Friday, November 18, 2011

Christmas Read Aloud Linky Party

     So...I know I just blogged about a Thanksgiving Read Aloud Linky Party, but The Third Grade Bookworm is having a Christmas Read Aloud Linky Party.  It is hard to believe that we are inching our way closer to the holiday season.  This is just another reminder that the year is flying by!
     Anyway, so I decided to link up with this blog.  I have too many books to really choose my absolute favorite, but I tried to choose one that would be appealing to most elementary grades, not just my little ones.  One of my favorite holiday books is Merry Christmas Amelia Bedilia by Peggy Perrish.  I love any Amelia Bedelia books!  I love her stories because of the idioms that the author uses.  Many of my average and advanced first graders are able to understand the idioms and decipher what they really mean! 
     Last year my advanced readers read one of the Amelia Bedelia books and then went on a scavenger hunt around the building. Certain teachers gave them idioms.  Then the students had to return to the room and decipher what they really mean.  They had a blast!
I hope your kiddos have fun listening or reading Amelia Bedelia!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Favorite Thanksgiving Book Linky Party

     Teaching Blog Addict is having a favorite Thanksgiving book linky party!  I love books and have a lot of favorites for every part of the year, however, these two are my favorite Thanksgiving books.  If you haven't read these books, you need to!
     The Perfect Thanksgiving by Eileen Spinelli reminds the students of the true meaning of Thanksgiving.  In this story, Abigail Archer's family is "practically perfect in every way".  The narrator's household is a little more hectic, especially on Thanksgiving Day.  In the end the narrator realizes that they are both perfect families because they love each other.  I know all of the turkey activities are fun, as my second book is a silly turkey book, but I think it is important that the students learn to appreciate the things in life that we take for granted, like our families and those that care about us.

     A Plump and Perky Turkey by Teresa Bateman, is a story of the town of Squawk Valley.  They were having trouble finding a turkey to eat for Thanksgiving dinner.  They decided they would trick the wild turkeys by asking for turkeys to act as models for an art show.  Pete the Perky Turkey ends up tricking the people, getting his payment, and heading to the beach!  It is a lighthearted story of a clever turkey!  
If you want to share your favorite Thanksgiving books, stop over at the Teaching Blog Addict and  link up!

Sunday, November 13, 2011


     One of my favorite blogs, Life in First Grade is having a Giveaway since she has reached over 1,000 followers!  She is giving away Thanksgiving Math and Literacy Centers, Christmas Nonsense Word practice, and Christmas Fry Phrases. 
      I purchased the Halloween nonsense word cards and the kids loved them! I am looking foward to the Christmas edition and the Christmas Fry Phrases!
     Get over to her blog today! Her giveaway ends tomorrow night!  Make sure to follow her blog and her TPT store!

I know Halloween is over, but if you missed her sharing of the witch patterns, I encourage you to take a look, while looking at her blog.  We downloaded the witch pattern and used it with the song Witches' Brew!  My kids absolutely LOVED decking out their super cute witches! Thanks to Leslie Ann's Pattern. She also shares wonderful Reading Street ideas, if you haven't been there, head over there today!

Monday, November 7, 2011


      So I was reading a post by Tamela from This and That blog, that she posted on the blog Crazy for First Grade.  I was excited to see that other people are doing lapbooks!  Lapbooks are a great way for young children to begin organizing their information about a certain topic.
     A few years ago a teacher on our grade level introduced us to lapbooks and since then, we have done lapbooks for Johnny Appleseed, Scarecrows, Thanksgiving, Voting, Frog and Toad, Solids and liquids, and plants!
     The kids really like doing these lapbooks!  I do not always use my original materials, however, I have taken materials that I already had and pieced them together into the lapbooks.  The two completely original lapbooks that I have done are for voting and solids and liquids.

Here are a few pictures of some recent lapbooks.
Thanksgiving/ Long Ago and Today:

 The front cover of the Thanksgiving Lapbook.  The turkey is glued on the left side only so that it actually looks like the turkey is holding the booklet!  These always turn out really cute! 
The students draw a picture of what they would like like if they were pilgrims and tell what they  would wear and the type of activities they would do.

 The corn is an example.  The students actually make two small corn cobs on which they have to create a pattern with fall colors.  The picture of the right is on the back cover of the lapbook.  The students piece together a puzzle (girl/boy) and glue it on the back of their lapbook.  It is amazing how many children struggle with this activity.  I am guessing that puzzles are not the most popular activities for kids at home now that we have so many electronic games!  This is unfortunate because it really helps with spacial reasoning.

    On the inside flap, the students match pictures of different items from long ago and today.

Here are a few pictures from our Scarecrow Lapbook we just finished this week!

Happy Lapbooking!!

Monday, October 31, 2011

To Go the Pumpkin Patch or Not?


                                              Fall Field Trip to Riverbend Farm
      For a long time, our first grade fall field trip has been to the pumpkin patch.  This year we really debated if it was time for a change.  We have so many students who go to the very same farm with their own families, that we weren't sure it was worth having the students go there this year. 
      Once we were at the farm today, the answer was clear and it was worth going!  The kids were amazed at the variety of animals and they LOVED getting their very own pumpkin. They said that it was the best field trip of their lives!!  (Not that they have had a lot of years to compare it to!)  I have a ton of pictures of the kids, but since I can't post those, here are the teachers having a little fun of our own!

The Kiddos looked MUCH cuter behind these!  You couldn't see their bodies!  I guess we were a little too grown up, but that's ok.  We had fun!  I am on the left and my assistant, Barb is on the right!
We learned the Pumpkin Farm can be fun no matter how old we are or how many times we have been there!

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Like a lot of schools we are not supposed to do too many activities that are directly related to Halloween.  So, we do a lot of things with pumpkins, bats, and spiders.  I have not been blogging much since school started.  I have been so busy and stressed with more and more paperwork this year!  I thought I would at least share some pictures of our spider fun!  The students read and write the poem onto the writing paper.  Then they assemble their spiders!  Also, I put a picture of our pumpkin chart and my wreath on my classroom door.  I made it after seeing one just like it on Pinterest!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Author of the Month

      Wow!  It has been a long time since I have blogged!  Today was day number 17 and I finally feel as things are settling down and I am getting into the routines of this school year.
      I have a lot of different books in my library, however, I have a large number of books that belong to specific authors.  These authors just happen to write wonderful stories for first graders!  This summer I started creating an Author of the Month.  I have taken and written a little information sheet/questions about each author.  My goal is that beginning in a month or two the students will begin reading the Author of the Month's books and completing activities. (For example: comparing and contrasting two different stories or comparing the characters from those stories.)  As of right now the students are simply reading the books from the Author of the Month when they have free time.
     I created this using Smart Notebook, however, I printed each of the sheets and backed them with construction paper.  The information sheet on the current author is in a tub with the books for that author.  You can click on the caption below the picture and download the Smart Notebook File, print, and go!

The green tub at the top has my Author of the Month books!  The kids are loving reading Clifford books this month!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Have you read An Awesome Book?

An Awesome Book of Thanks!
     So, while at home in Ohio visiting my family, my brother called and I spoke to him for a few minutes.  He went on and on about how amazing of a book this is and how I had to check it out!  So...I am sending this on to all of you.  You need to take a look at this link.  Dallas Clayton is a father who initially wrote An Awesome Book for his children.  This book teaches children and adults to take the time to dream big and out of the box!  His book is inspirational, funny, and inviting.  He then went on to write a book called An Awesome Book of Thanks!  His two books are must haves for the classroom or at home.  Here is a picture of his second book.  He travels and reads his books to children in schools and shares them at hospitals.  His foundation he has set up gives a book away for every book that he sells.  It is a pretty cool!  Take a look at his website and check out his books!  Maybe he will even be in a classroom near you soon!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Day Two of Setting Up!

     I went to school today for DAY 2 of getting my room in order for the coming school year.  This was my second and my last day until we officially head back next Thursday for Teacher Workdays. As I sit here tonight I am totally wiped out and am a little scared for the next few weeks!  Never the less I feel even better about the state of my room.  All of my cubbies (aka storage units) are emptied and cleaned.  It is amazing how much dust can accumulate over 8 weeks! 
    This is a section of my cubbies.  Up above are the spaces where the students hang their backpacks.  Below they store extra markers, folders, supplies, and coats in the winter, etc.  I got the idea from a friend a few years ago to get these tubs. (Now I wish they were white, but too late!)  They were from the Dollar Tree and they are wonderful!!!! They hide all of the "junk" and even keep those bulky winter coats contained, that otherwise seem to make it to the floor.  The numbers are laminated and hot glued on the tubs and so far they have survived two years! :)  The funny thing was that I asked a student to clean out each tub at the end of last year.  I was a little surprised to find dust covering most of them and yes, crumbs, in a few of them!  GROSS! I guess I learned to check student work (aka cleaning abilities)!
So those that know me, know I am a little OCD and like things organized.  That can be difficult with a room full of 22 little ones.  I made these little cans in hopes to keep my pointers and dry erase markers organized.  I spray painted some cans, covered them in fabric and ribbon.  I then attached magnets on the back so that they can be moved around the white board!

These are Tuna cans that I did the same thing with!  Are you ever at the board and need a push pin or a magnet?  Well here is the solution.  I filled one with cute magnets and one with push pins.  Now, I won't go running to my desk and I won't have to have the magnets all over the board! :)
Ok...So here is my finalized reading area including my rugs and pillows!  Just ignore the books on the floor!  They are smoothing out the corners of my rugs after being rolled up for 8 weeks.  I love these rugs.  I bought them at Target before my first year teaching.  I was just telling my Mom today that they are probably about to begin their last year of service as the kids have left a few marks and really pulled up the corners.  Although, looking here at the picture they don't look too bad!

And finally, here is my new Focus Wall.  I can't wait for what is to come with this new adventure.

For those who are still on summer break, enjoy your last few days.  I have one week left of freedom! I think I hear the beach calling!


Monday, August 8, 2011

Day One Setting up!

    I have spent the last few weeks looking at so many awesome blogs with great classrooms.  We were finally allowed in our rooms today for the first time.  As you can see I entered to find a huge heap of furniture stacked up against the cubbies! It is always interesting to see how many items can be piled on top of each other!

 I got a ton of things done today, but I still have a lot to do.  It is amazing how exhausting moving furniture can be!  By the end of the day I was beat...but the outcome was worth it!  I got my bulletin boards done, set up one of my little nooks, and I cleared off the top of the cubbies.  Thanks for all of the inspiration out there to get back in and start decorating. :)
 At our school a lot of the teachers use paper on the bulletin boards.  I went to grab some and was disappointed when I saw that it was damp and discolored!  I decided to go get fabric instead.  I have never had fabric boards, but I know a lot of other teachers always use it.  I think they both turned out really cute.

My computer area is still not set up and the wall behind them I think is going to be changed to use for a focus wall. (Something new for me this year!)  The reading area is missing a few rugs/pillows that go on the floor.  This is where we do our whole group phonics/reading.  The chair directly under the leaf is a very special gift.  It is hand-painted by a former parent and fellow teacher.  It is amazing!  The kids get to sit in this special chair when reading aloud to the class or sharing about themselves when they are student of the week.

I hope everyone is enjoying the last few days of summer! :)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Back to School SAVINGS!

I am VERY sad and a little jealous that so many teachers are working in their classrooms and getting prepared for this year.  I can't get into my room until August 8th and most of  the days I am allowed to go to school, I will still be working at my summer job or out of town.  So all of this wanting to get in my room turns into me purchasing items that I can put in my room once I get there!  I know it doesn't really make sense...but it does to me!  Unfortunately, I don't have or want to spend a ton of money so I have been on the hunt for deals.  I have seen some awesome deals on some other blogs and thought I would  share the things that I have found!
These are actually only about 4 inches high each!  I found these at Michael's Arts and Crafts. I think they were about $2.00 each.  They have little hooks on the bottom to hang items from them.  They have little picture hooks at the top to be able to pin/nail them to a wall.  They were plain white and I didn't know where I was going to put them in my classroom so I wanted to keep them simple.  I put little dashes and dots around the edges, added some ribbon that I already had and they were done!!  

Who can't have enough markers?!  Usually Walgreen's is not my first choice for markers but this week they have markers for $2.00 a pack and then you get $2.00 Register Rewards.  You can basically get 2 packs for $2.00, which is not too bad.  Sometimes you can find these cheaper at Walmart and other stores, but I thought this was a good deal.

I know that another blog mentioned this deal a week or so ago.  Staples has special deals for teachers.  Teachers can purchase 25 packs of highlighters (2 Sharpie highlighters per pack), 25 packages of note cards, and 25 packages of pencils (8 pencils per pack).  All of these items are 1 cent!  I only bought the highlighters and pencils, but that equals 50 highlighters and 200 pencils all for $0.50!! What a steal!

PLEASE feel free to leave/share some of the deals and steals you have found.  I know you are out there shopping too!  

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Take Home Teddy

    The school year is about to begin and while we anticipate the new crew of kiddos I wanted to share a little something that I do at the beginning of the year.    Kindergarten to First Grade is a huge transition for parents and kids.  The beginning of the year is difficult even for me!  A First Grader in August is VERY different than a First Grader in June!
    For many of our students the transition is overwhelming as expectations begin to increase.  The last thing we want to do is scare the students away from their love of learning.  A teddy bear can make most 6 year-olds comfy at home, so we use one at school too!
     Each year I buy a class Teddy bear.  AC Moore usually has them pretty cheap.  I tie a cute ribbon around his neck to dress him up a bit.  This year I added this cute flower...maybe our teddy is a she this year!  Each night a different child takes home Teddy and spends the evening playing with him.  The student writes 1-3 sentences about what he/she does with Teddy and then draws and colors a picture in the journal.  The next day the student bring Teddy and his journal back to share with the class.  The kids love taking Teddy home and we love hearing about Teddy's adventures!
     At the end of the year I pull a name of a student to take home Teddy to keep forever!  This years winner looked like he won the lottery!  We also share the stories that they wrote in the beginning of the year.  This is a highlight of the year for me.  The students can't believe that the page he/she wrote actually belonged to them!   This is a nice way to see how far they have grown by the spring!
   I hope your new "BIG" first graders get a chance to cuddle up with your new class Teddy!
                               Click on Teddy's picture to download the letter I use inside his journal.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I LOVE Kohls Cares for Kids

    First Grade Blue Skies is hosting a Linky Party for the things that you LOVE!  Somethings in my classroom that I love are the animals and books from Kohls Cares for Kids Program.  Kohl's department store sells children's books and matching stuffed animals for $5.00 each.  The money is raised for children and community members. 
    I wish I had pictures from last year that showed them better, but I have a slight addiction to these animals and books.  I usually have them lining my bookshelves and above my cubbies.  I rotate them throughout the year as our themes and the seasons change. 
    In the past I have let students who are free reading, read to the stuffed animals.  The kids love doing this!  Another way I have used them is by making take home packets.  The student takes home a book, matching stuffed animal, and a journal.  The studens write about his/her favorite part of the story or answer another writing prompt, regarding the book.  Then he/she brings it back the next day and share with the class. 
    Some of the ones I have are Curious George and friends, Dinosaurs from How Dinosaurs Say GoodNight, etc. Eric Carle's Brown Bear, Brown Bear and Polar Bear, Polar Bear, Guess How Much I Love You, and TONS of Dr. Suess characters and books. 

Right now they have Clifford and friends.  Check them out!!

Kohl's Cares Clifford PlushKohl's Cares T-Bone Plush
Kohl's Cares Mac PlushKohl's Cares Cleo Plush
The books they have are Clifford the Big Red Dog, Clifford's First Day of School, Clifford's First Birthday, and Clifford the Firehouse Dog.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Time to Sing

     Miss Kindergarten is having a linky party for those that sing in their classrooms!  Anyone that knows me, knows that I sing and chant all day long!  Unfortunately, I  have one of the WORST singing voices ever.  I was blessed with talents in other areas, but singing is NOT one of them.  However, I love singing at school.  The kids could careless whether I am ready or not for American Idol.  So we sing songs all the time, but mostly when learning concepts that are new or tricky.  I use songs for telling time, money, counting, etc.  We all know that songs are one of the best ways for children to retain information!
          I usually use songs that I find, rather than creating my own.  A really great group for kids is called the Banana Slug String Band.  They are these crazy guys who sings songs about science.  I have one of their cd's, Singing in our Garden.  It is wonderful!  My two favorite songs are Dirt Made My Lunch and Six Plant Parts.  The kids absolutely LOVE these songs too.
      Another really great singer is called Harry Kindergarten.  He has his own site on You Tube. This year we used the 3-D shapes video, skip counting, adding, science, and character education songs.  The kids think he is hilarious!   We switched classes for math this year, based on academic abilities.  I would play the 3-D shapes song at the beginning of the class as students came in the room and got unpacked and received their new homework.  He now has a 2-D shape song.
Watch the video and then click on his name above to go to his You Tube sight!  Check him out!


My Favorite Children's Author/Authors

     For me, choosing just one favorite author is similar to choosing my favorite place to eat or a favorite shirt!  It is just too difficult!  I have to say that as I first began teaching my favorite author was definitely Eric Carle.   I loved his artwork and the stories.  I still use his stories as often as I can.  Each year our first grade team uses Brown Bear, Brown Bear as an introductory unit before we begin Reading Street.  We use his book to reinforce rhyming and review Kindergarten skills before moving on.  
    Don't get me wrong, I still love Eric Carle's work, but I have really learned to love another author, Kevin Henkes.  I have really developed a love for his book over the past couple of years.  Our school often studies specific authors for our Author Study units in Writer's Workshop, however, I started looking into Kevin Henkes' books.  He writes about topics that are relatable to the students, while demonstrating a variety of writing techniques and styles. He is a wonderful model author for young students.  
A few of my favorites by him are:
I LOVE this book for the beginning of the year.  I typically read it the first week and then have students  compare themselves to Wemberly.  It is great coming back to this book later during our author study.  
Chrysanthemum is PERFECT for the beginning of the year when the students are getting to know each other.  We do a Names Unit prior to beginning our Reading Street and this book is a vital part of that unit!

Remember to check out The Clutter-Free Classroom for their linky party about favorite authors!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Crafting Inspired by Target $1 bins!

    Growing up I was a Crafty Queen!  As I've become an adult I've lost some of my desire as well as the time to "create".  Looking at so many amazing blogs and classrooms has inspired me to get on the band wagon again!  While at Target in the $1.00 section, I found a package of four write and wipe off strips.  Each cardboard piece is double-sided with two handwriting lines.  I then took them home and created my NEW sign for Writer's Workshop. 
     I have gone back and forth about how I have students share their stories in writing.  So many people have a place for students to sign-up to read aloud to the class.  I decided that I would try it this year.  Students who are ready to share their work with the class can put their name on the list, pin their story to the bottom of the bulletin board and await their chance to share their story with the class, during Writer's Workshop!
Take a look around those $1.00 bins, get motivated, and start crafting away!

Ignore the window ledge and blinds at my house!  I simply took a bulletin board, covered it with fabric.  Then took the four writing lines and covered the edges with fabric.  Added a little ribbon to the edges and there it
is !  (In the picture the lines look a tad bit crooked...but in person they look great! I guess I need to keep working on my photography!)
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