Tuesday, September 1, 2015

A Cricut in my Classroom

Have you ever tried a Cricut?  I was lucky enough to get one to try out in my classroom, and I am in LOVE with it!!!  If I wasn't so overwhelmed with all of the "back to school" craziness, I think I would sit around and make things with it all day long.
It is so easy to use.  The setup took maybe a whole 5 minutes, and within no time, I was cutting away.
My first project was to fancy up my entryway into my classroom.  I have a weird half wall as soon as you enter my room.  {The sink is on the opposite side.}  I wanted something bright that would catch my student's attention each day.
I cut the letters for "AWESOME" from thick cardstock.  Then,  all I had to do was switch the dial on the Cricut, and I was ready to cut "Make today" from vinyl.

 The next thing I added to my classroom décor was this vinyl on the full length mirror in my classroom.  This mirror is used all.the.time!  It's perfect for checking out those wiggly 1st grade teeth ;)
My third project was this fun Welcome Banner.  The Cricut gives you the ability to print using your computer, and then cut using the Cricut.
The possibilities are endless.  Here are a couple other projects in my classroom.
{I organize my papers for the week in these tubs.}
 {This tub is perfect for storing our clipboards.}
 {I love having  "sharpened" and "unsharpened" buckets for our pencils.}
 {The Cricut is great for printing out letters on cardstock in ANY font you have on your computer.}
 {This is a super simple way to fancy up an old, ugly teacher's desk.}
 {I have "hello" on the front of my classroom door, and "goodbye" on the inside of my door.}
 
So...now for some great news.  Did you know that you can enter to win up to $20,000 in prizes for teachers and educators?  Click on the picture below to head on over to Cricut's Facebook page, and enter to win!
https://www.facebook.com/OfficialCricut
 

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Monday, August 31, 2015

Sight Word Games

Learning sight words is such an important skill for beginning readers.  Goodness gracious though!  Who came up with some of the spellings of our common sight words?  Why does it have to be so confusing?  We teach these phonics rules, and then throw more than a hundred words at our students that don't follow those rules.  It definitely makes teaching sight words challenging, but it doesn't have to be boring.
I wanted to find a way to make learning sight words a little more exciting, so I created some No Prep Sight Word Games for us to use.
The first thing I did was to assess my students on their sight word knowledge.  I really like the Dolch Sight Word lists from A is for Apple, B is for Blog.  This gives me an idea of which sight words my students still need to master. 
Then, I can differentiate my games, and have my students play with the words that they still need.
I have included 10 different No Prep sight word games using the 220 Dolch Sight Words.
 Most of the games are available in both color and black and white.  This gives you the option of printing in color, and laminating to use over and over again, or just printing in black and white for your students.
I will be using some of these games in a whole group setting, but most of them will be perfect for small groups and a sight word center.
You can check these out by clicking on the picture below and heading over to my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Sight-Word-Games-No-Prep-2062385
 

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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Perfect Partner Pairs

If you spend a day in my classroom, you will see a lot of partner discussions. 
 
Working in partners allows students to become much more engaged in your lessons.  Even in small groups, it's sometimes easy for a quiet student to "hide" in the crowd.  With partners, each student is much more likely to participate.  For an introverted child, a partnership is also much less intimidating than a whole group or a small group.  I also find that partnerships allow for students to work on their listening skills.  I often have a student report on what their partner told them.
My favorite way to have students get their partners for the day, is to have them find their pairs by matching skill cards.
 Every morning, I place a card on the corner of my student's desks.  Before Morning Meeting, the students walk around the room without talking, and find their partner for the day.
 The skill cards change each day to keep it interesting.
Once my students have their partners for the day, (or week if you want them to keep the same partners for an extended period of time) they have a seat on the carpet, and I collect the cards to use again another time.
My students sit by their partners on the carpet, so they can have directed discussions throughout our learning.  I may have them turn to their partner and tell each other what they did last night, or have them tell their partner the answer to a question before I call on someone.  This keeps everyone involved, and not just those couple of students that always have their hands up ready to answer.
The other day, we were practicing CVC words.  I had partners write the words on each others backs with their fingers before calling on someone to write it on our easel.
The students loved this, and it kept them all engaged during our lesson.
I created this Perfect Partner Pairs packet, which includes 40 sets of partner cards.
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Perfect-Partner-Pairs-2050283
{Just click on the picture above to check out this packet.}
I will be printing these on different colors of paper, laminating them, and then placing rubber bands around each set.  Every morning, I can just grab a set, and we can have partners for the day.
How do you use partners in your classroom?
 
 

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Friday, August 21, 2015

Reading Excitement with The Book With No Pictures

If you do not own The Book with No Pictures, get it now.  Seriously!  Your students will LOVE it!!!
I read this book to my class on Thursday, and of course, they thought it was so hilarious!  After we read it, we decided that we needed to "play a trick" on our principal, and have her read the book. 
We wrote a letter together as a class.

When I delivered the letter to her, I cannot even begin to tell you how excited my students were.  (I also gave her the book to preview, but my students did not know that.)  She came in today to read the book, and the children could not even contain themselves.
They were laughing SO hard, and giggling at the "trick" they played.  The pure joy of a good book was priceless.
I can pretty much guarantee that this book will be a new classroom favorite!
 


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Saturday, August 15, 2015

Our First Week of School

We just finished our first week of school.  To say I'm exhausted would be an understatement, but it was, seriously, a GREAT week!  I have the sweetest group of 1st graders! 
I wanted to share some of the things that we worked on this week, but I will warn you that this post may be a little random.  I think my brain is a little fried right now ;)
Here are my girls and I before heading off to school on Tuesday morning. 
I LOVE that I teach in the same school that my own children attend.  It's been really easy having just my oldest with me after school, but having two every afternoon definitely has its challenges.  I'm hoping that they were just really tired this week, and they won't get on each other's nerves so quickly next week.
My middle started Kindergarten this year :(  Time just flies by, and I cannot believe she is old enough for school already!  I use this frame with my 1st graders, but I made a "cover-up" with Kindergarten on it back when my oldest started kindergarten.
I use this to take pictures of each of my students on the first day of school.  I print these off at Walmart, and then send them in the mail to the parents with a personalized letter. 
#1 Teaching Tip: Always make the first contact a positive one!
One the first day, I share a bag with 5 items that tell about me.  Then, I send home a bag with each student for them to share the next day.
This is always a popular activity, and the students love sharing about themselves.
I loved this idea from Sunny Days in Second Grade to give each child a tub of Play Doh.  The students have to make something with the Play Doh to tell about themselves.  Such a simple, but fun idea!
She likes lollipops, and her favorite movie character is Olaf.
The one above loves cinnamon rolls.
 
Another really fun, and easy icebreaker activity is Name Snowball Fight.  I had each of the students write their own names on a strip of paper.
 Then, they crumbled their paper into a snowball.
 We stood in a circle, and threw our snowballs onto the ground in the middle.  Then, students each grabbed a snowball, opened up the paper, and tried to read the name.  I went around the circle and had the students read the name, and then point to that child.
They LOVED this!!!
We also worked on a craft for our bulletin board in the hallway.  Our school mascot is a lion, so I printed off my students pictures, and cut out their faces.  I glued the faces onto yellow or orange construction paper circles.  I gave each student strips of yellow and orange paper, and had them wrap the strips around a pencil to curl them.
Then, the students glued the strips onto their circles all the way around their faces to make themselves look like lions.
I drew lion noses and whiskers on their pictures with a black marker.  They turned out really cute!
We also completed our Back to School Flip Books and our First Day of School booklets.
 Of course, we also made time for some GoNoodle Brain Breaks!
Like I said...RANDOM POST!  Let's add to the randomness and throw in a Nut Allergy sign.  It seems like I have a student with a tree nut or peanut allergy almost every year, so I always like to post something to let others know that we are a nut free room.  You can download this sign (along with other choices) by clicking on the picture below.
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Peanut-Tree-Nut-Allergy-Signs-Freebie-2033530
 
Thanks for sticking with me through that crazy post ;) 
 
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