Thursday 27 November 2014

Interactive Science Journals

I am loving all the amazing interactive journals that I have been seeing all over the blog world. Unfortunately, I have never really had enough time in the day to be able to use the math or ELA journals. Our guided reading, writing, and math times are usually full to the brink that there isn't enough time to add in anything else! I decided that the one time during the day that I would be able to incorporate interactive journals is during Science!

In Manitoba, our Science curriculum is divided into four clusters. They are:

1. Characteristics and Needs of Living Things
2. The Senses
3. Characteristics of Objects and Materials
4. Daily and Seasonal Changes

I have designed four units that cover every outcome in these clusters. Every outcome has one lesson and interactive journal page (and sometimes there are two different lessons for each outcome). Even though these units are designed with the Manitoba Science curriulum in mind, the lesson activities and journal pages can be used by anyone in any province or territory or state! If you are studying living and non-living things, this unit is for you!

Each unit is designed the same way. For each outcome in the cluster/unit, there are lesson plan ideas and pictures, lesson materials (for whole group charts, sorts, etc.), and interactive science journal pages. These pages are designed to fit an 8-1/2x10" spiral journal, but you can easily shrink the pages or print two-to-a-page if you are using smaller journals.

So far, only the first unit is up on TpT, but I plan to have the other three units up by the end of December! Take a look at some of the lessons included in this unit...

These are the lessons/outcomes covered in this unit:

1. Unit title page idea (two wording options--"Characteristics and
Needs of Living Things" or just "Living Things")
2. List characteristics of plants, animals, and humans
3. Sort plants, animals, and humans
4. Label the major parts of the human body
5. Sort living and non-living things
6. Compare characteristics of humans and cats
7. Humans are all unique/graph hair colour

8. List different types of plants
9. Use a checklist to determine if objects are living or non-living
10. Compare how living things grow and change
11. Name the needs of living things
12. Describe how to care for a living thing (cat, fish, plant, or cow)
13. Test which sense is the most helpful to humans (science experiment)
14. Name which sense each animal uses to find their food

15. Compare how living things get their food
16. Build a habitat for a living thing (design process)
17. Name a job or hobby that requires knowledge of living things
18. Create a classroom healthy action plan with a weekly checklist
19. Describe how to show respect for a classroom pet or plant
20. Compare fact vs. fiction about plants or animals (using a book or movie
Jack and the Beanstalk or Goldilocks and the Three Bears)

These are the units that will be coming soon... by December 31, 2014! The Five Senses, Objects & Materials, and Weather & Seasons.

I have started a growing a bundle. The bundle will contain all four interactive science units. I have already uploaded the bundle (which currently only has the one unit in it) because there is going to be a HUGE TpT sale on Dec. 1 and 2, where you can save TONS of money! 28% off an already discounted bundle. Woo woo! When they other units are uploaded, you will be able to redownload the bundle at no charge to receive the new units. Click the picture below to check it out.

And of course I can't leave you without a freebie! You can download this "Interactive Science Journal: Introduction to Science" freebie pack from TpT by click the picture below. You will find a journal cover, scientist craft, scientific inquiry ideas, and more!

Tuesday 25 November 2014

Do You Subitize?

I had never heard the word subitizing until our new math curriculum came out a few years ago. Subitizing is the ability to "see" a small amount of objects and know how many there are without counting. We most commonly use this with dot patterns, fingers, and ten frames. 

My kiddos love to use ten frames and they are such a valuable math maniuplative! I decided to create a pack of math centres and games for them to use during our guided math time. In this pack there are 6 independent math by myself centres and 6 math with someone partner games. There is also a fluency mat for partner practice and list of additional card games to play with ten frames. And there are 6 sets of different coloured ten frame cards for you to print and cut out. 

Here are the 6 independent math centres:

1. Representing Numbers (representing numbers to 10) - Students choose a ten frame card and represent that number in different ways (number, word, tally marks, dots, money, number sentence, picture, and fingers).

2. Ten Frame Addition (adding to 20) - Students choose two ten frame cards and write an addition sentence. 

3. Ten Frame Ordering (ordering numbers to 10) - 
Students choose three ten frame cards and order them from least to greatest or greatest to least (you choose which skill).

4. Ten Frame Comparing (comparing numbers to 10) - 
Students choose two ten frame cards and circle the greatest or least number (you choose which skill).

5. Ten Frame Partners (tens partners) - 
Students choose a ten frame card and write a making ten addition sentence.

6. Spin & Trace/Spin & Write Numbers (number formation to 10) - Spin the ten frame spinner and practice tracing or writing numbers 1-10.

Here are the 6 partner math games:

1. Ten Frame Splat (identifying ten frames to 20) - Students take turns choosing a card and identifying the ten frames. If they get a SPLAT card, they must put back all their cards!

2. Ten Frame Bump (identifying ten frames to 12) - Students take turns rolling two dice and finding the matching the ten frame on the game board. 

3. Ten Frame Race (identifying ten frames to 10) - Students take turns naming ten frames. If they get it correct, they roll a die and move their game piece towards the finish.

4. Ten Frame Memory (matching ten frames and numbers to 20) - Students take turns flipping two cards over to find the matching numbers and ten frames.

5. Ten Frame Dominoes (matching ten frames, numbers, and number words to 20) - Students take turns playing a domino down, matching it to a ten frame, number, or number word.

6. Ten Frame Cover Up (adding with ten frames to 20) - Students take turns choosing two cards, adding them together, and covering up the space on their game board.

I hope your students like these activities as much as mine do!

Do you follow Krita Wallden of The Creative Chalkboard? If not, you should! Not only is her clipart absolutel adorable, but she is having a weekly Christmas giveaway with free clipart called Operation E.L.F. (Everyone Loves Freebies--how cute)! But she is also having  selfless challenge, where she challenges everyone to do some random acts of kindness! One of her suggestions was creating a teacher freebie! So I used her adorable freebie clipart and keeping with the ten frame theme, created a "Holiday Ten Frame Freebie" for you! It includes two sets of Christmas ten frames and a recording sheet. Students colour in the ten frame and write the number beside it. You can also use the ten frame cards to play games or use with my centres above! Click the picture below to grab it for free!

Wednesday 19 November 2014

A Peak Into My Guided Reading Toolbox

Reading is probably one of my favourite things to teach in first grade. It is amazing the progress that these little first graders make over the course of a school year. Even if they don't make it to the end of Grade One goal (for us it is Level I/16), the lowest of readers can still make some sort of progress. It could be learning to track words or recognizing a few simple sight words or just making it to the next reading level! I always celebrate every little and big read achievement because I want my students to feel success in reading. My favourite moment in the journey of a reader happens at about Level 5/D. It seems like they gain confidence as a reader and just start to take off from there! Of course, every student is different, but it's always a joy to see them feel proud of their accomplishments.

Anyways, onto the meat of this post. I have been seeing some AH-MAZ-ING guided reading toolkits on Pinterest and other blogs, and I was inspired to put together my own! When I saw Mel D's (from Seusstastic Classroom Inspiration) pink Craftsman toolbox that she uses to hold all of her small group goodies {see hers here}, I knew I needed to get one of those toolboxes! {Now for the silly part of the story... I found that they sold those toolboxes at Kmart, BUT we don't have any Kmarts left here in Manitoba, Canada! So when my parents went on a weekend trip to the States this past summer, I asked my mom very nicely to stop at a Kmart and pick me up one. And she did! Isn't she the best??} Anywho, I put together my toolbox with all the goodies that I use during small group time, so they are all in one place! Take a peak into my toolbox...

A. Dry Erase Markers (with pom poms hot glued to lids as erasers... genius! no need for dirty socks, kleenex, or erasers!) -- we use these on mini whiteboards and laminated work pages {I'm thinking about putting some dry erase circles on my horseshoe table too... as seen in this pin}

B. Pencils and Erasers (so students don't need to waste time going back to their table for a pencil) -- we use these to write in our Guided Reading journals

C. Highlighters -- for highlighting words/sound chunks in our Guided Reading journals or for use on sight word/phonics worksheets

D. Glue Sticks -- for working in our Guided Reading journals (cut and paste/mixed up sight words or sentences)

E. Letter Boxes -- double-sided (3 letter boxes on one side, 4 letter boxes on the other), laminated cards for practicing writing CVC or CCVC/CVCC words, could also be used as phoneme boxes (use counters to push sounds)

F. Blank Index Cards -- for writing notes, cutting and mixing up sight words, etc.

G. Alphabet Charts -- half-page alphabet charts for students who need to practice to letter sounds; the reverse side has common long vowel sounds

H. Tiara -- again, I totally stole Mel D's idea of using a tiara as her "Don't Interrupt Me!" signal! I used to tell my students that I was wearing my invisible hat when I was working with a group... but a tiara is so much more fun than an invisible hat! Check out my cutie modelling it for me. Can you believe this little munchkin is almost 8 months old? Where has the time gone! She is now crawling and standing on furniture and on the verge of standing on her own! Slow down, bébé!

I. Scissors -- always important and always hard to find a pair when you need them

J. Stickers -- for rewarding hardworking students or celebrating mini successes

K. Mini Magnifying Glasses (found at a party supply store in the goodie bag toy aisle) -- use these for finding certain sight words or word endings or punctuation

L. Dice -- use with games such as "Roll A Sight Word" (awesome editable freebie from Learning With Mrs. Parker)

 M. Sight Word Cards -- three different sets of sight word cards to practice and play games with (Dolch Pre-primer, Primer, and First Grade). Love the idea of sticking labels onto bright coloured cardstock {idea from Maria at Kinder Craze}

N. Glow-in-the-Dark Pointer Fingers -- novelty toy to help students track writing... love these glow-in-the-dark ones (less witchy than the green ones!)

O. Toy Cars -- can also be used to help track or to practice stretching out sounds in words {I also have these awesome sight word roads from Kristen Smith's (from A Day in First GradeGuided Reading Made Easy For Kinders pack that kiddos can drive the car down the road and read the words it passes}

P. Reading Strategy Bookmarks -- these are the strategies we use... I love the songs from Teacher Tipster... and I have all the beanie babies to go with them. Sometimes the beanie babies sit with a student who demonstrated the strategy during the lesson.

Q. Stamps & Post-Its -- reward self-inking stamps for "marking" Guided Reading journals and post-its for... a million different things!

R. Googly Eye Rings (see photo above) -- another print tracking tool

S. Laser Finger Pointers (see photo above) -- another print tracking tool

T. Mini Slinkies (see photo above) -- perfect for s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g out sounds in words

U. Task Cards -- three sets of cards from Rachelle Smith's (from What the Teacher Wants) Guided Reading Mini-Lessons pack... fiction story questions, non-fiction story questions, and fluency practice cards

V. Writing Strips -- these awesome writing strips make for an excellent warm-up activity... they are from Tara West at Little Minds at Work {I got the Writing Strips Bundled... it covers CVC words, blends, digraphs, vowel teams, and she has some free alphabet ones!}

Well that's it for me tonight! I hope this post has inspired you to make the most of your guided reading group time! Is there anything missing from my toolbox that you would suggest? I do have some highlighter finger pointers and some sand timers for fluency that I have to dig out of a box somewhere to stick in here too! :) Until next time!!

Monday 3 November 2014

Can I Come To School With You? {November Photo Contest}

Don't get me wrong... I absolutely love being on maternity leave! I love spending all day with my baby girl and not having to worry about the pressures of school for a whole year. I love getting to watch all of her growth and milestones. I love reading to her and playing with her and having daytime naps with her. :) But... (and it's a small but...) I miss the classroom! I miss the kiddos, I miss planning, I miss teaching! So I've decided to invite myself into all of your classrooms to give myself a little teaching fix!

The whole idea of this photo contest is to send me a picture of one of my products/freebies being used in your classroom and I will send you any item from my TpT store for free (max. $10 value). It could be a picture of something on the wall, a student using the product, or just a picture of the product in your classroom! You take a picture, I send you a free item. It's that easy!

You can enter the photo in three different ways:

{1.} Email--send me an email with the picture attached ( and which free item you would like

{2.} Facebook--post the picture on my Facebook page (First Grade Garden) and tell me which free item you would like and your email address

{3.} Instagram--make sure you follow me and then post the picture on your Instagram account and tag me in the comment (@1stgradegarden); include which free item you would like and your email address <-- this option only works if your posts are not set to private (go to "Edit Profile" and scroll to the bottom to turn off privacy)

In your email/post, make sure you include which item from my store you would like for free (maximum $10 value) and your email address so I can send you the item!

If you are worried about sharing pictures publicly, then email is your best option! I promise I will not repost or share any pictures!

Only one entry/free item per person.

You have all month to take a picture and submit. Last day to submit entries will be Nov. 30, 2014.

I will try and email you your free product the same day or next day. If you haven't heard from me in two days, send me an email letting me know. I might not have seen your post. :)

I hope you all take a few minutes to snap a picture for me! I'd love to take a peak inside all your awesome classrooms. Have a great week! :)

Sunday 2 November 2014


I have a "POP" sight word game that my students love the play during guided reading lessons. I'm sure you have played some variation of this game before. Basically the idea of the game is you choose a card and read the word on it. If you get it right, you keep the card. If you get it wrong, it goes back into the pile. If you get a "POP" card, all your cards go back into the pile. Simple and fun. My kiddos never tire of this game!

Well I wanted to use this same game idea to reinforce some math concepts. Enter the BUZZ game! Same idea, but I have made a version for 2D and 3D shapes. Students choose a card and identify the shape on it. If they get it right, they keep the card. If they get it wrong, it goes back into the pile. If they get a "BUZZ" card, all of their cards go back into the pile! The player with the most cards is the winner! Click any of the pictures below to check these games out on TpT. You can play them with the whole class, during your small group time, or put it out as a math centre! 

Saturday 1 November 2014

November Currently

Happy November! You know what time it is.... Farley's Monthly Currently!

Listening... Netflix is my maternity leave guilty pleasure. I get to catch up on all the awesome shows! "Gilmore Girls" was one of my high school favourites. We watched every episode from the beginning. This is before the world of DVRs/PVRs, so every week on the same night... my mom, my aunt, me, and my two friends, would gather at my house to watch the newest episode. I'm pretty sure by the last season my brother and dad were in on it too. Brings back good memories! :)

Loving... yesterday was my mom's 50th birthday! We had to do something special, so Zoe and I dressed up in our costumes and surprised her at school (she is a grade 3/4 teacher). We got to spend the afternoon with her class for their costume parade! Then we went to my parents for dinner and to help hand out candy to all the trick-or-treaters! It was a fun day! :) Here's a little shot of me and my ladybug:

Thinking... actually, as I waited for my pictures to load, I got the ice cream. I am now eating it straight out of the carton. I am not even ashamed.

Wanting... the weather stay nice and crisp! No snow yet. Woo hoo!

Needing... my baby is too smart for her own good. She is 7 months old as of yesterday. At 6 months she started crawling and sitting up. Last week she started standing up against furniture and in her crib. We need to bring the crib down so she doesn't flip out of it, but hubby was not home today. So I took her playpen out and so she would have somewhere safe to sleep. I'm a goof like that. lol

Reading... I love fluffy chick lit. Kate Perry is one of my favourite girly authors. I love the "Laurel Heights" series and now the "Summerhill" series. I've actually read all the books like three times each. Waiting for the next Summerhill book due out January!!

Well, that's it for me now!