Monday, April 29, 2013

Picture This Writing

I have decided that I should have been an owl.  The later it gets the better I focus and the more work I get done.  I hit my stride at 7:30 pm.  Here's the only problem with that - I get up at 5:30 am and my mind doesn't slow down until midnight.  Sad, I know.
Anyway, this will be a quick post.  I am going to do my best to be a better blogger this week.  We will see how that goes.  I definitely seem to be getting more accomplished now that the craft room is functional and I've started listening to old Friday Night Lights episodes.  By the way, LOVING my bajillion mason jars full of markers.  They came in quite handy tonight.  Plus, I love the fact I can work at the laptop, send something to the printer, grab the paper, scissors, and markers, and go to town.  

Speaking of paper, scissors, and markers, I have a new writing packet to share.  It's called my Picture This Writing packet.  It was created to give kids the chance to share their favorite places to visit.  I've discovered that my kids do SOOO much better with their writing when they have a little craft included with it.  Below are pictures.  I also made three different types of writing paper so it's easier to differentiate.  If you have any questions, shoot me an email and if you like the packet, click on it.  It will take you straight to my TPT store.  

Have a great day tomorrow!  Hopefully, I'll be back with a quick Mother's Day freebie tomorrow.  

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Craft Room and May Book Reports

Wow!  I feel like I haven't posted in forever.  If you are a teacher, I'm sure you understand.  This time of year activities seem to take on a life of their own.  Between testing, church, Relay for Life, and teaching the last few weeks have been crazy!

Oh, I almost forgot, I also worked on creating my craft room.  If you don't have one, I have to tell you, it is one of the best things I've ever done.  We spent last weekend cleaning out the room, painting, buying the things I've been wanting for it, and putting together my desk.  Next on the list is a rug and a couch for my summer naps for my hubby.  Here are a few pictures of the room.  It's definitely not finished, but it is in a good place.  If you have any questions, ask away.  

Okay, in other news, I know no one has requested them yet, but I have the May Book Reports ready.  I have six of them this time and since my kids have grown (I'm sure yours have, too), I created two different versions this time.  The first version is the same as what I've been doing.  The second version has the students writing four sentences to tell about the story.  If you want it, click on any of the pictures below and grab it.  

Last of all, I now have a Facebook Fan page :)  I am sure it's going to take me a little while to figure out what I'm doing, but on days I don't blog, I'm planning to use my Facebook Fan page to ask questions, comment, etc.  I am also going to use it for quick 1 hour sales and giveaways.  Below is a link to it.  Hopefully, in the next few days I will have a button on the right side of my blog that you can click to follow.

Coming Soon - A blog makeover!  Friends, I can't wait for you to see it!
Have a great Monday!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Few Clues

As a kid, I LOVED games.  Even now, I can't seem to get enough of them.  Most of the time, I try to pretend they don't exist because once I start playing, I can't stop!  You know those mystery games where you search for hidden objects?  Well, they take around eight to ten hours to beat.  I know this because once I start playing, I will play until I beat it.  Yes, I really do waste that much time playing a game and no, none of you need to ship kids my way.  I am content living in my little world.

Anyway, as a kid I always loved Clue.  I loved how you had mystery objects and you had to use all the information you had to try to figure out what happened.  Well, next week is Mystery Week in my classroom.  We are going to read a story called "How to be a Nature Detective".  We are also going to play several games where we have to match questions and answers, find mystery words around the room, and my favorite activity of all is we are going to go on a nature walk.  How does a nature walk have anything to do with finding clues or a Mystery Week?  Well, my little people are going to be given brown lunch bags and they are each going to find one thing to put in the bag.  I make a HUGE deal out of the fact that they want to keep what is in their bag a secret.  

After the nature walk, we go back to our classroom and we write about our objects without giving away what is in the bag.  I did this last year with my class and it went great.  This year, I decided to make it a little bit more interesting and completely developed the writing assignment.  Below are pictures of the packet.  If you like it, click on any of the pictures and it will take you to my TPT site.

There is very little prep work to do with this activity.  At the most it should only take you five to ten minutes.  Here are two pictures of how it looks when it is completed.

Anyway, this is the first of several writing activities I have planned over the next week or two.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Wii Bit of Fun

Before I share what I've been working on this week, I have to tell you guys something kind of funny.  So, my little people have LOVED all of our little "Brain Break" videos.  We've been watching two or three a day and they definitely have their favorites.  Well, this afternoon I discovered that they have memorized the Boom Chicka Boom one.  There's nothing more entertaining that watching one of your kids that usually follows lead your entire class in the Boom Chicka Boom song.  Now, we have to work on understanding that we can't just break out in song in the middle of math.

Alright, now to the featured programming (Yeah, I know... I'm goofy tonight, but that sounded great in my head).  Well, we have been testing ALL week.  I'm not sure what your county or state requires.  In some ways, I'm thankful that we test our kids because I feel like I get to see where we are, where I am as a teacher, and that we actually have learned.  In other ways, I hate it because I am a perfectionist and when my kids struggle it breaks my heart because not only do I know they know it and that I taught it, but it causes me to overreact and cry huge tears slightly and wonder if I failed them.  So, every year when we test, I do everything I can to make it serious, but enough fun that my kids don't panic.  I tell my kids not to tell the other first graders, but they are the smartest in all of first grade.  I swear them to secrecy and tell them it will hurt the other first graders feelings if they find out.  Obviously, my teammates teach the same things and their kids are just as smart as mine, but I love how excited they get when you build them up.  I also get breakfast for them each day, which usually consists of anything from Sponge Bob Gogurts to sticks of cheese.  Finally, we finish testing and on Friday I surprise them with MarioKart racing on the Wii and a pizza party.  I started this around five years ago and it is one of my favorite memories I make with my kids.  The best part is we don't just play MarioKart - we play MarioKart on our Activboard.  

I've had several people ask me how to hook a Wii into their Activboard, so below are pictures/instructions :)  It is definitely something to keep in your back pocket until the end of the school year and a SUPER special treat.  They've heard rumors it's possible, but they have no clue until Friday that all of the rumors are true.

First, the trick is you are really connecting your Wii to your projector.   Your Wii has a cord with a red, white, and yellow end piece.  These need to be connected to the cords that typically go into the back of a VCR.  The problem is those cords have the same ends that your Wii cord has.  What's the solution?  You go spend around $2 at Walmart and buy these small black pieces called female parts.  These pieces allow you to add the connections.  I've included two pictures so you can get an idea of what you are looking for if you do this.  My pictures already have the black parts added, so don't let the cords throw you.

Once that's done, you have to find a place to put your Wii.  I put mine behind my table area.  Then, I run the sensor bar to the front of my board.  It needs to be off the floor, so I put it on top of two of our book bins.  

After that, I set up four ottomans and put a wheel on each.  Chairs work just as well.  The first year I did this, I didn't have chairs out originally and the other students kept bumping the kids or getting in front of the sensor bar.  Chairs really help.  

Last of all, I come up with a rotation.  The kids not playing are doing other activities and centers.  Each group is assigned a color, so when it is their turn, I call out a color and everyone switches out.  Don't forget to include yourself.  I make sure I race everyone at least once and the rule is if anyone in the class beats me, the whole class gets ice cream.  

Anyway, I know this is one of those outside the box ideas, but the kids love it and after a week of testing, it's good to work on some of our social skills for an hour or two before we refocus to finish out the rest of our school year.

Alright, time to create!  Hope you guys have a great night!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Earth Day Freebie

Alright girls and boys, I have definitely not had as much time to post lately.  Plus, if I'm honest, I haven't had a ton of blogging ideas.  I have them for when I get a few more packets finished and I have a book full of blogging ideas for this summer, but from here to May... I've got nothing, so if you have any ideas or anything you want to see in a blog, leave me a message.  I promise that even if I don't always get to respond, I do read all of them.

The good news is I do have this week covered because  I can show you some of the things I'm doing for Earth Day.  I know Earth Day isn't until April 22, but since we have testing Monday - Wednesday this week, I'm probably going to do my Earth Day stuff Thursday and Friday of this week.  

I have a few other things up my sleeve which I'll share in my Top 10 Earth Day post tomorrow.  For tonight though, I have a cool thing to share with you and a new freebie.  

I found two books tonight that are perfect for Earth Day.  One is Biscuit's Earth Day Celebration and the other is Fancy Nancy: Every Day is Earth Day.  Both of them are cute, perfect for little people, and really walk the kids through why we celebrate Earth Day.  The best part about both of these books is you can buy hard copies or you can get them as eBooks.  I love getting eBooks for my iPad Nook Kids app because you can pick books that have the Read to Me stamp.  That means that if you have a book a little too hard for some of your struggling readers, it will read the book to them.  My kids have loved this!  You can also get a cord to hook your iPad into a projector or use an Apple TV to read the books on your Activboard.  We do this once or twice a month and it changes it up some.

If you are interested in either of the books, I grabbed them from  

Now, for my freebie.  My kids love reading, but I want to make sure they understand what they are reading.  I decided to create a few new book reports.  Make sure to check all of them out before you print 15 to 20 of each.  They all have their own spin.  The first two are identical to what I've been doing.  However, I made one with a boy and one with a girl.  This way, it belongs to them a little more.    The next two ask questions that can be used for several different books, but I'm planning to use them with the Biscuit book.  Once again, I used a boy for one and a girl for the other, so check before you hit print.  The last book report was created to fit more with the Fancy Nancy book since there are several problems and solutions.  This one has a boy and girl, so it can be used with all of your students.  Pictures are below, if you like it, click and grab it :)

 Have a great night and if you are testing this week, good luck!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Kid Stories and Brain Breaks

I have to tell you, after my day today, I can promise you that there is nothing better than teaching first grade.  My little guys had the best comedic timing today and I just have to tell you three of the things that made me laugh.

First, one of my kids came up to my table today and said, "Mrs. Wheeler, guess what?  I got to meet the guys from Duck Dynasty last night.  I got to meet Uncle Si, Jase, and Willie.  Phil couldn't come though."  I thought that was really neat and so we told the class.  A few minutes later, I asked him where he saw them and he couldn't remember.  Then, he said, "Don't tell my parents.  I don't want them to ground me."  I asked why they would ground him and he said, "Because they came in my window and hung out with me and when they came in they broke it, but they fixed it when they left."  My kid's imagination cracked me up.  I fell hook line and sinker until he told me that I couldn't tell his parents.  Later in the afternoon, he told us it was an April Fool's joke.

Next, a different kid said to me, "Mrs. Wheeler, Zack and Sam are smarter than you." I wish you could have seen his face because he was grinning when he said it.  My TA said, "Well, what about you?"  He said, "No, I'm not, but they are!"  (Names were changed)

Finally, I have a few friends that constantly call me Mrs. Wheelers.  It drives me bonkers.  So, I cupped my hands like a megaphone this afternoon after I got called Mrs. Wheelers for the 50,000th time this year and said, "My name IS NOT Mrs.Wheelers!"  They all started laughing and one of my boys said, "Yeah, and it isn't Mrs. Wilson either!"  No idea where it came from, but definitely funny.

Okay, now add 40 more of those little comments and you will have a picture of my day today.  Well, since we were all a little silly and talkative we took a couple of brain breaks.  If you haven't heard of brain breaks it's where you let kids get up and do something active and light-hearted for a few minutes. At least that's what we do in my classroom.

Here is my Top 10 List of brain break videos.  If you want to find some of your own, check out Harry Kindergarten or The Learning Station on YouTube.  My kids LOVE these!

#1 If You're a Kid (Following Directions Song)

#2 Hip Hop around the Clock 
(My kids jump every time they say the words, "Hip Hop")

#3 Boom Chicka Boom

#4 Wishy Washy Washer Woman

#5 Five Little Monkeys

#6 Go Bananas

#7 Stomp and Clap

#8 Skeleton Dance

#9 Let's Get Fit

Notice there isn't one for #10.  Well, I want you guys to weigh in.  Leave a comment below with a favorite not included here.  I will go through them and add one of your videos here later this week.

Alright, I hope this gives your kids the chance to release a little pent up energy this week.  I know my kiddos loved several of these today.  I can't wait to do a few more tomorrow.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Mini Person, Giveaway, and Book Reports

This will be a pretty quick post tonight, but I promise to update more tomorrow.  Between buying clip art today, playing around, and having a migraine I am still wide awake!

However, I had to show you what I created at 2 a.m. in the morning.  The new thing is having your own little mini person.  I have seen them everywhere lately and they are adorable.  However, I was afraid if I got someone to do it, they would hate me because I had so many details in mind, so I made my own little mini person with a few key Faith features :)  You will get to know her well because I'm going to have to find a way to use her, so the best way is to pop her onto my blog :)

This is my typical look - crazy, long, curly hair, glasses, my cross necklace from my Mom, iPad in hand, Coke, blue jeans, and some sort of cute shirt that hopefully makes me look a little skinnier.  Oh, and we better not forget the Toms.  I also usually have cross earrings, but yeah, adding those would have probably not looked right.  Even my hubby said this is my typical look.  Bless him for not saying she's a little skinnier than me.  Crazy what you can accomplish on an iPad when you can't fall asleep until 4:30 a.m.  Did I mention I did this with my finger?  I couldn't find my stylus, so decided to give it a shot.

In other news, I have a friend who is hosting her first ever giveaway!  Do you remember my cute birthday cupcake?  Well, if you do and you liked it (which you know you did), you have to go visit Erica's blog.  She just got her 100th Follower a few days ago and couldn't wait to do her first giveaway.  I have to say, I've been scared to death to do a giveaway because there is so much work involved, but the girl knew what she was doing.  I'm telling you, you wouldn't even know it's her first time doing this.  

Anyway, in case you missed my April Book Reports since I know most of us have been on Spring Break here they are again.  I'm going to work on the May ones sometime this week so I can get them up a little earlier this time.

Hope you all have a great night!