If you're looking for a fantastic way to integrate science, social studies, writing, and digital publishing, then TikaTok is your answer! TikaTok is a digital publishing platform that makes it fun and easy for students to showcase their research or subject area knowledge.

We're working on plants right now in science and we recently studied careers in social studies, so I combined the two to create a TikaTok project. Once I started to to use the site, I found it quite easy to navigate.

I chose the grade level and content area I wanted to focus on, and TikaTok gave me some suggested projects. You can see I also had the option to choose the exact Common Core writing standard I wanted to focus on.

I saw the Help Wanted template and decided it would be the perfect way to integrate our study of plants and careers. I found this extensive kid-friendly list  of careers in science that involved plants. Score!
So I started by doing an example for botanist.

I clicked on "view in editor" and was brought here. The words are already in the template, the kids just need to fill them in! I would suggest having the kids do their research and have a rough draft of what they are going to type for each section.

Then I was prompted to add a picture. This was one that was in the TikaTok gallery, but you also have the option to add your own graphic or even the student's own illustration.

To complete the book, I'll have each student choose a science career, illustrate it themselves, and create one page for the book.  So what happens next?

You can download a pdf proof copy of the book, and then if you're interested you can purchase a digital copy or hard or softcover book. Of course you're not going to purchase a copy for each student, but you can give parents the opportunity to do so. I'm going to purchase one hardcover copy of the class book and add it to our library. Other class books in my library are some of most read and well-worn, so this is a good investment in my eyes. 

You can also have each student write their own book, which parents might be more likely to purchase. This Help Wanted template is just one of many, many options. Be sure to look at the bottom of the TikaTok homepage for some really stellar student examples.

If you'd like to explore TikaTok a bit more, I have an exclusive coupon code for you! Just fill out the form here and use the code WEARETEACHERS instead of entering a payment. This will enable you to use the site for 90 days, but you need to activate your membership before June 30th.

If you have any other wonderings about TikaTok, be sure to see this comprehensive Q&A page.

Here's a great introductory video too.

So, what do you think about TikaTok? Leave a comment and let me know how you might use it to showcase your students' work. One lucky commenter will win a $15 Amazon gift card just for chiming in!

It hardly seems real, but it's true! No I'm not pregnant. I just realized it might sound like I was leading up to that! #biteyourtongue. No, there are only six weeks of school left! How in the world did that happen?

I guess it flew by because I've been super ridiculously blessed with an amazing principal, fantastic class, awesome team, parents that spoil the bejeezus out of me. You know, time flies when you're having fun and all.  I don't say that to make anyone jealous, Lord knows I've had years when six weeks felt like an eternity left to go. So whether you're lovin' life this year or secretly scratching countdown tally marks on the wall behind your desk, it's almost over!

I've been trying to plan ahead a bit because these six short weeks are jam packed with Rigby testing, conferences, our big parent event, report cards, celebrations, etc, etc, etc, you know the drill. So I've spruced up a few things and found a couple of freebies you might be able to use as we wind down.

First is the summer edition of Ready, Set, Print! I loved making this one - must be all the flip-flops and seashells. These are great for the last few days of school when you have eleventy-billion things to do while maintaining that rigorous academic focus right up until that last bell! {can you tell I've heard that speech a few times?} And you can prove it because, as always, Common Core standards for grades 1-3 are on each page. There are a lot more pages in the pack, but here's a sampling, you can see more in the preview HERE.

I've also finished up the June Writing Journal to go along with the task cards. This entire writing bundle for February to June has been updated to include the journals, by the way. This one for Back to School to January will be too, really really soon!

If you're not in school for too long in June, consider sending home this journal for your kids to use over the summer. I know some schools actually require work sent home over the summer, so this might fit the bill for you there too.

This next one is a long-standing favorite of mine. It's a literature companion unit for Last Day Blues. You can check out the book here if you don't know it. If you read First Day Jitters to start the year, you've GOT to close out with this gem. There's lots of fun stuff in this unit which will keep you rolling for a few days at least. You can find the unit HERE on tpt. Don't miss the freebie from the unit HERE.

And speaking of freebies, I hope you'll enjoy this one. My kids went bonkers over this last year and I'm excited to bust it out again soon. It would also be fun for a class party with a beach theme, or maybe even camp if you're working over the summer. You can snag it HERE.

And then there's my monthly freebie Bump Game, in both addition, multiplication and a blank board for you to do with as you please!

I've got some more summer stuff too, but I feel like I'm already on overload. But that's par for the course lately!

Someday soon I'll write about my Daily Five journey. It's been a bit of a rocky road for me. I let some of my rebellious personality get the better of me and I spent a good part of the year doing it MY way instead of the RIGHT way. It wasn't a total disaster and my kids certainly didn't suffer because if it, but ever since I let go of some of my fears and just took the last step, I've been kicking myself that I didn't do it sooner. But that's a post for another day. 

So now that I've been actually doing it, I've been looking for word work activities that fit the bill instead of the center activities I've been trying to incorporate into the rotations. Change is hard, dangit! I've figured out other ways to use my existing center activities (because I have a bajillion of them) but for now, for word work, I've been really focusing on real word work, spelling,  and phonics activities. 

So along with Boggle, I tried this "write it, write it, write it" activity this week. I really thought my kids would blow through this, but I was shocked that it took them just about the entire 20 minutes! Shocked, I tell ya!

Anytime they get to use a highlighter, they get excited. And this was the very first time EVER that I let them use a *gasp* PEN! They were in heaven! Once I saw how excited they were about using a pen, I gathered up all the fun, colorful pens I had and put them in the center for next time. It's amazing what a motivator pens and highlighters are to second graders. #whateverworks

Now the words that you see them writing are NOT their spelling words. I gave them the choice of using their spelling words or the challenge words we have on the iphones. Those challenge words are practice for the big spelling bee they can take part in next year. My kids are a little obsessed with learning the "hard" words, so who am I to stop them? The iphone template is a freebie from Traci at Dragonflies in First and you can grab them here.
This is a simple little page, but it really was a big hit with my kids. 
If you'd like a copy, just click HERE.
So on my quest to stock my word work center I came across some great task cards. And they were mine! ha! I made these two summers ago and they got some use last year, but for some reason they never made it out of the archives this year. I plan on putting the cards and the supplies out for just 2 or 3 at a time. My kids are still getting used to working individually within a group, so having plenty of options is crucial. Click HERE to check them out on tpt.  The entire set of 52 task cards is just $3.75 and each card has detailed kid-friendly directions and an example of exactly what it should look like.

Have a great weekend, my friends and Happy Easter to all those celebrating!
I've used Boggle in the classroom before, but it was mostly as an extra thing they could do if they finished early. But there's so much real learning potential in the game, that I recently switched it up to make it a bit more meaningful word work activity. Instead of putting up the letters on a Boggle Board on the wall, I made a printable that has the letters already in the board.

For one day's rotation of Daily Five, I just positioned myself at the Word work table so I could meet with each group as they tried Boggle as a part of word work. It was a good thing that I did that because a lot of the kids never really had the "extra" time before to do it and many of them didn't really understand the different ways they could use the board.

Now, I'm a bonafide word-nerd, so I grew up playing Boggle, but just in case you didn't and your kids aren't sure either - here are some tips. Words can be made by going across, up, down and diagonal, much like a word search. However, discourage your kids from actually drawing lines on the Boggle board because it gets all scribbled on fast and they need to use the same letters over and over in different variations.

Here you can see the simple words gas and with that were made just by reading across the line. In the second example, you can see how things get a little more tricky when they move around the board in more interesting ways.

So to get my kids to come up with better words than the most obvious, I started to give them clues.

For example, I saw the word gash. So first I said, "I see a word that means a deep cut".  In one group, one kid got it right away. In the other groups I needed to give some more clues. So I went on, "It starts with a G". Then clarified "It's the G in top row".  Someone in most of the groups got it by then, but I had to keep going for some. So I tried, "It rhymes with bash". I had one group who still couldn't get it and when I revealed the word, it turned out that they just didn't know the word. I made a big deal about how awesome it was that we learned a new word today!

For another word, I gave clues that went something like this:
1. It's a part of your body.
2. It's in the middle of your body.
3. It's the place where you wear a belt.
Most of them got waist at that point. So then I said, "Now, find a homophone for waist" because conveniently waste could also be made from the same w. 

We did this for a few words each time. For guest, I told them to look for a word the describes people who come over to your house. Then gave them a few more clues like, "it rhymes with best", etc. When they got guest, I asked them if they could make it plural to get an even bigger score - and what do you know? They could! Amazing how that happened ;0)

So with one little round of Boggle we practiced spelling, vocabulary, rhyming words, homophones, plurals, and more. Not too shabby! Plus it really renewed their interest in the game and they're begging me for it again. I took some care when making the board to be sure that there were some good words to find and use as a teaching opportunity.

You'll notice on the sheet I added a scoring section. This adds a nice little math component. Some started to write the number of points next to each word to make it easier to count when they were done. I offered the high score a free number on our class bingo chart as a reward. The seemed pretty stoked about that!

If you want a copy of the board, just click HERE to grab it from Dropbox. 
*Edited to add: After several requests, I made an entire set of printable boggle games which you can find HERE!

Let me know what you think!

It's no secret I'm all about brain breaks. We have a great schedule for instruction, but not so great for little energetic bodies who need to move. A lot. We are in our room from 7:50-11:00, then we have lunch, back to the room until specials at 12:50, then after that we finally go to recess. Yes, that would be a whole whopping 15 minutes of recess right before they go home! So you can see that brain breaks are kind of a necessity in our parts.

I've been mainly using YouTube clips, which can really be hit or miss. Sometimes the video and sound are great quality, sometimes not so much. So when I heard some buzz about GoNoodle on Instagram and Facebook, I had to give it a try. And it's fantastic! And free! 

Once you register your class,  which takes just a minute, you can pick a champ. Then he shows up every time you sign in. He's a silly stinker. The kids get a kick out of his little words of wisdom.

Each time you complete a brain break, your champ-o-meter fills up a bit more (I totally just made that up, I'm not exactly sure what the meter is called). I don't want to ruin it for you, but big changes are in store for your champ the more you boogie.

Look at the impressive choice of videos. And this isn't even all of them!

I'm sure your kids will quickly develop their own favorites. Here are my little rockstars jammin out to their favorite boogie!

Sometimes the kids are amped up and you need to bring them back down a bit. GoNoodle has you covered there too. They've got a whole section of "calming" videos. See anything they might like? Maybe a little sing-a-long to everyone's favorite frozen friend?

There's lots more to explore. I just love that all of the brain breaks are in one safe place. I don't have to worry about weird ads popping up on YouTube or showing up in the sidebar. The videos are high quality, fun, and loved by the kids. It's fun and free. Can't beat that right? Click HERE to sign up and start enjoying GoNoodle!
Hello my friends! Just popping in today to share the latest update to my April Printable Pack. Lots of you have this one (Thank you Thank you Thank you!!!) so I want to be sure you have all the new goodies. So, the first big change is the cover. I remember when I made it originally I thought the cover was so stinkin' good - it's amazing how much I keep learning along the way.

The title is also a big catchier, so be sure to look for April's Ready, Set, Print if you try to download it from your purchases to get the updated version. Click here to see it in my tpt store.

I've added quite a few things since last year. First is this cute comic strip that the kids can caption. Great for those reluctant writers! There's some new phonics and spelling practice with choosing ight or ite, and some synonym work. There's also a count and graph page. My kids love those! As always,  the applicable Common Core State Standards for grades 1-3 are printed right on the page.

I've also included everything you need for a great spring bulletin board. You'll find the words "Kites from Cool Countries!" in those blue polka-dotted letters ready to print, cut, and hang. My kids are working on the country report now, but I'll post a pic when they're done. Just print the words and cut around them in one piece. Send home the report form and BOOM - done!

We can't forget Earth Day on April 22nd. Even if you don't have time in your regular curriculum you can squeeze in a little something for homework, morning work, or your sub plans or a quickie word work center activity.

My kids need a lot of pre-writing activities and discussion before we actually write something we want to publish and display or add to our portfolios. In this pack you have a great pre-writing planning page that you can discuss together and even have kids work together to complete before writing their first draft. I've also included a page that they can use to proudly publish their work.

These are the rest of the original printables from the pack. Everything is seasonal for April, but I did stay away from dwelling strictly on Easter or Passover, because I know that in many schools we keep things kind of generic so that we don't seem to favor or alienate any certain culture or religion.

The calendar page has been updated to include accurate dates for this year. I work with the calendar a lot and it's amazing how some kids still get tripped up on this one. No worries, we'll just keep practicing! The Egg Hunt page is great practice with carefully reading and following directions. Then there's some problem solving with money and addition and subtraction with larger numbers.

And there's no way I can finish this post without sharing this awesomeness. We gave the kids the Math Chicks page as homework and look how this one came back!!  I was blown away by his creativity. So much detail, right down to the little curl on Superman's forehead!

This entire pack of April goodies including the bulletin board set, all of the CCSS aligned printables that you can use in so many different ways  and answer keys costs about as much as a trip to Starbucks. Not a bad deal, right?

I always love math this time of year. When we move into measurement, we get to do a lot of real hands on, moving around the room, projects and game type stuff. Of course we do that with other math units, but it seems even more so with measurement.

I'm always surprised how little experience my kids have using rulers to actually measure instead of drawing straight lines. We start with the standard speech about how rulers are tools for measurement and not little helicopter blades for your pencil, not little smacky weapons, not used to make annoying tapping sounds that drive your teacher crazy, etc...

After we're good with all that, we start to measure. We measure everything. We talk about inches and feet and they always pick that up pretty quick. To help them determine when to measure in inches and when to use feet, we play the Inch or Foot measuring game.

I like to group the kids in threes. One reads the cards and checks the answer while the other two play. Once a winner is chosen, they play again and the caller can play.  I found that I have a lot of games that call for the kids to have 10 of one color cube. I put them in these clear pencil cases from Dollar Tree so the kids can just grab one and not spend a ton of time counting out ten of one color from the big box.

Click on the picture below to download the game for freezies.

Then it's time for my favorite math project:

I've blogged about this one before. Check out this post for specific directions. You can get the patterns and printables in that post, or just click here.

We used our yard to measure alllll kinds of stuff. I didn't like what was in the book, so I made a little sheet for us to record some long things. We measured the length and width of the room:

We measured the carpet:

The door frame:

Their teacher:

Then we took on the task of measuring the entire hallway! We got our friends from next door to help us. Can you even handle the cuteness of these kids?? Those two girls at the front of the line are like that all.day.long. Just silly and excited and adorable...

At the end of the hallway, we had a great chance to estimate how many more feet it would take to fill the blank space. They were pretty much spot on!

We recorded all of our measurements on this little sheet I whipped up.

When we were using our diy yardsticks to measure, we only listed the yard measurements. Then when we went back to our seats we tried to figure out the equivalent measurements. They did a great job with the smaller numbers. They got the concept and could easily figure that 2 yards equal 6 feet which equals 72 inches. Some of my higher kids really enjoyed the challenge of figuring out the rest of them, but after a few minutes we pulled up the online calculator to finish them together.  Click here to download the sheet  we used to record our measurements.

I have a couple of other things you might like for measurement. You can see more by clicking on the images below:

TGIF, my friends! T.G.I.F.

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