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5 Best Takeaways from NCTM’s Annual Conference

Welcome Back Friends!

Last month I was so excited to attend this year’s annual NCTM math conference. The best part—it was in San Antonio, Texas (about 100 miles from me)! Now, while some of you are thinking, “What’s so exciting about that,” I’m thinking 1.) It was a mini-vacay in the middle of the spring semester (Raise your hand if you could use one of those!); 2.) I got the chance to spend time with professors and colleagues who I hardly ever see; 3.) I got to share the same space with some of my math idols. Yes, I totally know that I am a math geek, but I thought that’s what you loved most about me!!

All kidding aside, attending this conference is a big deal. It’s an opportunity to learn from math teachers and authors across the country. Sessions are filled with presentations by people like Jo Boaler, Dan Meyer, Graham Fletcher, Kathy Richardson, and many others. It’s also a unique experience and a chance to hear what other teachers are doing to create strong mathematicians from states across the nation. With this in mind, I want to take this opportunity to share five of my biggest take-a-ways with you.

Read More!

One Million = One Thousand

Summer Reading

Summer Reading

Read on to find out how one million can actually equal one thousand.

The benefits are enormous and proven!

We all have busy lives, including students, but this is not asking too much.

Many research projects reach the same conclusions. Read about this on the May

Blog Post @

For more information about other research-based information , view Reading Spotlight’s Free Tips:

Why Kids Don’t Read

Choosing Books to Read for Pleasure

The Best Way to Read a Story



LANGUAGE ARTS IDEAS – Fun Easter phrasing and fluency activities!
Copyright: denisnata / 123RF Stock Photo[/caption]

Easter is a great time to have fun with phrasing and fluency with early readers. Grab your bunny ears and check these out!

Use poetry, music and movement!

Remember the Hokey-Pokey song? Years ago I rewrote it into The Bunny Hop for my Kindergarten students. It works particularly well if modeled and students are given the opportunity to echo it back the first few times before giving them a paper with the text (to color – you’ve got to do the actions!):


Click here to grab it free! 
(Black and white version included with it – ideal for poetry folders!)
Bunny ear construction is off the charts in the craft center when this song is in season – be ye warned! Everyone wants to be the bossy bunny who gets to say, “Stop!”
Seize teachable moments to model and emphasize phrasing

Certain phrases just belong together, don’t they? All about the seems to be one such phrase.

When Meghan Trainor was singing I’m All About the Bass every time I turned on the radio in 2014,  there was no getting it out of my head.  This Fun, Fluency Reader version practically wrote itself as I drove in to school listening to Trainor’s voice every day.

My students knew the tune instantly. I modeled the first read to them, and we practiced a few phrases in isolation before it was fluent and perhaps a little too fun…

There is a twist on a familiar Fairy Tale in this book that made the kids laugh (but humor is a topic for another day…).

Limitation of liability: It’s all about the Eggs is not recommended for those who are prone to getting songs stuck in their head or with one last nerve.

Encourage oral language beyond one word.

Encourage kids to speak in sentences and phrases by asking questions and modeling answers. Kids mimic the adults in their lives (cringe – I’ve heard my own phrases from the mouths of babes a few too many times, have you?). When hunting for an Easter Egg, asking ‘Where is it?’ may elicit a reply of ‘there’ from a little one, but an adult can follow with the modeling of a phrase or phrases, for example: “Oh, yes, it’s under the chair’ for a gentle teachable moment.

While teaching special education to a student with prepositional language goals on an IEP, one of my students did have Easter egg hunts in my resource room to ‘practice’ for Easter.

What are some of your favorite phrasing and fluency boosters?

Happy Easter everyone!



painting poetry

Painting Poetry



April is National Poetry Month. We hope that you will take one minute out of your busy day to enjoy our Poetry Paintings and find out how we did it@

Debate with Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream- The Battle of the Sexes

Teach BeTween the Lines

Grades 9-12+

Everything you need to teach debate with the Battle of the Sexes in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This Digital Interactive Students Notebook can be easily printed for non-digital classrooms!

This complete unit includes 5 lessons:
1. Introduction to the theme of gender within the play
a. In-depth class discussion questions
b. Mini-debate to engage learners and begin conversations on the
gender battle

2. Crafting arguments- the debate way. Introduce this step-by-step method
for crafting an argument specifically for debate.

3. Crafting counter-arguments- the debate way. Introduce this simple four
point method for crafting a counter-argument specifically for refutation in

4. Introduction to debate- introduces debate skills to students. Students learn
the why and how of debate, watch several examples, and grade those
debate examples using the assessment tools that will be applied to their
debates as well.

5. Introduction to Public Speaking- a mini-lesson to introduce the most critical
skills necessary for successful public speaking.

Your students will be able to take notes on all of these lessons inside of their Google Interactive Notebook. Students will also be able to prepare for their debate with specific graphic organizers for each step of the preparation process. They will also be able to craft their arguments and counter-arguments inside of this digital document with helpful graphic organizers. Additionally, they will be able to self-reflect on their preparation, their group’s preparation and arguments, and the quality of their own arguments. Rubric is included inside of this document for further self-assessment.

A complete debate scoring guide is included so a ‘winner’ can be determined post-debate.

A complete rubric is included for assessing the quality of each student’s debate skills.

PowerPoint, Word, and PDF versions are included for every document. This unit will be easy to print and teach as well!

41 Pages, 51 Slides.

CCSS Aligned:

Follow my store by clicking on the link at the top of the page for updates, announcements, and fun freebies! You can also find me on Pinterest, and Facebook!

Check out these individual lessons for all things Shakespeare!
Theme Analysis in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Literary Analysis with Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Character Analysis with A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Student Interactive Notebook for A Midsummer Night’s Dream- Complete Study Guide

Save money and get four additional lessons with: A Midsummer Night’s Dream Unit Bundle!!
A Midsummer Night’s Dream Complete Unit BUNDLE!

Teaching Macbeth?
Theme Analysis &Thematic Literary Response Essay in Shakespeare’s Macbeth
Literary Analysis with Shakespeare’s Macbeth
Character Analysis with Shakespeare’s Macbeth

Introduction to Shakespeare:
Engaging and Collaborative Introduction to Shakespeare

Teachers Pay Teachers Sale and a Ten Dollar Gift Card

Happy February!

Ground Hog’s Day, Valentine’s Day, President’s Day, National Children’s Dental Health Month, and African American History Month.  Did I forget anything?  Whew!  It’s a busy month!  Fortunately, at the Teachers Pay Teachers website, educators have access to thousands of resources on all the topics I’ve mentioned.  Teachers Pay Teachers is having a sale on February 7th and 8th.  They’re just a few hours left to take advantage of the sale.  Use the code:  LOVETpT to get a discount on everything that you purchase.  Don’t forget to press the APPLY button when you enter the code at checkout.  In addition discount code, everything in my SHOP will be 20% off during the sale!

More good news!  I received a TEN DOLLAR gift card from Teachers Pay Teachers.  I can use the gift card to promote my business.  One lucky educator will receive the gift card good toward items at Teachers Pay Teachers.  I want YOU to have a chance to win!  Please visit the blog post HERE to enter.  The contest ends on February 14th, 2017 so don’t delay!  I don’t have many any entrants so your chance to win is high!  TBOTEMC boasts that is has THOUSANDS of page views so I’m hoping for entries!That’s all for now!

Molly, Lessons by Molly

TPT Shop



January Teacher Talk

Posted by Deann Marin of Socrates Lantern

It’s 2017 Time sure flies. WE have some great ideas for you in our January edition of Teacher Talk. So hurry on over to see what these creative educators are doing this month.

If you’re interested in joining this unique group of teacher entrepreneurs, blogging buddies and/or our blog linky, sign up here….The Best of Teacher Entrepreneurs Marketing Cooperative. If you decide to join, be sure to mention one of our names.


Is Vacation Over Already?

By Deann Marin of Socrates Lantern

I don’t know about you, but at one time, it was a real downer for me to return to school after vacation. Stress was my middle name, I’d spend time worrying what I was going to teach, wondering about the lessons I’d have to reteach and thinking about that parent meeting scheduled after vacation. I’d get really bummed out the day before until I learned a few tricks I’d like to share.


Gifts of the New Year

By Retta London of Rainbow City Learning

Some gifts you can share with students this month.


(Star)bursting for Rocks!

By Kathie Yonemura of Tried and True Teaching Tools

Party accessories make setting New Year’s goals the perfect connection to a healthy, whole student.


Martin Luther King, Jr. Writing Prompts

By Kerry Tracy of Kerry Tracy

Use MLK’s brilliant quotes all month long to inspire quick writes! ***********************************************

Make Math FUN this Winter!

By Sara Snyder of Snyder Classroom

Engage your students with these Winter Math riddles worksheets! I began creating math riddles to make math more fun in my own classroom. I love hearing my students giggle as they solve the riddle at the end of the worksheet. Students solve problems, each problem has a letter assigned to it and the letters help to solve the riddle. It is a great way to combine fun and learning! Make math FUN!


What is ACC?

By Susan Berkowitz of Susan Berkowitz

Do you know exactly what AAC is? Here is an informative post to help guide you.


Tech Talk – The Online Subscription Dilemma

By Michelle Webb of Teaching Ideas for Those who Love Teaching

Stop worrying about how to pay for online subscriptions for your classroom.


Fact or Fantasy? Organization 101 for Teachers

By Tracy Willis of Wild Child Designs

A humorous exploration of systems organization in an elementary classroom. This post explores ways to organize and support word study.


Check out these blog posts from other teachers in our collaborative.

Free Visual – Teaching the Essay


Teaching the essay - Visual


This is a creative visual to help students understand the importance of constructing the essay. By comparing the essay to a house, students are able to understand the importance of the thesis statement as the foundation of the essay, the arguments as the supporting walls, and the conclusion as the roof.
Total Pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration

Ten Dollar Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card

by Molly McMahon, Lessons by Mollygift-card-promotion-december

Happy December!

In my LAST POST, I mentioned a giveaway on a post from my own blog for a ten dollar Teachers Pay Teachers gift card.  “Tori” is the winner of the giveaway.  She has an extra ten dollars of spending money or she can give the code to another teacher as a gift.

I am happy to announce that I am running ANOTHER GIVEAWAY for the same prize!  This contest has a very easy requirement and you don’t need to follow anyone to enter!  The giveaway ends on December 15th and the winner will be announced that same evening.  This way, the lucky winner will have the code to use while we’re still within the Christmas season!  Of course, he/she can keep the gift card for later use because Teachers Pay Teachers gift cards NEVER EXPIRE!  Click on the word CONTEST to enter the giveaway.

That’s all for now!

Molly McMahon, Lessons by Molly

Lessons by Molly @ Teachers Pay Teachers

Lessons by Molly @ blog

Lessons by Molly @ Pinterest


Ten Dollar Teachers Pay Teachers Giveaway

Hello readers!

I hope you are enjoying the CYBER DAYS sale over at the Teachers Pay Teachers website.  It ends at midnight (EST) on Tuesday, November 29th.  Everything at my shop is 20% off until then.  Use the promo code:  CYBER2016 to get an additional savings.  Don’t forget to hit the “APPLY” button when you go to check out.

I’m having a GIVEAWAY at my blog!  A ten dollar Teachers Pay Teachers gift card is up for grabs.  Use it to buy items at the website or give it to a teacher.  It’s the perfect gift for every educator.  There’s just one question you’ll need to answer to enter the contest.  You’ll know the answer to it!  Answer question two to get an additional entry to the contest.  It’s something you won’t want to forget to do when you go through check-out on Teachers Pay Teachers today.  Click on the image shown to go to the contest.

Lessons by Molly



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Kindness & Christmas – Spread Christmas Spirit Wherever You Go

By Sparking Children’s Thinkibility

Grade: Kindergarten – Grade 5

Everyone can make a difference. Everyone can be kind. And everyone can have creative ideas about acts of kindness during the Festive Season!

There are many wonderful and creative lists where you can select acts of kindness that your students can carry out during December. If you are looking for ways to spark some thinking and give the creative muscles a workout, it may be a good idea to simply forget the lists, and instead, think dive into kindness and ways to spread it a bit deeper.

I love using questions to inspire thinking. And this method is increasingly becoming more popular.


What is kindness? Where in the body do you feel kindness? And how can you describe it?

Creating your own words is a great activity and the words can be used to write wonderful personal poems. The poems can be spread around in the neighborhood to spread some kindness. Or. . .

This package contains:

1. Question cards and Kindness vouchers

2.Things I Love about Christmas

3. Things other people and animal love about Christmas

4.Things some people may lack during Christmas

5, Things some animals may lack during Christmas

6. What is kindness? Make a list of Acts of Kindness

7.Make a list of Kindness Words and Create your own Kindness Words.

8. Where in your body do you feel kindness?

9. How can you Spread Christmas Kindness wherever you go?

10 How can you randomly spread Christmas kindness?

11. Can you write Heart-Shaped Poems?

12. Design a machine that spreads kindness.

13. What if a Christmas kindness machine breaks? How could you repair it?

14. How can you do kind things every day?

15, How can you Dream Big about the Festive Season?

16. How can you spread your Big Dreams about the Festive Season?

17. Design a Big Christmas Kindness Machine

18. Acrostic Poem

19. What if. . . make kindness snow

20. What if. . .

21. Design a flying machine that can spread Christmas Spirit.

22. How would you design a Spread Christmas Kindness and Love board game?

I would be delighted if you like to follow me on.

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FREE LESSONS & PRICED LESSONS – The Best of Teacher Entrepreneurs


Click on the links below to see the free lessons, priced lessons, sales, promotions, and articles by the best teacher entrepreneurs on the Internet!

The Best of Teacher Entrepreneurs Marketing Cooperative


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GIVEAWAY – Ten Dollar Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card

Happy Fall, Happy Late Saturday Morning, Happy Johnny Appleseed Day!  I’m all kinds of “HAPPY” today and I’m having a giveaway.  One lucky person will receive a ten dollar Teachers Pay Teachers gift card.  It’s good toward educational resources, clip art, and anything else on the Teachers Pay Teachers website.  Best of all, TPT gift cards NEVER expire!

The giveaway is open worldwide and I will send the winner an email with the code for the gift card.  When you go through “check out” at Teachers Pay Teachers, there’s an option that says, Redeem a Gift Card”.  Enter the code and hit “APPLY”.  There’s one thing you’ll need to do to enter the giveaway on the Rafflecopter.  Increase your odds of winning by doing the second task as well.  Click on the image shown below to go to my blog and enter the contest.  Hurry!  The give away ends on October 1st, 2016.

ten-dollar-teachers-pay-teachers-gift-cardThat’s all for now!

Molly McMahon, Lessons by Molly

Reading Logs for young readers? Here’s an alternative!

Rethinking Reading Logs for young readers

I have spent most of my career teaching little people, and a good part of that time parenting little people, too. One topic of great discussion (well beyond kindergarten and grade one) was that of the Reading Log.

As a first grade teacher, I had mixed feelings about sending them home. It’s fairly easy to figure out early on what will become of one’s students’ reading logs throughout the year. As parents, we all have the best intentions. Teachers know that. Many of us fill both roles.

Life gets busy, especially that in-between school and bed time when you have to make and clean up dinner between driving kids everywhere ensure they’re somewhat clean, and maybe even do some homework. I believe that most parents do read with, or to, their kids. Writing it down (especially when we’re exhausted and feeling like we’re being policed?) Well, that’s a whole other story.

How many evenings did I spend at the end of each month, sitting at my kitchen table with a selection of different colored pens, filling in my kids’ reading logs? We absolutely read each night, probably for too long, but we sure didn’t break the spell to keep track of it all!

It is because I valued passing on the love of reading that, in the case of traditional Reading Logs, our kids learned from me that I was okay with dishonesty (under very specific circumstances). Yep, they learned that the magic of reading trumped honesty. GULP.

The Parent / Teacher Connection:

When I was teaching Reading Recovery, between my training and the variety of students I had, I began to really understand the difference between passive and active learners, and the connection between our roles as parents and teachers. Have you heard the phrase ‘Never do for a child what he can do for himself’? I’m a believer.

There was a very definite link between how quickly my students that were more independent with getting ready for recess or home, for example, and using the strategies I was teaching them, were progressing through the program. Those who simply shrugged when I asked them a question, or stood daydreaming in the hall, expecting someone to come and zip up their jackets were the ones who seemed to struggle the most. They were also the ones who left their reading bags at home, waited to be directed for every step of the same structured lesson we had each day. Some of my students did not have bedtime stories because they ‘didn’t have time’. (That did not surprise me with the amount of time it took to travel down a short hallway!)

I have ‘rejigged’ the reading log for the little people, with the purpose of parents and teachers focusing on maintaining the natural enthusiasm and building responsibility for their learning in our little people! Have a look:

Th 2 Reading Log bw cover

This is the front

cover, with space

for the student’s

portrait and

name. Copy onto

colored paper

or let them color

it themselves! 

Th 3 Reading Logs

This is the first

inside page of

the Reading

Log, with the

legend and a

note for parents

explaining how

it all works! 

Th 4 10 June Reading Log

Students draw in &

submit reading

log with a page

completed monthly.

after discussing  

the 3 boxes at 

bottom at home.

strips - Copy

This is a later addition

to Reading Logs –

rejigged, for anyone

wishing to add extra

strips for additional

tracking (weekly?)

Simply return to your

My Purchases page &

download an update!

Th1 Familiar Reading explained! Free handout for parents and volunteers by ThatFunReadingTeacher

While this is not part of

Reading Logs – rejigged

it is the ideal info sheet

(& freebie) to include

with it or in your

familiar reading bags! 

It is my hope, that by focusing on each child as an individual ‘Superstar’ Reader (front cover), who has an important job to do in bringing his or her special Reading Folder or bag home regularly (hopefully with a library book to listen to, and/or some familiar reading), and returning it to school, it help foster a sense of pride in being a big kid who ‘reads’.

It is also my hope that our earliest little readers and their parents find reading stories at bedtime something they look forward to each night, and that stories accompany them elsewhere in their lives!

Below, please find the links to the free one month trial version and the full versions of Reading Logs – rejigged! If you like this idea, please pass it on!

I would love to hear your thoughts on reading logs, this new one, and alternatives you use.

Best wishes to all of you as we embark on another school year!

RL fr sample FREE SAMPLE

The full product comes with all 12 months, plus additional months  for August, October,

November, December and April to keep options open regardless of country or religion!
Reading Log preview.png - Copy












First Grade and Kindergarten Literacy Bundle

Follow That Fun Reading Teacher’s board Kindergarten Literacy Fun on Pinterest.


2015 TpT Store Prof pic circle

Click the symbol above to access my TpT Store! 😉


Which letters are most important to young learners, and a fun (and FREE) activity!

Which letters are important to young learners, and a fun activity to do with them! Blog post by That Fun Reading Teacher

If you want to get children’s interest, ask about their world.It really does revolve around them! The letters young kids learn to identify first are those that they see most often. Many of these are the letters in their names.There are a number of benefits beginning letter learning with letters a child is most familiar with.

Children learn best when they are happily engaged in what they are doing and are most enthusiastic when they feel confident.

With that in mind, here is the ‘how-to’ on the preparation and lesson for the ‘Letters in your name’ flipbook:


  • Using 8 ½ x 14 paper, prepare the blank flip books.  If a child has six letters in his name, you will need three sheets of paper to lay one on top of the other, leaving approximately two centimeters, or just under an inch between the bottoms of each piece of paper.  When you fold the three papers in half, you will have six layers (see photo).  Staple these pages together, covering any sharp staple ends safely.  You now have the template for the ‘Letters in your name’ flipbook!  Be sure to adjust for the length of each child’s name.
  • Usually the children associate themselves with the first letter of their name.  Consider whether or not you would like a photo to be used on the front cover so it can be ready for the activity, or provide people shaped tracers or stamps, and students can personalize from there
  • Have a variety of options available to the children for illustrating the pages in their book.  As noted in The benefits of a personal alphabet book, it is important to find out what the child naturally associates with each letter sound on her own.  Reading Recovery teachers are equipped with a collection similar to the index car box in the photo, which allows for a quickly accessible variety of pictures for every letter.  If what the child suggests is not available, it can simply be drawn.  Many sticker collections can provide great content for these files as well as photocopies and pictures from fliers.  Holiday fliers are particularly useful.  ‘Witch’ and ‘ghost’ are popular alphabet book flier additions, thanks to Party Packagers and their terrific advertisements!

    A Reading Recovery teacher's alpha photo file.

    A Reading Recovery teacher’s alpha photo file.

Materials for the activity: 

  • Upper case and lower case letter stamps (optional, but helpful)
  • Prepared flip books (with child’s name lightly marked in pencil on the back)
  • Glue sticks and coloring materials
  • Small group setting (best done as a center)
  • Scissors if using fliers that have not been cut
  • Pictures for pages of flip books

The Activity:

  • Introduce the activity by talking about names, how special they are, and reinforce that individuality and uniqueness are positive traits.

    For Joshua, 'a' is for 'apple'

    For Joshua, ‘a’ is for ‘apple’.

  • Talk about the importance of the first letter of a name. Make big emphasis on capitalization here.
  • Show the kids a model of the ‘Letters in your name’ flip book and ask them if they notice anything different about the first letter.
  • If you are using stamps, show them the two sets.  Explain how to use them, and about the difference between the upper and lower-case set.
  • Explain that just like every person is different and special, everyone’s name book will also be different.  Even if two children have the same name, it is important for them to choose a picture that jumps into their own mind right away when they hear a letter sound.
  • Aim for two or three letters per day with each child.  Say the letter sounds for the kids and ask them what comes into their mind when they hear them.  If nothing, then leave that letter and move on.  It is okay to leave a page blank.  This is the start of a record of the child’s letter learning.
  • Allow the children to make their pages special with colour and décor.
  • Once the class is finished with this activity, send it home to be shared, but only after the information is transferred into a more permanent alphabet book that the child will continue to work on at school. This alphabet book will be a reference for the entire school year, and perhaps the next one, too.
  • Have the children ‘read’ their ‘Letters in your name’ flipbook to others with pride.  Reading buddies, volunteers, family members etc.
  • Most importantly have fun!

What are some ways you introduce letter learning to kids?




The benefits of a personal alphabet book - lessons learned from my Reading Recovery days. A blog post by That Fun Reading Teacher.


Best wishes with Back to School, everyone!

 2015 TpT Store Prof pic circle

Librarian LightBox Slide Collection

Having a light box at my library circulation desk just makes perfect sense! I can let students easily know what’s happening or simply throw in an inspirational quote. There are plenty of people creating light box slides, but no one was creating them for the library…until now! This is a growing bundle, that I will be adding to as the school year progresses. Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 1.45.25 PM


Hurry now though, as the price will be going up August 31st (updates are FREE! So grab this resource at the lower price). I have a road trip coming up and will have 6 hours (each way) of time to fill…and creating more slides is part of my plan.


Easy to print, cut and use light box slides that are perfect for your library. This set will be growing, as events happen in my library.
Sized to fit your Heidi Swapp Light Box.


Slides include:

Welcome to the Library
Book Fair Coming Soon!
World Read Aloud Day
Books are now due.
National Book Week.


Library Light Box Bundle

MY TPT Share Board – new members welcome.

Mrs. Gray’s Place Instagram

Last but, and most important…by store: Mrs. Gray’s Place







Ms Makinson Earth Drawing ScreenshotI relaxed for several days in an ashram in India. I scaled Mt. Everest in a dangerous ascent. I explored declining sea life on faded reefs and in the depths of the ocean. I also gazed at famous paintings and scultpures in the Vatican, and I spent an entire week in Africa. I visited with the inventors of the airplane, the Wright brothers. WOW! I did quite a lot! How did I do it?

Find out @


Benefits of a personal alphabet book – a lesson from my Reading Recovery days

The benefits of a personal alphabet book - lessons learned from my Reading Recovery days. A blog post by That Fun Reading Teacher.


Why go to the trouble of creating a personal Alphabet Book for your students, instead of having everyone in the class work through each letter together? It sounds like a lot to manage, but creating links to a child’s life early in literacy learning is worth the confidence and gains they make later.

When I taught Reading Recovery to grade one students early in the school year, creating a personal alphabet book was one of the first things we did together when we started lessons. It wasn’t until seven years in to my teaching career that I understood the benefits of a personal alphabet book, and I have Dr. Marie Clay and my Reading Recovery teacher leaders to thank for that.

In Literacy Lessons Part Two, Dr. Clay explains:

The alphabet book is merely a record of what is known with spaces for what is ‘yet to be learned’  That gives the child a sense of the size of the task and a feeling of control over his own progress.  It also provides a location to return to when a troublesome letter, still being confused, turns up. (p37)

She explains that children do not generally learn to identify letters by name or sound in alphabetical order and that identifying a letter by name or sound is equally useful for a child early on, as it is most effective to teach both name and sound together.


When children have one word for each letter that he or she knows for sure makes that letter sound, they use it as an anchor, a concrete example to hold all other words against for comparison.

When they have their own sound alphabet that they have created from the words most meaningful to them, the words that pop into their minds with the initial letter sounds and that association gives them confidence that they know that particular sound.  It gives them the confidence to ‘spit’ that sound out when they see an unknown word on a page when they are reading, or put down that first letter when attempting to write a word they have never attempted before.

The personal alphabet book is the ultimate, at-a-glance reference guide. It is meaningful to each child, because that child constructed it from people and things that are meaningful to them already. The connections are already in place.

The key to the effectiveness of a personalized alphabet book is in its construction.  It must be done slowly but with enthusiasm, following the child’s lead, reviewed often and used as reference.

Years ago, we spent hours cutting up old coloring books and worksheets to use as images for our students’ alphabet books. This led to the creation of a kit as a time-saver! Try it free in the BTS Sampler, linked below!

Ready to create a personal alphabet book? Here’s how.


The Complete Alphabet Book Kit #BTS Big Bundle by That Fun Reader Teacher

Free Back to School Sampler by That Fun Reading Teacher How to create a personal alphabet book - a post by That Fun Reading Teacher.

Best wishes for Back to School, everyone!

I.M. That Fun Reading Teacher!

 2015 TpT Store Prof pic circle

Starting a Reading Buddies program in your classroom? Some tips and a freebie!


Starting a #ReadingBuddies program in your classroom- Some tips and a freebie to get you started!


Thinking about starting a Reading Buddies program in your classroom this year? Here are some tips and tools to get things rolling!

Consider putting School-wide Reading Buddies on a staff meeting agenda.

Discuss the benefits for all students with your divisional leads and administration, and even if the seed of the idea is planted to be reassessed next year, it will give you a sense of who might be open to a pairing for this year.

Take age into consideration.

An age / grade difference of 2-3 years between buddies puts a clear boundary between who the big buddies and little buddies are.

Approach a colleague about pairing classes…

…and be realistic about whether your schedules will work! Casual conversation over lunch can often accomplish this, but it seems like our time is less our own these days! I have created this free letter and form to simplify the process:

Reading Buddies teacher letter free 

Build Reading Buddy time into your timetable.

When ‘it’s official’ everyone knows what to expect, when. Perhaps it is alternate week familiar reading, word-work, or math skills review through games, part of character education or religious education for forty minutes. While  may Reading Buddies may not appear in on the timetable your principal has to hand in to the school board, it’s important that the kids have this special time to look forward to. It could even happen over lunch!

Define expectations to both classes.

This is accomplished best if done as individual classes, as the expectations differ for the age groups in some ways. Review general expectations when they are brought together for the first few times, and provide visual reminders. Reading Buddies time can quickly look like recess if sixty kids are unsure of what the rules are, half the kids, ‘read the book already’ and have decided to hang out with someone else!

Talk to your partner class’ teacher about general and specific expectations.

I wrote general expectations in a storybook lesson format for my students, explaining to the bigger buddies (third graders) ‘This is what I am reading to your little buddies‘ (kindergarters). One of my valued TpT customers reads her class the story, then posts the pages on a bulletin board! I love that!

Here are some ideas for general expectations from my Reading Buddies Starter pack:

Student expectations defined in That Fun Reading Teacher's Reading Buddies Starter Pack

What are some expectations that you find important to put in place during Reading Buddies time?

Best wishes to all you!

    I.M. at 

2015 TpT Store Prof pic circle


The benefits of a Reading Buddies program and not just the little buddies! by That Fun Reading Teacher Reading Buddies

#BTS Big Bundle by That Fun Reader Teacher Rethinking Reading Logs for young students by That Fun Reading Teacher


My Summer Adventures Poster

By Sparking Children’s Thinkibility

Grades: Kindergarten -3rd  Biology, Problem Solving, Visual Art

An engaging activity to place on students’ desks when they arrive back to school after the Summer Break.

Print the poster as it is at its current size, or blow it up to a larger size. Let your students fill in their Summer Adventures. When the posters are complete, let them share their memories with their classmates. Can also be used later in the week for creative writing.

TpT first day page 1-page-0

TpT first day page 2-page-0

Link to My Summer Adventures Poster: Back to School Activity

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LANGUAGE ARTS – “Play Uno Bundle Packet”

Grades K-4

by Reading on Strawberry LaneUno Bundle Cover

There are 6 syllable types in reading which are Closed Syllable, V-C-e Syllable, -r-Controlled Syllables, Open Syllables, Vowel Digraph & Diphthong Syllables, and Final Stable Syllables. The basic overall purpose of learning syllable type reading is to give students 6 reading strategies to aid them in chunking longer words into short, readable parts. This packet of 6 games give students a fun way to learn the syllable types. The games can be placed in language stations, or they can be played during small groups. This is a great game to use to differentiate a reading lesson. So enjoy as your students learn another way to break the code to reading!
Uno Bundle Pic 4

End of the Year Musings


By Deann Marin of Socrates Lantern

Baby Canada GeeseI always approach the end of the school year with mixed emotions, though I’m ecstatic to be out for summer vacation, I always feel a little sad saying good-bye.  Many of my soon to be 7th graders hug me and leave with tears in their eyes, knowing that our little family will no longer be together. All the trials and tribulations, the challenges, the fun times and sad times will be always be with us, but it will never be the same.

Reflecting back to the beginning of the year, I remember how small they were when they first entered my room, some shy and nervous about their first few days, others acting cool trying to impress their peers., especially those they don’t know. The first hurdle over, they’ve opened their lockers. Simple process for some while others end up in tears because they can’t figure out how to do it. By the end of the year, they look back at this and laugh at themselves.

How strict I am the first few weeks, trying very hard not to crack a smile. This is the time to get them into shape. so that we all have a great year. They learn the rules and always test me.  Finally, after awhile, I can let my hair down and be myself. I can crack jokes, they can joke around and we can all laugh together. This is when real learning takes place, and to see their “ah ha,” moments is what teaching is all about.

I love 6th graders, the majority are so willing to learn, that it makes teaching rewarding and enjoyable.. One of my favorite things is our morning discussions. Their backgrounds are quite diverse and I learn something new almost everyday. Many are knowledgeable about a lot of things and they’re eager to share. They can talk about whatever is on their mind, and they feel safe doing so. We are now, officially a family and I’ve become their surrogate parent.Sandhill Crane Flying

As I say good-bye, each of my kids takes a part of me with them.  I feel certain that I’ve given them the support, strength and confidence to move on to seventh grade.   The time has come for them to spread their wings a fly.

When I close the door for the final time, I take comfort in knowing that soon I’ll have another bunch of little chickadees to bring up.


Have a wonderful summer








On a closing note, please download my free, School Memories, you can use this for the last day of school.


Here are a few more items


Something for the end of the year and something for the beginning.



Please visit Socrates Lantern’s Social Media Sites


This post is part of our June Teacher Talk Blog link-up.  Please click on the links below.If you’re interested in joining this unique group of teacher entrepreneurs, blogging buddies and/or our blog linky, sign up here….The Best of Teacher Entrepreneurs Marketing Cooperative. If you decide to join, be sure to mention my name. 

Teacher Talk June

TpT Language Arts Lesson – Writing For Real Purposes: Fun Summer Lists!

Have you noticed that in the last few weeks of the school year, it gets more challenging to motivate kids to write? Many seem to only have the energy and patience for tasks that have real purpose. And let’s face it, kids are far more motivated to do what we do or what they see others excited about.




The Writing For Real Purposes: Fun Summer Lists storybook provides a model of students discussing how various types of lists are useful to them, and the lists they have made. (If you purchased this pack last year, simply download the update that now includes the storybook!)

Summer is an ideal time for making plans and getting kids involved in making lists. Being mindful of meeting them where they are, it is important to communicate flexibility in terms of the expectations for how the lists are filled in. Because some children may be writing while others are copying or drawing, each printable has a lined and unlined version (except for the Friends contact lists which have ‘mostly girls’ / ‘mostly boys versions’).

Think of the possibilities of summer vacation….

Packing Lists…

10 page storybook lessonSlide1

(Excerpts shown from here)


One of the storybook pages

5 Stuff to pack blank - Copy 7 Food list blank

Slide7 11 Things to pack for Water Fun

Lists for Summer Socials…

Slide6 Slide5

Slide10 Slide35

Lists of wishes, favorites and nostalgia…

Slide13 1 Summer Bucket list blank.png - Copy

Slide30 Slide16

Whether they draw or paste pictures, dictate to us while we scribe, print in hieroglyphics or phonetically spelled words, when students make real world connections to their own writing, it becomes its own reward!

Write for Real Purposes: Products and Freebies!

Th1 Th1

Th 1 Father's Day cover 300
Thank you for being my Reading Buddy!

Best wishes to all of you as we enter the last month of the school year!

That Fun Reading Teacher

2015 TpT Store Prof pic circle 200

FREE LESSON – Differentiated Mother’s Day Card for beginning writers (and BIG TpT site-wide sale on today and tomorrow!)

Free Lesson: Differentiate Mother's Day Card!

Hello my friends!
Is it just me, or did Mother’s Day sneak up on us as quickly as Easter this year?

In times like these, I’m grateful for the stash. (We all have a collection of never-fail, warm-fuzzy lessons and go to printables, don’t we?)

The time-saving factors in this Mother’s Day Card is twofold: 1) Print or photocopy and your students instantly have something to color, and 2) the inserts that allow each child to print (or paste if unable to print) at the level they are comfortable with. By pre-printing the various options, your students have different choices for how they can complete their Mother’s Day message, and most will be able to do something independently.

Disclaimer: Student names do need to be added to individual cards! 

Inside MD card 1

Some students might be capable of printing a message on their own. Others may copy from a strip or trace. Those who are not printing yet can simply glue their message in.

Copying Th4

Perhaps you’re working on 1:1 correspondence and would like to take this opportunity to practice. Cut the words apart and have your students reassemble the sentence in order, with or without a model.

Lesson from a recovering over-achiever:

Over the years I realized that I had to adjust my expectations to my circumstances. Some years we may have a smaller number of students in our class, students that work more independently or more support for our students with special needs. Particularly at this time of the year, and even more with Father’s Day, schedules go awry and every week feels more frantic than the week before.

This activity worked best, especially in more challenging years, when I let the students choose how they wanted to do the inside of the card. It came down to a decision:

Was the goal of the activity to teach and assess a particular goal or skill for any or all of my students, or for my students to simply enjoy creating something special for mom?

If you like to #DifferentiateByPrinting as is done with this card, check out these growing collections: Sight-Word-Stages Leveled Reader Sets and Read and Write and More!

On another note…

Did you see what I added to the title?  I am a mom and a teacher and a MAJOR appreciator of teachers myself. Thank you to all of you for getting in there with your students everyday. TpT has announced that it’s time to appreciate teachers with a big, site-wide sale! Please see the button below for details!

Enjoy the sale, and Happy Spring!

Teacher Appreciation Sale! Free Mother's Day card

SWS sq 350 Father's Day card


THREE $100 GIVEAWAYS of TpT Gift Certificates!

Follow these directions to enter to win THREE $100 GIVEAWAYS of Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Certificates… 

Directions on how to win the 

FIRST $100 TpT Gift Certificate:

Complete the Rafflecopter Contest Application at the bottom of this post to enter to win the FIRST $100 GIVEAWAY of a TpT Gift Certificate.  Click on the link, A RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY, located under “BETTER ODDS THAN VEGAS!!! ” to earn the raffle ticket entries.  (You may have to wait a minute for it to appear on your computer.)  The FIRST $100 GIVEAWAY of a TpT Gift Certificate will end at 11:00 P.M. on May 30, 2016 Pacific Time.

Earn a chance to have 10 bonus entries by clicking the “Bring your friends!” button and share this giveaway with your friends.

Directions on how to win the 

SECOND $100 TpT Gift Certificate:

All new members and members who have renewed their membership in The Best of Teacher Entrepreneurs Marketing Cooperative from February 17, 2016 – June 6, 2016 at 11:00 P.M. Pacific Time will be entered to win the SECOND $100 TpT Gift Certificate.  

Join more than 200 members of The Best of Teacher Entrepreneurs Marketing Cooperative and work together to market your TpT products.

♦ Get THOUSANDS OF PAGE VIEWS for your TpT products by advertising your free products, priced products, sales, and promotions on our blogs (The Best of Teacher Entrepreneurs, TBOTE II, or TBOTE III.)  Our premier blog, The Best of Teacher Entrepreneurs, has more than 31,000 average daily viewers.   Since the LINKS OF ALL OF THE POSTS FROM THE VARIOUS TBOTE BLOGS WILL BE ADVERTISED AGAIN IN ALL OF THE TBOTE BLOGS, your TpT products will be seen by thousands of potential buyers…

♦ Our TpT Sitewide Sale & Holiday Social Media Team and Weekly Social Media Team will help get your TpT products flying all over the Internet.

♦ Bring more traffic to your personal blog by joining Teacher Talk. Each month, members of this marketing team write a blog post on any educational topic.  The links from all of the blog posts are then displayed on all of the team’s blogs in addition to The Best of Teacher Entrepreneurs, TBOTE II, TBOTE III, and our WordPress blog.  All of the blog post titles, graphics, “teaser” sentences, and links will be compiled into a free TpT product at the end of each year.  Thus, your blog posts will continually be seen for years to come and bring even more traffic to your personal blog and TpT store…

Directions on how to win the 

THIRD $100 TpT Gift Certificate:   

All members of The Best of Teacher Entrepreneurs Marketing Cooperative will automatically be entered to win the THIRD $100 TpT Gift Certificate on June 6, 2016.  

The three winners will be announced at our blog, The Best of Teacher Entrepreneurs –

Feel free to email me at if you have any questions.

Wishing you the best,



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be an Endangered Animal Detective – Identify and Solve Problems

By Sparking Children’s Thinkibility

Grades 1st – 5th Biology, Earth Day, Other (Science)

A dive into the world of endangered animals is not always a pleasant journey. This package focuses on exploring possibilities and solutions. A range of animals are used as examples and there are cards that can be used as inspiration for storytelling as well as research.

 This package contains:

1. 16 Endangered Animals Cards, 2 blank cards

2. What I know and what I want to know

3. What is the difference between endangered animals and extinct animals?

4. Mind Map Endangered Animals – Orangutan plus an blank one

5. Ask the pygmy hippo questions about endangered animals

6. Main reasons people cause other species to become endangered

7. Endangered Animal Dictionary

8. Mind Map Habitat

9. A forest or a burrow?

10. The Amount of Space

11. What if it was possible to improve habitats?

12.Jane Goodall’s Work to Protect Chimpanzees

13.Blue Hyacinth Macaw – Animals as pets

14. Draw a poster

15. Slow loris – Animals as pets

16. Draw a poster

17. Which animals would you save first? Tally

18. My Action Plan to Help

19. Elephants and helmeted hornbills – ivory

20. Plan Your Endangered Animal Story

21. Write a Endangered Animal Story

22. Value of animals – biomimicry


Link to STEM Be an Endangered Animal Detective – Identify and Solve Problems


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Easter phrasing, fluency and fun (and a freebie for everyone!)

Easter Rhythm and Rhyme

It was almost Easter, and I found myself fighting off the urge to nod off while my students were reading some of the most entertaining leveled books schools can buy. My primary readers were in a slump. I heard it their robotic, monotone reading. Things needed shaking up with phrasing and pacing with a number of my early readers. I ran the risk of my head falling to my chest and a potential neck injury.

It was time for another Phrasing and Fluency Blitz!

When I taught Reading Recovery, there were times that a student would plateau at a a level for more than a week. We would be advised to take two or three lessons for a phrasing and fluency blitz – rereading some familiar, easier books to rebuild confidence, model and practice phrasing and pick up the pace! Many of our students’ favorites were readers that rhymed, had a lively rhythm and made us both laugh!

I used the freebie The Bunny Hop Easter Song and Movement Activity in Kindergarten poetry books as a music and movement activity. It works particularly well if modeled and echoed first before showing earliest readers the text:

This freebie also has a black and white version included with it – ideal for poetry folders!

It’s all about the Eggs is an Easter Fun Fluency Reader  modeled after I’m All About the Bass (performed by Meghan Trainor, co-written by Meghan Trainor and Kevin Kadish). I’m All About the Bass had been on the radio so much last year that my students knew the tune instantly. I modeled the first read to them, and we practiced a few phrases in isolation before we all enjoyed singing it fluently from beginning to end (over, and over and over again.)



There is a twist on a familiar Fairy Tale in this book that the kids find hilarious (but humor and laughter are topics for other days…).


Limitation of liability: It’s all about the Eggs is not recommended for those who are prone to getting songs stuck in their head or with one last nerve.

Happy Easter everyone!
That Fun Reading Teacher 
TpT Store Prof pic circle

original-1676037-1 Th 1 Easter freebie1 Th1 Where is my...


SWS page header Easter playlists

Be a Ladybug Detective – Life Cycle, Biomimicry, Inspiration for Ideas

By Sparking Children’s Thinkibility

Grades Kindergarten – 5th Biology, Visual art, Crtitical Thinking

Ladybugs are deliful creatures and they are found all over the world. There are 22-spotted yellow ladybugs and striped ladybugs.

There are also lots of things to be excited about when looking at the life-cycle of ladybugs. And many students love to think about the different stages.

In this booklet students are also asked to observe animals with the goal of getting inspiration for new ideas. Hopefully, these activities will make the learning fun and engaging.

When a ladybird flies it opens its wings that are under hidden under its elytra. The Elytra is the hard shell that protects the ladybird. The elytra are symmetrical. Every time a ladybird has finished flying it has to fold the wings back underneath the elytra.

This construction can be very useful when you are designing a helmet or playhat. Instead of always carrying a raincoat with you when you go for a bike ride, imagine that a raincover opens up like an umbrella under the helmet. Windshields blades could appear on the sunglasses, the ladybirds’ antenna inspired this idea.

We made a template that we used to sketch some design ideas for a ladybird helmet. Biomimicry is a great way to encourage children to draw and illustrate their ideas. Pastels were used on a black paper.


This package contains:

  1. Cards
  2. Can you identify the different stages?
  3. What is the connection between a larva and a ladybug?
  4. What do larvae and ladybugs eat?
  5. Fun Facts
  6. Metamorphosis Poem
  7. Ladybugs words – make your own dictionary
  8. Ask the larva Sparkling Questions about pupa and ladybugs
  9. Larvae are. . .
  10. Ladybugs are. . .
  11. Life cycle
  12. When is a ladybug a ladybug? Make a tally
  13. Can you fill in the different parts of the ladybug
  14. My Ladybug Gallery
  15. Ladybugs and aphids, and ladybugs everywhere
  16. Think diving for a ladybug detective – pest control
  17. Think diving for a ladybug detective – ladybugs wings
  18. Reflection – assessment
  19. How to use biomimicry in the classroom – VIsual art – Lady bug helmet

Link to STEM – Be a Ladybug Detective – Life Cycle, Biomimicry, Inspiration for Ideas

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