Sunday, March 30, 2014

Spring Break Wrap-Up, New Work Space!

I am SO excited to be blogging from my brand spankin' new work space!  I had this craft area with lots of great storage which was much neglected and rarely used.  I revamped it over my spring break and made myself a delightful work area!  I am so lovin' it!  I just want to show you every little thing that I LOVE in this space!

I bought 4 yards of sage green burlap at Jo-Ann.  This was only 12 bucks!  I cut the burlap to fit and tacked it to the wall.  Next, I took jute, and got glued it to the burlap on the edges.  I tied bows and hot glued them in the corners.  I hot glued fancy buttons and paper flowers all over the place.  I have had these big buttons for YEARS!  I am so glad they now have a purpose.

This "Home" sign was the first thing I bought for my new house seven years ago.  I never knew where to hang it, so it has spent seven years in the box it came it!  It is a perfect fit on my wall.  I bought this sign from Uncommon Goods.  They have lots of fun, unique stuff!

I LOVE this bulletin board I found at Kohl's.  It was 50% off and I had Kohl's cash!  EVEN BETTER!  I love that I can look up and see my family when I am working.
Isn't this clock great?  It is a perfect fit in my space!  (It isn't 10:00 - I need batteries!)
I found this box at Hobby Lobby.  It has lots of spaces for little things!  
Can you believe I got this little clipboard at Wal-Mart?  I love that I can keep things I am referring to right next to my computer.  And I must mention how much I love my candle!  Have you seen these Nature's Wick candles?  I got mine at Target.  They have a wooden wick that crackles as it burns.  I think the sound is so soothing and relaxing.  It is one of my FAVORITE things!
I am absolutely crazy for these bins!  I am not sure what I am going to put in them, but they are adorable!  My mom bought me the "Autumn, Sweet, Autumn" sign years ago.  I was never sure where to put it because it seems a little vain to have a sign that says you are sweet, but my mom got it for me and it makes me happy.
I found this cute tray at Hobby Lobby.  I wish it was a little deeper so that I could stick more papers in it.
Isn't it terrific!  I just LOVE it!  But I can't fool you into thinking it is all grand.  That would be like lying, and I am not into dishonesty.  It only looks great with all the cabinets closed.  I have a whoppin' mess behind those doors!  Are you ready for my dirty little secret?  DON'T JUDGE ME! 
AAAHHHHH!  SHUT THE DOORS!!!  Maybe I will get to that project over summer break. :)  Thanks for looking at my beautiful new work space.  Please don't tell anyone about the mess! 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Watch, Think, Color Evolution and some FREEBIES

I started making WTC games about five years ago.  When they started, they all showed a number.  It was all about matching numbers on the hunderds chart.   After we played a few games like this, I started thinking of the possibilities.  I started making games that showed equations, coins, base ten units, SO MANY POSSIBILITIES!  WTC has continued to evolve.  I get lots of requests like "Can you make these with fractions?"  How can I?  I tried to wrap my head around this for a long time.  It has officially happened!  I am now making WTC games in a new format that allows me to make so many more skills - telling time, fractions, fact fluency, subitizing, and more!  The first bundle to include the new format is the Frozen Bundle.

It already contains Telling Time, Fact Fluency to 12, Number Sense (1-120), and Reading Number Words.  Like all expanding bundles, this set will continue to get new skills added.  I will also add all these new skills to the existing bundles.  These games do take quite a bit longer to make, but I know they are going to have a huge impact on mental math skills.  I am so excited about all the possibilities!

I made some WTC crowns that I wanted to share with you.  Kids LOVE wearing things, so I have made a bunch of Phonics Crowns, Alphabet Crowns, and Celebration Crowns.  I using these crowns in my classroom because they only use one sheet of paper and require ZERO prep work!  When kids go home wearing hats, they just look like they had a great day!  Plus, parents know what is happening in school.  A hat that says "I love long A" is going to get parents asking kids about their day.   I love WTC so I had to make crowns for those,  too!

We are on spring break now, so I had my fifth grader play WTC division practice to keep her brain going.  She made Steve from Minecraft.  She is QUITE obsessed with Minecraft!  This game is sold in the Video Game Bundle.

My four year-old also wanted to make a crown so we worked together to do one of my Beginning WTC games.  Beginning WTC games use less colors, larger charts, and have longer timings.  You can print the WTC crowns by clicking here!
Yes!  We were still in our pajamas!  :)

I thought of another step to add to WTC games as well.  You can give students blank charts and have them write the numbers before you begin.  Great for number sense!  I am including some charts here.  There are two with dotted numbers to trace and one that has no numbers.  These blank charts would also be great for the WTC large charts.  Tell them to fill-in numbers starting with 401.  The thing that bugs me about the large charts is making sure that I have the right copy for the right game.  This would solve that problem and give them some extra number sense practice.  To print these charts, click here!

Chart with dotted numbers to trace.

My spring break is coming to a close, but I feel really productive which is AWESOME!  I didn't get everything on my wish list accomplished, but I have done a lot and feel re-energized.  I am super excited to go back to school and use some of the new resources I have been working on.

Until next time,

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Spring Break! I think I can. I think I can. I think I can!

I am SOOOO glad to be on break!  This is my catch-up time!  I have so many plans.  My goal this year is to find more balance in my life.  This is super hard for me.  How is there time for my house, my kids, my husband, friends, class, TpT?  It is tough to fit it all in!  If I devote myself to one thing 100%, I am AWESOME at that one thing, but everything else in my life suffers.  Breaks give me a chance to catch my breath and take care of things that get neglected.  Hopefully putting my goals online will motivate me to REALLY get them done!  So, here are my goals this break:

  • Update one WTC bundle everyday!  So far, I have done Star Wars and Favorite Characters.
  • Get the April Bundle of the Month ready and packed with lots of games!
  • I am getting a new washer and dryer tomorrow!  This will be the first brand-spankin' new washer I have ever owned.  I usually get a hand-me down when someone in my family gets a new one.  I am pretty excited about it!  I have been intentionally NOT doing laundry, just so I would really break it in when it gets here!  
  • Exercise every day!  I have been such a slacker lately! :(
  • Go to Vegas to spend the day with my mom.  
  • Make some more Secrety Mystery Games.  SHHHH!!!  They are supposed to be a secret!
  • Clean out closets.  BARF!
  • Take my girls for pedicures
  • Get some stuff ready for the I Teach K conference in July.  Lots of prep work to do!  
  • Make some new Dolch Speed Read
  • Update a few more MOVE ITs
  • Organize a REALLY messy cabinet in my classroom
Gee!  That looks like a lot when it is all written down.  I will do my best!  I think I can.  I think I can.  I think I can!  

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Granting Wishes with FREEBIES!

Hey everybody!  I am so excited to share this fun news with you!  I have been making things for my own students since I began teaching.  I LOVE making stuff!  I can't believe that I am now teachers I have never even met are using my stuff with their own classes!  It is a wish come true!  It has inspired me to make other wishes come true.  I have decided that I will periodically grant some wishes by giving out some free stuff!  Watch my Facebook page for this image:
Dear LittleRed,  Please accept my apology for defacing your wonderful clip art!  I just couldn't help myself! :) Autumn

When you see it, tell me what you want from my store and why.  I will grant three wishes.  Don't forget to leave your email address and share the post with your teacher friends.  May all your wishes come true! :)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

MOVE ITs are Movin' on Up!

I started making MOVE IT activities last year because I had a child with ADHD who WOULD NOT work for me.  I decided to make lessons that would be a compromise - just a few problems for me then a chance to do a physical activity for him.  More work for me, more activity for him.  He responded very well to this and the rest of my students LOVED it.  Let's face it, sitting is boring!  I have been making MOVE IT activities for the past year, and they keep getting better!  I started adding music during the exercise breaks.  Some teachers wanted the answer to show, others did not.  I am now including that as an option so that it fits each class.  I like to use dry erase boards with MOVE ITs.  I can quickly look around and assess where we are.   I can give immediate feedback and corrections if necessary.  Other teachers have requested that I include a worksheet for students to fill-out as we go.  This is now included in MOVE ITs.  Looking back on them, my first games seem a bit blah.  They just got better and better as I made more.  Those who purchased from the beginning were happy.  WOW!  This is EVEN better!  Those who purchased great MOVE ITs then purchased the originals were disappointed!  There is no music!  There is no optional answer!  There is no worksheet!  The graphics are...lacking!  It is my goal to update ALL the old MOVE ITs.  I want them to be just as great as the new ones!

So far, I have updated all of the Telling Time MOVE ITs.  They now have "What Does the CLOCK Say?" Theme.  There is music.  Graphics are wonderful.  100% improved!  I did keep the old version in the bundle - just as an additional option.
Choose telling time to half-hour, quarter-hour, five minutes, or to the minute.  Buy a bundle and save!

Click the flower on the bottom corner and the digital clock at the bottom will appear!  Click any place else to advance without showing the answer.  

Four fun physical activities that are good for the body and the brain!

Print the worksheet or have kids write on dry erase boards!  
Here are the links for "What Does the CLOCK Say?":

I have also updated all the addition and subtraction MOVE ITs.  The new theme is "Math Monsters".

24 practice slides.  Click the corner to show answer or advance to the next slide.
Animated timers and fun music play while kids MOVE IT!

More practice, then more MOVE IT breaks!

Worksheets correlate with the theme!
Here are the links for the Math Monsters MOVE ITs:

One of my favorite things about Teachers Pay Teachers is how easy it is to download your previous purchases.  Just go to "My Purchases" and see if anything has been revised, then download the new version!  LOVE that!  If you own a MOVE IT that you believe needs updating, just send me a note on TpT under "ask a question" or in the comments below.  I am working on all the originals, but if I know you want one now, I will make that a priority.  Speaking of updates, I have many more MOVE ITs to revise, so I better stop bloggin' and get back to work!

After a while crocodile!


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Fun with OU and OW, Ideas for learning new sounds

Our focus sound this week is the ou/ow dipthong.  Each Monday, I introduce the new sound and we add it to our "phonics chant".  I made up a little song several years ago that goes with all the sounds we learn in first grade.  My husband is in the Marines, and I was inspired by cadences.   I start with "Oh, we're first graders and we're here to tell you" (they repeat this line) "learning to read is fun to do." (they repeat)  "We know so many sounds, we practice everyday" (they repeat) "We sing a little song and this is what we say:"  (repeat) then we go into all of the sounds.  Every week, we add a new line to it.  We use the the sign language alphabet in the movements that go along with the chant.  For the /ou/ sound, we make an o with one hand and a "u" with the other.  We say "O - U" then crash our hands together and say "/ou/!"  We repeat this with "O - W - /ou/!"  Each week, I lead the new sound and then on Friday I assign the line to a new student.  The kids have to pay attention and do their part on cue.  The rest of the class echoes after them.  It is pretty darn cute!  I will have to record it sometime.

Just a few weeks ago we had long o spelled ow.  I had a few who were really trying to read ow as long o this week even though we had gone over the new sound.  I wanted to drill in the ou sound so I we played HILARIOUS jokes on everybody at our school today. (Okay, so they might have only been hilarious to six year-olds!)  I put band-aids on all of them and wrote ou on one side and ow on the other.  We pretended we were really hurt saying "ou! ou!" and pOUting until someone asked what was wrong.  Then we responded with "I have two /ou/s.  Look o-u /ou/ and o-w /ou/."  They thought this was pretty funny.  Throughout the day I sent them to the office because of their /ou/s.  Our secretary is such a doll that she played along and even kissed somebody's /ou/ better!  LOVE HER!

Just look at that pout!  She got an /ou/! 

While they were at recess, I made a quick worksheet to go with this theme.  I had them work with their group to brainstorm words that contained ou and ow /ou/ sounds to write on band-aids.  I printed on tan paper and they turned out great!  Click here to download my band-aid template.

I also read a Scholastic Phonics Tales story each week.  This week we read Mouse in My House.  You know I love scanning books, so this is totally on the smartboard!  (To read more on scanning books, click here!)  The kids love searching for words and pictures with the sound we are working on.  When we are finished, I give them a mini-book that goes with our Scholastic Phonics Tale story.  Their job is to highlight all of the words with our sound and color ONLY the pictures that have this sound.  They love this and they can take it home to share with their families.

We make phonics crowns that correlate with our focus sound.  Here are the two crowns that correlate with the /ou/ sound.  We did ou spelling on Monday and ow on Thursday.  To read a previous post on phonics crowns, click here.

The kids wear their crowns while they go on a hunt for the sound.  They can look in their reading books, good-fit books, and dictionaries for words.  They can also read the room to find words.  They write words they find in their word work notebooks.  I usually give them about 20 minutes to search then we go over words they found.  We make a  "jail" on the board for words that broke our rule.  For example if somebody wrote "you" because it has ou, it would go to jail because that does not follow the rule we are learning.  I shine a PowerPoint slide on my board and write over it.  I write the focus sound on the yellow badge and words on the lines.  (I also LOVE to have kids come to the board and write for me so that we can talk about handwriting!)  This slide was made using graphics from Krista Wallden at Creative Clips.  LOVE her work!  I am trying to collect it all!  To download my jail/cops PowerPoint slide, click here.
This shows my "rule breakers" slide in action.  

There are no "wrong" answers because every word gives us an opportunity to discuss other rules and spelling patterns.  Students have an opportunity to write more words in their notebooks as we review as a class.  We do this every week and the kids love it.

My school subscribed to United Streaming and I downloaded TONS of videos.  I sorted them into files that correlate with what we are focused on each week.  On Friday, we will watch "Between the Lions -  Out in Outer Space" and eat sOUr gummy worms.  The kids get so excited to see our sound in action!

I love, love, love teaching reading and am so happy  to share some of my weekly routines with you.  Please leave me any questions or comments.  Have a super week!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Celebrating Seuss with Math, Reading, Science, and FREEBIES!

Our featured author this week is Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss).  We really need to learn about him, because many of my students thought Dr. Seuss was a cat!  :)  Gotta love first graders!  We will read his books all week.  
I bought some Dr. Seuss bags at Target a few years ago.  We use these for "Reading Rugs" this week.  I fill the bags with several different Seuss books and a hat.  Kids take a colorful rug and find a place to practice read-to-self.  I made pointers that look like truffula trees by hot gluing pom-poms the end of pencils and wrapping them with pipe cleaners.  They love using these to track their words.  Reading Rugs are also a fun way to do read-to-someone.  

My school has no inside hallways.  All of the classroom doors open to the playground.  Teachers at my school have always complained about how we cannot decorate our doors because the wind and possible rain will ruin our hard work.  We have a new teacher this year and she did not want to listen to all these excuses!  She just did it!  She inspired others to start decorating and has even helped decorate for other teachers who wanted to participate but did not feel artistic.  Our doors are turning out so cute!  The school is so cheery and the kids are loving it.  I can't help but be reminded of one of my favorite Seuss lines:  "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It's not."   Thanks for caring, Ms. Rodriguez!  

Here are a few of our finished doors.

 One of my favorite activities for this week is making oobleck with the kids.  We will save this for Friday and do it as a part of our "Fizzle, Pop Friday" science.  I LOVE reading the story Bartholomew and the Oobleck.  It is one of my very favorites.   Shuffle Duffle Muzzle Muff!

We use this recipe for our oobleck. 

  • 1 cup water 1/2 cup white school glue (Elmers works best)  
  • 1/2 cup liquid Borax 
  • 1 large mixing bowl or disposable container 
  • 1 small mixing bowl or disposable container 
  • Spoon for mixing 
  • Newspaper  
  • Green food coloring


    • Cover your work space and the floor below it with a layer of newspaper.  
    • Pour 1/2 cup water into your large mixing bowl or disposable plastic container. To create the green oobleck similar to the slime featured in Dr. Seuss's book, add a few drops of green food coloring to the water and stir. 
    • Add 1/2 cup of white school glue to the water solution and stir until completely mixed.
    • In the small mixing bowl or disposable container, combine 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of liquid Borax and stir until completely mixed.
    • Slowly pour the water and Borax mixture into the glue and water mixture. Stir or knead the mixture until it forms a slippery glob. Remove the oobleck from your container and notice the contrasts from liquid to solid as you move it around in your hand.
I totally recommend using all disposable items when making oobleck.  Who has time to stop and clean a bowl when you have just given OOBLECK to 24 six year-olds?  COME ON!!!

We have also been doing some Watch, Think, Color activities inspired by the doctor!  I love this point in the year because there are SO many games we can use - number sense (1-120), reading number words, place value, ten more/ten less, counting on/counting back, large charts (BIG numbers 101-1,020), and so much more!  I love setting up different centers for my kids to work at their own levels and they all end up with the very same picture.  SO COOL! 

 My kids will also do a fun roll and color page to practice their addition facts.  This practice page is available in two versions, one uses only one die and reinforces number recognition 1-6.  The other uses two dice and reinforces addition facts to 12.  Choose the page that is right for your class! 

I thought it would also be cute if we made birthday cards for Dr. Seuss.  I wanted them to kind of "wrap-up"  our author study.  Just print the two pages back-to-back.  Kids color the front.  On the inside, kids can color a balloon for each Seuss book they read and decorate the cover of their favorite Seuss book.  Here is the link to print your own Seuss birthday cards.  

I hope your week is filled with wonderful stories and children who are excited about reading them!