Saturday, November 28, 2015

Top Wishlisted Products!

If you haven't heard, the annual TPT Cyber Monday Sale begins November 30th! I have been flooding my personal TPT Wishlist with tons of items I've had my eye on, and I'm sure you have too! 

I'm linking up with Jen over at Teaching in the Tongass for Top Wishlisted Items! These are the top 3 products in my store that people have put on their wish lists. There is also some customer feedback attached from teachers that personally used each one!

Shapes Galore for the Common Core is not only my top wishlisted item, it's also the top selling product in my store! This pack includes fun activities and resources for teaching 2D and 3D shapes. In this unit, you'll find classroom resources, decor, games, printables, and more to help you teach these geometry standards. Click here to get a closer look at all that is included!

My Kindergarten Journeys Interactive Notebooks for Leveled Readers are made to go along with the Journeys curriculum and are a great supplement to add to your teaching resources. There are differentiated, leveled interactive notebook activities that go with all of the leveled readers in Unit 1. As I was using the leveled readers with my own students, I found that I really wanted something concrete that they could work on all of the reading concepts and skills that I could show their families as a record of their progress... and this is what I came up with! My kids really enjoyed using them and creating them in their own reader's notebooks. I also have sets for units 2-6 as well! Click here to see pictures of the notebooks in action!

Counting Tools for Back to School is a comprehensive teaching resource that can be used to help you teach all of the Counting and Cardinality standards in a fun, engaging way! There are classroom anchor charts, assessments, math stations, games, number sense printables, teaching resources, and more! You can use these activities all year long! Click here to check it out!

Hopefully you found a few great items that you can add to your wishlist for the big sale! You can find other great items by heading on over to Teaching in the Tongass to see what other top items TPT sellers have in their shops - and even link up yourself, if you like! Happy shopping!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Spider Study!

For the past week and a half, we have been up to our ears studying everything we can about spiders! I've never had the time to do a spider study before, so I was so excited to gather up as many spider-related resources as I could in reading, science, and math. I truly feel that cross-curricular studies are the most meaningful ones for students.

First, I began by collecting as many non-fiction books as I could find about spiders. Here are some options if you are looking for some great ones to use with your K-2 spider study.

I am blessed to have a smartboard in my classroom, so instead of using a bunch of chart paper to make various anchor charts and posters, I decided to streamline it and keep them all in digital form. It ended up working out SO nicely! We could easily go back and refer to our schema chart and add new notes pages for each topic we were learning about. Not to mention, I didn't have to worry about finding a place to hang up a million posters/anchor charts. Here's a few of our digital anchor charts we made:

Even if you don't have a smartboard in your room, you could easily create every single one of these anchor charts on big paper, powerpoint, etc.! We ended up making a separate page for each topic that we learned and studied about spiders.

I also got by with a little help from my TPT friends! I used A Year of Many Firsts' AMAZING non-fiction spider unit, which you can find here! She has gorgeous pictures and so many creative resources to use. We ended up referring to her spiders digital fact book, printable student readers, and spider fact book to record all of the facts we found. 

Lyndsey included 3 differentiated student read aloud books. I chose the middle leveled one for my first graders and we spent time reading and highlighting important details we found in the text.

Then we used the books to write our own facts in their student fact books, which we used all week to record facts about spiders.

Each book page had a different topic to write and draw about. My students loved filling it all out; and their writing turned out amazing! I'm so glad that there are amazing TPT sellers that help me teach wonderful units in my classroom! Thanks, Lyndsey!

Here are a few other fact-finding activities we did:

Parts of a Spider Labeling Anchor Chart

Then we used the anchor chart to label it using another resource from A Year of Many Firsts' spider unit. 

I also implemented many spider themed activities for whole group math, reading, and literacy centers. It's amazing what a little themed activity will do to increase my students' excitement and engagement in a learning activity. Since they were loving learning about spiders, they were all in on these fun activities! 

For our ELA time, I create this little Smartboard interactive Spider Sentence sort. The students had to move the spider's legs to the side of the body that it belonged to (sentence or not a sentence).

My students absolutely loved reading the Spider poem from Deedee Wills' October Poetry Unit. I gave them a giant plastic spider to act out the poem with each other's names and they couldn't even get over it! We'll be adding the poem to our reading interactive notebooks later this week and my kids will partner read it to practice fluency.

I also implemented our spider theme into many math activities we did last week. We've been working on addition concepts for the last few weeks, including decomposing numbers, so this adorable little freebie craftivity from Wild About Firsties was the perfect activity!

You can download the freebie here!

I hung them all up on a bulletin board in my classroom for some festive student decor!

We also did a little graphing activity: Do You Think Spiders are Cool or Creepy? Needless to say, I did NOT agree with the majority of my kids! Ha!

One of my teammates came up with this little data analysis sheet and we compared our results!

In math tubs, we've been working on fun themed activities like my Spidery Roll and Cover:

...Which can be found here along with other Halloween math tubs in my Trick or Treat! Math is Sweet! Math Stations Pack (click on the picture below to find out more!)

 photo TrickorTreatcover_zpsa1243100.png

To add a little fun to literacy centers, I made this little Spider Digraph Spinner game that my students loved! They spun the spinner, and based on whatever digraph they landed on (ch, th, sh), they had to find a word that began or ended with the digraph and color it by the color code till they filled up the entire spider web!

You can download this game for FREE by clicking on the picture below!

 photo spider preview 1_zpscssc015v.png

So, with all the fun we had learning about spiders, I must admit I am sad to see it go! However, that will be short-lived because this week we are going to begin our BAT unit... always one of my faves!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Five for Friday 10.16.15

Hey everyone! This has been a super odd week for me with a day off of school, parent teacher conferences, and two half days... but it didn't mean that we weren't just as busy in first grade! I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching to share some of the fun I had this week.

We've been doing a big spider study for the last week and a half and my kids are SO into it. At conferences this week, so many parents were asking about our spider unit because their kids have been going home and telling them all they've learned. I love that! We kicked it off with a little spider graph that asked, "Do you think spiders are cool or creepy?" Note: I did not agree with the majority of my class. ;)

In keeping with our spider theme, we made this super cute Spider Sums to 8 craftivity from Wild About Firsties. We brainstormed all the ways to make 8 as a class and then each student picked one number sense they wanted to represent with their spider legs. 

I guest posted on my lovely friend Mrs. 3rd Grade's blog the other night as part of her 30 Amazing Teachers series and shared about a cute little Halloween gift I'm giving my first grade teammates this week! Click here to see how I put it all together (there's a link to the free gift tag I used from Eighteen25)!

Now that I'm teaching first grade, I'm teaching a lot of sounds, digraphs, vowel teams, etc. that I never had to teach in kindergarten before, so I was lacking a lot of resources to go with those phonics skills and struggling to find any printables that worked for my students. So, I did what any good teacher blogger does... I made my own! Included in this pack are 5 no-prep printables to go with the  -ck ending sound digraph (-ack, -eck, -ick, -ock, -uck). Students will read the words to practice fluency, highlight them in each word family, write and label pictures, read sentences, and write/illustrate their own sentences using -ck words. I tested these activity sheets out with my students and it really helped them with their spelling and fluency because they were interacting with the words in so many different ways. I just uploaded it to my TPT store... click on the picture to find out more!

 photo -ck cover page_zps9hutryb2.png

One of my favorite things about fall is... hockey starts! Hockey is my absolute favorite sport and I root hard for my Coyotes! I got to go to the home opener earlier in the week and had a blast!

I'm so glad Friday has arrived! I am ready for a weekend! Hope you'll link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for more Five for Friday fun!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Sharing Sunshine with Hello Sunshine... New Dollar Tree Finds for Classrooms!

This year has been a somewhat difficult transition for me: EVERYTHING changed. I switched districts, I switched schools, and I switched grades. After being in the same place in the same grade with the same team for 6 years, suddenly everything was different. I had to get used to different routines, different curriculum, different standards, a different team, different school procedures... you name it, and it was totally flipping what I knew about teaching and being a part of a school community. Now, don't get me wrong - I absolutely LOVE where I work and I wouldn't change anything about my new journey. However, it has definitely provided for some more stressful times than one normally has in their 7th year of teaching... sometimes I feel like a first year teacher all over again! That includes working LONG hours on planning, finding resources, and doing all the little things our job entails. When our teaching lives get stressful, it can be easy to reside in that zone of negativity: complaining, putting too much on our plates, and not bothering to find solutions to make things better. Once we place ourselves in that mindset, it can be hard to get out of it and see and share the positive things that are happening in our schools and classrooms!

That's why I'm so excited that my friends and I over at our collaborative blog, Hello Sunshine, are starting a new monthly linky... Sharing Sunshine!

Sharing Sunshine is a linky where you can write a blog post sharing some teacher-y sunshine with your fellow peers! It can be anything you are excited to share about: a new product, a freebie, a great lesson you taught, teacher deals, favorite products, favorite classroom supplies... ANYTHING! Share something you love about teaching and link up with us on every 15th of the month!

This month, I'll be sharing a little sunshine about some of my favorite classroom items from Dollar Tree! I picked up all of these things this summer and I am so excited to put them to use in my classroom.

The first item that I was SO excited to find were these magnetic spinners:

Seriously, I went on the hunt for these babies after my mom told me about them and it took me going to 4 different Dollar Tree stores before I actually found them. So if you see them at yours, RUN to buy them! I tested them out and they work perfectly! I plan on using them for whole group spinner games, voting activities, and more! I'll also be using the finger pointer spinner in the middle of my GoNoodle spinner to choose our new class champ:

You can download the spinner for free HERE!

Dollar Tree is also the absolute perfect place to grab gobs and gobs of baskets, bins, and containers! They have them in all shapes and sizes in adorable colors... you can even get 2-3 baskets for $1! The little orange buckets and the long skinny green baskets came 2 to a pack! How are these even a dollar? You'd find these kinds of baskets at most retail stores for $3-$4... but not at Dollar Tree! Such a steal. And I don't know about you, but I can never have too many baskets in my classroom!

This summer, they actually had a lot of things I hadn't seen before at a Dollar Tree, such as these magnetic speech bubble dry erase boards. You could use these in so many ways! I was thinking I could make some sort of area on my magnetic cabinets where I'd post a student's picture and have them write something about what we are currently learning about: a math fact, something new they've learned, their favorite thing to do at school, etc... the options are limitless! You could also use them as an adorable label and change it out when you need to, since they are erasable!

Another great item I was able to score at Dollar Tree were these colorful, big, plastic tweezers. 

These are GREAT for helping students develop strength and fine motor skills. I plan on using these in many different center activities where they'll have to pick up items with tweezers to sort them instead of just moving them around with their fingers. And don't even get me started on how completely excited your kiddos will be to use these! It can put a fun twist on any learning activity.

Here are some other favorite Dollar Tree finds:

Recycling Game:
This is a magnetic sorting game that I can't wait to use with my kids on Earth Day! It has tons of pieces to help students sort items by plastic, paper, and aluminum. Such a fun hands-on activity!

Big Foam Dice:
I can't get enough of these giant foam dice that come two to a pack! You can't find jumbo dice like this ANYWHERE for the price of a dollar. They are very durable and I use them all the time in my classroom to play dice games in both math and reading centers.

Magnetic Mirror:
I love these! Mirrors can be used for so many different things. I plan on using a couple of these in guided reading groups to help my kiddos struggling with articulation of sounds so they can see how their mouth moves when they attempt to say them correctly. I also have one for a non-educational purpose: making sure I don't look completely scraggly after school if I'm headed to a parent or staff meeting! You know how we all feel and look at the end of a school day! Ha!!

I hope these affordable classroom ideas brought a little sunshine to your day! Be sure to link up with us over at Hello Sunshine to share some sunshine (and read about other bright ideas) today and then again on the 15th of every month!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

GoNoodle Back to School Blogger Blitz... win GoNoodle SWAG!

As a teacher, I love discovering new resources that make my life in the classroom a little easier and a lot more fun! GoNoodle is definitely one of those great resources! GoNoodle is a website that offers free brain break videos that help channel classroom energy for good. They have 7 different categories of videos including guided dancing, free movement, stretching, sports and exercise, kinesthetic learning, coordination, and calming. There are so many options for getting students up and moving or relaxed and calmed down when they need it most! I use it EVERY DAY in my classroom and couldn't imagine life without it! I believe in it so much that I'm joining with the fine folks at GoNoodle for the GoNoodle Back to School Blogger Blitz to share some ideas for how I'll be using it in my classroom this year. Keep reading to the bottom... I'll have a huge giveaway for you at the end!!

It's super easy to sign up - you just fill out a small information form, choose a class champ, and voila! You're on your way to GoNoodle brain break fun.

This year, I'll be using GoNoodle in my classroom in a variety of ways!

The first way I'll be using GoNoodle in the classroom is as a behavior motivator. I tell my students that they can earn a brain break for completing any number of tasks: working quietly, following directions quickly, doing their best work... anything goes! They instantly get straight to the task at hand when I tell them they can earn GoNoodle time. It's the easiest no-prep behavior reward around! 

My students also love to be able to choose their class champ. Sometimes, I'll let a student who exhibits extraordinary behavior choose our next champ when it's time to pick a new one. 

Other times, we'll do a whole class vote where my students will put tally marks next to the class champ they want to choose. This year, I'm planning on implementing a new way to choose: the Class Champ Spinner! I created circular pictures of every class champ. I'm going to cut them out, put magnets on the back, and arrange them in a circle. In the middle, I'll put a magnetic spinner, like these:

I found these at Dollar Tree!

...let a student spin, and whatever picture it lands on will be our class champ! You can download the spinner for FREE by clicking on the picture below!

 photo spinner graphic gonoodle_zps4tz2i8v6.png

The second way I'll be using GoNoodle in my classroom this year is our favorite way -- as a brain break resource! I've taught kindergarten for six years and now first grade for one; and kids, especially those in the primary grades, NEED time to move and groove around! We know that we can't have our students sitting in one place for too long, but sometimes it's necessary. Whenever we've had a time where I notice my kids getting wiggly or they've been working hard for a long period of time, we will do a brain break video just for fun! Our favorite channel is Koo Koo Kangaroo Party, where you can watch random, silly, and just plain fun videos such as ZAP IT!, which encourages kids to try their best!

And Pop See Ko 2.0!

There are tons of amazing videos that are so fun... even for me!

The last way I'll be using GoNoodle in my classroom is for academic resources - they have an amazing feature where you can upload any YouTube video and create your own channel! I'll upload video links from Harry Kindergarten, Have Fun Teaching, HeidiSongs, and more! That way, when we'll be watching videos anyway for our morning routines, calendar routines, etc., we can watch it through GoNoodle and get points for it! It is also a great way to have all of your Youtube links in one place.

Have I convinced you yet? No? Well, I've got some more amazing news for you. GoNoodle has an incredible online shop where you can get GoNoodle themed t-shirts, tumblers, student gifts, lanyards, and MORE! I've already made use of the store... I own the POP SEE KO shirt and "My Class is a Dance Party" shirt.... so fun!!!

You can also get fun classroom decor like this window decal (I hung it in my classroom window!):

You can get these things and even more amazing items in the GoNoodle shop at a 15% OFF DISCOUNT from now through September 11th! Just use the code BTSWithGoNoodle!

How generous are the people at GoNoodle? Not only are they offering a discount, but they are letting me have a big giveaway here on the blog! You could win a class set of 25 "Champtastic" Activity Books! How fun do these look?

Can you even imagine how excited your students would be if you gave them all one of these Activity Books?! I know mine would!

Just enter the Rafflecopter below to enter and WIN!