Are You A Bucket Filler?

We are Bucket Fillers

Do you know about Bucket Filling?  I heard about it a few years ago when I was shown this book.  It is a great little story to help kids to understand how much their words and actions impact others.  After reading they are always excited to share about how their bucket has been both filled and dipped from. love the idea behind this and thought let’s give this a go.  I made my chart and my notes and did my best to use the language with the kids and encourage them to recognize each other.  The problem with first graders is that most can’t write a whole lot at the beginning of the year so they would come to me.  If I didn’t write the note right away it would get forgotten.  Eventually it just became something on the wall and the whole idea was forgotten.

I was determined to try again this year but I didn’t want to recreate the problems I have had with implementing this in the past.  I jazzed up their little pocket “buckets” with colorful labels and read the book again.  We had the same conversation I have had in the past and the kids were super excited to start recognizing each other.  They each wrote about how they could fill each other’s buckets.  We were off

This year the bucket notes were super simple.  The student’s simply wrote their name on the slip and then put it in their friend’s pocket.  They can do that by themselves!  I asked them to make sure to tell their friend why they deserved a bucket note.  This is so much simpler and effective.  Right now most of the pockets are brimming.  I will be recognizing a few of those students who have pockets that are looking a little empty.
I am hoping this continues.  I am already finding kids going over and getting a note without coming to me first.  It is nice to see them use it independently. 
If you are looking for a simpler way to try “filling buckets” this might be what you need. 

This has gotten off to an AWESOME start so I will link up once again with Erin at Mrs. Beattie's Classroom to share my awesome


Sorting and Patterning - Our math right now

Sorting and Patterning Math right now

Like most Grade 1 teachers I start my year off with some numeration review and then jump into sorting and patterning for my first unit.  This year I am devoting 1 day each week to continue the focus on number sense and the other 4 on the strand we are studying. 

This week we spent a lot of time sorting sorting all kinds of things to keep the kids engaged and interested.  This skill comes easy for most.  I am always interested in hearing them explain how they sorted something.  Where they often get confused is choosing 1 attribute to sort by, so lots of practice is still necessary.  A good example of this is a collection of animals sorted in groups of eats meat, sleeps in a house, flies, has stripes, instead of picking an attribute for all - what they eat, where they live, what they can do, what they look like and sorting by 1 attribute. 

We started our week by sorting our reading buddy stuffed animals.  I chose a sorting rule and they guessed my rule and then added animals to each group.  Next, students took turns suggesting ways to sort and then sorted the animals.  Any time they can get their hands on the stuffed animals they are hooked. 

We moved from the animals to buttons.  Everyone has a button collection and this is the perfect time to use them.  They came up with lots of interesting ways to  sort on their own collection and then combined their buttons with a partner and then worked together on a new way to sort.  Next we got to take a look at everyone’s sorting.  We do this by doing a “gallery walk” around the room.   We pretend we are in a “math museum” and walk around with our hands behind our back and look at everyone’s work.  This is very tricky because it is so tempting to touch EVERYTHING!   They also had to try to find someone who sorted their buttons in the same way as them.  This helped to keep most of the kids focused. 

Our final day of sorting was the “best” yet, according to the kids.  We reviewed our math terms in our star chart and then we sorted our classroom toys.  I pulled out bins of lego, knex, blocks, shapes, animals and beads.  With a partner, they figured out different ways to sort their items and quickly discovered there were lots of things that “didn’t belong” in each of the toy bins.  This led to a great discussion of why it is important to sort things out and put them in their proper place.  We ended today with an assessment of their ability to sort.  Everyone had a collection of animal pictures that they coloured, cut and sorted according to whatever attribute they choose.  There were a lot of great ideas. 

Monday we will be starting into patterning and I am excited to use my brand new centers with the students.  They have already explored with the pattern blocks a fair bit so I know they will enjoy using them with the pattern block centres.  In my patterning package there are also 2 different read and write the room activities.  The kids loved them the first time we did one so I am sure they will be happy to break out the clipboards and do it again.  I will post some pictures of it in action next week.
I am also going to start some problem solving with them this week.  I am working on a new product for problem solving in early primary.  I won't lie - I often struggle to find questions that grade 1 students can assess and solve that are open ended enough but are also appropriately scaffolded.  A tough task to be sure.  My "Colour and Solve" are designed to give the students a starting point but they still need to read the question and figure out what to do to solve the problem.  Click below for a freebie from this package.  I have not posted the full product as it is still a work in progress.  I would love to hear what you think about using these in early primary.

 What are you teaching in Math right now?


A week of Awesome - Better late than never!


I am finally linking up to share my awesome moments from last week and this week is almost over!  I had a very busy weekend and did not get to it then so I guess as they say, better late than never!

I am going to do things a bit differently this week and just hit the “awesome” highlights for the week, rather than day by day.  Last week seems like somewhat of a blur now that we are into a new week. 

On Monday our school celebrated International Dot Day.  We kicked it off with a short assembly and then returned to our classroom.  I find that the kids have a hard time following things in an assembly so we “watched” the book again.  This time the kids seemed to understand the message.  We talked about what it meant to “make your mark” and then we created our own dot art work in the spirit of Vashti’s art work from the book  The kids loved using markers and creating all different styles of dots.  Their finished pieces were framed in gold, just as Vashti’s was in the book.  Awesome! 

We have been working hard to review our letter sounds the last few weeks.  I came up with an activity and song to help with that that we use on the smartboard The Letters on the Bus.  We sing a little song about the sounds each of the letters make that are riding the bus.  The kids are really enjoying it and the best part is I am starting to notice an improvement in their letter/sound recognition.  Today I added some animals for an extension activity after we sang our song.  They loved moving the animals onto the bus if they started with the same letter sound.  In their words - "this is Awesome". 

Behaviour Bingo is in full swing in our classroom this week and the kids are working really hard to earn their first prize.  Everyone is working together to line up quietly (well, usually) and make their way to the carpet quickly and quietly (that is going better..).  I think if our trend continues we will celebrate with our first prize later this week.  I know the kids would respond “awesome”
Our week ended with our annual Terry Fox Walk.  This is always a tough topic in Grade 1.  How do you talk about cancer with students who may not have any experience with it, or if they do, it is very upsetting?  Like so many others, my family has been touched with cancer, so it is also an emotional conversation for me.  I try to focus the student’s attention on what Terry Fox did in response to his cancer and why that made him a hero.  For the most part they understood that.  However,  there is always one little guy that just doesn’t understand “hero” in any context but a superhero.  Try as I might I don’t think I convinced him that Terry Fox is not anything like Batman and they will never battle!  6 year old minds!  It was awesome to see my students out walking with the rest of the school and helping to raise funds for a great cause. 

What was your awesome this week? 

A Management Strategy for Improving Hallway Behavior

Classroom management when you are not in your classroom can be tricky. Do your students struggle to stay quiet when moving through the halls? Are your old tricks just not cutting it anymore? Perhaps it is time to change it up and try something new.

Classroom management strategies for the hallway

We are all about routines right now and I am pulling out all the stops to try to get my active, boy-filled class on board.  One area that is always a struggle each year is moving through the halls.  Last year I moved into a new classroom and it is the farthest away from EVERYTHING.  All I can say is I am beyond thankful that I have my own bathroom in my classroom.  On our way to the Gym, French or the Library we pass all of the other primary classrooms.  I needed something new to really encourage them to be quiet and respectful when in the hall. 

Classroom management strategies for the hallwayClassroom management strategies for the hallway

This is why I came up with “Hall Stars”.  Each time we line up to head into the hall I pick 2 popsicle sticks or stars with students names on them and put them in my pocket.  I announce to the line that I have my two “Hall Stars” and will be watching to see if they are behaving as a Hall Star should.  We do a quick review of our “Hall Stars” expectation poster before leaving. On the way to our destination and back I keep my eye on my “Hall Stars”. If they were successful I make a big deal about announcing their names and then put their star on the chart. If a student wasn’t behaving properly then their name is returned to the “pick me” pocket and nothing more is said.  

You can find this FREEBIE in my store!  Click on any of the images to find it or click {HERE}.

Classroom management strategies for the hallway

This has been working really well for my class.  I hope that you find it will help your students with their hallway behavior.

Until next time, 

A Week of AWESOME moments
I am linking up with Mrs. Beattie’s Classroom to share some AWESOME from my week.  Week two continued to be all about routines and practice, practice, practice of those routines!   This is my first experience with children from an FDK (full day kindergarten) program and I am finding they are a lot less tired than kids in an every other day program.  Aside from wanting to know when they will play, I haven’t noticed a big difference.  I really didn’t know what to expect. 

Last week we read many, many picture books with a back to school theme.   I remembered to take some photos of their work to share.  They did an AWESOME job. 

This week we are starting to settle into routines and enjoying colour days.  This week we dressed in red, green, black and blue.  Each day the classroom was awash with the colour of the day.  AWESOME! 

We are really working on our behaviour in the hallway.  I introduced my Hall Stars this week and it has made a great difference with the way they move through the halls - AWESOME.  Next up, we are working on getting lined up.  Monday morning the kids will notice some new line up spot dots on the floor.  We will see if that helps everyone stay in their spot.  Stay tuned.  I will let you know how this works!  I am hoping this will lead to some AWESOME.

I also introduced Behaviour Bingo to my students this week.  It took a bit of explaining before they understood that they didn’t win their class prize until they earned all 5 numbers under the letter.  There was a collective cheer when they earned their first bingo number and then a sigh when I explained again that they needed 4 more numbers.  They get it now and are really trying to work collectively to earn a bingo number with great classroom behaviour.  AWESOME! 

We are starting into some curriculum this week.  We have been working on our number recognition and we played an AWESOME game from a new package from  This kids loved building the towers for each number and then loved knocking them all down at the end.  The activity started out quietly because we always use the “quiet” dice (foam dice) but ended with a noisy commotion when the game was over. 

And last but not least is a teacher AWESOME.   I was blessed to have two wonderful ladies volunteer in my classroom on Friday morning, one was a parent of a former student and the other an occasional teacher with our board.  Between the two of them they assessed all of my students letter/sound and number recognition.  Now it is time for me to dig through this data and start my planning.  AWESOME!  

There were lots of AWESOME moments this week.  What was your AWESOME this week?

A Peek into my First Week

Wow, a very busy week has come to an end and what a week it has been!  I have had a great week with my 19 lovely little first graders.  Today I gained another student, a lovely little girl which will be a great addition to my primarily boy class. 

We have spent so much time this week getting to know each other through various games and activities.  One highlight of this week would have to be the Find a Friend activity.  This was our first time using the clipboards.  Their eyes practically lit up when they got their sheets and clipped them to the clipboards.  They walked around asking friends if they liked something that was pictured on the sheet.  The best part was when one of the kids came up to me and shyly said “can I ask you a question?” and to that I replied “yes!”  The next thing I knew I was surrounding by kids and clipboards. Awesome!

Our week was filled with lots of Back to School themed books and lots and lots of talk about expectations.  That is so important with first graders!  Practice, practice, practice those routines and go over the expectations in Grade 1 as they are often different than Kindergarten.  Some of our favourites were Chrysanthemum, Never Ride your Elephant to School, First Day Jitters and a story called The Day the Monster Came to School from a great freebie on TPT.  I had full intention of taking some photos of some of our work from the week but since this blogging thing is all new to me, I forgot. 

Our math time was filled with some “get to know you” graphing and number review.  The students loved my newest read and write the room activity for reviewing numbers. They looked at each card and figured out the number that was missing and recorded it on their tracking sheet.  This was a bit challenging for some to the get the hang of, but for the most part, everyone figured it out and was thoroughly engaged the entire time.  Read around the room activities are a favourite of mine:  LEARNING + MOVING = ENGAGED KIDS.  Click on the picture below to check on the activity in my TPT store. 

I am looking forward to next week and introducing Bucket Filling, Behaviour Bingo and Stool Stars.  I hope to get some preliminary assessments started and get rolling with curriculum.  I hope that you had a great first week!

I am linking up with Erin from Mrs. Beattie's Classroom to share my Awesome from this week.




Day One, Done!

Day 1 DONE! 

Hello everyone!  For my Canadian followers:  Happy First Day of School - I hope that your first day back was all that you had hoped for.  My wish for today was a day without rain and my wish came true!  The rain held off until after bus time.  Yahoo! 

This morning I welcomed 18 boys and girls into my grade 1 classroom.  Once again this year I have a boy heavy class.  It seems our entire division is overflowing with boys.  We had a great morning getting to know each other.  I read First Day Jitters and we created a class graph on the smart board about our own feelings about school.  I am happy to report that most children were excited to start Grade 1. 

After recess I used a new activity from TPT: M&M Round Robin Get to Know You. The kids were so excited when they found out they got to eat the M&M’s.  It was a great activity for firsties because the cards had picture cues on them so that they could remember what the question was.  A group of children modeled what was expected and then the children took their baggies and headed to their tables to talk about themselves and eat candy what more could a 6 year old ask for?

Another first day activity I always do is  self-portrait.  They learned a short poem about the first day of school and then illustrated that poem and put it on the WOW wall. Our last special first day activity was a craftivity for The Kissing Hand.  The kids trace their hand on construction paper, put a heart sticker on it and glue it to a special poem paper and take it home to mom/dad as a first day gift. 

We had a packed day with fun activities, GO Noodle and a few tears as the day wound down.  It is a pretty long day for 6 year olds getting used to returning to school.  One surprising note from today was that not one of the kids asked when they were going to play they did ask about toys but no one was worried that there was no play time.  Let’s see how long that lasts! 

How was your first day back?

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