Monday, November 17, 2014

North Pole Prepositions

Hi! I've been soooooooo bogged down lately, I haven't been blogging! I'm baaaaack! 

Here is some preposition "food for thought".

So many times I hear students say, "I'm waiting on line".  I ask them if they're standing on a line drawn in the road. They give me puzzled looks. You know those looks, right? 

Then, there's always someone who raises his or her hand and says, "That's how my mother says it..." I smile and nod. Uh huh. 

Guess what? When I'm in New York City I often hear "I'm waiting ON line... 

Another expression I hear very often is, "I'm babysitting my sister." UH?  Where's the preposition FOR? "I'm babysitting FOR my sister".  

But wait. Is the word "for" actually needed in that sentence? What about "I'm painting my fence." Does the word "for" work in that sentence?

Not to get off the subject of prepositions, but another expression that drives me crazy is "I'm going to grow a business". Grow a business?  I would say,"I'm going to create a business". When I think of the word "grow' I think of planting my vegetable seeds so they'll grow during the summer.  Don't mind me, I'm just having one of those grammar days. :)

Think about it, Are prepositions used differently in different  regions of the United States? Are the different uses, correct or not?  Again, food for thought. :)

I've had many great comments about my North Pole Prepositions since I CREATED the packet. (Notice I didn't say "... since I GREW my North Pole Prepositions packet :) 

Kids have to guess which prepositions fit correctly in the sentences and then draw pictures of them. I love their illustrations! 

photo of North Pole Prepositions, grammar, ELA, teacherspayteachers,com

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Punch or Stamp Cards for Classroom Management

No matter what time of year it is, teachers are always thinking about school! 

Classroom management and behavior are two top teacher issues.  

My FREE punch cards packet is a positive reward system that works! Over the years I've been teaching, I've tried many different classroom management systems and this one is great! I love positive reward systems. so I highly recommend this one. 

Just keep in mind that if you begin a reward system or any other type of behavior/classroom management system, it has to be done consistently.  If you don't follow through, your students will know. In my opinion, that's why some teachers have difficulty with behavior management techniques. Follow through is extremely important if the system is going to work.

Oh! If you don't want to punch the cards, each time a student reaches a milestone, you can stamp them with your special teacher stamp or you can use decorative punches that can be purchased in craft stores! 

Try the cards with a student who doesn't do homework or who has a hard time managing his or her time or materials and you'll definitely see positive changes.  The packet has all the instructions needed.  These cards have been used with 5th, and 6th grade students. 

I did, however, have a 7th grade teacher friend of mine,  who just couldn't reach a couple of her students. One, a very bright girl, was totally disorganized and the other student never completed his homework when it was due. She asked if she could try my punch cards. I told her the illustrations would be too "young" for her students. Well, it worked!  The students were a bit immature and needed a special pat on the back and TLC. That and the cards were a perfect fit. 

Click on the card to see more.. :) 


photo of Punch or Stamp Cards, classroom management, Ruth S., grades 1 - 6

Homophones Are Fun!

Which which is which? I remember my fourth grade teacher writing that question on the board and explaining what homophones are and why it's important to always write the correct spelling of them.

To this day, I remember the important lessons I was taught and still "hear" and "see" my teachers as they stressed important concepts and strategies. 

I had little tricks I used to remember some of them. The word "witch" contains the word "wit" so I thought of a nice witch who had a good sense of humor.  Little tricks like that can make difference. 

Another example are the homophones "bear" and "bare".  The word "bear" has "EAR" in it. Bears have ears! That one is easy. 

As I teach homophones we brainstorm for little tricks like that and I'm always amazed the kinds of clues my students think of to remember the correct spellings of homophones. 

Download my free homophone activities and have fun!

photo of Homophones are Fun, PDF, free, homophones, Ruth S.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

NonFiction Student Worksheet

Kids often have difficulty transitioning from narrative to expository or fact based writing. Introducing nonfiction can be a lot of fun. Books like "Frog or Toad" by Patricia Lynch that Carolyn of the Wise Owl Factory reviewed on her BookaDay website is a great book to start off with. 

This book helps kids distinguish the differences between toads and frogs. I'd read this book to my students and then have them list the likenesses and differences on the free template that Carolyn has posted.

I'd then ask the kids to use my NonFiction worksheet, to fill in the information they can, then get into small groups to compare their answers. 

This free worksheet is best used with non-fiction books about subjects, autobiographies, biographies and other fact based books. Students can record facts on the sheets, about the non-fiction books they read and keep them in folders. Send them home at the end of the year as a surprise gift to parents! 
Click on the sheet to download. 

photo of Non-fiction student worksheet by Teacher Park


Saturday, August 2, 2014


I'm really excited to announce 
the TeachersPayTeachers 
 Back to School Sale! 
Be sure to use the PROMO CODE 
when you check out to get a larger discount!

Have a great year!


Check out my FREEEEEEEEE 260 Journal Prompts
that will get your reluctant writers' pencils flying across their papers as they respond to my "kid friendly" prompts. 
They're great as discussion starters too. 
Grades 4 and up but third grade teachers tell me they're using them too!
Be sure to read teachers' comments 
below the description about this special resource!
As of today there have been 61,377 downloads! WOW! 

photo of 260 Journal Prompts, Free, ELA, writing, Ruth S.

Check back in a few days. I've been adding more to my popular 
Novel Response Task Cards. If you already have that packet, you'll be able to download the update, free of charge. 

Monday, June 30, 2014

What's Happening to Young Readers These Days?

Summer is here and I can't wait to check the books out of the library that I put on my "Summer Reading List" all year long. No, I didn't say download a book. I love going to the library any time of year, but summers are my favorite times. As I walked through the door the other day, I was struck by the fact that there were very few children there. 

Why were there so few children at the library? Unlike the years I was growing up, children's libraries today burst with color. Floor to ceiling stuffed giraffes. Over-stuffed comfy chairs. Art work everywhere. Displays of books everywhere...So where are the children?

What's happening to many of our young readers these days?

I can remember getting lost in books. How many times would I be so absorbed in a great book that I wouldn't hear my mother tell us it was time for dinner. I'd be riding the Black Stallion across the sand dunes of Arabia or clicking my heels with Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.  

Those hazy, crazy days of summer and we kids read as many books as we could. Our local library ran book contests. Whoever read the most books, won. Won what? I don't remember! What was important to me was challenging myself to read as many books as I could. 

I'd go to the library with my friends and we'd scoop armfuls of books off the shelves, balancing them with our chins and swaying one way or the other, when the pile was off kilter. Sitting around the square wooden tables, we'd chitter chatter about each one. When I got my very first library card I thought i had died and had gone to heaven. I laminated it with clear contact paper and put it on the top of my dresser so it would always be in sight. 

Because we lived so close to the beach, but not close enough to walk, mothers planned times they'd drive us down for the day. We'd stuff our beach bags with radios (there were no iPads in those days!), sunscreen, food and binoculars. Huge ships often passed by in the distance and we tried to see the names on the ships or try to see their flags so we could figure out what country owned them.

On the top of our beach bag stuffing list were books. Which one would be the best to take to the beach? A mystery? a fiction book about horses? Nonfiction (not likely), science fiction? (maybe) A boy meets girl innocent type of story? In those days, there were no racy tweenie books, no books filled with extremely descriptive situations. They were innocent, "leave it to your imagination" types of stories that we girls giggled about.

Words were mesmerizing. Each time I came across a word I didn't know, I'd pull the huge Webster's Dictionary off my book shelf and look it up. 

Look it up??? That's the expression Mrs. Granger always shouted in the book Frindle! Love that book! 

She was so right. If you don't know what a word means.. well then... LOOK IT UP!!! Yes, we teachers encourage using context clues to figure out meanings of words, however, the dictionary provides us with invaluable information. The origin, parts of speech, one or several definitions, examples of the words in sentences and more. 

Doing a dictionary Google search isn't like handling those big old dictionaries. I vividly recall the smell of the pages.  The weight, the thinness of the paper. I was mortified, one day, when I turned a page too quickly and it ripped. I'll never forget it. Never. I was about seven and I asked my mother if I could write an apology to Mr. Webster.  She said she was sure he'd understand. 

So, what's happening to our young readers these days? Texting their friends, instead of reading. Playing video games on the computer, instead of reading. Asking parents the definitions of words instead of looking it up in good old Mr. Webster's Dictionary. Pulling up websites with summaries of books instead of reading books word by word, page by page. 

One day I had three students ask me to suggest a good book from my class library. They turned up their noses when I pulled one particular book off the shelf. Why? Because the cover was so worn and tired, you could barely read the title. I told them that I'd read the book because have a worn cover means it's been read time and time again, so people must love the story.

"Why else would the cover be so worn and tired looking," I asked them.

One looked at me and asked "REALLY? Okay, how many people read this book?" 
"Oh, at least a million people," I replied.
"No way"
"Yes, way"

Before I could state another "rather untrue, exaggerated" fact, they were discussing who would read the book first. I slipped away quietly as I heard one say "I'll read it first and then give it to you. You can give it to .....

I made one small step that day... And will continue working my magic so all young people will value "REAL" books they can hold in their hands... 


P.S  I highly recommend reading "The Book Thief" this summer.  Sarah's Key is another, I highly recommend. 

Did you add these titles on your Summer Book List? :)

Have a great summer, everyone!

Friday, June 27, 2014

101 Book Activities Kids Love!

When I was in elementary school, my teachers always gave us the same kinds of book reports to do. They were VERY boring and that's when I decided that when I became a teacher I'd NEVER give those kinds of book reports. 

Typical assignment:  Write a report about the book. Remember to include the main characters and setting as you write the plot. 

WHAT?? UH?? 
I wanted to write a short skit about the book, or a poem, or write lyrics for a song. I did NOT want to write a boring old report without pictures or something creative. 

So, when I was in fifth grade, the first book report was....yes you guessed it! The same boring assignment to explain what the story was about and where it took place. 

What did I do? I drew an original cover for the book. I spent hours cutting pictures from magazines that would tie in with the plot. I laid it all out, and pasted everything on colorful construction paper. To me the bright colors livened up the plot, and was visually appealing.  On the last page, I wrote my opinion of the book and recommended that everyone should read it. 

As my teacher walked around, collecting the book reports, I handed it to her with a huge smile on my face. She took it from me, flipped through it quickly and said


I remember it like it was yesterday. I cringed, slumped down in my seat and mumbled something and thought to myself, I did follow the directions, I just presented it differently. 

Did my teacher understand that there are kids who like to express themselves using art or music? No.
Did my teacher understand that creating a report with hand drawn pictures and presenting it in a colorful way is a lot of work and demonstrates that I'm artistic? No. 
Would she see that I followed her directions? Probably not. 

When I first started teaching, I decided to give my students book report choices. Over the many years I've been teaching I've been collecting ideas and creating new ones. It was a year or so ago I decided to compile them and offer them for free on TeachersPayTeachers. 

Why? Because I want teachers to have this list at their fingertips, so they can offer their students many different ways to report about books. Give them a list of two or three to choose from and you'll feel their excitement as they talk about which ones they really, really, really want to do!

photo of 101 Book Activities Kids Love, FREE, PDF, Ruth S. book reports, Ruth S. TeachersPayTeachers

Have fun!