Friday, March 28, 2014

Spring Cleaning

Last week in school I started feeling the urge to pull everything off the shelves and reorganize.  Not just the shelves.  The cabinets.  My desk.  All of it!  

I spent one planning period going through a bunch of my leveled books and reorganizing them into different tubs.  Then I started rearranging my math manipulatives, but I got overwhelmed and knew I didn't have enough time to really devote to it.  So I sat down.  I sat and stared around my room, reorganizing in my head.  Taking mental notes.  Preparing for ..... well, I don't know when I will actually have time to reorganize my room, but I do have ideas.  Lots and lots of ideas.  Just check my Pinterest account and see all the great ideas I have.  Oh, and cute bins I will need to buy in order to help with said organizing.  Yes, it really was too much to accomplish during my 40 minute planning period (35 when you count walking the kids to and from specials).  But it is about this time each year when I start to feel this urge.  The urge to just take everything out and reorganize, clean, get rid of, rediscover.  Then I realize - it must be spring cleaning time!  Anyone else have this instinctual feeling of dissatisfaction?  The need to be the person my Pinterest account claims that I am.  
If. Only.

If you are like me, you might be ready for a full overhaul of your classroom or even your life at this point in the year.  So how about an overhaul of your lesson plans?  
Looking for some new ideas to spark your interest and motivate your students?  
I thought so....me too!  
So when my friend Beth Ann (Zip A Dee Doo Dah Designs) came up with this fantabulous idea to have a Spring Cleaning Sale - I jumped on board and so did about 200 other sellers, too.    

To help you get started, here are just a few of my must haves from my little store that are on sale.  Just click on the picture to go to my store to see them in more detail.  


If you're looking for some more shopping - check out all the other sellers who have joined in by going to Georgia Grown Kiddos and linking to the sales from there.  

Happy shopping!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Math Fact Fluency AND a Giveaway


I am SO SUPER excited to be here to tell you about a phenomenal teacher, inspiring blogger, and brilliant author/creator of teacher materials.  
Lucky to Be in First
I am also very honored and lucky to be able to call Molly from Lucky to be in First a friend.  How perfect that I had the opportunity to swap products with her and present them to you today?  

That's right --- right here, right now!  
So go grab a cup of coffee, a glass of wine, or whatever snack sounds good right now and get ready for PURE AWESOMENESS!  

When I had to choose a product of Molly's for this swap it was such a difficult choice, because --- well, have you visited her store?  She has so many amazing products I didn't know which one I wanted more.  I was thrilled when Molly said I could have TWO!  The two products I chose ended up working perfectly together and when you see them in action, I am positive you will NEED them in your classroom too!  

I will start with Smart Cookie Math.

Smart Cookie Math helps students with basic fact practice and attaining fluency.  This seems to be something that isn't happening as much these days as I think it did when "we" were in school.  I still think it is very important for students to be able to attain fact fluency and so does Common Core.  Therefore, this product is just perfect! 

Allow me to let some pictures do the talking . . .
Molly gives a variety of options and has truly thought of everything you will need to get this set up in your classroom.  
This was so simple to get ready and you should have seen the looks on my students' faces when they saw these cookie jars with their names on them.  They just about died with anticipation for what we would be doing!  I explained to the class that they were going to have a chance to earn cookies for their cookie jars just by learning their math facts.  I assured them that they already knew many of these facts so earning cookies might start out easy, but in order to keep earning cookies they would need to practice (more on that later).  

Finally it was testing day (Friday).  I gave students privacy shields (file folders) so they could focus and passed out the Level 1 test.  
The students who got them all right were able to cut out a cookie and add it to their cookie jars.  I was so excited for the kids who did pass - which was half my class.  And when they got their reward certificate AND the cookie --- their smiles just lit up the room.
 I had also explained before passing out the tests that the goal was for each student to get better every time.  Therefore, even if they didn't pass this first time, their goal was to improve with each week.  They may have been a little disappointed, but they sure are anxious to try again next week to earn that cookie.  

What I'm about to tell you now will make your jaws drop.  Molly is so uber-talented that she even created an App to match this product.  You read that right --- there's an app for that.  Did I not tell you she thought of everything?!?!?
So in between test days my students can practice their level on this app.  

Another way we can practice in between tests is with the other product I am sharing with you today - 


I loved how quick and easy this was to teach the kids and that I can do this whenever we have those random 5 minutes and need a filler.  As Molly explains in this pack, all she has to do is say to the kids, "It's Rockin' and Rollin' time" and they quickly take out the materials and get started.  By the way, the only materials needed are dice (the type of dice changes depending on the level) and paper.  How simple is that?

I cannot say it enough, but these two products are so extremely motivating for my students and are already making a HUGE difference in their fact fluency and number sense.  

Now for the fun part:
Molly and I are giving away the products that we swapped - all 4 of them!  Just enter below (or at Molly's blog) and you could win these two products from Molly:

AND these two products from Me:
       

To read more about my products you can jump over to Molly's blog.  
But just don't forget to enter our giveaway!  
Thanks for stopping by - Good luck!


Now, here are the details for the other giveaways!  Yes I said OTHER giveaways!  There's even more to win if you just keep reading.  

1. Start anywhere on the map below.
2. Stop by each blog and read about the products swapped between each set of bloggers.
3. Enter to win the resources that are featured by each blog pair. Each pair of bloggers has the same raffle, so you only have to enter on one of the two blogs.While you are at each blog, if you are not already a follower, sign on to follow!
4. The raffles are open until midnight March 15th.



SWAP A
      Photobucket

SWAP B
      A Burst of First
SWAP C
Lucky to Be in First        First Grade Smiles
SWAP D
Second Grade Perks         
SWAP E
Hippo Hooray for Second Grade!     

SWAP F
     
        
SWAP G
The Tutu Teacher   Happy Teacher Heaven
SWAP H
Meet Miss Parker   

Bright Ideas: Math Fact Relay Race

I'm so honored to participate yet again in this truly amazing blog hop with so many other outstanding bloggers!  


Whether you came here from the awesome Ashley at Primary Teacherhood or through the link-up, I'm happy you're here.  

This month I'm going to explain a super quick math activity you can do at any grade level and with many different concepts - Math Relay Races!


Math relay races are a great way to give your students practice with some basic math concepts likes counting forwards, counting backwards, skip counting, and SO much more.  One of my colleagues introduced this game to me and I was so impressed with how well my students did with it.  I just HAD to add this to my bag of tricks.  

Here are the basics of how we play in my room:

The point of the game is to work together, just like a relay race.  And the best part - there is only ONE rule:

When we first did this I thought for sure that my little chatterboxes would not be able to handle this one rule.  But they proved me wrong!  Here is a quick video of one of my groups.  No need to turn up your volume . . . unless you want to hear how quiet they truly are.  =)



This particular day we were practicing our skip counting by 10's and 5's.  I had them work for 1 minute, which was pretty good for my first graders, although I think we will add some time to it as we get better.

Here is the paper from this group:

We used a blank piece of paper folded in half and we used both sides of the paper.  Very simple concept, but definitely helpful and a quick way to practice.  We usually play 4 rounds and I keep track of points on the board.  I have each group add up their totals themselves at the end of each round.  


Like I said above - this game could also be played with variations.  
Here are just a few ideas:

Below is an example of how I used a phonics worksheet for a relay race.  

 

Believe me when I tell you, my students LOVE when I tell them it's time for Relay Races.  And if you are anything like me, you love finding those super simple ideas that you can implement into your classroom the very next day.  I hope you found this Bright Idea to be something that you could use in YOUR classroom.  

If you are looking for more Bright Ideas, you should check out this Pinterest board by clicking on the picture below.  You will find tons of great blog posts filled with Bright Ideas for the classroom.  

The next stop in this blog hop is Abby from Third Grade Bookworm.  She has a Bright Idea about Grading and Grouping to share with you.  Click on her button below to head over and continue hopping.  
Or you can search by topic using the link-up below.  There are over 180 Bright Ideas to search through, so you might want to pin this hop and come back to it if you don't have time to hop through all of them today.  I know you DO NOT want to miss even one Bright Idea from these amazing teachers.  

Thanks so much for stopping by and reading about my bright idea.  I'd love to read any comments you might have about more fun ways to practice math facts or skip counting.  



Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sunday Funday

I'm back!
It seems that 2014 is a year of cluster blogging for me.  I might go weeks without blogging and then all of a sudden I blog two days in a row.  I can imagine this might be a little frustrating as a follower, so I apologize for that.  But let me just say, that I appreciate each and every one of you who chooses to visit this little blog and check out what I've been doing.  I really do love it all, but it's just hard sometimes to find the time for everything.  So thanks for sticking with me and coming back to visit!  

If you visited yesterday for my Currently update, you got to see how much fun I was able to have this month with my family.  Today, I am linking up with two of my favorite blogging buddies, Deirdre at A Burst of First and Molly at Lucky to be in First, for this Sunday Funday linky.  

Since I already shared my personal fun I've been having - today I will share some fun things we've been doing in the classroom this month.  

We finished up our Animals in Winter unit.  Here are just a few snapshots of what we worked on.  The kids had so much fun with this unit (and so did I).  




There was so much more that we did with this fun unit, but these are the only pictures I remembered to take.  If you want to see more about this unit, you can read this post about it.  

The next FUN thing I want to share is our 100th Day of School!  Can you believe that because of all of our snow/cold days off our 100th day of school wasn't until February 28th???  Usually for us it is around Valentine's Day (which, we also had a snow day on by the way).  So this was VERY late for us this year.  

Here are a couple Pinterest inspired activities.  I know Pinterest didn't create these, but I have seen them  all over the place and I do not know where the ideas originated.  If you know, feel free to tell me so I can credit them.  

Next up was some 100 second challenges.


And some 100th day writing. 


Yes, that last one says PEANUTS --- get your mind out of the gutter!  
But don't think I didn't giggle when I read it, too!  
Those kind of misspellings never get old with me =)

And for my last Sunday Funday share - I wanted to show a portrait one of my firsties drew of me.


Kid art is the BEST!!!  
Not sure where that hat came from.  I don't remember wearing a hat like that.  
But I do love my rosy red cheeks.  

I hope you are all having a FUN Sunday and that you will hop on over to check out the rest of the Sunday Funday links.