Author Archives: creationcastle

The Importance of Never Giving Up

Author Study Promo - EJK

Have you seen the excitement children get when they discover a new author and all the text they have written? As an avid reader my whole life, I can’t pinpoint the moment that I fell in love with books. However, I can remember the moments I fell in love with particular authors. As a young reader there are so many books that are enticing, but may not hold value. As a teacher, it is our responsibility to lead our students in the right direction. While we may all like various genres, texts, or authors, there are some authors and  books that almost everyone loves.

I’ve teamed up with six teacher-author friends to provide you with some great ideas and resources for conducting an author study on Ezra Jack Keats. As you make your way through our blogs, you’ll find out about Keats and walk away with some great free resources!

Keats Quote 2

Author Fact:
Growing up during the Depression, Keats’ family did not have much. They could barley meet their basic needs, despite Ezra wanting to pursue his passion for art, his family could not supply him with art materials. So instead of working with paints and canvas, Ezra drew on everything in his house – including his kitchen table! His mother supported him wholeheartedly and his love for art was able to grow over the years until he could really focus on it.

Whistle for Willie

Keats’ third book published was Whistle for Willie. This book is a sequel to Snowy Day and features the main character Peter. Peter appears in seven of Keats’ books (several of which you will see in the blog hop). Throughout this story, Peter struggles with his inability to whistle. His spends the entire day practicing because he wants to whistle for his dog. In the end, Peter finally manages to whistle and Willie comes running!

Cross Curricular Activities

There are so many ways you can use this trade book for teaching! Here are just a few ideas…

Language Arts

* Prepositions: Throughout the story the text and illustrations show Peter in different positions (i.e. around, in, on, under, etc.) – use this opportunity to introduce or review prepositions. Have students act out the story to get them moving and connecting the words with actions.

* Verbs: The book is full of verbs! While you’re reading the story aloud, have the students clap or raise their hand every time they hear a verb.

* Word Study: The title alone provides two choices – alliteration or /wh/ words

Social Studies

The illustrations show several places throughout Peter’s city. Create a chart comparing Peter’s city to your city. When taking a deeper look at where Peter is in the story, take the opportunity to remind your students about safety outside! Peter certainly should not be walking around the streets alone or hiding in strange boxes outside.


Depending on your class, some of your students may not know how to whistle. As an adult who can’t whistle, I went in search of a way that anyone can whistle! Try creating a paper or straw whistle with your students. It may not sound like a person whistling, but you will still make some fun noises.

To grab some freebies to use with this story, click on the picture below!

Whistle for Willie

Whistle for Willie will teach your students to never give up! Peter shows us that as long as we keep trying we can achieve our goals. Head over to The Reading Tutor/OG to learn about the next book in our author study!

peters chair


Sharpen Memory Skills

Worksheet Free Wed

You know those moments in the day where you have just enough time for students to go crazy but not enough time to actually work on something? One of my students’ favorite things to do during those moments is to play a memory game. We sit in a circle on the carpet and I name a topic. Their absolute favorite was food… they were always hungry! Sometimes the topic is more specific, such as fruits or animals that live in the woods. The tricky part of the game is that everyone has to remember what all the people before them said.


1. No talking unless it is your turn

2. Stay in your spot

3. Do not give hints to other people (unless teacher says it is okay)

4. When it is your turn, start with the first person from the game (usually the teacher) and go around the circle naming everyone’s item. When you have named all the items before you, add your own item to the list.

sharpen memory skills

Here is an example of how the game works:

Ms. S: pancakes

O: pancakes, strawberries

X: pancakes, strawberries, yogurt

….we would continue going around the circle listening carefully to our classmates and strengthening our memory skills. Of course sometimes someone would say something that was “hilarious”… one of our friends ALWAYS said ramen noodles. And every time the class would burst out laughing.

What activities to you use as time fillers?

Worksheet Free Wednesday!

Worksheet Free Wed

As our society becomes more dependent on technology, there is a definite push to use more tech-related materials in our classrooms. There are countless points as to why this is important for our students… however we need to make sure that we are not deviating too far from the tried and true practice of teaching!

My district required this past school year that Wednesdays be “worksheet-free”. My students looked forward to Wednesdays because we spent a lot of time watching videos, doing experiments, learning outside, etc.

I’m challenging myself [and you!] to use the worksheet-free Wednesday mentality! On future Wednesday posts, I will be sharing various activities or resources that you can use to facilitate your new Wednesday motto!


I actually saw this fun activity on an improv show called Riot. Basically you can give your students letters to make or words to spell out using only their bodies. For an added challenge, you can require this be a silent activity! This could be done as a whole class or even in centers. If you wanted the students to do the activity in small groups, have them snap a picture of their letter formations for the class to guess later!

Puppets from A-Z

Color. Cut. Glue. Color. Cut. Glue. As a kindergarten teacher, how many times do you say those words through the year? Or even throughout one day? One time I never had to repeat those directions was when we made puppets. In fact, after we made a few puppets, I didn’t have to give the kids directions at all.


One of my students’ favorite alphabet activities was creating a puppet for each letter. I on the other hand, had a hard time putting these puppets into the plans. They were great at the beginning of the year… practice coloring, cutting, and gluing. Fantastic fine motor practice. However as the year progresses and the students’ skills progress, I didn’t see a lot of value in the activity.

My other pet peeve about these puppets was they rarely made sense. I mean when do you ever see a talking umbrella? I didn’t have much time during the school year to think about how to improve the activity, but summer is the perfect time to reflect!

I managed to find a type of person for every letter of the alphabet.

Puppet List

My initial thought while creating these puppets was that there needed to be something meaningful for the students to do in combination with them. One thing that my students could always use a little practice with was their handwriting. For each puppet, I created a quick handwriting sheet to practice writing both upper- and lower-case letters.

D is for doctor.Right-click on the image to save this freebie!

I would have my students complete the handwriting page correctly before they would get the opportunity to make the puppet. Each puppet has two pages – a top page with the head and a bottom page with the body. Each puppet page is labeled in case they get separated.

doctor puppet

You can grab all 26 puppets and their coordinating handwriting page for $12.50 in my TpT store. That is only $0.50 a puppet!

Alphabet Puppets Cover

13 Prize Giveaway!

I hope you have enjoyed all the freebies over the past 13 days! All good things must come to an end and today is no different.  Today your last opportunity  to enter all the giveaways from these 13 AMAZING bloggers! 🙂

Just click the links below to go directly to their blogs and download their freebie and enter to win their giveaways.

There is also one more giveaway  that you don’t want to miss out on…it’s ALL 13 prizes for one lucky winner! 🙂

a Rafflecopter giveaway

We hope that you all have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

On the 12th Day of Christmas…

On the 12th day of Christmas Creation Castle gave to me

But first here’s my answer to the 12 Holiday Questions:

1. What’s your favorite Holiday song?

I love all the traditional songs, but my recent favorite has been “His Favorite Christmas Story” by Capital Lights.

2. What’s your favorite holiday memory?

Every year, I still think back to when I was a little girl and the whole family would pile into my grandparent’s station wagon and we would look at Christmas lights. I love those sweet family memories!
3. What’s your favorite holiday indulgence?

Candy canes.. well the cherry flavored ones. I’m not a huge fan of peppermint. 

4. What’s your favorite holiday food?

My family doesn’t have a big traditional dinner. We always have crackers, cheese, and sausage on Christmas Eve.

5. What’s your favorite holiday craft?

I’m not a big crafter. This year my class made adorable elves and we all loved them! Definitely will be in the plans for next year.

6. What’s your favorite holiday tradition?

Spending Christmas Eve with my family opening presents. My parents and I always exchange the night before Christmas since there are no kids in the picture at the moment. Opening presents by firelight adds a bit of holiday magic to the moment.

7. What’s your favorite holiday movie?

The Grinch! I love both versions and the message it sends.

8. What do you get your class for a holiday gift?

I looked everywhere for a cheap set of books, but ended up giving them a holiday cup, candy cane straw, and a packet of hot cocoa.

9. What’s your favorite holiday thing to teach?

Christmas Around the World – it is so fun to explore different cultures with kids. We had a blast traveling through 8 countries in two weeks this year.

10. What’s your favorite holiday book?

Any Christmas book is good! I did stumble across a fun Santa coming to Texas story and Turkey Claus this year. My kids were rolling on the floor with laughter!

11. What’s your favorite holiday product?

Hard question… there are so many to choose from. I loved using Simply Kinder’s Holidays Around the World Craftivity Book this year!

12. What do you want Santa to bring you this year?

More time to sleep!

And now for the giveaway…enter below for a chance to win my Jan Brett Winter Books Unit!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

In the spirit of Christmas I have also included a freebie just for you! Click the image below to get Sums with Snowmen!

If you haven’t checked out the previous giveaways make sure you go enter to win

Christina Cragg Mauro's photo.
Christina Cragg Mauro's photo.
Christina Cragg Mauro's photo.
Christina Cragg Mauro's photo.
Christina Cragg Mauro's photo.
Christina Cragg Mauro's photo.
Christina Cragg Mauro's photo.
Christina Cragg Mauro's photo.
Christina Cragg Mauro's photo.
Christina Cragg Mauro's photo.

Don’t forget to come back on day 14 for a chance to win EVERYTHING!

Happy Holidays!

13 Days of Christmas!

Get ready for the 12 13 Days of Christmas Giveaway brought to you by…..13 Amazing Bloggers!

So here’s how this is going to work…

Everyday a new blogger is going to post a blog about their giveaway AND a FREEBIE just for you!

They are going to answer 12 questions about their holiday favorites – feel free to ask your own questions in the comments.

They will also give you directions on how to enter their own giveaway!

But that’s not all…on day 14 there will be an opportunity to win ALL the previous prizes in one big giveaway! How exciting!!!

ALL WINNERS will be announced on day 15!
Get excited cause this is going to be one great giveaway frenzy!

Meet Snowflake!

This week was a little rough in our classroom. Not only did we come back from a week off for Thanksgiving, but we had a few changes to our room as well. One student moved away without warning and another student changed classes (he is now in the room across the hall from us). Those two small occurrences changed our class dynamic drastically and my kiddos had a hard time adjusting.
Luckily… we had a special visitor from the North Pole. Monday morning we watched the Elf on the Shelf movie. We came back from recess, there was a special delivery waiting under our tree!
Monday: We received our elf and he hung out on our Christmas tree.

Tuesday: Snowflake was sitting by the fire reading a stack of Christmas books and had stolen one of our gingerbread books as well! (They were so excited to share one of their favorite stories with him.. they are crazy for anything gingerbread!)

Wednesday: Snowflake brought us a gift! North Pole snow and magic elf seeds. He told us to plant them and something special would grow over night.

Thursday: Snowflake was patiently waiting to eat his candy cane until the class came into to discover what had grown from the magic elf seeds.

Sadly on Thursday, a student touched our elf and he lost his magic! One sweet student suggested cinnamon to help Snowflake feel better. At lunch she asked the cafeteria for a bag of cinnamon and returned excited to fix our elf! We placed a circle of cinnamon around Snowflake and hoped for the best. When the students returned later in the day from specials, it looked as if Snowflake had finally eaten his candy cane and returned to the North Pole.

We had an ice day yesterday, so my students will be waiting until Monday to find out what happened to Snowflake. 
Do you use elf on the shelf with your class?

December Currently

Catching Up & Fun Announcements!

It’s hard to believe that December is right around the corner! This school year is flying by so quickly that I haven’t had time to sit down and create anything new for my store or update y’all on anything! So thanks for sticking around through my silence!
If you hang around on my Facebook page, you know that I was hired to teach kindergarten two weeks into the school year. Starting late in a grade you’ve never taught is a very daunting task. It wasn’t until half way though this week that I really ever felt caught up enough to even look at my blog!

So here is a quick glance into my Seuss themed room with some Pilgrim/Turkey/Native American flair for you.

My classroom has changed a million times in the short three months I’ve been working in it. I still haven’t found an arrangement that works perfectly for my students and me. Our classroom lacks some basics for a kinder class… like a big book stand! I am the 7th kinder teacher at my school in a district that only had two classes per grade level until a few years ago. Needless to say, my class has received the odds and ends left around the building – and I am grateful for all resources provided!

Yesterday I went up to school and started decorating my room for Christmas with some help! I am so excited to see the look on my students’ faces when they walk into our room on Monday. Here’s a sneak peek for you… although most of our decorations will be coming from student made crafts.

A few special announcements…
Have you heard about the annual Teachers Pay Teachers Cyber Monday sale? I’ll be filling my cart tomorrow and will share a few of the awesome finds I plan to snag for 28% off on Monday.

The December Facebook Frenzy is just around the corner! The dates are Dec. 6th-9th and there will be an abundance of resources available for free… but only for a limited time! I’ll be offering a winter verbs activity, so be sure to stop by and check it out.

And… I have a sweet surprise coming your way on the blog this month as well. Be sure to stay tuned and follow me through Bloglovin’ to get updates!
I hope you all had wonderful Thanksgiving!