June 2012 - Queen of the First Grade Jungle

Guest Blogger #5: At Home In First

Last but not least in our week of bloggers is my dear friend and blogger newbie Ali! Her adorable new blog is linked below...
Helllllllo blogland! I am SO excited to start blogging! I have followed so many people across cyberspace and have stolen/borrowed various ideas to use in my classroom that I simply adore- I can’t wait to share a few of my own with you! So… let me tell you a little about me and what to look forward to with At Home in First… My name is Ali Arnspiger (arn-spy-ger), recently changed from Ali Sorrels a few weeks ago! (It’s definitely going to take my kiddos a while to get used to the new name!) I married my best friend and love of my life in May! We have been together since high school and look forward to our new, married lives together. We have a dog, Max, who we adore and we introduced puppy #2 to our home this week! Although my blog will not be about dogs…be on the lookout for pics, I can’t help myself…they’re presh! ;)
I am 25 and am passionate about teaching/literacy, kindness, friendship and hard work. My undergrad is in elementary education and I have my masters as a Reading and Writing Specialist (K-12). I am obsessed with… following teaching blogs, re-doing thrift store furniture/décor, organizing and contagious teachers! Nothing is better than being around a positive teacher with undying energy for his/her job. See picture below for a sneak peak of my classroom welcome sign/thrift store frame make-over…it’s still in the works!

I am entering my fourth year of teaching…man, time flies! My first two years I taught first grade, and last year my principal asked me to move up to fourth, so I did. Fourth grade was different, lots I loved and definitely some things I missed about primary. Needless to say, I am moving back to first grade this year- I’M SO EXCITED!

 First grade gives me energy, excitement and simply a feeling of where I belong. I am VERY thankful that I taught fourth grade last year as it helped me to better see where my little firsties are headed long term! It also helped me to better understand the pressures of testing and how we ALL are SO important in preparing our students for the testing years! It starts in Kindergarten and EVERY person along the way has a HUGE impact. (I look forward to taking part in more vertical teaming this year- I say it’s a must!) 

This year I am re-doing a lot and I hope to share the changes in my classroom and new ideas in my blog! I have changed my color scheme, to gray, yellow and blue…I can’t wait to show you my great finds that I am using in my room this year! (A few teacher pals and I went to IKEA over spring break and went a little crazy…!) I plan on re-organizing all of my teacher “stuff”, labeling my activities/games and simply feeling more purposeful about EVERYTHING in my room! 

 GOAL OF THE YEAR: Everything in my classroom (paper, books, binders, markers, activities, manipulatives… EVERYTHING) will have a place and purpose. Thank you to Jena Snowden (1st Grade with Miss Snowden) for the beautiful blog design! Jena was very helpful and patient with my changes along the way! You’re wonderful! Thank you, also, to Katie King (Queen of the First Grade Jungle) for persuading me to get started and showing me the ropes of blogland! Katie and I went to college together and her children were in my wedding this May! Love her to pieces! Thanks Katie- watch out though, I guarantee questions will continue to come your way. ;) Thanks for reading! I am just so excited about this blog and even more excited about being back, at home, in first! Stayed tuned…


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Guest Blogger #4: Teach It With Class

Hey Ya'll! I'm so excited to be your guest blogger today.  Katie has been kind enough to let me into her little corner of the world and share with you.   She is super sweet and  I'm thankful to call her a bloggy friend.  I hope that right now she is enjoying an ice cold colorful drink {you know the kind} with her toes in the sand.

My name is Randi and I am a first grade teacher.  To be completely truthful, it's not what I do it's who I am. You can find me at Teach It With Class 

With that being said, I am loving my summer so I have recycled an older post that has been getting some great feedback recently.  At the end of this post you can read how to get one of my TPT items for FREE...grab your caffeine of choice and stick with me. 
In my class, we love our word wall.  No, really.  We love our word wall.  In the sneaky way that only teachers can do, I've convinced my class of how important our Word Wall, Word Study Words & Word Families are.
      After reading this, I realize you’ll think I’m loco (crazy in Spanish) but I promise it’s worth going a little loco to get the kiddos on board. 

      Each week I introduce 5 new sight words on our “Word Study”.  This is the hook. These pesky words “talk” to me ALL day looong. Or so that’s what I tell the children.  Obviously, words don’t talk, but my children think that they do.  

What are they talking about?  Well, they want to go home.  Their home is our classroom Word Wall.  The problem is, they are not allowed to go home until my students learn them.
So all week long, we use these words in every way possible so that at the end of the week we can take our test and send them home.  This is where I take it to the extreme.  At random times during the day, I will talk back to the word wall words.  Yep! All by myself I carry on a one sided conversation.  I act frustrated as I tell them “Yes, yes, I know we’re working on youyes, we will let you go homeno, hush so I can teach!”  Or maybe I will suddenly stop teaching, point at the Word Study and say “That’s enough from you “want” (calling out a specific word) please be quiet!” 
The children will tell you that they hear the words too.  Just nod in sympathy and say “I know they are pesky words  -  which one is the loudest?”  Then they have to tell you the word (thus having to actually know the word (tricky I know).  Choose some of your kiddos to go touch that word when you ask...

As if all of the above isn’t enough, I take it a little further.  The words want to go home and I pretend that sometimes they are trying to escape.  I will randomly loosen the tape on one of the words so it will fall off the board during the day.  When this happens, the children think it’s hilarious that a word is trying to “escape” and go home before we’ve learned it!  We of course use that word by name as we tape it back up.  Occasionally, when the kiddos are't in the room, I will take all the words off the Word Study and tape them in a path to the word wall (on the floor, student desk etc).  The children walk in and have to tape the words back to our Word Study since they were trying to escape (reading them as they do).   This really gets them fired up and talking about the words.  Even those children who you know don't ever  hear a word you say can't resist the fun with the words.  We take our test on Friday and then start the whole silly process over again on Monday.

To make the connection to our Word Families, I have the Carson Dellosa posters on another wall.  Since “in” lives on our Word Wall, its family lives on our Word Family wall (pin, fin, sin etc).  I tell them this so they can begin to see the words inside of words as it all comes together in their brains.  The best part of our Word Family wall is that I’ve taught the kids to point to our Word Family wall and sing “We are family…” (Yes, you know you’re singing it in your head now) as they point and do a little bouncy move I made up to go with it. 

I always talk about the words in our room and how helpful they are and how much I love them.  This encourages the children to love them too.  I have the children actually hug our word wall in appreciation because it’s so helpful to us.  After completing a writing assignment where a child has used the word wall to spell, I will say “Just go give the Word Wall a big hug.  It helped you so much on this paper!”

      In conclusion, if you’ve entertained me this long, this process really doesn’t take any extra time in my day, it’s something that can easily be thrown in and bridges the gap between words we study each week, where they go from there, and why we have word families.   

You can grab your free printable copy ~HERE~ at my Teachers Pay Teachers  store. While you're there,  my feelings wouldn't be hurt if you decided to follow me.   
Now for my mini giveaway...I need some new blog followers so that I can finally reach my goal of 1000.  When I reach it, I plan to do a HUGE giveaway and I'm thinking you'll want to be there for that.  

SOOOO if you are kind enough to click my button below and follow me then I will send you your free copy of one of my best sellers "The Duckling  Gets a Cookie {Book Study}.  
Here's what you need to do. 
1) Click my blog button.  
2)  When you get there, follow my Teach It With Class
3)  After you become a new follower leave a comment in my latest blog post about Katie's awesome blog saying that this is where you found me.  LEAVE YOUR E-MAIL address in  the comment and I will e-mail you the unit. It's that easy 4 clicks and you should be done.


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Guest Blogger #3: Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas

I have finally tweaked my "student work" website/blog where I want it! 
I am using this separate blog address Mrs. Smith's Classroom to be a place where my students and their family & friends can come to see their work & class photos. It stays separate from my blog spot, Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas, but I also have parents who follow me there too!
Once the parents and students get to the classroom blog, I use the "labels" feature to put their initials with each post. 
So if it is a picture of two girls, I put both of their initials in the "labels" for that post.
  If it is a story they've written, it will only have one set of initials. 
Then using the labels gadget in the Design Page, I 
can have a link to the page with each of their labels!
The Internet sees this as a page displaying all of the posts containing each label, but to the Internet User, it looks like a page designed for just that child! So when they click on KP, they will see there son, K***n's work and pictures!
They ♥love♥ it!
MB's "Web Page" with all her links and pictures!
 I also have a letter I send home explaining my policy to the parents and getting parental permission to use their child's work & photo, the parents ♥love♥ it too!

I'm currently the 3rd grade team leader, Teacher of the Year and blog addict!
I love new followers, come check out my blog and see what you think!


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Guest Blogger #1: Teacher Idea Factory

When the one and only Katie King asked me to be a guest blogger, I darn near passed out.  I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I am to be here today! With this said, I have been rackin' my brain to come up with a sure fire way to please her sweet crowd.  Here's what I've got for ya . . . FUN WITH PHONICS!  

In good old Room 13 way up in Nor Cal, we are all about playing with sounds and really experiencing them.  Yes, we read phonics decodables.  Yes, we spell on the tables.  Yes, we practice sorting, practice sorting, and practice sorting some more.  However, it's those special "emotional" lessons that really drive it home for my kids.  My goal is to create meaningful activities that involve "hidden" practice.  It's learning disguised as play if you will.  And, I have found that it's these lessons that drive emotion, thus turning those short-term moments into long-term learning!  Here's just a little sample . . . 

Sure, I could have my kids practice spelling on boring old paper.  OR, I could break out the yarn and index cards to create a whole different experience - short e necklaces.  (Ironically, this always seems to help with behavior management as well . . . engaged kids = well behaved kids.)

This little sweetie finished his early and jumped in to help his classmate!
Here's how this one rolls . . . 
  1. Prep a class set of index cards (I cut mine in half hot dog style) and hole punch one of the ends. **Each child needs 5-6 cards depending on how many words you want them to work on.
  2. Have your students write one short e word on each card and draw a corresponding picture on the back.
  3. When finished, let your students pick two pieces of yarn to "braid" together. (My kids couldn't braid, so I showed them how to cheat by twisting two strings together).  
  4. Knot the yarn pieces together at one end, tape this to a table, and let 'em "braid" (see photos).  The teamwork that will materialize before your eyes will be oh-so magical!
  5. When students finish, knot the loose ends together and invite your kiddos to string their cards on their necklace.
  6. Tie the two ends together and let your kiddos wear these puppies home!

Sometimes you just have to have your babes sort and spell.  However, when you do, why not switch it up a bit from time to time??  Try Post-IT Sorting.  It's simple.  It's novel.  It's fun!

I assign my kids numbers . . . hence the lack of names.
I am a huge Rick Morris fan (more on this in the future).

I was lucky enough to score these awesome little pouches with lined stickies at a conference a year or so ago.  However, I was thinking of splitting regular yellow Post-It stacks into thirds this year.  I'll give each kid their own mini-set and they can write their name/number on the back.  

Here's how this one works . . . 

  1. Have them pull off two or three stickies and place them side by side on their desk (see photo).
  2. At the top of each sticky they write one of the word families you are working on at the top (i.e. ot, -op, -og).
  3. I like to use this during a whole-class brainstorm session.  I ask for a specific word family and volunteers give me words.
  4. Your students copy these words on the right word family sticky (I draw out stickies and do this on the board with them).
  5. To get the most out of this activity I also ask for the volunteers to use the words in detailed oral sentences and name the word's part of speech.  (This gives your slower workers time to catch up as well).

This is a great short vowel culminating activity!  All you need is for your local grocery store to donate a class set of bags (or you can tell your bagger "paper please" for the next month) and run copies of the little template below.

If you wanna try this one . . . 
  1. To start the activity, cut up one side of the bag for the opening of the vest.  Next, cut a circle out of the bottom of the bag (neck slot - see photo).  Finally, cut holes in each side by cutting a large oval roughly 2/3 up the side of the bag (arm holes - see photo).  **I like to do activity on a day when our big buddies come, but I have done it step-by-step as a whole class activity.**
  2. Students then write one or more (it's your call) words corresponding with the short vowel listed on each card.  I also had my kids draw a picture of each word.    
  3. Finally, these are cut apart and glued down the front of the vest as "patches".  Students can decorate up the rest of the bag using markers and scraps of paper.
  4. They LOVE to wear these home!
CLICK HERE to snatch up the "patches" template!
(I didn't forget short u . . .  promise!  It's on a hidden page.)
Well, that's it today my friends - thanks for taking the time to read my little "posty-post!"  I tried to give you a handful of fun phonics ideas that require little prep. A HUGE thank you to my dear bloggy buddy, Katie, for this amazing opportunity! Have a great day and I'll see you around :)  


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Sunday Safari 6/24/12

Hi friends! Welcome to our weekly Sunday Safari!

I have spent the last 2 full hours completely immersed in Ashley's website.
What a cute/creative name for her blog. I also LOVE the design!

Here is a picture of Ashley and her husband...
I stumbled across this picture because I was trying to figure out where Ashley teaches. It was VERY obvious that it is not here in the US of A. Wait for it- she is in Switzerland! This next little tidbit- I stole straight from her blog-

My husband and I will be here for about three years (began March 2011).  Prior to the move, I taught for two years then worked as my district's assessment coordinator....
I am an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher over here and a student myself... learning French (OMG I don't want to talk about it).

Ashley is extremely organized and her website reflects that trait. And if she isn't truly organized she did a great job of fooling me :)

Her site is a gold mine. She has static pages where she organizes freebies/units that she has found or created.
Here is a screenshot of one of those pages...

And another one- just because I am SO impressed...

It is like an even better version of Pinterest!

Don't tell on me because I know I should have known how to do this already, but I
used her video tutorial to make a preview for my Classroom Decor Set:

After a little more stalking browsing through her posts, I found this adorable penguin activity:

AND even better- she included directions that her students could use independently:

I am so glad Ashley agreed to let me feature her, because I can't get enough of her website! Thanks Ashley!
Don't forget to check her out @ The School Supply Addict!

My more seasoned part of the Blogland adventure is going to come in a little different form this week.  

I am actually on my way to Charleston, SC today to drop my kids off with my parents so that my hubby and I can go to MEXICO. Yes- that is pure excitement in my voice. My husband and I were never able to have a honeymoon so after 5 years of marriage and 2 kids- we think we have earned it!

SO..anywho I asked 5 bloggers to help keep you all busy this week (get it 5 guest posts for 5 years of marriage- cheesy I know). 

What a treat!
 Please come back tomorrow for all the fun!


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2012-2013 Room Plans

Does a teacher's mind ever really rest?

There isn't really anything that I enjoy more than getting ready for a new batch of kids.

Here are just a FEW of the ideas that I want to make happen this fall:

These are all pinterest finds in my Creative Ideas for my Classroom Board.  If you feel so inclined:

Follow Me on Pinterest

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Bloggy Buddies

So remember a few weeks ago when I featured Kelley on Sunday Safari???

Sour Apple Studio

Well since then Kelley and I have become quite the bloggy buddies.

Look what I came home to yesterday!!

 Who doesn't LOVE getting packages (midst all the bills)???

 And even better was what was inside the package. Kelley sent me SIX  cds from her UBER talented dad.  
Yes, you read that correctly. Kelley's dad is Ron Brown and therefore has a personal songwriter at her beck and call :)

I would love to tell you that I have listened to them all now and know exactly how I am going to seamlessly integrate them into my lesson plans, BUT

someone won't let me have them...seems she likes getting packages too.

Speaking of my bloggy friends... I am guest blogging for sweet and funny Crystal today while she is visiting family!
Kreative in Kinder

Head on over to her blog to get a link to my fun freebie!


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