Wednesday, July 31, 2013

School Week Linky: Games!

Hi everyone! So today, The Teacher's Chair has asked us all to share our best games:
I think I've been blabbering in my recent posts so lets make today short and sweet!

Beat You To 10!

I'm going to share a math game that focuses on very basic one-to-one correspondence, counting, and the foundation of addition through the use of visual "more or less" representations. It can be used as a math tub/work station, as an "I'm done, now what?" activity, or anything else you can think of!
Here's what it looks like:
There are two different ways to play this very simple games:

1) In partners, students take turns rolling a single die and colouring in the corresponding number of boxes on their side (i.e. either the boxes under "Player 1" or "Player 2"). For example, if Player 1 rolls 2 dots on the die, they would colour in 2 boxes. The first player to colour in 10 boxes wins.

2) In partners, students roll two dice, add up the dots, and colour the corresponding number of boxes. For example, if Player 1 rolled 2 dots on one die and 3 dots on the other, they could colour 5 boxes...obviously this way takes significantly less time to finish the game and reach 10, but it's a great way to introduce/practice simple addition.

(FYI the numerals printed along the bottom are simply for student reference)

TIP: print the game on cardstock (or back it on colourful construction paper) and laminate it. That way students can colour their boxes with whiteboard markers and play over and over again!

TRICK: you may have noticed the snap cubes pictures on the game sheet. When my students play this game, I have them roll the die, then build a tower representing the number they rolled before colouring it in on their worksheet. For example, if a student rolls two dots on the die, they would snap together 2 cubes to begin their tower, then colour in 2 boxes on the worksheet. That way you hit various learning styles by incorporating a hands-on element through building. Again, first one who colours in all 10 boxes and has a tower of 10 snap cubes wins. 

Click HERE to visit my little TpT store to download your FREE copy!!!

Now, head on over to The Teacher's Chair to link up and/or visit all of the linkers (is that what we're called?!) to fill your toolbox with a handful of great games!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

School Week Linky: Read Alouds

.I'm linking up again with Tracey today at The Teacher's Chair for her School Week Linky...
on the menu today:

Like every other teacher, I LOVE children's books and read one to my kiddies *at least* once a day. There are soooo many to chose from and, taking Tracey's lead, I've added a couple of my back-to-school favs to the carousel above.

From that list, I'm going to focus on this little gem:
The Crayon Box That Talked by Shane DeRolf

Okay, I'm gonna get deep here! I had a difficult class last year. Don't get me wrong, they were absolute *sweethearts* and I loved them all to death, but they were a tough little bunch--to say the least. 

I stumbled across this book and thought that it would be PERFECT for my kiddies. It is simple, straightforward, engaging, and relevant...even for a 5 year old. The Crayon Box That Talked explores "harmony through diversity," teaching us that we are all very different and, even if you have a hard time liking someone, you can still learn to get along. That, I found, was the key to my kiddies. They needed to be taught HOW to get along with one another. They were often downright nasty to each other and it took me almost the whole school year to figure out why. 

I often just chalked up the constant bickering and arguments to strong, clashing personalities. But after almost a whole year of endless failed behaviour and conflict management techniques and tricks, I realized: they do not KNOW how to get along and accept one another's differences. I needed to teach them how to be kind to and accepting of one another.

ANYWAYS, let's get to the activities!!
As a quick intro & check-for-understanding after reading the book, I used a couple of the activities from The Bubbly Blonde Teacher's great little FREEBIE:
But the activity that I found to be the most meaningful with my little monsters was a group activity where they were forced to work together harmoniously:

In groups, they worked together to come up with a single idea, and draw one complete picture altogether. (None of this "I'll draw a picture of an ocean and you draw a picture of a circus," but rather "do you want to draw a picture of a farm?" etc...).
We did this same activity a couple of times (which was welcomed by my class since they LOVE art time). The first time, we completed the activity in groups of two--after all, it's easy to come up with an idea between only two people ("easy" in theory haha). Then, I made the activity a little harder by placing the kiddies in groups of 4-5. Finally, I split my class into two groups and they had to work with many more of their peers to first agree upon an idea, then illustrate the idea.
The catch: not one single argument the whole time!!!
We discussed how, of course there was going to be disagreements, but those disagreements did not have to turn into arguments. We talked about compromise and we talked about speaking kindly. 
The end results were beautiful and displayed proudly in our classroom :)
(I forgot to take pictures during our activity so I borrow Cyndi's over at Lacy's Letters, where I originally got my inspiration for this activity...thanks for sharing, Lacy!!! Go and check out her original blog post HERE)

So that's it for now! Thanks again to Tracey for this great School Week Linky...pop on over to The Teacher's Chair to link up on one or all of the days.

Monday, July 29, 2013

School Week Linky: Lesson Planners

So since I've been so awful at blogging throughout the summer, I thought it would be fun to link up with the lovely Tracey over at The Teacher's Chair, and participate in my very first blog linky!! 

So here it is--how I organize my lesson plans:
Yes, I am one of those strange people who, although I'm all for these convenient digital advances, I *have* to write out my lesson plans, lists, reminders, etc., by hand. So, as you might be able to tell from the picture above, my "teacher binder" is massive! It weighs about a thousand pounds and could easily be converted digitally into a two-pound iPad, but I wouldn't have it any other way!

So let's look at some of the tabs inside:
(I *love* the binder covers from A Year of Many Firsts. Click HERE to visit Lyndsey and download your own copy of this great resource!)

My tabs: Student Information, Parent Communication, Supply (this is where I keep any notes supply teachers leave me, as I have a separate "Sub Binder" for when I'm away), School Information, Daybook Plans, (two other tabs that I'm in the process of changing), and Reference (for staff meeting info, and other quick-reference tidbits I receive from workshops, etc.).

At the front of my "Daybook Plans" tab, I keep my long range plans for easy referral throughout the year:
(Above is one of four pages of my long range plans)

After that, I have my daybook plan template (last year's is shown below). Although it may "waste" paper, I need to see my lesson plans for each day, rather than having just a week-at-a-glance. I just find it keeps me much more organized and it gives me a sense of direction. So that is partially why my binder is currently overflowing (it still holds an individual plan for every single school day last year, on top of other helpful information!)
It took me a couple different tries to find a daybook plan that works best for me and, so far, this one has been a winner. 

So that's that! My lesson planner *very* simple--certainly nothing fancy--but it works for me!

Thanks for visiting! Now head on over to The Teacher's Chair and link up!!!

...But, before you go, here's a little FREEBIE for you:
These are the editable binder covers from my 
Island Damask Labels & Decor Pack available in my little TpT store (the binder covers included in the decor pack are NOT editable).

Click the pic above to download and enjoy!

(tech tip: when you click the pic above, the preview may not display the binder cover images, but rather just display text. No worries! After you download, everything should appear as it does above.)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Pirate DPA & A Giveaway WINNER!

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer! ...I sure am!

Today, I'm going to be sharing a DPA (daily physical activity) SMARTboard file that I created waaaaayyy back in teacher's college for my gym class.

At one point or another throughout the school year, there's probably going to be a pirate unit/theme...or is that just me? Pirate unit or not, this is a fun way to incorporate some quick, easy, and engaging DPA into your daily schedule.

The best part about it? No equipment! AND your kiddies can do the activities anytime in your very own classroom! (permitted your room is equipped with a SMARTboard)

Here's a quick description of the activity (the following page is included in the download):

There are 15 DPA actions to be completed, each given a pirate-themed title. Here's the main page:
The following 6 (out of 15) examples will give you an idea of what you will find within the file:
And more!!

Tech Tip: once you download and open the file, click "View" along the top navigation bar, then "Full Screen," and click the right arrow to navigate to the main ship page (page 2) to begin the interactive activity.

And now the moment you've all been waiting for...
*write names on paper, fold, close eyes, pick a name...*
Janice DeMarti! 

You're the winner of my Chalkboards & Banners labels and decor pack!! Shoot me an email at and I will hook you up with your download!

Thank you so much to everyone who entered!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Birds On the Loose & an Insta-Linky!!!

Hi all! I hope everyone is enjoying their summer :) I've actually been working non-stop on activities for next year and have one of my favs to share with you later this post!

But first, here's one of those posts I promised that didn't quite make the cut throughout this past school year. I'll begin by confessing my love of what other's call the "dirtiest bird on Earth"...PIGEONS!!!

I flippin' *LOVE* pigeons. I get so excited whenever I see them. I just think they are so hilarious and cute...seriously, how could you not love this:
HA!!!!!!! *SO cute* 
(to be perfectly honest, I specifically googled "fat pigeon" to find this one because, personally,  I think the fatter the better!.....I need therapy a pet pigeon)

ANYWAYS, fuelled by my love of these joyful creatures, it took no time for me to drag my students into my healthy obsession with the help of Mo Willem's amazing series:
My kiddies *love* these books and howl with laughter every time we read them, so I wanted to find a way to incorporate the books in our morning literacy centres. 
I decided it would be a great creative writing and oral language development opportunity to have the kiddies tell their own version of the pigeon stories. I photocopied one of the pigeon books without the words. After binding one book per centre group, the kiddies got to work writing their funny "don't let the pigeon..." tales:
It also turned out to be a great opportunity to work on sharing, taking turns, and teamwork. After all, there were 3-4 kids and only one book. They were forced to speak constructively to each other and compromise to come up with their overall topic and all of the details within their stories.
This centre activity ended up taking us through two weeks of their oral language literacy centre {the first week was spent brainstorming and writing, and the second week was spent illustrating and editing}. They ended up doing such a GREAT job on their books that we kept the finished products in our class library to share with our peers:
 ("Don't let the pigeon hold dynamite," "Don't let the pigeon have chocolate bars," "Don't let the pigeon go dirt biking," "Don't let the pigeon go for vacation," and "Don't let the pigeon play hockey.")
After seeing how valuable this simple activity was, I ended up doing the same activity with another book later in the year. I love this activity because once you find a book that the kiddies enjoy, you automatically have an engaging and meaningful centre activity...the possibilities are endless!

Now, in the spirit of this feather-filled post, I'm going to quickly share the giant 158-page math pack I made for the beginning of the school year:
I can't wait to use this with my kiddies in the fall. It's packed with hands-on math tub activities, worksheets, and assessments. Each math tub activity is filled with tons of opportunity for differentiation and can therefore potentially take you through the first couple months, depending on the grade you teach and how you schedule your math block. 
Pop on over to my little TpT store if you'd like a handful of math tub activities to help get you (and your kiddies) through the first few weeks of school :)

Finally, I'm linking up with Babbling Abby over at The Inspired Apple for an adorable insta-linky!!
What does YOUR handwriting look like? Link up with @babblingabby on Instagram with the hashtag #writenowwednesday to link up:

Come hang out with me on Instagram: @funwithfirsties Meet you there!
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