the week depending on the comprehension skill we are practicing.  It just so happens that picture day and drawing conclusions fell on the same week.  I knew I had to read the book Picture Day Perfection by Deborah Diesen.

This book is hilarious and is perfect for students to infer their way to a conclusion at the end of the story (which is usually the wrong conclusion!).
I started the week with an anchor chart from my soon to be released Anchor Chart Toolkit for Comprehension Skills (this will be a companion to my Anchor Chart Toolkit for Comprehension Strategies).

We worked on making inferences last week, and how they help us draw logical conclusions.  As I read the book, students had to take notes on clues that would help them draw a conclusion at the end of the story.  Before I read (or students could read) the final few pages, they had to complete a drawing conclusions graphic organizer.

If you haven't read Picture Day Perfection, you need to go straight to the library or book store!  We were able to do so many activities using this book as a mentor text.
If you would like to grab a free copy of my Comprehension Companion for Drawing Conclusions, click on the picture below...

I would love to know what mentor text are your favorites and books that you use for drawing conclusions!

Back to School Book Favorites (and a FREEBIE!)

Finding a good back to school book for uppper elementary can be challenging.  Most of your students have already listened to Chrysanthemum a million times, and are wanting something with a little more content.  One of my favorite back to school chapter books in Wonder by R.J. Palacio.  I read this book last year, and my students loved it!

Wonder is about a 5th grader who is going to school for the first time.  August Pullman's mother has homeschooled him up to this point because he isn't like your typical 5th grader.  Auggis has severe facial deformities which often cause a reaction from both children and adults.  The book takes the reader through the highs and lows of Auggie's school year.
One of my favorite parts of the book is when Auggie's English teacher introduces the class to precepts.  A precept is a general rule that is intended to regulate behavior or thought.  Mr. Browne has a precept of the month.  Students talk about what the precept means to them.  At the end of the school year, Mr. Browne has each student come up with their own precept.  I had my students do this when we finished the book.  Here is my precept...

If  Wonder looks like a book you would like to try with your students, you can download my Wonder Precept Activity for free in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
You can check out some other great Back to School Book Favorites at the links below!

Enjoy and have a great school year!

Five for Friday

It's been a long time!  I'm so excited to be linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday!

She gets home tomorrow!  My oldest daughter has been in Costa Rica with our high school's travel club.  She was able to spend time volunteering at a local girls school near Puerto Viejo as well sightsee and enjoy the culture.  I can't wait to hear about her trip!

I can't decide if I'm more excited about going to Vegas for the TpT conference or shopping for outfits to wear at the conference!  Here are a few of my purchases (so far).
I have a thing for maxi dresses :-)

Rain, rain go away!  I'm all for a rainy day in the summer to enjoy down time in the house, but it has been raining in Indiana for a week.  Yesterday this happened!
Our dog was checking out the damage to my husband's police car.  Luckily, the car came away unscathed!  The tree not so much.

I'm starting my fifth Anchor Chart Toolkit today.  I love making these toolkits!  They take the hard work out of making anchor charts.

Finally, since the rain has no plans of stopping today, I'm taking my daughter and her friend to paint pottery.  I think I'll paint a set of  "a to z" bookends that I've been eyeing!

Have a great weekend!!

Teachers Love Summer!

Who loves summer most?  We do!  I'm linking up with Aimee (I love her name!) at Primarily Speaking for her Teachers Love Summer linky.

Friends!  I love spending time with my besties.  We have late night porch nights in the summer, and our families even spend every 4th of July at the lake together.  These ladies make me smile!

Summer reading!  I love to read for pleasure and for inspiration during the summer.  There's nothing better than sitting out on the front porch in a rocker with a good book.  Right now I'm reading these two books...

Painting!  I love to paint furniture.  This year I'm painting a bench for my classroom and a chair for a fundraiser.  Here's my project from last summer...

Creating!  I enjoying having the extra time each summer to create products for my TpT store.  There's never enough time during the school year!  This summer has been pretty productive, so far...

You can check them out here.

Vacation!  This year we will spend our annual 4th of July vacation relaxing at Norris Lake, TN.  I'm most excited about going to the Teachers Pay Teachers Conference for the first time!  I can't wait to meet the faces behind all the stores and blogs that I follow!

The Today Show!  I love spending my mornings with Matt, Willy, Savannah, Al, Natalie, Carson, and Tamron.  My morning ritual is to watch the Today show while enjoying a chai tea latte.  I go through Today Show withdrawal every August when school starts!

I hope you have an amazing summer!!

How do you teach simple, compound, and complex sentences?

One of the first steps to teaching students to write with a variety of sentences is to teach them to recognize the different sentence structures.  This is easier said than done.  While my students seem to understand the way to write and recognize the structures during instruction, they often lose it when it's not practiced over and over.  I use jar activities during my workstation time to review and practice concepts that have been taught earlier in the year.  I recently made a jar of simple, compound, and complex sentences for this purpose.

The Super Sentence Jar includes several different activities that students can do to practice recognizing the different sentence structures.  Students can play BINGO, sort sentences, do a sentence search, or buddy up with a partner and quiz each other.  I also included editable BINGO boards and sentence cards so more can be added.
If this is a skill that your students need to practice, you can check it out in my TpT store.  It's half price for the next 24 hours.  I would love to hear how you practice/review skills that have been taught throughout the school year!

Teacher Appreciation Sale and End of the Year Activities

How many school days do you have left?  I have 17 days until summer vacation!  Right now I have two things on my mind... surviving the end of the school year and planning for next school year!  Luckily the Teachers Pay Teachers Teacher Appreciation Sale will help me start gathering items for the 2015-2016 school year, and my end of the year products will give me a few activities to use over the next few weeks!  I even bundled three of my end of the year products for you at a huge discount.
Included in this bundle are my End of the Year Writing Prompts, That's A Wrap End of the Year Question Jar, and My School Year Banner.

You can get an extra 28% off the already discounted price by using the code THANKYOU on May 5th and 6th!

Happy shopping!

Genre Banners and a FREEBIE!

I have a new obsession, or should I say my students have a new obsession.  They love filling out banners, and I love making them!  I have eleven banner topics so far...

Most of my banners are for holidays and special occasions.  Genre Banners can be used year round.

It includes nine genre banners (realistic fiction, historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, mystery, non-fiction, poetry, folktales, and biography).  Each genre comes in two different styles.

My students completed the non-fiction banner yesterday.  You can see the two different styles above.

You can download my Non-fiction Banner by clicking on the picture below.

You can take a closer look at my entire Genre Banners product in my TpT store, as well as all my other banners!  You can purchase all eleven banners and all other future banners in my Banners for the Entire School Year at a huge discount!