As a one to one iPad teacher, I am always looking for great apps and sites for my students to learn while using them. Especially ones that are free! When I came across Lalilo I knew that it would be perfect for my young learners. It is an innovative, visually engaging, standards-aligned literacy software program for K-2 students and teachers. They support literacy learning and instruction through interactive exercises with extensive data tracking and planning tools for teachers. Sounds amazing, right?! Read on to learn more!
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
In my first grade classroom, literacy instruction is one of the most important areas we focus on. My young students are developing critical reading skills. It is my job as their teacher to deliver the best instruction that I can.
As a first grade teacher, one of my most important jobs is to foster a love for books. Opinions on how my students enjoy reading, and how they see themselves as a reader are formed so early. It is my obligation to start them out on the right foot with school. That is why I love "hooking" my students onto a chapter book series!
My students have at least fifteen minutes to read every day.
Every single day.
It's a non-negotiable in my book.
They book shop for books. I help them pick out books. But they get to a point in the year where they want more.
Around December, I start reading the Mercy Watson series.
That begins a wonderful discussion on book characters. Following book characters.
Better understanding them. Noticing their relationships.
Retelling their adventures. Rereading to understand the details better.
Learning important lessons. Predicting and wondering what each story will teach them. Then, comparing and contrasting the books.
Examining their character traits. Changing their voices to show the character's feelings.
Reflecting on stories they have read. Learning lessons from books by comparing.
We both win. They develop a love for reading. I know that they are learning important skills.
Starting this love doesn't always happen right after I finish a chapter book series.
I just need one student. One student to hook on and take off. One student to make a goal of reading an entire book series.
Then..everyone wants in.
I make my students lists so that they can follow along with their goal.
They put the list in a page protector. They tell me a summary of the book when they are finished, and then cross it off with a Mr. Sketch marker.
If the book series is picked correctly, they can easily finish one a day. Which means that finishing an entire list is absolutely doable.
My students are always asking for new lists, and I am also always seeking out new book series.
So, I decided to compile it all into one resource.
At this moment, I have over forty book series lists with levels from E-S. I'm excited to keep adding more and more.
As a reading workshop teacher, my kids are independently and partner reading for at least 30 minutes during our day. I confer with them weekly and conduct small groups when needed. My kids do a great job of tracking their reading with our tracking sheets. Sometimes they need something else though. Something to keep them accountable and for them to process their thinking. That is where I came up with our reading response journals!
I follow Teachers College framework for reader's workshop. For my first graders, our daily reading schedule usually looks like this:
15 minute Mini Lesson
30 minute Independent and Partner Reading (I conduct conferences and small groups)
5 - 10 minute Closing
As you can see, the majority of this block has kids on their own.
That can be tough if a student doesn't have a conference or group that day.
This can cause them to lack focus while reading. Which causes them to not work on the strategy taught in the mini lesson, or other strategies. Which makes the independent reading time much less effective.
Insert the reading response journal!
I thought about how I could make this time more meaningful, while still being able to do what I needed to do during the time.
My solution was to create a reading response journal.
I wanted it to be simple enough that they could complete it independently. I wanted it to be easily adaptable to fiction / nonfiction and various types of books. I wanted it to be easily differentiated among young students - where some are still drawing pictures and others are writing paragraphs.
I created two versions. One for my lower students and one for my higher ones. I printed out the journals, used the comb binder, and handed them out.
You would have thought it was Christmas!
The kids were so excited to have a journal of their own. Some, obviously, more than others.
I decided to make it optional.
I told my kids that when they had five pages completed they could come to me to get it checked at the end of writer's workshop time.
I simply put stars at the top and let them pick one thing from the treasure box.
My kids started completing page after page after page. And - completing it well! Not just doing it to be done.
I had several kids finish the journal quickly - and wanted a new one!
So, from here on out, my reader's workshop will always include reading response journals. If you would like to add them to yours - click the picture below to check out more about them!
Do you have something similar in your classroom? I would love to hear about it!
Transitions are tough. Transitions in the classroom can be tough. Transitions at home can be tough. Something that I have found that helps with this are social stories. Creating social stories can be extremely simple - and can have a big benefit. Read on to learn how I create social stories for both my kids at school and my kids at home.
Have you ever read a picture book to a child? Are they engaged? Do they connect to the pictures? Do they talk about what is going on?
Imagine if they had something like that to help them better understand something. How to react in a situation. What exactly is going to happen and what order it is going to happen in.
This is where social stories come to play in a perfect way.
In my classroom I have created social stories for a number of things. From what to do in a fire drill or how to unpack when coming into school to how to make a friend or what to do when you get upset. I have created super simple ones revolving around not picking your nose or not sucking your thumb. Basically, you could create a social story for everything.
Social stories are combination of language, routines, and expectations that provide personal perspective on social situations. They guide children through a situation and help them to be prepared and less anxious about it.
I have had great success with social stories at school. That is why when something came up with my own child, I knew a social story would be the perfect answer.
When our son Dean was born, our other son Leo's sleeping was totally disrupted. He stopped sleeping through the night, wouldn't go to bed without being rocked (which basically took an hour each night) and was so scared for us to leave him. Combine that with a newborn, and my husband and I were burnt out.
We needed to make a change - but I wanted Leo to feel more comfortable. I didn't want the change to just - bam - happen one night and he had to get over it and roll with the punches.
So, I made him a social story.
I called it Leo's Night Night Book. I took pictures of his bedtime routine (the one we were hoping to achieve) and wrote very simple sentence to accompany them. I tried to keep it very simple. Something his two year old self would understand. I wanted him to connect with it, understand what was happening, and actually visually see himself doing it.
Here is just a *peak* into it -
A few days before we wanted to implement the change, we started reading his book. He was genuinely SO excited about it. We read it during the day. I left it out for him to see. We also read it at night as I was trying to go through his routine.
The big day finally came and I felt much better about it. I know that Leo did too. I'm not going to lie and say there weren't any tears. There were. But they lasted about two minutes. And then he went to bed. By himself. And my husband were in awe and so proud of him for being brave.
I'm happy to say that he is back to his great sleeping habits despite our setback with Dean being born. I do know that I can easily pull his Night Night book back out (we keep it with the rest of his books) and go through it should that change.
Ready to try your own social story?
Think about a transition, behavior, routine, social situation, etc that one (or all) of your students (or children) need help with.
You can do what I did and create a book - or you can simply right it out on a list (see my picture above.) There is a huge variety of ways you could create one.
After you create your story, read it with the child. Take a moment to be fully invested in what you are doing with them and show them that you care and you are there to help them.
Keep it out while you are going through the situation. Use it for as long as you need.
Need some help getting started with one? Click below to download a template.
Good luck! I would love to know what social story you wrote and how it went!
Calling all busy moms (and dads! and adults without kids!) Working or not, we have very little time to ourselves and the household we are trying to run. The only way to survive is to be organized. Read on to learn my top five tips that have helped me to stay on top (and dare I say ahead?) of my game!
*This post may contain affiliate shopping links for your convenience.
"A Sunday well spent brings a week of content." #TrueStory, right? I have a Sunday routine of planning my week out that helps me to be my most successful self.
First, I fill out my dry erase board. I used my silhouette to create three rows for each day of the week. In the first set of rows I write if we have any obligations other than work. In the second set of rows, I write my workout plan. In the third set of rows I write our dinner plans.
The best part? Crossing each day off as I accomplish it.
It is so much easier for me to workout when I know there is only a certain time to fit it in. Also, we avoid the usual 8:00 pm "I'm starving" argument when we know what we are eating for dinner.
As a working mom who formerly spent a great deal of time on my fitness, it is important for me to semi keep it up. I add in my workout plan to my board, but I have also made myself a weekly checklist.
Have you ever used a reward chart with kids? Well, why not use one with yourself?
I put a star on the days that I accomplish what I set out to do. I use this for my fitness, but you could use this for anything that matters in your life! Click the picture below to download one (and four other ones with different quotes!)
As a teacher mama, staying organized at school is key to me being able to work within my 40 hour work week. Let's be real, teachers usually put in WAY more hours beyond their contract. I am doing my best to stick to mine so I spend as much time as possible home with my little man.
The one tool that truly helps with this is my checklist notebook. I have to use my planning periods wisely (and not spend the 30 minutes gossiping...) so I have figured out what I need to do each day in order to get everything done for the week.
It is possible to get your work done during the week and still be a great teacher.
You just need to be organized.
(I'm not claiming I don't always work a 40 hour week and get all of my work done at school. #LetsBeReal)
The book that I write in is below. I created it with a mix of checklists from Schroeders Shenanigans in 2nd TpT store. I LOVE crossing things off my list.
If you want to make more of a checklist for your home life, I found this great magnetic chart on Amazon that you can fill in.
I am always looking for shortcuts that could save me minutes. Minutes can add up to hours, right?!
One small thing I did at school was buy another charger cord. That way I could leave my cord at school each night and not have to pack/repack it. I also pack all of my lunches on Sundays and leave my coffee cup with sugar and my K-Cup out each night when I'm doing the dishes.
Another area that I have learned to take a shortcut from has to do with my hair!
Leaving Leo at home to go work is hard. I have to remind myself of the things I get to do while working that I do not do while at home. Sounds silly, but one of those things is actually blow drying my hair! It is nice to wear it down and not get pulled...
Having a great hairdryer is key to this. I did my research and I saw SO many people loving the BayBliss Pro and talking about how it not only dries your hair quickly, but takes good care of it. I am happy to say that they were right. It is speedy and my hair looks great.
Who has watched the minutes tick by as you stand in front of your closet trying to figure out what to wear? Or, tried on an outfit only to rip it off and create a huge mess? I've solved that with a simple clothes organizer!
Every Sunday I plan out my outfits for the week. It is usually when I am putting away my laundry. I look at the weather and think about what activities I have each day. There are days where I change the outfit, but honestly that doesn't happen often. I love knowing what I am wearing each day and it makes my morning routine go by even faster.
I suggest a clothing hanger like the one below. Six shelves works well! I either plan outfits for the weekend, or use the sixth shelf to put my socks and everything else I need for the week. You can click the picture to be taken to it.
Want to add the pretty labels like I did? Just click the picture below to print them! I laminated mine and then just used fun tape to hang them.
Click to download!
I hope you gained some helpful hints! What organization tips work for you?
I received this product for free to provide an honest review. All opinions expressed within this post are genuine and impartial.
Have you heard of LulaRoe before? I had, but did not quite understand how I could get my hands on these clothes. I heard that they had the best "buttery soft" leggings in tons of different prints. I had also heard that teachers LOVED teaching in them. When my college roommate Ali decided to become a LuLaRoe Consultant I was so excited to give the clothes a try!
In my opinion, teachers should get to wear comfy clothes that are easy to move around in to school. We rarely sit down, work with students on the floor, and bend down to pick things up while managing a class of 20+ students. This is best done in workout clothes, but those would not be acceptable. The next best thing? LuLaRoe!
Ali sent me leggings and a Classic T to try out. The leggings were just as soft and comfortable as I had heard. Even though they were "one size fits all" they fit me perfectly. I LOVED the print. In fact, they are called Disney's Small World! How perfect for a Disney lover?! I could see them being perfect in both the summer and winter and easily dressed up for wearing to school. The best part was how well they flattered my "post baby" legs. No dimples showed through! ;)
Just like the awesome leggings, I loved the Classic T. They have a large variety of tops to pick from, and even some dresses, skirts and kids clothes. The Classic T is perfect for a teacher. Easy to dress up for school, but also easy to throw on for the weekend. I am wearing an XXS here - and trust me I am not currently an XXS. The clothes traditionally run big...and I can't help but love what the tag says!
Want to try out LuLaRoe for yourself? You do not have to go through and search for a local consultant in your area. Ali has a Facebook group where she posts all of her inventory. You can join her group and shop from there. She gets new inventory every week for you to shop from. You look at her albums, decide what you want, and she ships it to you. How easy is that?!
Now for the fun part, I am hosting a giveaway where you can win your own pair of leggings! Want to enter? Just join Ali's Facebook page. The giveaway will end next Saturday, September 3rd at Midnight EST!
As a 1:1 iPad teacher I am constantly looking for great apps. They can be hard to come by because there are literally thousands upon thousands out there. When Josh Wilson from The Happy Dandelion reached out to me to see if my students wanted to try some of their interactive storytelling apps, I excitedly said yes!
I received this product for free to provide an honest review. All opinions expressed within this post are genuine and impartial.
Each of the four apps were interactive storytelling apps. This means the app is a picture book, but the user can interact with it. Each time my students and I opened the apps, we found new ways to interact.
As a teacher, I appreciated that my young students were able to touch the words on the pages to hear the story read aloud. They could read along with the narrator and be exposed to words they might not have in books they are reading at an independent level.
I also appreciated how each of the apps had several learning opportunities to them. There are clear social-emotional messages along with fun facts for the students to learn.
My students were beyond impressed with the illustrations and sounds in the app. They were engaging and brought the readers in. They didn't even realize all the skills they were working on.
We used the apps in a variety of ways. We read and listened as a class during our read aloud time, students used the apps independently during their reading time, and I looked at the apps with a small group of students.
Another perk? The apps have no in-app purchases, advertising, external links, or access to social media. Perfect for the classroom!
The Boy Who Liked Pink and The Girl Who Liked Blue
The Boy Who Liked Pink and The Girl Who Liked Blue is perfect for today's discussions of gender stereotypes. The interactive app has you follow a conversation between a boy and girl. They both give reasons and opinions as to why they prefer one color over the other. In the end, they realize they have more in common than they think. This app is perfect for teaching that kids can be whatever they want to be.
A to Sea is an alphabet book with GORGEOUS illustrations that come to life. The animals included for each letter are unique and interesting to both kids and adults. Each page comes with a fun hidden fact that you can choose to reveal or not. My students were mesmerized by this one. It was perfect for our read aloud and led to great discussions.
The UnStealer once again combines beautiful illustrations with a positive message for students. The UnStealer is a thief who steals the "un" from descriptive words which helps to turn a negative situation into a positive one.
My students loved the part of the book where the UnStealer helps Chompy the dog. "Chompy was quite an unfriendly dog and he was untrained too." The UnStealer comes to steal the "un" away and Chompy turns into a dog who is kind to the mailman and rescues cats! It took a bit for my students to understand what the UnStealer was doing, but once they did they connected with it.
Little Lamb in Amsterdam
Little Lamb in Amsterdam is about a lamb exploring the Netherlands. Little Lamb lives on a farm in a small village. She is curious what is outside her gate, so she decides to go explore. She hops on her purple bike, puts on her pink helmet, and sets off. The app takes the reader on Little Lamb's adventure. Each page includes hidden facts about The Netherlands. Little Lamb explores far and wide, but ultimately decides to return home to her family. This app had a sweet message for my young students, but included so much more rich information for the older students.
Have you checked out any of The Happy Dandelion's apps? I would love to hear what you think!