Sunday, October 4, 2015

Fall is FINALLY Here!: Scarecrows and Pumpkins OH, MY!

I am SO excited that October is finally here! It is my favorite season! The weather is still very warm here, but sweaters, boots, and scarves are on the horizon, my friends! As soon as it is humanly possible, I bring Fall into my classroom.

 Last week, I introduced acrostic poetry to my students. I started off by reading one of my favorite fall stories:
Image result for the old lady who was not afraid of anything
This got my kiddos hooked! Then I introduced how to use a thesaurus. The kids worked in pairs to come up with words that described a scarecrow. Next, we made a chart of all the words and phrases that described a scarecrow using the letters in the word. 

After we wrote our poems, it was time to build our scarecrows!

The kids took so much pride and ownership into following the directions and building the perfect scarecrow. Too darn cute! I don't have a lot of bulletin board space, so here are their scarecrow masterpieces hanging from the ceiling. You can find all the scarecrow templates and writing ideas in my Scarecrow Craftivity and Writing Prompts pack.

I also did my first directed drawing lesson of the year with my kiddos. I was looking on Pinterest and found this little gem. When I went to the website, it did not take me to the actual lesson. I hunted around, but I used the pinned picture for directions instead because I needed to make a sample before the kids came into the classroom and time was running out! 
Step 1: We used pencils to sketch the drawing step-by-step. This allowed for mistakes to be erased, since this was their first drawing of the year. Then, we used black felt tip markers to trace over our lines.

Step 2: I showed the kids how to shade using different colors of yellow and orange.

Step 3: Color the background sections using solid colors or with patterns. We used crayons this time. Oil pastels and water colors would also be great to use.

I mounted them on black paper so they would POP! Viola! I think they turned out marvelous!

I love these lessons because it forces my students to listen and follow directions. It helps them with their fine motor skills and introduces them to different types of art and art mediums. They are so proud of themselves when they are done. This will be the first piece that goes into their art portfolio for the year! 

Friday, October 2, 2015

Making Math Fun!

MATH... Oh, how I love thee! I am super excited to be linking up this month with some fabulous bloggers to bring you tons of fun math strategies and games.
I love to teach math. I am always looking for new ways to engage my students and get them to embrace the new ways of the Common Core strategies and how to explain their thinking. This can be so difficult for so many students. They can tell you that 10+2=12 but they can't tell you why. Well, those days are over in my classroom! I always tell them, I don't care what your answer is, I want to know HOW you got it. PROVE IT!  

Anytime I can incorporate math and a craft, I DO IT! We just finished up our addition and subtraction strategies unit. I wanted my students to PROVE they learned the strategies I taught them. I used this little craft to bring fall into our classroom AND have them review their addition strategies. 
You can use this template to incorporate whatever math strategy your kiddos are working on at the moment. Students can show how to make 10, fact families, arrays, skip counting etc.  It just brings a bit of fun into your math lessons. The kids don't realize they are working on math and they tend to be more focused and proud of their work. 

Click the picture above to grab your {FREEBIE} copy of this activity to use with your students too.

One of my favorite math strategies, that is always a home run with my students, is to use INTERACTIVE notebooks. My students squeal with delight when we work in our interactive notebooks. I don't think they actually realize they are using their math knowledge when we are creating pages in our notebooks. 
I love the activities because they are perfect for independent practice during math centers. During center time, I always have my students review concepts I have previously taught. This gives them a chance to review and practice what they know. 

We also use our notebooks to  work on problem solving skills. Each problem solving page asks the students to identify what is being asked in the word problem, draw a picture to show their thinking, write a number sentence and the answer. However, what is MOST important about the word problem pages, is an explanation of HOW they solved the problem. I love this part because it makes my students think and explain. When they can do that, they are more likely to understand and retain the concept being taught!

Are you ready to get started with interactive notebooks? Check out this FREEBIE sampler with a few activities that will get your students engaged and excited about math. 

Now is it is YOUR turn! Link up with us! Share your math strategies and ideas with all of us. 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Weekend Warriors Link Up: Sight Word Sensations

The Weekend Warriors are back this month in full gear! This month we are talking all about SIGHT WORDS! 

Let's face it... sight words are tricky! Kids struggle learning them and we struggle finding fun and creative ways to get our students to learn them. It doesn't matter what grade I teach, first, second, or even fourth grade....I always have students who are struggling with their sight words.

Every school year I have a group of students who know their sight words like the back of their hands. But the majority of my students struggle with them. Maybe they can read some of them, but they can't always spell them. Some are even still trying to sound them out, which we know is not possible for many reasons. They have to know them by sight, with automaticity, in order to become strong readers. 

I like to start my school year, reviewing sight words the students should know from first grade. This is a quick assessment for me. It is just one tool I use to help me gauge where my students' skill levels are when they come to me. After I test them, I give them flash cards with the words they need to still learn. I love these flash cards because they have the word written in letter boxes for the students to visually see how the word is written.  This strategy helps many of my struggling learners. 

Learning and reviewing sight words can be so dull and boring. I want my students engaged! I have created several ways of doing this. One way is to focus on a small number of words at a time. Four or five words seems to be the magic number for most of my kiddos. 

This activity helps the students recognize sight words in different fonts, sizes and shapes. Once they identify the words, the students graph how many times they saw each word. 

I also like my students to see the sight words in text. I created fluency and cloze reading passages for this reason. Students need to see the words in context, not just in isolation in order to remember, retain, and use the words correctly. 

Are you ready to use some of these activities in your classroom? Try them out for yourself. This {FREEBIE} BONUS pack of activities is just for you. 

Now it is YOUR turn! We want YOU to link up with us too! Just grab the images and monthly theme banner above and create your own blog post about how you teach and/or use sight words in your classroom. Share your ideas and join in all the sight word fun!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Classroom Sneak Peek + FREEBIES

Hello, sweet friends! I feel like I have been missing from the blogging world for a little too long. A few weeks ago my family and I were doing a little vacationing. 

We flew into Seattle and spent a couple days there being tourists and enjoyed the town. Then we took a ferry to the San Juan Islands and spent the week enjoying nature, fishing, and EATING, EATING and EATING some more delicious seafood! I tried to unplug as much as possible. As soon as we got home, it was time to start my classroom prep. So blogging has been put to the back burner until now!

I feel like I could work in my classroom ALL year, without kids, and NEVER be completely ready. I am overly organized and prepared and I still feel this way. Here is a little bit of what I have been doing in my home away from home....
 I love to make my kiddos feel special on their birthday. I created these birthday blooms to do just that. I change what I attach them to every year. I have used crazy straws, mechanical pencils, birthday pencils and more. I keep them in this pot all year. When its the student's birthday, they "pick" there birthday bloom from the pot. You can grab your copy of this FREEBIE by clicking HERE. The file is editable too!
I also have a class birthday board. Once the kids arrive I take a group picture of 
all the kids who have birthdays each month. Then I print and laminate them to have up on our birthday board all year. 
I love our Second Grade Makes Us "App"y welcome door! This is from my talented friend, Molly, at Lucky To Be In First.

I finally found black pocket charts! The heavens must be hearing me sing (cover your ears). Seriously though, I LOVE Them. I put my student "I Can" standards cards in them, so I can easily switch them out AND my administration and students will know EXACTLY what we are focusing on.
 I LOVE, LOVE, L-O-V-E my new behavior chart from Learning in Wonderland. Now, I know, behavior charts seem to be a hot topic lately, but it works for my students and I. I like how students can easily improve on their behavior and move their clips up. It provides accountability. My students fill out a behavior chart at the end of each day with the color they are on. At the end of the week, they take the chart home and have it signed. This provides parents with the information they need and cuts down on "how is my child behaving/doing in class" questions.

 I have very little wall space in my classroom, so I have to be creative and use every surface creatively. My behavior chart is on one side of my file cabinet. I love it because it dresses it up AND I can use magnetic student numbers, instead of clothespins that always seems to break during the year.
I was inspired by Amy Lemons to dress up and label my file cabinets. She has a great freebie you can download. I, however, created my own labels that are similar because I wanted the titles to fit my needs. I don't know why I didn't do it sooner. 

I have prepped my first day of school treat bags. I made these labels last year for all grade levels. You can grab the labels for your classroom by heading over to my Facebook page. Click on the Freebie For Fans tab on the left side of the page.

During special activities our students wear name tags (music, art, theater etc.) until those teachers get to know the kids. I also use them if we are going to a special assembly that is interactive and the presenter would need to call on students. 

These are just a few of the little things that are helping me get the school year off right. I will give you a full room tour next week once school is underway. 

I hope each of you are enjoying what is left of your summer or have kicked off your school year with a BANG!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Money Saving Tips & Tricks for Teachers

I am linking up with the Weekend Warriors ladies for this month's hot topic: Money Saving Tips & Tricks for Teachers. As teachers, we spend WAY too much of our own money in our classrooms. And now that Back To School is JUST around the corner, the spending frenzy is about to go into full effect. I am going to share a few tips and tricks I have found to be useful for me in my classroom. 
DIY Library Sticks
Make classroom library sticks for each student with paint sticks from your local DIY store.

Materials needed:
-Wooden paint sticks (free at most home improvement stores)
-Spray paint of your color choice
-Decorative duck tape 
-Empty oatmeal container
-numbered circles

My dad drilled holes at one end of each paint stick for me. They I spray painted the sticks on both sides and sealed them with acrylic paint to give them some shine. While they were drying, I used the duck tape to decorate the empty oatmeal container. I also created and laminated the numbered circles (which can be found in my TPT store).  Then I hole punched each one at the top and tied it with ribbon to each stick. Ta-dah.....classroom library sticks to help my students stay organized!

Bulk Up & Team Up
Whenever I need supplies for my classroom, I team up with 1 or 2 other teachers who may need the same items and split the cost. When you buy in bulk the price per unit goes down. So, you spend less money up front and you benefit from the lower prices.
Image result for school supplies in bulk for teachers

Easy Reading Space
Create a quiet reading space by having your kids flip their chairs over and give them a pillow for a little comfort! I saw this idea on Buzzfeed and I NEED to give it a try this year. I think the kids will love it!
During quiet reading time, just have the kids flip their chairs around and give them pillows to lounge on.

Do you have some tips and tricks to share, as well? We would LOVE for you to link-up too! Just grab the slides, write your own blog post, and link up below! Let's all save together!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Last Day: Christmas in July Sale!

Hey, everyone! I am popping in real quick to let you know what is brewing for the last day of my Christmas in July Sale!

In case you are just stopping by, here is a recap of what I have been up to this week:

I LOVE teaching about maps and geography to my kiddos! I made this unit because I couldn't find a rigorous, hand-on unit that was FUN and easy to prep! I created two versions, so my Canadian teacher friends can use it too!


It includes vocabulary posters with visuals and definitions.

Quick assessments

There are task cards, I Have..Who Has... cards to help get the kids up and moving all while reviewing important skills you have taught them and MUCH MORE!

If you teach older students you might like my Fifty Nifty States packet. You can read about how I used this resource {HERE}.

This resource is available for Canadian teachers too!

Today all my social studies units are on sale! Thanks for joining me this week! Hope you had as much fun as I did!

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