Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Superbowl Writing Project Freebie

I made this freebie last year when our beloved Patriots were Superbowl bound. 

That didn't end well for us New Englanders.


Nor did last Sunday's playoff game.


But football fever is still in the air as I'm sure it is in your neck of the woods as well.

So I thought I would spotlight this free writing packet once again in case you missed it. 

It's ready to go when you print it so it will make an easy addition to your Thursday or Friday plans this week.

If you've wondered about my writing packets, this is a good opportunity to see what they are all about.
Pictured above are the 6 pages I printed to use with my class.


They include webs, draft papers and final product pages as well as 4 full-color printables to use as bulletin board titles or class book covers.

Here's the cute bulletin board that I made to show off their writing samples.



I began with a large football cutout.

I typically use a brainstorming page from my writing packets to have the students come up with topics and ideas. However, despite the bubbling enthusiasm for all things football that the majority of my kiddos are showing this week, I knew that some of my little learners are not so interested in the gridiron.

Anticipating that this would translate into writer's block, I opted to brainstorm together. We did so by adding topics on Post-It notes to my big football. My 3rd grade football fans frantically waved their hands in the air begging me to call on them so they could add such phrases as Tom Brady, Rematch with the Giants, and AFC Champions to the potential topics list. Another popular choice was Rob Gronkowski. Lucky for me 1/3 of my class was sporting Gronkowski jerseys so I was able to spell it without consulting Google.

And then there were my non-football fans. We talked about things that are associated with football that they could select as a topic. I had kids write about cheerleading, Gatorade and nachos. By the time we were done, each little sweetie had a topic they were excited about.

After we went through the web-draft-edit routine, they completed their final copy and then it was time for our craftivity.

These caused me to lose sleep. On Monday we completed the heads and bodies. I thought they looked like astronauts. I literally woke at 4:30 and the first thought that popped into my mind was "facemask." Sure enough when we added the 3D face masks it all came together.


I was so excited by their cute little football players that I impulsively blurted out, "Oooh get me the silver glitter. These need some glitter."

In case y'all didn't know....I LOATHE glitter.

It is not a secret.

I had to laugh when one of my little boys leaned over to another and said, "Mrs. D TOTALLY just got caught up in the moment. She never would have used glitter if she had thought about it." So funny because it's true.

I put green paper and white stripes on the back of the board.

The border makes me smile. I simply cut 12x18 construction paper into a spiral. It actually went all the way around my board. I love how it looks.

All of the writing pages I used for this project are included in my Football-Themed Writing Packet Freebie. Swing by my products page to download it for free!


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Flash Freebies or Discounted Debut Items and view my easy-to-navigate online catalog.

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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Make a Clean Sweep: CFC Project 2013 Challenge #3


If you are just joining us, you'll want to start here or check out my Clutter-Free Guide to Classroom Organization & Management.
It's time for week 3 of the The Clutter-Free Classroom PROJECT.

Last week had you all developing plans for getting rid of the clutter. You were asked to come up with some non-negotiable rules for deciding if an item can stay or go and to make a plan for where the unwanted stuff would go to. Now it is time to roll up your sleeves and MAKE A CLEAN SWEEP!

Let's take a quick second to look over some things that I really and truly want you to embed in your brains and think about throughout the process...
  • You can't organize clutter.
  • The less you have, the less you need to manage.
  • Your trash is {quite possibly} another person's treasure.
  • There is no value in an object that isn't being used.







Throughout this week I want you to make a clean sweep of your classroom. Don't get overwhelmed. It's actually a lot easier than it sounds. We won't be getting into those crammed cabinets, overstuffed drawers, and bursting-at-the-seams boxes you have stuffed in the closet just yet. We'll tackle those when we really roll up our sleeves and take on one section of the room at a time for a hardcore decluttering, deep cleaning and organizational makeover in the coming weeks. For now I just want you to take on the obvious clutter that is causing visual chaos and is a constant source of stress. We're going to wipe out the stuff that makes people think you aren't as organized as you could be people when they walk into your room. 

I want you to start in one corner of your room and work from top to bottom and left to right. Ultimately you'll do a complete 360 around the entire classroom.  Get rid of anything that is out in the open for everyone to see that does not fit within the rules you decided upon. If an item is out of place, move it to where it should be. Don't worry about doing a deep cleaning, but wipe down surfaces as you go.








  • If you haven't already taken "before" photos make sure you do so prior to taking on this week's task. You'll be so glad you did.


  • If you haven't already made a plan for where your clutter will go or prepared your sorting bins, be sure to do that first as well (related links to help: large Sorting Bins , Small Sorting Bins, Make Labels for Sorting - free printables included).
  • Ask an honest friend to help. We are in our classrooms so often that we take things for granted. Having an outsider come in and offer honest thoughts and opinions about how your room presents itself can be a huge asset. 
  • Make sure you have a timer of some sort to keep you on task. The faster you work the less you'll second guess yourself. Use a countdown timer and set a goal. For example: I'll clear off this counter in less than 10 minutes. Play beat the clock.
  • Break the task into manageable goals. Look at it as a weeklong project. Plan to tackle one of your four walls (including open shelves and counters) each day Monday through Thursday and then use Friday for the surfaces in the center of the room.
  • Don't be tempted to go into cabinets, closets, closed containers, desk drawers, etc. This week is strictly about the surface clutter. It can include excess furniture that is not being used, piles of papers on counters, decor that isn't purposeful, outdated anchor charts, etc.
  • Get the stuff out of there IMMEDIATELY. Use your plan for where the clutter will go and get it there right away rather that means walking it to the dumpster, recycling bin, teacher lunchroom or another teacher's classroom. Just get it out of there and don't look back.
  • Take pictures after you make a clean sweep. Compare them to your before pictures. It will feel great and motivate you to keep going.








On Friday, I'll put up another Linky Party related to the Clutter-Free Classroom PROJECT. The Linky will be ongoing and you can always jump in and link up at anytime. If you don't have a blog you can respond to the prompt in the comment section on Friday's post. Below is this week's prompt. Keep these questions in mind as you take your pictures:

BLOG PROMPT for Friday's Linky:
Show us your "Clean Sweep." Let's see those initial before and after pictures or photos of your pile of "clutter" just before it exits your room and starts you on the path to having a "Clutter-Free Classroom."
classroom organization tips classroom organization ideas classroom organization supplies classroom storage classroom management classroom arrangement classroom organization skills organization ideas for the classroom organization ideas for teachers organization ideas for elementary classrooms decluttering a classroom declutter classroom before pictureskindergarten first grade second grade third grade fourth grade fifth grade sixth grade preschool 1st grade 2nd grade 3rd grade 4th grade 5th grade 6th grade time management, professional organizer, ways to get organized, organizing products, helping kids get organized, organizing teachers, the organized classroom, tips for getting organized tips for classroom organization storage manipulatives school supplies


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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Groundhogs: Informational Texts and Non-Fiction Resources

Yesterday I shared some writing ideas and a few of my favorite fiction books about Groundhog Day. Today I'm continuing with my "Get Ready for Groundhog Day series" by showcasing some great non-fiction reads that you may want to share with your class.


 Groundhog Day (Rookie Read-About Holidays) is a simple book, but has some decent pictures and facts. It's best suited for grades 1-2, but my 3rd graders were able to pull some facts from it for their research writing.


The Groundhog Day Book of Facts and Fun contains a lot of great information and is presented in a way that is easy for the kids to understand and holds their interest. It not only 
discusses Groundhog Day, but also explains the seasons and why they change.


Groundhog at Evergreen Road - a Smithsonian's Backyard Book is an informational text that is part of the Smithsonian Backyard Series. This book is especially good if you are researching groundhogs because it focuses on their predators.


Animal Research: Templates to Guide Student Writing When Researching Any Animal is a 55 page packet that includes everything you need to have your students write an animal research report. It includes pages for brainstorming animals to research, task cards, graphic organizers, primary and intermediate-ruled draft pages and pages for publishing the final product. This is such a motivating assignment for students. I complete one with my class and then it quickly becomes a favorite choice activity for independent work.

Groundhog Day: A Writing Resource Differentiated for K-5 includes 15 printable pages of thematic materials to use in your K-5 classrooms. The packet is open-ended so that you can use it with any of the writing ideas that I listed above or your own ideas as well. There are 4 full-color printables to be used as class book covers or as titles on your bulletin boards when displaying the student writing. I carefully design each of my writing kits to include differentiated versions of my webs, draft paper and final copy pages to make it easy for you to modify within your current class and to be timeless enough to use if you change grade levels.

The Groundhog Day packet is also included in my money-saving February and March 6 Packet Writing Bundle along with writing packets for: President's Day, Teeth, Dr. Seuss, St. Patrick's Day and  Valentine's Day.



For additional Groundhog Day ideas and resources to use in your classroom, please check out my...

These are some links that I share with my class when we are working in the research projects:








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Flash Freebies or Discounted Debut Items and view my easy-to-navigate online catalog.

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Monday, January 14, 2013

Groundhog Day: Fiction Books and Writing Ideas

Groundhog Day is one of those holidays that totally sneaks up on you. By the time you turn the calendar to February...BAM...it's already here. Over the next two days, I'll be blogging about books and ideas to help you plan ahead to celebrate the little guy (and more importantly, the start of spring). Today's post features some fiction books that I enjoy reading to my students and my own kids at home. Tomorrow I'll share the informational texts that I use.


Go To Sleep, Groundhog! by Judy Cox features a furry little fellow who has a hard time falling asleep. Despite hitting the sack on Columbus Day as usual, he tosses and turns. Ultimately he creeps out of his burrow and comes to realize he's been missing lots of holidays by sleeping. He meets characters such as a Halloween Witch, a Thanksgiving Turkey and Santa. This is a fun book for reinforcing calendar concepts with little learners.


Mr. Groundhog Wants the Day Off is about a groundhog who needs a break. He's tired of being blamed for 6 more weeks of winter and tries to get others to do his job. This book is a great springboard for a writing project about a job/responsibility that your students would like to give away. Since the characters in the story point out the reasons why the groundhog is good at his job, it also lends itself to writing about a chore they are good at.

Along those same lines, Substitute Groundhog tells the tale of a groundhog who is feeling under the weather and interviews other animals to fill in for him. This book pairs nicely with having the students write about an animal they think would make a good substitute for the groundhog.




Ten Grouchy Groundhogs is a cute story about grouchy, grubby, gobbling, gabby, giggly, groovy, graceful, glitzy, gleeful, groggy groundhogs getting ready for their great big day. This book easily lends itself to math extensions for young students, but I think it's a fun one to reinforce adjectives. Challenge your students to think of even more adjectives that start with the letter G or have them each pick a different animal and brainstorm adjectives that begin with that letter as well. While this book was written for younger learners, it's a fun one to read to intermediate students as well. You can do the same activity, but with a lesson on alliteration and dictionary skills by having them use a dictionary to find even more adjectives that start with that letter. 

AND MY PERSONAL FAVORITE...Groundhog Weather School by Joan Holus. While most groundhog books are geared towards the little folks, this one is a great read for my third graders. It's funny and engaging and chock full of facts. The style of the writing and pictures really appeals to them and they gather details to use in their groundhog animal research writing as well. If you aren't familiar with this book I highly suggest you snag a copy to share with your students.


Animal Research: Templates to Guide Student Writing When Researching Any Animal is a 55 page packet that includes everything you need to have your students write an animal research report. It includes pages for brainstorming animals to research, task cards, graphic organizers, primary and intermediate-ruled draft pages and pages for publishing the final product. This is such a motivating assignment for students. I complete one with my class and then it quickly becomes a favorite choice activity for independent work.

Groundhog Day: A Writing Resource Differentiated for K-5 includes 15 printable pages of thematic materials to use in your K-5 classrooms. The packet is open-ended so that you can use it with any of the writing ideas that I listed above or your own ideas as well. There are 4 full-color printables to be used as class book covers or as titles on your bulletin boards when displaying the student writing. I carefully design each of my writing kits to include differentiated versions of my webs, draft paper and final copy pages to make it easy for you to modify within your current class and to be timeless enough to use if you change grade levels.

The Groundhog Day packet is also included in my money-saving February and March 6 Packet Writing Bundle along with writing packets for: President's Day, Teeth, Dr. Seuss, St. Patrick's Day and  Valentine's Day.



For additional Groundhog Day ideas and resources to use in your classroom, please check out my...

Groundhog Day Pinterest Board which features crafts, cooking and more 

Blog Posts about Shadows 

and my Groundhog Day Non-Fiction Book Blog Post {tomorrow}







Follow my Teacher Store so you don't miss
Flash Freebies or Discounted Debut Items and view my easy-to-navigate online catalog.

Check out CFC's Helpful Series for Teachers: 


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