Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Rockin’ New Look for My New Firsties!

     Sorry I’m so late in my classroom reveal this year, been awful busy. Anyway, this school year I wanted a new look. A new “rockin” look! I spent a lot of time and money focusing on the layout of my classroom. My big summer goal was to revamp my classroom library. Last year it was organized and functional, but was not as inviting as I would have liked. Your class library should be the focus point of your room and should make students want to go grab a book and read! My layout last year had my library by the door and on the hard tile floor. Not at all what I wanted, but I had limited space and no other options last year. This year I moved all of my computers to the others side of the classroom, got rid of bulky furniture that I no longer needed, and Opened up tons of floor space. I ended up moving my library to the center of my room and now looks SO INVITING! Here is a look at the new reading space.


     I used the organization library labels from Maria Monroe at Kinder Craze to sort all of my class books. Each book in the bin has the matching picture so it’s easy for students to put away their books. They just have to match the picture on the back of the book with the picture on the bin. Simple as can be! I can’t wait to see how much time this saves me, since I won’t have to constantly put books away and organize them. I also bought a rug so students no longer have to sit on the hard floor, but instead can sit or lay out on the comfy rug. There are also three bean bag chairs and pillows that students can cozy up in and read a good book!


     My next goal for the summer was to redo my computer area. Last year my computers were sitting 3 on one table and 3 on the other facing each other. It took up so much floor space this way and I couldn’t see what all my kids were doing on the computers at all times. So this year, I have all computers lined up and facing the wall, to open space and allow me to quickly monitor my student computers from a glance. I also added computer expectations and rules above with my new product Computer Rules Classroom Display.


     For my word wall this year, I decided to place it on my back wall in between the windows. This is a great place for it, so all students are able to see it. I am in love with the black backdrop, and the bright neon colors popping on the wall. I also love how one of my students told me that it would be helpful if I pointed out what letters are vowels, so I ended up putting a star on the corner of the vowel big pictures for student future reference.

Word Wall       On the wall out in the hallway, I decided to go a little simpler this year, since it would only be out there for open house night and a week or two after. I took old records, and push pinned them into the wall, they actually spin in place! Then I ordered two decorative plastic rockstar backdrops from Oriental Trading for the sides.


     My math wall this year has Tunstall’s STACK GUided Math posted. I also used Maria Monroe’s Domino Number Cards 0-20 to go around the top and down the side. I kept up my addition strategies cards from last year and moved my 100’s chart over to the math wall. Now that all of my math resources are in one place, it is much easier for students to look for information and tools they need.

math wall

     I also printed and made new magnets for my students. Each student gets assigned a number for the year, and every time they leave the room individually they can mark where they are leaving to. This makes tracking where my students are at, at all times, very simple and quick. (I also make putting the stars back in order at the end of the day, and straightening up a bit, a class job. I call it my board cleaner job!)


     For student birthdays, I used A Star Was Born by Bubbly Blonde on TpT. I edited my students birthdays on music themed labels and then placed each students name under their birthday month. I love this quick and easy reference display. I placed it by my computers, because student birthdays are their passwords for logging in. How handy! When it is a student’s birthday, I give them a birthday card that we sign as a class, a Laffy Taffy stick on a guitar cutout, and a small inflatable guitar!


     Open House Night was an epic success this year. My classroom was very organized. I learned so much from last year, that I felt this year it went as smooth as possible. I set up different centers in a clockwise direction for students/parents to follow. First, they picked up a student handbook. I created this flipbook with any and all information possible for my parents to have handy throughout the school year. Then students and parents, found their seat and looked through their ROCKSTAR Binders. Next, they put their community supplies into labeled bins. Third, they filled out a transportation sheet, that tells how students get home each day of the week. I have this available for free here, just click on the picture below. Fourth, I made a class wish list and put different items on guitar pick cutouts. If parents could, they took a wish list item to bring in at their earliest convenience. Last, they gut a treat (Pop Rocks, that said “This year is going to ROCK!”) and made sure to say hello to me before they left.

Transportation Sheet 

Enjoy and Happy Teaching!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Tick, Tock… Time Has Been Flying BY!

     We have been so busy in the first grade. My first graders have been learning all sorts of new things. Where to start? Hmm… last week we worked on plants and graphing. My students had a blast with graphing. They did all the activities out of my Graphs Galore packet. Students absolutely loved the I Spy, Graphing Activities. I gave students all sorts of sorting mats. They used counters to help them keep track of how many of each picture they see on their mat. Next, they filled in their tally charts and answered the questions about the given survey. Finally, they used their information to color in and graph their data. The different graphs included: favorite snack, favorite pet, favorite fruit, favorite sea creature, and favorite insect. Students loved having to find their data on the sorting mat and it made learning hands-on and interactive for them! Here is one of the six I Spy activities.

Click the picture below to download the Graphs Galore packet!
     We then moved on to learning about time. The standard for first grade is to read and tell time to the nearest half hour using both analog and digital clocks. I created several visual, hands-on, interactive, and engaging activities for teaching my students about time. We started off by singing a song to teach students about the long minute hand and the short hour hand. We then got out their student clocks and my big teacher clock, and practiced whole rotations about the clock (telling time to the hour), then half rotations (telling time to the half hour)… they loved having their own clocks to manipulate. Then played Clock Concentration, Read the Room, and I Have, Who Has card game.


      Then my students did my favorite activity about learning time called “What’s the Time?” Students walk around the room and ask each other “What’s the time?”  They are instructed not to answer each other but show each other their watch. They write down each other’s name and time displayed on their watch on their recording sheet. It was adorable to see students acting like young adults with their watches! :)


     Another adorable activity was assembling their Flower Clock craftivity for a visual manipulative for analog clocks and their Digital Flipbook for digital clocks. The Flower clock was used as a visual reminder of how the analog clock works. The longer leaf represented the longer minute hand. While the short leaf represented the short hour hand. Each petal represented the minutes around the clock. Students loved this, they love thinking about time in this way!

     The Digital Flipbook is one of my favorite creations thus far. Students make their very own digital clock to manipulate. I have students display a time I give them vocally or show them on analog clock, just by flipping through their book to the correct numbers. Students loved having this interactive way of showing their responses in time. I’m in love with this!

     All of this and more in my tpt product called Tick Tock, Let’s Read the Clock. It’s a 60 page packet full of anything and everything you could possibly think of for teaching about time in grades K-3. I have CC standards stated with each activity.
     All in all, we have been busy learning as much as we can before the year is up. Speaking about time… “Where has the school year gone?” I feel like I was just preparing my classroom a few weeks ago. Anyway, next week is Easter in the First Grade. I have sooooo many plans for my kiddos. All found in my tpt Easter product called Easter Chicks. I have these adorable bunnies for my students to make after answering questions on their glyph.
Bunny Glyph FemaleBunny Glyph Male

    We are also going to do this super cool science experiment with Peeps. Then fill in our daily observations in our Disappearing Peeps Science Journals. Find everything you might possibly think of to make next week EGG-citing for your students.

Click below to download!
Easter Chicks Packet

Enjoy and Happy Teaching!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

A Hopping Good Week!

     This week my firsties had a blast learning about their favorite little amphibians, frogs! We started off the week same as always, we filled in our anchor chart on schema, new learning, and misconceptions. Students came up with so many great facts for schema, I was surprised at how much they already knew! I loved how they connected to other learning with some of their answers. They said they know that frogs can be different colors, and then one student said, “I think they might be camouflage to blend in like penguins.” There is no better feeling as a teacher! Their only misconception was they thought frogs were quiet. Here is a picture of my anchor chart I made for frogs.
     Then we read The Frog Prince. While I read, the students filled in their story map to show comprehension of the story. When finished, we did a class graphing activity. I asked the students if they would kiss a frog like the princess in the book. After graphing, we answered questions about our graph. The funny thing about this activity was that when I first posed the question all the kids said “Ew!” but obviously some of them changed their mind.
     We read aloud a non-fiction book about Frogs. They wrote down on sticky notes any new fact they learned. They had some great new facts. I then handed students their Froggy Research paper. They started writing down the answers to any questions they knew. They kept this paper in their unfinished work folder all week. I gave students the book from my packet called My Little Book about Frogs and they read through this with a partner in the room. They illustrated each page to show understanding of the text. Then they got to take this books home and share with their family.
     One of my favorite parts of frog week was the frog-themed math centers I created. My first graders needed a bit of polishing up on their number sense after Spring Break. So, I designed 5 centers that helped them work on their number sense and fluency. They built numbers with connecting cubes, stacked them into order, practiced counting on, adding up to find totals, etc. Here are some pictures from Froggy Math Centers.
     We finished the week off with students presenting their Frog Informative Writing pieces. They used all of the information they learned throughout the week to write a research paper on frogs. They used my Writing Process to produce their finished papers. Click here if you’d like to buy my Writing Process. They wrote their papers, then matted them onto construction paper. Then, they added their frog parts, and poof! They had these absolutely adorable frogs. They loved these and were so proud to show them off. They read them aloud to the class and enjoyed Froggy Floats during the presentations. The recipe for this is included in my packet! It was a class favorite.

Download my frog-themed unit by clicking on the picture above. It’s full of math, science, literacy, and other fun activities and resources. Enjoy and Happy Teaching! Ribbit, Ribbit!

Monday, March 24, 2014

A Seuss-tastic Week!

     This week we did an author’s study on the famous Dr. Seuss.  The students loved learning in-depth about their favorite children author and illustrator.  Especially after we celebrated his birthday the week before Spring Break!  We started off by filling in our weekly chart.  Each week we fill in a topic of focus chart with three categories: SCHEMA, NEW LEARNING, and MISCONCEPTIONS.  I then ask students what they already know about the topic (SCHEMA).  Then, as we learn throughout the week we add any new findings about the topic in the NEW LEARNING space.  Anything from SCHEMA that we find out to be false, we move to MISCONCEPTIONS.  This is a chart that we review each day to build a strong understanding on the topic.  Students often reference this chart during writing activities for recalling information.
     On Tuesday, we read Green Eggs and Ham.  After reading, I had students graph whether they like Green Eggs and Ham.  I gave them a picture of a egg to color in green and had them put their name on it.  They then place their vote under YES or NO on the class chart.  We then analyzed this information to compile a graph and answered questions by interpreting data as a  whole group.
     My favorite activity of the whole week was a class book writing project aligned with Green Eggs and Ham.  We talked about what we noticed in the book: rhyming, silly ideas, nonsense words, crazy illustrations, etc.  I told my students that everyone was going to be responsible for one page in the class book.  They had to come up with two words that rhyme.  One word needed to be a food item and the second word needed to be a thing.  I found this page on for free!  On the printable page it says, “I do not like Green Eggs and Ham! I do not like them (Student’s Name) I am! But I would eat _______ on a _______.”  I came up with “I do not like Green Eggs and Ham! I do not like them Ms. Engels I am! But I would eat pizza on a cheetah.”  My students were laughing hysterically when I read them my page.  They could not wait to be creative on their own to complete their own rhyme.  First we brainstormed some possible rhyming words.  We listed a bunch of favorite foods on the board and came up with words that rhymed with each food item.  I always like to get my kiddos thinking and on the right mind track before setting them on their own.  Click here to go check out the blog to download this fun and wacky Seuss activity!
     on Wednesday, we read The Foot Book and learned about antonyms.  Students loved learning about opposites and could not stop giving different examples.  After talking with my teaching partner, we decided that next year we needed to have an Opposite Day when we taught about antonyms.  I simply sketched out a pair of feet on a piece of paper for students to list opposites on.  They put one word in one color on one foot and the opposite in the same color on the other foot.  They came up with SO MANY great examples like: messy/clean, rich/poor, nice/mean, healthy/sick, light/dark, yummy/disgusting, new/old, silly/serious, sweet/sour, stop/go, etc.  Later in the afternoon we read Fox in Sox and switched the focus to synonyms.  I sketched out a pair of socks on a piece of paper for students to list words that mean the same on.
     Next, we read the Cat in the Hat and worked on story sequencing. We looked at different events that happened in the story on sentence strips and placed them in the correct order together as a class.  Then, students brainstormed about what a day with Thing 1 and Thing 2 at their house would be like. They used my writing process to complete this assignment.  The students came up with some very hilarious stories!  Some decided they would let Thing 1 and Thing 2 in and play board games, make mini pizzas, and watch movies with them. Others wrote about how they would barricade (YES! One of my first graders used this word!!!) the doors and lock the windows, and keep them out of their house. Like I’ve said before, my first graders always wow me with their creativity and imagination with writing.
     Finally, to finish our Dr. Seuss unit off, we read the book Bartholomew and the Oobleck. Not a single student in my class had heard of this book before and so they all loved it. They were really engaged when following the adventures of Bartholomew who must save his kingdom from a sticky yucky substance called “oobleck.” When I closed the book, the students hands shout up. They immediately asked, “Can we please make our own oobleck?” Lucky for them, I was prepared! We used the recipe I found here to make the Oobleck with Borax and white glue. It stretched good and wasn’t sticky. I gave each student a handful of it in a Ziploc bag to take home. 
All in all, the kids had a blast learning about Dr. Seuss. Now we are working on our next unit, Frogs. Ribbit Ribbit!!!
Enjoy and Happy Teaching!