Friday, August 31, 2012

Labor Day/First Day of School Sale! *Freebie*

Good gravy I am one tired teacher.  Do you ever do this?  You think you are in really good shape.  You even tell people you're in really good shape. Then, for some unknown reason, you fall way behind and feel like you're in last place trying to catch up?!?  That's where I was, but I *think* I'm good to go.  {I think}

I made these cute lil' labels to put on my kiddos at the end of the first day.  I know most of you have been back at it so long that you feel like you never left!!!

You could use these guys at any time of the year to show your love for school! 

Click {HERE} to pick up your freebie!
I'm having a sale over at my TpT store!  Everything is 20% off to celebrate the long Labor Day weekend and my first day of school on Tuesday!  Enjoy!
Only $4 on sale!!! Click the picture to head on over to my store!


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Classroom Complete - Pictures!!!!!!

I had to set my alarm last night.  That was not a happy development in this household of two teachers.  We haven't set the alarm since June.  Of course I'm not sure why I did because I was up at least five times last night thumbing through my mental to-do list.  Yikes. 

Today was a work day in our classrooms.  Thank goodness.  Typically our district saves this work day for the last of our three days back.  Finally they realized they may get a more focused teacher if we aren't fretting over getting our classrooms together before our Meet & Greet. 

I think I'm done.  Well as done as any teacher can be. 

View from my door - looking left...

Another view from my door - straight ahead...

One more from my door - looking right...

The stand up bookcase holds current books - either an author we're studying, books that "fit" the month, etc.  You can also see our writing area and a reading nook... 

A close-up shot of my writing area.  The colorful bins hold our writing folders {one for each table}, bins for our writing paper, etc...

My new couch - found on the side of the road in my neighborhood - one person's trash...

Part of my library area, my rocking chair and whole group teaching area...

Browsing bins in back - one for each table - we use those when working on building stamina.  You can also see our personal bookshelves where we keep all of our own materials for Daily 5...

Here's a closeup of the bookshelf where we keep current reads...

Thanks to Gingersnaps for my Cafe & Daily 5 board!

Got this somewhere in blogland...isn't it a cutie?!?! {Is it yours?!?}

My "desk" area - needs a little work...

Where we keep our class schedule.  Under that are our mailboxes...see the little "ketchup & mustard" bottles?!?

We put our new word wall words here...just two little signs.  The top one is a freebie {here} and "Catch the Reading Bug" which are rules to remember when building can grab them {here}...

I'm loving my new transportation chart.  I switched it up a bit since I left my ribbon at home. I like it though.  I'm going to write the different information on the laminated pieces of paper under each heading with a vis-a-vis.  I got mine from Miss Nelson...

Here's more of my library area...

Just had to take a picture of my koosh balls. Didn't know I collect them, did you? HA!  We use them during Morning Meeting...

Outside of my classroom.  The banner is a freebie from

Outside of my door...see "the carpet" peeking out?

I don't do ladders.  Oh the sacrifices we make for cuteness...Thanks Caitlin Clabby!

There are a few areas I avoided only because they aren't quite how I want them.  I'm in desperate need of a teacher area makeover.  I see some bin purchases in my future but I swear if I buy one more thing for my classroom...yeah, I don't even wanna think about it! HA!

That ya have it!

7:00 is probably too early to go to bed right? 

Want to see more classrooms?  Head on over to these linky's...

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Nonfiction Reading/Writing - Shoo, Shoo, Shooby Doo...

I thought making the title of my post just "Nonfiction Writing" wasn't snazzy enough.  It wouldn't show my enthusiasm for teaching this type of reading & writing...

Shooby Doo...

I weave nonfiction reading into guided reading groups, read alouds and "bless" many a nonfiction book before book shopping on Fridays.  I really hunker down with it a little later in the school year...say April'ish.

I think I like teaching nonfiction because I know how much my first graders gravitate toward it.  Show 'em a bolt of lightning or a photograph of a real brain and they are putty in your hands. Tell them what happens to their food after they chew and swallow...especially the "ending" of that little scenario and they don't move a muscle - never a more attentive audience.  {Same effect when you add the word "but" to your word wall, I digress} Add animals to the mix and you've got 'em right where you want 'em.

I  work real hard to align my reader's workshop mini lessons with my writer's workshop when I delve into nonfiction.  I find that when the kiddos spend a lot of time figuring out how nonfiction works - with its text features/conventions, they are better able to write a nonfiction story. 

I'm thrilled to have finished up my own nonfiction writing unit of study.  I just love how it turned out!  I've used most of its components for the last few years, but spent a lot of time this summer tweaking and explaining exactly what I do, how I do it and cutesied up my my printables. 

Click the picture to find it at my store!

My favorite way to go about this is to use the nonfiction text feature notebooks created by Jen Jones over at Hello Literacy.  Jen wrote a great blog post about her notebooks {here}.  She recently revamped them and aligned them with The Core. 

Here's her preview:

I give each student their own notebook and they take such good care of that thing. I don't know what it is.  It's like their own little nonfiction diary or something.  We study one text feature each day {in the order of the notebook}.  We look for them in nonfiction books {that I keep handy in bins during this entire unit}, we read the descriptor that Jen has written in a way that they understand, and we cut out an example of that text feature and glue it on the page.  Examples are provided in the pack for you to cut and glue.  We also look for them in old Scholastic News or Weekly Readers.

Once the kids have quite a few text features under their belts we delve into my writing pack.  I have my kiddos study an animal because they are super into them and I have a lot of books at their level that they can do research with.  It's a big hullabaloo, for sure, but if you spell it out and take it slowly - the end product is a work of art!!!! :)

You know how I love reader's and writer's celebrations {just search it in my blog and you'll find some ways I like to celebrate our learning!} so I've created a certificate to give to your kiddos once they have completed their first nonfiction story.  Click on the picture to pick yours up for free!

Click the picture to get yours free! {In B&W too}
Tomorrow is my LAST day of freedom.  I told myself I wasn't going in this weekend, but I did end up going in for a bit today.  I did it so I could spend the day with my family tomorrow...without thinking {much} about my classroom! 

Have a great week!


Friday, August 24, 2012

Classroom Setup {Finally} Pictures Galore!

hi -
That 'h' is lowercase for a reason - I'm too tired to go back and fix it.  I don't even have kids to teach yet.  I'm still setting up.  Problem is I'm on hyperspeed.  Usually the day I turn my calendar to August, I pack up my car with the inevitable craziness I've collected throughout the summer months...

...and work at my leisure.  A little here, and little there.  Not this year.  They were working on the plumbing, waxing the floors...the whole shebang.  I must say, our custodial staff banged it out and spiffed it up - but c'mon, you know us teacher-folk can't wait until THREE days before we actually HAVE to be at school to start setting up our classrooms.  It was a crazy sitch - oh my.  You should have seen the texts flying when we got word that we could get into our classrooms at 3:30 on Wednesday afternoon...

I was one happy teacher...

And a timely one too...

But then I walked {with stocking feet, carefully, not to ruin the still tacky just waxed floors} into this...

And walked in circles.  Literally.  Such grandiose plans...but on a time crunch.  I realize there are some of you who were hired on a Friday and had to report to work on a Monday.  Kid you not - I don't think my uptight ways could manage that. 

My first plan was to get my furniture where it needed to go with minimal dragging {don't want to ruin that pretty wax job}. That was pretty tough and I learned that I'm not so good at maneuvering anything on a dolly. 

A friend of mine whose classroom was pretty much all spiffed up sent me a text asking how I was coming along.  This is what I sent her...

Got my furniture situated and called it a day.  I had my first back to school dream that night.

Bright eyed and bushy tailed....Day 2

I did finally find my groove and thought I'd give you a sneak peak.  I forgot my camera so I took a few snapshots with my phone.

My cute little table numbers...

From my door...

My word wall letters. Thanks Katie from Queen of the First Grade Jungle!!! I ended using mine differently, I'll show you that later.

Star of the Week

We'll put our self portraits around our pledge the first week of school...

Trying to decide who our first Author Study will be - any ideas?

From my Cutesy-Up Your Classroom pack {Here}

Taking the weekend "off" {lots of laminating, cutting & name writing to take care of} and will head back in on Monday.  Teachers official first day back is Tuesday.  I can do this...right?!?!

Happy weekend to my friends already teaching!!!!

Monday, August 20, 2012

I Got a Surprise Parcel!!! *Freebie Too!*

Oh my goodness!  We returned from an amazing trip to Northern Michigan...

We did so much sight-seeing, ice cream eating, reading, boat riding and sunset watching that it sure was hard to come back!  But....sleeping in your own bed sure does rock too!

Thanks to my guest bloggers, Christina & Kimberly, for helping me out and keeping my blog company while I was gone! 

Five plus hours in a car with two boys definitely tests one's patience so imagine my relief when we pulled into our driveway {safe and sound is something else I consider a blessing} and found a package waiting for me.  I thought and thought "What did I order?!?!" Hurry - distract the hubby...

Well I didn't order anything - but if you head back to this post {here} you'll remember those wonderful folks over at  They decided to send a happy surprise my way. {That's my kind of freebie!!!}  I'm not quite sure how they knew I, a first grade teacher, might be in need of some crafty this and that - but they did!!!! 

If you need to beef up your teachery stash you can head on over to Walmart...great people watchin', affordable products and lots of variety.  That's one stop shopping at its finest!!!!!

So, you would think that while on vacation I wouldn't give two thoughts to school, right?  Shaaaa, who am I kidding?  Of course I did.  It happened on our one and only "rain out"...we ended up at Target...{it may or may not have happened due to my persuasion} why not?!?  Stopped by the dollar spot, but sadly, I already had pretty much EVERYTHING in there.  Have mercy.  Then we landed in the game was going to be a long rainy day in the cottage...and I found this cool thing!

"Let your imagination roll wild"...

And while you're at it, beef up your sense of story!

There are nine cubes with different pictures on each side.  The pictures can serve as ideas for how to build your story.    All your kiddos need experience with is how stories "work". You have a beginning, middle and end and some other "stuff" mixed in.  Story Cubes can be played alone or in a small group.  Which made me think they could do this during some sort of literacy center or in a small group setting {guided reading groups - which is where I would start}.  You could even start out as a whole group and do a shared write on chart paper.  Endless ideas.

Some of the pictures on the cubes are:
*earth *building *airplane *apple *flashlight *eye *rainbow *fish *flower *moon *alien *cell phone

And lots more! 

I was thinking my kids may be all over the place at first when trying to create a story using these cubes, so I thought I'd provide a prompt poster to keep them on target, limit the number of cubes they can use, and also provide a recording sheet if working independently - this is a great way to differentiate for those kids needing a little more. 

Click the picture to pick yours up from my store ~ FREE!
Hope you enjoy it!

Can you believe I have yet to go into my classroom? There was some construction going on in our school - so we've been unable to step foot into it!!!! YIKES!  Sooooo...I can go in on the 23rd and we officially go back {for meetings and all that jazz} on the 28th.  Yikes, again!!!!  I'm just a wee bit worried about getting it all done.  Well, we all know teachers can work miracles - so it *will* get all done.  I guess I should add will it get all down with my sanity still intact?!?! 

Send some positive vibes my way...


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Guest Blogger ~ Mitten Friend, Christina Bainbridge!

Yoo hoo!  It's me- Christina from *Bunting, Books, and Bainbridge*!  My pal Holly is out enjoying the last few weeks before we Michiganders head back to school next month... I'm sure she's having a great time with the fam!

Bunting Books and Bainbridge

If you are anything like me, then help us all... there are two of us!... but seriously... you have a HUGE collection of books that are no-nos for your students.  Not that we don't love to share, but these are special books, just perfect for teaching, that we have set aside for that perfect lesson or unit.

Please tell me I'm not the only one!

Well, I used to keep mine organized like this:

All shoved and stuffed and crammed and jammed into a crate.  I had three other crates looking just as unorganized as this one too!

But then I got a new job and I had to pack which led to unpacking which led to an overhaul in my organization.

I found these amazing little baskets at Target... where else but in the Dollar Spot (they were actually $2.50) so then I broke my books down into the comprehension skill I thought they worked best for...

And this is what happened.

That mess up there became this...

Eight of those baskets, each one containing the books that I will use to teach one (or two) different comprehension skills and strategies.

If a basket is featuring two types of skills, there is a divider between the two sets of books... like so:

 Inside each book, I have written the skill I plan to teach using that book.  And I have one basket labeled "Just for fun" which contains my books like Bear in Underwear and Bear in Pink Underwear... both of which you must find and buy immediately if you don't own them!

Then there is the matter of my personal books that I like to bring out only during certain times of the year...

When I taught 1st/2nd, they lived on a little bookshelf and I would do my best to remember to pull out the books and share them... but I think this will work *so* much better!  I got these bins at the Dollar Tree last summer.  I had been using them for my math workstations, but they are now my seasonal/holiday book holders!  And I think it will be *so* easy just to pull out the basket and then put it away at the end of the time/holiday/etc...

Wouldn't you know it... for some reason I didn't save either of those files.  Either.  None.  Zero.  NOT SAVED!  But I love you all so much that when I guest blog for the famous Holly from Crisscross Applesauce in First Grade I don't leave her followers with nothing... so, I have re-made the holiday/seasonal circles just a little differently and a little more "generic" for you... just in case you'd like to use them!

Click HERE or the pic below to download them... and leave a little comment love for me and my girl Holly too!

I hope ya'll will pop over to my blog and say hi too!

Thanks for having me Holly!!!

Thanks for stopping by, Christina, and for the awesome organizational tips! {And a freebie to boot!} Head on over to Christina's blog for more awesome ideas!!!!
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