Magic Tree House NO PREP (ELA)

First off can I begin with how much I LOVE the Magic Tree House series?? I recently posted about 10 different ways this extremely versatile series can be used in a primary classroom. I have been working on NO PREP packs for each book that focus on phonics and grammar skills.

Wow. Once I got into these books a little deeper, I found so many different ways to teach using these books! So far I have the first 15 books done and bundled in different sets for major savings!
I am working on the 16th book right now and am trying to include as many CCS for K-2 as possible. To check out all of my NO PREP resources CLICK HERE


These packs are posted for Kindergarten through second grade but certainly can be adapted for students in the intermediate levels who are struggling with particular skills. The pages follow words from the text along wit clip art but could be pulled for different uses as well. You certainly do NOT have to read the text to complete these units. The books are simply to incorporate as many ELA skills as possible into one neat and tidy theme.

All of the sets begin with the same type of pages for phonics practice:
  • beginning sounds
  • medial sounds
  • ending sounds
  • phoneme split
  • phoneme delete
  • phoneme switch
  • syllables
  • real vs. nonsense
Each set does not have the same set of skills covered. Some have similar pages or skills that are focused on. Please don't think I simply switched out the graphics for each set and they are all the same! Trust me, I would be done with the entire series (and I heard book #53 is just released!!!) by now. I really am trying to focus on as many necessary skills for K-2 as possible.

Text Features
  • diagrams, glossary, title page, index
Parts of Speech
  • nouns, pronouns, proper nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives
Grammar/ELA Skills
  • Using your senses to describe words
  • Possessives
  • Synonyms vs. Antonyms
  • Compound Words
  • ABC Order
  • Rhyming
  • Dictionary Skills: Guide Words
  • Homophones
  • Figurative Language: Hyperbole, Onomatopoeia, Simile, Personification, Alliteration
  • Sight Words
  • Which Word Doesn't Belong (a word that does not begin with the same letter)
  • Comparing Facts
  • Venn Diagrams
  • Fact vs. Opinion
  • Quotation Marks & Punctuation & Contractions
  • Spelling Practice
  • Long & Short Vowels
  • Verb Tenses
  • How many words in a sentence
  • Sequencing
  • Riddles
  • Cause & Effect
  • CVC Words
  • Apostrophes
  • Blends

  • Haiku Poetry
  • Describing Characters
  • Describing Settings
  • Writing Friendly Letters
  • Addressing Envelopes
  • Creating a scene (adding details to a picture and writing about it)
  • Writing Details
  • Main Idea
  • Sentence scrambles

Whew! I am sure there is more that I missed but this should give you an idea of what you are exposing your little ones too with this series! The best part is they can be used for small groups, homework, morning work, centers, and so much more! They are ink friendly and can even be bundled together for a packet as you go through the book!

I would love to hear what you think!!




Fine Motor Skills Practice-Pre-K Level

Summer means I am able to spend a lot more one-on-one time with my boys. Especially my older one when the younger Hawley is taking a nap. Ah, I love those few stolen moments during nap time with my kiddo.

{He's actually sitting on my lap right now playing with my hair as I write this.}

So, the oldest Hawley boy is going to Pre-K this fall and we couldn't be more thrilled. We have been working on some fine motor skills since he needs a little extra practice in this department. I was searching for ideas on Pinterest one day and I cannot remember the source {If anyone finds the originator please let me know!} and found a game for 3-4 year olds.

  • handful of plastic beads {If you are like me I am sure you have a few rolling around in a craft bin somewhere!}
  • plastic bag or container
  • pipe cleaners
That's it. See, I told you it was cheap! Easy peasy!

I bent down one end of the pipe cleaner to create a stopper for the beads. I placed about 10 at a time on his high chair tray {sometimes he works better when he cannot jump up from the table and run away}

I picked up a bead and told him to "pinch" and showed him to pinch the sides of the bead. Next, I showed him to "slide" the bead onto the pipe cleaner all the way to the bottom. I kept repeating these words and he eventually got the idea on his own. {We are also working on speech so anyone who has a child in need of fine motor/speech practice this is a great easy activity!}

Our littlest Hawley boy has a decent attention span when the activity is engaging. He has sat and done this several times this summer already and once for as long as 20 minutes.

So there you go, a quick fun-easy activity to pre for Pre-K! I'd love to hear {or see!} how your kiddos enjoyed this!

Summer Bargain Finds

I am having so much fun relaxing with my family, enjoying time with my boys, not waking up to an alarm clock and....going shopping! I was displaced this spring and had to pack up my things and move across the district. While I was up to my elbows packing, I discovered there were things that needed pitched and things I desperately needed to replace. That's a good excuse to go shopping right??

Summer means I am able to spend a little longer in stores and peruse the clearance sections. Just this week I was able to snag some very exciting things for my classroom (and my at home classroom for my boys too!)

1. Home Goods

Sometimes if you check the clearance aisles closely you can find great buys like my brand new homework tray I scored for $5 today!! I love this clean look for my desk!! So excited to take homework home now. Hmm, well maybe not once I have to start checking it but at least the bin is pretty!

2. Ross

This store is highly unpredictable but every so often I am able to find something that is so perfect and the price is to die for. Take this adorable canvas tote. My 11 month old sat and stared at the whimsical owl the entire way through the store. I grabbed it for less than $4. Wahoo!!

3. Goodwill

Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE going to the Goodwill. You have to check each aisle carefully and be willing to rummage through things but you can find great buys! I have snagged several puzzles and educational games for my own boys as well as my classroom. I also find books to add to my classroom library. The best part is they are usually priced at .25!

4. Carson Dellosa

Sometimes you can find things in their clearance that make is so worth the shipping! I got these great fish for my son who needs to work on his fine motor skills. These fish come in different colors and different ways to represent the number. They can snap together or be strung together. We have worked on sorting by color and stringing the fish so far and he LOVES them!  I also grabbed the alphabet one which had been on clearance too!

5. Wal-Mart

I have to admit I never really walked through the party section of Wal-Mart before. But as I was walking by the other day, I saw this adorable table cloth and bunting banner. Each were .97 and I knew I would find a use for them somehow! Who can pass up such a deal?!

6. Dollar Tree

I saved one of my favorites for last. I LOVELOVELOVELOVE the Dollar Tree. I had grabbed these bins for a different projects and found they were perfect for sorting my read alouds by genre/month/seasons. I had a hard time finding them at the end of the year. I think I have stopped in 8 different ones in the Pittsburgh area over the last 12 weeks but I finally found them. They are sturdy, cute, and have so many functions! I love using their variety of organizational bins. The best part is they are only $1.
I also wanted to share a cheap way to decorate your classroom, home-school room, or even a toddler room! Take a dust jacket off a hardback book, laminate and hang! I have every one of my dust jackets laminated and plan on putting some of my favorites in frames and using in our playroom for a cheap and adorable decoration!

I hope you are enjoying your summer and I would love to see what you are snatching up for your classroom!!

10 Reasons to LOVE the Magic Tree House Series

This is one of my all time favorite children's series. EVER. I use this series in my classroom in so many different ways and I have been reading through them with my four-year-old. The fact that he will sit and listen attentively and ultimately fall asleep to each night is a blessing.

If you have never read the series, let me give you a little background. The series is based on a brother-sister duo, Jack and Annie, who live in Frog Creek, Pennsylvania. They stumble across a tree house in the woods and discover they can magically travel through time (Past, Present, and Future) by using books inside the tree house. Eventually they help a magical enchantress, Morgan le Fay and a wizard Merlin preserve magic and history for Camelot.

Still not convinced? This is the top ways you can utilize this series in your classroom.
  1. Read Alouds. As I mentioned before, I use these in my classroom and with my children at home. Before you go and say 4-5 year-olds won't sit and listen. They will. Trust me. I read the first 25 books with my kindergarteners for years. They literally sat on the edge of their seats waiting to find out what happened. My son simply adores the series. He is working on his speech and this series has presented an expansive vocabulary to him in a captivating way.
  2. Beginning Chapter Book Readers. Are your little darlings ready to stretch their wings and begin to read on their own? This series is great for captivating their attention, using simple sight words BUT throwing some challenge words into the mix as well.
  3. Vocabulary/ELA. We've all heard it. They need more vocabulary. They need to be submersed in it. This series offers such a wide range of vocabulary you could work on the entire book for 2 weeks and have 15-30 new words to focus on. Check out my Magic Words: Read the Room sets for different vocabulary ideas {HERE}. I also have created a NO PREP line for the first 11 books in the series. The first 10 are in a bundle. They cover phonics and grammar standards for K-2 while using vocabulary and topics found in each book. Check them out {HERE}
  4. Writing. Oh.My. The possibilities are endless. Do you want to work on poetry, creative writing, informative writing, persuasive writing, grammar, letters, etc.? No matter what you want your little ones to write, there is a way to incorporate this series.
  5. Text Features. I love how Mary Pope Osborne has included the captions in the text in bold face print. You can use time lines, captions, illustrations, maps, etc. while reading each adventure.
  6. Non-Fiction. There are so many different topics this series touches on: biomes, landforms, food webs/chains, animals, ancient civilizations, different cultures.
  7. History. My all time favorite book in the series is Tonight on the Titanic because I had a distant relative who was on the ship. At one point there was a fantastic exhibit with actual artifacts taken from the wreckage in Tampa, FL. That was years ago but well worth the money if anyone ever gets a chance to go. Your kids can learn about the Civil War, the Revolutionary War. They can meet famous inventors like Albert Einstein and presidents like George Washington and Abe Lincoln.
  8. Geography. One of the best lessons I have ever done is when my kindergarten team took Afternoon on the Amazon to the extreme. We pained our hallway to look exactly like a rainforest. I'm talking rocks and water on the floor with pihranas. Jungle vines and birds hanging from the ceiling. A volcano and waterfall painted on the stairwell door and elevator. We used the idea from Flat Stanley and got Polly the Parrot (introduced in the book Pirates Past Noon) to fly all over the world and send postcards. We used a large word map and tracked her progress. That year we got nearly 100 postcards from all over the US, Afghanistan, India, Ireland, the Caribbean, Africa, Mexico, France, England, and so many other places. At the end of the unit, we had our kids choose a location Polly visited and do a large writing project. Check out my interactive notebook on biomes {HERE}
  9. Science. There are so many different wants to incorporate science into the series. One of my favorite lessons was when my class read Mummies in the Morning and I had them actually prep a mummy for burial. Check out the lesson for more details{HERE}. Want to include animals and geography studies? Check out my animal interactive notebooks {HERE}
  10. Captivating. I would not waste so much of my time on a series that I didn't enjoy so much. I was first introduced to the series as a teenager when my mom was trying to get my younger sister to read. I completely forgot about the series until I was student teaching and my first grade class was reading Night of the Ninjas. Children will love the characters. Annie is a free spirit and adventurous. Jack is methodical and cautious. But the two siblings balance each other out while learning and having fun at the same time.
So there you have it my friends. Ten different reasons why I think this series is a MUST READ in primary classrooms. I'd love to hear which book is your favorite and how you use the series with your kiddos!

YearLONG Writing Portfolios

This post is completely dedicated to why I save keep hoard my student's writing projects all year long and send them home at the end of the year. I have to admit that in the past I would have my kiddos complete a writing project, display it for my class to see, take it down and send it home. Ugh, I'm sure half of them didn't survive the bus ride home. All that hard work. All that dedication. DOWN. THE. DRAIN.

Last year I decided to try something different. Not only did I switch grade levels but I wanted to change things up. Instead of having my kids not remember anything we did throughout the year, I wanted to save their work and collect it in a portfolio as a keepsake.

Who wouldn't want a year book to show their families of their writing accomplishments??

Now, before you begin saying "What was she thinking? Where did she keep all of that? How did she pass it out?" There is a method to my madness.

First, my writing projects are not your typical 8 1/2 x 11 standard paper size. Most projects are large sheets of paper glued together with a writing project and sometimes craft attached. There is NO way that kind of project would fit neatly into a binder.

The small 1-inch binders worked perfectly after we folded their
projects down.

Last year, I tried to have my kids put their projects in a few at a time into their writing portfolio binders. Hmmm....not my best idea. The projects did not fit in their binders well AND sit on a shelf inside a hidden cupboard.

So, this year I tried something completely different. I grabbed a large box and hid it on the other side of my desk (out of everyone's view) and would put their writing projects inside the box after I took it down from the hallway. Of course, by the end of the year the projects were piling up nearly twice the size of the box. BUT the system totally worked.

This is a sample of a student's portfolio in the correct order BEFORE
I helped them fold down some of their larger projects. Like I said, there
is NO way this would have fit neatly on a shelf!

I lost my voice the last week of school.

I know most would say perfect timing, right?


After having an asthma attack at school and losing my voice for nearly 5 days that was the last thing I wanted.

While my kiddos were busing completing their end of the year Memory Book I started sorting through their projects by month. Yep, it took a while but it made the process so much easier!!

I really feel like this picture does not portray how many writing projects there were.
We did 35 writing projects and I have 23 kids so that really adds up!!

Today was the big day and I had my kids make a writing cover while I finished sorting their projects. I cut and glued them to the cover and they really made the binders pop. I had the kids open their binders and keep all of their projects on their desk.

Once they were all passed out, I had the kids move their projects from their desk to their chairs and I would announce the project I wanted them to find and wrote the title on the board. We went through each month and put the projects in order for the year. By the end of our project, the kids were amazed to discover we did 35 (yes 35) writing projects this year!

This is a sample of a portfolio AFTER I helped organize and
fold some of the larger projects down to fit inside the binder.

Once they were organized, I helped fold down some of their larger writing projects, place inside a plastic grocery bag and voila we were done!

The best part of this project was listening to the kids shout out things as they read their old projects.

"I remember this!"
"This was so much fun!"
"This was my favorite project!"
"I completely forgot about this!"

What do you do with your writing projects? I would love to hear other ideas!