Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Favorite First Week Read Alouds...

There are SO many amazingly fun Read Alouds...

My friend Katie King posted Leo the Late Bloomer on her facebook fan page recently and it got me thinking about selecting read alouds that help develop and cultivate a classroom culture that is important to me.

This is me...toe-dipping back in to Back To School thoughts...

While hosting Chapter 5 of Teach Like A Pirate, I wrote a non-letter letter to myself that would be like a letter I would hope to receive from a parent or student about what my classroom was all about.

Gina from Third Grade Tidbits (who is hosting a great giveaway this week, btw) suggested I turn my non-letter letter into a printable. preparing this post, I did it. If you'd like it, click the pic...

All fonts from Kimberly Geswein. Background from Digital Bakeshop
Buntings from Cat Lady Graphics.

UPDATE...for those of you who would like to add it to your office door or to another space, here are two other versions. Thanks, Maura, for the idea!

Make sure to select "fit to page" when you're printing to avoid the white border cutting off the edges.

(Advance warning...I think some books posted twice...though I can't see them in my blogger compose mode...since I don't know code I don't know how to fix it. Sorry! )

This culture and community that is so important to me...a culture of persevering when mistakes are where kids want to figure things out where we can crack up together and especially make sure we know that every single one of us counts, has strengths, needs to grow and feels loved and cared for by their peers.

That being said...the read alouds I select should speak to these core values...

Here are books I'm thinking about...

I am completely obsessed with Amy Krouse Rosenthal's books...she is unique, clever and profound. Especially when she partners with Tom Lichtenheld for his illustrations.

I want to read The OK Book within the first days of school...It is SO clever...when you turn the OK vertical, it turns into a stick figure person...the message of the book is "I'm okay at a lot of things. Some day I'll be excellent at some things. I'm having a lot of fun being okay along the way."

There are countless applications to this message!

I'll further develop the culture using one of my very favorite books...

Ish by Peter Reynolds helps build the life-critical concept that just because it's not perfect doesn't mean you shouldn't try. 

Another book I'll use is another life message one by a groovy cat...

Pete the Cat is the most loveable and groovy cat that does not let himself get worked up about obstacles..."It's allllll good."

Pete is the mascot in my classrom...I have a 14ish inch plush Pete attached to my easel helping us all throughout the day try to remember that "it's allll good." At home, my son has a plush Pete that is over 2 FEET tall! We lovvvve Pete!

I'm also excited about reading Leo the Late Bloomer as a way to discuss that we're all currently strong at different things and everyone will develop more strengths at different rates...which is ALLLLLL good! Thanks, Katie, for putting it out there on your page!!! (So many reasons you're fab, girly!)

The last fave that comes to mind is by the amazing Kevin Henkes...

Chrysanthemum is wonderful for so many reasons! I love to use it at the beginning of the year to discuss the harmfulness of teasing.

I would SO love to hear what books you enjoy reading to develop your classroom community!!!

By the way...any time you click the titles of the books, it's a hyperlink to the book on Amazon where you can often see more of it inside. Full disclosure: It's also linked to my Amazon Affiliate pressure...I just do that because if you had been planning to buy it already, why not do it in a way the gives someone a wee credit? I love online shopping off of others' Affiliate links...feel free to leave your link in the comments. :)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Working With Sight Words

Sight Word Automaticity (I love that word!) is an important element of becoming literate.

In this post I'll be focusing on Sight Words...but I feel like if I don't talk a weensy bit about other facets of facilitating literacy that you'll think I overly emphasize Sight here's a nod to some freebies that I use within the Workshop model I use...

Word-Solving Strategies (Click pic to get to my freebie...)

Comprehension Strategies (I love Lyndsey Kuster's freebie posters.)

Fluency Building (Again...a freebie from Lyndsey...she's amazing!)

K...back to Sight Words...

For some beginning readers, learning sight words is easy peasy. For others, it's really challenging. 

Many fall somewhere in the middle, with some words easy, others tricky.

Our district has not adopted a specific spelling program...but here's what we do during our alternating weeks. Last year my turnover day was Thursdays...

Week A...Five high frequency spelling words pre-tested on Thursdays

Week B...Two high utility Chunks/Word Features (chunk/digraph/word family, etc)

Thursdays included a post-test of the previous words/chunks and a pre-test of the new words/chunks.

The post test was self-corrected using a pretty specific method...I will blog about it soon.

Here's a letter of explanation we shared with parents. You are welcome to it, as well! 

The pencil is from Ashley Hughes' freebie Fat Mini Pencils set.
Fonts are from Kim Geswein and Jennifer Jones.

Click here to get it in pdf form. (Uneditable...fonts will look the same as above.)

Click here to get it in an editable Powerpoint. (Editable...but for the fonts to look the same, you need to download: KG Be Still and Know & Jen Jones Hello Millionaire from her Commercial License set.)

Back to spelling/sight word practice...we spend roughly 10 mn of explicit practice time every day for whole class work on sight words/spelling. This practice time might be white board practice, whole body cheers & movement, partner practice, Roll A Word, Roll A Chunk (freebies below), etc.

The next one is in half-page format, but I includes two versions of an answer key to further explain my intentions with the game.

Click either pic to download from Google Docs...the blackline masters and the answer keys are included.

We also work on Sight Words in small group during Guided Reading and Guided Writing...

I tell many firsties gloss over the word and say/spell something close, but not quite...saw for was; like for look; his for has, etc.

This kinda drives me nuts.

So I made a little freebie in June that prompted sweet followers to email me and comment, wanting to know if it would turn into a pack.

Let's just say, after what felt like five million gobzillion hours, it turned into TWO packs...



I have a more extensive blog post about these packs in {THIS POST HERE}, but here's a little preview...

Set 1 has 43 pages of graphs and patterns...

The words on thFind, Tally & Graph pages correspond with the words on the Find, Graph & Answer pages (noted by matching clip art) so you can provide extra practice with the same words. (The answers are different, though)...

Wondering which words are used?
Answer keys in two sizes are included...full page size & quarter page size...

Set 2 includes 27 pages of mixed coin counting...

There are three coin combo versions for each set of words...the page border and coins listed next to the page header help you know which coins are found on the page.

My editors were SO helpful with the answer keys! All of our eyes were googly during the process...but those answer keys will be super helpful to you!

Set 2 also includes full page and quarter page sizes, depending on your printing needs.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

What's your mode?

I am frozen in between not wanting to let go of summer and not wanting to think about going back to school.

Being frozen is not my favorite place to be. It makes me super ADHD and not real productive.

As in...many started, but unfinished projects all over the place. (Which is mildly annoying to my super tidy husband.)


If I avoid BTS thoughts and avoid going in to school then I'm setting myself up to struggle majorly as school gets closer.


If I start allowing BTS thoughts & actions, then I won't be able to help myself...the slope is oh so slippery.

Being "kind of" pregnant is impossible.

For me, so is being "kind of" in BTS mode.

I'm thinking I'll give myself another two weeks and then I'll jump on the BTS bandwagon in thoughts & actions.

School was done June 10th for my district...we go back for Teachers College Reading & Writing Project staff development the week of August 19th. Then it's BTS week for teachers the following week. Students arrive the Tuesday after Labor Day.

What's your mode??

Thursday, July 18, 2013

July Mystery Box Giveaway!!!

Here we go again!

Up to no good.

Sending super fun snail mail. ($30 worth.)

And fabulous digital products. ($30 worth.)

To one lucky U.S. Resident winn-uh, winn-uh, chicken dinn-uh!




July Edition.

You can enter by visiting, following and commenting on each of the above blogs and then filling out your rafflecopter entries.

U.S. Residents only, please.

Will YOUR name be filled in for July's Mystery Box???

What's inside the box???

Let's just say...kuh-yewt and happy! Practical, a fun sort of way!'ll have to wait until the big reveal...

Good luck!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

June Mystery Box Reveal....

The snail mail Mystery Box has arrived! 

BIG Congrats again to Amber for being our June Mystery Box winner.
Time for the BIG reveal...

While Amber was patiently waiting, we each sent her some goodies from our TpT Shops. 
Here's the June Mystery Box goodies unveiled.  
So what was inside?
From top left to bottom right here's what she won!
~Quaker Real Medleys Peach Almond Oatmeal ~ 
Every teacher needs a good breakfast and these are great on the go morning meals. 

~Reusable Shopping Bag ~ 
Can never have too many cute bags. 

~Arbonne After Sun Lotion ~ 
Soak up those rays Amber

~PaperMate Flair Pens ~ 
If you haven't tried're welcome. They are a must have!

~Pick Your Plum Chevron Infinity Scarf ~ 
Do you know Pick Your Plum? If not, you've got to check them out. Daily deals on the cutest stuff! 
Who doesn't love some fun, fresh summer nail polish and a polka dot emery board too?

"Some People Look for a Beautiful Place. Others Make a Place Beautiful" notepad mousepad. We just loved the words. 

And, of course a container of EOS lip balm...a summer fave!
So, there you have it! 
A whole lot of summer goodness in a cute little box!
Super happy for our winners, but wanting another chance?
Don't worry. 
We're not done yet...This is too fun!

Be sure to check back sometime very soon (It's a mystery you know?) for July's Mystery Box Giveaway hosted by another one of  these sensational bloggers.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Throwback Thursday ---- Volume Levels

I'm linking of with Cara's wonderful Throwback Thursday Linky today with a post that I found because even though we don't go back until the end of August, I'm starting to...don't throw tomatoes...get a weensy bit into BTS mode. (Back To School)

Am I the only one or are you a little bit with me?

With that being said, I peeked at my August posts and found this one that I thought I'd share....maybe you're getting into BTS mode, too.

Here goes...

Originally posted on August 5, second EVER blog post!

I've seen some pretty fantastic volume level charts on some of the blogs. Hadar from Miss Kindergarten has them on this post. They're also on Katie's from Little Warriors on this post.

My craftiness has changed (drastically) since I had children, but the desire to create is still pretty strong. Projects that I can do in one (or two) sittings appeal to me. So does cute! So, I recently bought some fab backgrounds, frames and clip art from a variety of fabulous designers (go to the bottom of the post to see who) and wanted to make some of my own. 

Picture insertion from today, not August, show the additional version...


Click here to get to it on TpT.

And, the cutie patootie digital stuff I've purchased recently have come from:
Mygrafico - Digital Arts and Crafts Store

Since then, I've also made a few more designs...

A black and white series that can be found by clicking here...

A brights series that can be found by clicking here...

Thanks for joining me on this throwback post! I'd love to hear how you manage voice levels in your classroom!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Favorite Pins Friday & A Sale

I'm linking up with the lovely and sweet Cara (do I really even NEED to say she's from The First Grade Parade??? Guessing you already knew....cuz she's THAT fabulous!) with her Favorite Pins Friday linky.

Here are some of my favorite pins (go ahead and follow me on pinterest along the right side if you'd like)...

From my School Stuff board:

Water bottle cages attached to chair legs to hold water bottles! Love this! We're tripping over water bottles left and right in my classroom. BUT, they're a necessity since we don't have air conditioning at our school. Our first floor rooms on the blacktop side of the building are generally 85-90 degrees....and we're downstairs. Bless those upstairs teachers' souls.

No website is listed for this particular pin...if you know where it came from, please let me know...I'd love to give credit!
What a great idea! A bike water bottle holder is attached to the legs of the desks! Desktops are clear and students are hydrated.

I love my friend Susan Moran over at Thank God Its First Grade (hope her cross-country move is going well!)....she posted this sweet freebie that I plan to try out...
Have your students meet with their parents and discuss all the reasoning and meaning behind their name! This is a fun activity we do at the beginning of the year to help students get to know themselves and each other a little better! It also allows for a fun bonding experience between your student and their parents.

I'm obsessed with all things chalkboard. In fact, I'm in the middle of a bloggy make-over and can't WAIT for the big reveal of Growing Firsties - chalkboard style!!! Only a few weeks out! :)

That said, when my friend Lyndsey Kuster from A Year of Many Firsts put these out I just about wept with how adorable they are!
Alphabet Card Set and Word Wall Set

Sometimes when I'm working on Character Traits with students or for a TpT product, I get stuck thinking of the same old traits. This next freebie is great to have on hand! It's from the blogger behind Workshop Classroom. You can get to it on TpT by clicking the picture.
Character Traits in Categories- Free on TpT!

All year long my class used (and loved) these Partner Picking Cards from Making It As A Middle School Teacher. You can get to them on TpT by clicking the picture.
Partner Picking Cards!

From my Crafty Stuff board...

Turning toddler scribbles into art....I have loads of these types of papers and love this idea from Squash Blossom Babies.
Turn Toddler Scribbles into Art

I intended to do this last year and never's from La Classe Della Maestra Valentina...I can't understand a word of the blog (I think it's in Italian?) but I sooo love the idea and am thinking I'll have my daughter make one.
Fall trees Q-tip painting! was a BLAST to shop my own pins! Hoping to link up a few more times for this fun linky! Thanks for hosting!

If you'd like to see what else I'm here to follow me on Pinterest. Or the P under the flower button along the top right works, too.

In case you've had your eye on some of my TpT products, I'm having a Star Spangled Sale along with a bunch of other lovely can get to my store by clicking the pic below....

And, thanks Tammy & Christy at Fluttering Through First Grade for the fun graphic!
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