Category Archives: Read Aloud

Enter to Win A New Middle Grades Read: “Elora of Stone”

Elora of Stone, written by Canadian author Jaime Lee Mann, is the first in her Legend of Rhyme Series. Aimed at children in the middle grades, this book is fantasy, magic and fairytale combined into one. Her descriptive language paints a picture for the reader, making it a really enjoyable read! This, together with the twists and turns of the story will have your kids hooked!



From a teacher’s standpoint this would be a great mentor text to have in your classroom, as it is filled with descriptive language and wonderful word choice to use as models for your students. This novel would also be a great read aloud, and there are discussion questions at the back of Elora of Stone, which is a nice touch.

A bit about the book?

When four-year-old Asher Caine vanishes while playing near the woods with his twin sister Ariana, his family is convinced that he is gone forever. In the Kingdom of Falmoor, twins are cursed. Since the evil sorcerer Larque turned the good witch Elora to stone, all twins in the Kingdom are doomed to separate, either through death or mysterious disappearances.

When Ariana later learns that her brother is alive, she knows that must find him in order to save Falmoor. With their magic blood and powerful bond, the Caine twins must release Elora from her stone imprisonment. Only then will Larque be stopped from spreading darkness throughout the kingdom. Will the twins find each other in time? Can they save Falmoor from evil and remove the curse of the twins forever? You’ll have to read to find out!

elora of stone

Want to win a copy of Elora of Stone? Three lucky readers will win a signed copy of the book for their classrooms, as well as the option of having a live chat with the author for you and your students! Good luck, and also watch for installment #2 in the Legend of Rhyme series, Into Coraira, which comes out in May. elora of stone2

a Rafflecopter giveaway

An excerpt from the first novel in the Legend of Rhyme series, Elora of Stone

With one grimy green hand, Grimblerod reaches up into the thin white roots of the plants above. His other hand steadies the candle near eye level. The roots are twisted in knots, curling into each other, clinging to the dirt like tiny gnarled fists. Grimblerod pinches two long dirty fingers around a juicy grub.

Bringing his fingers to his face, Grimblerod studies the grub more closely in the candlelight. Satisfied with his prize, he pulls a leather drawstring pouch from the pocket of his tattered trousers and plops the grub inside.

Grimblerod’s stomach twists with hunger, but he has work to do. His candle is close to burning out, and beads of melted wax drip onto his hand leaving bumpy yellow trails along his skin. He has just enough light to get to the opening in the tree.

He grunts as he trudges along, piercing the deafening silence with snorts and other impolite sounds. Once he reaches the opening, Grimblerod blows out his candle and sets it down. He then shimmies his fat little body up a slender brown root into the fresh night air.

After surfacing, Grimblerod shields his eyes against the light of the full moon. Instinctively, he checks his feet, ensuring that he is still in goblin form.

The sound of crickets drowns out his rumbling stomach, and the glow of the moon guides him through the dark.

A thick, white mist creeps along, hiding him from sight. A gentle breeze rustles the leaves on the giant tree making them tremble in the night.

As he waddles along, an owl cries out in the dark. One might say it was a warning to the villagers of Rhyme of the evil acts about to occur.

It is the type of setting the best nightmares start with, and tonight, a mother’s most unspeakable dream will come true.


Elora of Stone

On with the book club: What makes a person admirable?

Continuing on with our book club in Language Arts today, we discussed what personality traits make someone admirable. Again, the theme of our book club is “This is who I am” and all of the novels have main characters who display “admirable traits” and strength of character in some way.

I had students write what they thought were admirable traits on the board and here is what they had to say:Book club continued: What makes a person admirable? star photo


-Really cute

-Good singer

-High self esteem


-Make sacrifices for others

-Good personality



-An awesome actor

-Helps me with my basketball playing



-Sets a goal and works toward it



-Patient… and a few others…

We had an excellent discussion on the traits that they came up with, and then worked on trying to narrow our list down to 5 main traits.

Can someone be admirable and also be a horrible singer? Yes, of course – so we took “good singer” off of the board. Can you be admirable without a good sense of humor? Yep! So that “funny” was gone.

We worked our way through the list and finally decided on a few key characteristics that would make someone admirable:

They are kind, set a goal and work toward it, and make sacrifices for others.

The best part is that the class basically hit the nail on the head! The traits that they decided on are ones that the main characters in the novels display. Score! I love it when that happens – everything coming together the way it’s supposed to. They are already making connections all over the place and we’re only two days in. They’re connecting our read aloud, Firegirl, to the anticipation guide that we did on Friday and to the main character that we read about in our last read aloud, Shot at Dawn: World War I. Love it! Super pumped for when they actually get into their book club groups with their own independent novels which will be Session 5… and we’re entering Session 3 tomorrow.

Wish me luck! We’re on to a shared reading piece tomorrow about Myers-Briggs and personality inventories – should be interesting!

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Uncharted Territory…Starting My First Book Club (and an Amazing Giveaway!)

We started our book club yesterday! This is my first one ever (and so I may be asking for advice) but I think the kids are really going to love it! I know what you’re thinking: Why did you launch it on a Friday? That’s another story for another time.

Anyhow, the book club that goes with our grade 7 Language Arts program is themed  “This is Who I Am”. It’s all about the type of person you are, how who you are is reflected in choices that you make and how your personality can sometimes be altered by critical and pivotal points in your life. Perfectly suited for grade 7 – it even fits right along with some of our Health outcomes on choices and friendships.

The read aloud for the book club is Firegirl. It’s not filled with a lot of twists and turns, or complicated story lines. It’s a very basic story about friendship and strength character. A girl joins a class mid-year to be closer to the hospital for her treatments, as she was in a horrible accident and has disfiguring burns. The way the students in the class act toward her is very telling of their character.

I think that it was a great choice for the read aloud for a few reasons, but its simplicity is one of them. I think a lot of my students will see themselves or their classmates in the main characters in the novel. And, at the very least, they must consider what they would do if placed into the same situation. What kind of friend would they be? Would they be brave enough to befriend someone who everyone else avoids? It should be interesting and I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going.

What do you think is the most challenging part of running book clubs? What should I be aware of?


Okay – switching gears…

I also have some pretty exciting news for you…An awesome giveaway by Teacher’s Notebook begins today, Jan. 5th and runs until Jan 31st. It’s simple to enter and the winner will receive their choice of an iPad Mini, a Kindle Fire HD or a Nook HD. How amazing would that be? You can enter each day between now and the end of the month – so be sure to take a couple of minutes to get yourself entered! If I win, I want the iPad Mini!


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Add Improv into Your Classroom with This Holiday Freebie

My students are very vocal and energetic this year. Many are hands-on learners as well, and they love activities where they can get out of their seats. Rather than fight this, I’ve been trying to embrace it and to draw on those strengths and learning preferences.

Well, Christmas is quickly approaching and you know what that means! The holidays (for me, anyways) mean more chatting, more restlessness, and energy levels reach a new high. Monday mornings are like Friday afternoons, if you know what I’m saying. So, knowing that this is what lies ahead for the next month, I’ve been trying to think of some activities that I can do with my students to incorporate their excitement for the upcoming holiday, while still covering the curriculum that I am responsible to cover.

Not too long ago, I posted about an excellent book that I found (CCSS aligned) about teaching literary elements with picture books. I mentioned in that post about a “Point of View” improv activity from the book, that I was excited to try with my students. Since writing that post, I have done the activity and as expected, they ate it up! So, I decided to take the idea and add a holiday twist.

For this improv activity, students put themselves into a character’s position and speak from their point of view. It helps students identify point of view in what they read and to take on different points of view in their own writing. It also builds their skills with the writing trait of “voice”.

Adding Improv Into Your Classroom…

Improv is not for everyone and it’s definitely not for all students. However, if you think this would be up your students’ alley, this is what you need to do!

Create some scenarios for students on cards, much like in the game Charades. These scenarios can be as creative as you like (this is where you add a holiday twist) and call the student to speak from a unique point of view.

A volunteer chooses a card, reads it out loud and then speaks from the point of view dictated by the card.

Here are two examples:

Point of View Improv scene

Point of View Improv scene

Most of my students love being in front of an audience and so activities like this are perfect for them. I know that they are not necessarily everyone’s cup of tea. However, with the Christmas season upon us and energy levels on the rise, I’ll be saving this holiday version of the improv activity that they loved, for a time when they need to get out of their seats and be a little silly.

Following this improv activity, students can work with a partner to create their own improv scenes for Christmas. They could act out these scenes or even choose one to inspire a short creative writing piece. I have a freebie in my TPT Store, if you have a class like mine, that would thrive on this type of kinesthetic activity and I’ve done all of the work for you. Point of View Improv Activity


Laura Candler of “Corkboard Connections” is hosting a Holiday Learning Link-Up. This is an awesome collection of holiday teaching ideas, tips and resources to make your holiday season the best yet! Christmas is just a month away, now. Be sure to check out this link-up if fresh ideas for your classroom is on your Christmas wish list!

Thanks for all of your hard work in putting this link-up together, Laura.


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 For more freebies- check out TBA’s Freebie Friday!

Freebie Fridays

Using Picture Books to Teach Literary Elements in Middle School – A Great Find and CCSS Aligned

I’m super excited about the book that I just got Using Picture Books to Teach 8 Essential Literary Elements: An Annotated Bibliography of More Than 100 Books With Model Lessons to Deepen Students’ Comprehension. What a mouthful!

The book covers:


~Point of view






~Figurative language

 It’s for grades 4-8 and contains 2 lessons for each of the 8  literary elements above, using suggested titles. Each lesson is based on a model text – a picture book! The title, author and brief plot summary are included for each model text. Each lesson begins with a critical question based on the literary element and the materials required for the lesson are listed. A step by step explanation follows, as well as black line masters if applicable, and a wrap-up. Beyond the 16 lessons, there are  “More Books for Teaching…” each of the 8 literary elements. Along with the additional title suggestions, are teaching ideas and interdisciplinary connections for each.  Over 100 titles are included in all and this book is aligned to the Common Core – which is a bonus! There is a two page spread at the beginning of the book listing which standards are addressed.

One of the lessons that I can’t wait to use is a Point of View Improv activity. The group that I have this year will love it! Most of them love an audience and thrive on acting silly! There are 10 cut-apart scenarios that willing students will draw from a basket, each putting them into a unique situation by giving them a specific point of view to speak from. For example, “You are a cheeseburger. You see a big mouth coming towards you. What do you call out?” I mean, come on!  What a unique idea! There are only 10 cards included, but it would be easy to come up with some others. Students could also create their own “point of view improv” card and the cards could be added to a class set.

I just love when I buy a book that I can see so many uses for! I already own 5 titles that are included in this book and I’ll be looking at gathering more!

Picture books are so powerful and I think that sometimes we forget that in the middle and upper grade levels – I know I do. However, so many picture books are extremely versatile and could address multiple teaching points. I don’t mean for you to run out and purchase this book – although I do think it’s a good buy! What I’m suggesting is to have a look at your library, or the class libraries of teachers of other grade levels. Most picture books will offer opportunities for teaching literary elements – it’s just to find the time to read through some good ones and to make those connections. That’s what I love about this particular book – all the connections and titles are there for me! 

Do you have any titles of picture books that you use to teach particular literary elements?

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Using “Factory Girl” by Barbara Greenwood As A Middle School Read Aloud

Okay, so I bit the bullet and have tried my very first VIDEO post. I told myself I never would (the whole being in front of the camera thing) but – here we are. I know how much I enjoy others’ video posts on all sorts of topics – and so I thought I’d try one for a change on pace.


Below you’ll find my video blog post on “Factory Girl” by Barbara Greenwood. Enjoy!


Man…I should have straightened my hair…oh well…don’t make too much fun;)





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