Adventures in Tot School: Paper Roll & Button Run


Hello friends!
Welcome to another exciting installment in our Tot School Adventures!
Adventures in Tot School #4:
Paper Roll & Button Run
Here's what you need:
*paper rolls - I used a variety of sizes (toilet paper, paper towel, and wrapping paper)
*buttons
*painters tape
*tray/cookie sheet (I got mine at the Target dollar spot)

Use the painters tape to attach the paper rolls to the wall (you could also use a tri-fold display board if you don't have easily accessible wall space)

Give your toddler some buttons (or pom moms or cotton balls or bouncy balls, etc.) and let him drop them down the paper rolls into the tray.
Voila!
This happy toddler played with his special paper roll & button run for 20 minutes, squealing in delight as the buttons dropped into the tray.
The tray helped keep the buttons contained so we weren't finding runaway buttons for days afterwards :)
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FREE & EDITABLE Book Recommendation Classroom Display

I spend a lot of time at the beginning of the year promoting different books in hopes of peaking my students' interest in reading and trying new books. 

One way I do this is a book recommendation classroom display. I select some of my favorite books (both chapter books and picture books) and display them in the classroom library with these cute little speech bubbles:
Every day I would recommend one or two of the books - I would introduce the book with a brief synopsis, give some background information on the author (other books they might like), and sometimes I read a small snippet to whet their appetite.

These speech bubbles are in black and white for ink-friendly printing - I copied them on bright colorful paper to make them pop! 
Students usually clamor to read the books I've recommended - I usually have to start a list of those who want to borrow each book.

My favorite thing happens when students start bringing me books saying "I think others would love to read this one! Can I put a book recommendation bubble in it?" to which I answer "of course!"
This FREE download includes two resources - one PDF with the pre-written speech bubbles and one Power Point presentation with the editable speech bubbles (full directions included).
Click here to download these FREE book recommendation speech bubbles:
If you download this resource and use it, I'd love it if you would leave feedback :)
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If you use this resource in your classroom I'd love to see it! Send me an e-mail and I'll feature you on my blog! 

No Talking Contest {Boys vs. Girls}


Have you ever read the book No Talking by Andrew Clements?
It's a funny and relatable story about a group of 5th graders who go head-to-head in a battle to see who (girls or boys) can speak the fewest amount of words in two days. In the end, they learn about the importance of thinking before you speak. And doesn't every upper elementary class need to learn that lesson? ;)

You can find this book on amazon, at Barnes and Noble or other book stores, or at your local library. I am not affiliated with this author or book. I just enjoy the book and wanted to create a packet that teachers could easily use in their classroom.


I have always taught the novel Frindle to my 5th graders (you can read more about that here) and last year my kiddos loved the writing style so much I decided to build on their enthusiasm and read another Andrew Clements book. I chose No Talking and to say they loved it would be an understatement! They connected with the characters right away, thought the "no talking challenge" was genius, and learned some important lessons along the way. Sounds like a win-win-win to me!

Throughout the novel study we did a variety of activities to keep the students involved and engaged. As we read the students filled out chapter summary pages for every chapter:
(I've included answer keys for every chapter)
 and cause and effect graphic organizers (for every 5 chapters)
We also noted important character details for each of the main characters (Dave, Lynsey, and Mrs. Hiatt)
We kept track of all the characters (school stories always have a lot) on this graphic organizer:
To hold the students accountable for their reading, I also gave them little quizzes every few days (every 5 chapters) that tested their story recall and comprehension.
We discussed important vocabulary words as we read:
I've included 4 vocabulary word cards for every chapter (80 total) plus some blank cards for you to use if you'd like to include additional words to study.

After the story we completed some interactive notebook foldables in our reading notebook:
Some of my students' favorite things were the extension activities we did after we finished the novel:
Just like Dave, the students researched Mahatma Gandhi:
They worked in pairs to write a funny story, switching off every three words:
And, of course, they had their own No Talking content, boys vs. girls:

We also held debates where the students discussed important topics, 3-words-at-a-time:
And we had a whole class period where the students communicated only by passing notes, just like the students in Mr. Burton's class:

As you can see, we were really invested in the story by the time we finished our unit! The students loved our study and talked about the novel all year long (which is hilarious since it's about not talking!)

If you're looking for a novel study to do with your 5th graders, I highly recommend No Talking by Andrew Clements. And to simplify your lesson planning, you can download my print-and-go 130 page novel study - the perfect supplement to a study of the book, whether you're doing it as a whole-class, a small group (i.e. reading groups or literature circles), or as an individual project. Complete answer keys are included.

Here's a sampling of all that's included:

You can download the preview document for the complete Table of Contents and a list of the Common Core and ELAR TEKS (Texas) standards that are met in this packet.

Ready to simplify your lesson planning?

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Adventures in Tot School: Hammering in Styrofoam

Hello friends!
Welcome to another exciting installment in our Tot School Adventures!
Adventures in Tot School #3:
Hammering in Styrofoam
Here's what you need:
*Styrofoam (I used the top of a styrofoam cooler)
*golf tees (I bought a big pack at Wal-Mart for $3.88
*toy hammer
*hard hat optional :)
My little munchkin channeled his inner Bob the Builder today and practiced hammering nails. 
First he pushed the "nails" (golf tees) into the styrofoam:
 Then he used his hammer to push them further into the styrofoam.
 He kept saying, "more! more!" and "hammered" off and on all morning. He was so proud of his building and can't wait to show Daddy when he comes home!

Today's activity was a big hit - when planning fun and engaging activities this one really hit the nail on the head. (sorry, couldn't resist!)

Stay tuned for more Tot School ideas!

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