Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

     For the first time in long time, since before we were married, my husband and I are spending Christmas quietly at home! Oh we had our traditional Christmas morning with my grown kids, no grandkids yet, and my parents which is so fun. We are truly blessed to have 3 generations together on Christmas morn...well actually it starts Christmas Eve. Let me back up...

     My daughter and I do a spaghetti dinner at Grandma's house, then we all go to their church for Christmas Eve service. (the Grandparents love showing us off to all their friends :D). After the service we take them home and the Kids come to our house for cookies, cocoa, and our traditional movie; National Lampoons Christmas Vacation. Oh! And don't forget their one Christmas Eve gift, their new pj's!. This started when they were little and they still expect it! the oldest is 29! (I didn't do it one year and they stomped around and sulked for the whole evening!)

     Then Christmas morning, making cinnamon rolls for my Son-In-Law (the best SIL ever!) and an egg casserole begins the Christmas festivities. The gang starts arriving around 8:00am so I have to have lots of coffee ready! The casserole pops into the oven while we start the present passing, and is done usually as we finish with gifts. The best thing, we all agreed, was spending time together, laughing, eating, and reminiscing. This year my daughter and her husband are spending the afternoon at his family's house so we agreed to do our BIG dinner on the 26th. Hence our quiet afternoon.

     Some people have a hard time with their children growing up and "traditions" changing. Yes, our traditions have changed but our center hasn't ... our family. My kids bless us by wanting to be with us and not just during the holidays. Things are different than when then were small (I'm not so tired from staying up all night putting out toys - LOL) but the importance of being together hasn't. That is something to be Merry about!

Merry Christmas to all and God Bless Us, Everyone!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas tree poster

A week to go But I think my class is already gone. They are giggling and chatting with a little bit of work here and there. So I guess I could fight them or join them, well maybe not go that far. I have all kinds of Christmas projects to to do but I am trying to have some learning taking place. So chose to do math games to review strategies and problem solving; We have so much fun with Ericas Bohrer's Domino Math Unit. It was a rainy day, which means inside recess. And guess what they were begging to play. Yep more "domino games" Thanks Erica. Tomorrow we are going to do the Plus One sheets.

They really got Fact Families and love making up their own.

For Phonics we are looking for patterns and then matching the rules. I writing words on sentence strips. I pass them out to different table groups and they go to town cutting or marking up the words, then matching it to the rule card. Meanwhile I am throwing in an craft thing or two. 

We finished the Candy Cane Legend last week and I thought that was the best. But oohs and aaahs today when I showed the Christmas tree poster made my day.

It was a fun afternoon project.
There are 7 ornaments showing items that are commonly seen at Christmas plus I left a blank ornament that the kids drew something that important to them. There were many dogs, families and friends drawn.
Then we wrote the significance of each ornament and glue the sheet to the back of the poster.

They were so cute talking about where they were going to hang them in their rooms. I love it when they are so excited about a project.

So tomorrow we will begin making our parent gifts.. I know I am a little late.  I didn't know what to do and was searching and searching, when a parent came in with a box and said "can you use these?"
Well I almost always say yes to that question and was very surprised to find 5"x7" plexiglass frames
 (the kind that sits on a desk or shelf). So we will be decorating those, drawing a picture to put in the frame, as well as picture of them and a maybe a hand print.

We are also going to decoupage green tissue paper to the lids of frozen juice. I have their little school pics to put in the middle and tiny little pompoms to use as berries. Hopefully they will look like wreaths. But I say a paintbrush and messy, watery paste is a successful project no matter what.

We will see what other mess we can make tomorrow.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Silence for Sandy Hook Elementary

As a 1st grade teacher I personally feel a lose and heartache for all the 

students and their families at Sandy Hook Elementary. How do we possible 

explain this tragedy occurring to such innocent little souls. I am sure that I am 

not alone feeling this shock and grief. May God find some way to use this for 

good, because I right now can't.

I am joining my fellow teachers in a day of silence for teacher bloggers on Sunday, December 16, 2012. You can show support also by only posting the picture below on your blog and titling your post as "Silence for Sandy Hook Elementary" .

God bless our smallest ones.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Christmas Tree & other Symbols

We finally got our tree and it is a really nice one this year, well on three sides (I don't know if trees really have sides?) and the "hole" is really only at the bottom so I don't think that counts. We put that side to the wall and I think we are good. 
 I think it looks pretty good!

Well as my family and I were decorating, reminiscing of Christmases past and being reminded of events that went with each small ornament.
 ( We have a very eclectic tree! ), I began thinking about all the things that make Christmas. That made me wonder where did these traditions come from and why. Interestingly, many are founded in the Christian meaning of Christmas, in the story of when the Christ child was born.

Of course as I was surfin' the net and learning about the symbols of Christmas, I had a vision  a brainstorm. I could do a unit for my class about the Symbols of Christmas.

                   ....And so I did. Here is my unit on the common decorations that we see
around us everywhere at Christmas time; 
angels, stars, gifts, evergreen tree, candy canes, and lights

I know that Christmas is getting close, but this is a Ready to Go Unit, with a craft and some other fun things. Please check it out at my TpT shop.

It includes 
this Craft and Book

This is an old picture, but it gives an idea of what it looks like.
 I need to take a new one with the cute ornament balls
and pictures of the symbols on them.
The Jesus Tree is a book by Annetta E. Dellinger

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Another Giveaway Link

I just can't get enough... I am supposed to be pulling out the Christmas lights and decorations to encourage my helpful elves to pitch in after we go get our tree today. Instead, I am checking out pinterest (but I have to find a craft for my kiddos for parent presents) and keeping up with by Bloggie Friends (so many fantastic ideas). So many that my head hurts trying to figure out how I can possible choose just a few!!! Anyway I ran across this giveaway that I found at Growing Firsties. It is so cute and such a fun idea for encouraging "STAR"readers.

She has great resources to help Star Readers set goals to become even better readers!
Check it Out!

New Christmas Ideas

We have been having so much fun comparing the different Gingerbread stories. We even read The Matzah Man .

After a week of reading a variety of Gingerbread themed books we were ready to embark on our own creations. First we made and decorated our own to create our main character. I used various shades of brown construction paper to represent cookies  and box full of things that was glued on to make buttons, etc. This summer I came across some new crayons, well new to me. The are called Construction Paper crayons by Crayola. 

WOW do they make the color POP

The little artists couldn't stop coloring.
We then started planning and writing our story, I am so impressed with their creativity and writing ability. They are all going the past the "5" sentence requirement; 
opening sentence
beginning, middle, ending
then a closing.

Meanwhile I have updated my Nativity Packet. It is up to 19 pages. I added a guided writing booklet that can illustrated and new picture cards with Bible references that can be matched to the vocabulary cards. 
These can also can be used to sequence the Christmas story.
I hope you will check it out.

AND If you have already purchased be sure to go back and download it again to pick up the new pages. Meanwhile...


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Gingerbread Baby comes

       You've gotta love first graders. We started our Gingerbread Unit this week and my Little Gingerbread Beannie Baby showed up in class yesterday. Oh the ooohs and ahhs he got was so cute. They had so many questions to ask HIM, not me! Who thought that their little faces could light up any brighter. But they did when they were told that GB Baby (that's what we call him for short) will stay till Christmas AND everyday he will sit on the desk of a quiet student! A hush suddenly came over the room. TaDa! It was the quietest day ever.... well truth be told it was quiet for a while, except for the little honey who was lucky enough to have GB Baby on her desk!. Oh Yeah, she was quiet.

Here is a picture of my cutie pie. 

        The best part was when we would sit on the carpet, GB Baby had to go too.  We had library and they convinced me that GB Baby should go along too. They all promised to watch him so that he didn't run away! Isn't that so cute? And tomorrow phase 2  of my Christmas Quiet Plan goes into affect. 
Candy Canes!

         Yes, I have found that I can get a lot from a first grader with a promise of a candy cane that they can eat at their desk while the work. I have special "blessing" coupons that say "Sweet treats for Sweet Behavior". I pass out these coupons blessings for any positive behavior that I see, especially in the beginning. When they get 5 blessings they may trade them for a Small Little Candy Cane. It has worked very well for managing behavior during this joyful holiday time. I mean how else do you compete with Christmas lights, trees, bells, presents, the Christmas Elf that is showing up to spy for Santa, and theBig  Elf himself! 

Here is my Blessing Coupon Freebie
if you want to give it a try
Click Here

Gotta Run...Let me know how you manage the Holiday excitement in your class. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Candy Cane Unit

I have worked this weekend (in between hubbie post surgery needs, laundry, and oh yeah lesson plans for tomorrow) and I have created 2 units for Christmas. These 2 are Christian related Christmas packages. I am working on some others that are not for those at Public schools and cannot use these. But you get to do Santa and I can't so it evens out I guess. But if it wasn't for Jesus we really wouldn't be having Christmas now would we?

Anyway here is my take off on The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg. It has the masters for the Candy Cane Poster I did last year. Here's a link back. I have added some other activities including a writing activity. So I hope you will check it out.

Really have to go and get ready for tomorrow. I thought I would be more ready but this week has been Very very busy. I almost have to get back to school to rest up. Four more weeks until vacation.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Christmas Sale

I had a great time at my convention and my head is swimming with ideas. This has turned out to be a very busy, crazy Thanksgiving.  I am so glad that I didn't have to do Thanksgiving /Birthday this year. My daughter who has a Thanksgiving Birthday went out of town, well actually out of the country with friends ( and her husband) to celebrate in Mexico.

So I thought that would give me extra time to play work on my TPT ideas. I am sure that you have heard about the big sale.
 I will have my items on sale for 20% off  
you can get another additional 10% by using the code "cmt12"!!
Get started on your wish list...I sure am!

So here I am, trying to get some of my Christmas packs done before Monday and Tuesday's big sale. But meanwhile my hubbie decides to have eye trouble and had to had emergency surgery.  I thought no problem, I can take my computer with me. There I was, with my computer in the waiting room, trying to find a plug as my computer was dying and of course I can't get any internet connection! Gratefully, surgery went well, eye will mend, and I finally finished one of my Christmas packs. 

So I will have least one item on sale for Monday and Tuesday.
I hope you will visit my store as you visit so many others. I know I have a wish list.

I am hoping to get a Gingerbread Pack, A Candy Cane Unit, and a Symbols of Christmas Pack.
I'll try.
Meanwhile I still have to grades into the computer, spelling words and homework ready for December along with lesson plans and a newsletter I have yet to do. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Brain Overload and A Giveaway Link

Just returned from a 2 day ACSI Teaching Convention in Anaheim and boy is my brain on overload from so much information. I can't wait to sit down and prepare some things for my class! From writing ideas to helps for high functioning special needs kids in class and everything in between. Whew! But it was a sweet bonding time with the teachers at my school. 

The 14 of us began by eating a fantastic diner at the Cheesecake Factory But while we were waiting for everyone to arrive, my BFF and 2nd grade teacher, went shopping. There was a sale at the Skechers store, a BOGO 1/2 off. We found these lightweight, very flexible sneakers called "GO Walk". OMG they are the most comfortable, cushy soft shoe ever! I wore them for two days walking around the Anaheim convention center without tired feet. I bought black since I thought they were a little more dressy with my jeans.

I have so many blogs to follow and catch up on. I also want to let you know about a giveaway for a Binding Machine that Nicole at Teaching with Class is giving away. If you have never used a binding machine you need to check this out. They are used for binding paper together. I use them for class books, Parent Handbooks, Birthday books that I give each student that contain stories written by their classmates about the the Birthday Student, scrapbook gift to parents, and so much more. Go to Teaching with Class and enter.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

TGIF before vacation

       We made it thru the week and ended with a very successful Pumpkin Tasting. Since we have been doing many activities involving pumpkins ( I discovered that my little ones think pumpkins are for Halloween jack-o-lanterns and pumpkin pies come from the store) I decided to have parents bring in anything made from pumpkins. Some of my parents really did some scrambling and we had some great treats. The favorite was Pumpkin Milkshakes  made from pumpkin puree and vanilla ice cream blended together with some spices and a dollop of whip cream. YUMMMY! We also had pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, muffins, bread, tarts, cheesecake and even pumpkin shaped rice krispie treats. I was busy doing crafts, monitoring parents and keeping track of kids so I didn't get to take pictures so I'll have to wait for my Photo Mom to send me some. But here is the picture of our turkey craft.

These turkeys are "stuffed" with a bag of rice and come with a recipe for leftover turkey casserole. I have had this pattern for years so I have no idea where it came from. But it always so much fun.

The recipe is simple:

Gobble-Good Turkey Casserole
1 can of Cream of Mushroom soup
1 can Cream of Celery soup
1 package onion soup mix
1 cup uncooked rice
1 and 1/2 cups of milk
2 or 3 cups of leftover turkey

Combine all ingredients in a large casserole dish. Bake covered 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

All in all it was a pretty fun day. I even put up one Christmas BB to get a head start when we return. Meanwhile I am packing to go to a 2 day conference and will return just in time to make Thanksgiving dinner. The problem will be that my head will be into making activities for my class not cleaning my house (which is never my 1st thought) and cooking a big meal. I think I need a pause button.

For the 4 weeks, I  am planning activities around The Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett, Symbols of Christmas, and The Christmas Story.  I'll try to post next week.

The Gingerbread stories I use for comparison to the Gingerbread Man are:

Interesting twists to the original story.

Happy Thanksgiving to Everyone.

Monday, November 12, 2012


I am sure you are like me and are saying "Where did November go?" We have been so busy but it feels like a marathon, maybe the Ironman, it just keeps rolling into the next event.  My class is so great and I am so proud how much they are reading. I had a proud moment last week when we were talking about the 1st quarter ending. I was giving out reading awards (all but one child read over 250 minutes in October! WOW) and I reminded them that two months ago most of them couldn't read and look at them now! And one little girl said, "But you always told us we were readers and now we are!"  It starts with believing.

Here is a freebie maybe you can use for Thanksgiving.  I have included 2 versions; 1 for those at a public school and 1 for those who would like a Christian version.

Giving Thanks

Also we had our Great Pumpkin Day with five stations. The kids had so much fun weighing, measuring, and exploring. Thanks to so many of you who have shared your ideas, especially  Cara Carroll with her The Great Pumpkin Investigation Package

My class and parents had so much fun. 
Here's some pictures from my class.

And here is our Pumpkin Wall Gallery

And lastly, I who never wins anything...DID! I won Jenn Bates'
new, Thanksgiving Read the Room pack. Yeah and just in time since I don't really have any center themed activities for this week. Shame on me, I know. But now I do. 
I know the class will have so much fun with this. 
Thanks Jennifer Bates at Finally in First

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Whisper Phones - DIY style

Okay Last year I hunted all over my garage for the reading phones I had made years ago. I remember putting them away when I went to 5th grade, then I didn't need them for the two years between jobs while I subbed. BUT.. I had a little voice in my head that kept repeating, "You gave them away". "Why would I have done that!" I would answer, but I knew that I had! Last year was so noisy with my little readers all reading "quietly" out loud. So this summer I decided to make new ones and after I saw the ones made with duck tape and painted, I knew just cutting PVC pipe would not be enough.

So I talked bribed my Hubbie into going with me to Home Depot, (They laughed at me at Lowe's!) to help pick out what I needed. They would only cut the pipe in half (but didn't laugh)  however my Hero Hubbie talked the HD man into letting us use his special PVC cutter tool. You should have seen the looks of all the contractor guys watching us cut 5" segments from 10' of PVC pipe.

So now I am at home with my pieces and I realize that I didn't take into consideration the size of the elbow joints and my phones are about 8 inches long! Yikes! So tomorrow My Hero Hubbie is going to go back and cut 2" off my already little pieces. I'll post more when we get that done.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Classroom Rules

Okay, I am finally getting into the nitty gritty of getting my class binders and pages ready for the new year. I needed to update some things, reprint, laminate...you know the drill. And this year we are adding another first grade class so I will have fun planning and sharing with someone besides only me! So one of the first things I did was looked at my classroom rules. Background note: Last year five teachers from my school attended a Whole Brain Teaching Seminar with Chris Biffle. It was overwhelming and great and the website is terrific too. (WBT SITE). Their rules were available on the website but I thought they were too old for my firsties and wanted to cutesy them up. And since I teach at a Christian school I thought it would be nice to make them Biblically based. There is is a great clip artist named Phillip Martin who is great about sharing. So I contacted him and he is allowing me to share my posters and rule book as long as I don't charge for them. So here is my first FREEBIES!

 I hope if you are at a Christian school you can use them. See below for a little book to go with it. I have permission from the artist to use his graphics for this freebie but they are my own design. I would appreciate it if you give me credit and refer them here to grab this freebie. Thank you.

Classroom Rules

Click for
 here your copies


For FREE Copy
Go to my Store Here

I am also making a little book that can be shared at home with the parents that goes along with these posters. Here's the link for the book if you are interested. It's 6 half pages to staple together and hand out.

Don't know why this page is rotated this way.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

School Bargins have arrived!

Well it is July...and Back to School is showing up in the stores. Yesterday I went to check out Targets (one of my weekly, if not more, stops) Dollar Spot. And Lo and Behold....Colorful Bins! Yes it was beginning. It looked like my store hasn't really gotten stocked but it was enough to get me started...you know that tingly feeling of "can't get enough storage", the palpitations of which color? oh take them all...! Please tell me I'm not the only one...

Anyway I did find a few things:

I decided to get those foam clocks and hang up showing the 3 different times my eager beavers ask about the most; snack recess, lunch, and time to go home. Gee maybe not enough is going on in the class?? Any how, I saw this idea on several blogs [Peace, Love, Learning] thought I would go with it.

 The yellow bucket (on blue fot special for $.50 WOW!) is for my Choosing sticks. I saw an idea using clothespins and putting them in the bucket after they've had a turn. [Peace, Love, and First Grade] I am alway losing the sticks because I carry them around and then lay them down. Luckily I have some little ones who pick up after me.
I also found those little black bins, sorry the picture didn't show so well, for activitiy cards. they were 2/$1.00. They have no lids but the lids but I'm not using them for storage.

I also bought crayons for my class which I always give when we return from Christmas break...Kinda a New Year's Present...Getting a fresh start. By this time my firsties have broke, lost, eaten, or ??? their crayons from the first day of school. Target now has Crayola crayons on sale for 50 cents, limited buy to the special bins. I don't think I will find them cheaper but I'll keep my receipt just in case.

Oh the Little duster came from the dollar store. I bought one last year and it was such a big hit I thought I buy another. Target did have them also but I wanted a match to the one I had. They dollar store also had white boards in a little frame and a marker for a $1. They seemed really cheap but hey if they work its a good price. Anybody know how these hold up?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Book Review

Chapter 2 and 3: I couldn't wait...heehee!

This chapter is about first laying the foundation. Looking back on my attempts at Daily 5, I can see that I probably did not take as much time laying the foundation, modeling, and practicing. It begins with trust, but I couldn't trust the students to do what I did not believe... I was still putting a lot of ME into it and not a lot of THEM. So I was not letting them learn to be responsible. We did build a community of learners, and my class loved working on their stamina, so I did see growth and the love of reading. But I still knew something wasn't working. Going back over the book and reading other peoples ideas and experiences, I see I need to trust the process and not rush it. Model, model, practice, practice...

These chapters made me think back to the beginning of the year when I realized that many of my students were not even reading at the pre-primer stage...Yikes! scary...and I remember thinking how am I going to get books in their hands. The first time we practiced to build stamina they couldn't do 1 min. before we had to stop AND it took us a long time to get to more than 5 minutes. We did DEAR time every day along with listening centers, and Read to Someone. It wasn't really in the Daily 5 format, But most were reading above the 2nd grade level by the end of the year. To celebrate our our love of reading we had a Snuggle and Read party during the last week of school. They brought their favorite little blankie or beach towel and a backpack full of books. We moved all the desks to clear the floor, laid out our blankets, spread out our books and I surprised them with some cookies. They were soooo excited to lay around reading and they read for 50minutes!!! We had to stop because the PE coach was wondering where we were. OOPS! For days I kept hearing about how fun that was. I can't wait to do Daily 5 and see the improvement this year.


I have started already:

1.  gathering up various shoes from grown children.
2.  collecting books from where ever I can.  I have many second and up books, but I gave away most of my beginning readers long ago. I'll also get some from the library to have a selection in their book boxes.
3.  looking at how to change my room for a meeting spot. This will be a challenge since it's a very small square room.
4.  looking to borrow anthology books from a friend. I am challenged because I am using Open Court (2002) without student books until Unit 7 when I have the student anthology books to use for a reading option.  [I only have stories in 6 Big Books  for units 1 - 6]

Friday, June 22, 2012

Summer Reading

Summer Reading - Daily 5 click here.

I am finally getting into summer mode which means I'm already planning for next year. Ha My hubbie just doesn't get this, yet I can't get into sitting around.  I am trying to get the hang of this blog thing, but so far I haven't figured out how to do any of the fancy things I have seen at other sites. Anyone know where to learn more about blogging?

I've already read 3 books and I am excitedly revisiting the Daily 5 and enjoying all the thoughts and comment from others.

Link to Lori's page [here]

I have dabbled with the Daily 5 while teaching 2nd grade, but last year when I moved to 1st grade I was lost on how to start. I had a very low class and mostly non- readers. I admit...I bailed, well almost. I fell back into guided reading groups, but kept some of the components of Daily 5; Working w/ words, read to someone, and read to self. Problem was I mostly ran them like centers, and I was the one trying to make them work. It was exhausting.

This year I'm trying again and NOT giving up. So I am re-reading the book with a fresh out look. I already know my big issue is giving up control. But if I train them to understand what is expected then I'm not giving UP Control but giving responsibility. Paradigm Shift! Whew I think that feels better already. Moving on to Chapter 2.  Go to my Daily 5 page or click here.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Writer's Workshop may be possible afterall

         It is the end of the second quarter and I am seeing such improvement in writing. We did an expository writing lesson about penguins this week and they could not believe how quickly and hour went by. The were so into their stories and pictures, using their personal dictionaries, which have been gathering dust until now, and sharing with each other. It was amazing to watch since this group of students came to first not able to write much of a sentence. I have allowed lot of free writing just to get them to write. I gave them journal books to make it more "real", but it has been a slow go.  I'm not sure what the catalyst was for this change, maybe they were just ready.

        We have been reading about penguins, making a concept board as we go along. Thursday we made a Penguins can-have-are chart from Mrs. Jumps Penguin unit. Then using the 4 squares concept each chose 3 things from the chart and one I think... idea about penguins (a concluding sentence). They went back and added an adjective to at least one sentence, then copied their stories to a nice paper. I was even able to conference with some about their stories. WooWoo!