2016 - Queen of the First Grade Jungle

Storybook STEM Product Line

Hi y'all! It's been a while!  I have been working really hard, but also had a rough run with sick kiddos so I sorry to be so absent!

Brooke Brown and I have started a NEW product line that we are so proud of called Storybook Stem!   If you would love to know a quick back story on this unit- here are the nuts and bolts!  I LOVED Stem Fridays in my classroom and most often times I used projects from Brooke!  Well, my love of all things picture books led me to believe that wrapping it all together might be beneficial to others that wanted to try this out! Brooke was on quickly on board and here you have it!

Here is a quick look at what you will find in each unit:


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Grace for President!

Amy and I always get requests for more Rooted in Reading units, especially ones that can be taught in addition to any district-required curriculums.  We thought Grace for President was the perfect book to use with students to teach the upcoming election. 

Amy and I brainstormed how to throw a Mock Election in the primary grade levels that would allow all students to participate.  We decided to use Oreos!  My kids and some friends gave the election a try and it was all thumbs up!

You can grab this freebie by clicking on the picture below. 

They also broke out my personal favorite puzzle- the Melissa and Doug Presidents puzzle!  Such a fantastic way for kids to see influential leaders from history. 

You can find the puzzle from Melissa and Doug HERE.

There are some great presidents books that you can have available for students or to use during Read Aloud.  Here are some below!

As with all of our Rooted in Reading units, there are detailed lesson plans that cover comprehension, vocabulary, and grammar. You will find tons of anchor charts to teach the comprehension skills as well as grammar.  In the picture above you see how I would display these charts along with the vocabulary words and definitions.  There is also to reading passages to use with your class.  On the informational passage there is a QR code that leads to a School House Rock video. My favorite!!! One of the main reasons that I LOVE putting the QR code on there is that I feel like it helps communicate with parents.  Kids can easily use their parents phone to pull up the video and it might spark a great conversation at home.  Don't have access to iPads in your classroom?  Then show the two minute video whole group! No problem!

Amy included some awesome and NEW vocabulary exercises for our kiddos this unit!  I think your students will really enjoy learning this vocabulary and I am almost certain that they will bring the words up to their parents at home when hearing election talk!

Here is a peek at the grammar in this unit:

And as always  we have a craft and a directed drawing to display along side all the hard work!  I love hearing what the students will change when they are president!

And believe or not there is still a lot in this unit that I didn't show!  You can check the whole unit out in Amy's store by clicking on the picture below. I hope you have a wonderful week!


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Halloween Books, Ideas, and Freebies

I just LOVE Halloween.  Like I start thinking about it in early August when it is smoldering hot here in Charleston. The big kids, Nash and Emmie, are getting to the age where they don't really want me to help with costumes, SAD FACE.  Oh well, at least I have Smith to manipulate!  Here is a fun little collage that I made really quickly from Halloweens past. 

One of the reasons that I love Halloween so much besides the fun costumes and the yummy candy, is the BOOKS!  Seriously! Some of the cutest books are Halloween related!

Amy and I utilized four of our absolute favorites in our October Rooted in Reading.  You can find those lesson plans HERE.

I also pulled out a few favorites to show you.  This book could really be used any time, but I used it along side I Need My Monster last year.  It is just the cutest, and of course- Mo Willems is always a must buy.

I have tapes/cds for all four of these pumpkin books and they are always a hit in the listening center.  I do have to say that Big Pumpkin is the BEST.   

Below is the audio version that I like the most.  That witch voice :) 

 Before I found Crankenstein a couple of years ago, I created this Frankenstein freebie to use with my first graders.  I felt like they were already fact family rockstars, but that they needed some extra practice with all kinds of different language associated with fact families.  In other words- test taking skills.  They needed to be able to answer a range of questions and not get stumped by semantics. 

This freebie does just that! Click on any of the pictures to head to my TPT store.  

Don't forget to follow my TPT store so that you can be notified when I add new freebies!

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October Easy Prep Ideas

Besides Rooted in Reading, my Busy Teacher packets are always what people thank me for when I get to meet readers in person. This weekend one of my friends shared with me that she used my unit to get her Sub Tub ready and how good it made her feel to be prepared if her little one was to get sick.  I have used Busy Teachers as morning work, homework, sub plans, OR just that "one more" activity that I needed. 

I decided to give you a closer look into my October Busy Teacher Units!

Race to the Top is such a fun way to practice math fluency.  I would turn on KidzBop to drown out the sound of the dice hitting the desk and watched my kids have fun as they worked!

Cara from The First Grade Parade shared about these tiny spiders on Instagram.  I found them in the party section at Walmart and they were called "Spider Confetti."  They would be a great manipulative to children that were not secure with mentally calculating the subtraction problems on the above page. 

Oh goodness, my kiddos love a spinner game!  I felt like this is an incredibly difficult skill for 2nd graders, especially when crossing over that 100 threshold.  Obviously the stronger their number sense, the more confident they will feel with this exercise.  To differentiate, try providing whiteboards or place value blocks for struggling students.

"Expanded Form" is a term that I always circle back to over and over again.  We want to make sure that skill is strong before the end of the year!

I don't know what it is about Compound words, but I just love teaching them.  This exercise is a great way to not only reinforce the concept of a compound word, but to also see who is hearing all the way through multiple syllable words. 

My second graders were pretty secure with syllables, but there is nothing wrong with a little extra practice to make sure!  This is a relatively quick activity so it could be used for an assessment piece.  I also LOVE the check off boxes at the bottom that require students to assess their own writing. 

My Read it! Draw it! exercises are a great way to check comprehension.  I also love giving kids an opportunity to draw.

In every Busy Teacher packet, I provided writing pages for popular themes in that month.  This paper asked students to explain how to carve a pumpkin.  A little tip- have students highlight or circle the Time Order words to show their understanding of using them!

This last sheet might be one of my favorites in the pack.  I love the open-endedness of letting the students decided where the "story" is going.  I was also talking with Emmie's teacher about how important it is for second graders to work on complete, thoughtful sentences.  They also need to work on a variety of sentence structures.

If this is something you are interested in, click on any of the units before to find my October Busy Teachers. 


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Labor Day Weekend, TargetTeachers Takeover, and Freebie

Hi y'all!  I hope everyone had a wonderful Labor Day weekend!  For you Northern teachers, happy first week of school!!!  

We had an unexpected four day weekend.  Friday morning what was left of Hurricane Hermione rolled on through town and the kids didn't have school.   We were lucky that where we live we only experienced heavy rain and lots of debris.  We had one small tree down in the back, but nothing major!

Smith was surveying the aftermath with his daddy :) 

After being cooped up all day and watching 3 movies, we had a few neighbors over and had a little hurricane of our own known as toddler boys!

By Sunday all had returned to normal and I was able to take Hank out to the beach for a nice morning run.  He is about a year and a half old and FULL of energy.  In fact I am throwing a tennis ball to him between typing sentences!

Labor Day my whole family headed out on the boat and it was a super special trip as it was Smith's first boat ride.  As you can see here, he was quite anxious haha!

The day couldn't have been more perfect and we made it back in time to pack lunches and lay out clothes for the week!

A couple of months ago I signed up for a chance to do a "Takeover" on instagram for TargetTeachers (run by Michelle and Hadar).  My day is today!  If you don't follow them on instagram, you need to be!

Just in case you aren't on instagram, I wanted to show my pictures on here too!  Nash and Emmie are avid readers and I KNOW that I can find books that interest them at Target.  Let's be honest.... momma might have a shopping problem, and books are usually at the top of the list of what I buy!

I am currently on a mission to collect every single Who Was, What is, Where is in the series!

The next thing I posted about was this storage bin that I found for my office, but it is perfect for next to a guided reading table too!  Now that it houses my pens, I have room to write on my desk again! Oh and don't tell on me, but I think it is intended for the shower...ha!

My last post was about the gift that I gave to Nash and Emma's teachers this morning.  I know how much their teachers pour into my kids and so I like to spoil them in return!  All the contents of the gift (minus the amazing Ticonderoga pencils) were found at some point in the Target Dollar Spot!

I used my Cricut to cut out black vinyl letters to spell out their teachers' names and personalize their pencils. I tied the tag on the bag and send my kids off with them this morning :) There is only one King kid in this picture because I MAY have found some unfinished homework in Nash's binder and he might have been completing it on the double.  Don't tell on us :) 

You can find the tag in my TPT store by clicking on the picture below.  Don't forget to follow my store, so you will be notified by email when I post freebies!


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Falling in LOVE with reading: Part One

A couple of weeks ago I posted a picture of my kids picking out books from our home library and reading in bed.  

I shared my feelings on reading logs as homework and then had some great discussions on my Facebook.  I have given reading logs in the past.  At the school I taught at in Kentucky, it was a school policy- twenty minutes of reading every night and a parent signature.  While at my school here in South Carolina, I tried a few times to start a log with my students and I always ended up abandoning it at some point in the year.  Do you know why?  Because I KNOW who is reading at home.  My asking them to write it down didn't change whether or not they did it OR even more importantly whether they GOT anything from the reading.  I KNOW which kids sat and stared at the same book page until the clock said they had done it long enough. So do you. We all do.  

In my pursuit of research about reading logs, I ran across this quote from Pernille Ripp, and I may have yelled "AMEN!"


She has more great ideas here

I think the reason this sticks out to me SO much is that as a mom to two very passionate readers, I see the difference in their attitudes in the books they choose and love AND the required reading that involves an adult signature. Do I think we should stop asking them to read at home? 

Absolutely not.  

The research on that is clear.  Kids that read at home have stronger vocabularies and better connections to literature, not to mention the meaningful discussions that they have with their families. I think we should continue to discuss the importance of reading at home and how it makes the kids feel.  I think we should ask the kids if they have access to books at home.  I think we should GIVE them access to books at home through a lending library. I definitely don't think we should give up.

One alternative I am trying out is highlighting students choosing to read at home and how they like to read.  I think kids will get new ideas and it will start discussions about the books they like to read and the places they do it.
Details about the board:  
1.    Borders found at Hobby Lobby
2.  Large Googly Eyes found at Hobby Lobby
3.  Letters cut using Cricut (fonts are KG Blank Space Solid and BabblingAmy)
4. Paper is Astrobright Primary Colors. 

The day before I put this board up I reached out to a couple of moms and they texted me pictures of their kids reading before bed.  I can't wait to see the board as more kids bring in pictures!

I made this note to go home with the kids on Monday! Click on the picture to grab a copy for yourself!

I will be adding to this file over the next month or so as I write more blog posts on this topic.  We are all in this journey together in creating life-long readers!!


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