How Santa Lost His Job (Opinion Writing and Craft)

Can you imagine what would happen if Santa lost his job? Stephen Krensky has done just that with How Santa Lost His Job. I want to share an opinion writing activity and craft you can use with your students after reading this book.

In the story, there is always a last-minute rush before Christmas. An elf named Muckle takes it upon himself to find a replacement for Santa and creates the Deliverator. The other elves want proof that this machine will make Christmas more efficient, so they create a series of challenges to determine who will deliver the toys on Christmas.

The story lends itself to opinion writing, so I set our reading focus on identifying the reasons why Santa is better than the Deliverator. Before reading, I set up a Cookies for Santa anchor chart.

As we read and identify the reasons Santa is better than the Deliverator, we record the reasons inside the cookies on the plate. I should mention that I also allow students to use their schema and connections with other texts to provide reasons.

After brainstorming as a class, it's time to put our opinions into writing. Students choose their reasons from our anchor chart and I provide a sheet of sentence starters that help with opinion writing. When the writing is done, students get to add a Santa craft to the finished product.

You can find all of these activities, plus vocabulary and comprehension questions in this book companion:

You might also enjoy How Santa Got His Job. You can find an anchor chart idea for this book here.

Don't forget....for the month of December, you can buy both book companions and save!

Happy Reading!

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How Santa Got His Job (Anchor Chart Freebie)

Do you know how Santa got his job? Stephen Krensky does and he shares the details in his story, How Santa Got His Job. After reading the story, I talk to my students about the qualities that make Santa the right person for the job. Now you can do the same and create an anchor chart to use with your students.

The first thing you'll want to do is get your anchor chart set up. You'll need to print out the title letters and ornaments. You can find these here. After gluing the title to the top of the paper, you'll need to draw and color in a Christmas tree to fill the rest of the space.

After reading the story and discussing all of the qualities that make Santa the right person for the job, give each student an ornament paper. Once responses have been recorded, students can cut out the ornament shape and attach it to the tree.

Students always love to see their ideas on display!

I have also included a printable graphic organizer that can be used in place of the anchor chart. 

If you're looking to spend more time with this story, you might enjoy this book companion. It has comprehension and vocabulary activities along with a sequencing activity and two directed drawings.

This book companion is also part of a limited time Christmas Special in my TpT store:

Tomorrow I'll be back to share more about How Santa Lost His Job.

Happy Reading!

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Four Ways to Use Sheet Protectors in the Classroom

One of the supplies I always have on hand in the classroom is sheet protectors. They are durable, affordable, versatile, and easy to use which is a win-win situation in my book. Here are four ways I have used them in my classroom.

Sheet protectors are the perfect way to provide repeated practice for students while keeping your copy numbers low. If you use cardstock paper or place papers back-to-back, the sheet protector becomes more durable. I rarely have to replace them during the school year! I often put math games and spelling worksheets inside.

 Sheet protectors are an easy way to put posters on display that can easily be changed out all year long. Once they are attached to a bulletin board or wall, you can insert your classroom goals, student art work, inspirational quotes, reading skills for a focus wall, and more! You can even insert your classroom store poster where the date can be changed on a regular basis.

When I started teaching in the primary grades, I began collecting work samples throughout the year to be placed in a portfolio. This was a binder filled with student work that demonstrated growth throughout the school year along with photos to remember special events and activities. Sheet protectors were the easiest way to add student photos, bulky projects, and art pieces to the binder without punching holes through them.

I have been fortunate to work in a school where whiteboards are provided for every student to use. If you don't have whiteboards and need an inexpensive way to make a class set quickly, you should definitely look into sheet protectors. By inserting cardstock paper, you can instantly create a 2-sided work space for students. These are also smaller and quieter than whiteboards!

You can find sheet protectors in just about any store that sells school or office supplies. I've tried several brands, but I keep coming back for these ones.
Avery Premium Heavyweight Sheet Protectors

What are your favorite ways to use sheet protectors in the classroom?

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The Great Turkey Race by Steve Metzger

If you're looking for an entertaining book to read to your students before Thanksgiving, you need to check out The Great Turkey Race by Steve Metzger! This story focuses on three turkeys who hear that Farmer Joe is looking for a special Thanksgiving turkey. The turkeys each want to prove that they should be picked, so they organize a series of contests and games to pick the winner. Will it be a happy Thanksgiving for everyone?

This was always a favorite November read aloud in my second grade classroom and today I want to share a few activities that go along with the book.

Before reading, I like to introduce some vocabulary words my students will hear. Then we dive right into the story. As we come across a vocabulary word, we use the context clues and discuss the meaning of the words.
Later in the week I check for understanding with a vocabulary matching activity.

After our first read of the story, we discuss the story elements and record them on a graphic organizer. Then we usually glue these pages into our reading response journals which become a yearlong record of our reading activities.

After a second read, we dive a bit deeper into comprehension and use questions to guide our understanding of the text. Some of the questions are text-based and some are more open-ended and allow for more classroom discussions. Sometimes I will have students answer the questions in written form if we have time.

To incorporate writing and art with the text, I like to do a directed drawing of a turkey and then let them choose a written response. I have included several writing prompt cards, but students could also use one of the comprehension questions, too.

You can find all of the activities mentioned above and more in this book companion

P.S. - If you don't have a copy of the book, you might enjoy this video:

Happy Reading!

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Creepy Carrots Retelling Activity

If you're planning to read Creepy Carrots to your students this year, you'll want to check out this activity for retelling the story!

For this activity, you will need a copy of the book Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds. If you aren't familiar with the story, here's the scoop:
Jasper Rabbit loves carrots. And he can take the fattest, crispiest carrots from the Crackenhopper Field anytime he wants. That is, until they start following him home...

After printing out all of the templates on the suggested colors, have your students cut out the pieces they will need.

Glue the eyes above the mouth and the stem behind the top of the carrot. There are three options for the eyes to give the carrots different expressions. If your students want to add more details, they can cut out black rectangles for eyebrows and white squares for teeth.

Now it's time to make a little garden pocket for your carrots. Take a piece of brown construction paper or cardstock and fold it in half hamburger style. Staple (or tape) the sides so the opening is at the top. Glue the Creepy Carrots title onto the front of the pocket. Insert the carrots into the pocket so the stems are sticking out the top. 

After reading the story and practicing the retell orally several times, students are ready to put their retell in writing. As students pull out each carrot, they can write each part of the retell on the back of the carrot. Then students can partner up and practice retelling the story using their carrot craft!

You will also find templates for retelling using a Beginning-Middle-End format as well as graphic organizers that are perfect for practicing the retell whole group before beginning the craft.

You can find all of these resources in this FREE mini book companion.

If you liked this craft, you might enjoy these picture book packs.

Happy Reading!
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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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