No "BONES" About It...We Love Science!

Pumpkins and lattes and leaves, oh my...fall is finally here! In just a few short weeks, we'll turn our calendars to glorious October, cozy up in sweaters, and dream up Halloween costumes. While I love all things pumpkin flavored (who doesn't?), I'm most excited to dive into my fall mini unit series! These four mini units cover all things fall, from spiders to skeletons and leaves to owls. Each uses a hands-on, cross-curricular approach to teach your kiddos more about these exciting themes, and is aligned to CCSS. Today, I'm sharing my best selling mini unit of all time, "All About Bones!"

Hilarious comic from BuzzFeed
I use this 21 page set over a five day span, picking and choosing my favorite activities; however, it can easily be used for a longer period of time! We start off the week with my favorite skeleton read aloud by Steve Jenkins, Bones: Skeletons and How They Work. You can find it on Amazon here. This book is chalk full of stunning illustrations and amazing facts about the human skeleton, as well as various animals' skeletal system. The kids LOVE it, and are suddenly full of great questions about bones. We record these on an anchor chart, checking off each question as we discover its answer throughout our study.

I then split my readers by level and we explore our own bone mini books. These mini books all cover the same content, but are coded by reading level to fit the needs of all students. We meet again at the carpet to discuss what we've learned, highlighting important vocabulary words. We then split back into our partner teams to complete a comprehension guide. I always love to see my students' drawing of a skeleton!

For the rest of the week, we continue to learn about bones using amazing books from our library, as well as some free books from GetEpic! (If you haven't heard of GetEpic, sign up now! With your free account, you'll have a free digital library at your fingertips.) Each day, we complete a page or two from my mini unit set, expanding on our science knowledge using reading, writing, and math resources.

By the end of the week, my kiddos are bone experts! Many of them tell me they're now interested in become orthopedic surgeons themselves...I love expanding their horizons to new careers using science! 

On our last day of the mini unit, we create our own model skeleton to hang in our hallway. It is one of my favorite activities of the fall season! Check out their amazing work!

Each student chooses their bone to create using white paper and pencil. They use rulers to "measure" the bone on me first...which means our model turns out to be over five feet tall! Once our bones are completed, we glue together our skeleton on black butcher paper and label him. We then hang Mr. Bones up in the hallway, along with some fun facts so that other kids can check out our interactive display. 

This last project can be a bit time consuming, but is well worth the effort. My kiddos are incredibly proud of their end proud in fact that last year we kept him up until December! 

You won't find mention of "hand bones" or "head bones" in this set...I treat my students as scientists and encourage them to use the proper scientific terms for the bones in their bodies. I absolutely love to hear words like femur, phalanges, and humerus out of the mouth of babes. More than that, I've found that my firsties take incredible pride in using these "grown up" terms. I'm stunned each year with their retention from this mini unit! Well into the spring, my students will tell me they hurt their patella riding their bike, showing me a scrape on their knee and giving me a wide smile that tells me they loved being able to use such a big word.

For three days only (ending September 20, 2017 at midnight), this mini unit is on sale for 20% off in my store! Inside this set, you'll find leveled readers and a matching comprehension guide, a KWL chart, a can/have/are chart, "Name That Bone" cut and paste, skeleton labeling activity, a fact sheet, animal x-rays, report pages, an addition/subtraction activity, and bone tally math. You'll also find directions for a fun art activity and the titles and authors of my favorite skeleton read alouds! 

Looking to save even more? Check out my Fall Mini Unit bundle, covering bones, leaves, owls, and spiders HERE! You'll score all four of my October mini units for the price of just three! These no prep, print and go sets make hectic October planning a breeze! 

What are you teaching in science this fall? Drop your favorite activities in the comments below!

from September to (Mrs.) May Room Reveal 2017

It's finally done! After eight hot, sticky days spent in my classroom, I'm excited to finally share my first ever room reveal with you. I've been inspired by so many classrooms on Instagram, and hope this post offers the same to those of you still readying your room for your new batch of kiddos. I'm including links to all of the products I've used to make my classroom my new happy place. Thanks to many other teachers authors, I'm #btsreadywithtpt!

Let's start with my favorite new feature of my door!

I coated the inside of my door with two layers of black chalk paint and called upon a former student's parent for help with this adorable vinyl decal. This cheap ($15 and free shipping!) and easy update to my door is a great way to welcome students into my classroom!

My first grade squad got door makeovers by Jesica, too. Want your own? Message Jesica on Instagram or Facebook by clicking the links, and tell her I sent you!

I used my own Classroom Careers set and some cute ocean cut outs to create this "You're Hired!" board. Two years ago, I said goodbye to traditional, rotating classroom jobs and I haven't looked back since! During the first few weeks of the school year, I'll carefully watch my new batch of firsties and hire them for their very own Classroom Career, a job that they'll be trained for and then hold for the entire school year. Students are matched with a career that fits their own special skills. For example, my most creative student become the class Artist, and helps other students with their art work and keeps our art center clean! For more about Classroom Careers, check out my previous post.

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that the Zen Zone was my saving grace last year. I decided to give this little space an upgrade this year using a cheap, sheer curtain to hang between two filing cabinets. I also added gorgeous (and FREE!) motivational quote posters from 3rd Grade Has It Made and this cute banner from Instruct and Inspire. Read more about how my firsties went ZEN here.

I'm excited to try out Gold Tags as a positive behavior management system this year! Read all about the Gold Tag rage here and access it on TpT here. I'm using these paint chip library card pockets to store my students' gold tags and cut yellow card stock for the tags themselves. I whipped up some simple Pinterest inspired motivational posters to complete this mini board.

I'm off to enjoy the rest of my last weekend as a stay-at-home dog mom. Stay tuned for part two of my room reveal later in the week!

TpT Back to School Sale

We interrupt your regularly scheduled relaxation, Target Dollar Spot spending, and Pinterest pinning to bring you this important announcement...the Teachers Pay Teachers Back to School sale is HERE! On August 1 and 2, you can get all your favorite back to school products for just a fraction of the cost. Just remember to enter the promo code BTS2017 at check out. Since most TpT sellers will have already marked down their stores, you'll score great resources at 25% off! Don't forget to leave reviews for all of your purchases to earn TpT's like getting paid to shop.

UPDATE: TpT has extended their sale for a special BTS Bonus Sale for today, August 22 until 11:59 PM. Just use the code BTSBONUS to get up to 25% off!

To celebrate the sale, I've compiled my list of top five TpT resources for a successful year in the primary grades! These products are all tried and true...I've used them all in my very own classroom, and fell in love with each. Make sure they find their way into your cart this week to score them at a discount!

Before we get to my favorites, check out some of these best selling from September to (Mrs.) May products, all 25% off for the Back to School Sale August 1 and 2 AND the BTS Bonus Sale August 22.

My best selling thematic unit is perfect for spring time or harvest time...learn all about agriculture with 100+ pages of no prep printables and the Barnyard Olympics! Check out the freebie first HERE.

Say goodbye to traditional classroom jobs and hello to Classroom Careers! Read all about this new program sure to benefit your kiddos HERE.

Improve your parent-teacher-admin communication and encourage positive behavior in your students by using my comprehensive guide! You can read all about it HERE.

Panicking for your meet the teacher night? Don't sweat it! This simple BTS Scavenger Hunt is the perfect way to introduce your kiddos to their new room. Grab it on sale HERE.

If you use HMH Journeys, this set is for you! Students use choice boards to create a unique product each week. Score the freebie sampler HERE.

And without further are my top five resources for a successful school year! Even though I use these in first grade, all of these products can be stretch for K-2, or have "sister products" in different grade levels!

This set is pure gold...seriously. These babies have been a staple in my classroom from my very first year, and are the perfect way to teach listening skills. Students are given a plain piece of paper and turn it into a work of art within 10 minutes just by following easy-peasy directions. My kiddos beg for directed draws and cheer when it's finally time to try a new one out. I use these heavily at the beginning of the year to encourage listening skills and attention to detail. I also am sure to do at least once a month for this super cute keepsake (check it out using the link!). If you follow me on Instagram, you'll see that I generally let the kiddos use crayon and watercolors for some additional fine motor practice, but these drawings are beautiful even just in pencil! Try out a freebie version HERE.

I just discovered this gem last year, and I wish I had known about it earlier in my career! This fast-paced math game is a complete breath of fresh air. I simply split my class in two and we're off. Students compete against one another, not realizing that they're becoming fluent with their math facts as they play. We play knockout every day at the end of math class. My kiddos even play it on their own during indoor recess! I own the bundle pictured above, but there are many other versions as well. You can try the freebie version HERE!

If you use Journeys, stop everything and buy this set! This supplement for the series is such a time and sanity saver. Time I once wasted writing my phonics, spelling, and and sight words all over my whiteboard is now dedicated to actually practicing those skills. This series has become a fun part of our daily morning meeting and is the perfect way to slide into our ELA block. Each day has a corresponding slide that is projected on the board for students to practice. My kiddos absolutely love leading these lessons and have so much fun with the daily game. Click HERE to watch a great tutorial before buying this amazing product.

Yep, another product from Beyond the Beanstalk! I just started using UnHomework last year and it was a huge hit. For my first few years of teaching, I used traditional weekly homework packets, and they flat out didn't work. The students who needed the extra practice rarely completed their packets; my students who did complete their packets every week would have been succeeding in school even without the homework. I was completely frustrated with this and luckily stumbled upon this fabulous blog post all about UnHomework. Read it, buy it, and you'll revolutionize your classroom! Students, teachers, and parents alike have much to gain from this incredible alternative to traditional homework.

Even though my reading series comes with great books for guided reading, sometimes they're just not enough. This collection of passages was exactly what I was looking for! Each grade level set has 15 informational passages and 15 fiction passages, perfect for 30 weeks of fluency practice! After organizing copies of each passage in an organized binder with page protectors, I now have the perfect resource to supplement my guided reading lessons. The comprehension questions provide a wonderful quick assessment and the progress monitoring graphs are pure genius, especially at conference time. You can try out a sample first HERE.

All of these products are sure to help you for the upcoming school year! What are your other must haves for first grade? Sound off in the comments below. Happy shopping!

Build a RTI Environment with Classroom Jobs CAREERS!

Hey, all! It's the last week of July which means there's only a month left of summer before school starts. I know, half of you are plugging your ears...but if you're here, chances
are, it means you're just like me, doing a happy back-to-school dance!

I still have a few more weeks before I can get back into my classroom to set up for my new batch of kiddos, but the wheels are already turning in my mind. What should my theme be? Should I make any changes to my classroom management system? What activities will I lead the first week? Have I spent too much money at the Target Dollar Spot? How can I make this year better? 

To answer all of these questions (and more!), I decided to wind down this last month of summer with a special Back to School series to share with you some of my favorite ideas and inspirations for the school year. First up, we'll be talking about how I manage classroom jobs...

Like many of you, I'm very active on various Facebook groups geared specifically for primary teachers. Time and again, I see other teachers post the same question: "What do you do for classroom jobs?" This seemingly simple classroom staple has educators all over the globe stumped, and for good reason. What jobs are appropriate for my students? How often should I rotate? What if I keep forgetting to assign new jobs? How do I keep things fair? As a new teacher, I found myself often wondering, Is all this effort even worth it?

Of course, you all know the answer is a resounding YES! Classroom jobs build a community of learners and teach valuable traits like responsibility, leaderships, and independence. Even though I realized this, my traditional, weekly-rotating classroom jobs set up was flat out not working for me. Some jobs were too boring; there weren't enough roles for each student every week; I couldn't keep track of who held which job; and of course...I never remembered to rotate! I needed a change. In the middle of a Pat Quinn RTI seminar, it finally hit classroom didn't need jobs. It needed careers!

One of the most important things we do as teachers is prepare our students for the "real world." I'm always trying to keep this in mind as I plan my lessons, and in this case, my classroom structure. As an adult, I don't rotate to a new job each week...I chose to be a teacher because it's a career I fell in love with. More than that, I was trained (and am still being trained) to be an educator, and had the natural skills to make a pretty darn good one (if I do say so myself!). I wanted to apply this same idea to my classroom jobs. 

I've found that the key to a successful RTI classroom is establishing the proper environment from the very first day of school. Throughout the year, my students will find that their day-to-day assignments may differ from their neighbors'. Their friend may use special tools to learn, while they're completing the same task with only a pencil. I want my kiddos to understand that fair and equal are not always synonyms in my classroom. As one of my favorite professors always reminded me, "The most important thing to have in education is not equality, it's equity." Classroom Careers became a simple way to establish these ideals. Assigning students to a job they are best fit for (rather than rotating) allows students to realize that each child has specific skills and needs.

During the first few weeks of school, I keep an eye out for each of my students' "special talent" and pair it to a Classroom Career. My animal lover trains to be our Veterinarian. One of my tidy friends becomes the Custodian. The child obsessed with our computers and tablets is named our Technician. Each student is matched to a job that "fits!" Little by little, each of my students is hired for a Classroom Career. 

Upon being hired, each student is presented with a certificate at morning meeting, and their name is added to our Classroom Career bulletin board. As you can imagine, this is a Very Big Deal in Room 11. I hire the kids one, two, sometimes three at a time. This builds the anticipation! Who will be hired next? What will my job be? How can I show my teacher that I'm ready to start my career? 

Almost all jobs have job training. I use morning work time or the few minutes before dismissal to show students how to correctly complete their job each day by modeling the job myself or simply showing them where certain supplies are kept. This is a simply task that usually only needs done once or twice at the start of the year. Remember, we keep these jobs all year...after all, they reflect each child's special skill!

I've found that my students take more pride in their job knowing they were picked especially for it. They also come to rely upon themselves and each other more quickly. Instead of asking me how to draw a cat, my students consult the Artist. When we turn on our projector, the Electrician silently gets up to turn out the lights. In the chaos of a child falling and scraping their knee, my Doctor knows to quickly fetch a band-aid or ice pack from my desk. If the ringing classroom phone interrupts my lesson, my Secretary knows to answer and direct the call, allowing me to continue teaching.

With their roles established and permanent, my classroom runs more smoothly. No longer do I waste time picking an eager volunteer to run a paper across the hall, for this is the job of my Delivery Person. My standard end-of-the-day chores, like shutting the windows, emptying my desk garbage, and passing out papers are now taken care of by my Widow Specialist, Garbage Person, and Mail Distributor. These minutes saved give me more time to work one-on-one with students or plan for the next day, while also instilling a sense of responsibility in my students.

Two years ago, I said adios to traditional, rotating classroom jobs and I haven't looked back since! Interested in trying Classroom Careers for yourself? Check out my Classroom Careers set on TpT, a steal at just $4.50! In addition to learning about all 22 Classroom Careers, you'll be able to download the four sets of job cards with matching name cards and headers to make your Classroom Career bulletin board. You'll also earn access to pre-made, editable certificates for your newly hired students. The entire set is editable, and includes various sizes of print outs in color and B&W. Just click HERE to get started!

Just for you, I've also created a freebie for you to preview the set. Check out this new addition on TpT by clicking HERE. Even if you're buying the set, you'll want to check out this freebie as well! It features my brand new Classroom Career application for students to apply to their favorite careers.

What do your classroom jobs look like? Is there a career I've missed? Sound off in the comments below. I'm off to the mall for some more back to school shopping...see you next week for the second edition of my Back to School series, all about Meet the Teacher night!

A Back to School Giveaway (and a sale just for you!)

Hi, all! I hope you've been having a wonderful, relaxing summer! After the craziness of getting married (ahh!) and going on a gorgeous honeymoon (ohh!), I've been taking it pretty easy this summer. I've loved catching up on my reading, baking, and just spending time with friends and family.

Now, that we're into mid-July, I've turned my school brain back on. Scrolling through Instagram has me excited to try awesome new ideas for the upcoming year!

Lucky for you, I've joined a team of incredible teacher authors to give away some amazing gift cards to help YOU get ready for the new school year! Entering is easy via Rafflecopter. Simply complete as many links as you like at the very bottom of this post or directly on Rafflecopter HERE for more chances to win!

Remember to follow my blog HERE and follow me on Instagram HERE for TWO chances to win! We will be giving away one $200 TeachersPayTeachers card, one $200 Amazon card, and two Starbucks cards ($25 and $15). The raffle closes on Saturday, July 21 at 12 AM. Good luck! 

Looking to shop now? Search #schoolsavings on TpT for tons of products marked down to 50% off starting today until July 16! I'm discounting two of my favorite products...find them by clicking the links below or just visiting my store on TpT!

Build a RTI environment with ease using my Classroom Careers product, on sale for just $2.25. Celebrate your wedding in the classroom with the My Teacher Says, "I Do" Complete Bundle, a steal priced at $6.25.

If you follow me on Instagram, you already know that it's my favorite week of the summer...fair week! In honor of this, my farming and agriculture products are ON SALE. Grab my best selling unit HERE or try out some farming leveled readers HERE. They're both 20% until Sunday, July 16

Stay tuned next week for the first post in my "Back to School" series...until then, good luck and happy shopping! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

My Teacher's Getting Married!

Hey there! I've been on a bit of a hiatus from the blogging and TpT world, but for good reason...I'm planning my wedding! As some of you may know from following my Instagram, I’m getting married in just 34 days! It breaks my heart to tell my students  (both current and former) that they aren’t able to come to the wedding. I knew I wanted to have my students celebrate with me, so I’m in the process of planning a “school” wedding, using my newest product, My teacher says, "I DO!"! I’m hoping that my ideas might inspire you to have your own school wedding. Our celebration will take place this Friday, May 12. Be sure to watch my Instagram for updates! 

About a month ago, I picked a Friday in May to be our “school wedding” day, and had my fiancĂ© take a half day off from work to join in the celebration! I put the day on our morning meeting calendar and even had a paper chain countdown. About two weeks out, I sent home a letter to parents explaining my plans (included in this set). I later sent home simple invitations with my kiddos. Since we used a design from Etsy for our real wedding invitations, I simply edited this for our school wedding! The kids loved it.

To build up to the event, we completed writing and art activities each day that week. We also read some great books, including Congratulations, Miss Malarky! and Lily’s Big Day. This gave students an idea of what to expect for the big day, since many of them had never been to a wedding! We also made DIYbow ties and flower crowns.

On the big day, the kids – I mean, guests! – will arrive in their fanciest clothes. I'm planning to wear a white dress (dangerous, I know). We will spend the morning rotating around to different wedding themed centers. While the kids are hard at work, I will call them out one by one to take a picture with me at our DIY photo booth. I’ll be printing them out a copy of their photo to keep.

During the kids’ lunch, I'll be hustling to transform my classroom into a mini reception hall! I bought some cheap plastic tablecloths to cover our tables, put out some centerpieces, and set up a cupcake table.

I'm hoping the kids will be wowed when they return to our "reception venue," and know they'll be especially excited to see Mr. May. After eating a delicious cupcake, we'll turn on some kid-friendly music, and dance the afternoon away. I'll set out wedding coloring books for my non-dancing friends, and we'll even have a lollipop bouquet toss! At the end of our celebration, my students will present Mr. May with a book they'll make, called How to Live Happily Ever After

I've included all of these activies in my newest product, now available on TpT! If you're a teacher bride, or have a bride on your team, be sure to check it out. I've also divided the set into three mini versions for writing, art, and centers, which you can also find on my TpT!

And...just for you, here's a freebie sampler of the set! Enjoy, and happy wedding planning, teacher brides! Stay tuned for updates from my classroom's "wedding week"! 

Thank a Farmer (plus a FREEBIE!)

Check out this product on TpT!
Here in Ohio, we still have snow on the ground, but spring is just around the corner! March will be here before we know it, and with it, Agriculture Week! As a life-long 4-H volunteer and agriculture supporter, recognizing the hard work of our nation's farmers has always been very important to me. Though our farming families make up little under 2% of our population, these hard working Americans provide about 24 million jobs and, of course, food for our entire population. We are able to enjoy an abundant, affordable food supply, all thanks to the continuous efforts of our farmer friends.

As a 4-Her, I mostly showed rabbits, but I was able to learn about and work with many other species!
Growing up, I loved helping at my grandparents' beef cattle farm. I raised rabbits, chickens, and ducks on my own "mini farm" in the suburbs as a 4-Her. These experiences gave me so many valuable life lessons that I carry with me today. A sense of responsibility, a hard work ethic, and the desire to learn all started for me in 4-H. 

Unfortunately, most of my students don't have these farming experiences. In fact, each year when I ask where our corn, beef, and other food products come from, the most popular answer I hear is "Walmart." I love being able to partner with organizations like Farm Bureau and 4-H to show my students how their food gets from farm to table.  

Our Journeys reading series is the perfect start to this unit! Lesson 18 features an awesome non-fiction text, called Where Does Food Come From? This year, we are spending two weeks on this lesson to really dive into agriculture! By the end of our unit, my students will know exactly where their food comes from and which products are produced right here in Ohio. We will learn about crops and livestock by reading informational texts. We'll also join in the Thank A Farmer campaign by writing letters to our local farmers in appreciation for their hard work. 

Our unit will end with my favorite activity of the year...the Barnyard Olympics. The kiddos will put their knowledge to good use by becoming classroom farmers! We will play games to mimic what life is really like on the farm. After proving their knowledge with a quick agriculture assessment, they'll simulate milking a cow, gathering eggs, and herding swine. The Barnyard Olympics is a hit with my kids every year!

The "Dairy Queens and Kings" competition during The Barnyard Olympics
Each student will go home with a certificate and a sticker that says, "I competed in the Barnyard Olympics today!" to stimulate conversation at home. 

The "Swine Time" competition at The Barnyard Olympics
For more fun on the farm activities, be sure to follow me on Instagram. I'll be posting photos for the next two weeks about our barnyard activities! You can find my complete 132 page Thank a Farmer thematic unit (including directions and materials for your own Barnyard Olympics) here on TpT. My Farm Themed Leveled Readers and Comprehension Guides (included in the full set) are also available separately.

Sample the unit before you buy by downloading my sampler set HERE! Enjoy and happy farming!

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