Friday Night Lights

Lyle Lovett sings:

That's right you're not from Texas
That's right you're not from Texas
That's right you're not from Texas
But Texas wants you anyway

Though I've been in Texas for going on 8 years now, and have been frequently heard to say, "Y'all" and even "All y'all" now and then...and despite earning my Honorary Citizenship in the Empire of Texas (Yes, I even have the certificate to prove it!) ...there is one right of passage I have yet to make. 

Official Texan Certificate

I am almost afraid to put it in writing, I do not want my Texan Card revoked!  I have never been to Friday Night Lights.  Honestly, the last football game I attend was the Homecoming game my senior year of high school and y'all can just imagine how long ago that was! 

However, that changes tonight.  Tonight I will be sitting in my brand new stadium seat, that sports the school logo, watching the first football game of the season.  I will be wearing my new "I am with the band" t-shirt and experiencing what all true Texans seem to on Friday nights.


PS.  Sure glad Lyle was right.  ;-)

High School Already????

Cliche I know....but OMG where did the time go? Can't really wrap my head around the fact that I have a freshmen.  I managed to make through almost the entire day without tears. However, as I was sitting in the carpool line to pick him up after band practice at 6:30pm, after having dropped him at 7:00am, I couldn't help but shed a few tears.  Our lives changed over night.

He is on a path to independence and I can't stop or even slow it anymore.  He will have 12 hours days, some days more, for at least the next 3 months.  Then, for the few hours he is home, he will be doing homework, eating and sleeping.  Is it winter yet?  Remind me to cherish the extra hours we get back come winter and spring...even if he is being a grumpy teenager!

For the first time in his life we are the people he will be spending the least amount of time with.  Contrast that to our four homeschooling years, when all three of us were home together everyday, and it is a little hard to swallow.  Boy, am I thankful for those four years!  I knew at the time they were a gift, but that gift seems all the more precious today. Sniff...

Needs vs. Wants

Oh the painful lesson of realizing that even though we really want something, we don't actually need it!  While we can know intellectually the difference between the two, it is sometimes much harder to distinguish emotionally.

Display a random assortment of items that includes some things that are "needs" and some that are "wants."  Group the "needs" together and the "wants" separately, but do NOT label them.  Allow your students some time to study the items and make observations.  Hold a class discussion based on the students observations. See if anyone can figure out why you have grouped them separately.  This will of course lead you into discussing the definition of a "need" vs. a "want." 

Interactive notebook and center activities to teach personal finance to K-2 students. Includes: goods and services, needs and wants, producers and consumers and more!
Needs vs. Wants

To follow up your discussion use this simple sorting activity designed to help primary students begin to make the distinction between basic needs and personal wants.   Their parents will thank you if you can make this concept stick! 

Interactive notebook and center activities to teach personal finance to K-2 students. Includes: goods and services, needs and wants, producers and consumers and more!

This activity can be used several ways.  One, as a learning station. Just laminate and cut several sets of the picture cards and have students sort them and then record their findings with the included checklist.  Or two, you can give each student their own set of cards to cut, sort and glue on to construction paper attaching the recording sheet to the back side or using it later as an assessment tool.

If you like this activity you can purchase it along with several other like it that cover early financial literacy topics such as:  Consumers vs. Producers, Goods vs. Services and Job Skills.

Interactive notebook and center activities to teach personal finance to K-2 students. Includes: goods and services, needs and wants, producers and consumers and more!
Click to Find Out More!

Building Classroom Community With The Name Jar

I always love it when I can find a fantastic book that ties to exactly what I want to teach!  The picture book, The Name Jar, by Yangsook Choi is a new favorite of mine.

This particular book has many wonderful lessons. It lends itself so well to the back to school focus on building classroom community.  The teacher, Mr. Cocotos, has clearly established a supportive and comfortable classroom community before the main character Unhei arrives as a new student from Korea.

One way to jump off this book is to have fun with the jar theme. It so simple too! First, create a large chart with an empty jar on it.   Give students sticky notes and ask them to name things that help make a positive classroom community like the one in the story.  Use this to start a discussion on what your classroom agreements will be for the school year and how your goal is to create an environment like the one Mr. Cocotos established that helped Unhei feel welcome in both her new school and her new country.

Ideas for building classroom community using The Name Jar
The unit includes a graphic organizer for students to record class ideas.

Another fun way to extend the jar theme and to help your students get to know each other the first few weeks of school is to give them a blank jar and have them fill it with words or pictures that symbolize their identity.  To make it extra fun, make sure they don't include their names anywhere on the front.  Then, have the classmates try to guess which jar belongs to which student!   This could be a fun display for parents to try and guess which jar belong to their child at back to school night too!
The Name Jar literacy activities for building classroom community
Option: Make this a technology training lesson. Have students add clip art into the jar!

These are just a few ways to use The Name Jar to help build your positive classroom community at the start of a  new school year.  If you are interested in the seeing additional activities I have designed to go with  this book please click the image below to see a preview of the unit in my TPT store.

the name jar literature unit
Click to see more of this unit.

Back to School With Google Forms

Easy way to collect parent contact information and have all the information automatically saved in digital format using Google forms! You will never go back to paper forms again!
Have you made a Google Form? Filled one out?  Used them on your blog or in your classroom yet?  If not I think you are going to want to learn!

I know what Google Forms are and have even filled out a few myself, but I had NO clue how to go about creating one.  Luckily for me there are several experienced folks out there who have created some excellent tutorials with simple step by step explanations that made it really easy to learn.

I follow Chris Kesler's new blog TPT School and he recently posted a YouTube tutorial on creating Google Forms.  If you are interested in learning how simple it really is, then I highly recommend spending a few minutes to watch his tutorial.

There are so many potential uses for using Google Forms in the classroom.  The first of which is one I suggest you have ready to go the first week of school....a Parent Volunteer Form!   The thought of parents filling out an electronic form and it populating a spreadsheet with names, contact info, volunteer interest and availability is pretty darn exciting for an organizing freak like me!  Oh, and how about you make QR Code that links to your Parent Volunteer Form and you have it on display outside your room and at Back to School Night?  Yes, please!

This is my first Google Form, but the possibilities are endless! So glad I took the time to learn.  Hope you try it out too if you haven't already!


What's not to love about penguins?  Honestly, I could waste a lot of time looking at pictures of penguins.   Seriously, is this not stunning?  I wonder what they are chatting about?

I recently finished putting some updates on a unit revolving around the novel Mr. Popper's Penguins, by Richard and Florence Atwater.  If you are not familiar with  this classic novel it is about a man who suddenly finds himself caring for quite a number of guest penguins.  This hilariously funny book is perfect for integrating your science and language arts programs.

The story provides some great opportunities for discussing and learning about habitats and why they are important.  I like to use it as a jumping off point for doing some non-fiction research.  There are over 15 types of penguins that can be researched!  You can keep it simple and just learn basic penguin facts or really delve deep and have students write reports and design presentations to share.

Additionally, there is a wealth of vocabulary to be learned from this book.  The adjectives used to describe the penguins alone introduce words that many students may not have heard; words like pompous, droll, stout and indignant.

The Mr. Popper's Penguin Unit focuses heavily on comprehension questions, vocabulary and penguin facts.  The updated fact posters include QR Codes with links to one of my favorite kid friendly penguin research websites.

I also added QR Codes to the Penguin Fact Cards so that students can play matching games and self-check!

Click to Preview Game and Posters
Be sure to check out my Penguins Pinterest Board for lots of fun ideas to compliment your penguin study!

Happy Birthday Harry Potter

Last Wednesday night my son and some friends were together enjoying some summer pool time and I hear one of the girls say , "Tomorrow is Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling's birthday, we should have a party!"  Next thing you know they are planning away.  With a little help from Pinterest and lots of chatting about what foods they remember from the books (they are teenagers, food is important)  and just a little encouragement from me they have a plan put together to celebrate the next evening!

Can I just say I was beyond thrilled with this plan?  First, I LOVE Harry Potter.  But, more importantly I love that these kids so appreciate J.K's books and characters that they think it would be fun to celebrate their birthdays. I sent the girls home with our last box of Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans and my frog candy mold.  Y'all keep those lying around your house too, don't you?   Reminding them they have to check with their mother and to use what they have in the pantry.  I happen to know this particular mom has a VERY well stocked pantry.

Needless to say I know there was a trip to the market involved as not everyone stocks the ingredients for Butter Beer at home on a regular basis.  The two sisters spent the day preparing to celebrate Harry and J.K and waiting for their fellow Harry fans to arrive that evening.  Not a bad way to spend some time in the summer!

They baked a cake and decorated it like the one Hagrid gave to Harry in the very first book, so cute!  Melted some chocolate to make Chocolate Frogs, whipped up some Butter Beer and even created a pensive with some blue Jello and Whipped Cream!  Brilliant!

Is this not a perfect way for a bunch of teenagers to spend  their time in the summer?  And all thanks to a fantastic author who wrote such a wonderfully imaginative story with loveable characters, adventure, and pages kids of all ages just can't stop reading.  Magic indeed! 

I am thinking this needs to be an annual summer event!