Saturday, July 25, 2015

Sight Word Sentence Trees

Fluency is such an important aspect of reading, but it's often something that we only think of working on with our highest readers.  I am constantly trying to think of ways to work on fluency even with my beginning readers.
These Sight Word Sentence Trees will be a perfect way for my students to work on sight words AND fluency.
The cards come in both a color version and a black and white version.  I printed the black and white version onto colored paper to make them more eye catching for my students.
These cards will be laminated and placed on a metal ring.  Early finishers will be able to grab these to practice.  I can also throw these into a center for independent practice.  These Sight Word Sentence Trees will also be perfect if I have a parent volunteer that can work with students.
I love that once I prep a couple sets of these for my class, they can provide practice for my students for the rest of the year.
You can check these out by clicking on the picture below.

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Integrating Science and Social Studies

How many times have you said that there just isn't time in your school day to fit everything in?  I know I have said it plenty of times.  Now...this is not necessarily saying that I want to have a longer school day, because I know how tired the students and I are by the end of the day.  I can't imagine making it longer.  However, we can work smarter, not longer.  Science and social studies often get pushed to the side in order to fit in reading, writing, and math.  By not teaching science and social studies to our students, we are doing them a disservice.  So, what do we do?  INTEGRATE!

You can truly integrate science and social studies into almost every part of your day.
Here is a break down of how I integrate science and/or social studies into my day.
Morning Meeting
We begin our morning with a Morning Meeting.  During this time, we greet each other, discuss our day, and sing a song or read a poem together.  I LOVE to integrate our science or social studies theme into our morning songs.
I pull a lot of my songs from my A Year of Songs packet.
I LOVE nonfiction books!  Kids LOVE nonfiction books!  When I first started teaching, I purchased books galore.  I eventually discovered that I had a huge collection of fiction books, but my nonfiction collection was lacking!  Over the past couple of years, I have been stocking up on nonfiction books.
Some of my favorites are:
Smart Kids Books by Roger Priddy
National Geographic Readers
I love that these come in different levels.
Magic School Bus
Scholastic True or False

There are tons more, but those are just some of my favorites that come to mind.
I also use my monthly Nonfiction packets.
We read the passages together, and then go back into the text to highlight the answers to our questions.  We also use the graphic organizers and writing pages included in the packets.
I recently finished up my August and September packets in order to complete my ENTIRE year.
My August packet includes units on Watermelons, Germs, Safety Skills (including bike safety, car safety, and stranger danger), and Community Helpers.
My September packet includes units on Apples, Johnny Appleseed, The Constitution, Leaves, and States of Matter.
I truly believe that writing is the easiest subject to integrate your science and social studies curriculum.
We are constantly writing about our unit of study.  The students love to research facts, and write about what they know.
This is not an area that I can integrate into every day, but I still do it when I can.  We graph, sort, and complete word problems about our unit of study.

Integrated Studies
We have a 30 minute block at the end of our day for Integrated Studies.  This is when I really dive deep into our science and social studies topic.
We create anchor charts, complete experiments, read more nonfiction text, etc. during this time.

I LOVE integrating science and social studies into our day.  Integration allows for children to use what they are learning into many different formats.  It helps make connections across the curriculum.  Integration ties everything together!

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Monday, July 20, 2015

Must Have Monday

I'm linking up with Freebielicious today for Must Have Monday to discuss some of my must have's that I need for my school year.
During the summer, I begin my "back to school orders."  Somehow I convince myself that if I spread the orders out, instead of just doing one big order, that I'm not quite spending as much money. Ha!  Those little bills don't look as bad as one big bill.
1. I have been ordering these brochures from Vistaprint for the past couple of years, and I still LOVE them.
I am always pleased with the quality of the brochures.  I pass them out at our Back to School Night.
2.  I always order these cardboard magazine boxes from IKEA.
I use these for Read to Self boxes.  I have seen teachers posting some nice, plastic ones from Walmart that I may need to check out though.
3.  Mr. Sketch Markers are my absolute favorite markers for anchor charts.
4.  I LOVE these resource folders from Really Good Stuff.
I use these to hold their homework in their LION books (parent-teacher-student communication books), so my students have a resource folder that travels with them.
With a baby that is STILL not sleeping through the night, I'm thinking more than one cup may be needed at the start of the school year.
What are your back to school must haves?
Head over to Freebie-licious and link up.


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Saturday, July 18, 2015

Procedures for the 1st Week of School

Dare I say is almost time to head back to school.  We have three more weeks before we go back.  I cannot believe how fast the summer has gone.  I swear it was just May last week!
Last year, I posted a list of procedures to teach on the first week of school.
As we know, the first week of school is ALL ABOUT procedures!!  Taking the time at the beginning of the year to teach the procedures for how your classroom will run, will save you SO much time later on.  Your students need to know the procedures and expectations for everything.  There have been years where I have made the mistake of thinking that they knew what to do in certain situations, but I quickly learned the importance of going over every little thing.  I like to keep this checklist handy during the first couple weeks of school to make sure that I don't miss anything.
I added a quick checklist this year, which will allow me to check off when I have taught that particular procedure.  I probably won't check it off of the list until we have gone over it for a couple of days, and I am confident that my students know it.
You can click on the picture below to head over to my Teachers Pay Teachers store and download this FREEBIE.
What are some of your MUST TEACH back to school procedures?

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Monday, July 13, 2015

Deep Thinking for Little Minds

I know I have been guilty in the past of not asking my students enough higher order thinking questions.  If I don't make a conscious effort to ask open ended questions, I find myself asking a lot of yes or no questions, or questions that have only one right answer. I really wanted to focus on making sure I am asking questions to help my students improve their critical thinking and problem solving skills.
I created a set of question cards that I will be using every morning during our morning meeting.

This set includes 100 questions that will get your students thinking critically, and talking.
None of the questions have "one right answer" and none of them can be answered with just a simple "yes" or "no."
These questions will lead to rich discussions, and help to improve oral language.
If you'd like to check out this set of cards, just click on the picture below to head on over to my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.
What are your favorite ways to improve critical thinking with your students?

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Sunday, July 12, 2015

Back to School with #25DaysofColor from Astrobrights

I obviously LOVE colorI mean look at my blog design.  Color just makes me happy.  I love using color in my classroom.  Colocan make learning a more fun and impactful experience.  I am so excited to be teaming up with Astrobrights for their 25 days of Color.  For 25 days, Astrobrights Papers will feature a project using a different color of its paper, providing ideas and inspiration on how to #ColorizeYourClassroom. 
I received a box of paper from Astrobrights to use.  The colors are gorgeous, and the quality is amazing!
Since we know that color paper can add creativity to everything in the classroom, I was so excited to get started.  My hero (focus) color was Orbit Orange
I decided to create an entire back to school ice breaker activity with the orange theme.  On the first day of school, during our Morning Meeting, I will begin with the classic knock, knock joke;
"Knock, knock."
"Who's there?"
"Banana who?"
"Knock, knock."
"Who's there?"
"Banana who?"
"Knock, knock."
"Who's there?"
"Orange you glad I didn't say banana?"
Then, we will sit in a circle, and I will hold an orange in my hand.  I will tell one reason why I am glad that we are back in school.  Then, I will pass the orange to the next person in the circle to tell a reason why they are excited to be back in school.
When we are finished going around the circle, the students will return to their seats to draw and write their reasons.
When they are finished, we will have oranges as a snack.
I will also be using this color to make welcome bags for my students.
 I would love to fill them with orange pencils, stickers, paper, and more.
You can download the free printables from above by clicking HERE.
Another one of my hero colors was Rocket Red.  This is kind of a pinkish-red color.  I loved it paired with other colors from the Astrobrights collection.  I thought it would be perfect to make my Back to School Flip Book even more eye catching!  (The All About Me page is the Rocket Red color.)  I LOVE the result.
My last hero color was Re-Entry Red.  I included this in my Back to School Flip Book as well, but I also wanted to use it for my Welcome Letters.
I mail these to the parents before school starts, and thought printing them on colored paper would make much more of a statement than white.  I also used some other colors (Martian Green & Galaxy Gold) to print off my other information sheets.

You can get the printables above for free by clicking HERE.

How do you use color in your classroom?
For more ideas on how to Colorize Your Classroom, be sure to follow #25DaysofColor, Astrobrights Papers social feeds and visit
Post your own project using Astrobrights Papers with the hashtags #25DaysofColor and #ColorizeYourClassroom for a chance to be featured as the Colorize Your Classroom project of the week. 

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