Monday, September 7, 2015

Phonics Books for the Classroom

 Every class is different and this year, I have a group of kids that LOVE reading, but many of them do not have books.  My team gives kids a reading log with their homework, so after I received a few notes from parents, I needed to come up with a solution.

I started thinking about how to solve this problem.  I LOVE Reading A to Z, but I use many of those books for my small groups, so I wanted to save those for my classroom.

I looked at several sites online, but many of the books were too hard, too short, or didn't have a rhyme or reason to them.  The more I looked, the more I felt like what I wanted didn't exist.  So, that's when I decided to start a new adventure and start writing my own books.

Since it's the beginning of first grade, I decided to start with short vowel mini books.  Each set of books has word lists at the beginning.  One of the lists has all of the short vowel words.  For example, if the book is a short a book, then all of the short a words that were used is listed.  The next word list has sight words.  Many of these words will be found on Fry lists, Dolch lists, etc.  This allows your students or child to not only practice a specific short vowel sound, but to also work on sight words.
After the word lists, there are five page stories.  These stories have black and white pictures so that your students can color the books or you can reuse them over and over.  On the back of the book, there are four questions about that book.  These are meant to be asked orally.  This page allows your parents to check comprehension.

For my own kids, I really wanted to come up with something that they could keep and that would allow them to practice the skills that we are practicing at school daily.  All of the books also have the grade equivalency, DRA levels, and Guided Reading levels.  I am aligning the books to our phonics skill of the week so that I can make sure that not only are my kids getting plenty of practice at school, but they are also getting practice at home.  I'm hoping this will help some of my students that may struggle a little with reading build their confidence and their reading fluency.  While my kids are using them with their homework, they would also be great to use with small groups.
Also, I know that time management really matters.  I tried to make sure that these books require very little work to assemble.  There are two versions - a classroom version and a homeschool version.  The classroom version is set up so that when you print the book, you immediately get two copies of that specific book.  The homeschool version is set up so that when you print, you get two copies of different books.  Once you've printed the books front and back all that's left is stapling and cutting them down the middle.
In case you still aren't sure this is what you need, here is a free book below.  Just click on the image to download it.  This was created out of a need I had, so I want you to have the opportunity to make sure this also fits your needs.

Hope you enjoy!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Teddy Graham Graphing

Last week, we read a story called "Jack and Rick".  It's a cute little story that is great for covering story elements.  Since the story was about a rabbit and a bear, I wanted to find a way to tie the characters into our Fun Friday.

Fun Friday is where my teammates and I take the last 30 minutes of Friday to do a fun activity with our students that have followed the rules all week.

For some reason, Teddy Grahams seemed like the perfect activity.  There are TONS, maybe not tons, but multiple types of Teddy Grahams.  I decided that this would allow us to do the perfect graphing activity.  What is better than having fun and teaching a skill at the same time?

I sent a note to parents and got an abundance of Teddy Grahams.  Honestly, the kids that forgot their snacks may be eating them until Christmas.  I think I have eight left over boxes.

So, on Friday afternoon, I passed out paper towels and gave each student some chocolate, chocolate chip, and honey Teddy Grahams.  After we ate the Teddy Grahams, everyone was given a sheet to vote for their favorite type.  I collected the votes and then gave each kid a graph.  We worked on the graph until the end of the day.

The kids LOVED the activity and overall it went well.  The one thing I forgot was I am working with beginning of the year first graders.  We don't work quite as fast as we do later in the year, so while we got one graph done, we ran out of time to do the tally graph and we didn't have time to answer the graphing questions.  Next time, I'd probably have the Teddy Grahams separated into baggies ahead of time to save some time.

Anyway, if you are needing a quick activity for graphing, feel free to grab my Teddy Graham graphing freebie.

Also, while you are here, don't forget to enter my GoNoodle Blogger Giveaway.  GoNoodle has graciously given bloggers across the country lots of swag to give to our fans.  To see all the bloggers participating click on the GoNoodle image.

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Have a restful Sunday!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

GoNoodle Blogger Blitz

It's hard to believe that I've been in school for a month.  While it still feels extremely hot outside, you can tell the weather is starting to change.  The leaves are changing colors, it's getting dark earlier, and football is starting.  The best part of fall is that I finally seem to have found a routine.

I am so excited to be part of the GoNoodle Back to School Blogger Blitz!  I have LOVED adding GoNoodle to my daily routine.  Honestly, when I first heard about GoNoodle I was a little skeptical.  I couldn't understand how there was going to be a site with better videos than I was already using, especially free videos.  It took me a year, but rainy day after rainy day convinced me that it might be a good idea to give GoNoodle a shot and I'm so glad I did.

Here's what I discovered.  GoNoodle tracks your minutes.  For me, that was an instant like.  In my district, we have to make up so many hours of physical education in our classroom.  GoNoodle made it easy for me to make sure that I met our district requirements.

GoNoodle has crazy, fun characters.  As an adult you might be thinking that isn't a big deal, but my six year old kids go wild watching the characters grow and morph into a bigger version of the character.  The characters have names like McPufferson, Flappy Tuckler, and Freckles Sinclair.  The best part is once the character maxes out, your class can pick a new character.

In my class, we use GoNoodle for indoor recess, brain breaks, rewards, etc.  My kids LOVE all the Zumba videos, plus a few of their other favorites are the Indoor Recess videos, Pop-See-Ko, Get Loose, and Roller Coaster.

Oh, and did I mention that you GoNoodle is FREE?

Now, that I've told you about GoNoodle, I have some exciting news.  First, GoNoodle has a discount code for their store right now.  Use BTSwithGoNoodle to get 15% off of everything.  Second, GoNoodle has given me 25 HEADBANDS to give away for them.  To enter, see the Rafflecopter below.
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Make sure you click the GoNoodle image below to go sign up.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Simplifying Homework

School has officially started and like most teachers, we have hit the ground running in my classroom. Knowing how much we work every day makes me hate giving my kids homework, but at the same time I know that little bit of extra time practicing with their parents can really help.

If you are a parent, I do get it.  Your kiddo gets home and now it's your turn to hit the ground running.  Your little guy or girl needs a quick snack, time to knock out homework, eat dinner, get to gymnastics, dance, baseball, football, or whatever activity is planned for that night, and then time to get home, get a bath, read a little, get ready for the next day - all between the hours of 3:30 and 8:00.  That's a lot to cover!
So, that leads me into simplifying homework.  My teammates and I always do the same homework and we try our best to make sure it doesn't take longer than fifteen to twenty minutes.  We also send home the homework for the whole week on Fridays or Mondays.  This way our parents can adjust it to fit their schedules.

Here's how we have made it work for us.

Each night, students are expected to read for ten minutes.  We include a reading log so that the kids can record what they have read.  Our students also practice their spelling words, their story of the week, and their Fry words throughout the week.  This may sound like a lot, but in my classroom I  allow a good bit of flexibility with my homework, so if my students are already doing well with spelling or their story, they may only practice it once.

My team also includes a reading comprehension sheet, a language arts sheet, and a math sheet.  For the last few years, we've been using my printables, but I've always thought that I would love to create a layout similar to the morning work our students do.  So many of our students don't have support at home, so I felt like if our students had something similar to what they do at school, then that would allow them to practice even if they were alone.  Not only will that hopefully build their independence and confidence, but it should help homework fall into the time frame we want.

Now, I'm sure some of you are going to look at my new homework packet and think, "Faith, a lot of it is repeated and it's easy."  It is definitely repeated and it does start off easy, but there is a reason.  It is our job to teach our kids new skills.  I wanted the first few weeks to be very easy so that teachers would have an opportunity to teach new skills.  I think it's very important for homework to be a review of what students already know.  Every three weeks, skills will slightly change and each nine weeks will get a little tougher.

Our students are going to have homework the rest of their lives.  If we want parents to support us and help us, then I feel like our students need to feel successful and not overwhelmed.

If you are still curious about my new homework packet, feel free to click the image below.  It will allow you to download the first week of homework so you can see the layout.  Right now, I have the first nine weeks done, but I am hoping to have the second nine weeks ready in the next few weeks and the remainder of the year done by Christmas.

Have a great week and let me know if you have any questions :)

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Wordless Wednesday - Fun Books to Read

I just got some new books for my classroom.  Outside of Mercy Watson, I've never heard of any of these books, but I loved the covers and the fact I could picture myself reading them to boys or girls.

What are some of your favorite books to read to your first grade class?

Monday, August 3, 2015

Back to School Bandana Gifts

For the first day of school, I always like to have a little treat for my kids.  Usually, I order little boxes from Oriental Trading, but this year I wanted to try something new.
I found a cute bandana idea on The Shopping Mama and had to make them for my classroom.

Below are the supplies you need and the steps for how I did my bandanas.  I also included several pictures so that you can see the final product.

 I'm also linking up with Monday Made It, so feel free to click the link below to go find other fun ideas.
Also, if you haven't hit up TPT yet for the sale, click the image below to go shop.  Don't forget to use the code when checking out.
Have a great Monday!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Back to School Sale

Are you ready to go back to school?  I'm not quite ready either and my first day back is TOMORROW!  I love my teammates and I love teaching, but I'm not an early morning girl, so I'm going to slightly miss my summer schedule or is it my non-schedule summer?

So, I have some awesome news for you that may get you closer to ready for summer.  TPT is throwing a sale on August 3 and 4.  That's Monday and Tuesday!
If you are like me, you may have a few gaps you want to fill in for the coming year.  Here are some of my favorite packets that are in my store and some of my favorites that I've bought from other sellers.  ALL of these are packets that I use in my classroom and a lot of them I use daily.

I've linked all of the packets, so it will be easier for you to grab them.

This is one of the packets I use in my own classroom every day.  When I created it, I made sure that it constantly reviews and repeats skills for language arts and math.  The bundle contains 360 pages.  If you aren't quite sure you want the bundle, you buy the individual 9 weeks packets.

Last year, my kids were struggling with their reading comprehension.  I decided to create passages that would be on their level with questions that were based off the passages.  The beginning passages use lots of short vowel words and Fry words while other sets were created to challenge your better readers.  While this is a bundle, you can also get each set individually.

My calendar math is not the same as the traditional calendar math.  It was created to work with Activboards and other interactive whiteboards.  It includes slides for each month and for many of the standards that are taught in first grade.  Personally, I love it because it frees up my bulletin board space in my classroom and my kids buy in more because first graders love using anything that is interactive.

I have multiple designs of this packet, so you can pick one that fits your personality.  This packet includes all the things that you need from forms, lesson plan templates, calendars, and labels.  It is also editable, so you can type on it if that's what you prefer.

This bundle includes printables for every season and many of the holidays.  All of the printables are based off of first grade standards, so they are perfect for assessments, practice, and homework.  If you aren't sure that you need a whole bundle, then feel free to start with getting one of my individual packets.  I included examples of some of my fall packets below.

This packet is by Fluttering through First Grade.  My whole team uses it, especially at the beginning of the year.  It is aligned to standards and it is perfect for helping your students develop listening skills.  Oh, and they have them in individual sets if you want to try just one packet.

This packet is by First Grade Blue Skies.  Jennifer started making these awesome freebies on her blog last year that I think ALL first grade teachers realized were just incredible.  Since they were such a hit, she developed an entire packet.  I bought it the second it was available.  These pair up perfectly with writing activities and are so much fun.  Even though the drawings are directed, you definitely see your kids' individual personalities.

This packet is by Hello Literacy.  It's a tiny little packet, but it is one of those things you will use every day when working with your reading groups.  I printed these on card stock and laminated them.  The colors are vibrant and they instantly grab your attention.

This packet is by The Moffatt Girls.  This is another packet that my whole team uses.  They are great for your beginning readers and are perfect for allowing your students to practice sight words in sentences.

I hope you find one or two packets out of these that you can use.
Have fun shopping!