Meaningful Math

I think we all know how important it is that students practice important mathematical concepts each day in order to increase their number sense and maintain understanding of skills they have learned.  In the past I have always included some daily math activities in my morning meeting.  We have had a number of the day where we wrote number sentences together each day and discussed how to decompose the number.  I've included other skills as well like calendar, time, money, skip counting, etc.  It has been a nice review each day and I think the students have benefitted from it in the past.  

Over the summer I decided that it wasn't really enough to just work on these skills together as a class.  I had a lot of students last year that struggled with math and although I thought this whole group time was beneficial for them, in hindsight I don't think it was.  In fact, these were the students that seemed to tune out at these times when our discussions went over their head.  As a teacher it's so hard to level the playing field when you have those high students who want to be pushed and then the struggling students who need lots of review and repetition.  

Therefore, I thought it would be important for ALL of my students to be actively engaged during this meeting time by working on these skills prior to joining us on the rug.  This way my students will *hopefully* stay tuned IN during our discussion and fix any mistakes or join in on the parts that they do understand.  

So here's how I have prepared for this Daily Math time each day:
First I got some 15¢ folders with 3 hole fasteners at WalMart.  Then I labeled them using name badges, which were the perfect size.  I will let students choose what color folder they want and then write their name on the label.

The next step was to print off the resource/reference pages on colored paper and place them in page protectors inside each folder.  The reference pages include: Days of the Week and Months of the Year, Money, 100 Chart and 200 Chart, and number words to 100.  (There are some other reference pages included in the pack as well).
Finally, I made their first monthly packet to go in the folder that we will work on everyday.  Each day, as part of their morning work, students will be responsible for completing a Number of the Day page and a Calendar Journal page.  At the beginning of each month is a blank calendar for students to fill in.  We will also graph the weather and temperature each day, and keep track of the number of days in school.  The reference pages will stay in the folders all year long so students can refer to them when completing these activities.  I'm hoping even my struggling students will benefit from doing it this way.
Each month I will use different number of the day pages in order to hit a variety of skills and to keep this interesting.  As we get further in the year our number of the day will get bigger and there are tons of different pages to choose from in order to accommodate this.  

I can't wait to use these with the students this year!  If you are interested in checking this out too, click on the picture below.  

Yesterday I posted some pictures of my classroom and there was some interest in a few things I've created.  So I hurried up to post these items in case anyone wants to grab them before school starts (or even after =)  Head on over to TpT store to check them out.  

Happy weekend friends!  It's my last weekend of summer, so naturally I am still in my pajamas at noon.   Gotta soak it up while I can!  

Decorating My Classroom

This Welcome banner is free in my TpT store.
I have been suuuuuuuper busy getting my classroom decorated and "almost" ready for my little firsties to show up.  Those of you who have been here for a little bit know that this is only my 2nd year in first grade and my previous experience was in 3rd and 4th grades.  At the start of the year last year I had no idea how my teaching would be SO different in 1st grade and therefore my room also need to be different.  
My classroom last year worked, but I knew all year long that it wasn't as good as it could be. So I rearranged about 25 different times - no joke!  I am so not one of those people who can just visualize and it all turns out ok.  I need to physically move things to new places to SEE how they will look.  Often times I end up moving them right back where they were, too.  Believe me, the custodians just shake their heads and smile when I come asking questions like: Can I borrow the dolly?  How about those roller thingies that you put under the shelves?  It's an adventure - that's for sure!

I will be posting more pictures of my whole classroom soon (once I get it all spic-and-span for my kiddos), but I wanted to start by sharing a few of the ways I've tried to makeover some ugly  slightly less attractive parts of it.   =)

First up - this file cabinet!  YUCK!!  

At some point, probably 50 years ago, someone attempted to help this poor thing along with some blue contact paper on the top, or at least I think that's what it is.  I have had it in my room for almost 10 years and I just couldn't take the blue anymore so I finally did something about it.  It was super simple - just some chevron wrapping paper from Target and some black border from JoAnns.  Nothing too fancy, but a HUGE upgrade.

Next up were these untreated wooden bookshelves.  Everyone in our school has these in their rooms.  I've been told that many years ago these were built by someone in the district and given to everyone.  They aren't awful, but since I placed them in the middle of my room to divide my rug area from the students' tables I NEEDED to do something about it.  Again - nothing too fancy (and not permanent like paint because that was a no-no).  I covered the backs with fabric from JoAnns and the same black border.  Then I found matching contact paper for the tops.    

I definitely like this WAY better than just the wood and it gave me the perfect place to hang my rules.  I had planned on just using tacks or something like that to keep my rules on the back of these bookshelves until my AMAZING colleague next door came over with these cubicle clips.  They were PERFECT for using on fabric because they have two sharp metal pins on the back and plastic clips on the front.  It was so awesome of her to just pop over with these treasures and now I can take my rules down those first few days as we are going over them and just clip them right back up when I'm done.  I love the people I work with!  

 I had a little fabric leftover so I used it to cover this little cork board I keep next to my desk.  Then I used black duct tape to go around the wooden frame.  

 I finally hung up my Lunch clip chart.  This is available as a fan freebie on my Facebook page.  

 I made and hung up my polka-dot number posters.  (When I get around to it, I will be posting these along with my rules and the nametags below that all match.  I know it is too late for this year for most people, but maybe next year).  

I had to make my own nametags because I was not loving the ones I had and I really wanted to have a 120 chart on them along with an alphabet and number line.  I also needed them to be smaller than those huge ones they sell because of the room I have on my tables.  I printed these on card stock and laminated them.  They are just waiting for my little ones' names.  

Then we move out into the hall - well first my door.  

This year I plan on using this cute little chalkboard sticker from Target as a place to put a daily password.  Each morning, students will have to read the password and tell me what it is before entering the room.  I will use this for our spelling words and sight words.  And since it's a chalkboard, it is easy to change.  I wrote the Today's password is . . . with a silver sharpie, but I will use chalk for the words. I need to actually go buy some chalk now - all I had was sidewalk chalk which doesn't work so well. 

Here are my hallway bulletin boards.  I will be writing the kids' names on the ladybugs, but I'm waiting because I keep getting more kids added to my list.  

 And finally, this is the wall outside my room where I will hang student work.  This banner is from my Welcome Back Pack.  I will be hanging up our All About Me banners when they are finished.  

I am still working on the finishing touches, but I'll be back soon with some more pictures.  In fact, I might even do a quick little post tomorrow to tell you about something I've been working on.  We'll see how that goes =)

First Week is Over - Now What?

Soooooooooo, I tried really hard to make this post ready to link up for Teacher Week, but I just didn't make it.  Teacher Week for me has been Teacher Day.  I was able to do the first day (All About Me) because, Duh - I don't need to prep too much to be able to write about myself.  That one was a no brainer.  Day 2 - Classroom digs ---- I am nowhere near ready in my classroom because we don't start until after Labor Day and it was stressing me out to think of trying to take pictures of what I have.  So I skipped that one.  Then today was all about organization.  Here's the thing - I am working my way to decluttering organizational heaven, but again I am not at a point where I can share yet.   I guess this has been a Teacher Week FAIL!  In case you're wondering I will also fail to link up tomorrow for Classroom Management because I tend to change what I do a little bit every year so I will have to write about this throughout the year when I know my kiddos a little better.  Not sure about Day 5 yet - Tips and Tricks.  Stay tuned....
Starting to feel a little stressed out now.  
*Deep breaths*  
This is what the entire month of August feels like to me.  

Did you ever watch The Price is Right - the real one, with Bob Barker, not Drew Carrey?  The month of August to me feels like I'm the yodeling mountain climber from the game Cliff Hangers.  My stress level starts out low at the bottom of the mountain because I'm in summer mode.  Each day of August I am climbing the mountain and my stress level rises.  There is just not enough hours in the day to get everything ready and still enjoy the end of my summer.  I feel like at any moment I might just fall right off the cliff.   

I think we all have that level of stress as a new year approaches.  We dream about it being the first day of school and we forgot to make their name tags ....or you don't have your lesson plans done ....or you are naked!  However your anxiety plays out for you, I think we must all share some of the same feelings.  

In an effort to help myself through these moments of uncertainty, I am trying to get somewhat planned and ready for at least the first month and a general guideline for the rest of the year.  Last week I posted about the First Week of First Grade and what I plan to do.  So even though I don't have myself totally together to join in on Teacher Week, I still have been thinking NON-STOP about what I will be doing this year.  So I guess this is my form of organizing for teaching and the Now What? follow-up to that post.

I'll start with my schedule.  Here is a draft form of what I think my schedule will look like this year:

Here are some things I have planned for the Now What? phase of back to school.  I hope you are able to find some ideas that could help you too.  As you scroll through you will find a couple freebies, so be sure to check those out and a chance to win some of these items at the bottom too.  

First up is my Meaningful Math pack.  

This is what I will use during our morning meeting slot.  I will make a packet for each month that will include a cover, daily calendar journals, weather graphing, and number of the day papers.  In the back of each packet will be reference pages to help them.  I've included a variety of skills in the number of the day pages so I can improve that number sense in my students and build up in difficulty throughout the year.  

This year I am trying something a little new with math.  Last year during center time I had a math center that the kids would go to once a week and I changed it each week.  This year I decided to start teaching math in small groups and have a time for math stations that was separate from my literacy stations.  I'm really excited for what I think could come with this and will hopefully see some huge improvements in my students' mathematical understanding.  

The first set is what I will use as I am setting up math stations and literacy centers in the beginning of the year.  The skills in these centers are meant to be somewhat simple and a good review from Kindergarten.  This will help me monitor behaviors and teach routines while they are able to work independently.  This pack includes both math and literacy centers and has a little sweetness to it.  I named it "Pour Some Sugar on Me", because who doesn't like sweets AND Def Leopard?? =) 
Click HERE to see more.  

I will also be using my Common Core Math Centers during math stations.  I love these centers because I can use and reuse these all year long and make them brand new by just changing the numbers or the problems in each center.  There is a ton of variety and choices within the centers so you can switch it up or even differentiate for different levels.  These centers cover the Common Core standards of Operations and Algebraic Thinking and Numbers and Operations in Base Ten.  Click on the pictures to see more.  

 For my literacy centers I will have a word work center (or 2) and a writing center every week.   I am also planning an iPad center and a listening center.  

For word work I will be using my Phonics "Ph"riends packs.  I love teaching phonics by connecting it to characters and their stories.  These packs have between 5 and 9 literacy centers within them.  There are also mini-books and practice pages as well.  
Click on the pictures to see more about them.  


This one is a freebie in my store if you want to go grab it for some Tw practice.  

And finally, for my writing center I made this pack of writing prompts with task cards and writing journals:

I plan on making these for each month and can't wait to have this structure of a writing center set up for me.  This pack includes all different types of writing: narrative, opinion, informational, and others likes letters and how-tos.  In the beginning of the year I will keep it structured and have them work on a specific prompt at center time, but I'm hoping as the year progresses to be able to leave the task cards at the center and allow them some choice on what they want to write.  

Phew - that was a lot!  I've been busy =)

Now if you made it all the way down here, you can be rewarded with ANOTHER freebie.  This is a bingo game I plan on playing that first week of school and maybe even again later on.  It is for recognizing different representations of numbers.  These boards are 0-5 and I'm hoping to make some more for larger numbers as well.  You'll need to make a 0-5 number cube/dice but you could easily just cover up the 6 on a dice with a small circle label and that would be zero. 
Click on the picture to download this one.


Well I hope you were able to get some new ideas and grab some freebies, and maybe, just maybe, you feel a little more prepared for the Now What?  If you have any questions about anything I posted, don't hesitate to leave a comment or email me at   I'm super excited about starting off the year with a pretty good plan of how I will get going and I will most certainly have some updates with photos once school starts.  

Oh - one more thing ---- I am going to make this a Pin It and Win It kind of day!  Here's what you have to do - Pin any item that you would like from this post (you can pin as many as you'd like).  Leave a comment with the pin URL below and your email.  I will pick winners on Sunday.  Here's how I'll do it: If I get 25 or less comments I will pick 1 winner.  If I get 26-50 comments I will pick 2 winners.  If I get 51-75 comments I'll pick 3 winners.  And over 75 comments ---- I will pick 5 winners!!!!!  

Happy back to school!!!!  Less than 3 weeks of summer left for me!   
Hoping I don't fall off my cliff of anxiety =)

Teacher Week-Meet the Teacher

Hi friends!  I'm linking up for Teacher Week over at Blog Hoppin'.  Today's post is: 

So ten things about me - here we go!

1. I have to start with the loves of my life.  Nothing makes me happier than spending time with them.  

I love that our moments are often filled with smiles that make your face hurt.  Being a teacher and having summer's "off" to appreciate each every moment with these two little ones is the best thing in the entire world!  I am SO blessed!  (Of course my fabulous hubby too - but he works pretty hard in the summer so it's just the 3 of us for most of our days.  But we soak up time with him in the our evenings!)

2.  I have to follow that up by saying that I would be a TERRIBLE stay at home mom.  Too many of my days this summer ended up ending like this:

Not that we didn't go out and do fun things, but the amount of time that we spend in our PJ's all day was a little ridiculous.  In fact, I'm still in my PJ's right now as I type this post - and it's noon.  

3.  Staying at home with my girlies all day everyday is amazing - I would never say otherwise.  However, there were definitely days when hubby got home and I was at the door ready for some shopping therapy.  I LOVE you Target!!!

4.  I used to play field hockey in high school and college and I miss it SO much!  I made some of my best friends playing field hockey and we are still besties today.  But what I truly miss about playing field hockey was the competition and excitement of winning.  I suppose you could say I am a rather competitive person.  Board games, card games - I don't go down without a fight.  Sometimes I even have a hard time letting my little girls win when we play a game.  I really have to fight back the competitive instinct.  I'm working on that =)

5.  Speaking of friends....where would I be without my friends?  This quote is perfect because my best friends are the ones where, when life happens and we don't get a chance to talk for a while, there are no hard feelings.  We just pick up right where we left off and it's like we were never apart.  I have friends near and far and again, I am SO blessed!

6.  I love being outdoors (minus the bugs).  Love to go for walks, hikes, swimming, and so much more!  Our family has a camp in the Adirondacks and it is one of the best places in the world to be.  Sometimes I let life take over and I don't take as many opportunities to enjoy these pastimes, so I need to make it a point to do them more often.  They make me happy and you should always do what makes you happy!

7.  My husband is a TRUE outdoorsman!  He is the hunter and fisherman and if he could make a living doing that, he totally would.  So I have come to accept that from October 1st to the middle of December - I am a Hunter's Widow.  We can't plan to do much on weekends because of hunting.  I try to schedule things and he reminds me that it's opening day.  Did you know that there are like 5 opening days during hunting season?  It seems like every week is a new opening day - bow hunting, muzzleloader, rifle, and I don't even know what else.  I've started tuning out and just say ok.  I just figure if he wants to hunt, then I get to shop!  It's a trade off!

8. When I was 20 I went to Italy for the first time.  I went with my sister and cousin and we went there to meet our "long lost family".  They weren't really "long lost" but we had never met them.  My great grandfather and great grandmother had come over from Italy in the early 1900's.  My grandmother had gone to Italy in 1950 and met her aunts, uncles, and cousins there, but had lost touch with all of them when her father passed away.  And none of them have ever been to America.  So when we went we got to meet her cousins and their families.  It was truly the best experience of my life!  Though they couldn't speak any English and we only spoke a little Italian, I felt like I had known them all my life and really felt that connection you feel to your family.  It was amazing!   A couple years later, I went back to Italy with my friend and we went to visit them for only 2 days on our trip, but I knew I couldn't be in that country without seeing them.  My dream is to someday go back with my husband and kids and give them the experience I have had.  I know I've already been twice and most people can't even say that, but I just feel like I need to see them and introduce them to my family.  

This is a picture of the town they all live in (breathtaking) and the Trevi Fountain in Rome.  It is said that if you throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain then you will return to Italy.  It worked once - here's hoping it works again!!!

9.  I'm sure it's because I'm Italian, but I could live on pasta and meatballs for every single meal.  I love to cook and try desperately to cook as well as my grandma, aunt, and mom.  I still haven't gotten it yet - but it doesn't keep me from trying over and over and over again.  I also could probably drink wine at every meal (I wouldn't of course, but it is yummy).  I also think that when I drink wine while I am cooking it is a much better outcome.  My family in Italy made their own wine - I wish I had endless amounts of bottles.  Maybe I'll have to start making my own too.  

10.  Last but not least, here are a few of my guilty pleasures: 

My husband got me hooked on Duck Dynasty.  I really think they have great family values and it is all around a decent show.  I get sucked into the Bachelor and Bachelorette show EVERY SINGLE TIME!  I don't even try to fight it anymore.  It just is what it is!  And then there's Vampire Diaries.  Love it!  I was a sucker (haha pun intended) for the Twilight series (books and movies) and when this show came out I was immediately hooked as well.  It's really not about the vampires, it's about the love stories.  

And of course, if I'm talking about TV I have to mention my all time favorite show, which I continue to DVR and watch whenever possible, is Friends!  I love it!  I still laugh even though I know what is about to be said.  It was a tradition in college to get together and watch this and it just makes me happy every time it's on!  

So now you know a little more about me!  Hop over to Blog Hoppin' to read up on everyone else.  

Happy Teacher Week!