Tuesday, August 30, 2011


When I taught elementary science, one of the units we had to cover was called "Forms and Functions of Living Things". We ordered live mealworms which weren't the cutest of animals for little kids to observe. Much to my surprise, they gave the worms names, kept journals about their behavior and even had funerals for them when they died!

When the ant farms arrived at school the next year, I immediately began scratching. LOL! I couldn't imagine the kids wanting to watch ants dig tunnels.  I was right. They had very little interest in the "farm".  

One day, a boy brought a Monarch butterfly cocoon to school. He had found it in the milkweed plants near his house. It was bright green with incredible little jewels around the top of it. The kids (and me!) couldn't wait for the butterfly to emerge! We waited and waited and waited until one morning, the majestic cocoon began to vibrate. The kids (and me!) went wild.  

After a time, the crinkly creature emerged and we watched as it slowly tested its environment. Imagine its first breath! Its first time balancing on a twig! It wiggled its feelers. The kids giggled. Very slowly it unfolded those gorgeous orange and black wings and stretchhhhhhhhhhed. There were oooh's and ahhhh's as we watched this beautiful creature emerge from its emerald green "castle".  It was magic!
If I was still teaching elementary kids, I'd have a butterfly cocoon every year. Today, you can purchase butterflies online. Imagine wedding packages that are set up so you can release live butterflies for the bride and groom! Take a look at this site, where you can purchase Monarch, Painted Ladies and other butterflies for your kids at school!


Bloom Balls
A great beginning of the year activity! Have your students create BIO Bloom Balls.  Display these colorful works of art for all to see! You can use these for any subject, too!
A Bloom Ball report is based on Bloom's Taxonomy that encourages higher level thinking. Your students will have fun as they work together to write, draw, cut out and glue the edges of the circles together when they are finished creating their reports. Included in this 17 page packet are: templates in color and black and white, teacher and student instructions, templates in two different sizes, and more. When the balls are completed, they are colorful, interesting projects to hang around the classroom. Great for all grades!

Check out PBS's NOVA! Incredible videos! Middle and high school teachers take note! Great articles. Topics include: anthropology, archaeology, earth science, engineering, environmental, space and forensic sciences, geography, health science, history, life science, math, paleontology, and technology.

NOVA scienceNOW | PBS

We survived Irene! We have damage on our property, but are very happy that no one was injured! I pray for all of those who are still without power and who are dealing with the terrible flooding problems. Volunteers in all states are helping those in need.  The American Red Cross has set up shelters all up and down the East coast. Check out their site to see how you might be able to help.

American Red Cross

  Hurricane Irene 

All day I've been keeping my eye on the Weather Channel and checking Hurricane Irene updates. Where I live, it's predicted we're going to get the full brunt of the storm. Hurricane Gloria in 1985, was the last really strong hurricane to hit and they say this one is probably the most destructive and dangerous storms coming up the coast in the last few decades. 
  I took out my hurricane preparedness list and began adding things to it. Loss of electricity is minor compared to the downed power lines that are often live, the tornados that accompany the storm, trees falling on anything in their way. 

                   Jeffrey and Frederick
 Football stars waiting for Hurricane Irene.

And then there's the thunderous sound of it. The last one came through overnight. It's like a freight train, roaring down the tracks. The house bravely stands up to the force of the winds as they scream  and howl, trying to take her down.
We'll tape the windows with masking tape in X patterns to keep the windows from shattering if they do break. Shades and blinds are kept down in case they do break to prevent the glass from spreading all of the rooms.
I've tried to concentrate on teacher thoughts and household chores, but  the monster is gaining strength and I have so much more to do, in order to be ready. The first day of school is Monday, only teachers meet but it won't happen if we're hit.  When hurricane Gloria slammed into us, schools were closed for TWO weeks because roads were impassable. Power crews came to our aid from neighboring states and Canada. Kids weren't allowed outside until the crews took care of the lines. Without power, most didn't have water because around here we have wells, not city water. No electricity means no computers. Not going outside means moms go crazy because their kids are bored. Do you think that most kids would read and entertain themselves? No.  We read books, wrote in diaries and played board games during blizzards and storms when we were young. 

  Our dogs cower when there's a thunderstorm and I fear they'll be a wreck enduring hours and hours of the monster pounding its fists on the house. They love their stuffed footballs so I'll give them their toys to divert their attention, but how long that will last is anyone's guess.
Mother Nature has been very busy this week. First an earthquake followed by a hurricane.
More later...


I have to teach in a world of COLOR. Splashes of azure sea colors, corn husk greens, deep grape purples, radish reds, lemony yellows and tints of blue/gray skies. 

Visuals do it for me. 

I've wandered into colorless classrooms of all grade levels and it makes me feel like painting a rainforest mural all over the room. If I had paints and a brush, trust me, I would.

The next time you see a young child of two or three, coloring on a blank piece of paper, watch carefully. First, they have to figure out the best grip to hold the crayon. Usually they wrap all of their fingers around the crayon, index finger in the top position. Then there's the thumb and not quite knowing what to do with it. Pesky little thumbs are an enigma. They rewrap their fingers, and the thumb wiggles as if it has a mind of its own. They continue adjusting their finger positions until they get their very own style of holding the crayon. Isn't it wonderful?

One of my first lessons, the first week of school is to encourage creativity using color and design.
I explain that we're going to design our very own personal signatures, a kind of trademark that makes them special. Kids love to feel special. Don't we all? :)

I model my signature for all eyes to see. I first tell them that they have the freedom to add anything to their signature that will tell me something about them. A large letter "O" could be the face of a cat, if they love cats.

I also explain that the first letter of their names should be the fanciest, just like the German printer, Johannes Gutenberg, who introduced modern book printing in the 1400's. Gutenberg, who printed the famous Gutenberg Bible, often used a huge, colorful first letter to begin paragraphs and included swirls around the pages.

This incredible book that's on display at Yale University's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library is in a free standing glass case with a light shining on it. The first time I saw it, I was speechless. To imagine that this was one of the first modern day printed books and I was standing right next to it... I can't even begin to describe my feelings about this incredible antiquity.

Please note that I mention the Bible to my students and my experience of actually seeing it, only from a historical perspective and not a religious one. I clearly understand and follow separation of church and state mandates.

Back to the kids' fancy name tags.

To make their fancy name tags, use 8"x11" piece of white construction paper. Fold it in half. They should design their signature on one side and then on the back side they should do some drawings of things that represent their "world". Examples can be drawings of: books they've read, favorite foods, musical notes to represent they play an instrument. The possibilities are endless!

Once they've worked on their personal signature name tags that will be used to help me learn their names, I ask that they describe to the whole group how they designed it and what they drew on the back of it.

FYI When decorating your rooms, check with the fire marshall. I covered one wall with a type of bamboo fabric one year, and after a check by the fire marshall who was checking the building prior to the students' first day, I was told that it wasn't up to "fire code" and had to remove it. :(

                               Color, Color and More Color!

Here's a fun, yet very educational activity to use with your students. Get them into groups and have them work together, as they follow the instructions of how to color the states. Polka dots, stripes or solids! Do this at the beginning of the year so they become familiar with state names, shapes and capitals. You'll be amazed when you see how different each map is. Display them around the room for all to see! 

                                            Click on the link to

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Good grief! My blog buttons are everywhere! Hmmm... Don't worry. I'll fix it :)

I've been posting on my blog for a couple of days now and decided that, today, I'd share some of my TpT lessons with you. 

Here's a sampling of what I offer on TeachersPayTeachers. 

This packet of geometric shapes includes posters for the basic geometric colored shapes of a triangle, square, rectangle and circle. Print on heavier stock paper. laminate, and they can be used year to year as a display while teaching the basic shapes.

Print out these FREE homework passes and have them handy!  Use them for good citizenship, good work and behavior! These are a great "pat on the back" reward at the beginning of school!

Kids love choices. At the beginning of the year, give them these 210 journal response cards that they can cut out and paste in their journals.

Back to school is a time that you want to get to know your students and also assess how well they write. The pages of this fun questionnaire enables you to learn about your students' study habits, subjects they like, their feelings about certain topics and issues, their opinions, the place they're most comfortable doing homework, if they do their homework, if they like to read, their favorites and much more. They're also asked to assess how well they completed the questionnaire. Teacher tips are included.

Back to School Night is often stressful! Even seasoned teachers are anxious when they have to meet new parents for the first time.This packet of handouts and teacher tips makes less work for you and the preparation for Back to School Night less stressful. Some of the pages included are: refrigerator reminders, tips about when to communicate with the teacher, homework tips, movie waiver forms to send parents, late homework assignments and more.

Teachers often think that ABC books are only for primary grades. I've successfully used ABC templates with middle school students for many different projects including science, social studies, geography, creative writing, poetry, math word problems, book reports and more.
Included are templates for each letter of the alphabet, an alphabet grid that's a great brainstorming tool and a cover page template. Templates are in black and white due to cut backs in schools, however, student artwork adds the color needed.

Use this grammar assessment as a diagnostic or end of the year assessment, as a teaching tool or practice for mandatory state tests. Included are: Nouns, verbs and verb tenses, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, synonyms, antonyms, plural and singular nouns, alphabetical order, pronouns, prefixes, contractions, syllables, types of sentences (exclamatory, declarative, interrogative, imperative), punctuation, subjects, predicates, context clues, prepositions, direct objects, complete or incomplete sentences, capitalization, editing and revising sentences.
There are 35 questions with some having multiple examples to answer. Answers are included.

Your students will love this states and capitals activity. I've modified this to be a more fun type of activity that kids become totally engrossed in. They color the states according to the directions on the sheets that are included in this packet. For example, all states that begin with the letter N, might be colored with purple polka dots. Those states that begin with the letter O, might be be colored with green stripes. One map is for coloring the states, another is for coloring the state capitals. This activity helps students to learn the states, capitals, and become familiar with their shapes. Display these colorful maps around your classroom. 


If you'd like to see some adorable. extremely well planned lessons, check out the Wise Owl Factory. Carolyn has created wonderful lessons in all kinds of formats.  Her inspiration and dedication to teaching is admirable.  If it wasn't for her tremendous assistance, my blog wouldn't be up and running. 

Carolyn is an avid nature lover and observer. Take a look at this video of a moose that she has on her site that can be used with the book "Agate, What Good is a Moose?" by Dey and Johnson. What a perfect video for kids to get an up close view of a young moose eating river plants! I really don't know if I could hold my breath that long! 

I could barely stop oooo'ing and awwww'ing when I saw the baby polar baby video. I just wanted to hug him to pieces. The book is a true story called Knut, How One Little Polar Bear Captured the World by Hatkoff, Gerald R. Uhlich, Craig Hatkoff, Craig Hatkoff, Isabella Hatkoff.

This brings back fond memories of when I saw Klondike and Snow, the baby polar bears who were abandoned by their mother, at the Denver Zoo. They were taken to Sea World in FL when they were about a year old.  I had my picture taken with them as the nudged the glass where I was sitting!  I bought the Denver Zoo's book called "Klondike and Snow" published by the Denver Zoological Foundation in 1995 and read it to the kids every year since then. I'd show the following video to them too! 
Klondike & Snow - 2 Baby Polar Bears - YouTube

Take a look at Carolyn's TeachersPayTeachers site too!!
Store: Wise Owl Factory - TeachersPayTeachers.com



Ever end up somewhere on the Web, and not know how you got there???
It happens to me all the time.
I found these font sites as I was looking for something or another...

Check these out...

A word of caution! You might be on these sites for hours!!

Monday, August 15, 2011


I had received information about TeacherspayTeachers when it was first "born" but didn't pay much attention to it because I was too busy with school projects and it always seemed like something would pop up that kept me from seriously investigating it.

One hot, hazy summer day, two years ago, I decided to take a look at it. That was the turning point for me. I was amazed when all the incredible, quality lessons popped up on my monitor and was like a kid in a candy store when I discovered that there were FREEBIES!! I must have "gobbled up" twenty of them, all the while thinking, "I want to be part of this!"

Now two years later, I've become part of the incredible TpT "family" of educators and couldn't be happier. Not only do I sell my lessons, but I've also become part of a network of dedicated teachers from the U.S and other countries who share ideas in the Sellers' Forum, help with "how to's", praise each other and more. Honestly, if I wasn't part of this amazing network, I would have never created this blog.

Here I am, two years later!

You'll have to bear with me as I continue to work on some technical issues.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Curious Summer Thoughts

Welcome to Teacher 4Kids!

Doesn't it seem like the summer's flying by? Wasn't it just yesterday that you were saying goodbye to your kids as they left your classroom on the last day of school?

When we were kids the summers always seemed endless. We'd ride our bikes until sunset, played games, went to the beach and read our favorite books. We explored, created games, played tag, hide 'n seek and had fun!  It seems like there were 36 hours to every day!

Now that we're adults, the summer days seem much shorter. Is there ever enough time to get everything done? Throughout the school year, there are always comments like...  "I  can't believe it's Thanksgiving already!" or "I didn't have enough time to do a certain project with my kids that took me hours and hours to prepare", or "Can you believe it's June? Where has the time gone?"

Many schools are already back in session. Being a native New Englander, the idea of school starting before Labor Day is foreign to me.

August is the month of beach clambakes and steamed lobster drenched in hot butter. The "butter and sugar corn" is sweeter than ever and perfect for August picnics and town fairs.  There are small town oyster festivals along the shore and sidewalk sales with vibrantly colored swim suits begging to be sold. Barefoot kids scamper along the ocean beaches, searching for perfect squirmy sea critters and seashells, as sailboats lazily drift by in the blazing sun.


A month to celebrate before the chilly breath of Autumn arrives.