My Favorite Freebie

Joining in for a fun Linky Party on 2nd Grade Pad's Blog to celebrate favorite FREE products!

The product I chose as my favorite freebie is actually one I just created yesterday!

I created this item not for my classroom or for my customers, but for my 2nd grade son. Sam has struggled with handwriting issues since preschool and has been receiving some awesome OT services since Kindergarten. Sam has started off second grade at a brand new school with a great teacher. One of the ongoing activities throughout the year is to read chapter books at home and complete a "Book Report" form to return. Once he has turned in 10 reports he gets a prize.

Last week Sam completed his first book and we sat down to complete his report form. The form he received at school was designed with small boxes and very thin lines to write in. His teacher had found it on the internet. Sam became very frustrated and didn't want to complete his project. He said he didn't care if he got a prize. I know he loves reading and the activity itself was great, the problem was the design of the sheet. Yesterday, with permission from his teacher, I sat down and designed a new sheet that is more visually appealing and open, hence Book Report Fun!

Since this item is so very close to my heart I have chosen Book Report Fun! as my favorite freebie! Please download it for free from The Teaching Bank store.

It is great to use as Sam does, at home, or in the classroom to monitor student's independent reading comprehension. It helps those with OT issues like Sam but is regular enough for any student to use in the primary grades. I hope it will become as useful in your classroom as much as it has for us!

Interactive Science Notebook

If you have been a reader of my blog for awhile you'll know I am a bit of a NASA fan. I was very saddened to hear the news last weekend of the death of Neil Armstrong. Neil Armstrong was a true American hero and an inspiration for everyone. When reading the various stories about Mr. Armstrong over the past few days I came across this quote from him that I love:

"Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man's desire to understand."

This quote embodies what we do in the education world. We hope to create wonder in our students so that they will desire to understand and learn.

I had been working on putting together an interactive science notebook to help teachers and students organize their science resources when I came across this quote. It prompted me to add a section to my notebook that I call the Why/How Does... section. This section integrates writing into the science curriculum.  Everyday (or however often you want) students will write a Why/How does... statement. Why/How does... is a statement that asks the student to pick something that they wonder about and ask why it works the way it does, or how does it work? By creating these Why/How does... statements on a regular basis students will start looking at the world with more wonder and be on the lookout for new things to write about that interest them.

Writing these daily Why/How does... statements do not take much time. It can be used as a sponge activity or bellringer activity as the student comes into the classroom. 

My Interactive Science Notebook is now complete and I have it listed in my store. I have created three versions: 1-3rd grade, 4-5th grade, and 6-8th grade versions. The main difference in the versions is the size of the writing lines, clipart used, and some of the scientific vocabulary. The 6-8th grade version also contains a Periodic Table reference chart that the others do not.

All of the versions contain the following:
•Cover for the notebook
•Teacher Directions
•Teacher plans for the WHY/HOW DOES writing activities
•Why/How Does... writing page

•Experiment pages for note taking and reflecting

•Unfamiliar vocabulary page

•Scientific Method reference chart
•Metric Measurement reference chart
•Standard Measurement reference chart
•Neil Armstrong quote 8.5"x22" bulletin board decor

•Labels for organizing the binder including blank labels that you can customize.

This Interactive Science Notebook is a great way to keep your students organized and encourage them to write daily to increase their wonder and desire to understand! Check them all out in my Teachers Pay Teachers or Teacher's Notebook stores!

Does Texting Erode Kids' Grammar Skills?

Click the image to read more!

Summer Flying By?

Hello everyone! I don't know about you but my summer is just flying by! I had planned to do a lot of work on my products and be really productive this summer but the time is slipping away! Having my 3 kids home for the summer is taking up a lot of time. I love having them around but boy do they keep me busy with baseball, Tae Kwon Do, the pool, and running them all over the place! I feel like more taxi driver than anything some days!

Family vacations are taking up a chunk of my summer time too. My husband and I celebrated our 20th anniversary on May 30th with a Disney cruise for the whole family! We had a wonderful trip.
One interesting and educational experience on the cruise was during our 2 days at sea. The ship stopped because they saw rafts in the water. The first day we rescued 4 Cuban refugees who had set sail on a small raft in hopes of a better life. To see that tiny little raft out in the open ocean was very eye opening. To think their life was so bad in Cuba that they would risk that for something better was humbling.
Our second day at sea we stopped for another raft, but this time it was empty. I am left to wonder whatever became of the passengers. I hope they were rescued by someone else before we came along.

After returning home we had 2 weeks with a stream of house guests. It was nice to be able to celebrate my daughter's 10th birthday with the love of family surrounding us.

Upcoming we have a week at a Northeastern South Dakota lake with my parents, brother, and sister-in-law. Last we will head to Chicago to go to the American Girl store and to attend the Chicago Bears training camp at Soldier Field! Then of course it is back to school!

To help get you in the back to school groove check out this fantastic
There are a multitude of items from some fantastic Teachers Pay Teachers sellers! 

Enjoy the rest of your summer! I promise to get back to business and blog more once school begins!

Trouble Opening TpT Files? Tips from Erica Bohrer

Erica Bohrer's First Grade: Trouble Opening TpT Files?: The top question I get emailed or asked in my Teachers Pay Teachers store : Can you help me?  When I open your file, it shows these blac...

Spending the Summer with Katniss Everdeen, Willy Wonka, and Jigsaw Jones!

Summer vacation is almost upon us. That means I will have 3 kids home and looking for something to do! Every summer I plan some reading and math activities for my kids to keep them fresh and ready to return to school in the fall. This summer I have planned the following for reading:

My oldest son will be going into 7th grade next year. He has pretty much gone through all my novel units and is ready to branch out. We decided The Hunger Games would be a great novel to choose since he really wants to see the movie and I won't let him until he's read the book! I read the entire series a couple months ago and I loved all of the books! I can't wait for Joey to read it so we can have some real in-depth discussions and go to the movie together. Since I do not have any activities to go with this book I turned to the TpT expert, Tracee Orman! She had so many wonderful products to choose from but I felt that her product, Hunger Games Q & A Chap. 1-27 + Arena Activity, Chap. Summaries, would be the best fit for our summer work since it would be a single student instead of an entire classroom. I can't wait to get started!

My daughter will be going into 4th grade next year. Since I taught 4th grade more than any other, this is my specialty! There are so many fun books to choose from. I plan to start off with one of my favorite books, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory! This was one of my very favorite units to teach and I can't wait to have that fun with my daughter!

My youngest son will be going into 2nd grade next year. This will really be the first summer that he will get to complete one of my novel units. We plan to start with Jigsaw Jones: The Case of the Missing Baseball Cards. Sam really loves sports and collects cards of his own so this should be right up his alley! It is a great book to start chapter book reading.

So that is what I have planned to start off with for the summer with my kids. They start out each day with a school work assignment and some household chores before they head outside to enjoy the sunshine. Helps them transition back into school a little easier in August too! Check out my store at Teacher's Pay Teachers, or any of the hundreds of other great stores (like Tracee's) for some ideas for your kids for some fun summer learning!

Please Vote in for The Teaching Bank in the TpT Banner Contest!

I have entered three banners into the Teachers Pay Teachers Banner Contest. If you like the look of my banners and would like to see TpT use them on their website please head over to the Teachers Pay Teachers Facebook page and "LIKE" my submissions!

You can find submissions in the right hand column:
 "Recent Posts by Others on"

Click the "See All" link and scroll down for The Teaching Bank's submissions and click LIKE. Voting ends on Saturday, April 28, 2012.

Here are the banner designs that I have submitted:

Thank you so much for your support!

The Adventures of Flat Sam!

Another fun adventure using Flat Stanley in the classroom. Check out the "Adventures of Flat Sam"!

Click the image to read more!

Interesting Books I've Read!

I love to read. That's a pretty common trait amongst teachers so I am sure it is no big surprise. Recently I finished two books that had me thinking in different ways. I thought I'd detour a bit from talking about children's books and activities and discuss these great adult books! Teachers need to feed their minds as well as the minds of their students!

First book was Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.

I know many, many people have read this book since its release. If you haven't read it take a moment to check it out.  You need not be a computer wiz, or even an Apple fan, to appreciate the message that can be gained. The main thing I took away from this book was to always believe in yourself and your ideas, don't let the naysayers of the world talk you down. Steve had some flops and bad ideas in his day but he pushed through the negativity that was directed towards him and let those ideas fail on practice, not for lack of trying. Of course Steve had many, many more successes than failures, and many of those successes came to be because he ignored the naysayers and marched to his own drum. Steve was not the kindest man, and he could be very difficult to work with, but he also inspired those around him to strive for the very, very best. That is something that all of us can learn from and improve on! Walt Disney has always been a man I have looked up to. Steve and Walt have many qualities in common and one of them was to never give up on your dreams!

The second book I finished was Gabby by Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly

This book was very inspiring. I had never heard of Gabrielle Giffords prior to her being shot in January, 2011, but I had been following Mark Kelly's career since July, 2010.  Mark Kelly was the Commander of Space Shuttle Endeavour's STS-134 mission. I had requested tickets to the STS-134 launch back in January, 2010, and we had been following the progress of the mission very closely. I was saddened to see Mark Kelly's name as her husband in the coverage of Congresswoman Gifford's shooting in 1/11. Along with watching and praying for Ms. Giffords, we were watching and hoping that Mark would be able to stay with the mission to fly on Endeavour as planned.

It was very inspirational to learn about Gabrielle Giffords and all the of the things she had accomplished prior to the shooting. She is a remarkable woman. To read of the miracle of not just her survival, but of her overcoming so much after the shooting, is inspiring. It makes me really sad to learn what a remarkable person we had in Congress and I am sorry she is no longer there. We need more like her in Congress and I really pray that she can return someday!

I also enjoyed reading of Mark's accomplishments and background. Not only did I read the book, but my 12 year old son and I went to a lecture he gave near here last month. In the lecture he shared many stories that are in the book and he was so inspiring, funny, and engaging as a speaker. I am so happy that my son was able to hear him talk because he shared a great message: You may not be the best at everything, you may not be that great at anything, but if you have patience, determination, and drive you can accomplish anything. 

Mark writes the book in the same engaging manner that he used at the lecture. It was fun to read his stories leading up to the launch attempt on April 29, 2011. It was interesting to think that he was just a  few miles down the beach from us at that same time preparing for his mission and we were preparing to come and watch. Sadly, as I've written before, that launch was scrubbed and Endeavour did not launch until May 16th. We were not able to return to attend and watched on TV from home instead.

I highly recommend the book to everyone. It is engaging, funny, sad, and very inspirational. It will make you think about how you live your everyday life and how you can strive to do better.

Where Have I Been?

Wow it has been over a month since I wrote a post on my blog! I am sure you are wondering Where has she been? What has she been doing? I wish I had some super exciting adventure to share but really I have just been busy redesigning my units! I have redesigned some layouts, added some additional activities, added assessment components, and have added a Common Core Standards Alignment. I just finished up with The Indian in the Cupboard Unit. Some of the differences you will see are:
  • New Cover page for the Student Packet. I am taking advantage of my husband's graphic design software to make the cover more colorful and inviting. Since I know that sometimes it can get pricey to print off color pages I have kept a black and white option in the unit if that better fits your budget when you print it out!
  • Redesigned Teacher Packet. Teacher plans and answer keys have a new look!
  • Redesigned Student Packet pages: Student packet pages have been reformatted for a more pleasing look and better use of space to help with clarity.
  • New Vocabulary Activities added!
  • An Assessment Packet added that contains a vocabulary quiz, a comprehension quiz in both a short answer and multiple choice format, and a writing assessment.
  • Common Core Standards Alignment for the grade levels that the unit is geared for. This alignment lists all the standards that are addressed for each grade level and lists the specific activity that addresses the standard.
I have 76 units on my product list, currently the following have been redesigned and updated with all the new parts:

For Grades 3-5:
Sideways Stories from Wayside School
Mr. Popper's Penguins
Chocolate Fever
Flat Stanley
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
The Chocolate Touch
The Magic Finger
Charlotte's Web

For Grades 5-8:
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
Maniac Magee
Dear Mr. Henshaw
The Indian in the Cupboard
The Report Card
The Last Holiday Concert
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Over the next few months I will be working to update every unit on my product list. Up next on the agenda is Night of the Twisters so watch for that!

If you have previously purchased a unit from me don't despair, you can get the updated version at no additional cost. If you purchased as a download from Teachers Pay Teachers or Teacher's Notebook please return to your account at the site. You should be able to re-download your purchase. If you purchased the unit on a CD please email me. My email is on the label of your CD. In your email let me know your email address, which website you purchased from, and when your purchase was made so that I can verify. I will send you the new unit file via email.

Watch my Facebook Page for updates as more units are completed.