The Little Linebacker (with a FREEBIE)

The Little Linebacker by Stephen Tulloch and Maria Dismondy tells the story of a young boy named Stephen who is determined to play football. Along the way Stephen faces challenges, but receives great advice to push through to reach his goal.

This is a great book to read with your students when teaching about the importance of a growth mindset. Today I want to share a little bit of a book companion I have created for this text. It includes comprehension activities, vocabulary cards, graphic organizers, a football player writing craft, and more!

Inside this book companion you will find comprehension questions to guide student discussion during and after reading the story. There are text-based questions along with open-ended questions that will get your students thinking on a deeper level.

Being able to retell or summarize a story is a very important skill for second and third graders. By focusing on story elements first, it helps students put the pieces of the story together before tackling the whole text. Students can practice identifying story elements with this spinner activity.

The theme of this story is determination. Throughout the story, Stephen faces many obstacles that stand in the way of accomplishing his goals. When faced with these challenges, Stephen receives advice from family and friends. These are perfect for classroom discussions! After talking about each piece of advice, students can write what they think the words mean. You can find this freebie here.

The text also includes a little information on the real Stephen Tulloch inside the back cover. Students can compare and contrast their own life to what Stephen has shared in this text.

If you've seen any of my picture book companions before, you know I love combining reading, writing, and art! I took the football theme and created some football player crafts. The players can hold a football that opens to reveal a writing booklet.

The football players can hold a piece of writing paper, too! 

Students can write in response to one of the comprehension questions, writing prompts, or a task that you choose. Because the templates can be printed on colored paper, students can create a look for their favorite NFL team or even have their football player represent their school.

You can learn more about this book companion for The Little Linebacker here.

Happy Reading!

3 Tips for Managing Hallway Behavior

Transitions do not always come easy for students. However, getting from point A to point B doesn't have to be a nightmare. Here are three quick tips to help improve hallway behavior.

 The most important thing you need to do is set your expectations. I love using acronyms with my students, so I played with the word LINE and came up with these expectations:

Once you have the expectations set, you need to practice, practice, practice! For the first few weeks of school, take some mini tours of your building. Not only will this help your students know where everything is, it gives them an authentic reason to practice their voice levels and behaviors.

During this practice time, I like to focus on individual students, so I implement Secret Star. I have a jar of sticks with all of my student names on them. I draw two sticks before we enter the hallway and keep these names a secret. As we transition, I focus on watching these two students. If they are on task and following expectations, they can earn a Starburst candy or classroom money when we return to the classroom. If the student doesn't follow the hallway expectations, I make an announcement like, "Unfortunately, my secret star didn't stay in their space and was touching the walls while we were walking. I hope my friend makes better choices next time." I never point out which student it was, instead I use the opportunity to remind the whole class about our hallway expectations.

While focusing on the individual is important, you should also remember your ultimate goal - to get the whole class on board with hallway behavior. At the beginning of the year, we set a classroom goal to earn compliments from other staff members for our behavior. I find that students are much more motivated when they can visually track their progress towards earning a reward, so we put our goals on display.

Finally, I want to leave you with a little teacher humor:

Happy Teaching!

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Black Glue Art Projects

I am LOVING all of the black glue art projects that have popped up in my Pinterest feed over the past few months. So I decided it was time to give these projects a try with my own kids at home. 

First, we had to gather the supplies:
- Elmer's glue (about 2/3 full)
- black acrylic paint
- white paper
- pencil
 - watercolor paints + water

So I took my used bottle of Elmer's glue, which was about 2/3 full at the time. I took the top off, poured a bunch of the black acrylic paint in it, put the lid back on, and shook it up.

This is what the glue looked like after shaking. It looks more gray than black. I suggest you test it out a little bit on a piece of scrap paper to make sure the glue is coming out black.

Next, it's time to pick your design. You can either sketch out a drawing with pencil, print out a design, or just freehand your picture. I recommend very simple designs for young children. Take your black glue and outline the picture. Once you're done, set them aside to dry. We made this a 2-day project and let the glue dry overnight.

When the glue is dry, it's time to grab your watercolor paints and get started.

The black glue will act as a border and keep most of the watercolors in place.

When you're finished, you can put them on display.

In addition to the apple, my daughter made this butterfly:

My son painted this fish:

I hope you'll give black glue a try with your students.
You can find even more ideas for arts and crafts on my Pinterest board:

Happy Teaching!

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The Jelly Donut Difference (FREEBIE)

I was recently introduced to the story The Jelly Donut Difference by Maria Dismondy, and it has quickly become one of my favorite character education books.

The story focuses on Leah and Dexter, a brother and sister who don't always get along, but eventually learn about kindness and generosity. You can even hear  Maria Dismondy read the story to your children here:

Today I want to share a little kindness with you. I have a little activity that I think your students will love: A Dozen Ways to Be Kind.

I'm going to show you three different ways you can use this with your students.

Option 1: File Folders
I started with a file folder. I cut out a section on the front that was 4"x 6" so the folder would resemble a donut box with a see-through window. I also cut a sheet protector into a 5"x 7" rectangle and taped that to the inside of the file folder to help create the illusion of a donut box window (you might be able to use saran wrap or just leave the window open, too.)

 From there, students can write a dozen ways to show kindness on the donuts inside the folder, decorate the donuts, and even decorate the outside of the file folder.  

Option 2: Paper Donut Box
For this option, I grabbed two sheets of brown paper. I used washi tape to hold the two pages together at the top to create a flap. Then I glued on the title cover.

On the inside, there's room to add two more parts. The top section is where students can write down a dozen ways to show kindness. The bottom has a dozen donuts that students can decorate any way they choose. When on display, the top flap can open and close. 
Note - you could also skip the lined paper option and have students write the acts of kindness on the donuts like you saw in option one.

Option 3: Modified Donut Box for Younger Students
This option is set up just like the one shown in option two, but focuses on half a dozen ways to be kind. This option uses just one sheet of cardstock (or construction paper) that has been folded in half.

Here's a sample page for the inside: 

Do you think your students would enjoy this activity? You can find the directions and templates here.

If you're looking for more activities for The Jelly Donut Difference, click here. You'll find comprehension questions, vocabulary cards, graphic organizers, and a donut craft that doubles as a response booklet.

Happy Reading!

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Setting Classroom Goals, Part 2

As you start another school year, I'm sure you have a million and one things planned to do with your students. One thing you should definitely take the time to do is set goals with your classroom. They really help set a purpose for ALL of your students and help with building classroom community. I've posted about how I set classroom goals with my students HERE.

After writing that post, I have received many questions and requests about the posters I used. Today I want to show you how you can use these posters to help your students track the progress made towards their classroom goals.

First of all, there are several options of goal sheets for you to choose from (and more will be added in the future). No matter the design, all of the goal sheets have the same header to keep a uniform look, but you can edit each page to fit the needs of your classroom and students. That's right - all pages are editable!

That means you can take a simple design with just a table, add your own clipart, and turn it into this:

Once posted in the classroom, students can help you color in one icon for each time they make progress towards their goal. By allowing students to participate in the process, they become more motivated to work together, thus building classroom community!

There are also pages with kid clipart already in place. You can edit the text, insert your own set of images (or table), and print.

All of the pages with kid clipart have a color and b/w version included. This means you can print these goal sheets on your favorite colors to make them POP! If your classroom chooses a goal that they will meet more than one time during the year, slide the goal sheet into a sheet protector or laminate. Students can color in the icons using dry erase marker. Once the goal is met, just wipe it clean and start again.

Another way you can track student progress is to let your students place stickers inside the grid boxes.

You can find all of these editable classroom goal sheets here. If you have any questions or requests for designs you'd like to see added to this file, feel free to email me or leave me a comment.

Happy Teaching!

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Crayon-Themed Picture Books

 The beginning of the school year is a busy time filled with teaching expectations and procedures. However, it is also a time to celebrate just how diverse and important each student is to your classroom!  Just like a box of crayons, each student plays an important role in the overall picture.  For this reason, I love to read The Crayon Box That Talked by Shane DeRolf.  But why stop there? Two books that pair well with this text are The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, and A Day With No Crayons by Elizabeth Rusch.
I want to share some activities you can use with these picture books in your classroom.

Since all of these picture books have a color crayon theme, a crayon craft is a must-have! This crayon craft is a trifold that doubles as a response booklet and it can be used with any of the three books previously mentioned.  After printing the crayon template onto various colors, you can pick from 5 different writing templates to glue to the inside of the craft.

The crayon craft can be used horizontally or vertically to fit your needs:

Here are just a few ideas of the ways you can use these crayons in class.

Reading Response
favorite part of each story
book reviews
compare/contrast two stories

Writing Prompt
Which color is the best?
How are crayons made?
invent a new crayon

I have included six discussion questions for each book. Some of the questions are text-based and others are more open-ended. These discussion questions can be used with the whole class, in a small group setting, or in student journals for written response practice.

 Two of the stories have crayons that either talk or speak by writing letters. Students can use these talking crayon templates to quote the crayons from the text, to write advice, or to even have a conversation between two crayons.

In The Day the Crayons Quit, the crayons write letters to Duncan to express their feelings.  Students can pretend to be Duncan and write friendly letters back to the crayons. These crayon labels can be added to your friendly letter anchor chart so students can make sure to include the five parts of a friendly letter.  There are also letter templates included for each color crayon mentioned in the text.

A Day with No Crayons is a great story for identifying cause & effect. I use a sentence frame to help guide my students:
Because _______, then ________.

Here's an example from the book:

Knowing that each class is different, I have included a few options for retelling the stories. These can be used with any of the picture books. You can pick and choose what will work best with your students.

I have also added a few colorful extras for your fast finishers! These include a word scramble, word search, ABC order, color mixing, and a color hunt.

You can find all of these resources and more here:

Happy Reading!

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