Primary Chalkboard

A Heartfelt Halloween Read Aloud with Printable Freebie

Hello friends! Christina here, from Miss DeCarbo's Sugar and Spice. Today, I am excited to share an amazing children's book with you: When Hairy Met Tallie by Stacie Carroll. When I sat down to read this book, I knew it would be sweet, but I had no idea it would touch my heart SO much!  
This book is based on the true story of a beautiful little girl named Tallie, who looks and learns differently than other children. Within the book, Tallie is teased a great deal, and she feels very alone. Then, she meets Hairy, a life-sized skeleton that soon becomes her best friend. Hairy teaches Tallie that even though we all look different on the outside, we are all the same on the inside. The skeleton makes Tallie so happy, and she gains confidence in herself. She loves knowing that beneath our skin and hair, we are all alike on the inside - we all have a skeleton made out of bones and a big, red heart! 

This message, which is so important for ALL children of EVERY age to understand and learn, is so beautifully and simply written in this book. As teachers, we want so desperately to teach our kids how to accept and care for everyone in our school family. I believe this book does just that! 

Today, Stacie Carroll, the author of the book and mother of Tallie, is sharing this special message to children and schools all over! If you would like to learn more about Tallie's story and get a copy of the book to share with your students,  you can order it on her website:

Below is a little freebie page that you can use with your students after reading this book together. I hope you enjoy it! You can download it from Google Drive by clicking HERE or clicking on the picture below: 
Thank you for letting me share this precious children's book with you!
Have a wonderful Halloween week! 
Happy Learning,

Literature Journals

Aloha everyone it's Corinna from Surfin' Through Second!  Just a quick post today to share with you how I use literature journals to enhance reading skills in my classroom.

I stock up on composition books and use them quite a bit during our literacy time.

Essentially it's a place to keep everything together and students can go back and review lessons and skills learned. Here are a few examples of how we use them.

There are so many different ways you can use literature journals in your classroom.

-Recording Literature Circle Activities
-Recording Text Evidence
-Answering Text or Teacher Questions
-Enrichment Activities

I also have students cut and paste interactive activities from our reading series or items I have created or purchased.

Do you use literature or interactive journals in your classroom? Feel free to share how you use them!

Social Media in the Classroom

Hello everybody!  This is Terry here from Terry's Teaching Tidbits.  I'm so excited to be back on the Primary Chalkboard blog to share some great new ideas with you that I've been trying out in my classroom.

This year I have decided to step up my communication with parents in an effort to keep them more informed and aware of what is going on the classroom.  The results?  This has been the BEST year that I've ever had in the classroom.  The parents in my class have never been more kind, helpful, and reassured that what we're doing is going to be rigorous, fun, and educational.  On top of that, I, myself, have been more involved and motivated.  It's a win-win!

To become more communicative, I've been using the following types of Social Media/technology in my classroom:

  1. Periscope
  2. Facebook
  3. Class Dojo
  4. Kahn Academy
  5. iXL
To find out more detail about how I'm using each of these in my classroom, head over to my {BLOG POST}.  

Word to the wise:  Don't be scared!  There are ways to use technology and social media without violating privacy.  I talk about this with Periscope and Facebook.

We live in a digital world now, so join me in adapting to our changing society and using it in a positive manner to help our students, parents, and ourselves stay motivated and involved in the classroom.

EEEEEK! Bats and Spiders.. OH MY!

Hi Friends..Anna here with Simply Skilled in Second.  I hope this post finds you well.  Now that we are deep into October, I wanted to let you know what I have my students do during our Daily 5 rotations in my Work on Writing station.

Introducing..... BATS!!!!

bats research

So... I LOVE having the students do different types of research projects in class during the month of October.  This month lends itself well with so many opportunities for having some fun learning and researching about creepy crawlies and things that fly in the night with Halloween coming up.
So in order to fit EVERYTHING in... I like to add research projects to my work on writing station.
During the month of October, my students will complete 3 - 4 different research projects at my Work on Writing Station.  My students always have a MUST DO and a CAN DO activity when they get to our Work on Writing Station.   This month they will focus on BATS, using EITHER.. my 
All About Bats  Bat-Shaped Interactive Notebook OR they can complete my Bats Flip Flap Book™

bats research

I add a variety of different non-fiction books, texts, and passages at the Work on Writing Station for them to read and complete their research.  Giving them a choice on which activity to complete is exciting for them!

The next project they will work on during their rotation to Work on Writing is Spider research using my Spiders Flip Flap Book™

spider research

spiders flip flap book
spider research
I also leave one of my ipads at the Work on Writing Center set up so they can watch this video as well.

During Halloween week I also have my students complete my  Halloween Writing Fun Interactive Notebook activity and when they are finished, they glue them in their Interactive Writing Notebooks.  My Haunted House Halloween Shaped Booklet is what I use to differentiate my  Work on Writing station. A few of my students will not be able to handle 3-4 different projects in the month, so in order to differentiate, I will give those students my Haunted House Halloween Shaped Booklet.  This booklet has a page for spider research, bat research, writing an expository paragraph, a making words activity, and a few other activities.  So this booklet is a PERFECT way to differentiate my Work on Writing Station for my kiddos :)

halloween interactive notebook

So... I just wanted to share a few of my Research-Based Projects that are at my Work on Writing Center for the month of October.  If you are interested in any of these resources, click the images below to check them out in my TPT Shop!

bats researchbats research
spider researchwriting templates

 halloween interactive notebook

Thanks so much for dropping by today!


Halloween Lanterns-Easy Tutorial!

Happy Friday, friends!
It's Laura from Peace, Love, and First Grade!
We've been busy getting our room ready for spooky season!
We've made bats, and spiders, and some fun Halloween lanterns!
We chose jacks, ghosts, and Frankensteins for our lanterns.
Here's a peek at our lantern making!

 You will need:
*construction paper- 
9" x 12" orange, green, or white 
black strips long enough to cut handles
*black markers or crayons (if you want faces)
*tape or staples

Here are the steps:
Step 1:  Place a piece of 9" x 12" construction paper on the table lengthwise. Draw a face in the middle of the page. We made jack-o-lanterns, ghosts, and Frankensteins. If you don't want faces, skip this step. 

Step 2: Fold the paper in half lengthwise.

Step 3: Use a ruler and draw a straight line about 1/2" inch from the top of the unfolded edge. Pic below.

Step 4: Cut straight lines from the folded edge to the pencil line on the unfolded edge.

Step 5: Open the paper.  It should look like the pic below. I had kids write their names on it then. 

Step 6: Roll the paper into a tube. Pic below.
Tape or staple the ends. You could glue but taping allows you to keep working. 

Once taped, the lanterns will look like this.

They turn out so cute!

Click here for my original post for jack-o-lanterns on vines.

 I hope you're having fall weather in your neighborhood!
Love the feeling of fall!
Have a wonderful weekend, friends!

Fire Safety Ideas

Hi everyone!

Its Latoya from Flying into First Grade and I am here to share some Fire Safety ideas!

Read Alouds

Here are 2 great fiction read alouds!!!

My Mom is a Firefighter by Lois Grambling
Billy has two families—his mom and dad, and his firehouse "uncles," who work with his mom. Billy knows that firefighters have an important job to do, protecting people and putting out fires—and even Billy can lend a hand! Award-winner Grambling and popular illustrator Manning bring to life this heartfelt story of a little boy who wants to grow up to be just like his mom.

Stop Drop and Roll by Margery Cuyler
During Fire Prevention Week at her school, Jessica, the worrywart from "100th Day Worries", is chosen to demonstrate the "stop, drop and roll" technique, and she can't get it just right. But she learns that taking precautions and knowing what to do is the best cure for her fire safety worries.

Here are 2 great non-fiction read alouds!!!

Firehouse Dog by Amy Hutchings
A proud dalmatian pup leads readers through the day-to-day activities of a busy fire station. Full-color photographs and fire safety tips accompany the text.

A Day at the Fire Station by Megan Faulkner
Simple text and bright full-color photographs convey the enthusiasm and all the amazing things to discover on these fun and informative trips to the fire station.

Here are 3 ideas to use with your students!

1. Integrate five senses-Talk about how we can detect a fire using our five senses.
for example we would use our nose to smell smoke or eyes to see fire.

2. Family Evacuation Plan Project- Have students to complete a safety plan at home with their families. 

3. Write letters to firefighters- Have your students write letters to firefighters thanking them for protecting their community.

An Introduction to Inquiry in the Primary Grades

Hello! Nicole from Mrs. Rios Teaches here, today. I'm so excited to be writing about how I have used an Inquiry model of learning, with both first and second graders. (Once again, I feel the need to give a disclaimer that I am by no means an inquiry expert. In fact, I've only started using inquiry within the last two years or so. But, I am enthusiastic about inquiry, its potential, and am always willing to share my successes and failures with others.  So, there it is.)

This will be Part 1 in a series of posts that I will continue on my blog, Mrs. Rios Teaches.  Let's start with the basics...

What is Inquiry-based learning?

When we think of the traditional learning model, we might think of a teacher at the head of the classroom, lecturing, and the students somewhat passively "absorbing" the facts and information that are being shared. The teacher then poses questions to his/her students. Students answer them, but very rarely ask their own questions.

In contrast, Inquiry-based learning takes the traditional learning model, and flips it on its head.  Learning begins with a question or a problem, that is often generated by students. Teachers serve as facilitators, guiding students to resources and practices that will help them find the answers they are looking for.

"The meaning of 'knowing' has shifted from being able to remember and repeat information to being able to find and use it." (National Research Council, 2007)

The steps that I follow for inquiry are based on the work of Stephanie Harvey and Harvey "Smokie" Daniels. (Thanks here, to Amy Illingworth).  They have written a wonderful resource on inquiry called Comprehension and Collaboration.  (Click on the link below because it takes you to a great page full of printable resources and lesson samples.)

Steps include..

  1. Immerse
  2. Investigate
  3. Coalesce
  4. Go Public

Why "Inquiry"?

Inquiry-based learning:
  • develops research, problem-solving, and communication skills
  • increases student responsibility for their own learning
  • increases student engagement
  • fosters independence
  • provides opportunities for meaningful collaboration
  • encourages students to tap into their natural curiosity
In inquiry-based learning, the focus is on teaching students "how to learn", with content knowledge being a natural outcome. As you can probably figure out, teaching students "how to learn" for themselves, has the potential for long-term and very powerful results.

When can I use an Inquiry-based learning model?

Inquiry-based learning can be used across all disciplines, including art, math, and language arts!

How do I start?

Ok, here's the big one, right? Well, there are lots of ways to go about inquiry-ish learning.  Project-based, problem-based, and design-based learning are just a few that come to mind. Regardless, your first step is going to be PLANNING. So what do you need to do to get ready for inquiry-based learning?

1) Encourage Curiosity:  Before you jump into a round of inquiry with your class, I recommend that you lay a strong foundation in "questioning" and the value of leading a "curious life".  My school has a high ELL population, so we spend a lot of time in the beginning of the year, just practicing how to ask a question that is grammatically correct. But, I find that even my native English speakers need quite a bit of practice in asking authentic, and thoughtful questions.

Expect and encourage students to ask questions throughout the day.  Visit websites that will play into their curiosity. We love frequenting a website called Wonderopolis ( ) This site is all about asking questions, and being curious about the things going on around us.

2) Look at your Curriculum: Take a look at where you can incorporate inquiry into your day. 
  • Look at what the "big ideas" are in your chosen subject area: While inquiry is largely student driven, teachers must focus the learning around appropriate grade-level goals. For example, I am preparing to do a round of inquiry in science (Mostly, I chose this area because it just naturally lends itself to questions, and always results in high student engagement.) One of the big ideas in our science curriculum is "life cycles".  
3) Begin with an Essential Question: Our first round of inquiry for the year is very guided. I normally begin by "gently leading" my students towards an essential question that will focus our work around a "big idea". (I know this is a little bit of a "cheat". But, since this is usually my students' first experience with inquiry, I allow myself this little indulgence) So, going back to life cycles, my essential question will be: How do animals survive in their habitats? 

A good essential question...
  • is open-ended 
  • will spark curiosity and lead to further questions (I can pick one animal to use as a "guide animal".  I will be choosing bats. But, after we have completed the round, students can repeat the inquiry cycle by researching the animal of their choice. Then, we can compare/contrast how different animals survive in their habitats to gain a deeper understanding of life cycles and adaptation.)  In short, a good question will lead to more inquiry...Ha,Ha..See how that works? 
  • demands higher-order thinking (The answer to my essential question has several components, and will require students to synthesize a lot of information.)
  • will lead learners to relevant and real-world issues (This question can lead to further inquiry into climate change, habitat destruction, and animals vs. human need)
  • reflects true curiosity (meaning we don't already know the answer)
  • can be answered 
  • does not have a yes/no answer,  or just one simple answer 
Need more guidance in forming your essential question.  Check out...

4) Plan out the "learning skills" you want your students to learn. Yes, I want my students to learn about life cycles. But, that is actually not my main objective here. Remember, we are trying to teach students about "how to learn".  So think about some of the skills you want your students to walk away with at the end of the inquiry cycle.  In my case, I use inquiry to introduce students to how to: read non-fiction text, determine importance, use non-fiction features of text, write main idea/details paragraphs, question, collaborate, make presentations, paraphrase, find resources, summarize, and use technology.  Plan for those lessons and activities. But, remember to be flexible. Teachers are co-learners, in many ways, with their students during an inquiry cycle. Often, you have to see what lessons the students lead you to.

5) Gather Resources: You will need to gather as many resources as you can in preparation for your inquiry cycle. I usually hit the public library. Don't forget to try and find a mix of non-fiction and fiction. We want our students reading a wide variety of text, and making connections. So, alongside non-fiction texts, I will be using a few favorite fiction titles like (affiliate links ahead)


I create some of my own resources. Here is a new flip book on bats that I created with my learning goals in mind. Click the image below to learn more.

I also look for age and topic-appropriate videos. In addition, you can plan for guest speakers and field trips. What about starting a Pinterest board? Here are a few of mine.

Finally, I browse the internet for appropriate sites where my students can safely conduct their research.

I highly recommend (See my webmix for animal inquiry, here.) It makes it so easy for students to access sites that you have pre-screened. Read more about how to use Symbaloo, here. Once again, be flexible. One of the skills that students should leave this experience with, is a knowledge of how and where, to find appropriate resources. So, part of your inquiry should leave room for students to bring in resources, as well.

6) Set Expectations: Collaboration is a huge component of most classroom inquiry circles, especially in the primary grades. So, setting some ground rules will be very important. We have always created ours as a class, and it is a living document, in that, it grows and changes throughout the year. Each time we engage in inquiry work, we always end our time with reflection. What worked? What didn't? What solutions do we have for obstacles that came up during our inquiry work?

Whoo! That was a lot. But, I'm going to stop there, and let you just "absorb". Join me next Sunday, October 18, 2015 over at Mrs. Rios Teaches, for the next post in this series on Inquiry.

Thanks for stopping by,