Thursday, September 26, 2013

Happy Fall From Scooter and Socks!

Scooter and Socks welcoming the First Graders on the first day of Fall!
Now....if only the weather would cooperate.  Or the leaves would change colors and stay on the trees for a while so that we can actually enjoy them....and then fall off so that we can jump in them!  
OR maybe we will just love the fact that there isn't any SNOW in the forecast yet!

Keep On Dancing In Your Teacher Shoes!
Deanna and Jenelle

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Spider Fun in October!

We could not believe it!  A REAL author...a REAL, AMAZING, TALENTED author, Doreen Cronin, has allowed us to use her book Diary of a Spider in our amazing and fun letter and journal writing unit!  We can not sing her praises enough!  She was so kind and we appreciate her generosity SO much!  EEEEEEEE!  In fact, when we received her e-mail giving us permission we both danced around the room jumping up and down like crazy people.  We originally created this unit when we first began selling on TPT but after realizing that we may be infringing Doreen Cronin's copyright of the book we pulled it from our sight.  As we were pulling out our October files to begin planning next month we decided to ask Ms. Cronin if we could post the unit...and she said "YES!"   So it is up and ready for you to purchase and it is perfect for the month of October.  Here is the original post from our blog detailing the unit.

Halloween is just around the corner and while looking through our October files we began to feel a bit pumpkin-ed out by all of our regular go-to activities for the season.  Each year we have done some kind of fun and interactive character activity, such as the Pumpkin Elf or the Candy Corn Bandit. While this has always been a HUGE hit with the kiddos we were feeling the need to try something new.  This gave us the perfect excuse to be creative (otherwise known as "not getting our correcting done during our prep")  One of our favorite book series to use during Writer's Workshop are the Diary of a Worm, Fly, and Spider books by Doreen Cronin.  Being that spiders make the perfect Halloween character, we ran with it and this is the unit that we ended up with!
Keep in mind that while spiders are perfect for Halloween, this unit could really be used at any time of the year to teach all sorts of writing concepts including voice, point of view, friendly letters, diary entries and so much more!

Keep on dancing in your teacher shoes!

Deanna and Jenelle

Monday, September 16, 2013

What Are We Doing this Week?

Each week as teachers we inevitably have to answer the question,"What are we going to do this week?"  In the primary grades its more like every five minutes we are answering, "What are we going to do next?" 

We decided that we wanted to come up with a creative and exciting way to answer this question.   Since we have classroom sock monkey mascots, Scooter and Socks (See our previous post)...we figured why not make them a part of our weekly antics?  So we decided that they should drop the first graders a clue on Monday mornings that will give them a hint about what is to come later in the week.

This week we will be learning how to write in our science notebooks and will be completing our very first SCIENCE EXPERIMENT on Friday!  So fun!  Check out how Scooter and Socks were dressed this morning!  The first graders were so excited and spent all morning guessing.  Oh, and we had a blast not telling them if they were right.  I guess they will just have to wait and see right?

Keep on Dancing in Your Teacher Shoes!

Deanna and Jenelle

Friday, September 13, 2013

We Are Alive!!!!

Wow! Well....where have we been... EVERYWHERE and no where and mostly have been buried in our classrooms bursting at the seams with excitement!  Why...finally WE ARE TEACHING PARTNERS!!!  Yes, we know it is more exciting for us then it is for you all, but really it will make our blog more exciting (we promise) and our creative lesson posting more often (we REALLY truly promise).

So what's the FIRST GRADE news around here you ask?  Or we will pretend that you asked, so we will answer!

We are busy "Sock Monkey-ing" around with our new favorite theme of sock monkeys, thank you Trend for such AWESOMENESS!!!  We have a freebie art project on the way so keep checking back in with us!!! We have also adorned our classrooms with Socks and Scooter.  They are our official classroom mascot over sized sock monkeys who will wear costumes to match weekly themes in various subjects.  So exciting!!!!  Pictures soon to follow.

Sock Monkey Love!
Keep On Dancing In Your Teacher Shoes!!
Deanna and Jenelle

Monday, May 20, 2013

Turn Off The TV Freebie

It is up and it is FREE!!!  You cannot beat free, right!  Our kids had a blast turning off the TV, they were surprised how easy it was and how quickly the week went without the screen!!!  They played outside!  They played with their families!  They had a blast and cannot wait to find out who won the Subway lunch delivered to school!!!  Click here and get your kiddos set on a screen free week!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Screen Time

In honor of turn off the TV week (I know, a little late) we are turning off our screens and getting active!

At home students are encouraged to turn off all screens: TV, computer, iPads, the works and be active.  As an incentive they can turn in a ticket for each day that they meet this goal.  At  the end of the week we will draw from their turned in tickets and one student in each grade will win a Subway lunch!  We interviewed our students this morning to see how they planned on giving up the screen....most are playing outside and reading, the usual.  Many also said that they challenged their parents to join them.  They are a little worried about their parents making it! :)  Overall they are pretty excited about it.  We'll see how they are feeling on Friday.  It isn't them that I am worried about...their parents may be in for a bit of a surprise.

In school we are turning off our screens too!!!  One whole week of teaching "the old fashion" way. We will turn off our SMARTboards, computers, iPods, and anything else that flashes at us and teach using our creativity and imagination and secret bag of tricks and well....we'll see how it goes.  We have become dependent on those telling our kiddos that we are blogging! ;)

Check back later this week for our "Turn Off the Screen" freebie!

Keep on Dancing in Your Teacher Shoes!

Deanna and Jenelle

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

It Has Been A While!

I am back and so far have survived for four whole days.  Coming back was tough, but I actually realized that I really missed my little darlings!  Teaching REALLY is the best job in the world!!!  Coming back to my excited kiddos made my transition a lot easier.  Now if my little one would let me get some rest...

This week Deanna is keeping me a float!  You forget about all of the small passwords (I won't share how many times I had to run down the hall for forgotten passwords) and meetings and going to the bathroom and eating on on schedule.  But, it is MAY!  And soon I will have the summer to reforget all of these important things that I will have to relearn in the fall.

As for this week we are working on the wonderful sound of ow/ou.  We made OWls and adorned their cute tummies with ow and ou words!  Aren't they sweet!

Keep On Dancing in Your Teacher Shoes!
Deanna and Jenelle

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Native American Legends

At our school grades 2 and up rotate to different teachers for the subjects of religion (we are at a private Catholic school) science and social studies.  So, for an hour and a half out of my day I am in charge of teaching social studies to 51 second graders.  I honestly don't know how middle school teachers do it!  I go stir crazy teaching the same thing three times in a row and in order to save my own sanity, I try to make any lesson that I teach exciting and interesting for both the students and myself.  In preparing our next unit on Minnesota Native American tribes and their history (Specifically the Ojibway and Dakota tribes), I decided to share many of the legends of these tribes and then have the students write legends of their own.  Here are a few of the books that I chose to share.

(Ojibway/Woodland Tribe Legends and Stories)

The Legend of the Lady's Slipper by Kathy-jo Wargen

The Legend of Minnesota by Kathy-jo Wargen

The Legend of the Loon by Kathy-jo Wargen

Dakota/Plains Tribe Legends and Stories)

Buffalo Woman by Paul Goble

The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses by Paul Goble

The Mud Pony by Carton Lee Cohen

Sky Dogs by Jane Yolen

Keep on dancing in your teacher shoes!

Deanna and Jenelle

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Fun at a Dominican School

First of all let me apologize for my lack of posts in the last few weeks.  I promise I have a good excuse!  Jenelle is still on maternity leave and snuggling that adorable baby of hers, and the hubby and I were out of the country on SPRING BREAK!  Don't worry, we went somewhere warm...the Dominican Republic...and to make it an even more exciting trip, we had NO kids with us!  This is primarily thanks to my parents who so VERY generously watched our two boys (ages 5 and 2) while we were gone.  So the hubs and I got to spend some actual quality time together. A rare occurrence as you other parents out there know.
The building with kids wishing they could join in the classroom.

Now, like many of you teachers, my brain still works in "teacher mode" even while on vacation so I "convinced" my husband that it would be a "fun" day trip to go and visit a Dominican elementary school.  Being the super supportive guy that he is he agreed and off we went onto the back-roads...if you can actually call them "roads"... of the Dominican countryside.

The teacher's desk...
RY poor country with over 70% of the population making only $250 a month per family.  A few years back they had an earthquake that destroyed quite a few buildings and unfortunately the country's infrastructure is not that great.  Things like regular garbage pick-up, plumbing, and electricity are sketchy at best.  Most families live in one or two room shanties and have very little in the way of luxuries.  The school system in the Dominican is a new addition over the last few decades.  In order for children to attend school (which is free) they must own a pencil and a notebook (unfortunately a lot of families cannot afford these basic supplies so their children just don't go to school).  Although it is a very poor country, the people are rich with culture and family values.  I have never met such a fun loving, appreciative, and welcoming group of people in all of my travels.  So needless to say, the Dominican Republic has easily become my most favorite destination and I recommend you give it a try!

Deanna in the classroom...
3rd & 4th Graders...they vary in age depending upon when they started school.  One child was 13 and another was 8 but in the same grade.

So, back to the story...

Knowing that these Dominican kiddos could not attend school without supplies, I packed my suitcase FULL of extras from my classroom and brought them with to the school.  As my husband and I exited the tour bus, we were practically mugged by elementary aged children who couldn't wait to see what treasures we had brought with us.  I have never seen children so excited over notebooks, pencils, and crayons before!  One little girl (about 3rd or 4th grade) hugged me over and over and with tears in her eyes said "thank you...thank you! Now I can go to school!"  All of this over a simple hot pink notebook and number 2 pencil.  My heart just broke as I saw how little the students had...and couldn't imagine how hard it was for that teacher to teach multiple age levels (think "one room schoolhouse") with very little in the way of supplies and resources.  The whole experience really made me appreciate what my students and I are blessed with.  It really put things into perspective for me and I will truly think twice before EVER complaining about anything school related again.
Handing out supplies...
Deanna and her new "students"...
So give your students a hug and look around your classroom...we are so lucky...and sometime we just need a little reminder of that!

Keep on Dancing in Your Teacher Shoes

Deanna and Jenelle

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Fabulous Family Trees

I have been blessed this year with an amazing student teacher who is filled with creative and interesting ways to present our second grade topics and objectives.  One of the first areas that she took over was social area that I have always struggled to make "exciting".  This past week the students have been learning about history.  They have learned that they have their own history and so does their family.  Their lives, traditions, and values have been influenced by the actions and ideas of their ancestors.  While this is a VERY abstract concept for second graders, she did a wonderful job of explaining it and created this adorable art project/learning project to help them grasp the concept.  The students took home a worksheet with questions similar to the ones below:

Me: __________________
My Mom:__________________
My Dad:__________________
My Mom's Mom:__________________
My Mom's Dad:__________________
My Dad's Dad:__________________
My Dad's Mom:__________________

Words that describe my family and the things that they value are: (circle at least 7 or come up with your own!)

Loyalty                  Education             Charity                   Creativity        
Love                      Honesty                Celebration             Hard Work
Faith                      Togetherness        Humor                     Fun
Laughter                Hope                    Music                      Truth

Heritage or Nationality: _____________________

Notice that the worksheet not only asks for the students family history information but also asks them to circle or list words that describe their family and what their family values.  The students then drew and colored a family tree and listed their family members names on the branches (we tried to have them keep it mono-colored, but otherwise gave them free reign to be creative).  Then the students used colored paper dots as leaves and wrote their "family description words" on the dots.  They turned out AMAZING!!! I love how different and interesting the color choices were!  Do you have any fun social studies ideas that you love?

Keep on Dancing in Your Teacher Shoes!

Deanna and Jenelle

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Life Skills and St. Patty's Day Fun!

Last week flew by and before I knew it, it was over...and I hadn't blogged!   Sorry for neglecting my blog post duties last week.  I'm still getting used to flying solo while my amazing teacher counterpart Jenelle is on maternity leave.  We have conferences coming up so I figured that I would remind all of you that we have a FREE "Work Habits and Behavior Student and Teacher Assessment for Conferences" available at our TPT store.  We find it so useful, especially in a primary grade where that side of the report card is really the most important thing we talk to parents about at conferences. 

She found a puppy named Lucky!

Another found the "Best Family" 

We have also been busy getting the hallway ready for St. Patrick's Day.  We made a rainbow pot of gold writing activity (Thanks to First Class Teacher Resources for their FREE St. Patrick's Day Writing Craftivity).  I had the students write about what they would find at the end of a rainbow...their ideas were too cute!

We also made these HUGE but adorable leprechaun glyphs (Thanks to First Grade Blue Skies "Let's Make a Leprechaun-St. Patrick's Day Glyph, Literacy, & Math Pack").

The students wrote about what would happen if they caught a leprechaun...the leprechaun on the right is sad because he was caught!  Gotta love the freckles and pink cheeks on the other two!

As for what we have been up to at our own TPT store....A LOT!  We have added EIGHT new units (And two more are almost done)!  These units are all you need to teach a variety of monthly life skills in your classroom.  Each unit includes five activities, art projects, or games that will assist you in fostering life skills in your classroom.   We have also included a suggested book list for each life skill. The life skills that are covered include:

September: Respect, Friendship, and Responsibility
October: Cooperation, Patience, and Organization
November: Courage and Pride
December: Compassion and Generosity
January: Resourcefulness, Problem Solving, and Flexibility (Coming Soon!)
February: Caring, Perseverance, and Effort (Coming Soon!)
March: Humility and Integrity
April: Humor and Initiative
May/June: Common Sense, Punctuality, and Curiosity

Keep on Dancing in Your Teacher Shoes!

Deanna and Jenelle

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Fun with Babies and Verbs!

Hurray for Baby Day!  I am happy to share this great news with you all!  Jenelle and her family have welcomed baby Bianca into the world this past week!  So excited for all of the pink ruffles and baby cuddles.  Hurray! Hurray!

Unfortunately, even though I am "over the moon" for her and her family...I realized quite quickly this morning that I AM ON MY OWN! Ahhhhh!  What will I ever do without my partner in crime/creative springboard/confidant/best friend!?! This should be an interesting eight weeks!

Since last week was so crazy with Valentine's Day, and 100th Day, and Ash Wednesday, and Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday, and a day off for President's Day yesterday, we decided to teach the same grammar, phonics, and comprehension skills for two weeks.  We are covering irregular verbs in grammar and I was desperately looking for some way to make that sound like the most fun thing my second graders were ever going to do...that's when I came across the "Phineas and Verb" game created by Sublime Speech.  My second graders love the Disney show Phineas and Ferb so what better way to get them pumped! 

Since we were going to spend some extra time on irregular verbs, and I really wanted something non-valentinish hanging in the hallway, I decided to whip up this adorable Ferb/Verb craftivity.  The students cut out the pieces and then wrote the present and past tense of an irregular verb on his shirt!
Swim/Swam  and Deal/Delt
Phineas and Verb Crafitivity

Aren't they so FUN!!! And the kiddos were singing the theme song to the show while they worked!  Priceless!

And one last thing...Here are some of the Valentine's Day art projects that the second graders made last week.  They used little colored magazine squares to make mosaic hearts.  This is one of my favorites because they always turn out so gorgeous!

I've scanned in my pattern for Ferb from our "Phineas and Verb" craftivity below.  Just click and save the .jpg to your desktop and enjoy!

Keep on Dancing in Your Teacher Shoes!
Deanna, Jenelle and Baby Bianca :)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

It has begun!

Oh my words....our kiddos are jumping from the ceiling!  
You would have thought that we gave them a extra large coffee and 100 giant Pixi Sticks!

But...100th Day is OVER...WE MADE IT.  

We made our 100 year old people....thank you Deanna Jump's Awesome Unit 100th Day Math and Literacy Fun!

We cleverly spent our $100 on things that we have ALWAYS wanted, again thanks to Deanna Jump's 

We have raced to 100, written 100 words we know, made some 100 trail mix and finished off our awesome day making pictures out of 100s!

Time for 100 hours of rest?!?!?!?!

Cheers to Wednesday!

Keep on Dancing in Your Teacher Shoes!

Deanna and Jenelle

Friday, February 8, 2013

Next Week Is CRAZY!

Next week is going to be crazy around here!!!!  Monday is Chinese New Year.  Tuesday is our 100th day of School and Mardi Gras (or Fat Tuesday).  Wednesday is Ash Wednesday (we teach in a private school).  Thursday is Valentine's Day and Friday is Jenelle's last day before she abandons Deanna for Maternity Leave!  What a whirl wind!!!!

We went crazy with Oriental Trading and picked up a bunch of fun things to help make it extra crazy and exciting!!!  We want to make sure that we need a large bottle of Tylenol by Friday.  :)

Hope that everyone has an awesome weekend....we are preparing for a blizzard around here.

We will let you know how the week goes and make sure to post some pics!

Keep on Dancing in You Teacher Shoes!

Deanna and Jenelle

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Love is in the Air and a Freebie

We love Valentine's Day.  Mostly because it has chocolate involved...but also because of all of the fun things that we can do in our classrooms.   One of our yearly traditions is to have our students write a book for their families entitled, "Love Is."  They dedicate their book to their families and then each page is dedicated to the different members of their family.  We say they must include everyone that lives with them first and then they can add grandmas and grandpas, etc.
It is a quick write.  Each page begins with "Love is" and then they write what each person in their family does to show true love for their family.  For instance...

Love is when my mom makes me breakfast.
Love is when my dad drives me to hockey practice.
Love is when my brother reads me books.
Love is when my sister shares her secrets with me.

You get the idea!  They come up with the sweetest things!!!  We love reading these books, and so do their families.  They are definitely keepers!

You can grab our "Love Is" book template here for free!  Our Valentine's gift to you, sorry that there is no chocolate attached.  Some day a genius will figure that one out!

Keep On Dancing in Your Teacher Shoes!
Deanna and Jenelle

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

READ! READ! Read Aloud Chapter Books!

Finding new read alouds is a lot of work!!!  Keeping ahead of all of those awesome readers that you have in your class can be tough.  Not to mention finding books that the other grades don't read.  Then to top it off, you need to pre-read it to make sure that it is completely appropriate.  Doesn't it just drive you nuts when you think that you have found THE book and then when you are almost at the end they write something that you know would put a few parents over the edge!!!  Well, we were thinking that we could be a great resource for each other.  We have compiled our top ten read aloud list and would LOVE if you added any of your favorites in the comment section.

As a side note....we both tend to love books with a good sense of humor.  Most are not very serious, but they are all books that we love enough to read more than once! 

Our top 10 read-aloud chapter books:

1. Roscoe Riley Rules by Katherine Applegate (They LOVE the entire series.)
2. Clementine by Sara Pennypacker and Marla Frazee (Its a series, but the first one is the best.)
3. The Amazing World of Stuart by Sara Pennypacker (We have only read the first one.)
4.  My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannet (The whole series is great!)
5. Lulu and the Brontesaurus by Judith Viorst
6. Gooney Bird Greene by Lois Lowery (It's a series but the first one is the best.)
7. The Power of Un by Nancy Etchmendy (This is more of an end of the year second grade choice.)
8. Welcome to the Bed and Biscuit by Joan Carris
9.  Stink by Megan McDonald (The entire series is pretty fun.  Take your pick!)
10. Captain Awesome by Stan Kirby (We have read the first two.  They are VERY quick reads.)
11. Dodger and Me byJordan Sonnenblick

Happy Reading!
Keep On Dancing In Your Teacher Shoes!
Deanna and Jenelle

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Baby on Board!

Jenelle is preparing for baby #2, due to arrive on or before February 18th, and is trying to get everything in order for her long term sub.  Things are crazy!

First things first....a letter to let parents know who the long term sub is and what the plans are for after the baby arrives.  Much to her surprise...she actually had to write it herself!!!  Can you believe it.  There was nothing out there to grab and adapt.  Oh the tragedy! No, really...she really thought that this would be the quick and easy part. Since we put our heads together and wrote one, we thought that we would make it available at our TPT store.  Enjoy!

Now on to the next million things that we must accomplish!
Keep on Dancing in Your Teacher Shoes!
Deanna and Jenelle

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


We promise that we haven't fallen off the face of the earth...although in looking at our blogging history you may be wondering.  We came back to school last Wednesday and ever since then have been trying to keep up with our students energy while battling colds from the BLACK LAGOON!  We have a few projects up our sleeves and will have them posted as soon as the tissue box is no longer connected to us and we recover from having subs after a break....Our poor subs...We prayed for them...A LOT!

Keep On Dancing in Your Teacher Shoes!
Deanna and Jenelle