My First "Back to School" Purchases for My New First Graders!

About Me

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Welcome! I hope to use this blog to share some of the amazing things my class and school does to make learning fun! I have been teaching for 15 years already! I started teaching 3rd grade in a Parochial School, then I was hired to teach 1st grade for three years, was moved to 5th grade for 2 years, and then came back to 1st grade in the district where I attended school. I love that I'm able to give back the the school district that guided me to become the teacher I am today! I have a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, certified 1-8; a Master's Degree in Curriculum and Instruction; and my Administrator License Pre-K-12.

Blogs I Love!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Spin and Spell

Michelle over at Michelle's Charm World created these amazing spellers!  I printed off her post and headed to the nuts and bolts aisle at Home Depot so that I could create my own!  I decided to start simple so I started with our short a word families:

I plan on using these for my Word Work learning activities.  The kiddos will be expected to write and then illustrate each word they find on the speller.

Here's the paper I whipped up for the kiddos to record their words:  Spin and Spell Worksheet

If you don't already follow Michelle, you just might want to take a peek!  She has some really cool stuff on her blog!  :)
Michelle's Charm World-A wonderful candy colored view inside my head!

It's Growing!

So the bark is painted!

But I still have some paper mache exposed!  :(  Plan B...spray paint??
Oh...and this is the rest of my classroom...
My Open House is in less than a month!!!!
Holy Cannoli!

Daily 5 Conference!

Yesterday was Christmas in July for me!  I woke up and was on the road early to be in Ypsilanti, Michigan to see "The 2 Sisters" present their Daily 5 Workshop!  Instead of sharing my personal notes on the day, I think I'll share the resources they gave us...there were a ton and needless to say...I have a whole other list of books I want to purchase and read! :)  If you've never heard of The Daily 5, it does not hold content.  Instead, it's a structure to teach your kiddos how to be independent (so that you can manage small groups and work one-on-one with kiddos).

If you ever get the opportunity to attend one of their workshops, I totally recommend it!  You can check out their tour schedule by visiting their website (listed below).  When I checked in I received their "handouts" that are in book (a REAL book) and DVD that shows a sample of their program in action along with your name tag and a pad of post-it notes.

But here's the best the day goes on, you receive the things they talk about as gifts!  I swear it was like Oprah's Christmas Special for a few of the teachers!  :)  Here's a picture of my gifts!

  • Dex, The Heart of a Hero by Caralyn Buehner and illustrated by Mark Buehner is a story about a daschund who wants to be a superhero.  It's a cute story that "The Sisters" use to help teach stamina to their students.
  • Falling Down the Page-A Book of List Poems edited by Georgia Heard is a book of poetry by several different poets.  It has some great ones to use all year!
  • We received a four pack of Eye Lighters that will help our readers with fluency, tracking and comprehension.  They are available in 4 different colors and we received all 4 colors-yellow, blue, green, and pink.  The website lists them at just $1.25 so I'll probably order enough to use in small groups with those kiddos who will benefit from them!  (There's research on the connection between the color and the success of the student.  Check out Reading By The Colors by Helen Irlen for details!)
  • We also received a small sand timer to help those kids with time management when they're reading or working.
  • The blue check mark is used for "Check for Understanding" which is a component of "Read to Someone" in their Daily 5 Workshop.  I found them on Learning Loft's website for $6.95 for a pack of 6-two red, two blue, and two green.  It's called a Check-A-Roo and I think I'll be ordering a class set of these...they're very durable and I think they just might survive the school year!
  • Our final gift of the day was a wind chime for us to help with transitions from one activity to the next.  I was worried that it would be too twangy and harsh, but when I got it home, I was was actually kind of calming.  It's a J.W. Stannard Wind Chime.  I didn't have any luck finding it on the J.W. Stannard website, but I did find it on Amazon (linked above) and as of today it's out of stock.  (Probably because there were like 400 teachers at yesterday's conference and "The Sisters" bought all of them for us.)

Then "The Sisters" shared all of the research they implemented into their program.  I loved this part because we know what works best for kids, but now we have the research! :)  Here's a list of their books and the research they used!

"The Sisters" also spoke very highly of the following people who have spent their lives researching what works best for children:
  • Richard L. Allington
  • Nancie Atwell
  • Regie Routman
  • Brian Cambourne
  • Ken Goodman
  • Dr. Ken
  • Michael Grinder
  • Randy Sprick
Tons of information!  Lots to think about!  A bit overwhelmed...but in a good way! :)

Monday, July 25, 2011

This School Year Will Be The Best!

Here's my first "REAL" share!  Everyone is always sharing all of their coolest ideas so I've created a few things to go along with a great book that I plan on using on our first day of school!

This School Year Will Be The Best!
Here's hoping that I linked it correctly and you can access it without drama...  :)  But...let me know if it's a little fuzzy and you'd like to have a clean copy e-mailed to you!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Tree Update!

Well I went into school this past week and applied the second coat of paper mache to my tree.  This time, I was a lot messier with it...the pictures may not be great but I crumpled and crinkled the newspaper before shlepping it all over the trunk.  It's been super hot here in Northern Ohio so I let it dry a good five days before heading back to paint.

So this morning after church and breakfast, I headed to my favorite hardware store...Home Depot!  God bless those employees!  Each time I go they are the nicest people in the world and not one of them has made me feel like a crazy person!  After talking to the nice paint lady about my creation and choosing my colors, she suggested that I use an Interior Flat Enamel paint.  I chose a color called Chocolate Curl (now could I go wrong with that?) as my top coat.  I also chose two other shades to blend in-Earth Tone, which is another brownish color and Dark Cavern that is almost black.  I'm hoping to use the other two colors to blend in to make the trunk look more "barky"!  :)

So here's my tree as of today!

I'm a little worried about the holes I have...but I still think I can make it work with my other colors!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Free Shoes!!!

I thought that might get your attention!  :)

Mrs. Tabb from Just Another Day in First Grade created this amazing unit about shoes to use during the first few weeks of school.  Her blog tells it all but she was attending a Project Based Learning conference and got inspired!  She apparently was talking to a group of teachers and they were talking about how excited our little friends are when they come to school in their brand new back to school shoes and so she got to work creating a unit on shoes!
Go and visit her blog at Just Another Day in First Grade and she'll give you the details!
I think I'm in the mood to do a little shoe shopping myself!  :)
Thanks to Mrs. Tabb for sharing her talents!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Linky Party-What Are You In Love With?

So Jennifer over at First Grade Blue Skies is hosting a linky party where we can post all of our loves.  What a great idea!

I need to be completely honest and tell you that I've been stalking these "Linky Parties" all summer and have yet to join one.  From what I've gathered linky parties seem to be a great way to share ideas and make connections with other teachers.'s the day!  I'm going to do it!  Even though I really have no idea what I'm doing...I'm going to try!  I already figured out how to type the name of Jennifer's blog in my post and have it work as a link back to her blog.  So far I'm pretty impressed with myself!  :)

So...a few of my favorite things!

1.  Our school mascot is a pirate so to instill school pride in my little friends, I have a lot of pirate themed decor in my classroom.  Our school colors are also red, black and white so I use these colors throughout my room.  I'd love to be able to show a picture of my finished classroom, but it looks like this as of today:
Trying not to panic....breathe in, breathe will be finished before the kiddos arrive!  :)
2.  Daily  5!  If you haven't stumbled across these books by "The Sisters" you really need to give them a shot...they have totally changed the way I structure the way I teach reading and writing.  AND...I am going to their workshop next Tuesday, July 26 (Merry Christmas in July to me!) in Ann Arbor, Michigan!  I am so excited!

3.  Debbie Diller!  She is such a Rock Star!  These books are so awesome and her ideas mesh will with "The Sister's" ideas and tips!  Spaces and Places is a dream come true for those of us who love to be organized!

4.  Pinterest!  It's a social media tool where you can "pin" images from websites and also repin other people's pins.  There are some very helpful tutorials on You Tube if you're interested.  I have pinned tons of classroom ideas-posters, activities, classroom design, etc. as well as personal stuff!  I am officially a Pinterest addict.  I joined via the website and it took about a week to receive my official invitation to join.  Once I was a member, I invited others and they received their invitations immediately.  If you'd like an invite just leave me a comment or send me an email!

5.  Those Target dollar bins are pretty amazing too!  Check my blog to see some of the goodies I've found. more...I'm pretty excited about a tree that I'm building for a corner of my's the first pictures:
I used 2 1/2 cement tubes from Home Depot.  We screwed them together and then reinforced them with Duct Tape.

We paper mache'd it twice.  The first time we kept it smooth, and the second coat was lumpy because I wanted some texture on it.  I'm hoping to start painting it this weekend. there's my favorite loves so to make sure I finish this little party the right way!  :)
Thanks to Jennifer for hosting such a great bash!  Cheers!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Cut Me Off! I was again in Target and would you believe that they had even more stuff in their dollar bins?  I just can't help myself...check out my new goodies!

Our school mascot is a case you haven't guessed so I had to pick up these cute bags!  Now that
I have them at home, I'm thinking of all of the possibilities and want to find about 20 more!  Time to put my family on the hunt for them @ all area Target stores as I already tried to find them online and didn't have any luck!

And then I found these fun sandwich holders but I'm going to use them at my learning stations to store pieces and parts.

Heart beads for sorting and patterning in February!

These foam blocks got me pretty excited!  One of the bloggers I follow used these to write sight words on them and put them in a large (empty) water jug with those styrofoam noodles you can find in craft stores.  The teacher used them in one of her centers and the kiddos had to find the words and then use them to write a sentence.  I'm not sure how I want to use them yet but I'm sure I'll find an idea I'll fall in love with!

Target also had card sorts in their dollar bins!  So many uses for these!  :)

And look who I found on a clearance shelf!  He was $4.98 and I just couldn't leave him sitting there all alone!  I've used the Corduroy books in the past for teaching friendship so he'll be perfect sitting on a shelf in my classroom!


Seriously...this site is amazing!  I'm totally addicted and am pinning things all of the time....I think I need to start using it as a little reward for, finish video critique for class, then pinterest; first finish journal abstract for class, then pinterest; first go for a walk, then pinterest!  I'm a visual learner so this site is right up my alley and I've found the most amazing things for my classroom, my home and my life!
It took about a week for me to receive my invitation but when I invited my friends, it was super quick for them to get their invitations and they seem to be hooked too!  If you'd like an invitation, just leave me a comment or send an email with your email address and I'll invite you!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

My Newest Creation I go again...bringing something new to my classroom!  Here's the beginning stages of it:

Can you guess?  I'm making a tree!  Yep!  A TREE in my classroom!  I can't take full credit for the idea because it came from one of my first jobs at a children's bookshop called "Full of the Dickens".  In the reading area of the shop was the most amazing tree!  The shop moved locations and I was given the tree to use in my very first classroom and the kids loved it!  So I thought that it was time to bring it back!  The art teacher in my building, Mr. Beuglass has graciously offered his expertise to help my dream come true so check back often for updated pictures!

Monday, July 11, 2011

First Visit!

I was finally able to get into my classroom tonight to drop off some of my treasures!  Here are a few pictures of what I walked into:

My colleagues think I'm crazy because I completely strip my room each June!  I like to come back to my classroom in July and August to a clean slate...I'm always changing my mind on bulletin boards and design and I actually think it's easier to come into a blank canvas and turn it into what I want for my new batch of firsties!  :)  So although I'm starting to turn the corner on the lazy days of summer, I'm also a bit overwhelmed at the work that is ahead of me...but it's a good feeling too!  A fresh start for a new batch of kiddos!

More Loot!

So my last visit to Target was rewarding but I knew there just had to be more!  I took another trip to Target after Sunday breakfast in hopes of finding more of their $1 deals.  As I was circling the area, an employee appeared with boxes to stock and as I approached her, she was radioed to help in a different area-DARN!  But...what to my wandering eyes should appear...but boxes full of those wonderful back to school deals!  So my retail days are a distant memory, but I could guess that they'd be stocked by Monday afternoon at the latest.  I totally felt like a $1 bin stalker (if there is such a thing) but my visit tonight was beneficial!  YIPPEE!  Check out my new goodies:
Tons of Incentives!
 Birthday Certificates and Stickers, Bookmarks, Great Reader Awards, and Giant Stickers!

My first graders are always asking what time we have lunch, recess and specials so I picked up these foam clocks to use in my area where I post our daily schedule.

Alphabet and Number Matching Puzzles for beginning of the year work stations!

Our district's mascot is a Pirate so I just couldn't pass these goodies up!  I think I'll use the Pirate Ship baggies for a "Welcome to First Grade" goody bag.  The cups are pretty awesome too!  I'm not sure exactly where I'll be using them, but I just couldn't leave them on the shelf...they were a dollar for goodness sake!  :)

Arrgh! Matey!  'Tis the time for back to school goodies!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

More Ideas

You can tell that I'm getting ready to get back into my brain is starting to shift from "I need a break" mode to "oooh!  I love that idea" mode!  :)  I've tried to drop off some of my newest treasures to my classroom for two days now and the halls are still blocked off because the wax is drying. long does it take for wax to dry?  Just kidding...our custodians had to have kicked some serious booty to get our classrooms done this early and I really appreciate their hard work!  
I love the month of July because I can work on school things at my leisure whereas in August, I HAVE to work on things for my classroom every spare minute...when I'm not hanging out with friends and family.

While I was helping my sister pick out birthday presents at Walmart this morning, we came across this game:
Can you believe that I almost left it on the shelf?  It was $13.88...but I think it's going to be totally worth it!  I can see me using this in small group sessions with my kiddos and I'm going to put it on my wish list so that I can hopefully get additional ones for the kids to use in their literacy work stations.  Great for teaching the kids how to ask questions and also predict their answers...I'm thinking this is going to make a great activity for those higher level thinking skills.  Can't wait to use it!

Then I was wandering down another aisle and found Finger Bowling for $1.00 each!
10 pins=a great addition or subtraction to 10 math work station!  Am I excited to hear the balls bouncing across the will the kids love it....YES!  So needless to say, I'm not going to worry about the balls bouncing down the hall.  :)  I'll be making some kind of a recording sheet to go along with the activity for the students to record their answers...I'm not a bowler so I'll have to do a little research, but I'm thinking they can play in pairs and record their scores by writing subtraction sentences...we'll see what the end result is...I might need to go back to Walmart and purchase one for each of my kiddos! 

I have become mildly obsessed with  It's a social networking site that allows you to pin and repin images to your boards.  You really need to check it far it seems to be easy to use and I've found a few tutorials on You Tube that helped me out.  (You can find them on You Tube by searching for pinterest.)  Anyway...I'm totally addicted...they have everything you can imagine including school stuff from teachers from all over the world!  I'm talking about images of their classrooms, bulletin boards, organizational stuff...EVERYTHING you can's there!  You really do need to look into it...not that I'm pushing my addiction onto you but perhaps we can start a self-help group in the future...I just may need it!  :) of the images I found was "Quiet Spray".  It's just a water bottle with a splash of fancy. My sister and I thought the idea was so silly, we just had to make a few.  The princess one is for my sister and her soon to be 2 and 4 year old.  The pirate one is for my classroom because our school mascot is a pirate.  Here they are:
They turned out cuter than I thought they would! I seriously going to spray the children in my classroom each time they get too noisy?  No.  But...I will use it at the beginning of the year when our classroom is so stinkin' hot and we're all a little chatty....just for FUN!  I think it will be a FUN and COOL way to learn the appropriate level of noise that will be acceptable in our classroom.  It's a little silly too, which is right up my alley! :)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Debbie Diller's Newest Book

Last summer I fell in love with Debbie Diller and purchased all of her literacy books and read them cover to cover.  I've read them again and again and they're full of post-it notes of the most amazing ideas ever!  This summer I'm reading her newest:
I'm telling you what...I can't wait to implement math work stations (totally different from math centers) into my math program!  I'm kind of a rebel when it comes to the way I teach my kiddos and thankfully my principal doesn't make me purchase the math workbooks or hold me accountable for teaching math to my children the way the series suggests.  The series is just too cookie cutter with a lot of fluff and not enough we do our own thing.  Debbie Diller's Math Work Stations is right up my alley and I can't wait to make it happen in my classroom this year!  It's a must read if you're looking for something to spice up your math program!

Love Those Target Dollar Bins!

Well...I made my first purchases for my new first graders today!  It felt really good as I think I'm getting the itch to get back into my classroom and start planning!  :)
So...not everything was $1.00 and their bins weren't completely full of school stuff but I did find a few goodies...
Our Target had a few Dr. Seuss vinyl bags.  I still have several left over from last year, but I couldn't remember if I had these so I picked them up for only a dollar each!  Thinking I'll use them to send home work when kids are absent, use to hold differentiated materials, etc.  LOVE them!
Found these fun rubber stamp sets for $2.50 each...I see these in my literacy and math work stations!

I couldn't pass up these metal ABC pails for $2.50 each.  They come in pastel colors and I'm thinking about using them to hold my magnetic letters for the kiddos to use for one of our literacy stations.  My classroom door is metal, so I'm thinking that they could just take the bucket to the door and create words and sentences with the magnetic letters.

And then I just had to wander to the Back to School corner!  Good thing I did because I found these composition notebooks I'll use for our journals.  They're only 40 cents each and there's a limit of perfect!  I can start labeling them with my student's names!  :)
Thinking about heading into school tomorrow to drop off my goodies and see if my custodians have cleaned my room!  :)