Thursday, June 30

Giveaways Galore

Summer is the time for giveaways!  Here are five awesome blogs to check out for your chance to win!

I met Kelli, from Castles and Crayons, just a couple of days ago at a district professional development.  After discussing our love for teacher blogs we found out that we both had started a blog.  She is hosting a giveaway for a $15 Target giftcard. 
Jena, from 1st Grade with Miss Snowden, is giving away a personalized blog makeover to four lucky people.  Her blog is SO cute!  I really hope I win!
Leea, from Set this Circus Down, is hosting a new blog linky party.  What a great way to find new blogs.  She is also giving away a $25 gift card to Amazon.
Last, but not least, Erica's Elementary Excitement has a huge giveaway for a $50 Lakeshore gift card AND a $25 Target giftcard to one very lucky person!

Tammy, at Live, Love, Laugh is having a giveaway to celebrate 50 followers.  She is giving away 5 pieces of retired Lia Sophia jewelry.  Jump on over to her blog to enter.


Tuesday, June 28

Teacher Tipster

Laura, at Kinder Kraziness, blogged a couple of days ago about You Tube videos that Mr. Smith does.  It got me thinking about all the great ideas that Mr. Smith (Teacher Tipster) has.  Here are some of my favorites (click on the links to view his videos).

Magic Trash - I tried this one last year.  It works!!
Pizza Paper - Working on getting my free pizza box for this little trick.
Whisper Bell - I already have a bell...
Ways to Make Ten - Love this idea for a math workstation or center
Cocoa Trick - Anger management anyone??
Naming Tables- I already name my tables, but I like the idea of using uncommon names
Treasure Chest- I like the way he uses the treasure chest as a reward, a little different than most teachers I think 
Skip Counting by 2's- another great math game

He has many more great ideas; these were just some of my favorites.

Friday, June 24

Giveaway Winner and a FREEBIE

Thanks for everyone who participated in my first giveaway.  Now, to announce the winner...

Here's a math FREEBIE for everyone.  To play, the children will arrange the flower cards in order, counting by 5's.  Then, they will record the counting sequence and answer a few questions about it.  I made the flowers go to 120 since the new Core Standards ask first graders to count to 120 (not 100).

I think the cards would be fun to use as a whole group activity first, before adding them to a math workstation.  You could pass out one card to each child and have them line up in order across the room. 
Click here to download. 

Monday, June 20

My First Giveaway!!

I started this blog three months ago.  At first I didn't even tell my closest friends that I was blogging.  I wanted to see how it would go before I officially announced my blog.  As soon as I had my first follower I was hooked!  The first couple of weeks I watched to see who was following.  With each follower I would run to my husband with excitement (he thought, and still thinks, I'm nuts but that's ok)! 

I love blogging!  Yes, it can be a little time consuming and addicting, but it's nice to share stories and resources with fellow teachers. 

So, on to the giveaway.  To celebrate 50 followers and my birthday today, I want to have a giveaway.  My cousins, DeAnna and Amy have started this cute Etsy company called Swirlee Burlee.  They create handpainted burlap door signs and hanging decorations.  The winner of this giveaway will be able to go to their Etsy store and pick out the design of their choice.  Below are a few of the designs they offer.  Check out their Etsy store for more designs.

There are 3 ways to win:
1. Become a follwer or comment and say you already follow
2. Blog about this giveaway and leave a comment for me
3. Wish me a happy birthday and leave a comment

The giveaway ends on Thursday at midnight.  Good luck!

Wednesday, June 15

Mousy Math- The Differentiated Version

Update on June 16:
I've revised the version I originally put on the blog.  I had a request to mix up the mice so that all the evens weren't boys and odds weren't girls.  I thought it was a great idea for a higher math group.  Debbie Diller would be proud!  If you have already downloaded Mousy Math, you might want to go back and get the newest version here.

Original blog post on June 15:
I found some adorable mouse clipart from Scrappin Doodles and had to figure out a way to use it.  Here's what I came up with.  It's a math center to practice with odd/even numbers at the beginning of the year.  Before I put it in a center, I'm planning to use the mice to visually show the odd-even pattern by lining up all the mice in number order.    

You could also have your kids put the boy mice in order, to practice counting by 2's.
To make the center, you'll need to print on cardstock and laminate.  Cut apart the mice and the cheese.  I've included a recording sheet. 

3 More Chances to Win

This must be the week for blog giveaways.  I don't know about you, but I love the chance to win FREE stuff.  Here's three more chances to win.

#1 Tanya, at First Grade is Fantabulous, is celebrating 200 followers.  Check out her blog for your chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card.

#2 Mrs. Lemons, at Step Into Second Grade, is hosting her first blog giveaway to celebrate 100 followers.  She is giving away a super cute, customized t-shirt.  Head on over to her blog to enter.

#3. The Moffatt Girls is also having a giveaway to celebrate 300 followers.  This time you could win an Amazon or Target gift card.  Make sure you visit her blog for a chance to win.

Two Awesome Giveaways

#1  Kathy, at First Grade a la Carte is celebrating 400 followers with a Christmas in June giveaway.  She has created some really cute Christmas games to give away.  Head on over to her blog to check it out.

#2  The girls from Kinderglynn, Mrs. Freshwater's Class, One Extra DegreeThe First Grade ParadeCrazy for First GradeErica Bohrer's First Grade, and Fabulous in First have teamed up.  They are offering seven free units to one lucky blogger.  Go to Kinderglynn's blog for your chance to win.

Sunday, June 12

Spin a Word

I've been working to create some Word Work activities that can be used for each short vowel as it is taught (for a little consistancy during Daily 5).  Here's a little activity I call "Spin a Word."  The kids will use a paper clip and pencil to spin the beginning sound and ending sound.  The middle sound will depend on which vowel I'm teaching. 

I made a couple of different versions.  The first one is generic.  After laminating the spinner sheet, you can write in your own vowel sound.  I also made some with the vowel already on the page.  I tried to pick beginning/ending sounds that were a little more specific to actual word families. 

Click here to download for FREE.

Wednesday, June 8

Daily Schedule

I always love looking at other teachers' schedules to see how everyone spends their day.  Often I find ideas I like and have to modify my schedule.  I feel like my schedule is always evolving.
Join the linky party at Growing Kinders to share your schedule-- Here's mine in first grade (after the first 3-4 weeks of school):

7:45-8:05- Unpack, morning work
8:05-8:25- Calendar/math review
8:25-8:35- Math notebook (one each day- graphing, number talk, problem solving, estimation)
8:35-8:50- Whole Group Math Lesson
8:50-9:25- Math Tubs (2 per day)
9:25-9:35- Snack and Share
9:35-10:00- Phonemic Awareness/ Phonics/ Scientific Spelling
10:00-10:20- Daily 4- Read to Self (everyone does this at same time)/ Tier 3 Intervention
10:20-10:45- Read Aloud/ Comprehension
10:45- 11:15- PE
11:20-11:45- Lunch
11:45-12:10- Recess
12:10-12:20- Restroom/water break
12:20-12:40- Daily 4- Choice 2
12:40-1:00- Daily 4- Choice 3
1:00-1:15- Writing/Grammar Lesson
1:15-1:30- Daily 4- Choice 4- Writing (everyone does this together)
1:30-2:10- Specials
2:10-2:20- Finish Writing
2:25- Pack-up/ Early Dismissal
2:35- Late Dismissal

On Fridays, most of my academic time focuses on the science or social studies unit. These days still include reading, writing, and math lessons, but they are centered around a specific theme. This allows me the time for hands-on learning.
Each Friday we also celebrate the Student of the Week and read with our 3rd grade Book Buddies for 30 minutes.

Tuesday, June 7

Is It A Pattern

Here's a little pattern activity to incoorporate into your math time next year.  Click here to download for FREE.  Please leave a comment or become a follower if you like it.

I'm having trouble figuring out how to get rid of the black box around all of my images.  If you know how, I'd love your help!

Sunday, June 5

Another Great Giveaway

Mrs. Snowden is having a giveaway to celebrate 300 followers.  Go to her blog for a chance to win a $25 gift card to either Target, Wal-Mart, or Staples.  Nothing better than some free money!

Barnes & Noble Giveaway

Head on over to Third Grade Meanderings to enter to win her giveaway of a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble and a cute new book.  Giveaway ends on Wednesday.  I sure hope I win!

Desks vs Tables

Desks vs Tables?  Join the Linky Party at Ladybug's Teacher Files.

When I first started teaching I really wanted tables.  I had a larger room than my current room, and they worked out fairly well.  Tables take up less space than desks and don't scoot around the room like desks do.  But, they also require more space somewhere else for storage.  You need little caddies for supplies in the middle of the table, plue space to store larger binders and books.  I used Seat Sacks to hold student supplies.  I hated them.  After awhile they rip and the kids' stuff is always just crammed inside.

Now I have moved to the smallest room possible to teach 20 children.  And, surprisingly even though the room is smaller I chose to go with desks.  I like the flexibility of moving children whenever I want to, without having to worry about moving their nametags.  I also like being able to re-arrange my room whenever I get a whim (although this is getting harder with more children each year).  I also think children like having their own supplies.  I use the little plastic tubs (they sell them in a 4-pack at Office Depot) to store their supplies.  Each child has their own and it fits perfectly inside one-half of their desk.  I keep the lids, so the tub is easily pulled out like a drawer.  The other half of their desk holds all their notebooks, journals, and folders.

If you look closely at these pictures, you'll see my room consists of desks, my table for small groups, one table for computers and some shelves.  In a perfect world it would be much bigger with tables for students to work in small groups and a nice big carpet for the library area-- but it's not a perfect world!

View from my table.  I'm noticing these pictures make my room look much
bigger than it feels.

View from the door.  These were taken in August.  As I started to
know my class better I split up the desks into 4 groups.

Saturday, June 4

New Button

Thank you Mrs. M for the cute blog button!!  I was lucky enough to see the free giveaway just in time last night.  I think it goes perfect with my blog!

Friday, June 3

Books, Books, and More Books

I have TONS of books in my classroom!  That's a great thing, but they need to be organized in order for children to find what they need.  I divided my books into two groups-- picture books and independent reading books.

My picture books currently span three bookshelves.  My sweet Dad made my bookshelves when I first found out I had a teaching job.  They even have wheels on the bottom :)  I bought my tubs from Dollar General the summer before I started teaching.  They are slowly starting to crack and need to be replaced.  I like to sort these books by theme because it's easier for me to find the book I'm looking for (I don't always know a specific title or author).  Each tub has a different dot label code.  I used the circle labels and rectangle labels for more combinations.  Many of these books also have a reading level sticker at the top (to help my kiddos make better book choices).  The Scholastic Book Wizzard is an a-ma-zing resource for levelizing books.  My kids' book bins are stored across the top of the shelf.  Here's a picture of my picture book library.  Sorry it's not the greatest picture.  It was taken at the beginning of last school year, with no intent of using it for a blog. 

Click here to download my picture book labels.  The last page was left blank so you can add your own themes.  I used CK Handprint if you want your font to match.

Another spot in the room is only for leveled books.  These are the books my kids pick from to fill up their book bins each week.  As they get better at book selection, they are allowed to also pick picture books to add to their independent reading boxes.  I love storing these books in the little crates, found at Dollar General.  They fit just perfectly in there.

Click here to download my leveled book labels (these are pretty plain and simple)

I also have the reading sets from our reading series, StoryTown.  I think we originally were given 6 copies of each book.  I never use all 6 books at once, so I took one book from each set and added it to the books on the shelf above.  The other 5 are stored together where children don't have access.

How do you organize your books?

Thursday, June 2

Hairy Number Patterns

I loved the Lettering Delights clipart used by Teacher Bits and Bobs to create a math activity called "Eat Drink and Be Hairy."  I decided to use the same pictures to create a number pattern activity.  I think creating and extending number patterns (counting by 1's, 2's, 5's, and 10's) are essential for building number sense.  Here's a little activity I've been working on.

If you download it, and like what you see, please leave me a comment.  Thanks!

Click on the picture to download

Wednesday, June 1

Math Work Stations - Chapters 1 and 2

I'm excited to be learning more about Debbie Diller's book, "Math Work Stations."  I read it a few months ago, but now I want to see how others are actually putting her ideas into action. 

I'll admit I'm more of a "center" gal than a "work station" gal.  I have always loved teaching with a theme.  My biggest fear with using work stations is the children will get bored with the same activities for several weeks at a time.  I can't wait to see how others are implementing Debbie's ideas.  I'm really hoping to learn a lot this summer-- thanks to all of you.

On a different note, this year I made a lot of changes to the way I do math, and I LOVE it!  I've devoted much more time in my day to student hands-on practice and my kids LOVED it!  My team decided to use our "assigned" curriculum, Everyday Math more as a tool than the Math Bible.  It's been more work for me to supplement (a whole bunch) but it really paid off. 

I'm linking up with with Mrs. Wills for Chapters 1 and 2.

Chapter 1: The Checklist
1. Materials used by the teacher first, then placed in the station: half of the time
2. Materials do not change weekly, but rather to reflect the students' learning objectives: No- my materials change each week. They are created to reflect their needs, and often they are the same activity with a new look.
3. All students go to stations daily: Yes!!
4. Materials are differentiated: No- I need more pointers on this one
5. The teacher observes work or meets with groups- Yes!!

Chapter 2: Organization
I wish I had some pictures to share, but my room is packed up for the summer.  I love to keep things organized.  Unfortunately, my room is very tiny, and it doesn't offer a lot of space for anything extra.

I use the white plastic three-drawer systems to store materials for each month.  Each drawer is labeled with a month.  I have 4 sets stacked together in a tall cabinet.

I use binders to store all of my teacher masters (for all subjects).  I put the originals in plastic sleeves and it makes things so easy to see.  Binders work SO MUCH BETTER than files in a filing cabinet.

I have one shelf for manipulatives.  I really had to purge and get down to what was really needed/used because of the lack of space. 

I use the Sterilite tubs (that hold 8.5 X 11" paper) for the materials that my kids are using each week.  They are labeled "Tub 1", "Tub 2", etc.