Monday, July 29, 2013

Monday Made It and Mentor Texts! Don't you love linky parties?!

It's our favorite time of week where we can see everything our wonderfully talented blogging community has made (thanks to 4th Grade Frolics for hosting!).
I love scrolling through blogs to see what you crazy kids have come up with! You may being asking, "Amanda, what did you make this week??


Drum roll please...

I made....

A MESS!!! See:


Ok, I know, I cheated. However, that's certainly what I made! I went to my new classroom and there was stuff in every nook and cranny! So I pulled EVERYTHING out and sorted it by subject. I know it doesn't look like it, but this is one VERY organized mess  =)  I'm optimistic that I can get most of this put away with another visit or 2 to my classroom.

In other Linky news...

The lovely ladies at Collaboration Cuties are hosting their amazing Mentor Text linky. This week the topic is Social Studies books, and I have 2 books I'm just dying to share!

The first...

Martin's Big Words
This book uses quotes from MLK Jr. himself as well as some narrative to tell his story. It's a simple book that beautifully explains a very complex subject. Good for all ages.
The other book is much more light-hearted...
Toot and Puddle
Toot is a traveler. Puddle is a bit of a home-body. Both have a year long adventure as Toot travels the world sending post cards to Puddle back at home. This is a great book to launch a discussion about geography and map skills. It's also oozing with potential letter-writing activities and a character lesson about how friends don't always like the same things. Some of my darlings have gotten into spats because their friend doesn't want to slide and would rather swing. Talk about drama!
THIS JUST IN: Apparently Toot and Puddle have their own TV show. I discovered this while searching for the cover art for the book. It looks like youtube has several episodes uploaded. Well that's just dandy!

Friday, July 26, 2013

These are a few of my favorite pins!

This week I've gone crazy for color words! I've taught first grade for the last few years and most of my kids knew their color words. Now that I'm going back to K, I forgot how important it is to teach color words. Therefore, I've been doing my homework this week (I love having a job where we do homework by looking on pinterest!).  Here are a few pins I've found to practice color words:

These are some AWESOME color word activities as well as other reading and
math stations using the classic Brown Bear, Brown Bear. Only $1! 
Brown Bear Math and Literacy Activities

Here's another fun color word activity to use with another fun book.
Who doesn't LOVE Pete the Cat?! This printable book will
help kids read their color words in a Pete-inspired theme. 

And lastly this is my own creation. Here are a few color word station activities.
This is free for a while...until I remember to change it in my TPT store  =)
Color Word Stations (goes great with Pete the Cat)

In other pinning news, my hubby and I have recently become OBSESSED with Doctor Who!!!!!!
I have to admit I have a slight Doctor crush on David Tennant. Ahhh  =) 
Anyway, I also love a good knock-knock joke, so this pin is PERFECT!
Knock Knock Dr. Who joke
And for all of the ADD darlings out there...
I have so many students like this....
This is true for my students and true for me at workshops, too!
The look you give your friend When the teacher says find a partner | MR bean

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Birthdays and freebies and giveaways OH MY!

School news
I've been busy obsessing over creating more Dots on Turquoise merchandise! My latest creation is a dots on turquoise voice level chart. 
Click the Pic for a link to the FREEBIE!

Have you seen these charts? They are starting to pop up everywhere and I think they're fantastic! Mostly I like how they help kids see that different voice levels are appropriate in different situations. A student talks super loudly at stations, but is almost mute when giving a presentation. I think this chart will help cue them to use proper volume.

Changing the subject, today is the LAST day to enter the birthday giveaway that Liz is throwing over at Polka Dot Firsties. You could win my digraph sort or other super cool prizes from great bloggers. Check it out!
Click the Pic to enter
Not school news:
Happy birthday to me!!! This week is birthday week! Specifically Tuesday was the big day. Here's my hubby bringing out the cake.

29 candles this year. Last year of being in my twenties, which is simply unbelievable. Does anyone remember Deana Carter's song Strawberry Wine and the line that says "I still remember when 30 was old"? Well 30 still seems old, even though it's knocking on the door! 

Anyway, my family came to visit for my bday and we had a delicious dinner at Copelands. Great for my parents' New Orleans roots. Speaking of, here are my lovely parents: 

And my dear hubby and me:

Oh yeah, I got a bike!!! Hubby got one for his bday in May, so now we can ride together! The only problem is that after one ride through our very hilly neighborhood, he announced he's never riding again. Oops!
I also received some new Back to School books. They're so cute, and I can't wait to read them with my kiddos! I'm linking up with Andrea at Reading Toward the Stars to share these great books! Click on any of the pics to find out more about them on Amazon.

Great for explaining why we have rules.

A great way to talk about tattling.
Another tattling book (this is a big deal in K!). This book uses
rhymes to explain the difference between reporting and tattling.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Atlanta Blogger Meet-up

Today was the Atlanta Blogger Meet-up and it was all kinds of fantastic! There were 9 of us who got together at the beautiful Swan Coach House. It's very southern-y, and now that I'm thinking about it, very estrogen-driven. I'm not sure I saw any guys eating there. Weird! Afterwards, we took a trip to IKEA where I surprisingly didn't buy anything (but the other gals bought super cute things that I know will look amazing in their classroom!). To those of you making your maiden voyage to IKEA today, I hope it was everything you dreamed it would be!   =)  Here's a pic of the group.

Me, Jivey, Brandee, Denay, Liz, Stacia, Amanda, Alison, Elizabeth

I loved talking with these amazing ladies about teaching and blogging. Here are the 2 things I took away from our conversation:
1. Fellow bloggers are some of the most encouraging and uplifting people out there! They have something kind to say. They show excitement about what they do. They do what it takes to go the extra mile. What a great community to be a part of!
2. Blogging is great accountability! I want to do awesome things in my classroom so I have something awesome to blog about (of course, I want to do awesome things so my kids will learn a lot and grow up to be intelligent, thoughtful, contributing members of society...but that goes without saying!)

Check out the other lovely ladies who came today!

Ideas By Jivey
Creating Lifelong Learners
The Gemini Teacher

Polka Dot Firsties
Collaboration Cuties
Stacia and Amanda



Thursday, July 18, 2013

Bulletin board time!

I went to my classroom today and started putting up my bulletin boards. There's something about having bulletin boards up that makes the room feel more put together (even when the rest of it is a DISASTER!). Plus, I get to use my Dots on Turquoise border! I'm so in love with it!
Future home of the word wall
Tip: Instead of using butcher paper or fabric, I use $1.99 table cloths from Party City for my bulletin boards. They are cheap and easy to wipe off if they get dirty. The rectangular ones I use are 9 feet long so they cover most of the long bulletin boards (but not all). The table cloths are thinner than other materials, so you can kind of see the bulletin board through it, but that's not a big deal to me.

Now I just have to figure out how to cutesy up those icky brown cabinets! 
In non-school news, my hubby and I got our dog a year ago today! She's the best dog we could have asked for and I've been AMAZED how much a part of our family she is! I love my Jenna!
The day we got Jenna

Jenna today. She's so big now!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Math Mentor Texts Linky: Stuart J. Murphy

I'm linking up with the lovely ladies at Collaboration Cuties for Must Read Mentor Texts: math edition! This year, we read several books by Stuart J. Murphy. He is a GENUIS at writing simple stories that clearly illustrate math concepts. We read:

Tally O'Malley
Plot: A family plays a game where they tally what they see on their vacation. By the end of the book, my students were bursting at the seams to tally everything, too! Seriously...I've never before seen students so ready to tally!

More or less
Plot: A boy is guessing people's age by asking more than/less than questions. Not only does it teach more and less, but also asking good questions. Good for higher-level thinking.

It's About Time!
Plot: This is a really simple book about time to the hour. A child goes through the day telling what time he does different activities.

This was helpful for my firsties because they had NO idea what time they did anything! They didn't know what time they woke up or ate dinner or went to bed. Because of this, we made a time number line. First, we made a list of what we did each hour of the day, which like I said they had no clue about. Then, each child picked an hour of the day and illustrated a picture of what happened at that time. We put the pictures in order (making sure to pay close attention to AM and PM) and hung it up on a clothesline. We referred back to this ALL the time during our time unit! It helped kids see time as a linear thing, understand a day is made up of two 12 hour segments called AM and PM, and realize we do certain activities at certain times. So helpful!

There are TONS of other Stuart J. Murphy books. Check out some of his other books on Amazon by clicking HERE.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Monday Made It: Word Wall Cards in Dots in Turquoise

I'm linking up with 4th Grade Frolics for her WONDERFUL linky: MONDAY MADE IT!!! (insert cheers and applause here!)

But first, a story...

Imagine the scene: an innocent, unsuspecting girl wandering the lonely aisles of her local school supply store. She's not looking for anyone or anything in particular when ALL OF A SUDDEN she sees it. IT! This beautiful creation! This angel of light! This butterfly in the rainbow forest of her Lisa Frank dreams! She sees DOTS ON TURQUOISE!

Click here to view larger image

As you can see, I LOVE dots on turquoise room d├ęcor from Creative Teaching Press! I used several of the borders from this theme in my room last year, and they were so cute! But I ran into a problem: it was hard to find other products in this color scheme. Luckily, the fabulous Ashley Hughes read my mind and made digital paper in the PERFECT colors, making it possible for me to create:

TADA! Word Wall Letters!
I'm using these letters on my word wall (surrounded by my fabulous Dots border!). They're currently free at my TPT store if you'd like to use them, too! Just click the pic. Also, I'd appreciate you rating them.

I went to my classroom today to put up my word wall and other bulletin boards, but there was nary a staple in my new classroom! Not a single one! Can you believe it? So I had to come home and go to the water park instead  =)

I can't wait to see what everyone else has made!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Schedule Spotlight: Daily 5

I am so excited to join up with Kelli from Castles and Crayons for her Schedule Spotlight Series. What a great idea to walk through our day one section at a time and give specifics of what we do during that time. This week's section is Daily 5.

***As a disclaimer, I did Daily 5 in first grade, and this year, I'm moving down to kindergarten. If anyone has tips for doing Daily 5 with kindergarten or knows of great resources/blog posts about this, please let me know!***

This was my first year using Daily 5 and I'm hooked! I loved the mini-lessons to launch each component and the emphasis put on building students' stamina. We spent a lot of time on these at the beginning of the year, and it was worth every second! When we finally starting going to stations, they ran much smoother than past years.

I tweaked daily 5 a little from what the 2 Sisters suggested. First I have more than 5 stations. In addition to the normal 5, I also used a puzzle station, computer station, puppet station, and phonics station. This keeps my groups a little smaller which is important to me (3-4 kids per station). Also, I wasn't brave enough to give students free choice to pick their station. Maybe one day, but for now, I have students in mixed ability groups rotating to each station.

Our routine: We did daily 5 first thing in the morning. After reviewing morning work and all of the other morning housekeeping, we came to the carpet for a mini-lesson from our reading curriculum. This was usually a read aloud, a lesson, and maybe a quick activity. Before we started our first round of stations, I called my guided reading group to the back table. The students in that group would get their bag of books (we used giant zip lock bags to keep their books) and "warm up" by reading to themselves or reading with someone else in the group. This warm-up time was a great activity for my group to do while I was sending everyone else to their station.

To help my students be accountable for their station work, we used "station folders." Student had a checklist where they wrote the date that they went to each station. This helped me keep track if a student was absent or out of the room during stations. Any work students produced during stations went in their folder and they turned in the entire folder after going to all stations. Incentive: We had one round of free stations. Students who had completed all station work to the best of their ability got to choose the station they went to; students who were not finished had time to complete their assignments. Interestingly, the very first time we did this, I had over half the class not finish their work. The next time, after seeing that they missed free stations, only a few students didn't finish. Funny how students rise to do what's expected of them.

After one round of stations, we came back to the carpet, did a quick check-in for each station, and then did a phonics review. This was when we would play a sight word game, listen to a letter sound song, or review phonics flashcards. Nothing big. Then we went to rotation 2, came back to the carpet for a quick check-in, and then did our phonics mini-lesson for the day.

The pretty much sums up our Daily 5. I'm not going to go into my guided reading groups because this post is already getting WAY long! I can't wait to read other people's ideas!

(BTW, YES this is my 3rd post for the day. YES I will be seeking blogging addiction help. YES I am going away from the computer for the rest of the day now)   =)

More Liebster!

I'm having so much fun with these Liebster Awards! I've been introduced to a lot of new blogs, and I'm glad to see I've had some new visitors to my blog. WELCOME! I've had 2 new nominations that I'm SOOO excited about, even though I've been slow to respond to them. I'm catching up today.
The first nomination is from Emily @ Style Closet to Classroom. Her blog has so many cute ideas!
1. How long have you been teaching? I'm about to start my 8th year. That is crazy to think about because it doesn't feel like that long. That's roughly 150 kids I've taught! 

2. What technology do you use in your classroom? I use a lot of computer programs: SuccessMaker, Raz-kids, Study Island, Starfall, Megamath. I hope to start using iPads this coming year.

3. If you could go on a dream vacation where would you go? It's so hard to pick! Maybe to Hawaii to try surfing.

4. How many items do you have on TpT or TN? I think 5. I started it a couple of weeks ago and it's been a great motivation to finish some of the projects I've been working on!

5. What is one piece of clothing in your closet that you could never ever get rid of? My scarves! I love accessorizing with them!

6. If you could change one thing about teaching what would it be? I would get rid of the red tape and paperwork that bog teachers down and keep kids from getting the help they really need.

7.  Iphone or Droid? I live in a house divided. I'm a iPhone, my hubby's a Droid.

8.  If you were stranded on a desert island and you could only bring 3 things..what would they be? my house, my family, and Wal-Mart. What else would I need??  =)

9. Have you ever been abroad to another country? I went to the UK when I was in college. We studied their school systems, so it was a neat trip. Then I went to Guatemala one summer to teach English. I would love to go back!

10. What was your favorite children's book OR if you had to choose one favorite book our of your classroom library now--what would it be and why? When I was little, my fave was definitely Green Eggs and Ham. When I was older, I was a Babysitter's Club kind of girl.
11.  When did you decide to become a teacher and why? I didn't actually want to be a teacher until I got to college. I originally wanted to be a school psychologist or family counselor. Becoming a teacher was a total God thing...He just helped me change my mind and I've loved it ever since!

The second nomination is from Gary at Scrappy Guy. He's a fellow Georgian who I hope I get to meet this weekend at our blogger meet up!

Where would you like to be in five years? My hubby and I just moved to Atlanta to start new jobs. I hope these are THE know, the ones we stay in for a while because we love what we do. So honestly, I hope in 5 years we're still happy where we are. I do hope we buy a house in that time. I have some pinterest ideas I'd love to try out  =)

What's your favorite guilty pleasure? Probably the TV shows I watch. I could watch old 90s reruns ALL day (and thanks to Netflix, sometimes I do!)
How many years have you been blogging? I started in February of this year, so 5 months.

Which color goes best with brown? I personally love blue and brown, and pink and brown.
Do you play any musical instruments? I dabble in musical instruments. I played percussion in high school band and have played piano off and on.
What grade do you like to teach the most? I student taught in 3rd grade--loved it! Then I taught kindergarten for 5 years--loved it, too! Then I moved up to first grade for 2 years--loved it still! I really enjoy different parts of each grade, so I guess I'm happy wherever. As long as they aren't big, smelly, icky older kids, that is!  =)
If you could win a million dollars what would you buy for your classroom first? iPads for everyone! I love all of the apps available on iPads and would love a set to use for kiddos all day every day! Also, we would have a pet pony for our classroom.
Which book do you think teaches your students the most? Great question! I'm not sure, but I hope it's the pigeon books (Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, etc.) because we read those a lot.
Which person is your inspiration? Would it be TOO corny to say my husband and my parents? All 3 of them are the most generous, thoughtful people I know! They desire to help others and put others before themselves. Such great role models!

Favorite Pins Friday July 12

I am having a BLAST looking at everyone's pins from The First Grade Parade's linky party! My poor pinterest boards are going to die of exhaustion at this rate!

Here are my contributions to the pinning world this week:
1. 101 websites that every elementary teacher should know about. There are some great ones here!
Wheel of Fame TV Game Shows Plays Like Wheel of Fortune
 2. Mystery walker. Here's the blurb from the pin: "FUN Hallway Behavior Management Idea. Before you leave the classroom pick a chip with a students name but don't tell who it is. They are the mystery walker and you are watching that student the entire time. If they do a good job in the hall, they get a ticket or prize."



3. This number chart provides a lot of models for each number.

All about numbers chart

I could keep going, but I'm heading to my classroom today. It's my new room at my new school, so there's no telling what's happening in there. Plus I have tons of boxes from my old school that I would love to get out of my house (my hubby would like that, too, I'm sure!).
Before I go, I'm thankful for the people who have nominated me for a Liebster Award! I look forward to reading your posts and answering your questions when I get back from school. Thanks for thinking of me!!! 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Dad's on Pinterest...apocalypse soon!

I'm linking up with Amy at 24/7 Teacher for her first linky party sharing fun summer news. And boy do I have big news...

My dad is on Pinterest!!!!! The man who won't join facebook and has a cell phone that literally only makes calls is downstairs pinning away as we speak. I LOVE IT! I knew he would like it if he tried it, but he wasn't going to try it without a little push. So when I came to visit my parents this week, I gave him the shove into hopeless addiction we all know so well.  =)
Funny Pinterest joke... For the best funnies and daily jokes visit
***THIS JUST IN: My 91 year old grandmother just sent an email!! What is going on?!?!?!

In other random bloggy news:
You know how bloggers leave comments with their links at the bottom all nice and neat? I wondered "How do they do that?" so I asked my real life BFF Melissa at Don't Let the Teacher Stay Up Late. Click the pic for a link to her blog if you'd like to know how to put your blog link in a comment.
Don't Let the Teacher Stay Up Late
It involves html codes which makes me feel like a total computer whiz! I post this because I accidentally deleted the post-it note that had the html code for my link, so I had to surf through Melissa's old blog posts to get it again (that made me feel less computer whiz-y). I thought, "While I'm here, let me re-post this for anyone who needs this info." Hope it helps!