Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Make a Christmas Countdown Chain to Kick off the Holiday Season

Hi all.  
Before all the craziness of December gets started, I wanted to share a fun little project I've been doing with my class for several years, a countdown to Christmas paper chain.
Believe me, the kids love these.  Here's how they work:
-Students will get a bell topper and strips of paper to make the chain.
-They will make our chains on December 1, so each student should get 24 strips to make 24 links.  The last link should be on Christmas Eve.  (It's no problem if you don't make the countdown chains on December 1.  Just be sure to adjust the number of links students will make.)
-This year I'm sneaking in a little word work practice by having my young learners write a word from our word wall on each of the strips.  (This step is unnecessary, but a great way to get in a teeny bit more practice.)

-Since I do not have staplers for all students.  We use glue to put the links together.  I usually have to model a few for the class, so that they understand the process.

I tell the students to hold their link together and count to 30 before they add their next one  If a student is falling way behind, I usually swoop in with my stapler and parter with that student.

After all the links are together, I staple the bell topper to one end of the chain.  There is a poem on the topper.  You can check it out in the picture below.

When students finish, they have a chain that is (usually) taller than they are.  They get such a kick out of it.  They are also really excited to tear the links.  
Click here if you would like a free copy of the pattern I used to make our Christmas Countdown Chain.

A couple of other December resources you may want to check out are my, newly updated, literacy and math centers.
To Be Jolly {10 Literacy Centers for December} includes practice with contractions, vowel sounds, antonyms, rhyming words, syllables, parts of speech, types of sentences, and more.  You can click on the picture below for more details.

To Be Jolly {10 Math Centers for December} also has loads of seasonally themed skill work.  Centers focus on basic addition, basic subtraction, missing addends, time to the half hour, place value, skip counting, number comparisons, and more.
To find out more about my December math centers, click on the picture below.

That's it for now.
I hope you have a great rest of your week.
Happy teaching!

Friday, November 4, 2016

50th Day of School

Can I just say how absolutely thrilled I am to have survived a week that started with a Halloween Monday.  I know there is no need to explain.  I'm just going to say, hallelujah!

In other happy first graders have made it half way to the 100th day of school.  My team loves to mark this milestone with a 50th Day of School celebration.

Here's a run down of some of the days events...
We started out the day with a 50's themed count and graph activity.  Students counted the items on the picture sheet and graphed them.  Then they used their graphs to make a tally chart and answer some questions.

This activity was a great extension of some of the graphing work we've been doing during calendar math.  If you would like a FREE copy of my 50th Day Count and Graph activity, you can click on the picture below.

We also made our 50's Kids.  For the past few years I've wanted to put together a writing craftivity for the 50th day, but I've always ran out of time.  Finally this year, I spent a weekend creating this little project. 
Students put together their 50's inspired boy or girl.  Then they completed a simple math writing task to go along with their kid.  
I hung our 50's Kids and math writing in the hall to share with the rest of the school.  I love how the display turned out.

For more details about my 50s Kids {A Writing Craftivity for the 50th Day of School}, you can click on the picture below.

After we finished our 50th Day of School craftivity, it was time to get moving.  I set up my 50th Day 50 Second Challenge by placing the station cards and needed materials around the room.
After a quick lesson on how to do the twist, the hand jive, and how to hula hoop, my teeny boppers were ready for the challenge.

Students worked in pairs at all of the stations.  They had 50 seconds to do each station.
Students carried a clipboard with a recording sheet.  They wrote down the results of every challenge at the end of each 50 rotation.
Below you'll see a few pics from some of the stations.  Please excuse the blurriness of some of the pics.  I'm terrible at action shots.

The kids loved doing this challenge.  If you would like to try it out with your own students, you can click on the picture for a copy of my 50th Day 50 Second Challenge {A Free Activity for the 50th Day of School}.

Finally, we ended our 50th Day fun with a sock hop and root beer floats.  We went to our gym and played 50's dance music.  Some of the kids dance with each other, which was super cute.  They also tried out hula hooping again.  It was a really fun way to wrap up our festivities.
I am sure all of our firsties slept very well that night. ;)

Our 50th Day was a non-stop day full of excitement and learning.  It will definitely be on the calendar next year.  

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Hello November {Resources & Ideas, Including Three Freebies}

Hello November.  I can't believe you are already here.  It feels like school just started a few weeks ago.
Since the season has come for all things turkey, I wanted to share some favorite resources for November.
First up are the completely updated math centers we'll be using this month, Thanks and Giving {10 Math Centers for November}.

Pictured below is a preview of the skills covered with this set of centers.  We will be working on balanced equations, time to the half hour, basic addition, basic subtraction, missing addends, place value, fact families, and more.
I love using these monthly centers to lay the ground work for upcoming instruction and to review skills we've coved so far this year.
You can click here for more details about these activities.

The (also completely updated) literacy center companion to our November math centers is Thanks and Giving {10 Literacy Centers for November}.

Again, pictured below is a preview of the skills covered with this set of centers.  We will be working on sight words, initial blends, ending blends, antonyms, sentences, parts of speech, and more.
We will be busy, busy, busy.
You can click here to learn more about these centers.

Besides our November literacy and math centers, a couple of other resources I'll use are my free Veterans Day and Thanksgiving math mini books.  I made these books a few years ago, but I like to pull them out each year so that my young learners can get a little extra practice with word problems.
Click on the pictures below if you would like a free copy of one (or both) of these math mini books.

Another freebie that is perfect for November is, my Perky Turkey Subtraction Scoot.   We spend most of October working on subtraction, so this scoot activity is a great review.
My kids last year loved scoot and write the room activities.  We haven't scooted this year, I think this activity will be a wonderful introduction.

Click on the picture below if you would like a FREE copy of Perky Turkey Subtraction Scoot.

In addition to all of this November inspired math and literacy, I also like to make a couple of seasonal craftivities.  One of my favorites is our Thanksgiving Writing Craftivity.  
Students put together their Pilgrims and then write about what they are thankful for.  These little Pilgrims make a really sweet display.

There you have it...some of my go-to resources for November.  I love this time of year and want to make the most of it.  I hope some of these ideas and activities will be a help in your classroom.
Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Free Number Line Activities Your Students Will Love

I have a confession, number lines are not my favorite tools for adding and subtracting with my young learners.  I always teach how to use them, but I don't spend very much time on them.  My main issue is that, students will not always have access to a number line.  I don't want them dependent on a tool that they may or may not be able to get their hands on.
However, after doing a bit of research about some of the additional benefits of number line learning, I started to rethink my feelings about them.  Besides solving basic addition and subtraction equations, familiarity with number lines helps students as they work with all sorts of other math tools.  Graphs, thermometers, clocks, and rulers all include number lines.  
Not only can our work counting forward and backward on a number line help us to add and subtract, it can also lay the group work for upcoming mathematical concepts.

Since I had a change of heart about the importance of number lines, I decided to devote more time to them this year.  Here are a couple of quick activities I used with my students that they really enjoyed.
First up is our Life-Size Number Line.  I used this big number line for a whole group activity, but you can easily adapt it for a small group or center activity.
I created it by printing the numbers 1-20 and laminating them.  I made my line with some masking tape and then placed the numbers on top.  The line wasn't straight and the numbers were't perfectly spaced, but that didn't matter at all.
I made several slides for our interactive white board with basic addition and subtraction equations.  (A regular white board will work just as well.) 

Students came to the number line individually.  They read the equation to the class and then they solved it on the number line.  They loved it so much that I used it with them the next day to solve word problems.  (one prep and two activities #forthewin)
Not only did the kids love it, I really liked using the Life-Size Number Line because it was an easy way to make sure students understood how to correctly move the number line.

If you would like to use this activity with your students, click on the picture below for a free copy of the Life-Size Number Line .

Another number line activity I incorporated was a quick and easy number line game.  (I'm always looking for ways to use my Target Dollar Spot erasers and this activity was perfect.)  All you need are some kind of game pieces, a number line, and a spinner (if you don't have a spinner, just use a paper clip and a pencil).  This game works well with two to three players.

To play, students take turns spinning.  If a student lands on plus five, he moves his game piece forward five spaces.  If he spins minus two, he moves his piece back two spaces.  The game continues until the first player reaches the end of the number line.
This activity was wonderful practice for students counting on and counting back.  Since we've covered addition and are nearing the end of our subtraction unit, the Number Line Spinner game gave students a chance to begin mixing their facts.

I plan on adding this game to our Early Finishers menu since the rules are so simple and there are so few pieces.  
If you'd like a FREE copy of this my Number Line Spinner game, click on the picture below.

There you have it, two simple ways to add a little more variety to your number line routine.
Thank you so much for stopping by.
Happy teaching!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Teacher Week 2016

Hi busy teacher friends.
I hope you had a great week.
I can't believe it, but we just wrapped up week six of our new school year.  My sweet little class is in the groove and I'm so grateful.
This week is also Teacher Week with Bloghoppin.'  I've always wanted to participate in Teacher Week and this year they made it super easy.  Instead of a blog post each day, we were encouraged to do an Instagram post on a given topic.  (See the list below.)

I'm a fan of teacher ideas on Instagram, so this format seemed like a great idea and manageable.

Monday was meet Me Monday.
I shared that I'm involved with my church.  It is so important to me that my family has a place to learn more and grow in our spiritual walk.  My church also offers many opportunities to serve others within the church and through outreach.
I shared about my family.  I have a 9 year old daughter and and I've been married to my husband since 2000.  They are my true happiness,  I LOVE spending time with them.  Another special part of our family are our pets.  To date, we have one senior dog, one cat, two bunnies, and two birds (that are actually class pets, but my daughter claims them as part of our household as well).
I shared about some of my favorite entertainers, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.  These ladies are so smart and so funny.  Ask me any trivia question about Parks and Rec or 30 Rock and I'm pretty sure I'll know the answer.
I shared about my affinity for monograms, cardigans, and ballet flats.  On most days you will find me in one or all of these items.
I also shared one of my favorite musicians, Jack Johnson.  On the drive home, I listen to Jack Johnson.  His music is so calming and happy.
Finally, I shared about my addiction to cardio workouts.  Like most of you, I don't have a huge amount of time to workout each day.  But, I try to squeeze in (at least) a thirty minute cardio session six days a week.  I really don't like missing.  Currently my go-to cardio workout is treadmill running (while watching old episodes of Modern Family, 30 Rock, and Parks and Rec).

Tuesday was Teaching Tuesday.
On Tuesday we were supposed to post a picture of ourselves teaching a favorite lesson.
I posted a picture of a read aloud.  Read aloud is one of my favorite times of day.  Most of my students love read alouds too.
I usually start my writing lessons with a great mentor text read alouds.  In this picture I'm introducing the Rule of Three (click here to read a post about the Rule of Three).  I use the Rule of Three to help my first graders (eventually) write coherent paragraphs.
Read alouds are great jumping off points for so many lessons in a variety of subjects.

Teaching Tuesday was followed by Where I Work Wednesday.
For Where I Work Wednesday, I posted some pics from around my class.  I haven't had a chance to share pictures from this year's classroom, so below you can get a little peak.

In this post I included:
1.  a view of my class as you enter
2.  my vintage 1970's cabinets with a fresh coat of white paint and clips to display student work
3.  our word wall, student book boxes, and the class library
4.  our class pet budgies, Click and Clack
5.  my teacher desk
6.  our gathering area

Thursday was something near and dear to my heart, show your teacher style with Threads Thursday.

I enjoy clothes, shoes, and assessories.  I'm always on the lookout for comfortable and cute teacher outfits.  At my age, I'm pretty aware of colors and cuts that are flattering for me.
I wear lots of dresses when it hot out.  I like Lilly Pulitzer, J. Crew, and Boden for knit dresses.  I really like Tory Burch Miller sandals.  Not only do they hold up really well, they also come in some fabulous colors.
I almost always have a cardigan sweater with me.  I like being able to shed or add layers when needed.  I get most of my cardigans from J. Crew.
When it gets a little cooler, I do wear pants.  I have quite a few pairs of toothpick cut jeans and pants.  I get a lot of my pants/jeans through J. Crew's factory site.  They have enough stretch in them to make them super comfortable.
When it's too cold for sandals, I wear some boots and loads of ballet flats.  My favorite ballet flats are Tieks and Tory Burch Minnies.  Both brands offer great colors and patterns.

Friday's theme was Friends Friday.
When I think of friends, my mind first goes to my awesome college roommates.  We all live too far away from each other now, but when we get together it feels just like we were never apart.  I can't believe it has been over 20 years since I first met these ladies at the University of Tennessee.
I must say, it is a lot of fun to (briefly) feel like a 20 something again.  Being with these BFFs will do it.

There you have it, a rundown of my first Teacher Week.  If you would like to read more, be sure to visit Blog Hoppin'.  You can also enter #bhteacherweek16 on Instagram to view more great teacher pics.