Monday, June 11, 2012

Classroom Technology - Old and New

The last weeks of school are a great time to pull out the a few fun ideas that you haven't had the chance to get to.

First the 'new':

Data projectors and document cameras have replaced a lot of overhead projectors in our school district (if not all of them) but I get questions all time on how to make more effective use of them. There are so many possibilities... one thing I like to do with my students is show them some "Howcast" videos. You can find them online, but it is challenging to show them with all of the advertising (you never know what the content will be.) TIP: ALWAYS use the "Freeze" button on your projector to freeze the screen while you preview an upcoming web page if you are unsure of the content. I have two favorite Howcasts that I got from iTunes as podcasts. Saving them in your iTunes library is more reliable and the content will not change. I show them "How to Make a Tissue Paper Flower" and "How to Make a Clay Animal". We go over the materials needed, the basic steps, and we create some great opening sentences and closing sentences. They complete a graphic organizer, and then write the directions including an opening sentence, the materials needed, and a closing sentence. Here they are working on their projects. Having a project at the end of the writing is a great motivator for the kids to dig in and get it done. Now the 'old':

The last few days of school can find the kids a little restless. It is a great time to bring something out they have never seen before. When we think of technology, we often consider the newer more cutting edge technologies that are new to our classrooms. Often our students have not seen the way things used to be. I have an old Dukane film strip projecter. The kids are mesmerized by the pictures and the cassette tape narration. After seeing a few over a couple days, I like to choose a story, put up the slides one at a time, and have the class help me write the narration for each slide. Their ideas are priceless. After we have completed the narration, I make copies for them and we read it together along with each slide. Of course we include the famous "beep" before advancing the slide.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


... That's me coming up for air. I apologize for neglecting the blog world for a while. The end of the year craziness got the better of my time (and the blogging is what had to give.) I look forward to sharing some of the end of year fun we had as well as what I have in the works for the summer. Stay tuned I promise to be more attentive to my blog.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Late to the (linky) party - Teacher Appreciation Sale!

Well, I'm a little late for the giveaway part, but after taking a few pictures in the yard last weekend I had to share this picture for the Furry Friends Linky Party over at Soaring Through Second

Soaring Through Second
Here is my OLD dog Lucy, with my YOUNG Daughter. Lucy was a shelter rescue and has been a great companion through the years. She has been a great sport as I have changed things on her over and over again. When she was a pup, it was just her and I. We did a lot of fun things together. Then I went and got married. That was forgivable, but now just as Lucy was looking forward to a few peaceful twilight years... We went and brought this kid into the mix. Will she ever get a moments peace? She has been SO patient and she is and always has been such a sweet and gentle dog.
Alright... I didn't want to make a whole new post (So I edited this one), but did want to say I really appreciate all the teachers out there. Especially all the new teachers I have met through the teacher blogs. SO inspirational... some of you are just killing me with all your ideas! To make a potentially long story short, I am going to be participating in the Teachers Pay Teachers, Teacher Appreciation Sale by offering 20% off of my store. Stacking with the 10% off code: TAD12 (See the ad below)
Click on the banner above to visit my TPT store

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Forgotten on Father's Day?

I have seen so many great ideas out there for some of the cutest Mother's Day activities. It made me reflect back on how many times we have done something for Father's (Perhaps being a father myself has made me more sensitive to the issue.) We definitely have not taken equal time to honor fathers the way we have mothers in the past. We make a point to celebrate the students' summer birthdays even though we will not see them on THE day. What ever happened to Father's Day? I decided to make an explicit effort to change this trend in my classroom. Well, if you find yourself in a similar situation, want to find a new way to celebrate fathers, or just want to find an excuse for another relevant writing assignment at the end of the year... this is what I came up with.

If You Give a Dad a Donut

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Jellyfish Project

We have been learning about Jellyfish with Laura's Ocean Animal Invertebrates Writing Unit. My kids did a great job with their writing, but what I want to share today is the cool jellyfish they made. There is an art project with each writing topic in her unit. This is what our jellyfish look like. (No... that is not all of them. My class is NOT that small.)

The image is a little washed out with light, but it shows how great the jellyfish look with the light coming through. They look like neon signs. Thank you to Laura at Over the 1st Grade Rainbow for the wonderful project!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

We have a WINNER! / BIG Sale !!!!!

We used the random number generator and came up with 26!

And comment number 26 is:

Congratulations to Kim. We have your email and will send you those units and the certificate this evening.

Anybody who is interested in the Magic Tree House Passport to Adventure can visit my TPT store today from 3:30 - 8:00 pm PST and get it for $6.00, that is 50% off!!! That is a blog follower special for this short window of opportunity.

If you are interested in the Ocean Writing Unit, please check with Laura at Over the 1st Grade Rainbow and she may be posting details of a sale there as well.

Thank you all SO much for your continued support and for participating in our giveaway. It was fun, so I am sure we will work something out again for the not too distant future.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Classroom Library Management (and... KPM Doodles giveaway reminder)

This is how I manage 5 bookshelves full of books in my classroom library. When the students get a chance to be in the library and self select books to read, I still like to offer them a bit of direction. Each section of each bookshelf has a two sided label with velcro dots. One side says "Open", the other side says "Closed". This explicitly lets the students know where they can get books and where they can't. It assuages the control freak in me and still gives them choices. I can change which sections of the library are open whenever I want. Hooray for Velcro dots! They are a little worse for wear, but they have been in use for several years.

I am excited for the giveaway to end so we can actually give the stuff away. It seems fun! With only a little more than 30 comments, the odds are looking pretty good for people who have entered. Thank you all for participating. Your comments and willingness to play along make it fun to be part of.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Everything is HARD.... (and KPM Doodles Giveaway reminder)

Everything is HARD... until it is easy.

This and the Staples Easy Button are not my idea. I heard it several years ago at our local regional reading conference. I do not remember specifically who it came from, but I do not want to take credit for it when I know better. :P

I have a discussion with my students that goes something like this. "Everything is hard... until it is easy. Almost everything we do is difficult until we learn about it and practice it. Then it becomes easier. Then with more practice, over time you don't even think about how to do it anymore. It is automatic for us... it is easy. When we were little babies, we didn't know how to walk. We learned how, we practiced a lot, and we don't think about it anymore because it is easy for us. The same thing is true for almost everything we know how to do well." We talk about many other things, about how things that are easy for me used to be hard to do, and about the learning they are going to do in first grade. I also encourage them with the idea that just like all the other things that are "easy" for them to do now, hard concepts for them can be learned and with practice and time can become easy.

Enter the Staples Easy Button.

I choose a concept that I want to encourage the students with and when they reach a certain level of mastery, they get to push the Easy Button.

The class loves to hear as the button proclaims, "That was easy." Photobucket

Also... the giveaway looks like it is going to have very great odds for the few people that have signed up so far! Oh... and that collective 100 followers between Over the 1st Grade Rainbow and my blog has become a success! (We only needed one more.) Now onward to whatever the future may bring!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Hoping For 100 Giveaway! KPM Doodles Clip Art!

Hoping for 100 Giveaway! Many blogs celebrate 100 followers by having a giveaway. My friend Laura at Over the 1st Grade Rainbow and I are hoping to get to 100 followers. Collectively we have 99 followers. (That is clearly within reach.) We are striving for 100 each. So what does this mean for you? A GIVEAWAY! Kirsten at KPM Doodles is practically my neighbor and she has graciously offered a gift certificate for this giveaway. Her work is amazing and SO cute. Visit her Etsy shop KPM Doodles at Esty and her blog as well KPM Doodles Blog.
So here is what is at stake:
A gift certificate from KPM Doodles good for 3 combo sets or 6 single sets.
Laura’s Ocean Invertebrates Writing Unit.
Mike’s Tree House Passport to Adventure.

Tree House Passport to Adventure
Here is how to enter (each is worth one entry):
1. Leave a comment saying that you already follow both of our blogs.
Here is Laura's: Over the 1st Grade Rainbow
2. If you are not a follower, then sign up to follow both of us and leave a comment here.
3. Blog about the giveaway and leave a comment when you do!
4. Follow both of our Teachers Pay Teachers stores. Then let us know with a comment here.
Over the 1st Grade Rainbow @ TPT
First Upon A Time @ TPT
Good luck to everybody who takes the time to enter. We will random draw for a winner on Thursday, April 19th.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Spring Reading Review

What says spring more than sheep and penguins? With reading assessments just around the corner I put together this small pack of reading review materials. It has an original reading passage (focusing on skills they will need in the reading assessments). The story features a sheep and a penguin racing. I have had some teachers tell me that the suspense and action in this original story rivals that of the Hunger Games. Now I don't know about that, but for $1.25 the story and the activities are a steal!
We use this to review Theme 7 and 8 in the Houghton Mifflin reading series. But reading skills are fairly universal, so I hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Table points

I know a lot of teachers that offer table points when tables can pull it together and do a good job, or when participation starts to taper off a bit, table points can re-energize student's interest in helping out. I have seen many ways to manage table points. Here is how I like to give out table points. I hang cups from the ceiling above each table. When I want to reward tables I toss them monkeys from the Barrel Of Monkeys game. If they fill the cup, the monkeys get to link on to the sides of the cup and overflow from the sides hanging on for dear life. Why Barrel of Monkeys? The kids love it... and that is what occurred to me at the time. I like it because they can put their points in their own cup, the cup is basically out of reach when the kids are sitting (so they are not tempted to play with them), and I can carry them around with me or toss them to tables from the front of the room. I even found a variation on the Barrel of Monkeys game that uses rabbits instead, which makes it perfect to use during spring. At the end of the week we count up the points and the tables with the most points get first choice of ribbons to hang from their cup string. All the tables end up with ribbons, but there are some that are definite class favorites. (More on the ribbons another time.) Silly? Perhaps, but it is the small out of the ordinary things that the kids really enjoy.
A little nonsense now and then is cherished by the wisest men. -Roald Dahl

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Magic Tree House Question/Activity pack

It is finally ready. I have been putting the packet together for a while. It has questions for all the chapters of Magic Tree House books 1-16 and a handful of other activities. I wish this was available before I started out to make all of this. My kids love the Magic Tree House books and they also love to track their progress as they work through things. This is my very first for pay TPT item. If you would like to check it out click the picture.
Tree House Passport to Adventure

If your students read the Magic Tree House books you really should consider giving this a look! It is on sale for an introductory price!

New FREEBIE - Math Activity with Common Core poster

I have been busy trying to get some projects done. This is one of them. I can see adding more to it in the future. But for now I hope you enjoy this. My class did a great job with it! Click on the picture to visit the download page.
I hope you download it and like it. If you do, please provide some feedback. I have been busy and hope to have more freebies and projects finished soon.

Monday, April 2, 2012

5 Days of giveaways at Finally in First!

Here is an incredible giveaway over at Finally in First!  Five consecutive days of giveaways.  First day is a home laminator! Wow!  That's good stuff! Go check it out!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Bunny Poem Project

This is a project we did just before going on spring break.  I love to do fun little projects illustrating poems. It is a fun way to get a small art project in and share some poetry. (The kids love to read short poems!)

 The poem is by Susan Olson Higgins.  I am 95% it is from her book The Bunny Book. It is no longer in print but you can find used copies online. 

Saturday, March 31, 2012

New header and a button grab

So fun! I spent a little (well actually a lot)of time reading up on how to fix up the blog a bit. I wound up making very few changes. But one thing I was able to do was put together my very own header picture and a "Grab My Button" for the sidebar. If you happen by the blog, let me know what you think.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Abra Lincolnham

As I mentioned below, we started working on money this week. I asked my class if they knew who the guy on the penny is. Several of my students raised their hands. I called on one of them. "It's Abra Lincolnham!" Too funny. Its one of the great things about teaching first grade... particularly with second language learners.
We started working on money this week. It was also our last week before spring break. (Smiles) The kids were definitely ready for a little artistic outlet. So a few of us in first grade decided to do this piggy bank project. We got these cute pigs from Oriental Trading Company. The pigs started like this:
Then we painted the base coat.
Next we decorated them and put on the eyes.
What a colorful group of pigs.
And of course because we can't do anything without a learning outcome I made up a tally data sheet to record how many pigs we had of each color and a graphing page with questions. I will put these sheets together in a nice little package and post them on my TPT store for you to download for free if you are interested in doing this in your class. The kids loved having these to take home before spring break. My good friend Laura over at Over the 1st Grade Rainbow did these pigs too. You can check them out there and see some of her other cute spring activities.
Hooray for a much needed break. Looking forward to a little recharge to help me be at my best for all my little friends.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Thank You! Thank You!

I want to start with a heartfelt Thank You to everybody that took the time to visit, comment on, and follow my new blog. I owe a debt of gratitude to Michelle at The 3am Teacher for giving my blog a mention.
I would go on about how wonderful her blog is, but seeing as how most of you got here by her suggestion I suppose you know already. I made a promise on her blog to visit each and every one of you that commented here and left your link. I will follow through although it may take time to get to them all. One of my dear friends and colleagues is my grade level partner in crime on the blogging scene. We have been sharing thoughts and ideas and wondering how in the world you get anybody out there to come participate with us. I am proud to call you all my first followers and hope to do your faith in me proud. I encourage anybody reading this to visit another up and coming first grade blog and take a look at her fun Freebies. Her name is Laura and her blog is Over The First Grade Rainbow

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Clip Art Giveaway!

Fun For First is giving away some KMP Doodles clip art on the blog.  I might not have posted about this giveaway if it weren't for the fact that I really like her clip art.  There is still time to get in on the giveaway opportunity.  See the details here:

Click Here

First Freebie!

Here is a fun activity that I like to do during the week leading up to spring break.  It is an activity that the kids love to do that practices words with long vowels and consonant blends. I close these reading strips into each egg. I put a small prize in each egg.  I hid the eggs around the room and the class gets to find them. When we read our way around all of the eggs, the kids get to open up their eggs and get their fun surprise.
If you would like to download the file for this activity, visit my TPT store and download it for FREE!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Picking up momentum

Alright,  I have been working on some ideas to share.  I have put together one packet with a fun Spring/Easter activity to practice some reading.  It is one of those little "freebies" that everyone is so keen on. It is a quick activity that my students really enjoy.   I am going to do my best to get the file loaded for tomorrow and share it. Being new to the blogging and file sharing has made the process a little slower than I would like.  Learning about it has been fun and I can't wait to get a more regular progression of ideas and posts coming along.  So please continue to check back in!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Thank you...

Just a quick thank you to all the early elementary bloggers, the pinterest pinners, the TPT teachers, and my awesome first grade team.  Ideas are flowing faster and stronger than ever due to all the sharing happening out there and at school.  It is inspirational and humbling.  The students we all have are the beneficiaries. Here's hoping that school and personal life find an acceptable balance.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

First Post... Getting it together.

O.K. - So nothing really of note here yet.  Just getting this space set up so it is ready to go when I am.  Hope to see you here again soon.  :)