Thursday, August 27, 2015

Make a Ten: Low Prep, High Engagement

Hi Friends!
   We are getting into the swing of things in first grade, and my sweet little friends are just the best!  I love when the first couple of weeks are under our belt, and we can really dive into the curriculum.

    In math, we have been working on "making a ten", and number combinations to ten using ten frames and number bonds.  We started with some anchor charts and hands-on activities to build numbers, and this little low prep activity really had the kids engaged...and learning! 
We started with some standard two-sided counters. I have a gazillion of these, but any manipulative that you can use two colors of will work....counting bears, unifix cubes, etc...  

I passed out clear cups and gave each child 10 counters.  We were working on Making Ten, but you could use any number of counters to build a number.   The kids got their counters, put their little hands on top, and I told them to SHAKE IT UP!!
Shake it up...shake it up!! The kids spontaneously started singing some Taylor Swift here, which just cracked me up! 

The children then spilled out their counters & drew a number bond on their desk to represent their "spill".  Here are some examples of three kids working on making a ten, and one little friend who was still building to 8! 

When they finished creating their number bonds, they had to write an equation to match it.  They just LOVE writing on their desks, and I love that it keeps them engaged!

We continued shaking and dumping for a while.  They were having so much fun, and the concept was really starting to click. How could I say no?! :)

When everyone had moved on up to making a ten, I had them record their "spills" on a sheet.
Some filled in the whole squares, while others drew the circles to mimic the counters.
While writing equations, we have been working with the commutative property and representing number combinations in two ways.  The children had to write the two equations that represented their counter spills.
They did such a great job AND they were able to identify so many ways to make ten!

Later, we made Rekrenrek bracelets so the kids could practice making combinations of ten, and create story problems to go along with their bracelets.
 This friend told me 6 monkeys were jumping on HER bed, and 4 more came along!

Just a quick, low prep,and easy way to practice building to ten! My kids loved it so much, they've asked to play it again and again.  Can't beat that!  If you would like a copy of the activity sheet, click the picture above or grab it {here}.  

I hope you can use this simple idea!  As always, thanks for stopping by! :)

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Classroom Reveal: Sweet New Year!

Hi Friends! 
   We started back to school on August 5th, and it has been a whirlwind of rules, procedures, hugs, funnies, and learning ever since. I'm usually a night owl, and I've been to bed before 8:00 several times already!

   I have the absolute SWEETEST group of kiddos this year. They honestly make every day so much better, and are a reminder of exactly why I chose this profession.  I just love, love, love them, and can't wait to share all the great things we do together this year :)

   Anyway, I love looking into everyone's classrooms with their blog posts, and pictures on Instagram, so I thought I'd share this year's room with all of you! But, before I do, I want to say something.

    I have seen a lot of amazing classrooms online, and I have also read comments that are both positive and negative about "cutesy" classrooms.  A cute classroom DOES NOT equal a great teacher. It doesn't make anyone better, or anything like that at all. For me, it's my "home away from home". In reality, I spend more time in this space than I do at my house. I want it to feel good when I'm there, and I want it to feel good for my kids, too.  I decorate my room for me and my students, and I share this with you because it's part of who I am.  Just getting that out there... Anyhooooo......

  Welcome to my First Grade! 
My supply cubbies...obviously.  I traded out the old buckets that came with the unit, and upgraded to some matching tubs from Target. One of the best investments I've made. Love the color, the fact that they match, and they don't even need labels!

This is the view from the door for my 20 sweet firsties!

Front of the room where we work with our Promethean Board, display our anchor charts, and hang out with cozy cushions and crate seats. The kids love sitting here...and I love the storage!  One of my favorite Pinterest projects, ever.... whoever thought of this is a GENIUS!

Our reading area/book center. I have seen this rug in so many classrooms, so I guess great minds really do think alike. I clearly have a little love for polka dots, chevron and patterns, so this little area just makes me happy.  My sweet daddy built me these bookshelves, and they are so great for keeping my books organized.

Join me on the rug! We have our morning meetings,whole group lessons, and read alouds here. My sweet momma recovered my chair & I just love it! 

These are my kids' work cubbies. These binder clips with labels have been a lifesaver for me. No more scratching off old crusty labels from year to year, or when adding a new student. I have been to war with some Goo-Gone, and I did not win that battle. Thank you, Pinterest...again!

Where all (well,most) of my "stuff" is stored. Books, binders,and well....stuff!
That chair doesn't live there all the time, but I had been using it as a ladder early that day.Yep, I'm short...and I have T-Rex arms, too!

Can you tell I love some patterns?  Contact paper is definitely my friend!
The clouds are for our Sky High Behavior!  

This is our Standards Board....We call it "I Can Central"!
I also have sharpened and un-sharpened pencils in those cute straw dispensers.

Here is an up-close view of our I Can statements. I just peeled the labels off old soup cans, and taped some new paper ones on the front.  They're perfect for storing our statements.  
{If you want to see these in my store, click HERE.  There are editable cards for your own science and social studies standards)

This is where I do our "centers".  We actually call them stations, and the centers are just one of the stations the kids go to each day. I will post more about this later, but it is honestly one of the best systems I have ever found. Life-changing!

And back to the other side of the room.  I didn't get a picture of this other wall, but it's a full length wall of kid cubbies for bookbags, coats, etc..with my own storage on top & a closest. Nothing too exciting. :)

So, that's it!!  I love my little room, and my little learners, too!
As always, thanks for stopping by & taking this little tour with me. I hope you are off to a GREAT new year,or well on your way if you haven't started yet!!

Happy Back to School!!

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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sight Word Solution! {And a FREEBIE!}

Sight words.  For years, teaching sight words has been an uphill battle with so many of my first graders.  I hear from other teachers (and parents!) all the time & they’re asking “Why does learning sight words have to be so hard?”  Kids ask this, too!  Assigning children a list of words that have no logical connection to one another has always seemed a little “off” to me, but it was the way everyone did it, so it was the way I did it. 

As teachers of sight words, most of us are used to teaching the words as they are listed on the original Dolche or Fry lists. Sometimes this can be frustrating for small children because there is no logical pattern to the words they are learning. 

Even parents are confused by sight words because many of them never learned them when they were in school. I have the solution!

When I was working with my lower babies & doing a lot of work with RTI groups, I had students put their assigned sight words into groups that made sense to them. I noticed that the kids were grouping their word cards by the phonics and spelling patterns they were familiar with.  

That’s how their little brains worked, and I found that my kids are able to master words more quickly if they follow a logical pattern or “make sense”. 

That’s when these lists made their way into my classroom instruction & it’s been the best thing I’ve ever done with sight words. In my district, first graders are asked to master 600 words by the end of the year.  That’s a lot, I know!

This system takes all of the 600+ sight words and groups them by spelling or phonics pattern

For instance, in List 1, children are only learning 2-letter words with long vowel e.
And in List 32, students are only focusing on the r-controlled vowel /ar/.  Breaking words down into manageable parts provides learners with that logical pattern they are often seeking when mastering sight words. 

Sure, there are words that don’t fit a specific pattern, and those are included, as well. They are marked in BOLD in each list.

I’ve made charts that show how each of these lists are correlated with the original Dolche & Fry lists. This is how I made it all work in my head. I had to know that all of the words I was teaching my children were the ones they really needed to know.
 When students have mastered all of the words that can be learned through spelling & phonics patterns, they move onto the challenge words. These challenge words are based on the Fry lists of the most frequently used words in the English language.  

 For these words, each child gets a list to study, as well as a Fluency Passage that includes ALL of the words for practice.  These passages are included because research shows that learning words in isolation is not the best way to master them, but rather embedding them in text has a more positive and long-lasting result.

As children learn their words, we celebrate our success with Sight Word Superstars!!!  In my room, each child has a command hook under their name. There are stars for each 5 lists, and for every list mastered, I punch a hole or put a sticker over the number. When they have learned all 5 lists for that star, they get to hang their star under their name. 
You can choose to cut out each individual star, or just cut out the squares.

You can also just hang them on a binder ring or key ring like you would Brag Tags. Kids love to hang these off their backpacks, or keep them in their cubbies. This is a great way to celebrate without taking up too much classroom space, or if you prefer not to have a public display in your room.

The kids love earning their stars!!

Now, do you have to teach your kids all 600 words? Absolutely not! I know the requirements for sight word mastery varies from district to district, so there is a set for the most common groups – 50, 100, 220, 450, and 600 (the challenge words).

If you’re interested in trying it out, the first set is a Starter Set for the first 50+ words, and it’s FREE for you to download and try. Just click the picture to check it out.

 If you want to check out the other sets, there are previews for each listing that will show you everything included. Just click the picture of each set to check it out! :)

***** EACH SET IS CUMULATIVE! That means, if you teach 220 words, only download the 220 set because it includes everything in the 50 & 100 set, as well as everything you will need to teach 220. YOU ONLY NEED TO PURCHASE ONE SET...the set that is based on how many words you want to teach your students. 

If you only teach 100 words, you only need that one set. However, if you want to teach all 600 words to your kiddos, you can get that, too. It’s 278 pages of EVERYTHING you’ll need to teach that Sight Word Solution!

This has seriously changed the way I teach sight words, and the level of mastery in my classroom. I have seen some of my kids just thrive with this program.  Check out the FREEBIE & let me know what you think!! :)

As always, thanks for stopping by!!
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Monday, June 29, 2015

Bingo Dauber Glue Sponges

Hi Friends!
   Today marks four weeks since my summer began, and as you probably know, I have been spending my time doing a whole bunch of...well, nothing.  Okay, I can't say that. I've been doing a whole lot of everything, but nothing school related. 
   Now that I realize my time is wearing thin, and I've got two weeks of vacation planned in the midst of my last four weeks of summer, it was time to light a little fire under my hiney and do something for my classroom.

   For the last few years, I have made glue sponges each summer to get ready for the school year. By now, you've probably heard about glue sponges, and honey, lemme tell you, they are one of the BEST things that have ever happened to me as a teacher.
If you don't know about glue sponges, I'll give you a little run down.  The original idea comes from Greg at The Kindergarten Smorgasboard.  Basically, you get some tight-sealing plastic containers, layer the bottom with white glue, cut & lay sponge on top of the glue, then pour more glue on top.  Seal up the container,and let it sit for a couple weeks for the sponges to really soak up all the glue.  
In the past, I've gotten some Glad Sandwich containers & the kids shared. This year, I decided to make these little individual ones for each student. 

To put these bad boys to good use in the classroom, the kids cut out their little pieces of paper, lay gently on top of the sponge (because all the glue has been absorbed by the sponge) and voila - glue on the paper AND there's NO MESS!  

Plus, it cuts down on the use of glue sticks, which apparently, my kids eat. Seriously, we go through about 200 before Christmas.  So, glue sponges have saved my sanity....and my money! :)

But...and this is a BIG BUT, my kids always have a problem when we use BIG pieces of paper.  We make crafts with pieces that are simply too big to put into the glue sponge container..even the sandwich ones.

So, my only option so far has been bottle glue..... which means that every kid's desk ends up looking like this. Messy and I'm sure you know what their paper looks like. Globby, runny, wet, and all stuck together.  Ugh.

This year, I wanted to try making something that would help alleviate the Glue Spill Issue, and still utilize the brilliance behind the glue sponge. 
I ordered some empty bingo daubers off Amazon, and set out to try my little idea.  {Note: the ones you buy at the Dollar Tree won't work - the tops don't come off. Just FYI!}. 

They were pretty cheap & they're perfect for what I want to do with them. Plus, their itty bitty -- perfect for little first grade hands.  I just filled them up half way, put the dauber on top, sealed them & done!

You just squeeze until the glue fills the spongy top & then "dab" onto the BIG pieces of paper that won't fit in the containers. You can also drag them if you need a little more glue, but no matter what, NO MESS!  Woo hoo!!! :)
 I'm in love with my new Glue Daubers.

You might ask, "Why don't you just use glue bottles?"  I know that makes the most sense, but seriously, friends, my kids get bottle glue EVERYwhere, no matter how many lessons we have on "Just a Dot, Not a Lot".  There are some that get it & do wonderfully with glue bottles, and then there are some that just like glue. 
A lot. A whole lot.

Plus, they think the Glue Sponges are cool, and I know they'll love these little daubers, too! Maybe your little ones will love them, too! :)

So, that's it for me, y'all ! I hope you're enjoying your summer & can take advantage of this little tip!
Thanks for stopping by! :)

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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Quick Teacher Tip: Summer Notes

Hi Friends!
    I'm keeping it short today, but I wanted to share something I do every summer. 
It's a very small something, but it has a BIG impact.  
We're about halfway through the summer here in Georgia, and this is usually about the time I sit down and write each of my "last year" students a little note.  

It's not much. I keep it simple.  I ask them about their summer,and what they have been doing over the break. Then, I tell them one or two things I have been doing.  I end with telling them to come see at Open House or when school starts back and letting them know I have been thinking about them & how much I miss their smiling face.

It takes a little bit of time to personalize a note for every child, but it's so worth it.  Every August when school starts back, I have kids come by to tell me they were so excited to get their "REAL MAIL!".  
Come on, you know you love REAL MAIL, too!  

Not bills, not ads, but the real mail that makes you feel special and like someone thought enough to send you something through the Snail Mail. 

In this day & age of email & SnapChat, very rarely do children get something in the mailbox that is actually theirs...and is personalized just for them! 

Plus, it teaches them a little about note or letter structure, and how to actually correspond using proper capitalization, punctuation and sentence formation.  It's also a great real world connection to the content I teach in first grade.  

Not only do my kids love it, but parents do, too! They love knowing that their child still holds a special place in a teacher's heart, even after the last day of school. 

I mail them out & use the school's address as my return address. That saves any sort of problem with privacy or letting parents and students know where I live.  

There are some of my former students that I still send Summer Notes to - they have written me back over the years, and it's become a bit of a tradition. I love being part of my students lives, and letting them know that they always matter!

So, that's it for me. Just a little Saturday tip for maintaining those relationships and letting students know that they will always be "one of my kids".

As always, thanks for stopping by! :)

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Friday, June 19, 2015

Five for Friday: I'm a Nomad!

It's been a while, but I'm finally linking back up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for the Five for Friday linky. It's one of my favorites, because I just love seeing everybody's random glimpses into their lives.  And summertime is the best time for random!
 So, here we go....
I've spent most of my summer on the road, driving up and down the interstate and on country back roads catching up with old friends, MB, my parents, and absolutely loving it. I'm only 3 weeks into my summer, and I've put over a thousand miles on my car! Yep, I'm  a nomad this summer!

 I started the week in the North Alabama mountains. This is Little River Canyon, which is basically a canyon on top of a mountain. That totally blows my mind!  You can drive all the way around the rim, visit the waterfalls, and even hike down to the bottom and go swimming!

 So, my next "drive" is to my 20 year high school reunion. I mean, 5 year reunion. Yeah, that's it!  It's funny how "old" is relative to your own age.  38 used to be old. It's not anymore, at all. 

  Seriously, I'm not quite sure how the last twenty years have gone by so fast, but I'm looking forward to going back to my hometown and catching up with old friends.  
This is my senior picture. Look at those eyebrows!! Wowza!

 Speaking of trips. I"m getting ready to head to Vegas for the TpT conference in July. Look at my SWAG!!  I'm so excited about my t-shirt (will blog about this soon!), and my awesome planner, and they were all waiting for me when I swung by my house to check the mail.  
Don't you just love coming home to packages??  YES! :)

 And, lastly, I have joined up with some other TpT sellers and bloggers for the summer Seller Challenge. This week, we were challenged to give one of our products a makeover. It was just the kick in the butt I needed.

I redid my Manners Unit...and not just the cover...the WHOLE thing!  New clip art, new fonts, new activities, and 18 more pages!  It's a full 10 days worth of lesson plans, complete with crafts, activities, task cards, graphic organizers and worksheets.  If you're interested in learning more, just click the picture and check out the preview.

I also bundled my Addition and Subtraction Fluency Tickets. I start these right away when we go back to school, and we use them all year. They're great for increasing that math fact fluency!  On sale now - just click the picture to learn more! :)

So, that's it for me! I hope you've had a fabulous week & you're enjoying your summer! :) As always, thanks for stopping by! :)

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