Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Holiday Gifts....Completed!

As of last Sunday, I had no idea what my first grade students were going to create for their families.  I wandered around Walmart aimlessly as I searched through my Pinterest account on my cell phone.  Nothing was coming together, my brain was tired, my creativity was zapped, I was at an all time holiday low.  But then, my dear husband called.  He was at Home Depot......did I need anything?   Poor thing, he had to listen to crazy me rattle on and on like only an exhausted, old first grade teacher could, in the midst of the holiday bustle.  Out of desperation, he mentioned that I could paint blocks and create a snowman like he had seen one day when I was looking at my Pinterest boards.  Maybe he had a thought here.  He told me to get stuff to decorate wood blocks while he tracked somebody down to cut 2 by 4 boards into 6 inch blocks.  I easily found paint, felt, buttons, ribbon, and women's ankle socks.  As you can see, his idea turned out to be one of the cutest family gifts my students have ever made.  My students painted the blocks one day, and then decorated them the next.  They cannot wait to take these little cuties home and I have once again found holiday cheer!   Happy Holidays!  

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Kindness Tree

I love the month of December because it gives my first graders an opportunity to share acts of kindness with others.  One way we do this is with our Kindness Tree.  On the first day of December I bring in an undecorated tree.  The students are usually surprised and baffled by the empty tree and they often want to quickly decorate it.  I let them know that we will add one ornament everyday to the tree.   The ornament is a plain, white plastic ball.  We think of a word that we can write on the ornament that would show kindness.  I write the words with a black Sharpie marker and then we hang it on the tree.  For example, if our word is smile, we will practice that word all day in the classroom, throughout the school, and at home.  We are finding that when we share these kind acts in our classroom, school, and home, we are giving the gift of kindness to others.  These gifts don't cost a penny but rather come from the heart and are worth more than we may ever know.  The students also begin to realize that as we add each ornament to the tree, the tree grows more beautiful.....just as we do when we share our gifts with others.  

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Five Minute Time Filler

I am sure you have experienced those times when you have five minutes until the bell rings and if you do not fill it with an activity, chaos will surely follow!  This game is prep, basically no materials, and once the students learn how to play it, it can be played over and over again.  In our classroom we use the smartboard but it can also be played on the chalkboard or a large easel.  I write a three letter word and then highlight the letter that needs to be changed.  For example, in the top photo I wrote kit and highlighted the k.  A student will need to think of a word that keeps the it ending but changes the first letter.  The student I selected responded with sit.  I then highlighted another letter in sit that needs to be changed and so on.  I hope this makes sense.  It is a great game and so easy to play.  The sad thing is the only title we could come up with for the game is the One Letter Change Game.  So that is the title we use in our classroom!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Spring? I Don't Think So!!!

Spring arrived this past week but as I write this, we are under a Winter Storm Warning.  Really?  A Winter Storm Warning at the end of March?  That is Ohio for you.  I am trying to busy myself with creating some special little surprises for my adorable first graders.  I made these cute little carrots last year and they were a hit.  All you need are some triangle plastic bags, an orange snack filler, and pretty green ribbon.  You can use any orange snack food such as Cheetos, cheese balls, Goldfish crackers, orange jelly beans, etc.  Easy, easy...25 bags were created in like fifteen minutes!

I found a great big container of Cheese Balls at Sam's Club and I was able to make exactly 25 bags from the one container and that was even after sneaking a few cheese balls for myself!

I will carry them to school in my little basket and pass them out right before Spring Break!  

I also had to share this little craft that is so cute and easy.  Trace a large egg pattern on white card stock or construction paper.  Each child will need two large eggs.  After students cut out the eggs, staple them together on the top.  Students decorate the top egg to look like an easter egg.  Cut the top egg in half, students then decorate the inside to look like a bunny.  The kids love this!  On the back of the project, the students wrote "Some Bunny Loves You" and could share it with someone at home.  I know, no educational value but great for those Ohio inside recesses right before Spring Break.  Have a great week!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Valentine's Day Fun!

We had our Valentine's Day celebration today and we did not monkey around when we made our bags to collect our valentines.    The students were so proud of themselves as they delivered valentines.  I love this day!  

We also had the best time frosting and decorating cookies.  How simple it was, yet even after all these years teaching I had never had a cookie decorating party before.  I sent home a donation sheet requesting frosting and a variety of sprinkles, sugars and candies.  We set up a table where the students could create their own creations.  What fun it was.  A decorated sugar cookie and a Capri Sun was all that was needed for treats.    It was a very simple activity but the kids loved it!  Now it is time for a wonderful three day weekend.  Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Helpful Hints to Save the Day!

Every afternoon we end the day by sharing "Something Good that Happened Today".  Our microphone is used to show the speaker (believe it or not, it is just a fake microphone...a real one would be much more fun!) The students love standing in front of the smart board so that they can be in front of the lights with the microphone speaking.  This keeps everyone calm and quiet right before the dismissal bell.

Germs kind of give me the yucky, icky feeling.  When our bathroom passes started to come back wet, it was a little unnerving for me.  To keep my worries at bay, we have gone to the necklace pass.  That way, students don't have to worry about dropping the passes in the sink (or who knows where else?)  The students simply wear it down to the restroom and back.

My Little Warm Fuzzy Jar  is simply a must in my classroom.  The whole class can earn "Warm Fuzzies" when they display good behavior.  I simply place a warm fuzzy in the jar when everyone is listening on the rug, or standing quietly in a line, etc. When the jar is full, we have a little celebration.  I also hand out warm fuzzies to individual students at times.  For example, if Johnny helps his friend pick up his dropped school box, I will give Johnny a warm fuzzy to keep and take home.  We always talk about how positive behavior makes everyone feel good inside.  Thus, the meaning of the Warm Fuzzy!

And finally, colored cups are an awesome management strategy  to color code our tables.  For years, I taped colored shapes or tags to label each table.  Not anymore......cups are a great visual, they can easily be changed, and cups are cheap!  Cups can be seen from anywhere in the room and no more peeled off tape.  When tables need washed, cups can be removed and returned.  So simple!   Simple equals sanity in my mind.  Have a great week!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Organization Saves Time!

Have you seen those dry erase wall clings at your neighborhood department store or on the internet?  They make a great place at the guided reading table for students to write a word or to jot a thought down.  No need to pass out dry erase boards....they are already at each child's spot.  Students use a dry erase marker and a sock to wipe it clean.  Personally, I enjoy the bright decor it adds to our little reading nook!  

I found this little shelving unit at Sam's club.  It organizes everything the student's need during Daily Five.  Paper, charts, story journals, etc. are available for the students to get on their own.  No more passing things out, the students get what they need as they need it.  Again, love the bright colors and affordable price   that brings organization to our classroom.  Another way to save a few minutes time!

Our calendar area keeps us organized throughout the day.  The daily schedule keeps questions of "What are we doing next?" at bay.  

One of my best finds yet, I found these little book shelves  to keep our writing folders and notebooks in a place that would be easy to keep track of for the students.  The students know exactly where to place their items each day based on the color system.  This saves a lot of time and keeps our classroom organized.
It is the little things that keep our day running smoothly and it is so worth it each day!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Winter Fun!

We finally had our first big snow of the season a couple of weeks ago and the students were so, so excited!  We had a great unit focusing on How to Make a Snowman and we also wrote Snowy Day stories.  I have been trying to get the students to use "fancy first grade words" in their writing so I created an activity to encourage them to use adjectives.  I read All You Need for a Snowman by Alice Schertle.  We then made a list of things a snowman needs.  The students had to add a describing word to each thing.  For example, All you need for a snowman is.....
a fuzzy scarf,
brass buttons,
and a carrot nose.
But most of all you
need soft, purple earmuffs!
The students came up with a variety of different items and every child's writing turned out so unique!  The hallway is decorated with the cute snowman crafts and even though the snow has long since melted, we have our snowman to help keep the winter fun alive!

We also had a great time making snow globes of our favorite winter activities using plastic plates to add a 3-D look.  This activity was Pinterest inspired and a quick classroom favorite!
Now, I am on the countdown until spring!