Sunday, September 15, 2013

Daily 5 Launch & Lakeshore Learning at Home

I never thought we were going to reach our 15 minute stamina....EVER! I did not start Daily 5 until the second week of school. I am teaching high ability first graders this year & I let them choose their books on the first day.
 I am going to be honest..... I let them loose in the library before I knew their reading level. I don't always like to look at their previous reading levels, I want to find out their ability on my own. I was pleasantly surprised how excited they were to choose books. My classroom library is huge & they are in love. I never thought I'd have to say "Are you active listening when your nose is in a book?" Seriously....I have to say that several times a day.
 I showed them how our library is organized by level. I am HUGE on pushing AR & all of my books are AR books in the library. If they are not, they don't make the cut.

 I had to make sure they only were taking 5-7 books. I do allow them to keep a chapter book or any book they want in their desk...this is a first for me. We go book shopping ONLY on Mondays. The only exception is if they take an AR test on a book in their bin, they are allowed to trade it out for a new book. It works out perfect.

I was very excited to see how much they love books & reading. They would read all day long if I let them! What a great problem to have, huh? Well.....after the first day of reading without technically doing any Daily 5 lessons...the honeymoon was OVER. I cried. They fooled me and then got all comfortable in our classroom. Happens every year...sigh. the second week of school we were officially building our stamina. Here is our stamina timer on the smartboard for our first day. We lasted under 2 minutes...uh-oh. 
Me: "Class, lets put our book bins away & come meet as a group."
So then we go over what Read to Self was supposed to look like.

 I pulled the above graph up on our smartboard. We fill in 3 minutes. I show them where we need to be to move onto Read to Someone....GASP!
 Here is the anchor chart I use as well. I don't always leave our stamina timer displayed if they are obsessively looking at it. I will leave this anchor chart up as a reminder. As I am observing & looking very busy, I am also passing out stamina necklaces to two girls & two boys. They have to be showing perfect stamina or a big improvement in order to receive a necklace. First of all, they love getting these necklaces. It makes them feel so special. They also get a perfect stamina slip attached to their agenda & a BIG FUZZY. 

We were up to about 10 minutes in this picture and then I was pulled out for two days to TRC test. I just love being pulled out of my classroom to test right when we are on our way...said no teacher EVER. Anyway, as you can guess, we were back to square one & had to start over. This time our first goal was 6 minutes & we slowly increased our time each day.
We also needed to separate around the room a little more. The reading buddies were put away after I witnessed Pete the Cat fly passed me while in Read to Self. 

I let them choose their spot & sit where they were comfortable. I brought in some more pillows & allowed more options to spread out & we were on our way to 15 minutes again.

I made an executive decision to limit only 8 students in our classroom library. They just can't control the talking long enough. This is a VERY TALKATIVE class but we are working very hard on this. In turn, this is an incentive to finish their morning work quickly to get in the library. After I purchased more pillows, refilled our bean bags, it was on. One of my students that worked turtle slow was all of a sudden the first one finished! Whatever it takes. He has to have the cushy pillow. 

Of course I did a really fun I-Pick lesson. Let's just say one of my little nuggets was not happy wearing my Toms & they were cute too! Needless to say, I wore his shoes...on my big toe & he wore mine. They giggled, fell off their chairs because it was so hysterical...really I'm not kidding.


Just as a reminder to choose "Just Right" books, I whipped up these bookmarks for them. They are in black & white & I just printed them on NEON paper & then laminated them. Click on the picture above to grab this freebie. Follow me while you are there....I will be updating most of my Daily 5 freebies.

Lakeshore Learning, my favorite teacher store, is now carrying a new line of products! They have created these incredible products you can find here for learning at home. PERFECTION!  

I decided to try this out in my 2nd grade math class. They are perfect for a math station or for early finishers. The selection was hard to make but as always, Lakeshore never disappoints me.

CLICK HERE for a 20% off coupon from Lakeshore Learning. It does expire on 10/31/13. Click on the picture below to grab your own Math Tic-Tac-Toe.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

9/11 Freebie for Little Learners

The day that changed America...............
I will never forget the day that changed our world just 12 years ago. How do you discuss this with children that weren't even a glimmer in their parent's eyes? Do you? There are several books that I have read in the past when children have asked me questions about the events of 9/11. Yes, first graders have asked me. Always ask them what they know first & don't offer any additional information, leave that up to their parents.
I always like to be prepared just in case. I know it is very last minute BUT, that's how I roll & I want you to have back up plans just in case.
Great book to read the littles........

Here is a freebie that can be used not only for Patriot Day (9/11), but any time of the year. You can thank a hero with a letter any day of the week. 

Don't forget to follow me while you are there.


Monday, September 2, 2013

Loads of August Randomness & a FREEBIE!

As you know I tend to disappear around this time of the year. I have been coo coo for cocoa puffs CRAZY busy! I'm sure you all can relate. I am now teaching high ability kiddos with brand new curriculum....eek! 

I honestly don't know what direction this post will go in because trust me, it is all about randomness! I will start by showing you some project pics. 

Yes, this would be the hubs modge-podging. He was a modge-podging maniac this summer & we are still not done! I we prefer to modge-podge on the outside of the drawer. I like the way the color pops.
Do you agree? As you will see in this post I am a tiny bit obsessed with chalkboard & neon decor. Do I still have peace signs, yes, of course I do.
These are their little trash baskets for scraps....for now. These were only $1 @ Michaels! This was chosen by Michaels in their #createtoeducate #sweepstakes on Instagram...follow them here. They sent me a $50 gift card! It was spent the next day! Don't forget to follow them on Pinterest as well. 

Here is my love helping me out on the porch. He is happy as long as I am next to him along with an IPA from Three Floyds.

I marked all my NEON pencils with chevron washi tape. Isn't it pretty? The neon cups were purchased in the Target $ spot.

I have these around my room with student names on popsicle sticks. Where are the neon popsicle sticks people????
I found this frame at Marshall's (my second home). I found this print here & just sent it off to Walgreen's & wah-lah! Holy cuteness, right? They also have a #fabfound contest on Instagram. I tore off the back & velcroed it to the side of a bookshelf. 

Well, look at that! Another cup! I finally replaced my old "secret walker" cup with an updated version. I write all my students names on these special colored craft sticks. My line leader picks a secret walker stick & only the line leader & I know who it is. IF the secret walker is quiet, they get a BIG FUZZY. If they are not, they OWE a BIG FUZZY. Speaking of walking in the halls.....I have never had students so jumpy, hoppy, dancy, fidgety, bouncy, etc. in the halls! So if they are doing any of the above, they OWE a big fuzzy. 
Speaking of fuzzies. I finally replaced my old containers with new ones! I found them at my second home, you know Marshall's. They are actually snack containers but they have a lid! Um, yes please.
I don't know about you, but it drives me NUTSO when they are digging around for crayons. I am not even sure who posted about this first but the idea it GENIUS.

These are their pretty library sticks. My niece & the hubs spray painted wooden paint sticks. I used to have my kiddos use water colors on them, which turns out really cute too. But, since their teacher is obsessed with neon I had to spray paint something.
My shelves are literally buckling as I type. This photo was featured in an article published recently by TODAY.COM. This was just about the most exciting thing that has happened to me! 

I am forcing myself to hold off on replacing them until we get our new school. Did I tell you we are moving in December to a BRAND NEW school??? I can't even think about it because I will get stressed. It's very exciting but stressful all at the same time. 

They have a live web cam on the construction at all times. Cool, huh? I told you this post is back to the library.

I bought those chevron shoe boxes at Michaels. I am now storing my chapter book series in these. Since I am teaching high ability, I had to find a spot for these and put them out right away.
I found this new classroom rug this summer when I was a back to school shopping maniac. I was browsing online & stumbled across this rug in the college living section on The quality is excellent & it's very reasonably priced! I think I might need another one! Click here or on the picture to grab your own. 

These tubs are from Big Lots. I used to use the Monday-Friday bins from Lakeshore but I had to switch to these. I put everything I need for the entire day in these drawers. 
After my summer full of purchasing washi-tape daily, I needed to find something to do with it. Here is my mom marking the supplies in each table bin using different tape. This way, I will know when my little nuggets try to hi-jack one of my neon pencils or markers. Ha!

Here is the shelf BEFORE my brother did his magic.

I found this chevron shelf liner at Marshall's some time last year. I originally was going to use it on a make-up table that my mom refurbished. Then I saw someone had painted the entire shelf & then used this shelf liner in the back. I am so in love with this! It took my brother some time to do it but it turned out perfect! If you like this you have to check out Jennifer from First Grade Blue Skies & Maria from Kinder-Craze....they did similar projects way before me. 

 I haven't seen the shelf liner since but I know you can find it on Amazon here. 
Do you send home Highlights home to your students? I ALWAYS do & as a BONUS Highlights gives teachers free stuff.  The above containers I used to use for crayons. I would put only blue crayons in the blue cup. Well this year with my duct tape & neon obsession I decided to give this a make-over. Well, I told the hubs what my vision was & he had it done when I woke up. 

He truly amazes me! He spray painted the metal part & then used this chevron duct tape to cover. Do you think my students will be excited over these Scentos??? Um, I think so. They haven't made an appearance in the writing center but they will be soon! Before you ask...the duct tape can be found at Target, Michaels, Walmart or Joann Fabrics. Scentos are carried at Walmart or Michaels. 

I found this organizer at & love it!

Here is another Lakeshore organizer make-over. The hubs spray painted the metal black & then used different colored duct tape on the bins.

This organizer is from Lakeshore. It originally came with primary poly file folders. The hubs spray painted the metal black. Covered the cups with chevron duct tape & I ordered neon folders from Mardel.  We glued each label to the front & wah-lah! An updated organizer for a very reasonable price!

Here is another view of my favorite rug! I am slowly getting rid of anything primary colored & going for bright neon and black. 
Here is the kiddos on the very first day of school. I gave them their book bins right away to go book shopping. They were familiar with the IPick procedure from Kindergarten. Of course, we reviewed it soon after. 

 Since I am updating everything I thought I would update my Daily 5 Choice Chart! I had to get some close ups because I am really loving it!

I am a strong believer in Daily 5 being about choice. I have always let my students choose where they are going in Daily 5. However, I am preparing myself for a few students that I think I have to make that decision for them so I want to be prepared. I will keep one side & track where they are going & matching it up to their sheet. They will simply color in the little icon each day. Hopefully we will get to three rotations this week. Click on any pic above to grab this Daily 5 freebie! I hope you can use it!

If you are interested in my chalkboard neon labels click on the pic above! Happy organizing!

The first 5 people to leave me a positive comment on their favorite make-over project will get the labels for FREE!