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My Favorite St. Patrick's Day Read Alouds


I'm half-Irish, so St. Patrick's Day has always been a favorite holiday for me. I love sharing parts of it with my students each year and using these read alouds not only incorporates parts of the holiday, but discusses lessons and character traits in a fun, engaging way.

If you want a very informative, but kid-friendly history to St. Patrick's Day, Gail Gibbons' book is a great go-to. Eve Bunting is another familiar author, and her book does not disappoint. Playing on some of the traditions and superstitions, The Night Before St. Patrick's Day is a festive play on the familiar Christmas rhyme. And a new addition you may not have heard of, Discovery in the Woods is part one of a three-part series written by a retired teacher.

To extend these read alouds, be sure to see my holiday Word Work, Did You Know? Facts, Writing Prompts, QR Math activities, Brain Breaks, and more in my TpT Store HERE.  There are also some great technology links for St. Patrick's Day HERE, and be sure to check the additional links at the bottom of that page for even more holiday-themed tech ideas!

To read more about these books, simply click on any of the covers below. Each will link you directly to its page on Amazon where you can preview the inside, read the reviews, and find similar titles. 

Click away: 

Image Map


I hope this list gives you lots of ideas for read alouds for this festive holiday. Here's wishing you a Happy St. Patrick's Day. Be sure to let me know of any additional titles in the comments below. I would love to add to this collection!


Student Reflection Sheet for Parent-Teacher Conferences


Our school hosts two parent-teacher conferences each year: one in mid-October and one in early March. The first conference is set up as a "goal setting" conference and the one we're in the middle of now is all around yearly progress, wrapping up the year, and even thinking into peer groups for next year. It seems crazy to think we're already in the last trimester!

While we don't have students sitting in conferences with us, I do want them to have their voice represented in some way. During October conferences, since they have only been with me about a month, I give them a very basic sheet that you can find HERE.

For Spring Conferences, however, I want this to be more in-depth and more reflective of the work we have been doing, both in the classroom at-large and in our writing time. 


The first two parts are meant to be written in short paragraph form, with strong reasons as to the "why" of their answer. We have practiced this kind of writing with my Writing Prompts throughout the year, so it's a familiar format.

Before we begin, I brainstorm projects and topics on the board so they have some guidance and can reference these words as they write. This also gives them a chance to orally plan (as well as listen to others do so) as they suggest ideas and give reasons.

The third section asks about peer groups for the next year when they go off to fourth. While I have a good idea of who they work well with in my own classroom, I love gaining additional insight into students in other rooms, as well as learn more about the "why" for each name they choose. This list also gives me some talking points with parents at conferences.... sometimes kids have been put into separate classes for a reason!

The final question is for any odds-and-ends the students would like to add. It's often about checking out a piece of writing hanging in the hallway, or looking at their work displayed in the classroom. I also leave the back blank so they can draw a picture or add on to any of the sections if they run out of room.

I have made this reflection sheet grade-neutral, so if you would like to use it in your own classroom, click HERE

Happy Conference season!

My Favorite Valentine's Day Read Alouds


This is my first Valentine's Day as a singleton, having just gotten divorced late last year, so I think you'll find that these titles will make you laugh and giggle since I am determined to keep my spirits up during this time. Plus, there are some spectacularly clever books around this holiday, so I'm hoping you'll discover some new titles for your own collection.

If you haven't yet read Somebody Loves You, Mr Hatch, go read it immediately! This has always been my go-to, and there is even a wonderful read aloud version available on Storyline Online HERE, read by none other than Hector Elizondo! It's a perfect way to share this book with your class if you can't get your hands on a copy.

The rest of these books help teach great lessons around kindness, inclusion, caring, and more, but in new, unique, and engaging ways. The characters alone (zombies, Crankenstein, Mr. Goat) are a hit with both boys and girls, and the extra onomatopoeia practice in Groggle's Monster Valentine are a fun grammar lesson just waiting to happen. I'm including a chapter book in this list, too. My kids love the Geronimo Stilton books with the cartoons, wacky fonts, and quick-paced story lines, and I love seeing them hooked into such a great series. 

To extend these read alouds, be sure to see my holiday Word Work, Did You Know? Facts, Writing Prompts, QR Math activities and more in my TpT Store HERE.  There are also some great technology links for Valentine's Day HERE, and be sure to check the additional links at the bottom for even more holiday-themed tech ideas!

To read more about these books, simply click on any of the covers below. Each will link you directly to its page on Amazon where you can preview the inside, read the reviews, and find similar titles. 

Click away here: 

Image Map


I hope this list gives you lots of ideas for read alouds for this lovely time of year. Here's wishing you a wonderful Valentine's Day. Be sure to let me know of any additional titles in the comments below. I would love to add to this collection!

Exploring Erin Condren's Academic Planner & More...

I am a huge fan of all things Erin Condren, so whenever they give me the opportunity to review a new product, I jump at the chance!


What I love about all of her products is how she combines the simplicity with function and tons of style. I have also found that her products can be adjusted to fit nearly any possible scenario, as in the new Academic Planner that has recently launched!

Academic Planner

This planner is dateless and runs for six months, so it can be used for any year and any grading system (trimester, semester, etc.). I received the rose gold in Art Deco Metallic and it is stunning!

Here are some inside peeks:




Because there is so much flexibility with these planners, I am thinking about using them to track reading groups and individual reading progress during Teacher Time. When we meet in small groups, I can track our progress in the book we are studying, make notes about each student, and think about upcoming due dates. Although our grading and report cards are done online, I am still one of those people who NEEDS to handwrite anything if I want it to stick. This will be a perfect place to jot notes and keep these ideas in an easy-to-find place.

I'm putting my students' names under "Class" and notes and observations under "Assignment". Any follow-up or extra notation I can put in the last column if I need to. Because this is already organized by day and by month, I anticipate it will be much easier to keep track of progress and follow-up than my sometimes random system on GoogleDocs or on my notes pages that require me to sort and date.

Of course, this would also be the perfect gift for a student in your life. I was obsessed with academic planners way back in my high school days, and something like this would have been beyond perfect!

Other Goodies

I was also sent some familiar favorites and new products pictured below.



The top picture shows the "New You" bundle that is a great way to get your hands on a lot of fun products for a discounted price.

As usual, the items that jumped out at me right away, and are also getting great use in my classroom, are the writing tools! I have been obsessed with EC's wet erase markers and to see four new shades made me squeal! I was afraid they would be too light-- I use them on my class calendar and found their tips to be very sturdy for writing all sorts of things-- but I was pleasantly surprised how vibrant the colors are!


The other thing that caught my attention were the dual-tipped markers. I had to try them out right away and absolutely love them! The fine tip is a bit finer than a Flair maker, while the medium tip is more like a thin Crayola marker. Plus, the colors themselves are just perfect!


The new sticker book is also beautiful and includes a lot of metallic, which is just such a beautiful way to spruce up everything from your Life Planner, to Teacher Planner, to notes you write to friends or families.

Overall, I couldn't be happier with this new line of products designed to make our lives more organized, but by staying so stylish and functional along the way. Thanks to Erin Condren for sending me these goodies to try and be sure to see all of these and more HERE. To read more about how I use her products in my classroom and life, click HERE.

For $10 off your first Erin Condren order, click HERE.


My Favorite Winter Holiday Read Alouds

I think this is, by far, the hardest collection to narrow down to just nine books. There are so many amazing read alouds centered around this time of year, and on every holiday and tradition, that you are rarely at a loss for good literature!

I have tried to narrow this down to some of my favorites you may not have heard of in hopes of giving you even more meaningful moments with your classroom this month. My favorites remain the Grinch and Polar Express, but by third grade, these are familiar favorites and I like to branch out a bit to keep these read alouds fresh.

I am fortunate to work in a school where we teach about the many holidays that are celebrated this time of year, starting in Kindergarten. It has been so heartwarming to hear my daughter come home and share some of the details with me, so I know she'll be a fan of some of these titles as well, especially Olive, the Other Reindeer.

Because I teach third, I tried branching out to incorporate some longer pieces (An Orange for Frankie), as well as a thought-provoking piece about Hanukkah that blends humor with the important fact that is is not a "Jewish Christmas"; The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming is a hoot, but also teaches a lot about this unique holiday and its lessons in a highly-engaging way!

To extend these read alouds, be sure to see my holiday Word Work, Brain Breaks, Writing Prompts, QR Math activities and more in my TpT Store HERE.  There are also some great technology links for Winter Holidays HERE, and be sure to check the additional links at the bottom for even more holiday-themed tech ideas!

To check out these books, simply click on any of the book covers below. Each book cover will link you directly to its page on Amazon where you can look inside, read the reviews, and find similar titles. 

Click away here: 

Image Map


I hope this list gives you lots of ideas for read alouds for these diverse holidays. Here's wishing you a wonderful December and holiday season. Be sure to let me know of any additional titles in the comments below. I would love to add to this collection!

Monthly Thoughts: November


As we head into the busy holiday season, I'm excited to be continuing this series on my blog called "Monthly Thoughts".

Each month this school year, I will be uploading a clickable PDF themed around that month. There will be twenty ideas on that page that will link you to a post, idea, resource, freebie, quote, etc. from my blog or store. Each month will be a new collection of ideas, both old and new, and I hope it will help make the school year and planning easier to navigate.

Be sure to download the calendar page from my TpT Store HERE each month when it's released. It's a clickable PDF, so you will be redirected to my blog, TpT Store, or another website for all of the information when you click the small image.

While I have themed many of the months around holiday items, there are also plenty of ideas geared towards other academic areas, like nonfiction, getting ready for state tests, and more. And if these don't align with your own scope and sequence, hopefully a few can add to your bag of tricks when you do cover those topics in your own classroom.

Today I'm offering the calendar of November, which you can find in my TpT Store HERE.

Monthly Thoughts: November

Click the image to be taken to the free download on TpT HERE.

As with many of the holidays throughout the year, you can find coordinating Word Work and Writing Prompts, as well as QR Codes for math computation practice, Brain Breaks and Technology Resources for the season, and thought-provoking Did You Know? Facts.

You can also find the link to some of my favorite read alouds for this time of year, especially for the middle-elementary grades who may be looking for a new twist on a classic holiday.

I start delving into nonfiction in November every year, so I have linked up some of my favorite go-to resources to help including my Nonfiction Text Features packet, QR Code questions, and Strategy Posters and Brochures to help address as many angles of nonfiction as possible.

It's also a great time to get kids up and moving around, especially with the darker mornings and cooler temperatures. Try my Monster Math activities to keep kids moving,  thinking, and solving, all at the same time!

There's plenty more, so take your pick and click away to find more information on any and all of the images you see.

Download HERE and enjoy! I hope these ideas will get you excited for the school year ahead!


My Favorite Thanksgiving Read Alouds


It's hard to believe that Thanksgiving is already around the corner! It has been unseasonably warm and exceptionally beautiful this fall here in Colorado. I'm definitely looking forward to celebrating this holiday with family and good food.

November is such a choppy month when it comes to schoolwork. We're off to honor Veterans Day, then we have a week off for Thanksgiving, so I like to have small, mini-units to help keep the energy and momentum up. Try my Thanksgiving Word Work, Writing Prompts, Technology Resources, QR Critters and more if you're looking for ways to incorporate this day into your month. I also love sharing these great picture books that cover a variety of topics and include both fiction and nonfiction.

Thanksgiving can be about both about the feelings of gratitude and the actual historical account of what happened. By third grade, I am willing and wanting to explore the myths surrounding the holiday, all in an age-appropriate way, of course. It's important to share some of these truths and they prompt some great class discussions. Thankfully, authors have done the important work, so I can just grab some great texts and get to work!

To check out these books, simply click on any of the book covers below. Each book cover will link you directly to its page on Amazon where you can look inside, read the reviews, and find similar titles. 

Click away here: 

< Image Map


I hope this list gives you lots of ideas for read alouds for this exciting holiday. Here's wishing you a wonderful November and entry into the holiday season. Be sure to let me know of any additional titles in the comments below. I would love to add to this collection!

#SmartTeachingTips with Scholastic's Storyworks Jr.

I am excited to be sharing some great resources with you today, all brought to you by Scholastic and their Storyworks Jr. magazine!

As you know, I am a fan of Scholastic News magazines for incorporating easy, quick, and purposeful nonfiction lessons throughout the year. Not only are the kids engaged with the photos, articles, and videos, I'm able to cover a lot of standards in small, manageable chunks.

So imagine my excitement when Scholastic reached out to me to help them spread the word about their language arts magazine, Storyworks Jr.!

From Scholastic:
Turn your growing readers into fluent readers with the exciting multi-genre language arts magazine made for grades 2 & 3! Every issue features thrilling nonfiction, fiction, read-aloud plays, quizzes, skills sheets, and more to help third graders go from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” Go online for even more exceptional support including dazzling videos and differentiation tools. Grades 2–3, Monthly.

I was amazed by the sheer quantity of pieces in this magazine! Everything from fiction to nonfiction (even narrative nonfiction!) and plays, to paired texts, opinion pieces, vocabulary, and more. 

While I do love delving into authentic literature in Reader's Workshop, the standards require that students utilize more than just the skills learned in chapter books, so this was a welcome resource in my class. 

Paired Text Lesson Plan


Paired texts are huge in third grade, both in standards and testing. But, wow, are they challenging to find in unique and engaging formats. What I loved about the paired text in this month's edition was the Then & Now focus on exploration; both the dangers of ship exploration (and the gross difficulties they encountered!) and today's current space exploration. 

I have a range of readers in my classroom, but I found that my kids were all engaged equally, thanks to the high-interest facts and detailed photos and text features that accompanied this text. There was also a host on online resources we used later to write about our thinking, but to begin, we read this as a class while each student had their copy and I used our projector to show the full image.


I had students head back to their seats after we did a read aloud and underline the key words and phrases that defined each "then" and "now" section. 


I then passed out plain notecards, and two images I printed from the computer for each student: one of Magellan's ship and the other of Mars. They glued one image on each side of the card and we came back to the rug to share our key words.


On the rug together, a student would share out a key word, like "rover", and students would need to show me the image on the card that matched the word. Other key words included hardtack, sawdust, astronauts, and more. 



Some words and phrases, like "took many years" or "discovery" made us stop and pause. Some kids flipped their cards back and forth to show both and it was a good intro into our class-made chart. Since I can't make two circles for a Venn Diagram to save my life, we completed this one instead:


And of course, the final question was, "Which type of explorer would you rather be?" which yielded a mixed bag, although most sided with current space exploration. Our conversations were lively around who wouldn't mind eating sawdust and sailing on an ocean for years, too. The kids were hooked!

After this whole-class experience, I was grateful to have so many online resources provided at the Storyworks Jr. website to use to delve even deeper with my students. Close Reading, vocabulary, and reading responses are all important skills that we need to practice all year long, so to have these ready-made not just for this article, but for every piece in the magazine, was a huge bonus.


Even though this lesson is over, my kids still love this magazine. A group of students took it outside at recess one day to read through the play, we used the narrative nonfiction (which is always a challenging genre for me to find on-level) to discuss a different style of nonfiction, and we even looked at their infographic on tails when we discussed animal adaptations for our research project. 

I highly recommend this magazine for your classroom if you're looking for a variety of texts in different genres, all with supporting audio, video, and writing activities. 

Smart Teaching Tips Contest


Scholastic Magazines is hosting a #SmartTeachingTips contest for teachers to develop your own creative ideas on how to incorporate Scholastic Magazines into the classroom!

You could win a $200 gift card from the Scholastic Teacher Store!
Share your #SmartTeachingTips for how you use Scholastic magazines creatively in your classroom. Tell us about it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram, and include a photo or video. Be sure to use #SmartTeachingTips. 

Three winners will be chosen based on outstanding creativity. Each winner will receive a $200 gift card to the Scholastic Teacher store. We’re excited to see your ideas! Follow Scholastic Teachers on social media to learn more.

More Exciting Offers from Scholastic


Printables – 30 Day Free Trial

Scholastic Printables offer teachers full access to our online database of over 20,000 amazing activities, engaging lesson plans, and other incredible teacher-created resources for grades PreK-6. Try it free for 30 days by clicking here.

Scholastic Magazines - Promotional Code
Scholastic Magazines are the most affordable and exciting way to bring current, curriculum connected nonfiction into your classroom. To save 40%, mention code “2905” when ordering. Call 1-800-SCHOLASTIC or visit www.scholastic.com/magazines.

Good luck on the contest and enjoy these great offers from Scholastic!


{Disclosure: This post was done in partnership with Scholastic Magazines and I only share what I use and love in my own classroom.} 

Monthly Thoughts: October

Being knee-deep in the first trimester of this school year as well as trying to keep up with my passion of teacher-blogging, I'm realizing that the posts and ideas I have are so scattered across my blog and TpT Store, it's sometimes hard to find information. I'm excited to be continuing this series on the blog called "Monthly Thoughts" to help solve this dilemma.

At the end of each month this school year, I will be uploading a clickable PDF themed around the upcoming month. There will be twenty ideas on that page that will link you to a post, idea, resource, freebie, quote, etc. from my blog or store. Each month will be a new collection of ideas, both old and new, and I hope it will help make the school year and summertime planning easier to navigate.

Be sure to download the calendar page from my TpT Store HERE each month when it's released. It's a clickable PDF, so you will be redirected to my blog, TpT Store, or another website for all of the information when you click the small image.

While I have themed many of the months around holiday items, there are also plenty of ideas geared towards other academic areas, like nonfiction, getting ready for state tests, and more. And if these don't align with your own scope and sequence, hopefully a few can add to your bag of tricks when you do cover those topics in your own classroom.

Today I'm offering the calendar of one of my most favorite months, October, which you can find in my TpT Store HERE.

Monthly Thoughts: October

Be sure to click the image to be taken to this free download in my TpT Store.

My favorite holiday, Halloween, is all over this calendar and I can't WAIT to celebrate it again this year! As with many of the holidays throughout the year, you can find coordinating Word Work and Writing Prompts, as well as QR Codes for math computation practice, Brain Breaks and Technology Resources for the season, and thought-provoking Did You Know? Facts.

You can also find the link to some of my favorite read alouds for this time of year, especially for the middle-elementary grades who may be looking for a new twist on old favorites.

Management is still developing in my classroom, but there's always a need to mix things up a bit, so
Ready, Set, Learn and Exit Slips help keep ideas fresh. My Mountain Climbers for formative assessment can also help your students track where they are in the process of learning a new concept.

I think you'll really enjoy my popular Growth Mindset Resource Round-Up and Bosses vs. Leader freebie lesson to encourage the students in your class to make mistakes and step up as leaders in however they feel comfortable.

There's plenty more, so take your pick and click away to find more information on any and all of the images you see.

Download HERE and enjoy! I hope these ideas will get you excited for the school year ahead!


My Favorite Halloween Read Alouds


I have to admit that Halloween has grown to become my most favorite holiday! I love the costumes, the decorating, and especially trick-or-treating with my little girl. 

We are still able to celebrate this holiday at our school, and I am so thankful! We have an all-school parade and then classroom parties before we send them home all sugared-up to go trick-or-treating that night.... Although with that all happening on a Monday this year, it's going to be a rough week!

Nonetheless, I love getting into the Halloween spirit early with things like my Word Work, Writing Prompts, Technology Resources, QR Critters and more. I also love incorporating these great picture books throughout the month leading up to the big day.

So many Halloween books are geared towards younger kids, and rightfully so. I have found that these books below are perfect for third graders. There are some old familiar favorites, nothing is too scary (I find that many students are still sensitive to some aspects of this holiday), and they encourage the fun, magic, and mystery of this day.

Plus, I can also incorporate quite a bit of character education with these titles. I love the lessons of Spookley, Hallo-wiener, and Bone Soup (a Halloween-take on Stone Soup) and they prompt some great class discussions. 

To check out these books, simply click on any of the book covers below. Each book cover will link you directly to its page on Amazon where you can look inside, read the reviews, and find similar titles. 

Click away here: 

Image Map


I hope this list gives you lots of ideas for read alouds for this exciting holiday. Here's wishing you a spooky October! Be sure to let me know of any additional titles in the comments below. I would love to add to this collection!

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