Adventures in First Grade

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Which Sense Makes Sense? Freebie

Next week, we will be exploring the five senses in the science work station.  I just finished creating a five senses sort.  The students will read the words, using picture clues, and sort each card by the correct sense.  They will record their answers on a response sheet.  ENJOY!

CLICK HERE to get your copy!
Happy Saturday!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Spoooooky ABC Order Freebies

Oh, alphabetical order.  You are my foe.  It seems so simple, yet it is so hard.

Yesterday, I realized that I needed to have a mini lesson on ABC order.  We just weren't getting it.  So, today after the lesson in small groups, I gave each child five words to put into ABC order.  To make sure they were able alphabetize without the help of their neighbor's paper, children sitting next to each other had different papers.  To help them, I laminated and gave each child one of these:

CLICK HERE to get a copy.

Here is a free copy of the ABC order that the kids completed in groups.  The awesome font is courtesy of DJ Inkers.

CLICK HERE for your copy.

Tomorrow, I am going to give each child another five words to alphabetize.  Here is your free copy:

CLICK HERE to get your free copy!
Font courtesy of DJ Inkers.  Graphics courtesy of Pixel Papers.

Fingers crossed that we have alphabet success tomorrow!

Happy Thursday!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Thomas The Train

Thomas the Train has caused me quite a bit of trouble this week.  But he also created an amazing moment, too.  Let me explain.

This is my son's current AR book:

I should mention that my youngest son LOVES Thomas.  Loves.  Last night, Parker "stole" Luke's AR book.  He was looking at the pictures and very happy.  Until I told him that he would have to give the book back to Luke.  He threw a tantrum as only a three year old can and ran to his room.  Long story short, Parker hid Luke's book!  There was a lot of frantic searching, but we finally found it in his room...buried under a bunch of trains in his toy box.  Coincidence?  I don't think so.

However, something very interesting happened while we have had this book.  Luke has been reading to Parker in the car on the way home.  He got stuck on the phrase "branch line" and evidently pointed as spelled them for me.  Last night, before the Thomas book theft, Parker was "reading" to me, and when he came to the words branch line, pointed to them and asked what they were...just like Luke!  I thought it was so sweet, because obviously Parker cannot read, but he was trying to be just like his big brother.

Shh, don't tell, but I'll be very happy when he takes the test tomorrow and we have something new to read!  Thomas has caused too much stress around here!

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I Like Fall Because...

I guess it's pretty evident from the last few posts that we have been learning quite a bit about fall lately.  On Friday, we brainstormed and planned a paragraph using the four-square model.  The sentences explained how we knew it was the season of autumn.  I'll be posting more about our writing tomorrow.
Today during science time, I had the students write the phrase, "I like fall because..." at the top of a piece of drawing paper.  Then they drew a picture showing why they like autumn.

Here are a couple of my favorites:

This student drew herself playing in a pile of leaves, a jack-o-lantern, and leaves falling from a tree.

This student loves fall because it is football season!!

Honestly, both of these pictures show what I love about fall, too.

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Science Station: Fall (Plus Freebies!)

This week in my classroom, we are studying seasons.  Needless to say, we are concentrating on fall. 

Here is a picture of the Science Work Station:

In the station, they have a selection of fall books to enjoy.  In the baggie, there is an autumn themed memory game for the partners to play.  I will be adding deciduous leaves and paper for the kiddos to do leaf rubbings.  It was pouring rain this morning, so I couldn't add that element today.

Here is your first freebie, the Autumn themed memory game:

CLICK HERE to get your freebie!
Awesome fall graphics are courtesy of D. J. Inkers.

In the writing station, one of the choices of paper that the kids have is an autumn themed stationary.  Here is your second freebie:

CLICK HERE for your freebie!
Graphics courtesy of D.J. Inkers.

Enjoy bloggy friends!

Happy Monday!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Hello? Plus a Freebie


Is anyone still out there, I'm sheepishly wondering?

It's been awhile since I have last posted, or even had the chance to peruse my favorite blogs. 

This year hasn't gotten off to the smoothest start.  Besides the new evaluation system that I mentioned several posts ago, we have brand new language arts and social studies series.  Since this is also the second year using our math series, I am having to spend a lot of extra time figuring out what I am doing!

I am starting to get into my groove, so I am going to really try to post much more often!

Thanks to those of you who stopped by.  As a thanks, I have an ABC order activity for you.  I am using this in my ABC Word Study Station.  I laminated each piece and put magnet tape on the back.  Enjoy!

CLICK HERE to get your own FREE copy!

The font and graphics are courtesy of D.J. Inkers.

Happy Sunday!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Verbs: They're What We Do!

We are going to be working on verbs this week.  Action words.  What we do.

Can we pause for a minute?  Why do some language arts programs call nouns "naming words" and verbs "action words"?  Exclusively?  Shouldn't we be teaching the children the "real" names for the parts of speech?  I can understand using the terms interchangeably so they are exposed to both.  But ONLY calling verbs action words?  I can imagine that there will be some upper level teachers who will be pretty mad at me, but I digress.

I have created a charades-like game for verbs.  The children pick a card and then act out the words on the card...without talking.  This should be interesting! 

I have twenty-four verb cards.  I will NOT do them all in one day.  I will do four or five a day as part of our grammar study.  This file also contains a culminating activity where the students have verbs in a word box and they have to match them with action pictures.  They will also choose one of the verbs in the word box and use it to write a sentence.

If this is something that you might be interested in, CLICK HERE to go to my TPT store.

But, I have something up my sleeve for a few of you.  Because it is Sunday, and sometimes we just need something special to get our week started, the first three friends who leave a comment will get this verb pack for FREE!  Just please leave me your e-mail!

Happy Sunday!

Monday, September 3, 2012


We have made it through the thirteenth day of school.  That is a good reason to celebrate!  Here are a couple of things I am REALLY happy about.

 We are starting to get more into the routines of first grade life, which makes the school day so much smoother.

I've started Daily Five and it is going strong.  The kiddos are up to reading five minutes silently and they moan and groan when it's time to stop.  What teacher wouldn't like that?!

My Monarch caterpillar is still crunching and munching.  It is a running joke in our pod that I can't keep a caterpillar alive.  Every year something happens.  I am pleased to announce that our little guy is nice and healthy.

College football has started again!  YIPPEE!

I have worked on decorating my house for fall...please don't judge.  I just couldn't wait another day!

Finally, I have created and finished some Owl Themed Work Station posters.  CLICK HERE if you would like to check them out!

I know it is early into the school year, but what celebrations do you have?

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Teacher Evaluations Part 2

We had another evaluation meeting today.  This time, we discussed the computer program that we will use to store and keep track of all the pieces required during the evaluation process.

If I am understanding everything correctly (which, let's face it, I'm probably not) along with formal and informal evaluations, we are going to have to provide lots of examples and documentation to prove all of the teaching standards.  I think that being organized is going to be the key to getting through this complete evaluation process.

I am very thankful to all of you who commented on yesterday's post, giving me examples and encouragement.  It sounds like a lot of us are in this together.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Teacher Evaluations

This post is really a venting of my nervousness, fear and confusion of Virginia's new Teacher Performance Evaluation System. 

In the past, we have been evaluated by both formal and informal observations.  But that appears to be a thing of the past.  We now have a seventy page procedure manual that has to be followed.

There are two types of evaluations.  One is a rubric style that all teachers without tenure will have to complete.  Those teachers who have tenure will have to complete this type of evaluation once every three years. 

The other evaluation is an evident/not evident style. 

Both types of evaluations have the same seven standards:
     -Professional Knowledge
     -Instructional Planning
     -Instructional Delivery
     -Assessment of and for Student Learning
     -Learning Environment
     -Student Academic Progress

We are to collect data, create an online portfolio, a hard copy portfolio, and many other things to show performance indicators.

I know that this probably doesn't make much sense.  I'm still trying to figure it all out.  Tomorrow we have a meeting about the online program used to store a lot of our collected data.

If you haven't guessed, I was one of the ones chosen to complete the rubric style evaluation.  YIKES!

My question to all of you is what types of evaluations doyou have in your schools?  Are many states following a similar system with the changes in No Child Left Behind?  If you have been through something comparable, advice please!!!!!!!

Happy Tuesday and HELP!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Writing: You've Gotta Have a Plan

Our school has adopted using the four-square model of writing, from Kindergarten through fifth grade.  The thinking behind this is that each grade can build off the foundation of the prior year.

We have been talking about Monarch butterflies, which I figured would be a great springboard for creating a four square.

Before we began, I wanted to impress upon my firsties the importance of having a writing plan.  I brought in a set of blue prints that my husband had for a concrete job that he was pouring. 

Displaying the plans, I explained how Mr. Nunley needed these to know where and how much concrete he needed to pour.  That if he did not have the plans, what he did would not make much sense.

I then explained that when we write, we also need to have a plan so our words make sense.  Working together, we created a plan for writing about the topic "The Monarch caterpillar is an amazing animal."

The students stayed on topic and had great ideas for developing a cohesive paragraph using our four-square organizer.

If this is an idea that you are interested in but do not have a set of blueprints handy, most house plan websites have floor plans that you can print out and use for an example.

Happy Monday! 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

My Classroom: Owl Style (Part 2)

Today on the tour, I wanted to share with you where I am going to be displaying our writing.

These cute light bulbs are from Reagan's Ready For School Pennant pack from TPT.  I used the cute activities in this pack during the first few days of school, and my firsties looked forward to the new art/writing project each day.

You will notice throughout the tour of my new classroom design that I have many corny owl my Nunley Newsletter:  Read "Owl" About It!.  I know, I know.  I need an owl intervention.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

My Classroom: Owl Style (Part 1)

Back in the summer, I posted about wanting a change.  I wanted to completely rearrange my classroom.  Well, I did it.  The only thing that is the same is my small group/teacher area because that is the only place in the room where it works.

Here is a picture from my doorway:

The bottom left of the picture shows the back of two of the bookcases in my classroom library.  On the back of the white bookshelf I have my owl welcome sign:

I have moved my classroom library to the other side of my room.  Here is the end result:

My favorite part of the library is my Franklin and Llama, Llama plush:

Tune in tomorrow where I will show you another section of my classroom.


Today in math, I taught my children how to play Cara Carroll's Roll and Remove.  Using Debbie Diller's great idea of math mats, I divided my kids into partners after I had modeled the right way the game.  I was amazed at how well they played together!  There was no arguing, no whining, no off topic was awesome!

What are some of your favorite math games to play at the beginning of the year?

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, August 20, 2012

P.T. (Positive Thinking)

Wow...These last few weeks have just been a whirlwind of activity!  Our first day of school was last Wednesday.

Here is a picture of my big first grader.  Can you tell that he was nervous and didn't want to have his picture taken?

Today was our fourth day of school and he LOVES his teacher and first grade! 

My new firsties ROCK!  They are good listeners, not too chatty, and just an overall sweet group of kids.  I feel VERY blessed.

During the first week of school, I do a lot of talk about positive thinking.

I start by reading The Little Engine That Could.  We talk about how even though the little blue engine is very small and has never even been over the mountain, that she still tries and, most importantly, thinks that she can do it.

We then write three sentences together.  I usually blow their minds by telling them that I want them to remember these three sentences for the rest of their lives, not just first grade.

These are the sentences that we write:

I am a Super Kid!

I will use P.T. everyday.

I will keep on smiling.

Here are a couple of examples of their work:

I keep a small poster on my chalkboard to remind them to always use P.T.:

If a student ever starts to say "I can't...", all I have to do is point to this sign to remind them to at least try

If you have already gone back to school, I hope you have had a great first few days.  If you haven't started back yet, good luck!

Happy Monday!

Monday, August 6, 2012

First Day

I'm baack!  I'm sorry that I haven't posted for awhile, but we were camping and the wi-fi service was spotty.

I really appreciate all the responses to my question in the previous post.  I was surprised about how many of you were able to work in your rooms during the summer AND the fact that you had keys to the building!  We don't have keys.  If we want to work on a weekend, we have to check out a key and then return it as soon as possible.  I didn't realize another world existed!!

The main reason that I asked the question was because of this:

This is what I walked into today.  And this is only part of the mess.  There were several skyscrapers of furniture off to the left.

Today was an "optional" workday.  If we didn't work today, we have to work on Election Day.

I got quite a bit accomplished today, but I was too embarrassed of the HUMONGOUS mess that always seems to occur when I am setting up my classroom.  I promise I will be back later in the week with more pictures.

When do you have your first teacher workday?

Happy Monday!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Today I am going to meet my mom and sister to wedding dress shop!  While I'm gone, I have a question for you...

How many of you are able to work in your classrooms during the summer?  In the past we haven't been able to get into ours until around the first week in August.  If you are allowed in your classrooms, do you go throughout the summer, wait until it's time to go back?

Just something I've been pondering...

I'm looking forward to reading what you have to say!

Happy Tuesday!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Must Read Picture Books

I'm linking up with Lindsay, The Teacher Wife, to share some of my favorite picture books. 

It was really hard to narrow it down, but here they are.

The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree is one of my all time favorites.  Warning:  You'll need tissues!

I always read this book during the first week of school.  It teaches how what seems like a mistake can actually become something wonderful.

I adore The Jolly Postman.  The postman goes to different fairy tale characters' homes and delivers different kinds of mail.  This is an excellent book to have in your writer's workshop library.

Such a fun book to use during my money unit. 

Molasses Man is a very special book to me.  The author actually called my dad to get information about how to make sorghum.  Some of you know that I was raised on a dairy farm, but my dad also raises a few acres of sorghum each year.  The author even thanks my dad in book.  Every year my kiddos think this book is pretty awesome because of my personal connection to it.

Please head on over to The Teacher Wife and link up!  I've already gotten so many ideas for new books!

Happy Tuesday!!

Sunday, July 15, 2012


Vicky at Traditions, Laughter, and Happily Ever After is having a very neat linky party!
It is all about what we have done during summer vacation.

First of all, I have had a lot of fun just playing with my boys.  They are six and three and have had some important milestones these past few weeks.

As I have mentioned before, my youngest is finally potty trained!!  Yay Parker!

My oldest learned how to ride a bike without training wheels...YESTERDAY!!

My family and I love to camp.  A couple years ago, my husband was in a really bad accident.  He was under one of his work trucks, trying to fix something when it started to roll.  The truck drug (dragged?) him for about thirty feet and he was pinned underneath the tires of his dually when the it finally stopped.  After he recovered, we made the decision that it is important that we spend as much time together as a family because you never know what the future might hold.  With that in mind, we bought a camper.

We love camping and try to get away as much as possible to enjoy special family time. 

Here is a picture of Luke yesterday after our first ever family bike ride:

I know it is a little hard to see, but the rain was pouring and I didn't want to get the camera wet!!

More good family news.  My sister got!!  This has just been an exciting summer!

Head on over to Traditions, Laughter, and Happily Ever After to link up!  I look forward to reading about your adventures!

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Owl Heaven

I love Kirkland's.  I found some really cute things for my classroom today. 

Now, we know that I have recently become obsessed with owls.  I'm not sure when or why, but I have.  Look how cute:

I am going to put this rug at my classroom door.  It is that rubbery material so not only is it cute, it should hold up really well. 

I also found this:

The picture does not do it justice, it looks adorable in person.  It is even cuter when it is lit.'s a little night light!  I say little, but it is actually about eight inches tall.  I thought that this would be really neat in the classroom library.

I also found this lamp.  I know it is not in the owl "theme" but I just thought it was pretty.

The best part of my shopping experience is that EVERYTHING was on sale!  Woo Hoo!!  Get it...Hoo?  With that, I better sign off before my jokes deteriorate even further.

Oh, and I apologize for using the word "cute" WAY too much.  I've even annoyed myself!

Happy Saturday!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Wonderful Walmart...Updated

I am linking up with Kimberly over at The Learning Tree.  She is having a great linky party all about frugal finds.  Head on over and check it out!

Normally, Walmart drives me crazy.  It seems as though there are 14 thousand people shopping at any given time.  However, my family and I are camping and I realized on the way down that I forgot all of my capris and shorts....wink, case my husband is reading this.  So I HAD to go and get some more. 

While at Walmart, I went to the school aisle.  It doesn't matter what time of year, I love the school supplies aisles.  I found binders for Cara Carroll's Calendar Companion.  I like to have all of the math binders the same color because I can easily tell if everyone has out what they need.  I found 1 inch economy binders in blue for $.92!!

I decided to get hard cover binders this year, because I am going to use this idea that I got from The Inspired Apple:

We are going to do Calendar Math during whole group on the carpet.  Last year I used my document camera.  But I like this idea better.

I also found some great folders on my Walmart trip.  They are poly folders with brad fasteners that I am going to use for morning work ($.50!!).  I bought the awesome math and language arts reviews from Reagan Tunstall.  I will copy a math and language arts back to back and that will be the morning work each day. 

What is your go to place for school supplies?

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Book Boxes

I started Daily Five in January, and LOVED it.  However, I did not love the book boxes that I bought for my kiddos.  They took up a lot of space and they tended to tip over.  They served their purpose for last year, but I knew that I was going to want something different.  Here is an example of my old book boxes:

I REALLY wanted plastic magazine boxes this year but they are SO expensive.  After some searching, I discovered these:

I got these heavy duty, colorful cardboard magazine boxes from Classroom Direct.  They come six to a pack and did I mention they are colorful?  These boxes are much more in line with what I wanted because not only will they be able to keep their books in them, but also their writer's notebooks!

Do you use book boxes in your classroom?  What type of container do you use?

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Wedding Bells

Not mine.  Those rang several years ago.  These were for my cousin, Todd and his wife Leigh Ann. 

The wedding was this past weekend and beautiful...but busy.

My sister is a floral designer at the Inn at Little Washington, so it was natural that she was asked to create the wedding flowers.  I went home (I live four hours from the majority of my family) to help.  Not only did we do the flowers, but my parents, sister and I catered the rehearsal was so much fun!

Does anyone want to discuss how my YOUNGER sister is a good six inches taller?  How I am the shortest person in my family?  Oh well.

Now, I need a nap to recover from the many late nights and early mornings!

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


This morning I woke up feeling nervous and it took me a minute to figure out why.  Oh yes, it all came rushing back.  Spray in 3, 2, 1.  Will I be able to leave the house or not?  I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and walked into the bathroom.  (By the way, I don't recommend closing your eyes and walking when you just wake did not work out well.  Hello doorjamb!).

I counted to three and opened my eyes.

I am a normal tan color!!  What a huge relief!

To celebrate not being an orange zebra AND America's birthday:

CLICK HERE to head over to my TPT store!
Sometimes I stop and think about the courage our forefathers possessed to declare Independence and then to actually gain it.  My two favorite presidents, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, had amazing foresight in creating the foundation on which our country is built.

Happy Fourth of July!