Adventures in First Grade

Monday, April 30, 2012

Tail Waggin' Tutors


Man's best friend. 

It's hard for many people to resist a cute, fluffy dog, especially children.  The people behind the Tail Waggin' Tutors were really onto something when they developed this program.  These are special friends that are trained as therapy dogs.  They come into schools and the children get a chance to read to the dogs.  When we got the news that these canines were coming to first grade, we were thrilled!

You could feel the excitement and anticipation all through our rooms, because today was THE day.   The dogs were coming!  I have to say, that my kiddos were really good while the dogs were in the room.  I was afraid that craziness would reign, but we talked about how they needed to speak quietly so they wouldn't startle them, that they needed to stay in their seats until it was their group's turn, etc. 

I thankfully remembered to snap a few pictures:

This little dog's name is Simon.  Simon's owner told me that they often visit hospitals, and being a Corgi, he sits on a chair so the patients can interact with him.  He made himself right at home in my rocking chair...isn't he cute?!

Here is another group:

This is Max.  He was such a sweetie!  He would look at each child as he or she read.

I couldn't get over how well-behaved the dogs were.  They didn't bark, whine, jump or any of the things MY dogs would have done:

This is the famous Iron Man.  He has been known to knock people over when wagging HIS tail. 

This is Tucker.  He likes to bark...a LOT.  Evidently, he did not feel like having his picture taken!

Do your schools have a neat way to encourage reading?  I would love to hear about it!

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The 100th Post

This is my 100th post.  I know that it should be packed full of units or pictures of my classroom.  Umm, no, not exactly.   It seems like it wouldn't have anything to do with school, but I think that I can show you that it is important to teachers everywhere.


Are you sure?

Okay, okay.

Have you seen these?

They are DELISH!  At about 2:00 when I feel like I can't make it through Social Studies/Science, I get a couple of these and am good to go.

I know that this is a stretch for an education blog, but at this time of year, anything to get through, right?

Have you tried these?  What is your go-to snack?

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


I think that I am having a panic attack!  I don't know where I have been, but I just realized that we have twenty-two more days until we are OUT for SUMMER, and I have a LOT to finish in that short amount of time.

Last week was very busy!  We started our Fairy Tale unit, which the kids adored.  We also had our big Relay for Life Sock Hop on Friday evening.  It was very successful and we raised over $4,200.00! 

I hope to be back with some pictures soon.

I've got to go map out the last few weeks of school so I can breathe again.

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Teacher Mommy

I was always excited that my son would be attending the same school where I taught.  He is in Kindergarten this year and it's been awesome!  I have gotten to see Luke the student instead of just Luke the son.

Today, however.  Today was different.  Luke's teacher has been ill and was out last week and she will be out all this week.  This morning, Luke didn't want to go to his class.  He wanted to stay with me in mine.  Tears were streaming down his face as he begged me to let him stay. 

Let me tell you, this Mommy's heart broke. 

I knew, though, that I could not let him stay with me or it would just become a habit.  With the assistance of another Kindergarten teacher and our principal, they were able to coax him into the classroom while I slipped back to my room. 

Lunch.  First grade has lunch right before Kindergarten.  We spend about 10 - 15 minutes in the cafeteria together.  Luke cried the whole time.  I couldn't make eye contact with him for fear it would make him worse.

This has been the only day that I have wished we were at different schools.  It was so hard knowing that he was so upset.  He likes his substitute, but he is a lot like me and does not like change.

Here is a picture of both of my happy boys yesterday evening after my youngest son Parker's third birthday party: 

Who isn't happy playing in bubbles?

Switching gears, this afternoon our IT had a technology session about blogging.  She has several a year and it helps us fill up our 20 extra work day form, and stay updated with technology.  I just thought you would like to know, that she highlighted many of your blogs!  There was a lot of oohing and ahhing!

I'm hoping that tomorrow is a less stressful day!

Happy Monday!

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Nunley Store

Several years ago, a fellow teacher introduced me to Beth Newingham's Classroom Economy.  I LOVE this system, but when I moved to first grade, I had to tweak it a little bit. 

First the banks themselves.  In third grade I did use the tally sheet, but I knew that I needed something different for my firsties.  I tossed about a few different options, but I finally settled on the small plastic containers like this:

To make it more "bank" like, I used an X-acto knife to cut a slot out of the lid:

Students can earn money in lots of different ways:  working quietly, when I notice something great they have been doing (Thanks, Heather from Heather's Heart!), putting their name on their paper, being kind to a friend, if they receive a compliment from another teacher, etc.  However, they can also LOSE money.  Unkindness, falling out of chairs excessively, "pop ups", tattles, interrupting, etc.

Every other Friday, The Nunley Store is open for business.  On the Thursday before a shopping day, the students get to count their money.  We then sort the coins and start with the pennies by making stacks of five.  They have to tell me what coin equals five pennies and they trade for the nickel.  Then we will do nickels stacked in twos.  We work our way up to seeing if they have enough money to trade their coins in for a dollar bill.

I don't know if you can see in this picture or not, but this kiddo was able to trade 100 cents for a dollar bill and even had thirty-five cents left over!

Typically, I just pass out pennies, but sometimes I'll give out more, depending on the situation.  For example, every day right before dismissal, we do Secret Piece of Trash.  Whoever picks up the bit of paper that I decided was the Secret Piece gets a quarter.  Let me tell you...they have gotten REALLY good at picking up their messes!

Today was one of our shopping days.  This is what my store looks like:

I set it up on my guided reading table.  During our morning work and Read to Self times, I will call two students at a time to come shop.  Here are some things in my store:

In this picture:  small purses, Boggle, pencils, retractable erasers, mini rulers, another game, and a coin purse - all of the others had already been purchased.

This picture shows:  mini puzzles, glow-in-the-dark bugs, bracelets, rings, cars, and card games.

In this picture:  books, a different style of pencil, bookmarks, erasers, Play-Doh.

A lot of the items in my store I bought from SmileMakers or Oriental Trading.  The books are some of those freebies that will come in a Scholastic order.  The Play-doh was an amazing deal.  It was in the 75% off aisle after Halloween because they are "Halloween" colors!   I also love Target's dollar spot for some of the big ticket items!

I love using the classroom economy model.  Not only are they learning their coins and how to count money, but about economic choice, opportunity cost, saving and spending.

Wow!  I have really rambled on!

Happy Friday Everyone!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

That Was Quick and a *Freebie*

Huh.  Three school days go by REALLY fast.  Today was our first day least it is a short week!

It appears that I am "it" in a fun little game of bloggy tag.  I will be answering some questions from Kristi and Crystal over at Teaching Little Miracles.  If you haven't checked out their blog, you really need to hop on over.

Okay.  The first thing that I am supposed to do is post the rules:

1.  Post the rules.
2.  Answer the ten questions posted for you.
3.  Create ten questions that you want to ask people that you will be tagging.
4.  Tag ten people and don't forget to let them know that you tagged them.

Here are the questions that I am to answer.

1.  How long have you taught?
9 years

2.  What state do you teach in?

3.  What are your contract hours at school?
8:05 - 3:35

4.  Lunch - Duty? or Duty free?

5.  What reading series do you use?
We have a basal series, but to be honest, I use Reading A to Z and other forms of literature.

6.  What math series do you use?
enVision...this is our first year using it, and the jury is still out on what I think about it.

7.  What is your favorite hobby?
My favorite thing to do for myself is to read!  It is my "me" time!

8.  What is the last movie you watched?
Umm....hmmm....well.....boy I'm boring!  My youngest is two, so trips to the movies are a no-no - unless of course we want to be asked never to return! 

9.  What is your favorite season and why?
I love all of the seasons.  I guess my favorite season is spring (probably because that is the season we are in!).  I really love working in my garden and the feeling of warmth in the air.

10.  What is your favorite game to play with your students?
When I taught third grade, I would love to play Quiddler with them.  I had forgotten about it...I need to pull it out and play it with my firsties.

As I was looking around to see who I could tag, I notice that everyone has been tagged!  So I hope that I am not breaking any rules for not passing on some questions!

As a reward for reading and learning how boring I am, I have a freebie for you!

I have noticed that my kiddos need a firmer grasp of their addition facts.  As a whole group, we will discover all of the addition sentences that will have a sum of ten.  Then in their groups, they will choose a number 11 - 20 and work to figure out all of the addition sentences that equal the number that they chose.

CLICK HERE if this is something you are interested in!

Happy Wednesday!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Storm Before the Calm

I know, I know...the saying is the calm before the storm, but in the case of today my title works.

Today is the last school day before spring break.  Now don't get overly excited.  I know a lot of you have had a week or even two.  Not us.  Nope.  We get tomorrow and next Monday and Tuesday.  That's IT.  But, usually we just get Good Friday so I am actually excited about three days.

Since my family and I will be heading out of town this afternoon, I want to give you a line up of the swirling storm before me:

1.  Easter "breakfast"
2.  Mega Party (Inflatables party - reward for a schoolwide fundraiser.  Think bouncy houses, etc.  Oh did I mention it's raining so it will be in the gym?!)
3.  Regular day before holiday craziness.

My title makes sense now...right?

Have a wonderful Easter weekend!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


I have finally figured out how to jump on the Currently band wagon.  These are so fun!

Happy Wednesday (Spring Break Countdown:  1 day!!)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Ideas Like Lightning

You know how sometimes a lesson will just come to you like a bolt of lightning?  That happened to me today.

We read the story The Easter Egg by Jan Brett.

The bunnies in the story are all trying to decorate the best egg so they can help the Easter Rabbit hide eggs on Easter morning.

After the story, I had my kids decorate their own egg (on paper). 

We have been talking about adjectives, so I had them right three sentences that would be clues as to what their egg looked like.  I hung their eggs on the SMARTBoard and each kiddo read his/her sentences and the other students tried to guess which egg they decorated.

We had already heard some clues and guessed a few pictures before I remembered to grab my camera!

They really enjoyed this project and were into writing their clues!

They liked it so much that I want to work this same idea into a different project.  Any ideas?

Happy Tuesday (Spring Break Countdown:  2 days!) 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Agriculture in the Classroom

I have been lucky enough to attend several Virginia Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom workshops.  I would assume that other states have similar programs.  The speakers always share neat activities, and free books are given away.  I am not sure if there are as many freebies anymore, though, because of budget issues. 

I bring this up because I wanted to share with you some of these books that are awesome to use during a plant unit.

The first book that I would like to introduce you to is Why the Brown Bean was Blue:  The Story of a Soybean Frown Turned Upside Down by Susan M. Pankey.  It talks about the many things that are made from the soybean.

Another good story is Bread Comes to Life:  A Garden of Wheat and a Loaf to Eat by George Levenson.

This book takes the reader from the wheat field to a kitchen where bread is handmade.

The third book is From Plant to Blue Jeans by Arthur John L'Hommedieu.

This book is fantastic because it shows children how some of the clothes that they wear start as plants!  It takes them from the field, to the processing plants, to stores.

George Washington Carver is one of our first grade S.O.L.s, so I always talk about him during my plant unit.  An excellent book that I use is called A Weed is a Flower:  The Life of George Washington Carver by Aliki.

This is a great book that talks about Carver's life and love of plants.

What interesting books do you use with your plant unit?

Happy Monday (Countdown to Spring Break....3 days)!!