Sunday, December 14, 2014

Let the Countdown Begin...

One week left... I think I've been counting down the days since Thanksgiving.  Don't get me wrong, I love my kids, but let's be real, it's just that time of the year where they talk a little more, can sit still for about 5 minutes (on a good day!) ... yeah it's time we all have a break.  In order to keep all of us sane, I make sure to embrace the holiday season.  I know some might say that this encourages their "restless behavior," but I love celebrating the holidays, too!  Here are some things that I am currently doing in my class.  There are LOTS freebies in the post so PLEASE read all the way down!

1.  Elf in the Classroom -  It can pretty much be found in anyone's home or classroom now...  infamous Elf on the Shelf who does naughty things and keeps and eye on the kids for Santa.  Well my class named him "Hezekiah" (he is a student's brother's name) and he's much more of a silly elf than anything.  I started off with a letter (you can find lots of freebie letters here).  I love seeing their innocence and how they just eating everything I say up.  We read his favorite book "The Polar Express," and I ring the bell that is in the stocking he came in (all the kids make sure they can still hear it lol)! I move him around the room at the end of the day after school lets out  and if they have a good day "he" will bring in treats (candy canes, pencils, Little Debbie cakes etc.)  Here are some of the places he's been in my room.

Here he got caught eating one of the snacks he brought the class!  

 He's hanging from one of our group signs!

2.  Mystery Pictures (Winter Holiday Pictures) - This is the time of year when my students aren't as um.. focused.  We have loads of formal district, school wide, and benchmark assessments so I basically NEED them to stay focused. I created this mystery picture packet a couple years ago as something fun, but full of review and math practice.  They LOVE these pictures.  There's lots of ways to differentiate for different levels.  Click the picture or here for a freebie!  I'm sure your kids will stay engaged while practicing critical math skills. 
 Click for the Freebie!

Click the picture if you are interested in the whole packet! 

3.  Holidays Around the World - This will be my 3rd year doing "Holidays Around the World."  This year I'm only spending a week on it and my teammates and I will be spending one of those  days rotating our class so we can get 3 done in a day! There are LOTS of ideas and resources on pinterest and TpT.  I use What the Teacher Wants "Holidays Around the World Part I and II" Packet  !  I print out the student pages and turn it into a book that they fill out as they learn about each holiday tradition.

The students receive a boarding passpassport (thanks to Rachelle from What the Teacher Wants for the freebie), and this year I'm providing each student with a map (Thanks to Sarah from Sarah's First Grade Snippets).

Everyday we will go to a country, I find video snippets or books (depends whats available, lots of links in the packet) and the students fill out their book.  They get a stamp in their passport and make a craft.  This year for one day my teammates and I will each host a country and complete the lesson with all the first grade classes (there's only 3 of us ) !  So many standards taught through this activity (map skills, traditions, culture, family ... and of course literacy standards)!

4.  All Aboard the Polar Express - The last day of school before break all my students get on the Polar Express and make their way to the North Pole.  We use the book as our weekly read aloud where I choose several words for vocabulary and work with the story throughout the week (Day 1 - Read for pleasure Day 2 - summarize, focus on 5 vocabulary words Day 3 - make vocabulary flash cards Day 4 - I read the book and students put up their vocabulary flash card when they hear the word in the story).    On Friday, we will watch the movie!  Students will change into their pajamas, I give them tickets (freebie Thanks to Love to Learn!) and as they watch the movie, serve them snacks and hot cocoa.  I use it as a behavior tool all week because they have to earn their seat on the "train." 

I hope you will be able to use some of these activities for your classroom or even next year!  Have a great week and let the countdown begin...!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Trick or Treating... all over the WEB! (Loaded with Freebies!)

My students have been waiting since September to do anything that is related to the "H Word" ... yes Halloween!  I remember doing calendar math and asking  what month is after September and they all said Halloween.  Well since then, they got know that October is the month after, but they still have Halloween on the brain!

I have a strict scope and sequence to follow in all subject areas so that means any thematic studies occur during Math and Reading.  I never get to go "all out" bats , spiders, or pumpkins as I see many of my teacher friends get to do, but I'm glad I can still fit it in somewhere.  My resources include freebies (gotta love those!), purchased items, and some that I made. This was my version of trick or treating all over the web!  I hope you can find some things you can use!

This week we focused on bats during our literacy block.  On Tuesday, I read "The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat."  The kids got a kick out of it!  We reviewed sequencing and how it helps us retell a story.  I found this quick activity (FREEBIE!) that the students were able to complete in their reading journal from  Sharing Kindergarten .  Click the link and download the free preview.  The sequencing activity is included as a freebie.

For our main read aloud this week (we work on this read aloud for 3-4 days and use it to learn new vocabulary and reinforce our focus comprehension skill) was "Stellaluna."  We created bats and retold the story ( beginning, middle, and end).  I really want to focus on getting my kids to write down their answers and not just orally retelling.  Using the bat was great because there was just enough space for them to focus on the important  events.     I cut out the parts for my kids to save time and then drew lines on a slightly smaller version (used the copy machine to shrink them to about 80%), copied those and had them cut out those pieces to glue onto their bat.  My wonderful teammate found the pattern and from there I sort of freehanded it to get the right size.    I attached template (I didn't use this exact one, but I wanted to share something!) and all you would have to do is add lines!  Click here!

In small group, I used 3 different leveled readers from my group.  One was from Deanna Jump's Bats Math and Literacy Packet.  The other two came from A-Z Reading.  I signed up for a 2 week free trial since my school hasn't renewed our subscription yet. If you don't use it , I would definitely sign up for the trial!  I love using their leveled readers for my small groups.    Here are the two leveled readers used for our non-fiction reading on bats!     "Bats"  (this is level O and my high group read this with assistance)  "Bats Day and Night"  

In my small group, we also worked on segmenting sounds.  Yeah, I already had various versions of sound boxes, but I couldn't pass up a freebie.  I first had my students use pumpkin erasers to segment sounds and then I had them practice writing the letters for each sound.  I found this freebie from Teach 123 - Michelle.  She has a whole seasonal packet with 3-5 word sound boxes for FREE!

We also made some creepy crawlers for our work with short e and used it to make a quick and cute bulletin board (Web of Words).  I used Thank God it's First Grade's spider word families activity. The kids LOVED it!   Tip:  To save time, tape the legs to the body for your students  and then have the students complete the rest of the craft.

We will have more seasonal fun in math this upcoming week, but I did use roll and cover mats from my Monster Math Unit!  Click to download the freebie - my treat to you!  If you would like more monster math fun you can purchase the whole activity pack from my TpT store.  I will be using more of the activities this week for "monster week."  First 2 people that comment (leave an email)  can get the whole Monster Math Unit for FREE!

I hope you were able to find something that you could use in your own class.  In the upcoming days, I will be adding some of the activities we are doing this week.  Check back soon for some more "treats!"

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Five for Friday..ish

Linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching and doing Five for Friday!  I know it's technically not Friday.. but let's just pretend I linked up on time!

 Well if you have visited me before, you can see that my blog has had a MAKEOVER!  I absolutely LOVE it!  Tenille over at Designs by Tenille did an AMAZING job!  I just answered a few questions, made some requests, and she did the rest.  It was such an a quick and easy process (2 week turn around time) if you are looking for a new look, make sure to check her out.
 In Social Studies, we are learning about location.  Many of my students have never had the opportunity to leave their neighborhoods so location can be sort of a difficult concept for them to understand.  I used the books "Where I Live" and "Me on the Map" to help explain that we can be in multiple places at once and they immedielty got it (a lot faster than previous years). I gave them a little book of their own to fill in as we read the book "Where I Live".  It took about 4 days to complete.   Click the picture for the FREEBIE!  Next week, we will focus on the names of all the continents and oceans.  We will also complete a circle map where they will independently identify their street name, city, state, and continent.  Look for a freebie in that upcoming post!)

 I spent Tuesday at a training.  I'm never happy to leave my kids, but this training was actually... really good and beneficial!  It was all about creating valid commen assessments.  I never find the perfect weekly formal assessments for math that align with what we teach every week so I'll usually cut and paste or make my own.  This training was about which questions should be on an assessment, how formatting makes a difference, the benefits (increase of 36% in student mastery) of students tracking their own progress (even at the Pre-K level), and how to differentiate on a test.   I definitely will post in more detail.  For right now, here is another freebie!  My kids are using  this as a DRA Tracker for the year.   Click the pic to download!  I made mine with a 1st grader in mine, but added a couple of blank pages that you can write in.  I also plan to test my kids 4 times this year because I have a smaller class size for EIP, I really think it's important they see their progress as much as possible.  I plan on creating a kid-friendly tracker  for the other subjects soon!

So this is completely not school related BUT I have to say I am in love my spin class. Sometimes its hard to get there after a LONG day, but I always have so much fun and burn so many calories, I don't have a lot of good excuses not to go.  During the school year, it's so easy for me to fall off my workout regime, but I'm determined to not let that happen this year.  I've been getting my co-workers to come with me so on the days I am "too tired", I have someone else holding me accountable.  Check out his class below.. and yes every class is like this!
KTX Fitness Instructor: Keith Thomspon

 And on another non-school related note.... I randomly picked a show to start watching on Netflix and now I'm hooked on "Army Wives." LOL yes, I might have picked it because I am an Army wife, but it's actually pretty good.  It will also fill that void until my usual Fall TV line up comes back... (Scandal, Grey's, Revenge, AHS...)

There's my five!  Enjoy the rest of your weekend!