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My humorous thoughts about life.

"My Humorous Thoughts About Life & Teaching"

Monday, October 7, 2019

October Fire Prevention Week

Fire Prevention Week is here and definitely a good thing to teach in the classroom. I'll never forget when my son came home from a fire assembly worried about being on the second floor of our house. We bought him a flexible ladder to keep by his window, and that helped him to sleep well. That ladder has never been used in over twenty years, but it still sits below his upstairs window. I'm just thankful he never used it to escape out of the house during his teenage years. At least we think he didn't . . .

My best year in teaching fire prevention was when we entered our city's video contest. My kids had a blast making a movie about fire prevention. It won a prize and was shown to the school, so it may be worthwhile for you to search the local fire department to see if any contests are in place. If they aren't, there is nothing wrong with putting on a skit for another class. The kids will love it and learn about staying safe, too.

Chicago Fire historical fiction story & questions

Also, find enough Fall Activities to keep your kids engaged and challenged throughout the month of October.

I send these posts to my mailing group; however, they get free resources along with the article. You can, too. Just join my group by clicking below!

You will also receive a FREE No Prep Problem Solving Pack!

Now, for a song!

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Varying Sentence Structure

We've all seen our students write stories that begin with the same subject in each sentence.

chocolate bar #writing #teaching

                               He went to the store.
                               He bought a candy bar.
                               He ate it on the way home.


Today's focus is varying sentence structure in writing, which can also be called using syntactic variety.

First off, if the subject is the same, students can combine the sentence into one sentence with series commas.

He went to the store, bought a candy bar, and ate it on the way home.

That fixes the feel of being in a car where the driver constantly slams on the breaks. Of course, this sentence has other problems, but if you've been following my writing articles, you know what to do!

Syntactic variety not only means joining sentences for smoother prose but also sprinkling short sentences along with the long ones to make for a better sounding passage.
writing about a kid in love with chocolate
In Love with Chocolate!

When Malcolm entered the Sweetie Pie candy shop, he spotted his favorite chocolate bar. The dark chocolate Millie bar, complete with marshmallows, almonds, and honey waited for the taking. Yum! Unfortunately, the Millie is the most expensive candy bar in the shop. $3.45 for one delightful taste. It was worth it! He carefully dug a five dollar bill out of his pocket and handed it to the waiting clerk. Before he could step out of the store, Malcolm had already ripped the wrapper. The sweet chocolate sloshed around in his mouth providing ecstasy!

Notice the shorter sentences sandwiched between the longer ones. Also, the sentences do not all start with "he" or use the same structure. That is syntactic variety. To teach this skill, have your students play with simple sentences or ideas. Tell them to include an interjection (Wow! Yay! Yikes!) somewhere between their long sentences. This technique will make their passages shine.

If you are interested in teaching students to vary their sentence structure, below is a link to a PowerPoint lesson that does just that.

lesson on teaching kids to vary sentence structure

I send these posts to my mailing group; however, they get free resources along with the article. You can, too. Just join my group by clicking below!

You will also receive a FREE No Prep Problem Solving Pack!

I hope you've enjoyed my series on writing skills. Tune in next month where I will provide guidance on things to do in October.

Thanks to Kate Hadfield Designs for the clipart. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Show Don't Tell

#TpT Article to teach show don't tell

I was upset when the car hit my dog.

Those of us who own dogs certainly understand how someone would feel if they lost their pet. After all, my dogs are my children. But as a reader, simply telling someone that you are upset does not invite them into the story. In order to truly build an understanding, the writer must show the scene as it happens.

First off, I think of what I would do if a car hit my fur baby.
  • cry
  • scream
  • stomp my feet
  • bury my face in his fur, the grass, etc.
Sometimes when I am writing, I feel like an actress as I physically go through the motions of what I would do before writing it all down. After living the emotions in my mind, it's time to write a scene as if I were a part of it.

The red Camaro whipped around the curve striking my dog, Zep, and continuing on its murderous path. Darting to the road, I sank to my knees and buried my tear filled eyes in his cold lifeless body. "No. Oh, no," I cried. Next, a blood curdling scream escaped from my throat as I moved his remains to a patch of grass. Fisting the trunk of a tree, I knew things would not be the same.

When writing with description of what happened, the reader becomes more invested in the scene. To teach this skill, I give each kids a note card with a different emotion written on it. They must write out a scene to show this emotion but are not allowed to mention the given word in their writing. Students read writing aloud as classmates have fun trying to guess which emotion the student has written about.
  • happy
  • sad
  • angry
  • proud
  • mean
  • afraid
  • confused
  • embarrassed
  • worried
  • surprised
After students practice this skill, you could give them a simple scene and have each child practice writing what you describe. For example, the teacher could say:  "After we hit the nurse with snowballs, she was angry." Instruct the students to describe the scene and show the anger. What did the nurse do?

I send these posts to my mailing group; however, they get a free resource along with the article. You can, too. Just join my group by clicking below!

You will also receive a FREE No Prep Problem Solving Pack!

Listed are PowerPoints to help teach this concept.

I hope you've enjoyed my series on writing skills. Tune in next week, where I will provide one final writing tip along with a prompt involving an October scene.

Thanks to Kate Hadfield Designs for the clipart. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Using Multiple Senses in Writing

#iteach #writing #writingtips

When teaching, how many of your students tell all about what they see in a scene? The visual is popular in young writers, but it's certainly not the only way to provide details in a story. We have five senses, so a writer who only includes the visual is short changing his or her readers. At a writers' conference, I was told that every time a character enters a new scene, that scene should be described with at least three senses.

To make students aware of multiple senses, I give them a handful of highlighter pens and ask them to color code their writing as follows:

  • sight - green
  • hearing - orange
  • touch - pink
  • smell - yellow
  • taste - purple
  • emotion - blue

After highlighting the senses used in writing, something is always missing, and it's usually not what the students sees.

#TpT #teachers #iteach456
Imagine a scene in the forest.

Sure, students can write about the green leafy canopy above, but how about including the sounds of the wind blowing those leaves and the crunch below their feet as they wander through the woods?

Or students could write about how they shiver in the cool breeze that spreads the scent of pine through the forest. Smell is quite powerful in writing because it often connects the reader to a memory. While smell provides the memory, taste means a challenge to the novice writer and is often the hardest sense to incorporate into a scene. When kids write about taste, make sure the taste has meaning in whatever is being written, rather than something thrown into a story for the sake of including the sense of taste. It is better to leave taste out altogether than to add it in a way that doesn't work for the reader.

I've also included emotion because a story with no emotion will come off as flat. After all, we are usually writing stories with main characters, and the more relatable the character, the more we will care about where they go or what they do.

Including multiple senses in writing is like colorizing a black and white movie. For a fun and productive lesson, have your students critique their own writing for senses and then work to add whatever is missing. Be sure to share the results!

If you are interested in teaching students to write using multiple senses, below is a link to a PowerPoint lesson that does just that.

#teachers, #tips, #writing using multiple senses

Using Senses in Writing

I send these posts to my mailing group; however, they get free resources along with the article. You can, too. Just join my group by clicking below!

You will also receive a FREE No Prep Problem Solving Pack!

Thanks to Kate Hadfield Designs for the clipart. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Using Specific Nouns in Writing

I've often told my students to close their eyes and imagine a dog. Next, I ask them what they see. There are usually as many different answers as students in the room because writing about a dog just doesn't point our readers in any set direction.

However, if I ask them to see a golden retriever puppy, they know what to imagine, if they've been lucky enough to know one. When it comes to writing, the author wants to lead the reader into what it is that they see. That is why my second blog tip is to use specific nouns in writing.

Rather than writing about candy, try saying chocolate. Of course, chocolate is not enough. Maybe Hershey bar would be more specific or Hershey bar with almonds. See the difference?

To teach students how to use specific nouns, I like to throw out vague nouns and see what they can do to make them more specific.
  • girl
  • chair
  • sign
  • book
Which is better?

The girl sat in a chair under a sign and read a book.


The two-year-old girl climbed into the wooden rocking chair, under the Furniture Department sign and studied the golden retriever puppy in her cardboard picture book.

Now, it's your turn to teach your writers how to use specific nouns!

I send these posts to my mailing group; however, they get free resources along with the article. You can, too. Just join my group by clicking below!

You will also receive a FREE No Prep Problem Solving Pack!

If you want help with this skill, I have a resource for you.

Using specific nouns in writing, #iteach #tpt

Friday, September 6, 2019

New and Free

Just a quick note to let you know what's new and FREE!


Logic puzzles about Southwest Region


Just like my blog, I've started a writing series with my mail group. The difference is that my mail group gets FREE products with each mailing. Why not join us?

In joining, you will also receive a FREE No Prep Problem Solving Pack. 

Get free resources by clicking link.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Using Strong Action Words in Writing

crying over losing be verbs  #teacher

I've always felt that one of my best tricks of the trade is to take away a boring verb and replace it with a strong action verb. For example, no one wants to read that, "The dog was sleepy." However, if you take away "was" and turn sleepy into the adjective before the noun, there is no limit to what you can write.

Writers can be typical:

The sleepy dog curled into itself under the desk.

Or include more action:

The sleepy dog defied slumber by lurching at the unsuspecting human trying to pet it.

Maybe even add some creativity:

The sleepy dog stretched its paws and signaled the spacecraft to retrieve it from earth.

No matter what you decide to do with the sleepy dog, removing the be verb frees you up to create a story behind the image.

Therefore, my first trick along the writer's journey is to find ways to eliminate those boring be verbs and replace them with action verbs. I've even held mock funerals in my class, where we take index cards and bury the words in the school yard.

We give a teary goodbye to our friends who were always there for us in our writing slumps. Does anyone, *sniff* want to say some parting words to *sniff* our friends? Make sure you remember to bring the box of tissues outside with you for this is a truly sad moment.

Students take turns saying a few words, digging small holes with a shovel, and burying the following friends:

  • is
  • was
  • are
  • were
  • have
  • had
  • has
  • am
Goodbye, friends.

After the funeral, we go inside to answer a prompt without using our friends. Sure. There is a time to use these words, but students must learn how not to use them before they can add a few be verbs back into their writing.

If you want help with teaching kids to eliminate boring verbs, here is a new product for you.

lesson plans for using strong verbs, #TeachersPayTeachers, #iteach

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Labor Day Raffle for $275 & Dollar Deals

Dollar Deals are here!

In honor of Labor Day a group of teacher authors have come together to bring you $1.00 deals! Click HERE to see all deals. 

I have three dollar deals!

story about 9/11,  noworkonlaborday, #TpT #dollardeals

This story that normally sells for $4.25 has been reduced for $1.00. If you want to teach your students about the horrors of 911 but are relying on a textbook, here is a historical fiction story just for you. Follow Jessica as she lives through the terror of not knowing her father's whereabouts on September 11, 2001.

Inside you'll find:
  • Four page Historical Fiction Story
  • One page Epilogue and Author's Note at End of Story.
  • Fifteen Vocabulary Words
  • Enrichment Vocabulary Word Sentence Prompt
  • Vocabulary Sentence Matching
  • Seven Discussion Questions
  • One Research Question
  • Complete Answer Key

Also on sale . . .

Math lesson on place value, PowerPoint,  #math #teachers

This math resource normally sells for $3.25 but is also available for $1.00 from September 1st - 3rd. If your students are having trouble understanding place value, and you need a new teaching strategy, you are in the right place! Make sure your kids know this common core aligned skill of place value with this colorful and engaging PowerPoint.

Inside you'll find:
  • "I can" Statement & Listed Standards
  • Teacher Instruction
  • Read and Write numbers to the Hundred-Billions Place.
  • Multiple Choice Questions
  • Problems Identifying Digit's Value
  • Check for Understanding
  • State Common Core Standard
  • Students apply their knowledge through word problems.

worksheets to repair run on sentences, #TpT #iteach

Do your students continually write with run on sentences. Teach kids how to fix run on sentences with this teacher ready printable. This series of four handouts contains examples of the same run on sentence written four times. Students are asked to fix the sentences in four different ways. This may be used with a teacher modeling or as practice. A quiz is located at the end of the packet. Answer keys included. The format allows for students to demonstrate their skills without taking a lot of class time.

Want to win $275?

A group of amazing teacher-authors have come together to help one lucky teacher win a $225 Teachers Pay Teachers gift card. Wouldn’t this be great to help with your school year needs?

Enter the raffle here:
👉 Raffle Ends at 12:00 AM Central Time, Tuesday, September 3rd (9/3/19). The lucky winner will be announced by 9/5/19.
👉 You must be an educator to win and provide proof by providing your school name and grade level within 48 hours after contacted or a new random winner will be selected. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook, Instagram, or Teachers Pay Teachers. You understand that you are providing your information to the owner of this page and not to Facebook , Instagram, or Teachers Pay Teachers. No Purchase Required.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Wordless Wednesday Russian Immigration 1904

It's been ages since I participated in a Wordless Wednesday. I've decided to post a photo of my newest product, which is now 50% off for 24 hours. This one is special to me because it shares my family history.

#TpT story on Romanov Jews

I was inspired to write this after seeing Anastacia on stage. The story, like others I've seen or read tends to romanticize the Romanov family, while portraying Nicholas Romanov as an endearing father who was unjustly murdered. Well, I'm here to tell you, this "nice" guy murdered my great grandparents along with several of their children. So I decided to tell the true story of the Tzar.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Being a Writer

Being a Writer

I love to write. Reading is fun, too, but there's something special about being your own author. After all, writers get to play God in their own little fictional
world. For example, have you ever read a story and thought, I wish the character would do such and such? The beauty of writing is that you can make these poor imaginary people do whatever you want!

#story #writing #reading

Being a writer also means that you are not defined by real world standards. Although I've never seen a bathroom hand dryer that can be adjusted to fit different size hands, is it not reasonable that one could exist? Exist or not, I had a blast causing a kid to get his head caught in a hand dryer while his spittle caught on the air and flew across the bathroom floor. When he finally escaped, his Mohawk tilted sideways over his red little cheeks. Don't worry. I didn't really hurt this baby.  

Civil War #story #fun #writing
Another favorite moment as an author was abusing a Confederate War captain. The stinker boozed too much in his tent, so I gave him a memorable moment where I personally intervened. I know, experts tell authors to be invisible, but I treated myself as another character and had a blast!

Here's an example from that story. The main character is absolutely plastered, so little is spelled correctly.

I hears a voice that just ain’t makin’ sense to me. “You’ve had enough to
#reading #writing
drink. You can’t fight the war, now.” That voice is high pitch. Female voice in this dun here battle feeld? I know we not bring wimen along. 
   “Not that I want your side to win, anyway,” she continued. “Slavery is wrong, and the south is going to lose.”
“Who is you?” I says. I try to stomp me feet, but they ain’t workin’ rite. “How dare ya insult my troop.”
The lady chuckled. “My name is Joyce, and I’m going to make you stop drinking.”
Now, I normallee don’t go cursen at wimen, but this one really gots me mad. “&^%$*#, Joyce. Give me mah whiskey back or ah blow you thru!”
“You kill your author, and you’re history.”

“Ah already is histry, dum old woumin!”

Yep. He's history. LOL!

Teaching Writing

Being a writer has been invaluable when it comes to teaching writing. I've often wondered how the teacher who doesn't like to write, and has not worked on her own craft, can help kids. After all, if you don't write, how do you know how to help a child improve?
This is my first blog post on a series on tips for how to teach writing. I will take a different area with various posts and implant my writing wisdom for you. Please join me! To get notification about these posts, please follow my blog.

Would you like a free resource? This resource being offered contains a historical story and much more!

#Free #Teacher #lessons

Clip art by:

#clip art  #TpT

#clip art  #TpT

#TpT, #Writing, #Teaching, #iteach, #education

Monday, August 19, 2019


Tomorrow (Tuesday, August 20th until 11:59pm ET), we’re giving you one more chance to stock up on all your classroom needs. Just use promo code BTSBONUS19 to save 25% at Catch My Products!


My entire store will be 25% off,
with the exclusion of my NEW product,

which is 50% off!

teaching resource, #TpT

Use the code: BTSBONUS19

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Want a FREE Resource?

I've just figured out my mailing list and have it set to deliver a free product to you with a click of a button! Here's the free resource being offered. It's a little of everything, just like my store!

Please go to my landing  page at:  
and get a 
FREE Catch my Products Sampler Pack!

Inside you'll find:
  • Primary Logic Puzzle
  • Upper Elementary Logic Puzzle
  • Accountable Talk Story with Open Ended Questions
  • Math Word Problems
  • Short Reading Passages to Draw Conclusions or Inferences
  • Historical Fiction Story
  • Questions with Research Prompt
  • Complete Answer Key
All in one FREEBIE!

Monday, August 5, 2019

TpT Sale for Back To School

August 6 & 7,
my store will be set at 20% off!

Add code BTS19 and save an extra 5% for total of 25% off.

TpT Site-Wide Sales are the BEST TIME to buy BUNDLES 
at a bargain price!

Catch My Products
Here are a few of my most popular bundles.

Wondering how to get your bright students involved with critical thinking skills? 
Here is a bundle of brain teasers and logic puzzles to meet your students' needs year round!

a year long bundle of brain teases

Are you tired of searching for fun activities throughout the year? 
Here's a way to have it all in one purchase.

#TpT, 3rd, 4th, 5th grades

You have bright, young students in your class who finish everything early and need a brain teaser challenge, but nothing in the textbooks gives you what you need. Through this challenging Mega-Bundle you'll find SIX complete booklets with two solo samples for a total of thirty-four logic puzzles from the very beginner to the advanced beginner puzzle solver.

#tpt booklet of beginner challenges for school

Do you have trouble getting your kids to use accountable talk or to respond to open ended questions during class discussions? If so, this bundle is made for you! With easy to use printable pages that will have your students excited about learning this resource will make accountable talk super easy.

eleven stories to get kids to add to class discussions

Also, take a look at this new product!

Are you on the lookout for fun reading passages because your social studies book is not grabbing your students' interest? Find this bundle complete with everything you need to engage and challenge you kids. Your students will love these easy to print and go stories with questions and activities that will teach history in an exciting way.

Six reading passages that are historical

Sign up for FREE Catch My Products Sampler Pack

Gifted and Talented lessons, #TpT FREE