Sunday, March 5, 2017

St. Patrick's Day 2017

One of the most exciting things to do on St. Patrick's Day for first graders is to have a leprechaun visit  the classroom.  It seems that some leprechauns wreak havoc on the classroom, while others leave a few scattered gold-covered, chocolate coins.  I prefer the latter because I really don't want to clean up the room any more than I already do.

To add to our independent reading this month, I made QR Codes for March and April read alouds for several books about St. Patrick's Day.

At our school we have B.Y.O.D. (Bring Your Own Device) day every Wednesday, and sometimes on Fridays as well.  We are fortunate to have a few iPads in our classroom as well.  I rotate the classroom iPads and students who don't have one, know they will get a turn next time.  All you need is a QR Code scanner which can be downloaded for free from the app store.

I like these QR codes because they do not show advertisements to my students at the beginning of the read aloud.  My students like them because they feel so hi-tech using their devices to read the wonderful stories themselves.

Easter comes in March this year, so I added Easter books in this QR Codes for March and April Read Alongs  I've included several of my favorite books.  Here is a list of the books included.

  • St. Patrick’s Day
  • The Night Before St. Patrick’s Day
  • The History of St. Patrick’s Day
  • That’s What Leprechauns Do
  • Jack and the Leprechaun
  • Jamie O’Rourke and the Big Potato
  • The Luckiest St. Patrick’s Day Ever
  • There Was and Old Lady Who Swallowed a Clover
  • The Leprechaun’s Gold
  • Fin M’Coul, The Giant of Knockmany Hill
  • The Easter Egg
  • Pete the Cat Big Easter Adventure
  • The Night Before Easter
  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit
  • Marley and the Great Easter Egg Hunt
  • The Easter Bunny’s Assistant
  • Bunny Cakes
  • Happy Easter, Curious George
  • Happy Easter, Little Critter
  • Happy Easter, Mouse!
  • The Runaway Bunny

There are times I want my students to respond to a book they've read independently.  Here is a FREE copy of one of the response sheets I use in my classroom.  You can cut it in half and have students paste the sheet into their regular Reader's Notebook.  Another ides is to make a Response Journal and put in several blank copies of this page or others like it.  Then have your students fill out one response per day, or as you desire.

If you happen to be a second or third grade teacher reading this blog, you probably teach the difference between simple and compound subjects and predicates.  Here is an activity I made to help, at least with the subject topic.  It's called St. Patrick's Day Simple Subjects vs. Compound Subjects.

I always love to include an educational video that explains the origins and traditions about our national holidays.  
Here is a great one that tells all about St. Patrick's Day.

I hope you and your students enjoy St. Patty's Day this March 17th!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

What are you doing for Dr. Seuss Week?

I can't believe February is almost over and March will be here next week!  In fact Thursday, March 2nd is Dr. Seuss's birthday.  Our school will celebrate this beloved children's author with a full week of Seuss-like fun!

  • On Monday, students will wear a hat and bring their favorite Dr. Seuss book to read during reading.  Our principal will read The Cat in the Hat to each grade level.  
  • Tuesday will be crazy sock day and we will read Fox in Socks.  
  • Of course Wednesday will be Wacky Wednesday, and all the children will dress in their wackiest of outfits.  
  • Thursday students will wear green for Green Eggs and Ham.  
  • On Friday, we're all wearing our favorite college shirt along with reading Oh, The Places You'll Go book.   
Dr. Seuss's birthday coincides with Read Across America Day, so I really wanted my kiddos to have as many books written by Dr. Seuss as possible.  I was so disappointed when I found that I only had 7 or 8 in my classroom.  So I went to our media center and found only 2 that were not already check out by students or teachers. With only about 10 books, it didn't look like we were going to do much Dr. Seuss reading at all... and then I had an idea!

I would make QR codes linking to books that could be read with an iPad!  I worked on this for several days and when I was done, I had 20 books linked to videos which showed the words, in most cases, on the iPad screen, as well as the sound of someone reading the story aloud!

As you can see, last year my kiddos enjoyed traditional books 
as well as our new access to read alongs with our brand new QR Codes!

My students were so engaged and excited to get to read so many great treasures by Dr. Seuss!  We actually used these all throughout the week.  If you are interested in checking out the set, you can click on the link below and download a preview.

If you want to see the fun Dr. Seuss-inspired math activity called 
 click on the link in this sentence. 

Saturday, January 21, 2017

100th Day of School 2017

What are you doing on the 100th Day of School?

So our 100th Day of School this year is on Monday.  Normally,  I'd be already to go.  However, I've been sick with the flu for a whole week!  I don't have to tell you how behind I feel right now!  I had to have a friend send home the 100th day letter to my parents earlier this week.  I get parents to donate the various items we need for our awesome 100th Day Snack.  So tomorrow (on Sunday, I can't believe it!),  I'm headed to school to  see what my parents sent in so that I can see what else I need to purchase in order to fill in the gaps.

I will also be cutting paper for our 100th Day Crowns as well.  I need to go to Walmart to pick up new ink cartridges so that I can print the headers that go on our crowns.

These are pictures from last year's 100th day of school.  If you want to read more about what we did last year, click here.

I'll come back after Monday, and post some new pics of what we do this year!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

MLK Day 2017

What are you doing in your classroom for MLK Day?

My school is out on Monday in observance of the holiday dedicated to the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  When we return on Tuesday, we will learn all about the life of Dr. King.

I have a series of products called American Heroes.  These products contain material for both primary and upper elementary grades.  You can get this one, just in time for MLK day, Monday, January 16th.

You can find this product on TPT simply titled Martin Luther King, Jr., or click on the cover image or preview below to go directly there.

My kids and I love the reading website Epic!  And we love National Geographic Kids!  If you have not joined Epic, you'll want to go ahead and take advantage of the thousands of great books they have to offer.  

I plan to read this book about the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to my kiddos when we return to school on Tuesday.  I don't have it in my classroom, but with Epic, I have access to so many wonderful books just like this one.  I project it on my Smart board and my students can read along with me.  

This is the image you will see when you first click onto their site.  You will probably recognize some of the titles at the bottom of their screen.  

Or you if you want your own copy, you can click on the link below to get it from Amazon and add it to your classroom library.  Here are some other great books I have in my classroom library that I like to read aloud.  My students love to take the books I read aloud, and put then in their book box to read during independent reading time that day.  


I'd love to hear from you.  What are you doing in your classrooms to celebrate MLK Day?  Feel free to leave comments below. 

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Math Rotations Help Manage Centers

For a long time I thought of work after kids were finished in Math, only as Centers.  I worked long hours switching out materials and keeping those centers up-to-date, only to stay frustrated that it took so much of my time.

One day, it dawned on me to try things a different way... Math Rotations!  With Math Rotations, I still use centers, but they are just a small part of the big picture, which reduces the prep time that usually goes with setting up centers for a classroom full of kids.

With my Math Rotations, I usually have  4 math stations or rotations, because I have 4 days to teach math.  We are assigned S.T.E.M. Lab on Tuesdays this year.

  1. Math with Mrs. H.
  2. Math by Myself
  3. Computers
  4. Centers

1. Math with Mrs. H. is a opportunity when I remediate or enrich a group of students based on earlier work or prior assessments.  There are times that I need to pull individuals to assess.  For these times, I will replace the words "Math with Mrs. H" with another activity like "Counting Bags".  Doing that, gives all students something to do, and I can just pull individuals as needed.  Above is  picture of my rotational chart prior to completing the assessments that determine student placement in Fluency Folders for Math by Myself.

2. Math by Myself is a opportunity where students work on their math fluency.  I assess kids independently to see which number (1 through 10), they are fluent at,  in other words... which number combinations they know with automaticity.  For each student, I design a math fluency folder with activities based solely around their target number (5 for example).    They have a small "toolbox" with manipulatives of that same number as well (5 two-color counters, 5 red squares, 5 yellow squares, 5 beans, etc).  At the start of the year, before I have their fluency folders created, or when they complete their fluency folder but I haven't re-assessed them yet, I will use this time to give them application material from lessons in class.

3. Computers - You probably already have this one down!  I am fortunate to have 4 student desktop/laptop computers and 3 iPads in my classroom.  If you do not, maybe you have enough for students to play as partners.  I sign them three math sites they will log onto:  Ten Marks, Sum Dog and X-tra Math.  On my iPads, there are other math apps as well.

4. Centers - Now, having kids only rotate through this once each week, centers are so much more manageable!  I feel successful leveling my centers and having it stocked with activities that address the specific skills we are currently working on in the classroom.  All I really need is one activity per level.  Depending on how you plan to level your groups, that could be just two or three activities. (low and high, or low, medium and high)  Once they complete their "required" activity, they are allowed to work on the other one.  I set up colored folders in the center tubs, which are color-coded to match the students' level.

5. Counting Bags - I mentioned this activity above.  If you have 5 full days of Math, and need a fifth rotation, this would be the one I would choose.  From Oriental Trading, I purchased an assortment of little fun-shaped erasers, which we do not use as erasers.  We call them counters.  We have soccer balls, footballs, balls of every sport, puppy dogs, ice cream cones, starbursts, fish of every color, smilie faces, owls, turtles, and more.  I sorted them and put the like shapes in a baggie.  During this rotation, a student chooses a bag of counters and finds a spot on the floor to spend time counting.  As time goes on, I have them begin to record their count on a small post-it note and then verify their count using a hundreds board.  Later in the year, I have them write their prediction first, then write their count, and finally verify.  Before introducing this activity,  I model how I want them to count, which is to make ten-frame arrangements using their counters.  I have found this dramatically improves their accuracy for a number of reasons, the least being that if they get interrupted or loose their place, they can count by tens more easily, to find the number where they left off.

Here is a link to pick up your free Math Rotations Classroom Management Chart for yourself.  There are text boxes provided so you can edit names and activities.  I've used a common font found on most computers, but you can change it to whatever you have that you like.  

If this is something you found helpful, I would love to hear about it in the comments section below.


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

SUMMER FREEBIE #2: It's Shark Week!

It's a great week to add free resources to your animal or ocean unit!  Check out these great free SHARK resources, without any of the DANGER!!!

Here is my shark FREEBIE!

Every blog in the Shark Week Blog Hop features a FIN-tastic freebie for you and your students - but hurry!  Shark Week only lasts until Sunday, July 3rd.

Thanks to Jenny at Luckeyfrog's Lilypad and Matt at Digital Divide and Conquer for organizing this annual event! Head on over there and check out the rest of the FIN-tastic freebies!

No need to bare any teeth - you can take a bite out of these awesome classroom resources for free during Shark Week!

Saturday, June 25, 2016


By now, most of you are out of school for the summer! Yeah!!!  We got out before Memorial Day, but my schedule has still been busy.  We started our summer with a beach vacation, which was awesome, and very much needed!   My summer has been packed with kid camps, dental visits, kids' sports physicals, and Vacation Bible School, but all that just ended for the most part.  Now it's time for what I've truly been waiting on... the "lazy days of summer"!  I really just want to lie by the pool and read a good book for days on end!  (without guilt!!!)  How 'bout you?

This float is calling my name!

I do have a few things on my plate to accomplish "at my leisure".

1. Experiment with some new food dishes.  I love watching The Pioneer Woman and Trish Yearwood, and there are so many great dishes I want to try!  I've included the links in the names below the pics in case you want to give them a try as well.  Yum!!!

2. Clean out the playroom. (my least favorite, but most needed item)

3. Make new products for my classroom.  This is what I do when I don't want to get up an clean the house, but still I can look like I'm doing important work in the eyes of my family.  Ha. Ha.

A new item I've been working on was inspired by the movie, Finding Dory, which was great!!  If you haven't seen the movie yet, it's great for the whole family.  I am in the process of making this math center for students to match ten frames with the numerals they represent.  My kiddos will love the fish theme!  Here's a sneak peak!

If you have iPads or other such devices in your classroom, you will definitely want to check out my Back to School QR Codes!  Simply print and laminate and your kiddos will have access to 20 great back to school stories, read aloud to them.  Most have the words visible so they can read along as well.  I've used safe share so that students won't be exposed to unwanted advertisements.  You won't want to miss this.  Just think... access to 20 stories for the cost of one book!  

Summer Freebie #1

Here are some Back to School Bookmarks I've just updated, that you can pick up for FREE.  Print and laminate.  They'll make a nice welcome on the first day of school.  One set is black and white if you think your kiddos will want to color them (laminate after coloring).


I hope you have a restful summer!  Check back soon for more SUMMER FREEBIES!

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