December 30, 2020

Gearing Up for New Years 2021 + TpT SALE!


This time of year has us winding down from the holidays and gearing up to ring in a new year. Although many of us this time of year last year were optimistic about what 2020 would bring, I guess we can say that it turned out quite differently than expected.

With 2021 almost near, it's nevertheless an exciting time to think about all of the possibilities and this excitement makes for a wonderful unit upon returning to class (whether in person or virtual).

No matter if I was teaching 2nd grade or kindergarten, discussing goals is something I love introducing and practicing for the remainder of the year. Setting achievable and measurable goals are beneficial for any student (and adult!) and why not use this opportunity to begin those discussions.

New Years Resolutions & Goals

This has been my tried and true activity for years! This year I gave it a bit of a facelift featuring new clip art and font and adjusted a few details. I'm excited to share this newer version with you all in hopes you'll find it just as fun and engaging as I have.

Setting goals, or having a growth mindset, has been a big calling for teachers in the last few years. The purpose is to get kids "unstuck" from attitudes that can hold them back. A growth mindset is a way of thinking that is optimistic, realistic, and achievable. What better time to review or even introduce this to students!

Resolution writing can be quite critical thinking prompt for students - even in 2nd grade. That's why I recommend scaffolding the concept with read alouds, morning meeting discussions about setting goals/ growth mindsets, and modeling. A few of my favorite read alouds that focus on building a growth mindset are:
  • Giraffe's Can't Dance
  • The Girl Who Never Makes Mistakes
  • Jabari Jumps
  • Ish
There are a ton more out there, but these are great for kinders to begin thinking about what they're good at and what they'd like to be better at or try. After spending some time on this concept, students will be ready to apply it themselves by setting a goal for the new year.

Goal Writing Prompts

Prompts are a great way to help guide students to thinking about themselves and coming up with a goal they'd like to work on. Some kids already have an idea while others may need some help. These prompts count down from 5 to 1 and help narrow down ideas so that students have a ton of goals to choose from to write about. These pages are optional, but always a fun and easy way to get the ball rolling...

Finally, after all of the hard work of brainstorming a goal and going through the writing process, it's time to decorate their party people! A template is available in both boy and girl form and now you have two styles of party hats to choose from. Simply print directly on construction paper or have students color their people, decorate their hats with markers, gems, sequins, and pom-poms, and affix the writing as shown. To add an additional pop of color and pizzaz, use glitter on the glasses for the year - they make a cute display in the classroom!

To top off this little unit, these read alouds about New Years are always fun to have. It's also a great opportunity to expand students' understanding of how different cultures around the world celebrate New Years (especially if you teach Chinese New Year/Lunar New Year in the coming month).

Photo Credit: Primarily Speaking

TpT New Years Sale!

Coming up on December 31st my TpT store is hosting a little sale to celebrate the new year! Automatically save 20% off on everything (including this NYE Craft!) until Jan 3rd! It's a wonderful way to stock up on all of your needs (winter themed resources, math, spring...) as we all head back to the classroom. 

December 24, 2020

Exploring Ancient China | 2nd Grade

Happy New Year everyone!

When I taught second grade, one of the major units we would cover beginning in January is our Ancient China unit. This was pretty lengthy in that I find teaching cultures to be a lot of fun but it can be a lot of material to cover in just a few weeks. In my experience with teaching Ancient China I’ve found that my kids LOVED it - from learning about their history and traditions to how we celebrate Chinese American culture here in the’s just a lot of fun and a lot of learning!

Plus, there's much to be said about how teachers go about teaching culture within the classroom. This is a great opportunity for self-learning and understanding on our part to ensure we're teaching authentically. Invite Chinese-American student families to be a part of your lessons, be intentional about picking Chinese-American authors or stories that tell accurate accounts of history. These little steps help teachers tackle all of the material that a unit on ancient cultures and civilizations bring.

Now onto the workbook!

Because the material can be quite a lot, I've created this Ancient China Workbook. It's a single packet that has been the proven way to keep all of our learning in one place. It also allows my students to practice early note-taking skills, which I think are extremely important! I’m surprised at how well they learn to take notes and locate information for themselves during this unit.

This workbook consists of these major topics we cover during the unit:
  1. Geography 
  2. Climate
  3. Written Language 
  4. Inventions
  5. Contributions
Plus some fun topics that adds to the engagement of learning about Ancient Chinese culture:
  1. Silk
  2. Chinese New Year/ Lunar New Year
  3. The Chinese Zodiac
  4. Clothing and Hair

Utilizing Online Resources - BrainPopJr & Reading Rainbow

When I first began teaching this unit I wanted to incorporate a variety of mediums of which to teach each topic. Some would be lecture and traditional note-taking while others would be a video, a read aloud, or some kind of activity. My school at the time had a subscription to BrainPop and BrainPopJr, of which I used all the time! This workbook was created for students to take notes during the videos instead of just sitting there.

Don't have a subscription? No worries! A teacher answer key is included at the end of the packet as well as a companion .PPT presentation.

The videos I use for this entire unit can be found here:

Map Reading Skills

Learning about maps and how to use/read them are a part of the Social Studies standards early in the school year (at least when I taught in Virginia). It's a skill that has so many benefits and this Ancient China workbook begins with an introduction of where China is geographically located and its landforms and climate.

Next, students begin to dive into Ancient Chinese culture! These pages go on to cover their written language of calligraphy, the importance of silk, and a little mini-lesson on Chinese New Year/Lunar New Year.

One of the best learning days during this unit that year after year students get most excited about is when we discuss the Chinese Zodiac or Chinese Horoscopes. The zodiac comes with its own folktale about the 12 animals that represent the 12 months of the year. Each animal symbolizes a birth year and it is believed by the Chinese that babies born within that year have characteristics that the animal represents.

This is a highly engaging mini-unit and my students have always loved finding their zodiac and discovering a little more about themselves...

Ancient Chinese inventions and contributions can be used and seen even today, which makes this topic so interesting to my young learners. This section of the workbook students learn more about Chinese customs as it relates to clothing and hair styles as well as the inventions that helped contribute to everyday life.

Optional Extension Activity

One thing I added to this revamped version of my packet is an optional student brochure project. I found my first year teaching 2nd grade I had students who enjoyed being challenged and grasped the content pretty quickly. So, I created a project that can either be done with the whole class or as extra credit for those thirsty for more.

I’ve included a parent letter explaining the purpose of the project, an info page for students explaining what’s expected, and a rubric. I’ve also added blank templates of these forms so you can edit them to fit your classroom’s needs!

I’ve loved this unit since I first began teaching it and I hope you find this resource helpful in tackling the content!

December 3, 2020

Winter Break Activity Packet


Winter Break is coming up in just a few weeks for many teachers around the country and what better way to prepare for some much deserved time off than getting ahead on student take-home materials. Whether you're teaching in person or still distance learning, take-home activity packets are easy ways to keep your students engaged during that time away from you.

Parents always have appreciated the option for their child to continue practicing key concepts while on vacation and therefore I have this Kindergarten Winter Activity Packet ready to go just in time for break!

For my students it's all about keeping them engaged with the skills we've been practicing during class time. So, in this packet you'll find:

  • A two week reading log (featuring hot chocolate mugs to color in for every book read)
  • ABC lowercase review
  • Name writing practice using lowercase letters
  • Bucket Filler activity (SEL)
  • ABC "What's Missing" activity
  • Rhyming words practice
  • Sight Word rainbow writing
  • ABC home scavenger hunt
  • Beginning sounds activity
  • Winter Break Adventures writing prompt
  • Story Sequencing graphic organizer
  • Syllables counting
  • and Color By Sight Word activity
Of course there can be plenty more activities added to this packet and teachers can add and take away whatever they need to fit the needs of their individual students/classes. Use this as-is as a complete packet to send off with students before break or weave in your own practice pages to make the ultimate packet.

However, I believe that activity packets should also leave room for fun, days off, and relaxing during the holidays. Students deserve a break just as much as us teachers, so keep that in mind when creating your own take-home packets.

November 28, 2020

Life Lately + TpT Cyber Sale



It's been a minute since I've been able to dedicate some time here and at my TpT shop - my apologies. As you can see we're officially in our third trimester with baby girl which has me between exhaustion and needing to pee every 10 minutes to bursts of energy and productiveness. Nevertheless, it's exciting to be within just a few months before we get to welcome and hold her for the first time.

Now that I'm home 100% and taking a necessary step back from the classroom, you can find me spending a little more time blogging over at my lifestyle blog Life at Red Oak. It's my own little space where I get to share about the other happenings in my life from preparing room for baby, navigating parenthood of a preschooler, sharing recipes and home design ideas, as well as the musings and inspirations that fill my life.

TpT Cyber Sale | Nov 30 - Dec 1

Teachers Pay Teachers will be hosting their annual Cyber Sale and my shop will be participating! You'll be able to receive 20% off everything! I love sales like these because it's a wonderful way to grab amazing resources from pretty amazing teachers that will be sure to engage all the way through winter break!

Interested in seeing what's on sale coming up? Let's take a peek!

Covid-19 Resources

One of my most popular resources this year has been this Covid-19 posters and activities packet. It's everything you'll need in one download - from posters that you can use as a social story or display in your classroom as you review procedures year-round to cut and paste activities that break down safe and unsafe choices while learning on campus. I've personally loved using this with my own students and found it to be a great visual to use while teaching hygiene and hand washing practices.

Shop Covid-19 Resources

Winter Break Activity Packet

Having a variety of activities ready to go for breaks have been a huge time saver and something parents always appreciate. I also have a Fall Break Packet and working on a Spring and Summer break packet to complete this bundle.

Guided Reading Bundles

When I taught second grade I utilized guided reading every day as a part of my literacy block. While I worked with reading groups students would have their reading centers. In order to make that time the most useful I knew I had to be organized and these lesson plan templates as well as activities have been a time saver and helped me really engage in the books and reading skills being taught.

Letter Houses | Phonics Activity

I was inspired by my French colleagues who utilize a similar activity for their phonics instruction and I just HAD to have it for mine in English. These letter houses are great as stand-alone activities, review, or even placed in centers. You can read about how I used them here.

NYE Craft & Goal Setting

Another great way to get kids thinking about goals in the new year! This activity was always a fun way to get kids back into the swing of writing upon returning after winter break. It also helped them set realistic goals...and who doesn't like a good craft?

There's still SO much to choose from - this is just a peek! Be sure to stock up before the rush of the holidays and grab the resources that will help you take your instruction to the next level!

October 22, 2020

Teeth Week + Fall Break


This past week we kickstarted a mini-unit on Dental Health right as we approached our Fall Break. My French colleagues had been teaching all about teeth and taking care of teeth for about a week leading up to my lessons. I love piggy-backing off of what they're teaching because they do a wonderful job of building up students' background knowledge on the subject. Plus, they have the time in their schedules to really dig into the unit and explore the different concepts.


I only get an hour or so Mon-Thurs to reinforce concepts in English and workshop centers are a primary way for me to get in as much content exposure as I can. That's why I'm loving these teeth centers that bridge vocabulary and understanding with ELA objectives!

My favorite Teeth read alouds & activities

To begin my lessons I typically always have some kind of read aloud where students can enjoy a story. We're beginning a unit on sequencing and what better way than to start with brushing teeth?!

Bearenstain Bears Visit the Dentist
This is a great story for my kindergartners because it's so relatable! Many of them are beginning to experience wiggly teeth that are destined to fall out. And everyone has visited the dentist at least a few times so they were all tracking what Sister Bear and Brother Bear were experiencing throughout the story.

After reading the story we discussed why it's important for us to brush our teeth and visit the dentist. I then introduced the skill we'd be working on which is sequencing. I linked our learning to when we discussed washing hands and that we follow an order when we do it. Brushing our teeth follows the same concept: that we follow an order to make sure our teeth are clean.

I love using this FREEBIE from Melissa at The Printable Princess blog. She has so many wonderful resources and this Dental Health Freebie was just what I needed for my whole group lesson on sequencing how to brush our teeth! I used these cards to track our thinking about the order in which we brush, then followed it up with a quick cut and sort activity before releasing them into their centers that day.

Bear's Loose Tooth

Since students have developed a strong understanding at this point about their teeth I begin to transition our thinking to our ELA standards of sequencing events in a story. I love this story because the Bear series is one I use all year long. In this story, Bear has a wiggly tooth and his forest animal friends help him one-by-one to pull it out. 

After our reading we review what sequencing is and how, as readers, we can sequence the events in a story. We discuss how it's important that we remember what happens and that we can retell the story in order from beginning, middle, to end.

As a whole group we practice remembering the order that the animals helped Bear with this FREEBIE from Melissa of First Grade Smiles blog! It's a great way to practice before centers because there are only 4 animals to sort. Quick cutting and sorting! We also discussed what each animal was - like, badger and wren - since these types of animals are new to a lot of my students.

Teeth ELA Workshop Centers

After our whole group lessons we break into our ELA workshop centers. This is 15-20 minutes of independent work time for my students that allows them the time to explore key ELA concepts - including the focus skill for the week. 

Here's a peek at what I've placed in my centers for teeth week!

This activity went into my Creation Station center where students get to use art/coloring to reinforce focus skills. This, of course, related to our teeth unit by sorting the items that make our teeth happy or sad. I had them cut and glue their teeth into their workshop journals instead of hanging in the classroom like the picture shows. 

Another great sorting activity for happy and sad teeth is this Dental Health resource from A Dab of Glue Will Do on Teachers Pay Teachers. She has all kinds of activities that could be used during centers for $7!

I've used this in centers year after year and it's always been a hit. Just place a few toothbrushes in there as erasers and kids are engaged the whole time! It takes some time to prep because of the individual letter pieces but once you do you'll be set for years!

Build a Smile Activity

This center activity comes from Pocket of Preschool and another one I've used over and over again - and yet another that is quite a bit to prep. However, it's great because you can use the teeth to build names (like shown) or sight words! No matter how you choose to incorporate it into your ELA block it's sure to delight the littles.

Another great center for letter identification and reinforcement from Pocket of Preschool!

Other supplemental finds I used during Teeth Week are...

Later in our week we previewed this quick overview of the parts of a tooth from the American Dental Association. It was a great way to visualize the insides of our teeth and explain things such as why our gums bleed when our teeth fall out.

Afterwards we worked together to label the Parts of a Tooth with this FREEBIE diagram from Teaching for Keeps on TpT!

How to Catch a Tooth Fairy

This was just for fun on our last day of the week before break. The kids really enjoyed the story and afterwards we each came up with an idea for our own traps. With a bit of extra time I simply gave students a piece of paper and coloring materials and had them design their traps and shared them with each other.

There are so many ways you could use this story as a part of your teeth unit! It could be a source of inspiration for writing, drawing pictures, labeling, etc. There are so many resources out there that make great companions to this story!

Happy fall break, everyone!

Be sure to catch my SALE going on at my TpT store to grab 20% off everything! Also, if you, too, are heading to fall break be sure to check out these packets I've prepared for Fall and Winter break (Spring and Summer coming soon!!).


October 14, 2020

Fall Break Activity Packet


This week is our last week before heading into our fall break. I've been so impressed these last couple of months with my students because starting the year the way we've had to has been quite the adjustment...for everyone involved. Nonetheless, they've (and we've) earned this break and it doesn't come at a better time.

Us teachers have been buried under assessments, parent-teacher conferences, and I've personally been preparing for my exit as I'll be moving to Texas in November. So, needless to say it's been quite a busy October!

In order to keep students engaged during our week-long fall break I've created this little activity packet that reviews the key ELA concepts we've been learning thus far in class. It's a great option for parents who are looking for additional work and they are activities students are already familiar with. So, let's take a peek!

Fall Break Activity Packet

This packet is full of great review items! The intent for this packet is for students to have about 1-2 activities a day they could do during break. I don't want to overwhelm them with pages and pages of work - students earn their breaks, too! But, it is a great way to equip parents with knowledge of what students have been working on and be able to assist them with any additional practice.

I don't require that students complete their packets nor do I expect them to return it to school. I definitely don't need that added work, however parents can decide how much students complete during their time away from the classroom!

This year we've begun with everyday exposure of rhyming words, beginning sounds, and alphabet knowledge during our morning meeting (see my Alphafriends Phonics Slides!). Students also get a huge chunk of exposure during our weekly workshop centers.

I hope you all find this resource to be helpful in your own classrooms this upcoming break!

October 6, 2020

Celebrate Fall TpT SALE!


If you need to know anything about me or my family it's that we take the fall season very seriously. Being originally from the east coast in Virginia and now a CA (and soon-to-be Texas) transplant, I miss my fall-like weather and watching the leaves change. Although I haven't had a fall like that in quite some time, I do enjoy celebrating nonetheless!

That's why I'm launching a CELEBRATE FALL TpT SALE where my entire shop is 20% off! Yes, 20%! Starting tomorrow and through Friday you can grab all of your favorite resources for 20% off.

I have been busy adding a number of new resources, too, and I can't wait to see how much you enjoy using them with your own classes! My own students have really improved in their various ELA skills since implementing some of these new resources and I know they'll do the same for your students!

So, let's take a peek at all the fun NEW items up for grabs during the sale!

Covid-19 Activities + BUNDLE

This has by-far been the MOST popular resource in my shop ever since I first made it available. This year being so different than any other, I knew I needed a complete resource that can take me through the first few weeks of school. My school is operating under a hybrid model and every day we remind students of what we discussed using this BUNDLE: keeping our distance, washing our hands, and wearing our masks correctly.

You can now pick up this resource as individual activities OR purchase the BUNDLE at a discounted price!

Letter Houses

These Letter Houses are among the newest ELA resources introduced to the shop just this week! I've loved seeing my French colleagues use these in their classes to reinforce letter sounds and knew I wanted to also incorporate it into my ELA workshop centers. It's so easy to prep and students have been doing a great job building on their phonemic awareness!

Nouns! | Picture Sorts, Emergent Reader and More!

This week my class just began a mini-unit on nouns and we've been working together to sort whether the word/picture is a person, place, or thing. This lesson is building upon our growing knowledge about words and the types of words that exist in the English language.

Students have been using this resource both as whole group activities as well as independent work as a part of their workshop centers. The emergent reader is also a great way to reinforce fine motor skills, handwriting, and sight words. It also incorporates labeling, which students have been practicing these last few weeks.

There's so much more on sale tomorrow - this is just a peek! Be sure to head on over to TpT and stock up your shopping cart so that tomorrow morning all of your picks will automatically be at 20% off! Happy shopping an moreso...happy fall!

Let's get going! The SALE begins tomorrow!

October 1, 2020

Letter Houses | A Phonemic Awareness Activity


This year I made a number of new additions to my regular phonics center rotations and I am excited to share with you these Letter Houses! 

Last year I took note of the amazing activities my French kindergarten colleagues used throughout the year and I was completely taken with their maison du lettre, which translates to letter house. They created poster sized houses with the letter of the week at the top and would laminate pictures that would go in the house. They'd use these to introduce letters and sounds and proceed to have a printable copy for students to practice on their own.

Although there are amazing sorts out there for letter sounds, I knew I wanted to try something similar during English class. It's great to find ways to integrate the types of activities that students already complete with their French teacher because it's a process they're already familiar with. Plus, it reinforces their phonemic awareness and abilities to distinguish between letter sounds.

So, today I have the English version of the Letter Houses ready for download!

Letter House Sorts

This resource comes with all houses A-Z along with picture cards that align with each letter and sound. Within the pictures students have to distinguish between the pictures that belong in the house (i.e. share that sound) or not.

All week we spend time with the letter and its sound. I use this Alphafriends resource I created (which has already shown amazing results in terms of phonics retention) at the beginning of each class period along with read alouds and a whole group focus lesson. Because I'm limited in my ELA time I use these houses in my workshop centers so that students manage to complete this activity by the end of the week.

Want to test drive these Letter Houses?

If you're looking to see how much you like these Letter Houses I offer this FREEBIE, which includes houses A-C. It will give you the chance to use them in your classroom and if you love them as much as I do you can easily pick up the full resource for only $3!

I hope you enjoy this amazing activity as much as I have this year! Be sure to check out the rest of my TpT shop to see what other resources you could use in your classroom this year!