Saturday, January 30, 2016

100th Day of School

Wow!  I can't believe we have already reached the 100th day of school!  I love my class and I knew they were going to enjoy all the things I had in store for them.  Monday was our 100th day.  I planned 3 centers for the morning:
1. 100th Day Crown
2. 100th Day Snack
3. 100th Day Necklace

1. 100th Day Crown
The Friday before,  I started gathering all of the materials at school to make their cute 100th Day crown.   I used sentence strips and 5 different colors of construction paper.  I cut the paper into one-inch strips.  Earlier in the week I printed off the "I am 100 days smarter!" headers.  I originally made those last year, so I was glad they were already on my computer - one less thing I had to make.  Since it was Friday, I was ready to get home, so I gathered everything up and packed it all, to be continued at home.   Here are a couple of pictures of the process.  This first one was taken at school.

So at home on Sunday afternoon, I finished the project.  I glued down the strips of construction paper about one inch apart, intentionally leaving about 4 to 6 inches on one end for sizing and stapling.  Once I had glued down one set of strips, I repeated the pattern so that there were 10 strips.  

Here is the set up at the center table with bingo daubers.

I put the rest of them on their desks and told them to pick them up and carry then to the table when it was their turn.  So you will see them on a few student desks in other pics, even though they are working on a different activity.

Here are three of my sweeties working on their awesome crowns.  I put out my bingo daubers for my kiddos to choose from.  With ten strips, they stamped 10 dots on each strip, making 100 dots. The sweetie in the white shirt in the picture got a little "dot-happy" and dotted the sentence strip portion too, before I could stop her.   Oh well, I couldn't bring myself to tell her she had way more than 100 dots.   LOL

When they finished, they took their crowns to their desk to dry.  That opened up the space for another group to come to the table.  To finish it off, I sized the sentence strip around each student's head, then stapled it together.  Lastly, I took hold of the end of each strip, laying the ends on top of one another.  Then I stapled all the ends together, making a crown.  They were so pumped to get to show off their new "I'm 100 Days Smarter" crowns  as we walked to the lunchroom!

I got the original idea for this crown from Pinterest.  I tried following the link to Mrs Morrow's Kindergarteners, but it was only available to invited members.   She used stickers,  but I like the bingo dauber dots, and my kids love anything to do with PAINT! 

2. 100th Day Snack
A week ahead of time, I sent out a letter to parents requesting a variety of snacks that we easily count to make our trail-mix style snack.   This list included the following:  bowls, Chex cereal, Cherioes cereal, gummy bears, raisins, marshmallows, Skittles, M&Ms, chocolate morsels, Goldfish, and red hots.  Ten snacks.

Friday evening,  before I left school, I assessed what students had brought.  I stopped by the store and picked up chocolate morsels (a student forgot to bring them) and a couple of extra bags of gummy bears.  Monday morning, even before the kids got to school, I began setting everything out, but this took a lot more time than I had remembered from last year.  So, if you think you want to do this too, have some engaging morning work out for them to do independently in case you need a few extra minutes to finish the set up.  I put out two sets of snacks.  One set for the left side of the table and one for the right side.  I set out hundred boards for my kiddos to use for counting their snack.  Ten frames or other sorting mats would work great too, but I just love using my hundred boards for counting on the 100th Day of School.  The idea... 10 rows of each of the 10 snacks makes 100 snacks.

In this picture, you can see another group of kids working at their desks.  They are working on the third center activity, the 100 Day Necklace.
Once their board was complete, together we slid their yummy snacks into a baggie and zipped it up for them to hold until morning recess.  Our recess is at 10:40, so I knew this activity had to be completed by then.  You may want to keep your snack or recess time in mind as you plan out your day.  They all thought it was funny that I made myself a snack bag as well.  YUM!

3. The 100th Day Necklace
In my parent letter, I also asked for a box of Fruit Loops.  I went to Hobby Lobby to find my Rexlace.  It only cost a couple of dollars.  I cut strips about 4 feet long.  That is more than you will need, but that length will give you enough to tie the knot.  To keep the front loops from falling off, I put a small paperclip on one end.

I had students use a hundred chart to layout their Fruit loops, so they could be more accurate, than if they were simply counting as they put the cereal on their string.  This worked GREAT!  First graders loose their place easily when counting if they are distracted, so using the hundred chart is a helpful tool for all sorts of counting activities.
When their hundred chart was full, they began threading their cereal onto their Rexlace.  I made these numbered tabs to indicate each group of 10 Fruit Loops.  (Aren't they cute?)  There were two sets to a page.  I printed them at home so I could have color (only a black and white printer at school), cut them out, punched a hole in the top and packed each set into a snack size baggie.
The next day, all I had to do was lay out a baggie on everyone's desk along with this "My 100th Day Necklace" sheet.  I wish I knew where I got this, but its at school and I'm typing this post at home.  I'll try to remember to look and come back to post the link. 
Here's what they looked like before I tied them off.  Rexlace is very slippery, so you'll need to tie a good and tight knot to keep the necklaces together, but mine worked great.  Using the numbered tabs really helped me quickly check to make sure the correct amount of cereal was on each student's necklace.  For example, when there are only 6 Fruit Loops between two numbered tabs, it is easy to spot the difference in length, compared to all the other length segments on the necklace.

Both crown and necklace
This little jokester, thought he looked so funny peeking through the strips!   

These three activities and recess took up our morning.  
After lunch we read the book 100 Hungry Ants, which they absolutely love.   It is a perfect book for  the hundredth day of school for most any elementary class.  Click on the picture if you want to pick up a copy for yourself from Amazon.  

You can get your own classroom copy of this book by clicking on the link below.

Afterwards, we walked around the room using our clip boards, to write 100 words.  
We stacked 100 pennies.  
We painted 100 dots.  

EXTRA:  100th Day Puzzle
We put together this Hundred Day puzzle, and oh my goodness, this was one of their favorites!  They loved that they were making a puzzle that they could put back together later!  First, I had them glue it to a piece of construction paper.  I suggest glue sticks, but a generous amount.  Liquid glue makes paper buckle.  The construction paper made it more sturdy and gave them a colorful back.  You could also print them on card stock.  Next, they carefully cut out each piece.  I always demonstrate the best way to cut.  First graders need to see you model how to cut things.  Then under my document camera we put my puzzle together as a whole group, and they saw that if they counted by tens correctly, that would put their puzzle together correctly.  They were eager beavers to get to their puzzles!    After it was put together, they colored it.  Again, I modeled how to do this as well. (This took a lot of time too. I'm just saying! LOL)  They turned out great!   I gave each kiddo a baggie to hold their puzzle pieces.  If you would like a FREE copy of this puzzle, click here.

If you have any questions about anything I've presented on this blog post today,  please don't hesitate to ask.  Use the comment tab below and I'll respond back soon.  To make sure you don't miss any new posts, follow me and subscribe in box to the right, near the top, and you'll receive these posts directly to your inbox.   I hope you have an exciting 100th day of school!  

I would love to hear from you...  Name your favorite "100th Day" activity or favorite book to read on the 100th day.  Just click on the "comment' button below. 

January 2018 update... So many of you have asked if you could purchase the other materials I've used like the number circle dividers for the Fruit Loop Necklace and the header I use for the 100th Day Crown.  I just put it all together in one package that you can get at my TPT store here.  

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

TPT Sitewide Sale!

Well... It's finally here!  A sale to start the NEW YEAR!  
January 20th and 21st are the dates.

These BIG SALES don't come along too often, 
so if you have some things on your wish list or just want to go browsing, now is the time! 
Get them while the prices are at the lowest.  

My store will be marked down as low as it can be marked - 20%.  
However, if you'll type in the code SMART16
TPT will take another 10%. 

That will make everything 28% OFF!

The sale ends on the 21st at MIDNIGHT, so I plan to start browsing early!

You can go directly to my store by clicking here on or the image below.  Happy Shopping!!!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

What Are You Doing for MLK Day?

I'm SUPER excited about my brand new blog!!!  It took a while, but it's finally complete.  I want to thank Megan Favre at A Bird in Hand Designs for her talented design skills!

I moved to 1st grade last year and was so excited, that I wanted a brand new blog to go along with the new move.    I  have another blog titled 3rd Grade Grapevine, as I had been a 3rd grade teacher for many years!   At first, I put a few 1st grade things up on my 3rd grade blog, but just felt that wasn't the best place for them.  I also felt like those readers would rather read about 3rd grade teaching material and classroom events, so I hesitated to blog about my 1st grade happenings.  Solution... create a 1st grade specific blog!  Yeah!!!

About the move to 1st grade....  Being honest, most of us do not like change, and I must admit it took a lot of additional work (I knew it would), but I was ready for a new perspective!  Wow!  Did I get it!  I knew it would be uncomfortable at first, not knowing the curriculum like the back of my hand as I had in 3rd, and having to create all new material from scratch.  That's actually, one reason I put off the move as long as I did.  Another reason I waited, was to have my youngest child get to 3rd grade with me.  I had done that with the other two, and she didn't want Momma to move before she got there!  LOL

I've started working on a new series of products called American Heroes.  These products will contain material for both primary and upper elementary grades.  I've just completed the first product in this series just in time for MLK day, Monday, January 18th.  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.

To celebrate this brand new blog and the start of a brand new series of products,  I'm posting a FREEBIE here for my readers.  Just click if you want Martin Luther King, Jr. The Early Years, and you will to be taken to Google Docs to grab your freebie.

If you click on the various social media button at the top of this page,  you can follow me on FB, Bloglovin and more.  I'm just getting Twitter and Instagram started, but I'd love to have new followers.

Check back soon to find out the next person in the American Heroes series.  Get my GRAB button or  click FOLLOW me on this blog, and you'll receive a notification of my next post.

Here are some 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 would love to hear from you...  Were you able to use this FREEBIE in your classroom?  Just click on the "comment' button below.

I hope you and your family have a Happy New Year!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

New Children's Book Releases for 2016

One of my favorite things to do in the evenings after a full day at work, is to curl up in front of the fire, with my favorite blanket and a good book - often a children's book.  Sound inviting?

Here are several new children's book releases for 2016, with summaries provided by Amazon.

Here is a favorite that was actually just released a week before 2016.

Pete the Cat's Groovy Guide to Love - Already Released December 22, 2015
Love is in the air!  Pete the Cat shares some groovy words from the heart in this fun collection of all his favorite famous quotes about living an awesome life filled with love.  This cool cat adds his heartfelt the on well-known classics, from Vincent van Gogh to Virgil to Ovid to Charles Dickens, because after all, the best advice is "Love conquers all."  Fans of Pete the Cat will delight in this fun take on quotes, which are accompanied by Pete's witty responses and Pete illustrations by New York Times best selling artist James Dean.

Pete the Cat: Scuba Cat - January 5, 2016
 Pete the cat is going  scuba diving!  Before he hits the water, Captain Joe tells him about all the sea creatures he can encounter, and Pete is super excited to see a seahorse.  But when he is suited up and swimming around, he has to search high an low to find the little guy.  In this aquatic adventure, Pete makes a friend and gets a big surprise!

Magic Tree House #54: Balto of the Blue Dawn - January 5, 2016
Jack and Annie go back in time to Alaska, 1925.  There they meet Balto a jet-black Siberian husky destined to save victims of the diphtheria epidemic.  But the trail isn't easy and Balto is going to need Jack and Annie's help!

My daughter will want this one.  She love everything to do with Balto!

Walt Disney's Marry Poppins - January 12, 2016
Even a simple outing becomes extraordinary when you're with the wonderful Mary Poppins! Young kids will enjoy this vintage Little Golden Book from 1964.

I have preordered mine at a reduced price of only $3.80.  I love theses vintage books!!!

Bear Is Not Tired - January 12, 2016
Bear and his duck family do everything together.  That is, until winter arrives.  Bear is supposed to hibernate this tie of yer, but he doesn't want to miss out on any of the fun.  But can Bear really stay awake all winder long? 

This one sounds adorable.  Sounds great for introducing the idea of hibernation.   

Bad Kitty Goes to the Vet - January 12, 2016
When Kitty is happy an healthy, everything is perfect.  She jumps around, eats everything in sight, and has the energy to keep sobering puppies in their place.  But when she's sick, all she can do is lie in her bed.  Looks like its's time for sick kitty to go to the vet.  When Kitty's family finally manages to get their clawing, angry pet into the doctor's office, it's a wild adventure for Kitty, who has to get the most dreaded thing of all... a shot.  After getting the shot, Kitty is cast in a dream sequence in which she has to make right by Puppy or risk being shut our of Pussy Cat heaven forever. 

I Am Martin Luther King, Jr. - January 5, 2016
We can all be heroes.  That's the message in this book.  Even as a child, Martin was shocked by the way African-American people were treated.  When he grew up, he decided to do something about it-- peacefully, with powerful words.  Here are a few preview pages inside the book.  

I hope you get to curl up by the fire with a good book this week as well.  After all, I believe just about the whole U.S. will be experiencing seasonably COLD temperatures.  Brrr!    Happy January!

I would love to hear from you...  Which new books would be your kiddos like the most?  Just click on the "comment' button below. 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Helpful Tips Teaching Non English Speakng ELLs

We just finished our first week back after Christmas break, and as expected, we received our fair share of new students.  In fact we set a record number of new students entering after the holidays.  One of those entered my classroom this week.  Several of these new students were ELL students, but they all understand and speak English fairly well.  However I have taught 4 students in my teaching career that spoke NO English at all.

The first time I received a non-English speaking student was back in 2008.  She was our school's first non-English speaking student and it was all new territory for us.  At that time we used the term ESOL and although our school system had over 20 elementary schools, just 5 years prior (2003), our system only had one ESOL teacher because there were so few students that needed those services.  By 2008, we were adding an ESOL teacher at our own school, but there were still so few resources and local knowledge to support the classroom teacher.  To this day, I still use many of the same techniques for communication and instruction, that I discovered by trial and error back then.  I'm going to share some of these with you today.

  1. Provide a Quick Quotes Translation sheet. - Although these students come to us speaking no English, many of their parents do.  We are in a military town, so many non-English speaking students have parents who are woking with a connection to our Air Force Base.  For these students, their parents are their greatest resource.  I have listed what I have found to be the most used phrases used by ELLs, that need translation.  I have their parent write the same phrase in their language right next to the English phrase.  This paper stays on their desk in a sheet protector.  This only works if the student is old enough to read in their home language. Click on this title, Quick Reference Quotes, to get a FREE copy,
  2. Use a Translator App. - With my third and fourth non-English speaking students, I had an iPhone, and I found a great free translator app.  If you have not seen this translator app before, it is awesome!!!  The list of languages it can translate seems endless.  With someone of another language that uses our same letters, you can reverse the languages and the student can type in their language to communicate with you.  I had a Japanese students, and the keyboard only English letters and not their Japanese characters so they could not type messages to me.  Now we have iPads in the classroom and the increased size makes it so much better!   
  3. Add Parent Contact to Your Phone. -           I can't tell you how many times I just handed the phone to the child, who simply called their parents, spoke, and then handed me the phone.  The parent could tell me exactly what their child needed.   This saved me so much time in the long run.  I used it when the child was upset, was sick or we just couldn't figure our what he/she needed.  There was this one time when I walked into the lunchroom to pick up my class, and my student was sitting by herself crying.  When she saw me, she ran to me and clinched her arms around my waist, sobbing hysterically.  She was so inconsolable that I could not find out what the problem was.  I immediately pulled out my phone and called her mom.  Once they spoke, the child calmed down and the mom filled me in.  Here is what had happened... My class had all been seated at the lunchroom table and because she could not communicate with words, she used hand and arm gestures in a very animated way, trying to intact with her new classmates.  The lunchroom monitor was not aware of her situation and asked her to sit down several times, unaware that the child could not understand her.  Because the behavior persisted, the monitor sent her to sit in a Time-Out area.  The poor child simply didn't understand what she had done wrong and was worried that she'd never get back to her familiar class.  She felt so afraid, since she couldn't understand any of the explanations from the monitor.  That simple phone defused the situation with the child and parent, convincing both of them that I had their child's interest foremost in my mind.  Needless to say, my principal sent out notices to everyone of the situation.  
  4. Use Google Images. - "A picture is worth a thousand words." So true!  Whether you are introducing content vocabulary or simply trying to explain what a BBQ sandwich is for lunch, Google Images makes the task much easier.  I keep this site bookmarked on the home screen of my iPads and I often show it on my smart board.  
  5. Try to Get Rosetta Stone. - If your school system will pay for this or if you can get a sponsor, this is well-worth the money.  Rosetta Stone teaches with pictures and words.  What I find so wonderful is that it teaches things that cannot be taught as well with flashcards and such.  Nouns and verbs can be easily taught with flashcards, but how about the word "the", "when" or  "those".  It seems that teaching the use of pronouns and subject/verb agreement skills are a defining strength of this program.  (See the examples below.)  
    It also gives your ELL student quality instruction, while you are presenting a focused lesson such as "Using Voice in Your Writing".  That lesson would be completely over the head of your non-English speaking student.  Differentiation doesn't get any plainer than this.  So plan on assigning a Rosetta Stone lesson to your ELL when you are going to teach a writing, usage, or grammar lesson that would have no benefit to your ELL, but is key information for the rest of your class.    

  6. Seek access to helpful websites like Brain Pop, Jr., and Tumble Books. - These websites offer a limited amount of FREE material, but a subscription is not very expensive, and well worth it.  Our school system's ELL program pays for our Brain Pop, Jr. subscription and our Media Specialist uses Media funds to pay for out Tumble Books subscription.  Brain Pop is designed for upper elementary and middle schoolers, and Brain Pop, Jr. is meant for younger children.  Both sights offer informative videos in all subject areas, but I use them most for Science and Social Studies skills.  Tumble Books offers a read aloud element to a vast amount of popular and familiar books.  What is so great about this sight is that the words are highlighted as the computer reads them and the texts are leveled.  Go check these out!  
     Brain Pop, Jr dashboard
    Brain Pop, Jr. list of movies

    Brain Pop list of movies - upper elementary and middle schoolers

    Tumble Book Library dashboard

    Tumble Pad image that shows once a book is clicked.

    As sentences are read aloud, they are highlighted in blue.  

  7. Assign books in their own language for reading in-between assignments. - All children need to have something to keep them busy in-between activities.  Too much wait time leads to misbehavior, even for an ELL.  Constant reading of a foreign language can be exhausting.  If they know they have the "reward" of reading a fun book in their own language, they may work more diligently for you.  My first student was from Israel. I spoke with her parents about this, and they were happy to send her to school with one.  The day she brought in the Hebrew version of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, was super exciting for the rest of my students.  For the first time, they saw her language as a real language, like their own.  They saw that she was smart and could read a "chapter book", even though it was not in English.  They also learned that the title of the book was located where we think the back of the book should be.  They turn pages from right to left... a surprising fact for me as well.   
  8. Assign a partner helper.  Each morning, the partner helper took the ELL by the hand for a walk around the room.  They walked with a pen and large sticky note pad. (3rd graders)  The ELL student would point to something and the partner student would say the name several times.  The ELL would try and say the name back.  The partner would write the name of the item (ex door, table, clock, chart) on the large sticky note and attach it.  If you walk in my room when I have a non-English speaking student,  you will see a sea of yellow sticky notes.  This helps the other students as well, basically expanding the Word Wall.  You can find many preprinted sticky notes with common items already listed.  I found mine at Walmart and they were an off-brand.  Here is a copy of some cool Post-It Notes called Flash Sticks on Amazon. Click on the picture to check them out.  I haven't used these, but they are similar.  However, these even have some other languages on them, and the words showing are more abstract like "happy".  I just use plain notes so I can write what I want.      

One last thing to keep in mind, is that you don't have to assign grades to ELLs in the same way that you do for the rest of your class - differentiation for sure!  Check with your school system's policy to find out more specifics, but in our state, they are exempt from a large portion of all standardized testing for a full year as well.  This knowledge may relieve some of your stress.  

As far as classroom grades and report cards, I remember worrying and thinking, "There's no way she can pass any of our test, yet it's just not right that she should have zeros.  What am I to do?" The assessments I give my non-English speaking students are less paper and pencil and more performance assessments.  I take anecdotal notes to serve as my records and I collect writing samples, comparing the beginning of the year to the end, to show growth.  I also give them our county's reading assessment (Founts and Pinnell).  Of course in September, they are "below A".  Usually by the time we return from Christmas break, however they are reading at least at level C, again showing growth.  

For you upper grade teachers... check with your Kinder or 1st grade teachers and get a basic sight word list.  They will have several resources for you.  You will most likely need to start with the learning the alphabet, specifically names, sounds and being able to recognize both upper and lower case letters.  This knowledge will be mastered much more quickly than with a student in kindergarten, because your non-English speaker will have the mind of the age child you normally teach. 

Just remember...

I would love to hear from you...  Have you ever had a student that spoke no English before?  Which of these activities do you feel would be the easiest to implement in your classroom?   Just click on the "comment" button below.

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