Tuesday 28 May 2013

Next School Year... {Linky}

I'm linking up with Kim over at Finding Joy in 6th Grade. I still have 22 days left of this school year, but I can't help thinking about next year already! How will I decorate my new room? What will I do differently? What will I do the same? Kim's link up is perfect to start thinking about all those things! Here are my top 5 things I want to differently next year... Check out Kim's blog!

joyin6th Homepage

#1: With my new *PERMANENT* teaching position, that means I can finally move all of my classroom stuff to school and leave it there! The past few years I have left my spare room full of tubs and boxes and books and craft stuff, so I didn't have to move it from classroom to classroom. I would just take it to school as I needed it and bring it back when I was done. But now I will be able to leave it in my new classroom. I'm sure the bf will be happy to be rid of all my stuff! :)

#2: This year my math block was from 1:00-2:00pm. I wanted to keep my calendar time in my math block, so we didn't do the calendar until 1:00pm. I always felt like it was kind of late. We go half the day before turning the date on the calendar. I'm hoping that next year's schedule works out to have my math block first thing in the morning! We will have to see though!

#3: I really slacked on the Daily 5 math this year. I tried, I failed. I just couldn't get the timing right. I had so many pull out groups (literacy support, reading recovery, math recovery, math support, speech, theme writing....) You name it, we had it. There is always someone out of my room. I also found it hard to do with 27 kiddos. Maybe it'll be easier with 21 next year? I can hope!

#4: My Daily 5 centres work very well. The kids are trained and engaged. I just need to work some more on the content of my small group lessons.

#5: I have been wanting to start a classroom blog for a while now and I feel next year will be a great time to start! Unfortunately our division hasn't worked out their blog policies yet, so I can't have a real "blog", but I will be using a wiki that the division has created for me. Of course I have "cute-sified" the wiki to work up to my standards, but it's still not quite the same as a blog. I am looking forward to updating the parents of my students weekly to show them what we have been working on in class! I think it will be a great communication tool!

Well, that's it for now! I still have 2 weeks of zoo animals to get through, then 3 weeks of summer/camping fun! I know these last 5 weeks are just going to fly right by. Then I will be moving into my new classroom and starting my summer vacation! Have a great week, every one!

Monday 20 May 2013

Measurement Centres {with freebies} and an Announcement!

We are in the midst of a little measurement mini-unit in math right now. I put together 6 hands-on measurement centres for the kiddos to work on and they are having a blast with all the fun manipulatives! Here is what we are working on:

Centre #1: Measure a Friend {estimation & nonstandard length}

This is a fantastic freebie from Crazy for First Grade. I chose the nonstandard units (pencils and links) that the students needed to use to measure the length of their friend. First they had to estimation, then they could measure!

Centre #2: Measuring Penny {nonstandard length & width}

We read the adorable book Measuring Penny by Loreen Leedy and complete this adorable craft and measuring activity from Primary Junction's Second Grade Common Core Measurement Unit. We did the craft on a different day--I just had them do the measuring part as a centre. They had to use four nonstandard items (cubes, pencils, crayons, and paperclips) to measure the length and width of Penny the dog.

Centre #3: Farmer's Market {estimation & nonstandard length}

This is another centre from Primary Junction's Second Grade Common Core Measurement Unit. Students choose some fruits or vegetables from the market, make an estimation, and then measure the length with cubes. Primary Junction's activity has them measure with inches, but I just had my first graders use cubes to measure.

Centre #4: Rock Balance {estimation & nonstandard weight}

This cute freebie is from the awesome Reagan over at Tunstall's Teaching Tidbits. We had five rocks labelled A, B, C, D, and E. Students estimated how many bear counters would balance each rock. Then they measured! The students loved working with the balance scale. So much fun!

Centre #5: How Much Coffee? (or How Much Soda?) {estimation & nonstandard volume}

This was a freebie that I created. All you need is three different size cups... I went to my local Tim Hortons and asked for some cups. They were eager to share! I made two different versions... one to use with coffee cups or one to use with drink cups (ex. McDonalds). I wrote sizes on the bottom of the cup (S, M, and L). Students estimated how many cubes would fill up the cup. Then they filled it up and counted the number of cubes. Easy to set up and lots of fun! {Download recording sheets here.}

Centre #6: High Five! {nonstandard area}

This was another simple freebie I created. Students trace their hand on the recording sheet, then use different pattern blocks to fill in the area of their hand. {Download here.}

There you have it! A fun week of hands-on measurement activities!

Now onto my announcement.... if you've been following me for a while, you know that I have been moving from school to school so far, just covering terms and maternity leaves. I have been teaching for 6 years and I have been in 5 different schools, not including my year of subbing! Well finally it has come... I have been offered a permanent Grade 1 teaching position! I will be changing schools again, but then that will be it! I will finally have my own, permanent classroom that I get to stay in forever(ish)!! Yay! I am beyond excited! I can't wait to get in there and share some pictures with you! It's a bit smaller than my previous classrooms, but I don't care because it is mine! :)

Well enjoy your week everyone! We only have 27 days left.... yikes! Yes, that must seem a lot to you who are already done or are down to the one-digits... but we still have so much to cover! How will we get it all done?? Stay tuned!

Friday 10 May 2013

Five for Friday {with a free app suggestion}

Oh what a week! I've been down, I've been up, I've been around the block and back! It's Friday though and I am ecstatic to be at home for two days. (Plus I got good news today... I will be teaching Grade 1 again next year... but it's not quite official yet, so I'm keeping it to myself for now!!) I am linking up with Doodle Bugs again for her fabulous linky to share some randoms from the week.

1. I saw this pin here for a Mother's Day card and I just loved the flower sticking out of it! I brought some of my girly scrapbook paper to school to create these cute cards. The kids wrote sweet messages and drew pictures for their mom on the inside. I took a picture of each student pretending to hold flowers, then we glue the picture to the front with a fake flower. So easy and cute! :)

2. Another pinterest-inspired Mother's Day craft was our gift (pinned from here). I picked up a variety of pot holders from the dollar store and some fabric paint. We painted the kids hands in the middle and attached a recipe for mother's love (freebie from Susan at TGIF). They turned out adorable!

3. I finally decided to let my kiddos to let my kiddos take home their grassheads. (Really I was just tired of having to water them every day... lol) So at the end of the day we opened our hair salon and cut our grass heads' hair! They loved it!

4. We are working on measurement in math right now. This fun activity was from Primary Junction's Second Grade Common Core Measurement Unit. We traced our hand and foot and measured them with unifix cubes. Very hands-on!

5. Here's a new free app for you to try... for iPads or iPhones/iPod Touches. It's called A+ Spelling Tests. You can input your own spelling/sight word lists and there is a record button so you can record your voice saying each word. It's super easy to use! There is a scramble game where students hear the word and have to unscramble the letters or there is a spelling test where students hear the word then they have to spell it. Try it out if you haven't heard of it before!

Enjoy your weekend! :)

Tuesday 7 May 2013

Phonics Instruction

Yesterday I posted my new phonics cards that I am so excited about! I have them all printed out, waiting to be laminated at school! I had a question about the order I teach phonics skills in, so I thought I would share that with you as well! If you want to check out my phonics cards, click the picture below. I have also created a preview that shows all 120 cards included in the pack. Each card is approximately 3.5"x3.5".

The way I teach phonics is based on a program that I was inserviced on called "Cracking the Code". I start the year by going over all the consonant sounds and the short vowel sounds. Every day we practice the sounds as a whole group. I shuffle the letter cards (so they are not in the same order). Then I say "t says /t/" and the students echo me. "l says /l/", etc. We make sure that the sounds are short, so it doesn't sound like we are adding a vowel to the end. Sometimes we make little scissors with our fingers to "cut it off" short. We also add actions to the short vowel sounds to help us remember them:

a says /a/ like apple (pretend to bite an apple)
e says /e/ like elephant (make an elephant trunk with arm)
i says /i/ like igloo (shiver and rub arms)
o says /o/ like octopus (make octopus tentacles with fingers)
u says /u/ like umbrella (pretend to hold an umbrella, or point up)

I find that this really helps students with sounding out words in their writing. If they are writing "big" and get stuck on the /i/ sound, I might remind them of the action to help them figure out the letter. It works great!

After a few weeks of the consonants and short vowels, I add in the common digraphs (sh, ch, wh, and th). I refer to the pictures a lot. /ch/ sounds like cheese. /sh/ sounds like shhhhh! I also introduce -ing right away as well, because this is a very common ending in the early guided reading books. I also add in the soft/hard c and g sounds too.

Then I get into beginning/ending blends. I might spend a week working on a few that go together (like br, cr, dr, fr). I introduce a few new cards into the pile at a time. I keep doing the cards in the same fashion--I say "s-h says /sh/", then the kids echo--but with all the new cards I introduce as well. I might not do it everyday, but a few times a week. We will usually do some sort of phonics work to go with it as well (Abby has a great word work packs and an awesome blends pack). I usually stick with the short vowels and beginning/ending blends until about Christmas time.

After Christmas I focus on the long vowel sounds. I usually teach the two big "rules"--silent e and when two vowels go walking. This usually covers most long vowel pairs. Now, this doesn't mean I don't mention silent e before this. When I'm modelling writing during a writer's workshop mini-lesson, I say outloud everything I am thinking. So I talk about silent e, two vowels, oi/oy, etc. even if we haven't really "learned" them yet. This sets the foundation and helps the students who are ready to try these things in their reading or writing.

Once I have spent time on the long vowels, I get into the r-control words (or/ar/er/ir/ur). Then I move into dipthongs (ow/ou/aw/au/oi/oy/ew/oo). Near the end of the year I focus on other things, like contractions and compound words. Depending on the group of students, I might also introduce the endings -tion and -sion, but not necessarily. I never give up the basic letter sounds, I just add to them.

Now, I am not an expert on phonics instruction, but this is what has worked for me! I find the key is repetition, repetition, repetition! A lot more goes into our phonics instruction... we do independent work, we play fun activities at starfall.com on the Mimio,  we do some phonics word work activities during Daily 5, and we do some reinforcing/reteaching during our guided reading lessons as well.

Somedays after doing our phonics card echo/chant, I would use the cards to do some making words activities. At the beginning of the year we would stick to CVC words. I would place three cards on the whiteboard ledge: consonant, vowel, consonant. We would sound out the word together. Sometimes we would play real vs. nonsense. I would make a little scoreboard on the whiteboard. Each time we sound out the word, we would determine if it was real or nonsense and then put a tally on the scoreboard. Lots of fun! Once we started learning the blends and long vowels, we could use those cards to make words as well. Here is what it would look like:

I also created a little recording sheet for students to record words we have made. You could also put a set of the phonics cards into a station and let students make their own words! Click the picture to download your own recording sheet.

(frame by Bubbly Borders)

Well I hope this has been interesting/informative/something to think about... How do you teach phonics? Do you use a specific program or have your own order?

Monday 6 May 2013

New Products, Just in Time for the Teacher Appreciation Sale!

TeachersPayTeachers is having a Teacher Appreciation week sale this Tuesday and Wednesday. Everything in my store will by 20% off. If you use the code TAD13, you get an extra 10% off. Click the graphic below to check out my store.

Thank you to Beth from Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah Designs for the cute graphic!

I know my cart is pretty full, waiting for the big sale! If you are looking for some more things to add to your cart, check out my newest products. I just uploaded two new math versions of the game "I Have, Who Has?" Each game has 30 cards that form a continuous circle. The first set works on place value with base ten blocks from 1-100. The second set works on subitizing with ten frames from 1-30. Click on the pictures to check them out at TpT!

Next up is something I have been working on for a while and I am so excited to show you! This is a pack of 120 phonics cards. At the beginning of the year, I used blank letter cards to practice the sounds that letters/digraphs/etc. made, but I really wished they had pictures on them to remind the students of the sound. So I decided to make my own! This pack contains 120 cards, complete with the cutest clipart ever! Here are the phonics sounds included in the pack:

Vowel Sounds (a,e,i,o,u,y)
Consonant Sounds
Long Vowel Patterns (a_e,ai,ay,ey,ea,ee,igh,ie,i_e,o_e,oe,oa,ue,u_e)
Other Vowel Patterns (oo, ow, oo, ou/ow, ew, au/aw, oi/oy, ea)
"R" Control (or,ar,ir,er,ur)
Digraphs (ch,th,gh,sh,wh,ph)
Beginning Blends 
Ending Blends 

Finally, I have completed my last three word work packs for the year. I have made a spring pack, camping pack, and summer pack! This will definitely keep us busy for the next 38ish school days! :)

Have a great week!

Friday 3 May 2013

Five for Friday Linky

It's Friday! Time for a link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching. Here's what has been going on this week...

1. Our grass heads are growing! Everyone who stops by our room has to come check these guys out. They are just too cute! The kids keep asking when we are going to cut them, but I think we should wait until they get a bit longer! :)

2. In theme we have been studying Dental Health. The kids are loving Deedee's poem "A Loose Tooth" from her February Poetry Pack. We say it each day, using each student's name. So fun! We also did some writing about how to keep our teeth healthy. We used lots of ideas form Mr. Harry's Kindergarten fun song "If You're a Kid... [Dental Health Remix]". We used this tooth writing page. Then I took pictures of my students, cropped their photos to just get their beautiful, hole-y smiles, and made a fun guessing game bulletin board. They love looking at the pictures!

3. We are doing a little measurment mini-unit in math. I armed each student with ten unifix cubes and a stack of mini post-it notes. They had to go around the classroom to find something that was less than 10 cubes, exactly 10 cubes, and more than 10 cubes. They had a blast! Those cute measurement posters are freebies from Angelia Grimes-Graeme from Extra Special Teaching.

4. We finished up our Eric Carle author study with some artwork. We used a white pastel and blue paint to do the background. Then we painted grass with two different kinds of green. After those dried, I let the kids have free rein of the pastels and construction paper! I told them they had to make a bug and we brainstormed what kinds we could make. I think they turned out beautiful! It's my class' turn to decorate the display case by the office, so this makes a nice welcome to our school.

5. I'm away from school for three days. I've never been away for so long before. Usually only a day at a time. This was my desk before I left yesterday... I placed every day in a different file folder with different coloured sticky notes for each day. I hope all is going well! :) Next year I am definitely going to put together a sub binder. I had planned to this year, but never got around to it. One day!

Have a great weekend! Enjoy the weather (if it's nice where you are)!

Wednesday 1 May 2013

May Currently

I am so glad to see that May is here. Our snow is almost all gone and we had a few days of sunshine and real spring weather. Unfortunately the cold has hit again and there were a few snowflakes falling today. Yuck! It should be back to spring weather by the weekend though. Fingers crossed! I'm joining up with Farley over at Oh' Boy 4th Grade for her awesome monthly currently. Click the picture below to see all the other blogs joining up as well!

I can't wait for summer vacation! Only 39 more days! Can you tell we have our priorities straight for the summer? We are suppose to be focusing on our house renovations, but we keep getting side-tracked! Our first trip is a week in Minneapolis. We're going to check out a Twins vs. Yankees game, visit a few zoos, go to the Mall of America, and of course roller coasters at Valley Fair! Our second trip is a weekend get away with about 15 of our close friends on a house boat for a weekend! A bunch of our friends (minus me... I'm still in my twenties!) turn thirty this year, so they dedcided we should celebrate house boat style. Should be fun! And lastly, my boyfriend's sister and brother-in-law are celebrating their ten year anniversary this year Vegas style. They asked if we wanted to go with them and I couldn't say no!! The bf has never been, but I've been twice and absolutely love it! There is so much to see and do. That being said, it is going to be a busy summer! Add in a few camping weekends, a wedding or two, and hopefully some renos, and it'll be September before I know it!! Eek! Oh well, enjoy the rest of your week!