Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Penguin Math!

In January I will start a fun penguin unit with my students. I will be sharing some exciting penguin activities soon… but for today I wanted to share some of the math activities I have developed for my students. The first activity is a pack of addition board games. In our Engage New York Curriculum, we are in the middle of addition within 20 (module 2). I created some fun board games to practice and review the math skills the students have learned. You can get them here. Check one of them out below.

I have also developed some fun Penguin Number Bond activities to practice skills of addition within 20, doubles, and 10+ addition skills. Get the pack of activities here. Check out some of the activities below!

More penguin fun coming soon!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Gearing up for The 100th Day of School!

I am shocked that I am preparing for the 100th Day of School in December! I guess that is what comes with starting school during the first week of August! This year I am going to make the 100th day even more special for my little first graders. I have decided to have my students do a home project of decorating t-shirts. I have very involved parents at my site so I think the whole family will enjoy this project. They will get to pick any item of choice and glue 100 of that item on the shirt. I can't wait to see how creative my students become! :) Check out some creative 100th Day shirts here!

I will also have my students take part in some engaging activities in their 100th Day of School Mini Books! I have created these books to allow my students to celebrate the 100th day of first grade while practicing writing and math skills. The 14 page book is filled with silly and fun writing prompts and activities.

I am also going to have my students make the rather "traditional" 100th Day of School necklaces with Fruit Loops and 100th day glasses will be a part of our day. I am also dreaming up some 100th Day of School crowns… we will see!

I am so excited and can't believe it is only 10 school days away!! More pictures of the fun will be coming soon!

Top 10 Picture Books for Winter

Happy Sunday!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! I definitely got some much needed rest and relaxation this past week. I traveled to visit family and was lucky enough to have a White Christmas! It was magical… but COLD! Check out the picture of Christmas morning...

 Today I wanted to share my top 10 favorite picture books for winter. There are so many wonderful books out there but here are my favorites to share with my class during the cold winter months…

10. Snowballs by  Lois Ehlert- I Love the collage illustrations in this book! It is so engaging and the students love the intriguing photo collages. It appears as if you could pick items right out of the pages!

9. Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester- This quirky and lovable penguin saves the day with his silly antics! I love the accompanying books in the series as well.

8.  A New Coat for Anna by Harriet Ziefert- This sweet story follows Anna and her mother through the  process of getting Anna a new coat. This is a great story for practicing sequence of events!

7. The Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett- A great winter story from the one and only Jan Brett! This book is a winter twist on the classic Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

5. Owl Moon by Jane Yolen and John Schoenherr- This is a great winter mentor text when teaching descriptive writing and sensory words. It always gives me goosebumps when I read it.

4. The Hat by Jan Brett - Of course The Hat must be included in any winter book list!

3. The Mitten by Jan Brett- One of my all time favorites! This one is fun to read and do a hands on activity with stuffed animals and a mitten as you read. If you use the right mitten, the stuffed animals will fit! Great for sequence of events, too!

2. The Snowman by Raymond Briggs- The beautiful illustrations make this book one of my favorites! Of course this one is interesting because there are no words! Your students get to put their words to the story!

1. Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehnrer- This book also has beautiful illustrations. I love the creativity of this book. It gives you another way to think about a melting snowman. This book can be used for many art projects and is a great one to practice perspective.

I have shared many of these with my class already and I am looking forward to reading the rest with them after winter break!

Do you have other winter books you recommend?
Happy Reading!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Snowman Winter Bulletin Board

Happy Sunday! Last week my students worked very hard on our winter snowman art project and I was finally able to get the art up on my hallway bulletin board. I earned my BA in art and I always try to incorporate art into my teaching whenever I can. I wanted to do a special winter art project and I think our winter pop-up snowmen came out great!

The snowmen were created on card stock paper. I modeled a few different designs and sent my students off to create one of their own. The most difficult part of this step was making sure their snowman was big enough. A tip I gave the students that seemed to help was telling them the bottom circle needs to be as big... or bigger, than their fist. This helped the students understand how big their snowman needed to be.

Then my students colored the accessories with colored pencil and carefully cut out their snowmen. I assisted with cutting some of their stick arms and tape came to the rescue of some arms that had been cut off by aggressive scissor snipping.

We glued a pop-up piece on the back of the center circle so the snowman pops off of the background paper. The pop-up pieces were created from strips of card stock folded into a box shape.

The background paper came out beautifully! I am sure you noticed the cute little snowflakes on the border of the bulletin board. These were actually a secondary art project that helped create our background.

First, take a coffee filter and have the students color all over it with blue marker (I wrote their names on the filters in permanent marker). I had my students use a little green and purple just to add a little more pizazz to the snowflake. I then laid all of the filters on top of large sheets of white paper. I sprayed the filters with water and let them dry. The result is the blending of the marker ink on the coffee filter and onto the white paper. The white paper under the filters is dyed by the marker ink turning it into the beautiful background paper for the snowmen! Remove the coffee filters to use for the snowflakes once they are dry. You can add more color to the background paper by spraying it with water dyed with blue watercolors, or wash over it with a little more watered down blue water color paint.

Once dry, I cut the background paper to size, had the students sponge paint a little snow on the bottom, and voila… a beautiful snowy scene! (it sounds complicated, but it really isn't!) It is a great little snowman art project and perfect for winter.

Check out some of their cute little snowmen!

I love this wintery project and I hope you do, too!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Currently December

I'm linking up with Farley again this month! I really can't believe this week is the second week of December! I feel like there is SO much to do in the month of December. But for now...


I love having fires in the fireplace! Even if it is not very cold outside I always want a crackling fire. It was particularly special today while decorating the house. It truly feels like Christmas now.

Although there is a fire in the fireplace, my husband's football team is also on TV in the background… I have a feeling it will be off soon though, since his team is not doing so well :)!


We picked out our Christmas tree today! It has definitely made the house smell wonderful.


We will be decorating our new tree tonight after dinner. It is always my favorite part of preparing for the Holidays. This is our second Christmas as a married couple, and I am so excited to put our new ornaments on our tree. Especially the ornaments we received for our wedding and the ornament my parents gave me for earning my master's degree!


I really feel like some spicy chili tonight… I don't know why.  Maybe it is the coziness of the day that is making me feel like comfort food.


I feel like there is never enough time on the weekends for relaxing. There is always work to be done and I sometimes feel guilty for not taking more time to relax!


I have a winter freebie to share!  I also love Farley's RACK idea. I would love to implement this in my classroom. Random Acts of Christmas Kindness… What a great idea!

Happy Holidays!

Grinch Day Plans!

Next week my first grade colleague and I will be holding our second annual "Grinch Day" for our first graders! We are so excited and have even more planned this year. We plan Grinch related activities with a reading of the book How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss. We then show the students the cartoon version of the book while they enjoy cookies and hot cocoa.

Today I wanted to share some of the Grinch related activities I have created. The first is a color-by-code Grinch pack with addition and subtraction. This is a great way to engage students in practice of skills. Check it out here! I will use this as a review of skills on the last week before winter break.
The next activity is a Grinch Sequence of Events Cut & Paste pack. Included in the pack is a picture sequence cut and paste activity. The students will color each picture, cut them out, then glue them in the proper order. These are fun to make into hats too! I have glued them onto sentence strips then stapled them together. There are also accompanying writing pages included in the pack. Check it out here!

I also will have my students review math skills with Grinch board games! I have created a pack of 4 games for my students to practice addition and subtraction. These are great to use with a parent volunteer. I have the students roll a die and use counting cubes as game pieces. I have them use white boards to write the expressions as number sentences to solve. For my more advanced students, I have them write a related fact on their boards to go with the expression. Click here to get the Christmas Math Grinch board games.

What special things happen in your classroom to celebrate the Holidays?

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Winter Freebie and Addition Color by Code Pack!

Now that the winter season is approaching I am looking forward to shifting out of the fall and into the festive Holiday season! To celebrate I would like to share my Winter Color-By-Code Freebie. Get it here. It is an addition activity and a part of a larger addition color-by-code pack. Check out the whole pack here. These are great activities for reviewing addition skills in an engaging and festive way!
Here is an example of a page from the full pack.

Happy Teaching!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

My Five Senses Interactive Science Book

Lately I have been encouraging my students to add more detail in their writing. They have great structure and conventions, but their detail was lacking. One way I decided encourage their use of detail was to introduce my students to the five senses. Including sensory words can help their writing to come to life!

I knew I needed a hands on way to explore the senses so they really understand what each sense involves. I wanted their five senses exploration to be as interactive as possible and that is how I decided to create the My Five Senses Interactive Science Book. Today I want to share the experiment we conducted to explore the sense of smell.

I created interactive pages that can be compiled into a book or used in an interactive science notebook.

My Sense of Smell

Here are some photos of the interactive foldable page. This page will be added to our My Five Senses book after each experiment is conducted.

I had a parent volunteer help with this project and we conducted the experiments in small groups. When all groups had completed the experiment, I revealed the scents inside of the cups. It was so funny to see the students' reactions to whether their predictions were correct. I will share the touch experiment soon…

I also wanted to share the five senses anchor chart that my students have been using in the classroom. The experiments have been great to introduce the senses and the chart reminds them to add sensory words in their writing.

Happy Teaching!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving Classroom Fun!

Now that Thanksgiving has passed and the guests have departed, I finally have time to share some of the Thanksgiving creations from my classroom. The first activity I found on Pinterest. Check it out here. The first is our cute little coffee filter turkey.

 To create this cute little turkey, my class colored coffee filters with markers. I had them use fall colors (red, yellow, orange, and brown). Then we sprayed the coffee filters with water so the colors blended together to create a watercolor look. The filters were cut in a scalloped pattern and the body parts (brown body, wattle, eye,beak, and legs) were assembled. They turned out so cute! I am so thankful for my parent helpers. They made this project possible with the time they spent helping the students!

The next Thanksgiving activity was a three-dimensional model of the Mayflower. My students loved creating these ships! We studied the Mayflower and the voyage the Pilgrims took across the Atlantic. It took some time and patience cutting, folding, and gluing, but the end result was amazing! The students were so proud to take these home to their families for Thanksgiving!

What activities did your students do to prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Thanksgiving Activities

Happy Sunday! Thanksgiving is right around the corner! Today I want to share a few fun and engaging Thanksgiving activities. The first is a subtraction freebie. Click here to download my "Turkey Color-by-Code Subtraction" page. This page is a part of a 5 pack of Thanksgiving addition and subtraction activities. Click here for the whole packet.

Here are some of the images that can be found in the pack:

I also have a pack of engaging Thanksgiving Board Games! I have created 7 games with phonics skills and math skills. Included are: short vowels, blends, magic-e long vowels, addition, and subtraction. Check it out here!

Happy teaching!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Currently November

Today I am linking up with Farley and taking part in my first Currently!

Listening- Downton Abbey Season 3
I LOVE Downton Abbey and I watch/listen to the episodes whenever I can. I can't get enough! I have started on Season 1 and watch through Season 4 a few times over during the past few weeks. The only drawback is that I talk with my terrible English accent for about an hour after my marathons each weekend… my poor husband!

Loving- The new Downton Abbey Season 5 Trailer!
January 4th cannot get here fast enough. I am loving the new trailer. What drama! I wonder what the fire is all about… if they kill off anymore of my favorite characters, I don't know what I will do! If you haven't seen the trailer yet, check it out here.

Thinking- about my parents' new puppy!
Today I went to visit my parents and meet their new puppy. She is the CUTEST! I forgot how completely adorable Cavaliers are as puppies. Although my pup Max is still pretty cute at 2 years old! Meet Lulu...
Wanting- New boots for fall
I am in desperate need… okay I want new boots for the fall. I found an adorable pair of chocolate riding boots… I think I must have them!

Needing- New computer speakers in my classroom
For the past few weeks my speakers have been acting wonky. When I have shared video clips in my classroom the sound won't work and I have to hold a cord in just the perfect placement for my students to be able to hear anything. FRUSTRATING! So, I found a different speaker set in my classroom cabinets, plugged it in to teach the 5 senses and… it didn't work… So I am now going to use funds provided by our generous PTA to get a working pair of speakers… I guess no video clips to supplement lessons until they arrive! 

Reading- The Boys in the Boat
I am a member of a book club and I LOVE to read. This month we are reading The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. At first I wasn't sure I would like this particular selection, but I have been pleasantly surprised. It is well written and I have really enjoyed some of the characters. The book is about the 1936 United States men's Olympic crew team. So far it has been a very interesting read. I hope the momentum continues!

Happy November!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Engage New York Subtraction Anchor Chart

As I navigate through the first grade Engage New York curriculum, I realized that my students need a visual to remember all of the great subtraction strategies we have learned. I have taken many of the strategies and have written them on this anchor chart:

I have been impressed with how well the students understand subtraction with the strategies provided by the curriculum. I LOVE the application problem portion of the curriculum and stretch this section out as well as add additional problems into my routine. I also provide my students with additional practice with independent cut-and-paste activities that reinforce the concepts taught. Today I want to share my "Change Unknown Subtraction" supplement I have created. This pack has two versions of practice for this skill (one matches number bonds, the other matches the missing part). Click here to get the packet!

Happy Teaching!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Narrative Writing Rubric

Happy Sunday! Today I wanted to share the narrative writing rubric that I use in my classroom. Students need to know where their writing stands to understand how to make improvements. I created this rubric to show the students what is expected at each rubric level. Our district has provided us with a teacher rubric for scoring purposes, but we did not have student examples at each performance level. I wanted to post the expectations in my classroom so I decided to create the samples myself with illustration expectations as an additional component.

Our class has discussed each performance level and we have had many conversations about the similarities and differences. We have looked at student writing exemplars (teacher created versions, too!) and have graded them together using the rubric. My students have grasped this concept quite well and I have observed a strong drive to achieve the next level in many of them. The biggest challenge was getting the students to see that both the illustration and the writing needs to be adequate to achieve a score on the rubric. Some of them of course focused mostly on the pictures at first!

Achieving mastery of the first grade narrative writing standard would score a 3 on this particular rubric. Four is considered beyond, two is approaching, one is needing improvement within the standard.

Happy Teaching!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Magic E Wand Activity

For the past week my students have been learning the magic e phonics rule. This phonics skill is such a fun concept to teach and there are many interactive ways to reinforce it. I have created magic e wands with star sticks purchased from the local teacher store. Writing an "e" in the star creates an instant magic e wand. During guided reading time I reinforce the concept in small groups depending on the level of intervention and enrichment needed. The students create short vowel words and magically change them into long vowel words using their magic e wand. We talk about how "The magic e at the end of the word makes the vowel say its name." The students love this activity and it is so rewarding to see them read magic e words successfully in context after practicing with their wands.

Stay tuned for more interactive magic e activities!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Engaging Phonics Board Games!

Today I wanted to share some of the board games I have created to reinforce phonics skills. I use our district curriculum to determine which phonics skills we will be working on for the week. I then create board games to practice the specific skills. Some of these skills include short vowels, blends, long vowels, and word families. These games have been perfect for my parent groups.

I have the students play the game with dice and cubes for game pieces. The students take turn rolling the die and reading the words on the game board.  To provide my students with an extra challenge, I have all students write the words as they land on the spaces. My advanced students are asked to write a sentence with the word they land on. This allows for me to reinforce the phonics skill, as well as differentiate learning to meet the students' needs. Click here to get the board games!

Happy Teaching!