Saturday, December 29, 2012

100th Day Linky Party

I can't believe the year is officially half-way done!  My kiddos have come so far, but still have so much to learn! The 100th Day is quickly approaching for some districts!   Please link up with your favorite 100th day activity, craft, game, etc.  Grab the picture and link away!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas! Freebies!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

It has been an insane few weeks!  I am exhausted!  I didn't want to jinx myself by posting this last week, but my kiddos were AMAZING!  Of course it helped, that I had several darlings out each day, but they were still wonderful.  I was impressed.  

Two weeks ago the private high school adopted the first grade classes.  One dressed up as Santa and handed out presents to each child.  The rest of them made cards with our kiddos and passed out snack to each class.  It was so much fun!

We also had our music performance two weeks ago which was fun.

One little one was in the hospital because he was sick and not getting better, so I went to go see him.  Talk about hard!  He looked so tiny in that big hospital bed.  Hopefully, he will be back to school in January.

One of the highlights of my week:  A kiddo, who is normally a handful, was struggling to make a good choice.  All of the kiddos looked at each other and started chanting her name, she made the right choice, and everyone cheered for her!  It was the most wonderful thing they have done.  

In the wake of the Connecticut disaster, I simply asked if anyone had any questions for me (not mentioning anything specifically related to Connecticut).  One kiddo of course asked why Connecticut happened, I explained that the person made a bad choice, and that's why I encourage everyone to make smart choices now, so that they learn to make smart choices later as well.  I asked if there were any other questions and the entire discussion turned to Santa!  "Why is Christmas on December 25th?"  "Did anyone ask Santa if it was ok that Christmas was on December 25th?" "How does Santa make it to every house in one night?"  "Why is Santa fat?"  "Why do reindeer pull his sleigh?" It was the most innocent and adorable conversation we have had.

On Friday, we got to have a school wide sing a long which was a lot of fun.

Ok, enough rambling!  I posted several freebies on TPT.  I made skip counting puzzles for my kiddos, and they loved them.  They aren't fancy, but they are fun and effective.  Check them out for each holiday!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Center Overhaul!

It was time for a center overhaul!  Our first grade team meets each week and discusses our concerns.  We were all complaining that our kids are messing around during centers.  Any work we give them turns into a game or a mess.  Nothing is being completed properly and we aren't able to meet with our groups because we are dealing with issues.  I thought it was because my kids get bored easily with the same old centers, but I didn't want to spend half of every center time on Monday explaining new centers.  I wanted to teach them once and then just change the design each month.  I want them to become experts at it.  My brain never shuts off and it was getting tired of thinking about centers.  I hated having to choose centers each week and trying to keep track of whether or not we had already done them.

My kiddos had center maps for literacy stations

However, I was making groups on the spot for math which was once again eating up time every day.
I broke down and made center maps for math as well.  Not nearly as cute, but just as effective.

Then I came up with a master plan.  The basic idea is that this is the plan for every month, the only thing that will change is the theme.  (Winter, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, etc.)
Short and Sweet Explanation:
*P.C. - stands for pocket chart
*Name It - is a game where kiddos have a topic and come up with one word for each letter of the alphabet
*Buzz - sight words are on popsicle sticks and there is one stick with the word "Buzz" on it.  If the kiddo gets the Buzz stick, they have to put all of their sticks back
*Power Towers - Words (or math facts) are on cups and they read/solve them and build a tower
*D.O.L. - sentence correction
*Library - they will choose one book for the whole week and complete the activity that is listed.
*M.F. - stands for math facts, they will sort them or play a game with them
*Technology - either computers or smart board
*Desk - Sight word packet
*Table - small group time with me!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sticker Stories and Thank you!

Thank you to all of my followers and buyers!  Cyber Monday and Tuesday are wrapping up on TPT and I appreciate your support!

As for sticker stories...My teammate was out sick today and of course the sub didn't show up.  I agreed to take her kiddos with some help from our computer teacher.  Thank heavens she was available.  Nearly 40 kiddos in one very tiny room is enough to make anyone go crazy.  Adaptation and patience were the words of the day.  Centers were completely out of the question due to the number of kiddos, so I decided to try sticker stories.  Luckily, it was brand new to both classes and they loved it!  I grabbed my Dollar Tree sticker books and told them they could pick three stickers to add to their paper.  Then, they added details to their pictures and wrote a sentence or two.  Voila!  Perfect activity!  I got nervous when some of the stickers weren't sticky anymore, but I passed out a few glue sticks and the kiddos never flinched.  They had some really creative ideas to incorporate the stickers.  One boy decided he was going to use a football helmet, jersey, and cleats for his stickers and then he added in the details to make it look like a person was wearing all of those things.

What's your go to activity in a pinch?

TPT Cyber Monday Linky Party

Link up with your favorite products that you found in the TPT Cyber Monday Sale so that we can scoop them up during Cyber Tuesday!  The best items I have found have come from the recommendation of others! 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

New Products!

Classroom Job Cards Vertical and Horizontal!
CVC, Silent E, Vowel Digraphs, and Consonant Digraphs for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas!!


Sunday, November 4, 2012

CVC Activities

Just posted some CVC word games!  Check them out!  They are great for small groups and centers!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Literary Elements

Our unit on literary elements is coming to an end this week, so we made this cute project for The Art Lesson by Tomie dePaola.   I grabbed the crayon clipart from Google, so unfortunately I can't post it, but feel free to make something similar. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

I fell off the face of the Earth!

So sorry guys, I have been overwhelmed and under-energized this month!  Does anyone else wish they could just shut their classroom door and not let anyone in or out?  If I could just teach, my kids might learn something!  So far this month we have had:  picture day, early release day, fall break, Red Ribbon Week, report cards, conferences, and special meetings.  My little darlings also gave me bronchitis during all of this.  Then, two weeks ago, my mother in law had a massive stroke, ended up moving in with us and having Hospice help with care, then Friday she was rushed to the hospital and has been there all weekend because they can't figure out why she continues to have strokes.  Hubby has been at the hospital all weekend and will be going out of town the middle of this week.  Needless to say...I am exhausted!  I am sorry this little blog has been neglected, but so have the rest of the parts of my life!

Oh my word!  I can't believe I forgot to share my good the middle of all of the drama last week, I got my first TPT check!  Thank you followers!!!!

I finally found some quiet time to work on a few writing centers.  Our school did not do so well on the writing portion of our state tests last year, so everyone is really pushing writing right now.  I have included vocabulary cards, writing paper, letter templates, how to templates, a word web, several lists, an abc order page, and one of my name it games.  Check them out and let me know what you think!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

It's True...October is magical!

How is it possible that our district does not have any substitute teachers available? For three days this week, my teammate and I covered for our other teammate who was sick. (Legitimately sick, poor thing had no voice and we had to demand her to stay at home and rest.  I really do have the best team!  We do anything and everything we can for each other!) This meant bouncing her kids to and from each of our rooms for various activities. Our kiddos had no idea what was coming next because we just had to fit in whatever we could, whenever we could. Amazingly enough I think the only thing we missed out on was centers and guided reading! All other lessons were taught! Despite having an insane week I noticed some growth! Everyone said that a transformation happens to the kiddos in October and it's true! Suddenly they are a little more independent and helpful. This meant that I had some time this morning to whip up two ABC order centers! Check them out!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

My First Linky Party

Hang in there!  I'm trying to start my first linky party!  As I stated in my previous post I plan my year with academic units.  My brain can't wrap around the idea of themes because "what do you include in a unit about apples?"  "How long do you do each theme?"  Think about these questions and post a list, chart, etc. that explains how you map out your year.  Don't forget to grab the picture below and link back to my blog!  Have fun!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Shhh...I really like my kiddos! And 2 Successful Reading Lessons!

Shhh....I don't want to jinx myself I know it's still early and we are probably still in the "honeymoon" phase, but I really like my kiddos!  They are genuinely good!  I know I said that last week, but you have no idea what life in my classroom was like last year.  You also don't understand how much this year is already making me smile. (Someone please remind me of this around December when the little darlings are antsy for Christmas and driving me crazy!)  My kiddos came into my room today and didn't make a peep (except one little darling that had to "try again" and was successful).  They grabbed their handwriting books and got right to work.  I stopped what I was doing not once but twice and just stared at them.  I couldn't believe it!  I can do read aloud on my carpet!  I did a math lesson on the carpet!  And a reading lesson!  The carpet was a war zone last year!  Everyone stayed on green today, no one moved their clip!  I love being able to give them "the look" and they get bug eyed and hide their head in shame.  No, they aren't terrified of me, they just generally know what they should or should not be doing and fix it.  

Now onto the more informational stuff that you might actually care about.  We have had two really successful reading lessons that I feel are worth sharing.  No, the rest of my lessons haven't been awful, but these two really got the kids thinking and was surprised of the answers they came up with.  Our reading unit is strategies.  These two lessons were about using the picture to help us.

Lesson 1:
Give the students a blank piece of paper.  Tell them you are going to do a following directions activity and if they listen to your directions they will be successful.  Tell them to do the following:

1) Draw a yellow circle
2) Draw a white rectangle
3) Draw 8 small yellow triangles
4) Draw  some swirls
5) Draw a large black triangle
6) Draw a tall skinny dark red rectangle
7) Draw five white rectangles
8) Trace the edge of the rectangles with brown
9) Draw a tall skinny rectangle
10) Put a black circle
11) Draw some more swirls
12) Draw some green spikes

Then show them the picture or draw your own version on the board. Ask them what they could have done to do a better job at following directions.  I was really only looking for someone to say "Ask the teacher for a picture"  Instead, I got responses like find out the topic, ask questions, talk with a friend, etc.

Lesson 2:
1) The teacher will gather several wordless picture books.2) The class will be divided into several small groups and each group should be given a wordless picture book.3) The groups should look through the books and be prepared to share their version of the story with the class.
4) The class will come back together and share their stories with the class.

The vocabulary the kiddos were using and the details that they were giving as they were telling their own version of the story were incredible!  It really got them to understand how important the pictures are.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Trims are over and I'm safe!

"Trims" is what happens between the 5th and 10th day of school...the district looks at the numbers and decides if each building has too many teachers or needs more.  Well, long story short, I was the last one hired, so there was a lot of nail biting going on for these last 7 days.  After a very intense emergency staff meeting, all is well and I still keep my kiddos!  Hopefully they hire some new teachers next year so I'm not on the chopping block again.  It's wishful thinking, I know.

Knock on wood, my kids are pretty good!  It's all relative, but I haven't had a chair thrown in my room or one hide under furniture (unlike last year).  So I'm really excited!  The majority of them are still scared of the clothespin chart (unlike last year).  It's so funny, because they do slip up, and I correct them, but then laugh at myself because last year I would have been thrilled for someone to "only" do what they just did.

I started reading groups today which was rather interesting.  I have one or two who refuse to even try to sound out words.  Any suggestions?  They know what the letters sound like, but there is no effort given to try sounding it out on their own.  They also don't even attempt to do our motions during our phonics program.  I'm thinking maybe a pack of Smarties might be in order tomorrow as an incentive for trying.  Sound out a word, get a Smartie. :-)

Then, I had one break down in tears when he saw the book because he "can't" read.  Really?  Because I did 7 days of assessments and they told me you can read so let's try anyways.  Sure enough he read two whole pages!

Today was the first day I started meeting with guided math groups as well and I'm loving it!  It felt so good to  meet with the kiddos that need the extra help and know that at least I was trying to help them succeed.  I had the rest of my kiddos work at our three sets of desks and rotate about every 15 minutes.  Two tables worked on concept of number and the other table played a game from our math binders.  I am slowly introducing a game at a time so that eventually we will have covered all of the games and they can take their binder and work around the room.  I feel bad that they are at their desks right now for this hour, but I let them sit or stand while they work and I am just not ready to have beads and pipe cleaners (for concept of number) scattered on my floor.  Eventually I will give up control, but that just seems like too much right now.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Survival of the Fittest!

Whew!  I survived the first week!  I have to say this is my least favorite week of teaching.  I hate teaching procedures and doing mushy gushy get to know you activities.  I realize it's important, but I want to teach the meat of it!  Thank heavens Monday we will begin our "real" units!

I ended up not getting a class list until the day school started and then three kiddos never showed up so I have 18!  That is so much nicer than the 25+ we were originally expecting based on last year's kindergartners!  Everyone kept saying how hectic the first day was.  I was convinced that it was only as hectic as you make it.  Sure enough I was right.  The first 15 minutes of hugs, kisses, and goodbye tears to mommies and daddies were the worst.  After that, I shut my door and conducted business as usual.  No chaos, no confusion, and no more tears.

I have to admit though, by Wednesday night I was beat!  I fell asleep before 8:00!  This 5:00a.m. wake up call is rough!

I have two stinkers and two who are oblivious.  Not too shabby.  They are quickly learning that I mean business and no monkey business will be tolerated.  The skill level of some of them is rather alarming, but we will work through it.  Some of them still need to recognize letters, realize they have sounds, and realize that there are lines on the paper for a reason.  :-)  "No, Johnnie, you can't write diagonally across the paper, nor can you write from right to left and use picture symbols."

Some funnies from the week:
*Me: "Tell me the sound that you hear at the beginning of the word 'pick'" Student:  "D*ck"
*Me reading a sentence for an assessment:  "Terry loves to play soccer."  Student:  "Oh, I have a Terry in my family, but he's in jail."

And now I hurry up and wait for magic day #10 when the district will decide how many teachers our building actually needs and if I am getting bumped to a new school or not.  Ugh!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Last Day of Summer Vacay, TPT Blues, and First Grade Fairytales Giveaway!

OMG Summer is over!!!!!!  I can't believe my alarm will be going off at 5a.m. tomorrow!  My plan for today is to get the house under control.  It needs to a good scrub, I have ironing to do, and about a million little things around the house that aren't in the right place.

Does anyone else do a final push to get their house in order before school starts?

Does anyone else get the post TPT sales blues?  This was my first sale and don't get me wrong I am happy with my sales, but I still didn't sell the products that I am most excited about.  For all of you expert sellers out there...what do you do when your cutest products don't sell?  Over the last few months, I tried selling my math centers separately for $!  I tried raising the price to $!  I tried combining them and selling them as a whole set for a deeply discounted!  I haven't sold any of them!  Any suggestions?

Ok, enough grumbling....on to the super exciting news!  Just in case you didn't get everything you wanted during the TPT sale, check out First Grade Fairytales!  She is having a $25 TPT gift card giveaway!  Hurry up and enter!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

My First Donors Choose Project!

I am so excited!  I finally had the nerve to submit a project to Donors Choose!  For some reason it seemed very intimidating.  I created my account back in the spring, but never did anything with it.  It turns out the process is super easy.  The hardest part was deciding what I wanted.  I saw the word building puzzles at Lakeshore a few weeks ago when I went to OKC, but they were not on sale.  I had money on my PayPal account from Teachers' Notebook and thought I might scoop them up that way.  The only problem was that when I got home and tried to order them, I realized that Lakeshore doesn't accept PayPal.  I was bummed because I really wanted these puzzles and they were definitely not in the budget.  So tonight I went shopping and picked out all of the games and puzzles I wanted for my classroom as if money was not an issue.  I submitted my project and now it's time to hurry up and wait.  I am not planning on including a link to my project because I don't want you to think that I'm asking for donations.  I truly just wanted to share how excited I was to take the plunge. What other items have you asked for or are planning to ask for on Donors Choose?

Is anyone else as excited as I am for the TPT Back to School sale?!  This is my first sale so I am anxious to see how it goes.  Everyone swears July is their slowest month of the year so I can't wait to see how it takes off from here.

Back To School Sale Linky Party!

Blog Hoppin'
I am linking up with Blog Hoppin' for their Back To School Sale Linky Party.  Click on the link above to see dozens of other stores that are offering great deals!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Centers with a Freebie!

Everyone has their own management style for centers.   You have to figure out what works best for you and your kiddos.  A lot of people use pocket charts, but I do not have a lot of room to hang yet another chart.  I also don't want to have to switch cards around everyday so that everyone gets to go to a different center.  My co-op used a center map and I grew fond of this technique.  The kiddo follows the pictures in order going down each column depending on the day of the week.  I like my centers very orderly so we will all be cleaning up and moving at the same time.

Typically you would have a kiddo's name at the top.  I chose to come up with a numbering system instead.  This way when I have kiddos move or get a new student I don't have to print a new map.  The numbering system works like this:  The number represents what group they are in and the letter designates who it is.  I only wanted 5 kiddos in a group and I only wanted to see 5 groups in a day.  My maps are labeled 1A, 1B, 1C, 1D, 1E, 2A, 2B, 2C, etc.  If I need to switch two kiddos around in a group then I can have them switch maps.  I also made signs to label my centers in my room.  The pictures all match.  This also gives me options as to what to include in my centers.  Technology for instance, has both computers and Leap Frogs.  At the library center they can read a book or listen to a book.  At the beginning of the year, they will only have one choice, but I wanted to options later on.

You can click on the signs and get them as a freebie on TPT!  You can also click on my center maps and pick them up at TPT as well.  I would be more than happy to customize the center maps for you as well for no extra charge.  Just shoot me an email and let me know what you need.

Sample Center Sign:

Sample Center Map:
In this sample, this map is for someone in my first guided reading group which is why you see a table in the first box each day.  The last box is for seat work which is their sight word packet that I made.  I wanted to make sure they were practicing their sight words every day.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

ABC Matching and Back To School Sale!

I am holding a Back To School Sale August 12-13th!  This is my first sale, so hopefully it goes well.  I am offering 10% off in conjunction with TPT offering an addition 10% off.  Don't forget to use the promo code BTS12 to take advantage of both discounts!  Tell your friends!!!!

I have been locked to my computer for the last two days creating ABC Matching Games!  It doesn't seem like there are a lot of materials for Pre K and Kindergarten so I thought I would give it a try.  Each set of ABC cards can be used for matching upper lowercase letters.  I have included directions for three ways to play:
  *Pull and Say:  Place the cards in a container and students will pull a card out one at a time and identify the letter.  If they identify it correctly, they can keep the card.  If they don’t identify it correctly, they place it back in the container.  If a player draws the keyword card all of their cards must go back in the container.

*Memory:  Use the word cards to play memory. Simply eliminate the keyword cards.

*Old Maid:  Choose a set of upper and lowercase cards.  Pass out all of the cards.  On their turn, the player will turn to the person to their left and choose one of their cards.  If they have a match, they can put it down.  Play continues until someone runs out of cards.  At the end of the game, the person with the keyword card is the loser and the person with the most matches is the winner.

Click on the previews to head to my store.