SOOO Late to the Party

I am incredibly late to Amy Lemons' linky party but am linking up, nonetheless! 
I'm taking a cue from several other bloggers and working the ABC's of Me post!

Here goes:

A- Age: This will be my 22nd year to teach. You figure it out...

B-Beach or Mountains: Beach-love a beach chair, an umbrella, and a book.

C-Chore you hate: Dishes, laundry, dusting, mopping, I could go on.

D-Dogs: Of course!

E-Essential to start your day: An alarm clock. I'd just keep right on sleeping!

F-Favorite color: I love bright blue! All shades: aqua, cobalt, etc.

G-Gold or silver: white gold or silver, not gold.

H-Height: 5'4"

I-Instruments you play: None at all! I spent my childhood in a tutu!
Wish I could play something now!

J-Job title: First grade Teacher! Hope to retire here!

K-kids: I have about 22 at school, 3 nephews I call "mine", and several friends' kiddos!

L-Live: I'm a Mississippi Girl! Love the South!!

M-My mom's name: Fran (Mama)

N- Nicknames: LaLa and Martan (long story from college)

O-Overnight hospital stay: Yes, tonsils when I was 3! You stayed overnight then.

P-Pet peeves: Read this post! Poor grammar! 

Q-Quote from a movie: "I'm just one stomach flu away from my ideal weight!"

R-Readng right now: Just started The Thirteenth Tale.

S- Siblings: One older sister-she lives nearby.

T-Television: Yes, please! Right now I'm hooked on Ryan Lochte,
I mean the Olympics!

U-Unknown Fact: I absolutely love New Orleans!  The culture, the arts, the whole feeling! Yes, it's hot as heck most of the year and oh-so crowded at times, but I love it! It helps that it's only 3 hours away!

V-Veggies you dislike: I just really like the little kid veggies-carrots, corn, etc.

W-What makes you run late: Distractions

X-X-rays you've had: Teeth, chest, wrist, and the "really fun one" at 40

Y-Yummy food you make: I make a great Chicken Bowtie Pasta. It's totally not my recipe but is completely yummy!

Z-Zoo animal: Giraffes-love them!

Happy, Happy Sunday, y'all!


First of all, do you know how easy it is to hit the "b" when typing the word vowel?
Without editing, this whole post could have been about short bowels...Oh, my!

Let's face it! Short vowels are hard to teach and difficult to learn!
 What's a teacher to do?? Well, I have some questions for you. 

1) In what order do you teach the vowels?
2) How long to you spend on each vowel?
3) Do you teach vowels using word families?
4) Does that seem like a lot of questions?

I've been in education awhile, and it seems like every few years, we're told something different from the "experts" about teaching Phonics. You're thinking, "But wait, I thought we were the experts!" Ahh!

Thankfully, for first grade teachers, most students come to us knowing the sounds short vowels make. But the littles who don't-Whew! Seriously! 
How do the PreK and Kindergarten teachers do it?? Insert pat on the back here.

So, how do I teach short vowels? 

We spend about two weeks on each sound.  I teach them in this order-a, i, o, u, e. I save "e" for last. It's so similar to "i" and let's face it, we don't really use that sound much in the South...
Image from Kinderglynn

See what I mean? In the South, that rhymes.

I introduce/review the sound on Monday during Morning Meeting. If there is literature available using that sound, I use it. For instance, Joy Cowley's Dan the Flying Man is great for introducing short "a". It's available in big book format and in 6-packs with CD! They can listen all week!
Image from The Wright Group

We use large letter cards to put short "a" chunks together. For instance, the letter cards "a" and "d" make -ad. We then add a beginning sound to that chunk (-ad becomes "mad"). We make as many chunks as can brainstorm. 

We do these types of activities every morning for the two week period we cover the vowel. During the first week, I post my Read the Room cards (see below), however, the kiddos don't complete this activity until the second week. I like having the cards up for them to read that first week.

From the beginning of the year, I teach my students to use Elkonin Boxes. See this post for directions on these very powerful tools for segmenting sounds. I use sound boxes EVERY DAY in small groups, and once kiddos feel comfortable, they use them independently in word work stations. They also complete short vowel booklets which reinforce the use of sound boxes and using words in contextual sentences. 

This one was letting her peace tattoo "set!" Ha!

During the two week period, we complete A LOT of short "a" activities. I want these pumpkins to habituate that sound and be able to make and break words easily. This is truly the first step in seeing how words work. 

Here are a few more items I created and will use with my kiddos.

I created a Read and Write the Room for each short vowel (cvc pattern). All packets contain 24 cards and a choice of recording sheets.
I will keep these word cards posted on the wall for the entire two weeks we cover that vowel. You can read more about Read and Write the Room here.

I also created "I Have, Who Has" games for each short vowel. The cards and words match my Read and Write the Room packs. 
We will play these games once a day during the two week period. We'll time ourselves and try to beat each day's time. The kids love this!

We also spend quite a bit of time reviewing sounds throughout the year. Here's an example of a Monday Phonics chart. 

AND-I like to throw in a few sneaky reviews-where the kiddos don't realize they're reviewing. My kiddos love puzzles, and Lakeshore Learning has such great quality! 
They offer a 4-letter version of this puzzle, too.
The vowel practice never stops! Ha!

So, how do you teach short vowels?
Happy weekend, y'all!

May we talk about grammar and y'all???

  My name is Laura, and I am a grammar freak! Actually, grammar and spelling.
I admit it. Please don't judge. I cannot help it. I have tried.
FYI: I only correct first graders. I DO NOT correct anyone else.

I'm not talking about grammar as in "writing your blog like you talk" or typos.
I'm talking about the blatant misuse of the English language. AND spelling-oh, my! 

And, by the way, I use dictionaries and spell-check a lot!
I don't profess to know every grammar rule or how to spell every word but I do my best to find the answers.

I attribute this to my eleventh grade English teacher.
Each time someone spoke incorrectly, that student put a dime into a jar.
Seriously! The 1980's-you could do that then!
At the end of the year, we had a pizza party with our poor grammar loot! 

When you are 16, you try very hard to hold on to every dime you have!
Thus-grammar freak!
May I say I learned a lot in that class?

How do you spell y'all?

I have friends who call me to ask how to spell words or if certain sentences sound okay.
I am happy to help.
This past week, one of my friends saw me write this word-y'all.
She told me we spelled that word differently and asked if her spelling was wrong.
She spelled it like this-ya'll.
I smiled. She knew the answer and asked me to show her why.

So, blogger friends, here it is:
The correct spelling of y'all explained.

Y'all is a word. It's in the dictionary as a contraction. 
It follows the same rules as all other contractions. Except those rule breakers like won't.

1) A contraction starts with two words.
2) Some letters are taken out of the words and substituted with an apostrophe.
3) The two words are put together as one word.

you  +  all
you  +  all
y'     +  all

Does that make sense?? 

May I tell you how therapeutic that was?? Wow!
Would it offend anyone if I had a little grammar therapy on my blog?
I'm a Southern girl. We don't like to offend, you know.

Happy Sunday!


If you saw my Read and Write The Room post this past spring, you know how important I think it is in the primary classroom.
If you missed it, I'll give you the basics.
1) I use Read the and Write the Room every week to support a specific phonics skill we will work on the following week.

2) I found out years ago that asking a 6-year-old to walk around a print-rich classroom and find certain word chunks might not be the best idea! Some got confused. Some were intimidated by all the print. And some just forgot what they were doing. Seriously!

Imagine someone asking you to go to Walmart and write down all the -ay words you saw. Really?? Hmm...Completely overwhelming to children. Well, I came up with my own way.

This is "my way"---I know I didn't invent it. I was thinking Frank Sinatra here.
I place Read and Write the Room word cards around the room after the children go home on Friday. These word cards all contain a phonics skill we will work on the next week.
Then, the next week---

I introduce the skill on Monday, and the students must complete their Read the Room activity sometime that week during Daily 5. On Friday, we take the cards off the wall and come together on the carpet with our clipboards, pencils, and recording sheets. We check this activity together using the SmartBoard.

The kiddos check their work and keep their cards beside them
 until their word comes up on the Smartboard.

Students match cards to the Smartboard words and tell us how they sorted their words.

After matching cards to the Smartboard, students place their word cards in the chair. This way, I don't have to take the words off the wall. Whatever it takes!!
This little girlie is smiling because I asked her to "freeze" while I got the camera.

I have 27 different Read and Write the Room packs in my TpT store, plus several sets and bundles, as well.

Each individual packet sells for $2.50, with sets and bundles ranging from $3 - $10.
Bundles are 20% off and like buying 4 and getting 1 free.
SO...if you plan to purchase all 5 sets, make sure you take advantage of the bundle. 

Here's a peek at the bundles! I had a lot of fun making these!
Click the pics to take you to my shop!

3 different  recording sheets are provided to assist you with differentiation
 or other needs you may have in your classroom.

I hope you enjoy these! Please let me know if you have specific Read and Write the Room packs you would like to see!

If you've never tried Read and Write the Room, I encourage you to give it a shot.
It has made my life much easier!

Happy Sunday!

Do you like SPAM? and 7 Random Things

Our school district changed over to a gmail server this past spring.
They have asked us to check our SPAM frequently and delete accordingly.
Have you ever really taken a look at your SPAM?
I  don't mean opening the emails.
I'm talking about the sender and message title???

Well, in my SPAM today, I was...

***asked to send money asap to the UK
***encouraged to buy a Rolex
***urged to meet Christian singles
***offered help in lowering my debt
***offered help in enlarging certain body parts overnight (parts I don't have)
***reminded to collect my lottery winnings
***asked to sell my time share
***called "my dear" at least 3 times
***offered a date with a "blonde wife looking for dates"
***spoken to in a language I cannot read
and a few other emails I really shouldn't discuss here...oh, my!

So, do you think they are all SPAM?? I deleted them all before opening.
I hope I made the right decision! Especially with the lottery win and timeshare offer.

One more piece of SPAM trivia: Did you know they offer a recipe on each SPAM page?
Today's recipe was for SPAM Veggie Pita Pockets.
I've attached it in case you would like to try!

I have yet to answer the questions that go along with The Versatile Blogger Award-
so here they are!
7 Random Things about Me
1) I get a kick out of checking my SPAM emails.

2) I am a classroom decorating nerd. I seriously spend a great deal of time getting my room just like I want it. Love it! Seriously!
Love a scrunchy border!

3) I am single, as in not married, no kids. I do have kiddos I consider mine, like my 3 nephews, several friends' kids, and every child I've ever taught. : )

My soon to be second graders on the playground this spring with
 my precious assistant and me!
(and some crazy green frog we had for the day)

4) I had a heart scare 3 years ago. It seems an infection found its way to my heart. I went through many tests, a heart cathe, and cardiac rehab. I take a pill everyday and see my cardiologist every 6-9 months. I'm also supposed to exercise regularly and eat right. Small price to pay for life.
Take care of this!! :))

5) I LOVE Sour Cream and Onion potato chips, specifically LAYS!! I could eat a whole bag at one sitting! (I don't, but I could.) Do you see the nutrition ingredients here?

6) I get a spray tan when I go to the beach then spend my time in the comfy beach chair under the umbrella. I LOVE the beach and the sun, but those other things (wrinkles, age spots, skin cancer) I don't want to deal with at all!
This is where I want to be!!

7) Even though I won't be taking part in the "Find Christian Singles Online," I am a Christian! I believe Prayer is powerful and sometimes Faith is all we have! I am also a firm believer that the way you live your life is the greatest testimony one has. Talk is cheap! Put your words into action! 
Happy Weekend, Friends!

JULY Currently

It's July. Hooray. Can you tell I'm excited?? I'm not.
July to a teacher means one thing: Summer will not last forever after all! Hmmm...

Farley's Currently makes it a little easier to take, so here's mine.

These Olympic Trials have me fascinated! I love The Olympics, really, I do!

I also love my new blog design! If you are reading in Google Reader, click over!
I didn't create this design so I can brag a little, right??
Erin at Creating and Designing did this beautiful job! LOVE. IT!

I ate too much sushi, and we need the rain.
Makes me shudder to think of fireworks Wednesday!

Have you read Goin' Someplace Special by Patricia McKissak?
I had the pleasure of hearing Mrs. McKissak speak at a Children's Book Festival,
 and she told the story behind this book.
It's a story about her childhood and tells of the power of the written word. Love so much!

Chalkdust is probably not what you have in mind for a resource book, but it's a go-to book of mine. It has been since I received 2 copies for college graduation in 1990.
It's a collection of devotions written specifically for teachers-by a teacher.
There is a sequel called Recess. I have it, too.

My favorite devotion:
For the "Why Aren't I Doing Anything Important?" Blues

It begins this way:

"Oh, Father,
How small this world of the classroom is,
bounded by alphabet charts and chalkboards,
bookcases and maps.
And how far this world seems
from the adult circles of money and prestige.
While other adults work together in those circles,
I am alone
among a throng of scurrying, chattering little people."

Elspeth Campbell Murphy
Chalkdust, 1979

Love these two books!
The links will take you to Amazon!

Happy Monday!!
Click my Currently to link up with Farley!

A Tale of Two Erins and Bonus Coupons

First off, THANK YOU to all those who have purchased
 my Classroom Coupons at TpT and TN!

I love using these coupons in my class!
 They are easy to implement, and only 1 requires any money.

Well, I've added to the pack.
 There are now 30 coupons in the packet.
 If you have purchased my coupons,
please re-download and check out the 10 bonus coupons included in the pack.

If you haven't purchased and want to check them out,
 please do! They're $ 2.50.
Click here for TpT or TN!
Thanks again (SO MUCH) for your support!!

Now, back to the title-
Two different Erins have made my day!! 
Erin #1
Erin at First with Franklin has awarded me The Versatile Blogger Award.
I'm extremely honored!

She has some great ideas and some crazy cute dogs, too!
 I love finding fun, new blogs! 
Go check her out!

The rules for this award are as follows:
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.  Check

2. Include a link to their site. Check

3. Include the award image in your post. Check

4. Give 7 random facts about yourself. post, I promise!

5. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award.
Oh, my! This part may take me a while!

6. When nominating, include a link to their site.

7. Let other bloggers know they've been nominated.

Erin #2

Have y'all seen Erin's blog at Creating and Teaching??

Yes, that Erin with the oh, so cute ideas!

Well, she also has a blog called Creating and Designing,
and guess what she's designing for me???

While I'm making over my classroom, I thought it would be a great time to make over my blog, and Erin's doing it!
Y'all, Erin has been AWESOME!
We emailed back and forth about 20 times! 

She is so patient and incredibly talented!! 

You must check out all the other hip blogs she's designed!
I can't wait for you to see mine!!

Happy Sunday!!