Be Kind.

Two simple words.  One simple message.

Founded from a tragic accident, but inspiring greatness and kind acts in all of us.

If you never read another one of my posts or have never read one before, I hope you will take the time to read this one.

Josh Stevens
 Josh was the kindest of kind, with a "heart as big as a lion".  Sadly, one month before he was to turn 13 years old, his life was cut all too short in a tragic accident.

You see, I didn't know Josh, but thankfully, through his parents, Josh's legacy of kindness lives on through the

 These two simple words are inspiring greatness and kind acts all around our school district and beyond.

Josh's family created this foundation not only for Josh's legacy to live on, but to inspire kind acts in others.
Their mission is
"To recognize and celebrate heartfelt kind acts."

Their belief is
"Genuine kindness born in the heart of a child 
deserves celebration."

What a better world we would all live in if everyone took just a few more minutes to
 Be Kind
More Often

You can learn about The Josh Stevens Foundation by watching this video.

At our school, a staff member who notices a student being kind fills out a form and submits it to our principal.  These students are recognized at our morning opening and are invited to spin the prize wheel in the office.  Prizes on the wheel range from a golden coupon redeemable for an item at the school snack shack to a Be Kind shirt, as well as a variety of other things.
Students are then photographed with their prize and then the form and their photo are hung on the Be Kind wall in our main hallway.

Your school can contact the foundation here and get your own Kindness Revolution started,
or you can start your own revolution.

The Josh Stevens Foundation has a large selection of "Be Kind" items that you 
can purchase at their online store.

 Their selection of shirts is always cycling through and they are constantly coming up with newer 
and cuter ones.  All of the shirts say "Be Kind" on the front (like these worn by some of my favorite peeps!)

 and on the back they have a creative and fun message, like these

Thanks to Allison for providing some of  these pics!  Allison works for the foundation and is a teacher, too!

If you are a school or organization, you can have your shirts personalized with your own message or slogan
on the back.

SOOOOOOOOOOOO... who wants to win their very own BE KIND shirt?

Enter the Rafflecopter below and if you are selected as the winner, you'll get to have your pick of any t-shirt from the Josh Stevens Foundation store!  How great is that?!?!?!

And remember...
A little spark of kindness can put a colossal burst of sunshine into someone's day!

Hi there!  I feel like I've been MIA for a while...but now I'm back!

So today we're talking about Part 2 of the

This time I am reviewing
Welcome to 2nd Grade Pad

and her AMAZING

(Click on the picture to purchase Cynthia's Let's Learn About Poetry unit.)
I have to be honest, after I picked this product I began to wonder if my first graders would be able to do it.  I decided to use it with my top readers and boy, was I pleasantly surprised!

First though, let's talk about the unit itself.  It is divided in to several sections that are each very useful.  The first section is full of definitions of each type of poem used in this unit.  The graphics are adorable and the explanations are thorough and easy to understand.
A BIG PLUS for first graders.
Here are a couple of examples of the information pages:

Next there is a Research Book section.  This is where the students get to actually apply what they are learning.  It is chock full of pages written so that students can view the formats and create their own poems.  (I will show the examples of some of the pages in the photos later in this post, but for now, here is a
clip of the cute cover.)
 Then, there are actual lesson plans that you can use with your students, including links, anchor charts and so much more!  I also adore the cute tips on the side of each page.

Also included are links for books on poetry and links to actual examples of the various types of poems, which will save you a ton of time!

This unit concludes with a Wrapping it Up section.
This section has some very useful ideas as to what to do with the poems once the students have completed them.  There are also invitations for the "Poetry Cafe".  (How cute is that?!?!)

So, here are some examples of the amazing work that my students were able to churn out thanks to Cynthia's fabulous unit.

 First we started with an Acrostic Poem.  They LOVED using their names and did a pretty good job brainstorming various adjectives for their names.  This one, obviously is Emma's (I've called her Emma-Bo-Bemma long before she was a student in my classroom.  She opted out of doing that long version of her name though.)

Then we moved on to autobiographical poems, which is a perfect poem-type for first graders, because as much as we love them, the world pretty much does revolve around least according to them.  :-)  I loved how easy this was to use!  You can't see it, but on the left, it takes you step-by-step with what the students should be writing on each line.

Next up were Cinquain Poems.  These were a little bit harder for them, but it didn't take them long to get the hang of it.  They actually had a great time cracking each other up writing silly lines for their friends' poems and their own.

We also tried our hand at some Diamante Poems, which I had never, in all my years of teaching, had kids try to write...but I will definitely try it again in the future, because they were really FUN!  (and terribly telling...there was one that gave me a lot of insight into one of my students...all good, but a it made a lightbulb go off in my head!)

The last type of poetry we learned about were Haikus.  I can remember writing these in HIGH SCHOOL, so I was pretty stinkin' impressed that my 6 and 7 year olds could churn these out!

Don't you love the Oh, oh, ah, oh, oh at the end of the Monkey poem?  Hahaha!

I really hope that you enjoyed reading all of their poems.  Next year I will definitely be using this fabulous unit when I move up to second grade.

I hope you'll stop by and check out Cynthia's unit.  It is very well thought out and is very user-friendly.  I love all of the examples that are already found for you and can be easily accessed by clicking on the hyperlinks.

Now, Cynthia at 2nd Grade Pad has kindly donated a copy of her Let's Learn About Poetry unit.  Don't miss out on your chance to win.  Simply enter the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And a BIG thank you to Samantha, aka
for organizing this Product Swap! 

I'll admit it...every summer I make great plans to create delicious and nutritious lunches for both my son and myself. About the middle of September, I have long strayed from that idea and pretty much aim for fast and convenient...and we all know that doesn't necessarily go hand in hand with nutritious or 
sometimes even delicious. AND by this time of year, I'm so tired of packing lunches that I can hardly stand it.
So I'm here to inspire myself and hopefully you, too...and of, course, I'd love to be inspired by you, so be sure to leave a comment with your own delicious lunch ideas.

I sure miss the days when I could pretty much pack the same thing for my sweet son as I do for myself.  When, oh, when did he become such a picky eater????

So today, let's tackle that topic of just what exactly IS for lunch?

One thing that we use at our home is the Pieces and Parts menu.  Believe it or not, this came into being when my sweet son was in preschool.  Now he is in middle high school and it is essentially the same...and I use it for my lunches as well.

This is what it looks like and if you click on the first picture, you can download a copy of it as well as a copy of a blank one.

So on days when we don't have a ready to go lunch plan (which is most days), my son and I pick one item from each column.  It might look something like this:

Or, for me, next year when I have lunch brunch at 10:30, it might look something a little more like this:

**Now, I am fortunate that my son does not have food allergies, but, of course, you would take that into consideration if your child has food allergies or your school does not allow certain foods.**

I am now doing Weight Watchers and so I have changed up some of the ideas for healthier choices (for example, if I choose a string cheese, I switch it to the WW string cheese, crackers aren't just crackers, but instead I choose "diet" crackers).

Now, I would love to be one of those amazing moms that pack those lunches for myself or my sweet son that look more like words of art than lunches, but it's just not ever going to happen, but if you are so inclined, there are tons of those ideas on Pinterest.  (Just click on the pictures and it will take you right to the post.)

BUT, I did find some fabulous links to easy to do lunches for grown-ups and kids on Pinterest and have included them here.
 Laura over at Come Together Kids has these great tips for packing lunches for your kids, but quite honestly they look perfectly yummy to me!

Here is a great post if you or your school are allergy conscious.  It's a great list by Cook It Allergy Free.

And finally, Marla Meridith at Family Fresh has some pretty dog-gone delish ideas of her own.  A little more work, but hey, we're worth it! 
AND at the bottom of her post are other places that you can cruise to on the net at get even more ideas!
Or, if you'd like, you can check out my boards on Pinterest related to healthy lunches and school lunch ideas!
(Plus many other school-related topics.)

Finally, I just have to include that one of my favorite things that I did love about packing my son's lunch was including a joke or a note to help make his day.  Eventually, it became expected and the jokes would make their rounds up and down the lunch table.  But, alas, he is a middle HIGH schooler now and well, "That's just not cool anymore, Mom."  Oh, the tears!  
However, I ended up giving all of his extra jokes and notes to a coworker whose son is in my class.  I just love picking him up from lunch and seeing one in his lunchbox.  Oh, the smiles!

If you'd like your very own copy of Lunch Box notes, you can find it in my store by clicking here.

If you have any amazing lunch ideas, I would LOVE to hear about them in the comments below!

Happy Lunching!

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday
It's that time again!  
Gotta love a good FREEBIE, right?  Be sure to stop by Charity's Manic Monday Linky and 
check out all of the other FREEBIES being offered this week!  

I recently bought an adorable graphic set and HAD to put it to use.
So that is how this week's freebie was born.  

Introducing Bubble Addition
(Click on the picture to head to my store to download the game.)

Aren't the graphic just oh, so cute?

Here is what the gameboard looks like:

I love that it can be done independently or with a partner.
The only materials needed are a paperclip and some markers to cover the problems.
I also like that the students spin for the answer and then have to find the problem that matches it.

I hope you and your students enjoy this game.  If you use it, I'd love to hear your feedback!

It's time for the

I hope this post leaves you wanting s'more and s'more of the featured products!

 I am reviewing two of the Three Little Pigs units from

But before I get to the review, I want to tell you a story about the ladies who created The Fun Factory.
Once upon a time there lived two amazing ladies who lived in the (not so) far away land known as Texas.  Susan, one half of this wonderful pair, developed a fondness for poodle purses and the Kathy, the other half of this creative duo, developed a love for sequined hot pants...okay, not really...or maybe really!

Anyway, these two ladies worked together to develop The Fun Factory.   I have to tell you that this is such an appropriately named blog and shop, because these two ladies are nothing but FUN!  FUN!  FUN!

 If you are a fan of fairy tales, keep reading, because Kathy and Susan have created a large variety of fun and useful fairy tale-themed units and activities.
 After much debating I finally selected their Three Little Pigs activities.  
I used the two units pictured below:

Click on the pictures to purchase the products.

I used this with my group of students that has the famous Eddie in it.  He is my sweet little boy who is working so hard to learn English.  It was a great opportunity to work on building his vocabulary and building his sight word vocabulary.  In addition, all of my students received much-needed
practice with positional words.

I have to tell you that as I was preparing to use this unit, I was scrounging around school looking for anything Three Little Pigs related and came across these adorable puppets!
Don't you just love when something like that happens????

The first thing that we did was to use the vocabulary and picture cards and discuss the meaning of each of them.  The students enjoyed taking the words and make sentences using them.  There were also a very nice collection of picture cards included in this unit and they were just the right size for the students to hold and identify.  They also fit so nicely in our pocket chart.  Here is a sampling:

Aren't the graphics adorable?

Next, we read the little books that came in the unit.
Isn't this so cute?  Absolutely perfect for my little group.  I loved that the text was simple and used important sight words, and that the pictures really enhanced the students' understanding of what they were reading. 

(I edited sweet Eddie's and added arrows to label the picture to help him with comprehension.)
We practiced reading the story several times and then they retold it to our class using the
above pictured puppets.  One of my students even gave the performers a standing ovation! 

Then, we worked on sequencing the beginning, middle and end using this fabulous template that
was included in the unit.

 They LOVED doing this activity!  They were so engaged and there was a lot of communication and discussion going on which is not always the case with this particular group.

Have you heard of Apps Gone Free?  It's my favorite app!  Anyway, this interactive book just happened to be featured one day and I snapped it up!  The kids really enjoyed it.  The text was much more difficult, but because they had read the story included in this unit, they were able to plow through it and recognize many of the words and completely understood the story (even though it was a slightly different variation).
This app also has a "read to me" feature.

Look at these three little darlings hard at work!  They were so engaged!
(Not that I would ever think that my students were little piggies, but it was really hard not to edit this picture by adding little curly tails onto the kiddos!)

To wrap up this group of lessons we took all of the knowledge that we had gained from using this great unit...the story, the beginning, middle, end page, the vocabulary...and completed a sequencing activity that I pulled out of my dusty, old file cabinet.  I believe it was a Frank Shaffer activity.

If you work with preschoolers, kindergarteners, first graders or second language students, I would HIGHLY recommend purchasing these two units.  However, through the kindness and generosity of The Fun Factory, you can enter for a chance to win these fabulous units.  All you have to do is enter the Rafflecopter by becoming a follower of their blog, and just for fun, there is a survey question for you to answer!
Remember if you don't win to hop on over to their store and purchase the item for yourself and your kiddos!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 A HUGE than you to the Poodle Purse Princess, Susan, and the Hot Pants Queen, Kathy, for allowing my students to use these fabulous activities and allowing me to review them!

Another HUGE thank you to Samantha over at

for organizing our Product Swap!

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