We're off to the Winter Games!

Hey, all! Here in Ohio, we have a snow day today...so I finally have a chance to catch up on my blog! If you've been following my Instagram @fromsept2mrsmay, you know my class and I have been having so much fun getting ready for the 2018 Winter Olympics! 

I'm no athlete, but I've been obsessed with the Games since I was a little girl. My students feel the same! Back in my student teaching days, I realized that the Olympics are a perfect opportunity to connect real world interests with our academic standards. After piloting my ideas during the 2014 Games, I am thrilled to bring you my new, 114 page Winter Games Unit. This unit has all the tools you need to teach your students about the Winter Games. Even better, you'll download directions and printables to host a classroom version of the Winter Games. Trust me, your kids will go nuts!

A 44 page projectable read aloud with real photos and non-fiction text is included in unit!
We started off by learning some basics facts about the Winter Games. I teach first grade, so during the last Games, my students were just tiny tots. Their background knowledge is fairly limited because of this! Using my projectable read aloud, we learned about the first Winter Games and the background of the sporting competition. Did you know that the main goal of the Olympics is to "build a peaceful and better world"? Learning this only made me more excited to bring the Games to my classroom! 

Fact sheets (just like this one!) for each of the five sports and the Winter Games are included in the Unit.
For the next five days, my students and I explored different sports played during the games. We spent one day on each sport: ice skating, biathlon, ice hockey, curling, and bobsleigh. To keep things moving quickly (we had a lot to cover!), we followed the same activity structure each day:

1. While most of my students were familiar with ice skating and ice hockey, the remaining three sports were totally foreign to them. We started each day by watching Olympics coverage of the sport. Thank goodness for YouTube, right?! These short videos allowed my students to see for themselves what the sport actually looks like! 

2. From there, we jumped right into the projectable read aloud (included in the unit). Each sport has five slides of content, followed by discussion questions. My kiddos loved being able to see real photographs of the sports in action as they learned more about the games!

Discussion questions are a great way to move into our next project for the day - a comprehension guide!
3. With our read aloud fresh in our minds, we headed back to our seats to work on the matching comprehension guide. Early in the unit, we completed these questions together. As the kids got more comfortable with the format, I allowed them to work with a partner and finally individually on this task. These are great for comprehension assessment. I especially love to see their labeled drawings on these pages!

I print the comprehension guide and YouTube listening guide back to back to save paper!
4. The last part of our daily sports lesson is easily my favorite...the YouTube listening guide! Each guide has a link which leads to a carefully selected YouTube video. Students watch the video twice, then complete their listening guide. Again, we started off doing these guides whole group but then transitioned to small group, partners, and finally individually for assessment. The fill in the blank format aligns perfectly with the video and is an excellent comprehension check. 

YouTube listening guides are a crowd favorite in my classroom. Have you tried one?!
Keeping the same structure each day really helped my students take charge of their own learning. It wasn't long before they were asking to watch Olympics clips during indoor recess and as we waited for the buses each afternoon!

We ended the unit by creating our own Winter Games mini books. Two versions of this are included in my unit: one features fill in the blanks and the other leaves lines for students to write their own facts. In my first grade classroom, I used both versions for differentiation! This little wonder made my ELA and social studies grade books very happy. I love that my students are able to record their own learning and then share with family at home!

The other version of the mini book features blank lines for students to record their own facts.

We're looking to wrap up our mini books this week (if the weather cooperates!). But our fun isn't done yet...next week, all four first grade classrooms in my school have teamed up to host our own Winter Games! Again, we'll be using my Winter Games Unit for inspiration. As I mentioned before, the unit contains full directions and all the printables you need to hold your very own Winter Games, fit for the classroom.

One of my little athletes prepares for the speed skating competition.

No snow? No ice? No Team USA worthy equipment? No problem! My "Winter Games: Classroom Edition" events are all adapted, low cost, and perfect for the classroom...just add medals (find a class set or large 100 piece set on Amazon!).

I can't wait to show you all the fun we'll have at our Winter Games! Watch my Instagram @fromsept2mrsmay for more photos and videos.

Ready to bring the Winter Games to your classroom? You can access my full Winter Games Unit on TpT by clicking HERE. If you'd like to try before you buy, you can download the freebie version right HERE.


"I teach 3-5 special education and I love using real-world events to drive our instruction. I have been searching for quality Olympics units to use in my classroom and yours is perfect! I love that it's intensive, but the language is simplified and appropriate for some many different levels of learners. The read-aloud is my favorite part! This product is so awesome and I can't want to use it in February!" - Shirey Teaches SPED

"This is one of the best resources for the Winter Olympics! It gives great information in a variety of ways over a few sports involved in the games. It also provides a practical and fun way for kids to participate! Thank you!!" - Heather N.

"I noticed your preview and HAD to purchase this product! What a great and engaging way to help my first graders learn more about the Winter Games! I love all the features you have included (especially the adaptable activities) and I really think my students will enjoy researching the different sports. Many of my students have little prior knowledge of the Winter Games and I think this product is a great way to introduce the topic! I also LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the activity ideas for an actual classroom Winter Games! Let the games begin!!! You ROCK! :)" - Awttan I.

Are you learning about the Olympics at school? Drop your favorite resources in the comments below! 

Cyber Monday Steals on TpT (plus freebies and a giveaway!)

It's time to come out of that turkey coma...the TpT Cyber Sale is here! On November 27 and 28 only, you can get all your favorite teacher resources for just a fraction of the cost...just remember to enter the promo code CYBER17 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 credits...it's like getting paid to shop. If you're making some big ticket purchases (like me!), do this half way through your shopping, so you can use those credits on the second half of your wish list!

To celebrate the sale, I've compiled my list of top three TpT resources for the holiday season in the primary grades...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 NEW and BEST SELLING products from September to (Mrs.) May products, all 25% off for the TpT Cyber Sale November 27 and 28.

Homework Bingo Boards are the newest product line to drop in my store! These no prep sets have already revolutionized homework in my classroom. As I'm sure you may have read, research has shown that homework shows little to no benefit for elementary students. Still, I love to have a strong home-school connection. These bingo boards are the best of both worlds! Each is loaded with a bingo board with 24 holiday/seasonal choices, a half page editable letter to families, and five "Prove It" pages for accountability. I send these home on the first of the month, and they're due on the last day. With a mixture of good deed assignments, writing prompts, math games, simple crafts, and fun activities, I promise these print-and-go sets will be popular with kiddos and families alike! 

Already a fan of the Bingo Boards? This growing bundle is for you! You can grab it for a steal right now, and re-download each month as new calendars are added (don't worry, TpT will send you an email to remind you when something new is uploaded!). The final product will have 14 total Homework Bingo Boards. The price will creep up as more calendars are added, so buy now for the best deal! Just for my followers, I'm giving away my all new Homework Bingo Board: Elf Edition for FREE! All you need to do is shoot me an email at fromSept2MrsMay@gmail.com. I'll send you back this freebie right away!

My December Mini Unit Bundle is my best seller for the month of December. This no prep set contains non-fiction mini units on wants vs. needs, reindeer, and evergreens. I use this set each year for three weeks of cross curricular science and social studies units! Not ready to take the plunge? The individual mini units are available at the sale as well! You can also try out the freebie version here.

Hit your science standards with ease with this 21 page mini unit about evergreens! Leveled mini readers, book suggestions, activity pages, and a Fun Friday activity bring this set to life for little ones.

My 30 page wants & needs mini unit is the perfect cure for the Christmas "gimmes." I can't wait to share this set with my students this week, as it addresses many misconceptions they have! Read more about this set here.

You won't find Rudolph, Vixen, or Dasher in this set! While this science mini unit could be easily tied to Santa's favorite friends, it is inclusive of your students who do not celebrate Christmas as well. Learn all about caribou with 21 pages of science fun!

Here's what in my cart for the big sale...

I cannot wait to try Adopt a Gingerbread Baby from Firstieland this year! I tried her Adopt a Peep set last year and absolutely loved it. After reading Jan Brett's classic tale, a set of gingerbread babies (I found mine on Amazon here and here) will be delivered to my classroom for my kiddos to care for. They'll learn a valuable lesson in responsibility, and engage in adorably themed ELA activities along the way!

These math centers from Lucky Little Learners have been on my list for a while now. I'm guilty of not rotating out my centers often enough...I'm hoping this set will keep my students on track and engaged each month! With over 250 five star reviews, how could you go wrong?

The teacher author in me could not be more excited for this last buy...how cute are the fonts in this growing bundle from A Primary Kind of Life?! You'll be seeing them in my products soon!

Need some extra cash for the sale? For just a few more hours, you can get in on my TpT gift card giveaway by hopping over to my Instagram page. As a bonus, the winner will also score a free product of their choice from my store! And pssssst, don't forget that YOU can get my Homework Bingo Board: Elf Edition for free too, just by sending me an email at fromSept2MrsMay@gmail.com.

I'm sure to pick up much, much more at the sale...how about you? Drop your must have products in the comments below!

Black Friday Giveaway

Hey, there! I hope this post finds you resting up on your Thanksgiving break. Some of my teacher friends and I have joined together to bring you a giveaway...just in time for Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales! Hop on over to my Instagram (@fromsept2mrsmay) for all the details. Happy Thanksgiving!

Students Give a Hoot About Science

Fall is officially in full swing! If you've been following along with me on my Instagram page, you know that this is one of my favorite times of the year, thanks to my fall mini unit series. Between assemblies, start of the year data collection, field trips, and other fall festivities, I find that I don't have a whole lot of time to prep during the months of October and November, which makes these no prep mini units the perfect solution. Best of all, they are integrated to touch on several subject areas at once!

Grab the full bundle on TpT HERE...on sale until 11/1/17!

Last week, my students became ornithologists with my All About Owls mini unit. Thanks to Donors Choose, we were able to end the week with an incredible owl pellet dissection. Even without the help of donations from community members, this project is definitely achievable even on a teachers budget! It's a lesson that's sure to stick with your students throughout their year with you and beyond. 

I begin the unit by giving each student a piece of scrap paper and a set of Crayolas. They are instructed to listen and draw what they hear. Without any further instruction, I play an audio clip from YouTube of different owl sounds, making sure that my students cannot see the screen for any clues. After about five minutes, I pause the track and we share what we've heard. Many students will correctly guess that we are listening to owls, but it is very silly to hear their other, more inventive ideas! 

Without further ado, we launch into our owl study by starting a KWL chart. We record what we already know, and what we what to know about owls. We keep this chart up for the remainder of the study, being careful to remember to address any misconceptions we may have had in the "K" column, answering our questions from the "W" section, and recording new information under "L."

We begin our learning with a book from one of my favorite non-fiction authors, Gail Gibbons. This text is jammed packed with information and amazing diagrams, so it's best to split up over several readings. My students will also be given their own leveled readers to practice reading on their own or with a partner. These books are kept in their book boxes to revisit during independent reading time. A comprehension guide is a great assessment piece for their reading grade, as well!

We fill the middle of the week with more no prep learning activities. We label the owl, create a drawing of an owl's habitat, record facts, compare owls to other birds, and reflect upon educational videos. I'm always amazed with the sheer volume of facts my little ornithologists learn in just a week! Did you know that an owl can hear a mouse run across a pile of leaves from 75 feet away? A group of owls is called a parliament! The smallest owl is only five inches tall. There's so much to learn about owls!

The highlight of this mini unit, of course, is the owl pellet dissection. For those of you who aren't yet familiar with an owl's digestive system, know first that owls swallow their prey whole. They cannot, however, digest all they swallow. A special part of their digestive system, the gizzard, compacts these items - hair, fur, bones - and creates an pellet, which the owl expels from its body by regurgitating it. Isn't nature amazing?

I go back to our non-fiction text, which informs us about the diet and digestive system of owls. We make predictions about what we might possibly find in an owl pellet. We then watch the first part of this video for some more information, pausing before the actual dissection. This is the "and the crowd goes wild" part of the lesson...I reveal to my firsties that they are going to be performing this scientific experiment themselves, and they can't contain their excitement!

Using the observation guide from my mini unit and this handy (FREE!) bone guide makes this experiment incredibly engaging and educational for students as young as PreK. I was fortunate enough to utilize incredible materials from Donors Choose, however, I have completed this project with Dollar Store materials in the past. The most important elements are owl pellets (I found mine on Amazon here, but there are cheaper options available!) and paper plates. I prefer to have one owl pellet per two students, but larger groups of 3-5 can have success with this as well, if your funds are limited. Fun extras like tweezers and magnifying glasses can be found at the Dollar Store, but aren't completely necessary.

Following the step by step directions including on our observation guide, we observe the outside of the pellet before carefully splitting it open with our fingers. We then peep in to study the structure of the pellet, and notice anything unusual or surprising. We record our observations carefully as we go...after all, scientists always share the results of their experiments with the world! Finally, it's time to completely dissect the pellet, carefully studying the bones. We make predictions about what the owl may have eaten based on what we find.

For three days only (ending November 1, 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, Spotted Owl interactive fact sheet, owl labeling activity, a fact sheet, compare and contrast Venn diagram, report pages, a story problem activity, and owl math riddles. You'll also find directions for a fun art activity and the titles and authors of my favorite owl 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 fall mini units for the price of just three marked down to a record low price! But hurry...this deal won't last long. These no prep, print and go sets make planning during this hectic time of the year a breeze. Download your new mini unit today!

Costume 101: Teacher Edition

No time? Limited funds? We’ve got you covered.

The thought of a school Halloween party can be stressful...kids with fangs and masks on a sugar high can add up to be a teacher’s worst nightmare. Still, I absolutely love this time of year both inside and outside of the classroom! There’s no better time than Halloween to show to your school (and the community!) just how on point your squad is. Costumes are always more fun in a group, and they’re a fun way to show off your creativity while relating to your students.

Are you already stressed about the month of October? Check out my no prep fall mini units featuring bones, leaves, owls, and spiders and give yourself a much needed break!

I have to brag about my team here for a minute...these girls keep me going! Whether we’re in the guided reading trenches or planning for our annual talent show, my squad keeps me motivated and laughing at all times. Here are our costumes from over the years, with some DIY tips on my particular costumes!

Candy Land

Dressing as the characters from one of the kids’ favorite games is an easy go-to costume. This idea can be stretched or shrunk depending on the size of your team. This year, I was Queen Frostine. My friend Jesica at From Bow to Toe made me this fabulous tutu adorned with tiny snowflakes. I added a coordinating long sleeve tee and some leggings for warmth, dug out a crown from my days in pageantry, and fashioned a wand out of a pointer I had in my classroom. The whole school will know just how sweet you are in these adorable costumes!

50s Chicks

We had so much fun with this fashion throwback! This photo is actually from our 50th Day of School celebration, but could easily be a cute Halloween costume. This idea can also be adapted for your favorite decade. I used this easy tutorial to fashion a felt poodle skirt. Paired with a top I already owned, cute glasses, and a silk scarf, I was ready to rock and roll!

101 Dalmatians + Cruella

Your team won’t be hard to spot in this look! Gather up a villain and 101 of your teacher friends, and you’ll have a costume the kids love. This is by far the most cost effective costume option I’m sharing with you today. We glued scraps of felt onto oversize white tees for our shirts, fashioned dog collars out of ribbon, and made ears with Dollar Store headbands and more felt. Paired with black leggings and an eyeliner nose, this look is simple and cheap! Plus, you can reuse these costumes for your 101 Day of School Celebration! Everyone will be wowing at how PAWsome your team looks in these simple costumes.

The Four Seasons

When our team whittled down to just four, the seasons were an easy solution for our Halloween needs (can you tell we are all about pairing oversized tees with leggings?!). This year, I was summer. I used puff paint to decorate my top and sewed on sunflowers from the clearance bin at Michael’s. My sunshine head piece was simply a foam visor (99 cents at the craft store) with more foam glued on. This look shows your kiddos that your team is united, no matter what the season!

Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz is a timeless classic that can accommodate many group sizes. Of course, we went with the key characters of the wicked witch, the cowardly lion, the tin man, the scarecrow, and Dorothy. I took on the role Dorothy this year, and wore one of my favorite DIY costumes. Using this simple, new sew tutorial, I had my costume ready in under an hour. After making my skirt, top, and shoes, I simply added a white long sleeve top for warmth and a basket with Toto (borrowed from one of my team members). Sporting these cute looks, you'll follow the yellow brick road to all the Reece’s you can eat!

Still trying to find an idea? Let your students decide! Click here for a fun freebie. Your students will complete a writing prompt to help you decide on your Halloween costume! So cute.

What’s your favorite costume? What look are you planning for this year? Sound off in the comments below...I’m always looking for new ideas!

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 result...so 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!
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