First Grade Magic

Adventures in First Grade

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

FREE Books?! Yes, Please!

Can I get a show of hands for all those out there who like FREE?  Me too!

I have discovered a great way to earn points to get Amazon or Paypal giftcards.  By doing this, I have earned over $120.  A little more than half of that I used around Christmas time for gifts.  But I have used about $50 to buy books for my classroom from Amazon.

I can hear you asking, what is this amazing thing you have discovered?  What is the catch?  Do I have to promise my firstborn in return?  The answer is...surveys.  You can earn cash in three simple steps.  Click HERE and sign up.  Take surveys.  Earn points that you can then exchange for Amazon or Paypal cards! 

I don't blame you for thinking, could this be as good as she is making it sound?  I know that I did at first.  Around Thanksgiving I was on Pinterest, hunting around for some easy ways to make a little extra money before Christmas.  I came across a pin about taking surveys, and thought, why not? Once I earned my first 1000 points, I could exchange them for a gift card.  This was the real test.  Would I really get a code for an e-card, or did I just get scammed?  To my astonishment, in my inbox, an e-mail with a redeeming code appeared.  Again, I remember thinking, okay, but will it work when I go to use it.  Um, yes.  Yes it did!

And that is how my classroom world has changed.

I have a pretty large classroom library.  My mom was a teacher and I "inherited" all of her goods when she retired.  However, I was lacking in guided reading sets.  Over the past month or so, I have gotten (FOR FREE) these books to add to my guided reading arsenal:

5 Copies

4 Copies

4 Copies

4 Copies

4 Copies

So.  What do you think?  Are you going to give it a shot? 

Aside from Scholastic, does anyone have any other tips on how to get free or super cheap books?  I'd love to hear your tricks!

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

WHERE have you been?

I know, I know.  I've been missing.  For a long time.  Almost two years.  Where have I been?

To begin, we put our house on the market almost three years ago.  After about a year, we finally sold it!  We then bought a 37 acre farm that was under foreclosure.  It had been abandoned for several years.  To put it simply, it was a MESS...which might just be the understatement of the century.

Here are some before pictures that we took on the day that we closed.  Outside:


Detached Garage


Horse Stables:  we turned this into a shop for my husband.  It is one of the reasons we bought the property.

Inside the house:

View from living room into dining

View from dining into living


As you can see, there was just a little bit of wood paneling in the house.  Just a bit.

We closed in May.  For the next THREE MONTHS, we lived in our camper as we gutted the house.  I mean, we took it back to the studs. Thankfully, my husband is a contractor and we were able to do most of the work ourselves.  When I say "we," of course I mean "he." 

Here are some outside after pictures:

The garage with new roof and shutters

Barn with the beautiful barn quilt that my sister painted for me
 Here are some after pictures of the inside:

View from dining into living.  You an see that we took down the wall  between the kitchen and living room.

The new and improved kitchen.  I love the concrete counters that my husband created.

Of course, we have SO much more to do.  We keep telling ourselves that the farm was abandoned for years, so we won't be able to have it in pristine condition quickly.  It is definitely a work in progress!

Now you know where I have been for a huge part of the time when I was missing.  I'll be back soon to add to the story!

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

I'm Baa-aack!

Well.  Hello.  Long time no post.

I was looking through my old blog posts for the first time in a few years, and couldn't believe all of the memories that I had forgotten.  That walk down memory lane inspired me to begin my blogging journey again.

I'm going to ease back in slowly, by sharing my February Currently.

Stay tuned, because I will be back with a lot of updates from my almost two year hiatus:  almost changed grades, moved classrooms, philosophy changes, guided math, guided reading, the list just goes on and on.

Happy Saturday!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Thank You and Classroom Pics

I am shocked at the fact the last few weeks have sped by so quickly! 

To begin, I want to say a HUGE thank you to Mai Huynh, my first day of school blogger exchange friend!  Look at the sweet goodies that she sent:

I have already used one of the cards to write a note to my son's teacher thanking her for a great first day.  I am using a new color pen each day.  The colors make me so happy!

Please head over to Mai's blog, Diary of a Grumpy Teacher.  It is great!

If you have read any of my posts from earlier this summer, you may know that I decided to change my color scheme.  Here are some pictures showing the end results.

First view from my door.  Thank you Pinterest!

My whole group area and son!

Math Focus Boards

Writing Station and Word Wall.  Again, thank you Pinterest!!
Another Writing Station View
Author Spotlight in the Classroom Library
My Organizational Board
Classroom Rules

I hope that you have enjoyed this little mini tour.  Stay tuned for pictures from the first day of school.

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Great Crayon Project

Today, I heard those two dreaded words come out of my seven-year-old's mouth:  "I'm bored." 


Well, I just hopped over to my pinterest boards and found some things for us to do.  We did a couple of experiments.  The first one was the standard baking soda and vinegar.  Both boys thought that was pretty neat.

Next, we did an experiment using white vinegar and pennies.  It's supposed to turn them green after a few hours/days. Here's a pic:

Lastly we did what I am calling the Great Crayon Project.

You start by getting crayons, you know the odds and end broken pieces that you have laying around.  Peel the paper off each one.

Next step:  Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.  Cut a piece of cardboard to fit in the cookie sheet.  Arrange the crayons on the cardboard.

Here is Luke's:

 Here's mine:

After you have arranged the crayons, put the cookie sheets in the oven at 250 degrees for about ten minutes.  When the time is up use a craft stick and swirl around the melted wax.

The final product:

Luke's Crayon Creation

My Crayon Creation

Once the wax has cooled, I am going to cut away the excess cardboard so our art can be displayed.

What are some fun projects that you have created this summer?

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Book Boxes....Round 3

 When I first started Daily Five and using book boxes, I used these that I got from Walmart.

They worked okay, but they really weren't that sturdy.

So, last year, I ordered these to use as my book boxes.

I bought them from Classroom Direct.  I really liked them and thought that they would be durable.  Little did I know that I would have a class that was quite rough on our supplies.  Let's just say I had several students who did not realize their own strength.

I knew that I was going to have to do something different this year.  Earlier this summer, I saw this from Really Good Stuff:

I was/am in LOVE.  It is $169 and it's not just the frame....the plastic bins come with it!  With their EZ pay option, I could convince myself that I wasn't spending as much money (stupid, I know).

After being back ordered for little over a month, it FINALLY arrived.  It took me less than a half an hour to put it together!

It also came with labels and plastic covers:

The boxes come in a variety of color choices.  Click HERE if you would like to go to check it out for yourself!

Happy Monday!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Ten Pin Linky: Writing

Boy am I late to the party!  This week, Ashley is having her Ten Pin Linky with a writing theme.

In no particular order....

1.  I am in LOVE with this writing station.  In fact, I have already created my own version using my colors for this year.

2.  I really like the idea of students rating their own writing.  This is a great, kid-friendly rubric for them to begin to see what good writing should look like.

3.  The idea of using props as hooks is really helpful.  Here is one for sifting through ideas.
4.  Another prop for remembering to use great handwriting.  I actually had a silver platter last year...I got it for about 3.00 at Olde Time Pottery.

5.  The last prop is another that I have used and blogged about.  It is relating writing and building a house.  You have to have a plan.

6.  So many times when firsties are beginning to learn how to write, everything is connected by the dreaded "and."  This pin should help that...problem.

7.  The next few pins are to make writing more fun.  Something to make it seem different then just using pencil and paper.


9.  Even in first grade, we can start teaching about using words other than he said, she said, I get the picture.

10.  The final pin, and believe me I could go on and on, is one that I am going to try to implement this year in my classroom.  The idea of writing goals.

If you would like to head over to Pinterest and see other ideas that I have, just click HERE.

Don't forget to link up with Just Reed!

Happy Saturday!