Sunday, April 20, 2014

Dandelions by Eve Bunting {A Must Read Mentor Text for Westward Expansion and much more!}





Hey there!  Happy Easter!

I'm here today to share a text that is fabulous for Social Studies, but also fantastic for making inferences!!  I thought for sure I had shared this text before, but I couldn't find it so I MUST share it now!!
My must read for this week is Dandelions by Eve Bunting.  If you've read our blog at all, you know we love Eve Bunting!  She is a fantastic author who creates work that students can make inferences about. The books are also great mentor texts for author's craft in writing.  Plus, she writes historical fiction, so it can be integrated!  So, of course we love her!
First off, the illustrations by Greg Shed are gorgeous!!
Here is the synopsis from Amazon:Embarking on a new life, Zoe and her family journey west to the Nebraska Territory in the 1800s.  When Zoe and her family arrive at their claim, nothing distinguishes it from the miles and miles of surrounding prairie. Even after they build their soddie, the home can't be seen from any distance. Zoe has never seen Papa so happy or Mama so sad. But when she takes a trip to the small prairie town with Papa, Zoe sees something that might make a difference to their new soddie, and to Mama's life, too.

Beware, it's a very sweet story but it also makes you feel very sad.  Throughout the story, the reader is making inferences on how the narrator's mom feels about moving west, and she is mostly very sad.  The little girl is constantly trying to make her mama happy.  It's just so sweet, and it gives the reader a good idea of what it might have been like to move west.

They endure the trail west, see nothing but prairie for miles, and find their claim in Nebraska.  Nothing looks different, it's just endless prairie.  They make a soddie, a house made of sod, that blends into the rest of the prairie.  Zoe's mom is constantly worried that the girls will get lost and not be able to find their way home because everything looks the same.  Their nearest neighbors are 3 hours away and there is no water.  It explains how they build their soddie, dig a well, and how they plant their first seeds and just how much work it really was, even for the kids!

Here's a picture of the soddie.  It tells in the book that while they were eating dinner at the neighbor's (it's their soddie) chunks of sod fell on the table.  Then, two black beetles fell.  It's details like this that you just don't think about!

Spoiler Alert!!!  If you don't want to know what happens, skip this paragraph and the picture!  When Zoe, the little girl, goes to the prairie town, she sees a patch of dandelions on the side of the road.  She asks her papa to dig them up because she wants to give them to her mom for a birthday gift.  And, her idea is to plant the dandelions on the roof of the house so that her mama will never have to worry again about where their house is.  Isn't that the sweetest??  There are also many metaphors in the book about the strength of the dandelions and the strength of the family.  Such a sweet book!!
This is the last page of the book.  (Sorry for the horrible picture- I have yet to figure out how to take pictures of a book without it being crooked!!)  I'm inferring that this is what their soddie looked like after the dandelions spread.

So, I strongly recommend this book.  Not just if you teach Westward Expansion.  If you teach Language Arts, it's a great book for inferring.  Truly.  So much so, that I made a unit to go with it two years ago!

Also, I'm very excited to share that I FINALLY finished the Westward Expansion articles that I have been working on for two weeks!!!  Wahoo!!!  We are going to use these in our Social Studies interactive journals for our unit that starts on Wednesday!!  These articles are based on what we need to teach in 4th grade in GA.  However, they would be great for nonfiction close reading, even if you don't teach this, plus you can use them to differentiate in grades 4-6!  The vocabulary makes it challenging for 4th graders, which is why we do it together, but if you teach a higher grade, this could possibly be done independently.
There are interactive notebook activities and flipbooks with each article (just like our American Revolution Articles).
As well as questions for each article.
Stacia started using them on Friday, and this is what her students' journal looks like.  They highlighted key information in the article that helped them fill out the flipbook about causes and effects of the Louisiana Purchase.
Oh, and if you can use these nonfiction articles for your Westward Expansion unit, you can check them out in our TpT Store.  Or...you can pin it to win it!!  Yep, you got it!!  You have the chance to win them!!

Here is the pin:  http://www.pinterest.com/pin/515451119824167837/

Click on the pin and repin it.  Then, copy the URL of your pin and paste it in the comments.  Also, leave your email address so if you win, I know where to send it!  I'll choose two winners!!  

I hope you try out Dandelions!  It's such a great book!!  Also, since I totally messed up the link up this month, we still have the 4th Sunday next week.  I thought we could do favorite spring books or favorite end of the year books.  Basically anything you want for any subject!!!  :O)

Also, I'm thinking we will probably stop doing the Must Read Mentor Text Linky over the summer.  May will be our last month and then we MIGHT start it back in August or we may not...we just aren't sure.  However, we will continue to share wonderful books we have found, even if we don't have a link up.  :O)

Have a wonderful Easter!

Next week's linky- Favorite Spring or End of the Year Books

Sunday, April 13, 2014

What if you had Animal Teeth? {Must Read Science Mentor Text}



Hey there!

So, I messed up last week!  I didn't realize that March had 5 Sundays and we just kept moving right along!   So, now, it's the 2nd Sunday of the month and we are linking up Science.  We'll have to make it up to you somehow when we get to the last Sunday of the month.

So, today we are talking about must reads for science!!
I have a really fun book that I want to tell you about!!
I found this book at the Scholastic book fair last year!  It's called What if you had Animal Teeth? by Sandra Markle.  I am super excited to use it when we talk about adaptations in science!  I'm sorry I can't show it in use, but I plan on using it and THEN I can show you what we did with it!

Here is the Amazon synopsis:  WHAT IF YOU HAD ANIMAL TEETH? takes children on a fun, informative, and imaginative journey as they explore what it would be like if their own front teeth were replaced by those of a different animal. Featuring a dozen animals (beaver, great white shark, narwhal, elephant, rattlesnake, naked mole rat, hippopotamus, crocodile, and more), this book explores how different teeth are especially adapted for an animal's survival. At the end of the book, children will discover why their own teeth are just right for them. And they'll also get a friendly reminder to take good care of their teeth, because they're the only teeth they'll ever have. Each spread features a photograph of the animal using its specialized teeth on the left and a humorous illustrated image of a child using that animal's teeth on the right.

I'm also going to pair it with this nonfiction book:
I think this is a great way to show two informational texts about the same topic.  I love using books like What if you had Animal Teeth? to show students how THEY can write their own nonfiction or informational texts!!

Here are some adorable pages from What if you had Animal Teeth?
How adorable are these pictures?  I love that they make kids think about what it would be like to have different teeth!  It definitely lends itself to why specific animals have specific adaptations!

I plan to use this fun book along with the Teeth book by Sneed B. Collard to learn even more about teeth.  And, not that Collard's book is boring, but I think What if you had Animal Teeth? might capture their attention a little more as we talk about adaptations.  What do you think?

And, our friend Nick from Sweet Rhyme, Pure Reason has a scoot game that we are going to be using this week about ecosystems and biomes that work perfectly with this unit!  In case you missed it, his product is also in this bundle that we have two products in- an Educents science bundle!!  It is a fantastic deal!

For a limited time it is $10.99 from Educents which is about 65% off!  It also includes these other great products so there is sure to things you love!  

And if you have never purchased from Educents before.. they always have a great deal for your first purchase.  Click HERE if you are a first time purchaser to take advantage of a special offer just for you!   

I hope you have a great week next week!  Today is our last day of spring break and then 2 weeks until state testing.  Ugh!!  We are going to hit the ground running!

Next week's linky- Social Studies

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Moon Book {A Great Science Mentor Text with Lesson Activities}



Hi, Friends!

I wanted to share a great science text with you and some activities to go with it. As we prepare for our state testing in a couple weeks, I have been reviewing with my students. One of the topics that we covered earlier in the year was the moon. There is a great book by Gail Gibbons that is perfect for reviewing.


The first thing I did was have the students paste in some graphic organizers. Then, I started reading the book aloud. I stopped at different points so that the students could fill in their graphic organizers. 



We did a Venn Diagram, a cloze activity, and labeled features of the moon. Next up, we will draw the phases of the moon!

I have linked up with Jivey for her Workshop Wednesday! This is a fabulous Science Mentor Text that can be used to integrate Science into Language Arts. Check out all of her ideas and other great books!


This Moon Product is available in an AWESOME science bundle on Educents right now!
Some friends and I have teamed up with Educents for an amazing bundle of instant downloads for you!

You could buy this by itself, but, even better, you can get it as part of this Educents bundle along with so many excellent resources that I'm also using!  For a limited time it is $10.99 from Educents which is about 65% off!  It also includes these other great products so there is sure to things you love!  


And if you have never purchased from Educents before.. they always have a great deal for your first purchase.  Click HERE if you are a first time purchaser to take advantage of a special offer just for you!   

You can also take peek at some of the other products included in the bundle at any of the links below!  Just click the link!


Thanks for visiting!  Happy Wednesday!  :)



Sunday, April 6, 2014

Room for Ripley- Teaching Measurement with Capacity {Must Read Mentor Text}




Hey there!

I'm here again for another edition of Must Read Mentor Texts for Math!

{First off, I want to say Hip-hip- HOORAY for being on Spring Break this upcoming week!!}  

I'm way behind in my math instruction and our state testing is 2 weeks after we get back from break.  I'm a wee bit stressed because I have so much I still have to get through in math!!  But, this is when a great mentor text comes in handy!

I want to share Room for Ripley with you!
This book is a great way to introduce capacity.  Carlos wants to get a guppy and he has to figure out how much water to put in his fish bowl!
I haven't gotten to measurement with capacity yet, but when I do, I'll get out all of our measurement materials and we'll work with Carlos right along with the book!  The kids have a great time measuring everything out!!

Also, I'm sure you've seen this awesome visual for remembering the conversions to capacity.  I think this is a great way for students to remember!

This one visual graphic shows how everything converts!!  2 cups make a pint, 2 pints make a quart, 4 quarts make a gallon!  It also shows that 16 cups make a gallon, 8 pints make a gallon, etc!!  It's awesome!!  You can click the picture to get your own printable of this if you'd like!!

Also, in case you missed it yesterday, we have two products in an Educents science bundle!!  It is a fantastic deal!

For a limited time it is $10.99 from Educents which is about 65% off!  It also includes these other great products so there is sure to things you love!  

And if you have never purchased from Educents before.. they always have a great deal for your first purchase.  Click HERE if you are a first time purchaser to take advantage of a special offer just for you!   

I can't wait to see what you link up today!

Next week's linky- Science

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Science Galore!!! All you'll need for sparking motivation in science!!



Hey there!

We are sooooo excited to be sharing some amazing science resources with you that will help you in your science instruction and we know they'll spark student motivation!!!  That's why we are linking this up to Joanne's linky!
Science is just so fun to teach. I hope you share the love! Some friends and I have teamed up with Educents for an amazing bundle of instant downloads for you!


Here is one of our products in the bundle that I want to tell you about today!  Our Solar System Book for students!  We taught the solar system in the first nine weeks of the year and we are in review for test mode now!  I am using this book to review with my students!  We have done a little bit of it for homework and some in class.  It's a great way to review if you need it or you can use it for your instruction!  It has it all!

I was honestly surprised at how excited my students were about doing this book for homework!  The first night they were super psyched and then they ASKED (yes asked!) to do more!!  Sounds good to me!

We have done several of the planet pages.
And we did the seasons page in class and then checked it together!
And, if you need it to actually teach from, you totally can!  Print and go and that's all you need!

We are also reviewing some of the videos that we watched during our unit!  Check these out!

This first one cracks us up because all of the planets wave!!  And check out Venus!!!  My fourth graders know it's kind of silly but they still beg to watch it so they can wave at the planets (yes, 4th graders!)!

Here's another!


And one more!

You could buy this by itself, but, even better, you can get it as part of this Educents bundle along with so many excellent resources that I'm also using!  For a limited time it is $10.99 from Educents which is about 65% off!  It also includes these other great products so there is sure to things you love!  


And if you have never purchased from Educents before.. they always have a great deal for your first purchase.  Click HERE if you are a first time purchaser to take advantage of a special offer just for you!   


You can also take peek at some of the other products included in the bundle at any of the links below!  Just click the link!


Thanks for stopping in!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother {Must Read Mentor Text for Language Arts}




Hey y'all!

I have a Must Read Mentor Text to share for Language Arts. It's by one of my favorite authors, Patricia Polacco. :)


My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother Summary from Amazon.com: 
"Featuring an obnoxious, freckle-faced, bespectacled boy and a comforting, tale-telling grandmother, this autobiographical story is as satisfying as a warm slice of apple pie. Patricia can't quite understand how anyone could possibly like her older brother Richard. Whether picking blackberries or eating raw rhubarb, he always manages to outdo her, rubbing it in with one of his "extra-rotten, weasel-eyed, greeny-toothed grins." When their Bubbie teaches Patricia to wish on a falling star, she knows just what to ask for. The next day her wish comes true; although dizzy, she remains on the carnival merry-go-round longer than Richard. Her nemesis turns into her hero, however, when she takes a spill and he carries her home. This warmhearted look at a typical family relationship will strike a familiar chord with siblings of all ages."

I love reading this story to my students. Even if they have heard it before, they always get excited to listen again. The touching book seems to connect with all of us.  :)


The illustration above is priceless! The little sister is determined to beat her older brother, and he relishes in watching her try. 

I used this book with my class this week as we learned about point of view. We pasted in flip flap graphic organizers from our Spring Interactive Notebook Flip Books Pack. We discussed what 1st and 3rd person point of view were, and wrote examples under the flaps. The kids loved the little chicks!


We also reviewed literary elements with the story. We talked about characters, setting (which a lot of students always seem to forget!), plot, and theme. Theme is always a tough concept for my kids. But, I was so impressed with what my students came up with. Some examples- "Be careful what you wish for." "Always take care of your siblings." "You don't have to prove yourself to others." "Everyone is different." "Siblings care about each other, even if they don't show it."

We pasted in another flip book to record the literary elements.


This book also tied in perfectly with our personal narrative unit. We analyzed the author's language and word choice. The students loved how she used similes in her story: "Then an inspired thought comforted me like a fresh breeze on a hot summer day." They also loved her adjectives. Here is one of my favorite sentences: "Richard gave me one of his extra-rotten, weasel-eyed, greeny-toothed grins." I just love the description of his smile. Can't you just see it?!  :) I tried to make the smile for my class, and they all just started cracking up...

We've been talking about bold beginnings and excellent endings in our writing, and at the end of the book, one of my kids said, "Wow. That's a great ending. I really like it. I wish more books ended like that." Other kids agreed. We talked about what the student meant, and we realized that we all liked it so much because it wrapped everything up, and it left us with such strong emotions of happiness. The conflict in the story was solved, but the competitive relationship between sister and brother still lingered in a friendly way. Awwww...Such AMAZING writing! I just LOVE her! :)

We will use this book next week too as we review parts of speech in Language Arts. It is filled with amazing adjectives, vivid verbs and adverbs. 

I hope this book can become one of your favorites too!

If you would like to see our Spring Interactive Notebook Flip Books that I used with this book, please click here. These flip books work with ANY text! I am actually using them with a Social Studies book about government next week. 

Spring Interactive Notebook Activities and Flip Books for

This would be a great time to buy this set since we are having a Spring Cleaning sale and everything in our TpT store is 20% off this weekend!!

Have a great rest of your weekend, and don't forget to link up!

Next week's linky- Math

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