Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Edible Christmas Trees

Today we made edible Christmas trees with out kindergarten reading buddies.  I have done this project multiple times and the kids always seem to love it:)  The photo of mine is not perfect, but you get the idea.  We used sugar cones, and then the kids spread vanilla frosting on them.  Most years we dye it green, but this year we said that it was snow on the tree.  I also learned this year that having the plates pre-sprinkled (the kids were at specials), makes life much easier.  Some of them used their hands, while others just rolled the cone and frosting around in the sprinkles.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Math ActivitiesI

I created a few Christmas activities for students to practice math.  They are both available in my TPT store for FREE.  You can view the "Santa Bump Game" here .   The "Santa Number Activity Packet" contains a variety of activities ranging in grades K-2.  You can view that here.  Please leave a comment here so I have an idea as to how many people are using them...just curious:)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Calendar Time

I love calendar time in my classroom!  I created a supplement for it here.  It is available for free!  This includes two skills for your calendar board for your K-2 classroom. It includes pictures of 15 2D and 3D shapes. Flip over a new shape each day (rotating the pictures so that the shapes are shown from a variety of angles) for students to practice identifying and naming shapes, no matter how they are turned. It also includes a pattern of the month for each month of the year. You can use stickers or stamps, adding a sticker/stamp each day to follow the pattern. Example: October Pattern ABB=red leaf, yellow leaf, yellow leaf.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Favorite Read Alouds Linky Party

I am joining the "favorite read alouds" linky party!  One of my favorite times of day is reading aloud to my class right after lunch!  This is the perfect time for me as many of them have to go to the bathroom, so they are not missing directions for what comes next.  I read aloud at other times of day too, but generally read only chapter books right after lunch.  I try to stay away from the "new age" books such as Junie B. (not to say that I have never read one to my class), and read more of the older books that they probably do not hear of or see at home.  I am providing links to amazon wherever possible so you can read more about the books:)

My favorite chapter books/series are listed here:

1.  Mrs. Piggle Wiggle series: This is a short series of several books that was originally written about 60 years.  It works well in both 1st and 2nd grade but I really feel that it would be great in any K-3 classroom.  Mrs. Piggle Wiggle has "cures" for things such as tattling, not wanting to go to bed, etc.  It is a class favorite every year!

2.  Ramona books: These are excellent for teaching about realistic fiction!  Beverly Cleary wrote these books long ago, but they are still great in my opinion!

3.  Mr. Popper's Penguins: is an oldie but a goodie:)  Students love to hear about the adventures that the penguins have and all of their silly antics.

4.  Gooney Bird Greene: This is great for the beginning of the year and launching writing workshop.  Gooney is a pro at telling interesting stories!

5.  American Girl Series: I explain to students before I start reading this series that it is for everyone, and not just girls.  I feel that it is perfect to help integrate social studies as students can learn about family life, and life in general and how it has changed over the year.

6.  The Secrets of Ms. Snickle's Class: This is a fun book to read and was written by a classroom teacher.

7.  Mary Poppins: I am an anglophile and love to bring in anything British whenever I have the chance!  We watch the movie when we are done reading it and notice all of the similarities and differences.

8.  Sideways Stories from Wayside School series: This is the PERFECT book to end the year in my opinion as each chapter is (for the most part) its own story.  The story is hilarious!

Monday, October 3, 2011

My First Game Creation:)

I just created and listed my first "real game" with graphics for TPT and am very excited!  It is a beach themed game to practice addition and subtraction facts.  You can view it here.

Now that I know that it is pretty easy to do, I plan on making more.  If you are interested at all in making games, etc., I highly recommend Scrappin Doodles as if you are selling them for money, you do not have to pay an extra fee.  Plus there are some excellent graphics there in my opinion!  I promise...I do not work for them, I just found them and am very happy with them!

Monday, September 26, 2011

First Few Weeks of School

I have not been very good about blogging in the past few weeks, but am hoping to be better now that things are settling down a bit.  The school year has been one of my busiest and most challenging starts in my 10 years of teaching.

One activity that I did the first week that I really liked (and so did the kids) was to read "David Goes to School" from the "No, David" series.  After discussing school rules, each child made their own "David" out of construction paper, and wrote a rule that David needed to follow while at school.  This idea is not my own, as I found it on a blog several weeks back but misplaced where, so if you know please let me know and I will cite it here.  I hope to get up pictures soon:)

Guided math has gotten off to a great start!  Please see that section on my site for more information about it.  I am excited as several teachers in my district are teaching a class on math centers, and I am getting some new information there to use.

I am also excited as we are finishing up our pen pal letters to another school in our state.  It will be interesting as we live in a very much urban/suburban area, and our pen pals live in an extremely rural area.  I actually go by their school quite regularly as our family cottage is nearby.  I hope that it will be an educational and very fun experience for all.  I already have kids asking if they can play with their pen pal.  I explained that at 4 hours away it would be difficult...

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Classroom Organization and Design

I took the opportunity from all of the construction and moving, to redesign my classroom for the first time in about 4 years.  Here are some pictures and explanations:)

When I am prepping all of my school supplies for the school year, I like to make a couple of extra bags for new students.  I usually only get a day's notice for getting a new all I have to do is grab a bag with all of the folders, notebooks, crayons, etc. that they will need, and they are ready to start in my classroom.  I find that I save a lot of time by doing this!

These are my student mailboxes.  Unfortunately, they were broken in the move.  I have exactly enough for the 22 students that I will have this year (smaller number vs. my normal 29-32 due to the split), but I am hoping to
get some sort of new ones sometime soon.  Each child is assigned a mailbox # that they write on all things (or are supposed to at least;), it makes it much easier for me to file papers.  The red basket is for my Scholastic Book Order things.  The green basket holds breakfast and lunch sheets, as well as envelopes for loose lunch money.  My school participates in the "Boxtops" program so that is what is in the yellow bucket.

This is my group/morning meeting/calendar area.  I am allergic to chalk, so I covered the chalkboard with this paper, and use sticky tack and magnets for my calendar things.  On the right, I have today's schedule.  I made these cute sand ones to use, but unfortunately the color printer is not up and running yet:(  I have non-fiction book bins on the shelves below.  
This is a closer view.
I got my literacy genre posters from Beth Newingham who actually teaches in a town not too far away from me:)  You can download them here.  The book hospital basket is quite full on top (I think it was probably my fault as with the end of the year move, I must admit that I tossed a few books in there that were from bins already packed up.  We have leveled books for fiction and non-fiction books.  If I have a lot of books by one author, I have an author study shelf/bin which these are.  The non-fiction books are grouped by topic (regardless of level) but students look for a book on the topic that they are interested in, but that is at their level.
This is the rest of my classroom library.  You can also see my "Sea Star of the Week" board.  Each child gets the chance to make one to hang there for the week so that everyone else will learn more about him/her.  The display bookshelf in the front contains my monthly books.  These books are seasonal and change each month.  You can't really see it, but I have a small drawer set of things for indoor recess behind that shelf along with blocks.
We are required to do "Daily 5" at my school so here is my CAFE board.  The pictures are a cut up shower curtain.  You can also see my tiny desk.  I basically use it to just keep my lesson plan and record book in/on.  I have not had a "teacher desk" since part way through my first year of teaching and I LOVE IT!  :)
This is a closer look behind my kidney (small group) table.  The white bins on the left are for me to keep desk supplies organized (ex. pencils, stickers, stamps).  The white crate holds my copies (I try to copy morning math, handwriting, etc. a few weeks at a time so on Fridays, I just have to grab what I need for the following week.  The blue crate holds one folder for each day of the week.  whenever I am planning something, I just stick whatever book, worksheet etc. in the folder of the correct day.  The clear drawers are for my guided reading groups' books.  The shelf contains emergency sub materials as well as teacher's guides that I use on a regular basis.
This wall contains several things: math manipulatives and math chart, writing progress chart, word wall, writing center, and word center materials for writing and for "Daily 5." 
This is my "art center."  The pails are passed out to each table when we are doing cutting and gluing as it helps to make clean-up a snap:)   I also have a teacher only pencil sharpener, as well as hand sanitizer, and a little crab that holds band-aids.  I will also be putting student work on there once school starts as I can tape to it and not have to worry about it.
I have an ugly brown cupboard that has velcro and other things stuck to it, so I covered it with a shower curtain and now use it to showcase "Sea our great work!" 
This is another view of my small group table.
These are my guided math drawers.  Each group has its own drawer to hold math journals and folders.  I have 2 drawers to hold teacher guides and anything else that I might need for the day.  The blue basket on top contains slates used for small group time, while the pencil containers hold various math manipulatives that I use on a regular basis.
This is my job chart.  I am still waiting for an updated class list.  Each child will have their own sea creature with their name on it. Every Friday (unless it is a short week), I shift the names down.  The two people jobs students keep for two weeks.
I hope that you enjoyed the tour of my classroom!  :)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Back to School:)

My school has been under renovations all summer.  I was able to get back into my classroom last week, and with EVERYTHING boxed up, I saw this as the perfect time to rearrange my room as I have not done that in several years!  I highly recommend Debbie Dillers' "Spaces and Place: Designing Classrooms for Literacy" as it is very helpful in the design process in my opinion!
I didn't get rid of too many pieces of furniture, but just rearranging it I feel will make all of the difference in the world!  Of course, I also have to thank my building computer tech who did such a nice job of moving the 4 classroom computers that I have to a much better location along the back wall of my classroom!

As of today, most of boxes are un-packed and my bulletin boards are up (pictures to come soon) so I am ready to start planning for the year!  For any new teachers out there, make a curriculum makes your life throughout the year so much easier!  I have mine good to go, now I just need to find out specials times, etc. to really start planning the first week (next week) of school:)

Tomorrow is my first official day back for professional development, and then I will have some more time in my classroom as well:)  I am looking forward to a fantastic year with my new 1st and 2nd graders!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Calendar Time

I made a small packet for "Teachers Pay Teachers" (TpT) on how I do calendar time in my classroom.  It is currently available for free here.  I cover a variety of skills during calendar time.  This packet includes various skills appropriate for both 1st and 2nd graders.  I hope that it helps someone!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Bump Games

I am busy working on making "Bump Games" for my 1st and 2nd grade class this year!  You can download a copy of my "2D Shapes Bump Game" for free at the link included here.  I have also made a set for 3D shapes, an addition packet for fact fluency, and one on reading genres.  "Bump" is a great game (for anyone unfamiliar with it), which can be developed for any grade level, and for most topics.  I think that it fits with math and language arts the easiest though.  I hope that it helps someone!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Teachers Pay Teachers

I recently learned about the site "Teachers Pay Teachers" (  If you are interested in finding things for your classroom that other teachers have made, this site is great!  They have lesson plans, classroom organization ideas, theme materials, math centers, you name it!  While some of the items do cost a minimal amount of money, many others are completely free!  I just started selling stuff on it.  Although I am not planning on making a lot of money with it, a few extra dollars never hurts...especially in this profession!  :)  You can view my items at: . You can also sell your own items for free (they take a small commission).

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Math Workstations Blog Party Chapter 8

You can follow this week's blog party of math workstations here this week!

How do you support math vocabulary (math talk) at Measurement stations?
I believe that making anchor charts (see p. 185) of Debbie Diller's Math Workstations is very important in aiding in student discussion at measurement stations.

What is your student’s favorite measurement work station/activity?
There are a lot of favorites in my room I think.
  • Weight:
    • Comparing and contrasting weights of objects (see above)
  • Length:
    • Going on a length scavenger hunt (find objects that are ___ inches, feet, yards long, and ___ centimeters, decimeters, and meters long)
    • Putting objects in order (see p. 189)
    • Measuring the hallway at school with yard sticks
    • Making body measurement posters using large paper.  Students have to measure arms, legs, etc. to make a life-size poster of their bodies.
  • Capacity:
    • Look to see which object holds more (see p. 192)
  • Time: 
    • Telling time bingo 
    • Time matching

    • Telling time "I Have...Who Has?"  You can see an idea here for free thanks to Rachel!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Math Workstations Blog Party Chapter 7

You can follow this week's blog party of math workstations here this week!

How do you support math vocabulary (math talk) at Geometry stations?
I encourage the students to use math vocabulary as they talk with their math group.  I teach them to compare and contrast the shapes as they work.  Also how to look for combining and dividing shapes to make other shapes as they work.

What student activities help support your student’s understanding of how to draw, build, make, put together, and take apart 2-D and 3-D shapes?
See below

What is your student’s favorite geometry work station/activity?
  • Dividing the students into pairs, one child places an attribute block into the hands of another child who has their hands behind their back.  The students try to figure out which shape their partner placed into their hands behind their back.
  • 2D and 3D Shape bump games are favorites in my room (see here for 2D shapes and here for 3D shapes)!
  • "I have...Who has?" with shapes (sample game here)
  • Shape Puzzles from Lakeshore but you could make your own

  • Using shapes to make pictures like this activity from Lakeshore .  This site offers a lot of them for free:)
  • Using straw and twist ties to make various 2D and 3D shapes.  This is part of the 2nd grade Everyday Math program but I think that it is equally beneficial for 1st graders and Ks as well.
  • Making shapes on geoboards
  • Go on a shape scavenger hunt around the school.  You can do this if you have cameras for the kids to use, or they can just draw/label the shapes and where they found them.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Math Workstations Blog Party Chapter 6

Thank you to:  Oceans of First Grade Fun for hosting the blog party this week!

How do you support math vocabulary (math talk) at Place Value stations?
I model and encourage students to use place value vocabulary as they play games, and do place value activities.  I like the idea of using card prompts to help them.

What student activities help support your student’s understanding of place value?

I think that what is most important is the use of manipulatives to model place value.

What is your student’s favorite place value work station/activity?
Depending on the child, there are a lot of favorites in my classroom.  Many of the ones listed below can be bought at Lakeshore Learning .  Many of them could be re-created on your own if you rather not spend the money on buying them.  
  • I have...Who has

  • "Race to 100" (like Debbie mentions in the book on p. 142) and "Race to 0" (the opposite).  You can see a chart at this site.
  • "The Digit Game" which is from the "Everyday Math" program.  This can be differentiated by students choosing 2-? cards and then seeing the largest number that they can make with their cards.  It is similar to "War" in that the student that is able to make the larger number keeps all of the cards for that round.
  • I have fish cards with numbers that I bought several years ago.   I use these cards in several ways.
    • Students play "Top-It" with them as the largest fish is 99.
    • Students choose 3-5 cards (depending on their level) and then place them in order from either smallest to largest, or largest to smallest.
    • I also use them when we work on addition and subtraction. The choose 2 cards and either add them together or subtract the smallest from the largest number.
  • Place Value Puzzles 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Math Workstations Blog Party Chapter 5

Fact fluency is a school improvement goal for my school right now, so I am really trying to improve this area of my teaching.

How do you support math vocabulary (math talk) at Addition and Subtraction Work stations?
I encourage students to talk with one another while they work at this center, using addition and subtraction vocabulary.
How do you build addition and subtraction fluency?
I think what is most important is to be practicing these skills on a daily basis!  My students go to: the Xtramath everyday in order to practice their fact fluency.  The site is completely free, and pre-tests students when they start the program.  After it knows what they know, it adds a few problems at a time for mastery.  It takes about 10 minutes a day per child for each session (but they could go on for multiple sessions if they wanted at home).  I train the kids to "tag" someone who is a) not done (it places check marks next to kids who are so they know), and b) who is not working with an adult.  It takes about an hour to get through all 27 kids that I had this past year.  We use the "Everyday Math" program at our school, which includes some games on these skills.  Once they master addition, it goes onto subtraction and so on.  I have a variety of games, for kids to practice their math skills as well.

Some of my favorites:
Math Facts Champs - Addition/Subtraction Games
 Simple Addition Partner Game
Wrap-Around Math Games - Gr. 1-2 (Also known as "I have...Who has?)
Other favorites include:
  • "Domino Parking Lot": Students close their eyes and choose a domino and add them up, if that parking spot is empty, they can place the domino there.  If it already has a domino there, they miss that turn and it is their partner's turn.
  • "Domino Top-It": Partners each choose a domino, the one with the larger total keeps both dominoes (just like "War").
  • Flashcards

What type of story problems have you been working on?
To be honest, I really need to improve in this area.  I do like the idea of using sentence frames that she shows on page 107 in the book.  I also like the idea of a class story problem book that she mentions on page 108. 

What is your student’s favorite addition and subtraction work station/activity?
I think that this is a hard question to answer...depends on the student that you ask.  I think that all of the games that I listed above have a few "fans" that really enjoy playing the games.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Summer Learning

I made this aiming it at parents

Summer vacation is here for many of you, while some others have a few more days to go until their vacation starts.  Please be sure though it is not a vacation from learning!   I hope that this article will assist you in helping your child continuing to learn over the summer, while having fun!  Since my 10 years of experience in education has mainly been in the primary grades (K-3), that will be my focus for this article.  Here are some ways that you can keep your child engaged at while at home this summer:

  • Please make sure that your child reads for at least 20-30 minutes daily (can be broken down into smaller amounts).  It is also important that you include time to: read to your child, read with your child, and have your child read to you.  They can also read to pets or stuffed animals too!  In addition, they can spend some time listening to reading (internet sites or audio books) which helps them to become better readers as well.  I will blog at another time with some great websites for this.
  • Check out your local library!  Although rereading books is very important for students developing fluency, being engaged in reading is very important as well.  Before you go, have your child make a list: topics that they want to learn about, favorite authors, and any books that have been on their wishlist.

  • Some children naturally love writing, and others...not so much.  You can help engage them however!  Sometimes buying a special journal will help make them want to spend time writing in it.
  • Stationary can be an excellent way for children to see a purpose, and to practice writing to family and friends who live anywhere. They can practice their writing skills electronically too by e-mailing.
  • Stickers and stamps can also be great incentives. Many teachers (including myself) use them in the classroom.  You can have your child choose a few to make a picture about, and then have them write about their picture.
  • Going grovery shopping?  Have your child help to make the grocery list, and then mark items off after you find them in the store.
Word Study
  • Most districts in this area have similar expectations when it comes to being able to spell words.  Most districts expect that students leaving kindergarten know the first 25-30 words on the "Fry List," first 100 by the end of 1st grade, first 200 by the end of 2nd grade, and the first 300 by the end of 3rd grade.  I will include more ways to practice at home on a later blog.
  • There are a lot of fun ways that children can practice these words at home!  Talking paintbrushes and "painting" water words onto the sidewalk is one way.  They can also take sidewalk chalk and write them out as well.
  • If your child likes technology, Spelling City is a great website where their are pre-programmed list, or you can customize a list with the words that your child needs to practice.
  • This site also offers a variety of ideas to practice those words at home over the summer. 
  • Xtramath is a fantastic website which pre-tests your child on their +,-,x, and / skills (it starts with addition and then goes from their as needed).  This site keeps track of which facts your child knows, and then in small amounts, teaches them new facts until they master them.  One session take about 10 minutes a day, but you can do it more often than that.  I know that it really helped my 1st graders this year to develop their fact fluency!
  • Review shapes and go on a shape hunt around your community with a camera.  You can then make the pictures into a "all about shapes" book  integrating literacy.
  • Practice can print off/copy multiple sheets and have your child set a goal for how high they will be able to count by the end of summer.  It is important that they can do it both orally, and in writing.
  • This is a great time to try out some science experiments while at home!  This site has some great ideas!
Social Studies
  • Explore your community!
  • Discuss the different goods and services that are provided around the community.
  • If you travel at all, compare and contrast your community with the community that you visit.  Some children enjoy making scrapbooks about their travels as well which integrates writing.
Additional Summer Learning Resources

Monday, June 13, 2011

School Summer To Do List

  1. Make a dent in my pile of books and professional magazines:)
  2. Refine my curriculum map for both 1st and 2nd grade (as I will be teaching a split next year)
  3. Revise my science and social studies units
  4. Work on improving how I do guided math (the blog party is helping me a lot with that!)
  5. Get ready for teaching summer school
And some people say that teachers only work 9 months out of the year;)

Math Workstations Blog Party Chapter 4

How do you support math vocabulary (math talk) at Beginning Number Concepts stations?
I have to admit that this is a weakness of mine.  This coming year, I definitely want to work on making the "I can" posters, and hopefully including some math "talking points" for each poster.  In addition, I also want to make anchor charts more often than I have in the past.  I also want to start to make math big books with the class.  My district uses the "Everyday Math" program (which spirals), so I think that I will focus on the "common core" skills and base them around that. 

How do your students read, write, order, represent, or compare numbers? What activities support that?

The "Everyday Math" program comes with several games that focus on this skill.  The one that we use the most is "Top-it" which is just like the card game "War."  I definitely want to look for more activities to help with this skill.  Another game that we use in 1st and 2nd grade is the "Digit Game."  For beginners, students each take 2 cards from the top of the pile, and make the largest number with those 2 digits.  Example: player one draws a 6 & a 3 and makes 63, while player two draws a 2 & a 7 and makes 72.  Player 2 wins because 72 is larger than 63.  You can differentiate this by having students select more than 2 cards to practice place value.

What is your student’s favorite number concepts work station/activity?
I would have to say that "Top-it" is a popular game in my classroom.  It can be differentiated in that you can do: regular top-it (comparing 2 cards), addition top-it, subtraction top-it, and multiplication top-it.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Warm and Fuzzy Way to End the School Year

Yesterday was the last day of school for my 1st grade class.  Although I will miss them, I am very excited about the start of summer vacation!  I will be teaching summer school for part of the summer, as well as tutoring a few students as well.

To end the school year, the class got into a circle (as best as we could in a packed up classroom due to moving and construction).  I had a basket of little fuzzy craft balls (you can get them at a craft store or Walmart).  I started off by saying something I liked (personality/character trait wise) about a student that is switching schools next year and gave her a "warm and fuzzy" ball.  She then chose a ball and told another child why she chose them.  We did this until everyone had a "warm and fuzzy" ball.  I think that this was an excellent way to end the school year!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Math Workstations Blog Party Chapter 3

These are my responses to the "blog party" for Debbie Diller's Book "Math Work Stations" located at:

What should your math work stations, look like, sound like and feel like?
I normally have 29-32 students in my class.  The past 2 years I have divided my class into 4 groups.  When I taught a 1st/2nd grade split last year, I had 4 groups (2 1st and 2 2nd).  This past year I taught 1st grade where I had a high, medium high, medium low, and low groups.  These were flexible, as I would regroup them at the end of each unit.  I would do calendar during morning meeting whole group, and any read alouds whole group.  I would also give directions whole group.  Depending on the game/activity, I might teach it whole group, or in small guided math groups. 

At the beginning of the year, I did allow some exploration time for students to explore the materials in the math center.  I find that it cuts down on the off-task behavior in the future.  I think that making anchor charts for math work stations are very important. I also have students model appropriate and inappropriate behavior for the class.

Math time looks like: me teaching a group of children, other children working around the room on various math related activities.  I  am working on teaching math with the "to, with, and by" method.  Students are helping one another, and conversing with one another about math.  It sounds like whispering (although I will be the first to admit that we would have issues with this on some days).  It feels like students are engaged in what they are doing (for the most part).

What does your management board look like?
As of right now, I do not have a management board because of the way that I have done it the past 2 years.  Students have a home math location where they start every day, and then circle around the room.  With 29-32 students, and a room that is not huge, I am trying to figure out how I could have pairs around the room.

How do you support math vocabulary (math talk cards) in your stations?
I have to say that this is an area that I really need to work on in my classroom.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Math Workstations Blog Party Chapters 1-2

These are my responses to the "blog party" for Debbie Diller's Book Math Work Stations" located at: .

1. Materials used by the teacher first, then placed in the station: YES
2. Materials do not change weekly, but rather change to reflect the students learning objectives: I USUALLY CHANGE THEM BY SKILLS THAT WE ARE FOCUSING ON.  AS EVERYDAY MATH SPIRALS, I MAY HAVE SEVERAL SKILLS OUT AT A TIME
3. All students go to stations daily: YES, UNLESS WE HAVE A SHORTENED DAY FOR SOME REASON
4. Materials are differentiated: SOMETIME YES AND SOMETIMES NO.  I NEED TO WORK ON THIS...
5. The teacher observes work or meets with differentiated math groups: YES (DAILY)

1.  How do you (or will you) differentiate your math stations? 
I have to admit that this is an area that I need and want to work on improving.  Currently, my school district uses the "Everyday Math" program.  I bought the differentiation guides available for the grades that I teach (1st and 2nd).  I do get quite a few ideas from that as to how to differentiate the math program's games.  As for other games, I may vary the rules a bit depending on the level of the group.
2.  How and where do you keep your math stations?
I have a cabinet where I store my math materials.   I also have 2 sets of plastic drawers (6 drawers in total) where each group stores their math journals and folders.  I also use a drawer for my teaching materials, and another for some of the games that I am using.  Some of the materials are stored in the math center in bins (ex. dominoes, dice, rulers).  Depending on the activity, student know where these materials are located and use them and return them as needed.
3.  How do you keep your math materials organized?
I have a cabinet which is organized by math strands (ex. money, time, measurement, fractions).  Some of the larger games/activities are stored on the top shelf as they do not fit into the boxes.   
Some of the materials are stored in the math center in bins (ex. dominoes, dice, rulers).  Depending on the activity, student know where these materials are located and use them and return them as needed.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

End of the Year Ideas

As the end of the year approaches, I am working on planning for the next few weeks. Due to construction, I am challenged in that my entire room needs to be packed up (including my closet) by when the students leave on the last day of school in a few weeks.  In order to do this, I am planning several end of year activities that require minimum materials.
  • Bring your favorite board/card game from home day
  • Read outside (can be used over multiple days, and students can even bring a beach towel)
  • Readers' Theater
  • "All About 1st Grade" Memory/Autograph books
  • "Student Resumes" to introduce themselves to their new teacher next year
  • Allowing students 10-15 minutes to teach the class about something that they are experts at

Friday, May 13, 2011

Beach Themed Classroom Bulletin Board Ideas Photos

Cafe Board for Daily 5
I used a cut up shower curtain on the sides

 Calendar & "Sea Star of the Week" board

 Closer view

 Classroom Job Board

 "Sea Our Great Work" Board
I used a Hawaii shower curtain.  It is very difficult to get things to stick to the walls in my classroom, so this is an easy board to keep student work on as I can tape things to it:)

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Websites for Teachers Having a Beach Themed Classroom


Literacy & Writing:



Webquests and On-line Activities:


Games & Other Fun Things:

Beach Themed Classroom Bulletin Board Ideas

General Bulletin Boards
Hooked on _____
_______ is Oceans of Fun!
Set Sail for ______
Glad to "Sea" You! (door decoration)
Swim Into ____
Meet an Ocean of Friends
Ride the ____ Wave
We're Making a SPLASH with Great Work! (do splash in wavy letters)
Splashing Good Work
Sand-Tastic Work (use Elmer's glue and sandbox sand to cover letter with sand)
Surfing our Way to Successful Learning (make a large surfboard shape and put the saying on the surfboard)
Treasures from the Sea
Dive Right in with Great Work
Dive in and explore _____!
Splash into 2nd Grade
Dive into _____
Swimming to Success
Welcome to Ms. ______ Ocean Reef! Where learning is oceans of fun! _____ Beach
Hang Ten with ____ grade!(Display with large wave and students names on cutouts.)
The Sun is shining on ____________ (Spotlight on student of the week or student's work samples. Hang sun on display.)
Swimming for Knowledge (Using body's of scuba divers with the children's faces)

General Management
______'s Reef is Oceans of Fun
Swimming to good behavior
Treasure Good Behavior
Catch of the Day (attendance)
Bait Shop (lunch choices/lunch count)
Caught Being Good (behavior)
Behavior Bay
A Sea of Helpers (job chart)
Gone Surfin (Paint this on a small surf board to hang on the door when not in the room.)
Surf Days (display student birthdays on surf boards or use as calendar area title)
Sands of Times/Tide of Times (calendar area or newsletter title)
Tiki Times, Starfish Gazette, The Reef Report (newsletter titles)
Digging for Golden Behavior (Display with sand pail, shovel, and gold coins. Then have class work together to add more gold coins to the display to earn class privileges.)
Star Student (Student of the week. Decorate with star fish.)

Sink your teeth into a good book (with a shark)
Oceans of Sounds for a digraph/blends wall
A School of "Fin"tastic Readers
Fishing for Sight Words
Hooked on books
Get hooked on reading! (Display feature book titles on the ends of fishing hooks made from poster board)

Waves of Words (word wall)
A School of "Fin"tastic Writers
A Whale of a Word (word wall)

The Tide/Sands of Times (calendar)
A School of "Fin"tastic Mathematicians

Other Center Names
Splash Zone/The Beach (carpet meeting area)
Art Atoll
Word Wharf
Math Mangrove
Poetry Pool
Grammar Island
Buddy Beach
Listening Lagoon
Computer Coast/Cove
Internet Island (Hang a net, small surfboard, and a sign that reads "Surf the Net!" or Place a small fish or other aquatic animal in the net above the computer area with a sign that reads "Get caught in the Net!")
Reader's/Reading Reef
Paradise Island/Cove (reading corner with palm tree scene setter)
Reading Reef (reading corner with beach or ocean scene setter)
Reading Hut or Reading Cabana (reading area at small table with beach umbrella & beach chairs)
Writer's Wharf/Reef
Ocean Isle (science and social studies)

Personalized Spelling

Every child has their own 8 personal words that they are to practice during the week (both at school and at home). I pre-tested the children on the words that they should have learned while they were in kindergarten. Any word that they knew, I highlighted on my master list for each child. Any words not highlighted will be future “personal spelling words.” By the end of 1st grade, children should be able to read and write the 1st 100 hundred words on the “Fry Word List” (see below).

Students will receive their personal spelling word list each Monday (if we are only in school 3 or less days that week, I do not send out a list, but please review previous words). On Monday, they are responsible for making “rainbow words” with their personal words. “Rainbow words” is writing in pencil each word, and then trace them using at least 5 colored pencils. I ask that students trace the entire set of words one color at a time (tracing them 5 times in total). They will then bring their words home to practice nightly. Students practice their words every day while in school using materials such as: playdough/clay, stencils, letter tiles, magna-doodles, magnets, and

I assess the students using multiple methods throughout the week. When a student demonstrates multiple times that they can spell one of their personal spelling words, I highlight it on my master list for him/her, and then they get a new word for the following week. Example: John demonstrates that he knows 6 of the words, but is having trouble with 2 of his words. John will keep the two that he is having trouble with the following week, but will also get 6 new words to practice.

The following are some ideas as to how to practice their words at home:


· Paint with water- Dip a Q-tip in water and practice spelling the words on the chalkboard. The words will disappear like magic, leaving the chalkboard clean!

· Shaving Cream Practice-Let your child finger paint on the table tops. Have your child practice their spelling words in the shaving cream.

· Scratch n' Sniff- Use a new sensation to teach the alphabet or spelling words. Write letters with glue on paper, then sprinkle with Jell-O. Makes a super scratch n' Sniff when tracing over the letters.

· Finger paint Bags- Freezer strength zip lock bags and fingerprint make great writing slates. Place a dab of finger paint (Tempera paint can work, although, not as well) in the zip-lock bag, tape the bag closed for extra strength. Then lay the bag flat on the table, write the word on the bag. The word will disappear like magic.

· Disappearing Act- Help your child perform a real disappearing act. Children write their spelling words with chalk on black construction paper. Then you can spray and watch their words disappear and return.

· Spelling Magic- Try a little magic to teach spelling words! Have your child write words on white construction paper with white crayon. Then paint over the paper with watered down tempera paint. Words appear like magic!

· Individual Whiteboards- Have your child practice writing their spelling words on small whiteboards or chalkboards. They love it!

· Magnetic Words- The parent arranges assorted magnet letters on a cookie sheet or magnetic white board. Students use the letters to form the weekly spelling words.

· Computer Words/Typewriter Fun- Have your child type their spelling words ten times each on the computer. Use different colors and fonts and print it out!

· Paint Your Words- Have children use small paint brushes to paint their words.

· Salt Box Spelling-The parent pours salt in the lid of a box (approx. 1/4"). The child then practices the words in the salt.

· Alpha-bit Spelling- Children use cereal to reproduce their spelling words. Don't forget the have a snack with the words you make.

· Sandy Words- Have your child write their spelling words in glue, sprinkle sand over the glue. The child can then trace over the words with their fingers for practice. They make terrific flash cards! (Colored sand makes I even neater!)

· Rainbow Words- Have your child practice words with felt pens, alternate colors for a rainbow look.

· Put It In Print- Have children cut out the letters from a newspaper to spell the weekly spelling words.

· Use alphabet stamps and let them stamp out their words on paper.

· Write words as "stairsteps"









· It is fun to do on graph paper.

· Use Wikki Sticks to bend the sticks into the desired letters to form each spelling word. After forming the Wicki Sticks, do a crayon rubbing of each word on a piece of paper.

· Window spelling: Buy a couple packs of Crayola window markers ($3 each at Wal-mart) and the kids can write their words on the windows.

· Make a wordsearch or crossword puzzle at with the spelling words.

· Fun Pens: students copy the words in "fun pens". You can find them at the Dollar Store or Walgreens. They light up, or are wiggly, or gooey, etc.

· 30 Second Words: Students fold paper in quarters. Write the spelling word in one corner of the corner. The teacher gives the students 30 seconds to write the word as many times as they can.

· Give each letter of the alphabet a value. The students must find the value of each spelling word. For example: A=1, B=2, C=3.. and so on.

· Sorry! (a.k.a. Snap!) Write the spelling words on wooden sticks along with two saying SORRY! Put the sticks in a cup. Students team up and play. When they choose a stick, they must spell the word without looking to keep the stick. If they misspell the word they must put it back. If they get a SORRY! stick, they must put all their sticks back. The one with the most sticks at the end wins. You can keep adding new spelling words to old spelling words as a review through the year as well.

· Write spelling words in white crayon -or any light colored crayon, then paint over them with watercolor paint. The white crayon acts as a resist and the words "magically" appear.

· Comic Strip - create a comic strip using each of your spelling words

· Water Wash - (Warm day required!) Use a paintbrush and water to write your words on the sidewalk!

· ABC Order - Write your words in alphabetical order. Then write them in reverse alphabetical order.

· Riddle Me - Write a riddle for each word.

· Story, Story - Write a story using ALL of your spelling words.

· Sentence Please - Write a sentence for each spelling word.

· Wordsearch - Make a wordsearch puzzle

· Memory Game - Make pairs of word cards. Flip them over and try to match the pairs!

· Scrabble - Use Scrabble tiles to spell your words.

· Sing Them Loud, Sing Them Soft - Have your Mom or Dad sing the letters of a spelling word to you in a loud voice. You echo the spelling and then sing it again softly. Now BOTH of you sing the word in the voice you choose!

· Swat Words - Write out your spelling words in big letters on a big sheet of paper. Give your parents clues like we do during Morning Meeting. ("The first letter is _ and the last letter is _.") See if they can "swat it" with a fly swatter!
1st Grade=Words 1-100

2nd Grade=Words 101-200