Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Fa-La-La-La-La FREEBIES

Hey, hey!!! 
Did you stop by because you saw the word FREEBIES in my title???  
I don't blame you - freebies are FUN!!!  


So I'm not going to take too much of your time today - I'm just going to get right to it!  Then of course you should check out the other freebies in the link-up by clicking the picture above to go to Primary Powers.  

My freebie for you today is part of my Animals in Winter unit.  I'm sure you are in the middle of a Holidaze right now in your classroom, so I wanted to give you something that you could use after the holidays when the dust has settled and the Christmas cookies have all been eaten.  

This freebie has some fun, easy printables for you to use when teaching about Animals in Winter.  To grab your freebie, click on the picture below.


If you want to check out the whole unit (which is one of my favorites!!!), click HERE.  I just sent out for my copies of this unit so I can be prepped and ready for the new year.  

Happy downloading and of course, Happy Holidays!!!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Bloggin' on my Birthday and a Giveaway

Hello friends!!!  I'm just soooo happy you're here because today is my BIRTHDAY and I want to share it with YOU!!!!  

I figured a quick, Five for Friday post and a little giveaway was the perfect way to do that.  (Although I am posting this before linking up with Doodle Bugs because I have big plans later for my birthday and won't be able to link up until after that.)

So here are 5 things I've been up to lately...

This week we started learning about Reindeer - one of my favorite units for this time of year.  I love it for many reasons.  First of all, it is a great way to include some aspect of the holiday season without making it seem like you're just teaching fluff.  The nonfiction and fictional literacy activities included are full of the rigor your administrators would want to see.  No fluff here!  Second, it is a high interest topic and helps keep the kids motivated to learn when that is SO not what they want to be doing during the month of December.  And finally, if you cannot "celebrate" Christmas in your classroom, this helps you bring a little bit of it in without overstepping those lines.  

Here are a few pictures of what we started this week:
This is our chubby reindeer (must've eaten too much turkey for Thanksgiving) we used this little guy to get our minds thinking of what we were about to learn.
Turns out they didn't have a whole lot of prior knowledge about reindeer besides Santa's reindeer.  Lots to learn here!  So we started gathering information with our mini-reader and some fact cards.  

 While we were reading we had to stop to discuss some new vocabulary that came up along the way.

We also sorted these Reindeer facts and opinions as one of our centers this week.


Next week we begin our informational writing and a cute Reindeer craft to go with it.  Tons of Reindeer fun!!!  If you want to check this newly updated unit out, click HERE.



If you visited my blog the other day for my December Currently post, you may have seen my picture of us getting our Christmas tree.  Well, we had a blast decorating our tree that night while listening to Christmas carols.  Truly one of my absolute favorite things in LIFE!  Just LOVE!  I literally went to bed with a smile still on my face.  

Unfortunately, my smile was stolen in the morning when we woke up and our gorgeous tree had fallen right over and was lying there on the floor amidst broken ornaments.  I was so sad!  I'm pretty sure I just stood there with my lower lip sticking out pouting and speechless for a good couple minutes until I realized that my daughter was just looking at me and waiting for my response.  
This isn't our tree of course because I was too much in shock to take a picture.  Just a visual to illustrate my story!

In honor of my fallen Christmas tree I have a quick, new Christmas tree math activity and craft.  This was actually a Facebook Fan Freebie last Christmas and I had a request to put it up for sale.....so I did!  Some of you may have already gotten this as a freebie, but if you missed out last year then you can now grab it at my TpT shop.  


I had my first observation of the year this week.  This is my 13th year teaching and I still get butterflies in my stomach when I am about to be observed.  This one was announced, which I guess is better since you know when they are coming in.  But at the same time, it is also more stressful because you have that much more time to think about it and overthink it.  So it is now over and I just have to wait to hear how I did.  Fingers crossed!  Click on the picture below for an interesting article about classroom observations if you're interested.  I just liked this picture :)




 And finally, I promised a little giveaway as my gift to YOU for my BIRTHDAY!!!  The giveaway will be announced this evening on my Facebook page.  If you don't see my posts in your feed, you will want to change that so you don't miss any future giveaways and freebies.  Go to my Facebook page and click the arrow next to LIKE.  Then click Get Notifications so you don't miss out!  


So thanks for stopping by and checking out my Five for Friday.  And thanks to Doodle Bugs for hosting this fun linky each week!




Sunday, November 30, 2014

Currently...

It's been a while since I've linked up with Farley's Currently and I've missed it.  Such a fun linky!


So here is my December Currently...


Right now, and really for the last week or so, I have been non-stop watching and LISTENING to Hallmark Christmas movies.  I can't stop!!  #cantstopwontstop  I never watch Lifetime or Hallmark any other time of the year, but for some reason I cannot get enough when it comes to cheesy Christmas movies.  

I am LOVING our Christmas tree!!!  We went out yesterday to cut it down.  


Then we went to put on the Christmas lights and two strands needed to be replaced.  So of course I ran out to Target to buy new lights and about 10 other things I didn't need.  #darnyoutarget  Anyway, we finally decorated tonight and it is just perfect.  I love sitting here just staring at it!

Yes, I am THINKING that there are 15 days till break.  I know, we just had a mini-break for Turkey Day, but these next 15 days will be fun and crazy all at the same time and I might be counting down already.  And it also might have something to do with going to Disney World on Christmas Day!!!  I'm a little excited!

I sure am WANTING to find the perfect gifts for the people I love this year.  I might be shopping online every second I get.  I might have stopped typing here a minute ago and checked the latest Cyber Monday deal on Amazon.  

I am NEEDING to check some things off my to-do list - both at home and school.  It's never ending and this time of year I can never get ahead.  Just keep chugging along I suppose.

And finally, I am GIVING more of myself this month.  I want to give more of myself to my family, to my friends, and to my students.  I want to take more time to just be in the moment instead of planning what's next.  This is contradictory to my needing to check more off my to-do list, but when it comes down to it - the people I love deserve it!

Thanks for stopping by to check out what I'm currently up to.  Now I strongly recommend checking out the other Currently links, but ALSO you miiiiiiiightttt want to head over to TpT to go shopping.  The sale has officially begun and you don't want to miss out on the fun!!!


Reindeer Facts and Fun

So I just have to say that this is my FAVORITE pack everrrrrrrr!  


And it just so happens to be my best seller as well.  As I was getting this unit ready this year I decided that I wanted to do a little update.  Since I've had so many fabulous people enjoying this along with me, I thought I would give them some fun little updates to spice it up this year.

Here is what is included in this pack (both what was there before and what is there now).  First, I updated the fonts and clipart because I have found some serious talent in the world and wanted a fresh look.  I also added some real photographs with these Fact Cards.  I can't wait to use these with my kids - they are going to LOVE them!!!
I don't know about you, but my students go crazy for NON-FICTION and really enjoy learning all about reindeer in this unit.  It's also the perfect unit to use in December that brings in some common core AND a fun topic without going Christmas crazy.  (I'm not saying I don't ALSO go Christmas crazy, but I know not all teachers are able to in their schools).

Next up, I added these Vocabulary Activities.  I first did this in my Animals in Winter unit last year and my kids did so well with this little vocabulary book that I really wanted to include it in this unit as well.

Finally, we have the FICTION activities to bring out the other side of things.  These two books make for the perfect literature connection to this unit!  And don't forget the Craftivities, which can be used with either the informational or creative writing.

If you want to check this unit out, just click the picture below.  It will be on sale until Tuesday and then the price will go up.  If you have already purchased this unit then you will want to re-download so you get the updates.



Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Cyber Monday Blog Hop Stop #9

I am so happy you have stopped here along this SUPER fun Blog Hop!  


In case you are just stopping by and realizing what is going on and you want to start from the beginning, click here (just make sure you make it all the way to the end so you can enter the HUGE giveaway at Primary Powers).  

Right here, I decided I would share how GoNoodle has completely and honestly SAVED. MY. LIFE. this year!!  True story!  

Here's the quick back story:

I discovered GoNoodle last year while I was searching for ideas for indoor recess.  Not sure if you were part of the Polar Vortex last winter, but we sure were in Upstate NY and it was cooooooollllllllddddd!!  We were stuck inside for recess for what seemed like months (oh wait, it was months!).  We were in desperate need of some activity in the classroom and GN came to the rescue.  So that was my first interaction with GN and I loved it and so did my kids.  

Fast forward to this year.  I'm in a new school and although I LOVE my new school, it has one downfall --- dismissal time!  

Without boring you with the details of all 6 different possible ways to dismiss each day, I will just share with you that our dismissal time starts at about 2:45 each day and doesn't end until 3:25.  That means that I have students leaving in 6 different groups from my classroom and the last students don't leave until 3:25.  Sooooo, what would you do with them during this time?  Well, I can't very well teach anything.  I don't want to get out games and have them all over the place.  Intervention time would be nice, but there are too many interruptions to get anything done.  So as I said before, GoNoodle has saved my life by being my ONLY option for this part of our day.  There are no supplies necessary.  Students can leave in the middle and it doesn't really matter.  And most importantly - the kids LOVE it!

So here's what we do.  I have two different classes on GoNoodle.  You could have many more if you wanted.  I have my normal class that I still use for brain breaks and indoor recess when needed.  But then I also have one just for my kiddos who are here the latest in the day - I call them 2nd Bus Buddies.    


You can choose from a bunch of different categories with sooooo many choices in each.  Each student has a different favorite, so because this group is smaller we take turns choosing.  

GoNoodle makes the time go by so quickly and keeps them occupied and happy.  And really, what 1st grader do you know who doesn't need a few extra minutes of activity each day?  All kids do!  

Now that you've heard how GoNoodle is capable of saving lives, you should definitely be thinking about getting going yourself.  If you are on the fence (wait, why would you be on the fence if it is FREE???) --- well, if you are, check this out ...

Go Noodle has something for YOU just for stopping by today!  


Starting on Cyber Monday, GoNoodle is also offering all Primary Powers readers 30% purchases from the GoNoodle Shop through December 8! Use the code POWERS30 at checkout to receive the discount PLUS a special gift from GoNoodle and Primary Powers. In addition to new t-shirts, tumblers, and other goodies for GoNoodling teachers, you can purchase affordable, pre-wrapped gift packs for students to bring a little GoNoodle love to your classroom this holiday.


I hope you didn't think that was it.  

No way!!

You can also win this adorable Canvas Tote Bag from GoNoodle too!  There are 5 different characters to choose from.  Every teacher can always use another tote bag.  You could use it to store listening center materials, portable book box/bag, and so much more.  You can't go wrong when it's FREE!



I don't want to keep you too long because I KNOW you want to get hopping along so you can enter more giveaways and check out more ways to use GoNoodle.  At the very end you can enter to win a year's subscription to Go Noodle Plus.  Wahoo!!!!

With all this fun, you just might want to check out the GoNoodle Facebook Fan Page so you don't miss any future FUN going on.  Nobody wants #fomo!


Now click on the picture below to head to A Sunny Day in First Grade.  


Sunday, November 23, 2014

My Classroom Must-Haves Day 2


Hi again!  
So yesterday I shared 3 of my organizational must-haves in my classroom.  Today I am just sharing some things that aren't necessarily for organization, but they do help me in my day-to-day teaching so I thought I would share.  

First up is what I use as my only real homework for my students.  I won't go into my feelings on homework (I'll save that for another post).  But I do think that especially first graders need as much time reading as possible.  Time to practice.  Time to develop a love of literature.  Time to spend with family members (hopefully).  

I hope you have at least heard of Reading A-Z.  If not, feel free to leave and go check them out because their resources are endless!  My school district has provided us with Reading A-Z accounts for about the last 10 years.  I don't use everything and probably don't even know half of what they offer, but I do love their printable leveled books.  They have both fiction and nonfiction texts - at least 25 per level (at this point there are probably way more than that).  So every Monday I send home 5 leveled books for my students to read throughout the week.  I choose books at their independent level and I tell the parents to try to read each book twice to work on fluency.  Each week I switch out the books.  The teacher who retired before me had these all numbered, which was genius, so I just grab the next 5 books in the bin.  It is a little time consuming, but I've gotten pretty quick at it.  I would rather spend some time doing this than time grading homework papers.  Maybe that's just me!  The other great thing is these books are just paper so if they don't come back or get ripped you can just print out a new one.  

My next classroom must-have are my book boxes.  These are just cardboard magazine holders that I spray painted black.  I tried to pretty them up with colored duct tape but it didn't stick enough on the glossy spray paint so I decided it wasn't worth it.  
Each student in my room has a book box.  Every couple weeks we make time to switch books in the boxes.  These books are also leveled, but I do allow them a few "off level" books to put in there for fun (usually library books or seasonal books that I have out on display are hot additions).  My goal is to keep them loving reading by giving them opportunities for choice, and finding books that interest them makes a huge difference.  I also don't really love having students go back and forth to my library area over and over again and thus not putting books back where they go.  Usually when this was an option the kids wouldn't actually spend time reading because they were too distracted.  Now my students will sit for a long time with a bunch of different books to read and not get bored.

No my final must-have may sound a little silly to some, but Mr. Clean and I have a bit of a love affair!  His Magic Erasers are truly magical and are a dry erase dream come true!!!

I use dry erase markers on most things that I have laminated: centers, charts, center board, birthday chart, etc.  So I use these babies... all.  the.  time!  And did you know that Magic Erasers will even erase things like Sharpie (not so permanent, eh?)!  Once I had a substitute teacher use Sharpie on my white board and thankfully Mr. Clean came to my rescue.  

So that wraps up this month's Weekend Warriors.  Thanks for joining me!  Maybe you found a new must-have for your classroom.  Feel free to tell me about your classroom must-haves in the comment section below.  

Thanks for stopping by!




Saturday, November 22, 2014

My Classroom Must-Haves Day 1


Weekend Warriors is here again - and this time with some of our classroom necessities.  I'm going to keep it simple today and stick with 3 of my absolute must-haves.  I am positive that I am not the only one who finds teaching without them nearly impossible.  So let's get right to it!


Oh, Post-Its...how I love you so!  I love the colors.  I love the different sizes.  Post-its and I go way back!  In the picture above you can see some of the ways I use them in my classroom.  I use them during guided reading with the students to go along with various lessons: finding sight words, monitoring comprehension, etc.  I use them to keep track of my student's reading levels in a file folder.  This is so easy to just open up and see my whole class at a glance.  I use them for anchor charts and I also use them in my planbook to remind me of meetings, assemblies, things to do, etc.  

I even use post-its on myself :)  Actually, the kids used them to label me when we were learning about labels in nonfiction texts.  


I am not the only who loves post-its.  This beautiful wall was at the Teachers Pay Teachers office in NYC with notes from the Las Vegas conference.  I'm pointing to the one I wrote.  

I think I should start buying stock in some of these things.  Ziploc bags - Yup, I have boxes and boxes! I organize all of my centers into Ziploc bags.  I use the small ones for smaller pieces and then I put that bag and the rest of the center materials into the gallon size bags including recording sheets and directions.  I ask parents for donations of Ziploc bags in the beginning of the year since we go through so many of them.  The other thing I love about storing centers this way is they easily fit into these plastic bins and I can see right away what I have in them.  Such a time saver and helps the kids stay organized too.  

And speaking of plastic bins or tubs or whatever you want to call them - that's my #3 must have for today.  This picture doesn't even do justice to the number of plastic organizing totes I have in my classroom.  

Every year I buy a few more.  I just wish it didn't cost so much money to be organized.  But it definitely is worth it.

Now check out my friends and what they find necessary to their day-to-day teaching.  You know you want to ;)



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