Fiction Friday: Beach Books {Ch. 5}

Hello Reading Warriors! 


This weekend I am spending my days on the beach relaxing and reading. Ah, Blissful summertime.

So, this week I thought I would share a two of my favorite newer Kid Lit books about the beach.

Surf's Up
Written by Kwame Alexander, Illustrated by Daniel Miyares

Surf's Up is pure fun! Bro and Dude are two frogs on their way to the beach, but Bro is not quite ready to catch some waves. He's busy reading his glorious book. But Dude drags his best friend to the beach anyway. Along the way Bro shares just enough of his book to peak Dude's interest and sure enough by the time they reach the beach, all Dude wants to do is read.

Surf's Up is an adorable summer tale about the enjoyment of reading and the power of a good book! Loved it! Definitely a classroom book a day contender for back to school.

Check out the book trailer Kwame Alexander's book trailer for Surf's Up just for fun too!


If You Ever Want to Bring a Piano to the Beach, Don't!
by Elise Parsley

Have you heard of this series?  These books are so much fun! Magnolia is told to get ready for the beach, but instead of grabbing a Frisbee or a shovel, she decides to take a piano. Not surprisingly, she struggles. Getting the mammoth instrument to the beach, dragging it through the sand, protecting it from seagulls, and saving it from the waves are just a few challenges along the way to ultimately learning that a piano is definitely not the best toy for the beach.

If You Ever Want to Bring a Piano to Mthe Beach, Don't! is the second book in this on-going series of silly adventures riddled with hilarious mishaps. This whole series is a hoot to read aloud and will have you laughing out loud and imagining what else could go wrong.

I love the idea of using this book as a mentor text and having students write their own If You Ever Want...Don't! books. It's a great text structure for writers of all ages to follow. 

Check out the other two books in series too:
Beach books are fun books and the perfect way to celebrate summer!! Some of my other favorites include The Seashore Book, Hello Ocean, and Flotsam.

What are some of your favorite beachy books?
Connect with me here or on Instagram @classroomhoopla to share book recommendations.

Want to join the fun?? 
Please link up and share one or two or three books you've read.
Link Up "Rules" are very simple.
- You can link up ANYTIME during the week, not just Friday.
-  You can include picture books, chapter books, graphic novels, etc.
- Children's and Young Adult Literature are all fair game
- Please link up with a picture of one of the books you are sharing
- Please don't forget to grab the Fiction Friday button and link back to Classroom Hoopla

Happy Reading!


Place Value Parade: My Favorite Tactile Number Building Activity

 As any new or veteran teacher can tell you, understanding place value is the foundation of building solid number sense. It is the base of all math understanding.  It is essential and vital to further mathematical understanding. Basically, it is just really really important.

I always enjoy teaching place value and incorporating hands-on activities whenever possible. Recently, I gave one of my ALL-TIME favorite place value tools, Place Value Parade, a much needed update and a colorful makeover. This math number building concept activity is a great way to help your students understand place value in a fun, hands-on way.

Place Value Parade is very simple and the kids LOVE it.  It helps kids build their math vocabulary, master place value, and improves listening skills.

Place Value Parade is an interactive hands-on place value chart.  To get started, make copies or print your choice of Place Value Parade charts. I always laminate mine so that kids can write on them with Expo markers.

Have students cut along the dotted line to separate the digit cards from the place value chart. Then, have students cut out all the numbers to create single digit number cards.
Now, you are ready to begin.  It is time to build some numbers.

I like to give my students clues that fill in one digit at a time.  This is a fun way to review math vocabulary, do a little mental math, and turn it into a game.

Here are two examples of a Mystery Number Riddle:

My students think it is great fun to listen to the clues and figure out the mystery number.  We check each digit before reading the number aloud and you will hear the whole class go "Yesss!!" after we call each digit.

Your clues can be simple or very complex.  I like to use as much math vocabulary as possible. (greater than, less than, sum, difference, double, half, more than, less than, even, odd, product, quotient, etc.)

After building the number, read the number together.  Write it in expanded or word form.  Discuss the value of each digit. Etc.

My students keep their digit cards in a plastic bag and the place value chart in their math notebooks.  We use them for about a week solid and then pull them out about once a week for review.  If numbers go missing, we switch to just using Expo marker on the boards.

Students really enjoy building numbers and writing their own mystery number riddles for others to figure out. This activity works great in tutoring or small groups and is even if fun fast-finisher activity for partners.


Of course, you can do this very same activity on white boards or notebook paper.  I like the tactile model I showed you above and so do my students. Plus, the place value charts come in handy as a regular ol' math tool all year long. It's a great visual for the kids. 


If you are interested in using the place value charts from above, you can grab this activity as one of my stores forever freebies here. There are now 4 different styles of place value charts included in the resource in both color and black and white, giving you a total of 8 option! Enjoy and have fun 

Happy Teaching,

Place Value Parade originally appeared on my blog, The Teaching Thief, 1/27/13


Fiction Friday: Picture Books {Ch. 4}

Hello kid lit book fans! 
Welcome back to another round of Fiction Friday.


This week I'm sharing a bit about the picture books found on the 2017-2018 Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List. Out of twenty nominees this year, five of them are picture books! Five! That's a quarter of the list my friends and just goes to show that students in grades 3-6 are (and should be) reading picture books too. 

And these picture books are too good to miss!

Ada's Violin
The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay
Written by Susan Hood, Illustrated Sally Wern Comport

"A virtuoso piece of nonfiction, gloriously told and illustrated." - Luann Toth, School Library Journal 
Ada's Violin is a triumphant and inspirational story of turning trash into treasure. It's the true story of how the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay began and is told through the eyes of one young musician who finds her escape through music. The story will captivate you from the first line, "Ada Rios grew up in a town made of garbage." How could not want to read more? From there the reader follows Ada and her town as they find beauty and hope in the trash that surrounds them.

The exquisite illustrations consist of collage, acrylic paint, drawings and digital mediums.  They beg to be studied and appreciated. This book could be used as a read aloud, a discussion starter, a mentor text, a reading strategies lesson, and so much more. You could weave it into lessons all day for days and days.  It is a story that needs to be told and needs to be heard. Be sure to check out the author's note for websites and videos to further student (or your own) future research afterward because believe me... you'll want to know more.

Follow The Moon Home
A Tale of One Idea, Twenty Kids, and a Hundred Sea Turtles
Written by Philippe Cousteau & Deborah Hopkinson, Illustrated by Meilo So

"Delivers an eloquent environmental message while demonstrating how kids can change the world through teamwork and perseverance." -School Library Journal

Looking for more inspiration? New to town, Vivienne has no idea what to do for her class community action project, but she starts looking for problems to solve. Then she learns about the Loggerhead Turtle Nesting Area at her local beach and the problems baby turtles are having getting to the ocean. Her class starts a Lights Out for Loggerheads Campaign and ends up inspiring the whole town!

Follow the Moon Home is a lovely story of how one idea can make a big difference. From the incredible watercolor illustrations to the beautifully crafted text, this picture book will win your heart. It reminds you that anyone can make a difference in this world.

The back pages are filled with more information and resources about Loggerhead turtles and a Letter to Young Activists from Philippe Cousteau encouraging kids to look around their community, find problems, and seek out solutions. The classroom integration opportunities with this book are numerous including community building, service learning, independent research projects. Great read for all elementary kids and would be great for a school-wide project kick-off.

The Princess and the Warrior
A Tale of Two Volcanoes
By Duncan Tonatiuh

"Equal parts melancholic and transcendent—a genuine triumph." - Kirkus

The story of The Princess and the Warrior has been passed down for generations in Mexico. It tells the tragic love story of Popoca and Izta while also explaining how the two volcanoes in the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan were made. Similar to Romeo & Juliet, this story felt familiar with a new folktale/traditional literature twist at the end. Classic and new all at the same time.

Duncan Tonatiuh's version of this tale is vibrant and well told. I loved the bold illustrations throughout the book and greatly appreciated the glossary at the back as the text is filled with Nahuatl words that were new to me.  Definitely going to be adding this book to my folklore collection.

The Storyteller
By Evan Turk

 "This lush and lovely title is highly recommended.” - School Library Journal

It's a story within a story within a story and it's brilliant! The Storyteller may be my favorite of all the Bluebonnet picture book nominees this year. This story of Morocco, a young boy, a beautiful blue bird, a distractable djinn, and the power of storytelling (and importance of sharing) is expertly crafted and woven together seamlessly.  

The illustrations alone make this book worth sitting down to read. They are unique and beautiful. I honestly took a picture walk before hand so I could fully appreciate the intricacy and power of the pictures. Then I started reading and was instantly pulled into the story.  It reads aloud flawlessly. If you haven't read this one, please do. Read it aloud. Read it again and again. Then read Grandfather Gandhi again because Evan Turk illustrated that one too!

Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions
Written by Chris Barton, Illustrated by Don Tate

Click here to read my thoughts on Whoosh!

And there you have it...All five picture book Bluebonnet nominees! Have you read them? Do you have a favorite? I'd love to hear from you.  They are all great titles to have in any elementary classroom or personal library and will be great additions to our Classroom Book a Day this upcoming year. I can't wait to share these books with my 5th graders.

What have you been reading? What other picture books do I need to read? 
Connect with me here or on Instagram @classroomhoopla to share book recommendations. 

Want to join the fun?? 
Please link up and share one or two or three books you've read.
Link Up "Rules" are very simple.
- You can link up ANYTIME during the week, not just Friday.
-  You can include picture books, chapter books, graphic novels, etc.
- Children's and Young Adult Literature are all fair game
- Please link up with a picture of one of the books you are sharing
- Please don't forget to grab the Fiction Friday button and link back to Classroom Hoopla
Happy Reading!


Fiction Friday: Graphic Novels {Ch. 3}

Welcome to a special Graphic Novel edition of Fiction Friday!


I love graphic novels and so do my students.  If you are not already cultivating a graphic novel section in your classroom library, I highly suggest you start. Graphic novels are loved by all readers, but especially reluctant readers. And the graphic novel selection in 2017 is pretty incredible. These books not only have pictures to help support comprehension, but descriptive vocabulary and stories with a great deal of depth, complexity, and value.

If you are on the fence about beginning your own graphic novel classroom collection or just want to learn more, Literacy for Big Kids has a great blog post filled with resources and book recommendations to get you started.

Since I a moving to 5th grade next year, I focused my summer graphic novel reading on middle grade graphic novels. These are stories about middle school kids and are geared toward the more mature upper elementary reader.

Below are some of my favorite discoveries this summer this summer.

by Svetlana Chmkova 

Awkward is a true middle school story of finding your place, making true friends, and discovering who you are and who you want to be during those turbulent years.

The novel opens with Penelope, or Peppi, tripping on her first day at a new school. Her books fly everywhere and everyone starts laughing except Jamie, who leans down to help her pick up her things. But the kids start chanting, "Nerder Girlfriend" and so in a moment of panic and survival, Peppi pushes Jamie away and yells at him to leave her alone.  Peppi feels terrible about how she treated Jamie, but doesn't know how to apologize.  Things get even more awkward when Jamie ends up being a member of science club, the art club's big rival. As the two clubs battle it out to prove their value to the school, Peppi realizes she may have to break some of her own "rules" to survive in middle school.

I devoured Awkward in one sitting. The characters were so real and the situations so honest that it took me back to my own days in middle school.  I loved that Peppi genuinely struggled with her feelings of guilt for how she treated Jamie. I think lots of kids could relate to that feeling.  Filled with diverse characters and an honest voice, Svetlana Chmakova captures exactly what it's like to constantly second guess yourself and find the courage to follow your heart.

Book Information:
  • Graphic Novel, Realistic Fiction
  • 224 pages
  • Grades 5 and up
by Svetlana Chmakova

Brave is the sequel to Awkward.  Although the story has all the same characters, Jensen is the new protagonist. Like Peppi, Jensen is also a member of the art club, but unlike Peppi, he has a hard time fitting in even among his group. He is often left out and teased even by his friends. There are also two boys who are very unkind to him and pick on him in the stereotypical bully way. Lucky for Jensen, he has the newspaper club to help him find his way.

This is an incredibly important book and should be required reading for every middle grade student.  This novel directly addresses bullying in so many forms.  The emotions behind it will make every reader stop and reflect on their own experiences, actions, and feelings.  You read and think "I've felt that" and "Oh my gosh, I think I've said or done something that."  This book gives readers perspective and insight. It shows readers that words have power and that just because you didn't mean to, doesn't mean you didn't. No matter your age, it reminds you how big and small actions and words impact others. It's a hopeful story that shows the power of kindness and the importance of having courage to stand up for yourself and your friends.  Great read.  Definitely for the more mature elementary reader, but worth it in every way. 

Book Information:
  • Graphic Novel, Realistic Fiction
  • 248 pages
  • Grades 5 and up

Real Friends
by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham

Real Friends is an autobiographical graphic novel. Just like CeCe Bell in El Deafo, Shannon Hale retells the events of her childhood with honesty and humor. Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends since kindergarten, but when Adrienne starts hanging out with the popular crowd and "The Group," Shannon feels even more out of place. Desperate to fit in, Shannon does everything to be a part of the clique until one day she realizes it's not worth it. Standing up for herself, she leaves the "The Group" and sets out to find friends where kind is what makes you cool.

Real Friends shows exactly what it is like to be a girl in elementary school.  The cliques, the pressure to fit in, the struggles to make and keep your friends - it's all here. Shannon struggles with navigating friendships at school, understanding her bully of a sister at home, and shows how difficult growing up can and the courage we need to find the friends we deserve.

Book Information:
  • Graphic Novel, Autobiography
  • 224 pages
  • Grades 4 and Up
Now, it's no surprise that these three novels are marketed together on Amazon. They are all stories of the trials and triumphs of middle school. They tackle difficult topics and do so with humor, honesty, and heart. You will love and root for each of these characters.  You will feel their sadness and cherish their victories! Important stories with important messages about kindness, courage, empathy, and the truth about growing up.

Other Graphic Novel My 4th Graders Love:
And... there are SO MANY MORE!

It's amazing the genres you will find in graphic novels. From realistic fiction to non-fiction, there is a book for everyone! So the next time you are looking to expand your library, don't forget about this important genre and start reading and stocking up on graphic novels.

Next up for me is Sunny Side Up, The Storm in the Barn, and Newsprints
Have you read them?

Want to join the fun?? 
Please link up and share one or two or three books you've read.
Link Up "Rules" are very simple.
- You can link up ANYTIME during the week, not just Friday.
-  You can include picture books, chapter books, graphic novels, etc.
- Children's and Young Adult Literature are all fair game
- Please link up with a picture of one of the books you are sharing
- Please don't forget to grab the Fiction Friday button and link back to Classroom Hoopla

Happy Reading!



Fireworks go KABOOM! Happy 4th!

Happy 4th of July Friends!
I hope your day is filled with friends, family, grilling, and relaxation!
I'm just stopping by today to share one of my favorite red, white, and blue math games: 
Patriotic Multiplication Kaboom!


Have you ever played Kaboom?!? It's super fun!! The best part about this game is it can be played practicing all different skills. Once your kids know how to play, the sky is the limit. This Multiplication Kaboom game focuses on multiplying large numbers and is mostly geared toward 4th and 5th grade but great for an extension in 3rd and a review in 6th. The fireworks patriotic theme makes it perfect for Veteran's Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, or...basically anytime. Fireworks are fun all year!

Game Cards Included:
  • KABOOM! cards
  • 2 digit x 1 digit 
  • 3 digit x 1 digit
  • 2 digit x 2 digit
There are 16 multiplication game cards for each skill.  Skills can be played individually or all together. There are also 2 different styles of cards included in the set because choice is a good thing for teachers too. There is a basic rectangular game card for easy storage in baggies and long skinny game cards that fit nicely in refurbished chip cans.


Game play is simple. Each player draws a card from the deck or from the Kaboom container. (I prefer the cards that can be stored in baggies because they take up less space and I just don't have space to spare in my classroom.) If the player draws a multiplication card they must solve the problem. Other players solve as well to check their work.

If the players solves correctly, they get to keep the card. If not, it goes back in the deck. However...and this is where the fun comes in, if a player draws a Kaboom card, they loose all cards previously earned and must return all cards to the deck and start collecting again. 


And... that's it! It's a great game and has been a huge success in my classroom.  Once your kids know how to play, you can adapt it to practice any skill you want. I included some blank card pages for you and/or students to come up with their own problems to add to the game.

I don't know about you, but I need low maintenance, easy to set up, easy to explain math games in my classroom. Kaboom fits all my needs and my students love LOVE it!

The best part about this game is that it grows with students as their skills grow. I start with 2x1 digit multiplication for review and add game cards as we build our skills. It is also an easy game to differentiate for my students and a great tutoring activity! 
Click any of the pictures above to grab Patriotic Kaboom Multiplication from my TPT store and check out some of my other math games for 4th and 5th grade too!

Happy 4th Y'all!

Patriotic Kaboom first appeared on my blog, The Teaching Thief, 7/5/15

Other MATH GAMES you might ENJOY:

Classroom Hoopla Instagram

Popular Posts