Friday, January 31, 2014

A Healthy Freebie

     It's no secret that I like newspapers and sales ads. I do not only use them for keeping up to date on things, and for shopping. I use newspapers and ads for teaching activities too. I have used newspapers to help kids learn to spell their names, make about me collages, and all sorts of other fun things.
     As a mom of two small kids (almost 3, and almost 5 years old), I know how hard it can be to go grocery shopping with them. The kids gets so bored. If I have some time before going out to run errands, I will sit down with my kids and go through the ads. We look for things that we need, and I ask them to circle the items. We then go back and cut out the circled items, and glue them on our grocery list. Once we get to the grocery store, they have a great visual of what it is that we need. They can then help me gather the groceries, and voila, I don't have any bored kids.
     As a former preschool teacher, I loved teaching my students about healthy foods. We had our dramatic play area setup as a grocery store. We would sort the healthy foods from the unhealthy foods, make patterns with the food, etc. I would bring in sales ads, and ask them to make a grocery list (just like I have now with my own children). I would then ask each child try to find the foods from their lists, in our dramatic play area.  When they came to "check out", I would ask if each food was healthy or unhealthy. The kids loved it, and they especially enjoyed playing with the toy money. Back then, I didn't have a Healthy Shopping List template. I wish I had, because then my kids could have sorted the foods, by their food groups a lot more easier. Well now that I am a mom, I have made one and I want to share it with you!

     If you would like to grab yourself a copy, just click on the image to enlarge it. Then, with your mouse, right click and select "Save Image As". I hope this will help you in teaching your kids about healthy foods, and parents shop in peace!!!!! :D

Mommy and Me Creations

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Chinese (Lunar) New Year and a FREEBIE

kung hei fat choy

I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself.  My name is Sidney and I host the blog Teachingisagift.  I have been an educator for a little more than 23 years in Toronto, Ontario.  I have worked as an instructional leader in the area of K-8 Science and Technology, I am a published author (Hands-On Science and Technology from Portage and Main Press) and for the last year I have been teaching a grade six gifted intensive support program for the Toronto District School Board.

"The majority of the students in my class celebrate Chinese New Year. Chinese New Year is an important traditional Chinese holiday celebrated on the first day of the year of the Chinese calendar. In China, it is also known as the Spring Festival, the literal translation of the modern Chinese name. Chinese New Year celebrations traditionally run from Chinese New Year's Eve, the last day of the last month of the Chinese calendar, to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first month, making the festival the longest in the Chinese calendar. Because the Chinese calendar is lunisolar, the Chinese New Year is often referred to as the "Lunar New Year".

The source of Chinese New Year is itself centuries old and gains significance because of several myths and traditions. Traditionally, the festival was a time to honor deities as well as ancestors. Chinese New Year is celebrated in countries and territories with significant Chinese populations, including Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau,Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Philippines, and also in Chinatowns elsewhere. Chinese New Year is considered a major holiday for the Chinese and has had influence on the lunar new year celebrations of its geographic neighbors.

Within China, regional customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the Chinese new year vary widely. Often, the evening preceding Chinese New Year's Day is an occasion for Chinese families to gather for the annual reunion dinner. It is also traditional for every family to thoroughly cleanse the house, in order to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for good incoming luck. Windows and doors will be decorated with red color paper-cuts and couplets with popular themes of "good fortune" or "happiness", "wealth", and "longevity." Other activities include lighting firecrackers and giving money in red paper envelopes.

Although the Chinese calendar traditionally does not use continuously numbered years, outside China its years are often numbered from the reign of the 3rd millennium BC Yellow Emperor. But at least three different years numbered 1 are now used by various scholars, making the year beginning in 2013 AD the "Chinese Year" 4711, 4710, or 4650."  (Source Wikipedia)

This week to celebrate the New Year my students and I will be making paper lanterns using red pockets/envelopes.  Traditionally these are used to give offering of money during the week of celebration.  I saw a wonderful craft idea on Scholastic and I decided that it was a MUST do for my class this year.  You can view the video HERE.

There are other versions of this craft on YOUTUBE.  One that is similar to the one we are going to do in my class is this one.

I got the red envelopes at a local Asian market.  I had to buy 12 envelopes per student.  I chose a variety of different designs so that students can choose what they like best.  You can see below that my choice is floral.

I have put up some traditional decorations outside and inside my classroom and I have created a special gift for each of my students.  I know they will appreciate having no homework on the first day of the New Year.  

If you would like to download your own copy of the NO HOMEWORK passes
 click on the IMAGE above.

How do you celebrate holidays in your classroom?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Math Workshop: Part 2

I am continuing my Math Workshop series over on my blog, Thinking of Teaching. 

This time I am blogging about how it will all look in my classroom. I have read through many, many blog posts about how other teachers run their math workshop and have come up with a plan that I think will work in my classroom.

I'd love for you to come on over and take a look!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Reading with Your Firsties

As you might remember, this year I'm teaching reading for students in k-3. Today I want to show you what my week looks like with my first grade students. (I'll show k, 2, and 3 during another post). 

Here is a sample of my lesson plans:

(Earlier in the year there was a phonological awareness section)

1. Phonics: I always start with a phonics lesson. I review or introduce the skill and do some modeling first. Here, they are practicing sounding out words with the silent e.


We also did a big pile of real and nonsense words.

Here's a favorite of mine. They cover the snowflakes with different onsets to make as many words as they can. I do this first as a group activity where I model sounding out different matches. Then we do several as a group and finally, they do a bunch on their own.

2. Sight words
Most of my students really struggle with memorizing those sight words so I always try to dedicate time to them. I usually pick a few words to focus on each week, but no more than 2 or 3. Here is a little worksheet I made for them to search for the word there. I really love this font by Carrie because it shows the shape of the word.

Click here to get this freebie, along with a few others.

They love using beads to make words. I usually have the beads mixed up and they put the beads in order, read the word, then do it again and again. 

Classic magnetic letters is always a winner! They had to put the letters in order, read the word, then write the word 3 times. Then we rotated seats. 


3. Fluency/ Shared Reading Activities

Depending on how much time I have, this activity may vary. I use these "fluency strips" to work on fluency (obviously), and to focus on our sight word of the week. I also try to integrate the phonics skill we're working on (some fluency strips with lots of silent e words, for example). Here, I used the words come and/or down in all of the strips. Again, trying to get those sight words mastered! (On this day, they all had to make the word come or down with their beads then read one fluency strip). They practice their fluency strip until they are, well, fluent. Then they read it to the group. 
I ended up copying these onto blue construction paper.

Here's a close up of one (that isn't on blue paper):

When I have a little more time, I love to write short stories or poems to use for shared reading. I try to use poems or stories with my sight word(s) of the week OR my phonics focus. They are not going to be winning any literary awards any time soon, but they get the job done. I try to make sure there is some type of story in there so we can work on comprehension too. :) 

(The Pet is part of the freebie download above)

The story on the left uses the words come and down a lot! I ended up using this poem for two weeks because that's how long it took them to be fluent. We had plenty of activities to do:

  • We visualized and drew what was happening
  • We searched for quotation marks and periods
  • We spent a day working on our cat and dog and narrator voices (because the characters are a cat and a dog).
  • We searched for the sight words and we searched for inflectional endings
The story on the right uses the words there and where. This is the student's copy. She is highlighting the sight words of the week. I hope to make a pack of these sometime in the future. 

4. Guided Reading: This is the part where students get to practice all the strategies we've been working on.  During guided reading, we focus on a particular strategy. 

I start by reading the title and set a purpose for reading. We discuss any vocabulary, as needed. Then the kids "whisper read" first, then we read together. Sometimes I give them sticky notes to use, depending on what our focus is for the day. They love any chance to use a sticky note. :) After reading, we always do a quick comprehension activity (usually questions or a graphic organizer that helps illustrate a skill). I try to focus on a comprehension skill each week, but that doesn't always work out. 

5. Writing is not on my official lesson plan template, but it should be! I ALWAYS do writing in some way during my lesson, whether it be practicing writing complete sentences or response to reading. It is usually a small writing task, but so important. 

I hope this post helps you plan your reading time with your first grade students! I'd love to hear what you do with your firsties. :)

Head on over to my blog to see more pictures and read in much more detail with even more examples.  

Sunday, January 26, 2014

3 Valentine's Day Freebies For YOU!

I'm looking out at what appears to be a blizzard. When will it end? I think we will have school off tomorrow for extreme cold. Again. I'm telling you, this doesn't happen. We never get days off due to weather in our district. Tomorrow will be day 4. . . this month!

Moving on, I have all of this extra time to plan, so I was printing my Valentine's activities. I LOVE HOLIDAYS! While printing, I came across some of my old V-Day freebies and I needed a new one. We are working on length in math, so I made some stuff for my kids. When I make stuff for my kiddos, YOU get it free! So, below you will find the aforementioned freebies. Enjoy and PLEASE leave feedback/pin if you like these!

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

SLAMS - Student Tested, Teacher Approved Writing Strategy

Ok, if you are ANYTHING like me, you bang your head up against the wall each week when you're grading your students' assessments and week after week their answers to open ended questions are - well, just BLAH!  Where's the meat?  Where's the evidence?  If I had a dollar for how many times I had to say you need to PROVE your answer - I'd have more money than Deanna Jump ;)  Well, at the beginning of this year a teacher friend of mine introduced me to a life saving writing strategy called SLAMS.  SLAMS is an acronym that will guide your students to writing an outstanding response to any open ended question.  We have been using it this year and our writing has improved 3 fold!  Here's what SLAMS stands for.  


Ok, I know - that poster is blah, but I'm not good at creating things where I have to draw.  I'm NOT a good artist.  However, I can make things cuter on the computer!!  How's this?

Much better, yes?  You can download this poster free on TPT.  Just click on the photo above.  Make sure while you're there to follow me on TPT for many more freebies, deals, and sales to come!!

I hope you like this writing strategy and I hope it makes the difference in your students' writing.  It's hard to see, but I did snap a picture of one of my student's journals.  This is just an average academic student but you can see that their answers are nice and lengthy.  :)  We call that a SLAMS dunk!  Haha

Have a great weekend everyone.  You stay Class*y blogging world!  


Friday, January 24, 2014

Dental Health Awareness

     The other day, I went to see my dentist {After 2 years of no visits. I know that's bad of me, but I am terrified of the dentist}. Oh my goodness! I am now definitely regretting not going to see my dentist regularly. I have 5 horrible cavities that need to be fixed. I have two appointments setup, in February, to get started on this long trek of fixing these issues. Now if I can just grin and bare it, I think I should be fine. *cringe*

     As I am sure you already know, February is Dental Health Awareness month. I need to be a good example on my kids, and show them that it's important to take care of their teeth. I have two daughters, they are 2 and 4 years old. I am a former preschool teacher, and now a stay-at-home-mom. I teach my kids by example, practice and routine. Obviously, we brush our teeth. It's not my kids' favorite thing to do. I have read small stories to them about germs that can affect our bodies, and teeth. They have giggled at the silly stories many times. My four year old is starting to understand that if we don't take care of our teeth, they can get hurt. Lately, she has seen that because I have been suffering from tooth pain. She tries to comfort me, the best that she can. It's amazing how much she understands, and is learning from this experience.

     I know you already have tons of ideas on how to teach kids, how to properly care for their teeth. However, it's important to practice over and over again. Make it a healthy habit of brushing and flossing. We can't forget to make, and keep our dental appointments too. The dentist is there to help us. He or she isn't trying to scare us. {It's hard even for me to remember that!} Encourage your kids to keep practicing brushing and flossing. If you can, take your kids on a field trip to the dentist office. Take a tour through the office, and talk to the dentists or even a dental assistant about the activities that go on in a dentist office. These are the things that just might ease each child's fear of the dentist, and their office.

     Now before I leave, I would like to ask you just one question that I saw posted in my dentist office... That was: "What Are You Smiling About?" :D I am smiling, because I am finally going to take care of my teeth. I am smiling, because I will have courage to take care of my teeth! What about you?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Classy Collaboration ONLY Free Font!

Happy Cold Day, everybody!
School was cancelled today in Minneapolis due to extreme cold temps. We're talking -30 to -45 degree windchill. YIKES! I haven't left the house. Once.
So, I finished up a product that I have been working on for a billion years and had my son model some of the Silly Hats from this pack! I'm lovin' it!


GRAB this pack by clicking the picture below:
This (and everything else in my store) is on sale for $3 until midnight!
Yes, I'm throwing a $3 sale in honor of my 3rd COLD DAY this month!
Oh and here is your Classy Collaboration Fan Freebie! Thanks for following!
p.s. If you're new to blogging- check out my post by CLICKING HERE and learn from my mistakes.
Tomorrow is FRIDAY!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Meet Mrs. Wheeler

Hi everyone!  I am Mrs. Wheeler from  Mrs. Wheeler's First Grade.  I am a new part of this blog, and am thrilled!  I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself.  I have been a first grade teacher for 10 years.  I truly love my job, learning, blogging/creating, and all things "school!"  I've been blogging for four years and it's one of the greatest things I have ever done!

I have been married to my wonderful husband and best friend for 7 years.  We enjoy traveling and have recently taken trips to Florida, Nashville, Michigan, and California.  Below are a few pictures of us from our travels.

In my free time, I enjoy exercising, reading, shopping, and watching reality tv!  I am certified to teach Turbo Kick but only sub for it right now, as my schedule is super busy!  I love ALL THINGS CHRISTMAS and may or may not still have my house fully decorated.  LOL!

I'd love for you to come visit my blog and store and become a new follower!  You can find me on Facebook and Pinterest, as well!  If you are an Instagram lover like myself, look for me!  I'm @mrswheeler44

As a thank you, I'd love to offer you a declarative/interrogative Groundhog Day sentence sort.  It's part of my Hooray for Groundhog Day pack!  Click the cover to download!

See you soon!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Math Workshop- A Series in the Making

Over the past few years I have been doing a lot of reading and studying about Math Workshop. I participated in Brenda, from Primary Inspired's first book study on Guided Math and then worked with her to host the book study on Building Mathematical Comprehension. I have implemented a variety of strategies into my math program- math stretches, calendar, math huddle, math journals, etc but have not yet come up with a fully developed program that I am happy with. 

So I've decided to spend my time off work (technically, on mat leave!) to sit down and think about how I want each aspect of my math program to run. 

My first post, which is all about planning and getting started is already up. I have included some pictures of how I am going to organize my personal research, a great resource I found and a list of possible topics to be covered.

Here's what I need from you... 

Do you have a great post about Math Workshop or any of the other topics I have listed on my blog that I should read? 

Do you have an amazing freebie or TPT/TN product that's a 
"must have" for Math Workshop?

Any other great ideas I need to know about?

Please leave a comment here or on my blog and I will be sure to check it out during my series.