Happy Tuesday! Today, I am going to share with you 2 of my favorite piggy reads. Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved pigs. My dad grew up on a farm. When we would visit his childhood home, I would always stop by to see the little oinkers. The book above is my ALL time favorite.
It is out of print, but such a great classic for pig lovers. Jillian is asked to clean up her room where she finds buttons and other materials to make piggies. She creates a whole piggy family. At the end of the book, the author leaves detailed instructions on how to create your own sock piggy.

The Princess and the Pig is a cute fractured fairy tale of a princess and the farmer's new piglet. The story leads you through their struggles. Can a pig kiss a frog to find her prince?

This book is great to use when mentoring writing. A wonderful example text. I have on this new bandwagon about showing students examples of well done work from picture books. 

I want to share with you something so special that my mom created for my 30th birthday. She told me she saved a certain recipe she found in Taste of Home since 2009. She created these adorable piggy cookies. Did you know that March 1st is National Pig Day?!!! Click on this link to go to recipe.

Are you an avid Melonheadz purchaser? Me too! Her clip art is AMAZING. When I look at her designs, I see love jumping from each clip. I decided I wanted my very own Melonheadz Mini-Me. I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE (did I say LOVE), my Courtney Melonheadz. Take a look.
Interested in your own Melonheadz design? Here is the link to order one. CLICK

Hello! On Friday, I turn the BIG THREE-ZERO! I can't believe the time is here. Just yesterday, it seems I was walking across the stage getting my high school diploma. I'm excited for this milestone because I think with age comes wisdom, more experiences, fun, and more pictures to add to my camera roll. This past 30 years have been wonderful. I have learned to ride a bike, moved 8 times, had my first kiss, graduated from high school, joined a sorority, walked across the stage Magma Cum Laude, had my first teaching job, had many movie nights with my parents, completed my Master's degree, owned over 1300 children's literature books, gained the best nephew in the world, laughed with great friends, and inspired teachers with my blog, Ramona Recommends. WOW! Just listing these events makes me feel proud. I want to give back to the blogging community and teacher community for welcoming me into this AMAZING group of inspiring, creative, and heart warming educators. Without further ado....

To say thank you, I have invited my TOP 30 favorite sellers on Teachers Pay Teachers to share in my birthday excitement. A HUGE thank you goes out to all 30 sellers. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for making my 30th birthday celebration ROCKIN! I am so excited to introduce who the "birthday presents" will be from...

Every time I look at this picture, I get excited. So! I hope you are too. Here is how the giveaway will work. It will start bright and early Monday, April 21st and go through Friday, April 25th at 11:59pm Please make sure to read this section as there are a few ground rules to enter. Because this is a huge giveaway, I broke down the presents into three groups. You may enter all 3 giveaways. Please do what is asked of you to enter. I know it can be a little daunting if there are 10003 (or 30) tasks for one giveaway; that is why I made 3 different giveaways. I just ask as a gift to me you follow the rules. I want my Top 30 sellers to get love as well. ***If you enter all three giveaways, you only need to do Ramona Recommends stuff once.***The 3 Winners will be announced and emailed that weekend (possibly Monday). Those three winners will receive emails from the donors with the birthday present they won. For example: If Rita Book entered Birthday Present 1 and WON, she would get all those treats only. So! I suggest entering all 3. You never know you; could win all three! :)
 Inside Birthday Present #1
Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd loves Parts of Speech Scoot and More
Teaching and Much Moore loves Cooking Up Comprehension
Teacher to the Core loves Comprehension and Fluency 101
A Kindergarten Life for Me loves Winner's Choice
Easy Teaching Tools loves Summer Literacy Handbook K-3
Sparkling in Second loves Spin a Modifier (Activity for Adverbs and Adjectives)
Laugh Love Learn loves Sun, Sand, and Math
All Y'All Need loves A Unit Inspired by Goldilocks and the 3 Bears
Meet Miss Parker loves Spring Differentiated Reading Comprehension Passages
Mrs. Peterson Loves to Teach loves I can Statements Common Core 1st Grade
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 Inside Birthday Present #2
Ramona Recommends loves The Scoop about Close Reading
Teaching with a Mountain View loves Addition and Subtraction Task Cards
Oh Boy 4th Grade loves Winner's Choice
Melonheadz Illustrations loves Beauty Bundle 
KG Fonts loves One Font Single Font License
Ideas by Jivey loves Because of Winn Dixie Novel Unit
One Extra Degree loves GLUE IT! Multi-Step High Order Thinking Interactive Journals
The Library Fox loves Winner's Choice/$5 or under clip art set
Lesson with Laughter loves Winner's Choice
The Brown Bag Teacher loves ROOTS Hands On Activities for Greek/Latin Root Words

 Inside Birthday Present #3
The Science Penguin loves Science Notebook Activities
Teaching in Room 6 loves Is it Summer Yet Palm Poet-Tree
Free to Teach loves Figuartive Langauge Unit
Teach. Inspire. Change. loves Position Research Paper Unit 
Beach Lovin' Teach loves Mr. Brown's Precepts Classroom Posters
Fourth & Ten loves Spelling Contracts Through the Year
Sailing into Second loves Spring into Learning 6 Literacy and Math Centers
For the Love of Teaching loves Editable End of the Year Candy Bar Awards
4th grade Frolics loves Rounding, Rounding, and Ordering Too Math Activities
Where the Wild Things Learn loves ELA Common Core Review and Test Prep a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you so much for coming to my birthday party aka 30th birthday giveaway. It was a pleasure to be your hostess. Go check out these amazing seller's blogs and Teachers Pay Teachers stores! Many of these sellers have Instagram accounts too. If you want to follow me on Insta CLICK HERE!

Side Note: There will be no Tuesday with Ramona Recommends blog post  this week, but I will post some of my new favorite picture books on Instagram throughout the week.

I know it is not Tuesday, but I HAD to share with you some exciting news. Have you ever been to a conference where you sing to get the party started? Yep! We had an audience full of adults singing, "Oh, Lets Go Fly a Kite...". Today, I went to the Orange County Reading Association Spring Conference to hear Alexis O'Neill, author of the well known children's picture book, The Recess Queen. What a joy to listen to her explain and guide teachers in Common Core Writing. Today, I learned the following:
1. Alexis O'Neill is a hilarious and wonderful speaker.
2. A new genre term (for me): ---Fictionalized Biographies
3. To help students with their writing, have them research pictures. (great for report writing) Asking questions based on observations will build vocabulary for writing.
4. Students can use narrative guiding questions to help write non-fiction text.
5. Instead of asking students "What would it be like if you were Abraham Lincoln?", change the question to a place. "What would it be like to be (at) Mount Rushmore?"

My afternoon gets better! So! During her presentation, she talked about fictionalized biographies, stories using real events with fictional aspects, and referred to Mumbet's Declaration of Independence. This is a big deal because just on Monday I guest blogged at Ideas with Jivey talking about that EXACT book. #authorsandramonarecommendsthinkalike!

She read aloud her newest picture book entitled, "The Kite that Bridged Two Nations". What a great experience to hear an author read her own book. She shared with us how she researched for the book. It was really inspiring. I enjoyed listening about all of the different avenues she utilizes to write.

After the conference, I purchased 3 of her picture books. Reviews to come (BELOW). Alexis was such a gracious author and personally signed all of my books. I was even brave enough to ask for a picture with her. She graciously accepted. Eeek! I told her about my blog Ramona Recommends. Alexis, if you are reading this, thank you from the bottom of my heart for stopping by! I hope to meet again! Love, Courtney

Teachers! The next three books are MUSTS in your classroom. Alexis O'Neill's word choice is like eating ice cream all day. You just want more and more.

Bouncity, Kickity, Swingity!
This book is wonderful for all sorts of classroom fun. The Recess Queen is about a classroom bully who thinks she is #1. She bosses and pushes until Katie Sue shows up. Katie Sue teaches Meanie Jeanie how to be a good friend. I think this book is great for students to see real life examples of rhyming words, vivid writing, and how to capture the reader.  Oh! Teachers, Alexis has provided a wonderful teacher guide to use when exploring this book. For more details click here.
Don't forget to read during Anti-Bullying week in October!

This gem is Alexis' newest book. Do you have students who love adventure? Come learn about Horman Walsh's experience as a boy flying kites. As I listened to Alexis read this book, all I could think about was DETERMINATION. This story is a wonderful reminder to students that hard work takes determination. You always have to start before you can finish~a history lesson and heart warming story in one. The author even describes the different events in the story that are realistic and which are fictional. Need a mentor text to foster vivid openings? Guess what, I just found you one! Look no further. You're Welcome. :)

You know that one student who is really LOUD INSIDE THE CLASSROOM? Let me introduce, Loud Emily, a tall tale about a LOUD little one who lives on a ship. First, the author provides a mini sailing dictionary at the beginning of the book to help any non-sailors with their matey vocabulary. This book is a wonderful reminder that all children have their special gifts or not so special gifts. BUT! They are all gifts! We should embrace ourselves and use our skills to the best of our abilities. I love in the book how the words ARE CAPITALIZED for when LOUD EMILY is SCREAMING!

Thank you for stopping by!
Happy Tax Day. If you haven't sent in your taxes, this is your friendly reminder. GO SEND IN YOUR TAXES! :) Love, Ramona Recommends

It is my spring break! Wahooo! Last week, I went to Barnes and Noble. This happens frequently probably more frequently than it should. I can't help it! I learn about new books, and I must go check them out. #marketresearch! Well! While I was there, I ran into a sparkling, dazzling, magnificant gem. A is for Awesome is an alphabet book that cheers on its reader through encouraging statements. How perfect for TEST TAKING! I am always looking for encouraging quotes or words to share with my students.

Oh! Yesterday I did a guest appearance over at Ideas by Jivey. I chatted about 3 of my favorite children's lit biographies. Go check it out! You might even get a freebie!!! :)

Happy Spring Break!

Today I am a guest blogger at Ideas by Jivey. Go swing by her blog to read my post AND see her adorable blog. Jivey is the guru of Mentor Sentences. If you don't know what those are, you better pop on over and learn. They are the GREATEST way to teach language and reading skills.
Ideas by Jivey
I also have a freebie waiting with your name on it!

Today was day one of my Spring Break. So far so GREAT!
I am linking up with Miss DeCarbo from Sugar and Spice for Wordless Wednesday. This is my first time linking up. EXCITED! I found this on Erin Condern's Insta.

What is something YOU DO that makes you feel GREAT?
Hi Friends! Happy Tuesday. I can't believe my Spring Break is JUST around the corner. Since I am a list maker extraordinaire, I have everyday filled with fun and not so fun activities. The not so fun activity would be to go through all my computer files and organize them. I am getting a little worried that my computer has gained A LOT of weight since I started selling on TpT. She needs to workout and then I will reward her with a new external hard-drive.

You are probably wondering what I am doing for fun? or not. Since my birthday is right around the corner (4/25) my mom and I are going to do a girl's day on Monday and look for a 30th birthday party dress. It will be a fun day of gabbing, eating, shopping, and spending time with my best friend. SCORE! Speaking of my mom, I let her pick out today's Ramona Recommends. I told her she could pick the book, as long as I owned the book in my library, and she could give me evidence to back up her choice. Do I sound Common Core or what?! Momma Ramona Recommends chose The Jellybeans and the Big Dance.
Are you ready to hear her evidence? "When I was pregnant with you, all I wanted to do was eat Jellybeans!" Mom, I love you!

Why does Ramona Recommends recommend this book? It is a great opener for learning about working together as a group. Sometimes you have to fail before you can try again. (Try!, by Pink-great song). Also wonderful for learning how to problem solve. I love the spring colors of the graphics and of course one of the characters is a PIG! :)

Are you following me on Instagram? ramonarecommends

Oh! I suggest you stop by my blog the week of April 21st; something HUGE is happening.

What is your favorite April book?

Hello! Oh, I love that Destiny's Child song. When I was in high school, I would blast this song in my car. Today, I want to share with you my Monday Made It! This is my first one! :) Such a fun idea that Tara from 4th Grade Frolics came up with. You should totally check out her blog.
Last year when I was a long term substitute in 4th grade, I came up with this fun and creative way to identify student desks for Open House. I created name tags for each student to display on his or her desk the night of OH. It was pretty easy, but also time intensive! Here is how I did it!
The students logged into Tagxedo and created a name cloud. I asked them to type their first name 8 times, their middle name 3 times, and their last name 5 times. The more times you type a word, the bigger it will show in the word cloud. Then, the students picked their shape. The website has MANY options from pigs, Abraham Lincoln, LOVE, apples, and much more. The students also picked the color scheme that best represented their personality. I had my WONDERFUL aide cut out the shapes, and I brought them home to make them pop! At Michaels, they had colored pattern paper in bundles for a fare price of $15-$20. Each bundle came with over 100 sheets. I glued each word cloud onto a piece of patterned paper and then attached that piece to another patterned paper. I glued all the pieces together and then adorned each name tag with a ruler ribbon. Oh just to be worned-there is A LOT of cutting! :) Get those Fiskars blades sharpened! Here is my copy. I LOVED the way they turned out. Many kids took them home for their bedroom door.

 The students also created word clouds "All About Me" poems. The students were asked to match their name tag shape to their poem. I placed them around the room and the parents had to guess which one was their child's. The kids and parents loved it. Here is an example I did for the kids. I love piggies!

Check back tomorrow for a Tuesday-Ramona Recommends!
Hello and welcome! I am so glad you are here for Ramona Recommends' FIRST ebook club. I have to give my dad credit for the (ebook club) line. Dad! There is your first online shout-out. If we haven't officially met (online), I'm Courtney, creator of Ramona Recommends. Nice to meet you. Click here if you want to learn how I started this blog.
For a friendly reminder, you might want to follow me on Bloglovin or Google to make sure you don't miss out on each month's reveal. Eeekkk!

April's book club will run from today, Wednesday, April 2nd until Wednesday, May 7th.

For this month's discussion let's focus on the following:
1. Introduce yourself to the group: Share your name, blog/instagram name, what grade you teach, and a little bit about yourself.  *Remember, you do not need a blog to be a part of this discussion. You can just leave a comment below this post. :)

2. How might you use this novel in your classroom?

3. Please respond back to 2-3 new book club friends throughout the month. 

Don't forget to follow me for updates :)

Feel free to share the book club button on your instagram and blog pages. This is going to be fun. Again, WELCOME and thank you for your support!

Button Credits: Melonheadz and Lovin Lit and KG Fonts

Hello! Hope you enjoy learning more about me through Farley's Currently. Go link up! It is so fun. I actually get super excited the night before, when I know CURRENTLY will be released the next day. #truestory

Over winter break, I found a new group through Itunes that I love! It is an acapella group of women and men who sing popular songs. Here is the video I first heard that had me hooked. Click to listen. Below is my new favorite. AMAZING!

I love chunky necklaces. I am a true believer that jewelery can transform a whole outfit. Want to see how I paired two necklaces together? Click here! You can never go wrong with chunky necklaces. I find most of my fun neck-wear at Franceca's, Nordstrom or Forever 21. Currently, loving two different necklaces put together to make one bold statement.
Tomorrow is a big day for Ramona Recommends. She (yes, the blog is a she) is launching Ramona Recommends' Book Club. I have had many emails of interest. So, I am excited. Just hope everything works out. I have told people interested that this is my first online book club for teachers. We are going to learn together. It will be great. If you are interested, check back here tomorrow for the BIG reveal. I am SUPER SUPER excited.*I just reread this to check for errors, and I am laughing. This paragraph sounds like I am standing in front of my mirror reassuring myself. Dear Self- This is going to be great! :)
Yes, it is happening whether I like it or not. When I wake up on Friday, April 25, I will be 30. Honestly, I am excited because I feel that every year I learn more and become a better person. So this birthday girl needs a new cute party dress for her 30th celebration. Don't worry, I already have my date with Nordy's on my calendar during Spring Break. OH by the way, (hint, hint, hint... You might want to check back at Ramona Recommends during my birthday week for A HUGE HUGE surprise. It is going to be BIG!

After Turbo Kick Box, I need to run to Target. I am creating a special gift for a special friend. It involves many yellow products. Once I give her this gift tomorrow, I will post it on instagram. :) I hope it makes her smile ear to ear.

 There aren't enough in the day! My position is part time. I wake up at 6:15 and I am out the door by 7:10. With lovely Southern California traffic, I have to give my stuff plenty of time on the freeway. I get to school at 8am and leave 12:30. I run home eat a quick lunch. I live about 30 minutes away from my school. After lunch, I pack up all my tutoring gear and head out the door. Yes, I also have a tutoring business called, "Tutor with Heart". Then, I head to the gym most days. I come home eat dinner and shower. Next, (I have created Ramona Recommends office hours) I will work on writing posts, answering emails, picking books, or working on TpT products. Then, I will plan or do Courtney life until I go to bed. Wow! I am exhausted thinking about all of this. You know what? I LOVE IT! I know my life is going to keep changing for the better and my schedule will be different. So for right now, I will enJOY it! OH, and I get out of school June 25th.

Can't wait to learn about you!

Happy Tuesday! As I scroll through instagram, read facebook updates, and browse blogs, I notice one common theme. TESTING is upon us! Our testing isn't until May, but many schools are in full force preparing and preparing some more. As a kid, I remember taking these tests and always being the last one done. I don't remember if the teachers did anything special to help us get excited. I just remember the tests were NO fun. My first year of teaching which was not long ago, my principal and administrators put on one FABULOUS show to pump up the kids for AIMS. I was blown away. It was definitely a moment to remember. Testing is a stinky thing we must do. I am all in favor of helping children understand the importance of the testing. BUT! I am also a huge supporter in creating encouraging messages, creating games, and reminding them to breathe in order to help ease the nerves.

To celebrate the state testing calendar, I want to recommend:
The cute story pokes fun at all the prep teachers and students must endure during the testing window. It also celebrates all the hard work students do in order to SHOW WHAT THEY KNOW. I will be reading this before all the testing craziness begins. I'm off to show what I know about creating a lesson on subtracting integers :).

Tomorrow is Ramona Recommends' ebook club kick off. Wanna join? Email me at {ramonarecommends@gmail.com}.

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