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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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Monthly Reading Challenges

Hi Friends!

I did some updates this morning on my Monthly Reading Challenges!  It was one of my very first products that I created for my Teachers Pay Teachers Shop and it needed a bit of a polishing.  

I use my Monthly Reading Challenges throughout the year as a fun way for my families to explore new books with their children.

At the beginning of each month I send home the monthly challenge and have it due by the last day of the month.  Anyone who completes the challenge gets a small reward like a certificate, a pencil, a treat or anything I might find that the children may like as a prize.  In the packet, you'll find a parent letter as well as tips on where your families can find the books they need to read for each challenge. 

Here's a peek at what each month's challenge looks like: 

I added a black and white version of each month's challenge for those of us who do not have color copiers.

These challenges are an easy way to have our families spend some quality time with their kiddos.  Now.  I do sometimes get the challenge returned to me the next day with all 10 books found and read.  I do raise my eyebrow...and think "How could that happen?"  But it's just not a battle I want to I usually write a comment on the top like, "Wow!  That was quick!" and then move on.  :)

Summer is winding down so I hope you're sucking up every minute you have left!  School is right around the corner!  Actually...less than a month for me!

Take Care!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!

'Tis the Season for a sale!

Everything in my TPT Shop is 20% off from now until Saturday!

Click here to visit my shop!

On a side note, I stopped by school for my first visit and snapped some pictures.  I posted this picture on my classroom blog, Shiver Me Firsties!

Let the fun begin!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Magnetic Letter Mayhem

Hello again!

So I've had something on my "To-Do List" that might seem a little compulsive to some of you...maybe least I hope it's not too OCD on my part, but it just might be.

I sorted all of my magnetic letters last night.  

Like.  All.  Of.  Them.

Yep...there it is.  You should see my living room floor!  It's glittered with magnetic letters sorted by upper and lower case letters, style of magnetic letter, some styles put in ABC order, etc.  Okay...I might have a slight issue...but that's no surprise to some of you!

As you may remember from earlier posts, I will have an aide in my classroom this year and I've been busy creating and gathering "Go-To Activities" for us to grab and use with our kiddos in small groups or one-on-one.  I felt it was necessary to see what letters I had so that I can pre-bag them and have them ready for us.

When I sorted them I realized that my vowels were missing.  Now where did they go?  Then I remembered that I saw an idea on Pinterest where the teacher spray painted all of her vowels a bright red so that the children could find them easier.  

Hey!  I did that too! But where did they go?  

I'm in the midst of sorting and organizing every nook and cranny of my classroom so they'll turn up eventually, but I kind of need a plan now.  I found some cute Magnetic Letter Digital Art from Poppydreamz Digital Art!

Poppydreamz Digital Art 
Magnet Letters Alphabet and Number Clipart

I was just going to create some vowels, but one thing led to another (again) and I made a complete set...with Fundations in mind.

You can download it for FREE in my Teachers Pay Teachers Shop by clicking here!

Included in the packet is:

  • a full alphabet in black and white
  • a set of red vowels (5 of each vowel)
  • a set of blue glued sounds (3 of each glued sound)
  • a set of yellow blends and digraphs (3 of each blend and digraph)
  • a set of green bonus letters (3 of each bonus letter)
I'll be printing, cutting, laminating and attaching a small magnet to the back of each tile so that my children can practice building their  words.  Hope it's something that you can use too!

Off to take care of the magnetic letters scattered all over my floor!
Have a great day!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Parking Lot Sight Words

Hello Friends!

I am busy researching and creating new activities for my first graders this year.  My new batch of kiddos have some children with language issues and therefore are struggling with reading and writing too.  Due to my class make-up and IEP goals, etc. I will have an aide/para-professional in our classroom this year.  I am so grateful to have an extra set of adult hands in the room!  Although her number one priority is the one student whose IEP mandates an aide, it's been past practice in our school that our aides can pitch in wherever needed.

So I'm trying to create and gather "go-to" materials that we can grab and use with our struggling students whenever we have the chance.  One of the activities I made are my Parking Lot Sight Word Mats!    

I broke the parking lots into two sets and you can find them in my Teachers Pay Teachers Shop if you're interested.

Parking Lot Sight Words~Dolch Pre-Primer and Primer Sight Words
In this Parking Lot set you'll find 6 parking lots for the Pre-Primer Sight Words, 8 parking lots for the Primer Sight Words and an additional 4 "Empty" parking lots for you or a student to handwrite their own words for practice.

Parking Lot Sight Words~First, Second and Third Grade Sight Words
In this Parking Lot set you'll find 6 parking lots for the 1st grade sight words, 7 parking lots for the 2nd grade sight words, 7 parking lots for the 3rd grade sight words and 4 "Empty" parking lots for you or a student to handwrite their own words for practice.

We will be able to use these to help the children review and master their Dolch Sight Words by using a matchbox car to park in the correct spot.  So for example, we can say, "Maggie, can you park your car in the after spot?"  We could even say, "Park your car in the spot that completes this sentence: I need a bandaid because I _______ my finger."  I think there are several ways to play and learn with these Parking Lot Mats!  What do you think?

The first 3 people to leave a comment will receive both sets for FREE!  Please leave your e-mail address in your comment and I'll send them as soon as I can!
Have a great day!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Book Share!

Do you ever come across a book or two that you read and it just sticks with you? Like it moves into a place in your heart and there's something that reminds you about it every day?  

I found three of those books earlier this year thanks to some amazing bloggers, Mr. Schu who is a teacher/librarian in a K-5 school and Colby Sharp who is a 3rd grade teacher in Michigan.  You can click on the links below to visit their blogs:

When you visit their blogs, you're probably going to want to start following them on Twitter too.  They are always, always, ALWAYS sharing new books for kids of all ages!  So let me share the books they introduced to me!  I've linked each book to a site for you to get more information.

My first share is the 2014 Newberry Award Winner, Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo.  Holy bagumba!  Every time I see a squirrel I think of this adorable book!

A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd.  Talk about MAGIC!  Another story full of friendship and imagination.  It's just a great read!

 The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate...oh. my. gosh.  I read this story in one sitting on one of our deep freeze days this past winter.  Every time I see an elephant or a gorilla, I'm reminded of this story.  This one really tugged at my heart strings.  A picture book version of this story is coming out this fall and I can't wait!  It's just an amazing story.

I would love to read these books to my first graders this year but I need to meet them first to see if they'll be able to handle them.  If I were teaching 3rd grade though, these books would definitely be a part of our year together.  Don't take my recommendation alone though, read them yourself first and make your own decision.

It's a gloomy, rainy morning and I overslept and won't be making it to church in time so I plan on starting this one next:

I'm on the hunt for some new chapter books for read alouds this year!  If you know of anything new that would work for little ears, please let me know!

Hope all is well!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Look What I Made~Story Stones!

I finally had time to make something I pinned a long time ago...and it actually turned out!

They were so fun to make and a little addicting too!

I went to Pat Catans (it's a craft store here in Ohio) and picked up a few bags of "River Rocks" for $2.00 a bag.  Each bag weighed about 2 pounds and when I opened them up, there were about 20 rocks.  The amount of rocks depend on the size of the rocks.  I then picked up a ton of random stickers, some Mod Podge and a can of Krylon Crystal Clear Acrylic Coating.

I stuck the stickers on the rocks, took them outside in a box and sprayed them 3 times with the acrylic coating.  One thing I realized is that you're going to want to use "typical" stickers.  The thicker stickers were a little tougher to stick.  I also took some old magazines, cut out small pictures and Mod Podged them to the rocks.  Once the Mod Podge was dried, I gave them 3 coats of the acrylic coating too. Once the third coat of acrylic coating was applied, I forgot about them and let them dry for a day or two.

I think they'll be a great addition to the writing corner in my classroom!  They can be used in so many ways!  At the beginning of the year, they'll be used to help write random sentences when we can't think of something to write about.  As the year continues, they can use them to help them write stories.  The children could even pick 3 rocks and use them to write an interesting story.  I'm so excited!  The only downfall...they're going to be heavy!  I am going to put our Story Stones in a bucket so that the children can dig through to find the stones they want.  

Now I'm off to find some seasonal stickers (Halloween, Christmas, etc.) so I'll have some Story Stones to add to the bucket during the holidays.

Have a great day!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

A New Blog!

Hello Friends!

Last year I created a website to use in my classroom but I don't think it was really used by my families.  My students used it when they were on our iPads to look at our pictures and access their favorite websites, but I wanted something more collaborative for this year.  This year I'm going to try using a blog to keep my families updated on everything that we're doing in our classroom.  I'm hoping to post on a daily basis and as the year progresses I'd also like to delegate some of the posts to my students.

I needed to find a blog designer so I was checking out all of your blog layouts and finally came across Christi Fultz @ Design by Christi.
She's also a third grade teacher and blogs about her classroom happenings @ Ms. Fultz's Corner.

Ms. Fultz's corner

If you're looking for a new blog design I highly recommend that you checkout Christi's amazing talents!  She was so easy to work with and each of her blog designs had a different look to them.

Our school mascot is a Pirate, so of course I needed my new blog to have a pirate feel to it and since our school colors are red, black and white, I wanted to include that too.  I think I've said it before, but I think it's so important for my children to have pride in our school and I think it's easy by incorporating our school colors and mascot into my classroom design and instruction each day.

After I contacted Christi about designing my new blog, she sent me a document filled with questions so that she could get an idea about what I was looking for.  I made a deposit into her PayPal account to secure the date she was going to begin her work.  A couple of days later she sent me some digital art to pick from and within a week, ta-da!!  I have a blog!

When I say, "She was so easy to work with," I totally mean it!  She sent me the first proof of my blog design and I was able to make any suggestions I wanted and she tweaked it to meet my needs immediately.

I'm so excited to share my new classroom blog with my families this year!  If you have a classroom blog that you use to share things with your families, we'd love to connect with you.  I don't want to post a lot on the new blog quite yet but I will once the school year nears and my new families are aware of it.

Hope everyone had a great 4th!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

July Currently

Happy July!  I'm linking up with Farley's monthly linky!

I think a new washer and dryer are in my future.  They both are making a sound that I haven't heard before.

I am loving these slow summer mornings.  I actually cherish them.  During the school year, it's always rush, rush, rush for me in the mornings.  During the summer my sister and I wake up before the sun and go for a run, and although I don't love rolling out of bed that early...and it's not always pretty, I do feel like I get a ton accomplished in the morning before we head to the pool or Soak City.

I am not a TV Talk Show kind of girl, but I have started catching a few episodes of Oprah's Super Soul Sunday series after church on Sunday mornings.  Sometimes, it's just background noise for me while I'm reading the paper, but sometimes the people she has on kind of inspire me.  I love how she can sit under an enormous oak tree with beautiful furniture...and not one bird, bug or other living thing makes their presence known in an inappropriate manner during the whole episode!  Anyway, there was an episode on with a husband and wife who lost their child in the Sandy Hook shooting...broke my heart, but their strength and faith astounded me.  Last week I caught an episode where Oprah interviewed Steven Pressfield who was talking about his book, The War of Art~ Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles.  I just started reading it but it's already making me think differently.  I love when that happens.

I'm wanting a home makeover...wouldn't that be fun?

My need...has a little to do with Steven Pressfield's book...a little to do with my community...a little to do with my future...and a lot to do with life in general.  Ha!  I bet that cleared some things up!

Plans for the 4th...a good old family picnic with some relatives I haven't seen in awhile and taking my 94 year old grandmother to Cedar Point to see the fireworks with the family.

I'm off to link up and meet some new blogging friends!  I've been a little out of the loop during the school year as far as blogging goes...thank God for summer and extra time to catch up!

Have a great day!