Saturday, August 25, 2012

Labor Day

Happy weekend, friends!  I am gearing up for a very full first week of school.  I’m always a little nervous for the first day of school, but especially this year.  This year’s class “leaped” (or is it “leapt”?) to me, which means that they all came from the same kindergarten class.  This makes me a teensy bit nervous because I am the odd man out!  I feel like everybody-parents, students, even assistants are all in on a secret that I’m not!!  Hopefully after the first week or two, we’ll all be on the same page.

In writing my lesson plans for the first few weeks of school, I started to examine what I do for Labor Day.  Traditionally, I’ve read a book about jobs and had my students complete a few matching activities between tools or uniforms needed for specific jobs.  Then I’ve followed up with a “What I want
to be when I grow up…” activity.  I am bored with this tradition! 

So, this year I’ve made a turn around.  I decided to not only try to make my Labor Day lessons more meaningful for my students to learn about various occupations, but also tie it into some serious graphing work.  I also think my kiddos are going to be pretty dang excited about these activities. 

This Thursday, after sharing some background information about Labor Day and reading a book or two, we will break into small-groups of 4 or 5 students.  Each group will brainstorm 4 different adults they know whose jobs they are interested in learning more about.  From those 4 adults, the groups will choose just one person to send a survey to be returned the next day.  The survey asks questions about that adult’s occupation, such as, “how many hours do you work every week?”  I can’t wait to see how my students work together to choose an adult to survey.  I know they’ll be super excited to have their surveys returned!

labor day 2
The surveys will all be returned on Friday.  That’s when the graphing starts.  As a whole-group, we will create numerous graphs based on the data we receive from the surveys.  We’ll make bar graphs on the smart board and on big butcher paper with markers, post-its, and other fun materials.  I’ll be sure to take pictures and share them with you.  Each kiddo will then analyze the graphs by answering questions about the graphs.  This will keep some accountability included in a fun activity as well as give me an early picture of where my firsties are as graphers. 
labor day 4
I cannot wait to use this new activity.  If you think it sounds awesome too, check it out in my TPT store by clicking the picture below:
labor day 1

Friday, August 24, 2012

Freebie Friday!

Freebie Friday

TGIF!  This was my first week back, although without my students, but I am drained already!  Last night was our orientation and I got to meet all my little sweethearts!  So cute, funny, smart, and sweet.  I'm looking forward to Monday, when I get to spend my first full day with them. 

Here are a few Houghton Mifflin-related freebies to help you get off to a great start using the Houghton Mifflin reading series this year.  Click on the pictures to head to my TPT store to download them.  Enjoy and keep sparkling!


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Where I Teach Wednesday

Where I Teach Wednesday
Hi friends!  I'm sharing pictures of my {pretty much} finished classroom.  There are still a few touches I need here and there, but by this time tomorrow night, I will have met all my new firsties and hopefully the room they saw was complete! Please forgive me...some of these pictures were taken early in the "getting the room ready" process, while others I took just two days ago.  If they don't seem to jive together, that's why.
These are a few pictures of my kiddos' desks.

A few of our centers
More shots of important parts of our room


And lastly, a few of our bulletin boards

I hope you enjoyed this mini-tour of my classroom!  Now that I've posted this blog and put my sweet little guy to bed, it's time to cut lamination, add finishing touches to my Power Point presentation for tomorrow's meet the teacher night, make Rice Krispie Treats, label folders, watch a rerun of Modern Family, drink a Diet Cherry Coke, and hopefully feel my head hit the pillow by midnight.
Good luck to all of you.  This is such a busy, but exciting time of year for all of us!
Keep sparkling!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Jewel Jar

Jewel Jar

Our Jewel Jar
How sparkly and shiny is this jewel jar?  I am in LOVE with it, so much so that it is now sitting front and center (and even sort of on a pedestal) on my teacher desk.  I've always used a jewel jar in my classroom as our whole class incentive system.  Last year's jar broke, so this was the perfect opportunity for a "Monday Made It." 

My class earns a "jewel" each time they do something well as a class.  Some examples of jewel-worthy behavior would be a good report from the music teacher, a day where no one pulls a card, everyone returning homework on time, etc.  When the jewel jar is full the students vote on a reward and celebrate.  Some of our rewards in the past have been popcorn and a movie (my personal fave), pajama party, and ice cream sundae party.  

First, you might be wondering, where did you find those gigantic, sparkly, blingy jewels?  The kids, especially the little girls, are always mesmerized by them.  Just today, another teacher's daughter was in my classroom and astonished with the "diamonds"!  I found them at Wal Mart a few years ago.  Not sure if they still sell them.  They were in the section with the glass bead vase fillers.

Next, the jar.  Again, found at Wal Mart, last week, for about $3.87.  I like that the lid is chrome, flat, and screws on. 

Have you ever heard of Pick Your Plum? It's an awesome daily deal site that offers crafty type items.  I have bought a lot of things from that site this summer and I was so glad to use some of them on this project.  So, the washi tape and the paper ribbon are both from Pick Your Plum.  They are self-adhesive, so I just stuck those babies around the outside of the jar. 

Next, the letters.  I think these came from Wal Mart too, around Easter time.  Again, self-adhesive, so I just stuck them to the jar.

Last, the jewels glued to the lid.  You guessed it, I got them at Wal Mart in the craft section.  I could not find my hot glue gun, so I had to resort to Elmers.  It worked!

Keep sparkling!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Race to the first day of school!

        Well, in May and June I always feel like it's a race to the finish.  Now, it's the end of summer and here I am working at that insane pace again!  Between mentoring a new teacher and attending meetings with him, preparing my room, planning units, and LOTS of activity on the homefront, I am just about fried.  Maybe I'll be able to rest when the kids start!!  Ha ha!

        Here are some pictures of the progress I've made in my room.  I'm trying very hard to stay get very organized, so it's a slower go than usual.  But, one of my New Year's resolutions was to get organized and I guess I'm sticking to it:)

My Hallway Bulletin Board

A close-up view

Word Wall

Daily Schedule on Magnets attached to blackboard

Houghton Mifflin Theme Focus Wall


        I've just uploaded a few new products to my TPT store and cannot wait to use them with my kiddos.  Check them out:

       Both of these centers will also be included in a larger packet I am creating, full of Houghton Mifflin First Grade Theme 1 Resources.  Here's a sneak peak at only some of what will be included.  Look for it in my TPT store on Sunday.

        Speaking of Sunday, my store will be 20% off all day Sunday and Monday.  Combine that with this coupon code for extra savings: BTS12 
Check out who else is particpating at

        Have a great weekend!  Happy shopping at TPT!  I can't wait to load up on lots of back to school resources.  Keep sparkling!

Monday, August 6, 2012


And the winner is...
Congratulations to JGriffiths.  I have emailed you a copy of my "Sensational Spelling Pack."  Enjoy!

Keep sparkling!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Spelling and a Giveaway

I am someone who teaches spelling every, single day.  Not all of my colleagues do this.  Some of them have it only at a center, some of them have it only as homework, some might only do something with spelling for a day or two.  How often do you include spelling as part of your instruction?

Although we may differ on how often we teach spelling, most of the ladies I teach with give a weekly pretest and a post test.  Lucky for us, one summer a sweet colleague created a challenge list of words for each skill we teach in spelling.  So on  Mondays when I give my pretests, I give all students the same words from our basic list.  Based on the pretest score, some students will be tested on Friday on the basic list, while others who only missed two or fewer words will be tested on the challenge list of words. With Mondays being reserved for pretests and Fridays being reserved for post-tests, I need spelling activities for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. 
Sometimes I struggle to come up with a new activity for spelling words.  So, this summer I sat down and created my "Sensational Spelling" packet.

This packet contains 20 engaging, unique spelling activities that can be used with any spelling list.  Here are a few sneak previews:

This packet has enabled me to feel at ease when planning spelling for the coming school year.  Never again will I feel I don't have enough interesting and engaging activities for my firsties.  I also believe my students will no longer say, "Uh, cutting letters out of newspapers again????"  You'd think they'd love it, but sadly they do not.  

So, if you're like me and need some FRESH new ideas for spelling, check out my packet at my TPT store. 

And, if you've read this far, how about entering my giveaway to win this awesome packet of spelling activities?  Just become a follower of my blog and leave a comment that you are now a follower (or that you already were a follower) along with your email address.  I'll use a random number generator to choose a winner on Sunday night.  Good luck!
Keep sparkling...and soak up those last precious summer moments:)