Adventures in First Grade

Friday, February 24, 2012

Mrs. Nunley is Missing!

I haven't posted lately because I didn't want it to turn into a pity party.  The behavior in my classroom has not been very, um, how do I say this nicely?  Not good.  It hasn't been good at all. 

Well yesterday was the straw that broke this camel's back.  First of all, what should have been a ten minute writing workshop mini-lesson lasted for twenty-five because of many interruptions:  talking, moving around, getting in other people's desks, etc.  I know because I timed it.  Then, after one station rotation, this was brought to my attention:

If you'll look carefully, you will see that the "play" button is missing, the tape cover is crooked (it won't close), the cassette is cracked in half, and when you shake it, it makes beautiful music from all of the broken pieces rattling around inside.  It's not like this is an ancient CD/tape player.  It's been in my classroom for a month and a half.  A MONTH AND A HALF!!  Plus, it was brand new because I BOUGHT IT!

Last night I got home and decided that I had had it with what had become my circus of a classroom.  I bribed my husband to take my youngest to his mother's for me this morning so I could get to school early and fix a few things.

Ms. Viola Swamp was going to be joining us today.

The first thing that I did was completely rearrange my room.

It used to look something like this:

Now I have them broken up into four groups with shelves for the book boxes.  Here is an example:

I then put away anything "fun."  Puzzles, games, etc.  I wanted the change to be very noticable.

I also brought back something that I used to use, but had forgotten about it.  The Competition.  The competition is very simple.  The four groups work to earn points by using good manners, following our classroom and school rules, etc.  I keep a tally of the points earned during the week, and on Fridays the group with the highest points gets a small prize.  I keep track of the points in a notebook that I keep on the top shelf of a cabinet that I normally rarely go to during the day.  They have already learned that when I go to the cabinet to get the notebook a group is either earning points OR having points subtracted.

You could hear a pin drop in my room today.  They were much improved walking in the halls and were very well behaved in the lunch room.

It didn't hurt that I adopted some of Ms. Viola Swamp's character as well.

Hopefully, we will get ourselves back on the right track soon! 

Happy Friday!!

Monday, February 20, 2012

One Snow Day = Seuss-tastic Math Stations

The snow dance worked!!  We even found out yesterday!  The other snow days that we have had were called after I was already out of the shower, so I was able to get a little extra sleep today.

Along with snow cleaning (think spring cleaning) I was able to finish my Seuss-tastic Math Stations for TPT.

This unit includes:
     -Adding three numbers
     -Adding bigger numbers
     -Mystery Numbers (missing addends)
     -Telling time to the hour
     -Odd or Even?
     -Subtracting with bigger numbers

Here is a sampling of what the Seuss-tastic Math Stations includes:

You can CLICK HERE to head over to my TPT store to check it out.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Silly Seuss Syllables *Freebie*

As I am sitting here waiting with crossed fingers for the predicted snow to begin, I created a new Read the Room activity. 

This is one my kids' favorite station activities.  I love them because you can use a Read the Room to reinforce just about anything and they really have to THINK about what they are reading.

I used to teach my kiddos to clap to figure out the syllables in a word.  Then I stumbled upon a Deanna Jump idea:  roll out the syllables, as if you were rolling out dough with a rolling pin.  Not only do they use movement to help them learn, it's a lot quieter than a bunch of clapping!

I found the CUTEST Dr. Seuss inspired clip art from The 3AM Teacher.  Oh. My.  Goodness.  If you haven't stopped by to check out her blog, you should!  Not only does she have great ideas, but super cute clip art!

Students will read and sort the Dr. Seuss inspired words by one, two, and three syllables.

If you would like to grab a copy of this freebie, CLICK HERE!

Before I go, I wanted to share about an awesome unit that I won in a giveaway from  Laura over at Tattling to the Teacher.  It is an Eric Carle inspired unit and it is great!  CLICK HERE to check it out!  It has sequencing, text-to-text, compound word work and many other great activities.

I really need to go do my snow dance now. 

Happy Sunday!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Trilogy or The Post That Has Nothing To Do With Teaching

Many of you have asked what I have been reading that I can't put down.

It all started with The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons.

Oh. My. Gosh.  It is unbelievable.  The book is set in the Soviet Union during WWII.  Now, I know what you're thinking...How could THAT be good?  Trust's good.

The second book in the trilogy is called Tatiana and Alexander.

I won't say anything about this one because I don't want to give anything away.

The last book is The Summer Garden.

I'm about one-fourth of the way through this one.  They are all pretty long:  500-700 pages.   For me, they are they type of books that you want to keep reading to find out what happens, but at the same time, you don't want the story to ever end.

Thank you for the other reading suggestions!  I can't wait to check them out.  Needless to say, I've got to finish The Summer Garden first!

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tired....So Very, Very Tired

This will be a very short post because I am so tired from today that I can barely make my fingers type!  This could have something to do with the book that I am reading.  It is part of a trilogy and I CANNOT PUT IT DOWN!  I'll say to myself, I am going to read until 10:15.  When I look at the clock it is 11:30...or 12:00!!  I have got to finish so I can get some sleep!

My darlings were SO excited about EVERYTHING today!  I always remember what Halloween is like and the day before winter break, but somehow I always forget about the craziness that is Valentine's Day until we are in the middle of it.

What holiday do you think is the craziest in the classroom?

Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Valentine Heart Necklaces

A lot of you probably know that my mom was a teacher.   Many of the ideas that I use I have gotten from her.  The project that I am going to share with you is from her.  My birthday is in February and when I was little, one of my parties had a Valentine's Day theme.  I have a horrible memory, but this is one thing that I remember from that party.

Every year, I make my students heart necklaces.  I start with making a salt dough.  I got the recipe from Paula Deen. 

This is an awesome book.  The directions are so kid friendly.  Here is what the page for the salt dough recipe looks like:

Start by mixing together 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of salt, and 3/4 cup of water.  I also add red food coloring.  Your dough will look something like this:

Roll out your dough to no more than a 1/4 inch thick.  Use a heart cookie cutter to get your shape:

Once you have all of your hearts on a cookie sheet (or two) use an unsharpened pencil or a straw to make a hole at the top:

Bake at 250 degrees for about 2 hours. 

After they have cooled, paint each heart red.  This is where the food coloring in the dough will help you.  You don't have to use as many coats of paint.  I paint all of mine red and I just use stencil paint.

Once the hearts have dried, I use a white paint pen to write each student's name on a heart.  You can see the paint pen that I used in the picture:

Finally, use ribbon like what you would use on a balloon to turn the heart into a necklace:

My kiddos have always loved their necklaces...even the boys!

Switching gears and going totally off topic, on my Shelfari I am going to start sharing two books.  One will be a chapter book read aloud that I am using in my classroom.  The other will be the book that I am reading for ME.  If you have any good book suggestions for either the classroom or for me to read, I would be excited to learn about them!

Happy Sunday!

Friday, February 10, 2012

"The Table"

I feel like it has been forever since I last posted.  My sister was here visiting for a few days and we had a function at school last night.

The most unbelievable thing happened at lunch today.  One of my firsties came up to the teacher table and said, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to." 

I immediately glanced at my table to see if anyone was sobbing profusely.  I didn't see any tears, so I asked what he meant.  All he could say was, "The table."

Confused, I walked over to the lunch table, thinking that something seemed out of place, when it hit me.

Ordinarily the lunch tables in our cafeteria look something like this (except not as new):

This is similar to what met my eyes:

I tried pushing it back into place.  It wouldn't budge.  One of the other first grade teachers came to help me.  NOTHING.

At this point, I was beginning to worry that he had actually BROKEN the table!

I took my kids back to the classroom, had another teacher watch my class and took him to the office.  I explained to my principal and she looked justifiably horrified.  I then went on a custodian search.

We went into the cafeteria where a group of fourth graders were attempting to sit and eat at "The Table."  He closed the table and tried to set it back up again.  It looked a little like this:

Long story sort of short, my kiddo somehow was able to remove a pin in part of the table which caused it to not open properly.

So, I have a question for you.  What is the most random thing that has been broken in your classroom?

On a much less stressful note, I FINALLY finished my Valentine themed Math Station Packet.  In it you will find seven station activities:
     -Adorable Addition
     -Tweet Subtraction
     -Friendly Fact Families
     -Darling Doubles
     -Lovely Patterns
     -Perfect Place Value
     -Sweet Shape Sort

You can download the Sweet Shape Sort activity for free in the preview section.  CLICK HERE to check it out!


Sunday, February 5, 2012

What Do I Love? Linky Party

Happy Super Bowl Sunday!

As I have been watching the commercials I have been having fun working on the What Do I Love? linky party hosted by Kimberly over at Funky First Grade Fun. 

Head on over and link up to join the fun!

Happy Sunday!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Groundhog Day and A Super Hero Spelling FREEBIE

Ahh, Groundhog Day.  Who would have thought it could be so exciting?

We had a lot of fun making predictions, writing, and reading about groundhogs.

We started by reading this book:

It is funny and informational at the same time. 

We then made predictions using Jennifer's (over at First Grade Blue Skies) awesome, FREE TPT Groundhog Day Unit (CLICK HERE TO CHECK IT OUT).

After we predicted and researched the outcome, we wrote about what we discovered and used Jennifer's headband template as a groundhog peek over to put a neat finishing touch on our paragraphs:

Traci over at Dragonflies in First also has cute groundhog activities in her TPT store.  CLICK HERE to check them out.

I've been trying to think of a nifty transition from groundhogs to spelling, but I can't, so I'll just jump right in.

A few days ago, I posted about sneaky, silent letters.  My students are having fun finding silent letter words in their reading.  I was thinking about silent letter words and how my firsties really enjoy Read the Room activities.  I think they feel really grown up walking around with a clipboard!  So, I decided to create a Read the Room:  Sneaky Silent Letter version. 

I saw some really cute super hero clip art at The Digital Bake Shop (formerly Pixel Papers), and the idea of Spelling Super Heroes was born. 

This Read the Room has eighteen words that are categorized into silent gh, e, and w.  There is a response sheet included.  Did I mention that it is a freebie?  If you would like to check it out, CLICK HERE!

Before I finish up here, I have to tell a cute story on my son.  He is in kindergarten and of course they did all kinds of groundhog day activities.  We were pulling in the driveway after school and he asked, "Where are all the groundhogs?  It is their day!"

I guess he expected to see a lot of groundhogs today.  We do have one that lives in the backyard near our garden, but he did not make an appearance.

I know this was a long post...thanks for making it to the end!

Happy Almost Friday!!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Love Is In The Air

Well, SOMETHING is in the air. 

I was on the phone with my sister, and she was asking me about my day.  I replied that my peeps were acting like there was a forecast of five feet of snow, a full moon AND this was all occurring on Friday the 13th. 

It's little things like, forgetting how to rotate through stations.  Or lunchroom behavior.  Or voice level.  Or raising our hands.  Or taking another child's bookmark because little Johnny thought it was cute and decided he wanted to have it (really?!)...You get the picture.

But, back to love.  I wanted to share my writing station's February transformation:

I also created a February themed word "wall" with pictures.

If you are interested in the word wall, you can CLICK HERE to go to my TPT store to check it out.

Thank goodness it's Wednesday!