How to Make the Most of It

A little bird might have told you that TpT is having a sale soon...or even a flock of birds...or maybe they even mowed you down in their excitement! LOL

Yes. There is a sale.  Surprise! LOL!

So how can you make the MOST of a TpT sale at the end of the year when you are just barely holding on?

Make Use of Those Credits!
I am a credit hoarder.  I rarely ever use my credits.  I pretty much save them for sales. That way I can get the most bang for my buck.

I sort my purchases by "Needs Feedback." Then, I right click and open up a bazillion tabs of products that need feedback and delete as I leave feedback.  It just helps me keep organized.  I might also not leave feedback until the very end.  Whoops. I will not be showing you HOW MANY things I need to be leaving feedback on because it is downright embarrassing.

What Do You Need Now?
When filling up that cart, think of products you need to use before the end of year. Memory books? Awards? Summer Enrichment? Go ahead and pick these up NOW and save.  No need paying 20% more for it in a week if you can save now by planning ahead!


Planning Ahead
Generally, TpT does a Back to School sale. However, not even premium sellers are aware of the dates of the sale until just a few days before.

In my area, teachers will go back to school the last week of July.  Which is insane.  Let's all give them  a moment of silence and say a prayer for them.

The one thing I can guarantee??? TpT will not be having a sale that early.  Historically, it has been sometime in August.

That means you will need to PLAN AHEAD. How can you plan ahead?

Think About Any Standards Additions or Changes
In  Georgia at least, many of the Social Studies and Science standards are changing.  Many districts may be implementing the NGSS.  Try to take the time and make a list of any changes or additions.  Are there any topics that you need supplemental materials for?

What Did You Kids Need MORE Help With?
Hopefully, your memory will be fresh. Are their any concepts or skills that your students really struggled with this year?  Are there any materials that could make this concept of skill more engaging or help your students understand it better?  This is a great time to think about what your students struggled with and how you can address if for next year.

What Topics or Skills Need a Little More VA-VA VOOM?
Are there any topics that made you (and your students) want to stab your eyes out in boredom (Roots of Our Democracy, I am looking at you!)? Look for supplemental materials that will excite you AND your students in those skills and topics that can be a bit, uh, dull. I might be giving dictionary skills a side eye here.

What Will Take LOTS of Prep Time?
Let's face it.  Some products take lots of prep.  It is the nature of the beast.  If you are considering revamping your math or reading block and want to add in centers, look for those now.  While I certainly do not want ANY teacher to spend their entire summer laminating and cutting, you might use a bit of that time to get ahead.  Or pay your kids.  Or the neighbor's kids. ;)


My Differentiated ELA and Differentiated Math Centers are a perfect example of a product that can be purchased now and prepped when you have an extra time. Make sure to purchase the bundles to save money.

However, just a note about bundles.  Many sellers DO NOT include bundles in the sale.  This is because buyers are already purchasing the bundle at a discount.  I try to always include everything in my store in any sale, because I was a super cheap teacher. ;)

What Will You Need for the New School Year?
Since the BTS sale might be after school begins, think about what you will need in those early days of school.  Consider, what forms will your parents be filling out at Open House? 





What unit will you be teaching first? 

The Teacher Appreciation Sale is May 9th and 10th!  Don't forget that pesky code! Gets me everytime LOL!


Engaging Literacy Activities to End the Year!

I know that this is a wild and woolly time of year. The kids are ready to check out and check into summer!  And well, so am I!!! Unfortunately, we still have some learning and assessing to do. And more assessing.  And even more assessing.  Did I mention assessing, yet?  Was that just my school?

So, how can you keep your kids from checking out?

Literature Circles
I loved using literature circles.  i used them in my 2nd, 3rd, AND 4th grade classrooms. Some years ARE better than others, but it was fun (most years LOL!)!

I just created a packet to help with literature circles for some of your little learners.  This packet is appropriate for end 1st and 2nd grade students. 

I think some of the most important points for literature circles are STUDENT CHOICE and HIGH INTEREST TEXTS. Before I ever jumped into lit. circles, I made sure I had enough books that kids would like.  The novelty of meeting with other kids will only last so long, if the book stinks! LOL

I am a firms believer in letting students choose which books they can read.  Now, it was choice within the boundaries I selected, since I controlled the books that were choices and ultimately put the groups together. I had kids choose their top three books and that made it much easier to put groups together.

I have a pretty in depth blog post planned for literature circles.  If you have any questions, I would LOVE to hear them, so I can make sure to answer them in that post!

Modified Literature Circles
My kids loved literature circles, but there can be some drawbacks.  They can use TONS of paper and students can lose interest if the book takes too long. 

We always discussed the books over snacks- this was a HUGE motivator! Students would ONLY get their snack if they finished the assigned reading for the literature circle ;). I am sneaky.  

Then, students would discuss what they noticed as they snacked. Some years my kids had a stack of post its and their books.  They marked them in areas they wanted to discuss and made notes on the  post it. Other years, the students needed more guidance so I provided a sheet.

This is a simple half sheet for student to record their thinking. you can run of as many sheets as needed and create a booklet!  A cover is included. Get your free copy here!

Students met and discussed the pages. I will give one hint- you need to carefully balance how often students meet.  If they meet too often, they may lose interest in the book because the book will take forever to read. If they don't meet often enough, then they read SO MUCH it may be hard to keep events and thoughts straight!

Reader's Theater
Another FAVORITE way to end the year is Reader's Theater.  My students always loved reader's theater and it was perfect for practicing fluency. 

Generally, we made a big deal of the reader's theater.  We invited parents and younger grade levels.  We even performed it in the library to accompany a larger crowd! One year we painted "backdrops" on butcher paper.  I made copies of illustrations from the picture books on an overhead.  Students traced the picture.  Then, we just used tempera paint and painted the pictures.

These our our "backgrounds" for How I Became a Pirate by Shannon.

You can snag a free copy of the readers theater here!

This goes perfectly with my Pirate unit.  This is a cross curricular unit with ideas for writings, math, and more! My kids LOVED it!  We used the art projects to decorate the walls before the performance.

If you are looking for some other reader's theaters I also have these freebies


These go perfectly with my Cowboy End of the Year unit.

Reading Contests
Have you ever heard of the nonprofit organization Read to Feed? In concept, it is like the Relay for Life fundraisers, but instead of sponsoring a child by distance run,  a child is sponsored by the amount read.

The website is gorgeous.  I like the philosophy of the organization- it mimics the proverb, "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a dayteach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."  Instead of just giving the community food, they provide the community with animals (among other things) so they can learn a trade and sustain themselves.

The site also has FREE lessons AND a beautifully illustrated book that can be projected.


I did this with a teammate several years ago.  We didn't do it exactly as the site suggests.  We did a contest between out classes.  

We challenged students to do reading at home.  Parents wrote down the time in the student's agendas and we totaled the time (great life math lesson) daily. We had the large thermometers (like you see in many fundraisers) blown up on butcher paper. We added to the thermometer daily. 

 The class that met (or exceeded ) the goal first got to choose the animal donated.  My friends father' donated the money for the animal and we stayed under $100! I think it was even under $50!  They have animals as cheap as $20! The kids LOVED the competition!

I hope this gave you a few ideas to make your end of the year more fun and engaging! 



Guided Reading in a SNAP!

Guided reading can be so hard to wrap your hands (and mind) around.  For the past few months, I have been diligently working behind the scenes talking with other teachers, organizing my own thoughts, and writing and writing and writing. LOL!

Over the next few months I will be releasing tons and tons of materials to support small group reading instruction and more!

The first pack (of many upcoming) is almost like a “Guided Reading Light” pack. When creating this pack, I tried to keep in mind the many road blocks teachers may encounter during guided reading: time, organization of materials, lack of resources, and limited copies.

This pack is just for level K, but other packs will be released soon!

Although the school year maybe winding down for you, NOW is the perfect time to start thinking about NEXT year. The hustle and bustle of a new school year is overwhelming.  Begin thinking about how you can organize and improve your instruction now.

How does this pack help YOU?

It will save you TIME. It will save time in planning, and also in instruction.

This pack includes 8 printable guided reading texts.  For each book there are three days of lessons plans.  The lesson plans are short and to the point.  The lessons follow simple guided reading format. For example for Day One:
      Text Activation
      Introduction of the text
      Tricky words to focus on
      Setting the purpose for students reading.
      Students will read and respond.
      Discussion of the text.

It will help you get ORGANIZED.

When I wrote this pack I tried to think about how teachers could easily organize the resources so they could access them easily. 

All the materials for ONE book will fit in a 4" X 6" photo case!

The texts and all materials are purposely written to save paper and ink. Most pages can be cut into fourths. This was done purposely. The materials for each text fit perfectly in a 4” x 6” photo case. The Iris Photo Boxes from Michaels or Amazon are a perfect way to store the materials. One case includes 16 photo boxes.

When creating this set, I did this so one row of the case could contain all the books included in one level. If the teacher chooses to implement this organizational system, then only two Iris Photo Boxes can store ALL the materials in the second grade level (J, K, L, and M).

You don’t have to use a fancy box to organize them! You can organize the materials anyway you chose. You can simply put each set in a sandwich sized zip-lock bag! For easy storage, you can use any Dollar Store plastic boxes to hold all the zip lock bags for each level!

It will provide exactly what you need at your fingertips if you need MORE RESOURCES.

This pack includes 4 fiction and 4 nonfiction guided reading books. When added together, there are a total of 24 instructional days of materials in the pack.   According to the guided reading expert Dr. Jan Richardson, the average student at these levels will gain about one level a month.  This pack may be just the right amount of materials for some of your students!

For each text, at least 2 graphic organizers are provided for students to complete.  Every fiction text includes a beginning, middle, and end graphic organizer.  Nonfiction texts require students to summarize what the text is about and identify two newly learned facts. Additional graphic organizers will depend on the mail focus of each text.

It will save your precious COPY COUNTS!

I know that copies and paper can be a previous commodity in schools.  I wrote these books so that they will use two sheets of paper. The books will be cut down to be ¼ of a page, as will the lessons and all graphic organizers.

The last page DOES have questions for the students to respond to. Students can write in the actual books OR teachers can ask students to respond on white boards or paper and reuse the books from year to year.

Does this sound like something you can use in your classroom? Are you still not sure? 

To help you decide I am include one book and all the supplemental materials FREE!

Just click below to grab it!

If you would like to get the GROWING bundle at a steal check out this!

Right now the bundle is only $30 and the Level K set is only $10.  I will be raising prices on Sunday, so make sure to grab it now for the Early Bird Pricing!


I Have to Teach Geometry...Now What?

Geometry can be a fickle thing to teach.  In some ways, it is super simple.  I mean, it IS just shapes!!  However, in others it can be very difficult.  First of all, how in depth should you get? What do your kids need to know?  Secondly, oh the VOCABULARY!  GAH! SO.MANY.TERMS.

Let's dive in and take a closer look at 2D (plane) shapes.  Next post will focus on 3D shapes!

What Do the Standards Expect?

Georgia has developed a set of frameworks that reviews each standard and gives ideas and resources for each math concept.  It also breaks the standard down so that teachers can be sure they are addressing what the standard expects from students. I liked this version because I thought it was very user friendly for teachers.

I cut and paste student expectations into a "prettier" and easier to read document.  You are more than welcome to download it here, free.

The list of end of unit expectations looks long, but many of them piggy back on each other. It is very clear that students need to be able to understand and use the attributes of plane and solid shapes...which is a whole lotta vocabulary!

So how can you help teach concepts and solidify understanding of vocabulary?  Let's about the lessons.

What Should I Be Teaching?

While the standard may not explicitly mention polygons, it is embedded in the standard. Students will have to know what a polygon is to even begin understanding 2D shapes.  A polygon is a 2D shapes made of straight lines and is closed. A sort is a simple, but meaningful way to help students understand and differentiate between a polygon and not a polygon.

Then, students can apply their learning to plane shapes and begin to learn the basic plane shapes and the attributes (sides, corners, and angles). A great book to introduce plane shapes is the book The Greedy Triangle.

This is a longer book, and I usually do not read longer books as part of my math mini lesson during math workshop.  You can read more about that here.  However, this was a book I ALWAYS made time for.  I usually read this book aloud on Fridays, when I did not follow the math workshop model. 

Students were each given a geoboard and rubber bands. While I was reading, the geoboards has to stay on the floor, and students kept their hands in their laps so they could listen. In the book, the main character (The Greedy Triangle) is bored and wishes to change shapes.  He changes into different plane shapes.  As the character adds new angles and changes into a new polygon, students make the polygon on their geoboards and record it on the anchor chart.

These anchor charts may not be pinterest perfect, but it was the real world in my classroom! These are the charts we made as we read the book.  I tried to call multiple students up to draw their shapes so other students could see that a hexagon, for example, could look different!

Students can practice novel ways of creating and identifying 2D shapes. Some ideas are:
  • Creating plane shapes with playdoh and Popsicle sticks
  • Gluing toothpicks in 2D shapes
  • Sorting and graphing shapes
  • Finding 2D shapes in the real world magazine pictures

After students become comfortable with the terms sides, corners, angles, you can introduce the concept that several plane shapes are quadrilaterals. This is another activity that is great for sorting. 

It also leads well in to composing and decomposing 2D shapes.  This is just a fancy way of saying what shapes make a hexagon or an octagon. Pattern blocks are wonderful for teaching composing and decomposing plane shapes. A fantastic (and hands-on) way to teach this is by having students stack the pattern blocks on top of each other.  This way they can see that the shapes are exactly made by the blocks on top.

How Can I Deepen Student Thinking?

One of my favorite activities to challenge students is a riddle sort of activities.  My school had a large pack of plastic polygons.  If you don't have access the plastic polygons, you can get a printable set of polygons here from John Van De Walle (as well as a million other blacklines). Please note that all the 5 sided polygons are on the same page if you choose to use different color copy paper when printing.  The colors might give the shape away ;)!

Lay the shapes out and sit the class in a circle around the shapes.  Students will play a guessing game. Mentally choose a a shape and give students clues.  For example, "My magic shape has more than 4 sides." Call on students to get rid of the shapes that don't fit the magic shape rules (triangles and quadrilaterals). You can use all kinds of clues to sharpen math thinking in general ("It has the same number of angles as the value of a nickel."). My kids loved this game.  Make sure that when you pick the magic shape, there is only one like it (in this example, only one pentagon)! LOL

How can I apply this in my classroom?

Ready to turn around and try some of the of these activities? Grab your supplies and get ready!

Want the activities shared in this post and even MORE printables?  Check out my Geometry Unit- Everything You Need and More!

Click here for this great pack of FREE math centers, plus get tips and updates from me!

If you would like more ideas from me, be sure to follow me on Teachers Pay Teachers, Pinterest, and Facebook to catch all the freebies and ideas and more!

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