Saturday, July 30, 2011

Handwriting Help

Dear Brain,

I need to re-train you in about a month.  My district has made the switch from D'Neilian to Zaner Bloser.  I know you have helped me for over 25 years....making "monkey tails" on all of my perfect slanted letters.  Now, you have to help my pencil, white board marker and pens make smooth, straight, blunt lines.  No more curls, tails, or swoops.  Can we do it? 

A Freaked Out First Grade Teacher

What is a girl to do?  I learned D'Neilian in school and have been teaching it for 9 years.  Our district made the appropriate developmental choice, but oooooooo, I think it will be real hard to teach this old dog new tricks.  : )   Ok...I'm not that old, but still....   Please reassure me that it will be ok....I've already had a freak out moment when the new letter line wouldn't fit in the perfect place where my old one went above my white board.  I have since settled down and found a new home for Mr. Zaner that I can live with...wish me luck!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Must-Have Resource for Readers Workshop

Do you teach using Readers Workshop in your classroom? 
You have to get your hands on this book:

First Grade Readers by Stephanie Parsons.  The foreword is by the one and only Kathy Collins, author of Growing Readers.  It is a fast read and actually fun to read!  : )  I discovered it when I was participating in Teacher Lab in my district.  Click HERE to read more about Teacher Lab.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Book Shopping Lists....another freebie

I scheduled this post to come out while I am on a vacation (minus Internet) so that I didn't leave my favorite people (YOU) hanging for too long.  I also just realized that I have been in a pretty giving mode lately...I get all excited when I can grab something for free, and I'm hoping you do, too! is another piece of free from me to you!  (Yes, I do have a TPT and a Teachers Notebook store...feel free to shop store links are just to your right...) 

Click on the picture below to download a pdf file of Book Shopping Lists.  (The document will open in Google Docs, two shopping lists per page.)  I use these book shopping cards for my kids when they shop for Readers Workshop independent books out of my classroom library.  I print them on card stock, put their names on the backside with a label, laminate them and use a Sharpie to write their lists.  When the child's level changes, you can use a Magic Eraser to erase the Sharpie (as long as it is on the lamination and not under it!) and write in their new levels.  For example, if Luke was independently reading at a level 6, I would fill out his shopping list like this:  

2 books from level 4  (easy)
5 books from level 6 (just right)
1 book from level 8 (challenge)
1 Look Book

The look book is just an extra fun book or magazine for the kids' bags that they may or may not be able to read.  Once I can get back into my classroom, I will take pictures and post about my library.  I am a book district Reading Coach told me I seriously have to stop buying books or I am going to run out of nooks and crannies to store them!

I am going to print only the bees for my class.  If you want, you could print a little of each so everyone in your class had one to pick from to make them a little more personal.  All clip art is from the one and only, Scrappin Doodles.  Love them!!!

Monday, July 25, 2011

More Freebies...Frogs, Ladybugs and Bees

I went a little overboard with Scrappin Doodles purchases yesterday and was in a little bit of a creative mood...I needed to make myself some new table number signs to hang on the sides of the table bins (that I have yet to find this year) for my kiddo's tables.  I have a bee theme in my room so I made bee table signs, but I also made ladybug table signs (those are for you...Andrea, from Stepping Into First) and some frog numbers for you amphibian loving teachers out there.  I hope someone can use them!!!  Click on the set you are interested in and they will open in a pdf through Google Docs.  There are enough signs in each set for 6 tables.

 I plan on laminating these with my latest find:

a personal Purple Cow Hot/Cold laminator from Costco.  It was only $18.00 and came with 200 pouches!!!!  I have no idea why I needed it...our school has a perfectly fine commercial sized laminating machine, so please tell me what you use your personal laminator for if you also own one.  : )

One more thing...I had a couple of you who couldn't open my welcome packet in my previous post.  I have emailed it to should be in your inbox.  Also, I had a question about how I embed my documents into my posts.  I have figured it out only for documents in Word format.  Once it is uploaded in Google Docs, it gives you a html code that you have to copy and paste into your post (make sure you select the EDIT HTML tab at the top of your post box before you paste the code in).  I cannot for the life of me find out how to do this for pdf documents that I have uploaded into Google Docs.  If anyone knows, I would love to hear from you in my comment section.  : )

I am off on a vacation on Wednesday and will not have access to the Internet until after the weekend!!!!  AAAHHHHH!!!!!  Stay tuned...I will have some treats for my followers when I return...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Welcome Packet for Parents

I was editing my Welcome Packet/First Grade Handbook for Parents and thought I would share.  I would have appreciated something like this in my earlier years of teaching!  Of course, if I didn't have this by now, I would have appreciated it just as much in the middle of my career.  : )  Feel free to download and change what you need to make it more personal for yourself and your class.  I left it in Word format so you are able to edit it as you see fit.  Enjoy!

**I have been hearing (at various different times) the document below isn't showing up...Google Docs drives me CrAzY!  If you can't see anything below, trying clicking HERE.**
If that doesn't work, email me and I will get it to you.  (I'm away on vacation minus Internet until August 2nd, so please be patient.)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Math Fun with Potato Heads

After playing and building Potato Heads with my own two kids, I brainstormed an addition game to play with my first graders. (School seems to always be on the brain!) Enjoy the free download for your classroom by clicking on the wonderful creation my kids made for Mrs. Potato Head's photo shoot! I would love to hear from you if you download the game by leaving me a comment!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Box Tops and Campbell's Labels for Education

Does your school collect Box Tops or Campbell's Labels For Education (LFE)?  Box Tops will give you 10 cents for each label and LFE points add up so you can spend them in their rewards catalog.  Every year, our amazing PTO holds contests through out the school year to see which class can collect the most labels and Box Tops.  The rewards range from Popsicle parties to an extra recess for the winning class.  This past year, I won the Box Tops contests all year and the LFE contest!  I had over 9,000 LFE and the second place class had 3,000.  How did I win by a landslide?  Good ol' bribery.  : )  My kids can earn a point sticker for each Box Top or label turned in to our collection box in our classroom.  The point stickers get placed on the child's incentive sheet.  When they collect 10 stickers, they get a gumball from our gumball  machine and when they fill the whole sheet, they get to pick from our prize box.  My prize box has books from Scholastic, fast food toys, trinket items from the Dollar Tree, etc.  I have kids telling parents to only buy cereal with Box Tops on the boxes or to peel the soup label off the can before they even eat the soup!  Love it!

Here are my bee theme incentive charts and stickers from Carson Dellosa.  I have a bee theme in my is fun to find all of the coordinating stuff!  My teaching partner, Andrea from Stepping Into First Grade, has a ladybug room.  Check out her latest purchase at her blog. 
(Click on the picture to go directly to the site to purchase.)  

Here is my gumball machine.  The kids LOVE this!  I found it at the Salvation Army and it was well worth the money!  Being able to chew gum in school is the ultimate prize!  : )

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Classroom Celebration Tip and a Freebie

Do you celebrate holidays in your classroom with a celebration of some sort?  Do you have parents sign up to donate items or to volunteer their time at the party?  For years, I would put sign-up sheets out at Curriculum Night (early September) for parents to write their name and phone number if they could donate a food item or their time.  Then...when the holiday finally came, I was digging out those sign-up sheets, making tons of calls (I rarely come across a "room mom" that will help out with that kind of stuff), playing phone tag, and getting very frustrated!  A few years ago discovered a FABULOUS site that makes party planning so much easier!  WIKISPACES!  A week before the party is going to happen, I set up a wiki space and email the link to my parents.  They can sign up at their own leisure and I can check on the site to see the progress.  Click HERE to see an example from last year's Winter Celebration.  Next winter, I will just erase the kids' names and resend the link to my new set of parents.  So easy and it's free!  I use wikispaces for every celebration, for parent teacher conference sign up and more.

I was cleaning out my school files and came across my birthday note to parents.  Our school policy is that birthday treats be sent home.  This birthday note explains the rules and suggests what to send in with the birthday child.  If you are interested, click on the birthday girl for a free download. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Get Paid To Shop!

Would you like to get paid to shop?  Here is your chance!  Come to my new little shop at Teachers Notebook, spend some money and earn points.  For every dollar you spend, you will earn 5 points.  Points can be redeamed for gift cards to places such as Target, Lakeshore, Barnes and Noble and more!  How awesome is that???  The best part is that I am  holding a Grand Opening Sale and all of my items are $3.00 for a limited time.  Don't and get paid!

Click the banner below to go directly to my shop!

You will find:

Frog and Toad Are Friends Unit
Fun With Mo Willems' Pigeon Unit

 A Birthday Celebration Unit

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Teacher Lab and Reading Notebooks

In my district, we were fortunate to have a full time Reading Coach that helped K-5 teachers fully implement Reading Workshop this past year.  Part of her job was to hold Teacher Labs for K-5 teachers.  Teacher Labs allowed groups of teachers to enter another teacher's classroom to observe Reading Workshop.  There were 1-2 hosts in each grade level and around 8-10 teachers who would watch the host teacher in each lab group.  We were able to observe our host 3 times during last year.  It was so successful, we are doing it again this coming school year.  I can't wait!  It is always fun and refreshing to go into another teacher's classroom to learn new things and to confirm that you ARE doing the right thing in your own classroom!  : )  Attached to the lab was also some reading assignments from books like Growing Readers and The Book Whisperer.  We would meet to discuss our reading assignment, discuss what we were about to observe, participate in the observation, break for lunch (together at a nice sit-down often do teachers get to do that???), come back and discuss what we observed and made plans for the next lab date.

During one of our lab days, I discovered these AWESOME reading notebooks.  Our coach had one and showed us how to make them.  They are on my summer to-do list to make for my new students this coming year.  The first grade classroom that used them had poems (trimmed to fit) glued in the pages.  They used the notebook at the beginning of independent reading as a "warm-up."  The ribbon made for a great book mark.  I suppose older grades could use them for a reading response journal.  

You will need a composition notebook, fun ribbon, a hot glue gun and some sort of name label for the cover.

Hot glue the ribbon (about 2 inches) to the inside back cover near the spine.  If your ribbon is one sided, glue the pretty side down. 
Bring the ribbon up and over the pages like a book mark.

Add the name label (I used a piece of scrapbook paper and a flare pen).
What do you use for reading notebooks?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Magic Behavior Management

In our school, we have a large population of children with ASD (Austistic Spectrum Disorder) and many of the first graders are mainstreamed into my classroom.  I LOVE those kids!!!!  Their teachers have used this behavior management tool with their kids who have ASD and I modified it to work for some of my general ed. kiddos.  Here's how it works...using a craft stick with velcro dots, attach pattern blocks (green, yellow, red) to the stick.  When a child is acting or doing something inappropriate, you say "that's one" and pull the green sqaure and move it to the back side of the stick.  Sometimes all it takes to get a behavior to stop is to show the child the stick.  When all 3 squares are pulled, the consequence is given.  In most of the situations with our children with ASD, a time out is given.  It is amazing how powerful this tiny idea can be in a classroom!

For my general ed. students I have used this with, I attach a behavior contract to the idea.  I have attached a sample using Google Docs in a Word format so you can change it to meet your needs.  In this exampple, the child had the stick reloaded after lunch if any squares were lost before lunch.  The boxes are for you to mark what colors are still left on the stick.  If the child lost only one, you would leave the 1st square blank, color the 2nd square yellow and the 3rd square red.  I have had cases that I had to break sections of the day down into each subject because the child would have lost all 3 squares in the first hour of the day!  I do give rewards to kids who keep all 3 squares on the stick.  For example, if they keep all 3 on for a whole day they can pick out of my prize basket or get a gumball from our gumball machine.  Click HERE to check out our gumball machine. 

On a more personal note, I use this with my kids at home as well.  If they loose 3 squares, they owe me time in the time out chair in the kitchen.  (I reload it after nap time.)  I took it with me to the grocery store one day and another mom saw me pull it out and tell my child he was going to loose a square if he didn't pull it together.  Instantly, he was behaving.   She wanted to know where she could buy one of those sticks from!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Winner, Beaches, and Babies

Random, random, random...that is what you get when you have been without Internet access for a WEEK!  It was torture! 

Delaney White, you are my winner...thanks for voting.  Leave me a comment with your email and the 4 items you would like from my TPT store and I will email those to you.  Thanks for voting!

I went to the most beautiful lake this past week!  If you ever get the chance to visit the northern part of the lower peninsula of Michigan, you have to see Torch Lake.  It looks like the Caribbean waters!  It is completely sandy with crystal blue water that you can see straight through all the way to the bottom.  Check out my baby at Torch Lake and my other baby at the beach.  (They aren't quite babies
While I was relaxing on the beach, I have been drumming up some great ideas to post for school fun.  I will be posting soon...thanks for hanging in there!

Friday, July 1, 2011

If you vote, you can win too!

I've been nominated for the Really Good Stuff Classroom Blog Contest!  Please vote by clicking on the picture below.  You can vote everyday now through July 7th!  Each time you vote, leave me a comment and you will be entered to win 4 items of your choice from my TPT store!  One vote a day for 7 days equals 7 entries to win my stuff.  A winner will be randomly chosen on July 8th.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!