February 27, 2011

So How Do I Stay Organized?

Growing Kinders is having an Organization Linky Party and I wanted to share some of the ways I stay organized so I'm not in constant chaos!

Let's just begin by saying that I've always been pretty darn organized with all my white binders labeled by subject, papers in place, books in order, and book bins labeled.  This year, since moving to first I feel like I'm all over the place.  Papers in random piles, books out of place, and supplies stored in random spots.  This is the worse nightmare for any teacher who likes things in place!!  I'm slowly working on weeding through items that I don't need for first grade so they can be put into storage.

1.  I have found some items to be EXTREMELY helpful in first grade.  I'm beginning to place everything in binders based on themes so they'll be easy to get to next year.  File folders drive me CRAZY!!

2.  I also bought this storage cart at Target that I  absolutely love.  It was a bit expensive but it has worked so well for my Guided Reading Groups.  In the small bins, I place magic tape, markers, and other reading supplies that I can grab quickly.  In the larger bins, I labeled each one with a reading group.  I keep all of my materials for each group here-reading group lesson plans, folders, books,  and wipe off boards.  On the top, I keep my container of alphabet letters and a binder with running record sheets, reading plan sheets, reading strategy bookmarks, and possible word work lessons.

3.  I also bought a storage shelf at Target that holds bins.  Each one holds different materials for Daily 5 (word work, writing, math, etc).  I can easily grab what I need and put it back in it's place.  On the top of this I have 2 laptops that kids can also use during Daily 5.  They have the option of going to Raz-Kids or Lexia.  What I love is that it's useful for storage and takes up very little space.

4.  Storage bins-who can't get enough of those?  The clear ones are perfect because you can quickly see what you need.  I store all of my holiday items and math manipulatives in labeled bins.  I also bought small bins from the Dollar Store that hold all of our class library books.  Each bin is labeled with a favorite author or theme.

5.  I also made a daily schedule for the kids that's laminated and has magnets on the back.  I change it as our schedule changes.  This makes it so easy for the kids because each morning they can look at the board and see what our plans are for the day.

February 7, 2011

Valentine's Day Holders Complete

Last Friday we made our Valentine's Day Holders.  Students did a great job of following directions to create this heart shape holder.  When your child has finished making his/her cards sent them in and he/she can begin passing them out.  

Reading Strategy Buddies

I hope your child has been using our Reading Buddies when at an unknown word.  They know them all now: Eagle Eye, Lips the Fish, Stretchy Snake, Chunky Monkey, Skippy Frog, Flippy Dolphin, Tryin' Lion, and Helpful Kangaroo.

The kids like having the Beanie Babies in class to use as a reference and of course to play with.  I <3 hearing students tell me which reading strategy they're going to try when in reading group.

These little buddies have really helped teach the strategies!

Lyon's $$$...I Want Some!!

Lyon's Money has been a BIG hit in first grade.  I used this system in 3rd and thought I'd try it out with the younger kids.  Students get paid for weekly classroom jobs (ex. line leader, caboose, lunch bin carrier, errand runner, etc).

They can also lose money for not completing homework or for inappropriate classroom behavior.  At the end of the month the Lyon's Store opens and kids browse and shop!  This is a great way for students to practice counting and to make difficult decisions on if they should buy or save.

Most of the items for the store are bought at the Dollar Store but kids go wild!

February 3, 2011

Meet the Teacher

Cara from The First Grade Parade came up with this great idea for teachers to answer questions about themselves.  Her blog is great and has provided many lesson ideas.  I find myself reading so many first grade blogs.  Here's the link to her page.

The First Grade Parade

A bit about myself.  I graduated from the University of Maine.  I began my career as an ed tech and then had the opportunity to be a long term art teacher for a year!  After that I was hired to teach 3rd grade and taught for 6 years.  Now, I'm in first grade.  Change was difficult but I finally feel like I'm in a groove and have adjusted to working with the younger kids.  I'm grateful to have found so many useful blogs to help with planning, ideas, and lessons!  I also have wonderful teammates who have supported and helped me this year.

I was married over 2 years ago on Lanikai Beach in Hawaii.  Sun, sand, beach...and oh yes, Matt was there too.  It was PERFECT!  It still amazes me that I actually got on MANY planes to get there with my fear of flying but I had always wanted to go back because I was born in Honolulu.

We have a cairn terrier who is 8 but still acts like a puppy, always ready to play!

Now for the Q & A
Q: What would you be doing if you weren’t a teacher?                                             
A:  I would love to tap into my creativity more.  I love photography, painting, and anything crafty.  I often find myself trying to include my creativity in the lessons I teach.

Q: What are your hobbies?                                                                    
A: Running, hiking, anything crafty  

Q: When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?     
A:  A paleontologist.  I wanted to get down and get dirty finding bones!

Q: What are your guilty pleasures?                                                  
 A: Um, that's easy.  Lets say a 5lb box of peppermint patties can be very dangerous!  My grandmother introduced me to these and has always called them "delicious treats."  I want to believe that I introduced my former teammate to these delightful chocolates and am responsible for her current addiction.  These helped us survive many days.  We even calculated that 3 a day would be completely fine for caloric intake.  As I ventured on to first grade she bought a new supply right when I was trying to get off my chocolate kick.  I get a chuckle when staff members sneak into my room throughout the day to get their hands on a few.  I just might have them all addicted soon!

Q: What is your biggest fear?!                                                           
 A: Flying, heights, and not being in control

Q: When you’re on vacation, where do you like to go?                   
 A:  Anywhere the sun is!

Q: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?                                  
A: From my dad...make sure you always take care of yourself first.  I fall into the category of "people pleaser" too often.

Q: What do you value most in others?                                                   
A:  Genuine people and honesty.

Q: If you could choose one of your personality traits to pass down to your kids, what would it be?                                                                                        
A: No kids yet but I would have to say my sense of humor.  Lets just say moving to first was quite a culture shock.  I would tell a joke and they would just stare at me.  They are so literally at this age but NOW they get humor!!

February 1, 2011


I finally had a free moment to get a blog up and running!  I wanted parents and other teachers to get a look at all the great work going on in my classroom.  You'll see lessons and pictures of our daily lives in first grade.  There is never a dull moment.