History of Centers

I love blog hopping on Sundays because there are so many amazing bloggers out there sharing their plans for the upcoming week.  Don't you just love taking a peek into someone else's classroom to see what they are doing and hopefully find a few ideas.  Speaking of taking a peek............DeeDee Wills over at Mrs. Wills Kindergarten has a great linky called Peek at my Week where bloggers link up with their extremely impressive visual plans.  Wow!!!!  It's enough to make any teacher feel inspired and inadequate all at the same time.  So, since I don't see myself making those amazing visual plans this year (maybe next year), I thought I might at least show a piece of my week.   

When I first started writing this post I thought I would just be showing you what centers I am doing next week, but then I took a different direction and went with how I organize my centers and the history of centers - in MY classroom.  So here it is......not what I thought it was going to be, but hopefully worth reading!  :-)

This being my first year in first grade (I think I say that in every post) I had quite the time finding out what worked for my little firsties when it came to centers compared to what used to work with 3rd graders.  

SPOILER ALERT--------things that worked in 3rd grade don't always work the same in 1st grade!  

I'm not saying that some things can't work, it's just that I had to really work my way through September and October before I found what was going to work with my little firsties during center time.   I was changing my routine a little bit every week in order to find what worked for this group I have this year.

Let me give you the run down of what we tried:  

First I tried rotating so they would have 4 stations a day - with me being one of them!!!  NOPE - that was a bust!  Part of my problem was that my centers were not all able to be finished in 15-20 minutes.  Some students finished, most did not.  Then what do you do with the unfinished work.  It just begins to pile up!  And it wasn't their fault they weren't finishing - it was my fault for not realizing that in September, 1st graders are still really Kindergartners and have totally forgotten over the summer what school is really all about.  

Next I tried rotating them 4 times, but this time I wasn't one of the rotations.  They had 3 stations and one rotation was seat work.  I would pull groups randomly from a station and then didn't expect them to finish the one I pulled them from.  This was a management nightmare --- who didn't finish because they didn't understand or weren't focused compared to who didn't finish because I pulled them during that center.  Then they would miss some much needed review.  

Finally I moved to having one priority center a day (doesn't matter how long it takes to finish), seat work, and then choice centers.  Therefore each student had two things to complete daily, which was much more manageable.  I only needed 4 priority centers a week because one day each week (usually Friday) we don't do centers and we focus on our theme of the week or holiday activities.  

If students finished their priority center and their seat work, then they could go to a choice center.  My choice centers are very low maintenance, which is what I LOVE!  Choice centers are: Buddy Reading, Independent Reading, Computers, Listening Center, Big Book Center, Math Games, and sometimes another theme/holiday related activity.  

I pull groups from wherever they are and when we are done they go back to what they were working on.  This time it works because they only have one priority center and seat work to finish during our block, which is usually a little more than 1 hour.  They don't have to get to the choice centers, but of course they want to.  

Here is what it looks like in my classroom:

This is my Centers chart that lists the priority center and seat work.  (You'll notice some groups had to be split because they were too large of a group and there were some noise issues when they ALL worked together).   These center cards are FREE in my TpT.  Click HERE to grab them.   This past week I had a math center and then I used my numbered centers (1, 2, 3).  Sometimes I might have a writing center, word work center, etc.  

This is how they choose a Choice Center.  They each have a clothes pin with their student number on it.  If they finish their required work, then they can clip it on their center of choice.  There is a certain number of children allowed at each choice center and once it's filled, they can't choose that one today.  

I encourage them to switch it up each day and if I notice that the same ones are always on the computer, for example, I tell them they need to choose something else.  In order to be sure the kids don't rush through their priority work before going to choice centers, we check over their center work each day and decide if it is their best effort.  They can earn small rewards for great effort.  I check over their center work at the end of the reading block and it only takes about 5-7 minutes to look quickly at papers and it is worth it to address issues and recognize where students struggled.  

That pretty much tells you a little bit about how I tried to organize my centers this year in 1st grade.  I tend to change things up a little bit every year and depending on what works for my class at the time, so I will most likely make changes next year.  We'll just have to see when the time comes.  I'll keep you updated!

If you have a blog post about how you do centers in your room or if you'd like to leave me a comment about what you do ---- I ALWAYS LOVE reading about how other teachers do things.  

Thanks so much for reading and I hope you had a fantastic Easter if you celebrate it, or a wonderful weekend regardless!  

Spring Cleaning and Math Centers

I am finally on Spring Break!!!!  I hope that there are many others out there who can say the same thing.  Isn't it such an amazing feeling to leave work at the end of the day knowing that you have a whole week off?  Ahhhhh!  Time to sit back and relax.  I get to hang out with my two favorite girls.  I get to catch up on some much needed girl time.  I might even do some actual spring cleaning in my house --- lord knows it needs it.  The best part is, I am on nobody's schedule but my own.  

So in honor of this great feeling, I am linking up for a Spring Cleaning Sale on EVERYTHING IN MY STORE for 2 days!!!!  Click on the button above to go to my store.  

Click HERE to see who else has linked up and is throwing their own sale over at The Creative Chalkboard.  Thanks to Krista Wallden for the sale button.  

This is the perfect chance for me to tell you about my latest product --- my Common Core Math Centers  SET 2!!!!!

This is obviously the second set of Common Core based Math Centers that I have out. Click HERE to check out my post about my first set.  Or you can click HERE to see it in my store.  My first set has Number Cards 1-120 and 13 different Math Centers that can be used and reused throughout the year.  You can change them and differentiate based on the numbers you choose to include in the center.

This new set can also be used and reused throughout the school year.  Set 2 focuses more on place value, and addition and subtraction equations.  There are 7 different centers in this set, but the Super Sums and Dazzling Differences centers are split into 4 and 3 different sets respectively.  So really, you are getting 14 centers in this pack with a variety of ways to change them up throughout the year.  

I hope you'll check them out!  

And don't forget to go to Krista's blog to see who else is throwing a sale.  

Happy Spring Cleaning Shopping!!!!

Hatching into Spring Freebie

Ok, a week ago I had a snow day and was introducing my new Phonics "Ph"riends packs.  You can check out those packs in this post by clicking HERE.  At the end of the post I said I hope the weather looks a little more like spring next week than it did that day......well, guess what.......it did!!!!!  Brace yourself because today...........yes, today..........the sun ACTUALLY CAME OUT!!!!!  That's right!!!! I saw it!!!!!  And the temperature was in the 40's.  So, it did look, and feel, a little more like spring one week later.  Have I mentioned that I REALLY WANT SPRING!!!! I am craving warm weather!!!  

So here's a cute little activity we did and you can download the writing that goes with it at the end of this post.  

First of all, I LOVE TARGET!!!!!  I bought these adorable foam egg pieces at Target for $5.00.  There were like 40 sets in the pack and you could mix up the colors.  Sooooo cute!  I wasn't sure what I was going to do with them and then this idea "hatched".  Ha ha!!!  Did you catch my play on words???  Ignore the corny comments - I think I have Spring Fever!  

Considering how much I am aching for spring, our theme this week was, what else, but SPRING!!!  We started with a circle map.  Which, let me digress to say that I am in need of some anchor chart lessons.  I SO wish I could make the GORGEOUS anchor charts I see on Pinterest from you fabulous bloggers out there.  I have anchor chart envy for sure!  But, nonetheless, here it is!  Nothing too great, but I try :-)

So then we moved onto the writing about Spring - what we hear, what we see, and of course, what we like about Spring.  Click on the picture below to grab your copy.  There are 2 versions of this writing paper because I did a rough draft first and this one pictures was the final copy. 

Finally I took picture of the kiddos and told them to put their hands up like they were hatching out of an egg.  Some of them were hysterical!!!  

 I hope you might be able to use this little freebie in your classroom and more importantly I hope you can grab those adorable eggs from Target to complete the project.  I loved the way they came out!!

Happy Spring everyone --- those of you down south, keep sending the sun and I'll try to keep sending out some freebies!!!

Easter Freebie Just for My "Peeps"

I was sitting around on my Sunday thinking.....I need to make a freebie JUST FOR MY BLOG FOLLOWERS!!!  So, that's what I did!  

We've been working on measuring using non-standard measure lately.  I hope this little Peep center is something you will find useful this week (or next, if you are on break right now).  By the way, I'm jealous of those of you on break right now!!!

Click on the pictures below to get your FREEBIE!!!!!

Just print and laminate.  Use the strip of peeps to measure the pictures.  It's a quick and easy center, but the kids will LOVE it!  

****I updated this (3/27/13) with two versions of the measuring strip for the peeps.  You could choose whichever one works for your kiddos.  If you downloaded it earlier, you might want to re-download.  ALSO - check out this post to be sure you are printing this PDF correctly.   I found that I had to check my printing options to make sure the images didn't shrink ****

Don't forget about the giveaways!!!!!  Check them out at this post.

Snow Day and a Freebie

SNOW DAY!!!!!!!

I was all ready for spring.  Each year our weather seems to provide such a tease.  We get a week or so of 50-60 degree weather and I start thinking - YES----SPRING!!!!!!  I start packing up my sweaters, put the kids snowpants and boots away, and anything below 40 degrees seems extremely freezing to me.  Then.....as upstate New York seems to do every year - I get tricked.   Darn you lake effect snow!!!!  The only positive to this whole winter trickery is of course --- the unexpected snow day.  It's what teachers, who are really just big kids, live for.  Am I right???  So here we are, on the last day of winter and I am home with my kiddos for a snow day.  I guess if it has to snow and prolong the arrival of spring, at least I can get a snow day out of it.  

This gives me the perfect opportunity to introduce some new items I've been working tirelessly on.  My kids were having a tough time as we moved into digraphs and blends.  Not the entire class, but those little lovelies who just can't seem to hold anymore new sounds in those brains right now.  So it was time to turn into something a little more fun and give them a visual to hold onto.  And then the Phonics "Ph"riends were born - not literally of course!  I had so much fun thinking of all the little characters I could use for these packs.  So far I have finished the Digraphs (ch, wh, th, sh) and started the Blends.  I am also planning on making some packs for short and long vowels to start the year off next year.  The practice pages in my packs are so much more interactive and motivating then your typical worksheet that we have in our basal program.  I am so excited to keep working on new packs to take us through the whole year.  

Here is a glimpse into these first two packs, and at the bottom you will find a link to my Tw-Blend FREEBIE. 

The digraph pack has over 70 pages of fun.  There are Digraph reference cards and mini-posters, Digraph "Ph"riends posters, mini-books, tons of printables for each digraph, and centers.  

The L-Blend packet has over 50 pages of fun.  Again, you will find L-Blend reference cards and mini-posters, L-Blend Lions posters and mini-book, printables and centers.  

Here is the Tw-Blend FREEBIE!!!!  I just love the Twin Turtles for this one - so cute!  This one also has reference posters, mini-book, printables, and centers.

Click on the pictures to grab your own copy.  

I would love any feedback you might have.  I plan on adding to these packs in the future based on any suggestions I receive.  Like I already mentioned, I am working on finishing up the two other blends packets: R-Blend Rabbits and S-Blend Squirrels.  Once those are finished I will have a Blend Bundle.  Phew - I'm tired just thinking about it :-)

I'm hoping that in a week the weather outside will look MUCH MORE like Spring!!!!!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!

Who doesn't love St. Patrick's Day?!?!?!?!?!  And of course, how could you not love leprechauns????

I had the chance to go out with a couple of my girlfriends last night for some much needed girl time.  It wasn't necessarily in honor of St. Patrick's Day, but just because mommies need nights out!!!!  Don't get me wrong, I love my husband and kids and LOVE our family time.  But, isn't it just SO nice to get away with your girlfriends?  Without kids, we actually have time to chat, catch up, and of course drink some wine.  

Ok, that is not the purpose of my post, but somehow when I think of St. Patrick's Day the first thing I think of is NOT my classroom :-)

Well, here is what we did in my classroom to prepare for St. Patrick's Day.  By the way, I had high hopes of doing some super cute leprechaun trickery....but alas, time got away from me and it did not happen.  I found some great inspiration for next year from my blogging friend Irene at Learning with Mrs. Leeby.  You need to check it out - she is super cute and has great ideas!!!

So, back to what we did...

First off was this nonfiction reader about St. Patrick's Day.  It is very basic, but I loved teaching the kids a few small facts about St. Patrick's Day.  

Next up was this 3 Wishes craftivity.  Can you believe that I wrote a poem????  I'm not saying it's anything amazing, but I really loved using this and having my kiddos write what their 3 Wishes would be if they caught a leprechaun.  I was surprised to see that many of my kids wished for things like ice cream and pizza.  Really???  But then some other ones got into it and wished for 100 dollars or a monster truck.  Don't you just love how firsties think $100 is so much money.  Adorable!!!!  My favorite was the little boy who first wished for a driver's license, then for a car, and finally to be 16 so he could get his license --- only he switched the digits and wrote "I wish I were 61."  I said, "Why do you want to be 61?"  He says, "No way, I don't want to be 61 - I meant 16!"  and erased it immediately.    

I love the leprechaun that is mad!  I think he's not happy to have to grant 3 wishes.  Haha!!!

Finally, we wrote about how we would go about trying to catch a leprechaun.  The kids drew a picture of a trap they would design with labels.  Then they wrote the things they would need and 4 steps to catching one.  Here are just 2 examples:

First I get a rock, fishing pole, and a coin.  Next I put the coin on the fishing pole.  Then I yank hard!  Then I would be quiet.  It would not rain.  Last, I will set a trap for a leprechaun.  

***I think he meant I will trap the leprechaun.  I love how he is hiding behind the rock in the picture and I can't help but wonder what would happen if it did rain. :-)

First I would put a bridge on a castle.  Next I would put water under the bridge.  Then I would put a bed in the castle.  Last I would put candy in the castle.  

**Did you see that she spelled put --- poot?  Do you ever just not correct a student because it's just so cute how they think words are spelled.  I also think I need to help this little girl develop her writing.  I'm not quite following how she will actually catch the leprechaun.  It seems that this is just where she will keep him when she catches him.  Still - it's adorable!!

I hope you all have a great St. Paddy's Day!  

If you like these activities and want them for next year, you can check out my St. Patrick's Day unit.  Just click on the picture.

Penguin Projects and Dental Health

We finally finished our penguin unit!  Because of testing, other holidays, and so much more - it took a long time to get through our penguin unit.  Maybe that's really because I didn't want it to end :-)  It's amazing how much fun we had learning about these adorable little guys.  I love me some penguins!!!!

We completed our Penguin research writing and the kids did SUCH A FANTASTIC JOB!!!  I didn't get pictures of their writing, but of course I didn't forget to get some shots of the craftivity...

You can click on this picture to grab your own penguin unit! 

We also wrote our own penguin word problems.  We started out by counting out and acting out word problems using these penguin crackers, which by the way are SUPER YUMMY!  I highly recommend them!  

Then we wrote our own word problems and used printed out clipart penguins from Aisne's Creations.  Aren't they perfectly realistic?!?!?

This is my first year in first grade, so it's my first time teaching penguins and it is ABSOLUTELY my favorite unit so far!  I'm already thinking of new ideas for next year.  

We also finally fit in some Dental Health activities --- yes I'm a little late, but oh well. 

Dental Health

It includes some Fact Cards that can be printed or projected in your classroom along with some vocabulary and comprehension activities.

A How-To Flip Book on brushing your teeth, a craft, and a reader. 

And of course, what's dental health without some Tooth Fairy fun?!?!?  What does she do with all those teeth anyway??? 

Check out these fun activities by clicking below.