Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

I had a wonderful Halloween with my class! I must admit that I was a little nervous because I have not had so many parent volunteers in a long time (we were limited to 5 parents at my old school). I had about 10 and the party went really well!

We started off the morning by the kids coming in and decorating their Halloween paper bags to hold their treats.  I pulled students a few at a time to make their "friendship potion" from all of the goodies that were sent in.  They enjoyed making their choices for their afternoon snack.
Our school decided to have our parade fairly early in the day, so after calendar there was not much time for anything else.  I have to say, it was very nice this year having the kids come in already dressed up!  As it was a very rainy and windy day in Michigan today, we paraded around the school hallways and then into the gym/cafeteria so that the parents gathered in there could see us as well.

When we got back, it was time for the party!  Our first game was called "trick or treat."  Normally I am not a huge candy promoter at my Halloween party type girl, but this game was too cute to pass up!  A friend of mine who also teaches first grade was doing it.  She could not remember where she got it.  I tried looking on TPT to purchase my own but was unable to find it.  If you do know, please let me know and I will do so!  :)
Each table had their own Halloween candy holder (thank you Christmas Tree Shops!).  I put in various types of Halloween candy, as well as a few other bracelets, rings, etc.  Each child also got a plate to hold their candy.  Everyone started with 5 pieces. Then they got a card telling them what to do (ex. take 2 pieces, give a piece to a friend, etc.).  They used the cards for about 10 minutes.  Anyone who did not have much/any candy in the end, I gave some.  The kids really enjoyed this game!

After that we played a Halloween version of 4 corners (witch, candy, ghost, and pumpkin).  The kids enjoyed this game as well.

I was going to play "Ghost" (like 7-Up) with these ghosts, but we ran out of time.  Students hand out a ghost instead of touching thumbs, and the students have to guess who gave them the ghost.  I learned early on in my teaching career plan extra!
Then we made an easy art project.  However, I seemed to have forgotten to take a picture.  Basically, it was black paper, and then the kids traced their hands and feet to make ghosts to glue onto the black paper.  They added "Boos" and other Halloween types things as well.

For food, we had cookies, doughnuts, and juice boxes.  This was perfect because lunch was right after the party.  Since it was inside recess, I let them start a few minutes early:)

After lunch, we came back we had read aloud.  We are reading Matilda right now and the kids love it!  I am a huge Anglophile so I usually read several British books a year including Paddington Bear, and Mary Poppins.

We made "haunted fact families."  I seem to have missed a picture of that too:(  Basically, they are houses with a fold-over roof where you make the fact family under the folded part of the roof.  They could then decorate them as they liked.

Then I think that the next thing was their favorite part of the day besides the party...a Halloween Scavenger Hunt.  The kids absolutely loved it!  I highly recommend this product!  My student teacher and I hid 12 ghost with math problems around the room.  I partnered up the 1st and 2nd graders as it is technically 2nd grade math.  They searched all around to see how many math problems that they could find and answer correctly.  I think that I will have to make some more of these for the future!

After gym, they came back and enjoyed their "friendship potion" while watching Spookley.  I had read the book before, but the movie is very cute too!
It was a very fun day in 1st and 2nd grade! :)  Happy Halloween!  Now...I am off to watch my favorite Halloween movie...Hocus Pocus!  Yes, I am in my 30s but know that I am not the only one my age who watches it this time of year ;)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Washi Tape and Organization

I have heard people talk about washi tape for a while.  I just want to share a use that I have found for it (although I am certain that I am not the first to do this out there!).

I love teaching in small groups as much as possible.  I tend to start the day with twenty-some pencils in my share bin at my small group table, and they disappear very quickly.  So this is how I solved that problem.
I taped the end of about 20 pencils with the tape and told the kids that they are to stay at my table unless then need to be sharpened (I have small bins for those).  The kids have been so good remembering to put them back where they go.  Now, I never seem to have a shortage of pencils!  :)

Anyone else out there have any things that they use washi tape for?

Sunday, October 27, 2013


I have not been the best at blogging lately. Part of the reason is that I keep forgetting to take pictures while I am at school. I am trying to be better:)

My 1st graders have been asking me for monthly problem solving practice to use during math centers like my 2nd graders have (I use Second Grade Math Maniac's product).  I was not able to find anything similar for 1st grade so I made my own.  I also found:
backgrounds - images - clip art
This is perfect for anyone as many of them are free!  :)

I am offering my latest product: "November Word Problems for 1st Grade" for free for about the next 15 minutes!  Please leave positive feedback if you find it useful at all :)  Thanks!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Grammar Instruction and FLASH FREEBIE/SALE!

First of all, let me say that I can't believe that it has been a few weeks since my last blog!  I am absolutely loving my new position, and have been having a lot of fun finding all sorts of things to do with my students!  Not to mention, I still feel like I am making my classroom mine with only having a couple of days to move into before school started.  Almost there though:)  At least all of my own personal books are out of my garage and into my classroom!

I don't know about you, but I remember correcting sentences when I was in elementary school.  I have done that for many years with my students as well (although not on the daily basis that I remember doing it when I was their age). 

Well, I recently had some professional development telling me otherwise.  They said that students should focus on sentences that show the grammar skill, and for them to have time to notice things about them.  Then they can learn more about the rule.  They did say that it is okay for students to fix sentences still, but they should only have a mistake with the skill that is being taught.

So I looked on TPT for something but could only find something for the upper grades.  I did not see anything that looked just right, so I created this product to help me to teach grammar. My school uses the Math Expressions program and my students have "Puzzled Penguin" who always makes mistakes.  So I decided on having "Confused Cat" to do the same! 

I am willing to give this product away to the first two people who comment with a grammar teaching tip that they use in their classroom.  I will have this product on sale for $1 (regularly priced at $5) for about the next hour.

I hope to be back soon with a new classroom management tip tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

We are Falling into Research!

I LOVE FALL!  I have to say, I just love having colleagues to share and bounce ideas off of!  I was talking with one of my 1st grade partners last Friday after school, and took her idea and ran with it!  I tweaked it a bit to fit the needs of my class.  This week though, my students have been having so much fun learning about leaves!  This topic fits perfectly as 1st graders need to learn about fall, and 2nd graders need to learn about plants!

We started our study on Monday by watching a video on United Streaming (just love that resource!), and pausing to take notes on our research cards.  Although there was lots of great information on fall on it, we focused on just writing down things that we learned about leaves.  Students wrote their mailbox number on each card in case it falls so it doesn't get lost.

I also gathered various levels of books to use on leaves.  This photo is missing a few.  During guided reading time, we have been taking turns reading them, and then discussing as a group how to reword sentences for our notes.
I am so thankful that when I went searching on TPT for leaf products, I came across this product from Crayonbox Learning!  It was free too!  Click on the picture if you think that it would be useful to you as well.  There is quite are many free things on leaves out there:)  So I made them into booklets for my students that we will use next week to make our reports.

This is a view from the inside...plenty of room for writing and drawing!
After we practice organizing and writing our leaf reports, students will be able to choose their own fall topic: apples. pumpkins, bats, owls, and bones.  I collected a variety of books on these topics and will help them to choose an appropriate one that has a book near their reading level.  I have a bin that I have been keeping their research envelopes, extra cards, and books in.  I am going to be doing my best to find informational videos for each student to watch about their topic as well.
My students have been so cute with how excited they are about using the index cards to write down their facts!  :)  Here is a picture of them sharing their fall research books in small groups.