Monday, September 2, 2013

Watermelon or Seed? - Writing Personal Narratives

I love how Lucy Calkins explains choosing a small moment idea when writing personal narratives. If you are unfamiliar with her work, she compares a large event to a watermelon (like a weeklong trip to the beach) and smaller moments to the watermelon's seeds (like building a sandcastle with your sister). I think this is so helpful in making students understand the difference so they can hone in on those seed ideas to use in their writing. As we prepare to begin personal narratives, I've been thinking about how can I really cement this idea for them. I came up with a resource pack for personal narrative writing.
In this pack, I've made posters to help remind them of the difference and give age-appropriate examples of each. I also created a sorting activity to help assess if my students truly understand the difference and a graphic organizer for them to develop their own seed ideas. I think this will really help them gain a good grasp on the concept before I turn them loose to start writing their own small moment stories for our personal narrative study. If you'd like to grab the pack for yourself, you can find it here in my TpT store.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Welcoming a class of writers (and getting that first writing sample)

Earlier this week, as I began to prep for our first day of school this Wednesday, I couldn't help but think about how I should get that first writing sample of the year. 

I pulled out my "back to school" folder and sifted through all my ideas from years past but couldn't commit to anything. Then, I found myself asking, "how do I want to welcome my kiddos to my class this year?" It is my first year ever team teaching and I will be coming in contact with 55 students every day. While this is exciting, its also a big change from my close-knit classroom of 20 last year. I really want to make a personal connection with each and make them feel welcome on our very first day.
Then, the idea of a postcard hit me. I am planning to write a welcome post card to my students, telling them a little about me and our class and asking lots of questions. Then, to get that first writing sample, I will have my kiddos write a postcard back. 
The front of mine will be a kind of welcome to 5th grade image, but I'm going to ask them to decorate their own front in a way that describes them. I think it will be cute, possibly even a quick hall display, but also provide me the first piece of writing evidence in their portfolio.
I was feeling a little ambitious after creating the post cards for my class, so I made a front image for all grades 1-5. If you'd like to do this activity with your own littles, you can find this pack in my TpT store.

How do you plan to sample and assess writing at the start of the school year?

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I want to write like that!

Writer's Workshop is probably my absolute favorite subject to teach. I love how my students truly "become" writers. It never ceases to amaze me when one of my boys who claimed to "hate" writing at the beginning of the year becomes totally lost and absorbed in writing a personal narrative or realistic fiction story. In my previous school, I was so, so blessed to have a huge library of mentor texts perfectly aligned to Lucy Calkins' units of study for Writer's Workshop. I cannot even begin to describe how much of an asset this was when teaching my students about the various elements of writing different genres. I'm sure many of you who are also teachers already know the importance of this.

This year, I have moved to a new school and am so excited to continue Writer's Workshop. I do not have a vast library of mentor texts at my fingertips and being in a high-poverty, Title 1 school, I feel that my students need them more than ever. They need to see high-quality examples of writing to model their own pieces after. They need to see powerful leads, details, and endings to help them write their own stories. I have put together a grant on Donor's Choose asking for mentor texts aligned to our writing units of study.  I chose books that I know will inspire my sweet kiddos and help encourage them in their own journey as writers.

Unfortunately, despite all my promoting via facebook, twitter, and email my grant is not getting the needed funding. Donating through Donor's Choose is a great opportunity for individuals and businesses because the donations are tax deductible (who doesn't love a tax write-off?!) and can be made in any amount - even just two or three dollars. Donations go to a great cause - what better way to invest a couple dollars than in our children? I'm asking all of you to help spread the word to anyone you know who might be willing or able to donate. It will help make the BEST year for our classroom.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Fun in Fifth Grade!

If you follow my life blog, then you know my husband and I recently said goodbye to Hoboken and I left my amazing school district in New Jersey. As excited as I am to be back South, it was so hard to leave such a wonderful district and an absolutely perfect job. Luckily, on my second day in Charlotte, I was offered a new job for the coming school year. I will be teaching 5th grade gifted and talented and I am beyond excited! I have just loved everything about 3rd grade but am excited to try out a new grade level (I interned in 5th grade a couple years ago and really liked it) and teach some new content. Its a little intimidating to change grade levels but I am really looking forward to the coming year and am so thankful to have found a wonderful job right away. I can't wait to meet my fifth graders in August and am excited for all the fun we'll have.

I need some fifth grade blogs to follow - throw 'em at me!

Monday, May 20, 2013

End of the Year Blues

As the end of the school year quickly approaches, I find myself with a bad case of the end of the year blues. Usually at the end of the year, I feel a little heartache that I won't see my sweet kiddos everyday and I get all teary thinking about how far they've come. I really do get so attached to every class. This year I feel an extra little bit of heartache because I love my school and district so much. They are such a wonderful fit for who I am as a teacher and this has been a truly fabulous year. With all that being said, I must also say that I will not be returning next year.

I really neglected this blog while I was teaching innercity, which is kind of silly since the whole reason I started it was to write down the crazy things that happened in my room. My district really has a phenomenal reputation throughout our state so when I was asked to come on board as an extended leave replacement teacher, I didn't hesitate for a second. My husband may have thought I was a little crazy but I took a leap of faith and accepted my current position even though I would not have a renewing contract. It could have been just a one year job, which was a little scary. I said a prayer, took a leap of faith, and then worked very hard. I was so thrilled when I was offered a permanent position to teach third grade. The position would be tenure track with a renewing contract in what I believe (although I'm a little biased) the best school district ever. I would be changing schools but would remain in the district permanently and be able to stay in 3rd grade. Yay!

Then, my husband was offered a new job. An absolutely amazing new job. That amazing new job, however, is not in New Jersey. If you read my life blog, then you know I announced last week that he accepted to position and we are moving in June. We are moving to Charlotte, which is the area where I grew up. I am so excited to be closer to my family and closest friends. However, it absolutely broke my heart to turn down the most perfect job offer. I've started applying and interviewing for positions next year and I know I will be very happy with whatever position I am in next school year but I also find myself panicking as I think about leaving my district and never seeing the sweet kids and amazing families again and not working with my amazing colleagues, principal, and supervisors any more. I really feel like I have grown so much this year and I have absolutely loved every minute at my school so I really can't imagine not working there anymore. I am really excited to see what the next year brings, though. I will be in an area where there is a great need and I am really looking forward to the next adventure - even if it is a little heartbreaking at the moment.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Teacher's Appreciation Day Sale!

I am so excited about TpT's Teacher's Appreciation Day Sale tomorrow and Wednesday! I have lots of items from my wish list that I will be moving over to my cart to purchase to get a head start on next year - and take advantage of the discounted price, of course.

I'm throwing a 10% sale in my store tomorrow and Wednesday. Be sure to stop by to check it out! Here are just a *few* of the items you'll find on sale in my store.


Friday, May 3, 2013

The Scholastic warehouse sale...Its like Christmas for teachers

Happy Friday!

Yesterday after school, I attended the spring Scholastic warehouse sale in our area. I had been looking forward to it for over a week and was really excited to add more books to my classroom library. The sale was held in a hotel conference center and I found many titles I'd seen and wanted when my school had its Scholastic book fair fundraiser.
I intended to take a few photos to share with you but I got so excited the moment I walked in that I just snapped this one really quickly and then got right to shopping. The majority of the titles were 50% off the cover price, with a few books being only 25% off. There was a build-a-box for $24.95 area as well. I registered online about two weeks ago to get a "fast pass," which included a coupon for either $10 off a $50 purchase or $25 off a $100 purchase. 

I found so many great books and added several biographies, nonfiction books, Newberry medal and honor books, and the Judy Moody pack I'd been eyeing all year to my library. Of course, I also purchased some fun chapter books in a variety of reading levels that I think my kiddos will love. When I averaged out the dollar amount I paid divided by the number of books, the books ended up costing about $2 each, which I think is a killer deal. I often purchase second hand books for my classroom but these babies were brand new and I can't wait to share them. This was my first Scholastic warehouse sale and if you have never been to one before, get online right now and register for the next one. You can thank me later.

Happy reading!

Thursday, May 2, 2013


Happy May! I'm linking up with Oh' Boy 4th Grade for the May Currently.
What are you up to....currently?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Thinking ahead to year 2 with Guided Math/Math Workshop

Happy Monday! I can't believe it is almost the end of April. The end of the year is rapidly approaching, which has me thinking ahead to little tweaks I'd like to make next year. Of course, there is a pretty high chance that I'll be making a change of grade level for next year, which could be fun and exciting, but, at least for the time being I'm going to ignore that possibility and pretend I'll be teaching 3rd grade forever.

I have been so happy using Guided Math in my classroom this year. I think it has been really beneficial to my littles and I have been really pleased with the amount of time I've been able to spend working with small groups and differentiating. When I think ahead to next year, I know there are a few minor adjustments I want to make, though.

Currently, these are my stations:
M - Math fact practice
A - At your seat journals
T - Teacher Group
H - Hands-on learning

Here is what I'm proposing for next year (and a preview of the posters from the Guided Math pack that will be making its way to my TpT shop very soon):
Math facts and problem solving. These will be my math journals. This past year, I gave my students a weekly prompt and I feel that it really helped their problem solving skills. I plan to continue that this year, but will add fact practice as an early finisher activity.

I'd really like to do differentiated math folders next year, where I can give each student worksheets or activities to do that are more tailored to their individual needs. I have some students who really, really need extra practice with their multiplication facts because they have not been practicing outside of class. I have other students who need to be challenged with some enrichment activities. 

Of course, I will be keeping my Teacher Time center. This is my favorite aspect of Guided Math. I love working with small groups and this is a great time for me to reinforce or reteach skills when needed, elaborate, and challenge students depending on what they individually need. 

I will be keeping my Hands-on center. This is where my students play math practice games. I'll also be adding some of the fact practice games, such as beat the clock multiplication, here.

This is very similar to what I did this year except that I am wanting to eliminate the computer fact practice center and replace it with the differentiated folders. I love incorporating technology, and I think that sometimes I'd like to put a computer pass or task card in the folders but I also don't think that this center fully maximized learning this year. It was fun and certainly good practice but not always what my students needed most.

What do your Guided Math/Math Workshop centers look like?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Managing Guided Math (Math Workshop)

If you've ever done any kind of guided reading/math, or tried out any of the workshop models, or done any work with centers then you already know that management is everything in making these types of activities successful. I already gave an overview of how I set up guided math in my classroom for the first time but today I want to share specifically how I go about managing it.  

This is what my original guided math poster looked like. I have very limited wall space so I made a long and tall poster to hang in a gap between two of my windows. I've made a much cuter, polka dot version for next year.  
(I can't believe I'm even sharing this poster as my new polka dot version totally kicks its butt. This was before I put in any effort for graphic designing things for my classroom.)

The four colored strips of paper have velcro attached on them for my students' names. The groups change with each unit. I rotate the corresponding dots (also attached with velcro) so students know what center they go to. This is our visual management for guided math.

Now, let's get into some specifics.

Week 1

I strongly believe in gradual release of responsibility when it comes to being successful with any center activity. When I first announced that we would be starting a new way of doing math (Monday of week 1), I described it to the class and showed them some of the fun and exciting materials we would be using. Then, we came up with a list of expectations together.
  • Get started with your activity right away and try your hardest.
  • Be respectful and responsible with materials and put them away in the proper place.
  • Work cooperatively with your partner and ask "3 before me" if you have a question about your activity.
  • Work the whole time. If you finish early, start a early finisher activity from the folder.
  • When you hear the timer, stop working and clean up your materials. Return, quietly to your desk.
The following two days (Tuesday and Wednesday of week 1) after the whole group lesson, everyone chose a partner and partners played math games from the hands-on learning center. I monitored the groups, answered questions, and redirected as needed. Thursday is my class's Tech lab time so we spent the period exploring and learning about the Math Fact Practice sites. My favorites are and During our math center time on Thursday and Friday my kids chose a partner and worked briefly in their problem solving journals (my at your seat center). Then, the following Monday (week 2) I felt confident that my students were ready to work independently and I started pulling groups. 


My students change math groups after every topic. On the night of the topic test, I send a short pre-assessment home with students for the next unit. I have emphasized with my parents how important it is that they don't help their child with this as it will hurt them in the long run. I then check the pre-assessment and consider how the students did on it as well as how they did on their previous topic assessment to modify the groups for the next unit. I try to group students based on what they need. I have a lot of kids this year who are really advanced so they need enrichment and some extra challenges. I also have some kids who need extra help with the basics. Grouping the kids likes this makes our time in groups more valuable. 

High Expectations

I have really high expectations for behavior during our guided math stations. I expect the voices to be at a whisper and I expect everyone to be on task. My fact practice center works independently and they are expected to be silent and working the whole time. Because my other two centers require partner work, I always require that a finished product be turned in. I expect my students to be kind and cooperative and consider guided math a privilege. I haven't had to "take it away" from a student but I think it would be acceptable to give an alternate activity to a student who was not being cooperative on a given day. I also expect my materials to be treated with respect. My sweet husband and afternoon parapro helped me put together so many file folder games. I made and laminated them and we spend hours cutting them out. I told my kids about this. Then, one week I found some of my game pieces scattered on the floor. I took the games away for the following week and replaced them with another activity. We haven't had a problem with this since.

These are just a few considerations for managing guided math or math workshop in your classroom, but I think they are good to keep in mind when getting started. What management suggestions do you have for math workshop?   

Sunday, April 7, 2013

I Pick poster for Daily 5

Do you use the Daily 5 in your classroom? I've just uploaded a cute, brightly colored (perfect for spring) I Pick Good Fit Books poster to my TpT store and it needs some ratings. Download it for *free* here

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener

If you follow my lifestyle blog then you have already seen this post, but I wanted to repost anyway for my teacher friends because if you are a teacher and haven't heard about this yet - you are just going to love this product. I was gifted a new pencil sharpener from Troy at Classroom Friendly Supplies to review. I was beyond excited to review this sharpener because pencil sharpening in my classroom was about to drive me completely crazy.

A pencil sharpener may not seem like a big deal to those of you who don't teach, but if you are a classroom teacher then I just know you understand where I'm coming from. Pencil sharpeners are loud and the sound resembles a dentist's drill so every morning as we start our morning routine, I hear fifteen minutes of grinding as everyone prepares their pencils for the day. Then, despite having a set time/routine for sharpening pencils, there will undoubtedly be a "pencil emergency" in the middle of a whole group time, which will distract everyone. Not to mention social sharpening - I have girls who will chit chat as they're sharpening their pencils until only a teeny tiny nub of a pencil remains. And to put the cherry on top the electric sharpeners that cause all these problems range from $40 - $60 and I'm lucky if they last more than a year.

Enter the Classroom Pencil Sharpener. You guys - this thing is awesome! It is cute with a fun, retro look and I chose blue to match my classroom. This sharpener is manual, not electric like what I've always had, which had me skeptical at first. It was really easy to use, though. You just pinch the black clamps together and pull out the metal plate in the front. Then, insert your pencil and wind the arm. When the pencils are perfectly sharp, the pencil sharpener stops working. Goodbye social sharpening!

Another thing I love about this sharpener is that it is really quiet. Its not silent but it is much, much less disruptive than other sharpeners I've used. This is music to my ears - I am over the dentist drill like sound of most sharpeners.

My sharpener arrived over spring break so I sharpened every single pencil in my entire apartment. They all came out perfectly. When I got back to school, I introduced it to my kids, who all thought it was cute and were dying to try it out. I showed them how to use it and we watched this video together. It took a day or two for them to get the hang of it but so far so good!

The only thing I didn't like was the clamp that comes with the sharpener. It slides into a hole on the bottom and is intended to anchor the sharpener to a bookshelf or table and hold it in place. While it does keep it sort of steady, you still need to hold the top while you crank. I'm going to use sticky command tape (like what goes on the back of a command hook) to attach it to the bookshelf in my room and we'll be all set.

I definitely recommend this sharpener to other teachers, moms, students, or really anyone who writes. It comes in four cute colors (blue, green, red, and black) to match any room.

The very best thing about this sharpener is the price tag. It is only $24.99, making it half as expensive as most classroom sharpeners! Hurry on over to Classroom Friendly Supplies and get one for yourself.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Getting started with Guided Math (Math Workshop)

Back in October, our district math supervisor held a workshop introducing guided math (also called math workshop). From about 3 minutes in, I knew I wanted to start this in my classroom right away. My district uses EnVision by Pearson as our math program resource, which I do think is a great program and very aligned to Common Core. Since I am new to my district this year, I had been really careful to make sure I was teaching math in the same way the other 3rd grade teachers were, but once our supervisor recommended guided math - I knew it was perfect for me and my class. I later attended a 2 day workshop to learn more about guided math and have been using it in my classroom ever since. Today, I thought I'd share how I went about organizing my stations and the flow of our math block and then another day I'll write about managing guided math.

Our Math block is a full hour long and I've divided it into four parts.

15 minutes
Whole group lesson. This is our time for introducing a new skill and practicing it together.

20 minutes
Guided Math stations. I have four stations, one of which is a station that meets with me. I only meet with one group a day but we get very in-depth into the topics we are discussing throughout the week. I am able to add some enrichment activities for the students who are more advanced and target the needs of those students who are struggling.

15 minutes
Independent Practice. This is an on-your-own time where my students work independently to practice the skill of the day. Sometimes I take this time to circulate the room and work one-on-one with students. If (from my observations during whole group or the first few minutes of independent practice) I think a group of students is having trouble with the skill, I will pull a second group to the back table in my classroom to get some extra practice while working with me.

5 minutes 
Closure and discussion. Sometimes I will do a ticket out the door or a brief game like multiplication around the world.

*Note that these times only add up to 55 minutes. No one is perfect and undoubtedly 1 section will run over every day.

Now let's talk about those math stations. This year I am using the four that were recommended to me during my workshop but I've already decided to make a few tweaks for next year. I have 4 stations and the students just go to one station each day. By the end of the week they have been to all 4. This works really nicely if there is a test or assembly because we can still make it to all four. On a typical 5 day week, the students will go to one of the centers twice. I try to organize this so one of my groups that really needs extra help will end up meeting with me twice. I've seen guided math done where the kids rotate through several centers a day but I find when I've done this in the past I felt like my rotations were too short to delve deeply into the topic and my last group was inevitably rushed for time constraints.

My four math stations are:

M -  Math fact practice. Here the students use flash cards, beat the clock games, matching, or go to websites such as or to practice their basic math facts.

A -  At your seat math journals. In this station, the students glue the weekly problem solving prompt into their math journals and then work to solve it with a partner. They turn their problem solving journal into me to check and I will journal back to them, noting things they did very well and things they maybe overlooked and can try next time to successfully solve the problem.

T - Teacher's Group. This group meets with me to work on the topics we'll be discussing throughout the week.

H - Hands-on Learning. In this center, students play math practice games with a partner. There are some cute games that came with our math program and I've made dozens and dozens of file folder games that I found on Teachers Pay Teachers.

My kids just love that the stations spell out math! I have loved using this model - especially having that designated time to devote to each small group. I also have noticed my students' thinking evolve through their problem solving journals. There really is never enough time to devote to problem solving - especially in my current math program - so this model is so helpful with that.

This is just an overview of getting started for those of you who may not know much about guided math. I'll post more about managing on another day as well as changes I plan to make going forward.

Have you tried guided math / math workshop in your room? What do you do that is the same or different than me?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Somebody got a makeover...

Well, my blog did! I have been toying with the "theme" for a while. I knew I didn't want to invest in a custom layout seeing as how I'm not consistent with posting here (bad, bad blogger.) I switched up my original layout to a cute owl theme, which I liked because owls are all over my classroom - this is a throwback to my Kappa Kappa Gamma days. As cute as it was, it wasn't really me. I came across this cute, free background on and then designed a new header and sidebars using a combo of MyMemories Suite (love this!) and....Microsoft Word. I used the same cartoon-y girl I purchased for my lifestyle blog design and even incorporated lipstick and a Starbucks latte. Maybe the cute, new design will get me motivated to post more regularly?

One can hope. :)

Original header

Take 2

That's more like it. :)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A little shameless self promotion ;)

Hi all! If you follow my life blog, then you know I have recently started my own store on Teachers Pay Teachers. With only a few months left of school, now seemed like the perfect time for a little shameless self-promotion. I really love creating digital posters and worksheets for the littles in my class and was thinking I should pay it forward and share these with other teachers - while earning a few dollars for our little family. If you use Teachers Pay Teachers, I would just *love* if you could take a second to follow my store. Maybe I'll post something that would be perfect for your classroom?

If you're not already using Teachers Pay Teachers, you MUST sign up right now. It is just the most amazing resource for teachers. Period. Plus the money goes to other underpaid teachers just like you - not some big company that mass produces materials. Win-win.

Here are a few items from my store. Its just a baby right now but I'll be growing it throughout the spring and summer.
This is such a fun alternative to boring, monotonous spelling homework. The littles choose an activity from each course to complete during the week - the possibilities are endless. Both spelling and word study titles included. 

Read to Self, Read to Someone, Listen to Reading, Word Work, Work on Writing, and Work with the Teacher included. Each activity has a different color polka dot background, child-friendly explanation of the activity and a cute graphic. 

Cute cover, OWL binder "Do's" rules list, and table of contents included. This is such a cute way to get your kiddos organized. 

The spelling/word work menu is my current freebie. If you're a teacher, I would just LOVE if you could check it out and rate me since I am just getting started. If you have a TPT store, leave the link in the comments so I can follow you too. I just love getting resources from other teachers and supporting them! 

Thanks a million!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

When a Class Pet Dies

This post has been sitting half-finished in my drafts for over a year {oops!} and hails from my days teaching Kindergarten innercity. If you've spent any amount of time here at Lipstick, Lattes, and Lesson Plans then you know my time there was challenging to say the least, especially at the beginning of the school year when I was still working on routines and behavior.

I don't know how many of you know anything about African dwarf frogs but my kindergarteners would be happy to share a thing or two.
via google images

I was hired about a month after the start of the school year last year after the original Kindergarten teacher left unexpectedly. The African dwarf frogs (2 of them) were already a part of my classroom and my students had done some pretty extensive research on them. Did you know that African dwarf frogs live their entire lives underwater but have lungs so they must always come up to the surface to breathe? Or that they cannot be out of water for more than 20 minutes or they will dry out?

African dwarf frogs need exactly two pieces of frog food every other day. I read that in the wild they are actually scavengers and eat all sorts of things so this never really made sense to me. However, I was told to be very careful and make sure they were fed this specific amount of food. We picked jobs in my classroom every week so each week a different student had the opportunity to be the "veterinarian" and was responsible for the frogs.

It was my second month of school and we were working a lot on behavior. When I started in the classroom, it was common for the kids to bite each other (and me), throw chairs, and curse at each other. A day where these things didn't happen was considered a success. The African dwarf frogs were the last thing on my mind.

Then one morning my co-teacher was absent, making our morning routine a little more hectic than usual. We had a school wide assembly and I was getting my kids unpacked and lined up so that they could go to the gym. Then, one of my little girls yells out, "Look! The frog is dead!"

This caused a lot of excitement for my kiddos but seeing as how we were in a time crunch, I did the only logical thing I could think of at the time and positioned myself between their eyesight and the frogs. "Oh no, " I said, calmly, "I think he's just sleeping. I was working so late last night he is probably very tired. Let's go to the assembly and let him take a nap."

So off we went to the gym for our assembly. What I didn't mention was that there had been a little mishap with the frogs earlier in the week. My veterinarian was a real profession, feeding the frogs the exact right amount of food on the days they were supposed to be fed. Unfortunately, one of my little boys decided to dump some extra food in the tank to "help." I don't really know if he was trying to help the veterinarian or if he just wanted to see what would happen. He was not my top direction follower and was one of those students who liked to test the limits.

When we returned from the assembly, we only had a few minutes before our special, so I ushered my kiddos to the carpet for our whole group literacy lesson. Luckily, the frog tank was out of view. When I dropped them off for their special, I went back to the classroom to investigate. And sure enough the frog was still there in the tank and was now floating at the surface of the water, belly up.

The problem with this was that I am not really a frog person. If I had been able to choose my own class pet it would have been a singular beta fish. Or perhaps a floppy bunny because I prefer mammals. It would not have been an African dwarf frog. And it most certainly would not have been TWO African dwarf frogs.

My co-teacher liked the frogs a lot more than I did so I considered just moving the tank out of the kids view and letting her deal with the situation when she returned in the afternoon. This is a major benefit of team teaching. I sent her a quick text message to ask her expert frog opinion. She texted back asking me if I was sure he was dead. I said I thought so and she suggested waiting a little bit longer. This sounded good to me because I had no idea how I was going to remove him from the tank.

But I couldn't stop thinking about the second frog. So down the hall I went to one of the other Kindergarten teacher's rooms. I asked her if she knew anything about African dwarf frogs, which she didn't. Then, I told her I was pretty sure one of ours was dead. "Just dump the whole tank," she suggested, "Like you would a fish."

"But what about the other frog?" I asked.

She asked me if the poor second frog was still in the tank with the floating dead one. I embarrassedly admitted that I was. We decided I would somehow have to remedy this because this was probably contaminating the water and my class really didn't need to deal with the loss of two pets. She and I went back to my room and peered into the tank, trying to think of how we could get the frog out. Then, my principal peeked in and I told him about the situation, hoping he would offer to remove the frog, which he did not. He did tell me what an important teachable moment this was for my kids.

Thank heavens that another teacher came into my room right at that moment who had more experience with amphibians than I did. She used a net to remove the frog for me and we carried him downstairs to the faculty restroom for a proper burial.

After lunch, I broke the news to my kids. We talked about how he had been a special part of our class but that this was a natural part of the life cycle. Those who had lost grandparents or other family members shared their stories and they made cards for the frog during snack.

Had our school been located in a more suburban area, we probably would have taken a field trip outside and buried him together. However, being innercity, even our playground didn't have actual grass.

When my co-teacher returned in the afternoon, I recounted the day's events to her. By this point, at least since the frog had now been buried, I thought it was all pretty hilarious. I don't have a class pet this year, though, although I am tentatively considering a gold fish for next year. For the time being, I'm just sticking with plants.

Have any of you experienced the death of a class pet? How did you handle it?