Thursday, September 25, 2014

Five Little Monkeys

I just uploaded my newest unit to TPT and I'm so excited because it comes with a song and video by Jack Hartmann.  You can click on the image above to view the unit on TPT.

This unit is full of literacy, math and science activities.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Book Talk Tuesday: Books about Apples

It is pure craziness in my house this week.  My baby is in full swing college basketball mode and we've had a lot of late nights.  As I was trying to think about which book I wanted to feature this week I came across this post over at No Time for and thought why reinvent the wheel?  They already have an amazing line up of great to read books to wind down the month of September.  So click on the image above to hop on over and check out their line up of books.
The Apple Pie Tree is one of my favorites!  Don't forget to come back and link up!!

Monday, September 22, 2014

A 'Loophole' for Learning! Guest post by Katie Garner

"What's used together becomes fused together in the brain!"
As teachers, it's so important that we understand the "why" behind the "how" with regard to why we teach, what we teach, and what it is that makes a particular lesson so effective.

“When memories are supported by greater coordination between different parts of the brain, it’s a sign that they are going to last longer..... the greater the distribution of signaling, the stronger the memory takes hold in our brain."

The excerpt from an article published by New York University (and pinned to my "Brain Bits" Pinterest Board here)  is a great example of how we can use the ongoing research findings on learning and the brain to strengthen our teaching and concentrate our efforts with regard to the strategies that we use.

This week on my SECRET STORIES Session Blog, I invited back a wonderful first grade teacher (Mrs. Mac) to guest post about starting up the Secrets with a brand new new crop of students. In-conjunction with her post, I took the opportunity to dive a bit more deeply into some of these "loopholes for learning" that the brain research provides.

As I am guest here on Mrs. Jump's Blog, it would get a bit confusing for me to post Mrs. Mac's post here, but I do want to share some of the video clips. Mrs. Mac's own descriptions of her students, class, and beginning of the year strategies for starting up the Secrets are the other half of this post, and you can read the whole thing in its entirety here.

Like most all first grade classes at the beginning of a new school year, students are likely to be all over the map, academically.  The first graders in the video clips below are no different, with two out of thirty identified as "readers" at the start of first grade.  

In the video clips, the students are using the SECRET STORIES they've just learned as a means to access the sounds of the long and short vowel.

While the more experienced students get the trickier sounds of the short vowels by simply retelling the story (some of which are literal dissertations!) most of these students can be seen using "alternative routes" to accessing the sounds.  

Those with less experience, including those with only limited English rely more strongly on the visuals (Secret Stories posters) and body motions/ gestures (Secret Stories actions) for successful retrieval of the short vowel sounds.

The bottom line however, according to Mrs. Mac, "is that ALL of my babies get the sounds!" 

The Secrets are like little "bridges" that all learners can easily and effortlessly find their way across- regardless of academic level, readiness issues, language background, or past experience.

*Note that all of the brain-based Secret 'tricks' for hooking into the individual vowel sounds and using the Mommy E to discern which sound they will make in words work just as well with PreK and Kindergartners as with the first graders shown below!  Want proof?  Click here and here!

 Superhero A- 
"My Class" SECRET STORIES Guided Reader
Superhero E- 

Superhero I-

Superhero O-
Superhero U-
The SECRET STORIES Vertical Alphabet


Here's where I want to highlight the research showing that "what's used together becomes fused together" in the brain....

These students have non-consciously 'intertwined' the story (auditory) with the graphic (visual) with the gesture (physical)... each providing the learner with an alternative "route back" to the sound or skill, and all of which are processed and stored in a different area of the brain.

Connections to the Secrets are supported between different parts of the learners' brain, which means that the skills are not only easier to acquire, but will last longer and be easier for them to retrieve

The research shows that "The greater the distribution of signaling between the different parts of the brain, the stronger the memory takes hold!" 

With each retelling of a Secret, these alternate routes become more deeply "embedded" into the learner! 
"Mommy E"

Kids can relate to the idea that "when the cats away, the mice will play"..... or in Secret Stories terms, "when Mommy e is away, the vowels will play!"  

While they may get a little "short and lazy" when Mommy's not around, they know that when she is,  they have to do as their told, which for the vowels means to "say their names!"

Because the Mommy-e Secret has been embedded in learners already-existing 'social/emotive' context (i.e. "when Mommy's there, I do what I'm told, but when she's not, I can get lazy!").   

By connecting the abstract concept of silent e determining the sound of the nearby vowel, this traditionally considered 'advanced skill' becomes easily accessible even to preschoolers. 

And this Secret doesn't end here, as sometimes Mommy "just has to get out of the house" and so she will put a "Babysitter Vowel in charge...."  (more on the "Babysitter Vowels" in coming posts!)

With the ability to understand, learners are more readily able to make decisions when working with text, and we can navigate their decision-making through this newly established, "social/emotive-based" thinking-construct!

This is how hard phonics skills become easy, as we are wrapping up the content in such a way that the brain doesn't perceive them as skills, but as "common-sense extensions" of what's already familiar and understood!

Mommy E Anchor in Common Core Essential Questions for 1st

"Writing Like they Read" with Mommy E!

If you would like to start sharing the Superhero Vowel Secrets with your class, but don't have the  complete SECRET STORIES Classroom Set, you can check out the The SECRETS of the Superhero Vowels on TpT, which targets only the vowels. 

Because Mommy E, Sneaky Y, and the Babysitter Vowels all have an affect on the sound that vowels will make in words, these anchors are also included in the vowel pack, as well as the Beethoven Blends/ Blender Pack for some additional practice incorporating the blends with the changing vowel sounds.

As these pack contains these graphic anchors in digital, reproducible formats, you can print them in  various sizes for different purposes, making them an ideal companion to the SECRET STORIES Class Set!
The SECRETS of the Superhero Vowels Pack on TpT
Once you begin telling Secrets  there's no turning back for you and your students, as they will start questioning EVERYTHING about the letters and the sounds that they're making! 

Whenever and wherever letters are observed as not "doing what they should," students will demand to know its "secret" just BE PREPARED!

And one last thing I'd like to add to my already 'too-long' post!  
I have posted a freebie at the bottom of Mrs. Mac's guest post on my blog that you can download, as well as quick VLOG explaining how to use it. You can access them here.  

And don't forget to enter this month's SECRET STORIES Giveaway!  Just look for the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post, and remember that you must be subscribed to my blog to win.

Warm Regards!

 Immediately after finishing this post, I received the following email from Mrs. Mac, 
which was not only too cute, but it had to do with Mrs. Jump, 
and so I just and to share it here on her blog....
I had to was the first day that the Secret Stories showed up in their writing INDEPENDENTLY!!!!  I am using Deanna Jump and Dedee Willis' Writing Through the Years  and I had three different students raise their hand as if it were an emergency- one had discovered a "Sneaky Y" while writing the word "Mickey" .... and the other two had noticed the "er" and "ir" while spelling the words  "dirty" and "number" ....... And sooooo it begins....(insert evil laugh here) ;)


Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, September 19, 2014

Aye me Hearties! Pirate Freebie and Booty Sale

Ahoy, me Hearties!

Today is 'International Talk Like a Pirate Day'! To celebrate, I have joined with some friends to give you the chance to find lots of pirate booty!

Each blog will have some different treasure for you to find!

I want to share with you, a fun spin and dob (or color) game with a pirate theme.

You can find it by clicking on the image below, and download it from Google Drive:

You can also click on the image below to find my whole TpT store on sale until midnight tomorrow night! Blimey, that is good news!

Don't forget to pillage some other bloggers buccaneer's posts for more great teaching treasures!

Thanks for stopping by! 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Book Talk Tuesday: Nelly Gnu and Daddy Too

What do you do when you have a big box?
In this heartwarming story Nelly Gnu and her dad make a beautiful playhouse out of the box.

This beautiful book takes you through the process step by step as Nelly and her daddy make the playhouse.  (this would be a great mentor text for procedural writing)

When Nellie and her dad go to the store to buy paint for the playhouse 
she gets lost.  Uh-oh!  

Thankfully Daddy Gnu is right there to make everything okay and they make it home to paint the box.

This book is by the bestselling author of the Llama Llama books and they are every bit as endearing.
The rhyming words, beautiful illustrations and opportunities for kids to make text to self connections with the story are sure to have them asking you to read it again and again.

Here is a sample of the text:

"Nelly loves her Daddy Gnu. He always knows just what to do.

A great big box, some tape, and string-Daddy can make anything!

First they measure. Then they draw. Nelly tapes, and Daddy saws..

Then, they add a little glue. Nelly and her Daddy Gnu!

A perfect little house for one! But Nelly thinks it's not quite done....

It needs some flowers, just a few. Time to shop with Daddy Gnu.

A big adventure to the store! Plants and hammers, ladders, more.

Would she like a better view? Take a ride on Dady Gnu!", (Here is a picture of Nelly on her daddy's shoulders.)

And so the story goes, they look for paint, brushes and other items to complete the house. Nelly goes on to talk about how much fun it is to spend time with her daddy. However, at one point she becomes separated from her dad and gets a little scared. But of course he's not far away and Nelly is all smiles again.

The end of the story goes like this:

"Paint the house with brick designs. Big bright flowers, climbing vines.(Picture of them painting the house together.)

There's nothing that these two can't do-Nelly and her Daddy Gnu.

Time for dinner, Daddy cooks. Then they read their favorite books. (Picture of both sitting in a chair together while daddy is reading to Nelly)

Every night and every day, Daddy makes it all OK.

He always knows just what to do...Nelly's Daddy, Daddy Gnu"

Thanks so much for joining me for Book Talk Tuesday!  I hope that you will consider linking up!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Dab of Learning Fun {FREEBIE}

Kids LOVE using bingo markers {daubers, do a dot markers...whatever you want to call them} so this little packet is the perfect way to get your Littles to practice and review basic skills.
The pages in this packet cover a wide variety of skills so they can be used throughout the year.
Here are a few of the pages that are included.

After I created the packet I decided to make a few more sheets to share with you so that your little ones could have a DAB of learning fun!
You can click on the image below to download the freebies!

One more day and you get to sleep in!!! YAY!!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Book Talk Tuesday: You Are (NOT) Small

Two fuzzy creatures can't agree on who is small and who is big, until a couple of surprise guests show up, settling it once and for all!  This book is great for teaching concepts such as opposites and size.  It also points out that size is relative because in this book it's all about who is standing next to


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