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Free Distance Learning Resources to Make Your Teacher Life Easier

Hey friends! 
Are you looking for engaging digital resources to send to your students or to do with your own children? I was too, especially during these uncertain times. So, I collaborated with a fellow educator and friend, Megan Mitchell from First Grade Roars to create FREE digital author study resources for some of our favorite authors. We are hoping these free distance learning resources will help to make your teacher life easier. 
Each author study has a variety of guided reading comprehension activities and other unique extensions tailored to the book. Bonus, there is no need to own the book because each resource has a link to listen to  the story as well as a link to explore their website full of other engaging activities. 
We know that the stress level is high, and the expectations might be unclear, but we know one thing to be true, that we want to continue supporting our students. 
We hope that by providing these free digital author study units you will not only be able to continue supporting your students with engaging resources, but that we are also able to ease and avoid any unneeded stress. 
 Click on the image below to access all the digital author study resources we have created. 


If you are looking for additional digital resources to help you connect with and support students check out these other engaging resources available in Google format & Printable PDF. 
These are some of my favorite digital resources currently in my store. 

This packed learning bundle for May has morning meeting messages, math practice, writing prompts & templates, paired reading passages & motivational challenge journal.
Available in Google Slides, Forms, and printable PDF. 
These easy to use digital morning messages are a great way to start distance learning meetings, focus instruction and offer fun ways to interact with students.
Available in Google Slides and printable PDF. 
I love this resource! These digital penpal templates with and without prompts help writers of all abilities connect with friends and family that they are missing! Available in Google Slides and printable PDF.
  
These resources have nonfiction passages, writing templates, graphic organizers and other fun extensions to get your kiddos excited about  snakes!These resources have nonfiction passages, writing templates, graphic organizers and other fun extensions to get your kiddos excited about dinosaurs! There are 8 dinosaurs and a bonus file included in this engaging bundle.
Create a memorable keepsake for students and families with these end of the year  slideshow templates. These templates are bright, customizable and easy to use! Available in PowerPoint and Google Slides.
We hope these free distance learning resources help to make your teacher life easier. We got this! 


Take a Glimpse into My Favorite Arctic Activities and Bring Polar Animal Fun into Your Classroom with a Freebie

click to download your free resourceHey friends, 

Maybe it's all the snow or the dropping temperatures, but every year in January I love teaching my kids all about polar animals and their arctic habitats! I thought  I would give you a glimpse into my favorite Arctic activities and help you to bring polar animal fun into your classroom with exciting ideas and a freebie!

Each year I have a fun activity packed Polar animal unit that covers all areas of the curriculum. I love it because there is a lot of choice so I can differentiate from year to year depending on what my kids can handle and what they need. Having choice also keeps it exciting for me
In the Polar Animal Unit I have non-fiction passages about the different arctic habitats, a reader about a variety of animals and comprehension activities to go with each. We compare and contrast, label diagrams, graph our favorite animals, solve polar themed math problems and even complete a blubber barrier science project! My main goal with the unit is to help students gain confidence in their knowledge of polar animals so I can successfully guide them through writing an informative report on the polar animal of their choice. Guess what?! The kid's favorite part last year was creating our polar animal report folders. They worked so hard on them and begged to continue when it was time to put materials away... WIN!  
Report templates for polar animal unit Learning extensions for polar animal unit art, morning work, sciencenon fiction passages for Polar Animal Unit

The only problem, was I was having to run to the library each year, print numerous online articles and apply for grants to get polar animal nonfiction into their hands. So, this year I decided to take the polar animal theme one step further by adding a more in depth guided reading resource to round out our studies. I found one mentor text for each animal and wrote my own nonfiction text for 5 different polar animals. The Arctic fox, walrus, narwhal, reindeer or caribou and the polar bear all made the cut to be a part of my Guided Reading with a Purpose series. 
Since we were gearing up to write an informative report on the polar animals I needed to make sure my text  modeled all the expected nonfiction features and more.  With this in mind I knew nonfiction text features would also be a great choice for my guided reading theme. I don't know about your student's, but many of the nonfiction text features were always a hard grasp no matter how much we covered it. This is why I LOVE Guided Reading with a Purpose. 

Instead of covering the features a little here and a little there,  we go in depth each week to assure confidence and hopefully mastery in each area. The Polar Animal units focus on the nonfiction text features of diagrams and labels. I made sure that all the small readers had a diagram and multiple opportunities to see labels in use. Other text features I included were  bold faced words, table of contents, captions, index and glossary, for review or as an introduction point. 
I cannot tell you how excited I am to not make the haul to the library this year, knowing that my kids will have at least 2 solid nonfiction resources to support their polar animal reports! The best part is that after creating my Guided Reading with a Purpose Polar themed unit I can now truly spread the polar animal fun throughout the whole curriculum with more direction, depth and purpose
The Guided Reading with a Purpose units not only include the readers and comprehension activities to go along with them but also...
  • Mini-lesson ideas to introduce the focus 
  • Comprehension cards to accompany the book to review throughout the book or for discussion after you read
  • Parent communication: letter home going over the weekly focus with suggested conversation starters around literature
  • Book talk bookmarks for guided reading groups, at home support or independent student use
  • Posters supporting the target skills
  • Bulletin board headers and posters 
  • Skill cards: character, setting, problem & solution, etc. 
  • Morning work or fast finisher activities
  • Multiple worksheets covering current skill and precious weeks skills
  • Writing prompt(s)
  • Graphic organizers & writing paper
  • Craft  
5 nonfiction mini readers with nonfiction text featurescomprehension extension activities and worksheets for guided reading
Mentor poster and example cards for covered strands5 polar animal crafts reindeer, walrus, polar bear, narwhal and Arctic Fox with writing extensions
Writing materials and graphic organizers

I know the kids will love these new additions in combination with my original polar animal unit. It will be so much fun! 
FREEBIE ALERT! I wanted you to be able to take a glimpse into a small part of my latest Guided Reading with a Purpose unit on Polar animals so I included a FREEBIE! The orca/killer whale book in this freebie is exactly what the small readers are like in my Guided Reading with a Purpose Polar Unit... full of many text features. I also provided one of my mentor posters and one of the many focused worksheets included in the unit.   
CLICK ON THE IMAGE BELOW to receive your orca whale reader, diagram and label activity and mentor poster
orca whale nonfiction reader with extension activities


I hope you enjoy this freebie and always feel free to contact me with questions you may have! 




Engaging Winter Activities for the Classroom

Hey there friends,
I wanted to share my favorite winter time activities that are sure to please you and your students! Let's keep your kiddos engaged and you sane this winter! 


Click on any of the images below to check them out in my store! 
Holidays Around the World: I always wanted to cover a variety of holidays but never had all the time. This is why I created this unit full of variety. You can pick and choose what activities you have time for and still feel satisfied with what you taught. This year I added print and go trifolds, perfect for centers, morning work, guided reading groups or parent volunteers to do with your students

Winter Themed STEM: This year I have two winter themed STEM resources. "How to Catch an Elf" and "How to Catch a Snowman" They are so much fun and the kids learn so much! I always thought STEM projects would be so much work. You simply have to lay the groundwork for expectations of behaviors and basic procedures, then sit back and observe the magic.  I was a changed teacher after my first time doing "How to Catch a Snowman" last year.  Each unit has all the directions and even literacy extensions you will need! You just supply the basic materials for construction (most can be found in your classroom or recycle bin ha!)

Need something to send home with students to keep them learning, parents asking for work or want to send an educational gift home for the holidays?
My Snow Day Pack is full of fun learning activities from baking, STEM, math with measurement, game design, journaling and more! 

My Winter Writing Journal is always a big hit with kids and parents. I love to offer rewards to kids that bring them back after break with stories to share. They can read them on the microphone, hang them up for others to see, some have gotten extra tech time to type them. I also offer classroom cash and a fun pencil as a fun prize! It has all the support materials you will need for your writers read to print, staple and send home! 



You will be on break so soon, relaxing in sweats....can't you see it now? I hope you have a great last week with your nuggets!

Kacie 

Gingerbread Activities That are Sure to Engage! Plus a FREE Resource

Hey friends, 
How is it already December?! I mean seriously, it's crazy how fast this year has gone by! Correct me if I'm wrong, but I am guessing your students have been amped up this week. They are excited and anxious, all at the same time. Maybe they are having a hard time focusing. Sound familiar? 
This is an exact description of what my classroom was like in December.  I needed to direct that excitement into something... seasonal and fun...gingerbread. I LOVE gingerbread books and there are SO many variations to choose from. I love their repetition, but with a surprising twist. I love that they lend beautifully to text connections and compare and contrast. Also, isn't it the best when your students can chorally read along with you? They are engaged! 

So let the gingerbread games begin, I will tell how do I reel in my students this December through fun gingerbread themed reading and writing activities. 

I spread the gingerbread themed activities over two weeks. Now, you can do this however you want depending on your time. My kids are learning and mastering concepts so I am willing to table some things and give this time. You may have to pick and choose what you use dependent on the time you have. 

Gingerbread Themed Reading Comprehension

Read Different Versions of "The Gingerbread Man"
This is a quick break down of how I do this.
  • We read the story 
    • I always start with an older classic that most students are familiar with. From there, 
    • I will choose some favorites and have students vote on others they want to hear.
    • Keep all versions read out for kids to explore. 
    • There are also various stories read online too!  
  • I remind the students of the different elements involved in an fictional narrative. I use my mentor posters for visuals as we do this. (
    • I leave posters up for the remainder of the unit. 
  • We walk through the different story elements of the book we read.
  • I have done this in multiple ways, but we read another version so we can compare. 
    • Read back to back depending on length 
    • Read another later in the day where there is a natural break, after recess, during snack etc. 
  • We complete a Venn diagram whole group. (I record ideas on the board they copy)
    • I typically won't do this more then twice. Thats a lot of writing and after two Venn diagrams the kids can typically able to prove their understanding of the similarities and differences through discussion. 
  • Students may complete an additional comprehension extension dependent on what we need to review. 

Gingerbread Themed Narrative Writing

Create Our Own Versions of the Gingerbread Man
Click on the image BELOW to check it out in my store. 
This is a quick break down of how I do this.
  • I created a gingerbread narrative wiring unit with everything you would need to keep your students on track and excited while writing their own unique versions of the gingerbread man. 
  • First, we revisit the story elements from the different versions we read to inspire  unique features they may want to include in their own stories. 
  • Then we brainstorm a very rough version of our stories. 
  • My biggest recommendation is to break apart every section of the story. 
    • On one day we will plan our characters, their traits, and the problem. 
    • The next day we work on the beginning. We all know that the narrative genre can lead to classic never ending stories, and by breaking the elements apart we can avoid this. 
  • By the time you are working through the middle and into the end, your students will be showing so much independence, and no joke asking not to stop! 
  • After we are done doing some small edits (they are big stories)  I have published in many ways. 
    • I have had kids orally read and parent volunteers type. (this is a great at home volunteer project)
    • I have had kids partner with a 5th grader and collaborate during the typing process. 
    • I have also had kids dictate to me and I type
    • I have also made it an at home project to type the final draft (if parents have computer)

I also love to incorporate gingerbread into other areas of the curriculum, like science and math!

My gingerbread fun pack includes science , multiple math activities, and coloring choices! 

The kids love all the gingerbread things we do and I honestly enjoy it so much myself. I love that it offers something with a winter them that doesn't have to directly involve a holiday. The kids are engaged and excited to see what we will read next or what surprise activity I have in store. My favorite part is hearing the excitement in their voice as they read their versions to me and their peers. 
CLICK on the IMAGE BELOW to download your FREE gingerbread resource

I hope you have a fun couple of weeks leading up to break! I know these gingerbread activities will engage your students and restore some calm. We can do it friends! 



Keep Students Engaged this November and a FREE Download!

Hey there friends!
We're on the home stretch to Thanksgiving break and I know I'm looking forward to it! Fun with family, friends and time to relax and reset what could be better? The kids are also in need of a break, which means having to work a little harder to engage our students, and it's a little tricky when our brains are so worn out ha! I may be alone in the feeling, but if not, I would love to share a fun Thanksgiving themed activity sure to keep your students on task and having fun. 
I don't know if you have seen the "How to Catch a ..." series by Adam Wallace and Andy Elkerton but they are hilarious, brightly illustrated and naturally lend to a fun STEM challenge. When I saw "How to Catch a Turkey" on the shelves I knew I had to use it to create an exciting activity.
I read the book with my own boys and after seeing all of turkeys attempts to escape, we decided to make catapults! You can imagine how excited they were to make things that launch, and mom was cool with it! HA! 
Now, if you haven't done a STEM project with your kids before, prepare to be amazed with the engagement and pure excitement that comes with it. I kicked myself for not incorporating them sooner when I did my snowman traps last winter. I couldn't believe the different design ideas and the growth mindset the kids displayed throughout the designing and engineering process. 
Now with every unit I make I try to give myself multiple options to extend and support the learning. If you are anything like me, you love to keep it new and fresh each year. Having multiple choices on how to deliver the standards keeps it new and fresh for me and keeping me engaged is important too. Ha! 
Click on any of the images below to take a closer look in my store. 

Ok, so what does this involve?

Materials 

When I'm planning a STEM unit, I always brainstorm all the materials that kiddos might need to create their ideal design. The materials don't need to be fancy. Look around your house and try to think outside the box. (I include suggested materials inside all my units) I then make a list and ask parents to donate materials off the list if they can. I'm talking toilet paper rolls, toothpicks, tape, popsicle sticks, cardboard scraps, etc. I often get other things I hadn't thought of. Anything not sent in I can provide. As for leftovers, I keep them for future projects. 

Clear Expectations

Conversations about growth mindset are always important to have before starting a project like this. We talk about mistakes mean we are trying and pushing ourselves to think beyond what we may have experience in. When we make mistakes, it creates opportunity for different ideas to grow. We can't give up and be proud of your creations. We also talk about teamwork. Our expectations are that you let everyone have a chance to voice their opinions and share their ideas without negative criticism.  You may or may not have kids work in teams. I recommend at least a partner so that they can reflect on their design choices and practice compromising which are other great reasons to have activities like this in our classrooms. 

How long does this take?

This all depends on you. I have done the layout in multiple ways. I have broken the activities into separate days. We read the book and then I chose one of the comprehension activities that focused on a strategy we needed to review or used it to introduce a new standard. One another day we watched an engineering video (I provide links in the unit) then we talk about how we might design our catapults as well as start design process. Then the last day we partner up share our designs to make a joint design plan and start construction. Now, this can be done in one session as well. I have read the book to my students. I then would tell the kids we are going to help our turkey escape and will be constructing catapults to do so. Their eyes light up!  We would watch the video I have on catapult design and we get to designing and constructing. I do have two options as well for a determined design or free design engineering. If this doesn't keep your students engaged this November, I don't know what will! 
I just have to tell you how rewarding it was to get to stand back and observe their minds at work. Kids going beyond where they thought they could, kids celebrating and laughing.... ALL ON TASK! not being cheesy, but ok it's cheesy... I couldn't stop smiling. It is a whole new view of your kiddos and an experience I know they won't forget. Let's keep these students engaged this November. 
If you have 't taken advantage of downloading my FREE STEM POSTERS 
click on the image below. 

I hope you have a great week! We can do this, friends!


Problem Solver Station Helping Kids Solve Problems Independently

Hey there friends, 

"Teacher! He did, she said, I tried but.." I know you are hearing it all. Our kids are having a harder time gettin along. It's just that they are now more like siblings instead of just classmates. They are getting to know each other more, spending more time together and needing a little space. This time of year is usually when I need to reteach what is tattling vs. reporting and do some targeted  instruction on problem solving. 

What I have found is that sometimes kids just need to get their feelings out and want to be heard. Unfortunately, we know how long that line can get after recess. Without taking all the time, I still want to hear their concerns in order to validate their worries because I know kids will not be fully focusing on me if they have something else weighing on their minds whether it feels like a big deal to us or not.
Many years ago, (yes I'm old enough to say that)  I decided to create a  "Problem Solver Station". It has evolved over the years, but the basics remain. I found a small space in my room where kids could go to problem solve their issues independently before coming to me. At this station the main component  I have is problem solver forms. 
On these forms they write out what the problem/concern is. They then write how they tried to solve or avoid the problem, there is even a bank of strategies we have discussed in class to choose from. There is also a space where they indicate if they still need to talk to me about this. You would be surprised how many kiddos say no. Many times, they just need to write it out.
Now, you may be thinking how does she have enough time to read all of those?! First, they don't write that much. Second, if they took the time to write it all out, I owe it to them to read and see if it is something I need to look into further. Another reason I like the problems or concerns  being written out is it helps me collect data for reoccurring issues. Last, it cuts down the line up and blurts right after recess which we know can sometimes ruin an effective lesson launch. 
Another great component at the problem solver station is a copy of your schools problem solving strategies, if you have one. In my district they use "Kelso's Choices". I printed a smaller copy of the visual they use, to help kids chose quick and efficient strategies to solve a problem. 
Last, I have a penny for simple "let's flip for it" problems and a set of rock, paper, scissors dice. These are amazing because kids can't argue over who cheated or no you can't use "bomb", etc. Ha! 
The problem solver station has been a huge help to cut down on interruptions and problems getting out of hand. Kids need to be able to problem solve independently. Now of course we talk about small problem vs. big problem and when you must get an adult. Asking students "Is this a small problem or big problem?" is my go to prompt before sending them to the station. 
You can pick up your copy of my problem solver forms by clicking on the image below. 


Now, if you haven't directly taught big problem vs. small problem or you need a refresher for your students I have a great book companion unit with the theme of problem and solution which also focuses on tattling. Inspired by the book "Don't Squeal Unless It's a BIG Deal" I created engaging  guided reading activities, book talk questions, craft templates, mentor posters and writing extensions ready to print and go! Click on any of the images below to check out the unit in my store.  


I wish you the best of luck in supporting your kiddos and your sanity. I would love to hear how you support your kiddos working through their problems. We can all use some extra ideas! 

Have  a great week!

Take on Halloween week with Engaging Guided Reading Activities and Free Resource

Hey friends,

Happy Fall! I know Halloween is a few short days away, bit don't worry there is still time to work in some fun and focused activities. 

I don't know about you, but fall is my favorite season here in Washington. It's chilly, sunny and the colors of the trees are amazing! As a teacher I love it because I'm obsessed with all the Halloween books. I might have a slight problem... I buy them all. HA! I decided to take some of my favorites a few steps further with focused standards based activities and a craft of course! I try to work in art based activities whenever I can even if it has to involve other academics as well.

For my Halloween theme week, I focused on character analysis. Halloween books typically have hilarious characters with great animated emotions, as they go through unique situations.
In each unit I packed it with  print and go elements for when I didn't have a lot of time, but wanted an engaging  activity that checked off the standards. I also included a plethora of extensions for when time leant to further exploration. I wanted something that was almost scripted but allowed for flexibility and choice to keep it fun and interesting for not only the students but for us as teachers!


Each engaging unit has:

  • Mini-lesson ideas to introduce the focus 
  • Comprehension cards to accompany the book to review throughout the book or for discussion after you read
  • Parent communication: letter home going over the weekly focus with suggested conversation starters around literature
  • Book talk bookmarks for guided reading groups, at home support or independent student use
  • Posters supporting the target skills
  • Bulletin board headers and posters 
  • Skill cards: character, setting, problem & solution, etc. 
  • Some units include morning work or fast finisher activities
  • Multiple worksheets covering current skill and precious weeks skills
  • Writing prompt(s)
  • Graphic organizers & writing paper
  • Craft  
You can click on any of the images below to look closer at what's included in the resource. 




If you want to get a glimpse of what one of these units is like, I have created a smaller version inspired by the book "Room on The Broom" Simply click on the link to download your copy!



I'm wishing you all the luck this Halloween week! You know we will need it!