November 2014 - Queen of the First Grade Jungle

The home stretch!

I have two rules when it comes to Christmas....

1.  I can't start decorating/really thinking about preparations until after Thanksgiving.

2.  I have to have a LIVE tree!

We always had a live tree growing up (even went out to a tree farm and picked it out before it was cut down).  My first year out of college I had a fake tree.  It was easier for sure, but it just didn't feel like Christmas to me! ***Now, I know some people are just too OCD for the needles or the clean-up, etc, but I don't know anyone that would describe me as OCD.  Two crazy cuties came into my world a few years ago and ruined any chance I ever had of being a neat freak.  

Isn't she a beauty?

Now if you wonder why the picture is so tight on the tree.... well you see we are still shoved in the tiny little townhouse that we have been leasing for a year.  Do not fret though, we are under contract with a house!  We have had the inspection and all we are waiting to do now is close on Dec. 30th!

If you have been a reader of mine then you know this journey has been a long one.  We decided to move from Kentucky to my home town of Mount Pleasant, SC about two years ago.  I came down, interviewed, obtained a job all about April of 2013.  We put our house on the market immediately, but we were moving from a VERY small town and selling a house there can be slower than molasses. Soooo we moved in with my parents for about 6 months. 

 After corralling two crazy kids and forcing my sweet husband to live with his in-laws for long enough, we decided to lease an adorable, but small townhouse until we were able to buy a house of our own.  

Finally! Finally our house in Kentucky sold!!!  So we immediately went out and bought a house right??? Wrong.  Have you ever tried to buy a house 5-10 miles from the beach?  Take my word for it--- it's a little stressful!  So for the last 6-8 months we have been saving, looking, and trying not to trip over each other in our sweet townhouse. 

About two weeks ago ALL of our hopes and wishes came true and our offer on a beautiful home was accepted!  We have made it through the inspection and all the grueling mortgage paperwork (did I tell you I am NEVER moving again?!?!) and now we are just waiting to close at the end of December.

If you saw my news a few posts back *here*  then you know that this move is an absolute necessity!

I had full intentions of posting about Christmas products that I use in my classroom, but as this house is EVERYTHING on my mind right now--- it took a different turn!
Check back in tomorrow because I am working my tail off to finish not one, but TWO products for January!  Have a great weekend friends!

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I ATE EIGHT Pieces of Cake: Homophones Unit

So I posted this unit about a week ago, but I am just getting around to blogging about it!

***Can I just start with, oh my goodness- I love it!  I know, I know, it's kind of like when you talk about your own children... but really! I've already used it SO much!

Here are some snapshots of my whole class intro to homophones.  We used Brainpop Jr, because my kids listen to Annie ten times better than me.  It's okay, I'm woman enough to admit it! ha! The video also gave us a chance to clarify homonyms vs. homophones.  Then I projected our chart on the Smartboard.  The kids chose homophone pairs and wrote sentences for each on their whiteboards. 

During my planning I was able to take my chart to our workroom and use the **MAGICAL** Poster maker. Do y'all have one of these??? I don't know how I lived before I worked at a school that had one.  This is incredible!  I scanned the chart, pressed 4 copies, and the machine printed and cut posters for my entire time completely on its own!  Magic I tell you!

I wanted the kids to really, really focus on the to, two, too set so we used some of the printables in my pack to discuss the differences in each word's meaning. 

Kids referred back to this mini-poster several times to remind themselves of the meanings of the words too!

Here is a snapshot of how I started using these resources in guided reading.  I printed out the flashcards and Homophone charts for discussion and referral when we do word work in small group.

I also printed off the cards that are separate from the words so my cute little girls could practice matching them to the correct pictures!

I have not had a chance to use many of the printables with my kids yet, but here is how they will work for me!  We will work with three homophone pairs at a time and glue them in our Word Work notebooks.  

Then we will write the words, definitions, and an example sentence underneath.  This will not only serve as great practice, but as an excellent resource for reference throughout the year!

I hope you enjoyed getting a peek at my new Homophone Unit!  I also wanted to let you know that I put ALL of my Thanksgiving Units on Sale for tonight only!  Grab them while you can!!!


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Exciting News

I'll let the pictures do the talking.....

Yes, you've got it! There will be a sweet addition to our family this May!

It's hard to put into words just how we feel about this soon-to-be member of our family.  

Blessed. Thankful. Excited. Amazed.  That doesn't even seem to cover it.

I always felt like our family wasn't finished--- like there was more to come.  I have impatiently  waited for the right time.  There were two toddlers and a husband gone for weeks at a time for work  Then there was a move across states.  And last was but not least there was living with my parents.  

I am not as naive as I used to be.  I was a young mom with Nash and Emmie (23 and 24) and didn't have many friends with young children.  Back then I didn't know how many women yearn to be mothers but struggle to conceive.  I thought it just happened. I know now just how expensive and exhausting having children is.  All this in mind, we still felt there was more in store for us.  Nash and Emmie are the light of our lives.  

God has chosen us to be parents for the third time.  

Emmie has the new calling of being a big sister.  And now Nash will take on the challenge of helping corral not one, but two little ducklings. Having children that "get" that a baby is coming is the most exciting experience in the world.  I now have to willing participants that want to talk "baby" 24/7.  They want all the details (within reason--- don't worry classmates' parents).  They pray for their new sibling every night.  They have big plans for diaper duty and burping responsibilities.  

We thank you in advance for your prayers and well wishes!  

Lots of LOVE!
The Kings

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Pilgrim Party Pics

 I created these Thanksgiving Centers last year and just unpacked them yesterday.  I LOVE these graphics from Melonheadz, Creative Clips, and Ashley Hughes.  My trifecta of clipart specialists :)

So last year the parents in our district voted on a calendar that included us going back to school for a FULL WEEK the first week of school.  Yes, yes I am yelling at you.  Because you see, we barely survived that first week of school.  In fact eleven weeks into school I think we are still recovering.  

BUT, and yes there is another *yelling* word, but this time it is for good!  The benefit of that oh-so-long week is that we get the WHOLE WEEK for Thanksgiving!  I know for some of you, this might be the norm, but for me it is a first!  I cannot even begin to describe the laziness that will occur in a whole week off :)

***Back to my Pilgrim Centers****

These centers are perfect to get us through the next two weeks of school!  You can take a closer look below!

Phew! I am so glad these centers were already prepped and ready for me to introduce this Monday!  You can click on any of the pictures to find them in my store!  Don't forget I have First Grade Centers as well!


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November Busy Teachers and how I use them!

Now that I have my entire year's worth of Busy Teachers completed, I get slightly giddy when I go to print them out.  
I made them so life would be easier for us teachers, but OMG did it make mine harder for a little while :)  Trust- it is all worth it now!
My new way of organizing that I just love: I printed out the whole packet and put it in a 1/2 inch binder.  Then I tag the pages that I 100% know that I will be using in the month.  I usually have a mom come and make class sets of all the pages that I want at once.  This saves me tons of time standing at the copier each month.  

How I use my Busy Teacher pages:

1. Morning Work- on days that our schedule is tight, I use these!

2. Independent Practice/Spiral Review- I haven't technically "taught" time this year, but since hour and half hour is a first grade expectation, I use my time pages as periodic review.  It makes the main unit SO much easier!

3.  Math Work Stations- this one is pretty self explanatory!

4. Sub Plans-  I cannot even tell you how many times these packets have bailed me out when I had a puking child :)

5. Reading Response Notebooks- One of our daily routines is that my students respond to our whole group lesson/text through writing.  This page is an example of what my parents would glue into their notebooks to show me their understanding of Story Elements. 

6.  Guided Reading/Word Work- Once again, pretty self explanatory, but in the 2nd grade world I have found one of those mandatory speed bumps many of my readers hit is the "figuring out how to decode longer, non-cvc words" phase. This type of page is a great teaching tool to really focus on those tougher blend words!

7. Homework-  Once or twice a week I like to review an already established skill at home so I can communicate expectations with parents. I *understand* homework is a touchy subject, but based on the families/students that I have, this works for us!

8. The Occasional Writing Prompt- If you have read many of my posts, you know that I am a HUGE Writers Workshop advocate.  Like the biggest. I do understand that answering questions, responding to prompts is also important though!  This prompt will be used in my classroom next week!

If you are interested in any of my November Busy Teachers, simply click on the pictures below to find them!


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