Choose Your Own Adventure Books in the Classroom

CYOA_JourneyUndertheSea_medium Kids love Choose Your Own Adventure books!  (CYOA for short.)  The books are fun for everyone, but they are magic for reluctant readers.  Here are some tips for using the books in your classroom.

Buy Choose Your Own Adventure books for all reading levels.  Classics are appropriate for students in grades 4 and up—provided those students read at grade level.  Remind your students that CYOA books look longer than they are, because you don’t read the whole thing.  Just know that the favorites from the 80s are not super easy.  Were kids better readers back then?

Check out the CYOA Dragonlarks series for younger readers.  These books are good for all students in grades 3 and up.  The print is bigger, there are illustrations—these books just look easier.  Everyone in an elementary class can enjoy these, although the truly struggling readers will need a buddy.

Make Choose Your Own Adventure a celebration!  Have class events to promote these books. Some ideas:

Set aside time for groups of 2-4 students to buddy read the books.  You’ll need space for everyone to read aloud, yet not be disturbed by nearby readers.  Your best behaved students might be able to form a group in the hall, freeing up space inside the classroom.

Use the books as readalouds.  This works well if you only have a few titles.  You can read, then let the class vote on what to do next.  This will hook students on the books, and then they can read on their own.

Create CYOA literature circles.  If you have multiple copies of a book, have students read independently, then meet as a group to discuss.  They can talk about different options, analyze character, and create a fun advertisement for the book to interest their classmates in reading it.

Write your own CYOA stories. this is a good challenge project for Gifted students and other high achievers.  Explain that students will want to map out their plot—that’s the easiest way to create the CYOA structure.  Then, they can write the pages for each section.

Click here to visit the Choose Your Own Adventure site.  You can read about the books, order individual titles or small group sets, and learn more about the renaissance of this fun series.  Click here for CYOA teacher’s guides.

Happy adventuring!  Choose wisely.

Posted in Book Reviews,Fun With Literacy by Corey Green @ Nov 1, 2013


Get Students Writing Now with Paragraph POW! (Part six: values)

LearningGet Students Writing Now with Paragraph POW! (Part six: values)

I invented Paragraph POW! as a way to make writing practice more fun. We practice on special paper—lines in a box, just like on the state writing test. One difference: our paper has an awesome Paragraph POW! logo at the top.

Paragraph POW! became so successful that I developed dozens of writing prompts.  Writing prompts on lined paper are hardly marketable in workbook form, so I’m giving them away for free.

Kids often face writing prompts that require a little soul-searching.  The question asks students to make a value judgment, decide how they’d act in a hypothetical situation, or describe an ideal friend.  Kids love to write these paragraphs, particularly if they get to share their work at the end.  The sharing is especially important for values-based prompts—it encourages quality work and lets students get to know each other on a deeper level.)

Writing to a values-based prompt is not so hard:

Make a decision: don’t waffle.  Commit!  You will not be judged favorably if you change your mind halfway through the paper.  Remember, this paragraph is about your writing, not your value judgments.  (Within reason—really questionable ethics may leave a bad taste in the judges’ mouths.)

Think through your reasoning before you write.  Plan three good reasons for your value judgment, then jot down a detail for each one.  Students who don’t do this often run out of ideas quickly, and their writing reflects this.

Use the traditional structure: topic sentence, reasons, supporting details, conclusion.  Stick with what works.

Here are the Paragraph POW! how-to writing prompts. Click on each link for a printable PDF. I have also given you an all-purpose Paragraph POW! sheet so you and your students can write to your own prompts.


Get Students Writing Now with Paragraph POW! (Part five: how-to or instructions)

I invented Paragraph POW! as a way to make writing practice more fun. We practice on special paper—lines in a box, just like on the state writing test. One difference: our paper has an awesome Paragraph POW! logo at the top.

Paragraph POW! became so successful that I developed dozens of writing prompts.  Writing prompts on lined paper are hardly marketable in workbook form, so I’m giving them away for free.

Kids often face how-to prompts.  Kids are not the best at breaking tasks down to their component parts.  Hence, kids should really practice how to mentally break down a task—and how to write about it.

How-to prompts can easily become culturally biased.  I tried to think of the most basic how-to prompts that I could, but they are still based in a certain culture.  For example, not everyone in the world eats peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  Heck, these days kids think that peanut butter and jelly sandwiches come from the freezer!  But I’ve seen it as a practice prompt, so I included it here.

Some suggestions for writing a how-to:

Pick a topic quickly: This becomes important if the prompt lets students write an instructional paragraph on whatever they wish. Kids will spend forever thinking of just the right thing.  I suggest that they choose quickly, based on what is easiest to write about.   That leaves time for better planning, more vivid details, more interesting syntax, etc.  (You’d hope!)

Break the task into steps—but not too many.  I recommend no more than five.  If possible, stick to a magic three structure.  After all, details can always flesh out the paragraph or essay.  When you’re being judged on your paragraph/essay writing, you don’t want a laundry list of steps.

Use transitions: the basic first, next, last are good—if you know how many steps you’ll need.  Otherwise, you may say “last” and then add one more thing.  To be on the safe side, consider “first, second, third.”  It won’t win any awards, but it’s foolproof.

Remember that it’s still a paragraph: give a topic sentence and a conclusion.  Try to fit in details.  Vary sentence structure as much as you can.  Little things will elevate a simple list to something resembling a paragraph.

Here are the Paragraph POW! how-to writing prompts. Click on each link for a printable PDF. I have also given you an all-purpose Paragraph POW! sheet so you and your students can write to your own prompts.

Have fun!


Get Students Writing Now with Paragraph POW! (Part four: persuasion)

Test TakingI invented Paragraph POW! as a way to make standardized writing practice more fun.  We practice on special paper—lines in a box, just like on the test.  One difference: our paper has an awesome Paragraph POW! logo at the top.

Paragraph POW! became so successful that I developed dozens of writing prompts.  Writing prompts on lined paper are hardly marketable in workbook form, so I’m giving them away for free.

Practice writing persuasive paragraphs helps students with their reading skills as well as their writing skills.  Students often face “author’s purpose” questions on standardized writings tests.   When students write to persuade, they are more likely to recognize when an author is writing to persuade (as opposed to writing to inform or entertain.)

This is Paragraph POW! and not a formal essay, so the organizational requirements are not as stringent as they would be if students were writing to a prescribed formula.  Nevertheless, students should abide by a few basic rules:

State your purpose: this works well in a topic sentence.  That way, everything about the paragraph should support the purpose/

Give a few reasons: as with many things in life, three is a good number.  One or two are not enough, four gets unwieldy.

Support your reasoning: this is where detail sentences come in.  It’s not enough to just give a reason—state why it is important or offer a detail.

Close with a call to action: this is really just a fancy type of conclusion sentence.

Paragraph POW! works best when students know their writing will be published and assessed.  Since I assign it so often, I don’t box myself in by promising to grade each paper, copyediting every single page.  Instead, I choose the papers that best exemplify qualities that I know standardized test graders value.  I put those papers under the document camera and read them aloud, giving many compliments.  Students want to see their work spotlighted and they put in their best effort.

I always insist that students do these things:

  • Write in the box (on standardized  tests, only writing in the box is graded)
  • Give your piece a title (test assessors love titles, apparently)
  • Start with an attention-getter.  This can be part of your topic sentence, or some fluff just before it.
  • Give examples and description.

Here are the Paragraph POW! persuasive writing prompts. Click on each link for a printable PDF. I have also given you an all-purpose Paragraph POW! sheet so you and your students can write to your own prompts.


Your Class Will Love Bruno and Boots books by Gordon Korman

I cannot recommend Bruno and Boots books highly enough!  Prolific author Gordon Korman was a seventh grader when he began writing this sorta-series about two mischievous boys at a Canadian boarding school.  Your students will love these books!!!

Bruno and Boots love to play pranks and cause trouble at their boarding school, Macdonald Hall.  Bruno is the ringleader, a wisecracking con-artist-(or lawyer)-in-the-making who loves to stir the pot.  Boots is his faithful sidekick, a realistic boy who helps Bruno with mischief but also acts as a voice of reason.  The story works because the boys are good at heart.  They love their school and they do the right thing when it counts.  They are never mean to others—they are always in it for fun and looking to recruit new jokers.

The books are great for reluctant readers, boys in particular.  Readers must be reluctant, not remedial, because these books are not simple.  The AR levels range from 4.5 for the first, shortest book to 7.0 for the longer, more complex stories.  Students who can comfortably read at the 5.0 level will be fine with all of these books.  Don’t AR block kids from these books!

Bruno and Boots make good readalouds.  Your students will be in stitches, and you will be exposing them to higher vocabulary, longer sentence structure, and more complex plots that.  Plus, there is an element of rebelliousness to reading these books aloud.  Bruno and Boots operate outside Macdonald Hall law, and it’s pretty cool for a teacher to share these mischief-making secrets with students.  You may find your students attempting Bruno and Boots style shenanigans, but don’t worry.  Real-life kids will probably not achieve the success of Bruno and Boots.

Gordon Korman was in seventh grade when he turned an English assignment into his first book, This Can’t be Happening At Macdonald Hall!  Gordon was the Scholastic Arrow Book Club monitor for his class, and clearly he felt that gave him an “in” to the publishing industry.  After completing the assignment, he mailed his manuscript to Scholastic.  They published the book when Gordon was only 14 years old.

Gordon’s high school years yielded more fun Bruno and Boots books.  He continued to revisit the characters over the years, and readers eagerly devoured new Bruno and Boots books.

Geek out with the Wikipedia page about Bruno and Boots.  You can learn all about the characters, the setting, etc.  Then, learn more about Gordon Korman at Wikipedia or at his website.

Here are the books in order.  You don’t have to read them in order, though.  I didn’t.  As a kid, I read them in the order I found them at my local used bookstore.

This Can’t Be Happening at MacDonald Hall! (AR reading level 4.5, 3 pts)

Go Jump in the Pool! (AR reading level 5.0, 5 pts )

Beware the Fish! (AR reading level 4.8, 5 pts )

The War With Mr. Wizzle (also published as The Wizzle War) (AR reading level 4.6, 7 pts)

The Zucchini Warriors (AR reading level 5.0, 7 pts)

Macdonald Hall Goes Hollywood (also published as Lights, Camera, Disaster!) (AR reading level 4.7, 7 pts)

Something Fishy At Macdonald Hall (also published as The Joke’s on Us) (AR reading level 4.6, 6 pts)


Posted in Book Lists,Fun With Literacy by Corey Green @ Aug 23, 2013


A Smart Girl’s Guide: Advice Books from American Girl

knowingwhattosaySavvy girls will love the Smart Girl’s Guide series from American Girl.  Everything connected to American Girl is top quality, and the Smart Girl’s Guides are no exception.  I highly recommend them for classroom use and feel they would be excellent for the school psychologists and social worker’s lending library.

Titles abound, but the first one I read was A Smart Girl’s Guide to Knowing What to Say: Finding the Words to Fit Any Situation.

The books are really fun, with lots of pictures and whitespace, but ample content.  The books are easy on the eyes and relaxing to read.

…Knowing What to Say really does cover any situation.  Here are the subsections:

Small Talk (I love “25 things to say after ‘hi'”)
Asking for What You Want
Making It Right
That Hurts
Sad Times
I’m Embarrassed
Saying the Right Thing

Illustrations show students the importance of posture, body language, and facial expressions in communication.  That way, girls can make sure their nonverbal signals are on par their newfound conversational prowess.    The book is full of quizzes, simple exercises, and demonstrations.

The American Girl books are excellent, and I encourage my boys to read the fiction series.  However, these Smart Girl’s books are way too girly for boys to read with any dignity during class.  Even reading them at home is risky–the wrong kid finds out, and the boy’s rep takes a dive.

Not to worry: as a teacher, you can read the books, then teach students these tips.  (Just don’t mention your source.)  If you’re like me, you will find the books relaxing and fun to read.  You will be positively itching to share the information with students.

There are many books in the series.  Enjoy Smart Girl’s Guides to…

Liking Herself, Even on the Bad Days
Friendship Troubles
Her Parents’ Divorce: How to Land on Your Feet When Your World Turns Upside Down (American Girl)
The Internet
Knowing What to Say
Starting Middle School
Staying Home Alone
Surviving Tricky, Sticky, Icky Situations
Understanding Her Family

The books retail for $9.95 each*.  A smart teacher will try to get the school library fund to pay for the series, or apply for a grant—from an outside source or from the PTSO.  I really think many schools would be better for owning these books.

*They run a little cheaper at bookstores: most are about $8.95 on Amazon


What it’s like to be an elementary school teacher – Part 12

A National Board Certified Teacher explains what an educator’s life is really like.  The series is a value-added collection of Best ClassAntics Posts EVER!  Each post explains something about a teacher’s life and links to ClassAntics posts with relevant teaching tips.

Part Twelve: We know a million ways to get kids to read

Teachers take great pleasure in turning children into lifelong readers.  We employ a million techniques and tricks to hook kids on reading.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Get the Most out of Accelerated Reader (AR)

Many schools use the Accelerated Reader program, which is basically just a huge test bank of quizzes about individual books.  As you can imagine, AR can be pretty dry if the teacher doesn’t spice it up.

New to accelerated reader?  Get started with  How AR levels are determined and How to Print AR Labels.  Check out my thoughts on the AR Report: What Kids are Reading.  I cut through the media hype and explain the real story on kids’ reading habits.  Parents will find it interesting; children’s book authors will find it invaluable.

Looking to make AR more exciting?  Try the Accelerated Reader Genre Challenge.  Also, Encourage Kids to Take AR Vocabulary Tests.  The tests give students excellent practice and encourage them to pay more attention to new vocabulary words.  The tests are plenty exciting if you give students incentives for taking them.

Need to motivate your students?  Try So You Think You Rock? An Accelerated Reader (AR) Game.  The post explains how you can turn progress monitoring into a fun motivational and teambuilding activity for the whole class.

Special Events

Teachers love to create special events that promote reading.  Sometimes, we latch onto existing events.  One good example is National Poetry Month.  In the following two posts, I share printable worksheets with excellent poems (written by my sister!) and thought-provoking questions.

During National Poetry Month, I like to use some of my favorite resources: serious poems, fun poems, and excellent workbooks that teach students how to analyze poetry.

By the way, April is School Library Month.  It’s a good time to thank the school librarian, spend extra time in the library, and do a little community service with A Quick Way to Help the School Librarian.

Another popular literacy holiday is NEA read across America Day.  This year, you might Try a Dr. Seuss-Themed Reading Buddies Session on Read Across America Day.

Special Techniques

Teachers love to help kids improve reading skills.  One of my favorite things to teach is Speed Reading.  This simple technique helps students at every level, in every grade.  I also love to Read aloud to build vocabulary.  Students can listen at a higher reading level than what they read independently, so your read alouds can introduce them to higher-level vocabulary words than students could read on their own.

It’s also fun to use technology, such as the highly effective computer program Ticket to Read.  Even TV has its place.  If you use the closed captioning, you can do a lesson on Watching TV to build reading skills.


Kindles  (and other e-readers) are a great addition to the classroom.  My series on Kids and Kindles shows their many uses and offers tips on bringing them to your classroom.

Favorite Authors and Books

We love to help kids find their new favorite author.  We also love introducing kids to a variety of authors, genres, and resources.

We even build literacy skills through song.  My “Figurative Language with Taylor Swift” lessons are wildly popular in the classroom.  Kids love to apply their knowledge of literary devices to Taylor’s catchy tunes.  Here is the complete series:

·         Figurative Language with Taylor Swift: You Belong with Me
·         Figurative Language with Taylor Swift: Love Story
·         Figurative Language with Taylor Swift: Hey Stephen
·         Figurative Language with Taylor Swift: Mean
·         Figurative Language with Taylor Swift: Speak Now
·         Figurative Language with Taylor Swift: Our Song
·         The Hunger Games: Analyzing “Safe & Sound” by Taylor Swift


Try a Dr. Seuss-Themed Reading Buddies Session on Read Across America Day

NEA’s Read Across America Day coincides with Dr. Seuss’s birthday.  Your students are either the right age for Dr. Seuss—or way too old.  Either way, pair up with another class for a fun Dr. Seuss-themed event.

“Class reading buddies” is a time honored tradition in elementary school.  Typically, a primary class pairs with an intermediate class.  The older kids read aloud to the younger kids.

The two classes can have a great time with a Dr. Seuss-themed session.  Get as many copies of Seuss’s books as you can.  Try the school library, the public library (put BIG labels on these books and keep track of them), and ask families to send in their well-loved Seuss readers.

Pair the kids up however you wish.  There are many options:

  • Randomly
  • By reading level (pair higher-achieving primary readers with higher-achieving intermediate readers)
  • Let the little kids pick their buddy (empowering and interesting—watch them choose someone who looks a lot like themselves)
  • By interest: who wants to read The Cat in the HatOne Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish?

Then start reading!

It’s nice if you have enough computers so kids can take Accelerated Reader (AR) tests.  I would let intermediate kids take the tests, too—assuming they haven’t already in earlier grades.  They should be rewarded with AR points for reading aloud to little kids.

Consider Cat in the Hat themed art activities.  Keep it simple with coloring pages or making bookmarks.  After all, you’ll have up to 60 kids in the room (or split between two rooms.)  Here are templates:

Seussville Printables for Cat in the Hat

PBS Kids Printables

Happy Read Across America Day!

Posted in Accelerated Reader (AR),Fun With Literacy,Holidays by Corey Green @ Feb 28, 2013


American Girl Teaching Guides

American Girls SeriesThe American Girl series is just wonderful for introducing elementary school students to history. For each era, there is an irrepressible character with many books, games, and often even a movie to hook students on that time period. Students comprehend history lessons more easily if they can relate them to the experiences of an American Girl.

Today, the American Girl Teaching Guides! These are high-quality materials, just like everything from this company. You will find printable worksheets, easy-to-teach lessons, and ideas for connecting the books to character lessons as well as academic content.

Example: the Kit teaching guide focus on the Great Depression, giving, and resourcefulness. Worksheets encourage students to relate to Kit’s experiences with the Depression, make judgment calls about giving, conserve today’s resources by applying the lessons of the Depression, and even create their own messages in hobo code.  The materials are very high quality, and the worksheets would have taken you a while to develop. Good, time-saving stuff!

Here are the teaching guides. Each link opens a file in pdf format.

Addy: Freedom, the Civil War, and Life After Slavery

Caroline: Patriotism, Heroism, and the War of 1812

Chrissa: Bullying and How to Stop It

Felicity: Loyalty, Independence, and the Revolutionary War

Josefina: Spanish Culture and the Settlement of the Southwest

Julie: Equality, the Environment, and Facing Change

Kaya: Native American Life and the Nez Perce Tribe

Kirsten: Pioneer Life, Cultural Differences, and Helping One Another

Kit: The Great Depression, Giving, and Resourcefulness

Lanie: Animal Habitats and Observing Birds and Butterflies

Marie-Grace and Cécile: Diversity, Community, and Point of View

McKenna: Self-Esteem, Goal Setting, and Encouraging Self & Others

Molly: Cooperation, Adaptability, and Resourcefulness

Rebecca: Immigrants, Old Ways and New Ways, and Doing the Right Thing

Samantha: Innovation, Generosity, and Family


Kids and Kindles Part 5: Brand-new Kindles

Amazon has released new Kindles: better technology, better prices. A National Board Certified Teacher offers tips for using Kindle in the classroom.

Of course, everyone is excited about the new Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ 4G, and I’m sure it will be very fun. But there is a lot you can do with a basic Kindle in the classroom. (Or fancier ones, if your budget allows.) Even the cheapest Kindles now support children’s picture books, so Kindles have more uses in primary classrooms.

To celebrate the new Kindles, here are my blog posts about how to use them in the classroom.

Kids and Kindles Part 1: Kindle reads to kids
Help kids build fluency and comprehension skills by letting the Kindle model fluent reading. Many Kindle users say this feature has helped their kids who have learning disabilities.

Kids and Kindles Part 2: Kindle teaches speed reading
Using a Kindle helps kids train their eyes to move faster, and their brain to keep pace, so they can speed read. My blog entry explains how to teach this skill.

Kids and Kindles Part 3: the No-Budget Kindle
Learn how to use the free Kindle e-reader to give your students some of the benefits of Kindle.

Kids and Kindles Part 4: Building a Classroom Kindle Library
Five tips for building a classroom Kindle library on a budget.

Posted in Fun With Literacy,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Sep 21, 2012


Book Review: The Princess School series

The Princess School is a short-lived book series—much like a favorite TV show that gets cancelled too soon*. Authors Jane B. Mason and Sarah Hines imagine that Ella, Snow, Rapunzel and Rose attend Princess School, a finishing school that teaches mirror skills, charms, how to be charming—everything a princess needs to know.

The Princess School characters are relatable and fun. There is something for everyone; think Princess Spice Girls. Rapunzel is Sporty Spice. Ella is relatable-and-spunky Ginger Spice. Snow White is Baby Spice, the girl the others protect. Rose is Posh Spice—if Posh wanted to be a normal girl rather than marry soccer star David Beckham, move to Los Angeles and start her own clothing line.

The Princess School will interest readers in third grade and up, but high-achieving second graders can handle it. The books are more difficult than Magic Tree House and similar in reading level to American Girl books. The Princess School books hover at the 5th grade reading level.

Personally, I don’t think The Princess School books are particularly difficult to read. I think the high AR reading level may have kept students from being allowed to read it for school. I see the same thing happening with Beverly Cleary books—I swear that part of the reason kids don’t read them so much nowadays is the 4-6th grade AR level on most of her books.

Here is the information on The Princess School books. Buy them on Amazon, or, better yet, see if you can convince your school library to buy them for you! Your girls will thank you.

If the Shoe Fits: Reading level 5.2, worth 4 points
Who’s the Fairest: Reading level 5.2, worth 4 points
Let Down Your Hair: Reading level 4.9 , worth 4 points
Beauty Is A Beast: Reading level 5.2, worth 4 points
Princess Charming: Reading level 5.0, worth 3 points
Apple-Y Ever After: Reading level 4.8, worth 3 points
Thorn In Her Side: Reading level 5.2, worth 3 points

The The Princess School series is very different from Princess Academy by Shannon Hale. The Princess School is like a fun and fluffy romantic comedy; Princess Academy is like Serious Film “Oscar bait.” Both are good—but they are very, very different.

*Prime example: Joss Whedon’s Firefly. Check it out if you haven’t already! Maybe we can bring The Princess School back in the manner that Firefly fans got the Serenity movie made.


Posted in Book Lists,Book Reviews,Fun With Literacy by Corey Green @ May 29, 2012


Book Review: Washington City Is Burning

Washington City Is Burning, winner of the 1997 Carl Sandburg Award, is a wonderful story by respected author and multiple award winner Harriette Gillem Robinet. I recommend it for any classroom, but particularly if you study American history.

The focus, of course, is the British invasion of Washington City (now Washington, D.C) in the War of 1812. Tremendous extra value is added by telling the story from the point of view of Virginia, an enslaved girl. Dolley Madison saving the portrait of George Washington figures in the story, but that’s really just the beginning.

The strongest storyline is about slavery in our nation’s capital. To me, it was much more interesting than the actual invasion when the British soldiers burned Washington City (although that is well told, too.)

Did you know there were slave auctions just blocks away from the White House? Wait until you read about the suffering Virginia endured to save her fellow slaves—even before she became a house slave at the White House, the central setting of the book.  (Don’t worry, it’s not too much for your students.) There is an exciting sequence wherein Virginia rescues slaves that are to be sold at auction. Her bravery is stunning and humbling. Could you or I have done what she did?

I hope you read and enjoy Washington City Is Burning. I think it is Newbery Medal quality. I wish it had been around when I was a kid, but I will content myself with sharing this book with today’s children.

Posted in Book Reviews,Fun With Literacy,Social Studies by Corey Green @ May 21, 2012


Class Antics Nominated for “Most Fascinating Blog” Award

Dear readers,

Exciting news! has been nominated for the 2012 Fascination Awards featuring the Internet’s most fascinating blogs in the category of Elementary Teacher Blogs.  It’s an honor just to be nominated.

The Fascinator Awards editorial team chooses the nominees.  ClassAntics caught their attention with FREE Leap Year Worksheets Part 3.  Special thanks to Kumie and Ramona, whose positive comments impressed the editorial team.

Thank you to the ten thousand viewers who visit ClassAntics each month.

Corey Green
P.S. For a ClassAntics Sampler, visit these popular posts.

Classroom Management
All for One and One for All: Whole-Class Incentives
A typical elementary schoolday schedule
A Sample First Day of School Letter Home
Chill Music for the Classroom
Best Practices for Professional Learning Communities (Part 2)
Make your classroom a tattle-free zone

AR Report: What Kids are Reading
Teaching Kids to Write Complete Sentences
Figurative Language with Taylor Swift: You Belong with Me

Resources and Worksheets
Dad’s Worksheets: my favorite math resource for parents and teachers
FREE Equinox Worksheet and More Equinox Teaching Resources
Beat Summer Slide: Where to Buy Workbooks

Civil Rights
Red Tails: The Tuskegee Airmen (Part 1)
Coretta Scott King Book Awards 2012
Teaching the Civil Rights Movement, Part 1
Teaching the Civil Rights Movement, Part 2
Ballad of Birmingham
Ruby Bridges

New Orleans Halloween
Think Inside the Box
How to Ace Standardized Tests

Posted in Fun With Literacy by Corey Green @ May 13, 2012


Amelia Bedelia in the Classroom

Idiom-challenged maid Amelia Bedelia has delighted children since 1963.  Who can resist a maid who doesn’t understand how to draw the drapes or put out the lights?  Amelia Bedelia’s good intentions and delicious desserts carry her through.

Interestingly enough, I have noticed that most children don’t enjoy the humor of Amelia Bedelia unless they are taught how to appreciate it.  Like Amelia Bedelia, children are very literal and they just don’t get the jokes.   I think kids enjoy Amelia Bedelia books best if they hear several of them read aloud.  That way, the students can help each other explain the idioms.  If you are lucky, one or two kids will get each joke, and they can explain them to the class.  Once the students understand Amelia Bedelia books, rereading them makes for good fluency practice.

Amelia Bedelia books are time-honored vehicles for teaching children about idioms.  This is especially helpful to English Language Learners (ELL students).  Idioms are hard to pick up—notice I used an idiom to explain the quandary.

In addition to the classic Amelia Bedelia books, your students will enjoy reading Herman Parish’s books about young Amelia Bedelia and her first experiences at school.  The books are charming and will make your students feel like seasoned vets as they chuckle over how confusing school is to young Amelia.  You can read a sample here at the Harper Collins website.

Tip for standardized test prep: it’s tough to answer a question about explaining the idiom if you don’t know what an idiom is.  Your students will face this problem unless you periodically review the meaning of words like “idiom.”  It’s easy to lose sight of vocabulary basics in fun lessons, so remember to bring the kids back to the definition.

Resources for Amelia Bedelia and Idioms

List of Amelia Bedelia books
Available at

Amelia Bedelia (1963) – Wiki link
Thank You, Amelia Bedelia (1964)
Amelia Bedelia and the Surprise Shower (1966)
Come Back, Amelia Bedelia (1971)
Play Ball, Amelia Bedelia (1972)
Good Work, Amelia Bedelia (1976)
Teach Us, Amelia Bedelia (1977)
Amelia Bedelia Helps Out (1979)
Amelia Bedelia and the Baby (1981)
Amelia Bedelia Goes Camping (1985)
Merry Christmas, Amelia Bedelia (1986)
Amelia Bedelia’s Family Album (1988)
Good Driving, Amelia Bedelia (1995)
Bravo, Amelia Bedelia! (1997)
Amelia Bedelia 4 Mayor (1999)
Calling Doctor Amelia Bedelia (2002)
Amelia Bedelia and the Christmas List (2003)
Amelia Bedelia, Bookworm (2003)
Happy Haunting, Amelia Bedelia (2004)
Amelia Bedelia Goes Back to School (2004)
Be My Valentine, Amelia Bedelia (2004)
Amelia Bedelia, Rocket Scientist? (2005)
Amelia Bedelia’s Masterpiece (2007)
Amelia Bedelia Under Construction (2007)
Amelia Meets Emilie Castro (2007)
Amelia Bedelia and the Cat (2008)
Amelia Bedelia’s First Day of School (2009)
Amelia Bedelia’s First Valentine (2009)
Amelia Bedelia Makes a Friend (2011)


Posted in Book Lists,Fun With Literacy by Corey Green @ May 3, 2012


April is Poetry Month: Kermit the Frog Poem and Worksheet

Original poem, FREE poetry worksheet!

In honor of Poetry Month, here is a FREE poetry reading comprehension worksheet written by a National Board Certified Teacher’s…little sister.  The worksheet and poem are very good!

My sister wrote “Ode to Kermit” to help my students with their poetry reading comprehension.  It is a fun poem in the voice of Miss Piggy, who is quite exuberant in her love for Kermit.  It’s a real problem for him, actually.

I hope you and your students enjoy the imagery in the poem.  You might want to explain to them about moi and vous— and why Miss Piggy says “Kermie” for “Kermit.”  Miss Piggy loves the French language because it is très chic!

 Click here for the worksheet and read on for the poem!

Ode to Kermit (in the voice of Miss Piggy)

Kermit, oh, Kermie,
Your name sends me floating through pools of algae.

Just the sight of you sends my heart into thralls
Like the pitter and patter of two ping-pong balls.

Kermit, with your mouth of red felt
And hemispherical eyes that cause me to melt,

Every time I think of wonderful vous
I wish that I could grow old with you.

My precious Kermit, my affection is no mistake,
Yet you still cause moi’s heart to break.

As you can see, the Green family loves the Muppets!  Here are some of the greatest hits from Class Antics Muppets posts:

Muppets in the Classroom Part One: How to integrate the Muppets into your curriculum
Muppets in the Classroom Part Two: More on how to integrate the Muppets into your curriculum
School Garden: John Denver sings “The Garden Song (Inch by Inch)” with the Muppets
Winnie the Pooh Day (A.A. Milne’s birthday): Kermit’s nephew Robin sings “Halfway Down”

Posted in FREE Worksheets,Fun With Literacy by Corey Green @ Apr 24, 2012