I Just Don’t Like the Sound of No! by Julia Cook

61qQz7oYhKLI Just Don’t Like the Sound of No by Julie Cook is one of the highly effective social skills picture books. Perfect for elementary school students. Younger students instantly connect with the story, since they deal with daily frustrations when it comes to hearing ‘no’. Cook skillfully connects with the reader, then productively offers a step-by-step plan to which students quickly buy in. As younger students have a hard time considering others’ perspective of ideas, Cook’s “Say to Yes to No” club serves as a productive habit forming tool, useful for all students.

Perfect class management tool book!
5 Star 🙂

Mrs. Lena, M.Ed.

Lesson Plan




Summer Enrichment; Reads, Coding & Apps

Summer doesn’t have to have a backward slide if kids keep their minds active. Learning new and different stuff will increase their academics upon return to school. The stressful tests are over, there is no more mandatory curriculum. Just summer, kids and parents.

Summer Books:

bird_lake_moon“Bird Lake Moon” – by Henkes




Unknown“Olive’s Ocean” – by Henkes – Newbery Award Winner of 2004




Turtle_in_paradise“Turtle in Paradise” – by Holm

“Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer” – by Megan McDonald



Learning Computer Programming This Summer – for all ages
Logo Playground


Super fun and engaging way to learn programming. Suitable for all ages.




Learning while having fun… Apps

teachme3rdTeachMe:3rd Grade – by 24×7 digital LLC

This app for 3rd graders is ideal during and after the school year. Kids practice spelling, sight words, multiplication, division, fast multiplication and division; earning points and prizes.
What I find the best about this app is the writing part, which kids find a bit frustrating but they all work at it. They start paying attention to their penmanship, which in third grade is still in beginning stages with most students. Summer is a perfect time for the review and this app has all the foundation that they will need in 4th grade. TeachMe: 3rd Grade app does a great job getting kids to mastery of content through a fun and captivating way.
TeachMe: 3rd Grade doesn’t feel like work. You will know that kids really like it, when they repeatedly ask to play it.

Helping Kids Like Math

board-935455_960_720Kids today are digital natives. They learn different. Kids don’t like math. Really? Where is this coming from? Kids love math. Let them master their number sense and watch them treat it like a game. There is enthusiasm in the class during math. So, what is the problem with math? There is no problem with math. We have a problem with bad curriculum. We have a problem with Common Core standards that are developmentally inappropriate, especially for primary grades. We have a problem with a foreign company, Pearson, that provides kids with tests designed for failure. So, no we don’t have a problem with math. Students enjoy elementary math.
What they don’t enjoy is reading. As years go by, the vocabulary becomes more domain specific and increases in difficulty. This coincides with students reading less as they go from upper elementary, middle and high school. Reading is a huge part of math. If students cannot understand what they question is asking them due to dense vocabulary, they struggle with math, no matter how well they did in early elementary.

Reading comprehension effects all academic subjects. If a child struggles in reading, the odds of them graduating high school are very low. Reading is a skill developed throughout all schooling and life. What is different with this generation is that they are tasked with deciphering numerous reading formats, which makes reading comprehension skills more important then ever. Yet, today’s students spend less time reading than previous generation.

If we want to help kids like math, science or social studies, we have to help them become better readers. Reading promotes critical thinking, problem solving, and deep learning. All of which translates into math success in middle and high school.


Best Picture Books – Primary Classroom

1st grade super readsFirst Grade – First Rate Picture Books

Teaching with picture books in primary grades is one of the most enjoyable ways to teach reading, writing, character building, problem solving, while getting to know your little guys. Here are some of our favorites!





Unknown1. Penny and Her Marble – by Kevin Henkes

Everyone loves Penny. She has a real moral dilemma in this story. Should she do the right thing or not? Along with standard main idea, story sequencing, writing activity, and predicting, students debate the right and wrong of the story conflict.



511qt3k12aL2. What If Everybody Did That? by Ellen Javernick

This book is a best seller and a perfect read throughout the year. The story takes kids through a series of scenarios and discusses consequences of our actions. Students in primary grades are keen observers of their surrounding and are ready to analyze cause and effect in fiction and their own life. After reading “What If Everybody Did That?” students are able to gain better understanding of rules that seemed unreasonable or needless before.

81N0hXbytIL3. Ruby’s Wish – by Shirin Yim Bridges

A story of perseverance and goal setting. Amazing character building book.

Ruby's Wish

The_Story_of_Ferdinand4. “The Story of Ferdinand

Everyone wanted Ferdinand to be something he is not. This timeless story teaches kids to be who they are.



51gLVpZZyrL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_5. “The Three Little Pigs Count to 100”

A beloved fairy tale told in a creative way that not only tells the story but teaches math and reading comprehension at the same time.



51JcSxw0L3L6. The Empty Pot – another beloved classic
Lesson – Tell the truth and things will work out. Perfect character building book.



51j3FlqSA9L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_7. The Invisible Boy – by Trudy Ludwig

Every class has an invisible boy. This wonderful book teaches acceptance and inclusion.



purple-plastic-purse8. “Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse” – Kevin Henkes

Lilly is hilarious. She will have kids laugh and relate all throughout. She loves school until she doesn’t. Henkes masterfully describes a life of a primary age students.

9919. The Giving Tree – by Silverstein

In “The Giving Tree” the tree selflessly gives everything away, until there is nothing to give. Another amazing character book on making better choices.


Unknown-110. Papa, Please Get the Moon For Me” – This interactive book intertwines science and language arts. STEM activity included in the lesson plan below.








Florida Hands Over $4.47 Billion/year to Foreign Curriculum Company


“Pearson is said to control 80 percent of the public school curriculum in the U.S. and claims to be the global leader. Pearson PLC’s yearly revenues reported in August 2016 said to be as large as $4.47 billion. Of greatest concern is that Pearson is a multinational corporation based in England. It has its primary listing on the British stock exchange and a secondary listing on the NYSE.”

continue reading 


Dental Health – STEM Activities

Dental Health - Acidity STEM Lesson Plan

Elementary STEM Challenges and Activities

Dental Health Month – STEM Lesson Pack

This past February we celebrated the National Children’s Dental Health Month with a series of STEM activities and challenges.

We don’t teach enough about dental health or health in general. Even though we need to do a better job, teaching and being examples. During our dental health check up week, it was shocking to find out that a large number of students had excessive number of cavities, especially for their young age.

Dental problems can lead to numerous other health problems, yet the prohibitive cost and the lack of information contributes to the growing problem.

Our STEM activities looked at relationship between acidity of every day foods/drinks and dental health.

For the Acidity & Dental Health STEM click here! 

Lesson Planning 101 for Homeschoolers

Lesson CoverFor the most part, homeschooling parents are left on their own when it comes to educating their kids. And while, we all appreciate that, there is not enough support in terms of teaching parents how to go about teaching their kids. The job seems easy during primary years, but as middle school age comes along, most parents that I know struggle with homeschooling or decide to send their kids back to traditional classroom. In Florida middle school age is especially hard due to lack of affordable options that are any good. So here we are. As most well meaning parents, the search for the homeschooling information usually starts with the online search.

Unfortunately, this brings a sea of useless information and proclaimed know-it-alls to the surface. Equipped with the colorful planners and kitschy lesson plan outlines, I don’t need more than a second to realize that they have no idea what they are talking about. No one needs a desk filled with binders and colorful post-its to do homeschooling properly. Parents need quality curriculum and guidance on effective instructional practices. The fact that effective instructional practices aren’t implemented in traditional schools doesn’t mean that they are not proven by research and practice.

So, here are some quick tips:

1st – Please don’t listen to the self proclaimed homeschooling guru. Writing lesson plans year ahead and having a controlling instructional schedule is counterproductive.
Some lessons will take more time. Be flexible.

2nd– Learning is dynamic. As a teacher, a mother of a homeschooler, and a Curriculum Writer, I know that teachers and parents everywhere have to adjust their lesson planning on daily basis due to time that it takes to teach a lesson and students’ learning styles. What works in one lesson does not work in another. Most of the time, the variation of background knowledge that you have to build up the lesson to plays a major part.

3rd – Planning a whole year ahead takes away from learning inquiry. As you go through the curriculum you, will find that there are gaps in student’s knowledge that you will need to address by teaching and/or reteaching the material.
Learning is dynamic, and so is teaching.

4th – More often than not, during your teaching, you will realize that you need to rewrite the lesson because there is a better way to present the material to your student.

5th – Teachers get better through teaching. If any of us, teachers or teacher-parents are to become better at what we do, we have to be able to analyze what works and what doesn’t work, what we are good at explaining and what we need to work on.

6th -Some lessons and units will take longer. Don’t be scared of slowing down. It will save time in the long run. Plus, the lessons/units that your child will breeze through are just around the corner.

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Happy Homeschooling!

Lena, M.Ed. – Curriculum & Instruction

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