Sunday, August 14, 2016

Back to School 2016 Classroom Reveal and a Freebie!

Why is summer break the fastest time of year?  Ten weeks flew by and we are back into the swing of things. 

What better time to share my classroom?  I rearranged the room and am loving the new floor plan.

This is right outside my classroom.  It is in the main hall of our pod and the cubbies on the left lead to the door.

You can get this sign, which is editable, here.

This is the bulletin board above the children's cubbies.  Our fire marshal does not allow us to put paper behind our bulletin boards so I will fill this up with student's work as soon as possible.

This board use to be my word wall.  After three hours of scraping, I got it down and made it my main board.  I do most of my teaching on the carpet but wanted a board just in case.  I purchased a magnetic dowel and placed it on the left side of the board to display anchor charts.  I enlarged some of my favorite Kidlettes to dress up the board.  Our two rules are above the board:  Be kind and work hard.  I am using Blair Turner's Kindness Challenge this year, which is under the board.  We will have a new challenge each week.  Our first week is to compliment a classmate.

back to school; classroom reveal

This board is opposite my main board.  I made it into my Number Corner, which is Bridges Math's calendar.

back to school; classroom reveal

Can you believe I made this bench?  I'm thrilled with the way it turned out.  The seats are covered with a fabric shower curtain I purchased a few years ago.  This bench holds my leveled library.

back to school; classroom reveal

Here is a close up of my main board.  Below are the student's book boxes.

back to school; classroom reveal

Here is a view of my room from the back corner. You may notice I have seven tables this year.  It is to accommodate 23 students, the ELA teacher, and special education teachers and TA's.  Beginning the year at 23 is huge for my school.  We tend to get new students all year round.  Last year I ended with 23.

back to school; classroom reveal

Here is a side view of my room.  You can see part of our classroom library.  Behind it is the math corner.

back to school

This is our writing center.  The shelves are filled with all sorts of papers and books to allow for student choice.  You may also notice I have fabric behind my writing board.  It is the only bulletin board with backing per the friendly fire marshal.

writing; back to school

This is where I do the majority of my teaching.  I love where I placed it this year because I have almost a complete view of the room.  You can get the alphabet above the board here and the bunting banner here.

back to school

I still have my tracking cabinet from when we were a year-round school and had to pack up our classroom when we tracked off.  I use it to store the plethora of TPT products I've made and purchased over the past years.  I also have some flexible seating options for my students that fit in that space.

flexible seating

This is a close up of my math area which is still a work in progress.  This stores math centers and math manipulatives as well as some of our playtime goodies.

This sign is on our door.  You may download it for free here.

Our first day was Thursday.  Here are the students in action.

Students get to know one another while interacting with puppets.  SO.MUCH.FUN.

Children got to know one another, learned to share and compromise with Mr. Potato Head.

Who doesn't love Legos?  We needed to communicate, share and work together to create our masterpieces.

We did some schoolwork, too.  Here my first graders are working on coming up with appropriate school goals for the year.  Perfect for our growth mindsets!  These will be made into a banner and displayed in our classroom for everyone to see. 

You may purchase the banners here.

I love our Instagram bulletin board.  I saw this on Pinterest and had to recreate.  I will change the hashtag every month and take new photographs to match the hashtag.  LOVE IT!

That's our classroom! Please let me know what you think!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Top 10 Math Tools for Your Primary Classroom

Getting ready for a new school year?  Well, I am here to help you decide what are some of your MUSTS for math. 

Must have math tools; primary math

There are so many resources for math that it is hard to decide what you really need.  Let me help you!

1.  Dice

Dice, Game, Luck, Gambling, Cubes, Red, Violet, Lilac

A classroom must is DICE.  We use them every day.  Most math games require dice.   If you have to have dice, why not get them in pretty colors?  The second link is for dice in dice which are fabulous fun and useful for larger numbers.

2.  Unifix Cubes

My classroom could not run without unifix cubes.  We use them for addition, subtraction, building sets, place value, measurement and data.  I have hundreds of them!  My firsties love to play with them during Friday Fun, too!

3.  Number lines

math; first grade

math; first grade

Number lines are vital for addition and subtraction.  We use these to learn to count up.  I photocopy number lines onto thick cardstock and laminate them.  This way students may draw hops up or back and wash to erase.  These number lines are available for free on my TPT store.  Get them here.

I also have a class set of these number lines from Really Good Stuff.  The students love to use these!  They make math fun.

4.  Polydrons

common core; geometry

We love polydrons! They make a great math station and children must problem solve to use them.  Polydrons are my top geometry tool because they work on spatial reasoning, fine motor skills, problem solving, composing and decomposing shapes all while learning geometry.

5.  Rekenreks

number sense; math; first grade; common core

Rekenreks are essential in my math classroom.  Rekenreks show groups of five and ten.  This is so important to build number sense and work in a base ten system.  They help students learn to subitize; which is one of the most important math skills.  I have a top selling pack on Teachers Pay Teachers as well. 

I made colorful rekenrek bracelets for the beginning of the year for ten facts.  I used pipe cleaners and pony beads.  I taped the end of the pipe cleaners to stop them from fraying.  We have used these for 3 years now and they still look like new.

I use rekenreks for phonemic awareness and phonics, too.  Students slide a bead for each sound they hear in a word. 

Here are a few other alternatives for rekenreks:

6.  Ten Frames

Ten frames are another necessity in your primary math classroom. We play ten frame (and twenty frame) flash for subitizing, add and subtract on the number mats, compose and decompose numbers, partition numbers  and draw them to solve problems. 
My Math Lessons and Games pack has printable ten frames if buying them is out of the question.  You could print out a blank ten frame and use unifix cubes or some sort of marker to build on them.

Here are some of the ten frames I own:

7.  Cards

There are so many uses for playing cards that I must have lots and lots in my class.  I use regular cards and Uno Cards.

facts of ten; number sense; common core

This is one of my students favorite games.  It's so good for them because it helps them get a solid understanding of all the ways to make ten.  Use two sets of Uno cards {1-9} and shuffle them.  Students lay out the cards like they would for concentration.  They turn over to get two cards that equal ten.  When all the cards are gone, whoever has the most cards, wins.

8.  Number grids

We use these to count up and count back.  We look for patterns.  We count by tens.  Number grids are the best!  I have these free in my Caddy Pack resource.  Print them out on cardstock and laminate so students can write on them.

9.  Pattern blocks

Patterning is an important primary skill! Students not only learn how to continue patterns with pattern blocks, they can make patterns, compose figures made of pattern blocks and learn shape attributes.

10.  Geoboards

Geoboards are an excellent tool for geometry.  Children learn attributes of shapes.  They can make circles.  Students can even show equal parts and fractions of shapes on geoboards.

What do you think are must have tools for math?  I'd love to know.  Please reply with your favorites!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Chapter Books for 1st Grade

I always schedule reading right after lunch.  I love this time of the day.  The students settle in from recess and lunch and just enjoy a book.  What a great way to set the tone for the afternoon.

I read all kinds of books during read aloud.

I read favorites, like Mo Willems or Pete the Cat. 

I read books I used for teaching but now want the kids to enjoy, like Surprising Sharks by Nicola Davies, The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli, or This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen.

I read books that make us think like Oliver Button is a Sissy by Tomie de Paola orThose Shoes by Maribeth Boelts. 

I reread old favorites like Mrs. Wishy-Washy by Joy Cowley or In a Dark, Dark Wood.

I love this time because I get to do one of my favorite things -READ  and I get to share my love of reading.  There are no activities to do afterwards, just talk and share what we thought about the book, the characters, the plot, etc.

During this time, I frequently read chapter books.  I am quite picky about the chapter books I read and want to share a wide variety of books. 

Here are some of my tried and true favorites.

Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride by Kate diCamillo

My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett {I read the entire trilogy to my firsties}

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

Lulu and the Brontosaurus by Judith Viorst

Charlotte's Web by E.B. White

The Chicken Squad by Doreen Cronin

Leroy Ninker Saddles Up by Kate diCamillo

Ivy and Bean by Annie Barrows

Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel

Stink: The Incredible Shrinking Kid by Megan McDonald

Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary

Junie B, First Grader, Cheater Pants by Barbara Park

The 100 Dresses by Eleanor Estes

Clementine by Sara Pennypacker

Check out some of these books this summer.  You may find a new favorite for your class! 

If you know of any other great first grade books for read aloud, please share in the comments!!
Thank you

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Writing Mid-Year and a Freebie

Writing in first grade is ever changing.  When students first enter our classrooms, the range of abilities is diverse.  We have students who cannot write their names, those who don't know all their letter sounds, to those who are really writing. 
Common Core standards are written for the end of the year so it is hard to tell if students are progressing and will meet those standards.  Over the past couple of years I have been documenting student growth so I may successfully predict whether a child will meet or exceed end of year expectations.
My colleagues and I spiral writing instruction so students will remember the three major types of writing.  We enjoy teaching how-to writing mid-year in our second round of informative writing.  Students know how to write so we can focus on introduction and closing sentences as well as transition words.
I had been using various TPT products to teach how-to writing but they did not include room for topic sentences (which in first grade is just introducing the topic) nor did they include room for a closing.  First graders need to provide some sense of closure by the end of the year.
This year we focused on engaging, hands-on activities to teach writing.
First, I modeled how to make something.  Then, I broke down each part of the writing step by step.  For the introduction, I showed students what we were making and what is needed to make it.  Students told the introduction to their elbow partner and then switched.  They show me they are done like this:

oral rehearsal

Next, I model step by step.  After each step, students orally rehearse what they will write with their elbow partners.

elbow partners; informational writing

Of course, they get to have whatever it is we made!

hands on learning
Here is my good friend, Debbie.  I had her wonderful daughter, Cayla,  in my class a long time ago.  Cayla is now in 10th grade.

Oral rehearsal is imperative in writing.  If students can say it, they can write it.  This, paired with visuals, and, in some cases, actually completing the task, ensures that all students will be successful.

When we made s'mores, I gave students all the ingredients.  They wrote their introduction.  Then, we put the chocolate on top of the graham cracker and wrote the first step.  We continued to make the s'more while writing until we were done.  Students were extremely successful with this writing.

how to blow a bubble

One of my favorite how-to's is how to blow a bubble.  The students are always SHOCKED that I actually let them chew gum in school.  It is so fun watching the firsties try to blow a bubble.  I can really see who is determined and persistent and who gives up. It's a great lesson on practice makes perfect!

bulletin board; writing
This is the bulletin board we make for How to Blow a Bubble.  I give students skin colored paper and they make their face.  We tape a blown up balloon to their mouths as if they are blowing a bubble.

how to build a snowman
How to Build a Snowman
Students actually make a paper snowman

Once students know what to do, it is time for them to be independent.  Here is a great writing activity for How to Build a Snowman.  I give students all of the paper materials they need and they write a how-to.

how to build a snowman

how to build a snowman

how to build a snowman

how to build a snowman

how to build a snowman

How to Build a Snowman is a great culminating activity that is perfect for assessing your writers.

Looks fun, right?  Why don't you test it out for yourself?  All of these items are free in my TPT store!

Get it here: