Friday, October 2, 2015

My Favorite Part of the School Day

Do you have a favorite part of your school day? 
Maybe I should say that my favorite part is teaching reading, writing, or math, but I wouldn't be telling the complete truth.  Not that I don't love it, but it still doesn't beat my favorite part of the day...our Morning Meeting!
I have always done "calendar" time where we do our calendar, count money, practice on our number grid, read aloud from a chapter book, etc.  However, this year I wanted to revamp and really use this time as a Morning Meeting.

We start out in song.  I use the songs from my A Year of Songs packet to call my students over to the carpet.
Some mornings we sit with our partners, which we pick using my Partner Pairings.  (You can read more about it here.)  Other mornings, we sit in a circle or facing forward. 
I start off by asking if anyone has anything to share today.  Honestly, I rarely spent much time doing this before because it can be time consuming, but my goodness, you learn SO much about your kiddos!!!  I know which days dance practices and softball games are on.  I know what movies, T.V. shows, and songs my students like.  I know their favorite foods.  I cannot even express how important this time is in my classroom.  It not only allows me to connect with my students, but they learn so much about each other.  It allows them to see that everyone has similarities and differences.
Next, we have our calendar time.
I have a calendar person for the week.  This student changes the date, adds a coin to the money count, leads the class in number patterns on the number grid, and calls on students to come up with ways to get to our number.
The next part of our Morning Meeting is our Question of the Day.  These are from my Deep Thinking for Little Minds packet.  I printed and laminated these cards to keep on my easel.
To say I love these would be an understatement.  I absolutely love listening to my student's answers for some of these questions.  Just to see how their imaginations and thought processes work is amazing!  I find myself grabbing a notebook all the time and writing down their funny or unique responses.  It also makes me realize how different children and adults are.  For the dream vacation question, I definitely would not be picking Laser Tag, Holiday World, French Lick Water Park, or Kings Island for a dream vacation.  Not that those aren't great places, but I'm pretty sure I would be heading to Fiji or something ;)
Next, I write a message to my students.
I usually blame my mistakes on lack of coffee or sleep, and I have my students come up to fix the message.

You will be amazed at how much learning can take place during this time.  We discuss capitals, proper nouns, ending marks, sight words, letter formation, sentence structure, and so much more.
I also love to use our message to work on vocabulary development, when we replace "boring" words with exciting words.
The last part of our Morning Meeting is our read aloud time.   In years past, I used this time to read from a chapter book, but I moved that to right after recess.  Now, I use this time to bring in a read aloud with a purpose.  I started the year with "Character Education" type picture books. (The Invisible Boy, My Mouth is a Volcano, The Pout-Pout Fish, Mean Jean the Recess Queen, A Bad Case of Tattle Tongue, ...)  We have also focused on particular authors during this time. (Kevin Henkes, Robert Munsch, Laura Numeroff, ...)  For the month of October, we will be reading Halloween/Fall books.
I truly look forward to this time every day. When I sit down with my students and my cup of coffee, and we can just get to know each other.   
What is your favorite part of your school day?

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Monday, September 28, 2015

Colorize Your Classroom

The Astrobrights Paper Colorize Your Classroom Challenge is back, and I'm thrilled to be teaming up with Astrobrights for this campaign.

Studies show that color can increase memory by up to 50 percent and help students remain engaged. gives teachers a gallery of inspiration and ideas on how color can help transform their classrooms.

The Astro Bright Minds have issued four different challenges that tackle problems teachers face when creating the right environment for their students: classroom décor, organization, differentiated instruction and memorization.
I will be discussing how I use color in my classroom to help with differentiated instruction.
I love using color to differentiate sight word lists for my students.  I begin by finding out which sight words my students still need to work on. (This year, I had an amazing parent volunteer help me with this.)
After figuring out which list each student needs to start on, I give the student a "bookmark" with that list of sight words.  I print each list on a different color of Astrobrights cardstock.
I print these 2-sided, so each student actually has two sight word lists to work on.  Once they have mastered this list, they move onto the next color.
My students can keep these in their pencil boxes, on their desks, or in a book they are reading, so the lists are always at their fingertips. 
I also love to use color for differentiating my small groups.
I received these tubs from Lakeshore Learning Resources a couple of years ago, and they are perfect for my small groups.  I can place the items that we will be working on into these tubs for the week (books, sight word cards, fluency passages, etc.).
I also have correlating tabs in my Small Group Binder with the color for each group.
This allows me to find my reading resources, like Running Records and other reading notes, quickly.
I'd LOVE to hear how you use color to differentiate in your classroom?
Think you have a bright idea? Check out the challenges on, upload an image of your own solution using color paper and enter to win a yearlong sponsorship from Astrobrights worth $5,000. 
Enter up to four times, once for each challenge. 
 Submit your idea and Astrobrights may feature it as the pick of the week on Facebook to help other teachers colorize their learning.
Visit for details, official rules for entry and hundreds of ideas on how to Colorize Your Classroom. 


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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Short Vowel Intervention

Do any of your students need extra practice learning short vowel sounds?  Most of my students have a really good grasp with short vowel sounds and can blend CVC words together pretty easily.  However, I have a few that need some extra practice with this skill. 
We group our 1st graders into five ability groups for Intervention/Enrichment (I/E) time.  Each of the five 1st grade teachers take a group for 30 minutes in the mornings.  My I/E group is in need of some extra phonics practice, so I wanted to come up with a Short Vowel Intervention to use during this time.
We started our first lesson at the carpet.  I gave each of the students a poem on a clipboard.  We read the short a poem together a couple of times.
Then, the students read the poem with a partner.
When they became more fluent, I gave each student a highlighter and we found all of the short a words.
After we found all of the short a words, I had the students turn their papers over, and we filled up our boxes with short a word family words.
This activity gave me a really good idea of which students understood rhyming words, and which students needed more practice in this skill.
These Short a Word Family books are also a great way for students to practice their phonics skills.
 We will be working with real and nonsense short a words as well.
You can find all of these activities and more in my Short Vowel Intervention Packet.
This BUNDLE includes all 5 short vowels, but you can also purchase each vowel separately. 
Each vowel packet includes:
 -Fluency List and Checklist
-Word Family Boxes
-Word Family Collection Sheets
-Word Family Booklets
-Spin & Write
-Picture Sorts
-Roll, Read, & Write
-Roll and Read Sentences
-Roll and Read Stories
-Name That Picture
-Read to Understand
-Reader's Theater
I plan on making a Long Vowel Intervention packet next.
Click HERE to check out my Short Vowel Intervention Packet.

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Sunday, September 13, 2015

Stitch Fix Giveaway

Have you ever tried Stitch Fix?  I haven't had a chance to blog about it lately, but I still love it.
I seriously have NO time to shop.  Even my Stitch Fix box sat on the floor of my closet for 2 days before I had a chance to open it and try on the clothes. 
For that reason, I had to send back the 3 items that I didn't end up keeping before I had a chance to take any pictures. 
I did want to share with you what I kept, and then a couple of items I kept from a previous Stitch Fix box.
I love this Faux-Wrap Tie Waist Dress that I received in my Stitch Fix last month.  It is SO comfortable! 
In the same Stitch Fix box as the dress, was this Pixie Leighton Gold Bauble necklace.  Even though I really didn't think I needed a necklace, I loved this one, so I kept it.
In this month's Stitch Fix, I had these Liverpool Sienna Jeans that I LOVE!  They are so comfortable, and fit perfectly!  I can never find jeans that fit, so I was thrilled to have these in my Stitch Fix box.
(Sorry that the lighting is terrible!  I took these pictures late last night after getting home from my nephew's birthday party.)
The Market and Spruce Asymmetrical Zip Cardigan was from a previous Stitch Fix box as well.
I also had this gray cable knit cardigan shrug in my last fix that I thought would be a good addition to my fall wardrobe.

 Do you want to try Stitch Fix?

Head on over to Stitch Fix and fill out your Style Profile.  Each fix will cost you a $20 styling fee, but if you choose to purchase an item from your fix, your styling fee is deducted from the cost of your clothes.  If you purchase all 5 items, you get them all at 25% off.  Just click HERE to use my referral code.

Enter to win a $20 gift card to Stitch Fix using the Rafflecopter below. 

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a Rafflecopter giveaway
My friends, Maria from Kindercraze, and Mary from Sharing Kindergarten are also giving away $20 gift cards, so you'll want to head on over to their blogs to enter as well.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Teddy Bear Day

I keep making it my goal to blog more throughout the week.  But, as I'm sure you know very well, teaching is exhausting!  Add in three kids, and my evenings are gone before I know it.
On Wednesday, we had our Teddy Bear Day.  It's always such a fun day, and this year was no different.
I sent a note home the week before letting the parents know that we would be having a Teddy Bear Day at school.  (I always have a few extra bears at school just in case anyone forgets their bear.)  In the note, I let the parents know that if their child does not have a bear, he/she may bring in a different stuffed animal.
The pizza slice just cracked me up!!!  This particular boy has a hilarious sense of humor, and him bringing in a stuffed pizza slice for Teddy Bear Day just fit perfectly.

The students loved reading to their bears, and bringing their bears to the carpet for class meetings. 
We completed lots of activities with our bears including measuring them, writing adjectives about our bears, and finding similarities and differences with each of the stuffed animals.

We used the activities in my Teddy Bear Day unit throughout our day.  The students estimated how many gummy bears were in a container, and then we counted them into groups of ten to find the real amount.
We also found patterns and completed addition and subtraction problems using Teddy Grahams.

The students had so much fun spending the day with their stuffed animals...(or pizza slice.)

You can find these activities and more in my Teddy Bear Day unit.

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