Tuesday, April 29, 2014

To All the Moms

Today, friends, I just wanted to share a few sweet and also funny links about Mother's Day.  It's coming up you know and I love when I find things like this to share.  I've been collecting these as I come across them and now I just needed to pass them along.  I took a little screen shot for each one and if you click on it you can go right to the sites where these are.  

First up is for the moms out there that are reading this.  When I found this touching post I knew I had to share it with other moms, especially moms with daughters.  It's just so sweet!  
This is from the blog Confessions of a Stay at Home Mom.  

Next up is a funny video.  Moms will definitely appreciate the sarcasm in this one.  It's from Youtube but there is also an article that goes with it.  I tried to directly link to YouTube but for some reason it wasn't working.  So I will link this screen shot below.  

Finally is this list of things we forget to thank our Moms for.  I'm always a sucker for a Top Ten type list, and this one is so true.  You can click on the title below to read it.  

Now raise your hand if you need to leave the computer and go call your mom.  Me too!  

So in the spirit of all things MOM, I finished this little pack for Mother's Day and it's on sale for the next 2 days.  

This pack includes this craftivity where the flowers flip up for students to write.


A Flower shaped gift book with 3 different versions.

And some printables.

 Wishing you all a Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Five for Friday-Spring Break or Bust?


Actually, for me Spring Break was a BUST :(

I'll get to that in a minute.

First off, I will just let you know that I am linking up with Doodle Bugs for Five for Friday today.  Always a pleasure to join in this one.  Click on the button to check out the other links too.  

Ok, back to my slightly depressing Five for Friday.  Not entirely depressing, but a little disappointing I guess is a better word.  I'm sure I have you on the edge of your seat wondering why, so I'll get right to it.

This was my Spring Break week, which usually means that I can be found lounging around in my PJ's for sometimes days on end.  I get to hang out with my sweet daughters.  I get to catch up on TV.  I get to hang out with my girlfriends and drink some wine.  I even get to check off some things on my to-do list and start or possibly even finish some projects around the house.  

But unfortunately, as of the first day of my spring break - I have been sick.  
Yep - Influenza A attacked with a vengeance!!!  
I got it and then I was nice enough to give it to both my daughters and my husband.  
I'm so good at sharing!  

When they all got it, we were able to get them Tamiflu, but unfortunately I was too far in to take it.  So luckily for them, they only got a mini-flu.  I, on the other hand, got to experience the full blown flu!  

The only positive thing is I got many check-ups from my little Doc McStuffins complete with singing and dancing.  

So I guess I actually did have a week at home with my girls in my PJ's.  
And yes, we did catch up on TV - mostly Disney Junior.  
But unfortunately that is about all we did, and all I could handle.  
I did not get to any projects around the house.  
I did not get to hang out with my girlfriends and drink some wine.  
I didn't even get to go to the park with these two sweeties.  
So for me, Spring Break has been a bust!  

That means it must be time to start the countdown to summer I guess!  Who's with me???

Even though this week wasn't all I had dreamed it would be - there are a few things to celebrate and share.  So moving in a more positive direction - my youngest daughter Hannah turned 3 on Monday!!!  (Yes right in the middle of all the flu fun mentioned above).  Our little Hannah is just the sweetest, sassiest little thing.  She makes me smile and laugh out loud everyday.  She loves to snuggle and give kisses, but she loves even more to make people laugh.  I have a class clown in the making!  She loves to dress up, sing along to Disney movies, and run around like crazy.  She is a shining star and we love her dearly!  

This is a little late in the sharing department, but I wanted to share anyway.  We made this adorable bulletin board a couple weeks ago and it came out so cute.  I got the idea on Instagram from the incomparable Debbie Clement and figured it was quick and cute (my two favorite things) - and a fun way to celebrate the season.   

I did accomplish 1 thing on my to-do list for this week while lounging on the couch and that was my final two monthly installments of my Powerful Prompts - May and June.  I also bundled the WHOLE year together and gave it a great discount.  This is just about the only thing I can feel productive over from my week off, so I have both May and June on sale right now to celebrate.  



I don't really have anything else to share for #5 - so I will just end with a funny ecard.  
So true!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Fluency Fun with Mrs. Russell's Room

Hi there!
I'm wondering how you got here today.  
Was it because you followed the link up set by the fabulous Cassie from Adventures in Teaching?
Adventures in Teaching
 Or maybe you saw my title about fluency and thought to yourself, "I can ALWAYS use a few more tricks up my sleeve when it comes to fluency," and clicked on over.  
If it's the second one, I am right there with you people!  
When I found out I was going to be able to swap products with the amazing Tamara Russell of Mrs. Russell's Room 
I knew right away which product I wanted to get:
This is by far the best thing I have found for keeping track of my students' fluency.  I am so excited to be able to share with you just how amazing it is and then I KNOW you will want it too.  
First of all, this particular pack has enough fluency passages to get you through spring.

There are 5 different topics for each month and 3 levels for each topic.  

I must tell you that Tamara is an absolute genius!  Not only did she provide 3 different levels for each topic, but she also leveled them in just about every different way you might need in your classroom.  Your principals will be kissing you when they see the differentiation going on in your classroom and the data you are able to keep on each child.  But more importantly, you will be able to use this data to target your students' needs better too.  Win-win!

This was so easy to set up in my classroom.  I made multiple copies of the teacher data sheets.  I then copied the student copies of the reading passages onto 3 different colored papers - one color per level - so I could easily grab the one I wanted.

Then I got started (as quickly as possible).  The teacher data sheets are simple to use and include comprehension questions.  I was LOVING how my students could quickly see their progress as we read each passage multiple times.  They were so motivated to beat their words per minute.  Even my lowest readers blew me away with their ability to track print quicker and quicker each time.  So awesome as a teacher to see it happen right before eyes.

Now, I am pretty sure that you are thinking you absolutely NEED to get this yourself.  Well, you might like to know that Tamara has a full year's worth of fluency passages for you to grab.  You can get them at an awesome discount by grabbing the bundle.  She also has a Kindergarten version too - perfect for struggling 1st graders as well.  Just click the picture below to check them out in her store.  
**Just a little side note: the background paper for these pictures was also created by Tamara Russell - oh and it's FREE.  
Did I not tell you she's brilliant???**

You should also check out this blog post of Tamara's where she explains how she organizes her fluency packs into a binder and it includes a FREEBIE to get you started.  She truly thought of everything!
Now for the fun part - you can WIN this product and a bunch of other ones as well - including my Powerful Prompts pack for April that Tamara reviewed HERE.  

And don't forget to check out the rest of the swappers with the link up below.  All of the products above are being reviewed.  

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Bright Ideas for Kinesthetic Learning

Here we are again - another month of AMAZING bloggers getting together to share some Bright Ideas.    This time I'd like to share some ideas for those wiggly, bouncy, chatty, energetic, wonderful, kinesthetic learners.  
We all know 'em.  We all have 'em.
I think kinesthetic learners would pretty much describe almost every child in my class in 1st grade.  Maybe it's the age, or maybe it's just my group of lovelies this year - but either way, I think all primary teachers can agree that it pays to have some strategies in your back pocket to break out when you see the wiggles start kicking in.  Not to mention that most children learn best by doing.  

All of the ideas I'm going to share are ones I use in my classroom.  I'm not claiming to have created these ideas, and I'm sure many teachers use the same ones, but I just wanted to share what I do. 
I hope you will see something that inspires you and you can try out in your own classroom.  I named these ideas just to help explain, but if there is another name for them that maybe I don't know about or if there is an original creator, please feel free to let me know.  I will always give credit where credit is due.

So let's start with some ELA ideas:

 Whole Body Spelling is using your whole body to form letters to spell a word.  You could do this with sight words or other spelling words.  You can do it in the classroom, but my students love going outside to do this.  We even go out in the winter and do this in the snow.  

Write in the air is just a quick way to practice spelling.  We use our fingers in the air as if we are writing and spell words out loud together.  This is a hard one to capture in a picture, but here is my attempt.  Maybe you can tell that they are spelling the word again.  :)

Listen and Jump is something we do when reviewing sight words, rhyming words, or vocabulary words.  In this picture all the kids have sight words and when I say a word that they have, they jump up in the air.  They LOVE this one!  
Sometimes I will give them other words and say if your word rhymes with "cat" then jump up or if your word starts with a "b" sound jump up.  This is also fun because a couple kids might jump up at the same time.  Again - simple, but gets 'em moving.

Lifesize Making Words  - We use letter cards to spell words.  As we stretch out the sounds the kids will either stand up or hold up their letter.  Sometimes we have vowel teams and those kids link up their arms and say their sound together or we put a Super E at the end of the word and have him/her flip the vowel sound.  The person holding the vowel turns around in a circle and says the long vowel sound instead.  Acting out phonics is something that really helps my lower readers.  They seem to remember things like flipping the vowel and linking arms and so on.  Great visual for the whole class.

Finally, and probably our MOST favorite, is a variation of the game Hullabaloo.  This is such a cute game and my 3 and 5 year old girls really love playing this at home.  

In the actual game there are rubber mats that have pictures and words with things like animals, food, instruments, etc.  You spread these out on the floor randomly.  Then you turn on the "announcer".  The announcer says things like "Slither over to a yellow mat" or "Hop over to a food".  The kids move around and find the mats he's talking about.  Then he will say something like, "If you are standing on the elephant you win - take a bow."  It's super cute!  

So I decided to make this into a classroom game to practice word families and as we learn new spelling patterns.  I use these pack of foam shapes that I got from the Dollar Tree.  

Then I write words on them using a sharpie.  Right now we are working on long vowels so the pack of words I'm using has CVCe words, vowel teams, and also includes blends and digraphs.  But in the beginning of the year I just use CVC words and slowly add in blends.  

We spread out the words on the floor and I will give directions like, "Tiptoe over to a word that rhymes with feet" or "Crawl over to a word that has a long e sound."  We just stand next to the word instead of on them and then I have them read the words they chose.  I play this with small groups of children so it is more manageable and because I don't have a ton of room, but it could be played as a class too.  In the actual game kids can share mats, so sometimes we do that too.  

I also use these same cards at our reading table with fun fly swatter to swat the words if we don't have time to spread them all out on the floor.  This is also a class favorite and super quick to set up when I don't have the time for the full thing.

Now for some kinesthetic ideas to use in math: 

First up is skip counting.  We use numeral cards that I quickly printed on the computer and laminated and each child has a number.  We sit in a line or a circle.  If we are counting by 2s for example, we will count around the circle and whisper the odd numbers and then shout (not too loud) the even numbers while those children stand up.  Then we switch it up and count by other numbers.  If we're counting by 3s, we would whisper 1,2 and shout 3, whisper 4,5, and shout 6, and so on.  

For Greater than/Less than we use the same numeral cards.  We make numbers between 0 and 120 (first grade common core standards).  Then I have a student stand in the middle and hold their arms like the sign.  We practice reading it together.  For example: 57 is greater than 46.   We will also make numbers and put them in order from least to greatest or vice versa.  Sometimes we turn the numeral cards into necklaces using sheet protectors and string and they don't have to hold up the numbers.  

This next one is something I am planning on getting when I have the money, but wanted to share it with you.  In my classroom I have made a Lifesize Tens Frame out of a dollar store plastic tablecloth and washi tape for the lines (sorry no picture).  We have kids stand in the tens frame to practice counting, adding, and subtracting using our bodies.  But I also just found online this giant 120 chart and blow up dice that I think I will HAVE to get.  I also saw another one that was even bigger where the kids move around on it.  How fun!  

Finally is my version of Math Hullabaloo.  This is the same idea as the reading version, only using numbers.  Again, I write a bunch of numbers between 0 and 120 on the foam shapes using sharpie.  Then we spread them all out.  I give clues such as, "Dance over to a number with 6 tens" or "Slide over to a number greater than 30."  Super fun!

Thanks so much for stopping by and checking out my Bright Ideas for Kinesthetic Learners.  If you enjoyed these ideas, please consider following my blog on Bloglovin' over on the side or following me on Facebook or Instagram.  

Also, if you're looking for more Bright Ideas right now, you'll definitely want to check out the links below.  I know I'm going to!