Category : Common Core Literacy

Teaching Tolerance through Teaching about Religion and Cultures

In today’s world everything is constantly changing. We as teachers have to ability to teach tolerance through teaching about different cultures and teaching about different religions. It’s not about trying to convert anyone, of course. It’s about to understand the differences between people’s religion. Many religions do have common threads and with these common threads we can teach tolerance and empathy to our students.

I know when I was young, I didn’t know anything about any other religions and just a little about a few different cultures in Europe and Mexico (I lived in Texas). I really didn’t learn much about these things until I went to the University of Texas in Austin. I learned some through the classes I took, but most from the people I met. I took lots of foreign languages because I was so interested in learning more about these neat cultures. I took Malayalam, Japanese, Russian, French, Czech and Latin. I guess you could say I was a little bit obsessed. I embraced learning about the differences.

Today with the dawning of the internet, we can teach our children so much earlier when their minds are open to learn about new cultures and religions. One of my favorite things to make for my students and Teachers pay Teachers are units on different countries, religions and ancient civilizations. I hope you can use some of these products in your classroom to help teach about tolerance! We all can help make the world a better place to live together!

Five Ways to Use Interactive Notebooks in Your Classroom

What is an Interactive Notebook?
I’m sure you’ve heard about Interactive Notebooks by now, but let’s just review a bit in case you haven’t heard about them yet. Interactive Notebooks are a way that your students can interact with the subjects you are teaching them. They can cut, paste, draw, expand and really experience the subject they are learning. No two interactive notebooks are created equally. Some may say they are interactive, but they aren’t. Some may have too much cutting and pasting, which will interrupt your lesson plans. The best way to judge them is to look at previews and read all of the details before you purchase one.

Five Ways to Use Interactive Notebooks
1. Review and Test Prep – A lot of the reasons I started making and using interactive notebooks is because if you have a printable you use with your students, the students finish it and toss it into folder never to look at it again. With my interactive notebooks, the activities are designed to have the students come back and review what they’ve just learned. There are flaps, envelopes, yarn, brads and more all specifically used to help your students redo activities for test prep and to show their parents what they’ve learned.

2. Confidence Booster – Using an interactive notebook, your students can keep all of the things they’ve learned throughout the year in one place. Students can look through all of the different things they’ve learned and feel achieved.

3. Introducing New Topics – You can use the activities in an interactive notebook to help students learn new topics. Sometimes students are scared about learning new things. A fun activity will help relax them and allow them to learn new topics (especially fractions which can be frustrating for students).

4. Assessments – You can use the activities to finish up a unit. Instead of or in addition to a quiz, you can have students do an interactive activity to make sure they understand the concepts that you taught in the lessons.

5. Spice Up Lessons – If your students get bored with a topic (you know it’s bound to happen), you can pull out an interactive activity and use a little art and interactiveness to spice up your lessons.

If you’re interested in looking at my interactive notebooks, you can find them here. They have the perfect combination of low prep and high interactiveness.

Here are a few of my best sellers, you can click on the picture to see more information and a preview about each:

Taking the Stress Out of Halloween

Ever feel stressed during the week? My Halloween Stress-Free Printables are something you can use when you are feeling stressed and for many other reasons – something extra for your early finishers, when you need to have something prepared for your sub, for homework, for morning work or for a fun Halloween center.


Here are a few comments I received about my Stress-Free Halloween Printables that I have available for 1st through 5th grades:

“Fun “filler” activities for keeping us busy during one of the wiggliest holidays!”
“Thank you! This is very useful for my 3rd grade class. It is directly standards based and is great because they think it’s a “fun activity” however they are reviewing or covering standards.”
“Simple – love the no prep. Bought this as extra work for my son.”
“This was fantastic for my fall break packet! Thank you!”


These Stress-Free Printables are called that because there is no prep necessary. Just print and go!


If you’d like to view my Halloween Stress-Free Printables, click here: Halloween Stress-Free Printables

Fifth Grade Interactive Grammar Notebook

If you read my blog you know I’m crazy about interactive notebook. I think I love them so much because my children love them so much! My latest interactive notebook is for 5th grade. It has all of the grammar (or language) common core standards for 5th grade. But, if your state doesn’t follow the common core, it’s not a problem, as these skills are useful for any 5th graders to learn.

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The skills that are covered:
Conjunctions, Propositions and Interjections
Perfect Verb Tenses
Verb Tenses
Shifts in Verb Tense
Correlative Conjunctions
Punctuation in Series
Commas and Introductory Elements
More Comma Usage
Titles of Works
Structuring Sentences
Varieties of English
Context Clues
Greek and Latin Affixes and Roots
Reference Materials
Figurative Language
Idioms, Adages & Proverbs
Synonyms, Antonyms & Homographs
Domain-specific words

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My interactive notebooks are fun, educational and stress-free for the teachers! There is cutting, pasting and folding involved, but not too much, just the right amount.

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If you’d like to see a preview of my interactive grammar notebook for 5th grade, click here: Interactive Grammar Notebook for 5th Grade

Interactive Writing Notebook for 8th Grade

I’m so excited to announce the latest addition to my interactive notebook series – Interactive Writing Notebook for 8th grade. This interactive notebook is completely different from my 7th grade version for writing. I love having different notebooks per grade level in case a teacher teaches multi-grade levels.


This interactive writing notebook is designed to be fun for 8th grades, but not too kid-like. The topics and vocabulary are all on par with 8th grade level work. There is also a grammar section so you can practice some of those standards as well.


All activities are highly interactive and involving cutting and pasting, but not too much – just the perfect amount.


To see more examples of my newest interactive notebook click here: Interactive Writing Notebook for 8th grade

Interactive Reading Notebook for Fourth Grade

Grammar can be a dull subject for students, but making the lessons interactive actually make the subject really fun and enjoyable. It’s amazing what a little cutting, pasting, fun graphics and folding can do to a lesson. Fourth grade is chock-full of great grammar skills that will set up your students for success in future grade levels!

This activity has students roll a die that they create. The die will land on a Greek or Latin affix or root. Students will then brainstorm words that have that root or affix and paste the words onto this little boy’s thinking hat.

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Modals are useful in English and can be especially difficult for some students to distinguish the difference between should, would, could, etc. This activity gives students the opportunity to practice making sentences with modals about certain topics.

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Another topic of interest is teaching students when they should use informal vs. formal English. In this activity, students can turn the arrow as they decide if a phrase or sentence is formal or informal.

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To find out more about my latest interactive notebook click here: Interactive Reading Notebook for 4th Grade

Three Ways to Promote Writing

Sometimes it’s hard to motivate students to write. Sometimes it’s like pulling teeth in my opinion. Through my years, I’ve come up with three ways to help promote writing with students and help them to succceed.

#1 – Create a nice atmosphere for students to write in. I have to admit I got this one from my mother who taught for over 35 years. She would play music in her language arts classes during the time when students were supposed to be writing, during their daily journals and other writing time as well. Her students got used to that time and became accustomed to it. When the music started they played. She did this for her elementary students as well as her high school students. Both age ranges loved it.

#2 – Try to have students write daily. This goes back to the first reason in the fact that students will get used to the routine of writing. You can have writing prompts during bell work time or they can simply have a journal that they write in and have free writing time.

#3 – Make Writing Fun. Writing can be boring depending on the topic, so keep topics fun and change them. Also, try to add a little art with writing for extra creativity. I created some fun frames for just this – fun frames writing printables. Students can write and color at the same time. These look great on the bulletin board!


Students can write and much or as little as they like! There is a lot of space given so they can really express how they are feeling.



Click here to learn more about my fun frames: fun frames

Back to School Close Reading

Close Reading is a fun way to get your students involved in what they are reading and come out of what they have read with some take-aways. It can also help them to read slowly and process what they are actually reading, instead of just reading word after word. This can help with fluency and with the speed they read at.

Back to School Close Reading has unique stories that are age appropriate. You can use these to gauge the level your students can read at, as well as assess vocabulary comprehension and retention.


These original stories have questions at the end, as well as throughout the stories to help the students stay engaged in the stories. These are sure to be a hit in your classrooms.


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These stories will introduce students to new vocabulary as well. They also have the definitions in the side panels for more difficult words.
Click here to read more about my Back to School Close Reading Packet: Back to School Close Reading Packet
Click here to read more about my other Close Reading Packets: Close Reading Packets

Back to School Close Reading

Stress-Free Printables

Sometimes the beginning of the school year can be stressful for teachers, as well as the students. Sometimes it’s nice, and necessary to have some printables up your sleeve to use as morning work, homework or just for that extra time that just popped up out of no where.


These stress-free printables have all black and white, low-ink graphics that are cute, but save on ink. Students can color them as they move along the printables or leave them as is.


These Back to School stress-free printables are a spiral review for the students at the beginning of the year to help them ease back into school and review things they’ve learned in the past.


There are both language arts and math printables in this packet and they cover a wide range of skills. There is no-prep involved except for printing out these pages. I have these printables in 1st through 5th grades. All grade appropriate for that grade level.

Click here to read more about my Back to School Stress-Free Printables: Back to School Stress-Free Printables
Click here to see my other Stress-Free Printables: Stress-Free Printables

How Much Homework Should You Give?

Have you ever wondered how much homework you should give? Should you give math homework every day? Reading homework every other day? Maybe just some on the weekend? I’m a kind of middle of the road person when it comes to home. I think it’s good to have some homework so it can reinforce what students have learned in class, but I’m not big on 2 hours of homework a night. When we lived in France several times my son would have 3 or more hours of homework and he would be in tears. 🙁 I just hated to see him hate school merely becasue of homework. So, I think it’s better to have some, but not too much. Maybe 15 to 30 mins at the most. I also don’t think it has to be every single night.


My homework packets have just enough work to help your students review what they’ve learned in class. I also like them because they have math as well as language arts on one page.


Some teachers like to save paper and when they use my homework packet, they make copies double sided and then cut the paper in half and give half of a piece of a paper for homework.


Here are a few comments about my Homework packet:
“I really love this packet. Fast and easy to check.”
“I love your homework bundles! I already have the 2nd grade one and I’m so excited to use the 3rd grade one this year. They are so versatile! Thanks!”
“Not only great for homework but a quick assessment and exit slip.”
“Quick homework page to supplement regular homework that reviews common core skills. Excellent!”

Want to see more? Check out my different grade level homework packets:
Homework for Kindergarten

Homework for First Grade

Homework for Second Grade

Homework for Third Grade

Homework for Fourth Grade

Homework for Fifth Grade

Homework for Sixth Grade Math