Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tech Tip Tuesday

It's Tuesday and I am back with a new tech tip for y'all! My tip tonight is about a website and tool that is most importantly, free, but I also think it has many applications for teachers and... just regular old humans! The site is called Wallwisher and well, it's kind of awesome. This site allows you to create "walls", which are pages to which you privately post messages for yourself, or publicly allow others to post to (Any other teachers out there have a love affair with post its?). I love posting questions for my kids to respond to on KidBlog, but this might even beat that. If you have easy access to multiple student stations, netbooks, a computer lab, or even if your students have reliable, consistent internet access at home, you definitely want to check this out and try it soon. What a great way to have students discuss, respond and reflect - in 160 characters or less, of course. At the very least, I know I personally am always emailing myself and sticking post its everywhere - this is a much better way to access your to-do list or personal notes from anywhere!

I created a wall here for you blog readers to see a demo and leave me a post and tell me how you think you might use this. If you want more information, check out their FAQ page or the demo page. You can also embed or share your "wall".


Go there! Now! Let me know how you plan to use this cool web tool!

Friday, March 23, 2012

It's Friday!

It's FRIDAY! This post has NOTHING to do with anything instructional, I'm just in a great mood and this is why:

  • It is a beautiful day in Dallas today!
  • It's Friday!
  • 17 out of my 21 kids came to Open House and that makes me think they might really like what we're doing in here!
  • There are only 46 days left of school... and then I can read my Kindle and sleep in to my heart's content!
  • Hunger Games came out today! I braided my hair like Katniss for the occasion.

Have a SUPER weekend friends!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Open House Invitation

Is it weird that I like the smell of Lysol? I walked in from parent pick up (that's what we call our carpool) and I was immediately energized by the clean smell of my room! My students wiped down their desks before they left today, mainly so their parents wouldn't see how much they struggle to get all forms of glue to it's intended recipient. I don't live very far from my school, but it's not worth the time and traffic to go home and come back, so I'm up here straightening a few last minute things and working ahead for next week. While I have a few minutes, I thought I'd hop on and share the invitations we made to encourage our families to attend tonight. I love creating invitations for school events because I feel like I really do get a better turn out. Also, the kids have so much fun making them, especially these!

You will need:
1 81/2"x11" sheet of manila or white paper for each invitation

First, holding the paper horizontally, fold in the sides so that they meet in the middle.
Next, fold in the top corners until they meet in the middle and create a triangle.

 Now cut off the triangle flaps that you just folded over so that your paper looks like this:

Decorate your house and create an invitation!
We have a little mini lesson on writing an invitation and talk about what the important information is that your reader needs to know. We put all of that information on the inside of the flaps. In the middle section, we write a sentence to get them interested in coming. For example: Come see all of the _____ things we've been learning! We have a little brainstorming session where I record all of the adjectives they generate that could fit in that sentence, then they pick one and write it. That's it! One of my kids finally said, "Hey! It's a house that opens for Open House!" Yesss... that's where I was going with that, I'm glad someone caught on! I'm not an artist and I am sure there are some teachers out there that could turn this into something WAY cuter, but hey, I did my best! 


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring Things

Hold the phone... I'm blogging two days in a row. That NEVER happens! I guess I was just so pleased with the adorable 3D flowers we made today that I had to get on and share! I think I've had my kids do this activity and post it for open house as long as I've been in first grade, but usually we do it by assembling paper pieces. This year I wanted to do something a little more fun and after googling and pinteresting, I found a few ideas but nothing was quite perfect. So I made up my own using things I already had at home and in my craft tubs.

The final product:
To make this you will need:
green pipe cleaners (1 per student)
baking cups (1 per student)
3"-4" pieces of yarn (1 per student)
construction paper
flower parts labels (click here for mine)
brown and yellow crayons
gold glitter (optional)

First, fold your baking cup in half, then in half again, and yes, one more time. Like so:
 Please excuse my dry cuticles...

Next, round of the top of your folded cup. Like this:

Now unfold it, et voila! A flower!

Next. you can have your students paint or color the center yellow for the pollen. I added a little gold glitter gel on top just to give them a little Open House sparkle.

To make the stem, I cut off the top quarter of the pipe cleaner, then cut that piece in half. The long piece is used for the stem and your students will create the leaves out of the two smaller pieces.

In order to make the roots, I used brown yarn, but you could also use twine or more pipe cleaners. I gave each student a piece that was between 3" and 4" and allowed them to cut that piece into smaller pieces to create roots themselves. 

Finally, put all of the pieces together, add the labels and draw in the soil. You have a 3D plant diagram and is cute, fun to create and educational - win, win, win!

(We're working on adverbs that tell when this week.... could you tell, HA?)

I need to add a permanent disclaimer that says "Warning! You are about to encounter photos of terrible quality!". Ugh. One of these days I WILL get a new digital camera.

But WAIT! There's more (said in my best infomercial voice)! Here's a mini math center I created to reinforce fact families. We are revisiting addition and subtraction going up to 20 right now and I needed some new materials to keep these review concepts fresh. Enjoy! Click on the cover to download from Google Docs.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tech Tip Tuesday and a Freebie

Happy first day of spring blog friends! It's Tuesday so here I am with a tip and a website to share with you! Open House is this Thursday... I hate that it is always the week after Spring Break... and I have been B-U-S-Y prepping for that big event!

  • Google Docs - I share the majority of my printables and materials through Google Docs and I know many other bloggers do too. Even though I know all of my materials are available for download, I still get emails nearly daily from Google Docs requesting that I share my files. So, I thought it might be helpful to some for me to attempt to explain how you can save files in Google Docs. When you click on a link that takes you to Google docs, all you need to do is click "file", then "download" or "download as" and save it to your computer. Just be sure you are clicking file in the Google Docs toolbar and not in your browser's toolbar. That's ALL you have to do! Also, if you are signed with your Google account, Google Docs will automatically save a copy of the file in your account. Seriously... it's that easy. 

  • Read to Me  - This a neat {FREE} site where your kids can stream videos of celebrities reading popular children's books. I've been using this site all year as one of their Daily 5 "Listen to Reading" choices. I didn't discover this site myself, that credit goes to Mrs. Claborn. There aren't a ton of books, but I'm not complaining - it's FREE! I recommend Bugtown Boogie... now,  I've never actually read it but I see my kids listening to it every single day so it HAS to be good, right?
Speaking of Daily 5... I have a little freebie for you! I know this is a big no-no, but I remade our I-Charts today. I created them with my kids and I've had those up all year... but they are looking a little worn. I just couldn't stand it anymore. The "Listen to Reading" chart is pretty specific for my kiddos and what I allow them to do at that time, but I thought I'd share anyway! Click on the picture to download.

Clip Art Courtesy of Scrappin' Doodles
Borders Courtesy of Graphics from the Pond

Off to enjoy a few minutes of blog stalking and Kindle Fire reading before turning in! Goodnight!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Yeehaw! A Texas (and Western) Unit

No Tech tip Tuesday this week because like me, it's on spring break.  BUT I am here today to share with you the Texas/Western/Cowboy/Cowgirl unit I created and used with my class last week. It was a really fun week and a great way to send them off on their own Texas adventures for spring break! I have to take a minute to say that I love that I am 31 and still get a spring break. Seriously. It's been an awesome week! Back to business... I like doing this unit at this time because we have Open House the week after spring break, and it's a super unit for creating and displaying work. Scroll down for a few pictures and examples of things we did (as always, let me apologize for the poor quality of my pictures, my iPhone is my only camera) and you can click on the cover to head over to Google Docs and download my mini unit for free! I say "mini unit" but it ended up being 36 pages, so I'm not sure how mini it is, and there are a lot of activities that I didn't snap pictures of (darn!).

 We created these cactus pictures on a full sheet on manila paper folded in half. It will serve as their Texas portfolio for Open House next week. 

Texas, Texas YEEHAW! Off to enjoy the rest of my spring break!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tech Tip Tuesday

Hi! It's Tuesday again so I'm back with a new tech tip! This is going to be a super short post as I will be back soon in the next few days to post the Texas/Cowboy unit we're in the middle of. Today's tip is...

  • WatchKnowLearn - This is an AWESOME site that provides free, educational, pre-screened videos for kids K-12. There are THOUSANDS of videos - seriously, go search something right now and I dare you to NOT find something you can use tomorrow. You won't be able to do it. I mean, a video of Justin Bieber reading The Cat in the Hat? What more could you need anyway? HA! Really though, we're studying Texas this week and on the first page of results from my Texas search I found 2 videos that I could use immediately. I love not having to screen the video and somehow, while YouTube is blocked at school, I can still access the appropriate and educational videos from YouTube through this site. Now go forth and search!
Hope you are all having a fantastic week! I only have 3 more days until Spring Break! Holler!