Friday, August 31, 2012

Mad Scientist Monday (on Friday)

I finally remembered to bring my camera home!  Here are some pics of the experiment we did on our first Mad Scientist Monday:

We started by making an hypothesis about what would happen to the food coloring/milk if we dipped a dry q-tip, a wet q-tip, and a q-tip soaked with dish soap into it. 

First, the dry q-tip - this one made no difference.
 Then a wet one (a little color mixing).

Then we dipped the one with the dish soap and the colors went crazy!
The kids thought this was beyond cool!!!
I also made the kids a science journal where they could record their learning.  There were some things I need to tweak, so hopefully I'll be able to post the science journal stuff here.  Have a great long weekend!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wacky Wednesday

Apparently, I was REALLY tired (or completely asleep) on Monday when I wrote the blog post.  Ya know how I said I was gonna go get on the treadmill?  Ummm, yeah...we don't even own a treadmill!!  Seriously, I mean it.  Now, we do have an elliptical machine, which was my most romantic 14th anniversary present (can you sense my sarcasm?), but the only person I know with a treadmill is my Mama who lives about 900 miles away in Kentucky (and that's a little to far to go for a workout on a Monday night).

So I know you've been waiting on the edge of your seat for the pictures from Mad Scientist Monday, and I was all ready to post some, but when I went to get in my bag to get it, I realized that I left my camera at school.  Yep, seems to be par for the course this week!  So I'm gonna go to bed now and hope that the last couple of days ends up better than the first half of the week!  Just remember - it's a LONG WEEKEND!!!!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Ugh! Monday!

I was going to blog about our Mad Scientist Monday today (which went great by the way), but it's just been one of THOSE days.  You know the ones - the ones that start with your daughter yelling from the other room, "Mom!!! Logan has blood everywhere!"  Yep, one of those!  Don't worry, he's fine (just fell out of his chair and busted his nose on the floor), but I'm exhausted, so Mad Scientist Monday pictures will have to wait until tomorrow!  I'm gonna eat my homemade french bread pizza (piled up with fresh tomatoes, onions, and basil), try to get on the treadmill later (as long as I'm still awake), and then go to bed.  See you tomorrow!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Pete the Cat and Some Zoo Plates

I have to say that I originally was less than impressed with Pete the Cat.  I bought I Love My White Shoes at the Scholastic book fair at the end of last year and when I looked through it, I thought, "Really?  What is all the hype about?"  Now wait a minute, all of you Pete the Cat lovers, let me finish...
but before school started this year, I went online and listened to it.  THAT made ALL the difference!  I am now officially a Pete the Cat lover.  And, the best thing about it is that I have also recruited the rest of my first grade team to be on the Pete the Cat bandwagon too.  The music really does it.  If you aren't sure about Pete and haven't listened to the music, you've gotta go listen now (click here).  My kids had such a good time reading a listening to Pete that we decided to make Pete.  This was sort of a spur of the moment thing.  I just passed out some blue paper and gave the kids simple directions ("draw an oval and cut it out - this is Pete's body.")  I think they turned out pretty good (considering it was a last minute thing and I am SOOOO not an artist.  This is why I let the kids make their own!):

This turned out to be a very cool activity because it served as a shape review, a fine motor activity, and when I asked them to write the sentence underneath, a writing lesson.  Look at all that learnin' goin' on!

We also had some fun with zoo plates and math last week.  We were introducing part-part-whole models.  I had seen somewhere this summer (probably on Pinterest) where  a teacher used zoo plates to show the two parts in the small section and then how to put them together as a whole in the large section.  It just so happened that the day before we did this lesson, I found these cute printables from Wild About Teaching:

Animal Plate Math-Counting, Part-Part-Whole, Addition, Fac
just click on her blog name to go directly to the link. 
These are free in her TpT store!
Anyhoo, the kids had a blast using the plates (or it might have been the M&M's we were using...):

You may notice that some of their plates were upside down.  That's because our math series puts the parts on the bottom and the whole on top.  I wanted to keep the activity as similar to our math pages as possible so they wouldn't have trouble when we transitioned to doing it on paper. 
We're having a blast this year!  Monday is our first "Mad Scientist Monday" experiment!  The kids are super excited and I can't wait.  Check back to see our little scientists at work!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Tasty Tuesday and Colorful Names - Take Two

Yeah!!! Blogger is finally able to upload my photos.  I'm not sure what was going on, but it was driving me crazy!  Anyhoo, this year, I decided that we would have "Tasty Tuesday" once a month.  This is a day when we would create fun and yummy treats based on what we are learning or the season.  This month, we made school buses.  I gave the kids a graham cracker, some yellow frosting some mini oreos and some M&M's.  I then asked them to figure out how to use those materials to make a bus.  They figured it out pretty quickly and had a lot of fun!

Now they can't wait until next month!

My teammates have the kids make some very colorful name tags for the front of their desks each year.  The kids are supposed to color layers around the shape of their name until there is no more white showing.  This is the start of mine.  I leave white on mine just so the kids can really see how I color a thin layer around each letter, not just color a big circle around the name.  Well, since I am the rebel in first grade that doesn't use desks (not since the year I had a boy who used to store bags of pickle juice and his socks that he "washed" in the toilet in his desk),  I decided to use these as their cubby tags instead.

They turned out pretty well!

This is my new Level Up behavior chart.  I got this idea from Tonya over at Tonya's Treats For Teachers.  Click the link to go right to the post.
We're planning our first Mad Scientist Monday!  Hopefully all will go well. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tasty Tuesday and Colorful Names

Today was our first Tasty Tuesday of the year.  Look how much fun we had:

Ok, maybe not.  Blogger keeps giving me the message that the "server returned invalid response" when I try to upload pictures.  Soooo, I'll try again tomorrow!  Is anybody else having trouble with Blogger and pictures?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

I Survived the First Week!!!

     Yep, I did it.  I made it through the first week.  Sorry about not posting lately, but getting everything ready and getting through the first week seriously WORE ME OUT!  On top of everything at school, I signed my kids up for a gymnastics class (for little man - after watching the Olympics, he said he wanted to learn to do the rings), and a cheer and tumble class for my daughter who said she wants to be a cheerleader when she goes to jr. high next year.  These classes started this week too - ugh!  Don't get me wrong, I think these classes are great for them, but I wish they didn't have to start the same week as school.

       I thought I would share some pictures from my room and some of the things we did this week, so here goes:

This is where the kids turn in the cards from the back of the AR book.  I'm hoping that this will help me keep track of who's reading what (and reduce the number of books that are lost).
Our calendar area and word wall

Our Author Focus wall - we're reading Kevin Henkes books this month.  We made Chrysanthemum from First Grade Wow (just click on the link to go directly to the post and download the Chrysanthemum mini unit).
I also made this really cute frame to use for their first day pictures.  I think it turned out great!

Well,  I was going to post some more pics, but apparently, Blogger is as exhausted by the first week of school as I am and will not load pictures well (it's taken me an hour and a half just to load these).  I guess I'll have to try again later. 

So, for those of you who have started, how did your first week go?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

I Need New Hours

       So today was our 2nd day of "official" pre-planning, and I feel like I got NOTHING done!!!  Anybody else in the same boat?  I've been working in my classroom for almost 2 weeks and there is still sooooo much to do.  How is it that I can work all day and still feel sooo behind?  Let me think through my day. 

   I got to school and turned on the computer to check my email.  Realized email was down, had to submit a work order for it.  Realized other computer was toooo slow, had to figure out how to defrag it (hopefully that worked - I didn't have a chance to check it).

Then, we had an insurance meeting that was supposed to be "quick".   Hahahaha!  Actually, it only took about an hour - we have had them last 2 or more hours, so I guess not too bad.

Then had to go talk to the secretary who had already mixed up the subs for 2 days I need to be out in September. 

On the way back to my room, I had to stop and talk to my daughter's gifted teacher about really important stuff (like the best place to take my daughter for tumbling lessons).  I also had to stop in to talk to my son's kindergarten teacher to let her know who he got for first grade.  Then, I HAD to go pop my head in and see how the new Kindergarten teacher's room was coming along.

I finally made it to my team's planning meeting.  Yeah, that lasted about an hour and a half  (and by that time I was STARVING).  After the meeting, our team HAD to go to our fave Mexican restaurant for lunch (where we met the kindergarten team) and enjoy one of our last relaxing (meaning more than 15 minutes) lunches.

I did have a few minutes after lunch where no one called me, came into  my room to talk, etc., but I didn't get much done.  I did notice, though, that between the hours of 4 and 5, I was able to type 2 emails (yep, email fixed), laminate and cut out all of my name tags, my AR chart, my birthday candles, and my cubby tags. 

I'm thinking I just need new work hours.  Maybe I could convince my principal to just let me work 5 pm to midnight.  I would get soooo much more done if I could work when there was no one here to distract me.  Seriously, I think I would be done tomorrow if that was the case!  Whadd'ya think? 

Oh well, I'm off to sit in front of the TV to watch the Olympics while putting my students' names on all of those name tags, cubby tags, etc. that I cut out this afternoon.  I have to do these tonight because tomorrow we have a meeting from 8-10, then maybe a little time in our rooms before leaving for an hour drive to get to a workshop that goes from 12-3.  I guess we'll have to grab something to eat in the car on the way over.  See what I mean - 5 to midnight - no meetings, no people....if only!

Sunday, August 5, 2012


I'm finally linking up with the latest Currently!  I've wanted to over the summer, but I just got busy and then I didn't want to link up on the last day.  Sooo, here we go:

So how about you?  Head over to Farley's and link up!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Drawing to Write

I have to admit, I was sooo excited when I first got the book Primary Pizzazz Writing.  I really don't like to teach writing and am always looking for resources to help me out.  But when I started reading it, I was like, yeah, this isn't as great as I thought.  That's why I haven't really been posting regularly about it.  Don't you hate it when that happens?

BUT, as I continue to read through it, it's starting to make more sense.  The second part of the book discusses different writing skills that the kids will move through and gives activities for each skill.  I've made it through the first 3 writing skills - recognizing and writing letters, writing words, and making a list. 

Today I read through the 4th skill, "I can draw what I want to write."  Now, I have to admit, and I've said it before, I don't really give the kids as much time as I should to draw.  I'm scared that they'll spend most of their time drawing and won't get any writing done.  We've all had ones like that, haven't we?  But as I read, I'm thinking about how important drawing really is to the kids writing.  One of the activities listed in this section is using storyboards.  Forney suggests starting with a two box storyboard.  Just draw 2 boxes side by side on the paper.  Then, have the kids draw a picture in the first box (for example, a boy holding balloons).  In the next box, they draw what would happen next in their story (ex: he lets the balloons go).

Once the students have gotten the hang of storyboards, you can increase the number of boxes to 3, 4, 5 - as many as you need.  Once they've drawn their story, they can share it with you or with a friend.  This is the first step that really allows them to get their thoughts in order.  She suggests having them write an opening sentence above the storyboard and then a closing sentence under it.  I'm thinking this might encourage my more reluctant writers who might balk at writing a whole story.  This way, they can read their first sentence, "read" me the middle of the story through their pictures, and then read their ending sentence.  Eventually, we can work toward writing the whole story. 

Here is a picture of a free storyboard you can download (although it may be just as easy to make your own):
Storyboard Template
Storyboard Template

On another note, I won't be able to get back in my classroom until I go back on Tuesday (and it's killing me!!).  I won't have a car until then (hopefully).  Let's just say the car took on the mailbox and the mailbox won.  Hopefully I'll be able to get everything done.  They give us a week of pre-planning, but it's so filled with meetings and workshops that time in the classroom is rare.  I'll be sure to post the rest of the pictures when the room is done.

So, have any of you used storyboards before? 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Classroom Pics - And So It Begins!

So I've been pretty busy working in my classroom this week.  Teachers don't actually go back until Tuesday, but as y'all know, we can't wait until the first day to start, can we?  Here are some of the things that have been keeping me busy:
I saw all of those cute pennant banners out there, so I decided to make some of my own.  I'm not quite finished, but I think they're pretty cute - whadd'ya think?

This is where my kids will turn in their homework, notes from home, money, etc. You gotta love free gifts from Highlights!

These are our reading buddies.  Kids can pick a buddy to read to during reading time.

Some of our AR books.  Yep, this is what I've been spending most of my time on.  EVERY SINGLE AR book in my classroom this year will have a library card/pocket.  The kids are gonna have to sign their AR books in and out (I've been losing too many).  I've realized that I have a TON of AR books!

These pictures show my Science Lab station.  My plan is to have "Mad Scientist Mondays" where we conduct various science experiments, working through the different steps of the scientific method.  After we had to give a county science assessment to our kids last year that was heavily weighted on scientific method (for example, one of the questions was, "When would you ask, 'How do you know?' in this experiment), I realized that the science series we have didn't really have a big emphasis on inquiry and method.  We were supposed to get a new science series last year, but was told after we voted that they didn't have the money to get the new books for K and 1, so we were just stuck with the old ones.  The kicker?  The new assessment tested on the info in the new series!  How's that for a kick in the teeth?  So, anyway, we can complain or go ahead and do what we do, right?  So, Mad Scientist Mondays were born.  Who knows?  Maybe my kids will be so excited, they won't want to miss a Monday!

I was tired of not really having enough bulletin boards, so I made my own!  I have the cutest little birthday cupcakes (from Miss Kindergarten) that I'll put up once I have my students' info.

This is where I store my reading and math centers.  Reading on the left and math on the right.  Basically, the kids just find the picture of the center they are going to and then pull the whole drawer out.  They can then go anywhere in the classroom to work. 

Well, that's all I've gotten done so far.  The books are really killing me, but I've been wanting to get them organized and entered on Librarything for a while now, so I'm acually taking the time to do it.  I'll be sure to post more pics as I finish things up!