Thursday, 14 July 2016

Classroom Decor Products -- Chalkboard & Brights, Rustic Burlap, or Rainbow Polka Dot!

The end of this school year has me full of mixed feelings.... I'm so excited to finally be on summer holidays and doubly excited to get to spend all of next year on maternity with Zoe and Baby Boy (who is due in 3.5 weeks... say what?!). But at the same time, I'm sad that I don't get to set up and decorate my new classroom! If you saw my classroom reveal last year, you saw that I had to move out of my classroom and into the junior high science lab because of construction at our school. Here are some of pics of last year's classroom:

It turned out to be an amazing space and I loved the chalkboard & brights theme that I created and decorated with. Well the construction finished up in mid-June, so after students were done on the 28th, a bunch of us got to move classrooms. (I think it was a total of 8 teachers moving classrooms, 3 teachers moving to new schools, and 4 new teachers moving in... All in a staff of like 18 teachers. lol. Craziness!). The two kindergarten teachers got brand-new classrooms and I got to move into one of the old kindergarten classrooms. It is so big with sooooo much storage! Unfortunately I don't have any pictures yet... that will have to wait until next summer! ;)

I'm planning on sticking with the chalkboard & brights theme when I go back, but will probably create some new things for it. I started by making a chalkboard & brights version of my "Where Are You? Hanging Posters" and "Dolch Sight Words". If you are interested in any of my chalkboard & brights products, click here!

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I had some requests for some of products in a Rustic Burlap theme with a D'Nealian font. They turned out so cute if you are doing a rustic/farmhouse themed classroom. These are the products I've created so far. If you are interested in any other products in a burlap theme, send me an email ( and I would love to create something for you! I can also do any of the D'Nealian products with a regular type of font if you are interested. :) Check the products out here!

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I also have some rainbow polka dot themed products available as well!! Click here to check them out!

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What is your classroom theme going to be next year? Are you changing things up or staying with the same? Leave a comment below with a link! I'd love to see all your classroom pictures. :)

Friday, 8 July 2016

Kwik Stix & Pencil Grip Review & Giveaway

Hey everybody! Having a great summer so far? You know what would make your summer even better... a giveaway! The lovely folks over at The Pencil Grip company sent me a couple of their products to try out and are offering one of my readers a little prize as well!

One of the products they sent me was a 12-pack of Kwik Stix. I had seen these on a few other blogs and was really excited to try them out!

Kwik Stix are tempera paint sticks in a marker-like form. They need no water, dry super quickly, come in tons of vibrant colours, and are SUPER easy to use! 

On the second last day of school, my students were having some free time at the end of the day, so I put out the Kwik Stix and some regular white paper and invited my students to try the paints out. I instantly had about 10 kids swarm the tables to try them out. They loved how easy they were to use and how smooth they were to write or draw with. 

Because they dry so quickly (it says 90 seconds, but it's almost instant!), the students were able to layer the colours to make some really interesting paintings. One boy drew an amazing night sky with the black and white paints. 

One of my sweeties also wrote me a little good-bye note with the paints. "Have a good baby!" Hehe. Love it!

The Pencil Grip company also sent me their 3 Step Training Kit. The kit contains three different grips: the Crossover Grip, the Pinch Grip, and the Pencil Grip. I didn't have a chance to use it this year, but I will definitely keep it in mind for my students next year! It's a three-step system to correct a student's pencil grip. This will definitely be helpful with the students who need some help with how they hold pencils. 

The Pencil Grip company is generously offering to give away one pack of their Kwik Stix 12pk in Assorted Colors. This will instantly become an essential classroom tool! I'm even planning on letting my 2-year-old create some beautiful artworks with them!

To win this pack of Kwik Stix, visit both First Grade Garden and The Pencil Grip, Inc. on Facebook. The giveaway will end in one week. I will announce the winner on Saturday, July 16th. Good luck! Enter on the Rafflecopter below.

In addition, everyone has the opportunity to get 15% off their total purchase at The coupon is good until 5/27/17. Just go to the Shop for any of their awesome products (I'm looking at the neon and metallic Kwik Stix next). Then enter the coupon code: YOUWIN15 at checkout to automatically receive 15% off your total purchase.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Explore Tubs -- Social Studies Edition!

Explore Tubs have been a huge hit in my classroom. I love them because it gives my students a chance to play and explore, but keeps the activities related to the science curriculum! Basically Explore Tubs are early finisher tubs that are filled with science related activities. You can read more about my explore tubs here:

This is how I have them set up right now.We are in the middle of our "Objects and Materials" unit. The purple tub houses our books for the unit, the middle tubs are my six Explore Tubs, and the last two tubs are LEGO and Blocks from our indoor recess shelf. They fit with our unit, so I let my students "explore" with those as well!

Here are my students in action exploring with these science tubs:


I have only planned my science tubs so far, but half-way into the year I thought, "I need to make some tubs for Social Studies and Health as well!" I teach these three subjects in blocks, so when we don't have science, we don't have explore tubs! Well that is about to change. I have started planning my social studies tubs for next years! Here is my first set for our unit on Manitoba & Canada.

*Canada Books: Why I Love Canada, Our Canadian Flag, Good Morning, Canada, Goodnight, Canada, ABC of Canada, M is for Maple, Canada from Above, Oh, Canada!, Canada 123, I Am Canada

*Canada Puzzles: I found mine at the local dollar stores... check yours! But I also found this neat floor puzzle on Amazon.

*Canadian Symbol BINGO {by me on TpT}

*Pick a Stick Canada Game {freebie found here}: Students choose a stick and have to find that province/territory on the map and place a cube on it. You can also play this game BUMP style--just keep putting the sticks back into the cup or make a couple sets of the sticks.

*Book about Canadian Money: Loonies and Toonies
*Canadian play money {Amazon or Scholar's Choice}
*Canadian Money Pattern Cards {by me on TpT}: Students use the play money to finish the repeating patterns.

*Provincial & Territorial Symbol Puzzles {by me on TpT}: Students match up the flag, flower/tree, and animal/bird to the province or territory. The names of the provinces are on the back of the card so it's a fun self-checking activity!
*Canada Word Search {found on -- you need to sign up to download}

*Find It Canadian Edition {found from Scholar's Choice or Amazon}
*Question Cards {freebie found here}: Students choose a card and have to try to find the object inside the game tube.

Stay tuned for my Community Tubs (teaching this unit next month!), my I Belong Tubs (for September), and my Christmas Around the World Tubs (December). My health units will be Safety Tubs (Fire Safety & Bus Safety in October), Nutrition & Health Tubs (March), and Dental Health (April).

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Daily Schedule - Author Study

Each month I focus on a different author and read lots of books by them. I try to expose my students to authors they might not know or gravitate towards. I find that after our author study, students look for those authors at the library or fill their book boxes with books we have read in class. Here is my general yearly plan for which authors I like to study:

I try to pick my author of the month for February based on the theme for "I Love to Read Month". For example, this year our focus was on oral reading, so I chose to do Robert Munsch for February seeing as he is an amazing oral storyteller. You can hear him read most of his stories on his website. I invited parents to come in to read their favourite Robert Munsch story to the class. It's fun for them to hear other adults read out loud! Then I'll just fill in June this year with someone different--maybe Laura Numeroff.

There are other authors that I love that I might do instead--it all depends on the year and my mood! I also like: Laura Numeroff, Curious George, Franklin, Splat the Cat, Doreen Cronin, Leo Lionni, Fancy Nancy, etc. I have a bulletin board in my classroom library that I switch up each month with our author:

Some days I just read and discuss a book by the author, and other days we might do a writing activity or craft. Here are some of my author study packs I use:



Don't forget to check out the other parts of my Daily Schedule posts. Just click on any part of the picture below to check out how I structure my day:

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Monday, 28 March 2016

Daily Schedule - Theme

I teach my science, social studies, and health in blocks. I try to make sure I cover one unit from each subject each term (Sept-Nov, Dec-Mar, Apr-June). Here's a little monthly break down of how I split up the different curriculums: 

I usually have about an hour for theme (some days a half-hour), so I usually break my time into three parts: the lesson, interactive journals, and explore tubs.

I tend to read a lot of books to introduce topics and ideas. Then we might do an activity, such as these below, to reinforce the concept.

Bucket filling/bucket dipping sort in pocket chart.

Thinking of questions or wonderings we had about weather or seasons.

Rules/laws sort on the SMARTboard. 

Watch a music video about a topic such as plants. 
(Harry Kindergarten has lots of great science videos!)

Make a graph about our class eye colours.

Then we usually do a page in our interactive journals. My students have two journals--one for science and a combined one for social studies/health. I use these packs for our journals:


Here's an example of a design project we did. Students made their plans in their notebook, then got to build a device to protect one of their senses!

Then when they are done their journal (because some are often faster than others!), they get to choose from one of six explore tubs. Right now I only have them for science, but I'm planning how to incorporate these in social studies and health as well!!

You can read more about my explore tubs here:

Exploring shadows.

Seasons puzzles and sort.

Dress the weather kid.

Check out the rest of my daily schedule posts by clicking the picture below.

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