Thursday, December 29, 2011

Shopping Find of the Day!

I can tell it may be time to get back to school soon.  I was shopping at Hobby Lobby today and I found this cute, unbreakable, bright green tray for $7.99(which came to about five dollars after I used a 40% off coupon:)  My mind then began to go crazy thinking of all the awesome ways I could use this tray.  It could be used at the guided reading table to sort sounds and during math time to show place value.  Students could sort counters and even use it to show adding and subtraction number sentences.  The best news is that if the trays get dropped they will not break and they come in pretty blue, green, pink, and yellow colors.  This is not too bad for a five dollar purchase!  Maybe it is time to get back to school!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Don't Forget the Simple Things!

 This time of year can be so hectic and rushed in the classroom with everything that needs to get done academically.  The students still LOVE the simple things, however.  Making reindeer headbands with hand traced antlers and a red pompom nose seem to mean so much, especially when we take a picture of the whole class wearing their headbands and then make copies to place in the holiday cards we make our families!  Making simple reindeer ornaments out of craft sticks to hang on the classroom tree also brings a sparkle to everyone's eyes as the kids realize they decorated the tree with things they made themselves.  Glueing colored pasta around their own photo to take home to share, reminds each student that they are an important part of their family and our class.  I have found it is the simple things that mean so much.  We just need to slow down and realize these are the things the students will remember and treasure!

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Snowman Crafts

 Each year I like to have the students make something for their families for the holidays.  Snowmen are always a favorite because we are all eagerly waiting to build a real one as soon as the first snowfall appears!  This year we are painting small flowerpots white, and then adding buttons, a ribbon scarf, a foam ball for the head and a little hat. 
      I also wanted to share a picture of the paint roller snowman a teacher gave me a couple of years ago.  It is just simply a paint roller, with buttons, a fleece scarf and hat and twig arms.  Now we just need a major winter storm (instead of RAIN) to build our most favorite snowman of made of SNOW! 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Easy Gift Bags for Students to Make

 If you need simple, quick gift bags for your students to make this is the idea I go back to year after year.  You just need a white bag, bow, and green and red paint.  I trace a circle on the bag in pencil and then the student dips a finger into green paint and dabs around the circle.  When the green paint dries, the student can then dab a few red dots around the circle.  I hot glue a bow on and then the bag is ready for a gift!

    These are the cards I just finished making for Reindeer Noses gift bags for my co-workers.  You simply just put some Whoppers Candy and a red gum ball (for Rudolph's nose) in a baggie and then place some type of tag labeled "Reindeer Noses" attached to it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Letters to the Gingerbread Man

It is my favorite time of year!  I love to begin December with a unit on the Gingerbread Man.  One of my favorite activities is to have the students write a letter to the Gingerbread Man persuading him to stay away from the fox.  The students always come up with creative reasons and ways to help the Gingerbread Man.  To create the gingerbread craft, the students simply trace a large circle from a pattern onto brown construction paper.  Next, I have the students trace a large rectangle pattern and then round the edges for  the arms.  Students use buttons, puffy paint, construction paint circles and a bow to give the gingerbread craft some character.  This is an easy activity and the students really seem to enjoy it!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

No Turkey Here!

 I love, love, love this time of year.  We had the funnest time making these cute little critter cut outs.  I used my Cricut to cut out the turkey patterns.  The students traced the patterns and then the students cut out, glued, and colored the turkeys. We just had to make a sign for each of the turkeys persuading people to eat other things on turkey day, rather than turkeys.  The responses were darling!  

Monday, November 14, 2011

Math Stories

 We have been making Math Stories using our classmate's names in class.  I have found that using the students names is a really effective way to capture the attention of the whole class.  We create the story, write it in our class book, and then record the problem solving and answer in our math journals.  I made the Math Story Book out of large plastic scrapbook sleeves, and metal rings.  This way pages can be inserted and removed.  Of course, the cover matches our monkey theme that is going on in our classroom!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

CAFE Board

Our classroom still does the Daily Five and I continue to love it more and more each year.  This is the CAFE board that is decorated around my classroom theme.  The fabric was purchased from Hobby Lobby and I purchased the CAFE decorations from TPT.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Bald Eagle

We have been spending this week learning about our nation's symbols.  The students definitely enjoyed learning about the Bald Eagle the best.  Deanna Jump was my inspiration to help my students create these cute eagles using their handprints and footprint.  This idea was presented in her patriotic unit that I purchased on Teachers Pay Teachers. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Decorating with Monkeys

It has been another year of decorating the classroom with monkeys.  I still love the hues of green and yellow throughout the classroom with the little monkey characters peeking out from here and there.
Above is a pocket chart that we use on the calendar board.  It helps us focus on the days of the week, the weather, and our daily special. Also shown is our Classroom Helper chart complete with bananas.  Our classroom could not be complete with a few palm trees scattered around also!  

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Owl Vocabulary

We have been working really hard in our classroom to expand our vocabulary.  One of the ways we focus on words that are interesting to us is to draw a visual for the word and place them on theme pictures around our classroom.  We also focus on a main idea such as Owls eat..and then add visuals to the words to help us remember the details.  The students always love adding the pictures to the clues and they always come up with creative drawings to show what the words mean.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Going Batty in First Grade!

Comparing bats and birds.

We had a great time learning about Bats in our classroom this month.  We read Stellaluna and then compared bats and birds using a Venn Diagram.  We also used our ideas and research that we learned about bats and organized it for our writing by using the Bats can, bats have, bats are....branch chart.  The Bubble Map was a great way to think of words that could describe bats.
   These anchor charts really helped us in our writing and learning about bats!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Back to School Welcome Poem

I found this idea on the Sunny Days in Second Grade blog.  I will be handing these out at Open House the night before school starts.  I am not sure who thought up this poem so if anyone out there knows who did, let me know so that the creative author receives the proper credit.  I made a few tweaks to it but it goes like this:
The night before school is exciting and fun.
There are always so many things to be done.
Your clothes are ready, your backpack is too.
Your classroom is full of fun things you will do.
Many questions go through your mind,
All types of thoughts of every kind.
But sometimes we all get the jitters down deep
And that makes it so hard to fall fast asleep.
So here is some magic confetti for you,
full of promises for the whole year through.
Tonight when you lay down your head,
Sprinkle some under your pillow in bed.
The confetti will help you sleep through the night
And you will wake up in the morning fresh and bright.
I'll sprinke the confetti under my pillow, too.
Because I am so excited to meet you!
       Sweet Dreams First Grader

I placed the confetti in little baggies and placed it in a card with the poem. Thanks again to whomever created this clever poem.  First graders will love this!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

A great friend shared this easy, delicious recipe with me.  All you need are:
     16 unwrapped rectangular ice cream sandwiches
       1 large tub of Cool Whip
       1 large jar of chocolate fudge topping
       Sprinkles, crushed cookies, crushed nuts, or small candies.

In a 9 by 13 baking dish, place 8 ice cream sandwiches.  Cover with half the jar of fudge and half the tub of whipped cream.  Place 8 more ice cream sandwiches on the next layer.   Cover again with the rest of the fudge and whipped cream.  Top with your favorite sprinkles, crushed cookies, nuts, or small candies.  Place in the freezer for at least 2 hours.

You can get creative and use peanut butter ice cream sandwiches, fudge, and crushed nuts.
Another combination might be chocolate ice cream sandwiches, caramel topping, and mini chocolate chips.  Etc.  This cake can also be created for a birthday celebration or holiday. 

One thing is for sure, this recipe is fun to make with kids, does not involve an oven in the summer, and takes less than 10 minutes to make.  This is my kind of recipe!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Visual Schedule

I love having a Visual Schedule in the classroom.  I place it on our calendar board and every morning during our group meeting we go over the schedule for the day.  I place the cards up on the schedule board in front of the students so that they can watch the activity plan of the day unfold. The first column shows the morning activities and the second column shows the afternoon activities.  As we complete an activity in class, I (or a student) will turn the card over so that only the activities we have left to do are showing to the students.  A visual schedule is an amazing resource for students who need to know the routine and structure of the day and it also gives them some comfort in knowing that they can look at the calendar board anytime to see what is coming next. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Art Curtain

 I found this creative idea in the Family Fun Crafts for Kids spring issue.  All you need to create this art curtain are 12 by 12 inch 3 hole page protectors, scrapbook paper, jumbo round brads, a glue gun, and tape.  I found the page protectors in the scrapbook album area and I made sure I chose the heavy duty clear protectors.  Next, I found coordinating sheets of paper.  I decorate my classroom with lots of green so I chose these as my colors. 

 Next, I found some decorated large brads.  I placed the scrapbook paper into the the protectors and made sure that the openings all faced the top.  I connected the protectors with the brads (see photos) .  The back is a little tricky.  I hot glued the bottom row to the top (see photo below)  Then I slid some of my son's artwork into the sleeves. 

This cute display can be placed with magnets onto a chalkboard, taped to a wall, or you can attach rings to the top and thread the curtain onto a pocket chart or dowel rod.  You can also add more sleeves to make a larger curtain and use any color or decorating theme you want.  The great part about this project is it took 10-15 minutes!!!!  I am planning on using these in my classroom next year for sure!  (This curtain looks a lot cuter than it appears in the photograph.)

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Sunflower Seed

Happy Summer everyone.  I am loving the sunny skies and slower schedule!   A little story about the Sunflower on the left.  Every year we plant Sunflower seeds in our first grade classroom.  I always plant a few extra seeds so that if a seed does not sprout for a student, there will be another one for that student to take home.  Last year, one of the cups had a seed that just did not sprout like the others.  As I was cleaning out the classroom at the end of the year, my son found the cup with the little sprout by the window and he begged to take it home and plant it in the ground.  He did and he took the best care of that little sprout.   That little sprout grew to be the most beautiful flower by the end of the summer and it gave me a strong reminder that with a little care, love, warmth and patience blooming and growth do take place in it's own time. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Marshmallow Pops

 Happy Summertime!  If you need a fun, creative snack to make with kids this summer Marshmallow Pops are the snack to make.  They are easy, fast, and can be made for any special occasion (I was practicing these for the 4th of July).  First, melt some Almond Bark (Vanilla flavored) in the microwave following the package instructions.  I then placed a large Campfire marshmallow on a skinny stick (see images below) and swirled the marshmallow in the melted coating.  I then sprinkled the freshly coated marshmallow with sugars and sprinkles. Let the marshmallow stick dry on wax paper and in a few short minutes it is ready to enjoy.  You can make just a few or a whole bunch.  I placed mine in a glass jar with blue and white candies to place on the dinner table tonight.   

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Monkey Bulletin Boards

I decorated my last year's classroom in a Monkey Theme.  Here is a picture of one of the bulletin boards.  The "Wild Words" consisted of our character words or new vocabulary words throughout the year.  This bulletin board also had our Word Hunt poem to emphasize high frequency words we were currently working on. The second bulletin board was our Welcome board that we displayed in the hall at the beginning of the year.  I will continue to post some pictures of our MONKEY Binders (My Own Notebook Keeps Everything Yearlong) and some other classroom resources as the summer passes.  I am currently trying to decide which theme I want to have this coming school year.  It would be so easy to just stick with the Monkey theme but after having the theme for a starts to go BANANAS!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Mother's Day Gardens

Mother's Day Gardens with grass.

Plan B: Mother's Day Garden with easter grass!

I just wanted to show some samples of the Mother's Day Gardens we made this year for our moms.  They really turned out cute and the students just loved giving the grass "haircuts".  Unfortunately, two of my students had grass that did not grow so we rolled clay balls and stuck them to the bottom of the bowl so we could stick the flower craft sticks in the clay.  We then added easter grass in the bowl.  The easter grass really looked cute and I might consider making the gardens like this in the future.  My students were so proud to take these home to their moms.  I hope everyone had a great Mother's Day!

Top Banana Awards

Our classroom had the Monkey Theme going on in it all year.  When I saw the Top Banana Award Trophies and 2011 Graduation Monkeys advertised in a recent Oriental Trading catalog, I just had to order them.  I was so happy when they were delivered because they were as cute as I thought they would be.  Naturally, my students LOVED them!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Handprint Flower Bag

 I had the most wonderful classroom aide ever this year.  I wanted to have all of the students to help with her gift at the end of the school year so we made a gardening bag for her.  Every child placed a handprint or thumbprint on the bag and then I added the black marker art after the paint dried.  Garden theme items such as garden gloves,
a gardening magazine, and gardening tools can be added to the bag.  Don't forget the most important flower seeds...Forget Me Nots!