Saturday, March 29, 2014

Five for Friday~Story Problems

Hi, Friends! How are ya? It’s time for another Five for Friday!


It’s been an amazing day! It’s after midnight so, I guess I should say…yesterday was an amazing day! It started with the mad dash out of the door after missing the first go ‘round with the alarm clock. Just before dismissal, the heavens opened and rained down golf ball sized hail! In true TX fashion….20 minutes later….the sun was shining and we were off and making a mad dash for the first night of our church’s Spring Awakening conference. I can hear my pillow calling, so let’s take a quick look-see at what went down in Room 159 this week. Ready?


This week, math was all about addition and subtraction using problem solving. This chart isn’t all that cutesy, but it served the purpose of introducing new math language to problem solving.  Simple, but significant and part of the process of learning…


Admittedly, I think we did a little more adding than subtracting. No worries though because this will be our focus in math again next week. We used this story problem to practice modeling different addition sentences for the same sum (with 2 addends).

Students worked in pairs with a set of ten frames to model “teen sums”. Each pair of students were assigned a number and worked to model all of the combinations for that sum beginning with 0 + the given number.  We started with 0 in order for students to see the pattern developing as their first addend increased and the second one decreased. One student in the group managed the ten frames and one was in charge of the marker.


On the next day, we moved to creating story problems in order to incorporate writing in math.


We dedicate one day each week to story problems. This week was a little different because rather than simply have students work to solve story problems, I had them start from scratch to create them. In doing so, students had to model their thinking using ten frames and use math language in their writing. Differentiation for ability determined how many counters each student was given.

Students dropped their counters onto their desks, then arranged them on ten frames and told a story to their shoulder buddy before beginning to write. I also modeled one on the whiteboard before expecting them to do this independently. Once their stories were written, students were given a sheet of drawing paper to illustrate the problem they had written. Notice the finishing touch? Even my witty class of mostly boys LOVES doodle frames!

Part of the learning process was being able to get thinking onto paper…not every student got what they thought and spoke written perfectly onto their papers, but that was part of the learning process too. My struggling readers/writers dictated their story problem to me. I wrote it on a sticky note and they copied it onto the writing paper.


Math is ALWAYS the most active time of day in our classroom. You can check out some of the activities we use to review skills in my little TPT shop! I’m blessed to be participating in a sale with over 200 fantastic blogging friends! Here are…..ummmm, just a few 100 or so of them…


You might’ve noticed that things at A+ Firsties have changed a bit. The little rainbow is my previous logo. You’ll find the new one at TPT looks like my updated button. Click HERE to grab a freebie to write a few story problems of your own! Have a great weekend!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Brand NEW Hotness & a SALE

Hi, Friends! How are ya? Notice anything different on the little bloggity blog tonight? Like it? I LOVE it! FINALLY, Finally…finally, I have the perfect design that fits my personality to a T {for Tanya}…ha! Tenille at The Cutest Blog on the Block was such a dream to work with and brought my vision to life within days of my having shared it with her!

What better way to celebrate than with a sale? I’m joining in some savings fun with a few of my blogging buds! Around the house, I’ve got a little stash of ‘must go’ things piling up as we kick spring cleaning into high gear. I’m doing the same thing in my classroom.


If we haven’t used it this year or we’ve gotten the best use of it already, it’s being filed away or thrown away in order to make room for the new! Doing a little spring cleaning too? Check out the stores that are having sales this weekend to help you with bringing a little sunshine to your classroom for spring!

Soon, we’ll be getting ready for butterflies, plants, and all things spring! I absolutely LOVE this time of year! These are two of the units we’ll be using in the upcoming weeks. My entire shop will be marked down by 20% for the sale. Have a look see….click either of the pictures to get to my little shop! April morning work should be wrapped up and uploaded before the weekend is over.
A Butterfly Grows Word Work


Happy Spring Cleaning {&shopping}!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Five for Friday~Fraction Fun

Hi, Friends! How’ve ya been? I’m linking up with Kacey for a late start to Five for Friday {it’s Saturday}!


The kiddos and I spent the day doing a little shopping, so now it’s time to sit still and start prepping the nitty gritty for next week! Does it ever end? {Don’t answer that….!}


Spring break was a blast….and went by way too fast!!! It was so much fun to slow down for a little bit and enjoy being in the company of  two of my favorite people on the planet. Our friend Natalia did an amazing job capturing sweet memories of our little family. Our photo shoot was just long enough to keep their attention, filled with laughs, and lots of fun! Check her out on FB by clicking ----------->here! ;)


This is a little more like what these two really act like, lol! They’re keepers…gotta love ‘em!


We started the week with The Little Old Lady…..What is it about this woman? Don’t they have grocery stores in her neighborhood? She could really star in an episode of My Strange Addiction because of the crazy meals she consumes! Kiddos love her crazy eating habits. We used these little diddies for sequencing the events in the story and then placed them in a literacy station with the book for retelling.


Wednesday was Glue Stick Day! Didn’t know there was such a thing? Welll, there really isn’t. We kinda…mmmm….made the whole thing up! Ha! Ever have trouble with kids losing their glue stick or even worse, losing the top?! In our classroom, we tackle this problem by labeling both the top and glue stick bottle with student numbers. That way…if someone should drop their top on the floor, we can pick it up and return it to its rightful owner.

We also conserve them as much as possible, because we only get 1 per month. Replacing them over and over again can add up to quite a few pennies. After I’ve provided students with a glue stick, it's theirs to manage for the month. If it gets used up before the 19th…they’re out, no glue stick. We have liquid glue available in our borrow box, BUT students do not keep liquid glue in their desks. When the 19th rolls around…everyone is eligible for a new glue stick, as they need it. Do I have to manage this? Nope….you know we all have that one kid that remembers EVERYTHING! Well, he keeps track of when the next Glue Stick Day rolls around too! Might as well put that great memory to practical use! =)

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We had lots of fun with fractions this week. We explored parts of a whole, parts of a set and probability using hands on activities and recorded our learning with a little fold and learn fun.


It’s all wrapped up with a bow and loaded to TPT; you can check it out by clicking here

I couldn't leave you without a little freebie too. Students worked with partners to solve story problems that made real world connections to the importance of fractions.

Click the pic to grab one! Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

fractions freebie

Freebie Fridays

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Bright Ideas Blog Hop~Guided Writing Journals

Hi, Friends! How are ya?  I hope you’re having a hoppin’ good time gathering lots of exciting ideas for your classroom!

In Room 159, we love reading. We love writing. We love writing about reading too! One way we accomplish this is through the use of guided writing journals.  Guided writing takes place at the small group table at the end of our guided reading lesson {on day 2 or 3}. It helps us to extend and reflect on the text we're reading.

Sometimes, our reflections look like graphic organizers. I keep lots of different sticky notes on hand for quick assembly in notebooks. The novelty of holiday and themed sticky notes helps to maintain interest in the journals.

There are also times when I pose a question for students to use to take a deeper look at the text and respond to it. We share our responses when everyone is done. This helps students to explain and provide textual examples to support the position they've taken to answer and respond to essential questions.


For emerging readers, guided writing journals also contain word work, sight word sentences, and illustrations to respond to reading. In order to help students organize journals, we use lots of coding dots, sticky notes and stickers.  Lastly, we’re also beginning to use this as a place for me to jot quick notes to students to encourage them or give them kudos for their hard work.
Do you use guided writing journals in your classroom?  If not, I hope this "bright idea" might shine a little light on your considering to do so! =)
Next up on the hop is Stacey from Teaching Ever After. She has a great post about organizing for a month at a time! I can certainly use some help with that! You can hop to her post by clicking her blog button below.

Not up for a one by one hop? That’s okay too! Alternatively, you can search by topic, using the link up below and move along to any other stop on the blog hop.  Thanks for stopping by!


Friday, March 7, 2014

Five for Friday~Bar-ba-loot Shapes

Hi, Friends! How are ya? This week started out R-O-U-G-H, but we are now officially on spring break so this chica has NO complaints!


Linking up with Kacey, is always a great way for me to reflect over the best of our week. This picture kind of sums up how my kiddos feel about me having to be out unexpectedly….

Let’s see….how can I put this nicely? My class…is lovely. They’re the cutest bunch of inquisitive little smart cookies on the planet. We explore. Create. Build. Play. Work hard…..but we rarely do worksheets.  What may look like a worksheet to someone outside of our room is often the end state or last step in a process of hands on exploration. Soooooooo, when I leave them in the hands of a substitute, they kind of sorta, all out loose their minds! They don’t like them, don’t want ‘em and will stretch a sub to within an inch of their sanity!!! It’s taken me awhile to figure out why and then it hit me like a ton of bricks!

I give my kids choices. We vote on a lot of the “how” of what we do each day. They have a voice. I’m not there to tell them what to do all day long; I’m there to guide them. To facilitate the environment in which they learn. We set expectations together; I trust them and I leave them alone to meet them. If they need support, their classmates and I are there to help.

I know kids rather learn in fun, active ways. We rock at it everyday. What comes natural to us in the classroom, does not always come natural to someone who has to cover for me for the day. It’s a really challenging thing for my students to accept, especially considering how much personal responsibility they're given each day sooooooo, when I walked in the door on Thursday they were excited to get back to our “normal”…..{after a little chat about not scaring the substitutes away}. =)


We’ve been building bigger words during word work. First graders LOVE compound words! I always love using this little activity! Students each stand in a spot around the room. 1/2 of each word  card is passed out to two different students. After each student has a card, they then silently walk around the room to find their match. Everyone is capable of completing this successfully because they have the picture to help. We meet back at the carpet to share BIG words and create a word web. When we return from break, this activity will be extended into literacy stations too. You can check it out HERE.


In math, we wrapped up our unit on shapes and figures. After having so much fun with the Lorax last week, this was a perfect activity for my little Bar-ba-loots! We used marshmallows to represent vertices and toothpicks to represent edges. Each student created 3 figures.


After building their figures, each student got 3 sticky notes. One for each figure, to label the name of the figure and record its attributes.


Our room smelled yummy and constructing each shape really helped students to “see” and “feel” the attributes. Walmart has this selection of sticky notes. They’re in the holiday section for Easter, but also resembled two stories we worked with this week….Little Rabbit’s Tale and Chicken Little.

We’ll be using pieces of this little packet during math stations when we get back too.

 Here’s to a fun and restful spring break! See ya later!


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Fantastical Seusstastical March CURRENTLY

Hi, Friends! How are ya? I’m linking up with Farley at Oh Boy it’s 4th grade for this month’s CURRENTLY.  My wheel’s tend to turn best after dark, so I’m stopping in to share the SUPER silliness that took over our classroom last week.

Monday is Read Across America in celebration of Dr. Seuss’ birthday. We also have a spring Open House next week. In preparation for it, we celebrated with a fun Seuss author study a little early.

currently march2014

I love my little Barbaloots; we’ve been working hard and it’s time for some rest and relaxation. We’ve got 5 days ‘til spring break….BRING.IT.ON!!!

THINKING….YIKES, time flies! March morning work will be wrapped and ready for tomorrow. No worries.

WANTING…a day in between Saturday and Sunday, to actually REST! Saturday=housework. Sunday=worship and prepping for the week. Can we get a fun day in between, lol?!

NEEDING….{back to March morning work….}

?????……Seuss, shapes and fractions is the answer. Can you guess the question?


There’s no way to read Dr. Seuss without playing with rhyme. We began the week with a little book titled Come Rhyme with Me, THEN went all in to every Dr. Seuss book we could get our hands on. I think I’ve finally got all of the knots out of my tongue…dedicating a week to alliteration and rhyme was FUN!


Each of our sections of 1st grade, chose one book as the main focus for the week. Our class’ selection was The Lorax. This is our story map that we created after reading it. We also had fun comparing and contrasting the book to the movie.


We created a quick reading response that crossed over into our math time too. {Cross curricular connections….yep, we’re all about that!} Students wrote to complete the sentence….If The Once-ler gave me the last truffula seed, I would…..

…then, traced and cut their handprints to use as the Lorax’s mustache. After creating the Lorax topper, we left the craft on our desks to dry and headed to lunch.

When we came back, students drew their open hand inside the illustration square at the top of the page. Their hand was drawn open in order to “catch” the truffula seed tossed down by The Once-ler.

With our math focus being shapes, student groups were assigned a plane shape or solid figure to trace, cut/assemble, and glue into the open hand drawn on their paper. The shape assigned was determined by the level of difficulty or extension students’ could handle in order to deepen learning of geometric shapes because they would have to then discuss attributes and sort by 2D or 3D. Here’s a closer look….


After we caught and planted truffula seeds in math, the next day….guess what?! They sprouted in our library corner! Those seeds grow fast!


Lots of oooooohs and ahhhhhs were heard and interest in the reading corner is renewed at a time in the year when lots of ants are in 1st graders pants, lol!


Students continued making connections during literacy stations throughout the week. Have I mentioned how much I love my kids yet?! I DO! I sooo DO! When one of them started waving his paper at me from across the room, I knew there were sparks flying in that head of his. Sure enough, I walk over and he’s illustrating more shapes at the writing station….discussing attributes with his stations buddy and REACHING WAY beyond the truffula seed to real world examples. ***LOVE the way they think!!!***

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By Friday, we were ready for Show, NOT tell….students brought in real world examples and kept them hidden inside of a brown paper bag. After giving their classmates clues to reinforce the learning of attributes and get in more of that math language, guesses were made and the shape or figure was revealed. This smart cookie made sure to write his clues on his bag so he wouldn’t forget! =)

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Friday was such a frenzy of a fun, exciting kind of day….annnnd they did such an amazing job sharing, we completely ran out of time, so we’ll continue to Show, NOT tell on Monday.


And the Lorax will be there to welcome them back!


Big ole hairy mustache and all….we’ll start Monday out having a ball!


Getting ready to have a rhyme time kinda week of your own? Click the pic above to grab a freebie to add to your fun!



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