Wednesday, December 31, 2014

I {Heart} Instagram: Top 10 of the Year!

I know, I know, I've been a terrible blogger.
New Year's Resolution: DO BETTER AT BLOGGING!! :)

But, rather than waste your time talking about my problems, let's take a look back at the year....IG style!  While I haven't been the best at blogging, I do love me some Instagram!  I'm linking up with Natalie at Teachery Tidbits to highlight my favorites pics from 2014....

This was one of my favorite activities I did with my kiddos last year. They loved making 100 Day Cupcakes, and they turned our so stinkin' cute. I should warn you, though...these things take forever! 

This is a two-for-one special! We worked really hard on our opinion writing with What if You Had Animals Hair and What if You Had Animal Teeth. The kids absolutely loved the, their writing blew me away!! I call that a win-win! :)

Noun Trains! If you can't tell - I love me some craftivities! I know there are some people that don't think there's time to do crafts anymore in first grade, but I am a firm believer that children learn by play and by doing....and by doing crafts that incorporate what we are learning, I think they are better able to remember what we have learned. 
Just my opinion. Rant over. :)

You can't study nouns without working on adjectives, too! 
My first graders had so much fun creating their own monsters...and I had so much fun reading their descriptions!

If you haven't heard or used the song "Sneaky e is a ninja" from the Electric Company, go now to YouTube, and search it.  It's okay... I'll wait.

Yep, now it's in YOUR head, too!  I've been singing it for weeks!

One of my favorite activities of the year! Using "tent cards" (notecards folded in half) & a looooong piece of string tied to  both ends of the room, the kids put the numbers 0-120 in order. 
It was mass chaos, yes....but super fun...and educational, too! :)

 I'm in awe sometimes of how much our little ones are expected to learn...
but, this activity was a fun one and  I do LOVE a sticky note!

Volcano Day....still referred to by some of my first graders as the "BEST DAY EVER!".
Yes, it was THAT fun!

I really loved my "back to school" door this year.
And, for the record, the balloons DID stay inflated...for several weeks! :)

And my favorite one...
This has been kind of a rough year.. I won't lie. But, things like this are what keep me going.
They kids were at their Working with Words station, and when they finished with spelling words, they made me this.
It made my heart smile :)

So, that's it for me, friends. If you don't follow me on IG yet, click the little picture logo at the top of my blog and follow I can follow you, too!!

As always, thanks for stopping by and.... Happy New Year!!!!!
(this looks like my kind of year right here!!!)

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Saturday, December 20, 2014

All I Want for Christmas.... is a TpT Gift Card! {Giveaway}

Hi Friends!
  I don't know about you, but Christmas is coming way toooooo fast! I've got so much to do, and so little time to get it done.  One of those things left on the list is to finishing buying gifts.

   For my teacher friends, I can't think of anything better than a TpT gift certificate.  I could spend a fortune every day on amazing resources that leave me with less to do and some easy planning!  TpT has given their gift certificates a little makeover, and not only are they the most practical gift out there, but they are super cute, too!  They really do make a perfect gift for your teacher buddies, or your child's teacher.  You can check them out by clicking the picture below.  {Make sure you are logged in to TpT!}

   I'm teaming up with some other fantabulous blogger friends to give away a $10 TpT gift certificate.

   To enter, just follow the Rafflecopter rules below, and then check out the other amazing bloggers who are also giving away $10 to TpT. Just click on the links below to head to their blogs!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
 I hope you all have a wonderful holiday, and are able to rest & relax with those most important to you. Wishing you and yours a very merry Christmas!!!  

Don't forget to check your email on the 24th to see if you've won! Good luck!:)

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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Differentiation Tips & a Currently Freebie!

Hi Friends!
  I don't know about y'all, but I could really use a slow down right about now. This month is flying by, and November is just a blur. How is it that Christmas is almost here?  I need more days...of the weekend kind, to be specific.  Do you think I could ask Santa for that??

   In the haste of the season, I have neglected my sweet little blog.  However, I am so fortunate to be guest blogging over at Laura Candler's Corkboard Connections today. She is absolutely AH-Mazing, and I am so excited to be on her blog!!  It's a post all about an easy way to differentiate centers in your classroom.  Click the picture below if you want to check that out.....but come back... I have a FREEBIE for ya!!

 If you're still with me here, I always hate to miss an opportunity to link up with Farley & the Currently.  So, while I'm super late to this party, I still wanted to join. Consider it being fashionably late...or something like that. Christmas music. It's my fave, and I always have it on when the season rolls around. It just makes me happy :)

Loving.... that it's finally cooling off down here in the dirty south. This past week, it was in the mid 70's and kids were wearing shorts to school!  This weekend has brought us a little bit of a cool down, and I'm loving jeans, boots and sweaters. It's so hard to Christmas shop while your sweating!

Thinking... that, speaking of Christmas shopping, I really need to get on it. I'm almost done, but have a few more to go. It's always those last ones that are so hard for me. Then, there's stocking stuffers.  While I LOVE getting them, it's such a struggle to come up with good ones for others.  Yep, got Christmas on the brain for sure!

Wanting...everything I see.  Why is it that in the months leading up to Christmas, I can't come up with a single thing I want, then when I'm shopping for others, I want every . single. thing!  The struggle is real, y'all.... the struggle is real!

Needing... absolutely nothing. I am truly blessed.  Ok, ok, I could go for a nice massage or a winning lottery ticket, but truth is, I'm happy :)

Giving... this Rudolph! Rudolph! Freebie!  My kids love doing this little book every year, and it's a cute way to review, practice and assess color words and rhyming words, too! The kids fill in the rhyming color word, and then color Rudolph's nose to match. :)  Just click the picture to grab it!

So, that's it for me, friends. As always, thanks for stopping by & I wish you the SMOOTHEST of days as the holiday approaches :)

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Five for Friday: If Today Had a Face & a Freebie!

Hi Friends... Happy Friday!!
    Nothing says how I feel about Friday better than these two pictures...
 Truth. Happens every. single. time.
This was me on the way out the door today. Woo hoo & TGIF!!

So, yeah, you could say I'm pretty excited about Friday.  This week has been a crazy one, but I absolutely LOVE linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for her Five for Friday linky.  

It's so much fun to see what everyone has been up to. goes! 
 I got to school Monday morning to see this....
One of my bookshelves decided to give way over the weekend, and all of the books fell to the floor. I think that's a sign that I need to go through my thousands of books and clean out. I spent 2 hours on the floor just going through these! Time to talk sweet ole' Dad into fixing this :)

Speaking of sweet ole' Dad....
Veterans Day was Tuesday, and I just love this picture of my pop. He was so young...and handsome, if I do say so  myself :)  I come from a long line of veterans - grandfather, uncles, dad, brother - just about every single male in my family has served in the military, so Veterans Day is something very near and dear to my heart.  I honestly think we should be thanking our vets EVERY SINGLE day. My hats off to all those who served, are serving, or will serve to protect our freedoms.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Our math focus this week has been on fact families, and we have been LOVIN' IT!
Our local McDonalds donated these fry containers so we could really show off what we know about fact families.  I got this idea from Pinterest, but I couldn't find the original source. If you are that person, or know that person, please let me know so I can give credit where it's due.

The kids really did LOVE it & we finished up with some cut and paste action.
A friend of mine used the little bitty containers that come in Happy Meals, which I think is a great idea! I differentiated the families each student received, and then used this as an assessment. If you'd like a copy of the cut & paste for FREE, just click the picture.

As I mentioned, this week has been a crazy one. Truth be told, this YEAR has been crazy.
I keep reading about all these other teachers talking about how they are just drowning in all the "to do's" this year.  It breaks my heart to hear, but it also makes me feel better to know I'm in good company.

This week,I had to sit down and prioritize...make myself a daily reminder of what I REALLY needed to focus my energy on.
One of my favorite quotes is , "Have you prayed about it as much as you've talked about it?"  So, I am making a vow to pray more and worry less....and take better care of ME! 
None of us can be the best in the classroom if we don't do this first. :)

 Lastly, I gotta talk about this weather thing.  I wore cropped pants to work on Monday...dressing for the weather and not the season, you know.
Today, I was bundled up like the kid in a Christmas story. 
Now, I LOVE winter... the cold weather, the boots, the sweaters, but WOW, it showed up with a vengeance this year,and FAST!

So, that's it for me. I'm off to grab me some Starbucks, and do a little winter shopping. Nothing like a change in the weather to make me want new clothes, and hate every single thing in my closet.

I hope you all had a WONDERFUL week! Only one more, and we get a BREAK. 
WoO HoO!

As always, thanks for stopping by :)

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Sunday, November 9, 2014

Journal Writing for Critical Thinking & a FREEBIE!

Hi Friends!
   If your school is anything like mine, the words "differentiation" and "critical thinking skills" are floating around the hallways and lounge like gnats in the summer.  Not to mention the talk of extended response opportunities in writing and content areas.....they're everywhere I turn!
   In my quest for ways to "up my game" with my firsties, I came across some excellent articles and research on using more WHY questions in journal prompts and activities.  There are some great suggestions for implementing this in the classroom, but the one I loved the most was the use of "Would You Rather?" questions. 

   You know.... would you rather be able to fly or be invisible? Kids LOVE these type of questions ( and I think most of us do, too!), but the real THINKING comes in when they have to explain WHY... they have to put into words WHY they made a certain choice.

  To start this in my class, I put up a journal prompt on the Promethean Board.
We have to differentiate our morning work, so my kids are divided into 4 colored groups. The dots under the journal prompt represent how many sentences are required of each group.

  I gave a mini-lesson sentence writing before we started. We discussed the importance of really explaining our thinking and providing details in our writing. 

  Friends, I was AMAZED at how well my kiddos did... Amazed!  Here is an example from one of my friends. This picture is from a journal writing before we started these prompts:
And, this is his journal entry using the "Would You Rather?" prompt:
Wow!  I love that he wants to be a boy mermaid, and talks about volcanoes on the ocean floor! 
So many details. :)

Here are some other writing samples using this approach...
 This sweet girl is one of my lowest babies, and I couldn't believe how much she wrote. She was so proud of herself, too. 

Yeah, we still have some work to do.  Especially on NOT starting all of our sentences with the word "and". 
This one wants to be a mermaid boy, too! 

This prompt was "Would you rather eat 1000 marshmallows or one bug?"  I love how this friend said "...because I'm not a bug eater!"  

Apparently, this firstie thinks living on the moon would be fadelis (fabulous) and cool!

I am just loving all the details I am seeing in my kids' writing. 
They are REALLY thinking and providing evidence for their thoughts.

The "Would You Rather?" idea is certainly not mine. There are ideas and prompts all over the place!!

I just took the idea and ran with it.  I created a set of prompts for the month of November, so that I can post one every morning when the kids come in the room.

This set includes the differentiated prompts I use in my classroom, as well as the same ones without the differentiation piece.

There are also printable pages if you would like to make a monthly journal for students.

If you already have journals you use in the classroom, I've also provided cut-apart prompts for each day.

Check out the FREEBIE of these pages by clicking {HERE}.

The full product can be found {HERE}or by clicking on any of the above pictures.

I hope you can use some of these prompts in your own classroom! I've already got my mind running on more prompts for December.  

Of course, my mind is full of lots of teacher questions, like "Would You Rather.... have 40 students in your classroom with wonderful parents or only teach 10 children but have difficult parents?"  or....

"Would You Rather teach 12 hours a day with NO meetings ever, or teach 6 hours a day and have a meeting twice a day?" Hmmm... What do YOU think? :)

Have a great week & thanks for stopping by!!!

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