Chalkboard Quotes

It’s good to be surrounded by words that inspire, encourage, and motivate.  These are a few of my favorite quotes.

Colored cover page snipCheck out the two free downloads, below.  Just click the link after each one.

Print this one out for your own classroom. Or, frame it as a gift for a friend’s desk or the wall of a home office.

Blog marked Object of teaching posterDownload your own copy here!

This one posted in the Teachers’ Lounge will help my colleagues remember the value of their contribution, even during challenging times.

Blog snipped low memory Teaching is not a lost artDownload your own copy here!

Here are three more of my favorite quotes.  The set of all five is available through my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

Blog marked Seek opportunitiesClcik here to see this product at my TpT store!

Blog To know snip less memoryClcik here to see this product at my TpT store!

Blog marked Im more interested posterClcik here to see this product at my TpT store!

Do you have a favorite quote?  Please share it below.  Who knows, maybe it’ll end up as a freebie on a future blog post!

The Power of Prepositions!

Prepositions are underrated.  Even adverbs, one of the most enigmatic parts of speech, gets more attention than prepositions.

What difference does it make?

Consider this.  Emerging writers often fail to use complete sentences.  Students who can identify prepositions and prepositional phrases are better able to identify the subject and verb of a sentence.  Once this skill is mastered, students’ writing is clearer and more complete.

To understand how to find subjects, students first need to learn about nouns and pronouns.  Once students have a handle on nouns and pronouns, teachers might want to consider moving on to prepositions.  Here’s why.  Many sentences have prepositional phrases.  The nouns and pronouns that end these propositional phrases are called objects of the preposition.  Students often incorrectly mistake the nouns and pronouns in these prepositional phrases as the subject of the sentence.

I love prepositions

Phrases like these can seem like sentences.  Along the slippery trail.  Stuck between two pages.  When the bus arrived.

Even when students seem to have mastered the ability to identify subjects and verbs, sentences with several nouns or pronouns can be confusing.  Check out this sentence:

Down the hill, past the grove of orange trees, Linda turned onto the shady, dirt road by the new school.

Students who have learned to identify prepositions and objects of the preposition are able to eliminate all the prepositional phrases in sentences, even one this long.  Let’s try it.  If we eliminate all the prepositional phrases– down the hill, past the grove, of orange trees, onto the shady, dirt road, and by the new school– that only leaves two words:  Linda and turned.

Down the hill, past the grove of orange trees, Linda turned onto the shady, dirt road by the new school.

Given two words to choose from, most students will be able to identify the noun (Linda) as the subject, and the remaining word (turned) as the verb.

Eliminating large chunks of wording from sentences makes it much easier for students to pick the correct noun or nouns that are acting as the subject, as well as the verb or verbs that make up the complete verb phrase.


After searching for materials that use this approach to teaching grammar and writing,  I discovered there was little to be had.  Below are the resources I’ve discovered, as well as those I’ve created for my own use.

There are many free worksheets at Super Teacher Worksheets.  However, it’s important to review all handouts carefully to avoid sentences that include infinitives such as to be, to go, or to see, that might confuse students just beginning to learn this skill.

There are several free preposition videos available through WatchKnowLearn.   Since most are geared toward a wide age range, you may need to check out two or three before finding one best suited to a specific grade.  Here’s a link to a short preposition SMART Board lesson on SMART Exchange.  And, this link at CafeTechno has some definitions and examples that might help clarify lesson content.

Here’s an 88-slide PowerPoint that introduces prepositions and prepositional phrases, as well as showing how to eliminate them to identify the subject and verb of a sentence.  For a limited time, purchase this product and receive a FREE copy of the companion product, Identifying Subjects & Verbs; Easy Mastery Using Prepositions & Prep. Phrases .

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This engaging PowerPoint is designed to teach students to easily identify the subject and verb of a sentence. The entertaining lesson contains animations, cartoon characters, and humorous dialogue. Students learn about a “trick” for identifying subjects and verbs. The key to the “trick” is learning how to eliminate prepositional phrases from the sentence. Any student with a basic understanding of nouns and verbs will enjoy success with this approach.

Check it out!

This resource contains 43 reproducible pages (plus answer keys) designed to teach students to easily identify the subject and verb of any sentence.  Using these materials students will learn to: identify up to 48 common prepositions, locate and cross out all prepositional phrases in a sentence, and scan the remaining words to identify the subject and verb.

Identifying Subjects & Verbs~ These handouts, printables, and assessments help students eliminate prepositional phrases to easily identify the subject and verb. Includes preposition handouts, step-by-step introduction, practice worksheets, and quick, easy-to-grade assessments.

Identifying Subjects & Verbs~ These handouts, printables, and assessments help students eliminate prepositional phrases to easily identify the subject and verb. Includes preposition handouts, step-by-step introduction, practice worksheets, and quick, easy-to-grade assessments.

Check it out!

If you know of any other free or low-cost resources that use prepositions and prepositional phrases to identify subjects and verbs of sentences, please leave a comment and share!

FREE Social Studies and Language Arts Printables

I’m always amazed at how much free stuff there is on-line… if you just have time to look.  Ah-h, there’s the rub.  Who has time?  Here are a few resources that are ready for immediate use.

FREE Emancipation Proclamation Commemorative Coloring Book with text provides an overview of the history of the Emancipation Proclamation.  The coloring pages feature Abraham Lincoln and notable African Americans, including Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, and Barack Obama.  One of many free  government resources at Federal Resources for Educational Excellence.  Click here to see this coloring book.

FREE Word Box Worksheet Generator available at SchoolExpresss.  You can also make spelling, word search, and alphabetizing worksheets for your kids!  Click here to make a page like the one below.

Click here to check out this FREE list of transition words.  This is a great writing tool to share this students.  You’ll find a wealth of similar, print-and-go resources at Busy Teacher’s Cafe.

Transition Words PrintableClick here to check out this FREE KWL Chart with an engaging visual with lines for writing.  The easy-to-understand design brings home the point behind this common exercise.  Your students will love this lesson by Teachers Pay Teachers seller, Rebekah Benson.

KLW chart with brainClick here to check out this FREE Custom Writing Paper.  Design your own with images like Sponge Bob, Curious George, and Thomas the Tank.  Select other themes, too, such as animals, seasons, and holidays.  All writing paper can be printed in color or B/W, and with or without lines. Fun way to create writing paper for all occasions. also has links for creating awards, bookmarks, and greeting cards!

FREE Shel Silverstein Poetry Workshop Kit

Since 1996 April has been celebrated as National Poetry Month.  With this FREE Shel Silverstein Poetry Workshop Kit your students can celebrate any time of the year.  Shel Silverstein’s classic poetry books such as Where the Sidewalk Ends, have long been loved by both children and adults.

This 10-page download contains reproducible writing activity sheets.  Each page introduces a different type of poetry including rhyming, epigram, visual, concrete, list, and rebus.  Not sure what each of this is?  No problem.  You’ll learn right along with your students, and you’ll both enjoy the charming Shel Silverstein illustrations.  Click here to check out this great free resource!ShelSilversteinPoetryUnit

Shortcut for Creating a List of Your Pinterest Boards

Are you an avid Pinterest pinner?  If so, there may come a time you want a complete list of all your boards.  After typing out my list by hand, I accidentally discovered a terrific short cut.

1.  Click on any of your pins as though you are about to repin it.

2.  Click on the pull down menu that generates a list of your boards.

3.  Place the curser near the list, a little to the left of the actual words.

4.  Left click your mouse and hold it down as you move the mouse down the list of board names.  The selected words will be highlighted in blue.  Let go of your mouse, hit Control+C.

5.  Open a word processing program.  I use Word.  Place your cursor on a blank page and hit Control +V.

Voila!  You should be able to see the items on your Pinterest list of boards that you just highlighted.

Pinterest Board Copy PictureClick here to check out the board pictured above.

10 Tips for Finding Free Resources

Do you need to introduce or reinforce a skill?  Are you teaching American History for the first time?  Are your classroom materials outdated or incomplete?  Do your lessons just need a little pizzazz?   There’s a goldmine of ideas out there, once you learn a few tricks.jpg_internet031

1.  We all have “go to” resources.  I like Teachers Pay Teachers and Super Teacher Worksheets.  I often find free or low-cost materials that can be immediately printed out and put to use.  Start with your own tried-and-true resources.

2.  Successfully searching the Internet is part luck and part finesse.  Select your favorite search engine– I like Google— and type in key words.  Be specific.  Instead of typing American History, try War of 1812 worksheet fourth grade free.

3.  Before clicking on any links the search turns up, check the web address.  For example, if Amazon is in the address it’s probably a product for sale.  If it ends in .com you may be required to log in to the site before accessing the material.  And, if it’s part of a larger site there may be a lot of pop-up ads.  You can’t avoid these entirely, but you can save time by carefully choosing which links to explore.

4.  Narrow your search.  Use additional key words or use the search tools at the top of the screen.  You’ll be amazed what a search for War of 1812 PowerPoint will unearth.  Or, try War of 1812 word search or War of 1812 webquest.

5.  Don’t reinvent the wheel.  Check the favorites tab on your computer.  At some time in the past you probably found a great resource and bookmarked it.  You didn’t have time to explore it then, but you knew it might be helpful in the future.  The future is now!

Pinterest Image

6.  Check out Pinterest.  If you don’t have an account, it’s easy to get started.  This rapidly-growing resource provides quick access to most any topic you can imagine.  Searching War of 1812 lesson I found “pins” with pictures and short descriptions of each resource.  Each “pin” links to the resource described as well as the “board” it came from.  Sometimes the source board turns up additional time-saving links.  Follow “boards” that specialize in areas of interest to access all current and future “pins.”

7.  Don’t overlook blogs.  We’re all pressed for time.  When you find a blog that reflects your interests and needs, sign up to receive notification of new posts.  It’s a lot easier to unsubscribe later than it is to try to find the blog when you go searching the next time.

8.  Organize your favorites.  Take a few minutes to do it on your computer or, once you have a Pinterest account create boards to store your links.  You can get to Pinterest with any device that has online access.  For example, I have a board for graphics, TpT, and free teaching resources.  I also have a few private boards for links to resources I haven’t yet explored.  Honestly, I’m not getting any kickback from Pinterest, I just think it’s a great tool.  It helps me organize and access all kinds of information.

9.  Open your school closet.  Look on the shelves near your desk.  There’s a lot more in those teacher manuals and supplemental books provided by the publisher than you remember.  Crack one open and look for extension activities and online resources.  For example, Harcourt Trophies has online lessons that students can use in school and at home.

10.  Finally, don’t overlook the teacher next door.  Sometimes the easiest solution is the most obvious.  Ask your “neighbor” if he or she has any good ideas.  Send out an “all call” email to the other grade-level teachers in your district requesting ideas that have worked for them.  Reach out beyond the four walls of your classroom to the greater educational community.  Collaboration is the most valuable resource of all.

Click here to check out Super Teacher Worksheets, a FREE resource I use all the time.

SuperTeacherWorksheets-homepage-header                    Teachers Pay Teachers has over 80,000 FREE resources.                      Here’s the link to my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

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Wondering how to make your own educational “movies?”

(Updated May 5, 2013)

Since writing the original post below, I’ve discovered two other video-making options.  The first, Tellagami (rhymes with origami), is a quick, easy way to create and share any short story or lesson.  My students typed in their book reports and an animated character of their choice made the presentations.  Each Gami takes about five minutes to make. The downside– the program can only be accessed using an iPhone or iPad, and the presentation length is limited by the number of characters allowed.  Engaging and super cool!

Gami PicClick here to check it out!

The second video-making software I found, Animoto, creates short videos set to music.  It has lots of free designs, it’s easy-to-use, and it’s fun. This program is available online and uses text and pictures to create a short album or message.  The one I made to promote my favorite grammar shortcut, took me about 15 minutes to make.

Powerful Prepositions!

Powerful Prepositions!

Click here to check it out!

Check out this sample introduction I created for one of my TpT products “Identifying Subjects and Verbs Using Prepositional Phrases.”  This cool, interactive “movie making” website is easy to use.  After signing in for a free account I created the following “movie”  in about 12 minutes.

I thought it might be a good way to introduce teachers and students to using prepositions and prepositional phrases for identifying subjects and verbs.  The site is intuitive and it also has quick tutorials.  However, as I used it for the first time I noticed that each movie “cost” points.  If you try it and love it, a teacher’s subscription is available for about $10 a month.

Xtranormal Snip

Click here to check out the video!

Click here to read more about using prepositional phrases to identify subjects and verbs.

Click here to check out the product below.

Jungle Busy Frame new cover snipped