October Fluency Passages

They're done!  I just posted my October Fluency Passages on Teacher's Notebook and Teachers Pay Teachers.

For those of you that are not familiar with my fluency passages, the unit includes 40 original passages, written by me, myself, and I.  The passages are a variety of fiction, nonfiction, poems, and songs.  Each daily passage includes Power Words (vocabulary), comprehension questions, phonics work, a home connection component and some other type of language activity.  Here are the weekly samples:


Spooky Animals
If you enjoyed the samples and you'd like to check out the full packet, head on over to


Lesson Planning

A couple of years ago while I had a student teacher, I organized all of my year's lessons and materials into a huge binder.  It took a lot of time, but has saved me a HUGE amount of time since then.  Here's how it worked.  I print off my lesson plans for the week, three whole punch them and place them in my binder.  Behind the lessons, I place a sheet protector with one copy of each thing I will need copied for that week.  This way I can just take out my sheet protector and walk it down to the copy room with me. 
Here are my lessons:

Here are my materials in a sheet protector located behind my lessons:
One copy of my morning work is there for the week along with one copy of anything else I would need for that week.  Here is another example:

You can see that this one also has some examples that I will use during this week.
Now, when I first organized this, I didn't have all of the examples and all of the extras in it.  However, as I went through the year and continued adding, my binder looked like this:
Are you kidding me?!  This was a monster on my desk.  No way was this going to work.  So, this year I decided to have a binder for each month instead.  Much smaller and manageable.  Plus, if I want to take it home, I can.  {Unlike that monstrocity above.}
Click on the picture below to download a cover page for each monthly binder.

On another note, I am working like crazy this weekend to finish up my October Fluency Packet and hope to have it posted sometime next week.  I've never come down this close to crunch time on these before.  I have them all written, it's just a matter of getting them typed up and ready to go.  {Excuse time:  I started doing Crossfit.  If you've never heard of it and you enjoy being challenged when you work out, I would look into it.  You can google it or watch some videos on YouTube.  It is seriously, hands down, the BEST workout ever!  I am absolutely beat when I get home.}
But, seriously, I am working on them and will have them ready for you as soon as possible.  Here is what to expect:
Have a great weekend!

Teddy Bear Day

This Thursday, we had Teddy Bear Day in our classroom.  This is my second year doing this and I have loved it both times.  I always get a little nervous wondering if some of my "tough" boys will think it's silly and not get into it, but I've been wrong both years.  Every one of my students loved it.  I told the parents about Teddy Bear Day in my weekly newsletter and then I also sent home a reminder on Wednesday, but I also made sure that I brought some extras to school on Thursday just in case.  Here are some Teddy Bear Activities we completed:
-We thought of describing words about our bears.  I briefly told them that these were called adjectives, but we didn't go into that too much.  We will be learning about adjectives later in the year.
-We predicted how many gummy bears were in a jar and filled out this paper.  {Click on the picture to download.}

-We also made graphs using teddy bear cut-outs.  I just cut out a ton of teddy bears using our Elison and passed out a handfull to each student.

-We compared real bears with our teddy bears.
-We read tons of bear themed books while discussing some great vocabulary words. (I went through each book before reading it and wrote down about 4 vocabulary words on index cards.  Then, I introduced these words to the students prior to reading the book.)  We kept track of them here. {Click on the picture to download.}

-We also completed some anchor charts while reading some of our bear books.

-Then we voted for our favorite book.

I had each of the students leave their bears on their desk when they left for the day.  Overnight, the bears moved.

When the students came in Friday morning, they had to find their bears and write about where they found their bears and why they moved.

The students had a great time and it was a lot of fun to break away from our "normal" routine, while still learning.

The End of Molasses Classes

A couple weeks ago I was asked if I would like to read Ron Clark's new book, The End of Molasses Classes, and of course, my answer was YES!  I loved his book The Essential 55 and I was so excited to read his new one.
Let me tell you, I was not disappointed.  Ron Clark is an amazing teacher that has opened up the Ron Clark Academy, which I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to visit!  Reading about this amazing school gives you so much hope for the future of education.  They absolutely refuse to give up on any child.  They set high expectations, while making learning fun and exciting!  
One of my favorite messages from this book was, "Give all that you have to your children even though you will often receive nothing in return."  This is so true in teaching. Many times teachers may not be appreciated the way they should be, but  great teachers will continue to work hard everyday and not expect to get anything in return. 
Another message that stuck with me was, "Fake it to make it."  We don't always feel like giving 100%, however, our students deserve our best.  This means that some days we just have to fake it and put on a smile.

 This truly is a great inspirational book and I recommend reading it!

Friday Favorites

TGIF...and it's time for my Friday Favorites.
Over at Lesson Plan SOS , they had a cute idea for a "Don't Monkey Around.  We're serious about learning" bulletin board and writing activity that I just loved.
I took the pictures of my students on the monkey bars today at recess so I can do a similar version to this next week.  I'm thinking about doing "Hanging out in 1st Grade" or "Flipping for First Grade."  I haven't quite decided yet.

Another great idea I found was at Mrs. I's Class . She has posted these great labels that can be cut out and used at the bottom of student's writing journals so they can double check their work.

I loved this idea!
We had aTeddy Bear Day this week in our classroom and it was chaotic a lot of fun.  {I like to call it organized chaos.}  The students were SO excited to have a furry friend at school.  I will be posting pictures and tons of freebies about our Teddy Bear Day this weekend!



We have been learning about animal habitats this week.  We started by reading about the different kinds of habitats from our Science books and creating this chart together on Monday.
Today, I gave each group of 5 students a large piece of white paper and assigned each group a habitat to draw on their papers.
Just getting started

Beginning to add some more details and some animals

Wow! There's a lot going on there :)
Tomorrow, we will be completing this habitat sort.  Click on the pictures to download.


September 11th

I know most of us can remember 10 years ago today like it was yesterday.  I was doing my student teaching in a 1st grade classroom when we had a 5th grader come by and tell us that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.  The first grade teachers turned on a tv in the pod area and we all took turns during the day watching the days events while going on with our teaching like nothing had happened so we didn't scare any of the little ones.  That afternoon, some idiot person had called in a bomb threat to our entire corporation and all of the schools had to be evacuated.  It was definitely a day that none of us will every forget.  
However, even though it is forever etched in our memories, our own students were not even alive.  That is just amazing to think about.  Every year I read this book to my class:
 It's a great kid friendly book that I use to lead a discussion about September 11th.  I tell them how I will always remember where I was and how I felt on that day.  I also explain to them that my brother is now in the Air Force because he wanted to help our country after this event.  On Monday, I will be sending this home for homework.  Just click on the pictures to download.

Did you do anything special to discuss September 11th with your students?

Friday Favorites

I have not had a whole lot of time for blogging since the start of the school year, but I am bringing Friday Favorites back today.  I have used numerous things from the blogging world in the last couple of weeks.  My Friday Favorites for this week include the following:
I started using Cara Carroll's Math Notebooks this year from her Calendar Companion and I LOVE them!!!  The daily sheet took quite a while during the first 2 weeks, but already, my students are becoming more independent.  I know that even the ones that need an extra push will be independent in all of these important skills by the end of the year.
In the front of the Math Notebooks, I have students keep a spiral notebook that we use as our Math Notebook.  Each day, I cut out a Math prompt for the students to glue and then solve.  I have been using Anna Brantley's Math Journal prompts and they've been great.  Sure, I could create my own, but why reinvent the wheel.  I'm hoping she will be having some more available for next month ;)  Hint, hint, Anna!

I found this FREE idea at Funky First Grade.  I have scrambled up someone's name with magnetic letters each day for us to do our Name of the Day.  We will finish up next week.  It's takes about 5 minutes of the day and it's totally worth it to see that student's face light up when they are the mystery name.

I have tons more ideas to come that I have found in the Blogging World.  I will share more next Friday :)

Helping Parents Help Their Children

I'm revisiting this post for Throw Back Thursday.
This is my second most view post, so I thought it would be a good one to share again.  It has been shared on Pinterest over and over again.  It's a good resource to hand out to parents at the beginning of the year.

I feel that I am very fortunate as a parent to also be a teacher.  For the most part, I have a pretty good idea of how to help my child succeed in school.  Of course, we will have many bumps in the road, but being a teacher, I at least have a fairly good idea of how to help with school work.  Unfortunately, many parents that we come into contact with, do not know how to help their child in school.  I was reminded of this again today when I had a conversation with one of the parents of a student in my class. 
She was asking what she could do to help her child at home.  She told me that she never felt like a good reader in school and no one from her family had ever gone to college, so she wasn't real confident in how to help her child with reading or math.  She told me that even though she wasn't good at school, she wanted her child to be smart and make something for herself.  Broke my heart!    It doesn't matter your race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, EVERY parent wants the best for their child.
We are having a 1st grade parent meeting this Thursday and I will be giving these handouts to my student's parents to give them ideas of how to help their child at home.  

Click to download

I'd love to hear any other ways that you help your student's parents help their children.
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