2012 | Peace, Love, and First Grade


I know many of you are already out for the holidays! We have a half day of school tomorrow and then we're home until January 7th! Hip! Hip! I do love Christmas Break!

Do your students love animals? One of my students' favorites topics each year is learning about animals, all kinds. In December, however, they ADORE learning about reindeer! We read fiction and nonfiction books about these fascinating animals, and the kiddos eat them up!! 

Here are some of our favorites!

Obviously, we love Jan Brett's The Wild Christmas Reindeer!  Need I say more? A wonderful story!

Are you familiar with this next book?
It's a precious story of a family who find an injured reindeer. Such a sweet story!

I love using this book in the classroom because
most of my kiddoodles can read this one by themselves.

 How about some nonfiction books?
The next two books are loaded with fun and interesting facts about reindeer!
They are also full of beautiful pics!

Remarkable Reindeer is easy-to-read  and fun! This particular book is great for use with informational text features.
It has an easy to read table of contents, glossary, etc.
 I love these Science Vocabulary Readers.

 Maybe it's Rudolph, but there is certainly something magical about reindeer!
Whatever it is, we've had a blast learning about them this week!!


Instead of your normal Halloween party, this year, we decided to create a Science-filled Halloween celebration!
These kiddos had so much fun!

Halloween Science Activities
We made Witches' Brew!
Halloween Science Activities

Halloween Science Activities
We made goopy slime!
Halloween Science Activities

Halloween party fun
And we did a little mummy wrapping.
Okay, not really Science related, but fun!
Halloween party fun

Halloween Mummy classroom door
All mummies are welcome!

Happy Halloween to you all!!


I have not been a very good blogger lately! Life sure happens quickly!
I'm going to try to do better...
Let's just move on, shall we??

Book Boxes on Parade

 Most of the classroom shots we see on blogs are "best behavior" photos. So, I ask you...
Does you classroom ever look like this??
This picture was taken after Daily 5 one day. Seriously, what were they thinking??
Look at the one out there in the middle of the room. Really?? 
We have all been assigned our classroom jobs now, and two little pumpkins are in charge of this area. Whew! Thank goodness!
 Signs of Fall
We are all about scarecrows in first grade right now.
Together, we labeled this little guy.

Then we created our own scarecrows and wrote about fall.
I love it when the kiddos have no patterns and just create.
Look at these sweet friends!


This smiling friend was made by tracing and cutting a pumpkin pattern, then cutting the pumpkin into strips and gluing onto paper. We added the face and stem last. So cute!
Paper strip jack-o-lanterns -love these fall crafts!  
 There's something about fall and kiddo's artwork that makes me smile!

Happy Fall! 


 Love for Splat the Cat
If your first graders are anything like mine, they LOVE Splat the Cat!
Who am I kidding? I love Splat, and I'm not a cat person.
Honestly, though, how can you NOT like Splat??

If you aren't a Splat fan now, maybe this post will change your mind!
You all know the "I Can Read" books, right?
Well, Splat has his own series of "I Can Read" books.
Here are a few I have in my classroom.

These books are actually fun little stories.
 The best part, besides being Splat, is the inside cover.
Each book focuses on a different word chunk! How cool is that?

Now, after my kiddos read the books,
they can go back through and highlight the word family words they find.

How much fun is that??
We love some highlighter tape AND we love some Splat!!

 Happy Fall, Y'all!
I hope your first week of autumn is beautiful!!


It's 11:31 am on Thursday, and I'm at home.
It seems our tropical friend Isaac decided to visit today.
I use the term "friend" loosely.
I think most would tell you he's overstayed his welcome!

Well, at least he's kept the lights and air conditioning on this time.

Seriously, though, I can't imagine what my neighbors on the coast and in Louisiana are feeling today.
We, in Jackson, were spared the worst of it. We still have homes.
Some of our coastal neighbors' homes are completely underwater.
In Plaquemines Parish, LA, the flooding is worse than when Katrina visited.
And we all remember that.

A little geography lesson for those who are interested:
Jackson, MS sits in the south-central part of the state. A little to the west.

We are 3 hours from the MS Gulf Coast (depending on who's driving).
We are also 3 hours from New Orleans (again, depending on who's driving).
Some would say we are 2 1/2 hours from both.
On the eastern side, we are 3 hours from Mobile and 4 hours from Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.
When a hurricane hits the Gulf Coast, we feel the effects!
But not nearly as much as our neighbors to the south.

Please keep them in your prayers!

So on this Hurricane Day, I actually awakened at 6:30 and got out of bed around 7:00. 
Why? I don't know. 
But, I've been able to get some work done this morning,
in my pajamas.
I have 6 activities I'm working on right now. 

This is my progress:
Activity 1-complete and ready to print
Activity 2-complete and ready to print
Activity 3-complete and ready to print
Activity 4-75% complete
Activitiy 5-50% complete
Activity 6-Mostly in my head, about 5% complete.

Here is a peek at what I've been doing. All 3 of the following packs include a Sight Word game with the first 200 Fry words AND the directions and recording sheets for a Musical Words game.

These three have been uploaded to TpT.  They're $3 each.

I'm working on Thanksgiving and Christmas now, too.
When the creative thought hits, you run with it.

You can purchase the bundle of 4 at a discounted price if you are interested in that.
I'll try to do that this weekend.

I hope your Thursday is a sunny one!!


Hellooo, Bloggy friends!!
I have just completed the 12 days of B2S!
You know what I mean.
You get home from school, and all you want to do is sit and stare...
or lie down and sleep.
FINALLY, I feel like I can type a somewhat sensible post.

My camera has been a little ill lately,
 so my classroom pics are at a minimal.
 I hope to post a tour soon.
 Until then, I'll show you my label makeovers.

My room is blue and green this year,
and I wanted my labels to match.

Old Labels- So Sad!!
These are what my old labels looked like. Oh, my!

I wanted something new and fresh that matched my color scheme.
I decided to shake things up a bit and put my labels on sticks.
I tried dowels, but they were a bit large.
A friend suggested chopsticks-such a great idea! 

They worked perfectly!

Here are some of my labels now! 
You can find my UPDATED labels at TpT. Click the pic to take a peek.

New Labels-So Happy!!

Classroom Supply Labels
 I attached the chopsticks on the inside of the pails and
back of the labels with clear packing tape.

Classroom Supply Labels

Classroom Supply Labels
I like my warm colors and cool colors separated...I know...

Classroom Supply Labels
 The extra markers go here.

While I was at it, I made new Days of the Week
 and Months of the Year cards.
Classroom Supply Labels
You know, we are all about Peace and Love in my classroom!!

Classroom Supply Labels
Obviously, the months are seasonally based.

Classroom Supply Labels
I made Focus Wall cards and Writer's Eye cards, too!
My little Purple Cow was busy!!!
 I do love the way they turned out, though. 

Classroom Supply Labels

Once my camera is feeling better, I'll take classroom pics!

Have a great day!

How do you Teach Short Vowel Sounds in Kindergarten and First Grade?

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!

Short vowel activities for practice and review

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? 
Short vowel activities for practice and review

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!
Short vowel activities for practice and review
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. 
Short vowel activities for practice and review

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.
Short vowel activities for practice and review

Short vowel activities for practice and review
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. 
Short vowel activities for practice and review

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

Short vowel activities for practice and review

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.

Short vowel activities
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.
Short vowel activitiesI 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!

Short vowel activities for practice and review
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!

Short vowel activities for practice and review
So, how do you teach short vowels?

Happy weekend, y'all!