Saturday, September 14, 2013

Scientific Method and a Freebie!

We like to start off our year in science by reviewing rules, tools, terms, and the scientific method. My kiddos especially loved using the scientific method this year to do all of the fun experiments! This science pack is great way to start out your science unit whether you use pieces and parts or the whole thing! You can check it out at our TPT store.

I also found a really cool G.O. that I intermixed with the one we use at Teacher's Take Out.
 I was so pleased that my kiddos picked up how to go through each of the steps so quickly this year! They really had a blast with all of the experiments. Check them out below:

Exploding Candy!
(I had to use the pic from the blog First Grader at Last because I forgot my phone and the camera I used decided to die on me! :(  
Much thanks to Sarah Cooley!)

Salt Art!

Dancing Raising!

The best part was I even had one of my little girls go home and do the experiment with her brother and mom!  I love when my kiddos are inspired to take what we’ve learned in the classroom and try it at home. :)

I feel like I've been working on my narrative writing pack FOREVER! Since it's taking me a bit...ok a lot longer than I intended I am including two freebie posters to get your kiddos started on narrative writing. You can check them out below. While your at our store please check out the opinion and informational writing packs that are finished. ;)
Have a great weekend!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Five for Friday

This is our first time linking up for.....

And let me tell you these are going to be all sorts of random and have very little to do with teaching! 

1. I've been MIA for a 7 weeks to be exact. But I do have a good reason, I promise! The hubs and I welcomed this little girl at the end of July, and I have been soaking up every moment of my time home with her!
I haven't been back in the classroom yet as I still have 1 week left of leave. I'm not sure I can leave her next Monday morning.....

2. How fabulous are these shoes? What is even better is that I found them for $10. Oh yes. I'm wearing them for my sister's wedding next weekend. Fingers crossed I don't get stuck in the grass during their ceremony....

3. September only means one thing....

4. In my spare time I have been trying to read this book.
I saw her on GMA a few weeks back and I was intrigued. I'm only half way finished so I will let you know my thoughts when I'm done reading it. 

5. I have been so ready to get back into the groove of working out again. I have been (not so) patiently waiting for my doctor to give me the green light to start running and weight lifting. One week back and it feels pretty good. Well, for a while....then I wake up the next day and I am oh so sore. But, I'll take it!

What have you been up to this week?

Monday, September 2, 2013

September Currently's September already!?!?!?! I can't believe we are going into our 3rd week of school. Here's the latest currently hosted by Farley:
Listening: I am  HUGE Taylor fan...I love everything from her old to her new stuff. Oh and I love how whenever she's shown on camera at an awards show she ALWAYS seems to having the time of her life even when she's in the audience.
Loving: I was so excited for this 3 day long weekend until Friday night came and my sore throat started. Already I'm sick from my kiddos...Needless to say I truly enjoyed myself resting on the couch, although I missed babysitting my adorable niece and nephew!

Thinking: I really need to finish my narrative writing pack…hmm…maybe after a nice long walk in the sunshine!

Wanting: A cinnamon crunch bagel from Panera. I literally had a dream I ate one last night and now I have a HUGE craving!  Maybe my hubs will be up for a little drive…what do ya think!?

Needing: Some much needed zzz’s! It’s only been 9 days into school and I’m already wiped out!
1. Get workout DVD's: O.K. so if you're anything like me you are thinking "Well I just don't have the time to workout, school is just too demanding." I figure I better nip this in the bud before it gets outta control so I made a pledge to try a variety of workout DVD's from the library and find a couple that I truly LOVE so it makes working out a little less stressful and little more enjoyable. Fingers crossed ;)
2. Don't stress the little stuff: I am known by my family and close friends for stressing about EVERYTHING. I admit I'm a little OCD when it comes to having my house perfectly clean but why should I stress myself out over the "little things." God has blessed us with so much in our lives so I am going to make the most out of the weekends and not spend sooo much time vacuuming and dusting. It'll get done right!?
3. Be more efficient: For some reason this year I am spending so much time after school and not being very efficient. I really need to get into a groove so I make the most of my time and still be able to get home to cook dinner for my wonderful hubby!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Grades 1-3 Opinion Writing!

Hello everyone!  I know it's been a little while since our last post but I just got back from sunny Florida (although we saw mostly rain and clouds-haha) As soon as I returned I've been busy finishing up my latest unit. As Jayme promised in her last post here is a sneak peak of our opinion writing pack.... 
This 39 page unit is a jam-packed resource with what you'll need to encourage your students to be opinionated writers! You can check it out at our TPT store.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Schedule Spotlight Series- Writing

We're linking up with Kelli from Castles and Crayons for another week of her Schedule Spotlight Series!

This week's topic is writing and I will admit, I have never seemed to find any one thing that works for me. I have changed how I have taught writing every year that I have been teaching. This year is no different. With writing being a 'big push' in Common Core, I sat down to brainstorm how I would tackle writing this year. Below I will explain what I came up with. But please keep in mind....I haven't even tried this yet! It could be a huge disaster or a huge success but I won't even know until late September if I like how it is working or not. So here it goes:

Last week I wrote that I incorporate my writer's workshop into Daily 5. I will be doing the same this year. However, I am not leaving one of my mini-lessons for writing. I am leaving a 30 minute block that will include a whole-group lesson, modeling, and independent practice for my kiddos.  
This year our grade level decided to focus on 1 specific writing type per quarter- 
Quarter 1: Narrative Writing
Quarter 2: Opinion Writing
Quarter 3: Informative Writing
Quarter 4: Review, Shared Research Writing

So, while we may only be working on 1 piece of writing a quarter, I will be incorporating focus lessons on the 6 + 1 traits as well. I am hoping it will look something like this:

We spend the first few weeks each quarter learning about the writing type, brainstorming ideas and beginning our writing pieces. Then, the next week I might focus on how to add voice to our writing. We will then go back and visit what we had previously written to revise and edit for voice. The following week we may discuss organization. Again, we will go back into the same writing piece and revise and edit for organization. I hope that by the end of each quarter, each student will have a strong piece of writing to reflect each writing type. 

This WILL NOT be the only writing they do! During work on writing, I am planning to give them smaller story prompts to work on. I will be able to see if they are able to apply our whole group lessons to their work independently. This will vary, as some weeks they will be able to have 'free writing' in their journals. 

My fingers are crossed that this will work! I guess I will need to follow-up to this post in a few months! Below I thought I would leave you with all of the writing resources I have gathered and collected to use this year (Thank you TpT!) Maybe you will find them useful in your classroom as well.

To set up work on writing in Daily 5:

To set up the foundation of Writer's Workshop (my 30 minute instructional block):

Common Core aligned teaching packs for each writing type:

Common Core Informational Text Writing (Grades 1-3)

Common Core Opinion Writing (Grades 1-3) &
Common Core Narrative Writing (Grades 1-3).....Coming soon!

Mini-Lessons for teaching writing traits:

Product Details

Be sure to link up and let us know how you teach writing in your classroom!

Thursday, July 11, 2013


It makes for a happy Tuesday when you sit down to do some blogging and notice you have been nominated for an award! Thanks to Regina from Keepin' It Krazy for sending the Leibster Award our way.

So in order to accept, we need to follow the 'rules' for the nomination:
1. Link back to the blog that nominated you.
2. Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 250 followers.
3. Answer questions posted for you by your nominator.
4. Share 11 random facts about yourself......(is it me or does that seem like alot?!)
5. Create 11 questions for your nominees.
6. Contact your nominees either through their blog or by email.

Here are the questions that were sent our way:
1. How long have you been teaching?
Val is heading into her 6th year of teaching and I'm headed into my 5th year. 
2. What grades have you taught and which one is your favorite?
We have both only taught 2nd.....pretty easy to say which one we love the best!
3. Do you prefer to go into school early or stay late?
Early for sure. I love getting there when the halls are quiet and I don't have to wait in line for the copy machine! 
4. What are your hobbies?
Aside from teaching, blogging and creating? Working out, reading, pinning lots of pins that I think I will actually try and of course, hanging with the hubs!
5. If you could travel anywhere, where would it be?
Honestly? I would love to go to Europe and spend weeks traveling through all of the different countries. I'm hoping to have enough saved by the time I retire ;)
6. When did you decide to be a teacher?
I was in 2nd grade myself. I had the most fabulous teacher and I wanted to be just like her. 
7. How many siblings do you have?
3- 1 little sister and 2 little brothers (who are not so little any more.....)
8. What is your favorite subject to teach and why?
Depends on the day, depends on the lesson. I like all of them the best at one time or another.
9. What is your favorite food?
Mashed potatoes.....seriously
10. What is your favorite type of movie?
Either a good love story or a good comedy....depends on my mood.
11. What is your favorite part about blogging?
Getting so many great ideas from other wonderful teachers.

And for the random facts......
1. I have always lived in Ohio.
2. I did gymnastics for 18 years.
3. I'm born on the 4th of July....and I love it!
5. I have never broken a bone. (Knock on wood!)
6. I love my orange juice with lots of pulp. (I know, that usually grosses everyone out)
7. I didn't become a dog lover until the hubs and I got one back in college.  
8. My first time leaving the country was on my honeymoon.
9. Some people are terrified of driving over bridges....I'm terrified of driving over train tracks. 
10. I love thunderstorms!

Here are the questions for our nominees:
1. What grade do you teach?
2. What grade is your favorite to teach?
3. How long have you been blogging?
4. Do you have any pets?
5. Where was the last placed you vacationed?
6. Chocolate or vanilla?
7. What is your favorite season?
8. Have you always wanted to be a teacher?
9. What college did you graduate from?
10. If you could meet anyone famous, who would it be?
11. What is your favorite children's book?

And our nominees are....

Be sure to head over to their blogs and check them out!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Schedule Spotlight Series- Daily 5

It's that time of the week again.....we're linking up with Kelli from Castles and Crayons for her Schedule Spotlight Series

When it comes to Daily 5 I feel like there is not much to say. Then again, I feel like I have too much to say!

We get back from lunch at 12:20 and take a quick restroom break. By 12:30, we are in the room and ready to go. The intervention specialist comes to work with some kiddos from 12:40-1:20, so I had to re-arrange my schedule just a bit to make sure she could  meet with as many small groups as possible!

12:30-12:45-- Mini-Lesson
12:45-1:00-- Round #1
1:00-1:15-- Round #2
1:15-1:30-- Mini-Lesson
1:30-1:45- Round #3
1:45-2:00-- Mini Lesson

ROUNDS: Each morning the kiddos come in and make 3 choices. I keep all 4 choices (read to self, read to someone, work on writing and word work) in little tins. If they have meet with teacher or listening to reading, I make that choice for them. So, sometimes they come in and only need to make 1 or 2 choices. The order of their choices is the 'round' in which they will go to that choice. I have a rule that only 6 people can do read to someone each round. While announcements are on, I quickly run down each round and make sure there are an even number (and less than 6!) of students who have chosen read to someone.

The kids have a Daily 5 contract that they fill out each week too. (Thanks to Christina over at Sugar and Spice, who made it a few years back)
Every morning they have to mark off their choices. They have a certain number of time they can visit one station before they are done for the week. (We all know those kids who have their favorite station....) I also give them an assignment or two to complete during a station. I just type it on their contract and that is their reminder they have work to do for me before they can do the other choices (write in their journal, letter tiles, etc.) I collect all work and contracts on Friday. This is the easiest way to make sure every kiddo is getting to every station and they have an entire week to get their work done, which leaves them the choice about when to do it!
When it is time to break for rounds, I just call each station one at a time and the kids who are headed there get started. The kiddos who are meeting with me, head to our table and they are ready to go by the time I finish dismissing the rest of the class!

MINI-LESSONS: I am re-arranging my mini-lesson schedule this year. But I will share what worked for me last year. This schedule was set up because we used Reading Street. However, we are not using any basal this year, so I have some revamping to do! I also had to move my writing block to this time, so you will notice that one mini-lesson each day was devoted to my writing lessons. 

Monday: #1- Listen to Story
#2- Grammar 
#3- Writing

Tuesday: #1- Comprehension Skill
#2- Vocabulary (my kiddos loved using Teaching Vocabulary with Picture Books from Melissa McMurray!)
#3- Writing

Wednesday: #1- Listen to Story
#2- Grammar
#3- Writing

Thursday: #1- Comprehension Skill
#2- Cafe Strategy
#3- Writing

I kept the same schedule each week. Then, depending on what skill or strategy we were working on, I just stuck those activities in at the correct time each week. It made it so much easier to plan.

I love Daily 5 because I think it can be used and interpreted in so many ways. Be sure to link up and share what Daily 5 looks like in your classroom!