Thursday, August 11, 2011

First week back!

So this was my first week back - with kids.  It's been a great week, but I am EXHAUSTED! 

I stayed late after school today, thinking I would have all of my plans done for next week by the time I left.  Ha!  Not even close.  But, I DID get centers planned for next week.  That's always a hard task for me, especially the first ones of the year - trying to decide what's going to be "just right" for the new group of kiddos.  Anyway, I wanted to share a couple of the centers that I'm going to use for my first week of centers.

One of the centers I am planning on putting out is a listening center.  The students will listen to If You Take a Mouse to School.  After listening, I want them to think of an animal they might take to school.  Then they will illustrate what might happen if they take that animal to school and write a sentence or two.  Here's the paper that I made to go with it.

One of the other centers I will put out is a writing center to go along with the book Froggy Goes to School by Jonathan London.  We've read the story.  At this center, they will pick the picture that represents how they go to school.  After cutting it out, they are going to illustrate and write about how they go to school.  After they are all complete, we can make it into a class book.

Another center that I am planning on having them do is a write the room center where they will sort the students' names by the number of letters. 

Those are a couple things I'll be using next week.  Maybe you can use something too!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Polka Dot Pots

Every year I try to get my wonderful team something little at the beginning of the year to say Welcome Back!  Normally, I get them a notebook and pencil to go with it.  This year I was trying to think outside the box (or notebook in this case).  Here's what I came up with.  I wanted some for my room to add a little warmth to it so I thought my team might like one too.  Tell me what you think.  :)

I got the pots at Wal Mart.  They're plastic so they won't break.  I know the plants don't look like much - yet.  They are the "babies" from my spider plant.  They shouldn't take long to grow.  (And, if they don't, the pots can always be cleaned out and used as pen holders!)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

New (School) Year's Resolution Linky Party

Clutter-Free Classroom is hosting a linky party on what your New Year's Resolutions are for the new school year.  What a great way to reflect on your own personal goals for the year as well as possibly getting some new ideas from other great bloggers.  So, my goals for the year are:

1.  Make my room inviting looking This year I want to add some warm touches to my classroom like plants and bean bag chairs just to make it feel a little more like home.  (Thanks to Donors Choose I'm getting 4 new bean bag chairs.  Yay!) 

2.  Keep an organized classroom.  I don't know about the rest of you, but I start the year off organized with everything in its place, but then I get busy and before I know it piles start popping up (as well as dust bunnies...)!  This year I want to keep up with this because I think if the teacher is organized, the kids will be too!

3.  Have fun!  I sometimes forget about this with all the pressure of getting the kiddos where they need to be.  I've found tons of fun games and activities on blogs that I plan on integrating into my curriculum to put the fun back in. 

I can't wait to read about all of your resolutions as well.  :)

Back to School Mega Giveaway!

Are you ready to go Back to School?  Erica Bohrer is hosting a Back to School Bonanza Giveaway should help you get in the mood!  Twelve fabulous bloggers have teamed up to give one lucky winner a huge back to school prize pack!  The contest will run until midnight eastern time, on Thursday, July 28th. 
 Click on the picture to go to Erica's blog for your chance to win!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Reading Strategies Freebie!

Earlier this summer I was inspired by Mrs. Jump's blog  She had posted reading strategies and clip art that went with each strategy.  I loved it and immediately thought that I was definitely going to use it.  But, then I realized that the strategies that my school uses are different from the ones on the blog.

So... I got my creative juices flowing and made strategy cards to go with the reading strategies that are used at my school.  I think they turned out pretty cute too!  What do you think?

Get your own by clicking here.

I am going to hang the strategy cards on the bulletin board in my guided reading area as well as in my library corner.

Another thing I made was a strategy card to send home with my students in their repeated reading bag.  That way they can have access to the same strategies at home as they do in school.

Click the picture for your copy.
Another thing I plan to do with the strategies that are all on one page is laminate and cut them apart and then attach them to my guided reading table with velcro.  That way I can take a strategy off and hand it to a student if I want them to use it, or I can take one off the table if they're using it too much (like the "guess" strategy!)  I'll post a picture once I get into my classroom and have it all set up.  :)

Friday, July 22, 2011

ADORABLE Bracelet Giveaway! Don't Miss it!

My friend Tara at 4th Grade Frolics is having a giveaway to celebrate 250 followers.  She has teamed up with Sophie of Sophies Beads and is giving away an adorable Seussy bracelet.  You don't want to miss your chance to win it.  What are you waiting for?  Go now!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Rainbow Fish!

One of my favorite beginning of the year activities is to read the Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister.  After reading the story, we discuss how the rainbow fish treated others the way she wanted to be treated because she shared her shiny scales with everyone in the ocean.  By sharing her scales, not only did it make the other fish in the ocean happy, it also made the rainbow fish feel good.  Once we've discussed the author's purpose, I have each student trace a large fish pattern on a piece of paper and then water color the paper.  After lunch, once they are dry, the kiddos cut out their fish and then I share one shiny scale (aluminum foil that the students think is better than gold!) with each student to glue on to their fish.  The fish make a great display and it's a wonderful way to remind the students to share with their classmates.  I wish I had pictures from last year's fish.  I'll be sure to take some and post them when we do this activity this year.

Teaching Heart is having a back to school party!

"Teaching Heart ( ) is hosting their annual back to school party on July 24th till July 30th.  Each Day a new prize!  Gift cards, Books, Teaching Heart Products, and more!!!  Plus a free printable will be posted during the week.  You need to visit the blog at; 
daily to check out the prizes each day and enter for the ones you want to win!!!"

Friday, July 15, 2011

First Grade O.W.L.S. Giveaway

First Grade O.W.L.S. is having a 100 follower giveaway.  Visit her site for your chance to win an item from her friend Dee Dee Wills TpT store AND a $25 gift card to Target. 

Keeping Records - FREE

We all know how important it is to keep a record of the conversations we have with our parents.  The best way I have found to keep track of all those phone calls, conversations in the lunch room, front office, at parent pick-up...(you get the idea) is to create a parent communication binder.  I put this form on each desk at Open House (which is just before school starts).  Before the parents leave, I ask that they fill out the top portion of the form and leave on the desk.  Once they are all filled out, I place each form in a sheet protector and then put them all in a binder.  I keep the binder right next to my phone.  Every time that I talk to a parent (well, almost every time...) I write down the date, who I spoke to and the gist of the conversation.  I like to keep these forms in sheet protectors because then you can use them like an envelope to put all of the notes that you receive from parents.  Imagine...all that communication in one spot!  Click the picture to download FREE!

Blog Button Giveaway

Sister Teachers is have a giveaway to celebrate 50 followers.  They will custom design a blog button for the 2 winners.  Their giveaway is easy to enter so head over for your chance to win!

Gift Card For Your Creativity

Color Me Happy in Kindergarten is looking for some creative ideas on how to use Altoid tins.  She is even rewarding the most creative person with a $10 gift card to Target.  Head over to her site to share your ideas!

Blog Mixer Linky Party!

Yearn to Learn is having a blog mixer party!

1.  A new kid on the block blogger - Fantastic 1st Grade

2.  A blogger in my grade level - First Grade O.W.L.S.

3.  A blogger in a different grade level - Blog Stalker

4.  A cute blog button - 4th Grade Frolics

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Open House Scavenger Hunt!

It's hard to beleive that summer is nearing an end and that I have to start thinking about going back to school.  I was thinking about all of those back to school things that I need to accomplish or get copied.  (Although it's way more fun looking at all the ideas on everyone's blogs!) 

Our school has an Open House prior to the students starting.  It's an informal night where the parents and students can come in to the school, find their classroom, meet the teacher and their classmates.  There is no presentation involved, just an informal meet and greet.  To help the parents and students feel a little more comfortable on this night, I place a scavenger hunt just outside the classroom door.  Each student takes one before coming in to the classroom.  Right away they know what to do and don't feel awkward or look lost, wandering aimlessly around.

Click on the picture to get your own Open House Scavenger Hunt.  :)

Giveaway at The Lesson Plan Diva!

The Lesson Plan Diva is celebrating 500 followers with tons of freebies and a $15 Amazon Gift Card giveaway!  It's an easy giveaway to enter with freebies for every level!  Head over to check it out! 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Chrysanthemum Flowers REVISED

The link to Mrs. Bonzer's website should be working now.

Chrystanthemum is one of my favorite beginning of the year books.  But, after doing it so many years in a row, I needed to change up the activities that I did after I read the book aloud.  Last year I found an adorable Chrysanthemum activity on Mrs. Bonzer's website .  I did it with my class and they loved it.  We had the bouquet of flowers in my classroom all year as a decoration.  I then sent home the flowers on the last day of school.  When I passed them out at the end of the year, the students even remembered why they had put the number of leaves, petals and popsicle sticks.  I'm definetely going to do it again this year.  Here's a picture of our bouquet:

Another thing I do with this book is I made a picture of Chrysanthemum and then laminated it.  As I'm reading the story, each time Chrysanthemum is made fun of, I let a volunteer draw a line over her with a vis-a-vis marker to show how hurt she is from the awful way she is being treated.  At the end of the story, we wipe her clean because she feels a lot better.

If you have any other cute ideas for Chrysanthemum, post a comment.  I'd love to hear them.

Check out Learning With Mrs. Parker to see other great beginning of the year reading ideas.

Friday, July 1, 2011

4th Grade Frolics Giveaway!

4th Grade Frolics is having a giveaway to Target ($15!) and to Starbucks ($10!).  Go over there and enter.  You'll love her fab blog!

Set this Circus Down: Giveaway and Linky Party

Set this Circus Down is having a giveaway and a linky party.  The giveaway is for a $25 gift certificate to Amazon.  The Linky party is to go out and find an awesome new blog.  How exciting for all of us new bloggers.  Have fun!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

We "A.R." Growing as Readers!

I use Accelerated Reader in my classroom and I LOVE it!  One way I acknowledge my kiddo's accomplishments and reward them for passing A.R. tests (besides the A.R. store at our library) is to give each student a "leaf" for our A.R. tree each time they pass a test.  Each month I pick a different themed "leaf" for the tree.  For example, in February we used hearts to fill up our tree.  In March, we used shamrocks.  You get the idea...  Below is  picture of the tree without leaves and then one tree as we filled it up.  It's amazing how motivating it is for the kiddos to put a leaf on the tree.  I love the smiles and joy it brings them!

60 Follower Giveaway at Fourth Grade Frolics!

My friend Tara at Fourth Grade Frolics is going to be having a giveaway once she reaches 60 followers.  Head on over to her blog and become a follower so we can all have a chance to win a Starbucks gift card or a Target gift card.  Pick me!  Pick me!  (Tee hee - picture my hand waving frantically in the air!)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

First Grade Fresh Giveaway!

First Grade Fresh is having a giveaway!  Go to her sight to enter to win a $20 giftcard to Lakeshore Learning!

Ms. M's Blog Giveaway!

Ms. M's Blog is having a giveaway for clipart.  She is giving away 3 $5.00 gift coupons to Digi Web Studio where everything is on sale for just $1.00!  I already purchased 16 different sets from there!

Another Great Giveaway!

First Grade Frenzy is giving away not 1, not 2 but 3 different items to the lucky winner.  Head over to enter for your chance at jewery, a vowel sorting activity and a Later Gator!

Erica's Elementary Excitement Giveaway!

Erica at Erica's Elementary Excitement is having a giveaway that you don't want to miss - a $50 gift card to Lakeshore Learning Store AND a $25 gift card to Target.  Head on over to enter and to see her great blog!

Signing In!

My students have to sign in on a dry erase board as one of their jobs when they arrive each day.  I have an easel dry erase board set up with magnets that have the numbers 1 through 18.  (I bought counters and hot glued magnets onto the back of them.  Then I wrote a number on each one.  I wish I had a picture...)  The students find their number and sign in next to it.  I start out by just having them sign in with their first name.  After a couple weeks when they are used to that routine, I switch it to signing in with their last names, then first and last names and eventually they sign in with their middle names too.  As the year goes on, I switch the sing in skill.  I have had students sign in with their phone numbers, street addresses and even their birthdays.  The students LOVE signing in and it's a great way for them to practice their names, address, phone number and birthday just to name a few!

4th of July Giveaway!

Frogs, Bees, & Under the Seas is having a 4th of July Giveaway to celebrate 500 followers.  Check it out!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Another Giveaway!

First Grade Blue Skies is having a giveaway to 2 of my favorite places to shop:  Target or Amazon!  The winner gets to choose!  Head over to her sight to enter to win!

Dollar Tree Dominos!

My friend Tara over at 4th Grade Frolics found these adorable Dominos at the Dollar Tree.  So of course I had to get some for my own classroom.  They are itty bitty - 1 inch by 1/2 an inch.  They come 28 in a pack. 

I know it's not a new idea to use dominos for math addition facts, turn-around facts or fact families, but I just loved how cute and small the dominos were...and I think the kids will love them too!

Here are some activities that I made to go with the dominos.  Enjoy!  I'd love to hear how you use dominos in your own classroom!

Friday, June 24, 2011

3rd Grade Gridiron Giveaway!

Head on over to 3rd Grade Gridiron for a $25 gift card to Target giveaway!  She's celebrating 100 followers.  Way to go!

First Grade Friends Journals

We use First Grade Friends Journals at the beginning of the year to help us get to know one another as well as to practice writing.  Each day, I pick 1 student that the class "interviews".  I then model expository writing by writing what we found out about the student.  The students then write in their very own First Grade Friends Journals.  When they are finished, they add an illustration of course!  After we've interviewed each student in the class, my journal goes in the reading corner (The students love reading this throughout the entire year!) and the student's journals go home for them to read and share with their families.  Click below for the cover that I use for the journals.  :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Finally in First Giveaway!

Head on over to Finally in First .  She is giving away the cutest game called Place-Value Go Fish.

Fry Word Fun!

Each year it is my goal for all of my kiddos to be able to read the first 300 Fry Sight Words.  They each have a F.I.S.H. Folder binder that serves as their take-home folder.  (More to come about F.I.S.H. Folders soon!)  In the binder, they keep their sight words along with a letter that explains to the parents the importance of them knowing their sight words and an area for them to keep track of their success.  I also have each set of sight words printed on colored paper, laminated and put on rings to be used as flash cards in school.  The word rings can also be used to play all the wonderful sight word games that I've been finding on wonderful blogs.  If you have any cute ideas to share about sight words, I'd be happy to hear them.  :)

Below is a picture of my desk area with the Fry Sight Word rings hanging on the front.

Below are pdf documents of the first 300 words and the letter that I use in my F.I.S.H. Folders.

Words 1 - 25    

Words 26 - 50    


     Words 251 - 275