Plant adaptation folding activity

Not your average plant adaptation activity

When it comes to teaching life science to kids, there are some lessons that are just hard to get students excited about. Teaching about different plant adaptations is one of those difficult lessons that I have had to get creative to keep kids engaged and focused. Over the years, I found that it is best to chunk the information in order to break up the lesson as well as to help students to retain the information. This plant adaptation activity has been created to help students not only learn about the different types of plant adaptation but also to serve as a form of note-taking. It will be easy to glue the activity inside a science notebook upon completion for students to refer back to when needed.

What is chunking the lesson?

Chunking a lesson is something that I like to use in the classroom because it helps to teach small tidbits of information at a time. Chunking the lesson can be useful because I have students come to the board (at the front of the room) while I teach and then I send them back to their seats to practice the skill. This type of teaching also helps with movement in the classroom and I have noticed it helps students stay focused.

What are the plant adaptations that kids need to know?

The main parts of the plants have all taken on different adaptations. These were the ones that I was going to teach my students about.

  • ROOTS – (aerial, shallow, tap)
  • LEAVES – (for traps, showy, needles)
  • STEMS – (thorns, spines, prickles, tendrils, succulent leaves)
  • FLOWERS – different ways of pollination (by wind & by other animals)
  • SEEDS – (carried by animals, eaten by other animals, carried by the wind, carried by the water)

When it came time, to create my booklet, I had a difficult time finding all the drawings that I would need to make this booklet. This PLANT ADAPTATION CLIPART SET has been created for use on an anchor chart or any or for other teaching purposes.

I decided to teach the kids about each of the parts of the different adaptations by chunking and the students labeled. We then completed the activity at the end of the class.

How to teach PLANT ADAPTATIONS using the activity

You can start with any of the plant adaptations, but started by showing root adaptations by using an anchor chart. I created the anchor chart using the plant adaptations clipart set that has the same picture as the activity. We started by discussing the different structures, their functions, and different examples of each type of plant. After we discussed these, students were sent back to their desks to label the FUNCTIONS part of the lesson. (This was the only part of the activity that I passed out to students. Once the functions page was completely filled out, I passed out the next portion of the lesson.)

example of labeling in activity









After we discussed the roots, I continued chunking the lesson by teaching the leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers. During this time students were allowed to talk with partners about which description best matched each of the functions. While students were labeling, I walked around checking for understanding and also answering questions.

Once all the plant adaptations had been discussed and students had labeled their pages, I handed out the remaining pages of the activity. I let the students cut and glue the functions down while I walked around and stapled the resource. This allowed me to also actively monitor and check for understanding.

At the end of the lesson, students had a great note-taking booklet. I was able to see get a grade to see if each of the adaptations were understood. This booklet can be used to take notes in each of the sections. Students can also do research on different varieties of plants that contain the adaptations.

10 Reasons to read aloud

10 Reasons to read aloud to older kids

Being a reading teacher, one of my favorite things to do is read aloud books to students but it almost felt like cheating to me. The kids would all join me on the floor, and I would read books for 20 minutes a day. We would have these awesome conversations, some laughs, and I could point out different features in the books. Although I absolutely love read-aloud books, I used to wonder if my 5th graders even benefited from this time.

How many times a year does this happen to you?

The lesson, activity or something unexpected happens during class time and you have to drop something that you were going to show students?  Many times you think, I’ll get to that tomorrow and you may or may not. Typically, I would cut the read-aloud when I was short on time. More often times than not, the kids would notice and ask when we were going to read.

I recently did some research on read-aloud books and wanted to share some findings with you.

No matter what subject you teach, you can find books related to your content.

10 Reasons to read aloud

  1. It improves vocabulary No teacher or parent will EVER say that their student/kid knows plenty of vocabulary. Just showing kids different words in text is simple. You can challenge kids to use the words in their conversations, writing, or with their peers.
  2. It improves comprehension. Another benefit that is just simple. Listening to someone read while pausing to ask questions can aid in comprehension for kids.
  3. It is wonderful for bonding. It never fails… when I just didn’t have in a class period, I would cut the read aloud time. The kids would always notice and ask me when we were doing to read.
  4.  It provides modeling. Just modeling reading helps students with fluency and comprehension and seems effortless on the teachers end.
  5. It improves listening skills.  Another wonderful and effortless benefit. Students no matter what age, love listening to someone read to them. This can help teachers as well when lessons are being taught.
  6. It is a way to discover the classics. Being in the classroom for a while, I definitely have my favorites. Showing kids that books might be older and students can still relate to the characters is magical.
  7. It helps with discussing difficult issues. Especially with older students, it can sometimes be difficult to know how to approach a difficult issue. Let books do this for you. Once you read the book, you can open up the floor for students to discuss their feelings and thoughts on a topic.
  8. It is a way to introduce different genres. Not only genres but different learning content can be introduced by books. No matter what subject you teach, there is a book for you.
  9. It can help you discover your kid’s interests. After reading books, students will oftentimes ask to read the book. You can then suggest other books that the author may have written or similar books. This is a great time to show students how to look up a book that sparks their interests.
  10. It can spark curiosity and a thirst for learning. When learning something new, students may realize that they want more information on a topic. Encourage students to dig in and learn as much as possible.

The research doesn’t lie! So put those books back into your lessons! To join the MAYHEM and for more information and receive a FREE READING COMPREHENSION PASSAGE check out 

Solve challenges tAction Against Hunger citizenry Martin Luther King Jr. Combat malaria, mobilize lasting change billionaire.

Poetry Reading Strategies for Students

Kids love reading poetry! I love using weekly poems in my classroom, especially with upper elementary students. Poetry is filled with different styles of figurative language and the ways that authors write. I find that sometimes children read poetry quickly and do not always comprehend what they read. Help children in the classroom by using the poetry reading strategies for students that are found below.  These strategies do take time for students to learn but overtime can be very effective.

Poetry reading strategies for students anchor chart
Poetry Reading Strategies for Students

The saying Read Poetry with PRIDE is the acronym that I use to help students to remember each of the strategies. I have provided a better explanation for each of the steps to help kids with reading poetry.


The student should preview the title of the poem that will help to identify the main idea.  While previewing the poem, ask students to notice the shape of the poem, and try to identify the style of the poem.  Help kids to see if they notice a rhyming pattern, repeated lines, or something that makes the poem stand out by previewing a poem.


Concrete poetry for November










Narrative Poem for December










Acrostic poem for February










There is always something extra that a reader can pick up when reading a poem a second and third time. Show students that they should pause at the end of a stanza and think about what that stanza is about. This is a time to notice the unique features of a poem. Have students put a thin line after each stanza of a poem to symbolize pausing to think about what they have read. This can be seen below in the February Poetry Activities.

Poetry reading strategies for students example


Poetry is all about visualization and imagery. When students are taught to stop and think after each stanza this can strengthen the imagery skill. On the line that is at the end of the stanza,  have the student write a few words of what they envision. This strategy can also be seen in the February Poetry Activities poem below.

Poetry reading strategies for students examplesDEFINE

Since poems have a different writing style than regular text this is a good time to point out how to use context clues in the genre. I ask students to think about any words that they may not know and use the text to define. If the student still does not know the words they might need to use a dictionary to help to define them.


After these steps, have students evaluate what they read. What is the main message or theme of the poem? Using poetry reading strategies with your students is an easy way to help your kids with comprehension. The poetry reading strategy PRIDE is what I love to use in my classroom. These poetry reading strategies work great with your students when paired with the monthly poetry unit too.

Monthly Poetry Unit





February poetry reading comprehension for upper elementary students to learn in the classroom and at home

February poetry for upper elementary students to learn in the classroom and at home

February poetry for upper elementary students to learn in the classroom and at home

February is such a fun month for kids, there are many holidays, and it is generally an exciting time of the year. February is also a perfect time for your upper elementary students to practice poetry to be able to learn in the classroom or at home.

I always like to have multiple ways to use an activity, and most of my reading comprehension contains multiple learning elements while making reading fun for kids.

I have created the February poetry reading comprehension worksheets for 3rd grade, 4th grade, and 5th graders to use weekly to learn about Presidents’ Day, Valentine’s Day, and Leap Year.February poetry reading comprehension for upper elementary students to learn in the classroom and at home

Digital Learning

Students love technology! The February poetry reading comprehension passages are great to use for virtual learning, in the classroom, or for a homeschool student. These passages use Google forms so the teacher or parent will receive an instant grade upon completion. With 5 questions regarding poetry, this assessment is easy to see where third, fourth, and fifth graders may struggle with poetry.

February poetry for upper elementary students to learn in the classroom and at home

Printable Versions

The printable version of this February assessment is geared towards a variety of learners. You will find that each passage includes a multiple-choice option, a short answer option, and a writing reflection page. The short answer option is great to use for high level thinking with students. I find that multiple-choice works well when reviewing test-taking strategies and the process of elimination. The writing reflection page can be used by teachers to see a student’s clear understanding as well as to be used for an additional grade.

Ways to use February poetry reading comprehension passages in the classroom.

Most times, there is a wide range of learners in every classroom. The teacher can easily pull a small group of students using the printable version of the February assessment to practice a variety of skills such as visualization, vocabulary, making inferences, main idea, figurative language, text evidence, theme, and more. While working on these skills with a small group, another group can be completing the digital version of the assignment. Turn the assignment into a writing lesson by using the writing reflection pages inside.

February poetry for upper elementary students to learn in the classroom and at home

Making reading fun!

Ultimately reading should be fun for students and you will see your best results when kids are engaged in learning. Use the February poetry for upper elementary students to learn in the classroom and at home weekly. This resource is perfect for in-class practice, virtual learning, homework, or extra practice during the month of February.

If you students need more reading comprehension practice, you can click on the links included in this post. Please feel free to reach out to Marcy’s Mayhem anytime with questions.

January ELA Activities for your upper elementary students

I always love returning to school in January after the break to see how my students have grown over the course of the year. With my upper elementary kiddos, they always seem more mature than when we left school just a few weeks prior. While it fun to be back in the classroom, it is also time to get down to business. Having fun ELA activities for your upper elementary students is a must to keep them engaged and learning in January.


This folding activity is fun for students to reflect on how they spent the New Year. Students can also make a list of resolutions if they have not done so already. The foldable serves as a pre-writing activity, with graphic organizers and paper (lined and digital) also included for an extension lesson.

New Years Eve Folding Activity for upper elementary students NEW YEAR’S FOLDING ACTIVITY


Since we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the month of January, I also like to use the folding craft as a research project. The students are able to work in groups or alone to find out facts on MLK. If there is time, graphic organizers and paper are included for an extension lesson. I like to think about these January ELA activities for your upper elementary students’ kind of like hiding vegetables in your kid’s food. The lessons are fun and have learning hidden inside.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. folding activity



Using poems with my upper elementary kiddos is always fun.  I use this monthly poetry unit each week of the school year to be able to see the growth in student comprehension. Inside the January poems are a variety of poem styles, ranging from lyrical, narrative, free verse, rhyming, and acrostic. Using poetry helps me to be able to hone in on skills that students may need help with like main idea, vocabulary, making predictions, and so forth.

January Poetry Reading Comprehension Cover



It is easier for kids to get back into a routine when there are engaging lessons for them to complete. These lessons are low-prep and self-explanatory. Teachers will be able to work with struggling students while other students work independently. For the homeschool parent, or students learning virtually, all of the lessons mentioned are available digitally. Having fun ELA activities for your upper elementary students in January makes the transition from coming back to school from the break run smoother.

Elementary Read Aloud Must Haves

These classroom library Must-Haves are great for any elementary teacher to use a variety of ways throughout the school year. All these books can be found on Amazon and are classroom staples! Read these books aloud to students and then put in your classroom library for them to enjoy all school year long.


The Raft

Dalton’s Dress-Up Dilemma

Salt in his Shoes

The Other Side

The Ugly Doodles

Elementary Read Aloud Must Haves

How to use these texts during the year.

1.The Raft – I love using this book at beginning of the school year to talk about what students did over the summertime. The main character in the story is not excited about spending the summer with his grandmother but ends up having the best vacation. This book is great to teach summary, making predictions, and making the best of a situation.

2.Dalton’s Dress-Up Dilemma  – This book is perfect for students who love comic style texts. This book is packed full of different figurative language examples that include idioms, similes, metaphors, personification, alliteration, onomatopoeias, oxymorons, and more. The main character loves to dress up and makes a huge mess in his room. Each time the character changes his costume, the style of figurative language also changes. This book is great to introduce or reteach figurative language to kids of any age.

3.Salt in his Shoes – Use this book to teach perseverance to kids. Kids love reading this book because it is a true story about how Michael Jordan almost gives up on his dreams because he fears he will never be tall enough to play basketball. Use this book to teach cause & effect and sequence. This book is also great to teach determination and patience.

4.The Other Side –  This book is a beautiful story about a friendship between two girls. There is a fence that separates African American kids at the edge of Clover’s property. The mother of the main character tells Clover that it is not safe to cross but the two girls become friends regardless. This book is great to discuss equality and racial divide.

5.The Ugly Doodles – This book is about a young girls who falls in love with art. She would like to be an artist herself but isn’t great at drawing. When asked to clean her room, the girl discovers that she can not get rid of her art. This book is great to teach about imperfection and failure.

BTS tips, digital checklist, and toolkit to stay organized this school year

Well it is almost back to school time and I think most of us are aware that this school year will be different than most. While many of us found ourselves scrambling last year when schools shut down to get digital items together, platforms in place for our student to learn effectively, and more. This year does not have to be the same. In this post, you will find some ideas on BTS tips, digital checklists and toolkits to stay organized.


These ideas are just extras that you may not have thought about.

  • Gather extra sanitizing products – Have on hand extra masks, hand sanitizer, wipes for desks, and spray.
  • Distance classroom as much as possible. Where not possible, put up dividers for student desks, teacher desks, and other commonly used areas.
  • Have a “Things Students Need Each Day Checklist” posted in your room. Go over with students what materials they will need to bring with them each day like: their own water bottle, school supplies, masks. All of student materials should be labeled with their names. This checklist may be sent home with students on the first week of school for parents to have as well.
  • Get your emergency sub planning binder ready with 2 weeks worth of plans at minimum.
  • Have emergency plans for teaching virtually if needed. It may be helpful to have a print-out to send to parents on how to access virtual platform.
  • Get first day/week plans ready. Have some time set aside to discuss proper hand-washing, how to wear your mask correctly, what social distancing looks like in the classroom, in lines, etc.
  • Have classroom schedule posted in the classroom to discuss with students on the first day of school. Some classrooms may not be switching at all this school year. Students may have lots of questions on how their day may be different from previous years.

I think most of us would prefer to be in the classroom over teaching online. If we do need to go back to teaching virtually you can be prepared by using the checklist below.

Digital checklist

Whether you are in the classroom or teaching virtually at the beginning of the school year, I think you will find these resources to be awesome to use at back to school time. The below resources are easy to use at BTS time to stay organized no matter where you will be teaching.

















































This year is going to be different, but you are not alone! I hope you will find these BTS tips, digital checklist and toolkit to stay organized to be super helpful as we navigate the school year together.



Back to School Reading activities for the classroom & Distance Learning

Back to School Reading activities for the classroom & Distance Learning

Kristen Wiig meme back to school I keep seeing this meme floating around and I think it could possibly be the perfect response to how we are all feeling about going back to school at this time. As I am writing this post, my district is voting, AGAIN, on what the start of school will look like. Generally, many of us use the summertime to rest and reflect on what worked the previous year in the classroom and what did not. It is a time to tweek some reading activities for the upcoming school year. With all the unknowns, it is easy to feel like you are just spinning your wheels with planning. I keep having to remind myself that one of a teacher’s superpowers is that WE ARE incredibly flexible. Although we may not start the school year in the classroom, students can still learn effectively. Inside this post, you will find some great back to school reading activities for the classroom and distance learning.


Back to School Reading Activities for the Classroom & Distance Learning

Reading Interest Surveys

I always hand students a reading interest survey the first week of school. This activity is a great way for me to get to know my readers better and learn their likes and dislikes about reading. It allows me to start planning out reading groups, decide which books to introduce, and plan ways to build/strengthen reading skills with each child. Also, it has some great data collecting features for the teacher that are beneficial for parent conferences. This product is both digital and printable.

Digital & Printable Reading Interest Survey

Context Clues Task Cards Printable & Digital

No matter the grade level I teach, I always find that using context clues and understanding vocabulary words to be a huge challenge with students. Generally, using task cards in a small group setting is my favorite way to practice this skill. Since a small group setting may not be the most ideal or even possible this school year, this resource went digital. Use the CONTEXT CLUE TASK CARD SET for 3rd & 4th grade or CONTEXT CLUES TASK CARDS SET for 5th & 6th grade in printable and digital format to get a better understanding of vocabulary skills with your readers.

Digital & Printable Context Clues Activities for Upper Elementary

The digital version of this set is self-grading. The teacher will receive the student grade once the student completes the set. While this will be great for distance learning, using the self grading set is also beneficial in the classroom. It makes getting/recording a grade a breeze too!

Reading Comprehension Passages

Using reading comprehension passages in the classroom is also useful to get an idea of the strengths and challenges your readers face. While I do not generally use reading comprehension passages in the first week of school, I do like to see how my readers perform early on in the school year. Genres like fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama are my favorites to use for collecting data on my readers. As the school year progresses, I like to hone in on reading skills like making inferences, using sarcasm in text, vocabulary skills, etc. These reading comprehension passages are also available in digital (self grading) and printable.

Digital & Printable Reading Comprehension Passages for Upper Elementary

The digital version is easy to send to a student through various platforms. There are 5 reading comprehension passages in each of the products with the exception of the bundle (contains 20). Each reading comprehension passage can be sent separately to a student to use over extended days or lessons. I have found that the printable option is great for tutoring as well. Perhaps the best feature is that students receive a reading grade, automatically, upon completion. This makes it easy to get and record grades!

Other Ways to Practice Reading!

Parents always ask for ways to help their child get extra reading practice. I do not anticipate this school year to be any different. I have found some different alternatives to the classroom/school library that can be found online for a minimal cost.

Don’t Stress about Back to School

I know, I know, easier said than done! I will certainly be guilty of “stressing out” at the beginning of the school year too. However, this year can run smoothly with some patience and planning. Although this school year will definitely be different, it doesn’t have to feel impossible. Use these Back to School Reading activities for the classroom & Distance Learning to help ease into the school year!

Phonics Activities for Struggling Readers

We as teachers know that phonics is the building blocks that you need to have in order to read well. Using phonics activities for struggling readers is a way to introduce and reinforce a skill with readers that makes reading comprehension stick.

As an upper elementary teacher, I see students that do not have the basic building blocks they need to be a successful reader each school year. I often see kids that would benefit from practicing those basic phonics skills each year. I like using the phonics activities for struggling readers when teaching in small groups or independently to help to strengthen reading comprehension in my classroom. I have also used this lesson with kids that I tutor after school and you can use if you teach home school as well.

Using Phonics Activities for Struggling Readers

When a student is struggling with reading comprehension I find it best to go back to the basics and sometimes even start over. I like to use this order:

1.Introduce the Skill

2.Practice the Skill

3.Access understanding of the Skill

Phonics Activities for Struggling Readers

In this product, I start by introducing the phonics skill that we will be learning using the phonics poster. These posters can be hung around the classroom in easy eye sight for the student to use throughout the year. The teacher can also print out the posters and start a phonics binder with the student so they have the skill handy.

Practice Makes Perfect

Students must practice the skill in order to learn the phonics rule. When I have students practice, I like to have them near me at a small group table, on the floor of the classroom, or during tutoring. This product contains two short pages of examples that can be used to see if a student understands the skills. In the picture below, I have the worksheets cut in half and secured with a binder ring

Phonics Activities for Struggling Readers

Some other fun ways to use this practice sheet are:

  1. Using a clear sheet protector & Vis a Vis marker.
  2. Have students write their answers on a dry erase board and use fun colored Expo markers.
  3. Have a pair of students swap cards and be the teacher. The students can quiz each other to check for understanding.
Time to check for understanding

Once the teacher feels confident that the student understands the skill the best way to find out is to check for understanding. These worksheets use a repetitive format the see if they understand how to use this phonics skill when reading. With answer keys provided, the teacher can easily pin point which phonics still may need to be retaught to the student. I have found that using phonics activities for struggling readers to not only work well in lower grades in elementary but also helpful to students in the upper grades too!

Phonics Activities for Struggling Readers Worksheet

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