Hi there!  This week is shaping up to be all kinds of crazy.  We have parent conferences on Tuesday and Wednesday, which means two early closing days... then Halloween on Thursday... then the day AFTER Halloween on Friday... yep, need to keep it simple this week!

I thought I would jump on the visual plans bandwagon this week... but rather than give you a day-by-day breakdown of what I'm doing, I decided to just share the resources I'll be using, along with a brief comment about each one.  Here goes! (Remember to click the picture so you can download the file and get the clickable links.)

- What better book to work with for Halloween than Stellaluna.  I LOVE this unit by Linda Kamp.  It's full of really good reading activities focusing on character traits, response to challenges, point of view... everything Common Core related.  We'll do this during my main reading time this week and do Daily 5 during our FIT (intervention) time.  I'll finish up next week with small groups doing the summary part.
- My kiddos always need practice with fluency and this Halloween themed set of cards will be one way we do that this week.  I'm also going to use a poem from "You Read to me and I'll Read to You" about witches.  It's a partner poem perfect for practicing fluency and expression.

- This week we'll review long and short vowel spelling.  I still have kiddos spelling "make" as "mack" so we definitely need some continued practice.  I have used the card sets for each of the vowels so far, so this week I'll use the mixed practice for one day.

- This will be a great way to introduce informative writing.  Once everyone has made their monsters, we'll complete the graphic organizer and then do some writing.  We're going to do another informative piece in a few weeks, so this will be a good start.

Only two real days of math this week - we miss that period with the early closings on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Monday we'll make the pumpkin glyph, then I'm going to hang them up in a "gallery" in the room and do some morning sign in activities with them.  We've already done the "Halloween Move It" a couple times and my boys (all 12 of them!) love it!  They like seeing how fast they can solve the problems and beat their time.  The pumpkin "Watch, Think, Color" will be a good way to see what they really know about place value before we start that in a couple of weeks.

That seems like plenty!  We are probably the only school in our little state who still does a full-out Halloween costume parade at school.  Kids bring their costumes, change at school and then the whole school parades in front of the building for families and staff.  It really is a lot of fun.

If you're looking for something else to do for Halloween this week, check out my newly released "BOO Stew" set of activities. 

There are sets of differentiated cards perfect for lower and upper elementary.  Each activity can be completed in a variety of ways so you can make it just right for your guys.  Click on the images to go to my TpT store to find out more. 
You can take a look at more visual plan (a LOT more detailed than mine!) by clicking on the link below - have fun!

This post definitely has two parts - first will be the "here's what I did last week but somehow I never got around to sharing it with you" part....
and then will come the "here's what I'm doing this week that if I don't show you now I may not have another chance" part.
So here we go!
Last week we finished up our focus on how characters respond to challenges.  We read lots of books with an "It's ok to be different" theme and focused on how each character handled their differences.  Between Molly Lou Melon, Freckleface Strawberry, Big Al and Chrysanthemum, we had quite varied ways those characters dealt with the fact they were different.
We kept track of our thoughts on this chart:
It looked much cuter when it had images from all the books we had read, but I can't share those with you because of a little thing called copyright law.... so you can add in your own.
For each book we read, we completed this chart:

 After a few days, my kiddos were seeing BIG differences in the way characters approached a challenge - and were beginning to use character traits to explain themselves.  We're still working on that.  They're great at saying a character was funny, or brave.... but they don't always choose the traits that explain how they respond to challenges...
I did a quick informal assessment by reading a final book to them - Elmer, by David McKee.  Then they had to complete the chart independently... ok, sort of independently... we went step by step through each part, but THEY had to come up with the ideas themselves.  It was a quick way to see who was getting the idea and who still needed more opportunity. 
You can download the charts for yourself by clicking on the images to go to Google docs.

Now on to Part 2!  I am really looking forward to our fall theme for the next six weeks.  Yes, I know... I'm a little late to the party, but here in CT fall is really just getting started.  The trees are peaking in their color and we've had a few crisp days.... we've also had a few 70 degree days which makes it hard to wear my fall boots and pants... but you gotta go with it!  We can do fall all the way through November. 

I'm doing a common core "seasons" unit, but with a major focus on fall.  I'm sorry people, but I just CANNOT do winter books in the fall... nope, sorry, I tried... doesn't work.  So, we'll talk about different seasons, but use fall as a jumping off point. 

This week we're starting with a fun Henry and Mudge story
I like this one as our introduction because it is readable for all my kiddos and it is VERY OBVIOUS that it takes place in the fall.  We'll talk about setting as our focus.... what information do they get from the text... from the pictures.. that tells us the setting.  How would the story change if the setting was different?  My mind goes off..... and while I was googling to find a picture of the book to use in my post I also found some great ideas for the book.... no wonder I don't get anything done...

Anywhooo.... I also spent a ton of time this weekend finalizing my fall activities bundle for TpT.
It is filled with math, language arts and writing activities with a fall theme - of course!  But rather than just be simple skill practice, I tried to include activities that extended to have some application - tasks that require students to DO something with the skill.  Check it out and see what you think!
You can get the math or the ELA activities separately, but the writing is only available with the bundle.  You can click on any of the images above to got my TpT store... or click here.
And to celebrate the start of fall in my classroom, I'll give away one set of my "Falling Into Autumn" bundle (math, ELA and writing) to someone who leaves a comment below.  I'm always looking for new fall books to add to my collection - fiction and nonfiction, so leave me a comment about a favorite fall book of yours.  I'll have my niece choose a random number Friday night.  Don't forget to leave me your email so I can send you the file if you win!
Happy fall!   Note: Congratulations, Karen!  Your fall activities are on the way :-) ~ Lisa

Happy Sunday!  Two blog posts within 3 days - that's a record for me!  Do you do much for Fire Prevention Week with your kiddos?  Our local fire department usually comes and does an assembly, then the kids get to go outside and see the trucks and climb through an ambulance.  Aside from reading a couple books about fire safety, that's usually all I do...

This year, things are different though - I have TWICE as many boys as girls in my class.  Yes, that is correct.. and thank you for your concern....  a class of boys is veeeerrryyyy different than a class of girls, or both boys and girls in equal amounts.  That means not only do I go home super tired everyday... but I have become more interested and knowledgeable about things like race cars, superheroes, tractors (we're a farming community) and of course, fire trucks.  So it looks like we'll be doing a lot more on fire safety this next week.  Hold on tight because this post is jam packed with ideas, freebies, books, songs and even some technology for you to use to help teach your little ones how to be safe in a fire. 

For starters, we'll definitely be using my Firefighter Fun bundle of activities.  I included printables, centers and whole class activities with a firefighter theme.  Take a look at the preview to see what's inside

There are activities to cover ELA and math.  Everything is common core connected.  (I just made that up.  I like it!)  The activities are available at my TPT store.  Just click on one of the images above to hop on over.

I'm sharing the word search from the packet for free!  Click on the image below to download your copy from google docs.

I also found these other cute freebies with a fire safety theme, too.  These are a set of "What if" cards that are perfect for my morning meeting or closing circle.  They are a great way to get some practice in with the speaking and listening standards of the common core.
Moving on to more fun... I love to use music and movement with my students - and with all those boys, movement is a MUST!  Here's a fun song to sing to remind students about fire safety practices.  I'm thinking we'll use it for our morning song/poem this week and focus on rhythm and beat (common core again!)  It's from an old Mailbox magazine edition - click on the fire dog to check it out. (update Oct. 2014 - link no longer works)
That covers the music - now here's the movement! 
This is a snappy song that reminds kids they need to get outside and stay outside!  Kind of catchy, I think.
The next one is some Madagascar fun!  I'm still singing this one as I type this post
(Forgive the graininess of the image... for some reason Blogger isn't letting me upload youtube videos so I have to do a snip and link.)

Ok, this one is my most favorite.  I'm excited I found it because I am definitely going to show this one.  It was put out by All State Insurance a while ago... our fire department showed it every year for about 5 years running (or more?).... you will LOVE Mr. See More Smoke Detector.... can you identify the other voices?  (You'll have to be a little "wise ad experienced" to know all these guys....!)

Let's finish our fire safety fun with some fun apps an games good for the computer, smartboard or ipad.  First up, a great website filled with activities, games and more... all with a fire safety theme

Looking for some Smartboard fun?  This site has an interactive "fire drill" so you can help Mikey get out of the house safely... along with other facts, games and activities perfect for the interactive whiteboard.  Many of the games can be played on the computer, as well.

I just may use this interactive ebook during Listen to reading this week.  Sparky's Birthday surprise provides a fun way t practice safety skills and meet Sparky, too!  The app is available for free at the iTunes app store.

Whew!  Just a few more ideas - reading to my students is a very favorite activity of mine, so here are a few fire safety books that I enjoy:

and some nonfiction, too, of course!  Here's a link to a Scholastic News edition on fire safety - ready for the interactive whiteboard or projector.  I can see us doing a double bubble and writing about how fire fighting has changed through the years... (which is safer, now or then and why?)
Whew!  That was longer than I planned!  I hope you found some helpful resources to use this week with your students.  Bring on the fire trucks!
I did it!  It's time for the Five for Friday linky party with Doodlebugs and I'm actually linking up on FRIDAY!  Amazing, I think, considering the whirlwind week we had.  Let me take you through a few highlights... and stay with me til the end because I have a little surprise!

We really got into learning about theme and the central message of the text this week.  Last week we focused on "The Mixed Up Chameleon" as our anchor story  This week it was two of my faves

I absolutely ADORE Miss Molly Lou - and my kiddos really connected with her.  We started the week with a board game to work on asking and answering questions, then moved to identifying character traits and talking about how the character responds to challenges.  Later we did some detective work and looked closely at the illustrations to see what new details we could find.  We ended the week with a reading notebook entry about the main theme of "It is important to be yourself."  I'm planning on getting all those lessons and activities together to share with you soon!
Look at these pictures - what do you see?


By golly, my version of Daily 5 for math actually worked!  I'll let you in on a little secret - it's all about separation in my room.  18 kiddos working on the SAME activity = a headache for me.... 18 kiddos in small groups working on 4 or 5 DIFFERENT activities = SUCCESS!  I even took small groups 2 days this week - and we actually got to review and practice without an issue..... can I have a Hallelujiah!  My post on Daily 5 math really is coming soon - I just wanted to work out a few kinks before I shared with you all!
That leads me to #3 for the week - we got "Listening to Reading" going in full force in my room this week and it went beautifully!  I had 3 kiddos using the listening center -

complete with WIRELESS headphones!  The good news is there are no more cords to tangle up in... the bad news I have found, is that they are a HUGE drain on batteries.... ugh... I think I'm going to invest in rechargeable batteries....  I also have 2 students listening to a story on the ipad (you can read more about how I use my one ipad in my classroom HERE), and I'm in the process of getting some used donated ipods, as well.  I am working to convert all my tapes (yes, tapes... many of them!) to mp3s - check out this blog post for a quick how to
We've added dots to our room!  I saw these on pinterest and just HAD to see if they really worked.  I never saved the pin I saw, so this links to the ones I bought on Amazon.
They are repositionable wipe-off circles... and they really do work!  (excuse the glare - it was late in the day when I took the picture.)  So far we've used them during small group times to practice sight word spelling, show how to solve word problems with a part-part-whole diagram and to list character traits in books we have read.  I haven't moved them too much, but they do peel off.  I am going CRAZY trying to get all the bubbles out of all four of them, though.  I am very obsessive about that... I must have taken 20 minutes just to put them on.  I know... let it go....
Ok - you've lasted through 4 for Friday and I saved the best for last!

It was my birthday this week and my sweet teammates gave me a little something.  I thought I would return the favor and give YOU a little something to celebrate the big day, soooo.....
Click on the button to visit my store - it's growing all the time!  This weekend (tonight through Sunday) everything will be 10% off - enjoy!
Don't forget to visit Doodlebugs linky party to get a peek into what went on elsewhere this week.

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