Thursday, March 31, 2011

Literacy Station Organization

I'm linking up to Mrs. Patton again!

I, like many others, do a version of the Daily 5 for my literacy stations. So the only ones I really need to worry about organizing are word work and listening. Of course I have to organize my classroom library too, but that doesn't change throughout the year.

So here is my word work. I had it set up at the beginning of the year with about 5 or 6 activities in each drawer and they were just labeled #1-6 (the same thing was in each drawer). So the kids would take a drawer to their desk and choose whichever activity they wanted to do independently. Now I have organized it so that they have to do a certain activity each day of the week and then they can choose a game from the 6th drawer. I changed it becuase they were really just playing around and not working on words. Not that this keeps them from playing, but I feel like they are better about finishing the daily task before they play (or goof off).

Monday's box- spell weekly words with letter beads and pipe cleaners

Tuesday- word sorting (I've posted about this activity, here's the first link and another one)

Wednesday - spelling words with scrabble tiles (again, I posted about this too, here's the link)

Thursday- sight word activity

Friday- stamping

I hope something here is helpful to someone=)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Home/School Communication

My plan was to link up with Mrs. Patton everyday for her organization week. But Monday and Tuesday just flew by (no complaint here). Anywho, today the topic is home/school communication.

The only thing I really have to share is my take-home folders and how my kids turn them in, along with notes from home. Nothing too exciting here.

I have this cart by my desk and when kids unpack they put take-home folders inthe top box, but before they turn it in they check for any notes or money from home and put it in the notes box onthe 2nd shelf. The 3rd shelf is for finished work to be turned in and the bottom shelf holds some random social stories for me to read with kids if needed. Sorry this picture is so terrible!

I use the folders to send home a daily behvior chart and papers. Parents return things in here as well. These folders are AMAZING! They hold up all year long, they're $1.05 each (no shipping!), and they have a clear pocket on the front, the back, and two clear pockets inside. That's $20 bucks a year I don't mind spending. I somehow got a free sample in my mailbox at school last year so if you ask they might send you one.

Here's a link for these folders, can you tell I like them?!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Math Organization

I finally took some pictures at school today so I can link up with Patton's Patch Organization Week.

I don't have anything fancy for math materials. I keep my geoblocks, linking cubes, pattern blocks, and counters, in the larger drawers. The items we use daily for calendar time are on top along with bags of flashcards used for games in the red tray.

Beside the drawers is some piece of furniture my neighbor was putting out on the street one day and I grabbed it up to take to school! My computer fits perfectly and I have the drawers and cubbies full of other math manipulatives. It's a hot mess though! My end of the year goal is to clean it out and reorganize.

And the colorful set of drawers on the bottom holds games that my kids play in math stations

I've been trying hard to set up my math time more like reading block and do a quick whole group lesson and then meet with small groups. I'm sharing a form I made to help me plan for "Math Workshop". I really like teaching math this way so much better, it's easier to see if the kids are really getting the gist of the concept when you're teaching small groups. And I can easily modify or enrich for those who need it.

In case I run out of time I schedule my high kids last. And usually on Fridays I cut their time short and do assessments. Poor high kids, they always get neglected=(

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Not Really Teacher Related

I have to work at school some today and I'm planning on taking some pictures of how I organize to link up with Patton's Patch. I can't wait to see what everyone else posts. Organization can make life so much easier, I just need some more help with it!

But really I wanted to brag on my husband today! I have a very big birthday coming up in 4 days and he totally got me last night with a surprise party! I thought we were just going to dinner with my parents but then after dinner he randomly turned into a bar parking lot and I was shocked to learn later that he had (all on his own):
1. ordered invitations
2. actually mailed or hand delivered invitations
3. ordered and picked up a cake and balloons
4. did all this at least a month in advance

He has now earned about a million husband points!!

Here is a funny gift  idea if you have a friend turning the big 3-0 anytime soon!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Winner and Sight Word Activities

I just chose a winner for a set of "Jump Around" mats and task cards to print to use with them!

That's Kari from Kari's Kindergarten! I really hope you and your kids love them! E-mail me so I can get your address and email you the task cards.
The mats are really easy to make and my kids have enjoyed jumping on them this week! I'm marking the task cards down on TpT if you want them.

Also, do any of you use Sight Word Tales?
A teacher friend of mine, Jodi, has been making extension worksheets for these books and putting them on her brand new blog- First Grade Windows. Check it out if you use these with your kiddos.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Place Value Review

I seem to be stuck on math topics lately. Here's a quick game we've used before and I pulled back out for a warm up before whole group lessons this week. I still have many kids that need practice with ones and tens, not to mention practice paying attention and listening! Their favorite part of any "I Have, Who Has" game is when I pick who goes first, they make it seem like such a big deal=)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Who Likes Free Stuff?!

I've been so excited since my trip to the Dollar Tree the other day.
I'd been looking through one of my favorite teacher catalogs and circling things I wish I could afford for my classroom and here's one of the math activities I thought the kids would love.

But who can afford $39.95 plus shipping?

So then I saw that roll of shelf liner for only $1.00 and I thought I'd give it a go. Here's what I came up with. I cut the liner into squares. Then I painted numbers on each one. So now I have my own set of number mats for only a dollar!! (They go up to 20)

They can be used as a number line or scattered and kids can jump around to find given numbers.

And then...I starting making task cards to go with them so my kids can use them with partners in math stations.

And then...this little trip to the Dollar Tree turned into a 97 page "Jump Around" packet on my computer!!

And now...I want to give you some!!!
I made task cards for lots of math skills and I posted the ones for skip counting in my TpT store for free. You can also check out the whole pack while you're there.

Lastly, I decided I'd jump on the giveaway bandwagon too!
I'd love to mail you a set of homemade number mats 0-20 and email you my "Jump Around" packet!

So as with all other giveaways you can follow me, my TpT store, link to this post, and leave a comment for each to enter. I'll choose a winner on Wednesday, the 23rd.

I hope you think this idea is as cool as I do! I just love saving money!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Dollar Tree is the Best!

And it's probably my favorite store. I love that they have a section for teachers. All these expensive teacher stores need to take notice that school things can be made and sold for much less! I got some treasures there today.

(sorry about the terrible lighting)
I just needed those 2 packs of foam magnetic numbers, no plans for them yet but I know I need them at this price. I got a Tiki Lounge CD for our end of the year tropical themed party (only 40 something days to go). The pack of stickers and bookmarks are "color-your-own", the kids are going to love those!
The green square package in the corner is a pack of math manipulatives, they are perforated number and math symbol cards and there are a couple of sheets in each color. I do have a plan for those little guys, I'll post it soon.
And what I'm most excited about it that roll of blue shelf liner. Give me a day to see if my idea works and I'll show you how you can save $40 plus shipping or it'll be a waste of a dollar.

All I've been doing this week is shopping! It's ok if everything's only a dollar, right?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Classroom Photos

One of my favorite things is looking at pictures of other classrooms. I especially love to do this on a lazy summer day and mentally plan how I'll arrange my room for the next year. Always First Grade is having a classroom pics linky party. So here are some photos I have saved on my computer from the beginning of this year before the kids came. Share yours too!

Here's a view from the door. We do all our whole group stuff on the rug and there's a big white board behind and to the right of the easel. See that chair? I found it in the school attic this summer. It was black plastic with nasty orange rough fabric, a little spray paint and fabric went a long way to transform this sweet little chair.

Now moving around the room counter-clockwise:

Reading area (with books covered so I could slowly introduce kids to the book area after I went over how to find, use, and put away books)

Small group area.

Computers on the back wall.

My desk area.

This was going to be a listening station, but I'm now using it as a writing station. The table top is chalkboard!
The "tree" thing on the wall is where backpacks are hung and lunches and snacks go on the white shelves.

Sink and mailboxes.

A view from the front of the room.

I've changed things a little since these pics were taken in August. I always get an itch to rearrange midway through the year but I've tried to resist this year, it's just so much work!
I can't wait to see more of your rooms!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Math Daily Routines: The Secret Number

The secret number is something I've been doing for 2 years now (ever since I got this awesome calendar!).

We do secret number acitvities right after our quick calendar meeting while the kids are still on the carpet. Every Monday I give clues and my kids figures out the "secret number of the week" and we do a different activity with the secret number each day. I typed the clues on little cards and I have enough for each week of the year. I finally put all the activities together to make a packet.

You can open the directions below to see what it's all about and you can check out the whole pack on TpT. This is the first thing I've actually put on there for more than free, so I'm a little nervous. I see so many other teachers successfully selling their hard work and hey, it'd be great to have an extra dollar. But then I also know how nice it is get great ideas and printables without paying! So I have mixed feelings about doing this. I'll see how it goes. I wonder how most of you feel about it?

Click this image for the directions and examples.

Click this image to go to TpT to download the whole pack. Thanks! I'd love any suggestions =).

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fluency Practice - The Reading Race

After reading a post by Laura at The Grade Two Zoo, I was excited to try "The Great Poetry Reading Race" with my kids. Laura has some great printables to use. I wanted to use decodable stories from our reading series, Harcourt Storytown, so I tweaked her forms just a little and I'm just calling it "The Reading Race".

I also decided to try and time my kids on Mondays and Fridays and let them graph their words per minute (Monday in red and Friday in blue) to show their progress each week. I put it all together into fluency folders for them to take home each night. My kids have been excited and are even reading their stories in stations to each other.

Here are some pics and the forms to download.

Monday, March 7, 2011


I added some printable Scrabble tiles for the activity I posted yesterday. So now you can easily use this activity if you don't have Scrabble in your classroom. =)
Click either picture to get the download.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

More Spelling Practice with Scrabble Tiles

I'm changing one of my word work stations this week to have kids use Scrabble tiles to spell and then to add up the sums of each word. They've been using the tiles for a few weeks now to complete this "Valentine Spelling" activity so this is just a little tweak to that.

I'm also trying out TpT and posting this worksheet on there for you to download- free of course. I don't have anything worth selling, but maybe I'll work on that this summer. I was just curious to see how easy their site was to use. So if you have Scrabble tiles in your classroom click here to get the worksheet.
Time to get ready for bed! Have a great Monday tomorrow!

Link Up Pet Pics

Ladybug's Teacher Files is having a pet link party. Since my pets are like my children this is a good excuse to show them off!

I got Paisley when I moved back to Alabama after my first year of teaching. She is 7 years old now and is spoiled rotten. I was told she's a Poodle/Fox Terrier mix, you can be the judge of that.

And last year we got Hurley from Petsmart on one of their adoption days. Apparently he was found on the side of the road and no owner was ever found. He's so sweet though that he must've come from a nice home. He's a lab mix and we're guessing he's between 2 and 3 years old now.

After almost a year Paisley is coming around to the idea of being friends.

Getting Mail is Always Fun!

Thanks so much to Erin at Eberhart's Explorers for sending me an awesome package this week. And thanks to Elisabeth over at The Adventures of Miss Elisabeth for setting up a fun accessory swap. I've never done anything like this before and it was a blast! I got to "meet" a new blog friend, Erin, and she made my week when I got this in the mail Thursday.

Isn't this wrapping so cute?

Just look at all the goodies! A scarf, hair accessories, notecards, earrings, bracelets, and a big flower ring, oh my!

Odd as it sounds, I think the hand sanitizer was my favorite! Who would've thought to glitter up a boring bottle like this. I'm thinking that's an easy teacher appreciation gift if you ever need one!

Thanks Erin!