Black Friday in July $3 Clipart LinkUp

Hi everyone.
I'm joining up with the Teacher Clipartists for a $3 BLACK FRIDAY in JULY SALE
this Friday,
July 24th!
I'm really excited about this sale because, like so many of you, I'm crazy about clipart! AND, despite the fact that I create a lot of my own clipart, as a curriculum developer, I also need to buy a lot of clipart. So I'll definitely be there, too!

I'm contributing the following:

Stitched Texture Frames 
Digital Papers Bundle
using the same color palette for each set 
 Ruler Bundle
One set prints true-to-scale for classroom use
The other set is solid OR translucent in a rainbow of colors
for product use
Texture Frame bundle in a variety of textures:
Terry Cloth, Wood Grain, & Crinkle Paper

Check out the list of contributed products below.
You can also go to
and search:
for the same list
Cheers and have fun this Black Friday in July!

Christmas in July Dollar Deals Going on Now

Hi there, friends. Brenda over at Primary Inspired has organized a Christmas in July Dollar Deals Sale! It's going on today, July 19th through Tuesday, July 21st. This sale includes LOTS of great teaching materials, helping teachers stock up on needed items for the school year.

I'm contributing the following materials:
True-to-Scale Printable Classroom Rulers (Color & Black/White included)
Stick Kid Sweeties Clipart
for sprucing up those newsletters and parent communications
Rainbow Ruler Clipart - Solids & Translucents
(The translucents really are slightly transparent like the real thing)
Two-digit Subtraction task cards that
include many scaffolding questions to help undo misconceptions in emerging learners

To see the complete list of contributing partners, please click the promotion image at the top or follow this link:
Primary Inspired Christmas in July Dollar Deals Going on Now

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy your Dollar Deal Holiday in July!

Reading Workshop Unit 5: Series Reading and Cross-Genre Reading Clubs

Click this image to start at the beginning of our book study.

Hi everyone!

This summer I teamed up with some fellow second grade bloggers to review Lucy Calkins’ A Curricular Plan for the Reading Workshop: Grade 2 (2011). We each took one unit. I was assigned the task of reviewing Unit 5: Series Reading and Cross-Genre Reading Clubs. If you’d like to read through our entire book review, click the image at the top to start from the beginning. Click 3rd Grade Pad's button at the bottom to jump to the next unit’s review.

I hope our book review inspires ideas for your literacy teaching!


Unit 5 in Calkins’ A Curricular Plan for the Reading Workshop; Grade 2 talks about the benefits of using series reading and reading clubs in our teaching bag o' tricks. She begins by saying that students benefit from reading series books because of the familiar characters, places, and similar events that occur (p. 82). When students read about familiar characters, and often similar plots, their prediction skills strengthen, and thus their reading comprehension skills. She also says that reading multiple books in a series sets students up for reading longer, multichapter novels which lends to increased reading stamina. She claims that these factors together will provide the support and practice necessary to increase a student’s independent reading level.

Calkins suggests using reading clubs with reading series. She says that in a group of, say, 6 students, two students could read one book from a series, while another student reads a different book, and 3 others read yet another book – all from the same series. She says that students do not need to read the same book at the same time to have a fruitful discussion about the characters, events, and the series as a whole.

One suggestion of hers raises concern for me. She suggests that students use Sticky Notes to jot down questions about the characters and plot as they read, and this is simply too much for some second graders, especially beginning-of-year second graders. I recommend a lot of work leading up to this requirement: like minilessons that model questioning, that model writing questions about books, and that model saving questions for a later time; minilessons that model an answer that’s been found, and minilessons that discuss how the new information changes what was once believed about a book or character. It would be too much to ask some second graders to write down questions about a character or book as they read it without the proper preteaching and modeling. With proper modeling, this is a wonderful requirement to implement! Since Calkins recommends using the first book in a series as a read-aloud to scaffold beginners, it would be prudent to include character trait analysis, questioning, and question recording as minilessons during that time.

Regarding character traits, during this scaffolding read-aloud time, teach students to look for patterns in character traits. For example, Junie B. Jones dislikes Meaning Jim very much. Meanie Jim is not very nice to her. Students should look for character trait patterns to learn who their character is for the most part. Once students feel that they know a character, they should look for inconsistencies that they encounter about that character. This is where the rich comprehension work will be done. Students should avoid making sweeping generalizations about a character because people are not the same all of the time. For example, to say that Meanie Jim is mean to Junie B all the time would be false – he isn’t mean to her all of the time. In fact, on Valentine’s Day, Meanie Jim is strangely nice to Junie B, which is really unexpected! Inconsistencies like these should raise questions in students, who should then persevere in their reading and group discussion, exploring the reasons behind the inconsistencies that they encounter. Why is Meanie Jim being nice to Junie B on Valentine’s Day? This is a discussion I’d love to be apart of!

These recommendations summarize the main points of Unit 5. In this unit, Calkins suggests a genre-oriented approach to book clubs as well, to help readers find patterns and inconsistencies among books of the same genre. She covers this point very briefly, however, and focuses most of her points on the benefits and justification of series reading with book clubs.

I hope this glimpse into Unit 5 of Lucy Calkins’ A Curricular Plan for the Reading Workshop; Grade 2 has left you thinking about your literacy block. Do you emphasize series reading? Book clubs? What are some shining Aha! moments that you’ve witnessed once students became questioners of inconsistencies?

Please click the link below to read the review of Unit 6 by Debbie Watson from 3rd Grade Pad! Coming to you on Friday, July 10th.


Favorite Design Tips 'n Tricks: The Drop Shadow

Hi everyone!
I wanted to share one of my favorite design tools:


I add a drop shadow to images on my coverpages because they POP so much more than flat, two-dimensional designs. 

Let's take a look at the difference between these two store ads that I recently created.

With drop shadow added to individual images

Without drop shadow added to individual images:
(except for the blue-green frame which contains a drop shadow in the image itself)

Both ads contain attractive elements in their color, text grouping, image spacing, and white space, but the top image gives more of a workshop look, with images placed on top of the background crinkle paper. The images look like they've been shuffled around by hand. And that workshop, "by hand," look is what I want viewers to feel when they see my work and store brand. This is because I create a lot of unique texture frames and backgrounds that lend to this by-hand, cut 'n paste look.

I LOVE the three dimensional, cut 'n paste look that I achieve from using drop shadow with my images.

Now it's your turn to play with drop shadow on one of my stitched, texture frames!

Click the frame image below to swing by my Teachers Pay Teachers store and 
download the FREEBIE Stitched Texture Frame:
(Comments and feedback are appreciated!)

How to add your own drop shadow:

For layman graphic artists, Microsoft PowerPoint is a great way to create .png images (if it's free and accessible to you). So, I'm going to take you through the simple steps of adding a drop shadow to the frame above.

1. Insert the image into a PowerPoint slide. This can be done by clicking on a PowerPoint slide, and then on the Insert tab, choosing Picture. You'll need to search your computer for the texture frame above, which, if you haven't moved it yet, probably resides in your downloads folder. The file name is: SproutingInSecond_stitched burlap_drop shadow sample.png.

2. Once the image is inserted, the fun begins! Click the image to select it. This way, the correct options will be available in the tabs above. Once selected, choose the Format tab. There is a dropdown menu called Picture Effects. This is where the fun effects reside. 

3. Choose Shadow, which opens another dropdown menu of choices. I prefer the drop shadow located in the 2nd row, far right. The shadow drops to the bottom left of the image. -But his doesn't add ENOUGH of a pop, though, so I keep playing.

4. Back on the Picture Effects tab, choose Shadow again. This time, though, choose the bottom option - Shadow Options. Choosing this will open a dialog box of options to play with. I like to change Size from 100% to 101% because I like an exaggerated shadow and this increases the shadow's size just enough.

And there it is. A simple way to add a 3D, cut 'n paste, pop to your graphic images. Of course, it is often necessary to adjust the shadow's angle, distance, blur, and transparency (also in the Shadow Options dialog box) - especially if you are working with an image that already contains its own drop shadow that you're not crazy about.

What are some other Picture Effects outcomes that you have discovered through this tutorial?
What are some of your tried-and-true picture effect go-to's?