Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Gingerbread Boy Story and Backpack

Each year we build gingerbread houses as part of our classroom party. The children have a blast and I run around the whole time looking for finger lickers. It's just too tempting for these little munchkins sometimes. Their parents would never forgive me if I send them home with a cold during their two week break. Hand sanitizer is my friend during this event.
I wanted to have a few activities with this theme leading up to this grand finale, so I thought we would do a few lessons with our favorite cookie... the Gingerbread Man. I'll be using the reader with my ESL group and focus on vocabulary. This will be a perfect reader for them to build their confidence and brainstorm words that describe animals.

 Normally, I would make the backpack for the kids to keep their retell cards in, as well a memory game they can take with them to play at home. This year, we are making sweet little 3 x 6 ceramic tiles as Christmas gifts. I'll have them using their finger tips to form a Christmas tree, put in the kiln, and add a ribbon. Presto! A keepsake a parent would cherish forever. I'll post them when they are complete. I thought these sweet gingerbread  bags would be perfect to place their gift in. Place a little tissue paper inside and the wrapping couldn't get any easier.

Find this packet by clicking here.
So easy to do.

I hope everyone is enjoying the start of December. We have an entire neighborhood a few miles from where I live that decorates their homes to the max. Think Griswald Christmas. I love it. The gaudier the better. We've gone three times since Thanksgiving. What do you love most about this season?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Mooseltoe and Olive the Other Reindeer

We have three school weeks until Christmas and I'm wondering how I'm going to get it all done. One of the best things about this time of year in first grade are the stories. I LOVE all the wonderful Christmas stories. Two of my all time favorites are Mooseltoe and Olive the Other Reindeer

I made some activities to go along with these stories. I'm always in need of finding meaningful lessons for my parents to use during their small groups. So many of these are perfect for just that. Often I read a book and don't ask enough questions afterwards. I sometimes feel like we are having to rush from here to there. Now that I have some follow up activities ready to go, I hope to really focus on comprehension.

The two craftivities in the set I love, love, love. First, with Moose, who doesn't love glitter and sequins? Really what more needs to be said. Olive is a craft and puzzle built into one. I love giving the kids the triangles and then telling them they need to use the 9 small triangles to make one large triangle. I always have a few figure it out before I start giving clues. You can also flip the large triangle, cut 9 small green triangles and PRESTO - you have a Christmas tree. Just add sequins for ornaments.

Check it out! Click here.
Here's another fun option to try.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Turkeys In Disguise

The last time I posted was when school started and now in a blink Thanksgiving is around the corner. I have 33 students this year and they are keeping me on my toes. We are working in small groups each day to try and meet the needs of all the kids because having that many munchkins at one time can get tough. 
I read a lot of Thanksgiving stories, but my two favorite are A Plump and Perky Turkey and Turkey Trouble. 

 Both stories are about pretty clever turkeys that have other ideas about being the main course for Thanksgiving. We did a lot of activities around these stories and had a blast. I read each book several times and each time the students sat quietly  to listen. You gotta love that! I made a cute 6 page book to go with the theme of "clever turkeys" trying to disguise themselves or outwit the humans. We focused on prepositions. I first did a lesson prior (grab it as a freebie below) and talked about each of the words. These words were new to many of my second language learners. Then we did the easy to prep book. Afterwards, we made the turkey craftivity, glued it to a craft stick, and practiced our best turkey voices. The goofier the better. We read the booklet and when they were finished with the page, they held up their turkey disguise and read the voice bubble..."No turkeys here." It was fun. They loved their silly voices. They took it home with the assignment to read it three times to someone at home.
Fun six page book. Easy to prep. Interactive!
Quick and fun craft to go with the book.

Find these literature activities here.
Grab this freebie, here.
Are there any Thanksgiving books that are your favorite? Let me know what I can add to my list.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Let's Make Some Noise!

Well it's the first week back and I already seem to be behind. How does that happen so fast? I have a full class with 33 first graders and it seems as if we are always on top of each other. For those of us who work with the little ones, you know how antsy they can be when they are starting off the year. I know I better get a handle on it fast, because it will set the tone for the entire year.

I have always been a big believer in acknowledging the good behavior with a blow horn, rather than blasting them for negative behavior. I feel like a grouch when I'm constantly correcting poor choices. "Raise your hand. Don't shout out. Keep your hands to yourself. Look up front." Ewwww. When I give praise for the positive behavior..."Thank you for raising your hand. Look how Johnny is facing front. Lilly always waits to be called on, way to go!" It changes my whole attitude. Acknowledging kids desired behavior, will encourage the behavior again. Bring attention to the positive behavior in front of the class and others will be encouraged to do the same.

This year I've made some "anytime acknowledgements" to pass out to a few kids each day. These notes are quick and easy. They are not in color because they should not be saved for a special awards ceremony. I keep a class list and check which character note each student has already received. I have a large coupon folder in which I store the notes. I try and pass out 3 a day and by the end of 2 weeks, the whole class should have been recognized. If I have a few extra minutes, I might jot a message. If I am short on time, the note is sufficient to let the parents know what behavior their child has been rewarded for.

Rock & Roll - Anytime Acknowledgements

So much fun!

I like using positive character traits as the foundation for these notes because it allows me to talk to the kids about behaviors that make a person of strong character. When children remember to bring in their share, I say, “Amy showed responsibility. She remember to bring in her share. Awesome job!” Playing a math game with partners, “Johnny and Jason are great partners, They’re taking turns and waiting patiently. Great cooperation!” 
Check out the freebie below. See what you think.
Grab this freebie at my TpT store.

Friday, July 12, 2013

"Bucket Filler...That's Me"

"Bucket Filler...That's Me"
Have you heard of the Bucket Filler books? If not, you must check them out. They are a wonderful addition to your classroom library. I created "Bucket Filler...That's Me" to compliment these books and it will enhance your students' understanding of what it means to "fill a bucket" or to be a "bucket dipper". 

"Fill a Bucket" Freebie
 Grab the "Fill a Bucket" Word Search Freebie. My kids love, love, love word searches. It's something they can easily do on their own and they love helping each other out. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Barrels of Apples and Johnny Too!

Barrels of Apples at TpT
The new school year will be here before you know it (Boooo!). Time to get out my apple unit. I decided to change it up a bit this year and I'm excited about all of the new additions. The kids get real antsy, especially at the beginning of the year, so it was important that I make the lessons fun and hands-on. 

 Who doesn't love a craftivity? We're going to make Johnny Appleseed to place on the top of our paragraph. I use Step Up to Writing as a model for our writing series and I love it. It's clear and shows the kids step by step how to write a paragraph at every level. Find all these activities in my new unit, Bundles of Apples and Johnny too!

I'm including a tried and true freebie below. Reinforce the subtraction concept with this hands-on math lesson. We have these great baskets I punch out with an Ellison cutter and the kids can glue them down in a way that they can place the "apples" inside the basket, but in case you don't have something like that available, the baskets included work just fine. I usually do this in a small group, so I can make sure everyones number sentence matches their picture before they glue it down. Have fun!

Bundles of Apples - Subtraction Freebie

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Classroom Bulletin Board and Touch Points

This year I've decided to change some things around and I'm so happy with how they turned out. We have a super short summer this year because of a calendar change, so I got some bulletin boards up early. I didn't want to have to show up even earlierand cut the summer even shorter.
At the end of the year, my grade level partner was complaining about never having enough of those large posters for Star of the Week. We usually have more than 30 kids in our class. Throughout the year, kids leave, they come, and they go. The poster packs usually have 24 to 30 posters in them. She didn't want to have to buy a whole new pack for just a few children. The money can really add up and you end up with mismatched posters. So I decided there has to be a better way and at the same time make it match your classroom style. I made a pack of Superheroes- Star of the Week. There are 5 sections. You pass out the half sheets for the child to fill out. Easy shmeezy. It also has a bunch of other stuff... I posted the picture below and I just love the colors. My friend is crazy for owls, so that's what she has in her room. My second grade buddy is groovy, so she got a Hippi Theme.

Touch Points for your walls.
Touchpoints are something I also use a lot of at the beginning of the year. Some kids definitely use them more than others. I put them on their desks as well as post them up on the window for them to refer to. I have a set below for you to download it is something you like to use as well. I just cut a half inch border, then placed them on fun colored construction paper. I also have students practice touchpoints with some fun super hero practice sheets. Give Batman a try.
You can also grab the whole set...HERE.

Try this fun freebie with your class. Grab it here.