TEFL Contracts

Contrary to Popular Belief, Contracts are not as Important as you Might Think I read some promotional material today from a TEFL course provider and it was about checking on the details of your contract before being hired. I agree that you certainly need to check on the basic details of your contract before signing … Read more

Cute Adopt-a-Pet Reading Kit to Encourage Your Students to Read at Home

Take this fun and cute idea to get your students reading at home! Set up an adopt-a-pet reading kit in your classroom to encourage kids to read.

When it comes to wanting our students to love to read, we teachers will pretty much bend over backward. So, when we come across an idea that has a great hook to help our students want to read more – we share it!
In fact, that’s just what happened when this teacher’s idea went viral on facebook:

It was fun to see teachers love the idea, share it with others and make plans to do this next year with their teammates.
So – to help you create your own adopt-a-pet reading kit in your classroom – I’ve put together a free download so you can simply add your own little stuffed animals and be set to go.
Your students will be excited to adopt a pet and commit to reading 20 minutes every night to help care for them.
How to Set Up
To set up an adopt-a-pet event in your classroom here’s what you need:
Adopt-A-Pet signs, pet collar tags, and certificates to go home (all included in your free printable below)
Stuffed or plush animals – any kind will work
A basket
Some ribbon or string
Hole punch

First – print off the signs, collar tags, and certificates you like for your classroom. I’ve made 3 different sets: a colorful, a black and a white set.
You simply pick which look you like and which signs you’ll want to put out with your adoption display.
There are 84 pet-friendly names in this free set! You can print them all off and then just cut out the collar tags for the names you like. Remember to pick a few girly, a few boyish and a few neutral names to help round out your pet selection.

Add Animals
Next – grab your stuffed animals. You’ll need at least one for each student, but perhaps a few extra would be nice so all students get to have options.
Here are some stuffed animals I found online that would be just right size-wise for a hand-held pet and economical to purchase for an entire class. These are affiliate links for your convenience:
Name the Animals
Next, fill out the certificates for each of the name collar tags you picked. So if you picked Rosebud, Apollo and Tank be sure to pre-fill out their name on a certificate.

Then – hole punch the collar tags for the names you picked and tie them on with string or ribbon around each stuffed animal’s neck.
You can also hole punch and tie a certificate on too or leave those off to fill in after students choose their new reading buddy.

Set Up Your Display
Last – fill up your basket with these newly tagged little reading buddies!
Make your display feel official and complete by using the folded tent sign or glue the smaller plaque sign onto a clothespin and clip it to the basket.
Download the Adopt-a-Pet Reading Kit
Introduce the Animals
When you’ve pulled your reading buddy adoption kit together it’s time to introduce the animals to your class.
How you do this is up to you, but here is an idea:
Start by just introducing one or two pets a couple of days in advance and let students take turns holding the new pet while you read aloud to the class. Introduce the pet’s name, explain that he doesn’t have a home but he loves to read.
Your storyline could be that the principal knows how much your class loves to read and thought that they might like to come to and read while they are looking for a home. Then mention later on – before you bring in all the animals – that the word has spread and ALL the animals now want to come into your class… but of course they couldn’t just stay in the classroom all the time, now could they?
What can be done for all these pets that need a home and need to be cared for by kids who love to read?
However you introduce your pets and your adoption station, lead your students to want to take them home and understand that reading is what they need to feel cared for.
Then let them select their new pet to adopt and take home – complete with a certificate to help parents understand the adoption.

Keep it Going
This is a fun hook to get kids reading at home regularly and building a routine. But, what about after the novelty wears off after a few days or family schedules and life kinda get in the way?
Because, let’s be honest, it’ll happen.
Of course, you can also do none of these things and just let it be a fun little adoption event and be done! But in case you want to – let’s brainstorm out loud here.
Invite the Animals Back
A quick way to keep the encouragement going is to invite the animals back into the classroom.
Host an animal “play-date” day – they all get to bring their stuffed animals back into class. They join in for reading time and can even go out for recess with your students.
Create a Story
Help your students bring their new pet a little more to life by writing stories about their new pet.
During writer’s workshop students should write a book that is all about their pet and eventually read it to the class (and bring their pet in as a guest listener). Have them write about their pet’s favorite things and their favorite type or genre of book.
Encourage students to bring in photos (or have parents message them to you) of them reading to their pet, taking their pet on vacation to read with, or sharing a new book that they just finished reading at home to their pet.
Find creative ways to connect with the pets over the remainder of the school year!
Bring the animals back into view at the next Holiday. Here are some ideas.
Halloween? Give students a half-hour and some paper scraps and craft supplies to create a mini-costume for their reading buddy.
Christmas? Have your students write the world’s tiniest book (on tiny stapled pages) just for their animal to read as a Christmas present.
Valentines? Create a mini-Valentine to give to another classroom pet from yours.
St. Patrick’s Day? Send home green stickers so they won’t get pinched by any other stuffed animals.
To Wrap It Up
There you have the free download to make your own adopt-a-pet reading kit along with tips on how to pull yours together. We hope this fun idea shared by one teacher can inspire you and hook your kids into reading every day at home too.
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Africa’s plastic bag ban seems to be working, and a STEM challenge idea

My wife and I were fortunate to travel to Africa this past summer. Our itinerary included Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana. We were notified by most of the listed countries when we applied for tourist visas that we were not to bring plastic bags into the country under penalty of heavy fines. This sparked … Read more

Helping Nevada’s Homeless – A 4th grade NGSS STEM Engineering Lesson – an introduction

Last year I was part of a team funded by the Nevada Governor’s Office of Science, Innovation and Technology to provide the first Engineering Fellows Program for 5th grade teachers. The model learning sequence we started the program with was about the issue of plastic pollution, specifically how it effects the ocean. 5th grade students … Read more

Camping Doubles Addition Roll ‘n Cover Game

Teach an easy-to-learn addition game with a cute, camping theme.

Here is a free printable roll and cover game created by a teacher who submitted to our Teaching Blog Addict Ultimate Freebie Celebration. Be sure to visit her blog to get the free download.
We’re excited to share this game with you since it comes with a printable game board ready to go, but also a blank version so you can tweak it to meet your needs.
Let’s look at how to play this Roll and Cover Game and get some ideas for what you can do with the blank template.
How to Play Roll and Cover
This addition game is for 2-3 players. You’ll need a few supplies like: dice and some type of colored counters or manipulatives (linking cubes, chips, etc.).

Students will take turns rolling the die. When they roll, they figure out what the “double” of that number is (so, the double of 2 rolled would be 4) is cover up a piece on the game board that matches.
The fun is that students are competing against each other to get the most pieces on the board!
So they keep playing until all of the marshmallows are covered… and then they tally up which player has the most pieces on the game board.
How to Use Blank Template
This cute roasting marshmallows game comes with a blank template. The teacher designed it so you could also make it work for larger numbers.

Create your own die by drawing on foam cubes from the dollar tree
You could write in your own multiples on the blank sheet and use white sticky labels to create your own die.
Cover up the sides of a die (or get one of those wipe-off kind from the store) with white labels and trim them to fit. Then draw on your own number or dot arrangement using the numbers you want your students to work on.
For example, you could draw dots for the numbers 7-12 on the die. Then simply write in the doubles numbers on the blank template to match.
Or, if you cover up the title you really could use this blank template for practicing just about anything.

Not sure what you’d have them work on? Here are some roll and cover game examples to make it easy on you.
Now, head on over and grab your copy of this Doubles Game for first or second graders…


Free Printable First Day of School Award

Leslie {aka the original Teach Junkie} loves learning new things to make teaching easier and more effective. She enjoys featuring creative classroom fun when she’s not designing teacher shirts, making kindergarten lesson plans or planning her family’s next trip to Disney World.

Cardboard Automata Resource

My friend Kevin Jarrett shared this easy to follow guide to Cardboard Automata from the Exploratorium in San Francisco. It’s a great FREE resource for getting started with making in a fun, creative way. You can easily get started with stuff you probably already have around the house or classroom. Kevin suggests: “Pro tip: print … Read more

High Hopes Balloon Launch May 28, 2019 – Update

In my last post I said I would update on the status of payloads and the recovery. The photo on the end of that post (also see below) showed the payloads hanging in a tree – that was all we knew thanks to Eric Wang – he snapped that photo and sent it to us … Read more

High Hopes Balloon Launch May 28, 2019 – What we know so far!

A highlight of our year is always working with a school or schools to incorporate STEM into launching a high altitude balloon (weather balloon) with student designed payloads attached to altitudes near or above 100,000 feet. Yesterday was no exception, AND we had the extra added excitement around attempting to launch a small rocket from … Read more