Wednesday, December 5, 2012

If Santa was stuck in my chimney...

This is absolutely one of my favorite writing activities to do throughout the year!! At this point in the year, the kids know what to expect when we begin the writing process and are really beginning to enjoy it. Although we have not finished our paragraphs yet, I predict they will be absolutely outstanding! Here's how we got started...

On Monday, we began by discussing Santa and what we know about him. The students were more than willing to tell me stories about what he has brought to them in the past. Some of them even swear they've watched Santa fill their stockings! Such storytellers!! Afterwards, I gave each student a bubble map and asked them to imagine they actually found Santa... stuck in their chimney! What would they do?! I took a few quick responses and then asked the students to quietly write or draw their own plan. I really wanted to see how creative they could be. On Tuesday, we turned these ideas into sentences. Together we wrote the topic sentence and conclusion. Then they got with their shoulder partners to read everything out loud. Today we revised our sentences. I always have the students help me revise my paragraph first (one sentence at a time) and they allow them to work on theirs. Again, they met with their partners to read it aloud.  They're really good at finding their own mistakes when they do this! We'll proofread tomorrow and publish Friday. I can't wait to show off the final product!

If you would like a copy of this activity, you can get one for free! Just click on over to my TpT store!

Also, I just finished up my holiday centers. Right now there are 4 math and 4 literacy centers, but I'm working on more. So, hurry and pick them up now so you'll have plenty of time to prep them. 

I can't wait to get started with these centers!! And for my loyal followers, I'll give away 5 copies to the first 5 who comment with something they do in class during the holidays.

Lastly, I have one more freebie for you! In my class, we practice our sight words constantly. So, I'm always looking for different ways to do this. One of the ways my students like best is our Sight Word Scramble. It's simple... the kids read the words and put them in order to make a complete sentence. I have such freedom to make up sentences using any words we're working with... sight words, holiday words, Science vocabulary, the list is endless! 

Here's the worksheet the sentences get glued on. Of course there's room to illustrate! What kind of teacher would I be if I left that out??

This sheet is where I type the words to be used in the sentences. In the spirit of protecting our natural resources, I fit 4 on a page. Each sentence I make up has 6 words or less. When the students get this sheet, they color all of the boxes in each row a different color. This helps them know which words go in which sentence after they cut everything apart. 

Then they unscramble, glue and illustrate. Here are a few finished copies...

You can grab your free copy here. I think that's all I can give tonight. Have a great rest of the week!

Best wishes,

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Turkey Talk...

Well Thanksgiving is almost upon us and that means I've got one thing on my mind... turkey!! I love turkey! I love cooking turkeys, eating turkey and most importantly teaching about turkeys! 

As usual, we began by talking about what we already know. I'm usually impressed by the depth of knowledge in their little minds, but apparently there's not much room in there for turkey trivia. Most of the kids came up with something like, "Turkeys are fat." or "Turkeys say gobble gobble." Yawn. Nevertheless, I had them write their schema on turkey feathers while I made a serious mental note to amp up the turkey lessons and activities.

After reading some nonfiction books, we headed to the world wide web to find out even more. Gotta love SMARTboards!!The kids couldn't get enough of the pictures. They even asked me to find one of turkeys kissing! Of course we had to jot down this new information. So cut a few oval, had the kids write something they learned, and asked them to color their eggs.

Can you guess what we did next? Yup, we labeled!

Label That Turkey is just one of the activities in my newest unit, A Thoughtful Thanksgiving. There is also an adorable planner to help your little ones write a terrific turkeys paragraph (perfect for hitting a few common core standards). We're currently in the proofreading stage so you can expect pictures of the finished product soon! If you're in the market for some last minute Thanksgiving ideas, head on over to my TpT store.

Next week we're going to dive into Pilgrims and Native Americans. Seems like I do things backwards compared to everyone else in Bloggy Land, but that's what make me special :) Happy Friday Eve!

Best wishes,

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Veterans Day...

This week has been ca-rah-a-zee!! Let me give you all a quickie recap... Regular day Monday, field trip (including 90% of my students' parents!!!!) Tuesday, half day Wednesday with P/T conferences, quarterly awards assembly WITH first grade performance PLUS half day AND more P/T conferences today! I'm so tired I can't even bother to correct the numerous flaws in that sentence!! PTL we have an in-service day tomorrow. 

The positive side of this short week was that I was able to really get into Veterans Day this year. I usually address it in a day or two because that's all I have time for. This year we spent a little time each day to really discuss who veterans are and why they should be celebrated. Both my grandfathers and my hubbs were in the service which makes me love and appreciate veterans even more!

On Monday we began by watching a short video on Veterans Day. The Veterans Day part begins around the 4th minute, if you're interested. Afterwards, we discussed who veterans are and if we know any. The kids are always so shocked to find out that my husband is one... and still alive!! I find that many students assume those who have served are dead!! They can't believe that someone can be in the Army/Navy/whatever and still be alive. Anyone else experience the same thing?? Anyways... next we took a quick poll and graphed our data.

Yes, I only have 10 students. Pick your mouth up off the floor and keep reading... (hehe)

Our field trip took up most of Tuesday, but I did set aside some time to read the short books I got from the library. I was able to find very kid friendly books about 3 of the 5 branches of the Armed Forces. And  let me tell you, the boys in my class have NEVER been sooooo engaged during a read aloud! 

On Wednesday we recalled some of the details from the books and completed our Veterans tree map.

As you can see, today we worked on our Veterans Day and Me mini-books. I was pleasantly surprised at how adorable they turned out!! On each page, I had the students write about how brave, caring, and responsible veterans are. Then they had to describe how they are also brave, caring, and responsible. It was fun to watch my students realize how similar different people can be! Does that make sense??

I mean seriously... how adorable are these responses?!

Then I put it all together on our bulletin board. Next Tuesday we'll spend a few minutes taking about how we celebrated Veterans Day and label our soldier.

Oh, we also journaled (yup, it's a verb) about which branch of the Armed Forces we would join. The kids had to choose one and tell why they decided that. Their drawings were seriously cute! I'll try and remember to snap a picture when I go back to class.

If you like these Veterans Day activities and are waiting until next week to work on it in class, let me know. The first 11 people to leave a comment with their email will get it for FREE!!

As if that wasn't enough, I also somehow found the time this week to change the small bulletin board outside our room. I'm sure you've seen it before, but it's one of my faves...

Have a happy Friday!

Best wishes,

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Herbivores, Carnivores, and Omnivores... Oh my!

Real quick.... When I decided to begin blogging this summer, I thought if I just wanted it bad enough, then it would happen. Sometimes I can be so naive!! I have truly learned so much about how to be a better teacher and how to make my lessons more in depth and engaging from reading other blogs. I even found a new energy and passion for my once repetitive job. Now there's this strong feeling of needing to pay it forward. Hence, the blog. However, I grossly underestimated the amount of dedication it takes to create and keep a thoughtful, resourceful collection of ideas and resources I can share with others. Now that the first quarter is over and I have a more realistic expectation of the true demands on my time, I vow to be a more present influence in the blogging community. That is all!

Moving on...

My kids have been learning about animals this month. One of the topics we cover is herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores. The students are always eager to discuss anything animals related which make this activity all that much more engaging. After reading about the 3 groups in our Science book, we color small animals pictures and put them into the right category. 

After reading and discussing the definitions of each, we focus on their teeth. We look at pictures of fossils, bones, and living animals to come up with the conclusion that herbivores have flat teeth, carnivores have sharp teeth, and omnivores have both. Then we get molding! Each student uses play-doh to create one herbivore tooth and one carnivore tooth. Using our SMARTboard, I show an animal picture. The students have to hold up the correct tooth and say the correct group (herbivore, carnivore, or omnivore). If I show a picture of an omnivore, students hold up both teeth.

The next day we draw and make the teeth out of paper. We began with the carnivore. After gluing and labeling, I pass out tiny pieces of blank paper. The students draw something on each paper so they can "feed" the carnivore. Then we turn the paper over and repeat the process for herbivores. Here's the finished product.

If you would like, you can get a copy of the posters I made for FREE! Head on over to TpT to pick them up. If you use them, please let me know how they worked out in your class! Have a great week!

Best wishes,

Monday, October 15, 2012

Winners and Booo on you...

Wow, I honestly thought that having a giveaway would be quick, simple and fun. Boy was I w-r-o-n-g!! If you've ever hosted a giveaway using Rafflecopter, you know what I'm talkin' about. However, now that it's done, I'm sure my next one will go much smoother! And thank you so much to everyone who entered and for your patience! Without further delay, the winners are... 

Joanna, Sharon, Charlotte, Lisa, and Delighted! Check your emails ladies for the details!

Lastly, thanks a ton to Mrs. Reed, Mercedes, and Carrie for donating their awesome items!!

Now for a little more fun...

Thanks to Lisa at Growing Firsties, I have been "boo'ed!!" My job now is to share some October activities with you all!

1. Decorate, decorate, decorate!!! Thanks to Pinterest, I have been OUT OF CONTROL crafty lately! Here's a few things I'm working on right now...

If you would like to try some of these out, head on over and follow me on Pinterest to get the info!

2. I'm seriously in love with centers!! Last year was the first year I implemented them into my curriculum and I'm not sure how I ever lived without them. Then this summer I decided to bite the bullet and figure out how everyone makes them... and I did!! These 3 packets are my new favorite October activities. The best part is that if something's not working, I can come home and edit it!! Each one is aligned with the common core standards and guaranteed to keep your students engaged! Check them out and tell me what you think...

3. I love reading any Splat the Cat books and it just so happens there's one for Halloween!!

After reading, we talk about creative problem solving and what they would do if their costume "broke." Then I pull out my Tub 'o Costumes and have the students "repurpose" some of the items. It's pretty funny to sit back and  see what they some up with. Of course we write and draw about our new costumes in our journals, too!

In order to get some other October inspiration, I'm "Boo-ing..."






Here are the rules.

Now go and inspire!

Best wishes,

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Good news...

Oh happy day!! I finally made it to 100 followers! I never thought it would have taken me this long, especially after the successful summer I had, but going back to school has seriously cut into my free time. Sheesh! Anyways, I'm so happy that I think I'll do something really crazy. I know...How about a giveaway?! No one does that anymore ;)

Thanks to the generosity of some magnificent women, I've got a bunch of goodies up for grabs! Here's what could be all yours...

ANY product from Mrs. Reed's TpT store
Flying into First

Winner's choice from Mercedes at Surfing to Success

Any one item from Carrie at The First Grade Derby

And of course, up for grabs is any one product from moi!

The best part is, there will also be one grand prize winner who will receive ALL of the goodies! That's 4 products, 1 from each of us, all of your choice. It's like Christmas has come early!! So, what are you waiting for?! Get to it! And while you're at it... tell all your friends!

Best wishes (and good luck),

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, September 23, 2012


So I've never liked how my TE expects me to introduce reading comprehension strategies at the beginning of the year. They're like... "Hey, you could jut quickly teach one strategy a day for a week and be great! Your kids are definitely going to learn each strategy after reading one story!..." This year, I decidedto do things my way (thank you private school for allowing me the freedom to pretty much do whatever I want)!! Here's to hoping I made the right decision!

Last week we only focused on summarizing (we'll add synthesizing later... one step at a time). After attending a short, but helpful seminar on reading comprehension, I put together a new summarizing anchor chart.

With each step, the kids and I say what we're doing while simultaneously performing a small hand gesture. For "stop," we hold our hand up. We point to our big brains while saying "think about the story," and we cup our hands around our mouth for "say it on your own words." Let me tell you, it's a lot easier to see who is particpiating and who isn't when there's movement involved!

The first story we tried out this strategy on was There is a Bird on Your Head! by Mo Willems. This is one of my absolute favorite stories to read alound!! I really get into the different character voices and the kids are shocked when I actually yell!! Since it was a short story we didn't need to stop and summarize throughout. We read the whole thing (twice because it's so much fun) and then summarized. I have mentioned that for longer  stories we will stop after reading a few pages. Anyways, after reading, together we recited the steps for summarizing. Then we did it! We used our own words to retell what had happened. Since this was our first go around, I went with a simple picture answer. Again, this story is perfect because the illustrations are simple enough that the kids feel comfortable attempting to recreate them. Plus it helps that I do my own rendering on the board :) Exibit A...

The next day we remembered the steps to summarizing and read another story. Again, it was short enough for us to read without stopping to summarize. This time I had the students write sentences. They were able to tell about what happened using their own words. I know it doesn't show below, but trust me... wer're going to need A LOT of work on retelling ONLY the important parts. I present you with Exibit B...

Wouldn't you know it, I forgot to take a picture of this :/

On Friday, we read Bear's Loose Tooth. This time, we worked as a class to write one fluid summary instead of a couple of sentences that answered questions. Exibit C...

If only I can get them to draw with more effort. I've NEVER had this problem!! Usually first graders love to draw!! But this class, they really like drawing in only one color and leaving out most details. Yikes! Any suggestions? 

On a completely unrelated note... I just finished my Common Core Collection for first grade! Wow!! This is by far the most time consuming project I have taken on! I was excited when I began, extremely fatigued and doubting myself in the middle, and now relieved and proud that it's finished!!

This journal is 88 pages long and the perfect way to showcase your students' skills! I plan on working in this journal all year long, addressing one standard at a time after it's been taught. Our school has a book binding machine so I'll be laminating the covers and assembling them tomorrow. I'm soooooo excited to actually see the hard copy! And as a treat for my beloved followers (and for those of you who somehow happened to make it to the bottom) I'm giving away 5 free copies! If you would like one, please leave me a comment (including email address) letting me know how you teach one  (any) reading comprehension strategy. I'm always looking for new ideas to incorporate into my lessons! So, whatcha got?!

Best wishes,

Friday, September 7, 2012


I'm having a sale in celebration of the 10th anniversary of my 21st birthday!! Everything in my TpT store will be 20% off all weekend! So head on over and stock up!

Best wishes,

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Have you filled a bucket...

One of the perks of working at a small private school is getting to know all of the students, not just your own. I can name everyone on the playground which comes in handy when someone climbing dangerously high on the jungle gym or trying to flood the sandbox... again. I know most students pretty well before they ever step foot through my door. With that being said, I knew exactly what I was getting myself into when I began school this year. And I knew that this class was definitely going to need a lot of positive reinforcement right off the bat. I decided to finally try this bucket thing I've been hearing soooooo much about. In years past, I've always had a "Something to Smile  About" board. I would put pictures of the kids up, they would draw and color their bodies and then anyone could attach a note to it at any time. Let me tell you, the kids absolutely light up when they see something clipped to their doll!! What I like about this bucket idea is that there is a cute story to go with it. So, here's how I've implemented bucket filling in my class so far...

First, I played a YouTube video of someone reading the story. My students always pay more attention when my projector is on, so I figured I would take advantage of it!

Then we recalled details from the story about how to be a bucket filler and a bucket dipper. We wrote our thoughts down on post-its and stuck them on the door. That night, I typed up their thoughts, cleaned up a few spelling and grammar errors, and laminated them. They now permanently hang as reminders of what to do and what not to do.

We also colored our own buckets. This is where we put our "bucket notes."I hot glued them to the paper on my closet door. At the top of the bucket I attached a paper clip (also with hot glue) so the notes can slide on and off easily.

The next day we watched the story again talked about how we feel when our buckets are full. After deciding it makes us feel warm and fuzzy inside, we brainstormed a list of ways to fill others buckets. Then we wrote...

I love how she tried to make the bucket look like the one in the story!

Some kids couldn't quite understand that the bucket was imaginary!


Ah, yes... a video game reference. What day would be complete without one??

And my favorite! I wonder if she knows my birthday is this weekend?!

I can't remember where I got the worksheets from. I actually printed them last year, but never used them. I'm sure if you do a google search you can find something comparable out there. If it's ours, or you recognize it, let me know and I'll leave a link!!

So far, the kids are LOVING this bucket filling! They take their bucket notes out to recess to show them off to their friends. I've even caught a few girls writing bucket notes in class!! Let's just hope they keep it up. Plus, I'll be letting the parents know about our"bucket notes" during back to school night next week.

If you would like to see another awesome post about bucket filling from another awesome teacher, visit The First Grade Parade. She's always a great resource!

Well, I'm off to get an early start on my birthday celebration! Be on the look out for an upcoming TpT sale and some great tips for teaching summarizing! Have a great Hump Day (what's let of it)!

Best wishes,