Saturday, November 1, 2014

Organization Station for Small Groups!

If you're anything like me, your small group area gets piled up with stuff rather quickly. As a first grade teacher, I'm always looking for fun and novel things to motivate my little readers. So where does one put all of this fun must have stuff???? Well.... I must admit, until this year I had no real system in place to store my small group materials. I'd find myself searching for my comprehension things, tearing apart a shelf to find my fun pointers, and had leveled books in a crate on the floor divided up with folders. I was so sick of feeling unorganized during my small groups time of Reader's Workshop. So I decided to create a little organization station near my kidney table. I went to Walmart and bought 2 three drawer carts (click on the picture to take you right to it!):

I wanted big drawers to keep each of my small groups' books for the week.  I usually visit our school guided reading library once every two weeks to check out leveled books for my small groups. This way, I'm all set to go for small groups for 2 weeks at a time.

I also wanted to have a place for my other small group goodies so I bought another Sterilite drawer cart, this one has 4 drawers:
I like the shallower small drawers on top for things like pointers and extra copies of my conferring forms. The bottom 2 drawers hold my comprehension stuff and word work materials. I took the wheels off of each cart so they would stay stationary and lined up in a row! 

I knew that I had to create some fun labels for my drawers and that Melonheadz kids would be featured. Click on the picture below to check out my Small Groups Organization Station in my TPT store.

You can see everything in this pack in my preview!

I love having all of my small group materials in one place!

I just used numbers for each group. But if you distinguish groups
by COLOR, that option is included in my pack.

I hope this organization station can help you organize your small groups too!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Sensory Words w/ Applesauce :)

I'm excited to make applesauce in my first grade classroom tomorrow! I just love the smell of homemade applesauce on a cool Michigan fall day! Although the weather is going to be rather warm, 75 degrees... which I will totally take in September! During Writer's Workshop, we will be talking about sensory words and how writers use them to add PIZAZZ to any story. Click on the picture below to snag a copy of this applesauce sensory words recording sheet!
Happy fall!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Cultivating BRAVE young writers!

Well... it's week 2 and writer's workshop is in full swing! My first grader know how to get writing supplies, the noise level expectations, what to do in a writing conference, how to get a new pencil, where to get new paper, what to do when they think they're done, and finally.... what to do when they need to spell a tricky word! Which brings me to this post!

The first day of writer's workshop is always so exhausting! Kids are up out of their seats showing you their papers and all you can hear is, "How do you spell____?"  over and over again! I couldn't wait to get to the BRAVE lesson that I started doing last year. I thought that the song BRAVE by Sara Bereilles was absolutely perfect for this teaching point. I play the song for the kids (you can just find it on youtube) and we listen to JUST the chorus (there is a part at the very beginning that mentions the words "weapon" and "drug" so I skip that part and pause it right when the chorus is about to begin. The words ARE SO PERFECT for writing. The chorus says, "Say what you wanna say, and let the words fall out, honestly... I wanna see you be brave!" So many times, my first graders are hesitant to write because they don't know how to spell the words. When I conference with students and ask them to write what happened next, many of them say, "but I don't know how to write that." Then they end up avoiding writing just because they don't have the confidence to stretch out the words the best they can.

After this lesson, the chorus from the song is our mantra for spelling during writer's workshop! I love how it says to let the words fall out. I tell the kids to let their words fall out of their brains right onto their paper and to be BRAVE as they attempt to spell!

I made this little poster to post in our writing area as a reminder. Click on it below to download it for FREE from my TPT store. Don't forget to follow me so you don't miss my upcoming freebies!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Organizing Student Information!

I finally got my student information pack up and ready to go on TPT! 
Click on the picture below to check it out!

 Here's the cover I'm using for my student information sheets. 
I love anything with adorable melonheadz kids!

I use this "Getting to Know You" form at my open house to gather student information. I put them all together, put the cover on, and bind at the top! It hangs from a hook above my desk for easy access all year long!

This pack includes 4 editable cover pages, 1 complete getting to know you form, 1 editable getting to know you form, and a sample of my cover! Check it out!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

I Love IG Giveaway!

I was so thrilled to reach 500 followers on IG last week! To celebrate, I'm having my FIRST giveaway! I'm giving away a cute heart tote, an adorable pink & gold clip-folio (it's a clipboard/paper holder), a chevron J. Crew jewelry tray, and a hot pink polka-dotted hothairband (an awesome work out headband made by mom that DOES NOT MOVE off of your head). Could you tell I was kind of going for a theme with these goodies? You have the chance of getting 8 entries below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Meet the Teacher Linky!

Hi there! I'm a first grade teacher from Michigan. This is going to be my 10th year teaching... that seems so weird to say (and it also makes me feel old!). I am married to the love of my life and together we have an amazing little 2 year old boy! 

My best days are spent with my family, but I also love blogging, creating, crafting, and shopping whenever I can! This summer I've been busy working out (Jazzercise) and eating right. Our family spent a week together on the west side of the state relaxing and having fun on the water! I splurged this summer and got a custom blog design! I love it!

Getting ready to watch the sunset on Lake Michigan!


My family, Sunday mornings at church, playing cars with my boy, Jazzercise, wandering around Target, Chai tea Lattes from Starbucks, pizza, crafts, garage sales, a good breakfast, bright colors, all things chalkboard, first graders, the beach, shoe shopping, nail polish, LOFT

I love creating all things digital, so I know I'd love being a full time graphic designer! Creating things on my MacBook has become a serious hobby of mine!

ambitious...  dedicated...  busy body


"I wish summer was a little shorter...said no teacher EVER!!"


A Day in the Life... of teacher, wife, & mommy

Flying. As a child, I used to have continuous dreams about being able to fly... they were seriously the best dreams!


"Be the change that you wish to see in the world."- Gandhi


 "Eternal Flame" by the Bangles....

For some reason this is the one song I know all of the words to! It has something to do with singing it in my room as a child in 1988!


I am a complete morning person. The second my eyes open... I. AM. AWAKE!


 I really love my Leadership jobs and Leadership packs. I work at a school that is implementing The Leader in Me so these two products have helped me weave The 7 Habits into my classroom.


I have a huge collection of NRFB (never removed from box) Barbie dolls! I always thought I'd give them to my daughter, but things didn't work out that way, so I'm stuck with a rather large collection in my basement!

Join in the fun and link up below!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday Made It

I'm so excited to be linking up with Tara from 4th grade frolics for Monday Made it!

I've been slowly but surely working on a project for my classroom and it's finally done!!!!!

I created a leadership classroom decor pack for my classroom to highlight the Seven Habits in a bright and bold way!

I printed everything at the UPS store (color copies are 25 cents for teachers!!! Woo hoo!!!). 

I used my awesome Scotch laminator to laminate everything Then I went out and got the following supplies to brighten everything up:
-Document frames from The Dollar Tree (8 1/2" X 11")
-TOLSBY frames from IKEA- for the "7 habits of a happy table" signs
-4 different colors of spray paint

I also used my laminator and hot glue gun for this project.

1. Pop the glass out of the frames and spray them a bright color! I threw away the glass since the posters are already laminated. This also makes the framed poster super light to hang on the wall.

2. I trimmed the posters' laminated border and popped them into the painted frames.

3. I wanted to put one more final touch on the frames so I decided on black and white polkadot ribbon. For this part I cut the ribbons to be the same size. 

4. Then I put a little hot glue in the middle of the ribbon and pinched it together so it would stick. I did this so when they are hung on the wall, the ribbon is facing polkadot side out.

5. The last step was gluing the ribbon to the back of the frame so they can be hung. I plan on displaying the finished frames in my classroom. I've thought about displaying them around my door or up high at the front of the room. I'm going to play around with it to see where they look best!

After finding Scentos markers fro 95 cents at Staples last week, I immediately thought of student birthdays...which inspired my made it #2!

Everyone knows that first graders LOVE these things so I thought why not let them choose a SCENTO of their choice on their special day?!?!?! I whipped up these little tags to attach to them... they are free in my TPT store! I'm going to print them on card stock, punch a hole in the corner, and tie them to the markers with a colorful ribbon. 

****If you print these tags, print them at 60% so they aren't so big!****

So there you have first 2 Monday made its! Link up with Tara if you'd like to share something you've made!


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

All About Me Pennant FREEBIE!

I just posted an All About Me FREEBIE to my TPT shop. 

During the first week back to school, I love having my first graders share information about themselves with their classmates. This pennant is a quick activity to help with this! Students simply fill out the pennant, color, cut out, and share with the class. YOU can string all of the student pennants together with ribbon to make an adorable banner for your classroom or hallway. I'm thinking I might print the pennants on different bright colors, then string them together in a pattern. If my first grade teammates are on board, it would look so fun to string all 4 classes in our hallway for curriculum night.

Can you do me a favor?.... if you download this freebie, leave feedback please and thank you!!

Off to bed! 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Gem Shopping!

In my classroom I use a clip chart behavior system. I found a free clip chart on Pinterest that uses the seven habits language for each color. I use glittery clothespins with student numbers on them. Students begin each week on green (I am proactive and ready to learn!). Underneath the green is yellow, followed by orange, then red. Students who remain on green all week, earn a gem on Friday. I simply use a hot glue gun to glue the gems onto the student's pencil boxes (I purchase pencil boxes for everyone at the beginning of the year). I actually refer to them as "gem boxes" with my students. These gem boxes get covered with gems and the students are so proud of them! 

Gems are a big hit in first grade with the girls AND the boys. It's amazing to see how much the kids love gem shopping. I've been doing this for 8 years now, and it's probably the easiest, cheapest, most loved reward for making good choices. I buy the gems wherever I can find them! Joann's sells a big bag of them so I use a coupon and they are very reasonable. 
Because students have to stay on green EVERY. SINGLE. DAY of the week in order to gem shop... they are very conscious of their behaviors and understand from day one that it only takes one move on the clip-chart to lose out on a gem. For some students, it only takes one mistake and they learn from it real quick! For others, gem shopping may not be as important. In these cases, individual behavior plans may be necessary. But overall, gem shopping is a big motivator and is always a big hit in my classroom.
So if you're looking for an easy little reward for making good choices, try out GEM SHOPPING!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Must Read Monday- The Looking Book

The Looking Book by P.K. Hallinan is my favorite book to break out during the introduction of my poetry unit! I start teaching poetry by having my kiddos collect "notes" on ordinary things. But there's a catch... they must look at these ordinary things in "fresh new ways." On day 1, I have the kids take notes on objects I provide. On day 2, I ask kids to bring in their own objects to take notes on. On day 3, I read "The Looking Book" and we venture outside and collect notes on things we see in the environment.

The Looking Book is about 2 brothers who just want to stay inside and play. Their mom tries to get them to go outside to play but gets resistance. So the mom decides to whip out "Lookers" to encourage the boys to get out there and explore! The "lookers" are just plain black glasses but are a novelty for the brothers. The boys go outside wearing their lookers and soon discover extraordinary things in the ordinary outside! This book has rhyming text and a wonderful message about seeing the world through fresh new eyes... perfect to jumpstart any poetry unit!

I bought 25 pairs of black glasses in the party favor aisle at Target. I simply pushed out the sunglass lenses and had a class set of "lookers' for this fun lesson! The kids look so adorable wearing their "lookers" and holding their clipboards as they see the outside world in a fresh new way!

Thank you teachingmaddeness for hosting this linky party!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Father's Day FREEBIE!

This Father's Day FREEBIE is an easy, low prep card that students can make for their dads!
First I read this Scholastic book to get the kids thinking about their dads...
Then I have students make their own TOP TEN LIST...

Next, students use a TIE TEMPLATE (included in the freebie) to trace and cut out a tie on patterned/colored paper. They glue the tie to the front of a business size envelope that has been prepped by: cutting off the top, cutting a slit down the middle,  and folding down the collars. The TOP TEN LIST slides into the top of the envelope and makes the perfect thoughtful card for dad!
Click here to download this freebie. Please leave me some feedback if you download! 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Learning Target Organization! & Freebie!

I've worked hard over the past 2 years creating unit learning targets for all subject areas. I print them off, laminate them, and post them on my learning targets board during each unit of study. When a unit ends, I find the next unit's learning targets to post. This has definitely been a work in progress project of mine over the past 2 years. It feels good to be able to have a strong handle on the curriculum and what I'm teaching in each subject area. These unit target sheets have really focused my teaching and make my first graders completely aware of the expectations.

This year I had one folder labeled "learning targets" on the front. I just stored all of the subject areas in this one folder. The problem was, when I went to get a particular unit, I could never find it! So I decided to organize the unit target pages by subject area. I bought 4 folders from Walmart and made labels to go on the front. These folders have really made locating a particular unit's targets a breeze! Click here to download the labels for free!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Celebration of Learning!

In the spring, my school does a celebration of learning instead of traditional parent/teacher conferences. This celebration varies from grade to grade, but this post is about how it works in first! The block of time is in the evening and I started this year at 4:30 and went until 7:00. I sent home 30 minute blocks of time for parents to choose from. Parents were asked to list their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choice. Once I got the choices back, I created a schedule. I don't like to have more than 4 families in the classroom at a time. The children bring their parents into the classroom during their assigned block of time and just share their work. I created a page to guide the children's "sharing" of their work, see picture below:
I forgot to mention that we did a baseball theme for our celebration because it was opening day for the Detroit Tigers! So of course I did all things baseball! So the children began by sharing their leadership notebooks with their parents. Their leadership notebooks include reading, writing, math, and goals. Most of the information in their leadership notebooks is data on their individual growth in the classroom (no work samples). Then I made a cover page (baseball of course) for their published writing and the children shared their stories with mom and dad. Next, I had students grab their poetry notebooks from their book baskets and share some of their favorite poems. They absolutely loved that part! Finally, I gave them a choice to share their wise owl words (big vocabulary words), CAFE strategies and how they work, our classroom leadership jobs, or the contents of their Reader's Notebook.  It was so amazing to see my first graders taking full responsibility of their learning. My students know what's in their leadership notebooks and where they are at in their learning. I use individual tracking progress pages for every unit of study and these are also kept in the leadership notebooks.  I set up the tables with a big paper baseball in the center, a helium balloon, leadership notebooks, published writing, and the "You Just Hit a Homerun" page on top. I found baseball easter eggs and filled them with goodies for the kids when they came in. I can confidently say that this year's celebration of learning was a "hit!"

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Fraction Fun!

I just finished a new product and posted it on my TPT store. First graders can really relate to food, so I found some fun pizza fraction clipart from Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah Designs and got busy creating! I started out just making a "scoot" fraction game and couldn't help but add more. It's called Pizza Party Fraction Scoot and MORE! Click on the link to check it out!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Valentine's Day Book: gift for parents

This week my students will be making a Valentine's book for their parents/loved ones. My talented writer friend Melissa wrote the words for it and I created the book. To make it more personal, I took a picture of every child "blowing" hearts from their hand. This photograph will be put on the last page of the book. It will surely put a smile on every parent's face this Valentine's Day! Check it out at my TPT store  if you're interested :) Download the preview to see the words and example of the "blowing" hearts photograph.