Saturday, July 26, 2014

Happy finds!!

I found you...

Don’t you just love it when you find awesome things on the internet? It is a bit like winning the lotteryokay, not so much lol. My favorite word in the world is the word “serendipity”. It means to make a pleasant discovery or surprise. I always thought to myself, “If I open a store I am so naming it Serendipity.”

But I am also the girl who tried to teach her dog how to read. Really.

Back to my original point, I have been doing lots of really hard research (no, it was fun!) to bring you my serendipitous finds. Enjoy friends!

I love this Editable ABCs of Your Classroom freebie by Simply Kinder. I always wrote out class info for parents in a packet that some may not have read because tl;dr (too long, didn't read). But this would have been a very good way to get the same info across to my parents in a much easier-to-read format!

(Photo from Simply Kinder, not my own)
You can download it in her TPT shop HERE.

(Photo from

How super is this? Kids can practice letter matching, or you could use the concept for a making words lessons. You could even use split pool noodles for holding name plates or cards for activities. Genius idea! Thanks Prek Pages! You can read about this activity HERE.

Cccccheck it out! Dolch word printable labels for flashcards or word walls. What?!?! I remember writing them out on index cards in large Sharpie print. This is so much easier and better. Work smarter, not harder Tina Winkle!

(Photo from Kinder Craze blog)
You can download these wonderful labels in her TPT store HERE.

For my mommy friends out there~
Look at these adorable TMNT pancakes!!!
(Photo from The Joy of Boys)
They come from the really cool mom web site The Joy of Boys! You can see how to make these lean, green, and mean pancakes HERE. I also found some neat things to do with pool noodles. Pool noodles are only a dollar at Dollar Tree.

See? Even Honey Boo Boo approves. Since I have a wild nine year old boy I am sure I will make lots of visits to The Joy of Boys. 

Speaking of pool noodles, a friend sent me this fun idea to put tape on them and transform them into light sabers.

Leaving on a funny note, I am sure all teachers can relate

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Best Practices and Recommendations for Using Basal Readers


Best Practices and 

Recommendations for 

Using Basal Readers

by Tina Winkle
What is a basal reader?

Basal readers are primary books that teach students how to read. They are primarily used during guided reading. Basal readers are often used in K-5 classrooms. Some advantages to using basal readers is that they systematically introduce a controlled vocabulary, beginning teachers can rely on them to help guide the process of teaching reading, and there are many activities a teacher can use to build on skills found in the books. Basal readers have come a long way from their initial models like Dick and Jane books, and the "ancient" McGuffey Eclectic Reader. Many basal readers include non-fiction material and true to life stories. Even the fiction readers are fashioned in a way that students can relate the text to their own lives. There are now a variety of genres available in basal reader format. Basal readers often accompany lesson plans or units. Sometimes workbooks or assessment material will accompany the basal reader kits. Basal readers are supplements to a balanced literacy curriculum.

What are some of the best practices in utilizing a basal reader?

There are many skills the teacher can work on with students through the use of a basal reader. Basal readers often feature decoding skills, fluency, phonemic awareness and word attack skills. The teacher can introduce the story by showing students the cover and then by asking them to guess what the story is about. If it is a primary group of students or ELL, it is a good idea to take a picture walk before beginning the reading. Vocabulary can be pulled from the book. The students can be shown these words written on index cards, and told to look for them in the book. They can also help add them to the word wall. Then the reading of the basal reading begins. Each child can read a page out loud, or they can partner read aloud. The teacher should monitor and use prompting questions throughout.

Some good prompting questions include:
-What was the cause and effect in the story?
-Who was the main character?                      
-What was your least favorite part?
-What was your favorite part?
-Where was the setting?
-Did you have any questions while reading the story?
-Can you point to the word ______?
-What do you think was the author's perspective?

According to Tomasek, in the upper grades Tomasek assigns one reading prompt at the time the reading assignment is made. Students respond in one or two paragraphs prior to the next class. They are asked to share their responses to the prompts in a variety of ways (Tomasek,2009). As you can tell, there are many wonderful ways to implement the use of basal readers into your literacy block.
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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Early Readers' Literacy Acquisition

Early Readers' Literacy Acquisition 

by Tina Winkle


There are many critical issues concerning early readers’ individual differences in literacy acquisition.
The following are recommendations to address a critical issue.

Critical Issue: Students need to construct concepts of print: words are made up of letters, sentences are made up of words, reading goes from left to right and top to bottom.

Recommendation 1: Use shared reading.
An excellent way to help students construct concepts of print (words are made up of letters, sentences are made up of words, reading goes from left to right and top to bottom, etc.) and other essential understandings is the shared book experience, also known as shared reading(Gunning, 2010, p. 136).
When using the shared book experience, print must be visible to all students. Use a big book, a document projector, an overhead projector, story paper, or the chalkboard to display the text of the story (Gunning, 2010). 

The following are suggested steps for using shared reading with your students:

1. Introducing the Book
- Read the title, author, and illustrator. Discuss each.
- Have students make predictions about the story.
- Look through the story, focus only on pictures and ask students what they see and what they think is happening.
2. During Reading
- Read straight through without stopping if reading the book for the first time. The main purpose is for students to enjoy the book.
- Point to words as you read.
- For a second reading, pause, revise predictions, and ask questions if appropriate.
- If reading for the second time or more, children may read along.
3. After Reading
- After reading twice, work on specific skills:

  • Book characteristics and concepts of print
  • Comprehension skills; ask questions- including higher order questions
  • Reading strategies
  • Any other skills- sight words, phonics, rhyming words, ending sounds of words etc. (Gunning, 2010)

The Reading Rocket website gives the following reasons why teachers should use shared reading:

  • It provides struggling readers with necessary support.
  • Shared reading of predictable text can build sight word knowledge and reading fluency
  • Allows students to enjoy materials that they may not be able to read on their own.
  • Ensures that all students feel successful by providing support to the entire group. (2012)

URL for further reading about shared reading:

Recommendation 2: Use Environmental Print.
1. Make an environmental print word wall using food labels and categorize them by beginning letter.
2. Have children create their own environmental print labels for the classroom.
3. Create environmental print puzzles using cereal, cookie or other types of cardboard boxes.

  • Environmental print is the first print that children recognize.
  • It helps them connect the knowledge that print can convey meaning.

Recommendation 3: Use strategic writing experiences.
Writing is an integral part to the development of literacy skills in early childhood. Reading and writing are symbiotic.
1. Allow students to "free write" in their journals.
2. Have students reflect on their reading by writing.
3. Incorporate writing into literacy centers

All centers should have a variety of reading and writing materials for students to use.

  • Grocery store--creating signs, writing lists or checks
  • Bank--writing deposit slips and checks
  • Doctor's office--writing prescriptions, appointments, and bills
  • Restaurant--creating signs, writing grocery lists, orders, and receipts
  • Post office--writing letters, addressing envelopes, making stamps, mailing items
(Gunning, 2010, referring to Christie, 1990)

The Types of Writing

  • Modeled--Teacher chooses text and writes in front of children.
  • Interactive--Teacher and children share the writing experience, sharing the pen.
  • Shared/Dictation--Children choose the text and the teacher writes their words.
  • Independent--Children write independently.
(Sloane, 2012).

URL for further reading about writing:


Benson, H.S. (July 2004). Emergent writing. Retrieved
from .

Christie, J. F. (1990). Dramatic play: A context for meaningful engagements. The Reading Teacher, 43, 542–545.

Gunning, T. G. (2010). Creating literacy instruction for all students (7th ed.).Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

Kirkland, L, Aldridge, J., Kuby, P. (2007). Integrating environmental print across the curriculum, pre-k -3: Making Literacy Meaningful. Cowrin
Press. Thousand Oaks, CA.

Reading Rockets. WETA. (2012). Shared reading. Retrieved from

Sloane, Shari. (2012). Proceedings from SDE Kindergarten Conference: How to make writing with Kindergartners easy and enjoyable. 
Norman, OK:Staff Development for Educators.
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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Recipes Galore!

Today I want to share three really super duper recipes we made. I am putting them under the recipes tab, too! :)

Strawberry Spinach Salad

This has been my favorite summer dinner!


About 2 cups of fresh spinach
1 cup grilled chicken, cut into chunks
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
1/2 cup crumbled cheese of your choice-I like Feta.
1/2 cup raw pecans
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup olive oil
Add some salt and black pepper to taste. (I do!)

1. Combine the spinach, strawberries, pecans, grilled chicken, and cheese. Toss.

2. Mix the vinegar and honey in a bowl. Slowly add some olive oil while whisking. Add some salt and pepper. Drizzle over the mixed salad. I love to eat it with saltine crackers!

Confession: I love it best with my mason jar of Sonic ice and water with a big straw! Now you can have dessert lol.

Pink Lemonade Pie

1 pre-made Graham Cracker pie crust
1 can of sweetened condensed milk1 container (8 oz.) of Cool Whip
1 can of frozen pink lemonade concentrate-thaw it out beforehand

1. Mix the sweetened condensed milk with the pink lemonade concentrate.

2. Fold in the Cool Whip and then pour into your pie crust.

3. Refrigerate overnight and then enjoy!
I think it would be fun to try this with other flavors of concentrates. You could experiment!

Mexican Vanilla Ice Cream

Hint: Next time I would crush the Corn Flakes, but really it is up to you.
1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream
3 cups Corn Flakes cereal
1 stick (1/2 c.) butter
3/4 c. sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 container of  Cool Whip (8 oz.)


9x13 baking pan
Spatula for spreading

1. Add the butter in a skillet on medium heat. When the butter melts totally then add the sugar into the pan until the sugar dissolves a little.

2. Then add the Corn Flakes into the pan. Stir it so the sugar/butter mixture covers the Corn Flakes--about five minutes until the Corn Flakes start to turn golden brown.

3. Get a 9x13 pan and spread 1/3 the mixture from the pan onto the bottom of it. Save the rest for the top.

4. Put the whole container of Cool Whip and the ice cream with a teaspoon of vanilla and a teaspoon of cinnamon. Mix.

5. Spread this to your 9x13 pan. Then add the remaining Corn Flake mixture to the top.

6. Put pan in the freezer for about 4-5 hours. Scoop pieces out or if you are fancy, cut into squares. Serves 10-12.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014


This has been my face lately. I have a confession to make. I have been a truly lazy bum! Ever since the 4th I have been doing the minimum around the house, reading and binge watching on Netflix. You can lose days on freakin' Netflix!!! One weird movie I saw was The Brass Teapot. A couple finds an antique teapot and figures out that pain (like stubbing a toe) causes it to produce massive amounts of money. They are in debt and very poor so this is like a dream come true. Or is it a nightmare? Weird movie but I think in the end it had a good message.

I would say the end message is that money cannot buy happiness. Which leads me to another movie I watched on Netflix. This one makes me squeeeee! with happiness because I loved it so much as a little girl--Can't Buy Me Love. I could envision myself swimming in Patrick Dempsey's pool of curls on top of his head. And I was so jealous of the fashion.
Ah, and I also saw this:
No comment....
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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

My Lifehacks for Teachers

So suddenly I keep seeing the trendy phrase "lifehacks" or "hacks" everywhere. I was reading a link that I probably found off of Facebook entitled 17 Insanely Clever Hacks For Teachers, By Teachers . It seems like every time there is an article about teaching Robin Williams and his Dead Poet's Society bottom appears.

It is a bit like some maniacal teacher Creepypasta character.
 I have seen so many clips about seizing the day that I have started doing this during professional development sessions when it pops up-

 Robin Williams does not represent me. Because we all know this is how I teach: (just kidding!)  

Okay before I continue to go on my cray cray lady rant let's meander back to my original reason for posting. Here are some tips I have found makes my life easier as an educator.

P.S. Let this be a lesson on why you should never leave the house mid-post, friends!!! I went on some errands and then I came home and saw Robin Williams just went to rehab. So go back in your mind in a time machine to yesterday and then read this post. kthanxbye