Saturday, December 5, 2015

My New Favorite Tool

If there is one thing I dislike about first grade, it's the pencils. 

I hate sharpening them, picking them up off the floor alllllll day long, keeping kids from fighting over them. Ugh! I hate all of it.

I also hate pencil sharpeners. I have only been teaching for 4 years, and I bet I have been through about 12 pencil sharpeners. 

But this week, my life changed forever.
 I got a Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener!

I have been seeing pictures of these and wanting one for a while now. And let me just tell you--best pencil sharpener ever. You neeeeeed one! You won't regret it!

Just look at how sharp that pencil is! I was a little bit worried that it wouldn't be worth the extra time that a manual sharpener takes, but it totally is.

Head over to their website and get your own!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


So every year, I have a list of about 83 things that I want to try/change/do better/etc. Then, the year starts, and let's face it, it's survival for the first quarter. Maybe even longer!

One thing that was not on my list--implementing STEM. Don't get me wrong, I loooove teaching science and my kids love doing "experiments", but it just wasn't on the list. Well, needless to say, the list changed!

I found this super easy, very engaging unit on TpT, and I. Love. It.

We made boats...

We used the gumboils as "people" to see which boats would hold the most people. It ended up being a two day venture, because the boats are the first day were a flop! But the second day, you could tell how much they learned about the structure of a boat and they worked together so much better!

Then, we made turkey "fortresses" as my kids liked to call them.

They were so great! Basically the room was a disaster of Legos, linking cubes, place value manipulatives, etc. But they amazed me! I loved watching them figure out how to manipulate the objects and debate on who had the better idea.

Go check out Brooke Brown's STEM units on TpT! I will probably be picking up the December unit soon!

Monday, August 17, 2015

One Day Bonus Sale

It's time to go buy all the things you wish you had bought during the last sale!

Use the code MORE15 to save 10%. My store will also be 20% off--saving you 28% with the code! 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Updated Product

And school has officially started! I am happy to say that I survived the first day and my class seems wonderful so far! I am looking forward to a great year!

With the year just starting, I am (of course) filled with thoughts of beginning Daily 5 and engaging, meaningful literacy centers. So I've updated one of my favorite literacy centers!

Draw the Room is a staple in our classroom. It keeps my students moving around the room, ensures they are applying phonics skills accurately, and is an easy center to rotate when needed.

Click here to check it out on TpT!

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Best Purchases I Ever Made

When I get back to my room after the end of summer, I start to think, "What do I really need this year?" I try to find the happy medium between what will actually last through the year and what will not cost me an arm and a leg. Here are some of my absolute favorite things that I have bought over the years!

This easel from Lakeshore. I actually asked for this for Christmas one year, and it was the best present! I love the storage at the bottom, how easily it swivels, and that is it low enough to the ground for my students to easily reach the top. The other side is lined, which I also love. When I first got it in, one of the whiteboards had a huge scratch on it, and Lakeshore was super accommodating and easy to work with in exchanging it.

My book baskets in my classroom library are from Really Good Stuff, and they are great! I fill mine to the brim, and they are still in such great shape! I've had them for 2 years and haven't had to replace any of them.

Sit Spots! Oh my goodness, I love these soooo much! I really thought hard for a long time about getting a rug for my room, but all of the ones I wanted were crazy expensive. But these are perfect! They give each of my kids their own space on the carpet, they stay put, and they last!! I've had mine for 2 years, and the corners are just starting to curl up. I will definitely get 3, maybe 4 or 5, years out of these! Definitely worth the money!

What are your favorites in your classroom?

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Tell All Tuesday

I'm linking up with Teach Talk Inspire and My Day in K for Tell All Tuesday!

Of course dreams, goals, and wishes are what all teachers think about when they are going back to school! We're getting back into our classrooms and everything is clean and organized and full of possibilities! As much as I love summer, getting back into my classroom really does get me excited for a new year and a new group of kiddos!

My goal:
So I've done Writer's Workshop for the past few years, but I am the worst at actually planning ahead for it! I typically realize on my lunch break that I don't know what our exact focus is for that day. Eek!! So it's a lot of last minute scrambling... My goal this year is to actually plan ahead! Even if it is just a week at a time!

My wish:
We are adding a new member to our team this year! I am hoping that our team will mesh well and be able to work cohesively, collaborate well, and support each other when we need it. 

My dream:
So every day when I leave school, I reflect on the day as I'm driving home. No matter how much "wonderful" happened that day, I always find (and then fixate) on something I could have done better, how I could have reached a kid more effectively, something that makes me think I didn't do all I could. Wouldn't it be great if I never had that feeling?! Of course, I don't think this is the most attainable. I am still human and not at all perfect, but what an amazing thing it would be!

For now, I will just bask in the excitement and newness of a new year, new kids, and new energy! Happy back to school!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Favorite Guided Readers

I love guided reading time. It is the time during my day when I feel the most productive, am able to give students more individualized attention, and get a clear view of each students strengths and weaknesses.

Now my school does have amazing reading specialists that order great guided reading and small group resources for us. But there are some things that I love so much that I want need to own them myself :) Here's just a few of those resources!

These Brand New Readers are my newest discovery! They are simple, repetitive, predictable stories--and they are soooo funny! There are even directions on how to introduce the text for parents if you choose to send these books home. Perfect for the emergent readers who struggle to find independent texts they find interesting!
And these Scholastic science guided readers! Simple, engaging nonfiction text. You can order them as sets of multiple books or as a set of just one book.
These are also from Scholastic, but better for more independent readers! These Scholastic News Nonfiction Readers are great for teaching nonfiction text features and aligning guided reading with science and social studies. They have some about sports, American symbols, life cycles, weather, community helpers, and more! They also have them in Spanish.

What are your favorite guided reading resources?

On a completely unrelated note...don't forget to shop the TpT Back to School sale! Use code BTS15 to save even more!

300 × 300

Saturday, August 1, 2015

August Pick Me Up!

It's August?! Where did the summer go?! 

Now I'm not going to say that I am dreading school starting, but I am definitely wishing I had another week to enjoy morning TV, stay in my pajamas later than most people find acceptable, and take afternoon naps!

Here's something to make the transition a little easier, or maybe just to put a smile on your face!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Art and Max

Let me start by saying I looooooovvvvee David Wiesner. His books are phenomenal. Have you read Mr. Wuffles? It's another one of my favorites.

But, I also love Art & Max. I just discovered this book this summer, and I am so excited to use it! It will be perfect for beginning writing workshop!

When I begin writing workshop, after we spend a bit of time just learning the structure and expectations, I like to do an illustration study. I think this really helps my reluctant and emergent writers feel like they have some tools to help them portray their story to others. So typically we'll learn how to look at the shapes in a picture to make them easier to draw, learn about labels, and putting details into the picture. This is where I plan on using Art & Max.

In Art & Max, Max essentially "erases" Art. Max tries to make him again, but realizes he needs to add some more details to make it look like the real Art. It's a great visual for showing kiddos the importance of those little details!

What are some of your favorite texts to use in writer's workshop?  

Thursday, July 23, 2015

At Home Reading

I have always asked students to read at home for their homework. 100 minutes a week, split any way that works for them! But I think I always assumed that all parents knew how to do this. Silly assumptions always get me in trouble!

I'm planning on implementing "fluency folders" next year. Basically sending each chid home with a book that's on their independent level, with some support for parents.

(Click the picture above to get this freebie on TpT!)

I want to be sure that reading at home is beneficial and that parents feel like they can do it and see the amazing thinking of their child!

Any tips for those of you that do something like this?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Back From the Dead...Hopefully

Well, I think it's safe to say that anyone who used to read this blog has probably given up. And for good reason! 

Last year was crazy. Started grad school. (Why did I ever decided grad school and working at the same time was a good idea? I'm obviously insane.) Had quite a difficult group.

Side note--This is going to be my 4th year teaching. My first class--phenomenal. And since then, it's seemed to go downhill. Was I just wearing rose-colored glasses that first year? Is this normal to think each class is a little worse than the one before?

But a whole year?! Without a single blog post?! Terrible. What kind of a blogger am I? Well, I am deciding now to make a conscious effort to be better this year. Keep your fingers crossed for me!