First Friday Freebie: A World of Pure Imagination

I love using visual prompts with my writing students. Pictures help to spark their imagination and get the creative juices flowing.

This month’s freebie is a visual prompt I was inspired to create as I saw a rainbow while driving home one day.

rainbow prompt

In addition to creating my own, I have also found the Write About site to be a wonderful resource for visual writing prompts, especially for free-writing and journaling purposes. There are so many categories to choose from (such as Adventure & Fantasy, Culture, Hobbies & Fun, Places, Seasonal, and Technology) that I can almost always find something that fits my purpose. Prompts can easily be sorted by category and grade, and many offer an added auditory option as well.

I would love to hear about other sources for visual writing prompts. Do you ever have your students create these or take/find their own pictures to write about? That could be a fun part of the creative process too!

Picture Book 10 for 10: My Top Ten Favorite Books About Community

I am excited to participate in this year’s Picture Book 10 for 10 hosted by Mandy Robek of Enjoy and Embrace Learning and Cathy Mere of Reflect & Refine: Building a Learning Community.

Here’s my list of ten books to share with students as you work to build and strengthen your classroom community throughout the year:


One of my new favorite picture books is Because You Are My Teacher written by Sherry North and illustrated by Marcellus Hall. Throughout this story, the students experience wondrous adventures together as they learn about the world – a learning community at its finest.


Hooray for Diffendoofer Day by Dr. Seuss, Jack Prelusky, & Lane Smith also helps to reinforce the idea of community and its importance in our learning as students and teachers work together to meet their goals.


Each time I read the book Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney, I am inspired by Alice’s dedication to her dreams and her quest to make the world more beautiful. She learns the meaning and value of community in her travels and at home.


The Mitten by Jan Brett is a fun reminder that community members need to share and look out for one another.


The Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord is another book that helps students focus on the idea of what a community is. In this story it takes a village to succeed, through cooperation and each person using his/her unique abilities and resources.


Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes illustrates what can happen when there are problems in communities as well as what can happen when those differences are resolved. Communities are strongest when everyone feels valued.


Nora the Nonapus, written and illustrated by fifth-grade students of Estes Hills Elementary in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, provides some unique insights into the feelings various members in our community may have. It covers the insecurities and embarrassment that often come from being “different,” how bullying hurts others, and the bravery it takes to stand up and do what is right.


Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox is another favorite. In this story, community is created as a young boy takes time to listen and learn about the people around him, building friendships and sharing memories along the way.


Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin is another story that illustrates the importance of sharing our skills and talents with those around us. Just like snowflakes, we are all different. Bentley’s community (and the world!) was blessed by his love of snowflakes through the research and pictures he shared.


The Impossible Patriotism Project by Linda Skeers is a favorite book to share around President’s Day. However, its message is fitting during any time of year. It’s important to remember those missing from our communities. Communication is key to keeping those bonds strong.

And there you have it, my (current) top ten, which I am sure will change the next time I discover a new favorite book. 🙂

What stories do you like to share with your students to help the community building process in your classroom?

First Friday Freebie #9: Flower Seeds and Lifelong Dreams

Each time I read the book Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney, I am inspired by Alice’s dedication to her dreams and her quest to make the world more beautiful.

Over the years, these themes have quite naturally become a part of the way my classes commemorate Patriot Day, September 11th. Although young students today have no personal memories of that event, they can still join others in service and work to promote beauty, happiness, and good in the world.

This month’s freebie is an activity based on the story of Miss Rumphius to help students identify practical ways they can change the world for the better.

Click here or on the picture below for a pdf of the activity: includes directions, worksheet, templates, and examples of completed display.



See previous September 11th posts for other books, activities, and resources.

First Friday Freebie #8: Whether Far or Near, Friends are Dear

Building friendships and community is a big focus at the beginning of the school year as classes are formed and begin the year-long journey of learning together. A story that shares a unique perspective of friendship is Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Lynn Williams. This book, based upon a true story, tells about two girls in a refugee camp who decide to share a pair of sandals even after their lives take them in very different directions. Bonding over shared experiences as well as footwear provides a foundation for a deep and lasting friendship.

How do your students define the word “friends”? This month’s First Friday Freebie provides an opportunity for them to brainstorm how friends should act towards each other.

Get the free graphic organizer here.



For more ideas, check out Williams Writes, author Karen Lynn Williams’ website, where you can find a teacher’s guide for this story, see a picture of the sandals that inspired the book, and learn more about the author.

First Friday Freebie #4: Action Verbs

When the Fly Flew In, written by Lisa Westberg Peters and illustrated by Brad Sneed, is another one of my favorite books. Full of descriptive action verbs and imagery, this story takes readers on a ride as a fly unknowingly assists a young boy in cleaning his room.

Use this free worksheet I created to help your students identify action verbs for each animal in the story (click here for pdf file).


additional resources:

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I’ve also added another set of Daily Visual Challenges to my TpT store. First person to contact me gets a free copy.


Olive and other Miss Takes

Misunderstandings can lead to all kinds of trouble, embarrassment, and (thankfully!) occasionally adventure, but they are not something that we want to abound in the classroom.

Miss Alaineus: A Vocabulary Disaster by Debra Frasier illustrates the importance of both correct spelling and comprehension when learning new vocabulary. It’s a great story to open up the lines of communication with your students and encourage them to seek help when in doubt. It also shows how initiative and creativity can aid the learning process.

book resources:

Scholastic – Miss Alaineus lesson plan (K-5th)

ReadWriteThink – Learning to Learn with Miss Alaineus: A Vocabulary Disaster (3rd-5th)

slideshow introducing vocabulary, strategy and skill (5th)

McGraw-Hill – interactive online activities

Creating Vocabularians: Word Connoisseursstrategies for strengthening students’ vocabulary and celebrating words

*in case you’re wondering where the blog post title comes from 🙂

First Friday Freebie

Happy New Year!

This year I am going to be adding a new feature to the blog. My First Friday Freebie will appear the first Friday of each month and provide you with some type of lesson, activity, and/or printable to help you incorporate more visual literacy into your classroom.

Adjective Comparisons

You can download my first First Friday Freebie here. “Adjective Comparison” is a language arts activity for grades 2-4 and is aligned to the 3rd Grade CCSS ELA-Literacy.L.3.1g. It includes activities to teach the positive, comparative, and superlative degrees.

This activity can be used along with the book Things that are most in the world by Judi Barrett to provide students with visual ways to think about and understand comparisons. I love the silly illustrations and the ways this book makes you think about comparisons. Can you think of anything that would be smellier than a skunk convention?!

Extension activities are included with ideas about how to integrate this language arts activity with a science lesson using sites like Extreme Science, The Travel Almanac, and Guinness World Records.

Have fun learning and comparing!