Monday, February 27, 2012

Winner Announced!

Hi Everyone,

I just wanted to announce the winner of my giveaway!

Tammy, check your inbox!   Thank you for participating!!  For those of you who didn't get to win the packet, I wanted to let you know that I will be having a 15% of sale off everything in my store on Feb. 29th in addition to the 10% off that TpT is giving.  Don't forget to enter code L2P9Y on Wednesday to get a total of 25% off my packet!

My cart is full already and I'll be checking out more teachers' stores that day!  Enjoy and happy Monday!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

100th Day Celebration

We had a blast celebrating the 100th day of school.  Most of my students came with their 100th day projects and they were so creative!  They made groups of 10, 5 and 2.  Some of them included all three in their projects.  Here is a sampling of some of the great work they did.

We also worked on the 100th day art project where the children got a cut out of 100 and they had to create something from it.  I reminded them to be creative and gave them some clues but I didn't have a sample to give them and had them do it on their own.  I was impressed with what they came up with!
We had a great time celebrating 100 days of first grade!  

Happy Saturday!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Techie: How I Use my iPad

I love my iPad for numerous reasons (Words with Friends, Facebook, Scramble, Flipbook, BeJeweled, etc.. )  but I really love it for how I can incorporate it into my classroom.  My generous and loving husband was sweet enough to buy me an iPad for our anniversary earlier this year.  (Well, he gave me the funds and I stood in line one morning and they happened to have enough that day for me to pick up the one I wanted.)  At first, I just enjoyed it for myself with the apps I mentioned before but then I realized that there are numerous educational apps that I can use to make my life easier.

I may have also mentioned that our district is NOT the most technologically advanced district in California.  Our computers are about a thousand years old. (Not literally but with how technology changes, anything over 3 years old is about a thousand years old.)  We have one computer lab for 900 students to share throughout the week and if something breaks or goes wrong, most of the staff members are not willing or able to fix it because they are not that into technology so they just leave it as is.  

We do not have Elmo document cameras, no Smart boards.  We have 3 projectors for our school.  One is attached to the computer lab, one stays in the cafeteria and the other one is the one that 40 teachers can share.  Luckily, no one uses it because, as I mentioned, most of the teachers look at technology as a nuisance and ANOTHER thing they have to learn more than something that will make their life easier.

Last year, I taught third grade (long story and will have to wait for another blog entry in the future).  Last year was also when our district went from 20-1 in K-3 to 32-1!  Teaching over 20 third graders was not that difficult since they are able to work independently and are more "mature." 

Well, this year, I switched back to my first love-- teaching first grade.  Having more than 20 first graders can be a nightmare-- especially in September because they are just little babies and there's so many of them with varying needs.

It was especially difficult to make sure that they were on the right page or on the right number when we were doing something whole group.  Long story short, I realized I can use my iPad as a document camera by either using the camera mode to take a picture of what I am doing or in the video mode or by using an app called BoardCam

I like this app because you can write on it, use a pointer, take a live picture, video, etc.. It has made my teaching so much better.  (Those of you with Elmos-- you are SOOO lucky!)  My husband works for an electronic company so he was able to let me borrow a projector to use in my classroom so I don't have to use the school one incase someone else needs to use it.  I also had to purchase Apple VGA Adaptor to connect the iPad to the projector.
Here's how I set it up.

You can also take a picture of the document or page you will be working on and show it on the screen. 

I also recently downloaded Gradebook Pro to my iPad to calculate grades.  Although we are standards based right and don't calculate grades by percentages, I still input the grade in so that I can see how my students are doing.  Our district is on its way to adopting Common Core Standards but I still find this app to be useful for me.  It calculates everything for me!

Are you lucky enough to have an Elmo or Smartboard?  I sure wish I did!  But this is the next best thing.  the only thing I wish I had was free wifi to show some educational youtube videos to my students but I can actually connect my iPhone to do that.  That's improvising for you!

Happy Monday!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

HM Spelling!

I am super excited for this post because I've worked hard on my HM Spelling Homework packet so that I can upload it to my TpT store.  I don't have a whole lot in my store yet but I'm hoping to create quality products that can be used in the classroom.  After working on my packet, I have even more respect for all the teachers who create and sell things there.  It takes A LOT OF TIME!!!

I created these worksheets to go with the spelling words I use each week for my students.  At first when I made them, they were very basic but then I realized that I could "jazz" them up and share them with other teachers.  I used the extra spelling words from the wonderful ladies from Made for 1st Grade.  (Who by the way ROCK!!!!)

Some of the concepts covered include writing the word 4 times each to practice writing the spelling word, configuration/shape boxes to recognize the shape of the word (tall letters, little letters, and letters that extend below the line), and reading comprehension-- where the student has to read a sentence and figure out which of the spelling words would make that sentence make sense.

Now for the exciting part!  I will be doing a giveaway of my HM Spelling Homework packet for Themes 3-10.  To be entered in the drawing, you just have to do the follow things:
1) follow my blog and post a comment saying you do so
2) follow my TpT store and post a comment in this entry saying you do so

The giveaway will close on Monday, Feb. 27.  The winner will be announced and contacted that day.  *EDIT*  I decided to do this because I just got an email from TpT saying they will have a sale on Wed. (10%) so I'm also going to throw a sale so that you can get additional discount on top of that.  :)

In the meantime, you can download theme 7 (all three weeks) as a preview/freebie here.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

It's Almost the 100th Day!

The 100th Day of school is finally coming up for us.  It will be this Tuesday.  Every year for first grade, I send home a 100 cut out and the students have to decorate it and glue on 100 objects in groups of 2, 5. or 10.  We have been learning how to skip count by 2's, 5's and 10's so it's the perfect way to reinforce those skills.  I also made a sign to hang on the top of my door after being inspired by so many bloggers who have done that to greet the kids in the morning.
I also cut out 100 on the Ellison die cut machine so that my students can make a 100 cut out design.  I saw the idea floating around pinterest and I think the original owner of the idea is Michelle Gagne.  I am so excited to see what they will come up with!
The kids will also get to decorate this crown from Julie Lee on TpT.
This is the template for the 100th Day Collection Project.  In years past, I used to cut out each template on cardboard.  But with the increase in class sizes, I wasn't able to do that.  I also used a thick poster board instead of cardboard.  I don't know the exact dimensions of the 100 but it takes up less than half of a poster board. 
One of my students turned in his early.
Here are some of the projects my students did in years past.

I love how creative they can be!  This was my class 2 years ago (only 20 kids).  They all did a great job on the project.  I also have them do a short oral report on what they did, what they used, and what kinds of groups they made.
Here is the letter that I send out.  
Get the letter here.

Did you have fun celebrating the 100th day of school?  I'm excited for what my kids will bring in! 

Friday, February 17, 2012


TGIF!  Despite it being a "short" week, it felt pretty LONG to me!  It was due to the fact that we had a rainy day on Wednesday and when it rains, it pours.  Literally and figuratively.  Our district went from 20-1 in K-3 last year to 32-1.  Luckily, I only have 27 students but 16 of them are boys!  I don't know what happened!!  They are little darlings though and have come a long way since the beginning of the year.  Remember my post the other day about my finds at Lakeshore?  Well, here's a before picture of my calendar area and an after.
I am loving the fact that I can now have a word wall in my room too!

I was able to get some old keyboards from school and made these awesome keyboards so that my kids can work with words and practice typing their high frequency words.  I got this fantastic idea from First Grade Fresh's blog.  I am so thankful for awesome bloggers who have inspired me with new ideas for my classroom.

Here are one of my little munchkins hard at work.  I love that they can work independently and are so engaged in learning!
Here's another one of my little darlings working independently writing/stamping words using the Word Work Activities from Babbling Abby from The Inspired Apple.  I bought every single one of her word work activities and my kids LOVE them!
At the beginning of the year when I first discovered TpT, I bought the Calendar Companion from The First Grade Parade.  I would write it on the board and it would be sometimes difficult for my students to follow along.  Our district does not have funding for Elmos or Smart Boards so I actually set up my iPad as a document camera.  More on that in another post.  Anyway, I love the Number of the Day activity from the packet so I created the Number of the Day for my whiteboard.  I laminated those pieces and cut the middle of them out so that I can write directly on the whiteboard.  It is so much easier than trying to draw all that every day.  My students can now do this all by themselves and it's a wonderful way to reinforce many skills in math/number sense.
I am loving my new calendar, whiteboard, and word wall area.  The things on the side are like a "pride wall" area.  I have a picture of the kids' faces printed in color, their name, and hang up a monthly writing activity.  The kids love looking at a picture of themselves.  

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.  Look for a giveaway to be posted sometime this weekend.  In the meantime, enjoy this sub report form. 
Download the document here.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


I've been hard at work over the past couple of weeks revamping my spelling homework packet pages.  I was already making them for my own classroom but they weren't as "pretty."  After looking at many teaching blogs, I was so inspired that I decided to jazz up my spelling homework pages and came up with these.  I've included Theme 7(all three weeks) for a free download.  If you would like the rest of my packet, you can purchase it in my TpT store!  
Download the Theme 7 sampler here.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Fabulous Finds: Lakeshore Outlet

Hello everyone!  I just wanted to let everyone know about something I JUST discovered in California and after 13 years of teaching!  We all love Lakeshore Learning Store for their adorable products for primary education but we don't always love their prices.  Especially with budget cuts and what not, we just CANNOT afford to purchase the lovely pocket charts, games, activities, and furniture because it is just too much.  

The other day, I decided to bite the bullet and purchase a new calendar pocket chart for my room because my old calendar just wasn't doing the trick.  The pocket chart was going to cost $90 plus tax.  I went to Lakeshore in Carson, Ca with the intention of buying it full price.  Little did I realize that Carson is the headquarters for Lakeshore and there's an OUTLET there.  I'm talking Lakeshore products for 40-75% off!!  Sometimes the products had some missing pieces or the box was damaged but you can also find discontinued items because they changed the box or it was a return.

the outside of the store
the entrance to the outlet.  There is also a regular store.
rows and rows of books, games, furniture
more eye candy
more products

I could have stayed there for DAYS but I pried myself out of there by the skin of my pants.  And luck would have it that they had the calendar pocket chart and I was able to buy it for $35 plus tax!  All the pieces were in tact.  It was in there because the box was damaged!  Oh the joys of finding a bargain!!!

Have you ever been to a Lakeshore Outlet store?  If there's one near you, you should definitely check it out!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

We survived!

I don't know what it is about holidays that makes the little munchkins go crazy. I think the main reason it's like that is because of the fact that we veer off our regular schedule. Despite their excitement for the festivities of passing out their valentines, they were so well behaved (as well behaved as little first graders can be!) We actually got to do reading centers, a little bit of math and then it was time for them to pass out their treats.

While each team passed out their cards, I had them work on a heart coloring activity and also write/draw a card for their parents. Those that were done with both those activities got to read their cards. I also requested that they NOT open any of the candy but enjoy those at home.

Some of my V-day swag from the children.
Cutest cup from one of my kids. What a great idea!
I hope all of you survived today!!