Welcome to Paula's Primary Classroom! This blog is where I share ideas for teaching and learning with families, friends and other early childhood educators. Please don't use the photos or text of this blog without permission, but please do use any ideas you find useful. Thank you for stopping by!

Saturday, November 24, 2018

$50 gift card giveaway!

Teacherspayteachers gift card giveaway from Paula's Primary Classroom

Join me in prepping for the TeachersPayTeachers site wide sale by entering this gift card giveaway!

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Saturday, November 10, 2018

Thanksgiving book round up

If you teach elementary school, chances are good that you love children's books!  If you teach elementary school in the US, you probably love, have, need, and use Thanksgiving picture books.  Here are a few of my favorites!

It's Thanksgiving, by Jack Prelutsky.  My students have always loved Jack Prelutsky's poems, but his holiday collections are some of our favorites!  I got this way back when it came with the book on tape, and we STILL read and sing along to these songs/poems.

'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving - a classic Thanksgiving story about a class field trip to the farm that turns into a rescue mission. 

Turkey Trouble by Wendi Silvano has a predictable problem, a variety of turkey disguises, and a creative solution.  If you do a disguise a turkey activity, this book is a perfect lead in.

Have you met We Gather Together... Now Please Get Lost! and other books by Diane deGroat?  Students will relate to the class dynamics, to students doing their best to get along but struggling at times.  There's always a lot of humor in deGroat's books that cleverly disguises a lesson on friendship and getting along. 

The Most Thankful Thing is perhaps better for a family reading than a classroom story, as a parent reveals that her little one is her most thankful thing, but this story also lends itself to making lists of the things we are thankful for, and ties in beautifully with this Thanksgiving activity that I do each year.

In The Great Turkey Race 3 bird brained turkeys compete to be the most special turkey, the one that will be chosen for Thanksgiving... fortunately, all works out well in the end.

Over the River is the classic Thanksgiving song that you already know, love and sing along to, with adorable turkeys acting out the story.  This is a fun way to teach or practice the song with your kiddos!

Do your students get excited about sharks, saber toothed tigers, t-rex and piranhas?  I bet you weren't expecting them to show up in a Thanksgiving book, yet here they are in Who Will Carve the Turkey This Thanksgiving?,  just right to engage the 4 and 5 year old crowd. 

10 Fat Turkeys  This turkey count down book is adorable, every turkey has it's own personality, and the recurring phrase "GOBBLE GOBBLE WIBBLE WOBBLE" will have your students joining in as you read.  Unlike a lot of Thanksgiving stories for the primary grades, there's no mention of turkey dinner at all.

There are some book series that I've collected a lot of, and the Arthur series by Marc Brown is one of them.  Arthur's Thanksgiving engages my first graders, and with Muffy saying things like "Vomitrocious", it keeps me entertained too.  As always, Arthur and friends learn something important along the way.

I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie - it's not what you might expect, it's a hundred times better!  The text is great, but the illustrations by Judith Byron Schachner are priceless!
So what is YOUR favorite Thanksgiving book?  Let me know what I missed in the comments, and have a very happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, August 26, 2018

A New Twist on an Old Favorite

My students LOVE hundreds chart mystery pictures, which is why I've created so many of them.  They love racing to see who can figure out the hidden picture first, they love coloring the pages, and they love working in teams to solve the puzzles.  Change things up a little with addition and subtraction?  Sure!  Solve mystery pictures with base 10 blocks?  Cool!  Recently I came up with a whole new way to do hundreds charts and it is a game changer: in the hundreds pocket chart!

Now I'm asking myself why I didn't think of it before.  We know students need a lot of time and practice understanding 2 digit numbers, but they don't always need paper and pencil tasks.  Somehow they're always ready for hands on active learning though, and my students really love getting to work at the pocket charts.  That works well for me too - I love how little space it takes to use a vertical surface for a center, and that it frees up table tops for things that can't go vertical.

Want to see how these work?  Easy-peasy!

Step 1: print number cards on colored paper.

Step 2: cut on straight lines.
A new twist on an old favorite: hundreds POCKET charts!
Step 3: have students put them in the hundreds pocket chart!

I like to use these as math centers, assigning 3-5 students at a time to work on solving the puzzle together, but that's not the only option!  You can use these puzzles as a class reward too - each time a student is caught being wonderful, you can give them a number to add to the chart.  When it's completed you can give a reward, or solving the puzzle can be the reward.  Want to use them as a whole class game?  Give each student a blank 100s chart, shuffle the cards for a puzzle, then project the cards one at a time as students find and color the number on their charts!

It's easy to differentiate these puzzles too - you can start with an empty hundreds chart and challenge students to figure out where each number belongs (click Papa Bear for video):

or you can start with some or all of the numbers showing so students only need to match the numbers (click big bad wolf for video).

You may be wondering how I store all these hundreds pocket charts, especially since each one has 100 pieces.  I've come up with several different storage solutions, which all start with one extra card - a picture card of the completed puzzle (I include these in the sets I make).  I put it on the top of the pile of cards for each puzzle, so the puzzles are only mysteries to the children - not to me!

A new twist on an old favorite: hundreds POCKET charts!
At first I used rubber bands to keep each set together, and stored them in a small box.

A new twist on an old favorite: hundreds POCKET charts!
I've also used small baggies, binder clips, and even empty candy tins (I do like Altoids!).

A new twist on an old favorite: hundreds POCKET charts!

I think I found my favorite solution yet at the Target Dollar Spot: divided plastic boxes.  Check these out, they are absolutely perfect!
A new twist on an old favorite: hundreds POCKET charts!
So now I have my hundreds pocket charts stored by theme in these divided boxes.  I can easily find just what I want, and my students can get hands on practice with 2 digit numbers as often as we need it!  Can you see why this is my new favorite math station?

                                                                                                   Thank you for stopping by!

If you like the idea of using hundreds pocket charts, but don't have time to make them yourself, I'd be honored if you'd consider the growing selection available in my TeachersPayTeachers store.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

3 astonishingly easy ways to engage your kids in clean up

Kids engaged in clean up?  Yeah, right!  No-one wants to stop playing to clean up at home or at school - they'd rather play all day.

True, most children would rather play than clean up, but it doesn't have to be an either / or situation - clean up can be playful!  Don't believe me?  After more than 25 years of working with young children, I've learned a trick or two or three, and today I'm going to share them with you!

3 astonishinly easy ways to engage your kids in clean up, from Paula's Primary Classroom

Clean up trick #1:  The Magic Trash
I learned this trick my first year teaching, when a colleague shared it with me.  When it's time for clean up, just announce that there is a piece of magic trash waiting to be cleaned up, and watch your children scramble to find it!  Sometimes I'd offer a prize - at my school it was golden tickets - but no prize is needed if you engage with the kids to make it fun.  Say things like, "No-one has found it yet!", "____ you were close a minute ago!", or "Keep looking!"  If you're excited and engaged, the children will be too.  Make a big deal out of the "winner" who found it, and everyone will want to be the one who finds the magic trash next time.

Clean up trick #2:  Cinderella's step-mother
Which popular princess starts out by doing a whole lot of clean up?  Cinderella, of course!  Give your children a reason to role play her character by turning yourself into the mean spirited step-mother!  I always put on a properly haughty voice, and announce, "You can't possibly go to the ball until all this is cleaned up!"  (Click on the link above to hear how ridiculously silly I can be!) This one works well with a group - I usually give each child a specific task, "You! Clean the shelf!", "Sweep the floor!", "Pick up the toys!", or whatever needs doing.  If you have child sized cleaning tools like brooms, dustpans, dusters, or baby wipes, they'll eagerly play along - and that of course is the whole secret, you've made clean up into a game and you're playing it with them.  Make sure that when the cleaning is done that your little Cinderella(s) get to do something fun - like go outside to play.

Clean up trick #3: The Pirate Captain
Argh, do your kids disdain princesses?  Well maybe they'll listen to the pirate captain instead!  Once again, I recommend talking and acting in character so the kids get into the role play and make this a fun game with you.  I always start this one by announcing that I'm a pirate captain, and I'm taking away all the "loot" or "treasure" from the floor.  I then stomp off and get a bag or a box to put my haul in.  This usually prompts the children to scurry around grabbing all the toys off the floor, but just in case, when I return with the box I point out a toy that I'm taking for treasure, and make a show of marching over to pick it up.  What kid can resist racing to get there first?  Continue the fun by pointing out more toys and attempting to collect them for your own treasure.

With this clean up game I have sometimes managed to collect a few toys that the children didn't clean up, or didn't get to quickly enough.  When that happens I do put those toys out of reach for a few weeks - even though this is a game, if the children don't clean up their toys, the consequence is losing them for a time.  Will I give them back?  Of course!  Will it be today?  Not on yer life, land lubber!

I'd love to hear how these clean up games work with your children - and if you have any ideas to share with me, please leave me a comment.  I'm always looking for new ways to make learning, playing, (and even cleaning up) more fun!

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Three tips you need to know about bubbles

Do your kiddos love bubbles?  It's almost certain they do!  You probably don't know these 3 tips for making the most of  bubble play with your children:

1.  You don't have to buy bubble mix, and if you do, you're probably spending too much on it! It's very simple to make AWESOME bubbles with Palmolive dish washing detergent and water.  Simply fill a bottle about 7/8 full of water, then add the Palmolive. (If you put the soap in first and then add water it will froth up.  Trust me on this!)

2.  Children are going to spill their bubbles - but you can control how much bubble mix they have at a time.  Don't fill that bottle to the top until your child has mastered the art of holding a container upright while moving about!

3.  What are you going to do about getting bubble wands if you don't purchase commercial bubbles?  You can make your own wands, find alternatives around the house, or buy cool bubble tools like the ones in the pictures above! 

I hope you and your kiddos have lots of bubble fun and outside time this summer!  Thanks for stopping by!
                                                                                                        - Paula

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Awesome Songs and Rhymes Your Children Will Love

I've always sung with and to my kiddos.  Sweet songs, silly songs, classroom management songs, things we make up as we go - they're all part of the sound track of childhood.  Recently I've started recording short videos of me singing some of my favorites, and posting them to social media.  If you have a little one (or two or three or twelve), I hope you'll check them out!

This one is "Down by the Banks of the Hanky Panky," a fun knee bounce rhyme for babies and toddlers.

Stop by my YouTube channel to see what else I've been up to, or follow me on Instagram and FaceBook!

Sunday, July 8, 2018

You might be a teacher if...

from Paula's Primary Classroom
I was walking my dogs this morning, and passed a pine tree where the ground was littered with tiny pinecones.  I caught myself wondering if there was a class supply of them, and were they intact, and wouldn't they be great for that one craft and....

The teacher brain never turns off!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

What would you do with $100 gift card?

Calling all teachers!  Even if you are lucky enough to be heading into summer break, I bet your wish list for TeachersPayTeachers is probably longer than a Friday afternoon staff meeting in May!  I've joined up with some amazing teacher authors to give away something that could chip away at your wishlist, and make your back to school shopping go a lot more smoothly: a $100 gift card to TeachersPayTeachers!  

                                                           Good luck everyone!


Prize: $100 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card
Giveaway Organized by: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher)
Rules: Use the Rafflecopter to enter.  Giveaway ends 6/13/18 and is open worldwide.
Are you a Teacher Blogger or Teachers pay Teachers seller who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your store and social media?  Click here to find out how you can join our totally awesome group of bloggers! 
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Sunday, May 6, 2018

There are 100 fantastic reasons to enter for this prize!

It's May, and if you're a teacher you are probably up to your ears in end of year craziness.  Testing, report cards, awards ceremonies, field days, more testing, preparing your room for the summer, parent meetings, staff meetings, and all the other things that come to a head as the school year revs up for the final few weeks.  You could use a break, some chocolate, more caffeine and a moment to breathe.  A $100 gift card wouldn't go amiss either, would it?

I've joined up with a fantastic group of educators again this month to give away exactly that: $100 to spend on TeachersPayTeachers, where you can find just about every teaching resource you could dream of.  Good luck everyone!

- Paula

Prize: $100 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card
Giveaway Organized by: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher)
Rules: Use the Rafflecopter to enter.  Giveaway ends 5/13/18 and is open worldwide.
Are you a Teacher Blogger or Teachers pay Teachers seller who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your store and social media?  Click here to find out how you can join our totally awesome group of bloggers! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

But wait, there's more!
 Head over to my Facebook page to enter this drawing too!  I'm giving away a $10 TeachersPayTeachers giftcard AND $10 in resources from my TpT store! To enter this drawing, comment on this post with one resource in my store that you'd like. A winner will be chosen at random at 9pm Pacific Time on 5/8/2018. Remember to tag your teacher friends too!

Saturday, April 28, 2018

End of the school year stress got you crazy? Breathe...

I'm a pretty driven person.  I'm always juggling all the parts of my life, and if anything is going to get the short end of the stick, it's relaxation time - I mean, who has time for that? 

This week my son and daughter in law have been visiting, which has made me slow down, take lots of family time, and relax.  We saw this view on a lovely drive this week, and it's a beautiful reminder that no matter how hectic things can get, when I take the time to just breathe, I'm a happier, stronger, better person for it. 
End of the school year stress got you crazy?  Breathe...  from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

Sunday, April 15, 2018

11 FREE simple ways to learn in the natural world

With Earth Day fast approaching, and spring drawing us outdoors, this seems the perfect time to celebrate the natural world around us.  Here are a few of my favorite ways to celebrate all that nature has to offer.
11 FREE, simple ways to learn in the natural world, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

1.  Stomp in puddles.

2.  No puddles?  Play with iceOr mud.

3.  Collect leaves and sort them by size, shape, color, or...?

4.  Collect natural materials outside, and use them to make mandalas.

5.  Sort natural items into things that are seeds, and things that are not.  You might find some surprises!

6.  Create temporary art.

7.  Make a tic tac toe board with sticks, and use rocks & leaves as playing pieces. Find sticks that look like letters.

8.  Lay in the grass and look at clouds.

9.  Look closely at the world around you.  Take a magnifying glass and a notebook, and see what you can observe about the critters and world around you.

10.  Play in the dirt.   Plant things.  Watch them grow.

11.  Take your inside learning outdoors.  Read books under a tree, practice patterns on the playground (up/down, left/right),

count everything,

look for shapes,

play I Spy, write your spelling words in chalk, or paint them with water on the sidewalk, practice numbers with hopscotch.
 Most importantly, think outside the box that is your classroom, put your neck out, and explore. 
Wishing you a glorious time outside!
xo Paula