Friday, November 29, 2013

How to use a mentor text...

Hey there!!

We are guest posting today over at All Things Upper Elementary!

All Things Upper Elementary
Go over and check out our post about how to use a mentor text.  There may be some freebies over there that you haven't grabbed from our TpT store yet!  :O)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Thank you, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving {A must read mentor text for Social Studies and Thanksgiving}

Hey there!

I'm back!  I'm here to share a Must Read Mentor text for Social Studies that ties in nicely with Thanksgiving!!  :O)

I found this text last year and I was super excited because I felt like it gave a different perspective about Thanksgiving, and went along with persuasion as Sarah Hale convinces the president to keep Thanksgiving as a national holiday!!

Here is the description by Amazon:

"We the people of the United States...
Almost Lost Thanksgiving
Yes. That's right!
Way back when "skirts were long and hats were tall" Americans were forgetting Thanksgiving, and nobody seemed to care!
Thankfully, Sarah Hale appeared. More steadfast than Plymouth Rock, this lady editor knew the holiday needed saving. But would her recipe for rescue ever convince Congress and the presidents?
Join acclaimed author Laurie Halse Anderson on a journey of a woman and a pen that spanned four decades, the Civil War, and five presidents, all so you could have your turkey and eat it too!"

This is a great story of a woman who was persistent and persevered when it seemed everyone was against her!  (PS- the author, Laurie Halse Anderson is a descendant of Sarah Hale!)

Just look at these awesome illustrations!!!

Not only are they eye-catching, but look at all of the discussion that just the illustrations can bring!  First of all, was turkey really served at the first Thanksgiving? (the answer is no!)

Secondly, you've got Pilgrims, Grandma, and football players in the same illustration...and you'll see as you go through the book, there are bits of today in with the past.  It's a great way to engage students in analyzing what is truth in the illustrations and story and what may be the author's additions to make the story more interesting.  (What makes it historical fiction!)

I love using these kinds of mentor texts to help with students' writing!  This is a fun, interesting, and charming story and the author's craft is one that would be perfect for students to model their own writing after.  (You know I love my integration!)

This is a great way to show how Sarah wrote persuasive letters AND to discuss how it became a national holiday!  I also found more resources HERE at  There is a link there to the actual letter that Sarah Hale wrote to President Abraham Lincoln- what a great way to integrate a primary source!!!  And, you can discuss the language and tone of the letter along with her vocabulary!  It's a win-win!!

I hope you'll check out this wonderful book!!

We also have a freebie in our TpT Store that can go with any Thanksgiving story.  

Have a great Thanksgiving to those that celebrate it!

Please Link Up!

Next week's linky- Language Arts

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Fun Thanksgiving Multiplication Practice Freebie for BIG Kids!!

Hey there!

I just whipped up a BINGO board (I'm calling it GOBBLE!) for fun practice with multiplication of 2 digit by 1 digit and 2 digit by 2 digit problems.  I hope that you can use it!!  Head on over to our TpT store to get your FREE download!!  Please leave feedback if you download it!

I'm going to have them work with a partner, each getting their own copy of the board (and their own copy of the problems sheet of course).  They work on their personal board, and mark their products with a tile.  They can play for 6 in a line or four corners, make an X, or even blackout!  It's just fun practice!  ;O)

Have a fabulous Friday!!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

We are thankful for you!! Enter to win up to 3 (yes 3!) $25 TpT gift cards!!!

A bunch of bloggers have joined up to say THANK YOU.  Thank you for following us.  Thank you for your support, encouragement, and friendship.  We have learned so much from you.  

So we wanted to say thank you with a Gift Card Giveaway.  

Simply fill in the rafflecopter below and you have a chance to win one of 3 prizes. 
(You can fill in the rafflecopter on any of our blogs, it's all the same one.) 

3 lucky winners will win a $25 gift card to TPT.  

Good luck!  

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Science Mentor Text and a Freebie- Stars!

Happy Sunday, Friends!

I am excited to share a great Science Mentor Text with you!
It's called Stars by Ker Than, and it's fabulous! My students LOVED reading this book because the illustrations and photographs are so captivating! says "This series explores Earth's solar system as well as galaxies, stars, and other objects in space. Each book reflects the latest research and will teach readers basic scientific principles that aid in understanding the workings of the universe."

A few days ago, I used this book as a "hook" to get my students excited and interested in our new science unit focused on the solar system. It was a great success!  :)  They loved it!

The photographs in this text really capture the students' attention! As soon as I showed the page, I heard lots of "ooooooooooooooo.......wowwwwww......." because the pictures really are breathtaking!

I really like the text features in this book too. The diagram below shows a star's life, and it contains pictures, labels, and arrows. 

I enjoyed reading this book, and my students did as well, but this section about black holes (below) was certainly a favorite! It sparked so much awesome discussion! Did I have all the answers? Of course not! But, it got the students thinking and it made them excited about our solar system unit. It motivated many of them to go research and learn more. I LOVE when that happens!  :)

I hope that this book can be a favorite for your students as well! 

After I read this book, I decided to create a simple graphic organizer that could be used with any informational text. My kids learned so much from this book, and they had so many great questions that I wish I had recorded their thinking. I usually use sticky notes to record our thinking (which I love!) but I wanted another way to share their learning. I plan to use this graphic organizer for read alouds, but also for independent reading. It will be an easy way for me to see what they have learned, and it will be an easy way for them to share their learning with other students.  

If you would like this FREEBIE, just click here to download it from our TPT store. 

Thanks so much for stopping by today, and don't forget to link up your science mentor texts! I can't wait to add some new books to my wish list!

Have a wonderful Sunday, 
Stacia  :)
Please Link Up!

Next week's linky- Social Studies

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Free, Online, Newsletter Tool For You To Create Newsletters- {Tried It Tuesday}

Hey there!

I'm fiiiiiiiiiiiinally getting a chance to link up with my sweet friend Holly for

**Updated 3/15/14- So, it appears you only get 18 free newsletters and then you have to pay to use the site.  Super sad face.  I went in to make a new newsletter and it gave me a message I had used up all my free newsletter.  Grrrrrr.**

A few weeks ago a wonderful teacher that I work with showed me an amazing online tool for my weekly newsletters to parents.  I don't know about you, but we are required to send parents a newsletter at least once a week electronically so they know what we are doing each week.

I was creating my newsletter in powerpoint and then sending it as a PDF each week.  Which was totally fine, except it was filling up my school email because I always kept record of what I was sending.

So, when she showed me this easy and FREE online site for making my newsletter, I was intrigued.  So, of course, I played with it and figured out that I really really like it!! (**Disclaimer- these are my opinions and I was not asked to give a review about this site.  I just like it!**)

So, I'm going to show you how you can also use this site!!  Here is a link to one of my newsletters so you can see what the end product can look like.  I haven't inserted any cute pictures or images to title the different sections yet, but you can totally do that!

Now, don't get freaked out by all the screen shots below.  It looks like it's a lot, but I promise it's not that bad!  The most time you will put into it is the very first time you set up your newsletter. After that, you can DUPLICATE it and just change what you wrote, like a normal newsletter.  All of the titles and everything will be right there!  But honestly, it takes me no time at all now to fill in what we are doing.  Since I'm not having to reformat each time I add or change things in my powerpoint, it really only takes me 5-10 minutes each week to make changes and email it to the parents!

Okay, onto how to do it (and remember, these screenshots take you step by step!!)!

The site is

You'll have to sign up and create an account first.  This is an online tool.  They call them flyers, but it works great for newsletters!



Phew!  That was a lot of screenshots!!  I know it looks like a lot, but if you are willing to, I bet if you play with it, you'll figure it out!!  If you have any burning questions, feel free to comment and leave your email and I will try to answer them!  I'm pretty new at it myself!

I did ask the parents for feedback about this, and they seem to like it.  There is a print option if you have students that don't have a computer, but I don't have that issue this year.  Most can access it from their phone or computer.

I really like it because I can type as much as I want, without having to worry about fitting it on a page.  I tried to get my newsletter on one side of a page, but that left me very limited to how much I could type.  I was putting a lot in the body of my emails and then they were still having to open the PDF of the newsletter and read that as well.

Anywho, this is just another option for you, in case you wanted to try something new!

Be sure to check out the other ideas linked up to Tried It Tuesday!!
Have a great week!
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