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FREE Coloring Fun for Catholic Schools Week (or Any Time!)

Happy Catholic Schools Week to all the Catholic school teachers out there! If you work in a Catholic school, this week typically brings special events, spirit days, a little bit of chaos, and LOTS of fun.

To celebrate Catholic Schools Week, I developed a little freebie for you over at my Teachers Pay Teachers store! It’s a coloring page that lists the names of some of the books of the Bible, and students need to color the shapes with Old Testament Books red and the shapes with New Testament Books pink. The resulting picture will be a colorful heart – to remind the kids of God’s great love for them!

I figured it would work well during Catholic Schools Week, OR as a Christian-themed Valentine’s Day activity, OR as an “any time” activity for your classroom, religious ed program, or homeschool. Click the cover image below to pop over to my store and get your freebie! 🙂

Or click here to see ALL the freebies at my Teachers Pay Teachers store!

Thanks so much for visiting my blog today! May God bless you! 🙂

(More!) Freebies for Your School Library on Teachers Pay Teachers!

Happy New Year, everyone! If two of your New Year’s resolutions for 2018 are to save money and to treat your students to brand new resources in your school library, you definitely found the right place to start!

I wrote a post a few months ago with links to over 40 free downloads from Teachers Pay Teachers that can be used in the school library, and so far, it’s been the most visited post on my blog. I have been digging up more awesome free Teachers Pay Teachers products lately, and since we’re now almost halfway through the school year, I figured you guys might be ready for another list of fabulous freebies!

I tend to get a little enthusiastic when I go on my free download sprees…I apologize in advance if I seem a bit giddy. (But…ALL THIS STUFF IS FREE! FREE! FREE! IT COSTS NO MONEY!)

Are you ready to shop til you drop? (Or, in this case, point and click a lot of times?)

Parts of a Book / Text Features

This awesome product by Wife Teacher Mommy will help you teach your students about text features! It includes a great Venn diagram that will help kids understand the similarities and differences between a table of contents and an index!

I downloaded this freebie by Anderson Academics for my students when we were reviewing using a glossary. It includes a nonfiction article about bats complete with a little cute mini glossary, so it gave my students good practice working with an informational text and referring to the glossary as needed. Love it!

Fiction/Nonfiction

Here is a cute freebie by inourlibrary that you can use to help your students understand the difference between fiction and nonfiction!

Reference Books

When it’s time to introduce different books in the reference section of your library, save time by using this already-made PowerPoint presentation by Jessi Olmsted!

And try this resource by Oak Roots and Arrows! It includes signs that explain each type of reference book!

Download this free worksheet by The Introvert Teacher to give your kids some practice with their dictionary skills!

And for more dictionary practice, how about a free dictionary packet by Struggling Learner Resources?!

Makerspace

Mrs. J in the Library has put together this fabulous product to help you get your students started using littleBits in your library makerspace!

Avoiding Plagiarism / Citing Sources

Here is a cool slide show game by Created for Learning to teach your students about plagiarism!

And this phenomenal guide to the MLA format by Presto Plans will help your students understand the right way to cite their sources!

Using a Card Catalog

Check out this product by The LibraryFox that will give your kids a chance to practice using their online card catalog!

And to give your students more practice with the card catalog, here’s a freebie by Library Princess!

Poetry

Whoa! This freebie by Page by Paige is bursting at the seams with poetry information and activities!

Get your school involved in Poem in Your Pocket Day with this free resource by More Than a Worksheet!

Library Decor

Is it time to add something new to those library walls? Just download, print, and hang these Dewey Decimal signs by Little Library of Learning!

Or this pack of reading-themed signs by Aylin Claahsen!

Or this cute library sign by Hello Literacy!

Or this library rules banner by Mister Librarian!

Or these signs by Staying Cool in the Library that encourage students to have a growth mindset!

Or this owl-themed reading sign by Kelly Benefield!

Or this “Reading is Thinking” banner by Sarah Barnett – Mrs. B First Grade!

Or these signs with inspirational quotes by ATBOT the Book Bug!

Or…all of them (because…they’re FREE!)

Extension Activities Designed for Specific Picture Books

If you read How Santa Got His Job by Stephen Krensky with your students, download this free resource by The Library Patch!

This resource by Trina Deboree Teaching and Learning includes some terrific ideas and activities to go with Can I Play Too? by Mo Willems!

Every year, I read Read It, Don’t Eat It! by Ian Schoenherr with my first grade students, so I was thrilled to find this resource by The Librarian’s Literature Links that I can use with the kids this year!

This cute booklet by Staying Cool in the Library goes with the popular picture book Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathman!

This sequencing activity by Little Miss Librarian is designed to be used with another great library read aloud: Book! Book! Book! by Deborah Bruss!

This awesome freebie by Kathy Goosev Howell will knock your socks off! It has activities to go with not one, not two, not three, but SEVENTEEN picture books. Definitely something for everyone in this free product!

Seasonal/Holiday Activities

For Groundhog Day, your students can color these free bookmarks by Let’s Learn S’more!

Thanks to Sweetest Seconds in a Day, your students can practice their ABC order with this cute Valentine’s Day themed product!

And here are some fantastic Valentine’s Day themed bookmarks by Luv2Educate for your students to color!

This Valentine’s Day resource (by me!) will help your students practice differentiating between a fiction call number and a nonfiction call number!

Cover images by Krista Wallden and Kim’s Creations

For St. Patrick’s Day, More Than a Worksheet has a free research scavenger hunt for your students!

And ATBOT the Book Bug has some really fun St. Patrick’s Day bookmarks!

The unCommon Library has created a fun, free, fall-themed game for your library students to play – The Dewey Dash!

Little Library Learners’ pack of Thanksgiving-themed library resources is so cute! I didn’t discover this product until after Thanksgiving, but I will definitely have it on hand for next year!

Fun Stuff

It’s always great to have reading-themed coloring pages kicking around for those kids who finish their work quickly, and here’s a fantastic free set of coloring pages by Kathryn Garcia – Made for Learning.

And here are some superhero-themed bookmarks by A Sunny Day in First Grade for your students to decorate!

This product by Lake Loon Learning Resources consists of little signs that say things like, “Pick me! Pick me!” and “Read me. I’m great!” You can print them out and stick them next to books on your library shelf to get kids interested in them! Such a creative and fun idea!

And here we have a library-themed song by Debbie Clement – complete with the audio file and the lyrics! So cute!

Clip Art

I am so excited about this find! Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Designs has amazing free clip art sets to go with popular nursery rhymes, including a free Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe set, a free Hey Diddle Diddle set, and a free Baa Baa Black Sheep set.  I can’t believe how adorable (and free!) they are!

And I love this free book clip art by Molly Tillyer! And this one too!  Colorful, happy books that you can use in your colorful, happy library!

I hope your library bag o’ tricks is overflowing with new stuff! 🙂

And next time that bag needs a little more replenishing, don’t forget to visit my store, and the Teachers Pay Teachers stores of all the other teacher-authors featured today, to stock up!

**Thank you so much to the Teachers Pay Teachers teacher-authors who gave me permission to include their free resources in this post! For more freebies, check out my other post about Freebies for your School Library, and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss the next one!**

My Spectacular, World-Famous Fiction and Nonfiction Song!

Well hello! You’ve stopped by at a fabulous time because I am about to reveal my SPECTACULAR, WORLD-FAMOUS Fiction and Nonfiction Song!

(Please keep in mind that “spectacular” might be a tad bit generous, and that it is only “world-famous” because I am publishing it on this blog, right now, which could, in theory, be read by people living around the world.)

I sing this in my school library when it’s time to review the difference between fiction and nonfiction. I teach fiction and nonfiction in kindergarten library each year in December, so I borrowed the “Jingle Bells” tune when I wrote the lyrics for this little gem.

Ahem. Here we go!

 

Fun, right? (By the way, I did have to adjust the Jingle Bells melody a little to make it work, so “We” in lines 2 and 6 is a little grace note, and “don’t want them to end” and “love nonfiction too” pick up the “jingle all the way,” if that makes sense.)

Feel free to sing it in your classroom or library to help your students learn the difference between fiction and nonfiction!

(Sorry, but please DO NOT feel free to make a recording of it and/or turn this song into the top forty hit that it clearly has the potential to be.  Hee hee.) 🙂

Thankful for You!

Hi there! As we approach Thanksgiving (what?! just two more weeks?!?!), my list of things to be thankful for is even longer this year because I am so grateful for everyone who has visited my TpT store or my blog.

That includes you! 🙂

Blogging and TpTing are still new for me, but so far so great. I really enjoy writing these posts, creating teaching resources, and meeting new people along the way. It’s so surreal to check the stats and find out that people around the world have clicked over to check out this very blog!

Here’s an itty bitty token of my appreciation – a free teaching resource! I’m working on parts of a book with one of my library classes, so I made a Thanksgiving-themed printable worksheet about using an index.
Go ahead and grab a copy by clicking here!

Graphics by Mrs. Naufal’s Nook

I’m also sharing the gratitude love over at my Teachers Pay Teachers store by having a 15% off sale from now until November 12th. Feel free to check it out!

May God bless you and your family this Thanksgiving (and always)! 🙂

Boo! A Book Care Freebie for You!

Just a short post today to say “hi!” – and “BOO!” – and give away a free library printable!

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I could never have too many resources for teaching about proper library book care! In kindergarten and first grade, I pepper my year with lots of reminders about how to take care of a library book, so it’s great to have resources that will work at different times of the year. With Halloween right around the corner, I put this worksheet together for my first graders:

Clip art by Chadelel’s Design

Click here to download it!

For an easy peasy library lesson, you could just read a spooky story, remind your students not to scare their librarian with bad book care choices, and put them to work on the worksheet during book checkout time. 🙂

Enjoy! 🙂

 

Fall is in Full Swing in the School Library!

Happy Fall to all you autumn enthusiasts out there! A lot of people seem to LOVE this season, but as for me, I’m typically not really into fall. I am the first to admit that I’m a wimp, so I can’t really handle any spooky, icky Halloween stuff, AND I’m not a fan of cooler weather paired with shorter days.

Of course, on the bright side, fall means I do occasionally get to eat apple crisp…AND I get to make jack-o’-lanterns out of library books.

(A shout out to all the creative librarians out there whose book display designs have brightened my day by showing up on my Pinterest feed, including Sunnyvale Public Library, iworkatapubliclibrary.com and Swiss Army Librarian. Thanks for sharing your ideas and inspiring me to make my own book pumpkin.) 🙂

And this year, I can add one more thing to autumn’s “YAY!” column: I get to make fall-themed products for my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

So far, I’ve created two autumn-themed products…

Fall-Themed Library Skills Worksheets for Grades K-2
Cover artwork for this product is by Krista Wallden and gradeonederful.com

My K-2 Library Skills pack includes printable worksheets to go along with your library lessons on ABC order, library behavior and etiquette, caring for library books, what is an illustrator?, and using a title page.

My personal favorite worksheet in the pack is this one, which asks students to color good book care choices yellow and bad book care choices orange, resulting in a jack-o’-lantern.

Fall-Themed Library Skills Resources for Grades 3-5
Cover artwork for this product is by gradeonederful.com

For your upper elementary students, I just completed this packet of resources that you can use with your lessons on parts of a book, arranging fiction books, and making a Works Cited page in MLA format.

Feel free to snuggle up, enjoy a pumpkin-flavored treat, and check out my fall products and everything else at my TpT store! 🙂

Fantastic Read Alouds for First Graders

 

(Disclosure: This blog post contains affiliate links, so if you click through and make a purchase, I will receive compensation at no additional cost to you.)

Reading aloud to my students is one of my favorite parts of being a school librarian. I love trying out funny voices and dramatic faces and making the kids laugh. As a result, I typically pick light and fun books to share with my students. While I admit that many of my read alouds might not be great literature, I think that one of my primary goals of reading aloud is to sell reading as something that can rival video games and Netflix in terms of entertainment value. And based on the enthusiasm I saw with some of these read alouds, I think I’m on the right track!

Back in June, I asked the first graders to name their favorite picture books that we had read together in library class throughout the year, and the zany, silly ones were well-represented among the ones they chose. Here are their picks.

The Pigeon Wants a Puppy! by Mo Willems

This book shows the quirky genius of Mo Willems at its best with his version of the classic story of “be careful what you wish for.”

The Pigeon Wants a Puppy

Mr. Wiggle’s Book by Paula M. Craig and Carol L. Thompson

I read this with kindergarten, first grade, and second grade every year as the first read aloud of the year in order to get kids thinking about how they should treat the library books they are about to check out. You would think I’d get groans from the kids who have already heard it, but actually, nope. The kids look forward to hearing this story at the beginning of each school year, even in second grade when it’s their third listen. It’s out of print, so if you can get your hands on a copy, hang on to it!

Pumpkin Trouble by Jan Thomas

This story is perfect for this time of year. The kids find it hilarious, and it’s a very short book which works well for a library class since us librarian-folks are usually trying to squeeze a read aloud, a lesson, an activity, and book checkout into a short amount of time.

Pumpkin Trouble

Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast by Josh Funk

I just read this book with my new first graders and they loved it as much as last year’s group. I love (attempting) to do different character voices and accents. In my version of the read aloud, I decided that Lady Pancake speaks with a bit of a Southern drawl, while Sir French Toast obviously has a French accent (my rendition sounds kind of like Lumiere from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast…well, at least, that is what I’m going for). It’s one of those situations where I’m not quite sure if they are laughing at me or with me, but the kids like the accents and love this book!

Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast

Burger Boy by Alan Durant

Benny overdoes it with the hamburgers, spontaneously transforms into a large hamburger, and has a chaotic adventure. I’m not sure exactly why first graders love the idea of a person turning into food, but my first graders found this book delectable.

Chocolatina by Erik Kraft

This story is similar to Burger Boy, but Tina’s got more of a sweet tooth, and one day she wakes up to find herself head-to-toe chocolate. Read it after Burger Boy for a perfect opportunity for compare and contrast.


Chocolatina

There Are Cats in this Book! by Viviane Schwarz

This one is a fun and interactive book that combines cute kitties and flaps to flip. I had a library volunteer read it to smaller groups of kids so that they could all take turns lifting the flaps. They loved it!

There Are Cats in This Book

 

Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown

Warning: Do not read this one to the kids unless you are okay with A LOT of laughter. It’s the story of a bear who finds a little boy and decides to keep him as a pet, and ever since I discovered it a few years ago, it has definitely been a fave every time I read it.

Children Make Terrible Pets

Principal Fred Won’t Go to Bed by Carolyn Crimi

The first graders loved this silly rhyming book. Maybe it’s because kids love to think about what their teachers (and principal) are like outside of school, and it’s always fun to think of grownups acting like kids. It’s another fun read.

Principal Fred Won’t Go to Bed

Bob and Otto by Robert O. Bruel

This is the story of two best friends, a caterpillar and earthworm, and how their lives change as the caterpillar does his thing and becomes a butterfly. I read this book to the first graders in the spring when the class was learning about butterflies in science, and they loved this sweet book.

 Bob and Otto

Miss Smith’s Incredible Storybook by Michael Garland

Michael Garland’s illustrations are always gorgeous, and this book is no exception. It’s the story of a teacher who loves to read aloud from a special book, and the characters in this book always jump out of the book and become real as she reads. One day, someone else reads the book, and chaos ensues! It’s fun, and the kids love to think about story characters that they would like to see in real life.

Miss Smith’s Incredible Storybook

I Can Read With My Eyes Shut! by Dr. Seuss

What first grade book list would be complete without something by Dr. Seuss? The kids loved this one and most had not heard it before, which is always nice. It’s great for Dr. Seuss’ birthday (or anytime!)

I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

What are your first graders’ favorites? Feel free to share other fabulous first grade read aloud ideas!

Freebies for Your School Library on Teachers Pay Teachers!

My last post was about my #1 suggestion for the new school year, which is to join Teachers Pay Teachers. I talked about my decision to become a buyer (and soon afterward, a seller!) during the last year, and how thrilled I am to be able to get awesome resources for my students for cheap – or often, free!

No matter what you teach, there are most likely a ton of freebies available on Teachers Pay Teachers that will be useful to you. But I’m a library girl, so today I am going to bring you on a little shopping spree to get some cool FREE products that you can use if you are a school librarian (or a library/media specialist, library teacher, teacher-librarian, library superhero rock star diva, or whatever you call yourself these days.) 🙂

YOU DON’T NEED ANY MONEY FOR THIS SHOPPING SPREE! If you want to download any of this fabulous free-ness, you just need an account on Teachers Pay Teachers (and joining, is, of course, also free). I have organized this freebie-for-all into different library-related subjects to make your shopping trip free AND easy!

Let’s grab our imaginary reusable shopping bags and go! (Get ready for a LOT of exclamation points! But really, who isn’t excited about a freebie shopping spree?!?!?!)

Parts of a Book/Text Features

You can help your kids understand text features with this student activity book by KC Classroom Creations!

Here we have a free Bingo activity by The LibraryFox to review text features!

And here is everything you need for a text feature Scoot game by Live Laugh Teach First Grade!

Why not turn identifying text features into a scavenger hunt? Download iHeartLiteracy’s free product to get it started!

Here is a printable poster by Create-Abilities you can display or distribute to remind your kids about everything they have learned about text features!

Library Behavior & Etiquette

You can display these free signs by Leah the Librarian or these posters by Kathryn Garcia to remind your kids about how to behave in the library!

Ooh ooh! This one’s mine! 🙂 Print out these free worksheets (by me!) to reinforce your lessons on library behavior and etiquette at the beginning of the school year (or any time the kiddos need a refresher!).

Reference Materials

When your students are learning about reference materials, try this ABC Research resource by The Library Patch!

And Linda the Librarian’s Hunting for Information is another cute resource that your kids can use to practice using books from the reference section!

This Dictionary Scavenger Hunt, created by Rachel Lynette, is a great resource to download when your students are learning to use dictionaries!

Taking Care of Books

These spaceship-themed book care bookmarks created by The Library Patch will remind your library students about the rules of taking care of books!

And Staying Cool in the Library’s adorable book care product includes a coloring page and bookmarks to reinforce your lessons on book care! (I literally just used this product with my new kindergarteners earlier this week!) 🙂

Dewey Decimal System

These cute bookmarks by Staying Cool in the Library can help your students learn the categories of the Dewey Decimal System!

Using Call Numbers

This free resource by Summer Pittman gets students up and moving around the library by asking them to locate books with different call numbers!

Photo by Molly Coulter
Fiction vs. Nonfiction

Here is a free resource by Mrs. J in the Library that you can use to assess student knowledge of fiction vs. nonfiction (along with author/illustrator and basic parts of a book as well)!

Book Fair

Download, print, and display this free banner, designed by ATBOT the Book Bug, to advertise your Book Fair!

Support your colleagues who teach math by making your Book Fair into a math lesson! Try the Trapped Librarian’s Book Fair Math product!

Genres

This free product by Kathryn Garcia includes bookmarks, a coloring book, and other resources to help teach your students about genres of literature!

And please try my Genre Easter Egg Hunt as a fun activity to reinforce the characteristics of several genres!

So let’s say you want to plan a lesson to teach your first or second grade students about the graphic novel genre. Why, here is a lesson plan by Mrs. J in the library! Boom. Done.

When one of your lower elementary classes is working with the biography genre, download this free product by Elle Madison, which includes coloring pages with information about the lives of Michael Jordan and Dr. Seuss! Adorable!

Coding

Need some suggestions on how to introduce coding to your library students? Download this free resource by the Trapped Librarian that includes ideas for Hour of Code!

Bookmarks to Color

Here are some free Columbus Day-themed bookmarks by Lil Country Librarian that your students can color and decorate!

And some bookmarks especially for the 100th day of school by Library Learners!

This winter, you can make your kids laugh as they decorate these joke bookmarks created by LittleRed!

When it’s springtime, how about some Peeps bookmarks? Here are Elementary Library Mama’s Peeps bookmarks to color!

And…for any time of the year…some cute reading-themed bookmarks by Elementary Lesson Plans and animal bookmarks by Mrs. Molly’s Menagerie!

End of the School Year

Do you remember that process-and-a-half of getting all the books back to the library at the end of the school year? Here are some free award certificates by Elementary Library Mama that will be great incentives for your kids!

When book checkout is over for the year, but you need a few activities to get your littlest library students through the last class or two, try these activities (in this resource by…me!).

And if you are looking for a fun way to encourage your library students to keep reading over the summer, just download Summer Reading Bingo by Primary Playground!

Or help your students to try out different genres in the summer with this summer reading product by Kathryn Garcia!

Library Decor

Now, here we have a set of posters with quotations about reading, designed by Staying Cool in the Library, and some more reading-themed posters by My First Grade Gems!

And how about some Dewey Decimal System and Genre posters by Balke’s Resources?!

You can plan ahead for winter by downloading these free posters by ATBOT the Book Bug that will make your library look fantastic!

Clip Art

More of a DIY-er, are ya? If you want to make your own educational resources for your school library, TpT has you covered there too.

(Side note: If making your own resources is your thing, you may want to consider becoming a TpT seller too! If you open a seller account through this link, I will get a referral bonus…and it won’t take away from any of the profits you make! So far I have loved every minute of being a Teachers Pay Teachers seller.  Just an idea! On with the freebies!) 🙂

Here is some book clip art by Elementary Lesson Plans!

And here is a set of free clip art from DarraKadisha that includes books and other school supplies!

The next freebie is from Optimistic Kids and Families Art, and as the artist says in her description of the resource, they are, in fact, “free bees.” (Bee clip art, of course! And one of them is reading – perfect for library resources! A cute product and a cute pun.) 🙂

Here is some free clip art by Kari Bolt Clip Art that would be perfect for your library newsletters, signs, and other creations!

And let’s end with some adorable reading owl clip art by Clipartino!

And There is So Much More!

We could seriously chow down on this all-you-can-eat buffet of free stuff all day. My list is just a little sample of all the great resources that are available on Teachers Pay Teachers, but I hope our free spree today got you set up with a bunch of printables and other freebies that will help you throughout this new school year!

(Update! 02/01/2018: If you loved these freebies, check out my more recent post with over 40 MORE free TpT products for your school library!)

*A huge “thank you!” to the Teachers Pay Teachers teacher-authors who gave me permission to include their resources in this list!*

My #1 New School Year Tip: Join Teachers Pay Teachers!

I think most teachers would agree that the real “New Year” begins in August or September when the school year starts. New students and new policies and new schedules are bigger changes than what we see when the ball drops between December and January.

From planning to cleaning to decorating to organizing to copying, there is a ton of work to do as the school year starts, and I’m going to suggest that you add one more itty bitty thing to your list. But it’s a thing that will ultimately make some of the other things easier. AND make the rest of the school year easier.

JOIN TEACHERS PAY TEACHERS!

Really. Do it. Yesterday.

What It Is…and What Else It Is

Okay. So I had heard about Teachers Pay Teachers long before I actually tried it, and waiting so long to give it a go was a MISTAKE. Basically, before I registered for TpT, I used to spend a lot of time on Google trying to search for “free” lesson ideas and worksheets and coloring pages for my students. Sometimes, a search result would pop up that said it was on Teachers Pay Teachers and I’d be like, “Oh, that sounds great!” but then I’d be like, “Oh, it’s on Teachers Pay Teachers. And I don’t want to pay for anything right now. So, no thanks.” To be honest, something about the name Teachers PAY Teachers irked me a little at first and made me feel like everything was going to be really expensive.

As time went on, those Teachers Pay Teachers items showed up more and more. Meanwhile, I also found that more often than not, randomly searching the rest of internet brought me to a bunch of weird spammy sites. I eventually concluded that I WAS going to end up paying SOMEONE, and it was beginning to look like the money would be going to a tech-y dude who gets spyware off your computer. I figured I was better off giving money to some fellow teachers than having my computer infected with internet gunk.

So I joined the site and accepted that I would, in fact, be a teacher that was paying other teachers.

But in my first few minutes looking around the site, I found out something very important about Teachers Pay Teachers. Yes, it is a site where you can purchase fantastic resources created by other teachers. But IT IS ALSO a place where teachers GIVE AWAY FABULOUS FREE PRODUCTS.

Yay TpT! SO MUCH is Free!

There are FREE lesson plans, FREE coloring pages, FREE classroom posters, FREE fonts, FREE videos, FREE printable worksheets, and much more. Get this- every single person who sells on Teachers Pay Teachers MUST have at least one freebie (really – it is a requirement in order to be a seller!). So we are talking about THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of FREE products.

So I went on a free downloading spree. It was basically what I had been TRYING to do many times before during my Googling sprees, but SO much easier and more successful. I can’t even believe how many free worksheets and other resources I have found for free from the talented sellers on TpT.

And If It’s Not Free, It’s Probably Worth It!

If I have a very specific need and I can’t find something free, I can usually find something inexpensive and worth every penny. I really would rather not pay for resources, of course, but then I stopped and realized that I never hesitate to spend $5 here or there for office supplies, stickers, or prizes for school. So, why not pay a couple of bucks for something that is actually designed to help my students learn something? And it is fun to know that a purchase on Teachers Pay Teachers will help support a teacher.

So…Who’s Paying Whom?

Ultimately, I’m less than a year into using TpT, yet I have downloaded a ton of resources and spent a pretty tiny amount of money. For all these years, I stayed away from Teachers Pay Teachers, when all along I didn’t realize it was like a dollar store / FREE store for teaching resources. Almost every time I visit the site, I get paid in freebies, which leads me to wonder – are the sellers or buyers really winning out here? Or is it just a fantastic partnership for everybody involved?

Check It Out Today!

If you haven’t joined yet, go for it! Joining is free and as I mentioned, there is a ton of great stuff that is just waiting for you, no matter what subject you teach! I am so happy that I joined, and I loved TpT so much that I opened my own store there a few months after making my first purchase.

So…all that free stuff we were talking about? As soon as you sign up, feel free to start your own personal free download spree with some of my free products!

Enjoy!

We Read So Much We Bought a Farm…EIEIO!

 

And on that farm we had a cow…and a water buffalo…and a pig…and a llama…and some flocks of chicks…and some tree seedlings.

Really! We did! (Well, not the actual farm part…but we did buy the animals and trees!)

During this past school year, my students participated in Heifer International’s Read to Feed program. It’s a reading incentive program in which kids record their independent reading minutes and get pledges for their reading time to raise money for Heifer International, an organization that provides farm animals and supplies to families living in poverty.

Image courtesy of Heifer International.
What Drew Me to Read to Feed

I actually don’t remember exactly how I heard about the program, but after reading up on it, it seemed like a perfect way to get kids reading AND helping people around the world who are in need. I feel like developing an awareness of what’s going on in the world is so important for kids, as is the arriving at the realization that our actions CAN make a difference. I loved the idea that the program would teach the kids that poverty is out there but also EMPOWER them to realize that we can play a part in breaking the cycle of poverty.

Image courtesy of Heifer International.
How We Ran The Program

At our school, we ran our program from the beginning of December through the end of Christmas vacation. I decided to make it completely voluntary – I provided the families with information about Read to Feed and spoke to the kids about the program, but no one was required to participate. I thought December was a perfect time of year in some ways – after all, it was the season of giving, and there plenty of dark evenings to snuggle up with a book – but also probably the busiest time of year for many families, and a time of year where some families have other community service projects lined up. I figured that offering the program for only those who were interested allowed us to give it a try without overburdening families that really could not take this on at the time.

The Read to Feed website provides a whole bunch of fantastic resources that you can use to get the Read to Feed program off the ground. From reading logs to videos to handouts to a webpage for online donations, most of the prep work is done as soon as you visit Heifer’s site.

We let families know about Read to Feed through our parent newsletter and through schoolwide announcements, and I also spoke to my classes about the program. There are actually several picture books out there that explain what Heifer International does, so I selected my fave, Faith the Cow by Susan Bame Hoover, as a read aloud for students in my kindergarten through grade 2 library classes. (A couple of other books for children on the subject are: Beatrice’s Goat by Page McBrier and Lori Lohstoeter, Flora and the Runaway Rooster by John Claude Bemis, and Give a Goat by Jan West Schrock.)

Overall, it was very low key in terms of work on my part thanks to all the provided materials, and on our first attempt, we kept things simple and utilized the free stuff available on Heifer International’s site.

How It Went

For those who participated, I think it really was an awesome experience. I remember talking to a parent who said her daughter had really been inspired by this program and actually GOT IT that even as an elementary school student, she actually could help people who didn’t have enough to eat. I feel like if the program did that for one student, it was worth running. Whether a student actually raised $5 or $200 is not as important to me as whether that student developed the idea that we have the ability to bring about positive changes in the world. Right now.

And I think that even the kids who didn’t raise any money or fill out a reading log got something from the program as well, between chatting about it with other kids, listening to my read aloud, and hearing announcements at school. Maybe it wasn’t feasible for them to participate at that time, but I feel like even being exposed to a program like this can plant seeds that might sprout later.

As you read earlier in my little Old McDonald song, my students ended up reading enough minutes to make a nice contribution to Heifer International – enough for all those animals I mentioned. At the end of the program, I sent a little survey out to the kids who participated to see what animals or other available items they would most like to donate to others, and I tallied everything up and expressed their preferences in a letter when we sent the money to Heifer. I like that Heifer explains how much each type of gift costs because it’s really cool for kids to be able to look at our donation in terms of what it could actually buy for someone else. The younger kids don’t really understand how much $500 is, but they do get it when we say that a family that did not have a cow can now have one.

Image courtesy of Heifer International.

I recommend this program, both to encourage reading and to help earn money for those in poverty…and most of all, as a way to inspire and educate your students about the world and our ability to share our blessings with others.

You’ve heard a lot from me today, but I’d love to hear from you! Has your school participated in Read to Feed or another cool service project? How do you motivate your kids to read? Is there another inspiring program out there that I should try next? Do you have an exciting way of empowering your students to change the world? Feel free to start a conversation in the comments!

**Thank you to Heifer International for giving me permission to use the images included in this post.**