Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Christmas in July Sale!

***TPT update: The site has been down most of the day, but is now up and running. I am extending my sale thru the 26th. 

My seasonal items will be placed on sale for just one day: July 25th. {Teachers Pay Teachers will be offline until Wednesday 8 a.m. (EST).}

I will have my most recent back to school math problem solving packets on sale.

You can visit my store here. {click on the picture}.

First Grade Schoolhouse TPT store

Monday, July 23, 2012

Organization: Literature Books and Book Tote

Courtesy of  dazeychic

I just LOVE children's literature books! I have quite a collection. I have spent the last few summers sorting and coding them. They're in colored baskets in my classroom library by topics. 

What I am finding, though, is that I keep collecting, but I don't keep an ongoing inventory of them. That's my next step.

I've recently signed up for Pinterest. I had no idea that it would open up a whole new world of ideas, sites, and blogs. 

A few of my finds for keeping track of a classroom library of books:

Book Retriever App

It allows you to scan, level, and inventory your classroom library. It even gives you leveling choices. You can find it at iTunes.apple.com.

You scan the barcode on your books and the scanner fills in the information. You can access your lists on your computer or iPhone. They even have a discount for teachers. You can get more information about it here.

And speaking about children's literature books . . . I hope you know about Shawna's blog: The Picture Book Teacher's Edition.

It's instantly apparent that she loves children's literature books. She reviews them, suggests reading skills and strategies, and also posts some activities. Her expertise is a wonderful resource. Click on the picture to visit her site.

I have to share my new teacher tote for all those books I cart back and forth to school. 

I love the colors!

The inside of the tote. Another pocket on the other side {so handy}.

My sister made the tote for me. I can't wait to use it this school year. The material looks like it was made for teachers. Do you see the apples on the handles? So CUUUTE! I'm trying to convince her to sell them in her Sandy Beach Creations Etsy shop. I'll keep you posted if she does.

Happy book collecting to all of you!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Blog Tips and Resources

Hi blog friends. Today I want to share a new site that I found and love. I came upon it when I googled one of my many blog questions. It can be so frustrating when I find information on a site that is too technical or doesn't give the information that I need. Have you ever had that happen to you?

So, I was pleasantly surprised when I found Kira's blog, Her New Leaf. She blogs about  crafts, home, DIY, blogging, and her interests. I generally enjoy her style of writing and especially appreciate her BLOGGING tips. I have these bookmarked for quick reference. If you go to her site and click on the Blogging tab, you'll see this.

Clever title, isn't it?

Here's just a sampling of what you'll find.

What I especially like about the site is that she has simple to follow directions for bloggers. She purposefully writes the information so that even beginning bloggers can understand it.

Click on the pictures to find her blog. I hope you find it as useful as I do.

Enjoy your Saturday.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Blog Awards

I was nominated for the Liebster and One Lovely Blog Awards. I already have both awards, but I wanted to thank these creative and inspirational bloggers for the nominations. I hope you will stop by and visit their blogs.

Hoppin Into First
You'll see her "before" classroom pictures on her blog. She's moving classrooms this year, and so she's  starting to get ready for the new school year. It'll be fun to see how her classroom progresses.

The Teaching Bug!
Check out Julie's post on classroom organization. She has a great way to save make up work for children when they've been absent. She also has a FREEBIE "While You Were Absent Folder Cover" you can download.

Leading and Reading
You will have to read her post today. It's her "What's Your Guilty Pleasure?" response to a Linky Party. Do you have any of the same guilty pleasures?

005 Watkins' Way
Candace also has a list of guilty pleasures you'll want to read. Along with her list, she's posted an "In our classroom" FREEBIE that you'll want to check out.

Little Miss Bartee
Don't miss out on a "Game Rules" poster that you can download for FREE. It describes behaviors for children when they win or lose a game.

The following amazing bloggers nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award. Thank you. I'm honored.

Kristi and Crystal
Teaching Little Miracles
They have a post about some first grade blog giveaways. You'll be able to see Kristi's post on classroom desk arrangement ideas.

Tori's Teacher Tips
Make sure you read her post about Pinterest and eduClipper and some great finds.

Fun Games 4 Learning
You'll want to see her collection of Math Brain Teasers.

Versatile Blogger Award Rules:

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.

2. Include a link to their site.

3. Include the award image in your post.

4. Give 7 random facts about yourself.

5. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award.

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

7 Random Facts About Me

1. I teach at the the same elementary school that I attended as a child.

2. I love to play board games . . . which is what a group of us do on GAME NIGHT at my sister's house.

3. I am a PUG LOVER and have 2 precious girl pugs.

4. I am a VERY early riser. I'm at my best in the morning and get so much done then . . . before the hustle and bustle of the day begins.

5. My favorite dessert: cheesecake - plain New York style cheesecake.

6. And with that cheesecake, it's got to be coffee {black, please}. I always have coffee first thing in the morning.

7. I love hanging out at bookstores and libraries. I wish I could buy all the books I want for my classroom, but the library is a wonderful alternative. I check books out by the armful.

I nominate the following bloggers for The Versatile Blogger award:









Mrs. Cypher






Enjoy visiting these blogs.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Must Have Picture Books

The Teacher Wife is having a must have picture books {linky} party.

I have so many "must have" picture books, so I thought I would narrow it down to a few that I always use during the first week of school.

This book is a must on the first day of school.

It's a wonderful ice breaker on the first day of school. With so much anticipation on that first day, it's a nice way to lighten things up and laugh together . . . especially when Cookie falls into the toilet. And then many children have pet cats, so it opens up a wonderful discussion about the antics of their own cats. Tomie dePaola is my favorite children's illustrator, so there's another reason it's a MUST HAVE.

You can read it to the class and then have them write a book about their week.

Graphics by Scrappin Doodles

Click on the picture to download a copy.

I want the children to know that everyone is special in their own right, so a couple of others are:

Both of the authors in these books do a wonderful job of portraying the message that each person is unique and special in his or her own way. Be yourself. Again, you'll hear lots of laughter from the kids as you read from both of these books. They always think it's hilarious that the baby is laughing and clapping at Stephanie's ponytail in the picture. I have multiple copies so children can sit side by side as they reread these over and over again. And, by the way, all these books lend themselves to making PREDICTIONS.

The children write and tell about themselves especially during those first few weeks of school, so this is a great book to read. It's also helpful when brainstorming ideas about their likes and interests.

Be sure to check out the huge list at the Teacher Wife.

Saturday, July 14, 2012


Why autumn in the summer? It's because I think of autumn when I think of back to school activities.

Beautiful autumn.

Courtesy of 

It's my favorite season of the year. I hope to visit the New England states during the autumn months someday to see the changing colors of the trees . . . something I've only experienced thru pictures. 

I do love the subtleties of autumn that we have in California. The crispness in the air and the anticipation of the holiday season uplift me. I have an innate desire for homemade during this season. Soups and baked goods. Pumpkins on the doorsteps, sunflowers in the gardens, and a few scarecrows scattered here and there. It's my time of year.

So, I made a packet of teaching materials befitting the season.

This packet includes literacy and math activities and centers. A peek of what is included in the packet:

Autumn Web
Take a Survey Apples and Pumpkins
Let's Write an Autumn Poem!
Hootin' About Owls
My Life as a Pumpkin Booklet
3 literacy and 3 math centers

And here's a glimpse of the Pumpkin Scarecrow Glyph/Craftivity:

Graphics from Scrappin Doodles
Isn't he CUTE? He even has a pocket for his reading bookmark!
Click on the pictures to visit my store and download a preview.

You can download these BOOKMARKS and  SCARECROW BRACE MAP from the packet for free HERE.

Now back to summer. Enjoy your day.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

New to Pinterest

I think I was one of the few I know who hadn't signed up for Pinterest. But as of yesterday, I'm an official Pinterest pinner and repinner.

I've actually been gluing my "cut out of magazine" ideas to boards for a long time. I guess you could call it the OLD SCHOOL way.

Needless to say, I'm thrilled with Pinterest and already have to limit my browsing time.

A few pictures of my OLD SCHOOL board ideas for the house:

Kitchen ideas are my FAVORITE!

My Pinterest boards are all educational. I'm just getting started, but I'd love for you to visit my site.

As I was perusing the internet, I started looking at fun ideas for student handprints and footprints and came upon the site, That's Adorable. You'll have to take a peek. Her handprints really are adorable. My favorite is the USA shuttle . . . how clever.

Enjoy your summer day,

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Teaching Writing

Our district will be using the Common Core Standards for writing in the fall. I've been reading Lucy Calkins' The Nuts and Bolts of Teaching Writing to prepare for the new school year.

First grade children come to school with a range of writing abilities. It can be a real challenge meeting the needs of children with such varying skill levels.

Lucy Calkins quotes the American poet, Lucille Clifton:
"It's important to nurture your image of what's possible. we can only create what we can imagine." 
Calkins goes on to say that it is important to remember that if children can write one sentence, then they can write two sentences. If students can write a few sentences, then they can write pages of sentences. If students write stories, then they can over time include story structure in their writing. Children can then write in a range of genres and for different purposes.

This excites me! One of my goals is to work on extending my students' writing abilities beyond what I imagined in the past.

A few points from my reading:

Writing letters should be tied to an emphasis on conveying meaning or content.

Some children who are not ready for writing sentences will benefit from labeling pictures they have drawn.

Support and scaffolding are important as children are sounding out words at first. But, it's important to release the scaffold in a way that students can continue on their own. We will need to accept approximations as they write more independently.

The writing workshop is launched with asking children to think of something important to them and then drawing a picture of it.

I plan on using this idea during the first week of school. I made some drawing/writing worksheets to go along with it. You can download them by clicking on the picture.

Graphics courtesy of Scrappin Doodles

On to reading. Enjoy your Sunday!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Some First Year Teaching Tips

Teachers are sharing WIT and WISDOM with Deb, at Fabulously First. Her question:

Well, that immediately takes me back to my first year teaching. {I can't believe I started my career as a 6th grade teacher!} So much has changed, but I think my "loving wisdom" would be the same.

First of all, remember that it's a journey.  Don't get overwhelmed with all that you think you should do (especially the first year). You'll grow with experience. Prioritize and focus on what's most important.

Get to know your students' strengths. They will amaze you!

Take time in the beginning of the year to establish a classroom management system. It will take students LOTS of practice, but the time will be well spent. They need (and want) structure in order to learn.

Get ORGANIZED. It will help you survive the first year {and beyond}.

Be a lifelong learner. Take every opportunity you can to grow in your profession. Read, read, read professional books and attend workshops and conferences whenever possible.

And lastly,

Know that you've just started an amazing career and ENJOY it!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fourth of July Sale! and Back to School

Graphics courtesy of KPM Doodles

Click on the picture to go to my TPT store. All items are on sale today!

Thinking of Back to School?? I just added these to my store.

Johnny Appleseed and Fun with Apples

It's Back to School First Graders!

It's Back to School Second Graders!

Enjoy the barbecues, fireworks, family, and friends on this Fourth of July!