Thursday, August 11, 2011

Chronicles of Narnia podcast

Photo credit
I recently came across the Chronicles of Narnia podcast. Listening to audiobooks is a win-win for anyone involved: It can help pass the time on road trips, struggling readers can listen to the words as they follow along with the printed text, younger children can hear the book even before they can read it independently. At one school where I taught, students were able to check out iPods (with parent permission) in order to listen to audiobooks like this one. While not all schools are able to offer iPods, I think that offering this kind of a service (even just at school) is valuable. Finding the mp3 files for free is a bonus, too!

How have you/could you use audio books in your classroom?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Where little heads lie down

Growing up, I always begged my mom to let me have my own room. In fact, several years in a row I wrote "My own room" on my Christmas list as something that I wanted. My mom worked out a great rotation to let each of her three daughters have their own room for a short while. While I thought that the solution, at the time, was mediocre, I know now how I should be quite thankful. A friend shared this link with me from the NY Times featuring photos of where children around the world sleep.

How could you use this to inspire discussions in your classroom? How could having students draw a picture of their bedrooms reveal something about their lives?

300 free labels from Staples

Staples has a great coupon for 300 free printed labels this week from their print center. Last week, I used their coupon for 100 free B&W business cards for my name cards and they turned out beautifully. I'm thinking that these labels could be used to label your classroom belongings. Or, use them as return address labels.

How would you use them?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

New products online!

With a new change in my schedule, I'm thrilled to announce that I will have the time and flexibility to review and post more of my materials online. Not only will documents be posted here, but you can also find free and low-cost materials at my Teachers Pay Teachers online store at Check it out!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Breaking through writer's block

When I was in fourth grade, one of my homeroom teachers was a professional children's book author. Therefore, during our day, it was he who taught us writing. Though I enjoyed him as a teacher, I remember one day in particular where he asked us to think up a character and some sort of story line to write a narrative story of sorts. My character was a blue, flexible mouse. Yes, a flexible, bendable mouse. She was rather boring and I felt stuck writing a story about her for lack of other ideas. Oh, if only I had had a website like this one to get my writing juices flowing!

Online Story Makers is a compilation of sites where students can create a story scene of sorts. Particularly for grades one through four, I could see this is a creative outlet to not only serve as the basis of a story, but to safely explore the basics of computer use as they select and drag characters for their story. There are plenty of choices for students and the site pulls from a wide variety of genres and children's book materials to meet all of students' needs.

If you're thinking the resources are just a compliation of cartoon characters, think again. Places like Storybird use real artists' work (as professional as you'd find in a children's book) to make high quality-looking stories.

I can't wait to book computer time for my students and to use this creative outlet!

What are your favorite ways to encourage students in the pre-writing process?

P.S. A special thanks to my librarian Cris for pointing out this resource!

Photo from

Bopping along

My third graders work hard to find information in the Bible. Being at a Christian school, this is a resource we rely on all the time, so it is necessary that students know how to navigate their way through the Bible. After using another video song for awhile, I came across the Bible Bop today. I think kids will like the easy-to-sing catchy tune, which is performed by the GoFish Guys. Check out the video above and the rest of their resources here.

What are your favorite ways to get students familiar with the Bible books or other text organizers?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Photo workshops for kids

Photo by Shermeee
Today I ran across a website called 503 Workshops, which offers online photography workshops for kids (ages 7+) and adults. After a recent video project with my elementary students (grades 3-5) in which the students brought back a more than a few less-than-flattering shots, I think this would be a fantastic workshop for kids to learn the power of communicating effectively with photos. After all, so much of our world today is communicated digitally and through images.

The workshop, which has summer sessions lasting for several weeks, is a tad on the expensive side, but can be done anywhere in the world--a plus for teachers like me who live outside of the U.S.