Sunday, December 23, 2018

They say that in moments of peril your life flashes before your eyes.  For me, the opposite was true. In the seconds before a head-on collision that could’ve easily claimed my life, I didn’t reflect on my past, but my future. As I topped a hill and found myself speeding toward not two--but four-- headlights on a dark and rainy night, I thought, this is how people die. Honestly, in those fleeting seconds before impact, my heart called out for Jesus and I envisioned Him welcoming me to heaven.

Instead, seconds later, I found myself seriously injured, impossibly trapped and eerily alone in the driver’s seat of my Ford Explorer. I had been on the phone with my husband, but sensed we had lost connection as I cried out, “Call 911! I’ve been in a bad wreck… really bad.” That feeling of helplessness and isolation led me to again call out to God, this time audibly. I whispered, “God, I want to survive this and if I can, give me the strength I'll need. If not, I know I’ll be with you.” 

A peace immediately fell upon me. I knew no matter what happened next, the Holy Spirit would carry me through. I’m a person of deep faith, but I’m no saint.  I question, I doubt, I falter, I stray. But when I was a little girl, I accepted the gift of salvation, and that gift is irrevocable. That’s never been as clear to me as it was that night… over an hour trapped in that SUV and the agonizing hours that followed, and never did I panic. When it came down to it, there was nothing to fear.  

To revoke means to take back.  My niece turned one last month, and that girl loves to eat. Often, as she snacks, she’ll offer one of us a morsel, but as soon as we reach for it, she takes it back. She likes the idea of offering it, likes to see us smile and reach for it, but when it comes down to it, she keeps her precious snack.  Surely, she thinks, we couldn’t possibly enjoy it as much as she will.

How thankful we should be that when God reached down His hand to Earth and offered us His Son, He didn’t take it back. Even when we overlook, misunderstand, and persecute the gift, He doesn’t take it back. Jesus was and still is offered to all of us, irrevocably. To have Jesus means to have peace that passes all understanding. Nothing and no one can take that away.

Not only are His gifts irrevocable, so is His calling. Too often I haven’t lived this truth in the day to day. More than I like to admit, I’ve questioned my purpose and doubted God’s plan.  Did He really call me to be this man’s wife if I can’t bear his children? (I falter…) Am I making a big enough difference in this world if we don’t adopt a child of our own? (I stray…) 

And then He sets my feet back on the path in the most unexpected and painful of ways. But even in the shock and the hurt, there is purpose.  Yes, that man who rushed to your side and never left... you are meant to be his.  And all those others in your life... family, friends, students, youth group, church family... they need you. This is your calling. Wife. Teacher. Leader. Sister. Aunt. Daughter. Friend. Each is irrevocable.  

Perhaps your holiday season hasn’t been as dramatic as mine, but God’s love for you is no less strong. He has offered you His Son, and He has called you to a life that is pleasing to Him and uplifting to others. Even when you falter, even when you stray… He won’t take it back.  The opposite of to revoke is to continue and that’s how it is with God’s love. When you’re hurt, when you’re stuck, when you’re alone, His love continues. From that baby in the manger until the darkest rainy night of today, it keeps on…  and for that I am most grateful.


Inspiring Readers With Character Traits and Theme

Thursday, October 11, 2018
It’s my first mentor text link-up ever, and I couldn’t be more excited to Celebrate Diversity with the talented ladies of The Reading Crew!  If you know me, you know keeping things simple is not my strength. In that spirit, I chose not one but two books to share with you today: a chapter book and its perfect picture book companion.  

(Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.)

A little about the books…

In 2016, Sharon Robinson, daughter of baseball legend Jackie Robinson, published a must-read chapter book for upper elementary students called The Hero Two Doors Down. It’s based on the true story of the friendship between Jackie Robinson and a boy named Steve who lived two houses down from her parents when her father played for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Steve was part of a Jewish family in a traditionally Jewish but quickly diversifying neighborhood in the late 1940s.
Steve was thrilled about his new neighbor who would soon become his friend, and he had no idea how many life lessons about patience, honor and self-control that Jackie would teach him. In turn, students learn many of the same lessons while reading. Robinson’s perspective as Jackie Robinson’s daughter and her continued real life friendship with the main character, Steve, makes for an insightful read for children and adults alike.
A week after the Brooklyn Dodgers signed Jackie Robinson, they signed another player from the Negro Leagues named Roy Campanella. In 2007, David A. Adler (also author of the Cam Jansen series) published Campy: The Story of Ray Campanella. “Campy” endured the same prejudice and uphill battle that Robinson did in Major League Baseball. Also like Robinson, Campy rose to fame thanks to his hard work and focus, winning awards for many years.  

A decade later, Campy’s baseball career was cut short after an automobile accident left him permanently injured, never to walk again. Campy’s heroic qualities that had helped him strive to break the color barrier in baseball then had to be employed to break personal barriers of his own, which he did successfully. Both these books reveal admirable character traits in the main characters that lend themselves to discovering inspirational themes. 

How I teach with these books…

The Hero Two Doors Down was a student favorite in my classroom when I taught it through one of my Novel Units for the first time. Last year, I taught 32 students reading, and 24 of them were boys! I loved watching all those boys gain a true admiration for Jackie Robinson simply through reading this book. The impact was surely more lasting than the way we would’ve done it ten years ago—through an article or video in February.
I had had Campy in my classroom for years and admittedly had never read it to a class; it had been given to me at some point along the way. Thankfully, the name rang a bell with me when it came up several times in The Hero Two Doors Down and I’ve been able to capitalize on also teaching this parallel story.  As we read the novel, students completed this FREE Book Walk, which address comprehension and reading skills like sequence, character traits, and theme.
Being exposed to diverse books builds character; many times the authors and characters of diverse books have a depth of character unknown to students like mine who are surrounded by people much like themselves. The way both Jackie and Campy had to unjustly fight for dreams that my students naively take for granted grabbed their attention. For that reason, inspiring my students with positive character traits in these stories, the same way Jackie influenced Steve positively in The Hero Two Doors Down, was an easy teaching decision. I used these quote sorts to point out character traits of the main characters in both books.
Character traits and theme are two of our most important and most difficult to grasp reading standards in the upper elementary grades. Making connections is an important way to help students synthesize information, which is why I like to connect character traits to theme. If students can get a handle on one, this strategy will help them understand the other.  After completing the sorts shown above (click for FREE download) and having a class discussion based on the question in the thought bubble, I create an anchor chart with my students. We relate character traits to theme, and build on this concept throughout the year as we read other novels.
Thanks for stopping for! Hop to the other blogs shared in this link-up for some amazing ideas for celebrating diversity in your classroom with some great books. 


Free and Easy with Sarah, Plain and Tall

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Did you know my Sarah, Plain and Tall Comprehension Packet is my featured freebie on TPT and has been downloaded nearly 20,000 times? That number still staggers me. I just kicked off the year with with this Comprehension Packet with my own class, and I'm here to share six free, fantastic ideas for teaching this beloved book.

The first reading skill I focus on each year is genre, and this novel provides an excellent yet accessible example of historical fiction. What I mean by that is that other than I Survived books, which I love!), many of my students come to me with limited experience with historical fiction. Many upper grades historical fiction books are tough reads, but this one is manageable in most any third, fourth or fifth grade classroom. This book short (58 pages),  has a low word count (under 10,000) and has less than ten chapters (nine to be exact).

The story takes place in the late 1800's in the prairie lands of the midwestern United States. If you haven't read this book, the premise is that a widower with two children places an ad for a wife and a lady named Sarah (who is plain and tall) comes from Maine to give it a shot. The first day we read, we talked about how this seemed like such a strange concept and definitely let us know the story was set in the past. But then I asked, "How is this similar to dating practices today?" It took my kids NO time to make the connection to dating websites and idea #1 was born...

I made a quick, simple Google slide and pushed it out to my kids (we are a Google school system). They had so much fun creating a "dating profile" for either Papa (Jacob) or Sarah (their choice) and called it which the kids thought was hilarious. This was their first attempt at a Google slide to be shared in class, and they did a good job considering. I even included one box where they had to insert a photo that they believed could represent what Papa or Sarah looked like. If your students don't have access to Google, you could use this simple template and delete the text boxes and "insert photo here" before printing.  Click here to access!

A big theme of this story is patience as the narrator, Anna, waits to see if Sarah will like life on the prairie with her family or if she'll return home to Maine, which she talks about often. We looked at these two locations on the map, but I wanted my students to have an even better sense of the contrast of the two settings, so we did some research.

If you don't have Epic set up for your classroom, why not? It's an amazing, FREE resource for online viewing of books, and it has a wealth of nonfiction easy reads. I went on and searched for Sarah, Plain and Tall and immediately found a saved collection by a third grade teacher. I saved the collection to my library, shared the "shelf" with my students, and they did some quick research while making a Venn diagram comparing Maine and the prairie. It was so easy and informative!

One of my favorite (and SIMPLEST) novel activities is to have the students choose a character (animals count!), setting or object from the story, create it and explain its significance to the plot on an index card. This activity makes an eye-catching hall display and gives those artistic learners a chance to express themselves. This works with any book, just wait until you are almost done or completely done reading. Which brings me to my after reading activities...

I have Kahoot quizzes for vocabulary of many of my Novel Units.  We played Kahoot for the first time this past week, and this is a screenshot of my Instagram story that day. My kids were literally squealing with excitement over playing this online game! To access my Sarah, Plain and Tall Kahoot, make sure you have a Kahoot account and click here.

This next idea is the only one that isn't entirely free (unless you count the fact that you must have technology to play Kahoot), but it's WELL worth it! There is a Sarah, Plain and Tall full length Hallmark movie that was made in 1990. I don't always show the movie every time we read a book for which one exists, but this one is a must-show! It's rated G and it follows VERY closely to the plot of the book, often using exact quotes and vocabulary words. It stars Glenn Close (one of my students said, "That's the lady from 101 Dalmatians!") and Christopher Walken. Right now, it's showing on Amazon Prime for only $8.49! To order your own copy on Amazon, click here.

I also created a Movie Companion for my students to follow along with as they watched the movie. You can download a free copy by clicking here.

Last, but not least, download my FREE Sarah, Plain and Tall products on TPT! They are truly everything you need to teach this book effectively. Once you click on the link for the packet, you'll also find links to FREE vocabulary activities and a final test. Please feel free to share feedback, questions or suggestions. I truly love this book and believe you and your students will too!


How To Teach 30+ Kids Without Losing Your...

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

What’s your “perfect” class size?  For me, it’s 24: a number with 8 factors and so many ways to divide students and table groups evenly. Twenty-four is enough to feel like you’re pulling your weight without feeling like you’re pulling your hair out. Last year, I had another class size with a lot of factors: 32.  I more than pulled my weight and yes, at times, I pulled my hair out. 

Today, I piled up half a dozen desks that I won’t need this year in the hall outside my classroom. I will admit I smiled at the promise of a more manageable class size.  I also was hit with the realization that last year wasn’t as bad as I feared.  If you don't already, soon you’ll have your class list in your hand.  What if your number is closer to three dozen than two? 

It won’t be perfect, but it also doesn’t have to be as bad as you fear.  
Here’s how to teach 30+ kids without losing your…

Resist the urge to complain about your numbers. Verbalizing your fears (and your gripes) not only dampens your reputation but also reinforces negative self-talk. In other words, you’ll have others believing you’ve written off your school year, and before you know it, you'll do just that. Reflect on your past experience; if you’ve been doing this for any time at all, you’ve faced and overcome other challenges.  This year will be no different. 

I spent two hours at Open House last year convincing parents that combining two entire third grade classes into one fourth grade class was no big deal. I said it until I believed it, even though there WERE times when it was a big deal. I gave myself a head start on positivity and in turn, sent those parents away feeling positively about their child’s school year.  Words matter, to both the speaker and the listener. 

sense of community
Speaking of those parents, get them involved! Don’t let the sheer numbers scare you off from making individual contact. With larger class sizes comes a bigger chance that there are parents with the time and willingness to get involved in your classroom. Think of things those parents can do for you, more than ever before! This is not the year to hold onto your pride. 

Last year, I had parents sort, file and stuff communication folders, prepare Scholastic book orders to be sent home, cut laminating and other classroom materials, etc. I kept a medium-sized plastic tote in my classroom and any time I started a task that could wait and could be done by a volunteer, I put it in that tote.  On any given week, 3-4 parents came by to help me. I know not everyone works in a school with that kind of parent population but if you do, take advantage of it. If you’re a control freak (like me), you can always go back to doing more for yourself next year. 

The more important part of your classroom community is of course, your students. Find ways to connect with each and every one of them, and to make sure they connect with each other. You’ll have to be vigilant to make sure no one falls through the cracks. Take advantage of small moments to chat with students individually (before school, lunch, recess, after school, etc.) and get to know them each on a personal level. If you haven’t done Morning Meeting before, this is the year to start! (blog post coming soon…)

Don’t let a large class size scare you into thinking you can’t make as big of an impact this year.  That simply isn’t true. In some places, 30+ kids is the norm. Look into different ways to run your classroom to make it work—small groups, peer tutoring, technology. Think outside the box! Routine and procedures will never be as important as this year. If you don’t have a rule for it, make one. Kids are good about rising to the occasion as long as you set up a system in which they have the chance.

This past year I had higher math test scores than ever before, much to my surprise. Honestly I think having so many students kept me on my toes and caused me to make more accommodations to make sure I was reaching them all. For example, I offered free one-on-one math tutoring sessions before school in the weeks leading up to our end-of-grade tests. Because of my concern that the students weren’t getting the individualized attention they needed in class, I went the extra mile. You’ll find ways to do the same. 

Take it one day at a time.  It may be one of those years where you count the days. But we all have those for one reason or another. It doesn’t mean the days count less and it doesn’t mean you love each of those students any less. Be patient, and be kind: both to yourself and to those 30+ kids!

Don't overcommit. This is not the year to start a new club or chair a new committee unless you have to. Last fall I missed an entire week of school with the flu for the first time in my teaching career. Coincidence? Probably not... Practice saying "no" when you can so you can stay healthy for all those kiddos! No one wants to sub for you when you have 30+ kids... ;)

Bottom line: a year ago, I would’ve preferred that my class list have 24 names instead of 32. But you know what? After 180 days of teaching 32 kids, there’s no possible way I could choose which eight I wouldn’t want to get to know and learn with.  Each name on that list is an opportunity to touch a life and for you to grow as an educator.  Don’t begrudge that, and don’t take it for granted.  It won’t be perfect, but you’re a teacher…what is? 


When You Find Out Your Child's Teacher...

Monday, July 30, 2018
Some of my most vivid childhood memories involve scampering down a hot driveway in the August sun to our mailbox, anxious to see if my teacher assignment had arrived.  When it did, I’d rush in the house, hands shaking, and open the letter, facing my fate for that school year.  I’d then share the news with my mom and she’d say something encouraging before I made frantic phone calls to my friends to find out the content of their letters.

So many things have changed, but some schools still handle teacher assignments this way. Others send emails, post teacher assignments on the wall at Back to School Night or maybe even inform families of teacher assignments for the next year when the previous school year is done. However the news is handled, one thing hasn’t changed: it’s big news. 

How we as adults handle this news is important. Children’s feelings are impacted by adult behaviors—more than we often take into account. When I was growing up, I guarantee you that my mom had an opinion about which teacher she’d like me to have most years. However, I don’t remember ever being aware of that. She’d smile, and find something positive to say (no matter what).  Never once did she call the school and complain, talk negatively to other parents about my assignment, or show an ounce of disappointment on her face. Looking back, I’m sure she was less than thrilled at what that letter said at times. But I never knew it.

Every single first day of school, I was excited. I loved school, no matter who my teacher was. Of course, some teachers I loved more than others, and I’m sure my mom felt the same way.  But she gave every one of them the benefit of the doubt, so I learned to do the same. And in doing so, I learned how to function and even thrive with various teaching styles and personalities. Each year of my elementary school experience was different, but every teacher I had taught me academics and, more importantly, something new about myself. 

When you find out your child’s teacher, know this: no one does this job because it’s easy. They do it because they love teaching and they love children—and that means they love your child. Every teacher in your child’s school will not only teach your child academics but they’ll also help your child grow as a person, and isn’t that what the school experience is all about? So many times I’ve "talked up" other teachers to parents who aren’t so sure about their child's assignment.  Every single teacher has something positive to offer! What if parents encouraged each other the same way?

When you find out your child’s teacher, consider this: what’s best for your child isn’t always having the “most popular” teacher or the teacher your family already knows. Sometimes your child grows the most by having a teacher completely different than the familiar. My kindergarten teacher was a smart, sweet black lady named Mrs. Anderson. My most vivid memory of her involves sitting on a carpet and singing “Bill Grogan’s Goat” while she played the accordion. She was nothing like my mom and I doubt that my parents knew a thing about her before they received that letter.  But that was fine and she was wonderful!

When you find out your child’s teacher, remember this: time flies. Your child will experience 6,570 days of life before reaching adulthood, and only 180 days will be spent with this year’s teacher, whether it was the one you’d been hoping for or the one you hadn’t. Capitalize on these teachable, impressionable moments for your child, and make sure they’re excited about that first day of school. Think about the life lessons involved with this piece of news, even if it isn't your first choice. And if it is your first choice, awesome! But it won’t be every year and that is okay. 

I’ll repost each year to remind you. 


5 Prime Finds I Use 5X/Week

Tuesday, July 17, 2018
I'm most definitely an Amazon prime teacher.  Just ask my FedeEx delivery guy, my dog who greets him, or my husband who pays my credit card bill. If you ask a teacher what they think when they hear Amazon, you'll probably hear "books" first, followed closely by pencils, Astrobrights paper, and Expo markers (all of which I ordered the last month of school). I'll be perusing deals on all of the above today, but really the Amazon purchases I use most in my classroom probably aren't the ones you'd think of first.

Here are five prime finds I use in my classroom five times a week. We'll work from most affordable to more expensive.

(This post contains affiliate links.)

1. board games

School should be fun, and I use a lot of board games in my classroom. For one, I like to have foolproof options on indoor recess day for my own sanity. Secondly, many games can be used as appropriate but engaging early finishers activities. For example, Apples to Apples Junior (on sale for Prime Day!) is rote practice of parts of speech in action. I saw a Boggle Jr. on sale for $8. Some favorites in my classroom for indoor recess are Sorry, Guess Who, Connect Four and Twister and they are ALL on sale for prime day.


2. a letter board

I got a letter board for my classroom this past year, and I enjoyed it a lot more than I even expected. Originally I saw one in a store for $45 which I could not justify, but then I bought one on Amazon for   $28 last summer. Today I saw one on sale for ten bucks less than that (click here) AND it had a variety of color choices. In my classroom, I used this on the first day of school and last day of school and sent split screens to the parents. They loved it! I also have the kids pose on their birthday and send to the parents, and my Mother's Day gifts this year were a huge hit. The possibilities are endless!

3. Post-It Easel Pads (25x30 inches)

This product is what turned me into an anchor chart teacher in addition to an Amazon Prime teacher! I use this kind and simply hang on my wall, but I also saw a great deal for Prime Day on this type which you could sit up on a table or on the floor if you teach little kids. Once the chart is complete, you simply peel it off the same as a sticky note, and attach it to the wall for display. They stick to the  painted cinder block walls in my classroom so they'll stick to anything! This "deal" probably seems like a big expense for what it is, but I'm telling you-- it changed my teaching life because it makes anchor charts SO easy! I've even been known to drag the whole tablet home at night to prep the next day's anchor charts on my coffee table.

4. an Audible membership (and Bluetooth speaker)

This one is a two-for-one tip. For each novel I teach, I purchase the audio book on Audible so that I can easily share it with my class. I also have this particular CD player/radio/Bluetooth speaker in my classroom so I can play the book through the Audible app on my phone and pause it from anywhere in the room at any time to discuss the text with my students. You can try Audible for free by clicking here and you'll get two free audio books to keep in doing so. This particular device that I have in my classroom is also available on Amazon (and it's great!) but I'm jumping on the Amazon Echo dot bandwagon myself this Prime Day so I'm excited to try sharing my Audible books with my students that way.

5. Chromebooks

In this case, last is certainly not least but seriously y'all-- Chromebooks are such a HUGE part of my classroom the last three years that I don't know how anyone is doing it without them anymore. This is the cheapest one I've seen for Prime Day at $119, but they are always a good deal. If you have your own children ages 8-12, I highly recommend them over a tablet or a regular laptop. And if you're a teacher and obviously you can't buy a class set today, set up a Donors Choose today instead and try to raise money for a few for your classroom this school year. I got my class set between three different Donors Choose projects, and you can read my tips for that venture here

Happy Prime Day! I'd love to hear about your favorite deals in the comments.


It's finally May G I V E A W A Y

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

It's finally May, and I'm celebrating with THREE giveaways this week. This is the first-- look for the next two over the next couple of days. I recently passed 1,500 followers on TPT, so I'm giving away a digital copy of one of my Novel Units to FIFTEEN lucky teachers. Enter by completing this form, and share with your teacher friends! Thanks so much for stopping by!

Thanks for entering!


Halfway There

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

I know there are a lot of fancy ways to make name tags these days, but I still get a weird satisfaction in cranking out my kids' names in cursive that I never use otherwise. I guess I'd be a more skilled teacher if I scrawled out those loopy letters on the whiteboard every day, but in reality I'm just happy if my haphazard board print doesn't contain any spelling errors.

I am sort of a lunatic about name tags. I forbid my students from doodling on them or putting stickers on them and I fuss at them if they pick at them.  And should they try to move them from square in the top center of their desk... well, that sort of rebellion will not be tolerated. But even with these high standards, by halfway through the year, name tags must be replaced and tonight was the night.

As I sat here writing my students' names out from memory, I thought about how different it felt than when I made that first set at the beginning of the year. This time, I didn't need a roster; those names are etched into my brain in alphabetical order. This time, they don't need their student number written in the top corner; they know their place in our class (in more ways than one). In August, it was just a list of names. I had to double check the spelling each time and I couldn't even put a face with many of them. Now, each name represents a face I will never forget (even if I do forget the name eventually).

At this halfway point, we're settling into the part of the school year when we truly know each other. I know better how to help them, and they know better how to approach me. I can anticipate what they'll need, and sometimes they take the words right out of my mouth. I know what makes them tick, and, let's be honest, they know how to tick me off. Like those name tags, maybe we've worn each other down a little in the getting to know each other, in both good ways and bad. But now we're comfortable, and we do our best learning when we're comfortable.

We're halfway there! Tell your students and celebrate what you've learned- both academically and about each other. Reflect on where you've been and plan where you're headed. And if a student needs a fresh start, give it to them. Re-write their name on your heart, just like that first week when they had a clean slate. Put them top center on your list and give them the attention they need to be the best they can be. Every single name on that roster is worth it. We've got half a year left together, and the best is yet to come!

Personally, I like things better when the shiny new has worn off.  (Except for name tags. They should always be spotless and perfectly centered. So we'll tape down our new ones carefully tomorrow.)


A Few Faves

Thursday, January 25, 2018
This week a TPT customer asked me if I would consider bundling my Roald Dahl Novel Units at a discount. The idea of bundles had crossed my mind before, but I had never acted on it. Since someone asked specifically, I figured why not? So I bundled my six Roald Dahl Units (I also have three free Roald Dahl units!) and my first bundle was born!

Soon, I was looking through my TPT store to see if there were any other products worth bundling. Since the word "bundle" implies three at a minimum, I made a list of authors whose books appear at least three times in my collection of Novel Units. And as I looked over the list and prepared a few more bundles, I realized these five authors, while all VERY different, encapsulate some of my favorite books I've ever taught, so I wanted to share them with you.

Besides The Baby-sitters Club, Ramona books are the most clear memory I have of reading for fun as a child. Beverly Cleary books are truly timeless and there is something for everyone- boys and girls.  One of my favorite units is teaching Ribsy and Socks simultaneously and letting the kids split up by cat lovers and dog lovers. Apparently Beverly Cleary is timeless as well...did you know she's still alive at 101 years old?  She inspired many other beloved children's authors to do what they do, and I've come to love writing Novel Units for her wide variety of novels. They teach themselves! 

It's no secret that Roald Dahl is one of the most talented writer of children's literature ever. Has he written a book that hasn't been turned into a movie? Kids love him, and so do teachers! My personal favorite is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; this is another one I remember from my childhood. If you haven't ever done so, I highly recommend reading Who Was Roald Dahl? by True Kelley with your students alongside his novels. His own life story was also so interesting!

The writing style of Kate DiCamillo is unmatched in children's literature in my opinion.  Her books draw me in every time! Because of Winn-Dixie is one of my top five favorite children's books ever and that Novel Unit was my featured freebie when I hit my first TPT milestone. I honestly didn't realize I had three Kate DiCamillo Novel Units until I started making bundles, but I'm not at all surprised. You can't go wrong with these books!

4. Barbara Robinson
For years, I've started the school year with The Best School Year Ever and followed up with the seasonal spin-offs later on. This year, I didn't do so and I have missed teaching these books so much! In reality, The Best Christmas Pageant came decades before the other two, but I find all three to be equally hilarious and teachable! If you watch Scholastic book clubs the way I do (religiously) you'll find these on sale quite often.  Every teacher and class can relate to these classic tales!

5. Louis Sachar
Last but not least, Louis Sachar is perhaps the most unique children's author on this list. His books range from silly to serious, but they all make you think deeply in some way or another. The Louis Sachar book that I remember most clearly from my childhood is There's a Boy in the Girls' Bathroom, but I don't have a Novel Unit for it yet. Perhaps this is a bundle that will grow soon! In the meantime, you can't go wrong with Wayside School and Holes is one of my all-time best sellers!

Pulling these bundles together made me want to focus on writing Novel Units to round out some other author collections in my store. Who are your favorite children's authors? Do you have a favorite book by one of these authors that I didn't feature? I'd love to hear from you!