Saturday, July 30, 2011

Common Core

Common Core! Have you heard these words yet? If not, I'm sure they are coming your way soon. Looks like about six states haven't adopted it yet. Our district is starting with just the Language Arts curriculum this year so we have spent a lot of time throwing out the old and creating lots of new. Exciting and stressful!!! This post starts the first of several that I'll be doing of new activities that follow the new curriculum. Even if you aren't following the Common Core, I hope you will find them useful for your class.

For the first few weeks of school we will be reading and discussing lots and lots of Alphabet themed books. While I already have several books that have an ABC theme (Dr. Seuss's ABC, Alphabet Under Construction, Eating the Alphabet) we also received a list of recommended texts which includes so many more. After we have read the ABC themed books, we will make a class ABC book on a theme that we will come up with together.

Here is my template for our class book. The students will write their alphabet letter in the small handwriting box. They will pick a word that starts with their letter and that follows the class theme to  write on the handwriting line. There is a space for them to illustrate and a spot for them to write a simple sentence using their word. 

Happy Planning!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

First Day Read Alouds

We thought we'd share with you some tried and true books that never fail us on that first day of school.  We love reading them to our brand new first graders when we're all a little nervous and excited for a new school year. 

What do you love to read to your kiddos that first day/week?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

First Day Love!

We love giving our first graders a little something to take home after that first full day of school. We know it's not a new idea, but most of the time we send home an individually wrapped piece of cake with a label that reads: First Grade is a "Piece of Cake". The students love it and it's cute!

We thought we would come up with a few other options this year. We love how they turned out. Hope you do too. Print out any of the ideas you would like to use at the bottom of this post.

You're sweeter than a bit 'o' honey!
I'm so glad you are in first grade!

You are a star 
in first grade!

You were "mint" to 
be in first grade!

Click on the images below for the printables:

 Our hearts are starting to race a little.
Summer is speeding by and that first day is coming fast!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Happy Birthday To You!

My birthday is during Christmas break, so I was always the kid in school who had to celebrate it on a different day or with other kids.  Needless to say, I LOVE to make sure my kiddos feel that their birthday is special.  Call me crazy, but I do not double up any birthdays (even summer ones) unless they actually fall on the same day.  Here is how we celebrate birthdays in our class!  First, I read this book to the class and whenever the book says "you"  I pause and we all say the name of the birthday kid!
Don't be jealous that I have read this book a million times and pretty much have it memorized:)

Then as a class we brainstorm all the reasons why we like the birthday kid.  We always have the comments like, "she is nice" or "he plays with me," which are great but I also try to have them think of specific things that makes that child special, things that they are really good at.  Then each student completes a page for the birthday kid's book.  I usually just staple the books together but they could also be bound or tied with ribbon.  While the other students are completing the book, the birthday kid gets a birthday coloring page to work on.  Last but not least, there is ALWAYS a birthday crown!!  Below are the pages I use for my birthday book and the cover.  I like to have them all copied and paper clipped together with each child's birthday crown at the beginning of the year then there is no last minute scrambling on the days you need them. 


Monday, July 11, 2011

"Bee"havior Plan

A few years ago I had a class with a lot of little stinkers. It seemed like I was always getting after them to stay on task, to stop talking, to just follow the rules for five minutes, PLEASE!!! I always felt bad for the other students who always did what they should and never had to be reminded. I praised their behavior often and pointed out the good decisions they made but it didn’t seem like enough. So I came up with a new behavior plan. I had the card pulling system which had worked fine, but that year I needed something more. For those of you unfamiliar with the card pulling system here is the basic run-down. Each child has 3 cards: green, yellow and red. Everyone starts out on green every day. When someone breaks a rule (depending on severity) they are given a verbal warning. If it continues or they break a different rule, their card gets changed to yellow and he/she misses 5 minutes of recess and gets a note sent home. If they are having a really bad day they have to change their card to red. This results in losing all of recess, note home and sometimes a trip to visit with the principal. 

 For my new plan I made ten lily pads and gave each child a frog. I also made a yellow fish bowl and a red fish bowl. Everyone started out on the first lily pad. When I noticed someone making a good choice (especially when they were by someone who wasn’t) that child got to hop their frog to the next lily pad. When a child reached the tenth lily pad, they got a prize and started back at one. If they broke a rule they went to the yellow fish bowl, missed five minutes of recess and got a note home. If they continued misbehaving, they put their frog in the red fishbowl, missed all of recess, got a note home and a possible visit with the principal. A child on yellow or red would start back on the first lily pad the next day. Basically I just fancied up the old system and added some incentive, but it helped bring some positive reinforcement to my kiddos who made good choices. Sometimes I throw in a bonus day and if someone hops their frog during the bonus day, they also get a treat. 

For this upcoming year I wanted to change things up a bit so I made a new design with bees. Each child gets a bee, there are nine flowers that they “fly” to, for the tenth spot I have a big bee that says "Way to BEE!" When the child gets to the giant bee, they will get a prize. If they break the rules they go to the yellow and then the red hive. Last year I had a “fairy tale” class (nickname from Kasey and Ericka) and never had to send anyone to red and only had to send a few to yellow all year. I’d like to give all the credit to my management system but honestly I just had a fantastic group of kiddos! Still, I like having something for the students to work towards.

Here is a picture of the new system (my frogs are locked away in my classroom). 

Thanks for reading! 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

It's A Pinterest World!

I you?
I make pinning look goooood.
Keep on, pinnin' on! 
( Can someone please make me just ONE of these into a t-shirt?)

I may need a 12 step program when it comes to Pinterest.  I love it! I am really quite enjoying my addiction if you must know. What is Pinterest? Many of you know by now, but Pinterest defines itself:

Pinterest is a Virtual Pinboard.

Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes.

I use pinterest to search and discover great teaching ideas.  From organizing my classroom, to motivators.  Pinterest has it all! Oh, and if it doesn't you just add (read:pin) it!

Here are some fabulous things I've found:
Tatertots and Jello: More Great Ideas & a Winner!
The First Grade Parade


There are so many great ideas, I could never put them all here.  That's why I pin them!  Seriously? Who comes up with these things? Brilliant.
If you want to see my teaching board on pinterest click here: Teaching Fool
If you want to see more teachers addicted to pinterest go check out this linky party:
If you want an invite to Pinterest, drop me an email and I will do my best to send you one!


Friday, July 8, 2011

First Homework/Show and Tell Idea

Ericka mentioned in a previous post that we are lucky enough to have a day to meet our little first graders on an interview day. This happens on the first regular school day but our little ones only have to come for 10 minutes for an individual appointment. I really think that it helps them not feel so scared about all the big changes that are awaiting them in first grade. We give the parent(s) our disclosure, a student planner and various other beginning of the year notes. We give the first grader a simple homework/show and tell assignment. Here is an example of that:

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Mad About Magnets

My magnet board
Are you always looking for just a little more space?  A little more surface area to work with?  Do you have a magnet board in your classroom? Well you want one, I promise.  Last year we installed magnet boards in our classrooms.  We use them for spelling practice, word work, patterning, shape manipulation, the list goes on and on.  I am lucky enough to have connections so I obtained our boards at cost (read:cheap).  My dad owns a HVAC business and they use sheet metal to put duct work in for heaters and air conditioners.  So find your local HVAC guy and just ask.  I promise you will love it!  I had him make our boards out of 26 gage galvanized steel, 30"x30" with the edges crimped all the way around.  This allows enough room for two first graders to work side by side.  Tina and I installed ours by our classroom door and Kasey found room under one of her white boards.

This is a new board waiting to be installed.

Now are you ready for a do-it-yourself project?  You can turn a smaller version of this magnet board into a great gift! This is what you will need:
A metal board with two wholes drilled at the top, ribbon, scrap book
paper to cover, mod podge, brush and magnets.
I forgot to include: 1 safety pin and a flat object (read on and you will see what it's for).
 Cover the entire front surface with Mod Podge.
The key is to work FAST!  Mod Podge dries quick!

Place the scrap book paper on the area that you would like covered.
I liked the look of the top two inches being metal, so I left it uncovered.

Now (QUICKLY) with your flat surface tool push out all of the air and make the paper as smooth and flat as possible.  I used the back of the cap.  Bad idea! Use something completely smooth!  If you run into air bubbles that won't budge, gently poke them with a pin and then push the air out.  If your paper start to get a little dry, add a little Mod Podge while you work the bubbles out.

Wait for your board to dry.  Then add your ribbon.
Ta-da! A gift in under 30 minutes!

This is the board I made for my room mom this past year.
Don't you just love a GREAT room mom?

What questions do you have?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Beginning of Year Assessments

We have a few assessments that we give to the students at the beginning of the year. We’ve changed a few of them around because we also give PALS and Fountas and Pinnell tests. It seems like the first few weeks of school are spent testing, testing, testing! AAAARRRGGGHHH! Hopefully the attached testing packet is something that is simple, takes you very little time to give and you at least get an idea of where your
little kiddos are after their long summer break. 

  Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Little Stick People & Some Manners

At the beginning of each school year First Grade has an interview day with incoming first graders.  This allows us to meet our students and their parents, do a quick get to
Stick People
 know you, and give them a tour of our area of the school.  1st grade is such an adjustment for the majority of the kiddos, that we cherish this first glimpse that they get into their upcoming school year.  One of the things I give my students during that interview time is a stick person with their name on it.  I tell them that this little stick person will be how they are chosen for different jobs in our classroom and that they need to take it home and make it look like them.  Sharing our stick people the first day is always lots of fun and a good ice breaker for those that are a little extra nervous.  I have seen some creative sticks in the past few years, including one with REAL hair, ick!  I pull sticks each day to do calendar/rug jobs and when I need an extra helper for things throughout the day.  I also use them in my classroom for our good morning song, which they LOVE!  
This where I get the cute sticks.
My soon-to-be 2nd grader making a sample
Hello little friends!
Here is a copy of our good morning song. I think I learned it from my cooperating teacher when I did my kindergarten student teaching, but I'm not sure.  I use my good morning song as an opportunity to help my students use their good manners.  We sing the song 3 times.  I pull a stick to pick the person we will be saying something about. The first two times I call on a student to give a compliment to his/her friend.  After they give the compliment the person complimented says "thank you" and the compliment giver says "you're welcome".  The third time we sing the song, I give the compliment to a student.  I really model a ton at the beginning of the year what a GREAT compliment sounds like.  We hear lots of "I like your shirt" or "I'm glad you are in my class" which is great, but as the year goes on they get a lot better at it and we start hearing things like "I like the story you shared with us yesterday" or "I think you are awesome at math facts".  I really love to hear the things they say about each other and I think it sets such a great tone to how we start our morning and an environment of support and encouragement. 
Happy singing and stick pulling!