Telling Time

Well folks, being sick and in bed has some advantages!  I finished my Telling Time Printables Pack this weekend!  It's a total of 55 pages right now, but I'd like to add additional prompts for use in our math journals. 

I think getting kids to write about math is so, so important!  It forces them to articulate their thinking, and trains them to put abstract concepts into concrete explanations. I know it's a tall order for firsties, but with modeling and support I think they can do it!

I found these adorable little clocks at my Dollar Tree, and since they were so cheap (4 for a dollar!) I bought enough for the entire class to have one while we're learning to tell time.  

And to top if off, today we made our own clocks!  A post on our clocks project will be coming soon!

Collecting Box Tops

My school is collecting box tops, and there's a contest among the classes to try to bring in the most.  First grade has been lagging behind (we're not even in the top three!), so I came up with something that has really incentivized my students to bring in box tops.  And that thing is . . .  

a PIGGY BANK!  I told my kids that whoever brings in box tops gets to put them in our piggy bank.  (They asked me what our pig's name was, so I had to name him on the spot.  I decided to call him Wilbur, although none of the kids got the reference!)  I got this piggy bank a few years ago at Target, for no other reason than that I thought it was adorable. I think Target still sells them, although maybe not in this color anymore.  (I've seen fantastically cute piggy banks at Home Goods as well.)  

Anyways, my kids are DYING to drop box tops into Wilbur, and since I came up with the idea on Monday, four kids have brought in entire sandwich bags of boxtops.  (I know four kids doesn't sound like that many, but it's a huge jump from ZERO, which is where we were before.  I had been subsidizing our class's box top contribution thus far.)  True, it's a little bit more work using the piggy bank, because then I need to pry the cover off the hole in the bottom, take a few moments to get out all the box tops (some of them have been surprisingly difficult to pull out), and then squeeze the cover back over the opening before putting all the box tops in the envelope they're supposed to be turned in with.  But it's either that or being the class that isn't contributing, so I do it!

Learn from me, however: you need to trim the edges of the larger box tops (or those that haven't really been trimmed at all) before the kids drop them in, otherwise they're difficult to get out through the hole in the bottom.  

If we're going to win this thing though, I'm going to have to figure out something else to get those box tops in.  Maybe I'll give kids a trip to the treasure box for every ten box tops they bring in?  Something to think about . . .

Reading Fluency Resources

I don't know about you, but the reading program my school (Imagine It! by SRA) doesn't really have a good reading fluency assessment system that I like.  SO, I've been looking around the internet for other resources that I can use to track my firsties' fluency.  Now, I know they say you shouldn't test for fluency until at least the winter of first grade, but I start testing fluency from the first week of school.  I always have at least a handful of kids who can read when they enter first grade, and I like being able to track their growth over the first few months of school (instead of waiting until December or January).

Here's a link to the passages I'm using this year to test my kids' fluency:

Just download the pdf file, and then you have everything you need for grades first through fifth in one file.  (Very handy.)  Now that the whole class is reading (albeit at widely differing levels), I'm testing my students' fluency every other week.  It's a lot of work, but it really gives me a good quantitative measure of how they're improving, as well as giving me some hard data to use during conferences with parents who believe their first grader is ready to read Chaucer.  (I'm only slightly exaggerating.)  

I keep all my fluency assessment sheets in a two-inch binder, with numbered dividers to keep each student's assessments separated.  (If you haven't already assigned each student a number, I highly recommend doing so.)  Last year I only had 28 students, so I was able to buy the dividers with tabs numbered 1-31 (which presumably are meant to be used for the days of the month), but now I have 35 students, so kiddos 31-35 are just separated by paperclips.  I'm pretty sure Staples has dividers that are numbered through 50, but I just keep forgetting to stop on my way home from school -- and when I do happen to remember, I tell myself I'll stop in another day, because getting home and into sweatpants trumps any need I may have to organize this binder.  

Here are a few more links that have good resources for reading assessment:

Rubrics for Reading Fluency:

It's a lot of work to get through 35 students every two weeks, but I use my guided reading time during literacy centers every other Monday morning. The worst is when a student is absent, and then I have to find time to make up their Running Records assessment.  But quite honestly, I often times leave their score blank for that week, and just test them in two more weeks with the rest of the class's next round of fluency testing. 

I'd love to hear about the systems you use to test and track your students' fluency! 

Word Walls

I'm embarrassed to say that I am just now putting up a word wall.  I've been using pocket charts to show the words we're currently working on, and the kids have their Word Journals (new post on Word Journals coming soon!) in their desks to use when writing, but I realize it's not the same as seeing the words on display. 

I ordered the entire set of Really Good Stuff sight word rings to use for my Word Wall (see below), but I'm worrying now that the colors just don't look that good when they're all so close together. But I paid a fortune for these suckers, so I'm making them work! 

I put contact paper over the cabinet doors after I taped the words up so I could slide the doors open without destroying everything. It's getting bubbles underneath though, which is annoying me.  If anyone has any tips for using contact paper, let me know!! More pictures to come as soon as I finish. Hopefully by Monday evening I'll have everything complete!

Substitute Teacher Binder - New Freebie!

I recently decided to make my substitute binder a freebie in my TPT store!  

Here are a few of the pages that are included:


Please leave feedback in my TPT store.  Enjoy!

New Year, New Hobbies!

As I've written in a previous post, I've taken up the piano!  But I've also recently rekindled an old hobby of mine as well: art!  Except this time, instead of using traditional paper and pencil, I've been using the Paper by 53 app on my iPad, and the corresponding Pencil stylus . . . so I guess I'm still using Paper and Pencil!  Painting on the iPad has taken a little practice, but I'm starting to get the hang of it! I'd forgotten how relaxing it is to just sit and draw or paint for an hour or so. 

My favorite part of this app is the watercolor feature.  I love that when you hold the stylus (or your finger) on the screen, the color will pool in a very realistic way, creating a fine, slightly darker ring of color along the edges.   For the painting of the trees above, I used the watercolor feature, as well as the marker, colored pencil, and pen.  

I want to brainstorm ideas on how I might utilize something like this in the classroom during our art lessons.  I can't afford to buy my kiddos $60 styluses (they'd have to use their fingers),  but I think it would be fun to see the kinds of things my students could create with something like this.  

And I just realized what the best part would be of using this in the classroom: zero clean up!  No paint brushes to clean, no water cups to dump out, no stained shirts, no spills!  Don't get me wrong, I know there is a definite need for the tactile messiness of hands-on art projects.  But this would be a cool addition to all of that too, don't you think?  Hmm, but then I'll have to use a fortune's worth of color cartridges to print their work . . . Sounds like a possible Donors Choose proposal?  Something to think about . . .

What do you think?  Have any of you other blog readers used their iPads for art in the classroom?  I'd love to hear your comments!

Updated Prayer Packet Bundle on TPT!

For those of you who have purchased my Prayers Unit Bundle on Teachers Pay Teachers, go online to  download the updated version!  I recently added activities for the Hail Mary.  

Included in the Prayer Units Bundle: