Highs/Lows, Facts/Opinions, and a Freebie!

I am so glad that the snow finally seems to be behind us (my fingers are crossed and hopefully I am not "jinxing" anything!) Since I am not a big fan of snow (hard to believe since I live in Chicago) it is easier to blog about a "snowball fight" thinking that the snow is done for the year!  

A few weeks ago we had a Snowball Fight inside our classroom!   This is a great activity that can help students to practice math facts, story problems, sight words, word family words, anything really...but we used this snowball fight to practice facts and opinions.  

Warning: this activity does take a certain level of patience because the kids get VERY excited!  Therefore, I purposefully planned this activity on for a Friday afternoon and we did it right before I dropped them off at gym. :)  My kiddos couldn't believe it when I said we were going to have a snowball fight inside our classroom.  

We had been practicing facts and opinions all week (and are still practicing them as this is a difficult concept for my firsties!)  We talked about what a fact and opinion meant in our own words. I wrote it big on butcher paper.  


 Then,  students each got a scratch piece of paper and had 2 minute to write a fact or opinion of their choice on the paper.  When two minutes was over they came back to the carpet with their papers. 

One student's example of an opinion.  

One student's example of a fact.  

This is where the fun officially began.  Students got to crumple their papers into a ball.  When I told them this they looked at me like I was crazy!  

Next, I gave students the rules
1.  You have to stay on your pockets.  
2. You can only grab/throw one paper at a time. 
3.  When the timer goes off you must stop or you are out!

We started throwing!  I set the timer for 1 minute (trust me that was plenty of time for both my class and for me!) 

Snowball fight!  This was the best action shot I got (I tried to take serval but not very many turned out.  If you could see all of their little faces you would see big smiles on each and every one of them!

When the timer went off students all opened their papers and read them.  We took turns.  Each student read their statement aloud to the class and decided if it was a fact or an opinion.  Then, students got a piece of tape and put it on our poster in its correct spot. 

The papers were crumpled but the facts and opinions were not lost!  Students refer back to it often and are able to look at this chart to help them remember facts from opinions.  

Throughout the week we practiced facts and opinions with games, SMART Notebook Files and more! Here is one of the websites my students used (and are still using) to practice facts and opinions.  After answering a few questions correctly students are then able to watch a short Arthur Clip (which is motivation for getting answers correct!)  

Although my students continue to need more practice with this difficult skill (especially what a fact is..) they are certainly understanding what an opinion is and are having fun stating when things are opinions.  The other day when I announced what the lunch choices were one students yelled out "EWWW gross!!"  Another one of my little girls very politely raised her hand and said " That is just an opinion Arely; not a fact."  This made me laugh out loud-she was absolutely right it was an opinion! 

Although a little bit early.... a Friday (or Friday eve!)  just wouldn't feel complete without a freebie so here you go!  Please enjoy this Fact and Opinion freebie by clicking here.  

Today, I am excited to be linking up with Katie from Teacher to the Core!  I am linking up  for March's 


The high of my month was easily spring break.  I have been able to accomplish almost all of my Spring Break Bucket List which included things like: reading, relaxing, lunch dates, working out ect.  I know... nothing too difficult but I will say it has been wonderful!  This is the first year in quite some time the hubby and I did not travel and although I would have loved going somewhere my "staycation" has been thoroughly enjoyed!  

The hubby and I got to spend extra time together doing the things together we love best-cooking, relaxing, watching movies, and simply spending time with our families!  Over break I also got extra time with my mom which I am always grateful for.   

With the start of each new season, my mom and I always make a "seasonal bucket list." It is not our "big time" bucket list (to tell you the truth that kind of overwhelms me!) -it is just 3 or 4 silly/easy things we can do when we have extra time throughout the week/weekends for that specific season...with spring break we got to cross out one of our items!   "Free Pie Wednesday" at Baker's Square!

I am a sucker for sweets and French Silk Pie from Baker's Square has always been a favorite of mine.   We often drive by this sign on the window that says "Free Pie Wednesday" but during the week things are always crazy and I don't often get to see my mom as much as I would like.  This Wednesday I was up close to my mom's house for a haircut and when I finished we decided to go out for "Free Pie Wednesday!"  It was crazy busy but so worth it!  My French Silk was delicious as always and getting extra time with my mom is one of my favorite things in the world!  


The low of March for me has been this grey Chicago weather.  It is March..it is officially spring and no one would know it with this cold, grey weather.  I am ready to see green grass (not muddy brown snow,) I am ready to run outside (not inside on a treadmill,)  and I am ready to wear sunglasses because it is bright outside (not gloomy grey with clouds that make you think it is the evening all day long.)  I am ready for spring-and although it is technically here, it certainly doesn't feel like it-so spring please get here quickly! 

Enjoy your Thursday!

Time to Get Acquainted!

I've been seeing these fun posts all over the many blogs I love reading each week, so I decided it's time for me to link up as well! This is an especially nice post to do while I'm relaxing on Spring Break...next week I'll be back in school mode and have more "school stuff" to share. :) I love learning about all the other bloggers out there and hope you enjoy learning a little more about me too!

This week the linky is The Noun Game where you have to name your favorite, person, place, thing and animal, so here we go...


My hubbie is my most favorite person in the world. I absolutely love spending time with him and feel so lucky to have married a teacher who has a very similar daily schedule so we have lots of opportunities to be together! We met our junior year of college after he wooed me with ice cream and we've been together every since. He supports me in everything I do and even listens to all my chatter about blogging and TPT which I just can't seem to stop talking about...:)


I love spending time on the beach...any beach is pretty much my all time favorite place, but seeing how I live in a suburb of Chicago, I don't end up on a beach as often as I'd like....so my more realistic daily favorite place is my home! My home is full of pictures, color and things I love so it makes me very happy to walk into it every afternoon after school. 


I think my favorite thing might be my Evernote account- I have so many to do lists (which I LOVE to check off), fun ideas, vacation plans etc in there that I just can't get enough of it! (In case you have never heard of it, I totally recommend checking it out...someday soon I will do a post about how I use it in my classroom too!) It's basically like a little memory box that you can access anywhere (as long as you have your phone, computer, Kindle, etc with you...which I always seem to have around!)


Hippos have to be my favorite animal.  I just find them so cute-- now if I was out in the wild somewhere and ran into one I'd probably be pretty freaked out, but otherwise I just love them.  My adorable little niece also started saying the word hippo this week which makes them even cuter!

Well that's it...I'm off to go check out other responses to the linky!

Have a great day!


Here comes Spring Break...and a freebie!

I cannot tell you how excited I am to write this post--writing this post means it is Friday and not just any Friday, but at 3 pm today we'll officially be on Spring Break and that makes me super happy!!! I love love love my students, but I am so ready ready ready for a week off. We even have an extra day added to our break with Easter and I have to say the fact that we get another Monday off to end our break is quite nice! So since Easter is right around the corner, my freebie for today is a fun literacy center with some cute little bunnies...

Common Core Alignment:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.3a Demonstrate basic knowledge of one-to-one letter-sound correspondences by producing the primary sound or many of the most frequent sounds for each consonant.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.1.3b Decode regularly spelled one-syllable words.

My little friends did this center this week since we're off next week and they did a super job reading the words- I was very happy to see that no one needed too much of my help-- woohoo!

I also had my little friends fill out the recording sheet on their iPads to show their learning. (It's hard to see, but they are reading the word on the left and then drawing a line to the picture on the right that matches.) 

As you already know, I am WAY obsessed with all things CVC/CVCe words, so of course we also did other cute-bunny themed CVC/CVCe centers this week! I use CVC sorts so regularly in my classroom because I want my students to be expert word decoders so that when they read stories on their own they aren't always looking to me for help, but rather applying their expert word decoding skills to the words they see in the text just like they do with our word sorts.  The more we practice these words on their own, the better my little friends get at reading similar words in stories, which makes me very happy!   

In the first sort, they chose a word from the bucket, read it and then sorted it based on the short vowel sound.  They then completed the recording sheet on the iPad showing their knowledge of the vowel sounds.  My little friends also completed another sort where they chose a word from the bucket and sorted it based on the word family.  At the end we read all the words from each word family by just changing the first sound-- I'm attempting to get my kindergartners to gain some fluency with these words out of context by helping them realize that they all sound the same at the end. One student cracked me up with his observation after we read all the 'an' word family words... he said "oh they all have 'a' in it" but failed to realize that all the 'a' words also have 'n' at the end-- but hey, i'm happy with any connection one of my little friends notices! 

I also extend my CVC Word Sort activities by having each child choose a word and then use it in a sentence-- they will either do this verbally or in writing based on how much time we have left.  They also add a fun little illustration to match the sentence they created. 

I drink juice from a cup.
I went for a jog.

My 1st graders also did a similar sort but with CVCe words.  Remember like a month ago when I said how much my little friends were struggling with long vowel silent e words? Well, slowly but surely I think all of them are going to come around and really 'get it' soon.  I still have a few who are MAJORLY struggling with remembering what that silly silent e does...ask Amanda, she's probably sick of hearing me talk about it :) but otherwise most of my other little friends are remembering on their own and applying it to their reading in context-which is AMAZING! So, of course we did a little practice with it this week (and will continue to for the rest of the year!) with this CVCe sort.

You can grab your Easter CVC and CVCe Read and Match freebie here and check out my Easter CVC/CVCe Word Sorts Pack in my TPT store. Oh and if you are planning way ahead I also have an Earth Day CVC Word Sorts Pack-- now can you tell how obsessed I am even more so?? But come on, the graphics are just so cute and my little friends need the practice! (You can also check them out by clicking any of the pics below.)

Freebie Fridays

Have a great day!


Base 10 Block Websites and Task Cards!

CCSS.Math.Content.1.NBT.B.2 Understand that the two digits of a two-digit number represent amounts of tens and ones.
CCSS.Math.Content.1.NBT.B.2a 10 can be thought of as a bundle of ten ones — called a “ten." 
CCSS.Math.Content.1.NBT.B.2c The numbers 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 refer to one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, or nine tens (and 0 ones).

This past week we have been discussing place value and base 10 blocks.  It is a fun topic to hit on because students are so excited to really jump-in.  Students finally feel like they can do "big kid problems!"  I overhear my first graders saying things like "I know what 50+3 equals..do you??" and "Who can add 30+20?!?"  Understanding both of these questions tells me that students are really gaining a deeper understanding of number sense which is very gratifying for me because all year we have been working towards this goal.

Students have been using hands-on manipulatives to help them better understand place value.  Sometimes my higher students want to rush through problems and choose to stay away from manipulatives but my lower students really need the hands-on play.  When working with my guided math groups students were asking if they could "break" apart the tens into ones and I also found students counting each one of the blocks in their "ten" only to realize every time that it was 10...so they could actually just count by 10s as opposed to counting each cube in the "ten" each time.  These are very important experiences for younger students.

We follow Pearson EnVision for our math curriculum.
The SmartBoard is almost always a math center choice for students.  Each week I create a Smart Notebook File with several games that go along with the topics we are discussing.

Students choose from a variety of games that reinforce the skills we are working on in guided math.
Here are some of the place value games students are playing this week. Click on the pictures below to go to the different place value links!




Another center my first graders are doing this week are task cards.  They love walking around and being detectives so I couldn't help but to create some Base 10 Task Cards! The cards were posted all around the room and students went on a hunt answering the different questions using their recording sheets.  Students get so excited to be detectives and search for all of the numbers and cards around the room!   
Task cards are put up all around the room.  
Students walk around to find each of the task cards.  
Students count the number of tens and ones.

Students record their answers on their recording sheet by each of the numbers.

My first graders loved these Base 10 Block Task Cards!  They are a great fit in my room because they are fun for the kids and the recording sheets help me to better gauge student understanding of the counting base 10 blocks.  You can grab these task cards by clicking here

For more centers and activities, aligned to the common core, that work with base 10 blocks click here or the picture below!  

Happy Monday!

Freebie Friday: Number of the Day!

  • CCSS.Math.Content.1.NBT.A.1 Count to 120, starting at any number less than 120. In this range, read and write numerals and represent a number of objects with a written numeral.
We use our counting books on a regular basis to practice counting to 120.  We count by 1s, 2s, 5s and 10s starting at different numbers.  It is a quick activity that only takes 2 minutes at most but we try to do it each day before lunch.  As we orally count, students are expected to point to each of the numbers as they say them.  

In order to help my first graders gain a deeper understanding of numbers we have started picking a number each day and answer each of the bubbles about it.  Students use their number grids to locate a specific number and then we practicing hopping up (to subtract 10,) down (to add 10,) to the right (to add 1,) and to the left (to subtract 1.)    As of right now we are doing it whole group while my students follow along but I am hoping with a little more practice students will soon be able to do this independently.  

This is a new routine for us but it really seems to be helping as one of my first graders shouted out the other day "I know how to add 39+20-I just take 2 hops down instead of 1!"  She was so excited to be able to add "big" numbers and I am waiting for more students to have this "ah-ha" moment and realize they too can add "big" numbers! 

To get this freebie click here.  I bought the black picture frame from the $1 Tree and simply placed the "Today's Number" inside.  I use a dry erase marker each day to fill in our numbers and then wipe it off at the end of the school day.  

Happy Friday!

Teaching Reading with GoodNotes- using PDFs on the iPad!

I am newly loving this free app for the iPad called GoodNotes!* It acts as a bookshelf for your PDF files and allows you to download them right from your Dropbox account (there are other options also if you don't use Dropbox).  You can then take notes, mark up the document, etc right on your iPad.  This has been an amazing app for my little friends to use in literacy centers.  I use it for a variety of activities- for example: making words, matching words with pictures, reading Reading A-Z stories and highlighting specific words, etc. The options are pretty much endless!

*There is also a paid version so that there is no limit to your amount of files on your bookshelf, but the free one works out well for us because you can easily delete a PDF and add a new one after you've reached the 2 file limit...and we rarely need more than two files at once, so it's just fine!

I usually create something in Keynote (or PowerPoint) and then save it as a PDF in my Dropbox account and then add it into my GoodNotes app.  All you have to do is click the + sign in GoodNotes and then a new box pops up that says "copy from..." and Dropbox is one of the options.  You then find your file and click select- then it appears on your GoodNotes bookshelf! The students can then open the document and manipulate it by highlighting words, writing sentences, etc. 

Also, like I mentioned above I like to use GoodNotes during our Guided Reading groups with our Reading A-Z books.  Since Reading A-Z books can be saved as PDF's, GoodNotes is another spot where each child can read the book in GoodNotes and then highlight specific words (sight words, phonics patterns, digraphs, etc.) or identify parts of a story- the characters, setting, etc.  It helps get the students more involved in their reading when they can really study the text for specific information! 

Common Core Alignment:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.1 Demonstrate understanding of the organization and basic features of print.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.1.1a Recognize the distinguishing features of a sentence (e.g., first word, capitalization, ending punctuation).

I've been doing my "Read and Identify" activity on a weekly basis with my little kindergartners to help them really grasp the concept that each sentence needs to begin with a capital letter and end with a period. I made basic sentences that they can read with simple sight words and CVC words/words with blends/digraphs. They first read the sentence and then use the highlighter tool in GoodNotes to highlight the capital letter and period in each sentence.  On the last page, they then create their own sentences while making sure to include the features of a sentence! (I modeled this the first time we did it for my friends on our Apple TV!) :)

I love creating new activities for my little friends in Keynote/Powerpoint and it is SO very nice to be able to still do those same activities on the iPads just by simply exporting the documents as PDFs and opening them in GoodNotes.  It has really made our use of the iPads even more engaging which I love!

In the upper grades I imagine you could easily use this as a research tool where students are highlighting important information from text-- I even plan to use it with my little friends as an extension to our "identifying important details" activities where they will actually highlight the important ideas before writing those ideas in their graphic organizers! 

Have a great day!


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