I'm so excited to be introducing myself as one of the authors of the new Virginia is for Teachers blog. Click the picture below to check it out!
Friday, August 21, 2015
I'm so glad to have another great week of first grade in the books AND I'm so glad it's the weekend!
If you've been reading my blog for a while you know that I was new to first grade last year. Before first grade I'd spent all my time in 4th, 5th, and 6th grades. I am going to confess that the thoughts of calendar time stressed me out!! It was elusive. I polled everyone I worked with about what they did during calendar, I read blogs, and did a lot of Pinterest searches. What if I did the wrong things? Was there a special formula?
Thankfully there is no wrong way to do calendar! But there are a lot of amazing ways to do it right! There were a lot of great ideas out there about calendar time and it really helped me out a lot, so I wanted to pay it forward and link up to share some of my favorite routines for calendar.
Last year I used straws to count the days in the place value chart. This year I switched to the base 10 blocks and I'll never go back to straws. Already I can see my students starting to gain an understanding of place value.
This was something I used last year and loved! It's even better this year because I'm using it along with the base 10 blocks, so when we do the add it together part it makes my teacher heart so happy!
If you are interested in it you can click here to go to Home and School Creations.
Have you heard about Blendspace?
It's an amazing tool that lets you blend together all different types of media into one lesson. It is super easy to use.
As soon as I read about it this summer I signed up and started this calendar lesson. I love using YouTube videos in the classroom, but I hate getting the ads on screen with students watching. YIKES!
Since I've been using Blendspace that hasn't been a problem at all. Another perk is that the lesson stops after each video. Last year I just created a playlist on YouTube, but the problem with that is the songs play continuously. Since it didn't stop after each video I had to do acrobatics across the room to get to the computer and stop the videos. Because we all know if I don't stop it and Adding with a Pirate comes on we have to listen to it. Every. Time.
I wanted to incorporate some tally mark practice in to calendar, so I made these little posters. Last year I tried keeping a tally mark for every day of the school year and that didn't work out so good for us. I thought a month would be a little more manageable.
Click the picture to check them out at TPT.
Of course the trusty countdown subtraction problem. Can be a little depressing at times when you're having one of those weeks, but I'm hopeful that all that repetition helps the second grade math teachers!
I bought this adorable 10 frame (180 frame?!) on TPT this summer and we are loving it! It makes a really nice visual for the kids. There were some ooh and aahs when they noticed it, how tall it was, and how many boxes we'd have to fill up before first grade was over. Click here if you'd like to see this one from Firstie Kidoodles.
What are you some of your favorite calendar time routines? I'm always looking for something else to add!
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
I love discovering easy little things that make my teaching life so much better! Today I have to share with you a recent discovery that has made me so happy!
Did you know these $8.98 poster frames from Wal Mart are dry erase? Me neither..until a coworker told me.
To make things better she added this handwriting poster from Amazon. I couldn't be happier with this. It makes an amazing way to model handwriting. I tried it out Friday and it worked perfectly!
BTW, you can buy smaller sizes of the posters and frames, so that opens up a whole new set of possibilities!
Once I get my literacy stations up and running I plan on letting kids use this as handwriting practice. See that blank space on the left side? Perfect for adding a list of spelling or sight words for the kiddos to practice. Kids love dry erase and bigger is better, right?
I told my fabulous coworker, Donna, that this was one that was to good not to share with you all! Any other ideas on what we could use this for?
Thursday, August 13, 2015
Hi friends! I've been back in school for a whole week now. How'd that happen?
I wanted to stop in with just a few pictures of my classroom for you.
I love having the big window beside of my door and I'm always looking for ways to decorate it! The little First Grade Rocks pennants are from the fabulous First Grade Blue Skies. I've got a post coming soon about the sign in the little window.
This is one of our little reading areas. I just added the rug this year and I thought it looked extra inviting. I hope the kids think so too!
I'm trying out the Prop and Park from Really Good Stuff this year and so far it is amazing. Anyone else ever notice how a first grader can't keep a pencil on their desk until after Christmas? This really has been a life saver when it comes to lost pencils and erasers. Each kid has 2 pencils and an eraser at their desk. The only place they can store them is in the Prop and Park. I hope this cuts down on the pencil hoarding, too. You know....time to clean out desks and one kid has 20 pencils crammed in the back!!
I added the bookshelf to the calendar area this year to help house some lesson materials and read aloud. I like the extra stacking room. #sorryimnotsorry
Thanks for stopping by and taking a little peak into some of the favorite parts of my classroom. What's your favorite area in your classroom?
Monday, August 10, 2015
Amazon knows me. It's scary sometimes, but also nice because the book suggestions that pop up are how I stumbled across this adorable book that is just right for back to school!
Rude Cakes by Rowboat Watkins
I took one look at the cover and the title of this book and knew that I had to have it. When it came in I couldn't open it fast enough and let me just say, it doesn't disappoint!
This little gem will be the perfect, light hearted way to talk about manners! I can't wait to read this one with my firsties...I can hear the giggles now.
Here is what Amazon has to say:
Who knew that cakes were so rude?! In this deliciously entertaining book, a not-so-sweet cake—who never says please or thank you or listens to its parents—gets its just desserts. Mixing hilarious text and pictures, Rowboat Watkins, a former Sendak fellow, has cooked up a laugh-out- loud story that can also be served up as a delectable discussion starter about manners or bullying, as it sweetly reminds us all that even the rudest cake can learn to change its ways.
And since I can't help myself I'll leave you with this picture of one of my favorite pages from the book.
Saturday, August 8, 2015
Birthdays are such a big deal for kiddos! And they are so easy for teachers to forget. Can I get an amen?
This year I want to do a little more for my kiddos to celebrate their birthdays and I wanted to share my plan with y'all!
These simple half-page birthday cards are black and white, so I will be printing those on cardstock and letting the birthday boy or girl skip morning work and color instead *gasp*! You could also do some colored paper here if you'd like. I'll have all my little darling sign the back of the card.
I also came up with some little black and white tags to add to a crazy straw. I got a pack of 6 straws for $1 at the Dollar Tree. That means for $4 and a few minute cutting I am ready for birthdays for the entire year and I'll have some happy kiddos!
Click on the picture to get your freebie!
Friday, August 7, 2015
I am officially two days in to the new school year. Things are going great so far! I have a great group of firsties and I can't wait to see what the year has in store for us.
We had Meet the Teacher Night earlier in the week and I wanted to share some things from that, so I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday!
I decided to do a scavenger hunt this year instead of stations. A lot of people last year just ignored the stations and weren't sure what to do, so I was hoping this would give everyone some more direction and me more time to mingle.
Here's the sign in table. Instead of a sign in sheet I had a set of labels with each kid's name printed on them. They took a label and parents got one too. I really liked this and will definitely do it again. It was nice to be able to call the kids by name without having to ask for it.
The hunt directed families to different parts of the classroom. They looked at the coat closet, basket for turning in papers, mailboxes, and the place we put lunch boxes. They also sorted all their supplies, so all I had to do was put them away when the night was through - fabulous!
On the first day kids and parents knew exactly where to turn in forms and put away book bags and lunch boxes. That made for a much smoother transition that first day. I've also already had parents helping to remind kids to turn in form to the basket - such a big help!
I got tired of the old particle board mailboxes I had, so I bought this file organizer from Amazon. So far it has worked great! There are 27 slots, so plenty of extra for me to keep extra papers and things that need to be filed. It also seems easier for the students to use.
I had a table set up with a volunteer sheet, Remind sign up sheet, a class brochure, a DOT binder, and a spelling homework notebook. That was a stop on the scavenger hunt, but I don't think it's something I would include again. I didn't ever really see anyone looking at the binder or notebook.
I wanted to have the kids leave their name tags with me so I could start putting names with faces. I came up with this guessing game idea to help me and give them something to look forward to on the first day. Everyone seemed to like it, so I think it's something I would do again.
I'm keeping it real with this chart. My charts aren't beautiful, but they are functional.
Overall I really liked the scavenger hunt. I think the kids and parents are now more familiar with my room. I do think next year I will pair it down a little because it seemed to take a little longer than I'd originally thought.
Are you planning on trying something new this year at Meet the Teacher Night or Open House?
Saturday, August 1, 2015
Hi blogging friends! I took a break from the blogging world in July to really soak up all the summer I could. I'm so glad to be back all recharged and ready to go. I've got a great freebie to help you start out August the right way!
First things first, when I start the school year I've got to be organized! Last year I took the leap and made one of the ever so popular teacher binders. You can click here to check out that post if you'd like to.
I always like to do some reflecting at the end of the year on anything new I've tried. There were a lot of things I LOVED about my teacher binder, but there were some things that just weren't working for me; the main one being the calendar.
I didn't need quite so much calendar space. I only use the boxes to write down important meetings, snow days, work days, things like that. So I had a lot of space I didn't need and no room for the notes/reminders I really wanted to see on my calendar.
I spent some time this summer revamping my calendar and I love it!
I love a planner. A. Lot. BUT I need something that will function for me. I pushed all the calendar onto one page and started the week out on Monday. Saturday and Sunday are in one box together and I plan to use that box for notes from the week, things I still need to cover, you know...the kinda things that I sometimes forget. The Monday start week will appeal to all my Erin Condren Life Planner girls out there! It took me a while to get used to that, but now I love it and it makes perfect sense for a school planner!
There's a lot of room to jot notes at the top of the page and there are some lines at the bottom.
This is the page I'm most excited about. I needed a big monthly overview page and I wanted to be able to see it and my calendar at the same time. It is so versatile and I'm really looking forward to being more organized and focused when I plan this year.
If you would like to give this different calendar approach a try click the picture below to head over to my TPT store. There is a freebie in the preview! I also included another calendar option in the product!