Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Personal Narrative Writing Unit

We just completed our personal narrative unit during writers workshop time. Since first graders LOVE to tell stories about themselves, this was an easy unit to do!!!  We started the unit by reading a ton of books by Ezra Jack Keats and Donald Crews to model and guide my minilessons.  We also read some books that had clear, descriptive settings (I love using Owl Moon for this).
Below are some pictures. The first shows our anchor chart that includes some of the minilessons. The second shows one student's plan before he started writing. We talked about how writers "zoom in" on a small moment and stretch it out like a movie. So they drew "scenes" from their movie. Then they used their writing plan to help them write their stories. The plan was very helpful because it kept them focused. 

Now their stories are off to be laminated and made into books!  I can't wait until we have out writer's celebration when they return!
Anchor Chart

A Student's Writing Plan (I can't rotate it...ugh!!)


Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Idea

It may be too late to do this with your kids but you can always save the idea for next school yeat!  I have each student bring home a feather and they decorate it to show what they are thankful for.  They can use glitter, paint, stickers, photos, etc...  This year's class brought in some great feathers for our turkey!!


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Building Stamina!

We are trying to build our stamina while "reading to self."  I was so happy for my kiddies because they made it to a whopping 11 minutes today!!!! Our goal was 9 minutes - so yeah for us!!!  Every minute counts! :)  Here are two anchor charts I made for this part of the day.  I hate that the one chart is wrinkled - but here it is anyway...
3 Ways to Read A Book
Finding a Just Right Book- Bike Riding Analogy


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Open House Brochure

I love making these for my Open House each year.  It matches the Powerpoint Presentation I use for the parents (and myself) to follow.  For some reason, I cannot link a word document to google docs.  Click on either picture to take you to my TPT store and download it from there for free!


Monday, August 15, 2011

Crayon Wreath - Inspired by Pinterest!

Okay, so I am officially addicted to Pinterest!  I didn't quite understand what the hype was when everyone was talking about it on their blogs - but now I totally "get it."  I found the cutest wreath made from crayons on the site (click here) and attempted to make it on this rainy day.  I bought a foam wreath from AC Moore.  Then I took my son's old Hulk costume that he grew out of and wrapped it around the foam, using the hot glue gun as I went.  Then I used the hot glue gun again to glue on the crayons.  Finally, I added the checkered bow to hang.  I plan to hang it on my classroom door.  My son actually wants to make one for his new teacher this year... maybe a Winter holiday gift???  Very easy to do - and that's coming from someone who does not make crafts a lot!!!


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Yay! New Blog Design

WOW!   **  WOW!   **  WOW!

I am LOVING the look of my new blog.  Jenn and her husband, A.K.A "Dream Team Designs" did an amazing job! They really went out of their way to make my blog look great.  Nothing but good things to say and I highly recommend using them to help make your blog look better.  Thanks Jenn!!!

Dream Team Designs


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Tooth Fairy Letter #2!

I guess when the first tooth pops out, the next is not too far behind!  My son lost his second tooth last night.  He was actually in a "time out" for teasing his younger brother when he yanked it out.  I was pretty impressed with his strategy to get out of "time out" early.  Haha!!

Anyway...I know this isn't teacher related, and I promised myself that I would keep this blog only for teacher resources, but tooth fairy letter #2 is just too cute to not share.   Dizzy Dee the Tooth Fairy came swirling and twirling to visit last night.  I hope you too are able to use this letter with your kids!  I am including a brightly colored copy as well as an "ink friendly" version.  Enjoy!

Oh - and don't forget that I am having a giveaway for 3 lucky winners to win 3 units each!  Click here to enter or scroll down!!!  The winners will be picked tomorrow night (Sunday, June 31st).


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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Back to School Sample and Lesson Plan Template

I created a 37 page Back to School Unit to help you jump start a successful school year!  It is full of my favorite forms, letters, lessons and activities that I have collected and used over the years.  I have activities linked to some of my favorite first day/first week read alouds; including Chrysanthemum, First Day Jitters, and Froggy Goes to School.  Check out a few of the items in this free sample packet.  If you are interested in the full packet - head over to my TPT store.  Oh, and I'm having a sale until the 24th - so go on over and check it out!!!

I'm also posting my Lesson Plan Template (not included in the Back to School Unit).  


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Monday, July 18, 2011

What's your favorite "Back to School" activity? Linky Party

Chrysanthemum Big Book
      On the first day of school I love to read Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes.  Before school started for Chrysanthemum, she thought everything about her name was perfect.  But then on the first day, the other “mice” in her class start to make fun of her name.  They tease her and make Chrysanthemum feel so sad. 
       When we read this book, I ask one a student to come up, sit next to me, and hold a heart.  I tell the class that the heart represents how Chrysanthemum feels during the story.  Before Chrysanthemum starts school, she feels happy (her heart is not wrinkled).  While I am reading, the student wrinkles the heart up when Chrysanthemum’s feelings are hurt.  Every time someone says something nice to her, or tries to make her feel better, the student holding the heart flattens it out.  This is a great visual to show how peoples’ hearts break when their feelings are hurt.  In the end I show how the creases remain the same in the paper heart even after it is flattened out.   I leave this up all year long and refer to it whenever there is a similar situation happening in the classroom.

Please check out the rest of my blog... I am having a giveaway to win 3 units (in honor of my 3 year old's birthday!!)  You have until Sunday, July 31st to enter! :)

Linky Party is open through August 1st - Check out the amazing ideas from other teachers at Jodi's Fun in First Blog

PS - This is my first "Linky Party" participation... I hope I did it correctly!!!  


Monday, July 11, 2011

The Tooth Fairy Came! not teacher related - but a free printable!! :-)

My first born finally lost his first tooth! He was *thrilled*. Of course it happened right before bedtime so we scrounged around for some dollar bills (the couch, the car...). We finally found $5.00 and I quickly made this letter. There will be a new letter from a different fairy each time he loses a tooth. This letter isn't as "pretty" as I wanted it to be, since it was late and last minute, but here it is. I hope you can use it with your kids!


Friday, July 8, 2011


Congratulations to Kelly S. ( I will email you the gift card information later tonight (when my 3 energetic kids go down for the night!!!!)  Sorry for the delay but I have a little 2 year old climbing on my back right now! :-)
True Random Number Generator  31
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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Last day to enter!!

You have till 10:00 pm to enter for a chance to win a $25.00 gift card! See the post below for details!!



Monday, July 4, 2011

Gift Card Giveaway!

Happy 4th of July!  I am celebrating by giving away a $25.00 gift card!  It's a MasterCard gift-card so you can use it wherever you want to!!  The winner will be announced Thursday night, around 10:00 pm EST.  Good luck!

3 ways to enter:
-  Become a follower of my blog.
-  Blog about my giveaway on your own blog.
-  Become a follower on my TPT page. 


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Great Giveaway!

Wow!  Go on over to Erica's Elementary ExcitementShe is having a very generous giveaway.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed!!!


Sunday, June 26, 2011

TPT Sale!

Tonight is the last night for my 15% off sale on TPT. Come on over and take a look!


First Grade Blue Skies Giveaway!

I hope I win this one.... a $25 gift card to either amazon or Target!  I'm keeping my fingers crossed!!!


Saturday, June 18, 2011


Hey Amy! Let me know your email address and I'll send you the packet! Hope you enjoy it!


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Giveaway of the Summer!

Wow!  You have to check out this giveaway...   Hope I'm the lucky winner...


Monday, June 13, 2011

For a POP!ular Guy

I just picked up some red and white movie popcorn bags at the Dollar Tree to use for a "Movie Themed" Father's Day gift.  I also made some cute things to go along with it.  Feel free to download and use it in your class!  It includes a cute tag to stapled on the outside of the bag, a question and answer sheet describing dad, a "free movie night" coupon, a bag of popcorn and a poem.  Hope you enjoy - If not for this year, next year!


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Thematic Writing Giveaway!

I just created a Year Long Thematic Writing Unit. The unit is broken down into ten school months (September-June).  Each month has a list of words for students to use when practicing writing. They can use the thematic words provided to help them write sentences, paragraphs, and/or stories related to each month. These activities can be done as a whole class or during station/center time.  I have included three different response sheets (writing paper) to use depending on the developmental stage of your students. 


I will chose the winner Friday night at 10 pm est. 


Sunday, June 5, 2011

My Guided Reading Planning Guide

This is a sheet I like to use when planning for guided reading lessons.  I keep one page for every book that I read in a binder, organized by level.  It is great to refer to when deciding on what books to use.   I hope you can get some use out of this planning guide too!


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Free Plant and Seed Mini-Unit

 Hope you enjoy my mini-unit on plants and seeds.  Feedback is much appreciated!


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Tiny Seed Response

So we are reading The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle this week.  We are going to touch upon sequencing and discuss how the story is a "circular" story.  I made up this sheet to use with them tomorrow.  There are two pages - the second being in color.  I hope it works for you as well!


Monday, May 16, 2011

Solar System Hats

Today was the last day of our Solar System unit.  They really had a great time learning about this subject.  I always love when we make hats.  So I decided to have them make a solar system hat by coloring, cutting, and gluing the planets in order on a sentence strip.  Then I took a bendable straw and taped it in the center.  The kids taped a sun on the end of the straw so it dangled around all the planets. They turned out really cute!


A Cute Way to Help Kids Remember....

To help my kids remember a particular reading, writing, or math rule, I give that rule their name.  I post the rules in the front of the room and always have the kids looking up there if they forget.  For example, today we did a review sheet on even and odd numbers.  Some of the kids forgot, so I told them to look at the "Jayden Rule."

I will usually assign the rule to either someone who really knows and understands how to use it or I will to someone who doesn't really understand it   Either way, the kids feel like "experts" and they will never forget it!  They love this and are always asking to have a rule!

Here are some of the rules:


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Giveaway on Finally in First Blog

I can't stand the use of plastic bags in our country.  I know they are convenient, but they do so much more harm than good.  Check out Finally in First's blog and her tote giveaway.  They are really cute.  Hope I can get my hands on one.


Plant and Seeds

It seems as though many of the teachers who I "stalk" are ending school soon.  Well, we have until the end of June.... yuck! :(    So, I still have a few things to cover.  This weekend I planned a plant and seed unit to do over the next 2 weeks or so.  I'm posting a few pages on here, but I am also posting a larger packet over at TPT.  It has lessons connected to read alouds.  (The Giving Tree being one of them... one of favorite books!!)  It also has a math activity, writing activities, word study, science experiments, arts and crafts projects.  Hope you enjoy it!  I'll post pictures after the unit is over.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Free Ocean Unit!

Check out my literacy based ocean unit!  Let me know what you think!  Thanks...


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Guided Reading

I have been using the Fountas and Pinnell Reading and Writing Workshop Model for about 9 years.  I love this way of teaching reading and writing.  I attended Teacher's College at Columbia for my Masters and attended 2 summer sessions at Lucy Calkin's Writing Workshop Project.  You should absolutely go to Teacher's College Reading and Writing Project, if you ever get the opportunity!  It was the best! The speakers were amazing and I learned so much.  I am planning on uploading and sharing all of my reading and writing units of study, as well as templates to assist your teaching in those areas.  So please bear with my "work in progress."

Here is a "Status of the Class" template that I use to make sure I meet with every student. I mostly use this sheet during my guided reading time.  But it could be used when meeting with students 1:1 or even whole group.  I used to keep notes on each child in a tabbed section in a binder.  It wasn't until I evaluated these notes at the end of the semester that I realized I wasn't conferencing with each student equally.  So I created the new template below.  It has all the students on one page so I can see who I have already met with and who I still need to conference with.  I keep this on a clipboard and store it next to my guided reading table.  I also have similar template on a different clipboard for Writing Workshop: Status of the Class.


Mother's Day Craft

I absolutely love this craft for Mother's Day.  It is a picture frame made from an old cd case.  I saw it about 7 years ago in Family Fun Magazine and at the time my brother in law put all of his cd's on his ipod so i quickly took all of his cd cases!  I was so excited!  Oh - the things teachers get excited about...  :)  Below is a picture of one (front, inside, back).


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Solar System Unit

We have been learning so much about the solar system and the kids are loving it!  I have to thank Jodi over at Fun in First Grade.  She has a great space unit that I bought from tpt.  It is full of information about the solar system as well as some really cute ideas and activities!  Next week we will be talking about stars and constellations so I made a worksheet where they use the letters of their names to make their own star constellation.  Here it is:


And here is are "Learning Chart":


Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Check out Glady's Blog "Once Upon a Time in 1st Grade"!  What a great giveaway.  Aren't those center packets the cutest???  Good luck!


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Friday, April 29, 2011

End of the Year Memory Book

I have been so inspired by other bloggers!!  I am very excited to throw my hat into the ring!  Since this is new to me, I am going to look over my files and begin "revamping" them in order to share with you.  Hopefully they will help you the way all of your blogs have been helping me!

Here is my latest.  It is the my End of the Year Memory Book:


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Poetry Unit

So now we've been focusing on Poetry for the month of April.  I love this unit because the more reluctant kids seem to flourish when they write poetry.  They don't have to worry about punctuation and they can make it look as long or as short as they want.

Here is a picture of our anchor chart by the end of the unit:

One of the things we talked about were line breaks and shaping the poem so it looks the way you want it to.  I took this poem and wrote it on sentence strips.  Then I cut it so that each word was by itself.  We kept the words in the same order but changed where we wanted our lines to stop.  We kept rereading it and changing it until we liked the way it looked and sounded.  One of the students suggested putting one word on each line at the end because it made her voice slow down and it sounded like a good ending.  :)
I'm pretty sure I got this idea from the book,
 Awakening the Heart, by Georgia Heard.                                  

Another minilesson focused on personification.  I did this with fifth graders once so I was a little nervous about whether or not my firsties would understand what to do.  They did such a great job!  I was so happy.  First we wrote this poem together about a pencil:

 Then they went back to their seats to write independently.  I was so impressed with what they did.  Take a look at how one of my students wrote about a nice, fluffy cloud turning darker and darker until it rains (cries). I absolutely loved it!  (The poem to the right is the one we created together after the minilesson).    

Nice and fluffy
Cozy and soft
uh oh...
I turn 
now I am 

All the Small Poems and Fourteen More (Sunburst Book)All The Small Poems and 14 More, By Valerie Worth is a great book to use.  It is full of poems with personification, similes and metaphors.  
Finally, I can't talk about my poetry unit without mentioning my favorite resource:  Regie Routman's, Kids Poems: Teaching First Graders to Love Writing Poetry  This is my absolute favorite book to refer to during this unit.  There are a ton of poems written by other first graders that model a particular strategy.  The kids love to read other first graders poems.  
Product Details


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Fiction Stories

I love, love, love to teach writing to first graders!!!  Writing is probably my favorite subject to teach.  We just finished a realistic fiction writing unit of study.  They had two characters in their story (themselves and someone else) and they made up a story.  We kept it "realistic" fiction (even though some really wanted to write a story with an alien and talking dinosaurs).  :)  First we spent a lot of time creating characters in our language arts notebooks.  We drew characters and described their internal and external character traits. Some of the other minilessons had the kids focus on writing descriptive words about the setting, having a problem and solution, as well as some craft lessons (show, don't tell, dialogue, strong leads, strong endings, using other words for "said"...)

Here are some anchor charts we created together:

 I have a ton of writing workshop lessons and activities that I would love to share. I'm very new to blogging.  I just came across a few first grade blogs and I love the fact that everyone shares ideas with one another.  Next step for me is to organize all my files and start sharing away!


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Wild Weather!

We have been having some pretty wild weather before the break.  It was supposed to be spring, but the weather has been very cold, windy, and foggy!  What a perfect time to learn about weather!

Here are some books we read:
Thunder CakeWild Weather: Level 1 (Extreme Readers) The Wind BlewWeather Words and What They MeanI

I absolutely love Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco and the students love to count along with the characters in between the lightning and thunder!  The students also loved to make text-to-self connections while reading.  They told some very cute stories about being scared of thunder.  We also recalled story elements in an interactive writing kind of way :)

The Windy Day was also a great book to read and respond to.  We read the book then charted what the wind would blow if they were out on a windy day.  Some of the responses we too funny (The wind blew my video game system)!  Then we imagined where our items would go using sequence words and preposition words.  

For a quick inferring lesson, I had the kids pick any kind of weather and write three clues about it.  Then they partnered up, read the clues and made inferences based on the clues.  They had a lot of fun doing this activity.  Click on the link to get the worksheet: