Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Sandy Hook Sadness

Sandy Hook Sadness

The day the tragedy happened in Sandy Hook, we were very ill with the flu. I posted the blog button that was scheduled with all other bloggers, that would appear on December 16th. We all agreed not to blog that day. 

Much to my dismay, it never appeared. Why? I'll never know. I checked my postings and there it was. Scheduled. I thought that I might have forgotten to schedule it because of the high fever I had that day. But no. It was scheduled.

I did my student teaching in Newtown. Sandy Hook is a section of Newtown, sort of like a village within a town. I remember being horrified when the news first broke. 

I thought I was in a delirious state of mind from fever, but when I woke up hours, later, it wasn't a bad dream. The quiet, beautiful town was headline news. How could something like this happen? 
What kind of monster could do something like this? My mind was reeling. Not in Connecticut, not where I spent formative time, teaching fourth graders under the guidance of one of the nicest, most capable teachers I've ever met. 

My neighbor called and was frantic. Two teachers from our town had taken positions in Newtown and she wasn't sure the names of the schools or where they are now. Later, we found out they were safe. One had been at Sandy Hook Elementary last year, but she had been transferred to another school, this year. The other teacher was in a school at the northern end of Newtown. What a relief.  

I'll end this post to say that the local news has been reporting that the town is overwhelmed with all of the teddy bears, gifts, and other things people from around the world are sending. They show updated pictures of it, on television and at this point, they're not sure what they're going to do with it. All of the biodegradable items, like flowers and the Christmas tree, wooden items may be turned into "sacred" soil and placed in a park as a memorial, but there is much more than can't be recycled. The news reports are saying as of today, that sending money, for the families, is better. 

God bless the little children and their families, the brave staff, the residents of Newtown and people of the world. God has wrapped those who were taken from us, in his loving arms, where they'll remain for eternity. When I was young, our minister always told us that God loves us and has a plan for each and everyone of us. His words have always been a source of comfort, especially now.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Snowball Synonyms

I'm having a great time creating my snowball lessons! I guess it's because Mother Nature opened her seasons door and winter entered like a bull. There never seems to be a gradual change in our area. One day it's in the 70's and the next ay, it's teeth chattering 30's. We had an unusual October Nor'Easter that set the pace for others to follow.

 I remember my cousins coming to visit from Mobile, Alabama, one winter. They were 10 and 7 years old and had NEVER seen snow. An over night snowstorm dropped 6 inches on us and when we woke up the next morning, it was truly a "winter wonderland".

What we didn't realize is our cousins had run out, grabbed our sleds and were flying down our back hill with reckless abandon. They didn't realize that you have to HOLD on to the sled and steer it, otherwise, a tree just might jump out in front of you. I pulled on my snowsuit and went flying out the door, waving my arms and yelling STOP STOP! 

They were too far away to hear me and before I knew it, they were flying down the hill, waving wildly back at me. They must have thought I was cheering them on. Fortunately, they made it to the bottom of the hill safely.

My Snowball Synonyms is a cut/paste activity. I love these kinds of activities because kids love hands on activities. Match up the synonyms, paste them in the snowballs, while thinking of snowball fights with friends and making snow forts with HUGE snowballs!

Have fun!

photo of Snowball Synonyms, ELA, grammar, Teacher Park,

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

TeachersPayTeachers Cyber Monday Sale!

On Monday, November 26th, TeachersPayTeachers is having an incredible sale! This year there's even an extra bonus day! The sale will also be on November 27th if you can't make it the 26th. If you're not aware of it, you can create a wish list at TeachersPayTeachers before the sale.

Maybe you're looking for some Common Core worksheets or for a novel packet to use with your students in class. Or a holiday project. There are thousands of lessons and more on TpT. Teachers are always looking for ways to save time. With having to align with the Common Core by creating lessons and worksheets for students, there just aren't enough hours in the day to do everything that's required of teachers these days.

Click on the banner to see my store! 
photo of TeachersPayTeachers Cyber Monday Sale

Here are some of my custom categories 
that will save you time if you're looking for a certain lesson! 

Hope to see you at the sale!


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Aftermath

We're alive! YAY! The anticipation of the storm was totally stressful, but once it burst upon us, it was a frightening experience and our stress turned to white knuckled panic. Strong sustained winds blew in from the north easterly direction. The eye of the hurricane slammed into my sister's area near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Because we're about 200 miles northeast of her, we received some of the highest winds.

The worst part was that Sandy appeared after darkness had fallen so it was impossible to see the damage being done. When winds are that strong, it's best to stay away from windows, lest the wind breaks through. Usually we run masking tape in crisscross designs so that if the windows do break, the pieces will fall to the floor. Our earlier preparation had been so long and tiring that we forgot to take care of the windows. Fortunately, none of them were damaged. 

I filled up the bathtub about the time I heard the distant freight train sounds of Sandy's winds. The water is used to flush the toilet because we have well water and the pump runs on electricity. If we lose power, we lose the ability to have running water. Thus said, it took me all afternoon to fill up plastic water jugs and fill small stackable food storage containers that I filled with water and froze before the hurricane arrived. 

When one lives in storm areas, one learns little tricks to preserve food in the refrigerator. If the power goes off, the blocks of ice that neatly stack on top of each other, are placed on the top shelf of the refrigerator to extend the amount of time the food will be preserved. A great science lesson we all learned is .... Warm air rises, cool air sinks. 

Meanwhile my husband had huge Rubber Maid garbage pails that he used the garden hose to fill with water. Those were placed in the garage and would be also used to flush toilets. My plastic jugs were labelled "For Washing" and "For Drinking". It's amazing how we take things for granted! Once the power goes off, water becomes precious.

Since we have an electric stove, we'd use the grill to cook. Keeping warm is another challenge. Wear double and triple layers of clothing, thermal socks and fleece blankets. It's unusual for hurricanes to strike this late in the year so we were a little worried about how we'd keep warm..

Amazingly we never lost power, but it's so much better to be prepared.

More to come.... The devastation in New Jersey and Staten Island was shocking...
The people in New Jersey and New York City continue to suffer. The President met with Governor Christi of New Jersey and promised that FEMA would help. That remains to be seen. I pray for those poor people. No electricity, food, water or gas. Why aren't they being helped! it's been too long!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy is roaring up the east coast and will be in our area starting late Sunday night. How can it be that another major storm will keep the trick or treaters home like last year? We had a major winter blizzard on the exact same day as when Sandy will knock on our door, this year. I can't imagine how the kids feel about losing yet another night of trick or treat fun. I remember the excitement of planning what I was going to wear. 

 Last year the hurricane- blizzard was so violent, huge branches became airborne and turned into deadly missiles that embedded themselves in tree trunks, homes, and anything else in their path.

I remember my two dachshunds sitting by the door which is their sign they need to go outside. As I opened the storm door, the top of a tree split off and plummeted to the ground. When the storm had subsided, we discovered the force of the impact had driven the branch three feet in the ground. With that visual in mind, I told my two dogs, they'd have to wait. Our property is wooded so it was dangerous to venture outside, even for a quick minute for the dogs to "do their thing". 

I'll never forget the sounds of last year's October storm. Blizzard conditions. It was an unreal sound, of tree branches snapping, trees toppling with earth shaking thumps. Add to that, the white out conditions that made even seeing your own hand in front of your face, impossible.

Because of last year's storm and other wild autumn storms, we've been watching Hurricane Sandy closely. Hurricanes and blizzards are forces of Mother Nature that we New Englanders know very well. This hurricane, however, is a much different breed from those we've experienced. 

Taking a relatively normal path up the east coast, we soon learned that Sandy will merge with a cold front moving in from the west, and another low pressure system.  This is what fisherman of Gloucester, Massachusetts, call a perfect storm. As I watched some of the "old salts" being interviewed on t.v. I vividly recalled the movie "The Perfect Storm".  The fisherman on the Andrea Gail had no idea how massive and violent the storm was.  Having been on the sea for most their lives, and always fighting Atlantic rough seas before, they probably figured they could beat the storm. 

Mark Twain's famous quote comes to mind about the quirky New England weather. 
"If you don't like the weather in New England, just wait a few minutes".  Very true, Mr. Twain. One minute a thunderstorm, the next minute, sunny skies. 

We just received an automated phone call from our town's emergency center and learned the following:

The middle school is the town's shelter. We were told what to bring which includes bedding, clothing, medications and more. This time they didn't say anything about pets. We're wondering what would happen to our dogs if they say they can't come with us. The problem with the location of the middle school is that last year, three huge trees came down on the only road to get there. Thus the northern part of town was completely blocked from the shelter and access to the road came about when the storm was over.

The storm will last 36 hours which is very odd. Most hurricanes last 12 hours and then move out of the area. 

Sustained winds (not gusts) will be 75 - 85 mph for 36 hours. The sound of the wind is typically described like a freight train roaring into your house. Sleep doesn't come easy. The house shakes and moans. 

The ocean will rise 4 to 8 feet meaning that homes directly on the shoreline will be washed out to sea like they were last year. 

Loss of power is almost a definite. No power crews will be working until the storm moves out of the area. It will be too dangerous for the crews to work in the high winds.

Have plenty of water on hand. Most homes have well water. When the power goes out, well pumps don't work. People have to fill their bathtubs with water so they can use the water to flush toilets. We have plastic jugs we fill with our well water for storms.

Have plenty of batteries. Gas up cars because gas stations' pumps won't work because they need electricity. Buy gas for generators and buy wood for wood stoves and fireplaces.

During one hurricane, my husband had to tie a rope around his waist because with high sustained winds and pounding rain it's easy to get lost and disoriented if someone ventures outside. I was holding the other end of the rope and remember watching as he disappeared two feet from me wondering how long it would take him to get to the barn, 100 feet away.

These are some short clips that demonstrate the power of the ocean when hurricanes roar in over Long Island Sound...

Guilford. CT Hurricane Irene, September, 2011
The anger of the ocean
This isn't our home! Most homes on the direct coastline were washed away.

Cosey Beach, East Haven, CT, September, 2011

We won't know if the collision of Hurricane Sandy with the other two low pressure systems will bring us a winter blizzard or heavy rain and hurricane force winds. I hope it's the latter.. Only time will tell.

I may not be online for awhile, so happy blogging!


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Coming of Winter

New England is in full bloom. 
The sugar maples, the most brilliant of all the reds, 
are decked out in their best, 
waiting for their long winter- white sleep robes. 

Their slumber will be abruptly shaken 
when the temperatures rise above freezing during the day 
and dip below freezing at night. 
That's the time when their sap runs, the blood of the sugar maples.

The mighty oaks stand proudly 
and are the last to salute winter's arrival. 
Even when the first snow falls, 
their leaves hang on for dear life, to every high twig. 

Under Mother Nature's order, 
the oaks then release the last yellow-brown leaves
 that drift 
to crusty blankets of snow.

The fields of Black eye Susan splashy flowers
 have transformed into brown seed laden balls.
Rich food for the flock of Goldfinches, 
that flutter from ball to ball, 
and rise up
in a yellow haze when startled. 

Chestnut and black striped chirpers,
 the chatty chipmunks 
scurry to
gather hazel nuts
and acorns
to fatten themselves for the onset of winter. 

The mountains are ablaze. 
Reds, yellows, 
crimsons and purples.
Splashes on nature's palette
Trees waving their last goodbyes
As they celebrate the coming of


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Phillip Martins Amazing Art

Many, many teachers recognize Phillip Martin's children's clip art that can be found on the Web, but I wonder how many have ever seen his fabulous, large and bright murals that bring smiles to kids' faces around the world?  Take a look at Phillip describing his artistic journey and what led him to Google's AdSense.  I bet you didn't know he taught art in Belgium!


Click on this page to see more...

Photo of Phillip Martin's Amazing Art, Teacher Park

Here are Phillip's incredible murals. 
You can see how much fun the kids are having 
as they help him
create these works of art!

photo of Back to the Wall, Phillip Martin, murals

And his homepage FUN!!

Photo of Phillip Martin, Home Page, clip art, graphics

Friday, August 31, 2012

Star Writer Award!

What a surprise to receive yet another award! 
I've always been an avid writer but never in my wildest dreams 
did I ever expect to receive such a prestigious award!

Again, this top award was sent through cyberspace 
and landed mysteriously on my blog!
 I'm not allowed to divulge the identity of this well known blog reviewer!
Maybe you'd like to take a guess?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Education Blog Award 2012

I'm very humbled and honored to have received this award 
from one of the most prestigious blog reviewers on the Web.
She spends endless hours, days, months to
help teachers' dreams come true! 

This award is not passed from one blogger to another
but rather is awarded secretly to education bloggers. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

TeachersPayTeachers Back to School Sale!

TeachersPayTeachers is having an incredible Back to School Sale on August 12th and August 13th.
Use PROMO CODE BTS12 to get an additional 10% off!  Fantastic lessons, novel packets, ready to print worksheets, Common Core items and more! The savings will help teachers have a stress free start for a new school year. Click on the sale sign to see more! 
Remember! This sale starts tomorrow, Sunday August 12th! 

Happy Back to School to All!

Teachers are adding to their wish lists on TeachersPayTeachers now. Browse my store and add to your list. The sale begins Sunday! Everything in my store will be on sale!

Just a few examples are...

This is one of my newest packets of ready to print worksheets for common and proper nouns. Great practice for the Common Core Standards!

photo of Common and Proper Nouns PDF Ruth S. author, Teacher Park

Check out my Common Core Reading themes worksheet and student friendly rubric that can be used with any story or novel! 

Photo of Common Core Reading Standards Themes by Ruth S. Teacher Park

Students have so much fun coloring the states they don't realize they're learning
states' shapes, locations and other important information. Have them work in small group
and watch the fun begin!! 

photo of Color the U.S States by Ruth S author

These cards are a perfect way to assess your students' knowledge of vowels/consonant sounds, prefixes/suffixes, base/root words, verb tenses, syllables, singular/plural nouns and more! 
Use as pre-- and post assessments to determine their strengths and weaknesses.
There are 24 task cards, teacher answer sheet, teacher sheet to record their answers, mastery certificates in black and white and Common Core labels for students' folder in color and black and white. 
Once you determine who needs extra practice in a certain area, you can work with small groups. 

I also offer novel packets with ready to print worksheets that save teachers from having to create them!

Stop by my store and browse my 200+ products of teacher saving worksheets lessons in reading, spelling, English, science, social studies, holidays and more! 

Scroll down to see more of my product listings that were featured in the Lesson Cloud sale! 


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Subjects and Predicates

I remember my fifth grade teacher required us to state our answers in complete sentences. I'm not referring to writing our answers in complete sentences. She would make us turn a question around and answer her orally in a full sentence. I learned a valuable lesson from her and throughout my teacher career have always insisted my students do the same. 

These days everything is quick and easy. Need a cake for a party? Buy a boxed cake mix. Need to change the channel on the television? Grab the remote instead of getting up to change it. So why not answer questions with a quick "yes" or "no"? 

Is everything quick and easy in our classrooms? Do we require kids to give us oral answers in complete sentences or do we accept one word answers so we can move on to the next topic? Are we too stressed out because we're required to meet goals in all subjects by the end of the year and it  just doesn't seem like we'll be able to cover all the material we're supposed to? Have our expectations changed?

Oral response is just as important as written response. In my opinion, speaking in complete sentences should be required in schools. 

For that reason I created a subject and predicate packet of ready to print student worksheets with my instructions. Hopefully, teachers will stress the importance of written and oral responses as they present these to their students and require they give their oral responses using complete subjects and predicates! :)

photo of Subjects and Predicates PDF

Saturday, July 28, 2012

UPDATE! August 5th The Back to School Dollar Days Sale was a great success. Thank you to everyone who participated in this great sale! My lessons are back to pre-sale prices but watch my TeachersPayTeachers store for sales.  Thanks again!


Announcing the first ever Back to School Dollar Days sale...with a $75 Gift Certificate to Really Good Stuff to boot! This Sunday, July 29th and Monday, July 30th, join us on the Cloud for an amazing sale and giveaway!

The Lesson Cloud authors have put together an amazing list of hundreds of items for just $1 or $2!! Stock up on all your Back to School needs for just $1 or $2 each. Plus, once you've stocked up, enter our $75 Gift Certificate Giveaway to Really Good Stuff!! Couldn't you use an extra $75 to start off the school year?

Keep watching The Lesson Cloud blog, The Lesson Cloud Facebook page and The Lesson Cloud Twitter feeds for more! Teachers Pre-K - 12 are selling incredible lessons for $1.00 and $2.00. 

photo of Lesson Cloud Dollar Days Sale July 29th and 30th Lesson Cloud

I have the following items on sale! Be sure to click on the Lesson Cloud Sale sign (above) to see the entire list of what talented teachers have put on sale. The link will be live just before midnight EST, on July 28th and the sale will last through July 30th All lessons will return to their original prices after the 30th.

photo of Number Critter Numbers 1-10 Teacher Park TeachersPayTeachers
Originally $3.00 On sale for $2.00

photo of Book Report Trifold Use with Any Novel TeachersPayTeachers
Originally $6.00 On sale for $2.00

photo of ABC Book Template for All Ages Teacher Park
Originally $3.75 On sale for $2.00

photo of Common Core Standards Reading Themes
Originally #3.00 On sale for $2.00

photo of Fish and Bubbles ClipArt Teacher Park
Originally $4.00 On Sale for $2.00

photo of Behavior Forms for Teachers Teacher Park
Originally $2.75 On Sale for $1.00

photo of Homophones are Fun
Originally $3.00 On Sale for $2.00

photo of Literary Packet Generic Worksheets High School or College
Originally $4.50 On Sale for $2.00

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Fish and Bubbles Clipart

Fish and Bubbles?  How did I think of that name?  A week ago, my husband and I went to one of our favorite local seafood restaurants that sits within a marina in town. I always say I'm going to order something different, but as it turned out, I once again ordered one of my favorite dishes, "Fish and Chips".

That day I had been creating all kinds of little critters on my computer. One of them was a colorful fish. As I was enjoying my delicious fish and chips,  the words FISH and BUBBLES popped into my mind. Fish and chips. Fish and Bubbles! When we got home, I turned on my computer and began creating bubbles which lead to seaweed, a little clam, more fish an underwater background and more.

I think teachers often have those same kinds of experiences. They have an idea in mind about a lesson they want to present, or worksheets they want to create and suddenly, out of nowhere,  PING! A creative idea is born!

It took me a few days to put the packet of clipart together for I see it being used along with a class ocean theme. Worksheets with fish and bubbles. The bubbles an be used in a variety of ways. Enlarge them and use them as background circles for numbers or letters of the alphabet. I also designed an underwater background with hues of blue.

Here are a few of the fish. Notice how bright and sharp the images are. All are in PNG format and have transparent backgrounds, so layering and sizing them is fun! I also included some black and white fish that can be used as coloring pages.

These are a couple of the fish. All are large and can be made any size. The clarity, color and sharpness of the images remain the same no matter what size they are.

photo of Fish and Bubbles Clip Art, clip art, PDF, graphics Teacher Park

This is the cover of my packet. If you'd like to read more about it, click on it!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Amanda Clark Cousin in the Summer Olympics

It's very exciting to have a cousin who's participating in the Summer Olympics!!

Our cousin, Amanda Clark was with the Olympians in Washington, D.C., during the Fourth of July celebration and concert that was aired on television. 

Each of the Olympians' names were called and close up's were shown of all these talented young people. It was a great moment these young Olympians, who will be heading to Great Britain to compete!

Amanda started sailing at a young age and has raced competitively all over the world. She also raced in the last summer Olympics in Bejing, China.

Amanda Clark Team Go Sail 2012 Summer Olympics
Click on the picture to go to the Team Go Sail 2012 site!

On the Team Go Sail 2012 site, you'll see information about Amanda and Sarah, her teammate.  There's also a picture of her standing with one of the greatest musical American prodigies .. the famous John Williams who conducted that night. 

They're on FB too where you can "like" her page. We have to cheer for our American Olympians!


Friday, June 29, 2012

Canary Islands Whistle Language

Recently, I was talking with a foreign language teacher about languages offered in public schools. I remember having choices of Spanish, German, French, Italian and Latin when I was in high school. Nowadays, with our ever changing world, we see offerings of Arabic, Chinese and others that were never offered when I was in high school. 

I've always been fascinated with languages even though I could never quite master them. Some have a musical appeal, like Swedish and certain Chinese dialects.

My friend and I wondered how school boards choose the languages that are taught today because of the large number of dialects of languages, like Chinese. 

I can't even imagine what African languages would be chosen. Maybe, Swahili? Within just that one language, I'm sure there are many, many dialects.

When I was in college, one of my courses included a study of the Igbo tribe of Nigeria. The Igbo, is one ethnic group, but there are also the Yorubas and Hausas. All speak the same language but with different dialects. 

There are over 6,000 endangered languages around the world, some of which are now being taught in schools.  One we learned about, when we first visited Switzerland, is Romansh, one of the four official languages of Switzerland. It's a language of the mountain people and hadn't been taught in schools until they brought it back a few years ago. 


"Romansh is a romance language of the Rhaetian group spoken in northern Italy and Switzerland, primarily in the Rhine Valley in the Swiss canton of Graub√ľnden (Grisons)."

Listen to the sounds of some of these words. You'll hear the definite ties to Italian and French and of course, German.

Then there's the unusual whistle language of the Canary Islands, off the coast of Africa. One of my favorite principals told fascinating stories to me about his summer vacations in the Canaries and the whistle language. I've never forgotten it. 

This YouTube video is a fascinating account of the history, people and whistle language of La Gomera (Canary Islands) It shows kids in school learning the whistles.

Whistled language of the island of La Gomera (Canary Islands), the Silbo Gomero - YouTube

It's important we save these endangered languages, both orally and written forms.

Have a wonderful summer!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Polka Dot Monsters

I decided to try my hand at creating some clip art. I've always loved to draw and do art work so this was FUN!

I just finished a bunch of borders and frames but want to work on more before posting them.

Here are two of four polka dot monsters I made today... Maybe I should call them "critters"???

I'm up for suggestions! What would you call them? Crumpies? Thingamajiggies? :)

Update  6/19/2012

I've removed my critters for now. I want to finish the set. Stay tuned! :)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Wastebasket Full of Papers

Every year, it seems that the kids think school's over right after April vacation. A few years ago, during a break between classes, I noticed that my wastebasket was filled to the rim and overflowing in a paper waterfall.  It was late morning and my basket is never full that time of day. I figured it was a student who decided to throw everything away and start summer vacation early.

I decided to investigate to see what else was in my overly full basket. YES! I became a garbage picker, but trust me if I had lifted one piece of the crumpled paper and saw anything organic, my garbage picking days would be over.

All the bits and pieces on the top were nameless, so I continued digging, determined to find out who the culprit was. Near the bottom was a beautiful sketch with a name in the lower right hand corner. Ah ha! I would definitely be a good guest star on CSI! I didn't know who the name belonged to, but I was determined to find out.

All kinds of school notices, some from September, were buried and the more I dove into the mess the more I found. A notice about parent conferences dated in October, a notice about an orchestra field trip to Woolsey Hall, two late homework slips that were supposed to be signed by parents, but weren't, a late slip from the library dated in October. I sensed Mr. Artist's parents weren't getting the notices and he had slipped through our loving teacher fingers.

I found graded papers! How dare a student throw away a graded paper. We teachers spend hours grading papers and expect that they end up on kitchen refrigerators or at least on the kitchen table for a day or two.

I began to feel a little lightheaded as I stood up, clutching wads of papers, some stuffed under my arms. I walked into the hall and saw one of my coworkers holding a gym bag. She was also in a frenzy and yelled, "Do you believe (so and so) left her gym bag in MY room? We've been telling them ALL year that they have to take everything with them when they leave for the day".  I must have really looked like a mess because she looked me up and down and then peered at me with an incredulous look on her face. "Your face is beet red. You okay?"

"Not exactly, but I'm determined to find out who stuffed his entire school year in my wastebasket. I stormed down the hall, papers falling from my grasp as I yelled, "Who has (so and so) as a student?" I was waving the artistic sketch that had the potential of being a Rembrandt in a hundred years or so, and almost hit Mrs. W. in the face with it as she walked into the hall.

"He's mine."

At last, I thought. And I began to rant and rave about someone stuffing my wastebasket, with forms from the office, field trip forms, late library notices, then took a deep breath and looked her.

"I'd like to see him so that I can return his valuable pieces of memorabilia that he did this year."

I was psyched and couldn't wait to ask him WHY he stuffed them in MY wastebasket. I had it all planned out. I'd tell him how important it is to take things home and to keep his parents aware of what we do in school.

Mrs. W. looked at me and sighed. "He's gone."

"Gone?" "Well send him to me tomorrow morning, okay? I just need to see him for  a few minutes."

She sighed again. "He's gone for good." She slipped into one of the student desks and looked up at me.

"His grandmother called school about an hour ago and told the Main Office that he had to be in the front of the building in 30 minutes. She said that his father had just been released from prison and they have to go into hiding because she has custody and the father wants custody. He's such a good student, I can't imagine what he's feeling."

The papers fell from my arms like gentle rain and formed puddles around my ankles.  I couldn't even think of how to respond to her. I picked up the papers, told her I was sorry I was like a raving maniac and headed to my room.

The sketch hangs in my family room as a reminder of how fragile our students are.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Unique Fundraiser to Help Rebuild Schools in Virginia

Chad, a teacher in rural Virginia, is having a different type of fundraiser to help contribute to the rebuilding of two schools that were destroyed in his small county in December, 2011. The high school where he taught was one of the schools that was destroyed. He's now teaching in a portable classroom in the middle of a parking lot.

His unusual "giveaway" is this. He's going to generously donate a dollar to the fund, for every five people who follow his TeachersPayTeachers store.  He's doing this project until June 1st if you wish to do so, follow him on TpT soon!

We felt that earthquake and we're hundreds of miles north of Virginia. I can't imagine what it was like to be at the epicenter.

Here are Chad's links!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Massachusett's Song (You Athol)

As the earth warms and the delicious aroma and sparkling sunlight of spring pushes winter away, I long to be outside on this New England spring day. It's the kind of day I like to look for the chipmunk's new home or lift up the granite rocks to try and find a black and yellow spotted salamander. I found one last spring and hadn't seen one since childhood. The biggest salamander in the area, these critters are elusive and shy.

Like a rain soaked dog, I shake away the winter blues and run to the back stream to see if the mallards are nesting. I  lean over and scoop up some rich black soil and inhale the luscious earthy aroma, wondering if the Native American Pequots reveled in this springtime blast of sun.  How did they know exactly when to plant their Indian corn? Where did they store the kernels during the winter?

Our egg farmer, whose small pristine farm, is a family jewel, told me he plants his peas in March and it always has to be on St. Patrick's Day. Why St. Patrick's Day I ask him? He shrugs. "Dunno, it's the way it's always been."  I'm thinking next year,  I'll plant my peas on St. Patrick's Day too and think about Saint Paddy ridding the Emerald Isle of snakes.

Bob, the farmer, turns and tells me that the honeybees have made a comeback. It's been a strange couple of years with no friendly honeybees in our gardens. Scientists claim that pesticides have damaged their "radar" so they weren't able to find their way back to the hives, thus they died and left the flowers wondering where their friendly pollinators were. Bob's beekeeper friend, has several hives on the outer edge of his farm and thanks to him we'll have luscious honey this year.

Suddenly, a rowdy catbird lands to my right, in the huge burning bush. He flicks his long dark gray tail and sings his warbled song that startle the dogs who begin woofing at him. I whistle back at him and he moves closer to me, so close I could reach out and touch him.

Two summers ago, I was walking toward the stream and above my head I heard a crow frantically cawing. It's the crow warning signal that something's not right. I look up at him and notice that he's circling and glaring at something behind me.

I turn and stop dead in my tracks. A coyote is racing at top speed in my direction, but doesn't see me because he has his eye on the huge crow. I fall on the ground and cover my head with my arms, praying that I don't become Wile E. Coyote's morning snack. They say that life passes before your eyes when situations like this arise, but all I kept thinking about were the mallards and their ducklings on the bank of the stream. Would THEY become his morning snack?

With a woosh, the coyote flies over me, so close that I feel his underbelly fur on my arms. What seemed like an hour, was only a few minutes before I could even sit up, I was shaking so hard. I looked out at the stream as the critter bounded to the bank and leaped across the water. The crow continued to dive bomb him, screeching and cawing, as I stood up and brushed myself off.  I'll never forget it and still listen for the crow when I venture to the stream.

Being a native of Connecticut, and living along the coast, I'm a steadfast New Englander. I'm very familiar with our northern neighbor, Massachusetts, having spent vacations on the Cape, Martha's Vineyard and reveling in jaunts around the historical city of Boston all of my life.

Walks on the beach of the Northern shore of the Cape,...the weathered clapboard cape cod style homes, chunks of  buttery lobster...breath taking, spine tingling whale watching boat rides... the smell of the salt air...  the terns dive bombing as they screech "get away from our nests!"....  walking the "Freedom Trail" in Boston and listening to stories of Paul Revere.... Standing where the Boston Massacre happened that fateful day during the Revolutionary War and so much more reminds me that New England is where I want to be... forever.

Fond memories of those summer vacations in Massachusetts came flooding back as I listened to this very clever, whimsical,  tune called "Massachusetts Song (You Athol)  that Dana Edelman and his son, Jaiden, sing.  Yes, you read it correctly "You Athol".  Athol IS a town in Massachusetts. Sung with a slip of the tongue,  Athol becomes, you guessed it.  A**hole.  HA! A very witty play on words!

 If you listen carefully you'll hear 50 Massachusetts towns as Dana and Jaiden sing this father/son duet.

Do you recognize the names of these towns? I was very surprised when I heard "Cheshire" because that's my hometown in Connecticut. I never knew there was one in Massachusetts!

Taunton, Cheshire, Athol, Holyoke, Sandwich, Milton, Braintree, Brewster, Lynn, Gardner, Worcester, Falmouth, Marblehead, (Marbles in Your Head) Russell, Springfield, Buzzard(Buzzard's Bay) Martha's Vineyard..

What?? You thought I'd list all 50 towns?? HA! No! You have to listen carefully and add to the list!
Guaranteed you'll listen to this song more than 50 times!

Many thanks to Dana and Jaiden for this VERY cool New England tune
that will make you want to tap your toes and slap a knee!!
Click on Jaiden's shoulder to hear it!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Vocabulary Detective 5

Another Vocabulary Detective Contest! Run weekly contests using these simile, metaphor and personification cards. Kids put their cards in the Detective Jar and can't wait for the drawings!

Instructions are included.

Click on the cover for more information!

photo of vocabulary detective task cards 5 Teacher Park Ruth S Teacher Park Ruth S vocabulary contest


Friday, May 4, 2012


Teachers pay Teachers is having a HUGE SALE!!! 
For Teacher Appreciation Week 
It's a

(My entire store is on sale today (Friday and Saturday) 
but there will be a higher percentage off on Sunday!
I have MANY free products. 
Hope to see you at my store!

On those days teachers will have their own sales on top of
what Teachers Pay Teachers is having!

Be sure to use the code number
when you check out!

My entire store is on sale! You'll receive an extra percentage off when you check out if you enter the code. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Mrs. Lirette's Mega GIVEAWAY!!

Last Thursday, Mrs. Lirette's blog "Mrs. Lirette's Learning Detectives" blog was viewed 100,000 times!! Amazing!

Mrs. Lirette features creative lessons that bring a smile to her students' and blogger friends' faces :)

To show her appreciation,  there is a huge GIVEAWAY on her blog!  

Click below to join this exciting celebration!


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Our Environment Earth Day Activities FREE

We're avid recyclers.  The first time we went to Germany to visit our German friends, who live on Lake Constance, in southern Germany, we were amazed to see the system of recycling they have. In each home, there's a recycle rack on wheels that has plastic bags that hang down to almost the floor. The bags are different colors and represent different types of plastic that must be recycled. All throughout the countryside, people  lay neatly stacked bundles of twigs, branches and other biodegradable materials that are tied together by the roadside for pick up. They looked to be about two feet in length.  It's understandable that a country the size of Michigan, that has over 85 million people, enforce these regulations.

The first time we went shopping in Germany, we were in for a big surprise. After paying for our groceries, we waited for the clerk to bag our purchases and were shocked when she told us, in very good English by the way, that we have to bring our own bags.

We walked out of the shop stuffing our purchases in our jacket pockets, in my oversized pocketbook and carrying them in our arms. Our next trip, we brought a German cloth bag that fit quite nicely in our suitcase.

That was back in 2000. I wonder how long ago they required cloth bags?? Within the last few years, cloth bags have been available in our stores and we immediately began using them.

Since our trips over there, everything in our home is recycled, reduced or reused. Our wet garbage, vegetable peelings and anything else that is biodegradable goes in the compost bin and is used to enrich our gardens. All cans are recycled. Once a month we take our paper to a town recycle center where it's put in huge trucks and taken to recycle companies to be remade into some other plastic product. Nowadays, when I open a plastic bottle of juice, I wonder where the plastic came from. Was it once a bottle of seltzer? A plastic bag? A toothbrush? Hmmm...

I created this 38 page free environmental packet so that teachers might encourage their students to recycle, reduce and reuse. I collaborated with Suzanne Corso, an award winning author, who wrote the children's book "Sammy and Sue Go Green, Too" and "Brooklyn Story" to create the packet that can be used for Earth Day this year and years to come.

Design a hybrid car! Play an environmental match game! Research animals and fill out the animal cards!
Write a letter to a legislator and tell them about a pollution or environmental issue in your neighborhood! Or write a letter to a friend and explain why it's important to recycle!

These and many more activities are included in my FREE 38 page packet. Click on the cover for the download.

photo of Earth Day, environment, Our Environment Earth Day Activities FREE, pollution, recycle, reduce, reuse, Sammy and Sue Go Green Too, Suzanne Corso,


Monday, April 16, 2012

Predictions and Strategies

It always seems that when kids are asked to make predictions, they always predict what will happen at the end of a story. For that reason, it's important to model predicting. I often use a fairy tale or short story to help them learn how to predict what will happen NEXT.

Read a part of a fairy tale, stop and ask what's happened. After volunteers have summarized that section, explain that predictions should be made about what will happen next, based on what they read. Be sure to emphasize that the predictions shouldn't be wordy. They should be brief statements. That's also sometimes difficult to do because kids love to add details, details, details!

This worksheet can be kept at centers, used with literature circles, guided reading groups, used independently or as assessments. Click on the image for the free download.

photo of predictions free pdf  reading strategies Teacher Park

Monday, April 9, 2012

Vocabulary Detectives 4

Hot off the press! Another pack of Vocabulary Detective Cards! My first three sets were so popular, I decided to make more! Kids search the books they're reading for the types of words or grammar on the cards then put them in the Detective Jar for the weekly drawing. Instructions how to use the cards for weekly drawings are included as well as the links for the first three FREE packs of cards with this set. Have fun!

photo of Vocabulary Detective Task Cards 4 Teacher Park grades 3 - 6


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Earth Day Linky Party at Sunny Days in Second Grade

Check out the great Linky Party for Earth Day on Sunny Days in Second Grade! Many teachers have posted the best of the best Earth day activities!


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Haiku and Haiga Poetry and Art

The white and purple crocus are the first to bloom in my New England garden. That's my signal to start Haiku poetry with my students. The little crocus flowers look very fragile, but they're strong enough to poke their heads above wintry snowfalls in March. The images in this packet are my original drawings and photos. Websites are given so that students have a visual of modern day Haiku and Haiga.  Instructions are given. These make lovely class displays to welcome spring. Click on the image to download this free lesson.

haiga, poetry, student worksheet, poems, ruth s, nature,

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


If you're looking for a wide range of great teaching ideas, incredible lessons, ready to print worksheets and creative teaching tips for grades K-12, stop by Connect-A-Blog! Get to know the teacher/authors by clicking on their individual author pages where you can learn about the various backgrounds of these dedicated educators.

This warm welcoming site, is advertising free and offers visitors, from around the world, a variety of classroom tested, clever, creative ideas for those wanting to enhance and enrich their students' learning experiences.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Spring Time Poetry Fun!

Testing, testing, testing!! Is it over? If so, have some spring time fun with your students! These 27 poetry activity cards are a relaxing way to encourage them to put their thinking caps on and to write great poetry!  Each card has an example of a type of poem and explanation of how to write it.

Not only are traditional forms of poems included, but you'll also motivate your athletes to write sports' poems, your scientifically minded kids to write invention poems and your grammar gurus, parts of speech poems! Fun!

Click on the cover of my packet for more details. 
Thanks for stopping by!

photo of poetry cards pdf poetry fun Teacher Park

Here's one example...

Monday, March 12, 2012

Marlis Day's Gypsy and the Skunk

An author who can "walk a mile in her dog's shoes"and get inside her dog's head is Marlis Day.
Marlis tells the true story of a recent late night encounter that she and her dog Gypsy had with  "Pepe Le Pew" AKA skunk! What's quite interesting is that she tells the story from Gypsy's perspective!

 Gypsy, a Jack Russell terrier, an energetic hunter by breed, picked up the scent of a varmint in her territory, thus began the story of "My Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Night" by Gypsy Rose Day. (Love this play on words of Judith Viorst's "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day!)

What a great lesson! Have kids write stories from an animal's point-of-view! 

Here's Gypsy BEFORE her encounter. 
You don't want to see the AFTER picture!

CLICK ON Gypsy to read the entire "AROMATIC" story!

For those of you who remember Pepe Le Pew... 
Watch the encounter of him with this pooch 
and think 
poor Gypsy!!

Marlis is the author of the intriguing Margo Brown mystery series, the Secret of Bailey's Chase, Back to Bailey's Chase, and more.... all for middle grade kids.