Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Folk Tales From Other Lands


I hope you are having a great week.  I wanted to share some of my favorite books for teaching units on Folk Tales.  We do a huge unit on folk tales in second grade at my school and these are some of my favorites that go way back!  I've included  YouTube links when I could find them so you have some media to share with your students.

The Five Chinese Brothers by Claire Huchet Bishop and Kurt Wiese 

This story has to be at least 35 years old!  I can vividly remember our mean librarian (well...she wouldn't let me talk and went around ssshhhhing me!) sitting on her desk (which we were not allowed to do) and reading this book to us.  She had me hook, line, and sinker. This is definitely one of my favorites!

The Thirteen Clocks by James Thurber and Marc Simont

This is what it looks like on the inside.

Martina the Beautiful Cockroach:  A Cuban Folktale by Carmen Agra Deedy and Michael Austin Kipling

This is one of my favorites, too!  I had never seen it until it came with a set of folktales that I had bought and my son pulled it out to read.  It is sort of the Skippy Jon Jones of the folk tale world!

I also love The Village of Round and Square Houses.  This book reminds me of Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain....this would be a great book to compare the culture and all too! You can also watch this book being read aloud on YouTube!

The Lost Horse:  A Chinese Folktale by Ed Young and Tracey Adams--you can click here for a read aloud on YouTube for this book also! The reader gives a lot of great background knowledge about China and the author.

If you have any favorite folk tales that you use, leave me the titles below so I can take a look at them!

Have a good one friends!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Make Your Summer Memories Last (Giveaway!!!)

I wanted to share some pictures that I took with my Nikon that I just got!  

I'm sure we will have lots more memories that I can take pictures since it is still early!!

So now is the time to make your memories last!  And you can by entering in this giveaway!!  Just take a look!

You have a chance to win...

 the awesome Canon DSLR T5


a Jo Totes bag!

Just enter here!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
This giveaway is over!  So sorry!

I also want to say congratulations to

Kelly B., you have won the giveaway with Miss Squirrels and she will be contacting you to get your address so that she can send you that awesome apple cozy!!!

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Happy Summer!

Last summer was a rough one for my daughter...her RAD diagnosis was specified as a huge impairment and we made the decision to move her to a specialized therapy school in another state.  But, in some creative downtime, she and I worked together to make this t-shirt.  She picked the colors...which is virtually every color you can think of.  The good thing is that it will match anything she puts on! She is so proud of it!  You can have one, too, and help her continue her therapy.

We made the change this last year to guided reading as specified by Jan Richardson recommends.  This book is FILLED with things to do and almost every question you could come up with is anticipated. There are even videos which will help you improve your guided reading sessions!  So, today, I worked with my little guy on Elkonin boxes.  Finally, those vowel teams are making sense!

I found this cute little freebie that helped my kids a lot in understanding how the boxes work and thought I would share it with you.

What are you doing with your kids to keep them current this summer?

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Friday, June 12, 2015

Jenn's Birthday Post

Hi Diddly-Ho, Neighbors! Not your usual greeting when you arrive? It's because this blog has been hijacked!!!! By a squirrel!!!

Going Nutty!  In Mrs. Squirrel's first grade
Miss Squirrels Etsy Shop  

Yep, Squirrels here. I took some time off of crocheting some Cozies so that I could help my bud out.

It is June 13th somewhere...maybe here or there...according to where you are on the International Date Line, but definitely somewhere and it is Jenn's Birthday!!!  Everybody leave her a Happy Birthday comment below!

Insert shameless plug here for my cozies...have you seen my cozies? <cue the lights and music>  You can grab one at my Etsy store!  They go great with either hot or cold beverages!

TA-DAA!!! can enter to win one right here.  I'm giving away a celebratory apple cozy!!

 So, anyway, I told our pal Jenn to take a break and relax, to put her feet up, to eat loads of chocolate, to take a nap, to enjoy an adult frothy beverage and VEG OUT! And all of this can be done "guilt free" because IT'S HER BIRTHDAY!!! YEAH! All of those things (and many more) can happen WITH NO GUILT- I mean, none- at all. Naps don't count against you. There aren't any calories or fat in ANY of the food you eat. Chores get done while you are kicked back in the recliner. I swear.

****Disclaimer- The owner of this blog and author of this post claim no liability for any stunts pulled while indulging or any tummy aches acquired from too much eating.

**** Jenn told me, she said, "Squirrels- please, please, please make sure you tell EVERYONE how old I am!" I was all like, "What? Really?" She insisted!!! So, we can all wish Jenn a very happy ---- birthday! (Man, I WISH I was sitting next to her while she read that part..... ha ha! I'm a stinker)

 So anyway, thinking about Jenn's  "summer" birthday, made me think of all the sweeties in school this year who have June and July birthdays. Each time a mommy would come in with a dozen or two cupcakes to school, they would come up to me and remind me that "My birthday is when we are outta school, so I can't bring cupcakes". Insert sad face here. -----------> I mean, we all know the truth, right people? Teachers go into this gig for some pretty big reasons:

#1 Only working 8-3
# 2 No Weekends Ever
#3 Summers and Holidays off
#4 A potential for having cupcakes on at least 20 out of your 180 day schedule

 (I totally cracked up writing 1-3... I hate it when people say those things!!!) But I am NOT joking about #4!!! When I got my roster on those first few days of school, the first thing I do is look at their birthdays. All of the June and July babies are immediately singled out....those are the children who will not be bringing us Chocolate Cupcakes with Whipped Icing from Publix. I won't lie. This a like a "demerit", sort of like "strike one"!! They have a lot of making up to do and they haven't even met me yet!!! Just kidding (maybe). I tell the sweeties that mommy can always bring them in before school is out and we can celebrate with them AND they will have their summer celebration, too! It's a win- win (for me). 

Before I took over Jenn's blog for the day, I thought it would be super cool to post about how we all celebrate with our sweeties on their special day- maybe even link up. But after some looking around, I saw that one of our blogging buds have already done this and there are some FANTASTIC ideas on here!!!

Follow the links to check out the posts!

 Stephanie from Falling into First

All joking aside, I realized that I was going to miss the birthdays of my summer babies too late in the game my first year of teaching. It was after I had dropped the ball that I started letting moms know about the option of bringing in treats early and I make sure that we acknowledge their special day coming up during those last couple of weeks. For now I am going to wish our Summer Sweetie, Jenn, a very Happy ----Birthday. Here's to hoping she had a very relaxing, indulgent day! And a thank you to her for letting me "take over" for the day!!

 Jenn and I would love for you to tell us what you do for those "Summer Sweeties" in your class each year!

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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Teach Kids How to Spell: Phonics You Need

Today I experienced the present meeting the past.  Or, maybe the past met the present. I was cleaning the basement, I decided to go through some boxes of old school materials and ran into some cards and a phonics sheet that I used 17...yes 17 years ago!  The cards and phonics sheet were part of a phonogram program that I was taught to use when I taught using the Montessori Method way back in 1995 when I was a brand new teacher and thought I was going to conquer the educational world because I knew it all and had pity for those 20 year veterans that didn't know the things that I knew because I had just graduated from college!  If I only knew then what I know now.....what a learning experience I have had.  Now, I guess I am one of those 20 year veterans that the new college graduates pity because they know more than me.  Wow.

The Spalding Method, as we called it back then, was created based on the premise that non-readers can not read or understand the variety of sounds that phonograms make.  The program has 87 phonograms that everyone must be able to read and sound out in order to learn to read.  Some phonograms like 'a' have 4 sounds <'a' as in apple, 'a' as in ape, 'a' as in was, and 'a' and in ahhh <the light bulb turns on with this one!> or 'th' which has 2 sounds as in 'th' in think and 'th' as in that.  Now, you know 2 of the sounds....just 69 more to go!!!  If you want to view the whole list, you can go <here>.

Below you will see the cover of the latest addition of the The Writing Road to Reading detailing the Spalding Method.

Spalding Spelling

If you are interested in purchasing the book, it is on Amazon.

Back in the old days, there was no Spalding website, so finding a website was so cool!  They have an instructional materials store that can be clicked on.  So, of course, me being me, I had to go and check it out.  Low and behold they are selling the completed phonogram cards!  I spent HOURS and HOURS making these cares in front of the television on school nights so that I would have enough sets in my classroom.  A picture of the phonogram cards are below.  Boy howdy, do I wish I had been able to purchase those years ago!  To be honest, I am going to put a set of these cards onto my wish list because there is not a day at school that I don't refer to this method of teaching sounds and I would love to have a set of the cards.  When I first started teaching we used the cards as flashcards and reviewed them at least twice a day.  The phonogram cards can be purchased at, or you can click on the cards below.  There are even teacher guides for each gradelevel now....boy do these new teachers have it made now!!!

Phonogram Cards

Note:  One interesting thing you can do with these cards is use them to help students 'chunk' words and choose the sounds that they need from those phonograms to 'create' the word.

Example:  To read the word 'weather' you would lay out the following cards:

W     EA    TH    ER

The different sounds of each phonogram are listed on the back of the phonogram card.  The card for EA would show 2 sounds of EA <1 or long e and 1 for short e>.  The chard for TH would show the soft TH sound and the hard TH sound.  When put together, the student can try all of the different sounds available and will eventually put together the word WEATHER.  Pretty interesting because eventually the students internalize the different sounds that the phonograms make!

I hope this helps you or gives you some new ideas as to how to teach reading!

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