(Short) Vowel Fun for Everyone!

Happy Labor Day!  We spent our day doing a whole bunch of nothing.  I love those kind of days.  Mr. Spouse had to go in for a few hours today and the boys and I hung out around the house...playing MarioKart Wii...cleaning up...and fighting off a bug that {as Grant said} "surviveth in the water!!!!"  That miraculous water surviving bug was the sole reason they refused to swim this afternoon.  

Oh dear.  

When the boys are home, I have to force them to take a little "down time".  They aren't really big nappers...unless they're in the car...and that's really a shame because I could nap for hours :)  I just like for them to take a little time to "chill"...no technology...no t.v...just some good ol' fashion P.L.A.Y.  

I was finishing up a few things today during their down time and Landon wanted me to go through each page so he could show me what he wanted me to print out.  Play or learn...play or learn.  Hmmmm.  Why not?!  So that's just what they did during their "down time".  They "worked".  And they loved it.  I really do love that they have such a love for learning!!


Looks like we need to work on our problem solving skills :)


The blending boxes were their favorite.  They loved making real and "silly" words.  They liked taking those silly words and using them in sentences.  Let me just tell you that each one of their sentences included the word "fart" in it.  They're in THAT phase.  #boymomexcitement



 

As a first grade teacher, we started out the year learning all about short vowels.  Most of my kids were reading at the beginning of the year and we expanded on their schema with lots of short vowel activities.  We broke those down into "chunks" and would use those as the basis for our weekly spelling tests.  

In Kindergarten, I introduced the concept of vowels as soon as I introduced the letter A which was pretty much the 2nd week of school.  Y'all might remember this fun little song I made up last year.  Boy did this stick all year long!  We sang it every.single.time we talked about vowels.  


We started really working with short vowels and word families after winter break...right around the mid year mark.  That's when we got into CVC practice and they really went to town with that!

When I was planning ahead and thinking about working with my K/1 intervention kids, I wanted to have something that would be good for both ability levels.  Challenging and remedial at the same time.  I spent a little time creating these fun, hands-on activities to use with those kids to give them repeated exposure and multiple opportunities to work with those sounds.  



I'm excited to share this with the teachers I've been working with and to use it with the intervention kids, too!  My boys loved what they worked on today, so I hope that carries over to the other kids, too!  

I added all of my short vowel packets to my store today and, by request, I bundled them as well.  
Click on the pics for a detail preview of what's included in each...













Wayback Wednesday...A Behavior Management Idea!

Today I decided to take a little trip down memory lane.  It's time to go WAY back.  And when I say way back I mean 2 years ago ;)  Hahahahaha.  Seriously though.  It seems like this summer was WAY back when.  Dang time goes fast!

I know how important behavior management is...especially at the beginning of the year.  I really believe strongly in hitting expectations hard at the beginning of the year.  No matter how you do it...whether you have rules or not....whether you incorporate a color system or not...whatever works for you!  Setting expectations is IMPORTANT.  I always feel that if I do NOTHING ELSE during those first few weeks of school, I need to set expectations.  I need to be consistent.  But I also need to give grace.  After all, kids are kids and they (inevitably) will make mistakes.  Grace is OH so important.  But so are my expectations :)

All that to be said, I was going through some old posts and I found this one that I thought I'd share again in case you haven't seen it.  This was such a fun little behavior management idea to incorporate and my kids really ate it up.  Whenever I introduce a new behavior management idea to the class, it only stays around for a few weeks because the novelty wears off.  This one lasted for a while and then it was retired.  It made a reappearance that spring and was just as fun as it was the first time around.  The kids LOVED it and frankly, so did I!

Now let's go WAY back.

Back to September 20, 2012.

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In any given (school) day, my kids probably hear my say, “You’re knockin’ my socks off!” no less than 25+ times :)  I usually say this when somebody has a bright idea that really blows me away, but more often you’re likely to hear me utter this phrase when I see kids that are on task and working responsibly.  At the beginning of the year, it can be challenging to get Kindergarteners to realize they can do *hard* things, so lots of praise and positive reinforcement are a must…for me, anyway. 
To keep my kids on track and encouraged to do their best, I decided I needed a visual to go with my whole, “You’re knockin’ my socks off!” phrase.  Last year I used my Bravo Board…which I ADORED….but I wanted to try something a little different this year.  And I’m SO glad I did!  So far, it works like a charm :)
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My visual is displayed at the front of my classroom on my white board.  I just took a strand of jute and wrapped it around 3 magnets.  I have 5 tables in my classroom, so I clipped 5 clothespins to the strand.  Each clothespin is labeled with my classroom table numbers.  Then I made some little reward coupons, tucked one into the sock, and when I catch my friends “knockin’ my socks off”, I move the coupon filled sock to that table’s clothespin.
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I’m moving the clothespin many times throughout the day so that my kids can see who’s makin’ my heart smile.  At the end of the day…whichever table has the sock…wins and gets the prize inside.  The reward coupons are super simple, easy, and for the most part, free.  Since the reward changes every day, the kids are always excited to see what they will *win*….extra computer time, free choice, writing with markers, warm fuzzies, sweet treat, etc.  I can honestly say…for the most part…they really are on their best behavior!!! 
You can grab my little reward coupons by clicking on the pic below!  These are nothing fancy, but they get the job done ;)  You’ll see some rewards in there that may not be applicable to you or your kids, but I *tried* to include rewards I’ve used in the past.  I’m sure I won’t use all of these rewards this year, but I know that my kids LOVE the ones I’ve used so far!
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I’m linking up with Natalie & Rachelle over at What the Teacher Wants!  Head on over for more amazing behavior management ideas!!!! 

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Back To School

It's August 25th.  For most schools here in Texas, today is the first day of school.  This is an event my boys have been anticipating for the last month.  Once all of our summer travels were over, they would excitedly ask, "when do we go back to school??!?!?!?!?"  

For the last few weeks ,the excitement has been building.  The boys met their teachers last week {they are all so PRECIOUS!!!} and they haven't been able to stop talking about school since they walked out of their brand new classrooms on "Meet the Teacher" night.  Excitement would be an understatement.

I decided to do a little something special for their first day back.  This was completely unnecessary and over the top, but every now and then I like to do things that surprise even myself ;)  And it was an added bonus that I didn't have to buy ONE.DARN.THING for this little special back to school breakfast!  Being a teacher with lots of goodies on hand sure has it's perks ;)


Like I said, I had everything on hand.  I randomly collect globes, so yes...I had those, too.  The only thing I really had to do was print out those little subway prints and put them in a few extra frames I had in my closet.  

Grant woke up in a terrible, horrible, no good mood {I'm blaming it on the nerves} and Landon was FIRED.UP.  He was SO excited about his special back to school breakfast.  Grant pretty much told me it wasn't that cool and refused to eat the blueberry muffins and fruit I woke up early to make from scratch.  So honey buns it was.  No time for arguing on the first day.  At least he sat at the table to eat.  We'll call it a success :)


After breakfast, Grant was in much better spirits.  Wait.  Let's back the truck up real quick.  He saw our neighbor outside and wanted to go say hello, but when he came back in he slammed his fingers in the door.  OUCH.

It took a while to calm him down, bless his heart.  But once he was calm and realized his fingers weren't falling off...praise Jesus...he was in MUCH better spirits.  He was even willing to take our annual first day pics.  Landon has started to do this funky I'm-smiling-but-I'm-really-not-smiling kind of smile and that's always fun to look at after the fact.  Bless.  Gosh dang I love these boys.  Fake smiles and all ;)


I made their little first day prints in the frames.  If you have kids going back to school this week or next, you can make these, too!  I created a little power point file with grades Pre-K - 5th and all you have to do is insert your info.  Here's the fonts you'll need...

You can download the power point and insert all of your own info.  Just click the pic below.




I know I told you this before, but I absolutely LOVE the boys teachers.  They are so sweet and so precious.  I know it's going to be an AWESOME year!!!!  Because I love teachers so much, I REALLY love to treat the boys teachers to little unexpected goodies throughout the year. There are a MILLION of these floating around out there, but I went and recreated the wheel because these are the "favorites" I wanted to know from their teachers.  There are lots of other teacher questionnaires out there, but they didn't have all these exact "favorites" included.  If this is something you think you can use, just click the pic below to download your copy...

Speaking of little treats, I made these for the teachers for their first day of school!


I LOVED putting this together!!  I got plain terra cotta pots {Michaels} and painted them with black acrylic paint.  They dry in about 2 minutes so this was a SUPER quick project.  Then I just took a white paint pen and wrote the teachers last names on the surface.  I found that great little leopard print burlap ribbon and Michaels and used that to tie around the rim.  I only needed one roll of the ribbon.  Our school colors are blue & white.  I found that polka dotted tissue paper in the party section at Target.  Then I just started piling all the goodies inside.

Here's what I included....



I tied little tags around each item with a little "blurb" about what it was for.  I did this BEFORE I realized it would've been easier to just type up a little something to put in the basket.  



If you want to create a little survival kit for your child's teacher...or your teammates...just click on the pic below for your printable download.






If you started today...or if you're just coming back from a very relaxing weekend after already putting in time with the kidlets...I hope you had a GREAT (first) DAY!!!!!!



A Look At My Day

Hey y'all!  It's Thursday and that means today's Teacher Week Topic is WHEN....



It's all about our schedules today!



I've taught for 13 years.  In those 13 years, I've taught at 4 different schools and in 3 different grades {K-3}.  Each year I feel like I have the "best schedule ever".  Really.  But I have to say, the schedule I've had the past two years just might take the cake.  Let's take a peek, shall we?!




Now let's break it down.





Our kids all meet in the cafeteria every morning.  That means no parent drop offs in the classroom.  Except for the first two days of school.  Every day after that, the kids get dropped off in the cafeteria for Morning Meeting.  This is where one teacher from each pod watches the kids and then around 8 am, our principals play fun and engaging music...typically Dr. Jean...and the kids dance.  Then we say the pledges, offer a moment of silence, and recognize and celebrate the kids who have a birthday.  This was started in an effort to decrease the amount of tardies and from what I've seen, it totally works!  I *rarely* have kids who are tardy to the party!




When the kids arrive in the classroom...most times before 8:20...they all come in as a group since they're coming from Morning Meeting.  We do a little "wake up work" when they come in.   This is typically hands-on.  Something to get the kids going.  We work on fine motor activities, out of the box thinking, and lots of other things.  




At this time, half of the class leaves for a specials class {science/social studies, library, computer, art}.  The other half stays for small group guided reading instruction and literacy tubs/stations.
So it works out to where I only have about 9-10 kids for an hour.  I get to meet with each one individually for guided reading while the rest of the kids work at their literacy stations/tubs.





At 9:30, the half of the class that left for specials comes back. Then the WHOLE class leaves for PE/Music and we have an hour for conference/planning.





At 10:30, we pick our kids up and bring them all back to the room.  Then the other half of my class who previously had guided reading instruction leaves for their specials class.  The half that was in specials earlier gets to stay for small group guided reading instruction & literacy tubs/stations.





Around 11:30, my half group comes back in and the whole class meets on the carpet for calendar concepts/morning message/daily dish.  



At 11:50 we go to lunch.  We walk the kids to the cafeteria and then we head out to shovel food down our throats as fast as we can :)  A "working lunch" if you will ;)



The kids get picked up at 12:20 and then we head back to the room for a quick brain break.  No time to be tired after eating :)  Around 12:30ish...give or take... we move right into Writer's Workshop.  Depending on the day, this lasts anywhere from 20-30 minutes.  A quick mini lesson and then independent writing.  I spend this time doing individual writing conferences as well.



Around 1:00 or a little thereafter, we start on Math.  Whole group and math tubs.  I'm really flexible with the timing here because some days lend themselves to a longer whole group lesson/longer tub time than others.  We spend between 15-30 minutes on a whole group lesson/game/activity and then the rest of the time is spent on working in math tubs.  I also do math conferences during this time.



We head outside for recess around 2:00 and let the kids play for about 30 minutes...give or take ;)  Because it's so hot here, the kids spend a good bit of time at the beginning of the year playing indoor for recess.  




When we're all back inside, we finish the day with "theme".  This typically involves a read aloud, thinking maps, research, writing, and craftivities...but not all on the same day, of course ;)    We end about 10ish minutes early to pass out agendas and end the day with a fun little read aloud or a quick "look at what we did today!!!".  Then it's backpacks and time for dismissal!




Dismissal happens around 3:30, but we have kids in our classroom until about 4:15-4:30.  That's usually when the last student leaves.  We keep all of our kids in the room until the parents and buses pick them up for the day.  The silver lining in that arrangement is that it gives us more time to pull kids for one-on-one intervention :)  We're not required to instruct during this time....there's usually a movie on to calm the masses...but it definitely gives us time to target the kids who need the extra help {if they're not one of the first kids to leave}.

Not too shabby!
That's what a day in my classroom looks like {in a nutshell}.

And just for my first grade friends, by request I created and uploaded a printable packet of back to school no prep math and literacy activities.  You can read all about it HERE or by clicking the pic below.




Have a GREAT day!

Organization & A Sale!

Today I'm linking up with Blog Hoppin' for Teacher Week.




Today's topic...ORGANIZATION.





I know I've talked to y'all a little bit about staying organized.  You might remember me telling y'all that I always start out the year organized and ready to go, but after the first day the wheels fall off and I usually don't find them until the last day of school :) 
 
Here are just a few of things I do & use to TRY and stay organized throughout the year.  TRY being the operative word.

 I keep all of my files in the plastic sterilite drawers labeled by month.  This has helped me a TON!!  When I was keeping everything in filing cabinets it seemed like it took me FOREVER to find things!  Now I know exactly where to go for my resources :)


To take it a step further, I keep ALL of my resources written in a little binder.   I have pages in my binder that are labeled by theme since most of my teaching is done thematically.  For example, on my "apple" pages, I have the activity written in one column, the author of the activity written in another {so that if any pieces to the activity are missing, I can quickly look it up & print it off on my computer without searching for HOURS}, and the location of said activity in the last column {monthly drawers, filing cabinet, etc.}  This is something I take with me to planning so that I know exactly what I have when it's time to come up with activities to share with the team!

Here's a little idea of what I do for math.  Again, it's all kept in my math conferring binder.  

The top picture is how I organize and plan math conferences.  I write out all of our math objectives {the ones from our benchmark assessments} on white labels and just place them inside of a file folder.  When I have students that don't master an objective on our benchmark assessments {every 6 weeks} I write their name on a little sticky and place it next to the skill...or skills...they didn't master.  When I go to conference with my kids, I know exactly which skills to target and this helps me plan A TON!

The bottom picture is how I keep my math groups organized.  The left shows my math groups {high, medium, low}.  They're color coded because of the way I differentiate my math tubs.   The right side is a breakdown of my cooperative learning groups...this is the group kids are in for their math stations/tubs.  They're grouped heterogeneously to help with peer teaching.

This is how I keep my literacy stations and tubs organized.  I implemented this last year and let go of some of my control.  I was SCARED.  But y'all...it was AMAZING.  The kids really loved the autonomy and it was stress free for me!  Basically, I just typed up each student's name on a sheet of paper & laminated it.  I placed each sheet in a literacy station/tub along with an expo marker.  The kids knew that only 2 kids were allowed to work at a station/tub at one time, but they had the choice to go to any tub they wanted.  When they got there, they used the Expo to mark their names off the list.  By Friday, they should have completed all of their tubs/station work.  I could quickly scan over the lists to see if any of my kids didn't go a station/tub if there names weren't crossed off the list.  This was a great little motivator for Fun Friday centers :)

There are plenty more organization ideas over at Blog Hoppin', so head on over to check them out!  

And here's what's on tap for the rest of Teacher Week...


And don't forget...Teachers Pay Teachers is having a ONE DAY sale TODAY!!!  Everything in my little shop is 20% off today.  You can use the promo code BOOST to get an additional 10% off of your total purchase.  Click on the "shop my store" link at the top of the page to stock up before the sale ends at midnight!



I just added my September Work on Writing packet to the shop!!!


If you purchased my Work on Writing Year Long Bundle, go back into your purchases to download this packet addition!!!  

Have a great day and happy organizing {and shopping ;)}!!