Mr. Popper's Penguins Resources and Activities


Mr. Popper's Penguins was written decades ago, but the story still captures the hearts of readers today. If you aren't familiar, Mr. Popper's Penguins is about a house painter who reads and daydreams about the polar regions in his spare time. One day he receives a penguin at his home. What follows is an adventure with a group of very talented penguins! Whether I'm reading the story aloud to my class or reading it with a small group, I use many of the same activities from year to year.  Today I want to share some of those activities and resources with you.
For my small groups, I put together reading packets. These contain all of the comprehension questions and vocabulary pages for the book.  Then I pick and choose the graphic organizers and extras that my particular reading group needs to focus on.  We work on these extra pages, as needed.  
When reading the story aloud, we will complete the graphic organizers together either on chart paper or under the document camera. Questions are completed orally, rather than in writing.


Vocabulary is also key with this text because there are a lot of new and unfamiliar words.  For my small reading groups, I have limited their vocabulary to 4 words per chapter. After reading and completing the comprehension questions, students will find a vocabulary match-up activity.
When reading the story aloud, I stop and discuss the meaning of words as needed.  When we finish the story, I let each student choose one word from a vocabulary list. They write down the word, definition, and draw a picture demonstrating understanding of the vocabulary word.  These make a great addition to the penguin craft included:
You can find all of these resources here:

Happy Teaching!



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Number Names (Different Ways to Represent Numbers)


Years ago our school was using Everyday Math.  One of our routines was Name Collection Boxes. If you aren't familiar, this is an opportunity for students to represent and read numbers in different ways.  I had a group of second graders who struggled with number sense, so I used this game to help during our intervention block.

After creating the game, I copied enough sets so eventually each student in the group would have their own set. Each set was on its own color so the cards would not get mixed up.

The cards were cut ahead of time for the students and placed into baggies for easy access.  The first time we met, we did a basic sort together, using ONE set of cards.  I put all the of the written words at the top, in order.  Then we looked at each card and discussed where the numbers would go.

For our second meeting, the students completed this same sort with their own sets of cards.  During our third meeting, we played a new game with only one set of cards.  Each student was given one number to be in charge of.  I was the dealer with the remaining cards. I would show one card to the group. The students had 3-5 seconds to claim the card if it belonged in their pile. If a student did not claim the card in the time frame, I announced who should have claimed it and put it back in the pile.  If a student falsely claimed the number, they had to return one of the cards in their pile to the dealer.  This kept students more focused on accuracy, rather than just guessing.

As students got better, we used the number names sort or game as a warm-up.  Then I would give the students a white board and a number.  They had to put the number in the corner of their board and write down at least 5 different ways to represent the number:

You can grab this free game here:

For more math ideas, check out my Pinterest board:

Happy Teaching!
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Put on Your Listening Ears


 The beginning of the year is a time best spent on teaching expectations and procedures to set the tone for the rest of the year. One of the expectations we work on is listening skills.  Two books that I use to help are Listen Buddy by Helen Lester and Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns to Listen by Howard Binkow.  

After reading the stories, we discuss what it means to be a good listener.  We also work on retelling the story. We mainly do this orally at the beginning of the year, but sometimes I will model the writing portion or we will complete it together.  Either way, there are several options for graphic organizers to choose from: 

I also like to ask comprehension questions to see if students can recall information from the text:

To extend the lesson, your students can put together a bunny craft.  Students can choose whether they want their bunny to be brown like Buddy:

or white like Howard B. Wigglebottom:

On the ears students can write what it means to be a good listener, why it is important to be a good listener, etc.  Students can either leave the ears standing tall, or fold an ear down to add a little personality to their bunny craft.

You can find all of these things in this pack:

Happy Teaching!


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Back-to-School Giveaway


Whether you head back in August or September, let's make sure you are ready for the new school year.  Head over to my Instagram page and enter to win a $10 TpT Gift Card and $10 to spend in my TpT store.  This is a super quick giveaway and ends Monday at Noon (PST). Good luck!


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A Bad Case of Tattle Tongue


When students do not know the difference between tattling and reporting, it can eat up instructional time and frustrate even the most experienced teacher. I like to spend a good chunk of time at the beginning of the year teaching and using examples to illustrate the difference.  Today I want to share some ideas for using the book, A Bad Case of Tattle Tongue in the classroom to address tattling and reporting.

Julia Cook makes my job a little easier with her picture books.  If you aren't familiar with A Bad Case of Tattle Tongue, here's what it's about:

After reading the story, we discuss the four tattling rules.  Then I give the students some examples (some from the book) for a classroom discussion.  Together we talk about each situation and determine whether it is tattling or reporting:
(This sorting activity is NOT included in the book companion, but you can grab it here.)

The next day we will revisit the story.  This time my focus is on comprehension and vocabulary.  I have these comprehension questions pre-cut and in a cup.  Students can draw a question and then answer it.  

We also discuss the vocabulary.  Since I always work on a story retell at the beginning of the year, my students work on a retell at their seats as a follow-up.  At the beginning of the year, I allow students to use a combination of pictures and words for their retell.

On the third day, I'm usually ready to have my students apply what they have learned with tattling vs. reporting and complete a writing extension.  Usually this means giving my students a situation and having them give some advice on what should be done.  This helps me gain insight into who gets it and who needs a little extra support.  I added this craft for some of my fast finishers to go with it:

You can add your own writing page:

or use one of the pages from the pack:

You can find these resources and more in this picture book companion for A Bad Case of Tattle Tongue:




Happy Teaching!


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2 for Tuesday (7.26.16)


How is your summer going?  My mother-in-law and I took the kids to the county fair a few days ago.  Little man may be 3 feet tall at the doctor's office, but he wouldn't stand up straight at the fair so the only ride he managed was in the stroller - boo! 

Anyhow, I'm back today to participate in another #2forTuesday deal.  Today's math packs are great for math centers, fast finishers, or guided math rotations.

First up is In the Math Mix.  The math games and centers in this pack target addition and subtraction, counting and comparing coin combinations up to $1, and working with a hundreds chart (1-100 or 1-120). These math games and centers were created to use with my second graders at the beginning of the year, but many of the skills could work well with first graders, too.

Here's a peek at the addition and subtraction games:

You'll also find ways to get your students comfortable with the hundreds chart:

Also included are games to practice counting and comparing coin combinations:

Next up is Math Mania.  These math games & centers target addition and subtraction facts, telling time, counting coin combinations, and comparing coin totals. I use them with my second graders in the fall. The games/centers could also be used with first grade students or third graders who need to review these skills. 

Students can practice addition and subtraction using these math fact sorts:

I love to make math fact practice fun, so I've also included two games in this pack: Cover-Up (not shown here) and Take 10:

 Students will also practice counting and comparing coin combinations:

You'll also find telling time practice.  The game has times to the quarter hour, to the 5-min interval, and to the minute.  I was able to use these games all year long!


You can find these packs on sale today along with many other great deals.  Head over to TpT and search #2forTuesday

Happy Shopping!


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Stuart Little Resources & Activities


Even though Stuart Little was originally published many decades ago, this story of friendship, family, and adventure still captures the hearts of readers today!  This story is a great read aloud for a second grade classroom, but third and fourth graders can tackle this book during reading groups.  Today I'm here to share some resources you can use with your own class in either a large group or small group setting.

If you aren't familiar, this story features a very small mouse on a very big adventure!  Stuart Little is no ordinary mouse.  Born to a family of humans, he lives in New York City with his family.  But when Stuart's best friend goes missing, he's determined to leave home and take an epic journey to find his friend.  

When reading this with a small group, comprehension and vocabulary are always my top priority.  I tend to make reading response packets for my group.  These can be printed on colored paper (as shown) or white paper so the kids can decorate how they want:
Inside their reading packets, students will find graphic organizers, vocabulary practice, and comprehension questions for each chapter of the story.  To keep the packets from getting too thick, I like to copy pages back-to-back.
For this particular book, I have a few different vocabulary options that have worked for my students.  First, I keep a list of targeted vocabulary words for each chapter in their packets.  I also have a vocabulary graphic organizer that we use from time to time (NOT with every word listed).  Every few chapters students will choose one word to add to the graphic organizer to solidify their understanding of the vocabulary term.  I also added a sailboat craft to tie in with the story and keep vocabulary work fresh and exciting.
 Students can also collect interesting words along the way with this WOW Words Organizer:
FYI - Chapters 6 and 7 are loaded with vocabulary related to ships and sailing.  I am not fluent in those terms myself, so I recommend finding a ship diagram online or in a book.  Your school librarian or media specialist might be able to help you with this.

Students are often surprised to find the story doesn't end the way they thought it would.  I like to extend the story and have my students write about one of the following:
Stuart's Next Adventure
Stuart Returns Home
Stuart Finds Margalo

For this activity, students complete one of the writing prompts and then complete a mouse craft to hold their writing.

You can find all of these resources and more in this Stuart Little Book Companion:

I hope you'll be able to use some of these resources in your own classroom.

Happy Reading!


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