Thursday, September 14, 2017

Literacy Centers: Back to School

I kicked off literacy centers in my classroom two weeks ago.  This is our fifth week of school...I don't like to start them right away because I need to get the class managed and well behaved.  This post is dedicated to showing you how I set up and manage the centers.

The first thing I do is decide how many centers I want.  This varies by year/class size.  This year I went with 5.  Next, I take a photo of each student.  I group the kids using their pictures, being mindful of possible behavior problems.  I also group heterogeneously to mix ability levels.  Finally, I place the photos on my mini pocket chart (Target Dollar Spot) with different numbers or clip art next to each.  I place an additional set of coordinating numbers/clip art on buckets.  I use the white ones shown below from Target.  I've also used the Sterilite Large Latch Boxes for many years prior (shown below).  Click HERE to get a set from Target.  Open a Red Card by clicking below and save 5% every day, plus get the totes shipped to you free!



Each group visits ONE, yes just ONE center per day.  I do not do Daily 5.  Bless you if you do it with first grade.  I've tried and it's just too confusing for my little ones.  Every 5 days I change the centers, so each Monday, the kids have a new set of centers for the week.  It works really well and has for many years.  The kids spend 20 minutes or so in their center for the day.  After school, I rotate the numbers/clip art images down on my pocket chart.  It's such an easy system!

Each week, I have a listening center.  I have this every week, all year.  I've collected books from Scholastic over my 14 year career.  It's great!  The kids listen to a story and complete a response sheet (found for free HERE).  I also have some sort of sight word center.  The other 3 centers are Phonics-based.  I have two desktop computers in my room.  Sometimes I will have the kids go to that for a center, but they have to take turns, which is annoying and can sometimes cause problems.

Below are pictures of my first centers of the year.  They are simple and can be completed without much assistance.  My role during the first few weeks of centers is to float and assist/manage behavior. Eventually, I'll pull a Guided Reading group during center time.  Each center has a link below the photos below in case you want to grab them!!




The next several pictures are pictures of centers in action from my "Back to School BBQ Set" found HERE.

You can also find all of my literacy and math centers in a BIG BUNDLE to save you $$$.  Click below to see them!


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

First Month Fun

Hi!  Late last month, I did a post highlighting what I do on the first day of school (We started August 14).  In case you missed it, you can read it HERE.  Today, I'm taking time to share a few other ideas of things that I did during the first month of school!

We read my favorite book of all time, "Corduroy."  We talked about friendship and what makes a good friend.  We wrote one another friendship notes found HERE and made an adorable Corduroy craft found HERE.

We read "Table Talk" and completed a cafeteria sort together after.  Find the sort HERE.

Each Friday, I selected (and will continue to do so all year) a "Superstar" of the week.  This is someone who has demonstrated excellent behavior and leadership.  We all make that person a picture (or write them a note later in the year) and I staple the cover to the front.  That child takes the book home!  The kids LOVE this!!!!!!!  Great incentive for good behavior.  Grab the book HERE.

The classroom library was opened!  We went over the library and my expectations for keeping it organized.  We made a list of "rules."  We watched Brain Pop Jr. about how to select books.  The kids went book shopping and chose 6 books for their baggies.  **They keep these books all week long and we shop again on each Friday.

We read "David Goes to School" and made these directed drawing Davids.  The kids always enjoy this project.  We do a program called PAX at my building, so we wrote about how David could be a PAX leader.  We brainstormed to make an anchor chart.  This could be adapted for your classroom---the center could say "A respectful student...or whatever you want.  Get the directions for the drawing HERE.  I love how they always turn out so unique! Adorable!

We read "Lacey Walker, Nonstop Talker" and did a sort afterwards.  The kids wrote about one way they can be good listeners.  Find the sort and writing paper HERE.

We read "Don't Squeal Unless It's a Big Deal."  This is great for discussing tattles vs. emergencies!  After reading, we did a sort that can be found HERE.  

Hope you found some fun ideas for your first few weeks/month of school!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Specials Schedule

Earlier this summer, I had posted about my Specials Schedule on my Facebook page.  Mostly because I was annoyed that I had no break on a Friday!  Haha!  However, many people expressed interest in my template that I hang up in my classroom (and place in my kids' data binders).  I decided to add it to my TpT store!

This schedule is editable!  Meaning you can add your own specials to the boxes and use a font of your choosing.  The "days" section is also editable for those who use letters as their specials rotation.

There are six options for you to choose from.  Color and black and white are included, as well. Check it out below!


Saturday, September 2, 2017

Kwik Stixx Product Review

Have you heard about Kwik Stix Solid Tempera Paint?  I had the opportunity to try some two years ago in my first grade classroom and was immediately hooked!  Kwik Stix allows your students  to "paint" in the classroom without the hassle and mess of paint.  No water needed.  To use, simply uncap, twist, and paint!  Unlike regular tempera paint, Kwik Stix dries in just 90 seconds.  Our winters in Ohio can be brutal and I am always looking for fun, new ideas for indoor recess.  Adding Kwik Stix to the indoor recess cabinet has been great !  And as a matter of fact, we've already had one indoor recess this school year because of the Eclipse.  I knew that would be the perfect opportunity to introduce these paint sticks to my new group of first graders!  They were obviously a hit!  Below are some of their paintings.

I always get my Kwik Stix from Amazon and love that I can find them there!  They have a large variety to choose from.  Below are my three favorite sets:  the 24 pack, the neon pack, and the thin stix 12 pack.  


If you happen to live near a BJ's Wholesale Clubs, you can find Kwik Stix there, too!!!  They have the 24 pack for $19.99.  Click HERE to head to BJ's website.  Perfect for back to school time.

To see a video of Kwik Stix in action, click the demo video below!

Happy Painting!!

*I was sent Kwik Stix to try in my classroom for free.  Regardless, my opinion of the product is my own and I stand behind it.

Monday, August 28, 2017

First Day Fun

I survived the first week (actually 2 weeks now)!!!!  Woo Hoo!  We started on a MONDAY (whose idea was that?!?!?) and ended on Friday.  Needless to say, both kids and adults were exhausted!  We hit the ground running, learning about one another as well as procedures and expectations.  It's absolutely VITAL to teach, model, and practice these things repeatedly for the first month or so of school.  In fact, I continue to review these procedures daily for the first several weeks of school and then on an as-needed basis after that.  Today I am sharing some of the activities I did with my students the first day of school!  Get ready for photo overload!  I'll try to link everything for you guys throughout the post.

My teammate always takes a 1st day photo for me because I'm a nerd!  Here is this years:

As the kids arrived, I had them work on a coloring page.  This always helps keep them occupied while I am checking paperwork and putting away any extra school supplies that kids brought.  This is a freebie from Kidsrcute.

Next we jetted off to specials because 1st grade has the worst specials schedule ever.  Kids arrive at 8:00 and we go to specials at 8:20.  During the time they were gone, I was scrambling around putting things away.  Once they returned, we did a little ice-breaker using Starburst candy.  I gave everyone a piece of candy and we sat in a circle.  I used this printable that you can get HERE.  In fact, most of the activities I post about today are included in that pack.  The kids took turns telling a little something about themselves.  Everyone spoke!  No one was shy.  I may or may not have told them that they had to speak in order to eat their candy.

Next, we worked on learning some of the classroom procedures.  I selected a few from the list for us to learn and practice.  This came with lots of modeling and practicing.  Grab the free paper full of procedures HERE.

Next I read First Day Jitters.  Click HERE to grab this book.  My mom and dad gave me this book right before my student teaching 15 years ago!  I read it every year on the first day.  We read a poem to go with it and the kids got their own copies to take home.  Next we wrote about how we felt on the first day of school.  The writing activity can be found HERE.  This writing activity is a great way to see what kids know about writing when they first start first grade!  I like to keep it and show it at conferences to show growth.  We finished by having some "Jitter Juice."  I mix Sprite Zero with a little green food coloring in a pitcher. I made labels found HERE for the cups.

We also read The Kissing Hand.  Click HERE to grab this book.  We created these fun Chester puppets!  I've had these for many years, but I found one on TpT to link HERE.  I introduced my visual direction cards that I found HERE.  I've used them for many years and I really love them!!!  I always count on Elmer's Glue to help with crafts like these!  It's the best for sure!

We also colored and read our First Day Mini Book, found HERE.  This is always a great, low-key activity for the kids to work on (and it takes forever, which gives the teacher a little break!).   Again, I used the visual direction cards.

Although I don't open our classroom library until the third week of school, I still always have books for my kids to look at those first two weeks.  I call my local library a few weeks prior to school starting and request a teacher collection.  I ask for back to school books, color/number word books, and easy readers.  I divide them up into buckets for my tables.  The kids get about 5-8 minutes each day to browse the books in their bucket.

As a fun activity, we played "I Have Who Has:" School Supply Edition.  This can be found HERE. This is a really great game for building vocabulary!  The kids always love playing it.

In addition, we took a Play-Doh break (click HERE to see how I use Play-Doh in my classroom) and an extra recess.  Before I knew it, the day was over.  The first day always flies by!  

Mr. Wheeler surprises me with fresh flowers and this year these were the ones that he sent me!  Aren't they pretty?

Have you started back to school yet?  What are your favorite first day activities???