Jars, Fish, and paragraphs

Oh my gosh...
I couldn't wait to share this with you... I know I just posted yesterday BUT I am full of stuff I just have to get out there....
ok ok ok 
mason jars to be exact
But really any jar that has character...
jars jars jars...
that being said
can you guess that Donavon's Word Jar is one of my
FAVORITE books to read at the start of school...
I know I know I KNOW
I mentioned start of school
ACK I go back mid Aug... yikes
when do you go back?

anyways that was a *******squirrel*******
so since I love jars and

I came up with a super cute
Personal Word Jar Kit...
I am going to start it right away
probably the first week of school
OK maybe the 2nd
and then we will revisit it every 2 weeks or so
the way it is going to work is
Every few weeks we will have a word choice focus and they will be on the look out for the focus in their independent reading...
for example if  the focus is words other than said... then when they come across words other than said they can add them to their jars... I have detailed directions in the kit
but I think you get the gist of it right???

I am super excited about it :)
here is the link
Hopefully you love it too...
and my Mama said she saw plastic jars at the dollar store... how cute would it be for every kid to have their own real jar... Dollar Tree tomorrow... HOLLA for my mama!!!

OK I told you I had another reason for being absent from blogging... well it has to do with a THREE WEEK TRAINING
I am in ABYDOS training
now don't get me wrong... I LOVE IT
but my summer is slipping away while I am in this writing workshop... BUT I have tons of new ideas
and can't wait to share them with my kids... ONE is this one

this is such a funny story and unexpected FOR SURE
anywho... after you read this
you ask the kids to think of something they traded...
they are thinking in their heads... not sharing
shhhhhh quiet
continue to ask...
was it a good trade?
was it an unwanted trade?
and then you hand them a paper cut out FISH

and then have them write about their trade on the fish
be sure to tell them they won't have to share
UNLESS they want to
if they know they do NOT have to share they sometimes are more willing to take risks while writing
this was a GREAT activity and I already bought the book
a wonderful way to get a pre-writing started...
so what do you think... have you heard of this book?
the illustrations are AH-MAZING too... go grab you one :)

Speaking of my ABYDOS training...
we are treated like the kids we teach and we go through all of the writing processes as our trainers teach us different pre-writing strategies, editing,  and other amazing things...
we have a giant book

it is FULL of ideas and the processes and
this is the KICKER
all of these are research based
they tell you exactly why you should do it this way or that way...
really if you ever have the opportunity to do this training... YOU SHOULD
here is the link just in case you are curiouser...


one of the questions we were asked during training is...
what is a paragraph?
how do you teach paragraphs?
is there a standard?

OK now STOP and think about that...
really think about it!!!!
 the way you teach paragraphs... does it look like or sound like how you were taught paragraphs... SHAME
look at different books
are all of their paragraphs topic sentence based?
an indent doesn't mean a new paragraph it could mean emphasis
sometimes there is just ONE word
is that a paragraph?
where did paragraphs come from?
so are you thinking?
is it restricting our young writers to tell them it has to have a certain number of sentences... because does it?
is it a change in topic or thought???
is it a breather within a large drawn out scene?
what are you thinking?
i don't use paragraphs am I bad?
someone once posted in a forum that she didn't read blogs that didn't have paragraph... what ev
I told her NOT to visit me because i don't even have complete sentences HA

just thought I would share this little question with ya!!!
and I am not going to tell you the answer because there really isn't a concrete answer
so keep thinking about it... it is good to think about HOW WE TEACH!!!

Ok let your mind GROW!!!



  1. When I taught 4th grade, a portion of Donovan's Word Jar was in our basal. For a few years, I used jar shapes to make my word wall. So each letter was a jar about the size of a 12 x 18 piece of construction paper with the upper and lower case cut out letters glued onto it.

    1. that is such a cute idea :) thanks for sharing!!!

  2. Hey girl!!!! I'm gonna have to go find that book:) Looks awesome and super love that writing idea:) Thanks for sharing:) I know you have been supe busy but I am dying for some Farley fabulousness in my Monday Made Its.........hint hint hint......just sayin......Hugs!

    4th Grade Frolics

    1. Oh I have some things brewing FO SHO... don't you worry!!

  3. I think the paragraph thing depends on what kind of writing you are teaching...

    Like, in creative writing or story writing obviously you don't need to have the 5-sentence paragraph with topic and closing sentences and such.

    But if you are writing a paper in school, whether it's middle school or grad school, I think that organization and structure is incredibly important and professional.

    Like right now in my grad school paper I am (supposed to be) writing, I can't just start a new paragraph willy nilly! Haha!

    Just my two cents. :)

    Marvelous Multiagers!

    1. Jill, you made a wonderful point. Writing poetry is much different than writing for research. We need to allow our kiddos the opportunity to have fun and be spontaneous, yet we also need to teach them HOW to write a "proper" paragraph that will be scored well during high stakes testing. (insert sad face here!)


  4. Did you hear my minivan peeling out to go get plastic jars at the dollar store?
    I want to use them for decorating and of course manipulatives {holla for first grade!}
    Gone to the DS!

    1. don't buy them all save some for me :)

    2. Will they be less than a dollar at the Dollar Store? I love going to the Dollar Tree and the Dollar Spot at Target. -Mo

  5. Thank you for offering your jar activity at a price I can afford. :) A week of training must have been difficult during the summer. I am having a giveaway if you would like to check it out, come on over.

    Little Treasures

  6. Great thoughts on paragraphs..........am interested to look into this. And I love anything to do with jars!!!!

    Tales From a Traveling Teacher

  7. I'm a jar lover too! I am revamping my word wall and think I need to add the jar aspect to it! Love the Donovan book too!

    Apples and Papers

  8. I am so excited to be an official follower of the fabulous and famous Farley. (I thought I was already following you.) I am on the way to pick up word jars for my fifth grade kiddos. LOVE this idea. Must get the book. Thank you for all you wonderful ideas! -Mo

    (I go back to school August 3, and I have kiddos beginning on August 7.)

  9. One final question, how large were the fish you passed out? I have a Cricut, and know I can cut them out using it. They would have to be pretty large for kiddos to be able to write about a trade on one, true? -Mo

    1. they would have to be larger for kiddos to write on... the fish we used were about 8 inches long... these were cut by hand but I am sure using a cricut would make them super cute!!!

  10. I LOVE the way you write... it is the way I think :)

  11. I ordered both books from Amazon after I read your blog :)
    Teachers here go back August1st, kids come in August 8th. I teach 4th in Florida.
    I am waiting for the 'Cricut' answer, because I have one too :)I am going to look for a jar image and see if both the fish and jars for the Word Wall can be cut from the Cricut.
    I will be checking Dollar Tree for some jars.
    Thanks for such great ideas!

    Sheri R

    1. the fish we used were hand cut... and if you find a jar image for cricut let me know I LOVE jars :)

    2. On Cricut, there are jar images on the following:
      Boys Will Be Boys page 42
      Doodlecharms page 95 (the better one, I think)
      and a great fish on Create A Critter page 43.

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. OMG Farley!!!! ABYDOS training... I did it two summers ago and I have to admit it is truly a FANTABULOUS training and personal writing experience!!! It is pretty BEASTLY though...especially when you get HOMEWORK assignments!!!!( WELL...at least our presenters gave homework)

    @ " I told her NOT to visit me because i don't even have complete sentence Ha"... This is too funny!! I guess you told her!!
    I mean I thought that blogging was a way for people to freely and creatively express whatever they see fit. SERIOUSLY!!!! The nerve of some people!!!
    Oh and the word jars sound like a really good idea!!!!

  14. Hey there!

    I hope you can join me in my "Preparing for School" linky party @ {6th Grade} All-Stars

    Mrs. Crouse :)

  15. Teaching paragraphs is difficult, and I'm always posing the same questions! I think the way I was taught was the standard "3-5 sentences rule," which wasn't horrible, but there's more to it than that! I'm going to tell my kids this year to start a new paragraph each time a new character or important event comes along. For expository writing, I think paragraphs should be topic sentence driven to keep things organized. :)

  16. Great ideas! I am a following you now!
    If you have time stop by my blog and enter the giveaway!
    Brigid's Daily Lesson Log

  17. I am new to 4th Grade this year (from Kinder - BIG change, I know!) and I am a little (read: A LOT) nervous! I am so excited to have found your blog and your FANTASTIC ideas. I want to be you when I grow up!

  18. I LOVE LOVE LOVE that Neil Gaiman book. I've used it with my reluctant readers for several years. What I {LOVE} even more is your idea for brainstorming a story with it. It is so fantastic I can't wait to try it with my kiddos!!

    Well, I can wait a little longer. :)

    Thanks Farley!

  19. LOVE your Blog! So many good things to get my creativity started before I start back on the 6th! Thanks for sharing (:

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