Sunday, June 30, 2013

How I Spent My Summer Vacation: A Mentor Back to School Text and a FREE Writing Activity

Hi All.  This week's Mentor Text Linkup is a special edition.  It is featuring favorite back to school books.  I really had a hard time deciding which one to highlight.  I have a humongous collection of back to school books.  The first book I read to my new firsties is always First Day Jitters by Julie Dannegerg.  I also love the Kevin Henkes mouse books during the first week or two of school (and really any other time).
But this link up is for a Mentor Text not Mentor Texts.  I had to pick one.  So I chose How I Spent My Summer Vacation by Mark Teague.
This book has fab illustrations.  How I Spent My Summer Vacation tells the story of Wallace Bleff and his overly active imagination.  He spins a fun tale of being kidnapped by cowboys and his subsequent training as a cowhand.  He eventually shows up at a family barbecue with his cowboy crew in tow causing all sorts of excitement.
This book is really fun and the kids always respond well to it.  It is a great book to discuss inference as well.  
I like to use this book in conjunction with one of our first writing activities of the year, also titled "How I Spent My Summer Vacation."  I usually have my students complete and share their writing before I read the book aloud.  But of course, you can use this activity anyway you would like. 

If you would like a free copy of this writing activity, click on the picture below.

For more back to school text recommendations and activities visit Collaboration Cuties.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Currently: June 29, 2013

Hi friends.  I love reading other bloggers' Currently posts at the beginning of each month.  This entry is my first Currently post and wowie wow wow it is for July.  The summer is flying by.
Thanks to Oh' Boy 4th Grade for hosting this monthly linkup.

Well I'm off with the fam for fireworks.  Thanks for reading.

Give This Dog Something to Smile About

Remember to hop on over to bloglovin' and follow School Is a Happy Place.  The give away concludes July 1st at 12:00 a.m. EST.

Current and new bloglovin' followers can enter to win any two units from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  Good Luck. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, June 28, 2013

Five for Freebie Friday: June 28, 2013

It's Friday and time for Doodle Bugs Teaching's Five for Friday.  

Number 1
We've been having Summer Book Camp at my house.  I started out calling it Boot Camp, but  A  misunderstood me and began calling it Book Camp.   A  will be starting kindergarten in a few weeks and her preschool follows the school calendar.  So she is on summer break too.  I certainly do not want her to backslide on gains she has made.  I'm keeping the structured time very short and sweet.  There is always lots of time for learning during playtime too.
early morning puppet show

Number 2
A's  6th birthday is on the horizon.  Her birthday usually falls during the first week or so that I have kids in August.  Awesome time to throw a party.  She wants a monster themed party.  I'm starting to look for some cute monster ideas.  Pinterest here I come. 

Number 3
I finally pulled the trigger on Tory Burch sandals.  I have been eyeing these for a while.  I hope they are half as comfortable as they are cute.  The reviews recommended ordering a full size up.  I did.  Hopefully I will not have to send them back and prolong my wait.

Number 4
Today is Freebie Friday at Teaching Blog Addict and Teacher Dollar Days at A Teacher Without a Class.  I have something to share.
I completed my Bright Beginnings Back to School themed math centers packet this week.  I plan on using it during the first month of school in my first grade class.  I also think it will work great in a kindergarten class, but maybe more spread out through the year.
Below you will find some pics of the free center I am offering from this packet, Ten Frame Turtles.  If you are interested, you can click on either picture for your own copy.

Number 5
Just a reminder, Google Reader is in its final days.  I, along with many other bloggers, are offering give aways as a reminder to get signed up and follow your favorite blogs through bloglovin'.  I would love for you to follow School Is a Happy Place.  After you sign up and follow, come back and register for my give away.  If you are already following, please be sure to sign up for the give away as well.

Two winners will receive a choice of two units from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  The contest ends on July 1st at 12:00 a.m. EST.  Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Three Little Words I Dare Not Speak and Throwback Thursday

B a c k   t o    S c h o o l .  
I know, I know too early.  But I also know there is a lot of printing, laminating, cutting, and organizing that goes on during the summer.  One packet you may want to check out is my (hot of the press) Bright Beginnings (10 Math Centers).
This packet includes work with number words, ten frames, number bonds, tally marks, number order, part part whole, and more.  I plan on using it during the first month of school in my first grade class.  It would also be perfect for kindergarten throughout the year.
If you are interested, check back tomorrow I'm planning on posting one of the centers as a freebie.

Speaking of centers, (I call them math boxes in my class) I wanted to share again how I organize mine.  First Grade Parade is hosting Throwback Thursday to highlight a past post.  What better excuse do I need?

Originally published on April 29, 2013
I love peeking into other teachers' classrooms and seeing how they organize their classes and materials.  I wanted to give you a little look at my math box organization and storage.
We call them math boxes in my class.  But you may call them math stations or math centers or math tubs.  Whatever you refer to them as in your class, I'm sure you know they are a great addition to your math time.
I try to use them everyday.  I partner students together during their math box time.  I usually partner a stronger student with a weaker student.  If I have an odd number of students, one will just work independently.  I leave the partners together for as long as that set of math boxes are out (usually about a month).  When I change my boxes, I also change the partner arrangement in the class.  
This arrangement has worked well, but I continually remind the students to take turns so that one student is not doing all the work.
So there you have a brief explanation of how I organize my students.  Below you can see how I setup and organize my boxes.
My students really like to do math box and I love the constant review I can work in by having them as part of my math time.  If you do not use them, summer is coming up.  You will have some time to think about how you can work them into your class' routine.
Thanks for reading and have a great evening.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I'm (Blog)Lovin' My First Ever Give Away

Hi friends.  As many of you are aware google reader is going the way of the dinosaur.  It will no longer be around to help you keep track of your favorite blogs.  There of course are a couple of options to fill the void, one of which is bloglovin'.
If you haven't signed up for bloglovin', you still have a few days to do so and still retain your google reader info.  After you signup, I would love to have you follow School Is a Happy Place.

Once you follow School Is a Happy Place through bloglovin' (or if you already do) pop back here and signup for my give away.
Two winners will receive any two units from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
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get the InLinkz code

Monday, June 24, 2013

The OK Book: A Mentor Social Studies Text and a Class Book FREEBIE

Hi.  I'm linking up with Collaboration Cuties to share a favorite social studies mentor text.  I'm about half way through my summer break and of course I'm thinking about the next school year.  What to keep?  What to change?  What to try?
Well one book that is a definite keeper is Amy Krouse Rosenthal's The OK Book.

This book fits into my social studies curriculum as we work on building community and getting to know each other at the beginning of the year.  It is a text that you really have to see to appreciate.
The main character is OK and is illustrated by turning the O and the K on their sides to make a simple stick figure.

The central message is that you do not have to be great something to do it.  Being OK is just fine and may one day lead to you to what your are excellent at (or not).  This message is so important for students because everything in school will not come easily to many students.  They need to give themselves and others a break and accept each other.
Beyond the read aloud, this text is a great inspiration for a class book.  To begin my students and I usually discuss what things we are OK at and I show them how to make the OK person.  I model making my OK page for the class book and then the students make their own.
If you would like a FREE copy of this class book activity, click on one of the pictures above.
It usually turns out pretty funny.

On a personal note, this book is very meaningful to me.  I love this idea of not having to be really great at something to do it.  I talk this notion up with my young daughter.  I want her to participate and try lots of fun activities even if she is just OK. 

So here's the scoop:
This is a great book for a wide range of students.  I highly recommend it.
Remember, there are more great social studies mentor text recommendations at Collaboration Cuties.  Be sure to check them out.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Daily Five: The Big Three (Mini Lessons to Launch Read to Self and a FREEBIE)

If you are working toward implementing The Daily Five in your classroom or if you are reviewing in preparation for next year, I would like to remind you about three important mini lessons to cover with your students during the first week (or so) of launching Read to Self.
It's important to begin Read to Self right way, because it sets the tone and the routine for all of the other components of The Daily Five.  The authors, Gail Boushey and Joan Moser, recommend the following three lessons to help get your students on the right path. 
Mini Lesson 1
Mini Lesson Two
Mini Lesson Three

Good Fit Book FREEBIE
The clip art is from KPM Doodles.

When planning for the first week of school, be sure to include The Big Three mini lessons:  Three Ways to Read a Book, Where to Sit in the Room, and How to Choose Good Fit Books.  With The Daily Five, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Thoughtful lessons and organization during the onset will pay off over the course of the year.
If you would like to read a related post with more information about launching The Daily Five click here.
Thanks for reading.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Who Sank The Boat?: A Mentor Science Text

Happy Father's Day!
It's the third Sunday of the month which means its science day on Collaboration Cutie's Mentor Text Link Up.  The book I would like to share is Pamela Allen's Who Sank the Boat?

This book has been around for a while.  It really lends itself to many reading skills.  I usually use it for predictions.  It is also perfect for sequencing and rhyming.  Who Sank the Boat? can also be a fun addition to your science library to start a conversation about what makes things sink or float, or even balance.
It is about a group of farm friends boarding a row boat one at a time.  There is suspense as each animal enters the boat.  Will this one be the one who finally sinks the boat?  At the end students find out it was the least likely character the caused the boat to go finally down.

I found simple to execute experiment to go with this story at Indirect Observations.  Students can make a boat out of foil and see what allows the boat to float or what causes it to sink.  To tie the experiment into the book, use plastic animals to represent the characters.  Click on the pic below if you would like more info.

If you have a minute, take a look at this YouTube video short for the Who Sank the Boat?  Pretty funny.

I recommend this book for your library.  I think you will find lots of uses for it.
Here is the low down:

Be sure to stop by Collaboration Cuties for more teacher tested science texts for your classroom.