Monday, September 30, 2013

The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree: An October Mentor Text and A Free Inference Activity

Apple days are ticking away.  Tomorrow marks the beginning of October.  Bringing with it pumpkins, bats, spiders, and other fun, spooky signs of the season.  I'm linking up with the Collaboration Cuties to share a favorite mentor text for October.  My pick is an oldie, but a goodie, The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree.
This book follows three cubs as they explore the spooky old tree.  They keep coming to terrifying obstacles.  Leaving the reader to wonder if will they go on with their adventure.  If you haven't read this book, I don't want to be a spoiler.  You will have to read to find out the fate of this trio.
I loved this book when I was a little girl.  The illustrations of the corridors in the tree really captured my imagination.  This story is a very readable text beginning readers.  While this story is simple to read, it offers loads of opportunities for various comprehension activities and discussion.
One activity I like to use with my firsties is this quick and easy inference chart.
For this handout, you will read the story up until the point where the bears have to make a choice.  Let the students mark on their inference charts yes or no to the inference question.  After all your kiddos have made their inferences, then continue on with the story.  Once the students find out what really happens in the story they can draw a smiley or a frowny face depending if their inference was correct or not.

I usually have my kiddos use markers for this type of activity, so they do not erase their answers.
If you would like a free copy of this handout to go along with The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Tree, you can click on one of the pictures above.
The clip art is from Scrappin Doodles and the fonts are from Cara Carroll.
This book engages the students and this inference activity is an uncomplicated way to introduce inferencing to your young learners.

Thanks so much for stopping by.  I hope you can get some use out of this activity. For more fun October reads and ideas, be sure to visit Collaboration Cuties.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Five for Friday on Saturday: September 28, 2013

Well friends, it has been one of those weeks.  So hopefully you'll excuse my Five for Friday being on Saturday.  This week was marked my lots of traveling and performing.  I may be a tad behind on some home projects, but I have loads of new iphone pics : ) .  Here's a peek of some of the goings on for the week.
Number 1
My first grade class went on our first field trip.  We went to the high school where most of the students will eventually attend for a pumpkin patch day.  The activities including a hay ride, art project, story time, and sampling pumpkin food were led by the high schoolers.  It was a fun day and great to see former students in leadership roles.

Number 2
My new rain boots arrived just in time for the trip.  I love them.  I have one pair of Hunter boots in navy.  This time I went for the shorter style, which is a better fit if you are under 5'5.  The pink is fabulous.

Number 3
This week my daughter had her first kindergarten performance at school, she even had to learn a speaking part ("Can you believe we will be the graduating class of 2026?").  She was awesome.  She also has her first big kid choir performance a church tomorrow.  Plus we went on her first field trip, the day after my first field trip.  Her class walked to the police and fire station.  It was a beautiful day and so nice to be a mommy instead of the teacher in charge.

Number 4
To be a chaperone I had to get my first set of sub plans ready for the year.  My goal is to put together a set of picture based plans to put with my sub materials.  I've found a few examples on Pinterest.  Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I really think this type of sub plan would be great.
Jen at Draw the Line At has some great organizational ideas for sub plans.

Number 5
I'm having a sale Saturday through Monday at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  I have a set of literacy and math centers for October that might be really useful for you in the coming weeks.  Stop by if you get a chance.

Thanks for reading and enjoy your weekend.

Thanks also to Doodlebugs Teaching for each week hosting Five for Friday.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Baby B and Baby D Freebie

Hi friends.  Today I took a bit of time with b and d discrimination in my first grade class.  Letter reversals alarm parents, but of course they are common in K and 1 classrooms.  However, my goal is to nix the reversals of letters and numbers.  But baby b and baby d are always tricky.
There are several tricks to add a visual or some type of reminder to b and d formations.  My favorite is pictured below.
A very dear friend and coworker showed me the b (bat before the ball) and d (dish before the knife) visual during my first year working in first grade.  I created a set of posters to illustrate this little trick.  
If you would like a FREE copy of these posters, click on one of the pictures below.

I hope these posters can be of use to you.  For more ideas on how to get lower case b and lower case d across to your students, check out Pinterest.
Thanks so much for stopping by.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tried It Tuesday: A Cabinet Makeover

It's almost the end of Terrific Tuesday (my class agenda header) and I wanted to share an easy little project that I have been working on in my classroom.  A project that creates some badly needed display space in my room.  My Tried It Tuesday project is a simple cabinet revamp.
I teach in an older building.  The wing I am in was an addition when open classrooms were the rage.  So I have this lovely curtain wall that divides my neighbor and me.  We both line up shelves against the curtain to spare each other from our classroom buzz.  On the other walls I have a white board, my calendar board, and some giant cabinets on wheels.
The cabinets were vintage 1960's orange when I moved in years ago.  I promptly painted them so that they blended into the walls.  Since I keep a fairly uncluttered classroom, I rarely posted anything on them.  Two words . . . wasted space.  
I found these self adhesive cork boards at Hobby Lobby right after school started.  They were the perfect size, so I snagged six of them.

After I brought them back to school and hung a couple (which was super easy using heavy duty foam tape).  I went back to Hobby Lobby for some fabric to cover them with.  I bought a black and white ticking fabric and a navy and white chevron.  After a week or so of having both selections tacked up, I decided to go with the chevron.

I'm really happy with how this project turned out.  If you decide to try it, I have a few tips for you:
*Use a laser level to line everything up.
*Put the fabric on before you hang the cork panels.
*Buy cork boards that are perfectly flat.  Warped ones will pull off the surface.
Revamping my cabinet doors was very simple and will give me a great place to highlight my kiddos' hard work.  

To get a look at more Tried It Tuesday ideas and projects, be sure to stop by Fourth Grade Flipper.
Thanks so much for stopping by and have a great rest of your week.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Motivate Me Monday: The Proud Mom Edition

And we're off.  Another Monday has came and (almost) went.  If you're needing some encouragement, inspiration, fun, or have something to share, be sure to check out First Grade Buddies Motivate Me Monday linkup.
My Monday Motivation involves a little bit of tooting my own horn.  My sweet daughter has read her first book.
As a first grade teacher, I have been working toward and waiting for this day for a long time.  We, of course, have read tons of books since A was born.  I have also used every trick that she would allow me to use to help her learn (and hopefully love) to read.
She is in her 6th week of kindergarten and the light is on.  I'm so excited.
My take away lessons for my sweeties at school is be patient.  Stick with it.  My job is to support, encourage, and provide loads of learning opportunities so that when their lights come on, they will shine brightly.

If you are looking for a way to enrich your students learning opportunities you may want to check out this adorable set of posters by Stephanie at Principle Principals.  They are super colorful (featuring covers from favorite children's book) and full of important content.   If you hurry you might win them.  She's having a give away contest.

Thanks so much for stopping by.  For more words of wisdom and ideas to get you through the week, visit Sarah and Tamra at First Grade Buddies.  Have a great evening!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Christopher Columbus Mentor Texts and a Free Literacy Center

Hi all.  It's Sunday and time for Collaboration Cutie's Mentor Text Linkup.  I love this linkup because it has introduced me to some great new books and authors.  This week's topic is Social Studies Texts.  My picks to share are selections about Christopher Columbus.
Young Christopher Columbus by Eric Carpenter is one book I go to every year.  It is an easy to understand nonfiction account of Columbus' life.  Some Columbus biographies are a bit too wordy for my students.  Young Christopher Columbus is concise, yet provides enough information.

Another book I like to use is My First Biography: Christopher Columbus by Marion Dane Baurer.  This text is favorite because of the simplicity.  The illustrations are nice the information helps reinforce the important facts about Columbus' achievement.
On a side note, this book is part of a series of My First Biography books.

Columbus Day (Rookie Read-About Holidays) by Christina Mia Gardeski is another great read aloud to use during your study of Columbus.  There are facts about Columbus and information about why and how we honor him with his own special day.  In contrast to the other books, this one uses photographs.  Like the other books, it is brief but gets the point across.

Finally, is Junie B. First Grader, Shipwrecked by Barbara Park.  Junie B. Jones, oh how I love you, let me count the ways . . .
This book follows Junie B. and her class mates as they put on a play about Christopher Columbus.  There are a few facts about Christopher Columbus in this story, but mainly it is just fun.  I recommend starting this book with your class during your study of Columbus.

There you have it, a Christopher Columbus reading list for your young learners.  If you are interested in more social studies text recommendations, head over to Collaboration Cuties.

Almost forgot, if you would like a free Columbus themed literacy center (working with initial digraphs) click on the picture below.  Thanks for reading and have a great week.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Five for FREEBIES Friday: September 20, 2013

It's Friday and time for Doodlebugs Teaching's Five for Friday.  I get to share five random things from my week.  I have about one more hour before Friday becomes Saturday so, let's get started . . .
Number 1

I just recently wrapped up work on my math centers for October (Tiny Tricksters 10 October Themed Math Centers).  These activities include work with addition, subtraction, number order, skip counting, fact families, and more.  Below is one FREE center from this packet.  Click on the picture for your copy.

Number 2
This week I also completed my literacy centers for October (Tiny Tricksters 10 October Themed Literacy Centers).  These centers focus on digraphs, blends, vowel discrimination, sentence word order, contractions, and more.  If you would like one of the centers from this packet for FREE, you can click on the picture below.

Number 3
I am a huge Modern Family fan.  Season 4 comes out this week on DVD.  I have it pre-ordered through Amazon.  I can't wait.  I have an elliptical at home and I really need some new viewing material.  

Number 4
This week was the fall carnival at my daughter's school.  She's in kindergarten and this was her first one.  She had a blast.  It's so fun to see her in her new element.
rarely seen level of patience waiting on a balloon animal

Number 5
Does your school give these crazy prizes away during fundraising?  I'm sure you can imagine what happened in my classroom when this guy came in.  The winner was thrilled.  My guess is that her mom was not.

Thanks for reading and be sure to visit Doodlebugs Teaching for more Five for Friday fun.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Tricks Are for Kids

Hi friends.  Hope your week is going well.  It has been go, go, go with my little fam.  Of course most of the busyness is self imposed.  One new responsibility at our house has been my daughter's new bunnies.  We have had them for about five weeks.  The little furry sisters were A's 6th birthday present.
My husband drove about an hour and a half to a farm to pick up the bunnies.  The breeder (who happened to be a teenage girl) told him they did not bite and they were both girls.  Well since then I have had my doubts.  I'm sure you can imagine.  So I separated them and finally found a vet in my area that would even agree to look at them to identify the genders.  Turns out we have a brother and a sister.  Surprise!
(If you are wondering about the leaves on the bun's head, those are earrings courtesy of my accessory loving daughter.  Our little boy bunny, all dressed up and no place to go.)
So trick's on us.  Lesson learned, visit the vet before bringing two bunnies home.  Next stop, bunny surgery during our fall break.

Moving on . . . I can't believe we are almost in October.  If you are starting to think ahead, you may want to check out my Literacy and Math Centers for October.
Tiny Tricksters {10 October Themed Math Centers} is Common Core aligned and focuses on addition, subtraction, missing addends, number order, skip counting, time to the hour, and more.  You can click on the pic above for additional information.

Tiny Tricksters {10 October Themed Literacy Centers} is also Common Core aligned.  These centers provide practice with vowel sound discrimination, contractions, sentence word order, digraphs, blends, and more.  Again, you can click on the picture for details.

Feel free to email me if you have any questions (or if you have any bunny tips).
Have a great rest of your week and thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Seasons of Arnold's Apple Tree: A Science Mentor Text and a Free Graphic Organizer

It's September and that means one thing in an first grade classroom . . . it's apple time.  The number of activities you can do with apples is only limited by your time.  Math, science, social studies, language arts, and more, apples lend themselves to so many subjects.  I'm linking up with the Collaboration Cuties to share one of my favorite apple books for their Mentor Text Linkup.  This week's topic is science.
A fav apple book of mine is Gail Gibbons' The Seasons of Arnold's Apple Tree.
This text follows Arnold and his favorite apple tree through all of the seasons.  Arnold loves spending time at the apple tree and it's fun to see how each season brings new adventures with it.  The illustrations in this book show the life cycle of an apple tree, as well as a glimpse at the four seasons.
This book is a simple and engaging story that offers many opportunities for extensions and activities.  One activity I like to do with this story is a four square writing assignment.  Later in the year we use four square graphic organizers as a jumping off points for writing paragraphs.  But in September, my first graders' four squares are a little more basic.  
If you would like a FREE copy of this four square graphic organizer, click on the picture below.  It is a great way to combine science and writing.  (Of course older students can certainly take this graphic organizer further by writing sentences.  A sentence in every square can add up to a coherent five sentence paragraph.)

Here is the scoop on this week's mentor text pick . . .

Be sure to visit Collaboration Cuties for more tried and true science text recommendations.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Wilson Fundations on a Shoestring

Hi friends.  How often do you find yourself in a situation where you would like to implement something in your classroom, but you just do not have the resources to do it?  I know, I know, I'm sure you  n e v e r  deal with type of issue in your classroom.
Wait, let me rephrase that . . .
I'm sure you constantly deal with that type of issue in your classroom.  Well, right now I am trying to implement Wilson Fundations in my class with very few resources provided for me.  
If you are unfamiliar with Wilson, it is a phonics/reading program.  It appeals to me because of the emphasis on hands on activities.  From what I can tell, to really set your class up with Wilson, the cost would be about as much as a new reading series.
However, like most teachers, I am not going to give up because the cost of something makes it seem out of reach.  For the materials to get started with Fundations, I decided to get resourceful (when possible) and make or find less expensive substitutes.  I also decided to purchase as much as I could from Wilson, but I had to be very targeted in how I spent my money.
One resource not pictured above is the Teacher's Manual.  It is very important when teaching with Wilson Fundations.
So far I am happy with the work my class has been doing with Wilson.  The whole group activities serve as reinforcement of letter sounds and are perfect for formative assessments. The activities fit in nicely during my Daily Five time as mini lessons.  For my struggling readers, working a bit more with Wilson during small group time seems to be just what they need.
Where there's a will, there's a way.  I'm happy to be getting my feet wet with Wilson Fundations without breaking the bank.