From the Backyard to the Galaxy, Get Out-of-This-World Resources and More! Plus Win 3 Bug-Themed Books

Posted by on 22 May 2015 | Posted in: Beach Lane Books, Contests, Elmer's, Freebies, HarperCollins, International Literacy Association, Running Press Kids, Simon & Schuster, SmileTrain, Ticktock, Websites

Do you find bugs “bee-autiful” or alien-ish? Or maybe, like me, you’re fascinated by them but from a distance? I have three bug-themed books that you could net plus free resources, help for struggling readers, and more!

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Submit a comment to the blog by 11:59 pm EDT Sunday, June 7, 2015, to tell me which resources are your favorites. One lucky teacher will win three bug-themed books plus their extras! Check out the buzzing, gliding, hopping bugs in Some Bugs; then grab the accompanying net and magnifying glass for some backyard bug exploration. In Butterfly Park, a young girl inspires her entire town to plant flowers that will attract butterflies. (The inside of the book jacket doubles as a flower identification poster!) Then let the battle begin in Bug Wars: Deadly Insects and Spiders Go Head-to-Head. It profiles fearsome insects and spiders and features realistic illustrations.

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From bugs to aliens, even reluctant readers in grades 3–7 will be eager to take on the newest Galaxy’s Most Wanted book, Into the Dorkness. With a full-blown, intergalactic war brewing, kid genius Kevin Brewer and his friends must defend Earth from vengeful alien invaders. Check out the book here. Then click here by May 29, 2015, for your chance to win this book.
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Do you have students who struggle with reading? Get help with Struggling Readers: Engaging and Teaching in Grades 3–8. This idea-filled, comprehensive resource explores the multifaceted nature of struggling readers, provides practical approaches to teaching, and details the roles that motivation and engagement play. Put its practical ideas to use in your classroom. Click here.

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Your students could learn about important themes such as social justice and giving back while giving a new beginning to a child in a developing country—changing that child’s life forever. Smile Train has free service-based lesson plans for grades K–12 that teach about specific countries where children benefit from Smile Train’s free cleft surgery. The lessons explore multiculturalism, diet, narrative writing, and more. Get them here.

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If you have a colleague or student who makes the world a better place through meaningful service to your school or community, nominate them for the Elmer Award. Recipients demonstrate Empathy, Leadership, Mentorship, Enthusiasm, Responsibility, and Service. Two students and one teacher will be recognized. Find the nomination form here.

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Don’t forget, submit a comment for your chance to win the three books!

Karen

PS: Have you entered for a chance to win Bayou Magic yet? It’s easy! Just go to “From the Bayou—Be Part of a Magical 200 Book Giveaway!” and tell us why the book is perfect for your students. 200 teachers will win!


Mercy! You Could Win a Set of Kate DiCamillo Books! Plus Cash, Books, and Free Resources Are Up for Grabs

Posted by on 19 May 2015 | Posted in: Amazon, Cabot Creamery, Candlewick Press, Contests, Freebies, HarperCollins, Websites

How would you like to win a full set of Kate DiCamillo’s six Mercy Watson books plus get the Teachers’ Guide for the series? You have the chance to win this as well as prizes that include cash, cheese, books, and more!

Submit a comment to the blog by 11:59 pm EDT Sunday, May 31, 2015, to tell me which resources are your favorites. One lucky teacher will win the six Mercy Watson books and a printed Teachers’ Guide. Mercy, a butter-loving pig, is the star of The New York Times best-selling Mercy Watson series by Newbery medalist DiCamillo and award-winning illustrator Chris Van Dusen. Use the series and the 20-page teachers’ guide to address the learning needs of grades K–3 students. And yes, the guide’s ideas and activities are linked to specific Common Core standards. Eager to get your hands on it? Download the guide here! Then visit the Mercy Watson website here.

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Cowabunga! Time is running out to enter for a chance to win a grand prize of $500 use-it-however-you-wish cash. One runner-up will win a year’s worth of Cabot cheese, and ten more lucky teachers will each win Cabot cheese gift packs. Plus you won’t want to miss the free teacher resources: preschool units and grades K–5 Common Core–aligned activities and skill pages. They’re absolutely “moovelous”! Click here to get it all. Don’t wait; this opportunity ends May 31, 2015.

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Are your students ready to read? Then enter the Class Acts: Best in Class 2015 Book Giveaway for a chance to be one of 50 teachers to win 20 copies of a new HarperCollins title. Plus you can download free Common Core–aligned activities for titles such as Ferals, A Tale of Two Castles, Stick Dog, and more! Enter and download your free activities here.
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Here’s a freebie that can keep students focused on math this summer. Amazon is making its TenMarks Summer Math Program available to students at no cost. This national adaptive math program helps maintain and build skills for students finishing grade 1 through algebra 2. Click here to learn more and to download customized emails and flyers for families.

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Don’t forget; submit a comment so you have a chance to win the Mercy Watson books.

Karen


From the Bayou—Be Part of a Magical 200 Book Giveaway!

Posted by on 15 May 2015 | Posted in: Contests, Freebies, Hachette, Little Brown Books for Young Readers

***Sponsored by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers***

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If only Maddy sees the mermaid, can it be real?

Find out—and enter for a chance to win an advanced-reader copy of Bayou Magic, a brand-new book from award-winning author Jewell Parker Rhodes. Two hundred lucky teachers (yes, you read that right, 200!) will win. So enter now and tell all your colleagues!

Here’s how to enter: simply read the Q&A with the author below and submit a comment on our blog by 11:59 pm EDT on May 31, 2015, to let us know why Jewell’s books are perfect for your students. We’ll randomly select 200 lucky teachers to win. Please note, to be entered into the contest, you must include your full name, mailing address, and your school’s name with your comment so we can send you your book if you win. Your name and address will not be posted with your comment nor will they be saved; we are asking for these simply so we can mail you your book.

In this book, it’s Maddy’s turn to have a bayou summer. At first, she misses life back home in the city, but soon she grows to love everything about her new surroundings—the glimmering fireflies; the glorious landscape; and something else, deep within the water, that only Maddy sees. Could it be a mermaid? As her grandmother shares wisdom about sayings and signs, Maddy realizes she may be the only sibling to carry on her family’s magical legacy. And when a disastrous oil leak threatens the bayou, she knows she may also be the only one who can help. Does she have what it takes to be a hero?
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Bayou Magic is the third book in what Jewell calls her Louisiana Girls trilogy. Included in the trilogy are Ninth Ward, a Coretta Scott King honor book, and Sugar, winner of the Jane Addams Peace Association Children’s book award. Discover ways to incorporate all Jewell’s books in your classroom using these handy educator guides. Visit her online at JewellParkerRhodes.com.

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You wrote award-winning books for adults before you started writing for children. What inspired you to start writing for children? What challenges and rewards are there in writing for children?

I’ve always wanted to write for children. Writing for adults helped me practice my craft but I never stopped studying children’s literature and exploring ideas. After four decades of serious writing and experiencing the heartache of Hurricane Katrina, I, finally, heard a girl’s brave voice and began writing Ninth Ward. The challenge is to remain emotionally truthful. My reward is visiting schools and reading children’s letters.

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You’ve written about Louisiana in your adult fiction and also in your middle-grade novel, Ninth Ward, about Hurricane Katrina, and in Bayou Magic, which deals with the oil spill disaster—and you’ve written with such affection. What connection do you have to Louisiana?

In my first creative writing class, the professor said, “Write what you know.” I wanted to write what I could imagine. So, I went home; pulled my Time-Life Creole and Acadian cookbook off the shelf; and, inspired, wrote a story rooted in Louisiana culture. I’m actually a Pennsylvania/California girl. But Louisiana profoundly stirs my heart, mind, and spirit.

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Ninth Ward, Sugar, and Bayou Magic feature such wonderful grandmother figures. Was your own grandmother an inspiration for these characters? What did she have in common with Maddy’s grandmère?

My grandmother raised me and taught me southern folklore and traditions. Besides being a minister’s wife, she was also a hoodoo healer. She “mothered” our entire community. Maddy’s Grandmère is most like my grandmother, and her sayings are actual quotes my grandmother spoke to me. Mama Ya-Ya (Ninth Ward) and Mrs. Beale (Sugar) are elders who honor my grandmother’s caregiving and love.

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I had never heard of the Mami Wata. How did you decide to include her in Maddy’s story?

African diaspora tales are often lost or left untold. The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art featured an exhibit of 500 years of Mami Wata incarnations in Brazil, the US, Africa, and the Caribbean. Literature teaches culture. I want girls of color to know there are heroic mermaids that mirror them. I want all girls to know there are diverse, global mermaid tales that depart from the western trope of a mermaid transforming herself for a prince.

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You travel all over the world teaching creative writing to students of all ages, and you teach writing at Arizona State University as well. How do you find time to do your own writing? What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

For me, consistent writing, in small doses, makes a novel. If I waited to have more time, I’d never write. It also helps that I only write stories that I feel passionate about, so I’ve never experienced writer’s block. For aspiring writers, I’d urge them to honor their voice and the process. A writer writes. Every writer’s process is different. “Find yours.”

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Are you planning a return to Louisiana in your next book for children? I’d love to see more of Maddy, Bear, and Grandmère. What other writing projects are in your future?

My next project is Towers Falling, and it’s about Dèjà who discovers how her life has been impacted by the 9/11 New York terrorist attacks. As always, my writing follows my heart. I’m open to voices, characters that appear like ghosts when I’m doing the dishes or dreaming. I suspect Louisiana will haunt me again.

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There is plenty of folk magic in Maddy’s story—Mami Wata and the mermaids, the fireflies—but I think the real magic of the story lies in Maddy’s bravery. What was the inspiration for Maddy’s character?

None of my Louisiana girls are based on real characters—I hear a voice, and I follow. The first line is very important. Maddy announces, “My name is Madison Isabelle Lavalier Johnson.” That sentence was my gateway. As I wrote, I was astounded at how different and special Maddy was—how her rhythm was slower, more thoughtful than Lanesha or Sugar. Maddy is a courageous girl. Does she exist? Of course, she does. While unique to my book, Maddy channels girls everywhere.

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Don’t forget, you can WIN a copy of Bayou Magic by submitting a comment to  say why these books are perfect for your students. Send your comment right now. Two hundred teachers will WIN! Good luck!

Karen


Year-End Excitement? Exhaustion? Both? Get Free Resources and Chances to Win to Help! Plus Win Two Books

Posted by on 11 May 2015 | Posted in: American Egg Board, Contests, Freebies, HarperCollins, International Literacy Association, Sleeping Bear Press, Sterling Publishing, Studies Weekly, Websites, Wikki Stix

What’s in your plan book these days? I feel pretty safe guessing that it’s loaded with end-of-the-year activities and celebrations. Are you excited? Exhausted? A little bit of both? Don’t worry! I’ve found some free resources and chances to win to help you finish the school year and look forward to summer with a smile!

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Submit a comment to the blog by 11:59 pm EDT Sunday, May 24, 2015, to tell me which resources below are your favorites. One lucky teacher will win two books to wind down the school year and look ahead to the adventures of summer vacation. In Lizzie and the Last Day of School, Lizzie is dismayed when the best school year ever ends. Can summer school be the answer for both Lizzie and her teacher? Then in Rufus Goes to Sea, Rufus dreams of being a pirate during summer vacation. However, this adventure-seeking, book-loving pig must prove he’s pirate material first.

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Here’s something new to add to the year-end “eggcitement.” You could be the grand-prize winner of $500 cash and an egg-themed prize pack when you enter the Good Egg Sweepstakes. Three runners-up will each win $100 and egg-themed swag. Plus download free resources: preschool units, grades K–9 Common Core–aligned ideas and worksheets, certificates, and more! Get it all here.

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The school year is winding down, and so is your chance to enter to win $500 in the Bright Ideas in History sweepstakes. Twenty-five runners-up will each win a class set of 30 Studies Weekly subscriptions. Check out the free short video on inventors and inventions (your students are sure to giggle at the old fashioned phones); then choose your state and grade level to see sample weekly units. But hurry; this sweepstakes ends May 31, 2015. Click here now!

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Do your students’ summer plans include trips to a beach? When Chu, the sneezing panda, heads to the beach with his family in Chu’s Day at the Beach, he sneezes so forcefully he separates the left half of the ocean from the right! Get your class on sneeze alert with this fun read and download free printable classroom activities to go with the book. Click here.

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“Travel” can begin before school lets out with this interactive book that serves as a hands-on sightseeing tour. Adventures Across America With Andy in the Wikki Stix Fun Truck! teaches ages 3 and up about the USA, from the Golden Gate Bridge to New York City and places in between. The sturdy board book comes with 36 Wikki Stix. It provides fine-motor skill activities for younger students and is also ideal for those with special needs. Learn more here.

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Here’s one stop you may want on your calendar.
The International Literacy Association’s 2015 Conference & Exhibits will be in St. Louis from July 18–20, 2015. With more than 300 sessions and attracting more than 6,000 literacy educators, it offers endless opportunities to network and work together to solve illiteracy. Find out more and register here.

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Don’t forget; post a comment to tell me which of these finds are your favorites for a chance to win the two books.

Karen


We Appreciate You! Soak Up the Gratitude and Win, Win, Win! Plus Pledge Support to Animals and More

Posted by on 04 May 2015 | Posted in: American Humane Association, Barker Creek, Contests, Disney Publishing Worldwide, Elmer's, Freebies, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Penguin, Time Timer, Websites

Let me be among the first to tell you—I am immensely grateful for your hard work, dedication, compassion, and know-how during this Teacher Appreciation Week and throughout the year. That’s one reason I work so hard to bring you free resources and chances to win to help you in your classroom. Read on to see how you can win cash, gift cards, prize packs, and more!

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Submit a comment to the blog by 11:59 pm EDT Sunday, May 17, 2015, to tell me which resources below are your favorites. One lucky teacher will win a 12-inch Time Timer and a pack of classy yet fun file folders. The Time Timer can help you in your classroom, during team meetings, or anywhere else you want to manage time. Use it with your students to promote efficient use of time, encourage independence, manage time, or simply master the concept of time. Show the visual depiction only or add the optional audible signal. Then use these black and white dots file folders—there are 12 of them in the pack—to organize with pizzazz. They’re reversible and feature a jazzy new tab design to make them easy to label.  (Update: congratulations to Kelly, who is the winner of our prize.)

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What else do you have a chance to win? Check these out!

WIN! Intriguing—you could win a $500 Barnes & Noble gift card and autographed copies of all five books in John Grisham’s Theodore Boone series in the Theodore Boone Book Giveaway sweepstakes. Four runners-up will each win a signed copy of Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer. The books in this series combine mystery, realistic fiction, and informational text, making them ideal for class book studies. There’s more. Download the free, newly updated teacher’s guide for the series, with lessons and activities aligned to standards. Click here!

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WIN! Enter for a chance to win a $500 gift card from Office Depot OfficeMax. Five runners-up will each win a $50 gift card. You’ll appreciate the free resources that are perfect for the end of the school year—awards, organization ideas, setting the stage for summer, and more! Get it all here.
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WIN! Get free teacher guides and enter to be the lucky teacher to win 30 copies of the book of the month for your grade level from Disney Publishing Worldwide. The featured books for May are Stay Close to Mama, Jack’s Path of Courage: The Life of John F. Kennedy, and Tales from the Odyssey,
Part 1
. Enter here.

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WIN! Glue sticks, glitter glue pens, Board Mate paper letters, and more—you could be a winner of a prize pack valued at over $250 in the Elmer’s Makes Learning Stick sweepstakes. You have six chances to win. Plus get free curriculum-based activities that are sure to wow your students. Get wowed here!
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This week is also another special week— it’s the 100th anniversary of Be Kind to Animals Week. Download free resources to teach kids about animals and that animals must be treated with respect, kindness, and compassion. Take the kindness pledge and present your students with certificates recognizing their commitment. Then spread the word beyond your classroom with tips for helping parents nurture their child’s compassion for the welfare of animals. Get the free resources here.

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Don’t forget; submit a comment for your chance to win the file folders and Time Timer.

Forever grateful for all you do,

Karen

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