How I Got Free Books for Every Child in my Classroom for an Entire Year!

Learn how to get free books for every child in your class for an entire year!
I put out a letter on Facebook and ended up sponsoring my entire class for a year’s worth of free books– all in less than 24 hours!

The night before school started, a friend (who is not in education), messaged me on Facebook. He wanted to share a great idea with me: Scholastic Sponsors for the classroom. He passed along a letter that he’d seen floating around, and wanted to know if it was something that interested me.

I read the letter, and not having anything to lose, I posted my own version to my friends and family on Facebook. Here is what I wrote:

Letter for Scholastic Book  Sponsors

I put the post “out there” and then went to bed with the normal night-before-school jitters. When I woke up, I had many friends and family members who had commented and asked to be a sponsor. By the time school got out, and I had a chance to look at my phone again, I had enough sponsors for every kid in my class– and then some! In less than 24 hours, I had gotten my entire class sponsored.

People I hadn’t spoken to in years asked to help. People were moved because they had fond memories of poring over the catalogs, selecting their books. People remembered their kids coming home with Scholastic catalogs and not being able to get them a book every time. People just wanted to support literacy in my classroom.

I ended up with 30 or so sponsors for the year. I realized it was nice to have a “reserve” in case a new student moved in, and I was able to purchase an extra book or two for the classroom library each month. I got an extra book per kid before winter break, and I was able to buy an extra book to send home with each kid on the last day of school. My students left 4th grade with 11 books on their home bookshelves. Every. Single. Student.

Each month, we took a photo with our books and I posted them, thanking our sponsors. It truly made #bookboxday a special one.

This idea has changed my classroom and I will continue to look for sponsors every school year. I hope you will try it, too!

FAQ’S:

How? Post a letter on social media asking for sponsors. FOR A FREE TEMPLATE, check out my TPT store! CLICK HERE for the Free Template!

Who? I sent the letter out on my personal Facebook page. I asked MY friends and family to donate, not student families. Do what works for you, though.

When? I did a book each month from Sept-May (June is too hectic for me, personally, to deal with a book order!). If you have multiple classes, or want to start small, you could do every other month, or twice a year for that matter!

How does payment work? I asked for checks made payable to Scholastic Book Clubs and sent them in with my first book order of the year. They then put a credit on my account, which I would draw from each month.

I did have a few people pay me via Venmo/Paypal. In that case, I sent the money to my checking account and wrote out a check to Scholastic for the total amount.

How do I select the books? Scholastic has $1 books each month, in the fliers. I also checked for the weekly dollar deals and in other catalogs on the website that they did not send me. The first month, every child got the same book. After that, I gave students a choice between 2-4 books that were $1.

Admin? PLEASE ask for admin permission if you feel the need to do so!

Photos of kids: Please be aware of FERPA laws if you choose to send photos of your students and their books to sponsors. You will need parent permission.

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

Have you heard? Teachers Pay Teachers is hosting a Teacher Appreciation Sale! That means my entire store will be up to 25% off, using the code GIFT4YOU!

Here’s two tips to make the most of this two day sale!

1. Start by heading to my Instagram (@learningonleightonlane) and entering to win a $10 TPT giftcard. Act fast– my giveaway ends at 10pm, Tuesday, May 7, 2019! While you are there, look for a myriad of other giveaways. Doesn’t hurt to enter them all!

2. Head to my TPT store and load up your cart! Check out your wish list, and leave feedback on previous purchases to get TPT credits! That way, when those gift card winnings come rolling in, you are ready to click “purchase”.

Teachers Pay Teachers Appreciation Sale is May 7 & 8, 2019.  Shop the sale using the code  GIFT4YOU for an extra 5% off!
Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! Here’s to a fantastic school year!

I hope you have a wonderful week full of well behaved children and as few meetings as possible. Hey, maybe that grading fairy will come around and magically grade that stack that’s been sitting untouched for a while. Hmm, maybe not, but a teacher can dream, right?

Lots of teacher love is headed your way! -Erika

April Book Roundup

April was one for the books (get it?)!

There’s nothing better than a new book, especially when you’re a classroom teacher. Fourth graders still love picture books, and we read and received plenty this month! We also were able to read a poetry anthology and a whole class novel. Check out our books of the month below!

Raise Your Hand by Alice Paul Tapper, Illustrated by Marta Kissi

Raise Your Hand by Alice Paul Tapper, Illustrated by Marta Kissi
This adorable book was written by a 10 year old girl, Alice Paul Tapper. The illustrations by Marta Kissi are just darling!

My mom surprised me by sending this book to me after seeing the author on Oprah and Ellen. Alice Paul Tapper is a girl scout who was inspired to create her own badge in Girl Scouts- helping girls to feel confident and brave in school! Alice Paul Tapper’s Girl Scout badge spawned a national movement to give girls more confidence. She is a wonderful role model and her book is perfect for the classroom!

The Atlas of Monsters by Sandra Lawrence & Stuart Hill

The Atlas of Monsters: Mythical Creatures from Around the World by Sandra Lawrence & Stuart Hill
This book caused quite the uproar when it entered my classroom! My students were geeking out!

My husband actually asked me not to bring this book in to school so that he could explore its’ pages! The Atlas of Monsters: Mythical Creatures from Around the World by Sandra Lawrence & Stuart Hill is insanely beautiful. It’s perfect for any mythology lover or world traveler.

This book has many layers- it’s an atlas, a journal, a found text annotated with librarian’s notes, a mystery, and a code book. It just came out on April 23, 2019 from Running Press Books. My class highly recommends this book!

The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart

The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart
This book moved me to tears on several occasions. I know my students will forever remember this book!

Sometimes you read a book that stays with you for days after reading. The characters and story have found their way into your heart and changed you. That’s what happened to me and my class when we read this book together.

Coyote travels the US on a refurbished school bus with her dad, Rodeo, and her cat, Ivan. Coyote’s backstory is devastating, and as you learn more about her past, you heart will break, and you will love her even more fiercely.

Coyote’s relationship with Rodeo is complicated (“Don’t let him know that he’s my dad,” she warns a young boy), and she’s on a mission to recover something precious- something that she hasn’t thought about for five years.

Coyote will make you laugh, make you cry, make you incredibly thankful, and make you hug your loved ones close. I won’t tell you more than that- I do not want to spoil it- just know that you need to pick up this book. It’s truly remarkable.

The Tallest Tree House by Elly MacKay

The Tallest Tree House by Elly MacKay
This gorgeous book is perfect for STEAM/building community!

The plot of this sweet picture book will initially bring to mind the classic tale of the Tortoise and the Hare, but it has its’ own fresh twist. Initially competing against each other, Mip and Pip combine forces to show that the best- and tallest- tree house is best built together. (Released April 23, 2019 from Running Press Books)

The Carnival of Wishes & Dreams by Jenny Lundquist

The Carnival of Wishes & Dreams by Jenny Lundquist
I recommend this book for 5th grade and up- I especially loved the themes of social media and the roles it plays in our lives today.

@kidlitexchange #partner Thank you to the #kidlitexchange network, author @jenny_lundquist, and @simonkids for the review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Grace, Harlow, and Audrey are best friends, just like their three dads were growing up. They used to be, that is, until a fire destroyed their town’s factory and took the life of Grace’s dad.

The anniversary of the fire is approaching, as is the once-a-year Carnival of Wishes and Dreams. The three girls all secretly receive “pumpkin-grams” telling them to meet at the Ferris wheel at midnight. Could their wishes possibly come true? Will their friendship be repaired?

With themes of friendship, loss, and growing up, along with a healthy dose of social media-caution, I can see pre-teen girls loving this tale. 

Ollie Oxley and the Ghost: The Search for Lost Gold by Lisa Schmid

Ollie Oxley and the Ghost: The Search for Lost Gold
I loved this non-spooky ghost mystery, and will be adding it to my classroom library.

@kidlitexchange #partner Thank you to the #kidlitexchange network, @jollyfishpress and author @lisalschmid for the review copy of this book! All opinions are my own.

Ollie and his family are constantly moving. When they move back to his mom’s hometown of Granite City, California, Ollie doesn’t expect to stay long. He has a hard time making friends, so he’s surprised when he meets someone new right away… Teddy, who happens to be a ghost!

Having a ghost for a best friend doesn’t help Ollie much. He immediately becomes the target of the school bully, the obnoxious Aubrey Kelly. To make things worse, his mom’s new job is in peril and they may already have to move again!

With Teddy’s help, can Ollie defeat the bully and find a stash of gold to save his mom’s new job?

I recommend this humorous, mysterious, and fast paced book for kids grade 4 and up. The surprise ending is sure to satisfy its’ readers! 

I’m Just No Good at Rhyming and Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-Ups by Chris Harris, Illustrated by Lane Smith

I'm Just No Good at Rhyming and Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-Ups by Chris Harris, Illustrated by Lane Smith
My students begged me to read the title poem every day, as well as their second favorite, “The Island Where Everyone’s Toby”!

High on the list of authors my class is obsessed with is poet Chris Harris. My students could not get over his goofy poems. They beg to re-read the titular poem every day, so we actually wrote our own versions. My kids rose to the challenge of imitating Chris’s poetry and I could not have been prouder.

If you’re looking for fun, highly-engaging poetry to share with any mischievous kids or immature grown-ups, get your hands on this anthology! It’s a must have for any elementary classroom or child’s bookshelf.

The Atlas Obscura: Explorer’s Guide for The World’s Most Adventurous Kid by Dyaln Thuras and Rosemary Mosco, Illustrated by Joy Ang

The Atlas Obscura: Explorer's Guide for The World's Most Adventurous Kid by Dyaln Thuras and Rosemary Mosco, Illustrated by Joy Ang
This book is so much fun! Travel from incredible place to incredible place, all without leaving the edge of your seat!

Two atlases in one month? My adventure seeking class is also newly obsessed with this gorgeous Atlas! Your journey starts in Iceland, and crisscross the world, hopping from place to place. Each new hot spot is connected to the one before it, and is sure to ignite wanderlust in even the most weary traveler. Do you know an adventurous kid? They need this book!

If you are moved to purchase any of the books based on my reviews here on the blog, on Goodreads, or on Instagram, I would be honored if you would purchase through my Amazon affiliate link. Thank you! -EL

Mixed Number Bingo

Mixed number bingo board game for elementary school classrooms
A fun way to practice converting improper fractions to mixed numbers is by playing Mixed Number Bingo!

My class has been working on fractions for what seems like forever. I was dreaming up ways to practice converting improper fractions to mixed numbers, and this Mixed Number Bingo game was born!

students playing mixed number bingo easily convert improper fractions to mixed numbers and have fun
Students will beg to play Mixed Number Bingo!

I introduced the game in my small group rotations during math workshop. This worked well because I loosely group by high, middle, and low. My students all surprised me, though, and TOOK OFF playing this game! They had previous experience converting improper fractions to mixed numbers, but were having trouble remembering the steps. Having a fast paced game helped many of my slower workers get into a groove!

We had a blast racing through the conversions in order to get the bingo boards filled in. One student only had a few spots filled in on their board. They exclaimed, “Wow, I did all of those math problems without getting bingo!” Another kid responded, “It’s just Mrs. L’s secret plot to grow our brains, by making math fun so we don’t even notice!”

Yep, that’s exactly it.

“It’s just Mrs. L’s secret plot to grow our brains, by making math fun so we don’t even notice!”

4th grade student
Mixed number bingo fill the outside of the board to win
Another fun way to win bingo is by filling all of the outside squares.

We are going to play again tomorrow, this time in teams. I want game play to go a little bit more quickly. What we will do is have one person be “Player A” and another student be “Player B”. I will call out two improper fractions, one for each player. They will then solve simultaneously, and work together to cover the same bingo board.

Even my slowest, most reluctant math students were scribbling frantically on their whiteboards today, and we solved probably close to 50 problems today. Typically these students would drag their feet and take an hour to solve 10 worksheet problems. Games in the math classroom are so motivating for kids, and this Mixed Number Bingo game really did its’ job. It will be in the rotation for years to come!

Mixed Number Bingo is available in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store. Here is a direct link: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Mixed-Number-Bingo-4503076 Happy Playing!

-Mrs. Leighton @learningonleightonlane

Mixed number bingo fill the outside of the board to win
Another fun way to win bingo is by filling all of the outside squares.

Meet Mrs. Leighton

Hello! I’m Mrs. Leighton, otherwise known as @learningonleightonlane!

4th grade teacher @learningonleightonlane smiling and welcoming you to her classroom
Welcome to my 4th grade classroom! I’ve been a 4th grade teacher for five years.

On my blog and instagram, you can find me gushing over middle grade novels and picture books on a regular basis. You can expect me to share math strategies and games that I’ve created for my classroom. You can expect positivity, a love of education, and a warm welcome- I am so glad you are here and that we are connected on this little corner of the internet.

You Need a Blog

I’ve been hearing one sentence over and over again for the past few months. If you’re on teacher instagram, you’ve probably heard it, too. You know, this little sentence:

You need a blog.

Everyone

Those four little words have scared me. Publishing a blog is a step way outside of my comfort zone. I don’t blog. I’m someone who teaches kids how to read, how to multiply two-digit numbers by two-digit numbers, and what a push vs. a pull is. I repeat: I don’t blog. Until now.

Welcome to the start of my blog, Learning on Leighton Lane. If you found me via instagram, @learningonleightonlane, WELCOME! If you found me some other way, WELCOME! I’m so glad you’re here.

Now let’s blog.