Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Huge Birthday Giveaway

Let's face it. We're teachers. We love a good deal.  We love a good sale.  We love to shop.  We love free stuff.  Well yesterday was Laura at Love to Teach's birthday.  She is throwing a huge birthday celebration and giveaway over at her blog until Friday night.  And I mean HUGE!

To start off she's giving away a $30 TPT gift card along with some pre-selected packs and some winner's choice selections from 19 bloggers!!   My Suncatchers {The Bundle} is one of the products that you can win as part of her large pack of TPT giveaway items.  There are tons of great products from those 19 bloggers.

But that's not it. She's also giving away away a $75 gift card to Target AND another $75 gift card to Amazon!!! HOLY. SMOKES. BATMAN! Who wouldn't want to win this giveaway?! I know I do.

You can earn up to 50 entries between now and Friday so be sure to click here to head over to her blog.

I've been in a groove lately and have been able to get quite a few "creations" for TPT checked off of my To Do list.  Here are some new products that have been added to my store lately that I haven't had a chance to blog about yet. I'm hoping to do so posts on each one here soon.  

First up, Autograph Bookmarks.  I created these to hold my firsties more accountable for their independent and buddy reading time during Daily 5.   I have them write the book titles that they've read on the front or I just have them record who they've been reading to during Read to Someone time on both sides.  There 5 different color versions and those versions are also in black and white.  I have one template of lines if you want to make the bookmarks two-sided to last longer.  

I just finished this baby last night.  I LOVE this pack! I love the displays that you can create with the variety of printables in it, but more importantly I love the meaning behind it all. Gives me chills just thinking about it.  I know it's a little late to do this pack this year, but it's still 48 hours new so it's still 50% off for the next day.  Get ready for next year for only $2.00.

There are honor bricks that you can send home with your kiddos about a week before Veteran's Day.  They can fill these out with their families at home for the veterans that they know.  You can send home a general "brick" or a specific brick for each branch of service, with or without a picture. Once the kids bring them back in you can hang them in the hallway as a display or mount on butcher paper to make a large poster.  There are picture cards to graph how many veterans from each branch that your class knows, as well as posters and information sheets for each branch.  If you want to give some fun facts about each branch of service there is a poster and fun fact sheet to share with the kids. Finally, the kids can color their own American Flag, USA, and Thank You sheets that again can be mounted to butcher paper and/or staggered on the wall to make a "quilt-like" display.

These Rainbow Cart Labels have made it so much easier for my firsties to find their Daily 5 choices.  

I have also added a monthly spelling pretest and test packet for 10 spelling words.  I copy the pretest on the back of the test to save on paper and just keep them in a special place until week take the test the following week.

Finally, I think it's safe to say that we all love Mo Willems and that ornery little pigeon.  I made a little craftivity pack for my firsties to make the pigeon, a "Don't Let the Pigeon ____" class book, as well as a labeling and graphing activity.

Sorry for the overload, but it's been awhile since I actually sat down and dedicated some time to a blog post.  Until next time...

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

I'm so excited to be linking up with Miss DeCarbo for my second Wordless Wednesday!

I co-teach with The Crazy Schoolteacher. She's supposed to find out what she's having today... The classes predicted a boy. What's your prediction? #hopingforagirlbutitsprobablyaboy

Sunday, October 26, 2014

I {HEART} Spelling! This is How We Do It...

Are you singing along with Montell and I?  Great song.  Even better? Spelling. I LOVE spelling. I have loved it since I was a kid.  It was my favorite subject, besides reading of course.  So naturally when I became a teacher it was one aspect that I loved to teach and wanted to make it special for my firsties so that they would love it as much as I did/do.

I am a firm believer in individualized spelling lists. I think it's important that each child is working on those important skill words that we learn about each week, but also important that they are not spending the week practicing words that they already know.  To many, this can sound like a daunting, time-consuming task.  However, it doesn't have to be.  My setup for spelling has evolved over the years and I must say that I am completely happy with it right now and I don't think it takes too much longer to put together and grade than a traditional spelling test.  But then again, this is how I've always done it so I don't really know any different.  So let's get on with it.

Obviously the first week that we do spelling for the school year the kids only take a pretest.  I give every student the first 10 words of the spelling list.  Every weekly list has 20 words total, but each student only gets 10 words to learn for the week.  The first 10 words of the list consist of 8 skill words and 2 vocabulary words for the first week.  Every week after that words 1-6 are skill words, 7-8 are review skill words from the week before, and 9-10 are vocabulary words for that week.

That first week, once they are done with their pretest, they turn it in.  I will then "grade" each child's pretest to see which words they got right and which words they got wrong.  I circle missed words on the pretest.  Any words missed are the first of their ten words that they will learn for the next week.  Then for however many more words the student needs to get to ten words, is how many words from the second 10 words on the list that I include.  I write the numbers of the words on the back side of their pretest, which also serves as their test page.  For example, if Charlie gets #1 & #7 wrong, I will write #1 and #7 first on their test side, and then begin at #11 from the main list and go until that student has ten words.

Grading Pretests

Graded Pretest & Words Circled on Individual Lists

Individual numbers for their individual spelling words are recorded on test side.

Final look at spelling test and two individual lists-one to go home that day, one to keep at school

If a student gets all of their 10 pretest words correct, the will get the second ten words on the list.  Words #11-18 are harder skill words, #19-20 are two "challenge words".  These words are usually seasonal words, the current month, monthly holidays, etc. 

The last thing that I do is to prepare two lists for my firsties with their words circled.  One list is for them to take home with them that day so that they can practice at home.  The second list I will hold onto until Monday and give to them to use for their morning work spelling practice that we do or for their Word Work station during Daily 5.  I keep their pretest/test papers in a designated spot in my room until we need them the following Friday.  You can check out my Independent Morning Work Spelling Activities here.

This little back table from IKEA is where I set everyone's new spelling list for the week on Mondays. They know that first thing in the morning on Monday they need to go find their list and keep it in their To Do folder.

You may notice that there is a dictation sentence spot at the bottom of the test.  This is a test that we did just a week or two ago.  I don't give a dictation sentence on the test until the kids have gotten used to the format and routine of spelling tests in our classroom.  I wait until about week 6 or 7 to give a dictation sentence.

Now I know a lot of you may be wondering how the actual test taking process goes and what it looks like.  I won't lie. The first couple of weeks can be a challenge for my firsties, but if you go through it all slowly and are walking around monitoring the kids while you give the words they catch on really quick.  Obviously the pretest is pretty smooth sailing because everyone has the first ten words.  It's when you get to the test when everyone has different words where it gets tricky.  Honestly, it's just a matter of the kids making sure that they're listening for their numbers and following along.  During the actual test all of the kids are given their test paper and I read through all twenty words, one at a time.  It is their job to follow along and if I say a number that is written on their test, then they need to write that word down on the matching line.  If that number isn't written on their test, then they don't write it down.  Many parents are apprehensive at first when I'm describing this at parent night, but I just reassure them and tell them to have faith.  Kids are very adaptive and they catch on quickly. By week 3 almost, if not all, of my firsties have got it!

The last thing that I wanted to add was that when I'm grading the tests, I use my Cookie Spellers pack as an added incentive for my firsties to do well on their spelling test.  You can check that pack out here.  I highly recommend it. It's another one of my favorites!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Don't Be Scared of these Savings

Some of the Indiana teacher bloggers have a great freebie hop and $1 sale going on right now! Click here to go to the hop.

Here are my featured $1 items that you can snatch up...

Enjoy the freebies and $1 steals! I would love if you would follow my blog and TPT store if you're a first timer!

Happy shopping!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sun Catchers Plus a FREEBIE

Well, you can certainly tell that I'm back to school. I haven't blogged in a month. Insert sad face. My goal was to be better once the school year started. Looks like that goal isn't going so well.  So here's to being positive and trying to do better since the madness of the beginning of the year has is quickly dwindling down and the monotonous routines of the school year have commenced.  Can I just say that this is my 7th year teaching and this may have been one of worst, and by that I mean busiest, start to a school year yet.  Seriously. It's been fifty shades of cray-cray.  Thank goodness all of "my shows" have officially come back for the year. I mean it's almost been 5 months since an episode of Scandal.  I was seriously starting to shake from withdrawal (not really, of course). But you feel my pain I'm sure.

I've been fortunate enough to have windows in all of my classrooms.  Some let in more natural light than others, but it's still so nice to be able to see the outside world with a turn of my head.  I've learned from blogging that this is not always the case for all of you. I don't know how those of you that don't have windows in your classroom do it. It really should be illegal to not have windows in a classroom.  Getting back on track,  I like to use as much space as possible in my classroom to hang any sort of educational posters and/or decor.  I love crafts, especially seasonal crafts.   I always have clothespins hanging from the ceiling so that I can hang different student work throughout the year.  I've found a way to use that beautiful natural light and still be able to liven up the room with some seasonal crafts and decor.

Enter my sun catchers.  They are easy to make and the kids LOVE them.  Plus, once you send them home they make great keepsakes for parents to hold onto to show their kids when they get older.  I know my parents did that for each year that I was in school and then gave it to me at my high school graduation as one of my presents.  It was SO fun to go back through each year and look at some of the work I did, both cute and hilarious.  It was surprising how many of the actual crafts that I actually remembered doing.  Honestly the hardest part about the sun catchers is the time consuming part of cutting the contact paper down to size, especially since each student will need two pieces, and cutting the tissue paper into small squares.  But if you have an eager parent that would love to help out that's the route I usually go.  I will typically cut one piece to the size that I need it to be and send the roll of contact paper and number of pieces I need home for the parent to do there.  I would just be sure to send it home a couple of days before you really need it to give them plenty of time.

The easy part is left to you. Just copy the template onto colored construction paper and you're ready to go.  The kids can cut out the template on the outside and the inside.  If you want the kids to add some additional features to some of the templates you can provide other colored pieces of construction paper for them to draw and cut out they own.  For example, I usually cut small green squares and a small black or brown square for each child to draw their own leaf and stem to cut out and add to their sun catcher.

So here's a breakdown of the actual making process.
The kids cut out the template.  Kids peel back one piece of contact paper and lay it sticky side up on their desk (some of your kiddos may need help with this). Lay the cut out template on the sticky side of the contact paper. Fill in the empty space on the inside of the template with tissue paper squares.  Once the inside of the template is filled in, peel back the other contact paper and lay on top of the template sticky side down.  Flatten out and press out air bubbles as much as possible.  Then cut the template out again from the contact paper. Then voila! You have a beautiful sun catcher to pretty up your room.

I have added 4 packs of sun catchers to my TPT store: a fall, December, winter, and spring pack.  I'm working on a couple more templates to add to some of these packs and hope to have those done by the end of this weekend.  I'll also be working on bundling all of the packs together.  You can see each of the packs below.

And finally for the FREEBIE! I'm sure many of you are familiar with this cute little phrase.  I've seen different versions on Pinterest, but wanted one to match my color scheme in my own classroom.  Of course I couldn't make up my mind as to which background I liked best, so for all you other indecisive teachers out there I went ahead and included all the different backgrounds in the freebie pack.  Hopefully you can find one that works for you!  Enjoy!

P.S. Tomorrow is the first day of October! Ahhhhh!  Because we all know what the topic of student conversations will be for the next 31 days.