Surprise! A Gingerbread Vocabulary Gift for You!

Keep Calm Winter Break

I know how hard it is to make it til Winter Break! Right about now, kids are antsy, ready for a break, and let’s face it, teachers are too! It is hard to keep those minds engaged and productive when a break is looming.

I thought I would offer a freebie for you to help you get through it!

Here are some sample pages: (Click the images or click here to download for free from my TPT Store!)

Gingerbread Vocabulary 1 Gingerbread Vocabulary 2 Gingerbread 3 Gingerbread Vocabulary 4















This is a pack of vocabulary builders based on The Gingerbread Man. I re-wrote the story using high-level vocabulary words. The text is included for you as well as 10 pages of vocabulary practice. It is not intended to give students a list of words to memorize, but it is designed so students can practice vocabulary skills. Since they *should* already have the background knowledge because it is a familiar story, they will use this knowledge to help them figure out unknown words. I intended it as a fun and creative way to practice vocabulary. It is best for grades 4-6 in my opinion.

Grab it now and save it to your computer because it is only FREE for a limited time. Sometime after Christmas (or whenever I remember) I will wave my magic wand and change it back into a paid product.

Merry Christmas!


More Than a Worksheet


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Make a Personal Pocket Chart

personal pocket chart pin

This is a simple DIY classroom tool that I learned from a make and take workshop from my district many years ago. It’s something so simple yet so useful, and I made these almost every year. It is an excellent tool to check for understanding after a lesson or reading passage in a way that is more than just a worksheet. I cannot take credit for this invention, but I figured I would share it and tell you how I have used it.

Behold: the personal pocket chart!


With a simple piece of card stock and a stapler, you can make this tool. Students put it on their hand, and can place an index card in the “pocket.” Then, they raise their personal pocket chart to show the answer. Simple.

Here are some ideas for how you might use it:

  • Vocabulary Review–Have students write their vocabulary words on index cards and hold up the answer to questions, fill in the blanks, or other review activities. This could be used for reading, math, science, or any vocabulary list really. Example: Which type of angle is larger than a right angle? Students hold up a card that reads “obtuse.”
  • Two-Answer-Review–For any subject, you can create a “quiz” where the answers can be one of two choices such as true or false. You can make them up on the spot after reading from the textbook or after completing a lesson. This is a simple way to check for understanding, and students just need one index card. Write “true” on one side and “false” on the other. Then call out questions, and have students hold up the answer. You could have students make up their own questions in groups. Example: Kinetic energy is the energy of motion. Students hold up “true.”

Here are some other “two-answer-review” possibilities:

  • True/False
  • Fact/Opinion
  • Yes/No
  • Agree/Disagree
  • Greater Than/Less Than

How to Make: 

They are so simple to make. Just fold the card stock in half. Then, fold up about an inch on each side and staple.

Make a Personal Pocket Chart

*Tip* The first year, I let fifth graders keep them in their desks. (I was young. I didn’t know better.) Needless to say, they were lost and/or crushed any time I asked them to take them out. I learned my lesson and collected them each time. They were easy to collect and pass out, so I definitely recommend going that route.



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Fairy Tale STEM Pictures

OK, I finally got my Fairy Tale STEM bundle updated with pictures. Here are some pics if you’re looking for ideas!

Jack and the Beanstalk:

Build a parachute to help Jack escape the giant!

Build a parachute to help Jack escape the giant!

Goldilocks and the Three Bears:

Build a working latch so the Three Bears can keep Goldilocks out for good!

Build a working latch so the Three Bears can keep Goldilocks out for good!

Little Red Riding Hood:

Build a contraption that will carry Little Red Riding Hoods basket down a zip line to grandmother's house.

Build a contraption that will carry Little Red Riding Hoods basket down a zip line to grandmother’s house.

Gingerbread Man:

Build a bridge using only one index card to help the Gingerbread Man get away!

Build a bridge using only one index card to help the Gingerbread Man get away!


Construct a pulley for Rapunzel so she can stop lowering her hair!

Construct a pulley for Rapunzel so she can stop lowering her hair!

Hansel and Gretel:

Design and launch a paper cylinder from Hansel and Gretel so their father can come rescue them!

Design and launch a paper cylinder from Hansel and Gretel so their father can come rescue them!

Little Red Hen:

Design and launch a paper airplane with a help wanted ad so Little Red Hen can finally get the help she deserves.

 Design and launch a paper airplane with a help wanted ad so Little Red Hen can finally get the help she deserves.


Design a wind powered "coach" so Cinderella can get to the ball.

Design a wind powered “coach” so Cinderella can get to the ball.

The Three Billy Goats Gruff:

Build a raft for the Billy Goats so they don't have to bother with the troll's bridge.

Build a raft for the Billy Goats so they don’t have to bother with the troll’s bridge.

The Three Little Pigs:

Build a toothpick house for the Three Little Pigs.

Build a toothpick house for the Three Little Pigs.

Visit my TPT store for some more STEM Engineering fun! 

Happy STEM-ing!


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Halloween Around the World

Ahh…Halloween. Free candy. Costumes. Trick or treating. Did I mention candy?

Here in the US, Halloween is synonymous with trick or treating. Halloween, in some form or another, is widely celebrated around the world, but not all countries call it Halloween and not all countries trick or treat. In fact, most countries have their own unique way of celebrating.

I came across an excellent website that tells about some of the Halloween traditions around the world. Check out Jack O’Lantern’s Net if you’re interested!

Here is a fun freebie I created just for you! You may use it as a simple Internet research activity, or you may just use it as a fun trivia guessing game. However you use it, enjoy! Click here, or click the image below to grab it for FREE! Halloween Around the World Freebie

Happy Halloween!


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What is a Scientist?

At the beginning of each year, we would begin science with a unit on “What is a Scientist?” Here is a simple anchor chart that you can use.

Scientists can use are


Anchor charts are an important learning tool and should be more than just a decoration in your classroom. To make the most of anchor charts like this, it is important to:

1. Make it with your students. I know, I know, you can make it much cuter and color coordinated on your own, but the conversation involved is part of the learning process.

2. Display it. Keep it in a spot where students can easily look back at it and you can reach it. You don’t have to keep it up all year, but be sure to keep it up while you are learning about scientists.

3. Refer to it. This goes with #2. Point to it. Mention it. Remind students of the conversations you had while making it.

4. Add to it. As you continue through your unit, add to it. Encourage students to think of things to add to it. It’s ok if it’s in a different color or you have to squeeze things into the middle.

Here is a simple and FREE graphic organizer for students to fill in along with you. Click on the image to grab it from Google Docs.

Scientists Graphic Organizer

Here is another simple and cute idea for the beginning of the science year. Make scientists pictures.

I am a Scientist picture

How to Make Scientist Pictures:

Just have students choose a science tool and take a picture of them with it. If you have a white lab coat, now’s the time to bust it out as well. I printed the pictures full page in grayscale. (I am Scrooge McDuck when it comes to color ink.) Have students cut out their picture. Give everyone a cotton ball, and have them make Albert Einstein hair. Super easy and cute.

These made a nice display for Open House. I would hang them on a bulletin board called “What Does a Scientist Look Like?” and have students each write a paragraph that starts with the phrase: A scientist is… You could also have them draw science tools or write different words or phrases around the picture, and you may even hang some of the completed graphic organizers, too.

Obviously there is an adorable toddler in this picture, because he’s mine and doesn’t charge royalties, but I did this with third graders, and it came out really well.

A Funny Note:

The other day, my two-year-old asks out of the blue, “Mommy, do you want to do sign testing?” And I had no idea what he was talking about until he went and picked up the student balance. It still took me a second to realize that he was asking to be a scientist! Love!

Happy Sign Testing Everyone!


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Jack and the Parachute in Pictures

Many people have been asking for pictures to go with the Fairy Tale STEM projects, so I will start with Jack and the Parachute, since that is a freebie. Download it here. 

Oh no! Jack has done it again. He can’t resist magic beans, and he is once again being pursued by the giant. The giant, having learned from past mistakes, has lined the beanstalk with barbed wire. Jack needs another plan of escape. That’s where YOU come in.

For the design challenge, students will build a Parachute for Jack to help him escape the giant.

First, you will need:

A variety of building materials:

Paper products–paper, coffee filters, newspaper, tissue paper, etc…

String–yarn, thread, twine, ribbon of all varieties, even dental floss!

Other–scissors, tape.

Really, just look around your house and classroom and grab what you can find. Part of the challenge is making the best use of the materials at hand.

Fairy Tale STEM Materials

A timer with milliseconds. Milliseconds are important because we are working with such a short period of time between the drop and the time the Jack hits the ground.


STEM Materials

A small action figure or Lego guy to be Jack…

and a safe but place for students to drop their parachutes. Either a balcony or a bridge on the playground.

STEM Materials1Divide students into partners or groups. I don’t recommend more than three students per group for this particular project, and it can even be done individually.

Give students time to build their parachute using whatever materials they choose.

Here are some samples: 

Parachute Copy Paper

copy paper and pipe cleaners

Parachute newspaper

newspaper and yarn

Parachute Tissue Paper

tissue paper and dental floss

Parachute coffee filter

coffee filter and yarn


I DO NOT recommend showing students examples ahead of time. When they see examples, this tends to limit their creativity because they already have a picture in their mind. I highly recommend just giving students the materials and letting them construct. I know as the teacher and a grown-up, I prefer to have some examples in mind, and I would always google some ideas first so that I would be able to assist as needed. Kids don’t need this. They are much more flexible than we adults are!

You will be amazed at the creative and original designs they come up with!

Time to Launch:

When you are ready to launch, be sure to mark a spot so that you can guarantee that everything is dropped from the exact same height. One way to do this is mark a spot with blue painter’s tape. Then make sure the bottom of Jack’s feet line up with the bottom of the tape every time he is dropped.

Talk to students beforehand about why this is important. (It won’t be a good test if they are dropped from different heights because the drop height will affect how long it takes the parachute to fall.)

Drop Jack by himself first. This is the control drop. This will tell you how long it takes Jack to fall without a parachute.

Poor Jack!

Poor Jack!

Be sure to measure and record the time it takes for Jack to fall.

Next, test the parachutes. Drop each one (with Jack attached) one by one. Measure and record the time it takes for Jack to fall with the parachutes.

Fairy Tale STEM: Jack and the Parachute


How do we know if the parachutes are a success? 

Find the difference between the drop time of Jack with the parachute and the control drop time. If Jack stayed in the air longer, success!

Additional things to discuss: 

After the launch, talk to students about the different factors that affected the success of the parachute. For instance, was wind a factor? Were certain materials more successful? Certain shapes and designs? How did gravity affect the parachutes? Can parachutes overcome gravity?

I hope you and your students enjoy this!


More Than a Worksheet

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Build Your STEM Kits at Dollar Tree

STEM Materials from Dollar TreeSTEM engineering projects are engaging, and they encourage students to think critically. One of the challenges for teachers, though, is that they often require materials that probably aren’t on the supply list. Fortunately, there is a lot you can do with items found at Dollar Tree or other discount stores. Check out the cornucopia of STEM goodness that I picked up on a recent shopping trip:

STEM Materials from Dollar Tree
Now these are just items that I needed for specific projects. As you probably know, because you’re a teacher and teachers know these things, there are tons more things you can find at Dollar Tree. Can you think of any items you could use for STEM building projects?

Here is a list to get you started:

shopping listStay tuned for more ideas for building your STEM supplies and how to use them. And if you feel like shopping, click here to find STEM engineering projects that are More Than a Worksheet!

Happy STEM-ing!


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Let’s Take a Braincation!

brain break pinSometimes we all just need a vacation. Unfortunately, there is this thing called an attendance policy, and oh yeah, a job. So maybe you can’t take a vacation anytime you wish, but why not take a BRAINCATION? That’s right, people, a vacation for your brain. Sometimes referred to as a brain break.

I know sometimes it is hard to add one more thing to your already packed teaching schedule, so I compiled a list of ideas to help you incorporate a much needed brain break into your day. Your students, and your brain, will thank you! Here are some brain break ideas that are quick and easy to implement:

1. Verbs and Adverb Practice: Choose a verb and adverb combo to act out. For example/ march quickly, jump slowly, dance happily, etc… Call on volunteers to think of a verb and adverb pair, and have the class do the activity for 30 seconds.

2. Spelling Review: Do jumping jacks, lunges, or other quick exercises for each letter as you spell the word together.

3. Charades: Have students act out vocab words, actions from various stories, or other content related things.

4. Division: Hop 36/6 times, Do 20/5 jumping jacks, etc…

5. Multiplication: Run in place for 9 x 3 seconds, Do 2 x 4 toe touches, etc…

6. Art: Show pictures of various statues, and have students imitate the statues and hold for 10 seconds.

7. Animals: Have students pretend to be various animals i.e. gallop like a horse, stretch like a cat, etc…

8. Sports Star: Have students act out different sports moves i.e. swing a baseball bat, throw a football, spike the volleyball, etc…

9. Things with Wheels: Pretend to drive a car, ride a skateboard, roller-skate, etc…

10. Marching Band: Have students pretend to play various musical instruments while marching to a beat.

11. Good old fashioned dance party. Play music and have students dance. Go crazy and teach them cool moves like the sprinkler or the swim.

12. Geography: Show a map, and have students create an alliterative move for a country or city i.e. Jump in Jacksonville, Twist in Texas, etc…

13. Keep the Beat: March in place to a rhythm while reading aloud poetry or songs.

14. Yoga: Teach students simple standing balance poses like the tree pose or warrior pose.

15: Braincation PowerPoint: Here is a fun freebie that I created using some pictures of various primates. The concept is simple. Students see the primate and imitate it. Monkey See, Monkey Do! You can grab it for FREE from my TPT Store or you can click here to pick it up free from Google Docs. You can see some of the slides below. There are 22 slides in all.

Braincation Primates

Slide02 Slide03 Slide05 Slide06

And if you are looking for some more FREE activities to help you get back to school, you should check out the FREE Back to School E-books on TPT. Lots of Sellers got together to compile them, and they are loaded with tips and links to free products.

K-2 Resources

Math and Science Grades 3-5

ELA Grades 3-5

Math Grades 6-12

ELA Grades 6-12

Social Studies 6-12

Science 6-12

Have a great Braincation!


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Smelly Smiley: The SIMPLEST class reward ever!


smelly smile pin

Well, according to Wal-Mart and Target, it’s time to start thinking about back to school. At this time every year, I was always racking my brain for ideas for a class reward that a) is cheap (hello, no paycheck since June) and b) doesn’t pump kids full of sugar.

One year, I accidentally came up with the best reward ever. (Hyperbole much?)

Here’s the back story: I’ve loved Mr. Sketch markers ever since I was a fourth grader, and our teacher let us create a poster using her precious markers, and the delicious flavors wafted up from the group work into my nose, and I somehow had little dots of marker on my nose from sniffing so much, but I digress. As a teacher, they remained my favorite marker, and my favorite of the favorites is the orange. It smells like orange Tic-Tacs. What’s not to love?!

So I always carry around my orange marker, just in case I have to spontaneously make an anchor chart, you know. Anyway, the end of the day rolls around, and it’s time for me to sign student agendas. (By sign student agendas, I just did a quick check to make sure that students wrote their homework and colored their behavior strip correctly.) On that particular day, I found myself short on time and pens, so I just used my trusty orange marker. And students LOVED it so much that they begged for me to sign their agenda with the smelly markers every day. Voila! A reward system was born.

When students stay on blue or green all day, they get a smiley face in their agenda with a smelly marker. Told you it was SIMPLE! If not, then I would write a note in boring ol’ non smelly ink pen. It eventually morphed into the Spotlight Student choosing the marker each day, which they loved, too.

Now, I’m not saying that this is going to curb misbehavior necessarily. But when students have a great day, this is a fun (and cheap and easy) way to show them you appreciate their efforts. An unintended consequence is that I would often get laughs from parents saying how their child’s backpacks smelled like a candy store.

So if you’re looking for a daily reward that doesn’t break the bank or require a dental cleaning, try Smelly Smileys!

Oh, and if you haven’t seen the Mr. Sketch commercial, you should check it out. If you’re into potty humor. I have a two year old, so I am. Not suitable for all audiences!

“How Mr. Sketch Markers Get Their Smell” Commercial.

Hee hee.

For more activities that are More Than a Worksheet, visit my TPT Store!

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Hello Poetry Month!

Happy Poetry Month everyone! I like to read and write poetry year round with students, but it is nice to have a month that focuses on it, too. Below are some resources you can use for Poetry Month or really any month.

Here are some Poetry Quotes. I love these. You can download them  from google docs. Quotes are fun to use and discuss and make a great introduction to a poetry unit. You could use them as class or group discussion prompts. You could even have students respond in writing to them: What does the author mean? Do you agree or disagree? Some of the quotes are poetic themselves! You could also have students decorate them and use for a bulletin board. Then, at the end of your unit, have students write their own quotes about poetry to add to the board. Use them however you choose! There are suggestions for use included and they are also included in task card format so you can cut them out and keep them handy. Oh, and they’re free :)

Poetry Quotes

lovely frame from Biology Roots!


Here are some of my favorite poetry websites, specifically for kids:

Kenn Nesbitt’s Poetry for Kids–lots of funny poems and tips for writing different poems

Giggle Poetry–more fun poems and writing lessons! My students particularly loved the “Fill-in-the-Blank” poems in the Poetry Fun section

Shel Silverstein–yes this poet great has his own website. Many poems to read and other fun features for students plus printable lesson ideas for teachers.

Jack Prelutsky–lots of poems and interactive fun for students

Children’s Poetry Archive–there are lots of poems and bios of different poets, lots of fun to explore!

Poems Kids Like – has compiled a list of poems from around the Internet that are fun for kids.

Scholastic’s Resources–Scholastic has a ton of poetry month resources here.

Poetry Ideas on Pinterest–this is my Pinterest board where I like to collect pictures and ideas. Lots of freebies from around TPT are included, too.

Milestone News

I have exciting news to share! I have reached my first TPT sales milestone and will be featured in the TPT blog this weekend! Woohoo! To celebrate, all of my poetry resources will be 20% off in my store from Sunday through Wednesday.

More Than a Worksheet Poetry Resources

And it’s Friday, so I’m linking up with Freebie Friday over at Teaching Blog Addict. Click the icon to check out other freebies!


Happy Friday!
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