January 31, 2013

Hey, Mr. Prez!

I am oh-so-glad that February will be here tomorrow!  That means another jam packed month, but then again what month doesn't feel that way by the time it is over? I can't wait to break out all the Valentine's activities in the next week or so.

But February also brings us President's Day.  I find my students are more fascinated with non-fiction than anything else I teach.  There is just something about it that totally tunes them in! I put together a little packet to go along with our week long President's celebration.  If you were able to check out my MLK unit and enjoyed it, then this will be right up your alley as it is fairly similar.

This mini-unit is the perfect way to teach all about Washington, Lincoln, and President's Day in just a few days! All you need is a non-fiction book to accompany the pages in this unit and you are set!
Here is what the unit includes:
*Who Was Washington? {describing graphic organizer}
*Washington was/had/wanted facts organizer
*Washington 3 facts and a fib {students produce & record 3 facts and a fib)
*Who Was Lincoln? {describing graphic organizer}
*Lincoln was/had/wanted facts organizer
*Lincoln 3 facts and a fib {students produce & record 3 facts and a fib)
*Comparing Washington and Lincoln! {Venn diagram}
*The President's: Fact or Not so Much {cut and paste fact activity}
*If I Were President... {creative writing prompt}
*President's Day ABC order
It is now available in my TPT store and will be on sale this weekend for the Super Sunday sale TPT is throwing. Stay tuned for more info on the sale!!

January 30, 2013

Phonics, Bossy R, and a giveaway!

"How do you spell ______?" Oh. my. word.  I get this multiple times daily and sometimes it just drives me nuts!  Our district implemented a new phonics program this year and I am really liking it, mainly because it is teaching me a lot of rules I never knew of (guessing I didn't grow up learning a phonics program)!! 

This week we began learning all about 'r controlled' vowels.  We focused on -or and -ar this week.  One activity we did involved sticky notes, and let me tell you...I'm so proud to know that my firsties *love* sticky notes just as much as I do!

They had the opportunity to generate -or and -ar words, write them on a sticky note and then record them on our word charts with markers. {Best Teacher Ever moment} Here are our final products from the past 2 days.

Each day we have a lesson targeting a different skill.  The program we teach with uses markings.  The students have to "prove" the sounds that the words make with these markings.  I dictate a word and they have a whiteboard (lined paper in a sheet protector) to write their answer down.

 So much better than paper and a pencil!!

Now onto the giveaway!  My friend Lisa Mattes over at Growing Firsties has reached 400 followers and has an AH-ma-zing giveaway going on. She has over 9 great bloggers giving away some magnificent products and may I just mention a $25 Erin Condren giftcard....hello pretty planners!  

Head on over to her blog to congratulate her and enter her giveaway before it's too late.

January 29, 2013

Get Organized! {storing and turning in work}

In our classroom, everything has to have a "home".  A bin for this and a basket for that.  Before teaching, I never thought I would be so *googly eyed* over colorful storage containers?! Crazy right...or are you the same way?

Last year was my first year of teaching and I HAD to come up with some genius way of organizing how students pick up papers, turn in the papers, and know what to pick up next.  I didn't want one BIG bin for them to turn in their papers...because to me, sorting=death! There are so many more things I would rather do than sort papers, are you with me!?

After one expensive bank account depriving trip to Lakeshore, I came up with (what I consider) my genius plan!

Here are the 3 things you will need:
1. colored stackable sorting trays      2. magnetic colored pockets      3. colored trays

Each day we have 3-4 jobs.  This is what I call their skill work or practice pages.
Job 1 is red.
Job 2 is yellow.
Job 3 is green.
Job 4 is blue.

Each morning, I display what the students will be working on in the magnetic pockets next to our calendar.  This gives them an idea of the work they will be completing that day.

Each job they are to complete can be found in the colored tray, each tray holding a different set of papers. This is where the students will pick their papers up from.  They then return to their desk to work on it. 

When they are finished, they will turn their papers into the colored stackable sorting trays and head back over the the colored trays to pick up their next job.

*** What makes this system uber-important are the color codes. Most of the time the color codes help the students answer their own questions.  If they forgot what job they are on, they can look up at the magnetic pockets to find what paper they just completed.  Whatever color the pocket is would be the same color stackable tray they would turn it into.

This system takes a bit of training at the beginning of the year.  But around mid-year, the students are able to move from one job to the next at their own pace. I rarely get the following questions: "What do I do now?   Where do I turn this in?  Where do I get my paper from?"  I promise you, the training is SOOOOO worth it! And the best part is, everything is already sorted for you! {PTL}!!!!!

How do you manage tasks like these in your classroom? I would love to have some other ideas to play with or try to incorporate into mine!

January 26, 2013

Penguins Galore!

This week concluded our penguin unit {sad day}.  The kiddos just eat this unit up...learning something new and amazing about these creatures everyday!  I am sad to see them go too.  Even though the penguin fun is over, more fun is on the way with the 100th day and Valentine's slowly creeping up!

This is my second year to teach all about penguins.  I decided to create my first (rather large--by my creating standards) themed unit! It was *so much fun* to use something I created in my own classroom! 

 Our unit is 2 weeks long.  The first week we spend learning all about penguins.  The second week is spent on the different species of penguins.  Here is a look at our 'All About Penguins' book from my packet.

We did a little creative penguin writing. We read the book If I Was a Penguin then wrote about what we would do if we were a penguin.
We talked about the differences between fact and opinions and completed our fact and opinion eggs.

 And we ended our week by eating a little "penguin pie" or chocolate ice cream bars!!
Happy weekend!


January 24, 2013

My {Heart} Skips a "Bee"t

 Is it just me or has January already f-l-o-w-n by!? Oh. my. word.  When the date actually hit me, I realized I needed to spend most of my extra 2 days off whipping up Valentine themed math centers.  At our school, we have a designated time first thing in the morning dedicated to tutorials/pull-out groups/interventions, etc.  Since I only have 3 kids taken out of my room, we do our math tubs at this time.  It works out great because when those kids come back we slide right on into calendar time and our math lesson.
My kids LOVE math tubs (centers....what do ya'll call them??). I feel like I get in trouble when we miss a day of them, oops!  I put some special {love} into these math tubs...which for my kids means getting to use candy. I can already hear the..."Can we eat them?".....questions.  So, of course, I had to buy some extra (minus the ewey-sticky-dirty-germ contaminated) candy hearts for them to eat!
There are 7 math tub activities included in this packet.  The following math skills are covered {graphing, fact families, patterning, skip counting, odd/even numbers, fractions, and a number recognition game}. Check out more details below!
Here's what's in the packet:

*Robots Love Fractions (equal parts)
*The Wise Owl's Fact Families
*Candy Heart Patterns
*Candy Hearts Battleship
*Who Holds Your Heart (graphing)
*Monster Math sort (odd/even numbers)
*My Heart Skips a Beet (skip counting)

Recording sheets are provided for every activity!
Next step, print--cut--laminate--cut...ya know, the usual!

These aren't included in my packet but I made them to help my firsties practice skip counting in the coming weeks. And since February is the month of love, I thought I would let you snag a copy for free!

 Leave me some love if you pick up my freebies. Hope you enjoy them and your last few days of the month!

January 22, 2013

Penguins on Parade

We are half way through our penguin unit and the kiddos are {loving} it! There are so many neat things about these creatures that amaze me every time I teach about them.  My firsties are teaching me a bit about penguins too.  I mentioned in an earlier post that our first grade team sends home a penguin project where the families have to choose a type of penguin, make a life-size replica, and come up with 3 interesting facts.  Some kids really do find some interesting facts!

Here is a peek at my creative firsties' penguins! They blew me away this year!
Yes, this penguin is sitting on a slab of granite!
Can you tell his dad is a graphic design artist!?
This Emperor is over 4 feet tall!
Furry friends!
Later this week I will be back with a penguin craft/writing activity and what we put inside of our "All About Penguins" packet!


January 15, 2013

Writing for Dummies {AKA me}!

Okay--I think I have admitted this before but here I go again, I dislike teaching writing. {Gasp!} I know, shame on me. Such an important part of a day in the life of a first grader. I'm contributing my dislike of writing to not be such a great writer myself growing up.

One of my .unstated. resolution's was to become a better writing teacher. Well, let me tell you...this week I have jumped right in! Seems like I just hadn't found a way(in the past) that fit me or my students.  While I was going through my writing folder desperately searching for ideas, I found a sheet that gave me inspiration and my writing lessons were brought to fruition!

We started off this week talking about "story starters" and how important it was to catch your readers attention in the first sentence or two of your story. The anchor chart *fanatic* that I am made this:

Here are the books I used that had great beginnings to show examples of interesting ways to start a story.
The next day we picked a character to write our story about and described it using my 'Describe a Snowman' bubble map. I told them I wanted them to use their imagination and be creative.  I showed them a few different type of snowmen (from clipart I found) to get their little wheels spinning.  Their creativity came to life and describing is what they did!

Our next step was to talk about the parts of a story: beginning, middle, end.  We discussed these concepts: Beginning=story starter, character and setting introduction.  Middle=give your character a problem.  Ending=solve the problem and end the story.   They caught onto this SOOOOO much better than I ever imagined!  I created a worksheet for them to record their thoughts.

After completion, we talked about the AND Disease! They thought this was HILARIOUS!!! I wrote and example of something like this on the board:

When I read it they {laughed and laughed and laughed}!  They thought I was crazy for using the word AND so many times.  They were surprised when I told them that --they-- were actually the ones who were consumed by this disease! I had them go back and edit their papers for the "and disease", capitalization and puncuation.

Our final day of writing consisted of completing our final draft.  I had them transfer their edited writing and complete it by drawing a picture. I was in ~AWE~ after reading most of their stories....had I really taught them step by step with my own ideas!? Heck yes, I felt like I had hit the jackpot!!

We will be at it again this week creating a penguin story to go along with our penguin unit! I'm hoping the process will be a little bit more independent (fingers-crossed)!

This teacher is all smiles : ) 

P.S. If you made it this far, you can click on all the above templates and pick them up in my TpT store for FREE!

January 11, 2013

Five for *Friday*

To celebrate any teacher's FAV day of the week, I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for 'Five for Friday'! Only rule is to list 5 random things about your day or week. Easy enough!

Number 1: I was oh SO sad to see Starbucks *holiday* drinks disappear after the first of the year. I had just discovered my new love for lattes. Talk about a sad day. But wait! They introduced a new winter drink {Vanilla Spice Latte}. LOVES! 

Number 2:  My sweet grandma's 75th birthday is later this month and my mom asked me to design her invitation. My love for powerpoint said yes for me. Here is my final product!

Number 3: I conquered my fear of teaching writing this week by whipping out some lessons from my own brain---mind you I don't feel creative, ever! My firsties took it by the horns and ran with it so much better than I ever thought they would. {Writing post on my success coming soon}.

Number 4: The Bachelor premiere was this week. PTL!

Number 5: To celebrate our 70 degree weather here in Texas, we made some SNOW!!! Just add water....and wahla! Each kid got to take home some in a baggie. Talk about a great Friday!

Have a great weekend my friends!

January 8, 2013

Did someone say PIE and a FREEBIE?!

Author's purpose PIE that is! Today we learned about the author's purpose.  I've always heard the "PIE" acronym to help students remember why an author would write a story but have never used it to compliment my instruction.

I made this anchor chart to introduce the concept.  Once I threw the "easy as pie" slogan out there and explained the chart <just like magic> all their lightbulbs lit up! Since it went over so well, I let them make their own author's purpose pie with 3 simple ingredients.

What. A. Hit!  If teaching all concepts were this simple...well, it would make this job easy almost easy as pie!

I went ahead a made a little freebie for you if you want to snatch it up.  Click on the picture and it will take you to my TpT shop where you can download.