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Earth Day Project

This week, my students have been learning about Earth Day.  My students plasticbagpledgeare so excited to be participating in a collaborative project I’m hosting  over at Global Teacher Connect.  My students have signed pledges to not use plastic bags until May, we watched videos of whales sick from swallowing plastic bags, and we talked about why plastic bags are not good for the environment.  Now, my kids run around the playground yelling at students who dared to bring their snack in a plastic bag! 

Please feel free to stop by Project Page to check out the project, or spread the word about the project to other teachers who might be interested.


Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources  


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Looking Through a Kid’s Eyes

I have been using the addition fact quizzes and subtraction fact quizzes with my students for months now.  Most of my students are doing fine, but I have a few who are having trouble, and I couldn’t figure out why.  Then, I gave the quizzes to my son and his first was was, “Mom, why is 2.5 + 2 ?”  I explained to him that the first 2 was the question number, and not part of the problem.  Then, I looked at the quiz harder and realized it did look like 2.5, hmmmmm…..

So, of I went back to my computer to make it more clear.  I fixed the Addition Fact Quizzesquizzes with a simple ) and some spaces, and then gave the new versions to my students – what do you know my struggling students can see the questions better now!  Some are still struggling, but there were definitely some who were getting tripped up on that dot!  Isn’t it amazing what can happen when we look at our resources through the eyes of our students? 

By the way – if you purchased any of my fact quizzes (addition, subtraction or multiplication), from my TPT store, they have all been updated with the clearer problem numbers.

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

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International Day Was Exhausting!

Wow – I knew that International Day was going to be a lot of work, but I didn’t realize I’d be too tired to type!  I got home from the “fun” of International Day yesterday, and was too tired to do anything.  So, I apologize for missing Game Night Friday, but I promise to be back with new Board Game suggestions next week.  BTW – If you have a board game lying around that you’d like suggestions for – please feel free to leave me a comment and I’ll add it to our collection soon.  Scroll down for some pictures of the “fun” we had at International Day – it was actually really fun, all of the parents came, my kids remembered their information, did good in their play (Never Cry Croc – the DRC’s version of the Boy Who Cried Wolf) and looked super cute in their outfits.  Then, we ended it all with a rendition of We Are the World.

In addition to the International Day craziness – I’ve spent all day Everything's Intermediate Expo - English Language Learners Webinarputting the finishing touches on my presentation for the Everything’s Intermediate Expo.  That was something else that was “fun”, but a whole lot of work!  Thankfully, it looks like it’s all coming together well and I think I got in all the information I wanted.  If you haven’t bought a ticket yet – you still have 13 days to pre-order and save $5, so grab your ticket soon!

After all the “fun” I’ve had lately, I’d like to spend the next week in bed, but my kids have convinced me to put a few days at the beach, a trip to the zoo and a trip to the movies on our Spring Break itinerary – so I don’t think that will happen! 


Buffet of Foods from the Democratic Republic of Congo     Student Presentations on the Democratic Republic of Congo


Student Presentations on the Democratic Republic of Congo     Student Created African Masks for Project on the Democratic Republic of Congo


African Savannah Classroom Display     Rainforest Classroom Display with the Congo River

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

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Addition & Subtraction Success

My students have been so hard at work on those addition and subtracaddingeasy1tion fast facts!  We have made a bucket full of flash cards to use in addition to our addition self correcting puzzles and our subtraction self correcting puzzles, and it’s really paid off.  We take our one minute quizzes every day and the kids get so excited when they pass a new level and get to color a new shape.  My door is now becoming very full of stars (for addition) and moons (for subtraction).  I have one student who has mastered them all and is bugging me to finish the multiplication quizzes so she can start earning clouds.  Hopefully I’ll get them done this week!  Here’s some pictures of what we’ve been doing with addition and subtraction.  Grab a FREE copy of the reward system from TPT or Raki’s Shop.

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Preparing for International Day

In just 2 weeks, my class will have International Day, which we have been working on for weeks!  We have been learning about the Democratic Republic of Congo and my students have learned so much!  This week we began to “decorate” our room with sponge painted flags, a “rainforest” and “the Congo river”.  Next week, we’ll practice our play: Never Cry Croc, a DRC version of the Boy Who Cried Wolf.  Here are some pictures for you of what we’ve been up to. 

Don’t forget – there is just one more day to enter the Expo Ticket Giveaway and win 3 FREE tickets to the Everything’s Intermediate Expo!


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What Has Made You a Better Teacher?

Here’s a challenge for you – write a comment telling us what one thing has made you a better teacher.  It’s easier said than done.  One thing that has made me a better teacher is my move to Morocco.  Teaching here has had it’s own special set of challenges – like the fact that my kids only speak English when they are in my class (and sometimes not even then!), but teaching here has also brought it’s own special set of rewards.  I love being able to connect with the background knowledge my students have, and being able to utilize their other languages.  I love that when we look at the globe, they can all point to at least one other country they’ve been 100_5605to.  I love re-looking at my own language through their eyes. 

In addition to being a teacher in Morocco, I am a parent here.  My children don’t go to my school, but to a Moroccan school where they spend half of their day in French and half of their day in Arabic.  They come home for lunch every day.  They have chalkboards, not whiteboards (and definitely not interactive whiteboards) in their classrooms, and almost no books.  The teaching methods are “traditional” to say the least.  But, the teachers are caring and experienced and my children are learning so much!  As a “non-traditional” teacher, it has made me take a step back and remember that schools can look many different ways and have many different programs, but still focus on education children.

Being a “global” teacher has inspired me.  So much so, that I have a new project in the works.  I won’t tell you all the details right now, but be on the look out for something big in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, please take the time to tell me what has changed you as a teacher.


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Solids, Liquids & Gasses

My class has just about finished up our unit on Solids, Liquids & Gasses. statesofmatterbook After our experiments a few weeks ago (click here for details), I made the students a little booklet as way to see how much they actually retained.  They had to draw 6 picture examples of each state of matter.  I was impressed with the examples they came up with.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Solid – house, car, paper, money, banana

Liquid – tears, blood, tea, soup, ocean

Gas – fire, smoke from a train, steam, seeing your breath when it’s cold

Here are a few pages from the books they made:






Grab a FREE copy of the book at my TPT store.


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Skype Pen Pals

This summer, I signed up on a Skype beta project for educators to connect with other educators via Skype.  Through this forum, I was connected to a teacher named Ms. Keenan in Maine who knew that her class would be studying Morocco this year.  As I was headed for Morocco, I was quite excited by this possibility.  We exchanged a lot of emails and talked about what we were going to do.  We decided to exchange questions and set up a Skype date.  It took a bunch of planning, but the results were awesome!


First, Ms. Kennan’s class sent my class a list of questions.  Some of their questions included:

– What food do you eat?

– Have you ever been to the desert?

– What animals live near your house?

– Are there any churches near your school?

My kids had a great time answer their questions.  We shared with them that we live in the city and don’t see much of the desert, although lots ofmosque morocco my kids have been on vacation in desert areas.  We told them about the donkeys and horses that we see on the street, along with wild cats.  We told them about hearing the call for prayer from the mosque, but not knowing where the closest church is.  My kids shared their list of favorite foods which included cous cous and tagines, but was also full of foods like spaghetti, french fries and hotdogs!


Then, my class sent Ms. Keenan’s class our own list of questions:  Some of the questions my kids came up with her:

– What languages do you speak?

– What games do you play?

– Do you build snowmen?

– What do you bring for snack?

Ms. Kennan’s class sent back their answers and my class was thrilled. skype3 They loved hearing about how her students build snow forts and played Wii.  They loved hearing that they are learning Spanish at school and eat cookies and goldfish for snack.  It was great for the kids to understand that these kids did the same things they do.


Finally, the date was set and we had our Skype date.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a projector, so my class simply sat in front of my laptop.  It worked out very well.  Ms. Kennan’s class taught us a song.  We taught them a song and how to count to 10 in the Moroccan dialect of Arabic.  Then the students got to ask each other questions.  One of my favorite moments was when one of my students said “Hey, they aren’t wearing uniforms!”  Overall, it was a great experience, and I’m so glad we were able to help Ms. Keenan’s class learn a little about Morocco.  Now I’m looking for a class in the Democratic Republic of Congo to do the same to help my class for International Day!

Here are some pictures of the Skype event:

 In Morocco




In USA (Maine)




This was such a great experience for my class and a great chance to use technology, that I just had to share!



What a Week!!!!

I knew that it was going to be a crazy week when I figured out that Valentine’s Day and the 100th Day of School fell on the same day!  So, what did I do?  I turned it into “Fun Week”, threw all the rules out the window and had one crazy week!!  It was fun, but wow am I ready to return to normal next week.  Then, with all the chaos, this was the week that my camera died and I can’t find the charger, and I’m sorry I didn’t capture the moments.  Here’s what my class did this week:

Monday – Valentine’s Day

Yes, I know that Tuesday was actually Valentine’s Day, but the 100th Day of School fell on Tuesday and my 1st graders thought it was way more important to celebrate the 100th day on the 100th day than Valentine’s on February 14th!

So, on Monday, the kids made Valentine’s for their parents and we worked through the Valentine’s Day Center packet.  (Grab it free for next year if you’d like.)  The favorite center was Happy Heart Patterns, and I was excited to see how many of them have finally mastered those patterns (I guess all that work is starting to pay off).  

valentinesday packet






At the end of the day we had our party, complete with cherry cheesecake, cookies and candies – wow was I sugar high!!!


Tuesday – 100th Day of School

For the 100th Day of School, I tried to get my kids to come dressed as if they were 100.  Only 2 participated, but they all loved my “grey” hair (made with gel and baby powder).

In the morning, we took their 100 things and made the number 100.  This took WAY longer than planned, as so many of them brought in really BIG things, like napkins and straws!

Then, we worked through our 100th Day center packets.  I totally expected the base ten blocks mosaic to be the favorite center, but they actually liked the hidden picture (heart hidden in a 100’s chart) better!

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We have music at the end of the day on Tuesdays, so that saved me from another party.

Wednesday – Science Day on Solids, Liquids & Gasses

Our newest science topic is Solids, Liquids and Gasses, so we spent all day Wednesday exploring this topic.The students even brought in their own solids, liquids and gasses to add to our centers – and boy did they get creative!

We spent most of the day “observing” and making “hypothesis” on if each item was a solid, liquid or a gas.  We used our Science Discovery Journals to do this.  Then, we melted ice with a hair dryer and created gas by mixing vinegar and baking soda.  The kids loved this!!


After, we watched some YouTube videos on solids, liquids and gasses, we went outside to play with bubbles (after making hypothesises about if they were solids, liquids, or gasses of course!)

My favorite part of the day was watching my kids walk around at recess and lunch saying “Hey, this is a solid.” or “Ms. Raki is my yogurt a liquid or a solid?”

Thursday – Story Day

After all the excitement of the early week, I really needed a break, so on Thursday, we read all day!  Seriously we read for about 40 minutes in the morning, then we went to the library and talked about which books were the best ones to check out.

In the afternoon, we went to the computer lab and wrote our own stories using – a website I just love!

Then, in the afternoon, I read two chapters of our latest read aloud, Magic Tree House #2 – the Knight at Dawn.

Great easy day!

Friday – Democratic Republic of Congo Day

In April, our school does an International Day, where each classroom takes a country and learns about them.  This year, my class is studying the Democratic Republic of Congo, because I have a student from there.  So, on Friday, we started doing our “research”.

For homework, I had the students find one fact about DRC, and we used those facts to start a KWL chart.  Then, the students came up with a list of questions.  (My favorite was if everyone in the Congo had their skin “burnt” by the sun – insert quick, simple lesson on race being genetic.) 

My student from DRC’s mom came in and did a fantastic interview with my kids, answering all of our questions, and giving us a lot of information.



Then, my kids started completing their Democratic Republic of Congo book.  (I uploaded it into Google Docs, just in case you might be doing a similar project.)  I was quite impressed with what they learned, and I’m excited about the rest of the project.



Read the Word Wall Center

How do you use your Word Wall?  One of my students’ favorite things to do is to read our word wall.  Our word wall is HUGE –  200 sight wordreadtherooms and about 150 word family words, plus shape words, color words, number words and the kids’ names, so we’re talking about close to 500 words.  My kids are challenging each other right now to see who 100_6170can read more of it.  (Mainly because I’m offering a lollipop to any student who can read the whole thing at the end of the year.)  When we started reading the word wall, I used this sheet to help them record a few of the words that they could read.  At the end of centers, I choose one or two students (always randomly) to read their sheet to me.  It’s a great way to monitor a Read the Room type of center!  I uploaded the sheet into Google Docs, so feel free to grab a copy for FREE.



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