2017 - Queen of the First Grade Jungle

Picture Book Love

As you know I am currently on a teaching hiatus to take care of two-year-old son, but this does not mean I have stopped loving #allthebooks!  In fact, I think my obsession has only grown as I closely watch my three children partake in their journey with books and reading. Here is a peek at my at home library: 

And that's only about one-fourth of it!  Okay, enough chatter I would love to talk to you about five books that I think are essential to EVERY classroom!

Book #1Edward the Emu by Sheena Knowles Illustrated by: Rod Clement

Why you need it: BE WHO YOU AREBesides having some of the best illustrations of ANY book I have ever read, I also love the message within the pages.  I chose to read the book on the first day of school every year for the last seven school years, because I want my students to know that who they are deep inside, is exactly who they are supposed to be! This book helps me to set that tone right off the bat!

Summary:  Edward envies the attention that other animals receive in the zoo so he hops from exhibit to exhibit trying to change who he is.  Students sit in suspense as they try to guess which animal Edward will imitate next. A surprise ending will send the kids into a fit of giggles.  If your kids fall for Edward, do not worry! There is a SEQUEL! 

Book #2Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson Illustrated by: E.B. Lewis

Why you need it: WORDS MATTER.  In a world where people type hateful comments or say things without thinking of the repercussions, we need to instill in our children that words are important and that they matter. While saying you are "sorry" can help things get back on the right track, we can't ever fully take away the pain we cause with hurtful words.

Summary: Maya is a new girl in the class. Her clothes are very worn and her toys are old.  She becomes an easy target for the girls at school.  After Maya leaves to go to another new school. Chloe realizes all too late the damage she has caused.  There is no mushy ending to this tale, and I think that was an excellent choice by Woodson. 

Book #3
Iggy Peck by Andrea Beaty  Illustrated by: David Roberts

Why you need it: STEM.  If you have not been living under a rock, you have heard the new push for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) resources in the classroom.  Andrea Beaty is an absolute wizard with words and David Roberts' quirky drawings pull kids into the text.  After reading Iggy Peck, make sure to visit with Rosie Revere and Ada Twist as well! 

Summary: Iggy Peck LOVES to build.  He will use any and all materials to make the most amazing of creations.  He arrives to 2nd grade and immediately feels stifled by his teacher who hates architecture. The horror! She has a change of heart when Iggy uses his engineering skills to rescue his class from a sticky situation!

Book #4:  Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwell  

Why you need it: REPRESENTATION MATTERS.  For a long time I didn't pay attention to the skin color of the characters in my classroom library.  BIG mistake on my part. All of our students deserve to see themselves represented in the pages of picture books (and not just by athletes and social justice leaders either).  Taking that into account, I love the storyline as well! The lesson of the book would serve as a nice analogy about trying new things in life.  Just jump on in the water!

Summary: Jabari is SO excited about jumping off the high dive.  As he begins the long climb up the ladder he begins to doubt himself.  With encouragement from his dad he finds the necessary courage and doesn't regret it!  Cornwell does a wonderful jump off walking you through the range of emotions that Jabari experiences on his adventure. 

Book #5:  I Dissent by Debbie Levy Illustrated by: Elizabeth Baddeley  

Why you need it: ROLE MODELS.  Picture books allow our young students access to people who can serve as wonderful role models in their lives. I also love how the author highlighted Ginsburg's friendship Justice Scalia, who Ginsburg frequently disagreed with on big issues. 

Summary: In 1993, Ruth Bader Ginsburg became the first Jewish woman justice of the Supreme Court.  The author takes us on a journey through her childhood, college years, and marriage.   We learn that Ginsburg was very different from other girls her age and that that's not a bad thing!  

I love all these books so much that several of them are highlighted in units on TPT:
You can find them here:


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Eek! Monsters!

I LOVE Halloween!  I don't know if I have always felt this way or just since I have had kids, but I do know that I think all of it is so much fun!  As soon as I saw October 1st on the calendar I got my house in order!

Another part of Halloween that I enjoy so much is #AllThingsMonsters.  I think monster books and crafts are SO cute!  So when a 5th grade teacher from my former school asked me to create a Monster bulletin board for her, I might have gotten a little giddy!
AHHH! Aren't they precious!  I seriously couldn't love this board more.  

So here are the details:
I used my Cricut to make the top two lines of letters.  I big puffy heart love my Cricut.  The "Monsters" letters are from Dafont.com.  

Do you know how I made this cutie??? It takes ZERO skill.  I just crumbled up tissue paper and stapled it to the board.  Seriously- easiest thing ever.  Then I hot-glued the mega googly eye and mouth that I just quickly cut out of black paper.  The feet are from an Educlips monster that I just printed extra large. 

Book covers you ask?  I just google searched images for books that I know the 5th graders are into right now.  I also might have snuck some of my favorites in to encourage them to try something new!

 If you LOVE Monsters as much as I do there are a couple of things you need to do!

1.  Check out this post my Amy that has a fantastic freebie

2. Go to StorylineOnline to hear Lily Tomlin read Hey That's My Monster.

3. Check out Amy and my October Rooted in Reading units for both 2nd and 3rd grade!

Hope y'all are having a great start to October!

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Broaden Your Horizons, #ReadMoreBooks

If you have been a reader of mine for a while, you know that I am extremely passionate about reading. I spent a large part of my summer reading middle grade and young adult literature so that when Nash and Emmie (my 8 and 9-year-old) asked me for book recommendations, I would be ready.  What I didn't expect was to read so many insightful books that helped me to "walk a mile" is someone else's shoes.  These books sparked an idea for me.  I thought about how I learned new perspective and empathy all while sitting on my front porch.  Reading truly takes you places.  I reached out to Ashley from Teach Create Motivate with my idea and we came up with this t-shirt design.  I believe in this message so much and I know so many of you do too!  Click on the shirt to head to her store.  I can't wait to hear what color you like best! They will only be available for a few days so order now!

I have compiled a list of ten wonderful Middle Grade or Young Adult books that I think ALL teachers should read.  I say "teachers" because I want you to be prepared to recommend these books to your students based on their interests!
(This post does include affiliate links)

1. Wonder- if you haven't read it yet, WHAT are you waiting for?  The writing is exceptional and the lesson takes the message of kindness to a whole different level.  Being kind isn't always comfortable or easy. Wonder provides insight into how a child with disfigurements handles his first experience at a public school with his peers.  The point of view alternates between several different characters to offer additional insight. 

2.  Out of My Mind this is a tough but necessary read.  The story is told through the eyes of a child with extreme intelligence, but also a debilitating condition known as Cerebral Palsy. Melody is unable to talk to her parents, educators, or peers so not many truly understand how smart she is.  I think students will appreciate seeing the world through Melody's eyes. 

3. All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook- All Rise struck a chord with me.  There are not many books out there that identify with students who have incarcerated parents.  I loved that both Perry and his mother are good people trying to make the best of their situations.  I also love the message of "Second Chances" that is interwoven throughout the entire text. Fair warning- this book is very lengthy, but definitely worth it!

4. Fish in a Tree  I have seen this book around for a long time, but never stopped to read it.  Boy, was that a mistake! For teachers- this is a MUST.  We all have students who struggle with reading and Lynda Hunt speaks directly to us in this one.  Ally is a bright, but troubled little girl.  Read to find out how with the help of her loving teacher, she learns to make her situation a little brighter. 

5. Rain Reign  Now we have gotten to debatably my favorite read of the summer. Ann Martin is a BRILLIANT writer who tells teh story of a young girl with autism.  Rose lives alone with her father, but has an uncle close by who advocates for her.  The story is told through Rose's point of view and helps the reader to see what the day in a life of a child with autism might be like.  Be warned- this is a definite tear jerker!

6. The War that Saved My Life  If you want to know how much I like this book, you should see the countdown I have going for the release of the sequal!  This historical fiction centers around the life of Ada, a young girl with a club foot who is abused emotionally and physically.  Not for the faint of heart, Bradley keeps you interested as you hope and wish for Ada's situation to improve.  

7. Number the Stars Have you ever wondered how you would act during World War 2?  Would you hide your Jewish neighbors or be to frighten by the Nazi soldiers?  Number the Stars forces you to face those questions. This is such a popular classic that many of us read this as students ourselves.  The suspenseful writing will have readers begging for more time with their books! 

8. Esperanza Rising Esperanza begins her life as a daughter to a wealthy rancher in Mexico.  After devastating circumstances lead to her needing to leave Mexico, we follow her as she immigrates to the United States for safety reasons. Esperanza must adjust to a new language, culture, social setting, and new life style all at once.  

9. The Hate U Give Relevant, relevant, relevant.  This young adult book is incredibly eye-opening and gut-wrenching.  Starr is an African American teenage girl who lives in a poor neighborhood but goes to private school.  Starr's unusual circumstances allow the readers to see the challenges she faces and her internal struggles. This is definitely a middle school read as there is some sexual content.  

10.  The Giver  The Giver has always been my favorite book, but I hadn't read it in twenty years.  I loved having a new perspective this go around and appreciate this work on a whole new level. It made me think a lot about the freedoms we have in the United States and how with those wonderful freedoms, sometimes we experience pain.  

Phew! That was a lot of reading this summer! I hope you enjoyed following along with me on Instagram (queenof1stjungle). 

Several of these books are included in Brooke and my Storybook STEM Novels growing bundle.  We have five of the ten books completed and are working to finish the rest! You can check these units out by clicking on the picture below. 


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Shark Week SALE with some Freebies!

Have y'all seen the hilarious commercial for Shark Week featuring Seal?  My son and I couldn't stop laughing!

While we were watching last night, I couldn't help but think about writing a blog post with some of my favorite shark goodies in honor of....

Are your students (or YOU) shark obsessed?  We sure are at our house!  Both my boys have shark themed rooms and love any and every opportunity to learn about these fascinating creatures!  That is why Amy and I just knew we had to sneak some shark nonfiction learning into Rooted in Reading 2nd grade.  We decided to put the individual Shark unit and May of Rooted in Reading on sale through Wednesday the 26th. 

Click on the picture to check it out on TPT!

The best part of Shark Week in my 2nd grade classroom was all the AMAZING books you could find!  
{Click on the picture below to access my affiliate link for some pretty awesome shark books on Amazon!}

I loved decorating my door for the week and my kids were absolutely giddy once they saw the door!

We also took some time to watch super short and informative videos on youtube called Shark Academy.  You should definitely check them out!

If you want to purchase ALL of May Rooted in Reading (4 weeks of ELA plans), you can do that HERE

A few months ago I made the freebie below and completely forgot to blog about it! Eek!  Emmie's teacher requested a math game for the students to practice their budding multiplication skills!  

You can find this freebie in my store by clicking the picture below!

I also wanted to direct your attention to two AMAZING blog posts that Amy wrote about her Shark Week.  Click on the picture below to see all the fun her class had!

Oh and Shark STEM?  I think I am in love!

Wow!  I hope you enjoyed all these shark goodies!


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Storybook Stem Novels and a FREEBIE

So I really hope you follow me on instagram... because posting a picture is just so much easier than blogging :)

But hey! Did you look around at my new blog design from Megan?!  I love, love, love it! Eventhough my resources are intended for many other grade levels now, I just can't let go of my original blog name with "first grade" in it. It's been with me for about 6 1/2 years soooo it has stuck!

If you are someone who frequents my Facebook or Instagram, then you know that Brooke from Teach Outside the Box have been SO busy the last three weeks or so.  We had lots of interest from readers in expanding our Storybook Stem units to include older learners, specifically 3rd to 5th grade. So Brooke and I looked and gobs of chapter books for a wide range of ability levels. After doing so, we came up with this list of books!

Seriously have you ever seen such a pretty stack of chapter books in your life?!  Imagine all the life lessons contained!  We have now completed Charlotte's Web, Wonder, and Out of My Mind

Each unit contains three STEM challenges and all printable materials needed to dive in deep with your students. Brooke has done such a fantastic job of providing you with vocabulary, planning guides, and much more. 

She has also included Maker Mat options and research opportunities.  We have included a lot of digital options in these units as we know many of our older students have access to technology to demonstrate learning. 
In terms of literacy instruction each unit comes with a color (for digital use) and a bw version chapter guide for comprehension checks.  These questions can also be used to guide class discussions. 

Anchor charts, literacy printables, and writing opportunities are also included!

These novel units have given me the perfect excuse to stick my nose in a book and not emerge for several hours.  I also love being part of a project that combines science and math with  phenomenal literature.  Let Brooke and I know what y'all think! 

I have created a quick freebie to go along with Out of My Mind that you can snag right here! 


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