Hi everyone! Are you happy that it's finally spring? I know my family sure is.  Before we get started with today's post , I wanted to wish Inspired Owl's Corner a very happy birthday!


With spring comes testing season for my students! BOO HISS, I know it's awful.  However, it doesn't have to be that bad.  Our students and children love testing week.  Let me share a story from my family with you.  On Monday morning my youngest woke up with some serious pep in her step.  She was beyond "Christmas morning" excited.  When I asked her what was going on, she said it was testing week and she was super excited.  You heard me right, she loves testing! When I asked her why she loved testing, she said, "Mommy, you write me super sweet notes every morning and give me a treat.  Daddy cooks me a yummy breakfast.  My teacher is super sweet to me and after the test, she gives us treats and lets us have fun. What's not to love?" She has a point doesn't she. When I got to school my students were super happy too.  Today I will share how I encourage my students to do their best and what makes them love testing.

Just like everyone else, we spend the weeks up to the test preparing our students to perform well.  How we do it, may or may not look a little different. Generally we teach a mini lesson to the students and  allow them to work through centers, games or task cards, something hands-on, engaging and fun.  Afterwards we give a quick post assessment.  The assessment has to be graded that day almost immediately.  With this assessment, we are able to see who grasped the content and who did not.  If only a few students didn't grasp the content, those students will be pulled as a skill group during guided reading the next day.  Sometimes we find that most of the class didn't grasp it. When this happens I reteach it with a lesson that targets the weakness that we saw in the mini assessment.  No matter what, if students didn't get it, a new lesson and materials have to be created that day so that they are ready for the next day.  You may be asking yourself what this has to do with making testing fun. Well-prepared students are less likely to be anxious when they see the content on the test.

On testing morning, we are super sweet with each student.  We make an extra effort to say good morning and see how they are doing. This helps to assess whether they should take the test or not that morning.  If the students are sick or not doing well, we will determine if they should be taking the test at all that day.  We also ask each student if they ate enough at home.  If they haven't they are sent to the cafeteria for breakfast.  Now we know that each student is prepared, not sick and well fed.  What better way than to start a test this way.  Most humans feel very special when someone else takes the time to see how they are doing and make sure their needs are met.

Testing Freebie Signs

With all of the attention to lesson planning and materials, it is impossible for us to make cute testing treats with individual toppers.  So this is when we came up with a testing treat sign to put up at the classroom door.  The students have a great time figuring out what their treat after testing will be and it makes their morning fun.  You can get these signs for free in my store.  Just click on the picture below.
Testing Freebie Signs

After testing, the students, teachers and administrators are exhausted.  They each gave that test everything they have. This is the perfect opportunity to have some fun!!!! We like to craft, paint and sing every opportunity we have.  This week we made Go Noodle Drawings, Bunny Paintings and got a head start on our Mother's Day projects.  You can find a link to the directions for each one by clicking on the pictures.

Free Directed Drawing with Easy Teaching Tools

Free Directed Drawing With Art With Jenny K

Flowers will double for a Mother's Day Present - From Art With Jenny K Mother's Day Pack

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Teacher's Pets - Teaching with Cats and Dogs with Mrs. Labrasciano

I'm so glad that you stopped by for our linky! Today we are going to share my family's pet adoption stories with you along with the lessons that my children have learned.  We promise to be brief! I then want to share some lesson ideas on cats and dogs that my student's went CRAZY for.  They thought it was the coolest.  If you stick it out to the end, we have some great prizes for you to win.

This cute furry face is Hurley.  My girls and I adopted him from a local county shelter while we were dropping off supplies that we had collected for the shelter.  One of the volunteers called us over and told us that Hurley only had 2 hours before he was euthanized. He was so close to expiration that the shelter had deeply discounted him.  Can you imagine? Discounting a living thing. As if the $50 we save would make a difference over his lifetime.  So of course we caved and brought Hurley and all of his quirks home with us.  The best the vet and trainer can tell, Hurley is part Terrier and part Basenji. You may know that Basenji are barkless dogs.  Hurley is a very quiet dog.  He does occasionally alert us when strangers are at the door.  Not always though.  He makes the cutest sounds that are different for a dog, but common to the Basenji.

Hurley was 2 years-ish when we got him. He's now 4 years-ish.  Hurley is fiercely loyal and won't leave my side unless it's to be with this cutie pie.  He's also deathly afraid of water and won't do his duty in our yard.  He has to be walked.  YES it's a pain in the behind.  My girls have learned responsibility, love and compassion from Hurley.  They have learned to love something despite his differences, oddities and sometimes grumpiness.

These girls are Elsie and Luci.  Luci the grey cat was adopted as a stray kitten from my church.  We rescued her from the mobs of children at VBS.  Elsie the orange/white cat was adopted as a stray as well.  When we got Elsie, we were told that she was severely malnourished as a newborn.  We now know that because she was malnourished, she will never grow large and of course she is different like Hurley.  She's very skittish, crazy and  will only let you pet her under her terms.  Both of these cats have chosen my oldest as their keeper.  They sleep only with her.  It's a great feeling when you get to see your child's bond with an animal.

Along with the good comes the bad as well.  Luci recently ate a hair tie.  This caused severe dehydration and a surgery to retrieve the hair tie that had unraveled in her entire system.  The surgery was VERY expensive.  Thanks to the kindness of donors, part of the expenses were covered.  The other part of the bill will take some (a lot of) time to pay off.  Once again, the animals have taught my children a valuable lesson.  Saving and sacrifice to give to something that you love.  This has been a hard one.

Have you read "The First Dog" by Jan Brett? If you haven't, you must go out and get it from your library or bookstore ASAP.  It is a quick read that captivates students.  It is set in paleolithic times.  It has beasts to delight every child.  The book tells a tale about a dog that wouldn't leave a little boy alone.  Through their journey, the dog teaches the boy his value by saving him from a Sabertooth.  Eventually the dog becomes the first pet and receives the first dog tag.  So cute!!!!  The students had a great time finding important details from the text.  They made a dog craft with their writing in it.

Well we shouldn't leave out the felines so I want to share this book, "Comet's Nine Lives" with you.  Another great folk tale by Jan Brett.  This book details what a cat's nine lives may look like.  A brief warning, the cat dies eight times in the story.  Of course it is written in a very child friendly way and the cat lives happily ever after at the end of the book.  I explained to my students that it's a fictional book and the cat is happy as a clam at the end.  So no harm or foul.

Both of the above books are quick reads.  They could each be read in one shared reading lesson.  They are appropriate for K-3.  It would be so much fun to have a Cat and Dog Week in class.  You could add in informational cat and dog books. At the end of the week the students could compare cats and dogs.  How much fun would it be to have them write an opinion piece during writing?  Which makes a better pet - cats or dogs?    If you would like more lesson ideas and materials you can click on the pictures.  These materials are part of my Jan Brett unit on TPT.

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St. Patrick's Day Ideas with Pawsitively Teaching

Are you looking for some great St. Patty's Day ideas? If so, head on over to Positively Teaching to see what she put together for you.  She never disappoints!!!

Color Walk Fundraiser

Hi everyone! I'm here today to tell you about easy fundraising for your school.  When our school district upgraded our operating system we found ourselves with less than one computer per classroom.  Our computers that had been handed down from a local high school were too old to work on the new system.  This is a huge problem! A group of teachers met over the summer to brainstorm different ways to earn money for new computers.  I suggested that we have a color run.  My personal kids had been begging me to sign them up for one.  After researching a dry color formula and a wet color formula on Pinterest, I submitted them to our PTA for the final decision.  The PTA voted on the wet color formula because they thought the color could be controlled more and wouldn't get in the student's eyes.

We chose to use our school colors for the run.  The ingredients were simply:  water, food color and vinegar.  The color was completely washable.  We had no complaints about skin irritants or such.

For 900+ students we bought:
10 boxes of 1 oz food color
1 large jug of vinegar 
10 spray bottles

The cost was under $50.  If you have parents donate the items, it could be free for you!

We put 100 drops of food color in each bottle.  This was approximately half of each food color bottle.  We put a couple of ounces of vinegar in each bottle to bring the color out on the shirts.  No need to measure.  Then we filled the bottles with water.

Permission slips were sent home to allow students to be sprayed.  We tied a ribbon around each child's wrist who had permission.  This way the sprayers knew exactly who was allowed to be sprayed.  The volunteers who were spraying were stationed around the running area.  We explained to the students that they wouldn't be sprayed by each person and they weren't to stop in front of the sprayers.   We didn't want the kids soaking wet.  We also wanted to preserve the spray so that we could keep our budget down.  Each group was given 30 minutes of running time.  We split the school into 3 groups.

Each child was given the task of raising donations for the run.  Most children brought in about $5 a piece.  Of course we had our top fundraisers who brought in more.  The grand total for fundraising was over $6,000.  The best part was that it was easy to set up and when the run was over, we were done.  There were no products to be organized and dispersed.

The parents that spoke to me had a lot of positive feedback.  They loved that they didn't have to buy anything.  They were thrilled that the students were having a great time, building memories and exercising!  If you have any questions about how we ran this, stop on by my blog and email me.