Saturday, July 27, 2013

Zoo Animal Venn Maps

I am just now starting to download all the Venn Maps for each of the animals categories (if you been following my posts or read on, you will know what I am talking about).

Today, Zoo Animal Venn Maps!


The covers are the same except for the title and sample in the middle. Please leave a comment or follow along if you wish to download these! Super appreciated!!!


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Farm Animal Bubble Maps

This is one of my favorite units to teach!

Head on over to TPT to download this set for FREE! Only for a limited time though. Just click on the Farm Animals picture below.

Should you decide to do so, I’d really appreciate if you’d follow along on my little blog and leave a comment as to how my products work for you. That’s it… now head on over to TPT!


Next Up:  Dinosaurs

Also, be looking for all the coordinating Thinking Maps (circle, venn, flow, and brace maps) for Ocean, Zoo, Insects, Arctic & Farm animals as well as Dinosaurs coming soon!

Thanks for stopping by to take a look!


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Arctic Animals Bubble Maps

I love teaching about animals to my students. I hope you find these materials as useful as I do. Today, you can take a look at or download Arctic Animals Bubble Maps by clicking on the picture below.


Once again, if you purchase one item in my TPT store you can receive one FREE. Just send your email either through TPT or at

Thanks friends,


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Back to School Organization #3–Bulletin Boards

This time of the year I always enjoy browsing the bulletin board options at the school supply stores or online. It’s nice to refresh what I have every now and then. But, storing everything sometimes becomes a problem.
I love those expensive bulletin board storage pockets as seen below. You can purchase these for about $15.00 each. I don’t know about you but I like my sets to be organized by themes. So for me, I’d need about 15 of these at a cost of $200 plus.

And then there are less expensive options like these classroom storage keepers. And, even though they are less, they are also more bulky and tend to get heavy!

So, what do I do? I make my own storage pockets! The best part… FREE!
FIRST – Get 36 X 24 manila tag board. I got mine at my school.

NEXT – Fold the tag board in half. It should now measure 24 inches across the fold and 18 inches across the sides.

THEN – Staple along the sides. Decorate and label the top near the opening.

Now you have large storage pockets to store all of your die cuts, bulletin board items, or anything flat. I have “artist’s” drawers so I lay all my storage pockets down in thematic order of when I teach during the year. If you don’t have artist’s drawers then you can easily stand them up in a closet.

How do you store your bulletin board items? I’d love to hear new ideas.


Insects Bubble Maps

You can view this item or purchase the download in my TPT store by clicking on the picture. Just $1.00 and if you purchase one of the Thinking Maps items, receive 1 FREE. Just send me your email either through TPT or at and I’ll send you one of your choice.


Coming next: Arctic Animals

Also, be looking for all the coordinating Thinking Maps (circle, venn, flow, and brace maps) for Ocean, Zoo, Insects, & Arctic animals coming soon!

Thanks for stopping by to take a look!


Monday, July 22, 2013

Zoo Bubble Maps

Today, you can take a look or download ZOO Animals Bubble Maps by clicking on the image below. Hope you enjoy!


Like yesterday, if you decide to purchase the Zoo Animals Bubble Maps from my TPT store, please be sure to send me your email either through TPT or at and I’ll send you a FREE Insects Bubble Maps. I’ll be posting the Insect maps tomorrow so check back!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Ocean Bubble Maps

You can take a look or download these thinking maps by clicking on the picture below. Hope you enjoy!


I will be posting ZOO Animal Bubble Maps next for purchase in my TPT store which includes 37 digital slide pages. If you purchase the Ocean Theme, you can get the Zoo maps for FREE! To do so, make your Ocean purchase 1st, then send me your email through TPT or at and I will send you the product.

This month, I will be posting lots of items so I hope you will check back often.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Back to School Organization #2–Table Kits

Using student table kits are a great way to organize your student materials. Although you can use bins, baskets, or other small containers, use what you are most comfortable with. I’ve used all the ideas presented here and change from year to year and sometimes during the school year as well.



Tabletop bins like this above are more helpful at the beginning of the Kindergarten school year since they can hold a variety of materials and students learn to share.

Materials I’ve placed in these range. However, I always place crayons, pencils, large pink erasers, glue sticks, small whiteboard erasers, whiteboard pens, and sometimes resources like books and other manipulatives.

You can usually purchase these in the dollar spot at Target for $1 to $3.00 around this time of the year.


Another way I’ve organized student kits is to purchase pencil boxes.

Although these are not as large or hold as much as the table top kits, it’s also a great way to organize student stuff. It takes a bit more to manage in Kindergarten in the beginning of the year but as time goes on, students become more responsible for their boxes.

I prefer the smaller boxes. Depending upon your teaching style, you may find that you need additional table top kits for your centers as well. I prefer table top kits at the tables but also the smaller pencil boxes for individual use at stations.

You can usually find the Sterilite brand above at Wal Mart for $.50 to $.75 right now.


Finally, another way to organize student materials is by using Ziploc bags. It’s more inexpensive to purchase the bags in the beginning but will most likely cost you more in the long run.

Should you try this method, be sure to get the zippers and the freezer type bag as they hold up better. Also, you will probably spend more time teaching your students how to be more responsible as they tend to toss these around.

And, of course you can find these most anywhere for less. I’ve tried the Target brand but found I liked the Ziploc the best.

If you have any ideas, I would love to hear them!


Monday, July 15, 2013

Back to School Organization #1 - Centers

Classroom centers are an important part of self directed learning and exploring new ideas. Centers range from classroom areas to various curriculum activities to a multitude of rotations where everyone gets a turn to learn. And, as you continue to teach throughout the many years, you’ll collect lots of center “stuff.” With so many variables, it’s sometimes hard to remember what centers you’ve even set up throughout the year!

Therefore, it’s important to establish a way to organize your centers. Following are some ideas I use in my classroom.


First, I organize my closet space by curricular areas. These pictures are just samples to help you get started. I also organize science and social studies this way.

Closet Organization LA     Closet Organization Math

Next, I organize all the activities and games I have for each of these areas. For example, the pictures below (sight word activity centers) are activities I have lined up on the shelf labeled Word Work & Phonics.


The next set of pictures are activities I have organized in my math cabinet shelves. These resources are placed on the shelf labeled Geometry Activities. (Tip: I organize my math shelves by the Common Core Standards)


Finally, I took pictures of EVERYTHING I use in my centers and placed the pictures in a 4X6 filing box with the same labels as my cabinets.

4by6 center box

Now I can easily reference all of my center activities and games in one handy 4 by 6 filing box by the 4 main areas in Language Arts and the Math Common Core Standards right from my teacher’s table. And, it’s portable for those times when I need to take it with me and plan my lessons at home or elsewhere.
In addition, I never use the same center game over and over again when I have so many to choose from. And, when I need to rotate the same activity back in the mix, it’s easier to make it more challenging the second time around. The kids never get bored and learning continues to spiral in new ways.

How do you organize your centers and stations?


Friday, July 12, 2013

Back to School Organization Tips

Over the next few weeks as we all get ready to go back to school, I will be sharing several organizational tips. If you’re a new teacher looking for a few ideas, a seasoned teacher needing a little spark, or maybe some of these ideas just slipped your mind… there’s a little bit for everyone.

So, stay tuned during the remainder of July for helpful organizational tips.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Throw Back Thursday

Our classroom puppet theater has always been one of the most popular stations every week of the year! My students always become better story tellers and increase their comprehension. Your students will love it too.
With the pressure of standards and testing data, it seems teachers often times have a hard time letting go and allowing kids to explore and discover new learning through play. Understandable as sometimes we feel administrators might not understand the process behind our instructional strategies and expect to see a purely academic focus. However, it is so important for our students to have lots of language experience.
If you’re not sure where to begin, try using puppets and a puppet theatre. It’s easy to make and incorporate into your teaching if you’re just now starting out or even if you’re an experienced teacher.
puppet theatre
A puppet theatre doesn’t need to be expensive. I picked this tri-fold up from the school supply room, used a razor blade to cut out an opening, and colored it using markers and crayons! The kids love it.
While raising the level of interaction in group activities is important, some stronger results are most frequently seen from informal interactions between teachers and children, showing the importance of elevated language experiences during times such as directed play.
It only takes one short whole group lesson to demonstrate how to use your puppet theatre. Then, spend the next day during your language arts block of time calling small groups to participate retelling the story you read when you first broke it out during your whole group lesson. Engage your students in conversations and retellings that enrich their language using puppets or paper puppets laminated and hot glued onto tongue depressors. Finally, allow them to use this often for a richer language experience.
Gingerbread Boy Book
The Gingerbread Boy is a terrific beginning book. It has a repeating storyline that children are sure to remember along with an emotional ending they never forget!
If you give your kiddos the proper modeling and direct instruction how to retell a story, collaborate with each other in small groups, and interact with engaging stories, your students and their language ability will start to improve dramatically. And as a plus, you will be teaching the required standards and they will be mastering them through play.
Standards Addressed

Use words & phrases acquired through conversations, reading & being read to, & responding to texts.
Participate in collaborative conversations within diverse partners about kindergarten topics & texts with peers in small & large groups.
With prompting & support, retell familiar stories, including key details.
Actively engage in group reading activities with purpose & understanding.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

My Big Campus

My Big Campus is a web-based social learning network developed for K-12 school districts. Designed with built-in safety features, the service provides a monitored and secure means of providing social media tools in classrooms.
My Big Campus Online
The platform has a Facebook-like user interface, making it recognizable to students and teachers. This familiarity aids in classroom use and encourages collaboration. My Big Campus is specifically designed for K12 education and includes digital classroom tools allowing educators to create and post assignments, build calendars, and utilize assessment tools for quizzes and polls. Students use My Big Campus to collaborate, share resources, and manage their class schedule and assignments.
The My Big Campus Educational Resource Library is a collection of online resources shared among My Big Campus users. The resource library is pre-embedded with educational videos, wikis, documents, and websites; and teachers can add to the library as they come across educational resources online. Educational videos on YouTube can also be entered in the resource library, but the additional links and peripheral images and ads commonly found with YouTube videos are stripped away. In other words, if you have a My Big Campus account, you can login at home to download YouTube videos you cannot view at school. What a great alternative to see those awesome YouTube learning videos that our school servers often nix.
My Big Campus also has a mobile device app for iOS and Android. Check it out at your Google Play store or at the Apple app store.
My Big Campus App
I hope you found this helpful!