Eat a Book | Book Tastings

Sunday, December 20, 2020
Back in the day....waayyy back circa 2003ish we would do rotations among our first grade team that we called EAT A BOOK.  Sounds a little crazy right!?!?  Well think of today's version of book tastings and it's kinda similar but with a twist.  Who knew we pioneered this idea back in the day. 😜  Well I think the book tastings that are done today are more in depth and done in one classroom ~ think of ours like a speed dating version of one. πŸ˜‚

book tasting ideas

We would decide which teacher would take which story at one of our grade level meetings   ( before we called them PLC's ) and then we would plan a snack and activity based on the story.  We would read the story x amount of times ( let's say we had 5 first grade classes ) so 5 times and prepare enough snacks and activities for 5 classes to rotate through our room.

At the end of the day our students would be exposed to some awesome children's books and have a full tummy and fun memories. ** FYI:  I do remember we did account for allergies as needed and made adjustments for those kids. **

Here are some of the fun snacks and ideas we had over the years and I've added some that I thought of more recently too:

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie:  do a circle story activity and eat  small bite sized chocolate chip cookies

Blueberries for Sal:  eat some blueberries and work on the reflection page.

If you Give a Pig a Pancake:  eat tiny pancakes - can provide whip cream if you like 

Dog a Donut - mini donuts

The Doorbell Rang ~ chocolate chip cookies

 If you Give a Moose a Muffin ~ mini muffins

 Chocolatina ~ Hershey Kisses 

The Carrot Seed ~ mini carrot sticks

 Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs ~ mini meatballs or any item from the story ~ lots of options with this story of course.

 Bread and Jam for Frances – toast or bread and jam , melba toast pieces if that makes it easier.

The Giving Tree ~ apple slices 

Piggy Pie – mini hot dogs

The Very Hungry Caterpillar – anything from the story 

Pancakes, Pancakes – pancakes of course

The Rainbow Fish - Goldfish crackers

We had just enough time to read the story /discuss and eat a snack, I think we also sent home a little something to go with our session, a bookmark, or quick art project/activity we were able to squeeze in as well.

If you want to try this version of a book tasting you can find out more here.

book tasting activities pack

Enjoy ~ I hope you are able to incorporate this idea!


Sight Word Games and Activities for the Holidays

Wednesday, December 9, 2020
The holidays are just around the corner and I've been teaching virtually since March.  Whether you are virtual or in person I have a few games that will keep your students engaged and asking for more when it comes to practicing sight words. 

holiday games and activities to use with sight words

No more BORING flash cards....ugh!  We live in a day and age of BOOM Cards, Interactive Google Slides and even good old fashioned games from when I was a kid.

We have played plenty of online digital games regarding building our sight word fluency and recognition.  In fact, here are few you might love:

digital sight word game

I have several more like this in my store:  some google slide activities, some powerpoint games and more.

But tomorrow we are going OLD SCHOOL and playing a matching game under the doc cam.  I also updated my December sensory bin so next week we will be Digging for Sight Words.  Kids are looking forward to Winter Break and I want to keep them  engaged up until the last day/minute/second.  Let's be honest, most of the kids I service are at least a year behind grade level ( especially with COVID and not having the support of in person learning ) so...if I can keep them learning ( and sneaking in fun ) up until  the final hour...well sign me up!

Here are some pics of our activites we will  be doing:

A matching game can EASILY be played under your doc cam if you are virtual or in person ( maybe save for later if you are in person - due to 6 ft restrictions and not sitting together at the reading table etc. )

Sight Word Matching Game

How it looks on ZOOM to my students:

sight word matching game

I hope these are just some reminders that you aren't as limited as you think  when it comes to virtual teaching!  There's A LOT you can still do that you did in the classroom - just transfer it to ZOOM.  The kids will respond the same and still enjoy it and ask to play again and again!

Another activity that I have found great success with on line is a sensory bin...YEP you heard me right - don't look at me funny! 😜
You can put the sensory bin under the doc cam and pick words out and call on kids to say them aloud or say them together as they are pulled.  Of course it doesn't have the same effect, but they still get a kick out of it and I think it makes them feel a little 'normal' since they are familiar with sensory bins.

Holiday sight word sensory bin

TEACHER HACK:  If you can't find any cute tongs ~ like the ones I have been trying to find at HOBBY LOBBY that look like cute can  tape an image on them (  like the reindeer clipart below ) I also have a winter kid taped on one from last year with my snowflake sensory bin.

Christmas Sensory Bin

If you want ideas on what you can fill your sensory bins with - I have an entire blog post dedicated to that here to get your creative juices flowing.


Thank you sign for Delivery Drivers

Monday, December 7, 2020
COVID has made our year anything but normal, I think we can all agree on that.  One thing I have done more of this year for sure is online shopping! πŸ›’πŸ›
 I have to admit, although I miss the massive Christmas trees filling the malls and the sounds of Christmas music blaring through the speakers πŸŽ„πŸŽ… - I have enjoyed the quietness of perusing online shops from behind my computer screen. πŸ’»

Delivery Driver thank you note for porch

The hustle and bustle of dodging crowds and looking for the all elusive parking spot has been replaced with a blanket across my legs and scrolling through online shops in the warmth of my own home.  🏑

With that being said, I wanted to be sure and thank the delivery drivers bringing me all the goods.  Usually while shopping during the holiday season I make sure to STOP , look the cashier in the eye and with a warm smile thank them for helping me.  I get it, they're tired - working long shifts with some  ( not so nice customers ) at times.  πŸ˜΄πŸ›Œ

I spent most of my life prior to teaching in the pool - competing, lifeguarding,  teaching swim lessons...however, I did spend a year in retail while I was getting my teaching credential.  Let's just say I didn't love it. πŸ‘Ž

Since, I'm unable to give a smile and some kind words to the hard working retail employees in our current state of lockdowns here in So. Cal, I want to show my appreciation for the delivery drivers dropping off our packages.  🎁🎁

This of course is not a new idea, I've seen it on Pinterest for years and it always warmed my heart knowing this idea has gone viral.  We could all use a little more kindness and a little less harshness right!?!?

So, the idea behind this that ended up going viral a few years ago is to just show your appreciation by leaving some goodies, beverages and a note of appreciation.  If you've had the opportunity to see some of the video responses from the drivers they have been heart warming as well.  Some dancing, singing, thanking the home owners via Ring, it's been awesome!  It just shows what a small act of kindness can do to brighten someone's day! 🌞

delivery driver appreciation note

If you'd like a copy of a note to leave with your goodie basket - you can grab it here.

delivery driver thank you note

If you end up using this, take a picture and share the love so others will join in and bless our hard working drivers.  

Be blessed my friends,


Holiday Ideas for the Classroom

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

holiday ideas for the classroom

Happy hump day friends.... welcome to another edition of...

The holidays are such a magical time of year.  Even if our holiday celebrations look different within our classroom there's no denying the whismy of the bright lights on people's homes and the songs we hear.  For some reason, the month of December has phenomenal feeling about it.

Addressing holidays around the world and offering a special share time for your students in December has always been a highlight.  I love hearing how different students celebrate the holidays and what their family traditions are within their home.  It's always so enlightening to hear and ask about how student's celebrate and what they celebrate.  

One of our favorite crafts in December is my snowman holiday countdown.  I love it because it lends itself to celebrating any holiday or just the countdown to winter break.  Kids love holidays and a break from school usually so why not count down each day?!

You can find this adorable countdown here.

countdown to christmas craft

Another favorite in this month is an extension from a classic folktale:  The Gingerbread Man.  Encouraging retelling of the story is easy with these engaging crafts.  The kids run home to 'retell' the story to their family/loved ones.  

You can grab this fun pack here.

Gingerbread Man Unit

Also, I have a separate retell craft that is fun for kiddos to use as a retell as well, this one only has pictures rather than a space for writing so it's perfect for TK and Kindergarten.

This sweet retell craft is available here.

The Gingerbread Man retell craft

Another favorite for the holidays is reading The Snowy Day - you can culminate the unit by having a snowball fight with plush snowballs.  I got mine at The Dollar Spot at Target.

If you are interested in this fun SNOWY DAY pack - grab it here.

The Snowy Day craft and ideas

I also like to keep their behavior in check during the month of December ~~ there is always such excitement for the upcoming holidays/vacation.  This has been super helpful for that.  Grab a seasonal chair back cover at the Dollar Tree, Santa hat is perfect for December.  Move it around all day for kids that are on task, engaged, being extra kind, etc.  At the end of the day whoever still has it on the back of their chair gets a ticket, prize, etc.  They LOVE this and if I forget to move it they tell me. LOL

Classroom behavior hack

This is just a sweet gift I love to give my students.  It's truly the gift of love and appreciation.  Your class is an extension of your family and I promise they feel the same way about you.  This is just a sweet way to let them know you love them and it won't cost you a thing..even better right!?!?!

Classroom community in December

I hope you can use some of these ideas either this month or stash them away for upcoming years.  Bookmark this page and you'll always be able to find this post when you need it.  Take care, stay healthy and....

happy teaching!



Writing Mats

Thursday, November 19, 2020
Are your students needing scaffolding to keep them on track with their writing?  I know sometimes my first and second graders and even third graders that were struggling needed some extra visual support.

Welcome to another edition of ...

Keeping your students focused and on track whether you are on line or in person can be daunting.  Especially, with growing class sizes and less one on one time for conferencing.  I've found that my math mats were a perfect solution for my students that needed extra support when I couldn't be right next to them.  So, I thought why not transfer that to writing too?!?

These writing mats are for each of the writing genres that they have to master...narrative, expository and opinion as well as a general writer's checklist.
Your students will move the bead along their mat as they complete each task. 
 Sometimes just doing that keeps them focused  enough to complete their writing.  Let's face it ~ writing is a struggle for kids and throw in teaching it from behind a computer screen and it's become that much more difficult.

writers checklist mat slider

This is the generic writer's checklist that they can use to check their writing and be sure they are following some basic rules to make them successful.

I've also included Opinion, Expository and Narrative writing slider mats to provide that extra scaffolding for them as well.

opinion writing slider mats

expository writing mat slider

narrative writing slider mat

writer's mat sliders

I hope these come in handy in person or online.  If you are still online and send home bags periodically for your students this would be the perfect addition.  It would not only give the support your students need but also a great visual for the parents that may not know how to go about teaching or supporting their child in writing.

Grab them here!

Swing on over to Instagram and let me know how they worked for you!  


Click and Reveal Product Series

Wednesday, November 11, 2020
Let's face need engaging activities now more than ever!  
If you've been following me for a while you know how I feel about technology....and too much of it.  I am such an advocate for hands on, less screen time and being outside...however that's pretty difficult to do in the middle of a pandemic so...

Welcome to another edition of...

I want to share some engaging games that I've been using in my small group time that I've found to be fruitful.  I have started a new product series called CLICK and REVEAL.
The kids are squealing with delight while playing this game and very actively engaged.

It's a powerpoint game that can use basically any skill.  Mine are mostly literacy based as that is my job right now.  I have a heavy focus on sight words for my games, but you can use them for math or other skills easily.

powerpoint phonics game distant learning

So you can share your screen if you are virtual or put in on your smartboard if you are in person.  Call on a student to read a word and have them touch the turkey - if nothing is behind the turkey keep going until a student comes across the 'hidden' image - in this case a pumpkin.  The pumpkin and acorn you see in the corner can be moved behind a turkey of your choice.  You can change it and move it behind another turkey, use a new slide with new words, etc.  

As you can see I've made it editable so you can even incorporate math skills or vocabulary , etc.  The options are endless!

powerpoint phonics game distant learning

If you are interested in adding this fun game to your collection you can grab it here:  also keep your eye out because this will grow into a product series and I'll include them for holidays/ seasons.  Perfect to play for a class party ( are we ever going to be able to have those again?! ) 😒  They are great to use on a Fun Friday - to include a fun but still academic activity for them to do.

Happy teaching - stay safe out there!



Teaching Open and Closed Syllables

Tuesday, November 3, 2020
Open and closed syllables is a very important foundational skill for reading multisyllabic words.  This really is the next big step for readers in their decoding journey once they have mastered letters/sounds/phoneme isolation, manipulation etc. 

Having this skill in their tool box helps them break down words into more manageable chunks as they are decoding larger words.  

open closed syllables

Let's take a closer look at the differences between open and closed syllables and how best to teach it to our students.

There are some really good videos on you tube that are a great place to start:


I had this idea of showing them an open and closed door as a visual...I was lucky enough to find one on Amazon that worked perfectly for this lesson.  I think these have been used as 'fairy' doors possibly.  But, it's super cute and a working door to get my point across.

So on a white board you can write words like:


Have your students say these words and remind them that they said a long vowel word at the end.  I do this like the picture above - with the door open to show them they are an open syllable and have a long vowel sound.

Then as you can see from the picture I add a consonant and close the door...this is on a small sentence strip cut up or index card so I can use different consonants to get my point across and create new words.  

I have taught this  skill for years and I think my students are finally starting to get it ( and much faster ) with this visual!  

If you want to try it out you can  find the cute door here: 
affiliate link

So, let me know if you use this idea I'd love to hear all about it ~ you can find me on instagram or fb by clicking the icons at the top of my blog.
Happy teaching!



Lightsaber pointer for reading

Saturday, October 31, 2020
My students are going NUTSO for these and we aren't even in person!  I'm just getting my early readers to focus on the text and work on one to one correspondence so they are seeing them under the doc camera.

Per your DM's and requests:

It's hard to even call this a tutorial ....seriously it's so easy however I've had more DM's on instagram about this so I thought I would just cover it here to make my life easy.

So, here you go....

lightsaber pointer tutorial for reading

As you can  see you just need the supplies listed above ( which you probably already have in your classroom or at home )

If not you can grab them here:
( affliliate links )

electrical tape:

pipe cleaner in bulk - cuz why not?!?! :

lightsaber pointers

lightsaber tutorial are all set!  You can easily and quickly and more importantly CHEAPLY make a class set of lightsabers for your students.  So much fun!  It would even make a fun gift for them for the holidays.

Have fun with it and visit  me over on Instagram and tell me all about your students reaction to them!
As always...

happy teaching!



Fine Motor Skill Practice

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

My kids are in college now....but oh, those baby, toddler, preschool years. πŸ₯°πŸ˜ #givemeallthefeels

Some of my best memories in life have been raising these kids, building forts, helping them run for student council, cheer at their sports/academic events, taking walks, library hour you name it.  

My mom having been an educator for 30 + years was soo great with my kids when they were toddlers when she watched them.  Rarely did they ever leave her house without participating in a craft, fun read aloud or amazing toddler activity!  They threaded buttons, ate green eggs and ham, made me mother's day gifts, wrote in shaving cream, etc.

I guess that's where I get my love for these types of activities for kids!  Making learning fun without them knowing they are 'learning' is always a winning combination!

Now that I'm old πŸ‘΅ I have GREAT nieces and nephews!  YEP ~ I'm a great aunt many times over.  I have 3 big brothers and my oldest brother is 13 years older than me so you can imagine the large family I come from...such fun!

I was thinking about these cuties and wanted to send them a little something that I know would build their hand eye coordination as well as their fine motor skills.  

Toddlers need lots of repetition practicing these all important skills.  These skills will eventually help with left to right tracking for reading, tying their shoes, using their pincher grip for different activities, etc.

You can either just purchase felt pieces at your local craft store and cut pieces can use your cricut or you can purchase precut felt pieces if you don't trust your freehand skills.

So, I built these 'build a boxes'.  I've included items through December and will probably make more and add it to their Christmas gift so they have build it activities for the entire year!  I have the visual cards there for each object they are building so they can follow picture directions too.

fine motor skill boxes for kids

Try it out, I'd love to hear how your kids liked it.


Candy Corn Fun in small groups and MORE

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

I love Fall, all the things EXCEPT pumpkin spice!  #notafan ☕

However pumpkin decorations, sweaters, boots, changing leaves and all the other things I'm down for and LOVE! πŸ‚πŸπŸŽƒπŸ‘»πŸ‘’

Welcome to another edition of...

I also love incorporating seasonal things into my teaching - whether it be in a sensory bin or as math manipulates...just more things to make learning fun for kids! πŸ’•

Here is a round up of fun ideas you can use this month:

This activity is PERFECT for your early readers...having them use elkonin boxes is a great activity to be sure they are hearing every phoneme.  If you are new to elkonin boxes they are used to build phonological awareness.  Your student will listen for each sound ( phoneme ) and move a token/manipulative etc. into each box for each sound.  These can become increasingly more difficult and differentiated as your student grows as a reader.  Eventually they will use one sound box for 2 letters like the /ck/ sound etc.

elkonin sound boxes

We work on CVC words A LOT in small groups!  I have thrown cards into sensory bins, finger spelled them, played games with them and more.  Here I just printed out a candy corn piece to use for the missing vowel either for CVC work or magic e.  You can also use a wreath at Christmas ( put the letter in the middle ), a snowman, easter egg, etc.  Lots of options.  This orginial idea ( with a ghost )  was from my amazing friend Sarah @ sarahssnippets.

cvc word work and magic e

This next pic is an old favorite that I've done in October for probably over 15 years.  It's an oldie but a goodie!  Kids love coming up with adjectives to fill in this candy corn and then we display it like an anchor chart.  

You can read more about it here

For more fun October ideas~~ just go up to my search bar here on my blog and type in October and some of my favorite pumpkin/october activities will pop right up.

Enjoy this fun month which has TONS of opportunities to make learning fun for your kiddos!

Happy teaching!


The importance of one to one correspondence

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Welcome to another edition of...

Tracking words for young, emergent readers is crucial to their inital growth in reading.  Research shows that having a clear understanding of concepts of print is a critical step for these readers. 

Things like understanding words and spaces between words, tracking left to right, understanding how to open a book and where to start are all foundational skills young readers need. 

If these skills are absent early readers often have a very difficult time transitioning from 'pretend reading' to advanced 'finger pointing' reading.  They start to understand that spoken language correlates to written language and the symbols relate to sounds, etc.  They need to make the connection that print guides the speech of the reader. 

There are many ways to help your early readers tackle this important skill and many of them are engaging and 'fun' for kids to experiment with and improve upon.

One simple way is to go on a concepts of print HUNT.  Have your kids in small group use magnifying glasses and search for the TITLE, SPINE, COVER, BACK of the BOOK, AUTHOR, TITLE PAGE, etc.

I've also found that kids LOVE to use pointers when they read...not all reading theorists support pointers while reading but after 25 years in education teaching reading I've found success with them.

There are ALL different kinds of tools you can use as finger pointers to build their one to one correspondence skills:

Some are:

There are sooo many options, you can turn a tongue depressor into virtually anything!  I've decorated them with buttons and a ribbon scarf and made them snowmen, you can add glitter to the end and make it a wand.  

You can buy cocktail stirrers on  Amazon...shh!  Don't tell the kids. LOL  I tell them they are coffee stirrers.  I have a cute reindeer one the kids fight over like that I use in December from a fancy adult cocktail out at dinner one night.

 πŸŽ…πŸ€ΆπŸŽ„ Aff Link:

reading wands

 πŸŒŸ⭐You can find them here with my affiliate link:

 πŸ©πŸ© Here is this link:  #affiliate

These are great, glitter wands that come in different color choices:  aff link:

One of my favorite things to do with the magnifying glass pipe cleaner is to have them after reading a page find sight words in the text.  Older kids like it too - I may ask them to show me from who's point of view the story is or to find a vocabulary word in non fiction  many options.

These fun light sabers ( seen in the list above ☝ ) were born after a child requested easy - pipe cleaner and black tape.

When you have your students point to the words that they are reading they start to recognize miscues more...if they are adding and/or omitting words the pointers make that mistake stick out more and they are more apt to 'fix it'.

I hope this short list of ideas was helpful to you and something you consider adding  into your reading group repetoire of tools you pull out.

I didn't even get the chance to talk about how important this is for math as well, I love how somethings can easily transfer into different subjects for our littles.
As always...
happy teaching!