Teacher Stuff: Cute Character Secrets


I got a comment today that really made my day, made me feel guilty, and motivated me, all at the same time. I have been absent. No bones about it. But I haven’t forgotten you.

My past year has been an upheaval to say the least. Not to get into the nitty-gritty, but a divorce with kids is a time-consuming and GIANT ordeal. However, we are on the greener side of the hill, folks, and I am starting to have more time.

That being said, I have SO MANY ideas for posts. So I ask you to be patient and keep checking back, I am motivated (Thanks, LaserTest) and ready to go!

Today, though, I want to share a secret.


I LOVE book characters! I love that they cover my wall and remind my students of the amazing stories we’ve read and the journeys we’ve been on. I get compliments on my characters all the time but you should know something…I have a secret helper.

It’s a projector.

I am BLESSED to have a station in my classroom with a doc cam, computer and projector. I use them to find a picture with either the doc cam or computer, project it on the wall and trace it onto chart paper! Yes, I do a LOT of coloring at home, and yes, it might seem trivial to some. But when my kids walk in every day and see their favorite characters on the wall, they make great connections, they share memories of favorite stories and they remember how FUN reading is!

So, pull out a book, trace and color a little, it will be worth it, I promise!  Here are a few from the first weeks of school. Sorry, my camera was not cooperating with the lighting in my room. More soon!




Teacher Stuff Friday Freebie: Plot Graphic Organizer


Plot GO

Welcome back!  Today’s Friday Freebie is another Reading Response Gem!  This is one of my favorites!  In first grade,  out students focus all year on story plot.  We use Author Studies, Character Studies, and Genre Studies to mix things up and expose our kids to ALL kinds of texts, but this little organizer is one we can use for SO MANY things!! One thing I love, in particular is the open boxes, which allow for easy differentiation. Non-writers or writers who are hesitant can draw and/or write while writers of all stages can write without feeling constricted by lines. My kids are able to respond in their own way with confidence! I hope you and your kids enjoy it and get as much use out of it as we have!

To get your own copy of the Plot Graphic Organizer, click HERE!

As always, thanks for visiting and feel free to share for personal or classroom use.  Please do not use my files for commercial use.  I think we are all made better by sharing our ideas, just don’t try to make a profit off mine!!

Thanks again, come back soon!
– T

Teacher Stuff Friday Freebie: Retelling Graphic Organizer


Picture 1

Sorry the Friday Freebie is a little late today!  This week has been a DOOZY!  LillyBug is sick and we’ve all been exhausted!! Yesterday, in particular, was so bad all I could do is laugh.  I’m pretty certain if I’d stopped laughing about it, I’d have just cried.  Start to finish, it was just terrible.  But today was much better and Lil got a day home with Daddy.  All will be well.

Today’s freebie is a retelling graphic organizer my kids LOVE!!  We have used this to focus on setting, to visualize stories in order and to just practice retelling stories.
Here are a few ideas:

– To focus on setting or visualization, use a story without pictures (our Treasures Read Aloud Anthology is great or this because there are stories with no pictures.)  Then, students use the organizer to draw what they think the setting looked like or what they visualize from the story.

– To just practice retelling, give students a word bank of names and important words from the story.  Students write the main events from the beginning, middle and end of the story.

– When my kids use this one, we talk about using all of each box, like a photograph, to tell the story.  Their pictures turn out really great usually!

To get you own copy of the organizer, click HERE!  As always, please feel free to share, print and copy for free classroom or personal use.  I think sharing ideas and resources makes us all better!

Thanks for visiting, have a GREAT weekend!!


Teacher Stuff: It’s Chart Day!!


I LOVE making charts!  Step into my classroom and you’ll probably say, “Wow, someone has too much time!” but to be honest, I  don’t!  I just love them so much and love the way they are useful but can add so much character (sometimes literally) to our walls.  They help the kids remember stories, access words they’ve learned, or recall tools to help them organize their thinking.  I have found that the kids, especially little ones, use and remember more from the charts when they are very visual, so I make time in my week to create these charts using characters from the stories, pictures to illustrate a poem or concept, and bright colors.  It’s also a win-win because I get to do a little art, which I don’t really have time for at home!  So stop on in and look around!

 5 Finger Retelling

    Let’s start with the charts I made for the week we were practicing Retelling using familiar stories.  We started by introducing the 5-Finger Retelling chart and using the elements of a story to help us retell all the important parts of a story.  This chart was based on several charts and ideas found on Pinterest, particularly one from First Grade W.O.W. and one from The Techy Teacher.  We had the idea to use a hand as a strategy to track whether they had included all the important elements in order. During the week, we used the chart to help us retell familiar stories together as well as in their Reading Response journals.

Red Riding Hood SummaryOn the first day, we discussed the elements of James Marshall’s Red Riding Hood and worked together to write a summary of the story.  We then paired up and practiced retelling the story to a partner using the 5-Finger Retelling strategy to help.  Students completed a story map in their journals of the characters, setting, problem and solution.

The rest of the week, we read together, practiced retelling to a partner or as a group and then completed the story map on the chart.  Students then wrote their own summaries for Reading Response using the 5-Finger Retelling strategy.

Story Maps 2Story Map

Books We Used:

Red Riding Hood by James Marshall

The Three Little Wolves and the Big, Bad Pig by Eugene Trivizas

The Tortoise and the Jackrabbit by Susan Lowell

The Three Little Javelinas by Susan Lowell

Corduroy by Don Freeman

Moving on to other charts!!  I also like to use charts to help us remember skills we’ve learned in Word Work or Writing.  Some of my favorites have been the Alliteration Chart, based on the amazing chart from The First Grade Parade!!  I added a few extra tongue twisters the kids particularly liked but it very close to hers!  It was just too cute not to borrow!

Alliteration Chart

One of my other favorites is our Treasure Map of “ar” words!  The kids had so much fun adding words to the chart! I got the idea from this pin from The Inspired Apple. The purple words were the kids spelling words for the week.  During the week, the kids came up with other words to add and we wrote those in green!


These are just a few of the many charts we’ve made this year, but it gives you an idea.  Sorry the pictures aren’t great, my camera is MIA at the moment and my phone is just ok.  Hopefully I can search the house during our Beginning of Summer Purge next week!!  For those of you not finished teaching yet, have a great week!  And for those of you at home, enjoy an extra cup of coffee and an extra 30 minutes of sleep for me!!

Can’t wait! -T