Author Archives: Kathleen


10 Reasons to Use Alphabet Book in Your Upper Grade Classroom


Many people think that alphabet books are primarily for teaching sound-symbol relationships to emergent readers. However, their use goes way beyond that. I’m not talking about reading them, although that is a good idea, I’m talking about the motivating and engaging activity of writing them. My hope is that after perusing these 10 reasons you will decide that alphabet books are great instructional tools that offer many benefits and want to create one with your class. My students always loved them. In fact, for many years, I taught a graduate-level content area reading course at a local college. The graduate students chose to create them as one of the culminating activities of the unit they were required to write for the course. Writing either one class book or individual books will help your students to better understand the more difficult topics in your unit.

Reason #1

Alphabet books can be written on various levels of complexity making them appropriate for content area subjects in the upper elementary grades on up. It is expected that more sophisticated students will have more sophisticated responses.

Reason #2

Your students’ vocabulary will increase. Vocabulary words are listed on an alphabet chart and discussed as material is read. Students need to have an understanding of the vocabulary in order to write a cogent paragraph demonstrating knowledge of the vocabulary word.

Reason #3

Students learn how to do further research, when needed, to get details necessary to describe the topic. Students re-inspect material read to cite exact details.


Reason #4

Writing a paragraph provides the student with opportunities for language development. Written expression is enhanced when the student must describe what he has learned.

Reason #5

When organizing their books students begin to understanding the importance of text structure or the format of how a book is organized. Students need to know that different materials are organized in different ways. Understanding how text is organized gives the reader clues as to what is coming next and helps students to develop anticipatory responses. Before beginning to write an alphabet book, the teacher needs to collect a few and review their text structure with the class. How are the books different? What do they have in common? When creating an alphabet book, students become aware of the importance of text structure. Each page in their book will include

A letter of the alphabet

An illustration



Reason #6

Concepts of the content area subject are reinforced as students use vocabulary words in context to write a passage for each letter of the alphabet. The task requires students to understand and be able to apply content area material. Completed books are great non-fiction, informational books that can be used to review academic material.

Reason #7

Students have an opportunity to show off what they have learned. Each book is a source of pride to be shared with the class, guests of the class (the teacher next door or the principal) and parents.

Reason #8 

Students learn to understand the difference between reading for enjoyment and reading for information. Students need to know how to use the information they have read. Writing vocabulary words in context helps them to demonstrate this.

Reason #9

Constructing alphabet books in the classroom is an activity that offers differentiated instruction. Poor readers and reluctant readers feel encouraged to participate. They can work at their own pace to choose the words they understand. Working with a buddy will help them to complete the task of describing a difficult concept. The best part is that is the teacher’s choice to set the requirements. Some students may only add a sentence while more able-learners will be required to add a paragraph with a minimum number of sentences.

Reason # 10

Creating an alphabet book is fun and educational! Students should have fun constructing their books and work with a buddy or a small group. Students can draw illustrations or find them in magazines or the internet. Sharing illustrations will add to the fun as well!

Here is a  pictures of ABC books my classes have written over the years. The ABCs of Animals book was written by emergent readers and contains only one word for each letter. All of the other books are on higher levels. The Halloween book was a fun book my resource students wrote after reading a few Halloween stories and poems. The Long Island book was a 4 months long project! As we studied various things about Long Island we added to the book until it was finally done in May of that school year.  When we studied Christopher Columbus we decided to make an ABC book to tell all about him.  I guarantee you that adults reading the non-fiction books will learn something they did not know.


If you would like to write an alphabet book with your class, you can make one using construction paper or you can purchase an ABC book for your students at my store. (The December alphabet book will be appearing shortly).  Better yet, you can enter the Rafflecopter to win a $10 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card and have enough $$$ to treat yourself and your class to a great holiday activity.


Twelve teacher-bloggers have joined together to have this fabulous hop that gives you chances to win one $10 TpT gift card at EACH BLOG.  It's possible to win a prize for every Rafflecopter you enter!  That's a total of 12 TpT gift cards to be given away.  So be sure to complete the hop for your best chance to win some great gift cards! The Rafflecopter ends Monday night at midnight so winners can shop at the TpT sale on Tuesday!

The winner is Hilda from MM Bilingual!


The Bender Bunch
Good luck to you!!
Kathleen in 8 Apples
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25-tpt-gift-card-giveaway-an-apple-for-the-teacher-november-6-2016 75-tpt-gift-card-giveaway-november-2016

Once again I am joining with my good friend Kelly Malloy from An Apple for the Teacher and other talented teacher-bloggers to co-host a super giveaway. This month there are TWO prizes and there will be TWO winners!! One lucky winner will receive a $75 Teachers Pay Teachers gift card and a second lucky winner will receive a $25 Teachers Pay Teachers gift card. Wow! Wouldn't  it be wonderful to win one of those cards just in time to get some great new holiday resources for your classroom.  That would make the holiday-frazzles just a little easier to get through! So take a few minutes and enter the contest on the Rafflecopter.  Good luck to you!


Prize: $75 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card

Giveaway organized by: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher), 
Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter.  Giveaway ends 11/13/16 and is open worldwide.



a Rafflecopter giveaway


Kathleen in 8 Apples

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show and tell tuesday

I am linking up with Stephanie, from Forever in Fifth Grade,  to share some pictures in her Show and Tell Tuesday linky for October.  Teacher-bloggers are invited to share their favorite pictures of things they have been doing throughout the month.  This month has been a very busy one for me. Take a look at a few of the things I have been doing. Then check out what other bloggers you know have been doing.


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So happy to visit our out-of-state granddaughters. It was so nice being there to celebrate Abby's 7th birthday. We had to have dinner at her favorite restaurant, Golden Corral. Everyone loves dipping those strawberries in the chocolate fountain! At only 7, she is as tall or taller than many 8 year olds. We want her to stop growing!! LOL  Just for a little while.


show and tell tuesday 2


Alexa is modeling her new outfit. She loves that "fur" scarf. It was so good to see her. She is growing so fast.

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Hubs and I went to Disney for some R&R. It was great having breakfast with Goofy. He's one of our favorite characters.

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Needed to catch up with my BFF.  High tea on Long Island was the perfect setting for an afternoon of girl talk. Delicious scones, clotted cream, finger sandwiches and sweet little pastries were just so-o-o yummy. I can't wait to go back--after I work off those calories.

Click on the main button above to go to the link-up where you can find a link to visit other blogs and learn what's been going on with bloggers you love to follow.

Have fun reading and Happy Halloween!


Kathleen in 8 Apples

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Once again I am joining my good friend Kelly Malloy and some other talented teacher-bloggers to co-host our $75 monthly TpT gift card giveaway. Who wouldn't love to have $75 to spend on TpT resources and beautiful clip art? That would really save some prep time!!  Enter the contest by using the Rafflecopter below and I wish you good luck!
Prize: $75 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card

Giveaway organized by: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher), 
Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter.  Giveaway ends 10/13/16 and is open worldwide.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Are you a blogger who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your blog?  Click here to find out how you can join a totally awesome group of bloggers!

Kathleen in 8 Apples

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On August 11th, 2016,  torrential downpours of rain devastated several parishes across South Louisiana. The extreme amount of rainwater in such a short period of time, caused rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water to flood and destroy millions of dollars of property.  Countless homes, businesses, and schools were either washed away or flooded.  A few teacher-bloggers have organized a fundraiser to help out the Louisiana teachers who lost their classrooms and everything in them.

You can help by purchasing a bundle of resources donated by teacher-authors. That option is a win-win. The $25 bundles have tons of resources for you--valued at much more than $25 and organized by grade levels--and the money collected will go to help the Louisiana teachers. Or if you prefer, you can just make a donation, small or large.  So far over $2,000 have been collected.  We are hoping to do much better!

I urge you to help if you can.  The schools, teachers and the kids of Louisiana need us!  Check out this website for more information.



Kathleen in 8 Apples

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Main Pick 3 Graphic September

Welcome to September's Pinterest Pick 3 Linky hosted by Marissa from the Inspired Owl's Corner, Lisa from PAWSitively Teaching, and  Ashley from Just Reed!  It's  September and school is back in session in many places. Next week, schools on Long Island are back too! I always love the beginning of a new year! There is so much hope for everything that can be. Kids are excited! Teachers are excited! Everything is brand new, organized and cleaned and expectations are high! It's just exhilarating!  I found some cool pins to share with you! I hope they will give you some inspiration to try something new this year!


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Readers and post-its

I love the idea of posting this chart before reading and reminding kids what to look for as the story is read.  Each kids gets a post-it to write a note of something that happened in the story that matches a title on the chart.  It's a great way to make kids active participants in the lesson and to keep them engaged as they share their ideas!


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100 day diary

Unfortunately, this picture isn't as clear as it could be, but the idea is great. It's called the 100 Day Diary. Every day kids write a short entry in their diary, date it and illustrate it with a few quick drawings. They do this for 100 days. What a great way to celebrate the 100th day of school. They will surely realize how long a period of 100 days is!  I like this idea as a quick do-now to be done every morning while everyone is settling down to work!


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During the first week of school take your class picture with kids holding up letters to caption the picture. Once you have the picture it can be used over and over for so many things, such as, write a class book and place the picture with a few sentences about the authors, send a thank you note to a parent or school personnel  on you class's personalized stationary, make an invitation using the picture to invite another class to attend something your class is hosting. You can also take special pictures throughout the year for different holidays or seasons. One example, give each kid a white fur-trimmed red hat and spell out Happy Holidays for a great holiday card!  The possibilities are endless and the pictures chronicle the year in your class! Parents and the kids will love it!



Check out my Pinterest feed for more great ideas for September. Feel free to peruse my boards to find some awesome  ideas.

Visit A Plus Kids' profile on Pinterest.

Visit the other participating blogs for more creative ideas and leave comments everywhere to tell bloggers what you think. If you have an interesting activity for September, a recipe, or an anything-at-all pin,  feel free to link up and share. Have fun!  I wish you all a great school year!




Kathleen in 8 Apples
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It's definitely back to school time!!  Many of you are already back and many schools in the northeast are headed back next week. This Back 2 School Giveaway comes at just the right time for the lucky winner to pick up a last minute resource or two. One lucky winner will receive two prizes:  a $10 TpT gift card and one resource (no bundles) from my store, A+ Kids.

$10 TpT Gift Card


The winner will be announced right here on September 9, 2016 and will be notified by email. It is the winner's responsibility to contact me within 48 hours of the email being sent.

Wishing you good luck and a great school year!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Kathleen in 8 Apples

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Just have to share my new resources about America's 50 states. There are five different resources rolled into one big bundle. Kids will learn about the states of our great country.  They will become familiar with the map of the United States, develop a sense of spatial awareness of regions of the United States, identify states by their shape when presented outside of a US map, learn the state capitals, and use organizers to complete a state report.

The five separate resources, all included in the bundle, and described below, are also offered individually.

The bundle contains everything you need to teach a unit about  America's 50 states including diversified approaches to the subject matter with ideas for differentiation.

The Atlas


All 50 states, with their capitals clearly labeled, are depicted on individual pages. Students use classroom wall maps or the internet to find other large cities and large bodies of water for each state and label their own maps.  The teacher must choose the objectives to be achieved: 1) use these pages  to form one class atlas or individual ones for each student,  2) complete pages for individual states to include in state reports.

The United States Map Puzzle


Each of the 50 large puzzle pieces need to be identified, labeled and placed onto a large piece of paper to for a wall-sized (20" x 30") map of the US.  This is an activity that will work well working in small groups.  Kids can look at the shape of the states given to their group and try to identify them. The teacher can differentiate by giving more able learners states like Missouri and Ohio that can easily be confused with a few other states when they are no longer part of the whole map.  Less able learners can contribute by working on states such as Texas, Florida, California and New York. They are easily identifiable.

Four-Piece State Facts Puzzles


Kids assemble 50 four-piece puzzles using the clues on each puzzle piece. Clues include a picture of the state, large cities, the state's nickname and its abbreviation. Pictures of the states are presented in color. There is an additional set presented in black and white.

States and Capitals


A map of the United States has the states labeled only with numbers. Kids identify each state and  its capital city on the student's response sheet.


Teachers can also implement a reverse activity and make cards with the names of states and their capitals by cutting up the answer sheet.  The cards are  placed in a bag  and pulled  out one at a time. The card is read aloud. Kids need to find the number of the state on the map.


 Researching America's 50 Great States


This page is for general information about the state.

Kids will need to use the internet to find out who holds office in the state they are researching.


When research work is completed, kids can design a flag with information they have learned. This student is drawing a picture of New Mexico's state bug.  She also learned that New Mexico was the 47th state admitted to the Union. When she finishers her flag, it will be posted on the wall with others to create a long banner of states.


When I was making these resources, I intended for them to enrich your class studies of America's states. Now that the entire bundle is completed, I realize that they can also used independently in your classroom to develop a particular skill or you can choose to use any combination of activities to suit your needs.  My  hope is that these resources will help you to save time and have less stress.  Everything is done for you with the exception of some cutting and the students do most of that!

Less work for the teacher, more fun for the kids and greater organization for everyone!

Kathleen in 8 Apples

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show and tell tuesday

I am linking up with Forever in Fifth Grade's Show and Tell Tuesday linky for August.  Teacher-bloggers share their favorite pictures of things they have been doing through the month. Check it out and find out what the  bloggers you know have been up to.

Greenport Boat

We traveled out to Greenport on the eastern tip of Long Island's north fork to have lunch and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Really enjoying this summer!  It was a beautiful day!

show and tell tuesday 2


Love my flower garden! It's been so hot here and there's been no real rain in weeks.  Even with a sprinkler system I need to constantly check to be sure they have enough water. Of course, the weeds are having no problem!  Ugh!

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Welcome back to another school year!

How valuable is a beginning of the year informal assessment?

I love informal assessments! I learned a long time ago how valuable it can be to get an early assessment of my new students' abilities.  The first day of school for most Long Island schools is usually a Wednesday. I used those three days of the first week to welcome students, make them feel comfortable, and learn as much about them as I could. Because I did not want to accept what last year's teacher said as gospel, I wanted to to conduct my own assessment of my students' academic and behavioral abilities. Every year, before school started, I used a large (5x8) index card to document information about each student. On that card I wrote their name, and a few notes, such as any services they were supposed to receive and mainstream classes they would attend.  During those first three days, I conducted lots of observations/informal assessments to learn about my new students. Then I wrote notes on my index cards about what I learned.





The assessment you administer should require students to do tasks they should already know and maybe a question or two they probably don't know. Sometimes you are surprised at the results!

Write any observations on their cards.  If you have a rubric, highlight the appropriate comments and file it with the assessment sheets in each student's folder you keep on file in your classroom.   Besides academic skills, what else did you learn that can be noted on the student's card?   Behavioral observations should be noted too. Was the student's work neat or messy? Did the student's equipment appear to be organized or was it all over the place? Was the student able to stay on task or did he need prompts to focus?  This is the beginning of documenting your observations about your new students.  As the year goes on, continue to write notes on these cards whenever you observe new things. Of course, every note should be dated.

These notes are a valuable resource for you when preparing for parent-teacher conferences.  At the time you think you will never forget, but the classroom is a fast moving place where sometimes days, and yes weeks, just seem to run together. When you contact a parent, via note, email, phone or an in-person conference, note the type of conference, the date and a brief description of what was discussed.  Your cards will provide you with documentation about what happened and when. More than once, the notes on my cards helped me through a situation where I was being questioned. When a parent says "no one ever told me that," you will be able to remind them of a phone conversation you had on October 3rd.  Also, reviewing these notes means you will not forget to mention something to a parent that they should know and that you want to share.  Hopefully, you will be reporting how much their child has improved! This method of informal assessment is easy, effective and takes only a few minutes to make a note when something is observed.



You can create your own informal assessment or you can try the one I just created.  It is quick and easy to administer. This assessment is for multiplication and division only. Problems start with the times tables and get progressively harder. Can the student multiply a one-digit number by a two-digit number without renaming? Can the student multiply a one-digit number by a two-digit number with renaming? Can the student multiply a two-digit number by a two-digit number?  You get the idea.  There is a separate division sheet, also with progressively harder problems.  Highlighting appropriate comments on the rubric, that is included, makes note taking easy and the information can be transferred to your cards later.

Less work for the teacher, more fun for students and great organization for everyone!


Wishing you a great school year!

I would appreciate your comments about informal assessments!


Kathleen in 8 Apples

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August 2016 $75 Giveaway 1August 2016 $75 Giveaway 2


Once again I have joined Kelly Malloy and other fabulous teacher-authors to co-host our awesome monthly giveaway with a very practical prize, a $75 TpT gift card. Wouldn't winning that prize be a great start to a new school year? Imagine all the resources and clip art you could buy with that! The contest starts today so be sure to enter often to increase your chances of winning!  I wish you good luck!!

Prize: $75 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card
Giveaway organized by: An Apple for the Teacher
Co-hosts: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher),  A Plus Kids,  Teaching SuperkidsPeas in a PodEmbellished EducationLattes and LunchroomsKB3TeachDancing into FirstTeaching Ideas For Those Who Love TeachingThe Chocolate TeacherMs K MathKnowledge MobileMrs. RoltgenElementary Antics,  CrazyCharizmaCarla HoffThird Grade GigglesMickey's PlaceRissa HannekenActivity TailorKamp Kindergarten,  Reading and Writing RedheadPlanet Happy SmilesA View Into My ClassroomMomma With A Teaching MissionSara RuckerThe Literacy GardenPam's PlaceHeart 2 Heart TeachingMrs Humphries ClassSliding Into 1stGrowing Grade by GradeJackie CrewsLife As I Know ItSarah GriffinTeacher Treasure HunterGlistening Gems, and A Classroom for All Seasons.
Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter.  Giveaway ends 8/13/16 and is open worldwide.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Are you a blogger who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your blog?  Click here to find out how you can join a totally awesome group of bloggers!
Kathleen in 8 Apples
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