2011 - Queen of the First Grade Jungle

A Year in Pictures and Resolutions

Just over a year ago I started blogging and my whole world changed! Blogging has brought nothing but positivity into my life. I am in quite a reflective mood today so I wanted to look back over the last year in my personal and teaching life (somewhere along the line it all got mixed together!)...
My very first project when I started blogging. I made these adorable little pointers that my students use ALL the time! They are SO cute and SO easy!

In February Nash and Mommy started working on letters together (Nash is now in Montessori and absolutely loving school!.
In March Little Miss Emmie turned 2 years old! LOVE that sweet smile!
In April I created some bookmarks to help motivate our Fourth Grade Buddies during Testing!

 In May we hatched some ADORABLE chicks. By far my favorite teaching moment ever. 
In June I had my hardest teaching/life moment to date. I lost an incredible student the last week of school. I think about this child everyday and he reminds me of the REAL reason that I teach and it has nothing to do with the curriculum.

In July Nash, Emmie, and I spent many hours doing Just.This. I took a break from all things teaching/blogging and escaped to Charleston.
In August I created my classroom library that I still am oober impressed with.
In September I fell in love with Math Work Stations!
In October my cuties were Pebbles and Bam Bam!

Sad to say, but about all I did blogging wise in November was create Place Value Scoot.

Well, December was consumed by all things green and red!

I think one of the most important things about teaching is being reflective. That is one of the things I LOVE about blogging (aside from reading Kristin's absolutely hilarious posts!). When I write about something, I am forced to think about why it was successful or on some occasions- why it bombed.  So in that spirit here are my New Year's Resolutions.

Personally- Be More Organized Around The House. Period.

Professionally- Don't Sweat the Small Stuff. Let me explain- I wish I could be one of those teachers/people that just lets little things go. Nope-not me. I exhaust my husband/friends/teaching partners by talking about it. Not anymore. If it doesn't matter in the big scheme of things... it isn't going to consume me!
 Happy New Years to you and yours!

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... not one of those things that you are required to do that reviews old content, but a flashback to one of my earliest blog posts! Okay so I am kind of cheating and not "really" writing a blog post--- but back when I only had myself and 2 others (okay my teaching partners) as followers, you might have missed this idea!  Here is how we motivate our students to read after a long week break...
So it's that time of year... our kids have had several weeks off of school and we need to be creative in coming up with ways to get them back into school mode. Commence the Snowball Fight!  The kids will get to color in a snowball for each book they read at home (kids who are in chapter books will fill out a snowball for each chapter).  We had four snow days the week before Christmas Vacation so I spent the better part of two days making this display (Not true this year, so I don't know when I will find the time to get this up!!!!).  Each first grade teacher has a penguin and a graph. The graph will fill up as the class reads more and more books! 
Here is my penguin! Notice the polka-dotted bow!
A close-up of the graph. We will celebrate the success of the snowball fight at the end of January.  We have a day called Camp Read-A-lot where the students are encouraged to bring their sleeping bags and favorite books to read with their buddies!'

Enjoy your last couple of days!

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Parent Volunteer Thank You

I am extremely lucky. My parents would do just about anything for me- and I mean anything! I have one mom that comes every Monday morning and stays as LONG as my newsletter, homework packet, and other weekly copies take. I have another mom who basically sticks her head in DAILY and offers to cut, laminate, bring me coffee :) (I said anything didn't I... she also knows a caffeinated teacher is a happy teacher). And the last mom helps me do special picture projects, grinch punch, or other crazy ideas I have. I also have a list of moms who I can send laminating home with or request items for projects and I know they will make it happen. For the moms that are in my room on a weekly basis and the Instructional Assistants that spend part of their days with me, I made these...
Of course I found the idea on Pinterest and changed up the fabric a little bit. If you want to find out how I did this project go HERE.

I hope I don't sound as if I am bragging... I just know my life is made ten times easier by these fantastic ladies! Please wish me luck on the madness that will be party/rally/last day before Christmas Break! YAY! Merry Christmas!!!!

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Dear Santa and Greater Than/Less Than

I think I can, I think I can... four more days :)

I wrote my students a letter from Santa Claus (find the link HERE for this great Santa letterhead) and had our custodian deliver it to my room during recess. The letter came with a bag full of presents. Each present is a wrapped Christmas book to open each day until Winter Break. It was so cute to watch the rumors start flying when my kids read the note from Mr. C. It has been our favorite part of the day for the last week or so. I have a student who has been extra good to go open a book for us.

We have been writing letters for a couple of weeks. I loved the idea of applying for jobs at the North Pole (elf/reindeer) so I tied that into our letters. We wrote to Santa about why we would make great reindeer for him and used our shoes and hands to make the ADORABLE reindeer!

My favorite letter below:

Yes, she said her shiny nose will lead his way :)

We have also been studying Greater Than/Less Than in Math. I found this fantastic game at Crazy in First Grade ! My kids had a blast!

I hope you are finding ways to make it through the last few days!

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Place Value Scoot

I am all out of excuses. But since my husband is working late and my kids are watching their new dinosaur movie, I decided to sneak in a blog post -or avoid laundry- take your pick. As part of my Review Friday, I thought I would play Place Value Scoot! I saw this idea HERE originally, but adapted it for my first graders. They are doing a beautiful job with place value so I think this will go pretty smoothly.
Here are some sample questions:

Click Here! to download.

If you download this activity you will also find 12 questions that cover place value. I have 24 kids in my room so we will go half way around the room. I am a firm believer in limiting the amount of practice my kids have to do so I can assess knowledge not stamina! If you have never played scoot it is very simple. The kids will answer the question at the desk where they are. They will then stand behind the chair to show me they are ready for the next problem. When everyone is standing I will say SCOOT and all of my kids will move in unison clockwise. It is a beautiful thing. The funny thing is they are tricked into doing great work while staying engaged! LOVE it! Check back soon, you may get two whole posts this month :)

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I'm giving myself the award for...

... the worst blogger ever. Goodness gracious, I haven't posted in forever. No excuses- we are all busy. I haven't even had the time to stalk all you all lately :(

Just in case you didn't see it, I did manage to do a post about Math Work Stations over at the fabulous Dandelions and Dragonflies a long time a few days ago. Just in case you missed it....

CLICK HERE for my math work station journal that I use first thing in the morning. My kids have become absolute experts on tally marks, odd and even, and place value already! YES! Next round of journal prompts? We will conquer time and that big, big beast Money (eek!).

Oh and also.... don't you just LOVE Teacher Tipster... I might have a little crush...

He is the best!

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Halloween Pictures and giveaway!

Those are my Halloween cuties!

Here they are as Pebbles and Bam Bam!

If you feel so inclined Click here and "Like" their picture on facebook so I can win a free print because you know how expensive those can be! Don't get me wrong I LOVE the photographer, but pictures are just pricey!

Also I know I have been MIA lately, but I am swamped in my own kiddos/after school meetings/report cards. But please check back soon because Jessica @ Dandelions and Dragonflies and I are teaming up for a giveaway to celebrate big milestones in followers (If I can hit that 600 soon :))

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Happy Fall Break!

I can't believe how fast the year is going by!!! Fall Break is here for us and I can't wait to turn my 5:30 alarm off for a whole 9 days! I am off to see my family and play on the beach with these cuties...

I will be back refreshed and ready to go in about a week!

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Lots of Fun

Not too "fun" of a post title... but really, I do have some fun things to share! Nash started school this year. Totally the teacher in me, but I wanted to send something cute for his snack (and sugar free according to school rules). He chose Ants on a Log after seeing a picture I showed him. So you other crazy mommies will understand this-- I was up at 5:00 a.m. spreading peanut butter and sprinkling raisins so that his snack would not only be adorable, but fresh as well!
Wait- we aren't finished yet ladies (because, let's be honest, the only males that I know of that read this blog are my dad and my 23-year-old baby brother). I made this little sheet for his teacher to read to them while they were eating!

If you would also like to reserve your spot for the "mother of the year" award, you can download HERE!
This is also completely random, but when we were studying the water cycle last week,we played this really fun game that I wanted to share with you all. I found the game on Activity Mom.
This is the blog where I also found my evaporation activity from last week. The idea of the game is that the kids roll the dice and find out how they are supposed to try and "melt the ice cube." One of the options is actually to put the ice cube down your shirt for 10 seconds. Haha, can you imagine how loud my class was :) Although the game was incredibly fun, we also had amazing discussions about why our bodies helped melt the ice. We also talked about how snow and ice are a part of the Water Cycle. If you would like to download this document you can go HERE.

And last, but definitely not least, here is my new way of keeping track of birthdays!
Really, it is the oh-so-creative Erica Bohrer's idea! I saw her great idea and had to make my own!

My kids LOVE how it is their pictures on the board! They are the cutest! I just wish I had a creative idea to put above the months without birthdays. I am thinking of putting pictures of some famous authors that have birthdays in those months. What do you think?


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A peek into a beautiful classroom...

...and no, it's not mine! I am sitting here listening to some Darius Rucker, missing the beach like crazy (no worries- Fall Break starts on Saturday), and looking through this fantastic classroom. The learning space of my dreams belongs to Jessica at Dandelions and Dragonflies.

Jessica has one of the most organized and visually appealing classrooms I have ever seen. I have been secretly stalking her blog for awhile now and just started commenting a couple of weeks ago.

It all started when I saw her tutorial for magnetic gem stones! I was hooked the minute I saw the glass stone magnets!

I haven't *exactly* made mine yet--I have the stones, the paper that I want, the magnets--I just can't seem to find a circle punch grrr....too bad my Hobby Lobby is 45 minutes away! I can't wait use these in my room.
She also has some great games/freebies! I found this game last night. I immediately emailed it to some buddies in 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade! Yes- to answer your question-I am known as the crazy blogging lady at school :)

Find this great game here!

But really the reason I have you here tonight is that Jessica is letting me take you on a tour of her new classroom that she just moved into this year!

I love the consistent use of black, white, and red throughout the whole room.

I also love how the bulletin boards are all different but coordinate.

I am literally drooling over those shelves at the end of her tables. I hate wasted time when kids have to go get things and I bet these are a great time-saver! Not to mention beautifully organized.

Why haven't I thought of hanging up buckets before!?! So genius, yet so simple!

I saved the best for last-- guess what my next project will be :)

A little bit of ribbon and spray paint ALWAYS make for a good project!

Go on over to Dandelions and Dragonflies and see the magic for yourself! ***Jessica in no way asked for this-- I just thought she deserved a little love from the blogging world for the inspiration I have received from her!****

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