Thursday, July 31, 2014

Writing Center: The Creation Station

Okay, here we go people... I cannot wait to get back into my classroom (it is being cleaned right now) to set up one of my writing center areas for this coming year!

Everything in this post is 20% off in my TPT store until midnight on August 1st!
Plus, there are many FREEBIEs embedded in the post itself!
My goal in putting together this center is to have a place where kids can go to CREATE! Kids will have the opportunity to go to the Creation Station once a week as part of our Daily 5: Work on Writing and they can make cards, postcards, letters, and lists. As the school year goes on, I hope to find other fun seasonal writing activities to feature at the center.
Here's what I created to hang above the wooden desk where I will have the center.
At the center, I plan to have fun writing supplies and various writing tools throughout the year.
star tins from {Target}
I also picked up a great set of seasonal word helpers... We will feature "Words of the Month" at the creation station for kids to use in their writing.
Grab your own set of A Year of Words from Renee Dooly's TPT Store. There are lots of other things that I plan to do with her word cards... these long ones (featured in the pink basket) are perfect for our creation station.
Okay, so our three YEARLONG activities at the Creation Station will be
I created sets of materials on TPT for each of these forms of writing with different writing paper, lists, etc that correspond to each month of the school year.
Here is a FREEBIE that combines the September portions of each of the three types of writing. If you like what you see, please consider buying the YEARLONG sets of each!
Here is what the
will look like:

my example
In my experience, first graders LOVE making lists. When we do Work on Writing and they are working on "journal writing," kids are always writing lists of the things that they like to do, the people in their family, their friends at school... and I am always telling them to "add more detail" or "tell me more about those things." Now, I will always encourage them to add more details into their journaling and descriptive writing, but I figure... WHY NOT give them the opportunity to make lists in a productive, organized way!!
Each month, there will be new rings of list topics at the creation station. For every month, I created 17 little task cards (+1 monthly cover page... hence the odd number of 17 task cards). Some of the list topics will be themed for the given month and others will be more generic.
I picked up these cute baskets from the Dollar Tree to hold the task cards.

There is also a variety of list writing paper with a new border for each month. In this file organizer, I have two of the list making sheets on the top shelf and on the lower shelves, I put our two featured letter writing sheets for September (more later about that)!

Click the picture below if you are interested in my complete set of list writing centers.

Here is what the
will look like:

my example
This is a totally new idea for me, POSTCARDS.
 I think it is a great, quick way to get kids writing and it's not overwhelming for your emergent writers!

Back to School themed postcard
 Each month, we will have new postcards in the writing center that are themed to the month.

Again, I couldn't pass up these awesome baskets....

Click the picture below if you are interested in my complete set of postcard centers.

Here is what the
will look like:

my example
During our free choice time on Fridays, my kiddos are always writing notes and letters to their friends and family members. Each month, we will have new letter writing paper in the center.

I also hope to get more letter writing resources for the creation station. Leave a comment if you have any great letter writing resources for my kiddos to use!

Click the picture below if you are interested in my complete set of letter writing centers.

I hope that you enjoy this post about our CREATION STATION! I cannot wait to see it in action this fall!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Writing Center: Here We Come!

Okay so I NEED to get my work on writing time REVAMPED for the upcoming school year. For the past two years, my Daily 5 Work on Writing time has consisted of journal writing, journal writing, and more journal writing. (We do have a writers' workshop in the afternoon during which time we do more formal writing projects). All I have to say is that in my experience, journal writing becomes boring and a chore to kids after about the first month of school.
This year, I AM DETERMINED to get my kiddos excited about Work on Writing time! And what I need is WRITING CENTERS! I am going to have 5 different writing "centers" that students will rotate to throughout the week. ALL of these centers are a work in progress right now.

1. THE WRITING CENTER EXTRAORDINAIRE: list making, letter writing, card making, postcards, etc. My goal here is to have tons of fun writing materials and options for kids to "play" with writing and have free time to create!

2. Writing Portfolio Work: Each week, I am going to have a writing prompt that students complete. We will stress "best" writing at this center and all of their writing will go into their special writing binder so that we can look back at the kiddos' writing throughout the year. Perfect of assessing as well! :)

3. Writing Puzzles: A variety of different sentence building activities that we will complete throughout the school year.

4. Story Writing Center: A center with story starters, mini books, and materials that kids need to write their own stories.

5. Handwriting practice- My first grade team makes handwriting books for kids to practice letter formation. I will also have various handwriting activities that are a little more interactive.
Today, I made a trip to the Dollar Tree and Michaels Craft Store to get some initial WRITING CENTER EXTRAORDINAIRE materials:
{letter writing stationary}
 {Minnie Mouse and Ninja Turtle markers}
{sparkly pencils}
 {apple erasers}
The first materials that I just completed is my
Click the picture to access my TPT store.
In this writing center pack, I created list-making task cards for each month of the school year and a set of list making paper for each month.
Total of 160 cards and 9 different list making paper options.
I already printed and laminated 5 sets of my September list making cards and I have them ready to go in a basket for my writing center! Can't wait for the kids to use!
On to making my next items for my WRITING CENTER EXTRAORDINAIRE!
Check back for more writing center ideas and freebies!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Organization Anxiety!

Okay, so this next school year will be my third year of teaching and I always try to be as organized as possible. I felt like the last two years, I didn't always know what I would need when, how to map out the curriculum, and what documents would be useful to have handy in a teacher binder. I've tried different things and I feel like going into this year, I am waaaaay more prepared.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have been drooling over all of the AMAZING teacher planners that exist out there on the internet.... They are gorgeous and have SOOOOO many great ideas in them. However, I just can't get myself to spend between $50 - $100 on a planner when I would need to order a new one for next year... and the year after... Agh I've been having this little battle with myself over them and I decided that I needed to just put together my own teacher binder.
I've been searching Instagram, Pinterest, and Teachers Pay Teachers for examples of teacher binders and I've been looking at the types of organization sheets that may be useful to me. I started creating my own sheets and putting them together in a fun colorful binder from Target ($5.00).
My goal is always to use as little color ink as possible from my printer so my pages are almost entirely black & white. I printed many of my pages on white or colored cardstock to give the binder a little more pizzazz.
During the process of creating these sheets, I've posted a few photos on Instagram and several people were interested in what I was creating. I figured.... I can't be the only teacher who wants a fabulous teacher planner but doesn't want to pay over $50.00 for it.
Therefore, all of my teacher organization sheets are FREE and always will be FREE in my TPT store.
If you like what you see, please leave feedback in my TPT store. I will continually update this product on TPT as I add more pages to it so follow my store if you want to receive product updates!
Take a peek at my binder pages below!
Cover sheet
In my Year at a Glance section, I broke down each week into subjects and organized that major topics that I want to focus on that week... these are NOT my lesson plans, but rather, a tool to help me lesson plan more efficiently. It also helps me to be certain that I met all of the Common Core Standards throughout the school year.
Blank calendar pages to insert meetings, important dates, etc.
There are many pages included in the pack that are not featured here... This is just a sneak peek. Head over to my TPT store for download your own set for free!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Insect Math Centers... Flash Freebie!

FLASH FREEBIE... Insect Math Centers are FREE in my TPT store until midnight tonight!
(After tonight, they will be $4.00)
So excited to have my insect math centers completed and up on TPT today! Needed something simple for the beginning of the year as students are getting used to our math workshop routine. I always want the kids to be moving/ manipulating numbers and using math materials... Keeps them engaged! I also like to have a way to hold them accountable for their learning and to assess them after the fact! Each of my centers has a recording sheet for students to complete along with the center.
Here's a peek at my Insect Math Centers below!
Sequencing Numbers 1-30
Counting by 5's
Equivalent Names for Numbers
Number Sort
Not pictured here....  Filling in the missing numbers on a number line.
.....because I ran out of white cardstock AAAND color ink in my printer today.
Enjoy tonight for FREE... please leave feedback in my TPT store!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Summer School Wrap Up... I Want My Firsties Back!

So I'm breathing a little sigh of relief today... I have been teaching summer school for the last three weeks with 3-5 grade students and today was our last day. I enjoyed the change from my firsties but I totally can't wait to be with first graders again this school year! I miss my little kiddos who get excited about getting to use markers or picking a "special" spot in the room! My experience in summer school totally reaffirmed my LOVE for FIRST GRADE!
Alright, now that I got that off my chest... I've been working on some Insect Math Centers for the beginning of the school year. My goal is always to make them interactive with some sort of manipulatives or cards for the kids to use... but I also want them to be responsible for their work. Therefore, I always try to include a small recording sheet with the center for me to assess them on!
Here's a FREEBIE of one of my math centers, BEE a Math Rockstar!
The goal is to order cards with numbers 1-30 and record the numbers.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Day of Motivation!

For the last two weeks, I have been wanting to re-create my letter headings for my word wall and I finally got up the motivation today. Consonants in green and vowels in purple! Found a great idea on Pinterest to hang ribbon down from each letter to staple the words to. Can't wait to get it up in my room! Here's a freebie copy of my letters if you would like to make your own! (the blank circle is what I used to trace on cardstock for my borders)

I also made it to Big Lots and the Learning Shop today! Love both of those places! Got some new borders and some guided reading texts (on clearance!). I have been accumulating multiple copies of books for the past two years to use as guided reading books and they have been sitting in random piles, shoved on bookshelves and carts, etc. I am excited to finally have some big baskets to organize them in on my counter. Take a peek at my baskets from Big Lots and pick up my labels here if you are interested!!

Now that I've done a little organizing today, I'M HOOKED.... going to do some paper organization tonight! Need to put together a "teacher binder" for the next year!

PLEASE COMMENT with things that you CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT in your teacher binder! I'm always looking for new organization ideas!!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Wish List Wednesday!

Today, I am inspired by Owl-ways Be Inspired for Wish List Wednesday!
My most wish listed item on TPT is on sale for 20% off today through Friday, July 4!


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Summer Update!

OH MY GOSH... Somehow it is already July and I have completely lost track of time and apparently, I took an unplanned hiatus from blogging. The end of the school year just got SOOO busy... as I'm sure that you can all relate to and then my husband and I spent the first two weeks of summer prepping to move into our first home! (UPDATE below!) Well, I am back to blogging and ready for a little update!


For the end of the school year, I wanted to send my students off to summer vacation with fun first grade memories and some activities to keep their minds busy over the summer! I decided to put everything into a sand bucket for the kids to keep and they LOVED it and I loved putting it together.

Prepping the summer buckets on the eve of the last day of school!
The buckets included:
-our class DVD-
-my summer learning packet- see previous post-
-a new book to take home-
-school yearbook-
-anything in our classroom that had students' names on it-
-sidewalk chalk-

The Summer Learning Packet:

The finished buckets... ready for the last day of school!
Okay, so this is not teaching related, but my husband and I just bought our first home... a colonial two-story with a great layout... but definitely in need of a little TLC. I have spent the past two weeks covered in paint and other cleaning supplies (I can't complain though because we had LOTS of family members come and help paint!). We also had all of the flooring replaced as well, which was soooo fun to pick out and it was exciting to see it all come together! We are now moved in (still organizing) and I am LOVING it! Still many more projects to do! Here's a few photos!
Our fireplace mantle in the family room

Our lower bath
Our kitchen... love that little piggy!
Now that the moving craziness is over, I've been sitting down to re-create our first grade spelling/word work/homework. As a first grade team, we have really been re-vamping our spelling expectations. Each week, students have some word family words based on a vowel pattern and some sight words from the Dolch word lists that are the focus for the word work that week. We do send home spelling homework which includes...
-cover sheet with words-
-write it three times-
-write a super sentence-
and recently added:
-ABC order-
-sort your words-

Take a peek at our Short A Word Lists FREEBIE including Dolch sight words (two weeks of spelling). If you are interested in more word lists, I have already finalized all of our short vowel lists which take us through December and include all of the words on the Pre-Primer Dolch list. If you like what you see, please become a follower of my blog and I will send you the rest of the lists for FREE! Email me at Enjoy! (If you are already following me... simply email me and I will send them to you!)
We use the Daily 5 structure at our school so word practice happens during our word work time. Here are some of my previous posts about word work- lots of interactive ideas!. Another thing that is included in our spelling list pack is a set of "word cards" that my students use during Daily 5 word work. The cards are laminated and have the spelling words for the week. Students take the list to their work spot in the room and don't have to scan the room to find the words (for example- if they are on the board)- they have the words right on this card! The photo below shows an example of one of the cards!

Feeling great after organizing our spelling... onto the Long Vowel spelling lists!
Loving summer vacation in our new house...
sleeping in... homemade breakfasts (oatmeal brulee and yogurt)! Feeling like a lucky girl right now!