Happy Holidays!

I hope that everyone else has been having a fabulous holiday!  I have been a bit MIA lately and I apologize- I have had so many things that I would love to share with you all and just haven't been able to find the time.  My 13 year old son is playing basketball and I have been enjoying every minute of watching his games!  
I have a lot of plans for this "break" including tons of housework and some school work.  I am looking forward to a fabulous 2014!  I promise I will be back soon and will be sharing with you a new venture with some amazing other literacy friends:)  Enjoy your time off school with family and friends!

Easily find the BEST font!

It drives me crazy when I just can't find the BEST font!  I have tons of them loaded on my computer but it takes forever to try to find exactly what I want.  
So, lately I have been using WORDMARK.  You can see what all of the fonts actually look like.  You can type in your text to see specifically what it will look like if you want.  Here is a screen shot!
It is awesome!  Give it a try!

The Gift of Reading Blog Hop (over)

Welcome to JD's Rockin' Readers. You have arrived at  


At each blog stop, you will be gathering Reading gifts and freebies.  In each post you will find a picture of a snowman with a letter on it. Collect all of the letters to solve the mystery quote to enter the giveaway. Record all of the letters on your recording sheet and follow each blog along the way so that you can enter the amazing giveaway at the end!

The hop is set up as a loop, so you may start anywhere along the hop, but if you would like to start at the beginning you may go to A Day In The Life of A Title I Teacher's blog.  This is also where you will go after you finish the hop to enter the giveaway!!

I'm glad you're here!  I have a fun freebie for you today.  This is a product that is normally for sale in my store.  But for you I am offering it as a freebie for this special blog hop.  I created Karate Word Master when I was teaching Title I students.  Many of these kiddos had a hard time decoding words.  I created these Karate Kids to help teach them to break apart words- just like the Karate Kids would break a board.  They absolutely loved making their own Karate Kids and doing the activities involved.  I hope you enjoy it!

My secret letter is...

Thank you for stopping by my blog today! I hope that you enjoyed your gift and learned something new. If you would like to be the first to know about new posts, giveaways, and blog hops follow me on Bloglovin' by clicking the image below. 

I am the last stop but if you missed any of the stops 1-21, it's time to head over and find the other snowmen letters and of course the awesome freebies!  If you have visited all of the stops you can head over to  A Day in the Life of a Title I Teacher to enter our amazing giveaway!  Make sure that you have all of the secret letters from the snowman so you can figure our the secret message!    Make sure that you download the recording sheet- it will help you figure out the secret message:) Happy Holidays! 


All About Books!

I just finished my latest product Become and Author:  All About Books.  
Did you know that little 6 year olds can write a REAL non-fiction book with a Table of Contents, Fact pages, Glossary, Diagram, and an About the Author page??

I was VERY nervous about this project.  I really thought I may have way too high expectations for those little 6 year olds.  I was SO wrong!  I gave them a challenge and they accepted my challenge and my highest expectations!
This lesson to write an All About Book took about 3 weeks.  We wrote MUCH of it together but there were parts that allowed them to write information that they learned on their own.
We learned about Bats (and everyone wrote about bats- this time), we made our books, we published our books, and celebrated our accomplishment!  I even received a couple of e-mails from parents about how much they loved their child's All About Bats book.  WOW!!

This product is made so that you can make any All About Book.  It also includes the pages and lesson plans that I created for Bats as an outline.

Here are some pics from one student's book.

This is from one of my average students.  I am so proud of them all!  I have since put made up All About books in Writing Workshop as a choice.  I can't believe how many of them are writing other All About Books (pretty successfully)!

After we wrote, we had a little celebration.  We wrote letters to our Kindergarten reading buddies inviting them to our celebration.  They came over, we shared our books with our buddies, and we enjoyed a chocolate chip cookie.  You can't have a celebration without a cookie, right?

Here is a letter writing freebie that I made last year and we used one of the pages to write our letter!

I am also participating in a giveaway!  Go and check out You Might Be a First Grader's Blog!

You Might Be a First Grader...

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Turkey Trouble Sound Boxes {FREEBIE}

Just a quick post today with a Thanksgiving Freebie!  I  laminate these sound boxes and use them in my  Guided Reading groups.  I use dry erase markers with the kids and use them as letter boxes as well.  This is a great way to differentiate!  

I'm linking up with Manic Monday!!

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday


Kid friendly Google search!

Just a quick post today... Did you know that there is a way for students to do a Google search and get them sorted by reading level??  Yep, and it's easy!

Step 1:  Go to

Step 2:  At the top, there is button that says Search Tools (click on it).

Step 3:  Click on the tab that says All Results and go to Reading Level.

Step 4:  Click on the reading level that you want.  For my first graders, I would click on Basic.

Step 5:  The posts that will come up at the top will be the easiest to read and most kid-friendly. 

I searched Bats and I got websites such as:
Bats for Kids
National Geographic
Animal Discovery

It at least makes research a little easier:)


Our First Writing Workshop Celebration!

I have been MIA for a couple of weeks!  Life is just too busy... I have so many things that I would love to share with you in my new classroom this year but finding the time is difficult.  

Did you ever notice how much your little ones feed off of everything you say??  Not sure if that really makes sense... but this is what I mean:

Day 1 of Writing Workshop I told the kids how much I just LOVE this time of the day.  I went on and on and on.  Now, if we don't do our typical "writing workshop", they are completely broken hearted- It is so cute!  This love for writing workshop has been going well.  We were writing personal narratives (small moment stories)  and then one day- BAM!  It was like writing workshop was just not very fun anymore- so I needed to intervene!

We needed a break from this type of writing and we needed to move on- but first it was time to celebrate!  We Are Authors- every one of us... is what I told them.  I don't think that they really believed me.  UNTIL- I made the sign.  If it's on a sign- it must be true!

Each student got to pick a picture from MelonHeadz cute little kids and then they wrote their name on the chart along with other famous authors like Laura Numeroff, Eric Litwin, and Eric Carle.

And then we made two circles (one boys and one girls) and they got to share their published piece of writing. (We published with a fancy title page).
Each student shared their book and then we had a "toast".  Many of them had never heard of a "toast" before we talked about it.  And now it's in the books- we are all authors over a cup of 7-up!

We are now starting to learn how to write All About Books.  Our first is going to be about Bats!  And now- writing workshop is back in full (excited) swing.  These kids are definitely going to keep me on my toes!


Writing Workshop... A Little of This and a Little of That... and a couple FREEBIES!

I used to HATE teaching writing!  I really felt that I just wasn't any good at it.  Well, many years ago, I had the luxury of having a Literacy Coach in my school and because of her, I learned a lot about teaching writing.  Now- I LOVE it!  I have realized that the biggest part of teaching writing is establishing good routines right from the start and making sure that the kids feel like real Authors and Illustrators.  We have done that- and for the 45 minutes of daily writing workshop we have a nice peaceful classroom.  The best part is- the kids are loving it!

I have missed Writing Workshop over the past 9 years.  This is really one of the main reasons I wanted to get back into the regular classroom!  This blog post all has to do with writing but it's a little of this and that.
On Friday, we sent some time going through our folders.  There have only been a 21 days of school and I already have folders that look like this...

So, we cleaned out.  I had the students take home all of their writing except for their "best" story.  I plan on doing this every Friday (or maybe every other Friday).  

I always worry about sending the students writing home.  I worry that parents are  going to have the students "fix" all of the errors.  I don't want them to do that.  I want them to feel successful as writers, even if they do have a lot to work on.  So, I sent a letter home.  I am sharing it with you.  It is editable so you can change whatever you want.  Also, the font I have used is from Kevin and Amanda.  It is called A Little Pot.  You can download the font for free or change it to whatever font you want.  

Now, you may be wondering... How can you send so many writing samples home?  Don't you need them to do grade cards?  The answer to this question is NO- because of a great website/APP that I found.  I couldn't be more excited right now!  Let me share-  it is called Evernote... and it is going to make my Writing Conferences so easy!

In Evernote, you can make different Notebooks.  I made a notebook for each student.  Then, inside their notebook, you can make notes.  I make a new note every time I conference with a student.  I write the date as the Title.  Then, before conferencing (and fixing up their writing) I take a quick picture of it. It shows up immediately in the note and then I can conference and write down what we talked about.  My plan, is to then be able to quickly and easily look at their writing when I am doing grade cards.  I won't have to take mounds of paperwork home and if they take a story home because they want it- it's no big deal because I have access to it at any time!  And... the best part is, it's a free app!  (They do have a Premium App also but I haven't checked it out enough to know what the difference is).

Here is a screen shot of one of the writing samples.  Sorry, I had to cut off the picture.  As you can see, I made my notes after the picture.

I think the possibilities are endless with this APP and I am really excited to give it a try and see what all I can do with it.
One other freebie I have to share with you today.  I have a Writing Freebie that helps students to remember some of the mechanics of writing.  I have had this as a D'Nealian Font but have had several requests for a Print (ZB) Font.  So, here it is!

I hope you enjoy these freebies!

I'm linking up with Manic Monday over at Classroom Freebies!

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday


Read to Someone- Daily 5 Days 2 and 3

We have been plugging away at learning the procedures of Daily 5.  I feel like we are going at a snails pace, but I also know how important it is to practice, and practice right.

Day 2 of Read to Someone

We reviewed our "I chart" that we made as a class.  

We then introduced two new ways to read.
"I Read, You Read"
"Read Two Different Books"

"I Read, You Read" is when both partners are reading the same book and they basically "echo" read.  The more fluent reader is supposed to read one page and then the partner reads the same page.  Then partner one reads page two, partner two reads page two... and so on.  This is a good way to work on reading fluently.

"Read Two Different Books"  is when partner one reads one page from their book (at their level) and then partner two reads one page from a different book (at their level).  They continue to read this way going back and forth.  **Note:  personally, I don't know how much I really like this type of reading.  Sometimes it is difficult enough for students to follow a single story and comprehend, let alone two different stories.  With that said, I am trusting the expertise of The Sisters and trying it.  I figure, if I don't like it, then it just won't be a choice anymore.  So far, it has been OK from what I have been able to observe.

We are definitely going to have to continue to practice these types of reading.  It has been somewhat difficult for my Firsties to understand exactly what they are supposed to do.  Practice, practice, practice.

Day 3 of Read to Someone

"Let's Make a Deal"- that's what we talked about today... 

I asked them... 
"What happens when you and your partner just cannot agree on what you want to read for the day and how you want to read it?"

I told them that they have to "Make a Deal" and I encouraged some of the students who always think they have to go first to be the one to say... "Why don't you go first today."

We practiced all of the ways to Read to Someone...

Check for Understanding
I Read, You Read
Read Two Different Books
(I let them choose)

And then, I even heard a few students say "Let's Make a Deal" (in their whisper voices of course) so at least a couple were listening:)

Are you doing Daily 5?  I would love to hear how it is going:) 

For more Daily 5 posts, check the labels to the right:)

Birthday Bash Winners!

We have winners from our Birthday Bash!  Jennifer W. won the $25 Gift Card to Kohl's Department Store and Irina N. won the $25 Gift Card to Amazon.  Be looking for an e-mail!  Thanks to everyone who entered and "celebrated" our birthday with us!


Read to Someone- Daily 5

We have been working on our stamina for Read to Self.  We are up to 8 minutes.  They are really doing a great job with it!

So, I introduced Read to Someone on Friday.

This is what I did...

 I introduced to them that we would now be learning how to read with someone else.  I told them the story about my friend Amanda who is horribly afraid of spiders and when she sees a spider, she yells EEKK!  I showed them how EEKK will help us read together.  I then used the EEKK poem to help them know how to sit while they are reading with a partner.

Here is a link to the one that I used.

I then had two students model how to sit EEKK.

We then looked at our I chart from Read to Self to see what we would keep the same for Read to Someone.  We had 5 things for the students to be doing.

1. Sit EEKK!
2.  Get started right away.
3.  Read the whole time.
4. Stay in one spot.
5.  Read softly.
6.  Work on stamina.

I had a student model how to use a soft voice and it really wasn't that soft when she did it so we all practiced whispering.  I don't know why, but this can be a very difficult skill.  I would whisper a sentence and then they would whisper it back to me.  

Then, I had a student read a few sentences out of a book to model a whisper voice.  Their partner could hear them but nobody else could.  

Then we learned about Mr. Check In.  I am having the students use it when they finish the entire book. The "listener" is to tell WHO and WHAT the book was about.  Click on the picture to get Mr. Check In.

It took us forever to model today but I know it was a really important part of learning how to read to someone.

Then, we ALL practiced- for 5 minutes.  They did pretty well.  For today, I had the students take turns reading a whole book.  Then, they would use Mr. Check In to check for understanding.  We will practice again on Monday and learn a new way to read to someone!

To see my other posts about Daily 5- you can click on the Daily Five label on the sidebar.

Also, you can still enter my birthday giveaway for a $25 Amazon or a $25 Kohl's Gift Card!  Click HERE!

Zero the Hero Appears on day 10!

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's Zero the Hero!  He arrived in our classroom before school yesterday on the 10th day of school.

One of my co-teachers has had Zero the Hero visit her classroom for a few years now and I decided I wanted to join in on the fun.

So, he flew in and left us all a little treat.

He left us a note letting us know that he would be visiting our classroom every ten days.  We will learn about the numbers that end with a zero, read some books, and play some games.  And he will leave us a special treat in the shape of a zero every 10 days that he visits our classroom.  Yesterday, he left Fruit Loops.

We played a game to see who would be the Zero the Hero of our class and get to wear the Zero the Hero jersey that he left for us.
We stood in a circle and counted backwards from 10 one at a time.  The student that ended up at zero sits down.  Then we do it again- count backward from ten one at a time and whoever ends up with zero sits down- and on and on and on...  We continue around the circle until there is only one child left standing.  They become Zero the Hero for the day and get to wear the  special jersey!  Here is our hero!

Zero the Hero also left us a book to read and a math paper to do during math time.  We learned about the number 10!

We had a great day with all of the goodies that Zero the Hero left us.  Most of the activities came from a packet I purchased by Kreative in Kinder-  Click here to buy the packet:)

I also have some ideas of my own that I would love to create... it's just trying to find the time!  Maybe some day:)

I can't wait to see what he will bring us on day 20!


Daily 5 - Day 2

Day 1 went so well with Read to Self,  I was kind of scared of Day 2... 

Day 2- in a nutshell...

We reviewed Day 1- 
2 ways to read a book: Read the pictures or Read the words.  I really thought they would know this right off the bat but we were back to answers such as "read quietly, stay in one spot... etc."
I really wanted to say... "I'm not ready for that part yet, that will be the answer to my next question." But I didn't... we finally figured it out.

And then,
when I told them that there was one more way we could read our books, I saw some really surprised faces.  It was like, "what, really?  how can there be any more ways to read a book?"  Then I told them. We can also retell a story that we have heard before.  So, then I modeled retelling a book that I had read the day before.  The one that I read to both my class and my co-teacher's class as she attended to the child that dislocated his elbow at recess.  (Yes, we are sometimes health care workers too...).

Here is the poster that I downloaded from Lyndsey from A Year of Many Firsts.

Then we reviewed the I chart from yesterday... all five rules and we again talked about stamina.  Not one of them remembered that strange word... maybe after a week or so we will get it, or maybe not, we will see:)

Then, we (very quietly and carefully) watched each table get their browsing box and find a spot and begin reading our books right away.

***Side note:  Since we don't have many books in their browsing boxes yet, I took their end of year kindergarten guided reading level and put two books into each students box.  These books are two levels behind where they were instructionally at the end of kindergarten.  So, if a student was reading at a level F last spring, I gave them two level D books.  I wanted them to be mostly independent reading books for them.

We practiced reading today for 4 minutes and we made it.  Toward the end I had one student trying to ask another what one of the words in her book was.  I was happy that she was engaged in the reading but I had to reinforce how important it is that we are reading on our own during this time.  I made this comment without anyone knowing who I was talking about when we came back as a group to talk about how it went.

My plan is to try 6 minutes tomorrow.  The 2 Sisters of Daily 5 suggest that you start to add 2-3 minutes a day to build stamina.  I don't know if we will make it that long but that is my goal for tomorrow!

Wish me luck!