Thursday, November 29, 2012

Nonsense Words

I'm not sure about everyone else out there, but I find it hard sometimes coming up with activities that are engaging to practice nonsense words.  Since there is no meaning attached to nonsense words, they are really difficult  for my English Language Learners.  So my thought is that if there is no meaning attached, they at least need to be in a cute game to get the students interested.  I made this Hungry Hippos Game that is fun.  I am trying to encourage my kids to increase their Whole Words Read scores on their DIBELS progress monitoring so when we play the game I give them 3-5 seconds to read the nonsense word or it goes to the next player.  The kids have fun with this challenge.  They also have fun trying to avoid the "hungry" card.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Holiday Math Activities

Oooooohhhh.  I am so excited.  Being new to blogging and new to Teachers Pay Teachers, I am so excited to have two products now listed on TpT.  My newly listed product is all Math and has some cute activities that I like to do with my little monkeys.  You can get it here:


Friday, November 23, 2012

Elf On The Shelf

I have been so excited about doing some Elf On The Shelf activities with my monkeys.  I found some that I liked, but they just didn't quite fit what I wanted.  Sooooo, I decided it was time to create my own unit.  I opened up a Teachers Pay Teachers account and have my first Unit for sale. And guess what?!?!...It's a FREEEBIE!!!  You can get it here
I can't wait to have the Elf get into some mischief for my monkeys to enjoy!
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and survived Black Friday.  
~32 days until Christmas~

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thankful Kids Freebie

Most people think that being thankful is an easy thing to explain, but being "thankful" is kind of an abstract thought to explain to all of my little first graders.  Usually I read a book or two about things that most people appreciate.  I do a lesson on all of the good things about life, both the necessities (like food and a home) and and the little extras that make life fun (like toys and bicycles).  Then I do a  short writing activity with a cute craft.  This is something I created nearly 20 years ago, but I still like it.  You can grab it here.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Phonemic Awareness Tools

My Reading Groups are really making progress this year.  Part of their success is our Phonemic Awareness daily practice.  Here are a few pictures of the tools we use.  In First Grade we blend, segment and substitute individual sounds in words. These same tools can be used at higher levels with multi-syllabic words.

Student Storage

I am blessed to have both a mother and a mother-in-law, who are both amazing and wonderful women. Both  are retired and both love to sew.  My mom specializes in bags and my other mother is a quilter. So up until last year, I had tables in my classroom, not desks.  This created an issue with where my students kept their daily supplies.  We put our heads together and decided to make chair pockets (like the commercial kind but cuter I think).  We had no pattern so we just measured the chairs, picked up some fabric and some elastic and started to sew.  They turned out great and the only problem was we needed stronger fabric as after a few months, the fabric started to wear out..  When that happened, we switched to using a stronger canvas fabric and voila... They work great.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Veteran's Day

Our military does such an crucial job for our country, ensuring our freedom and safety and so much more.  But for first grade students, these are two very important jobs that they can comprehend.  Every year, I am amazed at how my 7 year old kiddos understand this.  So this year, I made the cutest Veteran's Day "soldiers" with my students.
Yesterday, I received an email from one of the parents in my classroom.  One of my little monkeys was so excited that we were learning about veterans that she went home and asked to call her uncle who is serving in the military.  It just so happens that he is going to be in town the week of Thanksgiving and has offered to come and speak with our students.  WHAT AN HONOR!!  So in addition to making the "soldiers", we are going to complete a writing prompt describing a veteran.  Here is a writing paper that I will use with my first grade students.  Enjoy! And God Bless America!


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Classroom Management

This year at our school, we have been focusing on School-wide Classroom Management.  We are doing a book study on the book: Teach Like A Champion by Doug Lemov (Jossey-Bass).
It has been a great resource and we have seen huge changes in the behavior of the children in our school at every grade level.  One thing that we do is that we have high expectations.  We have implemented STARS in each classroom.  S= Sit up; T=Track the speaker; A=Ask & answer questions like a scholar (pertaining to what we are learning); R=Respect & listen; S=Smile.  It is amazing to see 300 plus 1st-4th graders at an assembly go from chatting to silent and sitting up tall when the principal simply says "show me STARS".  Wow! Wow! Wow!  Here is a copy of my updated STARS posters that I shared with our staff.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


I just found a new toy that was recommended by a fellow teacher in our district.  It looks like a lot of fun.. I think my monkeys will love it.  It is called Voki.  The website is
Here is the first one I made to go with Veteran's Day:


This year I am blessed to have a Special Needs child in my classroom.  She is amazingly successful and my other students adore her.  I have always known that students, especially my first grade monkeys, depend on routines to make each day great.  But this to this little girl, routines are crucial. This is a sample of the Morning Routine chart I have created so all my students know what to expect to start the day.

ClassDojo is a fantastic tool that I discovered this past summer and am using this year in my classroom.  The website is: .  Both my students and I feel it is a great tool.  I use it to take daily attendance and monitor both positive and negative behaviors.  It even has mobile capabilities to help me monitor behavior when we are out of the classroom, like at recess or walking in the hallways.  I usually have the ClassDojo website opened on my SmartBoard throughout the school day.

My Morning Message is a brief paragraph where I deliberately make mistakes for my students to find.  I provide hints (the mistakes are in red ink) to make the errors easy to find and correct.  We read and correct the message together.  The message consists of the date, what we are having for specials and lunch, and usually one additional sentence about a special event or maybe pertaining to the day's objectives.  Mistakes may be related to punctuation, spacing between words, reversals, capitalization or spelling.  My monkeys are really great not only at finding the errors, but at telling me what the corrections should be as well as why they need to be corrected. I do my Morning Message on a white board with my Document Camera/Projector.