Where the Magic Happens: 2017

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Seven Great Activities for The Tale of Despereaux

Hey, hey!

Among the read alouds that I do with my students, we always enjoy and learn SO much from The Tale of Despereaux by Cate DiCamillo. We always love the bravery and cheesy lines of Despereaux being in love. Ha!

I always begin decorating the classroom the day before, right after the children leave. I never tell them about the big celebration that awaits... and that is because I love surprises. And I also love to give my students the opportunity to go beyond the book and truly experience the characters and the message of such a well crafted story.
So let me show you a bit of how I do it:

I place these quotes around the classroom. I use Dollar Tree little stands. These quotes have so much meaning, we discuss them and talk about the craft used by this author and how her words truly show a great story of compassion and forgiveness.

I also recruit my classroom parents to help me hang this bunting banner to welcome my students to "Despereaux Day."

We make this "Castle Dor" craftivity that we use to determine the lesson in the story and words that we use to describe Pincess Pea and Despereaux based on text evidence.

How about these intentional accordions  that we use to review character traits based on text evidence.  There are accordions also for Miggery Sow, The Jailer, Roscuro, and many more!

While we do the read aloud, vocabulary is a huge teaching point. Every story by Cate DiCamillo is an anchor for tier 2 vocabulary. So rich and and well written. We make these "vocabulary soup" frayer models and tape them to our door. We are known to be experts!

You know how Despereaux goes down to the dungeon in spool of thread? Well, I figured that is the perfect reason for a well thought STEM activity. With the proper guidance and support, the students build a pulley using some common household materials... they also use a shoe! They work in pairs and use a STEM mat to design, plan, try, and succeed.

And what is a celebration without treats? Well, I came up with the idea of Despereaux cups and Princess Pea-CH soup.
The Pea-CH cups are made with peach nectar, Sprite, and peach cups. The Despereaux cups are super easy to make and they are a student favorite. I always check for any food allergies ahead of time.

If you are reading The Tale of Despereaux or are planning on reading it, you may want to celebrate as well! You can find these activities in my "The Tale of Despereaux Day" pack on TPT.

Thank for stopping by teacher friends! Until next time!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

15 September Math Centers for 1st Grade

Hey, hey, hey!
So THAT was what I call a break from blogging. Ha! I chill harder than anyone I know.
I have had many request for a BUILD  math centers bundle for first grade.
I figured most of us start school in late July and/or early August, and it really takes about 2 to three weeks to establish routines and get our math workshop running. September is such a pretty month too, with all the apples and Johnny Appleseed. So it seems that September is the "right" month to get started full sail with math rotations and guided math.

So What's included??
These are the first grade math  instructional activities and Common Core standards that you can find in this September math centers pack:

1. Odd and even apple sort. --> CCS 1.NBT.A.1
2. 2-D Shape Picking --> 1.G.A.1
3. Independent work printables --> 1.OA.B.4, 1.NBT.A.1, 1.OA.D.8, 1.OA.C.6
4. “Where does the Apple Go?” Ones, tens, and hundreds. {to 121} --> 1.NBT.A.1, 1.NBT.B.2.A
5. 3 CGI type word problems Interactive notebook pages --> 1.OA.1
6. Apple Fact Families --> 1.OA.C.5, 1.OA.C.6
7. Shape sort {cut and paste} --> 1.G.A.1
8. Independent work printables--> 1.NBT.A.1, 1.OA.C.6, 1.NBT.B.3
9. Apple Number Order Task Cards --> 1.NBT.A.1
10. 3 CGI type word problems Interactive notebook pages --> 1.OA.1
11. Adding and Subtracting Scoot--> 1.OA.C.6, 1.OA.C.5
12. Shapes Scarecrow mathtivity --> 1.G.A.1
13. Independent work printables--> 1.OA.B.4, 1.NBT.B.2.A, 1.NBT.B.2, 1.NBT.B.2.B,
14. Ordering apples QR codes --> 1.NBT.A.1
15. 3 CGI type word problems Interactive notebook pages --> 1.OA.1

Come and take a closer look:

*Odd and even sorting activity:

*Fact families to 20

*Geometry cut and past sort. Students make their own rules to classify 2D shapes.

*A fun game of addition and subtraction (to 20) scoot:

* Interactive notebook pages with CGI word problems.

*QR codes:

*Place value:

These Math centers based on BUILD  are for sale in my TPT shop.
You may also be interested in the 2nd grade math centers based on BUILD.

Much love and good vibes!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Cutest, Simplest, Mother's Day Craft

I hope the end of the school year is not kicking your hiney. Lort! This time of the year is so so hectic and busy.
For many years I have had a tendency to immerse myself in my teaching... and truly not take care of my self. Please don't do that! Learn from my mistakes! Try to find a happy medium.

A couple of weeks ago I was thinking hard about what to make with my second graders for Mother's Day without breaking the bank.
How's this for a great idea??  This Mother's Day craft is PERFECT for elementary student and will not break the bank!


  • Tiles from Lowe's. I believe that each tile was 77 cents.
  • Bags of  peanut M&M's. $1.19 ea.
  • One small bottle of Modge Podge.
  • A painter's brush from Lowes.
  • Sharpie markers.
  • Cute crafting/sorting buttons
  • Twine
It took me (and my sweet DBo) a total of three days to complete the final product. Not full days though. Lol! I truly can make better use of my instructional time. It was more like an hour on each of the three days. 
Easy peasy lemon squeezy!
Until next time!!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Cause & Effect {Text relationships}

Hey hey!
So my sweet friend Carla from Comprehension Connection was too sweet to invite me to be a part of this fun spring linky. Since Earth Day is just around the corner, I figured I would tell you what I did this past week with my 2nd graders to keep things intentional while tackling relevant content area standards.

Whole Group

Earth Day offers the perfect content to teach text relationships, specially cause and effect. As we usually do with a reading strategy,  we begin by explaining what the strategy is, how it works, and why it is important. I opt for small, quick leveled, relevant  projectable texts that allow me to model and contextualize the strategy.

This was the informational text that we projected and learned from. I guess you can call it a mentor text. :)

Then we learned about the strategy.

Modeling and contextualizing the strategy using the text and of course... a Thinking Map!

ALWAYS, I connect our standards and reading strategies to a written response. #hellomclass

We follow these steps to answer our written responses.

These are  other mentor texts that I used this past week to celebrate Earth Day!

A Freebie!

And now let's get to the BEST part! If you would like to snatch this awesome Earth Day close reading. You may click HERE!
If you would like to take a look at my other content based close reads, you may click HERE!
And that is my secret word: recycling.

I hope you got some new ideas to take back to your own classroom! Come and read what my Reading Crew buddies wrote about  and do not forget to enter this awesome giveaway FULL of awesome mentor texts!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

15 Great Spring Math Centers for 2nd Grade

Heeeey my teacher friends!
Long time no see. I know it. I have missed writing on my little blog SO much. But life has a funny way to show you what is really important. I truly have stuck with what I love most: My family.
We are all moved in into our new home and could not be happier and grateful. The boys are settled in as well, and we will be moving my sweet N. to the local middle school in the fall.

Have I told you how much I am loving 2nd grade? I love it for many reasons:

  • The new grade level colleagues are very nice. What you see is what you get and I value that in people. 
  • My students (many from last year) are my family away from my family. I love them so much.
  • My students' families are out of this world kind and generous. They are SO involved and always so willing to lend a hand when I need one.
  • The content. Oh boy the content! So much fun to teach.
  • Moving a to a new grade level has given me the opportunity to be better, to learn more, to dig deeper in areas that I never thought of. Specially math. More specifically word problems.

Speaking of math... I am almost done completing the whole BUILD math centers for 2nd grade bundle. As a matter of fact let me show you what's inside the April BUILD math centers for 2nd grade pack:

I have told you how BUILD is a great rotation system that targets different mathematical dimensions and provides a perfect structure for guided math. Haven't I? If not, let me just show you:

B: Buddy Games
U: Using manipulatives
I: Independent work
L: Learning about numbers
D: Doing math

This April BUILD math centers for 2nd grade contains 15 different math activities, they are divided into 3 rounds which will allow you to mix and match during the WHOLE month to target some important concepts. That's what I call responsive teaching: moving our students forward with intention and precision. 


1. Odd and Even eggs in a basket (three digit addition and subtraction) --> CCS 2.NBT.B.7, 2.OA.C.3

2.Easter eggs coin combinations --> CCS. 2.MD.C.8 (Contains answer sheet)

3. 4 printables --> CCS 2.NBT.5, 2.MD.C.7, 2.MD.C.8, 2.NBT.8

4. Comparing Number sentences using >, <, = --> CCS 2.OA.B.2, 2.NBT.A.3 2.NBT.A.4, 2.NBT.B.5 (contains answer sheet)

5. 4 CGI type word problems Interactive notebook pages --> 2.OA.A.1, 2.NBT.7, 2.MD.C.6, 2.NBT.B.6


6. Caterpillar Addition --> CCS 2.NBT.B.6 (Contains answer sheet)

7. Easter money riddles CCS--> 2.MD.C.8 (contains answer sheet)

8. Independent work printables. CCS --> 2.NBT.A.2, 2.NBT.B.8, 2.MD.C.8

9. Easter arrangements --> CCS 2.MD.C.4

10. 4 CGI type word problems Interactive notebook pages. CCS--> 2.OA.A.1, 2.NBT.7, 2.MD.C.6, 2.NBT.B.6


11. Part - Part - Whole task cards. CCS--> 2.NBT.B.7

12. caterpillar Inches ad Centimeteres. CCS--> 2.MD.2, 2.MD.9

13. Independent work printables. CCS--> 2.GA.1, 2.G.2, 2.G.3, 2.NBT.B.6

14. 2nd grade skills task cards CCS--> 2.NBT.A.1, 2.NBT.A.3, 2.NBT.A.5

15. 4 CGI type word problems Interactive notebook pages --> CCS 2.OA.A.1
2.NBT.B.7, 2.NBT.B.6


16. 5 choice boards for fast finishers/high achievers with challenge and extension activities.

I organize them like this:

My students always get too excited when there is a new round coming up. Sweeties!

And now are you ready for the FREEBIE?

You can snatch this cute BUT intentional math center from my TPT store. This caterpillar addition center will help your students adding up to 4 2-digit numbers, creating benchmark numbers, and practicing the associative property of addition.  You can grab it by clicking ---> HERE!

Oh and just to help you a bit with a super engaging and fun learning activity that we did in our little classroom a few weeks ago when I introduced adding up to 4 2-digit numbers. We used dry erase markers, sticky notes, and Popsicle sticks to make the <, >, = signs. The best part? That my kiddos got to write on their tables. Boy! They LOVE that!

OK teacher friends I have to get going... I need to paint a piece of furniture. I will be back to blogging later in the week with a "somewhat" political post. I'm scared!
And don't forget: We are SO blessed to work in education!!

Until next time,