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Hot Teaching Ideas!


Great Ideas from Kelley(Brown) Dolling at The Teacher Idea Factory...Wow!


Oh snap . . . it's over :(  It's really over.  Fall Break was glorious and I am absolutely devastated to see it come to an end.  However, despite this overwhelming feeling that has dished up a healthy serving of "Upset Tummy Sunday," the learning that's on board for the next few weeks is gonna be grand. And . . . shhhhh, don't tell . . . I missed those little kiddies of mine.  Once we get back in the swing of things, it will be just like riding a bike, right?!  

Well, we didn't go anywhere over break and I couldn't have been happier with this decision.  Instead I used the time to catch up on sleep, putter around the house (ha . . . I sound 80), and be a more present wife (no electronics allowed in the evenings).  I also spent my days updating 4 old packets.  Yup, I updated FOUR of my very first TPT packets.  Oh, and I managed to make a whole new packet as well.  I had planned on getting even more done, but alas, my goals were just a little too lofty. 

What did I update you ask?  Well, I managed to knock out ALL of my old short vowel packets (AEIO, and U).  They are much cuter and now they are EDITABLE to make them even more user friendly!  In addition to the individual packs, I slapped 'em in a $$$ saving All About Short Vowels Bundle too!


If you know how I roll, you know that stickin' to your basic word work just ain't for me.  Yes, it has it's place and it's present in these packets.  However, from time to time, I like to switch things up a bit.  With this said, my goal with all of these packs was to create meaningful activities that turn short-term moments into long-term learning.  Here's a taste of some of the activities . . . 


Before I leave, how about a little short vowel freebie . . . to really give you a taste of what these packets are all about??!!  I bring you Stick 'Em Up.  This out of the box silly team game is sure to have your kids giggling, learning, and workin' together!  Talk about a win-win-win :)

I will be rollin' with this ditty in my own room on Wednesday.  I will be back with action shots for sure.  My babes are going to eat this up.  I think I am going to toss in a bell or a buzzer that the teams need to hit when they are finished . . . just to add a little more rowdy sizzle . . . hehehehehe :)
Alright, I have a few too many holes in my lesson plans.  I'm still ironing out the final details for the week.  So much to fit in and SO little time.  BLARG!!!  Oh, and I almost forgot . . . I put that bundle on sale.  It's 20 percent off through Monday!! Anyway, big hugs my friends.  Good luck this week and I'll see you soon.  



It's a miracle.  I finally uploaded my punctuation packet.  The poor thing had been patiently waiting by the side of my computer . . . just longing to be edited since I printed out the last page of my "sloppy copy" back in late July.  I guess this means I am finally "finding my footing" in the school department, huh??  I sure hope so ;)

Okay, so Punctuation Has Personality is a doozie and is probably one of my craziest collections yet.  This rather large packet (weighing in at 97 pages of goodness) is right up there in "out of the box land" with my Wow vs. Blah Sentences Packet!  It seems that I am all about having my babes really "experience" writing!!  #apatternisemerging

Yes, I make another stupid appearance in this pack - duck face and all.
I left my pride in some forgotten drawer AGES AGO :)
I need to have babies stat so I can use their cute faces instead of my ugly mug!!

There is a method to my madness in all of these . . . and I swear that it really works.  I have been rolling with a version of this packet for years and it has saved my hiney in the punctuation and sentence writing department.  Bear with me . . . if you dare . . . hehehehehe!

Let's be honest . . . Punctation isn't the most thrilling concept when taken at face value.  Kids (especially the little ones) just don't connect with all those silly dots, lines, and curvy things.  In turn, I found that this "kid disconnect" can lead to a teacher putting the phrase, "How do you end a sentence?" on auto repeat. After a few years of beating MY head against the wall, I realized that I needed a "hook" that would generate excitement and start creating some long-term learning for my babes!

One day about 5 years ago, I caught myself saying, "What does my face look like when I read this sentence?"  Sure, I totally played it up (an Oscar-worthy performance for sure).  However, my little sweetie "got it."  From here on in, Punctuation Had Personality and I began to introduce it to new classes this way (with even more spice).  All of the three basic punctuation marks (period, exclamation point, and question mark) have movements, sound effects, and facial expressions.  (I told you it was "different" . . . but what's new??)  

This method has been extremely successful for me over the years and it has drastically reduced the amount of times I have to remind children to check the end of their sentence!

With all this said, this packet is stuffed with ideas, team activities, and interactive practice that will keep your sweeties engaged and "hooked" into punctuation.  We're talking everything from movement cards, punctuation posters, and bulletin board templates to pocket chart sorts, table games, and meaningful independent practice.  This puppy even comes with a song from Ron Brown's Intelli-Tunes.  His 3 Kinds of Sentences song just works evah so nicely with this pack . . . so we included it in the download!  


My current crew was introduced to this outlandish way of thinking last week and they are so bought in to what I am "dishing."  They already know all of the high level names of the three kinds of sentences and punctuation marks, they have the movements down pat, and they are really rockin' everything I am tossin' their way.  I am one proud teacher.  

Our topic was pumpkins today!
I had them eating out of the palm of my hand . . .
Thank you October!
Oh, and is it silly that I took utter delight in a comment that a co-worker made to me today . . . "You guys were having such fun today . . . what were you doing?"  (My room shares a wall with the teacher's lounge - those poor people NEVER get to eat a meal in peace with Dolling and her little darlings hootin' and hollerin' or causing some sort of trouble next door!)  Here's why we were causing a just bit of a ruckus today . . .
Before we got down to business with the paper shown above, the kids were introduced to "Captain Question Mark!"  I pulled this one out of my bum two years ago after going rounds with those frustrating backward hooks that UG-LIF-I even the prettiest of papers.  All you need is pirate hook (they are SO easy to find right now), something for "Peter" to fight with, and two brave kiddos.  Here's how I use this one . . .
  1. Pick one person to be Captain Question Mark (give him/her) the toy hook. Select another student to be Peter Pan (give him/her something to fight with . . . I used a lightsaber this year). 
  2. Point out that the hook looks a lot like a question mark!
  3. Invite your two babes to pretend fight in front of the class . . . you can hear a pin drop and you will have each and every one of them in the palm of your hand . . . it's glorious.  
  4. Point out how the HOOK is facing the action!  
  5. Then, instruct the Captain to turn his/her back on Peter.  Point out how the hook is NOT facing the action.  
  6. Let Peter safely "take down" the Captain.  My sweet little gal got poked in the back and put on the performance of her life.  Seriously . . . she flopped on the ground, rolled around, and played dead.  Everyone started yellin' and laughing like crazy.  CLASSIC kid moment for sure.  
  7. Once you "put the lid back on," follow this up by saying that Captain Question Mark ALWAYS has to face the action (i.e. the words or sentence)!!  Use the play hook to help punctuate a question you wrote on the white board . . . this solidifies it!  
It's dippy, but I NEVER EVER (yes, I said NEVER EVER) get backward question marks on papers.  The kids just get it.  
If all or any of this silliness is right up your ally, I suggest you take a peek at myPunctuation Has Personality Packet.  I put my heart and soul into this one.  It's on sale tonight and all day tomorrow (Tuesday/Wednesday - 20% off). 
Alright, I am off to make Quinoa Meatloaf.  I bet you are drooling over all the wheat-free, dairy-free, and beef-free goodness going on in our home, huh??  My poor husband.  Anyway,  thanks for taking the time to read all about my crazy punctuation theory today.  I'll catch you soon.  Merry October my friends.  



This December activity is available on our "freebie" page.

Here's how this game rolls...

Prepare for this activity by printing out a class set of story templates and adjective mats of choice.  In addition, every child will need a peppermint candy. (We suggest having a few back up candies as they can break or roll away).




To begin play, students drop their peppermint candy on their adjective mat. The word that the treat lands on (or is closest to) is written in any space on their story template.  Students continue this process until all of the spaces on their story template are filled!



Additional notes about this activity...

•As kiddos completed the task, I had them illustrate their stories on the back of their story template (many colored the front too).Additional nots about this activity...

•We are not allowed to let our students eat hard tack candy, so I traded them a small candy cane for their peppermint when they finished the activity.

•When everyone's crazy story was completed, I had my kids cruise the room and read their stories to each other!

Multiple templates are included in this FREEBIE pack.  One story is more "decodable" than the other.  In addition, one of the adjective mats is a little crazier than the other . . . pick the one that is right for you and your crew of kiddos! 


                                    This young lady read her story 13 times to classmates!









A Classroom Snowball Fight?  


Take "I Have/Who Has" to the next level this year.  It's played just the same as a regular whip-around, but the kids get to crumple up their sheet to use as a snowball before the reading begins.  
On your "go"  allow the kids to get into a paper snowball fight.  The only rule is no "head or face shots".  That way everyone can enjoy the fun!



Let them play, giggle, hurl, and yell for about 3-5 minutes and then get down to business reading the snowballs.  The best part is to let them play three different times or more!  Little do they know that you have them right where you want them!
We all know that throwing paper doesn't have anything to do with the core standards. HOWEVER, it does create extra activity "buy-in" and makes a memory that they won't soon forget.  So . . . if you don't mind a moment of chaos and endless giggles, this whip-around version is for you!  Try it before summer vacation hits with vocabulary or math themes.   It's a cool idea on a hot day!





Your class will soon have a new favorite game... "Let's Make a Deal!"   It's simple, it requires little prep (hip hip hooray), and kids totally love it.  It's great to hear your class crack up when someone makes a bad trade.  Be sure add a frontloaded discussion about being good sports before you begin. You can also modify the game to make it a "win-win" for everyone.  Interested?  Read more below.
All you need for this fun game is a homemade question deck, prizes (quite a few small items, a handful of silly items, and a couple of really good items), and "doors" (I use garbage cans or boxes placed upside down over the item). 
Here's how to play . . . 
  1. Create a question deck.  Pick four categories or skills that need reviewing and come up with five question cards per category. Math facts, plurals, pronouns, quotes, and parts of speech are good choices.  Place the cards in a pocket chart at the front of your room.
  2. Divide your class into two teams.  Two children (one from each team) square-off at a time. Have the kids each roll a die to determine who gets to pick the category.  It just adds a little more "sizzle" to the game.
  3. STOP and frontload this.  Talk about what it means to be a good sport.  It will keep hurt feelings to a minimum when we remind them that this is all in good fun. A small treat/prize can be awarded at the end of the game for everyone who shows good sportsmanship. 
  4. When a category is selected, read the question aloud and have each player  write their answer on a mini-white board.  For example, have them write out a quote or re-write a sentence to include the pronoun instead of the noun.
  5. Whoever gets the right answer first is the winner.  It's just like the TV show.  Offer this child a  fairly nice prize. It is not his/her decision to keep it or trade if for something under one of the "doors."  There is a chance for something really awesome (new lunchbox, games, toys . . . Dollar Store delights), but there is also a chance for something stinky (cans of peas, used crayons . . . anything found in your desk that you don't want).  Most of the time they will trade even though they know they might get stuck with something icky.
  6. Ask the remainder of the class attempt to answer on their white boards while they are at their seats.  This keeps everyone working and allows time for you to reload the SECRET DOORS.  If both players answer incorrectly then check with students in the audience.  Sometimes, you can reward a correct answer from the crowd with a little treat if you choose.
  7. Your kids will truly love the "thrill of victory and the agony of defeat" with this fast-paced skills review format.


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