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3 Book Ideas for Teaching Students to Make Connections

Photo of book Super Completely and Totally the Messiest and schema anchor chart

Teaching students to make connections is an important reading comprehension skill. It’s important for students to be able to connect to what they are reading to help them understand it at a deeper level. Today I’m sharing with you some of my favorite picture books to use for this reading skill. These picture books work great for text-to-self connections. 

Making Connection Book Recommendations

This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience.

Photo of book Super Completely and Totally the Messiest

Super Completely and Totally the Messiest

This hilarious story has many connections for anyone who is messy or knows someone who is messy. Olivia’s sister, Sophie is the messiest person around and students will love coming up with connections to the crazy things that happen. This is one of my favorite books to use with making connections and I often start with this book!

Photo of book Ira Sleeps Over

Ira Sleeps Over

Most kids can relate to the excitement and nervousness that comes with your very first sleepover, which is the focus on this story. Ira is excited for his first sleepover, but also unsure about bringing his teddy bear. Students often relate to the special stuffed animal, feelings about his older sister, and feelings surrounding the sleepover.

Photo of book Charlie Anderson

Charlie Anderson

Charlie Anderson is a sweet story about a cat who goes between two houses – one during the day and one at night, but the owners don’t know that at the beginning. This is a great book for students who have two or more houses to connect with. Students will also be able to connect to having a pet and worrying about what might happen to that pet if it was missing.

More Book Recommendations

For more book recommendations, check out the blog posts below…

8 Favorite Writing Mentor Texts

Picture Books for Opinion Writing

Picture Books for Place Value

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Comparing and Contrasting Fiction Stories


Comparing and contrasting fiction stories is one of my favorite ELA literature skills to teach! There are so many fun books you can use and I love using thinking maps to help the kids with their comparisons. In this post, I’ll share with you some fun book pairings and also how I use thinking maps to help students compare.

Book Suggestions:

I love using Fairy tale books for this standard! There are so many different versions of each fairy tale that you’ll have tons of options to choose from. Below you’ll find a few of my favorites!

Please note Amazon affiliate links are included in this post for your convenience.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.


Photos of


Seriously Cinderella is SO Annoying

Cinder Edna


Cindy Ellen

The Egyptian Cinderella

Jack and the Beanstalk

Jack and the Beanstalk Book Versions

Jack and the Beanstalk

It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk

Trust Me, Jack’s Beanstalk Stinks!

Waynetta and the Cornstalk

Jack and the Beanstalk and the French Fries

Jack’s Giant Problem

Goldilocks and the Three Bears

Goldilocks and the Three Bears

Believe Me, Goldilocks Rocks

Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas

Goldie Socks and the Three Libearians

Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs

Goldilocks and Just the One Bear

Red Riding Hood

Little Red Riding Hood

Honestly, Red Riding Hood was Rotten

Petite Rouge

Lon Po Po

Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion

Little Red’s Riding’Hood

The 3 Little Pigs

The Three Little Pigs

No Lie, Pigs  (And Their Houses) Can Fly

The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs

The Three Little Javelinas

The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig

Tell The Truth B.B. Wolf

Double Bubble Map:

Thinking Maps are one of my favorite ways for students to organize and display their ideas!  I have been trained on this at a past school and used them with my classes ever since! I love that they are easy-to-use and a great way to organize kids thoughts.

For comparing and contrasting fiction stories I like to use the Double Bubble Map. This is very similar to a Venn diagram. For the double bubble map, you put the two books on different sides and on the outside of those you add things from the story that are different about the books. Then, in the middle you put the things that are the same.  Again very similar to a Venn diagram so you could use either.

See below to check out a Double Bubble Map I created with a first grade class comparing and contrasting – No Lie, Pigs Can Fly and The 3 Little Pigs.

ELA Standards:

These book ideas work very well to cover RL2.9 – Compare and contrast two or more versions of the same story (e.g., Cinderella stories) by different authors or from different cultures. Some of the picture books also work well for RL2.6 – Acknowledge the differences in the points of view of characters, including by speaking in a different voice for each character when reading dialogue aloud.

January Classroom Ideas

Reading, Math

Please note Amazon affiliate links are included in this post for your convenience.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Blog Header for January Classroom Ideas. Photos of Snowmen Book, Free Writing Prompt, Word Activity, and Crumpled paper.

Today I’ll be rounding up a variety of teaching ideas that you can use during the month of January. I will share some engaging books, activities, and a FREEBIE that you can use with your class.

January Book Suggestions:

Photos of 5 January Books - The Mitten, How to Catch a Snowman, Snowmen at Night, Sneezy the Snowman, and Snow Globe Family

Here are five fun books that you can share with your class during the month of January.

January Classroom Ideas for Grouping Students:

Photo of crumpled paper for January Classroom Idea

One of my favorite greetings for Morning Meeting is the Snowball Greeting, which can also be used to help group or partner students. For this snowball activity, each student will need a piece of blank paper and they’ll write their name in the middle of it. Then, students will stand in a circle and crumple their paper up (making it a snowball). Then, you’ll announce snowball fight and students will toss their paper/snowball into the middle of the circle. Students will then go into the middle to grab a snowball (you’ll want to go over expectations for this so it doesn’t turn into chaos). Students will read the name on the snowball they grabbed and that will then be their partner for the activity or discussion. You can also have students continue to do this after each question so they get a different partner to work with each time.

January Resource Suggestions:

Photo of January Slides, Word problem, and making words activity for January Classroom Ideas.

Here are three of my favorite resources to use during the month of January…

  1. January Morning Meeting Activity Slides – You’ll have your entire month of January planned out for Morning Meeting Activities with this easy-to-use resource! Includes activities like Noggle, Word Creator, Story Starter, Quick Draw, and more! Click HERE to grab these for your class.
  2. Winter Word Problems – I love using word problems in the classroom since they hit so many skills (addition, subtraction, strategies, problem solving, and more). These winter themed word problems are great for independent practice, can be used as an Around the Room Activity, and more! Get these word problems HERE for your math students! (Digital and Print and Digital Bundle are also available in my store).
  3. Winter Making Words – Students love this activity and it is perfect for a literacy station! Students cut up the letters and use those letters to make as many words as they can. They also are working to figure out what the mystery word is using all of their letters! Grab it HERE for your class.

January Classroom Ideas FREEBIE:

Photo of Free Writing Prompts with Snowman Prompt - How to Build a Snowman

These FREE Winter Writing Prompts are perfect to use in your classroom during the month of January! This FREEBIE includes 4 different prompts total and cover narrative, opinion, and procedural writing. These engaging prompts are great to use as a writing warm-up, for homework, literacy stations, and more! Grab this FREEBIE >>> HERE.

Pin for January Classroom Ideas. Photos of Snowmen Book, Free Writing Prompt, Word Activity, and Crumpled paper.

Teaching Mental Images

Blog heading for Ideas for Teaching Mental Images

This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience.

Mental Images is one of my favorite reading comprehension skills to teach! It is such an important concept for students to learn and can be helpful with boosting their comprehension and understanding of stories! Today I’ll be sharing with you my favorite books to use for teaching mental images and some lesson ideas!

Debbie Miller also has an amazing teaching resource – Reading with Meaning – that has lots of great ideas for mental images and many other reading skills! I highly suggest checking it out!

Book Suggestions for Mental Images:

The Napping House by Audrey Wood

The Napping House picture book for Mental Images

This comical story is all about a house where everyone is napping. It starts off with a granny who is asleep and then a child falls asleep on top of the granny. Then, a dog falls asleep on top of the child and it continues on and on. This is a great book to use when stopping multiple times to see how mental images change over time.

The Salamander Room by Anne Mazar

The Salamander Room (Dragonfly Books) - picture book cover

In this story, a boy finds a salamander and starts to imagine all of the ways he could turn his room into a home for the creature. This story paints great images and is a great way for students to come up with mental images on their own.

Super Completely and Totally the Messiest by Judith Viorst

Super-Completely and Totally the Messiest picture book cover

This is my favorite story for mental images. In this book, we are introduced to a character named Olivia whose younger sister Sophie is quite a mess! This story has many situations that kids can relate to which makes it easier for them to use schema to help them create their mental images.

Fireflies by Judy Brinckloe

Fireflies - picture book for Mental Images

In this story a young boy is excited to catch as many fireflies as he can. He thinks they are so enchanting but as the story progresses he realizes he must set them free.  Fireflies can provide a great visual. Now if students don’t have schema this visual could be interesting, but could also be a great way to discuss how people can interpret things differently.

Bedhead by Margie Palatini

Bedhead - picture book

This is another comical book that most students will relate to! We’ve all gotten bedhead at one time or another.  This story has Oliver’s family trying to help contain the bedhead and ends up with him realizing it’s picture day at school. The author writes so descriptively that the kids will have a great time creating mental images.

Teaching Ideas:

Creating Mental Images from Their Life:

First, I have students create mental images from events in their own life. I find it helps them to understand the concept if they can apply it to themselves first. I give them a paper with four boxes – one for each image. Prior to sketching the image, students close their eyes to focus on the specific mental image.  For this activity, I will often have students create an image for the time they learned how to ride a bike, a time they got hurt, their last birthday party, and their favorite place.


Debbie Miller suggests using poetry for mental images and it is a great way to help students use it with text – but on a small scale! I love using Shel Silverstein’s poems for this activity.  Students relate to them and they are funny, which makes them super engaging.  I use Bandaids, Sister for Sale, Rain, and Spaghetti.  

Students get to hear all of the poems and then pick the one that gave them the strongest mental image. Then, students will draw the image on a blank piece of paper.  After we talk about how even though some students chose the same poem, their images are different. We talk about how their schema and point of view plays a part in how they create their own mental images.

Photo of drawing of Spaghetti poem.
Photo of drawing of Rain poem


Next, I use many of the books that I listed above to help with visualizing.  For these read alouds, I do NOT show the pictures! I want the students to create the pictures in their mind. {I will often go back and read the story again after the activity and then share the illustrations).  

With these read alouds, I plan out a few stopping points ahead of time. I will often give students a page with 3-4 boxes. When I pause reading, students will then sketch their current mental image in one of the boxes. Then, I read some more and they sketch their new image. This is a great way to help students understand that their mental image can change over time. See an example below for the story – The Napping House.

Photo of book - The Napping House
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10 Favorite Read Alouds

Reading, Books

This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience.

Today I’m sharing with you some of my favorite picture books and chapter books to read aloud to my class.  Over the years my students and I have found some great ones that I read year after year!

Here are some of our favorites…

The Day the Crayons Quit – This story and the sequel below are so funny! The pictures are amazing and the story is quite clever. The kids and I both enjoy reading this one every year.
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The Day the Crayons Came Home – The sequel to the book above is just as good as the first. I got this book at our Book Fair a few years ago and it is equally as funny as the first!
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Chester – This book is hilarious! It’s all about how Chester tries to take over this book that the author is writing about a mouse.  Very funny and the kids always love the ending!

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The Pout-Pout Fish – This is a great rhyming book and has a great rhythm to it!  Another cute story that the kids always love.
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Seriously, Cinderella is So Annoying! – This book is Cinderella, but told from the stepmother’s point of view.  A great story to explain point of view, great voice, and creativity too.  There are many more out there – Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks, etc.  Perfect if point of view is in your reading standards.
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Junie B. Jones– Now, I know many teachers are not a fan of Junie B because of her poor grammar and sometimes poor choices – but I find her funny. I would read most of the series to my class when I taught first grade. Now, I agree Junie B doesn’t always speak properly, however, it does bring up a good teaching moment where you can discuss what the proper way would have been.  She’s funny and the kids relate to her. I even enjoy it! I’m a little sad that there isn’t a second grade part of the series…
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Jake Drake Series – This is a newer series for me. I tried out Jake Drake, Teacher’s Pet last year and my class and I both enjoyed it. There are a few books in the series and you can never go wrong with an Andrew Clement’s book.  He is another character who has many situations at school that kids are familiar with.  I actually just recently bought the whole set on Amazon so I can read all four books to my students next year.
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Clementine – So, as I mentioned, there is no 2nd grade version of Junie B, however Clementine comes close.  Clementine reminds me of Junie B, but is in 3rd or 4th grade.  She is a bit of a goofball, but again a crazy character that the kids find funny.  I’ve read a few in this series to my class and each year a few kids get interested and finish the series on their own.
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Frindle – As I mentioned above, who doesn’t love Andrew Clement’s books? Frindle is creative and funny. This is definitely a book I read out loud towards the end of the year as it is higher than 2nd grade level, but the kids love it. It’s all about how this class led a movement to start calling pens Frindles and started an all-out war of sorts with one of the teachers at the school.
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The Chocolate Touch – The Chocolate Touch is a hilarious book about a boy who is obsessed with chocolate.  He ends up eating this mysterious chocolate which makes everything that he puts into his mouth turn into chocolate.  This is always a favorite in my classroom and some years I’ve even done a book study with it.


So, those are a few of my favorite read aloud books. What are some of your favorites?? Write me in the comments below…



Fun Review Games for the Classroom

Math, Language, Reading
Blog header for Fun Review Games for the Classroom

Reviewing content does not have to be boring! Reviewing is necessary and to make it more meaningful we need to make it engaging and fun! Check out five ideas below for fun review games you could use in your classroom. (These games are mainly math focused, but you could use them for any subject matter).

Connect 4 Review Game

Connect 4 review questions and board

I got this idea from Candance (@themeaningfulmiddle on IG).  Connect 4 is always a fun game and it can be used to review any type of content! I’ve used it in math and to review classroom expectations.  This game can get very competitive and it’s fun to see the different strategies the teams use to win.

To play…

  • Divide your students up into teams.  I typically put 4-5 students on each team.
  • Each team gets a different color pad of sticky notes.  This is where they write their answers.
  • Create any type of questions (Math, ELA, Grammar. Social Studies, Science, etc). I project these on my Smart Board.  This photo is an example from a first grade math review.  (This is done ahead a time).  
  • Students will work with their team to answer the question and place their sticky note on the board.  The goal is to try to connect 4 horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.  Students may also place their sticky note in a way that blocks others from connecting 4.
  • Once a team has connected 4, I draw a line through the four and give the team a point.  The team with the most points at the end wins!

This game may get a little rowdy, but they have tons of fun and they are reviewing content all at the same time!

Connect 4 board with post-it notes

Crack the Code

Crack the Code review questions and sample code

I created Crack the Code last year as a way to review math content. This game works well with math because the hidden message is uncovered through numbers.  You could always use this with different content areas too.

To play…

Create your hidden message. I often make it a fun reward like (YOU GET EXTRA TIME AT RECESS) or something with a special treat.  

Then, you create the questions.  I typically create around 20.  You just want to make sure you have enough to cover all of the letters.  

The hidden message is put up on a white board (as seen in the first picture) and I normally show the actual content questions on my Smart Board.

The questions then align to the numbers which help them crack the code. For example, the problem 8 + 7 = ___.  Students will get 15 as their answer which corresponds to A.  You then fill in the letter A in the 15 number spot of the hidden message.

For students, I have them use white boards for this game. This way each child is engaged and participating.  Students will respond on their white boards and then show their answers.  We will then discuss, put the letter in the correct spot, and move on to the next question.

Once all of the questions are answered, the hidden message is complete and the kids will find out what it says. 

Basketball Review Game

Basketball room transformation. The basketball hoop baskets on the tables are used for the game.

This review game came to be because it tied in perfectly with my basketball room transformation during March Madness!

To play…

  • Divide your students up into teams.  I typically put 3-4 students on each team.
  • Each team gets a white board to respond to the questions.
  • Create any type of questions (Math, ELA, Grammar. Social Studies, Science, etc). I project these on my Smart Board.   (This is done ahead a time).  
  • Students will work with their team to answer the question. Once each group has answered any team who has the correct answer gets a chance to shoot a basket. (I gave a clear rotation for this so students knew the order and everyone got equal turns).
  • The basketball shooter would come up to the carpet with one of my tiny basketballs (foam or small ones) and would shoot it into the basketball Easter basket (you can see these on the students tables). If they got the ball in the basket, then their team earned a point. The team with the most points at the end – wins!
  • I didn’t get very clear pictures of this game, but you can see the basketball hoops used in the photo above!

Horseshoes Review Game

Horseshoe game

This review game came to be because it tied in perfectly with our Rodeo Day in February and my rodeo room transformation!

To play…

  • Divide your students up into teams.  I divided the class up into two teams.
  • Each team gets a white board to respond to the questions.
  • Create any type of questions (Math, ELA, Grammar. Social Studies, Science, etc). I project these on my Smart Board.   (This is done ahead a time).  You can see an example at the bottom of this paragraph.
  • Students will work with their team to answer the question. Once each group has answered any team who has the correct answer gets a chance to toss the horseshoe. (I gave a clear rotation for this so students knew the order and everyone got equal turns).
  • The student would come up to the carpet to throw the horseshoe. If they got it around the pole then their team earned a point (see picture above). The team with the most points at the end – wins! I got my horseshoe game at Amazon.
Review questions for finding the rule and the missing numbers.

Saran Wrap Game

Saran Wrap Ball Game

I know this game is often played as a holiday game at Christmas time, but it also works well as a review game!

To play:

  • Teacher sets up the saran wrap ball ahead of time. I included 16 review questions so I had 4 different colors and a total of 16 unifix cubes. I used blue, yellow, green, and orange and had paper that color coordinated.
  • Then, set up the review problems. I used a simple table and made sure the paper color coordinated to the colors in the saran wrap ball.
  • Students are each given their own review packet and each group is given a saran wrap ball. I had my students work in groups of 3-4.
  • One student unravels the saran wrap ball until a cube pops out. If it’s a yellow cube then everyone solves one problem on the yellow page.
  • This continues until all of the cubes are unwrapped and all of the problems are solved.
  • During the activity, I would go around to check for understanding and assist as needed while the students were solving the problems.

I hope this ideas are helpful and can make your review time more engaging. I know my students and I both enjoy these games and they definitely are more fun than a boring review packet.

Long Pin for Fun Review Games for the Classroom

How I Use Book Studies in the Classroom

Reading, Literacy Stations

Picture of girl reading a book

I have been using book studies in my classroom for as long as I have been teaching and it is a favorite time of mine and also for my students. Today I’m going to lay out how I use book studies in the classroom and why I find it to be a successful, engaging activity.

Why Do I Use Book Studies?

Book studies have many positive benefits.

  • Provides opportunities for students to practice decoding, reading fluently, and comprehending the story
  • Provides students a chance to practice writing their responses and restating the question in their answer
  • Gives an opportunity for students to work independently or with a team

Grades for Book Studies:

In my opinion, book studies can be used from first grade up.  I know you’re thinking first grade seems young and they are, but I have some students in my current class who are ready and just finished their first Nate the Great Book Study – with teacher guidance of course.  Now will all of my first graders participate in a book study this year….no. I have some students who struggle with reading and a book study would frustrate them.

When I taught second grade the last few years I had three whole class book studies (Charlotte’s Web, The Chocolate Touch, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) that we did together as a class. I also had multiple book studies going in small groups during literacy stations. The nice thing about book studies is there are books at a variety of levels.  So even if you have high readers or lower readers there will probably be a just right book for them to use during a book study.

Choosing Book Study Groups

An important thing to keep in mind when choosing which students you are putting together in a book study is who works well together (which you think about any time you put students into groups).  In addition to students who work well together, you want to also make sure you have students with similar reading levels. The goal of a book study isn’t for the higher student to help the struggling student read, but that they are similar levels and working together to read and comprehend.

You also want to consider how many students you want participating in the book study. I’ve done whole class book studies, small groups (3-4 students), partnership book studies, and independent ones.

So the biggest thing to keep in mind…

  • Who works well together
  • Behaviors
  • Reading levels

Choosing a Book

As I mentioned earlier in this blog post there are tons of books out there that fit many different reading levels.  You want to choose a book that the group , partnership, or child will be able to read independently.  You also want to choose a book that interests them. I will often pull out two-three book choices and give the group a chance to vote on which book they want to read. Choice helps with engagement and buy-in so I always try to let my students choose the book.

How do I find multiple sets of the book?

Scholastic is a great place to find multiple sets of books.  Often in the actual pamphlet/magazine thing that comes with the book orders they have options for you to order certain books in sets of 6.  This is a great way to build a little book study library of sorts.  You can also check out books from the library, shop at Good Will, buy them from Amazon, etc.

First Day

When starting a new book study with a small group I have the book and packet ready to go for day 1.  First, I go over the expectations. I explain to them that this is a special activity that they get to do and I need them to take it seriously.

Then, I hand out the books and the students make predictions about what will happen based on the cover.  We read the first chapter together out loud taking turns on each page.

After we read the first chapter we start answering the questions.  I like using these packets not only because students have to write their answer, but it also gives them practice writing in complete sentences.  I make sure students restate the question in their answer, include capitals, periods, etc.  So not only are the practicing their comprehension by answering the question, but they are also working on their written response skills.

After we’ve gone through the first set of questions I will often send the kids off on their own.  I’ve done this in 2nd grade and up.  I would not do this with first grade unless you have a teaching assistant, parent volunteer, older student they could work with, or if they are super mature.  Students in second grade and up I then send off to read the next chapter with their partner or group and answer the questions.  Once they are finished with a chapter they let me know and I pull them back to meet with them and review what was read.  The nice thing about this is it frees me up to pull other groups while they’re working on the independent portion of this.  This routine continues until they are finished with the book.

Picture of I Survived Book Study

Book Study Favorites

I’ve created a few different book study resources that I have used in my classroom including: Jake Drake series, Ivy and Bean, Cam Jansen, Nate the Great, Surprises According to Humphrey and more.  To see all of my book studies in my TPT store, click HERE.


FREE Book Study Discussion Cards

Grab a FREE set of Book Study Discussion Cards that can be used with any fiction story. Great for discussion and can also be used for written response. Click HERE for your FREEBIE.

Pizzeria Room Transformation

Writing, Math, Reading

Today I’m excited to share my second room transformation with you!  This one was a Pizzeria Room Transformation.  Our pizzeria was called Village Pizzeria.  I’m going to take you through the decor and the different activities that we did during the day.

Decorations and Room Set-Up:

Picture of Pizzeria with lights off and candles on

Here you can see the set-up with the lights out.  The tablecloths are from the dollar store, the battery candles are actually from my wedding registry, and my teaching assistant made the flowers out of tissue paper.  On the Smart Board I had a photo of a pizzeria and played Italian music to help set the mood.  They have tons of great options for this on YouTube!

Picture of Pizzeria set-up

Picture of pizza banner and pizzeria decor

On the back bulletin board my teaching assistant made the cute banner of pizzas.  We also found pizza and pizzeria pictures online and hung them on the walls.

Picture of Village Pizzeria backdrop

My teaching assistant also traced and made this sign from one we found online. We used this as a backdrop to take each student’s photo with their chef hat and mustache that you will see later in the post.

Costume and Staff Roles Idea:

Picture of teacher dressed up as server in front of welcome background

For the pizzeria room transformation I decided to be the server.  Since I wasn’t a teacher that day, I decided to have the kids call me Giana and that would be my pizzeria server name. I wore a name tag, had a server apron, and glasses at times.  My teaching assistant dressed up as a chef with a chef hat and apron.  We also got my assistant principal involved. She helped with the first activity below.  She was the owner of the pizzeria and her name was Barbara.  She dressed up, had an Italian accent, and had a lot of fun with her role in our pizzeria!

Opinion Writing Activity:

Picture of Oreo cookies and writing piece

We have been working on opinion writing in class and I wanted to tie that in to the pizzeria room transformation.  “Barbara,” our owner (our assistant principal) came in and asked them if they would help taste test two different Oreo’s to see which should be added to her menu. The kids were excited to do this and enjoyed trying both. I was surprised because red velvet won and I was sure that many of them would go for the peanut butter. After testing both cookies they wrote their opinion and had to give reasons to support the cookie they picked.

Menu Math:

Picture of math menu and worksheet

I created pizzeria menus that we used for our math lesson. I also created differentiated story problems for three different groups to work on.  All story problems fit around the menu theme and definitely made them think outside the box.  My goal was to push all of my students/customers and these problems did just that.  They loved choosing their own items from the menu for question 2 and did a great job showing work for how they got their answers.

Picture of Menu Math story problems

Above and below you can see the three different story problem pages.  As you can see they are similar, but differentiated to meet all of my learners.

Picture of Menu Math story problems

Book Tasting:

Picture of book tasting table set-up

Picture of book tasting table set-up

The book tasting was another perfect event for our room transformation.  After lunch the kids came back in and I had it all set-up.  There were six tables and three different genres – fairy tale, fiction, and nonfiction. Students were assigned as a specific seat by the hostess (me) and then given directions.  They had about 5 minutes to “taste” their book and write the title and genre.  On the page they also could give their book a rating with stars.  A 5 star book was a fantastic book that they wanted to read again and a 1 star book was one that they were not interested in. They were very honest with their reviews and also had a chance to read books from a variety of genres.  Below you’ll see the book tasting form.

Picture of book tasting form

Making a Mini Pizza:

Next came the part the kids had been waiting all day for! Each student got to make their own mini pizza.  We used english muffins, marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, and pepperonis.  Our chef (my teaching assistant) did a demo cooking lesson and then each child got to make their own mini pizza.  They wore the cute chef hats pictured below and also each got a mustache.  I took pictures of them in front of the backdrop with both props and they turned out adorable!

Picture of chef hat and mustache

Writing a How To:

Picture of how to writing piece sample from a student

After creating their own mini pizza, each child wrote their own “how to” explaining how to make a mini pizza.  They loved that they got to write down their recipe so they could make them again at home.

All in all it was a wonderful day and the second room transformation of the year was a success! Stay tuned for future transformations and ideas!

Pizzeria Resource

You can grab these activities in my TPT store >>> HERE.

Football Room Transformation

Math, Reading, Writing

So today I am super excited to share with you my room transformation that I did a few weeks ago.  For my first room transformation this year I decided to do a football theme. What started out as just a transformation for a math review turned into why not make the whole day football themed! Go big or go home – right?? So this room transformation took on a life of it’s own and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out!  In this blog post I’ll take you through the decorations and different events of the day.  I had a blast and my kids had a blast! It was probably one of the best days we’ve had this school year so far.


Room Transformation Info:

For the room transformation I got items from Amazon, Party City, and we made many of them too.  The football backdrop and football runner were from Party City. My ref shirt came from Amazon. I printed and made the football logos.  My teaching aide made the tablecloths with a football stamp and the other football signs.  The decorations definitely helped set the mood!

Each child had their picture taken in front of the backdrop. The posed with the football. I so wish I could show you the pictures because some of them took it rather seriously!


If I Were a Football Player Page:

During morning meeting, which I called a team meeting, we discussed some of the questions on the page above. Students then got to create their football name, pick their number, decide the team name, mascot, etc.  They had fun being creative and coming up with some interesting mascots and names!


Jersey Design:

Next students got to design their own jerseys. I showed them a few examples of real NFL and college jerseys and then they got to work. They used their team colors and number on the jersey. The t-shirt page was from Heather Toomey.


Football Math Review Game:

When students came back from PE I had the game set-up for them. I used a long football yard-line table runner on the floor and that was how we showed we each team earned a point (10 yards) for each correct question. When they came in the room I had the Sunday Night Football song playing to get them pumped up and ready!

I broke the class up into two teams for the math review game. Each team had a designated “captain” who came forward for the coin toss. Another teacher happened to stop by so she became our NFL commissioner and actually tossed the coin for us!  Heads won and off we went!

The review game included some of the questions above. This unit in math covered items such as: combos of 10, counting and adding on, solving word problems, identifying and labeling numbers.  Teams worked together to figure out the answer and a different child gave the answer each time to make sure everyone was included. Each time they got an answer correct they earned 10 yards. I planned it ahead of time so that each team would end up with the same points so we had no hurt feelings.  At the end of the game, each team added up all of their tens to see who won! Since each team won, each player got a football bracelet from Party City that had sports sayings on it.


Football Math Stations:

To continue reviewing for out test we also completed math stations with activities practicing the different skills.  The football popcorn holders held the activities and these were from Party City. Each group rotated to each station as you can see below.


This activity was completed with my teaching aide. She would give the kids a number and they would fill it in on the ten frame. Then she would ask further questions like how  many more would you need to make 10.

This tens frame Around the Room activity I got on TPT from Resource Ranch. Students would add the two numbers together and record their answer on the recording sheet.

Students worked on football story problems when they came to my station. I created similar problems but differentiated the numbers to meet the different levels in my classroom.

Students worked on ordering numbers at this station. There were baggies with ten numbers in it and the kids had to put them in order from least to greatest.  The football numbers are from Teacher Trish.

At this station students played Memory with the football cards.  This was a great way to practice combos of 10!



During reading we read and discussed the story Football Dinosaurs.  Then, during snack we watched the Tiki Barber story on Tumble Books.



To tie in writing, students wrote their opinion about their favorite sport. We brainstormed all the different kinds of sports and students picked one to write about. They also had to give a reason for their choice.  This page is from The Simplified Classroom.



All in all this one was of my favorite teaching days ever! We had so much fun and was I tired at the end of the day!  You exert so much energy during days like this that I had no trouble going to sleep that night!


Stay tuned…I have another room transformation coming in a few weeks! Be sure to follow me on Instagram to stay up to speed with all of the latest in my classroom!



TPT Bonus Sale Tomorrow

Writing, Reading

Tomorrow – Tuesday, August 21 is the TPT Back to School BONUS Sale!! My entire store – Team J’s Classroom Fun- Jordan Johnson – will be on sale for up to 25% off with the code BTSBONUS18!

Here are a few ELA resources you might be interested in:

Grammar Fix-It BUNDLE: Great way to practice a variety of grammar skills! Can be used as a formative assessment, in a literacy station, or as a whole or small group activity.  Includes: capitals, end marks, commas, apostrophes, high frequency spelling words, quotation marks, and verb tense agreement.

Grammar Practice BUNDLE

Opinion Writing Prompt Cards: Great way to cover opinion writing for first and second grade! These are perfect to throw into a Writing Station! 30 different opinion prompts included.

Opinion Writing Prompts

Surprises According to Humphrey Book Study: I use these during literacy stations. I have students partner up and work on book studies together! I then meet with students to discuss and we have a little book club of sorts!

Surprises According to Humphrey - Book Study

Load up those shopping carts for tomorrow! Also make sure you leave feedback on past purchases to earn credits that you can use on future purchases.