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.

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Friday, June 29, 2012

First Purchases for 2012 (and a little more...)

Well...I made my first visit to The Dollar Tree and I actually kept myself in check...
Congratulations certificates for the
end of next year.
Word Cards: Nouns, Verbs, Adjectives,
States, Continents, Newspaper Labels,
and Job descriptions.
But then I discovered "Container Heaven"....clear containers that were whispering to me from their shelves, "We'd look so good in your art us now!"

And these fun "Design Your Own Mug!" mugs...
Part of me is thinking to purchase them to let the kiddos design and use throughout the year...water for warm days, Abby's "Jitter Juice"from her "Fun with Firsties" unit, hot cocoa in winter...but then there's keeping them clean and storing them too.  What do you think?  Should I do it??

Are you stalking Jessica Stanford over at Mrs. Standford's Class?  She has some really cute ideas and I always love reading her she's from Ohio just like me!  Anyway, she's trying to earn enough votes to win a laptop for her classroom.  Click on the link below the picture to take you to her blog post!
Click here!
I just posted three sets of my chapter books on Teachers Pay Teachers.  Thanks again for all of your advice.  

I priced them @ $15.00 for a set of 5 and added $5.00 for shipping and handling.  We'll see how it goes.  Spread the word to those who you think might be interested.
My Shop!

So...a funny story....
My sister, her two daughters and I live at Soak City during the summer.  Soak City is a water park connected to Cedar Point which is practically in our backyard.  We're there a lot!  Anyway, the other day I was just minding my own business and reading The Book Whisperer (Awesome book...I'm going to email the teachers at my school and tell them that it's a great summer read...they're going to think I'm crazy).  One niece was sleeping and the other was laying in the sun with us and all of a sudden I feel a presence.  A lurking shadow...a giggling lurking shadow.  As I turn around to see what's standing near me, there they were...all smiles.  5 kiddos from my school.  Now...on a side note, God has not blessed me with a beach body and one would think that he could at least bless me with beach hair...but noooo...I'm all wavy and curly, sunglasses trying to maintain at least a part of it...their mothers looking on admiringly from a distance...all put together mind you!  And there I am...catching up on summer with the kids.  They were too cute!  Before I knew it, they were sitting in a semi-circle around my beach chair and we were all sharing our summer adventures.  Made me start to really think about my plans for this year!Okay...well, I'm off to start laminating all of my word cards I found at The Dollar Tree (I wonder if that company knows how much teachers adore them)!
Take Care!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Turn Up the Music Linky Party

Of course I had to join this linky party!  We always have music playing in our classroom!  I kind of wish I had a Juke Box in my room that the kiddos could choose a tune of the day or something...wait!  I bet there's an app for that!  I'd use iTunes but my library is just too overwhelming so I'd need something I'm thinking....

Anyway!  Onto the linky party!
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Hope I did that right!  :)

Here's our top favorites...
Disney Soundtracks-The kiddos know them, they connect to them, and they help tap into some prior knowledge on just about everything!
We especially like listening to Choo Choo Soul!

And Imagination Movers!  There's a really great brainstorming song on the album below.  We use it while we're brainstorming on our own or in a group.  It's perfect!

Wayne Brady has a fun album's hip hop for kids and they love it and to be do I!

We also listen to Ziggy Marley's Family Time...sometimes in the dead of winter to remind us that warmer weather will come eventually!

Secret Agent 23 Skidoo is another album we listen to that has a hip hop feel to it!  You can't help but tap your toes!

When we're in need of a little quiet time we listen to music by:
George Winston
Danny Wright
Chris Botti

After Hours....
Anything by Justin James!  His music screams summer...which really helped me out during the month and a half after spring break!
Joss Stone
The Cab
I'll listen to anything once!  (Shazamm is the best invention ever!)
I think I have a pretty eclectic taste in music.
A teacher friend whose husband is in charge of the music department at a local college had a band from Canada visiting the college a few years ago and they visited our school and performed for us!  Within an hour, I had purchased all of their albums from iTunes and we listened to them every day!  The kiddos really connected to them so I just had to have all of the albums...did I tell you that they were French Canadian and all of their lyrics were in French?  We had no idea what they're singing about but they use interesting instruments and they have a great rhythm!  (Maybe I have a music addiction too.  I'm in trouble.)
Mauvais Sort
This linky party was a tough one!  I'm a sucker for a good beat, an interesting sound...or just something new whether it's for my classroom or my personal library!  There are so many more cool tunes that we listen to I think I could go on and on!

On another note...thanks for all of the advice on what to do with my collection of chapter books!  I think I'll be putting them on my Teachers Pay Teachers Shop or even on eBay (didn't think of that) in smaller sets for people to purchase.  Once they're there, I'll let you know so that you can help spread the word!

Northern Ohio is on the verge of a heat wave today so I'm off to the pool!
Hope you're keeping cool in your neck of the woods!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

So I have an addiction...

It's become blatantly obvious to me and I don't know if I want to admit that I need help or not because as teachers we can all rationalize our addictions...I know you know what I'm talking about.
What's the saying??  Pictures tell a thousand words???
Here you go...

 Those are all of my personal books that I "use" in my classroom.  They are all my picture books.  I decided to bring them all home this summer to sort through and start creating units to share with you and my teacher friends at school.  I also was thinking about keeping them organized here at home so that I would have more room for the kiddos and their things at school.  I mean...look at some of these titles:

You know all of the fun things we can do with those books...right??  How can I part with any of them?

This doesn't even include the books I had autographed when I went to Mazza last November...
(These aren't even all of them...)

or the books I have packed away at school for my classroom library....and I know I have another box or two around here somewhere.

While I was cleaning organizing moving piles in the garage this afternoon I came across these:

They are two giant tubs of chapter books...class sets and literature circle sets from when I taught 5th 6 years ago...
I think I'm going to post them in my Teachers Pay Teachers shop and see if I can sell them (I think a piece of my heart just broke).  They're quality sets...Roald Dahl, Walk Two Moons, Surviving the Applegates.  So I need some advice before I post them on there...
1.  Should I sell them as a complete set (in some cases 25 of the same title)?
2. How much should I charge for them?  They are all gently used...maybe used only two times because I taught 5th grade for two years.

Any help you could give me would be appreciated!
As for the boxes of books waiting for me in the front room...I took them back to the garage.  It was too overwhelming for me on this beautiful sunny day!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Monthly Reading Challenges...for FREE!

Okey dokey friends!

After a "textful" conversation with my teacher buddy (who needs to start blogging herself...ha! ha!) I decided to take the plunge and open my own Teachers Pay Teachers shop!  YIKES!  I'm so nervous about this because doing this puts me "out there" again.  You know me...I usually sit back, watch how things shake down and then make my move.  So this is a big step for me.  My sister seems to think I need to step outside my little comfort zone in other areas of my life but this will just have to do for now.  :) I am!
Click here to check me out and become my first followers!
I only posted my freebie and as I'm typing this, my "Monthly Reading Challenges" packet is uploading too (very slowly).  I had a few glitches with the thumbnail part but I'm being patient.  Putting a price on it was tough too.  I mean, I think it's pretty cool, it's going to meet the needs of my kiddos, and it did take some time to create and think of the challenges for each month.  My teacher friend, Allison suggested that I put $5 on it and see what I did.  Please let me know if I'm completely off my rocker!  I think I just heard you say, "How can I help Jenn if I don't know what she's talking about?"  Well, ta-da!  For's FREE!  The whole thing!  (Let me know though if I made a huge boo-boo on it or committed some other crime!)
Monthly Reading Challenges
A few other things...
Jennifer over at First Grade Blue Skies is celebrating her Blogiversary with an awesome giveaway!  Can you believe she's been blogging for just a year?!?  She's so amazing!  You have until Tuesday, June 26 to enter so fly on over there right away!  
Join in on the fun by clicking here!
I made some super easy...and yummy cookies this afternoon.  I found them on Pinterest and it was posted that they were only 35 calories a cookie so I had to try them!  I have a TERRIBLE sweet tooth and no self-control.  As long as the sweets aren't in my house I'm okay but God forbid there's a leftover bag of M&M's from a graphing activity at school...I just can't keep my hands out of them!'s the recipe!

Peanut Butter Cookies
Mix together 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of peanut butter.  Add 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 1 egg and mix.  I used my Pampered Chef medium scooper to drop them on the cookie tray.  Bake @ 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
I got about 18 cookies from one batch.
And I don't feel guilty about sneaking one every now and then!  :)
I hope the pinner didn't lie about the number of calories!

Oh my God!  The news was just on and there's apparently a candy burglar on the loose in Northeast Ohio...IT'S NOT ME!  

Okay...I must go!  I feel like I've been babbling a bit tonight!
Take care and let me know what you think about my "Monthly Reading Challenge" packet!

Monday, June 18, 2012

September Reading Challenge Idea

Okay Friends!  I've been playing with my reading logs this morning and decided I needed to focus on just the month of September and share it so that I can get some feedback.

I originally wanted my students and their families to search for and read 25 books each month.  While I was trying to think of the types of books I wanted my families to read, I was scouring our curriculum maps and calendars of holidays and special events so that I could include those topics in my reading logs.  As I was doing this, I kept thinking....this is really going to be a challenge for me to think of 25 different books for each month...and then it hit me.  It is going to be very challenging for my families to search, find, and read 25 books each month.  I'm up for a challenge so for me, I'd be like, "Bring it on!"  But...without knowing my new families, I think it might be a little overwhelming for them and let's be honest...first grade is overwhelming enough!  So, my Monthly Reading Challenges are in the works!  I dropped the required books from 25 to 10.  I also decided to make each challenge optional, but I made it clear in my parent note that children will be rewarded for completing it and the challenges reflect what we will be learning during the month.  I think it will still be a challenge for some...and that's a good thing!  You can download the challenge by clicking on the caption beneath the picture below.

September Reading Challenge
At least I'm hoping you can download it!  I haven't created and shared something in awhile so I had to reteach myself!

I also added a parent note explaining the challenge as well as a page that lists places where they can find the books for each challenge.  I think I'll also provide books in a special area of my room that the children can borrow for an evening and then return so that others can use them.

Any other ideas??  I would love some (gentle) feedback as sometimes I think that my ideas will work but then they fizzle because my expectations are a little too high or it is too much to manage.

As for my movie with dad yesterday...we saw Prometheus.  Ummm....yeah.  Neither of us are science fiction buffs so I think it was a first for both of us.  Aliens, a robot, and all around weirdness!  Not our cup of tea as I spent a lot of time hiding in my sweatshirt and peeking through my hood but it was okay.  Gave us something to laugh at....after it was over!  :)

Have a great day!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day and a Few Finds

Happy Father's Day to all of those dad's out there!  Went to church and breakfast with the family and then I'm meeting up with my dad for a movie and bite to eat this afternoon.

I was given a gift card to Books-A-Million at the end of the year so I scoured their clearance section and found a few books.

I remember reading somewhere where it was recommended to start the year out with reading Mother Goose nursery rhymes.  I always have the intention to try it, but then I see all of my Kevin Henkes and back to school books on my shelf and dive into those right away.  Since I'm departmentalizing this year and teaching all of the reading and language arts to close to 75 children throughout the morning, I'm really trying to think of how I want things to work for us....still thinking....  :)  Anyway, when I saw these, I thought I'd pick them up and possibly use them during my reading blocks.  Each book has a very unique plot and is filled with rich language so I know I'll be able to use them...I'm just not sure what direction I want to use them yet.  When I figure it out, I'll post about it!

This week I also went through all of my reading files and organized them (okay...they're almost organized).  Whoa!  That is a job!  I pitched a lot but it was hard!

Since I'll "just" be teaching reading and language arts next year, I feel that I want to hold my students and their families accountable for their reading somehow so, I'm creating some reading logs to use as homework with my kiddos next year.  Just when I decide on one format and create it, I think of a different one.  So I'm just going to keep making them until my brain quits thinking about them and when they're finished I'll be sure to post the whole packet for you to download.  I'm hoping that I can work on them this week and share them with you when they're finished.

I'm also seeking some advice...I think I want to make this blog for my students and parents and create a new blog just for me as a teacher.  I really like this theme and since our school mascot is a pirate I think I want this blog to be the hub of information for my students and parents next year. much drama would that be for you to perhaps stop following me here (if you wanted to) and start following me elsewhere?  Would I be able to move all of my posts to my new blog?  Maybe it's not even a big deal...if I do it, I just want the transition to be a smooth one for everyone!  :)  Any advice would be appreciated!

Oh!  One more thing I've been meaning to share...have you hear of this app?
 It's so awesome!  It "stores" coupons for tons of stores....even coupons that you may not receive via email or mail.  You can search for various stores, or you can search by brand.  It also lists the coupons available locally.  Since I live in a smaller city between two larger cities, the app doesn't always list all of the coupons available for every store in my area.  For example, when I click on "Local" Kohl's doesn't appear for some reason (even though there is a Kohl's in my city), but when I click on "Brands", every store imaginable is listed.  You just click on it, show the cashier, they enter the code and viola!  You have saved some dough!  I just wish Lakeshore and Creative Teaching Press was listed!  :)

Have a great day!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Summer Fun

Hello Friends!
Well, I'm one week into summer vacation and I'm already feeling the itch to start organizing and planning for next year.  Call me crazy...but I'm the type that just needs a few days to regroup and then I'm ready to get back at it.  With that being said, I'm not ready to have 24 new firsties staring at me like deer in headlights tomorrow, but I am getting pretty inspired by many blog posts and lots of pins on Pinterest!  I already bumped into two of my new firsties and they seemed pretty excited already too for next year!

My sister works with hearing impaired children and is still working through this Wednesday so I've been able to spend a lot of time with my nieces (Our time together is also known as Aunt Jenn takes us to the library to find new books to buy for her classroom and then makes us do crafts that she may want to do with her school kids.)  They love it....Thank God!

I was inspired by the Tile Art @ Learning With Mrs. Parker so we traveled to Lowes to find our tiles and felt pads (we turned our tiles into coasters), stopped by Walmart to find our Sharpie Markers and headed home to create!
Meet Claire!  She'll be 3 in July!
Here's Addison...Kindergarten this fall!
Our creations!
Addison made this one for her daddy...she said it's something
from Star Wars because her daddy loves that movie.
Adding felt pads to the bottom after we baked them.
Check out Mrs. Parker's blog for all of the details...VERY easy to make!  I'll be making them for Father's Day next year for sure!  Can't wait to make them with my nephew this weekend.

Addison also requested a Treasure Hunt!  You know...with clues that lead from one place to another.  I worked on it while she was napping this afternoon and she did it when she woke up.  I believe I created a higher level thinking game!  I had her stumped for a few but the oral language and thinking that was happening was awesome!  I had her roaming all over the house from clue to clue and she ended up in the pantry where a snack was waiting for her...apparently she was hoping for a real treasure.  After realizing that her treasure wasn't the treasure she had hoped for, she said, "Aunt Jenn, could you make another one with more of a what the pirates would find?"  Geesh!  The pressure!  Off to find some gold coins!  :)  This would be so fun to create for my kiddos at school...but doing it for 24 would have to be way different than doing it for one or two!  :)

The rest of our week has been filled with lots of play, dress-up (and I thought I wouldn't use those old bridesmaid dresses for anything), bubbles, chalk, cooking, trips to the park and a little shopping...
"Look Aunt Jenn!  They almost fit me!"
My nieces and nephew are too fun...they're at such fun ages right now (4, 3, 2, and 1)!

Oh!  I also found my book boxes at the Dollar Tree for a $1.00!  Yeah for me!

Hope everyone is enjoying their summer...or wrapping up their last few days of school in a fun way!
Take care!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

It's Officially Summer!

Hi Friends!
Yesterday was our "REAL" last day!  What a day!  It started out with "Breakfast at Bob's" (that's Bob Evan's for those who may not know) with my "Inner Circle of Trust" minus one.  There's five of us and we meet at Bob Evan's every Friday around 7:00 or so for breakfast together.  Even though it's an early wake-up call, I really love getting together with my friends!  It starts our day off in a great way!

We then had to go to our End of the Year district meeting where we honored our retiring teachers as well as those who have been in the district for 15, 25, and 30 years.  This year was a little different...instead of handing over a bouquet of flowers to our retirees and thanking them for their service, a close friend gave a little speech about the teacher retiring.  Some were quite moving.  As I sat and watched, I couldn't help but think about the amazing work we really do and how important it is to recognize the work teachers and staff do.  (Another thing to put in my cap when I choose to become an administrator.)  30 one district...30 years!  Everything they've seen and done...with all of the political crap stuff going on with public schools right now and the changes coming..."years of service" are really something to be honored.

We then had a short union meeting...grrr...gloom and doom, but "we're great teachers!"  (That's in a nutshell...I just wish our union would communicate with us more about things going on in our district and do a better job of answering questions publicly and respectfully.  Tired of seeing rolling eyes and shifts in body language when certain teachers speak or ask questions.)

By 10:00 we were back in our classrooms to wrap everything up for the year.  Turning in Professional Growth Records, Requisitons, and a rebuttal I had to write due to a comment in my evaluation in regard to another first grade teacher's feelings being hurt by a curriculum decision I apparently made.  L-l-o-o-o-n-n-n-n-g-g-g story full of drama but:
1. I didn't make the curriculum decision.
2. This teacher never came to me about his hurt feelings.
I didn't care about the mark I received, I cared about the written comment on my evaluation that reflected a feeling of another evaluation anyone, including future employers and parents have access to if they want to take a peek.  (Wish I could be totally honest here...but I'm choosing to rise above and be professional!)

We decided it was time for lunch and headed to a local Mexican Restaurant...the only thing missing was a Margarita, but because we had to go back to school after lunch, we abstained!  :)

The afternoon was spent planning with my departmentalizing buddies talking about the schedule and planning for next year.  So excited to be teaching reading all morning to 3 different classes.  I just really want to make sure I have my ducks in a row...lots to think about!  Anyone departmentalizing in first grade?  I'd love to hear how you set up your reading block.

After covering some shelving I was on my way out the door to start my summer by 3:02!  On our last day with the kiddos, we have computer the last period of the day and we just dismiss from the computer lab.  While they were in computer I continued taking stuff off of the walls and when I went back to the computer lab, I told them that our room looked really lonely.  They said, "We want to see it!" and in my dramatic way I told them, "Oh no, it's just too sad for your little eyes."  So they asked me to take pictures and put them on our website to's a few...

And then there's my garage...
I better get that plant in some sun!
The weather in Northern Ohio is a bit brisk today...too chilly for the pool or Soak City @ Cedar Point.  But there's plenty to keep me busy..."that" book, thank you notes, planting some flowers, a visit to a grocery store, a little cleaning, and that garage!  
Have a great weekend!