Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Beginning of the Year Book Study for Upper Elementary: Cinderella Fairy Tales

One of my favorite things to do at the beginning of the year with my fourth graders is a book study on Cinderella. I have collected numerous read aloud books that follow the plot line of and were inspired by Cinderella. The students love this unit in my classroom and I use it to work on a vast array of skills. The best effect from doing this unit is to get students talking to set the tone for student-led discussion at the beginning of the year.

The skills that I like to highlight in this unit are:
-compare and contrast- this skill is obviously the primary skill in exposing students to such similar stories. I have done this two ways with venn diagrams: comparing the first two books read or having students compare and contrast their two favorite books. I think you'll find, though, that comparing and contrasting is a skill you can sprinkle throughout your interactive read aloud and it will drive student-led discussions.

-predictions- once students understand the Cinderella plot line, they can start making some great predictions and justifying their predictions with evidence from another text!

-plot- Repeating the same plot over and over again helps students internalize the standard plot structure.

-context clues- I love that a lot of the books I have found take place in different settings all around the world. A lot of the books I chose give the students a little taste of a different culture with some language or dialect from that region or country. Students can use their context clues to figure out what some of these new words mean!

-character traits- Since the characters are similar, give or take, in each story, I make a point to also put an emphasis on character traits. It's a great opportunity, again, to make sure that students are justifying their claims with evidence during discussions. I love using this Character Trait chart from Workshop Classroom's tpt shop. I actually have the blank one printed out as a poster that I constantly reference throughout the year. For start of the year purposes, I show the students the filled in chart.

When students are more comfortable with a story, I've found that the discussions are quite impressive. So that is why I always start my year with this unit.

I read one book a day. I am lucky to have a generous 30 minute block that can be used to incorporate an interactive read aloud at the start of each day. If you don't have that luxury, you could use these folk tales in an extended unit.

Use this list as a guideline! There are so many other Cinderella-inspired stories out there that I'm sure are wonderful. If you have any that I haven't mentioned, please let me know about them!

The book I always start with is a classic Cinderella story. The book I use for this is,,,

This is the story heavily inspired by Charles Perrault, who many of us think of as the classic Cinderella story with the glass slippers. I am always surprised at how few of my students have seen the Disney movie so this is an essential starting point. 

After I read the classic story, there is no necessary order that I read the following books in.

The Chinese version of Cinderella is actually the original story. This tale is a reproduction of the Chinese manuscript that dates back to the 5th century, one thousand years before the story first surfaced in Europe. Starting with this story instead of the Charles Perrault version is a great option!

I am especially drawn to this book because it breaks down typical gender roles of a Cinderella story. The main character is a young male!

This tale is based on Algonquin folklore, so it lends itself well to tying in or briefly introducing any Native American content you teach. As a Virginia teacher, this book is especially remarkable since we specifically teach about the Algonquin tribe.

I think this is the most fun book to read and at the end of the year my students often ask for me to read it a few more times! I like to read this story with a bit of a twang as that is how the book is written- in the regional dialect. As a Virginia teacher, the fact that this story takes place in the Appalachian Mountains is a bonus that leads to a geography tie-in! So any Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky or West Virginia teachers... take note!

Cinder-Elly is a student favorite because it's written in a rap! This hip-hop Cinderella story that takes place in a modern urban setting. My students are able to identify with the main character in this story best because her story takes place in the current times. I find that character traits integrate well with this book.

My family is Persian so I love incorporating this story into my Cinderella unit. I also have trouble finding stories that depict middle eastern characters (or just non-Caucasian characters in general) so this book is relevant and influential. Shirley Climo is also a favorite author of mine in the folklore genre as you can tell since her books are on this list multiple times.

As teachers, we all know that Tomie dePaola's books make great read alouds and Adelita is no exception. This is a Mexican Cinderella story. My students are heavily hispanic so it's fun to have them explain what some of the words in this book mean as dePaola incorporates a ton of spanish words (don't worry, there is a glossary in the back and all meanings are easily decipherable). If your students don't speak spanish, this book is great to incorporate those context clues!

Here are some other titles that would work for this unit, but I have yet to have any experience with! If anyone has recommendations for these, please let me know! I love adding to my collection for this unit and keeping a few Cinderella-insired stories in my classroom library for interested students to read throughout the year. As you can see, there are so many different options from a variety of cultures for you to choose from.



Monday, July 18, 2016

Stitch Fix Review July 2016

I'm so excited to share my thoughts on my Stitch Fix box that I just opened! This was only my second fix. For this fix, I told my stylist that I'll be starting a new job soon and am looking for some professional pieces to incorporate into work outfits. I emphasized my petite height in my notes and my love of anything lace or navy on my pinterest board. I absolutely LOVE everything my stylist Megan chose for me. I adore the note she included in my fix:

Hi Caitlyn, welcome back! I had so much putting this fix together for you, especially with Summer here! I browsed your Pinterest and snagged you a few pieces I think you are going to LOVE! Let's start with the Renee C printed maxi skirt, such a boho chic look and so comfortable too! Pair your new skirt with the Market & Spruce Hi-Lo short sleeve tee and add a long necklace to complete the look! For work style your new maxi with the Collective Concepts lace inset blouse, add a few bangle bracelets and wedge heels and you are set! Heading out with friends? Style the Tinsel skinnies with your new Hi-Lo tee, heeled ankle boots and a statement necklace for a trendy look that is sure to get compliments! I hope you love your new pieces, Caitlyn! XO Megan

For those of you who don't know, Stitch Fix is a subscription box that delivers hand-picked clothes (including shoes and purses now!) to your door. You are assigned a stylist who scours your provided Pinterest board, notes and preferences to choose the best pieces for you.

1. Sign up for a Stitch Fix account.
2. Fill out your style profile. This is where you provide your sizes, your style and color preferences and can share a Pinterest board with your stylist, which I highly recommend!
3. Choose a date. Pick a date for when you want your stitch fix shipment to arrive! You pay a $20 styling fee when your fix ships but you can put that $20 towards any piece in your box!
4. Receive your fix! If you keep everything from your fix, you get a 25% discount!
5. Send back any items you don't want. You have 3 business days (Sundays and Holidays don't count) to send back any pieces you didn't love. They even provide a shipping back that is already addressed and stamped.

Tinsel - Kamala Skinny Jean 
($68) + Collective Concepts - Paddio Lace Inset Blouse ($58)
The first items I tried on were this gorgeous navy blouse and the skinny jeans. My stylist, Megan, knew about my love for all things navy and she delivered! The back of the blouse has some delicate lace details, but the blouse is still perfectly professional.
The skinny jeans are more like dress pants. They're definitely not denim. I am in love with the color and also how stretchy they are! I was so shocked when I put them on because they fit like a glove! Do you know how hard it is for a short girl to find pants that fit!? This is a miracle.
-Blouse  - I decided to return the blouse. It looks a lot like a few shirts I already have, so it seems as though my stylist nailed my style just a bit too well!

-Pants - Keep, keep, keep, forever keep!! I will be wearing these to work tomorrow!!! 

Tinsel - Kamala Skinny Jean + Market & Spruce - Sam Hi-Lo Short Sleeve Tee ($44)
The next item I tried on was the gray Hi-Lo short sleeve tee from Market & Spruce (which I paired with the amazing Tinsel skinny jeans). I loved how comfortable this shirt was! I don't purchase a lot of the Hi-Lo style shirts because sometimes the "lo" can be too long for my short body, but this shirt was just right! It also wasn't incredibly baggy, as some of these shirts tend to be.
Verdict: As cute and comfy as this shirt was, I opted to return it. I was looking for work clothes and this shirt is super casual and also I thought it was overpriced. My husband, who loves saving money, did try to convince me to keep it though! So I am having a bit of return remorse.

Renee C - Galinda Printed Maxi Skirt ($58)
When I first opened my box and saw this pattern I was excited to try something a bit funky! I tend to stick to solids, so I was really hoping to fall in love with this maxi skirt. I am so happy that my stylist seemed to really understand my need for new business apparel that is also comfortable! This maxi skirt is the epitome of comfort and business casual.
Verdict: I don't know why but I just don't think maxi skirts are flattering on me. Maybe I'm just stuck in my ways and don't often buy maxi skirts. I kind of liked the fun pattern on this skirt. But, my motto is always- if you don't love it when you first try it on, don't buy it! So I decided to return this skirt.

Donna Morgan - Marlow Jersey Shirt Dress ($118)
I tried this piece on last because I knew I was going to fall in love with it. I love dresses, I have way too many. On top of that, this dress is PENN STATE COLORS! I am immediately attracted to anything navy and white and this dress was no exception. I thought it was flattering and I loved how the collar and buttons made it even more professional. I'm already planning to wear this dress this week for the perfect occasion: a meeting in a classroom over the summer with no air conditioning!
Verdict: I'm sure you can guess.. I decided to KEEP this dress! 

I have to be honest, I wasn't entirely happy with my first stitch fix but I am over the moon enamored with all of the pieces my stylist chose for me. I briefly considered keeping all of them for the 25% discount, but I'm happy keeping my two favorite items for now. And I am excitedly awaiting my next fix!

Want to see what other Stitch Fix bloggers got in their boxes this month? Hop on over to Crazy Together and browse all the bloggers reviews in the link-up!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Social Studies Buddies - clock buddies w/ social studies

How do you partner students in your classroom? Social Studies Buddies is a great tool for partnering your kiddos quickly and by reinforcing content from social studies class! All I have to say is "Everyone get with your George Washington partner!" and students automatically have a partner.

How to use:
1. Each student gets a copy of the Social Studies Buddies page (I have them glue it in the first page of their Social Studies notebook). Students will write their own name on the bottom of this page where it says "This page belongs to "and that is the last time they will write their own name on this page.

2. Ask students to find a partner in the class and write it under the first line (under Pocahontas).

3. Then ask students to find a new parter to write their name under the second line (under John Smith). 

4. Keep going until everyone's page is filled! If you have a small class, you can either stop and not fill out a few of the people or you can put students in groups of 3.

5. Whenever you're doing a partner activity, pick a historical figure from this page and ask your students to partner up with them. Students will quickly be partnered up and you'll be referencing important historical figures all year!

In my class, we do this on the first day of school. It's a great activity to get students circulating and introducing themselves to students outside their typical friendship circles. My students need a lot of scaffolding, so we find one partner at a time and go sit down in between partner-finding. In my first year, we didn't do this and it got confusing very quickly. I always ask students to leave their Robert E. Lee and Arthur Ashe partner blank. I choose those partners so I know I'm picking a good partner for each student to work with in a heterogenous or homogenous manner. That way I can ask students to get with their Robert E. Lee or Arthur Ashe partner if I specifically need solid partnerships for a given activity. 

Alternatively, you could partner everyone up yourself!

If you grab this product, Social Studies Buddies, before Tuesday, you'll get 50% off! Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Snow Day!

Today marks my district's fifth snow day this school year. I don't know about you, but I start to feel pretty anxious if I'm not productive on days off. I thought I'd kick off today by waking up early and cooking an indulgent breakfast just for me! Obviously if you need to, I guess you can share with your family members since it makes 12 servings.

The recipe is from Alexandra's Kitchen and you can find it here!
I already had almost all of the ingredients already. And believe me, I'm not one of those cooks who has a fully-stocked pantry- this is just a really simple recipe. I just had to go out and grab 2 cups of blueberries before I could start baking away.

Buttermilk Blueberry Breakfast Cake
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 tsp. lemon zest or more — zest from 1 large lemon
  • 7/8 cup* + 1 tablespoon sugar**
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups flour (set aside 1/4 cup of this to toss with the blueberries)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • ½ cup buttermilk***

    * 7/8 cup = 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons

    ** This 1 tablespoon is for sprinkling on top

    *** To make homemade buttermilk, place 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup. Fill cup with milk until it reaches the 1-cup line. Let stand for five minutes. Use only 1/2 cup of the prepared mixture for the recipe.
  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Cream butter with lemon zest and 7/8 cup of the sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Meanwhile, toss the blueberries with ¼ cup of flour, then whisk together the remaining flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. Add the flour mixture to the batter a little at a time, alternating with the buttermilk. Fold in the blueberries.
  4. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan (or something similar) with butter or coat with non-stick spray. Spread batter into pan. Sprinkle batter with remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes. Check with a toothpick for doneness. If necessary, return pan to oven for a couple of more minutes. (Note: Baking for as long as 10 minutes more might be necessary.) Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

The recipe says to bake for 35-45 minutes at 350 degrees, but I baked it for 45 minutes and could have probably baked it for another 5 or 10 minutes to get that perfect golden brown, but I was too impatient to eat it!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Favorite Fourth Grade Read Aloud Book!

I ordered "The Day the Crayons Quit" from Scholastic Book Order after hearing so many teachers and parents rave about it. I was unsure about how it would go over with the upper elementary crowd but decided it would be a fun read aloud on our first day back to school after winter break.

Oh man, I have never had so many laughs at a read loud. My fourth graders LOVED it. They wanted to see it afterwards to read it over and over again!

It's a story about a little boy's box of crayons who write letters to him one day expressing their outrage toward him in some way or  another. Some crayons are upset that he uses them too much, some crayons are upset that he uses them too little. The author, Drew Daywalt, is incredibly humorous.

This book is a perfect model for letter-writing or personification! After we finished the read aloud, I asked my students to pick a school supply in their desks and write a letter to themselves from the perspective of that school supply. They had a blast with this activity because it really let their imaginations soar!

If you'd like to purchase the book for your classroom or your own children, I can't recommend that you do so enough! I even read it aloud to my coworkers because it was so funny! Find it on amazon here: 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Currently January 2015

I can't believe it's going to be 2015. Doesn't that feel like such a futuristic year? Maybe it's just me but I remember when it was New Years Eve 1999 and being so excited for the year 2000. I can't believe that was 15 years ago!

Listening- We've been binging on Netflix since we got home yesterday. My husband is watching "Crimes of the Century" right now while I'm reading "The Devil in the White City."

Loving- Our house is clean. I spent all week before we left (two weeks ago) making the house spotless so when we came home we would have one less thing to do and could relax. And now I've got my scentsy on with Christmas Cottage inside- best. smell. ever.

Thinking- about jury duty. We got home after 2 weeks of travelling all over the country (four Christmases) to a fun jury summons letter. Man, they don't give you much time to prepare! I'll have to take off a full week the second week we return to school. I am NOT looking forward to writing a week's worth of sub plans.

Wanting- I am going over to a friend's new house tonight for a party with lots of snacks, fun and games! Really looking forward to it and wishing it was 7:00 already!

Needing- More days off- I know. I'm greedy. I haven't relaxed at all yet though.

Yes to running- always my resolution!
Maybe to being open to opportunities.. more on that later in the month!
And I'm always wishing for a lifetime of happiness for my family and friends.
Happiness to me would be lots of travelling and memories in 2015!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

December BarkBox + 10% off

My favorite day of the month is when the BarkBox arrives! We were out of town for the holidays so we just got to open the December BarkBox today! Sometimes I think I'm more excited than my pup...

This is our dog- Brooklyn! She's a 3-year old miniature schnauzer. We had her annual vet visit today so it was a great day for a BarkBox after a bit of poking and prodding.

I love the cute wintery paper that wrapped up all the goodies in this month's box!

Two toys and a bandana in this month's box! 
The christmas bulb toy is by Orbee, one of our favorite dog toy companies! It has a strong minty scent to it so makes your dog's breath smell great when they play with it and it's made of thick, durable, bouncy material. 
The Penguin's belly is filled with crinkly plastic, which our dog LOVES.

Two edible treats in this month's box!
The bag of treats is HUGE. They're lamb biscuits from Superior Farms and the best part is that they're gluten-free!
The other treat is a Yeti Dog Chew- also in the largest size available. Brooklyn has had a Himalayan dog chew before and really enjoyed it. I like that they don't stain your furniture/blanket/carpet or wherever your dog decides to chow down on the treat.

One of my favorite things is that BarkBox includes a card in each box describing each toy and treat so that you know what you're giving your dog and also so that you can reorder if you need to in the future! All the toys and treats are made in the USA or Canada and BarkBox doesn't send sample sizes- it's all the regular size products from companies that you'll find featured monthly in each box. 

If you'd like to get in on the fun, click HERE to order. By clicking through that link, you'll automatically get 10% off your order! Then your pup can be just as happy as ours on a monthly basis!