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Teaching Friendship with The Fruit Salad Friend

I have been a long time fan of Maria Dismondy's books.  They're wonderful for character building lessons.
Maria recently published a new book titled The Fruit Salad Friend.  In this story, a little girl named Chloe faces some challenges with friendship.  She learns and uses different strategies to to help herself feel better and find friends that lift her up.  She learns the recipe for friendship.  Super cute! ...and if your classroom is anything like mine, then everybody could use a little springtime refresher on friendship- I'm looking at you little drama queens!

Maria has collaborated with Emily Yost to create a free readers guide for you to use in your classroom.  It is EXCELLENT!  Comprehension, writing, drawing, etc.

In my own classroom, after reading the book, I focused my lesson the the traits of a good friend and on using I-Messages.  We used the I Message poster in the readers' guide along with with the scenario cards.  My students could really connect with the scenarios.  We practiced using I Messages together and in pairs.  I love using I-Messages, because it gives the students ownership over their feelings and their words.  It also helps them to figure what exactly is making them mad.  We talked about how much more powerful an I-Message is compared to whining and bickering.

Using the materials from reader's guide and some clip art from Dancing Crayon Designs, we created a display to help us remember how to use I-Messages and ways to calm down when we feel upset or angry.  I am in love with how it turned out!  They love finding their fruit, and it's nice to have the visual available when conflicts arise.

Afterwards, we made a friendship fruit salad together- naming the traits of friends as we added the ingredients.  It was fun and nutritious.  Everything is better when food is involved, right?

After the lesson, each child received a 'Friendship is Sweet' brag tag to add to their collection.  You can download it here or by clicking on the picture.  We LOVE brag tags!  They really do brag to each other about them. Haha!

Here are some quick links for finding everything you need to use The Fruit Salad Friend in your own classroom:
Book (Amazon Affiliate Link)
Reader's Guide
Brag Tags

Don't need it now?  Pin it for later!

Listen Up Peeps!

So, are you Team Peeps or Team No Way, They're Disgusting? I'm the latter, but I sure do think they're cute and super fun for spring time.

I have an easy behavior management idea for you involving marshmallow Peeps that you can use right around Easter or after Easter once you pick up all of the Peeps from the clearance rack at Target.  The goal is to get students to listen and pay attention a little better...because we all know how spring fever goes.

Here's my display, which you can grab by clicking here or on the picture.  I set mine up the day before we started to grab their attention and build excitement.

Students will start each day with three Unifix cubes.  You could easily use counters, beans, or plastic pennies.  If a student is talking at an inappropriate time, not following directions, or is just not listening, they must give you a cube.  When I introduce the concept and chart to students, I show them a non-verbal signal that means, "You owe me a cube." I simply put out my hand, and they hand it over.
At the end of the day, students will record how many cubes they still have left on the chart.  Students who end the day with 1 or more of their cubes, get a marshmallow Peep and a certificate.  I've always used these adorable certificates that Recipe for Learning has on her blog.
This year, I snagged a small stuffed Peep at Target.  Each morning, I will randomly select the name of one student who had 3 cubes let the day before.  That student will get to hold the Peep at their seat all day- You all know they'll do anything to have a stuffy to snuggle with.

This is just an easy way to keep the chatting and general lack of listening in check.  Let me know if you decided to give it a try!

If you're too swamped to do it this year, Pin it and try it later on!

5 Super Simple Ways to Bring the Olympics Into Your Classroom

We are 1 month away from the PyeongChang Winter Games, and I am so excited!  I have loved the Olympics since I was a kid.  I remember my mom letting me stay up late to watch the Lillehammer Games.  It is such a special event, and it's something that I have wanted to share with students.  Since I teach at a Leader in Me school, we are always talking about leadership.  Olympians are such great leaders!  Sportsmanship, physical fitness, strong work ethic, the ability win and lose, you get it.

The Olympics are not in my curriculum, but I just cannot stand not to bring them into my classroom and get my kiddos excited for the Games.  So, I had to get creative, and I bring you....

1. Books!
Let your students read about the Olympics.  I have a Winter Olympics collection that I created on Epic! that is perfect for 2nd and 3rd graders.  (If you're not using Epic! in your classroom, get on it!  It's the best! and free for teachers!) Reading A-Z also has some great books about the Olympics that you could easily use during guided reading or in book bags.
Here are a few of my favorite Olympic-themed picture books:
Each picture is linked to Amazon using an affiliate link.  Click on the picture to find the book on Amazon.

2. Medal Count
My students will be checking the medal count for the United States each morning during our morning work time.  I created a simple graph that I blew up on our school's poster maker that they'll add circles of yellow, gray, and orange to create a large pictograph in our hallway.  Click on the picture to grab a copy.

3.  Finger Print Ring Craft
Super simple craft!  Trace a plastic cup 5 times in the pattern of the Olympic rings- 3 on the top, 2 on the bottom, interlocking/overlapping.  Then use the pointer finger to trace over the rings with the appropriate color of paint using a finger print method.  These turn out very cute, and they only take about 10-15 minutes.  Another activity that can be done during morning work!  These make a great bulletin board.   I have lots of other crafts saved on my Olympics Pinterest board.

4. Brag Tags
I'm a brag tag loving teacher, and I was so excited to create a set to use during the Olympics.  It might just be my favorite set! Students earn brag tags for making good choices and exhibiting strong student behaviors.  Mine store their brag tags on large binder rings on Command hooks.  They LOVE looking at and comparing their brag tags.  Brag tags can be found here.

5. Classroom Display
I love a display that I can put up and leave up for a while.  I have this one up in my classroom right now and plan to leave it up through the end of February.  I have some books that I'll put out with it along with some past Scholastic News articles that I have laminated.  My kids love current events displays.  The bulletin board set is in my TPT store, and the vocabulary cards are in this vocabulary set.

Let me know some of your favorite Olympics activities in the comments below.  It's such an exciting time!  If you're looking for some other classroom activities, you may want to check out the Olympics category in my TPT store.  

Want to save these ideas for later?
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The Jelly Donut Difference: Virtual Book Tour

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. 

You know how sometimes you come across an author and you just LOVE everything he or she writes?  For the past two years, I have been loving all of Maria Dismondy's books.  All of her books are written to make a difference and teach valuable life lessons.  Her newest book, The Jelly Donut Difference, is no different!

The Jelly Donut Difference is a quick read about a pair of siblings who learn that a small act of kindness can really change someone's day.  Such an important lesson for kids to learn!

I love this book as both a teacher and a mom.  In my classroom, I used it as a mentor text during a lesson on acts of kindness.  I always take the month of February to focus on kindness, and I was so pleased to be able to add The Jelly Donut Difference to my collection of kindness books.  It's a pretty quick read, but it made for a great discussion on ways that kids can spread kindness to others around them.  If you teach about random acts of kindness in your classroom or to your own children, this is the perfect book to use to introduce the idea!  I think it would be so fun to have your students deliver donuts to the faculty and staff around the school.  Think of the smiles that would bring!  However, #teacherbudget...

Instead, we brainstormed easy ways that kids can spread kindness to people that they care about without spending a penny.  I wanted them to get out of that mindset that kindness has to be a physical present that you give someone.  We also made a Crockpot Jelly Cake.  My recipe came from Rachel at Archer's All-Stars.  My class had a ball making the cake, and most of them liked it.  It made our classroom and hallway smell wonderful!  One of cuties said, "I think our act of kindness to all of the teachers is making the school smell so good instead of like sneakers and lunch." Hahahaha Right on, kiddo.

You can grab a copy of The Jelly Donut Difference on Amazon, along with all of Maria's fabulous books.  My other favorites are Spaghetti on a Hot Dog Bun, The Little Linebacker, and Chocolate Milk, Por Favor.  You can grab each book by clicking on the title or on the book covers below.


Be sure to follow Maria Dismondy on Instagram and Facebook to catch all of her virtual blog tour events.  I can't wait to see what she has in store for all of her readers!

Five Cute Ways to Announce Your Pregnancy at School

So, if you're reading this, you're probably pregnant, or maybe hoping to be pregnant, or know a teacher who's pregnant---one of those, right?  My husband and I are expecting our third baby at the end of May 2017, so I wanted to share our exciting news with my colleagues and students in a fun way.  Pinterest has load of ideas, but not many are practical for school.  I gathered a few cute ones for you to share your own exciting news when the time comes.

With each of my pregnancies, I shared the news with my staff using Munchkins donut holes from Dunkin Donuts.  It's super simple and feeds a lot of people.  Who doesn't love donut holes?! I printed simple pictures of my kids labeled Munchkin #1, Munchkin #2, and Munchkin #3 May 2017.  The display turned out really cute and took me about 25 minutes to make...and yes, I know my poster is crudely made and has an apostrophe in the wrong place, I was rushing that morning- shocking! 

If you're announcing close to Dr. Seuss week or Favorite Book Character Day or even Halloween, this would be an adorable announcement.  Tutu optional!

This is a cute idea, and you could use any type of food.  You could do pastel colored cupcakes, donuts, or even chocolate dipped candies.

Eve Bunting (fabulous author!) has a really cute book called, Our Teacher is Having a Baby.  It tells the story of a teacher announcing her pregnancy to the class, and they write the baby letters and brainstorm names for the baby.  It's great for the PreK-2 crowd but may be too juvenile for older kids.

I didn't want to lose a bunch of instructional time with my second graders when I announced my pregnancy to them, so I planned a task card hunt with QR codes.  The students scanned each card to reveal a letter.  Then, they had to unscramble the letters to reveal the secret message- Your Teacher is Having a Baby!  They were SO excited.  The activity fit right into my literacy block but also shared the fun news.  My second graders completed the activity with a partner, but older kids could complete it on their own.  I had the answer key right in front of me so I could see their reactions when they scanned to check their work.  Talk about adorable!  Second grade girls get very giddy when they find our their teacher is pregnant...second grade boys, not so much. LOL.  You can grab the QR Code Word Puzzle here.

Did you announce your pregnancies in a special way at work? I'd love to hear some other ideas if you have them.  Leave them in the comments below!

The Santa Letter...for Parents

Do you all love Christmas and the magic of Christmas as much as I do?  I'm assuming that you do.  So, one thing that just gets under my skin, and probably yours, is when kids try to ruin the Christmas magic for other kids.  You know what I'm talking about...Santa isn't real! (gasp!)  Obviously not all families celebrate Christmas or even incorporate the tradition of Santa into their holiday celebration.  However, I just hate when someone tries to spoil someone else's joy and fun.  It's not always deliberate, but usually it is.   It's just plain mean, right?

To prevent this and the uncomfortable conversations that come with it, I've began sending home what I call my "Santa Letter" each year.  I ask the parents of those that do not believe in Santa or celebrate Christmas to please gently speak with their children about not letting out the big secret to those who do believe.  I simply print my letter out in cursive font, so 2nd graders can't read it, fold it in half, staple it, and send it home.

You can grab this letter for free by clicking here.

Every year I have several parents thank me for doing this.  It's a simple gesture but one that can prevent a lot of heartache and unwanted revelations.  I've yet to receive any complaints (crossing my fingers) or backlash from this request.  I'm sending mine home early this year, as I have one table of kiddos that just can't stop talking about Santa already (They Believe!).

What do you think?  Is this something that you'd use in your classroom, or do you think I'm taking it too far?  I'd really like to hear your thoughts.

If Teachers Earned Brag Tags...

You all know that Brag Tags are all the rage right now.  I use them in my classroom, and my students LOVE them! So I got to thinking, what if teachers earned Brag Tags, too???

Because I feel like a champ when my "to grade" bin is empty...which is rare.  

It's October, which means your bladder stamina has been building for the past month and a half.  Just think how strong you'll be by the end of the year! 

Be honest, how many times a day to you think WTF to yourself?  I mean really, everyone does it, even fabulous teachers like you and me.  

I always pack my lunch the night before school...and leave in the fridge at least once a week.  So annoying!  Do you do this, too?  

You all know those meetings that I'm talking about...the ones that make you feel inadequate and unappreciated.  I'm pretty good at staying mum, but I know it's hard for some of you. #amiright?

My club always welcomes new members.  Are you going to join me?  

You can grab all of these tags and a few more for free by following this link.  What would you add to the list?

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