I'm not much of a football fan, but even I get excited for the big game! Ok, it's mostly for the commercial and the snacks, but still.  Even if I'm not all about it, my kids always are, so I created this fun pack that's perfect to use right about now! This has been in my tpt store for a while, but I don't think I ever blogged about it. Like everything I make, I tried to keep it low prep for you, but high interest for the kids! You can find it HERE on tpt. Here's what's included.

And now for the football freebie! This comes from my February Homework Helper pack. The pack has 20 pages that are perfect for homework. Each one follows the same format, but covers several seasonal topics. February covers Valentine's Day, Groundhog Day, President's Day, winter sports, Black History month, dental health, heart facts, and more! I've also included the a version of the set that removes the word homework, so it's suitable for use in class too. You can check out the whole pack HERE on tpt.  Snag the football page HERE for freezies!

Enjoy, my friends!
So, chances are you're freezing your tushie off right about now. Things are even cold down here in the Sunshine State - well, by our standards anyway. It's been in the 50's! So what better time to study some polar animals?

I'm getting together with one of my blog bff's, Megan from Mrs. Wheeler's First Grade, to host a giveaway of two of our latest creations. The funny thing is that we both made these not realizing how well they would fit together. I mean they even match!

Here is Megan's informational writing pack. It's all kinds of awesome. You can check it out HERE.

Look how perfectly my Polar Pals Centers go along with it! You can see more about them HERE.

You can win both just by entering using Rafflecopter below. Giveaway ends Monday night.

Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
So...look around. See anything different - like EVERYTHING maybe? I've had the same basic design since I started blogging a little over three years ago and although I liked it, it was just time for a change. So I turned to Michelle at 3AM Designs because I had been watching her turn out design after design that were just so unique. I have to say I was a completely picky pain in the rump about every little detail and she was super patient with me. I am in L-O-V-E. For serious, sometimes I just open my blog and look at it because it's so pretty!

As if that wasn't cool enough news, there's more! I was recently asked to be part of the very first Creative Summit at Carson Dellosa. Carson. Dellosa! I'll be traveling to the CD Headquarters later this month for a weekend of creativity with the good folks there along with Erica Bohrer, Erin Klein, Cheryl Saoud, and Anna Brantley. We've been chatting for a bit already and I'm so excited to meet them all in person. How I was chosen for this amazing opportunity with this incredible group of girls still kind of boggles my mind, but I'm ecstatic!
I've been busting to share all of this news with you. I'll definitely be sharing more details and behind the scenes pics from my trip on Instagram, so be sure to follow so you can see all the action.

Happy {almost} Friday!
Welcome to the Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores #teachcreativity Blog Hop! I'm so excited to partner with Jo-Ann and the other fabulous blog hosts to bring you some ways to spark creativity in your classroom.

Anyone have a few reluctant writers in their class? I bet the answer to that is a resounding YES! Sometimes these kids aren't so reluctant, they just need a push. Story stones provide a tactile and visual jump-start to the writing process. They help remove that blank stare (and blank paper) that often results from just giving the chid a generic prompt or even worse for some kids, the freedom to write about whatever they want.

And best of all, they are fun, easy, and inexpensive to make! I got all of the supplies for the project in one trip to Jo-Ann.

Apply stickers of your choice to the flat river rocks. Then apply a little puddle of Glossy Accents (about the size of a dime) on top of the sticker. Use a small foam brush to even out the puddle. I use a glove to keep the glue off my hands and bottle caps to keep the stones from sticking to the table. Yup, I have a whole container of bottle caps just in case!

Mod Podge can be used instead of the Glossy Accents, but I just don't have good luck with Mod Podge. I think it's the Florida humidity. It just never seems to dry for me. With the Glossy Accents, it's dry to the touch within about 30 minutes. It forms a great childproof-picking seal to the sticker and adds a nice shine.

Themed sticker packs make it easy to create an entire story, like these camping stickers from Me & My Big Ideas. You've got campers, a bear, a lost shoe, and how cute are those little fish? The story almost tells itself. 
After your little learners tell a few of these types of stories, they get the hang of what needs to be in a story: characters, setting, problem, and solution. Then eventually they'll start to transfer these things over to the writing process. It doesn't happen overnight, but it does happen!

Another fun thing to try is to have the kids tell a story with the stones, then have use the same stones to tell a different story.

You can also give a stuck writer a little boost with these story stones. Each one has a possible conflict that they can use in the story. Sometimes just letting them look though through a bag of stones like these will get their creative juices flowing.

How about a new way to assign research reports? Have each student reach into the can and pull out one stone. Whatever animal is on your stone becomes the subject of your research! 

If you want to make some story stones for your class, be sure you print out this coupon, it's a good one!
And don't forget to sign up for the Jo-Ann teacher reward program here to save every time you shop.

Don't miss the rest of the great projects this week:

Tuesday: Sunny Days in Second Grade

This review is part of a Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores® campaign. I received compensation for this review; 
however, this is my personal, honest opinion based on my experience.
You know how sometimes the best, most meaningful lessons just kind of happen in one of those "teachable moments"? I totally had one of those moments this week.

Going back after winter break, I knew we were going to tackle inferencing, but my plans were, um... let's say sketchy. I knew what books I wanted to use and I had tons of games and task cards prepared from last year, so I wasn't too worried. But at lunch a few of my friends were talking about a book that was great for inferencing. I knew I had the book, so I dug it out and they were SO right!

The book is Two Bad Ants.  As soon as I told the kids it was by Chris Van Allsberg, the author of The Polar Express, they were hooked and couldn't wait to hear it.
The book is from the perspective of the ants, so everything is huge and the ants can't always see the whole object. It's a great chance for the kids to make inferences based on what they know about ants and items they would find in a kitchen. I was shocked how much trouble my kids had with this!

Here's a great example. They see this picture and this text.

"Then the lake tilted and began to empty into a cave. The ants could hear the rushing water and felt themselves pulled toward the pitch black hole. Suddenly the cave disappeared and the lake became calm. The ants swam to the shore and found that the lake had steep sides."

They were able to infer what was happening here pretty easily, but some other ones really gave them trouble!  Inferring that this was a spoon stirring coffee wasn't too hard, but still some were saying hot chocolate and soup. So we had to refer back to our schema and ask why would we add sugar to either of those? And what kind of soup would be dark brown? We eventually settled on coffee.

This one really threw them for a loop! They totally didn't get that the ants were hiding in holes in an English muffin that then was put into a toaster.

But the one I was really surprised about was right at the beginning. The ants discover sugar and bring it back to the queen. Of course, they never call it sugar, but they do refer to it being sweet.

They were saying sand, rocks, diamonds... nothing about sugar, or even salt! We got a little closer when I reminded them that the ants found these sweet crystals in the kitchen, but even then, it wasn't really hitting home.

Eventually other clues led to it being sugar. But I realized the problem was that they didn't really know that sugar and salt are made of tiny crystals. We're about to start learning about matter, so perfect tie-in!

I grabbed our hand lenses, passed out some hastily cut black paper, and dug in my drawer for salt and sugar. First we explored the sugar alone and then we added some salt.

They were totally into it. And of course they wanted to eat it.

We made some quick observation notes on the board 
{no time for cutesy anchor charts...honestly that's how we roll most of the time}

Then we referred back to what we know about making an inference and we realized we had a hard time making inferences about the sugar because we didn't have a good schema about sugar - like understanding that it's really made of tiny crystals! I think this really  brought home the idea that you need to have some sort of schema on the subject to make a good inference. 

Now I just have to get them to stop using schema as a verb. As in, "I schema about dogs." It's almost as bad as when they say, "I'll verse you next" when playing a game. I swear that's like nails on a chalkboard to me! But, that's another story...

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Thank you so much to everyone who linked up to our last My Truth Monday! It was really motivating and inspiring to read all of your One Little Words. I've never approached a resolution this way, but so far, I really do like it!

It's hard to believe that winter break is coming to an end already. I can't complain though. I've had a great break and I really do love my kids. I miss them! But I do get a little overwhelmed when I think of the next three months. I've got a ton on my plate both professionally and personally, but it's all good. I can't wait to share it all with you along the way!

Ok, so I haven't created a set of centers in forever, but I felt inspired to make some for January. I based the activities on a few things - CCSS standards, a winter theme, and the skills I know we'll be covering and things that I know my kids can always use extra practice with.  The theme is Polar Pals, meaning animals that live in both the Arctic and Antarctica. I researched a TON about both places and all of the animals that live there, so the pack is full of interesting facts! I really tried hard to make this set fit into your classroom whether you're studying these animals or not. I'm not, but I'm still using these centers because they're seasonal and the skills are exactly what we need.

Click HERE to see them on TpT.

I tried to some of the centers easy on us, less cutting and corralling small little pieces where I could, like these first three. Just make or project one copy of the activity and give each child an answer sheet.

Here's the breakdown of what's included. It's very important to me that there are clear directions for the kids so that they can review them when they actually get to the center. I also really want an answer key so that the kids can check their own work - great instant feedback for them, less work for me!

I'm really happy with this next activity. Instead of making a bunch of little cards for them to measure, I just added lines to each animal to measure specific parts. So again, just make one copy of the activity and an answer sheet for each kid.

Ok, so here's how to win. I've added lots of options, you can use one or all of them, but each task earns one additional entry. It's a quick little giveaway, ending tomorrow at midnight. Good Luck!

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