Saturday, August 25, 2012

Survived the first full week!

I have been such a bad blogger. I have been way too tired in the evenings to blog and my computer that I have at home has not made blogging easy. It does weird things. During the summer I have my school laptop at home so I blog on that and it is so much easier to use. Chris and I keep talking about getting a new computer so hopefully we will soon. If I bought a mouse that would probably help for now.
Anyway, we had a great first full week of school. I had every intention of taking some pictures to show you the fun things we did but I was too tired when I left school yesterday. I was trying to get all my stuff done so I wouldn't haven't to bring anything home plus getting ready for the first sub of the year. Yuck! I've been called for jury duty and I don't feel right about trying to get out of it. I think if I want my students to be responsible citzens then I need to set the example. Plus last time I was called I was able to get out of it because I was teaching somewhere else. My husband's aunt passed away this week and we still aren't sure when the services are going to be. We thought they could be Monday so I went ahead and prepared for the whole day instead of just a half a day. I had to update all my sub information for the year. I use Crystal from Kreative in Kinder's Sub Tub. She was kind enough to send it to me for one of her everyone wins giveaway. I love it. You should check it out if you are looking for a good sub tub. It's got enough information but it's not overwhelming.
This week we focused on reading and what readers do. I did a lot of activities from Abby Mullins' pack Ready to Read.  This is a gret packet. If you haven't checked it out you should. We used our poem Bog Reads and set reading goals. I was really proud of the goals my students set. I knew one little girl had been talking it over with her mom because her goal was to read between 10-20 books this year. We made the banner and I'll have to share a picture next week. It looks really good. I loved Abby's suggestions for books this week too. Here are some of the books we read:

These are great books if you haven't checked them out. I especially loved Hooray for Reading day. It's a great book if you have kids that are struggling with reading. We also did some great activities from Kim Adsit's Blasting Off with Reader's Workshop. THis is a great unit for introducing reader's workshop. After reading the Growing Readers book, this was the perfect compliment for some of the things I am wanting to accomplish this year. Some of the activities were a little basic for my first graders who I had last year. I already knew where they were at. Next week we're going to start our author's study of Kevin Henkes. I'm pretty excited about it. Check back next week to see what we did.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Classroom Tour

 I finally remembered to charge my camera battery and then better yet remembered to take some pictures of my classsrom. And now I'm actually sitting down to write a blog post. I am still recovering from the start of school. I'm worn out. I feel like I've dropped off the face of the planet with blogging, facebook and keeping up with friends. So far my kids are doing pretty well with what we've been doing. I'm not sure where I want to go with them. Normally we spend about t3 weeks on kindergarten review. It's built into the reading series we use. But this week that is not enough material for them. I  worked on assessing letters and sounds today and they have a good handle on those. I'm think that we're going to do another week of review but a little more intense and then start real first grade stuff the first week in September. I have Jury duty next Monday and I would rather them not start something so new without me. What do you normally do for the first few weeks of schools? Love to hear some of your ideas. This week we've been using a lot of ideas from Abby's packet Ready to Read and Kim Adsit's Blast off to reading. If you haven't checked those out, they are great. I'll share more about this week later. Right now I'm giong to share pictures of my classroom.

 This is my math corner. I still need to put these markers away. They've been sitting there since kids brought in their supplies on Thursday.
Here is the beginning of the word work area. It still needs help as well. I need a sign and to finish putting the supplies there.
 The birthday wall. I didn't change anything about this area.
 Here's my take on the cute howe we go home ribbons. My problem was figuring out how to show their bus numbers. But I used some left over circles for that.
Here's the bottom of my promethean board, interesting words poster and some quote posters. The area that I standing in to take the pictures is where the students sit during morning meeting and whole group activities.
This is my calendar area. I used tissue paper for the borders and spruced up my calendar a bit with hot glue and ribbon.
 This is part of my board. I have my rules listed. Then my schedule cards, noise level adn then the end of my numbers and alphabet. You can get the schedule cards, noise level and numbers at my tpt store. My aphlabet cards are from Annie Moffat. Love them.

Here's the start of my library.

I especially love that I have pete the cat in my library.

 Here's is my guided reading table. It's got a few things piled on it. But I love the dry erase circles I found at Big Lots. I can't wait to use them with my kids.
Here is my word wall. There are already words on it becuase I keep my kids for two years. I didn't take the words off from last year.
Ok I have other pictures but my comptuer is being weird. I'll have to share some more tomorrow. I hope you enjoyed this peek in my classroom.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Back to school frenzy

Oh my gosh. It has been quite a week. I haven't blogged since Tuesday and the only reason I was able to blog Monday and Tuesday was because I scheduled it ahead of time. I worked in my room Monday and then Tuesday was our first inservice day. We spent the whole day in meetings. Then Wednesday we had time in our rooms to get ready for registration night that night. It was good. I keep my kids for 2 years so I already know most of my kids and their families. I had prepared a powerpoint and included several pictures from my wedding and honeymoon. It was so sweet. My parents were so excited for me and wanted to hear about the big Hawaiian surprise. One of my parents wants me to put some of my wedding pictures on the class shutterfly account so they can see them. This is the upside to looping. You get so close to the families. It can be really nice. It was so good to see my kids. Thursday was our first day of school and it was a dream. The kids were so good. I had 3 students absent and still had 2 no shows. It was like we had never left. Thursday after school at 5 was kindergarten registration. We decided last year that all the first grade and kindergarten teachers would be on board for registration. One of the other first grade teachers and I were on board for babysitting for the kids that showed up with their parents. We had planned on putting a movie in and thought we'd only have about 15 kids. Well we were wrong. We had over 40 kids in the room with us. It was exhausting. I had forgotten what the beginning of the year kindergarteners are like. They asked a million questions and when one had to go to the bathroom 15 of them had to. The kindergarten class lists started out about 15 in each class. By the time registration was over they had 22 in each class. In the 5 years I've been at my current school, our class size has never been that large. It's a little crazy. The kindergarteners don't start until Monday. They do a staggered enrollment for 3 days and then they'll all be there on Thursday. We try to help each other out as much as possible. Thursday night when I got home there was suppose to be sweet and sour chicken ready in the crockpot. But the power had gone off that morning and there was no dinner ready. I was pretty sad. Luckily Chris took me to dinner so I didn't have to come up with something new for dinner. Friday my new students showed up and it was a little crazy. It amazes me how one student can change the dynamic of your room. I don't think I've been this tired in a long time. I was at school til at least 5 every night last week and most of the time it was til 6 or 7. I still don't have my plans ready for next week. So this evening I will be working. Hopefully, I'll get back in the swing of things and get back to blogging. I meant to take pictures of what we did last week and of my room. Hopefully, I'll get on this week. Hope if you've started school, you're faring better than me. Here's to blogging this week.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Freezer Cooking

School starts this week. Today is my last day of freedom. I say that like I'm not at school right now getting things ready. My room is ready but that's only a small part of what it takes to get ready for a new year. Today's task is to get student binders all together and get my computers and promethean board set up. Over the weekend, I tried to get my home ready for the beginning of school. Friday I spent some time prepping food so we can eat during the craziness of school. In the past, I have just grabbed something to eat or eating cereal with the craziness of school. But now that I'm married, I'm thinking my husband would like to eat a real dinner and truthfully so would I. As teachers, we seem to forget about ourselves as soon as school starts. Saturday I spent some time cleaning so we would have a nice clean house to come home to. I also spent some time scheduling some blog posts so I don't forget about my blog.
Anyway, it took me about an hour or so to prep 4 meals and 2 servings of Italian flavored hamburger meat and clean up the mess. So I essentially have 6 meals in the freezer ready to be put in the crockpot in the morning and eaten when I get home. I had seen some pins on pinterest about the idea of freezer cooking. I did a search and then followed the pins to some great blogs. Ring around the Rosies was the blog I found the best information from. Here is the link to her first post on freezer cooking. She has about 4 different posts with a variety of recipes including some toddler friendly ones. I chose 4 of her recipes that I thought sounded good and went from freezer to crockpot. Her recipes make 2 meals but I halved them. I wanted to make sure I liked the recipe before making 2 of them.
  • Teriayaki Chicken(I changed it to sweet and sour chicken)
  • Sausage and Peppers
  • Newleywed Beef Tips
  • Cilantro Lime Chicken
  • Italian Ground beef
I made a list of the ingredients I would need and got them from the store.
Then I wrote the name of the recipe and directions for the crockpot on a freezer baggie.
Then I chopped all my veggies. I basically followed the recipes she had on her website. On the Teriayaki Chicken, I added red bell pepper and used my homemade sweet and sour recipe as opposed to store bought Teriayki sauce. The sweet and sour recipe is really easy.
Here are the ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup of pineapple juice (I buy a 6 pack of the small cans of pineapple juice and use 1 can.)
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 cup of white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch mixed with water. 
Mix these things in a saucepan and cook over medium high heat. It will bubble and thicken and you know it's done. I use this with stirfried veggies and rice. I also put it on a pork tenderloin and cook it in the oven. It's yummy.
I added the meat last to the baggies and then they were ready to go.
The hamburger meat I used about 2 and half pounds of ground meat with onion and carrots. I cooked it up and then split it between 2 baggies. It's ready for spaghetti or lasagna. Anyway, I'm excited to have some dinners ready to go as the busyness of school is about to hit. My goal is to try to do this twice a month. Hopefully I'll adapt some of my own recipes to crockpot freezer meals. I'd love to hear how you prepare for the upcoming school year. I'm linking up with Inside this Book with her Sunday Suppers linky party. Be sure to link up some of your easy recipes.
Be sure to link up with your Sunday Suppers.
Last thing I want to leave you with is a picture of my sweet niece Sophie. She turned 2 on Friday the 10th. I missed my Monday with Sophie this week big time.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Back to School Sale

This post is going to be mostly shameless self promotion with a little promotion of others thrown in there. I try not to do this but part of blogging is promoting your items on TPT. So here I am. I am participating in the TPT sale that starts today and goes through Monday. You can get 20% off my store and then another 10% from TPT by using the code BTS12. For some reason it ends up being 28% off not 30%. Anyway, here are few items from my store you might be interested in. My biggest seller is my Be a Letter Detective. It's perfect for kindergarteners who need practice identifying the letters. There is a page for each letter.My kids loved this activity especially if you give them a highlighter to find the letters with.
Another popular item in my store is my Puppy Ten Frame Scoot activity. This is a whole group game using 10 frames to practice identifying numbers 11-30. There are 2 recording sheets available for differentiation. It's perfect for the beginning of the year in first grade and towards the end of the year in Kindergarten.
One of the activities that I use a ton in my class is the Buggy for Words Intervention packet. My kids love using it to make words. I can use it word work, practice making sentences and practicing fry phrases. I love this packet because there is so much you can do with it. It's been on my to do list for a while to make a fall themed one. But the bugs work for any season.
The last item that I'm excited about that's in my store are the black and white numbers. I have them put in my classroom and think they look great.
So those are a few things I think you should buy from my store. You can get to my store by clicking on the cute icon to the right. Now my cart is full to do some buying myself. So here are a few things, I plan on buying during the sale. (That's why I need you to buy something from me then I won't feel so bad about all the money I'm going to spend.)
So those are a few of the great things that I plan on buying. I have over 50 items on my wishlist so I'm sure I'll be adding to this list. What are you buying during the sale?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Daily 5, Reading workshop, and spelling

I go back to work Tuesday and the kids come on Thursday. I have now hit the time of year where my brain will not turn off and I can't sleep. It's terrible. I woke up at like 3 and had the worst time going to back to sleep. Although when I was asleep, apparently I pushed Chris and told him to get off me. I don't remember that at all. I do remember thinking I had no space to sleep.Oh well. In my tossing and turning, I started thinking about school and what was going on. I got a great brainstorm about spelling. I've been blogging about how I want to make a change in spelling and make it more on my students' levels. But I've got a lot of changes going on this next year with full implementation on Daily 5 and math workstations. In all the common core and assessment talk that we went through last week, one thing stuck out in my brain. Using pre-assessments, to push kids further. I've always done a "pre-test" in spelling on Wednesday but that's not truly a pre test. This year I plan to give a pretest on Monday on the week's spelling words. If the student knows 90% of the words then  that student will be given a little bit harder list of words for the week. I am not firm in my 90%. I am not sure how to handle that. If they get a 90% on the test then that means they missed one. I don't know that they need to focus on 9 words that they already know if they only missed one. (Any input on handling this would be appreciated). The second thing I'm not sure of is where to get the new list of words. I'm thinking that the words would still follow the rule that the rest of the class is focusing on. For example, the first week of spelling words are short a words. They are basic cvc words. I think several of my kids will know all these words. What I'm thinking is that I would find a list of words that still uses short a but involves some blends and digraphs. Any suggestions of where to get these words would be appreciated. I've also been thinking about the tasks that I'm asking kids to do during the spelling time. In the past we've done rainbow spelling. While I think they need some practice writing the words, I'm not sure that it's the best use of time. I added word sorts last year and I think that was great. We also practiced putting the words into alphabetical order. What other activities should I include that is worth the time?
Another thought going through my mind at 4 in the morning was how I was going to structure Daily 5. I'm starting to panic about actually implementing the structures of Daily 5. I have been setting up my room to support a daily 5 structure. I have set up the classroom library so more of my books are accessible for the kids. The next step was a writing area and a word work area. I'm worried that I don't have enough materials for word work. I think I might be panicking and am going to be more likely to fall back into my literacy stations comfort zone. So maybe I need a pep talk from my bloggy friends knowing that I can do this. As I've been reading more about reading workshop, I know that I want to incorporate this into my teaching as well. So I'm trying to figure out how to merge the two ideas. The way I'm thinking of this is that I use my read to self and reading workshop time as the same time. Instead of giving my kids the choice of read to self as part of the daily 5, that would be separate. I want there to be a focused time on reading and increasing their skills. Any thoughts on this from my bloggy friends? So this is what I was thinking about at 4 in the morning.
On a side note, I'm participating in the Back to school sale at TPT starting tomorrow. I also have all my items on my TN store on sale as well. So be sure to check it out.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Friday Freebie

This week has been so busy. I have barely had time to keep up with blogging and blog stalking. I haven't even started school officially yet and I've still been super busy. Last week I had a workshop Monday and then our annual staff retreat Tuesday and Wednesday and then a library board orientation on Thursday. On top of those things, I got a letter where I'm called for jury duty on August 28th, a car stopped in the middle of the road and then backed into me, and I had my knee x rayed.(I had a skiing accident when I was in high school and never had it checked out. My knee has bothered me off and on for over 10 years now and here lately I haven't been able to exercise because of swelling and pain.) It has been quite a week. But I had some great days getting ready for school to start. The workshop I had on Monday had to do with our Parks as A Classroom program. We're lucky enough to partner with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that is our backyard. Each grade level k-8 goes on 3 park field trips a year that integrate all subject areas with a focus on science and social studies. Our coordinator for the the program does an awesome job. She shared some great website resources with us that I hope to share with you guys later. I'm still experimenting with the best ways to share website information. Our field trips in first grade this year, focus a lot of community and culture of the area. I'm pretty excited about them. We had the opportunity to explore some websites and to do some pre-planning.
The next two days we were immersed in common core and assessments. It was probably the most positive one we've had since I've been teaching at my current school. The data person for our district showed us some snippets from Mr. Holland's Opus. I haven't' seen this movie since it came out in the theater when I was in high school. I need to watch the movie through again. I think the whole table I was sitting was crying at the end of the movie. It was such a great reminder as to why we do what we do in teaching. He reminded us that parents send us their best kids. They don't keep their best kids at home. My first principal I worked for told us this my first year teaching and it has always stuck with me. We spent some time looking at our math curriculum map. I had stumbled on some pacing guides from Donna at Math Coach's Corner. She has some great math resources and you should visit her blog if you haven't before.
After seeing my superhero placemat, I had made for my kids. I had a couple of requests to make a kindergarten friendly one. So I'm sharing the one I made here. The clipart is some free clipart that was offered at MelonHeadz. I've been dying to use it for something. I think they are so cute. Please leave me some feedback if you download this freebie.

I'm participating in freebie Friday at TBA. You should check out all the freebies that are being offered.
Freebie Fridays

My goal is to get ahead in the blogging world. I hope to get some posts scheduled this weekend. I have been working on getting ahead of the game with school starting this week. I just put 6 meals in the freezer that are ready for the crockpot. (I plan to share these in a future blog post.) Tomorrow I'll be cleaning to get ready for the week. I can't believe my summer is coming to an end.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Monday made it on Tuesday

So I really thought I was going to link up yesterday. I had my projects all done and my pictures taken and everything. But yesterday, I had a workshop all day and then one of my good friends was visiting for California and I still had one more little project to finish that I wanted to share. So here I am early Tuesday morning blogging. Today and tomorrow we have our annual staff retreat. Sounds like it should be relaxing but it really isn't. We talk about testing a lot and standards a lot. But we do get fed really well. My principal is big on feeding us well. He even grills out some fantastic hamburger and hot dogs for us one of the days .And it is nice to catch up with all the other teachers. One of the great things is we get our inservice hours in before school starts so we don't have to worry about it during the school year.
Yesterdays workshop was fantastic and I can't wait to share some of the websites I learned about for science and social studies. That will be a post later this week. Ok, so I should probably quickly share my projects and then go get ready for my day.
 I shared these letters last week but I got them put on the wall and really like them. Although looking at the picture I see the T is crooked. Oh well. I had to hot glue them up there. They are above my math table. I wanted a "corner" with a book shelf but I couldn't find another bookshelf and I really don't need to buy one. I'm still working on getting this area the way I want it.

I had pinned this project earlier in the summer to do. I finally got it done last week. You can get the label here.     I had saved icing containers last year to put games and stuff in. So I covered one in scrapbook paper and the label and voila! I'm hoping that this will help my kids remember to put their name on their papers.
I'm really excited about how these quotes turned out. I found these frames from Dollar General for $2 each. I couldn't resist but I wasn't sure what I was going to do with them. At first I thought I might but my standards on them but then I saw these quotes from Technology rocks, Seriously. I knew that this was what I wanted to do. I added some scrapbook paper as a background and then hot glued the frames to the walls. There are more quotes and she has some great stuff. So be sure to check her out here.
My last project is for my niece Sophie. She's turning 2 on Friday. If you read my blog, you know I love my nieces more than anything. And they are both super cute. I found the iron on i am 2 at Hobby Lobby and the idea was born. I didn't do any sewing for this project. I used the heat bond adhesive for the ribbon. I'm pretty excited about it. My sister and her family are headed to the beach for Sophie's birthday so I won't get to see her wear it, but I'm sure she'll send me a picture. Anyway, those are my projects for the week. I'm hoping I can continue to link up with some Monday made its when school starts. I have a week from today before I'm officially at work. Although, I think I pretty much am this week. I didn't read any blogs yesterday and I've already got 449 posts to catch up on. Oh the joys of back to school. Be sure to check out the other projects over at Tara's.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Readers Workshop and a freebie

As I continue to read Growing Readers, the more I am loving this structure for the classroom. Collins has some great ideas and provides a great structure for using these units of study. I'm now 32% through the book and have taken a ton of notes. These are the units of study that Collins structures the book around:
  • Readers build good habits
  • Readers use strategies to figure out words
  • Readers think and talk about books to grow ideas
  • Readers use word power to read and understand their books
  • Readers pursue interest in books and other texts
  • Readers make plans for reading lives
I'm still working on reading about the first unit of study: Readers build good habits. These are the habits:
  • read everyday
  •  talk and think about books with other people
  • read everything in sight
  • take care of books and protect reading time
There are a variety of ways Collins suggests to develop these habits. There are a few that I really liked and wanted to share. One is that the students take a book home everyday. They get to choose this book. I love this because I try to send home a book at least 3 days of the week. The only reason I have trouble with 3 days a week is because it's time consuming to pick the book and make sure they bring it back and it's not a book they've read before. If they are choosing the book and are responsible for it then it take some of the pressure off of me. I'm still trying to figure out how to make sure they come back. I'm hoping by developing these habits and the respect for the books, the students are going to be more apt to bring the book back.
Another idea, Collins suggests is to go on a reading hunt through the school. Point out places that you see print in the school that you could read. I'm fortunate enough to teach in a school in the downtown of a small town. I could see taking this field trip through the town.
The last idea that I want to share with you has to do with finding out who the students are as readers.  For their first homework assignment, the students are to bring in their favorite book. First look at the books as a class. See what is the same or different about the students' books. Get them talking about their books. Then, set up a special shelf in the classroom or basket to display these books. Over the course of a few weeks, have the students share a little bit about their books. The idea is to get the students thinking about the social aspect of reading. There will be kids that won't have books to bring in, it's ok to let the students get a book from the classroom library. This also gives you a chance to see what the students are interested in and their experiences reading. I have a couple of freebies for you. I had a suggestion to revise my conference sheet to fit more on the page. So I have the original that I made and shared last week, then another version of the sheet. I've also made a letter to go home about bringing their favorite book and then a sheet to make sign for the books.

 If you download the freebie, please leave me a comment. I would love to hear what you think about reading workshop. I'm really enjoying this book and it's giving me a lot to think about. So much so, I've been neglected Debbie Diller's Math Workstations. And school starts in a week and half. I've got a lot going on this week. I have a workshop tomorrow and then staff retreat Tuesday and Wednesday. Summer is coming to an end.I'm linking up with manic Monday at classroom freebies. I promise even though this looks like the same freebie from last week, it's not.
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Back to School Picture books, new products and a flash freebie!

I'm participating in First Grade Found Me's back to school picture book linky party. I saw the party earlier this week and have been meaning to link up all week. Since I've been having a hard time coming up with good meaty posts about school related things. Well, I know what I want to post about, they just take a little more brain power and time than I've felt like.
So here are some of my favorite back to school books.
 I usually read this with the kids and then they each pick a color of crayon. In their table groups, they draw a picture as a group using only the color they chose. We talk about how we work together in the classroom and we're all important.

We read this one and do a lot of name activities. We count the letters in our name and graph them. I've found some new ideas for this book from some other fellow bloggers.
This is another good one to read. I'm excited about reading I know an Old Lady who Swallowed some Books. I just got it last week and for some reason I can't find a picture of it on Amazon. I have about a week and a half before the kids come but I haven't finalized my first day plans yet. I'm still trying to sort through all my resources I've downloaded this summer.
On a side note, I've posted two new items to Teacher's Notebook and TPT. (TPT hasn't been cooperating with me at home.)
The first is only on Teacher's Notebook right now. It's the second packet of my sight word units. The words are taken from the Treasures reading series. This one is for the words in unit 2. You can check it out here. Check out unit 1 while your there.

Each of the sight word packets contains cards for all the sight words that you can do a variety of things with. I included a game. I also have printed them out in a color and have them ready for my word wall. The last thing I want to do with them is make sight word rings for my students to practice with. Does anyone else use those? I don't think I'm going to laminate them because I don't really want to cut them out. I would love a little input on that.

The next packet that I posted is my Red, White, and Blue Classroom Theme. You can find that in either one of my stores.( or

This is what I'm using in my classroom this year. Well, this and the superhero stuff I've made. You can check out some pictures of this pack in action on last week's Monday Made it. The colors are a little off on mine because of my ink cartridge being all messed up.
Last but not least on this increasingly long and random post, I have a flash freebie up on my TPT store. You can get my Sweet Treats Math unit for free for most of the day. So be sure to check it out and leave me some feedback.(Hope you grabbed your freebie. It was free from Aug. 4 at 11:44 until Aug. 8 at 8:31)
I will hopefully be back tomorrow with some more information on Reading workshop and some freebies. Meanwhile, check out the flash freebie and the other back to school books on First Grade Found Me.

One more random thing, I'm guest blogging for Hadar at Miss Kindergarten. (Yes, the Miss Kindergarten). Be sure to check it out, I have a freebie for you.