What!!! It is almost December!

I don’t know about you, but I seemed to have blinked and now it is almost December.   At the beginning of the year I always think it is such a long haul to get to Christmas, but after our Thanksgiving in October (I am Canadian) time seems to speed up.  Now, here we are 3 weeks from the Christmas Holidays!

Christmas is my favourite time of the year and my first graders think so too.J   Hallowe’en was barely over and the talk turned to Santa and Christmas.  Our school population almost overwhelmingly celebrates Christmas, so I am able to celebrate with my students.  Our curriculum in Grade 2 has a Traditions and Celebrations component so I don’t go into a lot of detail about other celebrations, although I do touch on them.  I leave that to their Grade 2 teacher.

Today I stayed after our Professional Activity Day to start getting the room ready.First up this Monday is the arrival of our Elf on the Shelf, who is currently sitting in our Christmas tree.  I am so excited to see what this group of students thinks.  I expect some will literally be “vibrating” with excitement.  We had a lot of fun with Snowflake last year and I expect the same this year.  Last year I had a student who constantly wanted to write to Snowflake.  I was inspired to take this idea and expand it into a writing unit.  I am in the process of creating a Christmas writing package that will allow the children to write to Snowflake and all of the others who live at the North Pole.  Each night when he “leaves” to go to the North Pole he can deliver our letters.  I think the kids will be very excited about this.  I hope to have it ready for the Cyber Monday sale, so be on the lookout for it. 

The hard part about December is keeping the kids engaged when their minds are clearly elsewhere.  I try really hard to incorporate Christmas themes into our reading, writing and math to help keep them learning and interested.  I recently created a collection of Data Management centers that are thematic.  My latest additions are Grab and Graph and Spin and Graph Winter Edition. 


Each product has 6 centers that are print and go and have colour and black and white options, to save ink.  With Grab and Graph you print out the sheet of mini manipulative cards, cut them out and put them in a paper bag.  Students use the accompanying worksheet to graph what they “grabbed” from the bag and to communicate and make comparisons about the data.   There is just a bit of colouring to keep the kids engaged and busy for a time and it requires very little direction so it will foster independence. 


Spin and Graph uses the same themes but instead students have either a colour copied spinner that I laminate (to use with dry erase markers) or a B&W version.  Students spin 20 times and mark their tallies.  They then complete the worksheet, graphing and communicating about their data.  I am really excited about using these with my students.  I am sure they will enjoy them. 

This brings me to my final though before I sign off.  I have some amazing news that I have only shared with a very few people.  A few weeks ago I decided to put together a page for the TPT Holiday Ebook.  I knew that I would be submitting to the Grade 1-2 book and that competition for those 50 pages would stiff.  I am happy to report that I got an email confirming that I would be one of the lucky 50 included in the book!  I am beyond thrilled and excited and might have did a little squeal right in the middle of my classroom when I found out.  J  It is available starting December 7th so be sure to download it for 50 awesome tips to use in your classroom and 50 FREEBIES.   
This is by far my most “awesome” news this week so I am linking up with Erin at Mrs. Beattie’s Classroom and her “Year of Awesome” linky.  Be sure to check back regularly during this month as I plan to blog about all of our holiday happenings. 

Don’t forget to visit TPT on Monday and Tuesday and scoop up some deals.  I know my wishlist is ready and I will be spending some time leaving feedback on items that I have not had a chance to leave feedback for.  Did you know that by leaving feedback you get points that you can use towards future purchases?  It makes the 28% off sale even sweeter.  I would love it if you could return and leave feedback on any items of mine you might have purchased.  I love reading your comments. 

Until next time.

A little bit of this and that!

I am linking up with Erin from Mrs. Beattie’s Classroom this week.  It has been a few weeks since I have linked up but I am back to share some of my awesome moments.  I have been commenting to my colleagues that I think this group of Firsties has finally figured it out and is settling down.  We have had two really solid weeks.  I think having said this I might have jinxed myself, as you will find out as you read on. 

For the past several weeks in Math we have been working really hard on recognizing and representing our numbers to 30 using 10 frames and base 10 blocks as well as pictures, tallies etc.  We are practicing in lots of different ways but I have shared some of our favourites.  The students LOVE using whiteboards so we use them all the time.  On this particular day I slipped a 10 frame sheet in a page protector and called out numbers for them to show in the frames.  Pictured below is the second part of the activity where they flipped their “whiteboards” over and drew the base 10 blocks.  I love how they all get comfortable and are working so hard.  Another great activity is to simply put a pile of number cards on the table and have them  use the blocks to build the number and have a friend check.  I truly feel like most kids have this concept mastered. 

Later in the week I challenged the students to solve a problem for me - I wonder how many tables there are in our classroom?.  I told them they could take a clipboard and the “whiteboard” ten frame or blank side and see if they could figure it out.  They were excited for the challenge and I wanted to see if they could represent a  number greater than we had worked on.  It was very interesting to watch them go.  Some students had a plan right away they touched each desk and made a mark in their tens frame some wrote a number, some a dot.  Others stood back and tried to count all the tables from a distance.  Their answers were very telling.  At the end of the task they shared their answers and I wrote their numbers on the smartboard.  We discussed the answers that were less than 20 (we have 20 students) and talked about why that wasn’t a possible answer.  The math talk that followed was great to hear.  On day two we repeated the task but with chairs.  This time all of the answers were above 20 and many were right on.  It was great to see the kids apply the skills that they have worked so hard on.

During our word work this week I added 5 new words that the kids all decided needed to go to the word jail.  We practiced them daily and then on one of our practice days we did “find and print’ using just our new words and the word jail.  These two little guys often struggle but when you mention that the words are in the Word Jail they light up and start searching right away.  As you can see, they spelled them perfectly (barring reversals).  They were so proud of themselves AWESOME!

Another highlight of our week was our Character Ed focus around kindness and using our WITS.  WITS is a program that our school adopted to teach children how to solve small problems on their own. For foyr days we reviewed each choice:  Walk Away, Ignore, Talk it Out and Seek Help.  On the fifth day we worked on our door.  We read some great read alouds but the favourites were probably The Recess Queen and King of the Playground.  I think the kids could really relate to each book.  We had a great discussion about how to use our WITS to handle kids like Mean Jean the Recess Queen and Sammy from the King of the Playground.  We used a Venn Diagram for the first time and compared the two books.  The kids figured out how the planner worked right away and had some great contributions. 

Midweek we took a break from the WITS focus to decorate our door.  If you ask any of my students they would say this is the AWESOME highlight of the week.  The reason being is that we made Minions!  I found this craftivity {HERE}.  I had intended it to be a surprise but I left my sample out where one very observant student spotted it.  He loves to make crafts and was beyond excited, which got everyone else excited.    Unfortunately I didn’t get to make them with them because I had a Collaborative Inquiry group meeting at our board office but they had a special supply teacher Ms. Makinson!  She taught many of them last year.  They were excited to see her.  The minions turned out AWESOME.  Now the question of the day is “when do we get to take them home? “ 

As the end of the week approached the tide turned in the classroom and things started going seriously off the rails.  I am not so sure whyearly Christmas fever, snow who knows.  When Monday rolls around it is time to rein them in again so that we can make some more awesome moments in our classroom.  Next week is filled with a number of great extra-curricular activities so stay tuned.

On a totally different awesome note:  I finally got my Christmas data management centers uploaded to TPT!  I already had posted the fall, winter and math manipulatives sets and have been anxious to get this set posted.  If you are going to be teaching graphing to your students in the next month you will want to check these sets out.  


A Simple and Effective Strategy to Practice Sight Words

Practicing those tricky Word Wall Words! Practice, Practice and more practice is the key to having your first graders or any early reader grow their sight vocabulary.  I am going to share with your a simple strategy I use and a resource to help with the trickiest of words - the rule breaker words.

I am linking up with Mrs. McClain over at Buzzing with Mrs. McClain for her monthly You Oughta Know blog hop. Other bloggers and I will be sharing things that you “oughta know” for your classroom.

In First Grade we practice all the time.  We need to build our vocabulary and I love to find fun ways for kids to do just that.  One idea that I have implemented in my room years ago was "word wall pockets".  Every week students are introduced to five new words for the week and are given these words on little flashcards.  I create a table in Powerpoint with 2 columns and 5 rows and then print them off and slice them up so I can save paper and make them the perfect size for a library pocket. They cut them apart and store them in their pocket.  

The fun starts when they get to sit with their partners and practice their words.  Sitting knee to knee and eye to eye, one student shows the other the word and them puts the card in the proper pocket depending on whether it is a "word I know" or a "word I need to practice".  They truly enjoy working with their partners to do this.  I have paired up stronger students with weaker students so that I have lots of little teachers around the room prompting and coaching.  I hear lots of "try it again" and "sound it out" and "yes, you got it, good for you".  

When they are done their pockets they put them aside and write the current week's words on each other's backs and then they try to guess what the word is.  They are all so engaged during this little chunk of our day!  

Until next time,



This is my first time linking up with Farley over at Oh' Boy 4th Grade. 

Listening to - My daughter loves to bake.  Right now she is watching a Youtube video and making single serve cookies in the microwave.  She is on her second batch.  The first one was crumbly but tasted yummy.  The second looked doughy to me but she fed it to her father.  The only problem is she hates cleaning up after the baking! There was flour everywhere.  

Loving - Friday, and now the weekend.  It has been a long week for some reason.  I just finished my progress reports and am trying to get back into the groove with my guided reading after  bit of time off to do some assessments.  

Thinking  and Needing - I need more sleep.  I have kicked my TPTing into high gear in the last few months.  I have been creating like a maniac and I am staying up late working on products, pinning and working on my blog.  There just doesn't seem to be enough time in the week.  However, I got a good solid 8 hours last night so I am feeling somewhat refreshed  

Wanting -  A new pair of black boots.  I love my brown ones but would like a pair of black high boots.  Time to go shopping!  :)

Reading - Don't get me wrong.  I love to read.  However, I am one of THOSE people who put the world on hold when I am in the middle of a good book.  I will literally sit for hours and read.  My last great read was the last book in the Outlander series. Right now I should be doing some professional reading for a Collaborative Inquiry I am part of.  
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