Writing Captions

Writing Captions with Kat and  SquirrelThere are 3 lessons which employ a gradual release of responsibility approach to writing captions for photos.

Included are photos with captions for a large group lesson, photos to use to model the lesson, photos for partner work, and photos for an individual contribution to a whole-class game.

This was designed to be used in a first-grade classroom, but it could easily be used for older groups.

Story to go with the lessons:
Kat and Squirrel have been asked to fill in at the Pigeon Post
Newspaper. Their new boss, Pigeon, wants them to write captions
for the photos. They do not know how to write captions!
Can you help?

Goals of the lessons:

With guidance and support from adults, focus on a topic, respond to questions and suggestions from peers, and add details to strengthen writing as needed.

With guidance and support from adults, use a variety of digital tools to produce an publish writing, including in collaboration with peers.

Participate in shared research and writing projects (e.g., explore a number of “how-to” books on a given topic and use them to write a sequence of instructions).

With guidance and support from adults, recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.


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Did you come up with a fun caption from the “Writing Captions” lesson? If so, write the number and your caption in the comments below. We can’t wait to read them!

Kat and Squirrel on the Farm

Life Science and Engineering Design Unit for First Grade NGSS

Kat and Squirrel on the Farm - Life Science UnitThis is an interactive story with pauses after each ‘chapter’ to allow students and teachers time to research topics (video link included!), record observations (guided viewing sheet included!), discuss thoughts supported by evidence (animal parent and offspring cards included!), and design a solution to a problem (animal adaptation cards and engineering design form included!).

All lessons are introduced by a continuing story about Kat and Squirrel’s goofy adventures while on a farm. The lessons are aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards for first grade. And the lessons have been created by an experienced first-grade teacher.

The timing will depend upon how long and how often you have science class, but would most likely take 2-3 weeks. This could also be integrated into the reading/language arts curriculum very easily with a few creative teacher additions.

Goals of the Lesson

1-LS1-1. Use materials to design a solution to a human problem by mimicking how plants and/or animals use their external parts to help them survive, grow, and meet their needs.

1-LS1-2. Read texts and use media to determine patterns in behavior of parents and offspring that help offspring survive.

1-LS3-1. Make observations to construct an evidence-based account that young plants and animals are like, but not exactly like, their parents.

K-2-ETS1-1. Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to change to define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool.

K-2-ETS1-2. Develop a simple sketch, drawing, or physical model to illustrate how the shape of an object helps it function as needed to solve a given problem. Optional: If you have your students build their “solutions,” it would be a great time to complete this standard:

K-2-ETS1-3. Analyze data from tests of two objects designed to solve the same problem to compare the strengths and weaknesses of how each performs.

Optional: If you have your students build their “solutions,” it would be a great time to complete this standard: K-2-ETS1-3. Analyze data from tests of two objects designed to solve the same problem to compare the strengths and weaknesses of how each performs.


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Recommended Reading for Help with Homework

Looking for more help with your homework? The Kat recommends the following books:

Homework: A Parent’s Guide To Helping Out Without Freaking Out!

How to Do Homework Without Throwing Up (Laugh & Learn)

Homework Made Simple: Tips, Tools, and Solutions to Stress-Free Homework

John Rosemond’s Fail-Safe Formula for Helping Your Child Succeed in School

The New Six-Point Plan for Raising Happy, Healthy Children: A Newly Updated, Greatly Expanded Version of the Parenting Classic (Backlist eBook Program)

Ending the Homework Hassle

Smart but Scattered Teens: The “Executive Skills” Program for Helping Teens Reach Their Potential

Smart but Scattered: The Revolutionary “Executive Skills” Approach to Helping Kids Reach Their Potential

Free Homework Help Take Home

Supporting Your Child’s Schoolwork from Home

Get the schoolwork done and keep your sanity? Yes it is possible.  Use these tips to create an independent learner out of your child.

Free Homework Help Take HomeEarly Elementary

In the early elementary years much of the homework requires an adult’s assistance. You will be helping your child read, journal, practice spelling words and math facts, and helping them read and understand math story problems. Homework in this stage is usually best if completed in 10-30 minutes.

Late Elementary/Early Middle School

In late elementary or early middle school you can expect to help your child keep to their study schedule as well as assist with tracking projects and tests on a calendar. Encourage them to make good use of an assignment notebook by writing down assignments as soon as they are given. Much of the actual work will be independent now, but be ready to assist if your child needs help. You might suggest different approaches to study the material, but don’t push. Homework in this stage is usually best if completed in 30-60 minutes.

Middle School/Early High School

In late middle school to early high school you’ll find yourself decreasing your support even more. Monitor your child and determine if he or she is able to succeed independently. If so, great! Keep monitoring. If not, be ready for your child to experience some natural consequences like not feeling prepared for class or even a bad grade or two. Don’t worry; it’s those natural consequences that are teaching your child how to gain independence. Add support back into the homework routine until things get back on track then gradually fade support once again. Homework in this stage is usually best if completed in 60-90 minutes.

Late High School/College

In late high school and college maintain an interest in what your child is learning and help them to study if they ask. Inquire about projects and upcoming tests in a friendly manner. Let them know that you trust them to be independent by giving them the freedom to study on their own. Homework in this stage is usually best completed in 2 hours per class per week (or more in college).


Then sit back and have a cool glass of lemonade. You’ve created an independent learner!


Homework First Aid for Parents

Is homework giving you headaches? Is study time stressing you out? If so, you and your child may be in need of a little homework first aid. Read and follow these prescriptions for fast relief.

Homework PrescriptionEnvironment – Create a calm, quiet, and comfortable environment for your child to study. The ideal location would be a special place set aside for studying only. Preferably not near a window, TV, or other visual distractions.   Locate necessary supplies like pencils, pencil sharpeners, paper, dictionary, flash cards, calculator, calendar, etc. within arm’s reach of the study area. Sitting on a yoga ball may benefit active kids by allowing them to move.


Homework Prescription

Preparation – Try to have your child study at the same time every day so the work becomes routine and habitual. This could be right after school, or after some play time. Make sure it is a time when your child still has energy. Schedule a snack and bathroom break just before settling in to study.


Homework PrescriptionPriorities – Work on the hardest project first. You know your child’s strengths and weaknesses and can use this to your advantage by doing the difficult work when your child has the most energy. Make sure to praise real effort along the way. Use a calendar to keep track of large projects and tests. This will help you plan the best use of your study time. Create a to-do list on a small white board and let your child erase each activity as you complete it.


Homework Prescription

Methods – Study methods will depend upon your child’s age and the type of material being learned. Some tried and true study methods include using manipulatives, using flashcards, highlighting important material, creating a graphic organizer, reading aloud, turning information into a rap or song, playing a game with your material, creating simulations, generating a mnemonic, and reteaching the material to someone else.


Homework PrescriptionBreaks – Depending on your child’s age and study load, you may want to schedule some ‘brain breaks’ every 10-20 minutes. Brain breaks are 1-3 minutes of physical activity designed to help your child reenergize and regain focus. A brain break could include dancing, jumping, running, or anything you can think of that’s fun and gets the body moving.


Free Homework Help Take Home


Dosage: Be sure to take all 5 prescriptions in a caring environment daily.

Side effects may include (but are not limited to): happy, calm, smart, loving, generous, and beautiful children.

Pair It! Parrot! Colors and Shapes

Goals of the lesson

Pair It Parrot Shapes and Colors - Kat and SquirrelCorrectly name shapes regardless of their orientations or overall size.

Distinguish between defining attributes (e.g., triangles are closed and three-sided) versus non-defining attributes (e.g., color, orientation, overall size)

Shapes included:


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Colorful Zebra Classroom Theme Art (Part 2)


Materials Included:

This beautiful product contains original colorful zebra artwork to give you more of what you’ll need to set up your zebra-themed classroom.

11 pages of color-word posters that you can use to set up your
color-word word wall.
11 numeral posters (#s 0-10) which each include the numeral, written word, and a visual representation of the number.
26 letters-of-the-alphabet posters with vowels in a different color.
12 months-of-the-year headers with beautifully patterned backgrounds to fit pocket-chart calendars.
7 days-of-the-week headers to fit pocket-chart calendars.
31 numbers to fit pocket-chart calendars.
21 “special class” cards to go behind the days-of-the-week cards or the number cards.
75 “special days” cards to go behind the number cards.

Kat and Squirrel - Get the Artwork Now
Be sure to check out the first Colorful Zebra Classroom Theme. All artwork in this product will match the first product: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Colorful-Zebra-Classroom-Theme-Art-1522019


Counting Snowballs for Math Intervention K-2

Goals of the Lesson:

Snowball Count - Kat and SquirrelCCSS.Math.Content.K.CC.A.3

Includes 20 printable cards with a set of snowballs to count and answers to choose from. You can use these as a counting activity in a number of creative ways.

Also included is a “back of card” to be printed on the reverse side of the snowballs, and a recording sheet.

2 Bonuses!
A Snowball Color Sheet
A Snowball Number Line

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Pumpkin Counting On – Math Intervention

Goals of the lesson:

Counting On with Pumpkins - Kat and SquirrelCCSS.Math.Content.K.CC.A.1

Counting on and over a decade number has never been more fun.
Included are a variety of ways to practice counting on, self-checking pages, and a bonus – 120 chart!

Use sheet with blank third column for students to count on and fill in.
Use sheet with all columns filled in as an answer key or fold answers back for self checking.
Use sheet with blank middle column for kids to place stickers, stamps or draw “how many more” are needed to reach the total.

Pumpkin Counting On Lesson - Kat and SquirrelKat and Squirrel - Get the Lesson!