Friday, November 29, 2013

Holiday Freebie

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  I am still in my pjs as I attempt to recover from eating TOO much.

In light of the winter holiday season, and my need to stay organized, I created a new editable binder cover

and matching binder spines.

Head over to my TPT store and grab this festive tool!

How do you stay organized this time of year?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Recipe and a Read Aloud - Thanksgiving Edition

It feels so great to have a day off!  In anticipation for tomorrow's feast, I am considering not making my traditional pumpkin pie but trying this incredible cake.

This Pumpkin Spice Crunch Cake looks insane!!!

On to the read aloud...
This has to be my favorite Thanksgiving book ever.  Not only do I love the rhyme, but I my kiddos' expressions when the Farmer comes back with water is priceless.

What is on your To Make and To Read list?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Math Monday - Fact Practice

A student's ability to recall their basic facts is still one of the most important skills they must master.  I love providing opportunities for students to practice this skill during math centers, as well as whole group.
I have been using Leigh's Just the {Basic} Facts during math centers.
My firsties love the fact families and doubles activities.

We recently brainstormed different ways to make the numbers 1-10 and then completed the adorable Number Craft.

This activity lent itself to perfect differentiation.  The anchor chart, created by the students, shows the variations in students' number sense.

Be sure to check out Leigh's pack, as well as what other teachers are up to through the Math Monday Linky!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Interactive Anchor Charts

Leigh from The Applicious Teacher recently posted about Interactive Anchor Charts.  Her post was not only informative, but inspiring.
I work very hard to make sure that my students know how to use and where their resources are located.  We constantly use anchor charts as a resource during writing, word work, and math.  Even though students provide ideas for the anchor charts, I am the one doing the writing.  Leigh's post got me thinking...why not give my kiddos ownership?
After some chatting with my student teacher, we decided to introduce an interactive anchor chart during the launch of our How To unit.  Students were introduced to Temporal Words and then used sticky notes to add more words to the categories.  

Students have continued to add to this anchor chart and are referring to it during their retells and writing.  I am so proud of their work and can't wait to continue using this exceptional tool!  

Do you use interactive anchor charts with your students?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Five for Friday

It has been a crazy week, but I can't get over the amount of learning that is taking place inside my classroom.  This week has been all about loving the little things.  I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching to show case my "little things" that are keeping me going.

1. I am in love with Paizlee!
 They have the best sweaters!

2. These are the most durable pencils!
PaperMate never ceases to amaze me!

3. I am obsessed with this necklace.  It is definitely at the top of my holiday wish list.

4. Winter spices are everywhere and this seasonal coffee is exploding with them.  Ok, I shouldn't say exploding, but this Gingerbread coffee has the perfect hint of Christmas-in-a-mug.

5. I love moose, there is no denying it.  My students and their families have even picked up on my love.  One of my kiddos brought me this "just because" gift that made my week.
The book is about a moose whose antlers are loose.  The moose tries everything to make them stay on, but they eventually fall off!  As the young moose wails and wails, a grown bull moose arrives to reassure the young moose that all is well, and new antlers will grow back.  Ahhh!!!  It is just too cute!!!

What are the "little things" that get you through the week?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Tried A Few New Apps

My students and I are beyond pumped that our DonorsChoose project has finally arrived.  I am incredibly grateful for Chevron's help in funding this project and placing superb technology into my students' hands.

In preparation for the use of these iPads, in my classroom, I have been testing out new apps like crazy.  Here are a few of my new favorites:

Apps Gone Free does not always feature kid appropriate apps, but it is worth having and checking out regularly.  I have scored some great productivity apps, interactive books, and more.

Math Museum is one app that I found through Apps Gone Free.  This is by far my new favorite fact fluency app.  Players make their way through the game collecting numbers and applying them to different facts.  The best part is that it can be differentiated for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division skills.

I recently had the opportunity to review Spellyfish's up-coming app, short /i/.  These apps are perfect for short vowel spelling practice.  Spellyfish isolates each sound making word formation practice ideal for beginning readers.

What apps are you using with your students?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


This past weekend, I had the privilege of learning with an amazing group of educators.  It was an intense weekend of learning, and I still feel like the face down kid, but it was an inspiring weekend.

A little school has entered its exploratory year of the PYP (original post).  For those of you not familiar with the Primary Years Programme, it is the beginning piece of the International Baccalaureate model.  This model is made up of a lot of what I am doing as a teacher, but with added components and terminology that seem frightening at first (hence the facedown student).
I am thankful for this learning!  Although it might seem overwhelming, it is what is right for my kiddos and me.  I make it a goal to learn one new thing everyday, and this weekend took my goal and laughed at it.  The amount of learning my brain soaked up was extreme, I left each day unsure on how to process it all, but I know with time and experimenting it will happen.

What are you thankful for?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Math Monday - More Pinterest Inspiration

In my quest for balance, I decided to take a mini-break from the blogging world.  I missed it like crazy and am ready to share some of the incredible teaching and learning that I have been a part of recently.  I am linking up with the incredible, Deirdre, from A Burst of First, for today's Math Monday.
Recently, I have taken a step away from our district adopted math curriculum to build the foundational skills that I know my students need.  I decided to search through my pin boards for number sense and fact fluency ideas, and BOY-OH-BOY did I find a ton of great ideas.

It was hard to determine just where to start, but after some organizing I decided to create a few sets of Power Towers (I am super bummed that I can't find the original source).  This activity was very simple to make and has been a hit.

I picked up an enormous back of Dixie Cups from Costco and got to work.  This set is made up of +1 and -1 facts.  I simply wrote the facts on the bottom of several cups.  To make them self-checking, I added the answer inside of each cup.  That is it, well at least on the prep end of things.
My kiddos now use them during math centers.  If they correctly answer a fact they can use the cup as a building piece to their tower.  If they answer the fact wrong they can ask a buddy for help or place the cup at the bottom of their stack and try again.  It is so incredible listening to them whisper their facts and get excited for how tall their towers are.  I can't wait to introduce the sight word Power Towers this week.

I would love to hear about a math activity you use to build fact fluency.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

What's Your Schedule?

It is amazing how much my schedule has changed from state to state, and grade to grade.  Last year, our district tried to implement an early start, but due to all of our other demands, it was turned down by the teachers' association.  We are still working with a 5 day, 8-4 schedule.  Here is what my day-to-day looks like.

I meet with my first reading group during morning work and the rest during literacy centers.  I am fortunate to have a duty-free lunch, but teachers share morning duties and after school bus supervision.  My Wednesday specials time is a hour long because the entire grade level is together for Rhythms (PE Music combo).  I also meet with my team once a week for planning.  

Is your schedule anything like mine?

I am linking up my schedule with Thank God It's First Grade.  It is amazing how different everyone's day-to-day is.  Check it out...

Monday, November 4, 2013

Math Monday - Connect4 Make10

This year, I began incorporating math centers into my daily math routine (previous post).  I have had so much success with them and it seems to have become my students' favorite part of the day.  I have been wanting to incorporate some different forms of fact practice and thought this idea would be the perfect fit:
Connect4 Making10
I was able to find Connect4 on sale at Target, so I picked up 2, and got to work!

The game came with 2 bags of discs, but I only needed 1 for the math game.  I wrote the numbers 1-4, and one 5 per color, on the discs.
The object of the game is to get 4 in a row and create a sum of 10.  You can definitely create variations of the game, but I wanted to make it challenging for my high fliers.
 No win here because there are only 3 red discs in a row, even though the sum is 10.
 The yellow discs won by creating a sum of 10 with 4 in a row!

I decided to use the other bag of discs to create a collaborative word work game.
 For this variation, students use their discs to create as many words as they can together.  When no more discs are left, students count up how many words they were able to create together.
You can see 3 words in this game already: hat, best, and web.

Be sure to check out what other teachers are up to, through A Burst of First's Math Monday Linky!

Don't forget to enter my November Giveaway for your chance to win The Ugly Pumpkin, by Dave Horowitz and my mini unit.