Sunday, August 3, 2014

"Give Me Five" - The Sequel

     My most popular post BY FAR is my post with the "Give Me Five" freebie. It's staggering to me that it has been downloaded on TPT over 80,000 times. How crazy is that?!? I was just watching a Whole Brain Teaching video and in the background, hanging on the board was the poster. It was so cool to see!
     I've had a lot of requests to add some other materials using the cute little clip art Give Me Five kids, and I've come up with something that I think will be useful when teaching the Give Me Five Routine.
I made an emergent reader to use for shared reading that explains the routine, a student coloring-book version of the book for the kids to complete and matching pocket chart cards. Using these materials to clearly present the routine will help the students fully understand the expectations. You can grab the pack at TPT by clicking on the picture. (Don't forget, the big back to school sale starts tomorrow and my whole store will be 20% off!)

I'll send a pack to the first few comments! (Don't forget to leave me your email.)

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Class of 2027 Tags (Freebie)

Hi There!

A friend and I are heading to Nashville tomorrow for a week of cowboys and honky-tonks - yeehaw! I'm super excited and can't wait to have a blast. I thought that before I left I would post a quick freebie. I've gotten a ton of emails asking if I was going to update the "Class Of" tags that I've made the past couple of years, so here they are! There are both English and Spanish versions as well as a new, coloring book option. Grab a copy then print, cut and laminate and you'll have a cute little goodie for the kids on the first day. Just click the picture to download.

If you have any tips for Nashville, let me know with a comment.  Enjoy!

Cute freebie from Peace, Love and Learning

Thursday, July 31, 2014

DIY "All About Me" Bags

Boy do I have a nifty little trick to share and a cute freebie for you to try out.

I was thinking about doing All About Me bags this year as a way for the kids to get to know each other. The way they work is that each student brings a bag home and fills it up with things that represent who they are and things they like. Maybe Bobby will put in a red crayon because that's his favorite color and a baseball card because that's his favorite sport. Maybe Susie will put in a SpongeBob doll because that's her favorite TV show and a matchbox car because it's her favorite toy. It's a great way for the kids to share who they are and also a great way for you to assess oral language skills.

I poked around online for printed bags that I could buy. I looked at all of the websites I could think of, and saw a lot of 100th Day bags and Valentine's Day bags, but no All About Me bags. So I decided to tackle the problem by figuring out how to print them myself. Follow along and if you want to give them a try, you can grab the freebie down at the bottom of the post.

1. First you'll need to get paper lunch bags. I thought white would work the best, so I headed to Target. They have packs of colored lunch bags for $2.19. Score!

2. I worked forever to get the margins and alignment right, but I finally got everything to be hunky-dory. You just have to make sure that the bag is all the way over to the right of your printer's sheet feeder and that the folded end goes in first (see pic).

3. Send the bags home with your students. They can color them in to look like themselves, fill them up and then bring them back to school. They can then have their moment in the spotlight as they share their contents of the bag with their classmates. You can send the bags home all at once or just a few at a time.

4. Don't forget to make an All About Me bag of your own to share with your class. We all know how much they love to discover everything they can about us!  Here's what's going in mine:

  1. I drive a Jeep and I LOVE it!
  2. A picture of my Mom and Dad with my dog Sally.
  3. I like to watch football games - go Steelers!
  4. A little beagle that looks like my sweet little Sally.
  5. An apple because they are my favorite fruit.
  6. Ewww! A spider because I'm terrified of them!
  7. A shell because I love the beach.
  8. A plane because I love to travel.
I have to say, I think they're pretty cute and I love the way they turned out! I can't wait to use them with my new little kinder-lovelies. You can grab a free copy here if you want to give them a try. Leave a comment and let us know what would go in your All About Me bag . . .

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

One More Good Read and a Sticky Freebie

     I love when I walk into the bookstore and see a book that is a perfect fit for something I'm planning to teach. One such book that was new to me but was actually published a year ago is the hysterical Too Much Glue by Jason Lefebvre. The little boy in the book ignores his teacher's warning that if he uses too much glue it will never dry. He creates a gooey mess and ends up sticking himself to the desk. His friends try to help him and finally his dad saves the day. It's really funny, the illustrations are impressive and I think the kids will love it. It will make a great launching pad for a beginning of the year lesson on how to use glue the right way. I made a little practice sheet to go along with the book and you can grab a free copy by clicking on the picture.

Cute Freebie from

     I have an emergent reader and craftivity that I use at the beginning of the year to reinforce the concept of "Just a dot, not a lot" that will be a great follow up for Mr. Lefebvre's masterpiece. By using them together, I think we can avoid having any "melted mummy, clicky bricky, clingy stringy, blucky stucky glue boys."  I'll send a copy to the first few people who leave comments.

Have a great night!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Another Great Read

     I think my favorite new book I stumbled upon in the bookstore is Pardon Me! by Daniel Miyares. First of all, I can totally relate to the little yellow bird, who is the main character in the book. He just wants a few minutes of peace and quiet hanging out on his perch in the swamp. (I know the feeling!) One by one, other animals join him and interrupt his solitude with a polite, "Pardon me," but the bird just cuts them off and gets grumpier and grumpier. When the last animal comes by, the bird totally loses his cool and doesn't give anyone a chance to say a thing. This is a very unfortunate choice for poor Mr. Bird. I won't ruin the ending, but it's done in the fashion of I Want My Hat Back and This is Not My Hat and you have to really make an inference based on the dramatic picture. This book will be great for using when teaching about looking at the pictures for clues and making inferences. I made a little cut and paste freebie to go with this great read. grab a copy by clicking on the picture.
Happy Reading!
Cute Freebie from

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Hats Off to A Good Read

     I know that ordering from Amazon is quick and easy but there is just nothing like spending an hour or two in a real, live bookstore. The smell of new books brings me back to being about 10 years old and getting a new "Little House on the Prairie" book (I'm dating myself, aren't I?) and cracking the spine for the first time. Ahhh . . . once a reader. always a reader.
     I stopped in Barnes & Noble today to pick up a gift. I was in a bit of a rush because I had 27 things on my To Do list today, so I promised myself that it would be a quick in and out stop. Well, Bookstore - 1, Me - 0. I was there for 2 hours. 120 minutes. I did not make it to the post office or to Target, but I have a whole big bag of new books! So I think I should revise the score because it's really a win-win: Bookstore - 1, Me - 1!
     I thought I would share a couple of the gems that I found over my next few posts.

     They say you can't judge a book from it's cover, but the minute this first book caught my eye, I had a feeling it would be a good one. Released just last month and titled Hooray for Hat, this sweet story is Brian Won's debut book and it is darling. (I can't remember the last time I actually used the word, "darling," but it really is the perfect word to use here.) Elephant wakes up grumpy and is quickly cheered when he finds a wonderful gift-wrapped hat on his doorstep. As he heads out to show his friends, he finds them grumpy as well (must be a Monday!) and shares his hat with them. By the end of the book, there is a joyous parade of hat-wearing friends. It is such a sweet story of friendship, sharing, and helping others feel good that I can't wait to read this book to my new class next month. Repetitive text will encourage class participation and the wonderful illustrations (also by Mr. Won) will keep students engaged. This will be a great book to read when trying to establish the kind of classroom climate that I hope to create because Mr. Won has included so many of the traits that I hope to foster. Friendship, sharing (and great accessorizing) - what more do you need? An instant fan, I can't wait to see what Mr. Won comes up with next. I made a quick little activity to use with the book (you can grab a copy by clicking on the picture) so dust off your hat, run to the bookstore, and don't forget to spread a little friendship today.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Birthday Road Trip Freebie

I have a twin sister named Danni and we just celebrated our birthday on Thursday. I think we were about 2 years old in the picture below and my mother was still in her unfortunate "dress them alike" phase. (I still think we were pretty cute!)
We wanted to celebrate in style this year, so after a family cookout on Friday, we hit the road for a Fourth of July weekend away. We decided to drive up the coast a little here in Connecticut and enjoy some good ol' seaside Americana.

Our first stop was a cute little town named Niantic. It was the kind of quaint seaside New England town that you see on postcards. We went to the LobsterFest (yum!) and walked around a bit. It was SO pretty.
Niantic, CT

The next day we hopped back in the car and drove a bit further East to another little village named Stonington. The main street was all decked out for the Fourth and we found some adorable little shops to buy ourselves some birthday presents. Bracelets and earrings and rings, oh my!

Stonington, CT

Then we officially left "apple pie" mode and jumped right into "Mamma needs a new pair of shoes" mode and hit the Mohegan Sun Casino for a night. We treated ourselves to a room right at the casino which was a-ma-zing! It was on the 30th floor and had a river view so we totally felt like high rollers. Unfortunately, we didn't win any shoe money, and we both left in the red (although I managed to lose only 4 dollars so maybe I left in the pink). 
The View from Our Window

We had a great time and are already making plans for our next road trip! To share a little of the Birthday Extravaganza, I thought I would post a little birthday freebie. When one of the kids in my class has a birthday, we make a birthday book for him/her. Each friend makes a page, then we put them together for a Birthday Book. The kids LOVE having something special to bring home. Click on the picture to grab a copy.

Have a great night!

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Alarm Clock vs. The Bucket (Freebie)

     My least favorite moment of each week is when my alarm clock goes off Monday morning at 4:45 a.m. and I have to wake up. I am not a morning person AT ALL and since my weekend sleep schedule is all over the place, it is ridiculously hard to get up and start the week.  During this past school year, my alarm clock and I went head to head on 38 separate Mondays, and the alarm clock won on all of them. All 38. But not today . . .

     Today was the first Monday morning of my summer vacation and the alarm clock is now living somewhere under the bed. (For the next 7 Mondays too - woohoo!) Now that the alarm clock has been put in its place and I have some free time, I can get on with some summer plans. I've made myself a summer bucket list to try to get through.

1. I want to get back to more regular blogging. I've been a little neglectful lately, and I miss connecting with everyone and sharing ideas. So, my summer goal is to pop in at least once a week.

2. Work in my classroom to tackle a few tasks such as organizing my classroom library and guided reading books.

3. Clean and organize my garage. I've been putting it off for way too long. Hopefully I'll be motivated by #4 . . .

4. Shop for a new car. I commute about 400 miles a week so I've pretty much driven my Jeep into the ground. We've had a good run so I think I'm going to stick with another Jeep.

5. Paint and upgrade my kitchen. Not a total overhaul, but I'm ready for a change.

I'm sure I'll come up with some more, but since I have some travel plans, I think this is a realistic start. To share my joy of having conquered the alarm clock and having time to work on the Bucket List, here's a little freebie. There are three versions - beginning sounds, ending sounds, and middle vowel sounds and you can use them as a quick assessment to see where the kids are with their letter sounds.
Just click on the pic to grab a copy.

I hope your alarm clock is under your bed as well!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Celebrating Mom

As another Sunday night comes to an end, I'm sitting here trying to finish my plans for the week . I'm trying to squeeze in some Mother's Day goodies for the kids to make and bring home but I've found so many cute ideas (I blame Pinterest - wonderful, horrible, addictive Pinterest) that I'm trying to narrow them down. One thing that I know for sure will make the cut are the cute cards I made last year. They were such a hit with the moms and the kids loved making them - they definitely earned a repeat performance! If you're looking for a cute, easy project, take a look at the step by step directions down below. I found everything in the craft and baking aisles at Walmart and the materials for the whole class only cost about $8.00.  Happy Mother's Day!

Adorable Mother's Day Card from Peace, Love and Learning

Adorable Mother's Day Card from Peace, Love and Learning

Adorable Mother's Day Card from Peace, Love and Learning

Adorable Mother's Day Card from Peace, Love and Learning

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Spring Freebie

Spring has finally sprung here in Connecticut. Although there was a little snow last week while we were on Spring Break, the little purple flowers in my front yard are popping up. I was in Target yesterday and I found the cutest little Springtime snacks. The teacher in me was immediately creating math activities using the cute little spring themed fruit snacks. I made two different activities so I could differentiate a little, and I thought I would share. Just click on one of the pics to grab a copy.

Happy Spring!

Spring Math Freebie from Peace, Love and Learning

Spring Math Freebie from Peace, Love and Learning

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Lucky Charms Meets the Common Core (Freebie)

With the new common core standards in math, I decided that the classic Lucky Charms graph that I've been using for years needed a bit of a makeover. So, I incorporated ten frames and addition to touch upon both Counting & Cardinality and Operations & Algebraic Thinking.  I think the kids will have a blast with it while unknowingly stretching their brains a little.

If you're up for a wee bit o' fun, just grab a copy below, stop at the store for a box of Lucky Charms and have a great St. Patrick's Day!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

P is for Love??? (Freebie)

    This post is a bit of a personal story, but if you read through to the end, I promise there's a really cute freebie for you!

    Some women become friends when they meet at the gym, or when they discover a shared passion for coffee, or when they find a like mind at a book club meeting. My friend Susan and I however, bonded over something a little less cultured - we bonded over a couple of weenies (figuratively, not literally). After college, we were dating two creeps young men who were friends and the four of us often did things together. When those silly boys showed their true colors as complete weenies, we left them behind and have been BFFs ever since. Over the years, we’ve been through a lot together. We’ve celebrated things like new houses, new jobs, happy biopsy results and milestone birthdays. (Although our 30th birthday extravaganza in Scotland is still a little fuzzy because we met our goal of 30 pubs in the week we were there!)  We’ve also cried together through things like broken engagements, health scares, and the loss of loved ones. Susan (whom I annoyingly call QZ) is like a sister to me, and my parents even consider her their fourth daughter.  I know that she unwaveringly has my back, and likewise, there is nothing I wouldn’t do for her.
     QZ has five dogs. Five big dogs. Five really, really big dogs. Great Danes and Mastiffs and mutts, oh my!  (Some people say that she is one dog away from being The Crazy Dog Lady, I tend to think she's already there.) Their names all start with the letter P (Pumpkin, Petunia, Phoebe, Peroguey and Phawn), and they are her joy. They are her heart. She loves them with the fierceness that you would expect of any mother. She’s happy when they’re happy, she dances when they dance (and they do dance), and she hurts when they hurt.  She would give anything she has to keep her “P”s happy and healthy.
The 5 Ps and their pile o' love.

     A few weeks ago, QZ found out that Peroguey has cancer and needs chemotherapy. Peroguey has recently started her treatment and is being a real trooper. She's getting a lot of love from the other Ps and my fingers are crossed that she'll come through it all with her tail wagging.
Named Rogue when she was adopted, she became Peroguey so she could be a "P.".

     Imagining the worry and stress that this is causing QZ, along with some family issues she's dealing with right now, not to mention the insane expense of it all had me wondering what I could do to help QZ and the sweet, sweet Ps.  Well, I came up with a plan. It's not much, but I hope that it helps a little.

     First, because I've been thinking of her a lot, I  made a set of Peroguey-inspired pattern block cards. My class has been obsessed with pattern blocks lately, so I think they'll love them. (You can grab a free set by clicking on the picture down below.)  The next part of the plan is to donate all of the proceeds from my pattern block sets to Peroguey's treatments. They've been pretty popular on TPT so I'm hoping to help make a little dent in the ridiculous vet bill. If you grab the dog set and like it, I'm hoping you'll check out some of the other ones, too.

P is for puppy. P is for Peroguey. P is for love . . .

Other sets that you might like:


Have a great week!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Research in Kindergarten?

You betcha!

     I love when someone who doesn't spend a lot of time in kindergarten walks into my room and when they see what the kids are doing, their jaw drops open and they say something like, "I can't believe that kindergartners are subtracting/writing poetry/doing research." We do so much more in kindergarten than we did even a few years ago, and visitors are often surprised at how much we challenge our little guys. It sure ain't your Grandma's kindergarten anymore!

     This happened to me a couple of weeks ago when we were in the middle of our nonfiction unit. One of the upper grade teachers in my school popped in and was amazed to see that the kids were doing independent research projects. I told her we were tackling the process in a "kindergarten friendly" way, which involves a few steps that I've tweaked over the past few years so that all of the kids can be successful. I thought I would share in case anyone is looking for a way to get started. This is what we did . . .

Step 1: Prep
           I decided that we would just focus on animals, so I came up with three facts that I thought would be both interesting and easy to research. The kids were responsible for finding out what their animal looks like, what it eats and where it lives. I gathered a whole bunch of nonfiction animal books for the kids to choose from. (This took a little bit of time because I wanted to make sure that the books I picked had clear illustrations because many had text that was just not accessible to most of my beginning readers.) Then, I got the materials ready for the first day of research. I put three small stickies with icons for each fact on a sentence strip for each student. We were ready to go
Kindergarten Research - Peace Love and Learning

Step 2: Research
     For each of the first three days, I focused my Readers' Workshop mini-lesson on looking for one of the chosen facts. Modeling with a big book, I showed the class how to find the information I was looking for and how to mark it with the matching sticky note. When I sent them off to get to work, they were so excited to find what they were looking for - we were official researchers!
Kindergarten Research - Peace Love and Learning

Step 3: Note Taking
     On each of the days that we did our research in Step 2, we carried over our project into our Writers' Workshop time. I gave the kids a tri-fold graphic organizer to write down the information they had collected that day. (I enlarged onto 12x18 construction paper so they had a big space to write in.) We discussed making illustrations true to life and the kids were encouraged to add details.
Kindergarten Research - Peace Love and Learning
 I love how this little researcher spelled "koalas" and "trees."

Step 4: Publishing
     Once all of the research was done, we took all of the facts we'd learned and wrote nonfiction books about our animals. I simply provided a cover sheet and blank pages and the kids went to town. They did such a great job! Even my reluctant writers were excited to share their new knowledge. The kids were so proud of their finished books that we visited our 5th Grade Reading Buddies to show them off.
Kindergarten Research - Peace Love and Learning

Our first Reading and Writing nonfiction units of study were a big success and the kids really have a firm grasp on how to read and write nonfiction books. If you'd like to give it a try, you can download the materials I used by clicking on the picture below.  Happy Researching!
 Kindergarten Research - Peace Love and Learning