Thematic Thursday: Penguins

I am linking up with Carla from Comprehension Connection again for another great Thematic Thursday.  This week it's all about Penguins. Ork!  One of my favorite classroom themes!  So many great books and so much fun to be had with these adorable little creatures.

Way back in my early years of teaching I was lucky enough to take a job teaching 2nd grade where they read the novel Mr. Popper's Penguins.  Oh, did I have a blast planning that unit! Nowadays with Pinterest at our fingertips the plethora of penguin ideas for classroom fun with these adorable black & white friends is endless. You can follow my Penguins Pinterest Board to see all the additional great ideas I don't have room to include here today.

We all know that penguins are fantastically adorable, but they also allow classroom teachers to easily integrate science and language arts, making them a very popular classroom theme.  There are so many great fiction and non-fiction books starring penguins that it is easy to get students excited about both.  You will see some of my favorites linked in the graphic below.

Click to open document with clickable links for each book and idea!

I've also linked  a small sampling of some of my favorite penguin activities.  There are two art activities, including this very simple directed draw from Drawing Lessons for the Young Artists Blog. Simply sketch and then use pastels to color and you will have a some wonderful works of art.

I found an adorable photo writing prompt on Pinterest that reminds me so much of how always imagined Mr. Popper! It would be great to use for writing captions. I wish I was able to find the source of this clever capture.

The last activity is a matching game to help students learn basic facts about the many different species of penguins. It is a part of my larger unit on Mr. Popper's Penguins that was recently updated to include QR codes for students to self check.  Don't forget to check out the links at the bottom of the PDF for some great research resources to compliment your study of penguins.

Click the cover below to preview this Unit that includes:
      •Chapter Notes: prediction, inference, alliteration, simile, metaphor, foreshadowing, onomatopoeia & idioms by chapter
•56 Comprehension Questions
•53 Vocabulary Words for word walls & flashcard activities with quizzes included
•Integrated science and math activities
•Graphic Organizers
•Bonus Bookmarks for the 15 most popular species of penguins that include an illustrations and basic facts about the species.
•And More

Click to preview

And guess what? You can win this thematic unit along with several other fantastic penguin themed products this week!  Woot! Be sure to hop on over to the Comprehension Connection to enter the giveaways and to check out more fun penguin themed ideas!

Click to enter to win!

Scooping Up Books: Reading Logs & Goal Setting

visual display of learning an growth

Do your students need a boost in motivation for reading at home? This summer a girlfriend of mine and I were brainstorming ideas for her second graders.  She wanted to implement a program that might help her students track their progress and reflect on growth in their at home reading.  After much discussion we decided to go big or go home!

Note: this program does involve a small amount of extra class time and some classroom wall space to make it really fun.

Each month students get a "Scooping Up Books" reading calendar to use as log.  On the back side is a printed reflection sheet for students to do a very simple review of their favorite book that month. Each day students log the number of minutes or pages (whichever you prefer) on to the ice cream scoop.  They also check off the different genres they read in any given month. She does not require them to read from any particular genre, but you could if you were so inclined.  I also know some teachers like to have parent involvement with reading logs so my thought was parents could initial in each scoop if needed.
reading logs and book reflections

We decided that goal setting was going to be a critical part of this program. Each month students set a goal for themselves. At the end of each month they chart their personal progress and then set a new goal for the following month.

goal setiing for reading and tracking progress
Additionally, each month a class total is calculated.  This is the part that takes some time on your part.  You can set it up as a quick whole class math activity, assign a student each month to calculate or just do it yourself.  As a part of the incentive we created a class bulletin board to show progress or need for improvement...depending on the month.  
Reading bulletin board idea
If you want to create a cute 'Scooping Up Books' display you simply need an ice cream cone or dish labeled for each month of the school year.  Determine as a class how many minutes/pages a scoop of ice cream should equal.  You may need to determine this based on the size of your bulletin board space.  Then, at the end of each month add the appropriate number of scoops.  My girlfriend has the students who read the most each month decorate the scoops before hanging them up! I can't wait to see what it looks like in June!

reading logs and progress tracker
Click to Preview

Click for more goal setting ideas!

How To Fold A Mini Booklet

learn coins with money mini booklet
Do you use mini booklets in your classroom?  Have you taught your students how to fold their own yet?  It can be a bit tricky teaching students to make these at first, but once you have taught a class how to fold these little beauties the possibilities are endless!  Usually there are few quick learners who can help assist the few students who struggle with the last couple of steps...those are the trickiest for sure, and I am not entirely positive these directions make it crystal clear, but don't give up.  I promise it can be done!

What I L.O.V.E. about these particular mini-booklets is that all you need to make them is 1 sheet of paper and a pair of scissors. That is it. No staples, no tape, nothing else.  These are made with and 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper, but you can do the same thing with a sheet of construction paper for a slightly larger booklet.

I put together my own little photo tutorial for you using these Coin Booklets to go with my unit on the novel Lunch Money, by Andrew Clements.  If you are familiar with the book, you know that the two main characters make their own mini comic books to sell at school. The style of mini book in the novel is different, but the tie in perfect, and students really love being able to make these all on their own. Once your students know how to make them they can be used for all sorts of different things throughout the year.

Step 1:  In this example you you need trim the outer edge of the paper.  If you are using a blank paper, or if you aren't as type A as I am, the excess border might not bother you.  It totally bothers me, so trim the outer edge off before starting.

how to fold a mini booklet

Steps 2 & 3: Fold paper in half vertically and crease the center line. Open the paper back up, fold horizontally, and then crease the center line.

mini booklet tutorial

Steps 4 & 5:  Holding the paper horizontally, fold the left side of the paper to the center line, and then fold the right side of the paper to the center line.  You have now folded your paper into fourths.  Next, open your paper up again, and this time fold it in half horizontally, being sure to keep the folded edge of the paper toward your body. 

coin mini booklet tutorial

Step 6: Grab some scissors and start cutting  from the folded edge (the one closest to your body) along the center line to the center point of the paper. Be sure to stop when you hit the center point.  Look at the picture below if this doesn't make sense.

money mini booklet tutorial

Step 7: Open your paper up and this time fold it vertically (hot dog). Then, pick up your paper so that the completely open side is facing the ground.  Next, take the right panel and fold it along the existing crease toward the back.  Do the same thing with the left panel.  Note the picture below.

how to fold a mini booklet

Steps 8 & 9: This is by far the trickiest part to explain in words...not that the previous steps were all that simple, but the pictures hopefully help!  Essentially what you want to do is flatten your booklet and push the pages together. You may need to run your finger over the creases to really flatten your booklet.  What should happen is what you see below is step #9.  Your final step is to complete the booklet by folding the left panel to the back making it the back cover of your booklet.

booklet folding tutorial

If you have made it this far, hopefully you have a nice cute little mini booklet ready to fill with all kinds of fun stuff from math facts, to vocabulary illustrations, to whatever fun thing your students can imagine.

If you are interested in these coin booklets click the link below to visit my store.
Click to download

Runkeeper Stats 2014 : 500 Miles

Hey now, look at that!  500 miles logged in 2014.  I couldn't have planned that if I tried.

I love the Runkeeper App.  I've used it for about 4 years to track both walking and running. Nowadays, I only track my running and I just started tracking my walks again using Wooftrax.  

I rarely log in online to check stats, but since it's the start of a new year AND I knew that 2014 was my best year since...oh 1985...I was curious to see how many miles I had logged.  Imagine my surprise to have logged an even 500 miles for 2014.  I do like to stop my runs as close to an even mile mark as I can, but considering most of my runs look like this:

I do find it fantastically awesome that I somehow managed to hit 500 EXACTLY without even trying!  I love that kind of coincidence.

Well, on  to 2015.  I've officially logged a whopping 5 miles so far.  I hate to set goals with specific numbers just to avoid disappointment if I fail.  So I won't.  I do have plans to train and run at least as much as I did in 2014. So, with any luck I will be pleasantly surprised when I check my stats again this time next year!

Do any of you use Runkeeper or something else to track stats?  I am not super  hard core about my pace or tracking my data, but I do find it fun to have the info.  I mostly run for my mental health, but I do enjoy seeing improvement and progress!

January Pinterest Pick 3 Party

I am joining up with PAWSitively Teaching and The Inspired Owl's Corner for their January Pinterest Pick 3 Party. Of course, picking only three is tough!  To narrow it down I've decided to choose three from my Winter Fun! board. The concept of indoor recess for days on end is one that has me frantic for new and different activities.  I really like the outdoors!  Anyhow, these three pins are all ideas that could be brought out as something new and fun to do during an indoor recess time.

I stumbled across this pin a few weeks ago and loved this brilliant, and oh so simple idea for make a tree out of paper snowflakes. What a perfect indoor recess activity in the winter months and a new a different way to display paper snowflakes.

Check it out!

This next pin I have yet to try to make myself, and it may in fact be a bit of challenge to assemble, but it looks so darn cute. I bet there are some talented 4th and 5th graders that could figure it out in a snap.  I am sucker for free printables and this could be a great geometry activity too.  

Check it out!

This third pin is from one of my new favorite sites.  I've mentioned it a few times on the blog already, but I am sorry it is just worth mentioning again.  Have you been to Doodle Art Alley yet?  If not, you really need to go check it out! I am not kidding.  For a doodler like me I just can't get enough, and there are tons of free printable doodles and activities for kids of all ages to enjoy.  

Check it out!

If you are looking for more fun ideas to use in the classroom or at home this winter be sure to follow my Winter Fun! board on Pinterest.  

Follow Mom2punkerdoo's board Winter Fun! on Pinterest.

White Elephant Fun: Squirrel House It Is

Back in January of 2013 I came home from our annual New Year's Eve party with the most fantastic White Elephant gift ever!  I couldn't decide if it was a Fairy House or Gnome Cottage and I wasn't exactly certain where I was going to keep it at the time, but it now has a fabulous home in our backyard all year long.

Fast forward to New Year's Eve 2014 and lo and behold what do I end up with from this year's White Elephant Exchange?  A bright and shiny squirrel.  He's a nut cracker, but there is no nut cracking in this house so I knew immediately where he would go.  See, the friends who brought my Fairy House - Gnome Cottage to the party back in 2012 had always called it a squirrel house.  I had rebuked the idea of such a name, mostly because of that squirrel that made a home in my office wall one winter...but that is an entirely different story for another time.  Anyhow, I never wanted to call it a squirrel house, but that all changed when I got stuck with...I mean got so lucky as to take home a nice bright and shiny new squirrel!

So, squirrel house it is! Doesn't he look cute?

I've got some more great stories I'll have tell about our annual New Year's exchange someday. Need to get some good pictures first. Do y'all have White Elephant gift exchanges? What is the best thing you've taken home?  How about the worst?