Are You Teaching all About Animal Habitats?

23 FREE Habitat Task Cards

Free Animal Habitat Unit 

I've been working on a few worksheets to support animal habitat and animal classification. I can't think of anything more motivating for children to learn about than animals. Just think of how easily you can embed higher level thinking questions and integrate the animal habitat unit with language.

For Instance:
  • What would the animal say if you changed its habitat? Why?
  • What animal would you like to be and why? Justify your answer.
  • If an animal could talk to you, which one would you want to hear from and why?
  • Discuss why some animals could never be pets, justify your answers.
  • How many different ways could you classify animals?
  • What animal is most important to you and why?
  • Think about your own pets, could they live in different regions? (polar, rainforest...) why or why not?
A Shoebox Habitat Created by a Student
Animal units provide great opportunities to give children hands on opportunities. Think of how well a puppet show would work, the puppets would talk about their habitat, their enemies, the food they eat and much more. Students could work in pairs and dress up as animals and present their findings as the animal or habitat they studied.

I also like it when students build their biome or habitat in shoeboxes and of  course you can always commpromise if you don't have a shoebox.

See the animal habitat and animal classification worksheets.

Although I provide worksheets, I want you to know that it's critically important to use as many hands on strategies as is possible too.

Have a great week educators and if you are in need of a specific worksheet, let me know as I'm always adding them to

How to be An Organized Teacher

Free Organization Tips for Teachers

Being organized is everything and even more so for competent educators. If you have a process in place that all students know the routines for, you will have a well run classroom. Look at the list below, determine what your routines are and ask yourself if the students know them well. If not, it's time to develop and practice those routines until they are fully implemented.

  • Students know what to do at every bell
  •  Students know how to enter the classroom, where to put their belongings and what to do upon arriving
  • Students know your expectations for transitions
  • Students know what to do with all of their belongings
  • Students know how to seek your attention and when it's appropriate or not
  • Students know how to get required supplies and they know where everything goes
  • Students know what your expectations are for all work
  • Students know the procedures for sharpening pencils and washroom breaks
  • Students know the procedures for turning in work
  • Students know what to do when they're work is done and when their work is done early
  • Students know how to obtain missed work when they have been absent
  • Students know what to do for a drills (fire, incidents, emergencies etc.)
  •  Students know routines for working in groups, whole class and alone

  • Free Teacher TIPS Here

  • Students are aware of consequences for breaking rules
If you have a procedure in place for each of the above, you are an organized teacher!  For additional supports, check out the strategies here.

What is Literacy?

What Is Literacy?

Literacy has become the buzz word in education. Previously, literacy would be defined as being able to read and write. However, in teaching, it refers to how well one students read and write. Literacy includes being able to read, write, listen, speak and to think critically and to respond critally to text and dialogue. Literacy is a  complex set of skills crucial for everyone. To K-6 teachers it means improving literacy outcomes for our students. Teaching literacy is important for teachers given that approximately 40% of American school children, read "below grade level". The students we are educating today are tomorrow's future, we need to do everything we can to make sure that our students become competent in literacy.

What is the teacher's role in literacy?

There is no question that improving literacy outcomes for K-6 students involves hard work. To help our students read more and think more deeply about what they are reading, we must add new skills and evidenced based strategies to our teaching repertoire. We need to use strategies that support student engagement and motivation.

See Critical Thinking Unit FREE
The following are key components for K-6 teachers to improve student literacy (you should be able to answer positively to each of the nuggets below:
  • motivating and engaging all Students
  • using large uninterrupted blocks of time (100 minutes daily)
  • parental involvement
  • rich resources and reading materials
  • early intervention for at risk readers
  • balanced literacy program (Shared, Guided, Modeled, Independent, Phonics, Word Knowledge)
  • specific instruction before, during, and after reading
  • effective questioning
  • ongoing observation and assessment
When teachers work with colleagues, consultants and professionals it will strengthen their understanding of literacy and extend their repertoire of instructional and assessment strategies. Participating in ongoing professional learning and taking additional qualifications in reading, writing and critical literacy will also help to refine and strengthen strategies to support literacy. To teach literacy effectively, teachers need a strong conceptual understanding of the reading and writing process, and about how young learners learn as well as being able to create opportunities for students to achieve and want to achieve in literacy. Teachers have a pivotal role and can and do make a difference in improving literacy outcomes for young learners.

See also: how to use literature circles, use guided reading, what to do when students finish early.

Do you have a literacy tip or worksheet to share? Let me know and I'm always happy to share freely strategies that work to fellow educators.


FREE Biome Unit

I have been asked for information, worksheets and teaching ideas for the biomes of the world. However, in researching biomes, I have discovered that Scientists don't always agree on how many biomes there are and how they should be classified. Not that I was surprised because as educators and life long learners, we are always asking why and what about........ I decided to focus on 6 major biomes that are referred to in the curriculum standards or courses of study for most educational jurisdictions.

The 6 Biomes I have focused on are:  the desert , the deciduous forest, the taiga, the grasslands, the desert, the tropical rainforest.

Like the scientists, I ask, why we haven't established an 'Urban Biome'? After all, urbanization changes much of the animals and plants found and force the typical adaptations to change. However, this aspect will have us delving into higher level thinking and I'd love to see a student perspective on the matter, once they've studied the 6 biomes. If you have a favorite instructional tool for helping students learn about the biomes, please share.  In the series of biome worksheets, you'll find some great maps for students to color and to locate the 6 biomes on. They are copy righted but you are welcome to reproduce for classroom use.  
Enjoy and share with a teaching friend!  

6 Biomes

Figures of Speech FREE UNIT

Teaching Ideas and Freebies for Figurative Language

Students with Asperger's are very literal in language, for instance if you say to them, good luck on your test. They will be fine. But beyond the actual meanings of words, then the student struggles to understand. Hence, instead, if you say: 'Go break a leg', they won't understand, after all...….. why you would want them to break a leg???!!!

What do you do? You help them to understand figurative language. In fact, distinguishing between literal and figurative language is usually in the standards or curriculum for most educational jurisdictions.

So the next time you say, I'm as dry as a bone, or you are my sunshine, or I'm as happy as a clam, take the time to see if your child/student is actually understanding the phrase.

And of course, you can always use the free figurative language or figures of speech worksheets here.

Have a question? Have a request for worksheets? Let me know, we might just have what you're looking for.

SAMPLES from the Free Figurative Teaching Unit:

Paragraph Writing Lesson

How to Write a Paragraph

Students first learn letters, then words, then sentences and then paragraphs. How far they've come when you show students where they've started.

Developing paragraph writing skills takes time and it often takes explicit instruction. Students need practice to write a strong introductory sentence and they back it up with related supporting sentences (at least three) and then they need to wrap it up with a concluding sentence that re-states the introduction sentence.

Students need to look at examples and they need time to develop their paragraph writing skills with many prompts. For instance, ask them to write down what they know about a storm they saw or a fall they had or something that happened to them.

Free Paragraph Writing Unit
Once an idea is selected, it's time to work in groups, pairs or as individuals to write a paragraph.  Let's try a storm.

Younger students will come up with something like this:

Last night there was a storm. Storms scare me. Storms cause loud thunder and lightning. I don't really like storms. I'm glad last night's storm didn't last long.

It is a paragraph, it has an introduction, supporting sentences and a concluding sentence all tied to one thought.

However, as students work with their peers, they'll come up with ways of improving their paragraphs if they get appropriate feedback. I may say, can you think of a way to expand the introductory sentence to give me a better idea about the type of storm.  I'm hoping the student will then add something like:

Last night there was an extremely loud and dreadful storm. The thunderous cracks and bolts of lightning had me sitting on the edge of my bed in fear. Etc.

Children need lots of practice writing paragraphs. To help out, try the worksheets "How To Write a Paragraph or the paragraph writing graphic organizers.

End of School Year Worksheets

FREE End of School Unit!

Free End of School Unit
With the end of the school year fast approaching, these end of year worksheets will help motivate students until the last day. There are so many great things to keep students writing until the very last day, all it takes is a bit of creativity.

Free End of School Unit

For instance, try the report card for the teacher. Students know that their teacher is writing their report card so why not give students a blank report card to write about how well their teacher did this year?

Other great end of year worksheets include:

If you like these worksheets, feel free to share with a friend, if you have suggestions for additional worksheets, please leave your comments for suggestions and they will be created.

Hang in there teachers and educators, the holidays are almost here.
Yours in educating others, 

Providing Feedback To Students

Feedback is More Important Than Marks in Teaching

Worthwhile feedback is essential for improved achievement. However, it's much harder than it sounds. As educators, all too often we say, good for you, well done, add some more detail, I liked the way you, explain what you were thinking here..........  You get my point.

Instead of this, ask yourself, what will push the student forward to improve in a specific area?  Look at the student work and ask yourself some of these questions:

1. What is missing?

2. What one thing would improve this work?

3. Is there something incomplete?

4. Do you note any carelessness?

5. What is disappointing about it?

When you ask these questions, your answers will give you some areas to provide feedback on. Let's try an example.

A kindergarten child provides you with a picture of a boat.

You say to the child, how does your boat move? How does your boat stop? I don't think I would want to have a ride on your boat until I know what makes it go and what makes it stop.

The child then takes this 'feedback' to add perhaps a motor or sails and an anchor. You have made the child 'think' or stretch his/her 'thinking'.

Let's say a child brings you a story. Each name in the story is missing a capital letter. Your feedback is, when do we use capital letters? Can you look over your work now and see if you can improve it?

I like to use the up, down, up approach. Find something good, find something that needs improvement, say something positive.

This is a very quick glympse about providing effective feedback. As time moves on, you'll want to track the feedback you have provided the learner with to ensure they are responding to the feedback.

Spring is in the Air and with it Some New Spring Worksheets

Signs of Spring Unit

There are so many exciting things you can do with your students in spring. Spring is a wonderful time of year and with it comes a re-birth and a surge of energy. Is that what they call spring fever?  If you never hatched chicks with your class, this is a great time to do so. Check with a local farmer, they'll often let you borrow or rent the incubator and it's pretty straight forward. The kindergarten students are amazed at what happens. Spring is a time to plant seeds and measure growth and it's also fun to go on a spring walk to hear, see and feel the signs of spring.

For those need something quick times, here are some spring worksheets for young learners.

Educators learn from educators, if you have a great idea or are in need of a worksheet you can't find, please let me know.

Helping children learn is my passion and sharing with you is up there too. Happy teaching!

Using Input Output Tables

Free Pre Algebra Unit

Free Worksheets for Basic Function Tables

Input output function tables can be very useful with early learners for the basic multiplication, division, subtraction and addition facts. Students need to look at the pattern, determine what the rules is (divide by 3, add 6, multiply by 2....) then they complete the answers and state the rules. These input ouput tables differ from basic operation worksheets because they require the child to look at the answers and determine the pattern before completing the tables. They are then required to state the rule.

Math is all about making connections, worksheets like this require the student to think critically, analyze what is happening, determine the answer and state the rule.  Best of all, these worksheets are all free.

If you like these worksheets, please share with a friend or colleague.

What worksheet needs do you have? Submit your requests and within no time, our teachers will create them. Best of all, they are always free. Have a great week in education.

It's or Its?

Free It or It's Worksheets and Unit

FREE Unit on It or It's

Do you know how to use it or it's? Here is an overview along with some great printables for your students.

Using its or it's correctly is one of those common mistakes I see everywhere. There is a relatively simple rule of thumb for understanding when to use it's and when to use its.

Everytime you see it's, ask yourself if it can be replaced with it is or it has. If it can, you will always use it's. The version of it's with an apostrophe is really a short form (contraction) for it is or it has.

Example sentences for it's:

1. It's raining outside.  (It is raining outside.)
2. This cough is really bothering me, it's been hanging on for weeks. (it has been hanging on....)
3. If it's alright with you, I think I'll just stay home. (If it is alright...)
4. I think it's going to be a sunny day. (I think it is going to be a .....)

Example sentences for its without the apostrophe:

1.  The dog is wagging its tail. (You can't say the dog is waggin it is tail.)
2.  Joe's Pizza is known for its great sauce! (You can't say known for it is great sauce)
3.  The team was on time but its captain wasn't. (You can't say but it is captain wasn't.

When using its without the apostrophe, you'll notice that there is a sense of belonging and that the its can't be replaced easily with it is or it has.

If you can remember this, you'll never have another problem understanding the difference between it's or its.

Are you ready for a few it's or its worksheets? You'll find 15 exercises on each page with the answers on the second page.

Learning to Print Numbers

Free Printing Numbers Unit

Free Number Word Printing Unit

When introducing young learners to printing numbers, be sure to associate the printed word and the symbol with the acutal amount it represents. Knowing how to print the words and numbers is only helpful when the child undertands the amount it represents.When teaching the printing of numbers, it's helpful to always start at the top of each number for ease and for consistency.

This week I have posted some number worksheets. You'll find coloring worksheets for the numbers one to ten, a great number booklet along with pale tracers for beginner learners.

If you don't find the worksheets you're looking for, let me know and we'll be sure to create them for you.
Have a great week and stay tuned, more worksheets are being created weekly.

Yours in education, Dar

Teacher's Role In Literacy

What is the Teacher's Role in Literacy?

There is no question that improving literacy outcomes for K-6 students involves hard work. To help students read more and think more deeply about what they are reading, teachers must add new skills and evidenced based strategies to their teaching repertoire. Teachers need to use strategies that support student engagement and motivation.  Teachers need to model reading, writing and speaking in authentic ways. Teachers will plan strategies that build on student’s existing knowledge and extend their learning to become independent readers and critical thinkers.

The following are key components for K-6 teachers to improve student literacy

-motivating and engaging all students (thinking critically)
-using large uninterrupted blocks of time (100 minutes daily)
-parental involvement
-rich resources and reading materials
-early intervention for at risk readers
-balanced literacy program (Shared, Guided, Modeled, Independent, Phonics, Word Knowledge)
-effective questioning
-ongoing observation and assessment
For each activity you do, ask yourself "What are my students learning?"
If there is a lot of cut and paste or copying, I might add that the learning is then reduced.  Think critically about the learning that is actually taking place with each activity your students are doing.