An ESL Thanksgiving

What a fun day we had! All week my newcomers were counting down to "27, eat turkey!"  Come and see what we did to celebrate Thanksgiving, ESL style!

We made torn-paper turkeys- easy and fantastic for fine motor skills, which some of my newcomers (and long-term ELL's) need practice in!

We hung them up under our thankful banners, next to "Tom."

My fourth graders read "Diary of a Pilgrim" and we discussed the similarities and differences between their lives in Burma and Thailand and the life of a Pilgrim. 

My newcomers learned about the first Thanksgiving from this book, plus we watched a few youtube videos to help us out! 

We had a "family" Thanksgiving around a long table in our library. 

My teaching partner picked up these awesome draw-on tablecloths for 59 cents each! Score!

Our crockpots got some good use today! We served turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce.  We also had a dessert table with brownies, blondies, and apple and pumpkin pie provided by one of our great instructional aides at school. 

 We served the food cafeteria-style so the kids could see and smell everything.

This is me and my teaching partner! We are a great team- we call ourselves the Admiral and the Cruise Director.  Can you guess which is which?

These boys had such a great time! I love that they have become good friends this year. 

We love Thanksgiving! 

P.S.  Are you ready for the sale?  I'm so not.  I need to spend some quality time with the TPT search function! Make sure you don't forget the code!!!

Have a happy and festive Thanksgiving!  I'm thankful for you!

The Thankful Thread Linky

I'm linking up with my friend Molly over at Lucky to Be in First to share what I'm thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Because sometimes you just need a little Christmas...right this very minute...

What are you thankful for?  Link up with Molly!

Teaching Contractions

This week our spelling pattern in 3rd and 4th grade was contractions.  I use a Third Grade Word Study product from The Teaching Duo- it has three levels of words for me to choose from. My 3rd graders did contractions with me last year, and had way more of a recollection than my 4th graders! I was stumped about how to review without making it tedious, and my amazing teaching partner gave me two great ideas.

After I introduced the spelling list (I use Spelling City and the "teach me" feature), we read this book:

Alfie the Apostrophe
I had my students sit with their spelling lists in front of them while we read the story.  For every contraction they heard on their list, they made a tally mark next to the word.  At the end of the book we added them up and compared which contraction was used most often.  I think "let's" won.  That was a great way to tie in some math vocabulary, too!

The next day we reviewed our words by making "apostrophe hands," which was another idea from my fabulous partner. I drew an apostrophe on each student's hand, which they were overjoyed about.  Then I called out two words and they had to write them on their whiteboards and make the contraction with their "apostrophe hands."  In hindsight, putting the apostrophe on a finger would have been better, but this worked just fine! 

Next up, I had lots of great reactions from my Halloween Emergent Reader, so I decided to make another one about the first Thanksgiving.  Please leave feedback if you download it!

Last, my newest product which I made for my 1st grade class.  Our reader this week was called "Animals Eat Plants," and I thought it was just the silliest book in the world.  I decided to bring a little more science into it and teach about the forest habitat.  It's very similar to my Seasons, Clothing, and Weather unit if you are familiar with that!

I'm also excited about my Diary of a Pilgrim mini-book.  My students are so excited to start reading it tomorrow, and I am too.  They capital L loved my Diary of a Witch book, so I know this will be a hit. 

Top 5 Teacher Time Savers

No matter what time of the year it is, teachers are always busy.  Here are some of my favorite time saving TPT products and ideas:

1: Print-and-Go centers/games from some of my new favorite sellers! My newcomers need a lot of reinforcement with basic counting, cardinality, and addition concepts.  They also need something they can do independently that is not direction-heavy.  Tall order, I know.  However, I have found a few things that work for them.  I am loving printing just one copy of each page and sliding them into clearboards- takes just a few minutes and no cutting/laminating.  Here's what we've been using:

2. Math fact practice:  It's Xtra Math!  Are you using it? If not, go check it out right now! It's free, kid-friendly, ELL friendly, and gives students the extra reinforcement in facts and mental math that they desperately need.

3. Anything I can do on my interactive whiteboard! We are a paperless school, so I love the Daily Fix It- I assign my students a sentence and they go to town finding the errors and correcting them, right from the board- no paper at all!

4. Picture prompts: In my room when we do picture prompt writing, we use the following format, which I save on my desktop and just project on the board.

Each kid writes individually, then they share with the class. They can take that information and turn it into a story later, but the sentence frames really help them organize their ideas.

5: A PLN: Don't have one? Get one.  A professional learning network can give you ideas and tips that will help you through any classroom challenge. I have met so many amazing teachers through blogging and TPT and am so thankful to them for their ideas and inspiration.

ESL Teaching Quotes, Brad Henry, Inspiration

I'm so thankful to have learned so much about being a better teacher from new friends around the world and country over the past year.

Teaching Newcomers: Reading and Number Sense Games

Hip Hip Hooray! My newcomer students as they read a book for the first time! What an amazing feeling, to watch a student recognize a word and then say it, knowing what it means.  We used my Halloween Emergent Reader after previewing the vocabulary, then used TPR to learn the phrase I can see.  So exciting! Want to see?  Watch my sweethearts read, here.  After we read we took a walk around the school to find Halloween decorations, using the phrase I can see a... (witch/ghost/etc.)  It was so much fun.  Note to self: it was the first time they had been in the main office...take them back there.

I also broke out the witch reading fingers this week...adorable!

3. We played a new math game to practice addition.  I had students close their eyes and pull out two numbers from a bucket (using their witch fingers) and add them together.  Simple and fun!  We use the hundreds chart to count on, since we're still working on counting and number recognition.  They circle the first number with the Expo marker, then count on however many spaces they need.  They each have a laminated version in their notebooks for help as well. 

4.  I finally got our bulletin board up.  I traced the template onto butcher paper on my whiteboard, then traced mini ones onto tag-board for my kids to decorate.  The template comes from Rooting for Third Grade- it's adorable- thanks Kayla!

5.  I made gnocchi.  Delicious, amazing, comfort food gnocchi. With brown-butter sage sauce.  It is heavenly- one of our favorite dinners, hands down.

My husband had been working out of town for three weeks; this is what he requested for when he got home.  It's more of a weekend cooking event, but I made it on a Tuesday night and we were able to eat at a reasonable hour! 


3-5 Russet or baking potatoes
1 egg
1 cup all purpose flour
kosher salt

Clean, prick, and nestle potatoes on a bed of salt on a baking sheet.  Bake at 375 degrees 50 minutes, then let cool until safe to handle.  Slice potatoes down the middle, then scoop the insides out with a spoon.  Using a box grater or potato ricer, grate the potatoes onto a cutting board/silpat.  Let cool for another 5 minutes. 

Beat the egg and some salt in a small bowl, drizzle over potatoes.  Add the flour, and begin to knead the dough into a ball.  Add more flour as needed.  You are finished when the dough is no longer sticking to your fingers, and you can poke a finger in and the dough does not spring back.  Cover with a kitchen towel, let rest for about 10 minutes. 

Make the gnocchi: Divide the ball of dough into 6 to 8 pieces.  Roll each one into a rope approximately 8 inches long- do not flatten! Cut pieces 3/4" to 1" thick- you can get 8 to 9 gnocchi from each dough rope. 

Lay gnocchi on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, sprinkle with flour when all are finished.  Pop in the freezer for 30 minutes (or until you're ready to cook...whenever that may be.)

Boil a pot of salted water, add the gnocchi.  Stir gently! 45 seconds after the gnocchi float to the top, they are finished.  Add to sauce!

Brown Butter Sage Sauce

1 stick butter
red pepper flakes
chopped sage
parmesan cheese

Saute 1 stick of butter over med/high heat until it browns.  You'll know it's done when there are brown flecks throughout and it smells a little nutty.  Remove from heat until gnocchi are ready to come out of the pot.  Turn the heat to medium, add a tsp (more if you like spicy) of red pepper flakes and a tbsp of chopped sage leaves. Add the gnocchi and toss to coat.  Remove from heat, add about a 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese. Serve immediately, top with more cheese if desired.  Mangia!


What's your favorite dinner? Hope you have a great weekend!

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