Friday, May 17, 2019

Fun Vocab Activities for "Miss Alaineous: A Vocbulary Disaster"


One of my favorite books for celebrating vocabulary is Miss Alaineous: A Vocabulary Disaster by Debra Frasier. 5th grader Sage is home sick with a bad cold so she calls her friend, Starr, for the weekly 15 word vocabulary  list. Although Starr calls out and spells the first 14 words to Sage, she is in a rush to get to baseball practice and shouts out the final word without spelling it.   Sage misinterprets the word which eventually leads to trouble and some embarrassment.  Can you guess the troubling word?

Click on image 
At the end of the story, the class celebrates a school year of vocabulary study when each student picks a word and designs a costume based on the word.  Students wear their costumes in the school Vocabulary Parade. Surprisingly to Sage, she won a trophy for The Most Original Use of a Word! Can you guess the word? 

I have put together a FREE resource with five vocabulary activities related to the book. Also included are teaching tips, student goals, a Vocabulary Four Boxes recording sheet, and a list of words beginning with the prefix, mis-.   Aligned with Common Core State Standards, this resource is ideal for intermediate grades. Read on, matey, as I share a few of these treasured activities with you. If you decide you would like this product, click on the image to the left. It will take you directly to the resource in my TpT store.

      Activity 3

In the book, Mrs. Page, Sage's teacher, offers her students an extra credit vocabulary assignment. They will write 26 sentences, one for each letter in the alphabet. Each sentence must contain three words that begin with the same letter. Starting with the letter A, students search the dictionary for words that are “different, unusual, or surprising”.  Sage's sentences are located along the edges of each page in Frasier's picture book.

Your students will investigate the words that Sage uses in each of her EXTRA CREDIT sentences. This can be a weekly Language Arts or Vocabulary Center assignment using one of Sage’s sentences per week. For each of the three words, students will complete the Vocabulary Four Boxes activity. In Box 1, students write the word and its definition. In Box 2, they draw a picture to illustrate the definition. In Box 3, they write their own sentence using the word, and in the final box, they identify synonyms, antonyms, and related words or phrases.     

If you are interested in more vocabulary resources, click on this image.              

Thanks for docking your ship to visit with me. Please sail back for more pirate teaching treasures, me heartie!



Thursday, April 11, 2019

Hunting for Prefixes Plus a FREEBIE!

Pirates are always on the lookout for treasure. Teachers are always on the lookout for teaching treasures. This teaching pirate does both; however, she also loves to create treasure for the classroom. Today I will share with you a few vocabulary treasures I have created for the word part, Prefixes. Before we explore the resources though, let's take a look at the importance of Word Parts.

Knowledge of Word Parts unlocks vocabulary treasure for the reader. Because a reader knows the meaning of a particular root, such as audi which means "sound", a reader will be aware of the word's fixed, or base, meaning. For example, when a reader comes across the word, inaudible, and doesn't know its full meaning but does know the root meaning, she realizes that the word has something to do with "sound". At this realization, she would probably reread the sentence to look for context clues that indicate something about "sound".

More than likely, this reader will be aware that the word, inaudible, begins with a prefix, in- meaning "not". Now she realizes that the word has something to do with "not sound" or "no sound".  Of course if she doesn't know the meaning of this prefix, she could consult a dictionary or ask someone for help.

Her next step is to examine the ending, or suffix, -ble. She might look this up in the dictionary. She might see a connection with the word, able, as well as the suffix, -able. Some words might pop up in her head such as valuable, capable, usable. As a result, she draws a conclusion that inaudible probably means "not capable of sound" or "not capable of being heard". 

Her final step will be rereading the sentence to see if the meaning she has come up with makes sense. In the sentence... The mute button had been turned on so the TV show's dialogue was inaudible... her definition of inaudible does make sense. Of course, if she is not aware of the meaning of mute or dialogue, she may not be confident of her conclusion. In that case, she reads on to see if there are other context clues or consults a dictionary or verifies with a friend or classmate.

Hopefully this scenario has demonstrated the importance of knowing Word Parts and also using context clues when attempting to determine the meaning of an unknown word. 


Below are some resources to help you teach Prefixes. This first product, Prefix Hunt, focuses on the "Not" Family of prefixes: un-, dis-, non-, in-, im-, il-, ir-. Included are two sets of target words using these prefixes. For each set there are three engaging activities, two matching games, an assessment, and a list of common prefixes. I've provided the Teaching Tips so you can get a feel for how to implement the unit.

Prefix Hunt-Part 2 is designed similarly to the above resource.

Prefix Search is a FREEBIE that provides the 20 most used prefixes along with a matching game. 

Click on these covers to review these products in my TpT store.

Thanks for coming ashore! Please leave your thoughts regarding my blog and resources.

Happy Sailing!


Thursday, February 28, 2019

St. Patrick's Day Math Game Plus a Freebie!

Long, long ago, during my elementary school years, I enjoyed mathematics. I quickly memorized math facts and followed the traditional algorithms. I zipped through my homework, and I always had A's on my report cards. When I entered junior high, the enjoyment turned into  misery! Why? Because I was expected to think mathematically! I was expected to understand the process and explain why the mathematical outcome was true. Something that was not required during those elementary years. 

It wasn't until I became an elementary teacher that I truly realized the importance of the combination of mathematical procedure and understanding. Yes, knowing basic facts is quite helpful, but they don't have meaning if I don't understand or cannot explain why a fact is a fact. Why does 3 x 8 = 24? Algorithms for basic operations are useful but only when I understand how they work. If I can only solve a problem by using an algorithm and cannot explain why I arrived at a particular outcome, then I lack mathematical understanding. Without mathematical understanding, I could not truly teach my students. Luckily for me and my students, I worked in a district that provided quality professional development and adopted materials in which students explored math concepts. In addition, I taught with teachers who excelled in teaching mathematics and shared their knowledge with me.

As a result, when teaching multiplication for example, I didn't begin by expecting my students to memorize the multiplication tables. First we brainstormed things that came in groups such as animals with four legs, windows with six panes, egg cartons that hold a dozen eggs. Next, we grouped items together, created arrays, and drew pictures to represent multiplicative situations. From there, we moved on to skip counting. Then we learned how to use friendly numbers to find solutions: If we know that 2 groups of 8 equals 16 or 2 x 8 = 16, we can add another 8 to 16 (16 + 8 = 24) so 3 x 8= 24. 

Throughout our study of multiplication and eventually into learning division, we also read fun and engaging picture books which reinforced multiplication and division concepts as well as providing situations for trying out our understanding of these concepts. Here are a few book recommendations:

Amanda Bean's Amazing Dream by Cindy Neuschwander   

Amanda counts anything and everything but isn't convinced that multiplication is helpful as a counting method until she dreams about bicycle riding sheep. First she wants to count the wheels on all their bikes which leads to counting all their legs which leads to counting all their balls of yarn which leads to counting grandmas knitting sweaters! When Amanda becomes frustrated with the one by one counting, the sheep tell her to MULTIPLY!  

What is terrific about this book is that there are so many illustrations of things to count using multiplication!

Each Orange Had 8 Slices by Paul Giganti Jr. and Donald Crews 

There were 2 oranges. Each orange had 8 slices and each slice had 2 seeds. How many slices were there in all? How many seeds were there in all? 

Within this wonderful counting book are numerous things to count. The great thing is children have choices on how to count based on their ability. They can count one by one, use skip counting, or multiply. 

Bean Thirteen by Matthew McElligot

Ants, Ralph and Flora, are picking beans for dinner. They have twelve beans, but before Ralph can stop her, Flora picks one more bean. Now they have 13, the unlucky number! When they get home, they try to divide the beans equally between the two of them, but there's one extra bean, the unlucky 13! Now what do they do? Do they invite a friend to have dinner with them so the three of them can equally share the beans? But wait...there still will be one extra bean! How do they solve this dilemma!

Divide and Ride by Stuart J. Murphy

It's Carnival Day for 11 best friends. For each ride they visit they must divide to fill the seats, and all the seats must be filled. On the roller coaster, it takes two people to fill a seat while the next ride seats three per chair. Each time they divide there is one or more friends left over. How do they find a way to get their friends on the ride and fill all the seats?

One of the features I like most about this book is the array of stars used to illustrate each dividing situation. 

Stars  remind me of a wonderful game called Circles and Stars
which I discovered in Third Grade Math: A Month to Month Guide by Suzy Ronfeldt. This is a useful game when students are first learning about multiplication.

Here are the basic directions: 

Students play in pairs. They will need a single die numbered 1-6. Also each student folds a sheet of paper into eight equal sections. In the upper left box students write-- "My Total ___"; "Partner's Total ___"; "Difference ___". 

Students take turns rolling the die. First student to roll, draws the corresponding number of circles at the top of the second box. If a student rolls 2, then 2 circles are drawn. The circles represent groups. Now, the second student rolls and draws circles. For the next round of rolls, the first student rolls again and now draws the corresponding number of stars in each of the circles. If a student rolls 6, then 6 stars are drawn in each of the circles. Then the second student follows the same procedure. Once both students have drawn circles and stars in their rectangles, they will determine how many stars are in their own rectangle and write an equation to represent the multiplication fact. For example, 2 x 6 = 12 stars. The goal is to draw circles and stars in each of the rectangles.
Once all the rectangles are filled, students determine the total number of stars they have drawn and will record the number in the upper left corner box where "My Total" is written. Then they write their partner's total. Finally, the students find the difference between the total number of stars each drew and record the number in the upper left corner box. Students use the back of the paper to calculate the sum of their seven products and the difference between the number of stars the students drew. As you can see this is a "mathematically rich" game! When you feel your students are ready to move on to other combinations, provide them with a cube marked with 4,5,6,7,8,9.

Hopefully, you have found some helpful information for introducing multiplication. Now let me share a game I created that provides practice for  multiplication/division facts.

Last month I created multiplication and division word problem task cards for Valentine's Day. This inspired me to design more cards but with a St. Patrick's Day theme. This new batch is aligned with 3rd grade standards so the focus is on multiplication and division facts, particularly the more difficult ones. In addition, I put together a board game, Pot of Gold Adventure, in which students race to win the leprechaun's pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. However, in order to move around the board, the players must correctly solve a word problem task card requiring a multiplication or division fact.   Below is a task card sample along with the game board.                                                                             

Read the Teaching Tips below to learn the best ways to use this product.
Try out a sample of these task cards for FREE!

Thanks for visiting my blog today! I know how busy teachers are so I hope I provided you with valuable teaching treasure that will benefit you and your students. Please leave a comment along with your email address. The first five mates to respond will receive the Pot of Gold Adventure Game as a gift from me or a $5 or less resource of their choice from my store. If you like the adorable shamrock on my St. Patrick Day product covers, check out Clip Factory by Teacher's Take-out.

Monday, January 28, 2019

A Pirate Valentine plus a FREEBIE!

Ahoy, mateys! I've been working on Multiplication/Division word problems with a Valentine's Day theme. Before I introduce these treasures, I would like to share ideas that have helped my students solve story problems.

First of all, it is extremely important that students read the problem carefully, no rushing through it, no skimming.  It should be more like a "close"  and detailed reading. After all, the information that comes before the question is critical. I, also, recommend that students read the problem twice. 

Next, students should circle the numbers that are stated in the problem. Students need to be aware that sometimes numbers are written as words, and sometimes there could be numbers that are not necessary to solve the problem. If they find such a number, it's wise to cross it out.

At this point, students should reread the question and think about what it is asking. Then they write an equation that represents or describes the problem. Their equations will show whether or not they understand the problem. Remind students to indicate the unknown number of the equation by writing a letter to represent the unknown.  Students often like to use the initial of their first name!

Let's look at the sample problem below:

After reading this problem, we know that Angie is making Valentine cards for her classmates. She will make 30 because she has 30 classmates. She has stamped a heart on each card. She will outline each heart with ribbon. Each heart will require 8 inches of ribbon. The problem is asking us to determine the amount of ribbon that Angie needs. Here is the equation: 

        30 x 8 = V

I encourage students to look for multiple ways to solve math problems. For example, one strategy for solving the sample problem could be (10 x 8) + (10 x 8) + (10 x 8). Another possibility is (30 x 4) + (30 x 4) or [(30 x 2) x 4]. Some students will see the answer right away by realizing that [(3 x 8) x 10] = 24 x 10 = 240. Some students may need to draw pictures to solve, particularly when working with multiplication, division, and fractions. 

After solving the equation, I usually require students to check their solution by using a different strategy. Often students want to use the traditional algorithms to solve which is fine. After all, using those algorithms is a required state standard for certain grade levels. If students solve with the algorithm, then they must check with a non-traditional strategy. If the algorithm wasn't used to solve, then using it to check the original strategy is a great idea.

Finally, students write a sentence stating the answer such as "Angie will need 240 inches of ribbon." You might also have students compose an explanation of how they were able to solve the problem. This writing process will help students to further understand how they arrived at the answer.

With Valentine's Day on the horizon, I realized me treasure chest was lacking in gems for this particular holiday, and so I decided to make task cards for multiplication and division. These cards are designed for 4th and 5th grades. However, some third graders may be ready to tackle these problems.    

If you are looking for multiplication and division practice, below there lies a treasure for you!
This resource includes five sets of task cards. In all sets there are eight cards. On each card there is a word problem that requires multiplication and/or division operations with a related Valentine's Day theme.

If your students use Math Journals, they can glue the task card to a journal page and use that
page to show their process for solving the word problem. Also available is a Recording Sheet
designed for Math Journals.

Students should work independently. However, it is beneficial to have pairs share with each
other how they solved the problems. If working at the Math Center, I recommend students 
complete two problems and then share with a partner.

If you are using a task card problem as a warm-up problem or Problem of the Day, have a few
individual students share their work under the doc camera when all students have completed
the assignment. This is a good way for students to see the various ways a problem can be

Answer keys are also included.

You might want to download this FREEBIE to see if these cards are appropriate for your wee
buccaneers! Click on the image which will take you to this resource at my TpT store.

Thank you for sailing to my blog. To add to your treasure chest, be one of the first ten scallywags to leave a comment with your email address and receive a product of your choice ($5 or less) from my TpT store.

And please come back to visit!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Thanksgiving Read Aloud and a FREE Writing Activity!

Yes, me hearties! Pirates celebrate Thanksgiving, too! After all, a steady diet of fish, squid, and hardtack gets a bit boring!! More importantly, because buccaneers spend so much time at sea, we miss our families and look forward to seeing our loved ones, sharing stories with them, and dining on turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie! 

Of course, the whole point of Thanksgiving is to give thanks for our blessings. As a teacher, I make a point to connect holidays with our curriculum. For Thanksgiving as with all holidays, I gather a variety of children's books and place them in our classroom library corner for students to read. I select my favorites to read to the class and start with ones that put a focus on the purpose of Thanksgiving, to give thanks for the special people in our lives and for the benefits we have. I recently created a new Pinterest board, Thanksgiving Books for Children, you may find helpful.

THANKFUL by Eileen Spinelli is one of my favorite Thanksgiving books. Written in rhyming couplets, this picture book is about a sister, brother, and their parents and the blessings for which they are grateful. Before introducing the book, I place post-its in strategic locations in the book. I cover the text of the first two pages of the story. For the rest of the book, I cover the last word of each couplet. Explanations for why will come later!

I begin the read-aloud by giving students time to look at the book cover. (If you have access to a doc camera, use it to show the illustrations.) Based on the cover's illustration, I have students determine the season and what the children are doing. I, also, have students think about the title and why the author chose it. Then I give them time to share their thoughts with a partner. After they share, I ask someone to tell the class what their partner said. Next, we take a look at the illustrations on the title pages and discuss what the children seem to be doing. (They are playing "dress up".)

Now I turn to the first page to focus on the illustration. Remember, I have covered the text. I ask the class who the girl is pretending to be (a waitress) and how they know. I show the next illustration and ask what is happening. (The waitress trips and the beverage flies toward the boy.) Next, I point out how the boy is dressed and ask students who they think he is pretending to be (a news reporter). They may not know so I direct their attention to the notepad, pencil, and camera. If news reporter doesn't come up, I tell them that we will read to find out.

Having read the first two pages and determining that the boy is a local news reporter, I ask students if the text rhymed and if so, what words rhymed. I also ask what is the waitress thankful for and what is the reporter thankful for. We, then, discuss why they are grateful for these particular items (shoes and interesting news). 

Before continuing our read aloud, I let the students know that I have covered some words with post-its. I explain that I want them to figure out what the hidden word is. I remind them that the illustrations and other words in the text provide clues. Also, I point out that the covered word rhymes with another word in the sentence. The rhyming words are fairly easy to determine so when I get to the post-it, I pause and give students the opportunity to call out the word before uncovering it. This makes the read aloud very interactive. 

When we have finished the book, I go back through the pages to talk about what the characters are thankful for. For example, why is the artist thankful for color and light or why is a chef thankful when the plates are licked clean. Now I ask students to think about what they are thankful for and share with their partners. I also share a few ideas of my own.

This is where read aloud segues to a writing activity. There are two activities I can choose. One is writing couplets similar to the ones in the book. The other is writing a paragraph to share the people and things for which we are thankful. Sometimes we do both writing activities.

 Here's a FREE Thanksgiving writing activity!
I have put together a FREE resource to guide teachers and students through both writing processes. Included in the product are:
                     1. Teaching tips
                        2. Three graphic organizers
                        3. Draft and final copy sheets
                        4. Writing samples
                        5. Revision Checklist
                        6. Editing Checklist

Click on the product cover, and it will take you directly to my TpT store and this FREE resource.

Thanks for visiting my blog, matey! Before you sailing away, please write a comment and follow me. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

If you like the Pirate Queen's Pilgrim hat, check out this TpT store.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Return of the Pirate Queen

Ahoy, Mates! The Pirate Queen has returned! I could say I have been on a lengthy treasure hunt. I could say I was lost at sea! But truth be told, life just got in the way! My family needed me so I took a break from blogging. Now, things are settling in, and I am able to take time to write again.

You may have noticed that my blog banner has a slight change. It used to say, "Language Arts Treasure for the Intermediate Classroom". Although most of my resources are LA related, I occasionally have created math products and a few others related to holidays. Also, my resources are mostly geared to grades 3-5. However, I am broadening my scope to include middle school products as well. Thus, the change to the banner: "Treasure for the Intermediate and Upper Classrooms".

Recently, I have been working on grammar related resources that align with the Common Core State Standards for Grade 5. Specifically, my focus has been on CONJUNCTIONS! The interesting thing is that in order to understand conjunctions and their functions you also must have an understanding of SENTENCES-- simple, compound, complex as well as CLAUSES-- independent and dependent. What this means is that as you teach conjunctions you must review sentences and clauses. You will find that these Conjunction resources will help you with that challenge.

There are three types of conjunctions: Coordinating, Correlative, and Subordinating. When teaching such complicated concepts, I find PowerPoint to be a useful tool. My slideshows are engaging and  interactive. Students work with partners to answer questions posted on the slides. Also, teaching tips are provided as "Comments" for most slides.

Click on the product covers to preview each resource. Although these resources are aligned with Grade 5, they can be used for reviews with Grades 6-8.

There is an additional Subordinating Conjunction Task Card resource available that includes three task card activities. Below is a link to a FREEBIE that will give you an idea of what the Task Card resource is like.

If you are looking for grammar products for Grades 3 and 4, sail to my store by clicking on the Pirate Queen image at the beginning of the post. For 3rd grade you will find resources for nouns and verbs. For 4th grade, there are products for each of the Common Core Language Conventions Standards, 4.1A-G.

If this is your first visit to my blog, please take a look at previous postings. Most have a link to a free product. Be sure to read the first post as I explain my classroom pirate theme.

Finally, please leave a comment if just to say hello.

Happy Sailing!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Sentence Fluency Plus Mini Poster FREEBIE!

Ahoy mateys! Generally speaking, pirates spin great yarns. They know how to hold their audience's attention with details that are organized to enable the readers or listeners to follow along. They use language that is rich and paints pictures in the minds of the audience. Also the yarn spinners' sentences have a natural flow making the story easy to follow and enjoyable to hear.

What I am describing may remind you of the Six Traits of Writing which resulted in the research of Ruth Culham and Education Northwest.
The traits are Ideas, Organization, Voice, Word Choice, Sentence Fluency, and Conventions. For me teaching writing became a pleasure when using the Six Traits model. In this post, I will share instructional ideas on one component of the Sentence Fluency trait.

Sentence Fluency is described as "smooth, rhythmic, easy to read" (Creating & Recognizing Quality Rubrics CD Copyright © 2006 Educational Testing Service). Think about a flowing river or stream. It is constantly moving. However, in some locations, the water moves slowly and quietly. While in other spots, the water rushes and cheers loudly. Sentences within a story have a similar movement. Some are short and sweet. Some are long holding you in suspense. Put them together and you have a flowing narrative.

If you take a closer look at sentences that are "smooth, rhythmic, and easy to read", you will see that they begin in a variety of ways. One reason for varying the start of sentences is to connect an idea from the previous sentence to an idea in the sentence that follows. In addition, starting sentences differently prevents choppy sentences and sentences that repeatedly begin with a simple subject which becomes boring after a bit. Take a look at the "Broccoli" paragraph.

All of the sentences begin with a simple subject, and most are short and choppy.
Now, let's read the revision.

Did you find the sentences more interesting and detailed? Did the sentences seem to flow more naturally? Did you notice that the sentences vary in how they start? Some begin with prepositional phrases. A couple are introduced with adverbs and one with adjectives. Two sentences remain the same and begin with the simple subject.

When teaching students how to vary sentence beginnings, I introduced one variation a week to give them time and opportunity to use the technique in their own writing and to find examples in our textbooks and in their independent reading. There were four starting varieties that I introduced early in the year:
  • Begin with one or two adjectives describing the subject.
  • Begin with a "how" adverb such as "slowly".
  • Begin with a "where" adverbial phrase such as "in the closet".
  • Begin with a "when" adverbial phrase such as "last night". 
This mini poster is available as a FREEBIE!

In addition I created a PowerPoint with engaging and interactive slides to teach these four beginnings.

Sentence Fluency: How to Begin Sentences/CCSS Aligned 3-6

Sail to my store to preview the PPT and mini poster by clicking on the product covers below.


If your students need practice with Fragments and Run-on Sentences, you may be interested in this treasure!

One more gem before you sail away! You will find on the side bar a link to a Pinterest board I have created for mentor picture books to help you teach sentence fluency.

Thanks for visiting! Please come again when you are looking for more teaching treasures!