Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Some of my favorite TpT products

Hey all! I've been hard at work during my first week of summer vacation painting shelves for my classroom and creating a super cool banner that I'll share when finished, but I thought I would check in and share a few awesome products I've discovered from Teachers Pay Teachers that other primary teachers might want a heads up about. Here are my top 5:

1. Junie B. Jones Aloha-ha-ha Literacy Activities by Leslie Ann

Scholastic Book Clubs had Junie B., First Grader Aloha-ha-ha on sale for only $1 so I bought a class set for the last week of school. I printed out Leslie's awesome activity pages and had them bound into a booklet for each student with a blank cover. As we read the book together the students would pause at the end of a couple chapters to fill out the corresponding pages. Considering it was the last week of school (think Field Day, Awards Day, packing up for the summer...) the kids did an AMAZING job staying focused. After they finished the book they completed the word search and then drew a new cover on the front of their (up until then) blank activity book.

If you haven't read much Junie B., I highly suggest you do! I swap reading with the kids (I'll read a page, then call on a student to read) and they fell in love with Hawaii and Junie B. this week. Several of them wanted to borrow another Junie B. book to read at home! She's a hoot!

2. Deanna Jump's Interactive Reading Journal
Even though Virginia is not Common Core aligned, this resource was invaluable to me throughout the year when I needed quick assessments of how well my kiddos were understanding reading concepts. The year had already begun when I found her products so I didn't have the kids start their own journals. Instead I had the kids glue the foldables onto construction paper so they could be hung in the hallway when complete. By the end of the year they were professionals with the cutting and folding techniques. It was also a gem to have when I was out with foot surgery and wasn't able to come back as soon as I had intended... The copies were already made so my sub could simply pull a themed book and the students could tell/show me what they'd learned. SO EASY!!

3. An awesome math center (that received LOTS of attention throughout the year) were the Balancing Act Task Cards from The Puzzle Den.
A parent volunteer cut these out for me (so sweet!) and my kids, at any and all opportunity they had, worked on balancing equations in their spare time. Number sentences were a difficult concept for many of my babes this year, but by seeing the numbers come alive they quickly began to understand how to balance equations and find missing addends. This product literally taught my math unit for me ;-).

4. My kids adored this Mystery Mini Unit by the fabulous Amy Lemons.
It can be used with any book, so I used it to introduce A-Z mysteries for my budding chapter-book lovers. Each student was given a copy of The Castle Crime by Ron Roy during our Dr. Seuss Day celebrations, so each student followed along. I created detective notebooks for each student (half-sheet sized, 6-ish pages) using her templates and the kids made a list of suspects, clues, and solid evidence as we read the book together. My kiddos thought this was SO much fun... they were begging to read another A-Z mystery afterward. Luckily I have the whole set!

5. Luckey Frog created an awesome Fluency Folder that I found near the end of the year.
I printed out the entire thing for myself, and then a few pages to put in each student's individual folder as we practiced and graphed and learned in-depth about good reading over the last 6 weeks of school. I timed each student on Monday reading a passage of my choice (I used a passage from Harcourt Storytown leveled-readers) for one minute, and then they took a copy home to practice reading to/with a parent each night. On Friday, they would read me the passage again and I would brag about how much they had improved (and yes, it's true!) It was also a great example for my one little, uh (what's the sweet word for 'slacker'?) munchkin who didn't feel homework was necessary. When he saw everyone else's graph jump by 30+ words each week and his grew by only 5, he quickly understood the need to practice reading to become a better reader. I think his mom saw it, too.

So there you have it. I bought and sold a LOT of stuff this year, but those are a few quick products that can quickly make a HUGE difference in the classroom without a lot of prep. My best seller continues to be my Fantastic Mr. Fox (by Roald Dahl) book study, with my Cookie Erosion Experiment a close second.