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?