Monday, March 28, 2011

Spring Themed Science Center

I got this idea back in January at a baby shower, believe it or not, but hadn't quite figured out how I would use it in my classroom. At the shower, we played a game where various baby items were placed in numbered lunch sacks and we passed them around and tried to guess what was inside. While standing in Dollar Tree with plastic eggs in hand, it finally came to me - I'll put items in the eggs and have students guess what's inside by the sound! I've created a recording sheet that I'm sharing this morning so you can all use it too!

All you need for the activity is 8 plastic eggs, each with a number 1 -8 on it, items to fill the eggs - rubber bands, jelly beans, toothpicks, erasers, cotton balls, rice, paperclips and pennies, and this recording sheet. Students choose an egg, shake it and record which item they think is in each egg based on the sound. Of course, you could use any items, you'd just have to change my word bank. For extra challenge, you could also remove the word bank. Another way to add more challenge is to have two of each egg and have students identify two eggs have the same item as well as identify what the item is. Click on the picture below to download the recording sheet.

Have a super week!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Math SMART Shares

As usual, I was way more stressed about Open House than I needed to be! It's 4:30 and I am officially ready, but the kiddos won't be here until 6:30. In my down time here I thought I'd post some SMART math activities. I love these because they were easy to make and they can be a quick warm up or problem solving piece or you could turn them into a longer guided practice, whole class or small group lesson. Who doesn't love things that can be used multiple times in different ways?!

Adding and Subtracting on a Number Line: These are 2 separate files, but they have the same basic format. The random number generator tool is used to determine a starting point, then again to determine a number to add on or take away. The students can draw what's happening on the number line, then record the number sentence in the white space below. It works really well if you use the "magic pen" tool - saves you the erasing and by the time the next student is ready for his/her turn, the previous student's work has disappeared! Click each preview picture to download for free on TpT!

Today's Target: This is similar to a "number of the day" activity. The random number generator (Can you tell I really like that tool?) is used to generate a target number. In math journals or on whiteboards students can record their own ways to compose the number, then you or your students can share and record in the white space around the target using the pen tool. Again, click the preview picture below to download for free from TpT!
I hope some of you can use and enjoy these activities! I have 5 SMART items posted on TpT for free and lots of downloads, but no rating :(. If you do download and use these, I would LOVE some feeback or rating on TpT! 

Sneak Peek!

Here's a little preview of something VERY exciting coming soon!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What We Love Wednesday - Word Work!

Word work is such a HUGE part of my classroom, and if you're a primary teacher, probably yours too. We do word work a hundred different ways, several times throughout our day - we do word work in our fluency stations, centers, and of course the ELAR block. My most favorite word work activity has to be making words. I love it because it's multilevel, hands-on, and meaningful. What's even better? The kiddos love it too! 4 years ago I made a class set of letter cards and believe it or not - they've survived!

My tower of making words supplies 

 Each student has a baggie with his/her number on it. They use the same set all year and at the end of the year, they do an inventory so I can replace any missing letters. All vowels are copied on hot pink cardstock while consonants are on white. Having the vowels easily distinguishable really helps them sort through the letters and find what they need quickly, plus they know that every word they make will have to have a pink letter. Of course, it also reinforces the concept of vowels and consonants.  

These are another key piece to making words in my classroom. My kiddos LOVE using these letter trays. It also helps them keep the letters organized as they work. They place the given letters for the activity in the tray, and then have their desk work space to make words. All you need to make these is a handful of laminated file folders and a stapler!

And of course, I have something to share with you! Click the picture below to download the making words recording sheet I'm using this week. My mystery word this week is flowers, and the students are sorting for long o words. I also created it in in SMART so that after the students have worked on it independently we can meet together and share our words, or I can use it in small groups with some of my strugglers. I use the SMART version in split screen view so that page 1 with the letters is on the left and the students can manipulate the letters and make words, then the recording sheet is on the right. I use it with my laptop and Air Slate, but I'm sure you lucky ladies with SMARTBoards can use it too! I still haven't worked out posting a SMART file, so please click here to download it for free from TpT. If you can offer any help as to how I can post SMART files in the future without going through TpT, please let me know! I'd greatly appreciate it! Right now I work with Google Docs, and I don't think I can share the file that way.

Our Open House is tomorrow night and you know there are still TONS of things I want to do before then, so I'm off to bed! Goodnight Blog World!

What We Love Wednesday - Winners!

Thank you SO much for playing along and entering our first giveaway! Mrs. Claborn and I got to school early this morning and had a little fun putting the names in and drawing a winner!

Mrs. Claborn writing the names

The jar - who will it be?

Here I am drawing the name!

And the winner is... JANINE from Faithful in First!

Janine - Email Mrs. Claborn and I with the email address you would like the gift card sent to! Congratulations!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

More giving!

I know this isn't school related, but wanted to share anyway!

Here's a site where you can donate to Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief fund:

Here you can shop, enjoy a discount, AND donate 5% to a non-profit:
Give and Get is Here!: "Enjoy 30% off from March 17-20 at Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy plus we'll make a 5% donation to a non-profit."

Happy Giving!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

What We Love Wednesday - Giveaways!

Last week my teammate Mrs. Claborn from A Burst of First and I launched our first "What We Love Wednesday" posts. Our first posts were about something near and dear to us - technology, more specifically websites. Since this week is Spring Break, and giveaway fever is in the air, we decided our Spring Break edition of "What We Love Wednesday" should be all about the great giveaways going on now, as well as OUR VERY FIRST GIVEAWAY!

Awesome Giveaways Going On NOW:

  • The girls over at What the Teacher Wants are giving away a $100 gift card to the Container Store! Imagine how much you could do with $100!!!

  • Check out The First Grade Parade to find out how you can win a $25 promotional code to use at any of the MANY CSN stores.

And finally.... OUR GIVEAWAY! We've been blogging since February 2nd and our baby blogs sure are growing, so it's about time, right?! We are SUPER excited to find out who will win a $25 gift certificate to SCRAPPIN' DOODLES! We love the price and selection of this adorable site and know you will too - you probably do already! Plus, I love that I can find what I need, buy it quickly, download and use! It's almost too easy... :) Here's what you need to do to enter:

1. Follow my blog - Leave me a comment to let me know you are now or already are following!

2. Follow A Burst of First - Leave her a comment to let her know you are now or already are following!

3. Doing those two things will get you one entry, and here's what you can do to get an extra entry : write a post on your own blog telling about our giveaway, then leave both of us comments with a link.

You have until midnight CST on Tuesday, March 22nd to enter. We'll announce the winner on next week's "What We Love Wednesday". Good luck!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Happy Thursday Y'all!

I have officially been on Spring Break for one hour! And what better way to start than with this awesome treat from one of my sweet families?

And yes, I'm from Texas and say y'all ALL. THE. TIME. So, happy Thursday and have a great Spring Break y'all!

What We Love Wednesday!

I really do LOVE my job. I work with some really great people and I am especially lucky to work with such a great group of 1st grade teachers. One of those wonderful teammates is Mrs. Claborn over at Burst of First. Last week we came up with the idea to link up every Wednesday for "What We Love Wednesday", starting this week with websites! Now, I realize that yesterday was Wednesday, but I had one thing after another to do after school yesterday and by the time I got home at 11 last night all I could do was fall in to bed. So it's Thursday morning and here I am!

What We Love Wednesday - Website Edition!

If you are not using this yet, you need to go check it out now! We started using it last week and the kids can't get enough of it! Its very user friendly, it's quick and easy to set up, and the kids can access it from home. You can post questions for the kids to answer by leaving a comment, or you can have your students create their own posts. It's also a great way to let other people get involved in your classroom. Our principal, technology teacher, math specialist and reading specialist all left comments and questions for us this week and the kids were SO excited to have "visitors"! I don't worry about what kinds of comments my students will leave for me, or each other, but I know that unfortunately sometimes we do have to think about that, so here's another great thing about KidBlog - all student comments have to be approved by you before they post . I wish I could take credit for discovering this awesome tool, but I saw it a few weeks ago over at Bishop's Blackboard.  

Again, I can't take credit for this discovery. I found it on this post by Heidi over at Swamp Frog First Graders. I am always looking for new ways to drill and practice fast facts. SO many of my kiddos are still counting on their fingers! I love this site for 3 reasons: its free, its accessible from home, and best of all it runs itself! Really. There are several videos that you can watch on their site if you want more information, including a video about how it can work in your classroom. We've been using it every morning for 2 weeks and it's working out really well. I use it when my kids finish morning work and calendar binders, but you could use it any time. The first six kids that finish hop on a computer and get to work on XtraMath. They take a quick quiz, and when they finish it pops up with another student's name. The finished student then taps the next student, and that continues until our morning work/calendar time is up. If someone is absent or busy, there are buttons to click and another student will be selected. The students can also click on their own names to bypass the random selection. Head over there now and set up your class!

Leave me a comment and share your favorite website(s)! Be sure to head over and leave one with Mrs. Claborn at Burst of First too!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Dr. Seuss Days 1 & 2

Even though we celebrated Dr. Seuss' birthday last week, we saved our Dr. Seuss themed week for this week. We have a 4 day week and it's the week before Spring Break so I'm glad we have these silly stories and lessons to keep these antsy kiddos engaged! Mrs. Claborn made a bulleted list the other day and I thought that might help me be a little less long winded, SO here's what we've done:

  • Green Eggs and Ham - After reading and talking about the story, the students did a quick reader's response in their journals and wrote about a time they tried something new and how they liked the new thing. They really enjoyed sharing those. Then again, what don't they like sharing?

  • The Cat and the Hat and The Cat and the Hat Comes Back - It took us a long time to get through these two because we stopped and talked about so many things going on, how the characters were feeling, how would they feel if they were the children, etc. Every one of them had heard the stories before so we didn't get to do much predicting! After the story they all grabbed a house post it (ok, they're really arrows I think, but I turn them the other way and call them houses), wrote their names, and stuck it on our chart under the title of the book they liked better. My kids love doing that and are always so interested as each student places their "vote" on the chart! Only 2 chose The Cat in the Hat, so The Cat in the Hat Comes Back was definitely the favorite. Everyone got to "turn and talk" with a partner and tell why, again... we love to share in room B103.
  • Please Try to Remember the First of Octember! - This book had so much detail, but they were so into it that they remembered EVERY LITTLE THING that was going to happen on the first of Octember. They could not stop talking about money falling from the clouds! We had a great discussion about the story and most of them understood that it will not ever be the first of Octember. What they REALLY got a kick out of what writing about what things they would want and want to do on the first of Octember. And of course we got to share with the class! What would be on MY list for the first of Octember? Free books for life, a bigger classroom (mine is the smallest K-1 room), laptops for all, season tickets for Longhorn football, and a North Park shopping spree!

  • There's a Wocket in my Pocket! - As I mentioned, we are revisiting addition and subtraction. Today we reviewed fact families and I was excited to tie in our Dr. Seuss study! We made an anchor chart reviewing what a fact family is and the important things about it, and then I read the story and we made fact family pockets. Ok, I know the story technically has nothing to do with math, but the kids enjoyed the lesson none the less, and they didn't seem to think my connection was a stretch! It was a great review of the fact families and we were able to extend the lesson by passing our pockets around tables. The students would look at the numbers on the pocket, write all the fact family facts on their whiteboards, then pull the index cards out of the pocket to check their work. The munchkins had a few minutes to decorate and give their pockets flair, so their final products were way fancier than my example!

I'm so glad I've joined blog world because I will be using some of the great things you've all shared during the next two Seuss-themed days! Happy Tuesday everyone and be sure to check back tomorrow - Mrs. Claborn and I are linking up!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Alligator Addition

We're revisiting addition and subtraction. Again. This time with facts to 18. Last week we were reviewing doubles, doubles plus one and 10 plus facts, so I created this "Alligator Addition" activity for our math center. I'm excited about it since it could be used for ANY addition or subtraction facts or skills. All you have to do to create it is write the addends on the egg halves and the sum on the alligators. It's a much cuter and kid-friendly version of the part-part-whole model we use for addition and subtraction. I traced my alligators and eggs using patterns from a book called Making Big Books for Children Vol. 2, however the next set I make will be using the blacklines I created on the computer. My kiddos thought the alligators were so cool and really liked putting the pieces together and making them "hatch". Once the group pieced it all together, they all chose 8 facts to record and then wrote a related fact for each one. Next week we are reviewing related facts and fact families so I wanted to warm them up a little last week by including that. Plus, I always want them to have to think a little, rather than just record.

Here's a picture of mine, before I gave myself a hand cramp cutting them out.

And the card stock mess in my living room afterwards... but they turned out SO cute!

Click the preview to download the file. Just FYI, for some reason there is a blank page attached to the end that I cannot delete.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend and have a fantastic week blog friends! Only 4 more days until my spring break - when is yours?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Great Finds at the Dollar Tree!

How much do you love the Dollar Tree? I always come out of there with bags of random loot, but hey, they're only $1, right? Check out what I grabbed yesterday - I CANNOT wait to use these! (Please ignore the ugly carpet in the background...I'm renting!)

I hope you can read what's on them. These are going to be so great in my enrichment tubs, centers, small group... the list goes on! I'm actually thinking about making some of my own for their take home fluency folders as well.  The 4th pic is a pack of 4 blank spinners. Not sure what I'm going to use those for yet but the possibilities are endless! I also stocked up on more clothespins (you can never have too many!), more plastic tubs (again... never too many!), and Easter/Spring pencils. Have you found anything great at Dollar Tree lately?