In the swing of things...and a freebie!

Wow- I don't know about all of you, but this second full week of school felt SO incredibly long! I felt like each day was like four days in one...but it still was a good here's five things that went on this week!

1. Part of the reason this week felt so long was because of all the testing I was doing...F&P, AIMS, etc. I was excited to see that a few of my little friends actually went up over the summer which is pretty rare, but awesome! One new little 1st grader was quite the little reader and he was cracking me up during his F&P testing.  One of the books has this sentence: "My brother is a neat freak." This little boy who was reading to me saw the word 'freak,' stopped reading and said, "That's a bad word. No for real, that's a bad word!" He was very adamant about it so I told him not to worry about it and just skip it...but really wanted to laugh out loud-- it was very cute!

2. After doing the F&P testing with a few little 1st graders who were reading below an A level, I wanted to get a better idea of what they knew about letter names and sounds, so I pulled a few of them one-on-one and did some practice with letters and a little writing practice. I used my Back to School Think, Draw, Write journals to see what connections they were making between letter names and sounds.  I created these Think, Draw, Write journals a few years ago and have continued to use this format because I find that it works really well with the little kindergartners and 1st graders as they develop themselves as writers. The format of first taking time to think about the question/prompt, then drawing a picture of their thoughts and last writing words/phrases/sentences to describe their answer really gives them time to think about their writing before diving right into it! 

I usually lead a discussion about the question first (sometimes with a read aloud) and model how I would answer the question and then have my little friends go and work on their own journal. If I have little friends who take too long on the drawing part, I'll just let them draw for a few minutes and then encourage them to stop where they are in their picture and start writing so that the writing is actually happening too!

Check out this post for more information on these Think, Draw, Write packs and how I incorporate technology and a read aloud into our Think, Draw, Write journal time.  You can check out this Back to School version here!

I also have this pack bundled together for the entire year. My Back to School, Fall, Winter, Spring and End of the Year Prompts are all in one place in this bundle.  There are 20 prompts for each season so this should keep you busy throughout each season with a journal to complete a few times a week. I also include a writing extension page that can be used once a week or however often you want so your little friends can extend their writing from one of the prompts. You can check out the entire bundle here!

3. I also used this other writing activity with a few students so they could show me their writing.  My little friends made a list of all the things that they do at school and then added a picture to go with their list.  It's hard to read what she wrote because the pencil shows up so lightly, but basically so far this little girl is really loving all the coloring, pictures and playing outside time.  My favorite is #3 though- sounding out letters! We'll be doing a whole lot with letters in the next few weeks, so hopefully she likes it. :)  It also cracks me up that she drew a slide in her picture seeing how we have no real playground equipment- aka, no slides, no swings, etc. This page is a really nice and simple activity to get your little friends writing and to get an idea of what they think the classroom is all about! You can grab this freebie here to use with your little friends!

4. One of my favorite beginning of the year activities is to read a book that is related to school (really any book that talks about a school day works) and then I give my little friends a few minutes to walk around and explore our classroom.  Each little friend knows they need to come back to the group with an idea of something they are excited to use this year-- I also emphasize not to touch that special thing yet as we want to learn what we will be using it for first.  (This stems from my own paranoia of them messing things up right away in the beginning!) We then make a list together on the board of all the things they are excited to use and I explain how and when we'll start using those items. This is just a nice way to get students comfortable with the set up of your classroom and gives them an understanding of what they'll be doing in there!  Mr. Frog tends to be a repeat answer...check out more about how I use this guy here!

We heart Mr. Frog!
5. I am super excited for this long weekend! The weather this week has been crazy hot in Chicago- like middle of July ridiculously humid hot. The little friends have been coming in from recess so very sweaty and just a tad smelly...I'm so very thankful we have air conditioning in our room and school-- truly makes a world of a difference.  So this weekend is still supposed to be warm like summer (but not quite as hot as earlier in the week) and I'm very much looking forward to spending some time outdoors!

Thanks to TBA and Doodlebugs Teaching for hosting these two great linkies!

Freebie Fridays

Have a great weekend!


Five for Friday (or Saturday) and a Freebie!

It is hard to believe that it is Friday Saturday! This was our first week back and I have 28 first graders in my room!  At the beginning of the year I am always amazed with how long our line feels but I know I will get used to it.  When I picked my kiddos up from music this week our music teacher said, "28 is really a lot of first graders in one room..." Yes, I am well aware! :)

It is hard to figure out exactly where to begin with such a crazy week!  So, let's start with..

Day 1: Jitter Juice
We read, "First Day Jitters" by Julie Danneberg.  This is a favorite book of mine as it seems to put my "first day jitters" to rest as I can tell the students the truth...that just like the character Sarah, in the book, I too was nervous to come to school (and that I couldn't sleep the night before!)  So, we drank "Jitter Juice" and made our very first class book! I first read about Jitter Juice from Abby at The Inspired Apple I simply tweaked the recipe to be Green Hawaiian Punch and Sprinkles.  It was simple and the kids thought it was delicious and loved that it made the "butterflies in their tummies go away!"  

Day 2: Chicka Chicka Sticka Sticka!

We read a familiar book, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. The students love reading along to this story.  After we read our book, students got a special bag with letters in them.  They all wanted to know if they got their own alphabet.  I told them it wasn't the alphabet but that these letters were special and students would know why these letters were special when they opened their bag.  

Once students opened their bag they discovered that they each had their very own name!  They quickly stuck the letters up and down their coconut tree and colored the rest of the page.

Later in the afternoon we went on an alphabet hunt to find a hidden mystery letter!  My first graders walked in after lunch to letters everywhere-on the walls, on file cabinets, on doors of cabinets..everywhere!  I told my firities that there was one letter that missing from our alphabet and it was their job to figure out which letter was missing!  We talked about what it meant to be detectives and off we went on our mission.  

Students soon discovered our mystery (or missing) letter!  It was a fun activity that had students engaged while they were matching uppercase and lowercase letters in the alphabet.  Students also had the opportunity to get up and moving around our classroom which I know they appreciated and enjoyed.  

Day 3: Beginning Sounds Name Plates

One of my teammates introduced me to this activity and it is definitely a favorite because it is super simple, the kids really enjoy it, and it gets students practicing their letter sounds!  All you need for this activity is the long construction paper.  After folding it in half, length-wise, I wrote the student's name on it in big letters (doing my best to space out the letters.)  Students get this folder construction paper and are instructed to cut in between each of the letters.  Students then lift up each flap and draw something that begins with that specific letter.  

The example below is made by Sergio.  He first cut in between each of the letters to create the flaps.  

Then, he drew a picture to represent each of the letters in his name.  "S" shooting star, "E" egg, "R" rabbit "G" jack-o-lantern (oops! pretty close though to a "g" sound!) "I" ice cube, and "O" octopus.  I always love when students are so excited about what they are working on that they ask "Can we take this home today?"  Well, this is definitely one of the projects students are excited to take home and show their parents.  

Day 4: Introduction to Addition
This week we began discussing addition.  I was very impressed to see that several of my first graders had a pretty good concept of adding.  We read the books, The Mission of Addition by Brian P. Cleary and Domino Addition by Lynette Long. We had students stand up as we practiced adding different numbers of girls and boys to create addition sentences.  Then, we  did a few virtual dominos together on the SMARTBoard and finally made our own dominos using gram crackers and chocolate chips.  

We rolled a virtual di on the SMARTBoard and each student put that number of chocolate chips on one side of his/her domino (the gram cracker.)  Then we rolled it one more time to see how many chocolate chips were needed for the other side.  After our domino was full-students drew the dots on their domino paper and raised their hand to tell me the addition sentence.  This was definitely an activity that I was grateful to have a SMARTBoard for because some of my students needed to be able to follow along and see it up there.  Students loved this activity and since I told them they couldn't eat it until we were all done with our domino addition worksheet students were eager to finish!  

This domino addition page is a freebie that you can get by clicking here.  

 Day 5: P.B.I.S. and a freebie
Much of the first week is spent modeling and discussing appropriate behaviors/expectations.  Just a few expectations that we modeled/wrote an anchor chart for/modeled some more/discussed this week: lining up, carpet, working at your tables, centers, bathroom and hallway....and the list goes on and on!  Although it might seem like a lot the students need to hear and see the expectations for each of these so that they have that reminder and know how they should be acting.  It really does help for the rest of the year to run a lot smoother.  So, we modeled a lot! 

On Friday, our entire school does a P.B.I.S. Kickoff!  For those who are not familiar with P.B.I.S. it stands for Positive Behavior In School and the 4 rules we cover are: be safe, be caring, be respectful, be responsible.  Our kickoff takes us around the school to four stations: the playground, the hallway, the bathroom, and in our own classrooms to discuss technology.  We discuss and model appropriate behaviors for each of these places.    After we finished we came back to the classroom and students were asked to think about ways they could follow our school rules each and everyday.  Then, students filled out this handout.  

To grab this freebie click here or on the picture below!

To get all of these activities (and more) click here!

One of Aylin and my good friends just entered the blogging world (we are so excited for her!)  Her blog is Deteremined2Tri.  It is a blog about all of her experiences as she trains for all of her races.  In a few short weeks, Lauren will be running her 8th Iron Man!  She is an amazing individual who is also incredibly inspiring (she ran my first marathon with me!) So if you are a runner or simply looking for a little motivation to start hop on over to Lauren's Blog!  

A special thanks to Doodle Bugs Teaching and Teaching Blog Addict for hosting such fabulous linkies each Friday that I genuinely look forward to!

Happy Saturday!


Take Home Book Bags with a freebie!

Well, it's our first full week of school and I'm feeling really great about this school year! At the end of last week, we had lots of boxes delivered to our room and they were full of the Fountas & Pinnell Leveled Literacy Intervention Green System (Levels A-J).  It's a set of 110 leveled readers with lessons, a writing book and take home books. This is only some of what comes with this huge, amazing kit!

Yesterday I posted a pic on Instagram of this kit and got lots of great comments from other teachers saying how much they love this intervention system which made me even more excited to use it! I'll be using these materials in combination with my own materials which I know will help my little friends become successful readers and writers.

I'm linking up with the amazing Holly over at Fourth Grade Flipper for her Tried it Tuesday linky with one particular part of this pack- the Take Home Book Bags.  I am so pumped for these take home book bags (and the books) so that my little friends will be able to practice reading at home too which lots of them do not have many books at home, so this is a hugely necessary component.

The Take Home Books are in B&W but the readers for the classroom are in color. 
I'm so excited to try out these take home book bags this year that match the books we will be reading in our guided reading groups.  This extra practice will hopefully help my little friends progress a little quicker and help them love reading even more since they'll have books to read at home that are at their level! I love the sturdy little bags that are provided to take the books home, but I wanted to add some fun labels to the bags and to the spot where students will be grabbing their new book of the day/week, so I created these fun chevron number tags.  I went with numbers for these labels (instead of numbers) because my groups change often enough and this way I can easily just have my new little friends get their bags with a new number.  This way the bags will be all set no matter if my little friends switch out of my group.

I'm going to try having students bring back their book bag each day.  They will then take out their book from the night before and grab their new book from the little red case next to their number (and then put it right in their book bag). They can then place their old book from the night before back in their number spot in the red case.  This will not only give my little friends new books to read regularly at home, but also they will be able to take ownership of their book and make sure to bring it back each day (hopefully!).  I'm hoping this plan will work- I'll be trying it out very soon. :)

I organized all the Take Home Books by lesson number so that I can easily grab them and set them in the right spot in the red stand before each group comes into the classroom. Everything is set up right next to each other which will hopefully make this all go smoothly!

There are so many Take Home Books, these little containers are all full now!  I took this pic before I finished organizing them all. :)
All ready to send the books home! 

I know I never do any number/math freebies or products since I'm all about reading (and since Amanda rocks those math ideas), but I made these numbers go up to 30 so you can use them in your classrooms as well for whatever reason you can find (labels, counting cards, etc.)! You can download them here!

Thanks so much to Holly for hosting this great weekly linky! Hope everyone's school year is off to a great start as well. :)

Have a great day!


Motivational Monday and a "Pin it to Win it" Winner!

Ok let's start out with the winner of my "Pin it to Win it" contest....I have to say I am so appreciative of each person who entered, pinned and left such sweet comments and I would've truly loved to just give it to all of you, but I just picked the one winner, who is...#7-- Whitney!

Whitney, please check your email for my Back to School Literacy Bundle Pack! If you didn't win this time, you can still grab this pack for 28% off it's usual price for the rest of the night (click here or the pic below to check out the pack again).  I'll also be doing another "pin it to win it" soon, so please keep an eye out. :)

Now, on to a new linky I'm joining for today. Two of my favorite blogging buddies, Sarah and Tamra, over at First Grade Buddies are hosting a new linky called, Motivate Me Monday! If you haven't checked out their blog yet, you must because they just have the very best ideas for a 1st grade classroom and amazing freebies (and TPT products, for that matter).

Today I'm choosing a picture that I actually took this summer on vacation.  It was part of an ad for something that was being built, but I loved the colors and I loved the message.  Sometimes we get in the way of good things happening to us because we are too stressed or worried about life.  I feel like this is a quote that i'll keep in mind to help stay motivated and relaxed throughout the year, especially now at the beginning of the school year when all the craziness begins.  Amazing things can definitely happen (in and out of the classroom) if we just let them! Hope this got you a little motivated for rest of the week.

Have a great day!


The TPT Sale: Best & Most Linky!

We are so excited to link up with Christina over at Bunting, Books, and Bainbridge for this fun yearbook themed linky of the 'Best & Most' TPT products for the big sale this Sunday 8/19 and Monday 8/20!

Teacher's Pet: 

Every teacher needs this Building Vocabulary Pack to help build students' knowledge of vocabulary out of context and within text.  Common Core places a large emphasis on getting students to really interact with and understand the text they are reading. Part of this includes a large section of standards on Vocabulary Acquisition and Usage. This pack includes literacy centers and graphics organizers which will help your kindergartners and 1st graders develop their skills in understanding new vocabulary and help them develop important skills as readers.  All the activities in this pack align to all the Common Core Standards under the Vocabulary Acquisition and Use for kindergarten and 1st grade. To see this pack in action and to get a Vocabulary freebie, click here!

Most Likely to Help Your Students Succeed: 

The Word Families Bundle Pack will help your students successfully identify, read and write words in the same word family.  This pack includes mini posters to introduce each word family, a word family journal and literacy centers. All these activities will help develop students' ability to read and write words in the same word family.  They will start recognizing the patterns in words with the same word family and as a result hopefully begin reading and writing words more fluently that follow similar patterns.  This pack is perfect for kindergartners and 1st graders and aligns to the Common Core Standards. To get a closer look at this pack and to get a Word Families freebie, click here!

Best Couple:

This "Ten Frame Pack" and "Find Someone Who Mega Pack" truly compliment one another as you work through your common core mathematics curriculum this year!  Number sense is so important to building a strong mathematics foundation.  Teaching ten frames is a perfect way to start building that foundation.  Students begin to see numbers in many ways as they draw and explore with ten frames. This Ten Frame Fun Game and Center Pack gives you the opportunity to explore ten frames with your students in several ways!  Students will enjoy each of the games as well as the activities as they gain a deeper understanding of numbers.  To read more about this pack (and to get a ten frame freebie) click here!  

Once students gain a foundation in math they are ready for the common core aligned "Find Someone Who.."  This activity pack offers many activities all aligned with the common core.  This activity pack is a fun way to get your kids up and moving and allows 100% of your class participating in math at the same time!  Each common core activity has an easy "I can" statement for first graders (and to help teachers stay organized!)  

Here's how "Find Someone Who" Works...

To read more about "Find Someone Who" activities in my classroom and to get a freebie click here!

Thanks so much again to Christina for hosting such a fun linky for the big sale! These items above and our entire stores will be on sale this Sunday and Monday! Head on over to Bunting, Books, and Bainbridge to check out other "pages in this yearbook!"

Thanks to Krista Wallden for the fun button!


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