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 (: