Adventures in First Grade

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year's Eve

Happy New Year!

To celebrate ringing in 2012, EVERYTHING in my TPT store is 20% off!!

The sale begins today and ends on January 4, 2012.

CLICK HERE to go to my store.

Happy NewYear's Eve!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

11 in 11

I LOVE a good linky party!  When I saw Kristen (A Teeny Tiny Teacher) and Hadar (Miss Kindergarten) were hosting, I knew I had to join in.

11.  Favorite movie you watched
The Help.  Loved the book and loved the movie!

10.  Favorite TV series
I really like any of the Real Housewives.  Also, and I know this is going to sound strange, but....I really like Deadliest Catch!  I don't know why, I just do.  Please don't judge!

9.  Favorite restaurant
Abuelo's.  They have a pasta and shrimp dish that is FABULOUS!

8.  Favorite new thing you tried
It would have to be blogging.  I was so afraid in the beginning that there wouldn't be anyone who cared what I had to say.  But it has been the total opposite.  Thank you everyone in bloggy world for being so nice and inviting!

7.  Favorite gift you received
My husband got me a Nook Color for Christmas and I LOVE it.  I was always one of those people who said, "But I want to be able to HOLD my book."  Boy was I stupid misinformed.

6.  Favorite thing you pinned
I found this really cool fall porch decoration:
I have loved this for quite awhile!  I made my own tonight!

I made my own, and while they didn't turn out quite as nice as these, I still really liked them.

5.  Favorite blog post
It would probably have to be Glitter Confession, even though I still cringe when I think about it!

4.  Favorite accomplishment
Well, this isn't really MY accomplishment, it belongs to my oldest.  He is in Kindergarten, and one day when I was typing away on this blog, he was standing over my shoulder and would point to words and say, "Mommy that says...."  I can remember about falling out of my chair.  I knew that he could read about 50 of his sight words in isolation, but the fact that he picked them up in my writing was a very exciting, proud moment for me as a mommy.

3.  Favorite picture
On Christmas day, we took a picture with my granddaddy (who is 92) and all of the great-grandchildren, or as many of them that would sit still long enough!

That would be me trying to keep my youngest in his chair until after the pictures had been snapped....let's just say that didn't work out to well!

2.  Favorite memory
Getting our boys their new puppy, Tucker.  Oh the screams of excitement!  And the boys were excited, too!

1.  Goal for 2012
I recently bought and read the Daily Five and Cafe from The Sisters.  My goal is to try to implement them into our language arts time.  If you have any advice, please share!

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

My Top 3 of 2011

Fern over at Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas is having a really neat linky party!  The idea is to share the top three post views of 2011.

Drum roll please......

With 1,075 views - The School Bag
Coming in at 222 views - Small Groups
And totaling 178 views - Yippeeee!!

Join the fun by heading over to Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas and link up!

Happy Tuesday!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Holiday Treats

Tammy over at Klinger Cafe is having a sweet linky party.  Really, it is sweet...Holiday sweets!!

This recipe is one of my favorites.

Heath Bars

1  12oz package of chocolate chips
1  cup of brown sugar
2  sticks of butter
Saltine Crackers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a 10 x 15 jellyroll pan with foil.  Place a single layer of Saltines in the pan. 

Combine the butter and sugar.  Boil and stir for three minutes.  Pour over the cracker layer.  Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. 

Immediately sprinkle and spread the chocolate chips over the crackers, butter, and sugar.    Place pan in the freezer to cool.

Once cooled, break into pieces. 

I store mine in the fridge in an airtight container.


Happy Wednesday!

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Snowy Days of January



Do you hear it? 

The sound of breaking glass resulting from me singing the "Hallelujah Chorus" (I can't carry a tune in a bucket).  I'm FINALLY finished with my "The Snowy Days of January Math and Language Arts Station Activities" pack on TPT!!  My poor fingers can barely type anymore!

January can be such a LONNGG month, what with snow days, that I decided to create a packet to go along with this time of the year.

Here is a glimpse of what you will find.

There are five math station activities including:
     -Measure the Room.  Non-standard measurement practice.
     -Money Snowball Fight.  Counting money.
     -Snowman Subtraction.  Differences less than twenty.
     -Shape Shifters.  Shape riddles and sorting.
     -Snowy Story Problems.  Solving story problems with addition and subtraction.

There are five language arts station activities:
     -Read the Snow Room.  Words with /sn/, /ow/, and /an/.
     -Snowy Words.  Creating words using a phrase.
     -Sledding Synonyms.  Matching words that are synonyms.
     -Cocoa Compound Words.  Creating Compound Words.
     -Fact or Opinion?  Sorting sentences as Fact or Opinion.

Snowy Extras:
     -Snowy Adjectives.  Coloring a boy or girl in winter clothing based on descriptions on cards.
     -Snow Day Short Story.  Reading an original short story and then answering questions about the setting, characters, and decorating a snowman based on the story.
     -The Snow Game.  One game board, two fun games!  A math game where the children roll two dice and move the number of spaces as the sum.  A language arts game where the children determine the number of syllables in a word to know how many spaces to move.

CLICK HERE to check out The Snowy Days of January.

Okay.  Now, I need a nap.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Power of Giving and Thank You!

I would like to thank Kimberly over at First in Maine for the Liebster Award!  She has an awesome blog with really neat ideas...head on over and check it out!

To see who I passed on the award to, CLICK HERE!

At our school, there has been a rule for as long as I can remember around the holiday season.  Instead of the children exchanging gifts with each other, each grade level participates in a special service project to help others.

This year, first grade decided to focus on the American Cancer Society.  We came up with the idea to Deck the First Grade Hall.  The children could bring in donations and for every dollar, we would add a link to a paper chain in the hallway.  The students were VERY excited about our special project.

There are about 100 kids in the first grade, so we thought if every kiddo brings a dollar, we would have $100.  Well, we blew by that goal in the first two days!  Then we started thinking, maybe we can get $200.  By the end of the first week we had it! 

The generosity was overwhelming, and yesterday our grand total came to:


The sight of 400 chain links looping down our hall was amazing...I wish I had remembered to take a picture, but yesterday was about ten kinds of crazy!

Do your schools do service projects?  I'd love to hear other ideas!

Happy Saturday!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Holiday Wreath

After the Great Glitter Fiasco yesterday, I surprised myself by taking on another crafty activity. 

We made wreaths today!  They are quite simple.  Each child gets four sheets of green construction paper.  Fold the paper in half, and in half again so there are four equal sections.  The kiddos then trace their hands and cut them out.  Once they finish with the green, give each child a half sheet of red, fold it in half, and have them trace and cut again.

To create the wreath, each child needs a paper know the super cheap ones that you can get about 200 for $2.00.  Show them how to cut out the center circle.  All you need is the outer ring.  Have your kids glue their green hands overlapping around the paper plate ring.  Then they glue on the two red hands:  the bow.

Here are a few examples of the finished creations:

Just like the Rudolph craft, I love how each one is different!  You can see that some decided to add some holly berries, some left them plain. 

One warning.  They will wear them on their heads.  This happens every year.  One of my little guys even went as far to say that he was going to wear his to the beach this summer to protect his face from the sun!  Ahh, first graders.  They say the cutest things!!

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Glitter Confession

Why is it, every time I do something embarrassing, I always have an audience?  Today we made ornaments out of a cinnamon, applesauce, glue and glitter mixture.  It was going so well.  I had enough dough, no tears were shed, everyone was happy!  Plus, my classroom smelled so yummy!

Then.  It happened.

After school, our secretary popped her head in wondering what smelled so wonderful.  I had her come see the ornaments, and she was oohing and ahhing.  One of my fellow first grade teachers, her daughter, and my son were also in the room.  The ornaments were drying on the heating unit, which wasn't on, because I can't hear over it. 

You aren't going to believe what I did.  I flipped on the switch of the heater, thinking that the ornaments were heavy enough to keep the paper that they were drying on from flying away.  I was wrong.  So VERY wrong. 

Every ornament flew into the air as all five of stood transfixed in horror.  Perhaps I should add, that after each child made his ornament with the cookie cutters, he or she got to add glitter to the top.  Some of them added a LOT of glitter.  Along with every ornament flying into the air, so did a beautiful shower of gold and silver.

Here is a picture of what it looked like when I had sort of gotten it back to normal.  Okay it doesn't look anything like it did before the Great Heater Incident of 2011.  I'm just trying to make myself feel a little less dopey.

And here is the floor:

Here are the lessons that I have learned today:

a.  when making ornaments, don't put them on the heater to dry.
b.  if ornaments are placed on the before mentioned heater, do not...I repeat, DO NOT turn the thing on!

I'm going to be getting glitter out of my hair for a week!

Happy Glittery Tuesday!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Hobby Lobby Heaven

I have read on many blogs about this amazing store:  Hobby Lobby.  I have always been very sad, because I didn't think there was a Hobby Lobby close to where we live. 

This weekend my husband and I went on an out of town shopping trip (necessary since there were only 16 days until Christmas and this chickadee had not bought ONE SINGLE gift).  There was a wonderful shopping center and Mr. Nunley was reading off the names of the stores on his side, and I was telling him the ones on mine.  I'm sure that you can guess one of the names he said:  HOBBY LOBBY.

He was quite taken aback when I shouted for him to stop the car....stop it NOW!  You could just see the deer in the headlight look as he attempted to calculate what this excitement was going to cost.

I wisely sent him to an electronics store and I headed to the famed Hobby Lobby.  I walked in the doors and just stopped, jaw dropped to the floor, as I gazed around in wonder. 

About an hour later, I happened to look up to see Mr. Nunley strolling down the aisle toward me.  I was nervous that he was going to be annoyed, but no.  HE had found something that HE wanted!

When I got home from our shopping trip, I went online to the Hobby Lobby store finder search.  I discovered that a new Hobby Lobby store has opened in a city not that far away.  What a marvelous holiday surprise!


Happy Sunday!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Warm and Fuzzy!

Thank you so much to Amy over at  The Resource(ful) Room for her kind words and an award!  Thank you, thank you!!

We have recently discovered each others blogs, and she has TONS of great ideas!! 

The rules of this award are:

1.  Copy and past the award on your blog.
2.  Thank the giver and link back to them.
3.  Reveal your top five picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
4.  Hope that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers!!!

I have so many blogs that I LOVE and it is hard to narrow it down to just five. 

Stop by and check out these blogs.  You won't be disappointed!

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Holiday Reading Incentive

Our school uses the Accelerated Reader program (AR) as a supplement to our Language Arts curriculum.  My first grade team and I have been brainstorming ideas to get our kids excited about least as excited as they are about the holidays!!

We decided for the last two weeks before winter break, our classes would work to build a paper chain to go on our holiday trees that we have in our rooms.  Every time a child gets 100% on an AR test, they get to add a link to our chain.

We started today, and check out our little tree:

The kids are all kinds of excited about decorating the tree!  I hope to see a jump in their reading enthusiasm.

What do you do to motivate your students to read?

Happy Monday!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Holiday Math Manipulatives

Recently I was shopping with my family in Walmart for holiday decorations.  I found something amazing.  And CHEAP.  The name on the package says confetti.  I don't consider it to be confetti, but I did think that it would be great to use in math tubs as manipulatives.

Check it out:

I thought they were so cute!  I know that it is kind of hard to tell, but they are little gift packages.  There are 36 in a bag, and I am pretty sure they were only 97 cents!!  I found them in the holiday section that is in the Garden Center area of the store. 

Does anyone else have suggestions for fun and inexpensive holiday manipulatives?  Or manipulatives for any time of year?

Happy Sunday!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Dangerous Game and ARR Freebie

I learned a very important lesson today.  It can be really dangerous to have a small group of first graders work on thinking of words with the /or/ sound.  It was going great!  We had or, more, cord, Ford, for, corn. happened.  One of my darlings said something.  It rhymes with corn and begins with a p. 

I quickly moved on, and I don't think any of the others even realized what was said.  But a few minutes later, she said it AGAIN!

It is really making me think twice about brainstorming words with certain sounds!

Along with the /or/ sound, we have been working on the r-controlled vowel sound of /ar/.  When I think of /ar/, I think of pirates.  I created a little book to go along with this sound. 
This little book is ten pages long, but it has two of each page on one sheet of paper.  The children read the story about Charlie.  On each page, they write the /ar/ words on the line provided.  The last page has them think of and write as many /ar/ words as they can.

The cute pirate themed images are from KPM Doodles.  The font is courtesy of Kevin and Amanda Free Scrapbooking Fonts.
To get your free copy, CLICK HERE.  I hope that you enjoy! 

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Freebie

One of my favorite holiday crafts is to make Rudolph.  My aunt actually came up with the idea and she was kind enough to share with me.  This is what we make:

Now, I know that we have to base all that we do on our curriculum.  In Virginia, it is the S.O.L.s.  There are LOTS of ways that you could fit this in.  Patterns.  Shapes.  Cutting correctly.  Coloring in the lines.  Using glue neatly.  Okay, okay, it's a stretch.  But come on.  It's so cute!

Preparing for the activity.

You will need brown, green, red, and white construction paper.  I also use red felt for the nose.

I am kind of OCD.  You wouldn't necessarily know it to look at my desk/table, but I am with certain things.  Therefore, I cut out the background for the head, background for the ears/antlers, the holly leaves, holly berries, eyes and nose for each child.  I know what you're thinking.  The point of art is for all the creations to look different.  Trust me.  Even with me cutting out all of those pieces, they STILL all look different.

Background ears and head:  Trace the large head and ears/antlers pattern onto brown construction paper.


Holly leaves: trace the leaf onto green.  Two leaves per student.

Holly berries:  trace the soda bottle top (can you tell that I am very high tech?) onto red.  Three berries per student.

Eyes:  trace the oval onto white paper.  Two per child.

Nose:  trace the large round circle onto red felt.

Copy each child a checkerboard head and checkerboard ears/antlers page.

We start with a pattern.  See?  Educational!  You can even talk about the AB rule. In a checkerboard pattern of tan, brown, tan, brown, etc.  I usually do it with them.  Some of your kids will be able to take off and keep the pattern going.  Others will need the visual.

Next, give each child a copy of the checkerboard ears/antlers.

Pattern time:  tan, brown, tan, brown, etc.

Have your students cut out the checkerboard head and ears/antlers.  They will then need to glue the checkerboard head to the brown head background and the checkerboard ears to the brown ears background.

Next.  We do the eyes.  I show the kids on mine how to outline the eyes in black and give the eyes color.  Glue them on.

Outline the holly leaves.  Glue near one of the ears/antlers.  Outline the holly berries and glue as a cluster to cover where the leaves overlap.

Last but not least, the beautiful red felt nose.  Isn't he cute?     

One of the ladies that I used to teach with in third grade has used this craft and she brought in small pine branches that they actually glued on with the paper holly leaves.  Just another twist to the activity.

I'll be honest.  Depending on your group, it can take a bit of time to finish.  But I always think it is worth the end result. 

Happy Creating!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Okay.  I have a confession to make.  Hi.  My name is Megan.  I have been listening to Christmas music since before Thanksgiving.  But it is not ALL my fault.  XM Radio starts playing Holiday Traditions really early in the season. 

As a result of all the fa-la-la-la-las, I couldn't WAIT to take down my Thanksgiving decorations and put up my Christmas things!! 

As you may know, I like to change my Writing Station with the month/season/holiday, so here it is:

I got the tablecloth from Target last year on sale.  I thought that it was fun without being too over the top.

The crayon and pencil containers are from Target's dollar aisle.

This is my December Holiday Word "Wall."  As you can see, it is not actually on a wall.  I put the page in a clear document frame and have it on the writing table.  Check out my TPT store, and you can pick up one for your classroom.

The other picture that I have to show you is of my Holiday Station:

I know it looks kind of bare now, but I will add more to it as the days go by.  The white envelope on the counter is from my Winter Wonderland Math and Language Arts Center pack on TPT.  This particular activity has the children sort Christmas tree bulbs into categories of complete and incomplete sentences.  There is a recording sheet in the envelope as well.

I also have a small Christmas tree in the front of my classroom, but I kinda figured that once you see one three foot artificial tree, you've seen them all.

The last thing that I am really excited about is the books that I ordered my students for their gift from me.  My kids are REALLY into the David books by David Shannon.  When I saw this in the December SeeSaw book order, I knew that I had to get it for them:

I can't WAIT to see their faces!!

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Number Talks

I hope that everyone had a happy Thanksgiving.  I don't know about you, but the break went by too quickly!!

A couple of weeks ago, I went to conference that was being offered about Number Talks:

Oh my goodness!  It is SO awesome.  One of the speakers was a good friend that used to teach third grade at my school.  She got her masters in Math and is now a Math Specialist.

The idea of Number Talks is to take about ten minutes of your day and write a math problem (the book gives you the questions for each day.  I think that is has them for grades K - 5.) on a piece of chart paper.  The children have to work the problems in their heads.  No paper.  No number line.  No manipulatives.  This is a time to share mental math strategies.The teacher will then record each child's solution.

When a child gets the answer, he makes a thumbs up, but holds it at chest level.  This is so the other children aren't distracted by those who "got it" early.  As the children are waiting on the others, they are to be thinking of different ways to figure out the problem.

We then broke into small groups and were the "students" in a Number Talk situation.    Of the eight of us students, we each figured out the question in a different way!  It was amazing. 

I remember thinking, oh this is neat, but we're ADULTS.  Of course it looks fabulous when the students are grown-ups!

The next Monday, I nervously introduced Number Talks.  I demonstrated how they were to show me that they had an answer and explained WHY we were doing it that way.  I then told them that they were to think of different ways to solve the problem while they were waiting on the other students.  Then I taught them the "Me Too" sign.  If someone solves the problem in the same way you were thinking, you don't shout out "That's what I did" or "I did that!"  You make the "Me Too" sign.  To make this sign you stick out your thumb and pinky with the rest of your fingers down facing your palm.  Then move your wrist back and forth (I think of it as the princess wave, just minus a few fingers!)

After explaining what I expected,  I drew the first problem (first grade begins with dot patterns).  I waited a few minutes and saw that my students were putting up their thumbs.  First I called on several children to see how MANY dots were in the pattern.  Then I nervously called on my first student to explain HOW their brain got that answer.  I expected to hear crickets at this point, but NO! They were VERY into it.  They had so many different solutions!  I couldn't believe how neat it was!

I am a much more visual learner, so I am going to show you a picture of the chart of our first Number Talk:

Just so you know, those weird tree things are actually hands where the children said they used their fingers to count!  The clouds with the numbers in them are think bubbles because some kids said they put that number in their head and then counted on.  Isn't this amazing!  All the different ways that they came up with?  They would have gone on forever, but we had to go to our first grade meeting.

Here is a close up of the first dot pattern:

After we finished our first Number Talk, a couple of interesting things happened.  First I asked the kids if they like the thumbs up at the chest answer better then raising their hands.  They did!  Some even said that it helped them because they didn't know who was finished and who was still working.  (FYI:  We don't raise hands anymore in my classroom, we do the chest level thumbs up.)

The other AWESOME thing that happened was this.  After first grade meeting, we came back to the classroom and began working on addition practice.  One of my firsties, let's call her Jan, came up to me and said, "Mrs. Nunley, I just figured out that
5 + 2 = 7.  Well, this question says 5 + 3.  Since I know that 5 + 2 = 7, 5 + 3 must be eight because three is one more than  two."

I must say that was one of my prouder moments as a teacher.  I could actually see and hear how Jan was taking what we had worked on in Number Talks, and was applying the mental math strategies to her practice. 

Needless to say, Number Talks have become a part of our daily math routine.  I am seeing a lot of growth in their thinking skills as well. 

Switching gears, I would like to introduce you to my WINTER WONDERLAND MATH AND LANGUAGE ARTS CENTER ACTIVITIES!  It is a collection of four math and four language arts activities.

I also have created a December Holiday Word Wall page.  You could print this as a poster.  I print it out normally and then put it in a clear document frame to put in my writing station.

Happy Monday!