Sunday, November 30, 2014

Diary of an Elf: A FREE Writing Activity

Hi All.
It's Amber from School Is a Happy Place.
Does an elf visit your classroom?
Well, for the past few years one has came to see my kids.  They seem to enjoy spotting our elf and doing elf themed activities during the few weeks leading up to Christmas break.  
I am not very creative when it comes to staging my elf.  But, that doesn't seem to matter one bit.  Just the fact that he moves from place to place is super exciting.

One elf themed activities that I love using with my young learners is my elf journal, Diary of an Elf.

With this journal, students can record basic information about their class elf.  They can write about the elf on a daily basis, every other day, or once a week.  It is totally up to you.  
This assignment is a great way to introduce voice and perspective in writing.  The best entries tend to be when students pretend to be the elf and write their entries first person.

We start our journals on the first day that our elf arrives.  After I read The Elf on the Shelf and our class chooses a name for our elf, we complete the introduction and calendar pages.  For the next several days students write about our elf on the journal entry pages.

This activity is fun and very simple to execute.  Most importantly it engages students and works a little more writing practice into the day.  
You can click here if you would like a free copy of Diary of and Elf to use with your students.

Thanks so much for stopping by.
Happy teaching!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Cyber Monday Blog Hop FINAL STOP!

Welcome to the final stop for the Cyber Monday Blog Hop with GoNoodle and Primary Powers! We hope you have enjoyed all of the great ideas from the Heroes and have found some new ways to use GoNoodle to make your classroom even better! 

All educators know that getting kids moving is a great way to activate their brains and help the learning “stick.” GoNoodle Plus does exactly this. There are plenty of activities in literacy and numeracy that will help your students grow their bodies and minds. 
Working on fact fluency? Try Mega Math Marathon! 
Extending vocabulary? Try Word Jam!

These are just 2 of plenty of other educationally supportive videos available only in GoNoodle Plus. You can rest assured knowing that your students can dance and sing (and learn) to content-rich, grade-appropriate, and engaging videos!

If you happen to teach in an area that that uses Common Core, the activities are aligned to the Common Core. If you are allergic to CCSS, no need to run and hide! The activities are adaptable so you can tailor and customize the content for your specific lessons, needs, and students.

If you are interested in checking out GoNoodle Plus, try a free 2 week trial! You can access the free trail from inside your GoNoodle account, then see all of the GoNoodle Plus games in the GoNoodle Plus channel.  And once you fall in love (because you will), GoNoodle Plus subscriptions are $10 a month or $99 for the year.

This year I'm asking parents to skip the travel mug this holiday season and donate to a GoNoodle Plus fund for our classroom. It's a gift that benefits the whole class. I am sending home this letter asking families to consider donating to our project through DonorsChoose. Feel free to use the letter your your families, too! It is editable!

We have a few big announcements: 

As you likely already know, starting on Cyber Monday, GoNoodle is also offering all Primary Powers readers 30% purchases from the GoNoodle Shop through December 8! Use the code POWERS30 at checkout to receive the discount PLUS a special gift from GoNoodle and Primary Powers. In addition to new t-shirts, tumblers, and other goodies for GoNoodling teachers, you can purchase affordable, pre-wrapped gift packs for students to bring a little GoNoodle love to your classroom this holiday. 

Primary Powers and GoNoodle are beyond excited about this next thing… 

You could win a year-long subscription to GoNoodle Plus! 

That’s right… one of Primary Powers’ readers will be winning a whole year of GoNoodle Plus ~ and it could be YOU! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
If you’d like to go back to the beginning and see all of the great tips the Heroes have to offer and take your chance at winning some GoNoodle swag along the way, click here:

Good Luck and Happy GoNoodling!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Those Pesky Ending Sounds!

Hey guys and dolls, how's it going?
Before I get too far in this post, the girls from Primary Powers and
I would love to wish all of our readers a....

Don't eat too much turkey and pie!! (Who am I kidding, eat it all!!!)

Today I'm here to talk to you about the one thing that my kiddos 
are having a hard time with this year!!


I've found that they do a great job during whole group and during small group.

However, when it's time for independent work, it's another story!!

Next week when we go back to school there will be an independent ending sounds center!!

This freebie also comes with two different recording sheets, for differentiation!

If I feel that some students need more practice, I can easily 
pull this center for small group and intervention, and we can complete it together!

Click on the picture below for your copy!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Hey everyone! It's Heather from Second Grade Perks.

Have you met NearPod ( I was just introduced recently and LOVE it. First of all it's free and on top of that it's learning with technology......did I mention it's free? Students will sign in and you have control of their screen, so you guide them through a lesson and there is so much along the way from videos to quizzes.

I have to warn you there are going to be tons of pictures but that's how I learn best so that's how I'll show you. First, you will create an account which is super easy. Next, go to the store.

You can purchase lessons but there is a free section too with a ton of choices.

The ones I have clicked on so far give an age range or grade in the corner. You might want to look at that because I clicked on making inferences based on character traits but it said 6th grade. This subject and predicate lesson is for 7 years and up.

Once you get the lesson you want just hit download. It will store all the ones you download in your library.

If you already have the one you want to use downloaded you will just go to My Library from this screen when you log in.

So now for the fun part....the actual lesson with your class.They will also go to and enter their name. You will have a share code to give them and they just enter it to join your lesson.

The lesson starts out with an objective and then some lessons have videos and quizzes and gives information and reviews about your topic.

The best part is you are controlling your students screens through the lesson. When you click the next page of the lesson their screens go to the next page with you. 

When they take the quiz it will give you their answers and score. My example just had one student.

It stores everything so you can go back later and look at the reports.

I was not paid nor does the site know I even blogged about this. I just thought this was too great not to share. I mean what teacher doesn't love free technology?? Hope this is something you can use.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Student-Designed Calendar Time!

Hello! I'm excited to be back to share more teaching ideas with you! 
I'm Elizabeth from Learning with Lizz R. 
My favorite spot in my first grade classroom is my calendar area. I just love meeting with my group of first graders to share new vocabulary, stories, have meaningful discussions, and engage in calendar activities. 

When I started teaching first grade this year, all of my calendar pieces were for 2nd and 3rd graders... That just wouldn't do! My school did not have a calendar program, so I decided to get inspired by a first grade teacher I once worked with, and have my students make their own calendar pieces! The results have been amazing! My students love calendar time more than ever!
At the end of each month, my students and I decide what we will draw for our calendar pieces. We tailor them to match what we are learning. I place their pieces on the calendar in a "secret" pattern. As the days pass by during the month, the "secret" pattern is revealed and we make daily predictions as to what picture will be revealed next. These discussions are very meaningful, and they are a chance for students to practice identifying patterns, algebraic thinking, and supporting their answers with a "because" statement. 

"I think ____ will be next because _________________."

In September, we learned about apples. I used a growing pattern for this month. Students used real apples to inspire their artwork. 

In October, my students loved learning about the different types of leaves. We drew leaves that grow near our school and learned about their names. My kids loved identifying leaves after drawing their calendar pieces for this month! It is hard to see, but I used an ABCD pattern. 

This month, students chose to draw turkeys and pumpkins. We went by the popular vote! I have two different patterns happening this month. Can you see the two patterns? 

To make our calendar more interactive, we take a class vote for our theme of the month. I have each student draw two calendar pieces, that way I can easily create multiple patterns for the month.

When the month is over, I display the calendar pieces in our classroom! This is a great way to see a timeline of our learning!

I hope this post inspires you to implement a student-designed calendar time!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

QR Code Tutorial!

Happy Saturday friends! This past spring, I got to attend the CUE Conference in lovely Palm Springs, CA. If you're wondering what it is, CUE is the largest and oldest education technology conference in CA. Over the past 30 years, CUE has helped educators, technology coordinators, administrators learn how technology can support student achievement growth in the classroom. It's really been an awesome experience getting to see first hand what educators are using in the classroom and most importantly...what works!

Since my district is implementing 1:1 Chromebooks, most of the sessions I attended were Chrome or Google App related. But one of the sessions I attended was all about using QR codes in the classroom. Hmm...I thought to myself. I've seen 'em. I've even bought products that had these fuzzy square shaped things in them! I mean, I essentially knew you just pointed your cellphone or iPad camera at the image and BAM! You'd get a message, website, or image sent to your phone. Well my sweet education friends, there is SOO much more you can do with QR codes...especially in the classroom! So, today I'll be showing you step-by-step on how to create your own QR codes. 
Before I go onto the tutorial I have planned, here are a few quick facts about these magical square boxes...let the tech nerd in me share what I learned at my conference! ;)
  • QR is an acronym for "quick response barcodes"
  • QR codes started in Japan as part of car part identification  
  • Static QR code=always goes to just 1 place 
  • Dynamic QR code=code stays the same BUT it takes them somewhere else each time
  • Use them to embed images, links, numbers, or videos
  • Holds more info than a traditional code=unlimited possibilities!
There are TONS of QR code generators out there. A few suggested ones are Kaywa and GOQRme. Both are free and easy to use. I'm using Kaywa for this tutorial. I wanted to start with something simple...not complex for my qr code. I thought creating planet review cards for my kids would be the perfect addition to our Solar System Unit. So, I started out by creating an account with Kaywa. Once I signed up, I chose to create a static QR code that would always go to the same website or text when the kids scanned it. This is what you would see on your screen at this first step.
Next, I would choose where I'd like the code to go when it is generated. I picked a url for the planet Jupiter. Once you click generate, you'll see the QR code pop up! YAY! You've just created your first QR code! 
I then saved my QR code to my super organized desktop so I could paste it into my planet flash card.
And here is the finished product! Now when a student scans this Jupiter planet card, it will take them to a reading informational text passage about this specific planet!
But wait! You're not through yet! You have to test your QR code to make sure the link works the right way and your kids will be able to access the correct link. Be sure to try more than just one QR code reader. A great free tool is QR Code Reader, which automatically takes you to whatever it “reads.” This is what mine looked like on my can use it on an Android as well.  
Just click and wait for the ping or vibration to let you know it's read the code correctly. The camera on your phone or device scans the QR code. I scanned my computer picture, but you can also print and scan from any type of paper source. Mine worked perfectly and directed me to the reading passage online! Super easy to use!
The next and LAST (thank goodness) step is to track the number of scans by analyzing your data...similar to what google analytics does for blogspot blogs. You can see how many times your QR code was scanned or looked at, where and if they are being scanned. ALL sorts of great data! If you link the QR code to you blog or site this would be a great tool to see what traffic is being brought to your site. 

That's it my sweet friends! You are now ready and able to create a QR code on your own! You don't only have to use them for reading passages. QR code serve SO many purposes in the classroom! Here are a few ideas I've seen/heard from other teachers:
  • Create QR codes that need to be looked at in a dictionary or book 
  • Put them around the school library with links to book reviews and blog posts
  • Kids can scan and launch QR codes with mobile devices like iPads or tablets
  • Make a QR code to link to a specific video or tutorial 
  • Have a scavenger hunt around the classroom 
  • Take a virtual field trip to anywhere the code takes you 
The possibilities are endless! I hope you've learned a thing or two about using and creating QR codes for your classroom! What do you see yourself using QR codes for? I'd love to hear all about it!