Tuesday, December 20, 2011

December: Lesson Learned!


Hey kids! 

Since December is a short month, it's already time to share!

Tell us about something you learned in 
your English course in December.  

Remember, you can continue to add comments to this blog for extra credit until January 24. For a list of older posts, click on the dates to the right.

Please use only your first name whenever you leave a comment on this blog. For directions, visit Blogging 101. Your comment will not be seen by others until I approve it. 

Have a wonderful break! I'll see y'all next year!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Advice Wanted!


There are seven weeks left in the first semester. Some students are right on track, while others are feeling overwhelmed and behind in their courses.

What advice would you give to a student who is behind in English?
Do you have a trick to staying on track in your courses?

Please use only your first name whenever you leave a comment on this blog. For directions, visit Blogging 101. Your comment will not be seen by others until I approve it. 

Thanks for your help,

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

November: Lessons Learned


Hey Ink Slingers and Bookworms! 

Well, November is a thing of the past. December is on its way! What does that mean? It's time to share!

Tell us about something you learned in 
your English course in November.  

Did you read a book or passage that you enjoyed? Did you write an essay, a paragraph, or other composition that you are especially proud of? Did you learn a new study skill, concept, or vocabulary word? Did you participate in a Class Connect that opened your eyes to something new? Tell us about it! We want to know!

Please use only your first name whenever you leave a comment on this blog. For directions, visit Blogging 101. Your comment will not be seen by others until I approve it. 

Have a wonderful winter!

Friday, November 11, 2011

In Honor of Our Veterans


The Four Lego Guy Salute

On Veterans Day we honor all,
Who answered to a service call.
Soldiers young, and soldiers old,
Fought for freedom, brave and bold.
Some have lived, while others died,
And all of them deserve our pride.
We’re proud of all the soldiers who,
Kept thinking of red, white and blue.
They fought for us and all our rights,
They fought through many days and nights.
And though we may not know each name,
We thank ALL veterans just the same.

Happy Veterans Day!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Show Don't Tell


Good writing tends to draw an image in the reader’s mind instead of just telling the reader what to think or believe. Readers are smart! We can read through the lines! Give us some credit!

Today, I issued a challenge to my students: Jazz up one of the sentences below by drawing an image to let the reader "see" the passage.

Grandma was angry.
Alex was tired.
The dog was happy.

Check out these student samples! Would you rather read a story with the (boring) sentences above, or with the vivid details below?

Grandma barged down the hall. She was beat red in the face and I could almost see the steam coming out of her ears. I cowered as she came up to me. Her bent stature seemed two times taller than before as she glared down at me. Gripping my ear, she pulled me back down the hall.        ~By Andrew

Alex slowly pushed the warm blanket off from over his body. He swung his feet over the edge of his bed and let them land lightly on the floor. His eyelids weighed down almost so that he couldn't see. He worked up enough strength to drag his feet along the floor as he sluggishly made it to breakfast.   ~ By Sterling

Before I entered through the door I could hear the whining and the tail knocking things over. I could hear her claws hitting the hard wood as she jumped to look at the window to see if I was coming. She started to lick the windows as she was whining at me to say hello. She jumped and put her paws on my chest, pushed me over and started to lick my face with her big slobbery tongue.      ~ By Dayzi

Click here to watch our Show (Don't Tell) lesson online.

Nicely done kids!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Team Jacob


This is for the Twilight fans out there...

Sunday, October 30, 2011

October: Lessons Learned


Hey Students! It's time to share!

I know you learned fascinating things in all of your WAVA classes this month. October is coming to a close, so for this week's response...

Tell us about something you learned in 
your English course in October.  

Did you read a short story or poem that you enjoyed? Did you write a memoir, a paragraph, or other composition that you are especially proud of? Did you learn a new study skill, concept, or vocabulary word? Did you participate in a Class Connect that opened your eyes to something new? Tell us about it! We want to know!

Please use only your first name whenever you leave a comment on this blog. For directions, visit Blogging 101. Your comment will not be seen by others until I approve it. 

I look forward to your responses,

Monday, October 24, 2011

You are as smart as a whip!


sim·i·le [sim-uh-lee]  noun  

A simile is figure of speech in which two unlike things are explicitly compared, as in “she is like a rose.” It is a way of comparing two things using like or as.

Here are a few examples of similes:
  • They fought like cats and dogs.
  • She is as funny as a barrel of monkeys.
  • He ran like the wind.
  • Your explanation is as clear as mud.
When you are writing a story, consider adding a simile to describe a character, a scene or an object. Similes can be used to convey ideas as well as offer vivid descriptions. Which sample below paints a better picture?

It was a hot day!
The day was as hot as a firecracker on a chili pepper!

Get it? 

Okay, now it's your turn! In the comment box, write your best simile. It can be about yourself, the weather outside, Mrs. Sol, autumn, your pet, or something else you'd like to describe.

Your comment will not be seen by others until I approve it. Please use only your first name whenever you leave a comment on this blog. For directions, visit Blogging 101.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Bookworms Unite!


Hey students!

This week, we are going to share our favorite books. When you reply, please remember to type the complete title and author, so other students can find a copy of the book. I will use all of the recommendations in this post to create a new Bookworm list on the page to the right.

What book or books would you recommend to someone your age?

Your comment will not be seen by others until I approve it. Please use only your first name whenever you leave a comment on this blog. For directions, visit Blogging 101.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Trick or Yummy Treat


I love this time of year! Halloween decorations are my favorite. Decorations you can eat? Even better! If you are having a Halloween party at school or at home, these spooky treats will WOW your ghosts and goblins...

 Come on now! These treats are to die for! Who would not want to eat a Marshmallow Zombie? This creative idea came from Meaghan at The Decorated Cookie.

We are definitely making Monster Mash Popcorn Mix this year! I found this fun recipe In Katrina's Kitchen. So easy to make and very Halloweenie. The creepy mix-in possibilities are endless!

These Shrunken Apple Heads are from Our Best Bites. You may not want to eat them, but they would make a fun science experiment. Check out lots of tasty party treats on their site this month!

Also from Our Best Bites... Mummy Dogs! 
I could see making these little guys for an Indiana Jones party too!

Cut crescent roll dough into thin strips and wrap around hot dogs. Bake according to crescent package directions and use ketchup or mustard for eyes. I cut my hot dogs in half to make them bite-sized.

These Peanut Butter Spider Cookies are from the Betty Crocker website. The spiders are made out of Rolo candies, m&ms and black string licorice. These would be great on cupcakes too! 

 Ahhh... Nutter Butters. Dip them in white chocolate to make ghosts or dip them in melted green candy wafers for goblin feet. For this recipe, visit Family Fun!

 My son requested a Halloween-themed birthday party... in June! We hauled the decorations up from the basement, found favors at Oriental Trading, and took advantage of the "Over the Hill" tableware at the party store. We even went trick-or-treating around the neighborhood (yes, the neighbors were in on it). 

Instead of a cake, we ate Graveyard Dessert...

Fill a cup 3/4 full with chocolate pudding. Top with crushed Oreos and gummy worms. I used Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies for the tombstones with RIP written in frosting. 100% creepy!

Trick or Treat! 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Welcome to Our Blog!


Howdy kiddos! Welcome to our class blog. First, let me introduce myself. My name is Mrs. Sol and I am a K-8 teacher for online schools in Washington. If you found this blog, I bet you are in my class this year! To find out more about me or to read about our exciting class program, check out our class website.

This year, we will use this blog as a fun way to communicate with one another. As you may already know, weekly communication between teacher and student is very important. A blog is an easy way to keep in touch while learning about your virtual classmates!

Every Monday, I will post an activity, a question, or a sample of student work on this blog. Sometime during the week, please leave a comment using only your first name. It will be fun to see what other students have written as well!

Are you ready to join the blogging world? Check your k-mail for blogging directions. Then stay tuned for our first official post next week!

Blog ya later,

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Movin' on up!


Well kids, Mrs. Sol is graduating. I'm heading off to high school! I will be teaching high school English and Journalism for the 2011-2012 school year. If you would like to see what the big kids are up to, check out Ink Slingers & Bookworms.

Take a walk down Memory Lane. Check out our elementary blog posts and comments by clicking on a month to the left!

I'll see you in high school!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011



September 23rd he first official day of fall! This is my favorite season for many reasons... the leaves change, the days get shorter, pumpkins decorate the front steps and the smell of autumn fills the air. Of course, I also love fall because there are so many fun books to read and fall-related crafts to create.

Everyone loves a good picture book! The following selections will inspire kids of all ages to jump into a pile of leaves, write poetry, carve pumpkins, admire the trees, and design a leaf creature!

Mouse’s First Fall by Lauren Thompson
 One cool day Mouse and Minka venture out to play. From leaves of all colors — red, yellow, orange, and brown — to leaves of all shapes and sizes — from pointy to round — Mouse learns that fall is a season full of fun! And before the day is done he just might take the biggest leap of all.

Leaves by David Ezra Stein
It’s a young bear’s first autumn, and the falling leaves surprise him. He tries to put them back on the trees, but it doesn’t work. Eventually, he gets sleepy, and burrows into the fallen leaves for a long nap. When he wakes up, it’s spring—and there are suddenly brand-new leaves all around, welcoming him.

It's Fall by Linda Glaser
Simple text and bold, beautiful paper sculpture cover the animal life, plant life, weather, a night scene, clothing small children would wear, as well as the general feelings and sensibilities associated with the fall season. 

Autumnblings by Douglas Florian
This collection of poems and paintings welcomes fall with all the crisp energy of a joyful tumbling run. A companion volume to the highly praised Winter Eyes and Summersaults, Autumnblings proves once again that Douglas Florian is a poet for all seasons.

Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert
Fall has come, the wind is gusting, and Leaf Man is on the move. Is he drifting east, over the marsh and ducks and geese? Or is he heading west, above the orchards, prairie meadows, and spotted cows? No one's quite sure, but this much is certain: A Leaf Man's got to go where the wind blows.  

The Little Yellow Leaf by Carin Berger
As all the other leaves float off and fly past, Little Yellow Leaf thinks, I'm not ready yet . As the seasons change all around, Little Yellow Leaf holds on to the tree. Still not ready . Will Little Yellow Leaf ever be ready? This is a story for anyone who has ever been afraid of facing the unknown—and a celebration of the friends who help us take the leap.

It's Pumpkin Time! by Zoe Hall
A brother and sister get ready for Halloween early- by planting their own pumpkin patch! Readers will discover the simple joys of gardening and enjoy watching the exciting transformation from pumpkinseed to jack-o'-lantern.

The Reasons for the Seasons by Gail Gibbons
A scientific explanation of how the position of Earth in relation to the sun causes seasons, and the wonders that come with each one of them.

What is your favorite fall picture book?
Enjoy the season!

Sunday, September 11, 2011



On September 11, 2001, I was teaching on an army base in the south. At 10:00 a parent came into my classroom and said, "I think you need to go to the library." She watched my class as I walked into a dark office in the school media room.  I was shocked at what I saw on the tiny televison screen. Replays of planes hitting the World Trade Center, the South Tower collapsing, talk of lost planes, and the uncertainty of what was coming next.

My fourth graders were sent home early, as many parents were preparing to deploy. I was seven months pregnant and wondering if I would be alone in the delivery room, without my soldier. I remember that day like it was yesterday and the feelings still make me shiver.

I couldn't make it to school the next day. Security was so tight on the base that I waited in line at the gate for 4 hours before turning around and heading home. School was cancelled and I worried about my students.

Finally, on September 13, I was back in my classroom. The kids were eager to talk about the recent events and what it meant for us, the military families. I thought it would be appropriate to let the kids write and draw about what was on their minds. One student was concerned about her relatives in another state. Others wrote about their morning or plans for the weekend. Of course, most wrote about the bombings and the video clips they had seen on the news over and over and over again. I took all of the pages and made a book for myself. It was as therapeutic for me to read through the thoughtful responses, as it was for my students to share their feelings with me...

I still have the book and I read it every year on September 11. My students are now high school graduates and living all over the world. I think about them as I do all of my former students, but the brave class of 2001-2002 will always hold a special place in my heart.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011



As you may know, this summer I read a bunch of girl recommended books. I enjoyed the challenge and added amazing new books to my library! Thank you to everyone who shared their favorites with me! All of the recommended books can be found in the margin to the left, if you are interested.

Now, it's time to move on to my favorite topic: Boy Books! As the mother of boys, I am an expert on this subject. I can have thoughtful conversations with my male students on the topics of cooky cavemen, Vikings, demigods, time-warping, Muggles and robots. I can even recommend books based on their interests. Yes, I'm that good.

One concern I hear from parents on a regular basis is, "My son does not like to read." My advice is this...
  • Let boys choose books that look interesting to them. Many times we tell boys to put down the comic book and read a "real book." Well people, READING is READING. Graphic novels, magazines, comic strips and science reference books require reading too.
  • Read with your child. Choose books to read and discuss. Kids are never too old to listen to a good book. Pick the first book in a series and they may become hooked! Plus, your child will benefit from listening to your fluency and expression, hearing new words in context AND sharing time with you!
  • Ask what other boys are reading. Ask a librarian, a teacher, the boys hanging out at the bookstore. Check online, read blogs, read reviews on book sites like Amazon, Library Thing or Shelfari. There are great books out there and people are talking about them!
Here are a few of my favorite resources on the topic of Boys -n- Books. If you have another site to add, or a book to recommend for boys, please add a comment below!

For a selection of tried and true boy books, check out the "Recommended by Boys" list on the right.

Happy reading!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Behold... The S'more Cookie Bar!


Okay, I will apologize in advance. This has nothing to do with teaching, but it has everything to do with kids... and adults who love delicious treats. Plus, if you double the recipe to fit into a 13x9 pan, you will get a nifty math lesson out of it. 

This is the BEST summer cookie treat EVER! Heck, make them in the winter too for all I care. I found this recipe at Baking Bites and made it immediately. It got the A-OK from my boys who were all about helping with the assembly. These cookie bars are delicious and gooey when they are warm and chewy good the next day. They will take you back to summer camp and leave you asking for s'more.

S’More Cookie Bars
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs*
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 king-sized Hershey bars (as in GIANT movie size)
1 1/2 cups marshmallow creme/fluff (not melted marshmallows)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in egg and vanilla. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix at a low speed until combined. Divide dough in half and press half of dough into an even layer on the bottom of the prepared pan.

Place chocolate bars over dough. 2 king-sized Hershey’s bars should fit perfectly side by side, but break the chocolate (if necessary) to get it to fit in a single layer. Spread chocolate with marshmallow creme or fluff.

Place remaining dough in a single layer on top of the fluff (most easily achieved by flattening the dough into small shingles and laying them together).
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool completely before cutting into bars
Makes 16 cookie bars.

*Note: 3/4 cup crumbs is approx 7 full-sized graham cracker sheets, whizzed in the food processor until fine.

Now you're talking.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Mega-Fun Math!



So, I took my kids to the local science museum the other day. We decided to visit the gift shop and (as usual) I went straight for the books. That's where I found the BEST math book EVER...

By Michael S. Schiro

This book is chock full of games and puzzles that kids will love! It's perfect for classroom and home use. The cooperative learning games are creative and fun. The best part is, the materials you need can be found around the house.  

Part One is divided into the following categories:

Paper and Pencil Games
Egg Carton Games
Cube Games
Tongue Depressor Games
Card Games
Board Games
PE Games

Part Two contains hands-on problem solving puzzles that reinforce basic concepts while developing mathematical reasoning skills.

The ideas in this book are perfect for grades 1-6. If you have a child who is having a hard time with multiplication, play a game of Operation Hopscotch or Call It. Need to entertain the kids on a road trip? Whip up a game of Number-Tac-Toe or Hangmath. The descriptions in this book are easy to follow and the nifty chart at the front makes it easy to find the concepts/grade-levels you are looking for:

I've had fun playing Mega-Fun Math Games with my kids and I can't wait to share them with my students in the fall!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Laundry "Treasures"


When I do laundry, I am always surprised at what I find in my boys' pockets. Where do these things come from? What makes them pocket-worthy? More importantly, what are they being saved for? 

Here is a list of ten items I found in pockets this month:
  1. rubber bands
  2. paper clips
  3. tiny pencil-top eraser
  4. clam shells
  5. rocks
  6. twisty tie from bread package
  7. coins
  8. random hardware items (screws, bolts, nuts, etc.)
  9. gum wrapper
  10. Lego Guy helmet
The weirdest part of it is that if I leave these items on the washer and they spot them... back in the pocket they go.

What's the strangest thing you've found in a pocket while doing laundry?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Summer Reading... Girl Edition


Now that I have two boys, I'm completely out of the loop when it comes to girl books. My goal this summer is to read as many girl-recommended novels as I can. In order to reach my goal, I've solicited book suggestions from my students, my neighbors, my sons' friends' sisters and random girls spotted with books out and about.

Each novel must meet the following criteria:
1. It's appropriate for 4th-6th graders.
2. The main character is a girl.
3. The book was written by a female.
I've read quite a few, and I already have favorites that I know my 4th-6th grade girlfriends will enjoy. As a young lady, I attended the Beverly Cleary School of Realistic Fiction. I still enjoy novels about kids who act like kids, even when overcoming life's obstacles. The books below made my list of favorites because they are innocent, touching, character-driven stories with a thoughtful storyline. Most importantly, the main characters are unique. When you put each book down, you will feel like you have made a new friend.

Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur

The Magic Half by Annie Barrows

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo  


I will continue to add information about the books I read this summer... if they are worthy of sharing, that is. If you would like to share a wonderful children's novel or if you would like to comment on a title listed above, feel free leave a comment!