Thursday, May 30, 2013

Next Year I Will Definitely.... Linky Party!

This morning I am linking up to Joy in 6th Grade for her first every Linky Party!  I am already planning for next year to be a great one!  Here are a few things I will DEFINITELY do next school year.
1. I really want to create fun themes for my centers and read alouds next year!  My kids love my centers, but I am bored with them so I want to theme them up :)  I was thinking bug week, pumpkin week, etc... just a way to incorporate everything together like so many of you amazing bloggers already do!

2. I love doing an author each month, but with all of the other stuff I want to do, sometimes our Author of the Month is just a display on the board with a bucket of books in front of it.  I really want to talk about the author, study them, write like them, etc.  I plan on adding an Author of the Month center so there can be a different activity with the author each week.  I am thinking of incorporating the ipad somehow so they can watch short video clips about the authors... we will see!

3. I am tired of the prize box!  I have found a few ideas I may try next year... I really like the coupons!  Any thoughts on successful non-prize box behavior systems?

4. The HW I gave out this year was reading comprehension, which is great!  However, it was the same thing every day... kind of boring for the kiddos.  Next year I want to make more meaningful homework and maybe something they actually want to do.

Well there it is, in 6 school days I can focus on next year officially...ahh summer is ALMOST here!!!

Happy Teaching!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

They are poets.... And they didn't even know it

As promised, here is a bit of poetry courtesy of my kiddos.
We are hosting a poet's tea tomorrow where the parents will come in to hear the kids' work.  Each child will choose one poem to share with the class/parents.  Then parents will go around and write reviews for each child's poetry book.  It should be fun!

Here are a few gems from our collections:

Friday, May 24, 2013

Five for Friday

I was half way home from school today and remembered I wanted to take some pictures for Five for Friday!  Ugh, I will do my best to explain my week without pictures :)  

1. Poetry Unit
We have been working really hard on our poetry unit.  I like to keep it REALLY open.  Its a little rough to get started with a couple of my little friends, but by week 2 they are super stars.  The poems they are writing are so amazing.  Somehow (and I didn't coax them) they started writing poems about each other and they are so sweet.  This one was written by one of my little boys about his friend:

<Student Name>, <Student Name>
handsome as can be
<Student Name>, <Student Name>
kind as can be
<Student Name>, <Student Name>
smart as can be
friendly as can be
<Student Name>, <Student Name>

AWWW!  A lot of their poems are very insightful.  I went to one of my girl's softball games last weekend and bless her little heart, couldn't hit the ball.  She wrote a poem, Why Can't I hit the ball?  It was very cute and meaningful.  I promise I will take a picture of some of their work next week.  We are having the parents come in on Thursday for a Poet's Tea (which sadly will just be cups of water because food is banned in our county :( ), but they are still excited to have their parents come in!

2. American Symbols Math Games
I made these math games, a freebie at my TPT Store!  The kids had fun with them and I am really getting the hang of creating clip art and games!  Please tell me what you think!

3. Testing
I am almost done with testing!  Yay!

4. ABC Countdown Update
This week we had N, O, P, Q and R days!  They were fun.  Monday was No Chair Day.  The kids liked working under their desks for the day.  On Tuesday it was go On a Field Trip Day.  We had a great time in Washington D.C.  We had the best bus driver.  He told the kids that a zebra had escaped from the local zoo and they make a strange sound when they are in distress... so the kids had their ears and eyes peeled looking for this zebra!  A quiet bus :)  Our P Day was Talk Like a Pirate Day... honestly kind of a bust, I'll try something else next year.  Q was Queen day where we addressed all of the females as Queen <Name>.  Today they got to Read a book from home.  It is definitely making these last few days more enjoyable.

5. Crazy Schedule Changes!
Testing has changed our schedule so much!  We went from a 10:45 lunch to a 12:20 lunch. My kiddos did pretty well with the change, but who knows what is in store for next week!

Have a great long weekend :)  I will be spending the weekend celebrating my very best friend's wedding!!!  Yay!


Wednesday, May 22, 2013


I am the type of person who cannot stand a mess in my classroom... agh!  It makes me cringe just thinking about it.   Now in my no way is my classroom perfectly organized, but the chaos has a specific spot to sit in until I can get to it :)  For example, today I looked at my pile in the basket of "To be Filed" and its very big!  I'll need to tackle that soon, but here goes this linky.  I am linking up to Fun in Room 4B For her Organization Linky Party. 

I saw this when I got home, but did have a couple of pictures of my organization on my phone that I thought I would share :)

1. Binders:  I will never ever go back to file folders, I just love binders!  Each month has a binder, but so does each core topic.  It makes it so much easier to find things and it frees up my file cabinets for all of my monthly themed books :)  This took a long time, but definitely worth it!
2. Reading Groups: I am lucky to have a small class this year and only have 4 reading groups.  Each group has a box with all of their books, writing supplies, etc.  Below that, I keep all of the stuff I could need for reading groups... the  bottom is kind of a "catch all" (again, organized chaos:)  )

3. Copies: I hang this up by my desk and it holds any papers I need for the week... or however many weeks ahead of me that I am ready for :)  Its simple because its on the wall and its easy.

4. Math Centers: This year I really tackled math centers.  I bought these boxes at Ikea (5 for like 2 dollars) and labeled them.  I am hoping next year this will make my life a lot easier so I can just pull games when I need them.  I am always trying to find a way to make things easier, but somehow I always have something to do!

Well, hope I inspired someone with their organization!  What do you do to stay organized?

Happy Hump Day!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tried it Tuesday! Listening Center

This is going to be brief... we went on a field trip to the museums of Washington, DC today. It was so much fun and the kids loved it, but boy am I TIRED!  I wanted to link up to Fourth Grade Flipper for my first Tried it Tuesday, so here it goes :)

I tried this a couple of years ago and really need to go back to it!  I love my listening center, but as a semi-new teacher, I don't have many books on CD.  My solution was very simple for converting my tapes to CD.  I have a mac and I used Garage Band.  All you do is hit play on the tape recorder and hit record on your mac and you are recording the book!  Then burn it to a CD and viola, you are done.

It gets BETTER... I decided to create my own books on CD.  I simply read the book while Garage Band was recording and then burned my own reading to CD.  To make it fun, I had the principal and some other specialist teachers read a couple of books too.  

This has made my life easier because I don't have to deal with kids trying to rewind tapes and I have a lot more books in my Listening Center.

On a side note, I also use Garage Band to occasionally record my kids reading... then they can listen back to it, and change the voice to squeaky and deep.  They love it!

What have you tried for your listening center?  I am still hoping to improve that center!

Happy Teaching!

Monday, May 20, 2013

The ABCs of First Grade!

Every year, I have my kids write the ABCs of First Grade.  We started by brainstorming all of the things we did in first grade this year... we add to it as the kids remember things.  I leave this poster up for them to use and they work on their book during centers.  I love seeing what they remember from the year!  Just a cute end of the year activity available at my TPT store.  Enjoy!

Check it out HERE!

Almost summer!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Five for Friday!

I decided this morning that Fridays just have a natural high that go along with them... who's with me?  I was in such a better mood today that I am any other day of the week :)  Especially since we only have two Fridays left now!

Here's the Five for Friday!!

So here we go:

1. The Sound of Music
I have a sudden desire to watch the Sound of Music!  It is such a great movie and today when we were doing our Travel Fridays, we went to Austria - of course the home of the Sound of Music.  I entered some snippets to talk about the history of that movie and the importance of edelweiss in the country.... listening to the music made me want to watch it. Maybe tonight :)  Has anyone done the Sound of Music tour in Salzburg?  If you are ever there, its worth the trip!

2. New Testing Magic Trick
I don't mind doing the reading tests with my kids.  It is a great tool to see how much they have grown, but I hate doing it while the rest of my class is working too.  I don't give my kids quiet seat work during testing... they carry on with their centers as normal, but sometimes get a little loud.  Yesterday I decided to give each of them a ticket at the beginning of my 45 minute reading/testing block.  If they still had the ticket at the end, they could enter it into a drawing to sit in my rolly chair for the day.  They loved it :)  I think it will work... at least for the rest of testing - and so simple!

3. ABC Countdown Update
Today was "M" Day... which I designated as listen to fun Music day.  I spent some time last night downloading Kids Bop versions of my favorite songs.  They kids LOVED it and could surprising dance, work and sing at the same time.  Its fun hearing them sing along to some of these songs.

4. Christmas for Teachers
We got our total of how much money we could spend today on school supplies for last year... granted it is almost half the amount I use to get :(  stupid budget cuts, but I don't care.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE buying new supplies.  I am sure I am not the only teacher out there who gets excited for Back to School sales?  Anyway, after all the construction paper, new markers, poster board, paint, etc I still have 30 dollars left to spend -- any suggestion for must-have supplies?? 

5. The Ellen DeGeneres Show
Does anyone watch Ellen?  Did you see this kid?  He's so cute!!  You have to watch THIS
Have a great weekend!

May Budding Blog Linky Party

I am linking up to I Heart Recess again to showcase my blog with less than 100 followers :) I hope that changes soon!  So here we go:

1. Why did you start blogging?
Honestly, I started blogging to try to build up my TPT career.  However, I must admit that since I started blogging I spend much more time looking and reading other people's blogs than creating new products for TPT :)  That's what summer's for, right?

2. What is your favorite subject to teach and why?
I love teaching social studies!  There are so many fun things you can do with the first grade curriculum and you can give the kids many opportunities to be creative.  I love the openness of the curriculum.  

3. Describe your teaching style.
I am definitely an activity based teacher.  I hate when my kids are just doing worksheets and seat work, although there are some worksheets that go along with other activities... that's okay right?  I like my kids to be up and moving and doing what they want to do.  Since day 1 of teaching, I have always offered my kids a choice in the bulk of their work.  For center time, I have way more centers than they can complete in a week and their job is just to choose 5 that they want to do.  I have also tried really hard to make them responsible for their learning with different social studies and science projects where they have to present the information back to me.   

To sum it up.... I am definitely not a teacher who ever sits down :)

4. Give three interesting facts about you.
* I am slightly obsessed with meeting my bucket list goal of getting to all 50 states before I am 30 and am trying to figure out how to fit those last in before 2 years passes :)  I have Nebraska, Hawaii, Alaska, North Dakota and Washington left!

* I Irish Danced growing up which is a fun talent to bring out around St. Patrick's Day with my kiddos!

* I can recite every episode of Friends to you :)

5. Do you have a TPT store?
Yes!  Here it is!  Any feedback you all can offer me on how to make my products better, I would greatly appreciate it.  My goal this summer is to go back and add fancy covers to some of my first products (now that I understand how to do that!)


Thursday, May 16, 2013

May Pinterest Linky Party

Today I am linking up to Diving into Learning for her Pinterest Linky Party!  What a good idea to share some Pinterest gems :)  What can I say about pinterest?  It has certainly made me a better teacher, cook, organizer, exerciser, everything! I LOVE it!  Here are some great things I have done on Pinterest:

Dinner last night!  YUM

Genius way to use all of those Scholastic Fliers!

Never thought about dancing brain breaks until Pinterest either!

You can follow my Pinterest here

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Money Art!

I couldn't tell you why, but I LOVE to teach money.  There are so many fun things that you can do with it and the kids can really relate to it... or at least until credit cards take over.

We are working on these three gems during math centers this week.  The kids are doing a great job.  Its hard for them to do it with just the numbers, so they use their coins to count it out to make sure they calculate the total correctly.

I am happy to share the printables that go along with these, but I can't figure out how to insert a google doc here :(  So, if you want it, feel free to leave your email address and I'll send it your way... or even better tell me how to put a google doc in here :)

Happy Teaching!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Let's Get Acquainted!

I am linking up to Flying into First Grade for her Let's Get Acquainted Linky Party!

1. What made you decide to become a teacher?
I have always wanted to be a teacher... I think all they way back in first grade I decided that so the path was clear from there.  In 7th and 8th grade, I was given the opportunity at my school to watch the kindergarteners in the morning (they didn't wait outside) while the teachers got ready.  That helped my desire to become a teacher :)  Along the way there were many more experiences with kids that strengthened my desire to teacher.  I also had an inspirational first grade teacher and a kindergarten teacher who worked in my grade school who has encouraged me along the way.

2. What has been your most rewarding experience as a teacher?
I haven't had that "one" experience yet... I think I haven't been teaching long enough to see the long-term difference I have hopefully made in a child's life, but there have been many little experiences.  This year has been particularly rewarding (although not easy!).  I am in a school where the first graders came in not reading and the progress they have made this year has been extraordinary.  It's nice to know that I had something to do with that.  Last year, I left my old school to open this new school.  My old school was wonderful and it was certainly a hard community to leave, but it was time for a change.  My class threw me this unbelievable party when I left that really touched me.  I thoroughly enjoyed that too!

3. If you were not a teacher, what would you be?
That's a tough one!  It was never really an option in my book.  I would probably be doing something in computers or web-design (I know... don't laugh because my blog is certainly nothing amazing!).  I do learn quickly in that area so I would probably be there... but there is nothing about a desk job that sounds appealing to me!  I love moving around all day!
Happy Monday!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Five for Friday!

I am linking up with Doodle Bugs for my very first Five for Friday (I have been meaning to do it for the past 2 weeks, but some how Fridays have gone by too quickly!)
1. It was teacher appreciation week.  I received these beautiful flowers on flower day!  I love them!

2. We worked hard on our Mother's Day projects all week... but particularly ALL day today.  We made a couple of things, but our main thing was this cute book... I Love You Like You Love Me (A book of similes!).  The kids were very creative in these.  We had "I love you like bees love honey." "I love you like dogs love bones." "I love you like the moon loves the stars."  I don't agree with the following picture (Go Redskins!) but it was a very creative idea!

3. We started testing this week, which I find to be challenging at times.  I like for the class to be as quiet as possible while each child is reading to me... this can be tough when they are doing Centers as normal!  I have these special friends, Mr. Potato Head and Mr. Cow.  They like to sit on desks of students who are working hard.  Every 10 minutes they "venture" to a new desk to watch another hard worker.  They love it.

4. I love teaching money.  We made these cute coin animals this week.  Look how well this one turned out:

5. My best friend is getting hitched in 2 weeks!  I am so excited for her... and this weekend I need to head out to buy shoes.  I love a good reason to buy new shoes :)  I am thinking these:

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

My First Big TPT Project :)

I have been working really hard on my first BIG unit for TPT.  I am really proud of it and I hope that my kids find it useful over the summer.  We have a really long summer this year... we lost the privilege to start before Labor Day (some weird tourist law) so we get out early June this year, but don't go back until after Labor Day.  I am slightly worried my kiddos may lose some of their skills so I put together a Swimming Into Second Grade packet.  I think I will add some sort of incentive so they can turn it back into me next year to make sure they do it!

Anyway, here it is :)  

It's almost Friday!!

Motivating Writers

I am linking up to Jivey for this post.  Check hers out at Ideas By Jivey.  She is looking for ways to motivate writers... which seems to be getting harder and harder as the year comes to a close.  

My kids write two main times during the day.  When they come in, they write in their morning journal (which you can buy at my TPT store!)  My kids can start arriving at 7:30, but the bell doesn't ring until 7:50 (and I don't normally start the day until 8:00) so they have ample time to write in the morning.  At the beginning of the year, its hard for them to write a lot of details, but when I introduced Author of the Day the motivation increased.  I choose three students at random to share each morning.  The class then votes on who they think wrote most like an author (we talk about interesting details, captured the readers attention, etc.). 

The student who is chosen as Author of the Day has their writing displayed on the board for the day.  They also get to sit in the rocking chair during dear time (wow!) and recently I was given these awesome pencils that they also get to use for the day.

The Author of the Day has really motivated my kids during their morning journal time.

As for Writers' Workshop... the kids are pretty self-motivated.  I think that when I share good examples and take pictures of good writing, that motivates them to want to do well.  I don't have any tricks there, just a positive learning environment during writing and lots of great mentor texts :)

Happy Writing!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

We Rocked This Year Linky Party!

As the year comes to a close, it is a good time to reflect on all of the positives for the year!  I am attempting my first linky party!   Share how you rocked this year :)  We all deserve to be proud of our work, especially after a year well done.

Link Up!

This is my first attempt at this!  Please link up to how you rocked this year and spread the word! I want to hear what you did this year that rocked!

Feel free to leave any tips if I did this wrong :)