Wednesday, August 29, 2012


OK, I have survived 3 days of Kindergarten.  We've been SUPER busy! 
Nursery rhymes, the letter M, Plane Shapes, 

Of course we had to read the Pete books...and we made Fran's headbands!

 and look what I found at the Dollar Tree to use for the headbands!!

Humpty Dumpty (thank you, Jada!)

 Plane shape brainstorming, circle is the only one I took a picture of!

 Letter M brainstorming:

We made "M"uffins (like Leslie Ann's cupcakes!)

 and "M"ice:
 and finally, here is Jada's frame I borrowed for the first day of Kindergarten with me!

Who knew 5 year olds could keep you so busy??? 
(the answer: anyone who has ever taught Kindergarten!!!)

Monday, August 27, 2012

This is it!

The day that this:

becomes this:
Got this idea from DoodleBugs Teaching!
Wish me luck!!

*and as a side note, I got some of the K desks moved up (I was short a bunch) and some of them had the K kids' names on them.  Not a problem, except that they didn't match mine and that some of them had already started to peel up.  They are the kind that are self adhesive.  I had been on the fence about trying them myself...and after attempting to remove them last night -I know I won't be trying them any time soon. I have removed clear packing tape, the clear pockets, various other name plate variations over the years and NONE were harder to remove than these buggers.  Sure the edges or corners peeled up neatly...but then it went terribly wrong.  It took Goo Gone and a scraper to A LOT of elbow grease!! Not my idea of a fun weekend =)

I will be sticking to the velcro dot idea I got from Lindsey over at the Teacher Wife now for sure!!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Do what?

You all remember how I was super excited to share that I only had 13 kiddos?
Well, Karma came knocking and bit me in the proverbial buttocks.

Because of the high numbers in Kindergarten someone needed to move to Kindergarten.
That someone turns out to be me.
...Do what?
It is fine, really.  Everything will be fine. It will be good.  I mean, I volunteered to do it, for goodness sake!  It is a good thing.

 I am just feeling a little overwhelmed about saying goodbye to  my current class...removing all their names, pictures, etc. and then starting over to welcome a new class of Kinders.  DO you have any idea how much work that will be?  Yes, you do =)
And not to mention I haven't taught K since 1998-99.   
I am not even really sure where to start, and the fact that it is just for one year sort of makes me not want to invest a ton of time and money into stuff.
But it will be fine,  it will be great.

Plus, you may have noticed that my blog got a little makeover!
It is different, but not too different, kwim?
It's by DreamLike Magic (*love*) courtesy of a giveaway from Kindergarten Korner (*love*) 
Thank you Sarah and Alicia!!
For those of you reading on google reader, here is a peek at the new look:

I also got new buttons for the side:

So I have been working nonstop to get my room ready for Monday morning when my 17 new Kinders arrive and my 13 "week-old" firsties forget and come to my room by mistake.  Right now I need to go to school and work, so hugs and happy weekend to all of you!!!  

(serenity now, serenity now!!! ...for all you Seinfeld Fans out there!!)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

First Day

First Day...I mean, days.

Don't have a lot of pictures to share  ( did I mention I am exhausted??) are a few snapshots of my kiddos in their Kissing Hand headbands =)
By the way, I am loving my class...of 
wait for it, wait for it....
13 kids!!!
You can find the pattern in my Kissing Hand Pack on TPT and TN for only $2.50

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Kids are Coming! The Kids are Coming!!

I feel a little like Paul Revere when I say that, "The kids are coming!  The kids are coming!"
But they are.
Monday, in fact!  I worked and had meetings all last week...met most of my kiddos Thursday night and am almost ready to share photos of my classroom.  But then all of a sudden it hit me, yes, my room is finished basically, but I have NO PLANS for next week!!  I mean, I have some thoughts.  I have some ideas...some resources (thanks to the TPT sale) but no REAL plans.
So that is what I will be doing in my room tomorrow, because as I said, the kids ARE coming!

Here is at least one picture of something I have done...the french fry board I finished up before Open House...I plan to let my kiddos take the "fries" during word work and sort their names into the correct order of letters.
All I did was spray paint large craft sticks yellow and then used a wide tip Sharpie to write the letters on both sides.

My inspiration is two-fold.  Below is a picture of a bulletin board I did MANY years ago using McD french fry holders, which I think either had their progress monitoring improvements or their AR point totals...

And then here is a much later pin I made off of the Creative Teaching Press Pinterest board which is using my Dots on Turquoise...LOVE! 
(click on the picture to see the pin....I couldn't find the original source)

Here is one more picture of mine:
(I have to say, I LOVE the banner style border!!!)

And here are some of my purchases from the TPT Sale...linking up with Blog Hoppin'!

I love everything I bought from these fabulous sellers!  But there was so much more I wanted to buy!! lol

Monday, August 13, 2012

Bundles, Sales, and Love!

Don’t forget today is the last day of the TPT Sale!

I have my new Common Core Opinion Writing Pack on sale...also Label It! Beginning School, Smelly Spelling, all my ‘Let’s Make’ Craftivities, Glyphs, Literacy Starter Pack, Froggy and Chicken Little Lit. Packs....and More!
Visit my store here!
I had a request to Bundle my Labeling Packs...done and done!  
There are two packs, one Basic and one Seasonal. 
If purchased individually, each pack would be over $30!
And in a last minute show of love (or craziness), I decided to include the bundled packs in the sale!  That makes for a HUGE savings!!
And a HUGE thank you to all the folks that have purchased packs yesterday, today, and over the last year!  I appreciate all of you! I work really hard to create things you can USE easily in your classrooms for not a huge cost!  I hope you have enjoyed your purchases as much as I have enjoyed making them!!

(adorable graphic by MelonHeadz!)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Guest Blogger: Mrs. Wheeler!!

Guest Blogger: Mrs. Wheeler
Hello friends of First Grade Blue Skies! My name is Megan Wheeler and I am a first grade teacher and blogger over at Mrs. Wheeler’s First Grade.  I have been blogging for almost two years and I love it! It consumes way too much of my time!!  If you’d like to learn a little more about me, click here!  I am excited that Jennifer has let me do a guest post for her awesome blog!!  

I am going to post about what I know best: Writing Workshop! I did my Master’s Thesis on this and feel very comfortable teaching it.  In fact, writing is my favorite subject to teach.  But…when I first started teaching 9 years ago, it was my least favorite! Today, I am going to share some basics with you about the workshop.  

I am sharing with you what works for me.  This is after 7 years of trial and error.  I have been running a very smooth writing workshop for about 4 years now, and hope that you will find these ideas helpful in implementing your own workshop.  If you are interested in any of the resources that I use/mention in this post, please check out my Writing Workshop Start up Kit.  It is geared towards first and second grade.  

Prior to beginning (day 1 of writing), students and I web all the ways we use writing and discuss why it's important.  Next, I do a think-aloud where I talk about things I COULD write about vs what I SHOULD write about.  I make it very clear that in our classroom, we write about real things that have happened to us.  It’s very important that right away students understand that while we learn the writing process, we will mostly focus on real events (personal narrative writing).  

Below I will highlight the main points of the workshop, weeks 1 & 2 (beginning of year):

Week 1 
  • I do TONS of modeling, thinking out loud, and writing.   I do not spell words incorrectly.  While it's important to model stretching words, I prefer they are spelled the correct way so the students can see how they really look. 
  • I always keep my mini-lessons quick and to the point (no more than 7 minutes).  I end my mini with modeling a "turn and talk."  Students turn to a friend and share their idea for a story.  Off they go to their seats to write. *I do not let them color until after they have written words and sketched a picture. 
Independent Writing time:
  • Prior to beginning, I really make a huge deal about how serious writing time is.  I expect the room to be at its quietest during writing.  Students are allowed to whisper if they are discussing their stories.  During the first week or two, I float during independent writing time, pointing out "smart things" that students are doing (capital letters, thinking of an idea and putting it on the paper, etc..)  I only expect about 5-7 minutes of independent work time at this point. As students "finish" a piece, they are allowed to add to an old story's picture, add to an old story's words or get another paper and start a new story about a different topic.  An anchor chart of this is included in my writing start up pack.  I have paper trays in my room and the students are trained to get up and get paper without asking or telling me. I put several types of paper out for differentiation of ability levels.  A variety of paper templates are also included in my writing pack.
After the workshop share:
  • Early in the year, I choose 2 students to share what they have worked on that day.  *It does not matter if they are finished with their story or not.  They show what they have worked on, and tell about their plans for tomorrow. Students then give compliments out.  It takes some time to get students familiar with appropriate commenting.
  • I continue to do lots of modeling, thinking aloud and writing.  However, now I start to choose one skill that I want students to work on (don't overdo it!!), such as spacing, a capital letter at the beginning, etc...This is my main focus for the week (or longer, depending on how they do).  
Independent writing time:
  • If my class is ready, this is when I begin conferring with 1-2 students per day.  I prefer to keep a composition notebook, with a page for each student.  I work 1-on-1 with the student during his/her conference, and other children know not to interrupt.  The notebook is nice because I just flip a page and move onto the next student the next day.  I am sure to hit all my kids each week.  I make notes about what the student does well, and give lots of praise.  I also note something that we worked on together.  I always tell the student what they could improve on...BUT I am careful to only choose one thing (handwriting, stretching words, spacing, etc..)  More conferring ideas are included in my writing workshop start up pack.  
After the workshop share:
  • As stated above, early in the year, I choose 2 students to share what they have worked on that day.  *It does not matter if they are finished with their story or not.  They show what they have worked on, and tell about their plans for tomorrow. 
I hope this helps you.  Please visit and become a follower of my blog,
Mrs Wheelers First Grade to read more about this and other topics.  I will be having a big giveaway once I hit 1,000 followers and reach my 2 year blogging anniversary on August 26!! Stay tuned! Thanks again to Jennifer for letting me stop by!



Back to School Sale! Giveaway, too!

Announcing the Annual Back to School Sale at 
Teacher's Pay Teachers!
August 12-13th
At my TPT Shop!
All my ready made packs will be on sale 20% off!

Get your Extra 10% off with the following code:

I am also having sale in my Teachers Notebook Shop 
for 20% off, too!
I didn't even realize there is a page for giveaways at Teachers Notebook... Find it here! (and click to enter mine!!)

First Grade Garden is having a linky party for shops running a 
sale at TPT! Check it out!!

And Blog Hoppin' is also having a linky party for folks participating, too!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Thrift Store Gold

I finally got a chance to go to some thrift stores, something I rarely get to do with two toddlers.  I was looking for a chair, but instead I found a great little table, which I was incorrectly calling a telephone is actually a step table (but I think either works =)  I got it for only $4.99!!
 I forgot to take 'before' pictures...but it was just plain old 70's style wood color.  I spray painted it with Kilz and then spray painted it turquoise.  Next I used painter's tape to outline the rectangles and spray painted them with black chalk paint.  
(love it)
Love the rainbow chevron rug?  Thank you, Bubbly Blonde Teacher!!

I used a paint pen to outline the rectangles...acrylic paint for the bog circles and voila!

I also bought cardstock (sort of) type banners at Target from the Party aisle and have them now across my windows!

And the last thing I worked on (that I took a picture of) is the first day frame...I had to jump on the bandwagon and make one!  

Linking up a little late with Miss Nelson (whose room is TDF)
Check out the party:

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Opinion Writing for Common Core and Freebie

SO I (like most teachers) have been looking over, having professional development on, and learning about the Common Core Standards.  They are being implemented fully (in Language Arts) this year here in AL and one major shift I see is the amount of focus placed on opinion writing!
Look at our standard for first grade:

W.1.1 Write opinion pieces in which they introduce the topic or name the book they are writing about, state an opinion, supply a reason for the opinion, and provide some sense of closure
Don't get me wrong, I have always taught about opinions.  And my kids have written about their opinions.  They have given a reason for their opinion.  
But this standard seems to take it to the next level.  
I needed to create a plan.  Now I am not saying this is an all inclusive plan...but it is a start.  And I have to say with 119 pages, it is pretty good. =)
I have been working on this for what seems like an eternity.  
There are also three specific book related prompts:
Pigeon Wants a Puppy
Can I Have A Stegasaurus, Mom? Can I Please?
I Wanna Iguana
Check it out and I hope you love it!

Find it on TPT and TN
It's on sale right now!

Go to TPT and click download preview to get the 
freebie page below.
Hope you are having a great Sunday!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Currently, Pen Pals, & Brochures

Linking up with Farley:

So in other news, I signed up to be a pen pal over at:

You should get over to Teacher Idea Factory and sign up, too!!
Love her blog! =)
Sour Apple Studio
and if you still haven't created a brochure, don't forget that I can create a custom one for you!
Here is the listing on TPT

Here is some of the feedback so far:

 Hope you all have a great day!  I have got to get some stuff done!!  ACKKK!