Thursday, August 9, 2012

Los Chimichangos

Every few months, I find myself inside a local Kohl's store in search of new books. Kohl's releases various children's books and stuffed animals as part of their Kohl's Cares program. 100% of the net profit made from their special program is donated to support kids' health and education programs nationwide. And the best part? The books and stuffed animals are only $5.00! 

I was so excited when I walked through the doors a few weeks ago and found...

           SKIPPYJON JONES!!! 

To my surprise, several of my teaching friends have never heard of the Skippyjon Jones series, written by Judy Schachner. (I have had some of these books in paper back for a few years, but absolutely couldn't resist picking them up in hard cover with stuffed animals to match!) The main character in the series is Skippyjon Jones, a mischievous Siamese cat who longs to be a Chihuahua. In the first book of the series he travels far, far away to old Mexico where he runs into Los Chimichangos, a pack of Chihuahuas. He spends his days in old Mexico telling everyone he meets that he is El Skippito, the great sword fighter. Los Chimichangos ask El Skippito to help them defeat El Blimpo Bumblebeeto Bandito, who stole all of the beans for their burritos. An epic battle ensues and alas El Skippito and Los Chimichangos are victorious. A fiesta is held and everyone is happy! 

You'll have to pick up the other books to find out what happens in those. No spoilers here. 

I love these books for many reasons. This is a great series for teaching students to use their imaginations when they write! Skippyjon Jones doesn't really travel to old Mexico, but he does so in his imagination. And do you know where old Mexico is located? Inside his closet at the house owned by his mother, Mama Junebug Jones. And the Bumblebeeto Bandito that he so effortlessly defeated? Well, that was supposed to be his birthday piƱata. His mother warned him to stay out of his closet, but that didn't stop him from exploring. 

Another reason I LOVE using this series in my classroom is because of all the Spanish words the author uses. The books are a great way to introduce a unit on Mexico to your class. Will you be teaching them Spanish in the near future? Pick up one (or all!) of these books today. It is very important muy importante that you read these books with your best Spanish accent. I can't help but think that a great Spanish accent adds to the charm of these wonderful books. 

Head on over to El Skippito's website for downloads, videos, games and a link to download the new Skippyjon Jones app. The teacher's section is overflowing with resources and lesson plans you can implement in your classroom right away. I already know I'll be downloading the Lost in Spice Readers Theater script to use with my 2nd graders this year! 

If you feel ridiculous for reading this book with a Spanish accent and catch yourself saying "Holy Guacamole!" from time to time, remember this quote by Dr. Suess, "You're never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child." 

What are some must have books in your classroom library? Tell me! I have well over 1,000 books in my classroom and I'm always looking to add more! 

ABCs & 123s, 


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Where do I sit?

One of the first things I do to get my classroom ready at the beginning of a new school year is make the name tags for student desks. My name tags always match my classroom theme. 

Ocean theme - ocean name tags. Travel theme - travel name tags. Owl theme - owl name tags. Dr. Suess - Dr. Suess name tags!

I've searched high and low for Dr. Seuss name tags, but have come up short. What's a teacher to do? Oh, that's right - I'll create some matching name tags myself! 

Here are the steps I took to create my own student name tags: 

I bought the blank sentences strips at Michaels Arts & Crafts Store - only $1.00 for 50 white sentence strips. I obviously didn't use them all and now have some left for another project in my classroom. I bought the Dr. Suess stickers for $1.99 at a local teacher supply store. 

Then, I added a Dr. Seuss sticker to the left hand side of the name tag. 

I wasn't satisfied with my first attempt - it was too plain. I decided to use blue and red permanent markers to add some more detail to the name tags. 

The finished product! "Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!" -Dr. Suess

What is the first thing YOU do to prepare your classroom for a new school year? 

ABCs & 123s, 


Oh the Places You'll Go!

As if masters classes, marathon training and creating a memorable year with my 2nd graders won't keep me busy enough over the next several months - I've decided to start a teaching blog! Family members, friends and colleagues have encouraged me to share some of my favorite teaching strategies, lesson plans, writing projects, classroom management tips and not to mention some of the cute things that come out of my students' mouths. Last year a student raised his hand to inform me of the following, "Your jokes are corny." Yes, corny. 

What better place to share ideas with other teachers than a blog? I think it's an exciting endeavor to celebrate my 5th (!) year of teaching on the West Coast. It is my hope that "All the Dots" will serve as a resource for new teachers, veteran teachers, home school teachers, daycare providers, parents, etc. After all, we are all in the business of educating the future!

For the next several days, I'll take you through the process of setting up my classroom. Once school begins on August 20th, I'll be blogging with specific topics in mind. Check back often for children's book reviews, technology tips, writer's workshop advice, thrifty classroom decorating ideas, etc. I'll be introducing Monday Musings, Technology Tuesday, Wordy Wednesday, Thrifty Thursday and Flip Out Friday. Bear with me - my 2nd graders and I love alliteration and you should too! 

You might be wondering about the title of my blog. Why the dots? Anyone who has stepped foot in my classroom, flipped through one of my several scrapbooks or has been on the receiving end of a handwritten note from me can probably answer that question! For the rest of you, maybe the picture above will allow you to peek into my world as a teacher and my obsession with ALL THE DOTS. You see, I can't just write words using normal letters. No, I always find myself adding the dots. My letters usually aren't complete until I've added those solid circles. 

With the excitement of the Lorax movie the past few months, there has been no shortage of Dr. Seuss themed classroom decorations. You can pick up these adorable Thing 1 & Thing 2 nameplates at the Target Dollar Spot. 

To quote Dr. Suess, "How did it get so late so soon?" I've got a Seussville classroom to prepare in the morning! 

ABCs & 123s,