Winter Writing Centers

With winter almost here, I have created 3 new winter writing centers.  They include December, January and February.  The writing topics all focus on narrative, opinion/persuasive, and explanatory/informative writing.  Each month has 1 extra skill to practice.  December also includes writing about story elements.  January includes some cause and effect writing and February incorporates writing about similarities and differences.  Each task card has a word or phrase in boldface so that students know what kind of writing they should do.

All the parts you need for your writing center are included....

Each month comes with 20 writing prompt Task Cards....

4 Graphic Organizers for each month...

"Writing Checklists" and "Helpful Words and Phrases"...

This bundle includes the following 3 resources:


Thanks for looking!


Thank You Letter Lesson

One of my favorite projects that my son ever brought home from school was a "thank you" letter to our family for Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving is a perfect time to teach gratitude (and sneak in a friendly letter lesson.) So I created this simple "thank you" letter lesson for you to use with your students this November or any other time of the year.

The following pages are included:

1.) Review the "Parts of a Letter." Also have students take notice of the different ways the letter writer expressed "thanks": I am grateful for...., I appreciate...., Thank you.....

2.) Prewriting: Ask your kids if they have ever written a "thank you" note.  Talk about why it's important to write "thank you" notes.  Then begin to think about someone they could thank for being kind/helpful/thoughtful to them this year.

3.) Use the lined paper to write their letters.

4.) Finally, use the writing checklist as a final review.
Hope you enjoy! For this free Thank You Letter lesson, click here!
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Celebrating October (plus a "Spiders" Freebie)

Here are some days to remember this October with a few quick ideas for the classroom.  (Don't forget your freebie at the end!)

October 2: National Custodial Worker Day Perfect time to practice letter writing AND to practice showing gratitude for all our school custodians do.

October 5: Do Something Nice Day I don't know why we need a special day to do this, but it might be a fun journal topic. "Tell about a time someone did something nice for you and a time when you did something nice for someone."  

October 9: Fire Prevention Day For older kids, discuss the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which is the event remembered on this day.  Some older students may have read the I Survived #11: The Great Chicago Fire, 1871.
There are many great books for younger students, also.  Here is a quick list:

October 12: Columbus Day (Check out for some great free and priced Columbus Day products.)

October 16: Dictionary Day This is the birthday of Noah Webster.  Ask your students to think of some words that are in the dictionary today that probably weren't there in 1806. (Examples: tweet, hashtag, selfie, man cave)

October 24: Make a Difference Day  Check out this link:

October 28: National Plush Animal Lover's Day Obviously, bring your favorite stuffed animal to school!

October 29: National Frankenstein Day How about this journal prompt for today?  "Create your own monster.  Describe what it looks like, how it behaves and tell what you will do with your new friend."

October 31: Halloween  Find my free Spider activities below!

October Writing Center: Grades 3-5
October Reading Passages: Grades 2-4
Spiders: Grades 3-5

Free Spider Activities: Grades 2-5


Remembering Yogi Berra in the Classroom

     Yogi Berra, the famous New York Yankee baseball player from the 1950’s died recently leaving many people who loved him feeling his loss to both the game of baseball and to our American way of life.
     When he was alive, “Yogi-isms,” or things he said to describe how he felt, became famous.  Baseball fans and many others, when they couldn’t find a better way to explain how life was treating them, would quote Yogi.
     While some of his sayings are a little confusing and you might even have to stop and think for a second to guess what Yogi meant when he said them, repeating them makes us feel just a little better when we are frustrated or upset.
     Yogi loved children. He and his wife raised three boys.  Two of them played professional baseball like their father and a third son played professional football.  

     So, in honor of the great Yogi Berra who passed away on September 22, try out some "Yogi-isms" with your students. Use them as a fun journal warm up.  Choose one and have students figure out the humor/irony/meaning behind his quote.  Have them choose their favorite "Yogi-ism" and explain why they like it.  Or, just have some fun with your class, reading them aloud. For example, one of Yogi’s favorite sayings and one he probably said to his sons many times was, “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.” Yogi meant it’s good to plan and dream about your own life. Ask your students what their dreams are and how they plan to realize them. Where do they want to go?

Here are a few more to share with your students:
For math class, try these:
"Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical."
"You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I am not hungry enough to eat six."
"Pair up in threes."

Prefixes, Suffixes/Synonyms/Vocabulary
"He hits from both sides of the plate.  He's amphibious."
"I'm not going to buy my kids an encyclopedia. Let them walk to school like I did."
"You can observe a lot by watching."
"If you can't imitate him, don't copy him."

More great Yogi-isms:
"It ain't over til it's over."
"When you come to a fork in the road, take it."

"Nobody goes there anymore; it's too crowded."
"The future ain't what it used to be."
"Half the lies they tell me aren't true."


Celebrating September (Plus Some Free Writing Activities)

September is full of fun days to celebrate in the classroom.  Whether you need some interesting writing prompts or a quick activity, here are some ideas:

Labor Day: the first Monday in September.  This day celebrates American workers and how their contributions have made the U.S. a better country... and the unofficial end to summer.
Writing Prompt Ideas:

  • Have kids write about what they want to be when they grow up.  (See below)
  • Tell how you spent your day off.  
  • For older kids, you can discuss the dangerous working conditions of long ago (around the time of the first Labor Day in 1882) and today.

September 12: National Video Games Day 
Writing Prompt Ideas:
  • Tell about your favorite video game
  • Do you think parents should limit the amount of time that children play video games?  Explain.
  • Explain how to win one of your favorite video games. (Review of sequencing words)
  • Do you enjoy playing video games?  Why or why not?

September 13: Grandparents Day
Writing Prompt Ideas:
  • Tell something special about each of your grandparents.
  • How do you think life was different when your grandparents were your age.
  • What do you enjoy doing with your grandparents?
  • What are some things you would like to know about your grandparents when they were younger?

September 16: Mexican Independence Day Great time for a quick geography lesson.  If you have Mexican students, have them share a bit about their culture or how they celebrate this day. Compare with your Independence Day holiday.

September 17: Constitution Day

September 19: International Talk Like a Pirate Day
See if your students can guess the meanings of the following pirate words:
  • "Ahoy!" --- Hello
  • "Aye" --- Yes
  • "Booty"--- Treasure
  • "Hearties" --- Friends
  • "Land lubber" --- someone who prefers to stay on land
  • "Maties" --- Friends
  • "Me" --- My
  • "Savvy?" --- Do you understand?
  • "Shiver me timbers!" --- OMG
  • "Ye" --- You

September 23: The Autumnal Equinox or The First Day of Fall

September 26: Johnny Appleseed Day
There are so many activities that you can do with apples!  Here is one below to practice the five senses and/or parts of speech.

And finally, an acrostic poem!  For students needing assistance, have them work in groups to brainstorm "fall words."  As a group, they then choose their favorite word or phrase for each letter.  Finally, they can read their work to the class and display. More advanced students can work individually.

Download these free activities here!

Thank you for looking!  I hope you enjoy one or all of these activities!


I Love Task Cards! (Plus a Freebie!)

As an elementary Language Arts ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) teacher,  I found that a successful class was always one in which my students were up and moving around (while engaged in some learning activity, of course).  That is why I love task cards and any other hands on manipulative lessons.
There are many reasons I love Task Cards:
1.  It saves on paper! Laminate them and use them year after year.
2.  Student centered learning: Students can work independently or in pairs while you rotate around the room giving individualized help when needed.
3.  A nice change from worksheets; students feel like they are playing a game.
4. Great for small group intervention. Keep them handy when you need to review.
5. Great for Literacy Centers
6. Gets students up and moving around.  We know many students just work better when up and moving around.
7.  Students get that feeling of accomplishment as they check off their completion list.
8.  They are fun. Make a game out of them.  For example, create a scavenger hunt and place around the classroom.

My Task Cards are a little different from the rest.  That is because each task card has multiple (5-10) questions each.  Students can work on just one or complete more if they are more advanced.  They are also differentiated so that multiple levels can work on them.  Depending on their level, students can work independently on in pairs.  

Try out these **FREE** Task Cards in your classroom.


Makeover Madness: Week #1

Week #1 of the TpT Seller Challenge has begun and the challenge is to make over a cover product.  (I found directions on the blog Teach Create Motivate.) I have been been working on new covers for the last month or so and have had great results.
Who knew what a difference a new background and better fonts could make?!
Here are some tips that have helped me with me with the cover above as well as others:

1.  First, I changed my cover fonts, making my titles much larger and bolder.  (My favorite fonts are
     from www.kevinandamanda.) In addition to changing the cover fonts, I also changed the titles    
     to what I thought most people would be searching for. For example, the main title in my old   
     cover page (see below) was “Writing Prompts” with “Narratives” written underneath and in   
     smaller type. Since this product will cater more to people searching for "Narrative Writing", 
     rather than "Writing Prompts",  that should be the title that people will see first, as in my new 

2.  Although there is excellent free clip art, I spent money in order to purchase some
     great frames and backgrounds. Many sellers will tell you that you have to spend money on clip  
     art to make great products and I don’t disagree.

3.  Third, I added actual pages from my product to the cover page.  I noticed that when
     I am looking for a product myself, I usually just check out the ones that have pages
     from the product on the cover.  It is one less step for me.  If those pages look interesting,
     I will click on the product to further check it out.  (To do this, just create jpeg images of
     your product and then “Insert pictures” onto your cover page.)

Old Cover
New Cover
Here is one more example:


Summer Writing Prompts

I have been trying to come up with creative (yet sneaky) ways to get my own third grader writing this summer.  Spending an entire school year preparing for testing seems to have left little time for creative writing.
I came up with some fun prompts to use with him and wanted to share.


Which is a better place to spend your summer vacation, at the beach or in the mountains? Explain your answer.

Do you think it is important for children your age to know how to swim?  Explain why or why not.

Do you think children should be allowed to stay up later in the summertime?  Explain why or why not.

Imagine that your principal has decided that you only get a two week summer vacation.  Write a letter to him/her explaining why this is not a good idea.

Informative and Explanatory

Explain how to build a sandcastle.

Write about your favorite sea animal.  Tell what it looks like, what it eats and any other interesting facts that you know.

Sometimes students say that they get bored in the summer.  Explain how students can keep busy and have fun in the summer.

Imagine you have been asked to plan a camping trip for your family.  Tell what you need to bring.  Don’t forget to include special equipment for activities such as fishing or roasting marshmallows.


Tell about a trip you have taken.  Tell where you went, who went with you and other interesting details.

Imagine that for one day, you have been turned into one of the following:  a mermaid or a pirate.  Tell about how you spend your day.

Tell about one of your favorite summer memories.  It could be a day spent at an amusement park, a visit to a favorite relative, or even a day spent at home doing something fun.

Imagine you and your friends are digging a hole in the sand at the beach.  Your shovel suddenly hits something hard.  When you look closer, you see a golden treasure chest.  Will you open it? What do you find inside? 

How To

Tell how to make a s'more

Tell how to set up a tent

Tell how to set up and run a lemonade stand

Tell how to build a sand castle


Free and Fun! Seasonal Activities






Please enjoy these free summer reading passages!
They can be used as a quick warm up, in reading centers or for homework.
It includes 4 reading passages with 3 comprehension questions each:

• Flag Day

• Buzzing Bees!

• Popsicles! (The Invention of the Popsicle)

• Great White Sharks

Also included is one worksheet for recalling 4 facts they have learned.

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