Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Kids are people TOO!

Hey there! How are ya? Kids a little wonky as you wind down these last few days? Who am I kidding?! Kids bonkers?! Need a quick pick me up or activity to keep them engaged in accountable talk AND get some great writing in too! Well, I’ve got an activity for ya! We’ve been reading biographies and sharing facts about personalities past and present. We’ve really enjoyed learning about so many different people, BUT guess what?! Kids are people too!

Don’t think that every time you sit down to write or share information about a person that it has to be someone that has conquered the world, landed on the moon or won a championship. Some of the kindest, most talented, inspiring people I’ve ever met have been only 6 years old! Building community and maintaining it throughout the year takes a lot of work…..maintaining it until the very last day will keep away the sibling sillies that develop when the kids have just about had enough of each other!


As we began writer’s workshop, we reviewed punctuation {Can you ever really do THAT enough?} and thought of two common things we found in most of the biographies we had read recently. In most of them, we discovered we were told the person’s name and when they were born, soooooooo together we posed the first two questions for everyone to use. Enter….turn and talk…..HERE. Then students turned to each other to think of 2 additional questions they could ask of their classmate to get to know a little more about them.

After discussions were had, students moved to their desks to record the 4 questions on sticky notes. Yes, I know….I’m addicted to them. We use sticky notes for everything. =)


Questions were written on the sticky note…..then each set of partners took turns interviewing each other. Did they like this?! Did they EVER! They LOVED it! Underneath each sticky note, students recorded the answer to the question in the form of a statement. Punctuation practice + engaged + happy + talkative + writing kids = 1 HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY teacher! Next, came the illustration. Students were also held responsible for making the illustration look as much like their classmate did on the day we completed the writing as possible. Their drawings were so cute, BUT because we were mostly using complete names, I could only find ONE without a full name to snap a pic of. Isn’t he a cutie? You could absolutely pick him out if you saw him in person right? =)


Anyhooo….that’s the gist! The next time you get ready to do a little research, remember…..kids are people too!

Happy writing!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Five for Friday~Just 8 more…..

….days! I can hardly believe it! I CAN believe it….but CAN’T all at the same time! Where has the year gone? This past week was just a little wonky because I spent the majority of it in training. After having spent the last 2 1/2 days sitting still {the hardest part} in a chair, it felt great to get back to my classroom with my kiddos! I met them on the playground today and almost got knocked to the ground with hugs! My kids are the best!

Now back to the 8 days part! Ready for rest and relaxation…yes.I.am! Freaking out just a little bit about paperwork, packing, meetings, paperwork, and documentation that needs to be completed…..yes.I.am! Thank heaven for a long weekend to get a head start on wrapping things up, so I can concentrate on making great memories over these last few days because one thing is for sure….they will go by at the speed of light!

Since I spent most of the week out of the classroom, here’s a quick “catch up” over a little of what we’ve been up to recently….


We just wrapped up our measurement unit. I love mixing a little literature into our math block as often as possible. With measurement, we read several different versions of Jack and the Beanstalk as an introduction to each lesson. On this day, we used the giant’s boot coming down the beanstalk to explore area. After reading the story, each kiddo illustrated a beanstalk down the middle of their page to divide it in half. We discussed using the boot as their measurement tool for making comparisons….to decide if items covered less area or more area. Students walked around the room and placed items on top of the boot to make comparisons. If the they could still see the boot, it covered less. If the boot disappeared, it covered more. Sweet, simple……and FE, FI, FO, FUN!


Everything grows a little bigger in Texas, even beanstalks….or in the case of Waynetta and the Cornstalk by Helen Ketterman, cornstalks.  Students used area tiles to build their own cornstalk design, then colored to transfer the design to grid paper, and counted the number of squares used to determine the amount of area covered. You can get another glimpse of this little activity by taking a quick look at my Instagram page. Don’t forget to follow!


Math station skills review has been SUPER! Students are reviewing lots of skills to get ready for second grade! You can check out this little activity to generate and determine the value of numbers by clicking HERE.


I couldn’t come back after being gone most of the week without a little fun up my sleeve! Today was letter ‘R’ on our ABC countdown. In honor of all things R, we visited Rainbow Town to meet our friend, Roy G. Biv. I great, big ole {puffy heart} LOVE directed drawings!!! After listening and following directions to draw Mr. Biv, students used crayons and watercolor paints to give him a splash of color….afterall, there’s no wasted space in Rainbow Town. Bright, beautiful color is a MUST! =)


Here’s a closer look. What do you think? 

Enjoy these last few days……and if you’re already out…..(don’t mention it). Ha! =)

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Bright Idea~Setting the Atmosphere

Hey, Friends! How are ya? Thanks for stopping by to check out my bright idea for this month!


Do you have a favorite store or restaurant that you absolutely LOVE to shop in or go to for a family dinner? A favorite place you love to vacation? If you do, it’s likely because of the atmosphere that has been set for you to enjoy. Think about your favorite place to be. 

What is it about that place that draws you in.....that makes you want to get comfy and stay a while?


The atmosphere in our classroom is set in such a way each morning that it helps us to walk in, calm down and move forward with tasks to begin the day. Each morning, I walk through the same routine. The majority of the overhead lights are left off. Two lamps are turned on and quiet, instrumental music is set on the iPod to repeat. Morning work is projected onto the whiteboard and the morning message is written.

With all of the awesome sauce that we splash over the walls of elementary classrooms, sometimes we have to take a step back and realize it can be a bit much! Beginning the day this way serves as a calming start………


…….and we keep it this way throughout the entire morning while working through our Daily 5 routine.


The difference when the lights come back up……..BIG, lol! Sooooooo, they don’t stay on for long. After working through our math block with all lights on, we end the day again with dimmed lights to concentrate during writer’s workshop. A simple idea….but one that has a great effect on our daily routine!

If you enjoyed this bright idea, please consider joining me on Facebook for daily updates......more great ideas to come!

For more bright ideas from almost 100 different bloggers, please browse through the link-up below and choose a topic/grade level that interests you. Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

A “Quacktacular” Gift for YOU!

Have you begun to review skills as we wind down the year? If you’re a TX Firstie, this will be a fun way to review skills before administering EOY testing. Skills included in this little freebie are magnitude comparisons, number sequences, place value, addition and subtraction. I’m so excited about having time this summer to put together more of the ideas floating around in my head! Only 19 more days to go!

My kiddos are gonna flip when they get their hands on this write the room activity! Cut the cards apart and hang them around your classroom. Provide each student with a recording sheet. Group them according to your preference and let them go to work! Write the room is a fun way to get kids up and out of their seats to complete tasks that they might otherwise find a little difficult to sit through.

I hope your kiddos will enjoy it! Click the pic below to grab it! Thanks for following along in the Firstie fun! I think you’re “quack”tacular!!! Enjoy the rest of your teacher appreciation week! You deserve it…….and that’s a fact, Jack!

Write the Room_TEMIreview1314

Sunday, May 4, 2014

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week!

Hi, Friends! How are ya? I’m linking up with blogging pals to share about the upcoming TPT Teacher Appreciation Sale!

Because we had such a fun time working through our Peter H. Reynolds’ author study, I thought I’d give you a closer look at our creativity inspired week!  The Dot, Ish, and Sky Color are my ABSOLUTE favorite books on the planet! Want to get to know me a little better? Read Ish….thinking –Ishly allows my ideas to flow freely. Life is meant to be lived creatively!


Before diving into the trilogy, we kicked off the week with a little Mouse Painting. After reading the book and retelling the story, we titled it Mouse Feet in order to connect to our phonics skill for the week: long e.


We also made connections to math and grammar by using comparative adjectives to describe growing dot artwork. Of course, it wasn’t complete until it was framed in a little swirly gold!


Creating our own gallery-ish was a LOT of fun! Students connected to the story by drawing their own –ish pictures. The best part? Crumpling it up at the end and throwing it across the room!  The best part for me was watching my students' eyes light up as we completed each story. They got it! They really got the message and were able to make connections from one story to the next as each new character was introduced and continued the storyline through the series.


After the last friend tossed their story in, we moved to the carpet to share. Usually, we’ll share a few at a time. With such excitement in the room, we ended up sharing each and every one! They also liked the excitement of having each drawing revealed as it was opened up to reveal things like a….




a ninja-ish,


a robot-ish,


and a car-ish!


We even found our unique sky color by creating a mural. Next year, if I do this activity again, we’ll use white paper.

Seeing my kiddos so happy learning and enjoying my favorite stories on the planet was a total joy….extending the learning into literacy stations, EVEN moreso! After introducing stations and explaining what skills we would be reviewing by using them, students were eager to check in and ready to get their hands on them! And you wanna know what?! You could’ve heard a pin drop! They were working and I mean…REALLY working, involved and engaged in doing their individual best. Once the newness wore off just a bit, they also began engaging in conversations, discussing the stories and actively working together. I kept hearing all over the room….. “I get it!”...Lightbulbs were coming on all around the room and I love that they were loving what they were learning.


In work on writing, students practiced using punctuation, writing on topics of personal interest and comparing and contrasting using a venn diagram.


In word work, students chose from activities to practice using idioms, building words with long spelling patterns, sorting by suffix and adding to their poetry journals. One thing I try to do, as often as possible, is incorporate books in station activities. When I taught PreK, it was drilled into us to incorporate books into centers as often as possible.  It’s been a habit that has stuck with me. If I do not have a book that connects well with the activity, students can read from their personal book boxes at each station. They carry them to every station rotation.


The little eyes on top….are there because we generally use the pocket chart to “see and sort”. =)

You can grab this little packet of goodies during the BIG Teacher Appreciation Sale at TPT! It starts tomorrow! Don’t miss it! I know I’ll be doing a little shopping to help us reach the finish line….only 23 days left!

The Dot

I’ll also have May morning work wrapped up and posted before the sale ends! Thanks for stopping by, friends. I appreciate you and will be sharing s few FREEBIES throughout the week as my little gift to YOU!

Stay tuned…..

Friday, May 2, 2014

Five for Friday~A Whole Lotta Random

Hi, Friends! How are ya? I’m dropping in to share a whole lotta randomness from this past week. I’ve got to blog quickly because my daughter is giving me the side eye for missing part of yet another Avengers movie! We’re watching Captain America and I think…..I think, now I can finally put all the pieces to all of the avengers back stories together….I think. I KNOW she can! Can you say obsessed?


One of the most exciting things about this week was releasing our butterflies! 5 of our 6 little friends made it safely from caterpillar to butterfly in our care. Unfortunately, we had to have a conversation about life and death because one of them did not make it. The kids handled it really well and celebrated by releasing the little ones that survived. As each one left the net, they squealed with excitement!


After releasing our new little painted ladies, it was time to begin a new round of station activities! {I’ll be back to share a little more about those later!} 


Do you use poetry journals in your classroom? One way, we use poetry throughout the year is by keeping a poetry journal at word work. We use lots of different poetry resources for sight words, phonics, and seasonal themes. Poems change about every 2 weeks-ish. How do I keep track of who has added a poem to their journal and who hasn’t? See the little number in the top corner? Those are students’ classroom numbers. Every time a new poem is put into stations, I number them. Students are only allowed to get the one with their number on it. Soooooooo, the numbers that are left…..{naughty, naughty} tell me exactly who has not added a new poem to their journal!

Most of my students enjoy working with their poetry journal because when they do, they also get to share it from the author’s chair as part of our transition for the next mini-lesson! Only 2 students are allowed at any 1 activity in stations so it doesn't take long at all.


Our first attempt at planting was an epic FAIL! We grew butterflies, like bosses….BUT bean plants….not so much! As we continued with non-standard measurement, we incorporated a little writing in math with our own versions of Jack and the Beanstalk. Students wrote to retell the story and make comparisons to different things that the beanstalk could grow to be bigger than. We squeezed in one more attempt at growing our own little beanstalks while students wrote their stories. Can you please bow your head now and say a quick word of prayer for our plants? We NEED all the help we can get! 

Whew! Thanks! =)


We also explored choosing appropriate units of measurement with a little measurement stations activity. This is what we doodled to use as our recording sheet. Yep! We doodle a lot! {LOVE!}  After listening and following directions to create our recording sheets, student groups were given 10 minutes at each station to choose a classroom item to measure and record the number of units used, the name of the unit and illustrate. 4 tables, 4 units of measurement, 4 windows on our foldable. Students ONLY opened the window for the specific station they were visiting in order to record their work. For example, while at Table 4, they measured using pencils as their unit and only flap 4 was open to write and draw inside of. 

Telling students how much time they have is a great motivator to keep it movin’ without a lot of lag time. Displaying the timer helps them to see the time winding down and monitor their own progress without hounding them too much. Self management…yep, I can get with that!


What’s that they're measuring, you say? Oh, just one of the best transition tools on the planet! That’s our rain stick. Not being one to actually measure much in real life, I ordered it thinking it would be much smaller. Boy was I surprised!! Care to guess how many unifix cubes it took to measure its length? Yeah, they could’ve used a bigger unit of measurement, but where would the fun in that be? Stay tuned….

….more measurement mania to come!


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