Saturday, December 27, 2014

Perfect Classroom Painting

Crafty season is here! I am sorry I have been missing in action the past week or so but I have been making Christmas crafts galore for my school's Holiday Bazaar and the busy holiday season was in full swing! It went well and I had an awesome time making different things but now it's back to the digital world. I like to think that sometimes I am pretty creative and I love anything artsy. Acting, dancing, singing (not good at all), drawing and painting are definitely things I enjoy. I try to bring these into my teaching whenever possible. Sometimes it is much easier to fit them in than others but my students love art so I try my best. Recently I have been trying to paint more in class. This is easier said than done. My students love to paint but there is always the inevitable after-art mess. Here are two tips I have learned over the past few years that I'd love to share:

1. Keep your paint in ice cube trays. No, don't keep them in the freezer. Ice cube trays make the perfect paint holders! I use water color paint and I like to alternate spots so that the different colors aren't so close together.

The spaces are deep so it is hard for the students to mix the colors (unless they're trying to). They are also very easy to stack. When the students are done, I just stack the trays on top of each other. When I want to use them again, I just pass them out. The students add a little water and POOF the paint comes back to life!

2. Ask each student to bring in an old shirt. You can do this by sending home a separate note or by writing it on your class' newsletter. The bigger the shirt the better. I always tell my students to bring in one of their parent's shirts or older brother or sister's shirt (these cover more of their clothes). Make sure they (or you) write their name in their shirt. I keep them in my room and whenever we paint they put their shirt on. This keeps their clothes SO much cleaner. I have yet to get an angry note from a parent about their child's dirty clothes. I keep the shirts until the end of the year, wash them, and then send them home. Normally I ask for these at the beginning of the year but you can do it any time.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Holiday Love

With all of the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, we tend to forget those who are far away from their loved ones, risking their lives every day. I saw a video today that touched my heart:

I had heard of the types of places that soldiers lived in over seas but had never actually seen any. I have to say it was eye opening. Any love that you can send a soldiers way this holiday season would be sure to brighten their day. If you have a child or are a teacher, please consider making a Safe Buddy for a soldier this holiday season. It is quick, easy, and free to make and will hopefully be something that each soldier keeps close to them at all times. Instructions that tell you what to do and where to send your buddies are included. My students love making these for the soldiers and they keep asking me if they can make more! A little love can go a long way (: Share your love this season!

Download for FREE here:

Don't have TPT? Download Here:

There are several pages with this download to give you tons of different options. Do not print the whole thing! There is a section for teachers and a section for parents. Find your section and print the pages you want (: 

Share this with anyone who has kids, teaches, or just wants to send some love! How many soldiers do you think we can reach this holiday season?


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Super Cyber Savings

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday! Hopefully you were able to spend some time with you family and not just in line at the stores. Black Friday may be over but Cyber Monday is right around the corner and online prices are dropping low. With that in mind, I am having a Super Cyber Savings Sale!


Some of my favorites are: 

*Includes: calendar set, locker tags, hall passes, group work badges, classroom helpers sign and badges, notebook/folder subject labels (and editable labels), expert shoe tiers sign, 10's 20's 100's club signs, owl name plates (not chevron).
Regular - $7   Sale - $5.60

* Tons of fun candy activities for every subject! Satisfies Common Core standards.
Regular - $5   Sale - $4

*Fun character and setting chant with puppet cards, lesson plans, worksheets, and an assessment.
Regular - $3   Sale -$2.40

* Spelling Test templates for each month. Comes in dotted lines, regular lines, and bonus spelling sentences.
Regular -  $2   Sale - $1.60

These are just a few of my favorites. However, EVERYTHING is on SALE. So check it out! Have a great week and happy shopping (: 


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Addition Boxes

Addition is on every first grade teacher's mind as all we hear about is, "They need to be fluent with their math facts NOW." I use these addition boxes for centers or as an early finisher activity. They are easy to make and they love to "play" with them. They can write their facts on a separate piece of paper or use a dry erase marker on the lid. The super recycler that I am kept all of these boxes from when my son used to eat baby food. I knew I'd use them one day! You don't have to use these boxes though, any small clear box will do.
small clear boxes, permanent marker, dice, hot glue

First, flip the lid over. Then, write the base for the addition sentence backwards like this:

So when you flip it over it looks like this: 
(I put the writing on the inside of the box so it doesn't wear off)

Then, add some dice to the box and some hot glue around the rim.

After that, stick the lid on while the glue is hot. And POOF it is done!
You can also do this for adding three numbers together too.

These boxes are great for fact practice. No more running around the room for roll-away dice. Thank goodness! If you don't have any of these boxes, you can use ones from the dollar store or send a note home to your parents. Someone is sure to have a baby at home and would probably be happy to send them your way! Hope you're having a great cold day (: 


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Operation Safe Buddy

*Everything you need to make Safe Buddy for a solider ... and more!

(a non-TPT download is available below)

A few weeks ago I saw this story on Facebook and honestly I cried. I thought it was so sweet of a small girl to give a soldier her stuffed fish (Chester) to keep him safe. As Veteran's Day rolled around, I really wanted to do something for these men and women who risk their lives and spend large amounts of time away from home.

First, I was just going to have my students write letters:


Then, I decided that a poster of handprint flags would be nice:

Finally, I realized that there was no reason why we couldn't make buddies for the soldiers like Chester. I gave each of my students a small person outline and had them draw a happy buddy for a soldier. After that, I had them glue it to the blank side of a note card.

Then, I wrote this on the board for them to copy onto the template I made: This is Safe Buddy. I made him/her to keep you safe when you are fighting bad guys. Love, (their name). Then, they wrote their own little message on the P.S. line. Having them write this on their own made them more personal but I also have pre-made cards for those who can't.

I looked up where to send these items and found Operation Gratitude. They said to be sure that the students only write their first name and have the address of the school on everything you send. I found all of the information I needed here: Operation Gratitude  After I added the address and the school year to all of the buddies and letters, I laminated everything. I was so excited about the Safe Buddy idea that I made a whole pack (for all ages) of Safe Buddy people, notecard templates, letter templates, teacher ideas and information. I really think the soldiers would love to have these little Safe Buddies tucked in their pockets to make them smile. I would LOVE it if any of you reading this would have your students make Safe Buddies for soldiers. They don't take very long to make and I know it would brighten their day!

This is where I sent our package: 

Operation Gratitude
CA Army National Guard
Deployed Troops
Attn: Angel Cuevas
17330 Victory Blvd
Van Nuys, CA 91406

More information can be found on the Operation Gratitude site. 

Please share this with others so that our soldiers can have a little love away from home! My class is going to try to make more buddies at the beginning of each month so that we will send out over 100 this year.

Please leave a comment if you like this idea, have any other ideas, or have any questions (: 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Fun with Candy!

Candy here, candy there, candy is absolutely everywhere! I said candy was coming and I couldn't disappoint (even though that meant staying up until 5am!) The Common Core Candy Activity Pack is finally here. We have had so much fun with these activities the past few weeks. They keep asking when we are going to do another one. After a week of fun, we finally finished our Safe Candy Creations. The students were given a problem: There is a candy thief taking your candy at night. Design something that will keep the intruder out but let you get in. They came up with some great designs:


We talked a lot about the importance of testing your inventions. Once they tested them, a lot of my students realized that theirs didn't work. This was a great chance to talk about the importance of failure. We discussed how their invention not working was a good thing and that instead of getting upset, they needed to focus on finding a solution. It was very cool to see all of the wheels turning in their heads.

We also made our candy landforms this week. This was a load of fun too. We spent the early part of the week learning about landforms and yesterday we finally got to build them. I gave them Starbursts to use so it was easy to mold (Tootsie Rolls, Airheads, and Laffy Taffy also work great). Here are some of the landforms:


I gave everyone a baggie and let them take their landforms home. I can't wait to do the Treat Trade activity next week to practice their sight words! All of these activities and worksheets are in my Common Core Candy Activity Pack. 

Don't forget that it will be 50% for the first 72 hours!

Check it out here: 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Coming Soon...

I hope everyone had a wonderful Halloween night full of tricks and candy treats! We got to go trick-or-treating for the first time with my son and I loved every minute of it. With all of that trick-or-treating, trunk-or-treating, and parties, you must be swimming in massive amounts of candy! Oh what to do, what to do with all of that sweet, sugary candy? I know I don't want my own kid to eat that much candy. Sure, my husband and I will be eating some but really, how much can a person eat? I decided I wanted to use it at school and not just for my students to eat. They love candy and everything about it, so I knew this would be a great way to keep them engaged in anything I wanted to teach them. I'm working on a whole Common Core Candy Activity Pack that will be sure to please! Here are some of the activities I've done with my students already:

Smarty Pants:
They used Smarties to make their very own Smarty Pants! First they used Smarties to make their pants. Then they filled in their data. After that, they used the data to fill in the graph. For the white they just wrote the number of white Smarties they used. 

Monty the Monster:
I wrote a cute story called Monty the Monster that we read. Then, they were asked what they thought Monty looked like. They made him out of candy on their Monster Mat and drew a picture of him on their sheet. Then, they had to write if they would like Monty as their pet and describe why or why not. Here are some examples:

Nerdy Place Value:
We also had some fun with Nerds this week. Everyone got a box of Nerds and filled in their tens frames while we listened to music. Then we counted our tens and ones to find out how many Nerds were in our box. 

* I have changed this one to include a space for hundreds at the bottom since most of the boxes had over 100 Nerds. There is also a space at the top for the students to put a few Nerds for them to eat when they are done.

My students absolutely loved doing these activities! These are just a few of the activities in the Candy Pack. There are STEM projects, Quiz,Quiz,Trade games with sight word cards for grades PreK-3, Doubles and Doubles plus one fact cards, Cardinal Directions Treasure Hunt, persuasive writing, MadLibs and more! 

I have decided to start something new with the release of this product. The first 72 hours after this product is released, it will be 50% off! Make sure you follow me on Facebook or TPT by clicking the green star under my name so you know when this product comes out so you don't miss the sale. It won't be long now, keep an eye out next weekend for this awesome treat!


Friday, October 24, 2014

Fall Loomy Sale!

In the spirit of fall, I felt like I was over due for a good old fashioned sale. The prices of my Loomy Bracelet worksheets are definitely falling this weekend! Buy each Loomy set for only $1 or buy all three for $3. These bracelets are so much fun! My students love making them. I love using them for centers. They are also great for indoor recess. Some people have been hesitant about trying these because they think they will take too much time. I would be lying if I said the students can make them in 5 seconds. However, they don't take that long to make. The first time we made one it took between 10-20 minutes to make. Now it takes about 5-15 minutes for them to make it, and I teach first graders! Some have become "experts" and they go around and help anyone who needs it. They really help each other out and are so excited when their bracelet is complete. Even if they don't finish making them in time, I just give them a baggie and they ask to finish them at recess or take them home. The more they make them, the faster they are. Try out the FREE Loomy Bracelets too. But don't forget, the sale is only for Saturday and Sunday! Have a wonderful fall weekend!


Friday, October 17, 2014

Lost and Found - Repair Shop

Every year I try a few new things. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. This year I tried two new things that I absolutely love. The first one is having a Lost and Found box in my room.

I saw it on Pinterest and I knew I had to try it. I have to say that it is wonderful addition to my classroom. My students find things on the floor or around the room and if they don't know whose it is, they just put it in the Lost and Found box. If someone is missing something, they just go look for it in the box. This has cut down on so many small disruptions where students are asking whose things are and then holding it up for someone to identify it. It's quick, easy, and doesn't take up much room. It's definitely a must-have in your classroom!

The second thing I tried this year is something I saw in my best friend Andrea's classroom. She had a repair shop box in her room.

I was intrigued and I asked her about it. She said that whenever a student breaks something or rips a page in a book etc., they put it in the repair shop box for her to fix it. This is also a great addition to the classroom. Whenever anything breaks or gets ripped. I just tell them to put it in the repair shop and I fix it later. It's great! I always love less classroom disruptions and these additions have definitely helped with that. Just some fun ideas for today. Happy day off to all of the Marylanders!


Friday, October 10, 2014

Saving Sunflowers

So, "resourceful recycling" me saw some sunflowers the other day in the mailbox room. I have forever wanted sunflowers for my students to use when we learn about flowers and seeds so I was jumping on this opportunity. There were six of them which was perfect because that lets me have one for each group and then one for me to use as a model. The question was: How do I save these? I'm not teaching plants until the Spring but I have seen people use dry ones from year to year so I knew it could be done. All I've ever heard about drying flowers is to hang them upside down. Awesome! Wait. Where? How? I searched the room high and low and this is what I did:

I just opened a paper clip to make an S. Then I stuck one end through the stem (close to the head of the flower). After that, I hung the other end of the paper clips along some beads that I already had in my room. Perfecto! All of them hanging up nicely without taking up any extra space: 

Now I'm no expert so I have no idea if this is actually going to work. Only time will tell. In theory, I like to think this will work. In a few weeks, I will post the progress of these beauties and hopefully all will be well in the land of flower drying. If you have any tips or ideas for drying flowers please let me know! I can't wait to use these in the Spring (: 


*10/21/14 - Sunflower Update*

Just FYI the sunflowers did dry this way. Over a few days, I came in to tons of pollen on the floor. This morning I came in and found about 60 tiny worms all over my easel. I almost had a heart attack! They were everywhere! So, while I learned that hanging them upside down like this does in fact dry them, next time I will be sure to do this outside. You never know when stealthy little worms are hiding in your sunflowers!


Saturday, October 4, 2014

Character and Setting Song

Over the years I have noticed that almost all children in first grade love songs. Not only do they love them, but they remember them better than anything else! I have come up with tons of quick little chants to use in my class that my students sing to help them remember key ideas. I do this for phonics, reading skills, math, and even science. I try to make them short and sweet. Before this year, I never video taped myself doing them. While I am aware that I look somewhat dorky while I do it in class, it is a whole different thing to see your dorkyness on camera! I'm just trying to say whatever to that fact and hope that the chants help someone else's students which would make it all worth it. With all of that being said, I have made a video for my character and setting chant. I am aware of my specialness in this video and had to include my super specialness in the ending (: My students love this chant and we sing it whenever we talk about character and setting. They start to sing it on their own when they hear the words character or setting. Not only did I make this video, I thought it would be good to have some resources to go with it. I have several different character cards (boy, girl, cat, dog, bunny, pig) as well as setting cards (house, outside, underwater, castle, zoo, carnival) for the students to use while they chant along with the video. I have also written 4 days of lesson plans and made materials to go with those plans like posters, chant cards, journal cut-outs, worksheets, and an assessment (with answer keys). I'm hoping my little chants and activities can help your students learn and remember character and setting! I'd love to know if you found this useful (: Over and out.

Get the video pack with cards, lesson plans, activities, worksheets, and assessments
Video Pack HERE


Friday, September 26, 2014

Calendar Placemats

Free food for all! No, I'm not kidding! In the county I work in, this is actually true. All of the students in our school are provided with free breakfast and free lunch (if they would like it), how about them apples? Since everyone gets free breakfast, a breakfast bag is delivered to each classroom with milk, juice, and breakfast of some kind. The students are offered a host of delicious items. They get cereal, an egg and sausage breakfast pizza, yogurt and granola, or even french toast for breakfast. So, you might be thinking, how does this work? Everyone comes to class in the morning, unpacks, and then is able to take one of each item back to their desk. As you can imagine, this tends to turn their desks into a big sticky mess! This year I tried to combat this by making calendar place mats. I hate throwing old calendars away because I love tropical calendars and the pictures are just too pretty to throw away. I have actually framed a bunch of these and hung them up in my classroom. However, this year I decided to turn them into place mats. The students just get their breakfast and a place mat in the morning. They throw everything away and shake their mat into the trash can. Their desks are SO much cleaner! You don't only have to use these for breakfast, you can use them to help students with personal space during group work, or even at home if you have a little one!

They were really easy to make. All I did was cut the pictures off of the calendar, laminate the pictures, and then cut them out. Poof! 12 brand new place mats. They look like this:

Now I have to say that if you are using an old calendar, make sure there isn't anything inappropriate written in the calendar anywhere. Not that there would be but you might want to white-out that OBGYN appointment! Just a thought (:

I only had one used calendar so I had to buy another one so that there were enough place mats for each of my students to have one. Any dollar store is GREAT for this! One dollar, 12 place mats. I think that's a good deal (:  I got a Sponge Bob calendar because I know how much my students love him.


Well, that's all for today. I hope this is something you can use too! If you have any other ideas of how to use these place mats, leave a comment below! Over and out.


Friday, September 19, 2014

Seasonal Spelling

Hooray for spelling! While I may not be the best speller in the world, I am quick to admit it and I always have my trusty dictionary nearby. This year is the first year that my students have spelling words and they are super excited. We learn the phonics skill in class and practice it in small groups. I can tell who is also studying their words at home! A spelling test every Friday stinks but I truly believe that it helps them to become better spellers in the long run. Last year, I used the same old boring spelling paper all year long because it was the only one I could find with dotted lines. This year I decided to make my own! They all have cute little clip art to go with each month. It's way better than what I was using and my students love it! Take a gander and see what I mean:

All of them are blackline so they are super easy to print! Happy Spelling!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Teaching Taste for Dummies

This year my family is definitely on a budget (understatement). With that being said, I refuse to sacrifice good classroom activities because of this. So, my mission this year is to come up with activities that are just as fun and engaging as my old activities but don't put a dent in my wallet at the same time! Teaching the sense of taste is one of those normally semi-costly activities. However, this year I have come up with an activity that is just as fun (if not more than before) and a whole lot cheaper! Not only is my new activity cheaper but it is safe for peanut allergy students too. 

This year I decided to try a Skittles taste test. First I numbered four cups 1-4: 

Then, I sorted my Skittles into four flavors (sort enough for each student to have one skittle) like this: 

After that, I gave each of my students a taste recording sheet. 

You can get it here for FREE:

Next, I told my students that were going to be given a Skittle and it was their job to figure out what flavor I am giving them. First, I told them to close their eyes and put one hand out in front of them (ask them to make their hand into a cup so the Skittle won't roll out). Then, I told them that once they got their Skittle they should put it right into their mouth but to keep their eyes closed until I told them they could open them. I told them they could open their eyes once I passed out one to everyone and they had all put it in their mouth. You might be thinking, "Yeah right! My students would never keep their eyes closed." Au contraire, I told them that if they opened their eyes and were peeking then they wouldn't be able to taste any more of their treats. If I caught anyone peeking, then they didn't get any more Skittles. You better believe their eyes were closed tighter than a Chinese finger trap! This activity was so much fun. All of the students loved playing detective! The only thing I would do different is I would go over each flavor after they tasted it. For example, I would give everyone the Skittle, have them taste it, draw it and write the word. After that, I would give them all a chance to guess the flavor and then unveil the mystery taste. Today I let them try and draw all of the flavors first and then tried to unveil each one but they didn't remember what they wrote or what the flavor was. They still enjoyed it but next time I would just have them guess and unveil each flavor right after they tasted it. I hope you can use this in your classroom too and keep a little extra cash in your pocket!


Monday, September 8, 2014

Hands Up!

          My class this year is a wonderful group of students who are nice, kind, and considerate to each other. Most of them were in the same class last year and their previous teacher Ms. Kinhart did a wonderful job helping them to become polite first graders! They constantly say please, thank you, and excuse me. It is music to my ears! There is only one thing that we have a little bit of trouble with at times and that is the whole raising your hand situation. I am so glad that everyone wants to share however, it is hard for me to listen to everyone when they are sharing on top of each other or are simply calling out. I found this video from good old Sesame Street and I LOVE it!

 It's a great song about raising your hand and it's even good for older students too. I love the doo wop undertone in this song! I grew up with Sesame Street so it will always have a place in my heart. Thanks Sesame Street for this wonderful classroom treat!


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Short A is for Awesome!

We ease our students into first grade with two weeks of the short a sound. This week however, my students are in for a treat. So far, they love making the loomy bracelets. I finally finished making my short vowel loomy pack so this week they get to do it at their Reading Fun center! I think I'm going to use the Word Hunt one, though the Word Families ones could be used as a class.  Most of them are pretty good at making the bracelets on their own. However, a few are still having a little trouble. Having them do it during centers time should work like a charm! Those who are having trouble will have another student there to help them out. They can work as a team so that each of them has a bracelet. They love to show them off to their friends (:

They love to wear them and it lets them see and practice those words when their mind starts to wander at other points in the day. I love it when they play with these at lunch or recess! If they start to play with them otherwise, have them gently roll it across their hand to get it off and then put it in their backpack.

To check it out, click on the link below and take a gander at the preview. Tons of fun!

Short vowels are coming to town for the next few weeks. Have something fun for your students to do! Let me know what your students think of these! 


Friday, September 5, 2014

Smelly Fun!

This week I have been teaching the five senses in Science. There are so many different activities to use but several of them cost a lot of money and take a while to set up. Not only that, but they aren't reusable from year to year. I have come up with an easy, cheap activity for teaching the sense of smell. I take 5 paper plates (or one for each group or partner) and I draw lines to cut it into four sections. Then I label the sections like this:

Then I use a smelly marker to color different colors (smells) into each section of the plate.

Then I use a black magic marker or dry erase marker to draw on top of each smell. Sometimes I go back over each black section with the smelly marker to make sure the smell is strong.

Every table passes their plate and each person smells each section. I have them draw a picture or write the word to describe the smell in each section. Then we do the GRAND REVEAL! I let them all smell the first section again and have them tell me what they think the smell is. We reveal the smell on the board and do the same for the other three smells.

The students love smelling the "mystery smells" and are always excited during the grand reveal! The best part about this activity is that when we are done, I simply put the plates back into my Five Senses file and save them for next year. When the next year comes around, I simply use a smelly marker to go back over each section (make sure you have the reveal plate so you know which section is which) and the activity is ready in a flash!

 I use it every year because it is a cheap and fun way to teach the sense of smell. Let me know what you think! I hope the start of your year is going well (: