Thursday, March 19, 2015


Kamishibai (kah-mee-she-bye) a form of storytelling, is also known as traveling paper theater.  Kamishibai was a well-loved form of entertainment for children in Japan, mainly from the 1930s to the 1950s. As television become more popular in homes, Kamishbai became a thing of the past. Allen Say writes a great book to introduce young learners to this unique form of writing called, Kamishibai Man.

Using Kamishibai in the classroom can be an enriching experience for all learners. Kamishibai can be used to develop writing skills at a variety of levels. Another great aspect of using Kamishbai in the classroom is that it uses oral, visual and print methods of literacy.

We (my 2nd grade students and I) team up with our 4th grade writing buddies to teach this fun writing unit. We meet for as many consecutive days as our schedules allow, usually for 45 minute time blocks. Our 4th grade buddies introduce this unit to the 2nd graders by presenting some real Kamishibai stories (you can purchase these on The students are divided into groups of 5 or 6 depending on class size. By the end of the unit we usually have 8 to 9 completed stories. The students are exposed to the writing process, from generating ideas, developing setting and characters, using a story mountain graphic organizer, writing and illustrating their rough drafts, to a final typed and illustrated Kamishbai story which they then orally present in front of a large group of students and parents.

practicing how to use the Kamishbai frame

glimpse of rough draft story

rough draft of illustrations/slides

creating the artwork

working on more artwork

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Mentor Texts for Six Traits: Voice

Mentor Texts for Six Traits: Voice

A warm up activity to introduce the trait of voice is to have each child write an emotion on an index card. After collecting the cards, we gather at the rug and kids get to choose an emotion to act out. It just gets them thinking of different ways to convey feelings using voice.  A good mentor text for this activity is: Today I Feel Silly & Other Moods That Make My Day, by Jamie Lee Curtis.

We Are In A Book! by Mo Willems- This is a book about 2 best friends, Gerald and Piggie, who find themselves in a book! They just can’t believe this new adventure and use some great “voice”. The book is composed of back and forth dialogue along with great simple pictures.  Once I read this book to the class, we talk about the different emotions the characters displayed and how the reader knew this. Many respond with things like, because of the speech bubbles, the punctuation-exclamation points, expressions on Gerald and Piggy’s face.  All of these ideas the students generate, I then link back to the trait of “voice” and tell the children that they are going to write their own comic. We brainstorm ways that authors show voice and then the students try to incorporate some aspects of voice into their own comic strips.

Dear Mrs. La Rue:Letters From Obedience School by Mark Teague- This is a great book to teach about using your own voice in letter writing.  After reading the book, we discuss ways in which we could tell how a character was feeling by reading the letters.  I then link this to my own students’ letter writing. I ask them to write a letter to Santa convincing him why they would be the best elf for the job! They have to create an elf character, with a name and a personality and convey all of this in a convincing letter to Santa. The kids love this and it’s amazing what ideas they come up with. I think my favorite line so far from one of my students was, “not only can I become invisible but I am also a trained reindeer tamer.”

Professional Learning Communities

Do you participate in PLC's in your district?

Last year, my colleagues and I wanted to learn how to become better writing teachers.  Our question which we would use to drive our learning was:  How can teachers as writers promote and strengthen writing instruction?  We decided that we would use our own personal writing linked to our students writing process and go from there. Although it made us a bit uneasy to share in front of our colleagues, in the end it made us have empathy towards our students and realize all of the tools writers need to be successful, from the environment to the actual nitty gritty details that writing can demand.

We decided as a group that voice was our hardest trait to teach so we all decided to write a piece about the first day of school. We each chose to write from a different perspective. Some of the perspectives were: bus driver, teacher, student, principal and the school itself. To our surprise this was a pretty fun piece to write and one that we could not only use in our PLC but also with our students.  I’ve found that my students just LOVE when I share my own writing with them, from the brainstorming, to the rough draft, to the final completed piece.

Here was my feeble attempt to write using the voice of a student on the first day of school. 

Voice: Student

I could see the flashing lights approaching in the distance.  The sound of the school bus coming to a stop and the opening of the bus door is one that you never forget.  Ms. Jackie, as we called her, was alright as a bus driver.  She was for lack of a better term, typical.  The bus ride was fine, nothing out of the ordinary.  I climbed up the stairs chose my usual area of the bus to sit and reserved the spot next to me for my best friend, who would be joining us in exactly three more stops. (I thought to myself, I wonder if the other kids I just walked by noticed my new cool coat and backpack?). Things were going well.

Soon we were there. The school smelled, well, like a school should; erasers, Elmer’s glue and old or should I say loved books.  It was just as I had expected.  As I walked down the hall I could see my teacher smiling. I had the nicest teacher in the school this year and to top it all off, ALL of my best friends were in my class. Wow, I thought to myself, could this year get any better?!

I took out my perfectly labeled purple polka dotted sparkly folder, matching journal, crayons, markers, colored pencils and neatly piled them on my desk.

Beep…Beep…Beep! What was that sound? It was then I realized my alarm clock was going off. I was going to be late for the first day of school! My great start to the school year was about to go downhill fast if I didn’t run to catch the bus! Some dream that was!

How do you successfully teach the craft of writing to your students?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Pumpkin Observations
The holidays can be an exciting time for kids...especially Halloween! This holiday doesn't have to be all costumes and candy in the classroom so I tied in a fun pumpkin exploration activity for the kids. Pumpkins / Jack-o-lanterns, there's enough of a link, right?!
Science- life cycle- seed to pumpkin
Art- sketch
Word study- descriptive words
Math- seed estimation and counting with arrays, circumfrence, hight in base ten blocks
Reading- How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin, by Margaret McNamara and Brian Karas
Writing- story starter: "3 little pumpkinds were rolling down a hill..."


Personal Narrative Writing

How do you teach Personal Narrative writing?
I have found that kids write their best stories after a lot of modeling and exposure to mentor texts. My go to author to demonstrate personal narrative writing has always been, Patricia Polacco.
Below is one of the graphic organizers I made to use with my students this year to help them generate ideas for their personal narrative. I ask them to think about a time when they felt, sad, hurt, angry or worried. They write down one idea for each box, then pair-shared (adding in some detail words to each event/box).
We spend about a week reading and doing different graphic organizers to generate ideas- small/true moments from our life. After each student has a wealth of topics to choose from, they decide which event they want to turn into their very own personal narrative story, like Patricia Polacco's stories.
I can't wait to see how their personal narratives turn out this year!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

C'est L'Halloween Chanson (It's Halloween Song)

Here are the lyrics to the French song mentioned in my previous post.

Adventures in Grade 2 French Exposure

Adventures in Grade 2 French Exposure

I wish the title read: Adventures in Grade 2 French Immersion, but for now exposure will have to do.  As educators, we all know our school day is beyond packed with curricula.  Despite the cramped school day, I decided to add one more thing (how many of us have said that phrase before?)! However, I truly believe that learning a foreign language as a child is so important! Kids are like little sponges and another great benefit is that they have perfect accents!

So this school year, I have set off to expose children to the beautiful language of française.  I am attempting to do this by integrating French into my morning work and morning meeting time.  The kids really seem to be enjoying this so far! I recently dug up an old french CD for children and it was perfect for the upcoming holiday. Is anyone familiar with the french song, C'est l'Halloween? You may remember this song from your high school french class! You can watch the video and hear the song here:

Needless to say my kids love the song...unfortunately they got in trouble for singing it at computer time! I am going to have to remind them when it is appropriate to sing!

À la prochaine!
(Until next time)

Friday, August 16, 2013

Almost done with my classroom set up! Then again, what teacher is ever actually DONE?! 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

End of Year Gifts for Students

 Every teacher wants their students to continue READING over the summer, so why not give each child a book or two at the end of the school year...the cost right? Well I found this great website called, Book Sale Finder, that lists local library sales. You just search for your state on the website and it lists the dates the public libraries will be having their book sales.  What a cute idea it would be to give each child a few books in a beach pail as they head off for summer vacation! You can usually find the beach pails at your local Dollar Store or Target in the dollar section. I thought this was such a cute and inexpensive way to give each student a gift, I just had to share!

Baby Natalie

I can't believe I haven't posted since October....well actually, I can! We have a new addition to our family! Our daughter Natalie was born this April and has been keeping us very busy! So in between her naps and feedings I'm going to try and get caught up on this past school year! Thanks for sticking with me and still following my blog!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Halloween Craft Ideas

How do you celebrate Halloween in your classroom?  We are one of the lucky schools where we are still allowed to celebrate this fun holiday with the kids!  We have a school wide parade around the neighborhood with the kids all dressed up in their costumes! I also have great parent volunteers that typically run a craft day in my classroom!  Of course, like many of you, I get most of my classroom craft ideas from Pinterest!  Here's a few cute ones I found:

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Classroom Set-Up

It's that time of year again! BACK TO SCHOOL! I've been in my classroom this week getting things ready to go for another fun and exciting school year! These photos aren't that great because I took them with my Ipad!

Classroom view from the door.  Our meeting area is over by the whiteboard, I just haven't gotten around to unraveling the rug.

Calendar Math! I add in the various components of Calendar Math as we go along. I don't want to overwhelm the kids right off the bat! In a few weeks I add in the time and place value parts, then later in the year I will add in more.

Who doesn't love a Dr. Seuss quote?!

Really cool gear clock from Kikkerland.  You can watch all of the gears in the clock move around.

Classroom library...still need to organize some of the books!

Mailboxes and writing area.  I decided to color code the mailboxes a few years ago by girls and boys.  We were always getting stuff from the office about camps, etc for girls and boys so I found this way easier.

Math resource area. 

Word Wall Board. This is where kids put their individualized spelling lists.  The area that has the chart paper is where I write the weekly word study principle.  For a more detailed description of how I teach spelling please see earlier word study post.

Today's Number!

Today's Number I am trying to think of ways to have the kids do more meaningful morning work. I think I am going to make little booklets of these to use as morning work when the kids arrive and then I will incorporate the number of the day into my morning message / calendar math. This way the kids can try it on their own first and then as a class we can go over the answers during morning meeting.

Freebie Fridays

Sunday, August 12, 2012

One Lovely Blog Award

While enjoying summer vacation, I came back to see that I was nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award from two different people! :o) A huge thank you goes out to Ashley at Inspire, Dream, & Create and Laura at Oh, How Pintearesting!.

For this award, here are the rules:  
1. Follow the person who gave me the award. 

2. Link back to the person that gave me the award.

3. Pass to 15 new bloggers and then let them know they have received the award. 
Here are the awesome blogs I'm passing this award on to:
  Finding 15 blogs that don't already have this award are a bit tough...but here is what I have so far!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Newbie Blog Hop!

Janis at Grade Three is the Place for Me! is hosting a Newbie Blog Hop! Since I still consider myself as a newbie... I have joined!! I would love new followers! Here are the questions and my answers:

 1. What state you are in-
New Hampshire

2. Your current teaching position
Second Grade

3. Your teaching experience
This will be my 6th year!

4. When you started blogging
I started blogging a last September, so less than a year but I still feel like such a newbie!

5. Share a blogging tip / blogging resource
Make sure you reply to comments / questions people leave on your blog!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

What Teachers Make

Back To School Read Alouds!

With the new school year less than a month away I have started to think about some of my favorite back to school read alouds.  What are some of your favorites?

This is a great book to teach kids how to deal with peers and maybe even turn an "enemy" into a great friend!

I usually read this book when we are practicing recess behavior and going over school rules.  The kids can always relate to this story!

My first author study of the year is always Kevin Henkes.  His books are great and the kids can relate to the situations his characters go through in his books.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Author Visit!

Author visit!!!! The talented Chris Van Dusen, visited our school this week!  He was great with the kids! So engaging, creative and inspiring!  He related to the kids and even took the time to autograph every book for the kids!  Many of you may know him as the illustrator for the Mercy Watson series by Kate DiCamillo or perhaps his own Mr. Magee series.  He has also written and illustrated many other great books: If I Built A Car, The Circus Ship, Randy Riley's Really Big Hit and King Hugo's Huge Ego. To find out how to have Chris Van Dusen visit your school or just to learn more about him, visit his website: 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Computer Lab

Sometimes it's the little things that count! I came back to the classroom to find this note laying on my desk.  One of my students used their free choice computer lab time to type me a note, using the information I had taught them about Microsoft Word.  She was so proud that she remembered how to insert an image into the note!
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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Kamishibai Stories (Paper Theater)


Kamishibai (Paper Theater) is a form of storytelling that originated in Japan and was most popular from the 1920's -1950.  The Kamishibai storyteller would ride into town on their bicycle, gather the children by banging two sticks together (as seen in the first image), sell homemade candy to make a bit of money, then tell a story using the Kamishibai theater attached to their bicycle.  These stories typically had a lesson to teach / moral. After learning about awesome form of writing / storytelling, we wrote these Kamishibai stories with our fourth grade writing buddies and illustrated all of the pictures to accompany the story.  This activity is always a favorite of my students and one they remember for many years. To learn more about Kamishibai visit
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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Read Across America!

For Read Across America Week, every student in our school will be creating posters of their favorite books! We will be hanging these around the school during the month of March to encourage literacy and the enjoyment of reading! These are a sampling of my students' posters!
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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Word Study Watercolors!

I was feeling like word study was getting a bit repetitive so last week I thought I would change it up a bit! The kids really enjoyed painting their spelling words! It also turned out to be a good spacial awareness lesson, trying to fit all of the painted words on the piece of paper!
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