Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Dollar Tree Easter Goodness & 2 FREE Centers!

I know everyone is just about sick & tired of hearing about "Hump Daaaayyy!", but I can't help myself every time Wednesday rolls around.  It gets stuck in my head, I can't lie.

But, since I'm on spring break (yay!), the days are running together .... just the way I like it! They are going by way too fast, though.... boo.

So, in my spring break - sleep late - wear yoga pants & flip flops - do nothing state, I decided to venture out and run some errands. I had seen these super cute plastic carrots on people's Instagram, and I knew I had to find them.So, I went to the Dollar Tree and there they were...these little gems of goodness.... along with way too much other stuff.

Mr. Greg at Smedley's Smorgasboard of Kindergarten posted how he used those cute carrots for some addition and subtraction practice with dice. It's so cute & I love how the kids really got into it.

I can't wait to try out some of Greg's ideas, but I also knew that my kiddos need more....more....more...practice with word problems.  So, I made up this little center to go with these adorable carrots.  I mean, you can't have too many ways to use these, right?! 

Just print, roll them up & put them in the carrots :)
Obviously, since I'm on spring break, I don't have pictures of my kids using these to share with you, but I wanted to get it done so you all could grab it in time for Easter, or your spring theme.  Click the picture to grab it for FREE

While at the Dollar Tree, I also saw these super cute eggs. Now, y'all know I love me some polka dots, so I had to have them :)
 Since I knew my kids would love the carrot activity, I thought I'd make an ELA center for them to use, too. I'm going to fill these bad boys up with some "Fix It Up" sentences, and put them all in a basket with some grass, and voila - center done!

   Here's the 2nd FREEBIE for you - Hatchin' FIx It Up Sentences.  Color & black/white is included. Just click the picture.
I hope your kids love them. I can't wait to get them printed and ready to go in my room next week.

We start our state testing as soon as we get back & I have to proctor for the upper grades, so I needed some center activities to leave with the sub. I think these will be perfect because they don't require a lot of teacher assistance, and my kids should be able to do them independently... fingers crossed :)

Oh, and don't forget about the FREEBIE BLOG HOP
& the awesome $25 Amazon card and TpT Product Giveaway!
 Click {here}to start the hop, grab some more awesome free stuff, and enter to win! 

As always, thanks for stopping by :)


Saturday, April 5, 2014

Hippity Blog Hop - Come on, Hop Along!

I said a hip hop,
Hippie to the hippie,
The hip, hip a hop, and you don't stop, a rock it
To the bang bang boogie, say, up jump the boogie,
To the rhythm of the boogie, the beat.
Hi Friends!  I'm so excited to be joining up with some AMAZING bloggers for the 2nd annual Hippity Blog Hop.  And yes, I totally have "Rappers Delight" by the Sugarhill Gang in my's ok, you know you're singing it, too! (Unless you're too young to even know what I'm talking about...and, in that case, I might just feel like an old lady)

Anyway, Easter is on it's way, and Irene from Learning with Mrs. Leeby and Kimberly Ann from Live, Laugh, I LOVE Kindergarten invited me to be part of this SuPeR fun blog hop.

You might be here because you've already been hoppin' and you were sent here by Teaching in the Tongass - don't you just love her?? She's amazing..AND she lives in Alaska, which is just so cool to me.

Or, you might be starting right here.... so WELCOME!

Here's how this works -
    There are 13 stops - each with a FREEBIE just for you! 
           You grab a freebie, leave a little bloggy comment love, and hop on to the next blogger.

There's also an awesome giveaway you can enter just by following all of our blogs - the winner gets a gift card to Amazon, and some amazing products from all the bloggers. Fabulous, right?

Just enter the Rafflecopter at the end of this post & a winner will be chosen at the end of the week :)

  Now, on to the FREEBIE!
      I don't know about you, but my firsties are still struggling with rhyming words, especially when the actual ending of the words don't  match (i.e break, cake).  Here's a little Rockin' Rhyming Robots matching center to help the kids match words with identical endings, and those that just sound the same... 
 Just click the picture or {here} to grab it! :)

Next up?? Hop on over to First Grade Fantabulous for another awesome FREEBIE!
  And, don't forget about the giveaway... I can think of a MILLION things I could spend the gift card on, and these products are incredible.   Good luck! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy Hoppin', Friends! :)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Digging Through the Dictionary & some FREEBIES!

You know when you just can't figure out a *NEW* way to teach the same ole thing??
After 13 years in first grade, it happens quite a bit.  I mean, it's the same content and although I have new kids, I get tired of teaching it the same way & I'm always on the lookout for new ideas.

And that's why blogs and Pinterest might JUST be the best thing ever invented! :)

So, I was trying....trying....trying to find a new way to practice dictionary skills with my kids.  Not the most exciting topic, for sure. 

Sure, the kids think dictionaries are cool, but I needed to spice up our lessons a little bit.  Then, I stumbled upon the CUTEST dictionary kites from Cara at The First Grade Parade.
When I saw these, I KNEW we had to make them & my firsties would LOVE it!
Plus, this is our last week before SPRING BREAK (woo hoo!), so this idea was perfect 
for our spring theme.

We started with our anchor chart... AND a discussion of why we need to learn how to use a REAL dictionary...and not just the one on our iPad or phones...

After our  mini lesson & some exploring through our dictionaries, the kids each got a word.
I differentiated the words based on the level of each student.  
I wanted them all to be different.

They  had to find the guide words (ugh, guide words!), the page number, and the definition.
Then, they recorded it on the different bows for the kite.

When they were finished with all that, they got to illustrate their word on the middle of their kite.

Within our study, we also made Dictionary Clouds to go with our kites.

They started with their name - a favorite dictionary activity from the past.
With each letter of the child's name, they had to find a word that begins with that letter, and define it.

Then, they recorded each letter & word on a cloud.
Of course, they had to write their guide words & page number, too!

Then, the covers were colored & I stapled them all together to make little cloud books..

Of course, everyone's book was a little different...
different words, and with everyone's names being different lengths, some books were bigger than others.

They turned out super cute & allowed the kids to really practice using their dictionaries.

The kids really loved doing both of these activities - they were busy, engaged, and learning, too!
Who knew using a dictionary could be so much fun??

NOTE: The kite idea is not mine. I found it on The First Grade Parade, and give sole credit to Cara Carroll.

I did make the kite templates because I needed something for my own classroom. If you'd like to grab it, click {here}.

The Dictionary Name Clouds can be downloaded {here}.

If you download either one, I'd love to hear you comments!! :)

So, that's it for me, friends! One more day 'til spring break, and I. AM. READY!

We are hosting a Relay for Life Movie Madness event at school tomorrow - the kids bring money and get to "skip class" to watch a movie with their friends.  And the best part?? Teachers get that time off to work in their rooms... a WHOLE TWO HOURS! What?!??!  

It's an amazing way to raise money AND since we don't have any more teacher workdays, it's an awesome way to get a little work time in!

I hope you've all had a fantabulous Thursday, and as always, thanks for stopping by ! :)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Currently!

It's time for the Currently.... one of those things I look forward to each and every month!  And the April Currently makes me even happier, because it means we're THAT much closer to SUMMER!!! Woo hoo!! Thanks to Farley for always hosting this fun linky :)

Listening.... to some good ole' news & weather. I admit to being a total weather dork, and I am constantly checking it on my phone, staying up late to make sure I know what to wear the next day, and then watching it again in the morning JUST to make sure.  Plus, I like keeping up with what's going on in the world.  

Loving....that in 3 fabulous days, I will be on spring break. It's so late compared to a lot of other people I know, but it always falls where we only have 6 weeks left of school when we get back, so I love it. Plus, I know people that don't even get one, so I'm considering myself lucky :)

Thinking.... that I want to get this last formal observation over with. We have 6 observations/evaluations per year, and this is the LAST one.  I thought it was going to be today, but it never happened. Since it's unannounced, you just kinda spend your day waiting for the door to creak open, but not today, friends...not today.  And I was all kinds of prepared! haha.  Does that ever happen to you??  So, fingers crossed it's tomorrow. It has to be before Thursday afternoon, so I know it's coming.  After 13 years, you'd think I wouldn't get nervous anymore, but it always happens. 

Wanting... some OTBT shoes. I was out with my best friend this weekend, shopping & getting manis and pedis, and this girl walks in with the cutest shoes I've ever seen.  I had to ask her where she got them, and she proceeded to tell me all about OTBT (Off the Beaten Track). They apparently are the MOST comfy shoes ever...and although expensive, she says she TEACHES and wears them EVERY day. Now, I dont know about that with this big ole' heel, but they looked so precious with her cute cropped boyfriend jeans, and I want them. Bad.  Hmmm... I do have a birthday coming up.... haha :)

Needing... a nap. I wish I could take back all those times I refused to nap as a kid and cash them in now. Wouldn't that be fabulous??? Yeah, doesn't look like that's gonna happen.

Hours and Last Day...  We have to report by 7:40. Kids can show up starting at 7:15, but they don't come to our rooms until 7:45. We meet in morning assembly, and go back to our rooms to start the day. The bell rings at 2:40 for the kids to load buses, and I can leave at 3:15....not that many of us do.   Our last day is Friday, May 23rd, with two post-planning days the Tuesday and Wednesday after Memorial Day.  So, not that I'm counting, but that gives me 38 DAYS of school left...  not that I'm counting....

So, that's it for me, friends... Now, it's your turn to get your Currently up & running, so I can be nosey and read all about what's going on in your little piece of the world. Head on over and link up!! :)

As always, thanks for stopping by!!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Five for Friday!!!

It's Friday!!!!  Yes, I'm yelling that. Loudly.
What a week. The kid are SO ready for spring break... and so am I.
One more week, more week...

Anyway, since it's Friday, it's time to link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for her weekly linky....

Here's just a little peak at my week :)

If you've been reading any of my blog posts lately, we have been hunkering down with some opinion writing. There are so many books out there that lead into this type of writing, and this is one of my absolute favorites.
Duck! Rabbit!  is hilarious and so stinkin' cute. 
The kids have to decide whether or not the "character" in the book is a duck or rabbit.
Then, they had to write their opinion and tell me WHY they think what they think! :)
We have been building numbers to 120, and one of our favorite activities was building houses!  As with almost every single thing I do, we had to read a book.  We read The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, and discussed the different houses each of the pigs built. Then, the kids had to build their own pig house using base ten blocks. We had been studying hundreds, so they got that concept & I let them use up to 3 hundred blocks, 9 tens and 9 ones.

Then, they wrote their "address" (the number they used to build the house) down and re-created their house using paper base ten blocks. Next week, we'll focus on even and odd, and use our houses to fill up "Even Avenue and Odd Street"! 

We did this last year, so if want to read more about this activity, you can read that original post {here}.
Kelley at Teacher Idea Factory blogged this week about the most AMAZING management tool - When I tell you it's amazing, trust me on this one.

It's FREE, which of course I love. GoNoodle is a site where you create a free account, and then everyday, you log in with your kiddos and do brain breaks!

There are zumba routines, Just Dance like activities, and even sporting events that will remind you of a Wii game. For example,the kids get a tutorial on a track event like the 100m hurdles, and they practice.... JUMP.

Then, they get to actually participate in a relay & the screen shows them their virtual score. Of course, they think they've really placed in the event, and they go nuts!  With every brain break, the class earns activity points, and levels up. It's AWESOME!!!

Most of the brain breaks are between 3-5 minutes, and it's perfect for that time in the day where your little ones need to get their wiggles out.

To learn more about it, go check out Kelley's post {here}.

You know me, I love some blogger inspired lessons!
This one comes from the incredible Cara at The First Grade Parade.

If you haven't read Hey, Little Ant!, you must! It's a story of a boy and an ant. The ant is trying to convince the boy not to squish him, and at the end of the book, the author leaves the decision up to the reader.

The kids wrote their OPINION of what they boy should do & then made this super cute craft.

Again, it's all FREE and on Cara's blog :)

And last, but certainly not least.... I got to spend some much-needed quality time with my oldest and dearest friend....
 We have been best friends for almost 25 years, and live 3 hours apart, so any time we get to hang out is a true blessing.  She took her sweet little girl on a mini-vacay to Atlanta for some American Girl shopping and LegoLand fun, so we managed to squeeze in some quality time. 

The picture is a little Throwback Thursday action for ya! We haven't aged THAT much, I dont think :)

And, this weekend, I get to spend time with my other best friend of 25 years... 
There's nothing like lifelong friends, and I'm so excited :)

So, that's it for me, friends. What a great...and BUSY...week!  
Head on over to Doodle Bugs Teaching and link up.. I'd love to see what you've been up to :)

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sight Words: The Bane of my Existence!

So, I hear that some teachers don't ever take any work home. I'd like to meet those teachers, and find out their magic trick. Do you have an elf in your pocket that gets everything done? My "to-do" list just gets longer and longer as the year goes on, and I am still looking for that elf.

As for me, every weekend - well almost every weekend - I celebrate Schoolwork Sunday.  Oh yeah, it's quite a party...complete with confetti (scraps from cutting out laminate), paper products (oh, the papers to grade!), and delectable delights like sight words.

Ugh. Sight Words.

They have become the bane of my existence.

In my district, our first graders are expected to learn 600 by the end of the year. No, you read that right, 600. We used to teach to 220, but now it's 600.

I've had teacher friends in other places ask me how we teach these,and how we keep up with the data.

Enter sight word rings...
Oh, it's not anything new. Billions of teachers use sight word rings every year in their classrooms. It's just that it's the only way I have figured out to teach these things, and honestly, it works.

So, every two weeks, I test all 24 kids on their words, and make new sight word rings. Each child has different words to learn, so they all have to be different.
 I use their data charts to know exactly what words to put on their ring, and then sit down with my hand-dandy crayola markers and go to town.
Each child has a sight word card on the front of their ring.
The words are color coded by each group of 100.  I write the words in those colors, so they know exactly what group of words they are working on.
They earn a check mark and a prize for each group they learn.
 This all happens until we hit 600.

After that point, I figure they don't need individual words on rings, but I don't want the kids to stop learning new words, so I put lists on rings.

Now, I'm not one to reinvent the wheel if I don't absolutely HAVE to, so when I found these lists of 1-1000 words, I was a happy happy camper.
Again, I go with the color code. It helps me, and it helps them know what list they are working on.

Each group of 100 is broken down into 25-word lists. (Click {here} for the lists)

I cut those apart and laminate (well, not in this picture..haha).
I am in LOVE with these lists...  the kids that have moved past 600 still like having a ring, but it has eliminated the work of individual cards.

And, like I said, it works.
 This little one knew 102 coming into first grade....
And as of last week, he was 543!  Woo hoo!  See? A party, indeed!

I keep track of the data with a very sophisticated antiquated system that looks like this...
As you can tell, I have kiddos that range from less than 100 words to more than 600... 

Which is why I do it. I don't know any other way, and it seems to be working :)

But, this is the first year working with this many words, and using the lists for more than 600, and I'm wondering if lists would work for the first sets.  

Here's where YOU come in - what do YOU do?  How many words do YOU have to teach?
I'm open to suggestions, friends.... 

Right now, my plan is to make these lists a little cuter (I can't help myself sometimes!), but with 37 days left of the school year (Woo hoo! Again with the party!), I'm sticking with what I've got :)

As for HOW we teach them, it's a huge partnership between home and school, and lots of embedded text in guided reading. It's part of the kids' nightly homework, and the sight words are supposed to "live" in their folder, so they can take them out whenever they finish early or have a little extra time.

Again, if you have suggestions, give me a shout!

So, that's it, friends. Keepin' it real for you today...
Leave a comment & let me know how you do it... and as always, thanks for stopping by!

Monday, March 24, 2014

A "Peach" of a Time - Georgia Blogger Meet-Up!

There is so much to be said for this bloggy world- it's filled with so much inspiration and friendship, and it's truly one of the best things I have ever done. I absolutely love being part of this blogging community, and this weekend, I had the fabulous opportunity to meet up with some other Georgia bloggers and TpT sellers...and many of these folks were people I've been blog stalking forever!! 

Jayne at Smart Kids was kind enough to set all this up for us, and she did an amazing job. It doesn't hurt that she's absolutely HILARIOUS, too!!  She had us all laughing from the get-go!

We showed up, and there were already goodies waiting on us.. and how cute are these boxes?! Presh! And they were filled with some amazing prizes. 
We had our tables all decked out with cuteness and ready to get down to some business...and some fun!
We talked products, business plans, and even shared ideas and advice...

We even had an "auction" hosted by Greg at Mr. Elementary Math, who was handy with a gavel.
We were able to see each other's products and take some home, too!

New friends were made....

And I even got to meet one blogger I've been talking to FOREVER.
Angie at Monahan's Monkey Madness and I have been emailing and texting for over a year now, and we'd never met. Today was the day :) So exciting!

Ed and Diane at Georgia School Supply were kind enough to host this event, and to let us do some shopping! If you are ever in Macon, please go to their store - they have SO much stuff. I could have stayed there for HOURS!

It was just such a fun day, and I can't wait to do it again. 
I'm hoping for a summer meet-up, and some more good times :)

I hope everyone left feeling as happy and empowered as I did - what a great day!

Check out some of our Photo Booth fun, and the links to these amazing bloggers. 
They truly are a great group of girls...and a great guy, too! 
Jayne, Kelly, Angie, Stacy, Tara, Valerie
The Teacher Wife
Funky Fresh Firsties

...And They All Fall Down...

Georgia Grown Kiddo's

Jennifer, Carol, Kathy, Meghan, Kim, Irma, Megan


Michelin, Jessica, Greg, Erin, Alison


What a great weekend, and a great way to start the week.  Happy Monday, friends...and as always, thanks for stopping by :)