Yearlong Pacing Calendar & Science of the Month Questions Answered


Our resources are targeted for the K-2 grade levels.  The vocabulary and science experiments, investigations, and activities are perfect for K-2.  While they would also be great to modify for Pre-K, the cross curricular activities included are not developmentally appropriate for four-year-olds.  The cross-curricular games and activities included target K-2 literacy and math skills.  Many of the skills included can be modified and adapted to meet the needs of both struggling and excelling students.  With many of the cross curricular activities included, we both try to included ideas for modification in the instructions.


Throughout the course of the school year, our science resources will cover all of the science standards for both Common Core and TEKS.   Many of the NGSS science standards are also covered.
The cross curricular activities included cover basic, grade level skills and objectives that are taught throughout the school year and can be easily implemented in either a whole group or small group setting as well as independent and center work.  

The themes included in each month's resource cover MANY of the science standards our students will learn throughout the school year.  Our goal is to ensure that ALL science standards and skills will be covered throughout the course of the year while using different themes to reach each objective and standard.   While the themes may not be science specific (example:  habitats, life cycles, etc.) these concepts ARE COVERED within the week's themes.  Reading through each month's pacing calendar will help you to identify the science skills and objectives that are targeted each week.  


As with anything you teach, the exact sequence of instruction for these resources is not required, rather suggested.  Our science resources are research-based and while we are presenting you with suggestions and ideas, you are the teacher and you know your students needs best!  Not to mention that you have a specific teaching style that fits you!  Do what works best!


For each week of learning, we provide a book list that compliments our activities.  In no way do you HAVE to have these books to successfully implement these activities.  The books suggested are simply that...just suggestions.  As teachers,  we know that not only do mentor texts enhance our instruction and anchor learning for our students, but they also provide a great way for our kids to make connections to their learning and the world around them.  Typically, ANY book (both fiction and non-fiction ) that you have that also covers the same theme and content will work just fine :)  




Yes, yes, and YES!!!!!  And here's what's included.....







We would LOVE to, but quite honestly we aren't going to put ourselves through that, LOL!!!  As we create each resource, we often realize that some concepts and skills turn out to be a little more time consuming to plan and prepare than others.  While we wish this resource were our only commitment, we also have work obligations and families that require quite a bit of our time :)    These resources get take blood, sweat, and tears to create and because they are so time intensive and comprehensive, we want to take the time we need to make it a great fit for you and your classrooms!  We will typically announce the release of the following month's resource a week before it is available for purchase, so follow us on Instagram (Abby's IG /  Cara's IG) to find out when you can expect the next one as we will post teasers throughout the week leading up to the release!


At this very moment, we have no plans on making a yearlong bundle available for purchase anytime soon.  Most likely, we will wait until August - December is completed before bundling all 10 months and making them available for purchase altogether.   If there were any reason we were unable to complete the resources as promised, we would be devastated that we weren't able to fulfill our commitment.  This is the safer way for now. HOWEVER, stay tuned over the next few weeks for a surprise or two we have up our sleeves.

In the meantime, you can see what we have in store for the year.  We are excited about the year's activities to come and can't wait to get those to you!


If you've been on the fence about implementing these resources in your classroom, check out more details HERE: 


STAY TUNED FOR A SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT!!!!!!  

Mystery Messages - The Summer Edition

For these last few weeks of school, I had a few requests to create something that incorporates both math and literacy...something good for review, but not too easy and really engaging.  I mean, that's not hard, right?!  HA!!!  We're all FRIED this time of the year!!!  Of course that's a tough one!  I went through some of my old files and it hit me.  Mystery Messages!!!!  My kids LOVE those!!!  I decided to make them a bit more current and more applicable for this time of the year.  I combined 15 addition, 15 subtraction, and 6 bonus mixed operations  mystery messages for this fun and exciting resource.


My boys love hanging out with me when I'm creating.  Landon was watching me print out some of these Mystery Messages and he was a bit beside himself.  He loved the idea of earning his "badges" to become an addition/subtraction detective.  He is DETERMINED to become a detective before his little brother.  Just a little friendly sibling competition :)



It can be really challenging to keep our kids excited about learning and engaged in their activities when they've got sunshine and lemonade on the brain.  I love creating activities that excite kids and "trick" them into thinking they're playing a game instead of learning.  With Mystery Messages, kids have the opportunity to solve "case files" (addition/subtraction equations corresponding with scrambled messages) .  Each time they solve a case file, they fingerprint their tracking sheet to close the case.  Once they solve 15 addition messages/15 subtraction messages/6 mixed operation messages, they earn a "detective badge".



Landon is well on his way to earning his.  As soon as he's finished with his homework, he heads right to his "case files" (I keep them in a file folder for him) and chooses a mystery to solve.  Right now he's working on earning his addition detective badge. 


I love the idea of using these in the classroom as a morning challenge for morning work or as a fast finisher activity (who can earn their detective badge first?!?!).  They also lend themselves for group review (displayed on the Smartboard or document camera).  One of the teachers with whom I'm working suggested sending these home for the summer to help prevent the dreaded "summer slide".  I included a parent letter with this resource in case you want to do that, too!  I absolutely LOVE that idea!!!

 My sweet Grant loved that idea, too.  He's one that will only do what's required of him when he's at home.  If his teacher says read 1 book for homework, he'll read one book and one book only.  Nothing more, nothing less.  He's a smart little cookie, but he needs motivation.   So, I went ahead and started creating his case files for summer break while it's still on my mind.  Lord knows I'll get lazy if I wait much longer.  He told me he might not want to wait until summer and I have a feeling that he'll be motivated to get a head start once he sees his brother's tracking sheet :)  Whatever works, right?!


If this is something you're interested in for your classroom...or you'd like to send these home for summer review...just click on the pic below for a description and preview...


  It's *almost* Mother's Day and it's sneaking up on us way too fast!  This little packet includes Mother's/Father's Day coupons, graphic organizers, writing prompts, and craftivities.  


Aren't these gift bags precious?!  I sent these home with my kids the last couple of years and they turned out precious!  Whatever artwork and gifts we made for mom were all put in the bag and taken home for Mother's Day before the weekend.  


Here's a little Mother's/Father's Day math freebie for you!!!!


HAPPY FRIYAY!!!!!


The Science of May

Hello friends! How many of you are celebrating 5 more Mondays left in the school year?! 


 I know some teachers who are counting down the days! My boys though?!?! Notsomuch....and if I'm being honest, neither am I. I'm SO grateful they LOVE school as much as they do...and I can attribute that directly to their amazing teachers. They've instilled a love of learning in my boys and that's a debt I'll never be able to repay. But me?!?! Well...I'm not ready to say goodbye to those teachers. God has truly placed the boys exactly where they needed to be. He's given them teachers who not only teach them, but love them, nurture their abilities, challenge them, and hold them to high standards. Gah.



 NOT.READY. 
 Speaking of teachers, next week is Teacher Appreciation Week! Are y'all screaming a not-so-silent 'WOO HOOO!!!!!!"?!?!?! I always loved Teacher Appreciation Week because the kids were SO excited to bring in handwritten notes and their very best illustrations to show me how much they loved me. Those handwritten notes and illustrations were always a highlight of my year. Would you believe I still have notes and pictures saved from my first year teaching 13 years ago?!?!?! Now those babies are in college. DEAR.LORD!!!!! I'm sure their handwriting and drawing skills have changed considerably since then ;) In honor of our favorite teachers, I went ahead and ordered some of these PRECIOUS cookies!!!! Are these not darling?! I can't wait to get them!!! I ordered them from a teacher I found on IG who teaches by day and bakes by night. I love supporting teachers because, well, y'all are my people :)



 Moving right along with the end-of-the-year, Abby and I have completed The Science of May and it's available for purchase! 4 full weeks worth of detailed lesson plans that include book suggestions, visual examples, printables, experiments, craftivities, and MORE!!!! Eeeek!!!! I know I say it every month, but this month might be my favorite :) Hahaha. This month we're covering Dinosaurs, Ocean Life, Ocean Animals, and Kitchen Chemistry! Such fun themes to end the school year, no?!?! 



 Here's how it all breaks down. This pacing calendar details the target vocabulary, Science/Math/Literacy objectives, as well as the book suggestions. I like having a visual overview of my month so that I can start with the end in mind. Always helps me make sure I plan with intention.



 Here's a peek at the Table of Contents for each week. This gives you an idea of what to expect for each week of learning. 

We really do create these units with lots of blood, sweat, and tears.  We get so excited each month to share these with you and hear how so many teachers and kids are loving science now and actually looking forward to it each day.  I've seen it up close and personal in the classrooms I visit and it's so neat to see them being put to use!  Here's what people are saying about May so far!



Thank you, dear teachers, for sharing these little peeks into your classrooms.  We love seeing how you're implementing The Science Of... into your classrooms!  Here's a peek into some classrooms using The Science of April...


If you're interested in May's resource and having all your plans done for you for the next four weeks, you can check out The Science of May by clicking on the pic below....


Stay tuned throughout the next few weeks for lots of freebies and fun activities to compliment these themes!!!  Have a great day!

How To Handle Constructive Criticism as a Teacher

It's that time of the year again.

Time for walk-throughs, observations, evaluations, and appraisals.  Summative meetings with administration and the dreaded feeling of wondering whether you're deemed "proficient"or if you'll score the coveted label of "exceeds expectations".  We ALL want to exceed in teaching because, well, it's what we love.  

As teachers, we take our jobs VERY personally...and rightfully so!  We invest so much of ourselves, our time, and our finances into our classrooms and our students and we sacrifice so much in the process.  It's hard for us to admit that we aren't "perfect" teachers.  We hate to think that we aren't the best at what we feel like we were born to do.  

Some years it's even hard to feel like we'll score in the "needs work" category when we're blessed with an extra challenging class. You know the class I'm talking about.  The one that makes you question your career choice.  The one that whispers in your ear as you exit the school parking lot, "just pick up a bottle of wine and everything will be better tomorrow."  THAT class.

So how do you approach observation season?  Are you excited to show your administration what you do in and out every day?  Or do you fear the idea of being judged?  Do you worry that you'll have behavior issues?  Or that your friends will act like it's their very first day of school?  Are you concerned you won't seem competent enough to not only manage, but teach an entire classroom full of different needs?!  I think we'd all be lying to ourselves if we said those thoughts didn't creep in before appraisals.  I mean, Lord!  I feel like we're always second guessing ourselves as it is!!!

What happens when you do get your evaluation back and it doesn't read the way you anticipated?   Maybe areas where you feel you're really strong were scored lower than you expected.  Or your overall score doesn't reflect what you think you deserve.  Has that ever happened to you?  And if it has, how have you handled it?  

Which statement best fits you?


In this kind of scenario, we have two choices...we can choose to welcome constructive criticism as an invitation to become a better teacher, or we can choose to let it define and destroy us.   



Let me tell y'all something.  When I left the classroom to consult/mentor and present, I found myself in a similar situation with evaluations and appraisals.  Only this time the evaluations and feedback aren't coming from my administration....it's coming from my peers.  Teachers who either like what I have to say, or hate it.  Teachers who either like me, or don't.  Plain and simple.  What I found was that there are three kinds of critique we get after a presentation.  Amazing, glowing reviews (love that, of course), constructive criticism (I actually really like this, too!), and downright not nice, and sometimes really tacky comments (not necessary, in my opinion).  

While I love the amazingly kind and complimentary feedback, I often take it with a grain of salt.  I'm pretty hard on myself and to be totally honest it's really hard for me to accept a compliment at face value.  The tackier comments, in my opinion, aren't necessary.  I mean, it's cool if you don't like me or don't like what I have to say, but how am I supposed to grow if you say things like, "she is irrelevant and boring"; or  "I didn't like the way she styled her hair" (<------hahaha, well, neither did I!  LOL!!!)

But let's talk about the constructive criticism for a minute. Sometimes it's hard to hear, but I LOVE it.  I love it because it helps me to improve!  It helps me to grow.  For example, "Great content, but talks really fast.  Hard to keep up."  <-----THANK YOU!!!!  I do talk fast and I try to be  conscious of this when I'm presenting, but sometimes my fast talking speech gets the best of me.  However, I can GROW from that kind of feedback.  It makes me so much more aware of what I'm doing!   It's hard to improve when you only hear the good and the bad.  I like to take what's in the middle and use that to get better.


I taught with a really wise teacher once who had been in the classroom for 30+ years.  In my eyes, she was the definition of teacher.  She was BORN for the classroom.  She was teacher of the century!  And amazingly, she was constantly seeking feedback.  Not for approval, but to figure out what she could do better or differently to make sure she was meeting the needs of all of her students.  That's something that has stuck with me for years.  She would always say, "If nobody can tell me I'm doing something wrong, I'll keep making the same mistakes!"  LOVE that!!!


So what should you do if you find yourself on the receiving end of unwanted or unexpected constructive criticism this appraisal season?!  Here are some things to keep in mind...

 Don't let any type of criticism...constructive or otherwise...define who you are as a teacher.  Use the constructive criticism to guide you to make changes or improvements where necessary.  As hard as it might be, use it to help you grow!
 I've always had amazing administrators who weren't afraid to say the hard things.  I've also been fortunate enough to teach in schools where my administrators really believed in the power of the constructive criticism sandwich...start with a strength/address the area for improvement/follow up with positive results and observations.  My lessons didn't always go as planned. There were always things I could have done better.   I really appreciated my administrators being able to address those things with me in a constructive way that genuinely made me excited to try something new and different!  I mean, we all know we have room to grow, so why do we take it so personally when it we hear it from someone else?!  Again, use it as a springboard for growth!

 Of course, you won't always agree with the evaluation you might get.  I know of many teachers whose less than stellar appraisals were unwarranted, yet they handled their summatives with grace and respect.  All that to be said, it's important to set aside the disrespect if you do disagree.  Not only is it unprofessional, but it gives off that "I'm right, you're wrong" vibe and makes it seem like you aren't open to any suggestions other than your own :)  When you're the only person you want to listen to, you're limited to your own perspective.  It's okay to disagree, just be sure you aren't being disrespectful when communicating your opposition.
Acknowledge what your administrator is communicating and accept what he/she says.  I honestly think that...for the most part...our administrators give us constructive criticism because they truly want us to be successful and not just for ourselves, but for our kids!  They want to make sure our kids are getting the best we have to give.  So why would I not want to take what I learn and use it to make me a better version of myself?!  After all, that's the goal, right?!  Not to do better than anyone else, but to be a better version of the teacher/presenter  I was the day before.  When you know better, you do better.


***Before I go, I do want to mention that I'm in Texas and my appraisal system here might be vastly different than the appraisal and evaluation system in your area.  I haven't taught in any schools where my performance was solely evaluated based on the performance of my students.  My evaluations were usually given after a series of three, 15 minute walk throughs and one 45 minute formal observation.  We're evaluated based 51 criteria within eight domains reflecting the Proficiencies for Learner-Centered Instruction (Texas teachers know this as PDAS).  Hope that helps you understand where I'm coming from! ***

HAPPY APPRAISAL SEASON ;)

Earth Day

Earth Day has always been one of my favorite events to celebrate with my school babies.  There's just something about it.  I love the sense of camaraderie we gain through our teamwork as we clean up trash around the school grounds, pay more attention to our recycling efforts, and love our Earth just a little more than we already do.  

As usual, this time of the year seems to speed by quickly and these events sort of pop up without giving us much time to plan or prep.  I mean, it's not like we have a MILLION other things going on, right?!  HA!!!  I thought this would be great time to remind us of some fun Earth Day activities for our primary babies and help you {maybe} try to plan ahead this year!!!  


I always like to stock my library with lots and lots of Earth Day friendly books around this time of the year.  I put them out a couple of weeks ahead of time so that the kids can do their own perusing.  When we start our thematic unit of study, I'll read several of them aloud.  I like that the kids are familiar with them prior to reading.  These are some of my favorite Earth Day books...

After we read a few of these books, we make our anchor charts.  Things that help the Earth and things that harm the Earth.  These stay up in the room as a visual for a few weeks after Earth Day.  The kids love using them as a reference for their writing.


Remember what I said about the camaraderie and cooperation earlier?!  This is one of those group projects we displayed in the hallway and absolutely LOVED putting together!!!!  We brainstormed lots of different ways we could help the Earth first and then I typed them out and we reviewed what we said as we splashed them on the display.  Then the kids painted their hands blue and green and added their handprints to the "Earth".  I loved this!


This is another litte writing craftivity I love to incorporate into our learning.  I think I've been doing this one since the first year I started teaching!  I'm shocked I'm not tired of it yet!  Really, I love anything with their sweet handprints!!!



Earth Day is a great time to reinforce and/or introduce the concept of cause & effect.  We reinforced this skill using this freebie.  It was a great way for me to assess not only my kid's understanding of cause and effect, but it also gave me a glimpse into their understanding about what we learned about Earth Day.


We love singing this song, too!  Each of my kids gets a copy of this song for their poetry folders and then I print it out on sentence strips for our poetry center as well.  My kids have access to this song/poem for a couple of weeks....manipulating the words, one-to-one correspondence, tracking print, rhyming, fluency, etc.  This is in my What a Wonderful World Earth Day packet, but you can grab it for free here.  Just click on the pic.


I mentioned my What a Wonderful World Earth Day packet and here are a few activities we do from using this resource.

My kids loved "tossing the trash" in their word work center!!  I just printed off the real/nonsense word cards and sorting labels and then crumpled them all up and placed them in a container.  THe kids have to uncrumple (is that even a word???) the word cards and determine which words are real and which are nonsense and then sort accordingly.  I let them toss the trash into the corresponding bins and they thought this was a hoot!  


I think my favorite addition to my classroom this time of the year is my little Compost Critter.  We talk about the idea of composting and learn all about what it is and how to do it and then we create this little critter who will show us how compost is made.  It's a pretty cool process.  It takes a while for the material to turn into compost, but the kids love being able to observe the changes.  Once it's all ready, we use the compost to plant our plants :)  The kids LOVE this!!!!


I found the book, I Can Save the Earth, a few years back and use that as a springboard for this writing craftivity.



We also have a "GREEN DAY" as a culminating activity to our learning.  We actually have our Green Day ON Earth Day and this is a perfect way to tie in all of our learning and have loads of fun at the same time.   I send home a parent note requesting different items and for the entire day my kids are engaged in fun, hands-on (academic!!!) Earth Day activities.  I can't imagine doing it a different way now!!  All the details are in my Earth Day packet....along with family homework, too!

For this week only, you can grab this resource on sale!
WAS $10
THIS WEEK ONLY (week of 4/11/16): $6



I've also collaborated with Abby from The Inspired Apple to bring you four weeks work of cross curricular lesson plans chock full of science experiments and math/ela extension activities. The Science of April includes a week-long Earth day study full of science notebook activities, experiments, vocabulary lessons, and math/ela extensions.  These two resources compliment each other beautifully and would be great for making learning about Earth Day fun and meaningful!

Here's a peek....



You can grab it here: 





These are two of my favorite Earth Day experiments.  They're perfect for our primary kids and really help to bring these concepts to life! 





My favorite thing about Earth Day is hearing what my own two boys have to say about it when they get home from school that day.  Last year they became SO very conscientious about recycling and conserving water.  My oldest came home and told me he was DONE with baths!!!  "Mom..baths use SO many gallons of water.  I'm a big boy...I can totally take showers instead from now on!"  

I about died.  

And let me tell you what.  That's all both boys take anymore....showers.  Every now and again I'll suggest a bubble bath...because, FUN....and they insist that's too much wasted water.  I really hope they're always this mindful of different things when they get older!!!  
Conserving energy however is totally different struggle ;)

Now let's take care of a little business.
If you own my Write the Room yearlong bundle, please make sure you download the April edition as it's been added to the pack.  May is coming soon, so be on the lookout!!!


And if you're right in the middle of teaching and reviewing r-controlled vowels like we are, then here's a little something for your files.  These  R-Conrolled Vowel Flip Strips are perfect for reviewing and reinforcing these spelling patterns!!!