Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Classroom Organization Blog Hop (Organizing Centers and Student Choice)

There is just something about the weeks after the holidays, I am in total organization mode.  I think it's mainly because of all the new stuff that enters my life for Christmas.  I really feel the need to clean out and organize, both at home and at school.  Now is the perfect time for Primary Powers' Organization Blog Hop.

I'd like to share a few details about how I organize the literacy and math centers in my classroom.

There are so many ways to successfully organize learning centers in the classroom.  There are totes, buckets, bags, and bins to provide homes for centers.  There are schedules on pocket charts,  clipboards,  smart boards, and on posters to help students know where they need to be.
There is not just one perfect way to organize learning centers.  However, I have an effective way to organize learning centers and to give students CHOICE at the same time.
Two words . . .  center cards.  Center cards are my key to organizing centers and allowing students choice.  

Basically my centers are housed in clear plastic shoe boxes.  In each box you will find a bag with all the center cards and any other necessary materials.  The recording sheets are also in the box.  The last component is the center card.  
The center card has a list of all the students in my class and which center is in the box.  They are laminated so students can mark on them with dry erase markers.

I do not put lids on my boxes.  The center cards rest on top and make it very easy for the students to identify the center. 
Pictured below are my literacy centers.  I usually have 10 out at a time and change them monthly.  The center cards are labeled by letter.

When students complete centers, they mark through their names on the center card.  (As you can see, we are getting close to the end of the month.  Almost all the names are marked.)
Since students are keeping track of which centers they have completed, there is no reason for me to make a schedule.  They can see which ones they've completed and which ones are left to do based on the center cards.

My math centers run exactly the same way.  But, instead of being stored on shelves, I have them in a large cabinet.

Again, the boxes hold the center pieces and any other materials, as well as the recording sheet for the center.  For math centers, the cards are labeled with numbers and student names.

If you would like a FREE set of these center cards to try out with your own students, you can click on the picture below.  Even if you do not want to let go and allow students to choose their centers, these cards are a great visual for young learners to keep track of their accomplishments.

Thanks to the talented Ms. Cara Carroll at The First Grade Parade for the center card idea.  So simple and so effective. :)

Now, head over to Angela's blog to learn about how she organizes her library.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Five for Fraturday (Including a FREE Super Bowl Craftivity)

A little late the party, but that is just how I roll.  (You can ask my poor husband.)  After a 12 hour day yesterday, I figured Five for Fraturday was totally OK.
Here are a few things that have been going on in my class this week . . .

Number 1
I started prepping for our spelling art project for next week.  I planned on using my Super Bowl Friends pattern.  Once I opened it, I realized it needed a little update.  Now that I made some changes and put together some samples, I'm ready to prep for my kids and share with you.

If you would like a FREE copy of my Super Bowl Friends Craftivity, you can click on the picture below.  (This simple pattern includes a spelling practice page, a Super Bowl prediction page, and a Super Bowl Sunday writing page.)

Number 2
This week we learned about Martin Luther King Jr.  We read about him and discussed his bravery.  Students wrote about him and made a cute craftivity to display their dreams for a better world.  My young learners did a great job.

If you would like a FREE copy of this activity, it is at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

Number 3
We incorporated MLK into our math time as well.  We did some work with place value and expanded form.  I put together this partner activity where we matched numbers and expanded form equations.  The kids did really well, but we still have quite a bit more work to do with expanded form.
(I've also linked this activity as a FREEBIE.  If you're interested in using it with your students, click on the picture below.)

Number 4
It may not look like much but, I've finally gotten around to making early finisher totes.  I've always wanted these kind of "dessert activities."  However, finding the time to put them together just never seemed to happen.
At this point, the totes consist of math activities.  I found some of them at Amazon (published by Scholastic).  I am also using dice games and geoboard activities from Jennifer at First Grade Blue Sky.
I found these adorable totes at target that fit perfectly on an empty shelf.  Dice games go in the blue.  Everything else goes in the green.
I'm really excited to see how these activities work out.  I'm also curious to know how long it will be before I have to change them out or add to them.  But for now, I'm at a good starting point.

Number 5
We just wrapped up our second week of work with R-controlled vowels.  AR was the focus this week.  A go-to the resources we've been using to practice R-controlled vowels has been my Words at Work packets.  
I've been working on these packets since this summer.  I'm trying to put together a consistent set of anchor activities for all of the main phonics skills we hit in first grade.  They have been a great supplemental resource for my students.

If you would like more details about my R-controlled vowels Words at Work packets, you can click on one of the pictures below.  (Also, be on the lookout for the Words at Work R-Controlled Vowel Mega Bundle.  Putting all these activities together into one neat and tidy packet is next on my list.)

I guess that's about it, except for a big thanks to Doodle Bugs Teaching for hosting Five for Friday each week.  It's always so fun to read about what is going on in other classrooms.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Let's Celebrate the 100th Day! (Fun Freebies and Ideas)

The 100th Day of School.  Just about every year I think to myself, "I cannot believe it is already the 100th Day."  But here we are again.  
I really enjoy celebrating the 100th Day with my students.  There are so many ways to use the number 100 in the classroom.  Here are some of the ways we used it this year . . .

I made this 100th Day streamer banner to welcome the kids on the big day.  It may seem like a small thing, but they love going through the streamers.  One of my girls said she felt like she was going through a rainbow.  So sweet. :)
To make it I used butcher paper for the banner and streamers.  I printed whatever I want it to say and some cute clip art.  Then I measured, cut, and glued everything together.  Totally worth the time.

We made our 100th Day Kids to practice our spelling words.  They look adorable hanging together in the hall outside our classroom.  
You can have a free copy of this craftivity by clicking on one of the pictures below.  Included in this pattern are two different recording sheets.  One can be used like we did here, for spelling practice.  The other can be used to go along with a writing prompt.

Our first graders made t shirts to wear on the 100th Day.  They were so excited to share what they made.  I glued 100 pictures of my students on my shirt this year.  They were all about pointing out where they were on my shirt.
Wearing something special really seems to set the tone for the day.

We used our 100th Day shirts as a writing topic.  Students wrote all about how they made their shirts and illustrated them.  It was an easy way to extend the shirt projects.

We did have a "formal" math lesson covering adding multiples of 10.  To practice we used my 100th Day Yes or No Way math center.  With this center, students sorted equations based on whether or not the equation was correct (Yes) or incorrect (No Way).  After sorting the equations, they wrote their answers on a recording sheet.
For a FREE copy of 100th Day Yes or No Way, click on the picture below.

We also did a little sorting and graphing with 100 M & M's.  Earlier in the week a couple of my sweet moms counted out 100 M & M's for each student and bagged them up.  (A big help)  Of course, after completing the graph, students could eat their M & M's.  This activity is always a hit.

After eating all of that candy, we had to get up and move.  We did just that with our 100th Day Kids' Challenge.  I set up various stations around the room and partnered the students.  Each set of partners had 100 seconds at each station do a given task.  After the 100 seconds were up, students wrote down their achievements on their recording sheets.  Then, when I gave the signal, students rotated to the next station.

I tried to make these stations simple to set up and fun for the kids.  The outside materials needed can be found in most primary classrooms (pattern blocks, unifix cubes, legos).  The printable materials for the stations are included in the packet below.  
If you would like a FREE copy my 100th Day Kid's Challenge to use with your students, click on the picture.  

The 100th Day Kids' Challenge was a fabulous way to wrap up a day filled to the brim with excitement and learning.  I hope some of these activities will be helpful as you plan for you 100th Day this year.
Have a great week.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

January Jumpstart (January Centers, Y as a Vowel, and Loads of FREEBIES)

Boy was it a cold start back after winter break.  I can take a few days of this weather, but I'm just about over it.  Of course the cold did not slow us down in class.  We made the most out of the 3 days and 5 hours that we had this week.  (Monday was an admin. day and Thursday was a delayed start.)
My goals for this week were to introduce our January math and literacy centers (all 21 of them), to do a little Daily 5 retraining, to launch Rocket Math (addition fact drills), to teach all about Y as a vowel, and to work in some fun New Year's activities.  Quite a list for a short week.  I'm happy to report that we fit everything in. :)

My students are all about getting new centers.  I change them out each month.  I intro all of them over a day (or two) during a few mini lessons.  After I explain and model all the centers, they are up and running.
I love the year long review these centers provide.  They also free me up to meet with students to do a little reteaching.

In math this month we are working out of my Baby It's Cold Outside {10 Math Centers for January}. This packet includes work with addition, subtraction, number comparisons, number order, nonstandard measurement, time to the half hour, missing addends, and more.  You can get a closer look by clicking on the picture.

Below is a FREE center from this packet, Snowman Comparisons.  With this center students will practice comparing numbers with the greater than and less than signs.  Click on the picture for your own FREE copy.


As for our literacy centers, we'll be working with the companion packet, Baby It's Cold Outside {10 Literacy Centers for January}.

This packet includes work with rhyming words, long and short a discrimination, sentence sorting, contractions, synonyms, antonyms, compound words, sight words, and more.  You can check it out by clicking on the picture.

You can have a FREE center from this packet by clicking on the picture below.  Hot Chocolate Blends provides your students practice with initial blends.  After matching all the initial blend picture cards with the word cards, students will write their answers on the recording sheet.


Besides our work with literacy centers and math centers, we also spent a bit of time practicing Y as a vowel.  We started off by going over our anchor chart and brainstorming words that end with y.
If you would like this anchor chart to use with your students, click on the picture.

We talked about how most one syllable words that end with y have the long I sound.  While most two (or more) syllable words that end with y have a long E sound.
Students applied their vast knowledge of Y as a Vowel by doing various sorts, reading, and writing activities.  We primarily worked out of my Words at Work {Seven Word Work Activities for Y as a Vowel}.  You can learn more about this packet by clicking on the picture.

If you would like a free copy of one of the activities from this packet, click on the picture below.  It's a word sort with Y as long E and Y as long I.

With all of this learning going on, we had to fit in some time for a little creativity.  Plus, my walls were bare after all of our Christmas craftivities went home.  We really needed some student artwork to liven the classroom.  
So . . . after reading some favorite New Year's themed books, we discussed resolutions.  Students thought about personal resolutions and wrote them down.  Then we made our New Year's Resolution Kids.  

Using the party blowout was certainly not an original idea, but I love it.  The kids love using them too.  I'm a little worried that the blowouts will be ripped on the Resolution Kids as soon as I send them home.  For first graders, blowouts can be just too fun to resist.  Maybe I need to get another set of blowouts to give my students when they take their projects home.

We had a great week.  Everyone seemed to be rested and ready to get back to our routine.  Next week we'll be celebrating our 100th Day of School.  I cannot believe we are already at the 100th Day point in the year.  Time flies when you're having fun.  Time also flies when you are super busy.
Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, January 2, 2015

FREE New Year's Activities for the Primary Classroom

Happy New Year!  I hope everyone is rested and ready for the second half of the school year.  January offers lots of special learning opportunities.  One of which is New Year's themed classroom activities.  New Year's holds a special place in my heart because it is a time to focus on goals and can be a clean slate (if you want it to be).  New Year's Day is also my birthday, so I really enjoy extending New Year's past January 1st with my kids at school.
There are loads of free New Year's themed resources out there.  Here are some that I've used in the past and some I'll be using this year.

First up is a new math center I created to go along with my monthly math centers (Baby I's Cold Outside {10 Math Centers for January}).  It is called New Year Number Sense.  It provides students practice with identifying and ordering numbers that are 10 less, 10 more, 1 less, and 1 more than a given number.

The center includes colorful number cards and a blackline master recording sheet.  The recording sheet can be a stand alone activity if you would like.  Click on the picture below if you would like a FREE copy of this New Year's themed math center.

Another free resource I love (that includes some great centers) is Cara Carroll's Happy New Year! packet.  She shared this a few years ago and it's still a go to for me when we return from winter break.  It has activities for time to the hour, basic addition facts, abc order, antonyms, and for making words.  
You can click on the picture below for more details.

Last year we did a little non standard measuring with backed peas.  It turned out really fun, although I'm fairly certain some of my kids ate the uncooked peas.  Not to worry, we had plenty.
Students estimate how many black-eyed peas it will take to measure each picture.  Then students use black-eyed peas to measure.  

For this activity there are color and blackline master options for the picture cards.  There is also a blackline master recording sheet.  If you would like a FREE copy of this packet, click on the picture below.

An adorable New Year's freebie that I just recently came across is from The Glyph Girls (pic is from their blog).  At their Teachers Pay Teachers store they are sharing this colorful craftivity that students can write about their goals for the new year.  
Again, you can click on the picture for more details about this project.

If you are looking for a writing activity along the same lines, but do not have time for a craftivity.   You should check out the First Grade Buddies' New Year's Writing printable.  Students get a chance to write about their accomplishments from the past year and what they want to accomplish this year.  This print and go activity has been updated it for 2015.  You can visit their blog for your own copy.

If you are working on or would like to review number comparisons, you may want to check out my free greater than and less than printables I put together a few years ago.  If your students are like mine, they need constant practice recognizing and comparing numbers.
You can get your own free copies by clicking on the picture below.

Finally, I'd like to share my math word problem mini book for the New Year, Out With the Old and In With the New.  I'm all about using seasonally inspired word problems with my students and this booklet is a perfect way to do that.  
I've updated my New Year's themed math mini book for 2016 through 2019.  You can have your FREE copy by clicking on the picture.

There are all sorts of fun classroom activities to go along with the celebration of the New Year.  I hope the suggestions above make your planning a little easier.